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Historical Records of New Zealand

Governor King to Earl Camden.†

Governor King to Earl Camden.

Sydney, New South Wales, 30th April, 1805.

My Lord,—

I am happy to communicate to your Lordship that, exclusive of the accompanying duplicates of my correspondence with Colonel Paterson by letters of a more recent date, I find his former accounts of the good prospect he has, not only confirmed, but expressing the most sanguine ideas of the settlement he has formed at Port Dalrymple fulfilling His Majesty’s intention in directing that settlement to be made, as directed in my Lord Hobart’s despatch of June 24th, 1803.

Your Lordship will observe the supplies that have been furnished from hence, and when that settlement is so fortunate as to receive the cows contracted for with Mr. Campbell, it will wear a more promising appearance than this settlement did six years after it was begun, owing to the disappointments and losses it experienced in the supplies of stock, provisions, and stores.

Being anxious to supply Port Dalrymple before the winter as amply as our present stores and resources would admit, His Majesty’s ship Buffalo, with the Integrity, Colonial cutter, sailed from hence the 25th ult’o, with the people, stock, provisions, &c., enumerated in the margin, which will secure that settlement from experiencing any want for several months.

By the Lady Barlow I had the honor of informing my Lord Hobart that I had sent the Investigator to Norfolk Island for a

Marked by King, “Separate, No. 2, per H.M.S. Investigator.’

page 254 part of the civil and military settlers and convicts, in compliance with His Lordship’s instructions, since which time the Investigator has returned, when I received the communications made in Captain Piper’s letters to me, copies of which I have the honor to enclose, by which your Lordship will observe that the wheat harvest has been tolerable abundant; and if a portion of our late rains has fallen at Norfolk, there is reason to expect the produce of maize will increase the intended supply of salted pork from that island. I also enclose my answer to the commandant, in which your Lordship will observe the further intended arrangements and the necessity I am under of giving a farther explanation of my Lord Hobart’s intentions respecting that island, and the measures I have adopted for carrying them into execution, which has been greatly misinterpreted or misconceived. However, I hope that notice will be sufficiently explicit, and meet your Lordship’s approbation.

As I fully understood from the tenor of my Lord Hobart’s letter respecting the partial removals from Norfolk Island to Port Dalrymple, that it never entered into His Lordship’s contemplation to withdraw every person, I humbly submit that I conceive its total abandonment at any future period would be attended with a great loss to the extending settlements in supplies of salted provisions we have and do receive from thence, and which there is little doubt will continue to encrease. And another important advantage has always been derived from that island in supplying the South Sea whalers with the most plentiful refreshments, being situated so near the fishing grounds on the north-east coast of New Zealand, which has been the means of preserving the lives of many British seamen, and enabling them to return to England in perfect health, after being almost constantly at sea during two and sometimes three years, instead of being the scrobutic and debilitated men returned when their cruizing was confined to the coast of South America.

In making the above statement as connected with the interest of the south whalers, I beg to add that from the information of the masters of those ships that have for the last four years frequented the north-east part of New Zealand, I found that the quantity of seeds and other articles I gave the two New Zealanders who visited Norfolk Island in 1794, and remained there nine months, have turned to a very beneficial account, not only for their own advantage, but also in supplying the whaling ships very liberally with potatoes and other productions derived from what my two visitors, whom I conducted to their homes in 1794,* took with them. The frequent intercourse those vessels have had with that

* Ante, pp. 169 and 190.

page 255 part of New Zealand has been very advantageous. The New Zealanders have gone on board their vessels, assisted them in procuring oil, and are found a very tractable people; hence there is every reason to expect that the assistance they may derive from them, if encouraged and liberally treated, will greatly facilitate their pursuits and ensure a continuance of those refreshments so grateful to seamen on long voyages, and prevent them from quitting the coast in the season for whaling to seek supplies elsewhere and distant from their fishing ground.

The many vessels that have put into the Bay of Islands and other parts of that coast have never, as far as I have learn’d, had any altercation with the natives, but have received every kind office and assistance in procuring their wood and water, &c., at a very cheap rate in barter; exclusive of which a great public advantage might hereafter be derived by the whalers who fish on that coast being provided with articles of barter with which they may procure great quantities of the manufactured flax, and if provided with small machines for making rope they might carry on that work when not engaged with whaling, which would be an amusement to the people and a double object gained, as the leakage of oil would not damage that rope but on the contrary strengthen it. And if any circumstance should lead those whalers to this port they may very advantageously barter it for provisions and other necessaries. An anxious wish to promote and secure those advantages to the whalers has induced me to direct the Commandant of Norfolk Island to send a number of sows and other stock occasionally to that island by any master of a whaler in whom he can confide, to be delivered to the most powerful chief at the Bay of Islands or among the different families or tribes.

* * * *

In a former letter I had the honor of stating the general and individual inconvenience that attended the Americans not only occupying fishing stations in and about Bass’s Straits but frequenting this port, from which they have drawn several useful people, and in fact depriving the inhabitants of the only staple hitherto acquired. How far this may or may not be allowable I have not taken upon me to decide, but have requested instructions thereon. I also stated the circumstance of a small vessel belonging to an individual being sent in quest of the beche-de-mer. That vessel is returned, and altho’ they failed in that object, yet they acquired another of not less value, namely, sandalwood, which is in such great request with the natives of India and China. It has long been known, from the intercourse with the Friendly Islands, that sandalwood was a production of some of the Feejee Islands, which are a group hitherto not much known. The pro- page 256 prietor of this vessel was induced to make the trial from the information of a person who professed a knowledge of the place where it was to be obtained, but who, unfortunately with several others, were cut off at Tongataboo, one of the Friendly Islands. After going to several of the Feejee’s, and finding much difficulty and not a little apprehension for the safety of their small vessel from the natives’ attack, they accomplished their object by procuring fifteen tons of sandalwood in exchange for pieces of iron at an island called by the natives Vooie. Whether it is plentiful or not is doubtful, as the people belonging to the vessel could not land, and that carried on board by the natives was in small quantities. However, should it prove abundant and become more easy to obtain, it may hereafter be an advantageous object of commerce with China.

With the knowledge of those advantages a desire for speculation will increase, and to keep that desire within due bounds must be the Governor’s duty, as far as it respects Colonial vessels; but it appears to me not altogether admissable that the Governor should interfere in the commercial destination of vessels belonging to merchants resident in the Company’s settlements in India. Seeing the Company’s claim to navigate in all the seas east of the Cape of Good Hope, however, the correction of abuses committed within his jurisdiction as Vice-Admiral may claim his cognizance.

Of late years there has been a great intercourse with Europeans with the Society and Sandwich Islands, which has not only furnished them with abundance of firearms, but has also been the means of a number of Europeans continuing on those islands, among whom are some of indifferent, not to say bad, characters, mostly left from ships going to the north-west coast of America, whalers, and several from this colony, who have gained much influence with the chiefs whom they have assisted in their warfare. At Atooi,* one of the Sandwich Islands, I am informed a, schooner, of twelve carriage guns, was nearly compleated a year ago, and that it was the chief’s intention to send her to England.

* * * *

Since writing the preceding part of this letter application has been made by some individuals to connect themselves with Americans for the object of procuring a cargo of sandalwood, carrying it to China, and returning here with the proceeds. As I conceive that measure would lead to opening an intercourse with this colony and the Company’s possessions, I have resisted the importunate solicitations on that behalf, as it militates

* Now known as Kanai.

page 257 so much against His Majesty’s Instructions thereon; but in continuing those restrictions I have assured the adventuring inhabitants, being His Majesty’s subjects, of my earnest wish and exertions to promote their endeavours, and of which I can offer no better assurance than the application contained in my separate and particular letter sent by the Lady Barlow, and I cannot close this subject without humbly suggesting the necessity of instructions being sent prescribing the intercourse and connexion that may be allowed between the inhabitants and Americans; nor can I conceal from your Lordship that I respectfully conceive any other toleration or encouragement beyond relieving their immediate wants would be highly injurious to the public interest, and continue to defeat the views of Government in forming this colony by taking convicts from hence.

I have, &c.,

Philip Gidley King.