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From Tasman To Marsden.

Chapter VI. — Stray Visitors, 1773 to 1793

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Chapter VI.
Stray Visitors, 1773 to 1793.


Page 75.—Furneaux Visits Tolaga Bay, 1773.


Page 76.—Discovery of the Kermadecs, 1788.


Page 77.—H.M.S. Gorgon's Visit, 1792.


Page 77.—Kidnapping Flax Dressers, 1792 and 1793.


Page 81.—D'Entrecasteaux's Visit, 1793.


Page 82.—Governor King's Visit, 1793.

1. Furneaux Visits Tolaga Bay, 1773.

The circumstances surrounding the sending out of a second Expedition under Cook have been already dealt with when reviewing the events connected with the exploration of the South Island, and there is no need to do more here than refer to them in the most cursory manner.

Cook's Second Expedition comprised two vessels, the Resolution under Cook himself, and the Adventure under Tobias Furneaux. It sailed from England in July 1772, and from the Cape of Good Hope the following November. On 8th February 1773 the two vessels separated, and Furneaux made for Van Diemen's Land, where he spent some time exploring the southern and eastern coastline. From there he sailed for Queen Charlotte Sound, where he came to an anchor on 7th April, and eleven days later was joined by Cook who had in the meantime refreshed his crew in Dusky Sound.

During the Expedition's visit to Tahiti, which took place later, the two vessels were in company, and after leaving that place the association continued until 21st October, when, on their road to Queen Charlotte Sound once more, they sighted the east coast of New Zealand at Table Head.

page 76

Making south, Furneaux, on 25th October, encountered a very severe gale in the latitude of Cape Palliser, and, four days later, lost sight of the Resolution. A short spell of fine weather was experienced on 4th November, and some canoes took advantage of it to pay a visit to the Adventure, but after getting round Cape Palliser a heavy N.W. gale came up, which shortly chopped round to the south and very nearly cast the Adventure on to the Cape. After a fortnight of vain effort to get through the Strait, Furneaux, on 6th November, made for the shelter of one of the bays further up the coast.

On the ninth the anchor was let go in Tolaga Bay, and after two days Furneaux put to sea, but bad weather compelled him to return to his anchorage and kept him there until the sixteenth. During the stay at Tolaga Bay fresh fish, herbs, and sweet potatoes, were brought to the ship's side in great quantities, and the Natives showed themselves very friendly in their dealings with the visitors.

Though the Adventure left Tolaga Bay on 16th November, it was not until the afternoon of the thirtieth that Furneaux reached Ship Cove and found that Cook had come and gone. In a letter left in the Cove the Commander stated that he was sailing on the twenty-sixth, and would cruise for three or four days about the eastern mouth of the Strait. As during the whole of these days Furneaux had been in and about the eastern mouth of the Strait, it seemed strange that they had missed one another. As a matter of fact Cook sailed on the twenty-fifth, and that day searched Cape Terawitte and along to Cape Palliser; the following day he sailed over in the direction of Cape Campbell, and in the evening made south in continuation of his voyage.

2. Discovery of the Kermadecs, 1788.

Since the last-recorded event in our narrative, the Colony of New South Wales had been established by Governor Philip on the shores of Port Jackson. Among the First Fleet which entered the magnificent harbour where Sydney now stands, was a transport called the Lady Penrhyn, under the command of Captain Sever. Her destination, after receiving her dis- page 77 charge from the public service, was China. On 5th May 1788, she sailed from Port Jackson, and, on the afternoon of the thirty-first, came in sight of several islands, the existence of which had been hitherto unknown. To the northernmost the name Macaulay Island was given, after G.M. the father of Lord Macaulay; to the southernmost, Curtis' Islands, after Timothy and William Curtis.

As scurvy had a very firm hold of the vessel's crew, Captain Sever ordered out a small boat, and landed on Macaulay Island to look for something for his men, but the island proved such a scene of desolation, and so barren of everything which scorbutic men required, that he returned empty handed to his ship, and continued his journey eastward.

Lieutenant Watts and the steward on board the Lady Penrhyn had both served on board the Resolution under Cook, and, when they arrived at Matavai Bay, were welcomed by an old chief who recalled their presence on Cook's vessel. There Watts learned that Omai, and the two New Zealanders who had been brought from Queen Charlotte Sound in 1777, were dead.

3. H.M.S. Gorgon's Visit, 1792.

H.M.S. Gorgon, during a voyage round the world under the command of Captain John Parker, sailed past the Three Kings and the north of New Zealand on 5th January 1792. No attempt was made to land, those on board contenting themselves with merely noting the “desolate barren and rocky" appearance of the coastline from the North Cape to Cape Maria van Diemen. Up to this time no British vessel is recorded as having sailed between the Three Kings and the mainland. Tasman had done it in 1643, De Surville in 1769, and Marion in 1772; Cook, our solitary representative in the vicinity, had passed outside the islands.

4. Kidnapping Flax Dressers, 1792 and 1793.

The information regarding flax, given to the world by Cook, naturally brought up the subject of its use when schemes were being proposed for the settlement of New South page 78 Wales, and three of the schemes which secured prominence dealt with the question of trade in New Zealand flax. These schemes were drafted between 1783 and 1786. Philip, the first Governor, suggested, in 1787, that the plant should be imported into New South Wales. Settlements were established in 1788 at Sydney and at Norfolk Island, in the latter of which places flax was found to grow.

The first man to suggest the introduction into Norfolk Island of New Zealand Natives to explain the method of producing the fibre was Lieutenant Governor Philip Gidley King, in London, on 10th January 1791, in a document in which he says:—“Every method has been tried to work it; but I much fear that until a native of New Zealand can be carried to Norfolk Island that the method of dressing that valuable commodity will not be known; and could that be obtained, I have no doubt but Norfolk Island would very soon cloath the inhabitants of New South Wales."

King never allowed his idea of learning the proper treatment of the flax from the New Zealanders to lie dormant. On board the Gorgon, at Teneriffe, on his road to New South Wales, under date 18th April 1791, he wrote Under Secretary Nepean urging that “two or three New Zealanders would be necessary." When at the Cape of Good Hope later on he met Vancouver, then on his voyage of discovery to N.W. America, and requested him, if it should ever be in his power to do so, to procure two New Zealanders and send them to New South Wales to teach the method of preparing the flax fibre.

As a result of King's insistence, the Right Hon. Henry Dundas instructed the Lords of the Admiralty under date 6th July 1791, to utilise the Daedalus to take “a flax-dresser or two" from New Zealand to Sydney. The Daedalus was just then being sent as a store ship to meet Vancouver in N.W. America. The formal Instructions to Vancouver were dated 20th August, and Vancouver's Instructions to Lieut. Hanson to carry out the work were dated from Monterey Bay, 29th December 1792. Hanson, on his road from the American coast to Sydney, was to call in at Doubtless Bay page 79 or “any port near the north extremity" and procure one or two of the Natives who were “versed" in the operations necessary to extract the flax fibre.

During the year and more that it took to get to this point King had not been idle. Satisfied that the only solution was a New Zealander, he approached the Captain of the whaler William and Ann, who was going to whale on the N.E. coast of New Zealand, to obtain two Natives from the Bay of Islands or Mercury Bay. The Lt.-Governor went so far as to offer him £100 to bring two Natives to Norfolk Island. The Captain went to Doubtless Bay “but could not prevail on any of the inhabitants to accompany him." The idea of force seems not to have been thought of.

As the William and Ann sailed from Norfolk Island on 19th December 1791, she would visit Doubtless Bay early in 1792—probably in January. She is, therefore, the first whaler on the New Zealand coast, further, hers is the first commercial voyage to New Zealand. Her commander was Eb. Bunker.

Carrying out the instructions he had received at Monterey in December, Lieutenant Hanson reached the coast of New Zealand about the beginning of April 1793. The Natives came off in great numbers to the Daedalus, and, knowing them to have the character of being troublesome, daring, and insolent, Hanson did not think it prudent to wait and examine closely whether any of those who came within his power knew anything about flax. He took the other course of imprisoning the first Natives whom he could lay his hands on. Two young men were inveigled out of a canoe and taken below under the pretence of receiving presents, and all sail was then set on the vessel. Food was given them and every artifice adopted to keep their attention off what was going on around them, until, after a couple of hours, they found themselves far from the shore and no canoes handy, even had they been able to utilise them. The Daedalus had not even come to an anchor to accomplish this strange mission, Hanson not caring to risk his page 80 valuable cargo, and his crew, the greater part of whom were incapacitated with sickness.

The story told by the two Natives (Tuki and Huru) to Lt.-Governor King is that Tuki was on a visit to Huru when the Daedalus appeared in sight of the latter's home. The following morning the ship was again in sight, but at a great distance and close to two islands. Curiosity, and the hope of getting iron, induced our two friends and other notables to launch their canoes and proceed to the larger of the two islands where they were joined by others of their friends. They were some time about the ship before their canoe ventured alongside. When they did, iron tools and other articles were passed into the canoe and they were pressed by Hanson to come on board. Tuki and Huru were anxious to get on board but were at first prevented by their friends, finally they went on deck and “were blinded by the curious things they saw." They were induced to go below and partake of some meat. One of them saw the canoes astern and realising that the ship was sailing away, they became frantic with grief and broke the cabin windows, but were prevented getting overboard. While those in the canoes could hear them they advised them to make home lest a like fate should befall them.

They were not long in being reconciled to their fate, and Lieutenant Hanson landed them at Port Jackson on 15th April. Two days later they were put on board the Shah Hormuzear and sailed for Norfolk Island.

On their arrival at Norfolk Island it was found that they knew little about the working of the flax fibre. Huru was a warrior, and Tuki a priest, and the working of flax was done specially by the women. What little knowledge they possessed they hesitated to impart lest they might be set to that work and kept at it. King got over this difficulty by making them understand that after they had taught the women to prepare the flax they should be sent back to New Zealand, and from that time onward their relationship with King, in whose house they resided, was of the most friendly and intimate nature.

page 81

5. D'Entrecasteaux's Visit, 1793.

In 1791, after a three years' silence regarding the whereabouts of La Perouse who had last been heard of at Botany Bay, the National Assembly requested the King of France to direct that one or more ships be fitted out to look for and settle the fate of the long-missing navigator. Admiral D'Entrecasteaux was appointed to command the Expedition and was placed aboard the Recherche, and Captain Huon Kermadec commanded the Espérance.

The Expedition left Brest on 10th September 1791, and, on 28th February 1793, sailed from Adventure Bay in Van Diemen's Land, bound for the Friendly Islands. At day-break on 10th March, the Three Kings were sighted to the north of New Zealand, and smoke was seen ascending from the easternmost island. Between 10 and 11 a.m. the coast of New Zealand was seen, and at half-past five two canoes put off the shore towards the ships. At first they seemed doubtful of the Frenchmen, but in a short time overcame their fears and ranged up alongside to barter.

For trade they had bundles of flax which they exchanged for cloth of different colours. Whenever iron was shown them they recognised it at once by the sound made when two pieces were struck together, and, transported with joy at the sight of it, they were prepared to barter almost anything they had in their canoes, even disposing of their arms, and stripping themselves of their clothes for the same purpose. At sunset a third canoe came upon the scene as the others were leaving.

The Frenchmen noticed that after dark, when small quantities of powder were fired on the Recherche, to indicate their presence to the Espérance, the Natives showed no surprise, but continued their trading without interruption. Half-an-hour or so after dark the New Zealanders paddled towards the shore, and at daybreak D'Entrecasteaux sailed for the Friendly Islands.

The French Commander noted that the North Cape was 36' more to the eastward than Cook had laid it down.

On 16th March 1793, in the afternoon, the look-out sighted a large rock. This is now known as the Espérance page 82 Rock, and is situated in latitude 31° 26′ S., and longitude 178° 55′ W. The next day the Curtis Islands were sighted, and the day following, at dawn, a comparatively large island was discovered and named La Recherche Island, after the name of the Commander's ship. The name La Recherche was afterwards changed to Raoul, after Joseph Raoul, first pilot of the Recherche. The Island is sometimes called Sunday Island, the name given by Captain Raven after his visit to it on Sunday, 6th November 1796, when on board the Britannia bound for England. To the whole group the name Kermadec was given after the captain of the Espérance.

From the Kermadecs D'Entrecasteaux sailed for the Friendly Islands.

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.