Some time ago Mr Busby suffered a far more serious attack; a chief & a party of men tried to break into his house in the middle of the night, & not finding this so easy, commenced a brisk firing with their muskets. Mr Busby was slightly wounded, but the party was at length driven away. Shortly afterwards it was discovered who was the aggressor, & a general meeting of the chiefs was convened to consider the case. — It was considered by the New Zealanders as very atrocious, in as much as it was a night attack, & that Mrs Busby was lying ill in the house afterher confinement: this circumstance, much to their honour, being considered in all cases as a protection. The chiefs agreed to confiscate the land to the King of England: — The whole proceeding, however, in thus trying & punishing a chief was entirely without precedent. The aggressor moreover lost caste in the estimation of his equals; & this was considered by the British as of more consequence than the confiscation.
As the boat was shoving off, a second chief stepped in her, who only wanted the amusement of the passage up & down the creek. I never saw a more horrid & ferocious expression than this man had: it immediately struck me I had seen his likeness; it will be found in Retzch's outlines of Schiller's ballad, where two men are pushing Robert into the burning iron furnace; it is the man who has his arm on Robert's breast. Physiognomy here spoke the truth; this chief had been a notorious murderer & was to boot an arrant coward. — At the point where the boat landed, Mr Busby accompanied me a few hundred yards on the road; I could not help admiring the cool impudence of the hoary old villain, whom we left lying in the boat, when he shouted to Mr Busby, "Do not you stay long, I shall be tired of waiting here".
We now commenced our walk; the road lay along a well beaten path, bordered on each side by the tall fern which covers the whole country. After travelling some miles, we came to a little country village where a few hovels were collected together & some patches of ground cultivated for potato crops. The introduction of the potato had been of the most essential benefit to the island; it is now much more used than any native vegetable. New Zealand is favourable by one great natural advantage, namely that the inhabitants can never perish from famine. The whole country abounds with fern, & the roots of this, if not very palatable, yet contain much nutriment: — A native can always subsist on them & on the shell fish, which is very abundant on all parts of the sea shore. The villages are chiefly conspicuous by the platforms which are raised on four posts, ten or twelve feet above the ground & on which the produce of the fields is kept secure from all accidents. — On coming near to one of the huts, I was much amused by seeing in due form the ceremony of rubbing, or as it would be more properly called, pressing noses. The women on our first approach began uttering something in a most dolorous plaintive voice, they then squatted themselves down & held up their faces; my companions standing over them placed the bridges of their own noses at right angles to theirs, & commenced pressing; this lasted rather longer than a cordial shake of the hand would with us; as we vary the force of the grasp of the hand in shaking, so do they in pressing. During the process they utter comfortable little grunts, very much in the same manner as two pigs do when rubbing against each other. I noticed that the slave would press noses with any one he met, indifferently either before or after his master, the Chief. Although amongst savages the chief has absolute power of life & death over his slave, yet there is generally an entire absence of ceremony between them. Mr Burchell has remarked the same thing in Southern Africa with the rude Bachapins. Where civilization has arrived at a certain point, as among the Tahitians, complex formalities are soon instituted between the different grades of life. For instance in the above island every one was formerly obliged to uncover themselves as low as the waist in presence of the king.
The ceremony of pressing noses having been completed with all present, we seated ourselves in a circle in front of one of the houses & rested there half an hour. — All the native hovels which I have seen, have nearly the same form & dimensions & all agree in being filthily dirty. They resemble a cow shed with one end open; but having a partition a little way within, with a square hole in it, which cuts off a part & makes a small gloomy chamber. When the weather is cold the inhabitants sleep there & likewise keep all their property. They eat, however, & pass their time in the open part in front.
My guides having finished their pipes, we continued our walk. The path led through the same undulating country, the whole uniformly clothed as before with fern. On our right hand we had a serpentine river, the banks of which were fringed with trees & here & there on the hill sides there were clumps of wood. — The whole scene, in spite of its green color, bore rather a desolate aspect; the sight of so much fern impresses the mind with an idea of useless sterility; this, however, is not the case, for wherever the fern grows thick & breast high, the land by tillage becomes productive. I have heard it asserted, & I think with much probability, that all this extensive open country was once covered by forests, & that it had been cleared ages past by the aid of fire. — It is said that frequently by digging in the barest spots, lumps of that kind of rosin which flows from the Kauri pine, are found. — The natives had an evident motive in thus clearing the country, for in such parts the fern, formerly so staple an article of food, best flourishes. The almost entire absence of associated grasses which forms so remarkable a feature in the vegetation of this Island, may perhaps be accounted for by the open parts being the work of man, while Nature had designed the country for forest land. — The soil is volcanic; in several parts we passed over slaggy and vesicular lavas & the form of a crater was clearly to be distinguished in several of the neighbouring hills. — Although the scenery is nowhere beautiful & only occasionally pretty I enjoyed my walk; I should have enjoyed it more if my companion, the chief, had not possessed extraordinary conversational powers. I only knew three words, good — bad — & yes: with these I answered all his remarks, without of course having understood one word he said. This was quite sufficient. I was a good listener, — an agreeable person, — & he never ceased talking to me.
At length we reached Waimate; after having passed over so many miles of an uninhabited useless country, the sudden appearance of an English farm house & its well dressed fields, placed there as if by an enchanter's wand, was exceedingly pleasing. — Mr Williams not being at home, I received in Mr Davies' house a cordial & pleasant welcome. — After drinking tea with his family party, we took a stroll about the farm. — At Waimate there are three large houses, where the Missionary gentlemen Mrs Williams, Davies & Clarke reside; near to these are the huts of the native labourers, — On an adjoining slope fine crops of barley & wheat in full ear, & others of potatoes & of clover were standing; but I cannot attempt to describe all I saw; there were large gardens, with every fruit & vegetable which England produces & many belonging to a warmer clime. — I may instance asparagus, kidney beans, cucumbers, rhubarb, apples & pears, figs, peaches, apricots, grapes, olives, gooseberries, currants, hops, gorse for fences, & English oaks! & many different kinds of flowers. Around the farm yard were stables, a threshing barn with its winnowing machine, a blacksmiths forge & on the ground ploughshares & other tools; in the middle was that happy mixture of pigs & poultry which may be seen so comfortably lying together in every English farm yard. At the distance of a few hundred yards, where the water of a little rill has been dammed up into a pool, a large & substantial water-mill had been erected. All this is very surprising when it is considered that five years ago nothing but the fern here flourished. Moreover native workmanship taught by the Missionaries has effected this change: — the lesson of the Missionary is the enchanter's wand. The house has been built, the windows framed, the fields ploughed, even the trees grafted by the New Zealander. At the mill a New Zealander may be seen powdered white with flour, like his brother miller in England. — When I looked at this whole scene I thought it admirable. — It was not that England was vividly brought before my mind; yet as the evening drew to a close, the domestic sounds, the fields of corn, the distant country with its trees now appearing like pasture land, all might well be mistaken for such. — Nor was it the triumphant feeling at seeing what Englishmen could effect: but a thing of far more consequence; — the object for which this labor had been bestowed, — the moral effect on the native inhabitant of New Zealand.
The whole Missionary system appears to me very different from that of Tahiti; much more attention is there paid to religious instruction & to the direct improvement of the mind; here more to the arts of civilization. I do not doubt in both cases the same object is in view: — judging from the success alone I should rather lean to the Tahiti side; probably however each system is best adapted to the country where it is followed. The mind of a Tahitian is certainly one of a higher order, & on the other hand the New Zealander, not being able to pluck from the tree that shades his house the breadfruit & banana, would naturally turn his attention with more readiness to the Arts. — When comparing the state of New Zealand to Tahiti it must always be remembered that from the respective forms of government, the Missionaries have here to labor at a task many times more difficult. — The Reviewer of Mr Earle's travels in the Quarterly Journal, by pointing out a more advantageous line of conduct for the Missionaries, evidently considers that too much attention has been paid to religious instruction in proportion to other subjects. This opinion being so very different from the one at which I arrived, any third person hearing the two sides would probably conclude that the Missionaries had been the best judges & had chosen the right path.
Several young men were employed about the farm, who had been brought up by the Missionaries, having been redeemed by them from slavery. They were dressed in a shirt & jacket & had a respectable appearance. Judging from one trifling anecdote I should think they must be honest; when walking in the fields, a young labourer came up to Mr Davies & gave him a knife & gimlet, saying he had found them on the road & did not know to whom they belonged! — These young men & boys appeared very merry & good-humoured; in the evening I saw a party of them playing cricket; when I thought of the Austerity of which the Missionaries have been accused, I was amused at seeing one of their sons taking an active part in the game. — A more decided & pleasing change was manifest in the young women who acted as servants within the houses; their clean tidy & healthy appearance, like that of dairy maids in England, formed a wonderful contrast with the women of the filthy hovels in Kororarika. — The wives of the Missionaries tried to persuade them not to be tattooed; but a famous operator having arrived from the South they said, "We really must just have a few lines on our lips; else when we grow old our lips will shrivel & we shall be so very ugly". — Tattooing is not generally nearly so much practised as formerly; but as it is a badge of distinction between the Chief & the Slave, it will not probably very soon be disused. So soon does any train of ideas become habitual, that the Missionaries told me that even in their eyes a plain face looks mean & not like that of a New Zealand gentleman.
Late in the evening I went to Mr Williams' house where I passed the night. — I found there a very large party of children, collected together for Christmas day, & who were sitting round a table at tea. I never saw a nicer or more merry group: — & to think that this was in the centre of the land of cannibalism, murder & all atrocious crimes! The cordiality & the happiness so plainly pictured in the faces of the little circle is, I believe from what I could see, equally felt by the older persons of the Mission.
Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
On the 23d, I went with Mr. Baker to Tipuna, the place where the first missionaries, Mr. King and Mr. Kendal, established themselves in 1813. Mr. King was absent, but I saw his wife and son, who told me that he was travelling about among the natives, and would not return for several days; he was on horseback, his son said, but quite alone. Mrs. King described the former state of things which she had witnessed herself in strong terms; she could not look back to those days without shuddering. Being told in the evening, that "before morning their house would be in flames;" and that "stones were heating for the oven in which they themselves were to be cooked," was a quieting farewell, from a mob of angry natives, on more than one occasion. But Mr. King always found a trusty friend in a chief, whose name has been often noticed—'Waripoaka.' I met him near the house, in company with a young chief, whose sense of propriety was so delicate that he would not appear before Mrs. King, because he was not dressed 'well enough!' Waripoaka was satisfied with his own attire, and went with us. To my prejudiced eye, the dress of the young man, a mat, or mantle of the country, loosely wrapped around a fine figure, appeared far more suitable than the long-tailed old coat, thread-bare pantaloons, and worn-out hat, which utterly disguised and disfigured the old chief.
Mr. King's son talked of his sheep, and I found that though not more than eighteen or twenty, he was already a farmer, possessing land and a flock of sheep. Returning by a different route, we landed upon an island lately bought from the natives by two persons who had been masters of whale-ships.
This island, purchased for a trifling price, will become very valuable, as the trade to the Bay of Islands increases; and I regretted to see a spot of such future consequence in the hands of men, whose verbal attacks upon the missionaries, and illiberal aspersions of Mr. Busby's character, disgusted me so much that I had hardly patience to make the inquiries which were the object of my visit; or to wait while Mr. Baker told them of a plan which was in contemplation among the settlers, for the prevention, or at least restriction, of the sale of spirits.
Such men as these, strongly prejudiced, deaf to reason, and too often habitually vicious; run-away convicts, whose characters may be imagined; and democratic seceders from regular government, cause the principal difficulties against which honest, upright settlers, and the whole missionary body, have to contend. One of the men, whose share in the property of the island I have been regretting, was partly intoxicated while we were with him; but Waripoaka, who accompanied us, significantly warned me of his state as I entered the house.