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Journey to Kaipara -- Proceed down the Hokianga -- Arrive at Moperi -- Wainga, Priest of Araitehuru -- Joined by an aged Chief, who accompanies us -- Defile through a Native Plantation and Village -- Descend to the Sea Shore -- Arrive at Waimemaku -- Method of producing Fire, and the Operation of Cooking -- Monuments -- Alarm of the Natives -- Waipoa, Fortification and Valley -- Manners, Habits, Customs--Appearance of the Villagers -- Native Dances and Lamentations -- Transactions in the Village -- Difficulties arising at our Departure.
WITHIN an early period after my arrival in New Zealand, in 1831, I performed a journey to Kaipara, an extensive district on the banks of an important river of the same name, on a commercial speculation; principally to ascertain if its river, which was known to have several shifting bars at its entrance, had a channel of sufficient depth for the navigation of large vessels.
I undertook a second journey, in 1832, to the same settlements, on a similar investigation, in conjunction with commercial objects, including the purchasing of spars for shipping, and the flax, as dressed by the natives, both of
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JOURNEY TO KAIPARA.
which commodities for exportation abounded in that neighbourhood.
In the latter excursion, I was accompanied by ten native young men, principally sons of respectable chiefs, who did not regard it as derogatory to their rank to perform menial offices, such as carrying provisions on their backs, which are prohibited from bearing any weights, otherwise than in the service of Europeans. My native servant, Puhi, invariably followed me in all my journeys. He subsequently accompanied me twice to Port Jackson. Many of the young chiefs joined my suite purposely to see their relations, and exult in a little pride before them, knowing the envy it would excite in the bosoms of their young friends, by being in the pay and employ of a Rangatira no Uropi, or gentleman of Europe, who was accounted a rara avis in terris in the settlements we proposed visiting. We left the settlement of the Horeke, situated at the head of the navigation, some thirty miles from the entrance of the river Hokianga, furnished with several articles, valuable in the eyes of the natives, as presents to such friendly chiefs as we might have occasion to visit during our travels, who were unable from their locality, at that period, to have the benefit of trading with Europeans.
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PROCEED DOWN THE HOKIANGA.
We started at 4 A.M. in a whale-boat, with the ebb-tide in our favour, quickly gliding down that beautiful river; and arrived, at 9 A.M., at Moperi, the settlement of the pilot of the Hokianga, within a short distance of the south head of the mouth of the harbour, formed by a mass of black granite rock; on which side is the deepest water. The north head is formed of sand-hills. Here we hauled up our boat, and, having been welcomed by Mr. Martin, the pilot, took our breakfast previously to commencing our journey. We were soon joined by Wainga, a priest of great celebrity at this station, who possessed an infinity of names, on which he prided himself with the self-sufficiency of an hidalgo. Seating himself on the floor, aside of my chair, he took peculiar delight in my pronouncing after him the variety of cognomens this dignitary possessed, and which included all the letters of the alphabet some three or four times over. He soon learned from the natives who accompanied me, that I had not been long a resident in the country: he, therefore, felt it necessary that I ought to be made acquainted with his merits; and, accordingly, held out his hand to me, which I accepted without hesitation, though an imperfect glance was sufficient to shew that its acquaintance with water (soap was
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WAINGA, PRIEST OF ARAITEHURU.
out of the question) appeared to have been of ancient date. He then surveyed me, cap-a-pie, with an intended affable smile of infinite regard, and, giving a familiar nod of his head, proceeded to tell me that he was a priest of Araitehuru, the Taniwoa, or aquatic deity of the headlands of the harbour, whose abilities were wantonly displayed in upsetting canoes and raising awful storms. "And see," added this disciple of Baal, "how the Atua foams at the mouth, because I have not preached my kauwau (prayer) to him to-day," pointing to the high and heavy surf, that eleven months out of the year, breaks furiously across the bar of the harbour, distant about two miles from the entrance to the river. "If you had not shaken hands with me," continued my oracular companion, "I would have raised such storms that the sands on the sea-shore would have been impassable, your canoes should have been mati (sick or dead), and you would have bitterly repented any slight you might have put upon me." I returned thanks to this imposing character with a serious air, as if his speech had carried conviction. This behaviour pleased the old gentleman, who hastily jumped from the ground and began to dance a haka; in which, if the priest was not remarkably agile in his
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WAINGA, PRIEST OF ARAITEHURU.
pirouettes, no fault could be assigned from his limbs being under any undue restraint, as the sole article of dress that enwrapped the outer man of this modern antique, was a piece of tattered something, that might originally have been a blanket; but it had lost this distinction as such, either in colour or texture; and, from frequent rents, had dwindled to the size of an ordinary pocket-handkerchief, which was cast in a style, quite degage, over his shirtless back. The appearance of his body, as exposed to the view of the beholder, as his apology for a skirt dangled in the air, was not (in my opinion) enhanced by the saving method employed by these islanders, of conveying the phlegm contracted in the nasal orifices to the hand; the palms of which, contents included, are transferred by gentle friction to the thighs, legs, &c. of this economical people.
Wainga then broke forth with a cantatory impromptu, composed for the occasion, descriptive of the journey we had undertaken; and, when he had finished, he turned to me, and inquired if he was not a tangata pai, or excellent fellow, to which I assented. He then conscientiously demanded payment of me, for having tranquillised the ocean on my account. This was carrying the jest too far; but I gave, as a
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JOINED BY AN AGED CHIEF.
tithe, a head of tobacco; which he, at last, admitted was compensation enough. We left our boat with the hospitable pilot, who had married the only daughter of Wainga, who also exchanged with us our unwieldy ship's compass and lead-line for similar articles more portable. A respectable old chief also joined us, who was father to Parore, the head chief of Waipoa, a settlement that lay in our route. My companions, who were all in excellent spirits (a most needful point to travellers in this land), having passed on before me, well loaded with comestibles, we took our departure, pursuing a path across the hills, hollowed in the clayey soil by the continual repassing to and fro of the natives, amid the high varieties of the fern that covered the country in every direction.
The boys had pushed on some distance before me, when I was attracted by a sudden shout, which induced me to hasten onwards. On coming up with them, I found them all convulsed with laughter. It appeared that one of the eldest, who possessed much solemnity of aspect, was upset in the path by a wild bush-pig, at full gallop, running against him with its utmost force; the basket of potatoes on his shoulders weighed full 70 lbs., and was so well fastened to his back as to incapacitate him from
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A NATIVE VILLAGE.
rising without assistance. This mishap was soon rectified. On advancing to the summit of the hill, a beautiful view presented itself, bounded by the precipitous mountain-headland of Maunganui. The base is continually washed by the sea, whose dashing sprays at stormy periods are elevated to the height of full one hundred feet. It appeared in the horizon, distant about twenty miles; but the road along the indented and circuitous beach, is double that length. On our right was the vast Pacific, whose turbulent waves, rushing in heavy rollers, burst with stunning noise and violence on the beach, which was covered, as far as the eye could discern, with foam and small remnants of wreck. Below us, at the foot of this elevated hill, was a fertile valley; in the bosom of which was situated a romantic native village. The many watas, or platforms raised on trees, to protect the provisions of the people from the rapacity of the dogs and rats, were loaded with seed potatoes, ready for planting. The villagers were absent at the time, preparing the land for their plantations.
The sole human occupant of the village was an old lady, employed in beating fern root on a stone with a wooden pounder. She was surrounded by those abominations of the
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country, the dogs, principally curs of the lowest degree in the scale of animal creation. These harpies no sooner espied our party descending the hill path that led through the village, than they commenced the most discordant yells conceivable, which continued while they had us in sight. In vain the old lady exerted her feeble voice to still the clamour. A few of them made some abortive attempts to bite at our heels, or graze them, like the serpent of old; but an uplifted arm sent them running in every direction; in which they displayed extraordinary agility.
I have been induced to lay some stress on these quadrupeds, as every traveller will find them to be the greatest pest in the country. These brutes are met with in the best New Zealand society. They have the enviable situation, when young, of sharing the bed and board of most of the unmarriageable young ladies, serving to make up a coterie; and are equally petted as that happy race of Bologna extraction (famous for sausages and lap-dogs), who domicile in the neighbourhood of certain unmentionable squares, in the antipodes of this country. These animals were a disgrace to the kainga, or village, of which they formed part and parcel; being without the slightest pretensions
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DEFILE THROUGH A NATIVE PLANTATION.
to obesity, had the entire thirty-four, which I counted of them, been reduced by a culinary process, they could not have rendered an ounce of unctuous matter.
The elderly dame had a cestus round her waist, made of twisted grass. She politely welcomed us, as we marched through her plantation of Indian corn and kumeras, which were nearly ripe and in fine condition: unfortunately for us, the place was strictly tapued, or prohibited from being touched by any person, until the approaching harvest; and, on requesting the dame to allow me to purchase some of the much esteemed edibles for my company, who eyed asquint the pleasing food with the most affable recognition, the guardian of this Hesperian fruit pointed to a small bunch of human hair made fast to a ti, or cabbage palm-tree, denoting the strictness of the tapu.
We passed on our way, ascending other hills, on the summits of which we could only see an interminable succession of hills and mountains, rising above each other, separated by fertile valleys, and clothed with the evergreen verdure of this beautiful land. Nature, undestroyed by the arts introduced by mankind, is here beheld in all her beauty and grandeur. The erect erito, and other umbelliferous palm-
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DESCENT TO THE SEA-SHORE.
trees, wave their broad leaves proudly amid the varied foliage of the surrounding trees. The polypetalous kaikatoa, covered with sweet odorous flowers throughout the year, of many tints, cover the hill sides, where the bleak atmosphere will only admit of stunted vegetation.
The descent from these mountains led us to the beach, composed of fine sand, reaching about four hundred feet from low-water mark to the bank which skirted the shore; on this was strewed dead birds, small fish, and pieces of bone belonging to the cetaceous fishes that abound in the vicinity of these shores. In walking along the beach, we kept as close to the low-water mark as the spreading surf would permit us, the sand in such places being most indurated; but close to the shore we were buried to our ancles at every step we took. My escort amused themselves by imitating my manner of walking, exaggerating each step as much as was possible, and adding ludicrous imitations of many of their European friends they had left behind at Hokianga.
We passed several streams of water that descended from the mountains, and flowed on idly into the sea. These rivulets are composed of the freshest water, and are met with, on an average, within every quarter of a mile on the coast. On passing such streams as were of
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ARRIVE AT WAIMAMAKU.
some depth, and rapid in their effluence into the sea, I was carried over by the natives, who were often vociferous as to whose back should bear my weight; each of them striving for the preference, although well loaded with provisions; the old chief was as clamorous in this respect as the youngsters.
After pursuing our route for some distance, we halted on the bank of a rivulet, descending from a mountain valley, called Waimamaku. The sea flows at high-water into the rivulet. Some remains of sheds, made of nikau, or palm leaves, indicated that some travellers had put up at this place previously to our arrival. This, I thought, was a very pleasing circumstance; as I was enabled to take advantage of the shelter thus afforded from the fierce rays of the sun, that shone particularly bright, and was almost unbearable on the white sand. I composed myself to rest, and was very comfortably reclining, when I was speedily ejected by a myriad of fleas, that took entire possession of my person. I was only relieved of these tormenting insects by instantly stripping and bathing. In lying within these huts, I little reflected, that the natives seldom or ever leave a house or shed untenanted by these minute depredators. I employed the only effectual
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METHOD OF PRODUCING FIRE,
method of getting rid of them. In the meanwhile my companions had lighted a fire; one of them taking a musket, and placing some priming in the pan of the lock, closed up the touch-hole; against which he applied a piece of his flaxen garment, previously made soft by friction; he then pulled the trigger of the piece, which, communicating some sparks to the flax, produced a flame by being gently waved to and fro. Some of the lads had applied themselves to scraping potatoes and kumeras, which they prepared with much celerity with the aid of a mussel-shell; others had collected stones, and deposited them in a hole, previously dug in the ground, near the beach, over some firewood which had been ignited. The stones having been made red-hot, the provisions, which consisted of fish procured at Moperi, after being cleansed and bound up in the leaves of the kaha, or wild turnip, which almost covers every spare surface of vegetable soil in the country, together with the potatoes and kumeras, were all placed in a basket on the hot stones, which were arranged so as to surround the food. Some leaves and old baskets were placed over the first that had been deposited within the hole, and pouring some water from a calabash, the steam that arose in consequence was speedily enclosed, by
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AND THE OPERATION OF COOKING.
earth being thrown over the whole so that the steam could not escape, -- every gap being carefully closed up. Within twenty minutes the provisions were excellently cooked, and fit for eating.
I invited the old chief to dine with me, who complied with my request; the cooks had given us a plentiful supply. When we finished our repast, preparations were made to depart from this happy valley. On the north bank were placed, among the bushes, three raouis, or carved monuments, painted with red earth. These had been erected here to prevent native travellers or strangers from grubbing in the sand for a favourite large cockle, called toi-roa, which are steamed and dried by the natives, and taken as portable food for a journey.
We soon pursued our route to the southward, passing many fine mountain-streams, bearing different names. The hills between Hokianga, and some dozen miles to the southward, are clothed with dark fern and kaikatoa bushes; and scarce a sandy speck is to be seen; but after this distance, our hitherto pleasing walk was suddenly arrested by immense masses of large round stones, loosely thrown together; these are easily disturbed by the action of the waves every flood tide. These pudding-stones
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rendered our walk tedious and unsafe. They were spherical and oval; some about two hundred weight: we stumbled on them in large beds, and so very compact in a line with each other, that none were strewed singly on the beach, though many were not above the weight of a single pound. Their locality was the more singular, as we never found them but in the vicinity of low land, far from the many reefs of rocks that line the western coast of the country. The nearer we approached to Waipoa, the hills of evergreen disappeared from the coast, and were only visible in the interior of the country. Masses of sandstone, whose upper stratum had long since crumbled into loose sand, flew about in the direction of the wind, and gave this part of the coast a barren and cheerless appearance; large detached masses of black rocks lined the shore, on which the gannet, curlew, pelican, and gulls, together with an innumerable quantity of other sea-fowl, sat perched, eyeing us as we passed, acknowledging our presence by a discordant shriek, but not stirring from their apparently comfortable quarters at our near approach. The obstreperous noise uttered by some of the gulls, --the boisterous surf lashing the cavernous rocks, as the flood-tide was making, and jetting its spray in showers over the
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ALARM OF THE NATIVES.
beach around, gave the place an aspect, dreary and repulsive in the extreme. One remarkable jet d'eau was occasioned by the sea advancing; and as each rolling wave made towards the beach, it was arrested in its progress half way by a submarine trou, or cave, hollowed in the dark dismal-looking rocks; and, from the force with which the waves were propelled, burst upwards in spray to the height of full thirty feet.
Early after, we perceived the sand-hills that led to Waipoa; and on the shore was visibly imprinted the footsteps of two men and a dog. The insecurity felt by these people was now exhibited by my companions, every one of whom was anxiously alarmed; and, to judge by their change of countenance and demeanour, they appeared to feel as horrified as if expecting a violent death. I did my best to satisfy them that the footsteps had probably been impressed by two messengers, who had left Hokianga some days before us; adding, the strangers evidently were two only, and travelling the same route as ourselves; but I was overruled by the terrified lads, who said that, doubtless, the rest of the supposed enemy were in the bush. I was obliged to assume a fierce aspect, desiring them, if they felt discouraged, to leave me with the old chief, whom I would accompany alone. I felt no sensation
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WAIPOA, FORTIFICATION AND VALLEY.
of fear; certain that my mission as a trader was of too much importance to the tribes in the vicinity, to permit them to attempt any harm on me or my people, however inveterate their feelings might be towards them.
We soon reached the sand-hills leading to the village of the chief; and, in ascending them, sank in the loose sand at least a foot, at every step we took. These hills were very steep. The old chief and myself, as soon as we arrived among the clayey mountains, left our companions, who were all heavily laden, some distance behind us. These heights were intersected with winding paths, which are discernible at a great distance, though only a foot broad, from the yellow clay trodden by the villagers, appearing amid the dark fern. We ambulated these mountain-tops for seven miles, when suddenly the deep valley of Waipoa opened to our view, in the centre of which a large native settlement appeared. The valley was irrigated with a stream of water. We had a mile still to walk before we reached the kainga, but were no sooner seen winding our way down the hills, than we could hear the distant shouts resound through the valley, and a discharge of muskets commenced, to greet our arrival.
Those harbingers of joy and grief, the dogs,
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RECEPTION AT A VILLAGE.
of whose fraternity I have already made honourable mention, were here in their element. As we approached, thirty stout fellows, entirely naked, rushed forward to meet us, with muskets in their hands, hallooing and roaring to the utmost extent of their lungs. Every one of them came up to press noses, which I enacted with a few of the foremost; but respect for the shape and position of this ornamental member, made me abridge the ceremony, or I should never have retained its pristine form, so eager were these new friends to greet and welcome my arrival.
To get rid of the ceremony, I pressed the tallest of the villagers into my service; and, jumping on his back, I was carried down the steep hills; two other men pressing forwards, clearing the path, and supporting my feet. They were all exceedingly pleased with "Ko te pakeha pai, kaore ano redi e na tangata maori," (the excellent white man, who permitted the natives to do what they pleased, without being angry in return). We had to cross and recross the little rivulet, which pursued its devious way in circular meanderings throughout the valley.
Previous to our arrival at the Pa, or fortified village, I halted for my companions
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APPLAUSE OF THE VILLAGERS.
in a deep glen, from which the settlement was not visible. The lads soon came up, but instead of moving onwards, I was given to understand, that here it was necessary that the business of the toilet, "wakapai pai," should be arranged, as such fashions were indispensable in the interchange of visits. As I had neither power nor inclination to stop their proceedings, I let them follow the bent of their inclinations, and proceeded to the village with the inhabitants, who now flocked about me in large numbers, uttering, with deafening shouts, "Airemai! airemai!"--welcome! welcome! which was also echoed from the village, as soon as we sighted it, accompanied by a continual discharge of artillery, waving of mats, and other expressions of applause, which are so liberally bestowed by these islanders, on those whom they may choose to honour.
I was too much fatigued with the day's travel to proceed further, though the promised land was in sight, within a very short distance. I, therefore, again deliberately mounted the lengthiest biped I perceived, who good humouredly carried me to the fence of the pa, when etiquette obliged me to dismount. On entering the fence, I was surrounded by full 250 men, entirely denuded of dress, with the sole
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THE COURT OF A CHIEF.
accoutrement of a cartridge-ball made fast round the waist, with a belt of leather or flax.
Most of these men were at least six feet in stature; and their ample chests, brawny limbs, and altogether martial appearance, presented a fine specimen of savage nobility. It was an interesting spectacle. On my entering the pa, a lane was formed by these retainers of the chief, who sat at the head, surrounded by a circle of venerable sages, attended by a few of his wives and his mother, a venerable old lady, and other relatives, who all sat in a recumbent position against the house, devoted to the use of the chief.
Parore, who, conformably to the custom of the country, sat in state to receive me, was in the prime of life, possessing a countenance remarkably pleasing; his stature was tall and commanding, and, although not outwardly distinguished from his companions by any peculiarities in dress, yet he had an air at once noble and dignified, from the habitual exercise of authority. He was immediately to be distinguished, as holding the most elevated rank, in the pa. I bent towards him, and we pressed noses for the space of a few seconds; not an unpleasing salutation in summer, when the native hand is scarcely touchable. Parore was
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not much tattooed at the time, which to a European, long resident in the country, does not appear repulsive. The chief introduced me to his several wives, whom I also saluted after the courtesy prescribed by the native ton.
This chief, after silence could be obtained from the Babel of tongues, commenced a discourse on the subject of my journey, regretted that his agricultural pursuits prevented him from the satisfaction of accompanying me, as his heart was set upon having commercial Europeans residing in his various settlements; that, unfortunately, his people had nothing to employ their thoughts or hands, after planting, but themes of war and renewing old grievances; but, if commerce was instituted among his tribe, they would be employed in working for articles that would prove most serviceable to them, by dressing the korari, or flax, felling timber, and planting provisions for other markets. I assented to all the chief advanced. By this time my brigade of companions had arrived, and were received with cries of laughter, welcome, and endearing terms of recognition, so lavishly bestowed on each other by these people; which were as liberally responded by my trusty few, who had decorated
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FESTIVAL FANCY DRESSES.
their persons in the dernier mode introduced by Europeans. A glance at them may not be deemed uninteresting.
The countenances of all were entirely bedaubed with a solution of the red kokowai earth. A few had dipped their heads within a large calibash containing this rouge dissolved in water, which formed a plaster, whose brilliancy was enhanced by a broad stain of the blue earth, called parakawahia, which was used to encircle the right eye and half of the temple. The effects of this latter pigment was best visible in the dance, when at intervals the white of the eye only is displayed. Feathers decorated the heads, which had been carried in a carved box by one of the party, who had collected a large quantity on the sea-beach, from the dead tara, or gannets, we had passed in our route. All the finery that had been bestowed on them by Europeans, such as cast-off clothing, which are not repudiated too hastily by their wearers in New Zealand, were sported on this occasion. The sole article of dress on one of these exquisites, was a tattered brown waistcoat, that just reached a foot and some inches below the throat of the wearer, the nether man being entirely exposed, in puris naturalibus. Another had put on a shirt,
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whose original hue had been, from times remote, undistinguishable; this was fastened round the loins by the sleeves, forming an apron for the wearer; a native mat covered the shoulders. One youth had inserted himself into the body of a woman's gown, which served as a jelick, his extremities being incased in an old red baize shirt, the sleeves of which answered the purposes of trousers for the legs. A pair of duck trousers was tied round the throat of one young chief, whose extreme delicacy was attested by an old worn-out red nightcap being placed in the identical spot assigned for the northern philibeg. This substitute was made fast by a piece of green flax, that indifferently well supplied the place of the article of dress referred to. A few other long since faded articles of apparel, shrunk to almost nothing, by repeated ablutions when in former service, completed the dress of the rest of my unique equipage; and with the exception of a single shoe, and an odd top-boot, placed in contrast with a Hessian, both worse for wear, which only served to lame my servant Puhi, all were without coverings for the lower extremities, except the old chief, Parore's father, who had gleaned among other contributions, a single long black worsted stocking, which
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might have been serviceable had it not been minus only the foot. The old gentleman did not fail to expose it to the best advantage.
As our number was now ascertained, the labours of the cooks were put into requisition; two large pigs were killed and cleaned, the hair being singed over a large fire. The pigs were drowned in the river, that the blood should not be lost; but sympathetic people charitably prefer sticking them with a knife. A plentiful supply of potatoes, Indian corn, kumeras, taro, and wild turnips, underwent the same culinary process as described at Waimamaku.
After each of my retinue were presented to the chief, partaking of the honour of the ongi, or salutation, the haka, or dance of welcome, was performed; this was commenced by our entertainers, who placed themselves in an extended line, in ranks four deep. This dance, to a stranger witnessing it for the first time, is calculated to excite the most alarming fears; the entire body of performers, male and female, free and bond, were mixed together, without reference to the rank they held in the community. All the male performers were quite naked, except the cartouch-box around the body, filled with ball cartridges. All were
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NATIVE DANCE OF WELCOME.
armed with muskets, or bayonets put on the ends of spears or sticks; the young women, including the wives of the chief, joined in this dance of rejoicing and welcome; the females had left exposed their budding charms to the waist, from which was appended two stout handsome garments of the silken flax.
In the chant that accompanied the dance, proper time was kept, as was equally well displayed in the various performances of agility exhibited in these hakas, especially in the perpendicular jump from the ground, which is often repeated in a simultaneous manner, as if the whole body of performers were actuated by one impulse. Every person tries to outvie his companion in these volitary movements. The implements with which they arm themselves are brandished at the same moment, and the distortion of countenance, with the long tresses of hair that often adorn either sex, give them the appearance of an army of Gorgons, with snakelike locks, as was represented on the aegis of Pallas. The ladies performed their utmost, in adding to the singularity of the scene, wielding spears made of the kaikatoa-tree, and paddles of the same popular wood. The countenances of all were distorted into every possible shape per-
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mitted by the muscles of the human face divine; every new grimace was instantly adopted by all the performers in exact unison: thus, if one commenced screwing his face with a rigidity, as if the appliance of a vice had been made use of, he was followed instanter by the whole body with a similar gesticulation, so that, at times, the whites of the eyes were only visible, the eye-balls rolling to and fro in their sockets. Altogether, their countenances, aided by the colours with which they had bedaubed themselves, presented so horrible a spectacle, that I was fain glad to relieve myself, by withdrawing my gaze, The tongue was thrust out of the mouth with an extension impossible for a European to copy: early and long practice only could accomplish it. The deafening noise made in joining chorus, added to the resound produced by the blow the performers struck themselves with the flattened hand on the left breast, gave a lively picture of the effect these dances must produce in times of war, in raising the bravery, and heightening the antipathy that is felt by the contending parties against each other.
My companions returned the compliment in similar style, although they mustered few in number; the old chief whose gray beard floated
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in the wind, acquitted himself on our side to perfection, as nimbly as the youngest.
After the haka had ceased, the usual tangi, or lamentation, commenced. The first couple that paired off in this singular manifestation of social feelings, was the ancient chief, and companion of my journey. As soon as he recognised the old lady, his wife, mother to Parore, and she perceived in return her liege lord, an affecting scene took place between those loving relatives. The old lady made room for the chief, who sat himself down by her side, on a part of the bushes of fern that had been spread for his wife. They pressed noses for some time together (rather an unpleasant coalition in winter), and both appeared too much absorbed in grief to utter a word to each other for some time. They hid their heads within one garment; and, entwining each other, burst forth into a violent flood of tears, giving vent to the most dismal moans, and weeping bitterly. At intervals, when their tears permitted, each sung, or chanted, in doleful strains, the occurrences that had taken place during each other's absence.
This chant was taken up by turns: at the conclusion of each sentence they groaned in duetto; they were certainly much affected.
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NATIVE DANCES AND LAMENTATIONS.
These Jeremiads are such a luxury to the natives of the country, that I have seen, in the middle of a takaro, or play, a person suddenly rise and propose a "tangi," and the play has been immediately abandoned for this doleful substitute. Nor was this all; that an additional zest might be given to the entertainment, sharp mussel-shells were used to excoriate the body; and, in a short time, streams of blood trickled down the face, arms, and every part of the body of each performer. The tangi was not confined to the two old people; as each of my retinue had been appropriated by some quondam relative--one having found a sister, another a wife, some a matua kaka, or relation and parent by adoption, a common practice among these people. Their scanty garments were soon soaked through with tears, and some were almost saturated with the blood of themselves and their companions. Mussel-shells were principally in request among the ladies, whose bodies also streamed with blood. To attempt to prevent such copious bleedings would have been ineffectual: yet, often a single drop from the arm, breast, or forehead, is deemed satisfactory; however, it was not so on the above occasion.
This mournful chorus was kept up for a full half hour, which reminded me much of the
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idolatrous practices of the ancient nations around Palestine, whose names are blotted out from mankind, and of which, a merciful dispensation forbade the practice.
Puhi, my domestic, had told me he was too manly, and too much of a pakeha, or white man, to cry as he had formerly done, and join in these native ebullitions of grief; but he followed the example of his countrymen as heartily as his comrades had done.
Those natives who could not boast of relationship with the new comers, and felt that they had nothing to cry about, flocked around, and made me the subject on which to exercise their wit, by sly jokes, &c.; and, when their innumerable comparisons became stale, the corps who were mutually lamenting, came under the lash of these satirists. One genius, who sat opposite to me, created incessant laughter among the throng around us. I afterwards discovered he was amusing his friends and himself, by imitating every action that escaped me; and, notwithstanding the necessary exaggeration which gave point to his performances, he was far from incorrect.
Supper was announced, which was served up in green baskets made of the undressed flax and kierakiki plant. A large quantity of the
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provisions were allotted to my share of the feast, a little of which I partook. I also presented some savoury morsels of pork to the wahine rangatira, or chief lady of Parore, who received those meet-offerings most graciously. The old lady mother, who had not yet recovered from the tangi, sat like Niobe, in tears: though the latter lady grieved for what was irrecoverably lost to her; the former, for what she had recovered and found.
However dissimilar the cause of grief, the effect, in this instance, spoiled the appetite of the dame. She paid me but little regard on my first introduction, but, on my presenting a pipe and tobacco for her acceptance, I rose above par in her estimation.
This narcotic affords a visitor an appeal to the good graces of a New Zealander of either sex, that is found, in general, to be irresistible.
The ladies of Parore vied with each other in doing honour to the guest of their husband. One of them possessed one of the most prepossessing countenances I had seen for some time; her form was slight and graceful; her age might have been eighteen, with a natural colour, and extreme delicacy, that spoke much for the consummate taste of my entertainer. This lady's
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task was to select a cabin for me to pass the night; and she dispatched some servants to collect the tender fern, as a mattrass for my bed. The elder wife was a personification of health, mirth, and kindness. My house was soon pitched, upon which these ladies took possession. A thousand repartees passed among them; and, doubtless, the wit was particularly well adapted to the locality, as repeated sallies of laughter burst from them, that shook my intended camp to its foundation. As to my comrades who accompanied me, they enjoyed themselves at supper. Their appetites were truly insatiable. A casual bystander would have imagined they had not broken their fast for, at the least, a week; whereas they had contrived to devour three previous meals during the day. A native can always find a corner to place his food at any time; nor will he ever feel affronted, when roused at any hour of the night from the deepest sleep, if baited with something in the shape of eatables. They can masticate everlastingly; and the only valuable code in their spiritual enactments, in a medical point of view, is the prohibition which excommunicates any person from touching food while under the tapu; this system, which is rigidly adhered to, renders
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TRANSACTIONS IN THE VILLAGE.
nugatory the use of medicines to which, otherwise, these people would continually have to resort.
As early as I had finished supper, a rush was made at the baskets which contained the food I had not finished. The night was spent in dancing, and the game of ti, which consists of counting on the tips of the fingers, in which each person must place his digitals in certain positions on the instant the chosen word is repeated by an antagonist. The people are very dexterous at this game, which requires unwearied practice from childhood. It is well known among the peasantry on the continent of Europe. Many of the villagers imitated the voice of birds; this, together with songs and tales, concluded the evening's amusements, and I repaired to my bed about nine P.M., and soon fell asleep.
In the morning, I arose much refreshed; and, on waking, perceived the natives had formed a line, reaching some distance from my house, which was open to public inspection, and regarding what I was doing in silence.
The chief and his ladies, finding I was awake, entered the house, followed by some of the superior chiefs, and as many of their wives as the tenement would conveniently hold. Some of the latter sex were eminently handsome, with
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BUSINESS OF THE TOILETTE.
complexions similar to the inhabitants of the southern portion of the Spanish peninsula. My friends, within the house and without, were waiting with eager anxiety to see me turn out and dress. I do own, I felt much abashed, to personally administer to the curiosity of so many persons. I whispered to Parore, for him to request the multitude to withdraw for a short time, but he pretended he had no such authority. I spoke to the high-priest who was close to my side, but he was remarkably deaf that morning; and even the bribe of a piece of tobacco (which he nevertheless pocketed) had no effect on him: he certainly did go out, but after one or two pirouettes up and down the circle, and uttering some nonsense at my expense, which caused a universal laugh, he reseated himself alongside the bed, saying, the hearts of the villagers were like stones, as they only laughed at him, their pastor, appealing to me, if I had not heard them.
I was fain glad to hasten through the ceremony of dressing, as covertly as possible; every article of apparel with which I clad myself caused a universal shout, each person delivering some remark on the variety made use of by Europeans.
On leaving the cabin, which I left in charge of
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TRANSACTIONS IN THE VILLAGE.
Puhi, a crowd of children nocked around me, anxious to touch the white man. Most of these urchins were quite naked.
The New Zealanders often rise before daybreak; and, in consequence, seldom want for health or appetite: the latter I had cause to know, without any fear of mistake, as I bore the expense of my companions. Among the villagers I observed several venerable men, whose hoary heads were amply supplied with hair, and beards truly patriarchal, white as snow with age. To these ancients I presented many trifles that highly pleased them, and set them capering, like young kittens, with delight.
Parore led me through the fortification: it consisted of many huts, and three hundred and fifty inhabitants. Some of the houses were well built, but similar in construction to those I had formerly seen. The house occupied by the chief was much the same in size and appearance to those inhabited by the common people, most of the house-tops being arcuated by Hands, or supplejacks, found pendant in the forest. A powaka, or hut raised on poles, with some elaborately carved facing boards, on which was executed several figures of an indelicate nature, stood in the centre of the village. In these powakas (literally boxes) are deposited all the little trea-
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WAI-TAPU, OR CEMETERY.
sures of a tribe, consisting of elegant mats, or native garments, fowling-pieces, and esteemed European implements, trinkets, powder, and other articles of public utility. The carving of this hut had been freshly painted with the kokowai, or red earth.
The chief then led me to see the Wai-tapu, or consecrated cemetery of his ancestors and people. This was situated amid a cluster of the karaka fruit-trees, whose poracious appearance produced a pleasing effect. This tree being perennial, and the fruit, when ripe, a bright yellow, contrasted well with the raoui's, or carved monuments, painted red, that told the tale of those departed. One of these sepulchral posts was nearly thirty feet high; the upper part carved out into the resemblance of a man, with the ancient Egyptian sameness of expression standing on the head of a figure below with a grotesque face; the tongue, as is usual in the gravings of the native artists, was stretched as far as the material would allow the member to be extended; the eyes were formed of pieces of the pearl, paua, or mutton fish-shell, and were of sufficient dimensions to have supplied a host of figures; the knees were formed projecting outwards, and the feet were brought into one mass. Parore pointed out to me a small box, made from an old canoe, which
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Interior of a Native village in New Zealand
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contained the remains of a deceased child of his, whose bones had been scraped and washed from the outer flesh, and deposited within. This box was placed. in the branches of a tree.
Any slave eating of fruit, growing in these sacred groves, would be sacrificed. Should a chief be guilty of such impiety, superstition would soon work his punishment; and were a stranger to commit the sacrilege, war with his tribe would ensue in consequence. No quarrel is accounted so just, in the opinion of this people, as when undertaken in defence of their sacred groves. Many deadly feuds have been caused by these tapued places being invaded by ambulating pigs belonging to an obnoxious neighbour.
By the time we returned to Parore's house, our breakfast was ready, which was served up in the usual manner. The native baskets for food are seldom made use of a second time. This repast consisted of three different kinds of shellfish, the large muscle, or uru roa; cockles, or the toi; and iwi rou; in addition to the potatoes and Indian corn of the last season. This latter food cannot be masticated by these people when cooked in its crude state; it is therefore kept soaked in water for some days to soften it; but the nauseous effluvium arising from it in that
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state, is more than sufficient to satisfy the palate of the European. My lads, who were never backward in discussing a hearty meal, did ample justice to that set before them: these cormorants left but a small portion for their hosts.
The morning, which had been very hazy, now became damp and foggy, heavy clouds settled over the hills, and the repeated peals of distant thunder reverberated among the mountains, now hidden from us in mist, which damped the ardour of my escort. They requested me to pass this day in the valley, and to pursue our journey early on the morrow. I would willingly have acceded to their request, but each day was of too much importance to me, and I was obliged to insist on their packing up the provisions, &c., and making ready. At this they demurred. Apprehensive of a revolt among these obdurate followers, 1 mustered them together with some difficulty, half of them having hidden themselves in several places, and told them I would not employ force; any of them that so pleased might remain behind, as I could procure plenty of assistants. This had the desired effect: they had no excuses to make; but, requesting some trifling presents for their friends, I gave each some fish-hooks and tobacco, that soon put them into good-humour. Two of them requested that their wives, whom they had
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OBJECT OF MY JOURNEY.
met with at this village, might journey with them to Kaihu, which I permitted.
Previously to taking leave, Parore shewed me a puka-puka, written in English by a European residing on the Hokianga, announcing his intention, together with a company of commercial men in Sydney, to take the trade of flax and spars into their own hands. I bade the chief dismiss any fears as to the object of my journey, as it was intended to benefit natives and Europeans generally; that, if the river was found to be navigable for shipping, his lands would be rendered as valuable as the soil in the vicinity of those rivers inhabited by Europeans.
The chief was much pleased with my answer, which carried conviction. He gave me his nephew, Tamaroa, a smart active young chief, and a young friend, as companions in my journey, desiring them to use their influence in procuring me canoes, to accelerate my mission in descending the rivers Kaihu, Wairoa, and Kaipara.
The chief then presented me with additional provisions for the journey, also a pig which had originally belonged to Tamaroa, and now followed him with the fidelity of a dog. An increase to our stock of vegetables was added, with some bundles of fern-root and dried fish. I, then, made my troop pass on before me, and hastened
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to bid adieu to my kind friends, promising to visit them on my return. I pressed noses with the ladies, bade adieu with a wave of my travelling-cap to the gentlemen, and followed the footsteps of my companions, in time to avoid the "tangi," which diagnostic was on the eve of commencing by this singular people (who really laugh and cry at the same instant), as a token of sorrow at our departure.
Parore bore me over the rivulet that circuitously meandered the valley, and we parted at the foot of the mountains, after affectionately saluting me with tearful eyes.