Sydneysider Johnny Jones saved sufficient money from working on sealing and whaling ships and as a waterman ferrying people across Sydney Harbour to acquire interests in three whaling ships by 1830.
Starting with a whaling station at Preservation Inlet, Southland, he gained control of the South Island whaling industry.
In 1838 Jones bought a whaling station at Waikouaiti Bay, Otago, and established settlements at Matanaka on the northern end of the bay. As whaling declined, he moved to farming, introducing sheep, cattle and horses, and providing food to Dunedin settlers after the town was founded in 1848.
Jones also formed the Harbour Steam Navigation Company, which became the Union Steam Ship Company.