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Historical Records of New Zealand

Massacre of Crew of The Boyd.*

Massacre of Crew of The Boyd.*

* See also Captain Chace’s statement, enclosed in Macquarie’s despatch of 12th March, 1810, post, p. 298; and the whalers’ letter to Macquarie of 10th April, 1810, post, p. 299.

These are to certify that during our stay in this harbour we had frequent reports of a ship being taken by the natives in the neigh-bouring harbour of Wangarawe, and that the ship’s crew were killed and eaten.

In order to ascertain the truth of this report, as well as to rescue a few people who were said to be spared in the general massacre, Mr. Berry, accompanied by Mr. Russell and Matingaro (a principal chief of the Bay of Islands, who volunteered his service), set out for Wangarawe with three armed boats on Sunday the 31st of December, 1809, and upon their arrival found the miserable remains of the ship Boyd, Captain John Thompson, which the natives (after stripping of everything of value) had burnt down to the water’s edge.

From the handsome conduct of Matingaro they were able to rescue a boy, woman, and two children, the only survivors of the shocking event, which, according to the most satisfactory information, was perpetrated entirely under the direction of that old


Captain Berry, in an account of the circumstances connected with the resuce of the survivors, gives the name of this chief as Matenangha.—Constable’s Miscellany, vol. iv, p. 345.

page 294 rascal Tippahee,* who has been so much and undeservedly caressed at Port Jackson.

This unfortunate vessel (intending to load with spars) as taken three days after her arrival. The natives informed the master on the second day they would shew the spars. Next day, in the morning, Tippahee arrived from Tippanah and went on board. He staid only a few minutes, and then went into his canoe, but remained alongside the vessel, which was surrounded with a number of canoes which appeared collected for the purpose of trading; and a considerable number of the natives, gradually intruding into the ship, sat down upon the deck. After break-fast the master left the ship with two boats to look for spars. Tippahee, waiting a convenient time, now gave the signal for massacre. In an instant the savages, who appear’d sitting peaceably on the deck, rushed on the unarmed crew, who were dispersed about the ship at their various employments. The greater part were massacred in a moment, and were no sooner knocked down than cut to pieces while still alive. Five or six of the hands escaped up the rigging. Tippahee now having possession of the ship, hailed them with a speaking trumpet, and ordered them to unbend the sails and cut away the rigging, and they should not be hurt. They complied with his commands and came down. He then took them ashore in a canoe and immediately killed them. The master went on shore without arms, and was of course easily dispatched. The names of the survivors are Mrs. Morley and child, Betsey Broughton, and Thomas Davis, a boy.

The natives of the Spar district in this harbour have behaved well, even beyond expectation, and seem much concerned on account of this unfortunate event; and, dreading the displeasure of King George, have requested certificates of their good conduct in order to exempt them from his vengeance; but let no man (after this) trust a New Zealander.

* Although the whalers who visited Wangaroa Harbour, immediately after the massacre, were convinced that Tippahee took an active, if not a leading, part in the affair, the Rev. Samuel Marsden, who visited the locality in 1814–5, satisfied himself that not only was Tippahee not in any way concerned in the attack, but that he had endeavoured to save a number of the sailors who had taken refuge in the rigging. The reader who wishes to pursue the question can collect the very contradictory evidence from the accounts of the missionaries in Nicholas’s Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand, vol. i, pp. 143 and 297, and from Alexander Berry’s account, furnished to Constable’s Miscellany, vol. iv, pp. 330 et seq.

The Revernd Samuel Marsden places an entirely different aspect upon the event. According to him, Tippahee arrived on the scene only in time to resucue the men who had escaped up the rigging and land them on an adjacent point. They were then purseued and overtaken by the infuriated Maoris from whom Tippahee was attempting to shelter them.

This was an infant daughter of Commissary Broughton.

page 295

We further certify that we gave Tarra, the bearer of this, a small flat-bottomed boat as a reward for his good conduct and the assistance of getting us a cargo of spars.

Given on board the ship City of Edinburgh, Captain Simeon Pattison, Bay of Islands, January 6th, 1810.

Simeon Pattison,


Alexr. Berry,

* Supercargo.

James Russel,


* Until comparatively recent years, this Mr. Berry was a prominent figure amongst public men in the colony. In the year 1820 he explored part of the Shoalhaven country, receiving a large free grant of land in that district. Mr. Berry was appointed a Member of the Legislative Council in 1856. He died in 1873.

Tarra behaved very well, and all his tribe; for that reason I gave him several gallons of oil. I came in January the 17th, and sailed the 20th, 1810.

William Swain,

Ship Cumberland.