His Excellency Sir, George F. Bowen, G.C.M.G..
Delivered to the Members of the New Zealand Institute, at the Anniversary Meeting, Held on the 28th September, 1872.
It is with great satisfaction that in this, as in my previous anniversary addresses, I have to call your attention to the last Report of the Governing Board of the New Zealand Institute. For this Report contains ample proof of the continued prosperity of our Association, and of its practical usefulness in promoting the investigation of the resources of the Colony, and in disseminating the results of the labours of the many independent observers, whose activity has been stimulated by its influence. Moreover, the four volumes of our Transactions and Proceedings afford abundant evidence of the beneficial effects of the system of organization adopted under the authority of the Colonial Parliament. The statutes of the Institute insure to each of the affiliated Societies perfect freedom in the management of its own affairs; while, at the same time, they aid and direct the efforts of all by giving support and encouragement in proportion to the amount of work performed.
A glance at the contents of the volumes hitherto published cannot fail to show how important are the additions already made to the knowledge of most of the subjects of inquiry which were suggested in the preface to the first year's Transactions; particularly, if we take into consideration the reports contributed by the Geological and Museum departments; which, though not directly controlled, are fostered by the Institute. We find records of original
investigations into the annals and traditions, the mythology and ethnology, of the Maori race; and into the natural resources of this country—in its fisheries, its minerals, and its trees and plants; while the more purely scientific questions connected with its meteorology, its botany, and its zoology, have received a large share of attention.
Review of vol. iv. of the “Transactions” of the Institute.
I will now proceed to review very briefly the last or fourth volume of our Transactions.
A considerable portion of this volume treats of what may be termed the pre-historic period of New Zealand. The essay of Mr. J. T. Thomson, on the origin and migration of the Maoris, is an ingenious and suggestive addition to the literature of a subject, the full examination of which should certainly be undertaken without delay, and before the traditional knowledge possessed by the natives is obscured or obliterated by the lapse of time, and by the preponderance of the European settlers. Closely related to this same question is the thoughtful criticism by Mr. Travers of some of the more prominent Maori legends. We have also several instructive papers filled with discussions relative to the Moa. On the one hand, Dr. Haast arrives at the opinion that the extermination of this gigantic bird is of high antiquity, and that it was effected by a people wholly different from, or at least by very remote ancestors of the Maoris of the present day. Dr. Hector, on the other hand, adheres to the view which has hitherto been generally received, viz., that the Moa has become extinct within a comparatively short period before the settlement of these Islands by Europeans, and that it was hunted by the immediate forefathers of the existing aborigines. I would further direct attention to the remarks by Archdeacon Williams and by Mr. Gillies on the foot-prints of the Moa on a sandy deposit on the sea-beach at Poverty Bay; and to the description by Captain Hutton of the moa feathers which have recently been found in alluvial soil in the interior of Otago.
The contributions in Zoology during the past year have been numerous and varied. The treatment by Captain Hutton of several special branches of this department of science may be recommended as a model for observers. To Captain Hutton we are also indebted for the compilation of the valuable Catalogues of the Birds and Fishes of this country, which have recently been issued from the Museum. Another remarkable paper is a description by Dr. Haast of an extinct gigantic bird of prey (Harpagornis Moorei), which he supposes to have far exceeded in dimensions any known bird of the eagle kind, and to have been of proportionate size to the Moa. He believes that,
“as the small Harrier now flies leisurely during the day-time over the plains and downs in search of its food, consisting of carrion, birds, lizards, and insects, so the Harpagornis doubtless followed the flocks of Moas, feeding either upon the carcases of the dead birds, or killing the young and disabled ones.”* Another gigantic bird, but belonging to a period of much higher antiquity than that in which any Moa remains have hitherto been discovered, is a huge Penguin (Palœeudyptes antarcticus), the bones of which were found imbedded in limestone rocks on the West Coast of the Nelson Province. Dr. Hector further contributes a description of the Seals which I was fortunate enough to shoot last year in Milford Sound, while I was there in H.M.S. “Clio.” They prove to belong to the species named by Dr. Gray Arctocephalus cinereus, and to differ from the Fur Seal of the Falkland Islands (Otaria nigrescens), with which they had previously been identified. Mention should also be made of two attractive papers on Natural History by Mr. Travers and Mr. P. Thomson, respectively; and of the excellent observations by Mr. Fereday on the New Zealand Insects.
The botanical papers in last year's volume are very interesting. The important subject of the distribution of plants in these Islands receives valuable elucidations from Mr. Kirk and Mr. Cheeseman. Mr. Kirk's “Comparison of the Indigenous Floras of the British Islands and New Zealand,” showing the different effect of each on the landscape, is peculiarly attractive for the general as well as for the scientific reader. There is also a report, of a most practical kind, on the native and introduced grasses of the Canterbury Province, and their fitness for different purposes of pasturage.
If time permitted, I would gladly advert to several of the contributions on Chemistry, Geology, and a variety of miscellaneous subjects. Indeed, the slight sketch attempted above gives a very inadequate idea of the extent and value of the work performed by the Institute and its affiliated Societies. We must ever rejoice in the intimate connection and general prosperity of these united associations, for (to quote the words of Mr. Travers in a recent address) “each society is but one of a series of grafts upon the tree of scientific knowledge which has been planted in this Colony; and the fruit which each of them bears must be good or indifferent, in proportion to the vigour of the common stock.”†
Official Journey of the Governor Across the Centre of the North Island.
In my anniversary address of last year, after a brief review of the recent Transactions and present position of the Institute, I proceeded, in accordance
[Footnote] * Transactions, Vol. IV., p. 194.
[Footnote] † Transactions, Vol. IV., p. 356.
with a request addressed to me, to give a short account of my visits to two of the most remarkable regions to be found in this or in any other country. I allude, in the first place, to the great volcanic zone in the North Island, including the famous Hot Lakes and Springs; and, secondly, to Milford Sound, and the other grand and wondrous inlets of the south-west coast of the Middle Island. On the present occasion, I have been requested to contribute some descriptions of the great Lake of Taupo and of the surrounding districts, which I visited on my recent journey overland from Wellington to Auckland, across the centre of the North Island. As it has been previously remarked, “the official tours of a Governor may be made practically useful, for they enable him to point out from personal knowledge, and in an authoritative shape, the resources and capabilities of the several districts of the Colony over which he presides, and the advantages which they afford for immigration, and for the investment of capital.” It is well known that the published reports of my journeys throughout all the Provinces of New Zealand have attracted much attention in the mother country; and that Her Majesty's Government have thought it right, in the interests of this community, to give them wide and official circulation by presenting them to the Imperial Parliament.
I approached the Lake of Taupo from Napier, which I left on the 6th of last April. On that evening we reached the first post of the Colonial Forces at Te Haroto, thirty-five miles from the port, after passing over an undulating country of hill and valley, which, now that permanent tranquillity appears to have been established, will soon be occupied by settlers. Te Haroto is a strong position, 2,200 feet above the sea, on a high hill, which commands an extensive and magnificent prospect of the open ocean and of the coast, as well as of the wild mountains and forests of the Urewera country. On the following day we rode from Te Haroto to Opepe, a distance of forty-two miles, over much rich land, and through some beautiful scenery of hill and woodland, which reminds the European traveller of the Apennines and of the Italian slopes of the Alps, though the semi-tropical luxuriance of the New Zealand forests far surpasses the vegetation of the Old World. It was at Opepe that, in June, 1869, a detachment of the Colonial Forces was surprised and cut to pieces by Te Kooti. On the 8th we left Opepe; at a distance from which of some twelve miles we reached Tapuaeharuru, the native pa at the north end of the Lake of Taupo, near the spot where the River Waikato issues from it with tremendous speed and force. Here the Governor was received with much enthusiasm by the Maoris of the Ngatituwharetoa clan, headed by the loyal chief Poihipi Tukairangi, one of the last survivors of those who signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840; and one of the few chiefs of the central districts of this island who have remained throughout stedfast in their allegiance to the Queen.
The name Tapuaeharuru signifies “echoing footsteps,” and has reference to the hollow sound of the earth in this neighbourhood, owing to the hard superficial crust formed by the volcanic soil over the deep and vast caverns beneath. Along both banks of the Waikato there are numerous solfataras and geysers, which throw up constantly white clouds of steam, and, ever and anon, jets of boiling water. The extinct volcano of Mount Tauhara is a picturesque object rising above the right bank of the river. Below it, the north end of the lake is bounded by the Kaingaroa Plain, by old streams of lava from Tauhara, and by terraces of pumice-stone, varied by groves of manuka, resembling gigantic and evergreen heather. To the Southward stretches bright, broad, and long, the great Lake, or—as it is called by the Maoris*—the Sea of Taupo, realizing Virgil's description of the Lago di Garda, the Benacus of ancient Italy:—
“Fluctibus et fremitu assurgens, Benace, marino.”†
Taupo is indeed a noble inland sea, the Queen of the lakes of the North Island, with its coast formed mainly by dark and lofty cliffs, grand in their gloom, but relieved here and there by a mountain torrent or a glittering waterfall. At the southern horizon the prospect is bounded by the graceful outline of the peaks of the Kaimanawa range; to the west of which towers the great active volcano of Tongariro,‡ with its ever-steaming crater of Ngauruhoe; and near it, clad in perpetual snow, the huge mass of Ruapehu.§
The Lake of Taupo is about 1,200 feet above the sea-level, and somewhat resembles in climate and scenery, as well as in extent (covering about 200 square miles of water), the Lake of Geneva. It is in most parts of hitherto unfathomed depth, and its waters have, probably, filled and overflowed several ancient craters. It is on nearly all sides surrounded by masses of lava, pumice-stone, and other volcanic formations, rising, more or less abruptly, into a high and generally barren table-land. Not far from the centre of the lake is the rocky islet of Motutaiko, celebrated in Maori legend as the abode of the Taniwhas—the malignant water-fiends, whose spite often stirs up the fierce and sudden gales which render so dangerous the navigation of the “Sea” of Taupo.
On the 9th April, we started in a boat for Tokano, the principal native settlement at the south end of the lake. The distance by water is about twenty-six miles, and by land, along the eastern shore, about thirty-six miles. The morning was calm and bright, but at noon a strong contrary gale arose; so we landed at the site of the old Pa of Motutere, whither horses had been sent forward in anticipation of one of these sudden storms. Thence, we rode the rest of the distance (about sixteen miles) to Tokano, chiefly along the margin of the lake; fording, however, several rivers which flow into its
[Footnote] * The Maoris speak of the Moana (i.e. sea), not Roto (i.e. lake) of Taupo.
[Footnote] † Virgil, Georg. IL, 160.
[Footnote] ‡ About 6,500 feet high.
[Footnote] § About 9,200 feet high.
southern extremity; among them the Upper Waikato, which, in this portion of its long course, is generally called by the natives the river of Tongariro. On our arrival at Tokano, as everywhere else on my tour, I was welcomed with hearty respect and good-will by the local chiefs and their clansmen. Our party was lodged in several Maori whares, and food was liberally provided, in the absence of the supplies shipped on board our boat.
We bathed that evening, by moonlight, in one of the many natural basins into which overflow the Hot Springs, that seethe and boil amid and around the kainga, or native village, of Tokano. In these fairy baths—with sides as of polished marble, and bottoms as of glazed porcelain—meet, each evening, the Maoris, old and young; while from every quarter are heard gay chants and songs. “But,” to quote the graphic description of a recent traveller,* “ever and again, even these voices are hushed and stilled, while, with a weird and rushing sound, the great geyser bursts from the calm waters, rising white and silvery in the moonbeams which reveal the dark outlines of the distant hills, and dashing its feathery spray high against the starry sky.”†
The southern shores of Lake Taupo are the most fertile and attractive. Near its south-western extremity is the Pa of Pukawa—the residence during many generations of the family of Te Heuheu, one of the most powerful among the old Maori aristocracy. The father of the present chief perished by an awful catastrophe in May, 1846, in the neighbouring village of Te Rapa, on the shore between Pukawa and Tokano. He was buried alive during the night, together with sixty of his clansmen, by a landslip, or rather by an avalanche of boiling mud. To quote Hochstetter;‡ “Above the springs on the side of the mountain, probably 500 feet above the lake, steam issues from innumerable places. The whole north side of the Kakaramea mountain seems to have been boiled soft by hot steam, and to be on the point of falling in. From every crack and cleft on that side of the mountain, boiling water streams forth with a continual fizzing noise, as though hundreds of steam-engines were in motion. These steaming fissures in the mountain side, upon which every stone is decomposed into reddish clay, are called by the natives Hipaoa, i.e., the chimneys; and it was at the foot of this mountain that, in the year 1846, the village of Te Rapa was overwhelmed by an avalanche of mud, and the great Te Heuheu perished.” Hochstetter adds that the corpse of their chief was afterwards exhumed by his clansmen from the buried village, and accorded a solemn interment. “According to Maori custom in the case of great chiefs, the remains were disinterred after some years, laid out upon a kind of bed of state, and preserved in a magnificently carved
[Footnote] * Lieut. the Hon. Herbert Meade, R.N.; see, “A Ride through New Zealand,” chap. ii.
[Footnote] † The largest geyser at Tokano is called Pirori. The water is here sometimes thrown to a height of more than forty feet.
[Footnote] ‡ Hochstetter's “New Zealand,” chap. xvii.
coffin. The sacred remains were intended to be then conveyed to the summit of Tongariro; for the deep crater of the volcano was designed to be the final grave of the hero, with the heaven-ascending pyramid of scoriæ and ashes for his monument. But this grand idea was only half carried out. As the bearers were approaching the top of the ever-steaming cone, a subterraneous roaring noise became audible, and, awe-struck, they deposited their burden upon a projecting rock. There the remains still lie. The mountain, however, is most strictly tapu, and nobody is allowed to ascend it.”
On the morning of the 10th of April we started on horseback, escorted by the principal chiefs, for Rotoaira, a small and pretty lake at the foot of Tongariro, and about ten miles north of Tokano. At first we rode over the rich alluvial delta formed by the Upper Waikato where it flows into Taupo, and which is in part cultivated by the natives. Then, turning to the right, we skirted the wooded base of Pihanga, the hill renowned in Maori legend as the spouse of Tongariro. The native tradition runs that of yore three mighty giants, Tongariro, Taranaki, and Ruapehu—like Pelion, Ossa, and Olympus—stood side by side, until Taranaki attempted to carry off Pihanga, his brother's wife. Then arose a combat like that in the classical mythology between the Gods and the Titans; in which the false Taranaki was at length worsted and forced to fly, drawing after him the deep furrow of the river Wanganui. His flight was stayed only by the western ocean, where he now stands on the shore in solitary and mournful grandeur, his hoary head covered with perpetual snow,—the magnificent cone of Mount Egmont.*
The scenery of this region is very fascinating. The bleak shores of the Lake of Taupo are, for the most part, little fitted for European settlement; but from under Tongariro and Ruapehu, stretch away East, West, and South, well-grassed and well-watered valleys, separating mountain ranges that wave with primeval forests. As yet, there is scarcely any sign of human habitation, past or present, in this glorious country; but the native owners are already in treaty to lease large portions of it to English settlers. As we stood together on the lower slopes of Tongariro, one of the Maori lords of the soil, after casting a proud glance over his wide domains, turned to me and said that he had lived through many changes, that he remembered the first settlement of the white strangers in New Zealand, and that he now cherished the hope that the rents of the broad lands of his ancestors would enable him to spend his old age in peace, and to educate his children in the language and arts of the English. He longed before he died to see the fair valleys and plains, now lying silent and untenanted before us, overspread by herds of cattle and flocks of sheep; with English homesteads and townships rising up along the rivers and in the glades of the forests; and with steamboats, bearing the
[Footnote] * So Captain Cook named the Taranaki of the Maoris.
comforts and luxuries of civilized life over the now lonely lakes. I thought of the speech of Longfellow's Red Indian Chief, Hiawatha:—
“I beheld too in that vision
All the secrets of the future,
Of the distant days that shall be.
I beheld the westward marches
Of the unknown, crowded, nations.
All the land was full of people,
Restless, struggling, toiling, striving,
Speaking many tongues, yet feeling
But one heart-beat in their bosoms.
In the woodlands rang their axes,
Smoked their towns in all the valleys;
Over all the lakes and rivers
Rushed their great canoes of thunder.”*
A very remarkable feature in this region of transcendent interest, is the volcanic plateau, of which Tongariro and Ruapehu are the main summits, for it forms a central watershed from which the five chief rivers of this Island flow down in their several courses to the sea. Here, within a space of a few miles, are the sources of the Waikato, the Mangawhero, the Wangaehu, the Turakina, and the Rangitikei.† While riding in the shadow of Tongariro, I was forcibly reminded of my early travels in Eastern Europe, and of my visit, in 1849, to the famous Pass and Mountain of Lacmos‡ in the range of Pindus, between Thessaly and Epirus; whence issue the five principal rivers of Northern Greece, viz., the Aous, the Peneus, the Arachthus, the Haliacmon, and the Achelous. This is one of the many geographical parallels between Greece and New Zealand which must strike every classical scholar who has travelled in both countries. It has been said that the stirring scene presented under the dome of St. Paul's on the day of the National Thanksgiving in last February has indefinitely postponed the advent of Macaulay's New Zealander to sketch the ruins of the cathedral from a broken arch of London Bridge; but, perhaps, it is not too much to hope that meanwhile there may arise in New Zealand a poet who will paint of the great mountain reservoir of this Island a word-picture, not altogether unworthy to be compared with that noble and original picture which Virgil, in his Fourth Georgic, has drawn of the vast subterranean grotto at the source of the Peneus, in which Aristæus was welcomed by Cyrene, his goddes-mother, and by her train of nymphs;
[Footnote] * Longfellow's “Hiawatha,” xxi.
[Footnote] † These streams, and the country on their banks, are described in the fourth volume of the Transactions of the Institute (now under review), pages 128–135, in an article “On the Geographical and other Features of some little known portions of the Province Wellington.”—By Mr. H. C. Field.
[Footnote] ‡ Now called Zygos.—See Leake's “Northern Greece,” chap. ix.
and whence he beheld the mighty rivers gliding by hidden channels, amid the rush and roar of many waters:—
“Jamque domum mirans genetricis, et humida regna,
Speluncisque lacus clausos, lucosque sonantes,
Ibat, et ingenti motu stupefactus aquarum,
Omnia sub magna labentia flumina terra,
Spectabat diversa locis.”*—
On the day succeeding that of our return to Tupuaeharuru, we visited Te Huka (i.e., “the foam,”) Waterfall, at the distance of about four miles from the north end of the Lake of Taupo. As Lieut. Meade remarks,† “This cascade is grand in a style of its own, though not remarkable for great height or breadth.” Some 300 yards above the Fall, the Waikato is contracted into a narrow chasm with almost perpendicular walls, between which the whole body of the river dashes, in a cloud of snowy foam and with a deafening roar, over the rocky brink into the deep blue basin, with its whirling eddies, beneath. From the crevices of the precipitous cliffs around, numerous treeferns spread their feathery fronds; here, too, the Toe-Toe grass‡ hangs its silken flags amid the violet-blooming Koromiko,§ and all the brightly chequered copse of New Zealand. The wave-worn terraces of the volcanic hills above bear, stamped on their slopes, the traces of the action of fire and water in remote ages.
From Tupuaeharuru, it is a ride of twenty-five miles to Orakei-korako, a village of the Ngatiraukawas, strongly situated on a hill overhanging the rapids and cataracts of the Waikato, and nearly opposite the famous alumcaves on the right bank of that river. In the words of Mr. Meade∥:—“The whole of the hills and woods, visible from the crest where the kainga is built, are dotted with hundreds of steam-jets, whose wreaths and clouds of steam keep curling up from amidst the branches of the trees, giving a very singular character to a very beautiful landscape.”
I regret that time and space will not allow me to give, on the present occasion, any further description of my journey overland from Taupo to Auckland. In the address of last year, I laid before the Institute some account of my then recent visit, in company with the Duke of Edinburgh, to the wonders of Rotorua and Rotomahana. This year I have followed the long course of the Waikato—that noble river, which is to the Maoris what the Rhine is to the Germans—almost from its source, near the foot of Tongariro in the centre, to the spot where it flows into the sea, on the West Coast of this Island.
I would refer to the Parliamentary Papers, and to other official records, those who may desire information respecting the favourable effect on the
[Footnote] * Virgil, Georgic iv., 363–367.
[Footnote] † Chap. iii.
[Footnote] ‡ Arundo conspicua. Forst.
[Footnote] § Veronica salicifolia. Forst.
[Footnote] ∥ Chap. iii.
Maoris of my journeys through the recently hostile and disaffected districts; and also respecting the progress of the roads which—carried out, in great measure, by native labour—are gradually, but surely, opening up to peace and to civilization the mountains and forests of the interior. Our learned associate, Mr. Travers, has truly remarked, in one of his contributions to the last volume of our Transactions, that the public works undertaken by the Colonial Parliament will “afford invaluable opportunities of pushing on inquiries in various branches of the Natural History of New Zealand, in a manner, and with a rapidity, which we could otherwise scarcely have hoped for. The construction of lines of road and railway through tracts of country hitherto comparatively unknown, will give to the geologist and botanist, to the miner and agriculturist, and indeed to all who are engaged, either theoretically or practically, in inquiring into or in developing the resources of the Colony, the greatest facilities for carrying out their objects; and we may look forward, in this aspect of the matter, to results of the highest importance.”
In conclusion, gentlemen, I beg to thank you for the indulgence with which on this, as on four previous occasions of a like character, you have listened to a somewhat desultory address. I assure you, in all sincerity, that among the many delightful recollections of New Zealand which I shall cherish during the remainder of my life, not the least satisfactory will be the remembrance of my connection, as the first President, with this Institute and its members.