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Nation Making, a story of New Zealand


The Maories, though full of curiosity, possess in X a remarkable degree the faculty of never expressing surprise at any of the wonderful results which civilization reveals to them. Though without the trained indifference or insensibility which fashionable snobs seem so much to affect, a Maori 'savage' is quite their equal in taking everything he sees, as a matter of course. Nor does he betray any awkward self-consciousness in the presence of superiors.

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Though he may be of no recognized rank, he never cringes or manifests any sign of discomfort in the presence of a Chief of high rank of either race. He seems to feel on all occasions, that a savage is 'a man for a' that,' and acts accordingly. In this respect, unless corrupted by civilization, the Maori is naturally a gentleman.

When King Tawhiao and his Chiefs visited Sydney and Melbourne, nothing appeared to astonish them. Even the grander 'sights' of London affected them far less than similar scenes affect provincials, when they first make acquaintance with the roar and scenes of London.

In seeing any new object, however remarkable, for the first time, a Maori Chief slightly raises his eyebrows in much the same manner as an aristocratic dandy under similar circumstances; a savage child of Nature thus occupying the point of impassive indifference, which, after the wide circle-sailing of so-called training and culture, is attained by the 'curled darlings' of our own day.

What an odd meeting of extremes. What a long journey to gain so little.

Shortly after the introduction of gas into the City of Auckland, a Maori was in a store (shop) when the gas was being lighted. Seeing the lights, he asked, 'Where is the oil and the wick?' 'This light does not require either,' replied the storekeeper.

'Maminga' (gammon) rejoined the Maori, 'how page 185can there be light without oil? that is no light,' and putting a finger into the gaslight, he quickly withdrew it, saying quietly,

'You Pakehas (English) are a strange people, your ships go along without sails, and you make light and fire out of nothing but the end of a piece of iron, which lights when you put a match to it.