Where Queens Wharf now stands was originally known as Horotiu, the name of the taniwha (a legendary water creature) which played in the area. It was a popular food gathering spot for Māori.
It later became known as Commercial Bay, where boats arrived laden with both immigrants and goods from the other side of the world. Initially, the early harbour facilities suffered from the tidal mudflats that made establishing good wharves difficult. In 1852 the new 1400-foot timber Queens Wharf was built to handle the increasing trade.
This painting depicts early morning hustle and bustle of loading and unloading cargo. The square rigged sailing ships graced the wharf with their towering masts and long bowsprits and jib booms that spanned over the wharf. The vessels alongside are the Craig Line Jessie Craig to the left and a New Zealand Shipping Company vessel is berthed to the right.