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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64

A Month in Hot Water. — Chapter I

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A Month in Hot Water.

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Chapter I.

It was on the very day of King Tawhiao's Auckland reception that we started on our "grand hurrah" through the Lakes and Hot Springs country. The day was bright, the bay calm and lovely; bands were playing and flags flying; you would never have thought that a king was capitulating, and that we—but no matter. The elements warred badly enough about it some hours later, and left us wishing they hadn't upset themselves—and us—so severely about trifles. Not that the King's visit should be considered a trifle. As far as I can gather, it means settled amity between the two races, and the opening up of what has hitherto been tightly closed country to the pakeha—and these are not trifles.

Tawhiao has maintained an attitude of royal reserve towards Europeans for many years. When an attempt was made to bring him and the Duke of Edinburgh within hand-shake distance, he declined; though he did it courteously enough—much in the polite manner and spirit with which a lady of fashion issues the dictum "Not at home" in civilised life. With a natural distrust of the pakeha, he and his subjects have kept very closely to their own dominions ever since, and have kept those dominions free from pakeha traffic. But now cometh a change. Friendly advances from one side have met with a friendly reception from the other; and now peace, and a railway right through the Waikato country, are as much a certainty as anything in this mutable world can be.

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We saw Tawhiao when he landed here. He is a fine looking man, though scarcely majestic. His stature is medium; his features of a superior Maori type; his expression reserved and reflective; his tattooing most artistic. His costume on this momentous occasion consisted of a large and handsome kaitaka that robed his figure completely as far as the knees. His legs and feet were bare, as a Maori's should be. Boots, shoes, and stockings are absolutely disfiguring to the Maori. On his head he wore a tall white European hat, more's the pity. Ho would have looked much better with no other adornment than his royal badge of huia feathers in his hair. In his hand he carried a carved whalebone hoeroa, like a sceptre.

A large number of Auckland's first citizens received the King at the wharf, and gave him warm welcome; and the band played "Auld Lang Syne." It did not strike me as the most delicately appropriate air with which to welcome a king whose "Auld Lang Syne" must be rather a sore subject; but I heard afterwards that the tune is a favourite one with the Maoris, and adapted to words of their own of quite a different character, so doubtless it was all for the best. The King, poor fellow, looked rather embarrassed, but he had taken the wise precaution to have his speech prepared beforehand, and his secretary read it aloud for him to the concourse. The tone of it was peace; the language—bosh! at least, from a pakeha point of view.

From the wharf King Tawhiao was taken in style and a carriage all over town; and was fèted and followed and fussed over and photographed after the manner of celebrities everywhere. One handsome thing that he did and said on this visit deserves record. In giving his word that the bridge at Waipa should be completed, he stipulated that he should pay for it himself, in order that no one might say, in reproach, that the Government had paid for it for him. In another speech of his, uttered in response to Mr. J. C. Firth's very eloquent and effective one, are a few sentences that might be given to posterity as excellent precepts. "Be strong to uphold what is good, so that it may go forth to this place and to that place, to this city and to that city." "Be strong to do that page 5 which will bring good to all of us on both sides." "Put your foot to my foot; I will place mine to yours. You will not tread upon my foot" (he couldn't say anything about corns, because he hadn't any); "I will not tread upon yours. Thus we go together, and rest upon the same ground, with peace between us, and love overall"

A long, long time it is since first the white flag of the missionaries, with its legend "Rongopai" ("Good Tidings"), was planted by the missionary hero, Samuel Marsden, on this soil, and the period intervening is scarred with many a darksome record of this country's history. The Maoris have suffered at our hands in many ways, and have paid us off severely at odd times, too. But now peace is to be permanent, and that is rongopai indeed; for, although the issue of war could only be the total and quick extermination of the Maoris, yet there is enough fighting power among them still to bring much disaster to others besides themselves.

The loveliness of the day on which Tawhiao landed in Auckland gave place to a wild and stormy night. And we, on the little steamer "Wellington," between Auckland and Tauranga, poured out our woes on the midnight air, and wished we hadn't eaten quite so much dinner, for then had there been fewer woes to pour. The green-and-yellow melancholy, left upon us by the night's suffering, caused us to look upon Tauranga with a jaundiced eye, when early in the dim grey morning we struggled on deck and saw the little town through a dense grey mist of rain. It was not till our return, a month later, that we realised what a pretty place it is, with its perfect harbour and imposing figure-head (Maungonui), its well-planned streets, and bright general aspect. We waded up the pier through the rain, we breakfasted dismally at an hotel (the dismalness was all in ourselves, not in the hotel by any means—the Tauranga hotels are really a credit to the place), we climbed in silent melancholy to the box-seat of the coach, and so set out for Rotorua.

What an important part the weather plays in all our arrangements, especially in our festivities! What desolation and page 6 dilapidation may be wrought by one smart thunderstorm at a picnic! How necessary sunshine is to all enjoyment! That damp commencement of our hurrah depressed us unutterably; yet we had rather a lively day of it after all. Our fellow passengers were two: a thin little man, with meek eyes and a gentle expression of countenance; and a rusty complexioned individual, nearly six feet high, and bulky in proportion. We were not five minutes on our road before the latter began to grumble about the difficulty he always had in getting brown bread anywhere outside of big towns. He hadn't had brown bread that morning for breakfast, he said, and he spoke of his misfortune in a tone that seemed to imply that we were to blame for it. The little man shifted nervously in his seat, and made some consolatory remarks in the smallest and softest of voices. But this seemed only to increase the big man's exasperation. He abused the country, the coach, the weather, the road, the people; and all in that same tone of aggressive personal reproach that had already irritated us into wishing the gods had loved him so that he had died young. We felt that such blossoms as he should be nipped in the bud, and that scarlatina and measles were doubtless wise dispensations when they carried to a brighter and a better world infants that might otherwise grow up and be men like unto this man. As we approached the site of the Gate Pa, Robertson, our driver, began to relate the story of the great skirmish of 1864. He repeats that story to every tourist, of course; it is part of his bounden duty, and how sick he must be of the repetition! He told us how the 43rd regiment fired ruthlessly on the 68th in the dark, firmly believing that it was Maori foes they were slaughtering; and how—here he was interrupted by our rusty traveller, who said, excuse him, but it was the 68th who fired on the 43rd. Robertson said it was not Rusty said it was. Reference was made to me, but I distinctly declined giving an opinion. I had already heard four entirely contradictory accounts of that massacre, and read several others, so I begged to stand out.

The meek little man, raising his voice a bit, took sides with our driver. Rusty, pitching his to a thunderous shout, wanted page 7 to know how anybody dared to contradict him. He had heard all about that fight, a hundred and fifty times at least, from eyewitnesses, and he knew perfectly well he was right. Robertson was just getting ready something to say, when, all of a sudden, the little man made a lunge at the big one, that, taking him by surprise, actually overset him into the bottom of the coach.

"Can it be possible," I said, "that there is going to be a fight?" "Not in the coach, certainly," replied Robertson. "Catch hold a minute," giving me the reins. I caught hold, and he leaned over into the interior just as Rusty was plunging up out of the depths of his astonishment and the little man—standing erect, with feet well planted apart, fists clenched, and head bulging out the leathern roof of the coach—was making ready for a collision. Just as the collision took place, Robertson reached over, laid his shoulder against the two, and out they went. Rusty seemed dumbfoundered. The little man scrambled up, and played round him like forked lightning.

"Brown bread," he shrieked, in a voice as ferocious as the pipe of an insulted canary or the squeak of an indignant mouse. "Brown bread! Pitching into me about your brown bread—ach! Get up, till I knock manners into you; get up, till I teach you who licked at Gate Pa; get up, before I make another sanguinary massacre to lie about. Get up, I say—ach!"

Then he began to swear in Welsh, and Rusty, leaning upon his elbow, tried to figure out the exact position of affairs; and then Robertson remarked that time was up, but he didn't want to hurry anybody. He would pull up at Oropi for a few minutes and they might catch up the coach there. If not quite through by then, they might come on to the stables at Mangorewa, where we should lunch and change horses. But all this was wasted, for the little man was encircling the big one like a halo, and the big one was busy turning his head round, as if it were fixed on a revolving screw, in order to watch the little one, so that neither of them heard a word. Robertson lashed up our fiery chargers, and we ambled on at the usual number of knots per hour. Before we reached Oropi the little man, hot and panting with his run, caught up to us.

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"What's come o' the other warrior?" enquired Robertson, calmly pulling up."

"Left him wiping the blood off with fern-leaves," was the laconic response, and the little man clambered in. After that there was dead silence until sometime after we entered the bush, and then the little man began to sing hymns in a sweet, thin tenor, and he quoted descriptive passages from the poets, and raved like an æsthetic about the loveliness of the scenery. Robertson said to me, "This is an entirely new experience." I said, "I shouldn't wonder."

Somewhere amidst that loveliest of forests we stopped to lunch and change horses. The rain was still falling, only a little heavier, if possible, than before. It seemed to come down in condensed streams between the high wooded ranges that shut in the road. We went into a whare, inhabited by a Maori roadmaker, named Nikora, and his wife, to eat lunch; and Mrs. Nikora, a fine buxom specimen of brown womanhood, made us some tea. Just as we were remounting our coach, that of the opposition line came tearing up, and, behold, in it was Rusty. Instantly our little man became demoniacal again. "Brown bread!" he screamed. "Hi! stop, you there! Brown bread—ach!" But the opposition flew on, and a curve in the road hid it quickly from view. The little man said that if Robertson would race that coach and lick it, he would pay double fare. Robertson said he wasn't ambitious about racing, and, besides, he couldn't spare time to attend any inquests, anyhow. So the little man smiled and grew meek and humble again, and sang and quoted poetry; and such a singular combination of pugnacity and amiability it was never my lot to come in contact with before or since. He told us some good stories too, and gave us advice that would likely be useful in travelling anywhere. And that reminds me of similar advice I heard elsewhere the other day. A gentleman was speaking of the nuisance of having to carry much luggage; he said the best way was only to have an empty waterproof bag. Someone asked what for, and he replied that then in case of rain you could take off your clothes and put them in the bag, thus ensuring a dry suit when the shower should be over. page 9 'But what would you wear in the meantime?" "Oh, you could wear a smile, you know; a smile is always becoming," was the response.

That drive through the Oropi Forest was, apart from other interests, a thing to be remembered, because of its exceeding loveliness. The yellowish grey of the sky filled the valleys with strange lights and shadows; the streams in all the gorges were swollen into torrents; the rain had washed the surrounding foliage into vivid dazzling green. The rimu, taua, rata, and totara towered above and around us, and we splashed on through a very wilderness of beautiful ferns. Midway through, we came to Mangorewa Gorge, through which a passionate foaming torrent rushed and swirled in place of the quiet stream usually seen there. Our road described a considerable zig-zag past the several ravines and gulches in the Oropi, and every turn brought some novel forest picture to our vision. Birds were silent upon that rainy day—except the tui and the riroriro, which sent out plaintive notes, from time to time, in feeble objection to the heavy wet. At Werenga we quitted the bush and found ourselves making a descent into open undulating country again, and presently we sighted Rotorua and the island right before us, and big Ngongotaha ("Mountain by the roadside") standing over to the south-west. Presently we could see the township, and clouds of rising steam on every side of it; and although we knew we were going into the Hot Spring district, and expected to see steam holes, and boiling waters, and all the rest of it, yet when we asked Robertson what those vapours were, and he told us, we felt as much astonished as if we had not heard or read about such a thing in our lives. It is impossible to realize facts like these without seeing them. After skirting the Lake for some six miles we approached the township, entering by a road, along the side of which ran a hot creek. In a section of this that, broadened and deepened, formed a natural big bath-tub, were some strapping Maori boys bathing. They stood up to watch us pass—stood up as innocently naked, and nakedly innocent, as Adam before the apple business. A little further on, in another of these natural tubs, sat a bearded Maori, immersed to the chin in page 10 the hot water, smoking and holding an umbrella over his head to keep the wet off. It was most comical, and I thought our little man would die of mirth over it. Presently we were at Lake House, and our little man went we know not whither, for we saw him no more. After the thorough drenching we had had, a hot bath and bed formed our programme after dinner.

The bath-house at Mr. Graham's is as yet the only one on the field—all the other baths are open air ones—and Lake House bathing arrangements are open to much improvement, but this only pro tern. Mr. Graham, the proprietor, is not one likely to let the grass grow on under his feet, as the improvements already effected on his property prove. The excellent management of his house, and the comparative luxury he has contrived to establish in a place remote and difficult of access as Ohinemutu, foreshow what the place will yet be under his enterprising care. One of the baths at Lake House is strongly sulphurous, and is said to have a miraculous effect in cases of rheumatism. The others are strongly mineral, and reputed curative of debility, dyspepsia, and similar ailments. As there was nothing the matter with us we tried every bath with reckless impartiality, and throughout our stay in the Lake District we dipped and soaked in hot water wherever and whenever we could, till we felt so clean right through to the bone that we scarcely knew ourselves.

Early next morning we were out looking round. Groups of dusky figures standing or squatting wherever we turned our eyes made us feel that we were verily in Maoriland at last. Never before had we realised it. Even in Auckland, dark faces are now very much in the minority. Here, white ones are the exception Before we were an hour amongst the Maoris we had learned their familiar salutations—Term koe, Tena koutu (greetings to you). After breakfast, Mr. Graham said he was going to a tangi at "Whakarewarewa, and kindly offered us a seat in his buggy. Of course we accepted, rejoicing at the chance, and soon we were bowling rapidly over the fern-covered flat past Sulphur Point And before getting any further, I must here acknowledge my appreciation of the courteous attention and ready assistance I page 11 received invariably from Mr. Graham, during my Lake trip. Having learned that I was travelling with a motive, he did all he could to aid me, and to him I am indebted for a great deal of useful information, and pleasure and comfort beside. Mr. Edwards, the manager of Lake House, was also most kind, and with his thorough knowledge of the Maori language and customs, was able to help me materially in my search for information.

In less than half-an-hour we were at Whakarewarewa—a tract of Hot Springs country within three miles of Ohinemutu. It is, I think, the most wonderful sight in the Rotorua district. A Maori village is located in the very midst of boiling water, steam, and hot mud, and sulphur volcanoes. Great clouds of vapour rise continually on every side; strange hissings and bubblings and gurglings disturb the ears perpetually.

Leaving the buggy in a safe place, we threaded our way cautiously, in single file, through a series of hot water holes, to the settlement. The Maoris were in the midst of preparation for festivities. Toilet operations were progressing with much merriment in the open air. The dresses of the women were gorgeous to the last degree. Colours loud enough to make one's head ache prevailed, and it was a positive relief to turn one's eyes upon the clean white cotton suits worn by some of the men. The Maoris all affect European attire, which is a pity, for the few that I have seen bareheaded, barelegged, and enveloped in the korowai, or even in the parti-coloured blanket, looked so much more imposing. Flaming red and yellow were the predominating tints among the women at Whakarewarewa, and, certainly, brown skins can bear the vivid contrast better than white ones could.

So much fun was going on that I said in some surprise to Mr. Edwards, who was with us, "I thought tangi meant weeping ?"

"So it does," he replied, "but the chief in whose honour this tangi is to be held, died four months ago, and has already been mourned extensively. To-day a small section of a distant tribe, who couldn't come before, are expected here for a final weep. They haven't arrived yet; when they do, the tangi will commence."

We wandered over the settlement, and awaited events. By- page 12 and-by we observed something going on just outside one of the whares. Three women were performing an eccentric sort of dance, and apparently making a derisive accusation, in song, against the occupant of the whare—a man who stood in the doorway, with bowed head and an expression of listless dissatisfaction. His tormentors gesticulated wildly in front of him, rolling their eyes, protruding their tongues, gasping and gurgling as if they were having fits—only with a unanimity of action, a simultaneousness of sound not generally characteristic of fits. One of the three—a woman with short, black, curly hair, and a scarlet petticoat that revealed No. 11 high-heeled boots and more leg than would be held consistent with modesty in ordinary society—kicked, and skipped, and grimaced like a raving angel.

In answer to my enquiries, the information was given me that this performance was a taua for infidelity. The wife of the man in the whare had eloped with another man. She hadn't eloped far, only to another part of the settlement where her new husband had his whare and plantation. And now her relations were making a taua (raid) upon the deserted one, with a view to robbing him of all he possessed.

"But why?" we exclaimed in amazement. "Why rob him?"

"Because," was the answer, "the argument is that if he had treated his wife properly she wouldn't have run away from him."

I pictured the revolution that might be caused in European Divorce Courts by the introduction of such an amendment as this to existing laws!

Well, presently the taua was suddenly terminated by the sound of commotion in another part of the camp. The expected visitors were in sight. Some twenty or thirty Whakarewarewans mounted a hill and began the dance of welcome, calling "Haere mai, haere mai" (Come hither, come hither), in a long, loud cry, while they waved shawls and kerchiefs invitingly to a crowd approaching the camp on horseback. And now the business of the day commenced. The strangers left their horses on the flat, and entered the village in irregular lines, setting up a piteous, mournful wail, as they reached the common meeting ground in the centre. page 13 The cry was taken up by the Whakarewarewans, as they and the visitors took up position in two long lines opposite each other. The men stood with drooping heads and sad faces, the women waved their hands and wailed, and beat upon their breasts, and shed water enough from eyes and noses to wet themselves to the very waist. Formerly it was blood they used to shed, cutting themselves to pieces with sharp stones, and measuring their respect and affection for the dead by the deepness of the cuts and the quantity of gore drawn. Now they are content to draw water, and the process is much less harrowing, both to themselves and the observers.

Most of the visitors wore wreaths of fern and lycopodium upon their hair, that being a sign of mourning with them. The widow of the dead chief, dressed in European black, stood in the middle of one line and kept her head and face covered with a shawl. Likely that was to hide her dry eyes. Her tears might well be hard to raise after four months' intermittent tangi-ing. The "champion weepist" of the crowd was a tall blanketed female, who seemed to be in the dire agonies of colic. She moaned, she wailed, she twisted herself and wrung her hands, she wept her blanket wet down to the very knees, she oozed grief from every pore. I enquired if she were a near relative to the dead chief. "0 no," I was told, "but she is always a good mourner, that one." When the weeping had gone on steadily for about an hour and a-half, I asked how long it was likely to be kept up, and learned that that depended on the staying power—to use a sporting phrase—of the weepers. The longer they weep the more they enhance their reputation in that line, and the greater respect they show to the dead, and to the surviving relatives. As there were no signs of a diminishment of grief amongst these mourners, we decided to utilise the time by inspecting the wonders of the place. First we visited the geysers, which are on the other side of the hill that backs the settlement Te Waikiti is the most important of these, but it was not playing that day. Indeed, very few people are fortunate enough to see Te Waikiti at its best, because it so seldom shows off. For several months in succession last year it played page 14 almost incessantly, sending up a column of water to a height of from thirty to forty feet. But previously to that it was dormant for several years, and it ceased as suddenly as it began and has made no display since. We climbed the terraced cone of sulphur and silica that it has built for itself in past ages, and looked down the steaming, rumbling crater awhile. Then we went on to Waikanapanapa, a broad, deep pool of the clearest azure water, perpetually boiling. Not far from this are numerous hot ponds, boiling mud holes, miniature geysers, and sulphur springs, around which are all varieties of beautiful and curious incrustations. Among the rest is a spring called the Oil-bath, on account of the grease, said to be like naptha, that floats upon its surface. All these springs are said to be highly curative of rheumatic and cutaneous disorders. North-west of this group is a horrible mud hole, the very sight of which is appalling; and further down are some twenty geysers, some playing slightly, some dormant for the time. One, in the middle of the cluster, sends up a small fountain-like stream almost constantly. Right in front of this was another clear sheet of boiling blue. A small steaming crater at the entrance to the geyser grounds was pointed out to us as the pot in which a chief's head was once boiled for dinner, after a little scrimmage, in which he had come off rather worse than second best. He and his tribe had, up to that time, owned this place, and their pa was built upon a headland, called Puia, which projects above the Springs. A pa was always built on high ground in those days, because it was necessary to keep a sharp look out against surprise from neighbours. The Maoris, in those good old times, lived much as the Highlanders did in certain good old Scottish days. A man was quite safe as long as his clan happened to be stronger than his neighbour's. If it were weaker, his neighbour sailed over in a friendly way, smoked or burnt him out, and stole all his cattle and his pretty girls. If he escaped with his life, he had nothing to do but hurry to get a clan together again, wait till his numbers and strength were sufficient, and then sail over to the enemy to settle accounts, with interest, and steal all the cattle and the pretty girls oack, with, may be, a score or two added.

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Similar notions of duty towards neighbours prevailed among the early Maoris, and so when a certain tribe coveted Puia, and had faith in its own power and numbers, the chief sent an ambassador to the pa with a courteous message to the effect that he was coming there to live, and would have to get the present occupants to make room for him without delay.

The Puia chief—named, I think, Komutumutu—simply boiled the ambassador and ate him. The other chief, after waiting what he considered a reasonable time, instituted an inquiry, and discovered the truth about his emissary, and the fact that Puia was all fortified and prepared for battle. Very little time was wasted in preliminaries. To war they went, and in less than twenty-four hours Komutumutu's head was boiling in the crater aforementioned, and the new residents at Puia gorged on flesh for a fortnight afterwards.

When we returned from the geysers to the settlement we found that the weepers had all finished and retreated under the awning temporarily erected for the visitors, and that speechifying had set in. One by one the men rose, from each tribe alternately, and commented at length upon the virtues of the dead chief. One tattooed old gentleman drowned out an incantation, to which a chorus was animatedly rendered by the crowd. When this had gone on a while, a young fellow in white mounted a knoll by the chiefs whare—from which, by-the-by, the Union Jack was flying—and shouted a somewhat lengthy harangue through his hands, held trumpet-wise. Instantly the women all jumped up and ran to the cooking-wells, skipping, scrambling, laughing, and jabbering, as if tears and lamentations were things unknown. The young man in white had bidden them prepare the kai (food) for the visitors.

Hundreds of new plaited flax paros were promptly filled with clean-scraped potatoes, and put into a boiling spring to cook. Pork, which had been steaming under cover in hangis (ovens) in the ground, was brought forth, hot and odorous, but fearfully black and tough looking. The meat was certainly not tempting; but the sight of the cooked potatoes made us feel ravenously hungry. The Maoris gave us the first kitful, and never in our lives did we relish page 16 anything more. It was a long time since breakfast, and the keen air had given us new appetites. And those potatoes, cooked in that way, were simply delicious. We ate them with our fingers, and without salt, that essential to our cooking being disliked by the Maoris. They have been known to remark that pakehas rendered themselves often positively uneatable by their pernicious partiality for salt.

When the food was all ready the young men and women, taking a full paro in each hand, marched ceremoniously, with queer, short steps, and an odd jerky kind of song, towards the visitors. The paros were put in heaps in the middle of the open ground, and every heap had a sort of dedication ceremony performed over it by the young man in white, who chanted a brief incantation while he struck each pile of food with a long stick. Sundry hungry dogs that came too near, got a share of those dedication whacks, and lent melodious aid to the ceremony, by howling. O, those swarms of dogs! Starved, mangy animals that spend their weary lives dodging kicks and trying to fossick up food enough to keep life in their thin, miserable bodies. They play the part of scavengers in the Maori camps, I think, and in that way they live. The people have never more food than they want for themselves; often not even that, so there is certainly naught to spare for the dogs. Yet they cleave to their owners, and every Maori has from one to a dozen. I see that Government intends to tax those dogs, and the natives resent the notion very much. Taxation will be a blessing to the dogs, however, for it is bound to reduce their numbers.

Before permitting the visitors to commence operations on the kai, the Whakarewarewa hosts performed a haka of jubilee. And a most interesting dance it was to us. Some twenty men formed into one line, some twenty women into another; the young man in white flourished about as M.C., with a whalebone mere as baton The dancers kept perfect time. The whole forty acted as one. The precision of action was wonderful. One figure of the dance consisted of a measured beat of the feet, a queer, quivering motion of the hands, and a low chanting, interrupted at given intervals page 17 with a long gasping sigh. All this done with perfect simultaneousness made the exhibition singularly interesting, though there is nothing of beauty or grace about it. This dance, be it known, is very different from the haka that is sometimes witnessed when the Maori's blood is heated by rum and encouragement to proper orgie-pitch. That kind of haka we did not see, but we heard enough about it to believe that it is "hardly the kind of thing a girl would like to take her mother to."

When the haka was through, a fierce onslaught was made on the food. That the visitors had not made it sooner surprised me; their long ride to the settlement in the early morning, and their long fast and weep since arriving there, must have made them hungry enough to eat their best friends. We felt so, I know, and but for the potatoes, might have been guilty of anything, even cannibalism, if temptation had come our way. Down on the fern we went and gobbled riwai (potatoes) out of our fingers, with a heartiness that must have astonished the natives. The pork we passed, it looked too black—owing to the unwholesome butchering, I expect. They do not bleed the pigs, pakeha fashion, but merely knock them on the head or drown them. I witnessed, from Lake House balcony, one morning, a little mild killing of this nature. A woman had died on the previous day, and as she was of some importance socially, a great tangi was to be held, and there was consequently much preparation of food. Numbers of pigs were killed, loads of potatoes scraped, and hundreds of paros woven. Of "funeral baked meats" there was to be no stint. Standing on the balcony, and watching with interest the various signs of commotion in the camp, I presently observed an elderly Maori, clad scantily in a "cutty sark," approach an elderly pig that was peaceably grubbing fern roots out of the hillside. It was a big pig, long, lank, and patriarchal in appearance. A rangatira pig, doubtless; probably the progenitor of most of the porcine tribe in the district.

The Maori approached it in the rear, and caught it by one long, thin hind leg. The pig looked round with an expression of patient curiosity, but made no remark. Now pigs, as a rule, you know, do make remarks, vociferous remarks, when liberties of that page 18 sort are taken with them. This pig said nothing. The Maori walking backwards, gently conducted the pig, also backwards, to the lake. I said to myself, "It is an old retainer, a faithful old favourite of the family, and its master is about to give it its morning bath."

Slowly and silently the Maori backed into the lake. Slowly and silently the pig backed after him—on three legs. When the Maori was immersed to within an inch of the tail of his shirt, he made a sudden grab under water at piggie's other hind leg, turned the animal dexterously over, planted one foot somewhere about its neck, and held on tightly to the hind feet for about a minute and a-half. Then he calmly backed out again, lugging the body with him. Poor piggie was as dead as a door nail. Close by was a pool of hot water, into this the pig was plunged, afterwards dragged out, stretched on a stone slab adjacent, and scraped.

Afterwards he was carved with an axe, or some equally suitable instrument, cooked by steam, and eaten. And very much enjoyed, too, apparently; but it will easily be imagined that that kind of death does not tend to make the flesh white and wholesome. And as the pigs, like the dogs and all other animals belonging to the Maoris, have to grub out their own living as best they can, one may conclude that Maori pork is not the most delectable of dishes.

When the feast had fairly commenced at Whakarewareva, there was really nothing more for us to see. We were told that they would all get drunk, as a matter of course, and that the spree would conclude only when rum and kai gave out. It is lamentable, this heavy drinking among the Maoris; it is a pity to see so fine a race rapidly succumbing to the pernicious effects of the rum curse.

Whatever energy the Maori may have once possessed, little enough of it is visible now. Eating, drinking, and sleeping, together with hot-water bathing and basking in the sun, seem to be the sum total of Maori ambition at present. A tangi breaks the monotony, and they seem to enjoy the break thoroughly, though the fun has its drawbacks—to wit, a wholesale consumption of food that results probably in comparative famine for months page 19 afterwards. The last pig, the last kit of riwai, must not be grudged for a tangi; not even though starvation stare one in the face subsequently.

Sophia, our guide at Wairoa, told us that after one great tangi there, provisions were so scarce that the natives literally starved until the new riwai crop was ready. The Europeans both at Wairoa and Ohinemutu helped them with gifts. Mr. and Mrs. Graham were specially thoughtful and liberal, she said, but even then the times were very hard with the Wairoa people that season. All over the district I heard Maori testimony to the kindness of Te Grahama, as they call Mr. Graham, to the natives in their times of distress; and Te Grahama is naturally very popular in consequence; for although gratitude has no corresponding word in the Maori language, the sentiment is one keenly felt by the Maori heart. I found all the natives very susceptible to kindness, and very generous with all they had to give. They seem to be lovers of peace now, too; all the old passion for war is dead, apparently. Probably diet has a good deal to do with this condition of things. I cannot imagine anyone keeping up much ferocity on a strictly vegetable diet. Riwai forms the staple food from month's end to month's end with the Maoris, with some small lake fish by way of a change, and pork very occasionally.

There are many arguments in favour of vegetarianism, good arguments too, yet as a steady thing, potatoes must become monotonous, I fancy. And I hold it a tenable theory that the dearth of animals available for food on this island, in times gone by, was the cause and origin of cannibalism. Say what you will, roast meat, in a brisk hungry climate like this, is a necessity. In tropical countries where nutritious fruits grow in abundance, and heat renders appetites tame and easily satisfied, the natives may well be contented and healthy vegetarians. But here it is different. There are no indigenous fruits worth mentioning; fern-root and an insufficient supply of rat and wild dog formed the daily food of the natives year in and year out. And when one thinks of that and experiences the climate, one wonders no longer that the discoverers of New Zealand found here a race of cannibals. After the page 20 introduction of pigs, the hunger for human flesh diminished "After the introduction of civilization and religion, you mean," I hear someone exclaim." But I say, "No; after the introduction of pigs is what I mean." If the pakeha had introduced only tracts and Bibles and moral maxims, there would be double the number of Maoris yet in the land; and roast enemy, or roast missionary would still be a prominent and favourite item in the Maori bill of fare.