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Sir Donald Maclean

Chapter IX — A Schooner Voyage and a Highland Interlude

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Chapter IX
A Schooner Voyage and a Highland Interlude

On occasions Mr. Maclean travelled along the North Island coast in small vessels. Sometimes by good fortune, he was invited to voyage to and from Wellington and Auckland and New Plymouth in a British warship, as an officer of the Government; but that comparatively luxurious cruise was rare. More often it was a small trading craft of fifty tons or less. This is a diary entry about a run from New Plymouth to Wellington in a little schooner:

“Tuesday, 5 December 1848.—Sailed in the Carbon (schooner) for Wellington, being anxious to proceed there with the utmost expedition. Did not think it so advisable to take the land journey. I leave Taranaki with a feeling of some regret, from a fear, however unfounded, that disturbances with the natives may be more apt to arise in my absence. It is a great satisfaction to me to have exerted myself indefatigably in settling the land question and all differences and questions that I could bring to an issue before I left New Plymouth.

“Blowing very hard. Vessel carrying too much sail. I had the captain take in the square-sail.

“Wednesday, 6 December.—A strong breeze from the west and south-west. Made Stephens Island at 12 meridian, and anchored in Queen Charlotte Sound, at a small well-sheltered bay, where there is a native village, about 7 p.m. Just twenty-four hours from Taranaki, which is considered an excellent run. Landed the little boat for news.

“Thursday, 7 December.–Left the Sound about 9 a.m. Light breeze. All sail set. At Wellington Heads a gale and squally weather. Single-reefed. Sailed hard, beating up the harbour. Anchored about 9 at night and went ashore at Barrett's Hotel.

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“Friday, 8 December.—Called at Government House and met the Governor-in-chief, Sir George Grey. He and Judge Chapman [the father of the late judge, Sir Frederick Chapman] working in the garden. Reported a hundred Maoris at work for the settlers clearing bush, and all quiet.”

The next item in the diary describes the Christmas festivity when Maclean foregathered gladly with some of his fellow countrymen:

“Monday, 25 December 1848.—Engaged with Highland Sports. Breakfasted at Kaiwarra, Mr. McDonald's, and came from there with Lieut.-Governor Eyre, Mr. A. M. McDonald, and the several Highlanders about that place, with bagpipes. Played to show our feat. A thirsty game! Found Bethune waiting for us with his tent pitched, and refreshments in it. The Governor-in-Chief came to see us before the games. We gave three good hearty cheers, and displayed the utmost loyalty to our Majesty's representative. Throughout, the games were conducted with the greatest good humour, and displayed no strife nor enmity, but all in perfect unison played their parts with animation and cheerfulness; the bagpipes playing at the end of each game; the contending players distinguished by white and pink ribbon. The play of throwing the hammer, wrestling, and other athletic games, being over, the party marched off with Gordon to his house, bagpipes playing a march. This being over, they laid violent hands on me, marching me on their shoulders to Barrett's Hotel, pipes playing on the left, where they also carried Bethune and Adams. At Barrett's I gave them some whisky. A few words of encouragement take effect:

“‘Scotchmen and Highlanders—it is to me a sincere pleasure to meet so many people of the same land, the same descent and origin, met together to call to remembrance the sports of our parent land, and not forget them. Do not forget your country and your loyalty. Highlanders, your meeting together shows the energetic spirit that animates you; and whatever you zealously undertake, ye Highlanders, you will do it!'

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“In the evening went to Mr. Strang's. Met the Governor-in-Chief on my way. Told him how the day had passed. He laughed rather at my being carried, and remarked,–‘They owe you that for settling the Land question at Wanganui.’ I replied, ‘No, Sir, they are not immediately interested in that, but they do it from my old Highland connection.’”