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The Great Journey: an expedition to explore the interior of the Middle Island, New Zealand, 1846-8


May 1st. Collected fern-root, and caught some wekas, after reaching our old shelter at Matukituki, which we found standing. 2nd and 3rd. Collected fern-root, and caught some wekas. Made an oven of the roots of the ti. 4th and 5th. Still at our station. Heavy rain. 6th. Fine, but a heavy fresh in the river.

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7th. I am again feeling much pain in my side, and am unable to use it. My eye and hand also much affected. 8th. Finding I was unable to move, Epike and wife went off seeking wood-hens. Ekehu with me. 9th and 10th. Collecting fern-root. Rain.

11th. Ekehu built a new house, our old one being neither wind nor water-tight. Epike returned. He is a greedy old fellow, and I should have been better, and have had better fare, without him. In this instance, although we afterwards saw the feathers of many birds, yet he returned with only one poor one, and told me it was all he could get, and that he purposely saved it for me. I found it best never to quarrel with him, so I took the bird, and thanked him.

12th. A heavy fall of snow all day. 13th. Moved into our new house, which we found both warmer and drier. The fresh in the river caused Ekehu to remove to higher ground. The old house, built here by him some years ago, was washed away, showing that the flood had risen higher than it had done for many years.

14th. I am still without the use of my side, which gives me pain on a change of weather. 15th. Ekehu collecting ti roots. The river is much swollen, and even if I were able, I doubt if I could progress, owing to the snow. I was also taken ill with a violent retching, which lasted all day and night, and my side gave me much pain. I attribute it to the bad living and the cold weather, both clothes and food being very scanty.

We left here all our old clothes (none of which I had previously thrown away, reserving them for patches), my pot, two specimens of greenstone—one about sixteen inches long and six broad by one thick, and considered valuable by the natives, the other smaller—some pieces of mica slate, a stone for polishing the greenstone (with which I had found page 96 means to amuse myself on wet days), three good nets, and many small things, which Ekehu secured. Both he and Epike told me that they intended returning here. They cleared, during our stay, a piece of land, on which they planted about 150 potatoes, brought by us from the Mawera, and a quantity of Swede turnips and native greens. They have each runaway wives, and are afraid of returning amongst the natives from the fear of losing them, and of going back to their former servitude, both being the slaves of E Iti, the chief at Motueka.

16th, 17th, and 18th. Fine, but very cold. Ekehu clearing for his potato garden.

19th. This morning Epike and wife started for Nelson, but I refused to proceed from inability. Ekehu and wife went out to search for food, so I was left alone during the day. Ekehu returned in the evening, and said he was anxious to proceed, and I told him I would try in the morning.

20th. I resolved to make the attempt, and we packed up, leaving all we could behind us, as I was unable to carry anything. We reached the Tutaki, and ascended about a mile to a ford, which we crossed over, when we found Epike bird catching. We gave him some berries in exchange for some wekas, and had a good supper. 21st. After proceeding a short distance the rain obliged us to halt, and build a shelter.

22nd. Reached the end of the valley, and camped. A slight fall of snow or small rain all day. We sought the shelter of a large totara tree for the night.

23rd. This morning we found a kohaha tree, the berries of which the natives are very fond of. This delayed us some time. Proceeded a short distance, and camped on the banks of the Tiraumea. Wet night.

24th. Our clothes being wet from last night's rain, page 97 we proceeded to the shelter of last year—an overhanging rock, which protected us from the rain. Dried our clothes, and spent the day here. A small basket of mine, which was hung to the roof of our rock to dry, fell down during the night on the fire, and was burnt, by which I lost all my sketches, several skins of birds, some curiosities, and some memoranda, the loss of which may cause my journal to seem incomplete in many places.

25th. We came on a short distance, and built a shelter against the rain or snow, which seems to fall here every day towards evening during the winter months.

26th. This morning we started, although it was raining hard, and reached our former wari at the Tiraumea towards evening. 27th, 28th, and 29th. Rain. Our shelter far from watertight, and our bedclothes saturated with the drip.

30th. Finer, but an immense fresh in the river. The natives went in search of food, our provisions being exhausted. Ekehu made a waterproof covering of manuka bark, which allowed him to venture out in spite of the rain. 31st. The natives went off today to collect the fern-root which they found yesterday. Cold day.