Polynesia; A popular description of the physical features, inhabitants, natural history, and productions of the islands of the Pacific. With an account of their discovery, and the progress of civilisation and christianity amongst them.
Chapter V. — New Zealand.—The North Island Provinces
New Zealand.—The North Island
These three islands have been officially named respectively, New Ulster, New Munster, and New Leinster, though these appellations are but rarely used. Their entire surface may be roughly estimated to contain about 60,000,000 of acres, being a territory about equal in size to that of Great page 88Britain, of which country New Zealand may be considered the antipodes.
Next to Australia and New Guinea, New Zealand ranks as the largest and most important of the great insular masses in the South Pacific, Ocean.
The two larger islands, separated only by a strait, compose properly only one country. The North Island is especially distinguished by the finest soil, and by natural features of the grandest and boldest description. Chains of lofty mountains run through both islands, which rise occasionally to the altitude of 10,000 or 12,000 feet, and are buried for two thirds of their height in snow during a great portion of the year. From these heights numerous streams flow down, watering in their course the most fertile and enchanting valleys. The huge glaciers and plains of snow which cover their higher regions; the mighty torrents which pour down from them, forming stupendous cataracts; the grand primæval woods which crown their middle regions; the hills which wind along their feet, decked with the brightest vegetation; the bold cliffs and promontories which breast the might of the Southern waves; the beautiful bays, decked with numberless villages and canoes, all conspire to present a scene, which even the eye of the rudest voyager cannot behold without rapture. Geologically, the three islands belong to one system, forming an extensive and isolated mountain of elevation from the unfathomable depth of the Pacific Ocean; and nature has engraved on it everywhere the most indelible marks of her two page 89most powerful agents, fire and water. An immense chain of mountains, broken only by Cook's Straits, traverses both islands longitudinally, forming their backbone, as it were, and finding its greatest development in the Middle Island, where it has appropriately received the name of the Southern Alps. In the centre of this chain, Mount Cook and other giant peaks rise majestically to an elevation of 13,000 feet, their summits being covered with perpetual snow and everlasting glaciers. The volcanic origin of the country is most distinctly marked in the Northern Island, where the Tongariro, a volcano still active, and the Ruapahu, whose fires have long been extinguished, stand in the centre of the island, both crowned with snow, forming, together with several others, a magnificent group of mountains; and the extinct volcano of Mount Egmont, or Taranaki, rears its cone above New Plymouth to a height of 8840 feet.
The North Cape of New Zealand situated in lat. 34° 25' S., terminates in barren, precipitous sand-hills, where the foaming Pacific unceasingly dashes against the towering black rocks which skirt the shore. Westward, a few miles from the North Cape, and separated from it by a deep sandy bay which affords no anchorage, is Cape Reinga, or Maria Van Diemen, so named by Tasman in honour of the daughter of a governor of Dutch India. It is at this spot the New Zealanders formerly supposed that the spirits of the departed left the island for another world. Point Pocock and Cape Brett mark the entrance to the Bay of Islands, lower down on page 90the north-east coast. Cape Colville is the extremity of a long peninsula forming the eastern side of the magnificent Gulf of Hauraki, on which the city of Auckland is situated. East Cape, immediately behind which rises a remarkable high land, about 3000 feet above the level of the sea, is the most easterly point of New Zealand. Cape Palliser, a fine, high, bold headland, marks the southern extremity of the North Island; and Cape Egmont, above which rises the lofty conical mountain of the same name, is on the west coast, forming the northern entrance to Cook's Straits.
In the Middle Island, Cape Farewell is at the north-western, and Cape Campbell at the southeastern limit of Cook's Straits. Behind the latter rises Mount Tako, a lofty snow-capped peak, which is visible at a great distance, and serves as an excellent landmark for vessels making Cook's Straits from the eastward, as also does Mount Egmont for those coming from the west.
On the east side of the Middle Island, Banks' Peninsula projects out into the Pacific for a distance of forty-two miles, being connected with the main land by a low, sandy isthmus; it forms an elevated table-land, rising abruptly from the sea, white, and distinguishable a very long way off. To the south of Port Otago is Cape Saunders; and South Cape is the most southern extremity of Stewart's Island.
The rugged and indented sea-board of New Zealand affords many extensive bays and excellent harbours, especially on its eastern coasts. The Bay of Islands has an entrance eleven miles wide, and page 91was so named by Captain Cook, on account of the numerous rocks and islets with which it is studded. It is nevertheless a remarkably fine and capacious harbour, and affords shelter at all seasons and in any weather. It branches into several smaller harbours, the two most used by shipping being Kororarika Bay, and the Kawa-kawa, where the township of Russell is situated. The Bay of Islands was long celebrated as the favourite resort of the South Sea whalers, who put in there to refit and obtain supplies.
Hauraki Gulf is an extensive roadstead, open to the north, with an entrance sixteen miles wide; it is skirted by the Barrier Islands, and terminates southwards in the estuary of the Eiver Thames. It contains two fine harbours, Kaihu, on its northwestern side; and Waitemata, which is separated only by a narrow isthmus from the harbour of Manukau, on the west coast. On the harbour of Waitemata, Auckland, the capital of the province, and the present seat of the New Zealand government, is situated.
The Bay of Plenty is a wide expanse, also open to the north, between Hauraki Gulf and the East Cape; it contains the harbour of Tauranga, which is resorted to by small coasting vessels. Hawkes' Bay, further south, is an extensive bay, opening to the south-east, at the end of which is Ahuriri Harbour. In Cook's Straits are Port Nicholson, the site of the town of Wellington; and Porirua Harbour. On the west coast of the North Island is the Hokianga, a beautiful estuary, eighty miles south page 92from Cape Maria Van Diemen; it extends inland about thirty miles, and is indented by small bays and creeks, and receives the waters of numerous rivers and streams, most of them navigable for small craft, and sufficiently deep for floating the largest timber. There is a good anchorage for vessels of 500 tons on all sides of the channel, up to the head of the bay. Sixty miles south of Hokianga is the harbour of Kaipara, which has an entrance five or six miles wide, but expands into a fine bay nearly thirty miles long, and sheltered from every wind. Manukau, Waikato, Waingaroa, and Kawia, are also harbours on the west coast, but they are more or less insecure and difficult of access during westerly gales. The roadstead of Taranaki, or New Plymouth, is open to the north-west; and although affording a good anchorage when the winds are southerly or easterly, vessels are obliged to put to sea immediately on the approach of a north-wester.
The principal bays and harbours of the Middle Island are, Massacre Bay, at the western extremity of Cook's Straits—Tasman's Bay, further east, at the head of which is Port Nelson, where there is always abundance of water for vessels of 500 or 600 tons, perfect shelter in every wind, and excellent holding ground—Queen Charlotte's Sound, nearly opposite Port Nicholson, where the straits are at the narrowest, is one of the finest harbours in the world, whether for room, shelter, or the excellence of its anchorage; it was the favourite wintering place of Captain Cook; it has an entrance twenty-six miles wide, and extends inland in a winding page 93course for more than thirty miles, narrowing by degrees. Cloudy Bay, a former resort of whalers. lies a little to the south of Queen Charlotte's Sound, at the eastern entrance of Cook's Straits. Lower down on the east coast of the Middle Island is Pegasus Bay; and on the north side of Banks' Peninsula is Port Cooper, now called Port Victoria, where the town of Lyttelton is situated. On the south-east extremity of the same peninsula is Akaroa, a remarkably fine and safe harbour, which was formerly a French settlement, and now belongs to the province of Canterbury. In latitude 46° S. is Port Otago, at the end of which is Port Chalmers, the most southern harbour in the island calculated to receive large ships. The rapidly progressing city of Dunedin stands at the head of this harbour.
The south-west coast is rugged and perpendicular, and intersected with numerous deep channels or "fiords," running inland between stupendous precipices. In many cases the water in these channels is so deep as to prevent anchorage.
Stewart's Island possesses the very fine harbour of Port Pegasus on its south-east coast, equal in every respect to that of Sydney in New South Wales, and superior to it in having three safe entrances.
New Zealand possesses some fine navigable rivers, of which the Waikato is most important. Having its rise in Lake Taupo, in the centre of the Northern Island, it flows for upwards of 150 miles in a northerly direction, joining the Waipa in its course, and falling into the sea on the west coast. It is in page 94many places broad and deep, and as wide as the Thames at Greenwich. Its banks are low and fertile, with patches of forest, and numerous native settlements. The Thames, another noble stream, runs almost parallel to the Waikato, but further to the eastward, and falls into Hauraki Gulf. It is navigable for vessels of 130 tons. The Piako rises in the valley of the Thames and flows between that river and the Waikato. The Roturua and the Terawera empty themselves into the Bay of Plenty. The Wangoroa flows into Poverty Bay. The Manawatu, the Ruamahanga, and the Hutt, water the southern portions of the province of Wellington, the latter falling into the head of Port Nicholson. The Wanganui has its source in the wild volcanic region about the Tongariro, and flows with a tortuous course southwards, till it reaches Cook's Straits. At its entrance is the settlement or township of Petre.
Rivers and streams in the Middle Island are very numerous, having their sources in the snowy mountain ranges of the interior. On many of these rivers there are considerable waterfalls, which, though they impede navigation, afford considerable mechanical power for manufacturing or agricultural purposes. The Matuoka, the Waimea, and the Pelorus empty themselves into Cook's Straits. On the east coast are many important streams, amongst which are the Ashley, the Courtenay the Cholmondeley, the Waitaki, the Clutha, and the Mataura. On the west coast are the Buller, the Grey, the Okitiko, the Wairoa, and others, some of which are as yet unexplored. Both islands have lakes of page 95considerable size, some of which have been mentioned in a former chapter in connection with their volcanic relations. Lake Taupo, and the Roturua lakes are the principal ones in the North Island; whilst in the Middle Island are Lakes Brunner, Wihola, Hawea, Wanaka, Wakatipu, Maniatoto, and Te Anaa, besides many smaller ones amongst the snow-clad ranges of the Southern Alps.
New Zealand was discovered by Tasman in 1642, during the same voyage in which he first saw Van Diemen's Land. Appearing a high and mountainous country, he gave it the name of Staaten Land, supposing it at that time to have been part of the continent of Terra Australis. He anchored at a spot now laid down on the charts as Massacre Bay, where some inhabitants appeared, and, sounding a large shell, they endeavoured to attract his attention by addressing him in a dialect which he could not comprehend. These natives he describes as being "of common stature, and strong-boned; their colour between brown and yellow, and their hair black, which they wore tied up on the crown of the head like the Japanese, each having a large white feather stuck upright in the midst of it." They came off in boats, "their vessels being double canoes, fastened together by cross planks, on which they sat." Tasman endeavoured in vain to come to some understanding with these people; but they attacked his boat, and killed three of his men.
Nothing more was heard of New Zealand, from the time of Tasman, till Captain Cook's voyage in 1769. That celebrated navigator anchored in page 96Poverty Bay on the east coast of the Northern Island on the 6th of October of that year. Cook's ship was at first taken for a bird by the New Zealanders, and many remarks passed among them as to the beauty and size of its wings, as the sails were supposed to be. But on seeing the pinnace, which they supposed to be a smaller bird, unfledged, descending into the water, and a number of parti-coloured beings, but apparently in the human shape, also descending, the bird was regarded as a house full of divinities.
In the same year, however, a French expedition, under the command of M. Marion, visited New Zealand, where they were well received by the natives, and treated for some time with kindness and good-nature; but some dispute arising, a portion of them were murdered and eaten. M. Crozet says, "They treated us with every show of friendship for thirty-three days, with the intention of eating us on the thirty-fourth." During Cook's second voyage, in 1773, the crew of one of the boats belonging to the "Adventure," Captain Furneaux, was also massacred and eaten by the New Zealanders. Towards the close of the eighteenth century, considerable intercourse began to take place between the British penal settlement at Port Jackson, in New South "Wales, and New Zealand. To encourage this intercourse, occasional presents of cattle, pigs, sheep, and seeds were sent to the New Zealanders from Port Jackson; and, at length, a chief named Te Pahi, belonging to the Bay of Islands, visited Port Jackson, accompanied by his five sons. page 97The intercourse thus commenced was the means of removing much of that apprehension of the natives which had been hitherto felt by mariners who frequented the South Seas; but all the dread of their ferocious character was revived by the fearful massacre of the crew of the "Boyd" whaling ship in 1809.
Between the years 1814 and 1822, two chiefs of the Nga Puis, E'Hongi and Waikati, paid a visit to England, where they appeared as converts to Christianity, and were loaded with presents by George IV. On their return to New Zealand, though they had procured arms and ammunition in this country, to enable them to make war on other tribes, who were their enemies, they faithfully protected the missionaries; and E'Hongi, in particular, stood their friend as long as he lived.
Very shortly after the capabilities of New Zealand had been made known to Europe by Captain Cook, projects for its colonization were entertained. The earliest scheme was that suggested by the celebrated Benjamin Franklin, who in 1771 published proposals for forming an association to fit out a vessel by subscription, which should proceed to New Zealand with a cargo of such commodities as would be most suitable to the natives, and bring back in return so much of the produce of the country as should defray the expenses of the adventure. This scheme, however, was abandoned, sufficient funds not being raised by its projectors.
As soon as the South Sea whale fishery was established, New Zealand became the resort of the page 98ships of all the various nations engaged in it; and scattered settlements began to be formed on the most favourable parts of the coast, especially about Cook's Straits and the Bay of Islands, by the shore whalers, who frequently purchased large tracts of land from the chiefs for mere nominal considerations. In 1814 the missionaries belonging to the Church Missionary Society, and, in 1819, those of the Wesleyan Board of Missions, first directed their efforts towards the amelioration and improvement of the natives; and at a somewhat later period, the Roman Catholic missionaries also commenced their labours amongst the population of the North Island.
In 1825, a commercial company was formed in London under the auspices of the then Earl of Durham, which despatched two vessels to New Zealand, and acquired land at Hokianga, and at the mouth of the River Thames. This company, however, was prevented from carrying out its intention of forming a settlement; and its land ultimately became vested in the New Zealand Company, which arose out of an association, formed in 1837, whose object was to induce the British Government to apply to New Zealand the peculiar system of colonization called the Wakefield system, which had been tried with such success in South Australia.
The native wars raging amongst the various tribes in the northern island, induced a number of the leading chiefs, at the suggestion of the missionaries, to send an application to King William IV., in 1831, to become their "friend and guardian." This desire on the part of the chiefs led to the appointment of page 99Mr. Busby as British resident and commissioner at the Bay of Islands.
The formation of the New Zealand Company, in 1838, and the determination evinced by influential persons in Great Britain to colonize these islands, caused the home government to send out Captain Hobson, E.N., to make terms with the natives, and to take possession of New Zealand for the British crown. Thus, the first governor arrived at the Bay of Islands on the 30th January, 1840; and, through the aid of the missionaries—who seem to have been opposed to the independent efforts of the companies—the treaty of Wanganui was, on the 5th February, concluded with the natives. The principle of this arrangement was that the sovereignty of the British crown was acknowledged to extend over the three islands, the inhabitants receiving the privileges of British subjects. The right of property in the soil was reserved to the respective chiefs and tribes, subject only to a right of pre-emption by the crown when they sold land, and an adjustment of such equitable claims as might arise out of the previous land transactions.
In September, 1840, the settlement of Auckland, in Hauraki Gulf, was founded by Captain Hobson, where the seat of government was established. These measures produced some unpleasant feeling, both in England and in the new colony, between the government and the officers and agents of the company; however, these differences were reconciled; the company received a charter of incorporation in 1841; and in that year, another company, formed page 100chiefly of inhabitants of Devonshire and Cornwall, founded the settlement of New Plymouth, on the west coast, at the foot of Mount Egmont. The New Zealand Company, after establishing their first township at Port Nicholson, which was called Wellington, organized the settlement of Nelson, on the northern extremity of the Middle Island, the first colonists arriving there in August, 1842. In 1847, the settlement of Otago, also in the Middle Island, but on the east coast, was formed, principally by members of the Free Church of Scotland. Another company for colonizing New Zealand was finally established in 1848, and received a royal charter of incorporation in 1849. This was "the Canterbury Association," under the auspices of which the settlement of Canterbury was founded, the leading feature in the scheme of its founders being the establishment of the Church of England in the colony: all the first colonists were members of that church; and a portion of the proceeds of the sale of lands was set apart for the building of churches, the maintenance of the clergy, and the establishment of schools.
New Zealand is now governed under the provisions of an act which received the royal assent on the 30th June. 1852, and came into operation in the colonies on 5th April, 1853. This act originally established six provinces in New Zealand:—1. Auckland. 2. New Plymouth. 3. Wellington. 4. Nelson. 5. Canterbury. 6. Otago. Of these the three former are situated in the Northern Island, and the three last in the Middle Island. This act also regulated the creation of further sub-govern-page 101ments of this kind; and three more have recently been added to the six originally established, namely. Hawke's Bay, in 1858; Marlborough, in 1859; and, still later, Southland, which has been separated from Otago, of which province it was formerly a portion. The Southern, or Stewart's Island, is not as yet regularly colonized; but a few sealers and squatters reside upon it: the latter being engaged in pastoral pursuits, having flocks of both sheep and cattle.
The province of Auckland comprises the northern half of the North Island, being bounded on the south by the provinces of New Plymouth, Wellington, and Hawke's Bay, respectively. It covers a large area, and has a peculiarly indented coastline, along which are several fine harbours, especially those of Waitemata, the Bay of Islands, and the beautiful and capacious Harbour of Wangaroa, on the north-east coast; with those of Hokianga, Kaipara, and Manukau, on the west. The province is well watered by several important rivers, of which the Waikato is the largest. This noble stream, rising near the central group of mountains, after joining the Waipa, flows through a rich and fertile country, thickly populated by the powerful Waikato tribes, whose settlements and plantations are scattered along its banks. The lakes of Taupo and Roturua, with their boiling springs, together with the volcanic region of Tongariro, and the Ruapahu, have already been noticed in a previous chapter. This central region is the great focus of present volcanic action in New Zealand; and displays scenery of peculiar grandeur and beauty. The page 102great truncated cone of Tongariro, pouring out masses of vapour and steam, and the broad, unsullied snows of the Ruapahu, form the leading features of the landscape; whilst blue lakes, mountain torrents rushing along between rocky chasms, foaming cascades, and dense forests, alternating with tracts of undulating fern and heather, all combine to add to the charms of this strangely beautiful region. Around this volcanic centre is a desolate country, covered with coarse grass, over which lumps of light pumice-stone are everywhere scattered about. Quantities of this pumice may also be seen floating on the surface of the Waikato, on its way to the sea. A great proportion of the northern part of the province consists of ranges of high hills and broken country, clothed with the most dense and luxuriant forests, and diversified here and there with extensive tracts of undulating land, which is covered with fern several feet high. Small streams and occasional swamps intersect these hills, along which the New Zealand flax grows abundantly.
This province was first occupied as a colony in 1840; the British flag being hoisted at Waitemata by the Lieutenant-Governor, on the 9th September of that year, and, the site of Auckland chosen for the capital; the whole of the three islands of New Zealand having been previously declared by proclamation to be under the sovereignty of Her Britannic Majesty.
The city of Auckland, the seat of the colonial government in New Zealand, is situated at the head page 103of Waitemata Harbour, in the Gulf of Hauraki, on the east coast of the North Island, in lat. 36° 53'S., long. 174° 48'E. The island here is extremely narrow, being at one point not quite a mile across; and on the west coast, opposite to Auckland, and distant about five miles from it, is the bar harbour of Manukau. Indeed, without the aid of a map it would be difficult to convey anything like a distinct impression of the position of Auckland, begirt as it is by harbours, and forming a centre from which water communication radiates inland in every direction. As viewed from the harbour, Auckland presents rather an imposing appearance, the greater number of the houses having been built near the water, in the bays, and upon the headlands with which the harbour is indented. These bays are backed by small valleys, which run inland to the distance of about half a mile, terminating in narrow gullies, and are separated from each other by spurs which run into the harbour and terminate in low headlands. The lower parts of the town being thus divided, the roads which connect them with each other are somewhat steep and inconvenient.
St. Paul's church, with its neat spire, occupying a prominent position on the central headland, is an ornamental feature. The most considerable public buildings are the Britomart and Albert barracks, having, together, accommodation for nearly 1000 men. These buildings are solid and substantial, but, from being built mostly of a dark greycoloured scoria, have a gloomy appearance. The military stores, hospital, magazine, and commissariat page 104offices are also built of scoria. Besides these, the Scotch church, the Colonial Hospital, the Roman Catholic church, the Wesleyan Institution, and the windmill on the hill, with the extinct crater of Mount Eden in the background, are the most prominent objects.
Official Bay, commanded by St. Paul's church, and with its detached cottage-like houses, built on a sheltered slope, each snugly nestled in the luxuriant shrubbery of its surrounding garden, looks pretty and picturesque. Commercial Bay, as seen from the water, presents the appearance of a large town, having a mass of houses closely packed together. Mechanic's Bay has a large rope-walk, a shipbuilder's yard, a native hostelry, and other buildings. This bay is the principal place of encampment for the natives visiting Auckland in their canoes; here they land their produce, supplying the city market with potatoes, onions, and other vegetables, together with pigs and poultry, &c, to a large extent. In fine weather they bivouac in the open air, or under their sail-made tents, and in bad, seek shelter in the neighbouring inn. There are several good and well laid out streets in the town, though some of them, as Shortland Crescent, are extremely steep. The principal houses are now built of brick, wood being the material of which the earlier dwellings were erected. Some of the shops in the town are very good; there are three churches of England, several schools, good hotels, a bank, a mechanics' institute, and a concert-room. Auckland is the seat of the see of the Bishop of page 105New Zealand, and the spot from which missionary enterprise is chiefly directed, being the centre of the operations of the Church Missionary Society for New Zealand, and of the Wesleyan missions for the South Seas, as well as the head-quarters of the Church of Rome and her apostolic missions in the western Pacific. It is also the principal depôt for the military stationed in the island. Two battalions of military pensioners, enrolled for service in New Zealand, with their officers, are located at villages in the suburbs; and ships of war are constantly lying at anchor in the port.
Owing to the shallowness of the water on the shore of the harbour at low tides, a wooden jetty 500 feet long has been erected at Official Bay, where it forms a good landing-place at all states of the tide, and affords to the public an agreeable promenade. A quay or wharf stretching out into the harbour from Commercial Bay, alongside which coasting vessels receive and discharge their cargo, is also a great addition to the business part of the town. The country within a short distance of the capital is fast becoming settled and cultivated. Many of the residents in the pensioners' villages have acquired considerable property; and their small farms supply Auckland with quantities of grain, poultry, butter, milk, cheese, vegetables, and fruit. South of Auckland is the Papakura district, the centre of which comprises an extensive plain, agreeably diversified with clumps and belts of trees, which give it a beautiful park-like appearance. Contiguous to the town are the rural villages of page 106Epsom, Newmarket, Remuera, Onehunga, Panmure, Howick, and Otahuhu; at all of which there are places of worship belonging to the Established Church, and in several of them chapels of other denominations. There are also day and Sunday schools in each of these villages.
Seen from She high bluff in the vicinity of St. Paul's church, the harbour presents the appearance of a land-locked, lake-like sheet of water. The Flagstaff Hill, and North Head, of mound-like form, bound it on the left. Over the low neck of land which connects these, appears the remarkable and lofty volcanic island of Rangitoto, with its triple peak, forming a natural breakwater, as it were, to the north; and beyond are seen the islands of Motutapu, Waiheki, and Ponui; whilst the distance is bounded to the eastward, across the frith of the Thames, by the high lands above Coromandel Harbour, marking the position of the Coromandel gold fields.
The country immediately around Auckland is for the most part devoid of timber; and the isthmus or neck of land on which it is situated bears the strongest traces of volcanic action. Even within sight of the town are some twenty to thirty extinct craters of various elevations, up to 300 or 400 feet, around which lie masses of scoria. The greater part of the land on this isthmus, which divides the two harbours, is now in a high, state of cultivation. Solid stone walls and quickset hedges are generally taking the place of temporary wooden fences of posts and rails. At Epsom, and in the Tamaki district, there page 107are grass and clover paddocks, as large, as rich, as well laid down, and as substantially fenced, as any grass land in England. There is a good macadamized road across the isthmus from Auckland to Onehunga, on the Manukau Harbour; and the country around is studded with picturesque farms, cottages, and wayside houses.
Both in agriculture and commerce Auckland appears to be making rapid progress; and, no doubt, now that the native disturbances are virtually at an end, this part of New Zealand, so favoured both by climate and natural position, will present great attractions to the intending emigrant. Within a radius of fourteen miles from Auckland, there are upwards of 20,000 acres fenced in and in crop, whilst more than 5000 head of cattle, besides horses and sheep, are depastured on the isthmus alone. Seven hundred vessels of various sizes, and nearly 2000 native canoes, yearly enter the port of Auckland. There are more than 100 vessels registered as belonging to this port alone, besides upwards of 150 smaller coasting and river craft. Whale ships are again resorting in numbers to this port, as the harbour is open to all the world for vessels to enter and depart free of charge. On the island of Kawaw, in the Gulf of Hauraki, extensive copper-mining works have been established; and at the Great Barrier Island copper mines are in full operation.
At the Bay of Islands there exists the small town of Kororarika, long the resort of the South Sea whalers. This place offers great facilities for shipping, but is difficult of access from the main page 108land, being surrounded with steep, abrupt hills. It has several places of worship, public-houses, and stores; and there is a scattered population, both European and native, along the shores of the bay, in the small nooks of which they have erected their somewhat primitive-looking dwellings. The government township of Russell, at the mouth of the Kauakaua, has increased of late; inns are not wanting, and an abundance of fowls, geese, and ducks renders the scene homely and English-looking.
On the northern shores of the bay, Pahia, the early head-quarters of the Church mission in New Zealand, is seen, like a green oasis, nestled at the foot of high fern hills. It is a pretty spot, with about a dozen or more neat dwellings, almost embowered in foliage, and surrounded by gardens, in which the banana, the loquat, and the peach thrive beneath the mild and delightful climate of this portion of the island.
Speaking of the Bay of Islands, Mr. Angas says, "Nothing can exceed the beauty of the scenery surrounding this harbour; the view from the flagstaff was enchanting. The waters of the bay, indenting the rugged hills around, formed capes, promontories, and headlands innumerable; the distant hills appeared scattered with cowrie forests; the blue ocean broke beyond, against the tall, dark rocks that flank the entrance to this sheltered expanse; and around, beneath a bright evening sky, appeared rich clumps of evergreen foliage and treefern glens, with here and there, on some rocky projection, a lofty pohukatoa stretching out towards page 109the sea its aged limbs, crowned with masses of crimson bloom."
Besides the regular settlements, with their various dependencies, there are to be found scattered along the coasts of the province, generally near the mouths of rivers, in some pleasant valley, small communities of from 50 to 200 people, European and native. Such are the trading and mission stations of Kawhia and Mokau, on the west coast, and those of Waingaroa, Kaipara, and Hokianga; also the timber stations of Mercury Bay and Coromandel Harbour, to the east of Auckland. It is in these outlying settlements that the intelligent and handsome race of half-castes are most frequently to be met with.
The province of Wellington occupies the southern portion of the North Island, between New Plymouth on the west, and Hawke's Bay on the east, having an extensive sea-board along the northern shores of Cook's Straits. It was first settled by the New Zealand Company in 1840; the site of the capital, Wellington, being chosen at Port Nicholson, on account of the excellence of its harbour, and the advantages of its central position. The extreme length of the province, from north to south, is nearly 200 miles; whilst the extent of its coast-line is about 300. The neighbourhood of the city of Wellington is rugged and heavily timbered, affording, except in the detached valleys, but little land suitable either for agriculture or pasture. This drawback has, however, been compensated for by the excellent military roads which have been formed, and have opened up the communication with the page 110fine districts skirting the northern shores of Cook's Straits, along which are planted a line of settlements, some of which are fast growing into importance.
Wellington itself is situated on a beautiful bay within the harbour of Port Nicholson. The houses are for the most part built of wood, owing to the shocks of earthquakes which occur from time to time. It possesses excellent hotels, two banks, several fine churches and chapels, and a commodious hospital. The new government assembly house forms a prominent and picturesque feature on Thornton Flat; buildings are springing up rapidly at the business part of the town, called Te Aro (formerly a native "pah"), and some large new stores and warehouses are in course of erection. There are three newspapers published at Wellington; and the population have horticultural shows and theatrical entertainments, as well as choral and literary societies, combined with annual race meetings and aquatic sports, to beguile the monotony of colonial life.
The position of the harbour of Port Nicholson, at the south-eastern entrance of Cook's Straits, renders it exposed to the heavy gales that at certain times blow from that quarter during the winter season. Between the high land that rises on each side of the entrance to the harbour, the wind, on such occasions, rushes in, as through a funnel, with unrelenting fury. These "south-easters" generally last two or three days, and blow with such terrific violence that no communication can be held page 111with the shipping at anchor in the bay; and the wooden houses of Wellington rock and tremble to the storm.
Inland from Wellington there is ready access to some of the finest agricultural and pastoral lands in either island. A fair road of twelve miles, winding through the beautiful forest-clad hills at the back of the town, and dotted with roadside clearings and picturesque cottages, leads to Porirua, a pretty lake and harbour for small craft, in Cook's Straits. Here commences a tract of fine coast country about one hundred miles in length by twenty in breadth. The Manawatu, about seventy miles from Wellington, is a considerable river, navigable for coasting craft. Numerous settlers are scattered along its banks, who possess a large extent of cleared land and some fine flocks and herds.
Wanganui, some fifty miles further north, bids fair to be an important settlement. The village or township called Petre, about two miles from the mouth of the Wanganui River, is a military post, a leading mission station, and the depôt of a large and flourishing native trade.
Along the picturesque and fertile valley of the Hutt, running inland from the head of Port Nicholson harbour, is a road communicating with the Wairarapa plains, distant from Wellington about forty miles. This is one of the finest pastoral districts in New Zealand, now exhibiting several little village-towns, and the homesteads and stockstations of numbers of thriving settlers, rich in sheep and cattle. The interior of the province, a page 112country well watered by the feeders of the Manawatu and the Wanganui, traversed by the Rua Wahine range of mountains, and running north up to the confines of Lake Taupo, is comparatively but little known. It is said, however, to contain many valleys and small plains well adapted for cultivation.
The little province of Hawke's Bay was separated in 1858 from that of Wellington, of which it was formerly a part. It is situated on the east coast, to the south of the Auckland province, and possesses the harbour of Ahurihi, which is a tolerably good one for steamers and coasting vessels. The capital is the infant town of Napier. The area of the province is somewhere above two and a half millions of acres, about half of which has already been acquired by the government. The land is remarkable for its great natural fertility, a large proportion of it being admirably suited both for agricultural and pastoral purposes. In places it presents the appearance of a beautiful champaign country, dotted here and there with trees and clumps of foliage. The climate is salubrious and delightful, and its central position, and the great natural advantages it offers to the settler, will no doubt attract to Hawke's Bay a considerable share of British enterprise and labour.
The scenery of Cook's Straits, as viewed from the deck of a vessel sailing through it, is remarkably fine and grand. Coming from the westward, the lofty summit of Mount Egmont, at its northern entrance, is visible at a distance of ninety miles, rearing its snow-capped cone high above the horizon, and marking the site of Taranaki, or New Plymouth. page 113Entering the strait, the land on either side becomes visible, broken into all manner of rugged and fantastic forms, and mountain ranges clothed with forest or fern. On the right, the coast of the Middle Island displays long ranges of very high land, backed by mountain peaks covered with snow. To the left, Entry Island, and Mana or Table Island, are visible, with the shores towards Port Nicholson. Presently is seen the entrance to Queen Charlotte's Sound, with the high Cape Kumaroo, and the remarkable group of rocks called "the Brothers" in the foreground. Then appear the shores of Cloudy Bay, formerly a celebrated resort of South Sea whalers, beyond which extends a ridge of snow-clad mountains losing themselves in the distance, as they range away to the southward; the lofty peak of Mount Tako rising above the rest of the Kaikoras or "Lookers-on," as this grand mountain chain is called. The entrance to the harbour of Port Nicholson is between high bluff headlands, with sharp, needle-like rocks jutting out of the water on both sides. On passing through this entrance the noble harbour of Port Nicholson presents a most beautiful appearance; a vast sheet of water, completely landlocked, with two small islands rising near its centre, and the large township of Wellington situated on its western shore. Nothing can exceed the loveliness of the scenery when viewed from the heights at the back of the town: the harbour, on a sunny day, looks like a large blue lake embosomed deep in hills and rocky precipices; the islands in its centre glittering in the sunshine, and its surface enlivened page 114with ships and boats and the graceful canoes of the natives. To the northward, the fertile valley of the Hutt stretches up towards the inland mountains, backed by the snowy range of Tararua, whose white summits stand out in bold relief against the dark blue sky. A beach of fine white sand borders the deep bays and indentations of the shore, where the scattered residences of the settlers, and the villages of the natives peep out amidst green clearings and gardens, or patches of deep umbrageous forest, rivalling in foliage the luxuriance of the tropics.
The small province of New Plymouth, or Taranaki, occupies that projecting part of the southwestern portion of the North Island, terminating in Cape Egmont. It was founded in 1840 by a body of Devonshire and Cornish gentlemen, who afterwards handed it over to the New Zealand Company. The town of New Plymouth, situated on the sea-coast, is extremely picturesque in appearance, being scattered up and down the sloping sides of gentle hills, and resembles an English village more than any other in the country. The surrounding scenery is remarkably beautiful; and in the background rises the lofty snow-clad cone of Mount Egmont, which gives a peculiar and grand effect to the landscape. Indeed the country around New Plymouth may well be styled the garden of New Zealand. The soil consists of a rich mould, with luxuriant wooded dells here and there, and clear streams leaping and sparkling along the fertile valleys towards the sea. The cottages of the settlers, with their rustic homesteads and well-tilled fields, page 115are scattered about in every direction; the abundance of the crops testifying to the fertile character of the soil. The climate is agreeable and very healthy: and few parts of the world can boast of finer-looking children than those born and reared in New Plymouth. The principal drawback to the settlement is the want of a good harbour, the only anchorage being an open roadstead, exposed to the north-west. The town has a population of about 1500 persons, most of whom are from the western counties of England. It contains a handsome stone church, several chapels and schools, a hospital, a literary institution, some good inns, a fine assembly-room, a brewery, and three excellent flour-mills. The houses, mostly built of wood, with high, thatched roofs, and gardens full of flowers, have a very picturesque aspect. Trees and ferns, left here and there, throw their shadows across the paths; and neat gates and compact fences add to the rustic beauty of the scene. The natives about New Plymouth, and in the other parts of the province, are numerous; and a considerable proportion of the land still remains in their hands. They evince a strong dislike to parting with their lands, and thus much of the finest territory lies idle. The disputes between the natives and the government surveyors have led to serious disturbances from time to time; and a harassing guerilla war has much retarded the progress, and checked the security and happiness of the settlers. The natives about New Plymouth are much advanced in agriculture, have some good horses, and a finer breed of cattle than is to be seen page 116in possession of other tribes; their cultivations are many of them fenced in with post and rail fences.
Although so limited in area, nearly all the land in the province is of the finest and most fertile description, and well suited for the production of wheat, barley, potatoes, maize, and green crops of all sorts. English grasses and Dutch clover grow in the richest luxuriance. The pastures are as rich as those of Devonshire; and no clotted cream or butter can surpass that made in the dairies of New Plymouth, whilst their cheese is quite equal to the finest Stilton. The climate and water are well adapted for brewing; the hop grows well, and excellent beer is brewed near the town.