1817 - Nicholas, J. L. Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand [Vol.II] - CHAPTER I

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1817 - Nicholas, J. L. Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand [Vol.II] - CHAPTER I
Previous section | Next section      


[Image of page 1]





Visit made to the chief of Bream Head--Friendly behaviour of the natives there--The Author and Mr. Marsden introduced by Moyhanger to the superior chief--Their friendly reception--Kookoopa, an inferior chief--His military fame--Further particulars of Moyhanger--Curiosity excited among the natives--Provisions supplied by the chief--Departure from Bream Head--Danger while leaving the harbour--Return to the vessel--Arrival of canoes from the shore--Curious rock near Cape Brett-- Return to Rangehoo--Visit to the Missionaries--Progress made at the settlement--Divine service performed on shore--Absence of Duaterra with most of the natives on this occasion, and the reason of it--Formidable demonstrations of approaching hostility between two parties of the natives--Conference between Duaterra and another chief, and the subject of it--Hostile appearances removed--The parties in amity with each other--Excursion to procure fish--Parro, the residence of Korra-korra, visited--His head wife--Character of his people--A fishing party, and their proceedings--The Author and Mr. Marsden sleep at Parro--Alarmed suddenly in the night--The cause of it groundless--Tui disgusted with the state of New Zealand.

HAD the wind continued fair, it was our intention to have proceeded directly to the

[Image of page 2]

Bay of Islands, without depending upon any casual supply of provisions that we might meet with along the coast; but as it blew against us the whole way, and had settled in a contrary direction for some days, while our warriors complained that their stock of fern- root could not possibly last much longer, Mr. Marsden and myself got into the boat about six o'clock in the evening; and though the ship was lying seven or eight miles from the shore, we were determined to land, and get from Moyhanger and his friends whatever could be obtained. The New Zealanders are a people who of all others are the least capable of bearing hunger with patience; and though they will readily submit to other privations, the denial of food, even in a partial degree, discomposes them so much, that they can do nothing until their cravings are satisfied; and should this be rendered impracticable at the time, they never cease to murmur with turbulent impatience. We took a party of them with us in the boat, headed by Korra-korra, who assumed on the occasion a great share of importance, displaying with various ludicrous airs, his characteristic vanity; and after paddling with much exertion, reached the shore about half-past seven.

[Image of page 3]

On our way, we passed some curious-shaped rocks that projected some distance from the land, and had a very singular appearance. The natives perceiving our approach, came out in two canoes to meet us; and Moyhanger, who was in one of them, seemed highly pleased that we had come according to promise; and as there was a heavy surf beating upon the shore, he directed us with much solicitous attention to the part where we could best effect a landing. Here we had scarcely left the boat, when the friendly people of the district came down in crowds to welcome us; and thronging round us with kind but officious civility, were anxious to shew us, by all the manifestations they could display, that we had made them happy by our visit. Moyhanger, putting our arms under his, which he said was "Europee fashion," and others linking theirs in the same manner, we proceeded in a line from the beach; and both my friend and myself were highly gratified at the social good-humour and jovial vivacity of our new companions. We had about a mile to walk before we could get to the residence of the chief; and this, though an inconsiderable distance, was rendered both tedious and disagreeable, from

[Image of page 4]

the continued obstructions it offered: being obliged to climb over rocks that were almost impervious, and in one place, to cross a small channel that nearly encompassed the spot where the village was built. When we had crossed this channel, and were entering the little capital, the ladies, always attentive to the friendly signal, held up their kackahows, and waving them in the air, shouted forth their salutation according to custom.

Moyhanger now introduced us to the superior chief Kiwacha, who was sitting on the ground as we approached him; and receiving us with a peculiar degree of amenity and composure, he ordered a clean mat to be spread for us, and desired us to sit down; which we did, with Moyhanger beside us, who acted as interpreter. As soon as we were seated, Mr. Marsden explained our wants to the chief, making him, at the same time, a present of three tokees, which he accepted with the same pleasure as the rest of his countrymen; and looking at them for some moments with heartfelt satisfaction, he seemed impressed with a sense of obligation for a favour so unexpected. He informed us that he had plenty of pigs, but that they were running wild in the woods; that, however, he

[Image of page 5]

would send his people the following day to catch as many as would supply the vessel, if she remained off the coast; and that we might take any other provisions his district afforded. Of this offer, which was both generous and friendly, we resolved to avail ourselves if circumstances should permit; and told him, that if the wind did not prove favourable to our getting round to the Bay of Islands, we would hoist our colours and stand in for the shore. This chief was a man very far advanced in years; and the strong lines of his countenance, which bespoke both reflection and gravity, no less than his venerable age, secured to him the reverence of his people, who paid the most submissive regard to his commands, and from strangers claimed the tribute of attention and respect.

Besides the superior chief, we saw a subordinate one, the man whom Moyhanger had accompanied on board in the morning; and whom he described as the commander-in-chief, or fighting man, as he expressed it, of Kiwacha. The name of this chief was Kookoopa, so called from a bird of that name which is very common in New Zealand, and somewhat larger than our pigeon, but of the same species. This man, according to the

[Image of page 6]

accounts of our warriors, had repeatedly signalized himself in several desperate actions with the surrounding tribes, and was considered one of the bravest combatants in the island; so that Kiwacha had made a judicious choice of a military commander, his prowess having spread terror through all the parts adjacent, while it secured the district of his superior chief from predatory incursions. Poor Moyhanger was extremely loquacious the whole time, talking with an astonishing volubility, and wishing to engross the whole conversation to himself; but he had nearly forgotten his English, though he did not relax in his attempts to express himself in that language; and jabbering away at random, it was with much difficulty we could comprehend any part of what he said. He attached himself a good deal to me, but in many instances I could have well dispensed with this predilection, for he annoyed me exceedingly with his continual importunities; asking me for every thing he saw in my possession, though I had nothing about me that I could part with but a few nails, which far from satisfying, only served to increase his cupidity. Having changed his mind since he was on board in the morning, he now expressed a de-

[Image of page 7]

sire to go to England again; but I did not encourage this inclination, well knowing that he would be happier in his own country than in any other part of the world, and that he would very soon wish to return to it. He asked after Governor Bligh and General Foveaux, and remembered the Duke of York and Lord Fitzwilliam. We desired him to collect all the flax he could procure, and take it to the Bay of Islands, where the missionaries would always purchase it of him; and this he promised to do, appearing well pleased with the proposal. I again mentioned the name of Mr. Savage to him, but he evinced the same indifference as before; and I knew not whether to ascribe it to insensibility or ingratitude, but the former I should think the most likely.

When we had been here about an hour, we heard the report of the ship's guns, which we had requested the master to fire, the moment a fair breeze should spring up; and we now became very anxious to return on board. But in this desire we could not be speedily indulged; for our party having brought the boat up the channel, there was not sufficient water to float her until the return of the tide, for which we were obliged to wait upwards

[Image of page 8]

of three hours. When this time had elapsed it was quite dark; and the natives being dispersed in groups, sitting round their fires, I was invited by one, and then by another to take my seat among them; and each group wished to get me within their own circle, while they all appeared very social, though detached from each other. In order to divide my company among them while I remained, I visited them all round alternately; and derived no small share of amusement from the curiosity which my presence excited through the whole assemblage. As I went up to each separate party, they would instantly place me in the middle of the circle, and examine with minute attention my great coat, my hat, my boots, and, in short, every article of raiment about me; and the indications of their surprise were as diverting as they were singular. One old man brought me for a wife a girl about twelve years of age, and whom I supposed to be his daughter: presenting her to me with many commendations, and urging the alliance in a copious strain of native oratory. But I, however, thought proper to decline it, notwithstanding all the advantages so eloquently promised, telling him as an excuse that I was tabooed, while he replied,

[Image of page 9]

in a tone of disappointment, ittee ittee taboo taboo; 1 but upon my gravely assuring him that I was nuee nuee taboo taboo, 2 he desisted from pressing me any further. Wherever I mixed among them, I always found the strongest proofs of their friendliness and hospitality; they all presented me with something to eat, and no where did I meet with any thing like selfishness in this respect. Kiwacha himself offered us some pork, which we did not hesitate to accept; and our party had five baskets of dried fish, together with a quantity of fern-root given to them: so that we were secure against their impatient growlings, till we reached the Bay of Islands.

The tide at length affording us sufficient depth of water, we took our leave of Kiwacha and his friendly people; resolving to stand out on our course on getting to the vessel, without waiting for the pigs which were promised to us the ensuing day: as the supply we had received was quite enough to last us till we returned to Rangehoo. Getting, therefore, into the boat, we were proceeding to the ship with all the expedition we could

[Image of page 10]

make, when we found the opening of this channel into the sea so very dangerous, that had we been previously aware of it, we would by no means have suffered the boat to have been brought into it; but would have gone to some other part of the coast, where we might have put off with safety, and not been subject to the alarming apprehensions we now experienced. The channel, which was very narrow, was formed by two ledges of sharp- pointed rocks, which confined it on each side; and between which the surf rushed with incredible violence, while the danger was still more imminent, from some rocks that were concealed: and had not the natives come down to shew us where these lay scattered about in different parts, the boat must inevitably have been swamped. But it was the admirable coolness and address of Korra-korra in avoiding these rocks when they were pointed out, and in directing his men when to exert all their strength, and when to proceed at a slow rate, that served particularly to rescue us from our critical situation; and he it was to whom the safety of the boat, and very probably of our lives, might be mainly attributed. Before we had been yet relieved from our fears, Mr. Marsden and

[Image of page 11]

myself expecting every moment that the boat would be either upset or dashed to pieces against the rocks, prepared for the worst that could happen; and took off our coats, that they might not encumber us, in case we should have occasion to swim; for which, however, there was happily no necessity, as we escaped the danger, and reached the ship about one o'clock in the morning.

Upon getting on board, we found that all those we had left behind us had entertained very serious alarms for our safety; for, not knowing the cause of our delay, they imagined that we had fallen victims to the treachery of the natives, when our presence removed their anxiety, and made them think better of these poor people. Duaterra gave us the European salute of a hearty shake of the hand as soon as we got upon deck, and told us very plainly, that he had concluded his countrymen had killed every one of us, and made a meal of our bodies; but the honest natives we had visited never contemplated so atrocious a deed, and our safe return did justice to their good faith. Our party now distributed the baskets of dried fish and the fern-root they had brought off with them among their friends on board, reserving an ample supply for them-

[Image of page 12]

selves; and the master of the vessel getting her under weigh, we shaped our course once more for the district of Duaterra.

While running down the coast with a favourable wind, on the morning of the 21st, we had six canoes alongside; the people in which offered for sale their flax and fishinglines, and were very anxious to meet with customers. Duaterra and his party having still by them a store of old iron and fishhooks which they had not disposed of at the River Thames, purchased all the fishing-lines; but for the flax they shewed no desire to bargain, preferring the manufactured article to the raw material, on which they set comparatively very little value. Since our departure from the river above-mentioned, our warriors discontinued their alarming salutes to the canoes that approached us; and with this we were very well pleased, as it relieved our ears from the torment of listening to their horrible vociferations. The reason of their omitting this furious exhibition was, because they considered that the motive they had first assigned for it, that of terrifying the hostile tribes, was now superseded by our return.

At noon we passed Cape Brett, sailing the main and a large rock that runs

[Image of page 13]

out about a quarter of a mile from it. This rock is a natural curiosity. Rising to a considerable height, it has upon its summit three peaked rocks of a singularly grotesque appearance; and in its centre a perforated arch similar to the one I have described before, and which the imagination might take for the portal of some old castle: while to our eyes the effect was rendered doubly picturesque, by two canoes that we could discern through the arch, with the natives in them, arrayed in the rude apparel of their country, and fishing on the opposite side. To this part of the coast the natives repair in great numbers during the fishing season, to lay in their winter's stock; and their industry is always sure to be requited, for the quantity of fish to be found here is incredible, and would, in the event of the island being colonized, form a most valuable branch of commerce. Our warriors got some fish on board that was dried the season before; but it was filled with maggots, which, though it rendered it disgusting to our palates, was probably rather a recommendation than otherwise with these unsophisticated natives, who on that account partook of it with a more exquisite relish; just as our epicures prefer

[Image of page 14]

cheese in the same state to that which is not corrupted. The taste of this fish was not unpleasant, and I could have liked it very well, had it not been for the maggots. When we had got round the point, the canoes came alongside, bringing us an abundant supply, consisting of various descriptions of fish; among which were snappers, bream, parrot- fish, benecootoos, and some excellent, cray-fish.

Continuing our course to the Bay of Islands, without visiting any other part of the coast, we came at four A. M. to our former anchorage off Rangehoo; where we could observe Duaterra's colours flying on the top of his hippah; and anxious to know how our friends the missionaries had fared in our absence, we lost no time in paying them a visit. Upon going on shore, they welcomed our return with the most lively satisfaction, and informed us that nothing particular had occurred while we were away: they seemed, with their families, in as good health and spirits as when we had left them; and were all actively employed in making their building secure and comfortable. The sawyers were busy in cutting timber, and the smith had begun to work in the forge which Mr. Hall had

[Image of page 15]

erected by this time, as also an additional room to his own dwelling; and we were no less pleased than surprised at the progress made at the settlement during the short time we were absent from it. Mr. Hall had got two of the natives in his employ, whom he described as tractable and intelligent, executing his orders with the most attentive promptitude, and readily apprehending them when given: he also said that they were unremitting in their attention, and extremely honest, never stealing a single article from the premises. I saw them at their work, and they appeared both cheerful and diligent; they were employed in grinding some wheat at a steel mill which he had put up, and the remuneration he made them for their labour was their regular meals, as much as they could eat, which was no inconsiderable quantity, and a fish-hook on their return home every evening; with which they were perfectly satisfied. Mr. Kendall had already got two scholars under his care, both fine boys, quick and docile, and who promised in some time to make great improvement. He applied himself to the instruction of these, with a zealous ardour that plainly shewed he was not influenced by mercenary motives

[Image of page 16]

in engaging himself for the situation he held.

The twenty-second being the Sabbath, Mr. Marsden performed divine service in the morning, under the shade of a fine spreading tree close to the sea-shore, when we all were present; but, contrary to their usual custom, there were comparatively but very few of the natives in attendance. It surprised us very much that Duaterra, whom we had never before found remiss on these solemn occasions, and who always punctually made his appearance, together with his people, since our arrival at the island, was now absent; and we could not surmise what could have been the cause of it. Korra-korra and Shunghi attended as usual, and behaved with their wonted propriety; but the chief whose presence was more particularly expected, was still missing, nor did he shew himself during the service. However, it was not very long before we ascertained the cause of this chief's absence; for while we were at dinner at Mr. Hall's, we heard a great deal of confusion and tumult among the natives, some of them shouting out with their usual clamour, and others running about the place in a state of the wildest disorder, while a party of them

[Image of page 17]

rushing in to us, informed us there was a "nuee nuee fight," and seemed surprised that we had not been aware of it before. We received this information with indifference, imagining they were only going to amuse themselves with a sham-fight, which having witnessed already, our curiosity was satisfied; but others running in and telling us that several preparations were made which to us appeared of a formidable nature, and that a great many men were coming in canoes from distant parts of the island, we became suddenly alarmed lest some of the hostile tribes had come to make an attack upon us, in which case the issue might be doubtful; for though the people here should do all in their power to protect us, still it was probable they might be overpowered by superior numbers. We were now in a state of anxious suspense, not knowing what might be the event of the contest which we had reason to suppose was fast approaching; when going out together, we saw several of the natives running about in different directions, and exhibiting all the preludes of ferocious hostility. Duaterra and Shunghi we observed coming down a hill that overlooked some part of the harbour; and on their coming

[Image of page 18]

up to us we were told by the former, that a great body of people were advancing from the North Cape, and would soon arrive; but with their intentions he was not yet acquainted, nor could he tell for what object they had set out, whether hostile or otherwise. Unwilling to depart without knowing the issue of this affair, we resolved to remain as long as we could with safety before we retired to the ship; and having every thing in readiness for our escape upon any emergency, we waited the meeting of the two parties. Duaterra's warriors having all assembled, 3

[Image of page 19]

by this time were drawn out round their chief in military array; and they certainly appeared a formidable band, being all armed with their spears and pattoo pattoos, and dressed in their war-mats. Each of these warriors had his hair bound up in the usual manner upon the crown of the head, with the gannet's feathers stuck in it; and his body besmeared with oil and red ochre. Duaterra himself was in his native dress, and painted like the rest of his countrymen; brandishing a large bill-hook in his right hand, and carrying a spear in his left. Upon second consideration, Mr. Marsden now deemed it most advisable for us to get to the ship as soon as possible, and put the master on his guard against any attack; conceiving it better that we should be distant spectators from the vessel, than to take a nearer view by remaining

[Image of page 20]

on shore, which he thought upon reflection would be much too hazardous at such a conjuncture. We had scarcely got on board, when we observed three large canoes full of people standing in for the shore; and upon inquiring of Tui, who attended us to the ship, if he thought they had come with a hostile intention, he replied in the negative; and said they were his brother's people from the Cavalles, and consequently friends. Our apprehensions being removed by this information, which was very agreeable to us, we hastened back again to observe the meeting between the parties, as we were curious to learn the business of the conference, and what could be the meaning of the formidable demonstrations we beheld on both sides, when neither party meditated an attack.

When the canoes got close enough to the shore for the people in them to land, Duaterra and all his warriors starting up with horrid yells from the place where they were sitting, ran along the shore, making furious gesticulations; and presenting their spears and muskets at the approaching party, as if to intimidate them from landing. In the midst of this tumultuous assemblage I observed the queen, who raved about with as much violent

[Image of page 21]

uproar as the wildest of them; carrying in her hand the large horse-pistol that she had in the sham-fight, and having her husband's sword-belt slung over her shoulders. They next danced to the war song, and then sat themselves down opposite to the canoes, apparently exhausted from excessive turbulence, and regarding their seeming opponents with fixed attention: while these were now resting on their paddles, and both parties continued looking at each other, without speaking a word, for at least a quarter of an hour. At length an old chief in one of the canoes was the first to break silence, and rising up with an air of consequential gravity, entered into conversation with some of his people; he then addressed himself to Duaterra, and they talked together for some time, while all the others listened with respectful attention. The subject of their conference was now explained to us. It appeared that some hostile tribes from the North Cape had cut off thirty of the people belonging to Duaterra, in a district near Doubtless Bay, of which he was the owner; and his friend now came to him with an account of the transaction, and to urge him to a prompt retaliation. This was the business that had

[Image of page 22]

brought these people; and Duaterra, as soon as he was acquainted with it, invited them all to land, which they did in a very short time, hauling up their canoes upon the beach, out of the reach of the tide.

All symptoms of hostility had now completely vanished, and the cooks being set to work, made fires in different places to dress their provisions; while the party dividing themselves into separate groups, awaited their kiki with voracious impatience. Some of these people we had seen before, when we were at the Cavalles; and the whole was, perhaps, as motley a party as could any where be met with. They consisted of men, women and children, who had all something distinctively uncouth and grotesque about them; they were attended by cats and dogs, and had brought with them besides a large stock of fish and fern-root. Korra-korra recognized among the women a relation, with whom he nosed very affectionately, and they wept over each other in the usual manner. I observed in one of the canoes a very singular fish, which the natives call cokiddie, or the spear-fish. It was about the size of a perch, and shaped very like it, except the head, which was rather

[Image of page 23]

oblong, like that of a pig; its skin was quite rough, and behind its head nature had armed it with a sharp bone, about two inches long, which it could extrude and draw in at pleasure. It was from this bone that the natives gave it the name of cokiddie, which signifies spear in their language, and therefore appropriate enough. Duaterra was so much engrossed with his new guests, that he gave us very little of his company the whole day; and seemed entirely occupied with the accounts he had received from the chief, nor did we intrude upon him to divide his attention.

As the expenses of the vessel were very heavy, Mr. Marsden conceived it would be a judicious plan to have recourse to such productions as the island afforded, for the means of defraying part of them; and as the fisheries here appeared a valuable source of profit, he resolved to take back with him to the colony as much fish as he could procure; where it would be certain to find a ready market. For this purpose he determined to go to Korra-korra's residence, which, being close to Cape Brett, an excellent fishery, was the most eligible place he could select in the Bay of Islands. We therefore took with us such articles to barter with the

[Image of page 24]

natives, as were most likely to attract their attention, and make them anxious to supply us; and got into Korra-korra's canoe, accompanied by five others, in which there were not less than fifty of the inhabitants. We also took with us two casks, one filled with salt, for the purpose of curing the fish, and the other empty, to put it in when salted. The day, which was January 23d, was uncommonly fine; and afresh breeze rising just as we were setting off, and the canoes hoisting their sails, the appearance of our little expedition was singularly curious. Our party exerting themselves at the paddle with their usual perseverance, we reached the place of our destination in about two hours and a half; the distance from Rangehoo being somewhat more than fifteen miles. The village was situated on the southern side of the entrance into the bay; and on our landing, the women, who were here quite as hospitable as we found them in the other parts, gave us the customary welcome with no less cordiality. We were now introduced to the queen of Parro, (for so I must designate Korra-korra's head wife,) as also to her sister; and the former was a lady of no very delicate appearance, but, on the contrary,

[Image of page 25]

had all the masculine roughness of the other sex. She had an infant at her breast, that looked the picture of rude health.

This place, which was called Parro, and the capital of the district to which it gave name, was a very straggling village; and the houses much inferior to those we had generally met with in our previous excursions. The inhabitants too, seemed to partake of the ruder and more impetuous character of their chief; nor had they by any means the same tractable simplicity of manner as the rest of their countrymen; being both obstinate and vehement, though at the same time friendly and hospitable. Upon an insulated rock, not far from the village, was built the hippah, to which they never resorted but when attacked by their enemies; and in such cases, from its strength and situation, they might safely retire to it as a place of security. In the evening we accompanied Korra-korra and Tui to an adjoining bay, to see them draw the nets which the chief had sent round with men to assist. We walked about two miles; and passing some lofty hills, came to two very fine plantations of coomeras, that appeared to have been cultivated with the usual exactness of the natives in this branch

[Image of page 26]

of husbandry. The bay, at which we had now arrived, was but small, and formed by one of those coves which are so numerous in all the harbours of this part of the island. It was, however, beautifully romantic; the shore being covered with shrubs and trees, as diversified in their species, and luxuriant in their growth, as any we had yet seen; some of which came gently sloping down to the water's edge, while others, following the chequered localities of the ground, rose with rugged ascent to the summit of a bill, or turned off in a devious direction to some sequestered valley. Here were two canoes, with four men and two boys. One of the men standing upon a rock to watch the fish, soon discovered a large shoal of them rippling the surface of the water, at about a quarter of a mile from the shore. Another of them went in his canoe to drive the fish into the net, one end of which was held by the man standing on the rock; while the other end being held by the man in the canoe, he let out as much as he thought necessary to embrace the shoal, hastening towards the shore at the same time; and the situation of the net in the water described a semicircle of considerable extent. But un-

[Image of page 27]

fortunately their labours proved abortive, for the shoal escaped; we caught, however, from three to four hundred fish, that bore a strong resemblance to the herring, both in shape and appearance. The net employed on this occasion, though to us it appeared of immense size, 4 Tui said was not near so large as they generally made them, and ascribed the escape of the shoal to this cause; for he thought we could not possibly have missed them, had the net been of a sufficient length to have encompassed them as far as they extended.

The fish we had taken being thrown into the canoes, we went round to Parro, through a communication which the bay has with the entrance of the harbour; and arrived there between ten and eleven o'clock: the moon shining with a mild but vivid light, and enabling us to find our way in safety. We were very much pleased with the activity and steadiness of the two boys who had accompanied us; they shewed considerably more judgment in the management of the

[Image of page 28]

net than we could have expected from lads of so early an age; and they evinced, in other respects, a shrewd intelligence, far beyond the compass of their years. The four men who had been of our party, were all rungateedas, as Tui took care to inform us, for these people never forget to acquaint you with their own dignity, and that of their friends; nor do I suppose there is any country in the world where family pride is more predominant than in New Zealand: not excepting even Spain itself, with all its haughty grandees, or Germany with its host of pompous barons. The Governor having appropriated one of his houses for us to sleep in, which was not tabooed against the profane, we laid ourselves down to rest with a log of wood for our pillow, and no other covering than our great-coats. But we found no fault with our accommodation, and were enjoying profound repose, when about the hour of midnight we were suddenly awakened by Korra-korra and Tui, who came to inform us that they were obliged to leave us that very instant to go to fight; but more they could not then explain, and immediately departed, telling us they would very soon return. This news was as unexpected as it

[Image of page 29]

was alarming, and for my part I could not help thinking our situation extremely perilous, though I believe my friend entertained no serious apprehensions. To escape at that hour to the ship was utterly impracticable; and should the chief and his brother be cut off in any immediate rencounter, the danger to us might be imminent, as it was more than probable we should fall into the hands of the hostile party, who would come with enraged vengeance to demolish the village, and from whom we could expect little mercy. These disquieting reflections occurred to me frequently through the remainder of the night; while at the same time I felt tacitly amused with the confident promise made to us by our two friends, that they would speedily return; not appearing to consider that the issue of the anticipated conflict might be doubtful, and that the spear or pattoo pattoo might effectually prevent their ever coming back.

The morning of the twenty-fourth at length appeared, and served in a great measure to dispel the gloom that hung over my mind; though the brothers had not yet returned from their nocturnal expedition, nor gent us any account of their proceedings.

[Image of page 30]

However, while we were now in some doubt of their safety, they proved as good as their word; and returned about noon, accompanied by their uncle, old Bennee, and a great number of his warriors. Mr. Marsden and myself congratulating them on their safe return, requested they would now inform us what the particular urgency was, that occasioned them to set off to fight at so unseasonable an hour; when Tui told us that it was all a false alarm: that upon receiving information which they then believed to be correct, but which afterwards turned out to be groundless, of a hostile tribe having come from the interior to attack some of their friends, they thought it necessary to proceed against them, without losing a moment; but that on getting to the place they found no enemies to oppose. He moreover assured Mr. Marsden that he was so weary and disgusted with living in such a harassing state of insecurity, that he would go back to Port Jackson, and never more think of revisiting New Zealand. This was not the only instance in which Tui expressed the strongest disapprobation of the lawless practices and barbarous polity of his native land; while he admired our regulations and customs, from

[Image of page 31]

the effects he saw them produce at the colony, but where, I am sorry to say, their superiority is but imperfectly exemplified in the propagation of good morals.

1   Very little tabooed.
2   Very much tabooed.
3   The chiefs may command the services of their respective tribes at any time they think proper, when they assemble equipped and prepared, without ever questioning for what object they are called together; evincing the most zealous attachment to their rulers, and ready either to be led by them to scenes of blood and ruthless carnage, or to execute for them upon all occasions the gentler offices of peaceful life. It may be here proper to notice that a census, or rather a muster of the whole adult male population, is made at stated periods of the year, when the rungateedas, who are all treated with the greatest respect, assist in numbering off the cookees, in the same manner as a Serjeant does the soldiers of his company, Mr. Marsden, who, among other particulars, received an accurate account of this regulation from Duaterra, thus describes it, in a letter to a friend. "The chiefs muster all their men at particular times of the year. The great muster is taken after the potatoe harvest. The ground from which the potatoes have been lately dug is cleared of the stones and weeds, and all levelled; upon this ground they all assemble, men, women and children. The men are all drawn up like a regiment or army, and stand in ranks five, six, or seven deep, according to the will of the chief. Then one of the head officers or rungateedas begins to muster them, not by calling over the names, but by passing in front of the ranks, and telling their number. At the head of every hundred men he places a rungateeda, and continues in this manner to number the whole, leaving a rungateeda with each hundred men: thus ten rungateedas answer for a thousand men; the women and children are never mustered."
4   Captain Cook, speaking of one of their nets, says, "It was five fathom deep, and by the room it took up it could not be less than three or four hundred fathom long."-- Hawksworth's edition of Cook's Voyages, vol. ii, p. 369.

Previous section | Next section