The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78
My Arrival in New Zealand—how four Pakeha Children Travelled from Port Nicholson to Waikawa in 1845
My Arrival in New Zealand—how four Pakeha Children Travelled from Port Nicholson to Waikawa in 1845.
It was in the month of October, 1840, that my father's family left Gravesend in the ship Lady Nugent, and it was on the 17th March of the following; year that we landed at Port Nicholson. Our troubles began on the voyage. Our mother died, also our baby, a sister, a brother, and a cousin, and my father entered upon his colonial life with four little motherless children. My parents had been induced to emigrate by the glowing accounts circulated in the Home Country of the bright future awaiting those who would throw in their lot with the New Zealand company. My father paid the Company £500 for the 500 acres of land which was to be our future home—only to find on arrival that all the land was in the possession of the Natives, and that here was no home for us but the immigration depôt. My father, as soon as possible, got the Natives to make us a house in Native fashion of toetoe reeds and thatch.
My personal troubles began while we were still in immigrants' quarters. One dull grey winter afternoon, as my aunt was busy washing, with her pots on a blazing fire, I sat down on a log beside the fire to play. The flames caught my clothes, and, all in a laze, I rushed into the house. My aunt was coming out of the door with some clothes in her hands; she threw them over me and put the fire out, but not before I was badly burnt about the back. No medical treatment was available, but my father did all he could for me, with little success. I lay helpless and suffering week after week, and was not expected to live. One day, a good old Maori came into the house to sell potatoes, and, seeing me, asked my father what was the matter with the boy. My father explained, and showed him ray burns. The Maori asked if he might be allowed to cure me, and my father, who had tried every kind of treatment he could think of, and had begun to regard my case as page 2 hopeless, gave his consent. Next morning the Maori came with a basket of clay kneaded to the consistence of putty. This he carefully applied to the injured parts. The coolness of the moist clay was grateful beyond description, and in about an hour I began to feel better. Next morning he came and repeated the treatment, and so on daily for about a week, when I was able to leave my bed and get about. Ever since I have cherished grateful memories of the good old Maori who certainly saved my life.
My father, who was a rope-maker, had brought out with him the necessary plant to carry on the business; and established a rope-walk at Te Aro in 1842. The trouble with the Natives in 1844 cut off the supply of flax, so he transferred his rope-walk to Waikawa, leaving his children in Wellington. The following year, feeling satisfied that the Native disturbances were over, he made arrangements for us to come to him in the Fidele, a little schooner of about twelve tons, which he had chartered to take a load of rope to Wellington and return with goods to Waikawa. It was in May, 1845, that the captain of the schooner called at our house to take us four children on board. We were put below in a small cabin, the air in which soon became stifling. We sailed about 9 o'clock in the evening, and very soon after our departure the rose to a hurricane. We were roused by the storm and the shouting of the men, who closed down the cabin hatch. We children had a terrible time below during the gale. We could hear the great seas sweeping the deck, so that it was wonderful that the crew were not swept overboard. We heard the hurrying feet above, shouts of desperation and horrible curses. Nearly suffocated, knocked about by the plunging of the little craft, which, rearing high on a great billow, would plunge as if descending to the depths the next moment, the thoughts of our discomfort were lost in our sense of imminent peril. The skipper put back, and by midnight we were once more safe in the harbour of Wellington; but the impression the experience of those terrible hours made on my mind has never been effaced. When we were put on shore the master told us that he would be leaving again in the morning, and that he would call for us at the house. He did, but we were not to be found, so he had to leave without us. From our hiding-place we watched the Fidele safely out of the harbour, and then returned to the house. My father, when he met the vessel at Waikawa, was disappointed to find that we were not on board. The following month he despatched a trustworthy Maori to guide us up the coast to our future home. The name of our guide was Ropina. He is still living, but he is now known by the name of Tamihana Whareakaka. After much persuasion we were induced to entrust ourselves to his care and guidance. At that time the only European settlement between Wellington and Otaki was the page 3 military barracks at the frontier post, a short distance from Paremata, in the Porirua district, where Plimmerton now stands. The military were stationed there to keep in check the disaffected Natives under Rangihaeata. Save at this point our journey lay entirely through Native districts, occupied by several [unclear: tries]. The inhabitants lived in stockaded pas; they had been trained from childhood in the art of war, and their strongest instincts were associated with the love of war and revenge.
It was in June, 1845, that we four children, with our guide Ropina, started on our weary journey over the rough bush tracks from Wellington to Waikawa. The first day we started to climb the long forest-clad range standing above Kaiwharawhara, overlooking Port Nicholson, and we had a great struggle to ascend the hill. My younger brother, being too weak to walk, had to be carried most of the way in a blanket, slung from the shoulders, by Ropina. We three children followed behind. When our guide was tired he would put the child down and let him walk a little way. All that day we followed the steep and rough trail over the ranges, through dense underbrush and tangled supple-jacks, over prostrate logs, across swamps and streams, by rugged hill-sides, and through darkening woods—and still before us marched our watchful guide, carrying my little brother, besides his burden of blankets and food for us all. Ever, as he trotted along, he talked to us in his few words of broken English, cheering us on, comforting us as best he could, and calming our fears. No stream was there to ford, no treacherous swamp or rough place to cross, but he assisted each one over in safety; and then, resuming his heavy burden, placed himself once more at our head. Thus we fared on, we children bravely trying not to be afraid, and sustaining ourselves with the thought that we were going to our father. Our first day's journey brought us to Mr. and Mrs. Wall's house at Takapau, called in those days "The Half-way House." Those two kind settlers were very good to us, gave us food and shelter, and made up a bed for us in front of the fire-place.
Next day we continued our journey along a track through dense bush to Kenepuru, Porirua, the place known in after years as" The Ferry." It took us the whole day to travel this far. When we arrived the soldiers were engaged in forming the Porirua road to Wellington. Our guide took us to a rude accommodation house, kept by Mrs. Jackson, a negro woman, and left us there, thinking that among people of our own race we would be well looked after. We were given a corner of the whare in which to pass the night, but we suffered much discomfort and fear, for the place was filled with rough soldiers, drinking and quarrelling until nearly daylight. We enquired anxiously for our friend Ropina, but he had gone to spend the night with his own people at a neighbouring page 4 kainga. The hours of darkness passed very slowly and wearily, and we were right glad when daylight returned, and with it the trusty Ropina. This night, spent among our own countrymen, was the only occasion on the whole journey when we children were not treated with all kindness and respect. The next day Ropina got Mr Jackson's men to ferry us across to Paremata, where the barracks of the soldiers were situated. The officer in command, on seeing us little folk and hearing that we were on our way through the hostile country to Waikawa, was greatly amazed, and at first would not permit us to proceed. At length our guide, through the medium of the regimental interpreter, convinced him that we could pass through in safety, and we resumed our journey. Leaving Paremata and its lone frontier post, we travelled along the beach to Taupo, the site of the present station of Plimmerton, where Mr Rhodes at that time kept a store just at the entrance of the bush. Mr Rhodes, seeing us, asked where we were going, and we told him we were on the way to our father at Waikawa. He seemed in doubt as to our safety, and questioned our guide, who assured him that there was no danger. Most of the Natives who had taken up arms were relatives of his, and would not molest the children committed to his charge. Mr Rhodes was reassured; he gave us food, and to our guide some tobacco.
We continued our journey northward through the Pukeua Bush ranges, looking down, as we climbed the long leading spur, upon the beautiful bay enclosed by forest-covered hills, its waters glistening in the rays of the sun. Beneath us on the beach we saw the old-time kaingas—Hongoeka, Motuhara, and Turikawera—the homes in days of yore of the Ngatikahungunu, before the invasion of the fierce Ngatiawa from far-away Taranaki. We saw the waters gliding past Horopaki, the distant hill of Whitirea guarding the approach of Titahi, and the bare island of Mana that witnessed the migration of Kupe. Throughout the day we toiled through the dense bash and clambered up the rocky ridges, until, towards evening, we emerged from the forest and entered on the old summit of Pukerua Hill. On the hill, where the range descends abruptly to the sea, and isolated on the island side by miles of tangled forest and rugged mountains, was one of the strongholds of the Ngatitoa. This was the Waimapihi Pa, originally held by the Ngaturu hapu of the Ngatikahungunu, the former inhabitants of the Wellington district. To this pa the refugees of the Muaupoko retreated after having been defeated by Te Rauparaha at Horowhenua, where the lake pas Waikiekie, Awamate, and Te Namuiti fell to the prowess of the warlike Ngatitoa. Waimapihi was afterwards taken by Te Rauparaha with great slaughter, and it is said that the victors remained on the spot for two months, living on the bodies of the slain and of the prisoners. Butpage break
Nemesis was on their trail. A war-party of Ngatikahungunu defeated the Ngatitoa and drove them back to Waikanae. This land was re-occupied by Ngatitoa some years afterwards, and came into the possession of the Ngatikahutaiki hapu, whose representative, TePirihana, resided there till recently; his father, Tungia, was one of the chiefs of Ngatitoa when they took the pa. Built on a hill-top, the fortified village contained many hundreds of inhabitants. The outer stockade, consisting of huge tree-trunks set side by side in the ground, was called the pekerangi. The tops of these high posts were carved into hideous figures with protruding tongues and great glaring eyes set with the shining paua shell. Inside this defence were two other lines of palisades with deep ditches between, and underground ways for the defenders to retreat through if : driven back from the pekerangi. There, in that lone mountain fort, dwelt a section of the Ngatitoa, anxious for their tribal mana, distrustful of the pakeha, looking down day after day upon the sea of Raukawa which lay beneath them, looking down upon I the lone Kapiti, their refuge of former times, when they first migrated from their ancestral lands at Kawhia; noting, too, with jealous eyes the increasing numbers of the pale-faced paheka—looking also anxiously to the eastward, where, a few miles away, their tribal comrades were fighting in defence of the mana of their race against the invaders from beyond the great ocean.
When we arrived at the pekerangi, the inhabitants, seeing our approach, poured out from the village and gazed with wonder at the novel sight of white children paying them a visit. They cried aloud, "E tamariki pakeha !" (children of the white folk), and then from the women of the tribe arose their ancient cry of welcome, "Haere mai! haere mai! Naumai e hoa-ma ! naumai!" which, being interpreted, means, "Welcome, welcome, O friends ! Welcome !" All the people of the pa came forth in wonder, and crowded round us to bid us welcome, but we children were greatly terrified, and would not at first consent to enter the gateway. We mistook the noisy greeting of our hosts for a demonstration of hostility, and their fierce and savage appearance did not tend to reassure us. My sister said, "If we go inside, we shall all be killed," and all Ropina's powers of persuasion were required to induce us at last to enter. Then we were led into the village by the women, who smiled upon us and patted us, trying to calm our fears, Nevertheless, our hearts sank as we went in by the great, waharoa with its hideous carved faces glaring down on us as we passed. But no harm befel us, and we gradually recovered confidence as we were conducted through lanes and "between long rows of whares, over numerous low fences dividing the allotments of the several families, and so to our destination, a whare set specially apart for us. Arrived there, all the people vied with page 6 each other in anticipating our wants, and enough food was set before us to have satisfied a score of hungry men. There, in that lone hill pa, inhabited by fierce and savage people, we passed the night in safety, for the mana of Paora, the chief of the Ngatiwehiwehi, was over us.
When morning came, food was brought, and when we were satisfied, Ropina took us up into the watch-tower of the pa, from whence we could see, far below us, the white surf dashing on the rocky coast, and the bright sea flashing in the rays of the morning sun. Away to the north we saw the bold outline of Kapiti Island, the sign left by the great ancestor Kupe in ancient times. For; what says the old waiata ?
"Tu ke a Kapiti,
Tu ke Mana,
Tu ke Arapaora,
Ko nga tohu ena o taku tupuna a Kupe."
Which may thus be interpreted : "Stand there Kapiti, Mana, ani Arapaora, as signs of our ancestor Kupe." Then Ropina directed our attention to the long sandy beach which stretched before far away until it was lost to view in the shimmering haze hanging low down over, distant Waikanae. The sunlight playing over the shining sands and rippling waves and virgin forests of that fair land made the scene very beautiful to look upon. Ropina told that our father's home lay three days' journey beyond the furthest visible point. Our hearts sank at the prospect, and we said we should never be able to walk there, for the way was too long. Thus far had we come in two days' journey from Wellington.
Then we bade farewell to the hospitable people at the pa, am started once more on our way. The Natives crowded to the edge of the bluff, and waved their flax cloaks, crying aloud their farewell : "Haere, haere, ra koutou ki to koutou kainga; haere ra e hika ma e. Kia pai te haere !" (Go, go to your home. 0 children ! Go in peace !) And the mana of Ngatitoa was ovi us as we went. Clambering down the rocky cliffs, we wandi slowly along the rough road which lies beneath Paiterangi, till came to a whare on the hill by the sea-side. Here we fo Scotch Jock's Maori wife, a woman named Peti, who told us thi Jock was away at Kaikoura whaling. We were greatly pi when she spoke to us in English, for the sound of our own Ian] once again was welcome indeed. Moreover, the heart of the nati' woman was warmed to us, and she urged us to stay the night, bul Ropina said we must go on. "Then," she said, "you must sto] and have some food." Soon she had put before us potal kumara, and fish; but she knew the love of the pakeha for hi and set about to supply a substitute for the deficiency. Proci a root of the rewarewa tree, she took some potatoes, grated them page 7 on the natural grater, formed them into little cakes, and baked them in the hot ashes. These cakes were called pakéké by the Natives. For tea, she made an effusion of the leaves of the hutiwai (the common Native burr or piripiri: Acaena sanguisorbae), and we enjoyed a good meal before resuming our journey. In parting she told us not to be afraid of Rangihaeta, for he was in the bush retreating to Poroutawhao, and would not fight any more, as the white people had taken Te Rauparaha prisoner, and if Rangihaeta committed any murder Te Rauparaha would be kept prisoner for life. "You have got over the worst part of the road," she said, "and you will soon be at your father's place at Waikawa." This assurance gave us great joy, and, bidding her good-bye, we resumed, with renewed courage, our journey to Paekakariki. Clambering down by the rocky cliffs to the sea-beach, we wended our way slowly along the rough boulders and stony beach which lie beneath the great precipice of Te Paripari. It was very difficult travelling, and we made but little progress. Ropina, carrying my younger brother, had often to return to assist us over bad places, so that it was past noon when we reached the singular cave or hollow rock which is situated at the base of Te Paripari, the abrupt ending of the Paekakariki range.
There is a curious Maori tradition in connection with this cave, which is not generally known. It relates to the journey of one Hau, a tupuna or ancestor who travelled from Taranaki to Paekakariki in olden days in search of his wife Wairaka, who had been stolen from him by two men, Kiwi and Weka. Hau proceeded down the coast, naming each river and point as he passed along, until he reached this great rock at the base of Te Paripari. In those days the rock was not hollow, 'but quite solid, so that it barred all progress by the beach. On reaching it, Hau heard his wife speaking to her abductors on the further side. Then he uttered a powerful karakia or incantation, by means of which he eleft a passage through the great rock whereby he passed safely to the other side. Then, sending Wairaka out into the sea to gather shell-fish, he cast a spell over her and turned her into a rock. We of this time may know the legend to be true, for the rock Wairaka still stands there in the sea, and the pierced rock of Te Paripari remains also as a token of the power of Hau. The pakehas suppose is to be merely a work of Nature; but the Maoris, who now better, call it still "Te Ana o Hau" "The Cave of Hau."
Leaving the cave, we continued our journey till we came to Paekakariki. Here at that time there was another pa, situated near the site of the present railway station. On arriving at the gateway, we saw gathered in the marae or court-yard a large number of Maoris. One old man was making a speech—shouting, shaking his spear, and rushing about in so terrifying a manner that page 8 we thought this surely must be the end, and that we should all be I killed. We would not go in, though our guide and other Maoris tried hard to persuade us, so they brought food to the gateway.,] and here, as elsewhere, we were well treated. Our guide Ropina told us that the reason the Natives were so disturbed was that had received bad tidings from Horokiwi, where their tribal friends were being defeated by the pakeha. The people of Rangiha were retreating up the Paekakariki range through the dense bush, After rest and refreshment here, we continued our journey, intending to reach Wainui, but night overtook us, and we were tired out. Our guide therefore collected a quantity of wood the sea beach and made a fire, at which he roasted some potatoes After our meal, we lay down by the fire and slept.
In the morning when we awoke we found that our blank were covered with frost. Starting afresh, we reached the Wainui pa after about an hour's walk. A great number of Natives were living here at the time. They made us very welcome, and as day was Sunday they would not allow us to travel further, were very strict in their religious observances in those days—they would not even peel their potatoes on Sunday, all such work always being done on the previous day.
We continued our journey next morning to Waikanae, the Native women coming part of the way along the sea beach to assists in carrying us over the streams, and having seen us safely across they returned. At that time Mr. William Jenkins was keeping an accommodation house at the mouth of the Waikanae river, and on our arrival at his place he treated us with great kindness, There was then at Waikanae a very large Maori pa with many hundreds of inhabitants, and the distinguished chief William King, afterwards renowned in the Taranaki wars, was living there.
In the morning Mr. Jenkins ferried us across the Waikanse river, and we continued our way to Otaki. When about half-way there we came upon a party of whalers, encamped on the beach. They had been chasing a whale earlier in the day. Seeing us, they called, inviting us to come to their camp and have some food, but we were so alarmed at the rough appearance of the men that we begged Ropina not to go. So we hastened on, along the sandy beach, until we reached the Otaki river. Here, near the river mouth, was another large pa with many hundreds of Maori inhabitants, and here, as elsewhere, we were met with loud cries of welcome, and received with every kindness.
We slept in the pa, and next morning were ferried across the Otaki river by Mr. Harvey, who told us that we were about six miles only from our father's place. We next reached another very large pa, at Rangiuru, where the Rev. W. Williams was living Here again the Native people gave us a hearty welcome, thepage break
In those days the district was a perfect terrestrial paradise Beautiful forests adorned the hills and plains, the woods extending to within a mile and a half of the sea-beach, while scattered along the coast were most beautiful lagoons. Those were the day good old days—and never more can they return. Our material comforts may have increased, but so have our pains and trouble, and many diseases then unknown, and the weather even has increased in severity. Things seem since then to have somehow gone wrong, and it is a dull sort of world compared with it was then—the sun itself does not seem to me to shine as brightly now as then. We cannot grow such crops now as the Natives grew in the old days—water-melons, peaches, crops, and fruits of all kinds have degenerated, and everything seems flat, stale, and unprofitable. Those good old times ! Before taxes, duties of public works were invented ! Who cared then whether we owned a coat or approved-of shoes and stockings ? Men and women alike were bigger and stouter, and more self-reliant. Money was of little use—in fact almost the only purpose to which the Maoris applied it was to make rings for their fingers, or, drilling a hole through the coin, hang it in their ears.
Remote though we were in those early days from the centres of population, we had our compensations. There was a sense of freedom and independence difficult to realise by those who has never been under like conditions, and notwithstanding occasion hardship and privation, there was a certain gratification in being thrown upon one's own resources. The discipline was in a high degree beneficial to the pioneer colonists, and brought out their best qualities. In later years we had the satisfaction of seeing the settlement take a fresh start, and become one of the most important districts in the colony. All honour to the brave pioneer—the true fathers of New Zealand ! They deserve to be held in grateful remembrance by those who, coming later, found the way prepared for peaceful and profitable settlement.
Only those who saw the country in its virgin state can realise the prodigality of nature and the beauty that has for ever passed away, leaving in the settled districts not a trace behind Mountains and plains alike were clothed with magnificent forest abounding with bell-birds, pigeons, and tuis, and vocal at sunrise with their music, while the beautiful lakes swarmed with native page 11 ducks. The changes which have followed settlement in this island must have been seen to be credited. Since 1855 the woods have gone, and with them the teeming and beautiful bird and insect life to which they gave shelter. Not less wonderful is the change in climate. Fifty years ago the summers were hotter and the winters milder—in fact, almost like the summers of the present time. The Maoris were a diligent and industrious people, cultivating extensive crops all along the coast and trading the produce to the settlers, who depended almost entirely on this source of supply. Scattered in all directions were groves of peach-trees, laden with choicest fruit. At any part of the coast, during the fruit season, tons of the finest apples, peaches, and water-melons could be obtained. Around every populous Native settlement might be seen the graceful indigenous growth of cabbage-trees, tree-ferns, and the plumed toi-grass; the pretty light bush mingled here and there with karaka trees, bringing out the lighter shades of green foliage. What a contrast now ! The pas and kaingas have vanished—the little gardens of Eden are overgrown with rank weeds, and patches of country, then lovely beyond all description, are now the picture of waste and desolation. The Natives of those days grubbed in wheat, which, when threshed, was carried on their backs to the nearest hand-mill. I have seen the seed-wheat scattered on newly-cleared ground without any covering whatever. The native birds would not touch it, and it produced heavy crops. All kinds of fruits and vegetables thrived luxuriantly, and there was a total absence of blight of any kind. For tea the Natives, and the settlers also, when supplies ran short, used the native "tea-tree," or manuka.
We settlers of the old days, and those who came after us, owe much to the Maori people of half a century ago. We should never forget their good feeling; their temperate and friendly conduct towards a scattered and unprotected population of six thousand souls. Nearly all the shops and stores were without shutters; scarcely a window was fastened at night; yet we slept in unbroken security. The Natives might also any night have risen and plundered, and even massacred, the inha itants, but the confidence I reposed in them was not abused. Living, as I have done, a life-time among the Maoris, I have never until recent years fastened door or window. Now, if I hear of a robbery, I say : No Maori has done it," and I am almost invariably right. There were sturdy pioneers in the days of old, and bravely they held on to their holdings.