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Life in Early Poverty Bay

“The King of Gisborne.”

“The King of Gisborne.”

At that time Captain Read was practically “king of Gisborne,” and ran his own fleet of schooners to and fro. He lived on the Kaiti side of the bay, opposite his wharf, and had also a woolshed there. At his store the greater part of the business of the Bay was done, and many humorous tales are told of his dealings with the Natives. He issued his own private notes in exchange for gold, and these notes were universally accepted as currency in the district.

It is related that on various occasions after a Native had exchanged his gold for notes, a dispute would arise with the Captain, and the incensed Maori, in order to show his contempt for the pakeha trader, would tear the notes to pieces in the store, scatter the remnants on the floor, and stalk indignantly out. On another occasion, it is related, a Native appeared in great consternation and related that his house on the Flats had been destroyed by fire, and a number of notes had gone up in smoke. He explained that he was unable to replace these notes which, to his mind, were the property of Captain Read, who listened solemnly to the story, and told the Maori that as they were old friends he need not worry about such a small matter as replacement. He agreed with the Maori that it was a sheer case of bad luck. No more need be said. The delighted Maori, it is stated, left in the highest spirits, singing the praises of the generous captain!