- The historian
Robert McNab. Murihiku and the Southern Islands: a history of the West Coast Sounds, Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island, the Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Islands, from 1770 to 1829. Invercargill: William Smith, 1907.
Robert's research into New Zealand history began with an interest in the area he knew best - Southland. As he accumulated information his geographical focus spread to include the outlying southern islands, whilst his temporal scope extended to include the earliest period of European discovery and trade.
The fruits of this research were first published in the form of articles in the Gore-based newspaper Southern Standard, before the 1905 publication of the pamphlet Murihiku: some old-time events. Greatly enlarged editions appeared in 1907 and 1909.
Robert McNab. Murihiku: a history of the South Island of New Zealand and the islands adjacent and lying to the south, from 1642 to 1835. Wellington: Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd., 1909.
The variances in the books' respective titles reflect the continuous broadening of Robert's research scope. Murihiku remains a major contribution to the early history of southern New Zealand.
Robert McNab. Murihiku and the Southern Islands. [Invercargill?: No imprint, 1906].
The first portion of an edition of 600 copies of Murihiku was printed in 1906, before Robert took the opportunity to fulfil a long-desired visit to the old whaling ports of America's Atlantic states. His research in America resulted in the discovery of a large quantity of new material relating to southern New Zealand. Thus, upon his return, the whole edition was destroyed and rewritten - apart from six copies, of which this is one.
John R. Spears. The Story of the New England Whalers. New York: Macmillan Company, 1908.
This work from Robert's collection is a history of the American whaling industry from the first settlements in Massachusetts in 1651, until the early years of the 20th century.
The Kermadec Islands were great favourites with the sperm whalers of New England, some of whose logs Robert found at Salem. From 1829, American whalers were stationed at Cloudy Bay where they hunted the southern right whale. The trade peaked in 1836 when fifteen American whalers were anchored in the Bay. Robert collected whaling histories chiefly for their references to New Zealand.