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Painting of the Comte de Paris & the Aube by artist Paul Deacon.

Comte de Paris Akaroa 1840, French Royalty to New Wilderness

Comte de Paris was the Nanto Bordelaise Company’s 501-tonne sailing ship that carried the French and German settlers to a new home in Akaroa, New Zealand. Leaving poverty in France they headed to a new wilderness, and to the first planned European settlement in the South Island, today many of their descendants remain and have formed the Comte de Paris descendants group.

Painting of the Nanto Bordelaise Company French Settler ship Comte de Paris named after the Count de Paris & the Aube by artist Paul Deacon
Painting of the Comte de Paris & the Aube by artist Paul Deacon.
French Descendants Akaroa Comte de Paris Descendants Group
French Descendants from the Comte De Paris still wave the French Flag in Akaroa

Langois’ Banks Peninsula Purchase and Nanto-Bordelaise Company

Langois, a French whaling captain, had made a purchase of Banks Peninsula from Ngai Tahu Māori chiefs in Little Port Cooper in August 1838 and promised to pay a total of 1000 francs.

Returning to France the Nanto-Bordelaise Company was formed and King Louis Philippe’s gave permission in December 1839. A ship called the Mahé was given to the settler company and renamed Comte de Paris after the infant heir to the French throne Prince Philippe d’Orléans, Count of Paris, who was later taken into exile in England during the Revolution of 1948.

A Rough Voyage for the Comte de Paris

The ship departed France on the 8th of March 1840, from Rochefort, and it was not plain sailing. The ship was first delayed by 10 days when it got stuck on a mud bank and cargo had to be unloaded. Later the ship was caught in a storm off Tasmania and lost both of the main masts, already unwieldy and uncomfortable at sea, this slowed the voyage down even more. Two men died aboard and a baby was born.

Arriving at Akaroa, the ship found it could not enter the harbour and instead landed at Pigeon Bay where the French treaty was reinforced with local Māori and two people who had died aboard were buried.

Returning to Akaroa on the 17th August 1840, they found that as they sailed up the harbour two frigates lay at anchor, the French Aube which had accompanied them, as was expected, and the British Britomart.

What was worse, the Union Jack waved from a prominent headland with men gathered below the flag, laying British claim to the French territory, and dashing the hopes of a French South Island.

Britomart Monument British Sovereignty New Zealand

Lost to the British, Treaty of Waitangi

In their absence, the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed ‘ceding Māori sovereignty’ to the British (depending upon which translation you are reading). Whilst Te Tirity (the Treaty) had been signed in Akaroa Harbour on 30 May 1840, the South Island had already been claimed by Captain William Hobson on the 21st May 1840 on the basis of “first discovery” by Captain James Cook in 1769.

tents of French settlement Akaroa

The French settlers’ steps ashore into a French colony within British sovereignty, set up their ships sails as tents and got to work clearing land.

Victor Hugo Les Miserables Akaroa Napoleon Willow

Akaroa was to be called Port Louis Philippe, after the French King of the time, which is strange to think when some of the settlers were avid anti-monarchists and fans of Napoleon.


Comte de Paris Descendants Group

In total 63 settlers traveled on the Comte de Paris, 30 men, 11 women, and 22 children. With 5 acres allocated to each man and half allocation to boys aged between 10 and 15. They lived peacefully and quickly became self-sufficient trading with the whaling ships as there was no other European settlements to trade with.

There is now a Comte de Paris Descendants Group that strives to establish and maintain an archive of information, family certificates and make connections with families in Germany and France.

Some of the settlers eventually returned to France, some moved to other parts of the country, and some remained in Akaroa and prospered. There is now a Comte de Paris Descendants Group that strives to establish and maintain an archive of information, family certificates and other documents of significance as well as connecting links between families and celebrating their special heritage.

The Akaroa French Festival has also held reenactments of the Comte de Paris arrival for many years, the next festival is to be held on the weekend of the 29th April 2022, find out everything you need to know here!

Akaroa French Festival Landing
Akaroa French Fest Festival Landing street theatre and traditional descendants landing.
Akaroa French Festival 2021 2022
Enjoy Europe without leaving New Zealand at the Akaroa French Festival

The 180th celebration was held in 2020 with a beautiful display of the French descendants in the Akaroa Museum, the only local resident to be featured was Marie Haley of The Seventh Generation Tours, descendant of the LeLeivre and de Malmanche families.

Comte de Paris Settlers List.

BenoitPierre LouiseFrench
BernardMarguerite PierreFrench
BouriaudElie Marie (m. Elie)French
BreitmeyerJohann (b. 1804) Johann (b. 1832) Eva (m. Johann) Johann (b. 1838) Elisabeth KatharinaGerman
CébertJacques Michel Jeanne (m. Jacques Michel)French
DavidAnne Guillaume Jean MargueriteFrench
EtéveneauxJean-Pierre Jeanne Jean Baptiste (m. Catherine-Mélanie Libeau) Célestine (m. Jules Véron) Judith (m. Christian Jakob Waeckerle)French
FrançoisJean AdolpheFrench
GendrotClémence (m. Joseph Libeau) Hippolyte Pierre VictoireFrench
GuindonBenjamin Isabeau (née Thibeau, m. Benjamin)French
Le DucIsaacFrench
LelièvreFrançois (m. Justine-Rose Malmanche)French
LibeauArmand Isidore Joseph (b. 1834, m. Clémence Gendrot) Joseph (b. 1807) Madeleine (née Chauvert, m. Joseph) Catherine-Mélanie (m. Jean Baptiste Etéveneaux)French
de MalmancheFrançois Pierre Justine-Rose (m. François Lelièvre) Emeri Victoire (m. Emeri)French
RousselotFrançois Adèle (m. François)French
VéronJules (m. Célestine Etéveneaux) & wifeFrench
WaeckerleChristian Jakob (m. Judith Etéveneaux) & wifeGerman
WalterPhilipp (b. 1795) PhilippGerman

Marie Haley

I am your guide, Marie Haley, I was born and raised on Banks Peninsula. The seventh generation direct decedent of Akaroa’s very first French settler. I grew up on the family farm following in the footsteps of my Grandfather, and his Grandfather before.

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