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From Tasman To Marsden.


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On 7th January the whaler Catherine entered the Bay and cast anchor near Korokoro's village. On the fifteenth Captain Graham visited Mr. and Mrs. Hall at their new quarters at Waitangi and there left a boat for the convenience of the Mission. After he had returned on board the Catherine, and in the absence of the Natives who belonged to Waitangi, some strangers came over from the other side of the Bay and began to make free with things on the Station. Having mounted the sawyers' house and been ordered by Hall to come down, they seized him, threw him on the ground, and threatened him with death. When Mrs. Hall saw the fearful position of her husband she rushed to his aid, but was met by a Native who brutally knocked her down. Some friendly Natives who heard the commotion ran to Hall's assistance, but were too late to prevent the place being plundered of guns, axes, tools, cooking utensils, fire-irons, and bedding. Left in this manner destitute of all comforts, Hall gladly accepted the kind offer of Captain Graham of men and boats to remove him to Rangihoua, where he arrived three days after the attack. For the time being the Waitangi Settlement was abandoned, and the judgment of Marsden, who in the first instance put his veto on it on the ground of uncertainty of personal protection while residing there, was justified.

On 22nd January there was a great gathering of Natives at the Bay from far and near, and some who came from the North Cape told at the Settlement that the Betsy had been lost at the extreme north of the Island, and that the Captain and all the crew but eight had perished. The survivors had come ashore in a boat, and had been robbed of their clothes and muskets and powder, after which, fearful for their lives, they had sailed away in a boat for the Three Kings Islands, so it was thought.

The first vessel to arrive at the Bay after the news of the Betsy had been received was the Queen Charlotte from Sydney, whence she had cleared on 4th January, bound to Tahiti for a cargo of sandalwood and pork. After leaving the Bay Captain Powell endeavoured to go to the relief of the ship- page 198 wrecked mariners, but the weather was against him and his vessel was blown off, so he was compelled to abandon the attempt.

On 24th January the Active sailed for the Bay of Islands, intending to go on afterwards to the Mission Station at Tahiti. On board of her were Mrs. Hansen, senr., and Thomas Hansen and his newly married wife. Mr. William Carlisle, a settler from Richmond who was going over to Rangihoua to help Mr. Kendall, was also on board. On the road to the Bay the Active called in at “Rimgatan," which the author thinks is intended for Cape Reinga, and learned from the Natives that the survivors of the Betsy had been there but had returned to Murimootu at the North Cape. Calling in at Murimootu as he passed, Captain Hansen found two Europeans and four lascars in a most pitiable condition, and straightway took them on board.

Beside the story of the Betsy, the accounts of all other tragedies connected with the sealing trade on the New Zealand coast sink into insignificance. As a tragedy it is a tragedy of tragedies, as a story of a voyage of suffering it has no parallel in New Zealand history.

The Betsy was a vessel in the employ of Mr. Joseph Underwood, the chief Sydney trader with the southern sealing islands; her captain was Phillip Goodenough, and her crew consisted of twenty-seven Europeans and six lascars. Leaving Sydney on 28th December 1814, she arrived safely at Macquarie Island on 13th February 1815, and there landed her gang and stores. The gang consisted of thirteen persons, all on shares; the prospects of the season were good, particularly for elephant oil, and all hands were in the best of spirits.

Having landed her Macquarie Island gang, the Betsy proceeded to Auckland Island. There she lost a European named Thomas Wilman, and a lascar, from scurvy. In August 1815, she sailed for Macquarie Island, which was reached in due course, but a few days afterwards she was blown out to sea and spent no less than three weeks in the vain attempt to again make the land. Baffled in his long page 199 struggle Goodenough made for Port Jackson, but on his way he encountered heavy N.W. gales and was compelled to shape his course for New Zealand. The resources of the vessel were now taxed to the uttermost. The allowance of water was down to one-and-a-half pints per man per day, and there being no bread, water and flour had to be mixed and eaten; in the absence of a sufficient supply of water the salt pork on board was useless. On 18th September a heavy sea carried away the rudder, and an attempt was made to steer with a cable; this proved too laborious an operation and another rudder was constructed, but this also, on the twenty-sixth, met with the same fate as the first. From this time onward the crew were compelled to use the cable in steering. Serious as had been the condition of the vessel up to the present, day by day now added to the list of calamities until the state of the crew became appalling. Scurvy had obtained such a hold of the men that the master and eight Europeans were invalided with it; it manifested itself in swollen limbs, contracted sinews, and excruciating pains. Water was down to one pint per day with six pounds of flour per week. The sick men were only allowed four pounds. This miserable supply of food sadly reduced the strength of those who were not actually laid aside. The lascars were of no use for the trying labour devolving upon them. The few healthy men had gradually become too weak to labour except during the daytime. The result was that from sunset to sunrise the vessel was allowed to drift about with every change of wind and weather.

Death soon came to end the wretched existence of the exhausted men. On 28th September, Laurenza, a Portuguese, died, and on the thirtieth John Wilson followed. On 5th October the body of John Moffatt the first mate was committed to the deep, and three days later, while they lay becalmed within sight of Cook Strait, a Portuguese named Cordoza expired. Water had now been reduced to half a pint per day. The sight of land served to revive hope in the breasts of the despondent men, but that gave way to the depth of despair when a breeze sprung up and they were carried out once more to sea.

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On 23rd October the doomed vessel was off the Bay of Islands and made an attempt to run in, but a sudden squall coming on, the main brace and top sail sheet gave way, the top sail was blown to shreds, and the jib fore topsail went to pieces. A second time she drifted off the shore. This time, however, no strength was left among the men to do anything but remain on the vessel while she drifted about, at one time threatened with destruction on rocks, at another with foundering at sea. On the twenty-eighth the last water cask was dry. In despair their remaining strength was marshalled to make a whale boat and a jolly boat water tight, and after infinite labour these were launched twenty miles from land on the morning of the twenty-ninth. By this time the third officer, William Grub, had died and been buried at sea.

In the jollyboat were placed four helpless men, John Tire, John Gabb, John Davies, and Fred Holstein; in th [sic: the] whale boat to tow them were the master, in the last stage of illness, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Hunt, and five lascars; a sixth lascar had shortly before been drowned. Exhausted with the ravages of disease, and freighted with the unfortunate cargo in the jollyboat, the whaleboat battled away for an hour and a-half without making any headway. When it became apparent that further struggling meant the loss of all hands, they discussed the position among themselves, and finally decided that nothing else could be done but abandon the sick men to their fate. The jollyboat was accordingly hauled alongside, and a bag of flour taken out; a lascar engaged in baling out the water was also transhipped. None of the sick men commented upon their awful fate, the only words which passed being a request by one of them to have his coat, as the air was cold. The opinion of those in the whaleboat was that in two hours at most all would be over. In defence of this awful action the men stated that it was impossible to receive the four sick men into the whaleboat.

After twelve hours of incessant toil the whaleboat reached the coast of New Zealand near the North Cape. Out of nineteen persons who were on board, eight got on shore alive, page 201 viz., Captain Goodenough, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Hunt, and five lascars. One of the lascars died after landing, as also did the Captain, on 1st November 1815. No sooner were they upon land than they fell into the hands of the Natives, who robbed them of their small supply of flour, and gave them in exchange a few potatoes. During the time of their captivity the wretched men lived in constant apprehension of personal violence. Regardless of their physical suffering they were driven from place to place, and frequently threatened with spears. The two Europeans were separated from the lascars, and at dusk were taken away in a canoe, for the purpose, they feared, of being devoured. After proceeding about a mile and a-half they perceived a large fire on shore, which confirmed them in the belief that they were destined for a cannibal feast. Here they were landed and received by a concourse of Natives, who obliged them to carry a basket of potatoes towards another group of men and women among whom were the four lascars. Upon being questioned by Rogers and Hunt as to the treatment they were likely to receive, the lascars told them it had been decided to devour them both, which from all the surrounding circumstances appeared very probable.

The same night (2nd November) they were placed in a hut, and next morning advanced further along the coast, sinking with fatigue and long fasting. Harassed in this manner for several days, they at length received the good news that their lives would be spared, but that they would become the property of their first captors. Fern root and dried fish were the only sustenance the place afforded, and even this was not plentiful. On the ninth a ship hove in sight, but did not approach the land. Two days later a brig coasted in near the shore, and the chiefs agreed to let them get on board if they could manage it. A canoe was obtained and every effort made, but when they had made the little craft ready for the water the brig was past. On 29th January 1816, they left Murimootu at the North Cape, and went to Cape Reinga, some distance away, but being worse off here than before, they returned to Murimootu, and on 23rd Feb- page 202 ruary were taken off by the brig Active, the master of which had learnt their condition at Cape Reinga. The four lascars were left under the charge of the missionaries at the Bay of Islands, and the two Europeans proceeded in the Active to Tahiti.

In March the Bay was visited by the Endeavour, the third vessel belonging to the New South Wales New Zealand Company. This visit was due to the fact that a number of convicts had escaped in her when she left Sydney on 9th February. Captain Hammond, who was a stranger to New South Wales conditions, consulted his officers, and it was decided to make for the Bay of Islands and hand over the prisoners to the Magistrate there. On 4th March the Endeavour arrived, and the five men were offered to Kendall, who declined to receive them unless six months provisions were left with them, which the Endeavour could not afford to do. After staying two days the Endeavour sailed, and at the Island of Dominick the runaways either got or took their liberty.

As the year wore on the New South Wales New Zealand Company's ships began to arrive at Sydney. On 8th August the Trial came into port from Tahiti and the Marquesas, with six tons of pork and twenty of sandalwood, and on 1st October arrived the Endeavour with a somewhat similar cargo. In the latter also came up Rogers and Hunt, the survivors of the Betsy, who had left the Active at Huahine.

By this time Governor Macquarie was in possession of a reply from Earl Bathurst to the application of the Company's promoters, intimating that he could not see his way to advise the granting of the Royal sanction to the proposition. It was evident that the Company's course was run.

Apparently the first vessel to sail from the Bay of Islands after the departure of the Active for Tahiti in March was the King George on her road from the Marquesas and Tahiti to Sydney. She brought up Mr. Carlisle, who had gone down in the Active to help Mr. Kendall in his scholastic work. This gentleman's report to the press was very favourable to the Mission work:

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“the natives there are also in a very improving way, the school being daily attended by nearly 60 young persons, many of whom begin to read and spell, and all are very attentive to some Gospel passages, which have been printed in their own language. Since the formation of the Missionary establishment, the spirit of contention among the different tribes of natives which had formerly been productive of the most calamitous consequences, has so happily declined that barbarous conflicts are no more considered as a necessary policy, and the inhabitants of distant places visit one another, and interchange their wishes of an amicable intercourse. They are also extending the means of life which industry affords, by attending to the culture of grain and vegetables, with which their new friends have acquainted them."

In addition to this glowing report, Mr. Carlisle “brought with him a drawing of our at present small settlement at the Bay of Islands, which contains several houses erected for the accommodation of the Missionaries and the mechanics who accompany them."

The New Zealand timber ex the King George was sold to James Smith, who advertised its sale in the Sydney Gazette of December 14, 1816:

“Mr. James Smith having made a Purchase of the New Zealand Pine imported from that Island by the King George, begs to inform the Public that the said Timber is for Disposal at his Residence, No. 68, Georgestreet."

On 29th December the Active returned from her long voyage of eleven months to Tahiti via the Bay of Islands. Needless to say, Marsden replaced Hansen by another commander.

As the old year was passing in the Mother Country a young New Zealand chief belonging to the Bay of Islands, who had lived for some time with Marsden in his Seminary at Parramatta, was quietly gathered to his fathers in a lonely lodging house in Edgeware Road, London. Maui, the chief page 204 in question, had come across with Marsden on board the Active, and had remained among his countrymen to assist the Mission scheme by taking part in their education. After the departure of the Active the roving fever again took hold of him, and he shipped as a sailor on board the Jefferson, bound for England, which he reached in May 1816.

Finding him an encumbrance, the Captain of the Jefferson took Maui to the House of the Church Missionary Society in Salisbury Square, and there handed him over to the protection of the Committee, to be taken charge of until a vessel could be found to take him back to New Zealand. On 10th June the young chief was sent to Paddington, to the home of the Rev. Basil Woode, who made provision for him to lodge in Edgeware Road and receive instruction at a Charity School close at hand. Under careful tuition Maui made rapid progress in his education, showing a wonderful aptitude for euclid, and for drawing and the preparation of plans for buildings. As would be natural under such partonage his religious education was not neglected, and lessons were given him in the most approved methods of instructing others, in order to add to his usefulness when he should return.

Marsden, in Australia, had found it no easy task to acclimatise New Zealanders to the clear skies of Parramatta, so that it was only to be expected that in England the skies of a London autumn and winter had trouble in store. As the season wore on the rigorous climate made inroads in the constitution of the New Zealander, and a cough which he contracted in November rapidly developed into consumption, and carried him off on 28th December. The story of Maui was given a good deal of attention by chroniclers of missionary news of that date, so much being expected from the early promise of the young New Zealander, but in the light of later happenings it is doubtful whether the hopes of the Society would have been realised.