Historical Notes

A new life in Nouvelle Caledonie

The story of the Goyetche's of Nouvelle Caledonie (New Caledonia) begins on March 20, 1836 with the birth of Dominique Goyetche at Ascain in France, and with his marriage at Bidart to Marie Deville. His father was Jean-Pierre Goyetche born in 1798 at Saint Pée-sur-Nivelle. Dominique had a sister Graciane, and two brothers, Joseph and André. André left for America and was not heard from again. Dominique Goyetche managed the network of contraband goods in the Basque territory, a profession disapproved of by the authorities. Given their helplessness at opposing the Basque smuggling network, the police decided to set a trap for Dominique Goyetche one evening at a dance at Saint Jean de Luz. During the course of the dance, to everyone's surprise a police officer came and invited Dominique's wife to dance with him. In the midst of this happy atmosphere, Dominique gave a sign to his wife to accept. The crisis seemed to be averted, when after a number of turns in front of Dominique, the officer, before the failure of his provocation took the initiative. During the next turn before Dominique…well…he simply put his hands on the lady's buttocks! This was too much! This insult! In the midst of a dance! …in front of the entire crowd! In a fraction of a second Dominique had sprung on the officer and beat him about the head. The officer was hospitalized but not killed. But an attack on an officer of the law demanded severe punishment. Dominique was sentenced to serve 5 years in prison on New Caledonia and a 10 year prohibition on returning to the Basque territory. The network had been dismantled. Respect was returned to the law. Dominique was a large landowner and his wife Marie sold a portion of his holdings and embarked on a sailing ship with their three children for New Caledonia. The Panama Canal did not yet exist and the voyage, which took three months, required passing around Cape Horn. On her arrival at Nouméa, Marie bought a parcel of rough land at Bourail near the French prison where her husband was detained. This was the beginning of the colonization of New Caledonia. On this territory of 18,000 square kilometers (more than two times the area of Corsica) there were no roads, and the French population had grown slowly to several thousand people. Bourail is situated 170 kilometers from Nouméa, the administrative capital, without any other connection but a ship (once every two or three months) or on horseback (a 4 or 5 day journey). Marie cultivated this parcel of land to provide for the needs of her family until her husband was released from prison. Bound by the prohibition not to return to the Basque territory for ten years, Dominique and Marie remained in Bourail until their death. Of their three children, only Pierre established roots in New Caledonia. His two sisters died without bearing any children. Pierre is the patriarch of all the Goyetche's of New Caledonia (and Australia). There is, at Nouméa, a street named "rue Pierre Goyetche", the "fronton de pelote basque Pierre Goyetche" (a Basque sport). The descendants of Pierre Goyetche represent many hundreds of persons. Having arrived in New Caledonia at the age of six, Pierre followed the education route of the time, which is primary school along with a life in the outdoors: hunting, fishing, horses, etc. At first he was a farmer with his parents, he then became a "stockman" (cowboy) in Australia. As well, his love of horses led him to become a jockey, for a short period of a few years because of the weight limit, as well as a trainer and owner of race horses. The discovery of nickel in New Caledonia at the beginning of the century brought a new dimension to Pierre. Immediately captivated by this discovery, he devoted heart and soul and became the leading prospector sought by all the mining companies.
The Goyetche Family Genealogy

In the South Pacific