Life in Early Poverty Bay
Barnet Burns' Exploits — Life on the East Coast a Century Ago — Tattooed from Head to Foot — An Extraordinary Story
Barnet Burns' Exploits
Life on the East Coast a Century Ago
Tattooed from Head to Foot
An Extraordinary Story
Whilst on a visit to Wellington, thanks to the courtesy of Mr. Elsdon Best, Mr. G. J. Black, of Gisborne, secured a copy of the complete contents of Barnet Burns' extraordinary story of his adventures in this portion of the Dominion nearly 100 years ago Burns' booklet was published in Belfast in 1844 and created a tremendous amount of interest Embellished, as it was, with two illustrations of himself, after he had been tattooed from head to foot, and with a fantastic account of his life amongst the Natives of the East Coast, it could not fail to create the impression that life amongst the Maoris in those early days was nothing if not very perilous It has been suggested that Burns was the first white settler at the Mahia.
The title page, as befitted a work of its character in the days in which it was printed is set out thus:
A Brief Narrative Of a New Zealand Chief, Being The Remarkable History Of Barnet Burns an English Sailor, With a Faithful Account of the Way in which he Became
Of One Of The
Tribes of New Zealand, Together With A Few Remarks on the Manners and Customs of the People, and other Interesting Matter.
Written by Himself.
Entered at Stationers' Hall.
Printed by R. and D. Read, Crown-Entry. 1844.
The text opens with an ‘Address’ as follows:—
“Multitudinous as are the ills “which flesh and blood is heir to,” and multifarious as are the miseries of human life, they become, from their frequency, common-place subjects of remark, and merely excite a transient sympathy in the mind. There are, however, incidents in the pilgrimage of some which force themselves upon our observation with a power which at once arouses our attention—startles our imagination—excites our surprise, and calls forth our admiration; such is the history about to be narrated.
“To develop to the world the sufferings of our species is at no time a pleasant task; when a writer has to detail the hardships which a fellow page break page 21 countryman has endured, perils unheard of in modern times, and sufferings almost beyond human endurance, and in a country of professed cannibals, the unpleasantness is augmented
“It would be premature to anticipate all the events which will be detailed in the subsequent pages further than at present to observe that, being communicated by the lips of truth, they shall be recorded with fidelity.
“The most superficial reader of the following pages will behold the mysterious dealings of the Supreme with his creatures; he will be led to reflect on the perils of those “who go down to the sea in ships,” taught to believe the declaration of the royal prophet, that “the dark places of the earth are full of cruelty.”
“The severe hardships and great cruelties which the subject of this short history underwent, during his ten years' detention in New Zealand—the change of habits—harassing away of life, and other circumstances, which it has been his misfortune to be subject to, has so broken up his constitution as to render him no longer am able seaman, nor capable of earning his livelihood by his labor. He, therefore, by the advice of several persons who have interested themselves in his behalf, has published this his history, trusting that the British public will hold out the hand of humanity to one of her Sons of the Ocean, and assist in alleviating the cares and troubles which he must endure for the remainder of his existence. His difficulties and distresses have been such under which many would have sunk to rise no more, yet, cheered on by hope, he persevered and found that he had not done so invain. He would be wanting in gratitude were he to let this opportunity pass without tendering his thanks to those from whom he has received the cheering effects of kind regard, who have inspirited him on to the publication of this small work, and contributed to rescue him from indigence and want. Suffice it to say, that it has been prepared amid afflictions of no ordinary nature.
“We cannot refrain from indulging in the hope that the perusal of this pamphlet will act as a stimulus to Missionary exertion, and that the various societies who have long been engaged in sending persons to preach the Gospel to those who “sit in darkness and the shadow of death” we trust that a holy emulation will arise among them, who shall do most to reclaim these savages who have inflicted these unheard of cruelties.
“The manners and customs of the barbarians among whom the sufferer was cast will be given, nor will the natural history of the soil, etc., be overlooked.”
Then follows the narrative which, as will have been gathered, was dictated by and not written by Burns: —
“Old friend, thy face is valanced since we met!”—Shakespeare.
“Since I find it impossible to walk the streets without exciting the curiosity of all who see me, from my remarkable appearance, and not always having an opportunity of satisfying them, I have been advised by my friends to present the public with a short account of my adventures since I first left England, until my return from New Zealand, which I hope will prove acceptable to all who may feel anxious to hear something about New Zealand, as well as to those who may wish to have an account of the circumstances which led to my adoption as a Ghief by the Natives of that remarkable island. And as I aspire no further than to present them with a plain statement of facts, I hope some allowance will be made by my readers for all deficiencies of style, only detailing, as I have said before, the truth, without resorting to the aid of imagination.
“I left England in the year 1827, in the brig Wilna, with Captain Tate, bound for Rio de Janeiro, touching at the Western Islands. When we arrived at Rio, or at least a short time afterward, all hands were paid off the ship, owing to some dispute between the captain and the crew, the exact cause of which I cannot at this period of time remember; but at all events, it was something of very little consequence. I received a good character from the captain of the vessel, who page 22 page 23 was, further, kind enough to recommend me to a gentleman, a merchant of the name of Burke, through whose interest, in the course of a short time, I procured a berth as steward in the barque Nimrod, commanded by Captain Illbeck, bound for Sydney, New South Wales.
“When we arrived at Sydney, I told the captain that I should prefer stopping on shore to returning; he accordingly gave me my discharge, and also a recommendation to a person of the name of William Bunn, a merchant, who is since dead, through whose interest I got a situation in the Bank of Australia, under W. M. M'Kensie, Esq. I stopped in his employment for about two years, when I, persuaded by some of my old shipmates, joined them in voyage to New Zealand, and I told him it was my inention to go to sea again; I therefore left that gentleman, who behaved to me not only as a master, but acted in every way as my friend.
“I then joined the brig Elizabeth, Captain Browne, bound on a trading voyage to New Zealand for flax. We remained on that coast, and in the different places adjacent, for nearly eight months, during which time I had an opportunity of acquiring the New Zealand language as fluently nearly as my own.
“I took a great fancy to that part of the world; in fact, so much so, that I made up my mind that on my arrival at Sydney again, I would procure a berth, if possible, as trading master, for any merchant from whom I could get employment, either to return, or settle ashore, and trade on any of the islands, or stop on board of a ship; but the former appeared to me to be preferable; so accordingly on my arrival at Sydney, I went to see my former master, Mr. M'Kensie. I told him intention; he advised me to go, if I thought proper, and recommended me to a gentleman of the name of Montefiore, who had just at that time formed an establishment for the flax trade—at least he was going to send persons down to New Zealand to trade for flax for him. None but persons who could speak the language were wanted; therefore I was lucky enough to procure a berth with him, at least under him, as a trading master. The following is a copy of the agreement made between Montefiore and myself:—
‘It is hereby agreed between L. Baron Montifore, Esq., and Barnet Burns, that the said Barnet Burns shall proceed in the schooner Darling, now about to sail to the port of Mahia, in New Zealand, there and then to commence bartering with the natives for flax, etc., such trade as (1) may be shipped under his charge per said vessel, and in fact, to act as the sole and entire agent of the said L. Baron Montefiore, at the aforesaid port of Mahia, or at any other port or place to which he may hereafter be directed to proceed. It is also understood that the said Barnet Burns is to be totally unconnected with any other establishment at New Zealand, or elsewhere: that of such trade as may be from time to time forwarded to him, he is to render a just and true account; and that he is in every way to use his utmost exertions to promote the interest of his employer.
‘In consideration of which services, the said Baron Montefiore hereby agrees to pay to the said Barnet Burns the sum of £4 per month, to commence on the date of his sailing from Sydney, together with a commission of £5 per cent. on all flax, to be valued at £12 per ton weight. Should it be desired by the said Barnet Burns to relinquish the service of his above-named employer, it is understood that the said L. Baron Montefiore is to have sufficient notice of such intention, to enable him to sencr a person down to take possession of whatever trade or flax might be on hand. It is also expected that at such places as the said Barnet Burns may remain for any length of time, he will make use of every conciliatory means in his power towards effecting a permanent and friendly intercourse with the natives, and that he shall obey the instructions which may be from time to time forwarded to him by the said L. Baron Montefiore.page 24page 25
Signed in Sydney, the 12th day of February, 1829, in the presence of etc., etc.'
(1) Articles for barter, as tobacco, etc., etc.
“I left Sydney, pursuant to agreement, in the schooner Darling; and after a passage of fourteen, or perhaps a few days longer, we put into Corner (Kawhia)—a fight took place here of which I was an eye-witness—to land another trading master in that part of the island. We lay in Corfier (Kawhia) river for about a month, until there was a house built to put the trade into that was for that part. We got all the trade for that place ashore safe, and everything then seemed as if things were going to turn out favorably. While we lay in this river, a great number of the natives used, to resort to the vessel to see her, and try to get things out of her. I do not mean to say steal anything out of the vessel, for they were their certainly rejoiced to see not only the ship, but the captain and crew. After the expiration of a month, we sailed to Mocaw (Mokau), there to land another trading master.
“Nothing occurred here worthy of particular attention, only that we landed the man and his trade ashore safe, and had a house built for him. We then touched at Taranackia (Taranaki) to see the state of the white people and natives there, who informed us they were on friendly terms with each other in that part, but expected to have a war, or at least to be disturbed by other tribes, who, it appears, had made up their minds to plunder them. We next touched at Entry Isle (Kapiti) and procured provisions. We remained there but a short time: when we started from thence, we went through Cook's straits, to get to the E. side of the island; and, after an absence of four months from Sydney, I arrived at my destination, Mahia, where I landed without a house being ready, a complete stranger, not a white man to be seen, not one residing within a hundred miles of me.
“The vessel only remained here two days, when she sailed for the Bay of Islands; therefore I was under the necessity of landing my, trade in canoes, and leaving it in one of the native chief's huts. So here I was amongst a set of cannibals, trusting wholly and solely to their mercy, not knowing the moment when they might take my trade from me, and not only my trade, but my life. Directly I landed here, the chief, whom I had particularly selected to trade with, left me; so I had the whole charge on my hands. I was obliged to carry my musket, and constantly sleep with it by my side; in fact I had to keep watch all the time. Then, for the first time since I took my fancy to visit New Zealand I felt frightened at my situation. I knew I was not sure of my life for an hour.
Barnet Burns' Trade on Mahia in 1829
Forced To Flee With-Native Wife To Gisborne
Sequel To Flax Buying Trip Ngai-Te-Rangi Make Murderous Attack
Burns Alone Escapes Being Killed and Eaten
“In the course of a few days after my arrival at Mahia my trading chief returned with a large quantity of flax; I traded with him by giving powder, muskets, shot, blankets, tobacco, etc. I did all in my power to please the Natives, who were very soon delighted with me. I stopped here for nearly eleven months before I received any news from my employer, when, at last, a vessel arrived from Sydney, sent down to receive the stock that I might have on hand. At the time the ship arrived, it was a poor time for the trade in this place, so they had orders to take away the trade. The following is a copy of a page 26 page 27 letter that I received from Mr. Montefiore:—
Mr. Burns, Sir,—I have authorised Mr. Sims to make such arrangements with you, relative to your stay, removal, or otherwise, at New Zealand, as he may deem most proper.—I am Sir, your obedient servant, L, Baron Montefiore.
Natives Inclined to Plunder
“On receiving this letter, I gave up all the flax and remaining trade to Mr. Sims, which, I must say, gave me a great deal of trouble. The Natives, when they found the trade was going to be removed, grew quite cross; indeed they felt inclined for plunder. On one occasion a cask of powder was taken from a person—a Native, who was in the act of stealing it; but, however, he was detected, and severely punished according to their laws and habits.
“At this time I was under the protection of a chief of the name of Aw-hawee, who had a great regard for me; the fact is, I had married his daughter, who, at the time the ship arrived was on the point of being confined. For which reason I was obliged to make a settlement with Mr. Sims, and take trade in lieu of the money due to me.
“The vessel soon after sailed, and I was left behind. Words cannot express in what state my feelings were; suffice it to say, it would have been better if I had been dead. The ship, which contained all my friends and countrymen, leaving me at one side, and on the other, my wife, who would not quit her Native country; and, as she was on the point of lying-in, I could not bring myself to leave the country with the ship.
“In two days after the vessel sailed, all the men belonging to the tribe, whose protection I was under, went to cultivate their potato gardens, which are generally some distance from their pas—places of fortification—not expecting any danger to occur either to me, my wife, or any of the tribe who remained at home, who were but few.
A Perilous Position.
“On the morning after the tribe went farming, as I have mentioned before, I was told by a person, who acted as a servant of maine, that he had bad news for me. I asked him what it was, and he told me he had overheard a conversation between some persons who came for the express purpose of seeing whether the tribe were away or not, that they might be enabled to plunder the trade I had. I did not conceive for a moment that they intended to serve me so; but they were jealous of the tribe I had stopped with, whom they imagined had advised me to send away the ship, and all the trade, as they had enough for themselves. And for that reason they were determined to have all the trade that was left behind for themselves, or die in the attempt. This intelligence gave me a great deal of uneasiness. I had ventured much for what little I had—I had struggled hard for it by night and day: and for that reason I was determined I would perish in its defence.
Advised to Leave the Mahia.
“I acquainted my chief with the affair; he began to cry when I spoke to him about it, and told me that his tribe was so far distant, that it would be no use trying to defend the property I had, for it would certainly be taken from me, and not only that but very likely my life. The only plan that he advised was for me to get a large war canoe, and take the best part of my trade along with me, and proceed to Poverty Bay, where I could be protected by his friends. We accordingly got a canoe ready, and loaded her as much as we could. I, my wife, her father, and some of his slaves embarked, and bid the rest of the persons, whose husbands were away, farewell: they were principally women, and showed us their sorrow at parting, by crying, and cutting themselves with lava, until the blood page 28 page 29 came streaming from them, it grieved them so much that we should leave them for want of protection.
By War Canoe for Gisborne.
“We put to sea in our open canoe, nine in number, with a strong southerly wind, which came to blow so much, and the sea began to run so heavy, that we were forced to run for a place called Wharryawawa (Whare-ongaonga), where I was not allowed to go on shore, as the chief said he was fearful that the tribe would follow me by land, and, therefore, would have a chance of catching me. All hands went on shore but myself and my wife, who were obliged to sleep in the canoe all night.
“On the following morning we put to sea again, and steered for a place called Wyshee (Waihi, maybe, mouth of Waipaoa), where, when I arrived at, I could not leave, owing to the sea running into the bay so very heavily; therefore, I was obliged to haul my oanoe up out of the water, and allow the Natives (who were my chief's relations, and who flocked around me in hundreds) to carry my property for me, which they had to do for nearly thirteen miles through the country, before I arrived at Poverty Bay, the place I intended to go to. “When I got there I was received comfortably enough; they said they would encourage me in the trade, supply me with victuals, and protect me to the last moment of their lives.
Good Reception at (?) Ormond
“I only remained here twenty-four hours after my arrival, when I proceeded about twelve miles further into the country (Mr Best suggests he went to Ormond) as I was advised it would be the best and most secure place for me to remain at, their strongest pas being in that place. When I arrived at the pa I was very well received; the Natives were overjoyed to think that I had made my escape (from Mahin) from the Wattihabitties (Whatu-i-apiti, a Hawke's Bay tribe), who were decided enemies on both sides.
“I had nothing to do here, for some time after I arrived, therefore I had an opportunity of viewing this part of New Zealand, which I think is the finest and most beautiful of all the island—at least what I saw of it. Here I found plenty of game, such as ducks, pigeons, and other kinds of birds; plenty of pork, potatoes, melons, and Indian corn, and every kind of vegetable in abundance. I remained in this place about three weeks, at a place called Wherowhero (Muriwai). I intended to go to see him, but was disappointed, on account of some trouble arising between the Natives, who had heard that another tribe, consisting of nearly 600 men (? Whakatohea), about twenty miles off, were come to war with them.
Preparations for Battle.
“It was now for the first time I went to battle, it being my chief's particular wish for me to accompany him (I being then regularly ruled by a chief). I needed but very little pressing to take this step, as I thought it was better to go than stop behind myself. I gave them all the muskets I had, also all the powder and shot belonging to me. So we set out from here for a place called Mariaathe (Mr. Best suggests Maraetai); I dare say nearly seven hundred of us. We had to strike right through the country about twenty miles, where we heard the enemy were. On the evening we arrived, we perceived a great deal of smoke arise in different places, from which we thought the enemy were not far off.
Dog Spoils Ambush.
“I will now give you a slight instance of New Zealand sagacity: We had a dog along with us, a common thing amongst New Zealanders, who generally take those animals with them when they are going to war. I should have mentioned before that we intended to lay in ambush the night we perceived the smoke; but the dog, having made its way right to where the enemy lay, and the enemy finding it to be a strange dog, seized it and made it fast round the leg with a page 30 page 31 piece of cord, by which means, with the help of a person who was piloted by the dog, they discovered where the whole of us lay, and took the opportunity of making their escape, for when we came on the following morning to where we thought they were, we found them gone. We pursued them, but could only take four persons, who were some of the slaves that were employed carrying their provisions. They were shot and devoured; on which the tribe performed a war dance (a dance to denote their joy at conquering the enemy: they perform it before and after battle).
“When we arrived at home everything went on pleasantly enough. I stopped nearly six weeks trading, and procured a great quantity of flax and pigs. I agreed with my chief that he should take care of the stock belonging to me, while I would proceed on land with some of the slaves and purchase some more flax, as I expected a ship in the course of a short time to arrive, which caused me to be in a hurry to collect all the flax I could, as I was then trading on my own account.
Taken Prisoner at (?) Motu.
“I went on land about twenty-eight miles, to a place called Mutu (?Motu) where I remained some time procuring flax. I bought a great quantity of flax here, but, unluckily, a jealousy took place between the Knightarangy (Ngai Te Rangi) tribe, and the tribe I was with. (? Te Aitangi-a-Mahaki, according to Mr. Best.) They came upon us and attacked us. There were not many of us to be sure, but we gave battle to a man, were beaten, and every soul killed, and not only killed but eaten, except myself, whom they spared, making a prisoner of me, thinking thereby to procure a ransom from my chief for me. They took me along with them in the bush; they had no houses belonging to them, being a regular wandering tribe.
“Whilst I was amongst these people (the Ngai-Te-Rangi), I got particularly acquainted with a female of rank, who told me that it was her father's wish that I should act as a friend to him; by so doing he would make me a chief, would give me land, pigs, and property of different kinds. She also told me the others belonging to the tribe had a great spite towards me; and, should they have an opportunity, would certainly kill me; for which reason I had better not leave the rendezvous at all, unless in company with her father, who was head chief amongst them, or in her own company.page 33
Life in the Balance.
“I must note one thing, that is, a chief's daughter has that superiority over her meaner subjects, that, if there were vengeance sworn by any persons against another, and they were in the act of killing him, by such female running and putting her mat over such person's head, it would at once prevent the murder taking place.
“I was here but a few days (a prisoner amongst the Ngai-Te-Rangi), when I made up my mind to escape from them. I was so uncomfortable: but I was so closely watched, it was out of the question to attempt it. They could see by my manner that I was not inclined to stop with them, and would often say: “What is the matter with you? You may think yourself happy we do not kill you!' Others, again, when they had an opportunity, would spit in my face, and tell me they would eat my very heart the first opportunity they had. I was afraid to complain of them, because it would only cause some of them being put to death, and by that means get me into fresh trouble.”page 32
An Inter-Tribal Battle
A Siege That Succeeded
Chief's Wife Baked and Eaten
“I will now proceed to relate, how, when, and where, I first got to be marked, or more properly speaking—Tattooed. When I found that there was no chance of making an escape from the Ngai-Te Rangi in the (?) Motu district, I tried to make them all think that I was getting very partial to them, and by that means I found that I was both loved and respected by them. On one occasion the chief took an opportunity of telling me that it was the wish of the other chiefs under him, not his own, that I should allow myself to be tattooed. I asked what was the reason for wishing it. He told me merely to make sure that I would stop with them, bring them trade, fight for them, and in every way make myself their friend.
“I told this old man, who had a great regard for me, that I did not fancy the tribe; I could not stop along with them; that I was losing a great deal of time by stopping with them; and that I never gave them any reason to serve me so. I was losing all my trade; I was losing my time; in fact, I told them that I should kill myself if I could not get away. The old chief began to cry; and told me that though he was head chief—in such cases he could not make those that were under him do as he thought proper; that he would effect all in his power for me; but he was greatly alarmed that others would find an opportunity to have my head—though this should never be done with his consent. He therefore advised me to take care of myself, and consider what was best to be done.page 35
“Now, My Fine Fellow!”
“In the course of about three weeks after I was brought here, I met one day a gang of persons in the bush, as I happened to be out fowling. They came up to me and said, “Now, my fine fellow, we have got you; you shall never lend a hand to kill any of our relations again.” I cocked my piece, and told them to fire if they were inclined to kill me. At that moment, one of them stepped forwards me, and told me that if I would fight for them I should not be injured. I told them I would. “Then,” says he “you must let yourself be tattooed the same as we are.” I expressed my readiness; at which there was nothing but exclamations of joy amongst them. They lifted me up on their backs and carried me to their settlement.
“They told the old chief they had brought me to an agreement:—that I was to fight for them, and was to be tattooed, as a pledge of my sincerity that I would act as their friend—for which reason they would prove true to me, and would give me anything that they had. I considered in my own mind that I had better agree to their wishes, as I could plainly see it was out of my power to make an escape.
“I did not know whether my own tribe would find me or not, nor whether I might fall into the hands of a strange tribe, perhaps that might behave worse to me; so, for the purpose of getting extra liberty, I told them to commence tattooing me as soon as possible. They immediately began the operation; the priest cutting in the flesh with bone instruments, which was horribly painful. (The tattooing is a practice common only to New Zealanders. The instruments in the shape of a chisel and mallet are formed out of bone; these are used after the flesh is cut to the eighth of an inch deep, for the purpose of beating in the Cowrie (black dye).page break
Method of Escape.
“In seven days after they commenced (I could mention I was about onequarter tattooed here), I took the opportunity one night, while it was raining (you will read in my history of New Zealand what an aversion the Natives have to night travelling)—to make my escape; and, on the following day, I could perceive from the top of a mountain that I was but a short distance from where my wife and friends were, but then it was terrible travelling—nothing but bush, in addition to which, I was not very well supplied with shoes—the fact is, I was barefooted.
“It took me three days to reach home, as I had several round about ways to go to avoid being seen by the Natives, many of whom were in search for me—I mean the tribe from whom I escaped. When I arrived where my friends were, I was received with the greatest joy: there was scarcely anything to be heard except the firing of musketry.
“I mentioned before, on my leaving Maia (Mahia), that the Natives there, to show their grief, cut themselves with lava. The same thing is done both for joy and grief: many of them crying and cutting themselves terribly with lava, which was always done against my will—but that was no use, it was their fashion, and they would not, nor could they be persuaded to drop it
“They all flocked round inquiringhow I was? How the rest of their friends were? What kept me so long? Whether I had good luck in trade or not? How I came to be tattooed etc. I told them that I had been taken prisoner—that their friends were all killed—that my flax (I had a good deal of that article when I was taken prisoner)—was all burned—and I was obliged to submit to them by letting myself be tattooed. Directly they heard it they swore vengeance against the perpetrators of such deeds; and, accordingly, there were sixty men picked out, well armed, to go to the very spot from where I had escaped, according to my directions. I stopped at home myself, being unwell, or else I certainly would have gone along with them. These men were to search for the persons by whom I had been detained, and, if they could, were to return with the heads of everyone they might kill.
A Visit to Another Trader
“But, however, in this point they were mistaken, for the enemy, when they found I had made my escape, knew what would occur, and, for that reason, left their abode—at least, their place of rendezvous: so that, when my friends arrived there, all the satisfaction they had was to take away four pigs that were left behind—anything in the way of plunder, particularly from an enemy, being sweet to a New Zealander. After an absence of five days they returned and informed us of all that passed. I remained here some time trading, and got a good deal of flax.
“I should have mentioned here before, that, when I returned from the Knightarangys (Ngai-Te Rangis), I went to see the white man that I alluded to—name not given—who was trading for another person, to whom I sold all the flax and other articles that I had, in the way of trade, for money, some tobacco, powder, and some things necessary to carry on trade.
Quarrel Interrupts Business.
“I went some time after up Toorongo river (Taruheru) about three miles distant, to buy some flax. They were in my debt, as I had advanced them trade before; and, when they came to make a muster of what flax they had, I found it was not near enough to pay me. They then went about half a mile up the river to get some more flax: I remained behind with what flax I had got in my canoe. They had but a few minutes gone, when I heard the noise of musketry. I asked some of the persons who had remained behind what was the matter. They told me they expected it was a quarrel; in a short time they page break page 37 returned, and told me they were fired at by the Walkathowas (Whakatoheas)—a tribe consisting of 400 men, women and children—and could not settle with me then, but if I would call again they would be happy in doing so.
On the War-Path.
“I left these people, and proceeded down the river again with my flax. These persons, who are called the Biddiraakos, (? Pirirakau) directly I left them, went and made every kind of arrangement for storming the pas belonging to the Walkathowas (Whakatoheas), and accordingly, they sent word to the tribe that I was along with, (Te Aitangi-a Mahaki) and told them that they wanted help. They also told several other tribes the same thing, and the result was they all agreed to go and kill everyone belonging to the Walkathowas (Whakatoheas), if they possibly could do so; and I amongst the rest who was particularly requested to go by all parties. (Mr Elsdon Best suggests the year was 1831.) I consented: so we set out; I having the command of about one hundred and fifty men. there were about six hundred men altogether. We marched to the Walkathowas' (Whakatoheas') pa, which was very strong; we surrounded it three weeks, during which time several persons were shot and devoured.
How the Maoris Fought.
“The mode of warfare of the New Zealanders is simply this:— When they are attacked by a strange tribe, they fly directly to their pas, where they stop if they do not conceive themselves able to face their enemy; and such was the case with the Walkathowas (Whakatoheas). There were a few certainly that came out, but it was to search for provisions—a very good reason after being confined within the limits of a pa, only about a quarter of a mile round, with a beautiful river close to it; but they generally paid dear for their temerity.
“I will relate one instance:—Two days before the pa was taken, one of the principal chief's wives tried to make her escape by attempting to swim across the river, but, unfortunately, she was taken and made a prisoner. They took her away about a quarter of a mile from her pa, and informed her that she was to be killed and eaten. Each of the principal chiefs then began to bespeak their parts of the body, in the presence of the woman. One said he would have a leg, another an arm, and another her heart, etc., etc., until she was shared amongst them. When this was done, she was ordered to go into the river and wash a quantity of potatoes.
A Horrible Murder.
“Whilst the unfortunate woman was away, the natives made a large hole—the same kind as I spoke of before for cooking in the bush, and got everything ready for cooking her. On the woman's return, she was told the oven was getting ready for her. She said it could not be helped. She was then ordered to prepare for cooking. I affirm, positively, that I saw the woman gather green leaves, lay them down on the hot stones, tie both her legs together herself, and then ask one of the party to tie her hands. When this was done, she took a friendly leave of two or three persons that she knew and threw herself down on the leaves.
“When she was over the fire, she begged some of the party would knock her brains out. But they would not; they kept her on the fire a few minutes, then laid potatoes over her, and covered her up with earth—aye, before life was half gone—until she was cooked fit for eating. I assure you, so sweet is the flesh of a New Zealander—an enemy—esteemed by these people that part of this woman's body was sent upwards of three hundred miles off to other friends, merely that they might have a taste.
“These unfortunate persons, after being attacked all day by the persons outside the pa, would, in the night-time, allow the enemy to come and trade with them—such as giving mats for something to eat, flax for a little page break page 39 powder; so that by trading in the night-time, in this kind of way, my friends had an opportunity of seeing which would be the best way of gaining admittance. They formed the plan of making a complete rush; and all proceeding at once, with the help of a tomahawk, to cut an entrance through the pas, which are constructed of a large fencing, made fast together with vines. They did so: we effected an entrance, and made every soul it possessed prisoners—about 400 in number. When they brought the prisoners out, they were all regularly shared between each tribe; and I myself was an eye-witness to about sixty being killed and eaten.
How A Cannibal Feast Was Prepared
Peaceful Rivalry with White Trader
Mission of Mercy to East Cape
“I will here mention how, and in which way, dead bodies are cooked for eating, as many, perhaps, never have read before of such a thing. I shall relate this as plain as I possibly can, and mention nothing but the truth. In the first place, if a man of any consequence is killed—a person of any rank—his head is generally cut off, and saved to be sold in the way of trade to the shipping, or in any other way in which they may dispose of such heads. The bodies they cut up in quarters, something like the way you see a pig cut up by a butcher. They are not very particular about washing their provisions, at least, they are not particular in washing human flesh; but just as the piece is cut off they cook it; not a single particle of the body goes to waste.
“A Most Beautiful Dinner.”
“The fashion of cooking is this:—They dig a large hole, in which they light a fire. They have got a particular kind of a hard stone; if they should be short of this stone, they use a sort of hard mud. They put these stones in this fire until they become red hot, and, when that is the case, they cover the stones with a kind of leaf. They then take the meat or carcase, whichever it may be, and lay it on these leaves, and then put their potatoes on the top of the meat, which they cover all over with leaves, and then fill the hole up with damp clay, until the steam which is confined underneath the earth completely cooks it.
“This may appear to some persons a curious way of cooking; but I can assure them, in such a way they can cook a most beautiful dinner, if they have a mind to take a little pains. For my part, I have cooked pork and potatoes as completely in this manner, as ever I have eaten them cooked in Europe. They serve up their victuals in baskets made of flax, which they are so very particular in having clean; indeed, so much so, that they get a new set of baskets every time they sit down to their victuals. This is the only thing they are particular in with respect to their eating and drinking.
“They have also a method of preparing human flesh for the purpose of travelling, which is done by making a fire underneath a grating of vines. They then lay the flesh over the smoke of the vines until it is perfectly smoked, without the help of salt. They then put in the sun until it becomes quite dry—such is the way they get meat ready for travelling. I have given a description now of their manner of cooking, and shall proceed to my return home to my friends.
Offer to Go to Uawa.
“About three weeks after we arrived, a vessel, called the Prince of Denmark, came from Sydney, with all kinds of trade on board. The captain page break page 41 asked me if I had been trading for any person lately. I told him I had not: therefore, I engaged with him for the sum of £3 a month, and no percentage on flax. He agreed with me to go about 30 miles further along the coast, where my wife's brother lived, to a place called Onawa (Uawa), it being the most likely place, at that time of the year for a good flax trade. The captain left me to take the trade ashore, and proceed to Onawa (Uawa) in a canoe, as I was not ready to start exactly at the time; so, accordingly, he sailed for some other part of the coast. In the course of two days afterwards, I proceeded in a canoe with my wife and child, and her two brothers, together with slaves enough for the management of the canoe. When I arrived here, I found one white man trading for Capt. Kent who remained at one side of the river, which is a beautiful one, and I on the other; but still one tribe, called Hooringawherea, only divided, or at least, commanded by two brothers. (Uawa river, Tolaga Bay).
Favorite with the Natives.
“I remained here for some time; I dare say nearly three years, during which time I was constantly trading for one person. I sent, during this time, about 107 tons of flax to Sydney. The flax of New Zealand, which is indigenous to the Island, and grows in the greatest abundance, without the slightest cultivation, differs materially from that of Europe, and is of quality much superior. It grows somewhat similar to the blue flag of our marshes (forium tenax). It is cut by the natives and prepared; that is, scraped with a mussel-shell till it becomes as fine and as soft as silk; it is then made into the garments worn by the Natives, and likewise forms a valuable article of barter to the vessels touching at the various ports.) The vessel had been sent to me three times; but hearing such bad news from New South Wales, of the distress in England, I was determined then on never leaving New Zealand; and for that renson I did all in my power to please the Natives.
Chief of Tribe of 600.
“This was the place where I enjoyed happiness—this was the place where I was tattooed; at least, where the remaining part of my face was marked—and not only my face, but my body. I do not mean to say that I have been tattooed altogether against my will, as I submitted to have the latter part done. In fact, I thought within myself, as one part of my face was disfigured, I might as well have it done completely, particularly as it would be of service to me. And so it was. In the first place, I could travel to any part of the country, amongst my friends, if I thought proper. I was made and considered chief of a tribe of upwards of 600 persons, consisting of men, women and children. I could purchase flax when others could not. In fact, I was as well liked amongst the rest of the chiefs, as though I had been their brother.
“S.O.S.” From East Cape.
“During the time I remained here a messenger came to me and told me there were three of my countrymen some distance off to be killed. I enquired the circumstances, which were as follows:—A whaler had put into the East Cape for provisions. During her stay there, three of the crew ran away; in returm, the captain of the ship seized fifteen of the Natives, and took them away they could not tell where, until news came afterwards, by land, that the men were landed at the Bay of Islands. But, before this was known, the Natives on shore were determined on killing the white men. They were confined by one of the greatest tyrants of a chief on that part of New Zealand, of the name of Cotahrow.
“When I had all the information I required about them, I gave orders to my tribe, and told them to get a canoe ready—to get themselves well stocked with arms—and to prepare to come along with me to rescue my countrymen. The moment they got the word every one seemed as anxious to go as I was myself, such was the regard they had for me. I, and 60 of the ablest men, most of whom were page break page 43 under-chiefs, manned a canoe, and directly went to the East Cape after them, a distance of about 30 leagues.
Enquiries for Missing Sailors.
“We had two days' fair wind; and on the third day arrived there, at least, as close as we could get by water. When we got on shore, we hauled our canoe up in the bush, and covered her over with leaves. We then marched up to the pas where the men were confined, a distance of about six miles. We were on very good terms with these people before this affair took place. We went direct into the pas, where we were received with great civility: everything as amiable as possible—all we could expect was prepared for us, such as a supper of pork, potatoes, pumpkins, etc. (not knowing at the time what our business was).
“After supper, I took the opportunity of making our business known. I enquired of the chief before-mentioned, “If he knew anything of three men who had run away from the whaler?” (It is the fashion of a New Zealander, when he speaks about anything particular, to study a long time before he makes an answer: on a sudden, he rises up, and begins his conversation in a passionate kind of manner, at first, then by degrees he gets calm, and then sits down: his friends then get up in the same kind of way, and speak to the same purpose.) He told me I could not see the men. He said that he had sent the men away—that he was determined on keeping the men, as payment for the Natives that were taken away from him. I then began to reason with him, and told him that he could not blame the men that ran away from the ship. The captain was the man to blame. But, however, he insisted on keeping the men, and would not give me the least satisfaction more about the matter.
A Child Discloses Where Men Confined.
“When I found this was the case, I walked out of the house, or rather hut and strayed about for some time, until it got dark. I then met a child, and took the opportunity of asking it a few questions, (knowing it to be the only way in which I could find where the men were confined.) The child did not know me from a New Zealander, and the questions and answers were as follows:—
‘My boy, do you know where the white men are?’
‘Yes; they are over there,’ pointing to a hut on the opposite side of the pas.
“I ran directly, burst in the door, and there I found them almost naked, whom I accosted in the following manner:—
‘How do you get on countrymen? How long have you been here?’
“They said they were miserable—they had been there six days, and were receiving information every day, that they were to be killed, and begged of me if it was in my power, to save them. I told them I would see what I could do with the chiefs, by paying a ransom; I had nothing at present to pay for them; but, however, they should not be killed until my return.
Bartering For The Captive Sailors
Decision to Leave New Zealand
Leave-Taking From Native Wife and Children
“I went into the house again where the chief was, and spoke to him as follows: ‘Will you give those white men up to me? If you do, I will return you a compliment?’ He said it was hard to ask the like of him, and told me to consider. I then told him if he would give them up to me, I would give him a musket for one, a blanket for another—and page break page 45 a small keg of powder for another. He considered for some time, and, at last, asked if I told a lie or not; I told him it was the truth. He said he would let his friends know of it, and, if they would agree to it, he should be satisfied. I then sent one of my acquaintances, a chief, along with him, and told him to encourage the others as much as he could.
Chief Agrees to Terms.
“When he came back, he told me to make myself contented about the men, as I should have them on the terms before mentioned; but he should go along with them in his own canoe, and that I must be satisfied to agree to those terms; that I should pay the articles I promised to him when he took the men to my house; in default of payment, that he should return with the men back again to his own place. I told him everything was perfectly correct—he should be well satisfied for his trouble, or else it should be my fault.
A Lawful Prize.
“So on the following morning we started: his party in one canoe, and I along with my company in the other. We had a strong north-east wind and ran along at such a rate, that we arrived at Onawa (Uawa) on the third morning; the wind being, as I said before, from the N.E., set a very heavy swell into the bay, and our companions not being very well acquainted with the harbor, got aground on the bar, capsized, and in less than twenty minutes every single thing belonging to the canoe, and the canoe itself, along with the white men who came on shore, as well as the New Zealanders themselves, were all instantly made a prize of. (It is a law of the New Zealanders, that if their most sacred friend is wrecked, he is made a lawful prize of: everything is taken away from him in the way of property, and the captors can do whatever they think proper about it afterwards—a regulation that generally causes a war among the Natives to get their property back again; but, however, it was not the case in this affair).
“The chief was quite willing I should hold the men for nothing, if I would use my exertions to get him his canoe and property back again, which was done the moment I ordered it; and the next day he took his departure for his own place. Thus fortune favored me; for it was in my power to pay for them, though I was determined they should never leave me once I got them on shore, even if war should be the result of it. These men afterwards went up to Sydney in the Byron schooner.
Determined to Return to Sydney.
“I remained at home after this for nearly six months, when a vessel called the Bardaster, of Liverpool, commanded by Capt. T. J. Chalmers, arrived off the Bay early one morning. At the moment the vessel was reported, I launched a canoe (I had no idea, she being such a large vessel, that she had any commands for me), and went on board; when, to my surprise, I found my employer's agent on board, who enquired of me how much flax I had for him. I told him; and he said I must remain with it, and wait till the return of another vessel, which was coming down with trade. I told the agent my determination of going to Sydney. When he found such was the case he told me that I should have to pay the sum of £5 for a passage. I then told him it was rather hard to serve me so; but, however, as I wanted to have a settlement in Sydney with my employer, I would accept his offer.page 47
By Canoe and Overland to Gisborne.
“The ship stood then into Poverty Bay, but left me on shore. Next morning I manned a canoe, and took my wife and children, her father and brothers, and steered towards Poverty Bay, after the ship, according to promise; but the wind proved foul a short time after I left. I was obliged to put into a small bay, and travel overland (pretty hard travelling too! no omnibus being in that part of the world). But, however, on the following morning, having travelled all night, we reached Poverty Bay.page break
Dispute with Natives Settled.
“I got a canoe and went on board of the ship, which was lying at anchor, waiting till I came up, as the agent was afraid of going ashore, owing to some promises he had made the Natives, which he did not perform. But, however, I soon put matters right, and got the flax on board safe, and paid them in tobacco and pipes. The Natives have no distinct idea of a Supreme Being, conceiving everything invisible, or that which they cannot account for, such as thunder, lightning, etc., to be an “Eatoa” (Atua), a God.
A Regretful Departure.
“I had now to take leave of my wife and children, her friends and all my other acquaintances. I cannot describe how the Natives felt; but, however, I will say for myself, that no man ever left a place more regretted than I did wher leaving New Zealand. We weighed anchor, and set sail for Queen Charlotte's Sound, and touched at Cloudy Bay. I was a stranger here, and surprised the Natives; nothing particular occurred. When we got to Queen Charlotte's Sound, we came to anchor, and remained there for about three days. In the meantime the boat was sent further up the Sound, there to trade along with the white people (whalers) for whalebone.
Plan to Capture Vessel.
“I stopped on board the ship along with the captain, as interpreter; there were a great number of Natives came off to the ship. I suppose not less than fifty canoes came off, full of men and women, and who immediately came on board. One of these persons told me she had something to say in private, and, when I inquired of her in her own language what it was, she told me she heard the men saying, as there were not many men on board the ship, they would take her, there being plenty of fire arms, and other property on board the ship, that would be very useful to them.
Warning That Was Heeded.
“The moment I got a hint of this, I acquainted the captain, and advised him to get a line drawn across the quarter deck, and station a man with a loaded musket to keep sentry, and to send the Natives on shore, which was immediately done. I then invited the principal chief and his son, into the cabin to take some grog; and, when I got them ashore, I kept them, but did not let them know my intention for doing so; but told them I should like their company until morning, to talk to them about other parts of New Zealand. They seemed perfectly satisfied. I then came out of the cabin, and ordered all the Natives on shore. Directly they heard me speak the language, they were quite surprised. I insisted on their going, and when they found I was resolute, they immediately quitted the ship. About twelve o'clock the following day several boats arrived with whalebone, brought on board by Europeans for trade; when all the whalebone was on board, we got under weigh for New South Wales.
Back Again in England.
“Thus ended my adventures in New Zealand. The gentlemanly kind way in which the captain of the Bardaster used me, to whom I shall always return my most sincere thanks, induced me to stop in his ship, and return with him to England, after an absence of eight years, glad enough once more to see my countrymen, to whom I have been no less an object of curiosity than of commiseration. Had I chosen, I could have filled volumes with the manners and customs of this singular people, by whom I have been adopted; but I have merely given a simple statement of my own personal adventures, which, I hope, will prove both satisfactory and arousing—as, in that case, my utmost ambition will be gratified.page break