MORE STORIES OF OLD SETTLERS
MR. PHILLIP RYAN
In the long gully that runs up to the reserve for half-castes, from the back of the former site of Joblin's mill, now a part of Mr. Montgomery's estate, in the Western Valley, Little River, there is a comfortable whare of the old type in a very snug corner by the creek side, which the winds pass by and the morning sun shines on.
Here with his son dwells Mr. Phillip Ryan, one of those Peninsula pioneers whose life has been one long struggle in the van of colonisation. He is a man of fine presence, and must have possessed great strength in his time. Even now, after a long and toilsome life that has nearly reached ninety years, he is full of intelligence, and by no means wanting in bodily as well as mental vigour. He lives up here in the hills with his son, who is a half-caste, Mr. Ryan having married a Maori many years ago, who was his good and faithful wife till death came.
He was born in Ireland in 1802, and his father was in the Commissariat Department of the British army during the Peninsula war. To Lisbon he went with his mother very early in the nineteenth century, and his early years were passed in following the movements of the gallant men whom Wellesley eventually led to victory. It was only a month before Waterloo that he returned with his family to England.
His early life had given him a taste for wandering and adventure, and when peace came, he sought the sea, and made five voyages out of London. He was at the North Sea fishery, and there served in a vessel of which our well-known Hempleman was mate. He was for a time in the navy, and then he turned his attention to the South Seas.
Here he was cast away on his first voyage on one of the Society Islands. After this he made his way to Sydney, and from thence came to Otago in the schooner Return in 1838. Here he stopped for a time, but afterwards went in the same vessel to Timaru, where he was engaged during the whaling season of 1839. From thence he and two other men went to Oashore. They were fitted out with all requisites for whaling by Mr. Waller, of Sydney, and got plenty of hands to help them from the runaway sailors who left ships in Otago and Akaroa, for at that time there were a great many ships coming in. Mr. Price was at Ikeraki at that time, and there were whaling stations at Peraki and Akaroa also.
On August 9th, 1840, which was a glorious day, Mr, Ryan saw a man-of-war's boat pulling into the Bay at Oashore, and a lieutenant soon landed, and, coming up to the house, asked him if he could give any information regarding the Comte de Paris. The Lieutenant told him he belonged to a British vessel of war named the Britomart. Ryan told the Lieutenant that a man named "Holy Joe" (the same mentioned by James Robinson Clough) had come over the hill that morning and could give all the news.
"Holy Joe" told the Lieutenant that the Comte de Paris had been in Pigeon Bay, and that some of her people had landed, and had cut their names in the trees in that locality now known as Holmes' Bay, but that no French flag had been hoisted, and there seemed to be no intention to land anything from the ship. This was all the news Joe could give and as it was late the Lieutenant and his crew stopped at Ryan's house that night, and left at 4 a.m. so as to be back in Akaroa at the ship by 8 a.m. There were boats ready to intercept the Comte de Paris if she had attempted to enter Akaroa Harbour, and a party went over the hills to Pigeon Bay, led by some Maori guides, to see no landing was effected there, and no French flag hoisted.
At noon on the 10th the flag was formally hoisted by Captain Stanley, who was in command of the Britomart, and a formal proclamation made by Mr. Robinson, the Government agent on board, taking possession of the South Island in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. It was Mr. Robinson who conducted all the subsequent transactions with the French, and Mr. Ryan speaks of him as a most able and kindly man.
The guns fired to salute the newly hoisted standard were distinctly heard at Peraki, Oashore and Ikoraki, the wind being light, and the day exceedingly fine. After that season Ryan went to Port Levy, Mr. Waller, having failed. Thence he started a fishery at Motonau on his own account, but that was a failure, and so he came back to Port Levy, where he lived many years, being sawing most of the time with Tom White, who is still alive and hearty.
He went two trips to America during this period, and one to Napier as mate of a brig, and in this latter excursion had the misfortune to break his leg. He used to carry the mail to Akaroa through the bush, and says he thought the trees on the way would not be cleared for a hundred years, but they are all gone now. The mail then used to go once every two or three months, when a ship came in.
The steamers then began coming about, and the whalers deserted the coast. Besides, whale oil fell in price, and so from all these causes the whale fishery was, in a great measure, discontinued.
Ryan remembers Mr. Fleming's first arrival in Port Levy. He came out in the Sir George Seymour, one of the first four ships, and he and Mr Arthur Waghorn, now of Little Akaloa, walked over the hills. Ryan says they had had good clothes on when they started, but in their passage through the bush these had been torn all to pieces, and they were in tatters on arrival.
Tom White came to Ryan, and asked him to entertain them, as his whare was so very untidy, because he had so many youngsters about; and so Ryan did. Ryan was the first man who sawed timber in Little River. He worked with an Australian native, named Green. Ryan was a cooper by trade, and it was that which made him so important at the whale fisheries.
Mr. Ryan is very anxious to correct an error in the first edition of the Banks Peninsula Stories, which states that James Robinson Clough was an American. He says he knew him well, and all about his family, and he was a native of Lincoln, England.
Mr Ryan declares that the Maoris of the Peninsula were an amicable and honest lot of people, who never harmed anyone materially. He declares that the greatest violence ever offered was to take the tobacco, and perhaps part of the clothing of a runaway sailor, but says that, even then, they never allowed their victim to go hungry.
The old gentleman was cooking whilst the writer was there, and a very good cook he is, but he is exceedingly reticent, as most are who have lived much in the bush. His greatest trouble is the gradual failing of his sight, which prevents him from reading. His son is one of the finest men it has been the writer's lot to see, and would make a model for the Farnese Hercules. He and his father are much attached, and lead a very pleasant and homely life in this lonely whare, hidden in the spurs of the great ranges.
MR. THOMAS WHITE
Mr. Thomas White, though he must be over 80 years of age, is very hale and hearty, and lives with his son, Mr. George Wright, in their pleasant home at the head of Holmes' Bay.
Like many of our pioneers, he is an old sailor, and also a whaler, and in his long acquaintance with the Peninsula has seen it advance from a Maori populated resort of occasional whalers, to the pleasant home of 5,000 Europeans. Mr. White is an American, having been born at Rhode Island.
He became an orphan at a very early age, his father being killed in one of the Mexican wars, and his mother dying, and his youthful days were spent under the roof of a friend of his dead parents.
Rhode Island, as many people know, is a great place for shipping, and at 14 Mr. White went to sea. He learnt the ropes in several uneventful voyages, the only part of which he seems to care to dwell upon being a quarrel with the mate of a whaler at Rio Janeiro, which ended in his being left at that port, whence he shipped to England, arriving on the Thames on the very day of King William the Fourth's coronation.
He shipped in a London whaler called the Timour, and in her he spent three years, one of his shipmates being our own Billy Simpson, formerly living in the Akaroa hospital.
The first part of New Zealand he visited was the Bay of Islands, to which place he came from England in a whaler called the Achilles. He left her at this place, and went to Sydney in the Sir William Wallace. In Sydney he joined another whaling brig, called the Genii, and spent thirteen months in her on the New Zealand coast. His next vessel was the Caroline, belonging to Johnny Jones, of Otago, and on her being sold in Sydney he came to Wakaouiti in a brig commanded by Captain James Bruce, as a passenger. This vessel landed twenty-three horses, which were amongst the first brought to this colony. From Wakaouiti he went to Otago, and was there engaged by Paddy Wood to go fishing at Oashore, and lived at that place some years, working for Price some part of his time.
During this time Bloody Jack's men killed a North Island boy, but otherwise all was quiet: the whaling being very profitable sometimes, and an exceedingly poor game at others. Went to Port Levy, and from there made a journey to Riccarton for food, getting fifteen bushels of wheat from a store deposited by Gilbert and Harridge. At this time there were only two Maoris at Port Levy and none in Pigeon Bay, but they kept coming in their sea-going canoes, many being from the North Island, and soon there were quite strong settlements at both places.
An old man named Jack Duff sold some bone and had money in his possession about this time, and mysteriously disappeared. His wife last saw him in the company of a Spaniard and a man known as "Flash Harry." Provisions were very dear at times, twenty-fire dollars being sometimes given for a barrel of flour.
The Maoris as a whole were very good to the whites, and Bloody Jack himself was a very good fellow indeed. Once he came to White's house and demanded food. It was given him of course, and a short time after a hog was sent as a present in return.
At Port Levy Mr. White married, and soon began to have a family around him. A tragedy took place when his son Harry was a baby. A Dutch whaling ship put into Port Levy, and the carpenter and several others deserted. The third mate made himself very active in arresting the men and caught two, and got them back to the ship. The carpenter came to White's house, and the mate after him. White was on the veranda with Harry, the baby in his arms, and the carpenter and two runaways were sitting at a table inside the house. The mate ordered the carpenter aboard, but, instead of obeying, he shot him through the heart with a pistol that was in his possession. Word was sent to Wellington, but the ship was away before any steps were taken, and so nothing was done. Had the doctor of the ship remained behind, no doubt the man would have been hung,
The natives used to travel over the hills easily in those days of no roads. White has known a party to take two tons of dog fish to Little River, the Maoris there bringing in exchange two tons of eels. An old Maori bearing the pleasant name of Rakika- kinoki was specially celebrated for the way in which he travelled the hills. White was at Port Levy when the Flemings came out, in 1855, bat a few years later went to Pigeon Bay. The Bay was full of sawyers at that time, and a man named Billy Webb, who kept a shanty at a place called the Pillar, on the road between Pigeon Bay and Holmes' Bay, had sometimes as many as forty boarders. One of these boarders fell over on the rocks and smashed his head, and the question of foul play was raised,, but it is probable it was a pure accident.
Several vessels were built at Port Levy and Pigeon Bay. White himself assisted in building one 18 -ton craft, and Damon built several. A vessel was built for the natives at Nelson, and on her arrival Damon offered them twelve cows for her, and cows were cows in those days, but they would not sell. The Maoris grew many vegetables, and kept many pigs at that time, and as a whole dealt fairly with the whites. There was a big plantation of Kumara near where Mr. Menzies' house now stands, and it appears to be the only place where these roots have ever been successfully grown on the Peninsula.
Mr White's life has been uneventful in Pigeon Bay. He has reared a large family, who have lived happily together till, in the ordinary course of things, they married, and went to houses of their own. After the whaling, White took to sawing and other work like the rest, and eventually settled on a small farm. A hardy and enterprising pioneer, he has done his share in reclaiming the wilderness and peopling it, and in spite of his advanced age, is still hearty. Let us hope that he has still many years of quiet happiness before him, amongst his children and grand children.
MR. WILLIAM ISAAC HABERFIELD
This old identity has a most interesting history, for particulars of which we are indebted to the Dunedin Evening Star. His narrative is as follows:
"I was born in Bristol on the 3rd June, 1815, about a fortnight before Waterloo was fought. There is the entry, in the Bible, in my father's hand- writing. He was a Captain in the navy this is his portrait in his uniform and owing to his position, I was placed as a youngster in the upper school at Greenwich, a school for the sons of naval officers.
As soon as I was old enough I went to sea, joining a brigantine that was trading to the Mediterranean for fruit and the first work I ever did was to handle a ballast shovel. In this ship we made trips not only to the Mediterranean, but also to Portugal and Spain, and we were for some time running to Newfoundland. I next joined His Majesty's brig Snake, as a middy, and went away in her to the Brazilian coast, where she was employed by Admiral Seymour in chasing pirates and slavers. The Admiral was there in the Spartiate, his headquarters being Rio.
My next experience was a voyage to the Colonies. I joined a ship that was bringing out a batch of male convicts, shipped at Sheerness, and bound for Tasmania, or Van Dieman's Land, as it was then called. Since then I have never left the Colonies. I got clear of the vessel in Sydney, and came from that port to New Zealand. This is as much as you need to know of my early life, which was a lively one, as you may guess, but of course what you want to know is what took place after I came to New Zealand. Well! I'll tell you,
I came to Otago in a brig named the Micmac, and landed at Otago on the 17th March, 1836 (St. Patrick's Day). The very day after we landed, we killed a couple of fair- sized whales right up in the harbour. They were the first whales I ever saw killed. The boats were not away more than twenty minutes before they had them both, and they were killed in a twinkling.
And I want to say here that we had two white women on board. Make mention of that, please. I'll tell you why. I had a regular laugh to myself when I read in one of the papers a little while ago that Mrs. Tom Jones was the first white woman to come to Otago. It shows what a precious lot they knew about it. Why, there was Mrs. Brinn. She came down from Sydney with her husband in the Bee brig long before Mrs. Jones, and was here in Otago tor some three years, eventually going back to Sydney with her husband, who was whaling at Waikouaiti and Otago. Brinn Point was named after her, from the circumstance that she frequented the spot to look out for the boats, when they were after whales. And the women we brought in the Micmac were here before Mrs. Brinn was. One of them was Mrs. Flood, and the other was Mrs. Garrett. They came with their husbands.
Garrett was a sawyer to trade, and went away in the brig the same trip, taking his wife with him. Flood was the storekeeper of the vessel, and left New Zealand again in the October or the November following our arrival. He had been a sergeant in the army and a nice fellow he was. Neither the Garretts nor the Floods had any children. The owners wouldn't bring anyone that had any children or encumbrances as they were called.
But I am getting off my course. I was going to tell you how I came here. This brig that I came in, her captain was a Welshman I forgot his name. I think he owned the vessel, he did so far as we knew. A whaler? No, she wasn't a whaler; she was a merchant vessel, loaded up with a general cargo for the Wellers' place.
No, I don't suppose you do know much about the Wellers, but they were big people in those days, as you may believe when I tell you that they had then twelve vessels whaling for them. There were two brothers, one was George, and the other was named Edward, or it may have been Edwin, I am not sure which. They had the only store in the place anywhere about these parts, and a pretty big store it was. It was in the harbour Otago Harbour it was called what you call the Lower Harbour now.
No! the store was not exactly on the Heads. It was on the point next to what is now known as Harrington Point, close to what you know as the Kaik. Edward, or Edwin Weller was there himself. He and his brother were among the oldest colonists in New South Wales. The Mr. Weller I am speaking of had been a prisoner among the Maoris at Hokianga in his young days, and while there had got to understand the Maoris and speak their language. He never owned any land, either in the North Island or the South, though he might have had as much as he could see almost for the asking.
He was just a trader, and he stuck to his business. He is, I believe, alive now in New South Wales a very old man he must be. The store that he had was always well stocked with all kinds of slops and other things, and they used to sell as cheap or cheaper, than you can get things now. You could buy a splendid blanket for ten shillings, and I don't suppose you'd get it for much less now.
No, that was not the only whaling station on this part of the coast. Afterwards there were stations at Waikouaiti and at the mouth of the Taieri, and to the north there were stations at Timaru and Banks Peninsula, which used to be a famous place for whales in those days. But those stations were all planted after my time. If you want to know which was the first whaling station in this part of the country, I should say it was the one at Preservation Inlet. I have heard so. That was a very old one.
The next was the one at Otago, where I came to. Then came our place at Moeraki, and the season after we started they set up a station at Waikouaiti. Johnny Jones? No. No one had even heard of Johnny Jones then. The people that started whaling at Waikouaiti were Long, Wright, and Richards, They were Sydney merchants. They whaled one season and then they pitched it up, failed, I believe and it was then that Johnny Jones came on the scene; he bought them out in Sydney, taking their boats, huts, slops, other stores, gear, try-pots, and everything they had.
Jones sent down the barque Magnet, under Captain James Bruce, to take possession. Bruce dropped his anchor in Waikouaiti Bay in the middle of the night, and before daylight had padlocked the store- house and taken charge of everything movable. The men, who at this time had not been paid, were inclined to rebel, and John Miller, who was away in charge of a boat at the time of the seizure, refused on his return to give up the boat. Eventually, I believe, the men got a passage to Sydney, and obtained the money due to them from Messrs Long, Wright, and Richards.
But we must hold on. I am going on a bit too fast. I came down, as I was going to say, under engagement to the Wellers. I and the others were under agreement to the firm for the whaling season, which, for bay whaling, reckoned from the middle of March to the middle of October.
They kept me for shore work mostly, giving us all sorts of jobs in summer time, when, as I have said there was no whaling. One of the things we did was to go to Purakanui to blast stones and put up a fishing station there. One of our head men was a Sydney native named Hughes, a real smart fellow either for shore work or in the boats, especially about whales. He had a fancy to leave the Wellers, and did so in the Jane or July after we arrived. Two American vessels called in, and he went with them.
One of these was named the Merrimac, and the other was the Martha. Captain Potter was master of the Martha, They were bound for Banks Peninsula after fish, and a rare good time of it they had. As I was told afterwards, they filled up in Peraki Bay just about as fast as the men could work. Well, when they were full they came our way again, bringing Hughes with them. He was all a-go to have a try on his own hook. He had brought two boats with him and a complete fit out for starting a station, these things having been got from the Yankee ships, and he at once set about getting together a party from those of us who were willing to join. Our time with Mr Weller was up in October as I have told you, and six of us agreed to go in with Hughes. We went round in boats to have look at the place which he had selected, Moeraki Point, as the site for the station, and everyone could see at once that a better spot could not be wished for. There was good shelter, sound anchorage, a nobby landing, and plenty of wood, besides which Moeraki was a very pretty place, and above all there were plenty of fish about. So we thought it a good spec to join Hughes.
There were three partners in the affair; Hughes and a man named Thompson, and Sivatt, a cooper. The cooper was a very important man in all whaling parties, for d'ye see, we always get the staves down in. 'Shocks,' You know what shocks are ? Yes, bundles of staves, and he had to rattle them together, and this took him all his time. I've seen any amount of those chaps that would put together their twenty tuns a day single-handed.
Well, as I was going to say, we were all on a '”lay.” You know what a lay is, I suppose? If you are on a 100th, when a 100 tons are got you get one, and when you are on a lay they find you; that's the difference between a lay and going shares. If you are on shares you find yourself, but of course you get a bigger chance than in a lay. The men get different interests according to agreement.
A pulling hand will get, say, one share, a steerer one and a-half, and a headsman two shares just as is agreed on. As I said, there were three partners in the spec, and the rest of us were on a lay six of us white men and six Maoris that we brought with us from Otago. They were fine strapping fellows. We had our eyes open in getting them to join the party. You see, we got on very well with the Maoris, but there was just a chance that that state of things wouldn't last forever, and it seemed to us that we had a double chance of securing a peaceful and quiet time by having these chaps with us. They were sons of chiefs, and if the worst did come to the worst we had them with us, don't you see?
Hughes was the head man of our party. We sailed from Otago in the Magnet brig, Captain Bruce the man I referred to a while ago; you must have heard of him; he died at Akaroa some time ago, and we cast anchor just inside of the point where the lighthouse now is on the day after Christmas, 1836. And a beautiful place it was. The bush was growing right down to the edge of the water.
"Everything was quiet and untouched by anyone and I doubt whether men had ever landed, for the pigeons would come and light on your heads, and the Kakas weren't frightened when they saw us. The only thing that was short was water. There was but one pool on the peninsula and there is only one now, strange to say. You can't get water anywhere else, and all we get now is from the roofs of the houses. The water in the pool isn't fit to use excepting for cattle. It took us two days to land our things from the brig. There were a good many things to get ashore, and the try- pots were heavy. At last we got everything out of the Magnet, and she went away.
There were very few Maoris here in Moeraki. A small party (some nine, all told), under Tongatahara, lived at the point, but none of the present tribe were here. Tongatahara's people went to Akaroa soon after we came, and during our second season the tribe now living at Moeraki came from Kaiapoi. I mean, of course, the fathers and grand- fathers of these natives, only two or three of the old ones are left. Rauparaha had driven them from their original holdings. It is scarcely correct to call them a tribe, either; they were the remnants of five tribes or hapu, all that were left after Rauparaha repeated massacres and came down here to keep out of his road, since, although he had been badly beaten in Cloudy Bay, they lived in constant dread of his reappearance. It was about 1838 that the Maoris first came to Moeraki. They made the trip in canoes and one whaleboat, which they had picked up somewhere a worn-out old thing that some of the whalers had very likely cast off or given to them. When we saw the fleet coming we hadn't the least idea what the purpose of the expedition was, and you may guess that we were pleased to find out later on that the uninvited settlers were peaceably inclined. Of course we soon got to see a good deal of the Maoris, end we always got on very well with them.
We started the first season with two boats, six oars in each, and our venture turned out very well, Whales were plentiful and not hard to take. They used to come right into the bay, and there were so many of them that we could most always pick the ones we wanted.
As I said, we landed at Moeraki the day after Christmas, and commenced in March, and by the end of the season for bay whaling (the middle of August) we had taken twenty-three whales. That was not at all bad. They came to somewhere about eighty or ninety tons of oil. We had no difficulty in getting rid of it. There were any number of traders ready to make a deal and go anywhere for it.
The first vessel that came to our station was a brigantine about ninety tons, called the Sydney Packet. She came in July, bringing us provisions and shocks to carry on with, and prepared to trade for our oil and bone. While she was laying to an anchor in the bay there a gale got up and she came ashore. There was no life lost, indeed, there was no one hurt. First the stock of her anchor gave way, and then she got another one down and the chain parted, and away she came, quiet and comfortable like, on to the beach. They took care to put her on a soft place, and all hands got ashore without any flurry. We tried to get her off, but could not do so, and we gradually broke her up. We got our oil out of her she had six or seven tons in her hold at the time and we also got her boats and cut away the rigging, and in fact all the movable things about her. The beach was a steep one then, and she lay pretty close in. All the things that we saved were taken away by the Magnet when she next called.
The life we led there was a jolly one. There was plenty of work, and fair pay for it, though we thought it rather hard that the vessels would give us no more than £14 a ton for the oil and one shilling a pound for the whalebone. These were carefully measured and weighed out on the beach before any of the stuff left us, and I can tell you we looked sharply after our own interests.
The only thing that bothered us was that we hadn't got too much of a change in tucker. We had a bit of beef at first all salt, mind you but that soon ran out, and then we lived on fish and Kakas and pigeons, and for vegetables we had to fall back on fern root, with a few potatoes now and then, which we had to go down to Otago for.
We also brought some pigs up, and they were the first ever seen in Moeraki. We built styes for them, and kept them as long as we could, but we couldn't go on finding food for them, as we wanted all our tucker for ourselves, so we had to let them go, and they were the first of the pigs that afterwards spread all over this part of the country.
As soon as we could spare the time we made gardens, and then we were all right. We had heaps of fish and spuds, and if that kind of food will make a man a Maori, I must be as much a Maori as anyone in the country.
After the first season Hughes went over to Sydney for a trip. If I haven't told you before, you may as well write down here that Hughes died in Hampden somewhere about seven years ago, upwards of eighty years of age, and he was buried there. He was just the sort of man for early colonial life. He could do anything, and had seen everything there was to see this side of the world, His father had been a soldier, and came out as one of the guard over a batch of prisoners in one of the first convict ships that sailed for Sydney.
Well, as I was saying, Hughes went for a trip to Sydney, and he brought back a couple of new boats with him, so that we had four to commence our second season with. That was a lively season. Whales were numerous again, and we got on very well. In the middle of our busiest time we had the bad luck to have one of our new boats smashed knocked to pieces without ever being fast to a whale. We were out one day, and hard at it, the boat in which I was being fast to a big fellow. He was properly handled, and was nigh about done, when another boat came up to put an iron into him. We could see that the whale was just dying, he was all of a tremble, and shooting about here and there and we sang out to the other fellows to stand off, but I suppose they didn't hear us, at any rate they came up in a round-about way, and were pretty close, when he suddenly made a rush right in their direction, and went clean over her, turning her over by sheer weight, and in a minute or two our brand new boat was floating about the bay in shingles.
We cut our line sharp, and the whale sank dead after his last effort, but we picked him up two days afterwards and got him in all right. He was a good one too, though not the largest I have seen. The best one for oil I ever helped to try out was a cow in calf, that yielded about eleven tons.
There was nobody hurt. We picked up the men in the water, and they didn't think anything of the affair. We didn't make such a precious fuss about a thing of that sort as people would nowadays. If they get a wet shirt now they must see the doctor, or else they die of a fright. We had no doctors, and if we had we shouldn't have bothered them. I suppose you won't believe, but I give you my word that I've never tasted physic all my life, and never wanted it.
But I must say that we were pretty lucky. We didn't have any serious accidents; losing our boat was the worst one; and none of our party were ever hurt. No, sir, we did not fall out and knock each other about. We had no rows at all. Do you know what kept things so quiet with us? We had no drink. It was an agreement with us that there should be none. Vessels that came here for oil had it with them, but we never allowed a drop to be put ashore. Now and again some of the boys had a nip when they went down to Weller's place at Otago, but that was a long way to go for a drink, and, besides, the men were a steady lot, and didn't care much about grog.
The third season we increased our party, and worked five boats. One was a seven-oared boat, but she was no use; she was too long. That was a good season too, but whales were getting to be not quite so plentiful, and, to cut the yarn short, they got scarcer and scarcer, until, after we had stuck together for five seasons, the game was hardly paying us. There was not enough to buy a suit of slops after a season's work, so I went out. The others kept on for some time, but I had had enough of it.
Another man and me then started to run a whaleboat to Waikouaiti and Moeraki, bringing pigs, potatoes and other things from Otago. Weller's was still the only settlement there. There was no such place as Dunedin; the name even was unknown. All round where Dunedin was afterwards built, there was nothing but scrub, and it was a great place for pigs. Port Chalmers was then called Koputai.
You were asking just now about the Maoris, and I may as well at this stage tell you something about them. In those early days there were, as I have said, none about the hills where Dunedin now stands, and not very many at Weller's place. But there was an important settlement at the Heads, where the natives had a fortified pah, and another at Purakanui.
Did I know Taiaroa? Yes sir! I did, very well. Not the present Taiaroa, but his father, a regular thorough going Maori, who couldn't speak a word of English. He was much shorter than this Taiaroa, but a man of enormous strength. But he wasn't the head man among the Heads Maoris then not by a long chalk.
The principal men among them died soon after I got to Otago, it must have been the first season I was there. They called him Tattoo. That wouldn't be his proper name, but it was what we all called him. He was a man whose history ought to be written by someone. He was a noble fellow, a real natural chief. Though he had been to Sydney several times, he was in all respects a pure Maori in his ways, as well as in his appearance, but he was a superior stamp of a man, liked by everyone, and respected by all.
He was always strangely quiet and dignified, and he had the manners of a gentleman. One could see that as he went about, he was always eager to understand everything he saw among the white men, but he would seldom ask as he seemed to be anxious to avoid bothering anyone with his questions and he was never known to ask for anything. Besides, he never touched spirits, and he had a way of his own of enforcing obedience without arguing the point, and without using bad language. Poor fellow!
He did not live to see an old age. He was still almost a young man when he sickened and died of consumption. I went to see him when he was sick, and just as I would have done for any decent man, I tried to find out what he wanted, and it struck me that a comfortable pillow would help him to lie a bit easier, so I fetched him a feather pillow that I had brought with me from England, my mother gave it me when I was coming away. The Maoris looked on this act as one of extraordinary kindness on my part, and they never forgot it. They would do anything for me. I must say that I have always found them mindful of any good turn, and anxious to show their gratitude, but their kindness to me for lending that pillow was far beyond what might have been expected.
When Tattoo died, the next best man was Jacky White, Karitai was his proper name. He was a more important man than old Taiaroa, who, as I have said, or intended to say, was only of third- rate importance then.
What sort of people the Maoris were? Well! You may safely say that they were an industrious, decent living lot. They used to be great hands at fishing. I have seen a dozen, and sometimes as many as twenty canoes, go out of a morning fishing for Barracouta and they would take their double canoes outside the Heads without fear of being blown off. Sometimes, too, they used to go in boats, when they could get them.
As to drink, they did not often take it. It is a lie to say that they were a drinking crowd. Those engaged at Weller's were entitled, as well as the whites, to a gill of rum in the morning before going out and d'ye know what the Maoris did ? They carefully bottled it off as they got it, and afterwards sold it to the white people at a little less than the price at the store. That's a fact, and I should like you to print it. They never drank the rum themselves, but they were always ready to make a bargain with the white men for it. Yes, they were naturally business men rather than drinkers. You folk who get your ideas of what the Maoris are like from the poor specimens you see about towns have a wrong notion altogether of what they are like when left to themselves without contact with the white man.
Another good thing about the Maoris as I knew them was that they were very particular about their women. Infidelity on the part of either husband or wife was punishable with death and among unmarried people the relationships were as decent, to say the least of it, as you would find in communities of Europeans.
The women had to work, but only at what were looked on as their proper tasks. But it was considered the right thing for a chief to have several wives. I am bound to admit that because it's a fact. Jacky White had four or five, and most of them had two or three; they were supposed to have as many as they could keep, or they were allowed to, which comes to about the same thing. These wives, however, no matter how many there were, were always properly treated, and not regarded as concubines, nor could they be put away at the will of their chief.
Perhaps you don't know it, but it's quite true that the Maoris in those days had slaves. Each chief had some. I never could quite make out how they got these slaves, nor what their position was, but we always concluded that they had been prisoners taken in war. They did all the dirty work, and might be bought or sold, and it was no offence if a master killed one of them.
I don't know anything about cannibalism among them. I never saw any, and they never would confess to having been given to that ungodly practice. Still I know that a slave's life was at his master's mercy, and goodness only knows whether, in the olden days, they always buried one that they knocked on the head. I once knew one of these slaves very well. Hughes, who was here before me, owned one.
He was a big fellow that we used to call Rogers. The Maoris were going to kill him, so the yarn went, and Hughes took pity on him and tried to save his life. The Maoris wouldn't listen to what he had to say, so Hughes thought he would buy the man and he went to the store, drew a lot of slops against his credit, and gave them to the Maoris for Rogers. The natives did not touch Rogers after that, but looked on him as Hughes' property. The poor fellow came with us afterwards, and died while in our service.
While I was going in and out among the Maoris an incident occurred, which will give you an idea of life among these people. Three American whalers were lying off Weller's place, having put in to refresh with wood and water before proceeding further with their cruise. The carpenter belonging to one of these ships was on shore, staying at the house of a man named James Brown. There were a good many fellows about, and they had been making too free with the grog.
One of the chaps there was a Maori, son of one of the petty chiefs, and he too had been drinking, just for once in a way at any rate, what he had taken had got into his head. Well, this chief's son he fell out with Brown, the master of the house, because Brown would not give him any more grog, upon which the Maori went away, loaded his gun, and came and stood outside Brown's window, waiting to get a chance to shoot Brown.
While he was waiting there the carpenter happened to go to the door, and the Maori seized the chance to fire. I don't know whether he knew who it was at the door, but any way it was the carpenter who got the benefit of it, and he fell dead on the spot. The Maori at once made a bolt of it, and could not be found for two or three days. He was stowed away in the bush. At last old Taiaroa went and hunted him out and brought him to the store. "Here," he said, "is the man who shot the white man; do as you like to him."The Maoris seemed to look on it as a matter of honour to find him.
Mr. Weller put the man in irons, and sent word all round to muster as many whites as possible. He thought that this outrage would start the Maoris into a general rising, and that would have been a serious matter, as they were pretty well armed. I went up among the others, and I can tell you there was a regular to do. They clapped the murderer into a little room, and planted men to go sentry go, watch and watch, until we canoe to a decision as to what to do with him.
Mr. Weller's idea was to send him to Sydney to be tried. The Yankees wanted us to let them take him off to one of their ships and hang him at the yard-arm. We would not agree to that it wouldn't be regular, and there we were, didn't know how to get out of the fix. The situation was a pretty serious one, or would have been if the Maoris had been nasty, for there were about a couple of thousand of them about the Kaik at that time, and about 400 or 500 more at Purakanui, who could have come across pretty quick, but they did not seem dangerous.
They said they would not trouble what we did with the man. Their idea was that, as he had tried to kill Brown, Brown should be allowed to shoot him, and they would have been satisfied if the matter had ended that way. But we wouldn't have that. Well, I was standing outside the house where the Maori was locked up, and while talking with others who were there, we saw Tom Brown come out.
This Tom Brown was one of our men the one whose turn it was to watch inside. He came out just for a necessary purpose, leaving his gun behind. Before he could get back we heard a report, and then I knew what had happened. I knew the Maori was cooked. We rushed in, and there was the Maori and his woman both shot. We could see how it was done. She had raised him up to a sitting position, and then hugged him from behind, while he had got the gun and pointed it towards his chest. The ball went right through him and lodged in the woman, and they were both dead.
Then we saw how foolish we had been to let the woman be in the room with him, and of course everybody blamed Tom Brown for going out without taking his gun with him. But perhaps it all ended in the best way. The Maoris made no fuss; they said they were glad he had made away with himself.
The last act in the tragedy was played by old Taiaroa, who rolled up the man's body in a bundle and humped it away by himself, saying that he was going to bury it. What he did with it I can't tell you. No one ever saw the grave. Pitched the body overboard, perhaps. The woman was buried by her own people. And that was the finish of a very anxious time for all of us.
As I have said, all the settlers that I know of who were in Otago before me are either away or dead. The two eldest that I know of are Dick Driver, who was the first pilot in Otago, and now lives in Purakanui, and Mr Apes, of Wakouaiti. The latter is coming down to see me, and have a chat about old times.
I had a visit from Captain Jackson Barry some time ago, and he wanted to make out that he knew all about these parts in the earliest days, but I soon settled him. He began by asking me if I remembered the first whaling man here, Johnny Jones. I replied that I knew the first whaler here, and that it wasn't Johnny Jones, and that I was here myself long before Johnny Jones saw a flax bush; and that was enough for Mr. Barry, or whatever you call him. I can't abide those men who let on to know what they don't know anything about."
Mr. Haberfield's subsequent history has been full of adventures. As modestly told by himself, he altogether settled at Moeraki after he had been running a whaleboat for some time and then, feeling rather restless, he shipped with Captain Cole on the schooner Rory O'More, which called at Moeraki on her way to Akaroa for a stock of pigs, to take up with other provisions to some American whalers that were lying there.
This was a somewhat eventful trip. On arrival at Akaroa, she was engaged to convey to Wellington a prisoner who had been arrested for breaking into a store. The prisoner and the policeman (named Barry) and the witnesses were all to be taken up together. The schooner was owned by the well known Paddy Hood, and she had first to make a trip to his settlement at the northern end of the Ninety-mile beach, where the Little River empties itself, so as to get some provisions. On getting these aboard, she returned to Akaroa and picked up her party, which included an officer from a French man-of-war, who wanted to go to Wellington to make arrangements for victualling the vessel.
There were altogether twenty-three souls on board when the Rory O'More sailed for Wellington, a port she was not destined to reach, as she overran her reckoning in a fog, and got jammed in Palliser Bay, where she was beached to save life, it being found that she could not help going ashore. The men stopped behind long enough to save the cargo, and then set out to walk to Wellington, which they reached in three days. Captain Cole was not in charge of the schooner when she was wrecked, another master having been shipped in his place.
Mr. Haberfield was three months in Wellington, unable to get work, and scarcely able to obtain sufficient food, from which difficulty he was released by the opportune arrival of one of Johnny Jones* vessels (the Magnet, then under the charge of Captain McFarlane) the mate of which (Mr. Lewis) took him on board and provided for him until he got a passage by her to Akaroa, from which place he was taken home by the schooner Mana (Captain Sweeney) a vessel that was to take a shipment of pigs from Moeraki to Mr. Fraser's station on Mana Island.
He then stayed at home for some years, afterwards shipping in the cutter Levien (Captain Arnett) for Port Levy on the Banks Peninsula, where lived a wealthy old bachelor named Greenwood, who gave him a freight of wool, cheese and batter, with thirty-two sheep on deck, for Wellington. This small vessel, much overloaded, left Port Levy on Saturday afternoon, and the next (Sunday) afternoon dropped anchor in Wellington, opposite the Custom House a feat that was, in those days, considered wonderful. A week later they left Wellington for Pigeon Bay, having on board a complete fit-out for a schooner then building there, thence to Akaroa, where they took on board Mr. Watson, the magistrate there, and brought him to Otago. Thence she went to Ruapuke and on to Stewart Island, where Mr, Haberfield left her, coming back to Otago in a schooner called The Sisters, belonging to the Akaroa Maoris.
About this time the survey of the Otago Block was going on, and some six months afterwards, the survey being then finished, Captain Arnett brought the Levien into Otago harbour under contract to take the men (chainmen, bushmen, &c.) engaged for the survey party to Wellington. Captain Arnett, who was no scholar, was very anxious to get Mr. Haberfield to ship with him this trip, as the latter on previous occasions had done all the ship's business for him. Haberfield, however, obstinately refused to go, not being pleased either with the vessel, which was crank, or the captain, who was reckless, and, besides, a bad paymaster. Haberfield then went to Moeraki in his boat, and Arnett, who left soon after him, dropped anchor in Moeraki Bay, and made another attempt to get Haberfield on board. The latter was not to be persuaded, and the cutter had to leave without him. She was never heard of again, but a vessel which came into Akaroa reported having seen a cutter answering to her description founder in a squall off the Kaikouras.
She had eleven men on board, amongst them the Brown mentioned previously as being concerned in the shooting affair at Weller's. The Levien, it may be noted, was bought by Bloody Jack (Tuawak) and Toby, of Ruapuke, from an Auckland man. Bloody Jack was drowned at Timaru while in charge of an expedition got up amongst the Southern Maoris to go North and fight Rauparaha, which expedition got no further than Banks Peninsula, and was then abandoned. The Levien then became the property of Toby and Kehu (a son of Bloody Jack). This Kehu (who was remarkable for having six toes on each foot) sailed with Haberfield, and left the cutter with him, having no confidence in Arnett. Kehau was afterwards drowned in endeavouring to cross Foveaux Strait in a whaleboat during a gale of wind."
These are only some of the many adventures which Mr. Haberfield can relate. He was engaged in seafaring for several years, and at last settled down to enjoy a peaceful old age, which we trust will last for many years to come.