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Historical Records of New Zealand

Evidence of Captain Beveridge

Evidence of Captain Beveridge.

(9th February, 1821.)

Captain Beveridge “came out chief officer in the ship Harriet four years ago. Has been engaged in a schooner Eliza and Mary, J. Underwood, 80 tons, to Macquarie Islands to fetch away elephant oil. There is a gang of thirteen men collecting oil. Many are free and emancipated. Overseer has 1 out of 40 tons of oil. They have a supply of provisions six months.

Macquarie Island is 1,400 miles south; is in lat. 54° 30′ S., 159° 45′ east. 30 miles long, 5 miles broad, very barren—no trees. Uninhabited. Abounds in sea elephants. Lagoons of fresh water on the top. No harbour. Dangerous for shippers. Black whale is not in abundance.

Vessels of 150 tons would suit this coast. N. country built. To the south of V. Dieman’s Island the weather is very stormy.

page 510

Went in 1817 to the Society Islands, touching at N. Zealand and afterwards at the Marquesas. Went for a cargo of pork and sandalwood, and took one of Bengal prints, slates and pencils, gunpowder, muskets. Sold some muskets at all the islands. At the Marquesas they are so much supplied with muskets by the Americans that there is no sale for English ones. The Marquesas are a rendezvous for the Americans. The natives are black, but handsomer and lighter colour than those of the other islands; good tempered. Very little sandalwood now to be procured. Formerly a ton of sandalwood used to be got for a musket. There have been no English there since the King George. There are good harbours. That of Noohera is very capacious and naturally strong.

The sandalwood tree is sometimes two feet in circumference, grows on tops of high mountains.

The inhabitants wear a small cloth round their waists, made of the cocoanut tree. Women quite naked.

Visited the Society Islands in 1817 and 18. Saw the missionaries. They cultivate little and are indolent. They pay great attention to the instruction of the natives in religion. The schools are well attended. The Otaheitian language is taught. Mr. Crook teaches on the Lancasterian principle. Some of the young natives wrote very well. Pomare’s wife keeps a journal of all arrivals. She wears a better cloth than the other females. Has been at church on the Sunday. It is made of bread fruit tree posts and lowa tree, covered with mats and thatched with cocoanut.

Never saw a native Otaheitian drunk except one, and he had received liquors from the King George.

Howe’s Island is high. There appears to be some grass upon it. Saw no wood. No harbour. It lies in variable winds.

£3 per month are the usual wages for seamen in the colonial craft. It is frequently paid in property and it is very high.

Five guineas charged for a telescope that would be worth £2 in England.

Beef and pork 8d. and 9d. per lb.

The boarding and fitting out of vessels is very expensive. Rope is bought from ships that arrive.