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Historical Records of New Zealand

W. N. Chapman to Mrs. Chapman

W. N. Chapman to Mrs. Chapman.

[This document does not appear in the “Historical Records of New South Wales,“ but is obtained from His Honour Mr. Justice F. R. Chapman, in whose possession is the original letter. Mr. William Neate Chapman, when a midshipman in the Royal Navy, was appointed Secretary to Governor King, and accompanied him to Sydney and thence to Norfolk Island in 1791. He subsequently held a similar position under Governor King in New South Wales. He was uncle to the late Mr. Justice H. S. Chapman, and great uncle to the present Judge.—The Editor.]

Norfolk Island, November 19th, 1793.

Honoured Mother,—

I am this moment come on shore from the “Britannia“ from a cruise to New Zealand, and a pleasant one it has been. We sailed from Norfolk Island on the 8th, and arrived off the North Cape of New Zealand on the 12th instant, and had got pretty close in shore by four o’clock in the afternoon, when five canoes came off to us; the least, I am sure, measured upwards of forty feet and the longest about sixty feet. They had from thirty to forty natives in each. As soon as they saw Tooke (Tuki) and Woodoo (Huru), they came on board without any reluctance and began a very fair and honest traffic. About five page 186 o’clock two more canoes came off. There were several etangitedas (rangatiras) or chiefs amongst them, most of whom were known to Tooke; there was also a woman, who proved to be Tooke’s sister-in-law. We all saluted her, and there was a very moving scene betwixt her and her brother-in-law. About seven o’clock they all left us until eight, when there was one canoe came on board with four men in her. The chief of them sold the canoe to Captain Raven and staid with us all night and slept aboard. In the morning eight canoes came off to us; on board of one of them was a chief of the name of Kotokake. As soon as Tooke and Woodoo saw him they said, as there was not wind enough to carry us to their own district, they would go on shore with the chief, of which Governor King was very glad, as he did not wish to detain the ship as she was bound to Calcutta to fetch provisions for the Colony. About nine o’clock, everything being settled, they took their farewell of us. They cryed terribly and every body on board was very much affected at the parting, particularly the Governor, who said he never, parted with his mother with more regret than he did with those two men. They are the finest set of men I ever beheld; the shortest we saw was at least 5 ft. 10 in., and very strong and muscular. The women are small but have very pleasing countenances. I have heard it remarked that the women of most countrys have the greatest flow of spirits—much greater than the male sex—and I assure you it is the case in New Zealand. We had, at one time, not less than 150 natives on board together, and just as they were going to leave the ship they gave us a dance. I never heard such a noise, or saw such ugly faces as they made, in my life in any country. So soon as they were gone, we stood back for Norfolk Island, but before we had got three miles from where they left us we fell in with a school of black fish, which is a sort of whale. The captain hoisted out his whaleboat, and the mate (Mr. Malon) went out and struck one, and afterwards brought it alongside. We took out the heart and kidneys and then set it adrift. We have had very fine weather all the time. Yesterday we made Norfolk Island, when everybody belonging on shore landed but me. I landed this morning, and the ship sails tomorrow noon.

I remain, dear Mother,

Your affectionate and dutiful Son,

W. N. Chapman

Mrs. Chapman

P.S.—Mrs. King has informed me that she has wrote you all the news of the island since our departure, and, as I have but little time, you will, I hope, excuse it from me.