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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.

Description of New Zealand and its Inhabitants

page 469

Description of New Zealand and its Inhabitants.

The harbour to which M. Marion gave his name is on the coast of the south (?) of New Zealand in 35° 16′ southern latitude. Good anchorage is to be found there, sheltered from the winds from all quarters. The temperature is mild and agreeable, and, although the country is swampy, the air there is healthy, in that there is no excessive heat or cold. The soil is black, and appears to be fertile. Many deposits of iron are to be found, also red clay for making pottery, but the natives do not know how to make use of it. Some people contend that they have seen coal there. The country is, generally speaking, hilly, but what makes its aspect less disagreeable, and can only be attributed to the fertility of the soil, is the great quantity of timber to be found there, in this part of the country covering even the nakedness of the smallest rock. Of all the various kinds of timber we have seen, the species most useful to shipping is without doubt that

page 471

from which we cut our masts—one of 65 ft. and the other of 45 ft. This is a tree which has leaves similar to those of the box, and bears a fruit similar to that of the cypress. It grows to an extraordinary height, without any branches projecting. It produces a gum or resin which gives forth a very pleasant odour when it is burnt. This timber is almost as light as that of the pine-tree, and is perhaps much better. The others, the exact species of which were unknown to us, appeared to be suitable for building purposes and for all kinds of joinery-work.

There is also to be found on these shores a shrub which merits special praise. It is an excellent anti-scorbutic. We called it myrtle because it resembles that shrub both in its leaf and its odour. We found but few plants suitable for feeding our sick. We ate with pleasure a celery which is fairly common on the shore. The most common plants are the fern, the small and the large maidenhair, the lion's foot, and the stork-bill.