[Image of page 51]
possessing a fine circular, firm, sandy beach, on which there is seldom much surf, so that boats can at all times land and haul up. Scattered amongst the rushes and small bushes is seen a New Zealand village, which at first landing is scarcely perceptible, the huts being so low. Some of them are of English design, though of native workmanship. These are generally the dwellings of some Europeans, who are of so doubtful a character that it would be difficult to guess to what order of society they belonged previous to their being transplanted amongst these savages.
I found a respectable body of Scotch mechanics settled here, who came out in the New Zealand Company's ship "Rosanna," and who determined to remain at Kororadika. Their persevering industry as yet has been crowned with success, and they seem well pleased with the prospects before them.
Here, these hardy sons of Britain are employed in both carrying on, and instructing the wondering savage in various branches of useful art. Here the smith has erected his forge, and his sooty mansion is crowded by curious
[Image of page 52]
natives, who voluntarily perform the hardest and most dirty work, and consider themselves fully recompensed by a sight of his mysterious labours, every portion of which fills them with astonishment. Here is heard daily the sound of the sawpit, while piles of neat white planks appear arranged on the beach. These laborious and useful Scotchmen interfere with no one, and pursue successfully their industrious career, without either requiring or receiving any assistance from home.
But there is another class of Europeans here, who are both useless and dangerous, and these lower the character of the white people in the estimation of the natives. These men are called "Beach Rangers;" most of whom have deserted from, or have been turned out of whalers for crimes, for which, had they been taken home and tried, they would have been hanged; some few among them, having been too lazy to finish the voyage they had begun, had deserted from their ships, and were then leading a mean and miserable life amongst the natives.
There is still a third class of our country-
[Image of page 53]
men to be met with here, whose downcast and sneaking looks proclaim them to be runaway convicts from New South Wales. These unhappy men are treated with derision and contempt by all classes; and the New Zealanders, being perfectly aware of their state of degradation, refuse all intercourse with them. They are idle, unprincipled, and vicious in the extreme, and are much feared in the Bay of Islands; for when by any means they obtain liquor, they prove themselves most dangerous neighbours.
My friend Shand and myself were most comfortably situated. An intimate friend of mine (Captain Duke, of the whaler "The Sisters") had, in consequence of ill health, taken up his residence on shore while his vessel completed her cruize. In his hut we found comfort and safety; and from his information and advice we were enabled to avoid the advances of all whom his experience had taught him were to be shunned.
On terms of the closest intimacy, and with his hut adjoining that of my friend Captain Duke, lived Shulitea, (or King George, as
[Image of page 54]
he styled himself,) a chief of great power, who controlled the whole of the district where we were. We all felt grateful to him for his manifestations of friendship, and at the same time were conscious of enjoying a greater degree of security by his proximity. He was the first chief who offered protection to "the white people," and he has never been known to have broken his engagement. An unexpected and remarkable instance of his adherence to their interests, in spite of temptation, took place a few years since, which I deem worthy of relation here.
The ship "Brompton," in endeavouring to work out of the bay, by some accident got on shore, and finally became a complete wreck. This fine vessel, with a valuable cargo on board, lay helpless on the beach, and the crew and passengers expected nothing less than plunder and destruction. The natives from the interior, hearing of the circumstance, hastened down in vast numbers to participate in the general pillage. But King George summoned all his warriors to his aid, and with this party placed himself between the wreck
[Image of page 55]
and those who came to plunder it. I was informed by several who were present at the time, that, after declaring that "not an article should be taken till himself and all his party were destroyed," he advanced, and thus explained his reasons for protecting the strangers and their property: --
"You" (said King George) "come from the interior: all of you think only of what you can get, without considering the consequences; which, indeed, are but of little import to you, living as you do out of reach of the reproaches and vengeance of the white men. But look how differently I am situated. I live on the beach; this Bay is my residence: I invite the white men to come and trade here under the promise of my protection: they come; several years of profitable trading have passed between us. King George, they say, is a good man: now an accident has befallen one of their ships in my territory, what must King George do? Why, he must assist them; which he will do, and defend them against every one who shall attempt to injure them." In consequence of this speech, and his ex-
[Image of page 56]
ertions, not a thing was taken from the wreck by the savages who had collected for that purpose.
This anecdote proves that King George and his people possessed feelings of honour and generosity, which, if properly cultivated, might lead to the most happy results. From the length of time these people have been known to the Europeans, it might naturally be expected that great changes would have taken place in their habits, manners, arts, and manufactures; but this is not the case. Their huts are of the same diminutive proportions as described by Captain Cook; their clothing and mats, their canoes and paddles, are precisely the same as when that navigator described them. When they can obtain English tools, they use them in preference to their own ; still their work is not better done. The only material change that has taken place is in their mode of warfare.
The moment the New Zealanders became acquainted with the nature of fire-arms, their minds were directed but to one point; namely, to become possessed of them. After many
[Image of page 57]
ingenious and treacherous attempts to obtain these oft-coveted treasures, and which, for the most part, ended in their defeat, they had recourse to industry, and determined to create commodities which they might fairly barter for these envied muskets. Potatoes were planted, hogs were reared, and flax prepared, not for their own use or comfort, but to exchange with the Europeans for fire-arms. Their plans succeeded; and they have now fairly possessed themselves of those weapons, which at first made us so formidable in their eyes; and as they are in constant want of fresh supplies of ammunition, I feel convinced it will always be their wish to be on friendly terms with us, for the purpose of procuring these desirable stores. I have not heard of a single instance in which they have turned; these arms against us, though they are often grossly insulted.
In their combats with each other, fire-arms are used with dreadful effect. The whole soul of a New Zealander seems absorbed in the thoughts of war; every action of his life is influenced by it; and to possess weapons
[Image of page 58]
which give him such a decided superiority over those who have only their native implements of offence, he will sacrifice every thing. The value attached by them to muskets, and their ceaseless desire to possess them, will prove a sufficient security to foreigners who enter their harbours, or remain on their coasts; as I know, from experience, that the New Zealanders will rather put up with injuries, than run the risk of offending those who manufacture and barter with them such inestimable commodities.
A few days after my arrival in the bay, I crossed to the opposite side, to visit the Church missionary settlement, and to deliver a letter of introduction I had to one of the members. Here, on a beautiful bank, with a delightful beach in front, and the entrance of the bay open to them, the clear and blue expanse of water speckled over with fertile islands, reside these comfortable teachers of the Gospel. The name they have given this spot is "Marsden Vale." They very soon gave us to understand they did not wish for our acquaintance, and their coldness and inhospitality (I must
[Image of page 59]
acknowledge) created in my mind a thorough dislike to them. The object of the mission, as it was first planned, might have been attained, and might have proved highly beneficial to the New Zealanders; but as it is now conducted, no good result can be expected from it. Any man of common sense must agree with me, that a savage can receive but little benefit from having the abstruse points of the Gospel preached to him, if his mind is not prepared to receive them. This is the plan adopted here; and nothing will convince these enthusiasts that it is wrong, or induce them to change it for one more agreeable to the dictates of reason.
Upon enquiring who and what these men were, I found that the greater part of them were hardy mechanics (not well-educated clergymen), whom the benevolent and well-intentioned people of England had sent out in order to teach the natives the importance of different trades,--a most judicious arrangement, and which ought to be the foundation of all missions. What could be a more gratifying sight than groups of these athletic
[Image of page 60]
savages, toiling at the anvil or the saw; erecting for themselves substantial dwellings; thus leading them by degrees to know and to appreciate the comforts resulting from peaceful, laborious, and useful occupations? Then, while they felt sincere gratitude for services rendered them, at their leisure hours, and on certain days, these missionaries should attempt to expound to them, in as simple a manner as possible, the nature of revealed religion!
In New Zealand, the "mechanic" missionary only carries on his trade till he has every comfort around him, -- his house finished, his garden fenced, and a strong stockade enclosing all, to keep off the "pagan" savages. This done, then commences the easy task of preaching. They collect a few ragged urchins of natives, whom they teach to read and write their own language--the English tongue being forbidden; and when these children return to their families, they are despised by them, as being effeminate and useless.
I once saw a sturdy blacksmith in the prime of life, sitting in the midst of a group of savages, attempting to expound to them the
[Image of page 61]
mysteries of our holy redemption -- perplexing his own brains, as well as those of his auditors, with the most incomprehensible and absurd opinions. How much better would he have been employed in teaching them how to weld a piece of iron, or to make a nail!
What causes much disapprobation here, is the contemptuous manner in which they treat their own countrymen, as they receive most of them on the outside of their stockade fence.
On our return from Marsden Vale, our savage friends laughed heartily at us. They had warned us of the reception we should meet with; and their delight at seeing us again formed a strange contrast to that of their Christian teachers, whose inhospitable dwellings we determined never to re-enter.
A few days after my visit to the missionaries, while we were busily employed in constructing our huts, assisted by about fifty natives, on a sudden a great commotion took place amongst them. Each left his work and ran to his hut, and immediately returned armed with both musket and cartouch box; ap-
[Image of page 62]
parently all the arms in the village were mustered, and all seemed ready for immediate use. On enquiring into the cause of all these warlike preparations, I was informed that Shunghie and his chief men were crossing the bay in several large war canoes; and though he was considered as a friend and ally, yet, as he was a man of such desperate ambition, and consummate cunning, it was considered necessary to receive him under arms, which he might take either as a compliment, or as a proof of how well they were aware of the guest they were receiving.
This man, Shunghie, was a most extraordinary character, and a person I had long had a great curiosity to see, his daring and savage deeds having often been the subject of conversation in New South Wales. In his own country he was looked upon as invulnerable and invincible. In the year 1821 he had visited England, during which he had been honoured by having a personal interview with George the Fourth, and had received from his Majesty several valuable presents; amongst others, were a superb suit of chain armour, and
[Image of page 63]
a splendid double barrelled gun. From possessing these arms, so far superior to any of his neighbours, he looked upon himself as impossible to be conquered, and commenced a career of warfare and destruction on all his enemies, and nearly exterminated them. His friends called him "a god," and his enemies feared him as "a devil." Last year, Shunghie made war upon, and totally annihilated, the tribe who had fifteen years previously attacked and murdered the crew of the "Boyd." He had long determined to take revenge for that treacherous action, as he always styled himself "the friend of the English." After this, he removed his residence, and took possession of the conquered district. But in this his last battle he had to fight without his invulnerable coat of mail, his slaves having stolen it and gone over with it to the enemy. His people were now confirmed in their superstition respecting its being proof against shot, by his having received during the combat a bullet in the breast, from the effects of which he is fast sinking into the grave. His companions related the following extraordi-
[Image of page 64]
nary anecdote concerning him after he received this wound, which proves his great presence of mind.
His party were retreating, and the enemy were charging them vigorously; Shunghie stood alone when he received the bullet: he did not fall immediately, and the enemy were eagerly running up to despatch him, when he roused all his energies, and shouted aloud for the two hundred chiefs, who lay concealed, to rush forward and fall on. The foe, hearing this, paused; when about a dozen chiefs, and indeed, as Shunghie well knew, all that he had, suddenly made their appearance. This caused a panic; they turned about; the pursued became the pursuers, and nearly the whole tribe were destroyed.
He landed about a mile from the village, and we lost no time in procuring an interpreter, with whom we went instantly to pay our respects to this celebrated conqueror.
We found him and his party; his slaves, preparing their morning repast. The scene altogether was highly interesting. In a beautiful bay, surrounded by high rocks and overhang-
[Image of page 65]
ing trees; the chiefs sat in mute contemplation, their arms piled up in regular order on the beach. Shunghie, not only from his high rank, (but in consequence of his wound being taboo'd, or rendered holy,) sat apart from the rest. Their richly ornamented war canoes were drawn up on the strand; some of the slaves were unlading stores, others were kindling fires. To me it almost seemed to realize some of the passages of Homer, where he describes the wanderer Ulysses and his gallant band of warriors. We approached the chief, and paid our respects to him. He received us kindly, and with a dignified composure, as one accustomed to receive homage. His look was emaciated; but so mild was the expression of his features, that he would have been the last man I should have imagined accustomed to scenes of bloodshed and cruelty. But I soon remarked, that when he became animated in conversation, his eyes sparkled with fire, and their expression changed, demonstrating that it only required his passions to be roused, to exhibit him under a very different aspect. His wife and
[Image of page 66]
daughter were permitted to sit close to him, to administer to his wants; no others being allowed so to do, on account of his taboo.
He was arrayed in a new blanket, which completely enveloped his figure, leaving exposed his highly tatooed face, and head profusely covered with long black curling hair, adorned with a quantity of white feathers. He was altogether a very fine study; and, with his permission, I made a sketch of him; and also one including the whole group. Finding we were new comers, he asked us a variety of questions; and, among others, our opinion of his country. His remarks were judicious and sensible, and he seemed much pleased with our admiration of his territory. I produced a bottle of wine that I had brought with me, and his wife supplied him with a few glasses, which seemed to revive and animate him.
We were then invited to join him in a trip in one of his canoes, in which was placed a bed for him to recline upon: his wife seated herself close to him; while his daughter, a very pretty interesting girl about fifteen years of age, took a paddle in her hand, which she
[Image of page 67]
used with the greatest dexterity. I took the liberty of presenting her with a bracelet, with which she seemed highly delighted; when Shunghie, perceiving that I was in a giving mood, pointed to his beard, and asked me for a razor. Fortunately I had put one in my pocket on setting out, and I now presented it to him, by which gifts we continued on terms of great sociability and friendship. After a pleasant cruize with this (to us) extraordinary family, and contriving to make ourselves pretty well understood, we returned about the close of the day, and landed at the bay. All the natives were much delighted at our confidence in them, and we were equally gratified by their hospitality.
I was much amused with the punctilios used in the visit of ceremony paid to King George. Shunghie, accompanied by about a dozen of his chiefs, advanced towards our settlement, leaving their guns and hatchets behind them: as they approached, all our tribe discharged their pieces in the air. When they met, all rubbed noses (a ceremony never to be dispensed with on formal occasions).
[Image of page 68]
They were then conducted by King George to his huts on the beach; and in the enclosure in front of them the warriors squatted on the ground. Shunghie, being tabooed, or under the immediate protection of their Atua or God, still sat apart. Then the mother of George, called Tururo, or the Queen, and who is regarded quite as a sybil by the whole tribe, approached Shunghie with the greatest respect and caution, and seated herself some paces from his feet. She then began, with a most melancholy cadence (her eyes streaming with tears and fixed upon the ground), the song of welcome. All their meetings of ceremony or friendship begin with the shedding of copious floods of tears; and as Shunghie's visit was such an unhoped for and unexpected honour, so much greater in proportion was the necessity for their lamentations. This woeful song lasted half an hour, and all the assembly were soon in tears; and though at first I was inclined to turn it into ridicule, I was soon in the same state myself. The pathetic strain, and the scene altogether, was most impressive. As the song proceeded, I was informed of
[Image of page 69]
the nature of the subject, which was a theme highly calculated to affect all present. She began by complimenting the wounded warrior, deploring the incurable state of his wound, and regretting that God was wanting him, and was about so soon to take him from his friends! Then she recounted some of his most celebrated deeds of valour; naming and deploring the number of his friends who had fallen bravely in the wars, and lamenting that the enemies who had killed them were still living! This part seemed to affect them powerfully; and when Tururo ceased her song (being quite exhausted) they all rose, thus demonstrating their respect and approbation.
This was followed by a general attack upon the good things King George had prepared for them. The slaves came flocking in, bearing baskets of hot cumeras, potatoes, and fish. I observed their tears had not spoiled their appetites: they ate voraciously. After having done great honour to the feast, they all started on their feet for a dance, which lasted a long while, and with which they concluded the evening.
[Image of page 70]
The dances of all savage nations are beautiful, but those of the New Zealanders partake also of the horrible. The regularity of their movements is truly astonishing; and the song, which always accompanies a dance, is most harmonious. They soon work themselves up to a pitch of phrensy; the distortions of their face and body are truly dreadful, and fill the mind with horror. Love and war are the subjects of their songs and dances; but the details of the latter passion are by far the most popular among them. I was astonished to find that their women mixed in the dance indiscriminately with the men, and went through all those horrid gestures with seemingly as much pleasure as the warriors themselves.
The next morning I was awakened, at daybreak, by the most dismal sounds I had ever heard. I started up, and found it proceeded from the tribes parting with each other. They had divided themselves into little parties, each forming a circle; and were crying most piteously, and cutting their flesh as a cook would score pork for roasting. On such occasions
[Image of page 70a]
A Dance of New Zealanders
[Image of page 71]
each is armed with a sharp shell, or, if he can possibly obtain so valuable a prize, a piece of a broken glass bottle. All were streaming with tears and blood, while Shunghie and his friends embarked in their large and richly ornamented canoes, and sailed from our beach. After his departure, I soon discovered that, notwithstanding their apparent affection, King George and his friends were most happy their visiters had left them; and that it was more the dread of Shunghie's power, than love for him, that induced them to treat him with such respect and homage.
I made several excursions into the interior, and each confirmed me in the good opinion I had formed of the natives. I felt myself quite safe amongst them. There is a great peculiarity in rambling through this country; namely, the total absence of quadrupeds. There are abundance of birds, which are so numerous at times as almost to darken the air, -- many of them possessing very sweet notes; and wild ducks, teal, &c. cover the various streams. Wherever I went I did not discover any grass; almost every part being covered
[Image of page 72]
either with fern or flax; the former yielding the natives their principal article of food, and the latter their clothing. To this dearth of animals may be attributed the chief cause of their ferocity, and propensity to cannibalism. In most uncivilised countries the natives use their arms against the wild animals of the forest. The dangers and difficulties they encounter in overcoming them form a kind of prelude to war, and perfect them in the use of their weapons. The rifle of the North American Indian would never be so much to be dreaded, did he not depend upon its produce for his subsistence. I have myself (during my travels through North America) had many opportunities of witnessing the certain aim they take both with the arrow and the bullet; while those in the southern parts of that vast continent, who depend on taking the wild cattle, acquire, by constant practice, an equal dexterity with the lasso, which those who have not witnessed it could scarcely imagine possible. The New Zealander, while handling a musket, is quite in a state of trepidation; and though it is his darling weapon,
[Image of page 73]
he seems always afraid of it, and is never sure of his aim till he is quite close to his object. I have mentioned this fact to several Europeans who had accompanied various tribes to battle, and they all informed me they made a sad bungling use of the musket: their aim would be surer if they had large and ferocious animals to hunt or contend with. There is another circumstance that operates against their acquiring skill in the use of the gun: they are so fond of cleaning, scrubbing, and taking them to pieces, that in a short time the locks become loose, the screws are injured, and they are soon rendered entirely useless, to the great surprise and dismay of their owners, who are constantly pestering the Europeans by bringing them sick muskets (as they call them) to look at, and put to rights, and are quite surprised that we "cannot make them well again." They cannot be made to comprehend that every white man does not know how to make a musket, or, at least, to repair it.
On the 24th of November we took our departure from the bay, as we had to return to
[Image of page 74]
E. O. Ke Angha, where we had left our brig; and it was only under a promise of making a speedy return, and remaining longer with them, that our savage friends would suffer us to leave them. We expected to reach the Kiddy Kiddy River before night; but in this we were disappointed. It at length became quite dark; and the ebb tide making against us, rendered further advance impossible. We had to seek some place of shelter for the night, and not a hut was visible. While we were debating on what was best to be done, we observed a light from the shore, and made for it; but it being low water, our boat stuck fast in the slime long before we reached the banks: we were, consequently, obliged to wade knee deep through the slippery mud. We soon discovered a party of women sitting round a fire made in the midst of the swamp. They had come here for the purpose of procuring shell-fish; and as they are never very fastidious about shelter or dry beds, they had determined (according to their usual custom) to pass the night where they had been occupied during the day. This sort of bivouac I
[Image of page 75]
found excessively uncomfortable. The moment we were seated, the water began to ooze out an inch or two all round us. We sought in vain for a dry place, for we were enveloped in darkness, and surrounded by rushes and flags six or seven feet high; but being very much fatigued, we slept, notwithstanding the misery of a wet bed, with a cloud of fog for curtains. I did not wake till one of the women gave me a good shake, and informed me that the day was well up. They had prepared us a breakfast of hot shell-fish, which they had caught the preceding day, and they all seemed delighted by our eating heartily of them. As we had some biscuits in our boat, we sent for them, and gave our "fair founders of the feast" a share; and we were all very sociable and merry. When we left them, as it was again low water, the women carried us to our boat, and took their leave of us amidst peals of laughter. This was another proof to me that the English are quite safe, though travelling unguarded, amongst these people.
About nine the next morning we reached
[Image of page 76]
the Kiddy Kiddy River; and it being Sunday, the members of the mission met us on landing, and used all their endeavours to prevent our travelling on that day; but, independent of the urgent necessity of our reaching E. O. Ke Angha, the captain of our vessel, who was with us, being particularly anxious to return on board, we continued our journey, and at night came to a bivouac in a dense wood, so that we now had the luxury of stretching our weary limbs on dry ground. The next day, as we journeyed towards the river, we fell in with all our old friends, who enquired into the particulars of our adventures, and seemed highly delighted at our return.
We found "all right" on board the brig; but as she was chartered to go to Tongataboo, I and my friend Shand determined to remain at New Zealand till her return. Our principal difficulty seemed to be, which side of the island we should make choice of for a dwelling place. When it became known to the natives that we intended to remain with them, several chiefs came and offered us their
[Image of page 77]
protection; and each would have built us a house, but we preferred making our sojourn at the Bay of Islands. We were often at a loss how to evade the kind importunities of our savage hosts without giving them offence. "Is not our country as good as theirs?" -- "Are you not as safe amongst us?" --"Are we not as willing and as capable of protecting you as Shulitea?" These were the arguments they used; and, finally, we were obliged to inform them that we had a friend and countryman (Captain Duke) settled on the other side, who was preparing a house for our reception. On being informed of this circumstance they consented to part with us, though evidently with great reluctance.
While we lay here, the ship "Harmony," of London, Captain Middleton, arrived from Sydney for a cargo of spars. So large a vessel entering the port put the whole district into commotion; and when the chiefs understood the nature of her wants, and had seen the fine double-barrelled guns and store of powder to be given as payment for the wished-for freight, they hastened to the woods, and
[Image of page 78]
the axe was soon laid to the roots of the trees. I saw them pursuing their laborious employ with alacrity. In a few days a sufficient number of fine logs came floating down the river to load the ship, and they were all cleared in a workmanlike manner, ready to stow away. The chief things to induce these people to work are fire-arms and powder: these are two stimulants to their industry which never fail.
A few days after our return to E. O. Ke Angha we received intelligence that A Rowa, the father of Mooetara, and the eldest chief in the district, was dead. These deaths, when they occur among men of rank, are generally accompanied by some horrible scenes of butchery amongst their slaves, -- a common custom among all savages, but practised here, (I was informed,) with peculiar cruelty. We went on shore to witness the ceremony of A Rowa's lying in state, hoping at the same time that our presence might induce them to dispense with some of those barbarous cruelties which generally accompany their funeral rites. We had, indeed, every reason
[Image of page 79]
to think we had conjectured rightly, for nothing of the kind took place; which was considered by all as a circumstance somewhat remarkable. A great concourse of savages had assembled all round the village of the deceased chief) and there was a tremendous firing of muskets, but no particular marks of grief. I spoke to Mooetara, and requested, as a favour, if it were not breaking through their established rules, that he would conduct me to the body of his father. He accordingly led me to the outside of the village; and under a rude hut (constructed for the purpose) lay the body of the deceased chief, closely covered up with mats, leaving only part of the face and head exposed; in his hair was stuck a profusion of long white feathers, by way of ornament. Two women (whom I understood were his wives) sat close to the corpse; they were painted all over with red ochre, and seemed to perform the parts of chief mourners. These kept up a low moaning noise, and occasionally whisked off the flies from the face of the deceased. The women, the corpse, the hut, and the ground
[Image of page 80]
for some space round them, were all strictly taboo'd. Some bundles of fish, and some calabashes filled with oil, were left close by the body, intended for his consumption during his passage to the next world.
I imagine that one reason of no outrage having been committed during this solemn occasion, was our brig being on the point of sailing, and previous to her departure a great deal of traffic was expected to be carried on with the natives, for there was still a considerable quantity of muskets undisposed of; and I think, in this instance, avarice overcame filial affection,-- the minds of the chief's family being so intent upon obtaining good bargains, that they had not time to sit and mourn over their departed parent, nor to work themselves up into a paroxysm of passion sufficiently violent to cause them to murder their slaves. This afforded me a convincing proof, that as soon as they are occupied by commerce, or the useful arts, their barbarous rites will gradually be discontinued, and will speedily cease altogether.
Our brig having sailed, we were again alone
[Image of page 81]
with these wild yet interesting people. We expected our stay might be about six months, and had provided a stock in trade, consisting of a barrel of powder, half a dozen muskets, some fish-hooks, and a quantity of tobacco. Every thing we possessed we delivered into the hands of the natives, who accounted to us for the stock thus intrusted to their management with the most scrupulous exactness. Nothing can be fairer than their mode of bartering with the Europeans: the prices are fixed; ten large hogs, or 120 baskets of potatoes (about a ton and a half), are given for a musket; for small articles, such as fish, Indian corn, or fruits, the ready money are fish-hooks and tobacco. As we were now about to become inhabitants of New Zealand, it became necessary that we should be well acquainted with the particulars of their methods of "doing business," and that we should apply ourselves diligently to the study of the language, which we acquired much more readily than I had anticipated.
A few days after the departure of the brig, I witnessed a specimen of their summary
[Image of page 82]
method of executing justice. A chief, residing in the village, had proof of the infidelity of one of his wives; and being perfectly sure of her guilt, he took his patoo-patoo (or stone hatchet), and proceeded to his hut, where this wretched woman was employed in household affairs. Without mentioning the cause of his suspicion, or once upbraiding her, he deliberately aimed a blow at her head, which killed her on the spot; and as she was a slave, he dragged the body to the outside of the village, and there left it to be devoured by the dogs. The account of this transaction was soon brought to us, and we proceeded to the place to request permission to bury the body of the murdered woman, which was immediately granted. Accordingly, we procured a couple of slaves, who assisted us to carry the corpse down to the beach, where we interred it in the most decent manner we could.
This was the second murder I was very nearly a witness to since my arrival; and the indifference with which each had been spoken of, induced me to believe that such barbarities
[Image of page 83]
were events of frequent occurrence; yet the manners of all seemed kind and gentle towards each other: but infidelity in a wife is never forgiven here; and, in general, if the lover can be taken, he also is sacrificed along with the adulteress. Truth obliges me to confess that, notwithstanding these horrors staring them in the face, they will, if opportunity offers, indulge in an intrigue.
As there were two roads across to the Bay of Islands, and I was anxious to see as much of the country as possible, I determined that my second journey should be by the longest route. I set off, accompanied only by a native boy to carry a small portmanteau, and to serve me as a guide. As, on my former journey, we travelled many miles through thick tangled forests, fatiguing beyond description. In the midst of our toilsome progress, night frequently overtook us; then, by means of my fowling-piece, I procured a light; the boy made a fire; and we passed the night in this vast wilderness, far from the habitation of any human being! At daybreak we resumed our journey; and at length (about ten
[Image of page 84]
o'clock) we emerged from the wood, and entered upon extensive plains. These were not naked deserts, similar to the ones I had passed through on my former route, but were diversified with bush and brake, with a number of small villages scattered in various directions. At mid-day we arrived at what in New Zealand is considered a town of great size and importance, called Ty-a-my. It is situated on the sides of a beautiful hill, the top surmounted by a par, in the midst of a lonely and extensive plain, covered with plantations of Indian corn, cumera, and potatoes. This is the principal inland settlement, and, in point of quiet beauty and fertility, it equalled any place I had ever seen in the various countries I have visited. Its situation brought forcibly to my remembrance the scenery around Canterbury.
We found the village totally deserted, all the inhabitants being employed in their various plantations; they shouted to us as we passed, thus bidding us welcome, but did not leave their occupations to receive us. To view the cultivated parts of this country from an eminence, a person might easily imagine himself
[Image of page 85]
in a civilised land; for miles around the village of Ty-a-my nothing but beautiful green fields present themselves to the eye. The exact rows in which they plant their Indian corn would do credit to a first-rate English farmer, and the way in which they prepare the soil is admirable. The greatest deficiency which I observed in the country around me was the total absence of fences; and this defect occasions the natives a great deal of trouble, which might very easily be avoided. Hogs are the principal part of their wealth, with which, at all times, they can traffic with vessels touching at their ports. These animals, consequently, are of the utmost importance to them; but during the growth of their crops, the constant watching the hogs require to keep them out of the plantations, consumes more time than would effectually fence in their whole country; but I have no doubt, as they already begin to follow our advice and adopt our plans, they will soon see the utility of fencing in their land. I have at various times held many conversations with different chiefs
[Image of page 86]
on this subject, all of whom have acknowledged the propriety of so doing.
A few miles after leaving this beautiful village, we came to a spot covered with heaps of cinders and hillocks of volcanic matter. I found all these hillocks small craters, but none of them burning; and for miles our road lay through ashes and lava. These fires must have been extinguished many ages since, as there is not the slightest tradition among any of the natives of their ever having been burning.
After passing over this lava, our journey lay through a very swampy country, intersected with streams. I got completely wearied with stripping to wade through them, so that at length I plunged in clothes and all. At the close of a most fatiguing day's march, we arrived in sight of the bay; having travelled over an extent of about fifty miles since the morning! No canoe being in sight, and we being too distant to make signals to our brig, we had to pass another night in bivouac on a part of the beach called Wy-tanghe; and as
[Image of page 87]
it did not rain, we slept pretty comfortably. The next morning I procured a canoe, and went on board our vessel.
The day following, the brig took her final departure from New Zealand, and we bade farewell to Captain Kent. We now formally placed ourselves under the protection of King George, who seemed highly pleased with his charge; and in a few days three good houses were ready for our reception, -- one for ourselves, a second for our stores, and a third for our servants. But our pleasant prospects were soon obscured by a circumstance totally unexpected, which placed us in a most critical situation, and which we had every reason to fear would lead to our total destruction.
I was roused one morning at daybreak by my servant running in with the intelligence that a great number of war canoes were crossing the bay. As King George had told us but the evening before that he expected a visit from Ta-ri-ah, a chief of the tribe called the Narpooes, whose territory lay on the opposite side of the bay, and given us to understand that Ta-ri-ah was a man not to
[Image of page 88]
be trusted, and therefore feared some mischief might happen if he really came, the sight of these war canoes naturally caused us considerable alarm, and we sincerely wished that the visit was over.
We dressed ourselves with the utmost expedition, and walked down to the beach. The landing of these warriors was conducted with a considerable degree of order; and could I have divested myself of all idea of danger, I should have admired the sight excessively. All our New Zealand friends -- the tribe of Shulitea -- were stripped naked, their bodies were oiled, and all were completely armed; their muskets were loaded, their cartouch boxes were fastened round their waists, and their patoo-patoos were fixed to their wrists. Their hair was tied up in a tight knot at the top of their heads, beautifully ornamented with feathers of the albatross. As the opposite party landed, ours all crouched on the ground, their eyes fixed on their visiters, and perfectly silent. When the debarkation was completed, I observed the chief, Ta-ri-ah, put himself at their head, and
[Image of page 89]
march towards us with his party formed closely and compactly, and armed with muskets and paddles. When they came very near, they suddenly stopped. Our party continued still mute, with their firelocks poised ready for use. For the space of a few minutes all was still, each party glaring fiercely on the other; and they certainly formed one of the most beautiful and extraordinary pictures I had ever beheld. The fore ground was formed by a line of naked savages, each resting on one knee, with musket advanced; their gaze fixed on the opposite party; their fine broad muscular backs contrasting with the dark foliage in front, and catching the gleam of the rising sun. The strangers were clothed in the most grotesque manner imaginable; some armed, some naked, some with long beards, others were painted all over with red ochre: every part of each figure was quite still, except the rolling and glaring of their eyes on their opponents. The back ground was formed by the beach, and a number of their beautiful war canoes dancing on the waves; while, in the distance, the mountains on the opposite
[Image of page 90]
side of the bay were just tinged with the varied and beautiful colours of the sun, then rising in splendour from behind them.
The stillness of this extraordinary scene did not last long. The Narpooes commenced a noisy and discordant song and dance, yelling, jumping, and making the most hideous faces. This was soon answered by a loud shout from our party, who endeavoured to outdo the Narpooes in making horrible distortions of their countenances: then succeeded another dance from our visiters; after which our friends made a rush, and in a sort of rough joke set them running. Then all joined in a pell-mell sort of encounter, in which numerous hard blows were given and received; then all the party fired their pieces in the air, and the ceremony of landing was thus deemed completed. They then approached each other, and began rubbing noses; and those who were particular friends cried and lamented over each other.
The slaves now commenced the labour of making fires to cook the morning meal, while the chiefs, squatting down, formed a ring, or
[Image of page 91]
rather an oblong circle, on the ground: then one at a time rose up, and made long speeches; which they did in a manner peculiar to themselves. The speaker, during his harangue, keeps running backwards and forwards within the oblong space, using the most violent but appropriate gesticulation; so expressive, indeed, of the subject on which he is speaking, that a spectator, who does not understand their language, can form a tolerable idea as to what the affair is then under debate. The orator is never interrupted in his speech; but when he finishes and sits down, another immediately rises up and takes his place, so that all who choose have an opportunity of delivering theirx sentiments; after which the assembly breaks up.
Though the meeting of these hostile tribes had thus ended more amicably than King George and his party could have expected, it was easily to be perceived that the Narpooes were determined on executing some atrocity or depredations before their return; they accordingly pretended to recollect some old offence committed by the English settlers at the
[Image of page 92]
other end of the beach. They proceeded thither; and first attacked and broke open the house of a blacksmith, and carried off every article it contained. They then marched to the residence of an English captain (who was in England), and plundered it of every thing that could be taken away; and afterwards sent us word they intended to return to our end of the beach. Our fears were greatly increased by finding that our friends were not sufficiently strong to protect us from the superior force of the Narpooes; and our chief, George, being himself (we supposed) conscious of his inability, had left us to depend upon our own resources.
We now called a council of war of all the Europeans settled here; and it was unanimously resolved that we should protect and defend our houses and property, and fortify our position in the best way we could. Captain Duke had in his possession four twelve-pounders, and these we brought in front of the enclosure in which our huts were situated; and were all entirely employed in loading them with round and grape shot, and had
[Image of page 93]
made them all ready for action, when, to our consternation and dismay, we found we had a new and totally unexpected enemy to contend with. By some accident one of our houses was in flames. Our situation was now perilous in the extreme. The buildings, the work of English carpenters, were constructed of dry rushes and well-seasoned wood; and this was one of a very respectable size, and we had hoped, in a very few days, would be finished fit for our removing into.
For some seconds we stood in mute amazement, not knowing to which point to direct our energies. As the cry of "fire" was raised, groups of natives came rushing from all directions upon our devoted settlement, stripping off their clothes, and yelling in the most discordant pitch of voice. I entered the house, and brought out one of my trunks; but on attempting to return a second time, I found it filled with naked savages, tearing every thing to pieces, and carrying away whatever they could lay their hands upon. The fierce raging of the flames, the heat from the fire, the yells of the men, and the shrill cries of
[Image of page 94]
the women, formed, altogether, a horrible combination: added to all this was the mortification of seeing all our property carried off in different directions, without the least possibility of our preventing it. The tribe of the Narpooes (who, when the fire began, were at the other end of the beach) left their operations in that quarter, and poured down upon us to share in the general plunder. Never shall I forget the countenance of the chief) as he rushed forward at the head of his destroying crew! He was called "The Giant;" and he was well worthy of the name, being the tallest and largest man I had ever seen: he had an immense bushy black beard; and grinned ex-ultingly when he saw the work of destruction proceeding with such rapidity, and kept shouting loudly to his party to excite them to carry off all they could.
A cask containing seventy gallons of rum now caught fire and blew up with a terrible explosion; and the wind freshening considerably, huge volumes of smoke and flame burst out in every direction. Two of our houses were so completely enveloped, that we had
[Image of page 95]
given up all hopes of saving them. The third, which was a beautifully carved taboo'd one, some little distance from the others, and which we had converted into a store and magazine, was now the only object of our solicitude and terror. For, besides the valuable property of various kinds which were deposited within it, it contained several barrels of gunpowder! It was in vain we attempted to warn the frantic natives to retire from the vicinity of this danger. At length we persuaded about a dozen of the most rational to listen while we explained to them the cause of our alarm; and they immediately ascended to the roof, where, with the utmost intrepidity and coolness, they kept pouring water over the thatch, thus lessening the probability of an immediate explosion. About this time we noticed the re-appearance of King George; which circumstance rekindled our hopes. He was armed with a thick stick, which he laid heavily on the backs of such of his subjects as were running away with our property; thus forcing them to relinquish their prizes, and to lay them down before his own mansion,
[Image of page 96]
where all was safe. By this means a great deal was re-collected. The fire was now nearly extinguished; but our two really tolerably good houses were reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and the greater part of what belonged to us was taken away by the Narpooes.
This calamity had made us acquainted with another of their barbarous customs; which is, whenever a misfortune happens to a community, or an individual, every person, even the friends of his own tribe, fall upon and strip him of all he has remaining. -- As an unfortunate fish, when struck by a harpoon, is instantly surrounded and devoured by his companions, so in New Zealand, when a chief is killed, his former friends plunder his widow and children; and they, in revenge, ill use and even murder their slaves: thus one misfortune gives birth to various cruelties. During the fire, our allies proved themselves the most adroit and active thieves imaginable; though previously to that event we had never lost an article, although every thing we possessed was open to them.
[Image of page 97]
When we questioned them about our property, they frankly told us where it was; and after some difficulty in settling the amount of its ransom, we got most of our things back again, with the exception of such as had been carried off by the Narpooes.
Upon the cruelty of this custom I shall make no comments. Probably I should have remained in ignorance of this savage law, had I not had the misfortune to become its victim.
By redeeming from the natives what they had purloined from the fire, we had restored to us some of our boxes, desks, and clothes; but all our little comforts towards housekeeping were irretrievably lost. When the fire was over, we received a visit from one of the missionaries, who made us a cold offer of assistance. We accepted a little tea, sugar, and some few articles of crockery from them; but although they knew we stood there houseless, amongst a horde of savages, they never offered us the shelter of their roofs. I am very sure that had the calamity befallen them, we should immediately have offered our huts, and shared
[Image of page 98]
with them every thing we possessed. Here was an opportunity of practically showing the "pagans" (as they termed the New Zealanders) the great Christian doctrine of "doing to others as we would they should do unto us." I must acknowledge I was sometimes mortified at being obliged to sleep (three of us huddled up close together) in a small New Zealand hut, filled with filth and vermin of all kinds, while at only two miles' distance from us stood a neat village, abounding in every comfort that a bountiful British public could provide; and we, members of that community, and indeed partly contributors to the funds for its support.
The high state of excitement into which the savages had been thrown by the late conflagration, gradually subsided; and as we had escaped the dreaded calamity of our magazine blowing up, we began to look with calmness on our desolate condition, and draw comfort from thinking how much worse we might have been circumstanced than we then were. I hope our distress may prove a benefit to future sojourners in this country, by showing
[Image of page 99]
them the great importance of forming a proper magazine for powder. The agonies I suffered in contemplating the destruction which six barrels of powder, each of an hundred weight, would cause amongst a mob of several hundred naked savages, it is impossible to imagine!
King George, as well as all his people, were most anxious to build us a new habitation entirely themselves. They requested us to give them the dimensions of the various dwellings, and said we should have no further trouble about them. A party accordingly proceeded to the bush to collect materials. They first formed the skeleton of a cottage containing three rooms, with slight sticks, firmly tied together with strips of flax. While this was in progress, another party was collecting rushes (which grow plentifully in the neighbourhood, called Ra-poo). These they spread in the sun for twenty-four hours, when they considered them sufficiently dry. They then thatched every part of the house; which for neatness and strength, was equal to any thing I had ever seen. The doors and windows we em-
[Image of page 100]
ployed our carpenter to make, these being luxuries quite beyond the comprehension of the natives. We were thus tolerably well lodged again; and our time passed on tranquilly, almost every day developing some fresh trait of character amongst these children of nature.
I went to reside for a short time at a village about half a mile distant, where there was a pretty good house vacant. It was called Ma-to-we, and belonged to a chief named Atoi, a relation of George's, but a much younger man. His power was not so great, and he was every way subject to the authority of the tribe under whose protection I had placed myself. One morning, at day-break, we were roused by the hasty approach of King George and all his warriors, towards Ma-to-we. All were fully equipped for war, and each countenance looked fierce and wild. Our late misfortunes having rendered us more than usually anxious, this hostile appearance gave us considerable alarm. We left our house to enquiry the reason thereof, and saw George and his followers enter the village,