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Extracts from Augustus Earle's book a Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in NZ in 1827

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I was roused one morning at daybreak by my servant running in with the intelligence that a great number of war canoes were crossing the bay. As King George had told us but the evening before that he expected a visit from Ta-ri-ah, a chief of the tribe called Ngapuhis, whose territory lay on the opposite side of the bay, and given us to understand that Ta-ri-ah was a man not to be trusted, and therefore feared some mischief might happen if he really came, the sight of these war canoes naturally caused us considerable alarm, and we sincerely wished that the visit was over.

We dressed ourselves with the utmost expedition, and walked down to the beach. The landing of these warriors was conducted with a considerable degree of order, and could I have divested myself of all ideas of danger I should have admired the sight excessively. All our New Zealand friends--the tribe of Shulitea--were stripped naked, their bodies were oiled, and all were completely armed; their muskets were loaded, their cartouch boxes were fastened round their waists, and their patu were fixed to their wrists. Their hair was tied up in a tight knot at the top of their heads, beautifully ornamented with feathers of the albatross. As the opposite party landed, ours all crouched on the ground, their eyes fixed on their visitors, and perfectly silent. When the debarkation was completed I observed the chief, Ta-ri-ah, put himself at their head, and march towards us with his party formed closely and compactly, and armed with muskets and paddles. When they came very near they suddenly stopped. Our party continued still mute, with their firelocks poised ready for use. For the space of a few minutes all was still, each party glaring fiercely on the other; and they certainly formed one of the most beautiful and extraordinary pictures I had ever beheld.

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The foreground was formed by a line of naked savages, each resting on one knee, with musket advanced, their gaze fixed on the opposite party, their fine, broad, muscular backs contrasting with the dark foliage in front, and catching the gleam of the rising sun. The strangers were clothed in the most grotesque manner imaginable-some armed, some naked, some with long beards, others were painted all over with red ochre; every part of each figure was quite still, except the rolling and glaring of their eyes on their opponents. The background was formed by the beach, and a number of their beautiful war canoes dancing on the waves; while, in the distance, the mountains on the opposite side of the bay were just tinged with the varied and beautiful colours of the sun, then rising in splendour from behind them.

The stillness of this extraordinary scene did not last long. The Ngapuhis commenced a noisy and discordant song and dance, yelling, jumping, and making the most hideous faces. This was soon answered by a loud shout from our party, who endeavoured to outdo the Ngapuhis in making horrible distortions of their countenances; then succeeded another dance from our visitors, after which our friends made a rush, and in a sort of rough joke set them running. Then all joined in a pell-mell sort of encounter, in which numerous hard blows were given and received; then all the party fired their pieces in the air, and the ceremony of landing was thus deemed completed. They then approached each other, and began rubbing noses; and those who were particular friends cried and lamented over each other.

The slaves now commenced the labour of making fires to cook the morning meal, while the chiefs, squatting down, formed a ring, or, rather, an oblong circle, on the ground; then one at a time rose up, and made long speeches, which they did in a manner peculiar to themselves. The speaker, during his harangue, keeps running backwards and forwards within the oblong space, using the most violent but appropriate gesticulation; so expressive, indeed, of the subject on which he is speaking, that a spectator who does not understand their language can form a tolerable idea as to what the affair is then under debate. The orator is never interrupted in his speech; but, when he finishes and sits down, another immediately rises up and takes his place, so that all who choose have an opportunity of delivering their sentiments, after which the assembly breaks up.

Though the meeting of these hostile tribes had thus ended more amicably than King George and his party could have expected, it was easily to be perceived that the Ngapuhis were determined on executing some atrocity or depredations before their return; they accordingly pretended to recollectsome old offence committed by the English settlers at the other end of the beach. They proceeded thither, and first attacked and broke open the house of a blacksmith, and carried off every article it contained. They then marched to the residence of an English captain (who was in England), and plundered it of everything that could be taken away, and afterwards sent word they intended to return to our end of the beach. Our fears were greatly increased by finding that our friends were not sufficiently strong to protect us from the superior force of the Ngapuhis, and ourchief, George, being himself (we supposed) conscious of his inability, had left us to depend upon our own resources.

We now called a council of war of all the Europeans settled here; and it was unanimously resolved that we should protect and defend our houses and property, and fortify our position in the best way we could. Captain Duke had in his possession four twelve-pounders, and these we brought in frontof the enclosure in which our huts were situated, and were all entirely employed in loading them with round and grape shot, and had made them all ready for action, when, to our consternation and dismay, we found we had a new and totally unexpected enemy to contend with. By some accident one of our houses was in flames. Our situation was now perilous in the extreme. The buildings, the work of English carpenters, were constructed of dry rushes and well-seasoned wood, and this was one of a very respectable size, and we had hoped, in a very few days, would be finished fit for our removing into.

For some seconds we stood in mute amazement, not knowing to which point to direct our energies. As the cry of "fire" was raised, groups of natives came rushing from all directions upon our devoted settlement, stripping off their clothes, and yelling in the most discordant pitch of voice. I entered the house, and brought out one of my trunks, but on attempting to return a second time I found it filled with naked savages, tearing everything to pieces, and carrying away whatever they could lay their hands upon. The fierce raging of the flames, the heat from the fire, the yells of the men, and the shrill cries of the women, formed, altogether, a horrible combination; added to all this was themortification of seeing all our property carried off in different directions, without the least possibility of our preventing it. The tribe of the Ngapuhis (who, when the fire began, were at the other end of the beach) left their operations in that quarter and poured down upon us to share in the general plunder. Never shall I forget the countenance of the chief, as he rushed forward at the head of his destroying crew! He was called "The Giant," and he was well worthy of the name, being the tallest and largest man I had ever seen; he had an immense bushy black beard, and grinned exultingly when he saw the work of destruction proceeding with such rapidity, and kept shouting loudly to his party to excite them to carry off all they could.

A cask containing seventy gallons of rum now caught fire and blew up with a terrible explosion; and, the wind freshening considerably, huge volumes of smoke and flame burst out in every direction. Two of our houses were so completely enveloped that we had given up all hopes of saving them. The third, which was a beautifully carved tapued one, some little distance from the others, and which we had converted into a store and magazine, was now the only object of our solicitude and terror. For, besides the valuable property of various kinds which were depositedwithin it, it contained several barrels of gunpowder! It was in vain we attempted to warn the frantic natives to retire from the vicinity of this danger. At length we persuaded about a dozen of the most rational to listen while we explained to them the cause of our alarm; and they immediately ascended to the roof, where, with the utmost intrepidity and coolness, they kept pouring water over the thatch, thus lessening the probability of an immediate explosion. About this time we noticed thereappearance of King George, which circumstance rekindled our hopes. He was armed with a thick stick, which he laid heavily on the backs of such of his subjects as were running away with our property, thus forcing them to relinquish their prizes, and to lay them down before his own mansion, where all was safe. By this means a great deal was recollected. The fire was now nearly extinguished; but our two really tolerably good houses were reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and the greater part of what belonged to us was taken away by the Ngapuhis.

This calamity had made us acquainted with another of their barbarous customs, which is, whenever a misfortune happens to a community, or an individual, every person, even the friends of his own tribe, fall upon and strip him of all he has remaining. As an unfortunate fish, when struck by a harpoon, is instantly surrounded and devoured by his companions, so in New Zealand, when a chief is killed, his former friends plunder his widow and children; and they, in revenge, ill-use and evenmurder their slaves--thus one misfortune gives birth to various cruelties. During the fire, our allies proved themselves the most adroit and active thieves imaginable, though previously to that event we had never lost an article, although everything we possessed was open to them.

When we questioned them about our property, they frankly told us where it was; and, after some difficulty in settling the amount of its ransom, we got most of our things back again, with the exception of such as had been carried off by the Ngapuhis. Upon the cruelty of this custom I shall make no comments. Probably I should have remained in ignorance of this savage law, had I not had the misfortune to become its victim. By redeeming from the natives what they had purloined from the fire, we had restored to us some of our boxes, desks, and clothes; but all our little comforts towards housekeeping were irretrievably lost. When the fire was over we received a visit from one of the missionaries, who made us a cold offer of assistance. We accepted a little tea, sugar and some few articles of crockery from them; but, although they knew we stood there houseless, amongst a horde of savages, they never offered us the shelter of their roofs. I am very sure that had the calamity befallen them, we should immediately have offered our huts, and shared with them everything we possessed. Here was an opportunity of practically showing the "pagans" (as they termed the New Zealanders) the great Christian doctrine of "doing to others as we would they should do unto us." I must acknowledge I was sometimes mortified at being obliged to sleep (three of us huddled up close together) in a small New Zealand hut, filled with filth and vermin of all kinds, while at only two miles' distance from us stood a neat village, abounding in every comfort that a bountiful British public could provide; and we, members of that community, and, indeed, partly contributors to the funds for its support.

The high state of excitement into which the savages had been thrown by the late conflagration gradually subsided, and as we had escaped the dreaded calamity of our magazine blowing up, we began to look with calmness on our desolate condition, and draw comfort from thinking howmuch worse we might have been circumstanced than we then were. I hope our distress may prove a benefit to future sojourners in this country, by showing them the great importance of forming a proper magazine for powder. The agonies I suffered in contemplating the destruction which six barrels of powder, each of an hundredweight, would cause amongst a mob of several hundred naked savages, it is impossible to imagine! King George, as well as all his people, were most anxious to build us a new habitation entirely themselves. They requested us to give them the dimensions of the various dwellings, and said we should have no further trouble about them. A party accordingly proceeded to the bush to collect materials. They first formed the skeleton of a cottage containing three rooms, with slight sticks, firmly tied together with strips of flax.

While this was in progress, another party was collecting rushes (which grow plentifully in the neighbourhood, called Ra-poo). These they spread in the sun for twenty-four hours, when they considered them sufficiently dry. They then thatched every part of the house, which for neatness and strength was equal to anything I had ever seen. The doors and windows we employed our carpenter to make, these being luxuries quite beyond the comprehension of the natives. We were thus tolerably well lodged again; and our time passed on tranquilly, almost every day developing some fresh trait of character amongst these children of nature. I went to reside for a short time at a village about half a mile distant, where there was a pretty good house vacant. It was called Ma-to-we, and belonged to a chief named Atoi, a relation of George's, but a much younger man. His power was not so great, and he was every way subject to the authority of the tribe under whose protection I had placed myself.

One morning, at daybreak, we were roused by the hasty approach of King George and all his warriors towards Ma-to-we. All were fully equipped for war, and each countenance looked fierce and wild. Our late misfortunes having rendered us more than usually anxious, this hostile appearance gave us considerable alarm. We left our house to inquire the reason thereof, and saw George and his followers enter the village, pull down several fences, fire a few muskets in the air, dance a most hideous dance of defiance, and then depart; but not one word of explanation could weobtain from him. In the course of the morning, however, the women acquainted us with the cause of this mysterious proceeding, which determined me to remove my things back again to George's village of Kororarika as soon as possible.

The affair was simply this: Atoi had two wives. During the time of our visit to his village, he was absent, and had entrusted these women to the care of his brother; but he, instead of being faithful to the trust reposed in him, had actually seduced one of them. This circumstance came to the knowledge of George, and he, feeling for the honour of his absent friend, immediately proceeded to the village, and thus gave the parties warning that he was fully aware of the nature of their proceedings. He had also dispatched a messenger to Atoi, to inform him of his disgrace, and to request his immediate return. In the course of the day it was expected he would arrive, and bring with him a strong party of friends, all burning with revenge, and eager to punish his brother for hisunnatural perfidy. It was thought that unless George interfered, much bloodshed might ensue; and it may readily be imagined how anxious we were that this dreaded meeting should be over; yet I (for one) had determined that I would be a witness of it. Therefore, when word was brought to methat Atoi was crossing the bay, I hastened down to the beach. There I found all parties assembled from both villages. George and his followers, who were to act as mediators, sat immediately in front of the place of landing; behind them were Atoi's brother and all his partizans; and in the rear were all the women and children, with about a dozen white faces scattered amongst them. The scene was picturesque and exceedingly interesting. It was near the close of a lovely summer's day--the sun,fast sinking towards the horizon, threw a warm and mellow glow over the wide expanse of the far-spreading bay, whose smooth waters were only disturbed by the approaching canoe cutting its foamy way. It was crowded with naked warriors, urging their rapid course towards the shore; and we heard the loud and furious song of the chief, animating his friends to exertion; we saw his frantic gestures, as he stood in the centre of his canoe, brandishing his weapons. As they came near the place of landing, George ran into the stream, and as the canoe touched the shore, attacked Atoi, but in a playful manner, splashing water over him. Thus irritated, Atoi jumped on land, and, with a double-barrelled musket in his hand, ran towards his brother, and doubtless would have killed him on the spot, had he not been prevented. I now saw the advantage of George and his party being present. He and three of his subjects seized upon Atoi, and tried to wrest the weapon from his hands, which if they had been able to effect, a mortal combat could not take place, such being the custom here. Atoi was a very powerful man of about thirty, and those who attacked him had a most difficult task; twice he broke from them; and I then watched the countenance of his brother, which was perfectly cool and collected, though the firelock was in readiness, and the finger on the trigger,which might despatch him instantly. All parties sat perfectly quiet during the desperate struggle; one of the barrels of Atoi's piece went off, and the contents flew amongst us, without, however, doing any material injury; and, finally, the musket was wrested out of his hands. He then sat still for about twenty minutes, to recover his breath, when he seized a club and rushed upon his brother (for mortal weapons were now prohibited). The brother started up, armed in the same manner; some heavy blows passed between them; when, having thrown aside their clubs, theygrappled each other firmly, and a dreadful struggle ensued. As they were both completely naked, their hair was the only thing to take hold by; but being long, thick, and strong, it afforded a firm grasp, and they committed desperate havoc on each other's persons. At this period of the fight their poor old mother, who was quite blind, came forward to try and separate the combatants; the sister and younger brothers now followed her example; and, finally, the fair and frail cause of all this commotion.

The brothers, having completely exhausted their strength, were easily separated; and as their friends had carefully removed all weapons out of their reach, they of course were deprived of the means of injuring each other. The members of Atoi's family, together with a few friends, now sat down in a circle, to converse and consult on the affair. Atoi's wife totally denied the charge, and protested her innocence, and many circumstances were brought forward to corroborate her statements. The husband at length was satisfied, and all parties were reconciled.

This affair was scarcely terminated, when we found that another of a still more serious nature was likely to arise from it and would threaten the peace of both villages. When King George sent his messenger to inform Atoi of the infidelity of his wife, the infuriated husband assaulted the man, and it was rumoured that he had killed him. This was an offence not to be forgiven, and George was so exasperated by it that he vowed he would exterminate the whole of Atoi's tribe. A native, however, arrived with the intelligence that the man was not dead, but only wounded. This did not seem to allay George's feelings of resentment, and he instantly made great preparations for war. When our anxiety was wound up to the utmost, we were greatly astonished to see Atoi and all his friendsapproach our settlement, totally unarmed. George went out to meet them, looking so full of rage that I thought Atoi stood but a slight chance for his life. After a great deal of violent pantomimic action and grimace, the apology offered by Atoi was accepted, and the visit was concluded by a grand war-dance and sham fight performed in their best manner. King George, in the fulness of his heart at this complete restoration of friendship, gave a great feast of kumaras and fish, to which we added some tobacco; and the whole of the party seated themselves by each otherwith the utmost sociality--a convincing proof that animosity is not long an inmate of their breasts.

I took every opportunity of inquiring into the nature of their laws and mode of government, and I found that, in general, their method of redressing wrongs was very summary, and that their ideas of what was strictly just were, for the most part, simple and equitable. For any theft, or offence of that sort, committed by one tribe on another, the parties are called to instant account. If one native takes from another any part of his possessions, the party injured has a right to retaliate, and the party retaliated upon must not make the slightest resistance. We ourselves experienced a proof of this. Some part of our property, which we supposed had been destroyed by our late fire, we had been told was to be found in the hut of a neighbouring chief. We one day took advantage of his absence, searched the hut ourselves, and discovered our things carefully deposited therein. Thus assured of the fact, we laid our complaint before King George, who, after hearing our story to the end,replied, "Well, my friends, you must go to the hut and take away all your property, and whatever else you may find, which you may think sufficient payment for the injury you have received." We accordingly proceeded to the chief's dwelling, whom we found standing at his door. We charged him with having robbed us, and entered the house to seize our property. He held down his head, and seemed ashamed and overpowered at this discovery. He did not attempt to vindicate his conduct, but quietly allowed us not only to take away all that had belonged to us, but likewise a musket anddouble-barrelled gun, which he concluded he had lost for ever. These we had only taken away temporarily to deter him from theft in future, for a few days after we brought them back to him, to his infinite delight and astonishment.

I was frequently shocked during my residence in this country by the number of accidents which continually happened to the natives from gunpowder, and not even the saddest experience could render them more careful. We were doubtful of the strength of a French fowling-piece we had, so we loaded it to the muzzle and discharged it, in order to prove it. Some young chiefs, who saw us do this (approving of this method), as soon as they returned home loaded a musket in the same manner, and then discharged it; but not managing the affair as we did--by means of a string fastened to the trigger-the piece burst, and mangled two of them dreadfully, and we got greatly blamed for showing them what was considered so bad an example.

A few months since a native came from the interior driving a quantity of pigs to barter for powder; he obtained several pounds' weight, and set off to return home. On his journey he passed the night in a hut, and for safety put the bag of powder under his head as a pillow; and as a New Zealander always sleeps with a fire close to him, the consequence was, in the course of the night the fire communicated to the powder, and destroyed the man and the whole of his family, who were journeying with him.

Last year a chief, and cousin of King George, named Pomare, was defeated and killed by the people of the Thames, and George was now resolved to revenge his death. This determination having become known, we had a constant succession of visitors, and a considerable number of blows,scratches, and rubbing noses were the consequence. Our beach presented a most interesting and busy scene. A dozen superb war canoes were lying ready to convey the forces; and, considering their limited means, the solidity of their structure and the carved work on them are surprising.None but men of rank are allowed to work upon them, and they labour like slaves. Some canoes were to be lengthened; others patched; others were condemned to be broken up, and the fragments taken to complete the new ones. Every morning we were awakened by the sound of the hammer and saw,and they were much gratified by our walking down to their dockyard to observe the progress they made, and by giving our opinions of their work. They thankfully received any hint we gave them as to better methods of completing or proceeding with their operations. Here were carvers, painters, caulkers, and sailmakers, all working in their different departments with great good humour and industry. Some of their vessels were eighty feet long, and were entirely covered with beautiful carving. Their form was light and delicate, and if their intentions were hostile towards us, they would be very formidable alongside any merchant man. If our Government should determine to colonise any part of New Zealand, they would find the natives hardy and willing assistants, andvery different from the natives of New South Wales.

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As their canoes were ready for launching, they ran them off the beach, jumped into them, and scudded across the bay with an almost incredible swiftness. When it is considered that in each canoe were seated eighty stout young men, each with a large paddle in his hand propelling thevessel forward, the velocity with which she flew may be imagined! It was in the midst of scenes like these that we were passing our time, and I had just become delighted with the appearance of innocence and industry so continually displayed by these people, when I was called upon to witness a sight which exhibited their character in its worst light, and confirmed all my horrible suspicions regarding their alleged cannibalism. The New Zealanders have been long charged with cannibalism; but as no person of importance or celebrity had actually been a witness to the disgusting act, in pity to our nature such relations have been universally rejected, and much has been written to prove the non-existence of so hideous a propensity. It was my lot to behold it in all its horrors!

One morning, about eleven o'clock, after I had just returned from a long walk, Captain Duke informed me he had heard, from very good authority (though the natives wished it to be kept a profound secret), that in the adjoining village a female slave, named Matowe, had been put to death,and that the people were at that very time preparing her flesh for cooking. At the same time he reminded me of a circumstance which had taken place the evening before. Atoi had been paying us a visit, and, when going away, he recognised a girl whom he said was a slave that had run away from him; he immediately seized hold of her, and gave her in charge to some of his people. The girl had been employed in carrying wood for us; Atoi's laying claim to her had caused us no alarm for her life, and we had thought no more on the subject; but now, to my surprise and horror, I heard this poor girl was the victim they were preparing for the oven! Captain Duke and myself were resolved to witness this dreadful scene. We therefore kept our information as secret as possible, well knowing that if we had manifested our wishes they would have denied the whole affair. We set out, taking a circuitous route towards the village, and, being well acquainted with the road, we came upon them suddenly, and found them in the midst of their abominable ceremonies.

On a spot of rising ground, just outside the village, we saw a man preparing a native oven, which is done in the following simple manner: A hole is made in the ground, and hot stones are put within it, and then all is covered up close. As we approached, we saw evident signs of the murder which had been perpetrated; bloody mats were strewed around, and a boy was standing by them actually laughing: he put his finger to his head, and then pointed towards a bush. I approached the bush, and there discovered a human head. My feelings of horror may be imagined as I recognised the features of the unfortunate girl I had seen forced from our village the preceding evening! We ran towards the fire, and there stood a man occupied in a way few would wish to see. He was preparing the four-quarters of a human body for a feast; the large bones, having been taken out, were thrown aside, and the flesh being compressed, he was in the act of forcing it into the oven. While we stood transfixed by this terrible sight, a large dog, which lay before the fire, rose up, seized the bloody head, and walked off with it into the bushes, no doubt to hide it there for another meal! The man completed his task with the most perfect composure, telling us, at the same time, that the repast would not be ready for some hours!

Here stood Captain Duke and myself, both witnesses of a scene which many travellers have related, and their relations have invariably been treated with contempt; indeed, the veracity of those who had the temerity to relate such incredible events has been everywhere questioned. In this instance it was no warrior's flesh to be eaten; there was no enemy's blood to drink, in order to infuriate them. They had no revenge to gratify; no plea could they make of their passions having been roused bybattle, nor the excuse that they eat their enemies to perfect their triumph. This was an action of unjustifiable cannibalism. Atoi, the chief, who had given orders for this cruel feast, had only the night before sold us four pigs for a few pounds of powder; so he had not even the excuse of want of food. After Captain Duke and myself had consulted with each other, we walked into the village, determining to charge Atoi with his brutality.

Atoi received us in his usual manner; and his handsome, open countenance could not be imagined to belong to so savage a monster as he had proved himself to be. I shuddered at beholding the unusual quantity of potatoes his slaves were preparing to eat with this infernal banquet. We talkedcoolly with him on the subject, for, as we could not prevent what had taken place, we were resolved to learn, if possible, the whole particulars. Atoi at first tried to make us believe he knew nothing about it, and that it was only a meal for his slaves; but we had ascertained it was for himself and his favourite companions. After various endeavours to conceal the fact, Atoi frankly owned that he was only waiting till the cooking was completed to partake of it. He added that, knowing the horror we Europeans held these feasts in, the natives were always most anxious to conceal them from us, and he was very angry that it had come to our knowledge; but, as he had acknowledged the fact, he had no objection to talk about it. He told us that human flesh required a greater number ofhours to cook than any other; that if not done enough it was very tough, but when sufficiently cooked it was as tender as paper. He held in his hand a piece of paper, which he tore in illustration of his remark. He said the flesh then preparing would not be ready till next morning; but one of his sisters whispered in my ear that her brother was deceiving us, as they intended feasting at sunset.

We inquired why and how he had murdered the poor girl. He replied that running away from him to her own relations was her only crime. He then took us outside his village, and showed us the post to which she had been tied, and laughed to think how he had cheated her: "For," said he, "I told her I only intended to give her a flogging; but I fired, and shot her through the heart!" My blood ran cold at this relation, and I looked with feelings of horror at the savage while he related it. Shall I becredited when I again affirm that he was not only a handsome young man, but mild and genteel in his demeanour? He was a man we had admitted to our table, and was a general favourite with us all; and the poor victim to his bloody cruelty was a pretty girl of about sixteen years of age!

While listening to this frightful detail, we felt sick almost to fainting. We left Atoi, and again strolled towards the spot where this disgusting mess was cooking. Not a native was now near it: a hot, fetid steam kept occasionally bursting from the smothered mass; and the same dog we had seen with the head now crept from beneath the bushes, and sneaked towards the village. To add to the gloominess of the whole, a large hawk rose heavily from the very spot where the poor victim had been cut in pieces. My friend and I sat gazing on this melancholy place; it was a lowering, gusty day, and the moaning of the wind through the bushes, as it swept round the hill on which we were, seemed in unison with our feelings.

After some time spent in contemplating the miserable scene before us, during which we gave full vent to the most passionate exclamations of disgust, we determined to spoil this intended feast. This resolution formed, we rose to execute it. I ran off to our beach, leaving Duke on guard, and, collecting all the white men I could, I informed them of what had happened, and asked them if they would assist in destroying the oven and burying the remains of the girl. They consented, and each having provided himself with a shovel or a pickaxe, we repaired in a body to the spot. Atoi and his friends had by some means been informed of our intention, and they came out to prevent it. He used various threats to deter us, and seemed highly indignant; but as none of his followers appeared willing to come to blows, and seemed ashamed that such a transaction should have been discovered by us, we were permitted by them to do as we chose. We accordingly dug a tolerably deep grave; then we resolutely attacked the oven. On removing the earth and leaves, the shocking spectacle was presented to our view--the four quarters of a human body half roasted. During our work clouds of steam enveloped us, and the disgust created by our task was almost overpowering. We collectedall the parts we could recognise; the heart was placed separately, we supposed, as a savoury morsel for the chief himself. We placed the whole in the grave, which we filled up as well as we could, and then broke and scattered the oven.y this time the natives from both villages had assembled, and a scene similar to this was never before witnessed in New Zealand. Six unarmed men, quite unprotected (for there was not a single vessel in the harbour, nor had there been for a month), had attacked and destroyed all the preparations of the natives for what they consider a national feast; and this was done in the presence of a great body of armed chiefs, who had assembled to partake of it. After having finished this exploit, and our passion and disgust had somewhat subsided, I could not help feeling that we had acted very imprudently in thus tempting the fury of these savages, and interfering in an affair that certainly was no concern of ours; but as no harm accrued to any of our party, it plainly shows the influence "the white men" have already obtained over them; had the offence we committed been done by any hostile tribe, hundreds of lives would have been sacrificed. The next day our old friend King George paid us a long visit, and we talked over the affair very calmly. He highly disapproved of our conduct. "In the first place," said he, "you did a foolish thing, which might have cost you your lives; and yet did not accomplish your purpose after all, as you merely succeeded in burying the flesh near the spot on which you found it. After you went away it was again taken up, and every bit was eaten"--a fact I afterwards ascertained by examining the grave and finding it empty. King George further said: "It was an old custom, which their fathers practised before them; and you had no right to interfere with their ceremonies. I myself," added he, "have left off eating human flesh, out of compliment to you white men; but you have no reason to expect the same compliance from all the other chiefs. What punishment have you in England for thieves and runaways?" We answered, "After trial, flogging or hanging." "Then," he replied, "the only difference in our laws is, you flog and hang, but we shoot and eat."

After thus reproving us, he became very communicative on the subject of cannibalism. He said, he recollected the time prior to pigs and potatoes being introduced into the island (an epoch of great importance to the New Zealanders), and stated that he was born and reared in an inland district, and the only food they then had consisted of fern roots and kumara; fish they never saw, and the only flesh he then partook of was human. But I will no longer dwell on this humiliating subject. Most white men who have visited the island have been sceptical on this point; I myself was before I had "ocular proof." Consequently I availed myself of the first opportunity to convince myself of the fact. I have reflected upon the subject, and am thoroughly satisfied that nothing will cure the natives of this dreadful propensity but the introduction of many varieties of animals, both wild and tame, and all would be sure to thrive in so mild and fine a climate. Augustus Earle 1827.

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