1838? - Description of a view of the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, and the surrounding country - [Text] p 3-12

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1838? - Description of a view of the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, and the surrounding country - [Text] p 3-12
Previous section | Next section      


[Image of page 3]


No part of the world can boast of greater natural beauties than the magnificent islands of the Southern hemisphere, amongst them, those which compose New Zealand, so little known, but so particularly deserving attention, hold a conspicuous and important rank; being, in many respects, unrivalled, and presenting the most noble, striking, and sublime views, that nature untouched by art can produce; especially Eaheinomauwe, or the Northern island, which in its vast extent of forty thousand English square miles, affords every variety of picturesque scenery, from the calm, rich, and romantic, to the wild and sublime, that the most extraordinary combinations of wood, water, hill, and mountain can display.

The Bay of Islands--the largest, best known, and most frequented, of the many harbours of this immense tract--furnishes the subject for the present Panorama. The view, taken from some rising ground in the vicinity of Paihia, is on all sides bold, varied, and pleasing; but towards the water most splendid. In this direction the eye takes in at once the whole of the noble and almost unrivalled bay; its extensive shores, prolonged by many indentations, and lesser bays, and the numerous small islands, and rocks of singular forms, and various tints of loveliness, strewed over its ample surface. Ships of various nations stud the placid waters, and the innumerable curiously decorated light and graceful canoes, seen in all directions, conveying stores or articles for barter to the vessels, contribute to animate and enliven this interesting and beautiful scene. Towards the land the principal Missionary settlement of Paihia; or, Marsden Vale, as it is more generally called, in honour of its benevolent founder, stands prominent; the unpretending chapel and schools, marked by the Missionary standard floating in the breeze above them; the neatness and apparent comfort of the cottages, the well stocked gardens, and the presence of European cattle, and implements of husbandry, forcibly remind the spectator of an English village. In various parts around are native settlements, and huts, decorated with singular devices of rude sculpture--the inhabitants of which are seen following their domestic avocations, or engaged in the dance; their painted and half naked figures, and wild gestures, strangely contrasting with the staid demeanour, and ample costume of the Europeans. The distant view is necessarily limited, from the inequalities of the ground; --various small hills rise in beautiful undulations round the settlements, covered with fern in wild luxuriance, and a profusion of shrubs, the produce of a rich soil and fine climate, presenting a verdant freshness pleasant to the eye; --at a greater distance the hills swell into mountains, covered with lofty trees in patches, or grand and picturesque forests. The palm, the pine, the cowry, and numberless others, mingle together in rich and shadowy woods, the foliage of which is exceedingly thick, and of surpassing beauty; thus closing a coup doeil of a wild and singular character, but extremely beautiful and imposing.

The discovery of these islands is generally attributed to Tasman, the Dutch navigator, who, in 1642, sailed along the northern coast, which he named Staten Land, and subsequently New Zealand; but they were but little noticed, and the partial visits made to them led to no permanent intercourse. The indefatigable and enterprising Cook sailed round them in 1769-70, and visited them several times afterwards, and surveyed the coasts with the greatest care. His charts are even now perhaps the most correct extant; --his de-

[Image of page 4]

scriptions also of the manners, customs, and habits of the natives, which form a prominent feature in his works, are equally so. The various persons who from this period at intervals visited the islands, were men who were but little disposed to conciliate the natives, or to pay much regard to their own characters, in the intercourse they held with them; --by such they were represented as atrocious and implacable murderers, and ferocious cannibals, and in consequence they were held in dread by the good, and assailed by the wicked; --indeed the many recorded acts of cruelty, too well authenticated to be doubted, and the numerous murders and barbarities that blot the pages of their history, gave sanction to these reports; --but the insults and wanton aggressions, and the oppressions and cruelties practised on them, by those whom civilization separated from christianity rendered more savage than the most degraded of the Aborigines, are seldom spoken of. That they met with but little justice or mercy, the disclosures made in evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Commons in 1836, will fully testify, and prove in most instances, the unfortunate people were more sinned against than sinning.

Several New Zealanders having visited Port Jackson in whalers or trading vessels, their good conduct and gentle deportment gained them general esteem, and their intelligence, quickness, and superiority in appearance and manners over the barbarous inhabitants of the other islands, caused considerable interest in their favour. The Rev. Samuel Marsden, the principal Chaplain to the colony of New South Wales, and the New Zealanders' best earthly benefactor, was the first to step forward to rescue them from their state of barbarism, and to endeavour to shield their persons from insult, and their minds from ignorance, by consulting at once their spiritual and temporal happiness. The zeal and unwearying activity he displayed in enlightening their minds, humanizing their pursuits, and opposing as far as lay in his power the wanton outrages continually practised on them, by the crews of whalers, &c, entitle him to the highest praise; and his name will be long revered in all parts of the islands. In consequence of an application made by him to the Church Missionary Society in England--who immediately seconded his views--a sum of money and two persons--(religious characters and useful mechanics)--with their families, were sent out, who, in company with Mr. Marsden and others, arrived at the Bay of Islands in December 1814, where they were favourably received; and the first settlement was formed on the territory, and under the protection of a chief of some importance, named Duaterra. From this period the Northern Island has been making slow but sure progress towards civilization. The Church and Wesleyan Missions have settlements to the Hokihanga, above forty miles westward of the bay; and to Kaitaia, sixty miles to the south. Roads have been formed, bridges erected, and large tracts brought into cultivation. The harbours are now visited by European vessels for provisions, timber, and flax. Whalers refit, and employ the natives as extra hands for the season; and several considerable establishments in the ship building, timber, and fishing trades, have met with success. In the vicinity of the settlements, the comfortable cottage has succeeded the wattled hut. Land, before choaked with fern and wild flax, now displays the ripening corn, the productive potatoe, and the most useful of the fruits and vegetables of Europe. The bloody and exterminating wars so frequent between the tribes, are now seldom heard of. Cannibalism is nearly extinct, and infanticide seldom practised. Superstition and prejudice are fast giving way; and the natives are making happy progress from a savage to a civilized state--and from ignorance to knowledge, under the mild and benign influence of religion. That this picture is not without its reverse is a melancholy truth. In the vicinity of the most frequented harbours, civilization has indeed made progress; --but in its most abhorent shape, under the tuition and example of the lowest class of sailors, rovers, and escaped convicts. Grog shops are numerous. Every description of depravity and vice is practised; and the most

[Image of page 5]

loathsome diseases, before unknown, have been introduced. In 1832, I. Busby, Esq. was sent to the bay as an accredited English resident, with full power to settle all disputes between the natives and foreigners, and for the protection of British interests; --but from the want of an established government, and a proper military force, his exertions are from necessity limited.

The New Zealand Association, formed for the purpose of colonizing these fine islands, and to civilize, uphold the rights of, and improve the condition of, the natives--propose, under the sanction of England, to purchase waste lands, and by their resale and other resources, to realize an income sufficient to form a permanent Government, with an effective force, and an emigration fund; so that the colony shall be no expense whatever to the mother country. Their views are fully developed in a little work recently published under their authority, by Parker, West Strand.

New Zealand (including a small island called Stewart's) consists of three islands closely adjoining each other, and forming an irregular oblong between 30 deg. 25' and 47 deg. 20' south latitude, and between 166 and 179 east longitude, being about 900 miles in length by an average breadth of 100.

Towards the west, the nearest land is Van Diemen's, and New Holland; to the east, Chili, in South America; to the north, the Friendly Isles; and the unexplored waters of the Southern Ocean lie towards the south.

The two large islands contain together 95,000 square miles, or sixty millions of acres; the face of the country is remarkably hilly, and broken; and a chain of mountains runs through the whole--not inaptly termed, their back bone, which towards the south rise to the height of 14,000 feet, covered by everlasting snow. Several are volcanic, and abound in hot mineral springs. From these mountains, the ground on both sides gradually slopes to the sea; an immense extent of forest, pasture, and plain, intersected by several fine lakes and considerable rivers, abounding with fish, whose banks are covered with timber of amazing size and useful quality--so luxuriant in their growth, and so beautifully disposed, that they appear to have been planted by an experienced gardener--and the underwood is so thick as to be almost impenetrable: but no lurking beast of prey, or noxious reptile, alarm the unwary traveller. New Zealand possesses no native animal. Until the last few years, the only two to be found on the island, were a species of wild dog and a small rat. The only reptile, is a small lizard--held sacred by the Aborigines. The hills are, generally, stiff clay; the valleys, a rich alluvial soil, covered with fern, wild flax, and toi toi, long native grass; but in all parts favourable to European grain, &c. Few countries can boast a finer and more regular climate, the extremes of heat and cold being within peculiarly narrow limits, so that the trees are in leaf and the ground presents the same verdant appearance all the year. There is do doubt of both islands being rich in minerals, particularly coal and iron. Granite, marble, and slate are found in various parts; also, good clay for bricks. Thus it is evident, that New Zealand presents a most eligible field for the exertion of British enterprize, and the employment of British capital, and has every internal resource to make it a successful agricultural settlement. From its situation, in the heart of the great whale fishery, and within easy distance of thousands of the inhabited islands of the great Polynesian, and rich Indian Archipelago, and in the direct line for homeward bound vessels from Australia and Van Diemen's land, nature seems to have formed it for what it will no doubt shortly become, a rich and populous maritime colony.

[Image of page 6]


1. --Paihia.

Marsden Vale, or Paihia, is the second settlement, in point of time, of the Church Mission, but the principal in importance, as it forms the centre of communication for the whole, and the medium of intercourse between the Missions in general, and the parent and auxiliary societies in England, and New South Wales. It was established in 1823, the Rev. H. Williams, and Mr. Fairburn, holding the first appointments, who have been since joined by several other Missionaries, with their families. The settlement stands in an agreeable situation, on an eligible piece of level ground about fifteen acres in extent, having a frontage to the bay a quarter of a mile in length, with a fine sandy beach. It contains between forty and fifty houses of wood, or lath and plaster, with glazed windows; the gardens, &c. in the rear of which are bringing, little by little, the waste ground into progressive cultivation. The fruits and vegetables of Europe flourish here, and cattle and lesser domestic animals, particularly goats and pigs, increase wonderfully. Domestic poultry thrive well, but they find a destructive enemy in the wild dogs. The chapel, a very neat structure, capable of containing from 150 to 200 persons, stands back from the road, in an open space, surrounded by an almost impenetrable hedge of sweet briar; it is furnished with a bell, and a well toned barreled organ. Service is performed here daily, and on the sabbath three times, partly in English and partly in the native tongue. There are schools for native adults, for Europeans, and for native children of both sexes, and for infants, who are clothed at the expense of the Mission, all of which are well attended. The system pursued is that of circulating classes, and the branches taught are reading and writing in the English and native tongues, arithmetic, and some of the useful arts. There is also a printing press in the station, where many portions of the scriptures in the New Zealand language have been published.

National Standard.

The British Government having determined on presenting the New Zealanders a national flag, three were brought over by the Alligator for their choice. On the 20th of March, 1835, thirty of the Tangata Maori, or Chief's of Tribes, and a number of natives, having assembled in a capacious tent at the settlement, I. Busby, Esq., the British resident, explained the object proposed and the advantages which would arise from the possession of an acknowledged flag, which would allow any vessel hoisting it and bearing a register from a native chief, countersigned by the Resident, to trade to British ports, and to be acknowledged and protected by the Flag of England. The Chiefs having voted, the ensign chosen was hoisted, and saluted with twenty-one guns by the Alligator; and the ceremony concluded with a feast. The flag has a white ground, with a Cross of St. George, the upper corner left hand having a blue field, with a red cross, and four white stars.

[Image of page 7]

6. --Waitangi.

Or the River of Tears, is a rapid stream which has its source from an extensive and beautiful lake of pure water, half way between the bay and the Hokianga River. The Waitangi runs through several deep and well wooded valleys, and empties itself into the bay over a fall of 20 feet perpendicular. The first bridge (a wooden one of considerable span) erected in the country crosses this river on the road to the Missionary settlement at Waimate.

10. --Bay of Islands.

One of the finest and most spacious harbours ever beheld. It is situated in 35 deg. 6' south latitude, 174 deg. 43' east longitude. The natives call it Tokirau, or the Hundred Rocks, from the number of rocky islets with which it is studded. It is entered with perfect ease and security at all times; the width from head to head being eleven miles affords plenty of sea room for vessels of the largest size to beat in, in the very worst of weather. The anchorage is various, but good in all parts, and affords shelter for an unlimited number of ships at all seasons, and the boldness of the shores allows them to approach almost close to the land. The bay was accurately surveyed in 1830-2-3 by the French ship L'Astrolabe. Twenty-nine vessels, mostly above 300 tons, have been anchored in the bay at one time, and have been supplied with pork, potatoes, &c. for long whaling cruises, or the homeward voyage. Several Europeans carry on flourishing trades in small sea stores.

The Kerikiri, Waikari, Wairoa, Koua Koua, Manganui, Pulconda, and several minor streams empty themselves into the bay, which abounds in various sorts of fish, and oysters of fine quality. The entrance to the bay, as well as the whole coast to the south, is frequented by the Black Whale in cubbing time, and innumerable Seals.

11. --Mooteroar.

A small island, off which, Captain, then Lieutenant, Cook's vessel was anchored from the 29th of November to the 5th of December, 1769.

12. --Tepuna.

A roadstead and small cove, with excellent anchorage. Here the first Missionary settlement was made, and the standard of Christ unfurled, under the protection of the Chief Duaterra, who has been succeeded in his province by the Chief Warepoaka. They were also favoured and protected by a great chief called Shungie, or Hongi, who had visited London and received many valuable presents from the Prince Regent. The residence of Mr. King, the earliest missionary, is at this place, but the settlement is not large, although situated in a lovely and picturesque spot. On the hill above, is a native fort, or par, consisting of a series of circular stockades, and behind it is the native village of Rangehoua. The small island at Tepuna was, formerly, the residence of an amiable and well-known chief, named Tiphahee, who was driven from his possessions, himself killed, and his tribe nearly exterminated, by some whalers, in retaliation for his supposed participation in the dreadful slaughter of the crew of the Boyd.

13. --Point Pocock.

A bold headland at the end of a considerable cape on the northern side of the entrance to the bay, named by Captain Cook. Ships do not approach very close to it, to avoid a rock, called the Whale Rock, on which Captain Cook struck, but from which the tide cleared him without damage.

14. --Nine Pin Rock.

A singularly formed rock, in the entrance to the bay, somewhat resembling the perpendicular section, of a sugar-loaf. From its height and situation, being a conspicuous mark to mariners, it, is sometimes called the Centinel, and by the natives, Tiki Tiki.

[Image of page 8]

17. --Tarpecka Point.

The eastern boundary of the Bay of Kororareka.

18. --Paroa.

A deep bay, forming a snug and spacious harbour of shelter in the most stormy weather; it has seven or eight fathoms water, and was formerly the anchorage used by all the whaling vessels. Captain Dufresne Marion, commanding a French vessel, on a voyage of discovery, in 1772, anchored in a bay, near Paroa, called Man-o'-Wars' Bay, where a scuffle took place between some of the Wangeroa tribe and the sailors, and the captain was murdered by a native called Cooley, or the Dog; in revenge for which, two hundred men were landed, by whom a vast number of the tribe were slain. Wangeroa Bay 25 miles N. E. of the Bay of Islands, was the place where the same tribe destroyed the Boyd, in 1809, and massacred and devoured all her unfortunate crew and passengers, with the exception of four persons; and where they also plundered the English whaler Mercury, in 1824, the captain and crew having fortunately escaped to the Bay of Islands. This tribe was exterminated by the Chief Shongi, in 1827.

21. --Bay of Kororareka.

A safe anchorage for large ships; the general rendezvous of European vessels, and all such as want only slight repairs or fresh provisions. It is about eleven miles from Tepuna, and three from Paihia; the beach is a most delightful spot, about three quarters of a mile in extent, with a fine sand, and very little surge, and is sheltered by two picturesque promontories. The native village was formerly a very populous place, but is now almost depopulated by the influx of Europeans, and the ruinous effects of ardent spirits, and prostitution. It is well situated at the base of a fine hill, and forms a curious mixture of white cottages and native huts. Several Europeans, particularly Scotchmen, reside here, who successfully pursue the various branches of mechanical art required by the shipping. In March 1830, a severe engagement took place here, between two native tribes, to which they were instigated by the captain of a whaler: about one hundred men were killed, and the slaughter would have been much greater, but for the intervention of the Missionaries from Paihia, who obtained a cessation of hostilities, and with the assistance of Mr. Marsden, who most opportunely arrived, in a few days concluded a peace.

22. --Cape Brett.

The southern side of the entrance to the bay, named by Captain Cook, Cape Brett, in honour of Sir Piercy. The land at this point is much higher than any other part of the coast, and forms a cape, extending about four miles, terminated by a high bold rock called Motukokuko, the surface of which is covered with verdure, and the sides barren; the base being open in the centre forms a remarkable natural arch.

24. --Preparing the Fern Root.

The root of the haddawai, or fern--(an invaluable production which grows in many varieties to an almost incredible height all over the island)--formed the general food of the natives. It is first beaten until soft, and then eaten raw or roasted; it has a pleasant sweet taste, and is very nutritious. Even now, potatoes and coomeras, although so plentiful, are such valuable articles for barter, that they are used but sparingly; and pork only on great occasions. Until the recent introduction of the iron pot, the method of cooking was simple and curious. A hole was dug in the earth, in which a fire being lighted, it was covered with pebbles, which, when hot, were taken out; the

[Image of page 9]

hole was then lined with cabbage or other large leaves, in which potatoes and flesh, either that of the dog, pig, or human, as the case might be, were carefully placed; a little water being poured in, the hot stones were piled on, and the whole covered air tight with earth; when done, the food is served in neat rush baskets, which are never used a second time.

25. --Native Huts.

The huts were formerly built of rushes wattled, thatched with strong bladed native grass, and lined with palm leaves. In the neighbourhood of the settlements the sides are now of weatherboards; they are rarely above five feet in height--it being considered unlucky to have any thing suspended above the head, but frequently reach sixteen feet in length, with a portico or veranda at one end. The gables are ornamented with grotesque carving, usually painted red; the only opening is a square door of entrance, closed when wanted by a sliding panel. Furniture they have none; a few rushes for a bed, a calabash for water, a small box or basket for ornaments, a cooking pot and hatchet, is the extent of the domestic utensils. In fine weather the New Zealander rarely either cooks, eats, or sleeps, in his house, but under a low shed, or in the open air.

26. --Women Weaving Mats.

These beautiful articles of dress are generally manufactured by two females, one working right handed, the other left. The flax is secured to several small sticks, but neither mesh nor needle is used, only the fingers. Four threads are taken up at once, round which are passed two from the side, and strongly knotted together. Although this is done with great dexterity and quickness, yet it is a most tedious task--a katakas, or fine mat, requiring three or four months to complete. The mats worn by both sexes, chief and slave, although they are differently named, are nearly the same; consisting of a patai, an ornamented mat worn round the waist, reaching to the knees, and the karowai, or the tatata, hung gracefully over the shoulders. The ngery, for wet weather, is made of long grass, resembling a thatch, and impervious to rain. A native in this garment, seated on the ground, with his knees folded up to his chin, resembles a large bee hive. Some of the mats made of untwisted flax, resemble floss silk; others are ornamented with a fringe and tags of coloured flax and worsted.

27. --Tattooing.

The amoco, or tattoo, is not a mark of chieftainship, nor does the pattern denote a particular tribe. All persons, more or less, undergo the painful process; and the individual who attains the age of twenty without, is considered unmanly. The person to be tattooed lies on the ground, with his feet pressed against some immovable substance; the figure, which is of great regularity, being traced on the skin with a piece of charcoal, incisions are made with a small pointed bone or shell, which is held in the left hand of the operator, by a slight stroke of a mallet held in his right; the chisel being each time dipped in a pigment, made of burnt fern root and water. The blood flows freely; and so great is the inflammation that follows, that the operation is gradually performed; and it takes months, or even years to arrive at the honour of a complete tattoo. It is not possible to erase the marks nor does sickness, or even death, destroy them. Females are but very slightly tattooed, on the lips and over the eyebrows. The persons who perform the operation travel from tribe to tribe; and according to their genius and taste in forming the various devices, are amply rewarded.

[Image of page 10]

28. --Warriors.

The musket has now nearly superseded the spear, and the natives have become very expert in its use. Formerly their warlike equipments consisted of spears, varying from five to nearly thirty feet in length, --a sort of tomahawk of hard wood, and the waddy, or patoo patoo, of wood or stone. Shields were never used. The war dress mats are of fine texture, woven so closely, that when worn loosely a spear would not penetrate them. Before proceeding to action the shouts, grimaces, and other tokens of defiance, are terrific, and they fight with unbounded fury, having no idea of any thing but conquest or death. The conflicts are most sanguinary; and the victorious party generally pursue their passion of vengeance by eating portions of the slain, or prisoners.

29. --Huts of the Slaves.

The huts of the Kookies, or slaves, are wattled, very small, and without any ornament whatever: they are, however, both wind and watertight.

35. --War Canoes.

The war canoes are extremely handsome; they are of a single tree, but are generally from eighty to one hundred feet in length, with high stem and stern posts, most elaborately carved. The vessels are painted red inside and out; the gunwale covered with the white feathers of the Gannet; and the ornament at the nose, which mostly resembles a human head, has a covering, or wig, of the coloured feathers of the Kaka, or New Zealand Parrot. These canoes will sometimes hold above a hundred persons, who sit on seats raised on each side about half way from the bottom. They are propelled with great velocity by short paddles, with almost mechanical regularity, and the crew are excited by a Chief, who stands up in the centre to direct their movements. These canoes are not calculated for sea service in rough weather; as, if poised on a wave underneath the middle, they would most probably snap asunder. A fleet of forty or fifty is a most imposing sight; and the songs, shouts, and horrible howlings of the warriors, most terrific.

36. --A Native Par.

A native Par, erected in a strong position, on a considerable height, at the extremity of a peninsula at the confluence, of two rivers. It is the residence of the Chief Pomaree, who, at the time Mr. Nicholas visited the island, was celebrated as a preserver of heads in such a manner as not to distort the features-- a process known but to few.

37. --Waikari.

The name of a river that is navigable to some distance from the bay, the district bordering which--called by the same name--furnishes some of the finest and largest wood for the use of the shipping.

38. --Karakara.

A considerable and well defended bay, frequented by ships wanting considerable repairs, or new masts; the stores required being on the spot. The Waikari and Karakara rivers fall into it. The latter is a considerable stream, in which the tide rises four feet; it is navigable a considerable distance, and the fine timber which lines its banks is readily floated down to the bay.

[Image of page 11]

40. --Native Store.

These stores are built on the tops of very high trees. Several are generally to be seen in every village; they are formed of poles interlaced with twigs, making a strong platform of considerable size. The potatoes, corn, &c, being placed at this height, secures them from the rats, or any other depredators--as no one could ascend without being detected.

42. --Natives Dancing.

In common with all savage nations, the New Zealanders are fond of dancing and singing. Their dances are similar to those of most persons in a state of nature; they have no half measures; and whether it is the dance of pleasure, or the war dance of defiance, they enter into the spirit of it with such good will, as to completely exhaust themselves by excessive fatigue. The upper mat being laid aside by both sexes, the performers range themselves in one or two lines, beating their breasts, and singing a plaintive chorus. The action of the arms and gestures of the body soon become more violent, and they utter piercing and savage cries. They stamp vehemently, but seldom move to any considerable distance from the place where they commence. Every movement is simultaneous with all the individuals; no irregularity is perceptible, however great their number; as the dance continues, their countenances become violently distorted, and they appear under the influence of ungovernable phrenzy.

Their musical instruments are simple, but afford a variety of pleasing notes. They have a sort of flute about seven inches long, formed of reed or bone, having three holes on one side, and one on the other, and open at both ends. Another instrument is formed of two pieces of wood hollowed, and then bound together; the centre is bellied out, and has a small hole: it is blown into at one end, and the other is occasionally stopped to produce variety. The third and last is a horn, or trumpet, formed of a conch shell. Their singing is simple and melodious, well adapted to the theme, whether pathetic, humourous, or warlike, and generally has a chorus.

43. --Group of Natives.

The New Zealanders are a thoroughly savage people; very few in proportion to their territory, it being calculated, that there are not more than 160,000 on the northern island. They are divided into small independent tribes, or families, who are constantly at war with each other, with the exception of those who have become more civilized. The men are generally above the middle size, well formed, graceful, and athletic, and exhibit evident marks of courage and strength; their colour varies, from a dark chesnut to an agreeable olive; but there is a striking difference between the Rungateedds (chiefs, or better class,) and the cookees, by birth slaves, many of whom are nearly black and very short. The women are rarely so dark as the men, more resembling the Spanish, or European Gipsy; they have finely rounded limbs, long silky black hair, dark penetrating eyes, and an agreeable cast of features. As well as the men, they anoint all parts of the body with oil and a red or blue earth. They are dirty in their habits, and swarm with vermin. Their clothing on ordinary occasions is not more than the season requires, frequently only a blanket, or some article of European dress, to which they are very partial They wear no artificial covering on the head, but the hair is sometimes col

[Image of page 12]

lected all round, and being brought to the top and secured by a ligature, is well plastered with grease and earth, so as to form a sufficient protection from rain; the feathers of the Gannet and Albatross are also stuck in the hair. The usual mode of salutation is by hugging and rubbing noses together; if after a long absence, abundance of tears are shed, plaintive cries are uttered, and their excess of joy expressed by disfiguring their faces in a painful manner with a broken shell. The New Zealander eats, drinks, and sleeps, when nature requires; the young, labour, --the old, sit in circles, and talk, relating romantic and frightful tales. The women are doomed to the most toilsome and degrading offices, assisted by the slaves. The children are taken from the earliest age under the care of the father, and are carried about sitting astride his shoulders. In infancy their ears are bored, and the orifice being enlarged by a plug of wood, are ornamented with tufts of Gannet's down, or Manatunghas, (ear drops), generally grotesque figures carved in jade, given by their friends, or inherited from their parents; also, sharks' teeth, and dead or even living birds, their heads being thrust through the orifice. They have no idols, nor any external form of worship; the Taboo is almost their only superstition. They believe in a supreme being called Atua, the author of good and evil, the giver and taker of life; and they reverence the lizard as his earthly type. They have also some extraordinary oral traditions, which in many points agree, in a singular manner, with parts of the holy scriptures.

44. --A Taboo Store.

These stores are attached to most huts, and in large villages are of greater size and much more elaborately carved and ornamented than the dwellings. They are taboo'd, or rendered sacred, by a kind of incantation muttered over them by a sort of priest, or seer. The Taboo is a species of superstition common to all the South Sea Islands, but in none is held so sacred as in New Zealand. It is sometimes used for political, sometimes for religious purposes, and it is more or less connected with, and influences, most of the actions of the natives. When the potatos are planted, all who are engaged in the work, and the ground itself is taboo'd; and it would be death to any other to interfere. At the gathering it is the same. In the great fishing expeditions, the canoes, nets, and even the river is made sacred. Cutting the hair places both parties in a state of taboo, during which, perhaps for two or three days they must not feed themselves, nor is any one allowed to hold intercourse with them but an old woman taboo'd for the purpose. The sick are taboo'd, and if ill with an inward complaint, for which they have no remedy, the patient is removed from his hut into the open air, is taboo'd, despairs, and dies. Even the dead are taboo'd. So numerous are the taboos, that the alleged infringement of one is a ready source of quarrel between tribes that want to go to war.

Printed by Geo. Nichols, Earl's Court, Newport Street, Soho.

Previous section | Next section