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

Augustus Earle
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 169 pages of information about A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827.

We found “all right” on board the brig; but as she was chartered to go to Tongataboo I and my friend Shand determined to remain at New Zealand till her return.  Our principal difficulty seemed to be which side of the island we should make choice of for a dwelling-place.  When it became known to the natives that we intended to remain with them, several chiefs came and offered us their protection; and each would have built us a house, but we preferred making our sojourn at the Bay of Islands.  We were often at a loss how to evade the kind importunities of our savage hosts without giving them offence.  “Is not our country as good as theirs?”—­“Are you not as safe amongst us?”—­“Are we not as willing and as capable of protecting you as Shulitea?” These were the arguments they used; and, finally, we were obliged to inform them that we had a friend and countryman (Captain Duke) settled on the other side, who was preparing a house for our reception.  On being informed of this circumstance they consented to part with us, though evidently with great reluctance.

While we lay here the ship Harmony, of London, Captain Middleton, arrived from Sydney for a cargo of spars.  So large a vessel entering the port put the whole district into commotion; and when the chiefs understood the nature of her wants, and had seen the fine double-barrelled guns and store of powder to be given as payment for the wished-for freight, they hastened to the woods, and the axe was soon laid to the roots of the trees.  I saw them pursuing their laborious employ with alacrity.  In a few days a sufficient number of fine logs came floating down the river to load the ship, and they were all cleared in a workmanlike manner, ready to stow away.  The chief things to induce these people to work are firearms and powder; these are two stimulants to their industry which never fail.

CHAPTER XXI.

Death of A great chief.

A few days after our return to Hokianga we received intelligence that A Rowa, the father of Mooetara, and the eldest chief in the district, was dead.  These deaths, when they occur among men of rank, are generally accompanied by some horrible scenes of butchery among their slaves—­a common custom among all savages, but practised here (I was informed) with peculiar cruelty.  We went on shore to witness the ceremony of A Rowa’s lying in state, hoping at the same time that our presence might induce them to dispense with some of those barbarous cruelties which generally accompany their funeral rites.  We had, indeed, every reason to think we had conjectured rightly, for nothing of the kind took place; which was considered by all as a circumstance somewhat remarkable.  A great concourse of savages had assembled all round the village of the deceased chief, and there was a tremendous firing of muskets, but no particular marks of grief.  I spoke to Mooetara, and requested,

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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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