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Historical Records of New Zealand

Ensign McCrae, 84th Regt. — (May, 1821.)

Ensign McCrae, 84th Regt.
(May, 1821.)

Questions. Answers.
Q. What were the several places that you visited during the course of your stay at New Zealand? A. I was at first at the Bay of Islands, where we stayed four months. During that time I made a tour on foot to two extensive settlements—one I believe to the westward about 12 or 15 miles from the Bay of Islands, the other about 25 miles from that place and more to the southward. I also visited the bay river, called Shokey Hanga, which is 70 miles across to the western coast, and also visited Wangaroa, a fine harbor, situated between Doubtful Bay and the Cavalle Islands on the eastern coast, where we staid about five months. During my stay I also saw several branches of the River Shokey Hanga.
Q. Which of the harbors that you visited appeared to you to be the best? A. The Bay of Islands is I should think the best. It is capacious, secure, and easy of access, with abundance of water for very large ships, and no dangers but such as are well known or visible. The entrance to Shokey Hanga is intricate, but there is plenty of water.
Q. Are there settlements of the natives at both these places? A. There are, especially at Shakey Honga, where the native population is considerable, and the cultivation extensive.
Q. Are the branches of the Shakey Honga River deep and wide? A. On the left branch a well-loaded boat’s launch could go up the right bank, and those nearest the mouth are accessible to boats for a short distance, and all could float timber. The two smallest are nearest the harbour, and are sufficientlypage 535
rapid to turn mills, and their water is fresh. A number of small rivulets containing good water fall into the main river.
Q. Is the tide of the rivers rapid? A. It is.
Q. Does it appear to be subject to inundations? A. It does not.
Q. Do the banks of this river or other streams you have described abound in wood? A. Yes, they do.
Q. Of what kinds? A. Principally of the wood called cowdie. That generally grows on the sides of the sloping banks, and in one place we found growing on a flat of considerable extent, as far as my eye could reach in one direction.
Q. Do you conceive that these woods are evergreen? A. Undoubtedly they are.
Q. Are the trees of the cowdee very tall and strait? A. They are so.
Q. Have they many branches upon them? A. They have not; they carry up a clean stem to a great height and then suddenly branch out into a tufty bushy top, with leaves resembling those of the English box.
Q. Did you find the same abundance of wood at Wangaroa and the same facility of getting it? A. It was neither so plentiful nor so easy to be procured. What was procured for the Dromedary was brought along a road a mile long that was made on purpose.
Q. Did you hear of any other harbor than those that you have described? A. I heard of one on the west coast, to the southward of Shakey Hanga, described to be a great deal larger than that river, with a wider entrance and a bar harbor, but the depth of water is not known.
Q. Is the country that you travelled through generally well watered? A. Remarkably so. In the west part of the country and near the sea coast on the east side it is much broken into ravines, the sides of which are mostly too steep for cultivation by cattle, but there are vallies between those ravines and some of considerable extent that are now in a state of cultivation by the natives. In the interior of the country and along the east coast, except immediately on the shore where there is a range of sand hills, there are extensive flats of rich alluvial land, and clear of timber. The timber generally grows on the sides of hills and banks of rivers.page 536
Q. Was there any natural grass growing upon these tracts of flat land? A. In the interior I observed that the fern that grows naturally and to a great height on the flat lands had been burnt by the natives and had been succeeded by a natural grass of which cattle seemed to be very fond, and this I believe will always be the case until the fern, which in New Zealand is of a very great strength and size (about four feet in the best lands, two on the hills and bad land) rises above the grass and crushes it.
Q. Did you observe much flax? Where abouts does it grow? A. It grows generally in the interior and very plentifully on the banks of the Shakey Honga River, I passed through a valley six miles in extent between Wangaroa and Shakey Honga where there was great abundance.
Q. How does it grow? A. It grows naturally in stools and tufts close to each other and some of them covering a space f not less than six feet diameter.
Q. Did you observe several varieties of this plant? A. I observed two different kinds myself—the red and the common kind. The former is very scarce, and chiefly cultivated by the natives for its whiteness. There are five other kinds that grow in different parts of the country, and one is remarkable for the facility with which it is separated from the husk.
Q. Do the natives cultivate the flax? A. As much as they require for their immediate use, and near their own habitations.
Q. How do they cultivate it? A. They dig small trenches about a foot wide and nine inches deep and plant the flax between the trenches. They generally select moist lands for the flax, and when they wish to have it very long for any particular purpose they plant it on rich soil, but I don’t believe the New Zealand flax requires a very rich soil.
Q. How is it propagated? A. Always by plants. We were told by the natives that it did not grow from seed.
Q. Did you observe the New Zealand flax that was growing in the Government gardens at Sidney? A. I did.page 537
Q. Did it appear to you to be as strong and as large as that which grows in New Zealand? A. It appeared to me as long and as healthy as strong, but I was told by the native New Zealanders at Mr. Marsden’s that it was not so fibrous as that which was grown in their own country.
Q. What is the mode that the New Zealanders pursue in dressing their flax? A. After it is cut down and without drying, the fibrous parts are stripped from the leaf with a shell, and it is then hung up to dry. For the purpose of making it soft and silky they beat it after moistening it.
Q. Can the New Zealanders dress much of the flax in one day? A. The women and children generally perform this operation, and they can do a good deal.
Q. During the ten months you were in New Zealand, did you observe the temperature of the climate? A. For the two first months I did notice, and for the remainder I kept a regular account of the barometer and thermometer and the state of the winds.
Q. Is the climate very changeable? A. I think it is. The variations are nearly the same as at Port Jackson.
Q. A good deal of rain falls in New Zealand, I believe? A. A great deal in the winter, and in the summer there are light showers that must greatly assist vegetation.
Q. Are there great storms of wind? A. There are frequent storms of wind and rain, chiefly from the northeast.
Q. Is there any frost and snow? A. A little frost, but I never saw any snow.
Q. Are there any high hills in the parts of the country that you visited? A. Yes, there are, and those are generally isolated, not in ranges.
Q. Are they woody? A. They generally are. I observed one on which all the wood was cut down, and it had been cultivated by the natives.
Q. Is the soil generally clay? A. On the hills it is and of a poor cold quality. The valleys are very rich, and contain a fine loose mould, sometimes black and sometimes red.
Q. Did you observe any ironstone gravel? A. I did in some parts of the country.
Q. In what parts of the country did you observe the best soil? A. As we advanced into the interior we observed that the soil always improved.page 538
Q. Did you observe that the native population was numerous? A. Compared with the extent of the country they are not, but when we saw them they were in large bodies of two or three hundred each.
Q. Do they live congregated in this manner, or are they dispersed over the country? A. They live all together for mutual safety.
Q. Are the tribes under the orders and authority of one chief? A. Generally they are, but there are instances where this authority is divided amongst two or more of the same family.
Q. Is the authority of the chief over a tribe very considerable? A. They all obey him in war and his demand upon their military service, but in peace his only authority is over his own family and slaves, tho’ his influence in many things may and sometimes is exercised over the tribes.
Q. Can the chiefs call upon their tribes to work for them? A. No, they cannot. They were applied to procure labor for the Dromedary and they could not procure or command it.
Q. Is the authority of the chief hereditary? A. It is, and they are very proud of it.
Q. Do the chiefs wear any mark of distinction? A. His clothes and implements may be a little better, and on State occasions some marks of respect are paid to them by their own tribes.
Q. Are they fixed in their abodes, or do they wander from place to place? A. They change their places of abode in their own districts which have known limits, but they are not a wandering people.
Q. What do you conceive to be the ordinary causes of their wars? A. In general some family feud, some insult, or old grudge between one tribe and another, and sometimes a strong tribe will plunder a weak one for the sake of making slaves and obtaining mats and plunder to sell to Europeans, and independent of this they have a national liking for war.
Q. Are they cruel in their wars? A. Very cruel. They kill as many as they can, and make slaves of the women and children.
Q. Have they become expert in the use of European fire-arms? A. Not so much as any one might suppose from the numbers they possess.
Q. You believe and have observed that gunpowder and arms are very common amongst them? A. Very common. I have been told that amongst the tribes of the Bay of Islands there are not lesspage 539
than 500 stand of arms, with bullet moulds. It should be observed that a great many of these firelocks that have been received from the whaling vessels are of the oldest and worst description.
Q. Are their own weapons of a very deadly and destructive kind? A. They have no missile weapons. Those they have are all for close quarters. When they spear a man they always dispatch him with the stone weapon that they always carry in their belts.
Q. Do they use in war the iron weapons they have received from Europeans? A. They use both axes and billhooks, and are very expert in the use of them. They have also bayonets and iron pointed spears.
Q. Have you reason to believe that cannibalism still prevails amongst them? A. I am certain that it does, and at the Bay of Islands the missionaries informed us that while the Dromedary was at the Bay of Islands a female slave was killed opposite to their houses and carried to a neighbouring island and was devoured.
Q. Did you learn whether the practice arises from some superstition, or from the gratification of revenge on their enemies, or a fondness for eating human flesh? A. I cannot exactly say, for I have heard and known of instances where slaves have been killed and not eaten. I have asked them the question, but I believe they know the aversion and detestation in which the practice is held by Europeans, and they either laughed or evaded any precise answer. I was told by a chief at the Bay of Islands that after a battle between his tribe and another in Wauchara Bay at a late period his party who had been victorious feasted for three days on the bodies of their enemies.
Q. Is infanticide common amongst them? A. I have heard of one or two instances of mothers putting their children to death who were females, because they could not go to war. I have understood they generally procure abortion for the children that are born of an European intercourse. A few have been preserved, and on my asking the reason they said the fathers had promised to return and they allowed the children to live.page 540
Q. Do you believe that cannibalism has diminished of late in New Zealand? A. I believe they know the abhorrence of Europeans for the practice that it is kept out of sight as much as possible, but I know that it still exists.
Q. Is polygamy allowed amongst them? A. It is, but a chief has one wife esteemed superior to the others, and she must be the daughter of another chief.
Q. Are the families numerous? A. Very much so.
Q. Do they appear healthy and strong? A. They are exceedingly so. I only saw one deformed person in the island.
Q. Did you ever see persons of an advanced age? A. I did. I saw several who recollected Captain Cook’s visit to that country, and who were grown up at that time.
Q. Upon what terms do the whalers sell their fire arms and gunpowder to the New Zealanders? A. They sell them for pork and potatoes and if they want spars for their vessels.
Q. Is there any fixed price? A. None. It used to be 25 hogs for a single musket. The price is now generally 15, or 200 baskets of potatoes.
Q. Do you hear many complaints of the conduct of the masters of the whaler in their intercourse and dealing with the natives? A. A great many dreadful acts of cruelty in flogging the men and in forcing the women to prostitute themselves. A very gross instance happened about three years ago towards a native who was the daughter of a chief. On board the Catherine, whaler, a chief was struck with a rope’s end till he vomited blood, and to satisfy his vengeance against Europeans he plundered some salt works belonging to the missionaries at the Bay of Islands. I have heard of several other gross cruelties, but not at a late period, excepting the Vansittart, Captain Hunt, a whaler that was at the Bay of Islands when the Dromedary was at Wangaroa. The master was drunk and beat a chief named Tikohu most unmercifully who was always very friendly to the Europeans, and whom we found to be a most excellent character.
Q. Do you know whether the missionaries interfered in this matter, or made any representation of it? A. Mr. Marsden was on board this vessel at the time it happened. He remonstrated with the master of the Vansittart, but I don’t know what other steps he took.page 541
Q. Do you know whether the whalers ever take away any of the natives in their vessels? A. I have heard of one or two instances, and a chief came to complain to me that six years ago his son was taken away by a whaler and gave me the description of his person to assist me in finding him out or recovering him in England. He was greatly affected when he made this complaint.
Q. Is prostitution considered a crime amongst the natives? A. I have no doubt that it was formerly, but now even the fathers offer their daughters for prostitution on such terms as they can make with Europeans for sums or articles of barters. In the places that have not been frequented by Europeans, at the River Thames for instance, the chiefs would not allow their daughters to prostitute themselves, but only the slaves. I do not think prostitution is common, and early marriages are common.
Q. I am informed that the venereal disease is prevalent amongst the natives, especially of those places that have been much frequented by Europeans. Did you observe any instances of it? A. Very many at the Bay of Islands.
Q. Is any cure of the disease known to them? A. None that I could hear of.
Q. Do you believe it to be fatal if virulent? A. I believe it to be very fatal, and I observed an instance where a young female died of it and another who was dying.
Q. Are they aware themselves of it and of the cause? A. Perfectly, and in most cases, and as soon as they discover the effect they leave the ship and do not approach it again until they are cured.
Q. Do you know whether any of the missionaries possess or administer medicine in the neighbourhood of the settlements? A. I do not know.
Q. Are the natives aware of the power of medicine? A. They are, and have great confidence in all European medicine and cures.
Q. Do you observe any prevalent or special disease amongst the natives of New Zealand? A. Pulmonary complaints I think are general amongst them.
Q. Have the natives imbibed any aversion towards Europeans, especially towards the English? A. They have not. I do not think they have formed their judgment of Europeans or of the English from the whalers that touch at New Zealand.page 542
Q. In what light do they regard the convicts of New South Wales? A. The people of the Bay of Islands, the only ones who know them, have the greatest contempt for them. They know their condition, and treat them badly.
Q. Do you think that there are many runaway convicts now at New Zealand? A. I have only heard of one, a woman, who had been there several years, and lived with one of the inferior chiefs. The master of the ship General Gates, that brought away several convicts from Port Jackson in 1819, had bargained with a chief to leave him two of the convicts, for which he was to be paid in potatoes and pigs. The men were mechanics, and the master of the General Gates had persuaded the chief that they could make and mend firelocks.
Q. Are there any Europeans not belonging to the Missionary Society established in New Zealand? A. One family of the name of Hanson. The father commands the colonial brig Lady Nelson.
Q. Do they cultivate land or do they trade? A. They cultivate a very little land, and Hanson trades with the natives, and is a sort of agent for the whalers, and buys mats and curiosities.
Q. Have they obtained any knowledge of the English language? A. Some of them that have in tercourse with the English have acquired a little.
Q. Are they avaricious or given to theft? A. They are.
Q. Are they cunning in their bargains that they make and very rigid in enacting the performance of them? A. Very much so.
Q. Have they a disposition to trade, or do they show a wish to become possessed of European manufactures? A. The only manufacture that they at present wish to possess are gunpowder and muskets. They are fond of dress, but won’t give anything for it that is of value to them.
Q. What are the usual articles that they exchange with the whalers? A. Pigs, potatoes, wood, fish, and curiosities.
Q. What manufactures have they? A. Mats of various kinds, which they use as clothing; their canoes, in making which they are very skilful; and a few carved implements.
Q. Have any of them learnt to use English implements in their agricultural labors? A. Only our hoe, but they use it with a short handle.page 543
Q. Are axes and hoes much in demand? A. Not much.
Q. Have any of them learnt any trade or mechanical arts from the missionaries or elsewhere? A. The only work I have seen them do of this description is sawing wood. I did not see more than three pairs of sawyers.
Q. Are they persevering or regular in their industries? A. By no means. It is very difficult, almost impossible, to make them go on with their work for any time.
Q. What operations of their own do they excel in? A. In cutting timber of any size. In this they excel Europeans, I have been told.
Q. Of what does their agriculture consist? A. The cultivation of yams, the potatoes (sweet and English), a native plant or root called tarra (? taro), and the calabash. Their cultivation of these plants is very neat and careful, and their grounds are fenced with cattle fences, made of posts firmly driven into the ground. They have a very neat appearance, and they thus preserve their fields from the ravages of the pigs that are very numerous except at the Bay of Islands, where there has been a great consumption of it by the whalers.
Q. Do they compel their slaves to cook? A. They do.
Q. Do they form a separate class from their masters? A. They form a separate class, and are never allowed to eat with them.
Q. Are they cruel in the treatment of their slaves? A. Very cruel. They are also very badly clothed, and seem to be in a wretched condition. They are likewise put to death as offerings and a sacrifice for any person of the chief’s family who happens to die.
Q. Do you know whether the slaves are ever sold or exchanged? A. Yes, they are, and are objects of barter. Prisoners of distinction are sometimes ransomed for articles of value, such as green jade stone and muskets.
Q. Are there any quadrupeds in New Zealand, wild or tame? A. None but the native dog that resembles that of New Holland, tho’ in New Zealand it is capable of being domesticated and they are trained to catch the pigs. This and a species of small wild rat are the only quadrupeds. The natives have no cattle.page 544
Q. Are the pigs numerous and of a good breed? A. In the interior and on the west coast they are very numerous, and I think of a good breed. Their flesh when fed upon roots is very good, but when they are on the sea coast it has a fishy taste.
Q. Are the natives fond of animal food? A. They like it now and then, but prefer a vegetable diet or fern, of which they have and preserve a great quantity. They are also fond of rock oysters and cockles, which are in abundance on the coasts.
Q. Are they fond of bread? A. They are very fond of biscuit.
Q. Have they any European vegetables? A. They have turnips, greens, and in some places carrots and water melons; radishes likewise grow in the country, but the natives do not make use of them.
Q. Have they any fruit trees? A. I have seen one or two peaches, and I planted a few orange trees when I was there.
Q. Does New Zealand abound in birds? A. There are a great many pidgeons, ducks, and wild fowls. There are likewise small emus and parrots, parraquets, and cockatoos.
Q. Is travelling easy in New Zealand? A. Footpaths are made in several directions, and the natives never leave them.
Q. Did you observe any reptiles? A. None whatever, nor did I hear that there were any, except to the southward, where I was told there were large lizards.
Q. Is it a country that horses and carts might travel? A. In some parts of the country horses would be stopped by ravines, and in the paths of the woods the roots of large trees run across them and would be dangerous for horses. Mules might get through them.
Q. How long were you travelling from the Bay of Islands to Shukey Hanga? A. Four days, and from Wangaroa only two days to the head of the river. From thence to the mouth of the river it would take another day.
Q. How long did you remain in the Harbor of Wangaroa? A. About five months.
Q. Is it very capacious and safe? A. It is for the largest vessels.page 545
Q. Is it accessible? A. It is, and the entrance is narrow, not exceeding 300 yards. It is very deep, and there is no danger.
Q. Is the land in the neighborhood of good quality? A. Not very. The land in the valleys is good, but the country is generally hilly.
Q. What is the nature of the soil? A. In the vallies it appeared to me to be a light red sand with clay below. On the hills generally clay.
Q. Are there any natives in the neighborhood? A. There are only two tribes, and they are not very strong.
Q. Is there much cultivation? A. Very little.
Q. Did you observe any grass? A. I did near the places where the timber was cut, and near the banks of the river.
Q. Were the cattle fond of it? A. Yes, they were, and appeared to get fat upon it.
Q. Were the cattle in good condition when you came away? A. Very good—almost in killing condition.
Q. What were they fed on? A. I imagine chiefly on grass, which they picked up on the banks of the river where the timber was cut.
Q. I conclude that you had many opportunities of seeing the missionary establishment at the Bay of Islands? A. Yes, I had.
Q. Have they made any progress in the cultivation of the land near the settlement? A. Very little. There are two settlements—one in the Bay, the other higher up the river. They have about 14 acres cleared and cultivated, chiefly in wheat and maize. They have also small gardens, but they did not appear to be productive.
Q. Are their houses well built? A. Two or three of the houses are very good—built of wood and floored. The rest were put up in a hurry.
Q. Do any of the natives work for the missionaries, or are taught by them to cultivate the land? A. They hire some to assist them, and pay them—the natives would not otherwise work at all. They have also young females who take care of the children.
Q. Have they any ploughs? A. They had one, but they had no bullocks or horses that they worked till they received those that had been carried over in the Dromedary.page 546
Q. Do you conceive that the land of New Zealand that is covered with fern could be easily cleared? A. Very easily. The fern need only be burnt, and the roots are easily taken up afterwards. This is the manner in which the natives work it.
Q. Does the fern grow in the woods? A. No, it does not; it grows in places clear of woods; but the woods are thick with underwood and vines that are very luxuriant.
Q. Upon the whole, do you think that you observed more land bearing fern or more land bearing wood? A. Double the quantity of land cleared of wood and bearing fern, and in the interior I am inclined to think that there is very little woody compared with cleared land.
Q. Did you see the natives attend the school of the missionaries? A. Mr. Kendall, who used to teach, was gone to England, and there was no school when we were there.
Q. Have any of the missionaries learnt the native language? A. One of them, Mr. Hall, is able to converse with the natives very well—the others speak a little.
Q. Did you ever hear the natives say that they had ever attended the school? A. I never did; but I believe that they did attend the school.
Q. Did you ever see any of the books printed in their language? A. Never.
Q. Did it appear to you that the natives treated the missionaries with respect? A. Not in general. They had a disturbance with them when we were there, and I heard Mr. Hall say that the natives did not care a farthing for the missionaries.
Q. Are the missionaries compelled to take any precautions against the natives? A. Their houses are surrounded by high palisades, and the entrance is through a wicket door.
Q. Mr. Hall lives at some distance from the other settlements? A. He does not live at the principal settlement, but two other missionaries live near him.
Q. Has Mr. Hall succeeded in teaching any of the natives to work at his trade? A. He has learnt some of them to saw timber, but not more than that, I believe.
Q. Do the natives appear to refer their disputes to the missionaries or to listen to their advice? A. I do not think they do. I believe they settle their disputes in their own way.
Q. Did any instance come to your knowledge in which the natives had either threatened or ill-used the missionaries? A. Mr. Hall was driven from one settlement by the natives, and while we were at the Bay of Islands some of the natives attacked Mr. Buller’s house for some cause or other, and I believe that they struck his wife.
Q. Did you understand what was the nature of the dispute? A. I think it originated about the payment of some work.page 547
Q. Have any of the missionaries purchased land of the natives? A. The missionaries purchased lately about 15,000 acres of land near the place they call “Gloucester Town,“ about 10 miles up one of the rivers that falls into the Bay of Islands. It is fine land, and it has a good deal of timber upon it, tho’ not of the cowdie species. They have also bought some land at another settlement.
Q. Do they purchase the land of the chiefs or of individuals? A. The chiefs made the agreement, but the price he divided amongst the inferior chiefs of the tribe.
Q. Do you know what the price was? A. I have been told that it was purchased for axes.
Q. Do you think that the natives are willing to dispose of their land? A. I think they are, as they have much more than they seem to re. quire for themselves.
Q. Have they any cattle or sheep? A. They have a few cattle, but no sheep. They have now three horses that were taken down by Mr. Marsden in the Dromedary, and they have the bullocks that were taken there for drawing the timber from the woods.
Q. Do they show any aversion to the arrival or permanent settlement of strangers amongst them? A. No, they do not; they rather wish it. They frequently said that they would like to see Europeans in the country.
Q. Do you think that if a party of settlers from Europe were to establish themselves in any part of the country that you visited, and to begin to cultivate their land, making a fair agreement with the natives for it, that they would have to apprehend from their hostility? A. I should think it would be dangerous, especially if the settlement were dispersed, for in case of giving any offence to the natives their lives might be risked or lost. They are apt to take offence at the slightest thing, and are only appeased by presents. Amongst themselves they are very revengeful and never forget an injury.
Q. Do you think that the presence of an armed force would have any effect in repressing or controlling their desire of going to war amongst themselves? A. I think it would.
Q. By what means do you suppose that the missionaries have been able to protect themselves hitherto from the natives? A. From the desire of the natives to purchase of them or obtain from them articles of European manufacture, such as axes, hoes, and other things, and also from the hope that if they treated the missionaries well other persons might settle in New Zealand also, and that their trade would be extended.page 548
Q. Did the missionaries ever complain to you that the preference shown by the natives for muskets and gunpowder sold to them by the masters and crews of the whalers is prejudicial to the trade that they wished to carry on with them? A. They often made this complaint, and said that they could hardly obtain provisions from the natives for the goods that they were allowed to exchange.
Q. What are those goods? A. Axes, hoes, plane irons, fishhooks, &c. The same difficulty was experienced by the ship’s company of the Dromedary, and in consequence they were never able to procure by barter a fresh meal during the whole time that we were at New Zealand.
Q. How was the labor, then, of the natives in cutting and drawing timber to the ship paid for? A. I believe that the cutting the timber was paid for in axes. The natives had not strength nor indeed inclination on such terms to draw the timber when it was cut.
Q. Do the natives not like European food? A. They like bread and biscuit and tea and sugar, but do not buy them. They like pork, but they do not like salt meat. They seem to prefer their own food, fish and potatoes, to any other that can be supplied them.
Q. Are they fond of spirituous liquors? A. No, they are not. I never met with any New Zealander that liked spirits, even of those who had lived on board the whalers.
Q. Did you observe the missionaries had been successful in inspiring the natives with any sentiment of religion? A. I did not observe any.
Q. Did any of them attend Divine worship with the missionaries? A. I attended Divine worship once with the missionaries and a few of the natives attended, more from curiosity than otherwise.
Q. Had you any opportunity of knowing from the natives of their own religious notions? A. I was present once when the creation of the world was explained to them, and they listened attentively to it, but afterwards said it might be all very well, but they knew it was not the way in which New Zealand was made, for they knew that their god had fished it up with their fish-hooks, and as a proof they said that one of the natives present had seen one of the fish-hooks and that it was a large stone in the shape of a fish-hook in Cook’s Straits.page 549
Q. Have they any temples of worship? A. None; but they pray, and they believe in the existence of an invisible spirit.
Q. Have they priests? A. They have both priests and priestesses.
Q. Are the natives superstitious? A. Very much so, and they frequently say they hear the ghosts of their friends.
Q. I believe that you travelled thro’ some part of the country with Mr. Marsden that had never been visited before by Europeans? A. I did, as well as by myself.
Q. Had you arms? A. When I was with Mr. Marsden I had no arms. When I went by myself I took a fowling piece, but merely for amusement.
Q. What was the sort of reception that you met with from the natives? A. The greatest kindness and hospitality.
Q. Had you ever any reason to apprehend danger to yourself or to those who accompanied you? A. Never; no symptom of hostility was shewn to me.
Q. Did they make you presents, or did you always give something in return for the provisions they procured you? A. Generally, and always when I was with Mr. Marsden, or purchased anything. The last time I was by myself I took what they offered, and when I went away I made them a present.
Q. Did you observe any difference between the natives of the interior and those whom you saw on the coasts of New Zealand? A. I saw a great difference. The natives of the Bay of Islands are not so civil as those in the interior, and places where Europeans have not visited, are more cunning in their dealings, and have a sort of forward independence which those in the interior have not.
Q. Did any disputes take place between the natives and the crew of the Dromedary during her stay on the coasts? A. No disputes of any consequence.
Q. Did several come on board? A. Very few of the men except those who had business; several women lived on board.
Q. Did you understand that several American ships had touched at New Zealand latterly? A. Yes, I understood that several had. I saw two there.
Q. Had they taken cargoes? A. One of them, a whaler, had been the most successful ship on the coast, and the master said that if he could not fill up his ship he would take timber for masts of China junks to Canton.page 550
Q. What sort of fish did you obtain at New Zealand? A. A great variety and abundance, and many of the fish are very good. There are snappers (schnapper), mullet, bream, soles, eels, and a great quantity of cockles, and some rock oysters. There is likewise abundance of lobsters, or a fish between a lobster and a craw-fish. There are many other fish than these, particularly a long fish like an eel with scales, which the natives dry for their food.
Q. What effect do you think that the visit of the Dromedary had upon the minds and dispositions of the New Zealanders? A. At first I think they were afraid on seeing the soldiers; but when the object of their coming in the ship was explained to them they felt great confidence, and were very much attached to the soldiers.
Q. Did they seem to be impressed by the sight of any military manœurve performed in their presence? A. They were very fond of seeing the soldiers parade, even without arms, and one day—on the King’s Birthday—the detachment went on shore and fired, and they seemed greatly pleased.
Q. Did you see any of the natives that had been in England or at Port Jackson? A. I did.
Q. Had they preserved any remembrance of what they had seen or learnt there? A. They talked of it to us, and had preserved some knowledge of our manners and customs, but they did not seem to enjoy any distinction amongst their own countrymen in consequence of their visits.
Q. Did you observe that Mr. Marsden has acquired any influence over the natives? A. I think he has acquired more than any of the missionaries, and that the natives respect him more, as he is very kind to them, and promises to send more Europeans amongst them—an assurance that always gives them pleasure.