Te Ika a Maui, or New Zealand and its Inhabitants
Chapter XV. History
Chapter XV. History.
Having alluded to the traditions of the natives, relative to their country, anterior to the arrival of the Europeans; we now briefly consider its subsequent history. It seems remarkable that so large a portion of our globe should have remained totally unknown to the nations of the west, until a comparatively recent period, and that then the thick mist, which had shut out these fair portions of the globe, from our sight, should all at once be rolled aside, and reveal them to us. Either the family of man was not before sufficiently advanced, to profit by the discovery, or the Anglo-Saxon race which was destined to colonize them, was not carlier in a position to do so.page 205
It was doubtless appointed that the discoveries of Columbus should first be peopled, and when the way for their being so was opened out, that then the attention of our age should be, directed to Australasia and Polynesia.
The earliest claim set up for the discovery of New Zealand, is advanced by the French, in behalf of their countryman, the Sieur Binot Paulnier, who sailed from France in June 1503, pursuing a south-west course to 60° south lat.; he then veered towards the west north-west and north-west, when he fell in with many strange lands, and finally reached a large continent, peopled by a numerous race of amiable savages, amongst whom he remained above a year, and quitted with regret July 3, 1504. The son of one of the chiefs accompanied him to France, and afterwards married into his family. The account of his course is too vague to make out anything satisfactory from it, but there is little probability that his amiable savages were New Zealanders; as they would have been more inclined to regard the Sieur as a fit subject to exercise their gastronomic powers upon. The description seems rather to apply to the natives of the Philippine Isles, and this west north-west and north-west course was as likely to bring him there as to New Zealand.
In 1576, Juan Fernandez sailed from South Western America for about a month, in a south-west direction, and reached a land, fertile and pleasant, inhabited by white people, well made, and dressed in a kind of woven cloth. This also is a very vague account: the description will apply to the Tahaitian as well as to the New Zealander, and the length of the voyage would be more likely to bring him to that island than to New Zealand; for even in the present day, six weeks is considered a quick passage from New Zealand to South America.
On the 14th of August 1642, Abel Tasman sailed from Batavia, with two vessels, the Heemshirk and the Zeehaen; on the 9th of September, he was in lat. 42° 37′ south, and Ion. 176° 29′, the variation being 3° to the east; on the 13th, being in lat. 42° 10′, variation 7° 30′ east, he discovered a high mountainous country. The natives played on a kind of page 206 trumpet, they were of a color between brown and yellow, their hair was long, and almost as thick as that of the Japanese, combed up and fixed with a quill, or some such thing, in the very same manner that the Japanese fastened their hair behind their heads. On the 19th of December they killed three of his men; he gave the place the name of Murderer's Bay.
On the 4th of January 1643, he sighted the North-West Cape and the Three Kings; to the former of which he gave the name of Maria Van Dieman, in honor of the daughter of the Governor of Batavia; and afterwards to his discovery was given the name of New Zealand, from that of his own country. Tasman, however, was not aware of its being islands; he supposed that it formed a portion of the Great Terra Australis Incognita, and therefore he called it Staten Land.
In 1769 and 1777, Cook visited New Zealand during his circumnavigations of the world: he surveyed the coasts of both islands, with such accuracy, that substantially the charts still used are his; he first discovered the straits which separate the two largest islands, to which his own name was affixed. He took possession of them for England, and so high was the opinion which he formed of their fertility and importance, that he suggested their immediate colonization; and in 1788 the question was agitated in Parliament, whether New South Wales or New Zealand should be made a penal settlement. It is also remarkable that that clear-sighted and observing man, recommended the spot which Auckland now occupies, as the most suitable locality for the capital. Between the visits of Cook, the massacre of Captain Furneaux's crew in the Bay of Islands, together with that of the Mascarin, commanded by Marion du Fresne, took place, which appears to have been occasioned by their own injudicious conduct.
Every recollection of Cook is interesting. The natives have several springs in the different places where he anchored, which still go by his name. There is one at Uaua, in Tologa Bay, on the East Coast, which is still known as Cook's spring; but the chief record of his having been on the island, is the cabbage and turnip which he sowed in various places: these have spread and become quite naturalized, growing everywhere page 207 in the greatest abundance, and affording an inexhaustible supply of excellent vegetables. There is a saying, which I fear is not so much to Cook's credit, as it intimates that he gave them rum—“Te wai toki a rangi” (Cook's sweet water of heaven,) which has passed into a proverb for anything sweet. It is interesting to know that the natives regarded Tupaia, the Tahaitian chief, as the captain; he must therefore have passed himself off as being such.
Marion has also left some remembrance of himself, showing how different French taste is from the English. He sowed garlick, which has quite taken possession of the Bay of Islands; the milk and butter there is all more or less flavored with this delicious root. A better gift, is, I believe, the Kowai-ngutu-kaka, the parrots bill acacia (Clianthus Puniceus), which most probably was introduced by his ship. I received a curious account from a native, that when a French vessel was taken, and its crew murdered, the natives carried the plunder to a small island in the Kirikiri River, and there emptied some of the boxes, which to their disappointment they found merely contained seeds; these they threw away as useless; in a few years, the island was covered with this beautiful plant. It was there I first saw it growing wild, nor have I ever found it, except where pas or cultivations have existed. The natives greatly admire its rich flowers as an ornament for the ear, and have thus carried it from place to place with them. The Taranaki slaves, when released by the Nga-puhi, brought the seed with them as a remembrance of the land of their captivity. The natives of Cook's Straits have a tradition that some vessel arrived at Arapawa, Queen Charlotte's Sound, before Captain Cook; they call the captain Rongo tute. The crew committed such excesses, that the natives became exasperated, and took the vessel, killing the entire crew, and eating them; having stripped the vessel they left the hull on the beach. Amongst the plunder were a number of dinner plates, which from their pattern were called Te upoko o Rewarewa: as this is the name of a disease which many years ago broke out amongst them, and destroyed great numbers, it may have been given, from its being a spotted pattern, the disease appearing to have page 208 resembled the small pox, by leaving marks all over their bodies. These plates they broke up, and having drilled holes through the fragments, wore them as ear and breast ornaments; one thing taken is said to have been shaped like a mere, and was therefore very highly prized. It is still in the possession of some one belonging to the Nga-te-hine tribe. The natives say this was the first time they ever saw iron, they made adzes of the spike nails.
In 1793, whaling ships began to visit New Zealand. In 1809, the massacre of the Boyd, commanded by Captain Thompson, took place; this melancholy event was occasioned by the captain foolishly causing a chief named George, who came as a passenger in his ship from Sydney, to be flogged. Indignant at the insult, he dissembled his feelings, and recommended the captain to visit Wangaroa, of which he was a principal chief, where he promised to procure him spars; the captain unwisely consented, and there he and his crew, together with many passengers, lost their lives.
About 1800, or earlier, Governor King visited the north end of the island, and took away two natives, to teach the convicts in Norfolk island the way of working flax from the phormium tenax, which also grew there. He was a great benefactor to the country by introducing maize, pigs, and potatoes.
In 1807, a vessel was taken by the Tokumaru natives, and all the crew, but Rutherford, were killed; he was spared, and lived with the natives at the East Cape for some years. The account published of him in the Library of Entertaining Knowledge, is very valuable, containing authentic information, of the manners and customs of the people.
On the 19th December, 1814, Mr. Marsden, the senior chaplain of New South Wales, first landed at the Cavallos; and on the Christmas-day following, the Gospel was preached for the first time at Rangihu, in the Bay of Islands, from the appropriate text, “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.”—Luke ii., 10.
In 1820, Hongi and Waikato accompanied Mr. Kendal to England, when Professor Lee drew up the New Zealand grammar. Three years later, the Wesleyans commenced a page 209 station at Wangaroa; it was soon burnt down, and they were obliged to leave the country.
In 1825, a company was formed in London to colonize New Zealand. George Lyall, Stewart Majoribanks, George Palmer, Colonel Torrens, the Earl of Durham, Edward Ellice, &c., bought land at Hokianga Heads, Hurd's Point, and at the Thames, but the scheme fell to the ground.
In 1827, the whale fishery was established in the Middle Island, and in Foveaux's Straits.
In 1828, the Wesleyans again commenced another station at Hokianga.
In 1831, a letter was sent to William IV., applying for British protection; it was signed by thirteen of the Bay of Islands' chiefs: this led to the appointment of Mr. Busby, as British resident; but having no means placed at his disposal for maintaining his authority, the natives facetiously described him as the man-of-war without guns.
In 1835, a confederation of the Bay of Islands' tribes was formed, and acknowledged by Great Britain, which gave them a flag, as a token of their independence.
In 1836, the Church Missions were extended to the Thames, Tauranga, Rotorua, and Waikato.
In 1837, the New Zealand Land Company was formed under the auspices of the Earl of Durham and other gentlemen.
In 1838, the Bishop of Australia paid a pastoral visit, and held a confirmation at the Bay of Islands; he also consecrated a burial ground at Kororareka. At the same time, Baron de Thierry, an adventurer, who styled himself the King of Nukuhiva, and Sovereign Chief of New Zealand, came and tried to establish himself as such: he brought with him several persons as the heads of different departments of his government; but the natives laughed at his pretensions, which were soon forgotten.
In 1837, the New Testament was first printed at the Mission press of Paihia; it has had a remarkable influence on the country, and has not only tended to assimilate the language throughout the island, and fix it, but has been the grand means of destroying heathenism in New Zealand. About the same page 210 time Bishop Pompalier, with several priests and lay associates, arrived, and commenced a Mission of the Church of Rome at Kororareka.
In 1838, the Rev. Samuel Marsden paid his seventh and last visit to New Zealand; he went to see all the churches which he had been the honored instrument in founding. The natives received him with the greatest respect, and the largest number ever assembled together, met to honor the father of the Gospel in New Zealand. He was then nearly seventy-two, and died the following year.
In 1839, the New Zealand Land Company was re-established, and received a charter. In August of the same year, Captain Hobson, R.N., received a commission as Consul, and Lieut.-Governor of New Zealand, depending on the submission of the natives to the Queen's supremacy; and in February, 1840, a grand Council was held at Waitangi, when all the chiefs of that part of the island agreed to the Queen's supremacy. A treaty was entered into with them, which they signed; this was mainly accomplished by the influence of the Missionary body.* It was called the treaty of Waitangi, from the place of the meeting. A second Council was held at Hokianga; the Lieut.-Governor then proclaimed the British assumption of the sovereignty of the isles of New Zealand. The seat of government was fixed at the Bay of Islands, the site being named Russell. In the year 1839, the Mission at Kapiti was founded, at the entreaty of Tamihana te Rauparaha, who, with another chief named Matene te Wiwi, went to the Bay of Islands for a Missionary, and would not return without one; also the Cook's Strait Settlement was founded by the New Zealand Company in the end of 1839.
In the beginning of 1840, the station at Wanganui was commenced.
* The treaty is in may handwriting.
1842 marks the commencement of the Settlement of Nelson, as well as the death of Captain Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand; also the arrival of the Bishop, who took up his abode at the Waimate, where he founded a college.
The Rev. John Mason was drowned in fording the Turakina river.
The fatal affray at Wairau occurred in 1843: also the last act of cannibalism was committed by Taraia at the Kati Kati, near the Thames. In July, Wanganui was disturbed by severe earthquakes. The Colonial Secretary, Lieutenant Shortland, became the Acting Governor. In December, Captain Fitzroy, R.N., arrived; he issued debentures as low as half-a-crown. The first clerk in the Colonial Office forged them to a large amount. The Colonial Treasurer also was found to be guilty of great peculation. In 1844, the Governor declared the ports of New Zealand free; abolished all customs and duties, and attempted to collect a graduated property and income tax. He was led to adopt this measure from the Bay natives complaining, that since the island had become a British colony, the whalers had entirely deserted them; and having declared the Bay of Islands a free port, to remove the grounds of their complaint, he found that the same measure must be adopted throughout the country. The plan, therefore, soon failed.
In 1845, war broke out in the north. John Heke cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka, having been told that it was the sign of their being slaves; and on the 11th March the town was taken by the natives, who, however, displayed much forbearance. In 1846, Captain Fitzroy was superseded by Captain Grey. Otakou Settlement was founded; it was intended to be an exclusively Presbyterian colony. At this page 212 time the war at the Hutt broke out; Rauparaha was seized, and skirmishes took place at Porirua, Paua-taha-nui, and in the Horokiri valley. Wanganui was occupied as a military post. War broke out there in 1847, and much powder and shot was innocently expended on both sides. The Bishop and the Missionaries joined in a protest against Earl Grey's despatch, relative to the taking possession of the waste lands. In this year, Governor Grey was proclaimed Governor-in-Chief; and in June, Lieut.-Governor Eyre arrived.
In 1848, the Canterbury colony was founded at Port Cooper, as an exclusive Church of England colony. Lieut.-Governor Enderby was also appointed to the Auckland Isles. Government House at Auckland was burnt down. Fearful earthquakes visited Wellington; most of the brick houses were either thrown down, or very much damaged; some were levelled to the ground, but only three lives were lost. In 1850, Governor Enderby was recalled, and the whaling establishment in the Auckland Isles was given up. In 1851, a new constitution was given to New Zealand, which was divided into provinces, with a Superintendent over each, and a General Assembly. The discovery of gold in Australia drew away a portion of the population. In 1853, Lieut.-Governor Eyre left New Zealand. The new constitution was proclaimed. The minimum price of land was reduced to 10s. an acre; this wise measure saved the little colony, and caused an immediate influx of settlers; and from that period the tide of emigration has continued to increase. The Governor-in-Chief (Sir G. Grey), and the Bishop left, and Colonel Winyard was constituted Acting-Governor. In 1854, the General Assembly met at Auckland, and, after much disagreement, was dissolved.
Such is a brief summary of the principal events which have occurred in New Zealand since our acquaintance with it; up to the 4th of January, 1855, when I left the country, after an absence of nearly twenty years from my native land.
The colony was then rapidly progressing, with every prospect of its continuing to do so. There are two grand epochs in the history of New Zealand—its colonization by the Maori race page 213 forming the first, and the subsequent one by the Anglo-Saxon being the other.*
It is now fourteen years since the isles of New Zealand became an appendage to the British Crown, and it will naturally be asked, What has been done during that period? We have had Governors and various forms of government, but what of the governed? When we consider their remote position, being nearly at the antipodes of Britain, we cannot expect that the tide of emigration would set in to them, with the same strength as to the United States of America, which are both nearer and more attractive to the emigrant, from the superior advantages held out of cheap land, and less trouble and expense in obtaining it; whilst we, in our wisdom, have hitherto put the highest price upon ours at the antipodes, and thrown every difficulty and expense in the settler's way; still, the superior fineness of the climate to that of every other colony, has triumphed over all these difficulties and disadvantages, and fourteen years have brought to these remote regions a population which is now not less than 36,000 of our countrymen. Towns have been founded, settlements formed, and a foundation has been laid which we have every reason to believe will stand.
New Zealand is now divided into six provinces; the most northerly, and at present the most flourishing, is that of Auckland, which has hitherto been the seat of Government. This province extends from the North Cape to Kawhia, or from the latitude of 34.20°, being that of Sydney, to about 38°. The width of the island is not very great, but its capabilities from ports and rivers render it superior to every other province.
* About 1844, one of my children came running to say that an extraordinary little animal had made its appearance in the verandah, and enqnired whether it might not be a frog: on going to see, I found it was a mouse, the first we had seen in the place; after a short time it disappeared, but in about three or four days afterwards, a large colony of perhaps, a hundred came and took possession of the house, which they have retained ever since. This resembled the way New Zealand has been colonized. Captain Cook first came and circumnavigated the island; he went away, but very soon afterwards our countrymen found out the road to it, and Missionaries, whalers, traders, and, lastly, our Government came and took possession of it. Every year numbers pour in, and completely occupy the land.
Auckland itself is very remarkable for its singular advantages of position: seated on a neck of land which projects into a land-locked harbour, it has a water frontage on both sides, and into this harbour the Thames empties itself by a gulf, bearing its name, which gives access, to that part of the interior; in fact, Auckland harbour may be said to form the corner of an inland sea, of about one hundred miles extent, opening up all the adjoining country, by numberless arms and creeks, to a secure trade with the capital. Nor is this the extent of its local advantages: Auckland stands on a neck of land, which is only five miles across to the large harbour of Manukau, on the western side, and from it there is the most direct and expeditious communication with the Cook's Straits Settlements, which now are regularly visited by a steamer.
Manukau is close to the Waikato, the largest river of New Zealand, which flows with a deep stream from lake Taupo; and it is not improbable before many years have elapsed, that a canal from the Piako to the Waikato will be made, which with a few locks, will enable vessels of almost any burthen to penetrate to the great central lake by the Waikato, which flows through the finest and most available district of the entire island. Another canal of half-a-mile from the Tamaki to Manukau will enable vessels to go from Auckland to that Port. A short distance north of Auckland, on the West Coast, is the harbour of Kaipara, the estuary of another noble river, the Wairoa, which has its source near the Bay of Islands; a canal of a few miles would connect Auckland with it also. Captain Cook was, therefore, quite justified in the high opinion he formed of it as the future site of a capital. The town of Auckland has now a population of about 8,000, and the villages around it on the Manukau have fully 4,000 more. In 1852, there were 20,200 acres enclosed. The trade of Auckland is perfectly surprising; the number of small coasters, most of which belong to the natives, and are laden with their produce, cannot fail striking the stranger who visits the port with astonishment; there is also an increasing trade springing up with San Francisco. Wangarei, a port to the north of Auckland, has a small population. The Bay page 215 of Islands, with the surrounding country, may contain 400 inhabitants; Wangaroa, another harbour, 50; Mangonui, in Doubtless Bay, 100; Kawia, 50; making the entire population of the province, taking in the Thames, Tauranga, Waingaroa, Aotea, and Waikato, about 13,000.
* The land purchased of the natives is about 20,000 acres. The want of extent is a great drawback to the future prosperity of the place, as it obliges many of the fresh settlers to go elsewhere.
The town itself is rapidly increasing, containing a neat wooden church, a large block house, which crowns a hill in the middle of the town, having much the appearance of an old castle. It has also a custom-house officer and resident magistrate, a post-office, and police establishment. It is likewise a military post, having between two and three hundred men of the 65th stationed there; nor is not too much to predict that before long it will be one of the most densely peopled districts of New Zealand. The Island here attains its greatest width, which is about 250 miles; this gives it a greater equability of climate than any other Settlement in New Zealand. Less rain falls at Wanganui than in Auckland or Wellington; it has more of the continental climate; the noble river, the number of small lakes in its neighbourhood, the distant mountains clothed with forests, having Tongariro with its snowy heights soaring above all*—enhance the beauty of the district, and cause its settlers to be warmly attached to it.
Wanganui forms the Northern portion of the Province of Wellington, which is 120 miles to the south-east of it, and is seated on the south-west corner of a large harbour, which has the appearance of a lake, shut in on all sides by mountains rising precipitously from its shores, to an elevation of full 1,000 feet. The level land which forms the site of this town is rather wider, and thus affords a long narrow space for building purposes. The town skirts the harbour, and is several miles long, but does not contain more than 5,000 inhabitants; in fact, its population is not so large as it was some years ago: but this is to be regarded as a good sign, instead of leading an idle inactive life in town, its energetic inhabitants have spread out, to occupy spots more suitable for agricultural purposes, and some have gone even as far as Wairarapa, Ahuriri and Wanganui.
* The elevation of Ruapehu, is 10,236 feet.
About ten miles from Wellington, at the north end of the harbour, is the valley of the Hutt, a very fertile district of trifling width, but considerable length, where the chief agricultural proceedings have been carried on; the Hutt has a population of about 1,500. Porirua, a lake-like harbour of no depth, but considerable beauty, at a distance of twenty miles from Wellington, has a scattered population of near 1,000. Wairarapa and Ahuriri on the east coast, are two fine districts, which have drawn off more of the Wellington settlers than even the Gold Mines. Although Wellington is celebrated for its wet and windy climate, it has the credit of being one of the most healthy of all the settlements of this universally acknowledged healthy country. The Cape shrubs here flourish with great luxuriance, and the blue gums of Van Diemen's Land, seem to have more beauty and bid fair to attain a greater size here, than even in their own island. Some of the Wellington gardens are extremely beautiful, but they are all in sheltered positions. Party spirit has always run high in this settlement, but it is generally acknowledged that this is chiefly owing to the high winds,* which render the minds of the settlers so irritable, that, were it not for politics, which act as the safety valve of the place, there is no saying what would be the result. It has been remarked that those living in the most exposed positions suffer most, and become the bitterest politicians, whilst others who have selected more sheltered localities, are the least acted upon by these barometrical changes. The best and longest roads in New Zealand belong to this province.
* Some years ago when one of these high winds was blowing at Wellington, a poor woman was killed by a whale boat, which was blown like a feather along one of the streets. The respected minister of the place told me, that on another occasion, he was compelled to run for shelter into a shop from a boat, which he saw thus rolling along the street. The prevailing winds are from the S.E. or N.W. On an average they blow 202 days from the N. or N.W., and 141 from the S. or S.E. The two printing-offices are also situated most unfortunately in this respect, being near a point named Windy Corner.
* It is a joke against the Canterbury Plains, that the sheep have to hold on to the toi-toi bushes, to avoid being blown away.