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The Southern Districts of New Zealand

Chapter XIV

page 250

Chapter XIV.


I was glad to hear that Brown had arrived some time before, and that his leg had been skilfully removed by the surgeon of the French corvette. I went to see him the same afternoon with the police magistrate, Mr. Robinson, who had treated him with great kindness. He was in a clean airy room belonging to a French settler, whose wife acted as nurse. The wound was in a favourable condition, and his spirits were very good, notwithstanding that he seldom page 251 saw any one with whom he could converse. The poor fellow had a small Bible by his pillow, from which he had been seeking comfort just before we entered the room. It was probably to him as though he had met with an old friend of his youth; for it is a book not often seen at a whaling station.

The next day I visited the Commodore and the Agent of the French Company. The latter complained that he had lately received much annoyance from the natives of the place, who made a practice of visiting him every now and then in a body, to demand payment for portions of land occupied by settlers, but not included in the part they acknowledged to have sold. The house where he resided was built on ground, his title to which was denied by them—a circumstance the more unfortunate, as he had laid out much money and good taste on it.

One morning I found a large party of his unwelcome visitors in his garden, who either sat or trod on his flower-beds, little knowing how much vexation they were thus causing him, while he stood listening to them without understanding a word they said. I found that page 252 Tikao, the same who had sent letters down the coast to warn the natives that the land was about to be paid for, had planned this system of agitation or “tohe,” as they term it. He had heard that the long-promised property intended for them was on board the French man-of-war, and hoped that by constantly-repeated demands they would obtain possession of it. He avoided as much as possible appearing himself in the matter, in order to keep well with the settlers, and had therefore written the letters above-mentioned, hoping that many persons would be induced to come to Hakaroa, who, on finding themselves hoaxed, might easily be persuaded to vent their displeasure in angry speeches to the French Agent.

I, therefore, explained to them how matters really stood. “Neither the agent, Mr. B—, nor any one else, had a right to purchase land after the arrival of Governor Hobson, without having first obtained the consent of the Queen. They must wait quietly, and not expect any payments till this consent had been obtained. The land they had not sold was still their own; and, if they did not choose to allow the Europeans to page 253 remain on it for the present, they might, of course, tell them so. There was plenty of land to be found in other parts of the country. But if the Pakeha left the place, whence would they procure clothes and tobacco?” This mode of treating the subject not being what they expected, they desired me to say no more, and departed soon after in apparent good humour.

While I remained at Hakaroa, Mr. B—received no more such disagreeable visits, and I hoped that Tikao, having failed to establish a case of grievance, would cease to agitate the question any further, at least, for some time to come.

Feb. 9.—Walked over the hills which divide Hakaroa from Pigeon Bay, the path being through a wood the whole way. Descending from the hills to the head of the valley, we followed the course of the small river, Wakaoroi, which gives its name to the bay, crossing it twelve times before we arrived at the open ground.

By the beach, close to the mouth of the river, was a house belonging to a Scotchman, named Hayes, who had resided there since April, 1843, with his wife and two children. He had left page 254 England with the intention of settling on land, which he had purchased of the New Zealand Company: but not being able to obtain quiet possession of it, he thought it best to remove with what remained of his property to this place, where he had heard that the natives were less numerous and troublesome. He had now eighteen head of cattle, nine of them cows, which ran at liberty in the bush, and yielded, as he said, from twenty-five to thirty pounds of butter per week. Within one hundred yards of his house, three Scotch carpenters had partly built a schooner of thirty tons.

There were three native hamlets on the shores of the bay, containing a population of—
They had sad complaints to make of Mr. Hayes's cattle. Very recently these intruders had destroyed the greatest part of an acre of potatos, for which the police magistrate had awarded a payment of a blanket, a pair of trowsers, and a page 255 hat. But as the garden was the property of four persons, only two of whom were parties to the arrangement, and received and kept the whole compensation, the other two were more dissatisfied than ever.

In the morning we pulled to Ka-kongutungutu, a small cove on the west side of the harbour. It was one of the places acknowledged to have been sold to the French, and was in the occupation of a family named Sinclair, and several ship-builders. Three small vessels, of from twenty to thirty tons, were now in different stages of progress.

The path from this point was through a thick wood, as far as the summit of a very steep hill. Shortly after surmounting this, we reached the open ground, and looked down on the spacious harbour Kokourarata. The declivity by which we descended to the beach was in general covered with grass and large rocks; but more to the north, in which direction most of the natives resided, the soil appeared to be of better quality, and the wood extended nearly to the water's edge. The Pa we were approaching was called Puari, and was the largest I had seen on the island: page 256 and the numerous and extensive cultivations skirting the wood declared them to be the work of a considerable population.

Iwikau and Taiaroa were the great men of the place, and usually resided there. The former, a person of agreeable and gentlemanly manners; the latter, from having resided much in the company of whalers, and from having acquired the habit of drinking, was one of the bad specimens of his race: but in war he had proved himself to be a “toa” or valiant, and had, therefore, considerable influence.

I was received here in the manner they usually receive their own countrymen; being conducted to the space in front of Iwikau's house, where, while the food was cooking, every one who had anything to say made a speech. It seemed to be generally believed that my visit had something to do with the question which interested them most—the payment of the land set apart for, or made“tapu” to the French—and they were much disappointed at finding their mistake. First Taiaroa made a violent harangue, describing the white men to be covetous thieves, who wished to surround the page 257 land as with a net,* and haul it towards them without paying for it; advising them, however, to beware not to urge him to do as Rauparaha had done at Wairau, and much to the same effect.

This mode of address is often only intended to be what the natives term “wakaputa,” which means that the words are from the teeth outwards, and are designed to produce what effect they may. In every tribe, there are orators of this as well as of an opposite character. I believed that, on the present occasion, more was said than meant; and, therefore, replied in somewhat the same way as to the natives of Hakaroa. But, after all, there remained a good deal of disappointment and dissatisfaction.

I was next assailed with complaints about the mode in which Europeans were spreading themselves over the country with their stock. A Mr. G—, who had recently arrived, was especially referred to. They said that he and many others had refused to pay them anything for permission to land their cattle, or cut timber for shipbuilding, telling them that all the land belonged

* Hao noa i te whenua.

page 258 to the Queen of England. I replied that they need not imagine the Queen of England designed to seize any of their land they did not wish to sell, much less to permit any of her people to do so: and promised Nohomutu and the others who owned the land about Wakaraupo,* of which Mr. G—had taken possession, to go with them to that place, and hear what he had to say to their complaints.

When these matters of business were concluded, I asked Taiaroa if it was true that he had helped to strangle Kohi in the manner mentioned (in ch. ii.). He replied as there related, not seeming to care the least that his most extraordinary attempt to practice on the credulity of a missionary and a police magistrate had been detected.

As at other parts of this island, I found that the professing Christians were divided between the Church of England, or, as they called it, the Church of Pahia—that being the name of the Church Missionary's head quarters at the

* This harbour was commonly known as Port Cooper, but since the formation of the Canterbury Settlement its name has been changed to Port Victoria.

page 259 Bay-of-Islands—and Wesleyans, the two parties being very hostile to each other, probably without well knowing wherefore.

Feb. 12.—Sailed to the Heads in Nohomutu's boat, and then pulled up the adjoining harbour. We met the person we wished to see at a hut not far from the beach of a small bay, called Te Puru. He confirmed all the natives had said, declaring that he thought it illegal to pay them anything for living on their land. He had, however, at the same time overlooked the illegality of occupying forcibly land which evidently did not belong to himself, whether the Queen claimed it or no.

The doctrine which Mr. G— advocated was, I had before remarked, a very favourite one among new comers, who landed full of the idea that there were large spaces of what they termed waste and unreclaimed land, on which their cattle and flocks might roam at pleasure, and to which they had a better right than those whose ancestors had lived there, fished there, and hunted there; and had, moreover, long ago given names to every stream, hill, and valley of the neighbourhood. The older resi- page 260 dents had learnt that, although the theory might be very convenient, it was useless to try to apply it to New Zealand.

Mr. G—had with him four farm servants, fifty head of horned cattle, and five hundred sheep. Considering, therefore, that he had so much at stake, I offered to assist him in making an arrangement by which he might remain where he was without molestation. After some talking among themselves, and discussion as to the different persons between whom the payment to be received ought to be divided, the natives agreed to accept a yearly rent of six blankets and some printed calico, the value of which together was from three to four pounds sterling. For this Mr. G—was to be allowed to reside and cultivate ground at Te Puru, and to pasture his cattle over all the neighbouring hills. Thinking the demand moderate, I was surprised to find that he hesitated to accept it, wishing me to offer less. I however assured Mr. G—that I would interfere no further, if he refused to accede to the terms proposed; in fact, that I had already overstepped the limits of my duty, in being a party to any arrangement of page 261 this nature. He then asked to be allowed to cultivate also in the next bay, to which the natives unwillingly consented, demanding for the permission an additional blanket per annum: and so this troublesome business was disposed of.

We now returned over the hills dividing the two harbours, whose waters almost unite at their entrance, but are a mile or two apart at their opposite extremities. From the summit of the hills, a good view was obtained of the plains,* extending westward to the foot of a range of lofty hills and mountains—a continuation of the same which I had seen before on my journey along the coast. Two remarkable clumps of wood, called Putaringa-motu, were the only trees to be seen growing on the plain. In that direction was the famed district of Kaiapoi, where—the land being of a better quality—great numbers of natives formerly resided. Very few, however, now remained there—some having left in order to be nearer the whaling vessels, which resorted to Kokourarata—while others had gone to places as far south as Otakou, for the same reason, or because they dreaded to be attacked

* Now called the Canterbury Plains.

page 262 by the natives of Cook's Straits in that exposed position.

Near the trees on the plain resided a settler named Deans, whose establishment consisted of two European labourers, with their wives and children, seventy-six head of horned cattle, three horses, and fifty sheep. He paid a rent to the natives—I did not learn how much; but no complaints were made by any one about him or his cattle. Perhaps he had a little knowledge of the language—a great advantage to settlers of this description, who are at a distance from their own countrymen, for it often prevents mutual misunderstandings about trifles. The white man, not knowing what the native is talking about, perhaps mutters something—he hardly knows what—between his teeth, while his countenance is expressive of displeasure. Whereupon the latter concludes he has sworn at him, and leaves him in anger. I have several times been called on to interfere, in cases of dispute which had become serious from such a simple origin.

The hills surrounding Wakaraupo are naked of timber; so that when this becomes the site of a township, wood for fuel and all other pur- page 263 poses must be brought from other parts of the Peninsula, which is very generally clothed with a dense forest.* The natives, however, who reside in considerable numbers in the sister harbour—as it is tolerably well wooded, and will no doubt be reserved for their own use—will remove in a great measure the inconvenience which might be expected to arise from such a cause. Being more expert woodmen than Europeans, and their labour having a lower price, they will at first be the chief hewers and carriers of fire-wood; and, as they will always be competitors with the latter in this article of traffic, its price will be more moderate and constant than if the colonists depended on their own efforts alone for a supply.

Farmers and stock-keepers, however, who have their homesteads on the plain, in situations remote from woods or from water-carriage, must suffer a great inconvenience till they have reared woods of their own planting. In such situations I believe the larch fir would prove more valuable than any of the trees indigenous to the country, having a rapid growth, and at the same time

* Wakaraupo was at that time (1844) much talked of as the probable site of a proposed settlement.

page 264 furnishing a light and durable timber, useful for all farming purposes.

As we passed over the hills, I saw some plants of “taramea,” from which the scent before spoken of* is prepared. We also heard the cry of the “weka.” One of the natives made a good imitation of the sound, and the bird came very near us, but never within sight. It is by this device that they are generally caught: the person who replies to their calls remaining hid, and holding a dog in a leash till the bird is sufficiently near, when the dog is let go, and the “weka” having no wings is run down. We descended from the hills near the southern end of the harbour, where its general direction was observed by compass to be nearly due north and south. The rain now overtook us, and it was quite dark before I arrived at Iwikau's house.

On after reflection, I thought more seriously of the responsibility I had assumed in adjusting the dispute between Mr. G—and the natives; for there was no law to authorize the holding of land by lease from the natives; and as it

* Page 217.

page 265 appeared not unlikely that Mr. G—'s example might be followed by others, I feared that such a mode of occupying land in the neighbourhood of Banks's Peninsula, if it became general, would embarrass any arrangements which the Government might wish to make in reference to the settlement of the claims of the French Company, or to the future colonization of Port Cooper.

The motive which induced me to overlook these considerations was the peculiar necessity of Mr. G—'s case, who had only lately arrived from New South Wales, and had imported his valuable stock under the idea that the land he was about to occupy had no native owners—an idea which, as I have before observed, too generally prevailed in many quarters, and which, unfortunately, seemed to be not altogether un-countenanced by authority.

Any one who had acquired experience in New Zealand must have learnt that it was not only unjust for foreigners to settle, wherever they pleased, on land without first paying some consideration to its native owners, but, under existing circumstances, impracticable, as the latter, page 266 having the power in their own hands, would, without doubt, resist any attempt thus to deprive them of their birthright. If I had not aided Mr. G— to make terms with the natives—which, indeed, or to oblige him to depart, was the only course the justice of which they could have comprehended—he must either have removed his stock at a ruinous loss, or have attempted, as he said he would, to remain where he was, despite the opposition of the natives. In the latter case, the natives, after showing more or less forbearance, would no doubt have taken the law into their own hands, and ejected him by force—a mode of proceeding which it was especially advisable to guard against.

Turning over in my mind these matters, while the inmates of the Pa lay sleeping, I wrote a report of Mr. G—'s case for the police magistrate of the district, and pointed out to him the inconvenience to be apprehended from stock-keepers or other settlers taking up their abode on the lands belonging to natives about Banks's Peninsula.

Feb. 13.—I was applied to this morning by page 267 an American sailor, who had run from his ship, to obtain restitution of some clothes taken from him by the natives. On inquiry, I learnt that to deal thus with all runaway sailors had become a common practice; which appeared to have been brought about in the following way.—The natives had formerly been offered, by captains of ships, or by the police magistrate at Hakaroa, a reward for capturing these persons. As it often took much time and trouble to obtain this reward, the next step was that they concealed them, if they could gain more thus than they expected to gain otherwise. And lastly—emboldened by success, and having no reason to fear that these poor fellows would complain of the treatment they received—they seized, without ceremony, the greater part of their clothes, and then let them go about their business, or allowed them to hang about the place in a state of demislavery, assisting in any work that was going on, and eating from the same basket with themselves. Similar examples,* proving how little

* The missionaries not long after their establishment in New Zealand, anticipated good results from sending out the best instructed of their young converts as preachers and missionaries among the more distant tribes, whom they were unable themselves to visit. The attempt seemed at first to be crowned with extraordinary success—vast numbers being daily added to the body of professing Christians—and very favourable reports on the subject were consequently forwarded to the Society in England. But after a year or two it was discovered that great abuses had been introduced into the practice of the Christian religion by these native missionaries, so that it became even a subject of regret that they had ever been employed in offices of responsibility, for which they proved themselves unqualified. These young men, in some cases, constituted themselves priests, and raised a very considerable income, in the shape of iron pots, boxes, blankets, and fire-arms, as fees for performing the ceremonies of marrying, burying, &c.

page 268 scruple the New Zealander has to turn to his own profit any circumstance in his power, led me to form an opinion that it would be a dangerous experiment in the present generation, to intrust to him the execution of duties of this responsible nature.

The persons who had stripped this man being among the number of professing Christians, it was not a difficult matter to make them acknowledge that their new religion condemned such a mode of proceeding. A warning also that, if they now took advantage of the white man, when they found him unprotected, they must expect that, when we became numerous, page 269 their evil deeds of to-day would be remembered, was not without its effect. In a short time the sailor's kit began to appear; and as shirts, shoes, coats, &c., were brought back they were placed in a heap before us, till the sailor was satisfied that his property was all there. Seeing that he had lived at the expense of the natives for some time, and must still be dependent on them for food, I advised him to take the present opportunity to make his hosts a present for past favours, and to ensure their good will for the future—not feeling certain that, when I had left the place, the spirit of covetousness might not return in force too powerful to be withstood, and lead to a second spoliation. The clothes were accordingly divided into two heaps—one for himself, the other for his “kaiwhangai” or hosts.

In the afternoon I returned to Pigeon Bay, where I was invited by Mr. Sinclair to rest at his house. His family was an example for settlers. Everything necessary for their comfort was produced by themselves—two young girls even making their own shoes. Mr. S. told me that he bought very few things; as page 270 his family—a wife, three sons, and three daughters—were able to do the work required. They all appeared happy and contented; and as they resided on land which the natives had sold bonâ fide, they had never been annoyed in any manner by them, although their house stood by the way-side, and numbers passed to and fro daily.

Mr. S. had a similar tale to tell to that of Mr. Hayes. He had been a purchaser of land from the New Zealand Company, and had left his native country prepared to encounter every imaginable difficulty, except the one which in the end nearly ruined him, and which he had never contemplated. On his arrival at Wellington he learnt that the land he called his own was on the banks of a river (Manawatu), at a distance of many miles. In order to reach it he bought a boat of several tons, and, placing his family and effects on board, set sail with a fair wind and sanguine expectations of success. But he had no sooner arrived in safety at the place where he hoped to found the fortunes of his family, than he discovered that the land he had paid for in England was in possession page 271 of native proprietors, of whom he had never before heard, and who denied having ever sold it. He then learnt to his cost that he would have acted more wisely had he brought his money with him to New Zealand, and purchased land after having seen it, and satisfied himself that there was a reasonable hope that he would be allowed to live quietly on it. In this dilemma he forsook Cook's Straits, and, like Mr. Hayes, hearing a favourable report of Pigeon Bay, brought the remnant of his property to the spot where he now lived as a squatter instead of a landed proprietor.

Feb. 14.—Returned to Hakaroa, where I met Bishop Selwyn, who had just arrived from Foveaux's Straits in Tuhawaiki's schooner. He was disappointed not to find the Government brig, which he had expected to be here, ready to take him to the Chatham Islands.