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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lieut.-Governor King To The Right Hon. Henry Dundas

Lieut.-Governor King To The Right Hon. Henry Dundas.

Norfolk Island, 19th November, 1793.


On the 8th instant most of the preceding letters, which I have the honor of forwarding by this conveyance, being finished, and the wind having set in at north with the new moon, which is a certain indication of its continuing in that quarter for some days, and as the two New Zealanders had frequently expressed an anxious wish to return to their native country, in which they have been thrice disappointed, I thought the present a very favourable opportunity to second their wishes.

I have already had the honor of observing that every instruction they were capable of giving us in manufacturing the flax-plant was acquired in one hour. On considering the manner in which they were taken from their friends, and their great uneasiness to get back again, joined to the probable advantages that may arise to these colonies by their again mixing with their friends, to whom I am certain they will recount in the warmest terms of gratitude the tender and kind treatment they met with here from every description of people, determined me to make use of the present opportunity, as it might be some time before so favourable a one might present itself again.

It being the master of the Britannia’s intention to pursue his route to Bengal between the south end of Mindanao and Borneo, and as the eastern monsoon is not well set in or attended with good weather in those seas before December or January, I concluded that a fortnight’s detention would make no material difference in her voyage. I therefore consulted with the master of the ship, and gave him directions to proceed on that service.

These natives of New Zealand—named Woodoo and Tookee—had been captured by Lieutenant Hanson, in charge of the Dædalus, acting under instructions from Vancouver (p. 160). By Lieutenant Hanson they were taken to Port Jackson, and shipped, at the direction of Lieutenant-Governor Grose, to Norfolk Island, in the Shah Hormuzear, on the 24th April, 1793. They remained on the island until conveyed back to New Zealand, as explained by King in the above despatch. Collins gives a lengthy description of these natives; see his Account, vol. i, p. 519 et seq.

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I always had a wish to see my two friends safe landed in their native country, that I might be assured of no unpleasant circumstances happening in the course of their passage, to make them forget the kind treatment they had met with here. My being absent from the island at this time for a fortnight would not be of any material consequence, particularly as it will be three weeks before the harvest commences. I did not think myself justifiable in leaving the command of the settlement on this island to the subaltern who commanded the detachment doing duty here, when a captain on full pay belonging to the New South Wales Corps was on the spot. The nature of the service I was going on did not preclude the possibility of accidents happening to me, and there being only three subalterns stationed here, no court-martial could be held or offenders punished, which was a principal reason for my requesting Captain Nepean to take the command of this island during my absence, which he very readily complied with. Considering him as an officer liable to be called into service (altho’ going home on leave), and the necessity of the case appearing to me to render such a step necessary, I gave Captain Nepean an order to take upon him the charge and command of the settlements on this island during my intended absence, a copy of which order, with my order to the master of the Britannia to proceed on that service, with his journal, I have the honor to enclose.

The persons (as per margin*), with what few articles I could collect together as presents to my friends, being embarked, on the evening of the 8th instant we sailed from Norfolk Island, and in the afternoon of the 12th we rounded the north cape of New Zealand. The wind during the passage, altho’ favourable, was light, with some calms of short duration. At the extremity of the cape we saw a number of houses, and soon after opened a considerable hippah, or fortified place, situated on a hill just within the cape, from whence six boats were seen coming to the ship. As soon as they came within hail, Tookee was instantly recognised by most of the natives. The boats were now encreased to seven, with upwards of twenty men in each. They instantly came alongside, and most of the natives came on board, embracing and shedding tears of joy over Tookee, whose first and earnest enquiry was after his parents, family, and chief. On those heads he obtained the most satisfactory information from a woman, who he informed us is a near relation of his mother’s. His father and chief were still inconsolable for his loss. The latter (Moo-de-wye), who Tookee has always men-

* The Rev. Jas. Bain, Mr. Thos. Jamison, Mr. W. N. Chapman, two New Zealanders, two non-commissioned officers, twelve privates, and one convict.

page 171 tioned
in the most affectionate manner, was about a fortnight ago on a visit to the chief of the hippah above described, where he remained four days; and Te-wy-te-wy, the principal chief of Tookee’s district (Ho-do-do), was daily expected. This information gave Tookee great joy. It was remarked that altho’ there were upwards of one hundred and fifty people on board and alongside, Tookee confined his caresses and conversation to his relation and the chiefs, who were distinguished from the rest by the marks (Amoko) on their faces, and by the respectful deference which was shewn them by the Emokis (working-men), who at times they beat most unmercifully. To those chiefs who Tookee informed me were only Epodis (vizt., subaltern chiefs), and were well known to him, I gave presents of axes and other articles. A traffic was carried on with a scrupulous honesty on both sides; iron hoops and other articles were exchanged for abundance of manufactured flax, mantles, patoo-patoos, spears, &c. At seven in the evening the canoes left us, and we made sail with a light breeze at west, intending to run for the Bay of Islands (near which place Tookee lives), which was now twenty four leagues distant from the ship. At nine o’clock a canoe with four men came alongside, and altho’ those people could not have known our friends were on board, yet they came into the ship without any hesitation; they had only a few fish to dispose of. The master of the ship being desirous to get their canoe, the bargain was soon concluded (with Tookee’s help), much to the natives’ satisfaction; nor did they discover the least reluct ance or apprehension at sleeping on board all night, and being carried to Ho-do-do, for which place we were then steering. Our new guests very satisfactorily corroborated all which Tookee had heard before respecting his family, friends, and the amity that subsisted between the tribes of Ho-do-do and Moode-whenna, the district to which they belonged. In relating the news of the country since Tookee’s departure, they gave an account of the T’Souduckey tribe having made an irruption into Woodoo’s country (Teer-a-witte), and killed the son of Pove-reek, his chief, and thirty warriors. Woodoo, who was present, burst into a flood of tears, and retired into a corner of the cabin, where he wept most bitterly. No great progress was made during the night, owing to calms. At six in the morning a number of canoes were seen coming from the hippah, in the largest of which were thirty-six men, and a chief in white, making signals with great earnestness. They soon came alongside, and Tookee was enquired for, when to his great joy he recognised Ko-to-ko-ke, the Eti-keti-ca, a principal chief of the hippah, who came on board and hung over Tookee, shedding the tears of affection and joy for his unexpected meeting. Tookee then page 172 introduced him to me, and after the ceremony of etrouge (joining noses) he took off his ha-a-how (which I have the honor to forward in the box) and put it on my shoulders. In return, I made him a present of an ha-a-how made of green baize decorated with broad arrows. Soon after seven other canoes, with upwards of twenty men and women in each, came on board, when the decks were so full of New Zealanders that it became necessary to keep them off the poop, which was effected by the ceremony of etapoo.* What they brought to dispose of was purchased in a manner equally honorable on both sides, nor was there any attempt made to defraud or purloin the least article.
Before Ko-to-ko-ke came on board, I asked Tookee whether he would go back to Norfolk Island or land at Moode-whenna, in case of its continuing calm or the wind coming from the south ward, which there was an appearance of. Tookee was extremely averse to either. His reasons for not wishing to land at Moodewhenna were that the persons who gave him the information were only Epodis and Emokis, and who might be suspected of not telling the truth, and that if the ship did not go to Ho-do-do he would be prevented from sending some marks of his esteem and love to his friends at Norfolk Island. Nothing more was said about it, and it was my determination to land him at Ho-do-do, if it could be done in the day, although it was now a perfect calm. Soon after Ko-to-ko-ke came on board all Tookee’s and Woodoo’s apprehensions vanished, and they told me with tears of joy that they wished to go with the old chief, who had confirmed all they had heard before, and promised to take them to Ho-do-do the next morning, where they would arrive by night. The next wind (after the calm) predicted by the New Zealanders was to be a southerly one. To wait the event of the calm or the wind might have detained the ship some days before we could think of returning, as the Bay of Islands, near which place Tookee lives, was twenty-four leagues to the southward of the ship. Could I have reached that place in four days after I left Norfolk Island I should most certainly have gone there. That not being the case (this being the sixth day) I did not think myself justifiable in detaining the ship longer than was absolutely necessary. Notwithstanding the information we were in possession of, and the confidence Tookee put in the old chief, I felt much anxiety about them, and expressed my doubts to Tookee that what he had heard might be an invention of Ko-to-ko-ke and his people to get him in their power, and that I would much rather take them back and wait for another opportunity than

* By this ceremony all but the old chief were forbidden to come within a prescribed area. In this case the poop was the forbidden ground.— (Collins, vol. i, p. 527.) The word is also spelt “eta-boo.“

page 173 put them in the power of suspicious people. To this Tookee answered with an honest confidence that an Eti-ke-ti-ca never told an untruth or deceived, and that he wished to go with Ko-to-ko-ke. I then took the old chief, with Tookee and Woodoo, into the cabin, when I explained to him (with Tookee’s help) how much I was interested in my friends getting safe home, and showed him a present I had made up for him, and enumerated a considerable one which Tookee would give the people who paddled the canoe in which he was to go to Ho-do-do the next morning. I also told him that in two or three moons I should return and go to Ho-do-do. If I found Tookee and Woodoo were safe arrived with their effects, I should then return to Moodoo-whenna, and make him some very considerable presents, which I also enumerated. I was so well convinced of the old man’s sincerity that I considered it injurious to threaten him with punishment for failing in his engagement. The only answer the old man made was by putting both his hands to the sides of my head (making me do the same to him) and joining our noses, in which position we remained three minutes, the chief muttering in a very earnest manner what I did not understand, after which he went through the same ceremony with Tookee and Woodoo, which ended with a dance, when they embraced me and said that Ko-to-ko-ke was now become their father, and would in person conduct them to Tookee’s residence. Whilst I was busied in getting ready what I meant to give them (which fell very short of what they would have had if I had been able to land them at their homes), Tookee (who I am now convinced is a priest) had made a circle of four chiefs round him, in the centre of which was Ko-to-ko-ke and several of the rest, listening with great attention to the account he was giving of Norfolk Island. On telling them it was only three days’ sail from Moo-doo-whenna he was not satisfied with the assertion, but carried a cabbage to them, which he informed them was gathered five days ago in my garden. This produc’d a general shout of admiration. Everything being now arranged and ready for their departure, Tookee and Woodoo requested, on the part of Ko-to-ko-ke, that the soldiers might exercise and fire, and that one of the great guns might also be fired. This I could have no objection to, as the request came from him, but I thought it necessary to take that opportunity to explain to the chief (thro’ Tookee) that he might see by our conduct to him and his countrymen that our wish and intention was to be good neigh bours and friends with all Ea-hei-no-mane, and that those weapons were never used but when we were injured, which I hoped would never happen. I also thought it necessary to add that no other motive than gratifying his wish could induce me to shew him what page 174 those instruments were intended for. All the natives, to the ber of one hundred and fifty, were seated on one side of the deck, the old chief keeping himself seated between may legs. The detachment were paraded on the opposite side of the deck, and fired three rounds after having gone through the manual. A great gun was then fired loaded with grape. This surprized them greatly, particularly the old chief, who I made notice the distance the shot fell from the ship.

The wind had now the appearance of coming from the southward, and the chief was anxious to get away, as that wind throws a great surf on the shore, there being no harbour there. Tookee and Woodoo now took an affectionate leave of every person, and made me remember my promise of returning to see them in two or three moons, when they would return to Norfolk Island with their families. The old chief, after having taken great pains to pronounce my name properly, and made me well acquainted with his name, took leave and left us, when they were saluted by the officers and every person on board with three cheers. In two hours after a breeze sprung up from the northward, with which we stood to the eastward, and after a passage of five days from New Zealand, and ten days’ absence from hence, I landed on the 18th instant and resumed the government.

I shall not trespass on your patience, sir, with any remarks on the New Zealanders, as the little intercourse I had with them did not enable me to form any opinion about them; but if they bear but a small proportion to the amiable dispositions of our two friends, they certainly are a people with whom a good understanding might be easily cultivated with common prudence and precaution. I regret very much that the service which the Britannia is engaged on (that of going for provisions for the colony) did not permit me to detain her longer to make such observations respecting the inhabitants and the quantity of manufactured flax which might be obtain’d, circumstances which I am confident would be of great utility to commerce if better known.

In the box No. 2, I have the honor to forward samples of the New Zealand flax in its manufactured state—an ha-a-how (or mantle of that country) and fishing-lines, made and used by the New Zealanders; also samples of the manufactured flax from the flax-plant growing here (and which, on comparing it, is the same as the New Zealand flax-plant), which grows in such abundance and superior luxuriance on Norfolk Island, together with a specimen of the canvas made from it on this island.

What articles I was not provided with to give the New Zealanders I requested the master of the Britannia to supply me with at a fair valuation; and as the time I had to get ready page 175 was so very short, I neither embarked stock to supply the New Zealanders or provisions for the people I took with me, both which he has supplied me with, and for the payment of which I have directed the Deputy-Commissary to draw on the Right Hon’ble the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury, and to transmit proper vouchers to their Lordships’ secretaries, copies of which I have the honor to enclose. Two female and one he goats, which were intended to be given to Tookee, unfortunately died on the passage.*

I have to acknowledge the satisfaction I experienced on my resuming the government to find that everything had been conducted with the greatest propriety during my absence.

Should any part of my conduct not be approved of in the proceedings which I have had the honor to state, I hope my zeal for wishing to forward his Majesty’s service and to convey useful information will offer some excuse in my favour.

I have, &c.,

Philip Gidley King.

* The presents given to the New Zealanders by King were—“Handaxes; a small assortment of carpenters’ tools; six spades; some hoes; with a few knives, scissors, and razors; two bushels of maize; one of wheat; two of pease, and a quantity of garden seeds; ten young sows, and two boars, which Tookee and the chief faithfully promised should be preserved for breeding. ″—Collins, vol. i, p. 531.

The Duke of Portland, in his despatch to Governor Hunter of 10th June, 1795 (post, p. 201), expressed, but in very mild terms, his disapproval of King’s conduct in quitting the island before he had communicated with Lieutenant-Governor Grose.