1940 - Mathew, Felton. The Founding of New Zealand: The Journals of Felton Mathew, First Surveyor-General of New Zealand, and his Wife, 1840-1847. - Chapter II. Hokianga And The Bay Of Islands, p 44-56

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  1940 - Mathew, Felton. The Founding of New Zealand: The Journals of Felton Mathew, First Surveyor-General of New Zealand, and his Wife, 1840-1847. - Chapter II. Hokianga And The Bay Of Islands, p 44-56
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Bay of Islands, New Zealand, Sunday, 9th February, 1840, 2 p.m. --The Samuel Winter sailed yesterday at noon, my own dear Sarah, bearing a most voluminous despatch for you, consisting of seven sheets of foolscap, closely filled and containing a minute account of all our proceedings from the day we left Sydney up to the night of Friday last, the 7th, and I now begin another sheet, having made up my mind to continue recording in this manner every particular connected with the expedition, as I find it more agreeable writing in this familiar manner to you, mine own, than it is to describe our proceedings in a formal journal.

We have just returned from Church at Paihia, and having an hour before dinner, I sit down to fill up the hiatus between the close of my last despatch, and the present moment. Yesterday morning, after an early breakfast, Captain Nias, Shortland, Cooper and myself started in the ship's Cutter, with our dinner in baskets on board, to visit the falls of the Kiddi-Kiddi [Keri-Keri], which we had heard very highly spoken of, and which are visited by most strangers who have nothing better to do.

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This is certainly not our case--but still our object is to see as much as possible of the country; and therefore we endeavoured to combine the service of Her Majesty with our own amusement, and I think we succeeded in doing so....

We have been to church this morning, and since dinner the Governor and the Captain are gone on shore, but I did not feel inclined to accompany them, for as we start tomorrow directly after breakfast, I shall not have an opportunity of writing to you again untill I return, which will not be untill Saturday. We all think it a great pity to lose a whole week in going to Hokianga, which might be much better employed in working away to the Southward; but the Governor wills it, and there is no gainsaying him...

Sunday, 16th February, 1840. --On Monday morning immediately after breakfast we left the ship and went to Paihia in order to take up Mr. Williams and Mr. Clarke, who were to accompany us and show us the way. The tide being high, we were compelled to row about 3 miles up the Waitangi river, and there found a number of the natives with horses waiting for us. We mounted and commenced our journey at about 11 o'clock. The hills rise very abruptly from the River, and are very poor and barren, like all those round the Bay of Islands, but at about 2 miles from the starting point we came upon a very pretty view of the valley, which lay stretched beneath us. We then came to an extensive tract of very fine land, evidently of volcanic origin, the surface of it broken with lava-like rocks and the intervening spaces presenting soil of the richest possible description. The country is, however, all open--no wood, excepting a few patches scattered on the side and Summits of the Hills, and covered with a luxuriant growth of fern. A few miles further on we crossed the Waitangi, which then assumes a more westerly course--the

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valley presenting a very rich and fertile appearance, reminding one of some of the rich vales of Somersetshire. Ascending the Hills again our course continued over a broken, poor and open country until we approached Waimati, where the land again becomes very fertile.

Just before we reached the settlement, at the crossing of a very pretty stream on which is a watermill, we were met by all the missionaries with a large party on horseback and a very considerable number of natives, who escorted us with shouts and every demonstration of a hearty welcome to Mr. Taylor's, which is the principal house attached to the Mission at Waimati. Here we were very kindly and hospitably received, and after a few minutes' rest proceeded to transact our business with the natives. 1 We had, of course, no trouble in arranging matters with them, and afterwards we took a walk towards a "Koudi" Forest about two miles off; Shortland and I, however, returned (leaving the party) for the purpose of viewing the farm settlement.

Taylor's house is a very comfortable one, and stands in a very pretty situation, commanding a good view over the valley, in which runs a branch of the Waitangi, and of the opposite Hill. There is a considerable quantity of land in cultivation, and much of it sown with Clover and other artificial grasses, which give it a very English appearance. There are several other houses close at hand inhabited by other missionaries and by the mechanics, etc., attached to the mission. One of the former is Mr. Davis, who married Mrs. Iselton, but I did not find it out untill yesterday morning, when it was too late to call on her. They are building a large and very good Church which, when com-

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plete, will accommodate about five hundred people. The natives here are very docile and tractable, and the missionaries certainly succeed in keeping them in much better order than is observed among them in any other part of the island so far as I can see and hear. The distance from the Bay to Waimati is about 15 miles and we were accompanied by natives to carry our baggage, who travelled almost as fast as we did, although we were on horseback and they on foot. I was very much pleased with Waimati, the situation is delightful, the air pure, Taylor's house is very comfortable and the place altogether very desirable. English flowers are flourishing in abundance, Dahlias are most luxuriant and the garden altogether very productive. The only drawback is the quantity of rain, which from the elevated position of the settlement is very considerable, indeed; Mrs. Taylor said that a fine day was a rarity indeed. We were fortunate in that respect, and saw the place to great advantage.

About 9 o'clock on Tuesday Morning we again mounted our horses and continued our Journey towards Hokianga, the distance being about 18 miles to the River, and from thence about 8 more down the River to the Wesleyan Missionary Station. After leaving Waimate you cross two fine running streams, and from thence the ground rises gradually to the base of a very lofty flat-topped Hill called "Pouki-nui" [Pukenui] or Big-Hill, which is evidently the Crater of an extinct Volcanoe. Its base, and indeed the country all round for miles is covered with masses of Volcanic rock and Scoria, and a chain of similar remarkable Hills extends at intervals for a great distance across the country. At the foot of this hill, which is 3 miles from Waimati, is an extensive native "Pah," in which the salutary influence exercised by the missionaries is very strongly exhibited. They (the natives) have here a great deal of land exceedingly well cultivated, with fine crops

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of corn and potatoes, wheat ricks well thatched, very neat and comfortable habitations and the whole substantially fenced. They flocked out in great numbers to welcome us, with their usual salutation of "Tenarakakoi" or "How do you do," and very eager in their desire to shake hands, which they are very fond of and invariably practise if possible.

About a mile further on is another Pah, containing numerous habitations and entirely surrounded by a well-built stone wall three feet thick, which was originally intended for defence as well as for a fence. The Union Jack was flying in the centre, and the whole population, headed by the Chief, turned out and welcomed us in the most enthusiastic manner. Fencing the land in this quarter is an easy task, the stones and scoria lying in such abundance on the surface that it answers the double purpose, of fencing and clearing the land for cultivation at one and the same time. The land hereabout is exceedingly fertile and particularly adapted for the cultivation of the vine. The whole of the country we had hitherto passed over was quite open and unincumbered with a single tree, so it continues for a few miles beyond the last mentioned "Pah." We then cross the dividing Range of this northern part of the Island and obtain a view of a fine fresh water Lake of some miles in extent, the banks of which do not, however, present any remarkable appearance of beauty. Crossing a deep and broken gully, the sides of which are so precipitous that you would have stared had you been told you were to ride up them without dismounting (which you did).

We entered about half a mile further on upon the most difficult and serious part of our journey. To a person who was a stranger to this part of the world, I should despair of conveying anything like an idea of the task we had to undergo, but I think I can make you understand

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it, mine own. We entered on a Wood, which is not surpassed by the densest and most impenetrable brushes of Brisbane Water or any part of New South Wales, with the additional disadvantage of being alternately intersected by running streams, falling into black, slimy bogs, and broken into a rapid succession of rocky and almost inaccessible prominences. The trees are gigantic, interlaced with parasites and cane brakes, the underwood being composed chiefly of enormous ferns which were commonly higher than our heads, though on horseback. The track was merely a native footpath, barely wide enough for a horse, and the ground being thickly covered with a complete network of large roots from the trees, continually laid bare and rendered slippery as ice by the frequent rains, it would seem almost impossible for horses to keep their feet. Every now and then we came on a spot where perhaps three or four trees had fallen directly across the path; and as from the thickness of the brush it is impossible to avoid them, you have no alternative but to leap. This we were obliged to do at the imminent risk of being spiked by some projecting stake, or decapitated by an overhanging branch. Through such Jungle as this we rode for nine Miles-- upwards of three mortal hours without being able to see an inch beyond our noses, and with every faculty on the stretch to guard against the risk of accident to which we were every instant exposed. I was never so weary of anything, and thought the wood would never end.

At length, however, we did emerge and began descending the spurs of the Mountain towards the Hokianga River. Recall the Macdonald and you see it at once. About 2 o'clock we arrived at the landing place on the River, where we found a large party consisting of all the respectable Europeans of the neighbourhood, and a large body of Natives awaiting us. Our reception was quite enthusiastic, and after a few minutes' halt, and leaving our horses in

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charge of the Natives, we embarked in a large Boat belonging to the Wesleyan Mission and followed by about a dozen other boats, all gaily decked with Colours, we proceeded down the River. The scenery is interesting, but did not to my eye present any appearance of novelty....

As we advanced the River becomes broader and in passing a place called "Hourakee" [Te Horeke] belonging to McDonnell, who published the Chart of New Zealand, we were saluted from a battery of eleven Guns, which are ranged in front of his Cottage. About 2 miles below this and eight from the landing place, we reached the Station of the Wesleyan Mission [Mangungu], where our whole party was taken in and most kindly and hospitably entertained during our stay. The River is here about a mile wide, and the Mission House and Chapel are built on elevated ground a few hundred yards back from the Shore. They are of wood, and the former is very comfortable and convenient, but our party being very large we were all compelled to quarter in one large room. We six of us slept very comfortably--his Ex. in a bed, of course, and his officers on sofas and mattresses on the floor around him. The head of the Mission (who is quite a young man) was absent at Adelaide, and the duties were most ably performed by our hostess, his Sister, a very plump and a very nice, good-tempered girl, rejoicing in the unfortunate name of "Bumby." Nothing could possibly exceed the kindness and attention we received from her, and indeed from all of them, and that, too, under circumstances very trying to a lady's patience. For sitting down to dinner fourteen every day, if five o'clock was named, we were never ready untill 7 or 1/2 past.

We all slept soundly, be sure, after our fatiguing ride, and were on foot early the next morning, prepared for the troublesome business of the day, which was of the same nature as that at the Bay--meeting and negotiating with the

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Chiefs. By nine o'clock about Two Thousand Natives had assembled and a Table and Chairs having been placed under the verandah of the house, the natives were invited to approach and range themselves on the lawn in front. For some time they hung back altogether, and we began, to say the truth, both to look and to feel rather foolish. But at last they appeared to have made up their minds, and giving a shout they all advanced in a body to the front of the seat, where we were awaiting their approach. The ceremony was much the same as at the Bay; and the same sinister influence had been at work to oppose us--but after long debating, during which much tact, good sense, and eloquence were displayed by the Chiefs, our cause prevailed and they came forward to sign the Treaty and continued doing so with such zeal and earnestness that, excepting an hour allowed for dinner, the work was not finished until midnight. Thoroughly tired of it was I, and, not being actively engaged in the business, Cooper and I took ourselves off to bed at an early hour.

The following day we had arranged to go down to the heads, a distance of about thirty miles, to plant the Standard and look about us. Our Governor, however, contrary to our advice, and as it subsequently proved most unfortunately, was persuaded by the Chiefs to forego his intention in order to have the gratification of witnessing their grand feast--the materials for which we had, of course, provided for them. Accordingly, directly after breakfast we got into our boats and proceeded to McDonnell's station (before mentioned), where they had congregated. As we approached the spot we saw the men to the number of fully fifteen hundred, all drawn up in three bodies in battle array, fully armed and accoutred, most of them in their native costume, and each man carrying in the left hand his paddle just as they had left their war canoes. When we came directly opposite to them the three parties

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rushed together into one body drawn up on the shore in double file and made a sign to us to anchor so as to command a full view of the whole body; which we did at the distance of about thirty yards from the shore. When they saw that we were quite prepared to attend to them, they set up a most terrific roar, which I could compare to nothing but the short, ferocious roar of a troop of lions in a Menagerie just before feeding time, which noise indeed it exactly resembled. Its effect from 1,500 human voices was inconceivably terrific. This was the prelude to the war dance, which I fear I cannot convey to you any idea of. It consisted of leaping from the ground to the height of about three feet, with the legs thrown alternatively to each side, flourishing the paddles, shouting and making all sorts of vehement gestures, preserving most accurately both time and tune. The regularity with which so large a body of men leaped from the ground, throwing the left hand with the paddle into the air and flourishing the right armed with various weapons, all exactly at the same moment, was really singular and admirable. The evolutions were continued for a few minutes and then ceased with a terrific shout; this they repeated three times, and then saluting us with a volley of cheers they gave us to understand that the ceremony was completed. We stood up in our boat and gave them three cheers in return, which seemed to gratify them highly. After this, we landed and proceeded to witness the distribution of the food and the presents, which occupied the whole day and was an exceedingly dull and uninteresting business. To witness a parcel of beastly savages--not fewer than three thousand men, women and children devouring pig and potatoes is not a very interesting spectacle. At all events, it was not so to me, or indeed to any of us excepting the Governor, and he appeared to enjoy it exceedingly.

I am very glad, however, to say that his opinion of

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the interesting savages underwent a very considerable change before long, for his distribution of presents gave (of course) much dissatisfaction; and one vagabond who actually begged a Dollar of him had the impudence on the following morning to bring it back, and at Captain Hobson refusing to accept it, threw it into the River. On our way up also we were followed by a War canoe, the Chief of which brought back his present of Blankets, together with a letter signed by fifty of his Tribe, in which they disavowed the act of the preceding day, and refused to acknowledge allegiance to the Queen. All this was evidently the result of European intrigue; but still it is very embarrassing, and the way in which it was done rendered it very insulting. 2 He, however, brought it all on himself by his vacillating conduct, and by a want of proper energy and decision.

On Thursday morning at 8 o'clock we left the Mission house, certainly with no very favourable impression of Hokianga. Almost every morning they are enveloped in cold, dense fog, untill about 10 o'clock, and almost every afternoon it rains heavily. A more unpleasant climate to live in I can scarcely conceive. Having to pull up the River against the Tide we did not reach the landing place untill nearly 1 o'clock, when, mounting our horses, we made an attempt to approach the residence of the so styled Baron de Thierry, 3 whom, in despite of what we could all of us say to the contrary, he would persist in calling on. This impudent imposter writes a very good letter, and he succeeded in persuading our Governor that he is a very fine fellow. By a fortunate accident, however, we counteracted

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his object; for in crossing a creek just after we had started, Shortland's horse got bogged up to the Shoulder, and our worthy Chief, not liking to encounter the same risk, very reluctantly resumed the road on our return to Waimati.

Before leaving this part, I must record my opinion on two subjects. The first is that the extreme fertility of the soil has been greatly over-rated; and the second is that the Wesleyan Missionaries, though evidently very good kind of men, have not effected nearly so much good as those of the Church of England. The difference is inconceivable to one who has not witnessed it. The Wesleyans have little or no influence over the natives; they still retain many of their savage customs, and have not made nearly such progress in cultivating their lands as the Church of England Natives. I am at the same time very glad to acknowledge that all my prejudices against the Missionaries are removed, and that the good they have effected is certainly extraordinary both in its nature and extent. The character of the people seems to be almost entirely changed--there are no wars, no bloodshed, and Cannibalism, at one time universal, is now never heard of. The arts of civilization have been introduced, and in a New Zealand Pah you will see land cultivated in a manner which would not disgrace a farmer in many parts of England. The stories, too, which have been and still are told of their engrossing enormous tracts of land, turn out to be in a great measure erroneous. Most of them are certainly landholders, some to a large extent, but no man can blame them for making a fair provision for their families. The far greater proportion, however, of lands held in their names are held in trust only for the native proprietors in order to prevent other designing Europeans from buying them and depriving the natives altogether of their country. And the deeds are given up to the Governor for the Government to do with them as they please. When to this we add that for so

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many years they have lived among a people of such ferocious character without loss of life or insult, although travelling throughout the length and breadth of the land, and that by a purely moral influence they hare managed to restrain a most vicious European population within at all events reasonable bounds, there certainly is great merit due to them. And I feel the greater pleasure in recording this opinion, because, as you will know, I had imbibed from what I had heard of the Missionaries a great prejudice against them. The manner, too, as regards their religious proceedings is so different from what I expected that I am very agreeably disappointed.

To return, however, from this long digression, Captain Nias, who was very ill, had proceeded about two hours before us, with Cooper and Mr. Clarke, leaving the Governor, myself and Shortland and Mr. Taylor to follow as we might. We rode through the wood at a fearfully rapid pace, your precious leading the way, and reached Waimati at Six, having performed the journey in 4 1/2 hours, which was much quicker than it had ever been done before.

This was Friday. We slept that night at Mr. Taylor's, left yesterday noon, and reached the ship comfortably by six to dinner. Nias was too ill to accompany us, but will join us, we expect, tomorrow. And so, dearest Sarah, concludes the history of our trip to Hokianga, and when I have told you that we went to Pahia to Church this morning I sum up my proceedings to this present date Sunday night, 11 o'clock.

Tuesday, 18th February, 1840.--Yesterday, dearest Sarah, I wrote for you a few lines by the Martha, which is to sail tomorrow morning; expecting that ere this we should have been on our way to the Thames.

It, however, has blown all day so hard from the E.S.E., our direct course, that it would be useless to attempt getting out.

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Here, therefore, we must lie until the weather moderates. Our little party undergoes some change. Shortland remains at Kororarika, and we are joined by Mr. Williams the Missionary [Rev. Henry Williams], and by Captain Symonds, a son of Sir Wm. Symonds, who is a settler in New Zealand and whom Captain Nias has invited to accompany us to the Thames. He is a very fine young man, and a decided acquisition. Old Williams also is a very shrewd, intelligent fellow and a pleasant companion, so that our social party will not be broken up. In the remarks which I have made in a former page respecting the Missionaries, and in which I have drawn a comparison between the Church and the Wesleyans, much in favour of the former, I must, of course, be understood as speaking only to the extent of my knowledge as regards the part of the country which I have seen. Captain Symonds says that wherever he has been he has found the Wesleyan natives far superior to those professing the Church Communion. As he has travelled much in the Island, his testimony has much weight. At the same time I find that every man I meet is biased one way or the other, and no one gives a purely impartial and disinterested opinion. I therefore do not depend on anything I hear, but reserve my opinion until I can judge for myself.

Thursday, 20th February, 1840. -- ...I was quite surprised to find that you may buy almost everything there [Kororarika] and nearly as cheap, in some instances cheaper, than Sydney.

1/2 past 4 p. m. --The Gun has been fired for Mr. Williams, and we are about to get under weigh. I will, therefore, close this, dearest, and leave it with Shortland, that in case you should arrive here before I return, you may have the recital of our adventures up to the present time to amuse you.

1   Viz., the business of obtaining signatures to the Treaty. Six Chiefs signed at Waimate on the 10th, and a further thirty signatures appear to have been collected there on the return journey, on the 15th. (Facsimile, Treaty.)
2   Compare the delightful account of this incident given by F. E. Maning in his "History of the War of the North," allegedly told by a Ngapuhi Chief.
3   A sympathetic account of Baron de Thierry's eccentric career will be found in novel form, in Robin Hyde's "Check to Your King."

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