Of all animals introduced by the Europeans, the most unserviceable, and indeed injurious, have been the dogs. They have increased rapidly; every spot was crowded with poor half-starved curs, that were all night long committing depredations on the poultry, pigs, and goats; and if some effectual means of diminishing this pernicious breed is not soon resorted to, the island will be cleared of every other quadruped. Goats were beginning to increase, and the craggy heights round the bays formed a favourite retreat for these interesting wanderers. Captain Duke put himself to great expense and trouble, and effected the importation of some sheep from Van Diemen’s Land; but the dogs soon destroyed them all.
Our friend George generally paid us a visit after the business of the day was over, and took a cup of tea; wine or grog he detested: so, while he sipped his beverage, we lit our pipes, and managed, with our slight knowledge of his language, together with his imperfect English, to keep up a sort of conversation. Sometimes this was rather wearisome; but occasionally it became interesting in the extreme. He told us that, when Captain Cook touched here, he was a little child; but that his mother (old Turero, who was then with him) remembered his coming well. The French navigator, Marion, he recollected perfectly, and made one of the party that murdered him and his people. His observation was, “They were all brave men; but they were killed and eaten.”
He assured us that the catastrophe was quite unpremeditated. Marion’s entire ignorance of the customs of the New Zealanders occasioned that distressing event: as I have before observed, that strangers, not acquainted with their religious prejudices, are likely to commit some fatal error; and no action is more likely to lead a party into danger than an incautious use of the seine, for most of the beaches (best suited for that purpose) are taboo’d. This led to the dreadful fate of Marion and his party. I understood from George, that when Marion’s men assembled to trail their net on the sacred beach, the natives used every kind of entreaty and remonstrance to induce them to forbear, but, either from ignorance or obstinacy, they persisted in their intentions, and drew their net to land.
The natives, greatly incensed by this act of impiety, vowed revenge; and the suspicions of the French not being roused, an opportunity soon presented itself of taking ample retaliation. The seine being very heavy, the French required the assistance of the natives in drawing it on shore. These wily fellows instantly consented to the task, and placed themselves alternately between each Frenchman, apparently, to equalise the work. Consequently, in the act of pulling, each native had a white man before him; and, on an appointed signal, the brains of each European were knocked out by a tremendous blow of the stone hatchet.