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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

22 February 1872

22 February 1872

Next morning Feb 22, we waited a long time for our horses, but none came, so we got a Maori boy who had just arrived, to bring them, which he did after a loss to us of much time and temper. But no guide came with him. We then packed up and started off to the station where our horses had been staying and looked about for the missing attendant. We cooeyed, but received no answer. At last a sign of life was visible in the apparently empty whare. A shutter being thrust aside, shewed a Maori women in a state of violent perspiration, who spoke to me in good English. I held a conversation with her, but she had not seen our guide and could give no account of him. She was from the Bay of Islands, had been educated by the Missionaries, but had left Christianity and taken up the Hauhau faith. I asked why she had shut herself up in the dark, along and in such a deplorable state. She merely said, “The Maori likes it” – Thus it is always. page 73 Ignorant of the laws of health they expose themselves to innumerable perils, - sitting in close confined dwellings and over-heated rooms, they come out in the cold, and finally end their days in a galloping consumption!

We were greatly annoyed about our guide absenting himself; - it rained and our tempers grew worse. About one o’Clock our “Beauty and his beast” came into view. Llewellyn was the first to break out, and the guide’s reply was, “Well pay me off and I will go”, - but as some of our party were on his horses, and, seeing also that we could scarcely get on without a guide, to his remark, “You want me to be valet, Groom, Donkey, Driver, Interpreter and Guide all in one”, I was obliged to remind him that “we could dismiss him or he could leave, that we had to pay him some time, but not then, - and that we should proceed with the horses, and if he chose, he might go, - but any extra expense would be deducted from his account, as he had agreed to take us to Taupo Lake”. So we started, and by and bye he cheered up. We rode along a track cut by the Armed Constabulary alongside Lake Rotoiti, and came to Captain Mair’s place Ohimimuri, the Barracks of the force in search of Te Kooti, - the celebrated murderer of the Rev. Mr Volckner. We had Lunch in his Whare, administered in his absence by his “French Cook” who was indeed a character. Captain Mair is most highly spoken of and keeps his native soldiers in good order. The Whares of these men are within a stockade and all is kept clean, I have a Photograph of the place in my collection page 74 Opposite is an island, to which the Maories retreated in case of fighting, and we were informed the remains of a Pah were there to be seen. When we started again, our route was through a narrow valley with a little grass in it and we then gradually ascended to a considerable height, shewing an extensive range of mountains stretching away as far as we could see. They were precipitous and the valley at their foot had some fair land, if cultivated, but as there is no approach except thro’ such a wilderness as we had traversed, it must wait. On the other side of this mountain range live and roam thro’ dense bush, the discontented Maoris with Te Kooti as their leader. He is certainly a wonderful fellow, and reminds one of the stories of old stag of the glen, whose life was charmed against everything but a silver bullet. For years, large forces have been employed to hunt him and his followers down; - he has been surprised and beaten over and over again, has been repeatedly shot at and wounded; - but with indomitable courage and perseverance has kept the field and eluded the whole of his enemies. It would be certain death to any white man who fell into his hands, and most likely he would be made a feast of. The way thro’ the valley has been crossed over and again by Te Kooti. We rode on until nightfall under this range called the “Piroa” range. Then we selected the neighbourhood of a hot spring for camping, and put up our tent, collected fern for bedding inside the tent, tethered our horses, lighted our fire, and having boiled the kettle and as we sat down to our chocolate, page 75 and as we sat round ourthe fire the question was put, “What should we do if Te Kooti came attracted by our fire?” Several brilliant ideas were propounded, after discussing which we gave ourselves up to sleep and mosquitoes.