In 1858 a Cottier ancestor, Francois, set sail from Plouézec,
France, to Lyttelton, New Zealand, where he laboured as a whaler off the
shores of the South Island.
Determined to be a success in his chosen land, Francois became Francis and fervently saved his pennies.
of the brutality of whaling, he bought land in Canterbury. Francis
wrote to his siblings and ailing mother in France about his adventures,
telling them he wished to replicate some of his homeland by planting a
small vineyard. He urged his brother Pierre to leave France, to join him
in New Zealand and to bring cuttings from French vines.
Pierre wrote back: ‘I am afraid the news is most poor concerning the
cuttings. An illness has struck the vines of France. We no longer have
grapes and cannot enjoy the little wine they once produced. I am sorry
you will not fulfill your dream of having some of home in your new
country.’ (12 November 1881).
later Francis’ great grandson, Peter Francis Cottier, his wife Yvonne,
daughter Katherine and sons Sam, Luke, Joe and Nick, have adopted the
hardy seaman’s dream.
Three nineteenth century
whaling harpoons represented on the Cottier label are a nod to Francis
and his adventurous spirit. They are also a reminder that times change –
the slaughter of whales 150 years ago lured many young men to New
Zealand’s shores. Now, the beauty, gentleness and magnificence of those
same species attract the awe and wonder of travellers, adventurers and