The New Zealand Evangelist
The winter here has thus far been very severe—gales of wind, torrents of rain, and hard frost in succession during the month of June. On the 18th I returned from Manawapou, on the coast, from visiting the people. The elements were all in commotion, thunder and lightning, rain and hail, with heavy gusts of wind driving clouds of sand, the sea tossing and roaring, reminded me of the events of the 18th of June, that day 34 years, which I remembered reading, when the French were beaten by the allied powers on the plains of Waterloo. In my interviews with the natives, I find an increasing desire among some of them to adopt European habits, others tenaciously adhere to the usages of their ancestors, the remonstrances of the missionaries and the arguments of the “Karere Maori” proving ineffectual.
An old custom called Whainga (feasting) is getting out of fashion among the better informed of the Ngatiruanui. The plan of calling together from distant places men, women, and children, for the purpose of eating, for that is the great attraction, is attended with little good. Accidents often occur; a woman and child were drowned lately in attending one at Otake or Manganuioteno, which has produced a painful sensation. The hui ought to be seldom resorted to, and great care manifested in the management of them.
The people of Manawapou and other neighbouring places are conferring with Mr. McLean, for a page 101 Flour Mill for themselves, but that gentleman has given them to understand that the money must be deposited before the work is begun. Very proper, as some might be disposed to shuffle out of the engagement, as has been the case in some previous erections, to the loss and annoyance of the contractors. Death is busy this way. Six of our people have lately died. Four were females. There is a painful disproportion in the sexes. The natives seem to be diminishing every where, as far as my observation goes. The children are fed with improper food, and disease is engendered which defies the power of medicine.