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individual, will prove what wonders may be wrought by a union of enterprise, perseverance, and resolution, in the same mind.*
In some points of view, we apprehend, the New Zealanders are among the most extraordinary people of whom we have any knowledge. No authentic record can be found of a people more thoroughly and shockingly savage; more fierce in their passions, insatiate in their revenge, bloodthirsty in their wars, or inhuman in their treatment of enemies; and, at the same time, they are not less distinguished for the strength of their affections, unshaken attachment to their relations, grief at the loss of friends, and reverence for the memory of the dead. These extremes we know are common to all savages, but in the New Zealanders we'believe they run to a much greater extent, than in any other tribes of the human race, with whom civilized men have been acquainted. In their modes of living, and in the general features of their character, they resemble the other South Sea Islanders; but they exhibit stronger contrasts, and have customs peculiar to themselves.
The climate of New Zealand is temperate, and adapted to almost every production of European growth; but the natives cultivate hardly anything, except sweet potatoes, which they call koomeras. These are produced in great abundance, and deposited for common use in public storehouses. The time of the koomera harvest is a season of dancing and festivity. Fern roots, wild celery, cresses, and a few other indigenous vegetables are used for food. Fish in great variety, and of good quality, is abundant. The only quadrupeds, which Captain Cook were dogs and rats; but he left hogs on the island, which have since become numerous. Mr Marsden carried over horned cattle and horses, some of which were shot by the natives, because they trespassed on tabooed ground. The missionaries successfully cultivate wheat, other grain, and many kinds of garden vegetables introduced from England.
* The title of the work mentioned above is, 'A Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, and in Quest of a North West Passage between Asia and America; performed in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779. Illustrated with a Chart, showing the Tracks of the Ships employed in the Expedition. Faithfully narrated from the original Manuscript of Mr John Ledyard. Hartford, printed and sold by Nathaniel Potter, 1783.'
The New Zealand men are tall, well formed, and athletic, with a dark brown complexion, and black hair, which is commonly straight, but sometimes curled. The features of both sexes are regular, and some of the women are accounted beautiful. The dress of men and women is the same, consisting of two mats fashioned into garments, and worn one over the other. The under garment, in form and dimensions, resembles a blanket, and is thrown over the body like a mantle, in such a manner as to leave the right arm bare; it is made of the strong silky fibres of a species of grass, intermixed with dog's hair, and closely woven or matted together. The outer garment, which they call kakahow, is much coarser and thicker; it is confined around the neck, and descends scarcely below the middle of the body. The kakahow is chiefly intended as a defence against the inclemency of the weather. The ears of the women, and frequently of the men, are perforated with large holes, having been pierced in infancy, and so distended as to receive bits of wood, feathers, bones, and the teeth of fishes, as ornaments. They also wear suspended from the neck pieces of green talk, carved into grotesque shapes somewhat resembling the human figure. The men garber their hair into a bunch at the top of the head, and confine it there with combs of wood, or of bone, and adorn it with feathers; but the hair of the women either flows loosely over their shoulders, or is cut short. In neither men nor women is any covering ever worn on the head.
The houses, or huts, of the natives are small, built with a rough frame work of wood, covered and lined with grass firmly compacted, and sometimes with the bark of trees; they are seldom sufficiently elevated to admit a person to stand erect within them; and they have one opening only, which serves the double purpose of a door and window, and which is just large enough to allow a man to creep through it on his hands and knees. The houses of the chiefs commonly have a veranda, or porch, on the side, which is fantastically ornamented with paintings and carved work. Notwithstanding this rude construction of their dwellings, the want of better ones is hardly felt by the inhabitants, since it is customary with them to eat, sleep, and cook in the open air. • They take their rest,' says Captain Cruise, 'in a sitting posture, with their legs gathered under them; and from the
coarse texture of the outer mat, in which they envelope themselves, they have the appearance, during the night, of a number of beehives scattered in groups about a village. Ledyard mentions the same custom, and says, that, in this situation, a New Zealander under his mat exhibits the figure of a haycock surmounted by a human head. Fires are sometimes kindled in the huts, and Mr Marsden complains bitterly of the smoke and suffocating heat, which he was compelled to endure, when he crawled into them to avoid the cold of the external atmosphere in the night.
The government of New Zealand is much like that described by Ledyard, as existing at Otaheite, and resembling, as he remarks, the early state of every government, which, in an unimproved and unrefined state, is ever a kind of feudal system of subordination, securing licentious liberty to a few, and dependant servility to the rest.' This prevailing characteristic of savage governments, however, is to be received with some modifications in the case of the New Zealanders, The chiefs have a feudal jurisdiction, but their authority is absolute only in times of war.
Various gradations of power, and extent of possessions, pertain to different chiefs. Some hold large tracts of lands by hereditary right, and on these lands other inferior chiefs have possessions, and carry on their own cultivation, and manage their own affairs without any interference or control of the head chief. The people at large are bound to no master ; they go and come as they please ; and are idle or industrious as moved by the wants of nature. Over their own household, their families, domestics, and slaves, every man, as well among the lower ranks as among the chiefs themselves, has absolute power; so far the feudal system is perfect; but beyond this, neither the theoretical nor practical machinery of government seems to be anything else, than a tacit understanding between the parties, that some shall lead and others follow for mutual security, and the better protection of personal rights and property.
In time of war the case is different; all the subordinate chiefs and warriors throughout the territories of a head chief flock to his standard, and put themselves under his command. Let a chief order the humblest subject in his dominions to go and labor in his fields, to dig bis lands and plant his koomeras, to construct canoes, build huts, or catch fish, and his
order would not be regarded, nor could he enforce obedience; but let the cry of war be raised, and he is immediately surrounded by multitudes of submissive dependants, ready to endure any hardship that he may require, and to rush at his bidding into the heat of battle. They are no doubt in some degree prompted to this submission by their natural love of war, and hope of sharing in its spoils; it is also observed, that nearly all the secondary chiefs, within the territory of a particular head chief, are connected by family alliances either with each other, or with the head chief himself, so that from this circumstance they naturally unite in a common cause.
One of the most powerful chiefs, in those parts of the islands visited by Europeans, is called Shunghie, and in his dominions and near his residence the missionaries have established themselves. The first missionaries went to New Zealand in 1815, and four years afterwards, on Mr Marsden's second visit, he purchased of Shunghie a tract of land at Kiddeekiddee for a permanent settlement. This tract consisted of thirteen thousand acres, and was bought for forty eight axes. A formal deed was executed, signed on one part by Mr Marsden and the missionaries, in behalf of the Missionary Society, and on the other, by Shunghie and some of the principal men of his tribe. What validity this deed will have hereafter in the eyes of the savages, time must prove; up to the last accounts its obligations had been faithfully regarded. There is another missionary station at Rangheehoo, not far from Kiddeekiddee; and also a third lately established by the Wesleyan Methodists in the same vicinity. As far as we can ascertain from the latest intelligence, there are at this time from twelve to twenty English missionaries settled among the natives.
The deepest trait, perhaps, in the New Zealand character, is a passion for war; fighting is their element; to other employments they may be reluctantly brought by necessity ; but to the din of battle, and the work of slaughter, they fly with an eager delight. The natives, who have resided a long time in England, and learnt the language, and become habituated to the customs of civilized life, lose none of this ferocity; their warlike propensities are revived the moment they again inhale their native atmosphere. Tooi is a remarkable instance in point. He possessed a good capacity, quickness of parts, and an apparently amiable temper; he improved rapidly in England, and when he left that country high expectations were entertained, that he would be an important instrument in reforming his countrymen, and introducing among them some of the blessings of civilized life. He returned under the charge of the missionaries; but no sooner was he placed in the midst of his tribe, and surrounded by the scenes of his early years, than he forgot the lessons he had learnt, and the impressions he had received, during his absence, and the spirit of the savage assumed its former empire in his mind. He boasted of his deeds of death and blood in the presence of the missionaries themselves, and when reminded of his better knowledge, and asked why he did not endeavor to make his people happy by teaching them agriculture, and the arts of civilized life, he replied, that it was impossible, that if you told a New Zealander to work, he fell asleep; but if you spoke of fighting, he opened his eyes as wide as a teacup; that the whole bent of his mind was war; and that he looked upon fighting as fun.' In his own case Tooi's conduct verified his language.
All the tribes have fortified posts, called Pahs, or Hippahs, situated at the top of an eminence difficult of ascent, to which they resort in case of immediate danger from the attack of an enemy. These pahs are minutely described in Cook's Voyages. Where muskets have been introduced, these strong places have nearly become deserted. The implements of warfare, originally used by the natives, were the spear, mearée, and pattoo-pattoo. The spear is long, sometimes more than twenty feet, and pointed at both ends; it is grasped in the middle, and managed by the combatant with great agility and skill. The mearée is a kind of club made of stone, and worn in the girdle ; and the pattoo-pattoo is a sort of wooden battle axe. With these weapons they always engage hand to hand, and the only advantage which they seek, is to take the enemy by surprise. So far had the New Zealander, by his own untutored powers, devised the means of human slaughter ; but his recent acquaintance with the improvements of civilization, if it has done nothing else, has taught him more destructive and ingenious modes of warfare. He now goes into battle with bayonets, tomahawks, steel, and powder.