A large historic metal pot from the early 1800s whaling boom in Kāpiti now features in a picturesque part of Ōtaki Beach.

The pot, which had been used on Kāpiti Island for boiling down whale blubber into oil, had been in Raumati South for a long time before it was donated to the Ōtaki Museum recently.

The museum got in touch with the Friends of the Ōtaki River to see if the group could find a new home for the pot.

The group has placed the pot by a viewing platform by the Rangiuru By the Sea footbridge, near the Ōtaki River mouth.


The pot has a crack in it and is rusted but is still solid in parts.

Friends of Ōtaki River deputy chairman Eric Matthews has coated the pot in engine oil to give it some respite from the elements, and a hole has been drilled in the bottom so water can escape.

An old whale bone, which is nearly fossilised, has been placed by the pot, courtesy of Margaret Baston.

Museum historian Rex Kerr looked into the pot's history and had a solid lead to start on with the lid's inscription 'Falkirk 40 imp gall'.

The pot was made by Carron Foundry, Falkirk, Scotland, somewhere between 1800 to 1840.

It would have had some detail on the side, which could have determined what ship it came to New Zealand on, but rust had eliminated it.

Mr Kerr delved more into the history of whaling in the area which is highlighted on a plaque beside the pot.

The plaque noted the mid 1830s was the peak of the whaling boom on Kāpiti Island with one whale yielding about three tonnes of oil.


"There were about five stations located there and on the offshore islands at this time," it read.

It said Robert Jillett, a late arrival in 1837, was by 1844 the last whaler on the island, operating out of Waiorua Bay.

"He had five boats and employed about 40 men, mostly Māori.

By 1850 whaling had ceased to be profitable and the stations were abandoned."
The plaque also highlights the names of a number of whalers known to operate from the island.

Mr Matthews said the pot was a nice feature which would last for a long time.