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The Early Journals of Henry Williams

III — April to May 1829

page 150

April to May 1829

“Stripping” party from Rangihoua — Hahunga of Hongi's bones at Whangaroa.

Monday, 6 April 1829. By 10 a.m. on the way to the Kerikeri, where we arrived at 2 p.m. Commenced business.

Tuesday, 7. All day at business—rec'd note from Hokianga, much disturbance between Mr. Brown1 and his men, some nearly shot. Rec'd Letters from Mr. Marsden by Cap. Henry.

Wednesday, 8. Ret'd by 4 p.m. to Paihia. Six of the children very unwell owing to the chicken-pox.

Thursday, 9. A most restless night owing to the children. Learnt the particulars of the awful death of Mr. Howe, Government printer at Sydney, a great professor of religion in the Wesleyan connection. Occupied five hours in attention at the English school. Much thought of extending cultivation beyond the settlement also of planting hedges.

Saturday, 11. Considerable disturbance among the boys in the celebrating of a native marriage, which by the by was not celebrated as the bridegroom could not maintain his claim. Kawa one of my brother's men had long been favourably disposed towards Tu, a girl about 13 or 14 years of age, residing at Mr. Fairburn's, to which her brother had some time given his consent providing that a girl living at my brother's should be given to him as his spouse, but this last young lady not agreeing to the proposal withdrew herself from the settlement, and the brother immediately put a negative to the marriage of his sister to Kawa. It was consequently determined by us to leave the matter for them to conclude, it being clearly understood that Tu was well disposed to Kawa, tho in all probability no conversation had existed between them. After dinner the girl was conducted by Kawa's friends to his house, and in a page 151 few minutes her brother arrived with his supporters and demanded her. She was accordingly brought out, when both parties seized her some pulling one way some the other beside many kicks and thumps which she had from her own relations. At length they prevailed and she was glad to run to her former residence. Kawa being much mortified went up the river in order to recover his spirits.

Sunday, 12. Service as usual.

Monday, 13. Rec'd a considerable quantity of salt fish from Paroa. Wenako one of Mr. Davis' men left him being jealous of his wife.

Tuesday, 14. In the evening when the natives were assembled at prayers past sunset a child outside called out, a fight, a fight, when all in an instant rose and rushed out, when we learnt that Wenako had brought a party of natives from Rangihoua and had cleared off everything they could lay their hands on from Mr. Davis's native place. When arrived round the point we observed about 20 men loading their muskets. They put themselves in a posture of defiance, but as they did not appear disposed to return our things which they had taken we seized the Chief of the expedition Tatari and held him until they were brought back, after which Taewanga, whose child had nearly been cast into the fire, took from them a musket as payment. They returned to Rangihoua evidently much ashamed and angry with Wenako, who had instigated them to the act. They had waited for the ringing of the bell for native prayers and stole quietly upon us, when no one was present.

Wednesday, 15. Before Kiripiro, a chief from Rangihoua, whose musket had been taken the evening before, came to request his musket should be given up, but he was told that unless the things were returned which had been stolen and satisfaction made to Taewanga the musket would not be given up. About 4 p.m. a canoe came from Rangihoua with upwards of 30 men, nearly all armed with muskets. They demanded the musket, but we repeated to them the declaration of the morning, upon which they all arose and proceeded to break the fence round Taewanga's house, but still evidently checked by what had been said to them. At length in darted two of Tohitapu's wives, which appeared to put a stop to all further proceedings. After a few minutes noise all sat down, but in a short time, observing a fowling piece belonging to Mr. Puckey in the hands of one of our natives, they made an attempt to seize it, but failed, and in the scuffle a chief named Hokai gave me a blow on the calf of my leg, which at the moment I was not aware of. During the remainder of the day I was scarcely able to move. After sunset two of the chiefs came to negotiate for the gun, page 152 when it was proposed that a slave girl should be given to Taewanga as a restitution. Tohitapu arrived from Wangai in time to present the musket; which he did in due form; after which the canoe departed. They were to return on the morrow to bring the slave girl.

Thursday, 16. My leg exceedingly painful, scarcely able to put my leg to the ground. In the afternoon the canoe returned from Rangihoua, with a girl according to promise. Gave out some flour for stir-about and concluded peace.

Friday, 17. Good Friday. My leg so painful that I could not move out. During service a large canoe was observed coming toward us. All the natives rushed out of the Chapel and prepared for action, but to the relief of all learnt that it was Ururoa from Wangaroa.

Saturday, 18. Passed over in quietness. Determined to proceed by water to Wangaroa to the Hahunga of 'Hongi's bones in company with Tohitapu, should it be fine.

Sunday, 19. Service as usual. Tohitapu came with whom I had some very pleasing conversation. He had been solicited by the natives of Kororarika to go and reside there as the Chief of the place, which to these people is a lucrative situation on account of the Shipping, but he declined saying that he should not leave us. He was asked if we gave him muskets and powder &c., to which he replied that he had these things and cared not for them; that he would make rafters of them for his house. Tho there remains much of the native superstition about him, still it is universally acknowledged amongst the natives that he is a changed character. A few years since he was dreaded as a priest and as very treacherous. He has for a length of time been our most substantial friend.

Monday, 20. A very fine morning, wind from S.W. Tohitapu at my window before break of day. By 7.30 Mr. Puckey and I with Tohitapu left the beach in my boat and soon overtook the Roroa in their six canoes. About 10 we landed at Waehihi, a small bay, where the natives cooked their food. About noon we were again afloat. The wind not fair. Pulled into the bay towards Tapuetahi, from whence we had a pleasant sail along the coast. We all laid off —— and conversed some time with the people belonging to the place, but did not land, as it was near sunset, but passed on to a small bay, where we landed to sup, after which Tohitapu laid down, and would not be disturbed tho I called him several times, that we might proceed as not half our voyage was yet performed and the wind fair and night very fine. But he would not move, and from all that I could observe it appeared that we were detained for the purpose of his having a dream. We accordingly left him page 153 and his party, and proceeded on to Wangaroa. After entering the Heads we landed kindled a fire and laid down to sleep.

Tuesday, 21. Slept comfortably tho my blankets were very wet with the dew. At 9 o'clock Tohitapu with the Taua came round the point. We immediately joined them, and as it was nearly high water proceeded up the river. The tide had ebbed considerably before we arrived at the old Wesleyan Settlement, where 'Hongi's bones were. The Natives of the place here met our party dancing and shrieking in all their savage wildness. Many were rubbed over with pipe clay, presenting a novel spectacle. Kumara and fish were brought in great abundance, and all were soon engaged in eating, being exceedingly hungry. Formed a comfortable tent with the sails of the boat. In the evening assembled the natives to prayer, and passed a very comfortable night.

Wednesday, 22. At break of day Tohitapu with the Roroa were in motion to present themselves before the bones of 'Hongi. They marched up in a body, when an old man walked up slowly to the bones, and addressed the departed spirit, the principal of which was that courage should be imparted to all behind. They then sang the Pihe and afterwards several speeches were made, but nothing of any interest. He complimented Tohitapu in not doing any mischief as the party came along shore, and asked him if he did not intend to have a satisfaction for the death of his relative, others observed that Tohi had become a Missionary and consequently had left off all his former ways. In the course of the day we tried to make some purchase of potatoes, but could not, as they offered a third less than what we purchase in the bay.—The wind being now fair for our return to the bay of Islands, we were anxious to depart, but Tohitapu expressed much fear that we should upset if we did not remain till the morning: his attention was very great in seeing that our boys should not be in any want of food. Several heavy showers during the day.

Thursday, 23. At high water we took our departure, the weather clearing away and every appearance of a fine day. About noon left the Heads of the Harbour, with a fair wind. Obs'd a sail in the offing. At 4 close to the Ninepin Rock. The ship near us. She shewed her colours upon which I went on board. She was from Port Jackson for England coming into the bay to examine a leak in her counter: neither letters nor news. The boat was obliged to cast off owing to the rate of the vessel by which I was left on board until she anchored at Rangihoua. I arrived at home about midnight by the aid of a canoe.

Saturday, 25. Obs'd a large Ship in the offing. Light winds. At 3 p.m. she anchored at Kororarika. Sent a boat to her, by which page 154 we were happy to receive letters from England. The ship, the Ann. Sent a messenger to the Kerikeri.

Sunday, 26. Services as usual.

Monday, 27. After breakfast Cap. Christie called respecting the goods on board. He stated that owing to the manner in which they had been stowed previous to his joining the Ship they had been very wet and he was very apprehensive that they were much damaged. Sent the boats off. By sunset all the goods were on shore excepting one boat load.

Tuesday, 28. About 5 o'clock the boys by a great shout announced that Cap. Clark had anchored by Motu o rangi. By break of day received letters from the Colony by the New Zealander.2 Occupied all day in clearing her of flour, &c., &c.

Wednesday, 29. All the goods on shore by 4 p.m.

Thursday, 30. Cap. Christie dined with us.

Friday, 1 May. At break of day Mr. Fairburn and I went up the Kawakawa to visit the natives. As my leg was by no means strong I confined myself to the natives there, while Mr. Fairburn proceeded to Waiomio. They behaved very well but said they could not comprehend our sayings.

Saturday, 2. Variously employed and in writing.

Sunday, 3. Cap. Christie with two boats crews came on shore to attend service. Did not administer the sacrament till the afternoon, on account of the seamen on shore.

Monday, 4. As early as possible left for Rangi houa, where we arrived by 2 p.m. Did not commence business. Mr. Yate gave an address in the evening.

Tuesday, 5. Sat close at the language all day, examining the 1 chap. of St. John.

Wednesday, 6. Concluded 1 ch. of St. John by noon; after which read over the public letter by the Ann and New Zealander. Had some conversation upon the disposing of Mr. Brown3 when he shall arrive. It was generally considered that he should go to the Kerikeri. Returned to Paihia by 7 o'clock. About 200 baskets of food purchased in our absence.

Saturday, 9. Gt. quantities of kumara brought for sale.

1 Probably George D. Browne who had an interest in the saw-milling and shipbuilding yards at Horeke on the Hokianga.

2 This ship of 200 tons was built at Hokianga, and created a record by crossing the Tasman to Port Jackson in six days.

3 The Rev. A. N. Brown arrived at the Bay of Islands in the Edinburgh Castle on 29 November 1829. [W.W., Journal of that date] He was in charge of the boys' school at Paihia for some years. In 1833 with Henry Williams, and in 1834 with Hamlin, he explored the Thames, Matamata and the Waikato. In 1835 he was established at Tauranga, where he worked for the rest of his life.