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Sketches of Early Colonisation in New Zealand and its Phases of Contact with the Maori Race


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Books have provided amusement, recreation, or study, for all sorts and conditions of people for generations past.

They have always been most popular, especially with those of a studious or enquiring mind; but never, perhaps, have they been read with such avidity as by those of the present generation.

Throughout the following pages will be found, it is to be hoped, a collection of short and interesting Sketches of Early Colonist Life in New Zealand (being a country singularly prolific of many thrilling scenes there enected during years long gone by), which are written in a racy and catchy style, peculiar of the soil.

Before launching these "Sketches of Early Colonisation in New Zealand, and its Phases of Contact with the Maori Race" upon the public, it may not be uninteresting to the reader for me to state that having arrived in the Colony when of tender age, I was shortly afterwards sent to a semi-native School, where Maori and white lads commingled in the same classes, where I received my initiatory experience and knowledge of the Maori people and their mythological history.

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I might further state that having been permitted by my parents to occasionally spend a few days of my school vacation at the homes of some of my Maori companions (young and influential Chiefs), I was always received with marked cordiality and respect, my parents permitting me to return that courtesy by frequently inviting them to partake of the hospitality of my own home.

I look back upon those days of my early boyhood with pleasurable recollections, and can, with pride, recall to mind a few of the distinguished chiefs of the Island Colony, to-day, as amongst my most intimate school friends.

The feeling then existing between both races (before the unfortunate wars of the Sixties placed such a barrier between them), was one of mutual esteem and friendship, whilst marriage alliances were of frequent occurrence.

It has been a rare privilege for me to witness, in their native homes, nearly all the customs, as practiced years ago, by this singularly interesting people, a privilege now seldom met with except in the far interior, and remote from contact with civilization, the advance and practice of which has almost obliterated all trace of such from amongst the coastal tribes of the country. This knowledge, however, enables me to write with considerable confidence throughout these Sketches, wherever Maori customs are touched upon.

It is no inconsiderable thing, indeed, to write a good and interesting biography, as snares and pitfalls beset the author of such on every side; the partialities or prejudices of many readers have to be studied and reckoned page viiwith; the want of perspective care, and the difficulty of dealing with important phases of character or description of them, constitute a few of the stumbling blocks the author has to contend with.

It would be the height of presumption, on my part to imagine myself capable of overcoming all these difficulties enumerated, but my humble endeavour is to place before the public a plain unvarnished word portraiture, throughout these Sketches, drawn to the best of my ability, from personal observation and many years' experience in the Colony—the persons, places, and things being real, although the names are fictitious, I reserving to myself the Author's privilege in such matters of using the correct ones or not, wherever thought necessary.

I place this, my first attempt at literature, before a discriminating public, in all modesty of purpose, and await their verdict, with patience.

Should that be of a favourable and pleasing nature, it must act as a very great incentive to me in producing and placing others before them hereafter, but upon entirely different subjects.