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From Tasman To Marsden.

6. Governor King's Visit, 1793

6. Governor King's Visit, 1793.

We have already seen (p. 80), that King, in order to remove all misapprehension from the minds of the Natives, had given them a promise that they would be taken to their homes at an early date. They had arrived at Norfolk Island at the end of April. On 2nd November Captain Raven arrived on board the Britannia from Dusky Sound (see “Murihiku," page 97), and, after a consultation between King and the Commander, the former decided to charter the Britannia to proceed to Knuckle Point and take the two New Zealanders back to their country. King also decided to accompany them.

As a fierce departmental controversy afterwards waged around King's departure from Norfolk Island, the entry in his Journal of the reasons which prompted him to take that course are here given.

“I always had a wish to accompany them back, that no unpleasant circumstances, happening in the course of the passage, might make them forget the kind treatment they received here. And as I had taken it upon me to detain the Britannia, a few days for that purpose, I judged it would be advisable to proceed in her myself, in order to prevent any unnecessary delay, or to return immediately, in case of calm or contrary page 83 winds. My being absent from the Island at this time for Ten days or a Fortnight did not appear to me to be of any material consequence, as it will be three weeks before the commencement of the Harvest and I had every reason to be assured of the regular and orderly behaviour of the Inhabitants, during the few days I might be absent."

In a letter to Under Secretary Nepean, whose brother—Captain Nepean—King had left in charge at Norfolk Island, the latter refers to the possibility of a Settlement in New Zealand and of the control of the same being placed in his hands. There was probably at the back of King's mind an idea that he might yet have the Governorship of New Zealand, and it fitted in with his inclinations. Captain Nepean, to whom King delegated his authority during his absence, was returning to England in the Britannia for the benefit of his health, and his appointment to the command of the Island, over the heads of the three local subalterns, gave very great offence to King's officers. Captain Nepean was a brother of the Under Secretary. The author would not suggest for a moment that Nepean was put by King over the heads of the local men because he was the Under Secretary's brother, and because King wanted a New Zealand command, for obtaining which U.S. Nepean's help would be of great value. It was simply a coincidence—a political coincidence.

In addition to the two New Zealanders, King took the Rev. Mr. Bain, Assistant Surgeon Thomas Jamison, Secretary and Storekeeper W. N. Chapman, and two non-commissioned officers, and twelve privates as a guard in case of landing, and went on board the Britannia on the afternoon of 8th November. Four days later she rounded the North Cape. Mr. W. N. Chapman, it should be noted, was grand uncle of the Hon. F. R. Chapman, our well-known Supreme Court Judge. Mr. Bain was the first English-speaking clergyman recorded as visiting New Zealand.

As soon as the Britannia rounded the Cape six large canoes came towards her, and when within hailing distance their occupants recognised Tuki. The six canoes were soon in- page 84 creased to seven, representing about 140 Natives, who came alongside, and, to the number of about 100, welcomed the long-lost wanderers. Tuki learned from one of them—a woman who was related to him—that his father was still inconsolable at his loss. Until seven in the evening a continuous trade was carried on with the Natives, iron hoops and other articles were exchanged for flax cloth, patoo-patoos, spears, greenstone ornaments, paddles, fishhooks, and lines.

At seven, the Britannia took advantage of a light breeze and made for the Bay of Islands. At nine, four men came to the ship in a canoe, sold the canoe to Captain Raven, and remained on board all night. These men told Huru of an incursion of a hostile tribe into his territory and the death of the son of his chief with 30 warriors, much to the grief of Huru, who vowed to have vengeance on his return home.

Delayed by a calm, little progress was made towards the Bay of Islands, and at daylight a number of canoes came off bringing among them a very venerable old chief whom Huru recognised as the principal chief of that district. After the formalities of the reception had been attended to, King made the old man a present of a green baize mantle, for a Native one presented to him by the chief. So many Natives now came around that the poop had to be kept clear by being made tapu.

The short time that King could allow himself was rapidly passing, and the proposed destination was still some distance off. The weather, too, appeared as if it would come up rough from the southward and stop further progress in that direction. The trouble was what was to be done with the two Natives. Notwithstanding the stories heard of friendliness between the tribes, King felt a doubt about his friends going ashore, and suggested that all hands should return to Norfolk Island and there await some other opportunity of getting home. In the midst of this uncertainty the arrival of the venerable old chief set everything at rest, he confirmed the news of the friendly relations, that was enough, they were now the words of a chief.

As a final act of precaution King explained to the chief how much he was interested in his two friends returning to page 85 their homes. He loaded him with presents and promised to return later and further reward him when he found that all was well. Then the chief put his hand to the side of his head, making King do the same, and joined noses, remaining thus for some minutes, the old chief muttering some ceremonial words. This was repeated with Tuki and Huru, and the whole ended with a dance. By this the old chief had become a father to them, and had guaranteed to conduct them himself to their homes.

While King was preparing his presents, Tuki addressed the others on deck and told them what he had been doing during his long absence. When he told them that he had been only three days sail from New Zealand, he showed, in proof of it, a cabbage that had been cut five days before in King's garden. Tremendous applause from the New Zealanders.

At the request of Tuki and Huru, an exhibition of military exercises was given by the soldiers. Before sanctioning it, King was careful to allay any fears which the demonstration might cause in the breasts of the New Zealanders by telling them that their mission there was one of peace, and that the demonstration was only being given at their request. About 150 Natives witnessed the soldiers go through the manual, and then fire three volleys, after which two cannons were loaded, one with a single shot, and the other with grape, and their discharge was the climax of the military entertainment provided for them by King and Raven.

The parting was a most affecting one, and the crew gave their departing guests three hearty cheers, which were returned as well as a hasty lesson given by Tuki to his countrymen could enable to be done. In five days King was back at Norfolk Island.

Of implements King gave his guests hand axes, a small assortment of carpenters' tools, six spades, some hoes, knives, scissors, and razors; of grain, two bushels of maize, one of wheat, two of peas, and a quantity of garden seeds; of animals, ten young sows and two boars. An attempt to introduce goats failed through all the animals dying.