France’s true intentions for the South Island are not clearly understood, but French interest speeded up Britain’s decision to annex New Zealand.

In 1838 Jean François Langlois, commander of the whaling ship Cachalot, came up with the idea of establishing a French colony at the whaling base of Akaroa. After purchasing some land with a somewhat dodgy deal with local Māori he returned to France in 1839 and set up the Nanto-Bordelaise Company to carry out the project.

After King Louis-Philippe agreed to provide assistance, Captain Charles François Lavaud was made the representative for the settlement in New Zealand. In March 1840, two old naval ships donated by the French government, the Comte de Paris and Aube, set sail for Akaroa carrying 63 emigrants. read more