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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Futile Effort to Regain Child

Futile Effort to Regain Child

Determined to get custody of his son Ned, Delamere arranged with the master of a coastal craft to kidnap the lad, who was then about seven years old. After the skipper had been on shore at Whitianga on several occasions, he settled in his mind which lad was Ned, and enticed him on board by promising to take him to see his father. However, by supposing that, at Maraenui (the next port of call), the residents belonged to another tribe, he fell into a serious error. Ned was recognised there and had to be given up. The father never resettled in the Bay of Plenty. Ned was in his nineties when he died, and his wife, Ngarou, was credited with passing the century.

Whalers all along the coast from Whangaparaoa to Mahia experienced a peak year in 1874. Scarcely a day passed without a school of whales being seen. In one week Henare Potae's crews secured four big whales, one of which yielded seven tuns of oil. So heavy was the yield at Mahia that all the available casks were soon filled and, although canoes and various kinds of domestic receptacles were also requisitioned, trying-out had to be halted until a further supply of casks could be obtained.

Whilst Major Ropata was being tried by a runanga for trespassing on Waipiro block to shoot birds, the proceedings were interrupted by loud shouting outside the meeting-place. A boat in pursuit of a whale had come into sight. Ropata saw that the boat was proceeding in the direction of his home, and he protested: “When will the boat stop? There are boundaries on the sea as well as on the land! “As a sequel to his action in laying this complaint, he was not fined. Narrating the incident in the Native Land Court (Waiapu minute book, No. 16), he admitted that he had said that, if his party had been attacked, he would have slain its assailants. “But,” he added, “I did not also say that I would have cooked and eaten them. At that time the cooking of people had gone out of fashion.”