Life in Early Poverty Bay
Carried Off: the Ransoming
Carried Off: the Ransoming
“As a Buddha came to earth under the shade of the mystic tree so came Carroll at the due hour into noble and simple being under the auspices of the benign tribal gods,” wrote a newspaper contributor, “Darius,” recently. “Yet, even at this hour, aye even before this hour he was devoted and dedicated to the highest callings—racial and human service. Ere yet his lips had been allowed to draw solace and strength from his mother's breast he was claimed and carried off by the tribe. There was no struggle in the motherheart against destiny. Her faith told her that all had been pre-arranged, even before Rangi and Papa were wedded, or the darkness and the light divided. The babe was carried into the mountain fastnesses about the source of the Ruakituri river in Hawke's Bay, and lodged in the tribal pa wherein he passed his babyhood and early childhood.page break page 175
“One can but faintly imagine the surprise and wonder of a darkskinned savage on first beholding a white man, but one cannot, even faintly, understand the feelings that arose in the mind of this infant savage when he, at the age of seven years, first beheld a white man, and that white man his own father.
“Joseph Carroll had come to claim the son he had not set eyes upon from the time of his birth.
“Negotiations for the ransom of the child now commenced, but even the great influence of the trader was not at first sufficiently strong to move the tribe to give up its adopted child and chief, and there were many long and serious talks in the meeting-house before the paramount claim of parentage was recognised.
“In the night time the sleeping child was carried to the canoe that had long waited for the finalising of negotiations, moored to a kowhai on the river's bank, and in the silence of the night “with its heaven full of stars” he took the backward way to the wharepuni near the encnanted palm. In the morning his wondering eyes opened upon a new and strange world, the world of the Pakeha.
“Taken from the fastnesses of the Ruakituri gorge, ignorant of the language and customs of those around him, and being, as he himself put it to the writer, a perfect little savage,' the Ishmaelite awoke in him, and he found himself consorting with the children of civilisation, so that it was deemed advisable to send him away from under the family roof-tree for a time, and place him under a guardian.
“George Richardson, or ‘Old Geordie,’ as he was affectionately called, was selected for the rather onerous trusteeship, as he was a partner of Joseph Carroll, and a kindly, capable business man, of strong character and rare integrity.”