Rambles in New Zealand - Part 1
Rambles in New Zealand is the only published work of John Carne Bidwill of any length and an important document in the early colonial history of that country.
It is included in the Hortus for a number of reasons but mainly because, together with his letters to The Gardeners’ Chronicle, it completes the known published works of Bidwill. His importance in the history of the Camden Park gardens and the lack of any substantive treatment of his life and achievements make it appropriate to include all his published work here.
Of more direct significance to the Hortus is that a number of the plants mentioned, and sometimes described, in the text of Rambles subsequently appeared in the Camden Park gardens and are listed in William Macarthur’s catalogues. A link is provided in the text that hopefully adds some additional value to the brief botanical history included in the Hortus profile of these plants. Such links are generally given at the first mention of the plant.
This is a digital transcription from a copy of the book held at Camden Park. No doubt some transcription errors have occurred but hopefully these are few and of little significance to the text. The original layout, including pagination, has been retained, as has the spelling of the original. Note for example the spelling of ‘Sidney’ in places. Square brackets have been used in the text, usually containing plant names, where footnotes were used in the original. A curley bracket indicates an editorial intrusion.
An on-line facsimile edition is listed below under Publication History.
Originally published in 1841 jointly by W. S. Orr & Co., Paternoster Row, London and J. Fitze, Exeter.
It was reportedly reprinted in 1952 in Christchurch. I have not been able to discover the name of the publisher.
It was reprinted again in Christchurch in 1974 by Capper Press from a copy in the Auckland Institute and Museum Library. This edition seems to be freely available at moderate cost through book dealers.
An on-line facsimile is available from Google Books at http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Rambles_in_New_Zealand.html?id=Wz8bAAAAYAAJ&redir_esc=y. This was digitized from a copy held at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
Kessinger Publishing, Aug 2009 – Kessinger is an on-demand publisher of out of copyright books and manuscripts based in Whitefish, Montana, USA. Their practice of assigning new copyright dates for works that may be legitimately, and permanently, in the public domain has been criticized by researchers. I have not seen a Kessinger copy of Rambles but believe that it is based on the Google Books on-line copy. Go to http://www.kessinger.net to see their full catalogue.
An on-line edition is available through the University of Auckland Library. I haven’t accessed it.
Cover [see illustration]
inside cover blank
Map of the author’s route [click here to view map]
Rambles in New Zealand
By John Carne Bidwill
(Late of Exeter.)
Sidney, New South Wales
London: Published by W. S. Orr & Co., Paternoster Row; and J. Fitze, Exeter.
(Price 2s. 6d.)
Bradbury and Evans, Printers, Whitefriars
The Right Honourable
The Earl of Devon
To your Lordship, as Governor of the Plymouth New Zealand Company, I beg most respectfully to inscribe the following pages, not with any idea that they will confer honour on your Lordship, but that your Lordship’s public and private character may obtain for them a favourable introduction. I venture to believe they will add something to the little stock of information respecting the rising and important Colony of New Zealand, and on this ground alone, I trust, be not unworthy of your Lordship’s notice.
I have the honour to subscribe myself, most respectfully,
Most obedient and very humble Servant,
John C. Bidwill.
It is a very common practice among book-makers of the present day, to entertain their readers with a preface, setting forth with coquettish diffidence, not the merits, but the demerits of their productions. If they believed their own professions, and their diffidence were anything but feigned, it is obvious they would never have entered the list of authors, and
“done their best to make as much waste-paper as the rest.”
It is not my intention to follow their example; but in order to secure my readers as much as possible against the chances of disappointment, I at once assure them most frankly, that the following pages have no pretension to literary fame, but were hastily thrown together during my rambles, and have since been deprived (by my arduous occupation as a merchant in Sidney) of whatever improvement a careful revision might have enabled me to effect.
The only claim therefore I have on the attention of my readers, is founded on a desire to add something to the little stock of information respecting New Zealand, which, amidst the general interest emigration has excited in England, obtains no ordinary share of consideration. Divested of the usual traveller’s licence, fidelity in narrative and attentive observation may safely be depended on: and I have some confidence, having wandered farther in this colony than any other European who has communicated his information to the public, that no one will rise from the perusal of this pamphlet dissatisfied with the trifling amount of money and time it may have cost him.
J. C. BIDWILL.
Sidney, August 25th, 1840.
Rambles in New Zealand
I arrived at Sydney in September 1838, and soon received the first of those useful lessons which disappointment teaches. I allude to the system observed in the sale of crown lands, which, instead of being surveyed and ready for auction, so that the emigrant may commence operations with undiminished capital, compels him to waste months in idleness and expense ill adapted to the cultivation and advancement of a new colony. As the spot I had selected was at a considerable distance from Sydney, and the time to be wasted between the application and sale proportionately long, I determined to render it as little irksome and unprofitable as possible by rambling in search of information.
With this view I embarked in one of the small schooners which are constantly trading between Sydney and the Bay of Islands; made the north-west cape of New Zealand on the 4th of February, 1839, and the next day arrived in the bay. The whole coast appeared very barren, having no other vegetation than bushes and fern; it is much broken, and of a dark-coloured volcanic rock; in some places the earth on the surface is of a bright yellow or red, and apparently of an ochreous nature. The Bay of Islands, a place of late become so familiar in England from
various causes, but chiefly from the panorama of it exhibited in London*, is certainly a very pretty place, but in my opinion no more: it is, like Sydney, or rather Port Jackson, entirely deficient of background, so essential to the picturesque. The panorama is exceedingly like the place, with the exception that the hills are trifling elevations in reality, while in the painting they appear very considerable; and one in particular, an island to the northward, seems quite a mountain, although I do not suppose it can be 700 feet high. I can only account for the artist having painted the bay, in preference to many other far more beautiful and extraordinary scenes to be found in the island, by the supposition, that when he was there, it was considered to he the only safe place in the country, and that he was prevented by the unfavourable reports of the people he saw from travelling much into it:- had he painted some parts of the Thames, for instance, he might have produced a picture which, without exaggeration, would have represented such a combination of` the grand and beautiful in scenery as is rarely to be found in any country - a close piece of water, as large as the bay, thickly studded with islands of every variety, some merely high basaltic rocks, others beautiful low islets covered with trees and grass, and almost surrounded by beaches; while the surrounding shores are everywhere covered thickly with timber, and the hills piled over each other until they are sometimes lost in the clouds: in one place particularly, immediately behind the harbour of Waihaw (Wyhow), there are four ranges rising one behind another, the highest of which
*It may perhaps be said that the bay is a place of great resort for shipping - whalers in particular, and that this is the cause of its celebrity, not the panorama; but the island of Wahoo (one of the Sandwich) is very much more so, and has ten times the number of European residents, a paper, theatre, hotels and warehouses, and yet is hardly known in England - because, as yet, there has been no panorama of Wahoo.
cannot be less than 4500 feet, and covered with wood to the very summit.
To return to the bay - the country around is hilly, and may be said to be nothing but a succession of gullies, rendering the use of wheel-carriages of any kind (except perhaps ox-carts) almost impracticable: the soil is clay, produced by the decomposition of the lavas and other volcanic rocks, of which the whole of this part of New Zealand is formed. lt is bad - that is to say, as bad as any soil can be in a climate so moist and temperate as that of New Zealand. I have, it is true, notwithstanding, seen very good vegetables grown in the gardens; but as these gardens are always in the small level spots in the vicinity of the gullies, their produce is no criterion of the general goodness of the soil, as such spots receive the whole richness of the surrounding hills, and for agricultural purposes would be totally unavailable from their small size. There are but two spots about the bay where towns could be built - one, the site of the village of Kornarika, notorious at present for containing, I should think, a greater number of rogues than any other spot of equal size in the universe, and the other on the opposite side of the Bay, near the missionary establishment, Paihia (Pyhea). The first of these has the best shelter for shipping, but is entirely out off from the supply of the country, being situated on an almost insulated neck of land, having the bay in front, and the ocean about half a mile distant behind. It is besides so confined, that the part available for building purposes could not contain more than a couple of thousand inhabitants, even though the streets were planned with the regularity and closeness of European streets, instead of the straggling manner in which those of a new country are generally built. The other place is a good situation for a town, having a considerable flat space at the mouth of a river navigable for small vessels for a short distance; and being on the land side
of the bay, is a more fit emporium for the produce of the country, as well as more convenient for merchandise. I do not by any means consider the bay the place where a settlement should be formed as the whole of the northern part of the island is a mere neck of land, in comparison with that to the southward of the Thames; and nearly the whole of it, if not owned, is at least claimed by Europeans; whereas, south of the Thames there have been scarcely any purchasers, and the land, instead of being a succession of barren hills and ravines, is full of rich plains and table-lands.
I had determined, if possible, to penetrate to those high mountains in the interior of the north island which are shadowed forth on the maps and described in the book of the New Zealand Association, and, fortunately, found a small schooner of ten tons ready to sail for the southward the day after my arrival in the bay. I accordingly went on board, and as our course was close along-shore during the whole voyage, I had an excellent opportunity of seeing the coast, which is generally exceedingly beautiful. There are a great many islands scattered along the coast, many of which bear marks of recent volcanic eruptions, the lava on some being quite fresh; and one (White Island) is even at present an active volcano continually smoking, and chiefly composed of sulphur and pumice. The outline of the coast is exceedingly broken; generally the cliffs are high, but rarely perpendicular; and until after passing the Thames all are of a dark colour, without a trace of stratification. Several of the hills are said by the natives to have lakes on their summits, probably the craters of extinct volcanoes. Another thing which they state is, however, beyond my power of belief - that one of these lakes has plenty of salt-water fish in it, and among the rest sharks! I should have liked very much to have ascended some of these hills, had it been merely to see if there were really any fish in the
lakes, either belonging to fresh or salt water. It appears, however, that the very existence of these lakes is a mere matter of tradition, as none of the present generation have ever ascended to their shores, through fear of the “nancras,” or imaginary centipedes, or crocodiles, (for it does not appear very clearly which is meant by the term,) which inhabit the banks of all these inaccessible lakes, and with which even whole valleys are said to be so infested that it is impossible to get a native to visit them. After passing the Thames, the cliffs become white and look like chalk: they are, however, of a compact volcanic stone very good for building, more especially at Mercury Bay, where a gentleman who has resided there for some years has worked a sufficient quantity of it to build a wharf - perhaps the first wharf built of hewn stones in Australia, those in Sydney being chiefly built of wood. Mercury Bay is a very good harbour for ships of any size; but the country around is very mountainous, and the river running in at the head of the bay so small as to be only fit to turn a mill, the purpose to which it is about to be applied by the gentleman who has purchased the whole country in that neighbourhood from the natives. If he ever gets it to work, it will pay well, and will be the only one worked by water-power in Australia. The cowrie or pine of the country (Dammara australis) is abundant here, although it is almost the southern limit of its growth. The cowrie adheres to the general predilection I have observed in all true pines for bad land; it always grows on steep clayey hills, but does not form entire forests containing no other tree, like the pine-forests of America. I have indeed seen but one small patch of land on which the greater part of the trees was cowrie. In most of what is here called “cowrie land” the trees are often a quarter of a mile asunder, and rarely closer than a hundred yards: it is, in my opinion, the least beautiful of the pine tribe, especially in its young state,
which is in general the most beautiful age of the pine; in fact, until it gets thirty feet high, it is absolutely ugly. It retains the appearance of a regular coniferous tree until it becomes about eighteen inches in diameter, when it begins to change, and after that period ceases to resemble the rest of its tribe in the slightest degree. It often resembles in outline an oak, but, from the excessive paucity of its foliage, can never vie with that tree in beauty. I apprehend there is not the slightest chance of its growing in England, as it is not found more than forty miles south of the Thames in New Zealand. It will be seen, from what I have said, that people have been greatly deceived in England with regard to the supply of cowrie spars, &c., to be derived from New Zealand: not only is the portion of country on which it grows very limited, but the labour of getting the timber out of the forests is immense, because of the wonderfully hilly nature of the country; and in New Zealand there is no snow to assist the dragging of the weight, as in those countries from whence the present supply of timber is chiefly derived.
I had intended to start from Mercury Bay for the interior; but when I arrived there, I found, from the information given me by Mr. Brown of that place (who is probably better acquainted with New Zealand, and more particularly with the people, than any other person), that it would not be the proper place. I therefore went on to Tawranga, which is at present the last mission-station to the southward, and from thence eventually started on my voyage of discovery into the unknown regions of New Zealand. Tawranga is a harbour unfit for large vessels, but was during the time of the flax-trade a place of some consequence, as very large quantities of that article were collected there. At present no flax is grown, as pigs supply the wants of the natives with infinitely less trouble to themselves. The coast here, and for a considerable dis-
tance to the southward, is low and level, with sandy beaches. One side of the entrance to the harbour is formed by a curious hill, or immense rock of basaltic lava mixed in some places with pumice. It is of a conical or irregular pyramidal form, and about six hundred feet high: standing as it does entirely alone, in the middle of a great extent of low level coast, it forms a very striking object, whether viewed from sea or land. It was formerly a very strong “Pa” (Pah), a native fort or village, for the word means either. I should observe, however, that all the villages are fortified by a ditch and stockade. The land sides of the hill are terraced from top to bottom, and must have been inhabited for a very long period, as the greater portion of the soil of which the terraces are formed is composed of cockle shells. At present the Tawranga (Towrunga) tribe is a very small one, and will most likely in two or three years cease to exist, as at present its only support is that of another tribe, the Waikato, which is the largest in the country, but they are a very bad set. This tribe (the Waikatos) is at war with the Roturoa tribe, which latter occupies the land behind the Tawranga tribe and a port called Muckatoo, about twenty miles to the east along the coast. The Waikatos have no port on the eastern shores, and have for some time been trying to get possession of Muckatoo: they seized it once while I was on my journey, but were beaten off again by the Roturoa people. It appears probable that they will pick a quarrel with the Tawranga people, as a pretext for dispossessing them of their territory, which would be more convenient for them than Muckatoo, that place being further off and the tribe one of the most warlike, if not the most powerful, in the country. About six weeks before I arrived at Tawranga, a small party started from Roturoa, and lying in wait near Tawranga, seized a number of people (about twenty, I believe) and cooked them absolutely in sight of the
different villages. The place was just at the base of the great hill I have spoken of (Manganorie); and when I visited it, I saw all the native ovens (copper mowries, according to English pronunciation) in which the cooking had been performed, and a portion of the entrails, &c., were strewed about. My companion called me to see a head which was then half eaten by the dogs; but I had seen enough for that day, and did not follow him. This head was removed by the missionaries as soon as they heard of it, and buried; so that when I visited the place afterwards, every vestige of the late horrid tragedy had disappeared. There are two things well worthy of note in this occurrence, as being totally opposed to English ideas of the New Zealanders. The first is, that a whole tribe should suffer less than a hundred men to come into the heart of their country, where they – the invaders - were surrounded on all sides, and stay ten days or more, killing all the stragglers they could find, and confining the rest in their Pas, and even paddling about the harbour in their canoes in the middle of the day, without making the least show of resistance; and the second, that the natives who perpetrated this massacre and cannibalism in cold blood were not a wild, untutored race who had never had intercourse with Europeans, (or if with Europeans, with such as are a disgrace to the countries whence they spring, such as those by whom the natives of the Bay of Islands and other places to the northward have been contaminated), but, on the contrary, had enjoyed the advantage of the residence of missionaries among them for several years, and those missionaries, too, amongst the most active and zealous of any in New Zealand; indeed, there have been but few white men among them, with the exception of missionaries, more especially for the last two or three years, since the murder of the last trader who lived there, which has prevented others from supplying his place.
Neither is the general bravery and hardihood, or very great improvement in the body of the New Zealanders, so much talked of in England, very strikingly developed in these proceedings*.
The country about Tawranga for about ten miles inland is almost a perfect level covered with fern; but the land is not bad, as it is light and contains a good proportion of undestroyed vegetable matter, which becomes apparent when it is stirred. I have seen very good clover and grass growing in the garden of the mission, or I might perhaps have thought the land was much worse than it is. It cannot indeed be called rich, as the constant destruction of the fern by fire is sufficient to impoverish any land; but in the long-run the light soils covered with fern will be preferable for agriculture to the clayey forest-lands where the cowrie grows, which are in general the only lands that have hitherto been the objects of purchase by Europeans, - if the terms by which they claim them can be called purchases, or if indeed the natives have any real idea of selling their lands, which at present I doubt.
There is going on at Tawranga a formation of coal which is very curious. It is in some places about a foot thick, and although quite recent, and containing nothing but the leaves, &c. of the living plants of the country, it is regularly separated by layers of soft earth of just the colour and appearance which the clayey strata of the coal-measures present, although entirely formed of partially decomposed pumice, which is also the basis of the entire soil of this part of the island, becoming very apparent when the natives, by constant planting of sweet potatoes, &c. near the villages, have exhausted all the vegetable part of the soil.
*I do not wish to undervalue the labours of the missionaries, but my business is to state facts, and to warn people against forming too hasty conclusions respecting the good that may be done by them.
The influenza, which had just visited New Zealand, had hardly left Tawranga; and in consequence of the general sickness, joined to the war between the two places, I had great difficulty in getting any natives to go with me from Tawranga to Roturoa. I should have been entirely stopped had it not been for the great kindness of the missionaries, who persuaded some of the lads attached to their establishment to go with me. To one of these gentlemen in particular, Mr. Stack, I shall always feel under obligation, as he assisted me greatly to his own inconvenience, the natives being so generally ill, that when I took away the lads belonging to his household, it was impossible for him to get any more to supply their places, which in ordinary times would have been easy. I was obliged to take these natives because they happened to be related to the Roturoa tribe, and consequently could go there without any danger of being put into a “copper mowrie” when they arrived. I learnt a curious fact relating to the politics of New Zealand in consequence of this circumstance. It appears that if two tribes are at war, and the chief of most consequence in one tribe were to marry the only daughter of the corresponding “rangitera” of the other, that would not do anything towards making peace between the two tribes; but the two individuals only would observe neutrality: and this is the more curious, as females can really hold property, and are in fact chiefs, as well as the men. There is a case in point between the Waikato and Roturoa tribes at the present moment. It is a striking instance of the want of real power in the chiefs; as were there any real government, such a marriage could not fail to unite the tribes under one head, or at all events to render them allies.
After several days’ delay from the above-mentioned causes, I got ready for the journey, and set out for Roturoa with seven natives to carry luggage, and a white man as interpreter. I
should not have wanted so many natives, had it not been for the great weight of their food, which consists almost entirely of potatoes: one, in fact, went solely to carry food for the first day’s journey, and left us next morning. I left Tawranga about one o’clock on the l7th of February, 1839. This day’s journey was not above fifteen miles, and was almost entirely over a plain covered with fern: the walk was however quite enough for me for that day, and I was very glad when the tent was pitched, and I enjoyed my pot of tea and piece of bread and pork with an appetite an alderman might have envied. There is something inexpressibly delightful in living in a tent: snail-like, you carry your house wherever you go; and for my own part, I always sleep much better in a tent than in an inn, and enjoy my meals infinitely more in the open air, sitting at the mouth of my tent like the shepherds of old, than I should if I had the best dinner that ever was cooked in a smoky hotel in London. I recollect while in England that a very little thing would put me out of conceit with my tea, and I could no more think of relishing it without white sugar than of eating a piece of dry crust covered with mould; but here I always used to think the tea excellent, although boiled in a common tin pot, or pannikin as the sailors call it, and drunk out of the same, and sweetened with coarse brown sugar; and I used to dole out the remnants of bread when they were quite blue, as if it was the greatest luxury in the world:- so much are our tastes as well as ourselves liable to be altered by circumstances. It was not till long after this, however, that I was short of bread; as by the kindness of my friends at Tawranga, I was loaded with bread, roast-meat, &c., and was not yet reduced to the necessity of eating potatoes with my tea, or cold potatoes without salt for lunch. I have often seen the natives eat raw potatoes, and once living craw-fish; two things I never was so hard-pushed as to try.
We crossed one river about fifteen yards wide and knee-deep, very rapid, and running over a smooth bottom of rock: it would form a fine mill-stream, as the banks are very high, and close to the edge of the river - which indeed seems to be characteristic of nearly all the rivers I have seen in New Zealand.
February 18th. – The whole of the road to-day was through very thick woods; the land moderately level and exceedingly rich. We crossed another river about the same size as the one we passed lust night, and a great many smaller streams, most of them having channels, not exactly like ravines, but quite as deep, and steep in proportion to their breadth, and only differing in having their sides covered with forest, and evidently not subject to inundations. New Zealand is undoubtedly wonderfully well watered, yet to-day we passed at least ten miles without seeing any stream, although the ground was anything but flat. Probably the water soon soaks through the substratum, which appears to be of a soft volcanic stone. The whole basis of the soil, the earthy part, is pumice; but you may dig six inches deep through beautiful black mould before you come to any vestige of that substance. The trees were chiefly the Towa [Leiospermum racemosum], a tree strongly resembling the beech in leaf and general appearance, and bearing a fruit about the size and colour of a damson, but with a very large seed. Some of the fruit are sweet and pleasant; while others on the same tree are very poor, and taste strongly of turpentine. The wood is about the hardness and has just the appearance of beech; it is rarely more than two feet in diameter. The Rimu [Dacrydium cupressinum] (the most beautiful tree in the world when young) has branches very slender und pendulous, and the leaves very small, not much broader than hairs, and set all round the twigs, so that the tree looks as if it were composed of “Chenille” fringes. The berry is much like that of the yew, to which
tree the Rimu is nearly allied; it is sweet, and eaten by the natives. The wood resembles in colour that of the apple-tree, and is brittle. It is one of the largest trees in the forest; as it becomes old, it loses its extraordinary beauty, the leaves shortening till they are mere scales. Next in abundance is the Miro, [Podocarpus ferrugineus] a tree exactly like the English yew, but bearing sweet berries about the size of horse-beans, with an internal seed. The wood is dark, line-grained, rather soft, though harder than deal, and very tough. Its largest size is about two feet diameter. From its great beauty, it would well deserve to be grown in England; and as I have found it growing as high up the mountains as any other tree, I have no doubt it would be perfectly hardy. The largest tree I have seen in the country is very common in these woods, but is not peculiar to them, although in other than rich soil it never arrives at even the size of the cowrie. It has a soft white wood, and is always decayed in the middle; it exactly resembles the elm in leaf, and very much in growth and bark; but I could never succeed in procuring a specimen either in flower or seed. [Probably Philippodendron]. I have measured a tree thirty-seven feet in circumference; but such are rare; and were they more common, would be useless from the bad quality of the wood.
These are the chief trees in the richest description of dry woods, such as those I passed between Tawranga and Roturoa. The Rabat [Metrosideros robustus], in my opinion the monarch of the New Zealand forest, is occasionally found very large in these woods, but prefers a more clayey and hilly soil. It is often sixty feet high without a branch, and from four to five feet in diameter; the wood is a fine pale brown, equal to mahogany in beauty, and African oak in hardness and durability; it is a first-rate
ship-building wood, but on the east coast is rare; as you approach the west coast it becomes common: it belongs to the myrtle family, and is very closely leafed, with small brilliantly green oval leaves growing by threes around the stem; the flowers are very numerous, small and scarlet (I am told). I have climbed many trees, but never succeeded in finding any seed, nor seed-vessels in any state of decay; but once found three young plants, which I have got; they were growing in a rotten branch, high from the ground, and had roots very much like potatoes and as large in one instance as a walnut. This accounts for the natives saying there are never any young Ratas. I have no doubt that, like many trees of` tropical climates, they never grow from the ground, but to it, - that is, they strike root in the branches of another tree, and afterwards send roots down to the soil through the trunk of their supporter as it decays. It would be a magnificent ornamental tree in England if it would grow (which I think possible), as it would be utterly unlike any tree at present known in Europe: the foliage being very dense at the extremities of the branches, but nowhere else, it looks like a number of small trees, such as box, growing out of one another, or out of the gigantic stem of an oak. The Tanekaha [Phyllocladus trichomonoides] is also occasionally to be met with, but only on the steep sides of gullies; it prefers a poorer soil; it is the most curious tree in the country, being a coniferous one, with the branches proceeding from the trunk as regularly as in any spruce, and yet having broad leaves very like the leaflets of some ferns. The wood is exceedingly tough and durable, but unfortunately does not grow sufficiently large for masts, except for small vessels. Its largest size is eighteen inches diameter, and about twenty-five to thirty feet to the branches. It would live in England, and would be a very great curiosity. In
similar places is to be seen a very curious shrub, or small tree, which when young has the most extraordinary leaves I ever saw. On a plant five feet high I have measured leaves twenty six inches long, yet not more than three-quarters of an inch broad. In deep shade they are beautifully variegated with pink and white. It is an Aralia, and has highly-perfumed flowers, - a quality, by the way, quite characteristic of New Zealand plants. I have met with more sweet-scented flowers here than in any other place I have visited. As we passed through the woods, we found two plantations of potatoes, which would have rendered our bringing any quite unnecessary had we known of them. As my natives never seemed to consider that these kind of plantations belonged to any body, we always used to help ourselves when we came to any of them without compunction. In fact, I suppose that these patches must have been planted by some of the mission-natives, on purpose to save trouble when they went their journeys between the two stations. The woods are exceedingly full of gigantic climbers, the most troublesome of which, because most abundant, is a Smilax of enormous size. It bears large bunches of red berries, of which the natives are very fond. Its stems are amazingly strong and tough, and are used for a great variety of purposes, the most common of which is the building of houses, where it supplies them with laths, to which they tie their palm-leaves and other materials for forming the walls.
Our encampment to-night was on the top of a very high and steep hill, and as we had no kettle to carry water, I was obliged to use my mackintosh, which answered very well by making a hoop to hold up the edges. I pride myself on my invention, and think Mr. Mackintosh ought to send me a new one, for finding out a new use for this article of clothing, and thereby enhancing its value.
At this place I first observed the deficiencies of the alphabet
introduced by the missionaries: it consists only of fourteen letters, and although B and D are frequently used in speaking, their sounds are represented by P and R in writing. The indiscriminate use of these letters is the consequence, producing great confusion and embarrassment to learners of the language. Thus, some tribes will say Rimu, and others Dimu ; Kerrykerry and Kiddikiddi, &c.; and others will use the sound expressed by R in their alphabet in such a way that it would puzzle any European to understand what was said. I certainly think it would be much better if the alphabet had been furnished with all the letters that the natives could have sounded; and although perhaps at first they might have been a little confused in using them with the proper exactness, a very little practice would have overcome that difficulty, and the language would have gained by it in clearness and intelligibility. Besides, as Mr. Busby (the resident at the bay) says, it would have been a mark whereby to distinguish the educated from the uneducated - the gentlemen from the vulgar. After the letter N, A has a nasal sound somewhat resembling that in “Nantes.” In Mowrie (New Zealand language) it is not difficult to express the sound by desiring the experimenter to say “na” (nah) without moving his tongue, and with his mouth a little open at the commencement of the sound, at the same time admitting a little air through his nose. I think this sound would be much better represented by G N than N G, as is now done; but still either would be erroneous, as the sound is not in the consonant, but in the vowel. The name of one of the Bay of Islands tribes, “Ngapui,” is an example of this sort of Russian combination: the natives have neither F, G, I, nor L, but change them for other letters; S they leave out entirely. It is impossible to make them pronounce any words having these sounds in them: for instance, knife is “nihee,” the two syllables and the N H being distinct. My name, John, is “Honi” (pronounced
Honee); James, “Hemi;" &c. Wilson is changed to " Widdyhinna;" Stack, “Tacca;” Chapman, Tappimanna, with a suppression of H at the beginning, or not quite t’Happimanna. The nearest approach to be found for my name was “Biddywiddi” or “Piddiwiddy.” Those gentlemen whose names I have made use of will, no doubt, excuse me, as I was at a loss for other illustrations. Very few except missionaries are called, by their surnames, all the others being Honis, Hemis, Widdims (Williams). The framer of the alphabet was, I understand, thus sparing of his letters, in order to make the language as simple as possible, without taking into account the difficulties of expressing with them those modulations of sound on which the richness and melody of a language so much depend. They have but five vowels, A (ah), E (a), I (e), 0, and U (pronounced ou). AI, as in “Waikato” (Wykato), could have been conveniently superseded by Y as a vowel, though the natives cannot make the consonantal sound of that letter. In like manner, there is no character to signify the E as in Edward or West; and yet that is a pure vowel sound, and is constantly to be found in the language. It appears to me that had the object been to make the language as simple as possible, that object would have been much better effected by augmenting rather than diminishing the number of vowels which characterise the English and other European tongues: for instance, had there been A, and AH, with a separate character, E as in “we,” and another as in “west”; I, O, and U; it would have been comparatively easy for any foreigner to learn the pronunciation of the language from the books, whereas at present it is as impossible as in any old mother language. For instance, who could know how to pronounce “hau”, which is pronounced exactly as “how” in English? Whereas “waw” is pronounced just as the same letters would be in English. But it is useless to multiply instances which evidently must be innumerable. The
chief reason I see for regretting the present system is, that I think the formation of the Mowrie language into a written one would have been such an excellent opportunity of showing how perfectly the written words of a language might be made to indicate the sounds - a desideratum never to be obtained in any European language, as it would be impossible to make a whole generation learn an entirely new alphabet when they were accustomed to an old one which gave them no inconvenience, from having been always accustomed to it; but when people knew no alphabet, there would have been no difficulty in teaching them as many letters as were necessary to indicate, at all events, all the simple, if not many of the common compound sounds. In case of the colonisation of the country by Europeans, this meagreness of the alphabet will be a great disadvantage, as it is next to impossible to learn the New Zealand, or, indeed, any other language without the use of books. Of course there are individuals who would soon acquire any language, but I am speaking of the mass. Now, in proof of the difficulty which I speak of, I can state that I have met with but one person, and never heard of more than four, in all the country, who could speak “Mowrie” so perfectly as to be able to ask even the simplest question, not connected with their trade, in such a manner as immediately to make the Mowries understand what they said; and the greater part of them, including men who have been many years in the country, are incapable of speaking more than a couple of dozen sentences, and those not correctly. Of course I do not include the missionaries, who all speak the language fluently; but it is to be considered that it is their whole study for a long period after they arrive, and that they have the advantages of the prior labours and researches of their brethren. The very much greater influence possessed by the mission than by any other persons over the natives is, in my opinion, chiefly to be
ascribed to their superior knowledge of the language, and not to any feeling of gratitude for the many benefits conferred upon them by the mission: indeed, I am afraid that they have no such feeling as gratitude, even in the weakest sense; and I am the more inclined to think so, from the fact that they have not only no phrase corresponding to “Thank you,” but no form of words to use when they receive a present. If, when you give them anything, they do not ask immediately for something else (which is generally the case), they are silent; but they generally manage to find out something corresponding to the thing you give them, for which they immediately put in a demand. Thus, if you give a fig of tobacco, you may be sure they will ask for a pipe; if a knife, for a string to hang it round their necks with; or if even a musket, they will ask, depreciatingly, “What is the good of it without some powder and ball?” and that, too, if they have plenty of the article by them at the time. This evening they all pretended they had no tobacco, in order to get some from me, although they had more than they could smoke in a couple of days. The mission-boys were very attentive to their prayers and hymns every evening and morning, and commenced them always without my reminding them, which I had been desired to do by their masters in case of their omission. The greatest rogue in the company was Reader - at least, so I found him afterwards; at that time he passed with me for quite a Simon Pure. I was much pleased with the apparent devotion displayed by him in reading, and the others in their responses; but I found that the longer we were out the worse got his reading, and I was often obliged to find fault with him for slurring over his prayers: but it is like children everywhere when they get out of sight of their masters - and these were only children of a larger growth. They were all young men of not more than twenty. Their names were - at least the names they told me
for they have often a dozen - Kohe-kohe, Coe-coe, Marua, Tomidel, Tong-ow - missionaries, or, as we should say, Christians; Moning-aw and Mahia - heathens, or devils, as they sometimes call themselves. It sounds rather curious to hear a native, in answer to a question as to whether he is a missionary or not, reply quite coolly, “No; I’m a devil!” By the bye, I have generally found these “debils” the best-working and most civil fellows among them, and think a very reasonable question might be raised as to the relation, among the Mowries, of conversion and laziness. Moning-aw and Mahia were striking instances of this; they certainly were worth more than the other four. The first named was quite a treasure, and would have been so as a servant in any country. He always carried my bedding and tent - a heavier load than that of any of the others; especially if it had rained in the night, or we started early in the morning, before the dew was off: yet he was always in first after me at the resting-places, and always close at hand to roast potatoes, fetch water, or any other thing that might be wanted, and even without being told; whereas I sometimes had to tell the others a dozen times if I wanted them to do anything of the kind when he was away. The other fellow, Mahia, used to carry such loads, that one day, when Mr. Kohe-kohe was very saucy, I made them change loads, as a punishment to him, which he at first pretended to be very willing to do; but after about an hour’s trial (during which time I kept behind him to prevent his deceiving me, by giving up a part of his load to others), he fairly gave in and afterwards, if he offended me, I had only to threaten him with Mahia’s load to make him keep close to my heels all day afterwards, which was all I wanted, his load consisting of my books for specimens of plants, &c. I have certainly observed that the missionary natives are the most impertinent and least willing to work; but that ought not to cause ill-will towards
their teachers, as it too often does; most of the Europeans laying all the blame of the progressive craftiness of the natives to the missionaries, who, they say, spoil them, and “teach them their impudence:” whereas, the fact is, the missionary natives, knowing more than their uninstructed brethren, like all people who know very little indeed, but yet something, are apt to think they know a great deal, and presume accordingly. They often fancy that they know quite as much as the “Pakiha Mowries” (a name applied to the pork-traders, &c., who have native women for wives), if not as the missionaries themselves. There is a terrible dislike amongst the low Europeans generally to the missionaries; and it is easily accounted for - the former all live with native women as wives, which is discountenanced by the missionaries. The generality of them are great rascals, runaway convicts, sailors, &c., who, with the ordinary rancour of low minds, dislike people superior to themselves in intelligence and respectability; especially when they see that in spite of their utmost efforts, the influence of the missionaries is greater, even amongst those not professing to be Christians, than ever they can expect to acquire, for the very obvious reason, that the disinterested exertions of the preachers are all directed to one object, and they all support each other - while the others only work for themselves, and hate one another in proportion to the proximity of their residences. With regard to what they all say about the missionaries causing the natives to sell their produce of pigs, &c. dearer, and require more for their labour, it is wholly without foundation: for one pig, or pot of potatoes or corn, that the one buys, the others buy five hundred; and to my certain knowledge the mission price for labour is not more than half that which the Pakihas give. I also know that the price paid for pigs, &c., is not more in one instance than the other: and if it were, it could do the traders no harm, as the
mere trifle used for food, which is all that is bought by the mission, would never have any influence on a market where thousands of tons are bought for the export trade.
We started from our last encampment, passed a good deal of tolerably level and very rich ground, traversed however by several very deep water-courses, and after an hour’s walking over a tract of fern, arrived at a small Pa on the banks of the lake Roturoa. Having heard so bad a character of the Roturoa tribe, I was rather anxious to get over to the missionary settlement, which is on an island in the middle of the lake, The natives did not appear very friendly to my Waikato men, but did not offer to molest them. Messrs. Moning-aw and Mahia did not, however, seem to be particularly comfortable until a canoe was launched for our embarkation. All were so eager to go, in order as I afterwards found to participate in the payment, that the canoe was very nearly swamped several times before we reached the island; and my paper for specimens was so soaked that it took a whole day to dry. I afterwards became used to them, and would never let more go with me than I wanted: each man expected a fig of tobacco for paddling, and the owner of the canoe the same. I think I had to pay twelve of them - twice as much as need have been paid. Had I known as much then as I did afterwards, I should have only let six go instead of twelve, and felt much less fear during the passage.
The lake of Roturoa is about ten miles by five; the shores are generally low, and the wood has been almost entirely removed by the natives; there is but one spot where it approaches the water, and that not very extensive: there are several Pas on it, and a small number of inhabitants on the island where the missionary establishment is. The country is not so populous as it has been. I was informed by the missionaries that, a few years ago, when the celebrated Bay of Islands Chief “Honghi” came
there, he killed three thousand of them, and they have not since been able to recover their numbers: they are a very war like tribe, and are said to be a finer race of men than any other, but great thieves; they are now at war with all the tribes around them except the Towpo tribe, who are too distant to render them any valuable assistance. The lake is almost surrounded by boiling springs, mud volcanoes, and solfataras. I think it is probable that there are many hot springs in the deep part of the lake, as it is pleasantly warm to bathe in; which is not to be expected from the natural temperature of the atmosphere, which here is exceedingly chilly, - the missionaries say it is the coldest place in the island: the thermometer was rarely above fifty-eight in-doors, and in the evening the fire was always very much in request. We arrived at Roturoa in the evening, and received a hearty welcome from Mr. Chapman, the only missionary there at the time. I found from him, there would be some difficulty in getting on, as the influenza was more recent here than at Tawranga - and consequently the people were weaker: he however, promised to assist me to the utmost of his power. Mr. Chapman had just returned from Towpo, and was the first white man who had ever penetrated so far, - he had been obliged to return sooner than he wished, in consequence of the illness of his natives, some of whom he left behind. As I could not get away from Roturoa for two or three days, I employed myself in visiting the hot spring, &c. on the lake. The shores are barren and low; but there are high hills rising all round at no great distance, generally sloping up immediately from the water, and covered with trees at the summit: the hills are from six hundred to a thousand feet high, and have a very barren appearance. The island, nearly in the middle of the lake, is about five hundred feet high, and is very steep; it is a mile long, and there may be fifty
acres of it sufficiently level for cultivation. These level spots are carefully planted with kormeras [Sweet potatoes], corn, &c., but are not rich enough for potatoes, which are never planted by the natives but on newly-cleared land, which they abandon after the third year’s crop; it then becomes covered with fern, and in a few years more is rendered fit for nothing by the constant fires destroying whatever vegetable matter is formed by the decayed plant.
There are numerous hot springs on the island; they are all at the edge of the lake, and formed into baths by the natives making an open wall of stone around them, so as to admit a sufficiency of cold water to render them bearable to the skin. In all of them, although nearly boiling and strongly impregnated with sulphuric acid, there may be seen plants growing independently of the patches of green which cover the bottom. Several of the springs contain sulphuret of iron, as may be seen by the stones, all of which are bronzed by the deposit, often so completely as to look like pieces of pyrites. There are great numbers of shell-fish in the lake, and also craw-fish, sometimes eight inches long; both of which are articles of food for the natives, and of great consequence to them, as there are no fish except eels, which are scarce, and some little fish not so large as minnows, which they catch in nets made in the shape of a sparrow-trap, and eat dried. The largest hot springs are at the great Pa, one of which is eight or nine feet across, with a stream running from it four feet wide: the water at the place whence it issues is, I have no doubt, hotter than boiling, as it appears to come up in the form of steam; it is quite clear, and has but little taste, although it smells strongly of sulphuric acid: the rocks around are encrusted with a whitish efflorescence of an intensely sour taste, which I regret I had no means of pre-
serving. The natives cook all their food in the streams of hot water, by putting it into a basket and letting the water flow through it; it does not at all injure the flavour of the vegetables, but I never tasted any meat so cooked. The whole of the ground about the great Pa is full of springs and holes from which steam escapes, so that great caution is required in walking about, as a false step might sink you to your middle in boiling mud. The sites of the springs are constantly changing; and a place which to-day is quite hard, may to-morrow break in when trodden upon. Deaths arising from accidents of this kind are very frequent - the whole ground is so hot that the insides of the native huts are hardly bearable, and must, I think, be very unwholesome. There was plenty of very fine tobacco growing near, although I never at any other place met with any that was worth gathering. I saw here, for the first time, a chief fed by a woman - not being able to feed himself because he was tabooed: it had a most ridiculous appearance to see a full-grown man fed like a child with pap. The food was in a calabash, and pushed by the woman’s fingers to the edge, so that it should fall into his mouth. About a mile from the Pa, are a number of mud volcanoes (if they may be so called), consisting of hollows, varying from fifty to one hundred and fifty feet across, filled with mud, about the consistence in general of pea soup. This mud is constantly bubbling, and making a most curious noise; in some of the holes there have been formed cones of mud about ten feet high; in these places it is of a somewhat thicker consistence, and I suppose the bubbles always escape at the same places. The mud is not hot, and the water which drains off is very nauseous, quite different in taste from that of the hot springs, which might be drunk on an emergency. There is about a square mile covered with these mud-springs, the paths between the hollows not being more in many instances
than a foot wide; it is a most desolate place, and the country around very barren - quite different from what it is in the neighbourhood of the hot springs. About four miles off is the largest solfatara in the neighbourhood; it is in a little valley, and the actual hot portion is about a hundred and fifty yards across, with a muddy hollow in the middle, out of which runs a stream of hot water: the chrystals of sulphur in the crevices are very beautiful, but it was impossible to take away any specimens without breaking them. I do not know to what depth the sulphur extends, but it did not seem to be above two feet; after that depth there appeared to be nothing but earth, or at all events the earth formed the larger portion of the mass I dug up. The sulphureous rock was very hot even on the surface, but closely surrounded by vegetation. I had knocked off a number of specimens to bring away, when the natives said I should not have them unless I paid for them. I told them I should not want them at all, but that if they would carry them to the boat, which was about a mile and a half off, they should have a fig of tobacco; which arrangement compromised the matter. I had an instance of their thieving talents here for the first time:- I had taken off my coat in order to climb a tree, and when I wanted to find some tobacco which I had put into my pocket, it was missing. This was, however, almost a solitary instance of my losing anything by the natives of this part of the island: of those in the Thames I cannot say so much.
After two or three days delay, I started from Roturoa with the same natives I had before, and one or two extra ones; among whom was a chief called Rangey-o-nare, who went, he said, as my friend. I found this gentleman very useful in carrying me over muddy places, rivers, &c. on his back; he being the only one of the company at liberty for that purpose, all the others
being laden with food, &c., which the chiefs are prohibited from carrying on their backs. I did not wish him to go, but was glad of his company afterwards; he was a very quiet fellow, and made himself as useful as could be expected of a chief; the only thing he ever refused was to lend me his tomahawk to cut sticks for firewood - it being “taboo,” for cutting open men’s heads, I suppose: however, he had no objection to cutting a walking stick or a tent-pole with it, - a distinction which seems rather ridiculous. The first day’s march from Roturoa was about ten miles only, as we started late: the road led through the mud-springs I have mentioned, and was very barren. We crossed several streams, and encamped at the entrance of a wood, where there were several old huts and a potato plantation. The natives had a large copper mowrie to cook the pork they had brought with them; and for the first time I saw them eat the common milk-thistle; they cook it as constantly as the leaves of the wild turnip and cabbage, and seem to relish it just as much: it is so precisely like the English milk-thistle, that I am almost inclined to think it must have come with the potatoe. There is another plant which has puzzled me - the common plantain, which is everywhere quite as general as in England; I can see no difference: not being an article of food, the natives can tell nothing about how or when it came. Were the contrary not well known, the potatoe might be taken for an indigenous plant, as it is impossible to go anywhere without finding it growing wild. As we know it has not been introduced more than fifty years, this diffusion of the root may be considered wonderful. We may be led to suppose, from this circumstance, that the climate is exceedingly favourable to the growth of the potatoe; yet New Zealand potatoes in general are very bad, and will not fetch in Sydney above half the price of those from Van Diemen’s Land.
February 24th. - The character of the country in this day’s
march began entirely to change: after a few miles the fern completely vanished, and was replaced by a short wiry grass growing in tufts about a foot high. The road was level, although we were surrounded by hills at no great distance. These were generally quite barren to the very tops. There was, however, a remarkable exception on our right: this was a long mountain called the Horohoro; its direction was about south-west; and it formed the boundary of the plain as perfectly as if it had been a straight wall, which it in some degree resembled. It was, in fact, a perpendicular wall of basaltic rock, rising to about 2000 feet from the surface of the plain; perfectly level on the top, and covered with trees; then suddenly descending perpendicularly for about half its height, and presenting a straight bare wall of rock, rising as it were out of the top of a long, steep, thickly-wooded hill. It was one of the most wonderful as well as most picturesque objects I ever saw. Our road lay parallel with it, and at the end passed round its base. We had crossed several small streams during the morning, and here met with one about ten yards across and two feet deep, which, like all the small rivers I have seen in this country, appeared to have no valley, but to have its course excavated perpendicularly out of the plain to a great depth. After crossing the stream, we had a curious place to ascend on the other side; the path leading up a very steep ridge of hard earth, not above a foot wide, formed apparently by the river making a very sharp turn just at that place, so as on one side of the ridge to be running very nearly in a contrary direction to the other. There I found a new use for my friend the chief. It began to rain very hard, and as Rangey-o-nare and I were ahead of the rest, I should have been thoroughly drenched, had it not been for a plan of his. I sat down on the earth, and he stood up behind me, stooping over my head, and holding out his mat, and seeming just as much diverted
at the ridiculous figure we cut as I was: however, it answered the required purpose famously, and as there was nobody else to laugh at us, l did not care. As we went on, the land became more and more barren and level, till it became a mere moor, without a shrub, and almost without vegetation; a few bushes of the miserable-looking Dracophyllum being all that occurred to break the monotony of the plain. I discovered here an extraordinary Composite little plant, so small that I took it for a lichen; it grew in flat hard grey patches, and did not rise higher than a quarter of an inch; the patches were in general winding, and I am convinced the sharpest-eyed botanist would have at first mistaken them as I did. I afterwards found another but larger specimen of the same plant, growing near the limits of snow, on the mountains.
As we approached the Waikato, the grass began to improve, especially when we left the plains and entered the narrow valleys, in some of which it was equal, if not superior, to any of the best forest-lands of New South Wales. One plant also of the dandelion family became very abundant, and, I think, would be an acquisition to any pastures even at home, as it would be in perfection in that part of the summer when most grasses are withered. It has narrow grass-like leaves, which grow in thick upright tufts - not spreading, like most plants of the family. Its taste was equal to lettuce. We crossed a large river within about a mile of its junction with the Waikato. It was above thirty yards wide, and about five feet deep. Immediately on leaving its banks, the road passed through a narrow valley, at the other end of which was a remarkable rock, which, the natives said, was formerly a very strong Pa. It appeared as if an immense mass, almost as square as a die, had been pitched from a distance on the top of a small hill, into which one of its corners had stuck. How it came there must be left to conjecture, for it does not appear