The New Zealand Survey
It may well be said that Land; Wonder; Perception; Imagination; Past; New Zealand Flora and FaunaNew Zealand is the land for scenery; such that contains a vast amount of grandeur and picturesque beauty; not only so, but it also contains much that prompts enquiring wonder, when first is seen its lofty ridges covered with evergreen forests, and its deep ravines from which issue its many purling brooks, all beckoning and inviting the reflective mind to go far into the past of time, there to witness scenic phenomina which language almost fails to describe. But when we ascend a hill, which seems by some fortuitous cause to have been unproductive of trees, although New Zealand Flora and Faunaclad with various kinds of fragrant shrubs, and other flowering plants of native yield and beauties; Land; Work; Wonderfrom such a height to overlook an extensive valley filled with one dense mass of forest, the mind is filled with awe to contemplate the amount of labour required before such can be subdued; but again Perception; Wonder; Joylifting the eye towards the opposite horizon and seeing forest-clad hills overtopping others, and beyond these the snow crested summits of a loftier range rising before an azure sky, the mind begins to feel as overwhelmed in a sort of inexpressible delight. And again Land; Perceptionto look across an extensive tract of country—extensive when compared to the valleys which run in among the hills—like that of the Wairarapa, where level plains extend far away like a bowling green, skirted here and there with belts of forests; while through openings far beyond, the assisted vision may discover other districts lying in a state of wildness. At such a view a loneliness is apt to seize upon the spirits while musing on such solitudes in all their pristine wildness! At another time, Perception; Wonder; Liberty; Joy; Sadnessafter a sojourn among the valleys, where the eye is circumscribed to narrow limits; then coming into such an open space where the eye can find an abundant scope for its roving page break disposition, then feelings of ecstasy arise, banishing former overhanging glooms from the mind, yea the soul would seem to exult in unbounded freedom and revel amid natural pleasures without end. Such is but an imperfect description of first impressions, or of Perception; Naturethose feelings which are apt to preside in the breast of the admirer of Nature’s loveliness, as seen in her pristine solitudes. But again Work; Change; Nature; Science; Technologywith no small interest too can we regard the approach of Enterprize and Industry, each, as with bridegroom integrity, come to divest Nature of those solitary weeds in which she has long been arrayed, in order to deck her with the garb of art, thereby adding fresh beauties to her native comeliness! Colony; Civilisation; Past; WorkThe hardy settler, under whose guidance such civilizing influences are introduced, displays a courage and energy more worthy the world’s esteem than all the exploits of Knights errant in the semi-barbaric ages of yore. Colony; Civilisation; Nature; Māori; Friendship; PeaceThe humble emigrant, as well as him of larger means, who leaves the refinements of an old yet increasingly civilized mode of being, and departing for other scenes and trials of which he can have no just conception, though inspired with a hope of doing well, even such may well be regarded as “Knights exemplar” in respect to the work in which they engage, such as conquering not only the wildness of nature, but also in subduing the savageness of fellow beings run wild, while introducing civilization into their habits and their homes; thus paving the way for the expected approach of universal peace and brotherly affection. Change; Religion; PeaceSuch “Knights exemplar” are, as it were, bringing up the rear of the human race, who have fallen far behind in the general march of improvement, that they too at the grand review may be present, and so be included as fellow-sharers in the approval of the “Supreme Inspector,” and also be united with their more privileged brethren in the bonds of Peace! In this, may not the finger of Providence be seen guiding to the desired end!
In regard to the leading poem, “New Zealand Survey,” it was while assisting in the survey of the Mungaroa Swamp, and at first when passing over the hills that divide it from the Upper Hutt Valley, and sitting down to rest and ease me a little of the page break load I carried; Poetrywhile thus reclined enjoying the mountain view I involuntarily repeated some of the first lines of the poem as an ejaculation, as I contemplated the scene that lay before me; nor could I resist the force of a flood of ideas, so to speak, rushing upon me, compeling me to clothe them in words during my leisure hours, after the toils of the day, as I lay in an old native shed in a corner of the swamp, during the month of April, 1865. In regard to the other poems, Friendship; Poetryseveral of them were written previous to the one referred to above, and some of them after, merely to set my thoughts on the outside of my head, in order to keep peace within; and occupy an evening hour which might have been worse employed, had I not such an inclination or faculty for scribling;—may this meet the approval of friends.
PoetryHaving often been asked at one time and another by several who have seen my former efforts at “New Zealand literature,” when do I intend to publish again? it is in answer to the oft repeated question I have thus stept forward at your service as an humble minstrel, willing to do my best to make the world the better or the wiser for my being in it. And now Poetrylet me tender my thanks to my numerous subscribers—those on whom I have waited, for the cordial reception I have generally met with, and others who have sent from a distance to have their names appended to the list, for the encouragement I have received, enabling me thus far to proceed, hoping a mutual gratification may obtain with the patrons of the muse. Having thus far delivered my preface, with my best bow of acknowledgments to subscribers allow me now to leave the work in your hands, while subscribing myself your obedient servant,
THE AUTHORMountain Home, Hutt
January 21, 1867