JOHN JOHNSON (1794-1848)
Contemporary map of Lake Roto-mahana
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DR. JOHN JOHNSON appears to have left us a detailed substantial account of his 1846-7 journey to the Central Lakes, a diary covering six weeks in 1840, and very little else. He was New Zealand's first colonial-surgeon, one of the half-dozen officials appointed in Sydney to assist Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson when he was sent, in January 1840, to acquire sovereignty over New Zealand and set up British government there. Presumably he had but lately arrived in Sydney, for his name does not appear on the manuscript List of Officers shown in the Returns of the Colony 1836-40, held by the Mitchell Library; and that library's newspaper indexes list him as a medical practitioner only after 1840. His life before 1840, then, remains quite unknown, and the years afterwards have thrown up only a few disjointed fragments.
Johnson did not cross the Tasman with Hobson, but followed him to the Bay of Islands in March, on the Westminster. This ship was also bringing Sarah Mathew, wife of Hobson's Surveyor-General, to join her husband. A few phrases of her journal tell us that Johnson claimed to be half a Highlander, and that he was a kindly, pleasant travelling companion, given to literary discussions.
The Auckland Public Library has a manuscript journal by Johnson, from 17 March 1840, when he arrived at the Bay of Islands, to 28 April--sixty-eight pages of bold clear writing followed by sketches of ships and people done with neatness, clarity, and some playful touches. It is headed 'Ocassional Diary in New Zealand', and is a detailed account of his activities and observations in the eventful infant days of the new colony. The style is very like that of the Journal printed here, with the same tireless descriptions of landscape, Maori pas, and the affairs of the day. It includes a journey, for on 23 April Johnson was sent by ship with Willoughby Shortland, a magistrate, Lieutenant Smart, and Richard Taylor, a missionary, to Kaitaia in the far north to obtain signatures to the Treaty of Waitangi. Johnson recorded the speeches of the natives on that occasion 'verbatim as translated by Mr Puckey', a missionary at Kaitaia. He was greatly impressed by Nopera, the leading chief, and 'the elegant figure by which he expressed the word Sovereignty... nothing could be more beautiful or expressive than "the shadow of the Land is to the Queen, but the substance remains to us"'.
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Certainly Johnson did not shirk the labours of writing, and one is left with the unhappy feeling that there may well have been other volumes of this 'Ocassional Diary' which have disappeared, perhaps for ever.
In the selection of the site of Auckland, Johnson played a leading part. Several places--Whangarei, Mahurangi, the Thames, and Tamaki--had been examined as sites for the capital. At the end of June 1840 Hobson went to see for himself, in the cutter Ranger, with Dr. Johnson, George Clarke, protector of aborigines, and David Rough, an ex-seaman, who soon after became Auckland's first harbourmaster. Rough, writing of this expedition many years later, said that when they came to the Waitemata, 'The idea was in favour of a situation far up the harbour to which we were sailing, but we anchored for the night off the small islet called the Sentinel. Dr. Johnston, an accomplished artist, was the first to call attention to the inviting appearance of the country lower down, and I offered to leave the cutter and remain behind to take soundings and examine the shore at low water.' Next afternoon the Governor returned, dissatisfied with the channel and the country higher up the harbour, but he was pleased with Rough's report on the anchorage and depth of water near the shore. 'His Excellency, accompanied by Dr. Johnston, Mr. Clarke and myself, landed and walked along the shore to what is now called Freeman's Bay. All we saw appeared favourable for the site of a settlement. Captain Hobson was much pleased, and without fixing on a particular spot for a site, we returned to the Bay of Islands.' 1
In September a party of mechanics and government officers, including Johnson, were sent in the barque Anna Watson to take possession of the intended settlement, and here the correspondence of the Colonial Secretary in the New Zealand archives shows Johnson somewhat sensitive about the dignity of his office. Hobson's General Instructions, it appeared, might require him to accept direction from an officer inferior in rank to himself, and he offered to resign. 2 He was informed that it needed 'a Spirit of Litigation' to suggest the construction he had applied to the instructions. 3 Johnson denied possession of such a spirit, accepted explanations with alacrity, and withdrew his resignation. 4
The Anna Watson anchored in the Waitemata on 15 September 1840. On the 16th, according to Sarah Mathew, who was on board,
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Notes from, a Journal
the precise spot for the port of the capital was chosen. 'Mr. M. and Dr. Johnson went on shore early, the former to examine the lands capabilities, the latter to geologise. They returned after a very long and fatiguing but also interesting walk, having reached the summit of a high hill commanding an extensive view over the country in every direction.' 5 It would be unwise to attribute to this particular excursion the view Johnson remembered in the opening of his 1846-7 journal, but the solitary barque, the four white tents, and the raupo huts half-hidden in tangled wood certainly belonged to this stage of Auckland's infancy.
Thereafter the records yield very little, except a few formal reports of medicines held, &c. In mid-1844, when FitzRoy's empty treasury compelled extreme economy, the office of Colonial-Surgeon was abolished; and there is a rather nettled note from Johnson, anxious to give up the medical stores in his charge forthwith as he was in daily expectation of the vessel by which he intended to proceed to America. 6 Apparently that vessel never came, or the good doctor did not board it. But there is no more news of him till in December 1846, when under Grey the position of Colonial-Surgeon was re-established and offered to Johnson, with a provisional salary of £150 a year. Johnson accepted it promptly, though he hoped that in due time His Excellency might be induced to recommend a salary more in proportion to the onerous and responsible duties of the office. 7
Perhaps it was in celebration of this return to officialdom, perhaps as a last fling before taking up the onerous duties, that Johnson made his tour of the interior. His account was published in the New-Zealander newspaper, 22 September-29 December 1847, without any mark of authorship. From the opening passage, it was clear that the author was a man of science who had been present at the founding of Auckland, which indicated Johnson. This was confirmed by A. S. Thomson's The Story of New Zealand (London, 1859), ii. 134, where reference to some natives' belief that Te Rauparaha was to be killed, smoked and sent to the Queen, bore the brief footnote 'Dr. Johnson's Visit to the hot springs in the North Island in 1846'. David Rough also, in the New Zealand Herald of 25 January 1896, wrote that the first of the official party at Auckland in September 1840 to go far into the interior of the North Island was Dr. Johnson, who brought back such a glowing account of the lakes, rivers, mountains, and wonderful volcanic phenomena, that he himself resolved to travel likewise. Fortunately the New Zealand archives
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resolved all doubts of authorship by yielding a letter from Johnson, dated 23 January 1847, which has the statement, 'I have this day returned from an excursion to the Boiling Springs of Rotorua which I undertook by permission of his Excellency.' 8
There are a few more official returns from Johnson, a few records of his presiding at coroners' courts; then in July 1848 the newspapers lament his death, at the age of fifty-four, as that of a man who combined most estimable qualities as a private gentleman with a most energetic and public-spirited character as a colonist.
For Johnson's journey no special purpose appears, so it may not unreasonably be attributed to disinterested curiosity. Remembering that he was over fifty at the time, this is remarkable in itself. His long report, pruned considerably for these pages, as the footnotes will show, gives massive information on the country travelled. Obliquely, largely by its very style, it tells also a good deal about Johnson; and with this we must perforce be content.
A few changes in punctuation have been made. The sentences are sometimes very long and loosely hung together with commas. In about half a dozen places a semi-colon has been added, and once or twice a full stop, where these seemed to make for clarity.
Notes from a Journal
I LEFT Auckland at day break on the morning of the 22nd of September, 9 with a companion well acquainted with the language and customs of the Maori, a knowledge indispensable to make an excursion of this nature either pleasant or profitable, for all the misstatements regarding native character, and almost all the quarrels which have taken place between the races, have arisen from misconception and ignorance of each other's language and habits.
The view of the town from the Manakou 10 road, as it crosses the
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Notes from a Journal
first ridge behind it, is very pleasing, but the scene had a peculiar interest in my eyes, as six years before I had stood almost on the same spot, at the same season of the year, when four white tents and a few scattered raupo huts, scarce visible amidst the tangled wood around, containing about sixty individuals, were the representatives of a town now numbering more than three hundred substantial wooden houses, and four thousand inhabitants. One solitary barque then lay at anchor in the harbour, now a fine frigate and every variety of vessels floated on the waters of the Waitemate. 11 The suburbs were a brown waste, now they were sprinkled with pretty villas and cottages, and grass which seemed to spring almost spontaneously under the foot of man, was everywhere replacing the fern and wild shrubs that had covered the site and precincts of the town. 12 The retrospect appeared a dream.... 13
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A great and pleasing change had taken place in the features of the country on either side of the road leading to the Manakou, during an absence of two years from the colony. Fields, fenced and cleared, many bearing crops, had replaced the fern and wild ragged scrub that then covered it. Remuera, as the space is called between Mount Hobson aud Mount St. John, which had formerly been roughly cultivated by the natives to supply the necessaiy provision for a feast, in doing which they had destroyed all the beautiful wood which covered the sides of Mount Hobson and the adjacent valley, was now, at any rate, improved by English agriculture. This was the result of the late Governor Fitzroy's waiver of the Queen's right of preemption, by which private individuals were permitted to purchase lands directly from the aborigines, and which were confirmed to them by a Crown Grant on proving that the natives were satisfied, and on paying of a fee of Ten Shlillings per acre to the Crown. The amount of this fee was a sufficient gaurantee that the permission would scarcely be taken advantage of by mere speculators; but when the fee was subsequently reduced to One Penny per acre, it no doubt served as a bonus to speculation, or as it is called land-sharking, and vast tracts were immediately purchased from the natives by men who had hardly the means of satisfying them, and the majority of whom never could have cultivated a tithe of what they had acquired, or make useful in any way, than by re selling it at a profit; now this was such a manifest injustice to those who had formerly purchased land at a high price from the Govcrnmeut--to the old claimants, and to those who had paid the ten shillings per acre, besides being totally opposed in principle to the regulations by which land is to be acquired in our colonies, that Governor Grey did not feel himself justified in confirming their titles, for the parties only held them by certificate, uuder Governor Fitzroy's hand; but he has offered them such fair terms of compromise as they cannot reasonably reject. Land intended to be cultivated or applied to any other legitimate purpose, ought to be marketable like any other commodity, and the original purchaser has a right to expect such an advance of price, on a resale, as the progressive value of land in a rising colpny ensures; but gambling in land, or the mere transfer on a profit from one hand to another, cannot be too much discouraged, as tending to form a race of reckless gamblers rather than useful colonists.
A nursery garden prettily situated at the base of the lava spurs jutting out from Mount Eden, was another improvement, it was filled with every variety of fruit tree in a thriving condition, and which, from being raised in the country, are more suited to the climate than those brought from Australia or Van Dieman's Land. It is to be hoped that the settlers will take advantage of this supply at hand, and form orchards, which have hitherto been postponed, or if planted, have been neglected as scarce worthy of attention. Every farm house in the United States has its orchard, the establishment would be thought incomplete without it; and as an American generally combines profit with pleasure, he must find both in his orchard, otherwise he would not trouble himself about one.
The whole base of Mount Eden, now encumbered with masses of basaltic lava and scoria, by removing the latter from the surface, and building them into walls, is well adapted to the growth of the vine; indeed it can be converted to no other use, and the luxuriant growth of the fern and shrubs occupying this rugged tract attest the richness of the interstitial soil.
As the plain opened out, so did the extended cultivation of the last two years. The large plateau between Mount St. John and One Tree Hill, another volcanic cone, so named from a solitary potukawa tree, which has probably withstood the blasts of centuries, crowning the summit, was almost entirely enclosed and under crop, which however, as the soil is chiefly volcanic, and consequently of a light nature, seemed to suffer from want of rain. Similar cultivation spread out westward, to the base of the range of wooded hills lying between the southern slopes of Mount Eden and the triple summits of the volcanic hill, named the Three Kings. Fields whitening to the harvest, were cut out of these undulating hills, divided by belts of wood, which had a most pleasing appearance, not unlike some parts of Kent; and a wind-mill on a rising ground, gave an impression of greater age to the cultivation than any other object could have done. The few houses, more in approximation than ordinary, are called by anticipation the village of Epsom, and some of them with their grass plats and gardens, would not have disgraced the mother country. It posses an inn, where may be found good entertainment for man and beast, and is the neucleus around which in colonies a town always centres. That part of Remuera which was the scene of the feast given by Waitere, a Manakau chief, to his friends the Waikatos and Ngatiawa, is visible from hence. I have alluded to the destruction of a beautiful wood, in order to form plantation grounds. It "came off" to use a colonial phrase, in May, 1844, and although three thousand of these men, whom we choose to call savages, were assembled there for five days, to their praise be it spoken, no outrage was committed, and scarce any depredation, although they all visited Auckland during the period of their stay. Now, as each individual consumes about five pounds of potatoes per diem, and had also to be furnished with a supply for his return home, it may be imagined that it required the produce of a good many acres to satisfy so large a body.
These feasts are very common, and the natives generally select wooded and fertile spots, often, as in this instance, distant from their usual place of residence, in order to raise the necessary provision On this account they require, and tenaciously hold certain spots "tapu" for the purposes of cultivation, to an extent far beyond what the individual members of the tribe might be thought to require, and it is only when the purposes for which they have been reserved are fulfilled, that they will consent to part with them, and then only at a high price. Besides, pork holds a prominent place in the "carte," on these occasions, a hundred pigs are often carbonadoed and eaten at a sitting. Now a considerable tract of ground is required to feed these, as they subsist chiefly on the roots of the fern and succulent plants in the swamps, with the free use of which the natives will not dispense; in fact, pigs are the flocks and herds of the maori, and they consider the lands on which they feed as much occupied, as we do our grazing grounds for rearing young cattle on the moors of England, or on the mountains of Scotland and Wales; and it will be found that in most of their bona fide sales of land to Europeans before the colonization of the islands, for I do not take notice of these loose sales by degrees of latitude and longitude, they always had an eye to the reservation of what is called a pig run, for the use of the tribe, and never parted with so necessary an appendage to their establishment.
The road, at a short distance fiom Epsom passes over the western acclivity of One Tree Hill, and is thus elevated above the general level of the plain, by diverging a little from it, a commanding view of the neighbourhood is obtained; the first and principal object which attracts the eye, is the glittering surface of the estuary of Manakou, an extension of the western pacific, which pours its waters, through a comparatively narrow opening between two lofty head-lands, into a bay of more than forty miles in circumference, and thence into innumerable creeks, which pierce its level shores, and penetrate deeply inland, indeed, if their courses be followed, the water frontage of Manukao may be estimated at one hundred miles. The term "pours its waters" is strictly correct, for these creeks or armlets are filled by the tide alone, the fresh water rivers and streams which empty themselves into them, being of trifling size, except after heavy and continued rain in the winter season. Now this is a great advantage in an economical point of view, in a new country not possessing roads, though at low water their muddy shores are anything but picturesque; for as most of these creeks have a deep channel, the exit of the fresh water streams, and as there is a rise of ten feet at high water, small vessels and boats are enabled to push far inland with the flood tide, and return when it suits them with the ebb, and thus a ready means of transport is afforded at all times to a large extent of country without much delay, and as regards land carriage, at a comparatively cheap rate.
A glance is obtained of the Tamaki, a small estuary furnished by the eastern pacific, and thus the waters of the great ocean which surrounds the island are almost in contact. The advantageous position of Auckland in this respect is unrivalled, for a canal might easily be cut through the narrow isihmus which separates the seas, and were a similar work carried out thro' the isthmus which lies between the Toro Creek, a branch of the Manakou, running southward to within a mile and a half of the head of the Awaroa, a tidal branch of the great river Waikato, the whole of the produce of the vast country bordering it, and its tributary the Waipa, might he conveyed by water to Karangahape, the port of the Manukao, or it might be brought to within five miles of Auckland, and carried there by a railway across the plain. This is no visionary scheme, but one which will assuredly be put into execution when population and capital find their way to these shores.
The citizens of New York at the commencement of this century would have treated the idea of connecting their vast interior lakes with their city as a chimera, yet they have for many years enjoyed the advantages of that communication by means of a magnificent canal 250 miles in length; and they would have beeu equally incredulous even twenty years since, had the probability of a more direct and rapid communication by rail-road been suggested; yet now the good burghers, on the second day after leaving their homes on the Broadway, can step from their carriage into a terminus almost on the shores of Lake Erie, a distance of nearly 400 miles. Our works would be but as a drop in the sea to such vast undertakings.
This spot commands also a fine view of the plains bordering the Manakou, and of the great wooded range which more than forty miles in length divides this part of the country from the interior, abutting at one point on the Gulf of Hauraki, on the other almost dipping into the sea at the mouth of the Waikato river--and on the west slope after slope of fern-covered hills stretch away to the base of the lofty Manukou mountains, whose broken and picturesque ridges are clothed with noble forests. To the east, the more immediate country lying between the Waitemate and the Tamaki, opens out beyond the plain of Remuera. On the highest point of the undulating hills, which vary its surface, stands Bishop's Auckland, as the new college is named. The erection of this building does honour to its zealous and pious founder in every sense, for by his earnest representations were the necessary funds obtained from England, and by his energy under many difficulties has the work been pushed forward. When completed, it will not only form an ornament to the country, but afford the means of a sound classical and religious education, combined with secular acquirements of the greatest value to the rising generation. This is in general lost sight of in our colonies, or in comparison to their foundation, brought very tardily into action. Instruction based on any other principle, may give knowledge, but not that which in a Christian country should be the primary object of all education.
The smoke was curling upwards from the roofs of the numerous farm houses around, giving cheering evidence of the residences of industry; how different was the scene six years before, when the fires of a small settlement occupied by Kauwau, the Ngatiwatua 14 chief, at the base of the volcanic cone of Maungari, 15 on the opposite shore of the Manukau, were the only evidence that man inhabited the vast country around me. I had at that time reached the spot on which I now stood by diverging from a narrow and scarcely marked Maori path, now a broad road traversed the plain, on which carts were passing to and fro, and bands of natives were hurrying on droves of pigs, in cheerful expectation of a liberal utu 16 at Auckland, and similar parties were crossing these, bound for the interior, laden with articles of European manufacture purchased from the result of a like expedition--then the plain around was a naked untenanted waste, now it was covered with cultivation, settlers were busy at their various occupations, and its surface was sprinkled with sheep and cattle--such reminiscences gave an inexpressible interest to the scene.
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The road slopes gently down to Oneonga, 17 a landing place on the Manukau, to which small vessels can ascend. It may be about five miles distant from Auckland. The aspect of this place had also undergone a favourable change. The few native huts, which lay near a rugged cultivation, had disappeared since my last visit in 1841, and were replaced by those of some settlers amidst fenced fields, and a somewhat superior ware, 18 occupied by the great chief Te Wero Wero, 19 on his occasional visits to this part of the country, was now represented by a public-house. I remember to have spent a cold comfortless night under its porch, after a very meagre meal, the interior being tapu, 20 so as not to be desecrated by a pakeha. Now a bed and supper can be procured by any person with money in his pocket, and I believe without it, if he should chance to be in that unpleasant predicament. It may be thought trifling to narrate such matters, but they are part of the history of a new country, and future travellers may have to make mention of a splendid hotel where Forbes's humble public-house once stood. Although it cannot be said of each individual colonist, in relation to the advancement of the colony, quorum pars magna fuit, yet their collective exertions, however small, assist in forming what Joseph Hume calls 'the tottle of the whole', and the man who makes even a blade of grass grow, where none had grown before, is entitled to the thanks of the community.
At Onehunga we found the natives who formed the suite of my companion, engaged in apportioning the baggage and 'trade', which each was to carry, a matter of no small difficulty, where men, who can remonstrate, are the beasts of burthen. After some delay, and much noise, the different arrangements were completed, and we started for Papakura, about twelve o'clock, to reach which would be the limit of our day's journey.... 21
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Maungare, one of the largest of the volcanic cones, rising almost directly from a plain, overhangs the opposite shores of the Manakau. Its crater appeared to be of great extent, and its slopes were cut in to terraces. On this side, close to the path we followed, is situated another crater, so low, that its walls are not elevated more than a few feet above high-water mark, so that the tide pours into it through a gap, and forms a salt-water basin; which, if ever a village were formed near it, might be used as a boat-harbor, as there is always water enough to float them. There are several of these singular volcanic basins near Auckland--one at Oraki, on the Waitemate, and another called Wai Mogoia, which comrnqnicates with the Tamaki, by a deep passage, and forms, at high water, a circular and picturesque lake.
After passing over a flat well-furnished with grass, on which some sheep were luxuriating, the path entered the debris of lava and scoria which environs the base of Raratonga, or Mount Smart. If so trivial a matter is worthy of notice, it certainly would have been more appropriate to have permitted these hills to have retained their Native names, which generally had a relation to their form, position, or some peculiarity attached to them. Now, Raratonga means far South, which exactly designates its position as regards the other volcanic hills--Mount Eden, for instance, is called by the Natives Maungawao, from a beautiful shrub, the Wao, with large mulberry-shaped leaves and white flowers, which once abounded on its sides. Even One tree Hill, though less objectionable, since it is marked by an ancient Pohutakaua that crowns its summit, might have enjoyed its appellation of Maungakiakia, with equal propriety--the Kiakia being a beautiful creeping parasite, that twines round and adorns the forest trees, and which probably graced it when covered with wood, although now, with the exception of a clump in the crater, it has entirely disappeared. In affixing, therefore, English names to these hills, certainly a name more euphonical than the abrupt Teutonic monosyllable Smart, might have been chosen. Wellington, Victoria, Albert, are historic, and therefore may be tolerated, and the title of a Colonial Minister, or even the name of a Governor, might, by a natural courtesy, be allowed to supersede the primitive and expressive appellations of the Natives. But this arbitrary re-baptism, except under the above-mentioned circumstances, should be discouraged, Mount St. John, called Mahu, from its position to the left hand in crossiug the plain, had nearly suffered the cpmplimentary infliction of a hard-sounding bi-syllable, but a plant of Hypericum, or St.John's Wort, found opportunely at its base, seemed expressly to mark it for its present designation, which it accordingly received. Many Native names, replaced by others more unexpressive, might be cited if necessary.
I am aware that the practice of the illustrious Cook, may be advanced as a precedent, in the substitution of English for Native names, but I think it will be found that where it was possible, he took advantage of some fact of position, appearance, or some other striking circumstance, to authorise the change. However, I express my opinion on this subject under correction. A painful walk of more than a mile, over the rough scoria and lava, cropping out in every direction, conducts to a stream issuing from a cavern, which is probably the drain of the extensive volcanic tract that extends Eastward from Raratonga. Beyond this the lava forms, for half-a-mile, a perfectly level and solid pavement, perforated at intervals, by circular apertures, formed either in the act of cooling, or by the action of mimic volcanoes. It terminates on the edge of a salt water creek, on the opposite side of which, the clay again appears. This creek may be crossed with ease, at low water, on the veins of lava that traverse its bed, but when the tide is high, travellers must ford it or be carried over on the backs of Natives, neither of which are agreeable modes of passage.
A few hundred yards beyond the creek, a level tract, elevated about ten feet above the beach, extends across to the shores of the Tamaki inlet, where there is deep water. This particular spot seems formed by Nature for the line of a canal, as it is not more than a mile and a-half in breadth, and the difference of high tide between the respective waters, which is two and a half hours, would probably favour its formation. From hence the path winds along the head of that large branch of the Manukao, which we had been all along skirting, to Otahu, as the isthmus is named, which only three, quarters of-a-mile in breadth, separates the Manukao from the Tamaki. Immediately above this neck of land, and completely commanding it, rise three solid volcanic cones, springing up from the centre of a more ancient crater, which forms a perfect wet ditch round them, as the intervening space, except in one spot, is a deep swamp filled with ranpo, a species of bulrush, which always indicates the perpetual presence of water. These hills, like all the others, are formed into terraces, and have been occupied as pa's, or strong-holds. If held by troops they would form an impregnable position, as the country around is perfectly open, and cannon planted on them, or even musquetry, would sweep the isthmus. A canal might be cut here, but not so advantageously as at the spot formerly mentioned, since the creek leading to it from the Tamaki is narrow, whereas the main body of the river passes the border of the plain. However, an accurate survey will determine the comparative merits of the two lines, when the anticipated canal is about to be formed. These hills and the adjacent grounds are covered with grass, and a large flock of sheep grazing over them, as yet an unusual sight in New Zealand, gave quite a pastoral air to the scene.
The house and farm of Mr. Fairburn, formerly a member of the Church Missionary Society, is situated just to the South of the isthmus. He claimed the vast tract of land lying between the Manukao, the Tamaki, and the wooded ranges to the south, but this claim was not recognized by the Commissioners appointed to investigate such claims: however, subsequently, he and his family were permitted to select 5600 acres out of their ci-devant principality, for which they have obtained Crown-Grants. This tract appears to lave been a sort of "debateable land", among the neighbouring tribes, each of whom preferred a claim to it, so to settle their disputes without compromising their dignity, by being seemingly compelled to give it up, for they are most tenacious in their claims to land, they gave it over to Mr. Fairburn, receiving various articles of trade as an acknowledgement. There are a great many acres under cultivation about the house, and a good crop of wheat was then on the ground, which if it can flourish there without the slightest shelter, for the wind from every point of the compass sweeps over it, may calm the fears that have arisen in the minds of the settlers, who fancy that their crops would suffer from the exposed nature of most of the ground in the vicinity of Auckland, natural or artificial shelter would be, no doubt, advantageous, but it does not appear to be indispensible to agricultural success, and indeed the latter, in the form of white-thorn hedges, might be extensively raised as the thorn grows with great vigor, and can be propogated by cuttings, which is not the case in England, so that the farmer having one enclosure, might, in course of time, easily complete the rest, without much expense, by merely devoting a few days in the winter to preparing and planting his cuttings in a corner of his garden. Some cattle, whose condition would have done credit to any countiy, were feeding on the natural pasture around the house, A long plain opens out beyond Otahu, of several square miles in extent, stretching far to the Eastward, at the back of the hills which bound the Tamaki, and sweeping Westward round the base of Maungari and along the shores of the Manukao by Pukaki, until it meets the Papakura ranges. It is covered with fern and grass, affording excellent feed for cattle, numbers of which were scattered over it, to the manifest improvement of the pasture, for I observed a great change in that respect since I had traversed it, three years previously--much of the fern had disappeared and was replaced by grass. Indeed the rapid manner in which pastures are formed in this part of New Zealand, must be seen to be believed, and bids fair to make this division of the island one of the finest grazing countries in the Southern hemisphere. The whole of this trect will, ere long, be converted into one rich pasture-ground, unless indeed it be employed for agricultural purposes, to which it is equally well adapted, being composed of a friable clay, that only requires to be well broken up and exposed to the air, to produce crops of any species of grain.
The whole of this tract, with the exception of Mr. Fairburn's property, some Native land at the settlement of Pukake, and Mr. Clendon's grant of ten thousand acres to the South-western angle, the most barren of the whole, is in the hands of Government. This latter grant was made to that gentleman in lieu of the purchase money promised to him for the site of the Government Town of Russell, at the Bay of Islands, now abandoned in favour of Kororarika, which has taken its name and is again rising from its ashes, the result of John Heki's onslaught. Those who are curious in such matters, may edify themselves by perusing the pages of the "New Zealand Journal", where they will see a detailed, but not very veracious, account of this affair, under the name of "the Russell-Clendon-Hobson job". It is not crossed by a made road, but the drays going to and from the cattle stations established at various points, have formed a track which is perfectly passable during the summer, and by a little drainage, might be converted into a tolerable road even in the winter.
After traversing a perfect level for some miles, broken only by one hollow, which conducts the drainage of a swamp to a creek of the Tamaki that pierces far inland, we reached a low undulating ridge, behind which lies the Native settlement of Pukake, which we skirted for some distance, until we approached the first rise of the wooded ranges, that branch off from the hills bordering the Wairao river, at the foot of which is situated a solitary settler's house, with several enclosed fields under crop, and to which a long line of fine milch cows were slowly wending their way to the evening's milking. Due West from this spot, and near the shores of the Manukao, two volcanic cones shoot up, terraced in the usual manner, these were strong-holds of the Akita, and the Ngniwi, two powerful tribes, now reduced by the former ceaseless attacks of their fierce and warlike neighbors, to a small remnant who inhabit Pukake and Papakura-- the open nature of the country and the easy access to it on all sides by water, rendered them very vulnerable to the inroads of the Waikato and Ngtipaua, and even the more distant Ngapuhi, who extended their marauding and murderous excursions to every part of the island, in those days, when every man's hand seems to have been against his neighbour. War appears to have been a passion, not, it wonld seem, carried on in any systematic manner, but dictated by caprice. Tribes apparently in alliance would suddenly join a common enemy, in making war on their quondam allies-- indeed the whole island was one scene of rapine and bloodshed, and that too, to a comparatively late period.
The dray-road which we had hitherto followed, ascends the ridge to the farms of some settlers, lying farther inland, who, finding that their distance from Auckland, and the difficulty of conveying their produce there, did not repay them for their outlay, abandoned them. They had imagined that by purchasing land from Mr. Clendon, at a much lower rate than that fixed by Government, as the minimum price for land more conveniently situated, they would overcome the disadvantage of distance. Now, this is an error into which immigrants are very likely to fall, for the bare idea of possessing the fee-simple of land, is so seductive to men accustomed only to rent it, that it seems to blind them to every inconvenience attending its locality. In fact, wild land in a new country, is of very little value when the expense of bringing it into cultivation is calculated, unless it is contiguous to markets, or of extraordinary feitility--and indeed anomalous as it may appear, a country may be too fertile, as, in many parts of the United States, crops may be raised with such ease and in such abundance as to create the evil of a supply exceeding the demand, and unless the producer has some extraneous outlet for what he raises, as a foreign market, it is rendered absolutely valueless. It is perhaps fortunate that the soil of New Zealand is not generally so rich as to make the growth of grain almost spontaneous, but exacts so much labor, and consequently so many hands to carry it on, as will always afford occupation to a rural population, and prevent an over-abundant supply from the expenses of cultivation, at the same time that the price of grain, if raised by Europeans, will never become too low for the advantageous investment of capital, nor for the employment of labour at a reasonable rate.
We diverged from this road to follow a more direct Native path to the settlement of Papakura, which crossing the spurs of the range, sloping down to the Manukao, each being separated from the other by a swampy stream, filling up the hollows, makes winter travelling very unpleasant, as I had before experienced, from the necessity of wading through them but now, from the absence of rain for so long a period, they were nearly dry. The soil of these hills appeared to be a strong clay, now baked by the sun as hard as a brick, but the vigorous growth of the fern and shrubs that covered it, shewed its productive powers. After a walk of two miles over this undulating ground, we reached the forest that crowns their summits, on the skirts of which was situated one of the deserted farms to which allusion has been made--the fields were fast returning to a state of nature, in a country where the growth of indigenous shrubs is so luxuriant, but they still shewed patches of English rye-grass, of which superior pasturage some fine cattle were taking advantage. A steep descent through a wood leads to a stream and the ruins of a saw mill, which had been erected by the proprietor of the deserted farm, who with incredible labour and perseverance had carried the materials from a branch of the Tamaki to this spot, under the impression that the cheapness of the land would induce the formation of an extensive settlement, but as he did not possess the capital, nor could he command the labour necessary to form a substantial dam, the first winter flood carried his work away, and there being no appearance of the anticipated settlement, he did not repair it, and it remains a monument of unfortunate speculation. An extensive semicircular opening in the forest on our left, shewed the site of two other abandoned farms, but they are prettily situated on a gentle slope, with a good aspect, and no doubt at some future time will be again brought under the plough. After crossing this opening and a few hundred yards of forest we emerged into open ground, and came in sight of the clump of tall trees which surround the settlement of Papakura, lying at the head of a branch of the Manukao, and at the embouchure of an extensive valley, which runs far Eastward into the bosom of the wooded hills. From this spot the whole of the Manukao was brought into view, glancing under the setting sun, whose level rays were pouring a flood of light between the Heads of Manukao, as the lofty hills that form the portals to the estuary are called, now in deep shadow, purpling the fern, and gleaming on all the salient points of the wooded hills, which lie between the Manukao and the Waikato. It was a glorious scene, but wanted life to give it that interest which a cultivated country covered with towns and villages always imparts. A gradual descent oyer undulating fern hills, leads to Papakura, and about a mile and a half from the settlement, a small river, brawling oyer a rocky bed of coarse sandstone, descends from the neighbouring hills. It was dark before we reached our destination, in doing which we strayed from the path, and had to find our way as we best could, through tall fern and scrub, and the remains of fallen trees, which always encumber the ground around a Maori settlement, who in clearing for cultivation, take the wholesale method of burning the trees as they stand, planting between the stumps, and sometimes not even drawing aside the fallen branches and half-burnt trunks.
As Papakura is only an occasional residence of the tribe to whom it belongs they were absent, but our Natives who had preceded us, opened the doors of the ware without ceremony, and we found a good bed of fern, and a fire, in the one we were to occupy.
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Notes from a Journal
In excursions of this nature, the 'menage' is necessarily very limited. A tin pot serves as tea-kettle and tea-pot, and each man carries a 'pannikin' for a cup and drinking vessel, a few tin plates, knives, forks, and spoons, complete the equipment. Tea, sugar, and salt, generally carried in canvas bags, a piece of bacon, some biscuits, occasionally a little rice, form the Commissariat--potatoes are always to be procured at native settlements, and a small pig may from time to time be purchased, which if cooked in a hangi, or native oven, though apparently a rude process, yet by the joint action of fire and steam, produces a very savoury dish, and is infinitely preferable to rough broiling or frying, a mode of cooking to which, from habit, Englishmen usually resort. The incidental expenses of the journey, are chiefly defrayed by tobacco, which though an inconvenient, is yet the 'current coin' of the interior: from twenty to thirty pounds, according to the intended length of the journey, must be carried, and it is necessary to keep a sharp eye on the bag, to prevent 'Bank robbery'. Two or three pounds in silver, is also required. The best dress is a blue woollen shirt, strong duck trousers, and in summer, a straw hat. A carpet-bag containing some changes of linen, &c. and an extra pair of shoes, with two good blankets wrapped up in a Maori mat, is the personal baggage, and if luxurious, a small tent, capable of being carried by one man, may be added. If possible it is better to hire natives to perform the whole journey, to avoid the inconvenience of procuring baggage-carriers at the various settlements, where, as in more civilized communities, the natives are quite ready to take advantage of a necessity, and much time is lost in making such arrangements. There is an old proverb which says that 'only a fool pays beforehand, and a rogue not at all'. A sensible man, and a gentleman, would be guilty of neither, but he may be so importuned, as sometimes to pay a portion of the arranged sum before the journey is completed; if he should chance to do so, he lays himself open to be abandoned, as the natives often get weary of a protracted journey. The best plan is to make an agreement to pay at the termination of the tour, and to strictly adhere to it.
Wrapped in our blankets, and making a pillow of our carpet-bags, we slept soundly until the morning.
Dec. 23. Our reveille was the song of the birds from the adjacent wood, which commencing with the earliest dawn, is prolonged until the sun rises, when, having paid their homage to that glorious luminary, they suddenly become almost silent. Although their song is
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not continuous like that of our singing birds, and is restricted to a few, clear, simple notes, yet their combination forms a pleasing harmony, which is particularly alluded to by Captain Cook, on his first discovery of these islands.
The toilette in the bush occupies but little time--a towel, soap, comb, and tooth-brush, with the nearest water, stand in lieu of the various articles that fill a modern dressing-room. The razor being either dispensed with entirely, and the beard and moustaches permitted to grow, or it is only used hebdomadally, if we may coin a term, when the party make Sunday a day of rest; a practice which it is to be hoped most travellers follow, upon principle, without being compelled to do so by the reluctance, and often the absolute refusal of the missionary natives to travel on that day.
[Our course, 22 hitherto south, now turned westward, leading to the settlements of Tuamate and Tuakau. In the afternoon]
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The valley which runs inland from Papakura, is perfectly level, and is dotted here and there with small clumps of Kahitakea, generally in a decaying state. The soil, which is extremely light, almost a powder resembling Scotch snuff, has, probably, been formed by the decomposition of the fallen trees of the forest which once covered its surface. It must however be of good quality, for the fern grows tall and strong. Two miles from the settlement there is a wood of various trees, and about a mile farther on, there is an isolated clump of a similar description. Our course, hitherto South, now turned westward, along a path mid-way between the wooded range dividing the basins of the Manukao and the Waikato, and a vast extent of undulating country opened out to the West, extending from the shores of the Manukao, to the foot of the dividing range, a distance of several miles, almost entirely bare of wood, with the exception of a few small clumps, and some wedge-shaped masses, which extended from the hills; a good deal of flax was scattered over the surface, and in the swampy hollows. About five miles from Papakura, we reached the banks of the Awa Paheke (the slippery river), so named, from the place where the path crosses it, being at the point of junction of the fresh and salt water, consequently the smooth sandstone rocks, which form its bed, are covered with fuci, or sea weeds of so slimy and slippery a nature, that considerable caution is required, in fording it, to avoid a fall. It being ebb tide, the fresh water, from the previous dry weather, was scarcely ancle deep--higher up there are deep pools, and its banks are prettily fringed with wood. It falls into the Karaka Creek, an inlet from the Manukao, and at high water, when the tide ascends far beyond the ford, boats and canoes may push on to near the foot of the range, a fact which makes this part of the country of much greater value than it otherwise would be, as timber for fencing and fuel, the chief wants in this bare tract, could be easily carried to the banks, and conveyed down to where it might he required. That the tide ascends, much higher, we had practical proof, for although it was running downward with a clear, rapid, and apparently fresh stream, we found, on attempting to drink, that it was quite brackish. It is also called by the Natives Horomonga--the act of swallowing--from a tradition that a Taniwa, or sea-monster, devoured two men at this spot. It would seem that some amphibious animal, probably of the alligaior species, must have existed in these islands at a remote period, as there are so many tales of this nature extant among the Aborigines; and some future Owen may have to reconstruct the frame-work of a monster of the deep, found on these shores, as the talented Professor has done the skeleton of the gigan-Moa, whose bones have been found on both these islands, and whose existence is orally handed down, long after the living birds have totally disappeared. Still keeping a westward cotuse, parallel with the hills, we left, to the north, a solitary clump of trees, one of the few that adorns this bare open country, and crossed two streams, tributaries to the Karaka Creek, running in very deep beds; although now comparatively shallow, they are both deep and broad in the winter, and can only be crossed by swimming, or wading up to the neck. At the first of these streams, a path strikes off southward to Maketu, a settlement of the Ngatipo, on the face of the hills, from whence there is a very precipitous and rugged track, through the forest, to Maungatawhiri, at the head of a creek of the same name which runs into the Waikato, and up which, during the greater part of the year, canoes can ascend. This route from the interior has been almost abandoned in favour of that by Tuamate, and Tuakau, to the former of which places the path now led, gradually inclining towards the base of the hills, where it is situated, and as we approached this settlement, the sweeping, undulating slopes we had hitherto traversed for some miles, gave place to knolls of an abrupt and conical form, which extended as far as the eye could reach westward, while the country towards the Manukao, still maintained its former character. This vast tract, which must consist of several hundred-thousand acres, is Government land, acquired by purchase from the Natives, and is all composed of a strong clay, with scarce a pebble over its whole surface, but it does not appear to he generally of a very fertile nature, judging by the stunted growth of the fern, and the prevalence of dwarf manuka, though there are, apparently, many rich bottoms, which only require drainage to become so. The chief defect is, the almost total absence of wood, and shelter of any description--hence it was of no value to the Natives, who were easily induced to part with it--indeed they seldom dispose of land, which possesses the indispensable requisites of wood and water. Timber of the finest description, no doubt, exists in the forests, but settlers living near the shore, would be compelled to draw it a considerable distance, the time and labor expended on which would be a heavy tax, that advantages of soil and position, would scarce balance. It is not likely, therefore, that much of this land, unless adjacent to the forest, will be quickly disposed of, and there the purchasers will labor under the disadvantage of being distant from water-carriage. It may, probably, at some future period, be leased as pasture-ground, and although there is very little grass on it at present, yet, as I have before observed, pasturage seems to follow the track of cattle, and in this way it may become ultimately valuable.
After crossing a small brook, the commencement of one of the streams we had formerly forded, we entered the little valley at the head of which the settlement of Tuamate is situated.
...we entered the little valley at the head of which the settlement of Tuamate 23 is situated. It consists merely of a few huts erected on the edge of the cultivation, formed for the supply of travellers passing to and fro, between Auckland and Tuakau, on the Waikato. It belongs to the Ngatitea, 24 one of the Waikato tribes, and it was painful to see the usual destructive way in which they were carrying on their cultivation, by setting fire to the wood-hundreds of noble trees were lying about, charred and blackened, or standing deprived of bark and leaves, and some were still burning. This is of course a necessary operation, in clearing forest land, but as the natives seldom grow more than three or four crops on the same ground, the work of destruction is continually going on, and the forests are daily diminishing.
Our party, after a walk of fifteen miles, each of the natives carrying from 50 to 60 lbs. weight, were pretty sharp set, and great was the disappointment when the inhabitants of the place churlishly, as we thought, and so contrary to native custom, refused to sell us any potatoes, stating that the dry weather had so injured their crop, that if they disposed of any, they would have none for themselves: all our arguments were unavailing, both tobacco and money had lost their 'open sesame' charm, we were therefore compelled to wait,
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Notes from a Journal
hungry and discontented, until a party we sent to Maketu 25 in search of food, returned, which they did, after some time, bringing, however, a very insufficient supply for so large a party. One of our natives observed with some humour, that asking these people for food, was like Moses asking the Almighty to draw water from the rock. A rude meal, formed of potatoes strung on the long stems of the fern, and half roasted on the embers, was soon dispatched, but the delay in procuring food prevented us from attempting to reach Tuakau that night, which we, otherwise, might easily have done; so shaking the dust from our feet, on leaving Tuamate, we entered the forest, and hurried on, to reach a convenient place for a bivouack.
The luxuriant beauty of the New Zealand forests, almost equals those of the tropics, indeed the presence of the graceful fern-trees, and elegant nikau palms, give them quite a tropical aspect. There is scarcely a bare stem to be seen, even the tallest are embraced by a variety of twining plants, parasites and creepers, amongst which the Kia-kia, 26 decked at every joint with bunches of iris-shaped leaves, and the mangamanga, 27 a creeping fern, are the most conspicuous; the kareo, 28 also, after forming a network of cane-like stems, hangs its bunches of glossy leaves pendant from every bough, and many others of equal beauty join to form a verdant arch, midway between the spreading branches of the noble trees to which they cling. Each decaying trunk is covered with mosses and lichens of the richest hues, while a perfect shrubbery of lesser trees, among which the beautiful laurel-leaved karaka is prominent, fills up every otherwise vacant space, and an endless variety of the most delicate forms, cover the ground. This constant succession of beautiful objects repays the toil of progress, which is both slow and painful, for the roots of the trees being chiefly horizontal, form a hard and slippery network, over which it requires the utmost patience and caution to pass without falling, and is certainly the most inconvenient road I ever travelled. Besides, the trunks of fallen trees continually cross the road, over which, if low enough, it is necessary to clamber, and under which, if too high, to creep, while the pointed branches and the tough stems of the creepers, unless a sharp eye is kept on these
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obstacles, bring one up, as sailors say 'all standing', with a jerk that is far from being pleasant.
The path, after leaving Tuamate, winds occasionally through forest, sometimes across open, fern-covered glades, the outlines of the hills being swelling, and easy of ascent, many of them being flat-topped, which form extensive table-lands. We had to ford two swamps, one of which was very deep, and which had to be crossed on branches of manuka, resting on the stumps of trees, sunk two feet under water, but this might have been avoided by heading it; 29 but the natives, to whom wading is an easy matter, preferred this mode of passage to the trouble of making a detour. I observed near this place, boulders of basalt, scattered over the hill side, the first I had seen since leaving the Manukau. After thus walking for four or five miles, the setting sun warned us to halt and prepare our bivouack, which we did on the side of a hill, from which we had an extensive view commanding the Manukau, the country we had traversed during the day, pierced by creeks, the hills around Auckland, and the triple cones of the island of Rangitoto, at the entrance of the Waitemate, while immediately around and below us, lay range after range of wood-covered hills. We had joined a party on the same journey, and were twenty-six in number--the whole being engaged in lighting fires, spreading fern for beds, and cooking, formed a picturesque and lively scene. After dispatching their simple meal of potatoes, the natives lighted their pipes, and arranging themselves around their fires, commenced as is their custom, joking and laughing with each other, and formed a very merry party. One could scarcely believe that these men, so light-hearted and joyous, could, under excitement perpetrate the most sanguinary deeds. They are not indeed easily provoked to anger, excepting some insult of a nature that violates their superstitions, or peculiar customs, is passed on them; of this we had an instance. Having heard angry voices at a fire, we enquired the cause, and found that one of the party thought himself grossly insulted by a remark made by one of his companions. It appeared that the natives in crossing the plain to Papakura, had taken a short cut across a creek, where one of them had stopped to search in the mud for pipi, a species of mussel, and the offensive remark was, that the spot where he had been thus engaged, looked like the mark of a pig. Now, any comparison to animals such as a pig, is considered most disparaging, and hence the
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Notes from a Journal
joke was taken in high dudgeon, and it was some time before he could be appeased. Before we lay down to rest, the Christian natives formed a small circle, and one of them repeated several prayers, this simple religious service being concluded by the whole joining in singing the evening hymn. I am aware that these extempore religious services in such places, and under such circumstances, are sneered at by many, as mere formal fanaticism, but I must confess I listened to it with feelings of deep interest, as the fulfilment of our Saviour's prophecy, that His Gospel should be preached at the uttermost ends of the earth, and I mentally joined those hitherto poor heathens, in their tribute of praise and thanksgiving, under the starlit roof which covers the universal church. Wrapped in our blankets we lay down on our bed of fern, with our feet opposite the fire, which was kept in by any of the party who might chance to awake during the night.
Dec. 24. The birds gave the usual signal for rising, at daybreak, and after we had dried our blankets, which were saturated with dew, and arranged our packages, we proceeded on our way to Tuakau. The vast extent of low country we had seen the preceding evening, lay shrouded in mist, the higher hills which rose above it looking like islands in an ocean, with their brown sides lit up by a brilliant sun, which we from our elevation also enjoyed....
[MISSING TEXT ADDED FROM THE "NEW ZEALANDER" 22/09/1847]
After walking briskly for a couple of miles, through alternate forest and open ground, overspread with shrubs and fern, we reached the highest ridge of the range, as the waters of a small stream which issued from a swamp near our path, ran Southward. Basaltic boulders were scattered over the surface, or lying in large clusters, and the soil appeared rich, judging from the gigantic size and vigorous growth of the forest trees, which consisted chiefly of Tawa, Rata, Rimu, Puriri) occasionally Kahikatea, but very rarely Kauri; indeed this noble tree is scarce in these forests, and is seldom seen beyond the line of the Waikato. The oriental looking Nikau, or New Zealand palm, and the graceful Korau, or tree fern, arranged themselves into clumps beneath their shade, especially the latter, whose long feathery leaves, spreading out from a tall, imbricated stem, the ground beneath being thickly strewed with the dry, decayed ones of previous seasons, together formed natural couches, beneath a beautiful alcove, which almost tempted repose, however urgent the necessity for pressing onward. The height of the fern, the Tupakihi, and Koromiko, in the open ground, showed the soil to be of equal richness with that in the forest. Scarcely any Native flax was to be seen on the hills, nor even near the swamps, its locality seemed to be the low grounds we had passed on the previous day. The path led along the side of a winding valley, occasionally through wood, but more generally over open ground, often sprinkled with grass, and Towi towi, which, with the various shrubs and plants that abounded everywhere, would make good pasture ground for cattle. They could reach it from Auckland without difficulty, or they might, if brought from Australia, be easily disembarked on the shores of the Manukao. Subsidiary vales opened into this main valley from either hand, each furnishing a small stream to swell one which coursed along its bed. I remarked a basaltic dyke of regular columnar formation, cropping out and forming a small waterfall, across one of these smaller streams. After two hours walk from the ridge, that forms the water-shed, we halted on the banks of a small stream, issuing from a vale, for breakfast. From thence we followed its course to the main stream in the centre of the valley, where I first observed coarse sandstone rock, and a good deal of sand in its bed. Our descent was now rapid over fern ground, and the hills on the southern bank of the Waikato began to open out. We crossed several fine brooks, running between coarse greenstone boulders, and sometimes masses of basalt cropped out. In about an hour and a-half from our last resting place, we
[We crossed magnificently timbered hills between the Manukau and Waikato, and] came in sight of the cultivations of Tuakau and the Waikato River, which shewed several reaches, winding through swampy ground to the north, and bounded to the south by partially wooded hills, but at this distance it had nothing imposing or picturesque in its appearance. After traversing a wood and some ragged potato plantations we reached Tuakau about three o'clock.
The whole of the ground we had passed over in the previous part of the day, both from soil and outline, is well suited for cultivation--the slopes of the hills, with few exceptions are gentle, and the summits are often perfect plateaus, of many hundred acres in extent--those which are not wooded, would require only to have the koromiko and other small shrubs rooted out and the fern burnt off, to be put under the plough. A dray road might be constructed, with the greatest ease, across the range, as far as levels are concerned, but there might be some difficulty in removing the gigantic timber of the forests, whose roots of great thickness and length, are matted together like an iron network; besides, the friable nature and depth
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of the soil would render a road almost impassable in the winter, unless it were metalled, which might indeed be easily done, by means of the basalt boulders scattered over the adjacent hills, but this would be too expensive a proceeding to be thought of in the present state of the Colony; it would however be perfectly passable during the summer, and at any rate, a bridle-road, for the passage of cattle, might be readily made, at a comparatively trifling expense.
We often hear of chiefs and slaves at Auckland, but there it is often difficult to distinguish the rangatira from the taurekareka, but on this journey I had living exemplifications of the two classes, in the persons of a young chief the son of Pakuru, the principal chief of the Ngatiawa, of Kawhia, and his slave boy. He himself was a handsome lad of fifteen, who had been to Auckland for the important purpose of buying some European clothes and a pair of shoes, in order to ride a race on one of his father's horses, the plate not being, as may be supposed, a cup, emulating that of the Derby, but six pigs. This young gentleman seemed fully aware of his own importance, and strutted on, followed by his poor diminutive attendant, who, from his subdued look and meagre frame, was the very personification of slavery, and who was tottering under a pack that I should have considered a good load. He sat silent at meals, in the rear of the party, receiving thankfully the coarsest part of the fare thrown to him, and I never saw him smile but once, when I gave him, in compassion, a portion of my breakfast, which he seemed almost afraid to accept, until an unwilling permission was granted by the proud young stripling his master.
The settlement of Tuakau consists of a few houses, within a stockade, situated in the centre of a semicircular hollow, whose two extremities abut on the river, and enclose an area of a few acres, gently sloping down to the water's edge, allowing canoes to be drawn up on the beach, which the precipitous and thickly wooded banks for a considerable distance on either hand, do not permit. This advantage was probably the origin of its formation, and the cause of a route being traced across the range to the Manukau side, where the hills are of a much more accessible character than those lying between Maungatawhiri, 30 and Maketu, which, until within the last three years, was the usual route from the Waikato country to the Waitemate. Here we had evidence of the source of the river in a volcanic region, in the rounded masses of pumice stone, which
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were floating on its surface or lining the beach. The somewhat unfavourable opinion we had formed of the Waikato, from a distant view, was completely changed as we now stood on its banks. It is truly a noble river, as broad as the Thames at Battersea, deep, clear, and flowing, with a gentle current, between beautifully wooded banks. The people of Tuakau, like those of most ports, for we may call it such, as regards its position and use, were very exorbitant in their demands for food, and a monstrous charge they attempted to make for having permitted a pig, which had been left by one of our party as a store for the voyage up the river, to run about the place, but who had foraged for himself, was nearly the occasion of a fracas. Now it is never customary to expect any remuneration for so trifling an accommodation, and it was accordingly resisted, and our party mustering stronger than theirs, the object of dispute was killed, cleaned, and shipped on board a canoe, by some of our people, while the rest were vociferously discussing the question. Tuakau is twenty-six miles from the Waikato Heads... 31
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and the tide only ascends seventeen miles; the current in the summer runs at the rate of a mile and a-half in an hour, but it is much more rapid in the winter, when the river rises twelve feet, and often much higher, flooding all the low grounds, without however doing any damage, for it rather enriches them by a deposit of mud, and is slowly elevating their surface. Here the hill side was pointed out to me, on which the late bloody skirmish took place, between the Ngatitipao tribe, who live at the Heads, and the Ngatipo, who inhabit the banks of the river, as far as Taupiri, lying a few miles down the water, on the left bank. The land itself is of little value, but it became invaluable when each party thought their honor was concerned, in maintaining the boundary they conceived to be theirs. It had been a subject of dispute for seventeen years, and the Missionaries, on more than one occasion, had prevented a collision between the disputants. They met on this occasion, ostensibly for a korero, on the ground itself, and apparently without arms, but these they had with them placed in the adjacent fern. As may be well supposed, the stifled spirit of animosity soon changed discussion into altercation, and abuse supplied the place of argument. Words were at length too feeble a mode of expressing their mutual exasperation and excitement, and the young men challenged each other to wrestle, in this trial of strength, one of them received a hurt in the spine, which paralyzed him, a relation of the hurt man struck the offender and drew blood, this fatal sign roused their hitherto restrained passions, they flew to their arms, and a most deadly conflict eusued--they discharged their musquets almost in contact--twenty were killed on the spot, and a great many wounded, at length the Ngatipo retreated but were not pursued, the victors being satisfied by retaining possession of the disputed ground. There was no instance of cannibalism as in former wars, the wounded were allowed to crawl, or be carried off, and the dead were all decently buried. This affair was a very convincing proof of the pertinacity with which the New Zealanders maintain their claims to land, and it shows that any attempt on the part of our Government to occupy as Demesne of the Crown, lands not actually in cultivation, as recommended by the Select Committee appointed three years since, to investigate the affairs of New Zealand, will be met with the most determined opposition, even if such an attempt was not an infraction of a solemn treaty, which no sophistical arguments as to whether the Natives understood the full import of the term Sovereignty or not, can ever controvert. They understood well enough that clause by which their lands were guaranteed to them, but so doubtful were the assembled Chiefs, of our good faith, that it was only after reiterated assurances on the part of the Missionaries who acted as interpreters, of the sincerity of our intentions, that they were induced to sign it.
The two cardinal virtues of good humour and patience, are indispensable to the traveller in New Zealand, who wishes to move with any comfort, the first is particularly acceptable to the natives, who are naturally of a joyous and good-humoured temperament, and who abhor a tangata riri, as they call an irritable man; combined, they enable a man to get along smoothly, amidst delays which he must inevitably encounter, with a race who do not value time themselves, and cannot understand the importance which we attach to it. We had to practise both at Tuakau, for, wishing to push on as far as the Pukatea that night, we could not succeed in getting our people embarked, until it was too late to think of reaching that place, and we were therefore compelled to restrict our voyage to Paparama, the settlement of Mr. Marshall, 32 about four miles up the river.
Travelling by canoe is, perhaps, as easy a mode of conveyance, as can be imagined. There is generally sufficient space at the stern
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for lying extended at full length, if it be a large one, or at any rate in an easy position, and impelled by the vigorous arms of six or eight stout natives, who keep time by a merry and measured chaunt as they dip their paddles in the stream, it glides rapidly forward, with a pleasant easy motion, which enables the voyager to note and view the passing scenery. He must however be prepared to bear with one of the native customs, which would not be the case if his conductors were an English boat's crew tugging steadily onwards, this is the continual stoppages to light their pipes from the fire-stick which is always kept burning, like the sacred fire, in the bottom of the canoe. They thus alternately pull vigorously, and rest on their paddles for the above-mentioned purpose. It is in vain to expostulate, smoke they must, and will, coute que coute! If another canoe happens to be in company, however, a trial of speed often causes them in the excitement of the moment to forget their usual wants, and a more rapid progress is in this way made.
In ascending the river from Tuakau, the banks on either hand rise to the height of several hundred feet, sometimes so abruptly from the watery edge, that one could almost fancy it would be easy to step from the canoe and ascend to the summit, on the dense foliage of the forest, that universally clothes them. At other places the hills recede, forming crescent-shaped vales or hollows, encircling a few acres of level ground, where families of natives had established themselves, and were preparing the ground for the autumnal or spring crop of potatoes, by their usual destructive mode of burning the wood; and though it was painful to see the fires, favoured by the dryness of the season, which rendered the underwood inflammable, eating their way upwards, and consuming hundreds of noble trees, far beyond the cultivations, yet the presence of these isolated plantations, shewed most forcibly the state of security which now existed in the country, as, formerly, the natives on the banks of the river were compelled to congregate for safety in pas, well fortified by stockades against hostile attacks to which they were continually liable, and which only permitted them to cultivate in the immediate vicinity of their defences, or in places not easily accessible to enemies. As we ascended, the river widened considerably, and the various reaches, with the surrounding scenery, often presented a beautiful coup d'oeil. We disembarked for the night at Paparama, on the right bank, five miles distant from Tuakau, and were hospitably received by Mr. Marshall, who has been settled for some time at this spot.
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A wooden bridge, or causeway, which must have been constructed with great labour, leads from the river bank, across some flooded ground, to one of those circular hollows I have described, and on a plateau which juts out from its steep sides, is situated his cottage, and certainly a more convenient and picturesque site for a house could not have been selected. A steep ascent leads from the back of his house to an extensive table-land, of the rich soil which always accompanies the trap formation; at the southern extremity of which, and entirely sheltered by woods from the prevailing winds, he has cultivated a few acres, chiefly by his own exertions. He finds it so difficult to retain natives for any time at a steady employment, that he has almost abandoned engaging them. In fact they can so easily maintain themselves by the produce of their own land, which only requires the attention and labour of a few weeks, and as they can obtain the few luxuries they require by the sale of pigs at Auckland, they are loath to abandon an independent mode of life for one of regular daily labour, unless tempted to it by high wages. As cheap labour is indispensable to a settler living so far from a market, Mr. M. has confined himself to growing wheat for his own consumption, which he grinds by a handmill, and directs his attention chiefly to rearing of cattle, for which he is most advantageously situated, having the command of an immense extent of table-land, conveniently dotted with woods. There is a most magnificent prospect from the summit of a rising ground near his farm--in front the great dividing chain between the Waikato country and the Manukau, covered with one continuous forest, stretched westward to the sandhills on the coast, and was lost, to the east, in the lofty hills above Waketewai, 33 on the Gulf of Hauraki, while the Taupiri, a subsidiary chain, running southward, formed a connecting link between these and the sea-range, as we may designate the mass of mountains, of many miles in breadth, lining the west coast, on a spur of which we now stood, the whole enclosing an immense basin, across which the glittering Waikato, issuing from the pass of Taupiri, through which it has forced its way, wound its serpentine course, having on its right bank the Maramarua plain, in the centre of which the Waikari 34 Lake, a splendid sheet of water, gleamed under the setting sun, and on the left bank an equal extent of level country was spread out, adorned by the picturesque lake of Wangape, 35 and several minor
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sheets of water. But in viewing this glorious natural scene, a sense of its almost utter solitude weighs heavily on the mind, for it is not inhabited by more than a few hundred natives, scattered here and there along the course of the river. What a field of employment for thousands in Britain and Ireland, who are now, by all accounts, pining in want and hopeless poverty; for an industrious population could reclaim and cultivate the greater part of this vast tract, and the natives, with the exception of certain spots, could be easily induced to part with it. The lakes have navigable, though tortuous, outlets to the river, into which numerous streams, equally available to boats or canoes, empty themselves. A more suitable place for extensive settlements could nowhere be found; and as I have before remarked, a canal might easily be formed to connect the Waikato with the Manukau, and by that means convey the produce of this country to a market. Imagination could almost picture the river covered with boats and barges, and lined with villages--the plains dotted with farmhouses, and the whole one scene of cultivation and animated industry. Table-lands, similar to the one on which we stood, extended eastward to the Pukatea, several miles distant, and stretched coastwise for a long way, until they merged with wooded hills; and in the course of time, though now chiefly covered with tall fern, thousands of cattle could find pasturage over them. A shower fell during the evening, the first since the beginning of November, a very unusual occurrence in New Zealand, where the dry season seldom sets in until the end of December.
Dec. 25. The morning was bright and beautiful, and resisting the invitation of our hospitable host to spend Christmas Day with him, we prepared to continue our voyage, by cutting extempore masts and booms, from the adjacent wood, making sails of our blankets, and twisting flax into ropes, in order to take advantage of a brisk sea-breeze which blew up the river.
A short distance beyond Paparama, a wall of trap-rock rises abruptly from the left bank, running parallel to the river for half a mile, and on the opposite side, a stratified sandstone rock projects, covered with shrubs and creeping plants, forming, together, a very picturesque pass. Islands now began to appear, generally covered with flax and towi towi, 36 a species of reed with long drooping leaves, and bearing evidence of having been submerged in the winter-floods, notwithstanding which, they were formerly cultivated
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by the natives, who took advantage of the summer for that purpose, but they abandoned them during the incursions of the Ngapuhi, under the famous chiefs Honghi and Pomare, and they have ever since remained uncultivated. The different reaches of the river, as we ascended, were very beautiful, varied by projecting bluffs, running up into wooded knolls, which occasionally receded, and permitted several acres of rich alluvial soil, covered with kahikatea, ti palms, and a variety of shrubs, to occupy the space between the river and their base, while wood-crowned hills closed in and formed a fine background. A long flat island, covered with the same rich vegetation as the others, now divided the stream, which would otherwise have been very broad, into two comparatively narrow channels.
It is impossible to note distances on the river, from the irregular manner, as to progress, in which canoes ascend, sometimes sailing, at other times paddling, but always making unnecessary stoppages. I shall not, therefore, attempt to estimate the extent of each day's voyage, further than by mentioning the time of our embarkation in the morning, and disembarkation at night.
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As we approached the Maungatawhiri Creek, the hills on either hand declined in height, and were more bare of wood, and their recession on the right bank of the river, displayed a considerable extent of alluvial land, covered with Kahikatea; before reaching the creek, however, a spur (rom the dividing chain, projecting southward, causes a considerable bend in the river, and forms a very picturesque object, being richly dotted with wood, amongst which I observed some Kauri, and it gradually ascends to the lofty summit of Maungatawhiri, from whose base the creek descends, and from whence, as I have before observed, a path leads across the chain by Maketu to Auckland. A short distance beyond this creek, the river inclines permanently southward, leaving the base of the great dividing chain, from which however ranges of low bare hills strike out, running parallel to it, at a greater or less distance from its banks, the intervening space being occupied by rich alluvial flats, covered with kahikatea. On the opposite banks, also, low hills, sparingly wooded, accompany its course, sometimes sloping down abruptly to the water's edge, or receding inland, with similar flats, covered however with a greater variety of wood from their elevation rendering them less swampy, and crowded with beautiful shrubs and creepers. Amidst scenery of this character we ascended for some time,
... We ascended for some time, the channel of the river being often narrowed by islands, from whose points long sand-banks extended, where stumps of trees were embedded, to avoid running against which, some care was required. We passed several canoes from Maungatautari, and the Waipa, bound for Tuakau, with cargoes of pigs for the Auckland market. They shot rapidly past us, aided by the current, singing the usual boat-song; one however, in which were some acquaintances of our people, stopped to inform us that it was currently reported on the Waipa, that the Ngatirakaua of Taupo were mustering to join their countrymen at Wanganui, to seize upon the magazine there. 38 As self-interest makes the Waipa tribes very friendly, the usual kakino 39 expressive of disapprobation at the Taupo people, was loudly vociferated by the whole. They
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very generously recruited our commissariat by a present of smoked eels, strung on long rods, which are a very great delicacy with them, although rather too strong a food for an European stomach. We 'reciprocated' as the Yankees say, by giving them some figs of tobacco, and we parted mutually pleased. A very broad reach of the river opens out beyond a pa on the left bank, called Puketau, and we landed on a grassy flat on the same side almost overhung by the pendant branches of a kowhai, which generally affects the waterside, and is one of the most graceful of the New Zealand trees, particularly in the spring, when it is covered with large yellow blossoms. Their appearance is the signal for the natives to plant their potatoes, as the catkin of the hazel informs the English farmer that he may sow his barley. We had neither goose nor mince pies, but it was a glorious day--the air was balmy, tempered by a gentle breeze from the river--the scenery was beautiful, and we relished our simple meal, 'under the greenwood tree', as much as if we could have commanded the Christmas fare of an alderman. Nevertheless, the name of the day brought with it the reminiscences of early years, at our paternal fireside, linked with so many associations, that notwithstanding the enlivening nature of every object around, we could scarce repress some melancholy thoughts. But not so our companions. After making a hearty meal on their eels, they filled their pipes, which are described in advertisement as 'with large bowls, for New Zealand', and were so full of fun and merriment, as they lay extended around us, that it was with difficulty we could get them to re-embark.
After a sharp pull of an hour, we reached the Pukatea, a picturesque, wood-covered hill, with a base of trap-rock, which abuts boldly into the river, and so narrows its stream, that a very strong, and if there be wind, rough current is formed. The hills on the left bank which had hitherto accompanied the river, now turn abruptly southward, and then trending eastward until they almost connect themselves with the Taupiri range, enclose the southern portion of that vast plain, which I have described as being seen from Paparama. On the right bank, ridges of low bare hills, still rise at various distances from the river, having however flats of considerable extent at their base. Here the picturesque scenery we had so long enjoyed ceased, and a tamer, though more useful, tract of country began to appear, for the hills which I have described as accompanying the course of the river on the right, are mere isolated ridges, having the great plain of the Maramarua in their rear, and indeed are so low,
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that when seen from a height as at Paparama, [they] are confounded with the plain, which appears one vast level surface.
Immediately beyond the Pukatea, the river, no longer impeded in its course by hills whose bases are rocky, has cut for itself a very wide channel in the soft subsoil of the banks, which consists of a pumiceous gravel, and at the same time becomes shallow. We reached Hora Hora 40 at sunset, passing, in our course, an island in the middle of the stream, which was once occupied as a pa, though now deserted. Many of the large palisades which enclosed it were still standing, and their size showed how impossible it must be to take a place by assault, similarly defended, without being previously breached by cannon, a fact of which we had convincing proof at Oheawae. 41 The pa of Hora Hora, which is stockaded, stands on level ground, sloping gently down to the water, and so little elevated that during the floods of last winter it was nearly submerged, the tops of the houses being alone visible above the water, but as it has a convenient landing place, and abundance of fine alluvial soil around, the natives persist in occupying it. It is the most easterly settlement of the Ngatipo, 42 a tribe who do not hold a very high character for morals, being chiefly Pagans, and they are accused and I believe with justice, of being great thieves, who do not scruple to boast of the depredations they commit, by pilfering from the shops in Auckland. Both the place and the people had so repulsive an appearance, that although urged to remain, and even offered a house for our accommodation, we determined after having some food cooked for our party, to push on, preferring rather to bivouack on the banks of the river, though a dense fog was rising, than to pass the night in so filthy a place.
The low hills I have described terminated opposite to Hora Hora, they are composed of a stiff clay, with some beds of a coarse lignite at their base. The river opens out a short distance from the pa, and [becomes] so shallow, that our natives were often obliged to jump into the water, and drag the canoe over the sand-banks, which they
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did with their usual noisy good humour. It now became so dark, from the density of the fog, that for fear of running on some of the stumps and snags which encumber its bed at this point, we disembarked near an old Maori settlement, containing a few ruinous huts, the thatch of which we took for our beds, and appropriated the wooden framework to our fires, and taking advantage of a dry sandy spot, we wrapped ourselves in our blankets, and notwithstanding the apparently uncomfortable nature of our resting place, slept soundly until the morning.
Dec. 26. I have described the melody of birds as awakening us on other occasions, but the noise of the various species of ducks which nestled on the river-side, the shrill screams of curlieus and other waders, and the sullen boom of the bittern from the adjacent swamps, in most inharmonious concert, broke our slumbers, and on rising, we found our blankets so saturated with the fog which still surrounded us, that it had almost penetrated our clothes, of which we had not divested ourselves, and the air was excessively cold. Though the sun was not risen, we had light enough to avoid the dangers of the river, and accordingly embarked.
The prudence of stopping for the night became visible as we advanced, for the canoes were not only often impeded in their course by sand-banks, which almost filled up the now broad bed of the river, but large stumps were standing even in the channel, at the distance of fifty yards from the shore, evidently the remains of a kahikatea forest, on which the river had encroached and destroyed, and it required both daylight and good management in the steersman to avoid these obstacles, so thickly were they placed. In the winter, however, the rise in the stream places these difficulties under water, so that canoes do, and large boats might, pass over them with perfect safety.
We paddled onwards to a small settlement on the left bank called Motutarata, belonging to a sept of the Waikatos called Ngaungau, where we landed. It consisted of a few huts and a ware, and was as usual surrounded by a stout palisade. This ware belonged to a pakeha Maori, as these Europeans are called by the natives, who having attached themselves to native women, either after the Maori fashion, or by a marriage celebrated by a missionary, live with them in their pas.
We aroused the people to get a fire, as we were suffering from cold and damp, and they very kindly kindled a large one, though wood
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was a very scarce article with them, for they informed us that they had none nearer than Taupiri, which is fifteen miles distant, and so were compelled to depend on a casual supply of driftwood, floated down by the winter floods. The whole course of the river, indeed, from the Pukatea to Taupiri, is almost bare of wood, which is one reason why the settlements are so few along a tract, whose rich alluvial soil would seem to be so well adapted for plantations.
Our host was a middle-aged man, who had been 18 years in the country, and had married the daughter of a chief of the Ngaungau. His wife was rather a good-looking woman, and he had a fine family of children, but who, in dress and manners, were scarcely distinguishable from their Maori relatives.
These men, who are generally deserters from whalers, or coasting vessels, often runaway convicts, who have found their way to the island: equivocal as their characters be, they may be said to have introduced a species of civilization, by building, as in this case, a better sort of ware, using stools and tables, having beds raised from the floor, some cooking utensils and drinking vessels, to supersede the native oven and calabash. Here we observed a fire-place and hearth, formed of square blocks of pumice, which is found of large size, and in great quantities, in the sub-soil of the surrounding country, which, having been swept down at some very remote period, from the distant volcanic country in which the Waikato has its source, has assisted to fill up the basin through which we were passing.
Our host was in great consternation at the ordinance lately passed by the Legislative Council, making it necessary for every person that lived on native land, to obtain a permissory license from the Governor, and of the provisions of which, the most absurd reports were current, such as that if they did not pay a tax of £10, per annum, they would be seized upon by the armed police, and put in jail at Auckland--the poor fellow said--'they might as well ask me for a thousand!'. We endeavoured to calm his fears, by assuring him that in the first place no definite sum for the license had been fixed, nor did we think that any would ever be exacted from persons situated like himself, and secondly that it appeared to be a mere registry, to ascertain what number and description of British subjects were residing in the interior. But the old rangatira, his father-in-law, was in high dudgeon, he questioned the Governor's right to interfere with any man living peaceably on his land, he quite lashed
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himself into a fury, and ended by saying, 'he would like to see the man who would come and carry his son-in-law to prison!'
These men were also at one time, a sort of middle-men, between the inhabitants of Auckland and the natives--they purchased their pigs, and driving them there, returned with tobacco and articles of European manufacture, which they retailed to the natives at an enormous profit, for successive droves of pigs. The natives were soon acute enough to see that they were trading to a disadvantage, and that by driving their pigs themselves into Auckland, they would save the middle-man's profit, and be able to select what they more particularly wanted. They now, therefore, generally make these journeys themselves, or if they should chance to sell their stock to the pig-jobbers, insist upon a price which leaves little profit to the purchaser in again disposing of them, consequently these men are now very poor, scarcely making more by their occasional trips to Auckland, than enables them to buy some clothes, and a few articles of luxury, as tobacco, tea, and sugar; still, as they can feed pigs in the bush, and generally have a few goats, and always plenty of potatoes, they manage, as to the mere necessaries of life, to live in abundance.
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"What are to become of my children, after my death--can they inherit their mother's land?" was a question which we really could not answer. It would certainly seem that in virtue of their maternal descent, they would be entitled to do so, whereas by their paternal descent, being British subjects, they would as such, be prohibited by the recent ordinance, from even living upon it, without a license, or a grant from the Crown, but this is a subject which will no doubt occupy the attention of the Colonial Legislature.
The fog having cleared away, we were favored with a most brilliant day, and just opposite, the ranges of low hills on the right hand were pointed out, which enclose the Waikari Lake, the exit of whose waters is by a stream which runs into the river midway between Hora Hora and Motutaruta, and which we had passed in the fog. A species of fresh-water mullet and flounders are said to be found in this lake at certain seasons, in great abundance. About a mile in our rear, similar hills enclose the Lake of Wangape, whose waters by a tortuous course, join the Waikato, not far from the Pukatea. The Natives talk of cutting a canal through a depression in these hills, and connecting the Lake more immediately with the Waikato, but it would appear to be an undertaking far beyond their powers.
The river is here very broad, but a few miles higher up a large island called Taipori exactly in the centre, divides it into two streams about a hundred yards wide and very deep. The low hills approach on either hand to within a mile and a half of the bank connected on one hand with the Taupiri range, on the other, with the great sea range, rich alluvial land lying between. On passing this island the river remains comparatively narrow, though still a noble stream, and it is seen issuing from the Taupiri pass bounded by picturesque wood covered hills, aud about three miles further on we reached the settlement of the Kupukupu at the mouth of the pass, where Abraham a brother of Te Wherowhero's resides, and who ferried us across to the opposite bank to show as a seam of coal which crops out from the face of a clayhill not more than three hundred yards from the shore. The seam has been partially exposed and appears to be a highly bituminized lignite, there are no indications of the true coal formation near it, neither sandstone nor limestone, indurated clay being superincumbent, and it seems to have been formed from an accumulation of Kauri, as I found some of the gum imbedded in it. Simular deposits are said to exist on the hill on the opposite bank of the river, and nearly at the same level, and a tract of country to be in combustion some miles to the west, resulting from beds of this substance. It burns with a flame, has a sulphurous odour, and leaves a white ash. Should it be found adapted to the use of steam-boats, it will ultimately become very valuable when they ply on the river, but at present it is not so, and would not repay the expense of transporting it to Auckland. It might be well however to have a thorough examination of the country by competent persons to ascertain the actual extent of the beds and their real value.
The hills at tue entrance of the pass slope down abruptly to the waters edge on the left bank, prettily wooded, but on the opposite side, narrow alluvial flat extends from their base to the shore, and they are equally covered with fine timber, this flat terminates about a mile further on, and the hills rise from the water, while a similar alluvial flat commences on the left bank at a bend of the river gradually extending to a quarter of a mile in breadth and the beautiful hill called Taupiri...
...The beautiful hill called Taupiri from which the range takes its name, now appears, one mass of living verdure, towering upwards, a perfect cone, overhanging and forming the eastern portal to the pass as it rises abruptly from the level country beyond. The southern hills on the left bank, seem also to terminate opposite to Taupiri, which arises from their making a sharp angle, beyond the great western chain with which they are continuous. The natural scenery was not unlike that on some parts of the Rhine, but it wanted the 'castled crag' and the 'frequent village' to assimilate the illusion.
This flat is occupied by several pas, which we successively passed, all going under the name of Kaitotehe, the principal one just opposite to Taupiri.
We had been exposed to a burning sun all day, and had passed through a very unpicturesque country, and as we were therefore wafted onwards by a gentle breeze, under shadow of the hills, our senses were doubly gratified. The ravines filled with beautiful shrubs were in deep shade, while the wood-crowned summits were glowing
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under the mellow rays of the setting sun; the deep blue river was gliding gently by, and the smoke from the various settlements was curling upwards, and mingling with the descending mists of evening; it was truly a charming scene, and the refreshing coolness of the air made us view it with greater pleasure.
We landed at Kaitotehe, and after arranging for the board and lodging of our natives, repaired to the house of Mr. Ashwell, the resident missionary, from whom on our disembarking, we had received a hospitable invitation. This gentleman has a commodious and comfortable wooden house, a short distance in rear of the pa, on a piece of ground made over to the Mission by the natives, who, however, with that eye to self-interest, which is so marked a feature in their character, even under the mask of apparent generosity, had apportioned for this purpose, the very worst piece of land in the vicinity, as it was a mere mass of pumiceous gravel; but, notwithstanding, the fruit trees in his garden were in a flourishing condition, particularly the cherry trees, which were loaded with fruit. We spent a very pleasant evening with our kind host, who gave us much information regarding the state of the country and its inhabitants...
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He was of opinion that the Natives were decreasing in number, there were so many deaths among their young children. He thought they would object to a dray-road into the interior from Auckland, but not to a bridle-path, which they would readily assist in forming. Among other matters he related a very sensible speech made by Te Wherowhero at a korero lately held at Kaitotohe-- "The Pakehas," said the old Chief, "will not commence a war, you will have war amongst yourselves, about land as you had at Ngatehine"--alluding to the late fight. "The Governor will not destroy you and take your land, you will destroy yourselves as you have done!" He also told us an amusing and characteristic anecdote of the boastful language the Native Chiefs use at their meetings, to magnify iheir own importance. Several of the tribes had assembled at Kaitotehe, to proceed to the hui hui, or gathering, which, as I have mentioned, took place three years since, at Remuera near Auckland, when a young Chief stood up and addressing the other tribes said-- "If I see anything that pleases me in the shops of Auckland, I will take it--yes, I repeat I will take it!" But he afterwards secretly laid an injunction on his own tribe not to touch the smallest thing, not even a fig of tobacco.
Dec. 27. Accompanied Mr. A. to the native chapel, which is a neat raupo building of some size. The congregation, about one hundred in number, behaved very decorously, and afterwards catechising took place in which the converts showed considerable knowledge of the Scriptures. The greater number of the people of the pa are still heathens, in consequence of the refusal of Te Whero-whero to become 'Mihinare'. Were he to enter the Christian fold, his flock would soon follow him. However, he does not discourage the labours of the missionaries, but rather gives them his support.
As every rangatira pakeha, whatever be his profession, is supposed to have a knowledge of medicine, I was importuned as usual, to visit the sick, and found several children and some elderly people very ill, indeed all of them evidently in a dying state. The missionaries are allowed a stock of drugs by the Society, 45 and do much good in many cases, but as some of the diseases to which the natives are liable may be supposed to be beyond their skill, the hospitals which the Government are about to erect in various parts of the country,
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will tend to alleviate much suffering, and probably save many lives....
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The whole of the ground around the pa, with the exception of the Mission property, is a rich alluvium, and was under crops of Kumera, Maize, and Potato--the two former were in good condition, but the latter was in a very languishing state, in consequence of the long drought. In the evening I ascended the hill behind the Missionary-house, from which I obtained a commanding and splendid view of the country lying to the East, that to the West, being hid by the closing in of the hills that form the pass. Immediately in front rose Taupiri, from whence extended Northward the peaked chain of hills which connect it with the Wakatewai mountains, from whence a spur projects Southward, dividing the basin of the Waikato from that of the Waiho and Piako, generally known as the Valley of the Thames. The large space thus enclosed, was partially dotted with low bare hills, extensive swamps of arekeki, or Native flax, and kahikatea forests, emerging from which, the Maungawera River, whose sources in the Wakatewai Range, wound its serpentine course through the plain, to the base of Taupiri, where it joined the Waikato. The spur from the Wakatewai Mountains, of which I have just spoken, loses itself to the East, in the general continuation of the Waikato Plain, where it joins that of the Waiho and Piako, beyond which rose the triple summits of the Maungakaua Hills, backed by the faint outline of the lofty Aroha Mountains, which forms the Eastern boundary of the last-mentioned plain. The immense mass of Maungatautari shot up to the South-East, almost washed by the Waikato, a glance of whose reaches were at intervals caught, until its whole course spread out, winding its way through the plain, dotted with kahikatea forests to the foot of the hill on which I stood, to rush through the Taupiri Pass. A mass of wooded hills stretched Westward to the distant and lofty summits of Pirongea, on the Waipa, which projects boldly out from the sea-range; the whole forming a splendid panorama of a country in all the wildness of nature, and of an extent seldom brought under one view. This vast tract is comparatively uninhabited, excepting by about two thousand Natives, a less number than the population of Auckland and its vicinity, who only occupy a few hundred acres. Watered as it is by two fine rivers, and numerous subsidiary streams, what a field for European settlements.
Dec. 28. Taking leave of our hospitable host and his amiable lady, who furnished us with some bread--a luxury only to be obtained at the mission-stations--we embarked and proceeded up the river....
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...we embarked and proceeded up the river, the left bank being still a continuation of the Kaitotehe flat, which is elevated about fifteen feet above the stream, formed, as I have before mentioned, of a rich alluvium; and the right of a pumiceous gravel, covered by a thin layer of vegetable mould, which, judging from the height and vigorous growth of the fern and other shrubs that covered it, must be of a fertile nature, and would, in course of time, form excellent pasture ground, if fed over by cattle.
Two miles, upwards, the Kaitotehe-flat terminates at the pa of Ngatihouroua, where we landed to take shelter from a tremendous thunder-shower, which poured down in torrents for about a quarter of an hour, much to the joy of the Natives, whose maize, which covered a large extent of ground, arouud the pa, was beginning to suffer from want of moisture. They told us they were going to plant wheat next year, and erect a mill, in conjunction with the rest of the Ngatimahouta tribe, under the auspices of Te Wherowhero, their Chief, but could not agree as to its site, since the people of each pa wanted it near them.
The hills, as we ascended, abutted occasionally boldly on the river, clothed with beautiful wood, at other points receded, to give place to alluvial flats and terraces, from twenty to fifty acres in extent, all under a rude cultivation. These would form very eligible spots for farms, as they possess beauty of situation, shelter from every wind, wood for fencing and fuel, aud water-carriage for the conveyance of produce, and the Natives are quite alive to these latter advautages, though they are heedlessly obliterating the two first, by their wanton destruction of the wood.
Both banks of the river retain their distinctive characters, gradually rising in height as we advanced--and four miles farther on, the stream which had had hitherto ran in a north-westerly course, now came from the east, and at this poiut, the comparatively dark and sluggish stream of the Waipa was seen issuing out from between steep banks of about twenty feet high, to join the clear and rapid Waikato, or as it is often called from the country through which it passes, the Horotu. The point of junction is named Ngaruawaha--the two mouths, and the Waikato beyond it is a much smaller stream, as the Waipa, which is deep, contributes a considerable portion of water to form the Waikato proper. Here the different nature of the couutry from which the respective rivers have their source, was distinctly visible--while the banks of the one were formed of pumiceous gravel and sand, those of the other were composed of a rich alluvial loam, which at once accounted for the famed fertility of the Waipa country. As we entered the Waipa, we no longer saw masses of water-worn pumice, floating past, as we had hitherto done, and we found we had entered a country unaffected by either immediate or distant volcanic action.
Ngaruawaha would seem the spot in every respect well-adapted cither for a settlement or a military post, if, unhappily, such should be required; the country extending from the point of land, which if level, or slightly undulating, seemed, from the luxuriant growth of the fern and other shrubs, to possess a soil equally rich as the immediate banks, and abundance of wood covered the opposite hills. A stockade rivers, as would completely command the debouche of both well as all the country within the range of cannon.
Four miles beyond Ngaruawaha, where the western hills bend inwards from the river, there is a large tract of land, on either tide, tapu, and consequently uninhabited. This was done from the double motive of being the place where a daughter of Te Wherowhero's who was married to an Englishman called Captain Kent, died, as also from being the burying place of the Chiefs father. It is thought therefore that this tract might be purchased by the Government, if the old Chief could be prevailed upon to remove the tapu, which Native custom allows them to do in favor of Europeans, it would make a splendid settlement.
[After a few miles we entered the dark and sluggish Waipa which joins the clear and rapid Waikato at a place called Ngaruawaha.] Our crew found it an easy matter to paddle up the Waipa, as the current only runs downwards, in the summer, at the rate of half a mile an hour, but this advantage did not avail us much. The 'trade', of which they were ultimately to have a share, was in the canoe, and they were approaching their homes, circumstances which ought to have aroused exertion, but they seemed unmoved, and only dipped their paddles more leisurely in the stream, and although each successively took up the cry of 'tena! tena! hukari' which answers to our 'push along my lads!' not a stroke was made with more than ordinary vigour, and pipes were replenished at shorter intervals than ever. This apathy is a marked trait in the native character, from which they can only be aroused by strong excitement, and it would seem to be a bar to their ever becoming a persevering and active race of men, unless changed by the force of example and education.
As we slowly ascended, the river, whose general course lies at the foot of the western hills, whose base it sometimes washes, was overhung by the luxuriant shrubbery that generally clothes the skirts of a New Zealand forest, which was seen here in all its native majesty, covering the hills, whose contour was very picturesque, to the very summit. Occasionally the river in its windings, would leave considerable spaces between its banks and the hills--these were generally either level terraces, parallel to it, or stretches of undulating ground, prettily interspersed with tawa and kahikatea. At a few points, cliffs of a greyish clay-slate, projected into the river, and sometimes a coarse sandstone was bared by the winter-floods. The right bank is very level, often formed into terraces, nor does it ever so deviate from this character as to be remarked; scarce a rise breaks its somewhat monotonous outline; or if any portion of it is elevated above the rest, it is generally crowned by a deserted pa, whose mounds, for they are always surrounded by an earthern rampart and ditch,
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look like the remains of some old redoubt, on an European battle field. There are also a number of these old pas on every projecting knoll on the left bank, and the name of the river has probably arisen from their presence, as it means, literally, the water of the pas. They show also the former existence of a large concentrated population, which has partly disappeared under the scourge of war and disease, or now that peace is restored, have scattered themselves over the face of the country.
The banks gradually increased in height, as we approached Wata Wata, 48 and they are, near that settlement, from thirty to forty feet above the level of the water, from which they generally recede with a gentle slope, covered above the flood-mark with a variety of shrubs and small trees, so overhung with vines and climbing plants, as often to form a continuous verdant mass, studded with the beautiful white flowers of the piko arero, 49 a species of convolvulus, which climbs up to the summit of the highest trees, and creeping along every branch, seems almost to identify itself with its support.
The Waipa in fact is a noble canal, from fifty to sixty yards broad, and from ten to twenty feet deep, capable, after the fallen trees, which at intervals encumber its bed, are removed, of permitting the passage of barges, which might either be towed up by a small steamer, or dragged by horses on a track road, that might easily be formed along its banks.
We reached Wata Wata, five and twenty miles distant from Kaitotehe, an hour before sunset. The pa, strongly stockaded, is situated on a knoll overhanging the right bank of the river, very steep on one side, and on the other, or land-side, defended by a gully, which forms a natural ditch. No engineer could have selected a more defensible position, as it commands the country around. We paid a visit to Te Wherowhero whose ware is built on the left bank, a short distance below it. We found the old chief seated on a mat in front of his residence, enjoying the coolness of the evening. He received us very cordially, as he lay under some obligation to me from a circumstance it is unnecessary to mention, which took place in the early days of the settlement at Auckland. Our conversation turned on the projected road from Auckland into the interior, a theme which seemed to occupy the native mind. He remarked that the chiefs of
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Rotorua had said they would kill the first white man that put a spade in their ground to form the road:-- 'but they are fools, and it is bad white men who have poisoned their minds. I wish it made, and where it passes through my ground, I will send my people to plant potatoes for the use of the men who make it. Now that the Governor has prevented us from getting guns and powder, I have no wish to fight with him'--'for', said he, laughing, 'I had enough of fighting, without guns, at Matikitiki, 50 and I am too old to run away now, as I did then'; alluding to the storming of that pa by Shonghi, 51 who being possessed of a few muskets, while the Waikatos had only their usual weapons, struck them with such terror that they fled in confusion, and in their panic falling headlong into the deep ditches that surrounded the place, as many were trampled to death as were slain by the Ngapuhi. It is said that fifteen hundred fell on that occasion. 'Nene Waka 52 has gained renown,' he went on to say, 'by being loyal in the North, I will gain the same by similar conduct, if war should occur here in the South.'
In looking at his fine mild countenance, few could imagine that he was once a barbarous savage, who is said to have killed twenty prisoners with his own hand, in the Taranaki war, as a sacrifice to the manes of a kinsman, who, having been treacherously slain by that tribe, gave origin to the invasion, which terminated in the almost total destruction of the people of that country. He was about to eat his evening meal of potatoes and a delicious small fish caught in the river, a portion of which, according to native custom, was presented to us in a small kete or basket made extempore of fresh flax, and which after being used as a plate, is thrown away. Taking a cordial leave of the chief, we retired to a small hut which had been made over to us, which we thought it advisable to occupy, in despite of fleas and its uninviting appearance, as it threatened to rain.
[Dec. 29. A few miles above Whatawhata we entered the valley of the Kunawaniwa, 53 a small river, proceeding on foot to the residence of my companion.]... 54
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Dec. 29--There had been no rain in the night, and the morning was bright and beautiful, so while breakfast was preparing, I strolled about to view the locality. The terraces which I have remarked, characterize the banks of the Waipa, are seen here to a greater extent than I had observed them elsewhere, two could be distinctly traced, extending on either hand until hid by intervening woods--the lower one narrow, the upper one about half a mile in breadth, but both formed of the richest alluvial soil, and extensively cultivated. I passed through several fields of wheat, looking healthy, but sadly overrun with weeds, particularly the dock, which is not indigenous, but has been either brought into the country among English seeds, or as is currently reported, was introduced by some rascally fellow as tobacco seed, which it much resembles. It has now become a perfect nuisance, which it would be almost impossible to eradicate, as I saw patches of this noxious weed covering nearly half an acre, and I was told that it has found its way to every part of the river. These terraces are evidently ancient and successive beds of the river, when in the winter it must have resembled a long winding lake, the gradual subsidence of whose waters in the summer, after depositing the alluvium, sloping down its sides, and thus forming a terrac, for all deposits from water have a horizontal surface. In this manner the process has gone on for a series of ages, its bed being gradually deepened by the action of the current, while its boundaries, narrowed by annual deposits, assumed its present form, and I was informed that even now, the water often covers the lower range of terraces during the winter floods.
The Western hills which both above and below Wata Wata, impinge on the river, recede at both points, and enclose a semicircular area of undulating ground, containing several thousand acres, prettily dotted with woods, the soil being a light loam. It is not cultivated by the Natives, and would form a very eligible spot for a settlement. The Herepaino, a small river, not navigable however, traverses it and tails into the Waipa, above the Native settlement. A short distance beyond Wata Wata, the banks increase in height and the terraces disappear, but three miles farther on they re-appear, covered either with wood, or cultivation, and are backed by bare fern hills. As we advanced, the river in its windings, again approaches the Western hills, which beautifully wooded, form its immediate boundary on the left bank, when, suddenly turning westward, they permit the exit of the stream that runs from the valley of Kunawaniwa, which is navigable for small canoes during the winter. Immediately beyond its mouth we landed, and proceeded to the valley on foot, to the residence of my companion, passing for two miles over bare fern hills.
The Valley of Kunawaniwa is a perfect basin, entirely enclosed by hills, except at the narrow gorge through which the river rushes, the bottom being a flat containing several thousand acres of the finest alluvial soil, Generally dry, and covered with more grass than I had ever before seen in the same space, a few spots being alone swampy; along the course of the low streams which wind through it and join to form the river. Offsets from the area I have described, branch off into the Western hills, which are richly wooded, and form a series of beautiful vales, while to the South it is bounded bv that magnificent mountain-range called Pirongia, which slopes abruptly down, clothed from its highest peak nearly to its base with magnificent forests--a spur from which, sweeping northward in a semicircle, joined the hills on which I stood, and completed the enclosure--a spot more adapted either for pastoral or agricultural purposes, does not exist in the island.
My companion was one of several young
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gentlemen, who attracted by the independence of the life they can enjoy in the interior, have located themselves in various parts of the Waipa country. As they generally possess some private income, which enables them to command the luxuries necessary to an European, they can live comfortably enough in a country where the mere necessaries of life are so abundant and cheap, and they generally manage to pay their expenses on their occasional visits to Auckland, by carrying with them pigs or flax, which they obtain at a comparatively cheap rate from the natives in return for tobacco and English manufactured goods. They amuse their leisure in hunting wild pigs, and shooting wild ducks and pigeons, and most of them cultivate wheat, which they grind in a handmill, and are thus supplied with bread.
It must be confessed, however, that one regrets to see men of good education and talents, living so completely separated from their civilized brethren. At the same time, their just and honourable dealings with the natives, so different from the custom of the low fellows who once formed the only specimens of civilized men known to them, must give the latter a favourable impression of our character, which the dissolute and knavish habits of the pakeha Maories had much weakened. They generally attach themselves to some chief who patronizes and protects them, and who in talking of them always designates them as 'taku pakeha', my white man, and which often excites the jealousy of other aristocrats who do not enjoy this addition to their 'tail'. If a road were opened into the interior many of these gentlemen would procure cattle, which they are now prohibited from doing, by the almost utter impracticability of driving them across the numerous swamps, and other impediments which intervene between them and Auckland; they therefore content themselves with goats which afford them abundance of milk.
I spent the rest of the day very pleasantly, wandering about the beautiful environs of my companion's house, and after partaking of a good supper of pork, potatoes, damper and tea--tee-totalism reigning here without the pledge--I retired to rest on a good fern bed, in a neat and comfortable raupo ware....
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Dec. 30.--The track from Kunawaniwa to Puhenui, on the Waipa, traverses the flat for three miles over grassy land, seldom interrupted by swamp, and then ascends the hills that divide the valley from the bed of the Waipa, the soil of which appeared to be a rich loam, and we passed a field of fine wheat belonging to the Natives, which formed the summit. A farther walk of three miles among the hills, which were universally covered with tall fern, varied in the hollows between them, by occasional patches of wood, we reached the base of Pirongia, whose spurs radiated in every direction, thickly clothed with wood. A beautiful clear mountain-stream, forcing its way through masses of basalt, and greenstone boulders, and embowered in wood, rushed downwards from a ravine, formed by two of the spurs, and after crossing it, we found the soil still finer than that we had just passed, arising probably, from the decomposition of the basaltic and green-stone formations of Perongia.
Ascending a steep ridge, along whose crest we walked for some time, we reached the settlement of Puhenui, situated on a knoll, immediately overhanging the Waipa, which here, about fifty yards wide, ran in a very deep bed, its banks still maintaining their terraced character. The peaked summits of Pirongia rising two thousand feet above the level of the country, almost overhung Puhenui, and on such of the adjacent slopes as admitted of cultivation, the Natives were busily engaged in burning off the fine timber, to prepare for their autumnal crop. It was quite painful to witness the destruction that was going on, as the mountain was almost obscured by the smoke of the numerous fires.
Puhenuhi is a miserable place, but the view from it embraces the rolling country between it and Maungatautari, and the more level tracts which extend Northward towards Taupiri, and Southward to the base of the distant Rangitoto mountains, and the isolated cone of Kokapuka, shooting up from the plain, vis a vis to Perongia.
This vast area appeared one brown waste, whose surface, unvaried by the bright green of the swamps, which, in more level districts, give, at any rate, an appearance of verdure, had a repulsive aspect, nor was it much improved by the sombre green of the clumps of Kahikatea, which were thinly sprinkled over it.
A volume of smoke marked the site of Otawao, and Rangiawhia, to the former of which places we proceeded, by crossing the river, which ran in a deep, canal-like bed, the banks being nearly fifty feet high, and the stream itself fifty yards wide.
The Waipa has its source in the Rangitoto Mountains, which, striking Eastward from the sea range, terminate on the banks of the Upper Waikato, and form the base of the great triagular space of country lying between the Waipa and the Waikato, whose apex is at Ngaruawaha, and which is inhabited by not more than three thousand Natives, who, with the exception of the tribes living at Otawao, Rangiawhia, and Oraki, and some settlements on the slopes of Kokapuka, and Maungatautari, are located on the banks of either river. Opposite Kokapuka lies the Wesleyan Missionary station of Onepaka, from whence a path leads to Wangaroa on the West coast, in a day and a half. The last Native settlement on the river is Rangitoto, situated in a beautiful gorge of the mountains, to which there is access by canoes, in the winter, but in the summer, a trap dyke which crosses the river at the settlement of Maungapouri, forms rapids which it is dangerous to pass.
The Waipa country is noted for its fine fern-root, which is generally found in rich alluvial soil, on the banks of rivers, or in deep valleys: some of the choicest spots are tapued to ensure a supply, and fierce quarrels have happened between different tribes, from these spots having been set on fire. Much pains is taken in selecting it, the roots are dug up in August and September, and those only taken which are eighteen inches below the ground. The small fibres are stript off and they are then roasted at a fire, and become very palatable, not unlike, in taste, to the Cassava bread used by the Negroes in the West Indies.
It is considered a delicacy by the Natives who reside on the sea-coast, when, after being dried and packed in baskets of koradi, and neatly covered with the blossoms of the toi toi--it is often sent as a present from the inlaud Chiefs to their friends near the sea, who in return send dried shell fish, an acceptable food to the Natives of the interior. From the failure of the potatoe-crop, the Natives look forward to it as a succedaneum for that root in the ensuing spring, as it is more nutritious than is generally supposed.
The route to Otawao, passes for some miles over undulating clay hills, covered with tall fern, among which the stumps of burnt trees and enormous logs, lying about in every direction, attest that they were once covered with wood, destroyed either in Native cultivation, or by an extension of the fires lighted to carry it on. We now reached the Maungapiko, a pretty stream running over a pebbly bed, shallow in the summer, but deep and rapid in the winter. It hits its source in the gorges of Maungatautari, and after winding for many miles through the intervening country, empties itself into the Waipa.
We turned aside to visit a deserted pa, bounded on three sides by a sharp bend of the river, whose steep banks, strengthened by a rampart, formed an impassable obstacle, while two mounds and deep broad ditches, stretching across to the river, occupied and defended the fourth side, which had an advanced enclosure, answering to the modern hornwork, as a farther impediment to an attacking enemy, and it was rendered still stronger by commanding the neighboring country. Large pits occupied its area, either for shelter by being covered with a roof of raupo, or they served as storehouses for provisions. No European Engineer could have laid out the place more advantageously, and by the remains of some stumps, it would seem to have had the additional defence of a pallisade--in fact it must have been impregnable. The Natives indeed, seem to have an instinctive talent for seizing upon ground favorable for the erection of such strong-holds, and a skill in arranging the defences that shows they possess the powers of combination to an extraordinary degree.
Here I remarked pumiceous gravel in the banks of the river, and a change for the worse in the surface soil, evinced by the presence of dwarf manuka and fern, which continued for some distance beyond the pa, But as we approached Otawao, the soil improved in quality, and there was a good deal of natural grass in various places. We had to traverse very few swamps, and those of trifling extent, but I saw no flax. A similar country stretched away on either hand, as far as the eye could reach, which would form fine pasture-ground for cattle, who would annually improve it for that purpose. The night had set in before we reached Otawao, but lighted by a fine moon, and guided by the sounds of cattle and voices, we reached that settlement, after again crossing the Maungapiko, and were received with that genuine and unostentatious hospitality, by Mr. Morgan, the resident Missionary, which all respectable travellers experience under that gentleman's roof.
Dec. 31.--The settlement of Otawao is situated on the western side of a large level basin, surrounded on all sides by low bare hills, once however covered with wood, some of which of large size, in straggling clumps, is still standing about the place. The Missionary house, a commodious wooden mansion, with suitable offices, stands a little in advance of the Native pa, on a plateau surrounded by a bend of the Maungapiko, which forms on three sides a natural enclosure. A garden well-stocked with English fruit-trees, is attached to the house, but the season was not sufficiently advanced to ripen the larger fruits, however the gooseberry bushes were loaded with fruit, and I and my fellow-traveller, for I had picked up a new companon de voyage, in a relative, who I found by chance at Kanuwaniwa, enjoyed this truly English fruit, which we had not tasted for many years, and brought back all our early reminiscences of the gardens of the "Father land." Grapes, figs, and melons, which are so successfully raised at Auckland, do not however grow well here, as Otawao must lie several hundred feet above the level of the sea, consequently the spring is later than on the coast, and lower districts, and although the mid-day temperature may be equally high, yet the nights, which in every part of New Zealand, are comparatively colder than the days, and forms a peculiar feature in the climate, here suffer a decrease of temperature, which is hostile to the maturation of the fruits of Southern Europe. A large Native Chapel has been built near the house, in which morning and evening prayers are read to the Native converts.
Mr Morgan has some fine sheep and cattle, which find abundant feed on the deserted Native cultivations, which always contain a quantity of grass, and he himself has some well-cultivated fields of grass and grain.
I strolled about the native pa and cultivations before breakfast, and saw some wheat, but as usual mixed with weeds. I remarked, however, the care the Natives took, to occupy sheltered spots, and where that could not be attained, that they had planted rows of tehori, a variety of Phormium Tenax, or Native flax, which growing to the height of five feet, and being planted closely, formed a perfect screen from the wind which sweeps with great violence over this open country, and of which I had experience, as it was at the time blowing a furious gale from the South-west. I have before remarked that flax does not appear to be indigenous to the Waipa country, consequently the Natives plant it for the double purpose of a screen, and for economical uses, and have therefore chosen the finest variety for the latter employment. The Tehori is known by the names of mountain, or silkey flax, the former, from its being found in high districts, the latter from the fine texture of its fibre, which when carefully cleaned and prepared, very much resembles silk, and it was formerly much employed in making the "katuka" mats, the manufacture of which, however, has almost fallen into disuse, since the introduction of Euglish blankets. There is no doubt, however, that if a machine could be invented to supersede the tedious method which the Natives alone employ of scraping off the epidermis by means of a mussel-shell, it would be a profitable investment of capital to cultivate it, as its cultivation would in no way interfere with agricultural pursuits, but might easily be combined with them, and the Tehori, from its fine texture, and the ease with which the epidermis is removed, would seem to be the variety best suited for artificial cultivation, and if sent in good condition to England, would no doubt realize from £35 to £40 per ton, to the exporter.
The Ngatururu, the Ngatikora, and the Patukoka tribes of the Waikato confederacy, in all about three hundred souls, inhabit Otawao. After breakfast we proceeded across the plain of Otawao, to Rangeawhea, by a good horse-road made by the Natives, under the auspices of Mr. Morgan,-- this place lies about five miles to the Eastward, and is situated on a coutinuation of the hills which environ Otawao. The pa, surrounded by a slight stockade, is of some extent, and is inhabited by the Ngatihinutu and the Ngatiapakura, eight hundred in number, the greater part of whom are converts to the Church Missionary Society, another portion adhere to a French Catholic Priest who resides there, and a few are still Pagans. They are rather noted for their immorality and thievish habits, of which their Chiefs seem to be aware, as at a korero which they held on the subject of the proposed road through the interior, they expressed a wish that the Governor should call a general meeting of the Waikato Chiefs, and explain to them what were his intentious in making it. They said-- "When it is made, many travellers will come into the country who will be careless of their property, the Natives will not be able to resist pilferiug, complaints will be made, and the police will come to seize and carry off the offenders, our people will not see their relations and friends taken away, and bloodshed will be the consequnce--then the Governor by means of the road will send troops and cannon, destroy our pas, make slaves of us, and seize upon our lands!"
Te Waru, the principal Chief, however, differed from the rest in the latter particular.-- "It is not the Governor, with his soldiers and cannon," said he, "that we need fear, but it is the thievish habits of our people, who will commit crimes for which they will be seized by the police!" I believe there is a mingled feeling of fear, jealousy, and of their own weakness, in their opposition to the formation of the road, which however will be lulled by our just and fair dealing with them, and will at length give way to the sense of the benefits they will derive from such an undertaking, and then they will be as eager to assist in making it as they are now vehement in opposing it. There is a large ware puni in the pa, whose facade is prettily ornamented with carvings. These buildings are used as Council and general sleeping places for the unmarried men of the pa, and having only a low door, are, when a fire is lighted within, insufferably close and stifling, and throw the inmates into a profuse perspiration, in which state they go out into the night air and is certainly one cause of their frequent pulmonary complaints.
The hill on which the pa was situated, as well as those adjacent, must at one time have been covered with timber, but of which only a few clumps remain, and that is fast disappearing, so that the Natives will ere long be compelled to abandon it from want of fuel. Indeed they seem to have abandoned iheir cultivation grounds very often in this vicinity, from the same reason, as numerous patches of grass, visible amidst the fern covered hills around, attest the site of former plantations. The soil of these hills is a fertile clay, and there were probably about fifty acres under cultivation, and a good deal of wheat near the pa, but it looked sickly, perhaps owing to the unusual dryness of the season, however I remarked one enclosure with a most luxuriant crop, and upon enquiry found it belonged to an Englishman named Smith, and upon proceeding to his house he at once enlightened me as to the superior appearance of his wheat, by informing me that he kept some cattle, and had carefully dug and manured his land, while the Natives were merely indebted to Nature for any returns they might have for their labour. They seem indeed very anxious to grow wheat, feeling that it is a much more certain and valuable crop than potatoes, but it is to be feared that they will never give it that attention or bestow that labour upon it that its successful cultivation requires. Although they are partial to horses they do not seem to care about cattle, and they have almost a superstitious abhorrence to the use of manure, so that it is only by continually changing their ground that they have any chance of good crops. Indeed it is said that they have abandoned the cultivation of maize in favour of wheat, more for the depredations the rats committed on the former grain, than from any partiality to the latter, as the reaping winnowing, and grinding, necessary to make wheat available as one article of food, taxes their indolence to a degree they unwillingly submit to, and would if possible avoid. However they seem to be in earnest here, as they have subscribed £150 to build a mill, at the earnest representations of Mr. Morgan, who pointed out its advantages.
The mill is situated about half a mile from the pa, and was then nearly completed by an European millwright, from wood found in the neighborhood. The stones being formed masses of lava, taken from the base of Mount Eden, near Auckland. The Natives lent their labor to cutting, bringing in, and sawing the timber required for its construction, and also formed the dam by blocking up a small stream leading from a neighboring swamp. It is therefore to be hoped that after their expenditure and exertions, they will not, with their usual indifference, abandon it, as they have done a similar undertaking at Otea, where, in consequence of having neglected to stop the mill, they suffered the stones to become useless, and have not ta[k]en the trouble, nor will they advance the means of having them replaced.
Jan. 1, 1847. We would willingly have accepted the pressing
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invitation of our esteemed and agreeable host, 56 to have spent New Year's Day with him, but our time was limited, and we were under the necessity of hurrying on, but we found great difficulty in procuring two natives to accompany us, unless we submitted to an extortionate charge for their services. In fact the natives of this district are very independent, their labour furnishing them with abundance of food, and their clothing and luxuries being easily obtained by carrying pigs for sale, at Auckland, which they are enabled to do easily, by means of the rivers. At length we engaged a harum-scarum sort of a fellow named Peter, who agreed to accompany us, from a love of wandering rather than from any other reason, upon promise of receiving a sovereign, when we reached Auckland, and food and tobacco à discretion, and we got a lad to go as far as Maungatautari. Peter had found his way to Kororareka three years ago, and urged by a spirit of adventure, had shipped on board a whaler, where he had served for two years, and had visited Sydney. He was there seized with the mal du pays, where he left his berth, and after, sailor-like, spending all his wages with his country-men who are employed in the pilot-boats, he worked his passage to Auckland, and returned to Rangaiwhia, 57 as poor and ragged as he had left it. He spoke a little English, but so garnished with whaling slang, that we requested him to use the vernacular tongue whenever he favoured us with his conversation.
The path after passing Rangaiwhia, lies over fern hills of good soil for three miles, beyond which it becomes light and very inferior, being as usual in such cases, covered with dwarf fern and manuka, and we had to cross an extensive swamp, through which the Maungapiko 58 winds; it was however comparatively dry, and we had only to wade in one or two spots, crossing the river by means of a rude and slippery bridge, formed of a single tree. An extensive forest, chiefly kahikatea, covered the sides of the valley and the adjacent hills to the north, on the skirts of which is situated the ancient pa of Rarewa, famous for the tomb of Te Wherowhero's daughter, which is most elaborately carved, and which contains many other relics of New Zealand art. We regretted that we had not time to visit it, as these sculptures are becoming rare, and being of wood, they will soon perish. The figures indeed are often monstrous in proportion, and the attitudes not very decent, but the connecting ornaments, con-
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sisting of leaves and flowers, forming a specimen of tracery within a volute, are often arranged with an elegance, and chiselled out with an elaborate finish that would not disgrace a Cellini.
Beyond the swamp, we again crossed ranges of low hills of the same light soil, occupying the centre of the valley or plain through which we were passing, its boundaries being elongations of spurs from Maungatautari, whose peaked summits and wood-clothed ravines, now opened out glowingly under the brilliant summer sun, but we saw no signs of human habitations, nor of cultivation in the large extent of country under view--a few wild pigs were its only occupants. Walking thus for several miles, the hills were lost in a large plain, which extended to the base of Maungatautari, containing many thousands [of] acres, covered with a good deal of grass, and swampy only in the course of the Maungapiko, which winds through it, whose overflow, however, evidently lays it under water in the winter; yet a judicious series of embankments and drains would even then keep it dry, and form extensive meadows. In its present state, however, it would feed several hundred head of cattle during the summer.
We had to cross the Maungapiko several times in its windings, and observed in its course many of those weirs called pa te tuna--eel houses, which the natives ingeniously construct for catching that fish. They are made of stout stakes driven in closely together, forming a V, with the limbs resting on either bank, the apex, which is truncated, pointing down the stream, and they are further strengthened by interlacing them with branches of shrubs. At the narrow aperture the natives attach a net, and they thus enclose immense numbers of eels, on their annual passage down the river. This right of fishing is often a source of quarrel, even among families of the same tribe, and has given rise to many bloody encounters, and it makes them set a value on land, which to all appearance is useless.
After traversing the plain, we ascended a little valley running into a ridge, which stretches northward, from Maungatautari, to the banks of the Waikato, down which a clear mountain-stream, one of the tributaries to the Maungapiko, brawled over a pebbly bed, and after fording it we kept along a path on the south side of the valley, the base of the hills on the opposite side being sustained by a bare wall of a pumice-conglomerate, the first rock of the kind I had seen, but which gave evidence of our being about to enter on a new geological region. Here tupakihi bushes, which I had scarce seen in the
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Waipa country, though so common in other parts of New Zealand, were dotted over the hills.
The valley terminated in a wooded ravine, emerging from which we stood on a plateau, or neck of land, which lies between the valley we had just passed and a corresponding one to the eastward, and which forms a pass into the great valley of the upper Waikato. As this spot is the lowest point in the range I have described as projecting northward, from Maungatautari to the banks of the river, it has been selected as the grand route, between the Waipa and upper Waikato countries. A small settlement with surrounding potato grounds, occupy it, which serves as a sort of half-way house to travellers passing from either of the above-mentioned districts, and where the customary hospitality of a pot of potatoes, is always at the service of wayfaring parties, which is generally requited by filling the pipes of the host and family, and retailing the news of the day, but Europeans always give a few figs of tobacco. The above-mentioned hospitality being extended to our party, we ate our New Year's Day dinner in the open air, in front of one of the huts, and Peter regaled the inhabitants with the gossip of Rangiawhia....
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There is a magnificent view from this spot, on one hand the rolling plains of the Waipa are brought under view, bounded by the coast-range, extending from Taupiri to the Mokau Hills, from where the Rangitoto Mountains branch off to the Eastward, in the centre of which towered Pirongia, and its vis a vis Kokapuka, the windings of the Maungapiko being visible till lost in the distance On the other hand, the Valley of the Waikato, stretched Eastward for thirty miles, bounded to the south by Maungatautari, and to the north by the Maungakaua hills, which are wooded to the summits, and from which extended along the course of the river, the bare serrated ridges that divide the valley of the Waiho from the Waikato--behind these, were dimly seen, the level summits of the long mountain wall which bounds the former valley and separates it from the East coast, while the level rays of the evening sun, by the mingled effect of light and shade, permitted those singular terraces which run parallel to the Waikato, to be distinctly traced. It was truly a magnificent prospect, and yet this vast extent of country, which is only inhabited by about four thousand souls, might easily maintain a thousand times that number.
Noble forests bound either side of the pass, through which we descended by a very steep path, until we reached the base of the range, and commenced crossing fern-covered spurs, descending from Maungatautari, divided from each other by clear mountain streams, across one of which I observed a basaltic dyke, and boulders of the same rock scattered over the hills, from which I inferred that the mountain was of the same formation. After a walk of five miles we reached the settlement and pa of Te Whera-atua, 60 just before sunset, estimating our day's journey at twenty-five miles.
On approaching the pa, we saw what we conceived to be hedges, surrounding large enclosures, but they proved to be lines of tehori, 61 planted both for use and shelter. The Ngatikoroko, 62 who inhabit the pa, which is slightly stockaded, received us very civilly, offering us
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a house for our accommodation, and furnishing us with potatoes and eggs, and Peter spread a bed of fern, which like every other apparently simple operation, requires practice in the disposal of the leaves and stems, to make it easy. We passed a comfortable night after our long day's walk under a burning sun....
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The pa of Te Whera atua, is situated on one of those sloping spurs which radiate almost symmetrically, round the base of Maungatautari, generally about a quarter of a mile in breadth, and of various lengths, sometimes terminating abruptly, after running for a mile towards the Waikato, and occasionally stretching down almost to the banks of the river, three or four miles distant.--The soil is a deep friable loam, on which I remarked some of the finest maize I had seen in my journey, nor had the potatoe crop suffered so much from drought, as in other parts of the countty. There were also some fine peach-orchards in full bearing. The timber was magnificent, though much destroyed in the course of cultivation, yet noble trees were still standing, which were, probably, too large to destroy. I measured a fallen rimu, and found it one hundred and four feet in length, and five feet in diameter. Indeed such shrubs as the porpora, the tupakihi, and the koromiko, here became trees. If this district was in the hands of Europeans, it would be the finest and most productive in New Zealand--each of these plateaus might be divided into several farms, and being separated by ravines, with gently sloping sides, through which run streams, are admirably adapted to the growth of the hop, and probably the vine, as they are sheltered from the south and south-west wind by the overhanging mountain, which would also afford an inexhaustible supply of firewood, together with fencing and building materials. Roads might easily be constructed down to the Waikato, which is navigable up to this point, though impeded by rapids beyoud it, and thus permit the produce to be conveyed to the Manukao, aud thence to Auckland or foreign ports. Indeed the Natives of this pa carry annually to Auckland, flax of fine quality from their tehori fences, aud a number of pigs, and are among the most wealthy in the island. Their Rangitira nue, or principal Chief is a Christian, and is known by his baptismal name of William Marsh, and most of his people are Mihinari, under the spiritual guidance of Mr. Morgan.
This district was formerly possessed by the Ngati raukaua under the chief Rauparaha who has risen in to bloody notoriety in the Colonial annals of New Zealand, by the tragic affair of the Wairau. He and his tribe however were driven from it about twenty years since, by the Waikatos and the Ngatihaua under their warlike leader Waharoa and has since been inhabited by the present tribe. Rauparaba in his turn expelled the Ngatiawa from Kawhia, and after time proceeding southward made his way through the Taranaki tribes, and driving the Ngatitoa from Kapiti has since resided there.
If the history of New Zealand for the last fifty years were chronicled, it would present a horrid catalogue of murder, treachery, and cannabalism. The small portion of the island which I had traversed was the arena on which many of those scenes were exhibited. The tribes of the Waikato and Waipa confederacy seemed only in alliance when joined to resist the attacks of some common enemy such as the Ngapuhi under Hongi and Pomare, who after ravaging the banks of both rivers, some twenty years since, compelled the inhabitants to take refuge in the pa of Matakitiki on the Waipa, which they stormed and as before mentioned, fifteen hundred men were killed and numbers carried into captivity. Pomare however was not so successful in a second inroad, for he was slain, his party defeated, and were pursued by the vicforious Waikatos with great slaughter as far as Mahurangi. At other times, however, the Waikato tribes were in continual feud among themselves generally arising from disputes about land, or from quarrels among individuals, where one of the party was slain, and, as among the Jews, "life for life" was an unalterable law, it became imperative to obtain an "utu." In seeking redress by an appeal to arms, other than the guilty party were slain, this demanded a further atonement, and a sort of debtor and creditor account written in letters of blood was carried on and until an equal balance was struck, the feud was not stayed.
Instances also of the basest treachery were common, we may adduce the case of the Ngatiwhatua, who lived on the banks of the Tamaki and Waitemata who were allies of the Waikatos, and who after their defeat and slaughter by Hongi had fled into the Waikato, and apparently received protection from that tribe, but no sooner did the Waikatos hear that it was the intention of Hongi to pursue them into their territory, than either from fear or perhaps from recollection of some ancient quarrel, they fell upon these unfortunates and nearly massacred the whole of them. The Ngatipo and Ngatitipa who live almost in juxtaposition on the banks of the Waikato were long at war, as also were the Ngatitipa and their neighbours the Ngatitiata who inhabit the southern shores of the Manukao, and their former hostile feellings though apparently smothered, broke out in a dispute about land in the late murderous fight at Ngatehine, where the Ngatipo and Ngatitiata were allies.
Shortly after the period I have mentioned when Rauparaha was driven from Maungatautari, the Ngatipaua and other Hauraki tribes who had been surprised by Hongi in the pa of Totara at the mouth of the Waiho, where five hundred of them were slaughtered, deserted their country on the banks of that river, and flying inland were permitted to settle around a portion of Maungatautari, but they had only resided there a few years, when the Ngatihaua who then had their settlement on Maungakaua, attacked and drove them from their place of refuge, but in the meantime as the Hauraki tribes had propitiated Hongi, they were permitted by him to return to their own territories. They were no sooner established there, than in retaliation they surprised and slew a party of the Ngatihona, and in diversion cutting off their heads and stuffing their mouths with fern, threw them jnto the usual drinking place of the tribe, this gave rise to a number of retaliatory skirmishes in which numbers of both sides fell: About this time, the Ngatihona had attacked and almost exterminated the Ngatitewahi who held the plain of Matamata, and quitting Maungakaua located themselves there aud built a strong pa. But they were not suffered to remain long in peace, for a joint force of the Ngapuhi and Ngatipaua aud other Hauraki tribes, appeared before it and attempted to take it by storm they were however repulsed with great slaughter, and they remain at feud until this day, although since the arrival of the British no overt hostilities have taken place, and a peace is about to be consummated between the hostile tribes, on the occasion of a feast, which is proposed to be given at Matamata in the ensuing summer.
The Ngatihona are proverbially fierce and pugnacious for not content with waging war with hereditary enemies. They some years since managed to pick a quarrell with their kindred tribes, the Ngatihinatu, and Ngatiapakura at Rangiawhia, and in a fight near that place killed a great number of them; and these again had often disputes ending in bloodshed with their neighbours the Ngatiaruru and the Patukoko at Otawao, although mixed by intermarriages and living almost within sight and hearing of each other.
It is unnecessary to lengthen this narrative of blood which is not a mere recital of the acts of buried warriors and of by-gone times, but has been listened to from the mouths of the very actors themselves in many of those horrid tragedies, (for cannabalism always wound up the drama) with all the ferocious and disgusting details which many of the older chiefs have a pleasure in relating. The labours of the Missionaries, and the frequent intercourse which the tribes now hold with civilized men, have happily wrought a great change in this respect. The minds of the rising generation are occupied with other pursuits than those which engaged the attention of their immediate ancestors. The means of carrying on a profitable trade with the British settlers, is now a common subject of conversation, rather than dwelling as formerly on the warlike feats of their fathers, and laying plans for the destruction of their enemies; indeed the ignoble subjects of pigs and potatos, blankets and tobacco, seem at present entirely to engross their attention. It may indeed be anticipated, as the intercourse with us becomes established by means of roads and by the extension of our settlements, that they will imitate us in the practice of pastoral and agricultural pursuits, unless the government should think fit to proclaim and seize upon all their uncultivated lands as demesne of the Crown, which was reccoinmended by the Select Committee on New Zealand affairs. I feel assured that this will meet with the most determined opposition on the part of the natives, and never can be carried out (laying aside the injustice of the act) without a great expenditure of blood and treasure and could only terminate in the utter extermination of the Maori race
Jan. 2. We rose at day-break, and after having breakfasted, and overcome the usual difficulty of procuring guides, who always put off the arrangement until the last moment, for the purpose of extracting a larger utu, in proportion to the traveller's impatience to get on, we set out on a glorious morning. The road to the bridge over the Waikato, 64 is one continued ascent and descent, across the plateaus and into the ravines that divide them, the clear mountain-streams which course through them being seldom so deep or broad as to require fording....
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The surface was covered with fern, intermixed occasionally with grass, which at one period must have been forest land, judging from the stumps still standing, and the remains of decayed trunks scattered about. I remarked several ancient pas, defended by earthen ramparts and ditches where necessary, on commanding hills near our line of route. Nothing shews the present peaceful state of the country, more than the abandonment of these strongholds, which were once so necessary to the safety of the inhabitants.
After a few miles, the face of the country changes, becoming more broken, and the soil lighter, mixed with pumiceous gravel, and shewing by the stinted vegetation its inferior quality. From the crest of a hill, the vast plain which extends eastward in an almost unbroken level to the Lake of Taupo, and through which the Waikato winds, opened out, its surface being occasionally crossed by low ridges of hills, and its distant horizon broken by the dim outline of still more distant mountains on the borders of the lake; and a little farther in advance, the more immediate valley, or bed of the river, came into view, bounded on either hand by two rows of terraces, so accurately lined out, as to seem almost an artificial work, maintaining a continuous level, excepting where the rise of the general level of the country, caused a corresponding elevation and break of continuity, in order to maintain the horizontal line which deposits from water always assume. We could distinctly trace them until, in the language of perspective, they were lost at the "vanishing point." The terraces are evidently ancient beds of the river, formed as I have briefly described, in the same manner as those on the banks of the Waipa: an accurate examination of them, and of that part of the country generally, would be a most interesting occupation for a geologist, and it is to be hoped that some of the enterprizing members of the Geological Society may be tempted to extend their researches to the antipodes. We soon reached them and descending their steep sides, which slope at an angle of 45°, we stood on the lowest bed, lying between them, through which the river holds its course, and found the soil composed of water-worn pumice-stone, basalt, and pebbles of obsedian, or volcanic glass, forming a perfectly smooth aud hard road. Here I first observed that strong wiry grass, called wi in the Native language, scattered over the surface in large patches, and which appears to be indigenous to these volcanic regions. In the centre, the river, which above may be a hundred yards wide, as it winds between the slopes of the terraces, whose bases it washes, is suddenly contracted by masses of pumiceous conglomerate, to about ten or fifteen yards in breadth, and through which, being of a soft nature, it has scooped out a channel, where it rushes downwards with great velocity, as if through a millsluice,
[We came to the Waikato, winding through its terraces, at a point where it suddenly narrows to about ten or fifteen yards between walls of rock, rushing] as if through a mill-sluice, for two hundred yards, when it leaves its confined channel, and pours itself boiling and eddying, amidst masses of basalt, into a circular pool, where its white and foaming waters again assume their pure green colour. The scene was, altogether, most singular, I cannot say picturesque, as in looking upwards, nothing was seen but the bare level crests and rampart-like sides of the terraces, while each salient point formed by the winding of the river, resembled the angles of a huge bastion.
At the narrowest point of the river's course through the rocks, the natives have thrown across a canoe, with its bottom made level, which serves as a bridge, though not a very agreeable one to a timid person, from being unfurnished with a parapet. The natives are in the habit of exacting a toll from pakeha travellers, which they fix arbitrarily, demanding as much as they think they can screw out of a stranger. On a recent occasion they would not let a gentleman and his party pass until he had paid a sovereign. We however escaped scot free, from my companion being known at the pa. These rapids
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form an impediment to navigation, though canoes are sometimes transported across the flat, but this is one reason, together with the barren quality of the soil, and absence of wood, why settlements are so 'few and far beween', on the upper Waikato, and those that do exist are situated close to basaltic tracts, where is wood and a soil fit for cultivation....
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Our guides now led us to the level of the first terrace, whose surface formed of the gravel I have described, was perfectly hard and would make an admirable natural road. It was thinly sprinkled with dwarf fern, grass and manuka, and was the very personification of sterility, while a burning sun heated the dark gravel to a pitch that we could feel through our shoes, and there was just wind enough to waft the hot air radiated from the earth, in our faces. We could almost fancy ourselves parched by the hot winds of Australia, rather than journeying in the moist and temperate New Zealand. Our route lay for some time in a north-westerly direction along the lower terrace, when it suddenly turned northward, and wound up the slope to the upper terrace, when we found ourselves at the mouth of a valley of some breadth, which extended several miles northward, perfectly level, bounded to the west by the flanks of Maungakaua, and to the east by a continuation of the dividing ridge, between the valleys of the Waiho and Waikato, which terminates behind the plain of Mata Mata, with which place an opening at the further end of the valley, we were told, communicated.
From this spot we again commanded a view of the terraces, extending eastward as far as the eye could reach, until lost in the plain I have described as extending to Taupo, in the centre of which now rose an isolated mountain called Warehunga--to the west again we could trace them winding round the base of the spurs of Maungatautari, on the left bank of the river we had crossed the preceding evening, and on the side we stood running parallel to Maungakaua, until they merged into the level of the low country beyond the mountains, at Kiri Kiri roa. Here may be said to be a portion of the projected road from Auckland to Taupo, ready made, for these terraces are both levelled and metalled by the hand of nature, and would require little labor to convert them into a road, beyond lining out, an occasional cutting to form an ascent and descent from the terraces, which are, as before-mentioned, discontinuous, and the construction of bridges across the mouths of ravines, formed by the winter-torrents from the hills, eating deep into the loose soil composed of pumiceous sand and gravel. In fact the members of the four-in-hand club might dash along in style, over the greater number of these terraces as they now stand.
In assuming therefore that the road has reached the base of the Maungakaua Mountain, it might be carried round its western shoulder to the terraces, or which would be better if practicable, from the absence of swamps, which there is reason to believe is the case, might be carried across the head of the Piako, and northern flank of the above mentioned range, until it reached the opening I have before described, in the valley and conducted onward along its bed, to the upper terrace of the same level. This line would not only be much shorter, but would give access to the fertile plain of Mata Mata, and the adjacent country.
Some distance down the river, at the back of the terraces, on the left bank, rose to a considerable height, a line of whitish rocks of pumice-conglomerate, assuming in many places a columnar form, and supporting an irregular table land--these, seen from the river, with the opposite scenery, must form a very singular and romantic pass. We now crossed the bed of the valley to a subsidiary vale, extending eastward into the hills, through the centre of which coursed a stream called the Piariri, that had worn for itself a channel more than fifty feet in depth and breadth, in the yielding soil over which it passed, and we could perceive that in its downward course to the river, it formed a perfect ravine. Obstacles of this nature, would form the principal difficulty in making the proposed road. I remarked here a syngenesious plant, resembling the everlasting flowers of English gardens, and a small jacobea, with a purple flower I had never before seen, both of which seem peculiar to these pumiceous plains. They were new objects which immediately attracted the eye, in a country where such humble flowers are so very rare, for trees and shrubs form the floral ornaments of New Zealand.
We now ascended the vale, whose bed was well-furnished with several varieties of grass, and clumps of towi-towi, and would form a good cattle-run. Rocks of the formation I have described, jutted out from the bare hillsides in very fantastic forms, at one spot, a mass of them resembled the ruins of an old castle. Near the head of the vale, a bed of rock stretching from one side to the other, over which the stream poured in a cascade, terminated the deep chasm we had followed, and here we were enabled to cross and ascend the hills, which apparently of a light soil, were covered with tall fern. From the summit of a ridge a splendid view opened on all sides--Maungatautari, the eastern extremity of the Rangitoto Mountains, abutting on the plain extending towards Taupo, with the distant hills bounding the lake, lay to the south--the plain of the Waiho and the lofty Aroha chain to the east, while Maungakaua rose to the west, and a perfect sea of hills of the most irregular aud picturesque forms, were immediately around, but bare and wild looking, uninhabited and uncultivated.
After following a ridge of the hills for some time, we reached a clump of wood, where we found one of those isolated plantations which are usually formed in the line of tracks, from one part of the country to another, where the natives make summer residences, retiring to their pas in the winter. A very wild and ragged party of the Ngatihona 67 occupied it, we found them almost living al fresco, on the wood at the edge of their cultivation. A young woman who, a few hours before had given birth to a child, was lying under a rude canopy of branches, and immediately opposite lay a poor old woman, dying from a mortal disease, it was life and death strongly contrasted. The unfortunate dying creature was scarcely noticed, all attention being devoted to the lady 'in the straw', whose infant was a son, consequently valued as an addition of strength to the tribe. I shall never forget the look of gratitude the dying woman gave, on offering her some bread and tea, part of our meal, nor the look of astonishment and envy of her unfeeling countrymen, at our throwing away such luxuries on so useless a subject. This specimen of our liberality served as a hint to the girls of the tribe, some of whom were good-looking, to beg tobacco, which, however, from our abhorrence of the neglect the dying woman experienced, we flatly refused. This indeed is one of the annoyances to which travellers are subjected, but if the beggars are not listened to, they soon cease to importune, for, if from good nature, the request is granted to one, it is the commencement of an unceasing persecution from every man, woman, and child in the place. Tobacco, which is the current coin of the country, should never be given except 'for a consideration'. The abstract sentiment of generosity is unknown to savages. If they give, it is always with the assurance of a return, and any deviation from this rule is looked upon as a weakness, and rather lowers the giver in their estimation.
As we had still some hours of daylight before us, we rose to
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proceed to Pa-ti-teri, 68 at the head of the valley of the Waiho, 69 but this movement was strongly objected to by our guides, who, we now found, had brought us here by a circuitous route, that they might enjoy an evening with their acquaintances. We were resolute and declaring that we would rather carry our own packs than remain, proceeded to shoulder them, when a stout fellow of the party, wisely judging that the tobacco we offered was too valuable to be lost, agreed to accompany us, and releasing our shoulders by burdening his own, we dismissed our former guides, and set out.
On leaving the settlement we descended into a wild gorge, whose sides were covered with projecting masses of rock, in every fantastic variety of form, and we emerged from it into a swampy plain of considerable extent, covered with a species of coarse grass, common to such districts, intermixed, however, with a good deal of florin, the agrostis stolonifera of botanists, which is greedily eaten by cattle, and arikeki, 70 or native flax, again appeared. Crossing this, which was now almost dry, we ascended out of it into a lower range of hills than those we had passed, of a poor soil, chiefly covered with dwarf fern and manuka, but with occasional patches of grass. These ranges which ran north and south, were of some height and of very unequal outline, and several deserted pas crowned their highest summits. Traversing several flats, similar to the one I have described, but less swampy, and which would afford good feed for cattle, or even sheep, we reached what may be called the true valley of the Waiho, consisting of a poor soil, covered however with a great deal of the wiry grass I have described, among the dwarf fern and manuka. Over its surface were scattered long low ridges of hills with level summits, and to the east about twelve miles distant, rose the wall of mountains, which extending southward from the lofty Aroha, lose their serrated outline in an almost horizontal prolongation, to the defiles of Toa, 71 which close in the valley. Passing over a level tract between these hills, the path conducted us to a beautiful clear stream called the Horaki, 72 which ran in the centre of an ancient bed, nearly forty feet below the general level of the plain--into this we descended, and forded the river which was knee deep and ran northward, with a rapid current, to join the Waiho. A country
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similar to that we had traversed, lay for some miles between it and the Waiho, which, deep and rapid, has scooped out for itself a bed of at least a hundred feet in depth, in fact a perfect ravine. As there was no bridge over it, we were forced to strip, and to tie our clothes on our shoulders, and thus ford it, which we had considerable difficulty in doing, so strong was the current. Here the river runs on the western side of the plain, but its course tends gradually to the east, and some miles farther to the north, it approaches the eastern mountains, and finally, near to Mata Mata, runs along their base.
From the banks of the Waiho, a walk of several miles over a country very like what I have described, in the course of which we forded several smaller streams, brought us to the wild gorges of the Toa, from which these streams as well as the two rivers, have their source. This singular country would seem to be a table-land, supported by a mass of pumice-conglomerate, and split if we may use the term, into innumerable fissures, each of which forms a ravine, and is the source of a stream. It was moonlight as we entered the ravine leading to Pa-te-tere, and its beams gleaming on the white walls of rock which bounded it, while the recesses were in deep shadow, formed one of the wildest and most striking scenes I have ever witnessed. Ascending a zig-zag path, up a salient angle, which projected between two of the ravines, we reached the table-land on which the pa is situated, and found that the people, a part of the Ngatiraukaua 73 tribe, seemed to partake of the savage character of the neighbouring scenery.
We had not seen a living soul in our long day's journey except at the temporary Ngatihona settlement, nor scarcely a living thing, except a few small birds and insects. There was an absence of animal life that was almost appalling.
As it threatened rain we obtained shelter in a rude ware, and had the pleasure of the company of almost the whole of the inhabitants of the pa, to witness us eat our supper and make our toilette for retiring. We had but an uncomfortable bed, yet in spite of filth and
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fleas, our previous walk of more than thirty miles, in a very hot day, made us sleep soundly until the morning.
Jan. 3. We made Sunday a day of rest. The natives as I have before mentioned, are a remnant of the Ngatiraukaua tribe, who once possessed this district and Maungatautari, and who have been permitted to remain by their conquerors, probably from some intermarriages with them. They have been partially Christianized by the Church Missionary Society, and possess a small chapel, in which, at the summons of a bell, one of their teachers performed service. We, on our part, read some chapters from the Bible, to the no small astonishment of the spectators, who have been taught to consider all pakehas who do not announce themselves as 'Mihinari', to be 'Debara'--anglice 'devils'--and, in truth, it may be said, that the conduct of most of the Europeans with whom they have heretofore come in contact, does not belie the appellation.
We had been astonished the previous night by the utu demanded for a few calabashes of water we required for scalding a pig that we had purchased, and which we were compelled to cook by night in a native oven, so as not to desecrate the Sabbath, but we were soon convinced that the demand was not unreasonable, when on requesting to be shown the stream in which we could perform our ablutions, we were conducted down the almost perpendicular sides of a ravine several hundred feet in depth, to the watering place of the pa, a rivulet which almost filled up its narrow bottom, and the conveyance of water from so great a depth, by such an ascent, in diminutive water vessels like calabashes, was an office of no small labour...
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Here I first observed a species of nettle called onga onga, by the Natives, and I was soon convinced that it was a true urticaria, by being severely stung, on handling it. I had during the day an opportunity of observing the admirable tact the Natives had displayed in selecting this place as a strong-hold. It was an isolated table-land of about three quarters of a mile in length, wedge-shaped, and rather higher than the neighboring plateaus, and surrounded by deep, wooded ravines, whose sides were almost perpendicular. A splendid panorama spread around at the northern angle of the stockade. Immediately in front, and on either hand, lay ranges of these huge clefts, for it is the most appropriate appellation for these ravines, which fissured the immense tableland, on a part of which I stood. They were filled with gigantic rimu, pukatea, mata, and Tawa, or where bare of wood, shewing the white perpendicular walls that bounded them--beyond stretched the plain of the Waiho for thirty miles, terminating in a level horizon, except where broken by the dark woods, which rose on its verge, around Mata Mata. The magnificent Aroha chain, and the triple summits of Maungakaua, both wooded from base to summit, bounded its vast extent, while the bare and serrated range which extends southward from Maungakaua, and divides the valley of the Waiho from that of the Waikato, swept round and closed it in--behind these latter towered the immense, isolated mass of Maungatauri, ahove whose eastern slopes could be distinguished, the faint outline of the Rangitoto Mountains. A thunder-cloud was hovering over Aroha, and whirling in fantastic streams of vapour around its summits--their shadow chequered the surface of the otherwise monotonous plain, with streaks of light and shade, which was farther varied by the bright colour of the patches of dry grass scattered over it. Behind lay the skirts of the great forest that extends to Roturua, which indeed is but a continuation of that which covers the Aroha chain. It wanted water, alone, to have made it as magnificent a panorama as could he imagined, and of which words can give but a faint idea. In viewing this scene, as in others of a similar character, the same painful impression of their solitude obtrudes, for this vast extent of country does not contain more than seven hundred inhabitants
We found the people of this pa, notwithstanding their partial conversion, very rude, ungracious, and exacting, and who, being too indolent to cultivate to a sufficient extent the fine soil around them, were suffering from want of food, as they were then living on fern root and mamako, 75 the soft pith of the tree-fern (Cyathea medullaris). This want, however, is almost universal, at this period of the year, on all the settlements, from the difficulty of preserving such a root as the potato, until the succeeding crop is ripe, and it was this year aggravated by the long and unusual drought, not only delaying that period, but causing a comparative failure of the crop, and they cultivated but little maize and had no wheat. They were afraid to take up the spring crop, now about ripe, and expressed fears for the future, as the crop they had lately put in, for use in April and May,
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had not appeared above ground. Eels, which form so important an article of food in other districts, they had none, and they were too lazy to hunt and catch the pigs that abound in the forest. They were in fact the worst specimens of the Maori I had ever seen, and both sexes were most wretchedly clad, or rather were half naked--this, indeed, might in part arise from their distance from Auckland, and impossibility of carrying their produce to the capital, from which all their wealth and consequent ability to purchase clothing emanates. The few women we saw, with the exception of our hostess, were miserable-looking, and the children more so, we were indeed told, that of late they had lost many by the hooping-cough. Our hostess, however, was a bold, sleek looking dame, who on our refusing to satisfy an exorbitant demand for water, poured upon us a storm of invective, that could have been only equalled in Billingsgate, and I am induced to notice this, because, in general, however rude the men may be, the women are civil and obliging, though perhaps not exactly after our fashion. These Ngatirakaua were much displeased with the imprisonment of their chief Rauparaha, 76 and told us that we intended to kill, stuff, 'wakapapaku', and send him to the Queen. We smiled at the idea of the old chief thus figuring in a glass case at Buckingham Palace, but not so our informants, who firmly believed the report, and looked very grave on the subject. The term 'wakapapaku', literally to make dry, is applied to the baked or dried heads, which were preserved as trophies in the pas, and some of which had found their way into our museums. We remarked that the natives would only take coin in return for what we purchased, instead of tobacco, which is generally preferred in the interior, and we surmised that they did this to procure money for the purpose of purchasing powder, to use in revenging the death of their 'father Rauparaha'. We were several times told, indeed, that the above-mentioned article was still clandestinely sold in the shops of Auckland.
Jan. 4. Having procured, with difficulty, two guides, we left this inhospitable place at sunrise, glad to exchange its squalor and filth for the free air and forest glades, and descended into one of the ravines that bound it. Here, at the entreaty of our people who
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grumbled much at setting out without their breakfast, we stopped for that meal, and certainly a more gorgeous breakfast-room could not well be conceived--we sat on the banks of a clear rivulet, surrounded with luxuriant shrubbery, and canopied by the over-arching, and graceful foliage of the tall tawa, which occupied its bed. We had to scale the almost perpendicular side of the ravine, to reach the opposite table-land, over which the path wound, its windings placing the circumjacent scenery in varied and picturesque points of view. Sometimes through the glades of the forest, which covered the table-lands, were seen glimpses of the distant plains--sometimes we caught a glance of Maungatautari, tinted by the glorious morning sun, at other times we looked into wild ravines, so filled by the dense foliage of their wood, that it seemed as if we could step on a verdant carpet and ascend the overhanging hills, whose summits rose in every varied form to the eastward. Indeed our continual stoppages to admire the scenery astonished our guides, who could not imagine why we should admire woods rather than potato grounds...
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After thus walking for an hour, we reached a neck of land, and looked into a series of bare wild raviues, whose sides were formed of vertical masses of pumice rock, supporting the superincumbent table lands. As they opened westward towards the plain, we could see beyond it the dividing range between the Waiho and the Waikato, and the position of the sun enabled us distinctly to trace terraces, corresponding in level to the table lands of the Toa, on which we stood, and its beams glancing on the rocks that supported them, shewed them to be of the same formation as those at our feet. If a conjecture may be hazarded, it would appear that the upheaving of this vast extent of country must have been simultaneous, and consequently that the plain must have been formed by the immediate and subsequent rush of the vast body of water, covering these large flat surfaces thus suddenly elevated. Indeed the whole of this singular country is well worthy the attention of the geologist, and would, no doubt, amply repay the labor of research, for passing travellers can merely form hasty conjectures on so interesting a subject. After crossing this isthmus we again traversed a table-land, and Maungatautari again appeared through an opening, aud exposed a vast extent of undulating country, lying between its eastern flanks and the distant Rangitoto Mountains, at the extremity of which rose the cone of Kakapuka, hacked by the faint outline of Pirongia, and the range; a tract of probably forty miles in length and breadth, generally bare, or occasionally dotted with clumps of trees, but no smoke indicated human habitations, nor was there any cultivation. Crossing several similar plateaus each of increasing elevation, connected by razor backed isthmuses, on either side of which were ravines, sometimes bare, at other times wooded, we reached the edge of the great forest that, nearly thirty miles in breadth, extends to Roturua, whose shade we gladly entered, as the sun had become very powerful. In many of the ravines we had passed, and whose timber appeared of more recent growth, rose clumps of the tall cypress looking Rewa Rewa Banksia excelsa, which varied the somewhat monotonous foliage of the common woods. I also observed aloug the sides of the path a species of rye-grass, which I had not seen in any part of the country I had before passed over, The soil of these table-lands is of a light quality, covered with fern and manuka, and the other plants and grasses which accompany such soils, but in the wooded portions, it appeared to be of a much richer nature, and it was only in such spots that the Natives formed their plantations. On entering the forest we crossed an undulating country for some miles, traversing ridges flanked by deep ravines. In one of these we heard the rush of water, and were told that it was the source of the Waiho. As I have described the scenery of a New Zealand forest, it is unnecessary to repeat the description, farther than to mention, that here the trees, consisting chiefly of rimu, tawa, and rata, were of gigautic size, that the shrubbery offered varieties of glossy-leaved shrubs, and small trees we had not as yet met with, that the ground was covered with the most beautiful ferns and mosses, and that creepers and lichens of the brightest colours, clung to every stem and branch. The clumps of korau, the tree-ferns surpassed indeed in size and beauty any we had as yet seen, but we missed one ornament of the forest, in the absence of the graceful nikau, the New Zealand palm, which does not seem to extend to the south of the Waikato.
We had many opportunities of observing the singular manner of growth of the rata, Metrosideros robusta, which first makes its appearance as a vine, attaching itself closely to some tall tree, generally a rimu, up whose stem several creep perpendicularly, throwing out as they ascend lateral branches, or rather roots, in a horizontal direction, these attaching themselves to the upright stems, which annually increase in size, ultimately form a solid mass, and strangle, as it were, the tree, upon whose juices, vampyre like, they have been feeding. They thus creep to the very summit of the tree, and on looking up we could often see the dead branches of the victim, mingling with the glossy leaves and crimson flowers of its executioner, which rose triumphantly above them. It could not be less than one hundred and twenty feet to the topmost branch of many of these rata.
We at length came to an extensive valley or table-land, perfectly level, excepting that at intervals hillocks of pumice rock rose from its surface, the soil appeared rich, and the timber, which was chiefly tawa, was of great size, and it was much less encumbered with shrubs than the more broken country. After traversing it for several miles in a south-easterly direction we halted on an open spot for
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dinner, where we could procure some water, not a drop of which we had seen since we passed the source of the Waiho. Although the trees were at considerable distances from each other, yet such was their size, that the over-arching branches formed a perfect shelter from the sun. A few miles beyond this spot the level terminated, and we entered again into a hilly tract, and here our progress was much obstructed by fires occasioned by the careless habits of the natives in throwing away the fire-sticks they generally carry with them for lighting their pipes, among the moss and leaves which cover the ground; these, rendered preternaturally dry by the long drought, took fire and communicated it to the dead trees, and from thence to the living ones, and thus large tracts were burning with great fury. We from this cause, had to make considerable detours, or for fear of losing the track, to pick our way cautiously among half burnt or still smouldering logs and branches, often ankle deep in warm ashes, and we were occasionally startled by the crash of immense trees, as they yielded to the devouring element. The rata seemed to suffer far more than other trees in these conflagrations, for, having openings near their roots, where the decayed wood of the trees they had stifled in their deadly embrace was exposed, fire seized upon it and thus burning internally, they were, to use a figure of speech, soon devoured by a retaliating justice. While this was in progress, many of them had a most singular appearance--a furnace was glowing at their roots while the whole trunk looked as if unscathed, but that it was burning internally was quite apparent, for smoke, and sometimes jets of fire could be seen issuing from the very top of the tree, and leaf and flower withering under the scorching element.
After thus painfully toiling on for some time, we got beyond the immediate focus of the fires, and the setting sun warned us to halt for the night. We selected the most open space we could find near the path for our bivouack, and as there was no common fern, our natives soon made us beds of the leaves of the tree fern, and kindled a large fire. We were here joined by a chief of the Ngatirakaua, 78 his wife and some followers, on their way from Rotorua to Pateteri. He was a fine looking man, of grave and courteous manners, and being a Christian, before retiring to rest, he prayed with his party and our two guides, and the whole joined in singing the evening hymn. The
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scene was one not easily forgotten, picturesque in its scenery, and pleasing in its associations. As was to be expected in such a place, there were myriads of mosquitoes, which did not seem to trouble the natives, but we suffered unceasing persecution from them until as usual their attacks ceased towards morning, when we snatched about three hours sleep.
Jan. 5. Before we set out in the morning, the Ngatirakaua chief took us aside, and told us that a chief at Ohinemutu, the principal settlement at Rotorua, had vowed that he would kill the first pakeha that came there, in retaliation for the death of 'his father, Rauparaha', who as I had before stated, was reported to have been wakapapaku, preparatory to being sent to the Queen, and urged us to return. We laughed at the idea, and told him we should certainly go on, for that no chief would be so cowardly as to kill unarmed and peaceful travellers, and accordingly wished him good morning. He however looked very grave, and shook his head very significantly.
After some time, we again entered an undulating country, where the fires still offered impediments to our progress. At length we came to a ravine, filled with rocks and immense boulders of pumice, which although in winter a foaming torrent, was now almost dry, offering only small holes, filled with very indifferent water, but of which we gladly availed ourselves for we had suffered much from thirst, having been restricted the previous night to the use of a small quantity, which we had carried in our tin pots, there being no streams between where we dined and slept; this happened from the extreme dryness of the season, for it is a rare occurrence in New Zealand, not to meet with water everywhere. We halted to breakfast at this spot, which was rendered singularly picturesque by columnar masses of rock, rising along the edge of the ravine, pleasingly tinted with lichens and mosses, and surrounded by beautiful shrubs which had rooted themselves in the crevices.
Ascending the opposite bank, which was almost perpendicular, we reached a ridge which was evidently the highest point of the forest ranges, continuing along this for some time, we suddenly emerged from our 'sylvan canopy', whose shade we had enjoyed for a day and a half, into the bright sunshine, and on a sloping continuation of the ridge covered with tall fern; we descended from this, and crossed several hills under rough cultivation, and then a clump of forest, from whose further edge we saw below us a fine valley opening on the lake, which was of an oblong form, reflecting on its
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glassy surface the surrounding hills, and the island of Mokoia rising in the centre. It was truly a magnificent scene, and we enjoyed its extent and variety the more from having for some length of time had our vision bounded by some fifty yards, and that, one continuous range of stems and shrubs, which, notwithstanding their beauty and that of the ferns growing beneath them, became at length tiresome and oppressive. We now descended into the valley, over a succession of bare hills, blackened by a recent fire, the head of which was closed in by a continuation of the wooded ridges we had just left, and crossed to its centre over a poor sterile soil to reach the banks of the Awaiti, 79 a fine clear stream which winds through it, and so deep as not to be forded; here we found a small settlement, occupied in the summer for the purpose of catching gorau, 80 a species of cray-fish, or rather fresh water lobster, for they more resemble the latter, and were received by a tall and venerable looking chief, who had the fine Roman features I have remarked among that grade of the Maori, with the salutation of 'Nau mai, nau mai' which is here the term of welcome instead of the 'Haere mai', of the other parts of the country. In this cordial greeting of the Ngatiwakaua 81 chief, we discovered none of the bloody minded intentions, which our Ngatiraukaua friend had informed us, were likely to be exhibited towards us, for he insisted in the most hospitable manner that we should stop and take food with him, and forthwith had a pot of potatoes and gorau prepared for us, which, with a draught of the cool delicious water of the river, we enjoyed much, after our fatigue in crossing the bare parched hills under a burning sun. The recompense of a few figs of tobacco made us 'sworn brothers', and we parted as they say in novels, with 'marks of mutual esteem'. In following the course of the stream, we came to another settlement, established for a similar purpose, and here, our guides being related, and a death having taken place since their last visit, we were compelled to delay until a tangi took place. This curious ceremony consists in the parties who are actors, applying their noses together, and in a wailing voice describing the event which has caused the lamentation; the men snuffle and sob, but tears fall plentifully down the cheeks of the women, who are most vociferous in their grief. We were much tickled with the lugubrious counte-
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nance of one of our guides, whose visage at all times, was like that of an undertaker's mute; it was so very ludicrous while waiting for his turn to condole with the widow, that we could not resist laughing, much to our scandal, on so solemn an occasion. It was no sooner finished, than the whole party began to laugh and talk as usual, and to devour a large mess of potatoes and gorau, although not more than half an hour had elapsed since they had partaken of a meal that was quite a day's allowance; indeed our man Peter, who though he did not join in the tangi, was a party to the feast, eat so greedily, that he brought on a fit of indigestion, and was groaning in pain the whole evening.
We followed the river to its mouth, and then continued along the shores of the lake which were covered with a gravel of pumice and obsidian, and after a walk of two miles, came to another river, on whose banks was a large pa, from which every man, woman, and child issued to look at the pakeha, and strong symptoms appeared of an intention on the part of our guides to enjoy another tangi, and its terminating feast, but to this trial of our patience, we refused to submit, and insisted on proceeding without stopping, to their no small dissatisfaction, who looked upon us as greater savages than we did them, for thus baulking a second exhibition of their feelings and appetites. A third river entered the lake some distance beyond the last, whose course lay along the foot of the hills, that bound the valley to the south, which here terminating in a bold projection within a mile of the lake, turn abruptly to the south, and form a part of the continuous chain of hills which entirely surround it.
We soon reached a promontory jutting into the water, which had all along obstructed our view of the southern portion of the lake, and on ascending it, we came in sight of the extensive plain which runs back from its shores, and of the isolated hill on which the pa of Ohinemutu stands, from whose base, clouds of white vapour were rising, and half shrouding it, while from the other boiling springs, scattered over the plain, jets of vapour were continually puffing up, like steam from a railway train. We descended to the beach from this headland, which was bounded by cliffs of pumiceous gravel, the evident continuation of a terrace, which we had observed to bound either side of the valley we had just left, and then to wind along the foot of the hills, as far as the eye could reach, being doubtless the ancient shores of the lake, when it occupied the whole of the extensive basin, which is now partially dry. After leaving the shore we
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entered on the plain I have described, as extending in a perfect level to the southern hills, many of which were covered with fine woods and all of them of varied and picturesque forms. Continuing our course parallel to the shores of the lake, we came to a pool, from which vapour was rising, and on immersing our hands, found it to be of a temperature from which we quickly withdrew them. This then was our first acquaintance with the boiling springs of Rotorua, and we had now fairly entered upon this extraordinary region.
As we approached the pa, still further evidence of the subterranean action that was going on, appeared around us. Large patches of the surface were covered with a slimy mud or a whitish deposit, scattered over which were circular apertures of various sizes, some of considerable extent, others, mere spiracles, in which liquid mud was bubbling up, and from which arose a mixed acidulous and sulphurous odour. The surface soil around these, and indeed everywhere in their vicinity, was hot to the touch, and we were warned by our guides to approach them cautiously, as the treacherous crust often gives way, and the incautious visitor finds himself up to his knees in scalding mud; we were informed that many frightful accidents of this kind had occurred. Continuing thus for some time, we reached the banks of a river, about thirty feet wide, distant a quarter of a mile from the pa, perfectly cold however, though there were hundreds of boiling water and mud springs in action close to it, and indeed a cluster of huts were built along its banks for the express purpose of enjoying the luxury of the bath from reservoirs filled by those very springs. We crossed the stream by a very rickety bridge formed of an old canoe, and soon reached the ancient stockade which surrounds the pa, now neglected and falling into decay, but whose larger palisades were as usual terminated by hideous figures, all with their tongues thrust out in token of defiance, and in a variety of significant attitudes. The entrance however, a low narrow portal formed in one broad piece of timber, was ornamented as to the detail with considerable taste, though the figures carved on it were equally grotesque with the others. We took up our abode in a well built and commodious ware, belonging to Hohepa, one of the Christian teachers, who always accommodates respectable pakeha. He was a fine looking man, more than six feet high, with a handsome though grave countenance, and he did all that he could to make us comfortable, by spreading mats on a kind of dais, and we consequently spent the most agreeable night we had enjoyed since we left Otawao.
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Jan. 6. We rose at daybreak, and on going out found the whole pa enveloped in vapour, which was rising from the numerous ngawha, 82 and we could hear the voices and the splashing, though we could not see the persons, of a number of people in the lake below, who were enjoying the luxury of a bath, in the common bathing-place. Thither we descended and found it nothing less than an arm of the lake, occupying at least an acre in extent, which was heated to a temperature of 96°, both by the streams that flow into it from the ngawha, as well as from a large boiling spring in its centre, by approaching, or keeping at a distance from which, the temperature may be varied at pleasure, but in the summer season it is never below what I have stated.
On reaching the edge of the basin, a scene, certainly unique of its kind, presented itself. About a hundred and fifty people of all ages were engaged in bathing, all in a state of nature, with the exception of the women, who, beyond a certain age, wore the bouraki, 83 a species of kilt made of flax, reaching from the waist to the knee. In one corner might be seen a group of young women with dripping tresses, like so many Stygian Naiads--in another, a swarm of young urchins, sporting about like so many imps in Dante's Inferno. Here were a party of the seniors of the pa, seated in the water, quietly enjoying their morning pipe--and there, a family from grand-father to grandchild, and mothers with infants at the breast, enjoying this agreeable luxury; but the strangest scene of all was a row of young men sitting up to their necks in water, in front of whom was squatted a man who was asking questions, which were answered by the posse in full chorus. I found, on enquiry, that these were a set of young noviciates aspiring to an entrance into the Christian field, who were repeating the ten commandments to their teacher, as an initiatory rite.
The water had not a very inviting appearance, being of a muddy green colour, and on entering, our feet sunk in a slimy mud, when one could scarce do away with the impression but that at each step some horrible reptile, bred in this Avernian lake, would seize upon the rash intruder on his domain. We soon, however, reached a hard bottom, and then plunging in, swam and revelled in the delightful temperature of the water. We were soon followed by a crowd of boys who are half amphibious, shouting and playing all sorts of antics around us, and one young wag set the whole party in a roar
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by shouting out--'Look at the pakeha, with a skin like a pig!' alluding to the colour of that animal after it has been killed and scalded.
As the heated water is of very low density, swimming requires great exertion, and we could scarcely support ourselves whenever we entered a hotter strata by approaching the boiling spring in the centre of the basin. So agreeable was the sensation, however, of swimming in a hot bath, that we were loath to quit it until a feeling of exhaustion compelled us to do so, and our limbs were so relaxed, that on returning to our lodging, we were obliged to lie down for some time to recover our strength. This frequent use of the bath by the natives, for they spend half their time in this public one, or in private ones attached to many of the houses, cannot be favourable to their general health, for though it affords an exemption from skin-disease, so prevalent among the natives in other parts of the country, and gives their skins an almost velvet softness and gloss, yet I remarked that a greater number of the children were disfigured by glandular swellings about the neck, and other scrofulous tumors, than I had seen elsewhere.
We had some difficulty in procuring wood, with which to prepare our breakfast after the English fashion, as there is none nearer than six miles, for the inhabitants of the pa cook their food by immersing it in the boiling springs, which are so numerous near the lake, that almost every house possesses a natural kitchen, and those who live higher up the hill, make use of several, common to all who choose to take advantage of them as public property. But as all the waters are slightly acidulous, food cooked in the ngawha, corrodes the teeth, and gives them a blackened decayed look, so that natives of Rotorua are recognized everywhere by that disfigurement; nor does it seem to agree with Europeans, being apt to produce indigestion and irregularities of the bowels.
The pa occupies the steep sides of the hill I have before described, as rising from the edge of the lake, to the height of perhaps two hundred feet-its base, and a long point, jutting out, which forms one side of the common bathing pool. The foot of the hill and the point are composed of a whitish rock, a deposit from the springs, which seems to be an impure alumina, the chemical base of clay. It is indeed a mere crust, covering an immense reservoir of boiling water, for every part of it is perforated by circular apertures to the edge of which the water rises in a state of ebullition. Each family has managed to secure two or more of these, in the square fenced
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enclosures, common to native pas, which as I have before mentioned, they use as a cooking-place, but they also make use of them for other purposes of domestic convenience, one, being that of private baths called wai ariki which are hollowed out of the rock or shaped with flat slabs, and are heated to a suitable temperature, by means of channels, which convey the necessary quantity of boiling water from the spring that is constantly overflowing, into the bath, or it can be turned into the lake at pleasure, and the family, by a little management, can always keep the wai ariki at the same heat. Another, and very singular employment of these springs is, their use as fire-places, and this is managed by covering the apertures with smooth slabs of rock, which, becoming thoroughly heated, impart an agreeable warmth to the family seated on them. They are in fact hot plates, which are never cool. The weather was too warm for the natives to use them, consequently the dogs of the pa were permitted the sole enjoyment of a station which, in the winter, they only participate with their masters. Cats there are none, as rats can find no hiding holes, without a risk of being boiled or roasted alive. Even sand-flies find the soil too hot for them, and mosquitoes cannot stand the effect of the sulphurous steam. The people of Ohinemutu are thus delivered from three of the pests which afflict other parts of the Colony.
Some of these springs are of considerable size, one, on the edge of what may be called the place of the pa, an open space in which there is a common cooking-place and hot plate, is so deep, that it appears of a black colour, and as it is not guarded by a fence, is the scene of frightful accidents. The eldest son of our host fell into it, and was instantly scalded to death. Indeed the newly-formed crust often gives way if incautiously trodden upon, and the legs of the unlucky wight are severely scalded. Tradition relates that a large portion of the point once gave way, from the effects of an earthquake, and all the natives who had lived upon it perished. Nothing shews the force of habit more, than the feeling of security which the people seem to enjoy, while living over a boiling cauldron, into which a convulsion of nature might in a moment precipitate them.
In walking through this part of the pa, the whole scene strikes the visitor as being almost of an unearthly character--the large cauldrons, the smaller springs, in fierce ebullition, often sending up jets of boiling water, the heated streams running in every direction, the sulphurous vapour tainting the air--the feeling that in an instant he
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might be engulphed, and suffer a horrible death, leaves an impression that no one who has visited Ohinemutu, will readily forget. The upper part of the hill, however, though evidently formed by the same action, as masses of the same rock that is seen below jut out from its sides, is covered with a rich volcanic clay, on which were planted large fields of kumera, neatly fenced, and attended with all the care that the natives generally bestow on that root. At the base of the southern face are also numerous boulloirs, both of water and mud, but strange to say, vegetation did not seem to be affected by the closest contact with them, for the manuka and other shrubs, though exposed to their vapour, grew with such luxuriance immediately around, as to hide them, and often, they could only be discovered by the jets of steam, and the gurgling sound of the liquid mud in ebullition.
I only had the means of roughly testing these springs, with the common test papers of litmus, acetate of lead, and turmeric, and a few chemicals, but I found that all of them were more or less acidulous, and that they contained sulphuretted hydrogen or sulphur in solution, but I did not discover the presence of any free alkali, neither lime nor iron, though in the bathing-pool the boys were continually diving down and bringing up small nodules of sulphuret of iron: nor is the taste of their water in any degree nauseous, the teeth alone being set slightly on edge by the sulphurous acid which they contain. There is no doubt however, but they possess valuable medicinal qualities both for internal use, and external application, as the natives cure many diseases by simple immersion in them, but I should imagine that their uniform heat is the most active agent in the cure. However, an accurate analysis of their individual composition, which I had not the power of making, would throw light on their use in specific diseases, and it would be desirable that such should be made under the auspices of Government.
As yet we had found none of the feelings of hostility exhibited towards us which we had reason to expect, from the report of our Ngatirakaua acquaintance, on the contrary, we met with courtesy on all hands, and were visited in a friendly way by many of the principal rangatira of the place--indeed on my mentioning what we had heard, to our friend Hohepa, he smiled at the idea as absurd. On our return to dinner, however, a tall, good-looking chief walked into the ware and sat down without speaking, as is the usual custom--he at length addressed us and said--'I have been told that you
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have heard that I used hard words against the Pakeha. I did so, for my heart was very dark at hearing that my Father Rauparaha had been killed, but my heart is now made light, for a messenger has arrived from the South, who says that Rauparaha is alive and well. I am sorry for the hard words I used, for great is my love to you!' After such unequivocal expressions of regret, supported by such strong sentiments of regard, though exaggerated by Maori metaphor, we felt bound to extend the right hand of friendship, and cementing the reconciliation by a present of tobacco, we were upon the best terms with our ci-devant blood-thirsty chief, during the remainder of our stay at Ohinemutu.
The conversation now turned on the subject of the proposed road into the interior, concerning which all were open-mouthed, for said they, 'If we permit the Governor to make a road, he will send up soldiers and take our land!' This idea has taken such a hold of the native mind, particularly in those districts that have little or no trading intercourse with us, that it is in vain to combat it, by assurances that we have no such intention. It is indeed different where the tribes have tasted the sweets of a profitable trade with us, and feel that an easier and more rapid communication with Auckland, would increase those advantages. But the Ngatiwakaua of Rotorua, have scarce any trade with the capital, except by the circuitous route of Muketu, 84 and we did not attempt to argue the question, but informed them that the road would not pass within forty miles of their territory, and said that we were certain, when they heard of the advantages other tribes would derive from it, that they would come to the Governor, and beg him to extend a branch of it to Rotorua.
The inhabitants of Ohinemutu are five hundred in number, and can muster about two hundred fighting men; one-third of this number are converts to the Church Missionary Society under Mr. Chapman, and the same number are attached to the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church, under Père René, one of the Propagandist Missionaries, who resides in the pa, and the tinkling of whose bell to matins and vespers, with the measured chant of his flock were heard during the day; the remaining third are pagans. The Church Missionary converts have also a chapel in which morning and evening service is regularly performed by one of the teachers, as Mr. Chapman resides at the Ngae on the eastern shores of the lake,
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about ten miles distant. An amusing estimate, however, of the relative value of the creeds, was made to my companion by one of the natives. 'The Catholic priest', said he, 'is a kind civil man, I keep him on my left hand, but I keep the missionary on my right hand, for his payments are good.' The fact is, the Catholic priest is poor, and his expenditure is trifling, while the more ample means of the members of the Church Missionary Society enables them to live in a more liberal manner, and to purchase provisions from the natives whose self interest is thereby gratified, hence this candid avowal. Morality is at a very low ebb, especially among the pagan part of the inhabitants, and they are accused of being great thieves. Indeed we had a specimen of their adroitness in pilfering, for a small map of the island which I carried together with a sketch book in a canvas case slung over my shoulder, was abstracted by a young urchin, as I was walking about the pa, with all the adroitness of a London pickpocket. It was however found to be of no value, and was soon after returned to me, with a bare-faced demand for utu and I was told laughingly how it had been taken. Indeed, most visitors have to suffer the loss of some articles of their travelling equipage, but we escaped because the rank and character of our host Hohepa served as a safeguard.
In the evening we walked out to view some springs to the eastward of the pa. On our way we met a man, who seemed to view with great admiration a belt round my waist, used to fasten the blue cloth shirt which is generally worn on these excursions, for much to my amusement he addressed me in the gravest manner. 'How do you do Sir, with your fine new belt.' We passed on our way some extensive kumera gardens, and soon got among thickets of manuka, when we were suddenly startled by hearing a hollow roar, and seeing close before us a jet of boiling water thrown up several feet into the air; on approaching the spot, we saw a large circular aperture in the rocky deposit, into which the water had nearly sunk out of sight, but the hollow sound being again heard after a few minutes, we were warned by our guides to retire, and the boiling water again spouted up as before. This intermitting action continued the whole time we were near the spot, and in the winter, this geyser is said to eject its water to the height of fifteen feet and more. It is related on one occasion that a marauding party of the Ngatituwharetoa, a Taupo tribe, had come here with hostile intentions, and had from the warmth of the circumjacent ground, bivouacked around the
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aperture, when an unusual stream of water issued from it to a great height, and propelled by a powerful wind, overwhelmed a great number of the marauders, who were scalded to death, an event which the natives of the pa attributed to the wrath of an avenging atua, or spirit, punishing them for their unprovoked aggression. The water thus thrown out, is received into a rocky basin below the immediate source, and is used as a washing place by the natives; I therefore expected to find it highly alkaline, but in this supposition I was mistaken, for it did not affect the usual tests for alkalis, but deeply blackened sugar of lead, thus showing that it was strongly sulphureous. It is probably the entire absence in its composition of the acid, which prevails in all the other springs, that renders it suitable for washing, as acids harden any unctuous substance. The natives find, that the other springs do not cleanse their greasy garments, and consequently have recourse to the one in question where an absence of any opposing principle permits the boiling water to perform its usual purifying office. Not far off, there is a very large basin, filled to the brim with hot water, but not in ebullition, for its surface is like a mirror, and of such a depth that we could not see the bottom of the rocky cavity that contained it, consequently, it appeared of a deep black colour, though when taken out it was quite pellucid. It was acidulous, though so near the one just described; but the most curious object in this extraordinary region, was a pool of perfectly cold water, of a greenish yellow colour, whose soft muddy banks were covered with a white efflorescent crust. It reddened litmus paper intensely, and had a highly acidulous and bitter taste; from which we judged it to be a bisulphate of alumina and potassa--or in unscientific terms, alum in combination with an extra proportion of sulphuric acid. Here then were three springs, within two hundred yards of each other, of different temperature and qualities, one boiling hot, a second warm, and a third preternaturally cold. The natives make use of the latter, as if instinctively for the cure of diarrhoea and dyssentry....
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Some distance beyond these springs, we came to a circular bay, with a large bare flat extending some way inland, covered with a white gravel formed of disintegrated portions of the rock I have described; and the bay as far as we could see was evidently composed of a similar rock, as its reflection gave the waters a yellow tinge. This flat was covered with pools and bouillers, of various temperature and qualities, and around some of them the surface was perfectly yellow from a coating of sulphur deposited by its waters. At its eastern edge, a river enters the lake, its waters were acidulous and tepid, from the number of springs which pour their contents into it. We could trace its course across the plain by the vapour arising from these springs, as far as the Ngawha of Wakawerawa, which is situate at the foot of the southern hills, and sent up immense clouds of steam, but we were obliged to defer our visit to this interesting spot, as the evening was setting in. On our return we were much struck with the number of these ngawha which were scattered over the plain, in fact the surface must cover an immense reservoir of boiling water, heated by the internal ignition of beds of sulphur, or by the combustion of iron pyrytes and the bases of various earths, but chiefly alumina, which held in solution by an excess of carbonic acid, deposits on coming to the surface, where the superabundant acid is thrown off, the particles, which form the rock that is universally seen, and the mud which accompanies it.
The natives manufacture pipe-bowls and lamps from this substance. One of the latter neatly made, filled with liquid lard, and having a wick of twisted flax, gave as light in Hohepa's house. Flax is not indigenous to thia part of the country, indeed we had seen none except some artificially planted since we left the plains of the Waiho. After indulging in a bath which we found very grateful after the fatigues of the day, but which from our experience of the relaxing qualities of the waters, we did not prolong as on the former occasion, we retired to rest, having previously engaged two men for a "consideration" in tobacco, to accompany us to Rotomahana.
Jan. 7th. The morning was lowering and threatened rain, and the air being saturated with moisture which prevented it from taking up any of the vapour from the ngawha, the whole pa was enveloped in a
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sulphureous steam, causing a very disagreeable, I might almost say a suffocating sensation, and we were glad to escape from it, so after breakfast we took leave of our worthy host and proceeded along the shores of the lake in an easterly direction. The clouds shrouded the summits of all the surrounding mountains and immense volumes of steam were rolling upwards from Wakawerawa, 86 and mingling with them, the air even on the plain was close and stifling, and the whole scene was perfectly stygian. We forded the tepid river we had seen the previous day, and continued our course over the plain which was sterile and only covered with dwarf fern, manuka and other plants, common to such soils, without a vestige of cultivation on its surface. After a walk of two miles we reached the terrace I have described as being situated at the base of all the hills and surrounding the lake; immediately beyond it, we entered a pass bounded by bare hills, which led to a valley, whose bed was perfectly dry and covered with the short wiry grass called wi wi, a circumstance very unusual in New Zealand, where the slightest depression in the ground is either a swamp or the channel of a stream, but no doubt the water which must run from the steep sides of the hills, filters through the porous soil in the valley and contributes its quota to feed the ngawha, many of which in the winter, are so cooled by this influx of water that they can be bathed in with impunity. The bounding hills, of considerable height, are often supported by columnar masses or walls of pumiceous brescia, which appears to be the most common rock in these regions; and many of the gorges which opened on either hand along its course were very picturesque, offering glimpses of distant wooded hills, though they themselves were so bare and rocky.
We had been overtaken by the threatened rain shortly after we left the pa, and our two guides though half naked, and bareheaded immediately spread umbrellas, to our no small amusement, for it was so truly ridiculous, to see two savages employing such a modern refinement, while two English gentlemen were walking under the shower without any other covering than their ordinary dress. It appeared that these were presents received at Mata Mata, the previous summer on the occasion of a feast given by Terapipipi 87 commonly known by his baptismal name of William Thompson the son of Waharoa, the famous Ngatehoua 88 warrior, at which a peace was
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cemented between that tribe and those of Rotorua, who had long been at deadly feud.
In our course along this valley which is several miles in length, we observed on the side of the path one of those grotesque carved heads, which usually ornament the pas, rendered still more so, by having a pipe stuck in the mouth and the head ornamented by an old hat and feather; this, so ridiculous to us, is an object of veneration to the natives, as it marks the halting place of the body of a great chief, in its transit to the resting place of the bones of his fathers, it was therefore strictly tapu. At length we reached a wood, through which we descended and came in sight of the lake of Okarika 89 whose form is nearly circular and which is environed by picturesque hills. On a rocky knoll terminating a long point that projects into the lake, is situated the pa, to which we were ferried in a canoe. We found a cluster of neat wares and a good deal of careful cultivation in the rich soil at the base of the hill, and were loudly welcomed by the inmates with the usual salutation of 'Nau mai, Nau mai!' and to convince us, that this was not Vox et preterea nihil we were forthwith presented with a basket of fine potatoes and gorau which latter were particularly palatable. Our hostess was an ariki or chieftainess of the tribe, who rejoice in the lengthy title of Ngatituhourangi, and inhabit Okarika, Tarawera, and Rotomahana. She was a handsome interesting-looking woman, but stone blind, notwithstanding [which] she seemed to be treated with marked kindness and attention by the tribe.
After requiting our hospitable entertainment by some tobacco, a precious commodity so far inland, we crossed to the southern end of the lake, a distance of half a mile, in a similar manner, and landing, we traversed a narrow pass bounded by basaltic rocks, the first I had remarked since leaving Maungatautari, and at its extremity came in sight of a part of the magnificent lake of Tarawera, its broad expanse, bounded to the east by wooded mountains, broken by headlands, and to the south by the serrated summits of Tarawera range; as the rain had cleared away, it lay before us calm and placid, in all the beauty of a fine summer's afternoon. A walk of half a mile, in which we crossed a clear mountain stream, brought us to the edge of the lake, whose whole circumference was now displayed, being bounded equally to the west and north by mountains of the most picturesque outlines though bare of wood. The scenery was beautiful, but quite
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unlike anything I had ever seen in New Zealand, it reminded me of a Swiss lake. The tinting of Tarawera 90 whose furrowed slopes displayed these rich ochry colours, peculiar to mountains of volcanic origin, and of the truncated cone of Rua Wahia, 91 which lay behind it, was perfectly gorgeous and through a gap which opens between its eastern shoulder and the opposite mountains we could see the faint outline of the cone of Mount Edgecumbe. Through this opening, the only one in its whole circumference, rushes the stream which descending with a rapid current, reaches the great plain behind Matata and Wakatani, 92 at a spot called the kupenga, where it branches off into two large rivers, which winding through the plain, enter the sea at either place. 93
Our path lay sometimes along the smooth gravelly shores of the lake, at other times over headlands, from some of which poured small cascades, and we often passed large masses of obsidian and slag which had fallen from the face of the impending hills, whose summits were supported by walls of lava and volcanic slag contorted into every variety of shape and studded with masses of obsidian whose vitreous surface glanced under the evening sun, in fact it appeared as if the lake occupied an immense crater whose sides had been formed of the surrounding hills. A farther walk of four miles brought us to the pa of Ruakareo situated on a headland formed of pumice rock and basalt, projecting into the lake. The neck which connects it with the mainland was crossed by a stout fence which we entered through a gate, and following a made path, neatly gravelled, reached the residence of Mr. Spencer by whom and his amiable wife we were most hospitably received.
In passing along we were struck with the neatness of the cultivation, of the wares and of the paths which almost assumed the appearance of streets; there was none of the filth which renders the generality of pas so disgusting; and there was moreover a propriety in the manners of the people, very different from the rude, unceremonious curiosity which is generally so annoying to strangers on their entering such places. It was plain some extraordinary influence had been at work, to create this obvious change, and we found that the unaided efforts of Mr. Spencer, had been the sole means of metamorphosing a New Zealand pa into a place much resembling
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an English village. In this Herculean labour he had to combat the most inveterate habits and prejudices, but he did not confine himself to precept alone, as is too generally the case, he wisely accompanied it by example. It was quite evident that there could be no improvement in the internal arrangements of the pa, until the pigs were ejected who not only covered it with filth but destroyed all attempts at cultivation within its precincts. This preliminary step was at last taken by the natives, and their quondam associates were put 'beyond the pale', that is they were prevented from entering by the fence I have described, and a particular spot was marked out for feeding them, to which these sagacious animals regularly repaired at an understood signal. This being done, Mr. Spencer next pointed out to them that a quantity of valuable ground within the pa was lying perfectly useless, covered with weeds, upon which a portion of their food might be grown at their hand, instead of going to a distance to raise it. This common was therefore equally apportioned among themselves, cleared and cultivated, which operation he not only superintended, but spade in hand, was at the head of the labourers. The next improvement was a similar clearance of the little fenced compartments which each family possess, and which in this place were universally surrounded with planted flax, generally Tehori, which they used for making their mats, nets, and for other economical purposes; he convinced them that by removing the weeds that choked the plants and digging the ground about them, that the leaf would grow more luxuriantly and the fibre be of finer quality, this was accordingly done; then followed the improvement of the thoroughfares. While this was going on, Mrs. Spencer on her part was not idle in endeavouring to improve the habits of her sex. It had been previously customary with them to beg needles and thread for the repair of their garments, if they ever did take the trouble to do so, but she always refused to give the former unless they brought something in payment, and she insisted upon making the latter themselves from the Tehori flax. Soap also, she insisted must be paid for, and indeed every other article which they were in the habit of procuring gratuitously from the missionaries. By these means, however, they began to value and take care of things for which they had to pay. It sometimes happened that the men complained that the women did not mend their clothes, she explained to them that it was unreasonable to expect the women to be sempstresses while they made them 'hewers of wood and drawers of
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water'. Many of the men saw the force of this reasoning and henceforward carried in the wood and water.
But the most interesting labour in which Mr. Spencer was engaged, was, inducing the natives to rebuild their chapel, which had been burned to the ground, by the bad habit they have of carrying lighted pipes, even to prayers, and one of them having been stuck into the raupo of which the chapel was built, it ignited that inflammable material, and caused the catastrophe. The only spot where the natives could procure suitable timber for the frame-work, was in a ravine which opened on the lake, some distance from the pa, and to have done that, they must have cut the trees, and sawn them on the spot, in a most inconvenient position, and even then, they would have had to carry or drag the sawn timber a considerable distance round a swamp, which lay between the saw-pit and the shores of the lake. He pointed out these difficulties, and proved to them how they might be obviated--first, by making a road across the swamp--then constructing a carriage on which the logs could be almost dropped from a precipice convenient for the purpose, and thence easily drawn to the shores of the lake, and there sawn into suitable sizes, from whence they could be floated to the pa. He had of course, much difficulty in arousing the native indolence to undertake a work new to them and foreign to their habits, but he at last succeeded--the road was commenced and finished under his superintendence and personal exertion--a rude, but efficient carriage constructed--levers, ropes and pulleys, instruments totally unknown to the natives, were used to move and lower the logs on the carriage, and the whole were conveyed across the swamp, sawn and floated to their destination, in a much shorter time, and with much less personal fatigue than the natives could have possibly conceived. He, in conjunction with Mr. Falun, a very ingenious mechanic who resides at the pa, arranged the plan of the building, directed the natives in shaping the various portions of the wood work, and in finishing the internal ornaments. When we visited it, the interior was nearly completed.
It is situated on a knoll, the highest point in the pa, and is forty-five feet in length, by twenty-five in breadth; the framework being formed of neatly-finished pilasters of matai, set at equal distances, and connected by elliptical gothic arches of the same material; between each of these is a narrow gothic window, and at one end a large one consisting of three divisions. The roof-tree is supported
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by four pillars, from which spring tasteful ribbed arches, and the whole of the inside is lined with coloured laths, and the reeds of the towi towi, tied down by interlacings of tinted flax, the whole, forming an arabesque pattern, that displayed much taste in the design. A belfry is also in course of erection, and the outside walls formed of raupo, neatly finished after the usual fashion of the natives, and covered with a thatch of a strong smooth rush, called wi wi. When completed, it will be a building of which both the architects and workmen may be justly proud; and Mr. Spencer has got the natives to promise faithfully, that no pipe shall in future desecrate the chapel.
I cannot say how much I was gratified by all that I saw in Ruakareo, as it served to shew, how much the efforts of a single energetic individual, may do towards the improvement of a people, however savage, and apparently unimprovable. There is no doubt, however, that Mr. Spencer had advantages, in finding a simple-minded race, little contaminated by intercourse with low Europeans, who are a curse to whatever society they introduce their infamous habits-but this does not in the least lessen his merits in the pleasing change that has taken place under his auspices.
I need scarce say, that with so intelligent a host, we spent a most agreeable evening. He seemed well acquainted with the native character, and on my remarking that their form of internal government, if they had any, seemed to be that of a republic, he said--'No, it is an anarchy,' and proceeded to explain, that with the exception of some superstitious observances, each man seemed to do 'what was right in his own eyes', that the chiefs had little or no power, when opposed to the general or even individual will, and that chieftainship was a name, rather established by custom, than an hereditary or elective dignity, although he allowed that courage, personal prowess and ability did in some instances, entitle the possessor to a species of authority in the affairs of the tribe. He instanced the great popularity of Rauparaha in these parts, to have arisen less from his talents, than from the presents he was enabled to make, out of the utu given by the New Zealand Company's agent, Colonel Wakefield, for the land supposed to be purchased for that body; of which Rauparaha adroitly managed to secure a very large share.
It is the desire of being noted for liberality and thereby acquiring importance, that causes the New Zealanders to be so desirous of obtaining European articles, for they seem to set little value on them, beyond what is requisite for their own personal convenience. The
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idea of accumulating after our fashion and for the purposes we do, never enters their imagination. We accumulate and retain to increase our importance in the eyes of our fellows, they on the other hand accumulate to give away for the same reason. Tukerau 94 the ariki of Taneroa or Poverty Bay, distributed at one feast, three hundred kaituka 95 mats to his principal guests. It is astonishing how their natural indolence can be overcome in order to acquire a character for liberality. Whole tribes will toil almost night and day to plant an extent of ground with potatoes, to supply one of their feasts. Many of the rangatira have received large sums of money and 'trade' for their lands, but scarce any of them now possess an extra blanket or a sixpence, all has gone in presents. The taurekareka or slaves do not consider it necessary to maintain a reputation for munificence, consequently many of them are possessed of property. Until this vanity is removed from the native mind, it is needless to expect them to pursue a course of regular industry. In the vicinity of our towns however, symptoms of a change are visible, and they begin to feel the importance, that the possession of wealth ensures. If then, we would make them industrious, we must in the first place, however repugnant the doctrine, make them avaricious, and although Mr. Spencer does not inculcate this a la rigueur, he endeavours to impress upon the natives the propriety of not wasting their time in listless indolence, when they are unoccupied in the cultivation of the soil for the means of mere sustenance, but encourages them to prepare for sale the fine flax with which the pa abounds, and thus acquire many articles of foreign manufacture, that will be conducive to their comfort and respectability.
I was shown here a man and a boy who were afflicted with a very peculiar disease. The man had lost the first two joints of all his fingers and the fingers of the boy were so contracted as to be completely bent inwards. It appears that the disease first shows itself by immobility of the joints, then by contraction of the tendons, and finally the joints mortify and drop off by what surgeons would call 'dry gangrene'. The proximate cause of this malady is said by some to arise from eating the raw berries of the karaka, which are known to be highly poisonous though eaten largely by the natives after undergoing preparation; we now know that a disease very similar in
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character appeared at one time in Germany, from eating bread made of the meal of diseased rye, so that there may be some truth in the supposition. Others again more credulous impute it, to the malevolent influence of an Atua or evil spirit, or to the individual being makutu or struck by an evil eye. It is singular that this superstition should extend to every part of the known world, and here likewise, these afflictions are chiefly attributed to old women, or others, who by a saturnine and morose disposition forfeit the goodwill of their neighbours; indeed so powerful is the impression made on the minds of the unfortunate individuals, who imagine themselves to be the victims of their supernatural power, that they often lie down, refuse food and ultimately die, without being affected by any apparent disease.
Jan. 8. We left Ruakareo after breakfast, in a canoe, for Rotomahana, and crossed to the opposite side of the lake, which sends a long arm southward, up which we ascended, amidst richly wooded hills, whose foliage dipped into the very water. Rocks of basalt, lava, or pumice, occasionally projecting in headlands, from which magnificent pohutukawa, adorned by their crimson blossoms, shot out their gnarled branches. We had not seen this tree since leaving the shores of the Waitemata, it seems, therefore, that two conditions are necessary to their existence--rocky banks, and an extent of water. We passed, on our course, a subsidiary branch, extending westward into the hills, and paddled ten miles at least before we reached our landing-place, which lay to the west of the bight into which the tepid waters of Rotomahana--the warm lake--find an exit.
A few poor huts lying on a narrow strip of land, beneath an impending basalt precipice, and on the plateau above, formed the settlement; this latter spot had been selected from having the double advantage, of a shelving pebbly shore, where canoes could be beached, which is rare in this part of the lake, where there is deep water to the very edge of the steep banks; and a wai ariki, or hot bath, furnished by a boiling stream issuing from the foot of the rock. We were received by a venerable-looking old man, the chief of the place, who informed us that we must proceed to the ngawha by land, as the river was under tapu so that no canoe could enter it, in order to preserve the water-fowl which frequent it at this season, for the purpose of breeding, as they would otherwise be recklessly killed while sitting on their eggs. On ascending the sides of the precipice, by rather a perilous path, we found the larger part of the
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settlement to be the most poverty-stricken place we had seen on our journey--the huts were falling to pieces, and their inmates in rags. This state of things evidently arises from their having no communication with the coast, consequently no sale for their produce.
Having procured guides, we followed a path for two miles, over a succession of bare hills, covered with dwarf fern, and patches of wiry grass in the hollows, but our route was sufficiently indicated by the clouds of steam we saw rising above them from the ngawha; at length, on reaching the crest of a hill, we came in sight of the lake, and one of the most singular scenes that imagination can picture. On the side of a hill directly opposite, rose an immense cone of rock, of a dazzling white colour, shaped from base to summit, into a regular graduation of steps, down which poured streams of water, while, from the highest point of the cone, which formed one side of a crater that was tinted with a variety of rich colours, from the effects of heat acting on the clay of which it was composed, rolled volumes of vapour, sometimes enveloping every object, at other times swayed by the wind, in long streams over the neighbouring hills. Various parts of the shores of the lake, and some islands on its dark surface, showed similar appearances, but none to the extent of the great ngawha of Wakataroa, 96 to which we approached by a steep descent leading to the banks of the river that issues from the lake. As it was very deep, our guides stripped and carried us over, though rather in an inconvenient position, for one supported the breast and head, and another the legs, just as if they had been shouldering a log of timber.
We soon reached the base of the cone, from which a pavement of the white deposit stretched down to the shores of the lake. Here the steps commenced, almost imperceptible at first but gradually increasing in height and breadth as we ascended. We had taken off our shoes, as the water flows to a greater or less depth over the whole surface, and found the temperature most agreeable. At length we reached a broader step, it might indeed be called a terrace, which was hollowed out in several places, into circular or oval basins of some feet in diameter, which were filled nearly to the brim with
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water of an opaline colour, which was continually in a course of change, from streams of water pouring into them from a higher step, and finding an exit from channels worn in their edges. They formed the most beautiful natural baths, quite equal to anything of the kind that art could achieve. We thus ascended step after step, each containing one or more of these basins, some having perpendicular walls, others were hollowed out at their base, and adorned by stalactites of a dazzling brightness, reminding one of those ornamental marble fountains, so often seen in Italian cities. It would be an endless task to describe their varied forms. In truth the whole scene was so strangely beautiful, that it looked more like those fairy scenes which are represented on the stage, where the artist has full scope for an inventive genius, rather than a reality. As we ascended, the water gradually increased in temperature, and we were at length compelled to keep on the edge of the cone, where it came in contact with the clay, to avoid having our feet scalded. On reaching the summit, we found it occupied by a large pool of a less opaline colour, than those lower down, and having an immediate connection with the water from which the boiling stream issues, where, strange to say, there stood a dead tree, on a mass of indurated clay-rock, which rises mid-way in the opening of the crater; we were informed that it was covered with leaves until last year, though it must have been continually enveloped in hot steam, a proof, at any rate, that the water does not possess any noxious quality.
By cautiously moving along the edge of the crater, whose walls rise to some height except at the gap through which the water flows, we reached a spot from whence we could look down and see this immense boiling cauldron within, in furious ebullition, but the water was so pellucid, that at the sides, where it was comparatively unagitated, we could perceive their continuation downwards to a considerable depth. It was impossible to avoid a sensation of awe, I might almost say of fear, in gazing on the fierce and ceaseless agitation of the water, over which from the form of the walls, we almost hung, and from which the sudden displacement of a few yards of crumbling clay, might precipitate the gazer, headlong, into the boiling fluid.
We now descended to one of the ranges of steps, where the water, cooled in its passage downwards, by giving off the heat from the surface of successive pools and cascades, admitted of our taking a bath, and to which if we had not been directed by one of our guides
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we should have found out, by seeing the black heads of our other companions, appearing on the milky surface of the basin in which they had immersed themselves, up to the chin, in order to pass away the time while we were gratifying our curiosity; and certainly a more delicious bath could not well be enjoyed. The one into which we plunged was deep enough for swimming, while the sloping and smooth sides enabled us to sit down, or extend ourselves at full length, when we chose to rest--the water had a soft, yet not a slimy feel, something like what we could imagine milk and water to be, which indeed it resembled in colour, and of course its temperature, that might be about 96° of Fahrenheit, never varied. It was indeed such a luxurious amusement, that we could not refrain from plunging in, again and again, after we had intended to come out, but felt refreshed, and not relaxed, as we did after coming out of the bathing-pool at Ohinemutu...
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The vapor has a peculiar odour, but the water has only a very slight saline taste, scarcely perceptible, nor did I find it affect me in any way, though I drank a considerable quantity. As it acted on none of the tests, it is probably only impregnated with a minute proportion of some neutral salt, independent of the alumina which it holds in solution, as a super carbonate. It is very evident that it must contain a large proportion of that earth, as the moment it passes the great reservoir in the crater, into the first basin where it is cooled, and gives off its superabundant carbonic acid, it no longer holds the earth in solution, but merely in a state of suspension, and causes by its presence, an immediate alteration in the colour of the water, and this change becomes more visible, as the double change is going on in its descent into the successive basins, and as it contains more of the alumina than it can hold suspended, a portion falls down and is deposited.
The mode of formation therefore, of the cone, would seem to be as follows. The water, in pouring out of the reservoir in the crater, would throw down a deposit, from the joint actions I have described, in a greater quantity in proportion to its distance from its source, in this way a slight rim would be formed, which would then impede the flow of the water, and collect the deposit on its surface. It would thus gradually rise in height, layer by layer, and these would be horizontal, like all deposits from water, as well as circular or curved in outline, from a similar law that regulates the forms of all natural cavities containing fluids--the cavity itself being formed by the stream, which would prevent the deposit from settling in the centre, where it poured in with greatest violence, but would permit it to lodge itself symmetrically around, and in course of time form a basin, while the water spreading out from its edge, would naturally form a step with rounded edges, which is indeed the form of all of them. In this manner the different steps and basins would be formed, the first becoming narrower, the second smaller, as the water was distant from its source, till at length the deposit becomes a mere crust, slightly indented with mimic steps. The rapidity with which this formation goes on, is evidenced by any substance such as twigs of trees, lying in the course of the water. They are quickly encrusted with the alumina, which is of the purest white, but not translucent, and some of these specimens, from what cause I do not know, probably from the fineness of the particles and the action of greater heat, resemble porcelain.
On leaving the cone we had to cross a very perilous piece of ground in order to reach some more of the boiling springs, which lay to the south, and which from its danger is usually avoided by the use of canoes, when they are permitted to enter the lake. Our guides preceded us treading very cautiously over its trembling surface, and often drawing back with an exclamation, as their feet approached too near an aperture of boiling water. Indeed I felt once or twice a sensation like the sharp prick of a needle, from treading on a minute opening from which the boiling fluid issued. We reached, however, the opposite side in safety, and came to solid, dry ground, but so warm as to be almost unpleasant to walk over bare-footed, so we resumed our shoes.
The path, which lay close to the edges of the lake, and beneath the shoulder of the hill from which the ngawha of Warataroa 98 flows, was rendered tortuous by the necessity of avoiding the frequent boiling springs which issued from apertures of various sizes on all sides. There was something almost terrific in the loud bubbling and hissing sound that invaded the ear, not alone from the more level ground, but from the sides of the hill, which, strange to say, was covered with thickets of flourishing manuka, while clouds of steam formed a hot mist above us; and occasionally the pent up waters, in their convulsive struggles to escape, would strike their unyielding covering, and cause a sound like the blow of an enormous sledge hammer.
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Our attention was at length directed to a geyser, which sent up, at short intervals, large jets of water, to the height of several feet, from a circular aperture, in a rock of alumina, which was of a coarser and more earthy character than that of the great ngawha, indeed all the rocks we saw were of a similar composition; close to this one was another, less violent in its character, but so deep as to look perfectly black, and just beyond was a mud-spring, in lazy ebullition, rising in large bubbles, which broke with an unearthly hollow sound--some of the springs, again, or boulloirs, had openings not larger than the top of a small tea-kettle, but it would be tedious to enumerate their position and variety, so numerous were they.
After thus passing onwards for about three hundred yards, we came to a more extended piece of ground, comparatively free from springs, and the natives had erected some huts, and formed wai ariki, and hot plates, as at Ohinemutu, for their use when they reside here in the winter, which they do for the sake of warmth, and this comfort they most assuredly can enjoy to any extent that may suit their feelings. We entered one of these huts in order to shelter ourselves from the hot steam and burning sun while dining, and as the interior was very dirty, we hinted that we might be troubled with fleas, but our guides triumphantly answered, 'There are no fleas here, it is too hot for them!', a fact we could not dispute, and of course there are neither sand-flies nor mosquitoes. So penetrating however is the vapour that rolls in the caverns beneath even this more solid portion of the soil, that it forces its way through the earth, and we felt our clothes damp, when we rose to continue our researches, indeed we were told that those who spend the night in these houses, find their blankets quite saturated with moisture in the morning. The tests showed the springs we had just passed to be acidulous and sulphurous, but so slightly as to be scarce discernible to the taste.
We now entered a valley or rather extensive ravine, a little to the south-east of where we had rested, and certainly imagination could not picture a place more strangely wild and singular in appearance. Its bed or floor, for from its perfect level, it may be so called, was formed of a grey mud, on various parts of which were seen mud volcanoes, each forming a mimic crater, over which the boiling mud was flowing at intervals, and deposited on their sides; these probably disappear in the winter, when the valley is filled with water, and assist in forming its floor, which in various parts was covered with
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saline and aluminous particles, and efflorescence of sulphur, giving it a variegated appearance. One side was torn and rent in a most extraordinary manner, and immense fragments of the coarse aluminous rock I have described, and masses of red and yellow ochreous clay, lay scattered about as if a succession of mines had been sprung, and no doubt some similar action of the pent up gasses caused these appearances. The other side and head of the valley, however, had not been thus affected; the jets of steam were issuing from countless crevices, yet the manuka seemed to flourish with great vigour in the tepid atmosphere. In one corner we were shewn one of those curious anomalies that mark this extraordinary region, by being conducted to a pool of cold water, of a grass green colour. It showed its acid properties by strongly reddening litmus paper, and it had a mixed acidulous and saline taste. It probably contained a super sulphate of potass and alumina, or, in plain terms, alum combined with an excess of sulphuric acid. On our return we were shewn masses of mud, of which the natives eat and considered wholesome. It had a slightly bitter saline taste, and, perhaps, contained sulphate of soda or Glauber's salts, though I could perceive no crystal of that salt upon its surface.
We now returned to the edge of the lake, and were made fully aware that we were standing on a mere crust, for wherever we trod the ground emitted a hollow sound. There are two islands, a short distance from the shore, which, though covered with shrubs and small-sized trees, are subjected to the same action as the main land, as steam issued from various parts, and I was shewn masses of alum found in the crevices of the rocks of which they are formed. They had a number of huts upon them, which the natives inhabit in the winter. We could perceive clouds of steam issuing from various parts of the shores of the lake, and particularly from the ngawha of Wakatarata, 99 on the opposite side, whose white summit surmounted the point that hid its whole extent from our sight. It is always approached by a canoe, from the dangerous nature of the ground in its vicinity, which we could easily imagine from the jets of steam rising from every part of the hills. We endeavoured to tempt our guides to pilot us there by an extra present of tobacco, but though they eyed the tempting bait with a famished look, for they are badly supplied with that favourite article so far in the interior, they would not bite, flatly
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refusing to undertake a journey so fraught with peril. My companion had visited it the previous year by canoe, and from him I learned that it is formed in a similar way to that of Wakataroa, and differs only in size and in the colour of its waters, which are preternaturally clear, and that masses of beautifully crystallized sulphur are found around it.
We retraced our steps, and reached, without accident, the opposite side of the river, from whence we had our first view of the lake, whose size and appearance we had scarce noted, so absorbing was the attraction of the ngawha before us; now, however, we could perceive the lake to be of a circular form, covered with large patches of rushes, around which myriads of wild fowls were sporting, and surrounded by bare, wild-looking hills, which opened to the southwest, and enclosed a valley. It very much resembled a Highland tarn, and but for the ngawha would have been a very uninteresting place.
Our parting glance of Rotomahana was even more impressive than our first glimpse, for the decreasing temperature of the evening condensed the vapour issuing from the ngawha, until one end of the lake was completely enveloped in rolling masses of white steam almost mingling with the clouds that were descending on the summits of the hills and forming altogether a scene which will not be readily forgotten. On reaching Kahunga, a strong north-east wind caused so heavy a surf that we could not launch our canoe, and some large drops of rain gave notice of an impending shower, we were therefore compelled most unwillingly to spend the night in this miserable settlement, where after in vain looking for a place of shelter and finding each one more filthy than the other, we accepted the chief's invitation to sleep in his ware, a long large building in which, besides ourselves about eighteen souls were to pass the night. There was no alacrity shown by the younger part of the community to procure fern for our beds, which we requested as a favour, to cover the dirty trash which lay on the floor, but the old chief who seemed to practice the virtue of hospitality more than the younger part of the tribe, volunteered to procure some, and when they laughed at him and called out 'Why, old fellow you will be staked in getting fern for your white men', he answered good humouredly, from among the rocks covered with the stumps of cut trees where he was scrambling in the dark, 'Never mind if I am hurt, my white men will look to it.' By the old chief's exertions we managed to make
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a tolerable bed, but the place, in the centre of which was a large fire, was insufferably hot, and the odour from so many dirty bodies and blankets anything but agreeable, however there was an opportune hole in the raupo near me, which having quietly enlarged, I managed to get a little air and some rest, though severely tormented by fleas....
Here there is a long omission. On 9 January the wind held them up till midday, then they returned to the Spencers at Ruakareo. Next they went to Okareka, where they hired guides for the return trip--'such adventures useful in clearing up the absurd notions inland tribes hold of us'; then on to Rotorua, and Chapman's mission at Te Ngae.
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Jan. 9th.--The wind did not abate, until midday, although there was no rain, when after giving our friendly old chief a liberal present of tobacco, we had a pleasant passage across the lake to Ruakareo. We spent the rest or the day very agreeably in admiring the beautiful scenery of the lake from Mr. Spencer's cottage, which, situated almost on the edge of the cliff, commanded a most extensive prospect. His garden lying on the northern slope of the headland, and fringed by noble Pohutukawa was a beautiful spot. He had collected twelve varieties of flax, each, with a distinct name and appearance and available to the production of a fine sample, when carefully dressed. We enjoyed the view of a glorious suniet, gilding the coronetted head of Tarawera, from the smooth pebbly beach to the east of the pa, which, with the delicious, coolness of the air from the water as it rippled at our feet will make us remember the summers evening at Ruakareo. It would indeed be a most delightful residence in the summer months although the winter is cold and boisterous, and no doubt in the future history of New Zealand, a visit to Tarawera will be a fashionable amusement. We were repaid for the discomfort of the past night, by the luxury of good beds to which we retired with the pleasurable assurance of rest, an enjoyment which can only be properly. appreciated, after sleeping in a New Zealand Ware.
Jan. 10th.--As the inhabitants of Ruakareo are very badly supplied with articles of European manufacture, from having little intercourse with the coast, Mr. Spencer has endeavoured to encourage them to dress the fine flax with which I have mentioned the pa abounds, but the chief obstacle to their doing so with advantage is their distance from a port, for although there is a good path along the course of the Tarawera river to the Kupenga, where any article of produce can be embarked in canoes, and conveyed to the seaport of Matata; yet the difficulty that traders find at all times in inducing the natives to carry a sufficient quantity to a given spot at a fixed time, has as yet proved an obstacle to a regular system of barter and exchange bring established, and although the fineness of the flax would always command purchases, no trader has succeeded in procuring any. There was however, an agent of one of these men who lives at Matata in the pa, and people were then engaged in dressing some tehori for him. Could they be induced to furnish a sufficient quantity at once to freight a small vessel, they would receive in exchange many articles which would materially increase their comfort.
We took leave, with regret of our kind entertainers, highly impressed with the value of their exertions, and with a sincere wish that the success which has as yet attended them, may be crowned with the complete civilization of the people among whom they reside. On our route to Okarika we could distinctly trace two terraces surrounding the lake, and could perceive that in many places horizontal strata of pumiceous rock was overlying tbe lava walls which supported many of the bounding hills, this fact may permit the supposition to be hazarded that the whole has been upheaved antecedent to the deposition of tbe pumice; indeed, the lake, although ten miles long, and eight in breadth, gives the observer an impression that it is but the crater of an immense volcano. The smoke of the fires, for preparing the morning meal, marked the site of two other settlements of the Ngatituhourangi, which would otherwise have been invisible, one was placed on a promontory at the north eastern angle of the lake, and the other on the banks of the Tarawera river, at its point of issue from the lake. These people have little or no intercourse with the coast, and my fellow traveller who had visited them the previous winter, described them as unmitigated savages. This tribe may amount to five hundred souls. A young and very intelligent chief who accompanied us, showed us with evident pride, a small patch of wheat growing in a hollow near the path, it looked sickly, and we explained to him that the ground was not sufficiently broken up for the successful growth of that grain and he promised to dig it well next year, but he deplored the want of a mill.
We reached tht pa Of Okarika early in the day and were met with the same hospitable welcome as before and were urged to remain to visit a lake in a neighbouring valley which they told us was of a deep blue or ultramarine colour, but want of time prevented us from visiting this, and many other lions of the Lake country. We here hired two men to accompany us and carry our baggage, to Auckland, for doing which, they were to receive a Sovereign each on their arrival there, with food and tobacco a discretion during the journey. One of them had never seen the capital and by the prolonged tangi he held with his relations, they seemed to consider it quite an event in the annals of the family and one not unattended with danger; and our attendant Peter the cidevant sailor "spun a few yarns" to "astonish his weak mind." It showed indeed that this young man possessed a strong sense of curiosity, to undertake so long a journey, for of course he would have to find his way back as he best could.--But adventurors of this kind are of much service in dispelling the absurd notions which the inland tribes entertain regarding us. So retentive are the memories of the natives from being unburdened with the variety of subjects that occupy our minds, that on their return to their pa, they narrate every circumstance that occurred, and everything they saw or did from the day of their departure to that of their coming hack, sitting up a whole night on these occasions surrounded by their wondering relatives. I recollect to have witnessed an amusing scene of this kind, on a former visit into the interior, where a chief who had just had the honor of dining with the late Governor Fitzroy, gave a pantomime discription of the whole affair, with a humour that threw his audience into convulsions of laughter. Our fashion of drinking wine with each other at dinner seemed particularly to excite their mirth, and the young urchins of the pa, were continually bobbing down their heads to me and calling out "wine."
We were landed on the northern shores of the lake, and as the day was beautiful, the scenery was quite enchanting. It is a perfect gem and its attraction will not fail to make it much frequented at a future period. Ascending a valley thinly sprinkled with wood in which we crossed three brooks flowing into the lake, we entered a wood, whose shade was most grateful as the sun in this enclosed ground was exceedingly powerful, and would, together with the shelter, make it a suitable place for vineyards, as the soil is light and porous. Emerging from this wood which is of no great extent, we found ourselves on the crest of a hill, commanding an entire view of the lake of Rotorua, which is of an oblong shape and at least twenty miles in circumference. Two thirds of it is bounded by level land of unequal bread ths extending inland; the remaining portion lying to the north, by steep banks descending abruptly to the edge of the water; and in that direction the outline of the hills is perfectly horizontal, occupied by that table land and forest which we had traversed in a former part of our journey; but the haze arizing from the extensive conflagrations in the surrounding woods, enveloped the whole country, so that we could but indistinctly note the details, and gave the scenery quite a spectral appearance. In descending, the path wound among conical hills, now only covered with tall fern, though formerly wooded, and we remarked in many places patches of tehori flax, evidently planted near ancient cultivations, around settlements which had been abandoned as soon as the wood was destroyed. From these hills we reached a terrace, one of those which I have before described as bordering the shores of the lake, along which the path lay in a northerly direction: the soil was composed of pumice and ohsidian gravel, and very poor, and only permitted the growth of stunted fern, and the wi, or wiry grass common to these regions.
At length we reached a wood, behind which lay the Ngae, the residence of Mr. Chapman, of the Church Missionary Society, where we met with a very kind reception from Mrs. Chapman, her husband being absent on some official business. The house is a cottage formed of raupo, in the centre of which is a large apartment, supported by rafters, in the native fashion, and tastefully lined with coloured reeds--it reminded us of an old English hall, and old English hospitality, if we omit the carousals it offered within its walls. We were not indeed entertained with flagons of 'nappy ale', but Mrs. Chapman refreshed us with a bottle of delicious home-made cider, prepared from the apples of their own orchard. The grounds about the house, which is embowered with creeping shrubs, are tastefully laid out. By trenching the ground, bringing up a good soil, and burying the volcanic gravel which forms a layer on the surface, Mr. Chapman has formed a fine orchard, filled with every variety of fruit tree. The apple trees were actually so laden with fruit, that they required to be supported. There is also a garden, in which peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, and the smaller fruits, with every kind of vegetable, grow in the greatest perfection. This spot of smiling cultivation was quite refreshing after passing through so much sterile country, in a state of nature; and some fine cattle and sheep which were grazing in a paddock near the house, objects so seldom seen in New Zealand, gave quite an appearance of 'Home', to the scene.
The office of a missionary's wife is no sinecure, so incessant are the demands made upon them for medicine and other articles with which they are in the habit of gratuitously supplying their husband's flock; the cry of 'Mata, Mata, eh, Mata! the nearest approximation to Mother, which the pronouncing organs of the New Zealanders can attain, is incessant; and as no idea of regular attendance for a
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supply of their wants ever enters their heads, the claims upon the lady's time are without end, and one cannot but admire the untiring patience with which the most frivolous requests are attended to, a troublesome labour which nothing but a high sense of duty could enable them to sustain. I may venture however to remark, that a little more of the fortiter in re, by compelling the natives to adopt habits of order and regularity, would be more beneficial than yielding to the desultory and irregular manner in which they do everything. It must be allowed however that the natives of Rotorua are but just emerging from a state of the wildest barbarism, and that they would probably become very restive if too tight a rein were drawn. There are two pas, inhabited by native converts, on either side of the mission station, but the inmates had a much less civilized exterior, than the natives more in contact with Europeans, their manners were rude and forward.... 100
[Jan. 11. Visited the island of Mokoia, four miles from the Ngae; Chapman lived there a while when his Ohinemutu house was plundered by Ngati Houa under Te Waharoa, twelve years ago; account of its invasion by Hongi about 20 years ago. Rotorua would be most agreeable summer residence--pleasing scenery, boating and riding parties to other lakes, hot and cold bathing; 'and it may be anticipated that at no very distant period, when the true character of its waters as remedial agents has been ascertained, and its beautiful localities and salubrious air are known, it will be a part of the country much resorted to by invalids, and by those whose leisure will permit them to vary their residence'. Winters reported to be very wet.
Jan. 12. Left the Ngae at daybreak to visit some ngawha named Tikiteri, 3 miles to the north-east--the usual details--'This valley would appear well situated for the site of the hospital which his Excellency the Governor proposes to erect in this part of the country' as the natives do not live near it, there is sufficient space, and the efficacy of the waters for obstinate rheumatic afflictions have been tested by several settlers from Tauranga and other ports in the Bay of Plenty.]
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Jan. 11.--After prayers in the house, servlce being held in the Native Chapel, by one of their own teachers, in the absence of the Reverend Mr. Chapman, we embarked in his boat, manned by six stout Maori lads, and pulled across to the island of Mokoia, which lies directly opposite to the Ngae, four miles distant. It is of a conical shape, its base about two miles in circumference, its apex four hundred feet high, and cleft towards the centre by a wooded ravine. There is a considerable extent of flat ground on the southern side, which was covered with kumera gardens, cultivated with all the care which the Natives bestow on that plant, and which seemed to thrive well in the light volcanic clay of the island. The sides, for a third of the way up, are cut into terraces, similar to those seen on all their strongholds which occupy declivities--they are in fact, fighting platforms, and during the period of their wars, were always defended by strong palisades. There were a good many huts scattered over them, and on the flat below, we entered one of these, to pay a visit to the principal Chief of Roturua, named Akairo. He was a fine-looking middle-aged man of a dignified exterior, and he wore as emblem of his rank, a dog-skin "kakahu," or mantle, but as he is said to be inimical to Europeans, more particularly since the arrival of the Government, who, he maintains, have come to enslave the people and take away their lands: he received us with a surly indifference, scarcely condescending to take any notice of our salutation. On descending from his house we came to one of the terraces, where a Native congregation, seated on the ground, were listening to one of their teachers, who, robed in his blanket, and standing with extended hand, holding a book, while expounding the Scriptures, reminded us of the figure of St. Paul, in Raphael's cartoon of the Apostle preaching at Athens.
There are several boiling springs at the foot of the hill, of a slightly acid, but not a strong sulphurous taste, They bubbled up from rock of the same deicription as at Ohinimutu, and as at that place were conducted into a number of wai ariki, or hot baths, in which the Natives were enjoying themselves. Indeed the use of these hot baths seem to occupy a great portion of their time, and, like smoking, has become an inveterate habit, very prejudicial to their health. As all pakeha are dubbed physicians, we were taken to see two sick Chiefs, one suffering from a malignant disease of his foot, the other, from the effects of a seven days' abstinence from food, to which he had subjected himself on the death of his wife, to whom he was much attached: the first appeared to be a hopeless case, which the surgical knowledge possessed by the Missionaries could scarce treat, and the latter seemed so feeble as to preclude a hope of recovery. We could only offer them our sympathy. Mr. Chapman resided on this island for some time after his house at Ohinimutu had been plundered, twelve years since, by the Ngatihoua, in a taua made by them on Roturua, under the famous Waharoa. He was absent at the time, and the first notice he had of the disaster, was a rencontre with the victorious Ngatihoua returning to Mata Mata, carrying off his household furniture, and as there was not enough to give each individual a distinct portion, they had actually broken up his chairs, some were brandishing the legs as trophies, others had made prizes of the backs or the cushions, while some rejoiced in a frying-pan, or a tea-kettle, as their "spolia opima." We were pointed out the site of this asylum, on a terrace surrounded by picturesque karaka trees.
This island was the scene of a horrible massacre about twenty years since, during the invasion of Roturua by the celebrated Hongi, the Ngapuhi Chief. He had landed at Maketu, the sea-port of Roturua, where he had stormed the pa and slaughtered the inmates, when the Ngatiwakaua and other tribes residing about the lakes, terrified by this event and the reports of his prowess, had fled with their families to Mokoia for refuge, whither also they had conveyed all their canoes, thinking that by this measure they had placed themselves beyond his reach, and were rejoicing in their apparent security: but their rejoicing was of short duration, for this fierce Chief determining not to be baffled, had managed to draw his canoes over-land, to the extremity of the chain of lakes that extend eastward from Rotorua, by which means he reached the lake itself, and to the astonishment and affright of the crowds ou the island, his fleet was seen one morning, making straight for it. Panic-struck, the Ngatiwakaua made scarce any resistance, and a horrible slaughter took place on the island, while numbers were drowned or killed in the water, in attempting to swim to the main land. Sated with blood, the Ngapubi at length gave quarter to the residue left alive, after consummating their atrocities by a cannibal feast.
Hongi, by a strange impulse of generosity, however, set at liberty the principal Chiefs who had survived, but carried all the rest prisoners to Maketu, with the intention of conveying them as slaves to the Bay of Islands. But as the Ngapuhi were compelled to remain some time at Maketu, to repair the damage the canoes had sustained during their rough transit overland from Rotorua, they were so much engaged that they omitted to pay such attention to the safe keeping of their captives as their numbers demanded, so that a great many managed to escape and returning to their homes, re-established the tribe, which would otherwise have been broken up. The immense fires that were burning, as I have before remarked, in every direction among the forests, emitted clouds of smoke, which, wafted towards the Ngae by a westerly wind, produced an atmosphere, increased in temperature by the heat of the day, that was perfectly stifling, and shrouded every object under a lurid veil, so that we gladly returned to the shelter of the house; in the evening however I strolled to the hills that rose behind, and found the soil at the back to be of good quality, particularly in the woods, which were of vigorous growth, consisting chiefly of Tawa and Rimu, with Kahikatea in the hollows. The country adjacent to the lake would indeed be very suitable for European settlements, if unoccupied by Natives, but it has the disadvantage of being distant from the coast, at Maketu, to which there only is access by a hilly route that takes eight hours to travel, although, doubtless, a good road would shorten the time now occupied in making the journey. I was told that the sea can be distinctly seen from the hills behind Ohinimutu.
Rotorua would be a most agreeable summer residence, for the scenery is pleasing, and there is good hard riding-ground round the greater part of the circuit of the lake. Of course hot and cold bathing could be enjoyed at pleaiure. The Natives are at present rude and uncivilized, but time would make a change in this respect, and it may be anticipated, that at no very distant period, when the true character of its waters hs remedial agents has been ascertained, and its beautiful localities and salubrious air are known, it will be a part of the country much resorted to by invalids, and by those whose leisure will permit them to vary their residence. Boating and riding parties--excursions to the other lakes which cluster round Rotorua, would afford sufficient outdoor amusement, and temporary establishments might be well supplied with provisions of all kinds, and with the luxury of fine fruit, during the summer, which is the only period a residence could be recommended for invalids, or persons in delicate health, since I was informed that a very great deal of rain falls in the winter, which would naturally arise from physiccal circumstances connected with the formation of the country--a large basin with a surface soil of more than ordinary temperature, and surrounded by hills of considerable height.
Jan. 12.--We left the Ngae at day-break in a dense fog, to visit some Ngawha yarned Tikiteri, about three Miles to the north-east of the Missionary station. After half an hour's walk, a valley opens to the east, up which we ascended along the courie of a stream--it might be about a quarter of a mile in breadth, gradually incoming narrow towards its termination, and bounded by low bare hills, its bed being covered with fern and grass. A sulphurous odor which tainted the air announced our approach to the Ngawha, some of which were in action at the head of the valley. We now ascended a ravine, whose sides were formed of aluminous rock of a chalky whiteness, and down which, poured a tepid stream from the plateau above, where the principal springs have their source--this we soon reached, and it presented a very striking scene.
Over its whole surface, which was nearly level, boiled up springs of various sizes and quality--some clear and transparent, others muddy and discoloured, on whose surface rose large bubbles, from the ascent of sulphuretted hydrogen, for on applying test-paper of lead, over these as they burst, it were instantly blackened, while others again were of pure mud, lazily rising up with that Stygian aspect which characterizes them. The spaces between the different springs were either formed of clay or aluminous lock, variously coloured, sometimes by incrustations of sulphur, which indeed often lay about in heaps, at others the clay was burnt perfectly red like a brick, or the rock was blackened by the smoke of some internal furnace. Clouds of steam rose from every part of the plateau, and mingling with the dense fog which hung around, gave a vivid idea of the fabled kingdom of Pluto. It repuired considerable caution in moving over the treacherous crust that covered the beds of burning sulphur, and boiling fluid below, for from the little spiracles, of which there were numbers in every direction, pure, sulphurous acid gas was emitted, that formed beautiful chrystals of sulphur round their edges, and showed the near approach to the surface of the burning mineral itself and thin coating of clay that covered it.
The Natives often resort here for the cure of rheumatism, and other diseases with which they are aflicted. They form, on these occasions, a steam-bath over the spiracles, by means of layers of manuka which they so dispose as to prevent themselves from being burnt or scalded, yet to have the benefit of the vapour, and they cover these with rude sheds, many of which we saw in various parts of the plateau. They make use of these sulphureous steams for another, although not a very delicate, yet an equally necessary purpose, for they spread their garments on the manuka, and thus destroy the vermin with which they are usually covered.
All the springs, by the application of tests, shewed the presence of more or less sulphur, or sulphuretted hydrogen in their composition, and generally also the existence of a free acid, as the litmus paper did not lose its red colour by exposure to heat. They varied much, however, in taste, some being acidulous, some sulphurous, though not so strongly so as their smell would indicate, and others were saline.
The valley I have described would appear well situated for the site of the hospital which his Excellency the Governor propoies to erect in this part of the country, as it would not interfere with the Natives, [who do not live near it: there is sufficient space for the necessary buildings, and tbe various waters might be conducted from the plateau into the baths by means of earthenware or even wooden pipes, when Europeans were patients, for their efficacy in obstinate rheumatic affections, have been tested by several settlers from Tauranga and other ports in the Bay of Plenty, who have received great relief, and in one instance I was informed, a perfect cure was completed by their use--and the Natives, though making the hospital their residence for internal treatment, might use the steam-baths after their own fashion.
There are some very large Ngawha four miles further eastward, whose steam we saw rising in clouds on our way back to the Ngae, as the fog had been dispersed by the sun. Their waters are all clear, but possess the powers of petrifying, or rather covering with an aluminous deposit, every substance put into them. I was shewn a portion of the rock they form, it was of a bluish grey colour, and admitted of a very high polish.
After breakfast we took leave of our kind hostess, Mrs. Chapman, who liberally furnished us with bread, and a fine shoulder of mutton, a luxury seldom met with in the interior, and we set out for Ohinemutu, following a path along the terrace, which I have described, as bordering the lake for some miles. The soil was sterile and covered
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with dwarf fern and wi, and part of the way we retraced the route we had passed over a few days before in going to Tarawera.
Before entering Ohinemutu, however, we struck off to visit the famous ngawha of Wakarewarewa, which I have mentioned, it is three miles to the south of the pa, at the base of the hills which bound the basin of Rotorua, and even at mid-day, when the steam arising from the other springs was scarce visible, its site was discernible from the immense column of vapour which rolled up the sides of the overhanging hills. In passing over the plain, which was composed of the usual sterile soil incident to this portion of the country, I observed wherever it was hollowed out by watercourses, that horizontal layers of alumina were exposed below the thin surface of volcanic mud and gravel, an evidence that the whole plain must, at one period, have been a vast lake of boiling water.
The ngawha are hid from sight until just upon them, and then a scene is exhibited of the strangest and wildest character. The valley in which they have their source is filled with rounded knolls, rent and furrowed in every direction by their powerful agency, and tinted of every variety of colour, among which the springs burst forth in violent ebullition, being of all sizes and forms--the principal one is a geyser, which sends up, every five minutes, a jet of boiling water to the height of fifteen or twenty feet, surmounted by a cloudy pillar of steam, accompanied by a hollow hissing roar; and several fearful-looking, funnel-shaped craters, were filled with dark boiling mud, which, although thick and slimy, was shot up to some height, and fell back into the horrible aperture, with a sullen sound. In fact, the eye was bewildered by the constant succession of these boulloirs of either quality, and the volumes of vapour ascending and rolling around in every direction, yet in the midst of all this volcanic turmoil, a clear mountain river holds its course, gliding swiftly along between deep banks. It is of course tepid at its exit from the valley, from receiving the perpetual overflow of so many boiling springs, but in the upper part of the valley, it is cold as ice.
So near the surface is the burning material which heats the waters, that our bare-footed guide complained of the heat, and on thrusting my stick into the ground close to our path, its point came out so hot as almost to burn the hand when applied to it. We were consequently obliged to use great caution in traversing the ground, for fear of treading on some portion of the crust weaker than the rest, and thus being subjected to severe scalding, or burning, a mischance that
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happened to Père René, the Catholic priest at Ohinemutu, some time before, who having gone to visit the ngawha, unattended, and not returning to evening prayers, his flock, who are much attached to him from his amiable disposition, went in search of him and found the reverend man lying on the ground, in great agony, having been scalded on one leg, up to the middle of the thigh, by the ground having given way over a boulloir. The natives resort here occasionally in the winter, I presume for the sake of enjoying a higher temperature than at Ohinemutu. It would be needless to describe the place more in detail, it may suffice to say that a visit to Wakarewarewa, should never be neglected in passing through this part of the country.
We reached Ohinemutu about one o'clock, and while resting ourselves in Hohepa's house, an incident occurred that in former days might have led to serious consequences. One of the natives whom we had previously engaged at Patiteri to carry our baggage from there and back, had remained at Ohinemutu while we had proceeded to Rotomahana, and we found him awaiting our return. I was tired and was lying down in the house, when wanting something from my carpet-bag, I asked the man to bring it to me, of which request however he took no notice. I repeated it, but he did not move, my companion, irritated at his indolence and sullenness, seized him by the foot and pulling him sharply, desired him to obey me; the man instantly started up, his face pale with rage, and with a most ferocious look, said, I am a chief! you have made a slave of me--my heart is black--black as night! If I am struck justly I can keep my anger, but if unjustly, I cannot!' My companion, however, who spoke the Maori language well, coolly answered--'We hired you to do our bidding, why did you not do it? Since we left you here you have been lying at your ease, doing nothing, we have made long journeys and are tired.' The argument was just, and was admitted by all present, so our man wrapped his head in his blanket, and sulkily sat down, brooding, as we thought, over revenge. However, after a time, he resumed his usual manner, and seemed as cheerful as before. It was, however, a dangerous experiment, as chiefs are very susceptible on the score of dignity, and I would warn travellers against doing any act, however trifling, that outrages native prejudices.
We left Ohinemutu in the afternoon, with the intention of bivouacking on the edge of the forest, so as to endeavour to reach
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Patiteri, on the following evening, and as we had five attendants with us, each would carry so small a burden as to enable us to push on more rapidly than in our previous journey, and traverse the forest in one day...
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On our way, however, we turned aside to visit the site of Mr. Chapman's house, which I have mentioned as having been plundered by the Ngatihoua, in their last taua to Rotorua, A fig tree and lilac, are the only remains of the garden, and these are cherished by the Natives with an almost superstitious veneration. On one occasion, the natives of Ohinimutu, we were told, made a very ingenious use of their boiling water, in defending the weakest part of the pa from an attack by day. The only access to Ohinimutu from the west is by a narrow isthmus lying between the lake and the plain, which is intersected by springs and pools of boiling mud, so, as only to be crossed in the daytime with the greatest caution, and even then by those well acquainted with the localities. Any attempt at night would certainly lead to a horrible death, by being overwhelmed in boiling mud--knowing, therefore, that they were safe in that quarter by night, the besieged dug a deep trench across the isthmus, into which they led streams of boiling water, so as to secure themselves effectually from any attempt to storm the pa in the only accessible point. Thus defended they defied their enemies, and the Ngatihoua, after in vain attempting to force a passage, were compelled to be satisfied with their first success, in which they had defeated the Ngatiwakaua, who came out to meet them in the plain, and to return to their own country.
We reached the Wai-iti 102 at sunset, and our people, tempted by a large pot of gorau which they saw on the fire, and of which they were invited to partake, resisted so strongly our wish to push on to the forest, that we consented to remain, and had a sort of tent-shaped shed made over to us for a sleeping place. It was open in front, so that it gave us plenty of air, and yet sheltered us from the dew, which, after the heat of the day, fell heavily and was very chilling. We were vociferously assured that there was not even a flea in the neighbourhood, no small recommendation in a Maori settlement, but we found, to use an Australian phrase, that we had been 'gammoned', for it swarmed with them, and although fatigue threw us into a deep sleep for a few hours, we awoke in the middle of the night, and were so tormented, that after in vain attempting to get some rest, we rose and spent the rest of the night by the fire....
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On our route from Ohinimutu to Wai iti, we saw a taua, or plundering-party crossing the lake in a war-canoe, the leader standing up, as is their custom, brandishing his paddle and giving time to twenty stout Natives, who made it shoot rapidly through the water. The Natives say that all their quarrels take place about 'land, pigs, and women,' and this movement was, most probably, caused by an infraction of the seventh commandment, where the injured husband and his friends were going, according to Native custom, to levy an utu on the goods and chattels of the offender. Formerly, however, a more severe penalty was imposed, the delinquent was compelled to stand publicly, and suffer a certain number of the long spears anciently used to be thrown at him, which he warded off as he best could. But in addition, a most extraordinary custom holds on these occasions, for the husband of the frail one can also be plundered--a law so palpably unjust, that it is difficult to trace its origin. That such affairs are of frequent occurrence cannot be wondered at, when we consider that women have scarce a choice in these connexions. A father engages to give away his daughter acoording to his will and pleasure, so that from their earliest childhood, girls are placed under tapu, that is, reserved as a wife for a certain man, quite irrespective of their partialities. Young women have been known to commit suicide rather than submit to such compulsory arrangements, so repugnant to the femule mind even in the rudest state of society.
Jan. 13. We roused our natives at dawn of day, who, being proof against the attacks of 'all manner of creeping things', had slept soundly, and got on our journey before sunrise. We soon reached the same picturesque spot where we had formerly made our breakfast, but now, during an absence of a few days, so great was the drought that existed from the long course of dry weather, we could only procure a small quantity of very indifferent water for a similar purpose; and we found none during the day, excepting a little green and stagnant, in the hollow of a tree. Yet, in the winter, my companion told me, that the whole of the level land in the forest is ankle-deep in water, and every hollow has a running stream. Suffering, therefore, from thirst, we crossed the forest at so rapid a pace, that we reached its northern edge before sunset, walking, in twelve hours, a distance it had taken us eighteen hours to achieve, in our journey southward. We had intended to have reached Patiteri that night, but hearing the gurgling of water, at the bottom of a deep ravine near the path, we could not resist the cravings of intense
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thirst, and descended to it, when we had a delicious draught from the pure cold stream, but it was so thickly covered with overhanging branches and creepers, which projected from either side of almost perpendicular cliffs, that we had some difficulty in reaching it.
We had descended at least three hundred feet, and being thoroughly fatigued, did not relish an ascent up the steep face of the ravine, so perceiving a small space of tolerably level ground opposite, to which we could have access by a natural bridge across the stream, formed by the fallen trunk of a gigantic rata, we decided on bivouacking there for the night, and our natives, with their usual adroitness, soon cleared away the brushwood, made us a bed of the leaves of the tree-fern, and kindled a large fire, both for cooking and to scare away the mosquitoes, which of course abounded in such a situation. So thick was the overhanging foliage, that it formed a verdant cavern, while the fire glancing on the wild countenances and dress of our companions, and half illuminating the woody recesses, formed a picture worthy the pencil of a Salvator Rosa.
Jan. 14. We were as usual roused from our sylvan couch, at the earliest dawn, by the matin song of the birds, and ascended to the plateau, along which we retraced our steps, until in sight of Patiteri, but as we gave our natives to understand that we had no particular wish to halt there, they informed us that we might breakfast at one of those summer-settlements which are temporarily occupied at the planting and gathering in of the potato crop; we accordingly struck across to this place which was an extension of the plateau, and found a few huts tenanted by about twenty inmates, on the edge of a plantation, as usual cut out of the wood, which, after being occupied for three years, will be abandoned, and in this way the natives, in both senses, eat their way into the forests, which are thus diminished every year in extent.
The reception strangers often meet with at a native settlement, particularly if not much visited by Europeans, is at first rather chilling, and in this instance it may have been rendered more so from the natives being Ngatirakaua, who felt indignant at the capture and detention of 'their father Rauparaha'. The arriving party generally sit down, when, if any of the natives should chance to have acquaintances, a tangi takes place, the others looking silently on, at length the spirit moves one of the residents to come forward, and after the customary salutation to the pakeha, the ice being broken, reserve is soon thawed, the news of the country are asked, the
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quality and occupations of the white strangers, and sundry other questions. It is then taken for granted that food will be required, and some of the slave girls are despatched to dig up and prepare the potatoes, and the conversation becomes general.
After breakfasting on some fine potatoes and pork we had carried with us, we requited our hosts in the usual manner, who furnished us with a basket for dinner, as we should meet with no plantation on the plain. We then crossed the ravine to Patiteri, where we only remained long enough to discharge the two men of the place who had accompanied us, and here I applied a healing salve to the wounded dignity of our attendant chief with the happiest effect, for in reminding him of the fracas at Ohinemutu, I presented him with half-a-crown as utu for the insult he thought had been put upon him, which he received most graciously, and we parted good friends. He was aspiring to the office of a teacher, among his missionary brethren, and during the whole journey, was committing to memory passages of the Gospel of Saint John, in a most sonorous voice. Whether the study of the Gospel had had a softening influence upon him, or from whatever other cause, he seemed to forget entirely his anger at the indignity he had received. He must however have felt it much at the time, as rangatira of whatever degree, never exhibit anger, and indeed consider it derogatory to do so, except under the greatest provocation.... 104
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The forest from which we had just emerged is one of the finest in the island, both from its extent, and the magnificence and variety of its timber. It offers rata, rimu, totara, matai, pukatea, tawa, tawai, whose bark contains the tanning principle, kahikatea, tawheo, a fine furniture wood, rewarewa, large manuka, and the Native fuschia of a larger size than I had elsewhere seen, besides a variety of minor trees too tedious to enumerate. I have mentioned that it contains within its bounds, large tablelands of fertile soil, and but for its distance from the sea, would form a suitable place for a settlement, as blocks cut out of the forest would form admirable spots for hop gardens, which require shelter, as well as for orchards, and vineyards might be planted on the sides of the less precipitous ravines. There would not indeed be much difficulty in making a road across the plain of the Waiho to Mata Mata, near to which large boats could ascend in the winter. The mention of such an undertaking will be thought looking too distantly forward into futurity, but that such a future will arrive, despite present untoward events, I feel fully satisfied.
From the salient point of the plateau on which Patiteri stands, just before descending into the ravines of Toa, a most magnificent view presents itself, but as I have described a similar prospect in a former part of my journal, it is unnecessary to repeat it further than to say that a beautiful and brilliant morning added new charms to the scene. It would repay the toil of a journey made expressly for the purpose. Emerging from the ravines, we crossed some clear streams, now so diminutive as to be forded by a few steps, but in the winter, furious foaming torrents, rushing downwards with irresistable force, and overflowing their banks; we followed a path that ran along a succession of low, flat-topped hills, forming the boundaries to extensive basins, through whose beds wound the streams I have described, which, forcing their way through the hills by narrow gorges, traversed successive basins, from which they issued in a similar manner until they fell into the Waiho or some of its principal tributaries. At the base of all these hills, terraces could be distinctly traced, so marked a feature in this part of the country, evidencing, at some remote period, a higher level and a greater extent of its waters, to which an approximation may be observed during the temporary winter floods. The soil on the hills is poor, hungry, volcanic gravel, covered with stunted fern and wi, but in some spots, and in the flats, there are several varieties of grass, often in great abundance. The extreme dryness of the surface and the open nature of the country, would seem to make it suitable for grazing sheep, for the wi though now perfectly brown and wiry, would be, no doubt, tender and succulent enough in the spring, and would annually improve by being browzed upon, and here there would be no danger of interfering with the Natives, as there is not a hut nor an acre of ground under cultivation, between Patitere and Mata Mata, a space of eighteen miles in length, by ten in breadth, including more than a hundred thousand acres. The want of firewood would be a disadvantage, unless indeed the homesteads were formed at the foot of the wooded mountains, or so near them at to afford a convenient supply. By keeping on either side of the Waiho, the whole space might be traversed on horseback for the greater part of the year.
Continuing thus for some miles, the eastern mountains bounding that side of the plain like a verdant wall, while bare hills formed an equally marked boundary to the west, we came to the Wai-omeo, a fine clear stream with a rapid current, which joins the Waiho some miles further down than where we crossed. Like all the other rivers of this region, it ran in the centre of a broad flat or holm; we forded it being only knee-deep. A short distance beyond this river we came upon a body of Natives, sitting in groupes on a hill side--they had uncovered themselves from the waist upwards, in consequence of the burning heat of the day, and their glossy skins shone like velvet--many of the young girls, who seemed perfectly ignorant of any want of propriety, in dispensing with their usual covering, presented busts that would have charmed a sculptor, while some of the young men had the forms of an Apollo. Their Chief, a very fine-looking man, who wore the symbolic distinction of a straw hat, informed us that they were on their way from Taupo to Hauraki, to pay a visit to their ally the noted Taria, Chief or the Ngatimaru. The groupe reminded me of the pictures in Cook's Voyages, for they were certainly the wildest and most primitive looking body of Natives I had as yet met with. Taria is one of the mal-contents with our Colonization, and we inferred that the visit of a tribe also hostile to us, boded no good to our Government. The imprisonment of Rauparaha would probably be the subject of their korero.
A few miles boyond the Wai-omeo brought us to the Waiho, which deep and rapid, rushed swiftly between steep banks at least fifty feet high. We stopped here to dine, and took advantage of our halt to bathe. The water was of an icy coldness, and the current so strong that we could not stem it, which shews a great fall in the general level of the plain. As it is too deep to ford, the Natives have constructed a rude bridge to facilitate the passage, on which we crossed, though on our journey southward we had been obliged, some miles higher up, to swim across.
Two miles further north we croised the Waingawero, another and smaller stream, tributary to the Waiho. The table-lands now become more extensive, traversed by ravines filled with tall manuka, and often the plateaus themselves were covered with extensive clumps of the same shrub, which being very thick, and reaching higher than our heads, closed over the seldom frequented track, and made our progress very toilsome. The soil in these spots is a strong clay, very different from the usual pumiceous gravel in other parts. As we approached Mata Mata, the surface of the plain became almost level--the soil of a much superior quality, and it was often covered with grass and shrubs--flax also began to appear.
We had seen immense volumes of smoke issuing all day from the forest around Mata Mata, 105 and when within two miles of it, we distinctly saw its northern extremity on fire, which extending to the plain had ignited the dry grass and fern and even reached our track. We had to wait until the burning torrent passed beyond us before we could continue our route, and then we had to pick our steps over the blackened surface amidst hot ashes. After passing through a part of the forest, we came to open ground and reached the Christian pa where the converted natives under Tererapipi, or, as he is more generally called by Europeans, William Thompson, had separated from their pagan brethren and had established themselves about half a mile from the ancient pa. We found the inhabitants in the greatest consternation for fear their houses should follow the fate of those in the adjacent one, which had been totally consumed the preceding evening. There seemed, indeed, a great probability of
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Notes from a Journal
such a catastrophe, as many trees were on fire in the immediate vicinity. From thence we proceeded to the missionary house, a few hundred yards distant, where we were informed that the officiating missionaries of the surrounding districts were holding a committee. On reaching it through an atmosphere of smoke we found that the fire had brought their deliberations to a sudden close, for these gentlemen were busily engaged in packing up their baggage to be ready for instant removal in case the house, which was built of raupo, should take fire; as, from the inflammable nature of the materials, it would be burnt to the ground in a few minutes. As the evening came on, the sight was terribly magnificent. Hundreds of gigantic trees were in flames from their roots to the topmost branch and were continually falling with a loud crash, sending up clouds of fiery sparks which the wind hurried along in meteor-like streams, but, fortunately, the wind was not in the direction of the houses--otherwise, not one would have escaped. The heat and glare when the smoke rolled away was almost unsupportable, and when it enveloped the house, was quite stifling; while the crackling and hissing of the flames, and the thundering noise of the falling trees, with the terrified shouts of the people, affected every sense in a manner that was almost stupefying. Yet, such was the grandeur of the scene, that it was almost impossible to quit it, and we remained gazing at the fearful spectacle till a late hour. At length we retired to that part of the pa furthest from the fire, while the missionary gentlemen encamped in their little travelling tents in an open space adjacent. Here, for the first time, I enjoyed the luxury of a bedstead in a native house, and on enquiry I found that it had formerly belonged to a Catholic missionary, who had established himself in the pa but, from some cause I could not learn, had been unceremoniously expelled and his house plundered. The bedstead had fallen to my host's share--a very truculent looking savage, who, from some traits of character not of a very amiable nature, had been surnamed 'The Serpent'. He was very civil, however, from knowing my companion, and did all he could to make us comfortable. It was long before I could sleep from the noise of the falling trees which sounded like the report of a cannon, but the fatigue of the day at length overcame the din around me and I slept until daylight.
Jan. 15th. On going out in the morning we found that the fire had passed beyond the pa, but numbers of tall trees were still burning, and the rest of the beautiful forest I had so much admired on a
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former visit was now a mass of smoking ashes and charred trunks....
[MISSING TEXT ADDED FROM THE "NEW ZEALANDER" 18/12/1847]
Mata Mata, the principal residence of the Ngatihoua tribe, is situated on a broad level plain, once surrounded by noble wood, which even before this last catastrophe had been gradually disappearing under the destructive principle of native cultivation to which I have so often alluded, and as the soil is a rich, friable, alluvial clay, noted for producing fine potatoes, the plantations are very extensive; indeed the spots on which these were successively made, may be traced all around by their being covered with fine grass, and dotted with stumps, and burned trees. The Waitoa, a tributary to the Piako, into which it falls about twelve miles to the north, is a fine stream running in a deep bed, but not navigable to the settlement from being encumbered by fallen trees. It winds along close to both of the pas, to which it forms a defence, and the old pa was further strengthened by a swamp that enclosed it on the other two sides, while in the only exposed part it was guarded by a stockade of great strength.--Indeed, as I have before remarked, the Maori have quite a military eye in the disposition of their pas. The Christian pa, however, being erected in peaceful times, has no particular advantages of situation, and is merely enclosed by what may be called a fence, rather than a defence. It is however regularly laid out in embryo streets which are neatly gravelled with the pumiceous subsoil from the banks of the river, and many of the gardens are filled with peach trees--while the Heathen pa was, for it no longer exists, a chaos of houses huddled together without a plan and abominably filthy.
William Thompson, or Wiremu, as he is familiarly called, was the founder of the former, for after his conversion, he was so annoyed by the dissolute habits and continual quarrels of the Pagan portion of his tribe, that he induced his fellow-converts to separate themselves from them and build a pa: under his auspices a very handsome Chapel has been built, eighty feet in length, by forty in breadth, of suitable height, furnished with glass windows, and having a portion neatly railed off, containing a Communion-table. But here his turbulent tribe would not let him rest in peace, for on an occasion when he interposed his authority, as the son of Waharoa and Chief of the tribe, he was told he had no right to interfere as he was not living upon his own ground, on which he said-- "If that be the case, I will live on my own ground," and he accordingly removed to his patrimonial possessions........... on the Maungakaua Hills, where he was engaged in building another pa, in which he was joined by his fellow-Christians, and was at present absent from Mata Mata, on that employment. He is a most interesting young man, and to all appearances a sincere Christian. His father Waharoa, was one of the most famous warriors in New Zealand, his exploits would fill a volume, and the Ngatihoua, led by him, were the terror of their enemies, indeed in looking now at their nervous active figures, for they are all sinewy spare men, and their quick, restless eye, one can imagine what deeds they would be capable of performing under a warlike and ambitious Chief. They have a frank bold bearing that distinguishes them from other tribes, and have an openness of character, which those who trade with them find much more agreeable than the cautious, Jewish habits of most of their countrymen. A bargain is soon concluded with them, without that narrow examination of the utu, if paid in European manufactured goods, which is so annoying on the part of other tribes, who seem to scrutinize every thread of a blanket in order to discover a flaw. They are indeed said not to distinguish very nicely the difference between meum and tuum, and are consequently inclined to pilfer, a softening down, probably, of their former predatory habits, but if ready to take, they are equally ready to give, and are very hospitable.
I have mentioned some of Waharoa's warlike exploits in a former part of my journal; I heard some further details while at the pa, which show his fearless and daring character. It appears that his hostility to the Ngatiwakaua of Roturua was more inveterate than against any of the other tribes with whom he was at feud. He often carried taua or war-parties into their territory, and in his last incursion, having defeated and forced them to retreat into their pa, which was too strong to take by storm; his endeavours to draw them out were in vain, and at length, losing all patience, he advanced singly in front of the stockade, but out however of musquet-shot, and brandishing his tomahawk and dancing the war-dance, made use of such insulting language and gestures, that some of the young men within became so irritated, that they rushed out with their musquets, and fired at him without effect while he was slowly retreating--he instantly darted like lightning upon them before they could reload, and slew several of them ere they could regain the shelter of their pa. The fugitives being reproached with their maladroitness in missing their aim, one of them very naively said-- "Who could shoot straight when Waharoa was making such frightful faces!"
It was on this occasion that Mr. Chapman's house, who then resided near Ohinemutu, was plundered--the fight having taken place just in front of it. Two Missionary gentlemen, Messrs. Pedley and Knight, were at that time in charge, during Mr. Chapman's absence at Mata Mata--they were instantly stripped to their shirts by some of the victorious party, and carried to an eminence close to the field of battle, where they were made to stand and witness the cutting to pieces of the bodies of the slain Ngatiwakaua, preparatory to cooking them for the horrid feast, which in those days was the consummation of a victory. They stood trembling, expecting soon to follow the fate of the slain; when Waharoa, returning from the pursuit, perceived them and was informed who they were, he instantly went up and taking them by the hand, placed them under tapu, that is made them sacred, so that none dare molest them, and insisted at the same time that their clothes should be restored, "for," said he, addressing his people, "if you make slaves of the white men, you may expect the anger of the white men's God!" He treated them with great kindness, and afterwards conducted them in safety to the Missionary house at Mata Mata. A laughable circumstance occurred at this time. One of the Chiefs had taken Mr. Pedley's watch, which he refused to return, but not being aware of the necessity of winding it up, it of course ran down and stopped, no sooner had he observed this than he burst into loud lamentation, saying-- "The white man's Atua will surely kill me as utu!" The simple-minded savage believing that it was a living creature whose death he had caused, and that by the lex talionis, he would necessarily suffer. He immediately ran and returned it to its owner, who, revivified it, by winding it up, allayed his fears.
Waharoa, it seems, could practise the art of strategy when necessary, with as much success as he could exhibit boldness in the open field, which the following anecdote will show. On one of the occasion when his inveterate enemies the Ngatipaua and the other Hauraki tribes in conjunction with the Ngapuhi, came in such force to Mata Mata, that he did not deem it prudent to meet them beyond his pa; while they on their part dare not venture on an assault; they therefore lay before it for some days, both parties occupying themselves with desultory skirmishes, which led to no decisive result. Tired of this indecisive warfare, Waharoa devised the following stratagem to bring his enemies within his power, and most probably defeat them. He accordingly directed his people to cook two days provisions and to put out all the fires carefully, making them dig at the same time a deep ditch within the pallisades of that part of the pa that the enemy could alone approach. In the mean time he caused all the dogs of the place to be taken outside and tied to trees in a wood which lay immediately in the rear of the place, where these animals kept up a continual howling and barking. The Ngatihoua now hid themselves in the trenches I have described, until the time for action--Waharoa wisely judging that when the enemy saw no fires, and heard the noise of the dogs, they would imagine that he and his tribe had fled, but had left the dogs behind for fear their barking should discover their line of retreat. He was correct in his predictions, the besieging party seeing no fires, nor appearance of movement, and hearing the howling of the dogs, naturally thought that the pa was deserted, and at the end of the second day marched in a body to take possession of it. Waharoa permitted them to approach within gunshot when, on a given signal the defenders starting up, poured in such a withering fire, that the enemy, panic-struck, broke and fled and were pursued with great slaughter to their canoes which lay in the Waiho. The Hauraki tribes, though still at feud with the Ngatihoua, have never again ventured to attack Mata Mata.
Waharoa on his death bed sent for his son Terarapipi, or Werimu as he is generally called, and taking his hand, said-- "I have three requests to make--forsake the Missionaries." "I cannot," said his son--"Well! make war on the Ngatiwakaua." "I will not," answered he. "Then always be the friend of the white man." "I will," said Werimu, and he has faithfully kept his word for he is still a Christian. Like his father he is the friend of the white man, for on the occasion of Rauparaha's seizure, when emissaries from Taupo came to Mata Mata, and urged the Ngatihoua to make common cause with them and expel the English; the tribe, at his solicitations, flatly refused to listen to their overtures, and when the question of the projected road was mooted, he persuaded the younger members of the tribe to accede to its formation, though the older Chiefs, with a senseless and anile jealousy, were loud in opposition, reiterating the usual objection, that when it was finished the soldiers would come and make slaves of them. He has never again led his tribe against Rotorua, but has been instrumental in bringing about a peace between the hitherto hostile tribes. Indeed, shortly after his father's death he showed his determination to frustrate any attempt, on the part of his tribe, to carry on hostilities, for when, at that period, a majority of them had determined to attack Maketu, the seaport of Rotorua, and had stolen away secretly in the night, with that intention, Werimu followed them in the morning, and having overtaken the taua, in company with a Missionary, he prevailed on the party to stop and take food, and then proposed that his companion should preach and pray to them to which they assented, from a superstitious feeling, that if the Missionary prayed to his Atua, their success would be certain. The Missionary in expounding the Scripture, as the service was in the open air, had kept his hat on, but on repeating the Lord's Prayer, had uncovered his head, which, happening to be bald, several of the young men laughed, and made use of some irreverent expressions, which, however, were not taken notice of at the time. Werimu then got them to promise that they would remain where they were and hear service the following day which was Sunday, but in the morning he found that they had secretly decamped, and were on their way to Tauranga.
Werimu being unencumbered, while the taua having to carry provisions, could only move slowly, soon overtook it, and passing by hurried on to Tauranga, whence he immediately despatched a messenger to Maketu, to warn the Ngatiwakaua of the projected attack. On the arrival of the Ngatihoua at Tauranga, Mr. Brown, the resident Missionary, attempted in vain to prevent their advance. Arrived at Maketu, the Ngatihoua could not prevail on the Ngatiwakaua to come out and fight them on a fair field, and becoming impatient, they attempted to take the place by assault, but the defenders being prepared to receive them; although they displayed the most undaunted courage, they were finally repulsed with the loss of forty of their bravest warriors, and retreated to Tauranga, saying sorrowfully, that they had done with fighting since they had lost to many of their best men. "Yes," said Wiremu, who had remained at the mission house, "that is your utu for having insulted one of God's servants." They could not reply, but returned crest-fallen to MataMata. Many of this party who were Heathens, embraced Christianity, and the tribe have remained quiet ever since.
I have mentioned that Werimu was instrumental in bringing about a peace between his tribe and those of Rotorua. A great feast was given by the Ngatihoua to the Ngatiwakaua, on that occasion. It took place at Mata Mata, and lasted fourteen days. The enormous number of one thousand pigs, and fifty thousand eels were consumed during that period, and, on the principal day, a row of kete of cooked potatoes and kumera, two hundred-yards long, five feet high, and the same in breadth, was displayed on the ground, and the whole party of guests, nearly three thousand in number, were furnished with raw potatoes for private cooking, during the whole period of their stay. Fifteen casks of tobacco were also given to the Ngatiwakaua by their hosts, the whole of whom appeared in European clothing. But the strangest part of the whole transaction, and which shows the true spirit of trade that actuates the Maori, was the fact, that the Ngatihoua, after displaying their finery, actually disposed of it to their guests, for the very tobacco they had made over to them as a present. Forty umbrellas were also presented to the principal Rangatira of the Rotorua, who, to acknowledge the value of the present, walked two and two to Church (for my companion was present), with the umbrellas displayed over their heads, although the weather was gloomy, and the warmth of the sun would have been more agreeable than otherwise. It was a most ludicrous scene, but the actors paced along with the utmost gravity.
On this occasion an incident occurred which showed that the effect of Missionary instruction had been successful in repressing the fierce passions of these men, for some of the hot-headed youths of either party having quarrelled, tomahawks were brandished, when an old Christian Chief, who had come from Kawhia to be present at the feast, and who was in the Chapel at the time, at evening service, hearing the disturbance, rushed out, and holding up the Testament said-- "We will judge the matter by this book, if it authorizes war--use your arms--but if peace, lay them down!" The appeal was unanswerable, and both parties retired to their houses, ashamed of their conduct.
[Continued in the New Zealander, 22nd December, 1847]
We left the pa at one o'clock with the intention of bivouacking on the banks of the Waitoa, in order to reach the Wanaki settlement on the Piako, the following day. The path lies along the banks of the Waitoa, which runs in the centre of a deep bed or holm, about twenty feet below the level of the plain, which in some places is several hundred yards wide and filled with kahikatea, rimu, totara, and tawa: this bed is covered in flood to a considerable depth, and the river is then impassable. As we advanced northward, the soil of the plain which around Mata Mata is very rich, became less so, and the surface is entirely bare of wood, and traversed by several flax-swamps. For this reason a portion of it of several square miles in extent, was sold about four years since, to Government, and a part of the tribe are anxious to sell the portion nearer to Mata Mata, which having been once cultivated, and all the timber destroyed, is an excellent soil although of no further use to them. The old men advocate its immediate sale-- "for" say they, "if it is not soon sold, we shall have no share in the utu. Poe Poe was present when the former land was told, but as the utu was not paid immediately, he died and never shared in it," The young men having no idea of dying oppose this by saying-- "Wait until the land becomes more valuable!" If, however, both these tracts were in the hands of Government, they would make some fine farms as there is a great deal of grass in the old cultivations. After a walk of several miles over perfectly level ground, the plain extending northward as far as the eye could reach, we descended into the dry bed of the stream which we crossed by means of a rude bridge, and continuing along the left bank for three miles further, reached our resting place, a small open shed, near a pa tuna or eelweir. Our Natives soon spread a bed of fern, and kindling a large fire, we had a good supper and slept comfortably until the morning, by taking the precaution of lying to leeward of the fire, so that the smoke drove away the mosquitos.
Jan. 16.--Rose at daybreak, and having recovered the usual path across the plain to the Piako, traversed a perfect level for ten miles, the soil of which was poor, and much intersected with flax-swamps, which were now quite dry, but were covered with a good deal of a grass peculiar to these places and much liked by cattle. Similar swamps but of much greater extent stretched southward to the base of the low bare ridges that run parallel to Maungakaua, the highest point of which is called Maunga Tapu, while to the north, the plain extended in an unbroken level, as far as the eye could reach, being however less dry from the quantity of raupo that covered it, and which always indicates the presence of water. We observed a solitary bush on our route, whose peculiar foliage attracted our attention--we were informed that it had been planted there as a land mark, and was tapu. On going to look at it we found a large bare space around, so trodden down as to have destroyed the fern, and this we were told was done to prevent the bush from being burnt by the fires which, lighted either by accident or design, annually destroy the fern over large tracts of country; and none of the members of the contiguous tribes ever pass by without walking round it, so that this act has become almost a superstitious observance--it is thus preserved from destruction.
The care with which this bush is kept is an evidence of how particular the Natives are in defining the respective boundaries of their lands, so that when no natural objects are present, such as streams or ranges of hills, they make use of artificial landmarks. It is an egregious error to imagine that the tribes do not know the extent of their territories, in fact no English Squire can point out the bounds of his estate with more accuracy. I have had the lands belonging to a tribe pointed out to me with as much minuteness as a Surveyor could do after having completed a surrey--every stream--every rock--each peak, and even remarkable trees, are selected for this purpose. It is true that a dispute often arises among tribes about boundaries, but still each will show what they conceive to be theirs--and even these differences announce the importance they attach to their lands. We value land for its adaptation to agricultural and pastoral purposes, they for its use as a pig-run. We look upon swamps and rivulets as useless, they prize them highly as breeding-places for eels. Those who are ignorant of these facts assume that the Natives do not care about their land because they do not esteem its value in their fashion, but it will be seen that if any attempt is made to appropriate it after the recommendations of the Select Committee on New Zealand affairs, that the tribes will rather die than suffer an acre to be taken except for an equivalent assented to by themselves.
We now reached the Wai-arikeki, a stream so named from the quantity of flax that fills the hollow in which it runs: it was now a trifling brook, and we stepped over it close to its confluence with the Piako; but in the winter it rises many feet, and with the addition of back-water from the Piako, forms at this spot a small lake, where my fellow-traveller was detained a whole day in constructing a raft to afford a passage across.
The path now follows the course of the Piako, downwards--the river is only thirty feet wide, and runs in a bed twenty feet below the level of the plain; this proves the facility, with which the swamps that cover it might be drained, as none of them even in the most rainy winter are more than a few feet deep. It rises in the Maungakaua hills, and runs along the foot of the dividing range, between the basins which contain that river and the Waiho, and that through which the Waikato has its course, receiving all the water from the eastern face of these hills, as well as from its own immediate sources, in the steep sides of Maungkaua, and the numerous rivulets of the plain--it therefore rises rapidly in heavy rains, and overflowing its banks, pours in conjunction with the Waitoa, an immense body of water over the plain, towards its mouth, completely inundating it, and forming a vast fresh water sea, on which canoes and even vessels of some burden, leaving the course of the river can sail with perfect safety. In this way the Delta which lies between it and the Waiho, is insensibly but gradually rising in height, from the mud which is thus annually deposited, and by which it has been originally formed.
At some former period either bank must have been lined with wood, as its bed is filled in many places with the trunks of immense trees, which from their position must have fallen into the river from the banks, but with the exception of a few straggling totara trees, it has entirely disappeared until near Mowkero, five-and-thirty miles from the mouth of the river, where it is bordered for three or four miles with a forest of kahikatea and tawa, beyond which, until it empties itself into the gulf of Houraki, its banks are entirely bare of wood.
We reached the Wanaki, a small settlement of a sept of the Ngatipaua, about one o'clock, where my companion has a house for the convenience of carrying on a trade in flax with the people of the place itself, and the Ngatihoua residing at Maungakaua, who convey there from the upper Piako in canoes, whence it is again carried to Mowkero, to which place, in ordinary seasons, vessels of ten or fifteen tons burden can ascend. In approaching the Wanaki, we passed over some fine alluvial flats, bordering the river, covered with grass, and which receive every year a top-dressing, from the inundations to which I have alluded--indeed on either bank there are stripes of alluvial land of greater or less breadth, but of less extent on the western bank, from which the ground rises by a gradual ascent to the hills, which are about two miles and a half distant.
The whole western bank, from the Awaroa Creek, which enters the Piako five miles below Mowkero, to nine miles beyond that place, was purchased from the Natives who reside at Mowkero, and the Wanaki, who are the more immediate possessors, and from the Ngatipaua of Hauraki who had a claim upon it, by Mr. William Webster of Coromandel Harbor, in the year 1839, with the avowed intention of bringing out Colonists from England, to settle there. The arrival of the Government however in 1840, put an end to that scheme, and in the month of June of the same year, he sold nearly the whole of it in various portions to different individuals, or made it over to parties in Sydney, in lieu of liabilities he had incurred there.
When the Land-Claims' Ordinance came into operation Mr. Webster preferred his claim for the whole purchase, but only 2,560 acres, the maximum grant authorized by the Ordinance, except in special cases, were awarded to him by the Commissioners appointed to investigate the claims, although they allowed that the purchase of the whole had been fairly made and acknowledged by the Natives the former possessors. The purchasers of land from Mr. Webster, or secondary claimants, as they are called, were therefore thrown overboard, notwithstanding their petitions which stated that having purchased the land before any prohibitory act was in force against such transactions, that they ought, in their opinion, to be viewed in the light of first purchasers, or primary claimants, but both Captain Hobson the first Governor, and his temporary successor Mr. Shortland, decided otherwise. On the arrival of Captain Fitzroy, however, the secondary claimants petitioned him on the subject, and he, in their opinion, taking a more just view of the case, directed them to prefer their claims, and so much of their purchases were acknowledged as they had paid for a the rate of five shillings per acre, and Crown-Grants were issued accordingly, and although many of the claimants did not receive one-half of what they had originally purchased, yet the grants were accepted as a boon, and gratefully acknowledged.
From the difficulty of access by land, nay, the impossibility of conveying cattle there, none of this land has either been cultivated or as yet made use of in any way, indeed none but the narrow alluvial strip along the river is suited for agricultural purposes, and that is liable to inundations, but the whole tract might be used for pasturing cattle, and it will no doubt be occupied in that way, when the proposed road into the interior is formed, and which will pass within a few miles of it.
There is a great quantity of flax along the banks of the river, and although not of such fine quality as that growing in the higher districts, would if dressed be well suited for many purposes, but it is impossible to get the Natives to dress more than a quantity sufficient to barter for the trade they require, except under the stimulus of some great necessity. When arms and ammunition were first introduced by trading vessels, some years back, whole tribes would spend night and day in alternate watches, to complete the quantity required for the coveted arms, but at present the case is different, the Natives have many other ways of procuring what they want, without having recourse to a work they most cordially dislike. The quantity of flax, therefore, procured from the Natives is even less now than formerly, nor is it likely to increase, unless a price be given as an inducement, which would swallow up all the profits of the flax-collectors.
The life of these persons is one of great risk and hardship, for they not only have to advance trade to the Natives before a leaf of the plant is cut, and trust to their honour and good faith to fulfil their engagements, but they meet with a hundred annoyances and delays by which their time is wasted, their means frittered away, and their health hurt. They have to suffer wet, cold, and often hunger, in their various journeys to stimulate the Natives to dress the flax, and when dressed to bring it to a place of embarkation, and even then all their labor may have been in vain, from the leaky state of most of the coasting vessels, for if wet with salt water it is ruined, unless washed immediately in fresh water, a process which cannot always be conveniently managed.
It is difficult to say how the manufacture of this valuable article can be extended and encouraged, unless machinery can be constructed to produce it in as fine a state as it comes from the hands of the Natives, for as I have before observed, it is vain to trust to them for any greater supply. There is no doubt, however, but that it might be cultivated with advantage, the finer kinds being selected for that purpose, just as the Natives do in the interior districts where it is not indigenous. I have taken notice of the manner in which they fence their fields with it as at Maungatautari, and many places on the Waipa, and in the Lake country, and although this could not be advantageously practised by European farmers who keep cattle, yet it might be planted in fields expressly fenced for the purpose, and night be cut and dressed by the women and younger members of the family, without interfering with the usual agricultural occupations.
By being steeped in a running stream, after the manner of the Natives when preparing it for their finer mats, the mucilage with which it abounds, and which is the cause of the decay of the fibre, by promoting fermentation when closely packed, would be removed, and the further process of a careful hackling, would enable it to be sent to England in a very different state from that in which it is usually embarked. In fact, at present it is looked upon by ship-masters more as rubbish which must be carried because its freight is paid for, than as a valuable article--it is consequently crammed into the hold anywhere, and indeed used more as dunnage than as part of the cargo. It is not therefore to be wondered at, that it arrives in London in a deteriorated condition, and is often sold for little more than it cost in New Zealand. It ought indeed to be one of the staple exports of the Colony, and should be as certain a return-freight for ships coming with cargoes to Auckland, as wool is to those arriving in Sydney.
My companion's cottage was near the river and the wood, and was consequently infested with myriads of mosquitoes, whose attacks after sun-set were most intolerable. Mosquito-curtains are not among the luxuries of the "bush," so our only chance of getting rid of these tormentors and snatching a little sleep, was by kindling a smouldering fire on the earthen floor, in a corner of our sleeping-room, the smoke from which filling the apartment, drove out the insects, but subjected us to almost as great suffering from the sense of semi-suffocation we experienced, and which inflicted a continuous night mare upon us.
Jan. 17.--We hailed the dawn of day with pleasure as it is always a signal for the disappearance of mosquitoes and after getting two hours sound sleep, rose and having performed our ablutions in a wholesale way, by bathing in the river, and having breakfasted, we followed the right bank of the river to Mowkero.--There is a good deal of fine alluvial land between the river and a line of extensive swamps which lie to the South; this part extends to the pa, a distance of three miles, and some way beyond it and to the west is continuous with a similar part which I have mentioned at having passed on my way to the Wanaki. This land is claimed by a gentleman who maintains that he purchased it in the year 1839, but the natives who reside at Mowkero deny the validity of the purchase, confining it to about two hundred acres which they have carefully marked out by pickets placed at the four corners and on which they have permitted the purchaser to erect a house. On our mentioning that the gentleman in question intended to come and measure the land he affirms he has purchased, one of the natives immediately started up and said emphatically, "Yes, he may come and measure it, but he will first pass the chain over our bodies." The fact is, he did pay for it, but unfortunately for him only to Koenake and other chiefs of the Ngatipaua who I have mentioned had a claim on all the land on either side of the river, and in which payment those who reside on the soil had no participation; hence their resistance to the claims on the land of the east bank, whereas they acknowledge unhesitatingly Mr. Webster's purchase of the western bank and say all that they want is, that the pakehas to whom it belongs would come and live upon it; and they actually built a house almost gratuitously for my companion, who is a son of one of the claimants, in order to induce him to reside among them, and the principal chief of the place has him under his especial patronage, constituting him his white man, protecting him from rudeness,--which slaves and tutua, or plebeians, are sometimes apt to show to pakehas,--and from some other annoyances incident to a bush life; for this, like the Highland Chiefs of old, and the Arab Sheiks of the present day, he levies a kind of black mail, paid in tobacco, and the old gentleman daily stations himself at the door of the cottage smoking the pipe of peace. The two old ladies, his wives, (for he rejoices in a plurality of helpmates, being still a pagan,) act as cook and housekeeper and, during my companions absence, they guard his property with an Argus eyed watchfulness, and he has never lost a single article. The old chief is inclined to become "mittinare" but, as the christian code only allows "one wife," his affection for both is such that he is sorely perplexed which to dismiss, and as neither of them are quite assured which is to be the favored one, they both urge him to adhere to the belief of his ancestors.
The pa of Mowkero is stockaded and stands on the eastern banks of the river. It may contain about sixty inmates who are fast diminishing in numbers from the effects of a remittent fever which attacks them in the summer and autumn with deadly effect. It arises from the stagnant water around and the want of ventilation, as the pa is entirely surrounded by forest, and is flooded every winter. It would indeed be abandoned but for the valuable eel fisheries on the Piako. The ancient pa was on a high, conical hill, near the western bunk, a short distance below the present one. It was stormed by Hongi and the Nghapuhi about twenty-five years since and the inhabitants either slaughtered, carried off as slaves, or drawn away to Maungatautari, and the Piako was abandoned for many years. More peaceful times at length arriving, the Ngatipaua sent some of their inferior rangatira, or freemen, and their slaves to fish, and these men after a time forming themselves into a tribe and having cultivated the soil, founded, according to native custom, a claim upon it, and which, as they became strong enough to assert, they have been allowed to maintain. In consequence, however, of the unhealthiness of the place, they talk of abandoning it and building a pa upon higher ground. It is a miserable, filthy den, and the people with few exceptions are a rude, knavish, set. We returned to the Wanaki by canoe, a route which the winding of the river makes tedious; but the banks in many places were prettily fringed with wood, and the alluvial soil was many feet in depth.
In the afternoon we strolled for some distance, though with difficulty, up the river, passing on our way through a grassy spot of about an acre in extent, occupied by clumps of large ti, so as almost to form a wood --their tall stems and terminal bunches of long leaves resembled a grove of palm trees, and gave quite an oriental aspect to the place. Some distance beyond this, is the old deserted pa of Kopuahape, which very much resembled a modern redoubt, being a parallelogram, defended on three sides by a deep ditch and rampart, and on the fourth by the steep bank of the river. Its position, on an eminence commanding all the neighborhood, showed the usual skill the Natives display in the situation of their strong-holds. We saw much good flax in the swampy ground that runs parallel to the river, but the banks were singularly bare of wood, and with the exception of the Wanaki wood, there was none nearer than the summits of hills at the back, a distance of several miles.
We had to endure the purgatory of another night in the house, as the very heavy dews which fall here after sunset, from the presence of a large an evaporating surface of shallow fresh water, made it unadvisable to sleep in the open air. The vapor, which on ordinary occasions would fall as dew, sometimes occasions dense fogs, if the temperature of the atmosphere should be reduced during the night, and as they are not very common in New Zealand, the fogs of the Piako are quite proverbial. It is also noted for its wet and cold, and a Native never talks of it without shrugging his shoulders, and mentioning the two above-mentioned disadvantages. Indeed I believe it would not be occupied at all but for the eels which the river affords, and which are remarkably fine, and abundant. The wet, cold, and want of wood, were probably the reasons why the owners parted so readily with so large a tract as that sold to Mr. Webster, but they took good care in the transaction to sell all the worst land, lying above the sites of their eel-weirs, which could not thus be interfered with, and retaining every acre that contained wood, or was of fertile quality. It will be found, indeed, that the New Zealanders have never sold land of any real use to themselves, except at its full value, for it must be remembered that without wood and convenient water-communication, the richest soils would be almost useless. On the land in question they have reserved to themselves all the clumps of wood bordering the river.
[Continued in the New Zealander, 25th December, 1847]
Jan. 18.--The Piako, whose mouth is but seven miles distant from that of the Waiho, runs nearly parallel to that river, and to the mass of wooded hills which extend southward from Oriri, and Waka te wai, on the western shores of the Gulf of Hauraki, for some miles, when its course being more from the west causes it to diverge from the Waiho, and from the same cause lie nearer, to the hills, indeed at about twenty miles from its mouth, it almost touches the southern termination of that range of hills, which ends abruptly; taking a south-westerly direction, and tends towards the basin or valley of the Waikato; but before it reaches it, a range much lower, and evidently from the shape of the hills, of a different formation, starts up as it were at their base, and at this spot or point of junction, there is a very considerable depression, of which the Natives have taken advantage as the means of passage from either valley, and as the path ascends from the river, along the course of the creek called Tehuna-tapu, it is generally known as the Tehuna-tapu Pass.
Up this path therefore, which is scarcely a musquet-shot distant from the Wanaki, we ascended, just as the sun emerged in all its morning brilliancy, from behind the lofty Aroha mountain, having first taken a most tender leave of the old Chief Moho, and his two ladies. It crosses transversely the long declivity that stretches from the hills to the river, the soil of which is a light loam, not suited to the cultivation of wheat, but well adapted to the growth of grasses and clover--at present it is everywhere covered with fern of about three feet high, interspersed with occasional clumps of dwarf manuka. We could trace a similar slope extending for many miles southward, having that part of it, which lies contiguous to the alluvial stripe of land on the river's bank, occupied by flax. A walk of two miles brought us to the pass, and near to the source of the Tehuna-tapu creek, which we crossed and continued onward to the highest ground, or summit level, from which as the pass is wide, and not immediately bounded by high hills, afforded us a view of the plain of the Waiho and Piako on one hand, and of the plain of the Waikato on the other--the one bounded to the east by the Aroha Mountains, the other on the west by Taupiri and the sea-range-- and our view was considerably extended by ascending a conical hill to the north of the path, from which we looked down upon a vast extent of country, the course of the Waiho being distinctly marked nearly to Mata Mata by the dark fringe of kahikatea forest which lines its banks, and the Piako was equally traced by the presence of occasional clumps of wood, and thickets of bushes: The space lying between these two rivers, which are at least fifteen miles apart, being, with the exception of the forest at Mata Mata, and along a portion of the Waitoa, utterly bare of timber. The green of the flax, and the yellow tinge of the raupo gave the impression of a large extent of fine pasture-lands, an illusion which was so complete, that it required to have passed over the ground to know that they were mere swamps. The valley, or plain of the Waikato extended far and wide to the west, covered with swamps and dark masses of forest, while the range on which we stood, stretched southward in a mass of conical hillocks, rising to an apex at some miles distant, from whence they as gradually declined in height, and at last almost merged into the plain at Keri Keri Roa, where there is a track from Mata Mata to Kaitotehe on the Waikato, along the base of the Maungakaua Hills, whose triple summits rose in the distance. In fact, but for the dividing range, one vast plain, more than thirty miles in breadth, and of various lengths, from the inflexion of the hills, would lie between the Aroha and Taupiri chains, comprising at least two millions of acres, much of which, by drainage and other means, might be made available for agriculture, but more particularly for the pasturage of large herds of cattle, for there is much grass already over many parts of it, and as I have before remarked, grass seems to follow the track of cattle.
The only Native settlements over this vast tract are at Opita on the Waiho--Mata Mata on the Waitoa--Mowkero and Wanaki on the Piako--Pukerau on the upper Piako--at Keri-Keri-roa on the Waikato--one at the mouth of the Maungawera river as it joins the Waikato, and a few huts on temporary cultivation grounds. Now all these are situated on the circumference as it were of the plain, and its occupation as a grazing ground would be consented to by the Natives, with proper arrangements, but until the contemplated road into the interior is finished, which will lead directly through and open up this valuable tract, it will remain a "caput mortuum."
We descended from the pass by a path close to a large and, in this bare part of the country, remarkable clump of kahikatea, and soon reached the edge of the plain, crossing several swamps, which were now dry, but which in the winter would have been impassable, until we came to the mouth of a pretty valley, which stretched upward into the wooded gorges of the Waka-te-wai hills; a clear stream wound through it and it was dotted with clumps of fine karaka, and thickets of koromiko, the Veronica superba of botanists; whose presence always indicates a rich soil, between which there was much grass. The path now led across the bare fern-covered slopes that lie at the foot of the Wakatewai Hills, which rose above us covered with noble timber to the very summits. We remarked at various spots along the path, the excavations which had been made for the purpose of procuring the kauri gum as the resin which exudes from that tree is called, at the period when that article was in great request, and large quantities were brought from every part of the interior to Auckland and exported to England--so much arrived in London that the market was glutted, and some of the exporters having suffered a loss, the trade has dropped. It is a singular fact that this gum is found buried at various depths below the surface in every part of the island, north of the Waikato river, in spots where not a vestige of the tree now exists, and it is said that it is found in the Waipa country, and even in the Middle, and Southern, Island, but in that case it may probably be the produce of a variety of the kauri now extinct.
We at length readied the Maungawera river, which has its sources from the various small rivulets that pour down from the Wakatewai Ranges, a pretty stream, coursing along the foot of the slopes on the skirts of a forest which covers that part of the plain. We had expected to have found potatoes for our three attendants at a small summer settlement, near an eel-weir on the banks of the river, but in this we were disappointed, for the crop having utterly failed, from the drought, it had been abandoned, and as we had carried none with us, we were obliged to divide the bread we had brought for our own use, with our Natives, and they therefore had but a sorry breakfast, for bread, though containing more nourishment, is not bulky enough to satisfy people accustomed to devour three or four pounds weight of potatoes at a meal. Occasional short commons, however, is rather in favor of expeditious travelling, for there is no loitering with the Natives in that case as after a hearty meal, since on the present occasion they pushed on so rapidly to reach some less famished part of the country, that we could scarce keep up with them.
After fording the river we entered the forest, which consisted of lofty kahikatea, rimu, tawai, pukatea, and superb karakas, with an underwood of mapau, pukapuka, and the other trees common to the woods about Auckland, but which I had not remarked in forests south of the Waikato, while the interlacing stems of the kareo, the supple jack of the bush-men and of a species of passion flower, the fruit of which of in orange color, hung in bunches over our heads, offered the usual impediments to travelling an unfrequented path, The soil was a rich alluvial loam.
We soon came upon the Maungawera again in its windings, and crossed and recrossed it several times by means of fallen trees which formed natural bridges. It was now not more than three feet deep; and its bed was much encumbered by the trunks of trees, and consequently not navigable for canoes, but in the winter these are covered and canoes can ascend from the Waikato to within six miles of the Tehuna-tapu Pass.
After a tedious travel of some miles through the forest, we emerged from it into a large open tract, part of which, to the extent of several hundred acres, had, evidently, been under former cultivation, as it was covered with grass, towi towi, and koromiko--beyond it the fern resumed its dominion on a succession of low undulating hills, over which we passed towards another forest, from the edge of which smoke was rising, a never-failing sign of the presence of Natives, and which was viewed with unfeigned delight by our people, in the hope that they would not be again disappointed in procuring potatoes. They were not disappointed, for we found several plantations in good condition, cultivated by some of Tewhero-whero's people whom he had sent there, with a provident eye to the course of events, to cultivate a portion at present, and clear for future cultivation, in case the projected road should pass in that direction, which will, most probably, be the case, for from this place which is called Morangi, we could almost see the necessary line of route crossing through a pass in the Taupiri-range called the Miro, near where it strikes off from the Wakatewai chain, and then following the declivity of the western base of these hills, to the Tehuna-tapu Pass, from whence it might be carried to either side of the dividing range, and so on to Mata Mata or Maungatautari. The chief expense in such an undertaking would be the formation of bridges over the endless gullies which lie between the projecting spurs of the hills. Te Whero-whero knew that the road-parties would require food, and would purchase it at the nearest market. The consisted merely of a few summer huts, neatly made of the stems of the tree-fern, placed upright in the ground-- an airy apartment is thus formed, which they exchange in the winter for their ware-puni, which are almost hermetically sealed. There was but one family in the place, but it was rather large since it extended over four generations--the head or great-grandfather, who lay in one of the huts "gaunt and grim," must have been at least ninety years of age, for his son, grandfather of the party, was well stricken in years, and his two sons again, were stout men, being fathers to a fine set of young urchins who were frolicking about in "puris naturalibus." There were only three "o' womankind," a grandmother and two mothers.
The peaceful times which now exist in the island, and which enables families to scatter themselves, and settle in places favourable to cultivation, and thereby obtain better and more abundant nourishment, instead of as formerly being cooped up in pas, and often subsisting on fern root, and other less nutritious substances, would seem to be a means of staying that decrease in the population of the country which has evidently been going on of late years; but notwithstanding there are causes in operation which counter-balance these, and scarce any of the tribes have increased in numbers.
In Waharoa's time, the Ngatihoua, notwithstanding their continual wars, were fifteen hundred in number, and mustered eight hundred fighting men, now they could scarcely bring one half into the field.
This change in the physical constitution of the natives may in some measure be traced to the introduction of European diseases, which their peculiar habits would cause to spread. The blanket too, which has so completely superseded the native mat, is a covering which by stimulating the cutaneous surface, makes it very susceptible to cold, and in the careless way in which they wear them, quite irrespective of the temperature, often saturated with wet, must give rise to pulmonary diseases and rheumatism. The potato again, their principal article of food, eaten as it is without salt, and often of indifferent quality, would appear to be one of the causes of the prevalence of scrofulous diseases, and, the maize which they prepare for food by a process which causes it to become rancid, would assist by injuring the digestive organs together with a want of personal cleanliness, in bringing out those various eruptions with which they are so much affected. Now before Cook's time, they only possessed the kumera and taro, two very nourishing roots; particularly the latter, which contains ninety percent of nutritive matter; in fact, it is almost pure starch. The cultivation of these plants was more laborious than that of "Ireland's lazy root," and the supply was not so abundant, the natives consequently had recourse to fishing to make up the deficiency, and to the collection and use as articles of daily food, of the various shell-fish that abound on the sea-shore: the labour attendant on these different occupations would tend to strengthen and invigorate the frame. Whereas now, content with the potato, they are enabled to spend days in the dolce far niente state, basking in the sun and gossipping, when such poor food as the potato cannot fail to weaken their constitutions. They might make use of the pigs which are so abundant, but these they reserve for hui hui, or for trade, with the white men. The women carry on nursing to a period much longer than is necessary, and thereby weaken themselves; and the time of weaning is one of much danger to the children, who are thrown in a great measure upon such coarse food, for sustenance as must injure them, and I believe numbers die at that period.
But without further particularly enumerating the causes of the physical degeneration and decrease in numbers of the aborigines; it would seem that an aboriginal people in their transition from the savage to the civilized state invariably suffer in a similar manner. They are no longer excited by the stimuli of wars, and predatory excursions which kept alive their mental and physical energies, and tended no doubt to render them hardy, nor have they the attractions of the chase as a substitute, since New Zealand does not possess a wild animal larger than a rat. They found themselves constrained by the dictates of Christianity to forsake the practice of war, but they did not learn at the same time to follow the active arts of peace; consequently they abandoned themselves to indolence. Man is naturally averse to labour, and habits of industry cannot be acquired at will. They require to be cultivated and are of very slow growth, even necessity cannot force them at once, although it may assist their development. Some races however, seem to possess this power, for I can give it no other name, more than others. The Teutonic races are superior to the Celtic in that respect, and the Malay to the African races. It would be as unreasonable to demand, as vain to expect, from this generation of natives what they really can not possess.
The Polynesian races seem certainly to adopt European customs more readily than the aborigines of other countries, and this may arise from their being cultivators of the soil, and living in fixed dwellings, while the latter are mere hunters, and except in the winter season; have no settled abode. We see indeed symptoms of a favorable change in the fact of their growing wheat, erecting mills, cultivating the different varieties of European esculents, and above all, working on the roads, and assisting in the erection of the buildings now carrying on by the Government, a species of continuous labour, which they generally dislike. If this be judiciously fostered, it may be a germ which by proper management, will grow, figuratively speaking, into a tree; laden with goodly fruit. But even these pleasing anticipations must still be subject to the causes I have enumerated, as tending to a decay of the native race.
We were most hospitably entertained, and requited the kindness by giving some tobacco to three generations, but the fourth eyed the present most wistfully, and thought themselves neglected in not being included. The habit of smoking, in which even the youngest children indulge as soon as they can hold a pipe, is most pernicious, and may be added to the causes which are deteriorating their constitutions.
Our Natives had, by the liberality of their country-men, made up so effectually for the abstinence of the morning, that they could scarcely move, and begged for more rest than we were inclined to allow, but they pleaded so hard that as the sun was intensely hot, and the air very oppressive from the smoke of the large fires all round, we agreed to remain until the evening, and abandoned the idea of reaching Kaitotehe that night, which we might easily have done, but sleep at some of the settlements on the banks of Maungawera.
We descended from Moerangi into the forest full of noble kahikatea, and in an hour came upon the river again which we crossed at one of the eel-weirs and entered an extensive flat that had been just burnt, and the ashes on its surface were still hot. We could see by the volumes of smoke at a distance, that the fire was spreading far and wide, aided by the evening breeze. These constant fires are, no doubt, the cause of the shallow surface soil New Zealand shows over the greater part of the open country, and they are equally hostile to present vegetation, for each successive conflagration weakens the vigor of the fern and various shrubs and plants, until the latter almost entirely disappear, and are replaced by rushes and club-moss, and even the former has a poor stunted growth. The ashes, which from containing pot-ash, would enrich the soil, are either blown or washed away into the hollows and courses of streams, and are carried away by the winter floods.
Crossing the flat the river again met us in its windings, and we passed to the opposite side over a natural bridge, formed by a fallen tree, into an extension of the forest, from which we emerged again to find ourselves on the right bank of the river, whose course we now followed for three or four miles. It was bounded by a large swamp, extending inland and to the north, which could not have contained less than five thousand acres of fine flax. It was so luxuriant near the river, where the path lay for the convenience of touching at the different eel-weirs, that where it did not form an arch over our heads, we had to stoop, or force our way through its heavy leaves, an office of great labor, and we were heartily fatigued even before we came out of it: we now ascended a long hill which ran parallel to it, from which we could distinctly see the Miro Pass through the Taupiri Range, and descended into another wood which accompanied the river in its serpentine course, and soon came to cultivation, carried on in the usual destructive manner.
Leaving the river, we crossed some undulating bare hills, and flooded ground, beyond which the river again met us, winding through an extensive alluvial flat of the richest soil, once evidently covered with wood, although now, in the course of cultivation, only thinly sprinkled with it. The plantations were very numerous, and the potato-crop, probably from the moisture of the soil, finer than I had seen in any part of the country-- the drought which had ruined the others, had merely dried this land sufficiently for their favorable growth. There were a few huts, but all the men were absent, indeed the only occupant was a solitary woman, who gave us some fine potatoes. As the evening was beautiful and gave promise of a fine night, we preferred the open air to sleeping under cover in one of the filthy huts--accordingly, having selected a dry spot with firewood convenient, we soon had good fern beds prepared, and kindling a circle of mosquito fires around our bivouac, the fatigues of the day threw us into a deep sleep.
[Continued in the New Zealander, 29th December, 1847]
Jan. 18.--We arose as usual at day-break, but the fog was so dense that we could scarcely see a few yards beyond our bivouack, and our blankets were so saturated with moisture that it took some time to dry them, even by the aid of a large fire. As we thought it dangerous to proceed down the river for fear of upsetting small canoe we had procured, on the snags and stumps of trees which encumber it, we breakfasted before setting out, contrary to our usual custom, but finding no abatement of the cimmerian darkness that shrouded every object, we became impatient and embarked, but were obliged to move with the greatest caution, both to avoid the before-mentioned dangers and to keep the proper channel, for the river here branches off into several streams, forming numerous islands. As we carefully moved on, however, the fog became less heavy, and we could see that the banks were fringed with noble totara, a tree much resembling the English yew in its foliage. We then continued our course downwards for several miles, passing a continuous line of cultivations, and at length reached a pa strongly stockaded, but whose inmates had not yet ventured forth into the mist. After paddling for at least six miles, often, from the windings of the stream, almost doubling back a course parallel to the one we had just passed, the mist suddenly dispersed and we saw it rolling up the steep and wooded sides of Taupiri, at whose base we found ourselves, and by a vigorous exertion of the paddle, we shot out from the dark and sluggish waters of the Maungawera, which might be about thirty or forty feet wide, into the clear and azure stream of the broad Waikato, glittering under a brilliant sun, just opposite to the pa of Kaitotehe, where we landed and were met by our former hospitable entertainer Mr. Ashwell, to whose residence we proceeded. He informed me that of the sick persons he took me to visit on my way up the country, six had died during my absence; now this is a large proportion of deaths in so short a time out of a population of three hundred, and it corroborates what I have assumed regarding the decrease of the Natives, as there were not a corresponding number of births. It appeared also that the question of permitting the proposed road from Auckland to pass through their country had been again agitated at several korero, and the usual objections started. On one of these occasions an old and sensible Chief started up, and said-- "Of what are you afraid! was it the white men who first begun the war? No! it was Heki at Kororarika, and Ranghiata in the South." He continued-- "If you commit thefts at Auckland, you are afraid of being pursued--do no evil, and you will never be injured by the Governor!" The fact is that the more intelligent and reflecting Chiefs foresee the benefit that will accrue to the country by such a measure. They remember the state of the island before our arrival, and they contrast it with its present condition, and they cannot but acknowledge that a vast improvement in their social condition has been the result of our colonization. They no doubt feel that as our power increases, their influence is diminishing, but they must see that they reap equivalent advantages. That sagacious Chief Te Whero-whero, when Captain Hobson the first Governor visited him in the year 1842, addressed the multitude at the great korero, which was then held at this very place-- "Come my friends, listen to me, and to this my new treasure (pointing to the Governor)--when muskets and powder were first brought among us we were pleased--when the Missionaries came I consented, for I saw they were good. And now I bring this new treasure do not turn your backs--do not turn your backs on this great treasure. We have brought a law, a new law, to save us from killing and robbing each other. I will take this my new treasure up the Waipa, through every bend of the river. Friends, do not think little of what I say!"
Having procured a guide I proceeded to ascend Taupiri by crossing the river, and as my time was limited commenced climbing straight up the steep face of the hill, instead of following a more circuitous but longer path. The old proverb of-- "the longest way round is the shortest way home," was here fully verified, for the ground was so slippery from the continued drought, that I made two paces backward for one in advance, and was at length fairly obliged to pull myself up by seizing hold of the young underwood, and thus, hand over hand, as sailors say, reached the summit--but hear the magnificent prospect which presented itself amply repaid me for all my toil.
At my feet, for the sides of Taupiri are so steep that one almost overhangs it, lay the river, winding either way through the pass, amidst rich cultivations, a mong which were scattered the pas that line the bank, and the pretty Missionary mansion with its gardens--and the downward course of the river was hidden from our view for a space by closing hills, only to carry the eye beyond it to the vast plain to the west, through which its windings again became visible, flanked by eight lakes--Waikare, that splendid sheet of water with its three satellites lying to the north, and Wangape, less in size but more picturesque in form, and accompanying scenery, surrounded by a similar number of smaller lakes, spread out to the south, all glittering like burnished mirrors under the noonday sun. Beyond Waikare extended the vast swampy flat of Marama-nue, like a bright green sea, on which the clusters of isolated hills that were dotted over its surface resembled islands. Wangape had a similar but less extensive girdle, and the whole of this splendid basin was encircled by ranges of wooded mountains, which I could trace by continuing glance along the one on which I stood, until it joined the Wakatewai chain, which continuous with that of the Manukau, and the ranges at the head of the Wairoa, stretched westward to Maungatawhiri, which is only divided by the river, from the sea-range, that swept round to the mouth of the pass.
I was not however to be gratified with a similar prospect to the east, for in that direction the immense volumes of smoke that arose from the extensive fires then burning on the plain, completely obscured every object except a transient glance of the river, as it wound along the foot of the western hills from Ngaruawahia, as the point of junction of the Waipa with the Waikato is called, bordered on the sides of the plain by clumps of kahikatea, and I could just see the faint outline of Pirongia through the clouds of smoke, which became less dense as they ascended. I was much disappointed for I was told that on a bright day the summits of Ruapaho, Tongariri, and the other mountains of Taupo might be distinctly seen above the crests of the Rangitoto chain, and a more brilliant day never shone under the face of Heaven.
As we were anxious to push on to the Pukatea, and spend the night there, we resisted Mr. Ashwell's hospitable invitation to remain with him, therefore to expedite us, he kindly furnished us with a light canoe belonging to himself, but there were so many delays on the part of the Native who was to accompany us and to bring the canoe back, that it was late before we could set out. Procrastination is a sad failing, I might say vice, of the Natives, since punctuality is called a virtue, which is most annoying to every one who has any transactions with them, and one for which I do not see a remedy until competition and necessity, two hard masters, teach them the value of time. Although we shot rapidly through the water, indeed with the speed of a racing-gig whenever we could get our men to use their paddles, it was so dark when we reached Motutarata, that we accepted the offer of our friendly Pakeha-Maori to stop there for the night, and as his cottage was not quite so filthy as those of his adopted countrymen, we got a fern-bed spread in a clean corner of the floor, and thought he, his wife, his children, and half-a-dozen relatives slept in the same place, we managed to spend a tolerably comfortable night.
Jan 19.--There was as usual a dense and rather cold fog overhanging the river at day-break, so we breakfasted before our departure, having some fine eggs presented by our host, in addition to our common fare of bacon, which is the most convenient article to carry on excursions of this kind, as it is so easily cooked. We requited his civility to us by almost the last remnants of our bag of tobacco, which originally contained twenty pounds weight, and embarked again. The care of the bag requires some little attention, as tobacco is an article so coveted by the Natives, that they are often inclined to forego their usual honesty, and pilfer from it if they have an opportunity, consequently at night we were obliged to place it under our pillow. Tobacco is the current coin of the country, and it is impossible to get on conveniently without it, though indeed less so now than formerly, since the constant communication the Natives have with Auckland, enables them to procure it more readily.
We soon reached the Pukatea, as the progress in ascending and descending the river are very different, indeed in the winter, when the current sets strongly down it is almost impossible to stem it, unless aided by a strong south-westerly wind. On our way we passed the mouth of the stream which runs from the Waikari lake, about three miles below Motutarata, and that of Wangape, not far from the Pukatea. The fine scenery now commenced, and it only varied from that which I have described is ascending the river, by the diversity of the back-ground. About two miles above the Maungatawhiri Creek, the Marama-nue River, a dark sluggish stream which traverses the plain, joins the Waikato. I have described in our course upwards, that a spur from the lofty Maungatawhiri projects southward, and causes a corresponding change in the direction of the river, the Maungatawhiri creek enters the Waikato at the eastern base of this spur, fed chiefly by streams from the hills, and from a succession of raupo swamps, which are but a continuation of those of Marama-nue. It is a very dark stream, with scarce any current towards its mouth, and not more than twenty yards wide, narrowing in breadth and increasing in rapidity, in ascending to its source. It is not often made use of now as a means of communication, indeed so seldom that the wild ducks on its surface were almost tame, and with the aid of a fowling-piece, we might have made a savory addition to our dinner. There are several varieties of ducks in the swamps and rivers, but the common large black duck is the finest, both for sport and the pot. They are found in greater numbers on the Piako and its neighboring swamps, than in any other part of the island, though they of course abound in every marshy district. They are the only true sporting bird in the country with the exception of a few quails, for they are wary and very strong on the wing, and are moreover capital eating. We ascended its winding course4 for about five or six miles, when it became so narrow that we were obliged to pole the canoe, and near its principal source to make our Natives drag it upward through the weeds and long grass, and we could not reach the usual landing place for want of water. The pa of Maungatawhiri is situated on a hill within musket shot of this spot, shewing by its position, the military eye the Natives possess. On going up to it we found only one old man as guardian of the place, who was nearly quite blind and deaf, but he managed to inform us that the rest of the inmates were gone to catch pokote, a small fish not unlike the sprat, which at certain seasons, particularly in the autumn, abound in the river--these when caught are strung together with flax, and hung up to dry, and when cooked in a hangi, or Native oven, are very palatable.
We descended from the pa into a beautiful grassy plain evidently old cultivation-ground, and traversing it came to a pretty rivulet, where the ascent of Maungatawhiri commences. Passing some open fern-covered hills, strewed over with basaltic boulders, and consequently of a rich soil, we entered the forest, which was filled with the usual varieties of wood, and I certainly never traversed a more rugged and broken country, the route was one continual ascent and descent, over masses of enormous tangled roots, which formed so many stumbling traps, unless the eye was constantly directed so as to avoid them, and an accuracy of balance maintained that almost required the skill of a rope-dancer, in springing from one and lighting on the slippery surface of another root. We at last reached the summit-ridge, and found our descent even more difficult--after continuing it for some time we came to a rivulet, whose north-west course showed that we were on the northern slope of the range, for although at one period of our journey, we must have been several hundred feet above the level of the sea, yet so dense was the forest, and so gigantic the growth of the trees, that we could see nothing but an endless succession of stems, boughs, and foliage. There was an open space on the opposite slope, and as the sun was low and water convenient, we determined on bivouacking there, and soon had our fires lighted and fern beds prepared.
One can sleep quietly in the open air in New Zealand without the fear of having a diamond snake take a share of your bed, or finding one coiled up under your pillow in the morning; or perhaps twisting itself round your neck after the most approved fashion of a cravat. Now such things have happened in the neighbouring colonies, and frightful accidents have occurred from the bites of snakes. We cannot indeed prize too highly the exemption from venomous reptiles which this colony enjoys. There is indeed said to be a spider called kotipo, whose bite is poisonous, but I have never seen one. The only annoyances incident to a bivouack, are the mosquitoes, which can be driven away by fires, and a species of wood-bug very aptly named by the natives koko-tapu that is sacred on not to be touched which often crawl over the face, and on the slightest touch emit a most abominable stench:-- Keeping the tapu is the only means of avoiding this inconvenience. Did venemous reptiles abound, a country like New Zealand, covered everywhere with densely spreading fern, and forests with close thickets of shrubby underwood, would be impassable.
Jan 20.--The morning was beautiful and the song of the birds very pleasing, and we sprung up, refreshed by sound sleep, inhaling the revivifying morning air that seemed to knit a fresh every sinew for renewed exertion. Although a bundled of fern and a couple of blankets may appear but sorry sleeping acommodation, yet I know no more agreeable bed in fine weather.-- If you chance to wake in the night, the eye does not rest on dark and dingy curtains but on the glorious canopy of heaven, spangled with thousands of glittering stars, and instead of breathing the close and stifling atmosphere of a room, you inhale the cool night air, which soon induces a refreshing slumber.
We were quickly in motion, and after three hours of most rugged travelling, reached the crest of a hill from which we had a glimpse of the Manukau. Its slopes were covered with clumps of fine puriri, which if more easy of access would have been a perfect depot of fencing materials. I had scarcely remarked this tree in the other parts of the forest, it would therefore seem to affect spots facing the sea-shore, as its botanical name Vitex litoralis, would imply. We soon reached the deserted pa of Maketu, seated on a projecting rock composed of horizontal masses of a volcanic brescia, commanding the country around, and which before the introduction of fire-arms must have been impregnable. We had a splendid view from it of the plains of the Manukau--the estuary itself, and and country as far as the shores of the Waitemata. The fine slopes at the the base formed of rich friable, volcanic soil had been planted with potatoes but the drought had destroyed the crop, and the few huts near the cultivations had been deserted--we were therefore compelled to seek for the materials of breakfast at a settlement, the smoke of which we saw below us, and which lay in the centre of an extensive and partially wooded flat, about two miles from the foot of the hills. Thither we went, and found that the constant intercourse these people have with Auckland, had rather affected the hospitality travellers generally meet with, for they were very churlish, and would only give us a basket potatoes at an exhorbitant price.
They had a fine horse which they had purchased in Auckland, it was fat and sleek, and as tame as a dog. The Natives are partial to riding and value horses, but do not seem to care about cattle. This place was an instance of what I have before remarked, regarding the determination of the Natives never to part with valuable land having wood and water, for this tract, which was traversed by a rivulet, projected far into, and was bounded on either side by the land purchased some years since by Government, and taking the base of the hills as a boundary, should have been included in that purchase--but the proprietors took good care that in the sale of the rest, this piece of land should be expressly reserved.
A walk of three miles brought us to the main track to Auckland which we had passed over a month before, and retracing our steps we passed Papakura, and reached Otahu, the fine farm of Mr. Fairburn, at six in the evening, and as we were much fatigued by nearly a twelve hours' walk under a burning sun, we accepted that gentleman's hospitable invitation to rest there for the night. He had a good many acres under wheat, and a herd of very fine cattle, which find abundant feed in the plain towards the Papakura Hills.
Jan 21.--We left Otahu after breakfast and reached Auckland at one o'clock. We were amused with the astonishment one of our attendants, who had never been in Auckland, nor had ever seen a house larger than a Missionary cottage, expressed at everything he saw. The broad made road, the houses, the carts and horses, but above all the ships and the steamer. Na to[?] and Ka pai! were continually in his mouth. Now, this lad being faithfully paid, and kindly treated, will return to Tarawera, in the very centre of the island, with very different ideas of the Pakeha from what he probably once entertained, and his account will serve to dispel many of the absurd ideas his inland tribe entertains of us.
Thus terminated a month's excursion into the interior, whose extent and capabilities are as yet little known even to those who have resided for some time in the island. In fact the hills which border the sea-coast are but the walls of an immense central basin of comparatively level land, which is subdivided by ranges of less height into compartments, each having their peculiar features. A view of the coast ranges would lead the observer to suppose that according to the general law which regulates the surface of countries, there would be still loftier hills inland; now, quite to the contrary is the case, the centre of the island is as I have observed, almost a perfect flat--hence, instead of mountain torrents, or at any rate, rivers with a rapid current, there are streams nearly resembling canals. That noble river the Waikato, is, singly, an object worthy of a visit, and a view of Rotomahana alone would amply repay the fatigues of a journey to it, for the greater part of it must be performed on foot. Indeed the whole of the thermal country, as Rotorua and its neighbourhood may be called, is highly interesting and well worthy of notice. The weather was delightful during the whole time, as is indeed generally the case during the summer in New Zealand; and in a walk of more than three hundred miles, in a country proverbial for its swamps, we need not have wet our feet, but from choice in fording rivers.
We generally met with civility from the natives, and must say that their hospitality and good conduct varied in an inverse ratio to our distances from Auckland. Of course we need not cite a people called savages, as models of conduct, for some are good, and others are bad, as with ourselves, but we had every reason to be satisfied with our treatment, and did not lose a single article during the journey.
p. 164, 4. Several rivers of the Bay of Plenty coastal plain used to share outlets to the sea. This is now altered by drainage, but Commander Drury in Revised Sailing Directions for the Northern Parts of New Zealand (Auckland, 1854), p. 46, has: 'The river
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Notes from a Journal
Orini connects the Whakatane and Matata, the stream always running to the former; it flows parallel to the beach about one and a half miles distant. The Awa-o-te-Atua rises near the west foot of Mt. Edgecumbe and... becomes the Matata at its junction with the Orini.' On his chart Awa-o-te-Atua is the Tarawera River, though it rises farther inland than he thought; and it is the Tarawera to which Johnson refers. Drury missed the Rangitaiki River altogether, but the map in Elsdon Best's Tuhoe, vol. ii (New Plymouth, 1925) shows this river entering the Orini about half-way between Whakatane and Matata: while near Te Teko, about seven miles up its course, is Te Kupenga pa. It seems probable that Johnson confused several reports.
p. 182, 1. A considerable omission--description of the very fine forest from which they had just emerged, and the view from Patetere plateau, before descending to the poor soil of the Toa ravines, though the fifteen miles and 100,000 acres between Patetere and Matamata would be fair sheep country. Beyond the Waiomeo (Waiomou) Stream, tributary of the Waihou, they met some Taupo natives going to Hauraki, resting in the sun naked to the waist--very fine looking people, like the pictures in Cook's Voyages, and certainly the wildest and most primitive Johnson had yet seen. Crossed the Waihou on a bridge, though on their way south they had forded it some miles higher up; two miles farther on crossed the Waingawero (Mangawhero); land improving as they approached Matamata.