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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872


page 44

The really last consecutive account of my journeys embraced the time up to our journey from Wellington to Auckland, in company with Mr & Mrs Vogel, Col. Feilding, and some others in the “Luna”, a Govt. Steamer, formerly a Blockade runner. She is not an admirable boat though built of steel. Her captain is a character, a good sailor and good at finding places of safety in gales of wind, which are so frequent and so terrible, that in sailing thus far it as scareclyseldom been my lot to keep out of them. It is then, on Thursday the 28th of December we again sight the beautiful Mount Egmont some 60 to 80 miles away, its snow-capped peak shewing high above the morning clouds. A second view as on this occasion seemed more impressive than before. It is a monument of glory. We seemed never to get nearer, - and afterwards when passing it seemed as slowly to die away. I have seen this once again from Cook’s Straits when sailing South. It stands in Maori Country, and can be ascended in 3 days. The “Luna” gave us an awful tossing. Next day we saw some fine sperm Whales came close to us throwing up their shoots of Water - we had also myriads of fish and the accompanying birds. No great fisheries exist here, and what fish is preserved is so dreadfully salt, that it is page 45 scarcely edible. I fancy if it were preserved in oil like Sardines it would be better, as most of the fish is so dry – the best is the flounder. We pass Raglan which place I visited afterwards – how glad we were to get into a little shelter. Soon Manakau is seem with its terrible serf bar. No pilots can work here. Signal apparatus is fixed on the cliff to direct vessels as to their course, right or left. Here H.M.S. “Orpheus” was lost with all hands. The Captain had a old chart which he insisted on following; - a prisoner on board seeing where the Ship was going remonstrated, saying all would be lost. The Ship was held on the same course, every one perished in the end, and the Ship broken up.

Manakau Harbour is a wild place to enter and to leave. It has usually 12 ft at low water in the channel, and 22 ft to 24 ft at high water inside. The Inside the harbour is pretty and is clothed with timber, the waters are extensive, and the Kauri pipe shews itself in its majestic size and height. We get to the Wharf, but the ropes break once and again. We all get angry; - Capt. Fairchild seems calm, but his New Zealand ropes, about which he had been boasting, are not good – they don’t stand a knot or a sharp turn – and this took a good hour of patience. Vogel had arranged a Coach: and [unclear: took] a Cobbs Coach holding 60 people; - this with 4 horses took us in style to Auckland. The road is lined with good villas, and there is a large traffic on it. A tramway is thought of for the accommodation of the numerous passengers.

The Harbour of Auckland looks very pretty from Mount Eden, an extinct Volcano, looking on to the other page 46 craters across the Harbour, called Rangatora. We go to the Club this time and dine; - and afterwards when talking taking a walk listen to the sounds of music of a fine type, which proceed from a Church close by. The Music Hall had been recently burnt down, and the Christmas Music had to be rehearsed in Church. Such good Music at the Antipodes we certainly had not expected. We heard it again on Sunday, and I got a part copied by the Organist.

The Domain at Auckland is worth a visit, as rare trees are here planted and preserved. An attempt has been made to acclimatise the Rook, Blackbird, Thrush, Sparrow and several other bird. Master Cock-sparrow does well and is as impudent a chirper as ever. The Rooks too, pop out of the Manuka Shrub to feed out of your hand. The English wild Duck is tame. The insect life is something terrible, and the fruit is often wholly destroyed in this way; – hence the desire to get birds which are insectivorous. The City of Auckland is not much, yet busy from the proximity of the Thames and Coromandel Gold Fields. The Merchants are principally supplied from Melbourne, and it seems as if a want of enterprise existed, else they would surely obtain supplies from England direct. We visit the Water-Works, where from whence is supplied simple filthy ditch Water! The City is badly drained, and only the winds of Heaven occasionally fierce indeed, save it from epidemic. The Harbour is beautiful, and the views, in driving about on a clear day, are charming. Here lies the “Southern Crop” 250 tons, the yacht of the late Bishop Patterson – daily reminding us of his sad end.

My New Year’s Day was spent in walking over the page 47 Auckland and Waikato Railway. Several days of this sort of thing keep me busy; - a short portion of this line has been made at an extravagant cost. On the 9th of January we started these Works on a principle that we should be paid 10% on all outlay, - but we have only 2 ½ miles granted on this plan. Mr Vogel left us to go to Sydney about Mail arrangements, together with Mr Webb of New York, the owner of the San Franciscan Mail Line.

I pass over the working part of the period to that which may be unrecorded in business letters, and more interesting to general readers of our family. To go on to the 10th of January when we took a special Steamer, “Coomrang” PS., with the Minister of Public Works Mr Ormond, - the Superintendent of the Province Mr Gillies – and the Engineers, Dunny, and Mr Llewellyn – sailing from Auckland to the Bay of Islands. The distance is about 120 miles north of Auckland. The ship drew 5 feet of water, and the sea was rough as usual. We passed Sir George Greg’s island; - and as we coasted along, the view of the hills and the inlets with the dotted islands outside, gave it the appearance of lake scenery. There are the great and little Baria Islands which are the first land sighted on our right, and the high main land on our left. We pass thro’ openings between the ro cks of some 300 feet and 1000 feet high. Passing Cape Brett, and rounding White Island, so called from the Guano bleached on its peak we get into smooth water and enter the Bay of Islands, arriving at Russel at 4 o’clock. Russel was the first British flag English Settlement in New Zealand and where the first British flag was hoisted, and is now a Whaling Station, with a splendid natural harbour. page 48 Russel was the scene of some terrible fightings with the Maoris and of great losses by our people, some 26 years ago. When the natives saw the Flag, they considered it as an insult, and burned the Town and killed a lot of our White people. The troops made a pah, like the Maoris, throwing up earth works and rifle pits; - and cutting trenches for escape. Many of the old settlers attribute the early outbreak and dissatisfaction to the action of the Missionaries. Here Heke, a turbulent Native Warrior was then in the zenith of his power, and among the few Europeans were some who led Heke to believe that the flag-staff of the pakeha was a symbol of the slavery of the Maori. Heke, attended by a horde of armed young Maoris, with whose actions the older chiefs did not concern after plundering some of the white people, ascended the signal hill, and then after devoutly praying cut down the flag-staff - which was really a declaration of war. On the 11th of March 1845, our forces were defeated, and the town was sacked and burned, only a few buildings and the churches being allowed to stand, - while the remains of the garrison and the women and children of the settlement were conveyed away to Auckland.

I need not again refer to our visit to the Coal Mines nor our trip to the Waikato Heads - and will pass on to Friday the 19th Jan when 3 of us after breakfast started on horseback over-land to Raglan. We had only gone part of the way, when we had to engage a Maori Guide, who took us up steep spurs, across apparently trackless valleys, thro tee-tree scrub, flax bush and fern, under a boiling hot sun until evening when we arrived at a Pah, but found it deserted. Disappointed we remounted our tired jades and struck off more into the page 49 interior. At last about 8 o’clock we saw some smoke issuing from a Whare, and after riding a considerably distance were greeted with “Tinacque”. A Maori Woman came forward, and soon we had the fire burning, the pot cleaned, some potatoes cooking and our bacon broiling; - but on sitting down to eat, it was a contest between pigs and dogs, and a question if anything would be left for us to eat. The pigs made a raid on the boiled potatoes, and we could not drive them off – verily we ate from the same dish. The good nature of the woman was beyond all praise; - and we received a real hearty welcome, with an offer of their best accommodation for the night on a fern bed in the whare which was about 10 ft by 6, and 4 feet to the eaves. A huge wood fire was burning, and the members of their family who were to occupy the room with four of us, were a sick old chief, 2 women, 2 boys, and another Chief with a distressing Cough – to say nothing of fleas, sand flies and mosquitoes! We preferred declined the generous offer preferring a tent to ourselves; and as we did not wish the company of the pigs, requested they should be tied up, which was accordingly done with flax leaves attached to their hind [gap — reason: unclear] legs. Sleep was however out of the question – the squeaking of the pigs on getting their legs entangled, the vain attempts of the Chief with the Cough to quell their disturbance; the sharp attacks of the fleas, the barking of the dogs as a wild pig came in sight, and the rousing of the whole family and for the chase banished all hope of repose, and about 2 o’clock thoroughly wearied, with a violent head-ache; just falling to sleep with open mouth a spider dropping down, completed broke the spell, and set me walking about the rest of the time. page 50 Next morning we had a hard breakfast, - bacon, potatoes, and biscuit with a fight for it. The Maoris liked our sugar. We then rode to see the coal on the beach, a Maori guide, conducting us who was naked with the exception of a mat round his loins, conducting us. When he reached the sea Shore he rushed round made a great circuit, and pointing to a large tree stump which was embedded in the sand, said it was “Taipo” (the Devil or bad Spirit), who had already killed 4 Maoris, and if he or we were to go near him we should be killed also. We walked right up to it amidst the gravest admonitions and most animated dancing protests; - and when we struck it with our hatchets, the poor fellow became almost frantic, and rushing among us, endeavored to pull us away. We reached Raglan the same evening, passing over some very fair land at last. Raglan Harbour is very pretty. We took a Canoe across with a Maori to help our horses swimming across.

On the following day we had a long Journey to Nagurawaia in the Upper Waikato. We started from Raglan to 9.30 and arrived at 7.30. The Country was all fern until we got to the ranges at Pirongia, from whence we had a beautiful view over the valley of the Waikato. The bush was very fine thro’ which our path lay, but the road was simply a horse-track. We swam our horses across the Wata Wata in which some Maori women were bathing – They dived and plunged and laughed at us, but at last got out of the water and into their clothes in a most modest and clever manner. We gave them some “tabac” and some “mats” (matches) and so won their hearts. On riding down the valley, the scenes of war were described. page 51 and places pointed out where the Maories escaped thro’ a swamp, without our men under General Cameron finding it out. Before leaving next day, I had a bathe and went over the Co-operative Flax Mill worked by the Maoris, left in Special Steamer for Mercer at 10 and arrive through to Auckland, arriving at 8 o’clock.