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Historical Records of New Zealand

Mr. McDonald’s Evidence

Mr. McDonald’s Evidence.

Questions. Answers.
Q. You are a native of New Holland? A. I am. I was born at Parramatta about twenty-seven years ago.
Q. Are your parents alive? A. They are not.
Q. How long have you been in the sea service? A. About seven or eight years.
Q. In that period what service have you been engaged in? A. I served under Mr. Grone and I have served also Messrs. Riley and Jones in sealing voyages.
Q. What places did you go to to catch the seals? A. Off the West Cape of New Zealand and the South East Cape. I was also to Campbell’s Island.page 559
Q. What is the usual time of taking seals? A. There are two seasons. The best season for taking seals for the China market is when the pups are six months old. This is in April. The other season is about Christmas, when the females come to the males.
Q. Are the seals yet very plentiful off New Zealand? A. They are in the bays, and may be caught if you are in a small vessel about 120 or 200 tons that can weather the coast.
Q. Is any expense incurred in fitting out a sealing vessel? A. I know of no other expense than knives and steels and salt to cure the skins. Those skins that are intended for the China market are dried on shore by laying them out with pegs on the shore. The skins intended for the English market are cured with salt.
Q. Is any oil obtained from the seals, and in what quantity? A. There is. A pup seal will give about 2 gallons more or less. A wig, that is an old male seal, will yield 5 or 6 gallons.
Q. How long are the vessels generally out on their sealing voyages? A. The first voyage I was out seventeen months on the coast of New Zealand.
Q. What part of the coast were you upon? A. Chiefly upon the east side and the south east.
Q. Did you land on the west side? A. Very frequently.
Q. Are there many harbours there? A. Several very good ones, and some very deep.
Q. Was there much wood growing upon the sides of the harbours? A. All covered with wood.
Q. Of what sort? A. Of white and red pine and a wood called “black oak.“
Q. Is it of the species called “kaikatua“? A. It is.
Q. Did you see any of the species called “cowrie“? A. I did not.
Q. Did you see many natives? A. I only saw three, and they had been cast away. On the east coast there were very few natives.
Q. Did you go to the Bay of Islands during your voyage? A. No, we did not. We were afraid to go there on account of the natives. We went to Banks’ Island, and staid a fortnight.
Q. Did the natives visit your vessel? A. They did, and traded with us for potatoes and mats.page 560
Q. What was the name of the vessel you were in? A. The Governor Bligh.
Q. Was it a colonial vessel? A. She was. She was built by A. Thompson. She now belongs to Messrs. Riley and Jones, and is on a sealing voyage at present.
Q. How many men did she carry? A. The first voyage we had sixteen, the second we had twenty.
Q. Of these sailors how many were native born? A. Three were of Port Jackson, the rest were English.
Q. What wages did you receive? A. The first voyage I went out on the 75th lay. The English sailors who had been on sealing voyages before were on the 60th. This means one skin out of every 75th.
Q. What price did you obtain for the skins when you returned to Sidney? A. Five shillings per skin. At present I believe they are 8 shillings, a skin.
Q. What wages were you offered on the last voyage that you were to have engaged in for Messrs. Riley and Jones? A. The 65th lay.
Q. Do you recollect how many skins you took in the first voyage? A. We took 11,500 and upwards.
Q. Do you believe that the skins are becoming scarce on the coast of New Zealand? A. I do not. They only require to be well sought after.
Q. Did you cut any wood when you were on those voyages? A. We cut logs of the red and white pine and brought them to Sidney, when Mr. Grone cut them up to make boats for the ship’s use.
Q. Were they used for topmasts and yards? A. Yes, they were.
Q. Did they stand well? A. They did.
Q. Whereabouts do the red and white pine trees grow? A. The white pine grows in wet swampy places. The red pine grows on the sides of hills.
Q. Is the red pine like the cowrie? A. It is the same grain, but not the same color.
Q. Did any emancipated men from N. S. Wales ever accompany you on these voyages? A. One ticket-of-leave man did, the master being under penalties to bring him back.
Q. Did he bring him back? A. He did.
Q. On leaving Port Jackson on these voyages, were the crews mustered at Mr. Campbell’s office? A. They were.page 561
Q. Were the vessels searched by the constables? A. They were.
Q. At what time were they searched? A. When the anchor was up they were searched. Some constable remained on board till we got to the Sow and Pigs.
Q. Where and how were you concealed on the brig General Gates* when she sailed from Port Jackson in July, 1819? A. I was wrapped up in a sail which was laid upon the cable forwards in the ship’s hold and within the forecastle bulkhead.
Q. Where were the other men? A. They were on the opposite side of the ship, and divided from the side where I was by bread casks.
Q. Were the bulkheads nailed up after you were put into this place? A. They were.
Q. Did the constables come and search on the day the ship went down the harbour? A. I do not believe they did. I did not hear them.
Q. Where were the baggage and cases of the missionaries and Mr. Marsden put? A. They were put into the hold.
Q. Did you see them when they were taken out at New Zealand and when you arrived at the Bay of Islands? A. I did. I helped to take them out.
Q. Of what did they consist? A. Furniture, axes, spades, hoes, tomahawks, &c.
Q. Did you observe any gunpowder amongst these things? A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. Any muskets? A. I did not see any.
Q. Had Captain Riggis any gunpowder on board? A. He had about six or seven barrels of gunpowder.
Q. Did he sell any of this to the natives when he was at New Zealand? A. He did; and muskets, too.
Q. What did he get for them? A. Pigs and potatoes.
Q. What did he get for a musket? A. He got 18 pigs for a musket and some powder with it.
Q. Did Captain Riggis deal with the missionaries when he was at New Zealand? A. He did. One of the missionaries purchased some rum of him, and Captain Riggis let one of them have two barrels of gunpowder. I took them over from our side of the bay named Roni Roni, to the place where the missionaries live on the other side.page 562
Q. Did you go to the house to deliver the gunpowder? A. No, I did not myself, but I saw it taken out of the boat and carried on shore up to the house.
Q. Are you certain that you did not observe any barrels of the kind you have just described amongst the goods and baggage of the missionaries that were taken out of the General Gates? A. No, I did not.
Q. Was the brig made into a ship when she remained at New Zealand? A. She was, and a mizzen mast was obtained from the missionaries.

* This was the American vessel that was detained by Capt. J. Rimer, of the Dromedary, for taking away convicts.