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Historical Records of New Zealand

Captain Reynolds to Earl Bathurst

Captain Reynolds to Earl Bathurst.

New Zealanders. Liverpool, April 18th, 1825.

My Lord,—

The purport of this is to inform you more particularly about Tippahe Cupa, a chief of New Zealand who came to England in the Urania, under my command, from that country. As I was passing through Cooks Streights on the 26th February, 1824, I was becalmed about 5 or 6 miles from the land, when I perceived three canoes, full of savages, coming towards the ship. I then prepared the ship ready for action. The grand war-canoe then came within hale, and by motions I made them understand to keep off. This chief (Tippahe Cupa) shewed every sign of peace, and I perceived shortly after they were all peaceably inclined.

This chief in his great war-canoe, came close alongside, which I could not prevent unless I had fired into them; and if I had, a great deal of mischief might have been done. The man jumped on board naked (except a matt over his body, page 636 leaving the remainder of his dress in the canoe), and made signs for arms, and I gave him to understand that I had none to give him, and then he gave me to understand that he would stay on board, and go to Europe, and see King George, which words he pronounced plain enough to be understood. I then ordered him to go into his canoe again, but he had ordered her off, and would not allow her to come near the ship. I attempted to heave him overboard, so as the canoes might pick him up. But he, perceiving my design, put it out of my power. A breeze at that time springing up, he ordered all the canoes to leave the ship and return to the shore, and told them he was going to Europe, and that he would soon return again (as he hath told me since). The next day I attempted to put him on shore near the eastern mouth of Cooks Streights, and in so doing I only just escaped loosing the ship; therefore I was obliged, much against my inclination, but to his satisfaction, to make sail and leave the island for my port of destination, Lima. I might perhaps have kept the canoes off if I had fired into them, but I did not wish to commence hostilities, for the good of England at large, having a desire that England might stand high in their ideas, and likewise that English ships hereafter might find protection in case of distress in some of the fine harbours that lye open to receive ships of any size sailing in these seas. And I am certain that if this man gets out again safe (as he is the first chief from the south end of the Island of New Zealand that ever came to England), and get supplied with all the necessary articles that he wants, it will be the saving of many men’s lives should they ever visit these parts, or caught in a gale of wind and be obliged to run for a harbour in that part of the island. This man, when he came on board, was a complete savage; but I have taken a great deal of pains with him to civilize him, for when I was in Lima he lived with me on shore, where ever I went he went with me, he lived on shore with me at Monte Vedio and Buenos Ayres, and all the time he was on board he lived at my table, and I cloathed him, and hath kept him cloathed in European fashion ever since he came under my care. He has been a very heavy expence to me these last 13 months, and I could not help myself in no way, but by firing into their canoes, which I would not do, for the good of others who might sail in those seas. The man is now cevelized, and is become quite tractable, and his partiality for me is great. I told him the other day that Mr. Huskinson had wrote to G. B. Brown, Esq., residing here, to take care of him, and he said that if he was seperated from me before he got a passage out again he would put an end to his existance, which I verily believe he would. His affection for me is very great. Since I arrived in England page 637 His New Zealand Majesty hath been very ill. I have had doctors attending him, and I have had him vaccined for the cow-pox, for fear of his catching that dreadful complaint the small poc. He is now perfectly recovered, and in a good state of health, and living with me. I therefore hope, under all these circumstances, that Government will remunerate me for the very heavy expence that I have unavoidably been at since he came under my care, and as he is so much attatched to me, and I feeling an affectionate regard for him during his stay in this country, which would contribute much to his happiness and comfort, for I have learnt a little of his language, and without me he would be destitute and miserable, and as I have before said, I could not be answerable for the consequences of his being seperated from me at this time. But there would be no difficulty in our seperation on his going on shipboard and finally leaving me for his own country. He can therefore live with me until an opportunity offers of getting him a passage from hence, or if an opportunity offers sooner from London I can come up with him and see him take his departure from thence. He has made no progress in the English language, altho’ when he first came on board he distinctly mentioned King George and Europe. The district where he presides as chief is on the south end of the North Island of New Zealand, near Entry Island, Cooks Streights.

I am, &c.,

R. K. Reynolds

Commander Ship Urania, Care of G. B. Brown, Esq., Merchant, Water Street, Liverpool.