Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Befriended in His Youth
Befriended in His Youth
Burns is described as a native of Liverpool, where he was born in 1807, and as “a smart, active man, naturally quick and intelligent, who has received a plain education and who conducts himself in a very becoming manner.” He went to sea as a cabin boy when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, but left his ship in the West Indies, where he entered the service of Lewis Lecesne, a rich merchant of colour. Lecesne was severely persecuted by the planters in Jamaica, and, with a Mr. Escoffery, was banished by the House of Assembly in 1824 for displaying a keen interest in a movement aimed at securing improved conditions for the slaves. When Lecesne settled in London, Burns followed him there. Acting as a father to him, Lecesne placed him in the Lancastrian School in London, “where he quickly rose to the highest classes.” In 1827, Burns again went to sea. Morgan's outline of his subsequent career follows that given in the Burns booklet, excepting, in particular, that no reference is made to the Siege of Kekeparaoa.
Uawa (spelt “Youkawa”) is described by Morgan, on behalf of Burns, as a very valuable and very beautiful part of New Zealand. It is covered, it is stated, “with most fertile savannahs and with valleys which are clothed in the richest verdure, and through which run rivers of most excellent water, and where timber and flax of the first quality and in great abundance may be procured mainly for the trouble of collecting them.” Burns, it is added, had left at Youkawa his wife and two fine children [Hori had been born since], beside valuable property in spars, flax, etc. to a large amount. He was known in New Zealand as “Ahordi” or “E'Hori” (George), “from the name of our late revered sovereign, which name is much respected by the natives, who call the English ‘George's race,’ believing us to live in tribes like theirs, and that George is the principal chief.” Living as a chief, and being tattooed, Burns had great advantages, great power and great privileges which he could not otherwise have possessed.page break
Bishop W. Williams.
First Anglican Missionary in Poverty Bay (1840).
Rev. C. Baker and Mrs. Baker.
Opened mission station at Tolaga Bay (1843).
According to Morgan, Burns had the sole control of the eastern side of the North Island from East Cape to Cook Strait. He described it as little known to Europeans, “as the few captains who traded there made it their study, through a spirit of avarice and jealousy, to prevent, as much as possible, all communication with strangers, and had been frequently known to throw overboard letters entrusted to them which Burns and others had written to merchants in other parts, and, by this means, contrive to monopolize the valuable trade there to themselves.” Burns told Morgan that, at Uawa, he had sold to Captain Lambert, of H.M.S. Alligator  a canoe, which had his own likeness curiously engraved by the natives upon the figurehead. This canoe, he believed, had been presented to the King. Whilst in England, he particularly desired to be introduced to the notice of His Majesty, as the first question which the natives were sure to ask upon his return would be whether he had seen him.