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From Tasman To Marsden.


page 120


In November 1808, the ship Speke, Captain Kingston, reached Sydney from London, with Matara, the son of Te Pahi, who had gone to England with ex-Governor King in H.M.S. Buffalo. While waiting for a chance of getting across to New Zealand the young chief lived with the family of Governor Bligh, and on 26th January 1809, sailed on board the City of Edinburgh, commanded by Captain Pattison, and having, as supercargo, Mr. Berry, who had met Te Pahi at Norfolk Island about the middle of 1808. Matara is thus described by Berry:

“He spoke English tolerably, dressed and behaved like a gentleman, and, of course, lived in the cabin; he spent, however, the greatest part of the day with a countryman of his own, who was employed as a sailor on board, and was indefatigable in his endeavours to regain a knowledge of his national songs and dances. His first appearance at New Zealand in the uniform of a naval officer, not only gratified his own vanity, but excited the greatest applause from his countrymen. In a few days, however, he resumed his national costume, and with it his national habits,—but having been accustomed to delicate treatment for a length of time, his constitution proved unequal to resist the mode of living in use amongst his countrymen. He became affected with a hoarseness which gradually settled on his lungs, and in a few months brought him to his grave."

On the road across to the Bay of Islands Berry determined to call in at Whangaroa, largely influenced in that determination by the previous accounts given of the harbour by Captain Ceroni, who was at that moment a passenger on board the City of Edinburgh. As they approached Whangaroa, however, Ceroni's whole attitude changed, and he now vigorously opposed making Whangaroa the destination of the vessel. The problem was finally solved by the weather conditions which compelled the ship to be steered for the Bay of Islands.

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At the Bay Berry applied to Te Pahi for assistance to load the vessel, but was told that nothing could be done there, that the City of Edinburgh should come round to Whangaroa; that Kytoke had recently died there and the funeral rites were awaiting his arrival, he having succeeded by right of inheritance to the dead chief's possessions at Whangaroa. Before adopting his suggestion, however, Mr. Berry made inquiries amongst the other chiefs at the Bay.

The chiefs visited were Tara and Tupe, whose possessions were at Kororareka and Kawakawa, and there two brown potentates gave Mr. Berry the heartiest of welcomes, and, under their protection, from 1st March to the end of May 1809, he landed the stores of the City of Edinburgh, a vessel of 526 tons,

“hove her down, completely stripped her of her copper, caulked, repaired her bottom and resheathed her with plank made of New Zealand pine."

During all this time Berry lived ashore in a house built by the Natives.

As the City of Edinburgh was leaving, Captain Ceroni again dropped his watch into the sea, and Tara, who was standing by, wrung his hands and uttered a shriek of distress, exclaiming that Ceroni would be the destruction of the Bay of Islands as he had already been of Whangaroa. Six or eight New Zealanders accompanied the City of Edinburgh to Fiji.

On 6th March the Otter, Captain Hopper, which had sailed from England on 16th June 1808, on a sealing cruise, came to the Bay and found there the Antipode, a schooner commanded by Captain Birbeck, in great want of supplies. These the Otter provided as far as she could, and reported in Sydney that the Antipode might shortly be expected there. Sixteen days later she arrived.

Later on in the same month the American whaler Ann, Captain Gwynn, was at the Bay of Islands and found there the City of Edinburgh in the midst of her repairs.

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At Fiji Captain Ceroni left the City of Edinburgh, and returned to Sydney on board the Perseverance on 15th September. He gave the first account of the doings of the City of Edinburgh in the Bay of Islands, and that account is published here to enable the reader to determine how much—if any—Berry was, later on, deceived about Te Pahi. Ceroni says:

“The [City of] Edinburgh underwent a very thorough and compleat repair at the Bay of Islands, which was accomplished in the space of three months; during which interval the native princes had attempted to get the vessel into their hands, for the purpose of possessing themselves of the trade put on board her for the Fejees. This plan appears to have been agitated by King Tippahee [Te Pahi] and Prince Matarra, his son, who went to England in the Buffalo, and returned hither in the Porpoise [? the Speke], and who had been favoured with a passage back to New Zealand in the Edinburgh, during which he had been treated in the most liberal and friendly manner. This circumstance, joined to the remembrance of the very handsome treatment Tippahee [Te Pahi] had himself experienced from Mr. Ceroni, who at his own pressing solicitation gave him a passage to this Colony [New South Wales] in the Commerce, had sanctioned a hope of assistance from the King and prince; but on the contrary, they proved to be the leaders of the conspiracy to take the ship, which was then keel out, and the crew, being encamped on shore, were in the first instance alarmed at the appearance of about 100 armed men lurking about a quarter of a mile from the tents, though it was unusual for more than two or three of them to assemble in one party. On perceiving this, Mr. Berry ordered his people to get under arms and advanced to inquire into the cause of their assembling in such force armed; but on their approach the natives fled. The same night a chief Toopie [Tupe] gave information of the plot that had been formed against the Europeans; and stated that a number of war canoes were then ready page 123 to attack the vessel, which was only delayed until daylight should appear. In order to intimidate them, a random shot was fired, which had a very salutary operation, as it struck one of the canoes, and threw them into such a consternation that many others were upset in their confusion. A boat commanded by an expert officer was immediately despatched to scatter them with musketry, in which the boat's crew succeeded, and made prizes of all their canoes; which were restored upon their afterwards making a proper concession for their treachery, and promising never to attempt the capture of that or any other English vessel."

Though Berry makes no mention of the incidents recorded here, it is unthinkable that they were imaginary, and they go far to indicate that Te Pahi had changed very much in his attitude towards Europeans.

Having procured what cargo was wanted at Fiji, the City of Edinburgh set sail for New Zealand and came to an anchor once more in the Bay, towards the end of October. It had been the intention of the captain of the ship to put into Whangaroa, but, when that intention was made known, the Natives on board came in a body, told the story of the lost watch, and pleaded that Whangaroa should not be visited. Contrary winds again solved the problem and the vessel was steered for the Bay.

Tara and Tupe, friends on the last visit, came again to the fore, put the whole power of the Bay at the service of Mr. Berry to get his ship filled, and sent raft loads of spars floating down the River, as fast as they could be taken on board and stowed into the ship's hold.

By the time the vessel was half loaded, a hitch took place. One of the local chiefs, while journeying southwards, was murdered by the Natives of the district he was passing through. At once all the bush camps became meeting places where the leaders addressed the crowd urging revenge for the death of the murdered chief, and, as the passions of the Natives were gradually but surely roused, interest in the work of loading page 124 the vessel grew less and less, and instead of sending down spars, they began to collect together war canoes from all quarters. So far was it carried that it soon became patent that the Natives desired to get rid of the City of Edinburgh so as to be able to follow the war fever untrammelled.

At this stage, with his vessel almost ready to sail, there was reported to Mr. Berry the most awful sea tragedy which our intercourse with the Polynesian race has been responsible for.