A Trip from Dunedin to Samoa
Via Tonga, Returning Via Fiji and Tonga.
By a Fourth Form High School Boy.
I left Dunedin on Thursday, the 2nd of August, at 3.15 p.m., by the s.s. Wairarapa, in charge of Mr and Mrs F, of Dunedin. I went to bed after tea and suffered a little from seasickness, but I soon went to sleep. I found my cabin companion to be an old gentleman, who was taking his daughter as far as Auckland to see her start for Honolulu. He was very kind to me. The next morning about 8.30 we were alongside the wharf at Lyttelton. It was a miserable day; raining all day long. I took a turn round the town and then back to the steamer. At ten minutes past ten we left for Wellington and arrived there next morning at 10.30, having made a good passage. As there was no one down to meet me I took a stroll up town, and met one of my cousins. Then I went out to Newtown to see their place, and stayed there all the afternoon. I found that my father had left for Wanganui that morning, so that I did not see him. He left me a Tetter saying he was very sorry at not being able to see me. The steamer left at 6 p.m. for Napier. We had a very bad passage and a head wind. I was again seasick. The next morning when I got up we were running along the coast near Napier. We arrived about 11 o'clock, and as we were anchored out in the bay I did not go on shore. The weather was very bad, raining nearly all the time. At dinner a gentleman in mistake took mint sauce on his plum-pudding instead of brandy sauce. We left Napier at nine in the evening, and started under easy steam for Gisborne. We arrived at Gisborne at 8 a.m. After breakfast we had some fun watching some passengers come on board from the launch Snark. It was hard work because of the heavy swell. We left Gisborne for Auckland at about 10.30 a.m., and as the sea was high I lay down on my bed. I got up for dinner and went to bed afterwards. We arrived in Auckland early next morning. I sent my luggage to the
Taviuni, the steamer I was to leave the next day in for the Islands. I met my friends as I was leaving the steamer, and had dinner and tea with them, and staved with them all night. They were very kind, and took me for a drive round by Mount Eden and out past Costley's Home and the racecourse, returning by Mount Eden Gaol. I enjoyed the drive very much. I left Auckland on Wednesday, the 8th of August, for Tonga. We took five days instead of four, on account of the bad weather. Nearly all the passengers were seasick, and the captain said it was one of the roughest passages he had made.
On Tuesday, the 14th, we came into Tonga among the beautiful little coral islands and coral reefs. Almost all the people in the village were down to meet us, and the Natives crowded the wharf. I went up to the village with another boy passenger who had a camera, and he took some views. We saw the tomb of the late King George of Tonga, and also the palace. We were not inside the palace. We were inside the House of Parliament, which was to sit in the afternoon. The dress of the Native men is a lava-lava, which is a piece of cloth wrapped round the waist reaching to the knees, and sometimes a singlet, shirt, or a coat added. The Natives seem very fond of singlets. The policemen dress in the lava-lava and a blue coat with silver buttons. The dress is the same in all the islands. They do not need any hats because of their thick hair. The women have sometimes dresses like little girls, without any waistband, the dress reaching to their ankles. In the morning we also went for a walk to the lagoon about a mile and a-half inland, where we saw a Tongan canoe with a sail made from the cocoanut palm leaves. At the end of the road a cocoanut palm stands by itself in the middle of the road. We were ready for a good dinner when we got back. The walk made us very tired on account of the great heat of page 2 the sun. After dinner we wandered about the beach, not feeling fit for a long walk. The Tongan Natives are a very good-looking race, but have rather broad noses. The Native men work the slings to load and unload the steamer, but they are lazy. The women and children flock about the deck of the steamer trying to sell shells for enormous prices—sixpence for a little shell and two shillings for a large one. They are very greedy about money. A lady passenger bought a little basket with a little piece of coral with it for sixpence; the Native women watched where she put it and stole it. We stayed on board the steamer at night, and slept soundly till the dressing gong was sounded the next morning. After breakfast I went up to the post office and bought some stamps, and then returned to the steamer. The scenery is very beautiful—the low-lying islands covered with trees of all kinds such as the cocoanut palm, the banana, the grenadilloes, the orange, and lime fruit trees mingled together. The trees are all colors of greens from the lightest to the darkest, and look very lovely mingled together. The steamer sailed in the afternoon for Haapai, another of the Tongan groups. At night some Samoans, who were on board amongst the Natives, sang their songs to us, which we all enjoyed. I went to bed at eleven o'clock, when the lights went out.
The next morning we arrived at Haapai, and went on shore in the ship's boats. The Natives here are the same as at Tonga, this being the place where they first came from, and the home of the kings of Tonga. The Tongans here are very lazy, like those in Tongatabu. We went to the chief's house, where we had a drink of cocoanut milk and a drink of the Native drink called "kava." After leaving the chief's house we went through the Native churches, which were built by the Natives. The churches are built with material from the cocoanut palm and other island trees. And then we went to the hotel kept by a lady for whom I had a note of introduction. I had dinner with her, and she gave me shells and other things to lake home. I went on board in a luggage punt towed by the ship's boat. The scenery here was the same as at Tongatabu, the island low lying, with the beautiful cocoanut palms, orange and other trees. In about ten minutes after I was on board, the steamer left for Vavau, another of the Tongan group. At Vavau we went about in the ship's boat, and went for a bath in the harbor with the captain and chief engineer. At Vavau we had a change in the scenery, instead of low-lying coral islands like the Tongatabu and Haapai groups. The Vavau group is volcanic; therefore the islands are high and steep. The trees are the same, and the harbor is deep and the scenery lovely. We left at 5 p.m. for Apia (Samoa). We were at sea all the next day, and the morning after that we arrived early at Apia.
I went on shore in the morning with Mr and Mrs F and visited Mr and Mrs C, who asked me to stay with them, but I said I would rather stay on the steamer. My mother stayed at Mrs C—'s when she was at Apia. I went on board for dinner and stayed on board all the afternoon. The next day (Sunday) there was a service on board the man-of-war, but I did not go. I had a good book to read, and did not go on shore till late in the afternoon. I had tea with Mrs C, and went to church in the evening. I stayed all night on shore, and in the morning went for a bath in the river with a Samoan boy. The Samoans are like the Tongans, they try to sell things for enormous prices, and are very lazy. One woman tried to make a gentleman passenger pay twice for a club, but the gentleman threatened to tell the magistrate, and he was bothered no more. In the afternoon I went for a ride with the doctor of H.M.S. Curaçoa, about a mile or so inland, to the Native Girls' High School at Papauta, where we heard them singing. The singing was very good, and after the school was dismissed we had a cup of tea with beat-up egg instead of milk. The ride was up a pretty good road, with cocoanut plantations on each side. The ride was very nice, because the trees shaded you from the heat of the sun. As the steamer was to leave at 4 p.m. we had to hurry back. When we got back we heard that the steamer did not leave till 5 p.m., so I stayed on shore. I met Mrs Stevenson, the mother of R. L. Stevenson the novelist, at Mrs C—'s on re turning from my ride. I went out to the steamer with Mr and Mrs C—in their boat. I met on the steamer some of my father's friends, and on shore the Chief of Apia (Seumanu) and other Samoans who knew him. The scenery at Apia is like that of Vavau. The town is built at the bottom of the hills on a level space. The town is very small, but very pretty, on account of the trees and Native houses. While at Samoa I heard that the fighting among the Natives would last till the British flag was run up on the beach. At Apia you can see the wreck of the German man-of-war that was thrown up on the top of the reef in the hurricane in which all the men-of-war were wrecked. The vessel is lying on her side, and is broken in two, only the framework being left.
We left Apia for Paga Paga (Tutuila Samoa) at 5.30 p.m., and reached there early next morning. We went alongside H.M.S. Curaçoa to coal her, and lay there all day. I was shown all over the Curaçoa by a sailor, and enjoyed it very much. In the afternoon I Ment out in the ship's cutter with the captain, third officer, another passenger, and two Natives to pull the boat. We went out to put a buoy on a rock in the entrance of the harbor. After rowing about for half an hour we found the rock and placed the buoy on it. We then went back to the steamer. page 3 I met R. L. Stevenson, the novelist, on board the steamer. He was taking a trip in the man-of-war. The Natives here seem to have more curiosities in the shape of clubs, kava bowls, and drinking cups than at Apia. We left Paga Paga for Suva (Fiji), and alter spending two nights and a day at sea we arrived there at 10 a.m. The sky looked like rain, and the heat was very oppressive. I went up to the post office and bought some stamps, and then took a stroll along the town. Suva is not such a pretty place as Apia, but still it is pretty. It is built on the slopes of low hills, covered with trees of all sorts. At night a sugar punt loaded with sugar and mosquitoes came alongside, and the sailors started to load sugar. In the middle of the loading the rain came down in a regular tropical shower, and the men had to stop loading the sugar till it stopped raining. The mosquitoes came on board by the hundreds, and most of the passengers had to leave their berths and come on deck. I was up in the forecabin, which was fitted up for the saloon, and there were no mosquitoes there. In the middle of the night a fireman fell into the water and was nearly drowned, but he caught a rope thrown to him by the captain just as he was going down for the last time. We left Suva for Levuka the next morning, and arrived there about dinner time.
Levuka is a beautiful place; the town is built on the side of the hills near the water. The climate is beautiful. Some of the passengers stayed at levuka while the steamer went on to Ba to load sugar. There are not many Natives at Levuka, but there are a lot of white people. The trip to Ba was the best we had; the sea was as smooth as glass the whole way. The passengers who were left were taken by the captain upon the bridge. The scenery all along the coast was very beautiful. The Native villages and the Natives fishing on the coral reefs were very picturesque. I had the loan of the telescope to took at the villages. One village was on the top of the hills amongst the trees and shrubs. We anchored off Ba, and a little steamer came out with the sugar punts. We had to stay on board all day watching the sugar getting loaded. The sugar plantations at Ba are worked by Indians (coolies) and some Japanese, but the Japanese are dying out. We took some prisoners from Ba to Levuka. One was to be tried for the murder of his wife, one for breaking gaol, and the other for a minor offence. We landed them at Levuka, from whence they were to be taken to Suva to be tried. The Indian who had committed the murder seemed quite content with what he had done. We were there all night, and at daylight next day we left for Levuka at 12.30, and were to sail at 6 p.m. for Vavau.
To say something about the Fijians. They are not like the Samoans and Tongans, although there are a lot of Tongans in Fiji. The Fijians are a darker race, not so good looking, and wear their hair very long. It sticks up all round like a mop, and has a reddish look because of the mixture they put on it. The cause of so many Tongans being in Fiji is that 2,000 Tongan warriors sailed in their canoes to Fiji and conquered the half of it, and would have conquered the whole of it had the Fijian chiefs not asked the English to annex Fiji. The English did this without the consent of the Tongans, who had a right to the half of it.
While at levuka walking on the beach I picked up a pretty shell, which I gave to one of the passengers who liked it very much. Some of the passengers bought some pieces of coral, which were very pretty, but very easily broken. We sailed at 6.30 p.m. We reached Vavau after two nights and a day at sea. When we arrived at Vavau the health officer was not going to allow us to land because there was a case of whooping cough at Levuka, in Fiji, but we had none on board. After rowing about and consulting his books he at last let us land. We had to load fruit. I went in for a bathe off the steamer with the stewards, engineers, and one or two passengers and sailors. We had great fun in the water, especially with one of the passengers. Some of the passengers went out for a walk up the village to look at the churches and houses. As we were to go down to the point to load some more oranges we left the wharf, sending a boat for the other passengers, who were out for a walk. I went for a bathe with the captain and two passengers and another boy. We had a nice bathe and a good row round the steamer. Then we came on board and had tea. While at tea the steamer saled for Tongatabu. At night some Natves from the Wesleyan College, Tongatabu, who had been to Vavau to give an entertainment, repeated it on board. One Naive recited 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in English, and was encored. They sang songs in both Tongan and Englsh. They had a play in the Tongan language from Milton's 'Paradise List.' They acted very well, especially the man who represented Satan. We reached Tongatabu next morning. I was up when we were gang in between the islands. We did not need a pilot. While I was on the bridge with sane other passengers we were called to have our photos taken by a passenger. We were taken in a group on the deck underneath he awning, and I think we must have made a very picturesque group with our island clothing. We arrived at the wharf a little after breakfast. On the wharf we saw buncies of bananas piled up in heaps for us to lad, and truck after truck of them coming down from the sheds. I took a stroll up the wharf and watched them loadng bananas. We left early in the afternoon or Auckland, leaving our pleasant holiday and the lovely islands behind us. On the wharf when we were leaving there stood some of our passengers and groups of Natives. The Native custom is that when friends are page 4 leaving to throw handkerchiefs into the water. The passengers we had left behind and some of the passengers on board threw theirs, also some of the Natives. We were then homeward bound, with many remembrances of those sunny isles of the Pacific.
Our passage to Auckland was very bad. I was seasick once or twice. We had games of quoits and another game of which I do not know the name. At last, after five bad days and nights at sea, we arrived in Auckland four or five days late. I stayed on board all night as it was raining, and the next day (Friday, the 7th of September) I was in New Zealand again, after an absence of about a month. My friends were down to meet me, and took me to their place to stay till Monday, 10th, when I was to leave by the Takapuna for Wellington. On Friday night I went to a party, but did not enjoy myself very much. On Saturday afternoon I went into town and secured my berth for Monday's steamer. I walked back to Ponsonby, where my friends' house is. The next day (Sunday) I did not go anywhere, as it was a bad day. I went for a little walk only, just before tea, to stretch myself. The next day (Monday) I went into town after dinner to the Star Hotel to meet Mr and Mrs F, in whose charge I had been throughout the trip. We took the train to Onehunga, where the Takapuna was lying. She left just after we got on board. I went to bed early. The next morning, at daylight, we were at New Plymouth, and left again before breakfast. As the sea was choppy I lay down, and did not get up till after tea. We had calm weather in the Strait, and arrived in Wellington as 11 o'clock p.m. was striking. My father was down to meet me, and we drove up to his lodgings, where I got into bed and was soon asleep. The next morning, after breakfast, I went for a walk along town. I visited the Houses of Parliament twice. I left Wellington by the Flora, and after a rough passage across the Strait, taking eighteen hours from Wellington, we arrived at Lyttelton. At Lyttelton I saw the Port Melbourne; she was loading horses for Calcutta. There was also one of the Shaw, Savill and Albion Company's cargo steamers, and also some of the Union Steam Ship Company's steamers in port. The Flora left Lyttelton at 3 p.m. for Dunedin, arriving in Dunedin early on Sunday morning. There was no one down at the wharf, so I waited for half an hour and then took a cab home. When I arrived home the boys were just getting up. I had my breakfast at home for the first time after being away nearly seven weeks. Thus ended the most pleasant and interesting holiday, I have ever had, and I shall always look back on it with pleasure.
Printed at the Evening Star Job Printing Works, Bond Street, Dunedin.