The Discovery of New Zealand
4 — Cook To D'Urville
Cook To D'Urville
First among the improvers on Cook came Cook. New Zealand was not to him henceforth an end but a means. He had given it, as an insular land, to geography, and for him, in spite of the known defects of his coastal exploration, it had become neither challenge nor problem but a base. His consuming interest was the elucidation of the whole southern ocean, the proof or disproof of the existence of the southern continent. But on his second voyage, that voyage which in its conception and execution was probably the most perfect of all the great voyages in the history of discovery, he did make plainer, in some signal respects, the outline of the country. There were two ships on that voyage, Cook's own Resolution and Tobias Furneaux's Adventure; the plan was to sail down first into high latitudes from the Cape of Good Hope, and so east, making rendezvous and seeking refreshment at Queen Charlotte's Sound. Three times in 1773 and 1774 Cook visited the Sound, once to find Furneaux there and twice without him; and again on his third voyage in 1777, before he sailed north to the Arctic and the last confused and fatal passage at the Hawaiian islands. Each visit was valuable to men much tried by the rigours of the sea, but only one added to geographical knowledge, and before then another piece of investigation had both added to knowledge and provided a basis for the sealing that became New Zealand's first industry. This was the charting of Dusky Sound.
Cook and Furneaux, in 1772, came into the Pacific from the west. The ships left the Cape on 22 November, and for weeks in December and January were in the midst of masses of ice. On 17 January 1773 their position was latitude 67° 15', longitude 30° 35' E., where they were blocked by an immense page 63icefield from further progress south, and were forced to turn north-east. In a gale on 8 February they parted, to meet again only after more than three months. Cook, nearly four months out of sight of land, wished to put into some southern harbour, and sighting the New Zealand coast on 25 March made first, in a thick haze, for the entrance of what he took to be his Dusky Bay. It was, however, Chalky Inlet, some twenty miles to the south, and not till next day did he cautiously enter Dusky, and moor his vessel under Anchor Island. In the afternoon Cook and one of his lieutenants, Pickersgill, went in search of a better anchorage; both were successful, but Cook preferring the lieutenant's, next morning the ship was warped into the little cove on the southern shore of the sound called Pickersgill Harbour, and moored with her yards among the branches of the great trees, and a natural gangway in the shape of one inclined, almost horizontal, trunk from ship to shore. Fine, even ideal, anchorage this was, and here the Resolution remained till 29 April. While the ship was overhauled in hull and rigging, a forge and an observatory were set up in spaces cleared for them; wooding and watering went energetically forward; fish (which was very abundant), fowl, seal and wild celery varied the diet of salt pork and ship's bread; a 'spruce beer' was successfully brewed (we have the recipe) from the leaves of rimu and manuka; and Cook and his officers made an almost complete survey of the sound, a very complicated network of islands, inlets, and coves. This was the finest piece of detailed surveying done on any of his voyages, and the resultant chart one of the most beautiful to come from them. The only part which had to be neglected was the northern arm, which Cook thought might possibly run into Doubtful Harbour—a very tentative opinion which left its mark nevertheless in the spurious 'Mac's Passage' (who 'Mac' was we do not know) of later imaginative maps, in spite of Vancouver's disproof and his completion of the chart in 1791. Few natives were seen, but with one family at least very friendly relations were established; none seemed to have settled habitation. The weather, over the greater part of the stay, was very wet; so pure was the air, however, so plentiful the fresh food, so efficacious the beer, that sickness rapidly disappeared, and the ship left the sound with but few words of discontent. Lieutenant page 64Clerke, who had eaten well, refers to 'the happy taughtness' of his jacket, and remarks, 'I do think that Dusky Bay, for a Set of Hungry fellows after a long passage at Sea is as good as any place I've ever yet met with'. Though the interior consisted of masses of mountains, such plenty of timber, such means of recruitment for weary seamen, such safe anchorage in every wind, argued that, remote as New Zealand might be from the trade and commerce of the old world, Dusky might yet have a great part to play as a centre of that world's shipping, and Cook was very particular in his sailing directions for entering and leaving the harbour. Though commercial eminence was never in fact to come to this lonely spot, such directions made easy the temporary resort of sealers and the carnage they brought upon the southern coast. Before leaving Pickersgill Harbour, seeds were strewn in the clearings and geese were liberated in Goose Cove—both measures in vain, for the south was not thus to receive immigrants. Cook determined to quit the sound through an opening north of that by which he had entered, and though the ship left its anchorage on 29 April, it was not till 11 May that it emerged between Resolution Island and the mainland, from what is now called Breaksea Sound. Light and variable winds, some calms and some squalls, 'with Hail, Rain, Snow, Thunder and Lightning' (so notes down Pickersgill) and the caution observed in taking careful soundings ahead, amply accounted for the intervening days; which, however, were otherwise filled with surveys and with expeditions to replenish the store of fresh food.
Once free of Dusky Bay, the Resolution made a good passage to Ship Cove, the only excitement rising from some rather dangerous waterspouts off Cape Stephens. On 18 May, the Adventure was found settling down into winter quarters. This was not Cook's way; the ship was refitted for sea, and on 7 June both vessels were steering east through the Strait in quest of the continent. No continent was encountered, and after some weeks recruiting at the Society Islands, a southern course was set which resulted in the discovery of two of the smaller Cook islands and the rediscovery of Tonga. The coast of New Zealand near Table Cape was sighted on 21 October, and on the 24th the ships were off Cook Strait. Heavy squalls had given way to a furious gale which now raged for a week, in page 65which the Adventure parted company for the second time and finally, while the Resolution was blown out to sea and as far south as the Lookers On. About noon on 2 November Cook, once more in the Strait and close to the Aeheinomouwe shore, was off a bay east of Terawhiti, within sight of a promising harbour. Into this he proposed to go. At the entrance tide and wind were against him, and he anchored a mile from the outermost of a reef of black rocks. Natives came out to sell crayfish and Cook added poultry to the livestock of the country, but in the middle of the afternoon a southerly gale came up, the nature of the harbour was unknown, and he thought it best to run for Queen Charlotte's Sound. Port Nicholson, the harbour of the city of Wellington, which he had thus discovered, he was never to enter. At the end of three weeks there was still no sign of Furneaux, and on 25 November Cook sailed again, for the Antarctic, firing guns as he coasted the northern shore of the Strait from Terawhiti to Cape Palliser. He had noticed the island of Mana; he noticed, also, the westward inclination of Wellington harbour. Six days later Furneaux arrived in the sound (he had been blown by the gale as far north as Tolaga Bay), and on 17 December, just as he was making ready to depart, there was the frightful affray at Grass Cove, or Whareunga Bay, which deprived him of ten of his best seamen, killed and eaten. Cook returned, after almost another year of remarkable exploration, in which he had demolished for ever the fancy of the southern continent, on 18 October 1774. Confused rumours of tragedy there were, though he learned that the Adventure had safely come and gone. With the native people he himself had his usual friendly relations, and he both added to and revised his knowledge. On his first visit, in 1770, he had made his attempt to reach the head of the sound, thinking it might lead into the eastern sea—the attempt which had ended in the revelation of the Strait. He had suspected that an opening on the eastern side might itself lead to the sea, and now, setting off on 5 November for another boat excursion, he heard from Maoris that though the sound itself terminated in a bay backed up by high hills, this opening did indeed provide an outlet. It was Tory Channel. He followed it down to the entrance to the Strait, across which he could see the hills of Aeheinomouwe; it was well populated, but time page 66prevented him from visiting a large pa near the entrance, and he returned late to the ship. Of the need of revision he was convinced by William Wales, the astronomer on board the Resolution, whose careful observations revealed that Ship Cove, and indeed the whole of Tovy Poenammu, had been charted on the first voyage 40' too far to the east, and Aeheinomouwe similarly about 30'.1
Cook left Queen Charlotte's Sound for the fourth time on 10 November. He returned for a fifth visit on 12 February 1777 and remained a fortnight; but this last voyage contributed nothing to the discovery of New Zealand. The discoverer was bound for the northern hemisphere, and for his death.
It was time that he should come to harbour—in the previous two months no fewer than sixty men had died, and the rest were so enfeebled by scurvy that they could hardly handle the boats. The natives, after a preliminary show of hostility, page 68displayed much friendship, and the chief acquired some very desirable presents; each day the sick were sent ashore, and the greenstuff and fresh water made an immediate improvement in their condition. Surville indeed, it seems, might have stayed indefinitely, had he observed as much prudence in dealing with men as he did skill in managing his ship. But he had been denied the gift of wisdom. On 27 December the wind changed, harrying Cook at sea and Surville in harbour, and next morning in a hurricane a cable parted and the ship began to drift. Surville was forced to make sail, sacrificing his other cables and anchors, and saved the ship only within twenty yards of a line of rocks, on which the sea broke frighteningly. Not till the afternoon was she once more secure, with the loss of a sunken dinghy. Meanwhile, on the same day, three boats had gone to the head of the bay, and only two of them had been able to return. The third had been in the most extreme danger from rocks and breakers, but its thirty-three sick men had been well treated by the Maoris, who had returned to the ship early on the 29th. On the morning of the 31st the natives were seen dragging into the bush the dinghy which had been sunk, and Surville took an armed party on shore to rescue it. He did not succeed, but in an access of annoyance at what he regarded as naked theft he burnt canoes, huts and fishing nets and seized a chief—who had given food and shelter to the imperilled boat's crew—took him on board and placed him in irons. It was an insensate policy; the ship was in desperate need with its depleted and insufficiently recruited company and lack of fresh stores, its battered rigging, and its loss of anchors and cables—there was only one heavy anchor left; and now the natives had been thoroughly alienated. But where else to go? The New Zealand coast seemed far too much exposed to storms; and the result of a council was the resolve to make for Peru, 1,800 leagues away. At night the Saint Jean Baptiste got out of the bay and early next morning the land was lost to sight. The captive died miserably at sea; his captor was drowned off the Peruvian harbour of Chilca, while attempting to make the shore in a small boat, on 8 April 1770.
Marion du Fresne came next to the northern coast in the succession of discoverers: a Frenchman, like Surville, and like him imprudent, but in a different way—it was a rash excess of trust that trapped Marion. The children of nature were very dirty (thought the French), they were charming, ingenious, childlike, dignified; they were also—and it was unwise to forget the fact—savages. Marion did not deserve his fate; adventurer he was, but also a man of wealth and a willing servant of science. The Chevalier de Bougainville had brought to France a native of Tahiti, who after some experience of Paris, and of the diversions of civilized man, was sent to Mauritius, on one stage of his journey home. Marion offered to return him to Tahiti, in the course of an ambitious voyage of discovery; and in addition to providing his own vessel, the Mascarin, was allowed to hire a royal supply-ship, the Marquis de Castries. The Tahitian died at Madagascar, but Marion, early in 1772, pressed forward on his voyage following the route of Tasman. The results of Cook's first voyage had not yet been published; Marion, it seems, knew nothing of Surville, and had for his guide only Tasman's charts and the published abstract of Tasman's journal.
1 Chevalier Cove has been identified as Brodie's Beach, just inside Knuckle Point; Refuge Cove 'as the cove on the west side of the abandoned pa of Rangia-whea, and Salvation Cove as the one on the south side of the old pa.'—McNab, From Tasman to Marsden, p. 45.
Coming in with the land again, some days were spent in contrary winds off the Three Kings, where fires and natives were seen, but it was impossible to land; and on 13 April a fine bay was sighted on the 'mainland'. This was probably Spirits Bay; into it, on the 15th, and into a cove a little to the north, a boat was sent to search for water; and here, the following day, the ships cast anchor. The North Cape was called by Marion Cape Eolus: certainly it had good store of winds. There was a little stream in the bay, none too fresh. Before long a tempest was again blowing. The ships, dragging their anchors, were in danger from the rocks off the eastern point of the bay, so that they were forced to get under sail, the Marquis de Castries cutting her cables in the crisis. For a week they tacked about in bad weather, Marion being reluctant to leave five anchors behind him, and on the 26th they were back again, after visiting the second cove—Tom Bowling Bay—and making contact with some friendly savages there. The Mascarin's anchors, being buoyed, were regained, those of the Marquis de Castries, unbuoyed, were sought in vain; and meanwhile the country and the people were examined with interest. Finally abandoning the lost anchors, on the 27th Marion set sail, doubled Cap éole, and on 1 May passed the headland Cook had called Cape Brett and Marion named Square Cape. A great opening was in sight, two armed boats were sent off to reconnoitre, canoes with a crowd of people came alongside, and two chiefs were entertained to dinner. These men were familiar with muskets; evidently Marion had been preceded here at some time by other Europeans. It was a fine bay, as safe, page 71thought the French, as it was beautiful, and Marion decided to enter. He did so on 4 May, the Marquis de Castries very narrowly missing a rock and ending her career forthwith. The ships did not leave this bay—the Bay of Islands—till 13 July; they left with many interesting observations and with a chart; but they left without Marion.
For a few days they were anchored in the harbour called Port Marion, after which, on 11 May, they moved to a spot off one of the largest islands in the bay, Marion Island or Motu-rua, where a camp was pitched for the large number of sick. Up an inlet on the south side of the bay a working party placed another camp, among great trees from which it was to cut out masts. For five weeks the natives, though thievish, manifested great friendliness, and there was full opportunity to observe their customs and the nature of the country. Marion was the object of what he deemed royal honours, and when his officers, their suspicion aroused by rather too pointed attentions, warned him to take care, he rejected all remonstrances. 'How can you expect me to have a bad opinion of a people who show me so much friendship?' he exclaimed.—'As I do only good to them, assuredly they will do me no evil.' Fatal confidence: on 12 June they massacred him at Oraukawa Bay, with two officers and thirteen unarmed sailors, on a visit to a chief who had been among the most friendly, Tacoury or Te Kuri; early the next morning, of a boat's crew of twelve who had gone to get firewood, eleven were cut down, while the last only escaped sorely wounded, to be picked up from the water. Attacks both on the men working at the masts and on the hospital were repelled. The French took sufficiently full vengeance. The pa Marion had gone to visit was taken and fired; two other villages were burned to the ground, and about three hundred natives were shot or were drowned in trying to escape. Nothing was ever seen of the dead Frenchmen but a few of their clothes, vaingloriously paraded by the Maori, and the last bones of cannibal feasting. The kauri masts that had been cut were abandoned, a forge was set up on the Mascarin and spars improvised there; and a month after the massacre a council decided to abandon large plans and make for the Marianne Islands and Manila. A bottle was buried on Marion Island, enclosing a paper declaring the annexation of the page 72country under the name of France-Australe; next day, 13 July, the ships sailed.
We learn enough from tradition to account for this episode; petty thefts on one side, thoughtless retaliation on the other; indignities put upon proud men; unwitting but outrageous infringements of tapu, the desecration of the sacred, as the French, like so many other visitors, strode through the whole fabric of the Maori mind; the blind over-confidence of Marion.1 Bloodthirsty on either side, it showed that the New Zealanders, like Europeans, could be cruel and relentless, and established a standard for too much of the future relationship between the races. What else Marion might have done in exploration of New Zealand, or the Pacific, is not to be guessed; and the next French expedition that had contact with New Zealand, that of D'Entrecasteaux in March 1793, made no landing, though it corrected slightly Cook's position for the North Cape.
Meanwhile, the pace of scientific investigation in the Pacific was quickening. In February 1793, almost coincident with D'Entrecasteaux's visit to New Zealand waters, a Spanish expedition also was briefly on our shores. It was the expedition of two ships, the Descubierta and Altrevida, commanded by an Italian, Alessandro Malaspina; and though it was not important for original discovery, its long voyage about both the northern and the southern parts of the ocean—leaving Cadiz in the summer of 1789 and returning only in September 1794—made it the most important expedition, scientifically, in the history of Spain. Malaspina's primary aim in touching at New Zealand was to repeat at Dusky Bay 'experiments in gravity' already conducted elsewhere; and sailing down from Norfolk Island he sighted Dusky on 25 February 1793. 'A new softness in the air, longer days, and the brilliancy of the stars made these climates much more convenient for navigation than the tropics,' he wrote as he approached the land, and it was the break of an exceedingly fine day that gave him his first sight of New Zealand. Cook's description of the ruggedness of the southern coast was perfect. The day continued fine, but he could not enter Dusky. On the 25th it was more convenient to send a boat into Doubtful Harbour, to explore the possibilities of anchorage and of obtaining wood and water. All these advantages were present; the boat's crew saw a few birds, but 'not a single seal, no shell fish save a few small limpets, and not a sign, however remote, of inhabitants. ... In brief, unless chance or dire necessity bring mariners to this port, we must suppose that it is destined to be perpetually deserted, and that Dusky Bay will ever remain the port of welcome in this neighbourhood, offering as it does a more convenient, a safer, and a healthier refuge.' Yet, with all these attractions, Dusky was inaccessible to Malaspina; during the night he lost position, and next day a violent and increasing gale sprang up from the north-east, putting his two corvettes in considerable danger; while on the 27th, the gale having fallen, a favourable wind was accompanied by dense fog. He was now ninety miles from his harbour, his crew were weakened and tired, even in Dusky rain might postpone his experiments unreasonably, and as he would later be in the same latitude more than once he decided not to take the risk of entering, but to steer west to New Holland for page 75rest and refreshment. Malaspina's voyage, therefore, though interesting, was of no great importance to knowledge of the New Zealand coast, and made even less permanent impression than it deserved. The British Admiralty in 1840 published a chart of Doubtful Harbour by Don Felipe Bauza, the officer in charge of the boat which, not very adequately, explored it; but of the seven Spanish names therein bestowed, and for some time incorporated in other maps of New Zealand, only one— Nea Island—still survives. Bauza, unacquainted with Vancouver's survey, was one of those who thought that Doubtful Harbour1 might communicate with Dusky Bay.
1 I have used Cook's name consistently in my text: the modern form is of course Doubtful Sound.
1 This statement rests on the existence of a map in the Alexander Turnbull collection, probably a copy, with the legend, 'Sketch of a Strait dividing the southern Island of New Zealand with the harbours on the southernmost Island, discovered and examined by Mr O. F. Smith, an American, when searching for seals in 1804. Communicated by him to Capt. P. G. King, Govr. of N.S.W. March 1806.' It was Smith who, as master of the New York brig Aurora, gave the public the first details of Campbell and Macquarie islands.—See McNab, Murihiku (ed. 1909), pp. 174-6.
The Astrolabe sailed from Sydney on 19 December 1826. D'Urville's deliberate plan, so far as New Zealand was concerned, was to seek and explore the parts left doubtful by Cook, and he accordingly shaped a course for the Foveaux Strait region, scientifically yet unexamined, although information had been obtained concerning it in 1824. It was under happy auspices, with high hopes, he records, that he and his page 78companions now embarked on the true work of their voyage into the Pacific—hopes which, some of them, were to be deceitful. The weather in the Tasman Sea was so tempestuous that d'Urville thought it wise to abandon the most southern coast; for he had much to do, and time could not be wasted. On 8 January 1827, therefore, in latitude 43°, he turned east-northeast and two days later sighted the land about the mouth of the Grey river. 'Each of us', he writes, 'at the sight of this wild coast, these lofty peaks lashed by the furious winds of the Antarctic sea, rejoiced to have come at last, after so much fatigue, to the object of his desires, on a theatre worthy of his exertions. Proud to follow upon the tracks of Tasman, of Cook, of Marion, we aspired to add to science new information on these countries, still so little known, to study at closer hand the various kingdoms of nature, and above all to observe more scrupulously the curious customs and extraordinary institutions which here give mankind so singular a character.' With such sentiments, from the point of his landfall d'Urville sailed north, past Cape Foulwind where he named the Steeples (les Trois-Clochers), past the flooded Buller river, Rocks Point, and the mouth of the Whanganui Inlet, which he was kept from entering by the breakers on the bar. He followed the land round Cape Farewell in tranquil weather and on the morning of the 14th was off the Spit, beyond which he saw a great basin backed by mountains, the most distant ones clad with snow. A dead calm and a change of current gave him some anxiety, but a favourable breeze springing up he ran round the Spit and across 'Tasman Bay'—across, rather, Murderers' Bay, the first European to break those waters since Tasman himself.
Here d'Urville did not anchor. Cook, he thought, had made Admiralty Bay and Queen Charlotte's Sound well known, and he could best render service by investigating the southern part of Cook's Blind Bay—Tasman Bay. This part was divided from the more northern basin by the jut of land which d'Urville called Pointe de Séparation—Separation Point; and sailing slowly round the coast of Tasman Bay, anchoring at night, on the evening of 16 January he was in the bay he called Astrolabe, on the western coast, which he made his anchorage till the 21st. Already some of his men had landed on Separation Point, and people had come off to the ship from the head of the bay, and page 79now d'Urville looked forward to making real acquaintance with the country. Maori conduct was most praiseworthy; an observatory was set up, the bay charted, plants and birds collected, and d'Urville walked with admiration, with a mixture of feelings scientific and romantic, over the ridges and through the bush he describes so well. On 18 January, gazing from a hill he had laboriously climbed, he saw, not merely below him the picturesque Torrent Bay, but across Tasman Bay on the eastern side a deep opening which made him suspect a passage through to Admiralty Bay; and on the 22nd, after minor expeditions, the Astrolabe left her anchorage to explore this possibility. That night was spent in some uneasiness outside Croisilles Bay (named by d'Urville after his mother's family), in a calm and a heavy swell; next morning he steered for the opening that promised him the desired passage. Late in the afternoon the way was barred by breakers; he was forced to anchor in a dangerous position in mid-channel and spent one of the worst nights of his whole voyage. There now began a five days' struggle with wind and wave, whirlpool and current, anchors and cables, which provides a score of the most exciting pages in d'Urville's narrative. A passage there was— narrowest at the Admiralty Bay end, where a reef barely left room for the ship—and he passed it in a small boat; but to take the ship through was a matter of astonishing difficulty, and even to hold his position was one of great and recurrent danger. At last, on the fifth day and the third attempt, the Astrolabe got through. The wind failed; swung by the current, she touched twice on the reef; but the current itself carried her over, and the breeze freshening again she emerged from the whirlpools and advanced nobly, at full sail, on the calm surface of Admiralty Bay. In her wake floated fragments of her false keel. To the channel thus conquered d'Urville gave the name of Passe des Français—French Pass; to the island thus revealed he gave, at his officers' request, his own name until the native one should be known. The native name is Rangitoto; but d'Urville's name has not perished.
D'Urville sailed on into Cook Strait, past great fires on Cape Koamaru and at the entrance to Tory Channel—lit, he surmised, to attract his attention. He wished to examine Cloudy Bay, thinking it might be connected with Queen Charlotte's page 80Sound, but wind and current once again were hostile to his plan and he was driven to the east as far as Cape Campbell, on 29 January. From hence he steered for the North Island, to explore the coast west of Cape Palliser; he perceived the opening of Port Nicholson, but could not gain entrance, and anchored on the west side of Palliser Bay. Even here, though d'Urville went out in his whaleboat, the surf prevented a landing, and he confesses to lively irritation that he should have access denied him to a singularly interesting coast. He marked the futility of his efforts by calling it Useless Bay—la baie Inutile. But some canoes came out, and two natives insisted on travelling with him as far as Tolaga Bay. From them, as he sailed north, he obtained the names of the principal points on the coast. He could now for some time do no original discovery, but his meetings with the Maori had all the charm and some of the risks of adventure, because with the best intentions it remained difficult to be invariably sure of the difference between commoners and chiefs and greater chiefs, and accord to all the right degree of respect. On 5 February he was off Tolaga Bay, and the wind being from an awkward direction he entered it and occupied Cook's old anchorage. The bay, he found, was more correctly called 'Houa-Houa'—Uawa. As evening came on, the anchor began to drag, and d'Urville, fearing that a second anchor would mean the fouling of cables, made sail. He was reluctant to leave a picturesque part of the country, where the people still practised their primitive customs, hardly as yet influenced by intercourse with Europeans. So far, at a time when such feelings have become possible, have we travelled from the first voyage of Cook!
From Tolaga Bay the Astrolabe passed north to the East Cape. No sooner was she off the Cape, on 7 February, than she encountered a heavy swell, the precursor of storms, which, beginning on the 9th, lasted with but little intermission till a shattering climax a week later. Driven for three days to the north-east, by the 13th d'Urville was back at the Cape, and tempted to give up his careful examination of the coast and to make as soon as possible direct for the Bay of Islands. With a more favourable wind, he pushed on into the Bay of Plenty, between Motuhora or Whale Island and the mainland, anxious, but unable, to rectify Cook's chart where he found it defective. page 81The morning of 16 February dawned with a thick fog, a furious sea and a tempest from the north-east growing every minute in violence—'a frightful disorder of nature', says d'Urville, which reduced him to complete ignorance of his position, aware only that he was in danger from every side. A few minutes before noon the fog lifted and his eyes rested on a reef, no more than a mile away, directly in the course of the ship; to one side was a second reef. He sheered off one danger into another; at the risk of capsizing the ship under a sudden press of canvas— she had been carrying hardly any—he clapped on every sail. The corvette heeled horribly, her gunwale under water and her keel visible as she hung on the precipitous slope of a wave; but she met the test finely. 'At midday precisely' she had doubled the reef; and d'Urville, drawing breath, was even able to admire the vast cascade of water as the waves flung themselves on the line of rocks, and the sheet of blinding spray which rose forty or fifty feet in the air. The fog had lifted barely in time; shortly afterwards he recognized Mayor Island to the northwest, and with the wind and sea falling sensibly, he made all sail possible northward away from further peril. He was not, it was evident, to be allowed to add materially to knowledge of the Bay of Plenty; nor could he even fix accurately the position of the reef that had so nearly proved fatal, a reef to which—Écueils de l'Astrolabe—he gave the name of his ship.1
1 Commander Drury later named Astrolabe Rock, 4 miles from the north end of Motiti island. 'This rock is in such a very different position from that assigned to the Astrolabe reef,' he wrote, 'that were we not convinced that no rocks exist in the position of the Astrolabe, I should have hesitated to give it this name,'—New Zealand Pilot (1856), p. 87, n.
1 As a matter of fact, Cook generally put a native name on a chart when he could.
D'Urville sailed down the gulf almost as far as the Thames before changing his direction north close along the Coromandel side, and so, on 2 March, between the Great and the Little Barrier. He aimed to get final refreshment, ere he left the coast of New Zealand, at the Bay of Islands; but, good Frenchman as he was, he was anxious to reach the North Cape, so that his chart might meet the limit of the land gazed upon by his countryman D'Entrecasteaux. This he did, without further adventure ashore, and on 12 March he entered the Bay. It was a harbour that he knew; he was met by an old friend, the missionary Henry Williams, and while his sailors were at work or amusement after their own kind, d'Urville pursued his researches into native life or visited the great groves of kauri and kahikatea. Cabbages and turnips grew where Marion had set up his hospital, on the island of 'Motou-Doua'; of that tragedy there remained in the Bay only a tendency to blame it on to the people of Whangaroa, and for the tribe of Marion all was now peace. At last, on 18 March, the women who had taken up their residence in the ship were prevailed upon to go, not without tears, and the Astrolabe set sail for the islands of more tropical seas, for Tonga and Fiji, for New Guinea and the East Indies. Her work on the coast of New Zealand had been arduous and more than once menaced with disaster; but it had, reflected d'Urville, been of no little merit. A great part of the coast had been laid down in the greatest detail, and in the most scrupulous manner. 'Henceforth geography will not be able to discuss these great islands of the south without recalling the labours and discoveries of the Astrolabe. What perils, what privations are those that such a result does not commit to oblivion?'
There was still work to do, and work arduous enough, in the addition of precise knowledge to what was already, with relative fullness, known of the New Zealand coast. D'Urville himself paid a third visit to the country in 1840, sailing up the eastern side of the South Island and visiting Otago and Akaroa before becoming a somewhat censorious witness of British activities page 84at the Bay of Islands. The glory had departed—whalers and traders had debased the free and noble savages of the past to impudence and mendicancy. Such men, indeed, could still play some part in discovery. It was a whaler, John Guard, famous in his day, who in September 1838 piloted the naval vessel Pelorus into a 'river' between Queen Charlotte's Sound and Admiralty Bay, where his own ship had once sheltered from a gale of wind; and so enabled Lieutenant Chetwode to explore the inlet which he called Pelorus Sound. But the close of the third decade of the century may be said to mark a period. By then, accident, or the odd visitor, like the comprehensive voyage round the world, could contribute little to the geography of our country—the time had come for the detailed surveys which Stokes of the Acheron and Drury of the Pandora carried out between 1848 and 1855, the permanent basis of the Admiralty charts of our country. In 1856 the Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty published the first edition of the New Zealand Pilot.
Thus was New Zealand discovered to the world; and revealed, lay waiting for what history might enact behind its shores. Rock-founded in the far ocean, on the perimeter of things, yet, as western man stretched out his eager arms, it came within his reach and in his inevitable power. For it is of the nature of man ever to wander and to take. As from Hawaiki, that ancient homeland, Kupe, Whatonga and Toi had sailed, and the Maori, driven by war to seek elsewhere his bread, had gone down to the sea and found safety on the stern breast of Kiwa; so had other men, for trade, for curiosity, for the means of living, embraced that dangerous goddess. And while discovery was still pressed onward, trade had begun to return its profit, not from gold and silver, but from the seal and the whale, the flax and the timber of a savage land; before curiosity had made all her own, settlement, a new fashion of life, new desires and affections, a new polity, had begun to widen their swift influence. No way of life is stable; only the land is stable, within our brief sight, for men to find and find again. So with New Zealand. Tasman, Cook, Marion, d'Urville—the roll of its discoverers was not ignoble, and it might be that a not ignoble destiny waited for those narrow islands in the vast Pacific, so remote, so interesting to the philosopher and the page 85student of mankind. M. Dumont d'Urville at least, the intellectual among their number, prone to romantic speculation, romantic perhaps even in his devotion to science, to whose heart sprang the memory of his immortal predecessors and to whose lips the words of Roman poets—M. d'Urville was not reluctant to prophesy. There would come a day, he affirmed, as such a day had come to Gauls and Britons, when savages would rise to civilization and empire. 'Then these shores, desert or peopled only by isolated pas, will exhibit flourishing cities; these silent bays, traversed now by infrequent frail canoes, will be furrowed by ships of every size. And in a few centuries, if the printing-press were not henceforth to maintain by its indestructible agency the facts and the discoveries of our modern time, future academicians of New Zealand would not fail to cast in doubt, or at least laboriously to discuss, the narratives of the first navigators—reading therein of the waste spaces, the barbarians of their fatherland, and of the total absence in this country of all animals useful to mankind.'
Such the elegant disquisition of philosophy; yet philosophy, it may be, might take an even wider sweep of vision and brood thereon, looking in the course of mortality beyond cities and ships and academies, beyond the life of men to a more infinite future—to where, millennia blotted out, all in the past is one and gone, and over a land restored to itself hangs a sky unseen of human kind, supported by peaks whose whiteness dazzles no eye; where the green bush once more advances to the sea and giant trees pillar the obscurity of their own leaves; where thunderous waves break forever on a long and untrodden shore; a land of unheard musical torrents, of bays and sounds returned to quietude, reflecting only the shape of their own hills, the colour of blossom ageless and unnamed, the stars by which no navigators sail.