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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

Murderous Attack on a Tonga Canoe at Ovalau

Murderous Attack on a Tonga Canoe at Ovalau.

Having been requested by the French Governor of Tahiti to pay kind attentions to the French Priests on the occasion of his visit to Feejee, and being intrusted with letters from the Priests in the Friendly Islands to those in Feejee, King George availed himself of the opportunity afforded by his stay at Motureke, to comply with the request of the Governor of Tahiti, and to effect an early delivery of the letters, by sending the smallest of his canoes, with twenty persons on board, to the French Priests at Ovalau. At the same time he sent a bundle of Tonga kava and a whale's tooth to the King of Levuka, as a token of his friendly feeling, expressing his pleasure in hearing that the King of Levuka had become Christian. It appears that Tui Levuka, Mr. Binner, and the white colonists, having heard of the arrival in Feejee of the Tongans, had held a consultation with reference to the rumours of hostility which were prevalent; and the King of Levuka had, with the full approval of the page 9 white colonises, resolved that, should King George send one or two of his canoes to Ovalau, it was manifest that nothing hostile could be intended; and, in that case, they should land and be received with every respect, and be entertained in the best possible manner. When the canoe neared the town of Totongo, where the Priests reside, they took in sail, sculled towards the shore, and were about to anchor. A great number of natives had collected on the beach, with some Whites and half-castes. By the orders of the head Chief of the Mountaineers, a Levuka man fired on the Tongans, none of whom had landed. Two half-castes and a man from Ngau, who is living with Tui Levuka, also fired. At this instant Tui Levuka arrived on the spot, having ran with great haste, after calling upon Mr. Binner, to request him and our Tongan Teacher to pull off to the canoe to prevent its nearing the shore at Totongo. He rushed into the water, and drove the natives away; otherwise, it is probable that there would have been much more firing. The owner of the canoe, Tawaki, was mortally wounded. He was a Chief of rank, brother to Benjamin Latuselu, Native Assistant Missionary. He was also owner of a large canoe in the Tongan fleet. Another man was also slightly wounded in his hand. The Tongans sculled from the shore, when Mr. Binner and Paula reached them. They took Paula on board the canoe, and required him to go with them. They gave the letters for the Priests to Mr. Binner, made sail, stood out to sea in order to avoid Mara's canoe, which was near an entrance on the reef, and then stood in to their own party at Motureke. Poor Tawaki died of the wounds he received. This unexpected calamity hastened the departure of King George's fleet for Bau on the following morning, that there they might bury their dead.