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A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827 by Augustus Earle

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[Illustration: A New Zealand War Speech. (From a sketch by A. Earle.)]






IN 1827





Whitecombe & Tombs Limited

Christchurch, Wellington, and Dunedin, N.Z.;

Melbourne and London



The author of this account of New Zealand in the year 1827 was an artist
by profession. "A love of roving and adventure," he states, tempted him,
at an early age, to sea. In 1815 he procured a passage on board a
storeship bound for Sicily and Malta, where he had a brother stationed
who was a captain in the navy. He visited many parts of the
Mediterranean, accompanying Lord Exmouth's fleet in his brother's gunboat
on his Lordship's first expedition against the Barbary States. He
afterwards visited the ruins of Carthage and the remains of the ancient
city of Ptolomea, or Lepida, situated in ancient Libya. Returning to
Malta, he passed through Sicily, and ascended Mount Etna. In 1818 he left
England for the United States, and spent nearly two years in rambling
through that country. Thence he proceeded to Brazil and Chile, returning
to Rio de Janeiro, where he practised his art until the commencement of
1824. Having received letters of introduction to Lord Amherst, who had
left England to undertake the government of India, Mr. Earle left Rio for
the Cape of Good Hope, intending to take his passage thence to Calcutta.
On the voyage to the Cape the vessel by which he was a passenger touched
at Tristan d'Acunha, and was driven off that island in a gale while Mr.
Earle was ashore, leaving him stranded in that desolate land, where he
remained for six months, when he was rescued by a passing ship, the
"Admiral Cockburn," bound for Van Diemen's Land, whence he visited New
South Wales and New Zealand, returning again to Sydney. In pursuance of
his original resolution to visit India, he left Sydney in "The Rainbow,"
touching at the Caroline Islands, Manilla, and Singapore. After spending
some time in Madras, where he executed many original drawings, which were
afterwards copied and exhibited in a panorama, he set out for England by
a French vessel, which was compelled by stress of weather to put into
Mauritius, where she was condemned. Mr. Earle ultimately reached England
in a vessel named the "Resource," but, being still animated by the desire
for travel, he accepted the situation of draughtsman on His Majesty's
ship "Beagle," commanded by Captain Fitzroy, which in the year 1831 left
on a voyage of discovery that has been made famous by the observations of
Charles Darwin, who accompanied the expedition in the capacity of

The notes which furnished the materials for this book were made by Mr.
Earle during his first visit to New Zealand, in 1827. They are valuable
as setting forth the impressions formed by an educated man, who came into
the primitive community then existing at Hokianga and the Bay of Islands,
without being personally connected either with the trading community,
the missionaries, or the whalers. It should not be inferred from the
reflections Mr. Earle casts upon the missionaries that he was himself an
irreligious man, because the journal of his residence on Tristan d'Acunha
shows that, while living there, he read the whole service of the Church
of England to that little community every Sunday, and his diary in many
places exhibits a reverence for Divine things. It may, however, be said
in extenuation of the lack of hospitality on the part of the missionaries
of which he complains, that many of the early residents and European
visitors to New Zealand were of an undesirable class, and that they
exercised a demoralising influence upon the Maoris. It was not easy for
the missionaries to consort, upon terms of intimacy, with their
fellow-countrymen whose relations with the Natives were such as they must
strongly condemn. Earle's narrative is interesting because it conveys a
realistic description of the Maoris before their national customs and
habits had undergone any material change through association with white
settlers. In dealing with Maori names, Mr. Earle, having at that period
no standard of orthography to guide him, followed the example of Captain
Cook in spelling words phonetically. Except in the case of certain
well-known places the original spelling has been retained in the present
edition of his book.























































































































A Maori War Speech (Frontispiece)
Patuone, a Hokianga Chief
Mission Station, Kerikeri
Scene of Boyd Massacre
Maori War Expedition
Maori Method of Tattooing
Specimens of Tattooing
Whalers at Bay of Islands



Having made up my mind to visit the island of New Zealand, and having
persuaded my friend Mr. Shand to accompany me, we made an arrangement for
the passage with Captain Kent, of the brig Governor Macquarie, and,
bidding adieu to our friends at Sydney, in a few hours (on October 20th,
1827) we were wafted into the great Pacific Ocean.

There were several other passengers on board, who were proceeding to New
Zealand to form a Wesleyan missionary establishment at Hokianga. Amongst
these were a Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs, who were most enthusiastic in the cause.
They had formerly belonged to the same mission at Whangaroa, when a war
which took place amongst the natives totally destroyed their
establishment; and, after enduring great varieties of suffering, they
escaped, but lost everything they possessed, except the clothes they had
on. We had a very fine wind for nine days, and on the 29th we saw a
gannet, a sure sign we were within a hundred miles of land, for these
birds are never seen at a greater distance from it. True to our
anticipations, towards the afternoon the water became discoloured, and at
midnight we saw the land.

This interesting island, of which we now got sight, was first discovered
by that eminent and enterprising Dutch navigator, Tasman, subsequently to
the discovery of Van Diemen's Land. His voyage from Batavia in 1642,
undertaken by order of the then Governor-General of Dutch India, Anthony
Van Diemen, was one of the most important and successful ever undertaken,
for it was during this voyage that New Holland was discovered, of which
Van Diemen's Land was then supposed to form a part, the extensive island
of New Zealand being supposed to form another portion.[1]

The slight intercourse of the discoverers with the natives had so
calamitous a termination, and the exaggerated accounts it was then a kind
of fashion to give of savages, stigmatised the New Zealanders with such a
character for treachery and cruelty, that their island was not visited
again for upwards of a century, when the immortal Cook drew aside the
veil of error and obscurity from this unexplored land, and rescued the
character of its inhabitants from the ignominy which its original
discoverers, the Dutch, had thrown upon them. This immense tract of land
was imagined by Tasman to form but one island, and he most unaptly gave
it the name of New Zealand, from its great resemblance (as was stated) to
his own country.[2]

In 1770 Cook discovered a strait of easy access and safe navigation,
cutting the island nearly in half, thus making two islands of what had
before been imagined but one. This strait bears his name, and is often
traversed by vessels from New South Wales returning home by way of Cape

In 1827 His Majesty's ship Warsprite passed through this strait in
company with the Volage, twenty-eight guns, being the first English line
of battleship which had ever made the attempt. A few years since, Captain
Stewart, commanding a colonial vessel out of Port Jackson, discovered
another strait, which cut off the extreme southern point, making it a
separate island that bears his name, and now almost every year our
sealers and whalers are making additional and useful discoveries along
its coasts.

These islands lie between lat. 34 deg. and 48 deg.S. and long. 166 deg. and 180 deg.E.
The opening of the land to which we were now opposite, and which was our
destined port, the accurate eye of Cook had observed, but did not attempt
the entrance; and it is only about ten years since, when the two store
ships, the Dromedary and Coromandel, loaded with spars on the coast, that
a small vessel attending on those ships first crossed the bar; but
although they took soundings and laid down buoys, the commanders of the
large vessels were afraid of attempting the entrance, which proved their
good sense, for their great draught of water would have rendered the
undertaking more hazardous than the risk was worth. Yet during my
residence in this country two large vessels crossed the bar, and
recrossed it heavily laden, without the slightest accident--one the
Harmony, of London, 400 tons burden; the other the Elizabeth, of Sydney,
of nearly equal tonnage--but in proof that it is not always safe, a few
months after this, two schooners of extremely light draught were lost,
though they were both commanded by men who perfectly well knew the
channels through the bar. It was a singular circumstance that both
vessels had been built in New Zealand; one, the Herald, a small and
beautiful craft, built by and belonging to the Church missionaries, the
crew of which escaped, but the disastrous circumstances attending the
wreck of the other, called the Enterprise, I shall relate in their proper

The morning of the 30th was foggy and unfavourable, but it suddenly
cleared up, and exhibited the entrance of Hokianga right before us, and a
light breeze came to our aid to carry us in. The entrance to this river
is very remarkable, and can never be mistaken by mariners. On the north
side, for many miles, are hills of sand, white, bleak, and barren, ending
abruptly at the entrance of the river, which is about a quarter of a mile
across. Where the south head rises abrupt, craggy, and black, the land
all round is covered with verdure; thus, at the first glimpse of these
heads from the sea, one is white, the other black.

The only difficulty attending the entrance (and, indeed, the only thing
which prevents Hokianga from being one of the finest harbours in the
world) is the bar. This lies two miles from the mouth of the river, its
head enveloped in breakers and foam, bidding defiance and threatening
destruction to all large ships which may attempt the passage. However,
we fortunately slipped over its sandy sides, undamaged, in three-fathom

After crossing the bar, no other obstacle lay in our way, and, floating
gradually into a beautiful river, we soon lost sight of the sea, and were
sailing up a spacious sheet of water, which became considerably wider
after entering it; while majestic hills rose on each side, covered with
verdure to their very summits. Looking up the river, we beheld various
headlands stretching into the water, and gradually contracting in width,
till they became fainter and fainter in the distance, and all was lost in
the azure of the horizon. The excitement occasioned by contemplating
these beautiful scenes was soon interrupted by the hurried approach of
canoes, and the extraordinary noises made by the natives who were in


[Footnote 1: The Dutch and Spanish had discovered N.E. Australia as early
as 1606, and the Dutch had on several occasions visited the N.W. and
South coasts of the Continent before the date of Tasman's voyage.]

[Footnote 2: The name given by Tasman was Staten Landt. The name New
Zealand was bestowed in 1643 by the States-General of the United



As the arrival of a ship is always a profitable occurrence, great
exertions are made to be the first on board. There were several canoes
pulling towards us, and from them a number of muskets were fired, a
compliment we returned with our swivels; one of the canoes soon came
alongside, and an old chief came on board, who rubbed noses with Captain
Kent, whom he recognised as an old acquaintance; he then went round and
shook hands with all the strangers, after which he squatted himself down
upon the deck, seeming very much to enjoy the triumph of being the first
on board. But others very soon coming up with us, our decks were crowded
with them, some boarding us at the gangway, others climbing up the chains
and bows, and finding entrances where they could. All were in perfect
good humour, and pleasure beamed in all their countenances.

I had heard a great deal respecting the splendid race of men I was going
to visit, and the few specimens I had occasionally met with at Sydney so
much pleased me, that I was extremely anxious to see a number of them
together, to judge whether (as a nation) they were finer in their
proportions than the English, or whether it was mere accident that
brought some of their tallest and finest proportioned men before me.

I examined these savages, as they crowded round our decks, with the
critical eye of an artist; they were generally taller and larger men
than ourselves; those of middle height were broad-chested and muscular,
and their limbs as sinewy as though they had been occupied all their
lives in laborious employments. Their colour is lighter than that of the
American Indian, their features small and regular, their hair is in a
profusion of beautiful curls, whereas that of the Indian is straight and
lank. The disposition of the New Zealander appears to be full of fun and
gaiety, while the Indian is dull, shy, and suspicious.

I have known Indians in America from the north to the south--the
miserable, idiotic Botecooda of Brazil, the fierce warrior of Canada, and
the gentle and civilised Peruvian, yet in their features and complexions
they are all much alike. I observed their statures altered with their
different latitudes; the Chilians and the Canadians being nearly the
same, in figure tall, thin, and active, their climate being nearly the
same, although at the two extremes of America; while those living between
the equinoxes are short, fat, and lazy. I am persuaded that these South
Sea Islanders, though so nearly of the same complexion, still are not of
the same race, laziness being the characteristic of the American Indian
from north to south, while the New Zealanders are laborious in the
extreme, as their astonishing and minute carvings prove. The moment the
Indian tasted intoxicating spirits his valour left him, he became an
idiot and a tool in the hands of the white man. Here they have the utmost
aversion to every kind of "wine or strong drink," and very often severely
take us to task for indulging in such an extraordinary and debasing
propensity, or, as they call it, "of making ourselves mad;" but both
nations are equally fond of tobacco.

The first thing which struck me forcibly was, that each of these savages
was armed with a good musket, and most of them had also a cartouch box
buckled round their waists, filled with ball cartridges, and those who
had fired their pieces from the canoes carefully cleaned the pans,
covered the locks over with a piece of dry rag, and put them in a secure
place in their canoes. Every person who has read Captain Cook's account
of the natives of New Zealand would be astonished at the change which has
taken place since his time, when the firing of a single musket would have
terrified a whole village.

As we sailed up the river very slowly, the throng of savages increased to
such a degree that we could scarcely move, and, to add to our confusion,
they gave us "a dance of welcome," standing on one spot, and stamping so
furiously that I really feared they would have stove in the decks, which
our lady passengers were obliged to leave, as when the dance began each
man proceeded to strip himself naked, a custom indispensable among

We came to an anchor off a native village called Pakanae, where two
chiefs of consequence came on board, who soon cleared our decks of a
considerable number. We paid great attention to these chiefs, admitting
them into the cabin, etc., and it had the effect of lessening the noise,
and bringing about some kind of order amongst those who still continued
on deck. The names of these chiefs were Moetara and Akaeigh, and they
were the heads of the village opposite to which we had anchored. They
were well known to our captain, who spoke their language. They were
accustomed to the society of Europeans, also to transact business with
them; and as they were flax, timber, and hog merchants, they and the
captain talked over the state of the markets during the evening. They
were clothed in mats, called Kaka-hoos. The ladies joined our party at
supper, and we spent a very cheerful time with our savage visitors, who
both behaved in as polite and respectful a manner as the best educated
gentlemen could have done; their pleasing manners so ingratiated them
into the good opinion of the ladies, that they all declared "they would
be really very handsome men if their faces were not tattooed."

The next day we received a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Butler, English
people, who had taken up their residence here for the purpose of trading,
and we returned with them on shore, taking our female passengers with us,
and leaving them in charge of Mrs. Butler. I determined to stroll through
the village, which is, in fact, a collection of rude huts, huddled
together without system or regularity. Dock leaves and weeds of every
description were growing luxuriantly all round them, and in many places
actually overtopping the houses, few being more than four feet high, with
a doorway about two feet. Scarcely any of them were inhabited, as at this
season of the year the greater part of the population prefer living in
the open air to remaining in their small, smoky ovens of houses.

I had not rambled far before I witnessed a scene which forcibly reminded
me of the savage country in which I then was, and the great alteration of
character and customs a few days' sail will make. The sight to me so
appalling was that of the remains of a human body which had been roasted,
and a number of hogs and dogs were snarling and feasting upon it! I was
more shocked than surprised, for I had been informed of the character of
the New Zealanders long before my arrival amongst them; still, the
coming suddenly and unexpectedly upon a sight like this completely
sickened me of rambling, at least for that day, and I hastened back to
Mr. Butler's, eager to inquire into the particulars of the horrid

That gentleman informed me that the night of the arrival of our ship, a
chief had set one of his kookies (or slaves) to watch a piece of ground
planted with the kumara, or sweet potato, in order to prevent the hogs
committing depredations upon it. The poor lad, delighted with the
appearance of our vessel, was more intent upon observing her come to an
anchor than upon guarding his master's property, and suffered the hogs to
ramble into the plantation, where they soon made dreadful havoc. In the
midst of this trespass and neglect of orders his master arrived. The
result was certain; he instantly killed the unfortunate boy with a blow
on the head from his stone hatchet, then ordered a fire to be made, and
the body to be dragged to it, where it was roasted and consumed.

It was now time to return on board, and we walked down to the beach for
that purpose, but it was quite low water, and the boat was full two
hundred feet off. She lay at the end of a long, slimy, muddy flat, and
while we were debating how we should manage to get to her, the native
chiefs took up the females in their arms, as though they were children,
and, in spite of all their blushes and remonstrances, carried them to the
boat and placed them safely in it, each seeming to enjoy the task. They
then returned and gave us a passage, walking as easily with us upon their
backs as if we had been no heavier than so many muskets. We took care not
to shock the feelings of the females by letting them know the tragedy so
lately acted in the village, or horrify them by telling them that one of
their carriers was the murderer! It would have been difficult to have
made them believe that such a noble-looking and good-natured fellow had
so lately imbrued his hands in the blood of a fellow creature.

We had now been lying here two days, and the curiosity of the people did
not diminish, nor were our visitors less numerous. Parties were hourly
coming up and down the river to pay their respects to our captain, and
the report of there being numerous passengers on board greatly increased
their desire to hold intercourse with us. They all appeared anxious to
make themselves useful, some chopping wood for our cook, others assisting
the steward, in order to get what might be left on the plates, others
brought small presents of fish; in fact, all availed themselves of any
excuse to get on board; yet, notwithstanding the crowd, and the confusion
attending their movements, there was scarcely any thieving amongst them.
They have seen the detestation that theft is held in by Europeans, and
the injury it does to trade, and have, in consequence, nearly left it
off. None but the meanest slaves will now practise it, and they do so at
the risk of their lives; for, if caught in the act, and the charge is
proved against them, their heads are cut off!



On November 3rd we visited Pakanae, a village lying round the base of a
large conical hill, about three hundred feet high, with a fortification
on the top, which gives it its name, pa signifying in their language a
fortified place. Behind it lies a swamp, which is covered at high water,
and which adds greatly to its security; for the unsettled and war-like
spirit of the natives renders it absolutely necessary that they always
should have a place of strength near at hand to retreat to, as they never
know how suddenly their enemies may make an attack upon them. To the
right of this swamp is a beautiful valley, in a very high state of
cultivation. At the time I stood viewing it from the summit of the hill,
I was charmed with the scene of industry and bustle it presented, all the
inhabitants of the village having gone forth to plant their potatoes,
kumaras, and Indian corn. In the rear, and forming a fine, bold
background, is an immense chain of high and rugged hills, covered to
their summits with thick forests, and forming, as it were, a natural
barrier and protection to this smiling and fruitful valley, while from
their wooded sides issue innumerable small streams of clear water, which,
meeting at the base, form beautiful rivulets, and after meandering
through the valley, and serving all the purposes of irrigation, they
empty themselves into the Hokianga river.

Standing on the spot from which I have described the above prospect, I
felt fully convinced of the frugality and industry of these savages. The
regularity of their plantations, and the order with which they carry on
their various works, differ greatly from most of their brethren in the
South Seas, as here the chiefs and their families set the example of
labour; and when that is the case, none can refuse to toil. Round the
village of Pakanae, at one glance is to be seen above 200 acres of
cultivated land, and that not slightly turned up, but well worked and
cleared; and when the badness of their tools is considered, together with
their limited knowledge of agriculture, their persevering industry I look
upon as truly astonishing.

The New Zealanders have established here a wise custom, which prevents a
great deal of waste and confusion, and generally preserves to the planter
a good crop, in return for the trouble of sowing; namely, as soon as the
ground is finished, and the seed sown, it is _tabooed,_ that, is rendered
sacred, by men appointed for that service, and it is death to trample
over or disturb any part of this consecrated ground. The wisdom and
utility of this regulation must be obvious to every one. But, however
useful this taboo system is to the natives, it is a great inconvenience
to a stranger who is rambling over the country, for if he does not use
the greatest caution, and procure a guide, he may get himself into a
serious dilemma before his rambles be over, which had nearly been the
case with our party this day. We were ascending a hill, for the purpose
of inspecting a New Zealand fortification on the summit, when a little
boy joined our party, either out of curiosity, or in hopes of getting a
fish-hook from us--a thing the natives are continually asking for; but as
we had a man with us who spoke the language fluently, we did not much
regard the boy's guidance, though to us it speedily became of great
importance. We were taking a short cut, to make a quick ascent to the top
of the hill, when the little fellow uttered a cry of horror. Our
interpreter asked him what he meant, when he pointed his finger forward,
and told him to look, for the ground was tabooed. We did as he desired
us, but beheld nothing particular, till he showed us, in one of the
trees, among the branches, a large bunch of something, but we could not
make out what it was. This, he told us, was the body of a chief, then
undergoing the process of decomposition, previous to interment, which
process is witnessed by men appointed for that purpose, who alone are
permitted to approach the spot. The ground all round is tabooed, so that,
had it not been for the interference of our young guide, we should
certainly have been placed in a most distressing situation; and it is a
question if our ignorance of their customs would have been considered a
sufficient excuse for our offence.

The top of this hill was level and square, and was capable of containing
several hundred warriors. It was cut into slopes all round, and fortified
by stockades in every direction, which rendered it impregnable. The
natives assured me its strength had been often tried. The famous warrior
Hongi had attacked it several times, but had always been defeated with
great loss. After inspecting this fortification, which excited our
admiration, we proceeded through the village at the bottom of the hill.
Nearly the whole of the inhabitants were out working in the fields. We
entered several of their habitations, and found all their property
exposed and unguarded. Even their muskets and powder, which they prize
above everything, were open to our inspection, so little idea of robbery
have they amongst themselves. But as there are many hogs and dogs roaming
at large through their villages, they are very careful to fence their
dwellings round with wicker work, to preserve them from the depredations
of these animals; and as the houses are extremely low, they have very
much the appearance of bird cages or rabbit hutches. Their storehouses
are generally placed upon poles, a few feet from the ground, and tabooed
or consecrated. Great taste and ingenuity are displayed in carving and
ornamenting these depositories. I made drawings from several of them,
which were entirely covered with carving; and some good attempts at
groups of figures, as large as life, plainly showed the dawning of the
art of sculpture amongst them. Many of the attempts of the New Zealanders
in that art are quite as good, if not better, than various specimens I
have seen of the first efforts of the early Egyptians.

Painting and sculpture are both arts greatly admired by these rude
people. Every house of consequence is ornamented and embellished, and
their canoes have the most minute and elaborate workmanship bestowed upon

Their food is always eaten out of little baskets, rudely woven of green
flax; and as they generally leave some for their next meal, they hang
these baskets on sticks or props, till they are ready to eat again. Thus
a village presents a very singular appearance, as it is stuck full of
sticks, with various kinds of baskets hanging from them. This plan,
however, is the most rational that could be adopted, as none of their
eatables can be left on the ground, or they would become the prey of the
hogs and dogs.

In the course of our long ramble we noticed many pretty little huts, some
having neat gardens all round them, planted with fruits and corn. One
house which we saw was built by a chief who had made several voyages to
Port Jackson, and it was really a very comfortable dwelling. It had a
high door, which we could enter without stooping, and in a separate room
was constructed a bed, after the pattern of one on ship-board. He had
likewise a large sea-chest in his house, the key of which (highly
polished) was hung round his neck as an ornament. In the course of our
walk we came to a spot on which a group of old people were sitting
sunning themselves, and they immediately all rose to welcome us. I
remarked one amongst them who seemed, from his silvery locks and feeble
limbs, to be very old. I asked him, among other questions, whether he
remembered Captain Cook. He said he did not, but well recollected Captain
Furneaux, and was one of the party which cut off and massacred his boat's
crew; and from other information which I received I believe his assertion
to have been correct.[3]


[Footnote 3: Captain Furneaux's account of this massacre is printed in
the Appendix.]



As our missionary passengers had by this time fixed upon the spot where
they intended to establish their settlement, and it being several miles
up the river, we got under weigh to proceed thither. The captain's
agreement being to that effect, we proceeded with the first fair wind,
about twenty miles up the stream, which was as far as we could with
safety take the vessel. The shores on each side this noble river are
composed of hills gradually rising behind each other, most of them
covered with woods to the water's edge. Not a vestige of a habitation is
to be seen, and if it had not been for the occasional sight of a canoe,
we might have imagined the country to be totally uninhabited. Opposite a
small island, or, rather, sand-bank, the vessel grounded, and had to
remain there till the next tide floated her off. It was a curious and
interesting spot, being a native pa and depot, and was entirely covered
with storehouses for provisions and ammunition. The centre was so
contrived that all assailants might be cut off before they could effect a
landing; and we were all much gratified by the judgment and forethought
displayed in this little military work. The next morning we got off, but
could not proceed far, as the shoals were becoming so numerous as to
render the navigation dangerous. But here we beheld, with both surprise
and satisfaction, a most unexpected sight, namely, a snug little colony
of our own countrymen, comfortably settled and usefully employed in this
savage and unexplored country. Some enterprising merchants of Port
Jackson have established here a dockyard and a number of sawpits. Several
vessels have been laden with timber and spars; one vessel has been built,
launched, and sent to sea from this spot; and another of a hundred and
fifty tons burthen was then upon the stocks!

On landing at this establishment at Te Horeke, or, as the Englishmen have
called it, "Deptford," I was greatly delighted with the appearance of
order, bustle, and industry it presented. Here were storehouses,
dwelling-houses, and various offices for the mechanics; and every
department seemed as well filled as it could have been in a civilised
country. To me the most interesting circumstance was to notice the great
delight of the natives, and the pleasure they seemed to take in observing
the progress of the various works. All were officious to "lend a hand,"
and each seemed eager to be employed. This feeling corresponds with my
idea of the best method of civilising a savage. Nothing can more
completely show the importance of the useful arts than a dockyard. In it
are practised nearly all the mechanical trades; and these present to the
busy enquiring mind of a New Zealander a practical encyclopaedia of
knowledge. When he sees the combined exertions of the smith and carpenter
create so huge a fabric as a ship, his mind is filled with wonder and
delight; and when he witnesses the moulding of iron at the anvil, it
excites his astonishment and emulation.

The people of the dockyard informed me that, although it was constantly
crowded with natives, scarcely anything had ever been stolen, and all the
chiefs in the neighbourhood took so great an interest in the work that
any annoyance offered to those employed would immediately be revenged as
a personal affront.



Here we left the brig to unload her cargo; my friend Shand and myself
having determined to proceed overland to the Bay of Islands. An
intelligent chief, hearing of our intention, offered to accompany us
himself, and lent us two of his kookies to carry our baggage. We accepted
the chieftain's offer, and several other natives joined the party to bear
us company.

November 7.--We all embarked in a canoe, in order to reach the head of
the river before we began our pedestrian tour; and, after paddling about
eight or nine miles further up, where the river became exceedingly
narrow, we came to another English settlement. This consisted of a party
of men who had come out in the Rosanna, the vessel employed by the New
Zealand Company. When all ideas of settling were totally abandoned by the
officers sent out for that purpose, these men chose rather to remain by
themselves than to return home; and we found them busily employed in
cutting timber, sawing planks, and making oars for the Sydney market. How
far they may prove successful, time only can develop; but as these
enterprising men had only their own industry to assist them, it could not
be expected that their establishment could bear a comparison with the one
at Te Horeke, which is supported by several of the most wealthy
merchants of New South Wales.

As the river became narrower, the habitations of the natives were more
numerous. The chief of this district (whose name is Patuone) has a
splendid village very near the carpenters' establishment we have just
described. He had taken these industrious men under his especial
protection, and seemed very proud of having a settlement of that kind in
his territories, as it gave him power and consequence among all the
neighbouring chiefs, from the trade he carried on by means of their

Patuone had likewise induced the Wesleyan missionaries to settle upon his
land, about a mile below; so that the head of this river assumed quite
the appearance of a civilised colony.

Our party now disembarked. We landed in a dense forest, which reached to
the water's edge; and our guides and slaves began to divide the loads
each was to carry on his back. Several joined us from the two English
stations on the river, and we then amounted to a very large party; all in
high spirits, and anxious to proceed on our journey. When our natives had
distributed the luggage, they loaded themselves, which they did with both
skill and quickness; for a New Zealander is never at a loss for cords or
ropes. Their plan is to gather a few handfuls of flax, which they soon
twist into a very good substitute: with this material they formed slings,
with which they dexterously fastened our moveables on their backs, and
set off at a good trot, calling out to us to follow them.



We travelled through a wood so thick that the light of heaven could not
penetrate the trees that composed it. They were so large and so close
together that in many places we had some difficulty to squeeze ourselves
through them. To add to our perplexities, innumerable streams intersected
this forest, which always brought us Europeans to a complete standstill.
The only bridges which the natives ever think of making are formed by
cutting down a tree, and letting it fall across; and over these our
bare-legged attendants, loaded as they were, scrambled with all the
agility of cats or monkeys; but it was not so with us: for several times
they seated one of us on the top of their load, and carried him over. The
chief, who accompanied us, made it his particular business to see me safe
through every difficulty, and many times he carried me himself over such
places as I dared scarcely venture to look down upon.

In the midst of this wood we met the chief of this district, Patuone,
who, together with all his family, were employed in planting a small,
cleared patch of land. He appeared highly delighted at beholding
strangers; and all his wives came from their occupations to welcome us.
He told us that, a very few miles farther on, we should come to a village
belonging to him, where his eldest son was residing, and that we must
there pass the night.

[Illustration: Patuone, a Notable Hokianga Chief.]

We thanked him for the invitation, rubbed noses with him (their token of
friendship), and parted.

Soon after parting with Patuone, we fell in with a most beautiful bull,
cow, and calf. I was amazed at seeing such fine animals in this country;
but my companions soon cleared up the mystery by informing me that they
were gifts from the missionaries, who had orders from Home to distribute
these useful animals amongst such chiefs as they thought would take care
of them: a wise and beneficial measure. These animals were tabooed,
consequently they could ramble wherever they found food most to their
liking. About dusk we arrived at the village Patuone had described to us.
We were most happy to see it, as we were heartily tired, and dripping wet
from a recent and heavy shower.



The village was situated on the side of a small, picturesque stream, one
of the branches of the Hokianga, but continued droughts had at this time
reduced it to a trifling brook. From its lofty banks, and the large trees
lying athwart it, we conjectured that during heavy rains it must be a
mighty flood. A long straggling collection of huts composed the village:
a great deal of land in its vicinity was cleared and planted, which
doubtless was the ostensible object of Patuone's people being here. As
the village lay upon the opposite shore from that on which we arrived, we
sat some time under the shelter of a large tree, to contemplate its
appearance, and to give time to arrange our party for passing the stream,
and also for my making a sketch. The red glare of the setting sun, just
touching the top of every object, beautifully illuminated the landscape;
and its rays bursting through the black woods in the background, gave the
woods an appearance of being on fire; while a beautiful rainbow, thrown
across the sky, tinged the scene with a fairy-land effect.

As soon as they perceived us from the opposite shore, a loud shout of
welcome was raised, and all the inhabitants came out to meet us. They
carried us over the stream, conducted us to their huts, and then sat down
to gaze at and admire us.

As we were very hungry after our fatiguing walk, we soon unpacked our
baggage, and in so doing made an unavoidable display of many valuable and
glittering objects, which roused the attention of our savage spectators,
and caused them, on the unfolding of every fresh object, to make loud and
long exclamations of wonder and amazement. As I was then "a stranger in
their land," and unaccustomed to their peculiarities, I felt a little
alarmed at their shouts; but, on a longer acquaintance with them, I found
my fears had been groundless.

Here we saw the son of Patuone, accompanied by thirty or forty young
savages, sitting or lying all round us. All were exceedingly handsome,
notwithstanding the wildness of their appearance and the ferocity of
their looks. Let the reader picture to himself this savage group,
handling everything they saw, each one armed with a musket, loaded with
ball, a cartouch-box buckled round his waist, and a stone patoo-patoo, or
hatchet, in his hand, while human bones were hung round each neck by way
of ornament; let the scene and situation be taken into consideration, and
he will acknowledge it was calculated to make the young traveller wish
himself safe at home; but, when I suspected, I wronged them; for after
admiring everything we had brought with us (more especially our
fowling-pieces, which were very beautiful ones), they begged a little
tobacco, then retired to a distance from the hut which had been prepared
for our reception, and left us to take our supper uninterrupted; after
which they placed all our baggage in the hut, that we might be assured of
its safety.

It proved a rainy, miserable night; and we were a large party, crowded
into a small, smoky hut, with a fire lighted in the middle; as, after
our supper, the natives, in order to have as much of our company as
possible, crowded it till it was literally crammed. However annoying this
might be, still I was recompensed by the novelty and picturesque
appearance of the scene. Salvator Rosa could not have conceived a finer
study of the horrible. A dozen men, of the largest and most athletic
forms, their cakahoos (or mat-dresses) laid aside, and their huge limbs
exposed to the red glare of the fire; their faces rendered hideous by
being tattooed all over, showing by the firelight quite a bright blue;
their eyes, which are remarkable for their fierce expression, all fixed
upon us, but with a look of good temper, co-mingled with intense
curiosity. All my fears had by this time subsided, and, being master of
myself, I had leisure to study and enjoy the scene; we smoked a social
pipe with them (for they are all immoderately fond of tobacco), and I
then stretched myself down to sleep amidst all their chattering and

But all my attempts at slumber were fruitless. I underwent a simultaneous
attack of vermin of all descriptions; fleas, mosquitoes, and sand-flies,
which, beside their depredations on my person, made such a buzzing noise,
that even the chattering of the natives could not drown it, or the smoke
from the fire or pipes drive them away.



Next morning, at daybreak, we took leave of our hosts, and proceeded on
our journey; we had eight miles more of this thick forest to scramble
through, and this part we found considerably worse than that we had
traversed yesterday. The roots of trees covered the path in all
directions, rendering it necessary to watch every step we took, in order
to prevent being thrown down; the supple-jacks, suspended and twining
from tree to tree, making in many places a complete net-work; and while
we were toiling with the greatest difficulty through this miserable road,
our natives were jogging on as comfortably as possible: use had so
completely accustomed them to it, that they sprung over the roots, and
dived under the supple-jacks and branches, with perfect ease, while we
were panting after them in vain. The whole way was mountainous. The
climbing up, and then descending, was truly frightful; not a gleam of sky
was to be seen, all was a mass of gigantic trees, straight and lofty,
their wide spreading branches mingling overhead, and producing throughout
the forest an endless darkness and unbroken gloom.

After three or four hours of laborious struggling, we emerged from the
wood, and found ourselves upon an extensive plain, which, as far as the
eye could reach, appeared covered with fern. A small path lay before us,
and this was our road. The New Zealanders always travel on foot, one
after the other, or in Indian file. Their pathways are not more than a
foot wide, which to a European is most painful; but as the natives
invariably walk with the feet turned in, or pigeon-toed, they feel no
inconvenience from the narrowness. When a traveller is once on the path,
it is impossible for him to go astray. No other animal, except man, ever
traverses this country, and _his_ track cannot be mistaken, since none
ever deviate from the beaten footpath, which was in consequence, in some
places (where the soil was light), worn so deep as to resemble a gutter
more than a road. We proceeded for many miles in this unsocial manner;
unsocial, for it precludes all conversation. Our natives occasionally
gave us a song, or, rather, dirge, in which they all joined chorus.
Having at length attained the summit of a hill, we beheld the Bay of
Islands, stretching out in the distance; and at sunset we arrived at the
Kerikeri river, where there is a Church-missionary settlement.

[Illustration: Mission Station, Kerikeri.]



We had travelled all day through a country in which every object we saw
was of a character that reminded us forcibly of the savage community we
were with. Occasionally we met groups of naked men, trotting along under
immense loads, and screaming their barbarous songs of recognition;
sometimes we beheld an uncouthly carved figure, daubed over with red
ochre, and fixed in the ground, to give notice that one side of the road
was tabooed. An extraordinary contrast was now presented to our view, for
we came suddenly in front of a complete little English village. Wreaths
of white smoke were rising from the chimneys, of neat weather-boarded
houses. The glazed windows reflected the brilliant glow from the rays of
the setting sun, while herds of fat cattle were winding down the hills,
lowing as they leisurely bent their steps toward the farm-yard. It is
impossible for me to describe what I felt on contemplating a scene so
similar to those I had left behind me.

According to the custom of this country, we fired our muskets, to warn
the inhabitants of the settlement of our approach. We arranged our
dresses in the best order we could, and proceeded towards the village. As
the report of our guns had been heard, groups of nondescripts came
running out to meet us. I could scarcely tell to what order of beings
they belonged; but on their near approach, I found them to be the New
Zealand youths, who were settled with the missionaries. They were habited
in the most uncouth dresses imaginable. These pious men, certainly, have
no taste for the picturesque; they had obscured the finest human forms
under a seaman's huge clothing. Boys not more than fifteen wore jackets
reaching to their knees, and buttoned up to the throat with great black
horn buttons, a coarse checked shirt, the collar of which spread half-way
over their face, their luxuriant, beautiful hair was cut close off, and
each head was crammed into a close Scotch bonnet!

These half-converted, or, rather, half-_covered_, youths, after rubbing
noses, and chattering with our guides, conducted us to the dwellings of
their masters. As I had a letter of introduction from one of their own
body, I felt not the slightest doubt of a kind reception; so we proceeded
with confidence. We were ushered into a house, all cleanliness and
comfort, all order, silence, and unsociability. After presenting my
letter to a grave-looking personage, it had to undergo a private
inspection in an adjoining room, and the result was an invitation "to
stay and take a cup of tea!" All that an abundant farm and excellent
grocer in England could supply were soon before us. Each person of the
mission, as he appeared during our repast, was called aside, and I could
hear my own letter read and discussed by them. I could not help thinking
(within myself) whether this was a way to receive a countryman at the
Antipodes! No smile beamed upon their countenance; there were no
inquiries after news; in short, there was no touch of human sympathy,
such as we "of the world" feel at receiving an Englishman under our roof
in such a savage country as this!

The chubby children who peeped at us from all corners, and the very
hearty appearance of their parents, plainly evidenced that theirs was an
excellent and thriving trade. We had a cold invitation to stay all night;
but this the number of our party entirely precluded; so they lent us
their boat to convey us to the Bay of Islands, a distance of about
twenty-five miles.

As the night proved dark and stormy, and as our boat was crowded with
natives, our passage down the Kerikeri river became both disagreeable and
dangerous. The river being filled with rocks, some under, and others just
above the water, we were obliged to keep a good look-out. After
experiencing many alarms, we arrived safely at Kororareka beach about
midnight, where an Englishman of the name of Johnstone gave us a shelter
in his hut.



In the morning we beheld two vessels at anchor in the harbour. The
Indian, whaler, of London, and the East India Company's ship Research;
which latter ship had been cruising in search of the wreck of the vessels
under the command of La Perouse, and had completely elucidated the
circumstances relating to that event. The Bay of Islands is surrounded by
lofty and picturesque hills, and is secured from all winds. It is full of
lovely coves, and a safe anchorage is to be found nearly all over it;
added to this, a number of navigable rivers are for ever emptying
themselves into the Bay, which is spotted with innumerable romantic
islands all covered with perpetual verdure.

It is with peculiar interest that we look upon the spot where the
illustrious Cook cast anchor after his discovery of this Bay. Some
unhappy quarrels with the natives occasioned much blood to be shed on
both sides, and for a long time caused this island to be looked upon with
horror, and avoided by all Europeans. It was the courage and enterprise
of the crews of our South Sea Whalers who exhibited these interesting
islanders in their true character, and proved to the world that it was
quite as safe to anchor in the Bay of Islands as in the harbour of Port



Since the time of Cook, and other circumnavigators of that period, the
character of these people has undergone a thorough change. Then it was
necessary when a ship anchored, that the boarding nettings should be up,
and all the arms ready for immediate use. The principal object the chiefs
had in view seemed to be to lull the commanders into a fatal security,
then to rush upon them, seize their vessel, and murder all the crew! Too
often had they succeeded, and as often have they paid most dearly for
their treachery and cruelty. In the case of the ship Boyd, though they
attained their object, they were as completely punished for their
perfidy. From their ignorance of the nature of powder, and the use of a
magazine, they blew up the ship, and vast numbers of the natives were
destroyed. Besides this calamity, they brought down upon themselves the
vengeance of every vessel that visited these shores for a long period
afterwards. As the circumstances may not be generally known, Mr. Berry's
letter, relating the particulars of that melancholy, yet interesting
event, is here inserted:--

"Ship, City of Edinburgh,
"Lima, Oct. 20, 1810.

I am very sorry to have the painful task of introducing myself to
you, with an account of the loss of your ship Boyd, Captain

Towards the end of last year I was employed in the Bay of
Islands, New Zealand, in procuring a cargo of spars for the Cape
of Good Hope. About the middle of December the natives brought me
an account of a ship's being taken at Whangaroa, a harbour about
fifty miles to the N.W. At first we were disposed to doubt the
truth of this report, but it every day became more probable, from
the variety of circumstances they informed us of; and which were
so connected as appeared impossible for them to invent.
Accordingly, about the end of the month, when we had finished our
cargo, although it was a business of some danger, I determined to
go round.

"I set out with three armed boats: we experienced very bad
weather, and after a narrow escape were glad to return to the
ship. As we arrived in a most miserable condition, I had then
relinquished all idea of the enterprise; but having recruited my
strength and spirits, I was shocked at the idea of leaving any of
my countrymen in the hands of savages, and determined to make a
second attempt. We had this time better weather, and reached the
harbour without any difficulty. Whangaroa is formed as
follows:--First, a large outer bay, with an island at its
entrance; in the bottom of this bay is seen a narrow opening,
which appears terminated at the distance of a quarter of a mile;
but, upon entering it, it is seen to expand into two large
basins, at least as secure as any of the docks on the banks of
the Thames, and capable of containing (I think) the whole British
navy. We found the wreck of the Boyd in shoal water, at the top
of the harbour, a most melancholy picture of wanton mischief. The
natives had cut her cables, and towed her up the harbour till she
had grounded, and then set her on fire, and burnt her to the
water's edge. In her hold were seen the remains of her
cargo--coals, salted seal skins, and planks. Her guns, iron,
standards, etc., were lying on the top, having fallen in when her
decks were consumed.

"The cargo must have been very valuable; but it appears that the
captain, anxious to make a better voyage, had come to that port
for the purpose of filling up with spars for the Cape of Good

"Not to tire you with the minutia of the business, I recovered
from the natives a woman, two children, and a boy of the name of
Davies, one of your apprentices, who were the only survivors. I
found also the accompanying papers, which, I hope, may prove of
service to you. I did all this by gentle measures, and you will
admit that bloodshed and revenge would have answered no good
purpose. The ship was taken the third morning after her arrival.
The captain had been rather too hasty in resenting some slight
theft. Early in the morning the ship was surrounded by a great
number of canoes, and many natives gradually insinuated
themselves on board. Tippahee, a chief of the Bay of Islands, and
who had been twice at Port Jackson, also arrived; he went into
the cabin, and, after paying his respects to the captain, begged
a little bread for his men; but the captain received him rather
slightingly, and desired him to go away, and not trouble him, as
he was busy.

"The proud old savage (who had been a constant guest at the
Governor's table at Port Jackson) was highly offended at this
treatment, immediately left the cabin, and, after stamping a few
minutes on the deck, went into his canoe. After breakfast the
captain went on shore with four hands, and no other arms but his
fowling-piece. From the account of the savages, as soon as he
landed they rushed upon him; he had only time to fire his piece,
and it killed a child. As soon as the captain left the ship,
Tippahee (who remained alongside in his canoe) came again on
board. A number of sailors were repairing sails upon the quarter
deck, and the remainder were carelessly dispersed about, and
fifty of the natives were sitting on the deck. In a moment they
all started up, and each knocked his man on the head: a few ran
wounded below, and four or five escaped up the rigging, and in a
few seconds the savages had complete possession of the ship. The
boy Davies escaped into the hold, where he lay concealed for
several days, till they were fairly glutted with human blood,
when they spared his life. The woman says she was discovered by
an old savage, and that she moved him by her tears and embraces;
that he (being a subordinate chief) carried her to Tippahee, who
allowed him to spare her life. She says, that at this time the
deck was covered with human bodies, which they were employed in
cutting up; after which they exhibited a most horrid dance and
song in honour of their victory, and concluded by a hymn of
gratitude to their god.

"Tippahee now took the speaking trumpet, and hailing the poor
wretches at the mast-head, told them that he was now captain,
and that they must in future obey his commands. He then ordered
them to unbend the sails, they readily complied; but when he
ordered them to come down they hesitated, but he enforced prompt
obedience by threatening to cut away the masts. When they came
down he received them with much civility, and told them he would
take care of them; he immediately ordered them into a canoe, and
sent them on shore. A few minutes after this the woman went on
shore with her deliverer. The first object that struck her view
was the dead bodies of these men, lying naked on the beach. As
soon as she landed a number of men started up, and marched
towards her with their patoo-patoos. A number of women ran
screaming betwixt them, covered her with their clothes, and by
tears and entreaties saved her life.

"The horrid feasting on human flesh which followed would be too
shocking for description. The second mate begged his life at the
time of the general massacre; they spared him for a fortnight,
and then killed and eat him. I think if the captain had received
Tippahee with a little more civility, that he would have informed
him of his danger, and saved the ship; but that from being
treated in the manner I have mentioned, he entered into the plot
along with the others.

"I assure you it has been a most unpleasant thing for me to write
about, and I could only have been induced to do it from a sense
of duty, and a desire to give you all the information in my
power, which I suppose may be of some use.

"I am, Sir,
"Your obedient humble servant,

Considering Mr. Berry's limited acquaintance with these islanders, and
the horror of the scene before him, his is a good and an impartial
account; but facts which have been obtained subsequently have exonerated
the natives to a certain extent. By repeated conversations I have held
with several chiefs who were engaged in this dreadful affair, and from
information I procured at Sydney, I have no doubt but that the Captain
himself was the most in fault.

[Illustration: Whangaroa, Scene of the "Boyd" Massacre.]

He was commissioned by the Government of New South Wales to land a native
chief named Philip at New Zealand, whom he subjected to a cruel and
impolitic punishment. This man, smarting from his stripes, and burning
with a desire to revenge his dishonourable treatment, excited all his
friends to the commission of that bloody massacre.



The tragic fate of the Boyd's crew is now fast sinking into oblivion;
and, like the islanders of Hawaii, after the murder of Cook, they seem to
wish to obliterate the remembrance of their disgraceful conduct by a kind
and friendly intercourse with our nation. The severe chastisement which
they have always received from us after a treacherous action, has proved
to them how little they gain by so debasing a line of conduct; and as
they are most anxious to possess many of our productions, they seem to
have come to a resolution to abandon their former system; which, if they
may not be sensible of the injustice of, they see is destructive to their
own interests; and now every chief is as solicitous for the safety of a
European vessel as he would have been formerly for its destruction.

They have not only lost a portion of their ferocity, but also much of
their native simplicity of character, which, in all parts of the world,
is so highly interesting a study for the traveller. Their constant
intercourse with whalers, who are generally low, unpolished men, leaves
behind it a tinge of vulgarity, of which the native women retain the
largest portion. In many instances, they quite spoil their good looks, by
half adopting the European costume. Those who are living in the
retirement of their own villages have a natural ease and elegance of
manner, which they soon lose after their introduction to our rough
sailors. I have seen a party of very handsome girls, just landing from
one of the whalers, their beautiful forms hid under old greasy red or
checked shirts, generally put on with the hind parts before. In some
cases the sailors, knowing their taste for finery, bring out with them,
from London, old tawdry gowns, and fierce coloured ribands. And thus
equipped, they come on shore the most grotesque objects imaginable, each
highly delighted with her gaudy habiliments.

Kororareka beach, where we took up our residence, seemed the general
place of rendezvous for all Europeans whom chance might bring into this
bay. At this time there were two large vessels lying at anchor within a
quarter of a mile of the shore, and I was informed there were sometimes
as many as twelve or thirteen.

The spot is a most delightful one, being about three-quarters of a mile
in extent, sheltered by two picturesque promontories, and possessing a
fine circular, firm, sandy beach, on which there is seldom much surf, so
that boats can at all times land and haul up. Scattered amongst the
rushes and small bushes is seen a New Zealand village, which at first
landing is scarcely perceptible, the huts being so low. Some of them are
of English design, though of native workmanship. These are generally the
dwellings of some Europeans, who are of so doubtful a character that it
would be difficult to guess to what order of society they belonged
previous to their being transplanted amongst these savages.

I found a respectable body of Scotch mechanics settled here, who came out
in the New Zealand Company's ship Rosanna, and who determined to remain
at Kororareka. Their persevering industry as yet has been crowned with
success, and they seem well pleased with the prospects before them.

Here, these hardy sons of Britain are employed in both carrying on and
instructing the wondering savage in various branches of useful art. Here
the smith has erected his forge, and his sooty mansion is crowded by
curious natives, who voluntarily perform the hardest and most dirty work,
and consider themselves fully recompensed by a sight of his mysterious
labours, every portion of which fills them with astonishment. Here is
heard daily the sound of the sawpit, while piles of neat white planks
appear arranged on the beach. These laborious and useful Scotchmen
interfere with no one, and pursue successfully their industrious career,
without either requiring or receiving any assistance from Home.

But there is another class of Europeans here, who are both useless and
dangerous, and these lower the character of the white people in the
estimation of the natives. These men are called "Beach Rangers," most of
whom have deserted from, or have been turned out of whalers for crimes,
for which, had they been taken Home and tried, they would have been
hanged; some few among them, having been too lazy to finish the voyage
they had begun, had deserted from their ships, and were then leading a
mean and miserable life amongst the natives.

There is still a third class of our countrymen to be met with here, whose
downcast and sneaking looks proclaim them to be runaway convicts from New
South Wales. These unhappy men are treated with derision and contempt by
all classes; and the New Zealanders, being perfectly aware of their state
of degradation, refuse all intercourse with them. They are idle,
unprincipled, and vicious in the extreme, and are much feared in the Bay
of Islands; for when by any means they obtain liquor, they prove
themselves most dangerous neighbours.

My friend Shand and myself were most comfortably situated. An intimate
friend of mine (Captain Duke, of the whaler The Sisters) had, in
consequence of ill-health, taken up his residence on shore while his
vessel completed her cruise. In his hut we found comfort and safety; and
from his information and advice we were enabled to avoid the advances of
all whom his experience had taught him were to be shunned.

On terms of the closest intimacy, and with his hut adjoining that of my
friend Captain Duke, lived Shulitea[4] (or King George, as he styled
himself), a chief of great power, who controlled the whole of the
district where we were. We all felt grateful to him for his
manifestations of friendship, and at the same time were conscious of
enjoying a greater degree of security by his proximity. He was the first
chief who offered protection to "the white people," and he has never been
known to have broken his engagement. An unexpected and remarkable
instance of his adherence to their interests, in spite of temptation,
took place a few years since, which I deem worthy of relation here.

The ship Brompton, in endeavouring to work out of the bay, by some
accident got on shore, and finally became a complete wreck. This fine
vessel, with a valuable cargo on board, lay helpless on the beach, and
the crew and passengers expected nothing less than plunder and
destruction. The natives from the interior, hearing of the circumstance,
hastened down in vast numbers to participate in the general pillage. But
King George summoned all his warriors to his aid, and with this party
placed himself between the wreck and those who came to plunder it. I was
informed by several who were present at the time, that, after declaring
that "not an article should be taken till himself and all his party were
destroyed," he advanced, and thus explained his reasons for protecting
the strangers and their property:--

"You" (said King George) "come from the interior; all of you think only
of what you can get, without considering the consequences, which, indeed,
are of little import to you, living, as you do, out of reach of the
reproaches and vengeance of the white men. But look how differently I am
situated. I live on the beach; this Bay is my residence; I invite the
white men to come and trade here under the promise of my protection; they
come; several years of profitable trading have passed between us. King
George, they say, is a good man; now an accident has befallen one of
their ships in my territory, what must King George do? Why, he _must_
assist them; which he _will_ do, and defend them against everyone who
shall attempt to injure them." In consequence of this speech, and his
exertions, not a thing was taken from the wreck by the savages who had
collected for that purpose.


[Footnote 4: The chief referred to by Mr. Earle as Shulitea, or King
George, was a noted Bay of Islands chief named Whareumu. He was killed in
a fight with the Hokianga tribes, in March, 1828. (See appendix.)]



This anecdote proves that King George and his people possessed feelings
of honour and generosity, which, if properly cultivated, might lead to
the most happy results. From the length of time these people have been
known to the Europeans, it might naturally be expected that great changes
would have taken place in their habits, manners, arts, and manufactures;
but this is not the case. Their huts are of the same diminutive
proportions as described by Captain Cook; their clothing and mats, their
canoes and paddles, are precisely the same as when that navigator
described them. When they can obtain English tools, they use them in
preference to their own; still their work is not better done. The only
material change that has taken place is in their mode of warfare.

The moment the New Zealanders became acquainted with the nature of
firearms, their minds were directed but to one point, namely, to become
possessed of them. After many ingenious and treacherous attempts to
obtain these oft-coveted treasures, and which, for the most part, ended
in their defeat, they had recourse to industry, and determined to create
commodities which they might fairly barter for these envied muskets.
Potatoes were planted, hogs were reared, and flax prepared, not for their
own use or comfort, but to exchange with the Europeans for firearms.
Their plans succeeded; and they have now fairly possessed themselves of
those weapons, which at first made us so formidable in their eyes; and as
they are in constant want of fresh supplies of ammunition, I feel
convinced it will always be their wish to be on friendly terms with us,
for the purpose of procuring these desirable stores. I have not heard of
a single instance in which they have turned these arms against us, though
they are often grossly insulted.

In their combats with each other, firearms are used with dreadful effect.
The whole soul of a New Zealander seems absorbed in the thoughts of war;
every action of his life is influenced by it; and to possess weapons
which give him such a decided superiority over those who have only their
native implements of offence, he will sacrifice everything. The value
attached by them to muskets, and their ceaseless desire to possess them,
will prove a sufficient security to foreigners who enter their harbours,
or remain on their coasts; as I know, from experience, that the New
Zealanders will rather put up with injuries than run the risk of
offending those who manufacture and barter with them such inestimable



A few days after my arrival in the Bay, I crossed to the opposite side,
to visit the Church missionary settlement, and to deliver a letter of
introduction I had to one of the members. Here, on a beautiful bank, with
a delightful beach in front, and the entrance of the bay open to them,
the clear and blue expanse of water speckled over with fertile islands,
reside these comfortable teachers of the Gospel. The name they have given
this spot is "Marsden Vale." They very soon gave us to understand they
did not wish for our acquaintance, and their coldness and inhospitality
(I must acknowledge) created in my mind a thorough dislike to them. The
object of the mission, as it was first planned, might have been attained,
and might have proved highly beneficial to the New Zealanders; but as it
is now conducted, no good result can be expected from it. Any man of
common sense must agree with me, that a savage can receive but little
benefit from having the abstruse points of the Gospel preached to him, if
his mind is not prepared to receive them. This is the plan adopted here;
and nothing will convince these enthusiasts that it is wrong, or induce
them to change it for one more agreeable to the dictates of reason.

Upon inquiring who and what these men were, I found that the greater part
of them were hardy mechanics (not well-educated clergymen), whom the
benevolent and well-intentioned people of England had sent out in order
to teach the natives the importance of _different trades_--a most
judicious arrangement, and which ought to be the foundation of all
missions. What could be a more gratifying sight than groups of these
athletic savages, toiling at the anvil or the saw; erecting for
themselves substantial dwellings; thus leading them by degrees to know
and to appreciate the comforts resulting from peaceful, laborious, and
useful occupations? Then, while they felt sincere gratitude for services
rendered them, at their leisure hours, and on certain days, _these_
missionaries should attempt to expound to them, in as simple a manner as
possible, the nature of revealed religion!

In New Zealand, the "mechanic" missionary only carries on his trade till
he has every comfort around him--his house finished, his garden fenced,
and a strong stockade enclosing all, to keep off the "pagan" savages.
This done, then commences the easy task of preaching. They collect a few
ragged urchins of natives, whom they teach to read and write their own
language--the English tongue being forbidden; and when these children
return to their families, they are despised by them, as being effeminate
and useless.

I once saw a sturdy blacksmith in the prime of life, sitting in the midst
of a group of savages, attempting to expound to them the mysteries of our
holy redemption--perplexing his own brains, as well as those of his
auditors, with the most incomprehensible and absurd opinions. How much
better would he have been employed in teaching them how to weld a piece
of iron, or to make a nail!

What causes much disapprobation here, is the contemptuous manner in which
they treat their own countrymen, as they receive most of them on the
outside of their stockade fence.

On our return from Marsden Vale, our savage friends laughed heartily at
us. They had warned us of the reception we should meet with; and their
delight at seeing us again formed a strange contrast to that of their
Christian teachers, whose inhospitable dwellings we determined never to



A few days after my visit to the missionaries, while we were busily
employed in constructing our huts, assisted by about fifty natives, on a
sudden a great commotion took place amongst them. Each left his work and
ran to his hut, and immediately returned armed with both musket and
cartouch box: apparently all the arms in the village were mustered, and
all seemed ready for immediate use. On inquiring into the cause of all
these war-like preparations, I was informed that Hongi and his chief men
were crossing the bay in several large war canoes; and though he was
considered as a friend and ally, yet, as he was a man of such desperate
ambition, and consummate cunning, it was considered necessary to receive
him under arms, which he might take either as a compliment, or as a proof
of how well they were aware of the guest they were receiving.

This man, Hongi, was a most extraordinary character, and a person I had
long had a great curiosity to see, his daring and savage deeds having
often been the subject of conversation in New South Wales. In his own
country he was looked upon as invulnerable and invincible. In the year
1821 he had visited England, during which he had been honoured by having
a personal interview with George the Fourth, and had received from His
Majesty several valuable presents; amongst others, were a superb suit of
chain armour, and a splendid double-barrelled gun. From possessing these
arms, so far superior to any of his neighbours, he looked upon himself
as impossible to be conquered, and commenced a career of warfare and
destruction on all his enemies, and nearly exterminated them. His friends
called him "a god," and his enemies feared him as "a devil." Last year,
Hongi made war upon, and totally annihilated, the tribe who had fifteen
years previously attacked and murdered the crew of the Boyd. He had long
determined to take revenge for that treacherous action, as he always
styled himself "the friend of the English." After this, he removed his
residence, and took possession of the conquered district. But in this his
last battle he had to fight without his invulnerable coat of mail, his
slaves having stolen it and gone over with it to the enemy. His people
were now confirmed in their superstition respecting its being proof
against shot, by his having received during the combat a bullet in the
breast, from the effects of which he is fast sinking into the grave. His
companions related the following extraordinary anecdote concerning him
after he received this wound, which proves his great presence of mind.

His party were retreating, and the enemy were charging him vigorously;
Hongi stood alone when he received the bullet; he did not fall
immediately, and the enemy were eagerly running up to despatch him, when
he roused all his energies, and shouted aloud for the two hundred chiefs,
who lay concealed, to rush forward and fall on. The foe, hearing this,
paused, when about a dozen chiefs, and indeed, as Hongi well knew, all
that he had, suddenly made their appearance. This caused a panic; they
turned about; the pursued became the pursuers, and nearly the whole tribe
were destroyed.



He landed about a mile from the village, and we lost no time in procuring
an interpreter, with whom we went instantly to pay our respects to this
celebrated conqueror.

We found him and his party; his slaves preparing their morning repast.
The scene altogether was highly interesting. In a beautiful bay,
surrounded by high rocks and overhanging trees, the chiefs sat in mute
contemplation, their arms piled up in regular order on the beach. Hongi,
not only from his high rank (but in consequence of his wound being
toboo'd, or rendered holy), sat apart from the rest. Their richly
ornamented war canoes were drawn up on the strand; some of the slaves
were unlading stores, others were kindling fires. To me it almost seemed
to realise some of the passages of Homer, where he describes the wanderer
Ulysses and his gallant band of warriors. We approached the chief, and
paid our respects to him. He received us kindly, and with a dignified
composure, as one accustomed to receive homage. His look was emaciated;
but so mild was the expression of his features, that he would have been
the last man I should have imagined accustomed to scenes of bloodshed and
cruelty. But I soon remarked, that when he became animated in
conversation, his eyes sparkled with fire, and their expression changed,
demonstrating that it only required his passions to be roused to exhibit
him under a very different aspect. His wife and daughter were permitted
to sit close to him, to administer to his wants, no others being allowed
so to do, on account of his taboo.

He was arrayed in a new blanket, which completely enveloped his figure,
leaving exposed his highly-tattooed face, and head profusely covered with
long, black, curling hair, adorned with a quantity of white feathers. He
was altogether a very fine study; and, with his permission, I made a
sketch of him, and also one including the whole group. Finding we were
newcomers, he asked us a variety of questions, and, among others, our
opinion of his country. His remarks were judicious and sensible, and he
seemed much pleased with our admiration of his territory. I produced a
bottle of wine that I had brought with me, and his wife supplied him with
a few glasses, which seemed to revive and animate him.

We were then invited to join him in a trip in one of his canoes, in which
was placed a bed for him to recline upon; his wife seated herself close
to him, while his daughter, a very pretty, interesting girl about fifteen
years of age, took a paddle in her hand, which she used with the greatest
dexterity. I took the liberty of presenting her with a bracelet, with
which she seemed highly delighted; when Hongi, perceiving that I was in a
giving mood, pointed to his beard, and asked me for a razor. Fortunately,
I had put one in my pocket on setting out, and I now presented it to
him, by which gifts we continued on terms of great sociability and
friendship. After a pleasant cruise with this (to us) extraordinary
family, and contriving to make ourselves pretty well understood, we
returned about the close of the day, and landed at the bay. All the
natives were much delighted at our confidence in them, and we were
equally gratified by their hospitality.



I was much amused with the punctilios used in the visit of ceremony paid
to King George. Hongi, accompanied by about a dozen of his chiefs,
advanced towards our settlement, leaving their guns and hatchets behind
them; as they approached, all our tribe discharged their pieces in the
air. When they met, all rubbed noses (a ceremony never to be dispensed
with on formal occasions). They were then conducted by King George to his
huts on the beach, and in the enclosure in front of them the warriors
squatted on the ground. Hongi, being tabooed, or under the immediate
protection of their Atua, or God, still sat apart. Then the mother of
George, called Tururo, or the Queen, and who is regarded quite as a sybil
by the whole tribe, approached Hongi with the greatest respect and
caution, and seated herself some paces from his feet. She then began,
with a most melancholy cadence (her eyes streaming with tears and fixed
upon the ground), the song of welcome. All their meetings of ceremony or
friendship begin with the shedding of copious floods of tears; and as
Hongi's visit was such an unhoped for and unexpected honour, so much
greater in proportion was the necessity for their lamentations. This
woeful song lasted half an hour, and all the assembly were soon in tears;
and though at first I was inclined to turn it into ridicule, I was soon
in the same state myself. The pathetic strain, and the scene altogether,
was most impressive. As the song proceeded, I was informed of the nature
of the subject, which was a theme highly calculated to affect all
present. She began by complimenting the wounded warrior, deploring the
incurable state of his wound, and regretting that God was wanting him,
and was about so soon to take him from his friends! Then she recounted
some of his most celebrated deeds of valour, naming and deploring the
number of his friends who had fallen bravely in the wars, and lamenting
that the enemies who had killed them were still living! This part seemed
to affect them powerfully; and when Tururo ceased her song (being quite
exhausted) they all rose, thus demonstrating their respect and

This was followed by a general attack upon the good things King George
had prepared for them. The slaves came flocking in, bearing baskets of
hot kumaras, potatoes, and fish. I observed their tears had not spoiled
their appetites; they ate voraciously. After having done great honour to
the feast, they all started on their feet for a dance, which lasted a
long while, and with which they concluded the evening.

The dances of all savage nations are beautiful, but those of the New
Zealanders partake also of the horrible. The regularity of their
movements is truly astonishing; and the song, which always accompanies a
dance, is most harmonious. They soon work themselves up to a pitch of
frenzy; the distortions of their face and body are truly dreadful, and
fill the mind with horror. Love and war are the subjects of their songs
and dances; but the details of the latter passion are by far the most
popular among them. I was astonished to find that their women mixed in
the dance indiscriminately with the men, and went through all those
horrid gestures with seemingly as much pleasure as the warriors

The next morning I was awakened, at daybreak, by the most dismal sounds I
had ever heard. I started up, and found it proceeded from the tribes
parting with each other. They had divided themselves into little parties,
each forming a circle, and were crying most piteously, and cutting their
flesh as a cook would score pork for roasting. On such occasions each is
armed with a sharp shell, or, if he can possibly obtain so valuable a
prize, a piece of a broken glass bottle. All were streaming with tears
and blood, while Hongi and his friends embarked in their large and
richly-ornamented canoes, and sailed from our beach. After his departure,
I soon discovered that, notwithstanding their apparent affection, King
George and his friends were most happy their visitors had left them; and
that it was more the dread of Hongi's power, than love for him, that
induced them to treat him with such respect and homage.



I made several excursions into the interior, and each confirmed me in the
good opinion I had formed of the natives. I felt myself quite safe
amongst them. There is a great peculiarity in rambling through this
country; namely, the total absence of quadrupeds. There are abundance of
birds, which are so numerous at times as almost to darken the air--many
of them possessing very sweet notes; and wild ducks, teal, etc., cover
the various streams. Wherever I went I did not discover any grass, almost
every part being covered either with fern or flax; the former yielding
the natives their principal article of food, and the latter their
clothing. To this dearth of animals may be attributed the chief cause of
their ferocity and propensity to cannibalism.

In most uncivilised countries the natives use their arms against the wild
animals of the forest. The dangers and difficulties they encounter in
overcoming them form a kind of prelude to war, and perfect them in the
use of their weapons. The rifle of the North American Indian would never
be so much dreaded did he not depend upon its produce for his
subsistence. I have myself (during my travels through North America) had
many opportunities of witnessing the certain aim they take both with the
arrow and the bullet; while those in the southern parts of that vast
continent, who depend on taking the wild cattle, acquire, by constant
practice, an equal dexterity with the _lassoo_, which those who have not
witnessed it could scarcely imagine possible. The New Zealander, while
handling a musket, is quite in a state of trepidation; and though it is
his darling weapon he seems always afraid of it, and is never sure of his
aim till he is quite close to his object. I have mentioned this fact to
several Europeans who had accompanied various tribes to battle, and they
all informed me they made a sad bungling use of the musket; their aim
would be surer if they had large and ferocious animals to hunt or contend
with. There is another circumstance that operates against their acquiring
skill in the use of the gun: they are so fond of cleaning, scrubbing, and
taking them to pieces, that in a short time the locks become loose, the
screws are injured, and they are soon rendered entirely useless, to the
great surprise and dismay of their owners, who are constantly pestering
the Europeans by bringing them _sick_ muskets (as they call them) to look
at, and put to rights, and are quite surprised that we "cannot make them
well again." They cannot be made to comprehend that every white man does
not know how to make a musket, or, at least, to repair it.



On the 24th November we took our departure from the bay, as we had to
return to Hokianga, where we had left our brig; and it was only under a
promise of making a speedy return, and remaining longer with them, that
our savage friends would suffer us to leave them. We expected to reach
the Kerikeri River before night; but in this we were disappointed. It at
length became quite dark; and the ebb tide making against us, rendered
further advance impossible. We had to seek some place of shelter for the
night, and not a hut was visible. While we were debating on what was best
to be done, we observed a light from the shore, and made for it; but, it
being low water, our boat stuck fast in the slime long before we reached
the banks; we were, consequently, obliged to wade knee-deep through the
slippery mud. We soon discovered a party of women sitting round a fire
made in the midst of the swamp. They had come here for the purpose of
procuring shell-fish; and as they are never very fastidious about shelter
or dry beds, they had determined (according to their usual custom) to
pass the night where they had been occupied during the day. This sort of
bivouac I found excessively uncomfortable. The moment we were seated the
water began to ooze out an inch or two all round us. We sought in vain
for a dry place, for we were enveloped in darkness, and surrounded by
rushes and flags six or seven feet high; but, being very much fatigued,
we slept, notwithstanding the misery of a wet bed, with a cloud of fog
for curtains. I did not wake till one of the women gave me a good shake,
and informed me that the day was well up. They had prepared us a
breakfast of hot shell-fish, which they had caught the preceding day, and
they all seemed delighted by our eating heartily of them. As we had some
biscuits in our boat, we sent for them, and gave our "fair founders of
the feast" a share; and we were all very sociable and merry. When we left
them, as it was again low water, the women carried us to our boat, and
took their leave of us amidst peals of laughter. This was another proof
to me that the English are quite safe, though travelling unguarded,
amongst these people.



About nine the next morning we reached the Kerikeri River; and, it being
Sunday, the members of the mission met us on landing, and used all their
endeavours to prevent our travelling on that day; but, independent of the
urgent necessity of our reaching Hokianga, the captain of our vessel, who
was with us, being particularly anxious to return on board, we continued
our journey, and at night came to a bivouac in a dense wood, so that we
now had the luxury of stretching our weary limbs on dry ground. The next
day, as we journeyed towards the river, we fell in with all our old
friends, who inquired into the particulars of our adventures, and seemed
highly delighted at our return.

We found "all right" on board the brig; but as she was chartered to go to
Tongataboo I and my friend Shand determined to remain at New Zealand till
her return. Our principal difficulty seemed to be which side of the
island we should make choice of for a dwelling-place. When it became
known to the natives that we intended to remain with them, several chiefs
came and offered us their protection; and each would have built us a
house, but we preferred making our sojourn at the Bay of Islands. We were
often at a loss how to evade the kind importunities of our savage hosts
without giving them offence. "Is not our country as good as
theirs?"--"Are you not as safe amongst us?"--"Are we not as willing and
as capable of protecting you as Shulitea?" These were the arguments they
used; and, finally, we were obliged to inform them that we had a friend
and countryman (Captain Duke) settled on the other side, who was
preparing a house for our reception. On being informed of this
circumstance they consented to part with us, though evidently with great

While we lay here the ship Harmony, of London, Captain Middleton, arrived
from Sydney for a cargo of spars. So large a vessel entering the port put
the whole district into commotion; and when the chiefs understood the
nature of her wants, and had seen the fine double-barrelled guns and
store of powder to be given as payment for the wished-for freight, they
hastened to the woods, and the axe was soon laid to the roots of the
trees. I saw them pursuing their laborious employ with alacrity. In a few
days a sufficient number of fine logs came floating down the river to
load the ship, and they were all cleared in a workmanlike manner, ready
to stow away. The chief things to induce these people to work are
firearms and powder; these are two stimulants to their industry which
never fail.

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