Incidents of The Maori War
The Curragh Camp—Second Battalion of the 14th Regiment ordered to New Zealand—How this was taken—March to Cork—The 'Robert Lowe' Troop-ship—Hurry at embarking—Improvement in Troop-ships—Gymnastics—A Fire Parade—The 'Nautilus,' a weekly paper—Births and Deaths—Proper division of time on board—Sunsets—Story of an old Salt—Sea Birds—A Gale of Wind—Dante's allusion to the Southern Cross—Antarctic cold—Gough's Island—Dangerous position of the ' Indian Queen'—Bulling a cask—Colds and Cramps—Icebergs—Escape of five sailors—American Sealers—St. Paul's Island—The Big Wave Night—Ice on the Water—Pass Tasmania—Approach New Zealand—Sketch of the West coast—Arrive at Auckland—Excursions.
At the Curragh Camp, Ireland, in the summer of 1860, when 10,000 strong men, the flower of Britain's soldiers, were assembled page 2for their training on that extensive green plateau, as artillery, cavalry and infantry, I was called to the front, after a divisional fieldday, by General Sir George Brown, G C.B., commanding the forces, and was told to recall detachments and prepare for going abroad. A staff officer, the deputy-adjutant-general, afterwards rode up to me and said it was to New Zealand.
On our march back to the huts, the band playing a fine German air which we have since called " The New Zealand March," I halted the young battalion, the second of the 14th Regiment, and communicated the intelligence of our destination, namely to " the ends of the earth," over the wide ocean 16,000 miles from home; but I said I was sure they would like the adventure, they were young and no doubt anxious to see the world and to gain experience of the sea; in the transports their comfort would be attended to. New Zealand was one of the finest of British Colonies, as respects climate better than home, and not much fear of sickness there. Service abroad was now being shortened, and before many page 3years they had the prospect of seeing their friends again; but above all I took it as a compliment to the regiment, that it was the first of the new battalions selected to proceed to where fighting was going on, a Maori War. We would no doubt have a share of it, and I believed we would give a good account of ourselves in the service of the Queen and country.
The men seemed greatly pleased with the idea of going abroad " on station" as they called it, and none deserted, and some hundreds from other corps wanted to go with us. We had not been much more than two years raised, and I did not expect to have been sent so far (having pretty well trodden the earth before in many climes). I imagined that a Channel island might have been our destination after the Curragh; but it was otherwise ordered, and like an old oriental I took it as my fate, considering that the soldier's motto should be "ubi bene, ibi patria."
I had always longed to see New Zealand, remembering the grand appearance presented page 4by a picture of the mountains about Port Nicholson in the rooms of the Royal Geographical Society. It was a land of promise, of most picturesque scenery, interesting for its active volcanoes, its snowy peaks, its vast forests, its splendid harbours, its numerous rivers, its fertile soil, its fine specimens of humanity the warrior Maories.
We had not much time given to prepare for the long voyage to the Antipodes, and we did not want much; light marching order, and no furniture was the word. A short visit to our native Scotland, was followed by a march to Cork. Leaving the huts for the station with four bands complimenting us, we had music " galore."
I took as the head-quarters of the regiment, the left wing with Major Douglas, also the band. Major Dwyer taking charge of his own wing, the right, in the " Boanerges" sailing ship, followed by another ship the " Savilla," in which Captain Vivian commanded 100 men.
Our vessel was the " Robert Lowe," of 1500 tons, and with an auxiliary screw of 360 horse power, Captain Congalton com-page 5mander. She was a handsome iron ship of fine lines for sailing, tall masts carrying a great spread of canvass, and well provided for the accommodation of the twenty-four officers, the ladies, the five hundred soldiers, the seventy women and as many children, and the crew of fifty men who embarked in her.
The officials who embarked us, were probably desirous that our baggage should be well stowed between decks, which was quite right for the sake of the due ventilation of the ship; but instead of our proceeding to sea deliberately as we ought to have done, sea kits and hammocks regularly issued and marked, we were hurried off in twenty-four hours before these necessary operations could be accomplished; thirty-six or forty-eight hours after embarkation, before sailing, would have well settled every body and every thing, "festina lente," methodically hasten being the motto, and not " fire off your gun before you take aim." However an old soldier should preserve his presence of mind under all circumstances, do his duty, and as the Irish have it " keep on never minding."page 6
There is an improved system now for fitting out and provisioning troop-ships. The " Henry Ferine," lately arrived in New Zealand, is a specimen troop-ship as to room, ventilation, and provisions. We had no fresh meat for the men; but we had good salt meat and biscuit, peas, flour, tea, cocoa, and good water. The men slept in hammocks, with fixed tables and benches athwart ship for their meals, which were not taken on the deck as in some foreign troop-ships. The poor women and children were stowed away amidships below, dark and close; but there was no help for it, and Doctor Carte ventilated the berth as well as it would admit of; delicate and suitable food should not be forgotten for the children on long voyages, or they will soon suffer on mens' rations.
The women were sent on deck as often as the weather would admit of it, and their berths constantly kept as clean as possible.
There was the usual misery of sea sickness for the first three days, then with the band on deck and favouring breezes, the spirits and appetites revived, following which were march-page 7ing round the deck to music, games and gymnastic exercises. The latter should be daily practised ashore or afloat, for soldiers should be strong and supple for fighting and marching. At Mullingar and other places I had a gymnastic room lighted up of an evening, where the men could spar, wrestle and dance; it was attended with the best effects, very little crime, the stoutest and wildest fellows were there, as well as good men, engaged in friendly contests. At the Curragh Camp, we had a fencing master for the officers.
It is very important in troop-ships, as soon as the men have gained their sea legs, that there should be a fire parade, sending the greater number of the men below and distributing them to pass water buckets; on the upper deck, sentries to keep order, a party of soldiers to assist in working the pumps, the carpenter and his mates being in charge of the fire engine, and the men being told off to the boats, as many as they will accommodate, spars being supposed to make a raft for the remainder. There is little confusion or hurry on the occasion of a fire, as I proved once in page 8the Mediterranean, if due arrangements have been made before hand; there is less likelihood of a fatal rush to the boats if the men have confidence, by previous practice, for a fire.
We sped on our course (a south-westerly one) with sails, not requiring the screw. Madeira was seen one afternoon on our port quarter, massive, lofty, and partly cloudcovered, and though as yet there was no
"Life on the ocean wave,"
in the shape of fish, still ships in the first part of the voyage were not wanting to us daily. An illustrated weekly paper was commenced, called " The Nautilus," this is a great help to dispel ennui, during a voyage to remote regions, it may comprise much information with amusement, and give full employment for the pen and pencil.
As we approached the line, the delicate Portuguese man-of-war with its purple keel spread its thin film to the breeze, flying fish and dolphins also added to the interest of the voyage. Great fish like young whales gambolled in the ocean and stood away before us, page 9each fish in its lusty vigour " saltans, gaudens, liquidis undis."
A play was acted by the officers, and the men organized a corps of negro minstrels, and gave recitations; also in manly exercises, boxing gloves, foils and single sticks were freely used. At the Curragh, a considerable supply of second-hand books was" obtained from Dublin by contributions of the officers and the subscriptions of companies, the ever deeply to be lamented Lord Herbert of Lea, Secretary of State for War, on my applying to him, directed 100 volumes to be provided for each ship, of useful and interesting literature, neatly bound. Cards are prohibited in barracks, but I allowed a few packs on board ship on the shady side of the deck. In the cabin, rubbers at whist were the extent of the play. No commanding officer should allow round games, which are apt to become exceedingly dangerous.
We remembered also the Sabbath day, and endeavoured to "keep it holy;" prayers were read for both protestants and catholics, and a discourse delivered from " Plain words," which are well adapted for soldiers and sailors.page 10
About this time the heat and languor became great, but the latter was modified by an early plunge bath for which there was great demand; a shower bath of salt water between the Tropics is very invigorating, I remember its great value on a return from service in the East.
We had births and deaths on board; our school mistress, Mrs Vaughan, an attentive and zealous young woman, fell a victim to consumption, also a fine young soldier, and no less than nine children died; some were sickly before they came on board, with others the want of proper food possibly caused the poor things to succumb. When we crossed the line, Neptune did not appear on deck, in troop-ships his presence is considered dangerous, as he does not agree with soldiers, and he might have become jealous of their attentions to his Amphitrite, and who like a turkey might have been attracted by the red rag. Some ships were seen homeward bound, and a fine Spanish brig passed not far off.
Besides dividing the time properly, and usefully employing each portion of it, to get page 11rid of the tedium of a voyage, it is recommended to the admirers of the beauties of nature, and those whose fancy roams occasionally into cloud-land, to watch the sunsets between the tropics, they are often most gorgeous; thus a bright eye appears in a mass of grey clouds, and beneath distinct rays proceeding from the luminous centre meet the horizon. At another time, clouds at the verge of the saphire sea, with the sun setting behind them, appear like an island of gold in fairy land, whilst bars of orange, red and purple, are superimposed. Later, the queen of night sailing in the starry firmament (" a new heaven" to those who had not before visited the southern hemisphere) reminds one, on quiet nights, of the Scotch school-master, who when asked for a toast or sentiment, gave, as the most beautiful image he could conjure up, " The moon shining on the caum bosum of the lake!"
Sometime ago, during a steam-boat passage on the Lower Shannon, in the evening, the engineer of the craft was pointing out to the listening passengers, "for'ard the funnel," page 12the excellence of the boat and the smartness of the captain, who was " swelling it," in gold laced cap and anchor buttons. The engineer's discourse roused the ire of an old salt, who had been round the Horn. "Talk of your boat," he said, " she could not live five minutes 'round the Horn,' there the wind is so strong that we can't carry common sails, but have leather ones, canvass would be blown into ribbons like silk handkerchiefs, and as to your captain, the old bullock, if he had been there we would have skinned him, and made sails of his hide! To give you a notion of the wind ' round the Horn,' one night we sprung our main-top gallant yard, the carpenter went aloft to fish it, and the wind blew the teeth out of his saw!" " Yes," said the engineer, " and I suppose it took two men to hold his hat on," at this 'chaff' the old salt turned away in much disgust.
We had a taste of 'Horn weather' also, though not in the same degree as the old sailor described, neither were the buttons of our coat blown off. After various indications and prognostications, first appeared great page 13numbers of the sooty petrel, " the Cape hen " of the sailors, the speckled Cape pigeon, Mother Cary's chickens (the ominous stormy petrel), the great white Molly Mawke, and lastly the giant albatross, the largest web footed thing, as the stormy petrel is the smallest, sailed majestically across the troubled deep. Porpoises disported themselves playfully, the scud flew across the heavens, the breeze freshened and increased to a gale, that is, the wind may have attained a velocity of fifty miles an hour; the ship was reduced to close reefed topsails, some officers of Her Majesty's line tried to walk most uncomfortably, and assisted by life lines on the slope of the quarter-deck.
What sailors elegantly call Davy Jones' locker was nearly visited by a drummer, who was caught up by the fore sheet and swung over the side and for'ard life boat, but holding on was swung back again on board. Heavy seas were shipped and there were many wet jackets. Lee lurches, most destructive to glass and crockery, spilt soup, occasioning many a soupir for spoilt garments, and worst page 14of all sore bones from heavy falls, particularly on the 10th of October when there was a grand crash in the saloon, into which a sea poured through the sky-light, and a table and seat gave way to the great detriment of one of the party.
The Magellan clouds about the South Pole and the glorious Southern Cross were objects of great interest in the moonless nights; of this last the poet Dante strangely says (and in his time, the 13th century, the Cape of Storms had not been passed by Europeans, though the Phoenicians may have done so.)
"Io mi volsi a man destra eposi mente,
All altro polo, e vide quatro stelle
Non viste mai fuor ch alla prima gente
Goder pareva 'l ciel si lor fiammelle."
"To the right hand I turned and fix'd my mind
To the other pole attentive, when I saw
Four stars ne'er seen before save by the ken
Of our first parents. Heaven of those days seemed joyous."
By the middle of October, the cold weather of the great southern ocean had commenced, and as the thermometer fell the appetites rose, and, barometrically, remained at " set fair." page 15Reading on deck was now impossible at a temperature of 35°, and the birds which so perseveringly followed in our wake were respited by the fowlers and bird-catchers (with stick, string and button) and were now evidently whiter than those we saw of the same species a fortnight before. The air had an icy feel, and all were in lively movement on the quarter-deck.
Gough's Island was looked for and believed to have been seen on the evening of the 16th October; at daylight, the following morning, there was no doubt of its vicinity, as its summit of five distinct elevations and massive volcanic sides appeared in our port bow. Its highest point is 4,300 feet high, it is six miles long, four broad, and fifteen in circuit, is covered with grass and stunted trees; cascades descend from the cliffs into the sea, there is a landing place for boats on the north side where there is also fresh water, and
"Placed far amid the melancholy main"
Gough's Island is without an inhabitant and likely ever to be so, for its appearance is far page 16from inviting. Though the breeze was light we had no inducement to ask the captain to land to pic-nic there, as was done by the passengers in one of Somes' ships at Tristan d'Acunha, and whilst the captain was on shore " making merry" the ship took fire, her magazine blew up and carried out her stern, and thus were the unfortunate people bound for India put to the greatest inconvenience, and with a miserable prospect before them. Most providentially, a vessel touched at the island three days after the above catastrophe and carried them to Melbourne.
Whilst near Gough's Island the calm induced me to ask the captain to lower a couple of boats, and there was some excitement and wholesome exercise in pulling from the ship and round her; but the boats dropped astern, and the ship, sitting light on the water, crept away from us with the puffs of wind she got aloft; after a very tough pull and no indications of the ship's sails being backed, a signal of distress, a handkerchief on a boat hook, was obliged to be hoisted in the gig, which had the desired effect.page 17
We had another gale of wind with great seas dashing over us and small sails set, and went rolling and pitching uncomfortably over the deep.
Some captains of ships who are ambitious of quick runs, commit mistakes by getting too far south to get into veins of strong wind in these inhospitable antarctic seas; thus the Indian Queen" was nearly lost in 1859 in 60° south and 149° west, from Melbourne to England. At 2 a.m., 1st April, it being the captain's watch on deck, and the ship going ten knots with stun sails set, the passengers were awoke by a fearful shock, the noise of falling spars and a loud grinding against a hard substance. Hurrying on some clothes they came on the poop, and found themselves alongside of a large iceberg, the bow-sprit stove in and shattered, the upper masts carried away and with the sails hanging over the side, and tons of ice tumbling on the forecastle. The captain had deserted the ship and had lowered the life-boat (and with the chief officer, thirteen sailors and two passengers out of forty-one on board) was seen in it when page 18the ship was backed off the berg by means of the cross jack sail.
The people in the boat having lost their oars cried for help, when no help could be rendered them from the disabled ship, except to cast a life buoy and rope to one man, who swam to the vessel, he got half way up its side, when he fell back exhausted, and sank out of sight, The second officer, carpenter and four of the crew remained on board. To Thomas Howard, the carpenter, the greatest credit was given, after calling out " all right with the pumps and no leak sprung!" he encouraged all hands, who clearing away the wreck and with jury masts rigged, the hull was brought to Valparaiso. The captain's son was amongst the saved, seventeen were lost for want of presence of mind in their chief.
"Bulling a rum cask" may be a novelty to landsmen, it is thus performed, water is put into an empty barrel and it is rolled about, this was practised on board once or twice for'ard, and the effects were soon discovered among the red and blue jackets, but this spirited proceeding was soon stopped.page 19
On the whole, the men, for young soldiers, behaved very well on board, one thief (of comrades' necessaries) I was obliged to tie up; but averse as most commanding officers are to corporal punishment it cannot yet be altogether dispensed with, and one punishment a year of this kind, instead of a hundred when I first entered the service, seems to suffice. Soon, no doubt, it will be quite done away with.
"What sort of a morning is it John?" "In the first part of the night it snewed, sir, and in the morning it friz horrid." Conversation of an officer with his man John in Canada, and such might have been the reply to morning enquiries about the weather we had in the end of October, truly productive of chattering teeth, livid cheeks and blue noses. People are told to "look pleasant" when they are photographed, this was not the time for this operation, the thermometer at 30° with occasional snow showers, even hardy sailors took colds and cramps, and the captain was also laid up. He was a very skilful navigator, but one of those, I thought, who went too page 20far south for his strong winds, risking icebergs.
Great excitement was occasioned one forenoon by Dr. Carte calling out " ice!" and sure enough a large mass of ice, blueish white, twenty feet high and seventy or eighty long, a young iceberg or the "calf" of one, was descried on our port bow. We passed it within a few hundred yards, with the sea breaking occasionally high over it. An iceberg shews above water only a fourth of its real size, or even less, so that a rock in the ocean is not more dangerous than a nearly immoveable mass of ice, or one making way at the rate of a knot a day. Five men were some time ago "landed" on a field of ice to make a ship fast to it with warps; a breeze sprung up, the ship was borne away before it, twenty miles out of sight, the rising sea broke off the piece of ice on which the men stood, they had not much more than standing room on it, were all night clinging to it and trying to prevent sleep overpowering them. The second night they must have perished, when providentially the ship, in cruising about for them, descried page 21in the afternoon the black objects on the fragment of ice and rescued the poor perishing creatures, who had tasted all the bitterness of death.
We passed Prince Edward's Island, described by Cook in 1776 as high, fifteen leagues round, divided by a strait; then the Crozet group of islands, dreary and uninhabited like other islands of this great southern ocean. We are not aware of any natives like the Esquimaux of the North being found south of " the Horn," though sea fowl, and seals large and small as sea-elephants, lion and dog seals used to abound on the rocky shores of the antarctic land till the Americans began to destroy them wholesale.
American sealing ships are usually little old barks, or brigs with a mizen-mast set on the tafferil, though sometimes so small a craft as a forty ton sloop is seen on a sealing voyage, with eight-and-twenty hands on board from Boston, all shareholders, and bound for Kerguelen or the Island of Desolation of Cook. This we passed not far off, and towards it a tall masted Yankee seemed steering. No page 22vessel was ever so completely beaten as this was by the old " Robert Lowe;" Jonathan seemed to feel it, for he got sulky and not till after a long time did he shew his ensign, or as he calls it "the star spangled banner, the saucy American flag." We trust it will soon again wave over their broad possessions in peace. We have many esteemed friends in the great land of the West, and lament the terrible events now enacted there.
Some lectures were delivered to the officers and men on field fortification, attack and defence of posts, the ship's track, &c., which were rendered as interesting as circumstances would admit of; we had also a large magic lantern supplied by the War Office for lectures on natural history, astronomy, &c.
Of all the Southern islands (some of which the examiners for commissions never heard of) the most interesting was one to the north of us, St. Paul's, adjacent to the large Island of Amsterdam. St. Paul's ten miles by five is the summit of an extinct volcano in the ocean, though gleams of sulphurous fire are said to be still occasionally seen at night on some page 23parts of its rocky surface. The vast crater, two miles round, is on the south-east side, part of the lip has fallen in and the sea ebbs and flows into it between cliffs seven hundred feet high. The depth of the crater is 174 feet, the entrance is narrow and over a sort of causeway, which boats can cross.
Inside, on the sides of the cliffs, are seen some terraces with rude huts and gardens, these were formed by French Creoles of the Mauritius, who resort to St. Paul's to catch and dry fish, as rock cod, bonita, a sort of mackerel, and large craw-fish are also in plenty here; and the fishermen are delighted to exchange fish, also mustard and cress, cabbages, and a few potatoes for the narcotic weed.
There are natural salt pans in the rocks, filled by the dash of the sea, and the water being evaporated by the sun, leaves a plentiful supply of fine salt. A boiling spring at the entrance to the crater, of 212° of heat, enables fresh caught fish to be boiled in a similar way to that practised by the Scotch Lord Lovat, who, as a sort of cruel joke, had a cauldron boiling on the edge of a salmon leap, page 24so that when the fish missed their spring, they might fall back into the hot water and boil themselves!
Our weekly "Nautilus" was still kept up with unabating zeal; poetry, prose, facetiæ, and numerous illustrations being freely supplied and relished every Saturday forenoon. We give one acrostic:
Roiling on through trackless ocean,
Onward towards our port we steer,
Bounding on with easy motion,
Every day that port we near
Rocked to sleep on Neptune's breast,
Tars and soldiers soundly rest.
Long may raging billows spare thee!
O'er their bosom swift to sweep,
Winds be fair and quickly bear thee,
English transport through the deep.
The ship having been brought into what the captain called " a good vein of wind " in latitude 48° in the beginning of November, washed her sides well and dashed from them vast quantities of soap suds at the rate of ten, twelve, and fifteen knots an hour.
We had a big-wave night which astonished page 25some people, of course soldiers are never frightened. There was a gale, low canvass, rain, and it was pitchy dark, when a loud crash, like young thunder, a sudden collapse of the vessel and shrinking to leeward, for an instant it appeared to those in the saloon, that the ship had struck an iceberg, or some other vessel, or that some great internal injury had been sustained, till the water pouring through the sky-light, showed that a heavy sea had struck the ship and sent some tons of water on board, and some hand-spikes and gratings were carried overboard.
Some time ago two Americans went to a house of entertainment and ordered in champagne and ice, whilst seated comfortably before their " fixings," a backwoodsman or "hoosier" came in, and sitting down opposite, helped himself without invitation to the wine. " That's cool!" said one gentleman to the other. " Yes," said the Hoosier, " there is ice in it!" When we were away south about Kerguelen island, it was cool, and there seemed to be plenty of ice in the water there, and those who jumped into the early bath page 26quickly jumped out again, chattering; but immediately the water became warmer without much change in our latitude, the iron ship felt it, and all hands were more comfortable.
The excitement in the middle of November was lotteries, the hour that the anchor would be dropped at Auckland, the hour the first sail would be seen from the deck. Curious specimens of sea-weed passed us, but it was difficult to secure any of these floating algæ without stopping the ship. Microscopes were all ready to examine the marine curiosities usually attached to sea-weed in the distant paths of ocean.
On the 17th November we were south of tho flourishing island of Tasmania, which presents its bold and rugged promontories to the ocean, abounds in diversified scenery, mountain and plain, " wooded hill and smiling valley," is well watered, has a fine healthy climate and is nearly as large as Ireland. If regiments in future were not left during the whole term of their service at one of the southern colonies, it might be better; thus four page 27years at Tasmania or New Zealand, three in Victoria, and three in New South Wales, would tell better for discipline than the whole of the foreign service in the Australian colonies at one station. It is not desirable for officers or soldiers to become too much localised, until they actually retire from the service. Also, there should always be detachment messes, and not officers living apart from each other, a fatal error, and leading to the worst consequences.
"Come gentle spring! ethereal mildness come!
And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,
While music wakes around veiled in a shower
Of shadowy roses on the plains descend."
Thus sang the poet of the Seasons, and thus we felt the kindly influence of the beauteous time of the year, the May of the South in the end of November, as we approached the southern Britain, New Zealand, resembling our island home too, having a cloud-land over it, long banks of neutral, tinted and fleecy clouds resting on the eastern sky, over which at night a charming moon shone bright.page 28
Under all the circumstances of our case, it was not difficult to make up one's mind to a sojourn for a long or a short period in the youngest and, by many considered, the finest colony of our empire. We first approached the S.W. portion of the Middle Island, which presents to the Southern Ocean a giant barrier of stupendous mountains (Mount Cook the highest, 14,000 feet above the sea) and frowning cliffs; between and among these are numerous deep inlets, affording shelter from the wind but without anchorage generally, the swell thrown into these deep sounds with their beetling crags, after a westerly gale, must be awfully grand as it breaks high and roars against the adamantine coast.
Vast and unexplored forests are to the east of the southern Alps, and where_still roam the remains of scattered tribes in all their native wildness, clothed in mats, and carrying the clubs and spears of their ancestors. Also it is believed by a recent explorer of the southern part of the province of Otago, there is to be found alive there the great elephant bird, the Dinornis, or Moa, of which only fossil bones page 29(giving to it a height of from ten to twelve feet) have reached England. This surveyor, Mr. Turnbull Thompson, found bones of Moas not thirty years old near an old Maori camp, and understood from an old native that he had eaten Moa meat in his youth.
"Light breezes and fine " obliged us to put the kettle on, and make steam; but we had not much occasion for our auxiliary during the voyage, though it is an excellent " stand by " in light winds.
Our accomplished band-master, Herr Louis Werner, had composed a fantasia dedicated to the officers of the 14th regiment: called "The Voyage to New Zealand;" it was descriptive of the route from the Curragh Camp to Cork, the embarkation, incidents during the voyage, including the storm and squalling infants, the arrival in port, and the finale. This fantasia was played as we sighted the North Cape, passed the Three Kings, and sailed down the east coast with its strange cliffs at Bream Head, the sail rock, like a schooner beating, Barrier island, &c., and on St. Andrew's day, after eighty-one days at sea, we safely anchored page 30in the noble harbour of Waitemata, opposite Auckland, the seat of Government.
There on its hilly site, divided by ravines and mostly composed of wooden houses, a church spire here and there, a showy Government house, barracks, and wooded domain in rear, and the whole backed by the massive extinct volcano—Mount Eden, the appearance of Auckland was imposing.
His Excellency Colonel Gore Brown, C.B., was Governor of New Zealand at this time. As senior officer I relieved Colonel Kenny, and became commandant of the troops in the province of Auckland; regulars, militia, volunteers, &c. The Maori war in the province of Taranaki being at its height, I had to receive and despatch men and matériel, and became also president of a tedious general-court-martial on a late brigade-major. I was thus prevented from going to the seat of war at once as I was anxious to do, though eventually I was able to accomplish my wishes.
From Auckland there are agreeable excursions to be made by boats, or on horseback. I visited with Lady Alexander every place of page 31interest within a reasonable distance.; extinct volcanoes were ascended for the sake of the prospects, Kauri forests penetrated, with their noble trees, rich undergrowth, parasitical plants and graceful tree ferns, and Nikau palms. The pensioner villages of Howick, Panmure, Otahuhu, and Onehunga were seen, and the Maori settlements about Mangeré, Oraki, &c. Our rides extended as far as the great Waikato river, where roads cease, and canoes and narrow paths form the means of communication into the heart of a beautiful region leading towards the Taupo Lake, the hot springs and the burning mountain Tongariro.