Some Chapters in the Life and Times of Te Rauparaha
Before noticing the condition of the New Zealand tribes during the twenty years immediately preceding the systematic colonization of the islands, I think it necessary to call attention to the accounts we have received, both from early voyagers and from late writers of authority, as to the extent of the native population, and their habits of life, previously to the introduction of firearms; and I do this chiefly for the purpose of showing, that notwithstanding the savage character of the former wars of the New Zealanders, the effects which those wars produced upon their numbers were as naught when compared with the destruction of life, both direct and indirect, which followed upon the use of the more deadly weapon of the civilized man. The earliest notice we have of the present race, occurs in the history of the voyage of Abel Tasman to the South Seas, in the seventeenth century, from which we learn that, in December, 1642, he discovered a high mountainous country, which he named Staaten Land, or Land of the States, but which is now called New Zealand. A day or two afterwards, he anchored in the beautiful bay at the north-western extremity of the Nelson Province, formerly named Massacre, or Murderer's Bay, on account of the murder to which I am about to refer, but which is now known, on the maps of the Nelson Province, as Golden Bay. He says that he there found abundance of inhabitants, whom he describes as very large made people, of a colour between brown and yellow, with hoarse voices, and with hair long, and almost as thick as that of the Japanese, combed up and fixed on the top of their heads with a quill or some such thing, that was thickest in the middle, in the very same manner the Japanese fastened their hair behind their heads. Some of them covered the middle of their bodies with a kind of mat, and others with what Tasman took to be a sort of woollen cloth; but their upper and lower parts were altogether naked. Tasman remained in the bay for several days, and on the 19th of December the savages, who had previously been shy of close inter-course, grew bolder and more familiar, insomuch that they at last ventured on board the “Heemskirk” (one of his ships) to trade. As soon as he observed this, he sent his shallop, with seven men in it, to put the people in the page 15 “Heemskirk” on their guard, and to direct them not to place too much trust upon the good intentions of their visitors. The men in the shallop were at once attacked by the savages, and, being without arms, three of them were killed, the remaining four fortunately escaping by rowing for their lives. Tasman intended to have taken revenge for this murderous assault, but was compelled to leave without doing so, in consequence of rough weather coming on. It is probable that the people, by whom his boat's crew was attacked, belonged either to the Ngaitahu tribe—who, under the leadership of their ancestor Tahu, a chief of the Ngatikahungunu, crossed Cook Straits nearly three hundred years ago—or to the Rangitane and Ngatiapa, large numbers of whom also crossed Cook Straits some time before Tasman's visit, and took part in the destruction of the Ngatimamoe and other tribes which had previously occupied the northern parts of the Middle Island; but I am unable to determine this point. It is clear, however, that the number of natives then living in Massacre Bay was large, and that they exhibited the same fearless and ferocious character which led to such frequent hostile collisions with them, during the visits of subsequent voyagers. Our next accounts are derived from our own navigator, Cook, who had been directed to follow out the discoveries of Tasman regarding New Zealand and Van Dieman's Land, in order to ascertain whether they constituted part of the then little known continent of Australia. In October 1769, Cook first made land at a place which he named Poverty Bay. He did not then know that he had fallen in with the Staaten Land of Tasman, and the country he had found formed the subject of much eager discussion amongst the voyagers, the general opinion inclining to the belief, that it was part of the continent of Australia. He described the country in the neighbourhood of his land fall as being thickly peopled, and was greatly struck with the appearance of a pa, the use of which he was unable at the time to conceive. “Upon a small peninsula, at the north-east head of the bay, we could plainly see,” he says, “a pretty high and regular paling, which enclosed the whole top of the hill, which was the subject of much speculation, some supposing it to be a park for deer, others an enclosure for oxen and sheep.” Of course, Cook soon afterwards discovered the nature of these structures, which will be fully referred to in the sequel, and which had nothing to do either with deer, oxen, or sheep. Having landed for the purpose of watering the ship, his people were at once attacked with spears and “a sort of war hatchet of green slate, capable of splitting the hardest skull at a blow.” Notwithstanding all his efforts to conciliate, he found it impossible to come to any amicable understanding with the natives, even though Tupia (his interpreter) assured them that no harm was intended; and his seamen at last only effected their retreat in safety, after killing one of their assailants. The next day he again endeavoured to open friendly intercourse page 16 with the natives, and succeeded in approaching them, but they then became as thievish as they had previously proved daring. They endeavoured to snatch the arms out of the men's hands, and were only prevented from doing so by some of them being wounded with small shot.
Failing in his attempts to communicate satisfactorily with them on land, Cook now endeavoured to secure some of those who came out to the ship in their canoes, intending to try and win their confidence by kind treatment. In carrying out this design, four more of the natives were killed, but two lads were captured and carried aboard, where they soon became reconciled to their fate, and eat and drank voraciously. These lads were afterwards landed, but the people still remained as hostile and dangerous as before. Cook then followed the coast, northward, as far as Hawke's Bay, everywhere observing vast numbers of people watching the ship from different parts of the shore, all of whom, however, displayed the same hostility, coming off in their canoes, and menacing the ship “with great bravado.” When some of them came near enough, Tupia told them of their folly, explaining “that the white men had weapons that, like thunder, would kill them in a moment, and tear their canoes to atoms.” In order to show them the effect of the guns, without hurting them, a four-pounder, loaded with grape, was fired, which by its flash, its roar, and the effect of the shot far off on the water, astonished them for a moment; but only for a moment. Being at last induced to come near, for barter, they took everything offered, but then refused to give the articles required in exchange, and ultimately seized and attempted to carry off Tayeto, Tupia's boy, who had been sent down into one of the canoes, in order to hand up such articles as the natives might agree to part with. This compelled Cook to fire on them again, when one man was killed, and two others were wounded, and the boy, during the surprise, sprang into the water; where, however, he was only protected till he regained the ship, by the firearms of the crew. This occurred at Kidnappers' Point, and Cook then proceeded southward as far as Cape Turnagain; from whence he returned to the northeastward. On passing Portland Island, a chief and four others, in a canoe, boarded the ship—Cook's kindness to the lads whom he had previously seized having, apparently, produced the effect he intended. Their canoe was hoisted on board, and they stayed all night without any misgivings. In the morning they were put ashore at Cape Table, appearing to be much astonished at finding themselves so far away from home. From this time the ship was frequently visited, and it was found that the events which had taken place at Poverty Bay were well known all along the coast. According to Cook, “kindness and the cannon” both contributed to produce this more friendly feeling.
At Tolega Bay, some of the scientific men attached to the expedition page 17 landed for the first time, taking Tupia and Tayeto with them. Here they had their first close view of the houses and mode of life of the people. They entered some of the huts, and saw them at their meals. These huts are described as being very slight, and generally placed ten or fifteen together.
The chief food appeared to be fish and fern-root, the fibres of which were spit out, like quids of tobacco, into baskets set beside them for the purpose. This was in October, and Cook learnt that, in the more advanced season, the natives had plenty of excellent vegetables, but no animals except dogs, which they ate like the South Sea Islanders. They visited the native gardens, which consisted of from one acre to ten, and altogether, in the bay, amounted to 150 or 200 acres in extent. These gardens are described as being planted with sweet potatoes, coccos or eddas (such as are used in the East and West Indies), yams, and gourds; but few of them were then above ground, and the plantations were carefully fenced in with reeds. They found both men and women painted with red ochre and oil, but the women much the most so; and that, like the South Sea Islanders, they saluted by touching noses. They wore garments of native cloth, made from the fibre of New Zealand flax, and a sort of cloak or mantle of a much coarser kind. The women are described as being more modest in manner, and more cleanly in their homes, than the Otaheiteans. They willingly bartered their cloth and war weapons for European cloth, but they set no value on nails, having then no knowledge of iron or its uses. What astonished the visitors greatly was to find boys whipping tops exactly like those of Europe. Cook then visited a pa, and learned that these enclosures were used for purposes of defence against invasion, the houses, within the enclosure, being larger and more strongly built than those on the shore. He describes the men as having their faces wonderfully tattoed, and their cheeks cut in spiral lines of great regularity; and states that many of them had their garments bordered with strips of dog and rat skins, which animals, however, were said to have become very scarce. They measured one canoe, made out of the boles of three trees, which was sixty-eight and a half feet long, five wide, and three high. These, as well as the houses, were much adorned with carvings, in which spiral lines and distorted faces formed the main points, but the work was so well done, that Cook could scarcely believe that it was executed with any of the tools he saw.
He then followed the south-east coast as far as Mercury Bay, and from thence to the Bay of Islands, everywhere observing villages full of people, who constantly came off in their canoes to utter defiance to the ship, displaying, on all occasions, the same reckless daring and unreflecting courage, which were so conspicuous during the late war. It was surprising, indeed, that half-a-dozen naked men, in a crazy canoe, should defy a large ship with all its cannon and musketry, even after they had seen its destructive effects. Sometimes they page 18 assumed a more friendly aspect, and began to trade; but as soon as they had obtained what they wanted, they refused to give up the equivalent, and laughed at all menace of consequences, till they suffered wounds or death as a punishment, and then the survivors paddled off for a time. These accounts are confirmed, in all particulars, by other voyagers who visited New Zealand during the latter part of the last, and the earlier part of the present century, and lead to the conclusion that, prior to the year 1818, the native population was very large; and although we know, as I have before observed, that neighbouring tribes had been for ages constantly engaged in war with one another, it would also seem that the general results of their conflicts had not, until after the introduction of fire-arms, been such as materially to interfere with the maintenance of their numbers.
Mr. Manning, one of the judges of the Native Lands Court, a gentleman whose opportunities of acquiring knowledge on this subject have been unrivalled, also bears testimony to the former large numbers of the native people. “The natives,” he says, “are unanimous in affirming that they were much more numerous in former times than they are now, and I am convinced that such was the case for many reasons.” In support of this opinion, he refers to the existence, in most parts of the North Island, of numerous hill-forts or pas, many of them so large as to have required immense labour to trench, terrace, and fence. As he points out, the absence of iron tools must have greatly increased the difficulty of constructing these fortresses; whilst, even with the aid of such tools, the present population of the surrounding districts would, in most cases, be insufficient to erect them within any reasonable time. He also mentions that many of these forts were of such an extent that, taking into consideration the system of attack and defence necessarily used before the introduction of fire-arms, they would have been utterly untenable, unless held by at least ten times the number of men which the whole neighbourhood, for a distance of two or three days' journey, can now produce; and as, in those times of constant war, the natives, as a rule, slept in their hill-forts with closed gates, the bridges over the trenches removed, and the ladders of the terraces drawn up, it is evident that the inhabitants of each fort, though numerous, consisted only of the population of the country in its close vicinity.
“From the top of one of these pointed, trenched, and terraced hills,” says Mr. Manning, “I have counted twenty others, all of equally large dimensions, and all within a distance, in every direction, of fifteen to twenty miles; and native tradition affirms, that each of these hills was the stronghold of a separate hapu, or clan, bearing its distinctive name.” We have, moreover, evidence that vast tracts of land which are now wild, and have been so for time out of mind, were once fully and carefully cultivated. The ditches for page 19 draining are still traceable, and hundreds of large kumera pits are to be seen on the tops of the dry hills all over the northern part of the North Island.
These pits, in the greatest number, are found in the centre of extensive tracts of uncultivated country, whose natural productions would now scarcely sustain a dozen inhabitants. The extent of the ancient cultivations with which they are connected is clearly traceable, and what is more remarkable, and undoubtedly indicates the former existence of a large population, is that tracts of land of what the natives consider, as a rule, to be of very inferior quality, were formerly cultivated, leading to the inference either that the population was fully proportioned to the extent of available land, or that these inferior lands were cultivated in consequence of their vicinity to some stronghold, or position of greater consequence, in the eyes of the natives, than the mere fertility of the surrounding country. “These kumera pits,” says Mr. Manning, “being dug generally in the stiff clay on the hill-tops have, in most cases, retained their shape perfectly, and many seem as fresh and new as if they had been dug but a few years. They are oblong in shape, with the sides regularly sloped. Many collections of these provision stores have outlived Maori tradition, and the natives can only conjecture to whom they belonged. Out of the centre of one, which I have seen, there is now growing a kauri tree, one hundred and twenty feet high, and out of another a large totara. The outline of these pits is as regular as the day they were dug, and the sides have not fallen in in the slightest degree; from which, perhaps, they have been preserved by the absence of frost, as well as by a beautiful coating of moss, by which they are everywhere covered. The pit in which the kauri grew had been partially filled up by the scaling off of the bark of the tree, which, falling in patches, as it is constantly doing, had raised a mound of decaying bark round the root of the tree.”
Mr. Manning points out, as further evidence of the former existence of a large population, that each of the hill-forts referred to contained a considerable number of houses. Every native house, as we know, has a fire-place composed of four flattish stones or flags, sunk on their edges into the ground, in which a fire is made to heat the house at night. Now, in two of the largest hill-forts he examined (though for ages no other vestige of a house had been seen) there remained the fire-places—the four stones projecting, like an oblong box, slightly above the ground; and their position and number clearly denoted that, large as was the circumference of the huge volcanic hill which formed the site of the fortress, the number of families inhabiting it, required the strictest economy of room. The houses had been arranged in streets, or double rows, with paths between them, except in places where there had been only room, on a terrace, for a single row. The distances between the fire-places proved that the houses in the rows must have been as close together as it was possible to build them; page 20 and every spot, from the foot to the hill-top, not required, and specially-planned for defensive purposes, had been built on in this regular manner. Even the small flat top, sixty yards long by forty wide—the citadel—on which the greatest care and labour had been bestowed to render it difficult of access, had been as full of houses as it could hold, leaving only a small space all round the precipitous bank for the defenders to stand on.
It would not be difficult to multiply authorities, in order to prove that the New Zealanders were formerly much more numerous than when the Islands were first systematically colonized by Europeans, but I conceive that I have afforded sufficient evidence on this point, and it now remains for me to notice the principal causes which led to their decrease.
“The natives,” says Mr. Manning, “attribute their decrease in numbers, before the arrival of the Europeans, to war and sickness;” but I have already shown, that although the weapons they used before they obtained firearms were sufficiently formidable in close combat, the destruction of life incident to the possession of such weapons would, probably, never have brought about the deplorable results which followed upon the introduction of the musket into their system of warfare. Indeed, Mr. Manning himself leans to this opinion. “The first grand cause,” he says, “of the decrease of the natives, since the arrival of the Europeans, is the musket.” Now, it was not until after the year 1820 that fire-arms were extensively used in native warfare. Shortly before that date, the Ngapuhi chiefs, Hongi and Waikato, had visited England, from whence they returned laden with valuable gifts, of which no small part consisted of guns and ammunition, for which, too, they soon bartered the remainder of their newly-acquired treasures, with traders from New South Wales.
Then commenced a period of slaughter almost unparalleled in any country, when compared with the total population engaged in the conflicts. Bands of the Ngapuhi, armed with weapons whose destructive power was unknown to the great majority of the native people, marched from one end of the North Island to the other, carrying dismay and destruction wherever they went. The population of large districts was exterminated or driven into mountain fastnesses, where they either perished, in numbers, from famine and exposure, or contracted diseases which ultimately proved fatal to them. The great tribes of the Arawa and Waikato, against whom the first efforts of the Ngapuhi were directed, seeing the necessity of at once obtaining similar weapons, in order to avoid threatened destruction, suspended all their usual pursuits for the purpose of preparing flax, to be exchanged with the European traders for guns, powder, and ball. As fast as these were obtained, they were turned against weaker neighbours, and the work of destruction received a fresh impulse. Hongi, Epihai, Tamati Waka Nene, and Tareha, amongst page 21 the Ngapuhi chiefs,—Te Wherowhero, and others of the Waikatos,—and Te Waharoa, with his Ngatihaua, were all simultaneously engaged in the most ruthless wars against their neighbours; whilst, as I have before observed, Te Rauparaha was carrying on operations of a similar character in the South, and the number of people slaughtered was tremendous. On this head, I might quote many graphic passages from Mr. J. A. Wilson's “Story of Te Waharoa.” In speaking of the ultimate destruction of the great pa at Matamata, he tells us, “That at that time a number of Ngatimaru, with Tuhurua as their chief, resided at Matamata, an important fortress, not far from Mangakawa, Te Waharoa's own place, and therefore in a position which rendered them specially open to his incursions. Nor could they expect any effective aid against these incursions from the other sections of the tribe, whose internal jealousies, and constant dread of the Ngapuhi, then using their newly acquired weapons, in taking vengeance for former injuries, prevented them joining Ngatimaru proper against the common enemy. But for these circumstances, of which Te Waharoa was, no doubt, well aware, it is considered questionable whether he would have succeeded in his designs, as the Thames natives, before they lost the Totara Pa, mustered 4,000 fighting men; and, even after that disaster, he was unable, by mere strength, to wrest it from its possessors.” The following events, however, determined him to prosecute his war with Ngatimaru, and greatly contributed to his ultimate success.
“In 1821,” says Mr. Wilson, “a taua of Ngapuhi, under the celebrated Hongi, arrived at the Totara Pa, between Kauaeranga and Kopu, at the mouth of the Thames. So numerous did they find Ngatimaru, and the Totara so strong, that, hesitating to attack, they affected to be amicably disposed, and were received into the pa for the purposes of trade and barter. Towards evening Ngapuhi retired, and it is very remarkable—as indicating that man, in his most ignorant and savage state, is not unvisited by compunctions of conscience—that an old chief of the Ngapuhi lingered, and going out of the gate behind his comrades, dropped the friendly caution ‘kia tupato.’ That night, however, the Totara was taken; and, it is said, 1,000 Ngatimarus perished. Rauroha was slain, and Urimahia, his daughter, was carried captive to the Bay of Islands, where she remained several years. This calamity, while it weakened Ngatimaru, encouraged Te Waharoa.
In 1822, Hongi again appeared, and sailing up the Tamaki, attacked and carried two pas which were situated together, on part of the site now occupied by the village of Panmure. Many of the inhabitants were slaughtered, and some escaped. I would here observe that these two pas, Mauinena and Makoia, had no connection with the immense pa which evidently at some time flourished on Mount Wellington, and which, with the traces of a very page 22 great number of other enormous pas in the Auckland district, betokens the extremely dense Maori population which once existed upon this isthmus—a population destroyed by the late owners of the soil, and numbered with the past; but which, in its time, was known by the significant title of Nga Iwi— ‘The Tribes.’
Leaving naught at Mauinena and Makoia but the inhabitants' bones, having flesh and tendons adhering, which even his dogs had not required, Hongi pursued his course. He drew his canoes across the isthmuses of Otahuhu and Waiuku, and descended the Awaroa. At a sharp bend in the narrow stream, his largest canoe could not be turned, and he was compelled to make a passage for her, by cutting a short canal, which may yet be seen.
At length he arrived at Matakitaki, a pa situated about the site of the present township of Alexandra, where a number of Waikato natives had taken refuge. The pa was assaulted, and while Hongi was in the act of carrying it on one side, a frightful catastrophe was securing to him the corpses of its wretched occupants on the other. Panic-stricken at the approach of the victorious Ngapuhi, the multitude within, of men, women, and children, rushed madly over the opposite rampart. The first fugitives, unable to scale the counterscarp, by reason of its height, and of the numbers which poured down on them, succumbed and fell; those who had crushed them were crushed in like manner; layer upon layer of suffocating humanity succeeded each other. In vain did the unhappy beings, as they reached the parapet, attempt to pause—death was in front, and death behind—fresh fugitives pushed on; they had no option, but were precipitated into, and became part of the dying mass. When the deed was complete, the Ngapuhi came quickly up, and shot such as were at the surface and likely to escape.
Never had cannibals gloated over such unexpected good fortune, for more than 1,000 victims lay dead in the trench, and the magnitude of the feast which followed may, perhaps, be imagined from the fact that, after the lapse of forty-two years, when the 2nd Regiment of Waikato Militia, in establishing their new settlement, cleared the fern from the ground, the vestiges of many hundred native ovens were discovered, some of them long enough to have admitted a body entire; while numberless human bones lay scattered around. From several of the larger bones, pieces appeared to have been carefully cut, for the purpose, doubtless, of making fish-hooks, and such other small articles as the Maoris were accustomed to carve from the bones of their enemies.”
Nor was Te Waharoa idle during all this time. Having, by his courage, activity, and address, acquired the leadership of his own people, he had long determined to extend the boundaries of their territory by conquering that of the Ngatimaru; but, before commencing his sanguinary wars against that tribe, he had felt it necessary to form offensive and defensive alliances with the page 23 Ngatimaniapoto and to check Te Wherowhero and the Waikatos, by whom he had been threatened, but into whom he succeeded in inspiring a wholesome dread of his strength, whilst he also repelled, with heavy loss, the incursions of the Ngapuhi, which were directed indiscriminately against all the tribes south of the Auckland Isthmus. He succeeded, moreover, in causing Te Rauparaha, as pugnacious and skilful a warrior as himself, to leave Kawia with his people. He then pressed his alliance upon the Ngaiterangi, who occupied Tauranga and the surrounding country, an alliance, which, by the way, proved very disastrous to them, whilst it greatly aided his own projects. Having done all this he commenced his more regular operations against the Ngatimaru, who were then established in great strength at Hauwhenua, where they had been joined by the refugees from Mauinena and Makoia. He had naturally viewed the establishment of this stronghold with the utmost jealousy, and it had no little effect in hastening the commencement of hostilities between the two parties. Feeling that his own warriors were not sufficiently numerous to attack the hostile pa, he summoned some of his Waikato and Ngatimaniapoto allies to Maungatautari, who, only too ready, at once joined him to the number of 200 warriors. His own force comprised some 700 Ngatihaua and Ngaiterangi.
In the meantime, the Ngatimaru had spared no pains to strengthen their important stronghold, their garrison having, moreover, been increased by numbers of Ngatitematera and Ngatipaoa. The pa thus became a very large one, and densely peopled, not only with warriors, but with women, children, and slaves. Their numbers appear to have inspired them with much self-confidence, for when it became known that Te Waharoa had arrived at Maungatautari, with a taua 900 strong, they boldly determined to meet him in the open field. Perhaps they wished to decide the matter before he could receive further reinforcements; or perhaps they desired to avoid the mortification of seeing the enemy sit comfortably down before their pa, and regale himself on their cultivations. At any rate, they marched forth and took post on the hill, Te Tihi o te Ihimarangi—the place where the descendants of Waharoa's warriors opposed General Cameron in 1864; and, when the enemy was seen to approach, they rushed down and joined battle with him on the plain to the eastward. The contest was a severe one, but resulted in the complete defeat of the Thames natives. They were driven back over Te Tihi o te Ihimarangi, and down its reverse slope, and were pursued, with great slaughter, over the long narrow bushy plain that extends to Hauwhenua. At the end of a long and sanguinary day, the dejected men within the pa sat dreading the morrow's light, whilst Te Waharoa calmly considered his own and his enemy's positions. After resolving the matter for some time, he sent a herald to proclaim to the occupants of the pa “that during the next four page 24 days anyone might retire unmolested from the pa, but on the fifth day Hauwhenua, with all it contained, would be taken and destroyed.” No answer was returned, but during the interval a multitude of all ages and sexes issued forth from the pa, and marched in close order along the road by Matamata to the Thames. That night Te Waharoa's ranks were recruited by many slaves, who deserted, under cover of darkness, from the retreating Ngatimarus, and on the following day the pa was assaulted and taken. The fall of Hauwhenua, which occurred about 1831, terminated the residence of the Ngatimaru on the Waikato; and was followed by operations, from a Waikato basis, which were successfully conducted against them, on the line of the Piako.
Whilst the earlier of these events were proceeding, the Ngatimaru chief, Takurua, maintained his position at Matamata; but about that time he appears, after much fighting, to have judged it advisable to accept terms of peace proposed by Te Waharoa. They were to bury the past in oblivion, and both parties were to live at Matamata, where, it was said, there was room for all. These terms were practically ratified by Te Waharoa and Takurua living side by side, in the utmost apparent friendship, for a period of about two years. Waharoa then, however, committed an act of perfidy, condemned even by the opaquely-minded savages of that day, by which he obtained sole possession of Matamata, and so turned the balance of power in his own favour, as greatly to aid him in his ultimate designs. One afternoon he left Matamata on pretence of a necessary journey to Tauranga— a circumstance rather calculated to lull suspicion than otherwise—and during his absence, his tribe at midnight rose, and massacred, in cold blood, the too confiding Takurua, and nearly every man of his tribe. Their bodies were devoured, and their wives and property were shared by the ruthless Ngatihauas.
This Maori St. Bartholomew's day occurred about 1827, and so weakened Ngatimaru, that Te Waharoa was enabled, after the fall of Hauwhenua, to push his conquests to the foot of the Aroha, and it is difficult to say where they would have ceased, had not his attention been unexpectedly diverted by the casual murder of his cousin Hunga, at Rotorua, in the latter end of the year 1835.”
I make no apology for citing these instances of atrocity, which exhibit, in the strongest light, the dreadful character of the wars carried on by the great chieftains in the North, during the twenty years succeeding Hongi's return from Europe. Indeed, this period has been well characterized by Mr. Colenso “as a fearful period in New Zealand.” “The Ngapuhi,” he says, “being well armed with muskets, revelled in destruction, slaying thousands. At Kaipara, Manukau, Tamaki, the Thames, the interior of Waikato on to Rotorua, and even to Taranaki; and they also came in their canoes as far South as Ahuriri or Hawke's Bay, remorselessly destroying everywhere as they went. The tribes further North were also fighting against each other—the Rarawa destroying the Aopuri, who were very numerous about the North Cape. Te Wherowhero, at the head of his people, was slaughtering, for many years, on the West Coast, from Taranaki to Wanganui; Te Waharoa, and other chiefs, in the interior and overland to Hawke's Bay; the Rotorua tribes in the Bay of Plenty; and Te Rauparaha exterminating in the neighbourhood of Cook Straits and along the East Coast of the Middle Island. From 1822 to 1837 was truly a fearful period in New Zealand. Blood flowed like water, and there can be no doubt that the numbers killed during this period of twenty years, including those who perished in consequence of the wars, far exceeded 60,000 persons.”
The preliminary sketch contained in the foregoing chapters, though brief, will, I hope, convey to my readers a sufficiently clear idea of the manners and customs, and character of the New Zealanders, and of the condition of the tribes previously to the systematic colonization of the Islands, and will, be found to aid them materially in understanding the events which will be detailed in the following pages. It shows, moreover, the frightful results brought about by placing the deadly weapons of European warfare, in the hands of a savage and warlike race, whilst still uncontrolled by those milder influences, to which, notwithstanding their ferocity, the New Zealanders have shown themselves so singularly open and amenable.