The natives of New Zealand pay the greatest respect to courage and war-like talents: these were the only distinguishing characteristics of Hongi; yet, by possessing these, he was more feared, and had a greater number of followers, than any other chief in the island. His hereditary possessions were but small, and his name was little known; yet his undaunted courage, his skill, and success in many sanguinary battles, made him, at length, a most powerful chief, and obtained for him that which is considered wealth in this country, namely, an immense number of slaves. In his last moments he was attended by more men of rank than had ever before assembled to witness the dissolution of a warrior, and this is considered the greatest proof of attention and respect one chieftain can show towards another.
A TRIBAL CONFLICT.
Our brig now sailed for Hokianga to take in a cargo of planks; and my friend, Mr. Shand, being tired of wandering, accompanied her; but I, being still anxious to procure more sketches of this interesting country, determined to remain as long as possible, and to take one more walk across the island, and join the brig by the time she was loaded. I was preparing to start on my last pedestrian tour, when a chain of events occurred which threw all the tribes into confusion. Bloodshed and devastation stared me in the face from all quarters; and from the state of security I had imagined myself to be in, I was roused to behold myself beset with difficulties; to crown which, our brig, which would have been a place of safety and refuge, was now on the opposite side of the island.
Arising from a trifling circumstance, which was partly caused by us, though innocently, Pomare’s only son had lost his life; and, as is usual among savage tribes, the severest retaliation soon took place.
By relating the particulars, the reader will perceive how easily the war-cry is raised among these turbulent savages.
Pomare’s only surviving son. Tiki, was a very finely-formed, handsome young man, of twenty years of age, and he had made an arrangement with a captain of a ship here to supply him with a certain number of hogs. Accordingly, accompanied by a party of his friends, he started into the interior for the purpose of collecting them. In making his selection, he not only proceeded to drive off some of his own, but actually laid claim to, and began marching away with, some belonging to his neighbours. The right owners remonstrated with him in vain. He, being an insolent, over-bearing young fellow, persisted in his unjust claims, and set them all at defiance. They were compelled to yield up their property, as his tribe was a most powerful one; and Tiki was driving away the stolen hogs in triumph, when a sudden stop was put to his predatory career. Finding words were of no avail to induce the young man to restore the swine, one of the injured party had recourse to a musket. A bullet, aimed from behind a tree, killed Tiki on the spot; but from whose hand it came could only be conjectured. The greatest confusion instantly took place. His companions, being well armed, the war-cry was immediately raised; and the fray becoming general, seven more lives were lost.