After witnessing several parties perform their funeral ceremonies, and imbibing, in some degree, the melancholy tone of mind such a sight must necessarily create, we arose and joined Mooetara. Here I witnessed a scene that reminded me of an English country fair. An immense number of temporary huts had been erected for the accommodation of the chiefs and their families, where they might repose after their exertions, while their slaves cooked their provisions, of which an abundant quantity had been provided, consisting of piles of kumara and Indian corn, with heaps of fish, which were served out, to all who came for them, with a most liberal hand, and which, of course, added not a little to the pleasure of the day. After all had satisfied their hunger (and even the lowest slaves were permitted, on this occasion, to have as much as they wished for) they jumped up, flew to their muskets, and commenced their war dance with great noise and vigour. The violence of their exertions caused their recent wounds to bleed afresh, and added much to the horror of their hideous grimaces. They then divided into two parties, and had a sham battle. I must here do justice to the temperate habits of my savage friends. During my residence in New Zealand, I have known but very few who were addicted to drinking, and I scarcely ever saw one of them in a state of intoxication; and, on this occasion, where a profusion of what they esteem delicacies was provided gratuitously, they partook so moderately of the tempting fare as not to be prevented using the most violent exertions immediately after their meal. The entertainment being now over, the different parties gathered up what remained of the portions of food distributed to them, and without taking any leave of their entertainer, or returning any thanks for his bountiful providing, they all entered their canoes and paddled away.
CHARACTER OF THE NEW ZEALANDERS.
An unfortunate prejudice has gone forth into the world against the natives of New Zealand, which I have always endeavoured to counteract from a sense of justice, and, from a careful review of those circumstances which have fallen immediately under my own observation; this prejudice has long retarded our knowledge of their true character, but error must gradually give way to truth; and as the circumstances which first brought the stigma upon their name come to light, and are investigated and properly explained, I feel confident the conduct of these islanders will be found superior to that of any other nation in the South Seas. If we take the whole catalogue of dreadful massacres they have been charged with, and (setting aside partiality for our own countrymen) allow them to be carefully examined, it will be found that we have invariably been the aggressors; and when we have given serious cause of offence, can we be so irrational as to express astonishment that a savage should seek revenge?