1852 - Mundy, G. C. Our Antipodes. [Vol. II.] - CHAPTER XIV. Passage from Wellington to Auckland--Thence to Sydney...

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  1852 - Mundy, G. C. Our Antipodes. [Vol. II.] - CHAPTER XIV. Passage from Wellington to Auckland--Thence to Sydney...
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January 28th. WELLINGTON. --My hopes of being able to continue "on the books" of her Majesty's ship Inflexible, and to return with her to Sydney, were frustrated by the Govemor-in-Chief engaging the services of that ship for an extended tour round the islands of the New Zealand group--far too extended for the time I had at my command. I therefore took my passage with Major-General Pitt, who was returning to the North in the Government-brig Victoria, for Auckland, --there to await an opportunity for a further passage to New South Wales.

The Victoria is the only vessel permanently in the service of the Government of New Zealand, and may be considered, in some sort, the vice-regal yacht; and whether in the present instance viewed as such, or as a vessel assigned for the accommodation of the general officer commanding the forces, for a voyage of 500 miles, it is certain the most rigid economist must acquit the local

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government and Governor Grey of "profligate expenditure" in the marine department in general, and in the fittings and appointments of this vessel in particular. I will venture to say, that neither General Pitt nor any of the six ladies and gentlemen (himself and two of the gentlemen have been removed from this world since I wrote this passage) will ever forget our voyage in this 200 tons tub round the stormy back of New Zealand, -- fifteen blessed days of our short term of life wasted in dirt, discomfort, and all but starvation, --fifteen days in accomplishing the distance which the Inflexible on one occasion performed in sixty-five hours! The last chip of wood, the last pint of water, the last sheep had been consumed; all bread-stuff, except biscuit, had been devoured before half the voyage was over; the last goose was dying of solitude--too thin to be eaten--in his pen. The rats even, of which there were hundreds, looked gaunt and famished, and seemed strongly inclined to jump overboard in a body, when, on the 12th February, the anchor was dropped in Auckland harbour. It is but just to say, in taking leave of "the Government-brig," that she was a good sea-boat and water-tight, and that her young commander was a good seaman and a good fellow.

If, during this tedious passage, I betrayed ill-humour or impatience, --which I believe I did not, --those of my friends who afterwards learned how fair a cause I had for the latter feeling, will have excused it, and will have sympathised with my mortification in finding that, owing

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to the delay, I missed the fine 500 ton barque Eleanor Lancaster, a noted swift sailer, by two days, and consequently had to fall back upon a schooner of about 100 tons, and of slow repute, for the traject to Sydney, -- a voyage of some 1,400 miles.

February 14fh. Auckland. --Shipped myself, servant and baggage, on board the Deborah, and made sail with a light breeze. I paid double fare for my cabin, in order to prevent being made up into a kind of human sandwich with some other passenger, --each little cupboard, called a state cabin, having two shelves in it for the stowage of human live-stock. The Deborah was very deliberate in her paces, but, as her name imported, was, on the whole, a well-conditioned old maid, --stiff, dry, and safe; the captain a worthy and intelligent man, with well-plenished lockers, and a laudable cook.

On the 15th we had an opportunity of visiting Kawau Island and its copper-mine, from which great things are expected by the Aberdeen Company who have rented and are working it. May their mine and their pockets be as metalliferous as they wish! The island is highly picturesque and well-wooded. The following day we passed near the Great and Little Barrier Islands, upon the former of which, once the property of my old friend "Hooki Noey," the skipper of the Deborah has an estate, and where his family resides.

On the 18th, I found myself once more in the Bay of Islands, and went ashore to visit the officers stationed there. In proof of the luxury of New Zealand military

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life, these gentlemen had tasted no wine and no butter for two or three months, nor milk for some time. A huge cheese, which I borrowed from Aunt "Deborah's" dairy, was hailed by the Wahapu mess as a God-send.

February 19th. --Tomati Waka came on board and dined with us, behaving with perfect propriety. The harbour-master of Kororarika came with him, and proved an excellent interpreter. On learning that I was quitting New Zealand, the veteran and loyal chief confided to me that the "desire of his heart" was to possess a "miri" (mill); that he was rich with his pension 1 --whereof, by parenthesis, he had not yet touched a shilling--and that he would give it up for a year if the Governor would get him a fine mill from Sydney. I made the old man happy by promising to write a "booka-booka" (letter) to his Excellency on the subject, which I did that very day, and in due time received a favourable reply. It is to be hoped, therefore, that before very long Mr. Thomas Walker, --ne Nene, --became, what was the height of his ambition, a miller on his own account, grinding corn for his neighbours at so much per bushel; much better employment, it will be conceded, than splitting their skulls, grinding "their bones to make his bread," and dining off their steaks-- pursuits in which the worthy old Maori convert will not deny that he engaged, in common with all Maori great

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men, in his hot youth when the tribes of New Zealand lived in constant warfare, and when killing and eating were brothers in arms--"like twin cherries, never parted." The countenance of Tomati is of so good-tempered and benevolent a cast, in spite of the grim tattooing of his cheeks, chin, and forehead; and he looks so fat and fubsy, that I should have thought him a better man at the trencher than in the war-path. Not so, however, for in his day he did many noted acts of bravery. Once he walked alone into the pah of an enemy, called him by name, and shot him dead for having murdered his friend and relative. This was merely utu. In 1839, he tried and shot a native for murdering an Englishman.

Heki was now living quietly at home, and had consented to receive a visit from Major Bridge, 58th regt., commanding at the Bay. A meeting was arranged by old Waka, who, a day or two ago, wrote thus to the Major s--

"The Ahuaha, Feb. 14, 1848.

"Honi Heki and I are here, at the Ahuaha; we are waiting for you, and the Captain of the man-of-war, to come and see Honi Heki. Come you two to-morrow, and likewise bring some tobacco; come, do not delay. Bring some tobacco, oh! Captain of the Calliope, bring plenty of tobacco.


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The major accordingly met the ex-rebel chief at Waimate, and was received by him, as Major Bridge writes, "with much ceremony and respect; for he rose on my approaching him, and advanced some distance to meet me. He is a fine-looking man, with a commanding countenance, and a haughty manner, which appears habitual to him." Heki wished much that the Governor would come to see him at Waimate, for a koriro, and a shake-hands.

In May 1850, he wrote the following somewhat touching letter to his Excellency:--

"Kaikohe, 30th of the days of May, 1850.
"Salutations to you. Your loving letter has reached me. Lo, this is my loving letter to you. Yes, my illness is great, but do not be dark or sorrowful. This is not the permanent place for the body; we are at the disposal of God. My words to you will not be many more, as I am very ill. Present my love to your companion, Lady Grey. Salutations to you and to your companion.

"From your loving Friend,

On the 6th of August following, the "Lion of the North" expired at Tauteroa, but little beyond forty years of age, of a pulmonary complaint, aggravated by

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his old wound. In his last moments, this once relentless enemy of the British Government urged his "young men to sit at peace for ever with the Pakehas."

Am I rendering myself liable to prosecution for defamation of character in stating my belief, that the immediate cause of the death of "the Lion of the North" was a sound thrashing administered by his wife? It is certain that the daughter of the great chief Hongi was very jealous of her low-born but handsome husband-- and had cause to be so, up to the very day of his decease. Honi's intimate friend and ally, Pene Tani, in reporting his death to the Governor, 15th August, 1850, writes:-- "Thus it was. Heki was sleeping in the forenoon, he was sound asleep. Then came Harriett with a hani, (a staff or club,) and struck him on the ribs. When she had beaten him she threw him down on the bed, and when he was down she showered blows and kicks upon him. That is all."--And quite enough, in all conscience! Poor Honi never rose again.

February 21st. --Sailed from the beautiful Bay of Islands; passed the rampant-looking rocks. of the "Cavallos," and peeped into the narrow mouths of Wangaroa and Monganui Bays, the latter a safe and commodious harbour, which, to the detriment of Russell, is getting into favour with whaling and other vessels. Our skipper, anecdotic and spinning pleasant yarns about New Zealand history, pointed out Wangaroa as the scene of one of the fiercest tragedies ever enacted on its bloody shores, namely, the destruction of the

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Boyd, with her crew and passengers, a detailed account of which is given in Major Cruise's old work.

This vessel sailed from Sydney for England in 1809, with seventy white persons on board, and a few New Zealanders, intending to touch in that country to get Kauri spars. Tara, surnamed George, son of a chief of Wangaroa, being one of the Maori passengers, was worked like a common sailor, ill fed, and was at length flogged by the master of the vessel.

The young chief dissembled his anger, persuaded the captain to go into this port in search of spars, and, on landing, revealed to his tribe his sufferings and degradation. The captain and two or three boat's crews were, under mask of friendship, decoyed up the harbour to cut timber, when the natives fell upon and butchered them all. Then dressing themselves in the clothes of the slain, and getting into the boats, they boarded the Boyd in the night and murdered every soul on board, excepting one woman and two children, whom they made prisoners and who were afterwards rescued by some Europeans. The murdered were all devoured--Tara, in all likelihood, cutting up the captain with great zest! The Maoris then proceeded to plunder the vessel which they had run aground, getting a rich booty, amongst other goods, of fire-arms and ammunition--booty which however cost them dear; for one of the savages--evidently an experimentalist, a class often ruinous alike to themselves and their friends, tested the quality of a cask of powder by snapping his musket over it, thereby blowing

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a couple of dozen of the pirates to pieces, and burning the ship to the water's edge. Such was the fate of the Boyd and her inmates.

February 22d. Amid thunderings and lightnings-- fit accessories of a spot so wild and grand--but with lulled airs, about an hour after sunset we doubled the North Cape, passing so close to the rugged and cloud-capped headland--within 200 yards indeed, --as to be obliged to tack ship in order to avoid the attraction of the land. Fortunately a light breeze sprung up and bore us out of so dangerous a neighbourhood. As the shades of evening fell upon the face of the ocean, I lost sight of the shores of New Zealand--a country which on a short acquaintance has impressed me most favourably--a country full of intrinsic good--a country whose destiny it is to be a flourishing and a happy offshoot of the great and glorious Mother of so many noble children.

Once more a cruelly long passage fell to my lot. The Deborah proved a marine hackney-coach of the most tardigrade order. But it could not be helped; so, like Diogenes, I resolved to be satisfied with my tub, and as for sunshine, I found it within and without!

Let me not imitate the schooner in loitering over the voyage; one glance at my fellow-passengers, and I have done with it. There were three only in the cabin. The first was a sickly consumptive tailor of Sydney, who had been hunting for health in the fresher climate of New Zealand, (perhaps also to open a connexion at Auckland,) but he seemed to have left there its residue, and was

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besides so piteously sea-sick, that there was nothing left of a rather well-looking fellow, but a flaccid husk of humanity, when he was put ashore in Port Jackson.

My second messmate was an old whaling skipper, with two very young grandchildren, --little fatherless, motherless, helpless creatures, a boy and a girl, who clung together all day, and at night slept in each other's arms; and who could not bear to be for a moment out of sight of the old sailor their grandfather. Looking from my berth of a morning through the Venetians, I felt the moisture rise in my eyes as I watched the bald and grey veteran taking his little protegees one by one from their common crib, carefully washing and dressing them, combing their flaxen locks, and then folding away their bedding. During the day he would feed and tend them, and carve toys for them with his pocket knife. And at night, after undressing his "little people," as he called them, he "coiled away and stowed" their day gear, and put on their night clothes, --his great rough hands fumbling the small tapes into all sorts of nautical knots which cost him a world of trouble to undo in the morning. Then he placed them in their bed, --side by side generally, but sometimes with their heads different ways, --and, having "shipped" the panel to prevent their falling out, he would sing them to sleep with a low hoarse lullaby, of which the words "Yo! heave oh!" and "Whack Old England's foe," formed the burthen. Then he listened to their light breathing, and, assured that they slumbered,

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dropped his furrowed brow on the bed panel for a time, as though he blessed and prayed for them, and, posting himself on a bench below, he opened an old chest, and, taking out a well-worn book and putting on his glasses, he read therein sometimes for half the night.

At the first nod of approaching sleep, the old fellow turned in "all standing"--for I never saw him take off more than coat and shoes--to the berth below his children; but was up again in a moment at their slightest plaint. It is a sad thing when the intermediate generation is thus missing in a family group; when upon the old age that itself demands fosterage devolve the duties of the young and strong, --tottering infancy upheld by tottering age! The old man was taking the children to England, to hand them over to their deceased mother's relatives; and he hoped to get from Sydney to London on cheap terms, by giving his services on board the vessel in which he should take their passage.

He was a hale and hearty old fellow; and, as we passed through the "middle whaling ground," he became quite excited, as well as very entertaining, in his accounts of whale fishing, --carrying his hearers away with him in his animated descriptions. "There she spouts!" "Out with the boats." "Give way, lads." The boat-steerer has "fastened to her" with the harpoon. "Now she sounds!" (dives) with 150 fathoms of line, --the whale boats flying through the water "like seven bells." "There she rises: bend your backs, boys." The headsman, a tall strong fellow, poises the deadly

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lance. He strikes it deep into the huge mass. "Starn all for your lives!" Then comes the "flurry," or death struggle of the gigantic monster; the "cutting-in," and the "trying-out;" and we have our whale found, chased, killed, and cut up, with six or eight hundred pounds' worth of oil safe on board, in a very few words.

The third, last, and fairest of my fellow cabin-passengers appeared in the well-conserved person of a lady of uncertain age, probably of an uncertain history. It was hard to say what were the main objects of her voyage to New South Wales; but during its prosecution they seemed to have settled down into the benevolent project of keeping house for the writer in Sydney. Luckily, however, the lady let fall one day in the hearing of my London Leporello that she had a "little independence of her own," and a sum of money in one of the banks of the New South Wales capital. From that auspicious moment this best of all possible valets de chambre took the fair one in hand; and his master was spared the necessity of embracing or rejecting the domiciliary advances of the middle-aged adventuress.

March 6th, 1848. --Landed at Sydney, tolerably tired of small vessels in rough latitudes, --such, with the exception of two days passed at Auckland, having been my lot since the 24th of January last, the day on which I left Wellington.


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1   A pension of 100l. a-year was granted by the colony to this chief, in accordance with Her Majesty's desire to confer a mark of her favour upon him, "for his zeal, courage, and loyalty."

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