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Historical Records of New Zealand

[British Museum. [Newspaper Extract.—Glasgow Herald, July 18th, 1825.] South Seas. (From the Missionary Chronicle for July.)

[British Museum. [Newspaper Extract.—Glasgow Herald, July 18th, 1825.] South Seas. (From the Missionary Chronicle for July.)

Extract of a Letter from Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, Deputation from the Society to the South Sea Islands, &c., containing a Narrative of their Voyage from the Islands to the Colony of New South Wales, dated Sydney, 12th Nov., 1824, addressed to the Secretary

We left Bartonga on the evening of the 19th, and having completed our work in these seas, we stood for New Zealand. We had to encounter the most tempestuous and distressing weather and adverse winds; and did not make New Zealand till the 9th of July, off the Bay of Islands, into which we hoped to enter next morning; but a heavy gale blowing from that bay rendered it impossible to reach it, and the captain resolved to abandon the hope of reaching the shore, and to proceed on his voyage for the colony; but here the winds opposed us again, and after beating about off the northern extremity of that country for nearly a week, and finding we could make no head against contrary winds, and becoming short of water, fire-wood, vegetables, &c., we determined to put into some port in New Zealand, and reach the Harbour of Whangarooa on the 15th, where we came to an anchor with the intention of spending a week or ten days there. At the head of this beautiful and capacious bay the Wesleyans have established a mission, about twelve miles from the entrance of the harbour. Not knowing the perils which awaited us, we were apprehensive of no danger; having no means of defence, we took no precautions to guard against any attack. So soon as we came to an anchor several canoes came round, many natives came on board, and all behaved well, and left us at the setting of the sun. Early next page 641 morning a considerable number of canoes of great size, and containing multitudes of people surrounded us. Soon our main deck was crowded by men, women, and children, bringing with them various articles for sale; and we were busy buying their curiosities, &c., when a scene of almost unparalleled horror immediately occurred. The captain had been informed that they were stealing whatever they could reach, and had broken open a trunk of clothes, and had taken most of them off; he became indignant, and resolved to remove them all from the deck. In the confusion a native fell overboard into the sea, and the rest, supposing that he had been struck and injured, immediately fell upon us. Many of them had axes, and the rest armed themselves with billets of firewood; the whole were armed in a few seconds; the women and children were removed into the canoes, into which many of their men threw their mats, prepared for action, and commenced their war-songs, accompanying them with all their horrid gesticulations and grimaces. Their faces, rendered hideous by their totooings, became by anger more hideous, and the whole had more the appearance of infernals than men. Our crew fled to the rigging, while we waited our doom on the quarter-deck. They surrounded us, placing themselves behind us, with their weapons uplifted, ready, as soon as the signal was made, to strike; and we expected nothing else but to be killed, baked in their ovens, and eaten by these dreadful cannibals. They handled our persons, to see what sort of food we should be for them, and behaved in the most rude and insolent manner. At one moment the captain had four spears pointed at his breast. We used every effort to hide our fears, and prevent them from perceiving that we were apprehensive of danger. But this was impossible, for we were entirely in their hands. What aggravated our misery and apprehension was the recollection that the ship Boyd, Capt. Thompson, about fifteen years before, and in this very place where we were at anchor, had been cut off, the captain, crew, and passengers (in all nearly 100 persons) killed and eaten. The wreck of the vessel was within our view; but we cried to the Lord in our distress, and He heard and delivered us. They were restrained by an invisible hand, while we remained in this condition of indescribable horror for about an hour and a half. At length our boat, which had been sent up to the missionary settlement the night before, hove in sight at the distance of about a mile. This threw a ray of hope over our desponding minds; and we waited its arrival with the greatest anxiety, but expected to be despatched before it could possibly reach us. But God was better than our fears. At length the boat came alongside, and we found to out inexpressible joy that she had brought page 642 Mr. White, one of the missionaries, and George, a native chief of great power and influence here. It was the very chief who instigated the cutting off the Boyd, but he was sent by a kind Providence to be our deliverer. They immediately came on deck. So soon as they had learnt what had happened Mr. White addressed the people, and George became highly indignant with them, and spoke to them with great vehemence on the evil of their conduct. He soon cleared the deck; the people fled to their canoes, and a good understanding was restored.…A few days ago a vessel arrived in this colony whose captain, with a boat’s crew of six men, in another part of New Zealand, had been cut off and killed soon after the affair happened in Whangarooa which we have described. It is but just to say that we do not believe the people had any bad designs when they came on board, and that what happened arose from the accident of the man’s having fallen overboard. By various presents we succeeded in detaining this chief on board the vessel so long as we remained in the harbour, as the only means of her safety.