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A Sketch of New Zealand part 2

This story was told in the Sydney Herald over some months in 1837. The author signed them M.
Part 1 Part 3 Part 4.
The author may have been Chevalier Dillon or a friend of his. The style is not of a native English speaker to my mind. Also, Chevalier Dillon also did a series of drawings which he signed M. just like the signature on these passages and he was known to be in the Tauranga district. Still, I'm no expert. Let me know your thoughts.


Chatham Islands
The Natives of Tauranga which is situated about sixteen or twenty miles due south from the island of Tuua (or the Mayor) in latitude 37o 20o south and longitude 1.6o 5' east, on the east coast of  New Zealand, positively affirm that the Chatham Islands, which are in latitude about 43o 43' south, and longitude 176o 58' west or about south-west 1/4 west distance about five hundred miles as the crow flies, from Tuua, were peopled from that island about fifty or sixty years ago (much about the time that Cook visited New Zealand).  Their story is, that the Atua or God, spoke to one of their priests for several days successively and told him, that the tribe who was living there must depart and seek another home, or they would all be killed by a strange tribe who was coming to war with them (the Ngapuhi or Bay of Islanders). He then instructed them to set sail in such and such a direction and that they went accordingly in nine canoes, to the number of about one hundred people, including men, women and children ; that some time afterwards the Atua told them (the said Natives of Tauranga), that their friends had arrived safe at a distant land after fifteen days passage.  They even remember at this day (1837) the name of the chief man who went with his tribe, and claim relationship to them ; and, to my own knowledge, they have often inquired of several Europeans if they were ever there, on purpose to ask about their friends.  I have myself seen several Europeans who have visited the Chatham Islands, and their accounts are very contradictory, some of them positively stating that they speak the same language, and others as strictly denying it ; both parties agree that there is plenty of flax on the islands, but that they do not know how to clean it.  Now, it it very strange, that if the Chatham Islands were peopled from New Zealand, even as late as one hundred years ago, that they should forget in that short space of time how to clean their flax and make garments for themselves. Fern-root, which is the staple food of the New Zealanders, is abundant there and seals formerly abounded on the coasts.

The only kind of clothing which the Natives wear is the flax nearly in its natural state, it is soaked a little in the water, not sufficient to separate the husk, and then rubbed to soften it, when it is knitted together in the shape of a mat, what the New Zealanders call a Puriki, and is generally worn as an outside covering or overall, it is the lowest and commonest description of mat, and cannot be property termed dressed flax, neither do they tattoo, which is a peculiar feature in the New Zealand character, and one which they were not likely to give over without some degree of regret, as the tattooing is principally done to please the "fairer portion of the creation," and adds not a little in their opinion to their personal appearance.

In the years 1835-36, the brig Lord Rodney, of Sydney, which was trading on the coast of New Zealand, made a contract (or perhaps was taken) with the Natives of Port Nicholson, at the entrance of Cook's Straits, to remove a whole tribe of the New Zealanders to the Chatham Islands, which they accordingly performed, and effected the removal in two trips of about five to six hundred Natives, with a quantity of potatoes, pigs, corn, arms and ammunition ; and thus, I have no doubt, that if the flax trade should revive again, a very good thing might be made by going there to purchase flax.  Care must however be taken in this case that they do not endeavour to seize the first vessel that trades with them, as they are a rather treacherous mob, and being short of every thing, the temptation of plenty of trade might be such an inducement to plunder, that their virtue could not resist, and more particularly where they see no danger to deter them from it.

The above mentioned island of Tuua has now a small tribe of Natives living on it (about fifty families) who subsist principally by fishing, and frequently go over to the mainland to dispose of the fruits of their labour.  There is a particular species of shark caught there at certain seasons of the year called by them the Moko ; its principal value is the teen, which are of a beautiful shape and perfectly white ; they are extremely valuable in the eyes of the Natives of New Zealand, equally as much so, as diamonds are by us. I have seen among themselves a double-barreled fowling-piece offered and refused for a single tooth, it was very large, which increased the value ; they bore a hole into the root end, into which they pass a piece of black ribbon, and after adorning the root end, where there is no enamel, with red sealing wax, they suspend it from their ears.  I have also seen four of them sold by a European to a distant tribe (at the Bay of Islands), where they were very scarce, for seven pounds sterling money.  The island is very mountainous and was formerly volcanic, although it does not appear to have shewn any symptoms of that nature for a length of time.  There is a lake of green water on the top of the island which has more than probably been originally the crater of the volcano.  There are immense rocks of volcanic black glass (Captain McDonalds's Black Jasper), many of them several hundred feet high, which must have been thrown from its mouth in a state of fusion ; there is plenty of brimstone and one hot water spring.

The only wood on the island is the Rata or Portikawa, called by Europeans the Iron Wood from its hardness, it is of a red colour and very durable and from which the timbers of all vessels that are built at New Zealand are made, it would also make very good sheaves for blocks, and I think for many other purposed in turnery, it is very heavy.  The roots of this tree are likewise used as timbers and gunwales for boats, being very pliant while green, and will bend to any shape ; it is certainly not equal to English boat timber, but answers very well as a substitute.  Provisions grown on this island will not keep any time after being taken out of the ground probably from the volcanic nature of the soil, which is strongly impregnated with sulphur, large quantities of that article could be obtained there at a trifling expense, as well as a several other places on the coast of New Zealand.
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