[Image of page 5]
PREFACE - - - - - 9
INTRODUCTION - - - 13
VOYAGE OUT - - - - - 73
NEW SOUTH WALES - - - - 144
NORFOLK ISLAND - - - - 182
NEW ZEALAND - - - - - 215
1 BEST'S INDEX OF THE VOYAGE - - - 401
2 FROM BUNBURY'S 'REMINISCENCES' - - - 403
3 THE KORORAREKA AFFAIR ... 405
4 SOME TREATY SIGNATURES ... 408
5 AUTHORITY AT PORT NICHOLSON - - - 409
6 THE FRENCH AT AKAROA - - - 410
7 TAUPO-TARANAKI QUARREL - - - 411
8 WHALING STATIONS AT PORT UNDERWOOD - - 412
9 CLASS DISTINCTIONS AT PORT NICHOLSON - - 413
[Image of page 6]
APPENDICES - continued
10 JOSEPH JENNER MERRETT - - - 414
11 FIRST AUCKLAND RACES - - - 416
12 LAND BILLS AND AFFAIRS OF HONOUR - - 417
13 PEACE-MAKING AT ORAKEI - - - 421
14 ROBBERIES AT WHANGAREI ... 422
15 THE DUEL ----- 423
16 FROM EDWARD SHORTLAND'S JOURNAL - - 426
17 MAORI TRANSLATIONS - - - - 428
18 THE HORSE MONOPS - - - - 431
19 FIGHT AT BARRIER ISLAND - - - 431
20 SOVEREIGNTY QUESTIONED - - - 432
21 SELWYN AND BEST - - - - 435
SOURCES USED - - - - - 437
INDEX - - - - - - 440
[LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS]
[Image of page 7]
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
FRONTISPIECE Ocean Bay, Port Underwood, in Cloudy Bay (1848), by Sir William Fox, K.C.M.G., from the original watercolour in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
between pages 322 - 323
1 Facsimile page from Best's journal, MS. Vol. III, p. 122.
2 Waterfall on Waitangi River, Bay of Islands (1837), by Joel Samuel Polack, storekeeper and flax trader at the Bay of Islands and Hokianga; from a watercolour drawing in the Rex Nan Kivell Collection, Australian National Library, Canberra. An engraving of it appears as a vignette on the title page of his Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders... Vol. II (London, 1840); it was also reproduced in the Saturday Magazine, Vol. 15, p. 192 (1839).
3 From the Pa Pipitea, Wellington (December 1840), by Captain William Mein Smith, first surveyor-general to the New Zealand Company; from a pen and ink drawing in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
4 Two Maori girls (c. 1842), by an unknown artist; from a watercolour in an album presented as a souvenir to the widow of Governor Hobson, when she was returning to England in 1843. The 'Hobson Album' was given to the Alexander Turnbull Library during the 1940 centenary.
5 Study of New Zealand Dances (1827) by Augustus Earle; one of two dance studies in watercolour in the Rex Nan Kivell Collection, Australian National Library, Canberra.
6 View of Taupo from Te Rapa with Tauhara Mountain at a distance, where the River Waikato issues from the Lake (1841), by Joseph Jenner Merrett, lithographed as the frontispiece of Ernst Dieffenbach's Travels in New Zealand, Vol. I (London, 1843).
between pages 354 - 355
7 Te Waro [accusing his daughter of murdering the slave girl who had caused her brother's suicide] (1841), by Joseph Jenner Merrett; lithographed as the frontispiece of Dieffenbach's Travels in New Zealand, Vol. II.
8 Government House, Auckland, north-west view (c. 1842), by Dr John Johnson, from a watercolour in 'The Hobson Album'. (This prefabricated wooden house of 16 rooms, a counterpart of that built for Napoleon at St. Helena, was shipped from England and erected in March 1841 on the corner of Hobson and Cook Streets; it was burned in June 1848.)
9 James Hamlin's Mission Station at Orua on Manukau Harbour (c. 1843), from a watercolour by Edward Ashworth, in 'The Hobson Album'.
10 The Pa of Maketu at Otawau in the Waipa [i. e., Otawhao, near Te Awamutu] (c. 1842), from a watercolour in 'The Hobson Album', possibly by Dr John Johnson. This Maketu pa commemorated a victory against the famous pa of that name in the Bay of Plenty.
[Image of page 8]
11 Rev. Mr Maunsell's Cottage at Maraetai, Waikato (1845) by Dr John Johnson, from a watercolour in 'The Hobson Album', presumably inserted after its presentation.
12 The Subordinate Craters of Rangitoto Island, with the Blowholes (c. 1855), from a watercolour by Charles Heaphy, in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
LIST OF MAPS
1 Map of Norfolk Island redrawn from one published in P. P. 1841/412.......197
2 Map of Port Underwood and places visited during Best's expedition in October 1840......249
3 Map of Port Nicholson area, background to Best's stay there in 1840-41.......268
4 Map of west coast and central area travelled by Best with Dieffenbach in 1841 and Hobson in 1842.....301
5 Map of places concerned in Best's Tauranga expeditions of 1842-43.......380
[Image of page 9]
This journal was kept by a young army officer, Abel Dottin William Best, during the years 1837-43, while he served on board a convict ship, in New South Wales, Norfolk Island, and New Zealand. Soon after he went to India where he died in battle, not yet 30 years old, in 1845.
The journal, in three foolscap manuscript volumes, ends suddenly on 8 February 1843. It was shown to the Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Mr C. R. H. Taylor, by a Sydney bookseller, Mr K. R. Stewart, and purchased for the Library from its owner, Mr J. W. Cooper, of Harbond, Sydney, in 1955. Most unfortunately Mr Cooper suffered a loss of memory before inquiries were made about how he came by the journal, so where it was between 1843 and 1955 is not known.
There are also two minor Best documents, both published. One is an article by Best printed in the United Service Magazine of June 1842, describing his journey in April and May 1841 from Auckland to Taupo and back. A copy of this, annotated by Best's father after his son's death, was bought with the journal manuscript, and complicates the question of where the journal has been during those 112 years. The other is an undated, unidentified newspaper article in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, 'based on private letters of a young army officer which are now the property of Miss Helen Catherine Colvin, his great-niece'. The letters date from the voyage out in 1837 to November 1843, but the article does not say how many there were; it refers directly to only a few. Some direct quotations from them expand passages of the journal or give fresh details, and these have been included in the footnotes and introduction. The article, in dealing with Best's death, mentions that his commanding officer, Major Bunbury, wrote in January 1846 to his brother-in-law, Binney James Colvin, of Calcutta.
The journal seems to need a good deal of introduction and explanation, largely because Best very rarely thought explanations necessary. He frequently describes his own day's doings quite fully, then throws in a brief remark on some more public matter, such as a rumour, or a scandal, or something in the newspaper, apparently assuming that it was common knowledge to all concerned. In the New Zealand portion particularly, many undercurrents of events are thus mentioned, so briefly that they would mean little except to those already familiar with the scene. Both background information and explanations of particular points are needed. Thus, for the first four years it seemed necessary to sketch in the general background against which Best moves - the convict system, both on the ship and in the penal settlements; New South Wales in 1838; Norfolk
[Image of page 10]
Island; the colonisation of New Zealand; and events in Port Nicholson in 1840-41. Thereafter the journal is mainly devoted to four excursions - a trip into the interior with the naturalist Dieffenbach in 1841; another with Governor Hobson in 1842; and two expeditions to reprove wrongdoing and preserve peace between Maori tribes in 1842-43. These matters also call for some account of their origin and for support from the accounts of other people concerned in them.
The explanations that run together in something of a narrative form the introduction. Brief notes on particular points go as footnotes, longer ones go into the appendices. I have succumbed to the temptation to quote fairly freely from contemporary records, which seldom, alas, mention Best directly, but, in describing the events that he describes, gives something by which to measure him.
I have tried to render a faithful copy of the journal, without being pedantically or tediously exact. For a number of words Best had his own spellings and used them fairly consistently - thus, 'bussiness', 'percieve', 'scite', 'untill', etc. - and these are retained. The less regular errors are also retained, for they are never large enough to be confusing and they seem part of the journal's character, part of the writer. But occasional missed letters, which seem to occur most often in small words and which might impeded the sense - 'a' for 'at', 'the' for 'they' - are supplied in square brackets; and the very rarely repeated word - 'the the' is silently corrected. Missing words are occasionally supplied in square brackets, but more often indicated thus------. Capitals are printed as they appear in the manuscript though sometimes opinions could well differ on whether a particular letter is a capital or not. Superior letters are printed as such, without the stops or lines that decorate many of them; again, some are doubtful, and Best was not regular in their use - he wrote both 'Mrs' and 'Mrs', 'Capt' and 'Capt'. Where he forgot to close parenthesis and quotation marks, these are left incomplete.
Best's punctuation is inconsistent and scanty. Sometimes, at the obvious end of a sentence, he has a full stop without a capital following. Alternatively, he has the capital without the full stop. In these cases respectively the capital and the stop have been supplied, both for clarity and to obviate distraction to the reader. Again for clarity, an occasional comma or stop has been inserted in some of the long unchecked runs, to help the reader get through without having to back-track in search of the meaning. In general, however, Best's phrases are short and clear, and have so much the sense of speech about them, that if the reader can forget his customary dependence on commas and stops, he will probably get along well enough, and catch the feeling of the narrative all the better for being unhindered. Consequently I have put in very few pauses except where the phrases could overlap and be taken two ways; and then only after considering the context warily. Particularly in the third manuscript volume, Best used
[Image of page 11]
the dash very freely, in the manner of his period, often in place of any other punctuation. I have substituted stops where these seemed necessary. The notes in the margins, obviously written in as afterthoughts, and most frequent just after he came to New Zealand, have been worked into the paragraphs to which they belong, but are labelled Marginal Notes and are enclosed with round brackets.
The illustrations, chosen with the knowledgeable help of Mr A. St C. Murray-Oliver, are all from the Alexander Turnbull Library, and all of New Zealand scenes. It was not possible, without visiting Australia, to find comparable illustrations, that is, contemporary, relevant, and not too well known already, of New South Wales and Norfolk Island. The picture by Joseph Merrett, reproduced from Dieffenbach's Travels in New Zealand, of an incident described in the journal, is the only direct illustration and the only one that may depict Best himself. The others are not mentioned but they are all strictly contemporary and show things Best saw and did. Some Best certainly knew well - Government House at Auckland, Pipitea pa at Wellington, the missionaries' houses, the pa at Otawhao. He made an excursion to Rangitoto Island, though unlike the artist Heaphy, being accompanied by ladies, he did not reach the crater. The Maori doing a haka is such as Best may have watched at Taupo or Orakei; and he admired young women similar to those shown.
After much anxious thought it was decided to call this book The Journal of Ensign Best, 1837-1843, although Best was a lieutenant well before he came to New Zealand early in 1840, and a captain after July 1841. The manuscript had been known in library circles for nearly 10 years as the 'Journal of Ensign Best', a name that sounds well, has military and period flavour, and a youthful tone. It seems to suit the book better than anything else that could be thought of, better, say, than the more correct, less distinctive title, 'The Journal of Captain Best', would have done. It is an arbitrary decision, but one guided by sincere feeling in the editor and in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
There are many people whose help I most gratefully acknowledge. Firstly, this book is in every sense a production of the Alexander Turnbull Library. The Librarians, Mr C. R. H. Taylor and Mr J. R. Cole, and Mr M. Hitchings gave me every possible assistance; the reference staff, in particular Miss E. Hill, Mrs I. Winchester, and Mrs G. Ryan met every question, every repetitious request, with informed interest and unfailing zeal. The accuracy of Mrs P. Purdie in typing a manuscript not always regular or unequivocal has been invaluable.
I am greatly indebted to other libraries that patiently answered inquiries and supplied microfilms and notes: the Mitchell Library, Sydney; the Library of Royal Military College, Sandhurst; the Hocken Library, Dunedin; the Auckland Institute and Museum Library, Auckland, and the Public Library, Auckland. I thank also the staff of National Archives,
[Image of page 12]
Miss P. Cocks and Miss J. Hornabrook and the late Mr Michael Standish, who among other services found several references which I would never have discovered for myself. Dr R. A. Falla of the Dominion Museum gave his renowned assistance in identifying the birds. I am very grateful to Miss V. Scott for drafting the maps, and to the Cartographic Branch of Lands and Survey Department for the final drawings.
Miss T. W. M. Tirikatene, of the Department of Maori Affairs, and her fellow experts in the Maori language, Mrs E. B. Ranapia, Mrs A. Schaffer, and Mr H. Te M. Wikiriwhi, of the Correspondence School, Wellington, devoted much time and trouble to translating the Maori songs and letters, which were extremely difficult. Not only was the spelling often incorrect and the language archaic, but one oration possessed two diametrically opposed meanings, one pleasant and simple, the other sinister - both are given.
I am especially thankful for the advice of Dr J. C. Beaglehole and Mr R. I. M. Burnett, who read the typescript. Without their criticisms, the gaps and bulges in this book would be far more numerous than they are now.
But a book such as this is still only half a book when it reaches the printer. All readers should join with me in thanks to the Government Printer and his staff for the warm, patient, and wise care with which they have set forth the journal of Ensign Best.