From the earliest records of exploration and encounter to the globalized, multicultural present, this compilation features New Zealand's major writing, from Polynesian mythology to the Yates' Garden Guide, from Allen Curnow to Alice Tawhai, and from Wiremu Te Rangikaheke's letters to Katherine Mansfield's notebooks. Including fiction, nonfiction, letters, speeches, novels, stories, comics, and songs, this imaginative selection provides new paths into New Zealand writing and culture.
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Anthology of New Zealand Literature
By Jane Stafford, Mark Williams
Auckland University PressCopyright © 2012 authors and estates
All rights reserved.
The Uncultured Shore
Te Horeta ['Taniwha of Coromandel'], 'Cook's Visit', recorded by Charles Heaphy
We were at Witianga (Mercury Bay) when the first Pakeha ship came. I was a lad then (pointing to a boy apparently twelve years old) about his height.
The ship anchored off Purangi (Oyster River), and after a time three boats were lowered into the water, and the white people went all around Witianga, and to every settlement. When we saw the men paddling with their backs to the way they were going, we thought they must have eyes behind their heads.
They bought everything from us that we had to sell, and every day our canoes went alongside of the ship to trade. Now trade was carried out for nails and pieces of iron, for axes — there were very few axes — for knives and for calico. When I was grown up this was the way of the traders, — I do not mean Cook, but those who came in whale ships. Baskets of potatoes were piled on the beach, side by side, and two or three baskets high — as high as they would stand; and then a piece of calico was unrolled and stretched along the wall of potatoes, and cut off at the end of the baskets, and that piece was the utu for all the potatoes.
But we had not potatoes then. Captain Cook gave us potatoes for seed — he gave us two handfuls. My father planted some and they were tapu for three years, when we had a feast to eat the first potatoes. Other potatoes were soon brought for the Bay of Islands.
I was afraid at first, but after some of our people had been on the ship, I went with the other boys on board. Captain Cook spoke to us, and put his hand on my head. He did not speak much; he gave me a spike nail. His officers made charts of the islands about, and to the entrance of Witianga; and our men, at his desire, drew on the deck with charcoal a chart of all the coast: we drew the Thames, and Cape Colville, and Otea, and on to North Cape. Captain Cook copied this on paper; and asked us the names of all the places, and wrote them all down, and we told him of spirits flying from the North Cape, from the cavern of Reinga to the other world.
The white people ate many strange things which they brought with them. Of all that they gave us we liked the biscuit most. Some of our people said that the salt pork was white man's flesh; others thought it was the flesh of whales, it was so fat. We had no pigs then, but we got some many years afterwards.
This was the way of the death of Marutu-ahu. He was a great thief; his name was a proverb from his thieving. A young man who stole was called the son of Marutu-ahu.
The canoes came alongside the ship with things to sell, and Marutu-ahu and eight men came in one; and they brought moki (pet kakas) for sale, and fish, and a carved box. Marutu-ahu sat on a dogskin mat which the Pakehas wanted to buy. The man who collected shells and stones wanted to buy the dogskin mat, and let the end of a roll of printed calico down into the canoe. Marutu-ahu pulled down into the canoe a large quantity of the calico and sat upon it, holding up the dogskin, but not letting it go. Then the Pakeha took a knife and cut off the piece of calico, and made a sign for the mat to be given to him; but Marutu-ahu spoke to his companions, and they paddled quickly away, taking both the calico and the dogskin.
The Pakeha went below, and soon returned with a gun, which he fired after the retreating canoe. The canoe struck the beach, and Marutu-ahu then fell forward. A bullet had entered his back and he was nearly dead. We had a great meeting and a korero over the death of Marutu-ahu, and it was decided that his death was payment for the theft, and that he should be laid on a stage with the calico around him. Captain Cook and the white people landed soon after this as if nothing had happened.
I do not remember all this myself, but I have heard it frequently from my father and others of the Ngatiwhanaunga.
It was many years before another ship came; I was a man when the next ship came, and it was between those times when I heard all this talked over. But I remember Captain Cook well, and how he gave me a spike nail, which I wore for many years hanging round my neck; it was very good for carving. Many years afterwards, I lost it between Pukuo Island and Koputauaki, when my canoe upset. I dived to look for that spike nail, but I could never find it. When we told Cook that our land stretched over to the Thames Gulf, he said he would go there in his ship, and after a time he sailed away towards Moehau.
We crossed from Witianga to Wangapoa, and on to Coromandel, and then we went to the high land at Arapaua (Coromandel Heads). On looking over the sea, we saw Cook's vessel. There was but little wind, and she was standing up in the Thames Gulf, off Waimate Island, with a boat towing, and two more boats were a long distance ahead of the ship, sounding the depth of the water.
The ship stood on, and anchored off Waiomo and Te Puru, where the water becomes a shoal; and we heard that Captain Cook and his Pakehas went ashore to the Kahikatea forest at Waihou. After this we saw no more of Cook.
James Cook, from The Voyage of the 'Endeavour'
SATURDAY 4th. The first and Middle parts little wind at ENE and clear weather: the latter had a fresh breeze at NNW and hazey with rain. At 1 PM three Canoes Came off from the main to the Ship and after parading about a little while they darted two pikes at us, the first was at one of our men as he was going to give them a rope thinking they were coming on board, but the second they throw'd at the ship, the fireing of one Musquet sent them away. Each of these Canoes were made out of one large tree and were without any sort of ornament and the people in them were mostly quite naked. At 2 PM saw a large opening or inlet in the land which we bore up for, with an attempt to come to an Anchor; at this time had 41 fathom water which gradually decreased to 9 fathom at which time we were 1½ Miles from a high tower'd rock lying near the South p of the inlet, the Rock and the northernmost of the Court of Aldermen being in one bearing s 61° E. At half past 7 Anchor'd in 7 fathom a little within the south entrance of the Bay or inlet. We were Accompanied in here by several Canoes, who stay'd about the Ship until dark, and before they went away they were so generous as to tell us that they would come and attack us in the morning, but some of them paid us a Veset in the night, thinking no doubt but what they should find all hands a sleep, but as soon as they found their mistake they went off. My reasons for putting in here were the hopes of discovering a good Harbour and the desire I had of being in some convenient place to observe the Transit of Mercury which happens on the 9th Instant and will be wholly Visible here if the day is clear. If we should be so fortunate as to Obtain this Observation the Longitude of this place and Country will thereby be very accurately determined.
Between 5 and 6 oClock in the Morning several Canoes came to us from all Parts of the Bay; in them were about 130 or 140 People, to all appearances their first design was to attack us being all completely Arm'd in their way; however this they never attemped but after Parading about the Ship three hours, some times trading with us and at other times tricking of us, they dispers'd but not before we had fired a few Musquets and one great gun, not with any design to hurt any of them, but to show them what sort of Weaphons we had and that we could revenge any insult they offer'd to us. It was fire'd notwithstanding one ball was fired through one of their canoes, but what effect the great gun had I know not for this was not fired untill they were going away.
At 10 the weather clearing up a little I went with two boats to sound the Bay and to look for a more convenient Anchoring place, the Master being in one boat and I in the other. We pulled first over to the North shore, where some Canoes came out to meet us, but as we came near them they retired to the Shore and invited us to follow them, but seeing that they were all arm'd I did not think fit to except of their invitation, but after trading with them out of the boat a few minutes, we left them and went towards the head of the [bay]. I observed in a high po[i]nt a fortified Village but I could only see a part of the works, and as I intend to see the whole shall say no more about it at this time. After having fix'd upon an Anchoring place not far from where the Ship lay I returned on board.
SUNDAY 5th. Winds at NNW, Hazey weather with rain in the night. At 4 PM weighd run in nearer the South shore and Anchord in 4½ fathom water a Soft sandy bottom, the south point of the Bay bearing East distant 1 Mile and a River into which the Boats can go low water SSE 1½ Mile.
In the Morning the Natives came off again to the Ship but their behavior was very different to what it was yestermorning and the light traffic we had with them was carried on very fair and friendly. Two came on board the Ship to each I gave a piece of English Cloth and some Spike nails.
After the natives were gone I went with the Pinnace and Longboat into the River to haule the Sene and sent the master to sound the bay and dridge for fish in the yawl. We hauled the Sene in several places in the River but caught only a few Mullet, with which we returned on board about noon.
MONDAY 6th. Moderate breezes at NNW and hazey weather with rain in the night. PM I went to a nother part of the Bay to haule the net but met with as little success as before and the Master did not get above half a Bucket full of shells with the dridges. The Natives brought to the Ship and sold to our people, small cockles, Clams and Mussels enough for all hands, these are found in great plenty upon the Sand banks of the River.
In the Morning I sent the Long-boat to trawl in the Bay, and an officer with the Marines and a party of men to cut wood and hale the sene, but neither the sene nor the Trawl met with any success, but the natives in some measure made up for this by bringing several baskets of dry'd or ready dress'd fish, although it was none of the best I ordered it all brought up in order to incourage them to trade.
TUESDAY 7th. The first part Moderate and fair, the remainder a fresh breeze northerly with dirty hazey rainy weather. PM got on board a Long-boat Load of water and caught a dish of fish in the Sene; found here great quantity of seller which is boiled every day for the Ships Compney as usual.
WEDNESDAY 8th. PM. Fresh breeze at NNW and hazey rainy weather, the remainder a gentle breze at WSW and Clear weather. AM heel'd and scrubbed both sides of the Ship and sent a party of men a Shore to Cut wood and fill water. The Natives brought off to the Ship and sold us for small peeces of Cloth as much fish as served all hands, they were of the Mackerel kind and as good as ever was eat.
At Noon I observed the Suns Meridian Zenith distance by the Astronomical Quadrant which gave the latitude 36° 47' 43" s, this was in the River beforementioned, that lies within the s entree of yeeBay.
THURSDAY 9th. Variable light breezes and clear weather. As soon as it was day light the Natives began to bring off Mackerel and more then we well know'd what to do with, notwithstanding I ordered all they brought to be purchas'd and I went on shore with our Instruments to observe the Transit of Mercury which came on a 7h 20' 58" Apparent times and was Observed by M Green only. I at this time was taking the Suns Altitude in order to ascertain the time.
While we were making these observations five Canoes came along side of the Ship, two large and three small ones, in one were 47 people but in the others not so many. They were wholly strangers to us and to all appearances they came with hostal intention, being completely arm'd with Pikes, Darts, Stones &c however they made no attempt and this was very probable owing to their being inform'd by some other Canoes (who at this time were along side selling fish) what sort of people they had to deal with. At their first coming along side they began to sell our people some of their Arms and one Man offer'd to sale an Haahow, that is a square pice of Cloth such as they wear. Liet Gore, who at this time was Commanding officer, sent in to the Canoe a piece of Cloth which the man had agreed to take in exchange for his, but as soon as he had got Mr Gore's Cloth in his possession he would not part with his own, but put off the Canoe from along side and they shook their paddles at the People in the Ship. Upon this Mr Gore fired a Musquet at them and from what I can learn kill'd the man who tooke the Cloth, after this they soon went away. I have here inserted the account of this affair with my approbation because I thought the punishment a little too severe for the Crime, and we had now been long enough acquainted with these People to know how to chastise trifling faults like this without taking away their lives.
John Savage, from Some Account of New Zealand
Remote in Southern Seas an Island lies,
Of ample Space, and bless'd with genial Skies;
Where shelter'd still by never-fading groves,
The friendly Native dwells, and fearless roves;
Where the tall Forest, and the Plains around,
And Waters wide, with various Wealth abound.
The natives of New Zealand, at least the part of it I visited, are of a very superior order, both in point of personal appearance and intellectual endowments.
The men are usually from five feet eight inches to six feet in height; well proportioned, and exhibit evident marks of great strength.
The colour of the natives, taken as a mean, resembles that of an European gipsy; but there is considerable difference in the shades, varying between a dark chestnut and the light agreeable tinge of an English brunette.
Their countenances are in general open; and though you are not alarmed by any marks of savage ferocity, you clearly discover signs of undaunted courage, and a resolution not easily shaken.
The workings of the mind are readily discernable in most instances; but this country is not without its dissemblers; and particularly among those advanced in life are to be found some who can smile, and assent to your opinion, when their natural feelings dictate a frown, and a decided disapprobation of your conduct or sentiments.
The natives have a great aversion from spirits, and I do not find that they have any mode of intoxication among them; they are consequently robust, cheerful, and active, and probably, in many instances, live to a great age. I observed, that in a few persons the appearances of longevity were very strongly marked, though it is impossible to speak with certainty upon the subject, there being no positive criterion for determining the age of man. In some instances we observe all the characteristics of old age at a very early period of life, while in others juvenility is protracted to an advanced stage.
Returning from this digression, I must say something of the fair part of the creation of the Bay of Islands, and there is really no great impropriety in the term, for many of the women were scarcely to be denominated brunettes. Their features in general are regular and pleasing, with long, black hair, and dark penetrating eyes. The tattooing of their lips, and the quantity of oil and red earth with which they anoint their persons and hair, would not be agreeable to the taste of a refined European; but I can conceive to a New Zealand lover, their well-formed figure, the interesting cast of their countenance, and the sweet tone of their voice, must render them extremely desirable companions, to soothe his cares, and strew his path through life with flowers: for savage life has its cares and perplexities as well as that of the polished native of the most enlightened country.
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