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New Zealand 1826-1827: From the French of Dumont D'Urville

From the Diary of M. Quoy

From the Diary of M. Quoy.

5th February—This little bay [Tolaga] is too exposed to be highly populated. We were surrounded by quite a number of canoes, among them some very fine ones manned by about thirty men. The way they paddle sitting down gives an elegance as well as a dignity to these boats. They have no outriggers and the bottom is made from one tree trunk. In exchange for axes and fish-hooks we bought potatoes and more pigs than we could feed. Some men even got them in exchange for knives. The women for their part sold their favours for necklaces and handkerchiefs but never otherwise and the one idea of all of them was simply the desire to procure what was offered and to take in addition whatever they could steal: for they are dreadful thieves. For example, in those moments when most people were not paying much attention to what was happening round them, they, on the contrary, were busy unfastening the curtain rings that happened to be overhead so as to carry them off, and snatching everything they could lay their hands on—towels, caps, sheets, even huge feather pillows that one of them tried to hide under her arm. One of our gentlemen had his valuable watch stolen; happily he found it in the hands of a chief; for these are the people who in the end take possession of everything these wretched women get, both what is given to them and what they steal.