The New Zealand Evangelist
Local Intelligence.—Waimate. The Natives
Local Intelligence.—Waimate. The Natives.
I have been employed lately in taking a census of Ngatiruanui, and I have received the undermentioned returns from the natives, viz.:—Men, 568. Women, 414. Children, 363. This return page 285 includes fifteen settlements, in three of which only is the number of women equal to the number of men. It will be seen that the number of women is nearly one third less than the number of men. I have had some difficulty in procuring the return. They raised various objections, not wishing Europeans to know their numbers. Some of the objections were most ridiculous; but the chief one was, that they were apprehensive when the Queen knows how few they are, she will send a sufficient number of soldiers to take the land from them! In conversing with the old chiefs, I have been struck with the populousness of the district in former times, before their devastating wars swept them away. The horrible scenes of canibalism, infanticide, and murder, which they have related to me, have filled me with horror, and led me to thank God for the saving influence of the Gospel. I have not heard or read of any parallel excepting those committed in the present day by the barbarous Fegeeans. About four miles from our residence, there is a remarkable old fortification, Te Kopanga, which was filled with natives, amounting to 1,800 men, besides women and children. About thirty-five or forty years ago, as near as I can calculate from their accounts, the Waikato tribes came upon them like birds of prey, and deeds of barbarism were perpetrated which are not proper to be described, while only a small remnant escaped to tell the mournful tale. Several devastations of this kind have taken place in this once populous district; and even since the introduction of the gospel, hundreds were slain and made prisoners by the tribes of Waikato, on a high hill, on the Taranaki mountain range. The hill is distinguished by name of “Te Ruaki,” the vomiting of wrath, and is never mentioned but with sorrow on account of so many of their fathers and friends falling there! In our conversations they have repeatedly stated that, but for the saving effects of the gospel, they would all have been cut off!
At present influenza prevails very extensively throughout the settlements, and medicine is in constant request. Several are affected with scrofulous complaints, inflamation of the lungs, opthalmia, &c., and I apprehend that the approaching winter will be fatal to many. There has been an affecting mortality among the children, and the parents exercising so little restraint over those who are some what advanced in years, leaves us little hope of an increasing population. The dirty habits of many in retaining the native mat, the where pani, &c. warm close houses, make against their progress in civilization, though in some places they have built good houses, and imitate Europeans in cooking and eating, and have beds raised from the ground. They are much given to disputing about religion. They are fond of bells to assemble them for worship. In many places the barrel of an old musket serves them instead of a bell. The scriptures and the catechisms are every where in use; but many causes retard their spiritual improvement.
In conversing lately with the natives respecting the new and full moon, they told me that their idea was that the moon grows and decays like a vegetable, and they were struck with astonish-page 286ment when I told them that at the change of the moon its dark side is to us, and its light side is to the sun. Of the rotundity of the earth, its motions, centrifugal and centripetal forces, they have no idea.
They are fond of talking on religious subjects, especially on the Lord's day. Walking with an old man the other day, the conversation turned on the love of God. He said—“The love of God is a rope let down to draw men up from earth to heaven.”