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Historical Records of New Zealand

Missionaries’ Replies to Mr. Bigge’s Queries

Missionaries’ Replies to Mr. Bigge’s Queries.

Questions. Answers.
1. What is the number of European inhabitants settled in New Zealand? 1. Fifty-two men, women, and children.page 442
2. Are they settled in various places and districts, or do they reside entirely at the Bay of Islands? 2. At the Bay of Islands.
3. What is the number of native inhabitants that have been converted to Christianity, and what is the disposition that they have manifested towards the profession of the Christian faith? 3. None can strictly be said to be converted to Christianity, but they have shown no aversion to our religion.
4. What system of religious instruction has been adopted by the missionaries in converting the natives? 4. The missionary settlers have explained to the natives as opportunity has offered the principal truths of Christianity, some catechisms and prayers and a spelling-book have also been sent to the Society which are written in the native language for their benefit when printed and returned.
5. What other instruction do they afford to the natives in language or in morals? And what capacity do they show to acquire the former and observe the latter? 5. Several natives have been taught to read the alphabet, some to read short easy words, and others to write. Their capacity to acquire instruction is very great either in their own or in the English language, and we endeavour to point out the ends attending any part of their immoral conduct as it affects the general welfare of society. As they generally admit the justice of our observations, we hope their moral conduct will improve in time, particularly when they attain to the knowledge of Divine revelation.
6. What are the principal moral defects, and what are the crimes most common amongst them? 6. The moral defects of the natives are few. They are not void of natural affection, gratitude, and generosity and making due allowance for their situation as heathen, they are a wise and understanding people. The crimes most common among them are theft, covetousness, and adultery. The two former may be accounted for partly from their extreme poverty, and partly from their own natural depravity. They are also very lascivious. Polygamy is universally allowed. Some of the chiefs have eight or ten wives. Murder, or, as the New Zealanders define the crime, “the killing a man without any just cause or provocation to do so,“ is very rarely committed. There have been only fivepage 443
natives killed at the Bay of Islands during the past five years. Three of these were put to death for theft, and two innocent female victims were sacrificed as a satisfaction to the manes of a departed chief. When any individual or a tribe have sustained an injury they immediately appeal to arms for satisfaction, as they have no other way of obtaining the ends of justice, and in such cases they may carry their resentment further than a civilised nation would do. The eating of human flesh originated from a superstitious custom, and is considered a virtue rather than a crime. Unnatural crimes we have never heard of, nor do we know that they have any name for them.
7. Have they acquired much skill in the use of gunpowder and firearms, and do the European and other ships that frequent the coasts of New Zealand furnish these and other warlike instruments in exchange for wood and the productions of the soil? 7. They have acquired much skill in the use of gunpowder and firearms, and obtain them and other warlike instruments from the European and other ships that frequent the coast in exchange for wood and the productions of the soil.
8. Has the use of fire-arms stimulated the natural ferocity of their dispositions in the wars which they wage with each other, and would it be desirable to prevent the introduction of firearms by British ships engaged in the Southern Whale Fishery by heavy penalties and loss of the bounties now paid to them by the British Government? 8. This is a question of such importance and involving so many considerations both of a political and commercial nature that we do not feel ourselves at present competent judges to answer it. We are of opinion, however, that the use of a musket in battle has not such a tendency to destroy any civil feeling that may be inspired in the mind of a native as the use of a savage weapon.
9. What progress have the natives made in agriculture, and have they acquired any skill in the use of the agricultural instruments introduced by the missionaries? 9. The natives have made great progress in agriculture, and have acquired much skill in the use of agricultural instruments, such as hoes, spades, &c. More than ten times the quantity of land is now in cultivation than we observed when we first landed on the island.
10. Is the use of European grain and vegetables known to them? 10. It is.
11. What is the quantity of cattle, horses, and sheep possessed by the missionaries at present in New Zealand, 11. There are twenty-five head of horned cattle and six sheep on the island. The natives have only threepage 444
and have the natives become possessed of them shown a disposition to use or value them? head. Those chiefs who have seen the cattle and horses working in New South Wales are very anxious to obtain both and the means of working them.
12. Have the natives of New Zealand any manufactures of their own, and is the climate sufficiently severe to make the use of the coarsest sort of woolen manufactures or cloathing desirable to them? 12. The manufactures of the natives are chiefly mats; woolen manufactures and warm cloathing would be desirable to them, especially in the winter season.
13. Have they shown any wish or power to imitate the buildings that have been erected by the missionaries? 13. They wish to have similar buildings to the missionaries erected in their villages, but they have hitherto had no means of procuring the necessary materials.
14. Do the natives of New Zealand show a disposition for a seafaring life, and are they skilful in the management of canoes or coasting vessels? 14. They are very fond of a seafaring life and are skilful in the management of canoes. They would generally make good sailors had they sufficient practice. Many are now employed on board the Active and other vessels, and have always behaved well.
15. What are the principal causes of the disputes that so frequently take place between the natives and the crews of vessels touching there? Do they originate in the pilfering disposition of the natives or in the violence and immoral habits of the crews? 15. The disputes between the natives and masters and crews of vessels may be attributed partly to the ignorance of Europeans in the native language, partly to their fraud and cruelty, and insults offered to the native females, partly to the sovereign contempt in which Europeans generally hold the natives, and partly to the pilfering disposition of the natives themselves.
16. What is the number of vessels that have touched at the Bay of Islands during the last three years, distinguishing their tonnage and national flag? 16. Fourteen—namely, Catherine, of England, 200 tons; Queen Charlotte, of Port Jackson, tons; Adamant, of England, tons; Daphne, of Port Jackson, tons; King George, of Port Jackson, tons; Enterprize, of America, tons; Harriet, of Port Jackson, tons; Rambler, of England, tons; Fox-hound, of England, tons; Anne, of England, tons; Indian, of England, tons; New Zealander, of England, tons; General Gates, of America, tons.
17. Do they resort generally to the Bay of Islands, or to the other harbours of New Zealand? 17. To the Bay of Islands.page 445
18. Have any vessels been sent to Port Jackson in consequence of outrages committed upon native inhabitants since the Act of Parliament passed giving jurisdiction to the Courts of New South Wales to try such offenders? 18. None.
19. What other measures, in your opinion, would be conducive to the protection of the natives against the outrages of European crews so much complained of, and would the employment of a small armed vessel be attended with beneficial effects, both in repressing the outrages and in manifesting an earnest desire on the part of the British Government to protect the natives? 19. Generally speaking, we believe that the natives would be sufficiently protected were their cases brought before the Courts of New South Wales, but there is no means of carrying the provisions of the Act of Parliament into effect without an armed vessel.