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The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future

The Isles of New Zealand

The Isles of New Zealand.

The Chatham Isles.—This group of islands, in lat. 43° 48″ S. and lon. 175° 50″ W., was first discovered by Lieutenant Broughton, R.N., of the “Chatham” store ship, in 1791, chiefly consists of four, the others being mere rocks. The largest, Chatham Island, or Whare Kauri, is 48 miles in length from N.E. to S.E., by 15 in width, contains 600,000 acres. The second, Ranghauti, or Pitt’s Island; the third Rangatira, or South-East Island; and the fourth, Rangitutai, or the Sisters; they are situated in the latitude of Akaroa, at a distance of about 400 miles due E., and are low but fertile, its little hills have pyrimidical forms, and are

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of a volcanic character; the soil is generally peaty; there are turf grounds often 50 feet deep; in several parts these peat grounds have been on fire for years. At a depth of six feet, are trunks of trees of a much larger growth than any now found there.

The climate, though damp, is temperate, very favorable for ferns and the formation of turf; all European weeds and esculent plants grow so luxuriantly as to threaten to choke everything else. Several kinds of trees, which in New Zealand are little more than shrubs, here attain the size of timber trees. The Karamu, a species of coprosma, is often more than three feet in diameter, and is sawn into planks. The Putiritiri, of the same order, is a beautiful tree with a small leaf, and also the Taupata, which having a fine bright leaf is a very ornamental tree; the Karaka tree likewise grows there. The forget-me-not, Kopa-kopa Myosotis, with its fine bunches of flowers and large glossy leaves, is a native of these isles.

Among the birds are the pigeon, a fine large rail, the korimako and tui. The albatros breeds there, its young are smoked in great quantities, and considered dainties; in the large central fresh water lagoon abundance of very fine eels are found.

The chief harbour is Waitangi Bay; the general depth of water in it, is from seven to twelve fathoms. Ten miles to the north of Waitangi is Wangaroa, another harbour, of an oval form, the heads are about half-a-mile apart, and it runs inland a mile. There are also two other bays between these, called Wangamoe and Wangati. On the northern coast is a sheltered bay called Kaingaroa.

These islands have a native population of about 500, which since the late war has been doubled, by the prisoners exiled to them. There was a singular aboriginal race there when they were first discovered, called the Muriuri, or Kiri Waka Papa, but more generally known as the Parakiwara, black fellow, a name of reproach given by the Maori on account of their dark color; they are small, black, and ill-favored. The Maories were carried there in 1838 by a whaler; they took posession of these islands and soon diminished the

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number of its original inhabitants, so that at present it is very small. In 1840, Colonel Wakefield sent an agent in the ship Cuba to purchase the group for the New Zealand Company. The directors in London tried to re-sell them to a Hamburgh Colonization Company, but the English Government hearing of this, disallowed the sale as an illegal purchase.

A few years later some German Missionaries took up their abode on these islands, but they had already received the Gospel from some of the native teachers sent to them from the main land. A few settlers have long lived there, one of whom (Mr. Hunt) wrote an interesting account of his residence. Since that period the number has been increased, and the islands are now divided into sheep runs. The two largest are chiefly inhabited. They have a resident magistrate and a custom house.

The ancient inhabitants, though very degraded, skilfully constructed their canoes with inflated tubes of seaweed, the same kind are also used as water vessels, and serve the place of pots, in which to stow their oil and preserved birds, but now all their former customs are giving way to European ones, and will soon entirely disappear.

The Snares.—Sixty-two miles S.S.W. of Stewart’s Island are the Snares; these are little more than rocks, the largest is two miles long by half-a-mile in width. The island is 470 feet high, and contains a snug cove on the eastern side, where a boat or small vessel may lay in perfect safety from all winds. They are destitute of vegetation, and covered with the Pintado or Cape Pigeon.

The Auckland Isles.—About 200 miles S. of Stewart’s Island are the Islands forming this group. The largest is about 30 miles long by little more than half that width; and the other, Enderby’s Island, so called from the Lieutenant-Governor having fixed his whaling establishment upon it. These isles rise to the height of 2000 feet; they are well wooded, grassed, and watered. They abound in the seal, and offer a suitable rendezvous for whale ships, having good harbours. In a botanical point of view they

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are very interesting, the vegetation in this high latitude partaking more of a tropical than temperate character, and in some respects closely resembling the Australian, the Casuarina growing there. The climate is temperate and remarkable for no great extremes; the winter perhaps being finer than the summer. Captain Ross was struck with the many advantages it possessed for a penal settlement; he places the average temperature at 45.27, in summer rarely more than 78°, in winter seldom less than 38°; it contains 80 flowering plants and many of the New Zealand trees and birds. Latitude 50° 32′ 30″ S.; Longitude 166° 12′ 34″ E.

Campbell’s Island was discovered in 1810, by Captain F. Hazzelburgh, of the brig Perseverance of Sydney, belonging to Robert Campbell, and therefore called after that well-known merchant. It is 30 miles in circumference and very mountainous, the hills rising to 1500 feet elevation. The shores of its north harbour rise abruptly to 800 and 900 feet; it has two good harbours, one on either side. Not being so well wooded as the Auckland Isles, it looks desolate, although there is abundance of wood in sheltered places, and by their prostrate appearance indicate the power of the prevailing westerly winds.

Perseverance Harbour is four miles long, running more than two miles inland in a W.N.W. direction; the upper part is completely land-locked and contains abundant room for 100 ships, with plenty of good water. Latitude 52° 33′ 26″ S.; Longitude 169° 8′ 41″ E.

Of the Antipodes Islands little is known, except that they are mere rocks rising about 600 feet above the level of the sea, in Latitude 51° S., and Longitude 178° W.

The last remaining group belonging to New Zealand is that of the Three Kings; of these islands one only is habitable; about five miles in circumference and nearly a thousand feet high, being visible at a great distance, and seen from Cape Maria Van Dieman, from which it is 38 miles distant in a W.N.W. direction, and 47 from North Cape, E.S.E. The North Cape natives fled to this island when dispossessed

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of their homes by the Rarawa, and only returned when that tribe sold the land. Latitude 34° 6′ 20″; Longitude 172° 9′ 45″.