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MY DEAR -----, According to my promise, I will now endeavour to give you some account of a journey which I lately made through the most interesting part of New Zealand, with a brief description of the places visited, and some remarks on the condition of the native inhabitants. In the description which I formerly gave you of a visit to various settlements on the coasts of this colony, I requested your attention to the map of these islands, and if you will again refer to it you will find, that nearly in the centre of the Northern Island there is a great lake called, the "Taupo," from which the river "Waikato" issues, and after flowing through the country to the northward of the lake, enters the sea on the western coast about 50 miles from Auckland. Between the Taupo and the Eastern coast there are many smaller lakes which are scarcely noticed
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in the maps, for no regular survey of the interior has yet been made: they are not very remarkable for the beauty of scenery, but as the country in which they are situated is in many places in a state of volcanic action, it presents much that is wonderful to the ordinary traveller, and objects of great interest to the naturalist: indeed, a journey to the Lakes and the Waikato are already looked upon as necessary to all who desire to have an acquaintance with the nature and capabilities of the interior of this colony-- and the circuit we made will most probably become the grand tour, when facilities are given for travelling with ease and comfort. Hitherto very few Europeans have reached the "Taupo Lake," as they are unwilling to undergo the fatigue of travelling on foot, and submitting to the discomforts of such accommodations as native huts or small tents can afford. We found that walking day after day, for several weeks, was at times very wearisome. I will also freely confess that often, when seeking shelter for the night, amidst the smoke and filth of native huts, pleasing visions of snug English inns, with their cleanliness and comfort, used to come before us, and their contrast with our New Zealand fare and lodgings, afforded us matter for many jokes and humorous comparisons. This country is also far behind
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the islands of India in these respects. The New Zealander is not less hospitable than the Indian chief, but he has very different ideas as to what constitutes comfort. During our whole journey, we were never refused a share of such food and shelter as the natives had for themselves; and though we sometimes passed the night in one hut with the men and women--grandfathers, grandmothers, children, dogs and pigs--the best corner was cheerfully given up to the "pakeha" (stranger), and even there, lying altogether round the fire in the middle of the hut, and listening to their remarks and jokes, we were well amused with the study of human nature which the habits of these children of nature afforded us. But far more interesting was it to find that in such situations, and even by the fire of our encampments in the open wilderness, before wrapping themselves in their blankets for sleep, the New Testament was invariably drawn from a bag which some old man or young teacher carried, a hymn was sung, the glad tidings read with reverence, and prayer offered up to the Father of all, with as much apparent earnestness and devotion as may be observed in any little assembly of Christian worshippers. We could not but feel touched by the simple religious observances of these once savage people; and though unarmed
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and distant from any of the usual protections of life and property, we felt ourselves as secure and slept as soundly as if we had been in the midst of a fortified city.
I cannot tell how deep their religious impressions may be, but I can declare that in a journey of several weeks over a populous part of the country, I never saw morning and evening devotions omitted--I never saw the Sabbath Day desecrated by Christian natives; I saw no quarrels--no ill-treatment of each other; nor had I the smallest article stolen from me, though many things which they desire were exposed at every halting place. They are generally blamed for their avarice, and, truly, they can drive a hard bargain. We had much reason to regret the disposition which they always evinced to get as much of our money as they could for the services they rendered in conveying our baggage, but I fear they have been taught this lesson in some measure by some of our own race, who have often paid them unfairly, and cheated them in their dealings. This practice the natives have discovered, and are now always on their guard against imposition. Mistrust of Europeans, added to a natural acquisitiveness, certainly gives them in this respect a very unamiable appearance, and is, I repeat, much to be regretted, though it is very probable that their desire to possess
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property may be a means of forwarding their civilization.
Perhaps the greatest proof of the inestimable good which has been done to this people is the almost complete cessation of war amongst the various tribes who were, in days of heathen darkness, scarcely ever at peace. Almost every remarkable spot of ground is pointed to by old men as having been the scene of some terrible conflict or stealthy attack, and cold-blooded massacre, with the consequent horrors of cannibalism. Contrast such times with their present condition, and every man who has a spark of love for his fellow-creatures must admit that the Missionaries have been, indeed, messengers of glad tidings and peace to this land--once so filled with the habitations of cruelty.
Having made these few preliminary remarks, I will now proceed to the narrative of our journey, upon which we set out in the month of August 1849. At this season the weather is usually too wet and cold for travelling; but circumstances forced me to depart so early in spring, and fortunately we had not much bad weather to complain of. Mr. ----- was desirous of accompanying me, and I had much reason to congratulate myself in having an agreeable companion. Our first object was to reach "Tauironga"
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--a harbour which you will see marked in the Bay of Plenty. For this purpose we embarked on board a small vessel, and arrived there after a short and pleasant passage; on our way we passed Mercury Bay, to which Captain Cook resorted. The arrival of that great navigator is said to be remembered by an old Chief yet alive.
The entrance to the harbour of Tauranga is narrow and well marked by a high conical mount on its southern side. The sheet of water inside is very spacious, but so shoal and full of sand-banks as to render the anchorage very limited indeed. There are several villages on the shores inhabited by natives who possess some small schooners with which they maintain a coasting trade in pigs, potatoes, Indian corn and flax, with the capital. There are two Mission stations --one belonging to the Church of England, presided over by the venerable Archdeacon Brown; and the other a Roman Catholic station. Both of these stations have a pleasing appearance from the water, especially the latter, from there being a spire to the Mission chapel. The operations of the Missionaries are not confined to this locality only; but they have a district to care for, and a great extent of country to travel over during their visitations.
We were kindly received and most hospi-
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tably entertained at Tauranga, by the Archdeacon, the Rev. P. C. Davies, and their families; but we found more difficulty than we anticipated in procuring natives to carry our baggage and provisions. The demands made were so exorbitant, that Mr. Brown was so kind as to send his own men with us to the next station, rather than suffer us to submit to imposition.
I would strongly recommend intending tourists in New Zealand to provide themselves with natives at Auckland, and to hire them for the whole journey, by which means they will be spared much trouble and delay, as well as expense; for the inhabitants of native villages, if willing to go at all, do not like forming hasty engagements; and while the European traveller is fretting with impatience to move on, they lie wrapped in their blankets, and make their demands and stipulations with perfect calmness and most provoking deliberation; neither are they slow at taking advantage of the traveller's impatience or perplexity, and raise their price proportionally. But once fairly on the road, they are admirable guides and companions, (I cannot say servants) for they have no notion of such a thing. They consider themselves friends of the Pakeha, who is taken under their protection, and whose effects, consequently, they are willing to carry for a
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time, but in every way they are as independent as American citizens, and take care to show their feelings by the remarks they make on terms of the most perfect equality. Indeed the New Zealanders are complete republicans, even the highest chiefs have little direct authority, although they have considerable influence, especially where they wish to induce their tribes to do mischief. The slaves (captives or descendants of captives in war) are kept in subjection, but many of them have lately been liberated by Christian Chiefs. I was told by a Missionary that Te Wero Wero, the great chief of the Waikato, may be seen sitting by the side of the lowest slave at church or school, and answering questions from the catechism with much humility.
From Tauranga we walked along the sea-beach to Maketu, sixteen miles to the southward, and on arriving there in the evening were most kindly welcomed and entertained by the resident missionary, the Rev. Mr. Chapman. Maketu has a small river accessible to coasting craft. The village is on an eminence at the entrance, and is strongly fortified by palisades to resist musketry or assault by storm. Circumstances led the Government in 1843 to form plans for the attack of this pah or stronghold, and the officer of Royal Engineers who examined
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the place, was much astonished at the admirable skill the natives had shown in choosing their position and making the defences. A chief of the place with some of his people had made an inroad upon the cultivations of their enemies, the natives of Tauranga, and were driven off and dispersed by the latter; a young lad related to the chief of Maketu being killed or drowned in the affray. Some days after, Tongaroa the chief, who had been hiding in the woods, made his way to the beach, where he saw a small craft taking in wood and water, and solicited most earnestly to be taken on board. The Europeans kindly consented, and whilst procuring their supplies on shore had the mortification of seeing their little vessel moving off under charge of Tongaroa, who had quietly slipped the cable. The ungrateful savage made his way to Maketu, where he was joined by another chief and a party of the tribe armed and prepared to revenge the death of their young relation. For this purpose they crossed to an island near the coast, inhabited by natives of the same tribe as their enemies of Tauranga. By keeping the greater number under cover, and those on deck dressing themselves like Europeans, they succeeded in inducing the natives of the island to come alongside in a canoe, when a deadly volley was fired
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upon them by those on board the schooner. Several were killed and the dead bodies feasted upon on their return to Maketu. No efforts of the Missionary could effect the prevention of the cannibalism, and the presence of the troops at Tauranga alone induced them to give up the stolen vessel. I saw and conversed with both of the chiefs engaged in this affair. They have been very well behaved since, but are little to be trusted.
The country round Maketu is level, and the soil apparently fertile to the foot of the hills, which look as if they had once been on the sea-shore, the flat lands of Maketu resembling a great bay elevated by volcanic agency. In days to come these fertile lands may be covered with cultivation, and pleasant hamlets, nor is it too great a stretch to imagine that instead of the present dirty native pah, a bustling town may be built at the entrance of the river.
We encamped for the night on the sloping lands approaching the hills, several travelling natives joined our party, and, after prayers, continued talking as they lay by the great log fire until late in the night. We made a bed of fern in the tent, on which we spread our blankets and slept most comfortably until the dawn, when I roused the party and had a fire lighted to make coffee. The
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morning was cold but dry and clear, the most agreeable weather for travelling in. As we ascended the hills we obtained pleasing views of the lands we had passed through, and the sea with its several islands near the coast, the most remarkable of which is White Island, a volcano, from which vapour is continually ascending. We halted for breakfast by the side of a stream where we made our toilet and highly enjoyed the food for which cool air and exercise had given us an excellent appetite. After reaching the summit of a range of hills we descended through a forest to the valleys on the inland side, and in the evening reached the bank of the first lake called Roto Iti, and embarked in a canoe which our natives paddled with great swiftness across the moonlit water to our intended halting-place on the further side. The arm of the lake where we embarked looked very much like that of Loch Katrine in Scotland when it is first seen in issuing from the Trosachs Glen. Whilst passing through dense forest I found some very fine specimens of ferns, and my companion shot some large and fat wild pigeons, which are excellent eating, and as there are plenty of wild ducks on the lakes, and large prawns at the bottom, we had a pleasant prospect of good fare on our route.
Near the Roto Iti we came upon the
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encampment of an excellent old chief with his sons and followers. I had been of some service to them once at Auckland, they seemed much pleased to see me, and were ready to serve us in any way in their power. I had often occasion to be surprised at finding myself recognised by natives who had visited the capital, and of whom I had no recollection. The shores and bays of Roto Iti are steeped and well wooded. We passed the Sunday in a neat cottage built by the natives for an invalid European who had most kindly written to them to give it up for our use. This cottage was built by the side of a stream of hot water, which issued from the rocks, and being dammed up formed a delightful bathing place; we indulged very freely in the luxury which this afforded, and found ourselves all the better for the indulgence, though the effect of these baths is temporarily weakening.
From Roto Iti to Roto Rua, the second Lake, the distance is only a few miles, which we got over before breakfast. The intervening country is mostly composed of volcanic ashes and other debris, having a sterile and gloomy appearance. Midway there is a valley called Tiki Tera, where several horrible black boiling springs rise from the white-looking treacherous ground about them. Great care must be taken in ap-
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proaching these awful caldrons over the crust of earth which separates them from the surrounding country. The water is said to be highly medicinal. The first view of Roto Rua is pleasing, --a high island in the centre, forming a picturesque object, --but this lake is not otherwise very interesting in point of scenery. We passed a day or two at the Mission station, which is occupied the greater part of the year by Mr. Chapman, who first formed it amidst war and difficulties of no ordinary kind. His orchard is extensive, and produces in the season abundance of fruit. Whilst we were there, the peach-trees were in blossom, though the ground was every morning covered with hoarfrost and ice. The most remarkable object on the Roto Rua is the native village of Ohinimutu, opposite Mr. Chapman's station; we reached it by walking round the shore, for the wind was so high as to make it dangerous to cross the lake in a canoe. This singular habitation is generally shrouded by vapour, and to our great surprise we found that the ground on which the village is built was perforated everywhere with boiling water holes; in the narrow lanes between the houses we required to walk with care to avoid stepping into them. The crust of earth sounds hollow, and seems like ice after thaw, ready to give way under the feet of the
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passenger: indeed, some black posts are to be seen projecting above the water in the lake which once formed a part of the stockade of the village: yet this dangerous volcanic ground, which people in other countries avoid, is chosen by the natives for the comfort and convenience which the boiling water affords them. Almost every hut has its natural boiling caldron, in which the food is cooked, and there are several larger springs which are common to the inhabitants, and seem to be the resort of the gossips of both sexes: from these springs the boiling water is led off to small tanks lined and paved with volcanic stone, in which men, women, and children are seen at all hours enjoying the luxury of the warm bath.
In a valley on the land side of Ohinimutu there are several ponds of hot water, and numerous steaming holes and geysers. On our arrival, we inquired as usual, for the native teacher, and found Zachariah--for so he is named--a most courteous and well-bred gentleman; he gave us a house to sleep in, and potatoes to eat--but, far from looking for recompense, he actually kept out of the way when we were leaving the village; so that we supposed he was absent, but we soon perceived him in the rear kicking some dogs, and cuffing some children that were inclined to annoy us. He condescended to
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smoke one of our cigars, and we made a trifling present to his mother and another old lady, who had swept and prepared our lodging.
From Roto Rua we took our way to Lake Tarawera, a distance which is easily got over in one day. After walking for some hours through narrow valleys between hills covered with long coarse grass and fern, we came to the shores of a very pretty lake, called Okareka, and embarked in a small canoe by which we passed up the lake, and shortened the distance considerably. The shores of Okareka lake are very picturesque, and there is an island in the centre on which a native village is situated and a school-house is conspicuous. A short walk from the further end of this small lake brought us in sight of Tarawera, surrounded by high hills, and at the southern side a lofty mountain whose jagged summit and bare sides have more of sternness and grandeur than of beauty in their appearance. We walked along the right bank to the church Mission station, which is at a village on a peninsula projecting into the lake. This settlement has a very pleasing appearance as it is approached: on our arrival we met with a most kind reception from the Resident Missionary, the Rev. Mr. Spencer. The natives who had accompanied us so far, gave such a report of
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their success in exacting high pay, that when we wanted a canoe to pass up the lake next day, the demands made were most exorbitant. Mr. Spencer has been accustomed to live very independently of native assistance, and on this occasion he did not hesitate a moment to take a paddle and jump into a canoe--we followed his example, and with a solitary volunteer, an old chief, sped across the lake, and soon obtained assistance at another village. Our object was to reach a very remarkable lake called Roto Mahana, or the Hot Lake; by passing from Tarawera through a narrow strait into Areki Lake, and landing at its further end, a short walk brings the traveller to the shore of the Roto Mahana. The scenery is gloomy: but the objects of interest, for which the lake is celebrated, are wonderful and beautiful beyond description. Steam is seen issuing from numerous fissures in the hills--some terrible caldrons and a geyser are continually heaving, spouting and roaring on the eastern side--but the real wonders of this lake are two boiling springs, one on either side, which have issued from the hills at a considerable elevation, and formed ponds or lakes of boiling water. The carbonate of lime deposited by the spring has formed a crust round these fairy-like fountains, which gives them the appearance of being enormous basins of the
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purest marble. The colour which the water assumes in the basins is that of the deepest azure, most charming to gaze upon, and as it flows over the edge of the basins and pours down into the lake, it deposits its mineral substances held in solution in the form of terraces, which look like gigantic flights of marble steps to the fountains above--on one side of the lake they are of various hues, but on the other the deposit is coloured by ferruginous matter, which has given the terraces a pink or roseate appearance. Each step or terrace is about twenty feet broad, and by the falling of the water hollowed out into pools, which look like great shells lined with pearl. These pools form luxurious baths, the temperature varying with the height of the terrace. We plunged into one of them about half way up to the fountain, and could scarcely bear to leave it again, so delightful is it to swim in clear warm water, in a bath which the most gorgeous monarch might envy. We returned to the Mission station before dark, exceedingly pleased with our visit to Roto Mahana, and grateful for Mr. Spencer's guidance, without which we should most probably not have seen half its wonders; and should have left it, like other travellers who were less fortunate, with a far lower idea of the natural curiosities and beauties for which it is so justly celebrated.
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A traveller may pass several days pleasantly at Tarewera, making excursions to various pretty spots near--amongst others a waterfall or stream which issues from a neighbouring lake, and falls into Tarewera. The fall is hidden by fine trees, and the banks of the stream below it are varied and picturesque. The native owner of land near the fall, who acted as our guide, lost my pencil, at which he was greatly afflicted, and seriously offered me possession of the cascade itself as well as the wood immediately about it, as payment for his neglect.
On Sunday Mr. Spencer went to hold service in another village, and left his principal native teacher to officiate at the station chapel. He conducted the service and preached a short sermon with considerable eloquence; his voice was deep and well tuned, and the responses of his hearers were made in solemn unison. In the evening I had some conversation with the teacher and other natives as they sat on the ground near the church about the conduct of his countrymen in holding out for such exorbitant payments; and I expressed our determination to send most of our effects back to the coast, and to carry the rest on our own backs rather than submit to such imposition; his wife, a fine-looking woman, accustomed to European habits, from having lived in Mr. Spencer's
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house, was exceedingly indignant at our being detained after offering a fair payment of 2s. per diem to each man, and perhaps to her were we chiefly indebted for being able to get a party on the following morning. Our first day's journey from Tarewera was a very short one, only to Roto Kakahi, another lake about six miles off. The natives live on an island in that lake, and were very civil to us; they had abundance of muscles and a delicious tiny fish called Inanga, of which they gave us a supply. The leading men spent the evening near us talking about the reported murder of a European who lived not far off. They spoke with disgust of the horrid deed, and expressed their determination to hold a committee of chiefs for the purpose of considering the best means of bringing the supposed murderers to justice.
To us who were entering upon a wild part of the country, beyond the usual visits of the Missionaries, this news was not cheering, more particularly as a young chief came into our hut alone, and after closing the door, told us in a low voice to be on our guard, for his countrymen in the "Taupo" country were not to be trusted, and it would be a source of grief to all right-minded natives to hear afterwards that we had been either robbed or murdered. Though we were not inclined to despise his caution, yet his fears
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did not disturb our rest, for we felt assured that if any real danger of violence from the natives was to be apprehended, the good Missionaries whom we had visited would not have failed to warn us of it.
According to our custom we were on our way for "Taupo" soon after daybreak. The country we passed over was generally hilly, though our path led us through several extensive and fertile valleys, totally destitute of inhabitants; vapour was seen rising from hills and streams, one river which we crossed was quite hot, and our natives seemed to delight in every opportunity of enjoying a warm bath.
At sunset we entered an extensive valley bounded on one side by a range of steep hills, burning in many places. The natives chose the immediate vicinity of some boiling mud holes as the best place for encamping; we yielded unwillingly to their anxiety for a warm berth, though the ground on which our tent was pitched seemed to be a mere crust of earth over an incandescent substratum. Before we had finished supper it became so hot that we could not sit upon it, and made a hasty retreat to another position. The natives, however, took up our vacated ground, and next morning declared they had passed a pleasant night, sleeping comfortably without shelter, though on terra firma; there
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was a sharp frost. Soon after leaving this valley we came upon the great River Waikato, rushing on its course from Taupo to the sea. We crossed it in a small canoe, which was found on the bank, and walked by the river side until we came to a fine rapid, where we lighted our fire and enjoyed breakfast amidst wild but beautiful scenery; and then left the river for a time to pursue a nearer course towards the great Lake from which it issues. Hills, valleys, and forest seen everywhere, but no traces of inhabitants or cultivation. At length we came to a wretched hut or two by a hot spring, where we found only a few women, the men being away on some expedition; but the sight of their cheerful and friendly faces was pleasing, for we had been nearly three days without meeting any human being.
Whilst at that place a singular case of nervous affection or disease showed itself. When approaching the huts one of our natives told me not to whistle, as one of the women was ill; but with my imperfect knowledge of the language I did not, I suppose, clearly understand his meaning, nor did I think of mentioning it to my companion, who inadvertently began to whistle an air as he sat on a stone making his toilette. Instantly one of the poor women fell down in terrible convulsions, bleeding profusely at
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the nose, and had to be carried off to a retired hut, as they said she would not recover for some hours. We were excessively grieved at the circumstance, and the man who warned me did not spare his reproaches; but the other women tried to remove our concern, and the present of a little tobacco sent to the sufferer seemed to be satisfactory to all parties.
After this we reached Hapua, a small village in a wood, where we spent the night. The inhabitants were absent, but we did not hesitate to take possession of a hut for sleeping accommodation.
After leaving "Hapua" we passed some good land in a valley, the soil of which is much mixed with pumice and other volcanic debris, and made for a clearing that we saw on a forest covered range of hills. An old man and woman, who saw us coming, shouted out directions to the path through the wood, and at the same time, according to the usual custom, began to prepare food for the travellers whom they had descried at a distance.
We ascertained that the old man had a store of blankets, which he kept for sale, acting as a country agent to Petuoni, the brother of Walker, who resides near Auckland, and making his returns in pigs which are sent to the capital.
After breakfast we passed on through the
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forest, and at noon reached a pah of some size on the summit of the range, from which we got the first sight of Tongariro Mountain, towering above the clouds, and brilliantly reflecting the sunshine from its snow-covered sides and peak. The natives of this pah are Roman Catholics, and seemed inclined to take liberties with us. They insisted on our remaining there for the night; and our natives, whatever they might have felt, did not show any reluctance to comply. I therefore took one of the burdens, and prepared to get it on my back, declaring my determination to move on, whether they did or not. My companion did the same, and the natives no longer hesitated to follow-- glad, themselves, perhaps, of an excuse for leaving the most villainous-looking set that we met with on the whole journey. At sunset we saw a cloud of vapour a great way off, near to which we knew a chief, whom we desired to visit, had a temporary residence. We had walked all day, and my knee was slightly sprained, but still we pushed on, over hills, dales, and ravines, and reached Pohipi's huts about nine o'clock. He was encamped by the side of the Waikato, close to a hot spring, which formed a warm bath, within twenty yards of the cold clear water in the river.
We found Busby, or Pohipi, as he is
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called, an excellent fellow. He is chief of the country at the northern end of Taupo Lake, has considerable influence, and was most friendly to us. There being no rapids on the river from its source to where we encamped, the chief offered to conduct us on in his canoe; we set off very early, and reached the lake to breakfast. The weather was fine and the sky clear, which enabled us to see the lake and the great mountain, in all their beauty. After paddling and walking for some miles along the western shore, we ascended the hills near Pohipi's principal pah, called Jerusalem, and had a splendid view of the whole of this inland sea. The shores are unfortunately bare of trees, which gives the land a somewhat sterile appearance; but the water, the islands, and above all, the glorious mountain, form a magnificent scene. Tongariro is said to be about 10,000 feet high, and half covered with snow. The peak is conical, and appears flanked by two shoulders, which slope gradually to the base. Vapour is continually rising from the cone, and resting in a white cloud on the side of the mountain. The lake and adjacent rivers are full of floating pumice-stone-- showing that great eruptions have taken place.
The mountain is held sacred, and the natives had not hitherto permitted any one
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to ascend the peak. After having spent a delightful day, and reached the limit of our journey, we turned pur faces northward, and again arrived at Pohipi's encampment on the river before dark. The chief accompanied us on our way to the north-westward--for we were now directing our course towards the plains of the Waikato. The river itself cannot be followed, for in its mountain-course it is full of rapids.
We passed Sunday at a little village in a wooded valley. The weather was beautiful, and the rest and quiet delightful. Pohipi read prayers and preached to the assembled natives--one of whom, a female, spoke English. She had visited Sydney, and travelled about with an English captain, but returned in her old age to her own people. One of the natives who came with us from Tarewera found an old female relation at this place, and as they had not met for a long period their greetings were most vociferous, if not affecting. To our habits, although a burst of tears at meeting, after long absence, frequently testifies deep feelings of joy, yet a prolonged howling and weeping seems a most strange mode of welcoming a friend; such, however, is the way the New Zealanders show their love--spending a considerable time in weeping and lamentation before they shake hands and rub noses, a ceremony
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which follows the "tangi" or crying above mentioned.
On Monday we left the little valley; and this time, without succeeding in engaging the services of another native to supply the place of one who left us at Taupo. No less a sum than ten shillings a day was asked, and of course refused. There was nothing for it but to carry a part of our luggage ourselves, and we shouldered our packs accordingly. Our friend Pohipi seemed very much concerned about it; but even he was not free from the avaricious disposition of his race. The first day we passed through the valleys of a hilly country, and reached a village on a hill, called Hapotia, where we spent the night; and the following day continued on over a land that possessed little interest. The soil seemed poor--it is destitute of people, and will not likely be resorted to by the descendants of Europeans until the rich slopes and valleys further north are crowded with inhabitants.
The weight of our burdens began to tell upon our backs and limbs; walking was no longer a pleasure but a toil; and rest in the tent which we pitched at sunset by the side of a stream in the desert, was an inexpressible relief. This night the rain began to fall, and the next day it blew a gale and rained in torrents; to stay in a dripping tent would
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have been folly; we therefore set out soon after dawn, and kept steadily on through wind and rain for many a weary mile. The road was this day so hilly and steep as to oblige us at times to creep up in the mud on all fours, and slide down on the other side as we best could. Sometimes we crossed mountain-streams, rushing on among steep rocks to feed the rivers of the plains; and for several hours treaded our way through a tangled and dense forest, without meeting a living soul to vary the monotony of the desert path--with which the natives, as well as ourselves, were perfectly unacquainted. Towards evening we came upon an empty hut and a small clearing, which led us to believe that the native village to which we were journeying was not far distant.
Mr. ----- could go no further, but as our food was nearly all exhausted and an hour of daylight left, I determined to push on, and one of the natives was willing to accompany me. At dark, however, we were still in the middle of a forest. The native advised our lying down till morning, but as I had no inclination for a forest bed in a rainy night, I insisted upon his moving onward. We frequently lost the path, but he pierced the forest manfully, and I kept fast hold of him, lest we should be parted in the black darkness of that tangled wood; he fre-
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quently sat down, and refused to go further, but I would not let him alone; and about nine o'clock our perseverance was rewarded by finding ourselves close to the stockade of the large village of Arowhena. My bed was a hard one that night, but extreme fatigue made me sleep soundly in the smoky hut where the Teacher allowed me to rest.
Early on the following day I sent some supplies to the party in the forest, but as I was most anxious to reach the plains which now were seen stretching away to the northward, in order to make arrangements for descending the river, I pushed on alone. The native who had come so far was too tired to proceed, and the others, as before, made enormous charges, which I continued to resist. Arowhena stands on the highest point of the range of hills which bound the plains of the Waikato and other rivers. Between that village and Taupo, as I have already mentioned, the appearance of the country is very unfavourable, but from thence to the northward it assumes a most fertile and even beautiful appearance. My path led down the slopes of the hills to the flat and undulating country below, watered by many streams, encircled by many woods, and enlivened by the smoke of many villages. I was so weary with my burden and foot-sore with long walking, that when I stopped to
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rest I could scarcely rise again; yet I enjoyed greatly the cheering prospect before me. Being short of provisions, I gladly accepted some roasted potatoes from an old woman who kindly asked me into her wretched hovel on the way-side. In the evening I reached a large village where I was told that a European resided. The native men, who crowded round me, to ask questions, offered to show me his dwelling, but took no notice of my tired condition; a woman, however, true to the nature of her sex all over the world, saw at a glance that I was weary, and upbraided them for not taking my burden, of which I was then immediately relieved. The European, Mr. Perry, received me with much hospitality, and gave me all the comfort which his cottage could afford. After a sound sleep I felt much restored, but my feet were so swollen as to prevent my walking any further. Mr. Perry therefore kindly lent me his horse, by which means I soon reached the Church Mission station of the district, and met with a cordial welcome from the Rev. John Morgan. That station--Otawhao--is in the midst of a very populous part of New Zealand, for the level country is extensive; and several rivers which take their rise in the hills, pass near it on their course to the sea. The Thames flows to the northward and enters the Gulf of Hauraki,
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about 30 miles to the eastward of Auckland. The Waipa joins the Waikato, which, as I before mentioned, falls into the sea, on the western coast. The land on the banks of these rivers is generally level and fertile, and of sufficient extent to afford support to a very great population. As they can be easily reached from Auckland, there might be a gradual spreading of colonization by means of these navigable rivers. At present many native villages and cultivations are to be seen; but far the greater portion of this fine country lies waste. I doubt not but the time will come when towns, villages, and farms will give life to the present dull scenery; and instead of the log canoe, by which all passengers are now conveyed on the rivers, smart steam-boats may connect the settlements with each other, and carry communications from Auckland to the heart of the country in a few days. Judging from what has been done in other lands, such ideas are not unreasonable. But though almost certain to arrive, these changes, in a land so distant from the Mother-country, cannot take place very rapidly: and I could not avoid a feeling of melancholy in the thought, that none of the present generation are likely to see the realization of the picture which the imagination is apt to form at every remarkable point of view.
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By far the most interesting of the native settlements in the Waikato country is that of Rangiawhia, near Otawhao, the Church Mission station. I rode over there, and to my great surprise saw from an eminence several hundred acres under cultivation. The wheat which they have lately begun to plant was then just above ground, and gave such a green appearance to the land that it seemed like a fine English estate laid down in grass. Clumps of tall trees, remains of the forest, have been left in many places, and the native cottages and chapels on the rising grounds with fruit-trees about them have quite a picturesque appearance. They are leaving off the spade and hoe, and using a plough and horses, of which they have seen the advantage--the Governor having sent a team and a European to teach them its use. They have a good flour mill, which I found at work grinding the last year's wheat for the Auckland market, and they are very busy taking in more waste land for further cultivation. I was scarcely prepared to see so pleasing a scene of industry and improvement, chiefly owing to the benevolent and unwearied exertions of the Missionary, Mr. Morgan. The natives see very clearly the benefits they derive from industry, and their example is being followed by other tribes on the rivers, who are saving the money
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that their pigs and potatoes sell for at Auckland, to purchase flour mills, several of which are now in progress of erection. Mr. Morgan is at this time striving to excite them to improve their houses and style of living, as well as their fields, and also endeavouring to establish a school for half-caste children, many of whom are living with their native mothers, or as neglected orphans in the villages.
From Otawhao we passed over a few miles of level country to the river Waipa, which we crossed, and endeavoured to reach a Wesleyan Mission station by walking along the left bank: but our guides mistook the way. At sunset it began to rain heavily, and after crossing several swamps and ravines, we finally reached the station--wet, cold, and weary, just as the family were about to retire to rest. Unseasonable as was the hour, on a Saturday night, we were most hospitably received; and during our stay there, the utmost kindness and attention were shown us by the Rev. Mr. Buttle and his family. The native congregation at the chapel on Sunday was not very numerous, as the upper part of the Waipa, near the hills, is not so populous as the country nearer the Waikato. Our course had led us hitherto through parts of the country chiefly under the influence of Church of
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England and Romanist Missionaries; but though coming later into the field than their brethren of the Episcopal Church, the Wesleyan Missionaries have had their full share in promoting the good work that has been effected. Their stations occupy the western side of the Northern Island from Hokianga to Wanganui, and also part of the Middle Island. The efforts of the Missionaries of all denominations are not only directed to the conversion of the natives to Christianity, but also to the general training of the young --for which purpose several excellent schools have been established, which are aided by grants from the Colonial Treasury. As the New Zealanders are in habits of industry, aptitude to acquire a knowledge of European arts, and fondness for agriculture, different from most of the aboriginal inhabitants of other lands who have disappeared before the colonising progress of our race, it may be hoped that the noble efforts which are being made in their behalf may prove successful in completely civilizing them, and turning the force of character and intellect which they possess to perfecting a knowledge of such occupations as may render them serviceable to the colonists, who will value and cherish them in proportion to their usefulness. The progress they have made of late years is already felt, for they help to a considerable
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extent to supply the markets with flour, potatoes, and other vegetables, and aid the settlers in all the business of the farm. They are also employed as masons and labourers on public works and roads, near Auckland and Wellington.
The banks of the Waipa are extremely fertile, though not very picturesque. The scenery at the meeting of its waters with those of the Waikato is very beautiful; and a vast extent of good land can be seen from any eminence. We called at the Church Mission station, Kaitotahi, on our way down the river, and were most kindly received by Mrs. Ashwell--her husband being absent with a tribe who had gone on a warlike expedition across the country. On such (now rare) occasions, the Missionaries generally accompany their people, in the hope of making peace; and as Mr. Ashwell returned before we left, we learned that he had been successful on this occasion. The opposing tribe, with whom a dispute about land had arisen, were also accompanied to the place of meeting by their Missionary, a Wesleyan, and by the joint efforts of these two gentlemen and an officer in the service of Government, who had opportunely arrived, two bodies of armed New Zealanders were induced to lay aside their weapons, and refer the settlement of the dispute to the
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Governor-in-Chief, in whom they have perfect confidence. I have mentioned this incident to show you how tenacious the New Zealanders are of any interference with the possession of their so-called waste lands; and yet how amenable to the counsels of those whom they know to be their friends. The tribes of Waikato, numbering several thousand men, took no part in the wars which agitated the northern and southern parts of the colony, and their leaders would be more likely to follow Walker's example than to take part with any turbulent chiefs of their own race: yet those who have studied their character are of opinion that if any overt act of injustice were to be put in force against them they would rise as one man in defence of their rights. It has been seen that when their fierce passions are aroused by warfare, they rapidly return to savage practices--and who can tell what might be the end of a contention, in which the whole people would be engaged? It is much to be feared that the goodly, but still fragile, fabric which the Missionaries have reared, by much patient labour and devotedness, would crumble to the dust, and the light which now beams upon this land and its people--filling us with hope for the future --would be extinguished in heathen darkness and in blood.
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We ascended a high wooded hill, which forms a very picturesque object on the one side of the river opposite Mr. Ashwell's neat cottage. From its summit we obtained a fine view of the winding river and the adjacent country, up and down its course. The scene was something like that of the Rhine, viewed from the Drachenfels, but wanting the towns, fields, and vineyards, which adorn that beautiful stream. We could also see many small lakes, not far back from the river's banks on either side; but the absence of cultivation and of woods gives this part of the country a dull and unpromising appearance. Lower down the stream the banks are thickly wooded, and as palms and other graceful trees hang over the water, the scenery has a rich and even oriental aspect. We passed a night in a hut on the river side --and the moonlight on the water, trees, and islands, added a charm to the natural beauty of the scene: though I must confess that certain reminiscences of comfortable hotels and good cheer on the banks of the Rhine, or the luxuries of accommodation-boats on the Ganges, came over my mind in striking contrast with the rude and primitive style of living and travelling on the Waikato. The nearest point of the river to Auckland leaves a distance of about 40 miles to be travelled over land; part of the way is through a
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forest, and the path being often trodden by natives, and with their pigs, on their way to the capital, is after rain the worst that can be imagined--a continuous slough of deep mud, mixed with slippery roots of trees. We however made the best of it; and, by evening of the day we left the canoe, we had immerged from the forest and encamped on the slope of the hills, with a fine prospect of extensive open plains and the broad estuary of the Manukau between us and Auckland, the peak of Rangitota Island, which marks the entrance of the harbour, being distinctly visible in the distance.
At dawn we were astir, being desirous of reaching town that day. The weather was beautiful, and the country over which we travelled gave promise of abundant scope for settlers within a moderate distance of the seat of Government. Indeed, it is much to be regretted that so very few Europeans are located in that district. The available country is approachable also by creeks of the Manukau; and lower down, an extensive arm of that estuary runs inland within a few miles of the Waikato, leaving only a mile and a half of portage to a creek of that river; by this means goods and passengers are conveyed with ease from Auckland to the interior. On one occasion, when I visited the Mission station, under the care of the Rev. R.
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Maunsell--where there is an excellent school for native boys--near the entrance of the Waikato, I reached the town, on my return, in less than 24 hours. On that occasion I was aided with a horse over the land part of the journey, and have the pleasure to remember that the use of the animal, together with a guide, were freely offered to me by the native chief and Teacher, named Paul, living in a village near the head of the Waiuku, and for which he would not take any return; as he did not know me, such a disinterested act of kindness said much for his liberality. There is indeed a feeling of the greatest delight left on our minds at the remembrance of the kindness and hospitality we constantly met with on our journey from the Missionaries and from the few European settlers that we had opportunities of visiting, as well as from the native chiefs and people for whose welfare every one who has seen them in their own country must feel a deep interest.
R. CLAY, PRINTER, BREAD STREET HILL.