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.

It is rather a remarkable and novel circumstance that the natives, who have been now for fourteen or fifteen years in close intercourse and carrying on traffic with Europeans, should not, in the course of that period, understand the nature and value of money; a laughable instance of which occurred to us a few days since.  A native came to our house with a serious countenance and business-like manner, and said he wished to purchase a musket:  we asked to see what he had brought in exchange for one, when, with great ceremony, he produced a copper penny piece in the way of payment.  The poor fellow had, doubtless, seen some one pass a doubloon, and had mistaken his penny for one; as a doubloon is about the price given for a musket in our regulated list of charges.  We, of course, refrained from laughter; but he was quite astonished and mortified when he was made to understand we could not trade with him.  He took a stroll round the beach, offering his penny, by way of barter, to every white man he met, but everywhere with equally bad success.



When our brig left Tucopea she brought away two natives of that island, who had most earnestly entreated the captain to take them off, and leave them upon any other land he pleased, as, according to their statement, Tucopea was so overstocked with inhabitants that it was scarcely possible to find subsistence; and the scarcity of food had become so general, that parents destroyed their children rather than witness their sufferings from famine.  Captain Kent, therefore, from motives of compassion, received them on board his ship; and, not having touched at any inhabited spot, brought them with him here.  Their extraordinary appearance excited a great deal of surprise, both among Europeans and New Zealanders.  They appeared simple, timid creatures, though stout and comely, but their hair was unlike anything I had before beheld, as in length it reached below the waist, and was so abundantly thick as completely to conceal their faces.  By some curious chemical process which the natives of Tucopea have discovered, they render their hair a bright sulphur colour; and, as this mass of yellow hangs over their faces and shoulders, they bear the most striking resemblance to the lion monkeys of the Brazils.

These poor creatures, upon landing, shook with fear, and trembled greatly when they beheld the New Zealanders, whose character for cannibalism had reached even their remote island:  when our friend George went up to them, and lifted up (in order to examine closely) the curious mass of hair in which they were enveloped, they burst into a passionate fit of tears, and ran up to us for protection.  The New Zealanders, with characteristic cunning, perceiving the horror they had created, tormented them still more cruelly, by making grotesque signs, as if they were about to commence devouring them; and, at the same time (like most savages), evincing the most sovereign contempt for them, from their apparent pusillanimity.

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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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