1832 - Earle, A. A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand, in 1827 - New Zealand - [Pages 101-150]

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  1832 - Earle, A. A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand, in 1827 - New Zealand - [Pages 101-150]
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PAGES 101-150

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pull down several fences, tire a few muskets in the air, dance a most hideous dance of defiance, and then depart; but not one word of explanation could we obtain from him. In the course of the morning, however, the women acquainted us with the cause of this mysterious proceeding, which determined me to remove my things back again to George's village of Ko-ro-ra-di-ka as soon as possible.

The affair was simply this: Atoi had two wives. During the time of our visit to his village, he was absent, and had intrusted these women to the care of his brother; but he, instead of being faithful to the trust reposed in him, had actually seduced one of them. This circumstance came to the knowledge of George, and he, feeling for the honour of his absent friend, immediately proceeded to the village, and thus gave the parties warning that he was fully aware of the nature of their proceedings. He had also dispatched a messenger to Atoi, to inform him of his disgrace, and to request his immediate return. In the course of the day it was expected he would arrive, and bring with him a strong party of

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friends, all burning with revenge, and eager to punish his brother for his unnatural perfidy. It was thought that unless George interfered, much bloodshed might ensue; and it may readily be imagined how anxious we were that this dreaded meeting should be over; yet I (for one) had determined that I would be a witness of it. Therefore, when word was brought to me that Atoi was crossing the bay, I hastened down to the beach. There I found all parties assembled from both villages. George and his followers, who were to act as mediators, sat immediately in front of the place of landing; behind them were Atoi's brother, and all his partizans; and in the rear were all the women and children, with about a dozen white faces scattered amongst them. The scene was picturesque and exceedingly interesting. It was near the close of a lovely summer's day,--the sun fast sinking towards the horizon, threw a warm and mellow glow over the wide expanse of the far-spreading bay, whose smooth waters were only disturbed by the approaching canoe cutting its foamy way. It was crowded with

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naked warriors, urging their rapid course towards the shore; and we heard the loud and furious song of the chief, animating his friends to exertion; we saw his frantic gestures, as he stood in the centre of his canoe, brandishing his weapons. As they came near the place of landing, George ran into the stream, and as the canoe touched the shore, attacked Atoi, but in a playful manner, splashing water over him. Thus irritated, Atoi jumped on land, and with a double-barrelled musket in his hand, ran towards his brother, and doubtless would have killed him on the spot, had he not been prevented. I now saw the advantage of George and his party being present. He and three of his subjects seized upon Atoi, and tried to wrest the weapon from his hands, which if they had been able to effect, a mortal combat could not take place, such being the custom here. Atoi was a very powerful man of about thirty, and those who attacked him had a most difficult task; twice he broke from them; and I then watched the countenance of his brother, which was perfectly cool and collected, though the

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firelock was in readiness, and the finger on the trigger, which might despatch him instantly. All parties sat perfectly quiet during the desperate struggle; one of the barrels of Atoi's piece went off, and the contents flew amongst us, without however doing any material injury; and, finally, the musket was wrested out of his hands. He then sat still for about twenty minutes, to recover his breath, when he seized a club, and rushed upon his brother, (for mortal weapons were now prohibited); the brother started up, armed in the same manner; some heavy blows passed between them; when, having thrown aside their clubs, they grappled each other firmly, and a dreadful struggle ensued. As they were both completely naked, their hair was the only thing to take hold by; but being long, thick, and strong, it afforded a firm grasp, and they committed desperate havoc on each other's persons. At this period of the fight, their poor old mother, who was quite blind, came forward to try and separate the combatants'; the sister and younger brothers now followed her example; and,

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finally, the fair and frail cause of all this commotion.

The brothers, having completely exhausted their strength, were easily separated; and as their friends had carefully removed all weapons out of their reach, they of course were deprived of the means of injuring each other. The members of Atoi's family, together with a few friends, now sat down in a circle, to converse and consult on the affair. Atoi's wife totally denied the charge, and protested her innocence, and many circumstances were brought forward to corroborate her statements. The husband at length was satisfied, and all parties were reconciled.

This affair was scarcely terminated, when we found that another of a still more serious nature was likely to arise from it, and which threatened the peace of both villages. When King George sent his messenger to inform Atoi of the infidelity of his wife, the infuriated husband assaulted the man, and it was rumoured that he had killed him. This was an offence not to be forgiven, and George was so exasperated by it, that he vowed he

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would exterminate the whole of Atoi's tribe. A native, however, arrived with the intelligence that the man was not dead, but only wounded. This did not seem to allay George's feelings of resentment, and he instantly made great preparations for war. When our anxiety was wound up to the utmost, we were greatly astonished to see Atoi and all his friends approach our settlement, totally unarmed. George went out to meet them, looking so full of rage that I thought Atoi stood but a slight chance for his life. After a great deal of violent pantomimic action and grimace, the apology offered by Atoi was accepted, and the visit was concluded by a grand war-dance and sham fight performed in their best manner. King George, in the fulness of his heart at this complete restoration of friendship, gave a great feast of cumeras and fish, to which we added some tobacco; and the whole of the party seated themselves by each other with the utmost sociality,--a convincing proof that animosity is not long an inmate of their breasts.

I took every opportunity of enquiring into

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the nature of their laws and mode of government; and I found that, in general, their method of redressing wrongs was very summary, and that their ideas of what was strictly just were, for the most part, simple and equitable. For any theft, or offence of that sort, committed by one tribe on another, the parties are called to instant account. If one native takes from another any part of his possessions, the party injured has a right to retaliate, and the party retaliated upon must not make the slightest resistance. We ourselves experienced a proof of this. Some part of our property, which we supposed had been destroyed by our late fire, we had been told was to be found in the hut of a neighbouring chief. We one day took advantage of his absence, searched the hut ourselves, and discovered our things carefully deposited therein. Thus assured of the fact, we laid our complaint before King George, who, after hearing our story to the end, replied, "Well, my friends, you must go to the hut and take away all your property, and whatever else you may find, which you may think sufficient

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payment for the injury you have received." We accordingly proceeded to the chief's dwelling, whom we found standing at his door; we charged him with having robbed us, and entered the house to seize our property. He held down his head, and seemed ashamed and overpowered at this discovery. He did not attempt to vindicate his conduct, but quietly allowed us not only to take away all that had belonged to us, but likewise a musket and a double-barrelled gun, which he concluded he had lost for ever. These we had only taken away temporarily to deter him from theft in future, for a few days after we brought them back to him, to his infinite delight and astonishment.

I was frequently shocked during my residence in this country, by the number of accidents which continually happened to the natives from gunpowder; and not even the saddest experience could render them more careful. We were doubtful of the strength of a French fowling-piece we had, so we loaded it to the muzzle, and discharged it, in order to prove it. Some young chiefs, who

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saw us do this (approving of this method), as soon as they returned home loaded a musket in the same manner, and then discharged it; but not managing the affair as we did -- by means of a string fastened to the trigger, the piece burst, and mangled two of them dreadfully, and we got greatly blamed for showing them what was considered so bad an example.

A few months since a native came from the interior driving a quantity of pigs to barter for powder; he obtained several pounds' weight, and set off to return home. On his journey he passed the night in a hut, and for safety put the bag of powder under his head as a pillow; and as a New Zealander always sleeps with a fire close to him, the consequence was, in the course of the night the fire communicated to the powder, and destroyed the man and the whole of his family, who were journeying with him.

Last year a chief, and cousin of King George, named Pomaree, was defeated and killed by the people of the Thames, and George was now resolved to revenge his

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death. This determination having become known, we had a constant succession of visiters, and a considerable number of blows, scratches, and rubbing noses were the consequence. Our beach presented a most interesting and busy scene. A dozen superb war canoes were lying ready to convey the forces; and, considering their limited means, the solidity of their structure and the carved work on them are surprising. None but men of rank are allowed to work upon them, and they labour like slaves. Some canoes were to be lengthened; others patched; others were condemned to be broken up, and the fragments taken to complete new ones. Every morning we were awakened by the sound of the hammer and saw, and they were much gratified by our walking down to their dockyard to observe the progress they made, and by giving our opinions of their work. They thankfully received any hint we gave them, as to better methods of completing or proceeding with their operations. Here were carvers, painters, caulkers, and sailmakers, all working in their different departments with

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great good-humour arid industry. Some of their vessels were eighty feet long, and were entirely covered with beautiful carving. Their form was light and delicate, and if their intentions were hostile towards us, they would be very formidable alongside any merchantman. If our government should determine to colonise any part of New Zealand, they would find the natives hardy and willing assistants, and very different from the natives of New South Wales.

As their canoes were ready for launching, they ran them off the beach, jumped into them, and scudded across the bay with an almost incredible swiftness. When it is considered that in each canoe were seated eighty stout young men, each with a large paddle in his hand propelling the vessel forward, the velocity with which she flew may be imagined! It was in the midst of scenes like these that we were passing our time, and I had just become delighted with the appearance of innocence and industry so continually displayed by these people, when I was called upon to witness a sight which exhibited their character in its

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worst light, and confirmed all my horrible suspicions respecting their alleged cannibalism.

The New Zealanders have been long charged with cannibalism; but as no person of importance or celebrity had actually been a witness to the disgusting act, in pity to our nature such relations have been universally rejected, and much has been written to prove the non-existence of so hideous a propensity. It was my lot to behold it in all its horrors!

One morning, about eleven o'clock, after I had just returned from a long walk, Captain Duke informed me he had heard, from very good authority, (though the natives wished it to be kept a profound secret,) that in the adjoining village a female slave, named Matowe, had been put to death, and that the people were at that very time preparing her flesh for cooking. At the same time he reminded me of a circumstance which had taken place the evening before. Atoi had been paying us a visit, and, when going away, he recognised a girl whom he said was a slave that had run away from him; he immediately seized hold of her, and gave her in charge to some of his

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people. The girl had been employed in carrying wood for us; Atoi's laying claim to her had caused us no alarm for her life, and we had thought no more on the subject; but now, to my surprise and horror, I heard this poor girl was the victim they were preparing for the oven! Captain Duke and myself were resolved to witness this dreadful scene. We therefore kept our information as secret as possible, well knowing that if we had manifested our wishes they would have denied the whole affair. We set out, taking a circuitous route towards the village; and, being well acquainted with the road, we came upon them suddenly, and found them in the midst of their abominable ceremonies.

On a spot of rising ground, just outside the village, we saw a man preparing a native oven, which is done in the following simple manner:--A hole is made in the ground, and hot stones are put within it, and then all is covered up close. As we approached, we saw evident signs of the murder which had been perpetrated; bloody mats were strewed around, and a boy was standing by them

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actually laughing: he put his finger to his head, and then pointed towards a bush. I approached the bush, and there discovered a human head. My feelings of horror may be imagined as I recognized the features of the unfortunate girl I had seen forced from our village the preceding evening!

We ran towards the fire, and there stood a man occupied in a way few would wish to see. He was preparing the four quarters of a human body for a feast; the large bones, having been taken out, were thrown aside, and the flesh being compressed, he was in the act of forcing it into the oven. While we stood transfixed by this terrible sight, a large dog, which lay before the fire, rose up, seized the bloody head, and walked off with it into the bushes; no doubt to hide it there for another meal! The man completed his task with the most perfect composure, telling us, at the same time, that the repast would not be ready for some hours!

Here stood Captain Duke and myself, both "witnesses of a scene which many travellers have related, and their relations have inva-

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riably been treated with contempt; indeed, the veracity of those who had the temerity to relate such incredible events has been every where questioned. In this instance it was no warrior's flesh to be eaten; there was no enemy's blood to drink, in order to infuriate them. They had no revenge to gratify; no plea could they make of their passions having been roused by battle, nor the excuse that they eat their enemies to perfect their triumph. This was an action of unjustifiable cannibalism. Atoi, the chief, who had given orders for this cruel feast, had only the night before sold us four pigs for a few pounds of powder; so he had not even the excuse of want of food. After Captain Duke and myself had consulted with each other, we walked into the village, determining to charge Atoi with his brutality.

Atoi received us in his usual manner; and his handsome open countenance could not be imagined to belong to so savage a monster as he had proved himself to be. I shuddered at beholding the unusual quantity of potatoes his slaves were preparing to eat with this in-

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fernal banquet. We talked coolly with him on the subject; for as we could not prevent what had taken place, we were resolved to learn (if possible) the whole particulars. Atoi at first tried to make us believe he knew nothing about it, and that it was only a meal for his slaves; but we had ascertained it was for himself and his favourite companions. After various endeavours to conceal the fact, Atoi frankly owned that he was only waiting till the cooking was completed to partake of it. He added, that, knowing the horror we Europeans held these feasts in, the natives were always most anxious to conceal them from us, and he was very angry that it had come to our knowledge; but, as he had acknowledged the fact, he had no objection to talk about it. He told us that human flesh required a greater number of hours to cook than any other; that if not done enough, it was very tough, but when sufficiently cooked it was as tender as paper. He held in his hand a piece of paper, which he tore in illustration of his remark. He said the flesh then preparing would not be ready till next morn-

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ing; but one of his sisters whispered in my ear that her brother was deceiving us, as they intended feasting at sun-set.

We enquired why and how he had murdered the poor girl. He replied, that running away from him to her own relations was her only crime. He then took us outside his village, and showed us the post to which she had been tied, and laughed to think how he had cheated her:--"For," said he, "I told her I only intended to give her a flogging; but I fired, and shot her through the heart!" My blood ran cold at this relation, and I looked with feelings of horror at the savage while he related it. Shall I be credited when I again affirm, that he was not only a handsome young man, but mild and genteel in his demeanour? He was a man we had admitted to our table, and was a general favourite with us all; and the poor victim to his bloody cruelty was a pretty girl of about sixteen years of age!

While listening to this frightful detail, we felt sick almost to fainting. We left Atoi, and again strolled towards the spot where this disgusting mess was cooking. Not a native was

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now near it: a hot fetid steam kept occasionally bursting from the smothered mass; and the same dog we had seen with the head, now crept from beneath the bushes, and sneaked towards the village: to add to the gloominess of the whole, a large hawk rose heavily from the very spot where the poor victim had been cut in pieces. My friend and I sat gazing on this melancholy place; it was a lowering gusty day, and the moaning of the wind through the bushes, as it swept round the hill on which we were, seemed in unison with our feelings.

After some time spent in contemplating the miserable scene before us, during which we gave full vent to the most passionate exclamations of disgust, we determined to spoil this intended feast: this resolution formed, we rose to execute it. I ran off to our beach, leaving Duke on guard, and, collecting all the white men I could, I informed them of what had happened, and asked them if they would assist in destroying the oven, and burying the remains of the girl: they consented, and each having provided himself

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with a shovel or, a pickaxe, we repaired in a body to the spot. Atoi and his friends had by some means been informed of our intention, and they came out to prevent it. He used various threats to deter us, and seemed highly indignant; but as none of his followers appeared willing to come to blows, and seemed ashamed that such a transaction should have been discovered by us, we were permitted by them to do as we chose. We accordingly dug a tolerably deep grave; then we resolutely attacked the oven. On removing the earth and leaves, the shocking spectacle was presented to our view,--the four quarters of a human body half roasted. During our work clouds of steam enveloped us, and the disgust created by our task was almost overpowering. We collected all the parts we could recognise; the heart was placed separately, we supposed, as a savoury morsel for the chief himself. We placed the whole in the grave, which we filled up as well as we could, and then broke and scattered the oven.

By this time the natives from both villages

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had assembled; and a scene similar to this was never before witnessed in New Zealand. Six unarmed men, quite unprotected, (for there was not a single vessel in the harbour, nor had there been for a month,) had attacked and destroyed all the preparations of the natives for what they consider a national feast; and this was done in the presence of a great body of armed chiefs, who had assembled to partake of it. After having finished this exploit, and our passion and disgust had somewhat subsided, I could not help feeling that we had acted very imprudently in thus tempting the fury of these savages, and interfering in an affair that certainly was no concern of ours; but as no harm accrued to any of our party, it plainly shows the influence "the white men" have already obtained over them: had the offence we committed been done by any hostile tribe, hundreds of lives would have been sacrificed.

The next day our old friend King George paid us a long visit, and we talked over the affair very calmly. He highly disapproved of our conduct. "In the first place," said he,

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"you did a foolish thing, which might have cost you your lives; and yet did not accomplish your purpose after all, as you merely succeeded in burying the flesh near the spot on which you found it. After you went away, it was again taken up, and every bit was eaten;" a fact I afterwards ascertained by examining the grave, and finding it empty. King George further said, "It was an old custom, which their fathers practised before them; and you had no right to interfere with their ceremonies. I myself," added he, "have left off eating human flesh, out of compliment to you white men; but you have no reason to expect the same compliance from all the other chiefs. What punishment have you in England for thieves and runaways?" We answered, "After trial, flogging or hanging."--"Then," he replied, "the only difference in our laws is, you flog and hang, but we shoot and eat."

After thus reproving us, he became very communicative on the subject of cannibalism. He said, he recollected the time prior to pigs and potatoes being introduced into the island (an epoch of great importance to the

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New Zealanders); and stated, that he was born and reared in an inland district; and the only food they then had, consisted of fern roots and kumera; fish they never saw; and the only flesh he then partook of was human. But I will no longer dwell on this humiliating subject. Most white men who have visited the island have been sceptical on this point; I myself was, before I had "ocular proof." Consequently, I availed myself of the first opportunity to convince myself of the fact. I have reflected upon the subject, and am thoroughly satisfied that nothing will cure the natives of this dreadful propensity but the introduction of many varieties of animals, both wild and tame, and all would be sure to thrive in so mild and fine a climate.

The scene I have just described brings into consideration the subject of slavery, as it now exists in New Zealand. That slavery should be the custom of savage nations and cannibals, is not a cause of wonder: they are the only class of human beings it ought to remain with. Here slavery assumes its most hideous shape! Every one they can effect a seizure

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of in an enemy's country becomes the slave of the captors. Chiefs are never made prisoners; they either fight to the last, or are killed on the spot, and their heads are preserved (by a peculiar method) as trophies. Children are greatly prized: these they bring to their dwellings, and they remain slaves for life. Upon the number of slaves a chief can muster he takes his rank as a man of wealth and consequence in society; and the only chance these wretched beings have of being released from their miseries, is their master getting into a rage, and murdering them without further ceremony.

On entering a village, a stranger instantly discovers which portion of its inhabitants are the slaves, though both the complexion and the dresses of all are alike. The free Zealander is a joyous, good-humoured looking man, full of laughter and vivacity, and is chattering incessantly; but the slaves have invariably a squalid dejected look; they are never seen to smile, and appear literally half starved. The beauties characteristic of a New Zealander are his teeth and hair: the latter,

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in particular, is his pride and study; but the slaves have their heads half shorn. The male slave is not allowed to marry; and any intercourse with a female, if discovered, is generally punished by death. Never was there a body of men so completely cut off from all society as these poor slaves; they never can count, with certainty, on a single moment of life, as the savage caprice of their master may instantly deprive them of it. If, by chance, a slave should belong to a kind and good master, an accident happening to him, or any of his family, will probably prove equally fatal to the slave, as some are generally sacrificed on the death of a chief.

Thus these poor slaves are deprived of every hope and stimulus by which all other classes and individuals are animated; no good conduct of theirs towards their master, no attachment to his person or family, no fidelity or long service can ensure kind treatment. If the slave effect his escape to his own part of the country, he is there treated with contempt; and when he dies (if a natural death), his body is dragged to the outside of the vil-

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lage, there to be made sport of by the children, or to furnish food for the dogs! but more frequently his fate is to receive a fatal blow in a fit of passion, and then be devoured by his brutal master! Even the female slaves who, if pretty, are frequently taken as wives by their conquerors, have not a much greater chance of happiness, all being dependent upon the caprice of their owners.

When I can relate any thing favourable to the missionaries, I invariably intend to do so, which will account for the introduction of the following: -- A few days since, I paid a visit to one of their settlements, and noticed a remarkably fine native woman attending as a servant. She was respectably dressed, and in every respect (except complexion) she was similar to an European. She spoke English fluently. Upon expressing my admiration of her, I was informed that this woman had been a slave of Shunghie's, and that about a year previous he had lost one of his sons, and had determined to sacrifice this poor girl as an atonement. She was actually bound for the purpose, and nothing but the strong interfer-

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ence of the whole of the missionary society here could have saved her life. They exerted themselves greatly, and preserved her; and she had proved a faithful and valuable servant. Before finally quitting the subject of slavery, I must give an account of some white men I saw in this state of degradation, and who belonged to a chief who visited us some weeks since. In the beginning of 1827, the government of New South Wales hired the brig "Wellington" to convey a number of prisoners to Norfolk Island, most of whom were felons of the worst description: the greater part were under sentence of banishment for life. These desperadoes amounted to seventy-four; by far too many for the size of the brig, as those whose duty it was to guard them, and the crew of the vessel, were too few to keep them under subjection. When within a few days' sail of their destination, they rose on the guard, and, after a desperate struggle, made themselves masters of the vessel, which was a very fine one, and was well provided with arms and stores of every kind, amounting to a sufficiency to carry them to any part

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of the world they chose. But the machinations of the wicked rarely prosper, and this was another proof of the truth of the observation; for, after a stormy and violent debate among themselves, they at length determined to run for the Bay of Islands, and if any vessel more eligible was there, they were to take possession of her, and leave the "Wellington" behind, she having no register. It is but justice to them to state, that they behaved with humanity to their captives, and no lives were lost: they appointed officers amongst themselves, and, with the assistance of the deposed captain, made this port. On their arrival here, they found two English whalers, the "Sisters," Captain Duke, and the "Harriet." The commanders, as is usual on these occasions, went immediately on board the new comer. Captain Duke well knew the vessel, having seen her at Sydney; but, of course, had no idea of what had happened. The pirates received them with great civility, and deceived them with a false description of their voyage, -- of being bound to a southern port with prisoners; and the two captains, not

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having the slightest suspicion of who their hosts really were, passed a very merry evening with these marauders.

Soon, however, their bad management of the vessel, their want of discipline, and the general confusion on board, roused a vague suspicion in the minds of the two captains that all was not "quite right" on board the "Wellington." The real captain, too, had succeeded in conveying a note to Duke, informing him of his situation, and claiming his assistance to recapture the brig, and entreating him to release them all from captivity.

This communication produced universal alarm, as both the whalers were quite unprovided for attack or defence, and all the missionary settlements lay quite at the mercy of this band of pirates. Had the latter acted with promptness and spirit, they might easily have made themselves masters of the whole; but while they were arguing and hesitating where they would make their first attack, the whalers were actively employed in getting their great guns out of the hold, and in preparing their vessels for defence; so that, by

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the time the pirates came to the resolution to attack them, the whalers were in a good posture for resistance, and finally became the assailants. Aided by the prompt assistance of the natives, the whole of these outlaws were taken into custody, with the exception of six. The extreme interest the savages took in capturing these deluded men was truly astonishing. When they were made to understand that these were King George's (of England) slaves, who had broken loose, they knew, from their own laws, that they ought to be taken, and they displayed a great deal of courage and address in approaching and securing them.

The pirates (having many passengers and others in their power) stipulated that they should be landed at Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, unmolested by any of the English. This was granted; but no sooner were they left by themselves than a party of natives came forward, seized and bound them, stripped off their clothes, and after dressing themselves up in them, conducted their prisoners on board the whalers; but notwithstanding the anxiety of the whalers

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to secure the whole, and the activity of the natives, six of them found means to elude the search, and here they now are.

The day on which our houses were burned, these six landed in the train of one of the chiefs; and I have since entertained a suspicion that it was their desire of revenge that occasioned the destruction of our property at the time the calamity happened. I chanced to be in the house alone, and was amazed by seeing an Englishman enter the hut with his face tattoo'd all over. Not being aware he was one of the runaways from the "Wellington," I spoke to him. He slunk into our cooking-house on pretence of lighting his pipe, and before ten minutes had elapsed, the house was in flames.

The summer was now far advanced, and never, during its progress, had we been incommoded by any very hot weather. Our house was generally crowded with visiters; for, as it was the workmanship of King George and his people, they were prodigiously proud of it, and each seemed to think he had an undoubted right to sit in it as much as he

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liked. This, at times, we felt as a great annoyance; but we were obliged to be very cautious not to say or do any thing that should give offence to them, as all were exceedingly irritable, and we felt it to be most essential to our comfort to continue on friendly terms with them.

Although we were situated in the same latitude as Sydney, we found the climate of New Zealand infinitely superior. Moderate heats and beautifully clear skies succeeded each other every day. We were quite free from those oppressive feverish heats which invariably prevail in the middle of the day at Sydney, and from those hot pestilential winds which are the terror of the inhabitants of New South Wales; nor were we subject to those long droughts, which are often the ruin of the Australian farmer. The temperature here was neither too hot nor too cold, neither too wet nor too dry. Reflecting on this country, -- its situation, inhabitants, and climate, -- I felt convinced that, if it were the object of our government to form a new colony, they could not select a more desirable spot than

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New Zealand, When we left Sydney, a disease was raging there of a most disagreeable nature; namely, catarrh. As usual, it affected strongly the eyes and nose, and generally proved fatal to the very old and to children. We found the poor natives here subject to the same complaint, which they called the "Murray," or "Murraybad;" and they declared they caught it from us Europeans.

I could scarcely refrain from laughing while witnessing the strange methods they adopted to effect a cure. Sometimes they would envelope their heads entirely in green leaves, at other times they would almost roast themselves in a heated hut; but their universal remedy, and the one they generally found successful, was starvation, which is, in fact, the doctor who cures them of all the diseases the Europeans have imported amongst them: and, I confess, I have often been amazed at their rapid recovery from maladies which I should have thought incurable. The other day I asked the opinion of a clever medical man, who came here with one of the whalers, and he informed me the only cases

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he had met with amongst the natives, which terminated fatally, were a few instances of consumption.

After the novelty of our savage life began to wear away, I rambled much about the country, in order to form some judgment of its capability of improvement. I never possessed any practical knowledge of farming, and therefore cannot give a scientific opinion or description of the different soils. In whatever direction I travelled, and at this time I had crossed the country in various directions several times, the soil appeared to me to be fat and rich, and also well watered. From every part of it which the natives have cultivated, the produce has been immense. Here, where the finest samples of the human race are to be found, the largest and finest timber grows, and every vegetable (yet planted) thrives, the introduction of European grasses, fruits, &c. &c. would be a great desideratum. Were this done, in a very short time farms would be more eagerly sought after here than they now are in New South Wales. All the fruits and plants hitherto in-

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troduced by the missionary establishments have succeeded wonderfully. Peaches and water melons now were in full season; the natives brought baskets full of them to our door every day, which they exchanged with us for the merest trifles, such as a fish-hook, or a button.

Indian corn was likewise very abundant, but as the natives did not possess any means or knowledge of grinding it, they were not aware of its full value. Their only method of cooking it was one very disgusting to Europeans. They soaked the ear in water till it was quite soft and sour, the smell from which was exceedingly offensive; they then placed it in their earth ovens to bake; and when they partook of it they seemed to enjoy it very much.

In one of my journeys across the island I was accompanied by my Scotch friend, Mr. Shand, who prided himself very much upon his general knowledge of agricultural pursuits; and when I indulged in some sudden bursts of admiration at the beauty of the surrounding prospect, he would invariably check

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my enthusiasm, by observing that no animals could possibly live in a country so overgrown with fern, and where no grass was indigenous. These observations, often repeated, obliged me to qualify my admiration of this picturesque and beautiful land; but my surprise, and I may say my triumph, were complete, when, on approaching the missionary village of Kiddy Kiddy, we fell in with a herd of at least a hundred fat cattle, browsing on the sides of the hill, and having nothing else but this very fern to eat; and, on enquiry, we found they gave as good milk, and were in as healthy a condition, as when they grazed on the rich grasses of Lincolnshire.

My friend, Captain Duke, made great preparations for the return of his ships, and purchased many pigs to be salted. The self-denial of the natives is wonderful: though very fond of animal food, they sell the whole to us Europeans for the means of war; thus conquering the appetite for the purpose of possessing arms to make them terrible in the sight of their enemies. This feeling, properly directed, may lead to their becoming a great

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nation. In the course of our saltings and picklings of pork, owing to the warmth of the weather, a considerable quantity was spoiled. I recommended its being immediately thrown into the sea, but Duke, who knew the propensities of the people better than I did, and wished to ingratiate himself among them, sent for some of his favourites, and presented them with the damaged meat; with which they marched off highly delighted, and made a public feast of it in the evening.

The art of tattooing has been brought to such perfection here, that whenever we have seen a New Zealander whose skin is thus ornamented, we have admired him. It is looked upon as answering the same purposes as clothes. When a chief throws off his mats, he seems as proud of displaying the beautiful ornaments figured on his skin, as a first rate exquisite is in exhibiting himself in his last fashionable attire. It is an essential part of warlike preparations. The whole of this district of Ko-ro-ra-di-ka was preparing for the approaching war. Their canoes, muskets, powder and balls, increased daily; and a very

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ingenious artist, culled Aranghie, arrived to carry on this important branch of his art, which was soon placed in requisition, for all the mighty men in the neighbourhood were one by one under his operating hands.

As this " professor " was a near neighbour of mine, I frequently paid him a visit in his "studio," and he returned the compliment whenever he had time to spare. He was considered by his countrymen a perfect master in the art of tattooing, and men of the highest rank and importance were in the habit of travelling long journeys in order to put their skins under his skilful hands. Indeed, so highly were his works esteemed, that I have seen many of his drawings exhibited even after death. A neighbour of mine very lately killed a chief who had been tattoo'd by Aranghie, and, appreciating the artist's work so highly, he skinned the chieftain's thighs, and covered his cartouch box with it.

I was astonished to see with what boldness and precision Aranghie drew his designs upon the skin, and what beautiful ornaments he produced; no rule and com-

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passes could be more exact than the lines and circles he formed. So unrivalled is he in his profession, that a highly-finished face of a chief from the hands of this artist, is as greatly prized in New Zealand as a head from the hands of Sir Thomas Lawrence is amongst us. It was most gratifying to behold the respect these savages pay to the fine arts. This "professor" was merely a kooky or slave, but by skill and industry he raised himself to an equality with the greatest men of his country; and as every chief who employed him always made him some handsome present, he soon became a man of wealth, and was constantly surrounded by such important personages as Pungho Pungho, Ruky Ruky, Kivy Kivy, Aranghy Tooker, &c. &c. My friend Shulitea (King George) sent him every day the choicest things from his own table. Though thus basking in the full sunshine of court favour, Aranghie, like a true genius, was not puffed up with pride by his success, for he condescended to come and take tea with me almost every evening. He was delighted with my drawings, particularly

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with a portrait I made of him. He copied so well, and seemed to enter with such interest into the few lessons of painting I gave him, that if I were returning from here direct to England, I would certainly bring him with me, as I look upon him as a great natural genius.

One of the important personages who came to the village to employ the talent of our artist was a Mr. Rooky Rooky, (and he was always very particular in remembering the Mister); he brought four of his wives with him, leaving six more at home, (polygamy in New Zealand being allowed to any extent). One of this man's wives was a little girl not more than ten years of age, and she excited a great deal of interest amongst us, which when he discovered, he became very anxious to dispose of her to any of us. He importuned us incessantly on the subject, saying she was his slave, and offered her in exchange for a musket.

Though from my increased knowledge of the language, I was enabled to hold longer conversations, I could not discover that the

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New Zealanders had any universal form of government: there appeared to me to be no public bodies, or any functionaries employed by the people. Each chief seemed to possess absolute power over his own slaves, and there his authority terminated. Wealth made him feared by his foes, but gave him no influence over his friends. All offence offered to any one of a tribe (or clan) is instantly followed by some act of retaliation by the aggrieved party; and if one tribe is too weak to contend against the one from whom they have received the injury, they call in the aid of another. But should the offence be of a very aggravated nature, and several families be injured by it, a meeting of the chiefs is called. They assemble in one of their forts, and, after a discussion, decide either for an amicable adjustment, or for an exterminating war. Thus these misguided beings are continually destroying each other for some imaginary insult.

I became acquainted with a few venerable men of truly noble and praiseworthy characters; such as would do honour to any

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age, country, or religion. They had passed their whole lives in travelling from one chieftain's residence to another, for the purpose of endeavouring to explain away insults, to offer apologies, and to strive by every means in their power to establish peace between those about to plunge their country into the horrors of war. I have several times met these benevolent men journeying through the country on these pacific missions; and twice during my residence here, they have been the happy means of preventing bloodshed. Although the New Zealander is so fond of war, and possesses such warlike manners, yet are these peace-makers held in the highest respect, although they do not hold any sacred function,-- indeed no order of priesthood exists amongst the natives. I have never discovered any symptoms of religion in these people, except it consists in a great variety of absurd and superstitious ceremonies. Before I visited this island I used to imagine, from seeing so great a variety of carved figures which had been brought from this country, that they were idols, to whom they paid their devo-

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tions; but in this I was deceived. They were merely the grotesque carvings of rude artists, possessing a lively fancy, and were a proof of their industry as well as genius. Every chief's house is adorned with an abundance of these carved monsters. One of their favourite subjects is a lizard taking hold of the top of a man's head; their tradition being, that that was the origin of man. The lizard is sacred, and never injured by them. Several of their chiefs assured me they believed in the existence of a great and invisible spirit, called Atua, who keeps a constant charge and watch over them; and that they are constantly looking out for tokens of his approbation or displeasure. There is not a wind that blows but they imagine it bears some message from him. And there are not wanting crafty men who pretend to a much more intimate knowledge of his sentiments than the generality, and they easily work on the minds of the credulous and the ignorant. These impostors obtain great consideration, and their counsel and advice is most anxiously sought after by those about to undertake any important busi-

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ness; but, like ancient astrologers and modern gypsies, they speak only in ambiguous terms; so that whatever may be the result, their prediction may still correspond with it.

Like all rude and ignorant people, the New Zealanders seem more to fear the wrath of their God, than to love his attributes; and constant sacrifices (too often human ones) are offered up to appease his anger. They imagine that the just and glorious Deity is ever ready to destroy, and that His hand is always stretched forth to execute vengeance.

These sacred, or, more correctly speaking, these "cunning" men and women, who pretend to see into futurity, and to hold an intercourse with the Great Spirit, are here (in one way, at least) turned to a good and useful account. As they themselves are held sacred, every thing they wish to have taken particular care of, they can render sacred also. All the chiefs find these people of the greatest use in protecting their property, for they possess the power of tabooing; and when once this ceremony is performed over any person or thing, no one dares to touch either; and for

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a sufficiently good bribe, they will impart their sacred power to any chief, who, by means of this device, thus can protect a field of potatoes or grain, at fifty miles distance from his settlement, more securely and effectually than by any fences, or number of persons he might place to guard it.

This ceremony of taboo, which is common to the whole of the South Sea Islands, seems the principal part of their religion, and it is really difficult to walk without trespassing or infringing on some spot under this influence. All those who touch a corpse are immediately taboo'd, and must be fed like an infant, as their own hands must not touch any thing that is put into their mouths. In fact, as we strolled through the village at the time of their evening repast, it appeared as though some dreadful disease had suddenly struck the greater part of the inhabitants, and deprived them of the use of their limbs, most of them being either fed by their slaves, or lying flat down on the ground, and with their mouths eating out of their platters or baskets. The canoe that carries a corpse to the place of its interment is, from

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that time, taboo'd and laid up; and if any one by chance touches it, he does so at his peril.

All those chiefs who were under the operating hands of Aranghie, the tatooer, were under this law, and all those who worked upon their war canoes were similarly situated. Unfortunately for me, I one day took away a handful of chips from their dock-yard to make our fire burn clearly. I was informed they were taboo'd, and upon my pleading ignorance, and sorrow for the misdemeanour, together with a promise not to renew the offence, I was pardoned. A poor hen of ours did not escape so well; she, poor thing, ventured to form a nest, and actually hatched a fine family of chickens amongst these sacred shavings! Loud was the outcry, and great the horror she occasioned when she marched forth cackling, with her merry brood around her. She and "all her little ones" were sacrificed instantly. What became of their bodies we could never learn; probably the workmen were not too fastidious to eat them.

I have observed, since my residence here,

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one circumstance which proves a kind feeling in the natives, and shows they are not averse to the preaching of the missionaries, or the doctrines they inculcate.

It was the custom of all the Europeans settled here, on the beach at Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, to refrain from all kinds of work on the Sabbath; to shave, and dress themselves in their best habiliments; and if any of the missionaries came over, they went forth to meet them, and hear divine service. Several of the natives generally assembled and witnessed the ceremony; and as they observed it came every seventh day, they called it "The white taboo'd day, when the packeahs (or white men) put on clean clothes, and leave off work;" and, strange to say, the natives also abstained from working on that day. Nothing could induce them to the contrary; not that we wished to persuade them to work, but merely endeavoured so to do to ascertain the strength of their politeness. Not a bit of work would they do upon a Sunday, although it was a critical time with them; for all the chiefs were unprepared with their war canoes for the

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approaching expedition. At length we discovered that their cunning was as conspicuous as their politeness. They had observed we generally lay longer in bed on a Sunday morning than any other; they accordingly were up by break of day, and had completed many hours' work before we made our appearance; but the moment one of us did appear, the work was instantly left off. This degree of outward respect, though craftily managed, was infinitely more than could be reasonably expected from a rude and turbulent savage. It is more respect than we Europeans pay to any religious ceremony we do not understand. Even their taboo'd grounds would not be so respected by us, if we were not quite certain they possessed the power instantly to revenge any affront offered to their sacred places.

Of all animals introduced by the Europeans, the most unserviceable, and indeed injurious, have been the dogs. They have increased rapidly; every spot was crowded with poor half-starved curs, that were all night long committing depredations on the poultry, pigs,

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and goats; and if some effectual means of diminishing this pernicious breed is not soon resorted to, the island will be cleared of every other quadruped. Goats were beginning to increase, and the craggy heights round the bays formed a favourite retreat for these interesting wanderers. Captain Duke put himself to great expense and trouble, and effected the importation of some sheep from Van Diemen's Land; but the dogs soon destroyed them all.

Our friend George generally paid us a visit after the business of the day was over, and took a cup of tea; wine or grog he detested: so, while he sipped his beverage, we lit our pipes, and managed, with our slight knowledge of his language, together with his imperfect English, to keep up a sort of conversation. Sometimes this was rather wearisome; but occasionally it became interesting in the extreme. He told us that, when Captain Cook touched here, he was a little child; but that his mother (old Turero, who was then with him,) remembered his coming well. The French navigator, Marion, he recollected

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perfectly; and made one of the party that murdered him and his people. His observation was, "They were all brave men; but they were killed and eaten."

He assured us that the catastrophe was quite unpremeditated. Marion's entire ignorance of the customs of the New Zealanders occasioned that distressing event: as I have before observed, that strangers, not acquainted with their religious prejudices, are likely to commit some fatal error; and no action is more likely to lead a party into danger than an incautious use of the seine; for most of the beaches (best suited for that purpose) are taboo'd. This led to the dreadful fate of Marion and his party. I understood from. George, that when Marion's men assembled to trail their net on the sacred beach, the natives used every kind of entreaty and remonstrance to induce them to forbear; but either from ignorance or obstinacy, they persisted in their intentions, and drew their net to land.

The natives, greatly incensed by this act of impiety, vowed revenge; and the suspicions

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of the French not being roused, an opportunity soon presented itself of taking ample retaliation. The seine being very heavy, the French required the assistance of the natives in drawing it on shore. These wily fellows instantly consented to the task, and placed themselves alternately between each Frenchman, apparently, to equalise the work. Consequently in the act of pulling, each native had a white man before him; and, on an appointed signal, the brains of each European were knocked out by a tremendous blow of the stone hatchet.

Captain Marion, who, from his ship, was an eye-witness of these horrid murders, instantly hastened on shore with the remainder of his crew to avenge the slaughter of his countrymen. Led on more by ardour than prudence, he suffered himself to be surrounded; was overpowered by numbers, defeated, and every one was put to death! 1

1   This account of George's does not, I acknowledge, exactly agree with the published narrative of that unfortunate event, nor does his age agree with the dates. Only a few years elapsed between the time of Cook and Marion, yet he declares himself to have been a child at the death of the navigator, and a man at the murder of the latter; but as it was voluntary on his part to give me the above detail, and even if he were not present himself he most probably had the facts from one who was, I thought it worth inserting, as tending to throw light on one of the most melancholy events which ever took place on these coasts.

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