[Image of page 1]
GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION OF NEW ZEALAND--DISCOVERY AND SURVEY OF THE ISLANDS BY CAPTAIN COOK--GENERAL ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY--MOUNTAINS AND HILLS--CAVES--HOT SPRINGS--UNSOUND EARTH--LAKES--RIVERS--WATERFALLS--SWAMPS--FORESTS--HARBOURS--EUROPEAN RESIDENTS--ESTABLISHMENTS FOR WHALE AND SEAL FISHERIES.
THE extensive and beautiful islands known by the name of New Zealand, including Stewart's Island, are three in number. They stretch from 34 deg 25' to 47 deg 20' south latitude; being nearly nine hundred miles from the North to the South Cape: and from Dusky Bay, or West Cape, to the longitude of Cape East, or Hicks's Bay, there intervene upwards of eleven degrees of east longitude; the former Cape being in 167 deg, and the latter in 178 deg, east of Greenwich. The North Cape of the northern island is nearly parallel, in latitude, with the heads of Port Jackson, and is always steered for by vessels coming from that colony to the Bay of Islands; which bay presents a fine and extensive harbour on the east coast, about ninety miles from the Cape. The first land generally made, is the "Three Kings," about forty miles distant from Cape Maria Van Dieman, a promontory, separated from Cape North by a deep bay; which, however, does not afford anchorage for vessels.
[Image of page 2]
DISCOVERY, AND FIRST ACCOUNTS OF NEW ZEALAND.
The discovery of the islands of New Zealand has generally been attributed to Tasman, the Dutch navigator, by whom they were first called Staten Land; but, at a subsequent period, they received, from the same commander, the name by which they are now known. Little notice seems to have been taken of these islands by the world at large, till a new discovery--for so it may be called--was made of them by Captain Cook; when they obtained a very prominent place in the publications of that celebrated circumnavigator of the globe.
The survey which Cook made of the coast and its various harbours, and the charts which he published, are among the most correct extant. The line of coast, and its indentations, as delineated in his charts, are, for the most part, minutely given. More recent surveys have been taken; but little improvement has been made in the general outlines. The bays and harbours have been sounded, and the rivers explored; and thus large additions have been made to the mariner's stock of knowledge. All however acknowledge, that the greatest praise is due to the memory of the British Captain, for his investigations; and for the pains which he took in giving a correct delineation and particular description of the result of his labours in this distant part of the world. A French navigator, in the following passage, copied from a publication of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, thus bears
[Image of page 3]
DISCOVERY, AND FIRST ACCOUNTS OF NEW ZEALAND.
testimony to the excellency of all Cook's discoveries. "I compared with care," says M. Crozet, "the chart which I had drawn of the portion which we ran along of the coast of New Zealand, which was taken by Captain Cook and his officers. I found it to possess an exactness and minuteness which astonished me beyond all expression. I doubt whether our own coasts of France have been delineated with more precision."
The descriptions given, by our English voyager, of the manners and customs of the inhabitants of New Zealand, are remarkably correct, considering the shortness of his stay there, and the disadvantages of a first visit among a strange people--of unknown language--barbarous in their habits-- and the greater portion of whom had never before beheld the face of any but their own tribes and people. Many subsequent visitors, possessing superior advantages, though more diffuse in their details, are by no means more correct.
No country in the world, perhaps, can boast of greater natural beauties than the large and magnificent islands of the Southern Hemisphere; among which, New Zealand holds no mean or secondary place. Other regions may possess greater variety of climate, or may produce a greater collection of luscious tropical fruits; but none can exceed New Zealand in the general aspect of the country--for rich and varied scenery --and for every thing which naturally strikes the eye as beautiful or sublime. In the southern
[Image of page 4]
GENERAL OUTLINE AND ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY.
parts of the northern island, the first objects of attention are, the cloud-girt or snow-capped mountains, rising, with gigantic grandeur, above the more humble hills by which they are skirted. Some of these mountains rise more than fourteen thousand feet above the level of the sea; their sides covered with forest timber, and their whole appearance strikingly rich and grand. Such is Mount Edgcombe; and such, though not so high as this, is Hikurangi; which rises out of the valley of Waiapu, and terminates the beautiful view which is presented from the sea, looking up the valley. I saw it with all its variety of lights and shades: I gazed upon it in its loveliest forms: and, when it assumed a darker feature, the black clouds resting half way from its summit downwards, I was astonished at the solemn, silent majesty with which it seemed to bear the burden of its crown. The country is remarkably hilly and broken: the ranges of hills extend from the north to the south of the island; some of them barren, or only covered with fern; others, clothed with most noble forest-trees, of foliage variously and richly tinted. The tops and sides of some of these hills are studded with caves, deep, dark, and frightful. Putahi is one of this character: it is situated on the western border of the Lake of Mawe, about midway between Waimate and Kaikohi. I once ascended to the top of this hill, in a journey to the latter place; and examined its caves, eleven in number, on its top and sides: they are very
[Image of page 5]
GENERAL OUTLINE AND ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY.
romantic in their appearance, nor less curious in their structure. Their openings are overgrown with brush-wood, so luxuriant as to reach from side to side, and to cover the mouths of the caves; which renders the approach to them dangerous. We burnt the brush-wood; and rolled large stones into one of the caves; which bounded from shelf to shelf, till the echo was lost in the distance, or distinguished in the last sound by the splash of a spring of water, into which they had fallen at the bottom, and which discharges itself into the lake at the base of the hill. We saw several dead bodies, deposited by the natives in some of these caves, as a place of security for burial: in others, we perceived the remains of the bodies of murdered victims, carelessly rolled down here, to save the trouble of further interment. The whole of these caverns are of precisely the same description, and terminate in the same opening to the lake. The diameter of the mouth of one which we measured-- and our observation told us that they were nearly all of the same dimensions--was nearly thirty-three feet; and seemed very gradually to narrow, as far as the eye could carry you down its dreary and dark abyss. There are several hills of the same character as Putahi: one, named Poherua, is completely hollow: it has the remarkable appearance of a hill, whose apex has been removed by some violent volcanic eruption. The shell is covered with high fern, and a species of the tree named Kahikatoa (Leptospermum scoparium),
[Image of page 6]
bearing a white blossom and a hard round berry. There can be no doubt that this hill was formerly--as was Pukenui, and several others in the immediate neighbourhood--a volcano; the large eruptions of which have covered the country, for many miles, with cinders or with lava. All the combustible matter seems, however, now to be expended; and there only remain the ravages which it has made, to tell what it has been. There is a large volcano, called the Tongariro, in active operation, midway between the Mahia or Table Cape and the opposite coast. The mountain is very lofty; and is visible, in some parts of Waikato, at an immense distance. That there are, in the bowels of the earth, abundant materials for producing heat, is evident from the numerous hot springs, and springs impregnated with sulphuric acid, which here and there bubble up within a few miles from the base of these hills. A strong fetid smell issues from some of these springs; and the ground is damp and hollow all around them: so unsound, indeed, is it, that a horse refuses to pass over it; and no efforts can force him to set his feet beyond a few yards of the edge where the ground first begins to lose its solidity, or as soon as the smell of the springs is perceptible.
In the neighbourhood of these sulphuric springs is one remarkably cold: the water appears very clear, but of a red colour, as though slightly tinged with alkali-root. When quiescent, it soon precipitates a red earth; with which the natives
[Image of page 7]
paint their bodies, and dye their garments; and which, to them, is very valuable; nearly as valuable as a deep blue earth, called Paraekawahiawa, found in the neighbourhood of the Thames, and farther south. --This earth is probably a protoxyde of manganese.
New Zealand has several large and noble lakes. Those at Rotorua are extensive, from twelve to fifteen miles across; and the springs, by which they are supplied, are always warm: so high, indeed, is their temperature, that, in the depths of winter, the natives who reside near them are in the constant habit of sitting for hours immersed in the water, to keep themselves warm, and to shelter themselves from the inclemency of the weather*. There is a very beautiful lake of pure water, lying about midway between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga, which covers many thousand acres of land: it is nearly eight miles across at the widest, and not less than six in the narrowest part. It forms pretty nearly a circle, and adds a beau-
*Some of the springs on the margin of Rotorua are as high as boiling heat; and most of them of a sufficient temperature to cook any kind of native food. A bituminous and sulphuric matter floats on the surface of these springs; and the water is all more or less tainted with it. There is one spring of a very remarkable quality: it is, to the touch, soft as oil; and, without the use of soap, or any alkali, except what the water itself contains, will cleanse the dirtiest garments, removing every particle of grease, however sullied they may be with it. The lake itself is quite cool; and in the middle of it is a rapid stream.
[Image of page 8]
THE RIVERS, AND THEIR SCENERY
tiful variety to the splendid scenery which bursts upon the view, from the heights of Pukenui or Putahi. In this lake are large quantities of conger-eels; which are much sought after and highly prized by the natives, as a most delicious article of food. I am not aware that it produces fish of any other description. From this lake proceeds the stream called Waitangi; a narrow rapid rivulet, running through several deep valleys, till it empties itself, over a beautiful fall of about twenty feet perpendicular, into the waters of the Bay of Islands.
With respect to the rivers--I mean the freshwater rivers--there are none, north of the Thames, which at all deserve the name. To call them rivulets or brooks, would be a sufficient acknowledgment of their importance; as they are only serviceable for the irrigation of the country, and for supplying the inhabitants with that most necessary article of life, water. No fresh-water stream, that I am acquainted with, where not under the influence of the tide, is navigable, even for a boat or canoe. The Kerikeri is a fine brawling stream; in places, very beautiful, and romantic from its situation: here, cutting its way through an extensive plain; there, rushing through deep and umbrageous valleys; now, passing on with a silent, sluggish motion; and now rushing down steep declivities, or among rocks and stones, or tumbling its limpid waters over precipices ninety or a hundred feet in height, and
[Image of page 9]
THE RIVERS, AND THEIR SCENERY
dashing itself into foam upon the rocks beneath. The Mangakahia, the Punaketere, the Otaua, the Waima, the Waikari, the Kawakawa, and, indeed, all the other streams of this part of the island, partake much of the same character: and are supplied by many little rills, with which New Zealand is so astonishingly intersected. The river Thames, the mouth of which lies about a hundred miles from the head of the Bay of Islands, is a splendid run of water, which, from Aotea, or Barrier Islands, as far as Kopu--a native fortification, just within the narrows--is navigable for vessels of one hundred and thirty tons burden. In approaching the narrow part of the river, there are many mud-banks to be avoided; but which are dry at low water, and may, consequently, be laid down in a chart with the greatest precision. The lowland at the termination of the wide parts or frith of the Thames partakes much, in its scenery, of the character of Tonga and the Friendly Islands; though perfectly distinct in climate and vegetation. The cocoa-nut tree, which abounds in the Friendly Islands, appears, in the distance, much like the mangroves, and the kahikatea, or white fir, of New Zealand; and the extensive flat, which ranges from the banks, or rather the boundary of the Thames, and upon which the kahikatea and the mangrove flourish undisturbed, very forcibly strikes the beholder with its remarkable similarity to distant views of the Friendly Islands. But the scenery is most lovely on the fresh-water banks of this
[Image of page 10]
RIVERS, FLOODS, AND WATERFALLS.
river: the only drawback to its enjoyment, is the difficulty of landing, except at high water, on account of the depth of mud deposited on its banks. It is true, that, for fifty or sixty miles, there is a great sameness in the views, being confined by hills on one side, and an immense flat forest on the other; yet the whole is so peaceful, so well suited for meditation, and fitted to calm the ruffled passions of the soul, that hearts, even the most insensible to the beauties of nature, must feel its influence. The copse-wood and flax, with reeds and rushes of every description, flourish most luxuriantly on the banks of this noble river: ducks, and other water-fowl, sail proudly and undisturbedly on its placid bosom; and are so remarkably tame, as to come fearlessly within reach of the paddles, with which our boats are rowed. Nor does the fragrance exhaled from the flowers and shrubs fail to increase the pleasure derived from an excursion on this stream. Indeed, the whole atmosphere seems impregnated with perfumes; sweets are borne upon the wings of every gale; and every breath inhaled stimulates the system, and strengthens man for the labour which may lie before him. There are other rivers, more to the southward, which attract attention, and deserve our particular notice: such as, the Waikato, on the western coast; and, on the eastern, the Waiapu, which empties itself into the ocean, about two hundred and fifty miles S. E. of the mouth of the Thames: it
[Image of page 11]
RIVERS, FLOODS, AND WATERFALLS.
is, in itself, a poor and insignificant stream, only worthy of notice on account of the mountains and hills which bound the beautiful valley through which it runs. In the winter, it covers an immense bed; which, in the summer, is perfectly dry, and is composed of small round pebbles or gravel, and sand, of the nature and quality of the finest sand on the sea-shore. Floods are very common in this river; as it is supplied by many mountain-torrents; which soon discharge themselves, and, like the tide, suddenly deluge the country, and as suddenly retire. The Hokianga is a valuable river, as far as it is under the influence of the tide; but, higher up, all its tributary streams are of the same character as the Kerikeri, and others, which empty themselves into the Bay of Islands. We must now notice some of the more remarkable or beautiful waterfalls, which abound in this hilly and undulating land. First, for grandeur and beauty, so far as I have hitherto seen, is the Waianiwaniwa, or "waters of the rainbow," as it is poetically denominated by the natives. It is a fine fall of the waters of the Kerikeri, about two miles from the Mission Station, on the banks of that river. Those who have visited it have never failed to be both astonished and delighted, not merely with its grandeur, but with its beauty and loveliness. The water rolls over a rock, whose perpendicular height is about ninety feet; and is received in a circular pool or basin, the margin of which is formed of loose stones, covered with
[Image of page 12]
BEAUTY OF THE WATERFALLS IN NEW ZEALAND.
moss and water-plants: above these are trees and shrubs, of numerous descriptions, in the highest state of verdure; being constantly moistened by the mist which rises, and which is scattered from the water as it rushes down the declivity. About twenty feet from the surface of the basin is a large cave, or indentation in the rock, covered with underwood, growing inside. Formerly, a few people resided in this cave; and, as I was gazing with delight upon the beautiful scenery before me, its romantic appearance was much heightened by my guide passing across the mouth of the cavern, and becoming just visible through the broken and foaming waters, as they fell from above; presenting no bad idea of one of the fabled "Children of the Mist," concealed in their caves, or hovering on the side of their mountains. The stream, from the Waianiwaniwa, passes swiftly through a deep ravine, for nearly the space of a mile; when it joins another stream, and rolls peaceably on for a few hundred yards; but only again to be disturbed by both pouring their united waters over another rock, called Warepoke, about thirty feet high; and then, rushing with great velocity till it reaches the Kerikeri Settlement, it dashes itself down a fall of ten feet, and grumblingly mingles itself with the waters of the southern ocean.
On another stream, about a mile from the Station, is a fall much less powerful and majestic, but of a character equally pleasing with that
[Image of page 13]
BEAUTY OF THE WATERFALLS IN NEW ZEALAND.
of the Waianiwaniwa. In the immediate neighbourhood of Papakauri, the name given to the fall of the Wairoa brook, the scenery is peaceful and enchanting. -- A gentle limpid stream, gliding easily over a height of sixty feet, into a receptacle, the depth of which is so great as to cause only a slight rumbling to be heard from the fall, instead of the mighty rush and thundering sound which characterize other cataracts -- and then, passing peacefully and unostentatiously through a deep glen, and cooled by the shade of the copse-wood, by which, in many places, it is hidden -- forms, as a whole, a scene very soothing to the contemplative mind. It is all nature -- untouched by art, which, indeed, would in vain attempt to improve the sweet solemnity of this little retreat! Here, if God be felt as present, the soul may enjoy an undisturbed contemplation of the wisdom and love of the Most High, in the works of Creation; -- that wisdom and love, heightened by the thoughts of Redemption, dear to every Christian heart, and upon which he more delights to dwell than upon all the collected beauties, riches, and glories of the Universe.
There is, still, another fall, in what may be called the immediate vicinity of the Kerikeri: it is Waimakomako, in the centre of the wood Puketotara. Here the sea-birds build their nests; numbers of which may be seen flitting about, and spreading their broad wings over the stream; or
[Image of page 14]
DANGERS PROM SWAMPS.
flying in and out of the holes of the rocks in which they have secured their young. The other falls, of which there are several within a very short distance, partake much of the same character as those already noticed. A greater current of water rushes down the Haruru, at the mouth of the Waitangi, than either of the others with which I am acquainted; but it has not the height to fall, nor the romantic scenery to recommend it to the particular notice of strangers, which so forcibly call forth the attention to the Waianiwaniwa and Papakauri. On the banks of the Hokianga, near Pakanai, is a cataract of great beauty: it does not fall at once over a perpendicular height; but dashes from rock to rock, in one continued foam; and from the bed of the river, the nearest point from which I observed it, and into which it empties itself, it appeared in white sheets, through the trees with which the hill is covered, and sounding like the rumbling of distant thunder. The interior of the country abounds with swamps; which render travelling particularly unpleasant, and sometimes even dangerous; as many of the swamps are of an unknown depth of mud and water; and a false step from the beaten track, which has often been spread with fern to render it more secure, would prove fatal. Great care is always requisite in passing over these places on horseback; as, when the horse feels the ground giving way beneath his feet, he sometimes plunges, throws himself off the path, and
[Image of page 15]
NATURE OF THE FERN.
endangers himself and his rider by sinking, till he loses the use of his limbs in the mud. These swamps are generally covered with reeds and bulrushes: these afford the material with which the natives build their houses and their stores: the swamps in the immediate neighbourhood of their residences, or their pas (fortified places), are therefore much valued by them. The flax thrives in swampy ground; but not so well, where the swamps are deep, and constantly under water.
One of the most peculiar features in the character of this country is the fern, which everywhere flourishes most luxuriantly, and with which all, except the forest land, is covered*. It grows nine and ten feet high, in good ground; and is so thickly matted together, as to oblige you to cut your way through, both for yourself and your horse: the beaten, but not much frequented paths of the natives, are sometimes so overgrown, as to make it exceedingly irksome and difficult to press your way on; with the chance, moreover, of having the legs of the animal, on which you are mounted, entangled, or of his dropping into an unseen hole, and throwing you some yards over his head, upon the soft and yielding surface of the very fern which was the occasion of your fall. The forests of New Zealand are truly magni-
*Fifty-seven species of this family of plants have been discovered here. Baron Hugel alone collected upwards of fifty, during the short time which he spent in the country.
[Image of page 16]
TRAVELLING THROUGH FORESTS.
ficent, and are totally different in their appearance from those of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land. Most of the timber with which they abound is of a very useful, and, some of it, of a very durable, quality. It is impossible to force your way through the underwood: if you would travel in a forest, you must keep the beaten track: and even here, on account of the roots of trees over which you have to pass, and the danger of being caught by the chin by some strong fibrous creepers, the ratan, or supple-jack, which are suspended from the branches, you find that it is no easy task to make good your way faster than one mile an hour. It is true, that the natives, within the last few years, at the suggestion of the Missionaries, and in order that they may more frequently and conveniently be visited by them, have begun to cut through the woods, and to remove the obstacles by which our course was formerly impeded.
At the tops, and on some of the higher branches of some of the forest-trees, grows a sedgy, succulent plant (Astilia angustifolia) , much valued for the sweetness of the stem upon which the flower grows. The natives will climb the highest trees in search of it; and, when they have gathered it, will sit for a long time, at the bottom of the tree, sucking out its juice, which, to them, especially on a hot day, is peculiarly grateful. These plants give the smaller groves the appearance of an English rookery; and it only wants the Tui, to
[Image of page 17]
imitate the cawing of the rook, to make the deception complete. When, however, you draw near the grove, all the illusion vanishes; and what in the distance had been taken for the nests of large birds, are found to be only parasitical plants, ever green, and preserving their own life and vigour many years after the trunk, upon which they are borne, has lost its vitality, and has become leafless, branchless and dry. Another very peculiar feature in the wood and forest-scenery of New Zealand is the growth of the palm and the fern-tree, the latter of which is a very remarkable plant. It generally grows from twenty to thirty feet in height; has six large leaves, forming a crown, at the top, and, from their immense size, shading the stem of the plant from the rays of the sun. These leaves put out annually; and appear above those of the former year, which begin to die away, and hang down, when the volutes of the new shoot are perfect, and are about bursting forth into leaf. The very light green with which these leaves are tinged, gives a pleasing variety to the whole, and charms the eye with a beautifully softened lustre. These, the most curious of the umbelliferous tribe, choose the coolest retreats; and seem to endeavour, though unavailingly, to hide their majestic heads under the copse-wood by which they are surrounded.
The forest-land is peculiarly rich: indeed, were it not so, it would be utterly impossible that the
[Image of page 18]
RICHNESS OF THE FOREST LAND.
immense vegetation constantly going on should be supported. The whole earth is completely matted with roots; and those of the smaller trees frequently pass over those of the larger, and seem to draw their sustentation from their more sturdy and gigantic neighbours: and such is the rankness of foliage, from the ground to the tops of the highest trees, that the eye can penetrate only a few feet before it, into the deep umbrageous recesses of the woods. The forest ground is never perfectly dry; the rain which falls upon the trees must, for the most part, eventually find its way to the earth, and the rays of the sun cannot penetrate so far as to shine upon the mould and absorb its moisture. This may, in some measure, account for the exceeding thickness and surpassing beauty of the foliage: each drop of rain, each particle of dew, that falls, is received by the trees themselves; and when overloaded, they shake off the encumbrance; which their mother earth receives into her capacious bosom, and returns to her offspring, when they most need the sustenance which she had received, and now readily returns. In spring, and summer, and autumn, and winter, there is no visible change in the appearance of the woods: they are as beautiful in the depth of winter as in the height of summer: leaves no sooner fall to the ground, but others directly assume their station: no branch withers from its trunk, but another and a more vigorous one puts out in its stead: the fairest and most tender shrubs
[Image of page 19]
QUIET AND SECURITY OF THE FORESTS.
shrink not from the southern blast, nor faint beneath the rays of the sun when he rides highest in the heavens.
The forests are so extensive, and so dense, that no sound from without disturbs the traveller in his journey; and silence herself could scarcely be offended at the chirping of the birds, and the rustling of the leaves in the breeze--the only sounds that strike upon her stillness, and interrupt her deep repose. No lurking tiger is here found to spring upon his unsuspecting prey--no roaring lion to strike a sudden terror into the heart of all who hear the thunder of his growl--no savage beast to hide himself during the day, and make his predatory excursions in the darkness of the night. The jungles of India, or the forests of America, cannot yield a more secure retreat for beasts of prey than these vast woods; yet none are found to exist here; and the ample provision of the mountains, the valleys, the hills, the forests, and the plains of New Zealand seem to be reserved by Providence for the use of man, or for animals of the biped nature; all of whom may enjoy themselves, and gratify their appetite upon those kinds of food which are best suited to their character and their taste. A superabundance of the best possible provision is found for the feathered tribes; and man, who is endowed with the faculty of reason, can cultivate and till the earth for himself; and, by the sweat of his brow, can eat his bread, and supply himself
[Image of page 20]
HARBOURS OF NEW ZEALAND.
with all that is requisite, not only for his existence, but for his comfort and his pleasure.
The harbours of New Zealand are next to be described; as they are now generally known, from the vast number of whaling and other vessels which visit all parts of the coast for timber and flax, and for supplies of fresh provisions. --The Bay of Islands, properly so called from the number of islands with which it is studded, and denominated by the natives, Tokirau , or "the Hundred Rocks," is a remarkably fine and capacious harbour; affording shelter for an almost unlimited number of vessels, in all weathers, and at all seasons of the year. The value of this harbour is much enhanced, from the perfect ease and security with which vessels are able to enter it. Its width, from point to point, is eleven miles; thus affording sufficient sea-room for the largest ships to beat in when the wind is contrary: and the coast is so bold, that, without fear of danger, they may approach very near the shore. --The river Hokianga is an excellent retreat for ships; but having a bar at its entrance, it is seldom visited, but by vessels of a very limited tonnage. --The Thames, of which much has been said, is a roadstead; and, like all other roadsteads, is exposed to winds and waves, when a gale blows in from the sea: vessels, however, of one hundred and thirty tons may, with some difficulty, be worked into the narrows; where they would find secure moorings: but in leaving this part of the harbour, without
[Image of page 21]
HARBOURS OF NEW ZEALAND.
a fair wind, the commander would run great hazard of striking his vessel on the sands or in the mud, and perhaps of altogether losing her. -- The Mahia, Hicks's, and Hawkes's Bays, are all of them open, and afford no shelter that can at all be depended upon, except when the wind blows off the land. --Port Nicholson, and Cloudy Bay, have each good anchorage; but none to surpass, or even equal, that of the Bay of Islands. The following more particular account of the harbours may be depended upon; as it was communicated by nautical men, well acquainted with their business, and by whom these harbours have been surveyed, or frequently visited.
"Hokianga, a harbour on the western coast of New Zealand, is situated in latitude 35 deg 32' south, and longitude 173 deg 27' east: variation, 14 deg 46' east. It is twenty-four leagues S. E. from Cape Maria Van Dieman; and may be known by a sand-hill on the N. W. side, and a black head on the south, both moderately high. The land, for five or six miles to the north, is sand--not a black spot to be seen; and terminates with high black mountains. The land to the south is black and rocky. About six or seven leagues to the south there is a very high perpendicular cliff, which overhangs the sea: this, kept open, will clear the whole coast about Hokianga; which is generally flat, but soundings regular, and may be approached by the lead in thirty fathoms water, at a convenient distance from the shore. In running in for the harbour,
[Image of page 22]
NAUTICAL DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE HARBOURS.
come no nearer the heads than three miles, or the high cliff above mentioned will open off the land, until the S. E. cape of the harbour bears E. N. E. or E. by N. 1/4 N.; then steer in E. N. E., or so as to pass the S. E. cape at half a cable's length, gradually hauling in for the east side of the harbour: but be careful to avoid a rock lying two cables' length N. W. from the S. E. cape, with only three fathoms on it at high water. After you pass the S. E. head, continue to haul over toward the east side of the harbour, until one cable's length from the shore: then steer up the river about N. by W. There are three fathoms on the bar, at low water; and the tide flows at the full and change of the moon 9h. 45m., rises from ten to fourteen feet, and runs from five to six knots. The bar should not to be taken with an ebb tide.
"A Pilot, who has been in these parts for several years, has printed and circulated 'Directions for entering the Harbour of Hokianga: ' of which printed document the following is a copy.
"THIS is to give notice to all captains of ships or vessels bound to the River Hokianga in New Zealand, that there is a flag-staff erected on the south head, under the direction of Mr. John Martin, the pilot; with signal-flags, to signalize to any ship or vessel appearing off the bar; and the undermentioned signals are to be attended to. --Mr. Martin will be in attendance, with his boat, also, at the entrance of the heads.
"Fig. 1. Keep to sea: the bar is not fit to take.
"Fig. 2. Take the bar: there is no danger.
[Image of page 23]
NAUTICAL DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE HARBOURS.
"Fig. 3. This flag will denote the ebb-tide, and the bar not fit to take.
"Fig. 4. This flag, when hoisted, will be at the first-quarter flood.
"It is necessary, when these flags are shown, that they should be answered from the ship, if understood, by a pendant or flag, where best seen.
"The flag-staff works on a pivot; and when a vessel is too far to the southward for entering, the flag-staff will droop to the northward; if too far to the northward, will droop to the southward; --and to be particularly guided by the drooping of the flag-staff: for whatever way the flag-staff droops, the ship must keep in that direction, and by no means take the bar until the flagstaff bears E. 3/4 N. per compass.
"Time of high water, full and change, at the bar, half-past nine o'clock A. M.
"The Bay of Islands is the largest bay on the eastern coast, affording good anchorage and security from all winds. It is formed by Point Pocock on its northern, and Cape Brett, a remarkable perforated rock, on its southern side. Its anchorages are various; namely, Tepuna, a roadstead on the northern side of the bay, opposite the Missionary Establishment of that name, and the native village of Rangihoua. Paroa, a deep bay on the south side of the Bay of Islands, is a snug and spacious harbour, affording shelter from all winds; and is the anchorage which the whaling vessels formerly made use of. It has in it seven and eight fathoms of water. The anchorages now
[Image of page 24]
DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE HARBOURS.
most generally used, are, the Bay of Kororareka, and the river Kawakawa. Kororareka is used by vessels wanting a slight refitting, or for procuring refreshments: the Kawakawa, when repairs to any extent are necessary, or the replacing of any of the principal masts; being more secure, and having the stores near them, from which they procure the greater portion of their supplies, with the exception of provisions. Both these anchorage grounds possess sufficient water for ships of the greatest tonnage. The latitude of Kororareka beach is 35 deg 15'45" south; longitude 174 deg 11'45" east of Greenwich. High water, about 7 h. 30 m. full and change of the moon.
"The harbour of Wangaroa, lying twenty-five miles to the N. E., true, of the Bay of Islands, is beautiful, romantic, and capacious; capable of containing the largest fleet, and affording good anchorage in from five to eleven fathoms, completely sheltered from the sea and all winds. No danger need be apprehended in running in; as there are no hidden obstacles, the shores steep, and having sufficient water for any vessel within a few yards; and should the wind not be favourable for entering, you may, with perfect safety, anchor outside the heads, and wait for a slant, or for the sea-breeze. In approaching this harbour from the sea, the entrance, not being more than two-hundred yards across, is not readily distinguished by a stranger: but its position may be known by the northernmost island of the
[Image of page 25]
DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE HARBOURS.
Cavelles, which lies three miles off it. (The Cavelles is a cluster of islands, stretching along the shore, from Wangaroa, to within four leagues of the Bay of Islands. ) The harbour has several small creeks or rivers emptying themselves into it; and fresh water may be procured almost any where on its sides. The latitude of a small bay, about three miles from the entrance, on the eastern side, is 35 deg 2' south; longitude, 173 deg 42' 45" east of Greenwich. High water, at full and change, at 8h. 15m.
"Between the Bay of Islands and about thirty miles south of it are three harbours, into which small vessels may run. They are situated at nearly equal distances, and, approaching them from Cape Brett, they are in the following order; namely, Wangaruru, Wangamumu, and Tutukaka. There is also a small but snug harbour, called Wangari; at which were formerly some extensive native villages, near the islands known to Europeans by the name of the Poor Knights.
"The entrance to the frith of the Thames is rendered dangerous, in a few instances, by small rocks showing themselves a few feet above the surface of the water, and not readily distinguished at night. The Bay of Mahurangi, on the western side of the frith, is deep; has several rivers running into it; is studded with several small islands; and has a fine harbour, named, by the natives of the place, Kaihu. This harbour, which is situated at the head of the bay, is well
[Image of page 26]
HARBOURS OF NEW ZEALAND.
protected from all winds and from the sea; and affords a secure anchorage, and is easy of access. The depth of water is sufficient, to the distance of three miles, for any description of ships: the only caution necessary is, to keep all the projecting points at a distance of about a hundred yards, and to avoid the reefs which extend from them, particularly the rock at its entrance. The southern or largest passage, formed by an island and the main, is the safest and best, having in it ten fathoms' water: the northern, or smallest, passage is full of rocks, the channel narrow, and has only two and a half fathoms depth of water. Fresh water for shipping is not easily to be obtained; as it can only be procured from the river, several miles from the anchorage. The latitude of the anchorage is 36 deg 28' 56" south; longitude, 174 deg 46' 38" east of Greenwich. The tide flows ten feet at springs; and the time of high-water is ten o'clock, full and change. The several rivers emptying themselves into the Bay of Mahurangi are navigable only for canoes and boats. A small harbour, fit for cutters and small craft, is situated on the northern side of the island forming the bay.
"With the exception of the Bay of Islands, none of these ports are generally known, as no charts or descriptions of them have hitherto been published. A few Europeans, expressly trading to some of them, are the only civilized people perfectly acquainted with them. All the ports abound in fish and oysters.
[Image of page 27]
The Harbour of Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty, and a few leagues south of Mercury Bay, is resorted to by small craft, trading for flax. Its entrance is narrow, rocky, and dangerous: vessels are often detained a long time before they can enter it; and, at times, when they have entered, are as long before they can leave the harbour. During the last ten years, all parts of New Zealand, where harbours are found, have been visited by European vessels; and in many places mercantile establishments have been formed, which have realized, on the whole, a tolerable return to the adventurers engaged in them; though, as might be expected, in several instances they have failed. Vast numbers of whaling vessels touch at the various harbours on the eastern coast, for supplies of potatoes and pork and other fresh provision, the produce of the country. In the Bay of Islands there have been at anchor, at one time, as many as twenty-seven vessels, most of them upwards of three hundred tons' burden; all of which have been supplied, by the industry of the inhabitants, with a sufficient stock of fresh provision for a long whaling cruise. The harbours to the south of the Bay of Islands are resorted to by vessels trading for flax: and in Cloudy Bay are several large whaling establishments; as, in calving time, that large sheet of water is visited by immense numbers of the black whale, many of which are killed; and, as they
[Image of page 28]
afford a good quantity of oil, the trade, in a prosperous season, is a lucrative one. There are also several establishments for the seal-fishery on the coast of New Zealand, or on the small islands in the vicinity of the coast. A number of sailors are landed, and left to kill and skin the seals, many thousands of which are destroyed in the course of a few months. The isolated situation of the sealers must render their employment exceedingly unpleasant; with merely a rush-hut to screen them from the inclemency of the weather; frequently many hours of each day in mud and water; dependent upon very precarious supplies of provision; without medicine, and without assistance in case of sickness; exposed to the caprice and cruelty of the natives living on the little islands; and having scarcely any intercourse with Europeans; --these, with many other privations, must make their residence a perfect banishment for the time.
On the western or windward coast there are no safe harbours for shipping: such as exist, are mostly unapproachable, from bars of sand, lying across the mouth, rendering it impossible, or highly dangerous, to enter. This remark holds good with respect to Hokianga; at which place more vessels have been wrecked than at all the other entrances to harbours, either on the windward or the leeward shores. When a vessel has safely entered the heads of Hokianga, a fine river immediately presents itself, and affords most
[Image of page 29]
excellent shelter from every gale that blows. The advantages which this place holds out for procuring timber has induced many, at imminent hazard, to run their vessels in. A few miles up the river is an establishment, first set on foot by Messrs. Raine and Browne, and subsequently carried on by another firm. Here have been built two most excellent vessels; the one a schooner of 120 tons' burden, the other a ship of upwards of 300 tons; both of them beautiful as models, and strongly built. These vessels were however liable, at any time, to seizure; as they were not allowed to carry the British ensign, nor could have a British register; and there was then no acknowledged flag of the nation. A flag has, however, been presented by the British Government (see Plate I. Fig. 5. ), and accepted by the natives; so that now any vessel bearing a register from a Native Chief, countersigned by the British Resident at New Zealand, and hoisting the National Standard, will be allowed to trade to all His Majesty's ports; and will be everywhere acknowledged and protected by the flag of England.
There are many settlers residing on the banks of the Hokianga, and much land has been purchased by them from the Chiefs of that district. The whole of this part of the country is valuable, on account of the water-carriage, and the facilities thereby afforded for floating logs and spars alongside vessels at anchor in the main stream. Much
[Image of page 30]
FRAUDULENT DEALING WITH THE NEW ZEALANDERS.
truly excellent timber flourishes on the Hokianga's tributary streams; and has only to be cut down, and rolled a few yards to the water's edge, when it is ready for exportation, or for building vessels on the banks of the river. Many of the settlers engaged in the timber-trade have been in New Zealand ten or twelve years; and, in addition to their trade with the natives, have found employment as carpenters and house-joiners. Others find a precarious subsistence for themselves and families by acting as ship-agents, and by supplying vessels with fresh provisions, which they have previously purchased from the natives, or have reared or cultivated with their own hands. The immense quantity of flax which has been exported from this country, and which fetched good prices, has brought the inhabitants into a way of barter, with which they were before unacquainted: and as roguery has been practised to a great extent on the part of Europeans, it has latterly been met with a corresponding degree of knavery by the natives: each party seems to have striven to overreach the other. For example, the chief article of barter, next to muskets, has been powder, which is commonly sold in casks. A native of New Zealand always requires to see and examine what he is purchasing: small holes are therefore bored at the top or bottom of the cask, that he may examine its contents: it appears very good; and he goes home perfectly satisfied with his bargain: when,
[Image of page 31]
FRAUDULENT DEALING WITH THE NEW ZEALANDERS.
however, he opens his treasures, to distribute amongst his friends, what is his rage and disappointment, to find that there is only a little powder scattered at the top and bottom of the cask, and that all the rest is mould!--Can Europeans be surprised that the New Zealanders should pay them in their own coin; that they should half fill their flax-baskets with stones, to increase the weight, or their baskets of potatoes with pieces of wood, to increase the bulk?
The flax-trade, on the present system, cannot last long in New Zealand. The natives1 wants are supplied; and their natural idleness will prevail over their desire for luxuries. The fields of flax are inexhaustible; but labourers or machinery are wanted to dress it: could it be properly prepared, it would be an almost incalculable source of riches to those engaged in it. The operation, as performed by the natives, is most tedious. Each blade is dressed singly; and has to pass through several processes, before it is ready for the market. The carelessness with which it is, in many instances, turned out of hand has materially lessened its value, and injured its reputation. Flax and timber are the staple commodities of the country. Cultivation may do much, as the land is in some places fertile; but it is these two articles that have drawn so many Europeans to visit this people, and to settle amongst them. Barter, of every description, is now gradually giving way to the introduction of British coin and
[Image of page 32]
PROGRESS OF TRADE.
dollars. The natives are aware that they can, for money, procure almost any thing they want; and are, consequently, beginning to appreciate its value. They have also another powerful reason for preferring money to blankets, clothing, powder, muskets, axes, or other hardware articles. If they possessed any property, and it were known to any one else, they would be bound in honour to distribute it amongst their friends and adherents, or be liable, on the first cause of offence, to be dispossessed of all. But gold and dollars lie in so small a compass, that they can easily be concealed, or be carried undiscovered about their persons; and can be parted with in as small sums as may suit their convenience or their wants. Counterfeit coin has, however, been palmed upon them for genuine; medals have been passed for dollars; and even gilded farthings have gone current for sovereigns; --so that the New Zealanders are become jealous of the payment which they receive; and unless they have full confidence in the honesty of the person with whom they are dealing, or unless a third person be present, to witness the transaction, and to vouch for the genuineness of the coin, they will not conclude the bargain, or receive in cash any portion of their due.