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The New Zealand Survey

Canto Fifth

“New Zealand Survey”: Page 49.

Canto Fifth.

Change; Society; Government; Custom; Perception; ReligionThough these surrounding scenes, where’er the eye
Of observation turns, have undergone
Great revolutions buried in the past:
Another of importance yet awaits;
Nay, is it not in progress even now?—
It is not always revolutions come
With sudden change, as of an earthquake’s shock;
Or, as in politics, when discontent,
Through insurrection, long in secret hatched,
Bursts forth in civil war, o’erturning all
page 50“New Zealand Survey”: Page 50. Authority and customs, working new
Effects upon the aspect of affairs!
Oft revolution comes by slow degrees,
Developing itself in every turn
Of circumstance, or seeming accident
That may occur; oft imperceptible
To many, who pretend to note events;
Yet who unheedingly pass such details
That make up full particulars, as one
Would sum up farthings to produce a pound!

As providence has willed it, so it is!
Change; Future; Past; Land; SocietyFor bygone ages had their times of change,
Preparatory to some future plan
To be accomplished in its season due;
And, as the earth has first to be subdued
Ere man, its lord, can bring it to his use;
So now a mighty change is passing o’er
Those scenes; however slow may be its course,
Its progress, like the stealthy steps of time,
Is certain, with improvements in its train,
To tame this once unbroken wilderness
Of savage grandeur! Colony; History; Change; Nature; CivilisationYon majestic trees,
Which have for ages stood the stormy blast,
Are destined soon to feel the settlers axe,
And by it be laid prostrate, as they are
Considered now mere cumbrers of that ground
He means to turn to fields of growing grain;
A noble change indeed! Thus nature wild
Must wear another aspect, feel renewed
With civilization introduced, where once
The wildest solitudes supremely reigned!

page 51“New Zealand Survey”: Page 51.

When Cook, the navigator of the globe
Explored this, then esteem’d, earth’s utmost bounds,
Māori; Ethnography; Civilisation; Philosophy; Imagination; Perception; SocietyHe found upon this island a wild race
“From all the world disjoined!” His visit then,
To them was like the earliest, faintest break
Of greyish dawn, upon the coming day;
And long before the sun, with upward rays,
The eastern sky paints in vermilion hue!
It told them (if such tidings they perceived)
There were elsewhere another race of men
Of more extensive knowledge;—that themselves
Were not the only people of the world;—
That they themselves, compared with what they saw
In all their wonted pride, degraded were!—
For nothing dreamed they of more cultured state,
Or civilization; (if to them such phrase
Intelligible were;) nor could conceive
Such state of mind, so as to feel debased
With that degraded state in which they lived,
When seeing something of a nobler kind;
No more than when they could their great canoes
Compare with that great ship the stranger own’d!

This visit must have given their stagnant thoughts
A quite unwonted stir! another theme
Of converse, of unfathomable depth,
When conjuring fresh conjectures oft,—Whence he
Has come? and wherefore?—What results might be
Anticipated, or for good or ill?—
For Māori; Ethnography; Custom; War; Peacesuch a sight, of import omenous,
As that great bark to them had ne’er occurr’d
Before,—and was to ancient sires unknown!
page 52“New Zealand Survey”: Page 52. For days, for weeks, for months, the theme anew
Would start in conference, either as around
Their fires they sat, or when the chiefs would meet
In council, or when revelling at feasts
Or other rites; when some vague thought would spring
Perchance of startling aspect, as of wars,
(As those of peace scarce harboured in their minds)
Which, when got utterance, would excite to loud
Bravadoes in their kind, when the war-dance
Would be resorted to, till madd’ning rage
Got vent in shouts ferocious, as to shew
What deeds of daring they would undertake!
But when to breathe, their fury ceased awhile,
Then some old prophet versed in all the lore
Of incantations, would exert his powers
Of rhetoric, in defiance of the foe;
Or would perchance repeat some ancient saw
Tradition had rehearsed from age to age;
“That when some great canoe with lofty wings
Appeared, then know, the time is coming on
When all their independency would cease!”
Such speeches when rehearsed with vapouring pride
Were only meant to stir up fury more,
In expectation of the struggle near.
But when such demonstrations would subside,
In mere exhaustion, then would they debate
Upon defensive means; or how effect
The best retreat, should hapless be their lot!

Custom; Philosophy; Change; FutureAt early morn, as they’d through custom sit,
Wrapped in their shaggy mats, upon the beach,
With vacant gaze on the horizon’s bound,
page 53“New Zealand Survey”: Page 53. Across what seem’d a shoreless ocean vast,
The thought of the white stranger would occur
To the dark mind, arousing it from sloth,
Exciting speculations strange, the which
May be compared to the first earthquake’s shock,
That raised this land from ocean’s depths, in that
Such gave the mind fresh energy, and formed
An era new, the basis of great change,
To be effected in some future day!

Philosophy; Ethnography; Imagination; Custom; Wonder; HistoryBut whence this solitary race of men?
How have they here got planted?—may be asked.—
A race of savages without a date,—
Or record of their early history
To trace their lineage!—They’re ever prone
To deal in wonders, and tradition’s lore
Much mixed with fable, contrary to aught
That’s probable, or may be reckoned true;
Crude fancy’s pictures ever over drawn
On some poetic, but untutor’d mind,
Which would try to expound the reason why
The ancient sires got landed on these shores;
While facts with fictions of the basest kind
Are so comingled, no dependance can
Be placed upon each theory declared:
But what can be expected from such minds,
Whose ignorance was darkness multiplied?
Whose ideas, the shades of wand’ring dreams
Of evanescent nature, hard to hold!
Or like the ignus fatuus wand’ring wide,
And leading the benighted far astray
From the sure path, till lost ’mid swamps and mire,
page 54“New Zealand Survey”: Page 54. Whilst seeking shelter by some cottage hearth!—
So judged they, that,—“Upon some ancient time
Beyond their ken, their common father raised
This island, as he plied his fishing art,
With his old bone hook, from the ocean’s depths!
Custom; Poetry; Morality; Education; Māori; EthnographyThough much of their traditions in their kind
May bear comparison to what of old
Would Ovid tell, (1)—how things in present form
Had their existence by transforming spells;
Yet the untutored natives, more debased,
Knew not how advantageously to turn
Such ev’n to good instruction, in the guise
Of fiction’s elegance, with morals chaste!
But such in uncouth state have been conceived
As ’mid pollution, so produced unclean,
And told, while such have passed as current coin
Through generations, much transformed and patched
With fresh additions of unseemliness
And horrid shapes; while, upon which the minds
Of infancy were fed, and puerile thoughts
Were cherished, till such in their nature’s wove!
Thus superstition’s canker on them grown
Has gnawed into their souls! Thus prestine truths
Are made extinct, while falsehood bears the sway;
Wild superstition as with reptile’s coil
Have in the bonds of mystery wound their tail!
The which t’ unravel, who will take the pains?
So much ’tis wrapped ’mid degradation’s stench! (2)

But when and whence this people hither came?
A dubious question still; though some indeed
Have hazarded a guess, as one would dare
page 55“New Zealand Survey”: Page 55. Dive in uncertain depths in search of gems,
Which never may be found! Philosophy; Religion; Society; Civilisation; Ethnography; MāoriBut this is true,—
They’ve wander’d far from that great parting scene
On Shinar’s plain! Some providential hap
Must have some families brought toward these shores
As forced by tempests from their fishing grounds,
Unable to return; so they’ve become
Mere outcasts from society, as ’twere
To prove to a philosophising world
What man is when apart—left to himself
With nought but corrupt passions for a guide,
With reason overpower’d! Then far below
Civilisation’s standard will he sink
Till scarcely ’bove the level of a brute!—
Thus have they had such dire experience,
As from such stocks they multiplied, and grew,
By numerous generations, into tribes,
Forgetful of all morals, which mayhap
Their sires have held, although however small,
’Mid ancient social circles in old homes!
Imagination; Ethnography; Religion; MāoriYet nothwithstanding such degraded state,
They shew themselves to claim a kindred tie
To all of Adam’s race, ev’n by their works,
However rude, formed through necessity;
Yet some bespeaking fancy, also skill,
Ingenious in their kinds, with lack of means,
Which others would for similar purpose use:—
All speak a claim, as ardent to support
This their memorial of a brotherhood;
As much, as would, on Jordan’s banks, when reared
The testifying altar of the Jews!

page 56“New Zealand Survey”: Page 56.

Ethnography; Technology; Commerce; Māori; EthnographyTheir instruments of warfare, or of chase,
On sea or land, when hunting for their food,
In absence of what commerce might supply;
Such, shews deep thought in the contrivance formed,
Or happy hit upon the plan pursued,
When urged by stern necessity, by those
Who may have been their sires, put to their shifts,
When like some wreck cast on these shores unknown,
With nothing but their hands, their helpless hands,
To gain a sustenance, though mean, in aught
The nature of their new abode might yield;
And so their offspring train, that they alike
In wildest hardihood themselves might fend!

Society; Friendship; Prosperity; Memory; Ethnography; MāoriAh poor degraded race! Thus exiled far
From ancient relatives and friendship’s joys,
So long, till true remembrance have been lost
Of such they may have had; from sires forlorn
They’ve sprung a num’rous progeny; and now,
How much through foul distrust and variance strange,
They have asunder parted, and become
To either aliens, reft to separate tribes,
With every tie of brotherhood annulled!
Of common comforts, such that cheer the poor
Of other lands, how much they’ve been devoid!
Religion; Ocean; CivilisationTo them in kindness has the ocean’s breeze,—
As bidden by an overruling power,
They knew not how to own,—wafted at length
That generous hearted “Cook,” who wisely sowed
Upon their shores, the seeds of various use
In wholesome fare; and useful animals,
To them unknown, let loose to multiply,
page 57“New Zealand Survey”: Page 57. To serve their needs, imparting benefits
To which they strangers hitherto have been!
Their’s, when compared with those whose glory is
Advancement in the civil arts of life,
Has been a lot unenviable indeed!
Society; Oppression; OceanOh! what is worse than sympathy extinct?
And human hearts become the demon’s den?—
Then man, the greatest enemy to man
Becomes, when dire ferocity is roused
Each ’gainst his fellow, through necessity,
Urged by a craving lust like beasts of prey!
Nay worse!—and more degrading—’gainst their kind
None’s ravenous, though they might disagree,
A fellow to devour!—Their scarce supplies
Of all that craving appetite demands
Have driven them oft to sad revolting deeds,
The source of fierce exterminating feuds
For sake of plunder; when the “weak” must fall
To “might” a prey, as when the smaller fry
Of ocean, by the greater, are devoured!
But has there not for them been in reserve
A better day of cheer—a change for good?
When prosp’rous peace with blessings—like the dew
Which falls on parched nature—would distill,
Their souls refreshing with abundant joys!

Change; History; Peace; SocietyCook’s visit was the prelude to a new,
Though seeming distant, era, in their page
Of blotted hist’ry, hitherto a blank,
As cut off from all knowledge of the world,
And social arts of peace! Change; Future; ReligionThat ancient who (3)
Of late departed life,—who in his youth
page 58“New Zealand Survey”: Page 58. Was witness to Cook’s visit, an event
Auspicious, though to all its full extent
He no conception had! Since, come to years,
He must have felt unbounded gratitude
To Providence, (when Him he learned to know),
And such a benefactor of his race,
After a lapse of years, to see what grand
Results his later progeny enjoyed!
No doubt, each circumstance oft in review
Passed through his mind, as Wonderoft he loved to tell
Of the heroic man of peace, and his
“Kaipuka”—his majestic looking ship—
As monarch of canoes; and how he felt
Sensations strange of wonder, and of awe
At such a sight; and War; Religionwell he could relate
Of fearful broils in which he had engaged
Since such a time, as savage manhood grew
Upon him, fond to shew himself for war
Courageous and expert, inflamed with zeal
To drink the blood of foes; but having learned
Some lessons, in his later years akin,
To sacred truth, impregnating his soul
With feelings of humanity, so now
The past has been abhorred, as he compared
Such times and scenes, with what he in old age
Has favored been to see!—a happy change!
And in such change rejoicing, satisfied
With such a glory shed upon his day!

ReligionAnd next to Cook, he could remember well
When dauntless rev’rend missionaries came
Amongst them, wild and savage though they were,
page 59“New Zealand Survey”: Page 59. Proclaiming mercy’s messsge to them, strange
To ev’ry thought accustomed to their minds;
He also could remember, how amazed
He felt, and thought it folly to believe,
At first, such tidings of the gospel grace,
Thus offered to the vilest like himself,—
Him, full of pride! and in degraded state!—
Much wondering how the Lord could be so kind!
So, could he testify of changes wrought
Upon his soul, when he began t’ abhor
His former life; and earnestly to strive
To make amends for errors; giving heed
Attentively to truths of heavenly love!
Such truths imbibing, so he felt their power,
When thirst for war had ceased his heart t’ inflame;
While ope’d his eyes to much he had to learn!
Peace; Society; Civilisation; FriendshipThen aimed he at the cherishing of peace,
And good will to his neighbours, now felt due!
Thus in the desert sweet refreshing springs
Began to flow,—the desolate to sing!
The change, to him, was blest felicity,
Compared to aught of former life endured!
While on his race, he saw the early rays
Of a new Sun arising,—even that
Of Righteousness—and peace, dispelling quite
That darkness, which enveloped all the past;
While introducing a new day of grace!

What happy feelings must he have enjoy’d
At length, when tottering on the verge of time,
To learn the worth of social, civil, life;
While civilized society the hand
page 60“New Zealand Survey”: Page 60. Of friendship him extended, and indulged
His rev’rend age with comforts erst unknown;
And highly favoured truly was his lot
’Bove many equals, must he then have felt,
If e’er such promise he in early life
Received;—“That light upon his darken’d state
Would yet arise!”—next, see it on the eve
Of being realized, when prospects bright
Have dawn’d,—nay ris’n, to bless his future race;
Who are as passing from death’s darken’d vale,
Emerging into life and cheering light!—
Ah, yes! he could not but feel gratified,
At the fulfillment of the promise given,
When bidding earthly cares and toils farewell!

But still reverting to those savage times
When double darkness may be said t’ have reign’d;
Land; Commerce; Work; War; Oppression; ColonyCould this unhappy people, as they were,
Be called the true possessors of the soil?
Their occupancy never seemed secure;
And dread debarred their aiming to improve
In cultivation’s art, or ev’n t’ extend
Their labours more than served a present need;
Or what some exigency might demand!
But not for social intercourse in trade
Among their neighb’ring tribes; for jealousy
Debarr’d such efforts, lest they’d fall a prey
To lawless lust; and, as their wants were few,
So even these with little must be met;
Unless it were when plund’ring was the rule!

The wilderness remained an idle waste!
The land was uninhabited, while those,
page 61“New Zealand Survey”: Page 61. Who should have own’d it, set themselves the more
To make it doubly desolate by wars,
Whose nature was t’ exterminate and waste!
So that whole tribes, by others more of power,
Have butcher’d been, their places left a blank!—
A lawless land!—a den of anarchy!
It might have well been called—without defence
Against the grasp of avaricious powers
That might have seized it, while without remorse
The natives dooming to hard slavery,
If not t’ extermination; as the kite,
In fable told, pounced on contending frogs,
When both were losers, in one common woe!
Peace; Colony; Empire; Civilisation; Science; SocietyBut otherwise, by a kind Providence,
Has been ordained their welfare to secure; (4)
For as the land, in peace, could not have rest
By those to whom at first it was bestowed,
Another race of gen’rous temp’rament,
And skill sagacious, coming from afar
Must gain possession, not by violence,
But by true purchase: both remun’rative
In price, and in advantages to flow
From civ’lization’s intercourse, the best!
And whose experience, in field culture’s art,
Will shew them how they to account might turn
Those principles of comfort, long inert,
Found richly to exist in such a clime;
And who would shew, “How good to cultivate
The social arts of peace;”—a blessing long
A perfect blank upon their history’s page,
As if it never could existence have,
page 62“New Zealand Survey”: Page 62. Or, be to expectation hopeless still!

Thus ’mid the revolution of events,
When Time, in passing, as a courier acts,
Dispensing from his budget wonderous things,
Or mercies great, on earth to comfort man;
Religion; Empire; Colony; NationSo has New Zealand favoured been at length
Of being recognised, a place on which
A dispensation good might be bestow’d!—
While, guided by a Power, that’s oft ignored
By many, who to scepticism are prone,
Have enterprizing Britain sent her sons
Themselves t’ establish here; another germ,
Of some great future nation to implant,
Britannia’s institutions to extend;
As if that Power who rules,—and overrules
The world’s affairs by man himself,—had chosen
This agent, best some purpose to fulfil,
As tending to the happiness of all;
Thus to Britannia’s guardianship is giv’n
New Zealand, where a nation may be reared
To prove “a Britain” of the Southern Seas!
As grows the babe in health, and strength, and gives
Good promise yet to see maturity;
So does it feel an impulse to excel,
As worthy such a guardian’s fost’ring care!

Change; Nature; Joy; Work; LandAs ’mid the revolution of events,
Old Nature’s aspect wild must be transformed,
And fresh resources be developed, where
Such seemingly once no existence had!
So now we see the work of bliss begun,
Appearances display a wonderous change
page 63“New Zealand Survey”: Page 63. Upon surrounding scenes, in clearing’s new,
Like Melancholy’s glooms transformed to smiles;
Yea smiles of promise and realities
Conjoin’d, the fruits of hardy enterprize,
And well aimed energy, in bushmen’s toils,
Who thus take hold upon the country wild,
Subduing it to new fertility!
Civilisation; Māori; Friendship; ChangeThe nativestoo, are happy and at peace,
Where terror once had reigned! (5) With heart and hand
Appreciating civilization’s lore,
To their new friends they bid God-speed, and join
Improvement’s march—all zealous to pursue
Th’ advantages held out, “a worthy prize,”
The more contested for, the more esteemed!—

Māori; Colony; War; PeaceBut shall the time arrive when foul distrust
Shall take possession of the Native’s heart,
And there arouse cupidity and strife,
Forgetful of advantages enjoy’d
From friendly intercourse of settlers round;
That war must interrupt the course of peace,
And sorrows consequent on all to bring?
Peace is the gen’ral order of the day
With British hearts; and war their strangest work!
But when to war they must arise, it is
To bring good order from confusion’s mess;
Not to exterminate with ruthless ire,
Like that of savage breed, but to subdue
Th’ unruly, and such to repentance bring!
If Natives will indulge a thirst for war
To them ’twill be like some relapsed disease
After some hopeful signs, toward a cure,
page 64“New Zealand Survey”: Page 64. Which sad relapse would only end in death!—
Ev’n so their love of war would on themselves
Bring retribution just, and disrespect,
Self punished, and mistaken in their aims!—
Still such may be—Civilisationfor corrupt passions oft
Will in rebellion rise ’gainst reason’s reign;
So civilization, from barbarity,
Is sure to meet some opposition, which
May check its progress, and annoyance give;
’Tis thus an evil principle that’s held
In check, will ever battle to be free;
Free to destroy that peaceful righteous cause
Which providence ordain’d should rule o’er all;
And which vile principle to be subdued,
Must be as firmly grappled with, to keep
It under; Prosperity; Peace; Religion; Change; Future; Work; Past; Homeso that virtue well might reign
The source of all prosperity and peace!

The ultimate design of providence
In peopling earth, subduing desert wilds,
Is now in progress; where a clearing’s formed,
A good beginning’s seen, prelusively
Of happier events to be brought forth,
Though still in future hid; as harvests good,
Of plenteous return, are the results
Of industry in spring; so future things
Indicative of great events to come
In the still further future, are results
Of small beginnings buried in the past!
Thus ev’ry humble effort that’s put forth
In such a wilderness, to make a home,
That effort bears its own proportion to
page 65“New Zealand Survey”: Page 65. The future history of the country’s weal!
Government; Peace; Prosperity; ChangeWhen, over all, in universal sway
Shall peace and plenty mutually reign!
However such a state may be desired,
’Tis but as embryo—imperfect yet,
And will be, through a long progressive stage,
Until that time appointed has arrived!
But as at first, “the earth must be subdued!”
So the command is still imperative
For ev’ry such a country, wild as this,
Through generations all, as the first step
Of man’s advancement to a higher sphere;
While, even there, his rudimental task
Begins,—but who can tell where such may end!
Work; Change; Civilisation’Tis by the work of a progressive toil,
Which perseverance only must maintain,
Ere to account this forest land is turned:
Long has it shaded been by lofty trees
From th’ influence of the sun! Nor has it been
Yet subject to the cultivator’s skill
For use; but lying waste, it has brought forth
Aught, save what may of civilized life,
Or human comfort tell!Work; Prosperity; LandYet there are here,
In timber large, the means of fair employ,
To bring to market, such, reduced to shape
Fit for the builder’s use; or other craft
Of neater work, as furnishings for homes,
Remunerative to the man of toil,—
But the chief aim is, to subdue the land,
By the strong arm of industry, and bring
From nature’s secret treasures, such rewards
page 66“New Zealand Survey”: Page 66. As amply would remunerate his pains,—
Morality; ProsperityYea such rewards, akin to virtue’s own,
Adapted to man’s nature, are still best
T’ encourage him in the advancement of
His moral faculties; ev’n be he sage
Or of the savage race, the while he aims
T’ increase his temp’ral interests of life,
And lays the best foundation, upon which,
His progeny their fortunes sure may build!

Work; Colony; Suffering; JoyYe pioneers! who thus have ventured on
A life of hardihood, and ample toil,
“Have courage!” be not flagging in your aims;
Though much there is before you, that bespeaks
Hard labor without end, as fain to mar
One’s perseverance; yet, before you lie
Rewards to be obtained! Fresh courage take!
’Tis manly still to cope with trials; and
To overcome them with true energy,
Is victory worthy praise, in which much joy
May be experienced with exalted mind;
Work; Education; MoralityConvinced that self-reliance is a gem
Worth all the jewels in a monarch’s crown!
Your’s is the task of reformations great,
Although such may be hard to be perceived,
Not only on this land, but on your race,
While training them by good example, which
Says more than precept ever could enforce,
To industry and hardihood, which scorns
All idleness, and every want defies!
While happy circumstances,—your rewards—
Shall them surround, imparting mutual joy!
page 67“New Zealand Survey”: Page 67. While such reflected on the native tribes—
As when the planets pour reflected light
Upon the earth;—Morality; Society; Warso shall your virtues shine,
Enkindling in their hearts new ardours, once
Unknown, to their affections, serving all
To melt the savage nature, purging off
Th’ impurities of degredation’s dross;
Refining them to social life and peace!
Such blest achievements, gaining ground, at length
E’en after you have done with earthly things,
Shall be like sounds of praise re-echoed far,
And to posterity your virtues tell! (6)
Memory; PerceptionWhat though your names by some ungrateful race
Should be forgot, your works shall testify
Of your brave hardihood, and never be
Obliterated, while the earth endures
As your memorial, which may still condemn
The idly foolish, who might scorn your toils
As useless; while such will declare how much
Ye should in due rememb’rance be esteemed!
Go on! nor e’er supinely yield to cares;
These may afflict, as progress to retard;
But let brave spirits triumph o’er them all!
Nation; Colony; Future; HistoryYour works shall shew where virtue claims to dwell
While musing o’er the past; for as in yore
The founders of a nation have been held
In awful veneration; so may you
Brave pioneers! of futute greatness, be
In th’ annals of the country held endeared!

end of the poem.