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THE beautiful, salubrious, and fertile islands of New Zealand, Eaheinomauwe, --or North Island, Tavaipoenammoo, or South Island --often called the middle island, and Stewart's Island--about 50 mile's in length, and the same in breadth, are separated at about an equal distance from their northern and southern extremities, by a safe and navigable channel, named by its discoverer, Cook's Straits. Captain Cook was the first European who landed upon these islands, but they had been seen by a Dutch navigator, named Tasman, in the year 1642, who supposed them to be apart of a great southern continent; but our memorable navigator, Cook, proved they were islands, by circumnavigating them.
The North and South Islands are each larger than Ireland--the north containing 43,000, and the south 38,000 square miles. They lie in from 34.20 to 47.30 of south latitude, and from the 167th to the 178th degree of east longitude. From north to south, they are 900 miles in length, and are the nearest lands to the antipodes of these kingdoms.
They are 1800 miles from South Australia. The North Cape, the nearest part of New Zealand to Sydney and Hobart Town, is 1220 miles, or, upon an average, about ten days' sail to the eastward of those places; but although it is thus much farther than Sydney for the outward-bound voyage, this distance will be gained on the homeward passage, for vessels bound from Australia to Europe generally return by Cape Horn, and consequently have to pass New Zealand.
The average length of the voyage to and from New Zealand will be much the same as to Sydney--about 16 weeks. I have, however, been 140 days returning from the island. I believe it has been in contemplation to establish a steam communication between England and New Zealand, by way of the West Indies, by cutting through the Isthmus of Darien or Panama, where vessels will have to be in readiness to cross the Pacific Ocean. Indeed, I see no reason why such an undertaking should not be successful; and I have no doubt but the voyage to New Zealand will then be accomplished in 70 days, besides avoiding the unpleasant prospect of being caught in a south-easter off the Cape of Good Hope, or, what is worse, a south-wester off Cape Horn.
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The subject of my narrative, and the labours of the missionaries, have been confined to the northern island--the extreme length of which is 500 miles, and the widest part, from Cape Egmont or Mount Egmont, on the west side, to the East Cape, is near 200 miles. From the vicinity of the East Cape to Port Nicholson (an excellent harbour in Cook's Straits, there runs a range of very lofty mountains, 200 miles in length. Again, in the South Island, from Queen Charlotte's Sound (a safe and commodious rendezvous in Cook's Straits--the northern extremity of the island,) to Dusky Bay, or the West Cape, a distance of 350 miles, there runs a range of mountains, from 10,000 to 14,000 feet above the level of the sea--the tops of which are covered with perpetual snow.
With respect to the interior of the southern island, very little is positively known, and even the sea coast has not as yet been very accurately surveyed; the climate, however, is colder than that of its more northern neighbour.
But even in the coldest part of New Zealand, at Dusky Bay, Captain Cook (an excellent authority) informs us that various roots and herbs, which he had planted in a former voyage, were thriving, although they would certainly have perished, had they been exposed in a similar manner in England. Myrtles and other aromatic trees and shrubs were found growing to the water's edge. I am convinced that New Zealand equals, if it does not surpass, any other country for the beauty of its natural scenery, bold and sublime views, and natural harbours. The general aspect of the country with which I am acquainted, and the appearance of that which I have seen while sailing along the coast, is hilly, and even mountainous, but mostly has the advantage of being covered with verdure.
The thickest ice I saw in the middle of winter (which is the month of June) was not thicker than a penny piece, and thawed soon after, sunrise.
The months of January and February are two of the finest, but the weather never was too warm, nor too cold--although the natives complain greatly of the cold in the winter season--this, however, is not surprising considering their scanty covering.
With respect to the population, all is a matter of conjecture: 400,000 would, perhaps, be the utmost amount--a very insignificant number for such a large tract of country; for, in my opinion, they would be capable of maintaining as great a population as the British Isles themselves. I had at first concluded that, where there were good harbours and
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large trees near the water side, fit for making canoes, the natives would be more numerous than in less favored situations; but I found that such was not the case in every instance, for in some good harbours there are scarcely any natives located; and from what I could learn the population does not seem to be on the increase.
Some of the chiefs have told me they cannot get so many men fit to go to war now, as before the white man came to their country. Several reasons may be assigned for this. -- The chiefs are now more independent of each other. Besides, an improved knowledge of agriculture, and gradual increase of provisions, has taken place among them. One-half of the wars, which formerly occurred, has arisen through the desire of one tribe to plunder the provisions of another.
The introduction of fire-arms, I am inclined to think, has had a powerful effect in keeping them peaceable, as also the want of unity, and a leader in whom they could repose confidence; but the principal causes which have tended to prevent the increase in the population will be the subject of a future letter.
The principal object of our voyage was to collect a cargo of spars, of the pine species, but called by the natives, kowdie or kourie, and of a size large enough for line-of-battle ships' top-masts. Several trials have been made in her Majesty's ships, and they have been fully proved to be equal, if not superior, to the Russian, or the best Virginian pine, being more tough and free from knots.
The ship was well manned, and adapted for the purpose, having a good roomy hold, and commanded by an experienced seaman and skilful navigator, whose firmness, energy, and perseverance obtained the co-operation of the most powerful chiefs, and the esteem of the New Zealanders; and, during the eight months we were in the country, no dispute or complaint occurred between the ship's company and the natives. Our crew consisted of 112 -- officers, men, and boys, including two experienced mast-makers. The ship was well furnished with various articles for barter, such as blankets, tobacco, pipes, fish-hooks, ammunition, and muskets, with some double-barrelled fowling-pieces, intended as presents for the chiefs.
In the mouth of May, 183-, we sailed from Spithead, having on board a Lieutenant-Governor for King Georges
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Sound--a settlement near Swan River, on the north-west coast of Australia. Nothing remarkable occurred during the passage to the equinoctial line, which we crossed on the thirty-sixth day after leaving England. Old Neptune paid us a visit, and exacted the usual penalty from all those who had not previously entered his dominions.
We called in at Rio de Janeiro for water and refreshments. This place is the capital of the Brazils, and does not lie a great deal out of the course of vessels bound from England to Australia or New Zealand, and two or three days of fresh provisions is a great benefit to the crews and passengers on so long a voyage. We arrived at King George's Sound in 120 days, having encountered a good deal of unfavourable winds. The people of this settlement were in a starving state: there were only three settlers, and the soldiers sent there for their protection; and the government at Swan River had neglected to send them provisions. We were twelve days more on the passage to Sidney.
After having refitted the ship, we sailed from Sydney to New Zealand; and, on reference to my journal, I find the passage from thence to the Bay of Islands was performed in ten days, and being nearly in the same parallel of latitude as Sydney, our course changed little from a due east. We came to an anchor about midnight in the month of October, such a night as would be called beautiful in England in the month of May--a very good time to arrive, having part of the spring and the whole summer before us, the seasons being reversed; the summer months in New Zealand being the winter months in England, consequently, their longest day is on the 21st of December. I merely mention this because I know there are a great many persons not aware of this circumstance.
Long before daylight several canoes came alongside, but the natives were not allowed to come on board until after eight o'clock, at which time the two chiefs of Korrorareka, named Tetoree and Aquila, brothers, came off to enquire the purpose of our visit. They were paddled on board in a large canoe by about thirty men. The two chiefs were tall, athletic, well made, and powerful men, measuring rather above six feet in height. Their only covering was a mat, thrown loosely over the shoulders, and held together in front by the hands. They were much tatooed about the face; in complexion very dark brown; their hair was long and black; two or three wild fowls' feathers stuck in their hair by way of ornament: each armed with his merry, made of a green
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transparent stone, about 16 inches long, and sharp at the edges, slung with a loop round the wrist. None but chiefs are permitted to carry them. They looked about the ship for a few minutes, pacing the deck with a majestic manly step, and I could tell by their way it was not the first time they had been on ship-board.
Our commander gave them audience in his cabin; and, when they were made acquainted with the object of our voyage, they were much pleased, and not only promised, but did afford us every assistance during our stay among them; and from all I afterwards experienced of the chief Tetoree, with frequent opportunities of dealing with him and his tribe, I always found him very honest, honourable, and upright; and he certainly deserves every protection and encouragement from our government. He has invariably proved himself the friend of the European. He was a powerful and influential chief, had distinguished himself as a brave warrior, and was much feared as well as respected by most of his countrymen.
The chiefs, having partaken of some refreshments, left the ship, and immediately after several canoes came off with fish, pigs, and potatoes for barter. A pig, weighing from six to seven score, was readily given in exchange for a half-worn blanket. The pork was pretty good, but the potatoes were excellent, quite as good as any in this country. I have been in many parts of the world, but had never seen any to be at all compared with these. In fact, the very best potatoes in Sydney, with all the advantage of skilful agriculturists, bear no comparison to the fine mealy potato of Now Zealand, and wherever we anchored we found potatoes in abundance.
That celebrated and never-to-be-forgotten navigator, Captain Cook, was the first who introduced pigs and potatoes into New Zealand; and I once saw an old man at Wangarooa, who told me that he recollected Cook coming to their country when he was a little boy. This man also told me that Captain Cook gave the potato to the New Zealander. The potatoes have been very useful to the crews of the numerous whale ships which frequent the harbours and coasts of these islands.
On the next day of our arrival, our commander, the two purveyors, and the chief Tetoree, accompanied by several natives, went over land to the Wangarooa district, the distance being about 26 miles, to examine the forests, in that neighbourhood. We landed at the missionary settlement at
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the Kiddy Kiddy, a small unimportant river, on the banks of which there is a good deal of level land of a rich mouldy nature. The forests of Wangarooa and the neighbourhood, contain plenty of excellent timber of the Kowdee species.
It was now determined to take the ship round to the harbour of Wangarooa, about 30 miles to the north-east of the Bay of Islands; and, before taking leave, it may be as well to say a few words about this beautiful bay and its numerous little fertile islands. The entrance lies in 35.15 south latitude, and 174.11.40 E. longitude, with Point Pocock on the north, and Cape Brett on the south side. There are several places, affording secure anchorage, named Paroa Bay, Kawa Kawa, and Korrorareka, and it is about one degree to the southward of the North Cape. It has been for some time the principal rendezvous of the South Sea whale ships which frequent the coast in search of the "black whale," The bay is large, and affords excellent anchorage for any number of vessels, and ships may safely enter it with any wind. Most of the natives speak broken English from their intercourse with Europeans, and the establishment of several missionary schools. Some little trade has been carried on between this and our Australian colonies by small coasting vessels--pigs, potatoes, and flax being sent to Sydney and given in exchange for ammunition, blankets, axes, &c. However, many of the chiefs are beginning to take cash instead. Several persons from Sydney opened huts for the sale of spirituous liquors, and, when the crews of vessels came ashore and got drunk, they committed frequent depredations on the natives. A stop is now put to this at last, and a great pity it was not done ten years' ago.
Notwithstanding so many temptations, to induce the natives to exchange for liquor the things they obtain from the masters of vessels for refreshments, I can bear testimony to their temperate habits; a drunken New Zealander is held up to the scorn and derision of his countrymen, and their only drink is cold spring water.
Several tradesmen, principally carpenters, from Sydney, had settled among the natives, and were living in security under the protection of the chiefs, on whose territory they resided, having purchased several acres of land on moderate terms from the chiefs, the price being generally paid in articles of barter. Some of their land produced the most luxuriant crops of wheat, barley, clover, &c.; and I saw
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vegetables of almost every description flourishing quite as well as they would do in the gardens in the south of England. Pumpkins, weighing upwards of thirty pounds, and melons, of the most delicious flavour, were frequently purchased of the natives both here and at the river Thames.
When land is purchased of the chiefs, it is tabooed to the buyer, the taboo being a religious ceremony performed by the chiefs; and among the New Zealanders is quite as binding as our written agreements. As the word taboo will be frequently introduced in my future letters, it will be necessary to give some explanation, for the taboo enters into all their concerns, more or less, both public and private, from the time of birth; and the funeral ceremonies of the taboo upon the bodies and bones of the chiefs for a long period after death. With respect to land being tabooed, it means that the natives will have no more claims to it whatever, neither will they, according to their customs, be allowed to trespass, or even put their foot on it. There are many things to which the process of tabooing is applied; for example, gunpowder and fire-arms, which, when they are put into a hut appointed for the purpose, both the hut and a small circumference around are tabooed. Coomeras are a species of sweet potatoe, very palatable, mealy, and nutritious --much resembling in appearance our kidney potatoe; they have a tradition that the coomeras were given by Mawee, their deity, and to whom they attribute many wonderful exploits: consequently, all persons employed preparing the ground, planting, weeding, gathering, or in any way at work with the coomeras are strictly tabooed; even when placed in the coomera store all is taboed. When a chiefs hair has been cut, he is tabooed until the following day, as are also the instruments used, and the person engaged in cutting it. The worst of it is, that when a man or woman is tabooed, they are not permitted to use their hands, nor touch any food; but they may eat off the ground with their mouth. I have been sometimes asked to dress a sore finger, or give salve for a bail (seamen's salve--soap and sugar mixed together). The person making the application has been tabooed, and I have reluctantly been compelled to give payment, in the shape of tobacco and pipes, for breaking this, in many cases, foolish practice. The poor cookee is taught to believe that breaking through a taboo would, at some future period of his life, be attended with the most serious consequences. It has sometimes occurred that when the chief takes offence, or could not obtain, or get as much as he
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wants for his pigs, he would taboo all those belonging to his tribe for three or four days. But the most remarkable instance of tabooing that came under my knowledge was that on one of the chiefs' wives at Mouranga. Old Pattewauna, between fifty and sixty years of age, had three wives, one of whom, the youngest, who was very good-looking, and about twenty, eloped one evening with a young chief belonging to a neighbouring tribe, being on the opposite shore, a distance of about twenty miles. On the following morning old Puttewauna manned his war canoes, and went over to demand the fugitive, or declare war. She was given up, with some pigs in compensation for damages, and being brought back, a hut and small piece of ground were allotted to her, with a female attendant; and she was tabooed for two moons, at the expiration of which period she was restored to favor, and, only that she was a favourite, her husband would have taken her life. I could never ascertain the origin of the taboo, but it is a ceremony that the natives observe with strict obedience; and I would advise no European to treat it lightly, nor rashly break through it, in defiance of the chief, as the consequences might be more serious than would be imagined. So much for the taboo.
It has, however, sometimes occurred that, after the chief had received the full amount of barter for his land, according to agreement, he would endeavour to extort more, and the settlers were compelled, in many instances, to comply with his demands. Mr. Busbey, at that time the British resident or agent, had only a nominal authority; but since then new regulations have taken place, and now no land purchased from the chiefs is considered valid, unless such purchase be sanctioned by the colonial government of New Zealand.
The utmost good feeling existed between us and the natives of the Bay of Islands; and a regular barter was carried on, we giving our shirts, tobacco, pipes, &c, in exchange for the pigs, potatoes, fish, and some curious, but ingeniously wrought matts, made of nice white flax. Some of the natives have adopted European apparel, and the females are particularly fond of fancy blue shirts, wearing the fore part behind--and, when they wear a shirt, it constitutes their whole dress.
We soon found our stocks of fancy trinkets to be of no use whatever for barter. I had purchased a few cheap toys, such as I knew were prized by the African blacks, but the New Zealanders would scarcely look at them, as they want-
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ed substantial articles, such as blankets, saws, axes, knives,
They are excellent marksmen, and almost every New Zealander has his fowling-piece, or musket, and of which he is a good judge---having procured them of the masters and crews of whalers, in return for pork and potatoes. I have seen them take off the lock to examine it before buying, and any defects seldom escape the penetrating eye of a purchaser. The natives about the Bay of Islands are the most powerful, in consequence of their intercourse with Europeans and the crews of the whale ships. They have plenty of arms and ammunition, through which means they have been successful in war, even with tribes at the distance of two hundred miles along the coast, going there in their fine large war-canoes. I measured one near the River Thames, 85 feet in length, made out of one single tree, capable of containing a hundred men. Their small canoes, used for ordinary purposes, are usually paddled by from four to eight men; but the war-canoes are taken great care of, and kept in good condition, in case of emergency. A great deal of time and labour is required to finish a large war-canoe, particularly when they had only their own native tools, made of a dark coloured stone, which have been thrown aside since the introduction of European ones. The sides of the canoe are made higher than the tree would have permitted by the addition of a good wide board, through which holes are bored, and securely fastened to the gunwale of the canoe; a curious image, intended to represent a man, is placed on the stem, very ingeniously carved, and ornamented with feathers. Accidents sometimes occur, but in general they are well managed, and can be paddled through the water with considerable speed.
Previously to my departure from Korrorareka, one evening while ashore, I was very much gratified at being present at a war dance. There were about two hundred natives present, males and females. On the signal being given, they all fell in rows about six or seven deep, the females being behind. The chief Tetoree, standing about seven or eight paces in front, addressed them in a clear distinct manner, and was accompanied by his son, about fourteen years of age, who occasionally took part in the address. The natives commenced striking the ground with their feet, and beating their breasts alternately with each hand, keeping the most excellent time, raising the most terrific yells, shaking their heads of black hair, which, with their tatooed faces,
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gave to them a demon-like appearance. Their motions became more rapid until they had worked themselves to high excitement, when every gesture and look was expressive of defiance of, and contempt for their enemies. In a moment all was quiet, and most of them retired to their respective huts.
There was no distinction between the dress of male and female, except the latter tying their matts occasionally round the middle, leaving the arms and breasts perfectly naked. The women are good-looking and well-featured, with black long shining hair. Some of them are a little tatooed on the chin. Their complexions vary a good deal, some being much darker than others, but none approaching to the Negro hue. In fact, I have seen some gypsies in England I might say as dark as the New Zealander. We had a black seaman on board, and many jests they indulged in at darkey's expense. The men are tall, muscular, and very active; and look upon the Negro race as much inferior to themselves. They have also the utmost contempt for the slender-limbed aborigines of Australia. I have had frequent opportunities of proving their powers of strength, and I have no hesitation whatever in saying they are considerably stronger than Europeans. Their average height is about 5 feet 10 inches. I have been often on the Madagascar coast, whose natives are said to be the best featured of the blacks, but they are very much inferior in that respect to the New Zealanders. I once saw a little girl about fourteen years of age, whose father was an Englishman. Her complexion was brunette, and she spoke good English. There is nothing to prevent the amalgamation of the New Zealanders with Europeans as they become civilized. Owing to their being so dirty, seldom if ever washing themselves, they appear much darker than they really are. I consider the females to be exceedingly good-tempered: their voices are soft, and they are fond of singing. I have seen them sitting in a circle, playing a game very popular among the females--counting numbers, as it is called; in which the fingers are much used, placing them in a certain position, instantaneously on the word being given.
The surveying party having returned from examining the forests in the neighbourhood of Wangarooa and Hokeanga, about the latter end of November, we weighed anchor and made sail from the Bay of Islands. The weather being fine
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and the wind favourable, we ran along the land as close to shore as prudence would permit. Every eminence looked green, and covered with vegetation. At noon on the following day we were abreast of the harbour, and only that we had a chief on board to point out the entrance, we should most likely have had a little more difficulty in finding it: for, so completely land-locked and sheltered by hills is the romantic and lake like harbour of Wangarooa, that a person on board ship, not more than a mile from its mouth, would not have the least idea that such a magnificent harbour was so near at band. There is, however, one drawback, namely, vessels cannot enter without a fair wind, because the entrance is too narrow for tacking ship, but a small steamer will obviate this difficulty.
We came to an anchor about three miles up the harbour in five fathom water. Several canoes came alongside, bringing off some of our old acquaintances from the Bay of Islands. They had travelled across the country, the distance over land being not more than a day's journey. As usual, plenty of fish, pigs, and potatoes, were brought off for barter; in fact, we were abundantly supplied with these during the whole of our stay in the country.
Information of our arrival having been sent to the chiefs, a number of them assembled on board, when the articles intended to be given for each spar, and for their assistance in dragging it from the forest to where the tide flows, was produced and the terms agreed upon. Two blankets, two muskets, bayonet, scabbard, and cartouch box, 201bs. powder, eighteen musket balls, a few fish hooks, pipes, and 4lbs. tobacco, was the amount agreed to be given for each spar. The chiefs were all fine stout made fellows, some of them upwards of six feet high, and each armed with his merry. I observed that two or three had their heads besmeared with a mixture of red clay and shark oil. Their general behaviour was remarkably good, notwithstanding there were sometimes during the day 200 natives on board at one time. Not a single instance of thieving occurred; but from the cookee to the chief they are the most determined beggars, and honesty is not the general characteristic of the New Zealanders, as thieving among themselves is not considered a crime, yet, where the missionaries have located themselves it is of rare occurrence. While lying at Marangi, scarcely a day passed but something was missed, but any article of value was generally restored on application to the chief. They are very fond of smoking tobacco. Many natives, both
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male and female, have a hole bored through the ear for carrying the pipes, the hole being made in their infancy, and a small piece of stick, the size of a pipe stem, is kept in to prevent its growing up, until they are old enough to smoke. The hole is also used by females for attaching various kinds of ornaments, according to the fancy of the wearer, made of green stone, some square and others round--seldom exceeding two inches in length; but a shark's tooth, tipped with red sealing wax, seemed to be the most favourite ornament.
The latitude of a small island, three miles N.E. of the entrance of Wangarooa harbour, from an observation taken on the spot, was ascertained to be 35d. 00m 30s. This place will be long remembered in the history of these islands, on account of the unfortunate crew of the ill-fated ship Boyd losing their lives in a collision with these islanders. The particulars of that event have been related by several writers, and, as there were faults on both sides, it would be well to let this melancholy occurrence, for which the natives dearly paid, be buried in generous oblivion. The natives do not like any allusion to the subject, and there were only three or four old men living who were present at that massacre, and one of them was a fine old chief named Etupie, who, at the time of the occurrence (1809) was a young man. It is reported among themselves that he did all in his power to save some of the poor fellows, who had jumped overboard to save their lives, but they were taken from him and killed. One woman and child, with the cabin boy, were all that were saved out of 70 souls. Old Etupie, by his honourable conduct and fair dealing, obtained several presents from our commander. The harbour is large and capacious, capable of containing hundreds of ships of the largest size, secure anchorage ground, and every facility for watering, the water being of excellent quality. Little streamlets of fresh water run through almost every valley; no other country can be better supplied with wholesome springs. Many of their streams I have waded through, or been carried over in the arms of a New Zealander, in my shooting excursions on shore. Although I weighed upwards of 12 stone, they have carried me in their arms through streams four feet deep with perfect ease.
There is a good deal of level country at the head of the harbour, and the soil is of rich dark coloured mould. Wherever the new ground had been laboured by the natives, it produced good potatoes without even being manured. I
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also saw several patches of Indian corn, of superior quality. I have one ear now in my possession, which I brought from Wangarooa, containing upwards of 500 grains. We found it to fatten pigs and poultry exceedingly well. The climate of New Zealand is so delightful that almost everything sown comes to perfection.
Shortly after our arrival a small piece of ground was selected for a garden, and various sorts of garden seed sown in it, including onions, melons, pumpkins, peas, &c.; and, on our subsequent visit in April, after an absence of between three or four months, all the seed which had been sown was growing well; but the garden was overgrown with weeds, which, of course, prevented them from coming to perfection. I, however, had the pleasure of tasting some green peas of my own sowing. The garden being situated at the head of the bay we called it Garden Bay.
The hills on the sides of the harbour rise very gradually, and are of a moderate height, and every where covered with the most luxuriant vegetation to the water's edge, the boughs in some places overhanging and sheltering from the rays of the sun a fishing canoe and its crew. There are numerous small coves or bays in the harbour, some having a little spring of fresh water and abundance of water cresses. It must be understood that the forests of New Zealand are by no means of immense size, and bear but a small proportion to the land that may be considered moderately clear and easily brought into cultivation. Immense tracts of land are covered with nothing but fern, growing much higher than in England, the stems and roots of which, when dried, are afterwards eaten by the natives, who appear fond of them and I have no doubt but they are nutritious. You must not suppose that, because a good deal of the land is overrun with fern, the soil is poor and sandy, for it is no such thing. Wherever I saw the fern growing the soil was invariably of a dark mouldy nature. During my rambles in New Zealand, however, I did not observe any good grass or pasture land, but that does not imply that there might not be some in the interior of the country, which has as yet been little explored; but where the fern has been destroyed by burning, a coarse sort of grass grows up, and the missionaries have proved that artificial grasses thrive, exceedingly well. I would earnestly recommend emigrants going to New Zealand to take with them plenty of garden seed, and a few pounds of the best grass and clover seed. These should be put in canisters--the top soldered on, and kept in a dry part
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of the ship. Flax grows spontaneously all over New Zealand, and is particularly plentiful in the vicinity of the river Thames.
The native inhabitants are divided into three classes--1st, the chiefs; 2ndly, freemen; 3rdly, Cookees or slaves. In point of food, clothing, or household accommodation, the one does not fare much better than the other, but the cookees' services, and even their lives, are at all times subject to the will of the chief; and anything they may get in return for their labour to Europeans, can be taken by the chiefs; yet, in intercourse and conversation they are treated with the greatest familiarity. Prisoners taken in battle were made slaves, and became the property of their conqueror, unless redeemed by their friends, which could be done for a very trifling amount, in the shape of pigs, potatoes, or mats. The chiefs occasionally dispose of a cookee. One or two such cases came under my own knowledge, but they are of rare occurrence, because the power of a chief depended upon the number of freemen and cookees under his command, combined with his skill and bravery in war. The freemen are only compelled to serve the chiefs in case of war, and by co-operating together keep the cookees in subjection.
Next in rank to the chiefs are the priests--a name to which they are scarcely entitled, as they cannot be said to teach religion. In fact, their religious belief no one can understand, for they do not know themselves what they believe. I have had a good deal of conversation upon the subject with many New Zealanders, some of whom had been a long while in Sydney, and spoke good English. Among them was an intelligent man, named William Koro-koro, who usually acted as interpreter to Tetoree, yet I never could come to any sound conclusion as to the power and attributes of their Deity; but they all pretend to believe in the existence of the spirit after death, and that the entrance to the land of evil spirits is at the North Cape. Many believe that the eyes of some of the celebrated chiefs have and will become stars. They are perfectly free from idolatry, although a stranger might be inclined to suppose that such was not the case, as he might frequently observe the natives with an ornament worn round the neck, and suspended in front with a piece of twine. They are made of green stone, representing the unshapely figure of a man, with large pearl eyes. These images are only family keepsakes.
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It was the custom in New Zealand, and in the year 1834 it was not entirely abolished, that several Cookees, generally females, were killed on the death of a chief, to attend him in his future abode. This superstitious practice has a strong hold on the mind of the New Zealander, and can only be effaced by the spread of Christianity.
When a chief dies, there is great moaning, crying, and lamentation, which lasts for two or three days. --the friends of the deceased cutting their flesh on the breast and arms, with a piece of flint, until they present the most shocking appearance. The body is subsequently placed in a box, in such a position that the head touches the knees: it is then secured to the branches of a tree, or placed upon a stage erected for the purpose, and strictly tabooed until the feast, which takes place, perhaps, some months after the death of the deceased.
Extract from my Journal, April 15.: --I visited the feast held at the settlement of the chief Hurderooa, on account of the death of his son, which had occurred about two months, previous to our arrival in this harbour. I ascertained that the last ceremony performed on the body of a chief--the scraping of his bones---had taken place at this feast, previously to their being deposited in the burial place of his ancestors.
April 17 --On my return from the forest at Kio, I met a large party of natives returning from the late feast, going to assist our men to fell trees. They were loaded with provisions, the females carrying the heaviest burdens. The men were armed, and fired at intervals by way of rejoicing.
The New Zealanders are very timid, and afraid to travel in a dark night. Before I was aware of their cowardice in this respect, having occasion to employ a native to assist in carrying my traps, and guide me to the place where our men were at work, it was dark before I was enabled to leave. I had some difficulty in finding my guide, but there was no possibility of prevailing on him to accompany me to the boat, a distance of about four miles. On account of the tide, I was obliged to leave at high water. However, two of our own men came with us, and my cowardly guide returned with them to his residence.
I afterwards learned that there was the body of a chief suspended to a tree, by whom we had to pass on our way to the boat. They have the most absurd tradition respecting the origin of the islands, viz., that a most singular personage, whom they call Mawee, dwelt upon a barren rock in the
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middle of the sea, and while fishing one day, with the jawbones of his sons for fish-hooks, Old Mawee hooked something exceeding heavy, and after no inconsiderable toil and trouble, pulled up to the top of the water the islands of New Zealand with men on them. They say that Mawee's eyes are large stars in the heavens, and that he controls the winds, sends thunder and lightning when he is angry, and can give them rain when he chooses. Wiroo they call the evil spirit, which attends them when they go to war, and incites them to evil practices.
In case rain is wanted to cause a flood in the rivers, or for any purpose, a priest is paid handsomely to pray to Mawee for it; but he will, if possible, take care not to come until he sees some change in the weather, indicating rain. (Extract, June 4) Tetoree has given two blankets to a priest to pray for rain to swell the river, so as to float the spars down to where the tide flows. The priest was sent for three days ago, but did not make his appearance until this day, when there is every probability of heavy rain.
When the ceremony of marriage takes place among the chiefs, there is much feasting and dancing between the friends of each party. They seldom marry out of their own tribe. When a chief has fixed his choice upon a female, he takes a number of his friends with him to her abode, and proceeds to take her away, whether she approves of him or not; and if he succeeds in getting her to his dwelling, every thing is amicably settled, arrangements are made for feasting, dancing, singing, quarrelling, and plundering--the latter being performed by a neighbouring party, who come to do honour to the newly married couple, by taking away all their provisions.
Infants are usually baptized or named within a week after their birth. This ceremony is performed by the priests, the infant being dipped in water; after which, speeches are made, and the whole concludes with feasting.
I will describe the causes which, I consider, have tended to check the increase of population. Polygamy is permitted among the chieftains, But it is rarely they have more than three wives--the eldest being mistress, and the others acting under her directions. This practice causes much jealousy and infanticide. The accouchment of females takes place iN the open air, and many infants die from the effects of cold. Their frequent, barbarous, and inhuman wars have led to a
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serious loss of life, as they used formerly to put to death most of the prisoners taken in battle, torturing and burning the bodies of the chiefs; but they indignantly deny ever having done so, for the purpose of eating them. They used to preserve the beads of their friends slain in battle, that they might mourn over and keep them in remembrance. Subsequently, they preserved the heads of their enemies to sell to Europeans; but I found nothing could be more offensive to the natives than any allusion to these revolting customs; and I have every reason to believe this inhuman practice is entirely abolished (at least in the northern island). There has been no war of any importance since the battle of Korrorareka, in the year 1830. The natives themselves say that this war would not have taken place, had they not been instigated by the master and crews of some whale-ships then lying at anchor in the Bay of Islands. The missionaries have saved much blood from being shed by their successful exertions in settling disputes among the chiefs. The most trifling circumstance was formerly sufficient to cause a cruel and exterminating war. As a proof of the change in their disposition, I give an extract from my Journal: Sunday, Dec. 15th---Received intelligence from the forest at Kio that six trees were fallen and two squared; in the afternoon a canoe came alongside, and reports that the chief Attaka's son had been wounded by a musket ball. This news caused much excitement among the natives on board, and at sunset Attaka and his family left the ship. Occasional shots were heard during the night; several fires were seen on the hills through the country.
Monday, 16th--I left the ship for the forest. On my arrival at the village, the residence of Attaka, he and his party were just prepared to go on to an appointed place of meeting with the neighbouring chiefs and consult what was to be done; the natives mostly all armed with muskets; some, however, had bayonets fixed on long sticks; observed no war clubs or spears. The parties met, and it was decided not to go to war until our spars were secured; I went into the hut, and upon a bed of fern, with a death-like appearance, lay the wounded son of the chief; his mother (Attaka's eldest wife, for he had two wives,) was in the act of dressing the wound with some herbs which had been beaten together, and spread upon a clean piece of flax; the wound was on the right side, and our surgeon was of opinion he would not recover; but on our subsequent visit he was well and hearty; all parties were on good terms. The dispute bad originated
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respecting some strayed pigs. The right of property is acknowledged, and the boundaries of the territories belonging to the different chiefs are distinctly known; although pigs run at large through the country they are not wild, and will follow their owners the same as dogs, even to the swimming over a small river or stream.
I may here mention another cause that tended to prevent increase in the population, viz., the inhuman practice of putting to death many female infants, for no other reason I have been told, than that, when they grow up, they consume as much food as a man, and were not able to go to war. This practice, I am happy to say, is now of rare occurrence.
I have heard, and I am inclined to believe it is true, that, should a female become pregnant by an European, the infant would be put to death at its birth, unless the mother, or the chief of the tribe to which she belongs, received payment, in the shape of a blanket.
Consumption and asthmatic complaints are very common among the New Zealanders, caused, in a great measure, by their bodies being so much exposed in all weathers; besides, they have no beds, but lie on the bare ground, and often in the open air during the night. Many used to come on board for advice and medicine, and several altogether during their illness, sleeping on the deck, and being fed by our seamen. The sick New Zealander is treated in an unfeeling manner. When one is taken ill and unable to do for himself, some of the family or tribe attend upon him (or her) for a few days, or from a new to full moon at the farthest; then, if he does not recover, he is left to perish, and many do from being starved to death. I have asked them why they did not attend better upon the sick, and they answered, "Custom of New Zealander; their Attwa, or deity, had ordered it so, and it was of no use to strive against the spirit."
The agreeable mild temperature of the northern island, with its constant and refreshing showers throughout the year, more particularly in May and June, is well adapted for the growth of corn and all kinds of fruit and vegetables; and I am of opinion that grapes would thrive exceedingly well. There are very few wild flowers, and, with the exception of some small berries, there is no fruit indigenous to the country. I cannot convey any better idea of the climate or the fertility of the soil than by stating, that, from the month of October to the end of the mouth of June, I did not observe any visible change in the face or appearance of the country. No sooner does one tree go out of blossom than another
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spreads out its luxurious foliage. Plants and herbs follow each other in rapid succession; and what can be more beautiful than a country continually mantled with a carpet of green, and looking the whole year round like our woods in the month of May, or rather, I should say, like a gentleman's park in that month, for such is the northern island of New Zealand?
Christmas-day. --The chief Huderooa dined with our commander.
Dec. 27 --A party was sent ashore to dig a well in course of the afternoon; all the natives left the ship, both male and female, without stating any particular reason for doing so, we had never been without them, night or day, since our arrival, and this caused strong suspicion that all was not right, which was strengthened when the surgeon came off at sunset; he reports having seen a number of strange natives ashore at Garden Bay, many of them armed, who acted in rather a contemptuous manner to him. Our commander deemed it prudent to load our carronades with cannister and grape shot; all the spare muskets were loaded and placed conveniently in front of the poop; and, to make the matter still worse, at half-past 9, the barge returned from the forest, owing to various suspicious circumstances. Every soul was on the alert during the night, and a bright look out was kept, and in every curl or ripple of the water we anticipated the canoes coming off to make an attack on the vessel, expecting, as we thought, to catch us napping. Nothing, however, occurred during the night, and at daylight several war canoes came into the harbour, having returned from a friendly visit to the North Cape, and the strangers we saw yesterday were come to receive them.
I concluded my last letter with an extract from my journal, shewing the cause of our suspicion that the natives had premeditated an attack upon the ship, at a time when more than two-thirds of the ship's company were absent cutting timber, or otherwise employed on shore; and this was an additional reason for our supposing they were about to take advantage of our weakness. But daylight dispelled all our anxiety. The natives came off as usual, bringing abundance of fish, &c.; and, I am glad to say, that, with the exception of this one instance, we never at any subsequent period, had reason to doubt the sincerity of the natives. For my own part I generally found them quite as honest and as
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honourable in their dealing transactions as ourselves; I always considered myself perfectly safe among them. I have slept in their huts, met parties going to war armed, have been ten miles in the country, away from my shipmates, alone and unarmed, and never was in the least molested. Whenever I came upon them at their meals, they always invited me to partake of their food, which was usually fish and potatoes, served out by the chief in small baskets.
They have a singular mode of cooking, which is as follows: --fire is procured by rubbing two pieces of wood together, which, when done, these pieces of wood are tied up, and kept in a dry place convenient to their dwellings; a round hole is then made in the ground; a lot of dry wood is placed in the bottom of the hole, and covered all over with stones, and then lighted; when the stones are sufficiently heated all the loose ashes are cleaned out, and a quantity of broad leaves, damped with water, are placed neatly over the stones, and round the sides; the food is then put in, and another layer of wet leaves placed carefully over it; lastly, a coarse basket is put over all, and covered with earth, to prevent the steam from escaping. The person in attendance can tell exactly when the provisions are sufficiently cooked. I have eat pigeons, ducks, fish, and potatoes dressed in this manner, perfectly free from dirt. The natives always scrape their potatoes with a piece of shell before they are cooked.
In friendship they are warm-hearted and kind as they are cruel and spiteful in revenge. I have observed the meeting of friends after several months' separation. It is truly a touching scene, and one that I could not look upon without feelings of sorrow. When the parties meet, and before scarcely a word is exchanged, they squat down opposite to each other, and commenced the most dismal howling and crying, at the same time cutting the skin on their faces and arms with a piece of shell, until they are in one mass of blood, occasionally leaving off to tell what has occurred among their families and friends during the period of separation. This howling lasts about half an hour; they then get up, laugh and talk, as if nothing had occurred.
There is one thing in the character of the New Zealander which deserves the greatest attention from those who may have it in their power to improve that disposition, now that they are about, or have already, become subjects of Great Britain--I mean their natural dislike of ardent spirits. In one of my rambles ou shore, accompanied by a youth, the
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son of a chief, after having, with much difficulty, ascended a steep, but not a high mountain, I sat down to take some refreshment, and was mixing for myself a little grog; and when the native smelt it, and saw me drink, he cried out, "wiperoo," or stinking water, saying, that it was no good for the New Zealander. Yes, he values rum as, and calls it stinking water. This is only one of the many instances which I could mention. On the next day of our arrival, the captain read an order to, and gave a strict command that the ship's company were on no account whatever to give away any of their allowance of spirits to the natives; and also to behave in a conciliatory manner towards them. This injunction was obeyed to its very letter. But to my tale.
A hut was hired from the chief, Attaka, and tabooed exclusively to our purpose for keeping stores and provisions for the use of our parties working in the forests. It was the hut which Attaka and his family usually resided in themselves, being the best hut of its kind in the group, and certainly of a very superior description when compared with the general run of their huts, which are miserable in the extreme, though wood and other materials for building are convenient. You cannot enter many of them without stooping, and there are few in which a person can walk in or stand upright. The natives have no furniture, unless their fishing-lines, fowling-pieces, or mats, deserve the appellation. They have neither tables, chairs, stools, beds, nor bedding; but, occasionally, an iron pot or frying pan may be seen m the habitations of those who have had intercourse with Europeans. The natives make their beds of a little fern, or spread their mats on the bare ground; and, as they obtain their food without a great deal of labour or exertion, much of their time is spent in sleeping; but I can bear testimony to their willingness to work for a very trifling remuneration. --and they are far from being so indolent as they have been represented. The store-hut was delightfully and conveniently situated upon the banks of the river, as far up as the tide flowed. Although the river, or from this place it may be called a stream, runs several miles through the country in a winding direction, it was not navigable any further up for boats, but the water rises considerably with heavy rains, and it consequently cannot fail to become valuable for floating down the timber from the adjacent forests, as well as for mechanical purposes. Owing to the serpentine turn which the river takes, we had to cross and re-cross it a dozen times in the course of five-miles--that being the distance from the
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store-hut to the forest. The natives have no idea of building bridges, so we had to wade through, taking care to pick out the shallow parts. Except the beaten tracks, there are no roads in the country, and much difficulty is therefore experienced in treading your way, even through what may be called the clear part of the country. The fern in some places grows to the height of four or five feet.
Before I proceed further, it may be as well to say a few words about the forests and timber of New Zealand. The first and most important I shall name is the pine, or, as it is called by the natives, kowdie or kourie. These beautiful and immense trees grow in most of the forests. I have seen some upwards of 90 feet in height, clear of branches from the bottom to the top, and straight as a line, but spreading out its majestic foliage high above the rest of the trees. I measured one 43 feet in circumference, and upwards of 80 feet in height, apparently in a healthy condition, the gum bursting through the bright silvery bark in lumps of large size. The natives are fond of chewing the gum of the kowdie tree. It has a nice fragrant smell, and is not at all unpleasant to the taste; chews white and tough. When one is tired of chewing, he puts it into the mouth of another, and so goes round from mouth to mouth, until, as I suppose, they have extracted all its medicinal properties. The kowdie attains the largest growth on the sides and bottom of deep ravines, always preferring stiff, clayey ground. Kowdie formed the principal portion of our cargo. Our own ship's company cut the trees, trimmed and shaped them for masts. A finer lot of spars never came to Europe. The shortest was 62 feet long and 22 inches in diameter, the longest 85 feet in length and 25 inches in diameter, though, when first cut down, some of them were 11 feet in diameter, but were reduced down to the size I have before stated-- very nice little sticks to drag four or five miles through the country, over hill and dale, to the water. However, British seamen can almost do anything. The younger trees, of the same species, will make excellent light spars and masts for small craft, and answer all the purposes for building, in which fir is at present used. Our long pole, top-gallant masts, and jib-boom were made of kowdie; and many trials they got before we doubled the Horn--but they stood like pieces of whalebone. And, as our boatswain used to say, speaking of the jib-boom, it was a darling stick. The kahikatera may be ranked next to the kourie for size and beauty, but not fit for masts, nor very useful or durable in building. It grows
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in low swampy ground, and, like the kourie tree, has a trunk clear of branches, from 60 to 70 feet long, and the top is very handsome. This tree was formerly mistook for kourie, and H.M.S. Coromandel and Dromedary brought some of the spars to England for masts. However, they were found to be useless for that purpose. Kohekohe is a fine tree, growing between 50 and 60 feet high, and from 3 to 4 feet in diameter. It is a fine close-grained wood of a reddish colour, well adapted for household furniture. Arata is a tree which grows from 60 to 70 feet in height, from 6 to 7 foot in diameter--of a red colour, tough, heavy, and beautifully grained; it will be found useful where heavy wood is required in ship-building, and will make substantial household furniture. Tanekaha is a valuable species of pine grows from 40 to 50 feet in height. It prefers a dry soil and rising ground, and is not quite so light in colour as the kourie; our mast-makers seem to think that it would make superior masts for small vessels; it is a beautiful tree, and the bark is bright and scaly. Tatarra, another tree, growing between 60 and 70 feet in high, and from 5 to 7 feet in diameter; its bark looks very rough and knotty, but light in colour; the wood is rather reddish, but planes smooth and well; and will no doubt be found useful in building. Maree, a fine large tree, produces a mahogany-coloured wood. Rema, a beautiful, high, and majestic tree, growing upwards of 80 feet in length; the trunk is slender--not more than from 10 to 12 feet in diameter, with the most splendid foliage; it prefers moist soil, and has a dark scaly bark. Akey akey is a heavy wood, of a dark colour, and most beautifully grained, but very hard. I could name several other sorts of wood-- all of which our carpenters said could be used for various purposes in building.
Travellers may talk of American forests, or the jungles of India, with their reptiles and ferocious beasts; but there are no venomous reptiles or wild beasts in the romantic and magnificent forests of New Zealand. No: not so much as a thorn to prick the feet. Scarcely any of our seamen wore shoes, and I myself have travelled many a mile barefooted, without even breaking or cracking the skin. If there are no scorpions or centipedes, there is a variety of charming songsters, of the most beautiful plumage. --Many of the birds are peculiar to New Zealand.
With respect to the birds of New Zealand, my knowledge
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is but limited; and, although there are but few which can be denominated game (no pheasants, partridges, nor grouse,) the sportsman will find that he may enjoy a really good day's shooting.
I will just describe a few of the birds with which I am acquainted. Wood pigeons are found in abundance every where--much larger, fatter, and more beautiful in plumage than our English pigeons. The flesh is delicious. They feed upon a small kind of berry, which is very plentiful in the country, and grows on the top of a long slender tree-- a species of the pine. (The natives pretend to make a sort of wine from these berries, and have brought it alongside for sale.) These birds are easily shot, for they are so tame as to allow you to approach within a few yards. The natives shoot hundreds with small pebbles, which are used as a substitute for shot. Wild ducks are also very plentiful, and likewise excel in flavour and size those of our own country. They are found along most of the rivers. There are several species of birds which inhabit the swampy places, very shy, and difficult to be shot--one in particular very much resembling the snipe, but something larger. Hawks of various species, cranes, owls, and plover, parrots, and parroquets are also to be met with in abundance. The parroquets are usually green, with yellow and red about the neck and tail. Of the singing birds the most harmonious is the toi or tue, to which we gave the nickname of parson, from its being of a beautiful glossy black, and having a small patch of snow-white-feathers on the neck, not quite so large as our own blackbird. Its natural note is something like that bird's, but longer, and more soft and sweet. Some call this the mocking-bird, as it imitates the voice of almost every other bird, and can be taught to whistle various tunes. On our departure from New Zealand, we had nearly a hundred of these birds on board, but only one lived to reach England. Another very common bird is half brown and black, very handsome, but no songster. Kingfishers are likewise numerous, but the colours not so rich as our own. There are many more little warblers in these romantic forests, filling the ear with music throughout the year--their little voices being heard the last thing at night, and the first thing to awaken one from sleep in the morning. There is something peculiarly delightful as you lie in your hammock listening to the birds, as I have many times done in New Zealand. In fact, there is nothing but them to disturb the stillness of the forests. There is not the howling of wild beasts, or any
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thing to inspire terror. Many a night have I been aroused from my sleep in the Cape of Good Hope by the roaring of wolves.
I can never efface from my memory my feelings of admiration on my first entrance into a New Zealand forest. It was on a bright sunny day, but the thick luxuriant foliage completely shut out the dazzling rays of the sun, and it was so dark, that, although I had two natives with me, I was afraid to venture in very far; and I am of opinion that some of the forests which I have visited, if left as they are, will, ere long, decay, because the trees are so close together that the sun cannot penetrate to the roots; consequently, the soil is continually in a soft, moist state, and will, in the course of time, be unable to support such immense oblongs. Plenty of suple sacks, growing up and entwining round the branches of the trees in some places, form a complete barrier like network, through which it was utterly impossible to penetrate.
The huts occupied by our people, when employed in the forests, were usually erected on an eminence in or close to the borders of the forest; and delightful spots I have seen chosen by the natives for such purposes. The reader may fancy a native village thus situated, surrounded by trees evergreen--the tops of the loftiest upon a level with the mount on which their dwellings are erected. Indeed, unless their little cabins were built upon rising ground, they would be extremely wet and uncomfortable--more particularly in the vicinity of forest land.
(Extracts from my Journal.)
Dec. 30 --Several natives visited the ship, including the son of a celebrated warrior named Shungee. He brought on board a double-barrelled fowling-piece for our armourer to repair; it had on the stock a piece of plate with this inscription--"Given by bis Majesty King George the Fourth to Shungee, King of Napooe, New Zealand." The piece was in a bad condition, having been tabooed with the remains of old Shungee, who had been dead five or six years. This distinguished chief visited England, and was, I believe, introduced to some of the Royal Family, from whom he received many presents; and on his return he proved himself the friend of the white man, and before his death he exhorted his countrymen to be kind, and not to molest the missionaries. Young Shungee, by his appearance, does not seem to inherit the warlike talents of his father. He is about five feet eleven inches in length--not muscular, and very slightly
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tatooed. Most of the chiefs are tatooed on the face, and other parts of the bodies; they say it makes them look handsome, brave, and warlike; but, in reality, the tatooing gives the countenance of a New Zealander the most ferocious and ghastly aspect. The tatooing is entirely optional, but the operation is, I understand, very painful, being performed with a small instrument, shaped like a chisel, made of green stone. It is dipped in a black dye, and hammered into the flesh with a small mallet--the lines being very tastefully and regularly performed on the nose, cheeks, and forehead. There are persons who get their living by going from village to village, for the purpose of tatooing. The females are slightly tatooed about the chin.
Dec. 31 --At daylight I left the ship to visit the forest. On my arrival at the store hut, the settlement of Attaka, I found that a Mr. Baker, Church Missionary, had pitched his tent in the valley, and was preaching to the natives, many of whom listened with deep attention. Mr. B. spoke in the New Zealand language. He left in the afternoon for his residence at the Kerri Kerri. He had a horse and was attended by some natives in European apparel. Towards evening it came on to blow and rain most terrifically, with thunder and lightning during the night. I had, during the afternoon, shot a couple of ducks, and it being the last night of the old year, we resolved to enjoy ourselves over a glass of grog. Our party consisted of myself and four men who had come down from the forest to act as a sort of guard on the provisions. The ducks were roasted, bush fashion; the usual toasts of sweet-hearts, wives, and absent friends, were drunk in a bumper, and soon after midnight, we endeavoured to get a nap, but the natives kept up an incessant whooping and war-song the whole night. The morning of the new year came in tolerably fine.
Jan. 1, 183-. --At noon, on my arrival on board, I found the chief Tetoree had come round from the Bay of Islands, and William Koro-koro acting as interpreter. Tetoree had heard that we were about to take our departure from Wangarooa; and had come to offer his services to go in the ship to any part of New Zealand. Our commander agreed that he should accompany us, and we promised to call in at the Bay of Islands for that purpose.
Jan. 2. --The parties returned from examining the harbour and forest of Tukaka. The harbour was found to be unsafe for the ship. During the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, all hands were busily employed getting the provision and stores
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on board from the forest; and, on the evening of the 6th, all prepared for sea. The natives appear to regret our departure; all the huts which were occupied by our men, as well as the timber which had been cut and trimmed, were tabooed by the chief, in expectation of our speedy return.
On the morning of the 7th inst., before the anchor was weighed, one of the chiefs came on board to make inquiry about a female cookee, belonging to his tribe. She had been missed the preceding day; a search was made through the ship in vain; but, on the following day, when lying to, off the Bay of Islands, to receive the chief, Tetoree, she was discovered in the hold among the casks, and sent ashore. It appears she had been made a prisoner from some tribe adjacent to the Thames; and, hearing that the ship was bound thither, had secreted herself for the purpose of returning. Owing to strong unfavourable winds, we hove to, on the 10th, under the lee of three barren-looking islands, called the Poor Knights, but found them inhabited. Observed fires on the southermost one during the night.
Observed, on the 10th, a canoe put off from a small cove, which paddled alongside; a native sprung on board, and the canoe shoved off, leaving him with us; we christened him "Tommy Poor Knight;" he turned out to be a pleasant fellow, and caused a great deal of fun in the ship; he said he thought the ship was going to England, and he wanted to go there too; but he was sadly disappointed when informed we were bound to Maurangee.
I may be a little incorrect in spelling the names of some places, but I have spelled them as near as I could to the way in which they were pronounced by the natives. The natives of New Zealand have no method of writing or reading, except what has been introduced by the missionaries, who have likewise reduced their language into a grammatical form, which took considerable time and attention. The native language is not at all harsh or unpleasant. Most of the articles which have been introduced by Europeans retain, with few exceptions, the names which we give them. They reckon their time by moons, counting by elevens, and cannot accurately proceed beyond one hundred--so that there is no possibility of ascertaining the age of many old men with whom I have met. I learned enough of their language in three months to make myself commonly understood, but in the eight I did not learn to speak it fluently. I have seen several copies of the New Testament in possession of the natives, and in every case they put much value upon it. As an ex-
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ample, in one instance, to try a native, I offered him a blanket in exchange, but he refused to part with it. This man had been some time under the instruction of the missionaries, and could road some passages pretty well. He was christened Peter.
Towards the latter end of January (this month corresponding to our July, but more serene and settled, the thermometer ranging from 72 to 79,) we anchored in a lonely and romantic harbour, called by the natives Ki-ya-hou, situated at the head of the Bay of Mourangee or Mahranga, on the western side of the frith or mouth of the river Thames, the latitude of which is 36d. 28m. 50s. south, long. 174d. 46m. 30s. east, affording excellent shelter and secure anchorage for vessels of any size for a distance of two miles from its entrance. The anchorage ground is quite as good as that at the Bay of Islands, for, while lying here, it blew as heavy a gale of wind, perhaps, as ever was remembered in New Zealand, and some of the gales which this coast is subject to might be called hurricanes, but we rode it out in perfect safety. Notwithstanding the country is liable to heavy gales of wind, their effects are not so disastrous as might be imagined; for numerous whale-ships are at all seasons of the year upon the coast, and the loss of one of them is indeed of rare occurrence. The prevailing winds are westerly, but the gales generally blow from the eastward. Ki-ya-hou harbour can be entered without danger or difficulty, and is infinitely superior to Wangarooa or Hokeanga. There is an extensive forest at the head of the harbour, and a small river navigable only for boats.
Two other rivers, named by the natives Pohoe and Wai Werri-Werri, also empty themselves into the bay. The latter signifies, I believe, hot water, or hot river, on account of several boiling springs in its vicinity. The temperature of these springs will cook fish, potatoes, &c, which I have tasted without perceiving anything disagreeable.
I am not much of a geologist, but I have reason to suppose that useful minerals will at no distant period be discovered adjacent to this place, for I once purchased of a native some small pieces of metal ore, in the shape of pebbles, and rounded, very heavy and silvery white; but I unfortunately lost them, and could never afterwards procure any more, although I made frequent inquiries to obtain it, I have often picked up lumps of lava, which would seem to indicate the
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existence of volcanic action, but I cannot say whether there is any mountain still burning; the natives say there are some in the interior of the country.
The only Europeans we found residing here was a Scotchman, named Browne, and four or five sawyers, employed by him for the purpose of collecting timber for masts and sawing plank, which at all times find a ready sale in the Sydney market. Much has been said about the. ferocious and treacherous character of the New Zealanders. --Now, here is an instance of six of our countrymen shut out from all intercourse with the civilized world, excepting to the masters of a few small trading vessels who occasionally put in for flax and potatoes, living in perfect security, treated with respect, and on the most friendly terms with the natives; and, on my asking one of these men, a man who had been six or seven years among the natives, whether he was not afraid to live in such a place, his answer was, that there was no fear of any injury from the natives as long as you acted kind and honourable, and did not interfere with them and their customs, or infringe upon their rights. This part of the country was but thinly inhabited; but numerous natives, from the neighbouring tribes, resort here in the fishing seasons for the purpose of catching and drying fish, and procuring oil from the livers of the fish. The skin of the sting ray serves the purpose of a bladder for containing the oil. I purchased several gallons for the use of our ship's company, and found it burn remarkably well.
I observed many natives of this place paint their bodies with a species of red and blue earth mixed up with fish oil, their heads of long black hair, and tatooed faces, coming in for a full share of the red mixture. During my stay at the Bay of Islands and Wangarooa, I did not observe that any of the natives of those places paint their bodies; perhaps it might be owing to the ingredients being more scarce.
Large quantities of the horse mackerel are annually caught, and dried by the natives in a peculiar manner, without the use of salt; they keep good a long time, and are an agreeable relish for breakfast; but I did not see any of the real mackerel, although the coasts and harbours are full of excellent flavoured fish, and wherever we anchored we generally caught as many as we could make use of with hook and line; when we hauled the net we caught abundance of fine mullet, soles, and other flat fish, for the use of our men work-
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ing in the forests; but we could purchase them so cheap from the natives that they were hardly worth the trouble of catching. There is a very fine fish taken with hook and line much resembling the salmon in appearance, but it is drier and cuts whiter. These usually come into the harbours with the flood-tide, in pursuit of the swarms of small fry--as we always found one of the small fry their favorite bait. I never observed the natives bring any of these sort of fish alongside for sale. Gurnets are plentiful everywhere, very large and richly flavoured, with the most beautiful coloured fins. Whiting, bream, and snappers are abundant, with several kinds of skate. Fine large crayfish as good as any lobsters. The oysters are inferior in quality, and not altogether very plentiful; but the cockles exceed in size and flavour the best that can be got in this country, and are to be found in most of the sandy coves. Mussels are also to be had; but I did not observe large quantities. As there are no rivers of any importance in New Zealand, it cannot be expected that there is much variety of fresh water fish.-- Even the Thames is not a large river, and cannot by any means be put in comparison with the majestic Thames of England. Its entrance is rocky, with numerous shoals, and is not navigable for vessels drawing more than ten feet of water. Numerous shoals of the black whale, and large quantities of seals frequent the capacious and beautiful bays on the coast of New Zealand, and several fisheries have been established on various parts of the coast. The crews of whale-ships being landed, live on shore during the fishing season, for the purpose of killing whales and seals. I have no doubt but that the fisheries might be considerably increased. I know that at the Cape of Good Hope, in 1830, there were two fisheries established in Siomon's Bay, and two in Table Bay; and if two good whales could be caught during the season by each fishery, they covered the expenses.
The natives about here rather excel those of the Bay of Islands in making their fishing gear, and also in making kakaas or mats. Whether the flax was better in quality, or more pains taken in bleaching and preparing it I cannot take upon myself to say; but the mats were whiter, more soft and silky in appearance, besides being closer and finer in the workmanship. I have one of those mats now in my possession, of rather an inferior sort when compared with some that are made in New Zealand; but I set quite as much value, on mine as if it had been one of the finest, because I su-
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perintended the making of it myself. I am not perfectly aware of the manner in which flax is prepared for making their finest mats; but I know the process is very simple--the only instruments I observed among them being some curious shaped wooden combs, and it is bleached in the sun. I regret that I did not make more inquiries, or pay more attention to this valuable plant. Its favourite ground is in wet, swampy places. I never, in a single instance, saw any that had been cultivated; and, although the flax looks to be of a very superior quality, and makes excellent fishing-lines, yet, when converted into ropes, and used on board ship, we found it did not stand the wear and tear that we expected; still this might be owing to the manner in which the flax was saved.
I give you some more extracts from my Journal, with a view to show the friendly disposition of the natives, and the confidence we reposed in them: --
183-. ---Jan. 26.--The commander returned from examining the forests at the head of Ki-ya-hou harbour, and gave directions that 6O men were to prepare to go on shore to fell timber.
Jan. 27.--The men were divided into three parties, 20 men being sent to the Pohoe river, 20 to the Wai Werri-Werri, and 20 to the forest at the head of this harbour; each party was attended by several natives in their canoes, who sang songs, and assisted our men to carry their provisions and traps from the boats to the huts, which the natives had built and thatched with rushes for our reception: they were kind in the extreme.
Feb. 16th (Sunday)--Fine, clear, wholesome weather. Divine service was performed by our commander. In the afternoon I went ashore to the settlement where Mr. Brown and his men resided; they treated me with much kindness; they were all neat, clean, and well dressed; everything bore an air of quietness; even the natives were not engaged in their ordinary pursuits. After taking refreshment I went a few miles into the country; passed some plantations of Indian corn, ripe, and potatoes and coomeras; the men had small plots for gardens; they said it took two years before the ground would give a good crop, on account of the roots of the fern being so closely matted together.
Feb. 18. --Visited the forest at the head of the harbour. On my arrival there, found the natives, to the number of 80
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or 90, engaged in dragging a 72 foot spar through a deep ravine, on small trees substituted for rollers, and laid across the bottom--a few of our blue-jackets superintending. The natives were in high spirits, singing, and working cheerfully. They succeeded in getting the spar to the water before dark.
25th. --Several fine war canoes came into the harbour. They proved to be those which had left this place a few days ago, having been to the river Thames for provisions. Two of the canoes came alongside with pigs, potatoes, and dried fish.
26th. ---Received six beautiful spars from the Ki-ya-hou forest, and for which the chiefs were paid the stipulated barter. They, however, wanted blankets in lieu of the musket and bayonet. Several of our men purchased musket, bayonet, and cartouch-box for a half-worn blanket.
March 6th. --Several strange canoes came into the harbour, and in the afternoon Tommy Poor Knight and the chief Capanga brought four spars alongside. About 30 natives slept on board.
7th. --At daylight the canoes brought several spars alongside from the forest at the Wai Werri-Werri. The deck was soon crowded with natives of both sexes; all the chiefs who owned the spars procured from that district assembled on board, squatting down on the quarter-deck, and receiving the barter, with which they appeared well satisfied.
8th. --A good supply of fish and plenty of melons were brought on board, but the natives would take nothing but biscuit in exchange. At sunset the barge returned with our commander, he and his party having examined the forests in the vicinity of Patrick's Bay, Houreeka, Wirooa, Wiacca, and River Thames. They had been absent from the ship twelve days. They went away unarmed, and report that they were well received by the natives of those places, who made them presents of pigs, potatoes, &c. Tetoree was one of the party.
11th. --A boat was sent to the Wai Werri, to bring on board the party from that place. The natives were extremely kind in assisting us to convey our stores and traps to the boats, and many of them accompanied us on board.
26th--It blow a most violent gale of wind. Many of the spars broke adrift in the night, but grounded in various parts of the harbour. At daylight the natives assembled in numbers, to render assistance in securing and bringing the spars alongside.
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The chiefs having been paid the amount due them for the spars, a new system of barter commenced--the natives bringing ou board small parcels of tobacco, weighing from a half to three quarters pounds, and nothing would satisfy them but "booka, booka." Of course, in a very few hours books became scarce; chests were ransacked; shelves overhauled; books, valuable and useless, alike vanished, and no doubt were soon converted into cartridge paper, for which purpose the natives required them. Books having disappeared, the demand became general for blacking and brushes, our marines monopolizing the trade in those articles, for Jack seldom bothers his brains about blacking or shoe-brushes; however pots were scraped; the cook's funnel was swept cleaner than it had ever been by the Black List men; and every fraudulent mean was adopted to imitate and adulterate blacking; The natives wanted to appear smart, and therefore required the blacking, to polish the belts and cartouch-boxes, which had been given them in exchange for the spars. Having had many customers for the tobacco allowed by the Admiralty for our own use, we were most of us aground, so that the natives found no difficulty in disposing of it.
A few days before our departure from Marangi, a large war canoe came alongside, in which was an Englishman--a stout, muscular-made fellow, with his face tatooed, and looking in every respect as ferocious as the New Zealander, and scarcely a shade lighter in complexion. He did not remain long on board, and I was afterward informed by a native that he was a runaway convict from Port Jackson.
Having taken in all our spars, we weighed anchor, and sailed with a favourable wind for Wangarooa, where we arrived in the course of a week, and anchored in our old spot near Garden Bay. The natives of both sexes flocked on board, and were delighted with our return, bringing off fish, pumpkins, melons, onions, and peaches. Young Shungee, and the chief Huderooa visited the ship. I went ashore to examime the state of our little garden; found cabbages, onions, melons, pumpkins, peas, &c., all thriving exceedingly well, but the weeds and young fern had prevented them coming to perfection.
On the following morning we received intelligence from the forest at Kio. It must be understood that the huts and timber left by us on our former visit were all correct and uninjured by the natives. It must be understood that the huts and timber had been tabooed by the chief.
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April 22d. --A party of men hauled the seine, and caught a good supply of fish for the working parties. I purchased a pig, weighing 62lbs. for a few negro-heads of tobacco and two gun flints.
26th. --I left the ship with a party of men, and stores for the forest (this reduced the number left in charge of the ship to 26--men and boys). On our arrival at a settlement about four miles up the river, we found a number of natives had assembled there, for the purpose of assisting us to convey our hammocks, bags, and provisions to the forest--a distance of at least five miles. I landed on the opposite side of the river to visit the residence of two English families, who had lately come from Sydney to settle here. Their names were Parrot and Spikeman--enterprising industrious sawyers. Their intention was to cut as much timber, and saw it into plank as would load a small vessel, aud then send it to Sydney for sale. They had purchased about 40 acres of land on the borders of the river, and containing some excellent timber. I understood the whole cost about £35, given in blankets, axes, tobacco, &c. They had nearly completed building a snug little cottage on an eminence within 200 yards of, and facing the river--all, excepting the front of their dwelling, sheltered by the forest and its lofty trees. In such a wild and secluded spot resided these two families; no native hut within a quarter of a mile; seldom seeing the face of an European, except that of the missionary, who frequently visits the place to preach and instruct the natives in the neighbourhood.
No greater evidence is necessary to show the friendly disposition of the natives than the fact, that these two families have located themselves within one mile of the place where the unfortunate crew of the Boyd lost their lives. I often visited these two families, and always experienced the utmost kindness and hospitality. On one occasion I asked them if they were contented, and the answer I give as near as possible in Mr. Parrot's own words: -- "We have no reason to be dissatisfied; my wife came first to this country with the Church Mission; we have no wish to go back to Sydney, but hope, in a few years, to be enabled to return to the land of our birth. As for the natives, we find them civil and kind; they say they are glad to have Europeans living among them on account of the comforts which they have received. I can bleed, and have provided myself with a pair of lances, which I have found to be very useful. Besides, I keep a little medicine, both for my own use, and to accommodate the natives who reside near me. When I require flour, sugar, tea, or
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other necessaries from the Bay of Islands, a distance of about 30 miles, a native will go and fetch them for a little tobacco. Of pig's, potatoes, and vegetables, we have enough of our own; of pigeons and ducks I can shoot as many as we require. Fish I can purchase for a mere trifle; therefore, we cannot complain. The only thing about which I should feel alarmed is, in case of a war between the tribes; then, perhaps, we might be plundered."
After I had partaken of refreshment, I pursued my journey, accompanied by two natives--the one conveying my traps, while the other was kind enough to carry me over the streams--and soon overtook my straggling shipmates, with a number of natives, carrying their hammocks, bags, and provisions. Some of the females were loaded each with a bag of bread, weighing 112lbs., secured upon their backs with slings made of green flax. When it so happened that our men were obliged to carry a bag of bread from the store-hut to the forest, what one New Zealander could carry with ease, two seamen found load enough. On my arrival at the forest, the motley group of natives employed at the capstan, which was erected on an eminence for the purpose of heaving up the spars out of the deep ravine, would, I am sure, have drawn a smile from one more grave than myself. About 70 natives were at work, dressed in the oddest manner possible to conceive. One fellow wore a marine's old jacket, which constituted the whole of his dress. Another had on two jackets, red and blue, and his bead covered with a south-wester, which had most likely weathered many a gale; a third wore waistcoat and trowsers; a fourth a Guernsey frock; a fifth two pair of trowsers--not one over the other, however, for one pair being converted into what seamen call a jumper, his head shoved up through the crutch, and his arms put through the legs of the trowsers, which had been cut off at the knees. Although the greater part wore some article of European dress, not one had a complete suit, their own mats being very inconvenient for working. Their daily wages were about half-an-ounce of tobacco each. They went to their meals, and returned to their work with tolerable regularity.
May 5th. -- I went into the country to some of the chiefs, to endeavour to procure a supply of pigs and potatoes for the use of the ship's company, to be issued to them in lieu of salt beef, and pork; succeeded in getting several tons of potatoes and some pigs.
6th. ---On reaching the place where I expected the boat to
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be in readiness to convey me on board, it had not arrived there, but a large war-canoe, belonging to the chief Tarraha was just preparing to start for the Bay of Islands. The chieftain's wife was about to embark, and she readily consented to give me a passage to the ship. There were about 50 natives in the canoe, besides pigs, and several baskets of potatoes. On the signal being given to start, the canoe was shoved off, and was paddled through the water with amazing speed, the chief standing upon a platform in the centre, singing, and beating time with his feet, while the natives shouted a terrific chorus, applying their sinewy arms with more vigour and exertion at the end of every sentence uttered by the chief--old Tarraha's wife sitting down in the stern, smoking out of a short pipe, and seemed to enjoy the sport much.
June 4th. --Visited Hokeanga, a district of land on the western coast, with numerous forests, containing abundance of excellent timber, and the advantage of being convenient to the river, which is not only valuable for floating down the spars to the harbour, but affords every facility for manufactures by water power.
Two or three fine vessels have been built at Hokeanga-- one of them near 400 tons burthen. Many mechanics reside here; mercantile establishments have been opened; and land has been purchased from the chiefs--some of which is well cultivated by the natives, who are making rapid advances towards civilization.
The harbour has a dangerous bar, on which I understand several vessels have been wrecked. Indeed, there is reason to believe that most of the harbours on the western coast are of the same description. The latitude of Hokeanga harbour is 35.31 south, and 173.28 east longitude.
June 24th. --Our commander saluted the chiefs of the neighbourhood with eight guns, which they returned with volleys of musketry; and on the 1st of July took our departure from the East Cape of New Zealand with feelings of a far different nature from those entertained when we first observed them.
With respect to the climate, no country in the world enjoys more healthy and salubrious. Notwithstanding the very arduous nature of our service, being away in boats, subject to wet clothes and bedding, and wading and working in the fresh water streams, no sickness occurred among our seamen.
The seasons are as follow: --Spring begins in the latter
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of August; Summer in December; Autumn in March; and Winter at the end of May.
I have now given with the narrative such extracts from my Journal as I consider calculated to afford information as well as to interest the reader. In fact, the limits of my present plan would not permit me to enter into further details.
During our entire stay in the country, more than two-thirds of the ship's company were always employed on shore at a distance of from eight to twelve miles from the ship, and were never armed. Many of the natives have of late years served on board of whalers, and the small coasting vessels from Sydney; and I was once assured by the master of a vessel who had two New Zealanders serving on board, that they were the most attentive helmsmen and smartest boatmen in his ship.
Many persons imagine there is danger to be apprehended on account of their warlike habits and character; but I do not believe there need be the least alarm. I candidly affirm that there is no part of the world (and I have seen much of it) to which I would sooner emigrate than to New Zealand. The zealous, indefatigable exertion of the missionaries has done much towards their civilization. But there should be, and I earnestly hope there will be, a sincere desire on the part of the colonists to respect the rights and privileges, as well as to improve the condition of the natives--treating them on terms of perfect equality; besides, acting in a conciliatory manner towards them, for the New Zealanders by no means have deserved the ignominious character attributed to them, but, on the contrary, are a quick-sighted, intelligent, noble race.
By the latest accounts from New Zealand, we are informed (upon good authority), that the infant settlement of Wellington is thriving as well as the most sanguine expectations could lead us to anticipate, and, although it is not more than two years since the first emigrants landed on its shores, the population already amounts to 5.000 souls.
Sheep and cattle have been imported from Sydney and Hobart Town, and are said to be doing remarkably well. But, for my own part, I do not consider the country so well adapted for grazing as for agriculture; and, from the want of pasture land, some time must elapse ere grazing can be carried on to a large extent. As there is not the slightest probability of the crops ever suffering from the want of rain, the surplus corn and potatoes would at all times meet with a speedy sale in our Australian colonies, or could be given in exchange for sheep and oxen. Tins would enable the settlers of the latter country to turn more of their attention to grazing, for which the climate is best suited; while the colonists of New Zealand might more advantageously devote themselves to agriculture and the growth of flax.
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Recent accounts also state that coal has been discovered in the southern island, and also in the vicinity of Port Nicholson; but that it can be procured in large quantities remains yet to be known. If it is found to burn well, and can be obtained at a moderate expence, Port Nicholson, from its central position, cannot fail to become important as a steam boat station.