A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827 eBook

Augustus Earle
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 197 pages of information about A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827.
and a lizard came upon that, and brought up a man out of the water by his long hair; and he was the father of all the New Zealanders.  Almost all their grotesque carvings are illustrations of this idea in some way or other.  The favourite theme on which (I observed) the missionaries discoursed to them were “the torments of hell.”  This has become a subject of ridicule to most of the natives; they do not deny that there may be such a place, but they add, it is not for them, for if Atua had intended it so he would have sent them word about it long before he sent the white men into their country; and they conclude by stating that they know perfectly well the situation of the island where they are to go to after this life.



While remaining here wind-bound, in imaginary security, and amusing ourselves with noticing the curious customs and peculiarities of these islanders, a dreadful tragedy was taking place only a few miles’ distance from us, and to which I before alluded, when I mentioned crossing the bar on our first arrival from Port Jackson.  The Enterprise schooner, a very fine vessel, which was built at the settlement on this river, had been sent to Sydney, and while we were lying there we were in hourly expectation of her return.  She did return.  The unfavourable weather which detained us so long proved fatal to her, and she was wrecked a few miles to the northward of the river’s mouth, and every soul on board perished.

The moment this catastrophe was known every European hastened to the spot, and, with feelings of horror, perceived but too plainly, from the appearance of the wreck and the boat, and by finding also the clothes of the crew, that they had reached the shore in safety, and had afterwards all been murdered; but how, or by whom, it was impossible to discover.  The most probable conclusion was that the tribes situated around the European dockyard at Hokianga, having meditated for some time past a great war-like expedition, waited the return of this schooner from Sydney to possess themselves of an additional supply of arms and ammunition, which might enable them to take the field with a certainty of conquest.  They had regularly purchased the cargo of this vessel by their labour and their merchandise, and the schooner was merely employed to convey it thither from Sydney, for the use of the natives; unhappily for the poor creatures on board, in running for the mouth of the river, she fell to leeward, and got stranded on the beach, in the very territory of that tribe against whom these preparations were made—­the tribe intended to be invaded.  Though no formal declaration of war had taken place, the tribes well knew the preparations that were making against them, and the nature of the cargo contained in The Enterprise; falling into the hands of such fierce and vindictive savages, the fate of the crew may be imagined—­all our poor fellows were sacrificed to gratify their feelings of revenge.

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A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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