Edward Jollie - Reminisces 1841-1865


2. Wellington: 1842-1845

The town of Wellington at the time we landed had been occupied by colonists for nearly two years and consisted chiefly of a row of Raupo houses (1) along Lambton Quay, fronting the harbour between Pipitea Point and Te Aro flat, the hills at the back being covered with dense forest.  It did not appear a very promising site for a settlement.  Nor do I think that in the whole of the districts around the Port there were more than a hundred acres of land in cultivation at the time I landed.  A short time previously many of the leading settlers had seriously discussed the necessity of abandoning the place and seeking out a new home in North America.  This they probably would have been done had shipping been obtainable.

(1) Raupo is an indigenous Bulrush, Reedmace or Cattail. The New Zealand Company had already published a deceitful report stating that there were 445 houses in Wellington, of which 195 were substantially built of brick or wood.

We were not long in getting settled on shore, the weather was very fine and the accommodation we got was superior to that of our small ship.  With two other cadets I took a house and we “did for ourselves,” with the assistance of a woman who came in the morning and went home at night.  Our food was chiefly pork and potatoes with bread, sometimes salt beef or fish.  Other things such as mutton, fresh beef, butter, eggs etc. were far too expensive for our limited pay of eight shillings a day, and only appeared on rich men’s tables when they wished to do honour to invited guests.  Butter, I recollect, was four shillings a pound, eggs three pence each, and mutton I don’t know what, as I never recollect during the three years I was at Wellington ever tasting it, except once when I dined out.

March 1st 1878 - After a long interval, I begin again, living now at Lausanne, Switzerland.

My work in connection with the survey staff was generally in the office.  Our hours of attendance were from nine to five, with no time allowed for lunch.  I soon became rather expert in office work, much more so than the other cadets who were generally out with one or other of the assistant surveyors in the field.  For a year or more I had a little outdoor work except for an occasional day or two in the immediate neighbourhood of Wellington.

Our chief Surveyor was a Mr. S. C. Brees (1) who had superseded Captain Smith, R.A.  Brees was neither loved nor respected by any of the staff.  As the Principal Agent of the New Zealand Company, Colonel Wakefield, also had a very poor opinion of him and took every opportunity to snub him, we the cadets soon found that, if we liked, we could have things pretty much our own way.

(1) Samuel Charles Brees (1810–65), was appointed in 1841, for a period of three years, as successor to Captain William Mein Smith, the first Surveyor-General to the New Zealand Company. He left the colony with reluctance at the conclusion of his contract and resumed the practice of his profession in London. Brees is best known for the book he compiled from sketches he made while in New Zealand.

A case very soon occurred to try our position; one of the Assistant Surveyors had requested two of the cadets to take a chain and go some distance to measure a line.  The cadets then demanded a man to carry the chain.  The Assistant Surveyor refused and said that if they did not do what was wanted from them, then he would report their disobedience to the Chief Surveyor.  They told him to do so, as they must decline to do labourers’ work.

He thereupon reported the matter to Mr. Brees who complained to the Colonel, (1) but the only satisfaction he got from the Colonel was that, “the cadets were gentlemen and they were quite right to refuse to do labourer’s work.”  This decision was of course a great boon to us, and we took care to keep the advantage we had gained by always demanding and obtaining men to accompany us in any work that was given to us to do.

(1) Lieutenant-Colonel William Hayward Wakefield (1803–48), Principal Agent for the New Zealand Company in New Zealand. A cultured and competent administrator and an astute political negotiator, Wakefield had charge of the Company's settlement at a particularly difficult time. As executive and political head of the Wellington settlement, and as titular head of other Company settlements, he held an authority rivaling that of the Governor.

Nearly all the surveying in the districts around Wellington was in dense forest and everything required by the survey parties had to be carried on men’s backs.  A party consisted generally of an Assistant Surveyor and cadet, with six men.  Each man had a load to carry of about seventy pounds, which included rations for a week, blankets, cooking things, gun and surveying implements.  The Assistant and cadet carried nothing, not even the gun.  At the end of the week, the party having eaten their provisions had to return to Wellington for more, so that two days in the week were generally employed in going to and from the district being surveyed.

I rather think the New Zealand Company was at that time careless of the amount of money which they expended on surveys and other expenses connected with the Wellington settlement.  They had an agreement with the English Government that for every five shillings they expended they should be allowed an acre of land in New Zealand.  The expenditure of money was a very paying matter for them, especially as the money they expended on surveys and sending out immigrants was derived from the land sold to the settlers at £1 per acre, and which had cost them a trifle.  For every acre the Company sold to the Wellington settlers they were allowed four acres merely for having expended the £1 an acre received from the settlers.  I think that the same arrangement was carried out in regard to the Nelson settlement where the land was sold by the New Zealand Company for thirty shillings an acre.

The consequence of this was that when the New Zealand Company ceased carrying out colonising operations there was due to them on the above mentioned agreement about a million acres of land, for which they received about £250,000.  That sum being paid to the Company by the Colony, or rather by the Southern Provinces alone, on condition that they should in future have control of their own land fund.  This is generally called the Compact of 1856, which was destroyed by the Abolition of Provinces Act of 1876.  I am not quite certain as to all that I have stated above, as I have no documents to refer to, but generally I am not far wrong.

My first trip into the bush was about the beginning of April, 1842.  I and another cadet, Thomas H. Smith by name, were ordered to accompany Captain Smith on a journey of inspection into the Ohariu District, a valley six or seven miles from Wellington.  We started a party of nine, having six men with us to carry our food, blankets, etc.  After a hard day’s work walking over high hills all thickly wooded we descended into the Ohariu valley, where we camped out for the first time in my experience.

A hut open at the front was soon built, the long fronds of the tree fern forming the roof, and the leaves, stripped from the frond, served for bedding.  While this hut was being built, one of the men, appointed as the cook, soon had a large fire lighted and the kettle ready for tea to be made for our supper.  We all then sat down around the fire and enjoyed a hearty meal of salt beef and bread washed down with tea.  Our supper finished, Captain Smith kept us amused for an hour or so by telling us stories of his military life, and then we turned into out blankets, all side by side under the roof of the open hut, with our feet to the fire.

Before daylight, we were awoken by cried of “More Pork”, “More Pork”, from the owl, varied with harsh shrieks from the same bird.  As soon as daylight broke the Moka Moka and other birds made the whole bush lively.  We were soon out of our blankets, had a wash in the stream, breakfasted, packed up and on the march again.  This kind of life continued for five or six days, before we returned to Wellington.

The next matter of importance that I recollect was a great fire, (1) which began about twelve at night in a Baker’s shop on Lambton Quay and burned nearly all the houses fronting the beach for a mile towards Te Aro flat.  I was about the first person at the fire, having passed where it began only a few minutes previously and returned on seeing a glare of fire suddenly appear.

(1) Wednesday, 9th November, 1842. Jollie subsequently donated half a guinea to the fire relief fund (a repeated practice that ensured the publication of the ambitious 18 year-old's name in the colonial newspapers).

On reaching the Baker’s shop, which by that time was one mass of flame, I saw a man, with nothing on but his shirt, running down to the sea with a small basin in his hands, half filling it with water and running back to the burning house.  On account of the heat he could not approach nearer that forty or fifty feet, throwing what little water remained in the basin into the air towards the flames.   This he continued to do for some time, but I had other work to do than watching him.  The wind was blowing hard from the North West or right along the beach, where a great many of the houses were thatched with Raupo.  These caught fire at intervals, until there was a burning line of houses for more than half a mile.

Along with other persons who had reached the fire, I set to work getting people out of bed and wrapping them up in blankets out of the reach of the fire, doing our best to save property.  This was dangerous work, and I nearly lost my life by an explosion in a burning store, which sent a burning beam flying close past my head.

The fire, I believe, was a good thing both for Wellington and the inhabitants thereof, even for many of those who were burned out.  It was the means of better houses being erected.  It was also a valid excuse for the shopkeepers not to pay their debts to the merchants, and for the merchants not to pay their debts to their English correspondents.

Up to the middle of the year 1843, the natives, the Māoris of New Zealand, remained quiet and seemed inclined to acquiesce to the invasion of their country by peaceful colonists.   Large quantities of land had been bought from them by the New Zealand Company and others.  Speculators chiefly from the neighbouring colonies of Australia acquired many thousands of acres at the small cost of a few hatchets, blankets and old muskets.

The ownership of the land among the Māoris was of the most intricate nature, and disputes naturally arose between remote owners who had not been considered when the purchase was made (and who consequently had not received any portion of the “utu” or payment) and those who began to exercise acts of ownership.

 As the first act of ownership was the appearance of the Surveyor of the land, he and his party had in a few instances, before the middle of 1843, been turned off land they were surveying and told not to appear there again.

No serious attempt to oppose the surveys was made until Rauparaha (1) and Rangi-iata, (2) two chiefs living at Porirua and Waikanae (places on the west coast of the North Island, twelve and forty miles distant from Wellington) passed over the Cook Straits to Cloudy Bay and burned the surveyor’s houses in the Wairau Valley, (3) part of the Nelson Settlement.

(1) A boy when James Cook reached New Zealand, Te Rauparaha (1760c-1849), was a Māori chief and war leader of the Ngati Toa tribe. Seeking to buy vast areas of land, with a view to forming a permanent European settlement, a New Zealand Company expedition arrived at Kapiti Island on the 16th of October, 1839. Te Rauparaha sold the Company land in the area that later became known as Nelson and Golden Bay.

 

(2) Te Rauparaha's nephew, Te Rangihaeata (1780c-1855), his maternal uncle was the strategist and negotiator while Te Rangihaeata tended to be the blunt instrument and they were a good team. He is now remembered as a conservative patriot who resisted the displacement of his people and culture.

 

(3) The Wairau Affray on the 17th of June, 1843 was the first serious clash of arms between the Māori and British settlers after the signing of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and the only one to take place in the South Island. Four Māori died and three were wounded in the incident, while among the Europeans the toll was twenty-two dead and five wounded. Twelve of the Europeans were shot dead or clubbed to death after surrendering.

On being reported to Mr. Thompson, (1) Police Magistrate, and Captain Wakefield, (2) resident Agent of the New Zealand Company at Nelson, this was followed by warrants being issued against the two Chiefs for arson.  As they were known to have a number of other Māoris with them it was decided by the Nelson magistrates to send a large party of special constables to apprehend the chiefs.  These constables headed by Mr. Thompson, Captain Wakefield, Captain England, (3) Mr. Tuckett, (4) the Chief Surveyor of Nelson, and several other gentlemen sailed for Cloudy Bay in the Government brig and landing there marched to a small stream called Tua Marina which runs into the Wairau River.

(1) Henry Augustus Thompson (1815-1843). Described as a very hot-tempered and arrogant man, was killed by the Māori during this incident.

(2) Captain Arthur Wakefield, R.N. (1799-1843) was the second brother of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, founder of the New Zealand Company. Wakefield (Right) was killed by the Māori during this incident.

(3) Captain Richard England, J. P. (1803-1843) was killed by the Māori during this incident.

(4) Frederick Tuckett (1807-76), appointed on the 22nd of April, 1841 as Principal Surveyor and Civil Engineer to the New Zealand Company's Nelson settlement. A man of firm principles and stalwart in every sense, including a preference for his own opinions, Tuckett (Right) was always difficult to work with. This notwithstanding, he was an extremely competent engineer and surveyor and deserves an honoured place among the founders of the Nelson, Marlborough and Otago settlements.

 

It was on the other side of this stream that the natives were encamped when the party forming the Nelson expedition arrived.  The Chief’s were summoned to surrender, but they declined.  Orders were then given to cross the stream in a canoe and to execute the warrant by force.  While this was about to be carried out a musket supposed to belong to one of the Nelson party accidentally went off and it was said to have killed a native woman.  Upon which the Māoris made a rush towards the whites, who generally threw down their arms and bolted up the hill and away back to Cloudy Bay.  They did this without paying any attention to the commands and expostulations of their leaders who, with most of the gentlemen of the party, remained where they were until the natives came up.

The fugitives, on reaching the Government brig, explained what had occurred.  As a large number of the party, who had started on the expedition, had not returned, it was supposed that they had either been taken prisoners or killed.  The brig therefore started at once for Wellington to obtain assistance.

At the time she arrived there, I was up the Hutt Valley with another cadet.  Upon hearing the news that volunteers were required to go in the brig back to Cloudy Bay we immediately started for Wellington, with the intention of joining the force which was being collected to free our countrymen from the Māoris, or revenge them if they had been killed.

However, on arriving at Wellington, we found that Colonel Wakefield had given orders that none of the cadets should join the brig.  It was well that such orders had been given as the two or three hundred men who joined the brig that day had to remain on board for two days in the harbour.  A gale rose, which not only prevented her leaving the port, but it also blew so strong that no boats could communicate with her.

When the gale moderated, the volunteers were landed again at Wellington, and the brig left for Cloudy Bay to obtain intelligence.  In a few days, she returned with the fearful news that those who had remained to meet the Māoris, consisting chiefly of the gentlemen of the party, had been murdered.

It was afterward ascertained that Rauparaha and many other natives had joined Captain Wakefield, Mr. Thompson, Captain England and about a dozen other Englishmen who had not run away.  The two parties were amicably discussing matters of difference between them when Rangihiata, who was Rauparaha’s fighting general and the most cruel savage in New Zealand, came up to the group furious from a wound in the foot caused by the sharp point of a Manuka stump on which he had trodden in his haste.  It is said that Rauparaha, having been informed that his daughter was the woman who was killed, at once massacred the white men by tomahawking them with his own hands.

The Māoris then returned to the North Island expecting that the Colonists would attack them and take utu (payment) for the death of their countrymen.  This however, the Colonists were not in a position to do.

The population of Wellington, both town and country, did not exceed three thousand souls at that time and the fearful occurrence at the Wairau caused so much consternation that, instead of attacking the Māoris, we though only of defending ourselves.

Fortunately the natives living in Wellington and its immediate vicinity were friendly to us and remained so.  Otherwise it would have been easy for them, had they been united, to have destroyed Wellington and killed all the inhabitants.  As it was, we expected to be attacked and made the best preparations we could.  Arms were given out, all able-bodied men drilled and stockades were erected in which, in case of attack, the women and children might be placed.

The whole town was in a high state of excitement; all old soldiers were brought to the front to drill us and old officers of the Queen of Spain’s legion, of whom there were many in Wellington, commanded us.  At seven o’clock in the morning we were summoned to drill in squads of about forty or fifty and later in the day we went through our company’s exercise with muskets or rifles.  The rest of the day was employed excavating and wheeling barrows at the stockades, casting bullets and other warlike exercises.

I belonged to Rifle Company, of about fifty in number, under Major Durie, (1) this being the total quantity of rifles in the place.  We considered ourselves the crack corps and gave ourselves airs accordingly.  The rest of the fighting men were about four hundred in number armed with muskets and bayonets.  About eight cavalry commanded by Major Baker were dressed in the Lancers uniform, the rest of the cavalry uniforms being red serge shirts and red hunting coats.

(1) Major David Stark Durie (1804-1874). Inspector of Police and Commandant of the Rifle Corps of Volunteers. 

Durie (Right) subsequently led a detachment of armed police to Porirua, near Wellington, where the Māori chieftain Te Rauparaha was captured on the 23rd July, 1846.

 These corps also thought a great deal of their appearance, but as they could seldom appear within a hundred yards of each other on account of the waywardness of their horses and the lack of skill of their riders, they did not have the imposing and soldier-like appearance of the rifles.  They were however a very brave body of cavalry, though they took a queer way of showing it.

No doubt we should all have done our duty manfully had we been attacked, but fortunately the natives were not then acquainted with their own strength, and were as much afraid of us as we were of them.

I recollect one circumstance which used to make the rifle corps very angry.  When we were being put throughout facings, the younger Māoris living on the Pipitea and Te Aro Pa used to squat down in front of us and laugh and jeer.  Sometimes one or two of them would start up, and throwing their blankets aside, jump about to show us how they could dodge out bullets.  In a very indecent and irritating manner, but which seemed very much to please their compatriots, they would smack their thighs in our faces. (1)

(1) The Haka is a traditional posture dance, with shouted accompaniment.  Now practiced in bowdlerised forms, it is the most widely recognised example of New Zealand culture.

After being in this state of warlike preparation for a week or two and no enemy appearing to try our valour, we gradually became peaceable, and putting our arms aside we resumed our ordinary occupations which were not again interfered with during my stay in Wellington.
At the end of the year 1843, I and another cadet named Albert Allom (1) got a holiday for a few weeks, and we decided to go on a visit to the Manawatu River, which is situated on the west coast about 65 miles north of Wellington.

(1)  Son of Thomas Allom (1804-1872), who engraved the plates for the New Zealand Company lithographs of Charles Heaphy's watercolours, Albert James Allom (1825-1907), was a fellow survey cadet who accompanied Jollie to New Zealand aboard the Brougham in 1842. His father was a friend of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, to whom Albert became secretary and amanuensis in 1847.

We started about the last week in December, 1843 on a fine afternoon.  We were both in light marching order, my kit consisted of a Macintosh cloak on my back and a raised pork pie in one pocket of my coat, also I think an extra shirt in the other pocket, but of this I am not sure, and Allom was about equally provided with necessaries.

Our first day’s journey was a rough and hilly walk along a track through dense bush to Porirua harbour.  We stayed the first night at a hut belonging to an old whaler named Jackson, (1) who got his living by ferrying people across the harbour.

(1) Reputed to be one of the first settlers in New Zealand, Captain James Hayter Jackson (1800-1877) spent his early years living with Te Rauparaha on Kapiti Island.  

A whaler by 1828, he subsequently established a whaling station at Jackson's Bay in the Tory Channel of the Marlborough Sounds.

 

We each had a blanket given to us to sleep in and picked out the softest place in the room to lie down on.  We slept well, as youths of eighteen generally do, and got up ready for breakfast and another day’s journey.  But on lifting my coat from the floor I was horrified to find that rats had eaten through from the outside to the pocket and also through a handkerchief into my beautiful raised pork pie.  On opening the pie to see the state of the interior I found it empty of all meat and nothing left but the bare crust.

Thus lightened we were ferried across the Paremata Harbour to Geordie Thom’s (1) whaling station [above], where we had dinner and then walked over some miles more of hilly bush track to the coast.

(1) Married to a niece of Te Rauparaha, by which alliance he secured fine tracts of land, Geordie Bolts (1798-1852), whose proper name was Joseph Thoms or Toms, was a sealer, whaler and trader who lived around Cook Strait from 1823. 

A signatory to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, he was a short, stout man, with a trunk like a barrel, a bullet head, and standing firm on his legs, looked everyone straight in the face.

 

Our road was now plain before us and after walking four or five miles over rough rocky beach, we reached the hard sandy beach which continues uninterruptedly to Manawatu and Wanganui and still further north.  After walking for a few miles over the sand I became very tired.  My sedentary employment in the office had relaxed my leg muscles so much that, though we had not walked more that day than about fifteen or sixteen miles, I was very glad Allom proposed that we should stop a few miles short of our intended journey for the day at a small stream called the Wainui.

Here we found a hut occupied by an old whaler named Knott, (1) who gave us food and shelter for the night.  The next morning we crossed the Waikanae River and from thence to the Otaki River, where we found a large assembly of Māoris - more than a thousand.

(1) Probably “Butcher” Nott or Knott, whalers having occupied this area by 1817.

We obtained quarters in a hut kept by a white man named Pam Taylor, who had a temporary Māori wife and who took in travelers.  Staying in the house we found three other English gentlemen, named E. J. Wakefield, (1) son of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the author of The Art of Colonization and of the Colonies of New Zealand, Bertram White, (2) afterward a Resident Magistrate north of Auckland and Mr. Skipwith, (3) a son of an English baronet.

(1) Edward Jerningham Wakefield (1820–79) suffered, as his father put it, from “colonial habits”, the worst of them being intemperance as a result of which, what might have been a brilliant career terminated in disappointment (dogged by alcoholism he died penniless at Ashburton). But even if he failed to fulfill the precocious promise of his youth, Jerningham established a claim on the esteem of posterity, by his journeys and explorations and, above all, by the liveliness and colour of his book Adventure in New Zealand.

(2) William Bertram White (1821-1910), a New Zealand Company Surveyor, was later Sub Inspector of Police at Auckland, then Resident Magistrate of Mangonui 1848-1881.

(3) Possibly Robert Francis de Stuteville Skipwith.

These young gentlemen having nothing else to do were amusing themselves in studying the native character and making themselves agreeable to the young native ladies.  Wakefield, or “Teddy Wake” as the Māoris called him to distinguish him from his uncle, Colonel Wakefield, whom they called “Wide awake,” was a great favourite of the Māoris generally and lived a great deal among them.  But it seemed strange that he should choose Otaki as a place to stay as the Pa contained, at the time of my visit, both Rauparaha and Rangihiata, with their followers. These were the two chiefs who murdered his uncle, Captain Wakefield at the Wairau a few months before.

He used to ride about armed, until shortly after my visit I was told that Rauparaha had warned him that he had better go away, and like a wise man he went away.  We stayed two days at Otaki amusing ourselves among the natives who were very friendly to us.  There were many chiefs there from other places, and I expect it was a political gathering as there was a great deal of cooking going on of pigs roasted whole in Māori ovens or “umus”, with other food such as sharks, potatoes, kumara, etc.

Rauparaha was an oldish man of middle height, with a crafty look in his eyes; he was famous among his countryman as the most unscrupulous, wily, cruel, savage of a cruel and savage race, and his fighting general Rangihiata was the beau ideal of a savage, having all the ferocity of Rauparaha without being guided by any consideration for the future.

Both these chiefs, a few years after my visit to Otaki, were fighting against us and during an interval of peace, Rauparaha being suspected of plotting against us was taken prisoner by the Governor, Sir George Grey, (1) and confined on board a man-of-war, until it was supposed he could do no more harm when he was released.  He then turned pious and died peaceably about the end of the year 1849.

(1) Sir George Grey (1812-1898), Governor of New Zealand 1845–53 and 1861–68. Prime Minister 1877–79. 

Grey is reputed to have fallen short of greatness because he was too autocratic and egotistic in manner, lacked true self-control and could never recognise his own mistakes.

I have been told a good story of Sir George Grey in reference to Rangihiata.  During one of the outbreaks in which this chief was engaged in war against the Government, he had established himself, with his fighting men, in a Pa situated some distance from the coast in a place very inaccessible to English troops.

A temporary peace was made with him, when Sir George Grey made him a present of a carriage and horses, upon which Rangihiata set to work to make a road to his Pa by which he could travel in this carriage.  Soon after this road was completed, war again broke out, when Sir George Grey marched the troops along the road and quickly dispossessed Rangihiata from his stronghold.  It was supposed that the Governor, being both far-seeing and cunning, had purposely given the present, anticipating the result.

We stayed two or three days at Otaki enjoying the life among the Māoris and one night we gave them a great scare with a turnip lantern.  A large turnip was hollowed out with openings in it to represent eyes, nose, etc.  A light was then placed in it and given in charge of a white man on a dark night with orders to go into a flax swamp near the Pa and to hold it up every now and then in different places and to wave it about.

This he did and very soon attracted the notice of the Māoris, who immediately set up a great outcry and were much alarmed, most of them considered it a spirit of some kind, chiefly favouring the “Tipo” or devil.  But Mrs. Taylor, our host’s Māori wife, boldly asserted that it was the “Atua” or good spirit, that she was not afraid of it and that she would go and speak to it, at the same time rushing through the flax towards where it had last appeared.

This was more than we bargained for, and as we were afraid of the real cause of the appearance being discovered, we managed to inform the lantern carrier that he had better put the light out and return.  He did this without creating suspicion, and I have no doubt that for a long time after the natives discussed the nature of the apparition, which had so frightened them that night, and had long discussions as to whether it was the Atua or the Tipo.

We resumed our journey on a fine day and having crossed the Ohau, a river a few miles north of Otaki we walked merrily along the beach, until the tide rose so high that we were driven up off the hard sand into soft sand covered with drift timber.  This made it very tiring walking and delayed us so long that it was nearly dark when we arrived at the house to which we were bound, which was situated near the ferry over the Manawatu River.  We had been walking about ten hours, but at this time I stood the exertion much better than Allom, who was very tired.  I had some difficulty in getting him on for the last two or three miles.

The house we stopped at was kept by a white man with only the stumps of his arms left. (1)  These he had had blown off by a cannon in Wellington Harbour two or three years before I saw him.  He also had a Māori wife whom he kept in order by occasionally knocking her down with a canoe paddle, which he could hold somehow between his stump and breast.

(1) Fitted with steel hooks to replace his missing hands, Amos Burr (1822-1906), was commonly known as “Hookey,” or to the Māori as Te Mutu, which means mutilated or cut off.

The Colony of New Zealand was founded on 4th of January, 1840, with the hoisting of the British flag.  Ordinary Seaman Burr fired the saluting cannon aboard the Cuba, but his cannon misfired and exploded.  The 17 year-old's arms were torn off at the elbows and his bleeding body hurled into the sea.

He used the same weapon also on any other native who displeased him and used it with impunity as the natives were too noble-minded to retaliate on a cripple.  He used to say that if he did not thrash his Māori wife, she would thrash him, and this was the opinion of most Māori husbands of the white race, and from my own observation among those who had formed a Māori wife connection, I think they were right.

A common way for a Māori woman to show her displeasure with her white man, whether that displeasure was caused by jealousy or any other reason, was to break all the crockery and throw pots and pans and all moveable articles out of doors.  She would then disappear among her relations and refuse to return home until her anger was appeased by presents or promises.  These she knew would be forthcoming if her white man had previously shown weakness in his conduct towards her by treating her too well and not on all occasions properly asserted his authority over her by, if necessary, corporal punishment.

In the morning, after paying a trifle for our night’s lodging to the no-armed man, whose name I think was Burt, we obtained a small canoe and two paddles and started up the Manawatu on a very hot day.

This river was the largest I had yet seen in New Zealand:  vessels of a hundred tons can enter it and ascend about thirty miles, and the tide affects it about the same distance.  The current is gentle except in floods, and the average width of the navigable part is about a hundred yards.  It winds about very much so that we sometimes had the wind fair and sometimes ahead, and we had to be very careful in navigating out canoe that we did not upset her.

The land on each side of us as we ascended was low and flat, with here and there clumps of forest and land covered with the flax, Phormium Tenax, between.  The native kaingas or villages were numerous.  Altogether, except for the heat and mosquitoes, we enjoyed our river voyage exceedingly.

In the afternoon we reached our destination, the house of Mr. Cook, (1) situated about twelve miles from our starting place of the morning.  Mr. Cook had a better house than I had yet seen, it stood on the left hand river bank, and he also had a small jetty for the convenience of landing goods.  He traded with the natives, had a Māori wife, young, good looking and well-born, named E’kau, and one child, an infant.  A connection of his wife’s was also staying with him, named E’muka, a brother of Watenui, (2) the chief of the district and one of Te Rauparaha’s head followers.

(1) Thomas Uppadine Cook, J.P. (1816-1897), married Te Akau Meretini, the step granddaughter of Te Rauparaha. They had a family of ten children.

 

(2) Probably Te Muka, brother of Watanui, one of the principal chiefs of the Ngati Raukawa tribe.

On the evening of the day of our arrival at Cook’s I went to bathe in the river.  I dropped down the bank and believing that I was hid from all eyes, immediately undressed and had got to my last garment, when, hearing chattering and laughing near me.  I looked up the bank and there beheld a row of merry girls looking mischievous and intently watching my proceedings.

I hesitated a moment as to my further movements, but feeling the sharp bites on my bare legs of innumerable sand flies and mosquitoes, I threw my shirt and decency away and plunged into the river.   Remaining there until I saw a chance of regaining my clothing, with as little exposure as my dark feminine watchers would allow.

The sand flies and mosquitoes were dreadful, the former keeping us constantly alive by day and the latter by night.  The attacks of both were very severe and numerous for half an hour after sunset.  Allom and I had a bed given to us to sleep in, with a framework over it covered with Calico.  The front lifted up to let us get in, and then when shut we were pretty well safe from both mosquitoes and fresh air.  The want of the latter on a warm night became so intolerable that we soon opened the front of the bed frame, preferring phlebotomy by mosquitoes to asphyxia by suffocation.  We passed a miserable night constantly battling against innumerable bloodthirsty foes.  On comparing wounds in the morning, Allom was found to be covered from head to foot with thousands of inflamed red marks, while I was comparatively uninjured in the body.  The difference between us was probably owing to my keeping the bed clothes over me, while he kicked them off.

The framework over Mr. Cook’s bed was covered with gauze, which would let air in and out.  His way of going to bed I watched one night with great interest.  Having got E’kau and child and himself inside the gauze framework and the moveable front safely lowered and fixed, he lighted a candle and he and E’kau carefully examined the whole of the interior and killed any mosquitoes which might have entered.

After the first night, I changed my sleeping quarters to a hut at the rear of the house occupied generally by natives.  It had only one small room and a fire was always kept burning, not in an ordinary fireplace, for there was no chimney, but in the middle of the room.  This was for the convenience of the Māoris when they required lighting their pipes, cook potatoes or to sit over and have a korero or talk.  It was also admirably adapted for preventing the intrusion of mosquitoes and for this reason I obtained a corner in it, where I spread my blankets and slept comfortably during the remainder of my stay there.  The smoke was annoying at first, but by keeping one’s head low down, it was not unbearable and a thousand times less objectionable than the mosquitoes.

E’muka was the only Māori man allowed inside the house except for temporary occasions.  It was necessary for both comfort and cleanliness that this should be a rule, as most of the natives were not very particular in keeping their persons clean. Neither do I ever recollect their using a small tooth-comb though there were very few of them, but would have been less lively had they done so.

The dress usually worn by the native men was in those days either a blanket or native mat and by the women the same except the younger girls, who generally wore what used to be called a “roundabout” made of calico print, in the form of a woman’s night-dress.

Sometimes when they became possessed of a white man’s garments, they would come out in extraordinary rig, such as a cocked hat and shirt.  Only instead of the arms of the wearer being inserted in the sleeves, they would invert the article and thrust their legs in them.  While travelling along the beach on this trip we passed a great chief and his wife, the latter “Mrs. Teratoa” looking proud, with a white Beaver hat on her head and an old pair of trousers on her legs.

To return to E’muka whom I left on the last page, he was the protector of the house, and I have no doubt considered Mr. Cook as his white man, that is, he kept the Māoris from annoying him and expected certain presents in return and house room and food when he required them.
He was a solemn man, tall and active, and rather benevolent looking, with very quiet manners when not excited.  His age could have been from thirty to fifty.  The tattoo all over a man’s face will not allow the usual lines to appear by which to judge of age, and as grey hair does not show itself until a native gets very old, and he seldom or never gets bald, it is very difficult to decide his age within twenty years or so.

E’muka kindly patronised us and took us in his canoe (“waka” in Māori) on an expedition to catch eels, to visit other natives living on the river bank, and to shoot ducks which were very plentiful on some large lagoons on the northern side of the river.  We achieved access by hauling the canoe over the river bank and then along an open ditch through the swamp to the lagoons.

He was also my antagonist at the game of Draughts and played better than any other man that I ever played with.  He was the first player I ever met who could beat me easily, and I used to play well.

He had a wife whose name I forget and a nice pleasant looking daughter about thirteen years of age, which Mrs. E’muka proposed should at once become my wife in exchange for my Macintosh cloak, which had very much taken her fancy.  This arrangement however I was hardly prepared to accept and so declined the alliance although E’wika, for that was the name of my intended, I could see was not averse to the connection proposed by her mother.

One morning E’muka returned from an expedition he had made to a kainga in the neighbourhood, and brought back a fine canoe and gun with some other smaller articles.  These things I learnt on enquiry he had taken for his own use from another native who had committed a breach of Māori law.

This law provided for the punishment of an offender by the loss of all his goods and chattels.  The other natives in the neighbourhood were the self-constituted jury who decide upon his guilt.  Which being proved their satisfaction, they immediately rush to his whare or hut and despoiled him of everything he possessed.  The culprit far from being angry or desirous to hide his goods showed a pleasant countenance and assisted in the execution of the law with finding and appropriating them, being proud that he is rich enough to supply plenty of plunder.  This is the punishment of a free man who has offended, but in regard to slaves it is much more severe as I shall shortly show.

We remained at the Manawatu River for about a fortnight and started off on our return to Wellington on or about the 11th January 1844.

The night before we left there was a great talking going on among several Māori men and women who gathered together round the fire which was kept burning all night in the middle of the hut in which I slept.  As far as I could understand the matter under discussion, it appeared that a slave, then living at a Pa on the Ohau River, had in some way committed a breach of Māori etiquette in regards to a young lady.  She was a relation or connection of one of the men having the korero [discussion] around the fire.  It was decided that this male friend of the young lady should at once proceed to Ohau and take utu (revenge or payment for the offence).  In accordance with this decision he made a start early next morning, a little before Allom and I began our return journey.

We secured a canoe to take us the first twelve miles of our journey, the crew consisting of two Māori girls.  As there was a heavy flood in the river, we were not long in paddling down to the landing place near its mouth, where we bade farewell to our crew and started on foot to walk along the beach to Otaki, a distance of about twenty miles.  Fortunately the tide was low, and we had good hard walking along the sandy beach and reached Otaki that afternoon.

Before getting there however, on passing Ohau Pa, we learned the finale of the offence committed by the Māori slave.  We were told that the avenging Māori had reached the Pa and on entering had recognised the offending slave sitting quietly with other natives in front of a whare or hut.  The slave on observing the other man, seemed to understand the object of his visit, as he quietly hid his face in his blanket and waited events, the other Māoris present not interfering.  Where upon the utu seeker or avenger drew a tomahawk from under his blanket and split the slave’s head open.  I believe this was according to native law, but whether it was or not, I never heard that either the Māori or English law ever took steps to punish the murderer.

The next morning we continued our homeward journey and at night slept on the beach somewhere near the river Wainui and the next day we reached Wellington after a very pleasant holiday.

The natives, since the Wairau massacre, had kept generally friendly.  Now and then a party of Surveyors would be cautioned not to trespass on certain lands, which the natives considered had not been fairly purchased from them, and once or twice a settler was found murdered on the land he was clearing.

I recollect being up the Hutt [river valley] surveying with a party on the western hills of the valley, when a party of Māoris made their appearance and began to fill up the lines we cut through the trees as fast as we made them.  As soon as the theodolite was fixed they immediately commenced cutting down a tree, which would fall upon the theodolite.

We persevered for some time and pretended that we did not notice what they were doing, but at last they became more demonstrative, and the leader stripping himself stark naked, came towards us with a long handled tomahawk in his hands and asked us if we wanted to fight.  We, of course, assured him that on the contrary, we wished to be friendly with him, upon which he ordered us to “be off” and we went off, accordingly leaving the native masters of the field.

Another time I surveyed a section of land - near the same place as the above occurred.  It was for a man whose name, I think, was Rush.  He was with me and I showed him the boundaries of his section.  A few weeks afterwards he went to live on his land and had not been there many days when he was murdered, no doubt by the natives, but I never heard that the murderer was discovered.


An amusing Māori incident occurred in which I was a participator.  The Survey Office at Wellington was situated on Thorndon Flat [above], not far from Pipitea Pa, where a large number of natives lived.  One day a policeman was taking a Māori to the lock-up, and for fear of losing him, had fixed one of the handcuffs on the prisoner’s wrist and the other on his own.

Thus yoked together they arrived in front of the Survey Office.  Where upon a party of Māoris from the Pa rushed upon the scene, and in a good-humoured manner one man seized hold of the prisoner and the others each got hold of his fellow in front, until there was a long string of them pulling like sailors at a rope.  We in the office to the number of about six or seven immediately went out to see the fun.  When the policeman called upon us in the Queen’s name for assistance, we immediately hooked on to him and each other, and pulled away vigorously, while one of the Māoris gave the word, sailor fashion, with a Yo-Ho-Ho.

Something was bound to give way, either the handcuffs or wrists.  Which it was to be, I hardly knew, but suddenly the prisoner and policeman parted company and I saw the former standing naked with the other natives around him trying to persuade him to run away.  This he did not seem inclined to do; the whole affair had confused him so much that he could not act.  However, a native took hold of him on each side and another belaboured him on his bare back with the flat side of a Māori spear.  He then started to run away and that was the last I saw of him and I don’t think that he was ever retaken.

The Māoris were always very jealous of any of their number being imprisoned.  It was so contrary to their own system of punishment and they could not understand the necessity of it.  It would have certainly appeared to them an abuse of power on our part.  Imprisonment to a native must have been a much more serious punishment to him than to an Englishman as it entailed a loss of caste if he was a Rangitira [chieftain] or gentleman.  It was also dreaded on account of its novelty and uncertainty.

In 1844 I took a trip to the Wairarapa Valley east of Wellington, my companions being Whitehead, (1) one of the Assistant Surveyors, Abbott and Leather.  The latter I met more than thirty years afterward in the billiard room of the Christchurch Club, (2) never having met or heard of him in the meantime.  He told me he was living in Sydney as manager or inspector of a bank or insurance company, I forget which.

(1) Arthur Whitehead arrived with Jollie aboard the Brougham in 1842 as an Assistant Surveyor. In 1848 he was the author of A Treatise on A Practical Surveying as Particularly Applicable to New Zealand and other Colonies.

(2) Jollie was one of the founders of the Christchurch Club in 1856. The man that he met at the Club was probably Edward Charles Latter, by then a Stock and Station Agent. The other Assistant Surveyor was Edward Immyns Abbot, a talented artist and musician whose name is perpetuated in Abbotsford and Abbotshill at Dunedin.

We stayed a few days at Mr. Bidwells’ (1) Station and then returned.  Only the lower part of the Valley was then occupied and chiefly taken up by the sheep stations of Messrs. Clifford & Weld, (2) Bidwell and Russell Bros., who had not occupied their stations many months.

(1) Charles Robert Bidwell, J.P. (1820-1874) was the first to take sheep into the Wairarapa district and later became one of the leading run holders in the Dominion.

(2) Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld (1823–91), pastoralist, statesman and British colonial Governor. Weld joined his cousin, Charles Clifford, and two friends in taking up a sheep run on land leased from the Māori in 1844. The station site at Wharekaka, on Palliser Bay, proved unhealthy and in 1847 Weld and Clifford transferred their headquarters across Cook Strait to Flaxbourne, south of the Wairau Plains.

In coming back we found a difficulty in getting round the Muka Muka rocks in Palliser Bay (1) as the sea was washing round them and we got very wet and were in danger of being washed away.  Since then, during the earthquake of 1854, which was a very severe one, the whole coast was raised four or five feet so that there is now no difficulty in getting along between the rocks and sea.

(1) The treacherous Mukamuka Rocks on the western side of Palliser Bay were lifted by nine feet in the earthquake of the 23rd of January 1855.

On the 8th February 1845, my engagement with the New Zealand Company terminated in common with all the rest of the Survey Staff, and as the Company was in some sort of difficulties at the time, we had all to look out for other occupation.

On the above date I took passage in the Government brig Victoria under the command of Captain Richards, which was sailing on that day for Nelson.  Mr. T. Cass, (1) afterward Chief Surveyor of Canterbury, was then second mate of her.  I was going to Nelson to join my brother Francis, who had started farming operations near Nelson on a section of land in a district called Wakapuaka by the Māoris or “Hokey-pokey” by the vulgar English.


(1) Thomas Cass, J.P. (1817-1895) New Zealand Company Surveyor at Wellington from 1841. Cass (above) was Assistant Surveyor Canterbury Association from 1849, then Chief Surveyor from 1851.