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Historical Records of New Zealand

New Zealand Natives

New Zealand Natives.

In consequence of the great intercourse of the South whalers with the natives of the Bay of Islands, on the N.E. part of New Zealand, some of the lower orders of them have been occasionally brought to Sydney, and among them a youth said to be the son of a powerful chief at the Bay of Islands who had always been extremely hospitable to the whalers. The report of the reception these people had met with induced others to follow; and as I had made the youth some presents of tools, &c., for his father, and had directed some breeding swine to be sent from Norfolk Island to the chief, he soon after formed a resolution of paying me a visit, and for that purpose he went to Norfolk Island in a small Colonial vessel, the master of which I am sorry to say treated him so ill as to occasion the most bitter reproaches of Tip-a-he (the name of the chief) and his sons, who accompanied him. Fortunately the kind reception and attention he met with from Captain Piper, Commandant of Norfolk Island, and every person on that island, greatly removed the unfavourable ideas he was impressed with, and which he has often assured me would have been sufficient to have deterred him from the voyage to this place and returning to New Zealand but for the knowledge he had of my treatment of the two New Zealanders, page 263 Tookee and Woodoo,* who visited Norfolk Island in 1794, and the kindness shown him by Captain Piper, whose absolute authority was requisite to rescue Tap-a-he’s youngest and most beloved son from the master of the vessel, who, there is too much reason to apprehend, had destined the son for the payment of the father’s passage, although he could not be ignorant that the kindness this family received at our hands would be abundantly repaid to the English whalers frequenting the Bay of Islands. Such wretches are who have no hesitation at committing these acts, and such was the master’s conduct as to occasion the observation from Tip-a-he that he considered him as an emoki (i.e., of the lower class) as the only excuse for his conduct. Shortly after, the Buffalo arrived at Norfolk to take the supplies for Port Dalrymple, from whence she was to return here. This opportunity Tip-a-he took advantage of to pay me the visit he had so long intended, and was received on board by Capt. Houstoun with his four sons. As some circumstances induced Capt. H. to go to the Derwent, Tip-a-he had an opportunity of seeing that settlement, where he met with much civility from Col. Collins and the officers of that colony during the ship’s stay of one week. Unfortunately her arrival at Port Dalrymple was prevented by encountering one of the severest gales of wind that has visited the neighbourhood, that so effectually disabled the ship as to make her return to this port unavoidable.

Soon after the Buffalo anchored, Captain Houstoun waited on me with, his guest, who was clad in the costume of his country. On being introduced he took up a number of his mats, laying them at my feet, and disposed of a stone patoo patoo in the same manner, after which he performed the ceremony of Etongi or joining of noses. After many exclamations of surprise at the house and other objects that attracted his passing attention, he gave me to understand that he had long designed the visit he had now accomplished, to which he had been encouraged by the reports of my two visitors at Norfolk Island in 1794 [1793], the request of his father, and the prospect of his country being benefited by his visit, as it had been for the great blessing bestowed on it by the introduction of potatoes at Tookee and Woodoo’s return from Norfolk Island. He also added that leaving New Zealand was much against the wishes of his dependants, but that objection was much outweighed by the probable

* See concerning these two Maoris, King to Dundas, 19th November, 1793, p. 169, arid the note thereto.

This is an error. The natives referred to were landed at Norfolk Island in April, 1793, and taken back to New Zealand in November of the same year.

page 264 advantages they would derive from his visit, and concluded by saying that he considered himself under my protection. If I wished him to remain here, go to Europe, or return to his own country, he was resigned to either, and in the most manly confidence submitted himself and his sons to my directions. All this was said in such an imposing manner that no doubt could be entertained of his sincerity.

As I was anxious that no kindness should be wanting to impress him with a full sense of the hospitality I wished to make him sensible of, he, with his eldest son, named Tookey, lived with me and eat at the table, whilst a very good room was allotted for his lodging and that of his sons.

Tip-a-he is 5 feet 11 inches high, stout, and extremely well made. His age appears about 46 or 48. His face is completely tattooed with the spiral marks shewn in “Hawkesworth’s and Cook’s Second Voyage,“ which, with similar marks on his hips and other parts of his body, point him out as a considerable chief or Etangatida Etikitia of the first class. To say that he was nearly civilized falls far short of his character, as every action and observation shows an uncommon attention to the rules of decency and propriety in his every action, and has much of the airs and manners of a man conversant with the world he lives in. In conversation he is extremely facetious and jocose, and, as he never reflected on any person, so Tip-a-he was alive to the least appearance of slight or inattention in others.

He never missed any opportunity of gaining the most particular information respecting the cause and use of everything that struck his notice, and but few things there were of real utility that did not entirely engross his most serious attention. In communicating observations on his own country he was always very anxious to make himself understood, and spared no pains to convince us that the customs of his country were in several instances better than ours, many of which he looked on with the greatest contempt, and some with the most violent and abusive disapprobation, of which the following is an instance:—

Two soldiers and a convict were sent prisoners from Port Dalrymple to be tried by a Criminal Court for stealing some pork from the King’s stores at that place. Tip-a-he attended their trial on the Friday, and one of them was ordered for execution on the following Monday. As is usual, they attended Divine service on the Sunday. As everyone was much affected at their situation, Tip-a-he was not wanting in commiseration; but the instant the service was ended he went to the criminals and embracing them accompanied them back to the jail, where it appeared they gave Tip-a-he a petition to present to me. On page 265 returning to Government House he came into the room where I was writing, and in a very earnest manner, and I believe from the full force of conviction, he endeavoured to reason with me on the injustice of slaying men for stealing pork, and at the same time shewing the severest sorrow and grief for their fate, which he concluded by taking the petition out of his pocket and giving it to me, at the same time shedding tears. He threw himself prostrate on the ground, sobbing most bitterly. Observing that I did not give him any answer or hopes than by saying I should consider of it he left the room and did not make his reappearance until the hour of dinner, having taken off the dress he had made here, and appeared very violent, exclaiming in most furious manner against the severity of our laws in sentencing a man to die for stealing pork, although he admitted that a man might very justly be put to death for stealing a piece of iron, as that was of a permanent use; but stealing a piece of pork which, to use his own expression, was eat and passed off, he considered as sanguine (sic) in the extreme. With much earnestness he urged his being allowed to take them to New Zealand, where taking provisions was not accounted a crime; and so earnest was he on this expedient that he went to the master of an American vessel, then lying here, to reqxiest he would take them to New Zealand, where his ship would be loaded with potatoes as a recompense for their passage. During the three days that the fate of these criminals were pending Tip-a-he would take no nourishment whatever, and in several instances was inclined to be very furious. However, on its being signified that two were forgiven and that neither of the others would be executed at Sydney, he came about by degrees, but would never be reconciled to the idea of men suffering death for taking wherewithal to eat—a natural reasoning for one who inhabits a country where everything of that kind is common, and where their other wants are but few. A material object of Tip-a-he’s visit here was to know if the ships that touched at the Bay all belonged to King George, and whether the refreshments and assistance he and his people gave them were right and agreeable to me. On this subject I explained to him the difference between the English and American colours, and that both were equally entitled to his kindness. He complained that in one instance a New Zealander had been flogged by the captain of a whaler and hoped that I would give orders that no such act should be committed in future, and very liberally observed that he supposed the captain must have been a very bad man in his own country to commit such violence on a stranger who he had nothing to do with. As all the whalers and other vessels which have visited Tip-a-he’s residence have expressed page 266 the great convenience, hospitality, and assistance they have uniformly received from this worthy chief and his people, I told him that I should impress on those who might visit him the necessity of their conducting themselves and people in a peaceable manner, and to give them articles in exchange for their potatoes and what stock he may in future have to spare—which the supplies of breeding swine and goats, with fowls, &c., sent from Norfolk Island, will soon enable him to do. To give him some proof of the estimation he was held in by me and the inhabitants of this place, I caused a medal to be made of silver with the following engraving: “Presented by Governor King to Tip-a-he, a Chief of New Zealand, during his visit at Port Jackson, in January, 1806 ″; and on the reverse: “In the reign of George the Third, by the Grace of God King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.“ This medal was suspended by a strong silver chain round his neck. With this and his other presents he was pleased and gratified—particularly with the numerous tools and other articles of iron given him from the public stores and by every class of individuals. As several New Zealanders of the lower class had come here by different vessels, it was a desirable and useful object to endeavour to get a number of people sent from that country to distribute about as shepherds. On communicating this wish to Tip-a-he he appeared to give (sic) very readily into the idea, but insisted on sending the middling order of people, who would be more expert at labour and tractable than the emokis or lower class, who were too idle and vicious to send here and from whom no good could be got. Hence it appears, as well as from his general conversation, that the emokis are made to labour by the authority of the chiefs. How far our friend will be able to comply with his promise of sending some of his subjects here must depend on the degree of authority he possesses. From what I was able to learn, Tip-a-he’s authority is very extensive. His residence we know to be on the north side of the Bay of Islands, just within Point Pococke,* where he has a considerable hippah, or fortified place. The district extending to the northward is called Why-po-poo; but he claims the whole country from Moodee Whenua across the island, which must be very extensive; and, as a proof of the accuracy of his assertions, he admits that Mowpah, who is chief about the River Thames, is his rival on the south and Moodee Whenua on the north.

On the subject of cannibalism we could get but little certain information, as Tip-a-he decidedly denied the existence of such a

* So named by Captain Cook. The point is now known as Cape Wiwiki.

page 267 practice in his dominions, but said it was common in Mowpah’s district. Ti-a-pe, a native of Moodee Whenua, also said it was a practice with Tip-a-he and his subjects. Where truth lies I am undecided; but I am of opinion, from everything I have heard and observed, that this practice most certainly prevails in New Zealand.

As our visitor was constant in his attendance at Divine service, his ideas on the existence of a God and matters of religion were often conversed upon. The existence of a God who resides above they believe, and that his shadow frequently visits the earth; that it is in the power of the priests to invoke the appearance of this shadow (which is perceptible to them only) either for the purpose of succouring the sick or on any other exigency. The presence of the Deity is made known by a gentle whistling. The rest of the cure or other benefit depends on the charms or incantations of the priests, in whose efficacy they have an implicit belief. The dead are buried, and they believe that the spirit ascends; but if it enjoys a new state, or this “death is an eternal sleep,“ we could not ascertain. But that there are future rewards and punishments they consider as certain; as well as the existence of an evil spirit as opposed to the Deity, which they distinguish by the Otaheitian name of Eatooa; but they have no image to represent it, as have the Otaheitians.

Polygamy exists. Tip-a-he told us of several wives he has had, one of whom he killed for having a troublesome tongue; nor could he help testifying his surprise that many of the women here did not suffer the same fate. He has fifty-two children living, but he now attaches himself to only one young woman, by whom he has a son now eight years old, who accompanies him on his visit and of whom he is very fond.

Of the natives of this country he had the most contemptible opinion, which both he and Tookey did not fail to manifest by discovering the utmost abhorrence at their going naked, and their want of ingenuity or inclination to procure food and make themselves comfortable, on which subject Tip-a-he on every occasion reproached them very severely. Their battles he treated as the most trifling mode of warfare, and was astonished that when they had their adversary down they did not kill him, which it seems is a custom among the New Zealanders and is carried to the most unrelenting pitch; indeed, no race of men could be treated with a more marked contempt than the natives of this country were by our visitors, who, it must be confessed, were infinitely their superiors in every respect.

Of Tip-a-he’s independent and high spirits a better proof cannot be given than the following circumstance that occurred a week previous to his departure. Every person, particularly the page 268 officers and their wives, had made him presents of some baubles, as well as the greater part being of great use to him, which was clothing and iron tools of most description. An officer’s wife had given him, among other things, a pair of ear-rings, which he very inconsiderately bestowed on a young woman. The donation was soon after discovered, and the ear-rings taken from the girl, on which Tip-a-he was reproached for his want of respect for the original donor, who, before this unlucky event, was very much respected by him. However, the instant he found that the ear-rings had been taken away, he packed every article up which he had received from that person (and among which were some useful things) and sent them by one of his sons; nor could he ever be persuaded to speak or see the lady who gave him the things, and constantly expressed his disgust at hearing of the presents he had received being in any way mentioned except by himself; and, to do him justice, he always took every opportunity of speaking of the donors with the most grateful respect.

* * * *

That no unpleasant circumstance might occur to him (Tip-a-he) on the passage, I ordered the Lady Nelson for that service; and as so good an opportunity of gaining some knowledge of that country might not soon recur, I purposed sending Mr. MacMillan, surgeon of the Buffalo, with some other people, to remain there, under Tip-a-he’s protection for five or six months, for the purpose of making such observations on the inhabitants, their manners and customs, with the formation of the country, as the time and their situation might admit of. This measure was stopped, after every preparation was made, by the arrival of a vessel from England, from whom I learned that an officer was on his way out to relieve me in consequence of a request I had made to that purpose in May, 1803. I therefore did not think the service would allow of my detaching the surgeon and any of the people in case of the Buffalo’s services being wanted.*

Tip-a-he was most chagrined at this disappointment, and I firmly believe he would have been very kind and attentive to the party; and whenever that country is explored, I am certain our worthy visitor’s good offices will not be wanting.

* The Lady Nelson sailed on this mission on 24th February. 1806.

It has been alleged that, notwithstanding his kind treatment at Sydney, Tip-a-he was the moving spirit in the massacre of the crew of the Boyd. His fellow-countrymen denied that he had any share in the matter, and the Reverend S. Marsden acquitted him of any complicity. He, with a number of his tribe were shot, in reprisal, by a party of whalers.