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NARRATIVE OF A RESIDENCE
Having made up my mind to visit the island of New Zealand, and having persuaded my friend Mr. Shand to accompany me, we made an arrangement for the passage with Captain Kent, of the brig Governor Macquarie, and bidding adieu to our friends at Sydney, in a few hours (on October 20th, 1827) we were wafted into the Great Pacific Ocean.
There were several other passengers on board, who were proceeding to New Zealand to form a Wesleyan missionary establishment at E. O. Ke Anga. Amongst these were a Mr. and Mrs. Hobs, who were most enthusiastic in the cause. They had formerly
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belonged to the same mission at Wangha Roar, when a war which took place amongst the natives totally destroyed their establishment; and after enduring great varieties of suffering they escaped, but lost every thing they possessed, except the clothes they had on. We had a very fine wind for nine days, and on the 29th we saw a gurnet, a sure sign we were within a hundred miles of land, for these birds are never seen at a greater distance from it. True to our anticipations, towards the afternoon the water became discoloured, and at midnight we saw the land.
This interesting island, of which we now got sight, was first discovered by that eminent and enterprising Dutch navigator, Tasman, subsequently to the discovery of Van Diemen's Land. His voyage from Batavia in 1642, undertaken by order of the then Governor General of Dutch India, Anthony Van Diemen, was one of the most important and successful ever undertaken, for it was during this voyage that New Holland was discovered, of which Van Diemen's Land was then supposed to form a part, the extensive
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island of New Zealand being supposed to form another portion.
The slight intercourse of the discoverers with the natives had so calamitous a termination, and the exaggerated accounts it was then a kind of fashion to give of savages, stigmatised the New Zealanders with such a character for treachery and cruelty, that their island was not visited again for upwards of a century, when the immortal Cook drew aside the veil of error and obscurity from this unexplored land, and rescued the character of its inhabitants from the ignominy which its original discoverers, the Dutch, had thrown upon them. This immense tract of land was imagined by Tasman to form but one island, and he most unaptly gave it the name of New Zealand, from its great resemblance (as was stated) to his own country.
In 1770 Cook discovered a strait of easy access and safe navigation, cutting the island nearly in half, thus making two islands of what had before been imagined but one. This strait bears his name, and is often tra-
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versed by vessels from New South Wales returning home by way of Cape Horn.
In 1827 His Majesty's ship Warspite passed through this strait in company with the Volage, twenty-eight guns, being the first English line of battle ship which had ever made the attempt. A few years since, Captain Stewart commanding a colonial vessel out of Port Jackson, discovered another strait, which cut off the extreme southern point, making it a separate island that bears his name, and now almost every year our sealers and whalers are making additional and useful discoveries along its coasts.
These islands lie between lat. 34 deg. and 48 deg. S. and long. 166 deg. and 180 deg. E. The opening of the land to which we were now opposite, and which was our destined port, the accurate eye of Cook had observed, but did not attempt the entrance; and it is only about ten years since, when the two store ships, the Dromedary and Coromandel, loaded with spars on the coast, that a small vessel attending on those ships first crossed the bar; but although they took soundings and laid down
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buoys, the commanders of the large vessels were afraid of attempting the entrance, which proved their good sense, for their great draught of water would have rendered the undertaking more hazardous than the risk was worth. Yet during my residence in this country two large vessels crossed the bar, and recrossed it heavily laden, without the slightest accident; one the Harmony, of London, four hundred tons burden, the other the Elizabeth, of Sydney, of nearly equal tonnage; but in proof that it is not always safe, a few months after this, two schooners of extremely light draught were lost, though they were both commanded by men who perfectly well knew the channels through the bar. It was a singular circumstance that both vessels had been built in New Zealand; one the Herald, a small and beautiful craft, built by and belonging to the Church missionaries, the crew of which escaped, but the disastrous circumstances attending the wreck of the other, called the Enterprize, I shall relate in their proper place.
The morning of the 30th was foggy and un-
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favourable, but it suddenly cleared up, and exhibited the entrance of E. O. Ke Anga right before us; and a light breeze came to our aid to carry us in. The entrance to this river is very remarkable, and can never be mistaken by mariners. On the north side, for many miles, are hills of sand, white, bleak, and barren, ending abruptly at the entrance of the river, which is about a quarter of a mile across. Where the south head rises abrupt, craggy, and black, the land all round is covered with verdure; thus at the first glimpse of these heads from the sea, one is white, the other black.
The only difficulty attending the entrance (and indeed the only thing which prevents E. O. Ke Anga from being one of the finest harbours in the world), is the bar. This lies two miles from the mouth of the river, its head enveloped in breakers and foam, bidding defiance and threatening destruction to all large ships which may attempt the passage. However, we fortunately slipped over its sandy sides, undamaged, in three fathom water.
After crossing the bar, no other obstacle lay in our way; and floating gradually into a
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beautiful river, we soon lost sight of the sea, and were sailing up a spacious sheet of water, which became considerably wider after entering it; while majestic hills rose on each side, covered with verdure to their very summits. Looking up the river, we beheld various headlands stretching into the water, and gradually contracting its width, till they became fainter and fainter in the distance, and all was lost in the azure of the horizon. The excitement occasioned by contemplating these beautiful scenes was soon interrupted by the hurried approach of canoes, and the extraordinary noises made by the natives who were in them.
As the arrival of a ship is always a profitable occurrence, great exertions are made to be the first on board. There were several canoes pulling towards us, and from them a number of muskets were fired, a compliment we returned with our swivels; one of the canoes soon came alongside, and an old chief came on board, who rubbed noses with Captain Kent, whom he recognised as an old acquaintance; he then went round and shook
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hands with all the strangers, after which he squatted himself down upon the deck, seeming very much to enjoy the triumph of being the first on board. But others very soon coming up with us, our decks were crowded with them, some boarding us at the gangway, others climbing up the chains and bows, and finding entrances where they could. All were in perfect good humour, and pleasure beamed in all their countenances.
I had heard a great deal respecting the splendid race of men I was going to visit, and the few specimens I had occasionally met with at Sydney so much pleased me, that I was extremely anxious to see a number of them together, to judge whether (as a nation) they were finer in their proportions than the English, or whether it was mere accident that brought some of their tallest and finest proportioned men before me.
I examined these savages, as they crowded round our decks, with the critical eye of an artist; they were generally taller and larger men than ourselves; those of middle height were broad-chested and muscular, and their
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limbs as sinewy as though they had been occupied all their lives in laborious employments. Their colour is lighter than that of the American Indian, their features small and regular, their hair is in a profusion of beautiful curls: whereas that of the Indian is strait and lank. The disposition of the New Zealander appears to be full of fun and gaiety, while the Indian is dull, shy, and suspicious.
I have known Indians in America from the north to the south, -- the miserable idiotic Botecooda of Brazil, the fierce warrior of Canada, and the gentle and civilised Peruvian, yet in their features and complexions they are all much alike. I observed their statures altered with their different latitudes. The Chilians and the Canadians being nearly the same, in figure tall, thin, and active, their climate being nearly the same, although at the two extremes of America; while those living between the equinoxes are short, fat, and lazy. I am persuaded that these South Sea islanders, though so nearly of the same complexion, still are not of the same race;
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laziness being the characteristic of the American Indian from north to south, while the New Zealanders are laborious in the extreme, as their astonishing and minute carvings prove. The moment the Indian tasted intoxicating spirits his valour left him, he became an idiot and a tool in the hands of the white man. Here they have the utmost aversion to every kind of "wine or strong drink," and very often severely take us to task for indulging in such an extraordinary and debasing propensity, or, as they call it, "of making ourselves mad;" but both nations are equally fond of tobacco.
The first thing which struck me forcibly was, that each of these savages was armed with a good musket, and most of them had also a cartouch box buckled round their waists, filled with ball cartridges, and those who had fired their pieces from the canoes, carefully cleaned the pans, covered the locks over with a piece of dry rag, and put them in a secure place in their canoes. Every person who has read Captain Cook's account of the natives of New Zealand, would be astonished
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at the change which has taken place since his time, when the firing a single musket would have terrified a whole village.
As we sailed up the river very slowly, the throng of savages increased to such a degree, that we could scarcely move, and to add to our confusion, they gave us "a dance of welcome," standing on one spot, and stamping so furiously, that I really feared they would have stove in the decks, which our lady passengers were obliged to leave, as when the dance began, each man proceeded to strip himself naked, a custom indispensable among themselves.
We came to an anchor off a native village called Parkuneigh, where two chiefs of consequence came on board, who soon cleared our decks of a considerable number. We paid great attention to these chiefs, admitting them into the cabin, &c, and it had the effect of lessening the noise, and bringing about some kind of order amongst those who still continued on deck. The names of these chiefs were Moortara, and A Kaeigh, and they were the heads of the village opposite to
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which we had anchored. They were well known to our captain, who spoke their language. They were accustomed to the society of Europeans, also to transact business with them; and as they were flax, timber, and hog merchants, they and the captain talked over the state of the markets during the evening. They were clothed in mats, called Ka-ka-hoos. The ladies joined our party at supper, and we spent a very cheerful time with our savage visiters, who both behaved in as polite and respectful a manner as the best educated gentlemen could have done; their pleasing manners so ingratiated them into the good opinion of the ladies, that they all declared, "they would be really very handsome men if their faces were not tattooed."
The next day we received a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Butler, English people, who had taken up their residence here for the purpose of trading, and we returned with them on shore, taking our female passengers with us, and leaving them in charge of Mrs. Butler. I determined to stroll through the village, which is, in fact, a collection of rude
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huts, huddled together without system or regularity. Dock leaves and weeds of every description were growing luxuriantly all round them, and in many places actually overtopping the houses, few being more than four feet high, with a door-way about two feet. Scarcely any of them were inhabited; as at this season of the year the greater part of the population prefer living in the open air, to remaining in their small, smoky, ovens of houses.
I had not rambled far, before I witnessed a scene which forcibly reminded me of the savage country in which I then was; and the great alteration of character and customs a few days' sail will make. The sight to me so appalling was, that of the remains of a human body which had been roasted, and a number of hogs and dogs were snarling and feasting upon it! I was more shocked than surprised, for I had been informed of the character of the New Zealanders long before my arrival amongst them; still the coming suddenly and unexpectedly upon a sight like this completely sickened me of rambling, at
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least for that day, and I hastened back to Mr. Butler's, eager to enquire into the particulars of the horrid catastrophe.
That gentleman informed me, that the night of the arrival of our ship, a chief had set one of his kookies (or slaves) to watch a piece of ground planted with the koomera, or sweet potato, in order to prevent the hogs committing depredations upon it. The poor lad delighted with the appearance of our vessel, was more intent upon observing her come to an anchor, than upon guarding his master's property, and suffered the hogs to ramble into the plantation, where they soon made dreadful havoc. In the midst of this trespass, and neglect of orders, his master arrived! The result was certain; he instantly killed the unfortunate boy with a blow on the head from his stone hatchet. Then ordered a fire to be made, and the body to be dragged to it, where it was roasted and consumed.
It was now time to return on board, and we walked down to the beach for that purpose, but it was quite low water, and the boat was full two hundred feet off. She lay at the
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end of a long, slimy, muddy flat, and while we were debating how we should manage to get to her, the native chiefs took up the females in their arms, as though they were children, and in spite of all their blushes and remonstrances, carried them to the boat, and placed them safely in it; each seeming to enjoy the task. They then returned and gave us a passage, walking as easily with us upon their backs, as if we had been no heavier than so many muskets. We took care not to shock the feelings of the females, by letting them know the tragedy so lately acted in the village, or horrify them by telling them that one of their carriers was the murderer! It would have been difficult to have made them believe that such a noble looking and good-natured fellow had so lately imbrued his hands in the blood of a fellow creature!
We had now been lying here two days, and the curiosity of the people did not diminish, nor were our visiters less numerous. Parties were hourly coming up and down the river to pay their respects to our captain; and the report of there being numerous passengers on
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board, greatly increased their desire to hold intercourse with us. They all appeared anxious to make themselves useful, some chopping wood for our cook, others assisting the steward, in order to get what might be left on the plates, others brought small presents of fish; in fact, all availed themselves of any excuse to get on board; yet notwithstanding the crowd, and the confusion attending their movements, there was scarcely any thieving amongst them. They have seen the detestation that theft is held in by Europeans, and the injury it does to trade, and have, in consequence, nearly left it off. None but the meanest slave will now practise it, and they do so at the risk of their lives; for if caught in the fact, and the charge is proved against them, their heads are cut off!
On November 3d we visited Par Finneigh, a village lying round the base of a large conical hill, about three hundred feet high, with a fortification on the top, which gives it its name, Par signifying in their language, a fortified place. Behind it lies a swamp, which is covered at high water,
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and which adds greatly to its security; for the unsettled and warlike spirit of the natives renders it absolutely necessary that they always should have a place of strength near at hand to retreat to, as they never know how suddenly their enemies may make an attack upon them. To the right of this swamp is a, beautiful valley, in a very high state of cultivation. At the time I stood viewing it from the summit of the hill, I was charmed with the scene of industry and bustle it presented; all the inhabitants of the village having gone forth to plant their potatoes, kumeras, and Indian corn. In the rear, and forming a fine bold background, is an immense chain of high and rugged hills, covered to their summits with thick forests, and forming, as it were, a natural barrier and protection to this smiling and fruitful valley, while from their wooded sides issue innumerable small streams of clear water, which, meeting at the base, form beautiful rivulets, and after meandering through the valley, and serving all the purposes of irrigation, they empty themselves into the E. O. Ke Anga river.
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Standing on the spot from which I have described the above prospect, I felt fully convinced of the frugality and industry of these savages. The regularity of their plantations, and the order with which they carry on their various works, differ greatly from most of their brethren in the South Seas, as here the chiefs and their families set the example of labour; and when that is the case, none can refuse to toil. Round the village of Par Kuneigh, at one glance is to be seen above 200 acres of cultivated land, and that not slightly turned up, but well worked and cleared; and when the badness of their tools is considered, together with their limited knowledge of agriculture, their persevering industry I look upon as truly astonishing.
The New Zealanders have established here a wise custom, which prevents a great deal of waste and confusion, and generally preserves to the planter a good crop, in return for the trouble of sowing; namely, as soon as the ground is finished, and the seed sown, it is tabooed, that is, rendered sacred, by men appointed for that service, and it is death to
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trample over or disturb any part of this consecrated ground. The wisdom and utility of this regulation must be obvious to every one. But however useful this taboo system is to the natives, it is a great inconvenience to a stranger who is rambling over the country; for if he does not use the greatest caution, and procure a guide, he may get himself into a serious dilemma before his rambles be over, which had nearly been the case with our party this day. We were ascending a hill, for the purpose of inspecting a New Zealand fortification on the summit, when a little boy joined our party, either out of curiosity, or in hopes of getting a fish-hook from us,--a thing the natives are continually asking for; but as we had a man with us who spoke the language fluently, we did not much regard the boy's guidance, though to us it speedily became of great importance. We were taking a short cut, to make a quick ascent to the top of the hill, when the little fellow uttered a cry of horror. Our interpreter asked him what he meant, when he pointed his finger forward, and told him to look, for the ground
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was tabooed. We did as he desired us, but beheld nothing particular, till he showed us, in one of the trees, among the branches, a large bunch of something, but we could not make out what it was. This, he told us, was the body of a chief, then undergoing the process of decomposition, previous to interment, which process is witnessed by men appointed for that purpose, who alone are permitted to approach the spot. The ground all round is tabooed, so that, had it not been for the interference of our young guide, we should certainly have been placed in a most distressing situation; and it is a question if our ignorance of their customs would have been considered a sufficient excuse for our offence. The top of this hill was level and square, and was capable of containing several hundred warriors. It was cut into slopes all round, and fortified by stockades in every direction, which rendered it impregnable. The natives assured me its strength had been often tried. The famous warrior Shunghie had attacked it several times, but had always been defeated with great loss. After inspecting this
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A Tabood Store House in New Zealand
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fortification, which excited our admiration, we proceeded through the village at the bottom of the hill. Nearly the whole of the inhabitants were out working in the fields. We entered several of their habitations, and found all their property exposed and unguarded. Even their muskets and powder, which they prize above every thing, were open to our inspection; so little idea of robbery have they amongst themselves. But as there are many hogs and dogs roaming at large through their villages, they are very careful to fence their dwellings round with wicker work, to preserve them from the depredations of these animals; and as the houses are extremely low, they have very much the appearance of bird cages or rabbit hutches. Their storehouses are generally placed upon poles, a few feet from the ground, and tabooed or consecrated. Great taste and ingenuity are displayed in carving and ornamenting these depositories. I made drawings from several of them, which were entirely covered with carving; and some good attempts at groups of figures, as large as life, plainly showed the
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dawning of the art of sculpture amongst them. Many of the attempts of the New Zealanders in that art are quite as good, if not better, than various specimens I have seen of the first efforts of the early Egyptians.
Painting and sculpture are both arts greatly admired by these rude people. Every house of consequence is ornamented and embellished, and their canoes have the most minute and elaborate workmanship bestowed upon them.
Their food is always eaten out of little baskets, rudely woven of green flax; and as they generally leave some for their next meal, they hang these baskets on sticks or props, till they are ready to eat again. Thus a village presents a very singular appearance, as it is stuck full of sticks, with various kinds of baskets hanging from them. This plan, however, is the most rational that could be adopted, as none of their eatables can be left on the ground, or they would become the prey of the hogs and dogs.
In the course of our long ramble we noticed many pretty little huts, some having neat
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gardens all round them, planted with fruits and corn. One house, which we saw, was built by a chief who had made several voyages to Port Jackson, and it was really a very comfortable dwelling. It had a high door, which we could enter without stooping, and in a separate room was constructed a bed, after the pattern of one on ship-board. He had likewise a large sea-chest in his house, the key of which (highly polished) was hung round his neck as an ornament. In the course of our walk we came to a spot on which a group of old people were sitting sunning themselves, and they immediately all rose to welcome us. I remarked one amongst them who seemed, from his silvery locks and feeble limbs, to be very old. I asked him, among other questions, whether he remembered Captain Cook. He said he did not, but well recollected Captain Furneaux, and was one of the party which cut off and massacred his boat's crew; and from other information which I received I believe his assertion to have been correct.
As our missionary passengers had by this
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time fixed upon the spot where they intended to establish their settlement, and it being several miles up the river, we got under weigh to proceed thither. The captain's agreement being to that effect, we proceeded with the first fair wind, about twenty miles up the stream, which was as far as we could with safety take the vessel. The shores on each side this noble river are composed of hills gradually rising behind each other, most of them covered with woods to the water's edge. Not a vestige of a habitation is to be seen, and if it had not been for the occasional sight of a canoe, we might have imagined the country to be totally uninhabited. Opposite a small island, or rather sand-bank, the vessel grounded, and had to remain there till the next tide floated her off. It was a curious and interesting spot, being a native par and depot, and was entirely covered with storehouses for provisions and ammunition. The centre was so contrived that all assailants might be cut off before they could effect a landing; and we were all much gratified by the judgment and forethought displayed in
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this little military work. The next morning we got off, but could not proceed far as the shoals were becoming so numerous as to render the navigation dangerous. But here we beheld, with both surprise and satisfaction, a most unexpected sight; namely, a snug little colony of our own countrymen, comfortably settled and usefully employed in this savage and unexplored country. Some enterprising merchants of Port Jackson have established here a dockyard and a number of sawpits. Several vessels have been laden with timber and spars; one vessel has been built, launched, and sent to sea from this spot; and another of a hundred and fifty tons burthen, was then upon the stocks!
On landing at this establishment at E. O. Racky, or, as the Englishmen have called it, "Deptford," I was greatly delighted with the appearance of order, bustle, and industry it presented. Here were storehouses, dwelling-houses, and various offices for the mechanics; and every department seemed as well filled as it could have been in a civilised country. To me the most interesting cir-
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cumstance was to notice the great delight of the natives, and the pleasure they seemed to take in observing the progress of the various works. All were officious to "lend a hand," and each seemed eager to be employed. This feeling corresponds with my idea of the best method of civilising a savage. Nothing can more completely show the importance of the useful arts than a dockyard. In it are practised nearly all the mechanical trades; and these present to the busy enquiring mind of a New Zealander a practical encyclopaedia of knowledge. When he sees the combined exertions of the smith and carpenter create so huge a fabric as a ship, his mind is filled with wonder and delight; and when he witnesses the moulding of iron at the anvil, it excites his astonishment and emulation.
The people of the dockyard informed me, that although it was constantly crowded with natives, scarcely any thing had ever been stolen, and all the chiefs in the neighbourhood took so great an interest in the work, that any annoyance offered to those employed would immediately be revenged as a personal affront.
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Here we left the brig to unload her cargo; my friend Shand and myself having determined to proceed over-land to the Bay of Islands. An intelligent chief, hearing of our intention, offered to accompany us himself) and lent us two of his kookies to carry our baggage. We accepted the chieftain's offer, and several other natives joined the party to bear us company.
November 7. -- We all embarked in a canoe, in order to reach the head of the river before we began our pedestrian tour; and, after paddling about eight or nine miles further up, where the river became exceedingly narrow, we came to another English settlement. This consisted of a party of men who had come out in the "Rosanna," the vessel employed by the New Zealand Company. When all ideas of settling were totally abandoned by the officers sent out for that purpose, these men chose rather to remain by themselves than to return home; and we found them busily employed in cutting timber, sawing planks, and making oars for the Sydney market. How far they may prove successful
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time only can develope; but as these enterprising men had only their own industry to assist them, it could not be expected that their establishment could bear a comparison with the one at E. O. Racky, which is supported by several of the most wealthy merchants of New South Wales.
As the river became narrower, the habitations of the natives were more numerous. The chief of this district (whose name is Pationi) has a splendid village very near the carpenters' establishment we have just described. He had taken these industrious men under his especial protection, and seemed very proud of having a settlement of that kind in his territories, as it gave him power and consequence among all the neighbouring chiefs, from the trade he carried on by means of their exertions.
Pationi had likewise induced the Wesleyan missionaries to settle upon his land, about a mile below; so that the head of this river assumed quite the appearance of a civilised colony.
Our party now disembarked. We landed
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in a dense forest, which reached to the water's edge; and our guides and slaves began to divide the loads each was to carry on his back. Several joined us from the two English stations on the river, and we then amounted to a very large party; all in high spirits, and anxious to proceed on our journey. When our natives had distributed the luggage, they loaded themselves, which they did with both skill and quickness; for a New Zealander is never at a loss for cords or ropes. Their plan is, to gather a few handfuls of flax, which they soon twist into a very good substitute: with this material they formed slings, with which they dexterously fastened our moveables on their backs, and set off at a good trot, calling out to us to follow them.
We travelled through a wood so thick that the light of heaven could not penetrate the trees that composed it. They were so large, and so close together, that in many places we had some difficulty to squeeze ourselves through them. To add to our perplexities, innumerable streams intersected this forest, which always brought us Europeans to a com-
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plete stand-still. The only bridges which the natives ever think of making are formed by cutting down a tree, and letting it fall across; and over these our bare-legged attendants, loaded as they were, scrambled with all the agility of cats or monkeys; but it was not so with us: for several times they seated one of us on the top of their load, and carried him over. The chief, who accompanied us, made it his particular business to see me safe through every difficulty, and many times he carried me himself over such places as I dared scarcely venture to look down upon.
In the midst of this wood we met the chief of this district, Pationi, who, together with all his family, were employed in planting a small cleared patch of land. He appeared highly delighted at beholding strangers; and all his wives came from their occupations to welcome us. He told us that, a very few miles farther on, we should come to a village belonging to him, where his eldest son was residing, and that we must there pass the night. We thanked him for the invitation, rubbed noses with him (their token of friendship), and parted.
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Soon after parting with Pationi, we fell in with a most beautiful bull, cow, and calf. I was amazed at seeing such fine animals in this country; but my companions soon cleared up the mystery, by informing me that they were gifts from the missionaries, who had orders from home to distribute these useful animals amongst such chiefs as they thought would take care of them: a wise and beneficial measure. These animals were tabooed, consequently they could ramble wherever they found food most to their liking. About dusk we arrived at the village Pationi had described to us. We were most happy to see it, as we were heartily tired, and dripping wet from a recent and heavy shower.
The village was situated on the side of a small picturesque stream, one of the branches of the E. O. Ke Anga, but continued droughts had at this time reduced it to a trifling brook. From its lofty banks, and the large trees lying athwart it, we conjectured that during heavy rains it must be a mighty flood. A long straggling collection of huts composed the village: a great deal of land in its vicinity
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was cleared and planted, which doubtless was the ostensible object of Pationi's people being here. As the village lay upon the opposite shore from that on which we arrived, we sat some time under the shelter of a large tree, to contemplate its appearance, and to give time to arrange our party for passing the stream, and also for my making a sketch. The red glare of the setting sun, just touching the top of every object, beautifully illuminated the landscape; and its rays, bursting through the black woods in the back-ground, gave the woods an appearance of being on fire; while a beautiful rainbow, thrown across the sky, tinged the scene with a fairy-land effect.
As soon as they perceived us from the opposite shore, a loud shout of welcome was raised, and all the inhabitants came out to meet us. They carried us over the stream, conducted us to their huts, and then sat down to gaze at and admire us.
As we were very hungry after our fatiguing walk, we soon unpacked our baggage, and in so doing made an unavoidable display of many valuable and glittering objects, which
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roused the attention of our savage spectators, and caused them, on the unfolding of every fresh object, to make loud and long exclamations of wonder and admiration. As I was then "a stranger in their land," and unaccustomed to their peculiarities, I felt a little alarmed at their shouts; but, on a longer acquaintance with them, I found my fears had been groundless.
Here we saw the son of Pationi, accompanied by thirty or forty young savages, sitting or lying all round us. All were exceedingly handsome, notwithstanding the wildness of their appearance and the ferocity of their looks. Let the reader picture to himself this savage group, handling every thing they saw, each one armed with a musket, loaded with ball, a cartouch-box buckled round his waist, and a stone patoo-patoo, or hatchet, in his hand, while human bones were hung round each neck by way of ornament; let the scene and situation be taken into consideration, and he will acknowledge it was calculated to make the young traveller wish himself safe at home: but, when I suspected, I wronged them; for
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after admiring every thing we had brought with us, (more especially our fowling pieces, which were very beautiful ones,) they begged a little tobacco, then retired to a distance from the hut which had been prepared for our reception, and left us to take our supper uninterrupted; after which they placed all our baggage in the hut, that we might be assured of its safety.
It proved a rainy, miserable night; and we were a large party, crowded into a small smoky hut, with a fire lighted in the middle; as, after our supper, the natives, in order to have as much of our company as possible, crowded in till it was literally crammed. However annoying this might be, still I was recompensed by the novelty and picturesque appearance of the scene. Salvator Rosa could not have conceived a finer study of the horrible. A dozen men, of the largest and most athletic forms, their cakahoos (or mat-dresses) laid aside, and their huge limbs exposed to the red glare of the fire; their faces rendered hideous by being tatooed all over, showing by the fire-light quite a bright blue; their eyes,
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which are remarkable for their fierce expression, all fixed upon us, but with a look of good temper, commingled with intense curiosity. All my fears had by this time subsided, and being master of myself, I had leisure to study and enjoy the scene; we smoked a social pipe with them (for they are all immoderately fond of tobacco), and I then stretched myself down to sleep amidst all their chattering and smoke.
But all my attempts at slumber were fruitless. I underwent a simultaneous attack of vermin of all descriptions; fleas, musketoes, and sand-flies, which, beside their depredations on my person, made such a buzzing noise, that even the chattering of the natives could not drown it, or the smoke from the fire or pipes drive them away.
Next morning, at daybreak, we took leave of our hosts, and proceeded on our journey; we had eight miles more of this thick forest to scramble through, and this part we found considerably worse than that we had traversed yesterday. The roots of trees covered the path in all directions, rendering it necessary
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to watch every step we took, in order to prevent being thrown down; the supplejacks, suspended and twining from tree to tree, making in many places a complete net-work; and while we were toiling with the greatest difficulty through this miserable road, our natives were jogging on as comfortably as possible: use had so completely accustomed them to it, that they sprung over the roots, and dived under the supple jacks and branches, with perfect ease, while we were panting after them in vain. The whole way was mountainous. The climbing up, and then descending, was truly frightful; not a gleam of sky was to be seen, all was a mass of gigantic trees, straight and lofty, their wide spreading branches mingling over head, and producing throughout the forest an endless darkness and unbroken gloom.
After three or four hours of laborious struggling, we emerged from the wood, and found ourselves upon an extensive plain, which, as far as the eye could reach, appeared covered with fern. A small path lay before us, and this was our road, The New Zealanders ai-
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ways travel on foot, one after the other, or in Indian file. Their pathways are not more than a foot wide, which to an European is most painful; but as the natives invariably walk with the feet turned in, or pigeon toed, they feel no inconvenience from the narrowness. When a traveller is once on the path, it is impossible for him to go astray. No other animal, except man, ever traverses this country, and his track cannot be mistaken, since none ever deviate from the beaten footpath, which was in consequence in some places (where the soil was light) worn so deep as to resemble a gutter more than a road. We proceeded for many miles in this unsocial manner; unsocial, for it precludes all conversation. Our natives occasionally gave us a song, or rather dirge, in which they all joined chorus. Having at length attained the summit of a hill, we beheld the Bay of Islands, stretching out in the distance; and at sunset we arrived at the Kiddy-Kiddy river, where there is a Church-missionary settlement.
We had travelled all day through a country in which every object we saw was of a cha-
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racter that reminded us forcibly of the savage community we were with. Occasionally we met groups of naked men, trotting along under immense loads, and screaming their barbarous songs of recognition; sometimes we beheld an uncouthly carved figure, daubed over with red ochre, and fixed in the ground, to give notice that one side of the road was tabooed. An extraordinary contrast was now presented to our view, for we came suddenly in front of a complete little English village. Wreaths of white smoke were rising from the chimneys, of neat weather-boarded houses. The glazed windows reflected the brilliant glow from the rays of the setting sun, while herds of fat cattle were winding down the hills, lowing as they leisurely bent their steps towards the farm-yard. It is impossible for me to describe what I felt on contemplating a scene so similar to those I had left behind me.
According to the custom of this country, we fired our muskets, to warn the inhabitants of the settlement of our approach. We arranged our dresses in the best order we
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could, and proceeded towards the village. As the report of our guns had been heard, groups of nondescripts came running out to meet us. I could scarcely tell to what order of beings they belonged; but on their near approach, I found them to be New Zealand youths, who were settled with the missionaries. They were habited in the most uncouth dresses imaginable. These pious men, certainly, have no taste for the picturesque; they had obscured the finest human forms under a seaman's huge clothing. Boys not more than fifteen wore jackets reaching to their knees, and buttoned up to the throat with great black horn buttons, a coarse checked shirt, the collar of which spread half way over their face, their luxuriant, beautiful hair was cut close off, and each head was crammed into a close Scotch bonnet!
These half converted, or rather half covered youths, after rubbing noses, and chattering with our guides, conducted us to the dwellings of their masters. As I had a letter of introduction from one of their own body, I felt not the slightest doubt of a kind reception; so we
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proceeded with confidence. We were ushered into a house, all cleanliness and comfort, all order, silence, and unsociability. After presenting my letter to a grave-looking personage, it had to undergo a private inspection in an adjoining room, and the result was, an invitation "to stay and take a cup of tea!" All that an abundant farm, and excellent grocer in England could supply, were soon before us. Each person of the mission, as he appeared during our repast, was called aside, and I could hear my own letter read and discussed by them. I could not help thinking (within myself) whether this was a way to receive a countryman at the Antipodes! No smile beamed upon their countenance; there were no enquiries after news; in short, there was no touch of human sympathy, such as we "of the world" feel at receiving an Englishman under our roof in such a savage country as this!
The chubby children who peeped at us from all corners, and the very hearty appearance of their parents, plainly evidenced that theirs was an excellent and thriving trade. We had
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a cold invitation to stay all night; but this the number of our party entirely precluded; so they lent us their boat to convey us to the Bay of Islands, a distance of about twenty-five miles.
As the night proved dark and stormy, and as our boat was crowded with natives, our passage down the Kiddy-Kiddy river became both disagreeable and dangerous. The river being filled with rocks, some under, and others just above the water, we were obliged to keep a good look out. After experiencing many alarms, we arrived safely at Koraradika beach about midnight, where an Englishman of the name of Johnstone gave us a shelter in his hut.
In the morning we beheld two vessels at anchor in the harbour. The "Indian" whaler of London, and the East India Company's ship "Research;" which latter ship had been cruizing in search of the wreck of the vessels under the command of La Perouse, and had completely elucidated the circumstances relating to that event. The Bay of Islands is surrounded by lofty and picturesque hills, and
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is secured from all winds. It is full of lovely coves, and a safe anchorage is to be found, nearly all over it; added to this, a number of navigable rivers are for ever emptying themselves into the Bay, which is spotted with innumerable romantic islands all covered with perpetual verdure.
It is with peculiar interest we look upon the spot where the illustrious Cook cast anchor after his discovery of this Bay. Some unhappy quarrels with the natives occasioned much blood to be shed, on both sides, and for a long time caused this island to be looked upon with horror, and avoided by all Europeans. It was the courage and enterprise of the crews of our South Sea Whalers who exhibited these interesting islanders in their true character, and proved to the world that it was quite as safe to anchor in the Bay of Islands as in the harbour of Port Jackson.
Since the time of Cook, and other circumnavigators of that period, the character of these people has undergone a thorough change. Then it was necessary when a ship anchored, that the boarding nettings should be up, and
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all the arms ready for immediate use. The principal object the chiefs had in view seemed to be to lull the commanders into a fatal security, then to rush upon them, seize their vessel, and murder all the crew! Too often have they succeeded, and as often have they paid most dearly for their treachery and cruelty. In the case of the ship "Boyd," though they attained their object, they were as completely punished for their perfidy. From their ignorance of the nature of powder, and the use of a magazine, they blew up the ship, and vast numbers of the natives were destroyed. Besides this calamity, they brought down upon themselves the vengeance of every vessel that visited these shores for a long period afterwards. As the circumstance may not be generally known, Mr, Berry's letter, relating the particulars of that melancholy, yet interesting event, is here inserted. 1
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Considering Mr. Berry's limited acquaintance with these islanders, and the horror of
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the scene before him, his is a good and an impartial account; but facts which have been
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obtained subsequently have exonerated the natives to a certain extent. By repeated con-
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versations I have held with several chiefs who were engaged in this dreadful affair, and from
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information I procured at Sydney, I have no doubt but that the Captain himself was the most in fault.
He was commissioned by the government of New South Wales to land a native chief named Philip at New Zealand, whom he subjected to a cruel and impolitic punishment. This man, smarting from his stripes, and burning with a desire to revenge his dishonourable treatment, excited all his friends to the commission of that bloody massacre.
The tragic fate of the "Boyd's" crew is now fast sinking into oblivion; and like the islanders of Owhyee after the murder of Cook, they seem to wish to obliterate the re-
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membrance of their disgraceful conduct by a kind and friendly intercourse with our nation. The severe chastisement which they have always received from us after a treacherous action, has proved to them how little they gain by so debasing a line of conduct: and as they are most anxious to possess many of our productions, they seem to have come to a resolution to abandon their former system; which, if they may not be sensible of the injustice of, they see is destructive to their own interests; and now every chief is as solicitous for the safety of a European vessel, as he would have been formerly for its destruction.
They have not only lost a portion of their ferocity, but also much of their native simplicity of character, which, in all parts of the world, is so highly interesting a study for the traveller. Their constant intercourse with whalers, who are generally low, unpolished men, leaves behind it a tinge of vulgarity, of which the native women retain the largest portion. In many instances, they quite spoil their good looks, by half adopting the European costume. Those who are living in the
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retirement of their own villages have a natural ease and elegance of manner, which they soon lose after their introduction to our rough sailors. I have seen a party of very handsome girls, just landing from one of the whalers, their beautiful forms hid under old greasy red or checked shirts, generally put on with the hind parts before. In some cases the sailors, knowing their taste for finery, bring out with them, from London, old tawdrv gowns, and fierce coloured ribands. And thus equipped, they come on shore the most grotesque objects imaginable, each highly delighted with her gaudy habiliments.
Kororadika beach, where we took up our residence, seemed the general place of rendezvous for all Europeans whom chance might bring into this bay. At this time there were two large vessels lying at anchor within a quarter of a mile of the shore, and I was informed there were sometimes as many as twelve or thirteen.
The spot is a most delightful one, being about three quarters of a mile in extent, sheltered by two picturesque promontories, and