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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 2 (May 1, 1940.)

A Deal in Pigs

A Deal in Pigs.

A week later in Otorohanga kainga. The date was the 27th of June, 1882. In a thatched house, close to the Waipa River, the old-style whare of ferntree trunks and thickly padded raupo walls and roof, some five or six Maoris reposed comforably about the fire in the middle of the earth floor. Barlow and his Ngati-Maniapoto wife were there; Winiata, the pig breeder, was there. The wanted man who had not dared to cross the Puniu since he splashed through the waters of sanctuary six years before, was closing a bargain in pork on the hoof for the Alexandra butcher. He engaged to deliver the pigs next day, and Barlow said he had arranged with two lads to help him take them down the Waipa by canoe to Alexandra.

The half-caste paid over the price of the porkers to the well-satisfied vendor. He opened a flax basket, his travelling bag and took out a bottle of whisky. “Now,” he said, “my friend, we have made our bargain; let us sweeten it with a drink.”

He opened the bottle, and his wife produced two tin pannikins. He poured a Maori nip—half a pannikinfull-for Winiata, and a like tot for the others. The two pannikins went round, and after all had swallowed their waipiro neat, he took a very small dose himself. His moderation passed unnoticed. The group became happily noisy after another round.

Barlow studied his unsuspecting prospective prisoner closely. He saw that Winiata's customary watchful suspicious air was somewhat relaxed. The Maori was still a young man, but there was grey in his black hair. His life had been one of anxiety and danger ever since he sank his axeblade into his sleeping fellow-worker's head. Barlow wondered whether he carried a concealed weapon. He saw the Maori now and again put his hand to his breast, as if from unconscious habit, feeling for the comforting butt of a revolver. “He is armed,” thought Barlow, “but I'll get him.”

The bottle of whisky was soon empty. The strong liquor and the heat of the fire sent the little company into a pleasantly somnolent condition. Winiata and his friends would soon be happily blind to events; then would be the moment for the drugged drink.

Winiata, half dozing, asked for more waipiro. Barlow brought out the rum containing Sloane's opiate. He served out a half-pannikin all round.

“Good, good!” said Winiata. “How sweet it is! How cheering to the heart! More, give me more.”

His voice died away; his head sank on his chest; presently he dropped down on his blankets, breathing stertorously, in a drunken sleep that would last well into next morning.

(Rly. Publicity photo.) A view of Russell, Bay of Islands, from the hill behind the town. Historie Waitangi lies in the centre background across the bay.

(Rly. Publicity photo.)
A view of Russell, Bay of Islands, from the hill behind the town. Historie Waitangi lies in the centre background across the bay.

His companions, too, dropped off.