MASSACRE OF A SCHOONER’S CREW.
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.