I regretted much that we did not hear of this ship while we were in the sound; as, by means of Omai, we might have had full and correct information about her from eyewitnesses. For Taweiharooa’s account was only from what he had been told, and therefore liable to many mistakes. I have not the least doubt, however, that his testimony may so far be depended upon, as to induce us to believe that a ship really had been at Teerawitte prior to my arrival in the Endeavour, as it corresponds with what I had formerly heard. For in the latter end of 1773, the second time I visited New Zealand, during my late voyage, when we were continually making enquiries about the Adventure, after our separation, some of the natives informed us of a ship’s having been in a port on the coast of Teerawitte. But, at this time, we thought we must have misunderstood them, and took no notice of the intelligence.
The arrival of this unknown ship has been marked by the New Zealanders with more causes of remembrance than the unhappy one just mentioned. Taweiharooa told us their country was indebted to her people for the present of an animal, which they left behind them. But as he had not seen it himself, no sort of judgment could be formed from his description of what kind it was.
We had another piece of intelligence from him, more correctly given, though not confirmed by our own observations, that there are snakes and lizards there of an enormous size. He described the latter as being eight feet in length, and as big round as a man’s body. He said they sometimes seize and devour men; that they burrow in the ground; and that they are killed by making fires at the mouths of the holes. We could not be mistaken as to the animal; for, with his own hand, he drew a very good representation of a lizard on a piece of paper, as also of a snake, in order to shew what he meant.