1807 - Savage, John. Some Account Of New Zealand [Hocken Library facsim., 1966] - General Observations

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  1807 - Savage, John. Some Account Of New Zealand [Hocken Library facsim., 1966] - General Observations
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THE prevailing winds in the latitude of New Zealand being westerly, that island is generally seen when sailing to the eastward, and Cape North is usually the land first observed. I have delineated its appearance, bearing west, as forming a more striking outline in that point of view than any other. The entrance to the Bay of Islands cannot, I imagine, be mistaken. -- Cape Brit forms the opposite side of the entrance to that J. have described, and which I have also delineated, together with a remarkable rock at its extremity. Cape Colville is about thirty miles south-east of Cape Brit, and appears as represented in the plate.

To navigators wishing to visit the Bay of Islands from the eastward, these representations of head-lands may be of use, but

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this, as I before observed, not being the common route, I have been less particular in speaking of the land on the south-eastern shore than that of the north-western side of the bay.

South whalers have hitherto been very successful in procuring spermaceti whales on this coast, which, if frequented by a moderate number of ships, they would, no doubt, generally speaking, obtain a cargo; but of late years this trade has so much increased in these seas, that the whales have taken the alarm; and, in consequence, their customary haunts in many instances are forsaken. It has frequently happened that a particular coast or island has been reported to be frequented by a great number of whales, and no sooner does this information transpire, than ships are instantly fitted out to go hi search of them, both from Europe and America. -- The consequence is, the fish are soon in great measure, either destroyed by the

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harpoon, or driven from their favorite spot by repeated disturbance.

My short residence in "New Zealand would not authorize me to speak of the climate in general, I therefore omitted it altogether in the body of the work; but that it is never intensely cold, may be presumed, from its latitude; the heat of summer is, I imagine, prevented from being oppressive by breezes from the sea during my stay in September and October, the thermometer ranged from fifty to sixty degrees.

That the climate is salubrious cannot be doubted, for neither the appearance or accounts of the natives indicate the prevalence of disease. From this happy state medical practice has hitherto been unknown among them, but I much fear the visits of some European ships have rendered professional assistance necessary to prevent great numbers of them from falling victims to a most distressing malady.

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In our intercourse with the uncivilized natives of any part of the world, our conduct should submit to the government of conscience, but as this monitor is, in many instances, totally disregarded, I think the captain of a ship might be required to ascertain that his sailors were incapable of communicating a disease which would entail misery upon the future population of a healthy and happy country.

I am inclined to believe, in many instances where disagreement takes place between Europeans and savages, the former are the aggressors. The lowest profligate of Europe fancies himself a superior being, and treats the untaught native of a peaceful isle, as an animal almost unworthy his consideration; he communicates the diseases of civil life, and commits acts of treachery and outrage without the least remorse. Acts of this description are handed down to posterity, by tradition, among the natives, and they revenge the injuries done to their ancestors upon all Europeans that

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come within their power. Thus, in many instances, the cruelty and perfidy experienced by Europeans, in various parts of the uncivilized world, should not be wholly attributed to natural propensities, but in part to the gratification of revenge for former injuries.

And is this conduct such as to excite our surprize? Let us, for a moment, consider its application to New Zealand; a race of people hitherto enjoying a constitution of body remarkably sound and healthy. In a few generations, in all probability, how great will be the change--children of diseased parents, they will grow up a puny race; and, in many instances, both miserable and disgusting; in no respect resembling the hardy inhabitants of the island, previously to their unhappy communications with civilized man. They will bear about them the traces of the injuries we have inflicted, and can it appear extraordinary that they should, at some future time, demand vengeance for their suffer-

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ings. I therefore cannot too forcibly recommend, that in all communications with savages our conduct should be such as to leave no unfavourable impression, either of our moral character or personal qualities. A fact came to my knowledge respecting a transaction of bartering one article for another with these people, which demonstrated great want of humanity; but as I have no wish to injure the party, I shall carefully suppress its publication. I believe the heart of the man is not naturally bad, and I hope that reflecting upon the circumstance, will induce him to be more conscientious in future, upon similar occasions.

In many islands of the pacific ocean European fugitives, and others, who have been put on shore for mutinous or improper conduct, have taken up their abode: a man of this description resides in this part of New Zealand: he shuns all communication with Europeans, and on the approach of a ship retires from the coast to the interior. His country, or the motives that induce him to remain here, are un-

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known: he is spoken well of by the natives, and has adopted their manners and customs. The native female who associates with him, and one of his children, I have seen several times, and the difference between this child and those of the unmixed native is very remarkable: the native child looks full in your face with perfect confidence; this half-bred child is all bashfulness, and when you attempt to carress it, clings to its mother with marks of apprehension and distrust. Its complexion is the same as the natives, but it is distinguishable from them by having hair of a light flaxen colour. As to personal appearance it is by no means superior to the native, and there is no reason to suppose that it will excel in qualities of the mind.


From the preceding pages I imagine it will be seen that New Zealand is a country highly interesting: the part of it which I

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have attempted to describe is of greater importance to Europeans than any other, on account of the ocean in its vicinity being very much frequented by spermaceti whales, and the ample supply of refreshment it affords. The harbours are safe and capacious, the country beautiful, the soil favourable to cultivation; and the natives are in all respects a superior race of Indians. These advantages hold out great inducements for colonization, which may hereafter deserve the attention of some European power. The exorbitant price of European labour in new colonies, it is extremely probable would be obviated by the assistance of the natives: their intelligence is such as to render them capable of instruction, and I have no doubt but they would prove as essentially useful to a colony established in their country, as the natives of India prove to our Asiatic dominions.

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