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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Early Communication With New Zealand

Early Communication With New Zealand.

In the year 1788, just a hundred and one years ago, there landed at Botany Bay 757 convicts with 200 marines in charge of them, and a few women. This was the first European settlement in Australasia, others following at intervals: and in 1801 settlement at New South Wales had increased to about 5500 souls. At present the entire European population of these colonies is over three and a-quarter millions—more than the entire population of the American States when they declared their independence and cut themselves adrift from the British Empire. And it is to be noted that these three and a-quarter millions do not consist of such a mixture of races as is to be found in America: the population is mainly composed of English-speaking people. In the year 1839 the increase in the population of the Australasian colonies had been but slight, and New Zealand did not exist as a colony. Discovered in 1642 by Abel Jansen Tasman, the latter place had been lost sight of until rediscovered by our great navigator, Captain Cook, in 1769. At first his opinion was that he had found the Terra Australia Incognita, and it was only later that he ascertained he was merely in the wake of an earlier discoverer.

The navigator's accounts of New Zealand are too well known by all readers of his admirably written voyages—and who has not read them?—to need any recapitulation by us. Reference is only made to this voyage because the discoveries of Captain Cook in the South Seas led to the formation of the penal settlement in New South Wales, to which we have already referred. From this voyage sprang the first colonisation of Australia.

In 1788 European communication with New Zealand became frequent by the extension of the South Sea whale fishery to the New Zealand coast, and the anxiety of commercial men to obtain Maori-dressed phorminm flax, the silk-like softness of which was much admired. But the growing confidence (at first disturbed by the dread of cannibalism) between Europeans and natives, was interrupted in the year 1809 by the massacre at Whangaroa of the passengers and crew of the ship Boyd, and for some years there was a state of intermittent warfare between whalers and Maoris, which prevented any settlement in the country, caused the natives to be looked upon as a race of monsters, and justified in the eyes of the whalers the cruelties and murders committed on them. Every vessel approaching the coast had boarding nets, ana it is said that in the three years ending 1817, one hundred New Zealanders were slain by Europeans in the immediate vicinity of the Bay of Islands. Whenever they had a chance the natives retaliated. Thus, in 1816, the brig Agnes, with fourteen men on board, stranded at Poverty Bay, and all the crew excepting John Rutherford were killed and eaten. A whaling ship was cast ashore at Wanganui, and all the crew were killed and eaten except one European and one negro. Meanwhile a change was being effected which was gradually to smooth down these differences, and to lead to intimate relations between Maoris and Europeans, and this change was to be effected by two very different agencies, viz., the advent of missionaries and the introduction of firearms.