From Tasman To Marsden.
Simeon Lord, Francis Williams, and Andrew Thompson, all well-known Sydney merchants of this period, and immortalised on the New Zealand coastline in Lord's River, Port William, and Thompson Sound, approached Governor Macquarie with a proposal to form, at their own expense, a Settlement on the North Island to collect flax and manufacture it into cordage and canvas. Their idea was first to manufacture for colonial needs, and then extend to the Navy, when, if the scheme was approved of and turned out successful, they were to get the exclusive privilege of this branch of trade for fourteen years. Macquarie favoured the scheme and agreed to recommend it to the Imperial Authorities.
The promoters then set to work. On 28th January 1810, they advertised for “Ten able-bodied Men to remain on the Islands of New Zealand," on “Wages for three Years," and made arrangements for the brig Experiment, Captain Dodds, bound for London, to take the party to New Zealand. The brig was to remain long enough there to enable a quantity of dried flax to be collected and sent on in her to England for the inspection of the Imperial Government; the flax gatherers were to remain in New Zealand.
At the head of the party was William Leith, and one of its intended members was George Bruce, the famous ex-convict and son-in-law of Te Pahi. He had returned, as we have seen, with his wife and child to Sydney, where he was appointed by the agents of the promoters of the scheme to go with the flax party to New Zealand. There is no doubt that his relationship to the great Bay of Islands chief was the most important factor in securing his employment by Lord, Williams, and Thompson.page 139
Amongst other passengers in the Experiment were Lieut.-Governor Foveaux, and his Secretary, Lieutenant Finucane of the 102nd Regiment at that time stationed in Sydney, both proceeding to England, the Regiment following later.
On 25th February Mrs. Bruce died, according to Governor Macquarie's account, shamefully neglected by her husband. The Governor's description of Bruce gets support in the death notice which the latter inserted in the Sydney Gazette, where the death of his wife is used as an introduction to a lengthy sketch of his own intentions in connection with the New Zealand Expedition. Disgusting as appeared the use made of his wife's death notice, it appeared worse still, when, the following week, the newspaper was called upon to correct his misstatements regarding the position he occupied in the Expedition. Simultaneous with the publication of this correction, was published the intimation that on 9th March, Captain S. R. Chace had brought the awful news that the Boyd's crew had been massacred, and that Te Pahi was deeply implicated in it.
Chace also intimated that the whaler Mary had foundered off the East Cape, with 110 tons of sperm oil on board. This whaler was well-known in Sydney, having been there from 23rd August to 16th October of the previous year. Captain W. Simmonds commanded her, and was fortunate enough to be saved with his whole crew by the Inspector, Captain Walker. It was probably owing to the overwhelming catastrophe of the Boyd dominating all shipping news that the foundering of the Mary received so little notice. No further details were given.
Undeterred by the awful news which had come from the Bay of Islands, Lord and his friends sent on William Leith and his party to inaugurate the flax scheme, the only change in the disposition of the men being that Bruce was dropped out, but whether on account of the death of his wife, who alone had influence with the Natives, or on account of the public feeling against Te Pahi, or on account of the misstatements made by him in the Sydney Gazette, or on account of all three, cannot be stated.page 140
On 18th March the Experiment sailed from Sydney, made the North Cape on 4th April, and the next day anchored at the mouth of the Bay of Islands.
Meantime other evidence of Te Pahi's changed attitude towards Europeans reached Sydney. On 27th March Captain Wilkinson brought the Star from the Sealing Islands, and reported that he had been to Mercury Bay, and, getting alarmed at the action of the Natives, he had sailed to the Bay of Islands to be under Te Pahi's protection. Instead of protection, however, he had, on one occasion, been surrounded by armed Natives at the watering place, and only the precautions he had taken frustrated the efforts they made to get possession of the arms in the boat.
In the Bay of Islands during the latter part of March were five whaling vessels and one sealer:—
the Speke, John Kingston;
the Inspector, John Walker;
the Atlanta, Josh. Morris;
the Diana, William Parker; and
the Perseverance, Frederick Hasselberg.
Confident in their numbers their captains determined to man boats from their respective ships and ascertain if any person—outside of those already rescued by the City of Edinburgh—had been so fortunate as to escape the general massacre and be confined on Te Pahi's Island, also to see if any arms or warlike stores could be recaptured from the Natives. On landing on the Island and proceeding to Te Pahi's residence, the Natives were found prepared for them, and straightway opened the attack by raising a loud shout and following it up by firing a volley and throwing some spears. The sailors waited for no further invitation but at once attacked the New Zealanders, and completely routed them at every point. Te Pahi was wounded and fled to Whangaroa, and during the wild retreat many of the Natives threw their muskets into the sea. The longboat of the Boyd, as well as some of that ship's papers, were found and put on board the Perseverance. On the side of the whalers, a sailor on board the Inspector, and on the side of the Natives, no less than sixty, were killed, page 141 and the houses and property of the tribe were destroyed. The date of this was 26th March. The Island where this took place was one of those lying off Wairoa Bay, a few miles inside Cape Wiwiki, the western headland of the Bay. The group is still known as the Te Pahi Islands.
By the time the Experiment arrived the whalers had been joined by the Spring Grove and the New Zealander.
As things had now quietened a little an attempt was made to open up trade between the Natives and the Experiment, but the poverty of the people, and the wars raging round about, rendered all idea of trade impossible.
Of the vessels whose crews had taken part in the attack on Te Pahi's stronghold, the Perseverance had just returned from a short and successful voyage in search of new lands, Captain Hasselberg having, towards the latter end of January, discovered Campbell Island, which he named after the owner of the vessel. The Perseverance was now on her road to Sydney for fresh gangs, and to obtain supplies for those already left on the Island, and had called in at the Bay for a cargo of spars.
On 9th April an Expedition was sent up a river on the north side of the Bay to attempt the rescue of four Europeans who were said to be there, thought to be survivors of the Boyd. Lieutenant Finucane took command of the party, and, after leaving the river, marched for ten miles inland, when it was discovered that the place where the Europeans were supposed to be was more than as far again, and it was accordingly decided to retire. Returning, the party came by a different route than it had gone, lest an attempt might be made by the Natives to form an ambush. The names of the Europeans were given, as far as could be made out, as Brown, Cook, Anthony, and Harry.
Colonel Foveaux and Lieutenant Finucane, finding that the Speke was sailing for England, and that much better accommodation could be got on board of her than on the Experiment, left the latter and took up their quarters with Captain Kingston.page 142
The whole fleet sailed from the Bay about the same time—Sunday, 15th April.
Leith's report to his principals, sent through the care of Mr. Mason, late of the Speke, who had left her and was returning to Sydney in the Perseverance, set out his intended future movements. The Governor Bligh, which was intended to act as a relieving vessel, had not put in an appearance up to the time of Leith writing. He had decided against remaining at the Bay of Islands, as, apart from the absence of the means of trade, the unsettled condition of the port made it an undesirable spot. To freight the Experiment for England spars were being bought, and it was Leith's intention, after getting them on board, to look in at Whangaroa, and then to cruise off the North Cape for a few days in the hope of falling in with the Governor Bligh. With her and the Experiment it was then intended to trade along the coast as far as the East Cape, from whence the Experiment would be sent to England and the Governor Bligh continued. After a time he would proceed to Queen Charlotte Sound, of which, as a flax spot, he heard good reports from the whalers. Any vessel sent out as a relief should first of all visit Cook Strait, where, at the entrance to the Sound, would be placed directions. In the absence of these directions a search should be made up the Bay of Plenty and the East Cape before proceeding to Foveaux Strait.
Leith's ire was particularly directed against Bruce, whom he charged with laying a snare for the lives and property of the whole party, but, as Lord afterwards stated that Leith's “misconduct frustrated their intentions" after they had sunk upwards of £2000 in the venture, it is quite possible that Bruce was perfectly innocent of the charge. Before the Experiment sailed from the Bay, Leith had to admit that there was a good deal of murmuring amongst his men, many of whom were eager to return to Sydney.
Leith was the first man to send to Sydney news that the Parramatta had suffered the same fate as the Boyd.
The murmurings mentioned by Leith culminated in the whole party leaving the Experiment to go home to England, page 143 and themselves going on board the New Zealander, Captain Elder, which was then bound for Sydney, where she arrived on 30th May. The reason given for taking this step was the non-arrival of the Governor Bligh with their stores and provisions. This vessel had sailed on 27th March, and her Captain's instructions were to remain at the Bay of Islands if the Experiment had not arrived, and to endeavour to cultivate friendly relations with the Natives. On 28th April, on the New Zealand coast, Captain Chace saw eight fishing canoes, one of which came alongside with a Native who had formerly been landed from the King George by Captain Chace, and who now told his old captain that a brig, which Captain Chace presumed was the Experiment, had left there ten days before. He also told of the attack on Te Pahi's stronghold, and that the latter had since died of a spear wound received in battle from a Whangaroa chief. Te Pahi's unfortunate son was dead also, as was his chief general “Whaetary," and the head chief of Whangaroa. Another of Chace's old sailors confirmed these reports and warned the Captain to be on his guard while in the Bay, and to venture on shore as little as possible.
Te Pahi's Island was in a ruined state, and many of the Natives in the neighbourhood were dressed in the garments of the murdered sailors of the Boyd. Chace used every means to dissuade the Natives against a repetition of the Boyd acts, and pointed out to them the advantages which would follow from friendly intercourse and mutual confidence. One of their towns was visited and found to consist of wretched hovels into which they crawled on hands and knees; their only food was fern root, shark, or fish that could be easily caught; their only employment was fortifying themselves against an attack of their neighbours or preparing themselves to attack their neighbours in their turn.
Mohanga, who had been to England with Savage in 1805, delivered a letter from Captain Clark of the Ann, and another from Wm. Leith, intimating the course of the Experiment.
Captain Chace stated that a design was formed to capture his vessel, but he was on his guard and it came to naught.page 144
The most important information obtained by Captain Chace had to do with the details of the massacre. These were given to him by a Tahitian, who, as he was not one of the New Zealanders, was considered free from their tribal prejudices and rivalries, and therefore in a position to state dispassionately what actually took place. His version differed so much from that given to Berry, which had up to this time been accepted without challenge, that it is here given, in Chace's language, at length:
“When the Boyd went from hence [Sydney] she had on board four or five New Zealanders, who made part of her crew. These people were displeased at their treatment on the passage, and determined on revenge. On their arrival they communicated their complaints to their friends and relatives, who were of the Whangaroan party, and frequently at war with Tippahee [Te Pahi] and his subjects; and the design of taking the ship was formed in consequence. It being Captain Thompson's intention to take in a quantity of spars, he applied to the natives for assistance in procuring them, which they promised, but, in order to entice him on shore, artfully objected to perform until he should accompany them to point out such as he might best approve. The Captain was thereby prevailed on to leave the vessel, accompanied by his chief officer, with three boats manned, to get the spars on board, the natives who had arrived in the ship being of the party, which was accompanied by a number of others in their canoes. The boats were conducted to a river, on entering which they were out of sight of the ship; and, after proceeding some distance up, Captain Thompson was invited to land, and mark the spars he wanted. The boats landed accordingly, the tide being then beginning to ebb, and the crews following to assist in the work. The guides led the party through various parts of the wood that were less likely to answer the desired end, thus delaying the premeditated attack till the boats should be left by the effluence of the tide sufficiently high to prevent an escape; which part of the page 145 horrible plan accomplished, they became insolent and rude, ironically pointing to decayed fragments, and inquiring of Capt. Thompson whether they would suit his purpose or not? The natives belonging to the ship then first threw off the mask, and in approbrious terms upbraided Capt. Thompson with their maltreatment, informing him at the same time that he should have no spars there but what he could procure himself. The captain appeared careless of the disappointment, and with his people turned towards the boats, at which instant they were assaulted with clubs and axes, which the assailants had till then concealed under their dresses; and although the boat's crew had several muskets, yet so impetuous was the attack that every man was prostrated before one could be used. Capt. Thompson and his unfortunate men were all murdered on the spot, and their bodies were afterwards devoured by the murderers, who, clothing themselves with their apparel, launched the boats at dusk the same evening and proceeded towards the ship, which they had determined also to attack. It being very dark before they reached her, and no suspicion being entertained of what had happened, the second officer hailed the boats, and was answered by the villains who had occasioned the disaster that the captain, having chosen to remain on shore that night for the purpose of viewing the country, had ordered them to take on board such spars as had already been procured, which account readily obtained belief, and the officer was knocked down and killed by those who first ascended the ship's side. All the seamen of the watch were in like manner surprised and murdered. Some of the assassins then went down to the cabin door, and asked the passengers and others to go on deck to see the spars, and a female passenger obeying the summons was killed on the cabin ladder. The noise occasioned by her fall alarmed the people that were in bed, who, running on deck in disorder, were all killed as they went up except four or five, who ran up the shrouds, and remained in the rigging the rest page 146 of the night. The next morning Tippahee [Te Pahi] appeared alongside in a canoe, and was much offended at what had happened, but was not permitted to interfere or to remain near the ship. The unfortunate men in the rigging called him, and implored his protection, of which he assured them if they could make their way to his canoe. This they effected at every hazard, and was by the old king landed on the nearest point, though closely pursued. The pursuit was continued on shore. They were all overtaken, and Tippahee [Te Pahi] was forcibly held while the murder of the unhappy fugitives was perpetrated. A female passenger and two children, who were afterwards found in the cabin, were spared from the massacre, and taken on shore to a hut, in which situation Mr. Berry and Captain Pattison, of the City of Edinburgh, found when they rescued them. Tippahee [Te Pahi] was afterwards permitted by the Whangarooans to take three boat loads of any property he chose out of the ship, fire-arms and gun-powder excepted; and the bulk they divided among themselves. The salt provisions, flour, and spirits they threw overboard as unpalatable; the carriage guns they did the same with, considering them useless; the muskets they prized very much; and one of the savages, in his eagerness to try one, stove in the head of a barrell of powder, and filling the pan of the piece snapped it directly over the cask, the explosion of which killed five native women and eight or nine men, and set part of the ship on fire."
This, the reader will notice, puts the position in regard to Te Pahi in an entirely different light. Instead of the old chief having given the signal for the massacre, he had not been near when it took place, and, when he arrived on the scene, did all he could to save the survivors. Immediately this story was told it was considered “the most probable account received of the doleful event," although a fearful vengeance had been visited upon Te Pahi on the strength of the information supplied to Berry. The probable date of the page 147 Tahitian's conversation with Captain Chace was 28th April, more than four months after the massacre.
Although Te Pahi was innocent of the massacre, the Whangaroans considered it advisable to give him the opportunity of sharing the plunder with them, and without any scruples, or without any scruples which he could not overcome, he took away “three boat loads of any property he chose out of the ship, fire-arms or gun-powder excepted." As a matter of fact he got the longboat of the plundered ship, and amongst his tribe were seen many of the suits of clothes formerly worn by the Boyd's sailors. Though his hands were clean of the blood of the slain, his whares were full of the plunder of their property, and his mouth was closed against a denunciation of the terrible deed—something to be remembered when, later on, torrents of indignation were poured out on the action of the whalers in attacking his village.
It is a singular thing that it is only from the Natives that we are able to gather the number—40—who lost their lives in the Boyd massacre. For comparison we may thus arrange the known cases of cannibalism which we have so far met with, the victims being sailors or passengers on European vessels:
|the Marquis de Castries||11|
Of these figures those of the Venus are calculated from the Proclamation and the subsequent known additions and removals, and those of the Boyd are got from the Natives.
When the longboat of the Boyd reached Sydney in the Perseverance it was taken to the yards of Campbell & Co., enlarged to a vessel of 18 tons, and named the General Boyd. So satisfactory was the work that she was considered to be page 148 one of the finest moulded crafts ever turned out of a Sydney ship-building yard. Her destination was the Southern New Zealand sealing trade.
After the stormy events of 1810 came a calm which covered the period of the next three years, during which time the recorded New Zealand shipping fell away to almost nothing.