A new restaurant in Ohtel (the name was dreamt up by the previous owner) at 66 Oriental Parade is called Duppa Bar (pronounced Duppa like cuppa). It brings to mind the early history of Oriental Bay.
George Duppa was the first known resident of Oriental Bay. He was an early settler, arriving in New Zealand on the Oriental, which left England on 15 September 1839 and arrived in Port Nicholson on 31 January 1840. He had come, as had so many other early settlers, to make his fortune. He was just 21.
Before leaving England he had purchased from the New Zealand Company eight properties in Wellington – each comprising one town acre and 100 country acres. When he arrived in Port Nicholson he discovered that, owing to a delay in the surveys, he could only purchase land in the Wairarapa, which too had not yet been surveyed or even purchased from the Maori.
He therefore, with others, decided to clear ground on the west bank of the Hutt River, only to suffer flooding, a disastrous fire and then an earthquake. George Duppa moved to Port Nicholson. He had brought with him from England a prefabricated house, and he set it up below where the Monastery now stands. It acquired the nickname of Castle Doleful, as he lived there on his own.
Originally the settlers called this area ‘Duppa’ but it soon became Oriental Bay, named by Duppa after the ship that brought him to New Zealand. The area was so remote at that time that it was used as a quarantine station, the patients being looked after by a doctor and nurse in a tent on the beach.
Duppa’s time in Oriental Bay was, however, quite short. In June 1841 Colonel Wakefield asked Duppa to accompany Captain E Daniell to the South Island, to help locate a suitable site for Nelson. Duppa attempted to have his land rights honoured by the New Zealand Company in Nelson. He was refused. In time, however, he was granted the lease of the Lowry Peaks country, and this was the foundation of his huge St Leonards station.
Duppa remained in the South Island until he left New Zealand in 1862. He sold his land for a large amount of money. On his return to England he married a lady considerably younger than himself, and lived the life of a wealthy gentleman. He was one of the first men to make a fortune in New Zealand. Sadly he was unscrupulous in his dealings and even tried to defraud the manager of his St Leonards station, Robert Ross.
It is good to report that Adam Cunningham, the owner of Ohtel and of Duppa’s restaurant in Oriental Bay, is totally different from George Duppa. He is generous and community spirited, and is keen to play his part in the life of Oriental Bay. Call in and discover for yourselves what he offers to Oriental Bay residents.
Ann Mallinson collated the above information from the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.
— Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018