RAMBLES IN NEW ZEALAND.
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I ARRIVED at Sydney in September 1838, and soon received the first of those useful lessons which disappointment teaches. I allude to the system observed in the sale of crown lands, which, instead of being surveyed and ready for auction, so that the emigrant may commence operations with undiminished capital, compels him to waste months in idleness and expense ill adapted to the cultivation and advancement of a new colony. As the spot I had selected was at a considerable distance from Sydney, and the time to be wasted between the application and sale proportionately long, I determined to render it as little irksome and unprofitable as possible by rambling in search of information.
With this view I embarked in one of the small schooners which are constantly trading between Sydney and the Bay of Islands; made the north-west cape of New Zealand on the 4th of February, 1839, and the next day arrived in the bay. The whole coast appeared very barren, having no other vegetation than bushes and fern; it is much broken, and of a dark-coloured volcanic rock; in some places the earth on the surface is of a bright yellow or red, and apparently of an ochreous nature. The Bay of Islands, a place of late become so familiar in England from
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various causes, but chiefly from the panorama of it exhibited in London 1 , is certainly a very pretty place, but in my opinion no more: it is, like Sydney, or rather Port Jackson, entirely deficient of back-ground, so essential to the picturesque. The panorama is exceedingly like the place, with the exception that the hills are trifling elevations in reality, while in the painting they appear very considerable; and one in particular, an island to the northward, seems quite a mountain, although I do not suppose it can be 700 feet high. I can only account for the artist having painted the bay, in preference to many other far more beautiful and extraordinary scenes to be found in the island, by the supposition, that when he was there, it was considered to be the only safe place in the country, and that he was prevented by the unfavourable reports of the people he saw from travelling much into it:--had he painted some parts of the Thames, for instance, he might have produced a picture which, without exaggeration, would have represented such a combination of the grand and beautiful in scenery as is rarely to be found in any country--a close piece of water, as large as the bay, thickly studded with islands of every variety, some merely high basaltic rocks, others beautiful low islets covered with trees and grass, and almost surrounded by beaches; while the surrounding shores are everywhere covered thickly with timber, and the hills piled over each other until they are sometimes lost in the clouds: in one place particularly, immediately behind the harbour of Waihaw (Wyhow), there are four ranges rising one behind another, the highest of which
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cannot be less than 4500 feet, and covered with wood to the very summit.
To return to the bay--the country around is hilly, and may be said to be nothing but a succession of gullies, rendering the use of wheel-carriages of any kind (except perhaps ox-carts) almost impracticable: the soil is clay, produced by the decomposition of the lavas and other volcanic rocks, of which the whole of this part of New Zealand is formed. It is bad--that is to say, as bad as any soil can be in a climate so moist and temperate as that of New Zealand. I have, it is true, notwithstanding, seen very good vegetables grown in the gardens; but as these gardens are always in the small level spots in the vicinity of the gullies, their produce is no criterion of the general goodness of the soil, as such spots receive the whole richness of the surrounding hills, and for agricultural purposes would be totally unavailable from their small size. There are but two spots about the bay where towns could be built--one, the site of the village of Kornarika, notorious at present for containing, I should think, a greater number of rogues than any other spot of equal size in the universe, and the other on the opposite side of the Bay, near the missionary establishment, Paihia (Pyhea). The first of these has the best shelter for shipping, but is entirely cut off from the supply of the country, being situated on an almost insulated neck of land, having the bay in front, and the ocean about half a mile distant behind. It is besides so confined, that the part available for building purposes could not contain more than a couple of thousand inhabitants, even though the streets were planned with the regularity and closeness of European streets, instead of the straggling manner in which those of a new country are generally built. The other place is a good situation for a town, having a considerable flat space at the mouth of a river navigable for small vessels for a short distance; and being on the land side
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of the bay, is a more fit emporium for the produce of the country, as well as more convenient for merchandise. I do not by any means consider the bay the place where a settlement should be formed, as the whole of the northern part of the island is a mere neck of land, in comparison with that to the southward of the Thames; and nearly the whole of it, if not owned, is at least claimed by Europeans; whereas, south of the Thames there have been scarcely any purchasers, and the land, instead of being a succession of barren hills and ravines, is full of rich plains and table-lands.
I had determined, if possible, to penetrate to those high mountains in the interior of the north island which are shadowed forth on the maps and described in the book of the New Zealand Association, and, fortunately, found a small schooner of ten tons ready to sail for the southward the day after my arrival in the bay. I accordingly went on board, and as our course was close along-shore during the whole voyage, I had an excellent opportunity of seeing the coast, which is generally exceedingly beautiful. There are a great many islands scattered along the coast, many of which bear marks of recent volcanic eruptions, the lava on some being quite fresh; and one (White Island) is even at present an active volcano continually smoking, and chiefly composed of sulphur and pumice. The outline of the coast is exceedingly broken; generally the cliffs are high, but rarely perpendicular; and until after passing the Thames all are of a dark colour, without a trace of stratification. Several of the hills are said by the natives to have lakes on their summits, probably the craters of extinct volcanoes. Another thing which they state is, however, beyond my power of belief--that one of these lakes has plenty of salt-water fish in it, and among the rest sharks! I should have liked very much to have ascended some of these hills, had it been merely to see if there were really any fish in the
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lakes, either belonging to fresh or salt water. It appears, however, that the very existence of these lakes is a mere matter of tradition, as none of the present generation have ever ascended to their shores, through fear of the "nancras,"or imaginary centipedes, or crocodiles, (for it does not appear very clearly which is meant by the term,) which inhabit the banks of all these inaccessible lakes, and with which even whole valleys are said to be so infested that it is impossible to get a native to visit them. After passing the Thames, the cliffs become white and look like chalk: they are, however, of a compact volcanic stone very good for building, more especially at Mercury Bay, where a gentleman who has resided there for some years has worked a sufficient quantity of it to build a wharf--perhaps the first wharf built of hewn stones in Australia, those in Sydney being chiefly built of wood. Mercury Bay is a very good harbour for ships of any size; but the country around is very mountainous, and the river running in at the head of the bay so small as to be only fit to turn a mill, the purpose to which it is about to be applied by the gentleman who has purchased the whole country in that neighbourhood from the natives. If he ever gets it to work, it will pay well, and will be the only one worked by water-power in Australia. The cowrie or pine of the country (Dammara australis) is abundant here, although it is almost the southern limit of its growth. The cowrie adheres to the general predilection I have observed in all true pines for bad land; it always grows on steep clayey hills, but does not form entire forests containing no other tree, like the pine-forests of America. I have indeed seen but one small patch of land on which the greater part of the trees was cowrie. In most of what is here called "cowrie land" the trees are often a quarter of a mile asunder, and rarely closer than a hundred yards: it is, in my opinion, the least beautiful of the pine tribe, especially in its young state,
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which is in general the most beautiful age of the pine; in fact, until it gets thirty feet high, it is absolutely ugly. It retains the appearance of a regular coniferous tree until it becomes about eighteen inches in diameter, when it begins to change, and after that period ceases to resemble the rest of its tribe in the slightest degree. It often resembles in outline an oak, but, from the excessive paucity of its foliage, can never vie with that tree in beauty. I apprehend there is not the slightest chance of its growing in England, as it is not found more than forty miles south of the Thames in New Zealand. It will be seen, from what I have said, that people have been greatly deceived in England with regard to the supply of cowrie spars, &c., to be derived from New Zealand: not only is the portion of country on which it grows very limited, but the labour of getting the timber out of the forests is immense, because of the wonderfully hilly nature of the country; and in New Zealand there is no snow to assist the dragging of the weight, as in those countries from whence the present supply of timber is chiefly derived.
I had intended to start from Mercury Bay for the interior; but when I arrived there, I found, from the information given me by Mr. Brown of that place (who is probably better acquainted with New Zealand, and more particularly with the people, than any other person), that it would not be the proper place. I therefore went on to Tawranga, which is at present the last mission-station to the southward, and from thence eventually started on my voyage of discovery into the unknown regions of New Zealand. Tawranga is a harbour unfit for large vessels, but was during the time of the flax-trade a place of some consequence, as very large quantities of that article were collected there. At present no flax is grown, as pigs supply the wants of the natives with infinitely less trouble to themselves. The coast here, and for a considerable dis-
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tance to the southward, is low and level, with sandy beaches. One side of the entrance to the harbour is formed by a curious hill, or immense rock of basaltic lava mixed in some places with pumice. It is of a conical or irregular pyramidal form, and about six hundred feet high: standing as it does entirely alone, in the middle of a great extent of low level coast, it forms a very striking object, whether viewed from sea or land. It was formerly a very strong "Pa" (Pah), a native fort or village, for the word means either. I should observe, however, that all the villages are fortified by a ditch and stockade. The land sides of the hill are terraced from top to bottom, and must have been inhabited for a very long period, as the greater portion of the soil of which the terraces are formed is composed of cockle-shells. At present the Tawranga (Towrunga) tribe is a very small one, and will most likely in two or three years cease to exist, as at present its only support is that of another tribe, the Waikato, which is the largest in the country, but they are a very bad set. This tribe (the Waikatos) is at war with the Roturoa tribe, which latter occupies the land behind the Tawranga tribe and a port called Muckatoo, about twenty miles to the east along the coast. The Waikatos have no port on the eastern shores, and have for some time been trying to get possession of Muckatoo: they seized it once while I was on my journey, but were beaten off again by the Roturoa people. It appears probable that they will pick a quarrel with the Tawranga people, as a pretext for dispossessing them of their territory, which would be more convenient for them than Muckatoo, that place being further off, and the tribe one of the most war-like, if not the most powerful, in the country. About six weeks before I arrived at Tawranga, a small party started from Roturoa, and lying in wait near Tawranga, seized a number of people (about twenty, I believe) and cooked them absolutely in sight of the
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different villages. The place was just at the base of the great hill I have spoken of (Manganorie); and when I visited it, I saw all the native ovens (copper mowries, according to English pronunciation) in which the cooking had been performed, and a portion of the entrails, &c., were strewed about. My companion called me to see a head which was then half eaten by the dogs; but I had seen enough for that day, and did not follow him. This head was removed by the missionaries as soon as they heard of it, and buried; so that when I visited the place afterwards, every vestige of the late horrid tragedy had disappeared. There are two things well worthy of note in this occurrence, as being totally opposed to English ideas of the New Zealanders. The first is, that a whole tribe should suffer less than a hundred men to come into the heart of their country, where they--the invaders--were surrounded on all sides, and stay ten days or more, killing all the stragglers they could find, and confining the rest in their Pas, and even paddling about the harbour in their canoes in the middle of the day, without making the least show of resistance; and the second, that the natives who perpetrated this massacre and cannibalism in cold blood ware not a wild, untutored race who had never had intercourse with Europeans, (or if with Europeans, with such as are a disgrace to the countries whence they spring, such as those by whom the natives of the Bay of Islands and other places to the northward have been contaminated), but, on the contrary, had enjoyed the advantage of the residence of missionaries among them for several years, and those missionaries, too, amongst the most active and zealous of any in New Zealand; indeed, there have been but few white men among them, with the exception of missionaries, more especially for the last two or three years, since the murder of the last trader who lived there, which has prevented others from supplying his place.
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Neither is the general bravery and hardihood, or very great improvement in the body of the New Zealanders, so much talked of in England, very strikingly developed in these proceedings 2 .
The country about Tawranga for about ten miles inland is almost a perfect level covered with fern; but the land is not bad, as it is light and contains a good proportion of undestroyed vegetable matter, which becomes apparent when it is stirred. I have seen very good clover and grass growing in the garden of the mission, or I might perhaps have thought the land was much worse than it is. It cannot indeed be called rich, as the constant destruction of the fern by fire is sufficient to impoverish any land; but in the long-run the light soils covered with fern will be preferable for agriculture to the clayey forest-lands where the cowrie grows, which are in general the only lands that have hitherto been the objects of purchase by Europeans,--if the terms by which they claim them can be called purchases, or if indeed the natives have any real idea of selling their lands, which at present I doubt.
There is going on at Tawranga a formation of coal which is very curious. It is in some places about a foot thick, and although quite recent, and containing nothing but the leaves, &c. of the living plants of the country, it is regularly separated by layers of soft earth of just the colour and appearance which the clayey strata of the coal-measures present, although entirely formed of partially decomposed pumice, which is also the basis of the entire soil of this part of the island, becoming very apparent when the natives, by constant planting of sweet potatoes, &c. near the villages, have exhausted all the vegetable part of the soil.
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The influenza, which had just visited New Zealand, had hardly left Tawranga; and in consequence of the general sickness, joined to the war between the two places, I had great difficulty in getting any natives to go with me from Tawranga to Roturoa. I should have been entirely stopped had it not been for the great kindness of the missionaries, who persuaded some of the lads attached to their establishment to go with me. To one of these gentlemen in particular, Mr. Stack, I shall always feel under obligation, as he assisted me greatly to his own inconvenience, the natives being so generally ill, that when I took away the lads belonging to his household, it was impossible for him to get any more to supply their places, which in ordinary times would have been easy. I was obliged to take these natives because they happened to be related to the Roturoa tribe, and consequently could go there without any danger of being put into a "copper mowrie" when they arrived. I learnt a curious fact relating to the politics of New Zealand in consequence of this circumstance. It appears that if two tribes are at war, and the chief of most consequence in one tribe were to marry the only daughter of the corresponding "rangitera" of the other, that would not do anything towards making peace between the two tribes; but the two individuals only would observe neutrality: and this is the more curious, as females can really hold property, and are in fact chiefs, as well as the men. There is a case in point between the Waikato and Roturoa tribes at the present moment. It is a striking instance of the want of real power in the chiefs; as were there any real government, such a marriage could not fail to unite the tribes under one head, or at all events to render them allies.
After several days' delay from the above-mentioned causes, I got ready for the journey, and set out for Roturoa with seven natives to carry luggage, and a white man as interpreter. I
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should not have wanted so many natives, had it not been for the great weight of their food, which consists almost entirely of potatoes: one, in fact, went solely to carry food for the first day's journey, and left us next morning.
I left Tawranga about one o'clock on the 17th of February, 1839. This day's journey was not above fifteen miles, and was almost entirely over a plain covered with fern: the walk was however quite enough for me for that day, and I was very glad when the tent was pitched, and I enjoyed my pot of tea and piece of bread and pork with an appetite an alderman might have envied. There is something inexpressibly delightful in living in a tent: snail-like, you carry your house wherever you go; and for my own part, I always sleep much better in a tent than in an inn, and enjoy my meals infinitely more in the open air, sitting at the mouth of my tent like the shepherds of old, than I should if I had the best dinner that ever was cooked in a smoky hotel in London. I recollect while in England that a very little thing would put me out of conceit with my tea, and I could no more think of relishing it without white sugar than of eating a piece of dry crust covered with mould; but here I always used to think the tea excellent, although boiled in a common tin pot, or pannikin as the sailors call it, and drunk out of the same, and sweetened with coarse brown sugar; and I used to dole out the remnants of bread when they were quite blue, as if it was the greatest luxury in the world:--so much are our tastes as well as ourselves liable to be altered by circumstances. It was not till long after this, however, that I was short of bread; as by the kindness of my friends at Tawranga, I was loaded with bread, roast-meat, &c., and was not yet reduced to the necessity of eating potatoes with my tea, or cold potatoes without salt for lunch. I have often seen the natives eat raw potatoes, and once living craw-fish; two things I never was so hard-pushed as to try.
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We crossed one river about fifteen yards wide and knee-deep, very rapid, and running over a smooth bottom of rock: it would form a fine mill-stream, as the banks are very high, and close to the edge of the river--which indeed seems to be a characteristic of nearly all the rivers I have seen in New Zealand.
February 18th.--The whole of the road to-day was through very thick woods; the land moderately level and exceedingly rich. We crossed another river about the same size as the one we passed last night, and a great many smaller streams, most of them having channels, not exactly like ravines, but quite as deep, and steep in proportion to their breadth, and only differing in having their sides covered with forest, and evidently not subject to inundations. New Zealand is undoubtedly wonderfully well watered, yet to-day we passed at least ten miles without seeing any stream, although the ground was anything but flat. Probably the water soon soaks through the substratum, which appears to be of a soft volcanic stone. The whole basis of the soil, the earthy part, is pumice; but you may dig six inches deep through beautiful black mould before you come to any vestige of that substance. The trees were chiefly the Towa 3 , a tree strongly resembling the beech in leaf and general appearance, and bearing a fruit about the size and colour of a damson, but with a very large seed. Some of the fruit are sweet and pleasant; while others on the same tree are very poor, and taste strongly of turpentine. The wood is about the hardness and has just the appearance of beech; it is rarely more than two feet in diameter. The Rimu 4 (the most beautiful tree in the world when young) has branches very slender and pendulous, and the leaves very small, not much broader than hairs, and set all round the twigs, so that the tree looks as if it were composed of "Chenille" fringes. The berry is much like that of the yew, to which
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tree the Rimu is nearly allied; it is sweet, and eaten by the natives. The wood resembles in colour that of the apple-tree, and is brittle. It is one of the largest trees in the forest; as it becomes old, it loses its extraordinary beauty, the leaves shortening till they are mere scales. Next in abundance is the Miro 5 , a tree exactly like the English yew, but bearing sweet berries about the size of horse-beans, with an internal seed. The wood is dark, fine-grained, rather soft, though harder than deal, and very tough. Its largest size is about two feet diameter. From its great beauty, it would well deserve to be grown in England; and as I have found it growing as high up the mountains as any other tree, I have no doubt it would be perfectly hardy. The largest tree I have seen in the country is very common in these woods, but is not peculiar to them, although in other than rich soil it never arrives at even the size of the cowrie. It has a soft white wood, and is always decayed in the middle; it exactly resembles the elm in leaf, and very much in growth and bark; but I could never succeed in procuring a specimen either in flower or seed 6 . I have measured a tree thirty-seven feet in circumference; but such are rare; and were they more common, would be useless from the bad quality of the wood.
These are the chief trees in the richest description of dry woods, such as those I passed between Tawranga and Roturoa. The Rata 7 , in my opinion the monarch of the New Zealand forest, is occasionally found very large in these woods, but prefers a more clayey and hilly soil. It is often sixty feet high without a branch, and from four to five feet in diameter; the wood is a fine pale brown, equal to mahogany in beauty, and African oak in hardness and durability; it is a first-rate
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ship-building wood, but on the east coast is rare; as you approach the west coast it becomes common: it belongs to the myrtle family, and is very closely leafed, with small brilliantly- green oval leaves growing by threes around the stem; the flowers are very numerous, small and scarlet (I am told). I have climbed many trees, but never succeeded in finding any seed, nor seed-vessels in any state of decay; but once found three young plants, which I have got; they were growing in a rotten branch, high from the ground, and had roots very much like potatoes, and as large in one instance as a walnut. This accounts for the natives saying there are never any young Ratas. I have no doubt that, like many trees of tropical climates, they never grow from the ground, but to it,--that is, they strike root in the branches of another tree, and afterwards send roots down to the soil through the trunk of their supporter as it decays. It would be a magnificent ornamental tree in England if it would grow (which I think possible), as it would be utterly unlike any tree at present known in Europe: the foliage being very dense at the extremities of the branches, but nowhere else, it looks like a number of small trees, such as box, growing out of one another, or out of the gigantic stem of an oak. The Tanekaha 8 is also occasionally to be met with, but only on the steep sides of gullies; it prefers a poorer soil; it is the most curious tree in the country, being a coniferous one, with the branches proceeding from the trunk as regularly as in any spruce, and yet having broad leaves very like the leaflets of some ferns. The wood is exceedingly tough and durable, but unfortunately does not grow sufficiently large for masts, except for small vessels. Its largest size is eighteen inches diameter, and about twenty-five to thirty feet to the branches. It would live in England, and would be a very great curiosity. In
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similar places is to be seen a very curious shrub, or small tree, which when young has the most extraordinary leaves I ever saw. On a plant five feet high I have measured leaves twenty-six inches long, yet not more than three-quarters of an inch broad. In deep shade they are beautifully variegated with pink and white. It is an Aralia, and has highly-perfumed flowers,--a quality, by the way, quite characteristic of New Zealand plants. I have met with more sweet-scented flowers here than in any other place I have visited. As we passed through the woods, we found two plantations of potatoes, which would have rendered our bringing any quite unnecessary had we known of them. As my natives never seemed to consider that these kind of plantations belonged to any body, we always used to help ourselves when we came to any of them without compunction. In fact, I suppose that these patches must have been planted by some of the mission-natives, on purpose to save trouble when they went their journeys between the two stations. The woods are exceedingly full of gigantic climbers, the most troublesome of which, because most abundant, is a Smilax of enormous size. It bears large bunches of red berries, of which the natives are very fond. Its stems are amazingly strong and tough, and are used for a great variety of purposes, the most common of which is the building of houses, where it supplies them with laths, to which they tie their palm-leaves and other materials for forming the walls.
Our encampment to-night was on the top of a very high and steep hill, and as we had no kettle to carry water, I was obliged to use my mackintosh, which answered very well by making a hoop to hold up the edges. I pride myself on my invention, and think Mr. Mackintosh ought to send me a new one, for finding out a new use for this article of clothing, and thereby enhancing its value.
At this place I first observed the deficiencies of the alphabet
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introduced by the missionaries: it consists only of fourteen letters, and although B and D are frequently used in speaking, their sounds are represented by P and R in writing. The indiscriminate use of these letters is the consequence, producing great confusion and embarrassment to learners of the language. Thus, some tribes will say Rimu, and others Dimu; Kerrykerry and Kiddikiddi, &c.; and others will use the sound expressed by R in their alphabet in such a way that it would puzzle any European to understand what was said. I certainly think it would be much better if the alphabet had been furnished with all the letters that the natives could have sounded; and although perhaps at first they might have been a little confused in using them with the proper exactness, a very little practice would have overcome that difficulty, and the language would have gained by it in clearness and intelligibility. Besides, as Mr. Busby (the resident at the bay) says, it would have been a mark whereby to distinguish the educated from the uneducated--the gentlemen from the vulgar. After the letter N, A has a nasal sound somewhat resembling that in "Nantes." In Mowrie (New Zealand language) it is not difficult to express the sound by desiring the experimenter to say "na" (nah) without moving his tongue, and with his mouth a little open at the commencement of the sound, at the same time admitting a little air through his nose. I think this sound would be much better represented by G N than N G, as is now done; but still either would be erroneous, as the sound is not in the consonant, but in the vowel. The name of one of the Bay of Islands tribes, "Ngapui," is an example of this sort of Russian combination: the natives have neither F, G, I, nor L, but change them for other letters; S they leave out entirely. It is impossible to make them pronounce any words having these sounds in them: for instance, knife is "nihee," the two syllables and the N H being distinct. My name, John, is "Honi" (pronounced
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Honee); James, "Hemi;" &c. Wilson is changed to "Widdyhinna;" Stack, "Tacca;" Chapman, Tappimanna, with a suppression of H at the beginning, or not quite t'Happimanna. The nearest approach to be found for my name was "Biddywiddi' or "Piddiwiddi." Those gentlemen whose names I have made use of will, no doubt, excuse me, as I was at a loss for other illustrations. Very few except missionaries are called by their surnames, all the others being Honis, Hemis, Widdims (Williams), &c. The framer of the alphabet was, I understand, thus sparing of his letters, in order to make the language as simple as possible, without taking into account the difficulties of expressing with them those modulations of sound on which the richness and melody of a language so much depend. They have but five vowels, A (ah), E (a), I (e), O, and U (pronounced ou). AI, as in "Waikato" (Wykato), could have been conveniently superseded by Y as a vowel, though the natives cannot make the consonantal sound of that letter. In like manner, there is no character to signify the E as in Edward or West; and yet that is a pure vowel sound, and is constantly to be found in the language. It appears to me that had the object been to make the language as simple as possible, that object would have been much better effected by augmenting rather than diminishing the number of vowels which characterise the English and other European tongues: for instance, had there been A, and AH, with a separate character, E as in "we," and another as in "west;" I, O, and U; it would have been comparatively easy for any foreigner to learn the pronunciation of the language from the books, whereas at present it is as impossible as in any old mother language. For instance, who could know how to pronounce "hau," which is pronounced exactly as "how" in English? Whereas "waw" is pronounced just as the same letters would be in English. But it is useless to multiply instances which evidently must be innumerable. The
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chief reason I see for regretting the present system is, that I think the formation of the Mowrie language into a written one would have been such an excellent opportunity of showing how perfectly the written words of a language might be made to indicate the sounds--a desideratum never to be obtained in any European language, as it would be impossible to make a whole generation learn an entirely new alphabet when they were accustomed to an old one which gave them no inconvenience, from having been always accustomed to it; but when people knew no alphabet, there would have been no difficulty in teaching them as many letters as were necessary to indicate, at all events, all the simple, if not many of the common compound sounds. In case of the colonisation of the country by Europeans, this meagreness of the alphabet will be a great disadvantage, as it is next to impossible to learn the New Zealand, or, indeed, any other language without the use of books. Of course there are individuals who would soon acquire any language, but I am speaking of the mass. Now, in proof of the difficulty which I speak of, I can state that I have met with but one person, and never heard of more than four, in all the country, who could speak "Mowrie" so perfectly as to be able to ask even the simplest question, not connected with their trade, in such a manner as immediately to make the Mowries understand what they said; and the greater part of them, including men who have been many years in the country, are incapable of speaking more than a couple of dozen sentences, and those not correctly. Of course I do not include the missionaries, who all speak the language fluently; but it is to be considered that it is their whole study for a long period after they arrive, and that they have the advantages of the prior labours and researches of their brethren. The very much greater influence possessed by the mission than by any other persons over the natives is, in my opinion, chiefly to be
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ascribed to their superior knowledge of the language, and not to any feeling of gratitude for the many benefits conferred upon them by the mission: indeed, I am afraid that they have no such feeling as gratitude, even in the weakest sense; and I am the more inclined to think so, from the fact that they have not only no phrase corresponding to "Thank you," but no form of words to use when they receive a present. If, when you give them anything, they do not ask immediately for something else (which is generally the case), they are silent; but they generally manage to find out something corresponding to the thing you give them, for which they immediately put in a demand. Thus, if you give a fig of tobacco, you may be sure they will ask for a pipe; if a knife, for a string to hang it round their necks with; or if even a musket, they will ask, depreciatingly, "What is the good of it without some powder and ball?" and that, too, if they have plenty of the article by them at the time. This evening they all pretended they had no tobacco, in order to get some from me, although they had more than they could smoke in a couple of days. The mission-boys were very attentive to their prayers and hymns every evening and morning, and commenced them always without my reminding them, which I had been desired to do by their masters in case of their omission. The greatest rogue in the company was Reader--at least, so I found him afterwards; at that time he passed with me for quite a Simon Pure. I was much pleased with the apparent devotion displayed by him in reading, and the others in their responses; but I found that the longer we were out the worse got his reading, and I was often obliged to find fault with him for slurring over his prayers: but it is like children everywhere when they get out of sight of their masters--and these were only children of a larger growth. They were all young men of not more than twenty. Their names were--at least the names they told me
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for they have often a dozen--Kohe-kohe, Coe-coe, Marua, Tomidel, Tong-ow--missionaries, or, as we should say, Christians; Moning-aw and Mahia--heathens, or devils, as they sometimes call themselves. It sounds rather curious to hear a native, in answer to a question as to whether he is a missionary or not, reply quite coolly, "No; I'm a devil!" By the bye, I have generally found these "debils" the best-working and most civil fellows among them, and think a very reasonable question might be raised as to the relation, among the Mowries, of conversion and laziness. Moning-aw and Mahia were striking instances of this; they certainly were worth more than the other four. The first-named was quite a treasure, and would have been so as a servant in any country. He always carried my bedding and tent--a heavier load than that of any of the others; especially if it had rained in the night, or we started early in the morning, before the dew was off; yet he was always in first after me at the resting-places, and always close at hand to roast potatoes, fetch water, or any other thing that might be wanted, and even without being told; whereas I sometimes had to tell the others a dozen times if I wanted them to do anything of the kind when he was away. The other fellow, Mahia, used to carry such loads, that one day, when Mr. Kohe-kohe was very saucy, I made them change loads, as a punishment to him, which he at first pretended to be very willing to do; but after about an hour's trial (during which time I kept behind him to prevent his deceiving me, by giving up a part of his load to others), he fairly gave in and afterwards, if he offended me, I had only to threaten him with Mahia's load to make him keep close to my heels all day afterwards, which was all I wanted, his load consisting of my books for specimens of plants, &c. I have certainly observed that the missionary natives are the most impertinent and least willing to work; but that ought not to cause ill-will towards
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their teachers, as it too often does; most of the Europeans laying all the blame of the progressive craftiness of the natives to the missionaries, who, they say, spoil them, and "teach them their impudence:" whereas, the fact is, the missionary natives, knowing more than their uninstructed brethren, like all people who know very little indeed, but yet something, are apt to think they know a great deal, and presume accordingly. They often fancy that they know quite as much as the "Pakiha Mowries" (a name applied to the pork-traders, &c., who have native women for wives), if not as the missionaries themselves. There is a terrible dislike amongst the low Europeans generally to the missionaries; and it is easily accounted for--the former all live with native women as wives, which is discountenanced by the missionaries. The generality of them are great rascals, runaway convicts, sailors, &c., who, with the ordinary rancour of low minds, dislike people superior to themselves in intelligence and respectability; especially when they see that in spite of their utmost efforts, the influence of the missionaries is greater, even amongst those not professing to be Christians, than ever they can expect to acquire, for the very obvious reason, that the disinterested exertions of the preachers are all directed to one object, and they all support each other--while the others only work for themselves, and hate one another in proportion to the proximity of their residences. With regard to what they all say about the missionaries causing the natives to sell their produce of pigs, &c. dearer, and require more for their labour, it is wholly without foundation: for one pig, or pot of potatoes or corn, that the one buys, the others buy five hundred; and to my certain knowledge the mission price for labour is not more than half that which the Pakihas give. I also know that the price paid for pigs, &c., is not more in one instance than the other; and if it were, it could do the traders no harm, as the
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mere trifle used for food, which is all that is bought by the mission, would never have any influence on a market where thousands of tons are bought for the export trade.
We started from our last encampment, passed a good deal of tolerably level and very rich ground, traversed however by several very deep water-courses, and after an hour's walking over a tract of fern, arrived at a small Pa on the banks of the lake Roturoa. Having heard so bad a character of the Roturoa tribe, I was rather anxious to get over to the missionary settlement, which is on an island in the middle of the lake. The natives did not appear very friendly to my Waikato men, but did not offer to molest them. Messrs. Moning-aw and Mahia did not, however, seem to be particularly comfortable until a canoe was launched for our embarkation. All were so eager to go, in order as I afterwards found to participate in the payment, that the canoe was very nearly swamped several times before we reached the island; and my paper for specimens was so soaked that it took a whole day to dry. I afterwards became used to them, and would never let more go with me than I wanted: each man expected a fig of tobacco for paddling, and the owner of the canoe the same. I think I had to pay twelve of them--twice as much as need have been paid. Had I known as much then as I did afterwards, I should have only let six go instead of twelve, and felt much less fear during the passage.
The lake of Roturoa is about ten miles by five; the shores are generally low, and the wood has been almost entirely removed by the natives; there is but one spot where it approaches the water, and that not very extensive: there are several Pas on it, and a small number of inhabitants on the island where the missionary establishment is. The country is not so populous as it has been. I was informed by the missionaries that, a few years ago, when the celebrated Bay of Islands Chief "Honghi" came
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there, he killed three thousand of them, and they have not since been able to recover their numbers: they are a very war-like tribe, and are said to be a finer race of men than any other, but great thieves; they are now at war with all the tribes around them except the Towpo tribe, who are too distant to render them any valuable assistance. The lake is almost surrounded by boiling springs, mud volcanoes, and solfataras. I think it is probable that there are many hot springs in the deep part of the lake, as it is pleasantly warm to bathe in; which is not to be expected from the natural temperature of the atmosphere, which here is exceedingly chilly,--the missionaries say it is the coldest place in the island: the thermometer was rarely above fifty-eight in-doors, and in the evening the fire was always very much in request. We arrived at Roturoa in the evening, and received a hearty welcome from Mr. Chapman, the only missionary there at the time. I found from him, there would be some difficulty in getting on, as the influenza was more recent here than at Tawranga--and consequently the people were weaker: he however, promised to assist me to the utmost of his power. Mr. Chapman had just returned from Towpo, and was the first white man who had ever penetrated so far,--he had been obliged to return sooner than he wished, in consequence of the illness of his natives, some of whom he left behind. As I could not get away from Roturoa for two or three days, I employed myself in visiting the hot spring, &c. on the lake. The shores are barren and low; but there are high hills rising all round at no great distance, generally sloping up immediately from the water, and covered with trees at the summit: the hills are from six hundred to a thousand feet high, and have a very barren appearance. The island, nearly in the middle of the lake, is about five hundred feet high, and is very steep; it is a mile long, and there may be fifty
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acres of it sufficiently level for cultivation. These level spots are carefully planted with kormeras, 9 corn, &c., but are not rich enough for potatoes, which are never planted by the natives but on newly-cleared land, which they abandon after the third year's crop; it then becomes covered with fern, and in a few years more is rendered fit for nothing by the constant fires destroying whatever vegetable matter is formed by the decayed plant.
There are numerous hot springs on the island; they are all at the edge of the lake, and formed into baths by the natives making an open wall of stone around them, so as to admit a sufficiency of cold water to render them bearable to the skin. In all of them, although nearly boiling and strongly impregnated with sulphuric acid, there may be seen plants growing independently of the patches of green which cover the bottom. Several of the springs contain sulphuret of iron, as may be seen by the stones, all of which are bronzed by the deposit, often so completely as to look like pieces of pyrites. There are great numbers of shell-fish in the lake, and also craw-fish, sometimes eight inches long; both of which are articles of food for the natives, and of great consequence to them, as there are no fish except eels, which are scarce, and some little fish not so large as minnows, which they catch in nets made in the shape of a sparrow-trap, and eat dried. The largest hot springs are at the great Pa, one of which is eight or nine feet across, with a stream running from it four feet wide: the water at the place whence it issues is, I have no doubt, hotter than boiling, as it appears to come up in the form of steam; it is quite clear, and has but little taste, although it smells strongly of sulphuric acid: the rocks around are encrusted with a whitish efflorescence of an intensely sour taste, which I regret I had no means of pre-
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serving. The natives cook all their food in the streams of hot water, by putting it into a basket and letting the water flow through it; it does not at all injure the flavour of the vegetables, but I never tasted any meat so cooked. The whole of the ground about the great Pa is full of springs and holes from which steam escapes, so that great caution is required in walking about, as a false step might sink you to your middle in boiling mud. The sites of the springs are constantly changing; and a place which to-day is quite hard, may to-morrow break in when trodden upon. Deaths arising from accidents of this kind are very frequent--the whole ground is so hot that the insides of the native huts are hardly bearable, and must, I think, be very unwholesome. There was plenty of very fine tobacco growing near, although I never at any other place met with any that was worth gathering. I saw here, for the first time, a chief fed by a woman--not being able to feed himself because he was tabooed: it had a most ridiculous appearance to see a full-grown man fed like a child with pap. The food was in a calabash, and pushed by the woman's fingers to the edge, so that it should fall into his mouth. About a mile from the Pa, are a number of mud volcanoes (if they may be so called), consisting of hollows, varying from fifty to one hundred and fifty feet across, filled with mud, about the consistence in general of pea-soup. This mud is constantly bubbling, and making a most curious noise; in some of the holes there have been formed cones of mud about ten feet high; in these places it is of a somewhat thicker consistence, and I suppose the bubbles always escape at the same places. The mud is not hot, and the water which drains off is very nauseous, quite different in taste from that of the hot springs, which might be drunk on an emergency. There is about a square mile covered with these mud-springs, the paths between the hollows not being more in many instances
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than a foot wide; it is a most desolate place, and the country around very barren--quite different from what it is in the neighbourhood of the hot springs. About four miles off is the largest solfatara in the neighbourhood; it is in a little valley, and the actual hot portion is about a hundred and fifty yards across, with a muddy hollow in the middle, out of which runs a stream of hot water: the chrystals of sulphur in the crevices are very beautiful, but it was impossible to take away any specimens without breaking them. I do not know to what depth the sulphur extends, but it did not seem to be above two feet; after that depth there appeared to be nothing but earth, or at all events the earth formed the larger portion of the mass I dug up. The sulphureous rock was very hot even on the surface, but closely surrounded by vegetation. I had knocked off a number of specimens to bring away, when the natives said I should not have them unless I paid for them. I told them I should not want them at all, but that if they would carry them to the boat, which was about a mile and a half off, they should have a fig of tobacco; which arrangement compromised the matter. I had an instance of their thieving talents here for the first time:--I had taken off my coat in order to climb a tree, and when I wanted to find some tobacco which I had put into my pocket, it was missing. This was, however, almost a solitary instance of my losing anything by the natives of this part of the island: of those in the Thames I cannot say so much.
After two or three days' delay, I started from Roturoa with the same natives I had before, and one or two extra ones; among whom was a chief called Rangey-o-nare, who went, he said, as my friend. I found this gentleman very useful in carrying me over muddy places, rivers, &c. on his back; he being the only one of the company at liberty for that purpose, all the others
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being laden with food, &c., which the chiefs are prohibited from carrying on their backs. I did not wish him to go, but was glad of his company afterwards; he was a very quiet fellow, and made himself as useful as could be expected of a chief; the only thing he ever refused was to lend me his tomahawk to cut sticks for firewood--it being "taboo," for cutting open men's heads, I suppose: however, he had no objection to cutting a walking-stick or a tent-pole with it,--a distinction which seems rather ridiculous. The first day's march from Roturoa was about ten miles only, as we started late: the road led through the mud-springs I have mentioned, and was very barren. We crossed several streams, and encamped at the entrance of a wood, where there were several old huts and a potato plantation. The natives had a large copper mowrie to cook the pork they had brought with them; and for the first time I saw them eat the common milk-thistle; they cook it as constantly as the leaves of the wild turnip and cabbage, and seem to relish it just as much: it is so precisely like the English milk-thistle, that I am almost inclined to think it must have come with the potatoe. There is another plant which has puzzled me--the common plantain, which is everywhere quite as general as in England; I can see no difference: not being an article of food, the natives can tell nothing about how or when it came. Were the contrary not well known, the potatoe might be taken for an indigenous plant, as it is impossible to go anywhere without finding it growing wild. As we know it has not been introduced more than fifty years, this diffusion of the root may be considered wonderful. We may be led to suppose, from this circumstance, that the climate is exceedingly favourable to the growth of the potatoe; yet New Zealand potatoes in general are very bad, and will not fetch in Sydney above half the price of those from Van Diemen's Land.
February 24th.--The character of the country in this day's
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march began entirely to change: after a few miles the fern completely vanished, and was replaced by a short wiry grass growing in tufts about a foot high. The road was level, although we were surrounded by hills at no great distance. These were generally quite barren to the very tops. There was, however, a remarkable exception on our right: this was a long mountain called the Horohoro; its direction was about south-west; and it formed the boundary of the plain as perfectly as if it had been a straight wall, which it in some degree resembled. It was, in fact, a perpendicular wall of basaltic rock, rising to about 2000 feet from the surface of the plain; perfectly level on the top, and covered with trees; then suddenly descending perpendicularly for about half its height, and presenting a straight bare wall of rock, rising as it were out of the top of a long, steep, thickly-wooded hill. It was one of the most wonderful as well as most picturesque objects I ever saw. Our road lay parallel with it, and at the end passed round its base. We had crossed several small streams during the morning, and here met with one about ten yards across and two feet deep, which, like all the small rivers I have seen in this country, appeared to have no valley, but to have its course excavated perpendicularly out of the plain to a great depth. After crossing the stream, we had a curious place to ascend on the other side; the path leading up a very steep ridge of hard earth, not above a foot wide, formed apparently by the river making a very sharp turn just at that place, so as on one side of the ridge to be running very nearly in a contrary direction to the other. There I found a new use for my friend the chief. It began to rain very hard, and as Rangey-o-nare and I were ahead of the rest, I should have been thoroughly drenched, had it not been for a plan of his. I sat down on the earth, and he stood up behind me, stooping over my head, and holding out his mat, and seeming just as much diverted
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at the ridiculous figure we cut as I was: however, it answered the required purpose famously, and as there was nobody else to laugh at us, I did not care. As we went on, the land became more and more barren and level, till it became a mere moor, without a shrub, and almost without vegetation; a few bushes of the miserable-looking Dracophyllum being all that occurred to break the monotony of the plain. I discovered here an extraordinary Composite little plant, so small that I took it for a lichen; it grew in flat hard grey patches, and did not rise higher than a quarter of an inch; the patches were in general winding, and I am convinced the sharpest-eyed botanist would have at first mistaken them as I did. I afterwards found another but larger specimen of the same plant, growing near the limits of snow, on the mountains.
As we approached the Waikato, the grass began to improve, especially when we left the plains and entered the narrow valleys, in some of which it was equal, if not superior, to any of the best forest-lands of New South Wales. One plant also of the dandelion family became very abundant, and, I think, would be an acquisition to any pastures even at home, as it would be in perfection in that part of the summer when most grasses are withered. It has narrow grass-like leaves, which grow in thick upright tufts--not spreading, like most plants of the family. Its taste was equal to lettuce. We crossed a large river within about a mile of its junction with the Waikato. It was above thirty yards wide, and about five feet deep. Immediately on leaving its banks, the road passed through a narrow valley, at the other end of which was a remarkable rock, which, the natives said, was formerly a very strong Pa. It appeared as if an immense mass, almost as square as a die, had been pitched from a distance on the top of a small hill, into which one of its corners had stuck. How it came there must be left to conjecture, for it does not appear
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to belong to any of the adjacent mountains. It is altogether about 800 feet high, and the rock on the top composes about half of the whole mass. I saw it afterwards from all sides, and can hardly imagine how any one could ever get up to the top, much less how a village could have existed there. As we emerged from the valley, we saw that the rock was on the other side of the Waikato, which here runs rapidly through a small barren plain of about twenty miles long, hemmed in at each end by narrow gorges. We travelled some miles along the plain to seek a good place for encampment, but did not meet with any wood till nine at night, and then could only get a few stunted Karoaka or Karooka bushes 10 to make a fire with. The soil was so thin, that bushes five feet high came up with a slight pull of the hand. It was entirely broken pumice, large masses of which lined the sides of the river. The first night I spent on the banks of this river was so intensely cold, that I could not sleep. At nine next morning (February 25) the thermometer stood at thirty-nine in the tent. This cold could not be caused by the elevation of the country, as the barometer at the same time was only 29 /40. The morning was bright and sunshiny. After this I had frequent reason to observe the great chilliness of the climate of the interior, the range of the thermometer being rarely above 60 at one o'clock in those parts of the country where the barometer indicated a mean of about twenty-nine inches, and this too in the middle of summer, or rather in what ought to correspond with our July and August. The natives told me that in the winter there was often snow on all this part of the country; and that on the hills around, which were not by any means to be called mountains, it often lay for a week together. In fording a river tributary to the Waikato, I was rather startled to find, that although the water was intensely cold, yet I could not stand still, because
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the sand at the bottom burnt my feet. On one side was a patch of hot earth and a pool of hot water, but I had no idea of anything more. The fact was, that the water at the side was the smallest portion of the hot spring; by far the greater quantity discharging itself through the bed of the river. We constantly passed near places where there appeared to have been springs formerly, and often there was steam hissing from slight fissures in the rocks which might be passed unnoticed. One in particular was under a small waterfall; and I should never have discovered it had it not been that I thought the water made a most extraordinary noise, which I found was caused by the water pouring down on the very hole from which the steam escaped. We arrived on the last bank of the Waikato on Saturday evening, and rested the greater part of the following day; after which we went about three miles down the river in a canoe, and found a temporary encampment of natives belonging to the great Waikato tribe, who had come there for the purpose of catching crawfish, shell-fish, &c., and snaring ducks and shags, which were very abundant. My natives took care not to find these people till it was near the evening, as they thought, if they did, I should go on as soon as I reached the other side of the river, although it was Sunday.
The next day we again embarked in a small leaky canoe, and dropped about two miles further down the river, and landed on the other side, just at the head of some rapids, which prevent further navigation for about two miles. At this place the road, which we had almost lost sight of for several miles, became again quite distinct, and we set off along it for Towpo. At the head of these rapids the river is fordable, and we found about two hundred natives in temporary huts. I could not find out what brought them there. They said it was to make flax, which grew there in great abundance; but in other parts of the
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Waikato country which I have seen it has been much more abundant. The road for about ten miles from the river was very hilly and barren, and lay often through narrow valleys hemmed in with perpendicular rocks, so as to look something like the deep cuts on the railroads at home. There were numerous deep holes in the ground, which would have rendered the road very dangerous at night. I suppose them to have been formerly the sites of hot springs. We passed through this bad road, and, after about a mile of wood, emerged on a gently undulating plain surrounded by mountains in the distance. The land was better than the generality of fern land, but not good: however, there was abundance of water and great capabilities of improvement. At the edge of a wood which forms a belt between the Waikato and Towpo, of about five miles' average width, we found a small settlement, where about fifty acres were in potatoes. They said that maize would not grow there: at all events, they had none planted. They roasted some Swedish turnips, and afterwards dressed them in a copper mowrie. I refused to eat any at first, but tasted a bit and found it excellent, although the smell was disagreeable. The soil is very rich here, but after one or two crops of potatoes it becomes worn out. I am not certain whether the natives meant that maize would not grow in this part of the country in ordinary seasons, because they said this was one of unusual severity. Thermometer at one P.M. 55; barometer, 28 5/20; weather gloomy. This is about the average range of both the instruments after passing the Waikato towards Towpo. We left this potatoe plantation, and, after about two hours' walk, emerged from the wood, and again came on a lot of damp moorish ground, which lasted all the way to Pirato, the next settlement we reached. The natives here brought me two very extraordinary plants, one a gigantic umbelliferous plant, the leaves of which were entirely stiff spines, from four to six inches long, and a curious
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little ball of scarlet spines about an inch and half in diameter, which I afterwards found to belong to a plant with an almost invisible stem, and leaves clinging closely to the ground, so that a careless observer would think that the heads of flowers which he saw scattered about formed the entire plant. I found it to be a new species of Acaena, a genus allied to the common burnet. It is a very beautiful and curious plant, which I hope to be able to introduce into English gardens.
It was about ten at night when we arrived at Pirata. This pa is very strongly situated on the top of some perpendicular cliffs, rising from a small stream which runs into Towpo, from which lake it is only about ten miles distant. The people were not over-disposed to be civil at first, fancying I was only a "Pakiha Mowrie;" but when the missionary lads came up, they quite altered their tone.
It was necessary to make inquiries here about a canoe to take us across Towpo, as Mr. Chapman had before told me there would be a difficulty about it. Next morning, before I was up, the old chief "Pirate,"or "Ze Pirate," came to see me. He is the head chief of this pa, and was quite a gentlemanly old fellow. He said there was one canoe at this end of the lake, and that he would send some people to bring it round to the nearest part. He had several children who had curious sandy-coloured hair, which looked very disagreeable; the others had, as usual, black hair; but I could not find out whether they all had the same mother or not. The wife who came with him was a well-looking young woman, about the age of his eldest son, and apparently a great flirt; she took a great fancy to me--so she said; but it was most probably to my blankets: however, she got a new pipe and some of the weed from me, in return for her compliments and smiling looks.
I found all my men rebellious this morning; they had made
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up their minds not to stir for the day, on the plea of having walked so far on the preceding one. I wondered at their contumacy, and got very angry with them; especially when I found out that our resting-place was only about ten miles off; so I stormed away for some time, and then proceeded to take more violent measures: at least, so far as to lift one or two of them off the ground, and give them a gentle kick behind at the same time, and a few touches with the strap of my shot-belt. I at last got them all loaded and started a-head, threatening all I could imagine in case they did not follow quickly. As I went on ahead with a new guide, I found out the reason of their unwillingness. The old chief had brought them an immense pig for a feast, and as they had already stuffed as much as they could, they wanted to wait till the evening to kill it, and have another good feed. I looked back from the top of a hill, and saw that they were really on their way, and was satisfied; for when I found out the cause of detention, I feared it would prove too powerful for them to overcome--a pig being as irresistible to a New Zealander as turtle to an alderman, especially when it is to be had for nothing.
On reaching the top of a hill I got the first sight of Towpo, and a splendid sight it was. Much as Mr. Chapman had praised it, its appearance far surpassed his description. Just at the same moment, an opening in the clouds gave me a view of the Peak of Tongadido, covered with snow, and vomiting forth a dense column of smoke. It was only in sight just long enough for me to ascertain that it lay due south; and I did not see it again in the day during the whole time I was on the lake. My guide and I arrived on the shore of Towpo about one o'clock, and after waiting about till three, I began to get alarmed at the non-arrival of my men. Shortly after, a native came to say that we had come wrong, and I had to scramble along the cliffs at the
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side of the lake for about a mile, both hungry and angry; to my surprise I found at the place to which I was led, not only my own lads, but the old chief Pirata, with several other men, and women, and boys. On my inquiring about food, they said the pig would be there soon, which I found, to my great surprise, to be the very identical one which had caused me so much trouble at Pirata. This was, it must be acknowledged, a most hospitable action on the part of the old chief, not only to provide a feast for us, but when we would not stay to eat it, to send it after us to try us again. I speedily caused the unfortunate porker to be killed, without allowing him time to recover his fatigue; and immediately set half-a-dozen boys and girls cooking pieces of kidney, liver, &c., on sticks over a fire--a method of cooking which at that time I settled in my mind to be much superior to any other for the inside of a pig.
I distributed some physic to the natives, and was much amused at the cool manner in which they sucked down the nauseous boluses of rhubarb, aloes, peppermint, and the like abominations, without drinking anything afterwards to wash them down. I was provided with this medicine by the kindness of Mr. Chapman; and found it very useful, as the people were all sickly from influenza, which had been violent among them.
The natives are very fond of daubing their heads with a sort of red paint which they call "cocoi;" I saw a large manufactory of it on the banks of the Waikato; a double circle of matwork was formed round a large spring of rusty water, and the curdy carbonate of iron was by this means strained off. After this preparation, it is burnt and mixed with oil, and plastered on their heads and bodies, till they look as if they had fallen into a paint-pot. I understand it is going out of fashion; but it is still so common, that it is impossible to be carried by a native without
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getting your clothes daubed all over with the red dirt which has saturated their mats.
We embarked on Towpo about five in the morning, in a very large Ti-wai (Tee-why) or canoe, hollowed out of a single log of wood, without top sides; those with top sides, of which they have none on this lake, are called Wa-kaw, or in common pronunciation "Walkers." This canoe was the largest of the kind I had seen; there were seventeen paddlers and about ten idlers, besides a great quantity of potatoes and my luggage. We had plenty of room, and for the first few miles went on very well. We had to cross a large bay, the only dangerous portion of our journey, and till that was done I had nothing to complain of in their pulling. After that they fell off sadly. As the wind almost always blows off the east shore, we kept close under it in case of accidents; the morning was, however, very calm, and the lake as smooth as glass. When we got about half-way through the lake, we had a glimpse of the Peak of Tongadido before us, and appearing to rise immediately out of the lake. As we approached the south end, it became again hid by the clouds, which rested on the summits of the lower mountains forming the range. About eleven o'clock we arrived at a village, where we landed to eat. I had not been long there before I was joined by a native called Peter, who had been left by Mr. Chapman to superintend the building of a house, which the natives are putting up for him, and which he will use as an out-station to visit every two or three months, just as the clergymen do in England with their distant flocks. This Peter was a very good native, and quite imbued with a missionary spirit. It was really edifying to hear him read prayers and expound; it was impossible to doubt his sincerity: but I am afraid there are not many such as he--the greater part of the so-called Christian natives being only attracted to become converts by the love of
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change, and the easy mode of life which they enjoy at the missionary establishments.
Peter immediately volunteered to go with me to Tongadido, and I was very glad to have him, as he was known to the inhabitants of Towpo as a missionary native, and consequently could answer for my not being a "Pakiha Mowrie," a character the natives hereabout seemed to hold in great suspicion--owing to the reports of the missionary natives with whom they had had communication--Mr. Peter most likely for one. Had they been more in the habit of seeing white people, they would not have cared much whether they were missionaries or Pakiha Mowries, provided they had plenty of tobacco to give away. After resting an hour at this village, which contained about five hundred inhabitants, we again set off with the addition to our company of Peter and another native belonging to Mr. Chapman, and a chief, a friend of theirs.
In about two hours we reached a second and smaller village, where we had another detention, and where Peter wanted me very much to stay the night: however, I was determined not to be prevented from reaching the south end of the lake that evening, and forced them to set off again, although they told me the nearest way to Tongadido was from that village. One of my natives left me here. He had joined at Roturoa, but was not a missionary native, although I found him at the settlement. He was the worst sample of a New Zealander I had met with, and I was glad of an excuse for saying he should not go any farther with me. I could have had a dozen volunteers immediately in his place, if I had wished it. My boatmen were determined not to go farther than the village at the south end of the lake, for that night at all events; and although it was not three o'clock when we started from the last place, and our destination was not five miles distant, they took care not to
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get there till it was just time to pitch the tent. They never vexed me so much before; but their reason for delaying me was that they were afraid, if they reached the end of the lake before the evening, I should insist on their starting with me for the mountain that night; and they thought it would be much more pleasant to spend it in the village than in the woods, which was just the contrary to my notion.
It may not be amiss here to give a description of Towpo, as I am but the second European who has ever seen it, and as it is not likely to be again visited for a long time. My visit having taken place only three weeks after that of my predecessor (Mr. Chapman), it is very certain my account of it, imperfect as it will be, must be the only one that has ever reached Europe, and may therefore be considered valuable.
Towpo (Taupo, missionary spelling) is one of the most superb lakes in the world--not from its size, although that is considerable, but from the extreme magnificence of the scenery surrounding it. Mr. Chapman considers it to be thirty-five miles long, and twenty broad. I do not think it is quite thirty-five miles, but the width is not over-estimated at twenty. It is situated in S. lat. 39 deg. 35'; E. long. 175 deg. (about). These positions are supposed from the bearings of Mount Egmont, as it is laid down in the charts. Mount Egmont is visible from a mountain which rises interruptedly from the lake. The form of the lake is a sort of irregular triangle, with the two most distant angles forming the north and south ends. The western shore is apparently nearly straight, and the third point of the triangle will be about the eastern boundary of the lake; at this eastern angle is a deep bay about six miles long, running south-east, which is invisible except almost immediately opposite the entrance. The most peculiar feature in the appearance of Towpo is the immense height of the surrounding cliffs; they are always perpendicular,
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although in some instances rising in terraces one behind the other, and vary from five hundred to one thousand feet high at several parts of the lake, particularly at the N.N.W. and N.E. sides; these rise perpendicularly from the water to such a height, that I never saw their tops through the clouds for above five minutes together during the whole time I was on the lake (eight days). There are but few places where a canoe can land, and at those the beaches are very short and narrow: they are covered with pumice and black sand, and always indicate the entrance of a small stream of water. There are a number of small waterfalls round the lake, but none of any consequence; the only river or stream of any size which runs into it being the Waikato, which runs in at the only part of the lake (the south end) where the banks for any distance are level, and the water shallow.
At the north end is a very peculiar mountain, with an outline as regular as if it had been the work of art. At the two extremes of the range are two peaks just alike, and each about one-third the height of the mountain. At about the distance of another third rise two other equal peaks, and in the centre rises the fifth. I suppose it is about five thousand feet high. I am not certain that the centre peak belongs to the same range as the four others. It was undoubtedly considerably farther off, and appeared somewhat bluer than the others. At the south end rose Tongadido, which from the north-east part seemed to overhang the lake; but when we reached the south end it was invisible, and I did not again see it till after ascending a mountain, which cost us four hours' hard labour to climb. It does not happen above every other day that one end of the lake is to be seen from the other--at least so the natives said. I saw the two ends at the same time but twice, and each time very early in the morning. Frequently, even the east shore is invi-
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sible from the west, in spite of its equal height. The cliffs around the greater part of the lake are of a dark greenish colour, tinged sometimes with red, and are basaltic. The fissures are irregular, but run quite perpendicular; and the whole face of the rock presents much the appearance of a mass of common starch, but on a gigantic scale. On the west coast, about the middle, there appears, for a considerable extent, a dazzling white outline; but I do not know what it is. The natives said it was not a very hard stone. The white cliffs were not so high as the dark ones--rarely more than two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet. There is plenty of obsidian near the lake, and it is cast up on the shore in many places, but I did not see any in situ. The water is of a deep blue colour, appears exceedingly deep, and no weeds growing in it.
The river Waikato runs into Towpo at the S.S.E. end, and makes its exit at the north; at the place where it enters, it is a small sluggish river, about twenty-five yards wide, and from two to four feet deep. It runs in a very circuitous course through a long line of mud and rushes, forming the only piece of flat land near the shore. On one side of the river, about two miles distant, is situated the great pa of Towpo, and on the east side, at about one mile from the river, is a small pa, called Coteropo, where I was encamped; there are several other pas on the west side of the lake, and three on the east, but not large ones: it is, however, decidedly the most populous place I have seen or heard of in the island. I should think the population of the pas on the lake could not be less than 5000. The country around, I do not think can be populous; it is too mountainous and bare of wood, and the Mowries only grow potatoes in land which is just cleared, and after about three crops abandon it, and clear another portion of forest. Mr. Chapman imagines that all the land which is now bare of timber has been
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made so by this custom of the natives: but I hardly think such can be the case. It is to be taken into consideration, that potatoes have not been grown in the island for more than fifty years; and the natives must have been both very much more numerous and industrious, to have cleared such a quantity of land in so short a time. Although I do not think the growth of potatoes sufficient to account for the absence of forest over a great part of the country--perhaps more than half--yet it is certain the wood has decreased, from some cause or other, within no great distance of time; as I constantly found logs and roots lying in the wet ground of the barren moors, where they could not have been brought by any natural causes; and they were too distant from any place where they grow at present, as well as too useless, to have been conveyed there. The natives now yearly destroy large quantities of land, by their wasteful system of agriculture, and in time there will be no timber-land left: but this cause has not been long in operation, and is inadequate to the visible effects on the face of the country.
Wood is excessively scarce near Towpo, except in places inaccessible, and land fit for the cultivation of potatoes equally so. In a very few years, all the wood which now clothes the sides of the ravines and bases of the cliffs will be gone, and great part of the beauty destroyed in consequence; even now you see potatoes planted where it is necessary to climb. In fact, on the shores of Towpo, every bit of soil which a man can reach, even at the risk of his neck, is beginning to be planted with potatoes, as they have worn out all the level lands near. Were they to take half the care in the cultivation of the potatoe they do in that of the Kormera or sweet potatoe, they might grow it in hundreds of places which are now only covered with fern, and are in progress towards becoming barren; owing
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to the constant fires which the dry nature of that plant causes to spread in a most destructive manner. A person who paid attention to the subject might easily tell how many years had elapsed since the forest was cut down in any particular place, by observing the height of the fern. In the first year, after its cultivation for potatoes has been discontinued, the fern springs up to ten, or even thirteen feet in height, gradually dwindles down to six inches, and at last vanishes altogether: it is then replaced by a short wiry grass, growing in small tufts, about a foot apart, with nothing between, and presenting the most desolate appearance.
Coteropo, the village where I encamped, at the south-east end of the lake, is a small place surrounded by boiling springs. The whole side of the mountain at the back is enveloped with steam, escaping from innumerable crevices in the soil. The bushes of Veronica and fern-plants grow close to these places, and do not seem to be affected by the heat, unless they are absolutely touched by the boiling water. The portion of land on the side of the mountain where the springs are most numerous is about two miles square, and a great part of it is so covered with springs that nothing grows on it, and it looks as bare as a ploughed field. There are a great many other places on the lake where there are hot-water springs, but not so extensive as at this place. I found here, that the action of the hot water, which was nearly tasteless, (although the vapour smelt of sulphuric acid,) converted the compact black lava into clay of different colours; some of it being quite white, other parts mottled with red and yellow. The stones which overhung the hot places were half converted, while the others were as hard and fresh as if they had been only formed yesterday; the lava is hard, black, compact with white grains, strongly resembling greenstone in general appearance and weight. I physicked some
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more people here, especially an old chief: I was very loath to give this old fellow any, as I did not expect to do him any good; old age seemed to be his only disease; he was a quiet old man, and was led about by a little girl, I suppose his daughter. I gave him some boluses, and told him how to take them, and when I returned, found that he was very much pleased; as he said they had quite cured him--of what it would be difficult to say, for when he first came to me his tongue was as clean and his pulse as firm as anybody need wish. His cure quite established my reputation as a physician, and I had innumerable applicants afterwards.
The natives were very curious to know what was the use of my collecting so much trash in the way of stones and plants; so I told them that we Pakihas made all the "rungwau," with which we cured them, from these things. But even this did not make them more willing to carry a basket of stones, or a portfolio of dried plants: although they would carry twice the weight of tobacco, or my tent, which was very heavy, without any grumbling.
We set off from Coteropo on the morning of the 1st of March, and immediately began to ascend a mountain, which the natives told us was the nearest way to Tongadido. After about four hours' ascent, we reached a bare place on the top of the mountain, and expected to see the peak momentarily: however, when we arrived at the top, no peak was to be seen, but one of the Towpo natives pointed out another mountain which he said was Tongadido. I was excessively annoyed at having been so deceived, more especially with Peter, who I thought must have known his friends were telling falsehoods; but he declared that he was deceived as well as myself. I was very much puzzled to discover where Tongadido could really be, as the mountain which they pointed out appeared to have no peak; and
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I thought I could distinctly see the top of the hill opposite us, through the vapour on its summit. Between us and the other mountain there was a plain and a lake, but I saw it would be impossible to reach it that day at all events. The worst part of the business was, that there was no track to be found down to this lake, and although it did not appear half a mile from us, it took us nearly three hours to force a passage to its shores. The greater part of the side of the mountain was covered with the common arborescent Veronica of New Zealand (V. diosmaefolia), which, from its never becoming anything more than a bush, impeded our passage much more than a large forest would have done, and, besides, prevented our ever seeing the lake or mountain opposite, although the descent was always exceedingly steep. I began to think we must be wrong, and that we had gone round the side of the mountain, instead of directly downwards: but a glimpse of the lake showed my error. Although the lake appeared further off than it did from the top of the hill, yet it was still immediately beneath our feet. Peter and myself at last reached the open plain in which was the lake, and were soon after joined by the rest of the party.
There we found a native who fetched canoes to take us across. At the place where we landed, we found a temporary village with about fifty people, very few of whom had ever seen a white man before. They were very civil, and I agreed to stay there till the next day. One of the people promised to go with us, to show us the proper way to Tongadido. On the top of the mountain I found several exceedingly curious plants: the only one generally interesting is a Gaultheria, not before discovered, perfectly recumbent on the ground, with berries two inches in circumference, in great abundance, and very good to eat, as well as beautiful. Like all the other Gaultherias of New Zealand, this plant has a sort of double identity, there being about half of the plants bearing
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snow-white berries, and the others red ones, but not differing in any other particular. They would undoubtedly grow out-of-doors in England. I afterwards found a third variety, or rather a second species, with pink berries, more beautiful than the red and white ones, but not so good to eat. From this lake, which was called Rotuide or Rotuite (Ro-twe-tee), the character of the vegetation entirely changed. The fern on the open land vanished, and was replaced by grass of which I collected more than twenty species, some of them very good for pasture. The common plantain was also abundant, as it is all over the island; so that if I had not the example of the potato before my eyes, I should consider it indigenous. On the shore of Towpo I found a fine plant of wheat. How it came there the natives could not tell me; and as undoubtedly Mr. Chapman was the only European who had ever visited the place before, and three weeks was too short a time for it to have sprung up and come to perfection, its existence there was very curious. In this little lake there were no fish longer than two inches. There were large flocks of gulls, and of the small species of black and white tropic birds which frequent the coasts of New Zealand. There were also, as on all the other fresh waters of New Zealand, abundance of cormorants of two species--one very large and black, the other black and white, and small; and plenty of ducks. The wood which covered one side of the lake was the only one I ever saw in New Zealand composed entirely of one sort of tree. It was an open forest of Totara,11 and strongly resembled the pine-woods of Canada. The trees were not large, but still large enough to make very good Ti-wais. Canoes and paddles are always made of this wood on the south side of the Thames. It is more brittle than cowrie, but more durable.
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At this village I saw a woman so very light, that she had a perceptible colour in her cheeks. I intended to say to her, jokingly, that she was a white woman (Whaiheinie Pakiha), not a New Zealander (Waihini Mowrie): however, she understood me to ask her whether she would be my waihini, i.e. my wife, and immediately came over to the mouth of the tent where I was sitting, and seated herself beside me--to our great astonishment, for all knew that I never allowed any native to come inside the tent. I was still more surprised to find what an easy conquest I had made. I, however, explained, begging to be excused the honour, as I was a missionary, and missionaries did not marry any but white women. She took it in very good part, which in all probability is more than most English women would have done in case of a similar disappointment.
One great peak of Tongadido slopes up from the lake; but while I was there, I could never see the top of it, in consequence of the quantity of vapour always rolling up the side of the mountain from a great many hot springs which are visible on its sides. From one of these a considerable stream of water runs into the lake, but gets cold by the time it reaches it. The side appeared quite barren, with the exception of a small belt of wood about two-thirds up the visible part of the mountain. Rotuite may be said to be the real source of the Waikato, as the stream which runs out of it is called by the natives; those which run into it are very insignificant. The mean of four days gave for the barometer 28 50/20; thermometer, about 56 deg.
March 2, 1839.--Several of my natives being unwell, I left them behind till my return, and started for Tongadido with only two of the lads I brought from Tawranga. Peter went with me, and several people from Rotuite. As usual, the men carried the children, and the women the potatoes, &c. The procession
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was closed by one or two pigs, which, from the opposition they made to the efforts of their drivers, seemed to have as great a dread of Tongadido as the Mowries themselves. The road led over a tolerably level country covered with grass of many different kinds; the most common was a large wiry one, which I should not think good for cattle. There were, however, many which would be well worth cultivating. I have sent specimens and seeds of most of them to England, where I think they will thrive as well as in their native place. As we skirted the base of the mountain in order to get at the best place for the ascent, we found the ground in general marshy, and crossed a great many small streams, and nearly dry water-courses filled with large stones. The great width of these places would indicate that at some seasons of the year the whole of this country would be impassable from the quantity of water. This was a very dry season, but yet had not dried up the wet places in the moors, although it had nearly exhausted the torrents. We were on Tongadido all day, but the peak was never visible in consequence of the mist which always covered the upper regions. I several times accused the natives of leading me astray, as I could not make out the direction in which we were going as compared with that of the peak as I had observed it from Towpo. About four o'clock we arrived at the junction of two considerable water-courses, where my guides said we must stop; and as I could not see any vestige of wood anywhere else, I agreed. After we had been there about half an hour, the clouds rolled out of the upper end of the valley where we were, and I saw that the cone was close to us, and then found that this, if any, was the proper place to ascend, which the natives still maintained was impossible. The trees which grew here were small stunted coniferous or taxaceous and composite ones. There were none except on the sides of the water-
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course, and they did not lift their heads above the level of the top of the bank on which they grew. The stream which here runs down from the mountain is, I have no doubt, (from observations I made afterwards, compared with what I observed at the time of the general direction of the country,) the one called the Waipa (Wypa) or western branch of the Waikato. It is here a noisy mountain torrent about four feet deep. I regret that I did not ask what they called it, as it is very likely they knew it to be a branch of the river called the Waipa when it flows further to the north. I found out that the road we had travelled was one which formerly led to some part of the Waikato country, but now disused, and that it was the only place where the base of the cone could be seen; that nobody had ever approached nearer than we now were; and that the reason was, they were afraid. They said that formerly when they passed this point of the road they used to cover their heads with their mats, because it was "taboo" to look at the mountain, or at least the peak. The night was exceedingly cold, but I did not feel it so much as I did on the Waikato. I found here a most curious little plant of the yew family (Dacrydium); it was not larger than a clump of moss, and was mistaken for a moss by me when I first saw it. I found here also the curious Forstera sedifolia, and many new composite plants and Veronicas.
March 3d.--When I arose in the morning, I was astonished to see the mountains around covered with snow, except the cone, which was visible from its base to the apex, and appeared quite close. The natives said, the mountain had been making a noise in the night, which, at the time, I thought was only fancy: there seemed to be a little steam rising from the top, but the quantity was not sufficient to obscure the view. I set off immediately after breakfast, with only two natives, as all the others were afraid to
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go any nearer to the much-dreaded place; nor could I persuade the two who did set off with me, to go within a mile of the base of the cone. They, however, made a fire of such small bushes as they could collect, and waited for me till I got back. As there was no road, I went as straight towards the peak as I found possible, going over hills and through valleys without swerving to the right or left. As I was toiling over a very steep hill, I heard a noise which caused me to look up, and saw that the mountain was in a state of eruption: a thick column of black smoke rose up for some distance, and then spread out like a mushroom. As I was directly to windward, I could see nothing more, and could not tell whether anything dropped from the cloud as it passed away: the noise, which was very loud, and not unlike that of the safety-valve of a steam-engine, lasted about half an hour, and then ceased, after two or three sudden interruptions; the smoke continued to ascend for some time afterwards, but was less dense. I could see no fire, nor do I believe that there was any, or that the eruption was anything more than hot water and steam; although, from the great density of the latter, it looked like very black smoke. I toiled on to the top of a hill, and was then much disappointed to find that the other side of it, instead of being like what I had ascended, was a precipice, or very deep ravine, with a large stream of water at the bottom. With some difficulty I managed to get down; and on ascending the other side, I found myself in a stream of lava, perfectly undecomposed, but still old enough to have a few plants growing among the fissures. As I progressed towards the cone, which now seemed quite close, I arrived at another stream of lava, so fresh that there was not the slightest appearance of even a lichen on it, and it looked as if it had been ejected but yesterday. It was black, and very hard and compact, just like all the lava I have seen in this country;
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but the two streams were very insignificant, not longer at the utmost than three quarters of a mile each. I had no idea of the meaning of a "sea of rocks" until I crossed them; the edges of the stony billows were so sharp, that it was very difficult to pass among them without cutting one's clothes into shreds. I at last arrived at the cone: it was, I suppose, of the ordinary steepness of such heaps of volcanic cinders, but much higher. I estimate it at 1500 feet from the hollow from which it appears to have sprung. It looks as if a vast amphitheatre had been hollowed out of the surrounding mountains, in order to place it in. The sides of all the mountains around are quite perpendicular, and present a most magnificent scene. A circular plain of sand at the north-east base would have been a fitting scene for the wildest piece of diablerie that ever entered the brain of a German, or was embodied by his pencil. Thermometer at base of cone, fine sunshine, 65 deg. in sun; no shade to be had. Barometer, 25 14/20.
The cone is entirely composed of loose cinders, and I was heartily tired of the exertion before I reached the top. Had it not been for the idea of standing where no man ever stood before, I should certainly have given up the undertaking. A few patches of a most beautiful snow-white veronica, which I at first took for snow, were growing among the stones; but they ceased before I had ascended a third part of the way. A small grass reached a little higher; but both were so scarce that I do not think I saw a dozen plants of each in the whole ascent. After I had ascended about two-thirds of the way, I got into what appeared a water-course, the solid rock of which, although presenting hardly any projecting points, was much easier to climb than the loose dust and ashes I had hitherto scrambled over. It was lucky for me another eruption did not take place while I was in it, or I should have been infallibly boiled to death, as I afterwards found that it
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led to the lowest part of the crater, and from indubitable proofs that a stream of hot mud and water had been running there, during the time I saw the smoke from the top. The crater was the most terrific abyss I ever looked into or imagined. The rocks overhung it on all sides, and it was was not possible to see above ten yards into it from the quantity of steam which it was continually discharging. From the distance I measured along its edge, I imagine it is at least a quarter of a mile in diameter, and is very deep. The stones I threw in, which I could hear strike the bottom, did not do so in less than seven to eight seconds; but the greater part of them I could not hear. It was impossible to get on the inside of the crater, as all the sides I saw were, if not quite precipitous, actually overhanging, so as to make it very disagreeable to look over them. The rocks on the top were covered with a whitish deposit from the stream, and there was plenty of sulphur in all directions; but the specimens were not handsome, being mixed with earth. I did not stay at the top so long as I could have wished, because I heard a strange noise coming out of the crater, which I thought betokened another eruption. I saw several lakes and rivers, and the country appeared about half covered with wood, which I should not have thought had I not gone to this place. The mountains in my immediate neighbourhood were all covered with snow, and much below me. I could not see the sea in any direction. The natives said that from a mountain near, which they pointed out, I could see Taranacker and the island of Capiti in Cook's Straits: and as this was much higher, I ought to have seen both places from this spot; but the south and east were entirely invisible, from the cloudy state of the sky. I had not above five minutes to see any part of the country, as I was enveloped in clouds almost as soon as I got up to the top. As I did not wish to see an eruption near enough to be either boiled or steamed to death, I made the best of my way
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down. It unfortunately happened that the highest part of the crater's edge was to leeward, otherwise I might have stayed there a little longer. I had not got quite down to the sandy plain I have spoken of, when I heard the noise of another eruption, but am not certain it came from the crater I had just visited. I thought at the time it came from another branch of Tongadido to the northward, on the top of which I had seen a circular lake of water when on the peak. I was half frozen before I reached the ravine, and thoroughly drenched by the mist; so that I was very glad when I found the place where I had left the natives and the fire. I got back to the tent about seven in the evening. The barometer stood when at the base of the cone at 26 1/10 inches; but I could not take it up further than the streams of lava, as I had quite enough to do to get myself along without having anything to hold. The natives said that they had heard the eruption which took place as I was returning, and that the ground shook very much at the time; but I did not feel it, perhaps because I was too much occupied with the difficulties of my path.
When I returned, I was much annoyed to find a party of natives, consisting of three chiefs from Towpo, who had come, they said, to see how I was. Had they brought any provisions, I should not have cared; but being chiefs, that was impossible; and it was equally impossible for me to tell my natives not to give them any. The consequence was, that I was obliged next morning to return to Rotuite, instead of staying another day at the mountain, as I particularly wished and intended, being, in fact, completely eaten out of house and home.
March 4th.--I sent off all the natives but Moning-'aw, who was quite my right-hand man, and told them to have a canoe waiting on the side of Rotuite about sunset, and to have the tent pitched in readiness for me. I then gave Moning-'aw a kettle of
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hashed pig's-head and some cold potatoes to carry, and taking a kit in my own hand, set off in the direction of the water-course in order to botanise. I found the red-flowered variety of the flax (Phormium) growing in the wet places almost as far up as any plants except veronicas. Perhaps this sort would be more advantageous to grow in England than the large common kind. The fibre is equally strong with that of the pale-flowered sort, which is not the case with another species I found afterwards growing on other mountains, which, however, I take to be a distinct species; not a mere variety, as the seed-vessels were hanging, instead of upright. I found also a perfect yew about two feet high. The only perceptible difference, except in stature, was that the seed was not quite so much imbedded as in the English yew.
Barometer at encampment 26 19/20, thermometer 45, at nine P.M., cloudy--mizzle.
I waited several hours collecting specimens and seeds, but afterwards recollected many plants which I had left behind, thinking I could get them nearer home. It will be a lesson to me hereafter never to omit securing a specimen when I first see it. I have lost dozens of new plants by omitting to do so, thinking at the time that I should be sure to get finer ones as I went on. There was but little forest in the line of march to-day; the little clumps of wood which were met with here and there contained chiefly araliaceous plants, strongly resembling those on the coasts, but really different. In the water-courses were Totaras and Kaikateras, as the natives said; but I think they were different trees from those so called by Europeans and the natives of the coasts. A Dracaena was very common, which grew into a tree thirty feet high, two feet diameter. If I can manage to get this tree to England, it will make quite a new feature in ornamental plantations. There are three species here which would grow
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out of doors at home; one is very beautiful. We approached the lake about sundown, and I was rejoiced to see a "tiwai" waiting for us among the reeds, as I was tired with carrying so many specimens. I was no sooner seen than several lads set off to relieve me and Moning-'aw of our burthens, and carry us into the canoe. How such an act of courtesy came to be extended to my companion, I do not know, he being a slave. I suppose, however, they saw that he was a favourite of mine, and thought to propitiate me by it. There was a large flock of the small black and white tropic bird (I do not know its scientific name) hovering over the lake. These were the same birds I saw among the lavas of Tongadido. They have white bodies with some black feathers about the wings, black marks round the eyes, and the characteristic long feathers in the tail. There were also large and small gulls; a small black-and-white cormorant, and a large black one; and plenty of ducks. They were, however, all as wild as ever I saw the same kinds of birds in England, except the cormorants. These and the ducks are common about every river and lake; but the tropic birds I never saw anywhere else except on the coast, and the gulls were rare in the other lakes. The great abundance of all birds seen on Rotuite was no doubt on account of its shallowness, and the great quantity of mud it contained. The natives said that there were no fish in the lake except what I saw, and which were not more than an inch long. The natives had vast quantities of these dried in baskets, which they cook by making them into a kind of soup, but which did not smell sufficiently nice to tempt me to taste. The tent was pitched under some Totara trees, in a very fine open wood, at a sufficient distance from the native huts to avoid fleas, and, for a wonder, with the mouth to leeward. They generally made a practice of pitching it with the door fronting the wind, unless I took care to see that they did the contrary. I could only account for its being otherwise
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to-night by supposing that the wind changed after the tent was pitched. Mahia, whom I had left here because he complained of being ill, was very glad to see me, more especially, I dare say, because he said that they had been rather sparing of their potatoes while I was gone.
March 5th.--It had rained hard all night, and continued to do so this morning; but I was determined to start. I had been very particular in asking the natives if we were sure of going back the same way we came. They said yes, and that it was the only way; but after going about a mile, I saw they had been deceiving me; so I went back by myself to get a guide to take me over the mountain by which we had originally arrived at Rotuite. While I was endeavouring to persuade somebody to go with me, Peter came back and we started together. My guide was a most deserving fellow, and well merited the fig of tobacco I promised him. He went first, and cut all the branches and small trees out of my way, actually working as if he was going to earn his life, instead of a fig of tobacco. Our course was directly up the side of the mountain, at the top of which we arrived in about four hours, all of us perfectly drenched and dreadfully cold. When we arrived at the top, I could not for some time find out the road by which we had before got there; which I should not have much cared about, but that I could not see the tree for which I had taken so much trouble. I was, however, very glad of it afterwards, as during my search, which took up several hours in heavy rain, I found a new dracaena, one of the most beautiful I had ever seen, the leaves being large, and striped with red and yellow. It must be also very hardy, as the natives said that this mountain was always covered with snow in the winter. The dracaena was growing in a little gully on the very top where the barometer stood at 25 11/20; thermometer, 45. I have been fortunate enough to secure a plant of this dracaena, which is now
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growing in Sydney. After a long search, we found the track by which we had passed over the mountain, and by following it I found the tree which had caused me so much trouble. Strange enough, it was the only one of the kind I ever saw. I dismissed my guide, giving his wife a fig of tobacco as well as himself, with which he seemed as much delighted as an English labourer would have been by a person giving him a thousand pounds; indeed I doubt whether the latter would have shown half so much joy. The view of Towpo from the summit was magnificent. Immediately beneath our feet on the Tongadido side, and about half-way towards Rotuite, was a small lake on the side of the mountain, which I had not seen on my former survey of this part of the country. I should certainly have tried to reach it, had it been finer weather. It was about a quarter of a mile across, completely surrounded by forest. The curious part of it was, that it was situated on the side of a steep mountain, without any level land near. We arrived at Towpo before the other party, and I was half afraid they had again been deceiving me and were gone to some other village, which would have been particularly disagreeable, as they had the tent and all the provisions with them. I was, however, soon relieved from my apprehension by seeing them turn the corner of the mountain where it abutted on the lake. I was visited by several of my patients, most of whom said they were better for the physic. There was one old man, a great chief, and a very quiet old fellow, to whom I had been loath to give any physic, as I could not find out anything the matter with him beyond old age. I was, however, agreeably surprised to find that he fancied himself much better, and brought me a pig in return for his "rungwau." He always had a little girl with him--I suppose his grand-daughter. As he was a very quiet, gentlemanly old man, I did not like to offend him by refusing the pig, but gave the little girl some beads, and him
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a fig or two of the "weed," in order to make it up with him. Shortly after, another pig was brought as a present for me because I had ascended Tongadido. I could not find out who sent it, and was obliged to let the natives take it along with them. I found it had been given by some person on the road, and had been driven on by some of the hangers-on of my party. This was a curious circumstance, as most of the natives were exceedingly jealous of my achievement. Fire-wood was very scarce here, so that I was obliged to buy it, giving an inch of tobacco for a back-load, a very high price considering the ordinary prices current of New Zealand. Went a short distance on the lake, back to the village where Mr. Chapman's house was building, in order to please Peter.
March 6th.--Had some difficulty in getting a canoe to-day, owing to a disinclination on the part of my natives to leave the place. I do not know what had become of the canoe we brought with us, but suppose some people who wanted to go to the other end of the lake had taken it with them. When I found out that there was no disinclination on the part of the natives at the village to lend me a canoe, but that only my own natives wished to throw obstacles in the way of going, I soon got over all difficulties by a few figs of tobacco judiciously applied.
I was told, just as I was thinking of starting, that the chief of Towpo wanted to see me, and was waiting for me. I accordingly went to a place where they pointed out three men sitting very gravely; the one in front was the chief. He was a remarkably fine man, upwards of six feet high, and very strongly built--a complete giant. He was also very handsome, and one of the fairest of the New Zealand men I ever saw; indeed I have seen but few women fairer. He did not appear in a particularly good temper, and after about five minutes' talk he suddenly arose from his seat, and began to walk up and down, and stamp, talking all the
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time with great animation. He at last worked himself apparently into a most terrible pitch of fury, at which I only laughed. The cause of complaint was my having ascended Tongadido. I said that a Pakiha could do no harm in going up, as no place was taboo to a Pakiha; that the taboo only applied to Mowries; and finally, that if the mountain was an atua, I must be a greater atua, or I could not have got to the top of it, and that it was all nonsense to put himself in a passion with me, as I did not care for it; but if he would see that the people made haste with the canoe? I would give him some tobacco. I then took out one fig for each of his companions, who sat still all the time without saying a word, and gave him three figs. It proved a most astonishing sedative. He quite changed his tone in a minute and sat down again. He could not help saying, however, that if he had thought I could have gone up the mountain, he would have prevented my ever trying it, and requested me not to tell any other Pakihas of it on any account.
There were no great thanks due to any of them for letting me go, when they had done all in their power to misdirect me; but I thought it as well to let the matter rest, and shook hands with him.
This chief was the most important man I met with in New Zealand; that is to say, his supremacy over the other chiefs was more widely acknowledged. This personal influence had, I suppose, been acquired by his superior courage and physical strength, for in reality all the chiefs are equal by hereditary right, and in all the other tribes it would be difficult to say who was the first chief. Here, however, and throughout all the different villages of the Towpo tribe, he was acknowledged as the "great chief." He had crossed the lake on purpose to see me, and I suppose was rather annoyed to find that I thought of going away without shaking hands with him. He said during his rage, that he "did
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not eat white men;" a pretty strong hint that there were plenty there that would make no difficulty about the matter. This was the only time that a native ever said anything to me more than impertinent; and I believe that the greater part of his rage was put on in order to try if he could not frighten me.
In consequence of these interruptions, it was about twelve o'clock before we could proceed. Peter took leave of me here, as he was going to remain to superintend the erection of Mr. Chapman's house. He brought a pig as a parting gift. He was a most excellent specimen of a native; had been of great assistance to me; and I was very sorry to part from him. I gave him a knife, some beads, and about a pound of tobacco; but his joy at receiving such a magnificent present was not sufficient to clear up his countenance. Mr. Chapman, in speaking of him, afterwards said that his chief fault lay in his heart, which was as soft as a piece of dough, and that he never had reason to find fault with him, except for not knowing how to say "no" to the other natives.
We had not paddled above seven or eight miles when the lake became so rough that we could not get on any further. We were on a lee-shore, with the rocks rising perpendicularly more than six hundred feet above us. Fortunately we were able to run under a natural arch, where we got shelter till the rain moderated; when, finding there appeared no chance of the gale abating, we encamped; there, fortunately, being just room enough under the rocks to pitch the tent. I was much annoyed, and at the same time amused, at this place by the superstitions of the natives. Being wet and cold, as soon as I got out of the canoe I told them to make a fire; accordingly they took the fire they had in the canoe, and putting it as near the edge of the water as possible, blew it up, and added what small drift-wood they could find on the beach. Presently it began to rain again, and I took up a log and threw
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it under a projecting rock, where I saw an old mat and some sticks and rubbish; immediately they set up a terrible outcry that the place was taboo because somebody had died there. I said I did not care; but they gave me to understand that if I persisted, they should all die. I assured them that if they did not make the fire, nor come near it, certainly nothing could harm them, and as for myself I was very willing to run the risk. At last they gave in, seeing I was determined to have my own way. I wanted something to eat, and told them to put my pot on. It was brought, and I placed it on my own fire; however, seeing that theirs was better than mine, I took it off and carried it over to theirs. Before I could set it down, they snatched it out of my hand, and made a worse outcry than ever. Their fire was taboo; it was the fire they had brought in the canoe, and was not for cooking. I was greatly annoyed, and gave them a good scolding for their nonsense, telling the missionary lads that they ought to know better than attend to such stuff. At length they agreed to make a fire in earnest, especially when I pointed out to them that unless they did so, they would have nothing to eat most likely for that day and the next, as it was not probable the swell on the lake would subside very quickly after such a gale of wind. When they had pitched the tent and had lighted the fire, I allowed them to kill a pig, which set all right; at all events, I heard no more about the taboo. The gale increased all night, and it was lucky I had broken the taboo of the corner sheltered by the projecting rock, of which the natives now gladly availed themselves. I think had it not been for this they would have died of the wet and cold, as there was no possibility of making a shelter of branches, &c., which they usually do when they have occasion to sleep in the woods in bad weather.
March 7th.--Detained at the tabooed place all day by the heavy swell; the wind began to subside about mid-day, and the
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rain ceased. Found several curious plants; an Andromeda, and a very curious Rubus with a gigantic woody climbing stem; the plant and leaves covered with bright yellow prickles.
March 8th.--Obliged to make a start this morning, although the lake was still very rough, because we had eaten up all our potatoes, and almost all the pork. We did not, however, advance very far, as the lake continued so rough that it was very dangerous. We landed at the first small beach we could make, and again pitched the tent on account of the rain: after two or three hours, as the wind had fallen a great deal, we again set off, and were fortunate enough to reach our port in safety. As we went on, young Pirata asked me to fire a gun, to inform his father of our return. Soon after I had fired, we saw smoke ascending, as a signal that we had been observed, and about three o'clock reached the place from which we had originally embarked on Towpo. Found old Pirata still there, and expecting us: he had got another pig for us and plenty of potatoes; he was exceedingly glad to see us again, and my natives stayed up all night relating my exploits in ascending the mountain. As the journey was over so far as my extra hands were concerned, I paid them off: there were eight of them, whom I had employed for eight days; and I gave each five figs of tobacco and a pipe, with which they were perfectly satisfied. I also gave half a fig each to my own natives, and one to Rangey-o-nare (Rangi-o-nare), the chief who had come with me from Roturoa: this was rather a treat to them, as I had kept them very short for the two or three previous days, in consequence of their bad behaviour. I gave old Pirata twenty figs and a pipe, and a knife to each of his sons, who had been with me the whole time, and were as good, quiet lads as one could wish to meet with: as for the old chief, he was really quite a gentleman of the old school--there was a quiet, unpresuming dignity about
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him which nobody could fail to observe and admire. It was a most kindly-meant thing of the old man to send his sons with me, and they were of great use as letters of introduction; in fact, of far greater use than nine out of ten of such letters which I have delivered.
The natives about Towpo were not so well-looking a set as they are in some other parts of the island; this was more remarkable in the women than in the men: the handsomest girls I saw were two daughters of old Pirata, who, with their fine mats wrapped round their waists, looked quite as graceful as many of the pictures of Hindoo girls I have seen in similar dresses--or rather I should say, in dresses similarly worn,--for the thick New Zealand mats would not be very comfortable dresses in India. The older women, and particularly those who have children, wear their mats over their shoulders instead of round their waists; which is not near so graceful, but becomes them better, as I do not consider suckling improves the form--especially among those, who, like the New Hollanders, &c., suckle their children over their shoulders.
March 9th.--My men were very loath to move this morning, but I succeeded at last in starting them. I took a very affectionate leave of old Pirata; his sons and daughters accompanied us for some distance on our road along the lake-shore, and when they left us, there was such a shaking of hands and rubbing of noses as detained us more than a quarter of an hour. I gave each of the young ladies a few blue beads, with which they were highly delighted, for in this part of the country beads have not yet lost their value. As I understood we were going back to Pirata (the Pa), although by a different road, I would not let the natives take any potatoes or pork with them; but after walking for several hours, I felt certain we must have kept it at some distance, or else that we were going a very
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roundabout way, in order to afford an excuse for staying there all night: however, on inquiry I found we were not going at all towards it, but direct to the Waikato, on our way homewards. I now began to repent of not having allowed any food to be brought, as I knew well it was a tremendous distance to any potatoe-ground, and that we should be half-starved before we got there. About mid-day we gained the road by which we had arrived at Pirata, and continued in it for several hours: we then struck off toward the south-east, so as to cross the Waikato at a higher point than we had done before, and our course ceased to be over the barren moor which I have before mentioned. The wood was part of the same belt I have already spoken of as running parallel with the course of the Waikato. At the part where we now crossed, there was the finest forest I had seen in New Zealand; the trees were chiefly Totara of gigantic size, and grew close together. The land also was very rich and level. I here saw some of the largest Fuchsia trees (Pohutukataka) I had met with in the country; they were at least a foot in diameter,--the wood is almost as light as cork,--the flowers are about the size of those of the common Fuchsia, but not so brilliant; it is a deciduous tree.
Rangey-o-nare and myself, having nothing to carry, had pushed on very much faster than the rest of our party, and consequently arrived at our proposed halting-place about six o'clock, where there were a hut and the men and women whom we had first seen on the other side of the Waikato, which river was now about four miles distant. I found that these people had crossed the river on purpose to meet us here, doubtless for the sake of some more tobacco. I suffered dreadfully on this day's march from sore ankles, which, from fatigue, I had so often kicked, that they were entirely raw, and seemed likely to continue so for some time. My best hand, Moning-'aw, arrived with the
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tent about an hour after; but I began to fear the others had taken a different road, as they did not come up till eight o'clock: they were all dreadfully fatigued, which was not to be wondered at, as they had had nothing to eat from six in the morning, except a few raw potatoes and raw craw-fish, perhaps at the rate of two potatoes and one craw-fish each man. I did not, however, pity them much, as if they had not deceived me about the road they intended to take, they might have arrived at the resting-place long before they did.
March 10th.--We this day employed all our strength to carry potatoes, as we knew that none were growing within two days' journey--the women came with us for the purpose of carrying our first day's meals. We had great difficulty in crossing the Waikato, owing to the smallness of the canoe and the want of paddles; for the people who had left it there for us had, I suppose, hidden them so completely, that we could not find them in half an hour's search, and consequently were obliged to pull her for about five miles against a current like a mill-stream. The road over which we now passed to Roturoa, I have already described.
March 12th.--Last night, at about ten miles' distance, we could plainly smell the hot springs of Roturoa. We got into the great Pa at ten o'clock, but were obliged to remain there all day in consequence of the wind not permitting us to cross over to Mr. Chapman's in a canoe. During my absence, the Waikato people had attacked Muckatoo--a town on the sea-coast east of Tawranga, which belonged to the Roturoa people, who said they thought Mr. Chapman was gone there to try to make peace. This news made me more than ever anxious to get over to the mission-house, and I exerted all my eloquence to persuade the natives to launch a canoe, but to no purpose. When at last they chose to take me over, it was after tea-time at Mr. Chapman's.
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I did not then know what was their reason for keeping me there so long, as I was sure they could have crossed the lake before, had they chosen to do so. I afterwards discovered they were debating whether or not they should kill my two Waikato men, Moning-aw and Mahia, and were only prevented by the opposition of Rangey O'Nare, and the consideration that they were but slaves; it had been such a nice point that they had actually loaded a musket to shoot them. I am very glad I did not know this at the time, for I might have made matters worse than they turned out, as I was uncommonly angry at being kept there so long, and the having nothing to eat all day had not improved my temper: although very hungry I did not like eating what was dressed in the hot springs; and there was no wood to be had in the whole Pa for love or money. I had an instance to-day of the great value the natives sometimes set on their ornaments of green stone maries (meri), as the whites call them. I saw one which I admired, which was not so elaborately carved as some are, but simply a straight piece about five inches long and half an inch wide; on my asking the native to sell it, he had the moderation to demand my double-barrel gun for it, nor would he lower his price: this was in fact but another way of telling me that he would not sell it at all, it having been a present from a deceased friend. These pieces of jude might be very easily imitated in England, but I do not think they would then be valued by the natives more than large beads, or anything else of the kind, as their value certainly arises from their having been made by a friend who is dead, and given by him to the possessor --somewhat in the same way we value a keepsake; but the feeling is of a much more superstitious character with these people than with us.
I cannot describe the delight I felt in again visiting a house belonging to one of my own countrymen--heightened by the
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extremely kind manner in which Mr. and Mrs. Chapman received me. I shall never forget the pleasure of that evening. The tea and bread were great delicacies to me, as I had not tasted either for several days, although I had been very sparing of the supply of bread I took with me, and had managed to keep it much longer than I otherwise should, by cutting it into slices and drying it before the fire: my tea and sugar had been washed away in crossing Towpo. Mr. Chapman was delighted to learn that I had been able to ascend to the summit of Tongadido, as the natives had always asserted to him that it was impossible, in consequence of the precipitous nature of the ascent; but he intended to try it when he next went there: he said the news of my having ascended the mountain would soon be carried all over the island, as indeed I found afterwards it had. The report of the attack on Muckatoo was quite true, and at the time I arrived, several young natives who had been despatched there on missionary business had been taken prisoners, and it was expected that some had been killed: under all the circumstances, Mr. Chapman said he should not feel justified in allowing me to proceed to Tawranga, until he had received further news of the war-party, who were said to be actually occupying the road I should have to travel. I accordingly passed several days at Roturoa, and employed myself very pleasantly in examining the dif- ferent hotsprings and solfataras around the lake; at the same time I made several valuable additions to my collection of plants.
March 13th, Tuesday, to Wednesday, March 2lst.--Employed these days in visiting all the most remarkable parts of Roturoa. The boiling-springs extend over the whole country around the lake, and are some of them very large; the great one at the Pa pours forth a stream of water four feet wide and one foot deep; the waters are perfectly clear, and nearly tasteless; they are,
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however, slightly styptic, and many of the rocks near are covered with an efflorescence very like concrete sulphuric acid, but is, I suppose, an aluminous salt with a great excess of acid. The natives of Roturoa have very bad teeth, said to be the consequence of always eating their food cooked in these streams; but I saw many of them here with as good teeth as elsewhere: there was one girl at Mr. Chapman's who had, I think, as fine a set of teeth as I ever beheld, and she was altogether so beautiful that I very much wished for her likeness, to have sent to England as a favourable specimen of New Zealand beauty. I discovered in the woods here a species of Eugenia, bearing an eatable fruit, and a most beautiful epiphytal orchideous plant12, with a very powerful perfume: if this plant would grow out of doors in England, as I think likely, it would be quite a new feature in gardens. I bought for two blue beads a cockatoo--or rather parrot (nestor), the most common bird in New Zealand, and good to eat--the natives catch them by means of tame ones: they make a little shelter in the woods, and then hide themselves in it, with a stick in one hand, and a string, to which the bird is tied, in the other; they then tease the parrot, which makes a great noise, when the others come to fight him, and are knocked down. It is strange so sly a bird should be caught in such a way, as I could never manage to get near enough to shoot one. The tame parrots or "cacas" have always an ornamental ring round one of their legs, which is generally made of human bone.
Wednesday, March 21st.--Left Roturoa. The reports about the war-party were so contradictory that I doubted their truth, and being anxious to return to Tawranga, I determined to run the risk of encountering them. As I landed from the boat
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which Mr. Chapman had provided for me, a woman very coolly asked me if I did not want a wife; this was rather a bad sample of the morals of the Roturoa people, and particularly as several of the natives belonging to Mr. Chapman were present, and would take back the report to the island: not being a "marrying man," I begged to be excused. We passed over the same road we had travelled on our way to Roturoa without meeting with any adventure till after we had encamped for the night. About ten o'clock, as I was lying in bed, I thought I heard a dog sniffing close to my head, and on getting quickly up I heard something make a rustling noise through the bushes; this alarmed me very much, as it was certain there must be some one near, or there would be no dog; I accordingly awoke my companions and told them what I had heard, which was confirmed at the same time by the howling of a dog at a short distance; they were much frightened, but said it was no use doing anything till the morning; and that I need not be afraid, as there was no danger of my being killed even if they were, which I thought but too probable. My two Waikatos, Mahia and Moning-aw, were perfectly comfortable about it; it was now their turn to be so, as the people dodging us, if any, belonged to their own tribe, while these who had been so easy while the debate was going on at Roturoa on my final return to the Pa, were in great alarm; I was, however, surprised to find them all asleep about two hours afterwards, while I, who was in no danger whatever, could not rest for the remainder of the night. It would have been a shocking thing to have reflected that I had caused the death of so many human beings, merely by my selfish perverseness in setting off from a place of safety in opposition to the advice of those who knew the danger so much better than I did, and who so kindly and anxiously had warned me against it. No more alarms, however, occurred during the night, but we were very careful
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not to make much fire in the morning, lest the smoke should betray us to any outlying war-party.
Thursday, March 22nd.--We encamped in the evening at the same place as on our first night from Tawranga. We were then in a sheltered place, and although we could have gone several miles farther towards our journey's end, we thought this preferable, the remaining part of the road being an open plain, where we should have been exposed by the light of our fires for twenty miles around, and morning might have found us all with our throats cut. We passed during the day, with some anxiety, the road which led from the Waikato to Muckatoo, where the war-party was said to have encamped while we were at Roturoa; but no war-party had been there, for the path required good eyes to discover it. We found the marks of three people having slept not far from our last encampment, and there was no doubt that the dog which caused us so much alarm belonged to them. We afterwards learnt they were Tawranga people returning from Roturoa, and had set out from a different part of the lake on the same day as ourselves.
Friday, March 23rd.--The hottest day I felt in New Zealand. Thermometer 65. The view of Tawranga as you approach it from the land side is very beautiful; Manganorie, the solitary hill at the entrance of the harbour, is a splendid object; were it necessary it might be made a second Gibraltar. When I arrived at the missionary station there were three vessels in the harbour, so that I did not expect much difficulty in getting up to the Bay of Islands. I also learnt that a large war-party, or Tower, was on its way from Muckatoo to the Waikato, and was expected daily, and that there was no truth in the report of a party having been between Tawranga and Roturoa.
Saturday, March 24th.--Finding there was no chance of either of the vessels going to the Bay for a week or more, I would
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willingly have explored the Waikato country, but was dissuaded by the missionaries, who said I was certain of being robbed, as a war-party never respected persons, and that even the missionaries themselves would be stripped if they were to fall in with a party on its march. They so strongly dissuaded me from going that I waited for several days; but as there was no further sign of the "Tower" I began to get impatient, and at last made up my mind to set off and run the risk of meeting them. I provided myself with a sort of safe-conduct from the wife of a white man at Tawranga, who was a Waikato woman and a chief, and a great friend of mine; and also I took a white man with me who knew the people well. It was, however, obvious that "Mary" or "A-poi," the woman I have mentioned, did not place much confidence in the forbearance of her friends, even when visiting them with a kind of letter of introduction from her, for she sent me by a road at least thirty miles out of my way, for no other reason that I know of than that I might not run the risk of meeting her countrymen.
Thursday, March 29th.--We were nearly all day doing what four hours' good paddling in a canoe would have done, from the unwillingness of my crew. Our route was along the harbour of Tawranga, which extends for many miles to the northward, almost as far as Mercury Bay; it is a long, narrow, and very shallow channel, formed by several flat islands lying close to the coast, and laid down on the charts as part of the main land. Several rivers have their outlets into it, up one of which we went and encamped for the night. We found that a party from Mattamatta had occupied the place (which was the first ford of the river) just before us, and we were glad to find them actually gone; they had, however, left such multitudes of fleas behind them that next morning I was a mass of red spots; it was a lesson to me afterwards never to occupy a deserted encampment
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of the natives. The cliffs we passed on this day's journey were very curious, they were about twenty or thirty feet from the water, and consisted of perfectly horizontal layers of a clay resembling chalk in appearance, but composed of decayed pumice, with occasional intervening layers of a black vegetable substance evidently passing into coal. One of the seams was about a foot thick, it was the under one, but had no consistency, and when pressed it crumbled in the hand so as to discover its component parts, which were leaves, twigs, and seed-vessels of plants now forming the flowers of the island; this must be as recent a coal formation as may be seen in any part of the world. The natives said that they used it as fuel, but they cannot do so to any extent, as the trouble of procuring it would be greater than would be required to get wood, owing to its situation, at or rather below the edge of high-water mark.
Friday, March 30th.--Our road to-day lay over a range of mountains called the Arrohaw; the ascent on this, the eastern side, is gradual, but in many places on the other side almost a wall; the whole range was thickly wooded, denoting a very good quality of land. I here first saw the great Dracophyllum; it formed a small tree about six inches in diameter, and twenty feet high; it is one of the most curious plants in the world; the leaves grow in tufts at the ends of the branches, just as in the dragon tree (Dracaena), and are the same shape, but in this species they are elegantly reflexed, like the feathers of a soldier's plume; they are a foot long and an inch broad at the base. The bunches of flowers (which I did not see, the plant being in seed) are, I believe, white; as large as moderate bunches of grapes, and of the same shape. I have very little doubt that it would grow out of doors in England, but could not succeed in getting any ripe seed. I also saw here for the first time the gigantic tree fern (Mummuke), the young fronds of which are
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eaten by the natives, as well as the soft part of the head of the trunk, corresponding to the cabbage of the palm. In its natural state it is very slimy, so that if you bite it, you will find some difficulty in spitting it out again; but by long baking in the native ovens, it becomes of somewhat the consistency of baked apple, which it would resemble in taste if it were at all acid. Nevertheless, it is by no means disagreeable. I measured some fronds twenty-two feet long, and at the base eight and a half inches in circumference; it far exceeds in beauty any other fern-tree I have ever seen; the largest trunks were not more than eight inches diameter. I was surprised to learn that fern-trees are very easily transplanted; in fact, if cut off with an axe, and the trunk buried about a foot, it will rarely fail of growing after a short time. This range of mountains was level at the top, and when viewed from a distance appeared like a wall. I however found it difficult to determine when we were on the highest part of the pass, as we traversed many minor hills and valleys while actually on the top of the range. I was at last much pleased to get a glimpse of a great plain to the westward, which showed at all events we had at length actually passed the highest part. I imagine this range to be about 4000 feet high at the north end; it becomes very gradually lower towards the south, but still keeps its wall-like appearance: on this range as well as on several high hills along the coast, there are very singular pillar-like rocks standing in groups on the summit, some of them cannot be less than a hundred feet high, and yet appear mere pillars. I regret that I was never able to approach any of them so as to discover of what kind of rock they were composed--they always appeared to be completely covered with bushes, so that they could not be clusters of pillars of columnar basalt, which would have remained naked from the imperishability of its nature.
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At one point of to-day's journey on a narrow neck of land, which was far from being the highest, I saw the ocean to the eastward, where it appeared close beneath my feet--and westward about fifty miles distance, at a place called Carwia or Carfwea--for I do not know the correct orthography of the name, which is a very puzzling one to spell, as we have no letters to represent the peculiar blending of the "r" with some other sound before the "w," it might as well be an "h" as an "f," but most Europeans, to make the matter easy, call it at once "Carfeea." We met a party of about a dozen natives, chiefly women, who were going to join the "Tower;" they said that the great party had left Mattamatta three days before, so that we were sure not to meet them,--a piece of intelligence I confess I was not sorry to receive.
Saturday, March 31st.--Continued our descent of the mountain, and entered the great plain of the Thames, or "Waiho," the most splendid piece of country I have met with for the purposes of colonization. This plain is, I should think, about one hundred miles long, and varying from twenty to thirty broad; it runs north and south, being bounded on the east by the perpendicular wall of the Arrohaw, and on the west by the mountains on the west coast. The river Thames runs through it, and is deep enough to be navigated by track boats or light steamers for a great distance. At the place I crossed it was about five feet deep and one hundred yards wide; the stream is however so strong, in spite of the apparently perfect level of the country, that it would be useless to attempt ascending it by oars, or sails. The whole plain, with very little exception, is clear of wood:--it is abundantly watered, and would I think be one of the most splendid situations for a colony that could be found in the whole world. It must not be considered that this plain belongs to the river, for it is evident that such
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is not the case, as it is impossible so insignificant a river could have scooped out such a valley. The river, it is true, runs through it, but is also formed in it by the innumerable streams which run off its mountainous barriers on both sides; it in fact takes its rise in the plain, and consequently could not have formed it. The body of the soil is, as are all the best soils in the country, decayed pumice; but in several parts, more especially on the east of the river, I saw large tracts covered with stones: these tracts, however, formed a mere trifle in comparison with the good parts. The chief fault of the plain at present is its excessive wetness,--about one half is a complete marsh; but nothing would be easier than to drain it; and which ought to be done, at a very trifling expense, as there are deep water-courses running through the plain in all directions much lower than the marshy spots; but they have always elevated banks, which prevent their acting as drains for the portions of land which they traverse, but as soon as the bank was cut through, the land would drain itself. The longest marsh we had to cross to-day was about four miles; the natives wanted to carry me as they had previously done, but I was afraid of their falling with me and making me dirtier than I should be in wading through the mud without their assistance. I nearly stuck fast several times, and was obliged to tie my shoes with flax, in order to keep them on my feet: the mud was in many places three feet deep, of a soft custard-like consistence, and of a light brown colour, from the decomposed vegetable matter. I was heartily rejoiced when I was told we were near the end, when suddenly a bunch of reeds on which I had relied gave way, and I sunk up to my middle, so that I was obliged to call assistance to get out. After passing the marsh we went through a grove of about a mile square of Kaikatora and Totara trees of enormous size. The Kaikatoras were loaded with their
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beautiful scarlet and black fruit, which looked like a blaze of flowers. Here the natives brought me to a pool, saying that I ought to wash, in order to be clean when we came to the Pa, which was close by. I was much amused at this piece of vanity, which I humoured, because it was agreeable to myself, and not that I cared how I looked on my arrival before the critics of Mattamatta. The natives it was evident did not like appearing as guides to a shabby fellow, and thought it would raise their consequence with their friends if I looked more like a great man than was usually the case with their visitors.
Mattamatta is situated on a slight elevation in the middle of the plain, and is a Pa of some consequence. Its chief defence besides the stockades consists in the marshes which almost surround it. There was a mission establishment at Mattamatta, (or as the missionaries call it, Matamata,) but it was abandoned in consequence of the bad conduct of the natives, who robbed the resident missionary (Rev. A. M. Brown, now of Tawranga); they are now very desirous of persuading missionaries to return, but do not deserve to succeed. In consequence of the war-party having drained the population, there were none but old men, young women, and children, in Mattamatta. The women were the best-looking set I ever saw; they were almost all strikingly handsome. The natives of this place have a very indifferent character, so that although it is many years since white men first visited it, there was but one resident at this time, and he was from home. As it is one of the best places in the island for buying pigs, it is evident there must be some truth in the reports of their bad propensities, or more persons would venture there to secure so good a harvest. The native who had charge of this man's house, permitted us the free use of it, as if it had been his own. It was a terribly ruinous place, built many years since, when Mattamatta was a great mart for flax.
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In the plains near, I saw the finest specimens of the flax-plant I ever met with; they were at least twelve feet high, covered miles of the plain, and were growing in all the moist places not actually bog. The people brought large baskets full of the berries of the Kaikatora (Dacrydium excelsum) for sale. I bought them at the rate of one inch of tobacco for a bushel: these berries are very like those of the yew, but not slimy: they are good tasted, and form a great part of the food of the natives during the season in those places where the trees are abundant; they are produced in such quantities as to give the trees a scarlet appearance.
April 1st.--Began to retrace our steps towards Tawranga; the first few miles were over the same road we had before travelled. Several natives who were going to join the "Tower" accompanied us. I was much amused at seeing their wives cross the river; I had crossed before they arrived, making a gigantic chief carry my clothes in order to keep them dry. I dressed, and sat down on the bank to await the arrival of the rest of the party. When the women came they loosened their mats, and then stooped down at the edge of the water, into which they walked, still stooping, so as to show nothing but their knees; as they got into deeper water they gradually straightened themselves until at last they were chin deep, still holding their mats above their heads; when they got into the shallow part on the other side they again began to stoop, and at last dropped their mats in their proper places and stepped ashore; appearing as much diverted as I was at the great pains they were taking to preserve decency. The men had no such difficulty; for they coolly stripped, and walked into the water just as if no woman had been present. We encamped at the foot of the mountain, near a waterfall which had been conspicuous for the last two days, and close to the place where Mr. Piatt was robbed, (see report of the com-
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mittee of the House of Lords,) and left to find his way home to Tawranga in his shirt. The "Tower" had made this a resting-place, and there were sheds enough erected to accommodate about five hundred men; the place as usual was swarming with fleas. The encampment was put up without much regard to order; the greater part of it consisted of sheds about four feet high, open on one side, and very long; one was a hundred and fifty feet, and just wide enough for a man to lie across. It was exceedingly cold, and wood was very scarce, the war-party having consumed every bit that could easily be procured. The mountain rose almost perpendicularly behind us, and was bare for a small distance from each side of the path, everywhere else it was thickly clothed with wood. The river from the waterfall, which I have before spoken of, ran within fifty yards of our feet in a deep ravine, the sides of which were more thickly covered with fern-trees than I ever saw elsewhere. I think that the glowing terms in which many speak of the ferns are not borne out by their general appearance; it is only when seen from above that they are such surpassingly beautiful objects; seen from below I do not think they are equal in beauty to the generality of palms. While the supper was cooking I tried to reach a waterfall in the vicinity of our resting place, but was benighted on the mountain, and should probably have lost my way had it not been for the fires of the party below me. I got far enough to see that the only possible way to reach the edge of the fall would be to walk down the bed of the river; for how great a distance I could not then tell, but was determined to try next morning.
April 2nd.--The natives informed me that the river crossed the road we should travel to-day at no great distance from the fall, so I accepted of their guidance in preference to hunting out a more direct route through the wood. About half a mile after reaching the edge of the wood, on the top of the hill, we found the river, which was about fifty feet wide and knee deep. I
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waded down it till I reached the edge of the fall, which is at least five hundred feet perpendicular; and, although not a fall of much consequence, so far as the amount of water is concerned, it is the largest I have seen in New Zealand; and indeed, if it were in Europe, would be considered well worth travelling many miles to see. I was much astonished at so considerable a stream running from what appeared so narrow a ridge of land, for seen from the plain the Arrohaw range appears a mere wall. It was not till I had travelled for the whole day on nearly level land across the range that I could believe myself so much deceived: every quarter of an hour as I went on I expected to get a glimpse of the sea, but did not reach the other declivity till about four p.m. The whole of the range is thickly timbered, and the soil good and well watered with small streams; the ascent from the land (west) side is, unfortunately, nearly impracticable for carriages of any description, but on the sea (east) side it is much more gentle. The road was dreadfully bad, owing to the passage of so large a body of men over the soft clayey soil, and in so narrow a path; for they must have travelled, as usual, in single file.
At the edge of the fall I was astonished by a splendid view of the whole range of Tongadido, consisting of five peaks all covered with snow. They lay nearly S. S. W. of this place; which compared with its relative position, ascertained previously by me, of east by north of Cape Egmont (when I was at Tongadido, Cape Egmont bore west by south), will give its exact position. Tongadido seemed at a great distance, looking like a mere white cloud, for which it might have been easily taken but for its distinct outline. As we passed on our road to-day, the marks of the passage of the war-party became more and more recent, and we expected momentarily to overtake some of them, but fortunately did not. We encamped by the side of a stream, close to the place where we emerged from the wood, on the bare tract of land which skirts the sea-coast in this part of the country. Some
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of my natives went on to see where the "Tower" was, and reported that it was over the hill at the bottom of which we were encamped. I was rather alarmed at this news, thinking they might come back and rob us in the morning, in order to get themselves into practice for their intended exploit at Muckatoo; they did not however molest us, and we passed the night in quietness.
April 3rd.--We were not now above six or seven miles from Tawranga, or at least from Otumoiti--the place from which I had started--but it was impossible to get there without passing through the war-party; and I pushed on, more than half expecting to be robbed, and perhaps stripped. We came up with it at a creek which we had occasion to cross; they had encamped on the other side of this water, and we were obliged to ask them for a canoe to cross it in. About twice as many as were wanted immediately started with two canoes, and I was compelled to divide my things between them, in order to prevent a quarrel, which they seemed much disposed to pick if possible. I became more comfortable, however, when I saw among the crew of one of the boats a chief of Monotapoo, whom I had seen at Tawranga, and knew to be a very good fellow. On landing I was immediately surrounded by all the rabble of the party, and had hard work to keep my temper with them; the chiefs as usual said nothing, and kept aloof, but the mob of slaves and boys began to twitch my clothes and gun as I passed along, and make all kinds of impertinent remarks; however, I walked on as fast as I could under the guidance of my Monotapoo friend, and after about a mile got rid of all but the most determined of my persecutors. We then came to another creek much wider than the last, where I was carried across on the shoulders of one of the natives: here I lost my two best men--Mahia and Moning-aw--who were detained by their friends to have a howl, according to their custom of showing gladness when they meet. I was very
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sorry that these fellows stayed behind; because, being the steadiest and most trustworthy of my followers, I had given them my dried plants to take care of, and I thought it too much to expect that they would be able to prevent such a prize as a dozen quires of cartridge-paper from being distributed amongst their friends. I consequently gave up as lost my much-prized specimens, and was proportionately overjoyed when I saw them enter Otumoiti about two hours after me, with their loads quite safe.
People in England imagine that splendid specimens of carving are common among the New Zealanders, but such is far from being the case; the only specimen I met with in the country, which I thought worth having, was a paddle I saw to-day; it was most beautifully carved all over the blade, and I tried to buy it, and even offered ten pounds of tobacco for it, but without success. It was "taboo," and I dare say the value of one hundred pounds would not have bought it at this time, as it was, I understood, connected in some way with the present war.
While crossing one creek where we had to wade above half a mile, a native told me one of the women was tattooed behind like the men. I asked her if it was the case, and she said, yes, and that if I would wait and let her get on a little ahead, she would show it, which she accordingly did to my great edification. It is a very rare thing for women to be tattooed anywhere but about the lips and chin, and this was quite a curiosity. I used to think it rather ornamental in the men, but what its use can be in a woman I cannot imagine, as they are always covered: the women are often quite covered with blue marks, which might be called tattooing in England; it is of the same kind as sailors are so fond of pricking into their arms; but it is a totally different thing from the elaborate engraving on a New Zealander's face or rump:--inasmuch as in one case the skin is cut and remains in the same pattern as the stains, and in the other
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the marks do not at all affect the smoothness of the skin. I have seen the arms and bodies of the New Zealand women so covered with these powerful blue marks, that they looked as if they had on them a tight-fitting figured chintz dress.
April 4th.--The war party do not seem much inclined to fight--they have been a fortnight advancing a distance which ought to have been easily travelled in two days--they did not reach Otumoiti till this evening, and will, I am happy to say, leave it early to-morrow morning, in order to save the tide, as did they not leave at the time of low water, they would have about a dozen miles further to march. Although the war-party are perfectly friendly with the Tawranga tribe, and in fact, are at present fighting the battles of the latter, yet the white people residing at Tawranga are not quite comfortable, and have taken all possible precautions to prevent robbery, even to the locking of their stockades, and securing in them such bulky articles as canoes and boats, which would otherwise have been very probably taken away or destroyed.
I saw this evening a grand war-dance, and certainly think it would be sufficient to strike terror into the heart of any man. Imagine a body of about 3000 nearly naked savages, made as hideous as possible by paint, standing in close ranks, and performing a sort of recitative of what they would do with their enemies if they could lay hold of them. They stood in four close lines, one behind the other, with a solitary leader (as it appeared) in front at the right end of the line. This leader was a woman who excelled in the art of making hideous faces (viz. poorkun). The feet had but a small part of the work to perform, as they did not break their lines, but merely kept up a kind of stamp in excellent time with one foot; their arms and hands had plenty to do, as they were twisted into all possible positions to keep tune with the recitative; their eyes all moved together in the most correct time it is possible to conceive--
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and some of the performers possessed the power of turning them so far downwards, that only the whites were visible. This was particularly the case with the woman whom I have spoken of as the leader; she was a remarkably handsome woman when her features were in their natural state, but when performing she became more hideous than any person who has not seen savages can possibly imagine: she was really very much like some of the most forbidding of the Hindoo idols,--the resemblance to a statue being rendered more perfect by the pupilless eyes, the most disagreeable part of sculpture. The words of their song I could not get a translation of, but I understood that they merely described how they would kill and eat their enemies, as well as the attack, the firing of muskets, &c. The intonation could hardly be considered musical; but they would repeat a number of words in a short staccato manner, and then dwell on one with a general hiss, which would make one's blood run cold: at other times the sound would be still more horrid, but one that it is impossible to describe,--it was not, according to my idea, a yell, but something far more dreadful. One of their hisses, however, reminded me of the sound of returning ramrods, when well performed by a large body of soldiers. I can only describe the manner in which the words were repeated, by supposing they were according to the time of a piece of music, but all in one note; for the different hisses, groans, audible shudders, &c., could hardly be represented by any kind of musical intervals. The whole performance was so perfectly horrid that, although I am possessed of strong nerves, I could not repress a shudder, and my hair almost stood on end, and I certainly felt very glad that I was on a different side of the Pa from them. The whole performance took up about an hour: afterwards they had some speechifying; and then they separated. I believe they have these war-dances, &c. in order to keep up their courage to the sticking point, as they are such
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cowards that they would never fight without some such adventitious excitement. The next morning they had all left Otumoiti, and had reached Monotapoo, another village about two miles off, and where they stayed all the time I was at Tawranga. The missionaries used every endeavour to prevent their going on to Muckatoo, but were unsuccessful. I afterwards heard that they really never did reach that place, and consequently there was no fight after all their grand preparations; proving that I was right when I thought they were not half inclined for it, or they would have moved on rather more rapidly than five miles a day: in fact, I believe they stopped at Monotapoo on purpose to allow the missionaries to persuade them not to go on. I embarked on board the schooner Columbine, belonging to the mission, and after a stormy passage of three days arrived in the Thames. I do not know whether the autumns are always so cold in this part of the world, but this one was dreadfully so. I am certain that a cruise along the south coast of England in October would be far more pleasant than this one of mine. We all kept in the cabin during the whole passage, or if we did make our appearance on deck, were always cloaked up as much as we could. My opinion of the climate of New Zealand during the time I was there would be summed up by the word "raw;" and I certainly think that rawness is the principal characteristic of the air of that country, not so much however in winter as in summer and autumn. I have no doubt there will be quite sufficient heat for any crops which come to perfection in England, and perhaps France; but I do not think the wines, &c. will ever have the richness of those of Spain or Madeira.
From all my observations at the Thames, where I remained some weeks, I think it is the proper place for a settlement; except perhaps Port Nicholson, it is certainly the most desirable situation in the island. Port Nicholson I have never seen; but from what I have heard of it, I am inclined to
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think it must be a more advantageous situation, geographically considered, than even the Thames. I do not know whether the land about Port Nicholson is as mountainous and barren as it is usually on the coast, but should suppose, from the geological formation in which it is situated, if any level land is to be found in the country it will be in that neighbourhood. I know that coal exists in the neighbourhood, if not actually there; and that would be an additional advantage over the Thames, where there are none but volcanic rocks. At the Thames I first saw the pine or cowrie (Kawri), which does not grow to the southward of that place. It is always a sign of bad land, and grows so sparingly even in those places where it is found, that I am inclined to think in ten years New Zealand planks and spars will be more scarce than they are at present. Independently of the rarity of the tree, a great drawback to its value is that it grows only on the tops and sides of steep hills, from whence it is very difficult to transport. At present the supply is obtained from the most accessible spots, the sides of hills next the sea and rivers; but even now these situations are becoming quite denuded of their timber; and I am sure that twenty ships a year would quite exhaust the supply of cowrie in ten years or less, or at all events that part of the supply which could be got at so easily as to be profitable for exportation.
There are not many anchorages in the Thames, and but three places which can be considered harbours: the one called Coromandel harbour is undoubtedly the most eligible situation, unless hereafter some other harbour shall be found higher up in the frith, as it is called. The shores are all very rocky and covered with trees, but the cliffs are not in general high, and are always very rugged; those at the water's edge are covered with oysters in a most extraordinary manner; generally they are more than a foot thick, and very good; other shell-fish are also abundant, particularly Cockles--of these I have seen more than a man could
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carry collected by one woman during the space of a tide; Scallops are also tolerably abundant, and are most delicious eating. There are no Lobsters nor Crabs, but a great abundance of fish of all kinds; one, the Salmon of the English, or Carwai (Carwhy), is a most excellent fish, the best I have tasted in the southern hemisphere; it is about the size of a salmon, and so like it in figure, fins, &c., that I should think it must belong to an allied family. Flat-fish are also more abundant than they usually are on these coasts, but I have never tasted any equal even to a Plaice. All the fish in New Zealand are much superior to those in New Holland, which, indeed, they can easily be, for such a set of wretched, tasteless things as those of the latter I did not believe could have been found.
The natives about the Thames are not numerous, but a very bad set, great thieves, and very impudent. One of the largest canoes ever seen is now in the great Pa at the Thames, Wakautiwai (Wokatuwhy); it is eighty-eight feet long, and highly finished. It belonged to a Bay of Islands chief, who came down to the Thames to fight, and got beaten; I believe he was a great rascal--at least so say all the whites.
A great many persons have lately been buying land at the Thames; the first who came with the real intention of employing themselves in agriculture were two old settlers from New South Wales, of the names of Thorpe and Prout, who disposed of their concerns there and emigrated to New Zealand. I do not think they have done wisely; but they are the best judges of their own affairs. At the upper part of the frith the land is low, but at the mouth of the river the water gets too shallow for the approach of ships of any size. The Waiho, of which I have already spoken, is a missionary settlement: the land is low; and if the water were deeper it would be a splendid place for a first settle-ment, as it would immediately lead to the largest tract of level land in the country--in fact, I believe, the only large tract of level
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land in the whole island. On the north coast of the frith is another missionary station, that of Mr. Painham. This person claims nearly the whole of the north coast, a tract of about thirty miles square, independently of the land around Manukau harbour on the west coast, a place which has been very much talked of in all books that have yet been written on the country. This celebrity has arisen from the fact of the extreme narrowness of the land at the head of Manukau; the frontage is certainly not half-a mile; but I believe, from all the information I can collect, that Manukau is a very useless place, as it is full of sandbanks, and has a bar at its entrance, which almost precludes the possibility of entering, although the books say the contrary. I never met with one person in New Zealand who did not give it the character I have above described; should it not be the case, it will be a place of great consequence in time. It is perhaps the narrowest isthmus in the world, or at all events the narrowest joining two such large tracts of land. The length of coast to the north is not enough to prevent a vessel from sailing round, in preference to coming through a canal at Manukau, should there ever be one; for the sailor I think might generally calculate upon a greater loss of time in going through the canal than sailing round the land. Although the tract of land claimed by Mr. Painham is in all probability the largest, being about a million of acres, yet several missionaries claim tracts of from one hundred thousand to six hundred thousand acres in different parts of the country. It would be ridiculous for any government to recognise such claims, which would prevent the sale of government lands while any of these tracts remained unsold, as it would be for the interests of the holders to sell for less than the government price. The colony would be in fact swamped, just in the same manner as was Swan River by Mr. Peel's grant. I imagine almost all the land to the northward of the Thames is claimed by Europeans; many tracts have five or six claimants; and I know of people in
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New South Wales having spent as much as six hundred pounds at a time in the purchase of those lands from one of the claimants, in thorough ignorance of the validity, or even the reasonableness, of one claim over another, supposing of course that any were valid. The cause of these disputes has sometimes been the dishonesty of the Europeans in selling the same land to different individuals, but more frequently from the natives having done so; not always dishonestly; as, according to their notion of titles, (see report of House of Lords' committee,) a totally different tribe may consider they have an indisputable title to the same land that has been sold by another tribe only two years before, because in the interim they may have cleared and planted with potatoes, or otherwise occupied it for one whole year without interruption. This can only apply to lands which are far from the usual haunts of any tribe; but almost all the large tracts purchased by Pakihas are lands thus situated, for the Mowries would never sell lands near their settlements for sufficiently low prices to induce Europeans to become purchasers of more than enough for the sites of their houses, gardens, &c. In two purchases which I saw made, one at Tawranga and the other at Roturoa, the prices given were preposterous, and could only have been submitted to by the purchasers because they could not do without the land. The spot at Tawranga was not above fifty feet square, and the cost of it not less than fifty pounds in trade. That at Roturoa was about half an acre of water frontage, and the cost twelve pounds ten shillings; but the first was in the middle of a Pa, while the other was only near one, and had always been used by the purchaser as a landing-place to his residence ever since he had been at Roturoa. He told me he considered himself very lucky to get it even for that sum, as he had been trying for years to buy it without success; and even this land did not appear to me a perfectly free purchase, for, there were on it two spots which were "taboo," and from which I was
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called back in great haste by the missionary lads for fear I should be seen there, and stripped for my infraction of their laws; and this was actually within a hundred yards of the house of a missionary.
The natives always require an additional consideration for taking off the "taboo," or making "noa" any places which may be included in a purchase. I could not discover if the "taboo" was lost by lapse of time, but suppose it must be so by reason of the forgetfulness of the people, for as they dare not approach these prohibited places so as to renew the marks of prohibition, the original marks--sometimes a bundle of rags, sometimes a bit of human flesh, or other perishable article--become lost, and in time the places are again approached and built upon, for they are generally the sites of houses or the like places. Were it not for something of this kind, these places must have been much more numerous than they are, although even now they are sufficiently so to be very disagreeable to a stranger.
These rambles were abruptly put an end to by the increasing business of the mercantile firm at Sydney with which I am connected; and my time and attention became occupied in other pursuits.
But soon after my return to Sydney it was determined that I should go again to New Zealand on commercial business, and having resided for some time at Port Nicholson and its neighbourhood, I am, at this time, (August 1840,) enabled to add many further particulars respecting the country from my own continued personal observation.
The Thames, or Waiho river, discharges itself into the gulf of Hamaki, which contains several harbours, only one of which however has been visited by large vessels; this is Coromandel harbour--it is on the south side of the gulf, and from thirty to forty miles from the mouth of the Thames, and the commence-
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ment of the available lands. At the back of the harbour the mountains rise very abruptly to about 4000 feet, and there is no passage from thence to the level lands at the head of the gulf. The land is all quite as steep as that in the neighbourhood of Port Nicholson between Britannia and Thorndon, and the shores so bold and rugged that it is impossible to walk for any distance along them. The only harbour which is worth mentioning at present is Waitemati, the intended new settlement; it is a good harbour, but very little known; when I was there it had never been entered by vessels of any burthen--the land is more level than on the southern side, but the soil is bad and very swampy, and wood for fuel even is very scarce; it is from thirty to forty miles from the rich level lands which are held out as the inducement to draw settlers to the Thames, and land-carriage at present is impracticable.
The mountainous land on the Thames is generally covered with timber, but from the rugged character of the ground where it grows its value is greatly diminished, as the cost of its transport to the water would be very great. The timber is chiefly the Cowrie pine, which always grows in poor stiff clay soil, very inferior for agricultural purposes to any of the land around Port Nicholson.
The river Waiho, or Thames, joins the sea on the south shore near the head of the gulf; the land is swampy for many miles from the mouth of the river, which cannot be entered by vessels of more than ten tons burthen.
The Thames runs through a level country, free from timber, for about eighty miles from north to south, and with an average breadth of fifteen miles; the mountains bound it on the east like a wall; they are the same I have spoken of as forming the back ground of Coromandel harbour; at their termination they are quite perpendicular for about one third from their summits, and the remainder so steep as to resemble an artificial embankment.
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Although the soil of the table-land is rich, and remarkably level for New Zealand, it can never be settled from the plain, because of the utter impracticability of its western face; the eastern slope is more gradual, but until a good harbour is found in the Bay of Plenty it will be of as little use as the other. On the western side there is no such well-defined boundary, but a number of round hills shut in the view. The volcanic ridge of Tongadido closes the view to the southward. I have never reached Tongadido from this route, but I have no doubt the ascent would be found very gradual to the base of the mountain.
The Waiho is a river about the size of the Thames at Windsor. It runs with a steady, rapid current, and is generally free from logs and other obstructions; its average depth is about five feet, but it is too rapid to row against. The plain cannot properly be considered as the bed of the river, but a portion of original table-land through which it flows. The proper valley of the river is about half a mile wide, and is continuous with the course of the stream all through the plain. The land is rich, and is covered with flax from ten to twelve feet in height. Scattered at intervals are small groves of tall Kaikatea trees; but these spots are so few that the plain in general may be described as perfectly free from timber.
There is no doubt in time this will be a fine country, but I cannot help thinking the land around Port Nicholson offers far greater advantages; it is true round the valley of the Hutt the land will cost labour to prepare it for cultivation, but it is undoubtedly very rich, and will make good and speedy return for the outlay upon it. Now the land on the Waiho, which will not cost much money to work, is not better, perhaps not so good, as the bare hills to the south of Port Nicholson, and the swampy lands of the Waiho will cost almost as much to drain, as heavy timbered land to clear; and it is well known bogs do not immediately become useful land, but that several years must
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elapse after they are reclaimed, before they will bear crops of grain13.
The Waiho, although a much larger river, is not more useful than the Hutt, as it will only serve for the downward conveyance of produce, for which purpose the latter is equally capable; and in Port Nicholson the farmer has the advantage of his port-town close to him, whilst on the Thames he is from thirty to forty miles from it, and consequently from his market; the almost total absence of timber on the Thames will also be a serious difficulty to the farmer, as he will, in most instances, be obliged to bring his wood for all purposes from a distance, besides buying, instead of cutting it upon his own land.
The only advantage the Thames has over the Hutt is its plain, admirably adapted for rearing herds of cattle without the labour of cultivation, and I have no doubt, in a few years, it will be so occupied from New South Wales, by persons accustomed to that kind of employment; but I apprehend few from this place would at present feel disposed to embark in such a speculation.
I can say, moreover, from all I have seen or heard of the different harbours of New Zealand, Port Nicholson is by far the best for the settlement of a new colony, not only from its geographical situation, but because the site of the town is much superior to any other that has yet been found in the country; and there is abundance of excellent land, sufficient for the employment of any amount of population there may be for twenty years to come.
At the Bay of Islands it is almost impossible to find a place suitable for the site even of a moderate village, and the country is so rough and broken, that there are no means of going from one part of the Bay to another by land; and the shores also of the
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Gulf of Hamaki are more mountainous even than those of the Bay of Islands.
At Port Nicholson there is an excellent harbour; a navigable river, the Hutt; a great extent of very rich land; an admirable site for the town; with a population at present of between two and three thousand persons, among whom are many of high family connexions and respectability from England, who have brought considerable capital with them, and a consequent demand for labour--most of which advantages are not to be found on the Thames, where there are as yet no emigrants, and where it is very certain none will be sent by Government, and where the population will be made up entirely from the emigraion of doubtful characters from New South Wales, or of fickle, discontented spirits from this place.--The natives on the Thames have always been known as a very bad set, and those who were here at the beginning of this settlement will understand what trouble an ill-disposed set of natives may give to a new-comer, who has everything to do, and none but these to help him.
Port Nicholson has been most wantonly cried down at Sidney by parties interested in other settlements; because they had land there, and none here. I saw the other day, in "The Sidney Colonist," a letter from a person they called their Konorarika correspondent: this veracious individual described Thorndon as "liable to be washed away by the floods from the hills after heavy rains;" which ridiculous nonsense would not be worth noticing, but from the danger of its being believed by persons having no means of learning the truth, for the situation of Thorndon is, of all others, one the most perfectly exempt from any danger from floods; and one hardly knows how sufficiently to admire the impudence of the person who could state as truth so visible an impossibility.
I think it of little consequence what people in other parts of
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New Zealand say of this place, as I am satisfied no long period will elapse before it will become, as it deserves, the one of the greatest consequence in the country; its local advantages being greater, and its settlers 14 so much superior in character, education, property, and every requisite for the final success of a colony to those of the resident Europeans in other parts of New Zealand, that it cannot fail to prosper, if the colonists do not suffer themselves to be deceived and misled into new schemes for further emigration by interested parties, and which they may be sure will do them no good, and only throw them back to the state of discomfort naturally incident to a first arrival in any new settlement.
J. C. BIDWILL.
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