A GLANCE AT NEW ZEALAND.
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A GLANCE AT NEW ZEALAND.
IT is a good remark, that New Zealand has been peopled rather before its time. Many things present themselves to the observant visitor which seem to sustain this proposition of the philosopher. In the neighbourhood of Auckland, the capital of the colony, proof of volcanic agency everywhere appears. The whole surface is covered with scoriae; blocks of burned stone ejected by subterranean fires abound; and crateriform hills are seen in every direction. At Wellington, the southern extremity of the northern island, earthquakes of greater or less intensity are almost of daily occurrence. While right through the centre of the same island, from the Bay of Plenty on the N. E. to the boundary of the New Plymouth Province on the S. W., there runs a belt of country in which mighty subterranean forces are still at work--volcanoes belch forth their smoke, and occasionally lurid flames; hot springs, the seethings of hidden caldrons, bubble up in unceasing flow; and solfataras of vast extent and energy effloresce in deadly beauty--all tending to shew either the thinness of the crust separating New Zealand from the incandescent mass below, or the terrific power of the gasses struggling for vent.
Awakened during one of my first nights in Auckland by a tremendous thunderstorm, and remember-
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ing that the island was even yet in a sort of perpetual shiver, that hot water and sulphurous steam were striving for vent with more than Cyclopean might, I found myself rather disposed to give assent to the proposition with which I commenced. And I could not help asking myself if it indicated perfect prudence on my part thus needlessly to commit the safety of my earthly tabernacle to a geological baby like this--a little island far separated from any terra firma--an infant fire-born, still puling and puking in its mother's arms. So general, so direct is the tendency of this mysterious internal heat towards the surface, that I was assured by my landlady in Auckland that the water in her well is sometimes quite warm, and that till she knew that its warmth arose from natural causes, she used to fancy that her servant had put hot water in the bucket in which it was brought in for use.
The region of hot springs is already a favourite resort for the tourist, and as the country is opened up by improved means of communication and increased civilisation amongst the natives, your travellers from Australia will not be able to find health, novelty, and interest combined, so readily attainable in any other direction.
The hills in the immediate neighbourhood of Auckland, consisting entirely of extinct volcanoes, and usually presenting their respective craters in very perfect form, run from about 400 to 600 feet in height. I ascended one or two of them, and counted nearly twenty within an area of a very few miles. They stand singly, dotted over a country otherwise level in
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TERRACING OF THE HILLS.
its character, and give a very peculiar appearance to the landscape. In almost every instance they have been shaped into an elaborate system of terracing by the Maories in bygone times, and have apparently been occupied as war-pahs, and very strongly fortified, at a time when the natives were far more numerous as well as far more savage than they are now. On the levels of the several terraces hollows have been scooped out, which served either for places of shelter or storehouses for the garrison; and all over their surface enormous quantities of small sea shells are seen, either indicating the time when the whole country was below the level of the sea, or shewing a most tremendous consumption of a particular delicacy on the part of the aboriginal possessors of the soil.
These hills are usually covered with fern, or some other coarse vegetation, and they are practically useless except as affording a limited amount of pasture to the sheep or cattle of the adjacent farmers. It struck me that the sides, sheltered from the prevailing winds, would furnish a capital opportunity for the formation of vineyards--the vine not generally thriving very well, even in the northern parts of New Zealand, without a little assistance in the way of sun and site to add to the fostering influences which the natural climate affords.
With the immediate neighbourhood of Auckland I was rather disappointed. The land is generally far from good, being everywhere beset with the eternal scoriae, and greatly overgrown with the all-pervading fern. In some directions the natural growth has been
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superseded by British grasses, particularly rye-grass and white clover, and the result has been so encouraging as to lead to very brilliant expectations for the future. I believe that the singular adaptability of English grasses to the soil and climate of New Zealand will apply to almost the whole extent of both islands; and the results attained are of the most astonishing character. So well does the humid and temperate character of the country suit these vigorous vegetable immigrants, that once sown in any neighbourhood they spread of their own accord with great rapidity, and the quantity of stock which they will feed to the acre contrasts most startlingly with all Australian experiences. I saw a paddock of 16 acres in which 140 sheep were depastured, and I was told that they were kept there all the year round. And more than this, the sheep in question were not the usual little starvling merino, but three-quarter bred Leicesters, and as fat as they could roll. I believe that this is no unusual proportion, and that as the imported grass extends its range over the country, the amount of stock depastured, and of wool and tallow produced for export, will be so considerable as to enable New Zealand to take an important place amongst the countries contributing to the staple manufactures of the mother country.
In gardening and agriculture New Zealand appeared to me very deficient, both in the neighbourhood of Auckland, and wherever else I travelled. The range of prices seems disproportionately high in towns like these, where the disturbing influences of gold
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discoveries are scarcely felt, as compared with yours, where their action is excessive. Many of the necessaries of life are actually dearer in Auckland, Wellington, and Nelson, at the time I write, than they are in Melbourne, and I must confess that I cannot augur very favourably for the general prospects of that country, which, having but a very moderate list of exports to pay for imported luxuries, still enters into competition as to the simple necessaries of life with colonies far richer in this respect than any country in the world. If New Zealand is ever to take a high position, it must be through that process which exhibits general cheapness as one of its principal characteristics. And great as are its advantages, its condition cannot be pronounced healthy while the expense of living seems out of all reasonable proportion with the average income of its inhabitants. "Agriculture does not pay," is the cry here, as with you; and, perhaps, as a natural sequel, the garden is also neglected. But agriculture does pay amongst the industrious, enterprising, and exemplary people of South Australia, with a scale of wages even higher than that of New Zealand, and there the garden is diligently attended to throughout the length and breadth of the land.
As to agriculture here, it seems to me that the Maori is acting a better part towards the colony than the invading white man. The natives bring enormous quantities of produce of various kinds into Auckland, and in sailing down the eastern coast to Wellington I was both astonished and delighted to observe the ex-
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CULTIVATION BY THE MAORIES.
tent of Maori cultivation. For hundreds of miles you see their little irregular patches of paddock running right down to the water's edge, and climbing away to the very tops of the hills. They are not particularly orderly or continuous in their cultivation, but just take a piece of good land as they find it, whatever its size and shape may be, turn it over laboriously by hand-work with the spade and hoe, and grow wheat, potatoes, maize, kumera or sweet potato, pumpkins, melons, and several other things. The effect of this patchy style of cultivation, viewed from the sea, is very peculiar. The crops were just ripening for harvest, and, running down the various slopes and gullies to the very beach, they looked as if the whole land were overflowing with rich golden grain, which was being poured forth in copious streams by every possible outlet--shovelled out literally into the sea. I did not hear that the Maories complained that "agriculture does not pay." On the contrary, the spirit with which they follow it up looks as if, upon the whole, they are reasonably satisfied with the results; and yet, while in Auckland the price of flour was higher than it was in Melbourne, I found the Maori price for wheat along the coast was about 3s. a bushel. Their price for pork was 3d. a lb., for potatoes about 6s. a cwt., for apples 1d. a lb., and so on.
As we ran for shelter into little nooks and bays, we found that at intervals of a few miles a white man or two had usually taken up quarters amongst the Maories, and acted as the principal merchants for the neighbourhood, purchasing the produce of the natives,
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and shipping it to Auckland or "Wellington by such opportunities as offered. These men are not generally of a very eligible class, consisting of runaway sailors, whalers, and occasionally a convict; but they seem to get on amicably with their neighbours, usually marry or cohabit with Maori women, rear families more or less numerous, and are the influential men of their immediate districts.
However, my pet topic of agriculture is running away with me from Auckland before I have quite done with it, and leading me to discourse of the natives, who very richly deserve a chapter to themselves.
A leading feature of the capital of this colony is its intense officialism. I expected to find this the case in visiting New Zealand, because I had formed a very high opinion of the intelligence and other valuable qualifications of the class of colonists who have resorted thither, and also because I thought the peculiar form in which responsible government has been presented to New Zealand rather calculated to develope this kind of thing. But the reality far exceeded anything I anticipated; and if all else connected with the colony were as flattering as its best friends could desire, she would still have to be greatly upon her guard as to the terrible evils consequent upon being over-governed--she would still have to steer a ticklish course to avert hopeless entanglement in labyrinths of red tape.
In my various wanderings and observations upon men and things, I have always been astonished at the
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large proportion of the community whose predilections seemed to point in the direction of public employment. It has often struck me as remarkable that it seemed to require about one-half mankind to govern the other half; and having, unfortunately I suppose, not one drop of the Barnacle and Stiltstalking blood in my veins, never having been permitted to touch red tape in my life, and having no relation on earth, I believe, who ever did touch it, I find myself quite out of my element amongst a race of highly respectable and very official gentlemen, every one of whom seems to have a finger in the public purse. In these regions every other man you meet is official: if not Governor or Colonial Secretary, he is sure to be a Superintendent or Provincial Secretary, a Land Commissioner, a Native Commissioner, Police Magistrate, Collector of Customs, or something of that sort. How such an infinity of officials can diet amicably off such a very limited revenue as that of New Zealand it is beyond my capacity to explain. Perhaps the truth may be that Barnacle, although hungry and exacting enough when funds are ample, is contented with very small doings indeed rather than betake himself to any other line of business. Is not this a valuable hint for you? The general revenue of the entire colony of New Zealand amounts, I believe, to about £120,000, yet throughout the entire colony does Barnacle abound to absolute repletion. You have charged your Government with chronic and systematic extravagance,--a charge which might be urged with still greater persistency and emphasis. Let them look to New Zea-
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TOO MANY PARLIAMENTS.
land, and they will find, amongst a great deal of evil in the unnecessary multiplication of officials, this important fact, that the New Zealanders get a Secretary, Treasurer, or some other leading sort of man, with undoubted capacity and some claims even to statesmanship, for about the same salary that you throw away upon a fifth-rate post-office or custom-house clerk. Verb. sap.
A main reason for the undue multiplication of officials here is to be found in the ridiculous entanglement of Parliaments with which responsible government in New Zealand has been hampered. Besides the general Parliament, consisting of a Legislative Council and House of Assembly sitting in Auckland, we have a local Parliament meeting annually in each of the capitals of the several provinces--Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Taranaki, Christchurch, and Otago. Each province has its Superintendent, not sitting in Parliament, but communicating with it in the most regal manner by "message." Each Superintendent has his Executive Council, consisting of Provincial Secretary, Treasurer, and Law Adviser.
An active antagonism has set in between the general and the local Governments; your local magnate generally being quite sufficiently greedy of power; quite eager enough to elevate himself and his ministry by cribbing a little from the principal Government at Auckland. By a most absurd hallucination this tendency has been greatly developed by a very false step on the part of the general Government, in handing over the control of the lands to the Provincial Councils, which transference of authority
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naturally carries with it very great additional power. This foolish and mischievous step has, I believe, been negatived by the wisdom of the authorities in the mother country; and it is to be hoped that it may be so, for it is the only way apparently practicable out of a very serious difficulty. The ill consequences of the concession were admitted everywhere that I visited, and the increased power of the Provincial Councils was everywhere deprecated. But it is one thing to acknowledge an objectionable tendency, and another to give up acquired power, and but for the action of the Imperial Government I do not see how the very injurious increase of local authority would ever have been checked.
The evils of six different land systems, of six sets of land regulations, in a couple of little islands barely large enough to form one good colony, will be apparent to any one who has ever studied the science of colonisation. The bidding against one another for the mere handful of immigration at present annually thrown upon these shores, by more and more favourable regulations for the acquisition of land, has already, I fear, produced irremediable evils. The land gained with difficulty from the natives is becoming rapidly alienated at very low prices, and in very large blocks, and the colonists would probably only have wakened to the conviction that they have wantonly parted with their heritage, when the great attraction to immigration is gone for ever, and the land lies permanently locked up under the incubus of a hopeless monopoly.
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Somehow or other the aboriginal has always been a special hobby with me. He is invariably ill-used by his invading, civilised brother. Too often that ill-usage amounts to everything criminal and atrocious; and I blush to say that I have long since come to the conclusion that the modern Englishman is in this respect as cruel and unprincipled a scoundrel as the world has ever seen.
Adopting the convenient theory, that the black man naturally perishes before the white, he looks on during the process with a cold-blooded indifference worthy of a Nero. And as the poor black passes away before the insidious attacks of his merciless invader, his destroyer endeavours to ease his conscience by slandering the race which he is rapidly consigning to annihilation. The case of the black is never heard. Crimes are attributed to him of which he was never guilty. Virtues are ignored, which, properly understood, would stand out in bright relief indeed. Misunderstandings are all construed in favour of the party who wields the pen or speaks the tongue of the invader, and the original occupier of the soil quickly vanishes, a ruined, a belied, and, practically a murdered man.
The aboriginal has never full justice done him, even if he survive the contact with the conquering race. This habitual disparagement of the native occurs even with ourselves with reference to our own forefathers. "We hear a great deal of the varied virtues of our invading progenitors; but who ever has a word to say in favour of the original stock?
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It is my opinion that this constituent of our national organisation has been very unnecessarily disparaged or lost sight of, and, while doing all justice to the hardy spirit of our Danish parent, the patient intelligence of the Saxon, and the fire and energy of the Norman, I cannot help thinking we probably still owe something to the mothers who met these enterprising sires: that we are not true to our genealogy in so readily ignoring the probable claims to remembrance of the great aboriginal dam, whose blood also goes to the composition of the highly elaborated mongrel that we are.
It was the excessive beauty of the island children that first brought Christianity amongst us, and as it seems very probable that physical excellence was far from being the only attractive characteristic of the real old original Englishman, I think that we might do him the justice to suppose that, even if our Roman, Dane, Saxon, and Norman had all been kind enough to have remained at home, the pure-bred islander might still have cut a figure in the world not altogether obscure or insignificant.
Holding very strong convictions as to the unmitigated rascality with which the white man almost always meets the aboriginal, I looked forward with no slight interest to an opportunity for personal observation of the New Zealander, perhaps the most interesting aboriginal in the world. And I must say that, if anything were required to confirm the impressions I have alluded to, it would be supplied by the marked contrast in the treatment vouchsafed to the helpless and naturally unoffending black of Australia.
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CRUELTY AND INJUSTICE OF THEIR TREATMENT.
by the settlers and Governments of the various colonies, and that of the far more intelligent and formidable savage with which the modern Englishman has had to deal in an island so nearly adjacent to our coasts. Look fairly on the two pictures, and say whether the terms of contempt and indignation that I have used, as to the deliberate scoundrelism of our race in this respect, are not justly merited.
Almost before you have set foot upon the shores of New Zealand you perceive indications of the fact, that in reality the Government stands in deadly awe of the spirited and athletic Maori. And you observe throughout the whole system how the same tyrant that can be seduced by the helplessness of a race into an utter denial of all claims, and ignoring of all dictates of justice or fair-dealing, can be scared by the defiant attitude of a bolder people, not only into a frank recognition of rights elsewhere withheld, but into a most unwonted deference of demeanour,--frequently into most humiliating concessions. Can anything be more truly despicable than this? Ought not the conduct of a great nation towards its uncivilised subjects to be characterised by a reasonable approach to uniformity? According to all the dictates of national magnanimity, ought not any difference of treatment to be rather in favour of the weaker than the more powerful of those with whom we are thrown in contact? Or ought a country, whose power rests so greatly upon prestige, as does that of Great Britain, to condescend to adopt the Noah Claypole line of business, and rob the children in the streets, while
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flinching from the dangers and responsibilities consequent upon the perpetration of villanies of a bolder type?
As a proof that the British, both Imperial and colonial, entertain no little fear of the Maori, I may mention, that although the whole number now surviving is only estimated at about 60,000, they are paid the compliment of commanding the undivided attention of two entire regiments of soldiers. One of these is usually quartered at Auckland, and the other at Wellington; but they are held in constant readiness to be forwarded into any neighbourhood where the native attitude may become so far threatening as to appear to require a demonstration. Now, as, whenever actual collision has taken place, military matters in New Zealand have been no better managed than they were in the Crimea, the whole of this expense is rendered to a great extent nugatory. The Maori amuses himself with watching the parades or the marchings of the soldiers through the town, and he listens with pleasure equal to our own to the strains of the military bands, but in his heart he utterly despises the soldier. He does not approve of his style of fighting. He says that he is a fool who stands up in a row to be shot at. And he throws it incessantly in our teeth, that almost the only great victory ever gained over them was the capture of a pah, by sneaking into it on a Sunday morning when the Maories had all left it to go to the native church outside, a devout resort to which, on the Sabbath-day, our own good men had taught them should supersede
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CONTEMPTUOUS OPINION OF THE SOLDIER.
all other considerations. The Maori acknowledges that we are superior to him in many things, but as a fighting man he considers himself our equal. He is so far impressed with a conviction of the superior resources of our Government, that he knows England can find soldiers so much more readily than he can find fighting men, that in a man-to-man struggle the Maori must eventually go to the wall; but in a comparison of individual bravery or skill in battle they acknowledge no inferiority, and defer to the white man from other causes than fear. They hold in great respect the fighting capacity of the volunteer and of the jack-tar, as compared with that of the soldier; both the sailor and the armed colonist more nearly adopting their own style of fighting, and not being fools enough to stand in a row to be shot.
Apart from the deference to the Maories implied in the large physical force retained for the purpose of controlling them, every acre of land acquired by the British is bought and paid for, instead of being deliberately stolen, as is the case with you. Each tract is made the subject of a special treaty; the claims, however remote, of each several native are hunted up and provided for, and a regular deed is prepared, signed, and witnessed, as formally as if involving a transaction between one white and another. The prices often given are very high indeed; for the New Zealander is singularly tenacious on the subject of land, and so astute and keen-witted is he, that he readily enough appreciates the peculiar features which constitute attractiveness in the land of which the "pakeha"
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PURCHASES OF LAND.
seeks to get possession. I was informed by the Provincial Secretary of the Auckland Province, that sometimes as high a price as half-a-crown an acre had been paid to the aboriginal possessor--of course for very choice sites.
But in what an invidious light does this fact place the scandalous dishonesty of the mode by which the Australian black has been dispossessed of the land upon which he was born and bred! The New Zealander does not only sell such portions as have been directly dedicated to his use by actual cultivation: he sells all, and the Government, by paying a price for land unapplied to any useful purpose, recognises the claim of the Maori as amounting sufficiently to "possession" to require purchase. The claim of the New Zealander is, however, not only not stronger than that of the Australian black, but it is not so strong. The portion of the soil which he beneficially occupies is insignificant as compared with that which he converts to no use whatever. Over the remainder he does not even avail himself of the right of the hunter; for the very sufficient reason, that he has nothing to hunt. The only indigenous quadruped in New Zealand is a small rat; and, as the Australian native is an active huntsman over every acre of his territory, and the New Zealander applies an enormous proportion of his land to no useful purpose whatever, the claim to compensation upon dispossession of the former over the latter appears plain enough. In simple truth, we pay the Maori large sums for his land because he is an acute and powerful savage; we
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DEFERENCE PAID TO THE MAORI.
swindle the Australian out of his birthright because he is simple and helpless; and if this be not national Noah-Claypoleism, I do not know what is. Pray remove this deep national disgrace from your shoulders if you can, and do not, for the sake of a few thousands a year, be contented to rest under the stigma which at present most unquestionably attaches to you, of behaving towards the people you are consigning to extinction, like tyrants, cheats, and cowards.
In nothing is more strongly shewn the deferential tone adopted towards the Maori, as compared with the superciliousness of our treatment of the Australian black, than in the pains taken to learn his language, and communicate with him upon his own terms. They are a people singularly gifted with a sort of argumentative common sense, and innumerable stories are current respecting them, to show their native sagacity, and the sort of natural logic with which they endeavour to cope with the sophistries of their invaders. As to verbal intercommunication, they hold that we, having come to their country, are bound, if we wish to speak to them, to instruct ourselves in their language; and very few of them know much English, or will use it if they do know it. As a very fine young fellow, smartly dressed, and quite coming up to the average of Spaniards or Portuguese, said to a fellow-passenger of mine at Poverty Bay, when asked if he could speak English: "He could not. It seemed to go into his ear, but he could not get it to come out of his mouth." This, accompanied with appropriate gesture, struck me as a pretty good illus-
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tration of the difficulties of the tyro in a new language. "When that contemptible imposture, the so-called "Protectorate," was still in existence in Port Phillip, the ridiculous attempts at interpretation ventured upon, even by those most bound to prepare themselves, excited universal disgust. Instead of the "Plenty you kill 'im whitefellow picaninni" gibberish to which we were then accustomed, numerous gentlemen here, the entire staff of Native Commissioners, and most of the older settlers, speak the native language with perfect fluency. It has been reduced to a regular written system; books are printed in it; the Bible in Maori is circulated extensively, and a Maori Messenger, half in English, half in the native tongue, is published monthly, and looked for with a good deal of interest throughout the entire colony.
So excessively deferential does the white man become when his savage is sufficiently fierce, intelligent, and self-asserting, that even proper names are translated so as to be convenient to the native tongue, although somewhat puzzling to the countrymen of the original possessors. In the principal church at Auckland a tablet is erected to the memory of Governor Hobson, who died there. As a very suggestive compliment to the Maori, the English inscription upon this slab is translated afterwards into the native tongue, text from the bible and all; and, as consonants are not very redundant in the Maori language, poor Governor William Hobson is converted for their benefit into "Kawana Wiremu Hobioni." Nay, even majesty does not escape, and in inspecting a deed
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conveying to the Government a large tract of land upon the eastern coast, I was much amused to detect our gracious Sovereign herself lurking under the incognita of an alias, as "Wikitoria, le Kuini o Ingerani," being, I presume, Maori for "Victoria, the Queen of England."
In speaking of the deferential tone adopted towards the Maori, I must not be understood, excessive as this deference may be in some respects, to speak of it in anything like terms of censure. I quote it mainly as a contrast to our cavalier treatment of other races--the Australian black in particular--and to shew the meanness to which even a great and generous people will sometimes stoop in taking advantage of the weak, while they almost truckle to the strong.
As, in dealing with the Maori, I find myself upon a fertile subject, I will reserve a sketch of some of his leading peculiarities for my next communication, meantime repeating the fact that he is a fine fellow, and often appears in most favourable contrast with his white brother.
In visiting Auckland it was my intention to have struck through the heart of the northern island, and after inspecting the very interesting districts of the hot springs, to have made my way down one of the principal rivers to Wellington, at the other end of the island. But I found this a more formidable undertaking than I calculated upon. There are few facilities of communication through the interior; the frequent.
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TRAVELLING IN THE INTERIOR.
occurrence of creeks, rivers, and swamps renders progress on horseback impossible; the climate necessitates the carrying a tent, and you have to depend almost entirely upon the co-operation of the Maories to get on at all. As few of them speak our language, and as, on the best-known routes, contact with the whites has developed a good deal of the natural covetousness of the race, it is at once a disagreeable, slow, laborious, and rather expensive undertaking to venture across the country, particularly alone. Except when getting up or down a river in a native canoe, you have to perform almost the entire journey on foot, and to subsist mainly on the omnipresent potato; and to this sort of life you have to reconcile yourself for a month, or perhaps six weeks, the time being dependent upon the zeal and moderation, or indolence and spirit of extortion, of the natives. I attempted to inveigle a very intelligent scientific gentleman, with whom I had the pleasure of sailing from Sydney, into accompanying me on this expedition; but as neither his leisure nor his state of health admitted of his entertaining my proposition, and as no other eligible companion presented himself, I had to arrange other schemes for seeing something more of New Zealand and its inhabitants.
After some delay, I took my passage in a little schooner of 40 tons for Napier, in the district of Ahuriri, on the eastern coast, about 400 miles to the south of Auckland. You will easily imagine that this was not a very pleasant undertaking on a coast so liable to stormy weather as that of New Zealand; but
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I had no alternative. There is very little traffic between the several provinces, and Wellington is often a month without news from its more northern sister. Little as I relished the prospect of coasting this distance in a vessel of such insignificant proportions, whose cabin was little better than a cupboard, the only light and air for which were supplied through a small hatchway, the reality proved much worse than the anticipation. The little cockboat could not sail a bit, and, when it came to anything like beating against an unfavourable wind, her efforts were simply ridiculous. Her lee-way often actually exceeded her progress forward, and once or twice on a lee-shore, and with uncertain weather, we were in real danger. To do our skipper justice, however, he seemed thoroughly to distrust the sailing powers of his man-of-war; and in case of the weather looking threatening, he stood upon no ceremony whatever in putting his ship about and scudding for some one of the numerous ports of shelter with which the eastern coast of New Zealand is amply supplied. But the loss of time was terrible. For twelve mortal days was I condemned to drag out existence within the narrow bounds of this little cockle-shell; and although I bore the infliction as a philosopher should, I was never much better pleased in my life than when I found the little schooner sailing into the harbour of Napier.
Tedious as this trip was, the course close down along the coast, and the constant running for shelter, afforded me many opportunities of observing the habits of the natives and their progress in agricultural pursuits;
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DISTRICT OF AHURIRI.
and the district of Ahuriri was also very interesting for the same reasons, inasmuch as it has only comparatively recently been occupied by Europeans, and the Maories are found there in very large numbers, and retaining much of their original character.
Within eight or ten miles of the township, which is of the most primitive character, and contains only 200 or 300 inhabitants, there are situate the pahs of two rather powerful chiefs, at that time in a state of actual warfare with one another. One of these, Moana-Nui, is the head of a very numerous tribe, and has some of the characteristics of an influential man; at the same time he is a frequent drunkard, a brawling quarrelsome bully, and neither respected nor popular with his people. He had lately given the other, Te Hapuka, notice to quit a large tract of land which had long been occupied by him; and the effort to give effect to this notice had led to several sanguinary collisions, in which men had fallen on both sides, but the principal loss had been on the side of poor Hapuka. This old gentleman seemed to be possessed of many estimable qualities; he had long been waging a hopeless warfare against overwhelming numbers, and had exhibited a dogged courage and patient endurance throughout, which would have adorned a far more celebrated general.
As the white man steps in as general peacemaker and mutual friend, he meets both parties of belligerents upon an amicable footing, however virulent may be their wars; and I was delighted to find that after every battle an English doctor was sent by the
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TE HAPUKA AND MOANA-NUI.
Government to attend the wounded on both sides, treating each alike, and only trying to save life and mitigate suffering, without reference to the tribe or kindred of the patient.
Accompanied by one of the Native Commissioners, I cantered across to both pahs, or rather to all three, as a new war-pah had been erected by Moana-Nui to cover a grove of valuable timber, which constituted a principal portion of the casus belli. A pah is at all times a curious place, but particularly so when a virulent war drives the natives from their cultivation to take refuge in their fortress, crowding it up, and keeping everybody in it quite on the qui vive. Those that I visited covered an area of five or six acres each, over which the huts and store-rooms of the occupants were clustered pretty closely, and the whole interior swarmed with men, women, and children, dogs and pigs. They are fenced in with a double palisading of eight or ten feet high, strongly lashed with the native flax, and supported at intervals of three or four yards with long posts, consisting of stems of trees of a foot in diameter, the tops of which are usually ornamented with some grotesque carving, often of rather indecent character. The palisading is amply supplied with loopholes for musketry; and if the pah be strongly fortified, trenches are sunk round the interior of the palisading, in which the besieged can stand in perfect security, while able to pick off with the utmost ease any one who approaches. It was by these means that Heki inflicted such woeful loss upon the British troops under that old fool Despard; and I heard it said in
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WAR PAH ON THE ALERT.
New Zealand that upon that occasion a hundred soldiers were shot down within the first five minutes of the attack.
I found the occupants of Te Hapuka's pah in great commotion, and expecting an attack every hour, although some negotiation had been entered into, by which he had consented to give up the contest and retire. The raised scaffolding which serves as a lookout swarmed with his warriors, who assured us that they saw hostile natives creeping amongst the fern; they also stated that people had been prowling round the pah all the previous night, and that a party of their men, who had gone up the river for provisions, had been chased home, and had had a narrow escape. The brave old chief was busy strengthening his fortifications, stripped to the shirt, and looking very hot and dirty. Scouts were posted on each side, and everything looked warlike and thoroughly on the alert.
But here a most striking illustration of the condition of the New Zealander presented itself. It was evening, and the sun was gradually sinking, when a bell began to ring, and immediately tools were dropped, work ceased with every one but old Hapuka himself and half-a-dozen of his principal men, and out walked man, woman, and child of the whole tribe with a slow and reverent step to church, in a little building situated outside the pah. It was not Sunday, remember; it was but an ordinary working day; yet such is the influence established over the native by the missionaries and the never-sufficiently-to-be-
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praised Bishop Selwyn, that morning and evening this devout proceeding is repeated with a gravity and apparent sincerity which would sadly shame many of your more pretentious Christians.
We waited outside the church till we heard them groan out the Hundredth Psalm in most inharmonious strains, when their native reader began a chapter of the Bible in the Maori tongue; and we turned our horses' heads towards the hostile pah, on the borders of the disputed forest. Here, too, we found the whole population at prayers. And it struck me that whilst the bishop and the missionaries were able to have infused so much of the religious element into the native as to bring him daily to church in a manner unprecedented amongst their own people, it was singular that they could not convince them of the wickedness of their civil wars, and secure the practical carrying out of the great law to which they defer in theory,--"Thou shalt do no murder." But, in fact, the so-called Christianity of these people is mainly superficial, and deeply tinged with simple superstition. They have always been highly imaginative and fanciful in their mythology, and in a partial substitution of Christianity for the ridiculous idolatries in which they were till lately sunk, they have imported into their new religion much of the absurdities which disfigured their old one. They attend church because they think that the Almighty will be angry with them and punish them if they do not; but when it comes to a distinct restraint of their more savage passions, they cannot make the sacrifice,
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and are contented quietly to lay their religion on the shelf.
As a consequence of the awe felt by the Government of the Maori, these wars are tolerated without any interference on the part of the authorities. This, of course, involves some remarkable anomalies. The Maories are recognised as British subjects, and held to be amenable to the laws, and yet allowed to murder one another in the most horrible manner. Only when their quarrels seem likely to embroil the whites does the Government step in. Energetic remonstrances are indeed made, and the moral influence of the good Bishop, and of a very zealous and efficient staff of Native Commissioners, is brought to bear to bring about an amicable settlement of their differences; but the feuds are not interfered with by anything like physical force, and the Government seems usually greatly inclined to preserve a perfectly neutral position.
The New Zealander adopts the bush style of fighting, hiding amongst the fern and behind trees, and digging rifle-pits around his pahs. They thus often spend whole days over a battle without any very sanguinary results. A more than ordinarily brave or incautious man is occasionally picked off; and if the pah can be "rushed," or its defenders become so weak numerically as not to be able to defend it properly, the slaughter is frightful. With many good qualities, the Maori is an utter savage when his blood is up and actual fighting is going on, and the narratives of his atrocities are innumerable and horrifying in the ex-
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treme. One old chief near Auckland is known to have killed, in times long past, 600 people with his own hand; and as this could never have taken place in fair fighting, it means that scores of prisoners must have been led up to him to be slaughtered one after another, like sheep at the shambles.
Yet, with all this savageness, a most amusing strain of chivalrous feeling runs through their warlike etiquette. They generally give fair notice of their intention to fight a day or two beforehand. And in this very campaign, a great loss having one day been inflicted upon Hapuka, in the death of several of his men, and of one friendly chief of high character and importance, word was sent that Moana-Nui intended to follow up his advantage the next day, when the son of the fallen chief intimated that he intended to devote a day or two to the funeral obsequies of his parent, and would prefer the postponement of the fight, and it was cheerfully postponed accordingly.
The worst form of the Maori savagery--cannibalism --has long been at an end, the last case known having occurred in 1842, in the Bay of Plenty, but the particulars still current amongst the colonists are of a most horrible character. One of the most touching cases I heard of was that of an old chief, Rauparaha, who wished to give a visitor a treat, and made one of his slave-girls dig an oven, collect fire-wood, light the fire, and arrange the large stones, the heat generated in which by the fire causes the cooking of the food, and then bow down her head between her knees to receive the pistol-shot which constituted herself the
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SAFETY OF THE WHITE MAN.
food for which she had provided the means of preparation, with a thorough foreknowledge of her fate.
All this has passed away for ever. The traveller now proceeds through New Zealand as safely as through any country in the world. The natives, so far from being likely to molest him, act rather as a police to protect him from harm. Murder, highway robbery, and kindred crimes are almost unheard of; and "sticking up," which, under the benignant influence of your Government, has been elevated to the dignity of an "institution" in Australia, is a phrase literally unknown amongst the people surrounded by the so-called savages of the adjacent islands.
The great security of the white colonist throughout New Zealand exists in the fact that public opinion amongst the Maories has declared in favour not only of his toleration, but of every inducement being held out to him to come into the country.
You will perhaps laugh at the idea of "public opinion" amongst a race of half-reclaimed cannibals; yet, amongst this very intelligent and observant people, public opinion is most distinctly developed and very perceptibly expressed. The Maori is no particular lover of the white man per se, and he believes that the star of the one race is doomed to set before the rising sun of the other. But he knows that where the white man comes he brings with him the knowledge of many desirable things, and the means of availing himself of that knowledge; and it is for his
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guns and axes, and grain and fruits and clothes, that he invites the white man frankly to his country, and denounces as a barbarous savage the man of his own race who does anything to deter so valuable a visitor from coming amongst them. This public opinion having been very emphatically pronounced, even the most unruly of the race is kept to a great extent in check, and prevented from indulging any latent inclination towards aggression or annoyance. The up-country settler, surrounded by Maories, and quite isolated from his own countrymen, is still safe, and pursues his avocations with an easy mind.
Of course, some little interruptions in amicable relationships will occur, but are all greatly controlled by the predominant influence I have alluded to. In a little port at which I touched on my way down the coast a man resided who got a living by acting as the merchant of the neighbourhood, purchasing native produce, and shipping it to the principal towns. A whaler touching for supplies just before I was there, this man went on board, and, according to the Maories, warned the captain that he was paying too high prices for his provisions. A day or two after the departure of the whaler, the house of this man was beset by a crowd of fifty or sixty excited natives, who threatened him with all sorts of penalties, turned him and his family out of doors, and cleared his house of every particle that it contained; but, having kept him in this state for a day or two, they put everything back again, and announced to him that they intended the warning simply as a demonstration, and that, if he
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dealt fairly with them in the future, he would receive no further annoyance.
The sort of public opinion to which I have alluded is greatly developed by the peculiar penchant of the native for discussion. He is one of the greatest debaters in the world. Nothing can be done without a "korero," or talk; and these koreros are often of the most earnest and protracted character. The Maori likes to have every point of a subject thoroughly examined and discussed, and, having come to a conclusion, he never likes to have that decision interfered with; he looks upon the topic being raked up again as puerile and vacillating, and, having fairly debated any matter, wishes that it should be considered finally settled.
They have admirable powers of debate, being frequently very fluent, and possessing much oratorical force, and generally that great first necessary to oratory, earnestness. I had the satisfaction of witnessing a korero, at which Te Poihipi, a very influential chief from the interior, was welcomed by some of the chiefs upon the coast. The Maori laughs at the habit of our orators of remaining stationary while they are speaking; he requires more scope, and likes ample room for the excitement generated in the process of speech-making: thus he walks rapidly up and down a space of twenty or thirty feet, speaking with the utmost volubility as he advances, and remaining silent, thinking of his next sentence, as he retires. If the spirit be very strong, he perhaps speaks as he moves both ways; but it does not seem to be expected
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of him, and I dare say the pauses enable him to do greater justice to the short sentences blurted rapidly out as he walks, trots, or sometimes dances, up the little lane devoted to his oratorical purposes. At short intervals, during the speech of a native, it is interlarded by the chanting of some little song well known amongst them, and supposed to bear upon the subject under discussion; and a very ridiculous effect is produced by finding a man stop in the middle of an impassioned address to grind off, in a monotonous sing-song, a few verses of some popular ballad. Fancy your Mr. Michie or Mr. O'Shanassy arresting himself in the midst of one of his most stirring orations, and favouring the House with half-a-dozen verses of "Chevy Chase" or "John Gilpin," chanted slowly, and to the air of "Lucy Neal"!
The character of the New Zealander, while still uncontaminated by contact with Europeans, possesses many interesting features. Combined with much natural intelligence, there is a kind of single-minded ingenuousness which is very winning; and innumerable anecdotes are related illustrative of their original fidelity, warmth of attachment, truthfulness, and honesty. In the connections formed between the earlier colonists and the native women, almost invariable testimony is borne to their constancy, earnestness, and self-devotion. I heard of a case of a connection of this kind, after having lasted many years, being found inconvenient, as the spread of European colonisation had a tendency to render cohabitation without marriage a scandal to the neighbourhood. The
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AFFECTIONATE AND CONSTANT DISPOSITION.
settler intimated to the Maori that the time was come when she must leave him. The poor creature did not challenge his right to put her away, but she had become too deeply attached to him to survive the separation. She retired to a deserted hut, and deliberately set to work to starve herself to death. She was found, after several days, without having tasted either food or water; and the settler, finding his measures of divorce amounted to nothing short of a sentence of death, was sufficiently shocked to revoke his decision and restore her to the home she had so long been allowed to occupy. This is no isolated case, but simply an apt illustration of the faithful and attached spirit characteristic of this interesting people.
A gentleman with whom I travelled had hired four natives to carry the luggage of himself and friends round the regions of the hot springs. They were men just casually picked up along the coast. They travelled together for three weeks, and, not understanding each other's language, could hold no communication much more intimate than that of the master and the beast of burden. And yet, even in this short interval, so attached had the poor fellows become, that at parting from him they could not refrain from shedding tears. Strange, that so affectionate a disposition should be found lurking in breasts but yesterday apt to be animated by the passions of an unmitigated cannibalism!
A worthy settler related a circumstance which had lately happened to himself, which will shew the high
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SINGLE-MINDEDNESS OF THE MAORI.
sense of honour often found amongst the Maories in their uncontaminated condition. An old native was calling at his station just previous to last Christmas, and in the course of his visit lamented his having no sugar to entertain his friends at that festive period. The settler told him that he had had dealings with him before, which had been satisfactory, and that he would trust him with a bag of sugar to entertain his friends, and that he might pay him at harvest-time. The old fellow was so overjoyed at this, that when the bag of sugar was brought out he walked round it, studying the beauty of its appearance from different points of view, as Mr. Pecksniff studied Salisbury Cathedral. But in the midst of his exultation his countenance fell; he looked very sorrowful, and, in his own language, said to the settler, "I cannot take your sugar: my tribe is now engaged in a war with Moana-Nui, in which we may any day all be killed, and then my harvests would never be got in, and you would never be paid." It was only when the settler said that if such a catastrophe happened, he would go down with his men and reap the wheat himself, that this very scrupulous and single-minded old gentleman could be induced to shoulder the bag of sugar,. for which he had so ardently longed, and go on his way rejoicing in the idea that he was provided with the means of affording entertainment to his friends.
As the Maori is thrown into contact with the white man, and subjected to that sort of bullock-driver civilisation which British colonisation usually repre-
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sents to the aborigine, he is apt sadly to deteriorate: the freshness of his character goes off; he probably begins to drink to a greater or less extent, and becomes artful, greedy, and deceitful. I scarcely ever saw a drunken Maori, and in some districts I believe they still resist the inroad of this baneful influence; but even the worthy bishop himself is obliged to confess that his protegees are deteriorating in this respect.
They seem to have a pretty full appreciation of the value of property. Some of them keep accounts at the banks, many at the savings bank; many own vessels of some size and pretensions, and they are rapidly becoming rather energetic breeders of horses. They have hitherto shewn no desire for sheep or cattle, but, in the districts in which agriculture is making the most progress, are beginning to get tired of the spade and hoe, and to experiment with the plough.
Physically, the Maori is a fine fellow. Generally well grown, and with his muscular system fully developed, he is capable of great labour, and, if not too hardly pressed, does not shew much disposition to shrink from it. When well dressed and clean, he looks more like a Spaniard or Italian than a savage, and occasionally you see very handsome men indeed. They differ much in appearance, which has led to the belief that they consist of more than one race; they differ in colour, from almost black to so delicate an olive, as to be much fairer than many of our own countrymen; their hair is sometimes quite straight,
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sometimes very curly, and sometimes as thoroughly woolly as that of any negro. Their features equally differ, sometimes presenting the type of the absolutely coarse-bred savage, sometimes exhibiting much greater delicacy, with aquiline nose, and lips no thicker than those of an ordinary Englishman. Some of them, in the words of a recent author, present a physiognomy "startlingly Jewish" in its profile, so as to lead to some rather curious disquisitions as to their primal origin. They have distinct traditions of their arrival in New Zealand about 500 years ago; they came from Hawaii, with a deliberate intention to settle where they are now. They know the names of those who came, of the points at which they first landed, and of the very canoes in which the enterprising immigration was effected. They say that they found the islands already inhabited, but that in process of time the original inhabitants gave way before them; that many of them were killed, and the rest made slaves, or otherwise became amalgamated with themselves.
The older natives are mostly disfigured with the tattoo to the most elaborate extent, so much so that at a little distance the face looks as if covered with a dark blue mask; but on a very near inspection, the workmanship is so perfect, and the general effect so artistic, that one almost becomes reconciled to the process. With such beautiful accuracy are the lines, circles, and angles drawn, that I found myself often guilty of rudeness in the attentive examination to which I felt inclined to subject any individuals with
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whom I happened to be thrown into contact; and I confess that, after having become accustomed to the tattoo, some faces struck me as appearing rather insipid from the want of it.
The profuse tattooing of the face is reserved for the men, the women having only the under lip turned completely blue, with a few streaks down and across the chin. This is, of course, very ugly indeed; but they look upon red lips as a great piece of vulgarity, and a sad drawback in personal appearance. The younger natives of both sexes are beginning to eschew the tattoo altogether, and I have no doubt that in the next generation it will be completely done away with.
Considering the many good and improvable qualities of the Maori, and the force of character he exhibits, the question assumes great importance, of how far he is likely to be amenable to the destructive influences too often the result of contact with a superior race; how far he is likely to be doomed to follow in the melancholy track of those too promptly annihilated by the onward march of the aggressive Anglo-Saxon. I fear that the prospect is not a very hopeful one. There seems a sufficiency of vital energy in the New Zealander to enable him to survive the dangerous contiguity of the superior race; but other causes are tending towards his extermination, and he is himself impressed with the conviction that his race is passing away. It is a constant remark, in his negotiations with the whites for the purchase of land,-- "Why be in such a hurry for the land? If you wait,
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RAPID DECREASE IN NUMBERS.
we shall all be gone, and the land will be at your service for nothing." There is no doubt that their numbers are rapidly diminishing. Districts once numbering thousands of inhabitants now only muster hundreds; and whole tribes, once numerous and powerful, have either been swept away altogether or reduced to comparative insignificance. Their diminution, apart from the numbers slain in their protracted and often ferocious wars, is traceable, amongst other things, to diseases consequent upon their own folly or ignorance of natural laws. In their infatuated love for discussion, they box themselves up in their close, weather-tight huts, talking over land, religion, &c., till late hours at night, by which time they have arrived at such a condition of steamy heat as to be altogether intolerable, and they then relieve themselves by throwing off their clothes and sitting to cool in the night air. Thus are the seeds of consumption sown, and a very large proportion of the natives have a hectic cough. Besides this, very many shew indications of scrofula prevailing amongst them. I have heard this attributed to their frequently injudicious diet, particularly the enormously fat eels that constitute almost the only fish of their fresh waters. The number of children born is very small, as compared with a white population, and quite insufficient to compensate for the great number of deaths amongst them. It would be a sad pity if so fine a race were to pass altogether away; and some very good suggestions have been made to avert the natural consequences of their present ignorance and mismanage-
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PROSPECTS OF NEW ZEALAND.
ment, and to arrest, if possible, the rapid diminution of their numbers, which is at present unquestionably going on.
I have been tempted to linger so long amongst my friends the Maories, that I have not left myself much scope for further description of New Zealand, without risk of protracting my communications to such a length as would be likely to be wearisome.
With respect to this country as a field of British colonisation, the question will naturally present itself, how far and how fast it is likely to progress? My impression is that the colony is progressing in a right direction, but that the process is a slow one, as compared with that of most of the other colonies in these seas. The introduction and increase of stock is going on with some rapidity; and as the native ferns and inferior herbage are superseded by the richer grasses of England, which have evinced such a singular adaptability to the soil and climate, the quantity of stock which the two islands will carry will be very large in proportion to their area, as tested by any Australian experiences. Already the vast plains of the southern island are becoming stocked with the sheep and cattle of the squatters, and most of the available districts of the northern island are being taken up as fast as arrangements can be made with their aboriginal owners.
The squatting system seems kept under very judi-
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SQUATTING AND LAND SYSTEM.
cious control in all the several provinces. I do not approve of their land systems, for many reasons; hut in reference to squatting, they certainly seem to have profited by the mischievous results of Australian mismanagement in that respect, and to have guarded themselves from any probability of a repetition of the evil. Facilities for squatting are afforded in all the provinces quite sufficient to induce men to enter upon that pursuit, and to devote their best energies to its prosecution; but the land is kept absolutely free for colonisation of a more advanced description, and as fast as it is recovered from the natives it is thrown open frankly and plentifully to the colonist. In the southern island (or, as it is usually most absurdly called, the "middle island," on account of a third little island existing still further to the south) there are so few natives that the Maori title has been entirely extinguished, and the whole land is at the disposal of the Government.
I had not an opportunity of visiting Canterbury or Otago, but the reports from those settlements were of a very favourable character, particularly as far as squatting is concerned. And it may afford a puzzle to your Convention agitators, who look upon national prosperity and ultra accessibility of land as convertible terms, to account for the fact that the Canterbury settlement is at present the most prosperous and progressive of all the New Zealand provinces, while the price of land is there two pounds an acre; and amongst all the other settlements there is a sort of race as to which can offer land at the lowest price,
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ACCESSIBILITY OF LAND.
and afford the greatest facilities to the purchaser. Perhaps a glance at New Zealand, and at past experiences at Swan River and elsewhere, might convince any candid inquirer into the land policy of new countries of the fact that it is quite possible to make land too accessible altogether--that if every man becomes a landowner, there are apt to be no workmen--that universal land-owning is quite fatal to any reasonable approach to a beneficial subdivision of labour, without which no progress is made. When a man can get no more grain put in or reaped than he is able to do with his own hands, he is very apt to find out that "agriculture does not pay," and that his landed property, like the elephant of the Eastern merchant, is a very inconvenient possession. With very strong impressions of the expediency of a thoroughly sufficient accessibility of the land, I am still inclined to fancy that the further we get from the original Wakefield theory, the further we go from a good system; and that the future prosperity of the Australian colonies may be greatly compromised by the off-hand substitution of the schemes of mere visionaries, for the practical results attained by many varied and closely-studied systems which have been elaborated within the Australian colonies themselves.
As to the exclusively natural productions of New Zealand, much might be written. Its flax is a very interesting article--used in all possible ways direct from the leaf by the natives, but surrounded with difficulties in rendering it extensively useful by any mechanical process that has as yet been discovered.
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I visited the establishments of Mr. Whytlaw and the Baron de Thierry, who have done the most to develop this great natural resource of New Zealand; and they both speak hopefully of being able through this article to add largely to the exports of New Zealand. The manipulation of the flax is still beset with difficulties, however, and we can only hope that the enterprise, perseverance, and ingenuity of these gentlemen may meet some day with their appropriate reward.
As you pass through the country districts of New Zealand, you are struck with the absence of animal life. As I have already stated, they have only one indigenous quadruped, and that is a rat. Their birds, both land and aquatic, are few as compared with those of Australia--their whole list of different kinds falling far short in number of those contained in a list recently published in The Argus as visiting the Melbourne Botanical Gardens alone. In the open country, you see nothing but the little bunting or lark, which runs along the ground with you. They have not even the almost omnipresent swallow. As you approach the forests and scrubs, indeed, you see and hear more birds--two kinds of parrots, several beautiful pigeons, and a very interesting bird called the "tui," or parson-bird, from its sable complexion, and two singular white feathers below the throat. We are told by residents near the scrubs, that despite the apparent scarcity of birds, the early dawn in the timbered country is signalised by a perfect charivari of musical sounds; and I heard the notes of one or two birds
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which led me to believe that they could sing beautifully if they chose.
Many interesting attempts have been made to introduce birds and other animals into a country so favourable to this kind of experiment as New Zealand, and, I am happy to say, not without success. The English pheasant, in particular, has been permanently established in the neighbourhood of Monganui, in the northern island, and is often caught in nooses by the Maories, and brought down alive for sale to Auckland. I made it my business to hunt out the gentleman who accomplished this feat--a Mr. Brodie, now resident in Auckland, and was much amused at his description of the process. He brought out both pheasants and partridges without difficulty from England, and placed them in an aviary at Monganui, with the intention of allowing them to breed, and turning them loose when they became numerous. He was some time after astonished at receiving from a Maori the dead body of a pheasant, just rescued from a hawk, which had torn off its head. He had never missed any from his aviary; no other pheasants had then been introduced; and yet ever since pheasants have been brought in alive and dead by the natives, and they now abound in that neighbourhood by thousands. With his partridges he was not equally successful; one after another they came to some untimely end, and he lost them all. I hear, however, that they have been successfully introduced into the Canterbury settlement, and that fine coveys are often flushed in the corn-fields around Christchurch.
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New Zealand is haunted by the blow-fly, corresponding with its most disgusting Australian brother. The house-fly appears only recently to have been imported, and is even now but slowly making its way to the interior. The mosquito and the sand-fly are apt to be very troublesome. The ant is little known. "While dealing with insects, I cannot help alluding to that most wonderful thing the vegetable caterpillar, which is found in profusion throughout the island. This creature, about the size of a little finger, feeds upon the leaves of the rata, a gigantic parasite, itself of very interesting characteristics. At a particular stage of its growth, the caterpillar drops from the tree, burrows a few inches in the earth, when--mirabile dictu--it seems suddenly to change its nature, and become a vegetable, for from the nape of its neck up sprouts a shoot of six or eight inches long, rising above the surface something in appearance like the tail of a rat. There is no doubt of this, for I have several of them in my possession. The body of the insect, still quite perfect, assumes, shoot and all, a sort of ligneous character, and seems, if kept dry, to be reasonably indestructible.
The indigenous vegetable productions of New Zealand are varied and interesting. Her timber trees are specially deserving of attention. Amongst them the noble "kauri" towers, pre-eminent in size as in usefulness. Large forests of this splendid tree still grow a few miles to the north and west of Auckland, and are actively culled both for ship spars and for general purposes. It sheds a gum, or rather resin, in
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NEW ZEALAND VEGETATION.
profusion, which is greatly sought after for exportation, and is used for varnishes, &c.; and it is remarkable that the Maories dig up this gum in enormous masses all over very extensive ranges now not only without a tree, but without the smallest vestige of any tree having ever grown there.
According to my somewhat limited opportunities of observation, it seemed that the timber of New Zealand was very unequally and capriciously distributed. Over scores of miles you have no trees at all, but when you come to them they grow so densely that you cannot make your way amongst them.
The scrubs are singularly impenetrable. Not only do the trees grow very closely together, but they are overgrown with all kinds of luxuriant parasites, and are knitted together with a troublesome thing called the supple-jack, which entirely precludes access to the recesses of the forest. This curious creeper, about the thickness of a schoolmaster's cane, runs about from tree to tree at all angles and all heights, hanging in festoons, so as to catch the face, the body, and the foot at every step, and utterly defying all attempts at disentanglement. The tree-fern, here called "fern-palm," which M. Guerard has done so much to immortalise with you, abounds in all the scrubs, not requiring to wait as with you, for the beds of gullies--this far more humid climate affording ample moisture at all seasons for this elegant daughter of the forest. Beautiful as it is, its loveliness is even exceeded by a kindred plant which grows in similar localities. I speak of the tree called the "nikau" by the natives,
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which is one of the most beautiful plants I ever saw. Its leaves are more subdivided than those of the fern-palm, giving a character of greater softness, and even greater luxuriance, to its foliage. The heart of the top of the stem is tender and well-flavoured, greatly resembling the filbert; and it is eaten both raw and roasted by the natives.
I should do injustice to New Zealand if I omitted to mention its gold-fields. These are, I believe, two. One at Coromandel, on the shores of the gulf upon which Auckland is situated, and one at Aorere, fifty or sixty miles from Nelson, in the southern island. Gold in noticeable quantities has been found at the former place, but not in sufficient quantities to lead to any energetic measures for further discoveries. But the gold-field near Nelson is one of unquestionable importance. I did not visit it, but I had the advantage of an elaborate description of it from a very intelligent gentleman connected with one of our banks, who had made a tour of careful inspection. This gentleman describes it as an undoubtedly available gold-field, but situated in a most inhospitable region. Since its discovery, upwards of 20,000 ounces have been exported, and large weights have fallen to the share of individual diggers. My informant met with one man who spoke of having got between 14 and 15 lbs. weight for his share. But the gold is obtained under circumstances of great difficulty and discomfort. The locality is inaccessible to either drays, or even pack-horses, and the principal discoveries have taken place in the very bed of the river, which is subject to
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GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY.
sudden, constant, and excessive floods, by which the labours of the diggers, with all their dams, and cradles, and tools, are apt to be swept away without a moment's notice. Add to this blustrous and severe weather, and extravagant prices for provisions, and you will easily see that gold gathering in New Zealand is no picking on a bed of roses.
Of the physical peculiarities of the colony, I have already spoken. The southern island contains a large proportion of level country; but the northern is one of the most broken and mountainous regions in the world--quite sufficiently so to prevent anything being done within any reasonable expectation, to open up the interior by railways. Their rivers and other natural advantages for facilitating carriage by water, place at their disposal the means of bringing much of their produce to market, and roads are being pushed on with reasonable rapidity, when the limited amount of the annual revenue is remembered; but many tracts of the interior are still virtually inaccessible for any useful purpose, and it will be a long time before it can be thrown open.
The climate of New Zealand has been so often described that I need say little about it. Although subject to very high winds and violent storms, it is on the whole genial and pleasant. The range of the thermometer throughout the year is, I believe, the very smallest in the world, not excepting that of Madeira. It is, therefore, a valuable country to the invalid, particularly those subject to diseases of the chest. The general appearance of the white population is highly
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favourable to the character of the climate. The cheeks of the younger people are of so rosy a hue as to indicate consummate health, and the mature Anglo-Saxon seems liable to such a degree of embonpoint as to be rather mortifying to some of them. Moderate as are the fluctuations of temperature, I found some of the midsummer days in Auckland very unpleasantly hot--a fact which I attributed to the great humidity of the atmosphere, combined with the natural heat of the season. They have heavy rains at all periods of the year, and the gardens and fields preserve a green appearance unknown during the summer months with you. All English fruits and vegetables grow luxuriantly, and if the colonists are not well supplied with them, it can only be attributed to indolence. In the main street of Auckland I saw the English water-cress growing in the gutter with a vigour I never saw equalled; and this is but a type of what can be done in this highly-favoured climate.
Of the form of government established here I think tolerably well. But there are some curious anomalies about it, and it shows many signs of having emanated in too great a degree from the brain of the speculative theorist. The jumble of parliaments, and confusion of responsibilities between the general and local Governments, are leading to serious evils, and seem likely to become more aggravated rather than to make any progress towards reform. You will perceive the anomalous character of their institutions, to which I have alluded, when you hear, that though the Upper House of their General Legislature is nominated by
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FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
the Governor, the Superintendents of the several provinces (each the great man of his particular settlement, and wielding large executive authority) are elected directly by the people. The evils of this arrangement will readily enough present themselves to you, and they are discussed very energetically in all circles here. But this is one evil of a character that in a new country is very difficult to cure. The Superintendent, too much inclined to curry favour with the masses of the people, is not likely to be superseded by an officer appointed by any other authority. The people, accustomed to this direct action of the popular will, are not likely to consent to any diminution of their influence, through increased indirectness in its action. Of the kindness and hospitality of the colonists I cannot speak too highly. Visiting the colony as a perfect stranger, I everywhere experienced the greatest civility and attention. The very first man who set his foot on board the ship that conveyed me to the shores invited me to take up my quarters at his house during my stay in the neighbourhood; aud this was but a sample of the friendly spirit with which I was met throughout the colony, in whatever direction I travelled.