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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Landing at Boat Harbour

Landing at Boat Harbour.

The place of landing was evidently what is now called the boat-harbor, immediately on the south-east side of the mouth of the river, and separated from it by a narrow reef of rocks. From this place Cook and his companion walked about two hundred yards to a sandy point clear of the shelving rocks, as the most convenient point from which to cross over to the point formed by the junction of the Waikanae Creek with the river, where the natives were first seen, who ran away as the strangers approached them. The huts for which they were making when the attack was made upon the boat were probably not far from the north bank of the Waikanae, a short distance above the present signal-station. The four men who attacked the boat are said to have rushed out of the woods on the east side of the river. There are no woods in the neighborhood now, nor have there been any for the past fifty years; but woods are said by the natives to have existed formerly on the hill-side, within a short distance of high-water mark, which would form a convenient hiding place for the natives, whence they might observe the movements of the strangers without being seen themselves. The four men belonged to the Ngationeone hapu of the tribe called Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, and the name of the one who was shot was Te Maro.

On Monday morning, October 9, a party of natives was observed at the spot, at which they had been seen the previous evening, and Cook determined at once to try to open up friendly intercourse with them. Three boats were ordered, manned with seamen and marines, and with these he proceeded towards the shore. Cook, with three others, landed first from the small boat; but they had not advanced far towards the natives when the latter all started up and showed themselves to be well armed with spears and meres, manifesting at the same time unmistakeable signs of hostility. Cook therefore determined to return at once to the boats and get the marines landed. This was soon done, and they marched, with a Jack carried before them, to a little bank about fifty yards from the water-side. Here they were drawn up and Cook again advanced with Tupaea, Messrs. Banks, Green and Monkhouse, and Dr. Solander. Tupaea was directed to speak to the natives and it was soon evident that he could readily make himself understood. After some parleying about twenty or thirty were induced to swim over, most of them, however, bringing their arms with them. All attempts to establish friendly intercourse were vain, as the only object the natives seemed to have in view was to get possession of the arms of the strangers which, as they could not obtain them by barter, they tried to snatch out of their hands. What followed is best described in Cook's own words:—