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

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A few days after our return to Hokianga we received intelligence that A
Rowa, the father of Mooetara, and the eldest chief in the district, was
dead. These deaths, when they occur among men of rank, are generally
accompanied by some horrible scenes of butchery among their slaves--a
common custom among all savages, but practised here (I was informed) with
peculiar cruelty. We went on shore to witness the ceremony of A Rowa's
lying in state, hoping at the same time that our presence might induce
them to dispense with some of those barbarous cruelties which generally
accompany their funeral rites. We had, indeed, every reason to think we
had conjectured rightly, for nothing of the kind took place; which was
considered by all as a circumstance somewhat remarkable. A great
concourse of savages had assembled all round the village of the deceased
chief, and there was a tremendous firing of muskets, but no particular
marks of grief. I spoke to Mooetara, and requested, as a favour, if it
were not breaking through their established rules, that he would conduct
me to the body of his father. He accordingly led me to the outside of the
village; and under a rude hut (constructed for the purpose) lay the body
of the deceased chief, closely covered up with mats, leaving only part of
the face and head exposed; in his hair was stuck a profusion of long
white feathers, by way of ornament. Two women (whom I understood were his
wives) sat close to the corpse; they were painted all over with red
ochre, and seemed to perform the parts of chief mourners. These kept up a
low moaning noise, and occasionally whisked off the flies from the face
of the deceased. The women, the corpse, the hut, and the ground for some
space round them, were all strictly tapued. Some bundles of fish, and
some calabashes filled with oil, were left close by the body, intended
for his consumption during his passage to the next world.

I imagine that one reason of no outrage having been committed during this
solemn occasion was our brig being on the point of sailing, and previous
to her departure a great deal of traffic was expected to be carried on
with the natives, for there was still a considerable quantity of muskets
undisposed of; and I think, in this instance, avarice overcame filial
affection--the minds of the chief's family being so intent upon obtaining
good bargains, that they had not time to sit and mourn over their
departed parent, nor to work themselves up into a paroxysm of passion
sufficiently violent to cause them to murder their slaves. This afforded
me a convincing proof that as soon as they are occupied by commerce, or
the useful arts, their barbarous rites will gradually be discontinued,
and will speedily cease altogether.

Our brig having sailed, we were again alone with these wild yet
interesting people. We expected our stay might be about six months, and
had provided a stock-in-trade, consisting of a barrel of powder, half a
dozen muskets, some fish-hooks, and a quantity of tobacco. Everything we
possessed we delivered into the hands of the natives, who accounted to
us for the stock thus entrusted to their management with the most
scrupulous exactness. Nothing can be fairer than their mode of bartering
with the Europeans; the prices are fixed; ten large hogs, or 120 baskets
of potatoes (about a ton and a-half), are given for a musket; for small
articles, such as fish, Indian corn, or fruits, the ready money are
fish-hooks and tobacco. As we were now about to become inhabitants of New
Zealand, it became necessary that we should be well acquainted with the
particulars of their methods of "doing business," and that we should
apply ourselves diligently to the study of the language, which we
acquired much more readily than I had anticipated.



A few days after the departure of the brig I witnessed a specimen of
their summary method of executing justice. A chief, resident in the
village, had proof of the infidelity of one of his wives; and, being
perfectly sure of her guilt, he took his patoo-patoo (or stone hatchet)
and proceeded to his hut, where this wretched woman was employed in
household affairs. Without mentioning the cause of his suspicion, or once
upbraiding her, he deliberately aimed a blow at her head, which killed
her on the spot; and, as she was a slave, he dragged the body to the
outside of the village, and there left it to be devoured by the dogs. The
account of this transaction was soon brought to us, and we proceeded to
the place to request permission to bury the body of the murdered woman,
which was immediately granted. Accordingly, we procured a couple of
slaves, who assisted us to carry the corpse down to the beach, where we
interred it in the most decent manner we could.

This was the second murder I was very nearly a witness to since my
arrival; and the indifference with which each had been spoken of induced
me to believe that such barbarities were events of frequent occurrence;
yet the manners of all seemed kind and gentle towards each other; but
infidelity in a wife is never forgiven here; and, in general, if the
lover can be taken, he also is sacrificed along with the adulteress.
Truth obliges me to confess that, notwithstanding these horrors staring
them in the face, they will, if opportunity offers, indulge in an



As there were two roads across to the Bay of Islands, and I was anxious
to see as much of the country as possible, I determined that my second
journey should be by the longest route. I set off, accompanied only by a
native boy to carry a small portmanteau and to serve me as a guide. As,
on my former journey, we travelled many miles through thick tangled
forests, fatiguing beyond description. In the midst of our toilsome
progress, night frequently overtook us; then, by means of my
fowling-piece, I procured a light, the boy made a fire, and we passed the
night in this vast wilderness, far from the habitation of any human
being! At daybreak we resumed our journey, and at length (about ten
o'clock) we emerged from the wood, and entered upon extensive plains.
These were not naked deserts, similar to the ones I had passed through on
my former route, but were diversified with bush and brake, with a number
of small villages scattered in various directions. At mid-day we arrived
at what in New Zealand is considered a town of great size and importance,
called Ty-a-my. It is situated on the sides of a beautiful hill, the top
surmounted by a pa, in the midst of a lonely and extensive plain, covered
with plantations of Indian corn, Kumara and potatoes. This is the
principal inland settlement, and, in point of quiet beauty and
fertility, it equalled any place I had ever seen in the various countries
I have visited. Its situation brought forcibly to my remembrance the
scenery around Canterbury.

We found the village totally deserted, all the inhabitants being employed
in their various plantations; they shouted to us as we passed, thus
bidding us welcome, but did not leave their occupations to receive us. To
view the cultivated parts of this country from an eminence a person might
easily imagine himself in a civilised land; for miles around the village
of Ty-a-my nothing but beautiful green fields present themselves to the
eye. The exact rows in which they plant their Indian corn would do credit
to a first-rate English farmer, and the way in which they prepare the
soil is admirable. The greatest deficiency which I observed in the
country around me was the total absence of fences; and this defect
occasions the natives a great deal of trouble, which might very easily be
avoided. Hogs are the principal part of their wealth, with which, at all
times, they can traffic with vessels touching at their ports. These
animals, consequently, are of the utmost importance to them; but during
the growth of their crops, the constant watching the hogs require to keep
them out of the plantations consumes more time than would effectually
fence in their whole country; but I have no doubt, as they already begin
to follow our advice and adopt our plans, they will soon see the utility
of fencing in their land. I have at various times held many conversations
with different chiefs on this subject, all of whom have acknowledged the
propriety of so doing.

A few miles after leaving this beautiful village we came to a spot
covered with heaps of cinders and hillocks of volcanic matter. I found
all these hillocks small craters, but none of them, burning; and for
miles our road lay through ashes and lava. These fires must have been
extinguished many ages since, as there is not the slightest tradition
among any of the natives of their ever having been burning.

After passing over this lava, our journey lay through a very swampy
country, intersected with streams. I got completely wearied with
stripping to wade through them, so that at length I plunged in clothes
and all. At the close of a most fatiguing day's march, we arrived in
sight of the bay, having travelled over an extent of about fifty miles
since the morning! No canoe being in sight, and we being too distant to
make signals to our brig, we had to pass another night in bivouac on a
part of the beach called Waitangi; and as it did not rain we slept pretty
comfortably. The next morning I procured a canoe, and went on board our

The day following the brig took her final departure from New Zealand, and
we bade farewell to Captain Kent. We now formally placed ourselves under
the protection of King George, who seemed highly pleased with his charge;
and in a few days three good houses were ready for our reception--one for
ourselves, a second for our stores, and a third for our servants. But our
pleasant prospects were soon obscured by a circumstance totally
unexpected, which placed us in a most critical situation, and which we
had every reason to fear would lead to our total destruction.



I was roused one morning at daybreak by my servant running in with the
intelligence that a great number of war canoes were crossing the bay. As
King George had told us but the evening before that he expected a visit
from Ta-ri-ah, a chief of the tribe called Ngapuhis, whose territory lay
on the opposite side of the bay, and given us to understand that Ta-ri-ah
was a man not to be trusted, and therefore feared some mischief might
happen if he really came, the sight of these war canoes naturally caused
us considerable alarm, and we sincerely wished that the visit was over.

We dressed ourselves with the utmost expedition, and walked down to the
beach. The landing of these warriors was conducted with a considerable
degree of order, and could I have divested myself of all ideas of danger
I should have admired the sight excessively. All our New Zealand
friends--the tribe of Shulitea--were stripped naked, their bodies were
oiled, and all were completely armed; their muskets were loaded, their
cartouch boxes were fastened round their waists, and their patoo-patoos
were fixed to their wrists. Their hair was tied up in a tight knot at the
top of their heads, beautifully ornamented with feathers of the
albatross. As the opposite party landed, ours all crouched on the ground,
their eyes fixed on their visitors, and perfectly silent. When the
debarkation was completed I observed the chief, Ta-ri-ah, put himself at
their head, and march towards us with his party formed closely and
compactly, and armed with muskets and paddles. When they came very near
they suddenly stopped. Our party continued still mute, with their
firelocks poised ready for use. For the space of a few minutes all was
still, each party glaring fiercely on the other; and they certainly
formed one of the most beautiful and extraordinary pictures I had ever
beheld. The foreground was formed by a line of naked savages, each
resting on one knee, with musket advanced, their gaze fixed on the
opposite party, their fine, broad, muscular backs contrasting with the
dark foliage in front, and catching the gleam of the rising sun. The
strangers were clothed in the most grotesque manner imaginable--some
armed, some naked, some with long beards, others were painted all over
with red ochre; every part of each figure was quite still, except the
rolling and glaring of their eyes on their opponents. The background was
formed by the beach, and a number of their beautiful war canoes dancing
on the waves; while, in the distance, the mountains on the opposite side
of the bay were just tinged with the varied and beautiful colours of the
sun, then rising in splendour from behind them.

The stillness of this extraordinary scene did not last long. The Ngapuhis
commenced a noisy and discordant song and dance, yelling, jumping, and
making the most hideous faces. This was soon answered by a loud shout
from our party, who endeavoured to outdo the Ngapuhis in making horrible
distortions of their countenances; then succeeded another dance from our
visitors, after which our friends made a rush, and in a sort of rough
joke set them running. Then all joined in a pell-mell sort of encounter,
in which numerous hard blows were given and received; then all the party
fired their pieces in the air, and the ceremony of landing was thus
deemed completed. They then approached each other, and began rubbing
noses; and those who were particular friends cried and lamented over each

The slaves now commenced the labour of making fires to cook the morning
meal, while the chiefs, squatting down, formed a ring, or, rather, an
oblong circle, on the ground; then one at a time rose up, and made long
speeches, which they did in a manner peculiar to themselves. The speaker,
during his harangue, keeps running backwards and forwards within the
oblong space, using the most violent but appropriate gesticulation; so
expressive, indeed, of the subject on which he is speaking, that a
spectator who does not understand their language can form a tolerable
idea as to what the affair is then under debate. The orator is never
interrupted in his speech; but, when he finishes and sits down, another
immediately rises up and takes his place, so that all who choose have an
opportunity of delivering their sentiments, after which the assembly
breaks up.

Though the meeting of these hostile tribes had thus ended more amicably
than King George and his party could have expected, it was easily to be
perceived that the Ngapuhis were determined on executing some atrocity or
depredations before their return; they accordingly pretended to recollect
some old offence committed by the English settlers at the other end of
the beach. They proceeded thither, and first attacked and broke open the
house of a blacksmith, and carried off every article it contained. They
then marched to the residence of an English captain (who was in England),
and plundered it of everything that could be taken away, and afterwards
sent word they intended to return to our end of the beach. Our fears were
greatly increased by finding that our friends were not sufficiently
strong to protect us from the superior force of the Ngapuhis, and our
chief, George, being himself (we supposed) conscious of his inability,
had left us to depend upon our own resources.



We now called a council of war of all the Europeans settled here; and it
was unanimously resolved that we should protect and defend our houses and
property, and fortify our position in the best way we could. Captain Duke
had in his possession four twelve-pounders, and these we brought in front
of the enclosure in which our huts were situated, and were all entirely
employed in loading them with round and grape shot, and had made them all
ready for action, when, to our consternation and dismay, we found we had
a new and totally unexpected enemy to contend with. By some accident one
of our houses was in flames. Our situation was now perilous in the
extreme. The buildings, the work of English carpenters, were constructed
of dry rushes and well-seasoned wood, and this was one of a very
respectable size, and we had hoped, in a very few days, would be finished
fit for our removing into.

For some seconds we stood in mute amazement, not knowing to which point
to direct our energies. As the cry of "fire" was raised, groups of
natives came rushing from all directions upon our devoted settlement,
stripping off their clothes, and yelling in the most discordant pitch of
voice. I entered the house, and brought out one of my trunks, but on
attempting to return a second time I found it filled with naked savages,
tearing everything to pieces, and carrying away whatever they could lay
their hands upon. The fierce raging of the flames, the heat from the
fire, the yells of the men, and the shrill cries of the women, formed,
altogether, a horrible combination; added to all this was the
mortification of seeing all our property carried off in different
directions, without the least possibility of our preventing it. The tribe
of the Ngapuhis (who, when the fire began, were at the other end of the
beach) left their operations in that quarter and poured down upon us to
share in the general plunder. Never shall I forget the countenance of the
chief, as he rushed forward at the head of his destroying crew! He was
called "The Giant," and he was well worthy of the name, being the tallest
and largest man I had ever seen; he had an immense bushy black beard, and
grinned exultingly when he saw the work of destruction proceeding with
such rapidity, and kept shouting loudly to his party to excite them to
carry off all they could.

A cask containing seventy gallons of rum now caught fire and blew up with
a terrible explosion; and, the wind freshening considerably, huge volumes
of smoke and flame burst out in every direction. Two of our houses were
so completely enveloped that we had given up all hopes of saving them.
The third, which was a beautifully carved tapued one, some little
distance from the others, and which we had converted into a store and
magazine, was now the only object of our solicitude and terror. For,
besides the valuable property of various kinds which were deposited
within it, it contained several barrels of gunpowder! It was in vain we
attempted to warn the frantic natives to retire from the vicinity of this
danger. At length we persuaded about a dozen of the most rational to
listen while we explained to them the cause of our alarm; and they
immediately ascended to the roof, where, with the utmost intrepidity and
coolness, they kept pouring water over the thatch, thus lessening the
probability of an immediate explosion. About this time we noticed the
reappearance of King George, which circumstance rekindled our hopes. He
was armed with a thick stick, which he laid heavily on the backs of such
of his subjects as were running away with our property, thus forcing them
to relinquish their prizes, and to lay them down before his own mansion,
where all was safe. By this means a great deal was recollected. The fire
was now nearly extinguished; but our two really tolerably good houses
were reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and the greater part of what
belonged to us was taken away by the Ngapuhis.

This calamity had made us acquainted with another of their barbarous
customs, which is, whenever a misfortune happens to a community, or an
individual, every person, even the friends of his own tribe, fall upon
and strip him of all he has remaining. As an unfortunate fish, when
struck by a harpoon, is instantly surrounded and devoured by his
companions, so in New Zealand, when a chief is killed, his former friends
plunder his widow and children; and they, in revenge, ill-use and even
murder their slaves--thus one misfortune gives birth to various
cruelties. During the fire, our allies proved themselves the most adroit
and active thieves imaginable, though previously to that event we had
never lost an article, although everything we possessed was open to them.

When we questioned them about our property, they frankly told us where it
was; and, after some difficulty in settling the amount of its ransom, we
got most of our things back again, with the exception of such as had been
carried off by the Ngapuhis.

Upon the cruelty of this custom I shall make no comments. Probably I
should have remained in ignorance of this savage law, had I not had the
misfortune to become its victim.

By redeeming from the natives what they had purloined from the fire, we
had restored to us some of our boxes, desks, and clothes; but all our
little comforts towards housekeeping were irretrievably lost. When the
fire was over we received a visit from one of the missionaries, who made
us a cold offer of assistance. We accepted a little tea, sugar and some
few articles of crockery from them; but, although they knew we stood
there houseless, amongst a horde of savages, they never offered us the
shelter of their roofs. I am very sure that had the calamity befallen
them, we should immediately have offered our huts, and shared with them
everything we possessed. Here was an opportunity of practically showing
the "pagans" (as they termed the New Zealanders) the great Christian
doctrine of "doing to others as we would they should do unto us." I must
acknowledge I was sometimes mortified at being obliged to sleep (three of
us huddled up close together) in a small New Zealand hut, filled with
filth and vermin of all kinds, while at only two miles' distance from us
stood a neat village, abounding in every comfort that a bountiful British
public could provide; and we, members of that community, and, indeed,
partly contributors to the funds for its support.

The high state of excitement into which the savages had been thrown by
the late conflagration gradually subsided, and as we had escaped the
dreaded calamity of our magazine blowing up, we began to look with
calmness on our desolate condition, and draw comfort from thinking how
much worse we might have been circumstanced than we then were. I hope our
distress may prove a benefit to future sojourners in this country, by
showing them the great importance of forming a proper magazine for
powder. The agonies I suffered in contemplating the destruction which six
barrels of powder, each of an hundredweight, would cause amongst a mob of
several hundred naked savages, it is impossible to imagine!

King George, as well as all his people, were most anxious to build us a
new habitation entirely themselves. They requested us to give them the
dimensions of the various dwellings, and said we should have no further
trouble about them. A party accordingly proceeded to the bush to collect
materials. They first formed the skeleton of a cottage containing three
rooms, with slight sticks, firmly tied together with strips of flax.
While this was in progress, another party was collecting rushes (which
grow plentifully in the neighbourhood, called Ra-poo). These they spread
in the sun for twenty-four hours, when they considered them sufficiently
dry. They then thatched every part of the house, which for neatness and
strength was equal to anything I had ever seen. The doors and windows we
employed our carpenter to make, these being luxuries quite beyond the
comprehension of the natives. We were thus tolerably well lodged again;
and our time passed on tranquilly, almost every day developing some fresh
trait of character amongst these children of nature.



I went to reside for a short time at a village about half a mile distant,
where there was a pretty good house vacant. It was called Ma-to-we, and
belonged to a chief named Atoi, a relation of George's, but a much
younger man. His power was not so great, and he was every way subject to
the authority of the tribe under whose protection I had placed myself.
One morning, at daybreak, we were roused by the hasty approach of King
George and all his warriors towards Ma-to-we. All were fully equipped for
war, and each countenance looked fierce and wild. Our late misfortunes
having rendered us more than usually anxious, this hostile appearance
gave us considerable alarm. We left our house to inquire the reason
thereof, and saw George and his followers enter the village, pull down
several fences, fire a few muskets in the air, dance a most hideous dance
of defiance, and then depart; but not one word of explanation could we
obtain from him. In the course of the morning, however, the women
acquainted us with the cause of this mysterious proceeding, which
determined me to remove my things back again to George's village of
Kororarika as soon as possible.

The affair was simply this: Atoi had two wives. During the time of our
visit to his village, he was absent, and had entrusted these women to the
care of his brother; but he, instead of being faithful to the trust
reposed in him, had actually seduced one of them. This circumstance came
to the knowledge of George, and he, feeling for the honour of his absent
friend, immediately proceeded to the village, and thus gave the parties
warning that he was fully aware of the nature of their proceedings. He
had also dispatched a messenger to Atoi, to inform him of his disgrace,
and to request his immediate return. In the course of the day it was
expected he would arrive, and bring with him a strong party of friends,
all burning with revenge, and eager to punish his brother for his
unnatural perfidy. It was thought that unless George interfered, much
bloodshed might ensue; and it may readily be imagined how anxious we were
that this dreaded meeting should be over; yet I (for one) had determined
that I would be a witness of it. Therefore, when word was brought to me
that Atoi was crossing the bay, I hastened down to the beach. There I
found all parties assembled from both villages. George and his followers,
who were to act as mediators, sat immediately in front of the place of
landing; behind them were Atoi's brother and all his partizans; and in
the rear were all the women and children, with about a dozen white faces
scattered amongst them. The scene was picturesque and exceedingly
interesting. It was near the close of a lovely summer's day--the sun,
fast sinking towards the horizon, threw a warm and mellow glow over the
wide expanse of the far-spreading bay, whose smooth waters were only
disturbed by the approaching canoe cutting its foamy way. It was crowded
with naked warriors, urging their rapid course towards the shore; and we
heard the loud and furious song of the chief, animating his friends to
exertion; we saw his frantic gestures, as he stood in the centre of his
canoe, brandishing his weapons. As they came near the place of landing,
George ran into the stream, and as the canoe touched the shore, attacked
Atoi, but in a playful manner, splashing water over him. Thus irritated,
Atoi jumped on land, and, with a double-barrelled musket in his hand, ran
towards his brother, and doubtless would have killed him on the spot, had
he not been prevented. I now saw the advantage of George and his party
being present. He and three of his subjects seized upon Atoi, and tried
to wrest the weapon from his hands, which if they had been able to
effect, a mortal combat could not take place, such being the custom here.
Atoi was a very powerful man of about thirty, and those who attacked him
had a most difficult task; twice he broke from them; and I then watched
the countenance of his brother, which was perfectly cool and collected,
though the firelock was in readiness, and the finger on the trigger,
which might despatch him instantly. All parties sat perfectly quiet
during the desperate struggle; one of the barrels of Atoi's piece went
off, and the contents flew amongst us, without, however, doing any
material injury; and, finally, the musket was wrested out of his hands.
He then sat still for about twenty minutes, to recover his breath, when
he seized a club and rushed upon his brother (for mortal weapons were now
prohibited). The brother started up, armed in the same manner; some heavy
blows passed between them; when, having thrown aside their clubs, they
grappled each other firmly, and a dreadful struggle ensued. As they were
both completely naked, their hair was the only thing to take hold by; but
being long, thick, and strong, it afforded a firm grasp, and they
committed desperate havoc on each other's persons. At this period of the
fight their poor old mother, who was quite blind, came forward to try and
separate the combatants; the sister and younger brothers now followed her
example; and, finally, the fair and frail cause of all this commotion.

The brothers, having completely exhausted their strength, were easily
separated; and as their friends had carefully removed all weapons out of
their reach, they of course were deprived of the means of injuring each
other. The members of Atoi's family, together with a few friends, now sat
down in a circle, to converse and consult on the affair. Atoi's wife
totally denied the charge, and protested her innocence, and many
circumstances were brought forward to corroborate her statements. The
husband at length was satisfied, and all parties were reconciled.



This affair was scarcely terminated, when we found that another of a
still more serious nature was likely to arise from it and would threaten
the peace of both villages. When King George sent his messenger to inform
Atoi of the infidelity of his wife, the infuriated husband assaulted the
man, and it was rumoured that he had killed him. This was an offence not
to be forgiven, and George was so exasperated by it that he vowed he
would exterminate the whole of Atoi's tribe. A native, however, arrived
with the intelligence that the man was not dead, but only wounded. This
did not seem to allay George's feelings of resentment, and he instantly
made great preparations for war. When our anxiety was wound up to the
utmost, we were greatly astonished to see Atoi and all his friends
approach our settlement, totally unarmed. George went out to meet them,
looking so full of rage that I thought Atoi stood but a slight chance for
his life. After a great deal of violent pantomimic action and grimace,
the apology offered by Atoi was accepted, and the visit was concluded by
a grand war-dance and sham fight performed in their best manner. King
George, in the fulness of his heart at this complete restoration of
friendship, gave a great feast of kumaras and fish, to which we added
some tobacco; and the whole of the party seated themselves by each other
with the utmost sociality--a convincing proof that animosity is not long
an inmate of their breasts.

I took every opportunity of inquiring into the nature of their laws and
mode of government, and I found that, in general, their method of
redressing wrongs was very summary, and that their ideas of what was
strictly just were, for the most part, simple and equitable. For any
theft, or offence of that sort, committed by one tribe on another, the
parties are called to instant account. If one native takes from another
any part of his possessions, the party injured has a right to retaliate,
and the party retaliated upon must not make the slightest resistance. We
ourselves experienced a proof of this. Some part of our property, which
we supposed had been destroyed by our late fire, we had been told was to
be found in the hut of a neighbouring chief. We one day took advantage of
his absence, searched the hut ourselves, and discovered our things
carefully deposited therein. Thus assured of the fact, we laid our
complaint before King George, who, after hearing our story to the end,
replied, "Well, my friends, you must go to the hut and take away all your
property, and whatever else you may find, which you may think sufficient
payment for the injury you have received." We accordingly proceeded to
the chief's dwelling, whom we found standing at his door. We charged him
with having robbed us, and entered the house to seize our property. He
held down his head, and seemed ashamed and overpowered at this discovery.
He did not attempt to vindicate his conduct, but quietly allowed us not
only to take away all that had belonged to us, but likewise a musket and
double-barrelled gun, which he concluded he had lost for ever. These we
had only taken away temporarily to deter him from theft in future, for a
few days after we brought them back to him, to his infinite delight and

I was frequently shocked during my residence in this country by the
number of accidents which continually happened to the natives from
gunpowder, and not even the saddest experience could render them more
careful. We were doubtful of the strength of a French fowling-piece we
had, so we loaded it to the muzzle and discharged it, in order to prove
it. Some young chiefs, who saw us do this (approving of this method), as
soon as they returned home loaded a musket in the same manner, and then
discharged it; but not managing the affair as we did--by means of a
string fastened to the trigger--the piece burst, and mangled two of them
dreadfully, and we got greatly blamed for showing them what was
considered so bad an example.

A few months since a native came from the interior driving a quantity of
pigs to barter for powder; he obtained several pounds' weight, and set
off to return home. On his journey he passed the night in a hut, and for
safety put the bag of powder under his head as a pillow; and as a New
Zealander always sleeps with a fire close to him, the consequence was, in
the course of the night the fire communicated to the powder, and
destroyed the man and the whole of his family, who were journeying with



Last year a chief, and cousin of King George, named Pomare, was defeated
and killed by the people of the Thames, and George was now resolved to
revenge his death. This determination having become known, we had a
constant succession of visitors, and a considerable number of blows,
scratches, and rubbing noses were the consequence. Our beach presented a
most interesting and busy scene. A dozen superb war canoes were lying
ready to convey the forces; and, considering their limited means, the
solidity of their structure and the carved work on them are surprising.
None but men of rank are allowed to work upon them, and they labour like
slaves. Some canoes were to be lengthened; others patched; others were
condemned to be broken up, and the fragments taken to complete the new
ones. Every morning we were awakened by the sound of the hammer and saw,
and they were much gratified by our walking down to their dockyard to
observe the progress they made, and by giving our opinions of their work.
They thankfully received any hint we gave them as to better methods of
completing or proceeding with their operations. Here were carvers,
painters, caulkers, and sailmakers, all working in their different
departments with great good humour and industry. Some of their vessels
were eighty feet long, and were entirely covered with beautiful
carving. Their form was light and delicate, and if their intentions were
hostile towards us, they would be very formidable alongside any merchant
man. If our Government should determine to colonise any part of New
Zealand, they would find the natives hardy and willing assistants, and
very different from the natives of New South Wales.

[Illustration: Maori War Expedition (With Mission boat accompanying

As their canoes were ready for launching, they ran them off the beach,
jumped into them, and scudded across the bay with an almost incredible
swiftness. When it is considered that in each canoe were seated eighty
stout young men, each with a large paddle in his hand propelling the
vessel forward, the velocity with which she flew may be imagined! It was
in the midst of scenes like these that we were passing our time, and I
had just become delighted with the appearance of innocence and industry
so continually displayed by these people, when I was called upon to
witness a sight which exhibited their character in its worst light, and
confirmed all my horrible suspicions regarding their alleged cannibalism.

The New Zealanders have been long charged with cannibalism; but as no
person of importance or celebrity had actually been a witness to the
disgusting act, in pity to our nature such relations have been
universally rejected, and much has been written to prove the
non-existence of so hideous a propensity. It was my lot to behold it in
all its horrors!

One morning, about eleven o'clock, after I had just returned from a long
walk, Captain Duke informed me he had heard, from very good authority
(though the natives wished it to be kept a profound secret), that in the
adjoining village a female slave, named Matowe, had been put to death,
and that the people were at that very time preparing her flesh for
cooking. At the same time he reminded me of a circumstance which had
taken place the evening before. Atoi had been paying us a visit, and,
when going away, he recognised a girl whom he said was a slave that had
run away from him; he immediately seized hold of her, and gave her in
charge to some of his people. The girl had been employed in carrying wood
for us; Atoi's laying claim to her had caused us no alarm for her life,
and we had thought no more on the subject; but now, to my surprise and
horror, I heard this poor girl was the victim they were preparing for the
oven! Captain Duke and myself were resolved to witness this dreadful
scene. We therefore kept our information as secret as possible, well
knowing that if we had manifested our wishes they would have denied the
whole affair. We set out, taking a circuitous route towards the village,
and, being well acquainted with the road, we came upon them suddenly, and
found them in the midst of their abominable ceremonies.

On a spot of rising ground, just outside the village, we saw a man
preparing a native oven, which is done in the following simple manner:--A
hole is made in the ground, and hot stones are put within it, and then
all is covered up close. As we approached, we saw evident signs of the
murder which had been perpetrated; bloody mats were strewed around, and a
boy was standing by them actually laughing: he put his finger to his
head, and then pointed towards a bush. I approached the bush, and there
discovered a human head. My feelings of horror may be imagined as I
recognised the features of the unfortunate girl I had seen forced from
our village the preceding evening!

We ran towards the fire, and there stood a man occupied in a way few
would wish to see. He was preparing the four-quarters of a human body for
a feast; the large bones, having been taken out, were thrown aside, and
the flesh being compressed, he was in the act of forcing it into the
oven. While we stood transfixed by this terrible sight, a large dog,
which lay before the fire, rose up, seized the bloody head, and walked
off with it into the bushes, no doubt to hide it there for another meal!
The man completed his task with the most perfect composure, telling us,
at the same time, that the repast would not be ready for some hours!

Here stood Captain Duke and myself, both witnesses of a scene which many
travellers have related, and their relations have invariably been treated
with contempt; indeed, the veracity of those who had the temerity to
relate such incredible events has been everywhere questioned. In this
instance it was no warrior's flesh to be eaten; there was no enemy's
blood to drink, in order to infuriate them. They had no revenge to
gratify; no plea could they make of their passions having been roused by
battle, nor the excuse that they eat their enemies to perfect their
triumph. This was an action of unjustifiable cannibalism. Atoi, the
chief, who had given orders for this cruel feast, had only the night
before sold us four pigs for a few pounds of powder; so he had not even
the excuse of want of food. After Captain Duke and myself had consulted
with each other, we walked into the village, determining to charge Atoi
with his brutality.

Atoi received us in his usual manner; and his handsome, open countenance
could not be imagined to belong to so savage a monster as he had proved
himself to be. I shuddered at beholding the unusual quantity of potatoes
his slaves were preparing to eat with this infernal banquet. We talked
coolly with him on the subject, for, as we could not prevent what had
taken place, we were resolved to learn, if possible, the whole
particulars. Atoi at first tried to make us believe he knew nothing about
it, and that it was only a meal for his slaves; but we had ascertained it
was for himself and his favourite companions. After various endeavours to
conceal the fact, Atoi frankly owned that he was only waiting till the
cooking was completed to partake of it. He added that, knowing the horror
we Europeans held these feasts in, the natives were always most anxious
to conceal them from us, and he was very angry that it had come to our
knowledge; but, as he had acknowledged the fact, he had no objection to
talk about it. He told us that human flesh required a greater number of
hours to cook than any other; that if not done enough it was very tough,
but when sufficiently cooked it was as tender as paper. He held in his
hand a piece of paper, which he tore in illustration of his remark. He
said the flesh then preparing would not be ready till next morning; but
one of his sisters whispered in my ear that her brother was deceiving us,
as they intended feasting at sunset.

We inquired why and how he had murdered the poor girl. He replied that
running away from him to her own relations was her only crime. He then
took us outside his village, and showed us the post to which she had been
tied, and laughed to think how he had cheated her: "For," said he, "I
told her I only intended to give her a flogging; but I fired, and shot
her through the heart!" My blood ran cold at this relation, and I looked
with feelings of horror at the savage while he related it. Shall I be
credited when I again affirm that he was not only a handsome young man,
but mild and genteel in his demeanour? He was a man we had admitted to
our table, and was a general favourite with us all; and the poor victim
to his bloody cruelty was a pretty girl of about sixteen years of age!

While listening to this frightful detail, we felt sick almost to
fainting. We left Atoi, and again strolled towards the spot where this
disgusting mess was cooking. Not a native was now near it: a hot, fetid
steam kept occasionally bursting from the smothered mass; and the same
dog we had seen with the head now crept from beneath the bushes, and
sneaked towards the village. To add to the gloominess of the whole, a
large hawk rose heavily from the very spot where the poor victim had been
cut in pieces. My friend and I sat gazing on this melancholy place; it
was a lowering, gusty day, and the moaning of the wind through the
bushes, as it swept round the hill on which we were, seemed in unison
with our feelings.

After some time spent in contemplating the miserable scene before us,
during which we gave full vent to the most passionate exclamations of
disgust, we determined to spoil this intended feast. This resolution
formed, we rose to execute it. I ran off to our beach, leaving Duke on
guard, and, collecting all the white men I could, I informed them of what
had happened, and asked them if they would assist in destroying the oven
and burying the remains of the girl. They consented, and each having
provided himself with a shovel or a pickaxe, we repaired in a body to
the spot. Atoi and his friends had by some means been informed of our
intention, and they came out to prevent it. He used various threats to
deter us, and seemed highly indignant; but as none of his followers
appeared willing to come to blows, and seemed ashamed that such a
transaction should have been discovered by us, we were permitted by them
to do as we chose. We accordingly dug a tolerably deep grave; then we
resolutely attacked the oven. On removing the earth and leaves, the
shocking spectacle was presented to our view--the four quarters of a
human body half roasted. During our work clouds of steam enveloped us,
and the disgust created by our task was almost overpowering. We collected
all the parts we could recognise; the heart was placed separately, we
supposed, as a savoury morsel for the chief himself. We placed the whole
in the grave, which we filled up as well as we could, and then broke and
scattered the oven.

By this time the natives from both villages had assembled, and a scene
similar to this was never before witnessed in New Zealand. Six unarmed
men, quite unprotected (for there was not a single vessel in the harbour,
nor had there been for a month), had attacked and destroyed all the
preparations of the natives for what they consider a national feast; and
this was done in the presence of a great body of armed chiefs, who had
assembled to partake of it. After having finished this exploit, and our
passion and disgust had somewhat subsided, I could not help feeling that
we had acted very imprudently in thus tempting the fury of these savages,
and interfering in an affair that certainly was no concern of ours; but
as no harm accrued to any of our party, it plainly shows the influence
"the white men" have already obtained over them; had the offence we
committed been done by any hostile tribe, hundreds of lives would have
been sacrificed.

The next day our old friend King George paid us a long visit, and we
talked over the affair very calmly. He highly disapproved of our conduct.
"In the first place," said he, "you did a foolish thing, which might have
cost you your lives; and yet did not accomplish your purpose after all,
as you merely succeeded in burying the flesh near the spot on which you
found it. After you went away it was again taken up, and every bit was
eaten"--a fact I afterwards ascertained by examining the grave and
finding it empty. King George further said: "It was an old custom, which
their fathers practised before them; and you had no right to interfere
with their ceremonies. I myself," added he, "have left off eating human
flesh, out of compliment to you white men; but you have no reason to
expect the same compliance from all the other chiefs. What punishment
have you in England for thieves and runaways?" We answered, "After trial,
flogging or hanging." "Then," he replied, "the only difference in our
laws is, you flog and hang, but we shoot and eat."

After thus reproving us, he became very communicative on the subject of
cannibalism. He said, he recollected the time prior to pigs and potatoes
being introduced into the island (an epoch of great importance to the New
Zealanders), and stated that he was born and reared in an inland
district, and the only food they then had consisted of fern roots and
kumara; fish they never saw, and the only flesh he then partook of was
human. But I will no longer dwell on this humiliating subject. Most
white men who have visited the island have been sceptical on this point;
I myself was before I had "ocular proof." Consequently I availed myself
of the first opportunity to convince myself of the fact. I have reflected
upon the subject, and am thoroughly satisfied that nothing will cure the
natives of this dreadful propensity but the introduction of many
varieties of animals, both wild and tame, and all would be sure to thrive
in so mild and fine a climate.



The scene I have just described brings into consideration the subject of
slavery, as it now exists in New Zealand. That slavery should be the
custom of savage nations and cannibals, is not a cause of wonder: they
are the only class of human beings it ought to remain with. Here slavery
assumes its most hideous shape! Every one they can effect a seizure of in
an enemy's country becomes the slave of the captors. Chiefs are never
made prisoners; they either fight to the last, or are killed on the spot,
and their heads are preserved (by a peculiar method) as trophies.
Children are greatly prized: these they bring to their dwellings, and
they remain slaves for life. Upon the number of slaves a chief can muster
he takes his rank as a man of wealth and consequence in society; and the
only chance these wretched beings have of being released from their
miseries, is their master getting into a rage, and murdering them without
further ceremony.

On entering a village, a stranger instantly discovers which portion of
its inhabitants are the slaves, though both the complexion and the
dresses of all are alike. The free Zealander is a joyous, good-humoured
looking man, full of laughter and vivacity, and is chattering
incessantly; but the slaves have invariably a squalid, dejected look;
they are never seen to smile, and appear literally half starved. The
beauties characteristic of a New Zealander are his teeth and hair; the
latter, in particular, is his pride and study; but the slaves have their
heads half shorn. The male slave is not allowed to marry; and any
intercourse with a female, if discovered, is generally punished by death.
Never was there a body of men so completely cut off from all society as
these poor slaves; they never can count, with certainty, on a single
moment of life, as the savage caprice of their master may instantly
deprive them of it. If, by chance, a slave should belong to a kind and
good master, an accident happening to him, or any of his family, will
probably prove equally fatal to the slave, as some are generally
sacrificed on the death of a chief.

Thus these poor slaves are deprived of every hope and stimulus by which
all other classes and individuals are animated; no good conduct of theirs
towards their master, no attachment to his person or family, no fidelity
or long service can ensure kind treatment. If the slave effect his escape
to his own part of the country, he is there treated with contempt; and
when he dies (if a natural death), his body is dragged to the outside of
the village, there to be made sport of by the children, or to furnish
food for the dogs! but more frequently his fate is to receive a fatal
blow in a fit of passion, and then be devoured by his brutal master! Even
the female slaves who, if pretty, are frequently taken as wives by their
conquerors, have not a much greater chance of happiness, all being
dependent upon the caprice of their owners.

When I can relate anything favourable to the missionaries, I invariably
intend to do so, which will account for the introduction of the
following: A few days since, I paid a visit to one of their settlements,
and noticed a remarkably fine native woman attending as a servant. She
was respectably dressed, and in every respect (except complexion) she was
similar to a European. She spoke English fluently. Upon expressing my
admiration of her, I was informed that this woman had been a slave of
Hongi's, and that about a year previous he had lost one of his sons, and
had determined to sacrifice this poor girl as an atonement. She was
actually bound for the purpose, and nothing but the strong interference
of the whole of the missionary society here could have saved her life.
They exerted themselves greatly, and preserved her; and she had proved a
faithful and valuable servant.



Before finally quitting the subject of slavery, I must give an account of
some white men I saw in this state of degradation, and who belonged to a
chief who visited us some weeks since. In the beginning of 1827, the
Government of New South Wales hired the brig Wellington to convey a
number of prisoners to Norfolk Island, most of whom were felons of the
worst description: the greater part were under sentence of banishment for
life. These desperadoes amounted to seventy-four; by far too many for the
size of the brig, as those whose duty is was to guard them, and the crew
of the vessel, were too few to keep them under subjection. When within a
few days' sail of their destination, they rose on the guard, and, after a
desperate struggle, made themselves masters of the vessel, which was a
very fine one, and was well provided with arms and stores of every kind,
amounting to a sufficiency to carry them to any part of the world they
chose. But the machinations of the wicked rarely prosper, and this was
another proof of the truth of the observation; for, after a stormy and
violent debate among themselves, they at length determined to run for the
Bay of Islands, and if any vessel more eligible was there, they were to
take possession of her, and leave the Wellington behind, she having no
register. It is but justice to them to state that they behaved with
humanity to their captives, and no lives were lost: they appointed
officers amongst themselves, and, with the assistance of the deposed
captain, made this port. On their arrival here, they found two English
whalers, the Sisters, Captain Duke, and the Harriet. The commanders, as
is usual on these occasions, went immediately on board the newcomer.
Captain Duke well knew the vessel, having seen her at Sydney; but, of
course, had no idea of what had happened. The pirates received them with
great civility, and deceived them with a false description of their
voyage--of being bound to a southern port with prisoners; and the two
captains, not having the slightest suspicion of who their hosts really
were, passed a very merry evening with these marauders.

Soon, however, their bad management of the vessel, their want of
discipline, and the general confusion on board, roused a vague suspicion
in the minds of the two captains that all was not "quite right" on board
the Wellington. The real captain, too, had succeeded in conveying a note
to Duke, informing him of his situation, and claiming his assistance to
recapture the brig, and entreating him to release them all from

This communication produced universal alarm, as both the whalers were
quite unprovided for attack or defence, and all the missionary
settlements lay quite at the mercy of this band of pirates. Had the
latter acted with promptness and spirit, they might easily have made
themselves masters of the whole; but while they were arguing and
hesitating where they would make their first attack, the whalers were
actively employed in getting their great guns out of the hold, and in
preparing their vessels for defence; so that, by the time the pirates
came to the resolution to attack them, the whalers were in a good
posture for resistance, and finally became the assailants. Aided by the
prompt assistance of the natives, the whole of these outlaws were taken
into custody, with the exception of six. The extreme interest the savages
took in capturing these deluded men was truly astonishing. When they were
made to understand that these were King George's (of England) slaves, who
had broken loose, they knew, from their own laws, that they ought to be
taken, and they displayed a great deal of courage and address in
approaching and securing them.

The pirates (having many passengers and others in their power) stipulated
that they should be landed at Kororarika, unmolested by any of the
English. This was granted; but no sooner were they left by themselves
than a party of natives came forward, seized and bound them, stripped off
their clothes, and, after dressing themselves up in them, conducted their
prisoners on board the whalers; but notwithstanding the anxiety of the
whalers to secure the whole, and the activity of the natives, six of them
found means to elude the search, and here they now are.

The day on which our houses were burned, these six landed in the train of
one of the chiefs; and I have since entertained a suspicion that it was
their desire of revenge that occasioned the destruction of our property
at the time the calamity happened. I chanced to be in the house alone,
and was amazed by seeing an Englishman enter the hut with his face
tattooed all over. Not being aware he was one of the runaways from the
Wellington, I spoke to him. He slunk into our cooking-house on pretence
of lighting his pipe, and before ten minutes had elapsed, the house was
in flames.



The summer was now far advanced, and never, during its progress, had we
been incommoded by any very hot weather. Our house was generally crowded
with visitors: for, as it was the workmanship of King George and his
people, they were prodigiously proud of it, and each seemed to think he
had an undoubted right to sit in it as much as he liked. This, at times,
we felt as a great annoyance; but we were obliged to be very cautious not
to say or do anything that should give offence to them, as all were
exceedingly irritable, and we felt it to be most essential to our comfort
to continue on friendly terms with them.

Although we were situated in the same latitude as Sydney, we found the
climate of New Zealand infinitely superior. Moderate heats and
beautifully clear skies succeeded each other every day. We were quite
free from those oppressive, feverish heats which invariably prevail in
the middle of the day at Sydney, and from those hot pestilential winds
which are the terror of the inhabitants of New South Wales; nor were we
subject to those long droughts, which are often the ruin of the
Australian farmer. The temperature here was neither too hot nor too cold,
neither too wet nor too dry. Reflecting on this country--its situation,
inhabitants, and climate--I felt convinced that, if it were the object of
our Government to form a new colony, they could not select a more
desirable spot than New Zealand. When we left Sydney, a disease was
raging there of a most disagreeable nature, namely, catarrh. As usual, it
affected strongly the eyes and nose, and generally proved fatal to the
very old and to children. We found the poor natives here subject to the
same complaint, which they called the "Murray," or "Murraybad"; and they
declared they caught it from us Europeans.

I could scarcely refrain from laughing while witnessing the strange
methods they adopted to effect a cure. Sometimes they would envelope
their heads entirely in green leaves, at other times they would almost
roast themselves in a heated hut; but their universal remedy, and the one
they generally found successful, was starvation, which is, in fact, the
doctor who cures them of all the diseases the Europeans have imported
amongst them: and, I confess, I have often been amazed at their rapid
recovery from maladies which I should have thought incurable. The other
day I asked the opinion of a clever medical man, who came here with one
of the whalers, and he informed me the only cases he had met with amongst
the natives, which terminated fatally, were a few instances of

After the novelty of our savage life began to wear away, I rambled much
about the country, in order to form some judgment of its capability of
improvement. I never possessed any practical knowledge of farming, and
therefore cannot give a scientific opinion or description of the
different soils. In whatever direction I travelled, and at this time I
had crossed the country in various directions several times, the soil
appeared to me to be fat and rich, and also well watered. From every
part of it which the natives have cultivated, the produce has been
immense. Here, where the finest samples of the human race are to be
found, the largest and finest timber grows, and every vegetable (yet
planted) thrives, the introduction of European grasses, fruits, etc.,
etc., would be a great desideratum. Were this done, in a very short time
farms would be more eagerly sought after here than they now are in New
South Wales. All the fruits and plants hitherto introduced by the
missionary establishments have succeeded wonderfully. Peaches and water
melons now were in full season; the natives brought baskets full of them
to our door every day, which they exchanged with us for the merest
trifles, such as a fish-hook, or a button.

Indian corn was likewise very abundant, but as the natives did not
possess any means or knowledge of grinding it, they were not aware of its
full value. Their only method of cooking it was one very disgusting to
Europeans. They soaked the ear in water till it was quite soft and sour,
the smell from which was exceedingly offensive; they then placed it in
their earth ovens to bake, and when they partook of it they seemed to
enjoy it very much.

In one of my journeys across the island I was accompanied by my Scotch
friend, Mr. Shand, who prided himself very much upon his general
knowledge of agricultural pursuits; and when I indulged in some sudden
bursts of admiration at the beauty of the surrounding prospect, he would
invariably check my enthusiasm, by observing that no animals could
possibly live in a country so overgrown with fern, and where no grass was
indigenous. These observations, often repeated, obliged me to qualify my
admiration of this picturesque and beautiful land; but my surprise, and I
may say my triumph, were complete when, on approaching the missionary
village of Kirikiri, we fell in with a herd of at least a hundred fat
cattle, browsing on the sides of the hill, and having nothing else but
this very fern to eat; and, on inquiry, we found they gave as good milk,
and were in as healthy a condition, as when they grazed on the rich
grasses of Lincolnshire.

My friend, Captain Duke, made great preparations for the return of his
ships, and purchased many pigs to be salted. The self-denial of the
natives is wonderful: though very fond of animal food, they sell the
whole to us Europeans for the means of war; thus conquering the appetite
for the purpose of possessing arms to make them terrible in the sight of
their enemies. This feeling, properly directed, may lead to their
becoming a great nation. In the course of our saltings and picklings of
pork, owing to the warmth of the weather, a considerable quantity was
spoiled. I recommended its being immediately thrown into the sea, but
Duke, who knew the propensities of the people better than I did, and
wished to ingratiate himself among them, sent for some of his favourites,
and presented them with the damaged meat, with which they marched off
highly delighted, and made a public feast of it in the evening.

[Illustration: New Zealand Method of Tattooing. (From a sketch by
A. Earle.)]



The art of tattooing has been brought to such perfection here, that
whenever we have seen a New Zealander whose skin is thus ornamented, we
have admired him. It is looked upon as answering the same purposes as
clothes. When a chief throws off his mats, he seems as proud of
displaying the beautiful ornaments figured on his skin as a first-rate
exquisite is in exhibiting himself in his last fashionable attire. It is
an essential part of war-like preparations. The whole of this district of
Kororarika was preparing for the approaching war. Their canoes, muskets,
powder and balls, increased daily; and a very ingenious artist, called
Aranghie, arrived to carry on this important branch of his art, which was
soon placed in requisition, for all the mighty men in the neighbourhood
were one by one under his operating hands.

As this "professor" was a near neighbour of mine, I frequently paid him a
visit in his "studio," and he returned the compliment whenever he had
time to spare. He was considered by his countrymen a perfect master in
the art of tattooing, and men of the highest rank and importance were in
the habit of travelling long journeys in order to put their skins under
his skilful hands. Indeed, so highly were his works esteemed, that I have
seen many of his drawings exhibited even after death. A neighbour of mine
very lately killed a chief who had been tattooed by Aranghie, and,
appreciating the artist's work so highly, he skinned the chieftain's
thighs, and covered his cartouch box with it.

I was astonished to see with what boldness and precision Aranghie drew
his designs upon the skin, and what beautiful ornaments he produced; no
rule and compasses could be more exact than the lines and circles he
formed. So unrivalled is he in his profession, that a highly-finished
face of a chief from the hands of this artist is as greatly prized in New
Zealand as a head from the hands of Sir Thomas Lawrence is amongst us. It
was most gratifying to behold the respect these savages pay to the fine
arts. This "professor" was merely a _kooky_ or slave, but by skill and
industry he raised himself to an equality with the greatest men of his
country; and as every chief who employed him always made him some
handsome present, he soon became a man of wealth, and was constantly
surrounded by such important personages as Pungho Pungho, Ruky Ruky, Kivy
Kivy, Aranghy Tooker, etc., etc. My friend Shulitea (King George) sent
him every day the choicest things from his own table. Though thus basking
in the full sunshine of court favour, Aranghie, like a true genius, was
not puffed up with pride by his success, for he condescended to come and
take tea with me almost every evening. He was delighted with my drawings,
particularly with a portrait I made of him. He copied so well, and seemed
to enter with such interest into the few lessons of painting I gave him,
that if I were returning from here direct to England, I would certainly
bring him with me, as I look upon him as a great natural genius.

[Illustration: Specimens of Tattooed Faces and Thigh. (From "Expedition
de l'Astrolabe.")]

One of the important personages who came to the village to employ the
talent of our artist was a _Mr_. Rooky Rooky (and he was always very
particular in remembering the _Mister_); he brought four of his wives
with him, leaving six more at home (polygamy in New Zealand being allowed
to any extent). One of this man's wives was a little girl not more than
ten years of age, and she excited a great deal of interest amongst us,
which, when he discovered, he became very anxious to dispose of her to
any of us. He importuned us incessantly on the subject, saying she was
his slave, and offered her in exchange for a musket.



Though from my increased knowledge of the language, I was enabled to hold
longer conversations, I could not discover that the New Zealanders had
any universal form of government: there appeared to me to be no public
bodies, or any functionaries employed by the people. Each chief seemed to
possess absolute power over his own slaves, and there his authority
terminated. Wealth made him feared by his foes, but gave him no influence
over his friends. All offence offered to any one of a tribe (or clan) is
instantly followed by some act of retaliation by the aggrieved party; and
if one tribe is too weak to contend against the one from whom they have
received the injury, they call in the aid of another. But should the
offence be of a very aggravated nature, and several families be injured
by it, a meeting of the chiefs is called. They assemble in one of their
forts, and, after a discussion, decide either for an amicable adjustment,
or for an exterminating war. Thus these misguided beings are continually
destroying each other for some imaginary insult.

I became acquainted with a few venerable men of truly noble and
praiseworthy characters, such as would do honour to any age, country, or
religion. They had passed their whole lives in travelling from one
chieftain's residence to another, for the purpose of endeavouring to
explain away insults, to offer apologies, and to strive by every means
in their power to establish peace between those about to plunge their
country into the horrors of war. I have several times met these
benevolent men journeying through the country on these pacific missions;
and twice during my residence here they have been the happy means of
preventing bloodshed. Although the New Zealander is so fond of war, and
possesses such war-like manners, yet are these peacemakers held in the
highest respect, although they do not hold any sacred function--indeed,
no order of priesthood exists amongst the natives. I have never
discovered any symptoms of religion in these people, except it consists
in a great variety of absurd and superstitious ceremonies. Before I
visited this island I used to imagine, from seeing so great a variety of
carved figures which had been brought from this country, that they were
idols, to whom they paid their devotions; but in this I was deceived.
They were merely the grotesque carvings of rude artists, possessing a
lively fancy, and were a proof of their industry as well as genius. Every
chief's house is adorned with an abundance of these carved monsters. One
of their favourite subjects is a lizard taking hold of the top of a man's
head; their tradition being that that was the origin of man. The lizard
is sacred, and never injured by them. Several of their chiefs assured me
they believed in the existence of a great and invisible spirit, called
Atna, who keeps a constant charge and watch over them; and that they are
constantly looking out for tokens of his approbation or displeasure.
There is not a wind that blows but they imagine it bears some message
from him. And there are not wanting crafty men who pretend to a much more
intimate knowledge of his sentiments than the generality, and they easily
work on the minds of the credulous and the ignorant. These imposters
obtain great consideration, and their counsel and advice is most
anxiously sought after by those about to undertake any important
business; but, like ancient astrologers and modern gypsies, they speak
only in ambiguous terms; so that whatever may be the result, their
prediction may still correspond with it.

Like all rude and ignorant people, the New Zealanders seem more to fear
the wrath of their God than to love his attributes; and constant
sacrifices (too often human ones) are offered up to appease his anger.
They imagine that the just and glorious Deity is ever ready to destroy,
and that His hand is always stretched forth to execute vengeance.

These sacred, or, more correctly speaking, these "cunning" men and women,
who pretend to see into futurity, and to hold an intercourse with the
Great Spirit, are here (in one way, at least) turned to a good and useful
account. As they themselves are held sacred, everything they wish to have
taken particular care of, they can render sacred also. All the chiefs
find these people of the greatest use in protecting their property, for
they possess the power of tabooing, and when once this ceremony is
performed over any person or thing, no one dares to touch either; and for
a sufficiently good bribe they will impart their sacred power to any
chief, who, by means of this device, thus can protect a field of potatoes
or grain, at fifty miles distance from his settlement, more securely and
effectually than by any fences, or number of persons he might place to
guard it.

This ceremony of taboo, which is common to the whole of the South Sea
Islands, seems the principal part of their religion, and it is really
difficult to walk without trespassing or infringing on some spot under
this influence. All those who touch a corpse are immediately taboo'd, and
must be fed like an infant, as their own hands must not touch anything
that is put into their mouths. In fact, as we strolled through the
village at the time of their evening repast, it appeared as though some
dreadful disease had suddenly struck the greater part of the inhabitants,
and deprived them of the use of their limbs, most of them being either
fed by their slaves, or lying flat down on the ground, and with their
mouths eating out of their platters or baskets. The canoe that carries a
corpse to the place of its interment is, from that time, taboo'd and laid
up; and if any one by chance touches it, he does so at his peril.

All those chiefs who were under the operating hands of Aranghie, the
tatooer, were under this law, and all those who worked upon their war
canoes were similarly situated. Unfortunately for me, I one day took away
a handful of chips from their dockyard to make our fire burn clearly. I
was informed they were taboo'd, and upon my pleading ignorance, and
sorrow for the misdemeanour, together with a promise not to renew the
offence, I was pardoned. A poor hen of ours did not escape so well; she,
poor thing, ventured to form a nest, and actually hatched a fine family
of chickens amongst these sacred shavings! Loud was the outcry, and great
the horror she occasioned when she marched forth cackling, with her merry
brood around her. She and "all her little ones" were sacrificed
instantly. What became of their bodies we could never learn; probably the
workmen were not too fastidious to eat them.

I have observed, since my residence here, one circumstance which proves a
kind feeling in the natives, and shows they are not averse to the
preaching of the missionaries, or the doctrines they inculcate.

It was the custom of all the Europeans settled here, on the beach at
Kororarika, to refrain from all kinds of work on the Sabbath; to shave,
and dress themselves in their best habiliments; and if any of the
missionaries came over, they went forth to meet them, and hear divine
service. Several of the natives generally assembled and witnessed the
ceremony; and as they observed it came every seventh day, they called it
"the white taboo'd day, when the pakeha (or white men) put on clean
clothes, and leave off work;" and, strange to say, the natives also
abstained from working on that day. Nothing could induce them to the
contrary; not that we wished to persuade them to work, but merely
endeavoured so to do to ascertain the strength of their politeness. Not a
bit of work would they do upon a Sunday, although it was a critical time
with them; for all the chiefs were unprepared with their war canoes for
the approaching expedition. At length we discovered that their cunning
was as conspicuous as their politeness. They had observed we generally
lay longer in bed on a Sunday morning than any other; they accordingly
were up by break of day, and had completed many hours' work before we
made our appearance; but the moment one of us did appear the work was
instantly left off. This degree of outward respect, though craftily
managed, was infinitely more than could be reasonably expected from a
rude and turbulent savage. It is mere respect than we Europeans pay to
any religious ceremony we do not understand. Even their taboo'd grounds
would not be so respected by us, if we were not quite certain they
possessed the power instantly to revenge any affront offered to their
sacred places.

Of all animals introduced by the Europeans, the most unserviceable, and
indeed injurious, have been the dogs. They have increased rapidly; every
spot was crowded with poor half-starved curs, that were all night long
committing depredations on the poultry, pigs, and goats; and if some
effectual means of diminishing this pernicious breed is not soon resorted
to, the island will be cleared of every other quadruped. Goats were
beginning to increase, and the craggy heights round the bays formed a
favourite retreat for these interesting wanderers. Captain Duke put
himself to great expense and trouble, and effected the importation of
some sheep from Van Diemen's Land; but the dogs soon destroyed them all.


Our friend George generally paid us a visit after the business of the day
was over, and took a cup of tea; wine or grog he detested: so, while he
sipped his beverage, we lit our pipes, and managed, with our slight
knowledge of his language, together with his imperfect English, to keep
up a sort of conversation. Sometimes this was rather wearisome; but
occasionally it became interesting in the extreme. He told us that, when
Captain Cook touched here, he was a little child; but that his mother
(old Turero, who was then with him) remembered his coming well. The
French navigator, Marion, he recollected perfectly, and made one of the
party that murdered him and his people. His observation was, "They were
all brave men; but they were killed and eaten."

He assured us that the catastrophe was quite unpremeditated. Marion's
entire ignorance of the customs of the New Zealanders occasioned that
distressing event: as I have before observed, that strangers, not
acquainted with their religious prejudices, are likely to commit some
fatal error; and no action is more likely to lead a party into danger
than an incautious use of the seine, for most of the beaches (best suited
for that purpose) are taboo'd. This led to the dreadful fate of Marion
and his party. I understood from George, that when Marion's men assembled
to trail their net on the sacred beach, the natives used every kind of
entreaty and remonstrance to induce them to forbear, but, either from
ignorance or obstinacy, they persisted in their intentions, and drew
their net to land.

The natives, greatly incensed by this act of impiety, vowed revenge; and
the suspicions of the French not being roused, an opportunity soon
presented itself of taking ample retaliation. The seine being very heavy,
the French required the assistance of the natives in drawing it on shore.
These wily fellows instantly consented to the task, and placed themselves
alternately between each Frenchman, apparently, to equalise the work.
Consequently, in the act of pulling, each native had a white man before
him; and, on an appointed signal, the brains of each European were
knocked out by a tremendous blow of the stone hatchet.

Captain Marion, who, from his ship, was an eye-witness of these horrid
murders, instantly hastened on shore with the remainder of his crew to
avenge the slaughter of his countrymen. Led on more by ardour than
prudence, he suffered himself to be surrounded; was overpowered by
numbers, defeated, and every one was put to death!

This account of George's does not, I acknowledge, exactly agree with the
published narrative of that unfortunate event, nor does his age agree
with the dates. Only a few years elapsed between the time of Cook and
Marion, yet he declares himself to have been a child at the death of the
navigator, and a man at the murder of the latter; but as it was voluntary
on his part to give me the above detail, and even if he were not present
himself, he most probably had the facts from one who was, I thought it
worth inserting, as tending to throw light on one of the most melancholy
events which ever took place on these coasts.

George also related to me the dreadful tragedy of the ship Boyd, and,
horrible as these relations were, I felt a particular interest, almost
amounting to pleasure, in hearing them related by an eye-witness; one who
had been an actor in those bloody scenes which I had before read of:
narratives which from my very childhood had always possessed particular
charms for me; and at this time I was not only looking on the very spot
the hero of my imagination, Cook, had trod, but was hearing the tale from
one who had actually seen him; and was listening to every particular
concerning the transactions of Marion and his men, as though they had
just taken place.

Even in the dreadful destruction of the Boyd, George laid the blame
entirely on the English, and spoke with great bitterness of the
ill-treatment of Philip, the native chief, who came as passenger in the
ship. He described and mimicked his cleaning shoes and knives; his being
flogged when he refused to do this degrading work; and, finally, his
speech to his countrymen when he came on shore, soliciting their
assistance in capturing the vessel, and revenging his ill-treatment. Over
and over again our friend George, having worked up his passion by a full
recollection of the subject, went through the whole tragedy. The scene
thus portrayed was interesting although horrible. No actor, trained in
the strictest rules of his art, could compete with George's vehemence of
action. The flexibility of his features enabled him to vary the
expression of each passion; and he represented hatred, anger, horror, and
the imploring of mercy so ably that, in short, one would have imagined he
had spent his whole life in practising the art of imitation.



I frequently conversed with George upon the subject of religion, and from
what he told me I found that the natives had not formed the slightest
idea of there being a state of future punishment. They refuse to believe
that the good Spirit intends to make them miserable after their decease.
They imagine all the actions of this life are punished here, and that
every one when dead, good or bad, bondsman or free, is assembled on an
island situated near the North Cape, where both the necessaries and
comforts of life will be found in the greatest abundance, and all will
enjoy a state of uninterrupted happiness. A people of their simple
habits, and possessing so little property, have but few temptations to
excesses of any kind, excepting the cruelties practised by them in war,
in which they fancy themselves perfectly justified, and the tyranny
exercised by them over their slaves, whom they look upon as mere
machines. There is, in fact, but little crime among them, for which
reason they cannot imagine any man wicked enough to deserve eternal
punishment. This opinion of theirs we saw an illustration of one Sunday,
when one of the missionaries paid us a visit.

The ceremony of all assembling to public worship astonished the natives
greatly, though they always behaved with the utmost decorum when admitted
into the house where the ceremony takes place. On the day in question
the minister endeavoured to explain the sacred mysteries of our religion
to a number of the chiefs who were present. They listened attentively to
all he said, and expressed no doubts as to its truth, only remarking that
"as all these wonderful circumstances happened only in the country of the
white men, the great Spirit expected the white men only to believe them."
The missionary then began to expatiate on the torments of hell, at which
some of them seemed horrified, but others said "they were quite sure such
a place could only be made for the white faces, for they had no men half
wicked enough in New Zealand to be sent there;" but when the reverend
gentleman added with vehemence that "all men" would be condemned, the
savages all burst into a loud laugh, declaring "they would have nothing
to do with a God who delighted in such cruelties; and then (as a matter
of right) hoped the missionary would give them each a blanket for having
taken the trouble of listening to him so patiently."

I cannot forbear censuring the missionaries, inasmuch as they prevent the
natives, by every means in their power, from acquiring the English
language. They make a point of mastering the native tongue as quickly as
possible, and being able to give their whole time and attention to it,
this is easily accomplished. It is of importance that they should do so,
otherwise they could not carry on the duties of the mission; but by thus
engrossing the knowledge, they obtain great influence over the minds of
the natives. We ourselves were sadly puzzled by a correspondence we had
with two native chiefs, who had been taught to read and write by some of
the Society; but their acquirements being in their native language, were
of no possible use. The difficulty of teaching them English would not
have been greater, and then what stores of information and improvement
might not their instructors have laid open to them.



We had passed some months here, and were beginning to look out for the
return of our brig, to take us again into civilised society, when we were
once more thrown into alarm by a threatened invasion. A rumour was
circulated in the village that Hongi, who now lay at the point of death,
had declared that he would make one last glorious effort before he
expired. He was resolved (it was reported) to collect his warriors,
overcome George and his followers, possess himself of Kororarika, and die
upon the conquered territory of his enemy; and I had no doubt that in his
moment of delirium such had been his exclamations, as it had always been
one of his favourite projects. When this was reported to George, he
immediately came to us, and with a most doleful countenance told us we
must take care of ourselves; for, if the report proved true, he was much
too weak to protect us. This certainly caused us some alarm, but,
fortunately for us, a good-sized whaler, the Marianne, was then lying at
anchor in the port, having arrived but a few days previously. The
presence of a ship, all over the world, is felt as a protection to
Europeans, as in case of danger it is a sure place of refuge.

King George sent off his messengers in every direction to inform his
friends and dependants of the threats uttered against him by Hongi, and
the next day eight large war canoes, filled with warriors, came to his
assistance. They landed at some distance from the beach, and, as it was
late in the day, they would not make their public _entree_ till the next
morning; for the New Zealanders are very fond of giving a grand effect to
all their public meetings. I determined to pay them a visit, to witness
the ceremonies of the night bivouack, which proved a most picturesque
scene, and wild and beautiful in the extreme. Their watch fires glanced
upon the dark skins of these finely formed men, and on their bright
weapons. Some groups were dancing; others were lying round a fire,
chanting wild songs, descriptive of former wars; whilst the graver elders
sat in a circle, and discussed the present state of affairs. All were
delighted to see me, and each group offered to share their fire and
provisions with the "white visitor," as they termed me.

The next morning these auxiliary forces were seen descending the hills to
our village; and, in order to return the compliment, we all went in our
best array to receive them. There were upwards of two hundred athletic,
naked savages, each armed with his firelock, and marching with the utmost
regularity. The chiefs took the lead. The alarm such a sight might have
created was dissipated by the certainty that they came as our protectors.
I even imagined their countenances were not so ferocious as usual but as
they approached near to our party, the usual sham fight began,
accompanied by the war dance, and although I expected it, and indeed had
come for the purpose of witnessing it, it was conducted with so much fury
on both sides, that at length I became quite horrified, and for some
time could not divest myself of the feeling that our visitors were
playing false, so closely did this mock combat resemble a real one. The
dreadful noises, the hideous faces, the screeching of the women, and the
menacing gestures of each party, were so calculated to inspire terror,
that stouter hearts than mine might have felt fear. When the tumult
subsided, the elder chiefs squatted down, and had the long talk usual on
these occasions.

I was much delighted to recognise among these chiefs one I had known at
Sydney. During his residence in that city I had permitted him to remain
in my house, and the few presents which he had requested on his return to
his own country I had provided him with, and sent him off delighted and
happy, and never expected to behold him again. The moment I approached he
recollected me, jumped up from the "council," ran up to me, hugged me in
his arms, and rubbed noses so forcibly with me that I felt his friendship
for some time, besides being daubed all over most plentifully with red
ochre, which he, being then on a war-like and ceremonious visit, was
smeared with from head to foot.

When my savage friend (whom we used to call Mr. Tookee) had overcome his
first burst of delight at seeing me, and had literally left off jumping
for joy, he introduced me to his father, Mr. De Frookee, the chief of his
tribe, a very fine specimen of an old New Zealander, who was (I found)
highly respected for his integrity and benevolence. His eyes overflowed
with tears when he heard I was the person who had shown such kindness to
his son at Sydney. I soon felt quite "at home" with the old chief, and
experienced the good effect of having kept my word with this uncultivated
savage. I had, at the time I presented him with the gifts, been much
laughed at by my acquaintances at Sydney for putting myself to such
unnecessary expense; but, from the gratitude he displayed for the
trifling services I had then rendered him, I felt assured he and his
companions would do all in their power to protect me from every danger.

A long discussion was now carried on, one speaker at a time occupying the
oblong space round which the warriors sat, and the more animated the
debate, the faster ran the speaker to and fro, flourishing his hatchet in
a most dexterous manner. The instant one speaker finishes, another starts
up to answer him; but previous to rising they throw a mat or blanket over
their shoulders, and arrange it most tastefully around them; and, as
their attitudes are all striking and graceful, and a great part of the
figure is left exposed, it forms a study for an artist, well worth his
going many miles to witness, and invariably reminded me of the fine
models of antiquity.

As a painter, I conceive that this must have been the great secret of the
perfection to which the Greek and Roman sculptors brought their works; as
they constantly contemplated the display of the human form in all its
beauty in their various gymnastic exercises, which enabled them to
transfer to marble such ease and elegance as we, living in an age of
coats and breeches, never shall be able to rival.

After the important subjects had been settled by the elders, the young
men assembled without their weapons, and began another kind of sham
fight, one grappling with another, till hundreds of them were locked in
each other's arms, and were flung in heaps in every direction. After
they were tired of this pastime, a regular ring was formed, and a
wrestling match began, which was carried on in as regular and fair a
manner as a boxing match in our own country, and as much skill and
cunning were displayed in the art of throwing as the greatest connoisseur
would desire. I was pleased, also, to observe that, whatever happened
(and some most severe throws and blows passed), nothing could disturb
their good humour.

This party, having remained for seven days on our beach, and not hearing
anything more of our intended invaders, their provisions also becoming
rather scarce, took leave in order to return to their own district,
placing scouts to give them quick intelligence of the movements of the



A few days after the departure of this friendly tribe, a "King's ship" of
eighteen guns arrived in the Bay; consequently all our fears of an
immediate invasion were over. No sooner had she cast anchor than our
friend George came to us, expressing the greatest anxiety to visit King
George of England's warship, and requesting we would accompany him, which
we readily agreed to do; and he left us to adorn himself for the
occasion. Soon after he reappeared in great state. A very splendid
war-mat was thrown over his shoulders; his hair was dressed, oiled, and
decorated with feathers, and his person was plentifully covered with red
ochre: he appeared a very fine-looking fellow: his mother, his three
wives, and all his sons and daughters were dressed in equal magnificence,
and accompanied him.

In this state we went off to visit the vessel; but the moment I came
alongside, I repented my being there, for the rude and churlish manner in
which we were received distressed me considerably. In the first place, an
order was given that none but the chief himself should be allowed to come
on board; consequently his wives and daughters were obliged to remain in
the canoe. The captain spoke only a few words to George, who was allowed
to remain but a few minutes in the cabin; on getting up to take leave,
George took off his fine war-mantle and presented it to the captain; but,
receiving no other covering in return for his gift, he went on shore
naked! The officers of the vessel behaved differently: they conducted us
all down into the gun-room, where they treated us most kindly, and paid
every attention to our friend George, whose dignity was deeply wounded by
the cool and contemptuous behaviour of the captain.

How greatly is it to be regretted that some arrangements are not made by
our Government at Home, and that there are not orders given to commanders
of ships of war touching here to pay attention to the chiefs, and to make
some trifling presents amongst them; for there never were a people more
anxious to cultivate a friendly intercourse with British subjects than
the inhabitants of New Zealand: and yet there is scarcely a Government
vessel that puts into port here but the natives receive some insult,
though they are sent for the express purpose of supporting the dignity of
the English nation, and to cultivate the amicable feelings of the chiefs.

When a "King's ship" comes to anchor, the chiefs (with all the glee of
children going to a fair) collect together their wives, children, and
friends, and pay a visit to the "fighting ships," to see King George's
warriors (as they call them): when they come alongside they are kept off
by an armed sentry; and, after a long parley, they are informed the chief
may come, but his family and friends must not. In this case, the natives
generally spit at the vessel, and, uttering execrations on their
inhospitality, return on shore.

One of the savage chieftains who accompanied us to the vessel in
question, on our way back remarked, "that the white warriors were
_afraid_ of admitting them, though they were unarmed and but a few; while
the warriors in the ships were many, and armed with their great guns."

Living entirely amongst these people so long as I had done, I felt the
absurdity of such conduct, and the folly of treating them so harshly. If
ever individuals are so situated as to need either the esteem or the
confidence of savages, they must bear with their prying and childish
curiosity, and not be afraid of treating them too kindly; by this means
they become the quietest and gentlest creatures in the world; but, if
treated with contumely, and their wives and families repulsed from your
ship, they become dangerous, vindictive, and cruel neighbours, as many a
dreadful deed which has taken place in this vicinity will fully prove.



The South Sea whalers are the ships the natives are the most anxious to
see on their coasts; and it is the crews of those vessels who have, in a
manner, civilised these hardy islanders. Captain Gardiner, of the
Marianne (the vessel now in the harbour), is the oldest person in that
trade; and he informed me, that not longer than twenty years back
scarcely any vessel would dare to touch at New Zealand; and when, from
particular circumstances, they were obliged so to do, they kept their
boarding-nettings up, and kept a strict guard night and day: their fears
arose from a want of knowledge of the disposition of the people. The
vessels frequenting the island use no precautions now: hundreds of
natives are permitted to crowd on board each ship; and no accident has
ever occurred from this mode of treatment. But when a ship of war arrives
here for the first time, the precautions taken are, to arm the row-guard
with cutlasses and pistols, and to harass the crew with constant
watching, while the only enemy that exists is in their own imaginations.
To the courage and enterprise of the commanders of whalers all credit is
due for working the rapid change in these once bloody-minded savages, and
forming safe and commodious harbours for their vessels to refit in: this
have they done in a part of the world lately looked upon with horror.
What credit soever the missionaries may take to themselves, or try to
make their supporters in England believe, every man who has visited this
place, and will speak his mind freely and disinterestedly, must
acknowledge _they_ have had no share in bringing about this change of
character; but, on the contrary, they have done all that in them lay to
injure the reputation of the whaler in the estimation of the natives.
Hitherto they have not succeeded: their want of hospitality and kindness
to their own countrymen raises a strong dislike to them in the minds of
these unsophisticated people. According to their simple notions of right
and wrong, they think the want of hospitality an unpardonable offence,
and that the counsel or advice of a man who shuts his door against his
neighbour is not worthy of being attended to.

I will give the reader one more anecdote of these men, who are sent out
to set an example of the beauty of the Christian faith to the
unenlightened heathens. A few weeks since, the festival of Christmas took
place; and Englishmen, in whatever part of the world they chance to be,
make a point of assembling together on that day, our recollections then
being associated with "home" and our families, uniting to spend that day
in mutual congratulations and wishes for happiness. For some time
previous to its arrival, the captains of the two whalers and myself had
been deliberating where we should spend this social day; and it was
finally settled that we should cross the bay to Te Puna, a beautiful and
romantic spot, the residence of an intelligent chief, called Warri Pork,
and an Englishman, named Hanson. Near this was a church missionary
establishment; and at this Englishman's house we determined we would
spend the day. The captains of the two whalers then in the harbour
joined our party; and as everyone contributed his share towards our
picnic feast, the joint stock made altogether a respectable appearance.

We proceeded to Te Puna in two whaleboats: it was a most delightful trip,
the scenery being strikingly beautiful. The village of Ranghe Hue,
belonging to Warri Pork, is situated on the summit of an immense and
abrupt hill: the huts belonging to the savages appeared, in many places,
as though they were overhanging the sea, the height being crowned with a
mighty pah. At the bottom of this hill, and in a beautiful valley, the
cottages of the missionaries are situated, complete pictures of English
comfort, content, and prosperity; they are close to a bright sandy beach:
a beautiful green slope lies in their rear, and a clear and never-failing
stream of water runs by the side of their enclosures. As the boats
approached this lovely spot, I was in an ecstasy of delight: such a happy
mixture of savage and civilised life I had never seen before; and when I
observed the white smoke curling out of the chimneys of my countrymen, I
anticipated the joyful surprise, the hearty welcome, the smiling faces,
and old Christmas compliments that were going to take place, and the
great pleasure it would give our secluded countrymen to meet us, in these
distant regions, at this happy season, and talk of our relatives and
friends in England.

My romantic notions were soon crushed; our landing gave no pleasure to
these secluded Englishmen: they gave us no welcome; but, as our boats
approached the shore, they walked away to their own dwellings, closed
their gates and doors after them, and gazed at us through their windows;
and during three days that we passed in a hut quite near them, they
never exchanged one word with any of the party. Thus foiled in our hopes
of spending a social day with our compatriots, after our dinner was over
we sent materials for making a bowl of punch up the hill to the chiefs,
and spent the remainder of the day surrounded by generous savages, who
were delighted with our company, and who did everything in their power to
make us comfortable. In the course of the afternoon two of the mission
came up to preach; but the savages were so angry with them for not
showing more kindness to their own countrymen, that none would listen to

I have visited many of the Roman Catholic missionary establishments;
their priests adopt quite a different line of conduct: they are cheerful
and kind to the savage pagan, and polite and attentive to their European
brethren; they have gained the esteem of those they have been sent to
convert; they have introduced their own language amongst them, which
enables them to have intercourse with strangers; and, however we may
differ in some tenets of religious belief, we must acknowledge the
success of their mission. They have brought nearly the whole of the
Indian population in South America into the bosom of their church; and
their converts form the greater part of the people. Notwithstanding the
numerous church and sectarian missionaries sent from England, I never met
with one Indian converted by them. I have attended mass in an Indian
village; a native priest performed the ceremony, and the whole
congregation (except myself) were of his cast and complexion: and, it is
worthy of remark, that in Peru, and some of the most populous provinces,
a pagan is scarcely to be found.



We now heard that Tetoro (one of the most powerful chiefs of this part of
the island) had taken offence, and had sent a defiance to King George,
saying he intended coming to seek revenge, accompanied by a strong body
of warriors; and the "herald" who brought this proclamation informed us
that the English settlers were to be attacked and plundered also.

We had every reason to fear this might prove a more calamitous affair
than any we had yet experienced; as George immediately collected all his
family and dependents, and took his departure for the Kawakawa river (the
residence of De Kookie, the chief who had come to his assistance against
Hongi's attack), leaving behind only a few slaves. Thus a second time
were we left to our own resources on Kororarika Beach. George and his
followers were too much scattered: some were trading with the ships,
others were distributed in various districts, attending to their
agricultural pursuits. Thus separated, each might become an easy prey to
any of the powerful chiefs; but, were they united, they would be too
strong for any of the tribes: unfortunately the hope of gain made them
risk so great a danger. At this period, too, there was not a single
vessel in the bay to protect us. The known partiality of all the tribes
for Europeans was the only consolation we had; and we endeavoured to
cheer each other with this hope, under what in reality might be
considered very appalling circumstances.

After enduring this state of suspense and anxiety for several days, and
no enemy appearing, we determined to pay a visit to the camp of the
combined army of our friends, which would, at the same time, gratify our
own curiosity, and give them a degree of satisfaction; as it would prove
to them that we were not afraid of venturing amongst them, even in times
of danger. We accordingly prepared the whaleboats to proceed up the
Kawakawa river; and, as I had never been there before, the present
afforded an excellent opportunity for exploring that picturesque spot.

At the top of the Bay of Islands, two rivers disembogue, the Wye Catte
and the Kawakawa: they are both small but beautiful streams. It was early
in the morning when we started: the dewy mist rose from the unruffled
bosom of the river like the gradual lifting up of a curtain, and, at
length, displayed its lofty sides, covered with immense trees, the
verdure extending to the very edge of the water. All was quiet,
beautiful, and serene; the only sounds which broke the calm were the wild
notes of the tui (or New Zealand blackbird), the splashing of our own
oars, or the occasional flight of a wild duck (or shag), disturbed by our

We rowed our boat many miles without seeing the slightest vestige of any
human inhabitants or civilisation: all appeared wild and magnificent as
if just fresh from the hands of nature; and it failed not to lead the
mind up to the contemplation of the Creator. It seemed utterly impossible
to reconcile the idea that such lonely, romantic, and sequestered scenes
could conceal hordes of savage cannibals, or that the tranquility of this
very place would soon be exchanged for the noise and tumult of savage
warfare. We soon reached the village where the coalesced chiefs had taken
up their station: they had fortified their position, and were waiting the
approach of the enemy. No sooner, however, was our arrival known, than
all came running down tumultuously to give us welcome: all business was
laid aside to greet our landing, and we were conducted with great
ceremony into the centre of the camp.



We found eight hundred warriors, who (to use a sea phrase) were "all at
quarters." The magic pen of Scott might here have been well employed to
describe "The Gathering." The chiefs sat apart from their followers in
deep consultation: we did not approach near enough to hear their
discussion; but it ended by their paying us a high compliment for coming
amongst them. The young and active were busily employed in constructing a
strong stockade fort to annoy the enemy as he approached; others were
preparing their weapons, or practising the use of arms.

The village itself was an object of extreme interest; and, after
contemplating the war-like preparations of the chiefs, we turned with
pleasure to gaze on the beauty of the surrounding country. In a plain,
surrounded by high hills, with a beautiful stream of water meandering
through it, was situated a group of huts; and many acres of cultivated
ground, neatly fenced and cleared, encircled them. Their harvest,
consisting of Indian corn, potatoes, and kumara, was now ready for
gathering, and all the women were busily occupied. As I from an eminence
looked down upon their labours, I could almost fancy I was in Italy, and
beheld the peasantry at work in their vineyards: but the adjacent camp
and naked warriors soon dissipated the illusion!

On approaching the village we occasioned quite a commotion: the girls
brought forth baskets filled with cooked kumaras and peaches, while the
men erected a tent to screen us from the rays of the sun: indeed, all
seemed anxious to do something that should prove acceptable to us. We had
brought with us sufficient provision for a good dinner which was soon
cooked, and we invited them to partake of our fare, and a very merry and
noisy group we formed. After our repast, the chief warriors took us round
their camp, and exhibited to us all their means of defence, and the
different works they had thrown up. Where the use of artillery is
unknown, the principles of fortification are simple, and the New
Zealanders seem to possess a clear notion of the art: necessity being
with them the mother of invention.

In the direction where the approach of the enemy was expected, they had
erected a strong square stockade, to molest the army; while the women and
children retired to the principal fort, which was very strong, and
situated at the summit of the highest hill: it had a breast-work all
round it about five feet high, and a broad ditch beyond that. The
fortress was large enough to contain several hundred men: it had a
spacious glacis in front, and every approach to it was so completely
exposed, that we thought even a body of regular troops, without
artillery, would have found it very difficult to storm; and to the New
Zealand warrior it seemed a wonderful and impregnable work.

The chief who had the command of this fort was our old acquaintance Kiney
Kiney, a younger brother of King George's, who seemed proud of this
honour, and appeared highly delighted in showing us round, and
explaining everything to us; even condescending to ask our advice as to
any means of adding strength and security to the works. He listened
attentively to all our observations; and if he approved any alteration we
suggested he ordered it instantly to be carried into effect. I noticed a
thicket too near the fort, and told him I thought it might shelter a body
of men, and before I left the pa it was reduced to a heap of ashes.
Sentinels were posted in every direction to give notice of the approach
of an enemy. _Mr._ Kiney Kiney (as he was sometimes called) was
splendidly apparelled on this occasion: he had, by some means or other,
become possessed of a light infantry sabre, with all its paraphernalia of
belts and buckles; this was girded round his naked body, which gave him a
very gallant air, and, I have no doubt, was the envy and admiration of
all his followers.



After we had seen and approved all their preparations, we were treated
with a grand review and sham fight: they divided themselves into two
parties; one half the number took their station on a hill, and lay
concealed; the other party crouched on the plains to receive the attack,
all kneeling on one knee, with their eyes fixed on the spot whence they
expected the rush of their pretended enemies. In a moment, the concealed
party burst forth from their ambush, with a tremendous and simultaneous
shout, and the mock battle began with great fury.

Nothing in nature can be imagined more horrible than the noise they make
on these occasions. I have heard, under circumstances of some peril, the
North American Indian war-whoop; but that is trifling compared with it
and their countenances are hideous beyond description. My principal
astonishment on these occasions was, that they did not actually kill each
other, or, at least, break each other's bones; for they seemed to strike
with all the fury and vigour of a real engagement; but they kept such
exact time, that at a moment's notice they all left off, and began joking
and laughing, except a very few, whom I observed to sneak away to wash
off some bloody witness, or to put a plaster on their broken skin.

After these military and gymnastic exhibitions, they formed a grand
assembly, and the chiefs, as usual, made long speeches in rotation. This
rude parliament is one of the most beautiful features in savage
government: all public matters are discussed openly, grievances are
complained of, and justice is summarily administered.

Thus, after spending a pleasant day, we rose to depart, and took an
affectionate leave of our entertainers, who were most anxious that we
should remain longer; but we thought we had better return to Kororarika,
where our property had been left. Most of the chiefs accompanied us to
our boats, and, after exhibiting various testimonies of their friendly
feeling towards us, they suffered us to depart.

The day following this visit, we were alarmed by the appearance of two
war canoes crossing the bay: we waited their approach with considerable
anxiety: what few valuables we had with us we concealed about our
persons; but, as they neared our beach, our fears subsided, on finding
there were only a few men in each. Three chiefs (unarmed) landed, whom we
found to be Rivers and two of his near kinsmen, the most dreaded persons
of our expected invaders; but they immediately informed us they came on a
mission of peace, and, for that reason, had come to us unattended and

We were most happy to hear this, and to find hostilities were again
likely to be deferred. Though we well knew the character of these men,
and that they were capable of the most treacherous acts, and the deepest
dissimulation, yet, their thus throwing themselves into our power, with
the olive branch in their hands, was irresistible; and we received them
with all the pomp we were capable of. We ordered a pig to be killed for
the feast, and requested them to remain for that night. In order to do
honour to our noble guests, and credit to our friend and ally King
George, we produced all the luxuries we had; and, in addition to the
pork, piles of pancakes and molasses were devoured: after this we gave
them tea, of which they are very fond; and, over our pipes, in the
evening, we informed them of the preparations the coalesced chiefs had
made for their reception, had their intentions been hostile.

The next morning they embarked for the camp at Kawakawa, where, I
understood, they had considerable difficulty in arranging the "treaty of
peace": George having been so often alarmed, now that such great
preparations had been effected (as he well know the treacherous character
of his foe), he was unwilling to give up the hopes of conquest; however,
by the advice of the chiefs, it was finally settled amicably. George and
his friends accordingly returned to Kororarika, leaving a strong party at
the pa to finish the fortifications; and, though peace was made, our
party still kept themselves in a posture of defence.



We had been expecting with great anxiety the return of our brig; and,
soon after the termination of this affair, we had the pleasure of seeing
her enter the bay, after her cruise from Tongataboo and Tucopea. We found
that, on leaving the Bay of Islands, she had touched at the Thames, or
(as the natives call it) Hauraki, in order to land two chiefs, whom
Captain Dillon had taken thence two years before, and, in the confusion
occasioned by the disembarking, the visiting and congratulations of
friends (the vessel being under weigh), one chief was left on board, who
had not been discovered till all the canoes were out of sight, and there
remained no other alternative for him than to proceed on the whole

This was of no importance as it respected Tongataboo or Tucopea; but, on
his return to Kororarika, it was not only placing him, but all of us, in
a dreadful dilemma! His tribe being at deadly enmity with that of George,
the moment he was seen on deck (which was as soon as the vessel arrived),
George and all the men in the various canoes appeared to grow outrageous:
nothing would convince them but that we were in league with their
enemies, and had brought this spy into their territories from interested
motives; and they seemed resolved upon boarding the brig and executing
vengeance upon the unfortunate victim. To all our remonstrances George
replied, "Any other man than this I would have pardoned; but it was only
last year he killed, and helped to eat, my own uncle, whose death still
remains unrevenged: I cannot allow him to leave my country alive; if I
did, I should be despised for ever."

I was greatly grieved at the circumstance; but, as I was somewhat of a
favourite with George, I succeeded in convincing him that it arose purely
from accident, and no intention of giving him offence; and he consented
to leave him on board, but cautioned us not to allow him to land. "If I
see him on shore he dies," he repeated several times. It would have been
well for us had we attended to this warning: we did not; and we
accordingly infringed on the customs of his country; thus placing
ourselves in a most perilous situation with the natives, and plainly
showing that the imprudence of our countrymen is invariably the cause of
quarrels and misunderstandings with these islanders.

Some days having passed since this altercation with George, we thought no
more about it. The brig, from various causes, was certain to remain some
time in this harbour; and, as our New Zealand guest expressed a great
desire to go on shore one day, we consented to his accompanying us. We
had scarcely entered our house, when we had reason to repent the
imprudent step we had taken: all the natives were in commotion;
messengers were sent off to George to acquaint him with the circumstance,
and soon after we saw him, attended by all his relations, accoutred for
war; that is, quite naked, their skins oiled and painted, and armed with
muskets. Fury was in their looks and gestures as they hastened towards
our residence. We had scarcely time to shut and fasten our door, when
they made a rush to force it; and we had a severe struggle to keep them
out. At one period their rage became so ungovernable that we expected
every instant they would fire on us for preventing their entrance. The
man who was the cause of all this violence crept into our bedroom, and
kept out of sight; but he did not, at any period of the disturbance,
exhibit the least sign of fear, so accustomed are they from childhood to
these deadly frays.

When the natives found we would not give up the man, but that they must
murder us before they could accomplish their revenge, the disappointment
rendered them nearly frantic. Our situation was most critical and
appalling; and nothing can be a more convincing proof of the influence
the Europeans have obtained over them, than that, at such a moment, they
should have refrained from setting fire to or pulling down the house, and

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