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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

Taranaki Coast and Whanganui, Upper Whanganui, and Taupo

Taranaki Coast and Whanganui, Upper Whanganui, and Taupo.

The country occupied by these tribes towards Whanganui is rich and fertile, producing most luxuriant grasses, intersected with rivers and beautiful lagoons, well suited for agriculture; or, if occupied by stock proprietors, would prove beneficial to them as well as to the Natives, by creating a desire amongst the latter to become owners of sheep and cattle, which will be in all probability the first property to confer a real benefit upon them. Nothing further of particular importance presented itself on my journey until I arrived at Whanganui, where I could perceive a very great improvement in the Natives within the last year, which is shown in some of their dwellings being built in imitation of the European style, and in an anxiety to be possessors of sheep and cattle, as well as fruit trees and seeds, which latter they receive from the Mission gardens and the settlers, who are mostly a respectable class of people, and interest themselves in their behalf. To the exertions of the Rev. Richard Taylor I should principally attribute the progress they are making, and the influence he has over the tribes of his district proves of the greatest benefit to the settlement generally.

Having remained some days at the Mission-station, and visited the Native villages in the vicinity, Mr. Taylor and I pursued our inland journey on the 5th of November by the Whanganui River, a distance of forty miles, on leaving which we travelled for three days across a forest country, with patches of available land, and occasionally some fine timber of the rimu and tawai. We next entered an open country, resembling much the plains of Bathurst, New South Wales. The soil is of a dark, sandy loam, covered with coarse grass (termed by the Natives poaka), which improves, towards Tongariro. We encamped at night on the banks of the Waitakaruru River, which flows through this extensive plain. In ascending towards the Taupo mountains, which were partially covered with snow we experienced a sudden change of climate and aspect, our path leading over volcanic ashes and lava, until our approach to Rotoaire, the first of the Taupo lakes, being the only settlement since we left the Whanganui River. Here the country again assumes a fertile appearance. The settlement is situated at the southern extremity of the lake from whence the Waikato River takes its source. We were much pleased with the chief personage of this place (mother-in-law to Heuheu), who had a dignified and graceful appearance. She received us kindly, and pressed our staying the night, not to pass without receiving some marks of her hospitality, which we gladly accepted, remaining there till the following day, and at night reached the settlement of Herekiekie, a young chief of Taupo, who has been long meditating an attack upon Waitotara, to revenge the death of his father Tauteka, who was killed there. We had reason to suspect he still intended carrying his design into execution whenever an opportunity offered, though professing friendship, and diverting our attention to the various objects worthy of notice in his neighbourhood, one of which in particular, a spring of boiling water, excited our curiosity, which, at intervals of one or two minutes, gushed upwards with a foaming rage similar to the bursting of a whirlpool, accompanied by a simultaneous rumbling, as if the earth was about to open and swallow up the unwary spectator.