Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Long White Cloud by William Pember Reeves

Part 1 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.



By William Pember Reeves

Agent-General In London for New Zealand


[Illustration: Frontispiece.


Photo by W.F. CRAWFORD.]


I believe that there is amongst the people of the Mother Country a
minority, now ceasing to be small, which takes a quickening interest
in the Colonies. It no longer consists merely of would-be investors,
or emigrants who want to inquire into the resources, industries, and
finances of one or other of the self-governing parts of the Empire.
Many of its members never expect to see a colony. But they have come
to recognise that those new-comers into the circle of civilized
communities, the daughter nations of Britain, are not unworthy of
English study and English pride. They have begun to suspect that
the story of their struggles into existence and prosperity may be
stirring, romantic, and interesting, and that some of their political
institutions and experiments may be instructive, though others may
seem less safe than curious. Some of those who think thus complain
that it is not always easy to find an account of a colony which shall
be neither an official advertisement, the sketch of a globe-trotting
impressionist, nor yet an article manufactured to order by some honest
but untravelled maker of books. They ask--or at least some of them, to
my knowledge, ask--for a history in which the picturesque side of the
story shall not be ignored, written simply and concisely by a writer
who has made a special study of his subject, or who has lived and
moved amongst the places, persons, and incidents he describes.

I have lived in New Zealand, have seen it and studied it from end to
end, and have had to do with its affairs: it is my country. But I
should not have presumed to endeavour to supply in its case the want
above indicated had any short descriptive history of the colony from
its discovery to the present year been available. Among the many
scores of books about the Islands--some of which are good, more of
which are bad--I know of none which does what is aimed at in this
volume. I have, therefore, taken in hand a short sketch-history of
mine, published some six months ago, have cut out some of it and have
revised the rest, and blended it with the material of the following
chapters, of which it forms nearly one-third. The result is something
not quite so meagre in quantity or staccato in style, though even now
less full than I should have liked to make it, had it been other than
the work of an unknown writer telling the story of a small archipelago
which is at once the most distant and well-nigh the youngest of
English states. I have done my best in the later chapters to describe
certain men and experiments without letting personal likes and
dislikes run away with my pen; have taken pains to avoid loading my
pages with the names of places and persons of no particular interest
to British readers; and at the same time have tried not to forget the
value of local colour and atmosphere in a book of this kind.

If _The Long White Cloud_ should fail to please a discerning public,
it will not prove that a good, well-written history of a colony like
New Zealand is not wanted, and may not succeed, but merely that I have
not done the work well enough. That may easily be, inasmuch as until
this year my encounters with English prose have almost all taken the
form of political articles or official correspondence. Doubtless these
do not afford the best possible training. But of the quality of the
material awaiting a capable writer there can be no question. There,
ready to his hand, are the beauty of those islands of mid-ocean, the
grandeur of their Alps and fiords, the strangeness of the volcanic
districts, the lavishness, yet grace, of the forests; the mixture of
quaintness, poetry, and ferocity in the Maori, and the gallant drama
of their struggle against our overwhelming strength; the adventures
of the gold-seekers and other pioneers; the high aims of the colony's
founders, and the venturesome democratic experiments of those who have
succeeded them. If in these there is not the stuff for a fine book,
then I am most strangely mistaken. And if I have failed in the
following pages, then let me hope that some fellow-countryman, and
better craftsman, will come to the rescue, and will do with a firmer
hand and a lighter touch the work attempted here.


I have to thank Major-General Robley, not only for drawing the
tail-piece to the second chapter, and thereby giving the book a minute
but correct pattern of the Maori _moko_ or face-tattooing, but for
kindly lending me photographs and drawings from which several other
illustrations have been taken. Two or three of the tail-pieces are
after designs in Mr. Hamilton's _Maori Art_. I have also to thank
Mr. A. Martin of Wanganui for his kind permission to use his fine
photograph of Mount Egmont and a view on a "papa" river. Mr. W.F.
Crawford was good enough to put at my disposal his photograph of
the Te Reinga waterfall, a view which will be new even to most New
Zealanders. The portrait of Major Kemp and that of a Muaopoko Maori
standing by a carved canoe-prow were given to me by Sir Walter Buller.
"A New Zealand Settler's Home" was the gift of Mr. Winckleman of
Auckland, well known amongst New Zealand amateur photographers. I have
also gratefully to acknowledge the photographs which are the work
of Mr. Josiah Martin of Auckland, Messrs. Beattie and Sanderson of
Auckland, Mr. Iles of the Thames, and Mr. Morris of Dunedin, and to
thank Messrs. Sampson, Low and Co. for the use of the blocks from
which the portraits of Sir Harry Atkinson and the Hon. John McKenzie
are taken.


Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XIX

Chapter XX

Chapter XXI

Chapter XXII

Chapter XXIII


List of Illustrations

Te Reinga Waterfall

A Western Alpine Valley

The White Terrace, Rotomahana

On a River--"Papa" Country

Maori and Carved Bow of Canoe

A Maori Maiden

Stern of Canoe

Maori Wahine

Carved Gateway of Maori Village

Mount Egmont, Taranaki

View of Nelson

Sir George Grey

The Curving Coast

War Map


Major Kemp

Kauri Pine Tree

The Hon. John Mackenzie

Sir Harry Atkinson

A New Zealand Settler's Home

Picton--Queen Charlotte's Sound

The Hon. John Balance

Te Waharoa. Henare Kaihau, M.H.R. Hon. James Carroll,
M.H.R. Right Hon. R.J. Seddon (_Premier_). Mahuta (_The
Maori "King"_)

Maoris Conveying Guests in a Canoe

A Rural State School

Map of New Zealand

Chapter I


[Footnote 1: Ao-Tea-Roa, the Maori name of New Zealand.]

"If to her share some female errors fall,
Look on her face--and you'll forget them all."

Though one of the parts of the earth best fitted for man, New Zealand
was probably about the last of such lands occupied by the human race.
The first European to find it was a Dutch sea-captain who was looking
for something else, and who thought it a part of South America, from
which it is sundered by five thousand miles of ocean. It takes its
name from a province of Holland to which it does not bear the remotest
likeness, and is usually regarded as the antipodes of England, but is
not. Taken possession of by an English navigator, whose action, at
first adopted, was afterwards reversed by his country's rulers, it was
only annexed at length by the English Government which did not want
it, to keep it from the French who did. The Colony's capital bears the
name of a famous British commander, whose sole connection with the
country was a flat refusal to aid in adding it to the Empire. Those
who settled it meant it to be a theatre for the Wakefield Land
System. The spirit of the land laws, however, which its settlers have
gradually developed is a complete negation of Wakefield's principle.
Some of the chief New Zealand settlements were founded by Church
associations; but the Colony's education system has long been purely
secular. From the first those who governed the Islands laboured
earnestly to preserve and benefit the native race, and on the whole
the treatment extended to them has been just and often generous--yet
the wars with them were long, obstinate, and mischievous beyond
the common. The pioneer colonists looked upon New Zealand as an
agricultural country, but its main industries have turned out to be
grazing and mining. From the character of its original settlers it was
expected to be the most conservative of the colonies; it is just now
ranked as the most democratic. Not only by its founders, but for many
years afterwards, Irish were avowedly or tacitly excluded from the
immigrants sent to it. Now, however, at least one person in eight in
the Colony is of that race.

It would be easy to expand this list into an essay on the vanity
of human wishes. It would not be hard to add thereto a formidable
catalogue of serious mistakes made both in England and New Zealand by
those responsible for the Colony's affairs--mistakes, some of which,
at least, seem now to argue an almost inconceivable lack of knowledge
and foresight. So constantly have the anticipations of its officials
and settlers been reversed in the story of New Zealand that it becomes
none too easy to trace any thread of guiding wisdom or consistent
purpose therein. The broad result, however, has been a fine and
vigorous colony. Some will see in its record of early struggles,
difficulties and mistakes endured, paid for and surmounted, a signal
instance of the overruling care of Providence. To the cynic the tale
must be merely a minor portion of the "supreme ironic procession with
laughter of gods in the background." To the writer it seems, at least,
to give a very notable proof of the collective ability of a colonizing
race to overcome obstacles and repair blunders. The Colony of New
Zealand is not a monument of the genius of any one man or group of
men. It is the outcome of the vitality and industry of a people
obstinate but resourceful, selfish but honest, often ill-informed and
wrong, but with the saving virtue of an ability to learn from their
own mistakes.

From one standpoint the story of New Zealand ought not to take long to
tell. It stretches over less time than that of almost any land with
any pretensions to size, beauty, or interest. New Zealand was only
discovered by Europeans in the reign of our King Charles I., and even
then the Dutch explorer who sighted its lofty coasts did not set foot
upon them. The first European to step on to its shores did so only
when the great American colonies were beginning to fret at the ties
which bound them to England. The pioneers of New Zealand colonization,
the missionaries, whalers, and flax and timber traders, did not come
upon the scene until the years of Napoleon's decline and fall. Queen
Victoria had been on the throne for three years before the Colonial
Office was reluctantly compelled to add the Islands to an Empire which
the official mind regarded as already overgrown.

Yet so striking, varied, and attractive are the country's features, so
full of bustle, change and experiment have its few years been, that
lack of material is about the last complaint that need be made by a
writer on New Zealand. The list of books on the Colony is indeed so
long that its bibliography is a larger volume than this; and the chief
plea to be urged for this history must be its brevity--a quality none
too common in Colonial literature.

A New Zealander writing in London may be forgiven if he begins by
warning English readers not to expect in the aspect of New Zealand
either a replica of the British Islands or anything resembling
Australia. The long, narrow, mountainous islands upon which Abel
Jansen Tasman stumbled in December, 1642, are so far from being the
antipodes of Britain that they lie on an average twelve degrees nearer
the equator. Take Liverpool as a central city of the United Kingdom;
it lies nearly on the 53rd parallel of north latitude. Wellington, the
most central city of New Zealand, is not far from the 41st parallel of
southern latitude. True, New Zealand has no warm Gulf Stream to wash
her shores. But neither is she chilled by east winds blowing upon her
from the colder half of a continent. Neither her contour nor climate
is in the least Australian. It is not merely that twelve hundred miles
of ocean separate the flat, rounded, massive-looking continent from
the high, slender, irregular islands. The ocean is deep and stormy.
Until the nineteenth century there was absolutely no going to and
fro across it. Many plants are found in both countries, but they are
almost all small and not in any way conspicuous. Only one bird of
passage migrates across the intervening sea. The dominating trees of
Australia are myrtles (called eucalypts); those of New Zealand are
beeches (called birches), and various species of pines. The strange
marsupials, the snakes, the great running birds, the wild dogs
of Australia, have no counterpart in New Zealand. The climate
of Australia, south of Capricorn, is, except on the eastern and
south-eastern coast, as hot and dry as the South African. And the
Australian mountains, moderate in height and flattened, as a rule, at
the summit, remind one not a little of the table-topped elevations so
familiar to riders on the veldt and karroo. The western coast of New
Zealand is one of the rainiest parts of the Empire. Even the drier
east coast only now and then suffers from drought On the west coast
the thermometer seldom rises above 75 deg. in the shade; on the other not
often above 90 deg.. New Zealand, too, is a land of cliffs, ridges, peaks,
and cones. Some of the loftier volcanoes are still active, and the
vapour of their craters mounts skyward above white fields of eternal
snow. The whole length of the South Island is ridged by Alpine ranges,
which, though not quite equal in height to the giants of Switzerland,
do not lose by comparison with the finest of the Pyrenees.

No man with an eye for the beautiful or the novel would call Australia
either unlovely or dull. It is not, however, a land of sharp and
sudden contrasts: New Zealand is.

The Australian woods, too, are park-like: their trees, though
interesting, and by no means without charm, have a strong family
likeness. Their prevailing colours are yellow, brown, light green, and
grey. Light and heat penetrate them everywhere.

The cool, noiseless forests of New Zealand are deep jungles, giant
thickets, like those tropic labyrinths where traveller and hunter have
to cut their path through tangled bushes and interlacing creepers.
Their general hue is not light but dark green, relieved, it is true,
by soft fern fronds, light-tinted shrubs, and crimson or snow-white
flowers. Still the tone is somewhat sombre, and would be more
noticeably so but for the prevalent sunshine and the great variety of
species of trees and ferns growing side by side. The distinction of
the forest scenery may be summed up best in the words dignity and
luxuriance. The tall trees grow close together. For the most part
their leaves are small, but their close neighbourhood hinders this
from spoiling the effect. The eye wanders over swell after swell, and
into cavern after cavern of unbroken foliage. To the botanist who
enters them these silent, stately forests show such a wealth of
intricate, tangled life, that the delighted examiner hardly knows
which way to turn first.


Photo by MORRIS, Dunedin.]

As a rule the lower part of the trunks is branchless; stems rise up
like tall pillars in long colonnades. But this does not mean that they
are bare. Climbing ferns, lichens, pendant grasses, air-plants, and
orchids drape the columns. Tough lianas swing in air: coiling roots
overspread the ground. Bushes, shrubs, reeds and ferns of every size
and height combine to make a woven thicket, filling up and even
choking the spaces between trunk and trunk. Supple, snaky vines writhe
amid the foliage, and bind the undergrowth together.

The forest trees are evergreens, and even in mid-winter are
fresh-looking. The glowing autumnal tints of English woods are never
theirs; yet they show every shade of green, from the light of the
puriri to the dark of the totara, from the bronze-hued willow-like
leaves of the tawa to the vivid green of the matai, or the soft
golden-green of the drooping rimu. Then, though the ground-flowers
cannot compare in number with those of England or Australia,[1]
the Islands are the chosen land of the fern, and are fortunate in
flowering creepers, shrubs, and trees. There are the koromiko bush
with white and purple blossoms, and the white convolvulus which covers
whole thickets with blooms, delicate as carved ivory, whiter than
milk. There are the starry clematis, cream-coloured or white, and the
manuka, with tiny but numberless flowers. The yellow kowhai, seen
on the hillsides, shows the russet tint of autumn at the height of
spring-time. Yet the king of the forest flowers is, perhaps, the
crimson, feathery rata. Is it a creeper, or is it a tree? Both
opinions are held; both are right. One species of the rata is an
ordinary climber; another springs sometimes from the ground, sometimes
from the fork of a tree into which the seed is blown or dropped.
Thence it throws out long rootlets, some to earth, others which wrap
round the trunk on which it is growing. Gradually this rata becomes a
tree itself, kills its supporter, and growing round the dead stick,
ends in almost hiding it from view.

[Footnote 1: The Alps, however, show much floral beauty, and the
ground-flowers of the Auckland Islands, an outlying group of New
Zealand islets, impressed the botanist Kirk as unsurpassed in the
South Temperate Zone.]

In the month of February, when the rata flowers in the Alps, there are
valleys which are ablaze for miles with

"Flowers that with one scarlet gleam
Cover a hundred leagues, and seem
To set the hills on fire."

But the most gorgeous of all flowering trees, as distinguished from
creepers, is the sea-loving pohutu kawa. When the wind is tossing its
branches the contrast is startling between its blood-red flowers and
the dark upper side and white, downy under side of its leaves.

Like the Australians, New Zealand Colonists call their forest "bush."
What in England might be called bush or brushwood is called "scrub" in
the Colonies.

The wood of many of the trees is not only useful timber, but when cut
and polished is often beautiful in grain. Unhappily, their destruction
goes on with rapid strides. The trees, as is usually the case with
those the wood of which is hard, grow slowly. They feel exposure to
wind, and seem to need the society and shelter of their fellows. It is
almost impossible to restore a New Zealand forest when once destroyed.
Then most of the finest trees are found on rich soil. The land is
wanted for grazing and cultivation. The settler comes with axe and
fire-stick, and in a few hours unsightly ashes and black funereal
stumps have replaced the noble woods which Nature took centuries
to grow. No attempt is made to use a great part of the timber. The
process is inevitable, and in great part needful, frightfully wasteful
as it seems. But the forest reserves of the Colony, large as they are,
should be made even more ample. Twelve hundred thousand acres are not
enough--as the New Zealanders will regretfully admit when a decade or
so hence they begin to import timber instead of exporting it. As for
interfering with reserves already made, any legislator who suggests
it should propose his motion with a noose round his neck, after the
laudable custom followed in a certain classic republic.

New Zealand is by no means a flat country, though there are in it some
fair-sized plains, one of which--that of Canterbury--is about as flat
a stretch of one hundred miles as is to be found in the world. On the
whole, however, both North and South Islands are lands of the mountain
and the flood, and not only in this, but in the contour of some of
their peaks and coast-line, show more than a fanciful resemblance to
the west of Scotland. But the New Zealand mountains are far loftier
than anything in the British Islands. The rocky coasts as a rule rise
up steeply from the ocean, standing out in many places in bold bluffs
and high precipices. The seas round are not shallow, dull, or turbid,
but deep, blue, wind-stirred, foam-flecked, and more often than not
lit by brilliant sunshine. The climate and colouring, too, are not
only essentially un-English, but differ very widely in different parts
of the Islands. For New Zealand, though narrow, has length, stretching
through 13 degrees of latitude, and for something like 1,100 miles
from north to south. As might be looked for in a mountainous country,
lying in the open ocean, the climate is windy, and except in two or
three districts, moist. It is gloriously healthy and briskly cheerful.
Summed up in one word, its prevailing characteristic is light!

Hot as are many summer days, they are seldom sultry enough to breed
the heavy, overhanging heat-haze which shrouds the heaven nearer the
tropics. Sharp as are the frosts of winter nights in the central and
southern part of the South Island, the days even in mid-winter
are often radiant, giving seven or eight hours of clear, pleasant
sunshine. For the most part the rains are heavy but not prolonged;
they come in a steady, business-like downpour, or in sharp, angry
squalls; suddenly the rain ceases, the clouds break, and the sun is
shining from a blue sky. Fogs and mists are not unknown, but are rare
and passing visitors, do not come to stay, and are not brown and
yellow in hue but more the colour of a clean fleece of wool. They
do not taste of cold smoke, gas, sulphur, or mud. High lying and
ocean-girt, the long, slender islands are lands of sunshine and the
sea. It is not merely that their coast-line measures 4,300 miles, but
that they are so shaped and so elevated that from innumerable hilltops
and mountain summits distant glimpses may be caught of the blue salt
water. From the peak of Aorangi, 12,350 feet in air, the Alpine
climber Mannering saw not only the mantle of clouds which at that
moment covered the western sea twenty miles away, but a streak of blue
ocean seventy miles off near Hokitika to the north-west, and by the
hills of Bank's Peninsula to the north-east, a haze which indicated
the Eastern Ocean. Thus, from her highest peak, he looked right across
New Zealand. The Dutch, then, its discoverers, were not so wrong in
naming it Zealand or Sea-land.

Next to light, perhaps the chief characteristic of the country and its
climate is variety. Thanks to its great length the north differs much
from the south. Southland is as cool as northern France, with an
occasional southerly wind as keen as Kingsley's wild north-easter. But
in gardens to the north of Auckland I have stood under olive trees
laden with berries. Hard by were orange trees, figs, and lemon trees
in full bearing. Not far off a winding tidal creek was fringed with
mangroves. Exotic palm trees and the cane-brake will grow there
easily. All over the North Island, except at high altitudes, and in
the more sheltered portions of the South Island, camellias and azaleas
bloom in the open air. The grape vine bids fair to lead to wine-making
in both islands--unless the total abstainers grow strong enough to put
their foot on the manufacture of alcohol in any form in an already
distinctly and increasingly sober Colony.

But in New Zealand not only is the north in marked contrast with the
south, but the contrast between the east and west is even more sharply
defined. As a rule the two coasts are divided by a broad belt of
mountainous country. The words "chain" and "spine" are misnomers, at
any rate in the South Island, inasmuch as they are not sufficiently
expressive of breadth. The rain-bringing winds in New Zealand blow
chiefly from the north-west and south-west. The moisture-laden clouds
rolling up from the ocean gather and condense against the western
flanks of the mountains, where an abundant rainfall has nourished
through ages past an unbroken and evergreen forest. Nothing could well
be more utterly different than these matted jungles of the wet west
coast--with their prevailing tint of rich dark green, their narrow,
rank, moist valleys and steep mountain sides--and the eastern scenery
of the South Island. The sounds or fiords of the south-west are
perhaps the loveliest series of gulfs in the world. Inlet succeeds
inlet, deep, calm, and winding far in amongst the steep and towering
mountains. The lower slopes of these are clothed with a thick tangle
of forest, where foliage is kept eternally fresh and vivid by rain and
mist. White torrents and waterfalls everywhere seam the verdure and
break the stillness.

Cross to the east coast.

Scarcely is the watershed passed when the traveller begins to enter a
new landscape and a distinct climate. The mountains, stripped of their
robe of forest, seem piled in ruined, wasting heaps, or stand out
bleak and bare-ribbed,

"The skeletons of Alps whose death began
Far in the multitudinous centuries."

Little is left them but a kind of dreary grandeur. The sunshine falls
on patches of gleaming snow and trailing mist, and lights up the grey
crags which start out like mushrooms on the barren slopes. On all
sides streams tear down over beds of the loose shingle, of which they
carry away thousands of tons winter after winter. Their brawling is
perhaps the only sound you will hear through slow-footed afternoons,
save, always, the whistle or sighing of the persistent wind. A stunted
beech bush clothes the spurs here and there, growing short and thick
as a fleece of dark wool. After a storm the snow will lie powdering
the green beech trees, making the rocks gleam frostily and sharpening
the savage ridges till they look like the jagged edges of stone axes.
Only at nightfall in summer do the mountains take a softer aspect.
Then in the evening stillness the great outlines show majesty; then
in the silence after sunset rivers, winding among the ranges in many
branches over broad, stony beds, fill the shadowy valleys with their
hoarse murmur.

To the flock-owner, however, this severe region is what the beautiful
West is not--it is useful. Sheep can find pasture there. And as the
mountains decline into hills, and the hills into downs and flats, the
covering of herbage becomes less and less scanty. When the colonists
came to the east coast, they found plains and dales which were open,
grassy, almost treeless. Easy of access, and for the most part
fertile, they were an ideal country for that unaesthetic person,
the practical settler. Flocks and herds might roam amongst the pale
tussock grass of the slopes and bottoms without fear either of man,
beast, climate, or poisonous plant.[1] A few wooden buildings and
a certain extent of wire fencing represented most of the initial
expenses of the pioneer. Pastoral settlement speedily overran such a
land, followed more slowly and partially by agriculture. The settler
came, not with axe and fire to ravage and deform, but as builder,
planter and gardener. Being in nineteen cases out of twenty a Briton,
or a child of one, he set to work to fill this void land with
everything British which he could transport or transplant His gardens
were filled with the flowers, the vegetables, the fruit trees of the
old land. The oak, the elm, the willow, the poplar, the spruce, the
ash grew in his plantations. His cattle were Shorthorns, Herefords,
and Devons. His farm horses were of the best Clydesdale and Suffolk
Punch blood. The grasses they fed upon were mixtures of cocks-foot,
timothy, rye-grass, and white clover. When it was found that the red
clover would not flourish for want of penetrating insects, the humble
bee was imported, and with compete success, as many a field now ruddy
with crimson blossom testifies. The common English bee is found
wild in the forest, where it hives in hollow trees, and robs its
competitors--the honey-eating native birds--of much of their food.
The hedges round the fields aforesaid are also English, but with a
difference. The stunted furze which beautifies English commons is at
the other end of the earth a hedge plant, which makes a thick barrier
from five to eight feet high, and, with its sweet-smelling blooms, has
made the New Zealand fields "green pictures set in frames of gold."
The very birds which rise from the clover or wheat, and nest in
the trees or hedgerows of furze or quickset, are for the most part
English--the skylark, the blackbird, finches, green and gold,
thrushes, starlings, and that eternal impudent vagabond the
house-sparrow. Heavy is the toll taken by the sparrow from the
oat-crops of his new home; his thievish nature grows blacker there,
though his plumage often turns partly white. He learns to hawk for
moths and other flying insects. Near Christchurch rooks caw in the
windy skies. Trout give excellent sport in a hundred streams, though
in the lakes they grow too gross to take the fly. Many attempts have
so far failed to acclimatise the salmon. The ova may be hatched out
successfully, but the fish when turned out into the rivers disappears.
The golden carp, however, the perch, and the rainbow trout take
readily to New Zealand. The hare increases in size and weight, and has
three and four leverets at a birth. The pheasant has spread from
end to end of the Colony. The house-fly drives back the loathsome
flesh-fly or blue-bottle, to the salvation of blankets and fresh meat.
The Briton of the south has indeed taken with him all that he could of
the old country.

[Footnote 1: The _tutu_, a danger to inexperienced sheep and cattle,
was not eaten by horses. The berries were poisonous enough to kill an
imported elephant on one occasion. Would that they had done as much
for the rabbit!]

He has also brought a few things which he wishes he had left behind.
The Hessian fly, the wire-worm, the flea, and grubs and scale insects
thrive mischievously. The black and grey rats have driven the native
rat into the recesses of the forest. A score of weeds have come, mixed
with badly-screened grass-seed, or in any of a hundred other ways. The
Scotch thistle seemed likely at one stage to usurp the whole grass
country. Acts of Parliament failed to keep it down. Nature, more
effectual, causes it to die down after running riot for a few years.
The watercress, too, threatened at one time to choke half the streams.
The sweetbriar, taking kindly to both soil and climate, not only grows
tall enough to arch over the head of a man on horseback, but covers
whole hillsides, to the ruin of pasture. Introduced, innocently
enough, by the missionaries, it goes by their name in some districts.
Rust, mildew, and other blights, have been imported along with plant
and seed. The rabbit, multiplying in millions, became a very terror
to the sheep farmers, is even yet the subject of anxious care and
inspection, and only slowly yields to fencing, poison, traps, dogs,
guns, stoats, weasels, ferrets, cats, and a host of instruments of
destruction. In poisoning the rabbit the stock-owners have well-nigh
swept the native birds from wide stretches of country. The weka, or
wood-hen, with rudimentary wings like tufts of brown feathers, whose
odd, inquisitive ways introduce it so constantly to the shepherd
and bushman, at first preyed upon the young rabbits and throve. Now
ferrets and phosphorus are exterminating it in the rabbit-infested
districts. Moreover, just as Vortigern had reason to regret that he
had called in the Saxon to drive out the Picts and Scots, so the
New Zealanders have already found the stoat and weasel but dubious
blessings. They have been a veritable Hengist and Horsa to more than
one poultry farmer and owner of lambs. In addition they do their full
share of the evil work of bird extermination, wherein they have active
allies in the rats and wild cats. On the whole, however, though
acclimatization has given the Colony one or two plagues and some minor
nuisances, it would be ridiculous to pretend that these for a moment
weigh in the scale against its good works. Most of the vegetable
pests, though they may flourish abnormally for a few years in the
virgin soil, soon become less vigorous. With the growth of population
even the rabbit ceases to be a serious evil, except to a few
half-empty tracts. The truth is that outside her forests and swamps
New Zealand showed the most completely unoccupied soil of any fertile
and temperate land on the globe. It seems possible that until about
five or six hundred years ago she had no human inhabitants whatever.
Her lakes and rivers had but few fish, her birds were not specially
numerous, her grasses were not to be compared in their nourishing
qualities with the English. Of animals there were virtually none.
Even the rat before mentioned, and the now extinct dog of the Maori
villages, were Maori importations from Polynesia not many centuries

Not only, therefore, have English forms of life been of necessity
drawn upon to fill the void spaces, but other countries have furnished
their quota. The dark eucalypt of Tasmania, with its heavy-hanging,
languid leaves, is the commonest of exotic trees. The artificial
stiffness and regularity of the Norfolk Island pine, and the
sweet-smelling golden blooms of the Australian wattle, are sights
almost as familiar in New Zealand as in their native lands. The sombre
pines of California and the macro carpa cypress cover thousands
of acres. The merino sheep brought from Spain, _via_ Saxony and
Australia, is the basis of the flocks. The black swan and magpie
represent the birds of New Holland. The Indian minah, after becoming
common, is said to be retreating before the English starling. The
first red deer came from Germany. And side by side with these
strangers and with the trees and plants which colonists call
specifically "English"--for the word "British" is almost unknown in
the Colony--the native flora is beginning to be cultivated in
gardens and grounds. Neglected by the first generation, it is better
appreciated by their children--themselves natives of the soil.

In the north and warmer island the traveller also meets sharp
contrasts. These, however, except in the provinces of Wellington and
Napier, where the Tararua-Ruahine spine plays to some extent the part
taken by the Alps in the South Island, are not so much between east
and west as between the coasts and the central plateau. For the most
part, all the coasts, except the south-east, are, or have been,
forest-clad. Nearly everywhere they are green, hilly and abundantly
watered; windy, but not plagued with extremes of cold and heat. Frost
touches them but for a short time in mid-winter.


The extreme south and north of the North Island could hardly, by any
stretch of imagination, be called rich and fertile. But the island
demonstrates the "falsehood of extremes," for between them is found
some of the finest and pleasantest land in the southern hemisphere.
Nearly all of this, however, lies within fifty miles of one or other
coast. When you have left these tracts, and have risen a thousand feet
or so, you come to a volcanic plateau, clad for the most part in dark
green and rusty bracken or tussocks of faded yellow. Right in the
centre rise the great volcanoes, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Tarawera,
majestic in their outlines, fascinating because of the restless fires
within and the outbreaks which have been and will again take place.
Scattered about this plateau are lakes of every shape and size,
from Taupo--called Te Moana (the sea) by the Maoris--to the tiniest
lakelets and ponds. Here are found pools and springs of every degree
of heat. Some are boiling cauldrons into which the unwary fall now and
again to meet a death terrible, yet--if the dying words of some of
them may be believed--not always agonizing, so completely does the
shock of contact with the boiling water kill the nervous system. Many
pools are the colour of black broth. Foul with mud and sulphur, they
seethe and splutter in their dark pits, sending up clouds of steam and
sulphurous fumes. Others are of the clearest green or deepest, purest
blue, through which thousands of silver bubbles shoot up to the
surface, flash, and vanish. But the main use of the hot
springs is found in their combination of certain chemical
properties,--sulphur-acid, sulphur-alkaline. Nowhere in the world,
probably, are found healing waters at once so powerful and so various
in their uses. Generations ago the Maori tribes knew something of
their effects. Now invalids come from far and near in hundreds and
thousands, and when the distractions and appliances of the sanitary
stations equal those of the European spas they will come in tens
of thousands, for the plateau is not only a health-resort but
a wonderland. Its geysers rank with those of Iceland and the
Yellowstone. Seen in the clear sunny air, these columns of water and
white foam, mounting, swaying, blown by the wind into silver spray,
and with attendant rainbows glittering in the light, are sights which
silence even the chattering tourist for a while. Solfataras, mud
volcanoes and fumaroles are counted in hundreds in the volcanic zone.
If there were not such curiosities, still the beauty of the mountains,
lakes, streams and patches of forest would, with the bright
invigorating air, make the holiday-maker seek them in numbers. Through
the middle of this curious region runs the Waikato, the longest and on
the whole most tranquil and useful of that excitable race the rivers
of New Zealand. Even the Waikato has its adventures. In one spot it is
suddenly compressed to a sixth of its breadth, and, boiling between
walls of rock, leaps in one mass of blue water and white foam into a
deep, tree-fringed pool below. This is the Huka Waterfall. It is but
one of the many striking falls to be met with in the Islands.

New Zealand is a land of streams of every size and kind, and almost
all these streams and rivers have three qualities in common--they are
cold, swift, and clear. Cold and swift they must be as they descend
quickly to the sea from heights more or less great. Clear they all
are, except immediately after rain, or when the larger rivers are in
flood. In flood-time most of them become raging torrents. Many were
the horses and riders swept away to hopeless death as they stumbled
over the hidden stony beds of turbid mountain crossings in the
pioneering days before bridges were. Many a foot-man--gold-seeker or
labourer wandering in search of work--disappeared thus, unseen and
unrecorded. Heavy were the losses in sheep and cattle, costly and
infuriating the delays, caused by flooded rivers. Few are the old
colonists who have not known what it is to wait through wet and weary
hours, it might be days, gloomily smoking, grumbling and watching
for some flood to abate and some ford to become passable. Even yet,
despite millions spent on public works, such troubles are not unknown.

It is difficult, perhaps, for those living in the cool and abundantly
watered British Islands to sympathise with dwellers in hotter
climates, or to understand what a blessing and beauty these continual
and never-failing watercourses of New Zealand seem to visitors from
sultrier and drier lands. The sun is quite strong enough to make men
thankful for this gift of abundant water, and to make the running
ripple of some little forest rivulet, heard long before it is seen
through the green thickets, as musical to the ears of the tired rider
as the note of the bell-bird itself. Even pleasanter are the sound and
glitter of water under the summer sunshine to the wayfarer in the open
grassy plains or valleys of the east coast. As for the number of the
streams--who shall count them? Between the mouths of the Mokau and
Patea rivers--a distance which cannot be much more than one hundred
miles of coast--no less than eighty-five streams empty themselves into
the Tasman Sea, of which some sixty have their source on the slopes
or in the chasms of Mount Egmont. Quite as many more flow down from
Egmont on the inland side, and do not reach the sea separately, but
are tributaries of two or three larger rivers.

It is true that travellers may come to the Islands and leave them with
no notion of a New Zealand river, except a raging mountain torrent,
hostile to man and beast. Or they may be jolted over this same torrent
when, shrunk and dwindled in summer heat to a mere glittering thread,
it meanders lost and bewildered about a glaring bed of hot stones. But
then railways and ordinary lines of communication are chiefly along
the coasts. The unadventurous or hurried traveller sticks pretty
closely to these. It happens that the rivers, almost without
exception, show plainer features as they near the sea.

He who wishes to see their best must go inland and find them as they
are still to be found in the North Island, winding through untouched
valleys, under softly-draped cliffs, or shadowed by forests not yet
marred by man. Or, in the South Island, they should be watched in the
Alps as, milky or green-tinted, their ice-cold currents race through
the gorges.

[Illustration: ON A RIVER--"PAPA" COUNTRY

Photo by A. MARTIN, Wanganui.]

Of forest rivers, the Wanganui is the longest and most famous, perhaps
the most beautiful. Near the sea it is simply a broad river, traversed
by boats and small steamers, and with grassy banks dotted with weeping
willows or clothed with flax and the palm-lily. But as you ascend it
the hills close in. Their sides become tall cliffs, whose feet the
water washes. From the tops of these precipices the forest, growing
denser and richer at every turn, rises on the flanks of the hills. In
places the cliffs are so steep and impracticable that the Maoris use
ladders for descending on their villages above to their canoes in the
rivers below. Lovely indeed are these cliffs; first, because of the
profusion of fern frond, leaf, and moss, growing from everything that
can climb to, lay hold of, or root itself in crack, crevice, or ledge,
and droop, glistening with spray-drops, or wave whispering in the
wind; next, because of the striking form and colour of the cliffs
themselves. They are formed of what is called "Papa." This is a
blue, calcareous clay often found with limestone, which it somewhat
resembles. The Maori word "papa" is applied to any broad, smooth,
flattish surface, as a door, or to a slab of rock. The smooth,
slab-like, papa cliffs are often curiously marked--tongued and
grooved, as with a gouge, channelled and fluted. Sometimes horizontal
lines seem to divide them into strata. Again, the lines may be winding
and spiral, so that on looking at certain cliffs it might be thought
possible that the Maoris had got from them some of their curious
tattoo patterns. Though pale and delicate, the tints of the rock are
not their least beauty. Grey, yellow, brown, fawn, terra-cotta, even
pale orange are to be noted. No photograph can give the charm of
the drapery that clothes these cliffs. Photographs give no light or
colour, and New Zealand scenery without light and colour is Hamlet
with Hamlet left out. How could a photograph even hint at the dark,
glossy green of the glistening karaka leaves, the feathery, waving
foliage of the lace bark, or the white and purple bloom of the
koromiko? How could black-and-white suggest the play of shade and
shine when, between flying clouds, the glint of sunlight falls upon
the sword-bayonet blades of the flax, and the golden, tossing plumes
of the toe-toe, the New Zealand cousin of the Pampas grass? Add to
this, that more often than the passenger can count as he goes along
the river, either some little rill comes dripping over the cliff,
scattering the sparkling drops on moss and foliage, or the cliffs are
cleft and, as from a rent in the earth, some tributary stream gushes
out of a dark, leafy tunnel of branches. Sometimes, too, the cliffs
are not cleft, but the stream rushes from their summit, a white
waterfall veiling the mossy rocks. Then there are the birds. In
mid-air is to be seen the little fan-tail, aptly named, zig-zagging
to and fro. The dark blue tui, called parson bird, from certain
throat-feathers like white bands, will sing with a note that
out-rivals any blackbird. The kuku, or wild pigeon, will show his
purple, copper-coloured, white and green plumage as he sails slowly
by, with that easy, confiding flight that makes him the cheap victim
of the tyro sportsman. The grey duck, less easy to approach, rises
noisily before boat or canoe comes within gunshot. The olive and
brown, hoarse-voiced ka-ka, a large, wild parrot, and green,
crimson-headed parakeets, may swell the list. Such is a "papa" river!
and there are many such.

Features for which the traveller in New Zealand should be prepared are
the far-reaching prospects over which the eye can travel, the sight
and sound of rapid water, and the glimpses of snow high overhead, or
far off--glimpses to be caught in almost every landscape in the South
Island and in many of the most beautiful of the North. Through the
sunny, lucid atmosphere it is no uncommon thing to see mountain peaks
sixty and eighty miles away diminished in size by distance, but with
their outlines clearly cut. From great heights you may see much longer
distances, especially on very early mornings of still midsummer days.
Then, before the air is heated or troubled or tainted, but when night
seems to have cooled and purged it from all impurity, far-off ridges
and summits stand out clean, sharp and vivid. On such mornings, though
standing low down by the sea-shore, I have seen the hills of Bank's
Peninsula between sixty and seventy miles off, albeit they are not
great mountains. Often did they seem to rise purple-coloured from the
sea, wearing "the likeness of a clump of peaked isles," as Shelley
says of the Euganean hills seen from Venice. On such a morning from
a hill looking northward over league after league of rolling virgin
forest I have seen the great volcano, Mount Ruapehu, rear up his 9,000
feet, seeming a solitary mass, the upper part distinctly seen, blue
and snow-capped, the lower bathed and half-lost in a pearl-coloured
haze. Most impressive of all is it to catch sight, through a cleft
in the forest, of the peak of Mount Egmont, and of the flanks of the
almost perfect cone curving upward from the sea-shore for 8,300 feet.
The sentinel volcano stands alone. Sunrise is the moment to see him
when his summit, sheeted with snow, is tinged with the crimson of
morning and touched by clouds streaming past in the wind. Lucky is the
eye that thus beholds Egmont, for he is a cloud-gatherer who does not
show his face every day or to every gazer. Almost as fine a spectacle
is the sight of the "Kaikouras," or "Lookers-on." When seen from the
deck of a coasting steamer they seem almost to hang over the sea
heaving more than 8,000 feet below their summits. Strangely beautiful
are these mighty ridges when the moonlight bathes them and turns the
sea beneath to silver. But more, beautiful are they still in the calm
and glow of early morning, white down to the waist, brown to the feet
with the sunshine full on their faces, the blue sky overhead, and the
bluer sea below.

If the Southern Alps surpass the Kaikouras in beauty it is because of
the contrast they show on their western flanks, between gaunt grandeur
aloft, and the softest luxuriance below. The forest climbs to the snow
line, while the snow line descends as if to meet it. So abrupt is the
descent that the transition is like the change in a theatre-scene.
Especially striking is the transformation in the passage over the
fine pass which leads through the dividing range between pastoral
Canterbury and Westland. At the top of Arthur's Pass you are among the
high Alps. The road winds over huge boulders covered with lichen,
or half hidden by koromiko, ferns, green moss, and stunted beeches,
grey-bearded and wind-beaten. Here and there among the stones are
spread the large, smooth, oval leaves and white gold-bearing cups of
the shepherd's lily. The glaciers, snowfields, and cliffs of Mount
Rolleston lie on the left. Everything drips with icy water. Suddenly
the saddle is passed and the road plunges down into a deep gulf. It is
the Otira Gorge. Nothing elsewhere is very like it. The coach zig-zags
down at a gentle pace, like a great bird slowly wheeling downwards to
settle on the earth. In a few minutes it passes from an Alpine desert
to the richness of the tropics. At the bottom of the gorge is the
river foaming among scarlet boulders--scarlet because of the lichen
which coats them. On either side rise slopes which are sometimes
almost, sometimes altogether precipices, covered, every inch of them,
with thick vegetation. High above these tower the bare crags and peaks
which, as the eye gazes upwards, seem to bend inwards, as though a
single shock of earthquake would make them meet and entomb the gorge
beneath. In autumn the steeps are gay with crimson cushion-like masses
of rata flowers, or the white blooms of the ribbon-wood and koromiko.
Again and again waterfalls break through their leafy coverts; one
falls on the road itself and sprinkles passengers with its spray. In
the throat of the gorge the coach rattles over two bridges thrown from
cliff to cliff over the pale-green torrent.

In an hour comes the stage where lofty trees succeed giant mountains.
As the first grow higher the second diminish. This is the land of
ferns and mosses. The air feels soft, slightly damp, and smells
of moist leaves. It is as different to the sharp dry air of the
Canterbury ranges as velvet is to canvas; it soothes, and in hot
weather relaxes. The black birch with dark trunk, spreading branches,
and light leaves, is now mingled with the queenly rimu, and the stiff,
small-leaved, formal white pine. Winding and hanging plants festoon
everything, and everything is bearded with long streamers of moss,
not grey but rich green and golden. Always some river rushes along in
sight or fills the ear with its noise. Tree ferns begin to appear and
grow taller and taller as the coach descends towards the sea, where in
the evening the long journey ends.

On the western coast glaciers come down to within 700 feet of the
sea-level. Even on the east side the snow is some 2,000 feet lower
than in Switzerland. This means that the climber can easily reach the
realm where life is not, where ice and snow, rock and water reign, and
man feels his littleness.

Though Aorangi has been ascended to the topmost of its 12,349 feet,
still in the Southern Alps the peaks are many which are yet unsealed,
and the valleys many which are virtually untrodden. Exploring parties
still go out and find new lakes, new passes, and new waterfalls. It
is but a few years since the Sutherland Falls, 2,000 feet high, were
first revealed to civilized man, nor was there ever a region better
worth searching than the Southern Alps. Every freshly-found nook and
corner adds beauties and interests. Falls, glaciers and lakes are on a
grand scale. The Tasman glacier is eighteen miles long and more than
two miles across at the widest point; the Murchison glacier is more
than ten miles long; the Godley eight. The Hochstetter Fall is a
curtain of broken, uneven, fantastic ice coming down 4,000 feet on to
the Tasman glacier. It is a great spectacle, seen amid the stillness
of the high Alps, broken only by the occasional boom and crash of a
falling pinnacle of ice.

Of the many mountain lakes Te Anau is the largest, Manapouri the
loveliest. Wakatipu is fifty-four miles long, and though its surface
is 1,000 feet above the sea-level, its profound depth sinks below it.
On the sea side of the mountains the fiords rival the lakes in depth.
Milford Sound is 1,100 feet deep near its innermost end.

But enough of the scenery of the Colony. This is to be a story, not a
sketch-book. Enough that the drama of New Zealand's history, now in
the second act, has been placed on one of the most remarkable and
favourable stages in the globe. Much--too much--of its wild and
singular beauty must be ruined in the process of settlement. But very
much is indestructible. The colonists are also awakening to the truth
that mere Vandalism is as stupid as it is brutal. Societies are being
established for the preservation of scenery. The Government has
undertaken to protect the more famous spots. Within recent years three
islands lying off different parts of the coast have been reserved as
asylums for native birds. Two years ago, too, the wild and virgin
mountains of the Urewera tribe were by Act of Parliament made
inalienable, so that, so long as the tribe lasts, their ferns, their
birds and their trees shall not vanish from the earth.

Chapter II


"The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on. Nor all your piety or wit
Can lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it."

The first colonists of New Zealand were brown men from the South Seas.
It was from Eastern Polynesia that the Maoris unquestionably came.
They are of the same race as the courteous, handsome people who
inhabit the South Sea Islands from Hawaii to Rarotonga, and who, in
Fiji, mingle their blood with the darker and inferior Melanesians
of the west. All the Polynesians speak dialects of the same musical
tongue. A glance at Tregear's Comparative Maori-Polynesian Dictionary
will satisfy any reader on that point. The Rarotongans call themselves
"Maori," and can understand the New Zealand speech; so, as a rule, can
the other South Sea tribes, even the distant Hawaiians. Language alone
is proverbially misleading as a guide to identity of race. But in
the case of the Polynesians we may add colour and features, customs,
legends, and disposition. All are well though rather heavily built,
active when they choose, and passionately fond of war and sport. The
New Zealanders are good riders and capital football players. The
Samoans are so fond of cricket that they will spend weeks in playing
gigantic matches, fifty a side. Bold as seamen and skilful as
fishermen, the Polynesians are, however, primarily cultivators of
the soil. They never rose high enough in the scale to be miners or
merchants. In the absence of mammals, wild and tame, in their islands,
they could be neither hunters nor herdsmen. Fierce and bloodthirsty in
war, and superstitious, they were good-natured and hospitable in peace
and affectionate in family life.

There is no reason to think that the New Zealanders are more akin to
the modern Malays than they are to the Australian blacks; nor have
attempts to connect them with the red men of America or the Toltecs
of Mexico succeeded. They are much more like some of the Aryans of
Northern India. But the truth is, their fortunes before their race
settled in Polynesia are a pure matter of guess-work. Some centuries
ago, driven out by feuds or shortness of food, they left their isles
of reef and palm, and found their way to Ao-tea-roa, as they called
New Zealand.

On the map their new home seems at first sight so isolated and remote
from the other groups of Oceania as to make it incredible that even
the most daring canoe-men could have deliberately made their
way thither. But this difficulty disappears upon a study of the
ascertained voyages of the Polynesians. Among the bravest and most
venturesome navigators of the ocean, the brown mariners studied and
named the stars, winds and currents. As allies they had those friends
of the sailor, the trade-winds. In cloudy weather, when the signs in
the sky were hidden, the regular roll of the waves before the steady
trade-wind was in itself a guide.[1] Their large double-canoes joined
by platforms on which deck-houses were built were no despicable
sea-boats, probably just as good as the vessels in which the
Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa. Even their single canoes were
sometimes between 100 and 150 feet long, and the crews of these,
wielding their elastic paddles, kept time in a fashion that has won
respect from the coxswain of a University eight. For their long
voyages they stored water in calabashes, carried roots and dried fish,
and had in the cocoa-nut both food and drink stored safely by nature
in the most convenient compass. In certain seasons they could be
virtually sure of replenishing their stock of water from the copious
tropical or semi-tropical rains. Expert fishermen, they would miss no
opportunity of catching fish by the way. They made halting-places of
the tiny islets which, often uninhabited and far removed from the
well-known groups, dot the immense waste of the Pacific at great
intervals. The finding of their stone axes or implements in such
desolate spots enables their courses to be traced. Canoe-men who could
voyage to solitary little Easter Island in the wide void towards
America, or to Cape York in the distant west, were not likely to find
insuperable difficulties in running before the north-east winds to New
Zealand from Rarotonga, Savaii or Tahiti. The discovery in the new
land of the jade or greenstone--far above rubies in the eyes of men of
the Stone Age--would at once give the country all the attractiveness
that a gold-field has for civilized man.

[Footnote 1: S. Percy Smith on _The Geographical Knowledge of the

The Maori stories of their migration to New Zealand are a mixture of
myth and legend. Among them are minute details that may be accurate,
mingled with monstrous tales of the utterly impossible. For example,
we are told that one chief, on his canoe first nearing the coast,
saw the feathery, blood-red rata-flowers gleaming in the forest, and
promptly threw overboard his Polynesian coronet of red feathers,
exclaiming that he would get a new crown in the new land. Such an
incident might be true, as might also the tale of another canoe
which approached the shore at night. Its crew were warned of the
neighbourhood of land by the barking of a dog which they had with them
and which scented a whale's carcass stranded on the beach. On the
other hand we are gravely told that the hero Gliding-Tide having
dropped an axe overboard off the shore, muttered an incantation so
powerful that the bottom of the sea rose up, the waters divided, and
the axe returned to his hand. The shoal at any rate is there, and is
pointed out to this day. And what are we to say to the tale of another
leader, whose canoe was upset in the South Seas, and who swam all the
way to New Zealand?

The traditions say that the Maori Pilgrim Fathers left the island
of Hawaiki for New Zealand about the beginning of the 15th century.
Hawaiki is probably one of the "shores of old romance." Other
Polynesian races also claim to have come thence. Mr. Percy Smith gives
good reasons for the suggestion that the ancestors of the Maoris
migrated from the Society Islands and from Rarotonga, and that their
principal migration took place about five hundred years ago. It seems
likely enough, however, that previous immigrants had gone before them.
One remnant of these, the now almost extinct Moriori, colonised the
Chatham Islands, whither they were not followed by the conquering
Maori until the present century. The two most famous of the great
double canoes of the Maori settlers were the Arawa (shark), and the
Tainui (flood-tide). On board thereof, with the men, women, and
children, were brought dogs, rats, the gourd and taro root, and the
invaluable kumara or sweet potato. The karaka tree, whose glossy,
almost oily-looking leaves were in after days to be seen in every
village, was another importation. With these tradition ranks the green
parakeet and blue pukeko or swamp-hen, two birds whose rich plumage
has indeed something in it of tropical gaudiness, at any rate in
contrast with the sober hues of most New Zealand feathers. The Tainui
canoe was said to have found its last resting-place near the mouth of
the Mokau river. A stone still lies there which is treasured by the
natives as the ancient anchor of their sacred craft. Some years ago,
when a European carried this off, they brought an action against him
and obtained an order of the Court compelling him to restore it. Not
far away stands a grove of trees alleged to have sprung from the
Tainui's skids. Certainly Sir James Hector, the first scientific
authority in the Colony, finding that these trees grow spontaneously
nowhere else in New Zealand, named them _Pomaderris Tainui_. But
though, for once, at any rate, science was not indisposed to smile
on tradition and Maori faith triumphed, and the unbeliever was for
a while confounded, it unhappily seems now quite certain that the
congener of _Pomaderris Tainui_ is found only in Australia, one of the
few lands nigh the Pacific which cannot have been Hawaiki.

It will be safe to say that the Maori colonists landed at different
points and at widely different dates, and that later immigrants
sometimes drove earlier comers inland or southward. More often,
probably, each small band sought out an empty territory for itself. On
this tribes and sub-tribes grew up, dwelling apart from each other.
Each district became the land of a clan, to be held by tomahawk and
spear. Not even temporary defeat and slavery deprived a tribe of its
land: nothing did that but permanent expulsion followed by actual
seizure and occupation by the conquerors. Failing this, the right
of the beaten side lived on, and could be reasserted after years of
exile. The land was not the property of the _arikis_ or chiefs, or
even of the _rangatiras_ or gentry. Every free man, woman and child
in each clan had a vested interest therein which was acknowledged and
respected. The common folk were not supposed to have immortal souls.
That was the distinction of the well born. But they had a right to
their undivided share of the soil. Even when a woman married into
another tribe, or--in latter days--became the wife of a white, she
did not forfeit her title, though sometimes such rights would be
surrendered by arrangement, to save inconvenience. Trade never entered
into Maori life. Buying and selling were unknown. On and by the land
the Maori lived, and he clung to it closely as any Irish peasant. "The
best death a man can die is for the land," ran a proverb. "Let us die
for the land!" shouted a chieftain, haranguing his fighting men before
one of their first battles with the English. No appeal would be more
certain to strike home.

Though the tribal estate was communal property in so far that any
member could go out into the wilderness and fell trees and reclaim the
waste, the fruits of such work, the timber and plantations, at once
became personal property. The fields, houses, weapons, tools, clothes,
and food of a family could not be meddled with by outsiders. The
territory, in a word, was common, but not only products but usufructs
were property attaching to individuals, who could transfer them by

Though in time they forgot the way to "Hawaiki," and even at last the
art of building double-canoes, yet they never wanted for pluck or
seamanship in fishing and voyaging along the stormy New Zealand
coasts. Their skill and coolness in paddling across flooded rivers may
still sometimes be witnessed.

Always needing fish, they placed their villages near the sea beaches
or the rivers and lakes. In their canoes they would paddle as far as
twelve miles from land. Amongst other fish they caught sharks, killing
them before they hauled them into the crank canoes; or, joining
forces, they would sweep some estuary with drag nets, and, with much
yelling and splashing, drive the fish into a shallow corner. There
with club and spear dog-fish and smooth-hound would be done to death
amid shouts and excitement. Then would come a gorge on a grand scale,
followed by business--the cutting into strips and drying of the
shark-meat for winter food. In the forests they found birds, and,
not having the bow-and-arrow, made shift to snare and spear them
ingeniously. To add to the vegetable staples which they had brought
with them from their Polynesian home, they used the root of the
fern or bracken, and certain wild fruits and berries--none of them
specially attractive. What between fish, birds and vegetables, with
occasional delicacies in the shape of dogs and rats, they were by no
means badly provisioned, and they cooked their food carefully and
well, chiefly by steaming in ovens lined with heated stones. Without
tea, coffee, sugar, alcohol or tobacco, they had also but seldom the
stimulant given by flesh meat. Their notorious cannibalism was almost
confined to triumphal banquets on the bodies of enemies slain in
battle. Without the aid of metals or pottery, without wool, cotton,
silk or linen, without one beast of burden, almost without leather,
they yet contrived to clothe, feed and house themselves, and to make
some advance in the arts of building, carving, weaving and dyeing.


The labour and patience needed to maintain some degree of rude comfort
and keep up any kind of organised society with the scanty means at
their disposal were very great indeed. The popular notion of the
lazy savage basking in the sunshine, or squatting round the fire
and loafing on the labour of his women, did not fairly apply to the
Maori--at any rate to the unspoiled Maori. As seen by the early
navigators, his life was one of regular, though varied and not
excessive toil. Every tribe, in most ways every village, was
self-contained and self-supporting. What that meant to a people
intelligent, but ignorant of almost every scientific appliance, and
as utterly isolated as though they inhabited a planet of their own,
a little reflection will suggest. The villagers had to be their own
gardeners, fowlers, fishermen and carpenters. They built their own
houses and canoes, and made every tool and weapon. All that they wore
as well as what they used had to be made on the spot. They did not
trade, though an exchange of gifts regulated by strict etiquette
amounted to a rude and limited kind of barter, under which inland
tribes could supply themselves with dried sea-fish and sea-birds
preserved in their melted fat, or northern tribes could acquire the
precious greenstone found in the west of the South Island.

Without flocks and herds or domestic fowls, theirs was the constant
toil of the cultivator. Their taro and their kumara fields had to be
dug, and dug thoroughly with wooden spades. Long-handled and pointed
at the end, these implements resembled stilts with a cross-bar about
eighteen inches from the ground on which the digger's foot rested. Two
men worked them together. The women did not dig the fields, but theirs
was the labour almost as severe of carrying on their backs the heavy
baskets of gravel to scatter over the soil of the plantations.

Almost the only staple article of Maori vegetable food which grew
wild and profusely was the fern or bracken _(pteris aquilina_ var.
_esculenta_), which indeed was found on every hill and moor and in
every glade, at any rate in the North Island. But the preparation of
the fibrous root was tedious, calling as it did for various processes
of drying and pounding.

Fishing involved not only the catching of fish, but the manufacture of
seine nets, sometimes half a mile long, of eel-weirs, lines made of
the fibre of the native flax, and of fish-hooks of bone or tough
crooked wood barbed with human bone. The human skeleton was also laid
under contribution for the material of skewers, needles and flutes.

The infinite patience and delicacy requisite in their bird-snaring and
spearing are almost beyond the conception of the civilized townsmen
untrained in wood-craft. To begin with, they had to make the slender
bird spears, thirty feet long, out of the light wood of the _tawa_
tree. A single tree could provide no more than two spears, and the
making of them--with stone tools of course--took many months. Think of
the dexterity, coolness and stealth required to manage such a weapon
in a jungle so dense and tangled that white sportsmen often find a
difficulty in handling their guns there! The silent adroitness needed
to approach and spear the wild parrot or wood-pigeon without stirring
the branch of a tree would alone require a long apprenticeship to

Maori house-building showed a knowledge of architecture decidedly
above that of the builders of Kaffir kraals, to say nothing of the
lairs of the Australian blacks. The poorest huts were definitely
planned and securely built. The shape was oblong, the walls low, the
roof high pitched and disproportionately large, though not so much so
as in some of the South Sea Islands. The framework was of the durable
totara-wood, the lining of reeds, the outside of dried rushes. At the
end turned to the sunshine was a kind of verandah, on to which opened
the solitary door and window, both low and small. The floor was
usually sunk below ground, and Maori builders knew of no such thing
as a chimney. Though neither cooking nor eating was done in their
dwelling-houses, and offal of all kinds was carefully kept at a decent
distance, the atmosphere in their dim, stifling interiors was as a
rule unendurable by White noses and lungs. Even their largest tribal
or meeting halls had but the one door and window; the Maori mind
seemed as incapable of adding thereto, as of constructing more than
one room under a single roof. On the other hand, the dyed patterns
on the reed wainscoting, and the carvings on the posts, lintel and
boards, showed real beauty and a true sense of line and curve.

Still less reason is there to find fault with their canoes, the larger
of which were not only strangely picturesque, but, urged by as many as
a hundred paddles, flew through the water at a fine speed, or under
sail made long coasting voyages in seas that are pacific only in name.
To the carving on these crafts the savage artists added decoration by
red ochre, strips of dyed flax, gay feathers and mother-o'-pearl. Both
the building of the canoes and their adornment entailed long months of
labour. So did the dressing of the fibre of the flax and palm-lily,
and the weaving therefrom of "mats" or mantles, and of kirtles. Yet
the making of such ordinary clothing was simple indeed compared to the
manufacture of a chief's full dress mat of _kiwi_ feathers. The soft,
hairy-looking plumage of the _kiwi_ (apteryx) is so fine, each feather
so minute, that one mantle would occupy a first-rate artist for two
years. Many of these mantles, whether of flax, feathers or dog-skin,
were quaintly beautiful as well as warm and waterproof.

Nor did Maori skill confine itself to ornamenting the clothing of
man. The human skin supplied a fresh and peculiar field for durable
decoration. This branch of art, that of Moko or tattooing, they
carried to a grotesque perfection. Among the many legends concerning
their demi-god Maui, a certain story tells how he showed them the way
to tattoo by puncturing the muzzle of a dog, whence dogs went with
black muzzles as men see them now. For many generations the patterns
cut and pricked on the human face and body were faithful imitations
of what were believed to be Maui's designs. They were composed of
straight lines, angles, and cross-cuts. Later the hero Mataora taught
a more graceful style which dealt in curves, spirals, volutes and
scroll-work. Apart from legend it is a matter of reasonable certitude
that the Maoris brought tattooing with them from Polynesia. Their
marking instruments were virtually the same as those of their tropical
cousins; both, for instance, before the iron age of the nineteenth
century, often used the wing-bones of sea-birds to make their tiny
chisels. Both observed the law of _tapu_ under which the male
patients, while undergoing the process of puncturing, were sacred,
immensely to their own inconvenience, for they had to dwell apart, and
might not even touch food with their hands. As to the source of the
peculiar patterns used by the New Zealanders, they probably have some
relation with the admirable wood-carving before mentioned. Either
the Moko artists copied the style of the skilful carvers of panels,
door-posts, clubs, and the figure-heads on the prows of canoes, or the
wood-carvers borrowed and reproduced the lines and curves of the Moko.
The inspiration of the patterns, whether on wood or skin, may be found
in the spirals of sea-shells, the tracery on the skin of lizards and
the bark of trees, and even, it may be, in the curious fluting and
natural scroll-work on the tall cliffs of the calcareous clay called

But, however the Moko artist learned his designs, he was a painstaking
and conscientious craftsman in imprinting them on his subject. No
black-and-white draughtsman of our time, no wood-cutter, etcher, or
line-engraver, worked with slower deliberation. The outlines were
first drawn with charcoal or red ochre. Thus was the accuracy of curve
and scroll-work ensured. Then, inch by inch, the lines were cut or
pricked out on the quivering, but unflinching, human copper-plate.
The blood was wiped away and the _narahu_ (blue dye) infused. In the
course of weeks, months, or years, as leisure, wealth, or endurance
permitted, the work was completed. In no other society did the artist
have his patron so completely at his mercy. Not only was a Moko expert
of true ability a rarity for whose services there was always an
"effective demand," but, if not well paid for his labours, the
tattooer could make his sitter suffer in more ways than one. He could
adroitly increase the acute anguish which had, as a point of honour,
to be endured without cry or complaint; or he could coolly bungle the
execution of the design, or leave it unfinished, and betake himself to
a more generous customer. A well-known tattooing chant deals with the
subject entirely from the artist's standpoint, and emphasises the
business principles upon which he went to work. It was this song that
Alfred Domett (Robert Browning's Waring) must have had in his mind
when, in his New Zealand poem, he thus described the Moko on the face
of the chief Tangi-Moana:--

"And finer, closer spirals of dark blue
Were never seen than in his cheek's tattoo;
Fine as if engine turned those cheeks declared
No cost to fee the artist had been spared;
That many a basket of good maize had made
That craftsman careful how he tapped his blade,
And many a greenstone trinket had been given
To get his chisel-flint so deftly driven."

When, however, the slow and costly agony was over, the owner of an
unusually well-executed face became a superior person. He united in
himself the virtues and vices of a chieftain of high degree (shown by
the elaborateness of his face pattern), of a tribal dandy, of a brave
man able to endure pain, of the owner of a unique picture, and of an
acknowledged art critic. In the rigid-looking mask, moreover, which
had now taken the place of his natural face were certain lines by
which any one of his fellow-tribesmen could identify him living or
dead. In this way the heads of Maori chiefs have been recognised
even in the glass cases of museums. On some of the earlier deeds and
agreements between White and Maori, a chief would sign or make his
mark by means of a rough reproduction of his special Moko.

The Maori _pas_ or stockaded and intrenched villages, usually perched
on cliffs and jutting points overhanging river or sea, were defended
by a double palisade, the outer fence of stout stakes, the inner of
high solid trunks. Between them was a shallow ditch. Platforms as
much as forty feet high supplied coigns of vantage for the look-out.
Thence, too, darts and stones could be hurled at the besiegers. With
the help of a throwing-stick, or rather whip, wooden spears could
be thrown in the sieges more than a hundred yards. Ignorant of the
bow-and-arrow and the boomerang, the Maoris knew and used the sling.
With it red-hot stones would be hurled over the palisades, among the
rush-thatched huts of an assaulted village, a stratagem all the more
difficult to cope with as Maori _pas_ seldom contained wells or
springs of water. The courage and cunning developed in the almost
incessant tribal feuds were extraordinary. Competent observers thought
the Maoris of two generations ago the most warlike and ferocious race
on earth. Though not seldom guilty of wild cruelty to enemies, they
did not make a business of cold-blooded torture after the devilish
fashion of the North American Indians. Chivalrous on occasion, they
would sometimes send warning to the foe, naming the day of an intended
attack, and abide thereby. They would supply a starving garrison with
provisions in order that an impending conflict might be a fair trial
of strength. War was to them something more dignified than a mere
lawless struggle. It was a solemn game to be played according to rules
as rigidly laid down and often as honourably adhered to as in
the international cricket and football matches of Englishmen and

As is so often the case with fighting races capable of cruelty, they
were strictly courteous in their intercourse with strangers. Indeed,
their code of manners to visitors was so exact and elaborate as to
leave an impression of artificiality. No party of wayfarers would
approach a _pa_ without giving formal notice. When the strangers were
received, they had the best of everything, and the hosts, who saw that
they were abundantly supplied, had too much delicacy to watch them
eat. Maori breeding went so far as to avoid in converse words or
topics likely to be disagreeable to their hearers.

Their feeling for beauty was shown not merely in their art, but in
selecting the sites of dwelling-places, and in a fondness for shady
shrubs and trees about their huts and for the forest-flowers. The
natural images and similes so common in their wild, abrupt, unrhymed
chants and songs showed how closely they watched and sympathised with
nature. The hoar-frost, which vanishes with the sunrise, stood with
them for ephemeral fame. Rank without power was "a fountain without
water." The rushing stream reminded the Maori singer, as it did the
Mantuan, of the remorseless current of life and human fate.

"But who can check life's stream?
Or turn its waters back?
'Tis past,"

cried a father mourning for his dead son. In another lament a grieving
mother is compared to the drooping fronds of the tree-fern. The maiden
keeping tryst bids the light fleecy cloudlets, which in New Zealand so
often scud across the sky before the sea-wind, to be messengers to her
laggard gallant.

"The sun grows dim and hastes away
As a woman from the scene of battle,"

says the lament for a dead chief.[1] The very names given to hills,
lakes, and rivers will be witnesses in future days of the poetic
instinct of the Maori--perhaps the last destined to remain in his
land. Such names are the expressive Wai-orongo-mai (Hear me, ye
waters!); Puke-aruhe (ferny hill); Wai-rarapa (glittering water);
Maunga-tapu (sacred mount); Ao-rere (flying cloud). Last, but not
least, there is the lordly Ao-rangi (Cloud in the heavens), over which
we have plastered the plain and practical "Mount Cook."

[Footnote 1: The Maori is deeply imbued with the poetry of the woods.
His commonest phraseology shows it. 'The month when the pohutu-kawa
flowers'; 'the season when the kowhai is in bloom'; so he punctuates
time. And the years that are gone he softly names' dead leaves!'--HAY,
_Brighter Britain_.]

Many of the Maori chiefs were, and some even now are, masterly
rhetoricians. The bent of the race was always strongly to controversy
and discussion. Their ignorance of any description of writing made
them cultivate debate. Their complacent indifference to time made
deliberative assembly a prolonged, never-wearying joy. The chiefs
met in council like Homer's heroes--the commons sitting round and
muttering guttural applause or dissent. The speeches abounded in short
sententious utterances, in proverbs, poetic allusions and metaphors
borrowed from legends. The Maori orator dealt in quotations as freely
as the author of the _Anatomy of Melancholy_, and his hearers caught
them with as much relish as that of a House of Commons of Georgian
days enjoying an apt passage from the classics. Draped in kilt and
mantle, with spear or carved staff of office in the right hand, the
speakers were manly and dignified figures. The fire and force of their
rhetoric were not only aided by graceful gesture but were set out in a
language worthy of the eloquent. If we cannot say of the Maori tongue
as Gibbon said of Greek, that it "can give a soul to the objects of
sense and a body to the abstractions of philosophy," we can at any
rate claim for it that it is a musical and vigorous speech. Full of
vowel-sounds, entirely without sibilants, but rich in guttural and
chest notes, it may be made at will to sound liquid or virile, soft or

The seamy side of Maori life, as of all savage life, was patent to the
most unimaginative observer. The traveller found it not easy to dwell
on the dignity, poetry and bravery of a race which contemned washing,
and lived, for the most part, in noisome hovels. A chief might be an
orator and skilled captain, but, squatting on the ground, smeared with
oil, daubed with red ochre and grimly tattooed, he probably impressed
the white visitor chiefly as an example of dirt and covetousness. The
traveller might be hospitably entertained in a _pa_ the gate of which
was decorated with the smoke-dried heads of slain enemies by a host
whose dress might include a necklace of human teeth,[1] the owner of
which he had helped to eat. Though a cannibal feast was a rare orgie,
putrid food was a common dainty. Without the cringing manner of the
Oriental, the Maori had his full share of deceitfulness. Elaborate
treachery is constantly met with in the accounts of their wars. If
adultery was rare, chastity among the single women was rarer still.
The affection of parents for young children was requited by no
kindness on the part of youth for old age. Carving never rose higher
than grotesque decoration. The attempts at portraying the human face
or form resulted only in the monstrous and the obscene.

[Footnote 1: At any rate among the Ngatiporou tribe.]

[Illustration: A MAORI MAIDEN

Photo by ILES, Thames]

The Maori men are as a rule tall and bulky, long-bodied and
short-legged, and with fairly large pyramidal skulls, showing
well-developed perceptive faculties. Their colour varies from maize to
dusky olive, and their features from classic to negroid; but usually
the nose, though not flat, is wide, and the mouth, though not
blubber-lipped, is heavy and sensual. Shorter and more coarsely built
than the males, the women, even when young, are less attractive to the
European eye, despite their bright glances and black, abundant hair.
It might well be thought that this muscular, bulky race, with ample
room to spread about a fertile and exceptionally healthy country,
would have increased and multiplied till it had filled both islands.
It did not, however. It is doubtful whether it ever numbered more than
a hundred and fifty thousand. Except on the shores of Cook's Straits,
it only planted a few scattered outposts in the South Island. Yet that
is the larger island of the two. It is also the colder, and therein
lies at least one secret of the check to the Maori increase. They were
a tropical race transplanted into a temperate climate. They showed
much the same tendency to cling to the North Island as the negroes in
North America to herd in the Gulf States. Their dress, their food and
their ways were those of dwellers on shores out of reach of frost and
snow. Though of stout and robust figure, they are almost always weak
in the chest and throat. Should the Maoris die out, the medical
verdict might be summed up in the one word tuberculosis.

The first European observers noted that they suffered from "galloping"
consumption. Skin disorders, rheumatism and a severe kind of influenza
were other ailments.

In the absence equally of morality and medical knowledge among their
unmarried women, it did not take many years after the appearance of
the Whites to taint the race throughout with certain diseases. A
cold-blooded passage in Crozet's journal tells of the beginning of
this curse. Though not altogether unskilful surgeons, the Maoris knew
virtually nothing of medicine. Nor do they show much nervous power
when attacked by disease. Cheerful and sociable when in health, they
droop quickly when ill, and seem sometimes to die from sheer lack
of the will to live. Bright and imaginative almost as the Kelts of
Europe, their spirits are easily affected by superstitious dread.
Authentic cases are known of a healthy Maori giving up the ghost
through believing himself to be doomed by a wizard.

There are, however, other evil influences under which this attractive
and interesting people are fading away. Though no longer savages, they
have never become thoroughly civilized. Partial civilization has been
a blight to their national life. It has ruined the efficacy of their
tribal system without replacing it with any equal moral force and
industrial stimulus. It has deprived them of the main excitement of
their lives--their tribal wars--and given them no spur to exertion
by way of a substitute. It has fatally wounded their pride and
self-respect, and has not given them objects of ambition or preserved
their ancient habits of labour and self-restraint. A hundred years ago
the tribes were organized and disciplined communities. No family or
able-bodied unit need starve or lack shelter; the humblest could count
on the most open-handed hospitality from his fellows. The tribal
territory was the property of all. The tilling, the fishing, the
fowling were work which could not be neglected. The chief was not a
despot, but the president of a council, and in war would not be given
the command unless he was the most capable captain. Every man was a
soldier, and, under the perpetual stress of possible war, had to be a
trained, self-denying athlete. The _pas_ were, for defensive reasons,
built on the highest and therefore the healthiest positions. The
ditches, the palisades, the terraces of these forts were constructed
with great labour as well as no small skill. The fighting was hand to
hand. The wielding of their weapons--the wooden spear, the club,
the quaint _mere_[1] and the stone tomahawk--required strength and
endurance as well as a skill only to be obtained by hard practice. The
very sports and dances of the Maori were such as only the active and
vigorous could excel in. Slaves were there, but not enough to relieve
the freemen from the necessity for hard work. Strange sacred customs,
such as _tapu_ (vulgarly Anglicized as taboo) and _muru_, laughable as
they seem to us, tended to preserve public health, to ensure respect
for authority, and to prevent any undue accumulation of goods and
chattels in the hands of one man. Under the law of _muru_ a man
smitten by sudden calamity was politely plundered of all his
possessions. It was the principle under which the wounded shark is
torn to pieces by its fellows, and under which the merchant wrecked on
the Cornish coast in bye-gone days was stripped of anything the waves
had spared. Among the Maoris, however, it was at once a social duty
and a personal compliment. If a man's hut caught fire his dearest
friends clustered round like bees, rescued all they could from the
flames, and--kept it. It is on record that a party about to pay a
friendly visit to a neighbour village were upset in their canoe as
they were paddling in through the surf. The canoe was at once claimed
by the village chief--their host. Moreover they would have been
insulted if he had not claimed it. Of course, he who lost by _muru_
one week might be able to repay himself the next.

[Footnote 1: Tasman thought the mere resembled the _parang_, or heavy,
broad-bladed knife, of the Malays. Others liken it to a paddle, and
matter-of-fact colonists to a tennis-racket or a soda-water bottle

Certain colonial writers have exhausted their powers ridicule--no very
difficult task--upon what they inaccurately call Maori communism. But
the system, in full working order, at least developed the finest race
of savages the world has seen, and taught them barbaric virtues which
have won from their white supplanters not only respect but liking.
The average colonist regards a Mongolian with repulsion, a Negro with
contempt, and looks on an Australian black as very near to a wild
beast; but he likes the Maoris, and is sorry that they are dying out.

No doubt the remnants of the Maori tribal system are useless, and
perhaps worse than useless. The tribes still own land in common, and
much of it. They might be very wealthy landlords if they cared to
lease their estates on the best terms they could bargain for. As it
is, they receive yearly very large sums in rent. They could be rich
farmers if they cared to master the science of farming. They have
brains to learn more difficult things. They might be healthy men
and women if they would accept the teachings of sanitary science
as sincerely as they took in the religious teachings of the early
missionaries. If they could be made to realize that foul air,
insufficient dress, putrid food, alternations of feast and famine, and
long bouts of sedulous idleness are destroying them as a people and
need not do so, then their decay might be arrested and the fair hopes
of the missionary pioneers yet be justified. So long as they soak
maize in the streams until it is rotten and eat it together with dried
shark--food the merest whiff of which will make a white man sick;
so long as they will wear a suit of clothes one day and a tattered
blanket the next, and sit smoking crowded in huts, the reek of which
strikes you like a blow in the face; so long as they will cluster
round dead bodies during their _tangis_ or wakes; so long as they
will ignore drainage--just so long will they remain a blighted and
dwindling race, and observers without eyes will talk as though there
was something fateful and mysterious in their decline. One ray of hope
for them has quite lately been noted. They are caring more for the
education of their children. Some three thousand of these now go
to school, not always irregularly. Very quaint scholars are the
dark-eyed, quick-glancing, brown-skinned little people sitting tied
"to that dry drudgery at the desk's dull wood," which, if heredity
counts for anything, must be so much harder to them than to the
children of the _Pakeha_.[1] Three years ago the Government
re-organized the native schools, had the children taught sanitary
lessons with the help of magic lanterns, and gave power to committees
of native villagers to prosecute the parents of truants. The result
has been a prompt, marked and growing improvement in the attendance
and the general interest. Better still, the educated Maori youths are
awakening to the sad plight of their people. Pathetic as their regrets
are, the healthy discontent they show may lead to better things.

[Footnote 1: Foreigner.]


Chapter III


"Dreaming caves
Full of the groping of bewildered waves."

The Maori mind conceived of the Universe as divided into three
regions--the Heavens above, the Earth beneath, and the Darkness under
the Earth. To Rangi, the Heaven, the privileged souls of chiefs and
priests returned after death, for from Rangi had come down their
ancestors the gods, the fathers of the heroes. For the souls of the
common people there was in prospect no such lofty and serene abode.
They could not hope to climb after death to the tenth heaven, where
dwelt Rehua, the Lord of Loving-kindness, attended by an innumerable
host. Ancient of days was Rehua, with streaming hair. The lightning
flashed from his arm-pits, great was his power, and to him the sick,
the blind, and the sorrowful might pray.

It was not the upper world of Ao or Light, but an under world of Po or
Darkness, to which the spirit of the unprivileged Maori must take its
way. Nor was the descent to Te Reinga or Hades a _facilis descensus
Averni_. After the death-chant had ceased, and the soul had left the
body--left it lying surrounded by weeping blood-relations marshalled
in due order--it started on a long journey. Among the Maoris the dead
were laid with feet pointing to the north, as it was thither that the
soul's road lay. At the extreme north end of New Zealand was a spot
_Muri Whenua_--Land's End. Here was the Spirits' Leap. To that the
soul travelled, halting once and again on the hill-tops to strip off
the green leaves in which the mourners had clad it. Here and there by
the wayside some lingering ghost would tie a knot in the ribbon-like
leaves of the flax plant--such knots as foreigners hold to be made
by the whipping of the wind. As the souls gathered at their goal,
nature's sounds were hushed. The roar of the waterfall, the sea's
dashing, the sigh of the wind in the trees, all were silenced. At the
Spirits' Leap on the verge of a tall cliff grew a lonely tree, with
brown, spreading branches, dark leaves and red flowers. The name of
the tree was Spray-Sprinkled.[1] One of its roots hung down over
the cliff's face to the mouth of a cavern fringed by much sea-weed,
floating or dripping on the heaving sea. Pausing for a moment the
reluctant shades chanted a farewell to their fellow-men and danced a
last war-dance. Amid the wild yells of the invisible dancers could be
heard the barking of their dogs. Then, sliding down the roots, the
spirits disappeared in the cave. Within its recesses was a river
flowing between sandy shores. All were impelled to cross it. The
Charon of this Styx was no man, but a ferrywoman called Rohe. Any
soul whom she carried over and who ate the food offered to it on the
further bank was doomed to abide in Hades. Any spirit who refused
returned to its body on earth and awoke. This is the meaning of what
White men call a trance.

[Footnote 1: _Pohutu-kawa_.]

As there were successive planes and heights in Heaven, so there were
depths below depths in the Underworld. In the lowest and darkest the
soul lost consciousness, became a worm, and returning to earth, died
there. Eternal life was the lot of only the select few who ascended to

Yet once upon a time there was going and coming between earth and the
place of darkness, as the legend of the origin of the later style of
tattooing shows. Thus the story runs. The hero Mata-ora had to wife
the beautiful Niwa Reka. One day for some slight cause he struck her,
and, leaving him in anger, she fled to her father, who dwelt in the
Underworld. Thither followed the repentant Mata-ora. On his way he
asked the fan-tail bird whether it had seen a human being pass. Yes, a
woman had gone by downcast and sobbing. Holding on his way, Mata-ora
met his father-in-law, who, looking in his face, complained that he
was badly tattooed. Passing his hand over Mata-ora's face he wiped out
with his divine power the blue lines there, and then had him thrown
down on the ground and tattooed in a novel, more artistic and
exquisitely agonizing fashion. Mata-ora in his pain chanted a song
calling upon his wife's name. Report of this was carried to Niwa Reka,
and her heart was touched. She forgave her husband, and nursed him
through the fever caused by the tattooing. Happier than Orpheus and
Eurydice, the pair returned to earth and taught men to copy the
patterns punctured on Mata-ora's face. But, alas! in their joy they
forgot to pay to Ku Whata Whata, the mysterious janitor of Hades, Niwa
Reka's cloak as fee. So a message was sent up to them that henceforth
no man should be permitted to return to earth from the place of
darkness. In the age of the heroes not only the realms below but the
realms above could be reached by the daring. Hear the tale of Tawhaki,
the Maori Endymion! When young he became famous by many feats, among
others, by destroying the submarine stronghold of a race of sea-folk
who had carried off his mother. Into their abode he let a flood of
sunshine, and they, being children of the darkness, withered and died
in the light. The fame of Tawhaki rose to the skies, and one of the
daughters of heaven stole down to behold him at night, vanishing away
at dawn. At last the celestial one became his wife. But he was not
pleased with the daughter she bore him and, wounded by his words, she
withdrew with her child to the skies. Tawhaki in his grief remembered
that she had told him the road thither. He must find a certain tendril
of a wild vine which, hanging down from the sky to earth, had become
rooted in the ground. Therefore with his brother the hero set out on
the quest, and duly found the creeper. But there were two tendrils.
The brother seized the wrong one; it was loose, and he was swung away,
whirled by the wind backwards and forwards from one horizon to the
other. Tawhaki took the right ladder, and climbed successfully.[1] At
the top he met with adventures, and had even to become a slave, and
carry axes and firewood disguised as a little, ugly, old man. At last,
however, he regained his wife, became a god, and still reigns above.
It is he who causes lightning to flash from heaven.

[Footnote 1: Another version describes his ladder as a thread from
a spider's web; a third as the string of his kite, which he flew so
skilfully that it mounted to the sky; then Tawhaki, climbing up the
cord, disappeared in the blue vault.]

The man in the moon becomes, in Maori legend, a woman, one Rona by
name. This lady, it seems, once had occasion to go by night for water
to a stream. In her hand she carried an empty calabash. Stumbling in
the dark over stones and the roots of trees she hurt her shoeless feet
and began to abuse the moon, then hidden behind clouds, hurling at
it some such epithet as "You old tattooed face, there!" But the
moon-goddess heard, and reaching down caught up the insulting Rona,
calabash and all, into the sky. In vain the frightened woman clutched,
as she rose, the tops of a ngaio-tree. The roots gave way, and Rona
with her calabash and her tree are placed in the front of the moon for
ever, an awful warning to all who are tempted to mock at divinities in
their haste.

All beings, gods, heroes and men, are sprung from the ancient union of
Heaven and Earth, Rangi and Papa. Rangi was the father and Earth the
great mother of all. Even now, in these days, the rain, the snow, the
dew and the clouds are the creative powers which come down from Rangi
to mother Earth and cause the trees, the shrubs and the plants to grow
in spring and flourish in summer. It is the self-same process that is
pictured in the sonorous hexameters:--

"Tum pater omnipotens fecundis imbribus Aether
Coniugis in gremium laetae descendit, et omnes
Magnus alit, magno commixtus corpore, fetus."

But in the beginning Heaven lay close to the Earth and all was dim
and dark. There was life but not light. So their children, tired of
groping about within narrow and gloomy limits, conspired together
to force them asunder and let in the day. These were Tu, the
scarlet-belted god of men and war, Tane, the forest god, and their
brother, the sea-god. With them joined the god of cultivated food,
such as the kumara, and the god of food that grows wild--such as the
fern-root. The conspirators cut great poles with which to prop up
Heaven. But the father and mother were not to be easily separated.
They clung to each other despite the efforts of their unnatural sons.
Then Tane, the tree-god, standing on head and hands, placed his feet
against Heaven and, pushing hard, forced Rangi upwards. In that
attitude the trees, the children of Tane, remain to this day. Thus was
the separation accomplished, and Rangi and Papa must for ever remain
asunder. Yet the tears of Heaven still trickle down and fall as
dew-drops upon the face of his spouse, and the mists that rise in the
evening from her bosom are the sighs of regret which she sends up to
her husband on high.[1]

[Footnote 1: Sir George Grey, _Polynesian Mythology_.]

Vengeance, however, fell upon the conspirators. A sixth brother had
had nothing to do with their plot. This was Tawhiri-Matea, the god
of winds and storms. He loyally accompanied his father to the realms
above, whence he descended on his rebel brothers in furious tempests.
The sea-god fled to the ocean, where he and his children dwell
as fishes. The two gods of plant-food hid in the Earth, and she,
forgiving mother that she was, sheltered them in her breast. Only Tu,
the god of mankind, stayed erect and undaunted. So it is that the
winds and storms make war to this day upon men, wrecking their canoes,
tearing down their houses and fences and ruining all their handiwork.
Not only does man hold out against these attacks, but, in revenge for
the cowardly desertion of Tu by his weaker brethren, men, his people,
prey upon the fish and upon the plants that give food whether wild or

Space will scarcely permit even a reference to other Maori myths--to
the tale, for instance, of the great flood which came in answer to the
prayers of two faithful priests as punishment for the unbelief, the
discords and the wickedness of mankind; then all were drowned save a
little handful of men and women who floated about on a raft for eight
moons and so reached Hawaiki. Of the creation of man suffice it to say
that he was made by Tiki, who formed him out of red clay, or, as some
say, out of clay reddened by his own blood. Woman's origin was more
ethereal and poetic; her sire was a noonday sunbeam, her mother a
sylvan echo. Many are the legends of the hero, Maui. He lassooed the
sun with ropes and beat him till he had to go slower, and so the day
grew longer. The first ropes thus used were of flax, which burned and
snapped in the sun's heat. Then Maui twisted a cord of the tresses of
his sister, Ina, and this stayed unconsumed. It was Maui who went to
fetch for man's use the fire which streamed from the finger-nails of
the fire goddess, and who fished up the North Island of New Zealand,
still called by the Maoris _Te Ika a Maui_, the fish of Maui. He first
taught tattooing and the art of catching fish with bait, and died in
the endeavour to gain immortality for men. Death would have been done
away with had Maui successfully accomplished the feat of creeping
through the body of a certain gigantic goddess. But that flippant and
restless little bird, the fan-tail, was so tickled at the sight of the
hero crawling down the monster's throat that it tittered and burst
into laughter. So the goblin awoke, and Maui died for man in vain.

Such are some of the sacred myths of the Maori. They vary very greatly
in different tribes and are loaded with masses of detail largely
genealogical. The religious myths form but one portion of an immense
body of traditional lore, made up of songs and chants, genealogies,
tribal histories, fables, fairy-tales and romantic stories. Utterly
ignorant as the Maoris were of any kind of writing or picture-drawing,
the volume of their lore is amazing, and is an example of the power of
the human memory when assiduously cultivated. Very great care was,
of course, taken to hand it down from father to son in the priestly
families. In certain places in New Zealand, notably at Wanganui,
sacred colleges stood called Whare-kura (Red-house). These halls had
to be built by priestly hands, stood turned to the east, and could
only be approached by the purified. They were dedicated by sacrifice,
sometimes of a dog, sometimes of a human being. The pupils, who were
boys of high rank, went, at the time of admission, through a form
of baptism. The term of instruction lasted through the autumns and
winters of five years. The hours were from sunset to midnight. Only
one woman, an aged priestess, was admitted into the hall, and she only
to perform certain incantations. No one might eat or sleep there, and
any pupil who fell asleep during instruction was at once thrust
forth, was expected to go home and die, and doubtless usually did so.
Infinite pains were taken to impress on the pupils' memories the exact
wording of traditions. As much as a month would be devoted to constant
repetitions of a single myth. They were taught the tricks of
the priestly wizard's trade, and became expert physiognomists,
ventriloquists, and possibly, in some cases, hypnotists. Public
exhibitions afterwards tested the accuracy of their memories and
their skill in witchcraft. On this their fate depended. A successful
_Tohunga_, or wizard, lived on the fat of the land; a few failures,
and he was treated with discredit and contempt.

Though so undoubted an authority as Mr. William Colenso sums up the
old-time Maori as a secularist, it is not easy entirely to agree with
him. Not only had the Maori, as already indicated, an elaborate--too
elaborate--mythology, but he had a code of equally wide and minute
observances which he actually did observe. Not only had he many gods
both of light and evil, but the Rev. James Stack, a most experienced
student, says that he conceived of his gods as something more than
embodiments of power--as beings "interested in human affairs and able
to see and hear from the highest of the heavens what took place on
earth." Mr. Colenso himself dwells upon the Maori faith in dreams,
omens, and charms, and on the universal dread felt for _kehuas_
or ghosts, and _atuas_ or demon spirits. Moreover, the code of
observances aforesaid was no mere secular law. It was the celebrated
system of _tapu_ (taboo), and was not only one of the most
extraordinary and vigorous sets of ordinances ever devised by
barbarous man, but depended for its influence and prestige not mainly
upon the secular arm or even public opinion, but upon the injunction
and support of unseen and spiritual powers. If a man broke the _tapu_
law, his punishment was not merely to be shunned by his fellows or--in
some cases--plundered of his goods. Divine vengeance in one or other
form would swiftly fall upon him--probably in the practical shape of
the entry into his body of an evil spirit to gnaw him to death with
cruel teeth. Men whose terror of such punishment as this, and whose
vivid faith in the imminence thereof, were strong enough to kill them
were much more, or less, than secularists.

The well-known principle that there is no potent, respected, and
lasting institution, however strange, but has its roots in practical
usefulness, is amply verified in the case of _tapu_. By it authority
was ensured, dignity hedged about with respect, and property and
public health protected. Any person, place or thing laid under _tapu_
might not be touched, and sometimes not even approached. A betrothed
maiden defended by _tapu_ was as sacred as a vestal virgin of Rome; a
shrine became a Holy Place; the head of a chief something which it was
sacrilege to lay hands on. The back of a man of noble birth could not
be degraded by bearing burdens--an awkward prohibition in moments when
no slave or woman happened to be in attendance on these lordly beings.
Anything cooked for a chief was forbidden food to an inferior. The
author of _Old New Zealand_ tells of an unlucky slave who unwittingly
ate the remains of a chiefs dinner. When the knowledge of this
frightful crime was flashed upon him, he was seized with internal
cramps and pains and, though a strong man, died in a few hours. The
weapons and personal effects of a chief were, of course, sacred even
in the opinion of a thief, but _tapu_ went further. Even the fire a
chief had lit might not be used by commoners. As for priests, after
the performance of certain ceremonies they for a time had perforce to
become too sacred to feed themselves with their hands. Food would be
laid down before them and kneeling, or on all-fours like dogs, they
had to pick it up with their teeth. Perhaps their lot might be so far
mitigated that a maiden would be permitted to convey food to their
mouths on the end of a fern-stalk--a much less disagreeable process
for the eater. Growing fields of the sweet potato were sacred for
obvious reasons, as were those who were working therein. So were
burial-places and the bones of the dead. The author above-mentioned
chancing one day on a journey to pick up a human skull which had been
left exposed by a land-slide, immediately became an outcast shunned by
acquaintances, friends and his own household, as though he were a very
leper. Before he could be officially cleansed and readmitted into
decent Maori society, his clothing and furniture had to be destroyed,
and his kitchen abandoned. By such means did this--to us--ridiculous
superstition secure reverence for the dead and some avoidance of
infection. To this end the professional grave-digger and corpse-bearer
of a Maori village was _tapu_, and lived loathed and utterly apart.
Sick persons were often treated in the same way, and inasmuch as the
unlucky might be supposed to have offended the gods, the victims
of sudden and striking misfortune were treated as law-breakers and
subjected to the punishment of _Muru_ described in the last chapter.

Death in Maori eyes was not the Great Leveller, as with us. Just
as the destiny of the chief's soul was different from that of the
commoner or slave, so was the treatment of his body.

A slave's death was proverbially that of a dog, no man regarded it.
Even the ordinary free man was simply buried in the ground in a
sitting posture and forgotten. But the departure of a chief of rank
and fame, of great _mana_ or prestige, was the signal for national
mourning. With wreaths of green leaves on their heads, friends sat
round the body wailing the long-drawn cry, _Aue! Aue!_ or listening to
some funeral chant recited in his praise. Women cut themselves with
sharp sea-shells or flakes of volcanic glass till the blood ran down.
The corpse sat in state adorned with flowers and red ochre and clad in
the finest of mantles. Albatross feathers were in the warrior's
hair, his weapons were laid beside him. The onlookers joined in the
lamenting, and shed actual tears--a feat any well-bred Maori could
perform at will. Probably a huge banquet took place; then it was held
to be a truly great _tangi_. Often the wives of the departed killed
themselves in their grief, or a slave was sacrificed in his honour.
His soul was believed to mount aloft, and perhaps some star was
henceforth pointed out as his eye shining down and watching over
his tribe. The tattooed head of the dead man was usually reverently
preserved--stored away in some secret recess and brought out by the
priest to be gazed upon on high occasions. The body, placed in a
canoe-shaped coffin, was left for a time to dry on a stage or moulder
in a hollow tree. After an appointed period the bones were scraped
clean and laid away in a cavern or cleft known only to a sacred few.
They might be thrown down some dark mountain abyss or _torere_. Such
inaccessible resting-places of famous chiefs--deep well-like pits or
tree-fringed chasms--are still pointed out to the traveller who climbs
certain New Zealand summits. But, wherever the warrior's bones were
laid, they were guarded by secrecy, by the dreaded _tapu_, and by the
jealous zeal of his people. Even now no Maori tribe will sell such
spots, and the greedy or inquisitive _Pakeha_ who profanely explores
or meddles with them does so at no small risk.

Far different was the fate of those unlucky leaders who fell in
battle, or were captured and slaughtered and devoured thereafter.
Their heads stuck upon the posts of the victor's _pa_ were targets for

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest