According to Omai’s report of what he learnt in conversation with his three countrymen, the manners of these islanders, their method of treating strangers, and their general habits of life, are much like those that prevail at Otaheite, and its neighbouring isles. Their religious ceremonies and opinions are also nearly the same. For, upon seeing one man who was painted all over of a deep black colour, and enquiring the reason, our gentlemen were told that he had lately been paying the last good offices to a deceased friend; and they found, that it was upon similar occasions the women cut themselves, as already mentioned. From, every circumstance, indeed, it is indubitable, that the natives of Wateeoo sprung originally from the same stock, which hath spread itself so wonderfully all over the immense extent of the South Sea. One would suppose, however, that they put in their claim to a more illustrious extraction; for Omai assured us, that they dignified their island with the appellation of Wenooa no te Eatooa, that is, A land of gods; esteeming themselves a sort of divinities, and possessed with the spirit of the Eatooa. This wild enthusiastic notion Omai seemed much to approve of, telling us there were instances of its being entertained at Otaheite, but that it was universally prevalent amongst the inhabitants of Mataia, or Osnaburg Island.
The language spoken at Wateeoo was equally well understood by Omai, and by our two New Zealanders. What its peculiarities may be, when compared with the other dialects, I am not able to point out; for, though Mr Anderson had taken care to note down a specimen of it, the natives, who made no distinction of the objects of their theft, stole the memorandum book.
Wenooa-ette, or Otokootaia, visited.—Account of that Island, and of its Produce.—Hervey’s Island, or Terougge mou Attooa, found to be inhabited.—Transactions with the Natives,—Their Persons, Dress, Language, Canoes.—Fruitless Attempt to land there.—Reasons for bearing away for the Friendly Islands.—Palmerston’s Island touched at.—Description of the two Places where the Boats landed.—Refreshments obtained there.—Conjectures on the Formation of such low Islands.—Arrival at the Friendly Islands.
Light airs and calms having prevailed, by turns, all the night of the 3d of April, the easterly swell had carried the ships some distance from Wateeoo before day-break. But as I had failed in my object of procuring at that place some effectual supply, I saw no reason for staying there any longer. I therefore quitted it, without regret, and steered, for the neighbouring island, which, as has been mentioned, we discovered three days before.