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 VII. — The New Zealanders
The New Zealanders.
The men of New Zealand are generally tall and muscular; some of the chiefs are above the average height of Europeans, and but few incline to obesity. The women, on the other hand, are rather short in stature, plump, and well made; their hands and feet being frequently small and well proportioned. Their complexion varies greatly in different individuals; sometimes it is no darker than that of the peasants of Italy or Spain, at others it is considerably deeper in shade; the higher classes being much fairer than the people of inferior birth, as is the case throughout Polynesia generally.
Their hair is remarkably black, glossy, and luxuriant, though somewhat coarse; that of the men was formerly tied up in a knot at the crown of the head, and ornamented with feathers; they now usually crop it short, after the fashion of Europeans. The women wear theirs long, and mostly loose, flowing over the shoulders; the girls let it fall over the forehead, cropping it in a straight line, about an inch above the eyebrows. Instances occur where the hair is brown and in clustering curls; and also, though rarely, of a flaxen or golden colour. Children having flaxen hair, are called "tikis," and page 144are much admired. The hair on the head of a chief is a very sacred object, and the operation of cutting it is accompanied with certain customs, connected with "tapu."
The eyes of both sexes are almost invariably dark hazel, and those of the young people are large and beautiful; but the effect of constantly sitting over the smoke of their wood fires soon destroys the beauty of their eyes, which in the old people are bloodshot and contracted. The countenances of some of the chiefs indicate a great degree of intelligence, and are totally without any savage expression; whilst the nobleness of their aspect and bearing at once proclaims their superiority over most uncivilized races of man. It is only in moments of passion and excitement that their countenances are lighted up with ferocity; at other times they display a combination of dignity and mildness which is sure to win the confidence of a stranger.
The younger women of the better class, such as the daughters of some of the important chiefs, may lay claim to be considered handsome; they possess a gipsy-like style of beauty, which is heightened by a natural modesty and bashfulness. They frequently form matrimonial alliances with Europeans, and the result of these marriages is the finest race of half-castes, perhaps, in the world. The slave women, on the other hand, are about as coarse and unprepossessing as the daughters of the chiefs are pleasing and comely.
Infanticide was formerly practised to a great page 145extent; but the efforts of the missionaries, and increasing intercourse with Europeans, have done much towards abolishing this horrid custom.
Like other Polynesians, the New Zealanders are excessively fond of their children; and the father frequently spends a considerable portion of his time in nursing his infant, who nestles in his blanket, and is lulled to rest by some native song. The children are cheerful and lively, full of vivacity and intelligence. They pass their early years almost without restraint, amusing themselves with various games, such as flying kites formed of leaves, throwing mimic spears made of fern stalks; or sailing their little flax canoes on the rivers, or watching them tossed about by the waves of the sea.
Tattooing, so prevalent throughout central Polynesia, where, in the Marquesas, it assumes the most elaborate designs over the whole body, is confined, amongst the New Zealanders, to the face and thighs. This process is undergone at intervals from the period of arriving at manhood; the operation is tedious, and attended with the most excruciating pain. The "tohungas," or priests, were generally the operators in the ceremony of tattooing; they being considered to excel in the art of carving, both in wood and on flesh. The ornaments consist of spiral lines on the cheeks, and nose, and round the mouth; with radiating ones from the eyebrows across the forehead. In character these designs resemble the patterns of their carvings on their canoes and houses. The instrument used to produce them is a little chisel made of bone, which is page 146driven into the skin by blows from a small mallet. The point of the chisel is repeatedly dipped into a mixture of resin and charcoal, which, after the wounds have healed, renders the lines of an indelible blue colour. Amongst the chiefs it would formerly have been considered the greatest disgrace not to have been tattooed; and none but slaves were without the spiral carving of the face, considered so indispensable to men of birth and courage. At the present time, however, many of the sons of influential chiefs, adopting as they do in dress and manners the customs of the Europeans, have dispensed with this peculiar and barbarous disfigurement, and persons may be met with, who, having discontinued the custom on embracing Christianity, display one side of their face only, or a portion of their features, decorated with the "moko," as the tattooing is called. With the women the tattooing of the face only extends to the lips and chin; and in a very few instances their ankles are also tattooed. It is a reproach to a woman to have red lips; and on arriving at a proper age they are rendered blue by pricking them all over, and then rubbing in soot or charcoal.
Polygamy was customary amongst them prior to the introduction of Christianity; but even then the women occupied a high position in the social scale, many of the wives of important chiefs possessing considerable influence over their tribes.
Before the introduction of Christianity, the New Zealanders believed in the existence of invisible spirits, which they termed "atuas," or gods, to page 147which they ascribed the form of a lizard. They affirmed that after death the soul goes to the "reinga," a place of future abode, which they supposed was approached only down the face of a steep precipice, at the northernmost extremity of the North Island; which place is known as Cape Maria Van Diemen.
Although fire-arms have now almost entirely supplanted the native implements of war, a brief notice of the latter may be interesting. In battle, each chief always carried a staff of very hard wood with a carved head, the sharp point of which, designed to resemble the human tongue thrust out in defiance, was urged forward as a mark of insult to the enemy; the eyes were made of pieces of pearl-shell inserted on each side, and the staff was still further ornamented with red parrots' feathers, and tufts of dogs' hair. This staff, called "e hani," was also carried in the circle of debate; the chief, whilst speaking, running up and down, and holding in his hand the ornamented "hani." The "meri," or war club, was a flattened oval weapon, from one to two feet in length, used in single combat. It was either made out of a bone of the whale or of green jade. This weapon was fastened by a flax cord round the arm, which confined it to the wrist, when in use. Another weapon was the "patu," a light wooden instrument about four feet long, having a semicircular head like a chopper, sharp towards the edge, and generally adorned with a bunch of "kaka" feathers, the handle being frequently carved. A spear, about twelve feet long, was mentioned by Captain Cook as being in use in the last century, but it is now page 148obsolete. The tomahawk, now so extensively used by the New Zealanders, was introduced by English and American whalers. Many of the iron heads of tomahawks thus procured are set upon handles of native manufacture, formed of either wood or bone, and often beautifully carved in the usual grotesque patterns.
Grand feasts take place on certain important occasions. At such periods the improvident natives will prepare for the entertainment by raising an extra quantity of provisions of all kinds; and then, owing to the extravagant waste that takes place during the festivity, they submit to be half starved for months afterwards.
At one feast of this sort, given by a chief in the neighbourhood of Auckland to the surrounding tribes, the row of blankets intended as presents to his friends, with the roast pigs, and the baskets of potatoes and dried fish piled up together, exceeded a mile in length. Thousands of natives were assembled, many of them having come distances of two hundred miles. The war dance was performed at intervals during the feasting, and the entertainment kept up for several days, until all the supplies were either wasted or devoured.
The New Zealanders generally have but two meals a day—one in the morning, the other at sunset—these consist usually of potatoes, steamed in a native oven between heated stones, or boiled in an iron pot: their drink is water, contained in calabashes. The food is served in baskets made of flax, or of the long narrow leaves of the Freycinetia Banksii, plaited coarsely together. These baskets are made page 149by the women whilst the food is cooking, and are thrown aside when the repast is over. The New Zealanders are very particular about their food; for instance, it must always be consumed in the open air, and never in a sleeping-house; neither may any one eat in a canoe, but must wait till they land. No food is permitted to touch the head or hair of a chief, which is sacred; and if food is mentioned in connection with anything sacred (or "tapu"), it is considered as an insult, and revenged as such. The law of "tapu" is general amongst the Polynesian race. In New Zealand it is carried to a great extent. The laying on of the "tapu" literally means to pronounce the individual or article in question so tapued, to be sacred for a greater or less period of time. Burial-places, articles consecrated to the dead, property left in an uninhabited place, the maize and "kumera" (or sweet potato) plantations, and various other objects, are made "tapu;" an entire pah, or village, is often laid under the same restriction, as are roads, houses, and canoes. An individual who has been sick is "tapu," until a certain period after his recovery; and the head, and frequently the whole person of a chief is strictly "tapu;" so is a girl when betrothed in marriage; and a wife is always "tapu" to every one but her husband.
On the death of a chief, a great lamentation ensues, which is called a "tangi." The women cut their arms and lacerate their faces and breasts in a dreadful manner, with the sharp broken pieces of mussels and other shells, until they become covered page 150with blood. The clothes and property of a deceased chief are usually buried with him; or they are collected together, and placed in a "wahi tapu," or sacred enclosure, surrounded with a fence, where they rot away, exposed to the winds and the weather. The body is enclosed in a mausoleum of carved woodwork within the "pah" for several months, and at the expiration of this period, the ceremony of "lifting the bones" takes place, which is performed by the nearest relative of the deceased. The bones, after being well scraped and cleaned, are then deposited in a box, and buried.
The usual mode of salutation amongst the New Zealanders is that of pressing their noses together. When friends meet, who have been separated for some time, a "tangi," or crying, takes place, the parties sitting in silence opposite to each other for perhaps half an hour, exchanging no words, but uttering melancholy wailings; then, all of a sudden, they approach, press noses, and commence laughing and chatting in the most lively manner possible.
The New Zealanders bury their dead, usually erecting some sort of carved wooden monument, or half a canoe set up on end, above the graves of their more important personages. Mr. Angas's description of the tomb of a chief, which he visited at Queen Charlotte's Sound, will give an idea of these places of sepulture generally. He says, "We arrived at the village of Huriwenua, the gaily ornamented tomb of the late chief forming a conspicuous object in the centre. Not a living soul was to be seen; the village, with its neat houses, built of 'raupo,' page 151and its court-yards, and provision boxes raised on poles, was entirely deserted. From the moment the chief was wrapped in his war mats, and laid beneath the upright canoe; on which was inscribed his name and rank, the whole village became strictly 'tapu,' or sacred; and not a native, on pain of death, was permitted to trespass near the spot: the houses were all fastened up, and on most of the doors were inscriptions, denoting that the property of such an one remained there. On arriving at the tomb, I was struck with the contrast between the monument of the savage and that of the civilized European; in the erection of the latter, marble and stone, and the most durable of metals are employed: rapidly decaying wood, red ochre, and feathers, form the decorations of the Maori tomb. Hiriwenua, having been buried only six weeks, the ornaments of the 'wahi tapu,' or 'sacred place,' as these erections are termed, remained fresh and uninjured by the weather. The central upright canoe was richly painted with black and red, and at the top was written the name of the chief; above which there hung in clusters bunches of 'kaka' feathers, forming a large mass at the summit of the canoe. A double fence of high paling, also painted red, and ornamented with devices in arabesque work, extended round the grave; and at every fastening of flax, where the horizontal rails were attached to the upright fencing, were stuck two feathers of the albatross, the snowy whiteness of which contrasted beautifully with the sombre black and red of the remainder of the monument."page 152
The New Zealanders were formerly celebrated for the large size, elegance, and rich carving of their war canoes. At the period of Captain Cook's first visit, double canoes of great size were observed amongst them, though none of these are to be seen at the present day. In former times large fieets of canoes often went on war excursions to different parts of the island; and as the country is everywhere intersected with considerable rivers, and contains many lakes, the canoes were dragged from one to the other. Some of their war canoes were eighty feet long, and would carry upwards of one hundred warriors. They were made of "kauri" or "totara" pine, and had gunwales on their sides, firmly attached by flax cords; they were gaily painted red, with ochre and oil, and ornamented with a profusion of bunches of white feathers along the gunwale. The head and stern-post were richly carved with spiral work and grotesque human figures, streamers of feathers flying from the latter. When not used, these war canoes were preserved under long sheds, thatched with reeds, to protect them from the weather. The ordinary canoes employed on the lakes and rivers are about thirty or forty feet long, and are propelled by broad paddles with handles, the natives shouting and singing as they proceed, all keeping time together with their paddles.
The New Zealander has a fixed and settled habitation: he either resides in his "pah," which is a fortified stockade, or in a village, or native settlement, which is not enclosed, where the houses are page 153scattered about here and there. In times of warfare the whole tribe was accustomed to seek refuge within the "pah," which was generally erected on the summit of a steep hill, on an island, or on a headland jutting out into a river or the sea. The "pah" was surrounded with one or more lines of strong high fencing, with large posts at intervals, on which were carved figures of men painted red. The interior was divided, by means of lower pallisades, into numerous court-yards, communicating with each other by means of stiles. In each court stands the house and cook-house, as well as the elevated "patuka," or store for food, of one or more families. The dwelling-house, and frequently the store-house, is ornamented with grotesque carving, the fronts being coloured red. The cook-house is merely a shed built of posts or slabs of wood, placed several inches apart, so as to admit the air and let out the smoke, and roofed with beams and a thatch of reeds. In these houses the domestic operations of cooking and preparing corn, &c., are carried on during wet weather. The sleeping or dwelling houses are partly sunk in the ground, and are always built with a gable roof and a verandah, where the occupants generally sit. The inner chamber serves as a sleeping-apartment, and towards evening is heated by means of a fire in the centre; after the family enters for the night, the door and window are tightly closed, and in this almost suffocating atmosphere the inhabitants pass the night; when day comes, they creep out of the low door into the sharp morning air, dripping with perspiration.page 154
The houses of the chiefs were formerly conspicuous objects in a New Zealand "pah" or village. They had a gable roof thatched with reeds, with a verandah in front; the wood-work being elaborately carved in grotesque shapes, representing human figures, with the tongue protruding, as if in defiance towards those who may approach. The whole of this carved work was painted red, with an ochre, called "kokowai." The interior of these houses consists of a large chamber twenty or thirty feet long, with a door and small window opening into the verandah in front. This verandah is about twelve feet deep, having the ridge-pole, and the flat frameboards of the roof inside richly painted in spiral arabesques of black and red, the margin of each spiral being dotted with white spots, which adds richness to the effect. The spaces between the wood-work are filled up with variegated reeds, beautifully arranged, and fastened together with strips of flax, dyed red, and tied crosswise, so as to present the appearance of ornamental basket-work. Above the centre of the gable-roofed portico is generally fixed a carved wooden figure of a man with protruding tongue, and eyes inlaid with pearl shell. Sometimes, to this image a beard of dogs' tails is attached. Within the centre of the house is another larger figure, richly carved, which supports, by a pillar from its head, the ridge-pole of the roof.
Their plantations and potato grounds are often extensive in the neighbourhood of their villages. The latter are clearings from the forest, where the page 155best soil is to be met with. As during certain seasons of the year they are constantly at work in these gardens, they erect temporary sheds, and long thatched buildings, under which to repose in wet weather, and also for the purpose of cooking their meals. Picturesque-looking store-houses for seed are also to be seen in their clearings; these are like large boxes, with a gable roof, and perhaps a carved door, with a little image on the top, and are supported on high poles, to preserve them from the attacks of the rats, the natives ascending to them by means of a sort of rude ladder.
The "kumera," or sweet potato, is extensively cultivated, and is esteemed sacred by the natives, many ceremonies being connected with its planting and propagation. It is chiefly eaten on the arrival of strangers, or upon the occasion of feasts and other ceremonies.
Before the introduction of blankets, the clothing of the New Zealanders consisted almost exclusively of garments manufactured from the fibres of the native flax. These garments, or "mats," as they are generally termed, display great ingenuity and taste in their fabrication; the threads are interwoven longitudinally, with others placed crosswise, and every thread is carefully fastened at intervals of about half an inch. The making of these garments rests entirely with the women; who construct within their dwellings a framework of upright sticks, before which they will sit for hours, busily employed in tying and arranging the threads, and passing the time in social gossip.page 156
Both summer and winter dresses are composed of flax: the rougher garments, made of the dried leaves, fastened into a fabric of stout fibres, are very warm, and impervious to the rain, giving the wearer, when sitting down, somewhat the appearance of a thatched hay-cock. The mat most generally worn is the black-string mat called "e koroai," a flax dress thickly ornamented with black strings or filaments, about a foot long, which have a very graceful appearance as they hang over the folds of the drapery. Another kind is adorned with tufts or bosses of coloured wool, and has black strings here and there at intervals. Before the introduction of wool, scarlet feathers were employed for the ornamentation of these dresses. Frequently the winter mats or cloaks are thickly covered with strips of flax leaves, rolled up like tubes, and dyed black at alternate intervals, resembling porcupine's quills; these dangle from the garment, and produce a loud rustling noise as they jostle together at every movement of the wearer. The "topuni," or war mat, belongs exclusively to the men, and is only possessed by the chiefs, who assume it on all occasions of ceremony or importance. The "topuni" consists of a large flax cloak, into which is fastened, with every thread, a portion of dog's hair, assorted into various colours, having the exact appearance of a beautiful fur. The patterns are varied and handsome; they are often of a pure white, bordered with a broad band of black: others are varied with black and brown or black and white hair, arranged in narrow stripes. These war mats have a shaggy page 157collar, composed of strips of fur about six inches long, which falls over the shoulders.
The most beautiful and valued of all these garments is the "kaitaka," or finest flax mat, wrought out of a species of Phormium, cultivated especially for the purpose, the fibres of which almost resemble silk: the whole surface is plain; the ornament being confined entirely to the border, which is, in some cases, a couple of feet in depth, and of the richest character, beautifully worked in vandyke patterns of black, red, and white. The natives about the East Cape excel in the manufacture of these elegant and delicate mats; the women frequently devoting a period of two years to the production of a superior "kaitaka."
The New Zealanders are very partial to ornaments, and adorn their heads with a variety of feathers, and occasionally with the blossoms of the clematis, the metrosideros, and the hoya. Amongst the feathers employed, those of the tail of the Neomorpha Gouldii have a beautiful appearance; they are black, tipped with white; and small carved boxes are used by the chiefs in which to keep them. Bunches of the white feathers of the albatross are frequently worn in the ears of both sexes, as are also small birds; or, at times, the wings of the eagle, or the hawk, are fastened on either side of the head, producing an effect like the winged cap of Mercury.
The most prized ornaments amongst them are those manufactured of nephrite or green jade, which is found at a lake in the Middle Island, page 158and called "poonamu" by the natives. Some of these ornaments are in the form of ear-drops, varying in form, and in length, from two to five or six inches. Around the neck is worn a small ludicrous figure, representing a man of grotesque proportions, with large red eyes, which is formed out of semi-transparent green jade. These little images are highly prized as heir-looms or charms, passing from one generation to another; and it is with much difficulty a native can be persuaded to part with one. The tooth of the tiger-shark, drilled, and the end covered with red wax, is also an esteemed ornament as an ear-drop.
The only native musical instrument of the New Zealanders was one resembling a small flute, which was played by the nose. It was made either of wood or of human bone—generally of the leg bone of an enemy; and when this was the case, it was highly valued as a trophy, and richly carved.
Their principal amusements are draughts, singing, and dancing; they also play at ball, swing, and throw the spear. The war-dance was by far the most exciting of all their heathen exercises, and was performed before commencing battle. The purpose of this savage dance was to excite their warriors to the highest pitch of fury, and to bid defiance to the enemy; accordingly, in its celebration, the tongue is thrust out with the most insulting grimaces, the limbs are distorted, the whites of the eyes are turned up, and the dancing is accompanied with ribald and aggravating songs. On these occasions they bedaub their bodies with page 159red ochre, the warriors fighting naked, their heads only being ornamented with the feathers of the "huia."
Cannibalism was formerly prevalent amongst the New Zealanders. The implacable desire of revenge which is characteristic of these people, and the belief that the strength and courage of a devoured enemy are transferred to him who eats him, were, without question, the causes of this unnatural taste—not the pleasure of devouring human flesh, which was certainly secondary, and, besides, not at all general. A chief was often satisfied with the left eye of his enemy, which was regarded as the seat of the soul. They likewise drank the blood, from a similar belief. The heads of vanquished enemies were stuck up on poles round their "pahs" or villages. Preserved New Zealand heads, which are frequently to be met with in European museums, and in the cabinets of the curious, were prepared in the following manner. If they were heads of enemies taken in battle, the lips were stretched out and sewn apart; if, on the contrary, it was the head of one of the chiefs of their own tribe, who had died, and they were preserving it with all customary honours, they sewed the lips close together in a pouting attitude. A hole was dug in the earth, and heated with red-hot stones, and then the eyes, ears, and all the orifices of the head, except the windpipe, being carefully sewn up, and the brains taken out, the aperture of the neck was placed over the mouth of the heated oven, and the head well steamed. This process was continued until the page 160head was completely free from moisture, and the skin perfectly cured; fern root was then thrust into the nostrils, and in this state the heads were either placed in a sacred place, and rendered "tapu," or they were bartered in exchange for muskets or blankets to the whalers and Sydney traders. To the shame of Europeans thus engaged, it must be told, that so eager were they to procure these dried heads for sale in England and elsewhere, that many chiefs were persuaded to kill their slaves, and tattoo their faces after death, to supply this unnatural demand, until the practice was put a stop to, by the New South Wales government inflicting a penalty of fifty pounds on any persons arriving in Sydney with a dried head in their possession.
Within the last half-century the moral and social condition and habits of the New Zealanders have been undergoing a great, though gradual change. Their native weapons have, to a considerable extent, been thrown aside, and muskets of European or American manufacture substituted for them, gunpowder and fire-arms being the chief articles of barter brought to the coast by vessels trading with the natives for their timber, pigs, and flax. Blankets, too, are constantly worn—these, together with the unbecoming European costume, have, unfortunately, almost superseded their beautiful native garments, made of the Phormium tenax, or New Zealand flax. This has proved to be a change for the worse; for the natives, being able to obtain blankets at an easy rate, in exchange for their pro-page 161duce, abandon the tedious manufacture of their elaborate flax garments, and grow lazy, and consequently vicious. Their health also suffers materially from wearing blankets; they keep the skin in a state of constant irritation, and harbour vermin, and, in wet weather, retain the damp for a long period, laying the foundation for consumption and other diseases, to which the New Zealanders are now becoming subject. The introduction of potatoes has also wrought a great change in their diet. They were introduced by Captain Cook, along with maize, or Indian corn; and these two vegetables have since formed almost the entire food of the natives; those on the coast, or on the banks of the rivers and lakes, adding fish. They eat their potatoes without salt, and many, who subsist exclusively on them, do not take sufficient exercise to render such a diet wholesome. Fevers, too, occur from the frequent and abundant use of putrid corn; the natives steeping the cobs of maize in water for several weeks, until they become perfectly rotten, when they make them into a most offensive sort of gruel. Their only animal food is pork, or occasionally a few pigeons or other birds.
In the month of April, 1843, the celebrated massacre of Europeans at the Wairau Valley took place; in which tragedy the celebrated chief Rauparaha took a leading part. The occasion of dispute between the settlers and the natives was owing to the surveyors of the New Zealand Company persisting in surveying land in the valley, which the natives page 162alleged had not been fairly purchased from them. After burning the surveyors' huts, the natives removed the property of the Europeans, untouched, to the sea-side, and desired them to quit the place, and return across the straits from whence they came. This they refused to do, and the police magistrate at Nelson in the mean time issued a warrant against Rauparaha, on a charge of arson, and proceeded himself to execute it, with an armed force of about fifty individuals. Rauparaha said he did not want to fight, but if the white people fought he would fight too. When the dispute was at the highest, a shot, fired, as one of the survivors asserts, by a native, laid one of the Europeans dead, and at that moment Mr. Thompson gave orders to fire. The firing was kept up briskly on both sides for a few minutes, but in this skirmishing the natives had greatly the advantage, the bushes on their side affording them better concealment. As the Europeans found themselves hotly pressed, they retreated in disorder up the hill, and fled in different directions, waving a white handkerchief, and shouting "kati" (peace). The natives now ceased firing, and came up to the white men, who delivered up their arms, and were now entirely at the mercy of Rauparaha. At this crisis a chief named Puaha endeavoured to become a peacemaker, and urged on his countrymen that enough blood had been shed. The number of killed being nearly equal on both sides, this was at first acceded to by Rauparaha, and both parties shook hands; but Rangihaeata, his great fighting man, called on him to avenge his daughter (who page 163had been previously killed by a chance shot), and demanded the lives of all who had surrendered. Standing in the midst of the natives, and utterly defenceless, the white men were easily separated. Rangihaeata silently glided round behind each singly, and with his tomahawk brained them all in succession, in spite of the pleadings of the women, who cried to him to save at least some of them.
Of the ten who had left their party after the first ineffectual offer of peace, one was already badly wounded; they hid themselves amongst the bushes and ferns, and at length managed to reach the coast, where they obtained a boat from a whaling station, and made their escape to the company's brig. Of this sad massacre, Mr. Angas, who visited Rauparaha's "pah" a few months afterwards, writes, "The natives have a different story to tell; they say that the Europeans fired first, and shot Rangihaeata's wife, and that they themselves had no wish to fight, until their passions were roused, when they fought in self-defence. The English were undoubtedly wrong in erecting buildings upon lands to which they had no established claim—upon land, the sale of which was disputed, and respecting which the commissioner had not yet given his decision. They were also wrong in apprehending Rauparaha, who had committed no crime, and in endeavouring to seize him by main force. But the natives, by putting to death in cold blood the prisoners who had surrendered themselves into their hands, were guilty of a crime that their barbarous page 164system of warfare scarcely allows. It was an act of savage revenge, and was prompted by one individual. Indeed, I have heard it stated by those who were connected with this sanguinary affair, that Rangihaeata, with his own hand, massacred all those who were taken prisoners, in order to revenge the death of his favourite wife, who was one of the daughters of Rauparaha, and was shot whilst sitting at the fire."
The history of Rauparaha is an eventful one. His birthplace was at Kawhia, on the west coast of the North Island; from whence, with his powerful tribe, he was expelled by the Nga Pui hosts from the Bay of Islands, in conjunction with the tribes of Waikato. He subsequently conquered the people on both shores of Cook's Straits, and took forcible possession of their lands, where he afterwards dwelt. By his skill in warfare, and wily cunning, he acquired great reputation amongst his tribe. He came from Kawhia as the fighting general of Te Pahi; and, after the latter was slain at Otago, he became chief of the tribe. The slaughter of Te Pahi was attended with the most revolting traits of cannibalism; he was suspended to a tree by his heels, and his throat cut, his enemies sucking the blood that flowed from the wound. Rauparaha, to avenge the death of Te Pahi, engaged with the master of an English vessel, of the name of Stewart, to carry him and a detachment of his people, under pretence of a trading voyage, to Otago; where the captain coaxed on board a leading chief of the tribe and his family, some of whom were immediately page 165despatched. Rauparaha with his party then landed, and laying waste the settlement, killed every man, woman, and child that came in their way. The chief who had been enticed on board, was made fast in the cabin by a hook through his throat; and, in despair at seeing his own daughter in the hands of these monsters, he killed her on the spot. On the voyage back to Cook's Straits this chief was murdered; and it is recorded as a fact that one of the ship's coppers was set apart by Captain Stewart for cooking the human flesh which formed the feast of Rauparaha and his victorious party.
About the year 1812, the ship "Boyd," from Sydney, was at anchor near Wangaroa, in the Bay of Islands, and admitted, without due caution, too large a number of natives on board, when the crew were suddenly attacked, overpowered, and slaughtered. Captain Berry, of the ship "Edinburgh Castle," being on the coast, was soon after apprised of this horrible event, and, proceeding to the bay, found the remains of the "Boyd," which had been burnt by the New Zealanders. On landing, he discovered that the massacre had been directed by Te Pahi, an old chief who had been much caressed in Sydney. The bones of the unfortunate men lay scattered on the ground, where their bodies had been devoured by these savages. Sixteen were murdered and cut up on the deck of the vessel; five others, who had fled for safety upon the yards, were told by Te Pahi that if they would come down their lives should be spared, which, after some hesitation, they consented to do. They were sent on shore. page 166and in five minutes afterwards their dead bodies lay on the beach. The only survivors whom Captain Berry contrived to save, were a woman, two children, and a boy.
During upwards of half a century that has elapsed since this shocking occurrence, the character of the New Zealander has been more accurately known. The undeniable ferocity of the savage and the cannibal has not been altogether eradicated, but it has been greatly tempered by increasing association with Christianity and a civilized government. Cannibalism has ceased, and most of the natives have embraced the Christian faith. But the cruel war into which they plunged, in the year 1860, with the colonial government, on the question of rights and customs as to the disposal of land, shows the old character ready again to display itself; as do also the several frightful massacres of Europeans which have from time to time occurred, from that of Wairau, down to the murders of the Rev. Mr. Volekner and others on the east coast, not twelve months ago.
The natives in the Middle Island had always been inferior in numbers, and probably in physical power, to the Northern Islanders, who from time to time made cruel and butcherly raids upon them These tribes however who thus suffered, had, in their turn, some generations previously, oppressed and slaughtered the race who were the former possessors of the southern half of the Middle Island; and there still remain, in the fastnesses of the Southern Alps, the refugee remnant of these page 167fugitives, who are termed by the other Maories, Gautimoemoes, or wild men. Some of these savages have lately been sighted by explorers, but they flee from the face of man. and have never been spoken with.