Maoria: A Sketch of the Manners and Customs of the Aboriginal Inhabitants of New Zealand.
The second Maori romance which claims our notice is written by Captain J. C. Johnstone, late of the Bengal Army, whose preface is dated at Te Haroto, near Auckland. His book, which, like "Ena," is a single volume, is entitled Maoria: A Sketch of the Aboriginal Inhabitants of New Zealand (Chapman and Hall). Its style is rather better, as it is simpler and easier, than that of Mr. George Wilson's tale. The scene of action is on the west coast of the North Island, at a Maori pah or fortified village called Ngutukaka, near the mouth of the Waitebuna river, which we cannot find in the map of New Zealand. War among the native tribes, as in the story of "Ena," without the intervention of European arms or intrigues, gives occasion for the wild deeds and adventures presented here. The aged Ariki, or chief of the Ngatiroa, Te Au Te Rangi (a nobly sonorous name), has three lovely granddaughters—cousins, of course, to each other. Of these maidens Ora and Tui are to us the most interesting; yet Hira is also an attractive girl. The tohunga, or sanctified public conjuror, in the community, is a clever impostor named Ngawhare; the hero, or true king of men, is Karaka, the old chief's bravest and ablest son. Captain Johnstone has contrived to show us many particulars of Maori domestic life and manners. The fishing, the boating, the collecting of edible fern root, and preparing it for food; the method of cooking it by steam, in a closed pit where water has been poured upon heated stones; the making of canoes, the building of huts, and weaving of flax into cloth; the laborious earthworks and palisades, to fortify the steep ascent of their inhabited cliffs and crags; these branches of native industry are very exactly described. The practice of cannibalism, which must be admitted to be a drawback on the admirable qualities of the Maori race, is but incidentally referred to. The author draws a veil over the scene at these horrid feasts of human flesh. We do not like to think of the pensive Ora and the playful Tui, those sweet young Maori women, as kind and gentle as their sex in our own land, partaking of a slice or picking a bone at such inhuman banquets. The fate of Ora, as the victim of malignant enchantment, is very sad. That of pretty, winsome Tui, though she is wedded to Matuku, the man of her choice, is a mournful end to the story, with the capture of their village fortress by the merciless Rarawa, and the extermination of their people. The stratagem of the besiegers' feigned retreat, and of the factitious whale stranded in the shallow bay, to cover their secret return, is one which reminds us of the ancient tale of Troy.