Art. VI.—On the Ignorance of the Ancient New Zealander of the Use of Projectile Weapons.
[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 9th September, 1878.]
I have read Mr. G. Phillips' paper “On a peculiar Method of Arrow Propulsion amongst the Maoris,”* and as Mr. Phillips has referred to a very brief remark made by me in my essay “On the Maori Races,”† and is evidently unacquainted with the old state of things which obtained in this country with regard to missiles, I have thought it right to say a few words on this subject in this paper.
First, however, I would briefly remark, that in my writing that essay I appended thereto a quantity of “Notes,” all elucidatory of many of the statements I had made therein. Somehow those “Notes” were not printed with the essay—a matter I have greatly deplored, for it was wholly incomplete without them. Had they been printed with it, then Mr. Phillips would have found related the circumstance which gave rise to my remark quoted by him, of the New Zealanders “throwing fiery-headed darts at a pa (or fort) when attacking it.” That note I shall give in this paper further on.
It should be perfectly well known to us all that the first European visitors to New Zealand found the people utterly without the bow and arrow, and the sling, and, indeed, the common frequent use of the small dart or javelin, as an offensive projectile weapon. And all of those eárly visitors had ample opportunities of knowing this, for they were often attacked themselves by the New Zealanders, both on land and on water, when such missile weapons were never once used.
At the same time it should be observed, that whenever a canoe, or a body of natives, came up with Cook, whether at sea or on land, and were for fighting, a single spear was invariably thrown; this, however, was by way of challenge (taki), and was in accordance with their national custom; just equal to the old European one of throwing down the gage.
This non-use of prepared missiles appeared the more strange to the Europeans, from the fact of such weapons (slings and darts) being com-
[Footnote] * Trans. N. Z. Inst., Vol. X. 97.
[Footnote] † Trans. N. Z. Inst., Vol. I., p. 15 of the essay; 2nd ed., p. 352.
monly used as weapons of attack in the South Sea Islands, which Cook and his companions had but lately left. While the use of the bow and arrow, for sport, was also known to some of those islanders.
Captain Wallis, who discovered Tahiti in 1767 (two years before Cook first visited it and New Zealand), was fiercely attacked by the Tahitians, who surrounded his ship with “a fleet of more than 300 canoes, carrying 2,000 men.” On that occasion (when Wallis was in danger, and only saved by his big guns), the islanders commonly used powerful slings, with which they did some execution even in a ship of war. Captain Wallis says:— “The canoes pulled towards the ship's stern, and began again to throw stones with great force and dexterity, by the help of slings, from a considerable distance; each of these stones weighed about 2lbs., and many of them wounded the people on board, who would have suffered much more if an awning had not been spread over the whole deck to keep out the sun, and the hammocks placed in the nettings.” Their bows and arrows, however, they did not use on that occasion during the fight. Further on Captain Wallis adds:—“Their principal weapons are stones, thrown either with the hand or sling, and bludgeons; for though they have bows and arrows, the arrows are only fit to knock down a bird, none of them being pointed, but headed only with a round stone.”*
Sydney Parkinson, who was with Cook on his first voyage, gives a drawing of the Tahitian sling (Pl. 13, fig. 1), and a description of it. He says:—“Their sling is about four feet long, made of plaited twine, formed from the fibres of the bark of a tree; the part which holds the stone is woven very close, and looks like cloth, from which the string gradually tapers to a point.”†
Captain Cook, in 1769, thus speaks of the use of the bow and arrow by those Tahitians:—“Their bows and arrows have not been mentioned before, nor were they often brought down to the fort. This day, however, Tupurahi Tamaiti brought down his, in consequence of a challenge he had received from Mr. Gore. The chief supposed it was to try who could send the arrow farthest; Mr. Gore, who best could hit a mark, and as Mr. Gore did not value himself upon shooting to a great distance, nor the chief upon hitting a mark, there was no trial of skill between them. Tupurahi, however, to show us what he could do, drew his bow and sent an arrow, none of which are feathered, 274 yards, which is something more than a seventh and something less than a sixth part of a mile. Their manner of shooting is somewhat singular; they kneel down, and the moment the arrow is discharged drop the bow.”‡
[Footnote] * Wallis's Voyage; Cook's Voyages, Vol, I., pp. 444–448.
[Footnote] † Journal, p. 75.
[Footnote] ‡ Cook's Voyages, Vol. II., p. 147.
And this is what he says respecting the New Zealanders, after having been some time among them:—“The perpetual hostility in which these poor savages live has necessarily caused them to make every village a fort. * * * These people have neither sling nor bow. They throw the dart by hand, and so they do stones; but darts and stones are seldom used except in defending their forts. * * * But it is very strange that the same invention and diligence which have been used in the construction of places so admirably adapted to defence, almost without tools, should not, when urged by the same necessity, have furnished them with a single missile weapon, except the lance, which is thrown by hand; they have no contrivance like a bow to discharge a dart, nor anything like a sling to assist them in throwing a stone, which is the more surprising, as the invention of slings, and bows and arrows, is much more obvious than of the works which these people construct, and both these weapons are found among much ruder nations, and in almost every other part of the world. The points of their long lances are barbed, and they handle them with such strength and agility that we can match them with no weapon but a loaded musquet.”*
Sydney Parkinson has an excellent remark on this subject (excellent in more ways than one), which I also quote, in the hope that future writers on “the whence of the Maori,” will take a note of it. He says—“Something has already been mentioned respecting the language of the New Zealanders, and of its affinity with that of the people of Tahiti, which is a very extraordinary circumstance, and leads us to conclude that one place was originally peopled from the other, though they are at near 2000 miles distance. * * * The migration was probably from New Zealand to Tahiti, as the inhabitants of New Zealand were totally unacquainted with the use of bows and arrows till we first taught them, whereas the people of Tahiti use them with great dexterity, having, doubtless, discovered the use of them by some accident after their separation; and it cannot be supposed that the New Zealanders would have lost so beneficial an acquisition if they had ever been acquainted with it.”†
It must not be overlooked that two Tahitians (Tupaea and his son Taiota) were with them on this occasion. Tupaea not only aided the English considerably as interpreter, but was often facile princeps during the whole of their long stay among the New Zealanders. So, again, on Cook's second voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand, he had on board a native of Porapora (one of the Society Isles), named Mahine, who came on with him to New Zealand.
[Footnote] * Cook's Voyages, Vol. II. p. 345; III. 466.
[Footnote] † Parkinson's Journal, p. 75.
Dr. Forster, who accompanied Cook on his second voyage round the world, has given us a full account of the weapons of the people of Tanna, an island they discovered and spent some time at on their third voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand. There, at Tanna, not only darts and slings were used in warfare, but also bows and arrows. And, again, subsequently, when at New Caledonia (which island Cook also discovered during that voyage), Dr. Forster gives another interesting account of the very peculiar manner in which those natives threw their darts, and, also, their prepared stones from slings.*
Mr. Nicholas, who was in New Zealand with Mr. Marsden in 1814, and who spent several months in the country travelling about, and seeing all that was to be seen, saw no projectile weapon used by the natives save their common hand spears. And Major Cruise, during his ten months' residence, is also equally silent about any missiles used by them in their warfare, although as a military officer, in command of soldiers, anything of that kind would be sure to have attracted his notice.
We gather the same from Rutherford's Journal. This witness had ample opportunities during his long sojourn of ten years among the New Zealanders, during which time he got fully tattooed and lived wholly à-la-Maori, in his frequent travellings with the Maoris from place to place in the interior, and from his having been a witness of several severe and bloody battles. Curiously enough, Rutherford was at the great battle fought at Kaipara between the Ngatiwhatua and the Ngapuhi tribes, in which the savage and murderous chief Hongi was present, commanding the Ngapuhi, and in which fierce battle Hongi's son, Hare, was slain, and his head, with others, carried off in triumph by Rutherford's Maori party from the East Coast; that battle was fought in the year 1825. Rutherford is in many respects a truthful witness, as I have good reasons for saying, having formerly traced out not a few of his statements. To the above I might add the uniform testimony of all the first missionaries, who saw quite enough of bloody work; and of Polack,† who resided a few years in New Zealand; who resided a few years in New Zealand;
[Footnote] * See appendix A for these extracts which I make, as Forster's Voyage is a scarce work; and, also, believing they may be of service hereafter.
[Footnote] † Polack says:—“The weapons employed in the native warfare were not remarkable for beauty or variety, and are now entirely laid aside. The bow and arrow found among all savage nations were unknown in the country, where numerous woods exist admirably fitted for the formation of such universally known weapons. Slings, another implement that did much execution, were also unknown.” (Vol. II., pp. 28–29). Polack is a writer whom I should scarcely ever think of quoting, not merely on account of his being comparatively modern (in my writing of the ancient New Zealander) but owing to his many errors; had he contented himself with giving us plainly what he saw, without colouring (for he travelled a little while in New Zealand), and without attempting anything of science or history, theology or language, or the drawing of deductions,(!) for all which he was totally unfitted, then his observations would have been of real service.
but I will here close with my own, and that for two reasons: 1. That I had early travelled more than any one in New Zealand (the North Island), leaving few spots unvisited, and had used my eyes and ears in so travelling; and that I had also witnessed their manner of fighting and of attack; 2. That it was our custom at an early date (1834–1840), seeing we were but few then in number in the land, and could not possibly go everywhere—to collect young Maoris from all parts, and to teach them at our principal mission stations in the Bay of Islands, and then, when taught, return them to their homes and tribes; and that many of our Maori servants and labourers, amounting to some scores, or hundreds, were from those who had been taken young in war (of whom a large number we got liberated and returned to their homes), and from them I had often their vivid and interesting recitals of those battles and sieges, with every minutiæ; and my own testimony is this (the same indeed as that of Cook and others) that the New Zealander never knew the use of the bow and arrow, nor of the sling proper, as used, for instance, by the natives of Tahiti.
As to the use of the little instrument called a kotaha (sometimes a kopere, though, more properly speaking, the kopere was that by which the kotaha was thrown.”) I have ever had very grave doubts of its being a true New Zealand implement; for the endeavour to learn something about it (when first prosecuting my enquiries 40–45 years ago) always ended in disappointment. On this head I could say a good deal, but for the present I forbear.
Here, however, are a few things that should not be lost sight of in this investigation: 1. That in all those old Maori tales of fightings and battles and sieges, and especially the killing of monsters (taniwhas, some of which I have lately translated), while every possible weapon known to the old Maori, both of offence and defence, including even walking-sticks, is always carefully noticed, nothing of the kind in question (missiles) save plain common hand-spears, are ever mentioned;* and yet, for those very purposes, no other weapon would have been so useful. 2. That just as the old New Zealanders were early taught how to use the bow and arrow (and, no doubt, the sling also, by Tupaea and Taiota), as Parkinson says, so were they in after years taught how to make and use the bow and arrow, by myself and other of the early missionaries, as implements of sport for the boys, both of the mission families and of the Maori families living with us. I have made several for them, but the young Maoris of that day never took to it, from the fact of its not being a national weapon, and not falling in with the genius of the Maori. 3. That from the beginning of this century, or even earlier, the New Zealanders went often abroad in ships as visitors,
[Footnote] * And even these darts, it should be observed, are not spoken of as thrown at the taniwhas.
especially to New South Wales; indeed, a very extensive intercourse was then and for many years carried on between Port Jackson and New Zealand, partly owing to the whale and seal fishery.* 4. That on Mr. Marsden's visit (1814) several foreigners were residing in New Zealand; mention is particularly made, among others, of a Tahitian,† and a Hindoo, who were dwelling with the Maoris as Maoris, and who had quite made this country their home, without a wish to leave it; Major Cruise also, in 1819, found a native of the Marquesas‡ Islands fairly settled among them; and that for many years convicts from the neighbouring penal colonies were continually escaping thence to New Zealand. 5. That from 1820–1840 young New Zealanders were frequently entering whale-ships and other vessels, to serve on cruises in the South Seas, several of whom returned to their native country and settled. 6. That during several years, after the arrival of the missionaries and before the formation of the colony, many harbours in New Zealand, and the Bay of Islands in particular, were the common resort of American, Colonial, and other whalers, whose crews were composed of men of many nations and of all colours; and among them were often natives from the East, including China and the South Sea Islands, some of whom settled in New Zealand, and no doubt many of them taught the New Zealander not a few novel things. 7. Two old sayings of the Maoris bearing on this subject I would also adduce:—1. Their terse old proverb, “He tao rakau ka taea te pare, he tao kückore e taea”—a wooden spear can be parried,∥ a slanderous word§ cannot be parried. Now, if any other more destructive missile were known and in use among them, than the common hand-spear, surely such would have been preferred here. 2. Their saying, on the introduction of fire-arms, and for a long time after, that the only thing they disliked them for was, that by them the warrior fell as well as the slave at a distance,¶ before that the hand-to-hand fight begun:** another proof that deadly missiles acting at a distance were not known. (8) Further, in all their very many proverbs and sayings there is no allusion to any such thing.
My own opinion has long been, that the old New Zealanders (ever quick and able imitators, especially in any matter connected with warfare), having early had lessons from the Tahitian, Tupaea (whom they all but adored) and his son, Taiota, and also on Cook's second voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand, from Mahine, the native of Porapora, in the arts of fashioning and using projectiles, perhaps endeavoured to adopt them, and
[Footnote] * See appendix B.
[Footnote] † Nicholas' “New Zealand,” Vol. I., p. 92.
[Footnote] ‡ Cruise's Journal, p. 198.
[Footnote] ∥ Lit., a spoken spear.
[Footnote] § See appendix, note B, for an illustration.
[Footnote] ¶ Lit., died like a nobody—a fool.
[Footnote] ** The chiefs and the principal men urged onward the rush of the vanguard, but were not in it; they followed.
possibly did so to a certain poor extent; but the great facility with which they very soon acquired firearms caused them to set those missiles aside. What they might have done and perfected, having once been put into the way, had they remained isolated and not obtained muskets, is another matter.
I have been led to make all these almost extra remarks through noticing what was said by a Mr. Grace at the time of the reading of Mr. Phillips' paper, as reported (I am sorry to find) in the “Proceedings” (Vol. X., p. 527). Mr. Grace might equally as well have said, that because he had always seen the Maoris playing at draughts, or growing and eating melons, peaches, and potatoes, ergo, such were indigenous! Such observations tend to mislead (being wholly erroneous), and will mislead still more in the future unless refuted; hence, in great measure, I now write to such an extent. It is from such superficial remarks that the works of Tylor, Lubbock, and Herbert Spencer, and others, become of less value than they would otherwise be, through everything being gathered and admitted as of equal authority!
And just so it is (I regret to say) with some of the remarks made by Mr. Phillips himself in this very paper; i.e., in my estimation they are deceiving, because they assume the very thing we are in search of—“the whence of the Maori?”—a problem by no means yet proved. Yet Mr. Phillips says:—“I have often wondered how it is that the aborigines of New Zealand should have made so little use of the bow and arrow, this being a weapon peculiarly suited to savage tribes, and, moreover, the familiar one of their ancestors.” (Where did Mr. Phillips get this?) Again, speaking of the toy-arrow he had been describing, he says:—“In itself it is a harmless weapon, and how it happens that the Maoris, a section of the Polynesian race, should have thus allowed so useful a weapon as the South Sea bow and arrow to degenerate into a mere toy,* is to me a curious circumstance.” (S. Parkinson's remark on this very point, already quoted by me at p. 108, made a hundred years ago, is far more rational every way; but then Parkinson, although he had seen more, had no preconception, no pet hobby to support!) Further, Mr. Phillips says:—“It is well-known (?) that in olden days the Maoris launched their spears against a hostile fort by means of a whip, similar to the one above described, and they were even able to hurt stones a long distance.” (Whence, too, is this derived?) Lastly, Mr. Phillips winds up his paper by saying:—“All these weapons, however, fell into disuse after the introduction of fire-arms some sixty years ago, which may account for the disappearance of the bow and arrow.” To which statement, I trust, this paper will be found a complete answer.
[Footnote] * Vide post “Proceedings H. B. P. Institute, ordinary meeting, September 9, 1878,” for an interesting account of the introduction into New Zealand of this “toy arrow,” by a living witness.
Mr. Phillips also gives an account of a “pigeon spear,” made out of a rough unworked piece of a “raataa vine.”(!) Just so; that is the poor modern spear, hastily put together by the lazy, loquacious, itinerating Maori of modern days! but such make-shifts were not (commonly) used by his forefathers, although I have seen them* stored up in the mountain forests; they were far above it.† And then follows the novel idea of “trapping the brown parrot by means of a shorter hand-spear.”(!) As if parrots were ever caught in that way! The Maoris had but one general mode of taking the parrot (kaakaa), which was admirably adapted and serviceable, and is still in use in the dense forests of the interior.
My Note, referred to at p. 106, is as follows:—“Note 7, par. 15, § 2.—Travelling beyond the East Cape in January, 1838, I arrived at Waipiro (Open Bay), and striking inland over high hills reached a place called Tapatahi, where were the remains of a famous stronghold or pa of the olden time. This fort is strongly situated on the abrupt precipitous end of a high hilly yet narrow range, and made impregnable by art; the only possible way of access leading from the top of the ridge, but this the Maoris had completely secured by cutting a deep fosse across it. The Ngatimaru tribe, arriving in their canoes from the North, well armed with muskets for the purpose of slaughter, the people of this neighbourhood took refuge in their stronghold on the crag, where they were regularly besieged. Several hundreds of Maoris were cooped up in it, and for some time the place was closely invested; and though provisions fell short among them there was no outlet of escape. The besiegers getting both tired and hungry(!)—for the entrance end of the fort was made so high above the deep-cut fosse that musketry could effect nothing, unless any one of the besieged wilfully exposed himself—at last the besiegers hit upon a mode of attack and assault which proved successful; they prepared sticks with dry combustibles fastened to one of their ends, while to the other was tied a strip of flax-leaf, and the wind being favourable, they set fire to them, and then whirled and flung those flaming darts across the ditch into the pa, where, alighting on the dry thatch roofs of the houses and sheds, the whole was soon on fire; then, in the confusion, the assault was made, under cover of their muskets, and the slaughter was very great, even for a successful Maori attack! Many of the unfortunate besieged threw themselves down the precipice in sheer desperation, and only a very small number escaped with their lives. There is a small moat or pool of deep water close to the base of the precipice on one
[Footnote] * That is, a spear-head, fitted on to the rough stem of a large creeper (vine): but never on a raataa (Metrosideros robusta).
[Footnote] † If I mistake not there will be a full description of a “pigeon spear,” and how it was made, one of the wondrous works of old! in those Notes of mine.
side, and possibly a lucky few might have fallen into it, and so broke the force of their fall. The whole spot is a most romantic one naturally, and at the time of my visit it was desolate and bare—a sad and striking memento of the horrid past!”
The, Editor of the “Transactions,” in a note of his own appended to Mr. Phillips' paper, refers us to three works, viz.:—
1. Sir G. Grey's “Polynesian Mythology,” p. 157. The single case there mentioned is said to have taken place in the very beginning of Maori history, and was just simply the whirling of a fire-brand on to a thatched roof, much the same as the circumstance above related from my Notes.
2. Dr. Thomson's “Story of New Zealand,” Vol. I., chap. 7. In this relation (as well as in several other places in his book) there is much of error, as must always be the case with all modern compilers who may follow in the Doctor's wake; for (1) Dr. Thomson has completely ignored all that was written by Cook and others,* although he has given a list of their works, and the question has often arisen in my mind, did Dr. Thomson ever read them? (2) Knowing nothing himself personally of the matters in question, he copied freely, and picked up and set down all that he heard, too often hastily drawing conclusions. Hence it was that he says of their projectiles—“Occasionally red hot stones were thrown from slings in the hope of setting pas on fire; so were slight javelins, sharp and jagged at the point; occasionally they were pointed with bone, or the barb of the stingray; these were discharged by slings from elevated platforms, etc. Bows and arrows were not unknown, though never used in war.” (Vol. I., ch. 7.)
3. Mr. White's new work, “Te Rou,” is one of fiction, and his long note, referred to by the Editor, is suited to it; it is of no use here.
Appendix A.—(See p. 109).
Dr. Forster says:—“The weapons which the men of Tanna constantly carry are bows and arrows, clubs, darts, and slings. Their young men are
[Footnote] * In addition to what we have on record (already referred to) by Cook and others, there are a few early celebrated known engagements, attacks on Maori forts by Europeans, when, if ever, the Maoris would have used such projectiles, viz:—(1) That by the French under Crozet, in revenge for the death of their commander (Marion) and his men, when they attacked and took their stronghold or fort in the Bay of Islands. See App. C. (2) That of the combined crews of five whalers on the pa in the islet in Whangaroa harbour in revenge for the taking and burning of the “Boyd,” and the killing of the captain, passengers, and crew. (3) That of the soldiers and sailors of H.M.S. “Alligator” on the pa at Wamate, near Cape Egmont, in revenge for their having plundered Guard's ship, &c. In all these cases the Maori pas, or forts, securely fenced and well situated (after the old custom) and almost inaccessible, were attacked and taken; and yet, while the Maoris defended themselves well and long, nothing was seen, or shown, or used, in the shape of “slings” and “hot” stones,” “bows and arrows, jagged darts, and poisoned kotahas! (Jam satis!)
commonly slingers and archers, but those of a more advanced age make use of clubs or darts. The bows are made of the best club-wood (casuarina), very strong and elastic. They polish them very highly, and perhaps rub them with oil from time to time, in order to keep them in repair. Their arrows are of reed, near four feet long. The same black wood which the Mallicollese employ for the point is likewise made use of at Tanna; but the whole point which is frequently above a foot long, is jagged or bearded on two or three sides. They have likewise arrows with three points, but these are chiefly intended to kill birds and fish. Their slings are made of cocoanut fibres, and worn round the arm or waist; they have a broad part for the reception of the stone, of which the people carry with them several in a leaf. The darts or spears are the third sort of missile weapons at Tanna. They are commonly made of a thin, knotty, and ill-shaped stick, not exceeding half-an-inch in diameter, but nine or ten feet long. At the thickest end they are shaped into a triangular point, six or eight inches long, and on each corner there is a row of eight or ten beards or hooks. These darts they throw with great accuracy, at a short distance, by the help of a piece of plaited cord, four or five inches long, which has a knob at one end, and an eye at the other. They hold the dart between the thumb and forefinger, having previously placed the latter in the eye of the rope, the remaining part of which is slung round the dart, above the hand, and forms a kind of noose round it, serving to guide and confine the dark in its proper direction, when it is once projected. I have seen one of these darts thrown, at the distance of ten or twelve yards, into a stake four inches in diameter, with such violence that the jagged point was forced quite through it. The same thing may be said of their arrows; at eight or ten yards distance they shoot them very accurately and with great force; but as they are cautious of breaking their bows, they seldom draw them to the full stretch, and therefore, at twenty-five or thirty yards, their arrows have little effect, and are not to be dreaded.”
“The arms of the natives of New Caledonia were clubs, spears, and slings. * * * Their spears are fifteen or twenty feet long, and black. They throw them by the assistance of such short cords, knobbed at one end and looped at the other, as are usual at Tanna, and which seamen call beckets. Those of New Caledonia were of superior workmanship, and contained a quantity of red wool, which we should have taken for the covering of a new sort of animal, if we had not formerly seen the Vampyre or great Indian bat, from whence it was taken. Their last weapons were slings, for bows and arrows were wholly unknown to them. These slings consisted of a slender round cord no thicker than a pack-thread, which had a tassel at one end and a loop at the other end and in the middle. The stones which they used were
oblong and pointed at each end, being made of a soft and unctuous soaprock (simectites), which could easily be rubbed into that shape. These exactly fitted the loop in the middle of the sling, and were kept in a wallet or pocket of coarse cloth, strongly woven of a kind of grass, which was tied on about the middle. Their shape gives them a striking resemblance to the glandes plumbeæ of the Romans.”—Forster's Voyage, Vol. II., pp. 278, 279, 385.
Appendix B.—(See p. 111).
I here give an interesting extract from “Turnbull's Voyage Round the World” (1801–4), as it bears a little on the subject before us:—
“A chief of note named Te Pahi, with five of his sons, who resided at the Bay of Islands, wished to see Port Jackson. They were taken by Captain Stewart in his ship to Norfolk Island, where they received every attention from the commandant and inhabitants; and after remaining there some time they were received on board H.M.S. ‘Buffalo,’ to be conveyed to Port Jackson. On their arrival, Te Pahi was introduced by Captain Houstin to His Excellency and the officers at the Government House, where he continued to reside during his stay in the colony.
“Shortly after his arrival, a number of the natives assembled in the vicinity of Sydney for the interment of Carrawaye (whose death was occasioned by a spear wound in the knee), who the night before was conveyed here in a shell composed of strips of bark; and the funeral obsequies being over, a war spectacle ensued, when an intended sacrifice to vengeance (known by the name of Blewit) was singled out to answer for the desperate wound inflicted by him upon young Baker. The animosity of his assailants was uncommonly remarkable; their party was far the more powerful, and, confident of their superiority, took every advantage of their numbers. The flight of spears was seldom less than six, and managed with a precision that seemed to promise certain fatality. After 170 had been thus thrown, ten of the most powerful stationed themselves so as nearly to encircle the culprit, and front and rear darted their weapons at the same instant. His activity and strong presence of mind increased with the danger; five he dexterously caught with his feeble target, and the others he miraculously managed to parry off. One of his friends, enraged at the proceedings, threw a spear, and received ten in return. Blewit turned one of his assailant's spears, and passed it through the body of old Whittaker; the affray then became general, but terminated without further mischief.
“Te Pahi, who with several of his sons was present, regarded their warfare with contempt; he frequently discovered much impatience at the length of intervals between the flights, and by signs exhorted them to dispatch;
he considered the heclaman, or shield, an unnecessary appendage, as the hand was sufficient to turn aside and alter the direction of any number of spears. He, nevertheless, highly praised the woomera, or throwing-stick, as, from its elasticity, he acknowledged the weapon to receive much additional velocity. He was visibly chagrined when he saw the old man wounded through the body, and would certainly have executed vengeance upon its author, had he not been, restrained by the solicitations of the spectators.”—Nicholas' “New Zealand,” Vol. II., p. 369.
Appendix C.—(See p. 114).
M. Crozet's description of this attack is so graphic, and at the same time so much in keeping with what I have known to take place among the New Zealanders in their old sieges, that I am tempted to give an extract, as I believe his work is not commonly known in the colony:—M. Crozet commanded the King's sloop of war, the ‘Mascarin,’ under M. Marion, and put into the Bay of Islands in distress, having lost his masts. With great difficulty they cut down fit trees, some three or four miles off in the woods, and to get them out had to make a road! They had now been here at anchor thirty-three days, when the Maoris suddenly rose against the French, and killed Marion, with twenty-eight men! and it was with extreme difficulty that Crozet managed to get on board the ship those left on shore. After this the New Zealanders made several attempts to take even the ships, which they fiercely attacked in a hundred large canoes. At last Crozet, seeing it impossible to supply the ships with masts, unless he could drive the natives from the neighbourhood, went to attack their pa, which was one of the greatest and strongest. He put the carpenters in front to cut down the palisadoes, behind which the natives stood in great numbers on their fighting stages, from which they threw down stones and darts.* His people drove the natives from these stages by keeping up a regular fire, which did some execution. The carpenters could now approach without danger, and in a few moments cut a breach in the fortification. A chief instantly stepped into it with a long spear in his hand. He was shot dead by Crozet's marksmen, and presently another occupied his place, stepping on the dead body. He likewise fell a victim to his intrepid courage, and in the same manner eight chiefs successively defended the post of honour. The rest, seeing their leaders dead, took flight, and the French pursued and killed numbers of them. M. Crozet offered fifty dollars to any person who should take a New Zealander alive, but this was absolutely impracticable. A soldier seized an old man and began to drag him towards his Captain, but the savage, being unarmed, bit into the fleshy part of the Frenchman's hand,
[Footnote] * As described in Cook's Voyages, Vol. II., p. 342–344.
of which the exquisite pain so enraged him that he ran the New Zealander through with the bayonet. M. Crozet found great quantities of dresses, arms, tools, and raw flax in this pa, together with a prodigious store of dried fish and roots. He completed the repairs in his ship without interruption after accomplishing this enterprise, and prosecuted his voyage after a stay of sixty-four days in the Bay of Islands.—Forster's Voyage, Vol. II., pp. 461–465.