[Image of page 9]
[Pages 5-8?? not found]
LEGENDARY AND TRADITIONARY HISTORY.
THE early native history, as may be imagined, is entirely traditionary, the art of writing having been unknown to the New Zealanders until introduced by Europeans.
The legend of the origin of the North Island is as follows:--
Maui with his wife were in a canoe fishing, and the line, on one occasion, being pulled in with difficulty, he found that the hook had attached itself to a huge and wonderful fish; and when he had succeeded in drawing it up to the surface, he leaped from his canoe on to the newly-caught monster, exclaiming to his wife, "Whenua," (land)--thus was the North Island fished up from the ocean.
As may be supposed, cross-examination fails to elicit satisfactory answers to the questions:-- Where did the tree grow out of which Maui's canoe was made, before the land was formed? Where did he get his fishing line? How had he previously subsisted? The replies being, "Don't know."
Nevertheless, the North Island has no other name than Te ika a Maui--the fish of Maui.
The Middle Island, from the circumstance of the Jade being found there, of which the choice native war weapon used by the chiefs is made, is called Te Wahi Pounamu--the place of the Pounamu.
[Image of page 10]
The sea is called Te Moana, in which word we may detect an attempt to depict the sound of its well-known hollow moan, as it rolls up on to their extensive sandy beaches. The sun is supposed to go down behind the sea, and run through a hole back again at night, returning through the air during the day.
The New Zealanders deny that their forefathers were cannibals, and assert that it is only within the last few generations that the fierce spirit of war has seized them; and cannibalism arose partly from their being occasionally driven to extremities by hunger, and partly from the idea that by feeding upon the killed enemy the eater would become possessed of the personal strength and bravery of the deceased; and revenge, payment, compensation, "utu," as it was termed, being the absorbing principle of honour, it came to pass that the friend or child of a person slain in fight would cherish the feeling for many years, until some favourable opportunity occurred, when he could avenge his friend or father's death.
One chief, in speaking of a certain district, told the writer that he knew it well. "There," said he, "we had a fight, and I ate such a chief's eyes."
"What quarrel had you with that individual, or with his tribe?"
"None, personally, but he had killed my father when I was a child."
The natives also state that the islands were once more populous than at the present time, and refer to the numerous deserted pahs, or native forts, in support of the statement, but I doubt whether New Zealand was ever much more populous than it was thirty years ago; since that time, for reasons which will be hereafter assigned, the native population has decreased. The number is variously estimated, being a mere conjecture, no attempt at a census, that I am aware of, having been made.
I should myself estimate the native population at from 80,000 to 100,000 souls.
When visited by Cook, the islands were entirely des-
[Image of page 11]
titute of animals, except a dog and a rat; these probably being the descendants of some which absconded from the earlier ships; the people, therefore, have had no inducement to wander in search of sustenance by hunting, but have always resided in villages, building small huts of rushes, and cultivating kumeras (sweet potatoes), and, when the soil became exhausted, moving to another part of the same valley, allowing the previously cultivated portion to lie in fallow for several years. Each tribe would also plant small quantities of these vegetables, &c., in convenient little nooks near the sea-beach, or by the river side, so that in the proper fishing season the trouble of carriage might be saved.
The tribes consist of a somewhat indefinite mixture of chiefs, free men, and slaves, the last of whom were made to do the greater portion of the labour, and in battles were placed in front, the chiefs fearing they might otherwise run away, or probably avenge upon their own chiefs some pent-up grievance or offence.
The land, for the most part, is held by a kind of corporate tenure, and when sold, the veriest slave receives some share of the price, if only a piece of tobacco.
I am not aware of a single inch of ground having been discovered which was not the recognised property of an individual, or of some tribe in common.
EARLY RELATIONS WITH EUROPEANS.
The Dutch navigator, Tasman, appears to have been the first who discovered these Islands, and the names, "New Zealand" and "Cape Maria Van Diemen," are evidences of his visit; but, beyond these mere names, few particulars are on record; nor was he aware that the land he discovered was part of an island belonging to a group.
To Captain Cook belongs the honour of definitely fixing the extent of these islands, and becoming acquainted with the inhabitants and productions. His visits are recollected with gratitude by all, and it is extremely pleasing to hear them talk of Peni Kuki (Capt. Cook), who came in the thing their fathers
[Image of page 12]
imagined at first was a huge bird flying on the sea--the sails being mistaken for its suitably vast wings.
To Cook they attribute the introduction of pigs, potatoes, goats, poultry, the cabbage, and the knowledge of the use of iron instruments; and throughout the land his name is mentioned with affectionate remembrance as their greatest benefactor--as one who was ever kind to them, and never took advantage of their ignorance and helplessness against his fire-arms.
I may here remark that the native name for a ship is Kai-puke--"Hill of food;" whether from the large stores they saw on board Cook's vessels, or from the advent of new supplies of food in the shape of pigs, &c., which he left with them, I know not, but it is nevertheless a fact.
Illustrative of the lasting impression which a comparatively trifling circumstance may make at the beginning of the intercourse of civilized with barbarous people, I may remark that Captain Marion, an early French navigator, having had some cause of dissatisfaction with the natives of the harbour wherein his ship was at anchor, took rather severe retribution, by destroying several villages on the coast, and killing the inhabitants. He intended to inspire them with a sense of French power, and he succeeded; but, at the same time, he taught hatred, and to this day intense dislike is manifested to the Mareaus or Wiwis, the name given to the French, from their frequent utterance of the words, Oui, oui.
After the settlement of New South Wales was formed, English vessels occasionally called at New Zealand on their way home from that colony, and the account of the massacre of the crew of the Boyd gave to Englishmen a horrible notion of the savage character of the natives.
One old Wangaroa chief communicated to the writer his version of the occurrence, and it was thus: "On board the ship were nails, and axes, and iron articles, great prizes to us, and some of our people took them. We now know how wrong you consider it to steal, but we did not understand then; our people saw the iron
[Image of page 13]
articles in abundance; they wanted the nails, &c., and took them. The captain purposing (as I now suppose) to intimidate us, seized two of our chiefs and chained them on board. You are now aware that our chiefs are sacred in our eyes, and as we could not allow them to suffer these indignities, and, moreover, thought the captain intended to kill them, we resolved to murder the English and release our chiefs, --it was a sad mistake, from kuwaretanga (ignorance) on both sides."
Whaling vessels frequenting the Pacific began to call, in order to obtain water, and such fresh provisions as pigs, potatoes, pumpkins, &c., so desirable and necessary in their long cruises; and the Bay of Islands being a well-sheltered harbour, and easy of access, became the favourite place of resort, until at last two hunderd vessels have been known to visit the Bay in one year.
Guns, powder, blankets, clothing of all kinds, and ardent spirits, were thus introduced, and the Bay natives became rich in European goods; unhappily, demoralization resulted from this abundant intercourse with English vessels, and with the good came much evil.
Diseases previously unknown were introduced, and the sad effects of intoxicating habits were too common. Moreover, in a moist climate, it must be apparent that exposure to wet is calculated to induce certain classes of diseases. Before the introduction of European clothes they were accustomed, when wet, to throw off every garment and dry themselves, but since that period, in spite of every warning, the natives, when thoroughly drenched, will stand over the fires in their huts until perfectly dry; hence the frequency of pulmonary complaints amongst them, and, from the causes named, a decrease of population.
Captains and mates of whalers and trading vessels from New South Wales, who had been to the place for supplies, particularly in seasons of drought in the Australian colony, became enamoured with the wild romantic freedom of the land contrasted with the
[Image of page 14]
stringent formal regulations of the convict colony; there was a charm connected with the idea of being regarded as a little king amongst a tribe; there was mildness of climate, surpassing beauty of scenery, and noble rivers sweeping through thickly-timbered forests, interspersed with lovely fern valleys, whose rich soil, unvisited by drought, brought forth abundantly.
Seamen also thought it would be an easy, merry life to dwell where tobacco and grog were untaxed and enticingly cheap, being easily obtainable in any quantity by top-sawing if an experienced hand, and bottom sawing until he had learnt the mystery.
Thus the one class, retiring masters of vessels, opened stores, where the natives obtained whatever European articles they desired,-- for which they exchanged agricultural produce; and from these storekeepers, shipmasters visiting the Bay procured provisions and other stores of which they might be in need; the other class, the seamen, set up grog shops for the accommodation of Jack ashore, and so Kororareka became a little British town.
Others located themselves near to the native villages a proceeding always encouraged by the chiefs, because they reasoned, that wherever a white man went, thither would follow white men's goods, and to obtain these was their great anxiety. The foreign trade, if I may so term it, they left to the superior arrangements of the Europeans, but every tribe was particularly anxious to secure the near residence of a pakeha, or white man, for the reason stated. Hence they readily parted with a plot of land for the white man's house and farm; in the first instance no cause existed to limit his purchases, for there was abundance for all, and, as may be supposed, the payments for land were not large; and what was it worth thirty years ago? Moreover, the settlers who first purchased land in New Zealand had come from the colony of New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land where the land was then being given away by the Government; consequently their idea of the value of land was not very excessive. The settlers agreed to pay whatever the natives demanded;-- it was unoccupied,
[Image of page 15]
and just as a Canadian clearing increases the value of the adjacent lands, so the presence of an European increased the value of the property unsold, for he opened a near market for its produce.
Verily, the sweeping accusation as to land-jobbing comes with an ill-grace from Government, who, at the very moment when these properties were being bought, were giving away land in other colonies, and who, as I shall subsequently show, have since proposed to assume the proprietorship of those very unoccupied lands without any payment at all.
As whales were observed to frequent the coasts of New Zealand, the merchants of New South Wales established whaling stations in the neighbourhood of Cook's and Foveaux's Straits, and in those, bays to which the whales were noticed to resort. Thus, a large shore population became temporarily located at various points.
That worthy, eccentric clergyman, the Rev. S. Marsden, whose name will pass down the stream of time with the early history of New South Wales, planned a mission to New Zealand, which he personally visited to found, and by degrees the Church Missionary influence became great, and their establishment at Paihia, on the Bay of Islands, and at the Waimate, the latter midway between the Bay and Hokianga, led to the introduction, cultivation, and extensive growth of the vine, watermelons, peaches, apples, and various vegetables; and, by the same means, cattle and horses, goats, sheep, and fowls, ducks and geese, became more generally known to and largely acquired by the natives, and, from the genial character of the climate, thrived amazingly.
A notable character in the early history of New Zealand, the Baron de Thierry, now appears on the stage. He states that he gave a Church of England clergyman a large sum of money, many years ago, to purchase land in New Zealand, and that from this agent he received deeds, setting forth the boundaries of a large district, therein represented to have been sold to the Baron by the natives.
Some years after this purchase, the very idea of which
[Image of page 16]
the natives ignore (the only instance of such a denial, the Baron, who had been residing in the Marquesas Islands, of one of which he assumed the title of king, but, from disagreement with his subjects, thought it advisable to retire to Sydney, announced his intention of visiting New Zealand, to take possession of his land.
Accompanied by some sixty followers, he sailed from Sydney in a small vessel, and landed on the shores of the Hokianga, of which district he claimed to be the sovereign chief. The long expected French men-of-war to support his authority, not making their appearance and his staff dwindling away as his means became exhausted, Charles, Baron de Thierry in France, King of Nukuhiva, Marquesas, and Sovereign Chief of Hokianga, New Zealand, whose advent had caused much commotion, ceased to-
"Fright the isle from its propriety."
In the year 1839, the New Zealand Company sent out their first ship, the Tory, under the direction of Colonel Wakefield, to purchase land, &c. He visited successively Hokianga, where the Company had purchased one or two small properties; Kaipara, where the natives refused to sell any land at all; and then sailed southward, where he effected a large purchase of land on the shores of Cook's straits, and formed the present settlement of Wellington.
All these various interests (each party being perfectly independent, and owing no allegiance to the others) being thus located in the land, it requires but little consideration to foresee that unpleasant complications would follow. Collisions between native tribes, between natives and Europeans, and amongst Europeans themselves were already threatening, and would doubtless have soon taken large dimensions, but for the authoritative colonization by the government. I will name but one or two circumstances in proof of the disorganization which existed.
It was a customary matter, and quite expected, that several men of every crew would abscond, leaving the
[Image of page 17]
ship so short of hands that the commander could not put to sea when laden. When a ship had taken her cargo on board, the haunts of the runaways being ascertained by native information, two or three captains, with their officers, would assemble, well-armed, and joining their forces and taking the law into their own hands, would unexpectedly, at night, visit the houses of the sawyers with whom these runaways generally found a hiding place, and threaten that unless the men were delivered up, the house should be broken into (which was sometimes done), and as many of the men as could thus be recovered were brought back to the ship, and as soon as sufficient were obtained to enable the vessel to go to sea with the slightest degree of safety, the commander would get away with all speed.
Frequently, when half-way from the colony of New South Wales, an escaped, starving convict, would be found in the hold of a vessel, determined at all risks to make his way to that traditional Paradise of the condemned, New Zealand. What was a captain to do? It would only have been troublesome and expensive to have kept these men until they could have been thanklessly delivered to the authorities in England, and to put back would not be profitable, so they were generally made to work during the passage, and part of the time in port; they then disappeared by the aid of the sawyers, some of whom were always ready to lend their friendly assistance for such an escape.
The writer observed one morning a party of forty armed Europeans rowing up the Hokianga, and, while wondering as to the object of the expedition, noticed them deliberately break into a timber dock, and steal therefrom timber logs and spars to the value of more than £200, for which atrocity no redress, no investigation by the government, could ever be obtained.
I think we may fairly term this the period of "irregular settlement," when everyone did as he liked in his own eyes.
The distribution of letters was on rather an unique principle. The only recognised Postmaster was a mer-
[Image of page 18]
chant at the Bay Islands, and his was an altogether honorary position. Whenever, on the arrival of a vessel he found on opening the bag that there were seven letters for any district within one or two days journey he would enclose them to the principal resident missionary, who would pay the native bearer, generally with a striped shirt and some tobacco; and the letters being arranged in a row on the mantel-shelf, the addresses would be accessible for the perusal of all chance visitors. Any one happening to call, would say, I am going near to such a person, and will take his letters thus by slow filtrations did letters and newspapers reach their destination. The writer had one letter delivered to him two years and a week old,
To put an end to the anomalous condition of matters we have referred to, the British Government resolved to establish a Crown colony, and to Captain Hobson, who had previously visited New Zealand as commander of one of Her Majesty's ships, was entrusted the delicate mission of treating with the native chiefs for the cession of that independence which had been acknowledged by Great Britain, in consequence of a representation made by some chiefs who, in 1835, had entered into a confederacy by and with the advice and consent of Her Majesty's Resident.
Captain Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands in January, 1840, and immediately issued three proclamations, with only one of which are we at present concerned.
After the preamble, the proclamation in question goes on to say, "Her Majesty does not deem it expedient to recognize any titles to land in New Zealand, which are not derived from or confirmed by Her Majesty; but, in order to dispel any apprehension that it is intended to dispossess the owners of any land acquired on equitable conditions, &c., a commission shall be appointed to inquire into and report on all claims to such lands."
The agreement known as the "Waitangi Treaty was
[Image of page 19]
subsequently entered into, its principal points being the recognition by the English Government of the "full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates; forests, fisheries, and other properties which the natives may collectively or individually possess;" on the other hand, the natives ceded to Her Majesty "all the rights and powers of sovereignty over their territories," and became British subjects.
From this period the difficulties of the unfortunate emigrants commenced. Rich men seldom emigrate. The emigrant classes are persons of no means at all, or persons of small resources, who leave their native land to improve their circumstances.
Picture to yourselves the condition of these wanderers, to whom a parental Government assumed this position --You shall not buy land from the native owners; that privilege we reserve to ourselves. You cannot buy from the white population or from the Hew Zealand Company with safety, because their titles may not eventually prove sound, according to our views. And as we, the Government, have as yet no land of our own, you must wait until we have purchased from the natives and are in a position to sell. Hence neither old settlers nor new comers were encouraged to commence working the land, for, after the examination of the titles, their labour might prove to have been in vain; they, therefore, passed their time in restless, anxious expectation, their energies paralysed, their small substance dwindling, until at length, owing chiefly to these absurd regulations, the colony became so distressed that Government debentures were issued for such paltry sums as 10s. and 5s. Surely we need no other proof of the low ebb to which the colony had become reduced.
When the Government was at length in a position to offer land, it was put up in small quantities to auction, on which occasions the officials and a few speculators did much injury to the lasting interests of the colony. True, by this system the price realised was high, and the amount paid into the Government coffers compara-
[Image of page 20]
tively large, but this was at the expense of a serious diminution of the means of the poorer settlers, who, when they had acquired their dear land, could only send their produce to the same market as the natives, whose land had cost them nothing.
The policy of extracting as much as possible from the newly arrived, for their small plots of land, and leaving them without capital to work with, was suicidal, as the result too sadly proved. Some left the country, but, with the pertinacity of Englishmen, many remained in the land of their adoption, hoping for brighter days. They exported wood, oil, salt pork, maize, and corn to Sydney, and spars for masts (ordinary house timber not paying the high freight), as well as wool and gum to England, and thus raised a credit for themselves.
At length the gold fever broke out in Australia, where agricultural operations were for a time comparatively neglected. Then New Zealand developed its amazing productive powers, and wheat, maize, potatoes, and timber were largely exported to the Australian colonies.
In addition, the colonists turned their earnest attention to breeding sheep, and New Zealand wool is now becoming a large article of export to England, and this antipodal Britain, like its mother, will build its early foundations on the woolsack.
The climate of New Zealand is, on the whole, I believe, superior to all others in the world; perhaps I may rank Van Diemen's Land as its equal; for admitting, what I suppose will not be denied, that a moderate temperature is of vast importance in the acquisition and preservation of health, surely, if the maximum and minimum of such moderate temperature are arrived at by slow gradual changes, we have in that circumstance the most favourable element of health, so far as the atmosphere is concerned in securing that great blessing.
Some of the southern countries of Europe have a
[Image of page 21]
mean annual temperature equally as high as New Zealand, but there is this important fact to be borne in mind, that whereas in the south of Europe the heat in summer prevents out-door labour during several hours of the day, and the winters are comparatively cold, in New Zealand the difference of temperature between the winter and summer months is very limited. Thus the mean temperature of the hottest month of the year in Auckland is 67 1/2 deg., and of the coldest month 51 1/2 deg. In London the mean of the hottest month is 64 deg., and the coldest 37 deg., --in the one case a difference of 16 deg., in the other of 27 deg. These differences will be more apparent from the following comparative tables:--
MONTHLY MEAN TEMPERATURE.
(From other observations.)
MONTHLY MEAN TEMPERATURE.
[Image of page 22]
Doubtless, this equality of temperature is in a great measure owing to the insular character of the colony.
The heat of the sun no sooner raises the temperature of the land, and, in consequence, that of the superincumbent air, than the air on the surface of the land rises, and the air from the sea rushes in to supply its place; thus, a refreshing sea breeze is experienced from morning until afternoon or evening, when the land breeze commences, and generally lasts through the night, until a short time after sunrise.
Northerly winds are damp, being charged with moisture; southerly winds bring dry weather.
New Zealand is remarkably free from diseases, complaints of the eye being the only exception, and of this class there are more frequent cases than in England.
Another remarkable peculiarity consequent upon its climate is the fact, that potatoes and maize flourish side by side in New Zealand, contrary to the ordinary condition of vegetation in Europe, where maize will not ripen in the same circumstances as enable potatoes to become perfect. In our own country, for instance, maize has not been, and therefore, I presume, cannot be successfully cultivated, and potatoes are largely grown. In the south of Europe the potato ceases to be generally cultivated, but maize flourishes.
Erom Van Diemen's Land potatoes are largely exported to the other colonies of Australia, to Sydney particularly, but maize itself is uncertain. On the other hand, maize is extensively cultivated, and with certainty in New South Wales, making excellent food for horses, poultry, and pigs, but potatoes do not succeed so well. In New Zealand they are much prized by the natives, who have large plantations of both vegetables, and a cob of young corn slightly roasted, or boiled and served with butter, is a dish not to be despised.
New Zealand is situated about 1,200 miles to the eastward of the great Australian continent, and consists of three principal islands, the North, Middle, and South
[Image of page 23]
Island, with several smaller islets; the extreme length being about 1,000 miles, and the width varying from a few miles to 250 miles.
A range of lofty mountains extends throughout the length of both the North and Middle Islands, projecting occasional spurs out to the coast, thus giving rise to every variety of scenery; rivers, mountains, and valleys, dense forests and fern plains, silvery beaches, and bold bluffs. The summits of some of these mountains are crowned with perpetual snow, as Mount Egmont in the North island, which rises about 8,600 feet above the sea level; and there are several quite as high in the Middle island.
New Zealand may be properly termed a volcanic country, many of the principal mountains being extinct volcanoes. From Wangaroa, which bears strong marks of volcanic action, passing onwards through the neighbourhood of the Bay of Islands, we come to Auckland, which is situated at the base of an ancient volcano, Mount Eden, the lava or scoria from which is employed as metal for the roads, and as a building material. Starting again from White or Sulphur Island and Whale Island, which are still in action, we pass on to Lake Rotorua, and through the country to Lake Taupo, and thence to Wellington; mud-pools, sulphur and boiling springs abound, and by exposure in some of these, articles may be rapidly silicified.
This part of New Zealand (the province of Wellington) has also been recently subjected to the shocks of two earthquakes; one in October, 1848, and the second in January, 1855, when the ships in the harbour of Wellington appeared to those on board as though grating over a rough bottom, and the houses swayed to and fro; however, as few brick-built houses had been erected since the disastrous earthquake in 1848, less damage was done than might have been expected. Other parts of the colony were but slightly affected, and the shock was not felt at all in the province of Auckland.
No country of the same extent as the colony of New
[Image of page 24]
Zealand possesses an equal, or in any way approaching, amount of water communication; a glance at the map will suffice to show this fact.
If we commence at the northern point, there is the Hokianga, with its six or seven streamlets running 40 miles up into the country, and navigable 25 miles for ships of 800 or 900 tons. This is a thickly-timbered district.
The Kaipara estuary, into which four rivers discharge their waters--the Wairoa, Otamatea, Oruawhara, and Kaipara--also heavily timbered.
The Manukau, into which a better channel has recently been discovered, and, from its proximity to Auckland, promising from its position to be the metropolitan port for the west coast.
The Waikato River, a beautiful stream running through a very fertile district, almost to the great lake Taupo.
Below this is Kawhia, navigable for vessels of 200 tons; and still more to the south is the small stream Wai-te-ra and the romantic Wanganui, at the mouth of which is Petre. The noble Wanganui, whose origin is at Tongariro, 10,000 feet high, flows in many places through volcanic fissures several hundred feet in perpendicular height.
Next is Port Nicholson, on which stands Wellington, the river Hutt emptying itself into this arm of the sea; and at the head of Palliser's Bay is the fine valley of the Wairarapa, well suited for grazing.
On the east coast is Wangaroa, the scene of the Boyd massacre, the fine harbour of the Bay of Islands, the gulf of the Thames, and various other inlets, giving access to large districts in the interior.
If we turn to the Middle Island, we shall find that numerous rivers intersect the country, although not in the same way, or to the same extent, as in the North Island. The rivers of the Middle Island appear to be more subject to freshets than those in the North Island; the torrents rushing down from the New Zealand Alps, suddenly raise the waters of the streams
[Image of page 25]
in the plain, and the water course which may have been easily fordable in the morning, is an impassable gulf at night.
On the deep inlet called by Captain Cook Blind Bay, is the settlement of Nelson, and in the same province, at the head of Cloudy Bay, the fertile valley of the Wairau, the scene of the unfortunate massacre of Europeans which occurred at the early period of the settlement.
Below this, we have the Canterbury plains, and now we get into the more strictly pasture districts of the colony.
The plains of Otako are well watered by small rivers, giving great facilities of communication and carriage. The province is named from the principal harbour, Otako, an arm of the sea, at the head of which stands Dunedin, the capital.
The southern plains, near Dunedin, afford extensive pasture ranges, which are reached by means of the Molyneux river. The New river, accessible to vessels of 400 tons, opens out a valuable country, and Bluff Harbour is safe for vessels of any tonnage.
The harbours on the west coast, although capable of receiving ships of the heaviest burden, yet from their possessing little available land, and being on the weather side of the island, have hitherto not been much frequented.
I may here notice that nearly if not all the rivers on the western side of these islands have bars at their entrances; hence you will observe that all the European colonists select the east side, which is the lee side of the islands. New Plymouth is an exception, but even its magnificent soil does not cause it to rise rapidly. Attention may also be called, in this place, to the singular circumstance that as we advance from the north to the south, the population diminishes in number, the inhabitants of the North Island being twenty to one on the Middle Island; we also lose that dense forest character which so distinguishes the north. In the North so abundant is timber, that the natives are
[Image of page 26]
quite dainty in their selection of firewood, rejecting all but those sorts which experience has taught them are the best for making a pleasant, easily burning fire, whereas in many parts of the Middle Island, in the Canterbury province, for example, so scarce is timber, that the fencing is made by ditch and bank, with a rail at the top sometimes, and it is necessary to grow a plantation as a shelter for gardens and orchards. In a letter from Christchurch, dated October, 1857, I find this statement, "There is not a single tree growing naturally on the plains to be seen, and the high mountain ranges around us are barren."
And although the Struthious genera of birds cannot be said to abound in the North Island, yet they are not difficult to obtain in various parts, but the great denizen of the Middle Island, the Moa, has entirely disappeared. Moreover, the Kauri resin is found on the surface of the ground, at a distance of 500 miles from the district where the tree itself now grows.
Lieut.-Governor Eyre also reports that on a steep high hill on the Middle Island, where now nothing but mosses and lichens grow, were the charred remains of large Totara trees, evidently showing that the ground had once been low and covered with forest.
All these facts point to the probability of some great rising of the Middle Island having taken place within a comparatively recent geological period, and Maui's web of fiction may contain a silver thread of truth.
Of the produce of the animal kingdom, I may notice whalebone, and oil--both black and sperm, which for many years formed the most valuable articles of export.
Seal skins and oil also contributed to the export trade of New Zealand, but have now almost entirely ceased.
One peculiarity of New Zealand, I have already observed, was the almost entire absence of land quadrupeds when it was first discovered; all animals have been of European introduction.
[Image of page 27]
Of the native birds, although they abound, a very slight notice must suffice, for they afford no article of export; but one or two species are too singular to be passed over in silence. I allude to the extremely curious Apertyx Australis, or Kiwi, which is about the size of a common fowl, with undeveloped wings; a ground bird, nocturnal in its habits; it is perhaps the only bird which is so favoured by the chiefs as to be fairly termed game, all other birds being common. The feathers are highly esteemed for making choice dresses. The other is the Moa, or Dinornis of Owen, which was probably the largest bird ever existent on this earth, and stood 16 feet high. The latter is now extinct; the former, although rare, is procurable in several parts of the country. I understand that a Moa's egg has just been found; it is stated to be a foot long, nine inches in diameter, and 27 inches in circumference. 1
In passing, I would remark that a moderately good shot need not fear the failure of supplies when travelling, fine large wood pigeons abounding in all the forests, and I wild ducks in the rivers; wild pigs are met with in many districts, and in some parts wild goats.
The haliotis iris, mutton fish, is prized by the natives, although tough eating; the shells are used in constructing the native fish-hooks, and large quantities are brought to England, where the iridescent pearly linings are employed in inlaying papier mache goods.
The growth of wool has, for several years past, been much attended to by the settlers, and New Zealand wool is gradually becoming a valuable article of export. The New Zealand wool brought into the English market in 1857 amounted to 8,325 bales.
One friend of mine wrote to me some time back, saying, "I have recently had a long walking journey, about 270 miles from Banks' Peninsula (whither I had
[Image of page 28]
gone in a schooner) home again to the neighbourhood of Otako. The journey was laborious. During the tour I passed along one of the most extensive grass plains in New Zealand. I suppose, from all I can learn, it is about 250 miles long and 30 miles wide; not a tree to be seen for 50 miles, except the Ti tree. I walked about 150 miles along it, and had to depend upon drift wood for fuel. The country in this neighbourhood is mountainous; the land is principally grass; very little fern." In the North Island, which is much more heavily timbered, the cleared lands have been devoted to the growth of cereals rather than to the feeding of sheep; but, in a letter of the 30th September, 1857, I find Ahuriri reported to be the finest of all the sheep districts of the colony, and that the people are wealthy, and their profits every year increasing with the growth of their flocks.
As a very large portion of the produce of New Zealand is sent to Sydney, either for Australian consumption, or en route for England, this filtration of its exports through another market before reaching England prevents our having a clear idea of the extent of its capabilities.
I may observe, that in those districts which abound in fern, and are not therefore so suitable for sheep farming, large pig runs would form profitable sources of income to the farmers, no food producing finer grained meat than fern root, which, moreover, has this advantage, that it does not require any care in the cultivation.
At one time New Zealand pork was in low repute in New South Wales, as being gross and rank. This was, no doubt, owing to the circumstance that the principal portion of the pork sent thither came from the whaling stations on the coast, where the animals had been fattened on whale refuse, but fern fed pork is deliciously sweet.
Large numbers of cattle are being imported for stock, and already New Zealand hides are beginning to appear in the English market.
[Image of page 29]
New Zealand possesses several ornamental woods, very suitable for cabinet-makers' use, but probably the freight to England is prohibitory of their employment here; there are also some excellent timber trees for shipbuilding, such as the Puriri, a durable, hard wood, well adapted for knees. Of sixteen specimens sent to Sydney, and experimented upon by Captain Ward, of the Royal Engineers, only one was lower in the breaking strain than English elm, fifteen were superior to that timber, several were nearly equal to the best English oak, and two ranked considerably above that wood; one is reported to be represented by a strain of 3001, superior English oak standing at 2037 to 2261 by the same formula.
The forests in the North Island furnish house-building timber of various sorts; amongst these is the Kauri pine, whose habitat is now the north part of the North Island, although there is no doubt that it once existed in the southern regions. The freight precludes its being profitably brought to this country for housebuilding purposes, otherwise its fine grain, smooth working, and freedom from knots, would soon cause it to take a high position. Its value for ships' masts and bowsprits has long been recognised by the British Government, and many cargoes have been imported; beautiful arrow-like specimens, from 70 to 100 feet in length, tapering from 36 to 40 inches square at the butt to 18 inches square at the head, are not unfrequent, and pieces 50 and 60 feet and upwards in length, without knots, are quite common, and shorter massive bowsprit pieces are easily procurable.
The Kaipara and Hokianga on the west coast, Mercury Bay, the Thames and Wangaroa Harbours on the east coast, are the places in most repute for spars.
From the pine exudes a resin, known as Kauri gum, of which very large quantities are exported yearly. When it first oozes from the tree it is transparent, or at
[Image of page 30]
most milky, but exposure to the atmosphere imparts a yellow hue. This resin is not only obtained from the present forests, but is dug from ground where the trees from which it flowed have long ceased to exist. It is used in America in lieu of copal varnish. In this country, I believe, it is chiefly employed as a glaze for calico. The price in England varies much, having been as low as 15s. or 16s., and as high as 80s. per cwt.
All cereals thrive well in New Zealand, and large quantities of wheat and maize are annually produced and exported to the Australian colonies.
Our ordinary fruit trees furnish their ample stores to the southern cultivator, and as we advance northwards, delicious water melons, Cape gooseberries, figs and oranges thrive in the open air, for there an ever-fresh verdure prevails, and the last year's leaves, in a green old age, gradually retire in spring before their more vigorous successors. Some French settlers at Akaroa, in Bank's Peninsula, Middle Island, are cultivating the vine successfully, and in the North Island many varieties have been introduced, principally through the agency of Mr. Busby, who devoted much time and took great interest in the subject. Potatoes and kumeras (a sweet potato, which is at first rather mawkish to the European taste, but in a short time becomes pleasant, and a favourite vegetable) are the staple articles of native food, and these are grown in vast quantities for sale, and shiploads of potatoes in the season are forwarded to Port Phillip and Sydney. It has already been noticed that the maize and potato flourish side by side in this antipodal Britain.
The Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax) is a hardy plant, belonging to the natural order of lilyworts; and although popularly termed flax, the plant from which it is obtained differs entirely, and in almost every respect, except that it is a plant, from the European flax and hemp. The following table, showing the botanical differences, may render this statement more plain:--
[Image of page 31]
Fibre from the stem of the plant.
Fibre from the stem of the plant.
New Zealand flax
Fibre from the leaf of the plant.
There are several varieties, some yielding finer, others coarser fibres, and but little care has hitherto been given to the selection of the most suitable for manufacturing purposes in England, but if the difficulties of preparing large quantities could once be overcome, and attention drawn to the necessity and advantage of selection, the cultivation of the superior kinds only would be encouraged.
Warmth and moisture appear to be the principal requisites for its flourishing. In New Zealand it grows on the hills and in the valleys, but seems to thrive best in the latter situation.
In the Gardener's Chronicle of the 12th December, 1857, Mr. Saunders, of Jersey, states that he has a plant of the Phormium tenax which, in 1855, produced one flower stem 10 feet long; in 1856, ten flower stems averaging the same length; and in 1857, seven flower stems of the same length, the diminution owing to deductions having been made from it for the purposes of propagation. The position was moist, and exposed, with a westerly aspect. "The leaves," he says, "vary from five to eight feet in length, and we sometimes strip them
[Image of page 32]
off and make use of them as tyes, which are particularly tough and strong. If these leaves are kept for two or three years, they may at any time be made pliable by steeping in water, and made as useful as if they had been taken from the plant but a few days."
The New Zealanders use it green in strips for tying and joining in every shape, the article being a convenient substitute for nails, string, pins, and all connecting implements, and in its green state it is also used largely for plaiting baskets to hold potatoes, and cooked food is generally presented to chiefs and visitors in new flax baskets, about the size of a mechanic's paper cap. When prepared it is used in the manufacture of all kinds of garments, in the making of lines for fishing, ornamental baskets for small wares, and floor mats. It is sometimes dyed of various colours to confer additional beauty on the articles into which it is manufactured.
The native mode of separating the fibres from the dense mass of fleshy parenchymatous matter in which they are embedded is by means of a cockle-shell, and by a gentle pressure the shell is repeatedly drawn or combed along the leaf, and gradually the fibres appear in long and beautiful delicate silky threads. Doubtless, this is not an economical mode of preparation, a large per centage of really valuable fibre being combed away and discarded, but no European mode of proceeding has hitherto been found to accomplish the object so successfully.
I may explain that the old careful preparation of flax by the natives is almost dying out; they can obtain European good clothing at so cheap a rate, and their time can be employed to so much greater advantage in other pursuits. Several European plans have been tried, but none as yet have been attended with any marked success.
A friend of mine, writing from Auckland, on the 30th September last, says, "I am afraid nothing will come of Whytlaw's flax. Five tons in six months will not pay his staff of men and boys, but I think we shall have some flax ere long to export;" and then he refers me
[Image of page 33]
to some specimens prepared by the Baron de Thierry's process of steaming.
Another Auckland resident, Mr. Cox, appears to have been trying his skill in preparing the flax for manufacture and exportation. It is stated that the machine is very simple, being based on the principle of the carding machine. A subscription was at once started to cover the expense of preparing five tons of flax for shipment to England; it is also stated that the natives present at the trial of the machine wanted to purchase it on the spot, On this occasion, the motive power was by hand-labour, but even this showed a result of 3 cwt. per frame or machine per day, and with steam power there would be nothing to prevent a hundred frames or machines being set at work under one roof. This experiment was made in the presence of several of the most influential colonists, who, on the same occasion, entered into a subscription for defraying the expenses of a public trial of the Baron de Thierry's mode of preparing flax. I also learn, by recent news from Auckland, that nearly £1,500 has been subscribed towards the formation of a flax company.
So important has this question been deemed by the Colonial Government of New Zealand, that it notified on the 20th December, 1856, that the following rewards would be paid for certain inventions or improvements connected with this article, viz.--
£2,000 to the person who shall, by some process of his own invention, first produce from the Phormium Tenax, or other fibrous plant indigenous to New Zealand, 100 tons of merchandize.
£1,000 to any person, other than the person entitled to the first reward, who shall by some process of his own invention, next produce from the Phormium Tenax, or other plant indigenous to New Zealand, 100 tons of merchandize.
£1,000, viz., £200 to each of the first five persons, other than those entitled to the first and second rewards, who shall by any process, whether his own invention or not, produce from the Phormium Tenax, or other
[Image of page 34]
fibrous plant indigenous to New Zealand, 25 tons of merchandize.
Half the reward to be paid upon the Governor being satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the same, and the other half on proof of the bona fide sale of the merchandize in Europe, at an advance of 20 per cent, on the actual cost of the article landed in Europe. Every claim for reward to be preferred before the 1st January, 1859.
The importance of this subject to the mother country will be apparent, from a consideration of the immense quantities of flax and hemp imported yearly into England. These were--
FLAX, DRESSED AND UNDRESSED.
Quantity in 1855.
Value in 1855.
Quantity in 1856.
Value in 1856.
Quantity in 1855.
Value in 1855.
Quantity in 1856.
Value in 1856.
And yet one of our own colonies produces an inexhaustible supply of an article which, according to Dr. Lindley, is stronger than those so largely consumed materials, the comparative strength of various fibres being thus stated by him:--
New Zealand Flax
I must add that, although the flax is admitted to be exceedingly strong in the straight pull, it is stated to cut in the tie; whether this arises from a serrated edge of the
[Image of page 35]
fibre, or from a brittleness produced by the presence of the gum and chemical salts, as phosphate of lime, &c., which the flax naturally contains, further experiments can alone determine. Certainly the flax imported during the last fifteen years cannot be regarded as fairly representing what the article is, so rough and unprepared have been most of the specimens I have seen.
The plant contains a curious gum, of which I had a sample sent over for the purposes of experiment, but so anxious were our customs' officers to ascertain whether it contained a liquid liable to duty, that the bottle was broken in the process of ascertaining the point, and the contents spoiled.
COAL. --This valuable substance has been found cropping out in various parts of the country, in some of the southern ports of the North Island, also in the provinces of Nelson and Canterbury. It is being worked on the surface, I understand, but the quality is not, so far as can learn, of any very great excellence.
COPPER. --A considerable quantity of copper ore has, at various times, been imported from New Zealand, principally by way of Sydney, obtained from the Great Barrier Island.
The Dun Mountain Company propose mining in the province of Nelson. Two tons of ore, extracted from the lodes they propose to work, were dressed for market at Swansea. This parcel is stated to have yielded, after dressing, 23 7/8 per cent, of fine copper, and the refuse dust produced 6 3/4 to 13 5/8 per ton of ore, which consists of a grey sulphuret, with red and black oxyde and native copper, and strong yellow sulphuret. A staff of miners, with suitable implements for carrying on the works, have been despatched to Nelson, and, by this time, are expected to be at work.
GOLD. --The sudden elevated position taken by Victoria, on the fact of its gold fields becoming known, naturally led the neighbouring colonies to look at home, and, if I may so say, "sweep diligently the house." In Van
[Image of page 36]
Diemen's Land gold was discovered, although not in sufficiently remunerative quantity, and New Zealand soon proved that it also possessed the precious metal.
The Coromandel Harbour was the first district which the colonists ascertained to contain gold, but although a large reward was offered by the Auckland merchants for proof of its affording a reasonable compensation to diggers, the necessary evidence to secure the reward was never forthcoming. The province of Nelson, however, in this matter, as in the case of copper, seems likely to claim the palm. Already 2,000 diggers are diligently at work devoting themselves to the search for gold, and have agreed to regulations amongst themselves. Their search appears so satisfactory that many are leaving the other provinces to join in the gold hunt.
DIVISION INTO PROVINCES.
By an Act of Parliament, 15 and 16 Vic., cap. 72, a constitution was granted to the colony, the legislative powers being vested in a General Assembly, consisting of the Governor, and Legislative Council and House of Representatives, for the whole colony; the minor local affairs of the six provinces into which the islands were divided being placed under the management of a Superintendent and Provincial Council for each. These provinces are Auckland, New Plymouth, and Wellington in the North Island, Nelson, Canterbury and Otako in the South Island.
The North Island, as has been stated, contains a comparatively large native population, which circumstance, although advantageous in some respects, from other points of view has its difficulties. Labour is thereby more easily obtained than in an unpeopled country, and in the natives we have a very large productive and consuming power, all desirable in a commercial aspect of the question. As a simple but pregnant illustration of the importance of the native element in all considerations affecting the three northern provinces, especially Auckland, I may state, that in the year 1855, the vessels registered at, or belonging to,
[Image of page 37]
Auckland, consisted of three steamers, 41 foreign going vessels, of 6,618 gross tonnage, 75 coasters belonging to English owners, 49 coasters belonging to native owners, besides which there were 158 small craft, averaging 10 tons, of which 34 belonged to native owners. Innumerable squadrons of canoes, from 10 to 70 feet in length, some capable of carrying many tons of produce and sixty or seventy persons, are not included in this account. These vessels may probably bear about the same relation and importance to the other properties and operations of the natives, whether of farming or dealing, as in other countries.
Yet it was in reference to men capable of this development, that a Committee of the House of Commons passed a resolution to deprive them of all waste lands not actually occupied; contrary to the express agreement of her Majesty's Representative with the chiefs, in the hearing of myself and many other Europeans.
The resolution was not carried out, and the natives remain the proprietors of the land in the North Island, except so much as, in accordance with the Waitangi treaty, may have been purchased from them by the government, and hence those extensive districts are not open to the occupation of Europeans, as is the case in the Middle Island, where the native population being extremely small, there is a more free field for European colonization.
The northern province is Auckland, at present the most important, being the seat of government, and having the largest European and native population. The numerous rivers in this province have caused a considerable coasting trade to spring up, and about a thousand vessels, including coasting craft from 10 tons and upwards, enter the port of Auckland yearly. Small farms are easily obtainable, with good soil and healthy climate, and the means of comfortable living are procured with such facility, that an old resident has said,-- "A working man thinks it hard if he cannot have meat on his table three times a day," and further adds,
"A beggar would be a novelty." A friend, who had
[Image of page 38]
lived in different parts of the islands, both in the extreme north and in the south for twenty years, and who resided in the New Plymouth District for several years, says,-- "Taranaki is decidedly one of the finest districts, the land being so excellent, but there is no harbour, and the roadstead is dangerous." And Governor Grey says, "I have never in any part of the world seen such extensive tracts of fertile and unoccupied land as at Taranaki." On the whole, this province justifies the high praise the natives have ever bestowed upon Taranaki as being the choice garden of the island. It is more suitable for agricultural than pastoral pursuits, and for small farmers is not surpassed by any other place on the globe. Taranaki is the native name for the district of New Plymouth.
Wellington and Nelson were founded by the New Zealand Company, and after many vicissitudes and troubles from various causes, are gradually rising to wealth and importance. Sheep farming has been extended, and the export of wool is assuming large proportions.
Of late gold has been discovered in the province of Nelson, and some settlers, I find, are leaving Auckland for the gold district. There has not been sufficient time to test the value of the diggings, and I trust they will not be so encouraging as to draw off the colonists from the steady pursuit of the more certain, though more slow, rewards of agriculture. For, however successful gold diggers may be, they are consuming capital as well as interest, whereas, in farming or sheep-breeding, generally speaking, more is yearly left on than is removed from the land, and in this view I am not certain whether, if all the gold diggers had devoted themselves with equal energy to ploughing and sheep and stock breeding, they would not have been quite as rich on the whole as they now are. Still there are "high pressures" among us to whom the exciting digging life is the most suitable industry, and to whom the humdrum round of farming and sheep-keeping would be unendurable, and so we wish them God-speed.
[Image of page 39]
Canterbury and Otako are rapidly advancing to affluence, these provinces being eminently adapted for pastoral pursuits.
The gentleman to whom I previously alluded writes to me in reference to this part of the country:-- "The country generally is well adapted for sheep and cattle runs (my friend came from an English grazing country), also very good for cultivation, and I have little doubt but that when these settlements are fairly set going, they will soon be flourishing, especially for the grazier. The climate is much the same as some of the south parts of England, and appears to be healthy for European constitutions; the health of ourselves and family has been better here than it has been since we left England."
To intending emigrants I would point out New Zealand, as offering to industry easy competence, gradual improvement, and eventual affluence; not so rapidly, perhaps, as in some other colonics, but without their drawbacks. If you are farmers, and a good productive soil and delightful climate be your desire, then gratify your wishes by settling in the northern provinces; if to be rich in cattle and sheep be your ambition, seek its accomplishment in the southern provinces. If hale and strong, you have nothing to fear from the vicissitudes of the seasons, for to Englishmen the provinces are all mild; if delicate, seek the retention or restoration of health by settling in the northern provinces. If mechanics you will probably find a larger sphere in the more peopled districts, as at Auckland, Wellington, or Nelson.
But whatever you purpose, or whichever place you may select, go with a resolute brave heart, determined to stay, to spend your life in your adopted country. Leave nothing behind, but, converting all your properties into cash, remit the money through one of the two respectable banks which have branches in New Zealand, either the Union Bank of Australia, or the Oriental Bank Corporation. Carry nothing with you save a good stock of personal apparel, and under no circumstances whatever
[Image of page 40]
be persuaded to burden yourselves with furniture, except a chest of drawers, and still less be coaxed into the purchase of goods for sale, for recollect there are always supplies in Sydney ready to be poured into the New Zealand market within a few weeks of the special want arising; besides that, the merchants at all the principal ports have correspondents in England, who are only too ready, by the very first opportunity, to supply, in any quantity, whatever may be required. By the possession, of cash, you would be enabled, in many cases, to purchase, advantageously, farms upon which much labour had been expended, the occupants desiring to remove, to retire altogether, to enter upon some other business, or leave the colony, and in arranging with such, the circumstance of receiving immediate cash is a great consideration. Nor is it of trifling importance that you should enter upon a partially cleared and ready tilled farm, rather than undergo the tedious hard labour of commencing everything anew for yourselves--only those whose eyes have swept over miles and miles of forest and fern for days together, can appreciate the hope and joy that spring up at the sight of a little cultivated patch, however small, even a few yards square.
COMMUNICATIONS WITH THIS COUNTRY.
In speaking thus of the emigrant proposing to him self a final farewell of his native land, I do not at all discourage the idea of his often communicating with the dear old country; so frequently do the opportunities now occur, that one can no longer expect a settler to jump for joy at a letter from home, and read with avidity, and interest next to his Bible, an old newspaper from England.
It is less than twenty years since the first merchant ships began to sail regularly direct from England to New Zealand; previous to that date, the circuitous route of sending goods to Sydney, where they waited an uncertain time for a small vessel to convey them to New Zealand, was the only course possible. Vessels of considerable size now depart about once a fortnight to one
[Image of page 41]
or other of the chief ports, and so direct communication one way, outward, is tolerably frequent, but the export trade has not yet enabled us to have any regular communication from New Zealand; letters still come by way of the Australian colonies.
When the Peninsular and Oriental Company ran their steamers to Sydney with the English mails, correspondence with New Zealand was regular, the New Zealand Government having subsidized a steamer to run monthly in conjunction with that line. On the removal of the steamers at the time of the Crimean war, the comunications became extremely irregular, the arrival of the outward mail from England being uncertain, inasmuch as letters were sent from this country by sailing vessels to Melbourne, whence they were transmitted by a steamer to Sydney, and thence forwarded on to New Zealand by the contract steamer William Denny. On the new Australian contract being taken, it was hoped that regularity would become the rule, but we have been doomed to miserable disappointments; almost on the first voyage under the new arrangement, the inter-colonial steamer was wrecked near the North Cape, and has not yet been replaced, therefore intelligence has at present to be conveyed to and from Sydney and New Zealand in sailing vessels, and when thus far on their journey, the irregularity in arriving and departure, and the utter inefficiency of the new Australian mail service, render all calculations unavailing. No one should just at present reckon upon his letters until actually in possession.
A brighter prospect is, however, opening before the colonists in this respect--the Royal Mail Company having entered into an arrangement by which, in the course of a year or so, a monthly communication, by way of Panama, will be opened between this country and New Zealand; a line of steamers will be placed on the Pacific to run in conjunction with the West India vessels. As New Zealand will be their first port of arrival in the Colonies, and the last of departure, the intercourse will be altogether different from the present,
[Image of page 42]
and as this line will be in addition to the Eastern mail lino, we may thus hope to have a fortnightly service, and when the submarine telegraph system shall have laid its girdle round the earth, I do not despair of the possibility, in the lifetime of some present, of our being able to pay a bodily visit to our antipodal friends in forty days, and to flash the thought divine in forty minutes.