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Title: New Zealand
Author: Reeves, William Pember
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Notes

  Page 53—wid-winter changed to mid-winter.
  Page 151—sullenly changed to suddenly.

  The spelling of Lake Te-Anau has been retained with a hyphen
  and the township of Te Anau without a hyphen.

  Other changes made are noted at the end of the book.



NEW ZEALAND



AGENTS


    AMERICA        THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                     64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

    AUSTRALASIA    THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
                     205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE

    CANADA         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
                     ST. MARTIN’S HOUSE, 70 BOND STREET, TORONTO

    INDIA          MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
                     MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                     309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA


[Illustration: ON M’KINNON’S PASS]



    NEW ZEALAND


    PAINTED BY

    F. AND W. WRIGHT

    DESCRIBED BY

    HON. WILLIAM PEMBER REEVES

    HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR NEW ZEALAND

    _Ultima regna canam fluido contermina mundo_

    [Illustration]


    LONDON
    ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
    1908



Contents


    CHAPTER I

      PAGE

    THE ISLANDS AND THEIR CITIES 1


    CHAPTER II

    COUNTRY LIFE 28


    CHAPTER III

    SPORT AND ATHLETICS 52


    CHAPTER IV

    IN THE FOREST 76


    CHAPTER V

    FIRE AND WATER 115

    CHAPTER VI

    ALP, FIORD, AND SANCTUARY 160


    CHAPTER VII

    OUTLYING ISLANDS 204


    APPENDIX

    A WORD TO THE TOURIST 230



List of Illustrations


    1. On M’Kinnon’s Pass _Frontispiece_

           FACING PAGE

    2. “Paradise,” Lake Wakatipu 2

    3. Te-Wenga 4

    4. Diamond Lake 6

    5. On the Bealey River 8

    6. Wellington 18

    7. Dunedin 20

    8. Napier 24

    9. The Bathing Pool 26

    10. Nelson 28

    11. On the Beach at Ngunguru 30

    12. At the Foot of Lake Te-Anau 32

    13. The Waikato at Ngaruawahia 34

    14. Tree Ferns 38

    15. A Maori Village 42

    16. A Pataka 44

    17. Coromandel 50

    18. Cathedral Peaks 56

    19. The Rees Valley and Richardson Range 58

    20. At the Head of Lake Wakatipu 66

    21. North Fiord, Lake Te-Anau 68

    22. Christchurch 72

    23. Canoe Hurdle Race 74

    24. Waihi Bay, Whangaroa Harbour 74

    25. The Return of the War Canoe 76

    26. Okahumoko Bay, Whangaroa 78

    27. Maori Fishing Party 80

    28. Carved House, Ohinemutu 82

    29. A Bush Road 84

    30. Among the Kauri 88

    31. Pohutu-kawa in Bloom, Whangaroa Harbour 90

    32. Nikau Palms 94

    33. On the Pelorus River 98

    34. Auckland 100

    35. Mount Egmont 104

    36. Tarei-po-Kiore 106

    37. Morning on the Wanganui River 108

    38. On the Upper Wanganui 110

    39. Wairua Falls 112

    40. “The Dragon’s Mouth” 120

    41. Huka Falls 122

    42. Ara-tia-tia Rapids 124

    43. Lake Taupo 130

    44. In a Hot Pool 134

    45. Ngongotaha Mountain 136

    46. Lake and Mount Tarawera 144

    47. Maori Washing-day, Ohinemutu 146

    48. Wairoa Geyser 150

    49. Cooking in a Hot Spring 152

    50. The Champagne Cauldron 154

    51. Evening on Lake Roto-rua 156

    52. Planting Potatoes 158

    53. The Wairau Gorge 160

    54. In the Hooker Valley 162

    55. Mount Cook 164

    56. Mount Sefton 172

    57. The Tasman Glacier 174

    58. The Cecil and Walter Peaks 176

    59. Manapouri 178

    60. Mitre Peak 180

    61. In Milford Sound 182

    62. On the Clinton River 184

    63. At the Head of Lake Te-Anau 186

    64. The Buller River near Hawk’s Craig 192

    65. Below the Junction of the Buller and Inangahua Rivers 194

    66. Bream Head, Whangarei Heads 196

    67. Lawyer’s Head 198

    68. A Maori Chieftainess 200

    69. Weaving the Kaitaka 212

    70. “Te Hongi” 216

    71. Wahine’s Canoe Race on the Waikato 218

    72. Native Gathering 220

    73. White Cliffs, Buller River 230

    74. The Otira Gorge 232

    75. Lake Waikare-Moana 234

      _Map at end of Volume._ 242



CHAPTER I

THE ISLANDS AND THEIR CITIES


The poet who wrote the hexameter quoted on the title-page meant it to
be the first line of a Latin epic. The epic was not written--in Latin
at any rate,--and the poet’s change of purpose had consequences of
moment to literature. But I have always been glad that the line quoted
was rescued from the fire, for it fits our islands very well. They
are, indeed, on the bounds of the watery world. Beyond their southern
outposts the seaman meets nothing till he sees the iceblink of the
Antarctic.

From the day of its annexation, so disliked by Downing Street, to
the passing of those experimental laws so frowned upon by orthodox
economists, our colony has contrived to attract interest and cause
controversy. A great deal has been written about New Zealand; indeed,
the books and pamphlets upon it form a respectable little library. Yet
is the picture which the average European reader forms in his mind
anything like the islands? I doubt it. The patriotic but misleading
name, “The Britain of the South,” is responsible for impressions
that are scarcely correct, while the map of the world on Mercator’s
Projection is another offender. New Zealand is not very like Great
Britain, though spots can be found there--mainly in the province of
Canterbury and in North Otago--where Englishmen or Scotsmen might
almost think themselves at home. But even this likeness, pleasant as
it is at moments, does not often extend beyond the foreground, at any
rate as far as likeness to England is concerned. It is usually an
effect produced by the transplanting of English trees and flowers,
cultivation of English crops and grasses, acclimatisation of English
birds and beasts, and the copying more or less closely of the English
houses and dress of to-day. It is a likeness that is the work of the
colonists themselves. They have made it, and are very proud of it. The
resemblance to Scotland is not quite the same thing. It sometimes does
extend to the natural features of the country. In the eastern half of
the South Island particularly, there are landscapes where the Scot’s
memory, one fancies, must often be carried back to the Selkirks, the
peaks of Arran, or the Highland lochs of his native land. Always,
however, it is Scotland under a different sky. The New Zealanders live,
on the average, twelve degrees nearer the equator than do dwellers in
the old country, and though the chill of the Southern Ocean makes the
change of climate less than the difference of latitude would lead one
to expect, it is still considerable. The skies are bluer and higher,
the air clearer, and the sun much hotter than in the British
Isles. The heavens are a spacious dome alive with light and wind. Ample
as the rainfall is, and it is ample almost everywhere, the islands,
except in the south-west, strike the traveller as a sunny as well as a
bracing country. This is due to the ocean breezes and the strength of
the sunshine. The average number of wet days in the year is 151; but
even a wet day is seldom without sunshine, it may be for some hours, it
will be at least a few gleams. Such a thing as a dry day without a ray
of brilliance is virtually unknown over four-fifths of the colony. I
once had the felicity of living in London during twenty-two successive
days in which there was neither a drop of rain nor an hour of sunshine.
If such a period were to afflict New Zealand, the inhabitants would
assuredly imagine that Doomsday was at hand. “Truly the light is sweet,
and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun,” is a text
which might be adopted as a motto for the islands.

[Illustration: “PARADISE,” LAKE WAKATIPU]

In the matter of climate the islanders are certainly the spoilt
children of Nature; and this is not because the wind does not blow
or the rain fall in their country, but because of what Bishop Selwyn
called “the elastic air and perpetual motion” which breed cheerfulness
and energy all the year round. Of all European climates it resembles
most closely, perhaps, that of the coasts of France and Spain fronting
on the Bay of Biscay. Round New Zealand are the same blue, sparkling,
and uneasy seas, and the same westerly winds, often wet and sometimes
rising into strong gales. And where France and Spain join you may see
in the Pyrenees very much such a barrier of unbroken mountains as the
far-reaching, snowy chains that form the backbone of the islands of the
south. Further, though mountainous, ours is an oceanic country, and
this prevents the climate from being marked by great extremes. It is
temperate in the most exact sense of the word. The difference between
the mean of the hottest month and the mean of the coldest month is not
more than fifteen degrees in most of the settlements. Christchurch is
an exception, and even in Christchurch it is only twenty degrees. In
Wellington the mean for the whole year is almost precisely the same
as in St. Louis in the United States. But the annual mean is often a
deceitful guide. St. Louis is sixteen degrees warmer in summer and
seventeen degrees colder in winter than Wellington; and that makes all
the difference when comfort is concerned. Wellington is slightly cooler
than London in midsummer, and considerably warmer in winter. Finally,
in the matter of wind, the European must not let himself be misled by
the playful exaggerations in certain current New Zealand stories. It
is not the case that the experienced citizen of Wellington clutches
convulsively at his hat whenever he turns a street-corner in any city
of the world; nor is it true that the teeth of sheep in the Canterbury
mountain valleys are worn down in their efforts to hold on to the long
tussock grass, so as to save themselves from being blown away by
the north-west gales. Taken as a whole, our land is neither more nor
less windy than the coasts of the English Channel between Dover and the
Isle of Wight. I write with the advantage of having had many years’
experience of both climates.

[Illustration: TE-WENGA]

On the map of the world New Zealand has the look of a slim insular
strip, a Lilliputian satellite of the broad continent of Australia.
It is, however, twelve hundred miles from the continent, and there
are no island stations between to act as links; the Tasman Sea is an
unbroken and often stormy stretch of water. Indeed, New Zealand is as
close to Polynesia as to Australia, for the gap between Cape Maria Van
Diemen and Niue or Savage Island is also about twelve hundred miles
across. In result, then, the colony cannot be termed a member of any
group or division, political or scientific. It is a lonely oceanic
archipelago, remote from the great centres of the earth, but with a
character, attractions, and a busy life of its own. Though so small on
the map, it does not strike those who see it as a little country. Its
scenery is marked by height and steepness; its mountain ranges and bold
sea-cliffs impress the new-comer by size and wildness. The clear air,
too, enables the eye to travel far; and where the gazer can hold many
miles of country in view--country stretching away, as a rule, to lofty
backgrounds--the adjective “small” does not easily occur to the mind.
Countries like Holland and Belgium seem as small as they are; that is
because they are flat, and thickly sown with cities and villages. In
them man is everything, and Nature appears tamed and subservient. But
New Zealand submits to man slowly, sometimes not at all. There the
rapid rivers, long deep lakes, steep hill-sides, and mountain-chains
rising near to or above the snow-line are features of a scenery varying
from romantic softness to rough grandeur. Indeed the first impression
given by the coast, when seen from the deck of an approaching ship, is
that of the remnant of some huge drowned continent that long ago may
have spread over degrees of longitude where now the Southern Ocean is a
weary waste.

[Illustration: DIAMOND LAKE]

Nor, again, is this impression of largeness created by immense tracts
of level monotony, as in so many continental views. There is none of
the tiresome sameness that besets the railway passenger on the road
from The Hague to Moscow--the succession of flat fields, sandy heaths,
black pine woods, and dead marshes. For the keynote of our scenery is
variety. Few countries in the world yield so rapid a series of sharp
contrasts--contrasts between warm north and cool south; between brisk,
clear east and moist, mild west; between the leafy, genial charm of
the coastal bays and the snows and rocky walls of the dorsal ridges.
The very mountains differ in character. Here are Alps with long white
crests and bony shoulders emerging from forests of beech; there
rise volcanoes, symmetrical cones, streaked with snow, and in some
instances incessantly sending up steam or vapour from their summits.
Most striking of all the differences, perhaps, is the complete change
from the deep and ancient forests which formerly covered half
the islands, to the long stretches of green grass or fern land where,
before the coming of the settlers, you could ride for miles and pass
never a tree. Of course many of these natural features are changing
under the masterful hands of the British colonist. Forests are being
cut down and burned, plains and open valleys ploughed up and sown,
swamps drained, and their picturesque tangle of broad-bladed flax,
giant reeds, and sharp-edged grasses remorselessly cleared away.
Thousands of miles of hedges, chiefly of gorse, now seam the open
country with green or golden lines, and divide the surface into more or
less rectangular fields; and broom and sweetbriar, detested weeds as
they are, brighten many a slope with gold or rose-colour in spring-time.

Plantations of exotic trees grow in number and height yearly, and show
a curious blending of the flora of England, California, and Australia.
Most British trees and bushes thrive exceedingly, though some of them,
as the ash, the spruce, the holly, and the whitethorn, find the summers
too hot and the winters not frosty enough in many localities. More than
in trees, hedgerows, or corn-crops, the handiwork of the colonist is
seen in the ever-widening areas sown with English grasses. Everything
has to give way to grass. The consuming passion of the New Zealand
settler is to make grass grow where it did not grow before, or where
it did grow before, to put better grass in its place. So trees, ferns,
flax, and rushes have to pass away; with them have to go the wiry
native tussock and tall, blanched snow-grass. Already thirteen million
acres are sown with one or other mixture of cock’s-foot, timothy,
clover, rye-grass, fescue--for the New Zealand farmer is knowing in
grasses; and every year scores of thousands of acres are added to the
area thus artificially grassed. Can you wonder? The carrying power of
acres improved in this way is about nine times that of land left in
native pasture; while as for forest and fern land, they, before man
attacked them, could carry next to no cattle or sheep at all. In the
progress of settlement New Zealand is sacrificing much beauty in the
districts once clad in forest. Outside these, however, quite half the
archipelago was already open land when the whites came, and in this
division the work of the settler has been almost entirely improvement.
Forty years ago it needed all the gold of the sunshine and all the
tonic quality of the air to make the wide tracts of stunted bracken
in the north, and even wider expanses of sparse yellowish tussock in
the south, look anything but cheerless, empty, and half-barren. The
pages of many early travellers testify to this and tell of an effect
of depression now quite absent. Further, for fifteen years past the
process of settling the soil has not been confined to breaking in the
wilderness and enlarging the frontiers of cultivated and peopled land.
This good work is indeed going on. But hand in hand with it there
goes on a process of subdivision by which fresh homes rise yearly
in districts already accounted settled; the farmstead chimneys send
up their smoke ever nearer to each other; and the loneliness
and consequent dulness that once half spoiled country life is being
brightened. Very few New Zealanders now need live without neighbours
within an easy ride, if not walk.

[Illustration: ON THE BEALEY RIVER]

Like the province of the Netherlands the name of which it bears, New
Zealand is a green land where water meets the eye everywhere. There
the resemblance ends. The dull grey tones of the atmosphere of old
Zealand, the deep, unchanging green of its pastures, the dead level
and slow current of its shallow and turbid waters, are conspicuously
absent at the Antipodes. When the New Zealander thinks of water his
thoughts go naturally to an ocean, blue and restless, and to rivers
sometimes swollen and clouded, sometimes clear and shrunken, but always
rapid. Even the mountain lakes, though they have their days of peace,
are more often ruffled by breezes or lashed by gales. In a word,
water means water in motion; and among the sounds most familiar to a
New Zealander’s ears are the hoarse brawling of torrents, grinding
and bearing seaward the loose shingle of the mountains, and the deep
roar of the surf of the Pacific, borne miles inland through the long
still nights when the winds have ceased from troubling. It is no mere
accident, then, that rowing and sailing are among the chief pastimes of
the well-watered islands, or that the islanders have become ship-owners
on a considerable scale. Young countries do not always carry much
of their own trade; but, thanks to the energy and astute management
of their Union Steamship Company, New Zealanders not only control
their own coasting trade, but virtually the whole of the traffic
between their own shores, Australia, and the South Sea Islands. The
inter-colonial trade is substantial, amounting to between £5,000,000
and £6,000,000 a year. Much larger, of course, is the trade with the
mother country; for our colony, with some success, does her best to
shoulder a way in at the open but somewhat crowded door of London.
Of her total oversea trade of about £37,000,000 a year, more than
two-thirds is carried on with England and Scotland. Here again the
colonial ship-owner has a share of the carrying business, for the
best known of the four ocean steamship companies in its service is
identified with the Dominion, and bears its name.

With variety of scenery and climate there comes, of course, an equal
variety of products. The colony is eleven hundred miles long, and lies
nearly due north and south. The latitudes, moreover, through which it
extends, namely, those from 34° to 47°, are well suited to diversity.
So you get a range from the oranges and olives of the north to the
oats and rye of colder Southland. Minerals, too, are found of more
than one kind. At first the early settlers seemed none too quick in
appreciating the advantages offered them by so varied a country. They
pinned their faith to wool and wheat only, adding gold, after a time,
to their larger exports. But experience showed that though wool and
wheat yielded large profits, these profits fluctuated, as they still
do. So the growers had to look round and seek for fresh outlets and
industries. Thirty years ago, when their colony was first beginning to
attract some sort of notice in the world’s markets, they still depended
on wool, gold, cereals, hides, and tallow. Cereals they have now
almost ceased to export, though they grow enough for home consumption;
they have found other things that pay better. They produce twice as
much gold as they did then, and grow more wool than ever. Indeed that
important animal, the New Zealand sheep, is still the mainstay of his
country. Last year’s export of wool brought in nearly £7,700,000. But
to the three or four industries enumerated the colonists have added
seven or eight more, each respectable in size and profitable in the
return it yields. To gold their miners have added coal, the output
of which is now two million tons a year. Another mineral--or sort of
mineral--is the fossil resin of the giant Kauri pine, of which the
markets of Europe and North America absorb more than half-a-million
pounds’ worth yearly. Freezing and cold storage have become main allies
of the New Zealand farmer, whose export of frozen mutton and lamb now
approaches in value £4,000,000. Almost as remarkable is the effect of
refrigerating on dairying in the islands. Hundreds of co-operative
butter factories and creameries have been built during the last twenty
years. It is not too much to say that they have transformed the face
of whole provinces. It is possible to grow wool on a large scale with
but the sparsest population, as the interior of Australia shows; but
it is not possible to grow butter or cheese without multiplying homes
and planting families fairly thickly on the land. In New Zealand even
the growing of meat and wool is now chiefly done on moderate-sized
land-holdings. The average size of our flocks is but a thousand head.
But it is dairying that is _par excellence_ the industry of the small
man. It was so from the first, and every decade shows a tendency to
closer subdivision of the land devoted to producing butter and cheese.
Within the last few years, again, yet another industry has seemed to be
on the road to more scientific organisation. This is the manufacture
of hemp from the fibre of the native flax. One cannot call this a new
thing, for the colonists tried it on a fairly large scale more than
thirty years ago; but their enterprise seemed again and again doomed
to disappointment, for New Zealand hemp proved for a long while but
a tricky and uncertain article of commerce. It was and is a kind of
understudy of manilla, holding a place somewhere between that and
sisal. For many years, however, it seemed unable to get a firm footing
in the markets, and when the price of manilla fell was apt to be
neglected altogether. During the last decade, however, the flax millers
have decidedly improved its quality, and a demand for it has sprung up
in countries outside Great Britain. It is said that Americans use it in
lieu of hair, and that the Japanese can imitate silk with it. Certainly
the Germans, Dutch, and French buy it, to spin into binder-twine, or,
may be, to “blend” with other fibres.

To the ordinary stranger from Europe, the most interesting of our
industries are those that bear least likeness to the manufactures
and agriculture of an old country. To him there is a savour of the
strange and new in kauri-gum digging, gold-mining, timber-cutting,
and saw-milling, and even the conversion of bushes of flax into
bales of hemp. But if I were asked to choose two industries before
others to describe with some minuteness, I think I should select
the growing, freezing, and export of meat, and the application of
the factory system to the making and export of butter and cheese.
Though my countrymen have no monopoly of these they have from the
first shown marked activity in organising and exploiting them. In one
chief branch of refrigeration their produce stands first in quality,
if not in quantity. I refer to the supply of mutton and lamb to the
English market. In this they have to compete with the larger flocks
of Australia and the Argentine, as well as, indirectly, with the
huge herds and gigantic trade combinations of the United States. Of
the competitors whose products meet at Smithfield, they are the most
distant, and in their command of capital the least powerful. Moreover,
they are without the advantage--if advantage it be--of cheap labour.
Yet their meat has for many years commanded the best prices paid for
frozen mutton and lamb in London, and the demand, far from being
unequal to the supply, has been chiefly limited by the difficulty of
increasing our flocks fast enough to keep pace with it. In the contest
for English favour, our farmers, though handicapped in the manner
mentioned above, started with three advantages--healthy flocks and
herds, a genial climate, and an educated people. The climate enables
their sheep and cattle to remain out all the year round. Except in the
Southern Alps, they suffer very little loss from weather. The sunny
air helps them to keep disease down, and, as already said, the best
artificial grasses flourish in our islands as they flourish in very few
countries. The standard of education makes labour, albeit highly paid,
skilful and trustworthy. The farm-workers and meat-factory hands are
clean, efficient, and fully alive to the need for sanitary precautions.
The horrors described in Upton Sinclair’s “Jungle” are impossible in
New Zealand for many reasons. Of these, the first is that the men
employed in meat factories would not tolerate their existence.

There are thirty-seven establishments in the colony for meat freezing
and preserving, employing over three thousand hands and paying nearly
£300,000 a year in wages. The value of their output is about £5,000,000
a year, and the bulk of it is exported to the port of London. The
weight of meat sent to the United Kingdom last year was two hundred and
thirty-seven million pounds avoirdupois. Then there are about three
hundred and twenty dairy-butter or cheese factories, without counting
a larger outer circle of skimming stations. To these the dairy-farmers
send their milk, getting it back after skimming. That completes their
share of the work; expert factory hands and managers do the rest. As
for meat-freezing, from beginning to end the industry is scientifically
managed and carefully supervised. At its inception, a quarter of a
century ago, the flocks of the colony were healthy and of good strains
of blood. But they were bred chiefly to grow wool, and mainly showed a
basis of Merino crossed with Lincoln or Leicester. Nowadays the Romney
Marsh blood predominates in the stud flocks, especially in the North
Island. Lincoln, Leicester, Merino, Border Leicester, Shropshire, and
South Down follow in order. For five-and-twenty years our breeders
have brought their skill to bear on crossing, with a view to producing
the best meat for the freezing factory, without ruining the quality
of their wool. They still face the cost and trouble of importing stud
sheep from England, though their own selected animals have brought
them good prices in South America, Australia, and South Africa.
Flocks and herds alike are subjected to regular inspection by the
veterinary officers of the Department of Agriculture; and though the
slaughter-yards and factories of the freezing companies are models of
order, speed, and cleanliness, the Government expert is there too, and
nothing may be sold thence without his certificate, for every carcase
must bear the official mark. From the factory to the steamer, from
one end of the earth to the other, the frozen carcases are vigilantly
watched, and the temperature of the air they are stored in is regulated
with painful care. As much trouble is taken to keep freezing chambers
cold as to keep a king’s palace warm. The shipping companies are as
jealously anxious about the condition of their meat cargoes as they are
for the contentment of their passengers and the safety of their ships.
At the London Docks the meat is once more examined by a New Zealand
official, and finally at Smithfield, as the carcases are delivered
there in the small hours of the morning, they are scanned for the last
time by a veterinary expert from the Antipodes. Moreover, since our
meat goes now to other British ports as well as to London, and since,
too, nearly half of what is discharged in the Thames no longer finds
its way to Smithfield, our inspectors have to follow our meat into
the provinces and report upon the condition in which it reaches such
towns as Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, and Manchester. Furthermore,
they do their best to track it a stage farther and ascertain its fate
at the hands of the unsentimental retail trader. Most New Zealand meat
is now honestly sold as what it is. Some of the best of it, however,
is still palmed off on the consumer as British. On the other hand,
South American mutton is sometimes passed off as New Zealand. The
housewife who buys “Canterbury Lamb” because she likes all things
Kentish is not yet altogether extinct. For all this the clumsily-drawn
English law, which makes conviction so difficult, must be held mainly
responsible. New Zealand butter, too, suffers at the hands of English
manipulators. It is what Tooley Street calls a dry butter--that is to
say, it contains on an average not more than some eleven per cent of
moisture. This renders it a favourite for mixing with milk and for
selling as “milk-blended” butter, a process at which makers in the
colony can only look on wrathfully but helplessly. Otherwise they have
little to complain about, for their butter has for years past brought
them prices almost as high as those of good Danish, while during the
butter famine of the first few months of 1908 as much as 150 shillings
a hundredweight was paid for parcels of it. Before shipment in the
colony, butter and cheese are graded by public inspectors. Every box
bears the Government stamp. In practice the verdict of the grader is
accepted by the English purchasers. Relatively the amount of frozen
beef which we export is not large; but our climate and pastures are too
well suited for beef-growing to make it likely that the discrepancy
will continue. Probably frozen beef will give place to chilled; that
is to say, improvements in the art of chilling will enable our beef to
be carried at a temperature of, let us say, 30° Fahrenheit, instead
of 12°. It will then arrive in England soft and fit for immediate
use: thawing will not be needed, and a higher price will be obtained.
But, however far behind New Zealand may as yet lag in the beef trade,
enough has been done in other branches of refrigeration to show
how scientific, well-organised, and efficient colonial industry is
becoming, and how very far the farmers and graziers of the islands are
from working in the rough and hand-to-mouth fashion that settlers in
new countries are supposed to affect.

[Illustration: WELLINGTON]

The purpose of this sketch, however, is not to dilate upon the growth
of our commerce and industry, remarkable as that is in a country so
isolated and a population only now touching a million. My object,
rather, is to give something of an outline of the archipelago itself,
of the people who live there between the mountains and the sea, and of
the life and society that a new-comer may expect to see. Mainly, then,
the most striking peculiarities of the islands, as a land undergoing
the process of occupation, are the decentralised character of this
occupation, and the large areas, almost unpeopled, that still remain
in a country relatively small in size. New Zealand was originally not
so much a colony as a group of little settlements bound together none
too comfortably. Its nine provinces, with their clashing interests and
intense jealousies, were politically abolished more than thirty years
ago; but some of the local feeling which they stood for and suffered
for still remains, and will remain as long as mountain ranges and
straits of the sea divide New Zealand. Troublesome as its divisions are
to politicians, merchants, ship-owners, councils of defence, and many
other persons and interests, they nevertheless have their advantages.
They breed emulation, competition, civic patriotism; and the local
life, parochial as it looks to observers from larger communities,
is at least far better than the stagnation of provinces drained of
vitality by an enormous metropolis. For in New Zealand you have four
chief towns, large enough to be dignified with the name of cities, as
well as twice as many brisk and aspiring seaports, each the centre and
outlet of a respectable tract of advancing country. All these have
to be thought of when any general scheme for opening up, defending,
or educating the country is in question. Our University, to give one
example, is an examining body, with five affiliated colleges; but
these colleges lie in towns far apart, hundreds of miles from each
other. The ocean steamship companies before mentioned have to carry
merchandise to and from six or eight ports. Singers and actors have to
travel to at least as many towns to find audiences. Wellington, the
capital, is still not the largest of the four chief towns, rapid as its
progress has been during the last generation. Auckland, with 90,000
people, is the largest, as it is the most beautiful; Wellington, with
70,000, holds but the second place.

Decentralised as New Zealand is, large as its rural population is, and
pleasant as its country life can be, still its four chief towns hold
between them more than a quarter of its people, and cannot therefore
be passed over in a sentence. Europeans are apt to be impatient of
colonial towns, seeing in them collections of buildings neither large
enough to be imposing nor old enough to be mellowed into beauty or
quaintness. And it is true that in our four cities you have towns
without architectural or historic interest, and in size only about
equal to Hastings, Oxford, Coventry, and York. Yet these towns,
standing where seventy years ago nothing stood, have other features of
interest beside their newness. Cities are, after all, chiefly important
as places in which civilised men and women can live decently and
comfortably, and do their daily work under conditions which are healthy
and neither degrading nor disagreeable. The first business of a city
is to be useful, and its second to be healthy. Certainly it should not
be hideous; but our cities are not hideous. What if the streets tend
to straight rigidity, while the dwelling-houses are mostly of wood,
and the brick and stone business edifices embody modern commercialism!
The European visitor will note these features; but he will note also
the spirit of cleanliness, order, and convenience everywhere active
among a people as alert and sturdy as they are well fed and comfortably
clad. The unconcealed pride of the colonist in material progress may
sometimes jar a little on the tourist in search of the odd, barbaric,
or picturesque. But the colonist, after all, is building up a civilised
nation. Art, important as it is, cannot be the foundation of a young
state.

[Illustration: DUNEDIN]

In the towns, then, you see bustling streets where electric tramways
run out into roomy suburbs, and where motor-cars have already ceased to
be a novelty. You notice that the towns are even better drained than
paved, and that the water supply everywhere is as good as it ought
to be in so well-watered a country. The visitor can send telegrams
for sixpence and letters for a penny, and finds the State telephone
system as convenient as it is cheap. If the hotels do not display
American magnificence they do not charge American prices, for they
give you comfort and civility for twelve-and-sixpence a day. Theatres
and concert-halls are commodious, if not imposing; and, thanks to
travelling companies and to famous artists passing through on their
way to or from Australia, there is usually a good play to be seen or
good music to be heard. Indeed, if there be an art which New Zealanders
can be said to love, it is music. Their choral societies and
glee clubs are many, and they have at least one choir much above the
average. Nor are they indifferent to the sister art of painting, a
foundation for which is laid in their State schools, where all children
have to learn to draw. Good art schools have been founded in the larger
towns, and in some of the smaller. Societies are buying and collecting
pictures for their galleries. At the International Exhibition held
in Christchurch in 1906-7 the fine display of British art, for which
our people had to thank the English Government, was welcomed with
the enthusiasm it deserved. The picture galleries were thronged from
beginning to end of the Exhibition, and the many thousands of pounds
spent in purchases gave material evidence of the capacity of New
Zealanders to appreciate good art when they have the chance of seeing
it.

The same may be said of literature. To say that they all love books
would be absurd; but of what nation can that be said? What can truly
be affirmed is that all of them read newspapers; that most of them
read books of some sort; and that all their books are not novels.
Booksellers tell you that the demand for cheap editions of well-known
authors is astonishing in so small a population. They try to write
books, too, and do not always fail; and a small anthology--it would
have to be very slender--might be filled with genuine New Zealand
poetry. Domett’s reputation is established. Arthur Adams, Arnold Wall,
and Miss Mackay, when at their best, are poets, and good poets.

Of course, however, it is in the newspapers that we have the plainest
evidence of the average public taste. It is a land of newspapers, town
and country, daily and weekly, small or of substantial size. To say
that the best of these equals the best of the English provincial papers
is not, I fear, true. The islands contain no daily newspaper which a
journalist can honestly call equal to the _Manchester Guardian_ or the
_Birmingham Post_; but many of the papers are good, and some of them
are extraordinarily good for towns the largest of which contains, with
its suburbs, but 90,000 people. No one journal towers above the others.
If I were asked to choose a morning, an evening, and a weekly paper, I
should perhaps name the _Otago Daily Times_, the Wellington _Evening
Post_, and the Christchurch _Weekly Press_; but the _Auckland Weekly
News_ has the best illustrations, and I could understand a good judge
making a different selection. The most characteristic of the papers are
illustrated weekly editions of the chief dailies. These good though
not original products of island journalism are pretty close imitations
of their Victorian prototype, _The Australasian_. The influence of the
Press is considerable, though not perhaps as great as might be looked
for from the numbers and success of the newspapers. Moreover, and this
is really curious, they influence the public less in the politics of
the colony than in several other fields.

In a book on New Zealand published ten years ago, I wrote in my haste
the words, “There is no Colonial literature.” What I meant to express,
and doubtless ought to have said, is that there is no body of writing
by New Zealanders at once substantial and distinguished enough to
be considered a literature. I did not mean to suggest that, amongst
the considerable mass of published matter for which my countrymen
are responsible, there is nothing of good literary quality. It would
not have been true to say this ten years ago, and it would be still
less true to say it now. Amongst the large body of conscientious work
published in the colony itself during the last quarter of a century
there is some very good writing indeed. A certain amount of it deserves
to be better known outside our borders than it is. Putting manner aside
for the moment, and dealing only with matter, it is, I think, true to
say that any thorough student of New Zealand as it is to-day, or has
been since 1880, must for authentic information mainly go to works
published in the colony itself. I have some right to speak, for I have
been reading about New Zealand for forty years, and all my reading
has not been desultory. Slight as is this book, for instance, and
partly based as it is on personal recollection and knowledge gleaned
orally, still I could not have written it without very careful study
of many colonial writings. In scanning my list of later authorities
consulted, I am surprised to find what very few exceptions there are to
the rule that they are printed at the other end of the world. To begin
with, the weekly newspapers of the Dominion are mines of information
to any one who knows how to work them. So are the Blue-books, and
that bible of the student of nature and tradition in our islands,
the _Transactions of the New Zealand Institute_. Then there is the
_Journal of the Polynesian Society_; after which comes a long list of
official publications. First among them rank Kirk’s _Forest Flora_ and
Mr. Percy Smith’s _Eruption of Tarawera_. The best general sketch of
Maori manners, customs, and beliefs, is that of Edward Tregear; far the
best book on Maori art is A. Hamilton’s. Quite lately Mr. M’Nab, the
present Minister of Lands, has made a very valuable contribution to the
early chronicles of South New Zealand, in his _Muri-huku_, for which
generations of students will be grateful. Mr. Carrick’s gossip--also
about our South--and Mr. Ross’s mountaineering articles must not be
passed over. Furthermore, there is an illustrated manual of our plants
by Laing and Blackwell, which is something more than a manual, for it
is full of reading which is enjoyable merely as reading. And there is
a manual of our animal life in which the work of Hutton, Drummond,
and Potts is blended with excellent results. Dr. Cockayne’s botanic
articles, Mr. Shand’s papers on the Chathams, and Mr. Buick’s local
Histories of Marlborough and Manawatu deserve also to be noted. Much of
Mr. James Cowan’s writing for the Government Tourist Department is well
above the average of that class of work.

[Illustration: NAPIER]

Society in the towns is made up of a mingling of what in England would
be called the middle and upper-middle classes. In some circles the
latter preponderate, in others the former. New Zealanders occasionally
boast that in their country class distinctions are unknown;
but though this is true politically--for there are no privileged
classes and no lower orders--the line is drawn in matters social, and
sometimes in odd and amusing ways. The townsfolk inside the line are
financiers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, manufacturers, clergymen,
newspaper owners, the higher officials, and the larger sort of agents
and contractors. Here and there, _rari nantes_, are to be encountered
men who paint or write, or are musicians, or professors, or teachers
of colleges or secondary schools. Most of the older and some of the
younger are British-born, but the differences between them and the
native-born are not very apparent, though shades of difference can be
detected. Money, birth, official position, and ability are passports
there, much as in other countries; though it is only fair to say that
money is not all-powerful, and that ability, if not brilliant, has a
slightly better chance than in older societies. On the surface the
urban middle class in the colony differs but little from people of
the same sort in the larger provincial cities of the mother country.
Indeed the likeness is remarkable, albeit in the colony there is no
aristocracy, no smart set, no Army, Navy, or dominant Church; while
underneath there is no multitude of hungry and hard-driven poor for
the rich to shrink from or regard as dangerous. Yet, except for the
comparative absence of frock-coats and tall silk hats, and for the
somewhat easier and less suspicious manner, the middle class remain a
British middle class still. It is, then, pleasant to think that, if
they retain English prejudices, they have also the traditional virtues
of the English official and man of business.

[Illustration: THE BATHING POOL]

To a social student, however, the most interesting and, on the whole,
most cheering aspect of town life is supplied by the work-people. They
are worth watching as they go to their shops and factories between
eight and nine in the morning, or when, after five in the afternoon,
they pour into the streets with their work done and something of the
day yet left to call their own. The clean, well-ventilated work-rooms
are worth a visit certainly. But it is the men and women, youths and
girls themselves who, to any one acquainted with factory hands in
the Old World, seem the best worth attention. Everywhere you note a
decent average of health, strength, and contentment. The men do not
look stunted or deadened, the women pinched or sallow, the children
weedy or underfed. Most of them seem bright and self-confident, with
colour in their faces and plenty of flesh on their frames, uniting
something of English solidity with a good deal of American alertness.
Seventy thousand hands--the number employed in our factories and
workshops--may seem few enough. But forty years ago they could not
muster seven thousand, and the proportional increase during the last
twelve years has been very rapid. To what extent their healthy and
comfortable condition is due to the much-discussed labour laws of
New Zealand is a moot point which need not be discussed here. What
is certain is that for many years past the artisans and labourers
of the colony have increased in numbers, while earning higher
wages and working shorter hours than formerly. At the same time the
employers as a body have prospered as they never prospered before,
and this prosperity shows as yet no sign of abatement. That what is
called the labour problem has been solved in New Zealand no sensible
man would pretend. But at least the more wasteful and ruinous forms
of industrial conflicts have for many years been few and (with two
exceptions) very brief, a blessing none too common in civilised
communities. As a testimony to the condition of the New Zealand worker
I can hardly do better than quote the opinion of the well-known English
labour leader, Mr. Keir Hardie. Whatever my readers may think of his
opinions--and some of them may not be among his warm admirers--they
will admit that he is precisely the last man in the Empire likely to
give an overflattering picture of the lot of the labourer anywhere.
His business is to voice the grievances of his class, not to conceal
or suppress them. Now, Mr. Hardie, after a tour round the Empire,
deliberately picks out New Zealand as the most desirable country for
a British emigrant workman. The standard of comfort there appears to
him to be higher than elsewhere, and he recognises that the public
conscience is sensitive to the fair claims of labour.



CHAPTER II

COUNTRY LIFE


When all is said, however, it is not the cities which interest most
the ordinary visitors to New Zealand. They may have a charm which it
is no exaggeration to call loveliness, as Auckland has; or be finely
seated on hill-sides overlooking noble harbours, as Wellington and
Dunedin are. They may have sweetly redeeming features, like the river
banks, public and private gardens, and the vistas of hills and distant
mountains seen in flat Christchurch. They may be pleasant altogether
both in themselves and their landscape, as Nelson is. But after all
they are towns, and modern towns, whose best qualities are that they
are wholesome and that their raw newness is passing away. It is to the
country and the country life that travellers naturally turn for escape
into something with a spice of novelty and maybe a touch of romance.
Nor need they be disappointed. Country life in the islands varies with
the locality and the year. It is not always bright, any more than is
the New Zealand sky. It is not always prosperous, any more than
you can claim that the seasons are always favourable. But, on the
whole, I do not hesitate to say, that to a healthy capable farmer or
rural worker the colony offers the most inviting life in the world.
In the first place, the life is cheerful and healthy; in the next
place, the work, though laborious at times, need not be killing; and
then the solitude, that deadly accompaniment of early colonial life,
has now ceased to be continuous except in a few scattered outposts.
Moreover--and this is important--there is money in it. The incompetent
or inexperienced farmer may, of course, lose his capital, just as a
drunken or stupid labourer may fail to save out of his wages. But year
in, year out, the farmer who knows his business and sticks to it can
and does make money, improve his property, and see his position grow
safer and his anxieties less. Good farmers can make profits quite apart
from the very considerable increment which comes to the value of land
as population spreads. Whatever may be said of this rise in price as
a matter of public policy, it fills the pockets of individuals in a
manner highly satisfactory to many of the present generation.

[Illustration: NELSON]

One of the most cheerful features in New Zealand country life, perhaps,
is the extent to which those who own the land are taking root in the
soil. Far the greater part of the settled country is in the hands of
men and families who live on the land, and may go on living there as
long as they please; no one can oust them. They are either freeholders,
or tenants of the State or public bodies. Such tenants hold their lands
on terms so easy that their position as working farmers is as good as
or better than that of freeholders. As prospective sellers of land they
may not be so well placed; but that is another story. Anyway, rural New
Zealand is becoming filled with capable independent farmers, with farms
of all sizes from the estate of four thousand or five thousand acres to
the peasant holding of fifty or one hundred. Colonists still think in
large areas when they define the degrees of land-holding and ownership.

[Illustration: ON THE BEACH AT NGUNGURU]

And here a New Zealander, endeavouring to make a general sketch that
may place realities clearly before the English eye, is confronted
with the difficulty, almost impossibility, of helping the European
to conceive a thinly peopled territory. Suppose, for a moment, what
the British Islands would be like if they were populated on the New
Zealand scale--that is to say, if they held about a million souls, of
whom fifty thousand were brown and the rest white. The brown would
be English-speaking and half civilised, and the whites just workaday
Britons of the middle and labouring classes, better fed, a little
taller and rather more tanned by sun and wind. That at first sight
does not seem to imply any revolutionary change. But imagine yourself
standing on the deck of a steamer running up the English Channel past
the coast as it would look if nineteen-twentieths of the British
population, and all traces of them and the historic past of their
country, had been swept away. The cliff edges of Cornwall and hills
of Devon would be covered with thick forest, and perhaps a few people
might cluster round single piers in sheltered inlets like Falmouth
and Plymouth. The Chalk Downs of Wiltshire and Hampshire would be held
by a score or two of sheep-farmers, tenants of the Crown, running
their flocks over enormous areas of scanty grass. Fertile strips like
the vale of Blackmore would be occupied by independent farmers with
from three hundred to two thousand acres of grass and crops round
their homesteads. Southampton would be the largest town in the British
Islands, a flourishing and busy seaport, containing with its suburbs
not less than 90,000 people. Its inhabitants would proudly point to
the railway system, of which they were the terminus, and by which they
were connected with Liverpool, the second city of the United Kingdom,
holding with Birkenhead about 70,000 souls. Journeying from Southampton
to Liverpool on a single line of rails, the traveller would note a
comfortable race of small farmers established in the valley of the
Thames, and would hear of similar conditions about the Wye and the
Severn. But he would be struck by the almost empty look of the wide
pastoral stretches in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and would find axemen
struggling with Nature in the forest of Arden, where dense thickets
would still cover the whole of Warwickshire and spread over into the
neighbouring counties. Arrived at Liverpool after a twelve hours’
journey, he might wish to visit Dublin or Glasgow, the only two other
considerable towns in the British Islands; the one about as large as
York now is, the other the size of Northampton. He would be informed
by the Government tourist agent in Liverpool that his easiest way to
Glasgow would be by sea to a landing-place in the Solway Firth, where
he would find the southern terminus of the Scotch railways. He would
discover that England and Scotland were not yet linked by rail, though
that great step in progress was confidently looked for within a few
months.

[Illustration: AT THE FOOT OF LAKE TE-ANAU]

By all this I do not mean to suggest that there are no spots in
New Zealand where the modern side of rural English life is already
closely reproduced. On an earlier page I have said that there are. Our
country life differs widely as you pass from district to district,
and is marked by as much variety as is almost everything else in the
islands. On the east coast of the South Island, between Southland
and the Kaikouras, mixed farming is scientifically carried on with
no small expenditure of skill and capital. The same can be said of
certain districts on the west coast of the Wellington Province, and in
the province of Hawkes Bay, within a moderate distance of the town of
Napier. Elsewhere, with certain exceptions, farming is of a rougher
and more primitive-looking sort than anything seen in the mother
country, though it does not follow that a comparatively rough, unkempt
appearance denotes lack of skill or agricultural knowledge. It may
mean, and usually does mean, that the land is in the earlier stages of
settlement, and that the holders have not yet had time to think much
of appearances. Then outside the class of small or middle-sized farms
come the large holdings of the islands, which are like nothing at all
in the United Kingdom. They are of two kinds, freehold and Crown
lands held under pastoral licences. Generally speaking, the freeholds
are much the more valuable, have much more arable land, and will, in
days to come, carry many more people. The pastoral Crown tenants have,
by the pressure of land laws and the demands of settlement, been more
and more restricted to the wilder and more barren areas of the islands.
They still hold more than ten million acres; but this country chiefly
lies in the mountainous interior, covering steep faces where the plough
will never go, and narrow terraces and cold, stony valleys where the
snow lies deep in winter.

On these sheep stations life changes more slowly than elsewhere. If you
wish to form an idea of what pastoral life “up-country” was forty years
ago, you can still do so by spending a month or two at one of these
mountain homesteads. There you may possibly have the owner and the
owner’s family for society, but are rather more likely to be yourself
furnishing a solitary manager with not unwelcome company. Round about
the homestead you will still see the traditional features of colonial
station life, the long wool-shed with high-pitched roof of shingles
or corrugated iron, and the sheep-yards which, to the eye of the new
chum, seem such an unmeaning labyrinth. Not far off will stand the
men’s huts, a little larger than of yore, and more likely nowadays to
be frame cottages than to be slab whares with the sleeping-bunks and
low, wide chimneys of days gone by. In out-of-the-way spots the station
store may still occasionally be found, with its atmosphere made
odorous by hob-nailed boots, moleskin trousers, brown sugar, flannel
shirts, tea, tar, and black tobacco. For the Truck Act does not apply
to sheep stations, and there are still places far enough away from a
township to make the station store a convenience to the men.

[Illustration: THE WAIKATO AT NGARUAWAHIA]

At such places the homestead is still probably nothing more than a
modest cottage, roomy, but built of wood, and owing any attractiveness
it has to its broad verandah, perhaps festooned with creepers, and
to the garden and orchard which are now seldom absent. In the last
generation the harder and coarser specimens of the pioneers often
affected to hold gardens and garden-stuffs cheap, and to despise
planting and adornment of any kind, summing them up as “fancy work.”
This was not always mere stinginess or brute indifference to everything
that did not directly pay, though it sometimes was. There can be no
doubt that absentee owners or mortgagee companies were often mean
enough in these things. But the spirit that grudged every hour of
labour bestowed on anything except the raising of wool, mutton, or
corn, was often the outcome of nothing worse than absorption in a
ceaseless and unsparing battle with Nature and the fluctuations of
markets. The first generation of settlers had to wrestle hard to keep
their foothold; and, naturally, the men who usually survived through
bad times were those who concentrated themselves most intensely on
the struggle for success and existence. But time mellows everything.
The struggle for life has still to be sustained in New Zealand. It
is easier than of yore, however; and the continued prosperity of the
last twelve or thirteen years has enabled settlers to bestow thought
and money on the lighter and pleasanter side. Homesteads are brighter
places than they were: they may not be artistic, but even the most
remote are nearly always comfortable. More than comfort the working
settler does not ask for.

Then in estimating how far New Zealand country life may be enjoyable
and satisfying we must remember that it is mainly a life out of
doors. On farms and stations of all sorts and sizes the men spend
many hours daily in the open, sometimes near the homestead, sometimes
miles away from it. To them, therefore, climate is of more importance
than room-space, and sunshine than furniture. If we except a handful
of mountaineers, the country worker in New Zealand is either never
snowbound at all, or, at the worst, is hampered by a snowstorm once
a year. Many showery days there are, and now and again the bursts of
wind and rain are wild enough to force ploughmen to quit work, or
shepherds to seek cover; but apart from a few tempests there is nothing
to keep country-folk indoors. It is never either too hot or too cold
for out-door work, while for at least one day in three in an average
year it is a positive pleasure to breathe the air and live under the
pleasant skies.

The contrast between the station of the back-ranges and the country
place of the wealthy freeholder is the contrast between the first
generation of colonial life and the third. The lord of 40,000 acres
may be a rural settler or a rich man with interests in town as well as
country. In either case his house is something far more costly than
the old wooden bungalow. It is defended by plantations and approached
by a curving carriage drive. When the proprietor arrives at his
front door he is as likely to step out of a motor-car as to dismount
from horseback. Within, you may find an airy billiard-room; without,
smooth-shaven tennis lawns, and perhaps a bowling-green. The family
and their guests wear evening dress at dinner, where the wine will
be expensive and may even be good. In the smoking-room, cigars have
displaced the briar-root pipes of our fathers. The stables are higher
and more spacious than were the dwellings of the men of the early
days. Neat grooms and trained gardeners are seen in the place of the
“rouse-abouts” of yore. Dip and wool-shed are discreetly hidden from
view; and a conservatory rises where meat once hung on the gallows.

For a colony whose days are not threescore years and ten, ours has made
some creditable headway in gardening. The good and bad points of our
climate alike encourage us to cultivate the art. The combination of
an ample rainfall with lavish sunshine helps the gardener’s skill. On
the other hand, the winds--those gales from north-west and south-west,
varied by the teasing persistency of the steadier north-easter,
plague of spring afternoons--make the planting of hedgerows and
shelter clumps an inevitable self-defence. So while, on the one hand,
the colonist hews and burns and drains away the natural vegetation
of forest and swamp, on the other, in the character of planter and
gardener, he does something to make amends. The colours of England and
New Zealand glow side by side in the flowers round his grass plots,
while Australia and North America furnish sombre break-winds, and
contribute some oddities of foliage and a share of colour. In seaside
gardens the Norfolk Island pine takes the place held by the cedar of
Lebanon on English lawns. The mimosa and jackarandah of Australia
persist in flowering in the frosty days of our early spring. On the
verandahs, jessamine and Virginia creeper intertwine with the clematis
and passion-flower of the bush. The palm-lily--insulted with the
nickname of cabbage-tree--is hardy enough to flourish anywhere despite
its semi-tropical look; but the nikau, our true palm, requires shelter
from bitter or violent winds. The toé-toé (a reed with golden plumes),
the glossy native flax (a lily with leaves like the blade of a classic
Roman sword), and two shrubs, the matipo and karaka, are less timid, so
more serviceable. The crimson parrot’s-beak and veronicas--white, pink,
and purple--are easily and commonly grown; and though the manuka does
not rival the English whitethorn in popularity, the pohutu-kawa, most
striking of flowering trees, surpasses the ruddy may and pink chestnut
of the old country. Some English garden-charms cannot be transplanted.
The thick sward and living green of soft lawns, the moss and mellowing
lichens that steal slowly over bark and walls, the quaintness that
belongs to old-fashioned landscape gardening, the venerable aspect of
aged trees,--these cannot be looked for in gardens the eldest of which
scarcely count half a century. But a climate in which arum lilies run
wild in the hedgerows, and in which bougainvilleas, camellias, azaleas,
oleanders, and even (in the north) the stephanotis, bloom in the open
air, gives to skill great opportunities. Then the lover of ferns--and
they have many lovers in New Zealand--has there a whole realm to call
his own. Not that every fern will grow in every garden. Among distinct
varieties numbering scores, there are many that naturally cling to the
peace and moisture of deep gullies and overshadowing jungle. There,
indeed, is found a wealth of them--ferns with trunks as thick as trees,
and ferns with fronds as fine as hair or as delicate as lace; and there
are filmy ferns, and such as cling to and twine round their greater
brethren, and pendant ferns that droop from crevices and drape the
faces of cliffs. To these add ferns that climb aloft as parasites on
branches and among foliage, or that creep upon the ground, after the
manner of lycopodium, or coat fallen forest trees like mosses. The
tree-ferns are large enough to be hewn down with axes, and to spread
their fronds as wide as the state umbrellas of Asiatic kings. Thirty
feet is no uncommon span for the shade they cast, and their height
has been known to reach fifty feet. They are to other ferns as the
wandering albatross is to lesser sea-birds. The black-trunked
are the tallest, while the silver-fronded, whose wings seem as though
frosted on the underside, are the most beautiful. In places they stand
together in dense groves. Attempt to penetrate these and you find a
dusky entanglement where your feet sink into tinder and dead, brown
litter. But look down upon a grove from above, and your eyes view a
canopy of green intricacies, a waving covering of soft, wing-like
fronds, and fresh, curving plumes.

[Illustration: TREE FERNS]

The change in country life now going on so rapidly has not meant merely
more comfort for the employer: the position of the men also has altered
for the better. While the land-owner’s house and surroundings show a
measure of refinement, and even something that may at the other end
of the earth pass for luxury, the station hands are far better cared
for than was the case a generation or two ago. The interior of the
“men’s huts” no longer reminds you of the foc’sle of a merchantship.
Seek out the men’s quarters on one of the better managed estates, and
it may easily happen that you will now find a substantial, well-built
cottage with a broad verandah round two sides. Inside you are shown a
commodious dining-room, and a reading-room supplied with newspapers and
even books. To each man is assigned a separate bedroom, clean and airy,
and a big bathroom is supplemented by decent lavatory arrangements.
The food was always abundant--in the roughest days the estate owners
never grudged their men plenty of “tucker.” But it is now much more
varied and better cooked, and therefore wholesome. To some extent this
improvement in the country labourer’s lot is due to legal enactment and
government inspection. But it is only fair to say that in some of the
most notable instances it comes from spontaneous action by employers
themselves. New Zealand has developed a public conscience during the
last twenty years in matters relating to the treatment of labour, and
by this development the country employers have been touched as much as
any section of the community. They were never an unkindly race, and it
may now be fairly claimed that they compare favourably with any similar
class of employers within the Empire.

At the other end of the rural scale to the establishment of the great
land-owner we see the home of the bush settler--the pioneer of to-day.
Perhaps the Crown has leased a block of virgin forest to him; perhaps
he is one of the tenants of a Maori tribe, holding on a twenty-one
or forty-two years’ lease; perhaps he has contrived to pick up a
freehold in the rough. At any rate he and his mate are on the ground
armed with saw and axe for their long attack upon Nature; and as you
note the muscles of their bared arms, and the swell of the chests
expanding under their light singlets, you are quite ready to believe
that Nature will come out of the contest in a damaged condition. It is
their business to hack and grub, hew and burn, blacken and deface. The
sooner they can set the fire running through tracts of fern or piles
of felled bush the sooner will they be able to scatter broadcast the
contents of certain bags of grass seed now carefully stowed away in
their shanty under cover of tarpaulins. Sworn enemies are they of tall
bracken and stately pines. To their eyes nothing can equal in beauty
a landscape of black, fire-scorched stumps and charred logs--if only
on the soil between these they may behold the green shoots of young
grass thrusting ten million blades upward. What matter the ugliness and
wreckage of the first stages of settlement, if, after many years, a
tidy farm and smiling homestead are to be the outcome? In the meantime,
while under-scrubbing and bush-felling are going on, the axemen build
for themselves a slab hut with shingled roof. The furniture probably
exemplifies the great art of “doing without.” The legs of their table
are posts driven into the clay floor: to other posts are nailed the
sacking on which their blankets are spread. A couple of sea chests
hold their clothes and odds and ends. A sheepskin or two do duty for
rugs. Tallow candles, or maybe kerosene, furnish light. A very few
well-thumbed books, and a pack or two of more than well-thumbed cards,
provide amusement. Not that there are many hours in the week for
amusement. When cooking is done, washing and mending have to be taken
in hand. Flannel and blue dungaree require washing after a while, and
even garments of canvas and moleskin must be repaired sooner or later.
A camp oven, a frying-pan, and a big teapot form the front rank of
their cooking utensils, and fuel, at least, is abundant. Baking-powder
helps them to make bread. Bush pork, wild birds, and fish may vary a
diet in which mutton and sardines figure monotonously. After a while
a few vegetables are grown behind the hut, and the settlers find time
to milk a cow. Soon afterwards, perhaps, occurs the chief event of
pioneer life--the coming of a wife on to the scene. With her arrival
is the beginning of a civilised life indoors, though her earlier years
as a housekeeper may be an era of odd shifts and desperate expedients.
A bush household is lucky if it is near enough to a metalled road to
enable stores to be brought within fairly easy reach. More probably
such necessaries as flour, groceries, tools, and grass seed--anything,
in short, from a grindstone to a bag of sugar--have to be brought by
pack-horse along a bush-track where road-metal is an unattainable
luxury, and which may not unfairly be described as a succession of
mud-holes divided by logs. Along such a thoroughfare many a rain-soaked
pioneer has guided in days past the mud-plastered pack-horse which
has carried the first beginnings of his fortunes. For what sustains
the average settler through the early struggles of pioneering in the
wilderness is chiefly the example of those who have done the same
thing before, have lived as hard a life or harder, and have emerged as
substantial farmers and leading settlers, respected throughout their
district. Success has crowned the achievement so many thousand times
in the past that the back-country settler of to-day, as he fells his
bush and toils along his muddy track, may well be sustained by hope
and by visions of macadamised coach roads running past well-grassed,
well-stocked sheep or dairy farms in days to come.

[Illustration: A MAORI VILLAGE]

Predominant as the white man is in New Zealand, the brown man is too
interesting and important to be forgotten even in a rough and hasty
sketch. The Maori do not dwell in towns: they are an element of our
country life. They now number no more than a twentieth of our people;
but whereas a generation ago they were regarded as a doomed race,
whose end, perhaps, was not very far distant, their disappearance
is now regarded as by no means certain. I doubt, indeed, whether it
is even probable. Until the end of the nineteenth century official
returns appeared to show that the race was steadily and indeed rapidly
diminishing. More recent and more accurate figures, however, seem
to prove either that the Maori have regained vitality, or that past
estimates of their numbers were too low. I am inclined to think that
the explanation is found in both these reasons. In past decades our
Census officers never claimed to be able to reckon the strength of the
Maori with absolute accuracy, chiefly because the Natives would give
them little or no help in their work. It is not quite so difficult
now as formerly to enumerate the members of the tribes. Furthermore,
there is reason to hope that the health of the race is improving and
that its spirit is reviving. The first shock with our civilisation and
our overwhelming strength is over. The Maori, beaten in war with us,
were not disgraced: though their defeat disheartened them, it did not
lead their conquerors to despise them. Again, though they have been
deprived of some of their land, and have sold a great part of the rest,
the tribes are still great landlords. They hold the fee-simple of
nearly seven million acres of land, much of it fertile. This is a large
estate for about fifty thousand men, women, and children. Moreover,
it is a valuable estate. I daresay its selling price might be rated
at a higher figure than the value of the whole of New Zealand when we
annexed it. Some of this great property is leased to white tenants;
most of it is still retained by the native tribes. So long as they can
continue to hold land on a considerable scale they will always have
a chance, and may be sure of respectful treatment. At the worst they
have had, and still have, three powerful allies. The Government of the
colony may sometimes have erred against them, but in the main it has
stood between them and the baser and greedier sort of whites. Maori
children are educated free of cost. Most of them can now at least read
and write English. Quite as useful is the work of the Department of
Public Health. If I am not mistaken, it has been the main cause of the
lowered Maori death-rate of the last ten years. Then the clergy of
more than one Church have always been the Maori’s friends. Weak--too
weak--as their hands have been, their voices have been raised again and
again on the native’s behalf. Thirdly, the leaders of the temperance
movement--one of the most powerful influences in our public life--have
done all they can to save the Maori of the interior from the curse
of drink. Allies, then, have been fighting for the Maori. Moreover,
they are citizens with a vote at the polls and a voice in Parliament.
Were one political party disposed to bully the natives, the other
might be tempted to befriend them. But the better sort of white has no
desire to bully. He may not admit that the brown man is socially his
equal; but there is neither hatred nor loathing between the races.

[Illustration: A PATAKA]

In a word, the outlook for the Maori, though still doubtful, is by no
means desperate. They will own land; they will collect substantial
rents from white tenants; they will be educated; they will retain the
franchise. At last they are beginning to learn the laws of sanitation
and the uses of ventilation and hospitals. The doctors of the Health
Department have persuaded them to pull down hundreds of dirty old huts,
are caring for their infants, and are awaking a wholesome distrust of
the trickeries of those mischievous conjuror-quacks, the _tohungas_.
Some of these good physicians--Dr. Pomaré, for instance--are themselves
Maori. More of his stamp are wanted; also more Maori lawyers like
Mr. Apirana Ngata, M.P. Much will turn upon the ability of the race
to master co-operative farming. That there is hope of this is shown
by the success of the Ngatiporou tribesmen, who in recent years
have cleared and sown sixty thousand acres of land, and now own
eighty-three thousand sheep, more than three thousand cattle, and more
than eight thousand pigs. Only let the sanitary lesson be learned and
the industrial problem solved, and the qualities of the Maori may be
trusted to do the rest. Their muscular strength and courage, their
courtesy and vein of humour, their poetic power and artistic sense,
are gifts that make it desirable that the race should survive and win a
permanent place among civilised men.

       *       *       *       *       *

Watching the tendencies of New Zealand life and laws to-day, one
is tempted to look ahead and think of what country life in the
islands may become in a generation or so, soon after the colony has
celebrated its hundredth anniversary. It should be a pleasant life,
even pleasanter than that of our own time; for more gaps will have
been filled up and more angles rubbed off. Limiting laws and graduated
taxes will have made an end of the great estates: a land-owner with
more than £120,000 of real property will probably be unknown. Many
land-owners will be richer than that, but it will be because a part
of their money is invested in personalty. But in peacefully making an
end of _latifundia_ the law-makers will not have succeeded--even if
that were their design--in handing over the land to peasants: there
will be no sweeping revolution. Much of the soil will still be held
by large and substantial farmers,--eight or ten thousand in number,
perhaps,--educated men married to wives of some culture and refinement.
The process of subdivision will have swelled the numbers and increased
the influence of land-holders. The unpopularity which attached
itself to the enormous estates will pass away with them. Some of the
farming gentlemen of the future will be descendants of members of the
English upper and upper-middle classes. Others will be the grandsons
of hard-headed Scotch shepherds, English rural labourers, small
tenants, or successful men of commerce. Whatever their origin, however,
education, intermarriage, and common habits of life will tend to level
them into a homogeneous class. Dressed in tweed suits, wide-awake hats,
and gaiters, riding good horses or driving in powerful motors, and with
their alert, bony faces browned and reddened by sun and wind, they will
look and will be a healthy, self-confident, intelligent race. Despite
overmuch tea and tobacco, their nerves will seldom be highly strung;
the blessed sunshine and the air of the sea and the mountains will
save them from that. Moreover, colonial cookery will be better than
it has been, and diet more varied. Nor will our farmers trouble the
doctors much or poison themselves with patent drugs. Owning anything
from half a square mile to six or seven square miles of land, they
will be immensely proud of their stake in the country and cheerfully
convinced of their value as the backbone of the community. They will
not be a vicious lot; early marriage and life in the open air will
prevent that. Nor will drunkenness be fashionable, though there will be
gambling and probably far too much horse-racing. Varying in size from
three or four hundred to four or five thousand acres, their properties,
with stock and improvements, may be worth anything from five or six
thousand to seventy or eighty thousand pounds, but amongst themselves
the smaller and larger owners will meet on terms of easy equality. They
will gradually form an educated rural gentry with which the wealthier
townspeople will be very proud and eager to mix. A few of them, whose
land is rich, may lease it out in small allotments, and try to become
squires on a modified English pattern. But most of them will work their
land themselves, living on it, riding over it daily, directing their
men, and, if need be, lending a hand themselves. That will be their
salvation, bringing them as it will into daily contact with practical
things and working humanity. Conservative, of course, they will be,
and in theory opposed to Socialism, yet assenting from time to time
to Socialistic measures when persuaded of their immediate usefulness.
Thus they will keep a keen eye on the State railways, steamships, and
Department of Agriculture, and develop the machinery of these in their
own interests. A few of the richer of them from time to time may find
that life in Europe so pleases them--or their wives--that they will
sell out and cut adrift from the colony; but there will be no class of
absentee owners--growling, heavily taxed, and unpopular. Our working
gentlemen will stick to the country, and will be hotly, sometimes
boisterously, patriotic, however much they may at moments abuse
governments and labour laws. Most of them will be freeholders. Allied
with them will be State pastoral tenants--holding smaller runs than
now--to be found in the mountains, on the pumice plateau, or where the
clay is hungry. Socially these tenants will be indistinguishable from
the freeholders.

Solitude will be a thing of the past; for roads will be excellent,
motors common, and every homestead will have its telephone. And just as
kerosene lamps and wax candles superseded the tallow dips of the early
settlers, so in turn will electric light reign, not here and there
merely, but almost everywhere. Their main recreations will be shooting,
fishing, motor-driving, riding, and sailing; for games--save polo--and
pure athletics will be left to boys and to men placed lower in the
social scale. They will read books, but are scarcely likely to care
much about art, classing painting and music rather with such things as
wood-carving and embroidery--as women’s work, something for men to look
at rather than produce. But they will be gardeners, and their wives
will pay the arts a certain homage. The furniture of their houses may
seem scanty in European eyes, but will not lack a simple elegance. In
their gardens, however, those of them who have money to spare will
spend more freely, and on brightening these with colour and sheltering
them with soft masses of foliage no mean amount of taste and skill
will be lavished. These gardens will be the scenes of much of the most
enjoyable social intercourse to be had in the country. Perhaps--who
knows?--some painter, happy in a share of Watteau’s light grace or
Fragonard’s eye for decorative effect in foliage, may find in the New
Zealand garden festivals, with their music, converse, and games, and
their framework of beauty, subjects worthy of art.

[Illustration: COROMANDEL]

Socially and financially beneath these country gentlemen, though
politically their equals, and in intelligence often not inferior to
them, will come the more numerous, rougher and poorer races of small
farmers and country labourers. Here will be seen harder lives and
a heavier physique--men whose thews and sinews will make Imperial
recruiting officers sigh wistfully. Holding anything from twenty or
thirty up to two or three hundred acres, the small farmers will have
their times of stress and anxiety, when they will be hard put to it
to weather a bad season combined with low prices. But their practical
skill, strength, and industry, and their ability, at a pinch, to do
without all but bare necessaries, will usually pull them through.
Moreover, they too will be educated, and no mere race of dull-witted
boors. At the worst they will always be able to take to wage-earning
for a time, and the smaller of them will commonly pass part of each
year in working for others. Sometimes their sons will be labourers,
and members of trade unions, and this close contact with organised
labour and Socialism will have curious political results. As a class
they will be much courted by politicians, and will distrust the rich,
especially the rich of the towns. Their main and growing grievance will
be the difficulty of putting their sons on the land. For themselves
they will be able to live cheaply, and in good years save money; for
customs tariffs will be more and more modified to suit them. Some of
their children will migrate to the towns; others will become managers,
overseers, shepherds, drovers. They will have their share of sport, and
from among them will come most of the best athletes of the country,
professional and other. Nowhere will be seen a cringing tenantry,
hat-touching peasantry, or underfed farm labourers. The country
labourers, thoroughly organised, well paid, and active, will yet be not
altogether ill-humoured in politics; for, by comparison with the lot of
their class in other parts of the world, theirs will be a life of hope,
comfort, and confidence.



CHAPTER III

SPORT AND ATHLETICS


Sport in the islands resembles their climate and scenery. To name the
distinguishing feature I have once more to employ the well-worn word,
variety. Even if we limit the term to the pursuit of game, there is
enough of that to enable an idle man to pass his time all the year
round. In the autumn there is deer-shooting of the best, and in the
early winter the sportsman may turn to wild ducks and swamp-hen. Then
wild goats have begun to infest certain high ranges, especially the
backbone of the province of Wellington and the mountains in central
Otago. In stalking them the hunter may have to exhibit no small share
of the coolness of head and stoutness of limb which are brought to
play in Europe in the chase of the chamois, ibex, and moufflon. In
addition to sureness of foot, the goats have already developed an
activity and cunning unknown to their tame ancestors. They will lie or
stand motionless and unnoticed among the bewildering rocks, letting
the stalker seek for them in vain; and when roused they bound away at
a speed that is no mean test of rifle-shooting, particularly when the
marksman is hot and panting with fatigue. And when brought to a stand
against rocks, or among the roots of mountain beeches, or on the stones
of a river-bed, they will show fight and charge dogs and even men. The
twisted or wrinkled horns of an old he-goat are not despicable weapons.
As the reward of many hours’ hard clambering, varied by wading through
ice-cold torrents, and spiced, it may be, with some danger, the goat
hunter may secure a long pair of curving horns, or in mid-winter a
thick, warm pelt, sometimes, though rarely, pure white. Moreover, he
may feel that he is ridding the mountain pastures of an unlicensed
competitor of that sacred quadruped, the sheep. Goats are by no means
welcome on sheep-runs. Colonel Craddock, it is true, complains that it
is not easy to regard them as wild, inasmuch as their coats retain the
familiar colours of the domestic animals. He wishes they would change
to some distinctive hue. This feeling is perhaps akin to the soldier’s
dislike to shooting at men who retain the plain clothes of civilians
instead of donning uniform--a repugnance experienced now and then by
some of our fighting men in South Africa.

Rabbits, of course, as a national scourge, are to be shot at any time,
and though on the whole now held in check, are in some districts still
only too abundant. Occasionally when elaborate plans are being laid
for poisoning a tract of infested country, the owner of the land may
wish no interference, and the man with a gun may be warned off as a
disturber of a peace intended to lull the rabbit into security. But,
speaking generally, any one who wishes to shoot these vermin may find
country where he can do so to his heart’s content, and pose the while
as a public benefactor.

The largest game in the colony are the wild cattle. These, like the
goats and pigs, are descendants of tame and respectable farm animals.
On many mountain sheep-runs, annual cattle hunts are organised to
thin their numbers, for the young bulls become dangerous to lonely
shepherds and musterers, and do great damage to fences. Moreover, the
wild herds eat their full share of grass, as their fat condition when
shot often shows. Generations of life in the hills, fern, and bush
have had their effect on runaway breeds. The pigs especially have
put on an almost aristocratic air of lean savagery. Their heads and
flanks are thinner, their shoulders higher and more muscular, their
tusks have become formidable, and their nimbleness on steep hill-sides
almost astonishing. A quick dog, or even an athletic man on foot, may
keep pace with a boar on the upward track; but when going headlong
downhill the pig leaves everything behind. The ivory tusks of an old
boar will protrude three or four inches from his jaw, and woe to the
dog or horse that feels their razor-edge and cruel sidelong rip. The
hide, too, has become inches thick in places, where it would, I should
think, be insensible to a hot branding iron. At any rate, the spear
or sheath knife that is to pierce it must be held in clever as well
as strong hands. Even a rifle-bullet, if striking obliquely, will
glance off from the shield on the shoulder of a tough old boar. Wild
pigs are among the sheep-farmer’s enemies. Boars and sows alike prey
on his young lambs in spring-time, and every year do thousands of
pounds’ worth of mischief in certain out-of-the-way country. So here
again the sportsman may plume himself upon making war upon a public
nuisance. In bygone days these destructive brutes could be found in
numbers prowling over open grassy downs, where riders could chase them
spear in hand, and where sheep-dogs could bring them to bay. They were
killed without exception or mercy for age or sex; and the spectacle of
pigs a few weeks old being speared or knifed along with their mothers
was not exhilarating. But they were pests, and contracts were often let
for clearing a certain piece of country of them. As evidence of their
slaughter the contractors had to bring in their long, tufted tails.
These the station manager counted with care, for the contract money
was at the rate of so much a tail. I have known ninepence to be the
reigning price. Nowadays, however, the pigs are chiefly to be found
in remote forests, dense manuka scrub, or tall bracken, and if caught
in the open it is when they have stolen out by moonlight on a raid
upon lambs. The thick fern not only affords them cover but food: “the
wild boar out of the wood doth root it up,” and finds in it a clean,
sweet diet. Many a combat at close quarters takes place every year
in the North Island, in fern from three to six feet high, when some
avenging farmer makes an end of the ravager of his flocks. Numbers
of the pigs are shot; but shooting, though a practical way of ridding
a countryside of them, lacks, of course, the excitement and spice of
danger that belong to the chase on foot with heavy knife or straight
short sword. Here the hunter trusts both for success and safety to his
dogs, who, when cunning and well-trained, will catch a boar by the ears
and hold him till he has been stabbed. Ordinary sheep-dogs will not
often do this; a cattle-dog, or a strong mongrel with a dash of mastiff
or bulldog, is less likely to be shaken off. Good collies, moreover,
are valuable animals. Not that sheep-dogs fail in eagerness for the
chase; they will often stray off to track pigs on their own account.
And any one who has seen and heard them when the boar, brought to bay
against some tree trunk, rock, or high bank, makes short mad rushes at
his tormentors, will understand how fully the average dog shares the
hunter’s zest.

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL PEAKS]

Another though much rarer plague to the flock-owner are the wild
dogs. These also prey by night and lie close by day, and if they were
numerous the lot of farmers near rough, unoccupied stretches of country
would be anxious indeed; for the wild dogs not only kill enough for a
meal, but go on worrying and tearing sheep, either for their blood, or
for the excitement and pleasure of killing. When three or four of them
form a small pack and hunt together, the damage they can do in a few
nights is such that the persecuted farmer counts the cost in ten-pound
notes. They are often too fast and savage to be stopped by a shepherd’s
dogs, and accurate rifle-shooting by moonlight--to say nothing of
moonless nights--is not the easiest of accomplishments. Failing a lucky
shot, poison is perhaps the most efficacious remedy. Happily these
dogs--which are not sprung from the fat, harmless little native curs
which the Maori once used to fondle and eat--are almost confined to a
few remote tracts. Any notorious pack soon gets short shrift, so there
need be no fear of any distinct race of wild hounds establishing itself
in the wilderness.

Another _hostis humani generis_, against which every man’s hand or
gun may be turned at any season, is the kea. A wild parrot, known to
science as _Nestor notabilis_, the kea nevertheless shows how fierce
and hawk-like a parrot can become. His sharp, curving beak, and
dark-green plumage, brightened by patches of red under the wings, are
parrot-like enough. But see him in his home among the High Alps of the
South Island, and he resembles anything rather than the grey African
domestic who talks in cages. Nor does he suggest the white cockatoos
that may be watched passing in flights above rivers and forest glades
in the Australian bush. Unlike his cousin the kaka, who is a forest
bird, the kea nests on steep rocky faces or lofty cliffs, between two
and five thousand feet above sea-level. If he descends thence to visit
the trees of the mountain valleys, it is usually in search of food;
though Thomas Potts, the naturalist, says that keas will fly from the
western flanks of the Alps to the bluffs on the sea-coast and rest
there. One envies them that flight, for it must give them in mid-air
an unequalled bird’s-eye view of some of the noblest scenery in the
island. Before the coming of the settlers these bold mountaineers
supported a harmless life on honey, seeds, insects, and such apologies
for fruits as our sub-alpine forests afford. But as sheep spread
into the higher pastures of the backbone ranges, the kea discovered
the attractions of flesh, and especially of mutton fat. Beginning,
probably, by picking up scraps of meat in the station slaughter-yards,
he learned to prey on dead sheep, and, finally, to attack living
animals. His favourite titbit being kidney fat, he perches on the
unhappy sheep and thrusts his merciless beak through the wool into
their backs. Strangely enough, it seems to take more than one assault
of the kind to kill a sheep; but though forty years have passed since
the kea began to practise his trick, the victims do not yet seem to
have learned to roll over on their backs and thereby rid themselves of
their persecutors. Even the light active sheep of the mountains are,
it would seem, more stupid than birds of prey. Ingenious persons have
suggested that the kea was led to peck at the sheep’s fleecy backs
through their likeness to those odd grey masses of mossy vegetation,
called “vegetable sheep,” which dot so many New Zealand mountain
slopes, and which birds investigate in search of insects.

[Illustration: THE REES VALLEY AND RICHARDSON RANGE]

Shepherds and station hands wage war on the kea, sometimes encouraged
thereto by a bounty; for there are run-holders and local councils who
will give one, two, or three shillings for each bird killed. Let a pair
of keas be seen near a shepherd’s hut, and the master runs for
his gun, while his wife will imitate the bird’s long whining note to
attract them downwards; for, venturesome and rapacious as the kea is,
he is just as confiding and sociable as the gentler kaka, and can be
lured by the same devices. Stoats and weasels, too, harass him on their
own account. Thus the bird’s numbers are kept down, and the damage they
do to flocks is not on the whole as great as of yore. Indeed, some
sceptics doubt the whole story, while other flippant persons suggest
that the kea’s ravages are chiefly in evidence when the Government
is about to re-assess the rents of the Alpine runs. Against these
sneers, however, may be quoted a large, indeed overwhelming, mass of
testimony from the pastoral people of the back-country. This evidence
seems to show that most keas do not molest sheep. The evil work is done
by a few reprobate birds--two or three pairs out of a large flock,
perhaps--which the shepherds nickname “butchers.” Only this year I was
told of a flock of hoggets which, when penned up in a sheep-yard, were
attacked by a couple of beaked marauders, who in a single night killed
or wounded scores of them as they stood packed together and helpless.
No laws, therefore, protect the kea, nor does any public opinion shield
him from the gun in any month. His only defences are inaccessible
mountain cliffs and the wild weather of winter and spring-time in the
Southern Alps.

Acclimatisation has made some woeful mistakes in New Zealand, for is
it not responsible for the rabbit and the house-sparrow, the stoat
and the weasel? On the other hand, it has many striking successes to
boast of in the shape of birds, beasts, and fishes, which commerce and
industry would never have brought to the islands in the regular way of
business. Of these, one may select the deer among beasts, the trout
among fishes, and the pheasant, quail, and starling among birds. Many
colonists, it is true, would include skylarks, blackbirds, and thrushes
among the good works for which acclimatising societies have to be
thanked; but of late years these songsters have been compassed about
with a great cloud of hostile witnesses who bear vehement testimony
against them as pestilent thieves. No such complaints, however, are
made against the red-deer, the handsomest wild animals yet introduced
into New Zealand. Indeed, several provinces compete for the honour
of having been their first New Zealand home. As a matter of fact, it
would appear that as long ago as 1861 a stag and two hinds, the gift
of Lord Petre, were turned out on the Nelson hills. Next year another
small shipment reached Wellington safely, and were liberated in the
Wairarapa. These came from the Royal Park at Windsor, and were secured
by the courtesy of the Prince Consort.

In 1871 some Scottish red-deer were turned loose in the Otago mountains
near Lakes Wanaka and Hawea. In all these districts the deer have
spread and thriven mightily, and it is possible that the herds of the
colony now number altogether as many as ten thousand. Otago sportsmen
boast of the unadulterated Scottish blood of their stags, whose fine
heads are certainly worthy of any ancestry. In the Wairarapa the
remarkable size of the deer is attributed to the strain of German blood
in the animals imported from the Royal Park. As yet, however, the
finest head secured in the colony was not carried by a deer belonging
to any of the three largest and best-known shooting-grounds of the
islands. It was obtained in 1907 from a stag shot by Mr. George Gerard
in the Rakaia Gorge in Canterbury. The Rakaia Gorge herd only dates
from 1897, and is still small, but astonishing stories are told of some
of its heads. At any rate the antlers of Mr. Gerard’s stag have been
repeatedly measured. One of them is forty-seven inches long, the other
forty-two inches and a half.

Deer-stalking in New Zealand can scarcely be recommended as an easy
diversion for rich and elderly London gentlemen. It is not sport for
the fat and scant-of-breath who may be suffering from sedentary living
and a plethora of public banquets. New Zealand hills are steep, new
Zealand forests and scrubs are dense or matted. Even the open country
of the mountains requires lungs of leather and sinews of wire. The
hunter when unlucky cannot solace his evenings with gay human society
or with the best cookery to be found in a luxurious, civilised country.
If he be an old bush-hand, skilful at camping-out, he may make himself
fairly comfortable in a rough way, but that is all. Nor are such things
as big drives, or slaughter on a large scale, to be had at any price.
Shooting licences are cheap--they can be had from the secretary of an
acclimatisation society for from one to three pounds; but the number
of stags a man is permitted to shoot in any one district varies from
two to six. To get these, weeks of physical labour and self-denial may
be required. On the other hand, trustworthy guides may be engaged, and
colonial hospitality may vary the rigours of camp life. Then, too,
may be counted the delights of a mountain life, the scenery of which
excels Scotland, while the freshness of the upland air is brilliant and
exhilarating in a fashion that Britons can scarcely imagine. And to
counterbalance loneliness, the hunter has the sensation of undisturbed
independence and freedom from the trammels of convention, as he looks
round him in a true wilderness which the hand of man has not yet gashed
or fouled.

Wild-fowl shooting ranges from tame butchery of trustful native pigeons
and parrots to the pursuit of the nimble godwit, and of that wary
bird and strong flyer, the grey duck. The godwit is so interesting a
bird to science that one almost wonders that ornithologists do not
petition Parliament to have it declared _tapu_. They tell us that in
the Southern winter it migrates oversea and makes no less a journey
than that from New Zealand to Northern Siberia by way of Formosa and
the Sea of Okhotsk. Even if this distance is covered in easy stages
during three months’ time, it seems a great feat of bird instinct, and
makes one regret that the godwit so often returns to our tidal inlets
only to fall a prey to some keen sportsmen indifferent to its migratory
achievements.

The only excuse for molesting the wood-pigeon is that he is very good
to eat. The kaka parrot, too, another woodlander, makes a capital
stew. Neither victim offers the slightest difficulty to the gunner--I
cannot say sportsman. Indeed the kaka will flutter round the slayer
as he stands with his foot on the wing of a wounded bird, a cruel but
effective decoy-trick. Another native bird easy to hit on the wing is
the queer-looking pukeko, a big rail with bright-red beak and rich-blue
plumage. The pukeko, however, though he flies so heavily, can run fast
and hide cleverly. Moreover, in addition to being good for the table,
he is a plague to the owners of standing corn. In order to reach the
half-ripe ears he beats down the tops of a number of stalks, and so
constructs a light platform on which he stands and moves about, looking
like a feathered stilt-walker, and feasting the while to his heart’s
content. Grain-growers, therefore, show him no mercy, and follow him
into his native swamps, where the tall flax bushes, toé-toé, and giant
bulrushes furnish even so large a bird with ample cover. When, however,
a dog puts him up, and he takes to the air, he is the easiest of marks,
for any one capable of hitting a flying haystack can hit a pukeko.

Very different are the wild ducks. They soon learn the fear of man and
the fowling-piece. They are, moreover, carefully protected both by law
and by public opinion among sportsmen. So they are still to be found
in numbers on lakes and lagoons by the sea-coast as well as in the
sequestered interior. Large flocks of them, for example, haunt Lake
Ellesmere, a wide brackish stretch of shallow water not many miles from
the city of Christchurch. But in such localities all the arts of the
English duck-hunter have to be employed, and artificial cover, decoys,
and first-rate markmanship must be brought into play. The grey duck,
the shoveller, and teal, both black and red, all give good sport.
Strong of flight and well defended by thick, close-fitting suits of
feathers, they need quick, straight shooting. A long shot at a scared
grey duck, as, taking the alarm, he makes off down the wind, is no
bad test of eye and hand. In return, they are as excellent game-birds
dead as living. This last is more than can be said for the handsomest
game-bird of the country, the so-called paradise duck. Its plumage, so
oddly contrasting in the dark male and reddish white-headed female,
makes it the most easily recognised of wild-fowl. It also has developed
a well-founded suspiciousness of man and his traps, and so manages
to survive and occupy mountain lakes and valleys in considerable
flocks. Unlike the grey species which are found beyond the Tasman Sea,
the smaller and more delicately framed blue duck is peculiar to the
islands. It is neither shy nor common, and, as it does no harm to any
sort of crop, law and public opinion might, one would think, combine to
save it from the gun and leave it to swim unmolested among the boulders
and rocks of its cold streams and dripping mountain gorges.

Nature did not furnish New Zealand much better with fresh-water fish
than with quadrupeds: her allowance of both was curiously scanty. A
worthless little bull-trout was the most common fish, and that white
men found uneatable, though the Maoris made of it a staple article of
diet. Large eels, indeed, are found in both lakes and rivers, and where
they live in clear, clean, running water, are good food enough; but
the excellent whitebait and smelts which go up the tidal rivers can
scarcely be termed dwellers in fresh water; and for the rest, the fresh
waters used to yield nothing but small crayfish. Here our acclimatisers
had a fair field before them, and their efforts to stock it have been
on the whole successful, though the success has been chequered. For
fifty years they have striven to introduce the salmon, taking much
care and thought, and spending many thousands of pounds on repeated
experiments; but the salmon will not thrive in the southern rivers. The
young, when hatched out and turned adrift, make their way down to the
sea, but never return themselves. Many legends are current of their
misadventures in salt water. They are said, for instance, to be pursued
and devoured by the big barracouta, so well known to deep-sea fishermen
in the southern ocean. But every explanation of the disappearance of
the young salmon still lacks proof. The fact is undoubted, but its
cause may be classed with certain other fishy mysteries of our coast.
Why, for instance, does that delectable creature the frost-fish cast
itself up on our beaches in the coldest weather, committing suicide for
the pleasure of our _gourmets_? Why does that cream-coloured playfellow
of our coasters, Pelorus Jack, dart out to frolic round the bows of
steamships as they run through the French Pass?

[Illustration: AT THE HEAD OF LAKE WAKATIPU]

But if our acclimatisers have failed with salmon, fortune has been kind
to their efforts with trout. Forty years ago there was no such fish
in the islands. Now from north to south the rivers and lakes are well
stocked, while certain waters may be said with literal truth to swarm
with them. Here, they are the brown trout so well known to anglers at
home; there, they are the rainbow kind, equally good for sport. At
present the chief local peculiarity of both breeds seems to be the size
to which they frequently attain. They are large enough in the rivers;
and in many lakes they show a size and weight which could throw into
the shade old English stories of giant pike. Fish of from fifteen to
twenty-five pounds in weight are frequently captured by anglers. Above
the higher of these figures, catches with the rod are rare. Indeed, the
giant trout of the southern lakes will not look at a fly. Perhaps the
best sport in lakes anywhere is to be had with the minnow. Trolling
from steam-launches is a favourite amusement at Roto-rua. It seems
generally agreed that in the rivers trout tend to decrease in size as
they increase in numbers. The size, however, still remains large enough
to make an English angler’s mouth water. So it has come about that
the fame of New Zealand fishing has gone abroad into many lands, and
that men come with rod and line from far and near to try our waters.
Fishing in these is not always child’s play. Most of the streams
are swift and chilling; the wader wants boots of the stoutest, and, in
default of guidance, must trust to his own wits to protect him among
rapids, sharp rocks, and deep swirling pools. He may, of course, obtain
sport in spots where everything is made easy for the visitor, as in
the waters near Roto-rua. Or he may cast a fly in the willow-bordered,
shingly rivers of Canterbury, among fields and hedgerows as orderly and
comfortable-looking as anything in the south of England. But much of
the best fishing in the islands is rougher and more solitary work, and,
big as the baskets to be obtained are, the sport requires enthusiasm
as well as skill. Moreover, rules have to be observed. Licences are
cheap enough, but the acclimatisation societies are wisely despotic,
and regulate many things, from the methods of catching to the privilege
of sale. In the main, the satisfactory results speak for themselves,
though of course a certain amount of poaching and illegal catching
goes on. In certain mountain lakes, by the way, one rule--that against
spearing--has to be relaxed; otherwise the huge trout would prey upon
their small brethren to such an extent as to stop all increase. So
occasionally an exciting night’s sport may be enjoyed from a boat in
one or other of the Alpine lakes. The boatmen prepare a huge torch
of sacking or sugar-bags wound round a pole and saturated with tar
or kerosene. Then the boat is rowed gently into six or eight feet of
water, and the flaring torch held steadily over the surface. Soon the
big trout come swarming to the light, diving under the boat, knocking
against the bow, and leaping and splashing. The spearman standing erect
makes thrust after thrust, now transfixing his prey, now missing his
aim, or it may be, before the night’s work is done, losing his footing
and falling headlong into the lake, amid a roar of laughter from boat
and shore.

[Illustration: NORTH FIORD, LAKE TE-ANAU]

The merest sketch of sports and amusements in New Zealand demands
more space for the horse than I can afford to give. My countrymen are
not, as is sometimes supposed, a nation of riders, any more than they
are a nation of marksmen; but the proportion of men who can shoot and
ride is far greater among them than in older countries. The horse is
still a means of locomotion and a necessity of life everywhere outside
the towns, while even among townsmen a respectable minority of riders
can be found. How far the rapid increase of motors and cycles of all
kinds is likely to displace the horse is a matter for speculation. At
present, perhaps, the machine is more likely to interfere with the
carriage-horse than the saddle-horse. Nor will I hazard an opinion as
to the place that might be held by New Zealanders in a competition
between riding nations. Australians, I fancy, consider their stockmen
and steeplechase-riders superior to anything of the kind in our
islands. And in a certain kind of riding--that through open bush after
cattle, amongst standing and fallen timber--I can scarcely imagine any
horsemen in the world surpassing the best Australian stock-riders.
On the other hand, in a hilly country, and on wet, slippery ground,
New Zealanders and New Zealand horses show cat-like qualities,
which would puzzle Australians, whose experience has been gathered
chiefly on dry plains and easy downs. Comparisons apart, the Dominion
certainly rears clever riders and good horses. A meet of New Zealand
harriers would not be despised even by Leicestershire fox-hunters. To
begin with, the hare of the Antipodes, like so many other European
animals there, has gained in size and strength, and therefore in pace.
The horses, if rather lighter than English, have plenty of speed and
staying-power, and their owners are a hard-riding lot. Gorse fences,
though not, perhaps, so formidable as they look at first sight, afford
stiff jumping. And if a spice of danger be desired, the riders who
put their horses at them may always speculate upon the chances of
encountering hidden wire. The legend that New Zealand horses jump wire
almost as a matter of course has only a foundation of fact; some of
them do, many of them do not. Nor are the somewhat wild stories of
meets where unkempt horses with flowing manes and tails and coats never
touched by brush or curry-comb, are bestridden by riders as untidy, to
be taken for gospel now. Very few of those who follow the harriers in
New Zealand at all resemble dog-fanciers bestriding mustangs. True,
they do not dress in the faultless fashion of those English masters of
fox-hounds whose portraits flame on the walls of the Royal Academy.
Some at least of them do their own grooming. Yet, speaking generally,
the impression left is neat and workmanlike, and is none the worse
for a certain simplicity and even a touch of roughness. The meets
are pleasant gatherings, all the more so because they are neither
overcrowded, nor are there too many of them. Much the same may be said
of the polo matches, where good riding and good ponies are to be seen.
Twenty years ago trained ponies could be bought in the islands for
£25 apiece. Now they, in common with all horseflesh, are a good deal
more costly. However, sport in New Zealand, though more expensive than
of yore, is still comparatively cheap, and that, and the absence of
crowds, are among its chief attractions.

As in other countries, there are tens of thousands of men and women
who never ride a horse, but who find in horse-racing--or in attending
race-meetings--an absorbing amusement. The number of race-meetings
held in both islands is very great. Flat-racing, hurdle-racing,
steeplechasing, and trotting,--all these can assemble their votaries
in thousands. Sportsmen and others think little of traversing hundreds
of miles of land or sea to attend one of the larger meetings. Ladies
muster at these almost as strongly as men. As for the smaller meetings
up-country, they, of course, are social gatherings of the easiest and
most cheerful sort. In bygone years they not seldom degenerated towards
evening into uproarious affairs. Nowadays, however, race-meetings,
small and large, are marked by a sobriety which, to a former
generation, might have seemed wasteful and depressing. To a stranger
the chief features of the races appear to be their number, the size
of the stakes, the average quality of the horses, and the working of
the totalisator. This last, a betting machine, is in use wherever the
law will allow it, and is a source of profit both to the Government
and the racing clubs. The Government taxes its receipts, and the clubs
retain ten per cent of them; hence the handsome stakes offered by the
jockey club committees. The sum that passes through these machines in
the course of the year is enormous, and represents, in the opinion of
many, a national weakness and evil. In defence of the totalisator it
is argued that the individual wagers which it registers are small, and
that it has almost put an end to a more ruinous and disastrous form of
betting, that with bookmakers. It is certainly a popular institution
with an odd flavour of democracy about it, for it has levelled down
betting and at the same time extended it. Indeed, it almost seems to
exhaust the gambling element in New Zealand life; for, as compared with
other nations, my countrymen are not especially addicted to throwing
away their money on games of chance.

Passing from what is commonly called sport to athletic games, we tread
safer ground. One of these games, football, is quite as popular as
horse-racing--indeed, among boys and lads more popular; and whatever
may be its future, football has up to the present time been a clean,
honest, genuine game, free from professionalism and excessive gambling.
The influence of the New Zealand Rugby Union, with its net-work of
federations and clubs, has been and still is a power for good; and
though it is true that the famous and successful visit of the “All
Black” team to Great Britain has lately been parodied by a professional
tour in England and Wales, there is still hope that professionalism
may be held at bay. For, as yet, the passion for football, which is
perhaps the main peculiarity of New Zealand athletics, is a simple
love of the game, and of the struggles and triumphs attending it. The
average New Zealand lad and young man looks for nothing but a good
hard tussle in which his side may win and he, if luck wills it, may
distinguish himself. As yet, money-making scarcely enters into his
thoughts. The day may come in New Zealand, as it has in England, when
bands of skilled mercenaries, recruited from far and near, may play in
the name of cities and districts, the population of which turns out to
bet pounds or pence on their paid dexterity. But, as yet, a football
match in the colony is just a whole-hearted struggle between manly
youths whose zeal for their club and town is not based on the receipt
of a weekly stipend.

[Illustration: CHRISTCHURCH]

Why cricket should lag so far behind football seems at first sight
puzzling; for few countries would seem better suited to the most
scientific of out-door games than the east and centre of New Zealand,
with their sunny but not tropical climate, and their fresh sward of
good green grass. Two reasons, probably, account for the disparity. To
begin with, cricket, at any rate first-class cricket, takes up far more
time than football. Its matches last for days; even practice at the
nets consumes hours. Athletics in New Zealand are the exercise and
recreation of men who have to work for a livelihood. The idle amateur
and the trained professional are equally rare: you see neither the
professional who plays to live, nor the gentleman who lives to play.
The shorter hours of the ordinary working day, helped by the longer
measure of daylight allowed by nature, enable a much larger class than
in England to give a limited amount of time to athletics. But the time
is limited, and first-class cricket therefore, with its heavy demands
on the attention of its votaries, suffers accordingly. Cricket, again,
is a summer game, and in summer the middle or poorer classes have a
far larger variety of amusements to turn to than in winter. Sailing,
rowing, cycling, lawn tennis, fishing, picnics by the sea or in the
forest, mountain-climbing, and tramps in the wilderness, all compete
with cricket to a much greater degree than with football. Indeed the
horse and the gun are well-nigh the only dangerous rivals that football
has, and they are confined to a much more limited class. So while New
Zealand stands at the head of the list of countries that play the Rugby
game, our cricketers could at the best furnish an eleven able to play a
moderately strong English county. The game does, indeed, make headway,
but is eclipsed both by the pre-eminent local success of football, and
by the triumphs of cricket in Australia and South Africa. Meanwhile,
cricket matches in New Zealand, if not Olympian contests, are at any
rate pleasant games. One is not sure whether the less strenuous sort
of cricket, when played in bright weather among surroundings where
good-fellowship and sociability take the place of the excitement of
yelling thousands, is not, after all, the better side of a noble game.

[Illustration: CANOE HURDLE RACE]

[Illustration: WAIHI BAY, WHANGAROA HARBOUR]

As rowing men know, New Zealand has produced more than one sculler of
repute, and at this moment Webb, of the Wanganui River, holds the title
of champion of the world. With this development of sculling, there is
a curiously contrasted lack of especial excellence in other forms of
rowing. Indeed one is inclined to predict that aquatic skill in the
islands will, in days to come, display itself rather in sailing. The
South Pacific is an unquiet ocean, and long stretches of our coast
are iron-bound cliffs or monotonous beaches. But to say nothing of
half-a-hundred large lakes, there are at least three coastal regions
which seem made for yachting. The most striking of these, but one
better adapted for steam yachts than for sailing or small open craft,
is at the butt-end of the South Island, and includes the fiords of the
south-west coast and the harbours of eastern Stewart Island. Between
the two Bluff Harbour lies handy as the yachtsman’s headquarters.
The second of the three chief yachting grounds of the colony has
been placed by nature on the southern side of Cook’s Strait among a
multitude of channels, islands, and sheltered bays, accessible alike
from Wellington, Nelson, or Picton, and affording a delightful change
and refuge from bleak, wind-smitten Cook’s Strait. The best, because
the most easily enjoyed of the three, is the Hauraki Gulf, studded with
islands, fringed with pleasant beaches and inviting coves,
and commanded by the most convenient of harbours in the shape of
the Waitemata. Nor, charming and spacious as the gulf is, need the
Auckland yachtsmen limit themselves to it. Unless entirely wedded to
smooth water, they can run northward past the Little Barrier Island
and visit that fine succession of beautiful inlets, Whangarei, the
Bay of Islands, and Whangaroa. All lie within easy reach, and all are
so extensive and so picturesquely diversified with cliffs, spurs,
bays, and islets, that any yachtsman able to navigate a cutter with
reasonable skill should ask for nothing better than a summer cruise to
and about them.



CHAPTER IV

IN THE FOREST


In one of the rambling myths of the Maori we are told how the hero
Rata, wishing to build a canoe, went into the forest and felled a
tree. In the old days of stone axes, tree-felling was not the work of
an hour, but the toil of days. Great, therefore, was Rata’s vexation
when, on returning to the scene of his labours, he found that the tree
had been set up again by magic, and was standing without a trace of
injury. Much perplexed, the woodcutter thereupon sought out a famous
goddess or priestess, who told him that the restoration was the work
of the Hakaturi, or wood-fairies, whom he must propitiate with certain
ceremonies and incantations. Rata therefore once more cut the tree
down, and having done so, hid himself close by. Presently from the
thickets there issued a company of small bow-legged people, who,
surrounding the fallen tree, began to chant to it somewhat as follows:--

    Ah! ’tis Rata; he is felling
    Tané’s forest, our green dwelling.
    Yet we cry, and lo, upspring
    Chips and splinters quivering.
    Leap together--life will hold you!
    Cling together--strength will fold you!
    Yes--the tree-god’s ribs are bound
    Now by living bark around.
    Yes--the trembling wood is seen,
    Standing straight and growing green.

[Illustration: THE RETURN OF THE WAR CANOE]

And, surely enough, as they sang, the severed trunk rose and reunited,
and every flake and chip of bark and wood flew together straightway.
Then Rata, calling out to them, followed the injunctions given him.
They talked with him, and in the end he was told to go away and
return next morning. When he came back, lo! in the sunshine lay a new
war-canoe, glorious with black and red painting, and tufts of large
white feathers, and with cunning spirals on prow and tall stern-post,
carved as no human hand could carve them. In this canoe he sailed over
the sea to attack and destroy the murderer of his father.

Lovers of the New Zealand forest, who have to live in an age when axe
and fire are doing their deadly work so fast, must regret that the
fairies, defenders of trees, have now passed away. Of yore when the
Maori were about to fell a tree they made propitiatory offerings to
Tané and his elves, at any rate when the tree was one of size. For, so
Tregear tells us, they distinguished between the aristocracy of the
forest and the common multitude. Totara and rimu were _rangatira_, or
gentlemen to whom sacrifice must be offered, while underbrush might be
hacked and slashed without apology. So it would seem that when Cowley
was writing the lines--

    Hail, old patrician trees so great and good;
    Hail, ye plebeian underwood!

he was echoing a class distinction already hit upon by the fancy of
tattooed savages in an undiscovered island. Now all things are being
levelled. Great Tané is dead, and the children of the tree-god have few
friends. Perhaps some uncommercial botanist or misliked rhymester may
venture on a word for them; or some much-badgered official may mark
out a reserve in fear and trembling. Canon Stack, who knew the Maori
of the South Island so well, says that half a century ago the belief
in fairies was devout, and that he often conversed with men who were
certain that they had seen them. One narrator in particular had caught
sight of a band of them at work amid the curling mists of a lofty
hill-top where they were building a stockaded village. So evident was
the faith of the man in the vision he described that Canon Stack was
forced to think that he had seen the forms of human builders reflected
on the mountain-mist, after the fashion of the spectre of the Brocken.

[Illustration: OKAHUMOKO BAY, WHANGAROA]

For myself, I could not have the heart to apply scientific analysis to
our Maori fairy-tales, all too brief and scanty as they are. It is,
doubtless, interesting to speculate on the possible connections of
these with the existence of shadowy tribes who may have inhabited parts
of New Zealand in the distant centuries, and been driven into
inaccessible mountains and entangled woods by the Maori invader. To me,
however, the legends seem to indicate a belief, not in one supernatural
race, but in several. In Europe, of course, the Northern traditions
described beings of every sort of shape, from giants and two-headed
ogres to minute elves almost too small to be seen. And in the same
continent, under clearer skies, were the classic myths of nymphs and
woodland deities, human in shape, but of a beauty exceeding that of
mankind. So Keats could dream of enchanting things that happened

    Upon a time before the faëry broods
    Drove nymph and satyr from the prosperous woods,
    Before King Oberon’s bright diadem,
    Sceptre and mantle clasped with dewy gem,
    Frightened away the dryads and the fauns
    From rushes green and brakes and cowslipp’d lawns.

In much the same way do the Maori stories vary. One tells us of giant
hunters attended by two-headed dogs. Another seems to indicate a
tiny race of wood elves or goblins. Elsewhere the Maori story-teller
explains that fairies were much like human beings, but white-skinned,
and with red or yellow hair, nearly resembling the Pakeha. They haunted
the sea-shore and the recesses of the hill-forests, whither they
would decoy the incautious Maori by their singing. The sound of their
cheerful songs was sweet and clear, and in the night-time the traveller
would hear their voices among the trees, now on this side, now on
that; or the notes would seem to rise near at hand, and then recede
and fall, dying away on the distant hill-sides. Their women were
beautiful, and more than one Maori ancestral chief possessed himself of
a fairy wife. On the other hand, the fairies would carry off the women
and maidens of the Maori, or even, sometimes, little children, who were
never seen again, though their voices were heard by sorrowing mothers
calling in the air over the tree-tops.

[Illustration: MAORI FISHING PARTY]

Sir George Grey was the first, I think, to write down any of the Maori
fairy-tales; at any rate, two of the best of them are found in his
book. One concerns the adventure of the chief Kahukura, who, walking
one evening on the sea-shore in the far north of the North Island, saw
strange footprints and canoe marks on the sands. Clearly fishermen had
been there; but their landing and departure must have taken place in
the night, and there was something about the marks they had left that
was puzzling and uncanny. Kahukura went his way pondering, and “held
fast in his heart what he had seen.” So after nightfall back he came to
the spot, and after a while the shore was covered with fairies. Canoes
were paddled to land dragging nets full of mackerel, and all were busy
in securing the fish. Kahukura mingled with the throng, and was as busy
as any, picking up fish and running a string of flax through their
gills. Like many Maori chiefs, he was a light-complexioned man, so
fair that in the starlight the fairies took him for one of themselves.
Morning approached, and the fishermen were anxious to finish their
work; but Kahukura contrived by dropping and scattering fish to
impede and delay them until dawn. With the first streaks of daylight
the fairies discovered that a man was among them, and fled in confusion
by sea and land, leaving their large seine net lying on the shore. It
is true that the net was made of rushes; but the pattern and knotting
were so perfect and ingenious that the Maori copied them, and that is
how they learned to make fishing-nets.

Another chief, Te Kanawa, fell in with the fairies high up on a wooded
mountain near the river Waikato. This encounter also, we are assured,
took place long ago, before the coming of white men. Te Kanawa had
been hunting the wingless kiwi, and, surprised by night, had to encamp
in the forest. He made his bed of fern among the buttresses at the
foot of a large pukatea-tree, and, protected by these and his fire,
hoped to pass the night comfortably. Soon, however, he heard voices
and footsteps, and fairies began to circle round about, talking and
laughing, and peeping over the buttresses of the pukatea at the
handsome young chief. Their women openly commented on his good looks,
jesting with each other at their eagerness to examine him. Te Kanawa,
however, was exceedingly terrified, and thought of nothing but of how
he might propitiate his inquisitive admirers and save himself from some
injury at their hands. So he took from his neck his hei-tiki, or charm
of greenstone, and from his ears his shark’s-tooth ornaments, and hung
them upon a wand which he held out as an offering to the fairy folk.
At once these turned to examine the gifts with deep interest. According
to one version of the story they made patterns of them, cut out of
wood and leaves. According to another, they, by enchantment, took away
the shadows or resemblances of the prized objects. In either case they
were satisfied to leave the tangible ornaments with their owner, and
disappeared, allowing Te Kanawa to make his way homeward. That he did
with all possible speed, at the first glimpse of daylight, awe-struck
but gratified by the good nature of the elves.

[Illustration: CARVED HOUSE, OHINEMUTU]

A third story introduces us to a husband whose young wife had been
carried off and wedded by a fairy chief. For a while she lived with
her captor in one of the villages of the fairies into which no living
man has ever penetrated, though hunters in the forest have sometimes
seen barriers of intertwined wild vines, which are the outer defences
of an elfin _pa_. The bereaved husband at last bethought himself of
consulting a famous _tohunga_, who, by powerful incantations, turned
the captured wife’s thoughts back to her human husband, and restored
the strength of her love for him. She fled, therefore, from her fairy
dwelling, met her husband, who was lurking in the neighbourhood, and
together they regained their old home. Thither, of course, the fairies
followed them in hot pursuit. But the art of the _tohunga_ was equal
to the danger. He had caused the escaped wife and the outside of her
house to be streaked and plastered with red ochre. He had also
instructed the people of the village to cook food on a grand scale,
so that the air should be heavy with the smell of the cooking at the
time of the raid of the fairies. The sight of red ochre and the smell
of cooked food are so loathsome to the fairy people that they cannot
endure to encounter them. So the baffled pursuers halted, fell back and
vanished, and the wife remained peacefully with her husband, living a
happy Maori life.

The Maori might well worship Tané, the tree-god, who held up the sky
with his feet and so let in light upon the sons of earth. For the
forest supplied them with much more than wood for their stockades,
canoes, and utensils. It sheltered the birds which made such an
important part of the food of the Maori, living as they did in a land
without four-footed beasts. Tame as the birds were, the fowlers, on
their side, were without bows and arrows, and knew nothing of the
blow-gun, which would have been just the weapon for our jungles. They
had to depend mainly on snaring and spearing, and upon the aid of
decoys. Though the snaring was ingenious enough, it was the spearing
that needed especial skill and was altogether the more extraordinary.
The spears were made of the tawa-tree, and while they were but an inch
in thickness, were thirty feet long or even longer. One tree could
only supply two of these slim weapons, which, after metals became
known to the Maori, were tipped with iron. When not in use they were
lashed or hung in a tree. Taking one in hand the fowler would climb
up to a platform prepared in some tree, the flowers or berries of
which were likely to attract wild parrots or pigeons. Then the spear
was pushed upwards, resting against branches. All the fowler’s art
was next exerted to draw down the birds by his decoys to a perch
near the spear-point. That accomplished, a quick silent stab did the
rest. Many living white men have seen this dexterous feat performed,
though it must be almost a thing of the past now. As soon as the Maori
began to obtain guns, and that is ninety years ago, they endeavoured
to shoot birds with them. Having a well-founded distrust of their
marksmanship, they would repeat as closely as possible the tactics
they had found useful in spearing. Climbing silently and adroitly into
the trees and as near their pigeon or kaka as possible, they waited
until the muzzle of the gun was within a foot or two of the game, and
then blew the unfortunate bird from the branch. Major Cruise witnessed
this singular performance in the year 1820. Birds were among the
delicacies which the Maori preserved for future use, storing them in
tightly-bound calabashes, where they were covered with melted fat.
Their favourite choice for this process was a kind of puffin or petrel,
the mutton-bird, which goes inland to breed, and nests in underground
burrows.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: A BUSH ROAD]

Though no great traveller, I have seen beautiful landscapes in fourteen
or fifteen countries, and yet hold to it that certain views of our
forest spreading round lakes and over hills and valleys, peaceful
and unspoiled, are sights as lovely as are to be found. Whence
comes their complete beauty? Of course, there are the fine contours
of mountain and vale, cliff and shore. And the abundance of water,
swirling in torrents, leaping in waterfalls, or winding in lakes or
sea-gulfs, aids greatly. But to me the magic of the forest--I speak of
it where you find it still unspoiled--comes first from its prodigal
life and continual variety. Why, asks a naturalist, do so many of us
wax enthusiastic over parasites and sentimental over lianas? Because,
I suppose, these are among the most striking signs of the astonishing
vitality and profusion which clothe almost every yard of ground and
foot of bark, and, gaining foothold on the trees, invade the air
itself. Nature there is not trimmed and supervised, weeded out, swept
and garnished, as in European woods. She lets herself go, expelling
nothing that can manage to find standing room or breathing space. Every
rule of human forestry and gardening appears to be broken, and the
result is an easy triumph for what seems waste and rank carelessness.
Trees tottering with age still dispute the soil with superabundant
saplings, or, falling, lean upon and are held up by undecaying
neighbours. Dead trunks cumber the ground, while mosses, ferns, and
bushes half conceal them. Creepers cover matted thickets, veiling their
flanks and netting them into masses upon which a man may sit, and a boy
be irresistibly tempted to walk. Aloft, one tree may grow upon another,
and itself bear the burden of a third. Parasites twine round parasites,
dangle in purposeless ropes, or form loops and swings in mid-air. Some
are bare, lithe and smooth-stemmed; others trail curtains of leaves
and pale flowers. Trees of a dozen species thrust their branches into
each other, till it is a puzzle to tell which foliage belongs to this
stem, which to that; and flax-like arboreal colonists fill up forks and
dress bole and limbs fantastically. Adventurous vines ramble through
the interspaces, linking trunk to trunk and complicating the fine
confusion. All around is a multitudinous, incessant struggle for life;
but it goes on in silence, and the impression left is not regret, but
a memory of beauty. The columnar dignity of the great trees contrasts
with the press and struggle of the undergrowth, with the airy lace-work
of fern fronds, and the shafted grace of the stiffer palm-trees. From
the moss and wandering lycopodium underfoot, to the victorious climber
flowering eighty feet overhead, all is life, varied endlessly and put
forth without stint. Of course there is death at work around you, too;
but who notes the dying amid such a riot of energy? The earth itself
smells moist and fresh. What seems an odour blended of resin, sappy
wood, damp leaves, and brown tinder, hangs in the air. But the leafy
roof is lofty enough, and the air cool and pure enough, to save you
from the sweltering oppressiveness of an equatorial jungle. The dim
entanglement is a quiet world, shut within itself and full of shadows.
Yet, in bright weather, rays of sunshine shoot here and there against
brown and grey bark, and clots of golden light, dripping through the
foliage, dance on vivid mosses and the root-enlacement of the earth.

    “The forest rears on lifted arms
      Its leafy dome whence verdurous light
    Shakes through the shady depths and warms
      Proud trunk and stealthy parasite.
    There where those cruel coils enclasp
    The trees they strangle in their grasp.”

When the sky is overcast the evergreen realm darkens. In one mood you
think it invitingly still and mysterious; in another, its tints fade
to a common dulness, and gloom fills its recesses. Pattering raindrops
chill enthusiasm. The mazy paradise is filled with “the terror of
unending trees.” The silence grows unnatural, the rustle of a chance
bird startles. Anything from a python to a jaguar might be hidden in
labyrinths that look so tropical. In truth there is nothing there
larger than a wingless and timid bird; nothing more dangerous than a
rat poaching among the branches in quest of eggs; nothing more annoying
than a few sandflies.

The European’s eye instinctively wanders over the foliage in search
of likenesses to the flora of northern lands. He may think he detects
a darker willow in the tawa, a brighter and taller yew in the matai,
a giant box in the rata, a browner laburnum in the kowhai, a slender
deodar in the rimu, and, by the sea, a scarlet-flowering ilex in
the pohutu-kawa. The sub-alpine beech forests are indeed European,
inferior though our small-leaved beeches are to the English. You see in
them wide-spreading branches, an absence of underbrush and luxuriant
climbers, and a steady repetition of the same sort and condition of
tree, all recalling Europe. Elsewhere there is little that does this.
In the guide-books you constantly encounter the word “pine,” but
you will look round in vain for anything like the firs of Scotland,
the maritime pines of Gascony, or the black and monotonous woods of
Prussia. The nikau-palm, tree-fern, and palm-lily, the serpentine
and leafy parasites, and such extraordinary foliage as that of the
lance-wood, rewa-rewa, and two or three kinds of panax, add a hundred
distinctive details to the broad impression of difference.

[Illustration: AMONG THE KAURI]

I suppose that most New Zealanders, if asked to name the finest trees
of their forest, would declare for the kauri and the totara. Some
might add the puriri to these. But then the average New Zealander
is a practical person and is apt to estimate a forest-tree in terms
of sawn timber. Not that a full-grown kauri is other than a great
and very interesting tree. Its spreading branches and dark crown of
glossy-green leaves, lifted above its fellows of the woodland, like
Saul’s head above the people, catch and hold the eye at once. And the
great column of its trunk impresses you like the pillar of an Egyptian
temple, not by classic grace, but by a rotund bulk, sheer size and
weight speaking of massive antiquity. It is not their height that makes
even the greatest of the kauri tribe remarkable, for one hundred and
fifty feet is nothing extraordinary. But their picked giants measure
sixty-six feet in circumference, with a diameter that, at least in one
case, has reached twenty-four. Moreover, the smooth grey trunks
rise eighty or even a hundred feet without the interruption of a single
branch. And when you come to the branches, they are as large as trees:
some have been measured and found to be four feet through. Then, though
the foliage is none too dense, each leaf is of a fair size. From their
lofty roof above your head to the subsoil below your feet, all is
odorous of resin. Leaves and twigs smell of it; it forms lumps in the
forks, oozes from the trunk and mixes with the earth--the swelling
humus composed of flakes of decayed bark dropped through the slow
centuries. There are still kauri pines in plenty that must have been
vigorous saplings when William the Norman was afforesting south-western
Hampshire. The giants just spoken of are survivors from ages far more
remote. For they may have been tall trees when cedars were being hewn
on Lebanon for King Solomon’s temple. And then the kauri has a pathetic
interest: it is doomed. At the present rate of consumption the supply
will not last ten years. Commercially it is too valuable to be allowed
to live undisturbed, and too slow of growth to make it worth the while
of a money-making generation to grow it. Even the young “rickers” are
callously slashed and burned away. Who regards a stem that may be
valuable a quarter of a century hence, or a seedling that will not be
worth money during the first half of the twentieth century? So the
kauri, like the African elephant, the whale, and the bison, seems
likely to become a rare survival. It will be kept to be looked at
in a few State reserves. Then men may remember that once upon a time
virtually all the town of Auckland was built of kauri timber, and that
Von Hochstetter, riding through a freshly burned kauri “bush,” found
the air charged with a smell as of frankincense and myrrh.

Nor is the totara other than a king of the woods, albeit a lesser
monarch than the giant. Its brown shaggy trunk looks best, to my
thinking, when wrapped in a rough overcoat of lichens, air-lilies,
climbing ferns, lianas, and embracing rootlets. Such a tree, from
waist to crown, is often a world of shaggy greenery, where its own
bristling, bushy foliage may be lit up by the crimson of the florid
rata, or the starry whiteness of other climbers. The beauty of the
totara is not external only. Its brown wood is handsome, and a polished
piece of knotty or mottled totara almost vies with mottled kauri in the
cabinet-maker’s esteem.

For utility no wood in the islands, perhaps, surpasses that of the
puriri, the teak of the country. One is tempted to say that it should
be made a penal offence to burn a tree at once so serviceable and so
difficult to replace. A tall puriri, too, with its fresh-green leaves
and rose-tinted flowers, is a cheering sight, especially when you see,
as you sometimes do, healthy specimens which have somehow managed to
survive the cutting down and burning of the other forest trees, and
stand in fields from which the bush has been cleared away.

[Illustration: POHUTUKAWA IN BLOOM, WHANGAROA HARBOUR]

Yet none of the three trees named seems to me to equal in beauty
or distinction certain other chieftains of the forest. Surely the
cedar-like rimu--_silvæ filia nobilis_,--with its delicate drooping
foliage and air of slender grace, and the more compact titoki with
polished curving leaves and black-and-crimson berries, are not easily
to be matched. And surpassing even these in brilliance and strangeness
are a whole group of the iron-heart family, ratas with flowers
blood-red or white, and their cousin the “spray-sprinkled” pohutu-kawa.
The last-named, like the kauri, puriri, tawari, and tarairi, is a
northerner, and does not love the South Island, though a stray specimen
or two have been found in Banks’ Peninsula. But the rata, though
shunning the dry mid-eastern coast of the South Island, ventures much
nearer the Antarctic. The variety named _lucida_ grows in Stewart
Island, and forms a kind of jungle in the Auckland Isles, where, beaten
on its knees by the furious gales, it goes down, so to speak, on all
fours, and, lifting only its crown, spreads in bent thickets in a
climate as wet and stormy as that of the moors of Cumberland.

The rata of the south would, but for its flowers, be an ordinary tree
enough, very hard, very slow in growing, and carrying leaves somewhat
like those of the English box-tree. But when in flower in the later
summer, it crowns the western forests with glory, and lights up
mountain passes and slopes with sheets of crimson. The splendour of the
flower comes not from its petals, but from what Kirk the botanist calls
“the fiery crimson filaments of its innumerable stamens,” standing as
they do in red crests, or hanging downward in feathery fringes. To win
full admiration the rata must be seen where it spreads in profusion,
staining cliffs, sprinkling the dark-green tree-tops with blood, and
anon seeming in the distance to be massed in cushions of soft red.
Trees have been found bearing golden flowers, but such are very rare.

The rata _lucida_ does not climb other trees. Another and even
brighter species, the florid rata, is a climbing plant, and so are two
white-flowered kinds named _albiflora_ and _scandens_, both beautiful
in their way, but lacking the distinction of the blood-hued species,
for white is only too common a colour in our forest flora. The florid
rata, on the other hand, is perhaps the most brilliant of the tribe.
Winding its way up to the light, it climbs to the green roof of the
forest, and there flaunts a bold scarlet like the crest of some gay
bird of the Tropics. It is a snake-like vine, and, vine like, yields a
pale rose-tinted drink, which with a little make-believe may be likened
to rough cider. Rata wine, however, is not crushed from grapes, but
drawn from the vine-stem. Mr. Laing states that as much as a gallon and
a half of liquid has dripped from a piece of the stem four feet long,
after it had been cut and kept dry for three weeks.

But the most famous rata is neither the vine nor the tree of the
south. It is the tree-killing tree of the North Island, the species
named _robusta_. Its flowers are richer than the southerner’s, and
whereas the latter is not often more than fifty feet high, _robusta_ is
sometimes twice as tall as that. And it is as strong as tall, for its
hard, heavy logs of reddish wood will lie on the ground year after year
without decaying. But its fame comes from its extraordinary fashion of
growing. Strong and erect as it is, and able to grow from the ground in
the ordinary way, it prefers to begin life as an epiphyte, springing
from seed dropped in a fork or hollow of a high tree. At any rate the
tallest and finest specimens begin as seedlings in these airy nests.
Thence without delay they send down roots to earth, one perhaps on one
side of the tree trunk, one on the other. These in their turn, after
fixing themselves in the ground, send out cross-roots to clasp each
other--transverse pieces looking like the rungs of a rope-ladder. In
time oblique rootlets make with these a complete net-work. Gradually
all meet and solidify, forming a hollow pipe of living wood. This
encloses the unhappy tree and in the end presses it to death. Many
and many a grey perished stick has been found in the interior of the
triumphant destroyer. In one tree only does the constrictor meet more
than its match. In the puriri it finds a growth harder and stouter than
itself. Iron is met by steel. The grey smooth trunk goes on expanding,
indifferent to the rata’s grasp, and even forcing its gripping roots
apart; and the pleasant green of the puriri’s leaves shows freshly
among the darker foliage of the strangler.

The rata itself, on gaining size and height, does not escape the
responsibilities of arboreal life. Its own forks and hollows form
starting-points for the growth of another handsome tree-inhabitant, the
large or shining broadleaf. Beginning sometimes thirty feet from the
ground, this last will grow as much as thirty feet higher, and develop
a stem fourteen inches thick. Not satisfied with sending down roots
outside the trunk of its supporter it will use the interior of a hollow
tree as a channel through which to reach earth. The foliage which the
broadleaf puts forth quite eclipses the leaves of most of the trees
upon which it rides, but it does not seem to kill these last, if it
kills them at all, as quickly as the iron-hearted rata.

[Illustration: NIKAU PALMS]

Our wild flowers, say the naturalists, show few brilliant hues. Our
fuschias are poor, our violets white, our gentians pallid--save those
of the Auckland isles. Our clematis is white or creamy, and our
passion-flower faint yellow and green. Again and again we are told that
our flowers, numerous as they are, seldom light up the sombre greens of
the forest. This complaint may be pushed much too far. It is true that
pale flowers are found in the islands belonging to families which in
other countries have brightly coloured members. Though, for instance,
three or four of our orchids are beautiful, and one falls in a cascade
of sweet-scented blooms, most of the species are disappointing. But
the array of our more brilliant flowers is very far from contemptible.
Over and above the gorgeous ratas and their spray-sprinkled cousins
are to be reckoned the golden-and-russet kowhai, the crimson
parrot’s-beak, veronicas wine-hued or purple, the red mistletoe, the
yellow tarata, and the rosy variety of the manuka. The stalks
of the flax-lily make a brave show of red and yellow. The centre of
the mountain-lily’s cup is shining gold. And when speaking of colour
we may fairly take count of the golden glint or pinkish tinge of the
toé-toé plumes, the lilac hue of the palm-flower, the orange-coloured
fruit of the karaka, and the purples of the tutu and wineberry. Nor do
flowers lack beauty because they are white,--witness the ribbon-wood
loaded with masses of blooms, fine as those of the double cherry, and
honey-scented to boot; witness the tawari, the hinau, the rangiora, the
daisy-tree, the whau, and half a score more. For myself, I would not
change the purity of our starry clematis for the most splendid parasite
of the Tropics. Certainly the pallid-greenish and chocolate hues of
some of our flowers are strange; they seem tinged with moonlight and
meant for the night hours, and in the dusky jungle carry away one’s
thoughts to “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and “Les Fleurs du Mal.”

For a bit of New Zealand colour you may turn to Colenso’s description
of a certain morning in early October when he found himself on a high
hill-top in face of Mount Ruapehu. Snow had fallen in the night and the
volcano was mantled heavily therewith. The forest and native village
on the hill on which Colenso stood were sprinkled with white, and,
though the rising sun was shining brightly, a few big flakes continued
to flutter down. Outside the village a grove of kowhai was covered
with golden-and-russet blossoms, all the more noticeable because the
young leaves were only on the way. Suddenly from the evergreen forest a
flock of kakas descended on the kowhais, chattering hoarsely. The great
parrots, walking out on the underside of the boughs to the very end
of the branches, began to tear open the flowers, piercing them at the
side of their base and licking out the honey with their brush-tipped
tongues. Brown-skinned Maori boys climbing the trees brought to the
naturalist specimens of the blossoms thus opened by the big beaks.
The combination of the golden-brown flowers and green forest; the
rough-voiced parrots, olive-brown and splashed with red, swaying on the
slender branch-tips; and the sunlight gleaming on the white snow, made,
with the towering volcano in the background, a picture as brilliant as
curious.

Whatever the dim flowers, purple fruit, and glossy leaves of many
of our plants might lead the imaginative to expect, the number that
are poisonous is very small. Only two examples are conspicuous, and
but one does any damage to speak of. Of the noxious pair the karaka,
a handsome shrub, is a favourite garden plant, thanks to its large
polished leaves and the deep orange colour of its fruit. It has been a
favourite, too, with the Maori from time immemorial. They plant it near
their villages, and they claim to have brought it in their canoes from
Polynesia. Botanists shake their heads over this assertion, however,
the explanation of which is somewhat similar to a famous statement by
a certain undergraduate on the crux of the Baconian controversy. “The
plays of Shakespeare,” said this young gentleman, “were not written by
him, but by another fellow of the same name.” It seems that there is a
Polynesian karaka in the islands where the Maori once dwelt, but that
it is no relation of the New Zealand shrub. The affection of the Maori
for the latter was based on something more practical than an ancestral
association. They were extremely fond of the kernel of its fruit. When
raw, this is exceedingly bitter and disagreeable--fortunately so, for
it contains then a powerful poison. Somehow the Maori discovered that
by long baking or persistent steaming the kernels could be freed from
this, and they used to subject them to the process in a most patient
and elaborate fashion. Now and then some unlucky person--usually a
child--would chew a raw kernel and then the result was extraordinary.
The poison distorted the limbs and then left them quite rigid, in
unnatural postures. To avoid this the Maori would lash the arms and
legs of the unfortunate sufferer in a natural position, and then bury
him up to his shoulders in earth. Colenso once saw a case in which
this strong step had not been taken, or had failed. At any rate the
victim of karaka poison, a well-grown boy, was lying with limbs stiff
and immovable, one arm thrust out in front, one leg twisted backwards;
he could neither feed himself nor beat off the swarm of sandflies
that were pestering him. White children must be more cautious than
the Maori, for though the karaka shines in half the gardens of the
North Island, one never hears of any harm coming from it. The other
plant with noxious properties is the tutu, and this in times past
did much damage among live-stock, sheep especially. Much smaller than
the karaka, it is still an attractive-looking bush, with soft leaves
and purple-black clusters of berries. Both berries and shoots contain
a poison, powerful enough to interest chemists as well as botanists.
Sheep which eat greedily of it, especially when tired and fasting after
a journey, may die in a few hours. It kills horned cattle also, though
horses do not seem to suffer from it. Its chief recorded achievement
was to cause the death of a circus elephant many years ago, a result
which followed in a few hours after a hearty meal upon a mixture of
tutu and other vegetation. So powerful is the poison that a chemist who
handles the shoots of the plant for an hour or two with his fingers
will suffer nausea, pain, and a burning sensation of the skin. An
extremely minute internal dose makes the nausea very violent indeed.
Of course, so dangerous a plant does not get much quarter from the
settlers, and for this and other reasons the losses caused by tutu
among our flocks and herds are far less than was the case forty or
fifty years ago. Strangely enough the Maoris could make a wine from
the juice of the berries, which was said to be harmless and palatable,
though I venture to doubt it. White men are said to have tried the
liquor, though I have never met any of these daring drinkers. Though
the most dangerous plant in the islands, it does not seem to have
caused any recorded death among white people for more than forty years.

[Illustration: ON THE PELORUS RIVER]

Our flora has oddities as well as beauties. Some of its best-known
members belong to the lily tribe. Several of these are as different
from each other and as unlike the ordinary man’s notion of a lily
as could well be. One of the commonest is a lily like a palm-tree,
and another equally abundant is a lily like a tall flax. A third
is a tree-dweller, a luxuriant mass of drooping blades, resembling
sword-grass. A fourth is a black-stemmed wild vine, a coiling and
twining parasite of the forest, familiarly named supplejack, which
resembles nothing so much as a family of black snakes climbing about
playfully in the foliage. Another, even more troublesome creeper, is
no lily but a handsome bramble, known as the bush-lawyer, equipped
with ingenious hooks of a most dilatory kind. When among trees, the
lawyer sticks his claws into the nearest bark and mounts boldly aloft;
but when growing in an open glade, he collapses into a sort of huddled
bush, and cannot even propagate his species, though, oddly enough, in
such cases, he grows hooks even more abundantly than when climbing.

Members of very different families, the pen-wiper plant and the
vegetable sheep are excellently described by their names. That is
more than can be said for many of our forest trees. One of these, the
aké, has leaves so viscous that in sandy or dusty spots these become
too thickly coated with dirt to allow the tree to grow to any size.
As a variation the para-para tree has normal leaves, but the skin of
its fruit is so sticky that not only insects but small birds have
been found glued thereto. A rather common trick of our trees is to
change the form of their leaves as they grow old. The slim, straight
lance-wood, for instance, will for many years be clothed with long,
narrow, leathery-looking leaves, armed with hooks, growing from the
stem and pointing stiffly downwards. So long, narrow, and rigid are
they that the whole plant stands like an inverted umbrella stripped
of its covering. Later in life the leaves lose both their hooks and
their odd shape, and the lance-wood ceases to look like a survival
from the days of the pterodactyl. At no time can it look much stranger
than two species of dracophyllum, the nei-nei and the grass-tree. Save
for the extremities, the limbs of these are naked. They reserve their
energies for tufts at the tips. In one species these are like long
wisps of grass; in the other they curve back like a pine-apple’s, and
from among them springs a large red flower having the shape of a toy
tree. Even the nei-nei is eclipsed by the tanekaha, or celery pine,
which contrives to be a very handsome tree without bearing any leaves
whatever; their place is taken by branchlets, thickened and fan-shaped.
The raukawa has leaves scented so sweetly that the Maori women used to
rub their skins with them as a perfume. Another more eccentric plant
is scentless by day, but smells agreeably at night-time. Indeed, both
by day and night the air of the forest is pleasant to the nostrils. A
disagreeable exception among our plants is the coprosma, emphatically
called _fœtidissima_, concerning which bushmen, entangled in its
thickets, have used language which might turn bullock-drivers green
with envy.

[Illustration: AUCKLAND]

The navigators who discovered or traded with our islands while
they were still a No Man’s Land have recorded their admiration of
the timber of our forests. The tall sticks of kauri and kahikatea,
with their scores of feet of clean straight wood, roused the sailors’
enthusiasm. It seemed to them that they had chanced upon the finest
spars in the world. And for two generations after Captain Cook,
trees picked out in the Auckland bush, and roughly trimmed there,
were carried across on the decks of trading schooners to Sydney, and
there used by Australian shipbuilders. In the year 1819 the British
Government sent a store-ship, the _Dromedary_, to the Bay of Islands
for a cargo of kauri spars. They were to be suitable for top-masts, so
to be from seventy-four to eighty-four feet long and from twenty-one
to twenty-three inches thick. After much chaffering with the native
chiefs the spars were cut and shipped, and we owe to the expedition an
interesting book by an officer on board the _Dromedary_. Our export of
timber has always been mainly from Auckland, and for many years has
been chiefly of kauri logs or sawn timber. There has been some export
of white pine to Australia for making butter-boxes; but the kauri has
been the mainstay of the timber trade oversea. Other woods are cut
and sawn in large quantities, but the timber is consumed within the
colony. How large the consumption is may be seen from the number of
saw-mills at work--411--and their annual output, which was 432,000,000
superficial feet last year. Add to this a considerable amount cut for
firewood, fences, and rough carpentering, which does not pass through
the mills. And then, great as is the total quantity made use of, the
amount destroyed and wasted is also great. Accidental fires, sometimes
caused by gross carelessness, ravage thousands of acres. “A swagger
will burn down a forest to light his pipe,” said Sir Julius Vogel, and
the epigram was doubtless true of some of the swag-carrying tribe.
But the average swagger is a decent enough labourer on the march in
search of work, and not to be classed with the irreclaimable vagrant
called tramp in Britain. In any case the swagger was never the sole or
main offender where forest fires were concerned. It would be correct
to say that gum-diggers sometimes burn down a forest in trying to
clear an acre of scrub. But bush fires start up from twenty different
causes. Sparks from a saw-mill often light up a blaze which may end in
consuming the mill and its surroundings. I have heard of a dogmatic
settler who was so positive that his grass would not burn that he threw
a lighted match into a tuft of it by way of demonstration. A puff of
wind found the little flame, and before it was extinguished it had
consumed four hundred acres of yellow but valuable pasture.

And then there is the great area deliberately cut and burned to make
way for grass. Here the defender of tree-life is faced with a more
difficult problem. The men who are doing the melancholy work of
destruction are doing also the work of colonisation. As a class they
are, perhaps, the most interesting and deserving in colonial life. They
are acting lawfully and in good faith. Yet the result is a hewing down
and sweeping away of beauty, compared with which the conquests of the
Goths and Vandals were conservative processes. For those noted invaders
did not level Rome or Carthage to the ground: they left classic
architecture standing. To the lover of beautiful Nature the work of
our race in New Zealand seems more akin to that of the Seljuk Turks in
Asia Minor, when they swept away population, buildings and agriculture,
and Byzantine city and rural life together, in order to turn whole
provinces into pasture for their sheep. Not that my countrymen are more
blind to beauty than other colonists from Europe. It is mere accident
which has laid upon them the burden of having ruined more natural
beauty in the last half-century than have other pioneers. The result
is none the less saddening. When the first white settlers landed,
the islands were supposed still to contain some thirty million acres
of forest. The Maori had done a share of destruction by reckless or
accidental burning. Other causes, perhaps, had helped to devastate such
tracts as the Canterbury plains and the kauri gum-fields. But enough,
and more than enough, was left; indeed the bush seemed the chief
barrier to rapid settlement. The havoc wrought by careless savages
was a trifle compared with the wholesale destruction brought about by
our utilising of the forests and the soil. _Quod non fecerunt Barbari
fecere Barberini._ To-day we are told that the timber still standing
cannot last our saw-mills more than two generations, and that a supply
which was estimated at forty-three thousand million feet in 1905 had
shrunk to thirty-six thousand million feet in 1907. The acreage of our
forests must be nearer fifteen than twenty millions now. Some of this,
covering, as it does, good alluvial soil, must go; but I am far from
being alone in believing that four-fifths of it should be conserved,
and that where timber is cut the same precautions should be insisted on
as in Germany, France, India, and some intelligent portions of North
America. Within the last two years great floods in Auckland and Hawke’s
Bay, and, farther south, two summers hot and dry beyond precedent, seem
to point the moral and strengthen the case for making a courageous
stand on behalf of the moiety we have left of the woods that our
fathers thought illimitable.

[Illustration: MOUNT EGMONT]

Something has already been done. Forty years ago Thomas Potts,
naturalist and politician, raised his voice in the parliamentary
wilderness; and in the next decade a Premier, Sir Julius Vogel, came
forward with an official scheme of conservation which would have been
invaluable had he pressed it home. Since then enlightened officials,
like the late Surveyor-General, Mr. Percy Smith, have done what they
could. From time to time reserves have been made which, all too small
as they are, now protect some millions of acres. In the rainier
districts most of this is not in great danger from chance fires. Nor is
it always and everywhere true that the forest when burned does not grow
again. It can and will do so, if cattle and goats are kept out of it.
The lavish beauty of the primeval forest may not return, but that
is another matter. The cry that Government reservation only saves trees
from the axe to keep them for the fire may be dismissed as a counsel of
despair, or--sometimes--as inspired by the saw-miller and land-grabber.
Of late years, too, both Government and public are waking up to the
wisdom of preserving noted and beautiful scenes. Many years ago the
settlers of Taranaki set an example by reserving the upper and middle
slopes of their Fusiyama, Mount Egmont. Long stretches of the draped
cliffs of Wanganui River have been made as safe as law can make them,
though some still remain in danger, and I am told that at Taumaranui,
on the upper river, the hum of the saw-mills is ever in your ears.
Societies for preserving scenery are at work elsewhere, and the
Parliament has passed an Act and established a Board for the purpose of
making scenic reserves. Twenty-five thousand acres have lately been set
aside on the Board’s advice, and the area will, I assume, be added to
yearly.

Now and again, in dry, windy summers, the forest turns upon its
destroyers and takes revenge. Dying, it involves their works and
possessions in its own fiery death. A bush-fire is a fine sight when
seen on windy nights, burning whole hill-sides, crawling slowly to
windward, or rushing with the wind in leaping tongues and flakes that
fly above the tree-tops. The roar, as of a mighty gale, the spouting
and whirling of golden sparks, the hissing of sap and resin, and the
glowing heat that may be felt a mile away, join grandly in furious
energy. Nothing can be finer than the spectacle, just as nothing can
be more dreary than the resulting ruin. A piece of bush accidentally
burned has no touch of dignity in its wreck. It becomes merely an ugly
and hateful jumble, begrimed, untidy, and unserviceable. A tract that
has been cut down and fired deliberately is in a better case. Something
more like a clean sweep has been made, and the young grass sprouting
up gives promise of a better day. But bush through which fire has run
too quickly is often spoiled as forest, without becoming of use to
the farmer. The best that can be done when trees are thus scorched is
for the saw-miller to pick out the larger timber and separate with
his machinery the sound inside from the burned envelope. This he does
skilfully enough, and much good wood--especially kauri--is thus saved.
The simple-minded settler when selling scorched timber sometimes
tries to charge for sound and injured portions alike; but the average
saw-miller is a man of experience.

[Illustration: TAREI-PO-KIORE]

As I have said, fire sometimes sweeps down upon the forest’s enemies
and carries all before it: saw-mills and their out-buildings are made
into bonfires, and the stacks of sawn planks and litter of chips and
sawdust help the blaze. The owner and his men are lucky if they save
more than their portable belongings. Nor does the fire stop there.
After making a mouthful of mills and woodcutters’ huts, it may set
out for some small township not yet clear of stumps, dead trunks,
and inflammable trash. All depends upon the wind. If the flames are
being borne along upon the wings of a strong north-west wind--the
“regular howling nor’-wester” of up-country vernacular--very
little can be done except to take to flight, driving live-stock, and
taking such furniture as can be piled on carts and driven away. Fences,
house, machinery, garden, and miles of grass may be swept away in a few
hours, the labour of half a lifetime may be consumed, and the burnt-out
settler may be thankful if the Government comes to his aid with a loan
to enable him to buy grass seed to scatter on his blackened acres after
the long-desired rains have come.

In an exceptionally dry summer--such an extraordinary season as came
in January and February of this year--the fire goes to work on a grand
scale. In a tract a hundred miles long, thirty or forty outbreaks may
be reported within a week. Settlers looking out from their homesteads
may see smoke and glowing skies in half-a-dozen directions at once. Now
the blaze may approach from this direction, now from that, just as the
wind freshens or shifts. Sheep are mustered, and, if possible, driven
away. Threatened householders send their furniture away, or dig holes
in the ground and bury it. When the danger comes too suddenly to give
time for anything more, goods are hastily piled on some bare patch and
covered with wet blankets. I have read of a prudent settler who had
prepared for these risks of fire by excavating a cave almost large
enough to house a band of prophets. After three years the fire came his
way, and he duly stored away his possessions in the repository. But
just as rain does not fall when you take out a large umbrella, so our
provident friend found that the fire would not touch his house. He
lost nothing but a shed.

[Illustration: MORNING ON THE WANGANUI RIVER]

If there appears any fair chance of beating back the flames, the men
join together, form a line, and give battle. They do not lightly
surrender the fruits of years of toil, but will fight rolling smoke,
flying sparks, and even scorching flame, hour after hour. Strips
of grass are burned off in advance, and dead timber blown up with
dynamite. Buckets of water are passed from hand to hand, or the flames
are beaten out with sacks or blankets. Seen at night on a burning
hill-side, the row of masculine fighting figures stands out jet-black
against the red glow, and the wild attitudes and desperate exertions
are a study for an artist. Among the men, boys work gleefully; there is
no school for them when a fire has to be beaten. Very young children
suffer greatly from the smoke with which the air they breathe is
laden, perhaps for days together. Even a Londoner would find its
volumes trying. Now and again a bushman in the thick of the fight reels
half-suffocated, or falls fainting and has to be carried away. But his
companions work on; and grass-fires are often stopped and standing
crops saved. But fire running through thick bush is a more formidable
affair. The heat is terrific, the very soil seems afire; and indeed
the flames, after devouring trunks and branches, will work down into
the roots and consume them for many feet. Sparks and tongues of flame
shoot across roads and streams and start a blaze on the farther side.
Messengers riding for help, or settlers trying to reach their
families, have often to run the gauntlet perilously on tracks which
the fire has reached or is crossing. They gallop through when they
can, sometimes with hair and beard singed and clothes smelling of the
fire. Men, however, very seldom lose their lives. For one who dies by
fire in the bush, fifty are killed by falling timber in the course of
tree-felling. Sheep have occasionally to be left to their fate, and are
roasted, or escape with wool half-burnt. Wild pigs save themselves; but
many native birds perish with their trees, and the trout in the smaller
streams die in hundreds.

Many stories are told of these bush fires, and of the perils, panics,
or displays of courage they have occasioned. Let me repeat one. In a
certain “bush township,” or small settlement in the forest, lived a
clergyman, who, in addition to working hard among the settlers in a
parish half as large as an English county, was a reader of books. He
was, I think, a bachelor, and I can well believe that his books were
to him something not far removed from wife and children. The life of a
parson in the bush certainly deserves some consolations in addition to
those of religion. Well, a certain devastating fire took a turn towards
the township in which a wooden roof sheltered our parson and his
beloved volumes. Some householders were able to drive off with their
goods; others stood their ground. The minister, after some reflection,
carried his books out of doors, took a spade and began to dig a hole
in the earth, meaning to bury them therein. Just as the interment
was beginning, a neighbour rode up with the news that the house of
a widow woman, not far away, had caught fire and that friends were
trying to extinguish the burning or at least save her goods. Whether
the book-lover gave “a splendid groan” I do not know; but leaving his
treasures, off he ran, and was soon among the busiest of the little
salvage corps, hauling and shouldering like a man. When all was done
that could be done he hastened back, blackened and perspiring, to his
own dwelling. Alas! the fire had outflanked him. Sparks and burning
flakes had dropped upon his books and the little collection was a
blazing pile. I have forgotten the parson’s name and do not know what
became of him. But if any man deserved, in later life, a fine library
at the hands of the Fates, he did. I hope that he has one, and that it
includes a copy of Mr. Blades’s entertaining treatise on the _Enemies
of Books_. With what gusto he must read chapter i., the title of which
is “Fire.”

[Illustration: ON THE UPPER WANGANUI]

Just as a burning forest is a magnificent scene with a dismal sequel,
so the saw-miller’s industry, though it finds a paradise and leaves a
rubbish-yard, is, while it goes on, a picturesque business. Like many
forms of destruction, it lends itself to the exertion of boldness,
strength, and skill. The mill itself is probably too primitive to be
exactly ugly, and the complicated machinery is interesting when in
action, albeit its noises, which at a distance blend into a humming
vibration, rise near at hand to tearing and rending, clattering and
howling. But the smell of the clean wood is fresh and resinous, and
nothing worse than sawdust loads the air. The strong teeth
of the saws go through the big logs as though they were cheese.
The speed of the transformation, the neatness and utility of the
outcome, are pleasing enough. Then the timber-scows, those broad,
comfortable-looking craft that go plodding along the northern coasts,
may be said, without irony, to have a share of “Batavian grace.” But
the more absorbing work of the timber trade begins at the other end,
with the selecting and felling of the timber. After that comes the
task of hauling or floating it down to the mill. Tree-felling is, one
supposes, much the same in all countries where the American pattern of
axe is used. With us, as elsewhere, there are sights worth watching. It
is worth your while to look at two axemen at work on the tree, giving
alternate blows, one swinging the axe from the right, the other from
the left. Physically, bush-fellers are among the finest workmen in the
islands, and not only in wood-chopping contests, but when at work,
under contract in the bush, they make the chips fly apace. Some of
them seem able to hew almost as well with one arm as with two; indeed,
one-armed men have made useful fellers. Sometimes they attack a tree
from the ground; but into the larger trunks they may drive stakes some
few feet from the soil, or may honour a giant by building a platform
round it. Upon this they stand, swinging their axes or working a large
cross-cut saw. Skill, of course, is required in arranging the direction
in which the tree shall fall, also in avoiding it when it comes down.
Even a broken limb is a serious matter enough in the bush, far from
surgical aid. Men thus struck down have to be carried on rough litters
to the nearest surgeon. In one case the mates of an injured bush-feller
carried him in this way fully sixty miles, taking turns to bear the
burden. Even when a man has been killed outright and there is no longer
question of surgical aid, the kindliness of the bushmen may still be
shown. Men have been known to give up days of remunerative work in
order to carry the body of a comrade to some settlement, where it can
be buried in consecrated ground. Accidents are common enough in the
bush. Only last year an “old hand” fell a victim to mischance after
forty years of a bushman’s life. Slipping on a prostrate trunk he fell
on the sharp edge of his axe, and was discovered lying there dead in
solitude.

[Illustration: WAIRUA FALLS]

When the tree has been felled and cross-cut and the branches lopped
off, the log may be lying many miles from the mill. Hills and ravines
may have to be crossed or avoided. Orpheus with his lute would be
invaluable to the New Zealand saw-miller. The local poet, though fond
enough of addressing his stanzas to the forest trees, does not pretend
to draw them to follow in his footsteps. Nor are our poets on the side
of the saw-mills. So bushmen have to fall back upon mechanical devices
and the aid of water-power. Long narrow tracks are cut, and floored
with smooth skids. Along these logs are dragged--it may be by the wire
rope of a traction machine, it may be by a team of bullocks. Over very
short distances the logs are shifted by the men themselves, who “jack”
them with a dexterity astonishing to the townsmen. Mainly, the
journey to the mill is made either by tramway or water. Where a deep
river is at hand, floating timber is a comparatively simple business.
But more often the logs have to slide, be rolled or be hauled, into the
beds of streams or creeks that may be half dry for months together. To
obtain the needful depth of water, dams are often built, above which
the logs accumulate in numbers and stay floating while their owners
wait patiently for a fresh. Or the timber may remain stranded, in
shallow creeks or in the reeds or stones of dwindled rivers. At length
the rain-storm bursts, the sluices of the dams are hastily opened, and
the logs in great companies start on their swim for the sea-coast. A
heavy flood may mean loss to farmer and gardener, and be a nuisance to
travellers; but to the saw-millers of a province it may be like the
breaking-up of a long drought. They rub their hands and tell you that
they have not had such a turn of luck for a twelvemonth,--“millions of
feet were brought down yesterday!” As the rains descend and the floods
come, their men hurry away to loosen barriers, start logs on their
way, or steer them in their course. Wild is the rush of the timber
as it is thus swept away, not in long orderly rafts such as one sees
zigzagging along on the Elbe or St. Lawrence, but in a frantic mob of
racing logs, spinning round, rolled over and over, colliding, plunging
and reappearing in the swirling water. Rafts you may see in the
ordinary way being towed down the Wairoa River to the Kaipara harbour
by steam tugs. But in flood-time, when thousands of logs are taking
an irresponsible course towards the ocean, the little steamers have
a more exciting task. It is theirs to chase the logs, which, rolling
and bobbing like schools of escaping whales, have to be caught and
towed to some boom or harbourage near the saw-mill for which they are
destined. Otherwise they may become imbedded in tidal mud, or may drift
away to sea and be lost. Logs bearing the marks of Auckland saw-millers
have been found ere now stranded on distant beaches after a voyage of
several hundred miles.

Like axemen and log-rollers, the river hands who look after dams and
floating logs have their accidents and hairbreadth escapes. They have
to trust to courage and to an amphibious dexterity, of which they
exhibit an ample share. Watch a man standing upright on a log huge
enough to be a mast, and poling it along as though it were a punt.
That looks easier than it is. But watch the same man without any pole
controlling a rolling log and steering it with feet alone. That does
not even look easy. Some years ago, it is said, a mill hand, when
opening a dam in a rain-storm, fell into the flood and was swept down
among the released timber. Amid the crash of tumbling logs he was
carried over the dam and over a waterfall farther down stream. Yet he
reached the bank with no worse injury than a broken wrist! I tell the
tale as it was printed in an Auckland newspaper.



CHAPTER V

FIRE AND WATER


A long time ago, that is to say, in the twilight of Maori tradition,
the chief Ngatoro and his wife, attended by a slave, landed on the
shores of the Bay of Plenty. Thence they wandered inland through
forests and over ferny downs, reaching at last a great central lake,
beyond which high mountains stood sentry in the very heart of the
island. One of these snow-clad summits they resolved to gain; but
half-way on the climb the slave fell ill of sheer cold. Then the chief
bethought him that in the Bay of Plenty he had noticed an island
steaming and smoking, boiling with heat. Hot coals brought thence
might warm the party and save the slave’s life. So Ngatoro, who was
magician as well as chieftain, looked eastward and made incantations;
and soon the fire rushing through the air fell at his feet. Another
more prosaic version of the tale says that, Maori fashion, the
kind-hearted hero despatched a messenger to bring the fire; he sent
his wife. She, traversing land and sea at full speed, was soon back
from White Island with a calabash full of glowing embers. From this,
as she hurried along, sparks dropped here and there on her track. And
wherever these fell the earth caught fire, hot springs bubbled up,
and steam-jets burst through the fern. All her haste, however, went
for nought; the slave died. Furious at his loss, her lord and master
flung the red embers down one of the craters of Mount Tongariro, and
from that day to this the mountains of Taupo have been filled with
volcanic fires, smouldering or breaking out in eruption.[1] Such is one
of the many legends which have grown up round the lakes and summits
of the most famous volcanic province of New Zealand. It indicates
the Maori understanding that the high cones south-west of Lake Taupo
are one end of a chain of volcanic forces, and that the other end is
White Island (Whaka-ari), the isolated crater which lifts its head
above the sea twenty-seven miles out in the wide Bay of Plenty. It is
a natural sulphur factory. Seen from the shores of the bay it looks
peaceful enough. Its only peculiarity seems to be a white cloud rising
high or streaming on the wind to leeward from the tip of its cone.
At a distance the cloud appears not unlike other white clouds; but
in the brightest weather it never vanishes away. I once spent three
sunny spring days in riding round the great arc of the Bay of Plenty,
often cantering for miles together along the sandy beach. There, out
to sea, lay White Island always in view and always flying its white
vapour-flag. In reality the quiet-looking islet seethes with fiery
life. Seen at close quarters it is found to be a shell, which from
one side looks comically like the well-worn stump of a hollow tooth.
It is a barren crater near a thousand feet high, enclosing what was a
lake and is now shrunk to a warm green pool, ringed with bright yellow
sulphur. Hot springs boil and roar on the crater-lake’s surface, ever
sending up columns of hissing and roaring steam many hundred feet
into the air. At times, as in 1886, the steam has shot to the almost
incredible height of fifteen thousand feet, a white pillar visible a
hundred miles away. You may thrust a stick through the floor of the
crater into the soft hot paste beneath. The walls of the abyss glow
with heat, steam-jets hiss from their fissures, and on the outside is a
thick crust of sulphur. The reek of the pit’s fumes easily outdoes that
of the blackest and most vicious of London fogs. “It is not that soft
smell of Roto-rua,” wrote Mr. Buddle, who smelt the place in 1906, “but
an odour of sulphurous acid which sticks in one’s throat.” Yet commerce
once tried to lay hands on White Island, and men were found willing to
try and work amid its noisome activities. Commerce, however, failed to
make Tartarus pay. Not far away from White Island lies Mayor Island,
which once upon a time must have been an even stranger spot. It also is
a high crater. On the rim of its yawning pit are to be seen the ruins
of a Maori stockade, which, perched in mid-air and approachable only
over the sea, must have been a hard nut for storming parties to crack
in the bygone days of tribal wars. All is quiet now; the volcano has
died out and the wars have become old tales.

[1] After writing this page I found that Mr. Percy Smith, formerly
Surveyor-General, gives another version of the legend. He tells how
the hero Ngatoro, landing on the shore of the Bay of Plenty, went
inland, and, with a companion named Ngauruhoe, climbed Tongariro. Near
the summit, Ngauruhoe died of cold, and Ngatoro, himself half-frozen,
shouted to his sisters far away in the legendary island of Hawaiki to
bring fire. His cry reached them far across the ocean, and they started
to his rescue. Whenever they halted--as at White Island--and lit their
camp fire, geysers spouted up from the ground. But when at length they
reached Tongariro, it was only to find that Ngatoro, tired of waiting
for them, had gone back to the coast.

A fourth version of the legend is contained in a paper by Mr. H. Hill
in vol. xxiv. of the _Transactions of the N.Z. Institute_.

Needless to say, the scenes between Ruapehu and the sea-coast are not
all as terrific as this. The main charm of the volcanic province is,
indeed, its variety. Though in a sense its inhabitants live on the lid
of a boiler--a boiler, too, that is perforated with steam holes--still
it is a lid between five thousand and six thousand square miles in
size. This leaves ample room for broad tracts where peace reigns amid
apparent solidity and security. Though it is commonly called the Hot
Lakes District, none of its larger lakes are really hot, that is to say
hot throughout; they are distinctly cold. Roto-mahana before it was
blown up in the eruption of 1886 was in no part less than lukewarm; but
in those days Roto-mahana only covered 185 acres. At Ohinemutu there
is a pool the water of which is unmistakably hot throughout; but it is
not more than about a hundred yards long. Usually the hot lagoons are
patchy in temperature--boiling at one end, cool at the other. Perhaps
the official title, Thermal Springs District, is more accurate. The
hot water comes in the form of springs, spouts, and geysers. Boiling
pools there are in numbers, veritable cauldrons. Boiling springs burst
up on the beaches of the cold lakes, or bubble up through the chilly
waters. The bather can lie floating, as the writer has, with his feet
in hot and his head in cold water. Very agreeable the sensation is as
the sunshine pours from a blue sky on to a lagoon fringed with ferns
and green foliage. There are places where the pedestrian fording a
river may feel his legs chilled to the marrow by the swift current, and
yet find the sandy bottom on which he is treading almost burn the soles
of his feet. The first white traveller to describe the thermal springs
noted a cold cascade falling on an orifice from which steam was puffing
at intervals. The resultant noise was as strange as the sight. So do
hot and cold mingle and come into conflict in the thermal territory.

[Illustration: “THE DRAGON’S MOUTH”]

The area of this hydro-thermal district, which Mr. Percy Smith, the
best living authority on the subject, calls the Taupo volcanic zone,
is roundly about six thousand square miles. As already said, part of
it lies under the sea, above which only White Island, Mayor Island,
and Whale Island rise to view. Its shape, if we could see the whole
of it, would probably be a narrow oval, like an old-fashioned silver
hand-mirror with a slender handle. In the handle two active volcanoes
lift their heads--Ruapehu, and Tongariro with its three cones. At
the other end of the mirror White Island stands up, incessantly at
work. This exhausts the list of active volcanoes; but there are six
or seven extinct or quiescent volcanoes of first-class importance.
Mayor Island, in the Bay of Plenty, is a dead crater rimmed by walls
five miles round and nearly 1300 feet high, enclosing a terrible chasm
lined with dark obsidian. Mount Edgecombe, an admirably regular cone,
easily seen from the coast, has two craters in its summit; and the
most appalling explosion ever known in the country occurred in the
tract covered by Mount Tarawera and the Roto-mahana Lake. How terrific
were the forces displayed by these extinct volcanoes in ages past
may be judged by the vast extent of country overlaid by the pumice
and volcanic clay belched forth from their craters. Not only is the
volcanic zone generally overspread with this, only sparse patches
escaping, but pumice is found outside its limits. Within these, it
is, loosely speaking, pumice, pumice everywhere, dry, gritty, and
useless,--a thin scattering of pumice on the hill-tops and steep
slopes,--deep strata of pumice where it has been washed down into
valleys and river terraces. Mingled with good soil it is mischievous,
though two or three grasses, notably that called Chewing’s fescue, grow
well in the mixture. Unmixed pumice is porous and barren. Fortunately
the tracts of deep pumice are limited. They soak up the ample rainfall;
grass grows, but soon withers; in dry weather a sharp tug will drag a
tussock from the roots in the loose, thirsty soil. The popular belief
is that it only needs a long-continued process of stamping and rolling
to make these pumice expanses hold water and become fertile. Those
who think thus point out that around certain lonely lagoons,
where wild horses and cattle have been wont to camp and roll, rich
green patches of grass are found. Less hopeful observers hold that the
destiny of the pumice country is probably to grow trees, fruit-bearing
and other, whose deep roots will reach far down to the water.
Already the Government, acting on this belief, has taken the work of
tree-planting in hand, and millions of young saplings are to be found
in the Waiotapu valley and elsewhere in the pumice land. Prison-labour
is used for the purpose; and though a camp of convicts, with movable
prison-vans like the cages of a travelling menagerie, seems a strange
foil to the wonders of Nature, the toil is healthy for the men as well
as useful to the country. From the vast extent of the pumice and clay
layers it would seem that, uneasy as the thermal territory now is, it
has, for all its geysers, steaming cones, and innumerable springs,
become but a fretful display of slowly dying forces. So say those who
look upon the great catastrophe of 1886 as merely the flicker of a
dying flame.

[Illustration: HUKA FALLS]

As already said, the volcanic zone is a land of lakes, many and
beautiful. Four of the most interesting--Roto-rua, Roto-iti, Roto-ehu,
and Roto-ma--lie in a chain, like pieces of silver loosely strung
together. South of these Tarawera sleeps in sight of its terrible
mountain, and south again of Tarawera the hot springs of Roto-mahana
still draw sight-seers, though its renowned terraces are no longer
there. Lake Okataina is near, resting amid unspoiled forest: and there
is Roto-kakahi, the green lake, and, hard by, Tikitapu, the blue lake,
beautiful by contrast. But, of course, among all the waters Taupo
easily overpeers the rest. “The Sea” the Maori call it; and indeed
it is so large, and its whole expanse so easily viewed at once from
many heights, that it may well be taken to be greater than it is. It
covers 242 square miles, but the first white travellers who saw it and
wrote about it guessed it to be between three and five hundred. Hold
a fair-sized map of the district with the eastern side uppermost and
you will note that the shape of Taupo is that of an ass’s head with
the ears laid back. This may seem an irreverent simile for the great
crater lake, with its deep waters and frowning cliffs, held so sacred
and mysterious by the Maori of old. Seldom is its surface flecked by
any sail, and only one island of any size breaks the wide expanse. The
glory of Taupo--apart from the noble view of the volcanoes southward
of it--is a long rampart of cliffs that almost without a break hems
in its western side mile after mile. At their highest they reach 1100
feet. So steep are they that in flood-time cascades will make a clean
leap from their summits into the lake; and the sheer descent of the
wall continues below the surface, for, within a boat’s length of the
overhanging cliff, sounding-leads have gone down 400 feet. Many are
the waterfalls which in the stormier months of the year seam the rocky
faces with white thread-like courses. On a finer scale than the others
are the falls called Mokau, which, dashing through a leafy cleft, pour
into the deep with a sounding plunge, and, even from a distance, look
something broader and stronger than the usual white riband.

By contrast, on the eastern side of the lake wide strips of beach are
not uncommon, and the banks, plains, and terrace sides of whitish
pumice, though not inconsiderable, are but tame when compared with
the dark basaltic and trachytic heights overhanging the deep western
waters. Many streams feed Taupo; only one river drains it. It is
not astonishing, then, that the Maori believed that in the centre a
terrible whirlpool circled round a great funnel down which water was
sucked into the bowels of the earth. A variant of this legend was
that a huge _taniwha_ or saurian monster haunted the western depths,
ready and willing to swallow canoes and canoemen together. The river
issuing from Taupo is the Waikato, which cuts through the rocky lip
of the crater-lake at its north-east corner. There it speeds away as
though rejoicing to escape, with a strong clear current about two
hundred yards wide. Then, pent suddenly between walls of hard rock,
it is jammed into a deep rift not more than seventy feet across.
Boiling and raging, the whole river shoots from the face of a steep
tree-clothed cliff with something of the force of a horizontal geyser.
Very beautiful is the blue and silver column as it falls, with outer
edges dissolving into spray, into the broad and almost quiet expanse
below. This waterfall, the Huka, though one of the famous sights
of the island, does not by any means exhaust the beauties of the
Upper Waikato. A little lower down the Ara-tia-tia Rapids furnish a
succession of spectacles almost as fine. There for hundreds of yards
the river, a writhing serpent of blue and milk-white flecked with
silver, tears and zig-zags, spins and foams, among the dripping reefs
and between high leafy rocks, “wild with the tumult of tumbling waters.”

Broadly speaking, the Taupo plateau is a region of long views. Cold
nights are more often than not followed by sunny days. The clear and
often brilliant air enables the eye to travel over the nearer plains
and hills to where some far-off mountain chain almost always closes
the prospect. The mountains are often forest-clad, the plains and
terraces usually open. Here will be seen sheets of stunted bracken;
there, wide expanses of yellowish tussock-grass. The white pumice and
reddish-brown volcanic clay help to give a character to the colouring
very different to the black earth and vivid green foliage of other
parts of the island. The smooth glacis-like sides of the terraces,
and the sharply-cut ridges of the hills, seem a fit setting for the
perpetual display of volcanic forces and an adjunct in impressing
on the traveller that he is in a land that has been fashioned on a
strange design. Nothing in England, and very little in Europe, remotely
resembles it. Only sometimes on the dusty tableland of Central Spain,
in Old or New Castile, may the New Zealander be reminded of the long
views and strong sunlight, or the shining slopes leading up to blue
mountain ranges cutting the sky with clean lines.

[Illustration: ARA-TIA-TIA RAPIDS]

Some of the finest landscape views in the central North Island are
to be seen from points of vantage on the broken plateau to the westward
of Ruapehu. On the one side the huge volcanic mass, a sloping rampart
many miles long, closes the scene; on the other, the land, falling
towards the coast, is first scantily clothed with coarse tussock-grass
and then with open park-like forest. The timber grows heavier towards
the coast, and in the river valleys where the curling Wanganui and the
lesser streams Waitotara and Patea run between richly-draped cliffs to
the sea. Far westward above the green expanse of foliage--soon to be
hewn by the axe and blackened by fire--the white triangle of Egmont’s
cone glimmers through faint haze against the pale horizon.

Between Taupo and the eastern branch of the Upper Wanganui ran a
foot-track much used by Maori travellers in days of yore. At one point
it wound beneath a steep hill on the side of which a projecting ledge
of rock formed a wide shallow cave. Beneath this convenient shelf it
is said that a gang of Maori highwaymen were once wont to lurk on the
watch for wayfarers, solitary or in small parties. At a signal they
sprang out upon these, clubbed them to death, and dragged their bodies
to the cave. There these cannibal bush-rangers gorged themselves on
the flesh of their victims. I tell the story on the authority of the
missionary Taylor, who says that he climbed to the cave, and standing
therein saw the ovens used for the horrid meals and the scattered bones
of the human victims. If he was not imposed upon, the story supplies a
curious exception to Maori customs. Their cannibalism was in the main
practised at the expense of enemies slain or captured in inter-tribal
wars; and they had distinct if peculiar prejudices in favour of fair
fighting. I have read somewhere that in the Drakensberg Mountains above
Natal a similar gang of cannibal robbers was once discovered--Kaffirs
who systematically lured lonely victims into a certain remote ravine,
where they disappeared.

One of the curiosities of the Taupo wilderness is the flat-topped
mountain Horo-Horo. Steep, wooded slopes lead up to an unbroken ring
of precipices encircling an almost level table-top. To the eyes of
riders or coach-passengers on the road between Taupo and Roto-rua, the
brows of the cliffs seem as inaccessible as the crown of Roraima in
British Guiana in the days before Mr. Im Thurn scaled it. The Maori own
Horo-Horo, and have villages and cultivations on the lower slopes where
there is soil fertile beyond what is common thereabout. Another strange
natural fortress not far away is Pohaturoa, a tusk of lava, protruding
some eight hundred feet hard by the course of the Waikato and in full
view of a favourite crossing-place. Local guides are, or used to be,
fond of comparing this eminence with Gibraltar, to which--except that
both are rocks--it bears no manner of likeness.

The Japanese, as we know, hold sacred their famous volcano Fusiyama.
In the same way the Maori in times past regarded Tongariro and
Ruapehu as holy ground. But, whereas the Japanese show reverence
to Fusi by making pilgrimages to its summit in tens of thousands,
the Maori veneration of their great cones took a precisely opposite
shape,--they would neither climb them themselves nor allow others to
do so. The earlier white travellers were not only refused permission
to mount to the summit, but were not even allowed to set foot on the
lower slopes. In 1845 the artist George French Angas could not even
obtain leave to make a sketch of Tongariro, though he managed to do
so by stealth. Six years earlier Bidwill eluded native vigilance
and actually reached the summit of one of the cones, probably that
of Ngauruhoe, but when, after peering down through the sulphurous
clouds of the inaccessible gulf, he made his way back to the shores
of Lake Taupo, the local chieftain gave him a very bad quarter of an
hour indeed. This personage, known in New Zealand story as Old Te Heu
Heu, was one of the most picturesque figures of his race. His great
height--“nearly seven feet,” says one traveller; “a complete giant,”
writes another--his fair complexion, almost classic features, and
great bodily strength are repeatedly alluded to by the whites who saw
him; not that whites had that privilege every day, for Te Heu Heu held
himself aloof among his own people, defied the white man, and refused
to sign the treaty of Waitangi or become a liegeman of the Queen. His
tribesmen had a proverb--“Taupo is the Sea; Tongariro is the Mountain;
Te Heu Heu is the Man.” This they would repeat with the air of men
owning a proprietary interest in the Atlantic Ocean, Kinchin Junga,
and Napoleon. He was indeed a great chief, and a perfect specimen of
the Maori _Rangatira_ or gentleman. He considered himself the special
guardian of the volcanoes. Like him they were _tapu_--“_tapu’d_ inches
thick,” as the author of _Old New Zealand_ would say. Indeed, when
his subjects journeyed by a certain road, from one turn of which they
could view the cone of Ngauruhoe, they were expected at the critical
spot to veil their eyes with their mats so as not to look on the holy
summit. At any rate, Bidwill declares that they told him so. Small
wonder, therefore, if this venturesome trespasser came in for a severe
browbeating from the offended Te Heu Heu, who marched up and down his
_wharé_ breaking out into passionate speech. Bidwill asserts that he
pacified the great man by so small a present as three figs of tobacco.
Of course, it is possible that in 1839 tobacco was more costly at Taupo
than in after years. The Maori version of the incident differs from
Bidwill’s.

In the uneasy year of 1845 Te Heu Heu marched down to the Wanganui
coast at the head of a strong war-party. The scared settlers were
thankful to find that he did not attack them. He was, indeed, after
other game, and was bent on squaring accounts with a local tribe which
had shed the blood of his people. Bishop Selwyn, who happened to be
then in the neighbourhood, saw and spoke with the highland chieftain,
urging peace. The interviews must have been worth watching. On the one
side stood the typical barbarian, eloquent, fearless, huge of limb,
with handsome face and maize-coloured complexion, and picturesque
in kilt, cloak, and head-feather. On the other side was a bishop in
hard training, a Christian gentleman, as fine as English culture
could furnish, whose clean-cut aquiline face and unyielding mouth had
the becoming support of a tall, vigorous frame lending dignity to
his clerical garb. Here was the heathen determined to save his tribe
from the white man’s grasping hands and dissolving religion; there
the missionary seeing in conversion and civilisation the only hope of
preserving the Maori race. Death took Te Heu Heu away before he had
time to see his policy fail. Fate was scarcely so kind to Selwyn, who
lived to see the Ten-Years’ War wreck most of his life’s work among the
natives.

As far as I know, Te Heu Heu never crossed weapons with white men,
though he allied himself with our enemies and gave shelter to
fugitives. His region was regarded as inaccessible in the days of good
Governor Grey. He was looked upon as a kind of Old Man of the Mountain,
and in Auckland they told you stories of his valour, hospitality,
choleric temper, and his six--or was it eight?--wives. So the old chief
stayed unmolested, and met his end with his _mana_ in no way abated. It
was a fitting end: the soil which he guarded so tenaciously overwhelmed
him. The steep hill-side over his village became loosened by heavy rain
and rotted by steam and sulphur-fumes. It began to crack and slip away.
According to one account, a great land-slip descending in the night
buried the _kainga_ and all in it save one man. Another story states
that the destruction came in the day-time, and that Te Heu Heu refused
to flee. He was said to have stood erect, confronting the avalanche,
with flashing eyes, and with his white hair blown by the wind. At any
rate, the soil of his ancestress the Earth (he claimed direct descent
from her) covered him, and for a while his body lay there. After some
time his tribe disinterred it, and laying it on a carved and ornamented
bier, bore it into the mountains with the purpose of casting it down
the burning crater of Tongariro. The intention was dramatic, but the
result was something of an anticlimax. When nearing their journey’s end
the bearers were startled by the roar of an eruption. They fled in a
panic, leaving the remains of their hero to lie on the steep side of
the cone on some spot never identified. There they were probably soon
hidden by volcanic dust, and so, “ashes to ashes,” slowly mingled with
the ancestral mass.[2]

[2] The accepted tradition of Te Heu Heu’s funeral is that given
above. After these pages went to the printer, however, I lighted upon
a newspaper article by Mr. Malcolm Ross, in which that gentleman
states that the bier and the body of the chief were not abandoned on
the mountain-side, but were hidden in a cave still known to certain
members of the tribe. The present Te Heu Heu, says Mr. Ross, talks of
disinterring his ancestor’s remains and burying them near the village
of Te Rapa.

[Illustration: LAKE TAUPO]

The chiefs of the Maori were often their own minstrels. To compose
a panegyric on a predecessor was for them a worthy task. Te Heu Heu
himself was no mean poet. His lament for one of his forefathers has
beauty, and, in Mr. James Cowan’s version, is well known to
New Zealand students. But as a poem it was fairly eclipsed by the
funeral ode to his own memory composed and recited by his brother and
successor. The translation of this characteristic Maori poem, which
appeared in Surgeon-Major Thomson’s book, has been out of print for so
many years that I may reproduce some portions of it here:--

    See o’er the heights of dark Pauhara’s mount
    The infant morning wakes. Perhaps my friend
    Returns to me clothed in that lightsome cloud.
    Alas! I toil alone in this lone world.

                          Yes, thou art gone!
    Go, thou mighty! go, thou dignified!
    Go, thou who wert a spreading tree to shade
    Thy people all when evil hovered round!

    Sleep on, O Chief, in that dark, damp abode!
    And hold within thy grasp that weapon rare
    Bequeathed by thy renownéd ancestor.

    Turn yet this once thy bold athletic frame,
    And let me see thy skin carved o’er with lines
    Of blue; and let me see again thy face
    Beautifully chiselled into varied forms!

    Cease, cease thy slumbers, O thou son of Rangi!
    Wake up! and take thy battle-axe, and tell
    Thy people of the coming signs, and what
    Will now befall them. How the foe, tumultuous
    As are the waves, will rush with spears uplifted,
    And how thy people will avenge their wrongs.

    No, thou art fallen; and the earth receives
    Thee as its prey! But yet thy wondrous fame
    Shall soar on high, resounding o’er the heavens

Loosely speaking, New Zealand is a volcanic archipelago. There are hot
pools and a noted sanatorium in the Hanmer plains in the middle of the
Middle Island. There are warm springs far to the north of Auckland,
near Ohaeawai, where the Maori once gave our troops a beating in the
early days of our race-conflict with them. Auckland itself, the queen
of New Zealand towns, is almost a crater city. At any rate, it is
surrounded by dead craters. You are told that from a hill-top in the
suburbs you may count sixty-three volcanic cones. Two sister towns,
Wellington and Christchurch, have been repeatedly taken and well
shaken by Mother Earth. Old Wellington settlers will gravely remind
you that some sixty years ago a man, an inoffensive German baron,
lost his life in a shock there. True, he was not swallowed up or
crushed by falling ruins; a mirror fell from a wall on to his head.
This earthquake was followed in 1855 by another as sharp, and one of
the two so alarmed a number of pioneer settlers that they embarked
on shipboard to flee from so unquiet a land. Their ship, however, so
the story runs, went ashore near the mouth of Wellington harbour, and
they returned to remain, and, in some cases, make their fortunes. In
1888 a double shock of earthquake wrecked some feet of the cathedral
spire at Christchurch, nipping off the point of it and the gilded iron
cross which it sustained, so that it stood for many months looking
like a broken lead-pencil. A dozen years later, Cheviot, Amuri, and
Waiau were sharply shaken by an earthquake that showed scant mercy
to brick chimneys and houses of the material known as cob-and-clay.
Finally, in the little Kermadec islets, far to the north of Cape
Maria Van Diemen, we encounter hot pools and submarine explosions,
and passing seamen have noted there sheets of ejected pumice floating
and forming a scum on the surface of the ocean. As might be supposed,
guides and hangers-on about Roto-rua and Taupo revel in tales of
hairbreadth escapes and hair-raising fatalities. Nine generations ago,
say the Maori, a sudden explosion of a geyser scalded to death half
the villagers of Ohinemutu. In the way of smaller mishaps you are told
how, as two Maori children walked together by Roto-mahana one slipped
and broke through the crust of silica into the scalding mud beneath.
The other, trying to lift him out, was himself dragged in and both were
boiled alive. Near Ohinemutu, three revellers, overfull of confidence
and bad rum, stepped off a narrow track at night and perished together
in sulphurous mud and scalding steam. At the extremity of Boiling Point
a village, or part of a village, is said to have been suddenly engulfed
in the waters of Roto-rua. At the southern end of Taupo there is, or
was, a legend current that a large _wharé_ filled with dancers met,
in a moment, a similar fate. In one case of which I heard, that of a
Maori woman, who fell into a pool of a temperature above boiling-point,
a witness assured me that she did not appear to suffer pain long: the
nervous system was killed by the shock. Near Roto-rua a bather with
a weak heart was picked up dead. He had heedlessly plunged into a
pool the fumes and chemical action of which are too strong for a weak
man. And a certain young English tourist sitting in the pool nicknamed
Painkiller was half-poisoned by mephitic vapour, and only saved by the
quickness of a Maori guide. That was a generation ago: nowadays the
traveller need run no risks. Guides and good medical advice are to be
had by all who will use them. No sensible person need incur any danger
whatever.

Among stories of the boiling pools the most pathetic I can recall is of
a collie dog. His master, a shepherd of the Taupo plateau, stood one
day on the banks of a certain cauldron idly watching the white steam
curling over the bubbling surface. His well-loved dog lay stretched on
the mud crust beside him. In a thoughtless moment the shepherd flung a
stick into the clear blue pool. In a flash the dog had sprung after it
into the water of death. Maddened by the poor creature’s yell of pain,
his master rushed to the brink, mechanically tearing off his coat as he
ran. In another instant he too would have flung himself to destruction.
Fortunately an athletic Maori who was standing by caught the poor man
round the knees, threw him on to his back and held him down till all
was over with the dog.

[Illustration: IN A HOT POOL]

Near a well-known lake and in a _wharé_ so surrounded by boiling mud,
scalding steam, hot water, and burning sulphur as to be difficult of
approach, there lived many years ago two friends. One was a teetotaller
and a deeply religious man--characteristics not universal in the Hot
Lakes district at that precise epoch. The other inhabitant was
more nearly normal in tastes and beliefs. The serious-minded friend
became noted for having--unpaid, and with his own hands--built a chapel
in the wilderness. Yet, unhappily, returning home on a thick rainy
evening he slipped and fell into a boiling pool, where next day he was
found--dead, of course. In vain the oldest inhabitants of the district
sought to warn the survivor. He declined to be terrified, or to change
either his dangerous abode or his path thereto. He persisted in walking
home late at night whenever it suited him to do so. The “old hands” of
the district shook their heads and prophesied that there could be but
one end to such recklessness. And, sure enough, on a stormy night the
genial and defiant Johnnie slipped in his turn and fell headlong into
the pool which had boiled his mate. One wild shout he gave, and men
who were within earshot tore to the spot--“Poor old Johnnie! Gone at
last! We always said he would!” Out of the darkness and steam, however,
they were greeted with a sound of vigorous splashing and of expressions
couched in strong vernacular.

“Why, Johnnie man, aren’t you dead? Aren’t you boiled to death?”

“Not I! There’s no water in this ---- country hot enough to boil me.
Help me out!”

It appeared that the torrents of rain which had been falling had
flooded a cold stream hard by, and this, overflowing into the pool, had
made it pleasantly tepid.

[Illustration: NGONGOTAHA MOUNTAIN]

Needless to say, there is one fatal event, the story of which
overshadows all other stories told of the thermal zone. It is the one
convulsion of Nature there, since the settlement of New Zealand, that
has been great enough to become tragically famous throughout the world,
apart from its interest to science. The eruption of Mount Tarawera was
a magnificent and terrible spectacle. Accompanied as it was by the
blowing-up of Lake Roto-mahana, it destroyed utterly the beautiful
and extraordinary Pink and White Terraces. There can be no doubt that
most of those who saw them thought the lost Pink and White Terraces
the finest sight in the thermal region. They had not the grandeur of
the volcanoes and the lakes, or the glorious energy of the geysers;
but they were an astonishing combination of beauty of form and colour,
of what looked like rocky massiveness with the life and heat of water
in motion. Then there was nothing else of their kind on the earth at
all equal to them in scale and completeness. So they could fairly be
called unique, and the gazer felt on beholding them that in a sense
this was the vision of a lifetime. Could those who saw them have known
that the spectacle was to be so transient, this feeling must have been
much keener. For how many ages they existed in the ferny wilderness,
seen only by a few savages, geologists may guess at. Only for about
twelve years were they the resort of any large number of civilised
men. It is strange how little their fame had gone abroad before
Hochstetter described them after seeing them in 1859. Bidwill, who was
twice at Roto-rua in 1839, never mentions them. The naturalist
Dieffenbach, who saw them in 1842, dismisses them in a paragraph,
laudatory but short. George French Angas, the artist, who was the
guest of Te Heu Heu in 1845, and managed, against express orders, to
sketch Tongariro, does not seem to have heard of them. Yet he of all
men might have been expected to get wind of such a marvel. For a marvel
they were, and short as was the space during which they were known to
the world, their fame must last until the Fish of Maui is engulfed in
the ocean. There, amid the green manuka and rusty-green bracken, on
two hill-sides sloping down to a lake of moderate size--Roto-mahana or
Warm Lake,--strong boiling springs gushed out. They rose from two broad
platforms, each about a hundred yards square, the flooring of craters
with reddish-brown sides streaked and patched with sulphur. Their
hot water, after seething and swirling in two deep pools, descended
to the lake over a series of ledges, basins, or hollowed terraces,
which curved out as boldly as the swelling canvas of a ship, so that
the balustrades or battlements--call them what you will--seemed the
segments of broken circles. Their irregular height varied from two to
six feet, and visitors could scale them, as in Egypt they climb the
pyramids. One terrace, or rather set of terraces, was called White,
the other Pink: but the White were tinged lightly with pink in spots,
and their rosy sisters paled here and there, so as to become nearly
colourless in places. “White,” moreover, scarcely conveys the exact
impression of Te Tarata, except from a distance or under strong light.
Domett’s “cataract of marble” summed it up finely. But to be precise,
where it was smoothest and where water and the play of light made
the surface gleam or glisten, the silica coating of the White ledges
reminded you rather of old ivory, or polished bone tinted a faint
yellow. As for the “Pink” staircase, one traveller would describe it as
bright salmon-pink, another as pale rose, for eyes in different heads
see the same things differently. The White Terrace was the higher of
the two, and descended with a gentler slope than the other. The skirts
of both spread out into the lake, so that its waters flowed over them.
The number and fine succession of these ivory arcs and rosy battlements
made but half their charm. The hot water as it trickled from shelf to
shelf left its flinty sediment in delicate incrustations--here like the
folds of a mantle, there resembling fringing lace-work, milk outpoured
and frozen, trailing parasites or wild arabesques. Or it made you think
of wreathed sea-foam, snow half-melted, or the coral of South Sea
reefs. Then among it lay the blue pools, pool after pool, warm, richly
coloured, glowing; while over every edge and step fell the water,
trickling, spurting, sparkling, and steaming as it slowly cooled on its
downward way. So that, though there was a haunting reminder of human
architecture and sculpture, there was none of the smug finish of man’s
buildings, nothing of the cold dead lifelessness of carved stone-work.
The sun shone upon it, the wind played with the water-drops. The blue
sky--pale by contrast--overarched the deeper blue of the pools. Green
mosses and vivid ferns grew and flourished on the very edge of the
steam. What sculptor’s frieze or artist’s structure ever had such a
framework? In the genial water the bathers, choosing their temperature,
could float or sit, breathing unconfined air and wondering at the
softness and strange intensity of colour. They could bathe in the
day-time when all was sunshine, or on summer nights when the moonlight
turned the ledges to alabaster. Did the tribute of his provinces build
for Caracalla such imperial baths as these? No wonder that Nature,
after showing such loveliness to our age for a moment, snatched it away
from the desecration of scribbling, defacing, civilised men!

The eruption of Tarawera was preceded by many signs of disturbance.
Science in chronicling them seems to turn gossip and collect portents
with the gusto of Plutarch or Froissart. The calamity came on the 10th
of June, and therefore in early winter. The weather had been stormy
but had cleared, so no warning could be extracted from its behaviour.
But, six months before, the cauldron on the uppermost platform of Te
Tarata had broken out in strange fashion. Again and again the water
had shrunk far down, and had even been sucked in to the supplying
pipe, leaving the boiling pit, thirty yards across and as many feet
deep, quite dry. Then suddenly the water had boiled up and a geyser, a
mounting column or dome many feet in thickness, had shot up into the
air, struggling aloft to the height of a hundred and fifty feet. From
it there went up a pillar of steam four or five times as high, with a
sound heard far and wide. Geyser-like as the action of the terrace-pool
had been, nothing on this scale had been recorded before. Then from the
Bay of Plenty came the news that thousands of dead fish had been cast
up on the beaches, poisoned by the fumes of some submarine explosion.
Furthermore, the crater-lake in White Island suddenly went dry--another
novelty. Next, keen-eyed observers saw steam issuing from the top of
Ruapehu. They could scarcely believe their eyes, for Ruapehu had been
quiescent as far back as man’s memory went. But there was no doubt of
it. Two athletic surveyors clambered up through the snows, and there,
as they looked down four hundred feet on the crater-lake from the
precipices that ringed it in, they saw the surface of the water lifted
and shaken, and steam rising into the icy air. Later on, just before
the catastrophe, the Maori by Roto-mahana lost their chief by sickness.
As he lay dying some of his tribe saw a strange canoe, paddled by
phantom warriors, glide across the lake and disappear. The number of
men in the canoe was thirteen, and as they flitted by their shape
changed and they became spirits with dogs’ heads. The tribe, struck
with terror, gave up hope for their chief. He died, and his body lay
not yet buried when the fatal night came. Lastly, on the day before
the eruption, without apparent cause, waves rose and swept across
the calm surface of Lake Tarawera, to the alarm of the last party of
tourists who visited the Terrace. Dr. Ralph, one of these, noted also
that soft mud had apparently just been ejected from the boiler of the
Pink Terrace, and lay strewn about twenty-five yards away. He and his
friends hastened away, depressed and uneasy.

No one, however, Maori or white, seriously conceived of anything like
the destruction that was impending. The landlord of the Wairoa hotel
grumbled at the native guide Sophia for telling of these ominous
incidents. And a Maori chief, with some followers, went to camp upon
two little islets in Roto-mahana lying handy for the hot bathing-pools.
Why should any one expect that the flat-topped, heavy looking mountain
of Tarawera would burst out like Krakatoa? True, Tarawera means
“burning peak,” but the hill, and its companion Ruawahia, must have
been quiescent for many hundred years. For were not trees growing in
clefts near the summits with trunks as thick as the height of a tall
man? Nor was there any tradition of explosions on the spot. Thirteen
generations ago, said the Maori, a famous chief had been interred
in or near one of the craters, and Nature had never disturbed his
resting-place. The surprise, therefore, was almost complete, and only
the winter season was responsible for the small number of tourists in
the district on the 10th of June. It was about an hour past midnight
when the convulsion began. First came slight shocks of earthquake;
then noises, booming, muttering, and swelling to a roar. The shocks
became sharper. Some of them seemed like strokes of a gigantic hammer
striking upwards. Then, after a shock felt for fifty miles round,
an enormous cloud rose above Tarawera and the mountain spouted fire,
stones, and dust to the heavens. The burning crater illumined the
cloud, so that it glowed like a “pillar of fire by night.” And above
the glow an immense black canopy began to open out and spread for at
least sixty miles, east, north-east and south-east. Seen from far
off it had the shape of a monstrous mushroom. In the earlier hours
of the eruption the outer edges of the mushroom shape were lit up by
vivid streams and flashes of lightning, shooting upward, downward, or
stabbing the dark mass with fierce sidelong thrusts. Forked bolts sped
in fiery zig-zags, or ascended, rocket-fashion, to burst and fall in
flaming fragments. Sounds followed them like the crackling of musketry.
Brilliantly coloured, the flashes were blue, golden or orange, while
some were burning bars of white that stood out, hot and distinct,
across the red of the vomiting crater. But more appalling even than the
cloudy canopy with its choking dust, the tempest, the rocking earth,
or the glare of lightning, was the noise. After two o’clock it became
an awful and unceasing roar, deafening the ears, benumbing the nerves,
and bewildering the senses of the unhappy beings within the ring of
death or imminent danger. It made the windows rattle in the streets
of Auckland one hundred and fifty miles away, and awoke many sleepers
in Nelson at a more incredible distance. And with the swelling of the
roar thick darkness settled down--darkness that covered half a province
for hours. Seven hours after the destruction began, settlers far away
on the sea-coast to the east were eating their morning meals--if they
cared to eat at all--by candle-light. To say that it was a darkness
that could be felt would be to belittle its horrors absurdly--at any
rate near Tarawera. For miles out from the mountain it was a darkness
that smote and killed you--made up as it was of mud and fire, burning
stones, and suffocating dust. Whence came the mud? Partly, no doubt, it
was formed by steam acting on the volcanic dust-cloud; but, in part,
it was the scattered contents of Roto-mahana--a whole lake hurled
skyward, water and ooze together. With Roto-mahana went its shores,
the Terraces, several neighbouring smaller lakes and many springs. Yet
so tremendous was the outburst that even this wreck was not physically
the chief feature of the destruction. That was the great rift, an
irregular cleft, fourteen or fifteen miles long, opened across the
Tarawera and its companion heights. This earth-crack, or succession of
cracks, varied in depth from three hundred to nine hundred feet. To any
one looking down into it from one of the hill-tops commanding it, it
seemed half as deep again. It, and the surrounding black scoria cast up
from its depths, soon became cold and dead; but, continuing as it did
to bear the marks of the infernal fires that had filled it, the great
fissure remained in after years the plainest evidence of that dark
night’s work. When I had a sight of it in 1891, it was the centre of
a landscape still clothed with desolation. The effect was dreary and
unnatural. The deep wound looked an injury to the earth as malign as
it was gigantic. It was precisely such a scene as would have suggested
to a zealot of the Middle Ages a vision of the pit of damnation.

[Illustration: LAKE AND MOUNT TARAWERA]

Until six in the morning the eruption did not slacken at all. Hot
stones and fireballs were carried for miles, and as they fell set huts
and forests on fire. Along with their devastation came a rain of mud,
loading the roofs of habitations and breaking down the branches of
trees. Blasts of hot air were felt, but usually the wind--and it blew
violently--was bitter cold. At one moment a kind of cyclone or tornado
rushed over Lake Tikitapu, prostrating and splintering, as it passed,
the trees close by, and so wrecking a forest famous for its beauty.[3]
What went on at the centre of the eruption no eye ever saw--the great
cloud hid it. The dust shot aloft is variously computed to have risen
six or eight miles. The dust-cloud did not strike down the living as
did the rain of mud, fire, and stones. But its mischief extended over a
much wider area. Half a day’s journey out from the crater it deposited
a layer three inches thick, and it coated even islands miles off the
east coast. By the sea-shore one observer thought the sound of its
falling was like a gentle rain. But the effect of the black sand and
mouse-coloured dust was the opposite of that of rain; for it killed
the pasture, and the settlers could only save their cattle and sheep
by driving them hastily off. Insect life was half destroyed, and many
of the smaller birds shared the fate of the insects. By Lake Roto-iti,
fourteen miles to the north of the crater, Major Mair, listening
to the dropping of the sand and dust, compared it to a soft ooze like
falling snow. It turned the waters of the lake to a sort of soapy grey,
and overspread the surrounding hills with an unbroken grey sheet.
The small bull-trout and crayfish of the lake floated dead on the
surface of the water. After a while birds starved or disappeared. Wild
pheasants came to the school-house seeking for chance crumbs of food,
and hungry rats were seen roaming about on the smooth carpet of dust.

[3] See _The Eruption of Tarawera_, by S. Percy Smith.

[Illustration: MAORI WASHING-DAY, OHINEMUTU]

How did the human inhabitants of the district fare at Roto-rua and
Ohinemutu? Close at hand as they were, no damage was done to life
or limb. They were outside the range of the destroying messengers.
But nearer to the volcano, in and about Roto-mahana, utter ruin was
wrought, and here unfortunately the natives of the Ngati Rangitihi,
living at Wairoa and on some other spots, could not escape. Some of
them, indeed, were encamped at the time on islets in Roto-mahana
itself, and they of course were instantly annihilated in the midst
of the convulsion. Their fellow tribesmen at Wairoa went through a
more lingering ordeal, to meet, nearly all of them, the same death.
About an hour after midnight Mr. Hazard, the Government teacher of the
native school at Wairoa, was with his family roused by the earthquake
shocks. Looking out into the night they saw the flaming cloud go up
from Tarawera, ten miles away. As they watched the spectacle, half in
admiration, half in terror, the father said to his daughter, “If we
were to live a hundred years, we should not see such a sight again.”
He himself did not live three hours, for he died, crushed by the ruin
of his house as it broke down under falling mud and stones. The wreck
of the building was set alight by a shower of fireballs, yet the
schoolmaster’s wife, who was pinned under it by a beam, was dug out
next day and lived. Two daughters survived with her; three children
perished. Other Europeans in Wairoa took refuge in a hotel, where for
hours they stayed, praying and wondering how soon the downpour of
fire, hot stones, mud and dust would break in upon them. In the end
all escaped save one English tourist named Bainbridge. The Maori in
their frail thatched huts were less fortunate; they made little effort
to save themselves, and nearly the whole tribe was blotted out. One
of them, the aged wizard Tukoto, is said to have been dug out alive
after four days: but his hair and beard were matted with the volcanic
stuff that had been rained upon him. The rescuers cut away the hair,
and Tukoto’s strength thereupon departed like Samson’s. At any rate
the old fellow gave up the ghost. In after days he became the chief
figure in a Maori legend, which now accounts for the eruption. It
seems that a short while before it, the wife of a neighbouring chief
had denounced Tukoto for causing the death of her child. Angry at an
unjust charge, the old wizard prayed aloud to the god of earthquakes,
and to the spirit of Ngatoro, the magician who kindled Tongariro, to
send down death upon the chief’s wife and her people. In due
course destruction came, but the gods did not nicely discriminate, so
Tukoto and those round him were overwhelmed along with his enemies.
At another native village not far away the Maori were more fortunate.
They had living among them Sophia the guide, whose _wharé_ was larger
and more strongly built than the common run of their huts. Sophia, too,
was a fine woman, a half-caste, who had inherited calculating power and
presence of mind from her Scotch father. Under her roof half a hundred
scared neighbours came crowding, trusting that the strong supporting
poles would prevent the rain of death from battering it down. When it
showed signs of giving way, Sophia, who kept cool, set the refugees
to work to shore it up with any props that could be found; and in the
end the plucky old woman could boast that no one of those who sought
shelter with her lost their lives.

       *       *       *       *       *

The township of Roto-rua, with its side-shows Ohinemutu and
Whaka-rewa-rewa, escaped in the great eruption scot free, or at any
rate with a light powdering of dust. The place survived to become the
social centre of the thermal country, and now offers no suggestion
of ruin or devastation. It has been taken in hand by the Government,
and is bright, pleasant, and, if anything, too thoroughly comfortable
and modern. It is scientifically drained and lighted with electric
light. Hotels and tidy lodging-houses look out upon avenues planted
with exotic trees. The public gardens cover a peninsula jutting out
into the lake, and their flowery winding paths lead to lawns and
tennis-courts. Tea is served there by Maori waitresses whose caps and
white aprons might befit Kensington Gardens; and a band plays. If the
visitors to Roto-rua do not exactly “dance on the slopes of a volcano,”
at least they chat and listen to music within sight of the vapour of
fumaroles and the steam of hot springs. A steam launch will carry them
from one lake to another, or coaches convey them to watch geysers
made to spout for their diversion. They may picnic and eat sandwiches
in spots where they can listen to muddy cauldrons of what looks like
boiling porridge, sucking and gurgling in disagreeable fashion. Or they
may watch gouts of dun-coloured mud fitfully issuing from cones like
ant-hills--mud volcanoes, to wit.

For the country around is not dead or even sleeping, and within a
circuit of ten miles from Roto-rua there is enough to be seen to
interest an intelligent sight-seer for many days. Personally I do not
think Roto-rua the finest spot in the thermal region. Taupo, with its
lake, river, and great volcanoes, has, to my mind, higher claims. Much
as Roto-rua has to show, I suspect that the Waiotapu valley offers a
still better field to the man of science. However, the die has been
cast, and Roto-rua, as the terminus of the railway and the seat of the
Government sanatorium, has become a kind of thermal capital. There is
no need to complain of this. Its attractions are many, and, when they
are exhausted, you can go thence to any other point of the region. You
may drive to Taupo by one coach-road and return by another, or may
easily reach Waiotapu in a forenoon. Anglers start out from Roto-rua to
fish in a lake and rivers where trout are more than usually abundant.
You can believe if you like that the chief difficulty met with by
Roto-rua fishermen is the labour of carrying home their enormous
catches. But it is, I understand, true that the weight of trout caught
by fly or minnow in a season exceeds forty tons. At any rate--to drop
the style of auctioneers’ advertisements--the trout, chiefly of the
rainbow kind, are very plentiful, and the sport very good. I would say
no harder thing of the attractions of Roto-rua and its circuit than
this,--those who have spent a week there must not imagine that they
have seen the thermal region. They have not even “done” it, still less
do they know it. Almost every part of it has much to interest, and
Roto-rua is the beginning, not the end of it all. I know an energetic
colonist who, when travelling through Italy, devoted one whole day to
seeing Rome. Even he, however, agrees with me that a month is all too
short a time for the New Zealand volcanic zone. Sociable or elderly
tourists have a right to make themselves snug at Roto-rua or Wairakei.
But there are other kinds of travellers; and holiday-makers and lovers
of scenery, students of science, sportsmen, and workers seeking for
the space and fresh air of the wilderness, will do well to go farther
afield.

At Roto-rua, as at other spots in the zone, you are in a realm of
sulphur. It is in the air as well as the water, tickles your throat,
and blackens the silver in your pocket. Amongst many compensating
returns it brightens patches of the landscape with brilliant streaks
of many hues--not yellow or golden only, but orange, green, blue,
blood-red, and even purple. Often where the volcanic mud would be most
dismal the sulphur colours and glorifies it. Alum is found frequently
alongside it, whitening banks and pool in a way that makes Englishmen
think of their chalk downs. One mountain, Maunga Kakaramea (Mount
Striped-Earth), has slopes that suggest an immense Scottish plaid.

[Illustration: WAIROA GEYSER]

But more beautiful than the sulphur stripes or the coloured pools,
and startling and uncommon in a way that neither lakes nor mountains
can be, are the geysers. Since the Pink and White Terraces were blown
up, they are, perhaps, the most striking and uncommon feature of the
region, which, if it had nothing else to display, would still be well
worth a visit. They rival those of the Yellowstone and surpass those
of Iceland. New Zealanders have made a study of geysers, and know that
they are a capricious race. They burst into sudden activity, and as
unexpectedly go to sleep again. The steam-jet of Orakei-Korako, which
shot out of the bank of the Waikato at such an odd angle and astonished
all beholders for a few years, died down inexplicably. So did the
wonderful Waimangu, which threw a column of mud, stones, steam, and
boiling water at least 1500 feet into mid-air. The Waikité Geyser,
after a long rest, began to play again at the time of the Tarawera
eruption. That was natural enough. But why did it suddenly cease to
move after the opening of the railway to Roto-rua, two miles away? Mr.
Ruskin might have sympathised with it for so resenting the intrusion of
commercialism; but tourists did not. Great was the rejoicing when, in
1907, Waikité awoke after a sleep of thirteen years. Curiously enough,
another geyser, Pohutu, seems likewise attentive to public events, for
on the day upon which the Colony became a Dominion it spouted for no
less than fourteen hours, fairly eclipsing the numerous outpourings of
oratory from human rivals which graced the occasion. There are geysers
enough and to spare in the volcanic zone, to say nothing of the chances
of a new performer gushing out at any moment. Some are large enough to
be terrific, others small enough to be playful or even amusing. The
hydrodynamics of Nature are well understood at Roto-rua, where Mr.
Malfroy’s ingenious toy, the artificial geyser, is an exact imitation
of their structure and action. The curious may examine this, or they
may visit the extinct geyser, Te Waro, down the empty pipe of which
a man may be lowered. At fifteen feet below the surface he will find
himself in a vaulted chamber twice as roomy as a ship’s cabin and paved
and plastered with silica. From the floor another pipe leads to lower
subterranean depths. In the days of Te Waro’s activity steam rushing
up into this cavern from below would from time to time force the
water there violently upward: so the geyser played. To-day there are
geysers irritable enough to be set in motion by slices of soap, just
as there are solfataras which a lighted match can make to roar, and
excitable pools which a handful of earth will stir into effervescence.
More impressive are the geysers which spout often, but whose precise
time for showing energy cannot be counted on--which are, in fact, the
unexpected which is always happening. Very beautiful are the larger
geysers, as, after their first roaring outburst and ascent, they stand,
apparently climbing up, their effort to overcome the force of gravity
seeming to grow greater and greater as they climb. Every part of the
huge column seems to be alive; and, indeed, all is in motion within
it. Innumerable little fountains gush up on its sides, to curl back
and fall earthwards. The sunlight penetrates the mass of water, foam,
and steam, catching the crystal drops and painting rainbows which
quiver and dance in the wind. Bravely the column holds up, till, its
strength spent, it falters and sways, and at last falls or sinks slowly
down, subsiding into a seething whirlpool. Brief, as a rule, is the
spectacle, but while the fountain is striving to mount skyward it is
“all a wonder and a wild desire.”

[Illustration: COOKING IN A HOT SPRING]

Two Maori villages, one at Ohinemutu, the other at Whaka-rewa-rewa, are
disordered collections of irregular huts. Among them the brown natives
of the thermal district live and move with a gravity and dignity
that even their half-gaudy, half-dingy European garb cannot wholly
spoil. Passing their lives as they do on the edge of the cold lake,
and surrounded by hot pools and steam-jets, they seem a more or less
amphibious race, quite untroubled by anxiety about subterranean
action. They make all the use they can of Nature’s forces, employing
the steam and hot water for various daily wants. Of course they bathe
incessantly and wash clothes in the pools. They will sit up to their
necks in the warm fluid, and smoke luxuriously in a bath that does
not turn cold. But more interesting to watch is their cooking. Here
the steam of the blow-holes is their servant; or they will lay their
food in baskets of flax in some clean boiling spring, choosing, of
course, water that is tasteless. Cooking food by steam was and still is
the favourite method of the Maori. Where Nature does not provide the
steam, they dig ovens in the earth called _hangi_, and, wrapping their
food in leaves, place it therein on red-hot stones. Then they spread
more leaves over them, pour water upon these, and cover the hole with
earth. When the oven is opened the food is found thoroughly cooked,
and in this respect much more palatable than some of the cookery of
the colonists. In their culinary work the Maoris have always been neat
and clean. This makes their passion for those two terrible delicacies,
putrid maize and dried shark, something of a puzzle.

Life at Roto-rua is not all sight-seeing; there is a serious side to
it. Invalids resort thither, as they do to Taupo, in ever-increasing
numbers. The State sanatorium, with its brand-new bath-house, is as
well equipped now as good medical bathing-places are in Europe, and is
directed by a physician who was in former years a doctor of repute at
Bath. Amid the _embarras des richesses_ offered by the thermal springs
of the zone, Roto-rua has been selected as his headquarters, because
there two chief and distinct kinds of hot healing waters are found in
close neighbourhood, and can be used in the same establishment. The two
are acid-sulphur and alkaline-sulphur, and both are heavily loaded with
silica. Unlike European springs they gush out at boiling-point, and
their potency is undoubted. Sufferers tormented with gout or crippled
with rheumatism seek the acid waters; the alkaline act as a nervous
sedative and cure various skin diseases. There are swimming baths for
holiday-makers who have nothing the matter with them, and massage and
the douche for the serious patients. Persons without money are cared
for by the servants of the Government. Wonderful cures are reported,
and as the fame of the healing waters becomes better and better
established the number of successful cases steadily increases. For
the curable come confidently expecting to be benefited, and this, of
course, is no small factor in the efficacy of the baths, indisputable
as their strength is. Apart, too, from its springs, Roto-rua is a
sunny place, a thousand feet above the sea. The air is light even in
midsummer, and the drainage through the porous pumice and silica is
complete. In such a climate, amid such healing influences and such
varied and interesting surroundings, the sufferer who cannot gain
health at Roto-rua must be in a bad way indeed.

[Illustration: THE CHAMPAGNE CAULDRON]

In the middle of Roto-rua Lake, a green hill in the broad blue
surface, rises the isle of Mokoia. There is nothing extraordinary in
the way of beauty there. Still, it is high and shapely, with enough
foliage to feather the rocks and soften the outlines. Botanists
know it as one of the few spots away from the sea-beach where the
crimson-flowering pohutu-kawa has deigned to grow. In any case, the
scene of the legend of Hinemoa is sure of a warm corner in all New
Zealand hearts. The story of the chief’s daughter, and her swim by
night across the lake to join her lover on the island, has about it
that quality of grace with which most Maori tales are but scantily
draped. How many versions of it are to be found in print I do not dare
to guess, and shall not venture to add another to their number. For
two of New Zealand’s Prime Ministers have told the story well, and I
can refer my readers to the prose of Grey and the verse of Domett.
Only do I wish that I had heard Maning, the Pakeha Maori, repeat the
tale, standing on the shore of Mokoia, as he repeated it there to Dr.
Moore. In passing I may, however, do homage to one of the few bits
of sweet romance to be found in New Zealand literature. Long may my
countrymen steadfastly refuse to disbelieve a word of it! For myself,
as one who has bathed in Hinemoa’s bath, I hold by every sentence of
the tradition, and am fully persuaded that Hinemoa’s love-sick heart
was soothed, as she sat on her flat-topped rock on the mainshore, by
the soft music of the native trumpet blown by her hero on the island.
After all, the intervening water was some miles broad, and even that
terrific instrument, a native trumpet, might be softened by such a
distance.

Long after the happy union of its lovers, Mokoia saw another sight when
Hongi, “eater of men,” marched down with his Ngapuhi musketeers from
the north to exterminate the Arawa of the lake country. To the Roto-rua
people Mokoia had in times past been a sure refuge. In camp there, they
commanded the lake with their canoes; no invader could reach them,
for no invader could bring a fleet overland. So it had always been,
and the Mokoians trusting thereto, paddled about the lake defying and
insulting Hongi and his men in their camp on the farther shore. Yet
so sure of victory were the Ngapuhi chiefs that each of the leaders
selected as his own booty the war-canoe that seemed handsomest in his
eyes. Hongi had never heard of the device by which Mahomet II. captured
Constantinople, but he was a man of original methods, and he decided
that canoes could be dragged twenty miles or more from the sea-coast
to Lake Roto-iti. It is said that an Arawa slave or renegade in his
camp suggested the expedient and pointed out the easiest road. At any
rate the long haul was successfully achieved, and the canoes of the
Plumed Ones--Ngapuhi--paddled from Roto-iti into Roto-rua. Then all was
over except the slaughter, for the Mokoians had but half-a-dozen guns,
and Hongi’s musketeers from their canoes could pick them off without
landing.

[Illustration: EVENING ON LAKE ROTO-RUA]

Fifteen hundred men, women, and children are said to have perished
in the final massacre. Whether these figures were “official” I cannot
say. The numbers of the slain computed in the Maori stories of their
wars between 1816 and 1836 are sometimes staggering; but scant mercy
was shown, and all tradition concurs in rating the death-roll far
higher than anything known before or after. And Mokoia was crowded with
refugees when it fell before Hongi’s warriors. Of course, many of the
islanders escaped. Among them a strong swimmer, Hori (George) Haupapa,
took to the lake and managed to swim to the farther shore. The life
he thus saved on that day of death proved to be long, for Haupapa was
reputed to be a hundred years old when he died in peace.

The famous Hongi was certainly a savage of uncommon quickness
of perception, as his circumventing of the Mokoians in their
lake-stronghold shows. He had shrewdness enough to perceive that the
Maori tribe which should first secure firearms would hold New Zealand
at its mercy; and he was sufficient of a man of business to act upon
this theory with success and utter ruthlessness. He probably did more
to destroy his race than any white or score of whites; yet his memory
is not, so far as I know, held in special detestation by the Maori.
Two or three better qualities this destructive cannibal seems to have
had, for he protected the missionaries and advised his children to
do so likewise. Then he had a soft voice and courteous manner, and,
though not great of stature, must have been tough, for the bullet-wound
in his chest which finally killed him took two years in doing so.
Moreover, his dying exhortation to his sons, “Be strong, be brave!” was
quite in the right spirit for the last words of a Maori warrior.

Hongi would seem to be an easy name enough to pronounce. Yet none has
suffered more from “the taste and fancy of the speller” in books,
whether written by Englishmen or Colonists. Polack calls him E’Ongi,
and other early travellers, Shongee, Shongi, and Shungie. Finally Mr.
J. A. Froude, not to be outdone in inaccuracy, pleasantly disposes of
him, in _Oceana_, as “Hangi.”

“Old Colonial,” in an article written in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, gives
Mokoia as the scene of a notable encounter between Bishop Selwyn and
Tukoto, a Maori tohunga or wizard. To Selwyn, who claimed to be the
servant of an all-powerful God, the tohunga is reported to have said,
as he held out a brown withered leaf, “Can you, then, by invoking your
God, make this dead leaf green again?” The Bishop answered that no man
could do that. Thereupon Tukoto, after chanting certain incantations,
threw the leaf into the air, and, lo! its colour changed, and it
fluttered to earth fresh and green once more.

[Illustration: PLANTING POTATOES]

Among many odd stories told of the juggling feats of the vanishing race
of tohungas this is one of the most curious. More than one version of
it is to be found. For example, my friend Edward Tregear, in his book
_The Maori Race_, relates it as an episode of a meeting between Selwyn
and Te Heu Heu, where the trick was the _riposte_ of the chief to
an appeal by the Bishop to him to change his faith. In that case the
place of the encounter could scarcely have been Mokoia, or the tohunga
have been Tukoto.

Whatever may be said--and a great deal may be said--against the
tohunga as the foe of healing and knowledge, the religious prophets
who from time to time rise among the Maori are not always entirely
bad influences. A certain Rua, who just now commands belief among his
countrymen, has managed to induce a following to found a well-built
village on a hill-side among the forests of the Uriwera country. There,
attended by several wives, he inhabits a comfortable house. Hard
by rises a large circular temple, a wonderful effort of his native
workmen. He has power enough to prohibit tobacco and alcohol in his
settlement, to enforce sanitary rules, and to make his disciples clear
and cultivate a large farm. Except that he forbids children from going
to school, he does not appear to set himself against the Government. He
poses, I understand, as a successor of Christ, and is supposed to be
able to walk on the surface of water. His followers were anxious for
ocular proof of this, and a hint of their desire was conveyed to the
prophet. He assembled them on a river’s bank and gravely inquired, “Do
you all from your hearts believe that I can walk on that water?” “We
do,” was the response. “Then it is not necessary for me to do it,” said
he, and walked composedly back to his hut.



CHAPTER VI

ALP, FIORD, AND SANCTUARY


[Illustration: THE WAIRAU GORGE]

In one way the south-western is the most enjoyable division of
picturesque New Zealand. There is little here to regret or fear for.
Unlike the beauty of the northern forests, here is a grandeur that will
not pass away. Even in the thermal zone you are haunted by the memory
of the lost terraces; but among the alps and fiords of the south-west
Nature sits very strongly entrenched. From the Buller Gorge to Puysegur
Point, and from Lake Menzies to Lake Hau-roto, both the climate and
the lie of the land combine to keep man’s destructiveness at bay.
Longitudinal ridges seam this territory from north to south--not a
single dividing chain, but half-a-dozen ranges, lofty, steep, and
entangled. Rivers thread every valley, and are the swiftest, coldest,
and most dangerous of that treacherous race, the mountain torrents
of our islands. On the eastern and drier side, settlement can do
little to spoil the impressiveness of the mountains; for the great
landscapes--at any rate north of Lake Hawea--usually begin at or near
the snow-line. The edge of this is several thousand feet lower
than in Switzerland. Below it comes a zone sometimes dotted with
beech-woods, monotonous and seldom very high, but beautiful in their
vesture of grey-green lichen, and carpeted with green and golden moss,
often deep and not always soaked and slimy underneath. Or in the open
the sub-alpine zone is redeemed by an abundance of ground-flowers such
as our lower country cannot show. For this is the home of the deep,
bowl-shaped buttercup called the shepherd’s lily, of mountain-daisies
and veronicas many and varied, and of those groves of the ribbon-wood
that are more lovely than orchards of almond-trees in spring-time. On
the rocks above them the mountaineer who has climbed in Switzerland
will recognise the edelweiss. Among the blanched snow-grass and coarse
tussocks, the thorny “Wild Irishman,” and the spiky “Spaniard,” with
its handsome _chevaux-de-frise_ of yellow-green bayonets, conspire
to make riding difficult on the flats and terraces. These last often
attract the eye by their high faces, bold curves, and curious, almost
smooth, regularity. For the rest, the more eastern of the mountains
usually become barer and duller as the watershed is left farther
behind. Oases of charm they have, where the flora of some sheltered
ravine or well-hidden lake detains the botanist; but, as a rule, their
brilliant sunshine and exhilarating air, their massive forms and wild
intersecting rivers, have much to do to save them from being summed up
as stony, arid, bleak, and tiresome.

[Illustration: IN THE HOOKER VALLEY]

At its worst, however, the eastern region may claim to be serviceable
to the lover of scenery as well as to the sheep-farmer. Its
thinly-grassed slopes, bare rocks, and fan-shaped shingle-slips
furnish, at any rate, a foil to the grandeur of the central range and
the luxuriance of the west. It is, indeed, not easy to believe that
such glaciers and passes, such lakes and sea-gulfs, lie beyond the
stern barrier, and the enjoyment, when wonderland is penetrated, is all
the greater. For the rest, any English reader who cares to feel himself
among our tussock-clad ranges will find a masterly sketch of them and
their atmosphere in the first chapters of Samuel Butler’s _Erewhon_.
Butler’s sheep-station, “Mesopotamia” by name, lay among the alps of
Canterbury, and the satirist himself did some exploring work in his
pastoral days, work concerning which I recall a story told me by an old
settler whom I will call the Sheriff. This gentleman, meeting Butler
one day in Christchurch in the early sixties, noticed that his face and
neck were burned to the colour of red-chocolate. “Hullo, my friend,”
said he, “you have been among the snow!” “Hush!” answered Butler in an
apprehensive whisper, and looking round the smoking-room nervously,
“how do you know that?” “By the colour of your face; nothing more,”
was the reply. They talked a while, and Butler presently admitted that
he had been up to the dividing range and had seen a great sight away
beyond it. “I’ve found a hundred thousand acres of ‘country,’” said
he. “Naturally I wish you to keep this quiet till I have proved
it and applied to the Government for a pastoral licence.” “Well, I
congratulate you,” said the Sheriff. “If it will carry sheep you’ve
made your fortune, that’s all”; but he intimated his doubts as to
whether the blue expanse seen from far off could be grass country. And
indeed, when next he met Butler, the latter shook his head ruefully:
“You were quite right; it was all bush.” I have often wondered whether
that experience was the basis of the passage that tells of the
thrilling discovery of Erewhon beyond the pass guarded by the great
images.

In one of his letters about the infant Canterbury settlement Butler
gives a description of Aorangi, or Mount Cook, which, so far as I know,
is the earliest sketch of the mountain by a writer of note. It was,
however, not an Englishman, but a German man of science, Sir Julius
von Haast, who published the first careful and connected account of
the Southern Alps. Von Haast was not a mountaineer, but a geologist,
and though he attacked Aorangi, he did not ascend more than two-thirds
of it. But he could write, and had an eye for scenery as well as for
strata. The book which he published on the geology of Canterbury and
Westland did very much the same service to the Southern Alps that von
Hochstetter’s contemporary work did for the hot lakes. The two German
_savants_ brought to the knowledge of the world outside two very
different but remarkable regions. It is true that the realm of flowery
uplands, glaciers, ice-walls, and snow-fields told of by von Haast, had
nothing in it so uncommon as the geysers and so strange as the pink
and white terraces made familiar by von Hochstetter. But the higher
Southern Alps, when once you are among them, may fairly challenge
comparison with those of Switzerland. Their elevation is not equal by
two or three thousand feet, but the lower level of their snow-line just
about makes up the disparity. Then, too, on the flanks of their western
side the mountains of the south have a drapery of forest far more
varied and beautiful than the Swiss pine woods. On the western side,
too, the foot of the mountain rampart is virtually washed by the ocean.
Take the whole mountain territory of the south-west with its passes,
lakes, glaciers, river-gorges, and fiords, and one need not hesitate to
assert that it holds its own when compared with what Nature has done in
Switzerland, Savoy, and Dauphiny.

[Illustration: MOUNT COOK]

Aorangi, with its 12,349 feet, exceeds the peak of Teneriffe by 159
feet. It is the highest point in our islands, for Mount Tasman, its
neighbour, which comes second, fails to equal it by 874 feet. Only
two or three other summits surpass 11,000 feet, and the number which
attain to anything over 10,000 is not great. From the south-west,
Aorangi, with the ridge attached to it, resembles the high-pitched
roof of a Gothic church with a broad, massive spire standing up from
the northern end. When, under strong sunlight, the ice glitters on the
steep crags, and the snow-fields, unearthly in their purity, contrast
with the green tint of the crawling glaciers, the great mountain is a
spectacle worthy of its fame. Yet high and shapely as it is, and
worthy of its name, Cloud-in-the-Heavens, it is not the most beautiful
mountain in the islands. That honour may be claimed by Egmont, just
as Tongariro may demand precedence as the venerated centre of Maori
reverence and legend. Nor, formidable as Aorangi looks, is it, I should
imagine, as impracticable as one or two summits farther south, notably
Mount Balloon. However, unlike Kosciusko in Australia, it is a truly
imposing height, and worthy of its premier place. With it the story
of New Zealand alpine-climbing has been bound up for a quarter of a
century, and such romance as that story has to show is chiefly found
in attempts, successful and unsuccessful, to reach the topmost point
of Aorangi. Canterbury had been settled for thirty-two years before
the first of these was made. For the low snow-line, great cliffs, and
enormous glaciers of the Southern Alps have their especial cause of
origin. They bespeak an extraordinary steepness in the rock faces, and
a boisterous climate with rapid and baffling changes of temperature.
Not a climber or explorer amongst them but has been beaten back at
times by tempests, or held a prisoner for many hours, listening
through a sleepless night to the howling of north-west or south-west
wind--lucky if he is not drenched to the skin by rain or flood. As for
the temperature, an observer once noted a fall of fifty-three degrees
in a few hours. On the snow-fields the hot sun blisters the skin of
your face and neck, and even at a lower level makes a heavy coat an
intolerable burden; but the same coat--flung impatiently on the ground
and left there--may be picked up next morning frozen as stiff as a
board. These extremes of heat and cold, these sudden and furious gales,
are partly, I imagine, the cause of the loose and rotten state of much
of the rock-surface, of the incessant falls of stones, ice-blocks, and
snow, and of the number and size of the avalanches. At any rate, the
higher alps showed a front which, to ordinary dwellers on our plains,
seemed terrific, and which even gave pause to mountain-climbers of
some Swiss experience. So even von Haast’s book did not do much more
than increase the number of visitors to the more accessible glaciers
and sub-alpine valleys. The spirit of mountaineering lay dormant year
after year, and it was not until 1882 that an unexpected invader from
Europe delivered the sudden and successful stroke that awoke it. The
raider was Mr. Green, an Irish clergyman, who, with two Swiss guides,
Boss and Kaufmann, landed in the autumn of 1882. His object was the
ascent of Aorangi; he had crossed the world to make it. He found our
inner mountains just as Nature had left them, and, before beginning
his climb, had to leave human life behind, and camp at the foot of the
mountain with so much of the resources of civilisation as he could take
with him. One of his first encounters with a New Zealand river in a
hurry ended in the loss of his light cart, which was washed away. Its
wrecked and stranded remains lay for years in the river-bed a battered
relic of a notable expedition. To cap his troubles, a pack-horse
carrying flour, tea, sugar, and spare clothing, coolly lay down when
fording a shallow torrent, and rolled on its back--and therefore on
its pack--in the rapid water. Ten days of preliminary tramping and
clambering, during which five separate camps were formed, only carried
the party with their provisions and apparatus to a height of less
than 4000 feet above the sea. They had toiled over moraine boulders,
been entangled in dense and prickly scrubs, and once driven back by a
fierce north-wester. On the other hand the scenery was glorious and
the air exhilarating. Nothing round them seemed tame except the wild
birds. Keas, wekas, and blue ducks were as confiding and fearless as
our birds are wont to be till man has taught them distrust and terror.
Among these the Swiss obtained the raw material of a supper almost
as easily as in a farmyard. On the 25th of February the final ascent
was begun. But Aorangi did not yield at the first summons. Days were
consumed in futile attempts from the south and east. On their first
day they were checked by finding themselves on a crumbling knife-like
ridge, from which protruded spines of rock that shook beneath their
tread. A kick, so it seemed, would have sent the surface into the abyss
on either side. The bridge that leads to the Mahometan paradise could
not be a more fearful passage. Two days later they were baffled on the
east side by walls of rock from which even Boss and Kaufmann turned
hopelessly away. It was not until March 2, after spending a night above
the clouds, that they hit upon a new glacier, the Linda, over which
they found a winding route to the north-eastern ridge which joins
Cook to Tasman. The day’s work was long and severe, and until late in
the afternoon the issue was doubtful. A gale burst upon them from the
north-west, and they had to go on through curling mists and a wind that
chilled them to the bone. It was six o’clock in the evening when they
found themselves standing on the icy scalp of the obstinate mountain,
and even then they did not attain the highest point. There was not a
moment to lose if they were to regain some lower point of comparative
security; for March is the first month of autumn in South New Zealand,
and the evenings then begin to draw in. So Mr. Green had to retreat
when within either a few score feet or a few score yards of the actual
goal. As it was, night closed in on the party when they were but a
short way down, and they spent the dark hours on a ledge less than two
feet wide, high over an icy ravine. Sleep or faintness alike meant
death. They stood there hour after hour singing, stamping, talking, and
listening to the rain pattering on rock and hissing on snow. All night
long the wind howled: the wall at their backs vibrated to the roar of
the avalanches: water streaming down its face soaked their clothing.
For food they had three meat lozenges each. They sucked at empty
pipes, and pinched and nudged each other to drive sleep away. By the
irony of fate it happened that close beneath them were wide and almost
comfortable shelves. But night is not the time to wander about the face
of a precipice, looking for sleeping berths, 10,000 feet above the sea.
Mr. Green and his guides were happy to escape with life and limb, and
not to have to pay such a price for victory as was paid by Whymper’s
party after scaling the Matterhorn.

Mr. Green’s climb, the tale of which is told easily in his own bright
and workmanlike book, gave an enlivening shock to young New Zealand.
It had been left to a European to show them the way; but the lesson
was not wasted. They now understood that mountains were something
more than rough country, some of which carried sheep, while some did
not. They learned that they had an alpine playground equal to any in
the Old World--a new realm where danger might be courted and exploits
put on record. The dormant spirit of mountaineering woke up at last.
Many difficulties confronted the colonial lads. They had everything
to learn and no one to teach them. Without guides, equipment, or
experience--without detailed maps, or any preliminary smoothing of the
path, they had to face unforeseen obstacles and uncommon risks. They
had to do everything for themselves. Only by endangering their necks
could they learn the use of rope and ice-axe. Only by going under
fire, and being grazed or missed by stones and showers of ice, could
they learn which hours of the day and conditions of the weather were
most dangerous, and when slopes might be sought and when ravines must
be shunned. They had to teach themselves the trick of the _glissade_
and the method of crossing frail bridges of snow. Appliances they
could import from Europe. As for guides, some of them turned guides
themselves. Of course they started with a general knowledge of the
climate, of “roughing it” in the hills, and of life in the open. They
could scramble to the heights to which sheep scramble, and could turn
round in the wilderness without losing their way. Thews and sinews,
pluck and enthusiasm, had to do the rest, and gradually did it. As
Mr. Malcolm Ross, one of the adventurous band, has pointed out with
legitimate pride, their experience was gained and their work done
without a single fatal accident--a happy record, all the more striking
by contrast with the heavy toll of life levied by the rivers of our
mountain territory. The company of climbers, therefore, must have
joined intelligence to resolution, for, up to the present, they have
broken nothing but records. Mr. Mannering, one of the earliest of them,
attacked Aorangi five times within five years. After being thwarted by
such accidents as rain-storms, the illness of a companion, and--most
irritating of all--the dropping of a “swag” holding necessaries,
he, with his friend Mr. Dixon, at last attained to the ice-cap in
December 1890. Their final climb was a signal exhibition of courage and
endurance. They left their bivouac (7480 feet in air) at four o’clock
in the morning, and, after nine hours of plodding upward in soft snow
had to begin the labour of cutting ice-steps. In the morning they were
roasted by the glaring sun; in the shade of the afternoon their rope
and coats were frozen stiff, and the skin from their hands stuck to the
steel of their ice-axes. Dixon, a thirteen-stone man, fell through a
snow-wreath, and was only saved by a supreme effort. Pelted by falling
ice the two amateurs cut their way onward, and at half-past five in
the evening found themselves unscathed and only about a hundred feet
below the point gained by Mr. Green and his Swiss. They made an effort
to hew steps up to the apex of the ice-cap, but time was too short and
the wind was freshening; as it was they had to work their way down by
lantern light. Now they had to creep backwards, now to clean out the
steps cut in the daylight; now their way was lost, again they found
it, and discovered that some gulf had grown wider. They did not regain
their bivouac till nearly three in the morning after twenty-three hours
of strain to body and mind.[4]

[4] For Mr. Mannering’s narrative see _With Axe and Rope in the New
Zealand Alps_, London, 1891.

[Illustration: MOUNT SEFTON]

Four years later came victory, final and complete, and won in a fashion
peculiarly gratifying to young New Zealand. News came that Mr. E. A.
Fitzgerald, a skilled mountaineer, was coming from Europe to achieve
the technical success which Green and Mannering had just missed.
Some climbers of South Canterbury resolved to anticipate him, and,
for the honour of the colony, be the first to stand on the coveted
pinnacle. A party of three--Messrs. Clark, Graham, and Fyfe--left
Timaru, accordingly, and on Christmas Day 1894 achieved their object.
Mr. Fitzgerald arrived only to find that he had been forestalled,
and must find other peaks to conquer. Of these there was no lack;
he had some interesting experiences. After his return to England he
remarked to the writer that climbing in the Andes was plain and
easy in comparison with the dangers and difficulties of the Southern
Alps. One of his severest struggles, however, was not with snow and
ice, but with a river and forest in Westland. Years before, Messrs.
Harper and Blakiston had surmounted the saddle--or, more properly
speaking, wall--at the head of the Hooker glacier, and looking over
into Westland, had ascertained that it would be possible to go down
to the coast by that way. Government surveyors had confirmed this
impression, but no one had traversed the pass. It remained for Mr.
Fitzgerald to do this and show that the route was practicable. He and
his guide Zurbriggen accomplished the task. They must, however, have
greatly underestimated the difficulties which beset those who would
force a passage along the bed of an untracked western torrent. Pent
in a precipitous gorge, they had to wade and stumble along a wild
river-trough. Here they clung to or clambered over dripping rocks,
there they were numbed in the ice-cold and swirling water. Enormous
boulders encumbered and almost barred the ravine, so that the river
itself had had to scoop out subterranean passages through which the
explorers were fain to creep. Taking to the shore, as they won their
way downward, they tried to penetrate the matted scrubs. Even had they
been bushmen, and armed with tomahawks and slashers, they would have
found this no easy task. As it was they returned to the river-bed and
trudged along, wet and weary; their provisions gave out, and Fitzgerald
had to deaden the pangs of hunger by chewing black tobacco. He
found the remedy effectual, but very nauseating. Without gun or powder
and shot, and knowing nothing of the botany of the country, they
ran very close to starvation, and must have lost their lives had a
sudden flood filled the rivers’ tributaries and so cut them off from
the coast. As it was they did the final forty-eight hours of walking
without food, and were on their last legs when they heard the dogs
barking in a surveyor’s camp, where their adventure ended.

Not caring to follow in the wake of others, Mr. Fitzgerald left Aorangi
alone, but Zurbriggen climbed thither on his own account in 1895.
An Anglo-Colonial party gained the top ten years later, so that the
ice-cap may now almost be classed among familiar spots. Still, as late
as 1906 something still remained to be done on the mountain--namely,
to go up on one side and go down on the other. This feat, so simple
to state, but so difficult to perform, was accomplished last year by
three New Zealanders and an Englishman. To make sure of having time
enough, they started from their camp--which was at a height of between
6000 and 7000 feet on the eastern side--three-quarters of an hour
before midnight. Hours of night walking followed over moonlit snows,
looked down upon by ghostly crests. When light came the day was fine
and grew bright and beautiful,--so clear that looking down they could
see the ocean beyond the eastern shore, the homesteads standing out on
the yellow-green plains, and on the snows, far, very far down, their
own footprints dotting the smooth whiteness beneath them. It took
them, however, nearly fourteen hours to reach the summit, and then
the most dangerous part of their work only began. They had to gain
the Hooker glacier by creeping down frosted rocks as slippery as an
ice-slide. Long bouts of step-cutting had to be done, and in places the
men had to be lowered by the rope one at a time. Instead of reaching
their goal--the Hermitage Inn below the glacier--in twenty hours,
they consumed no less than thirty-six. During these they were almost
incessantly in motion, and as a display of stamina the performance, one
imagines, must rank high among the exertions of mountaineers. Many fine
spectacles repaid them. One of these, a western view from the rocks
high above the Hooker glacier, is thus described by Mr. Malcolm Ross,
who was of the party:--

“The sun dipped to the rim of the sea, and the western heavens were
glorious with colour, heightened by the distant gloom. Almost on a
level with us, away beyond Sefton, a bank of flame-coloured cloud
stretched seaward from the lesser mountains towards the ocean, and
beyond that again was a far-away continent of cloud, sombre and
mysterious as if it were part of another world. The rugged mountains
and the forests and valleys of southern Westland were being gripped in
the shades of night. A long headland, still thousands of feet below on
the south-west, stretched itself out into the darkened sea, a thin line
of white at its base indicating the tumbling breakers of the Pacific
Ocean.”

[Illustration: THE TASMAN GLACIER]

Mr. Green, as he looked out from a half-way halting-place on the ascent
of Aorangi, and took in the succession of crowded, shining crests
and peaks surging up to the north and north-east of him, felt the
Alpine-climber’s spirit glow within him. Here was a wealth of peaks
awaiting conquest; here was adventure enough for the hands and feet
of a whole generation of mountaineers. Scarcely one of the heights
had then been scaled. This is not so now. Peak after peak of the
Southern Alps has fallen to European or Colonial enterprise, and the
ambitious visitor to the Mount Cook region, in particular, will have
some trouble to find much that remains virgin and yet accessible. For
the unambitious, on the other hand, everything has been made easy. The
Government and its tourist department has taken the district in hand
almost as thoroughly as at Roto-rua, and the holiday-maker may count
on being housed, fed, driven about, guided, and protected efficiently
and at a reasonable price. Happily, too, nothing staring or vulgar
defaces the landscape. Nor do tourists, yet, throng the valleys in
those insufferable crowds that spoil so much romance in Switzerland
and Italy. Were they more numerous than they are, the scale of the
ranges and glaciers is too large to allow the vantage-spots to be
mobbed. Take the glaciers: take those that wind along the flanks of
the Mount Cook range on its eastern and western sides, and, converging
to the south, are drained by the river Tasman. The Tasman glacier
itself is eighteen miles long; its greatest width is over two miles;
its average width over a mile. The Murchison glacier, which joins the
Tasman below the glacier ice, is more than ten miles long. And to the
west and south-west of the range aforesaid, the Hooker and Mueller
glaciers are on a scale not much less striking. The number of tributary
glaciers that feed these enormous ice-serpents has not, I fancy, been
closely estimated, but from heights lofty enough to overlook most
of the glacier system that veins the Aorangi region, explorers have
counted over fifty seen from one spot. Perhaps the finest sight in the
alpine country--at any rate to those who do not scale peaks--is the
Hochstetter ice-fall. This frozen cataract comes down from a great snow
plateau, some 9000 feet above the sea, to the east of Aorangi. The
fall descends, perhaps, 4000 feet to the Tasman glacier. It is much
more than a mile in breadth, and has the appearance of tumbling water,
storm-beaten, broken, confused, surging round rocks. It has, indeed,
something more than the mere appearance of wild unrest, for water pours
through its clefts, and cubes and toppling pinnacles of ice break away
and crash as they fall from hour to hour.

[Illustration: THE CECIL AND WALTER PEAKS]

If the Hochstetter has a rival of its own kind in the island, that
would seem to be the Douglas glacier. This, scarcely known before 1907,
was then visited and examined by Dr. Mackintosh Bell. By his account
it surpasses the Hochstetter in this, that instead of confronting the
stern grandeur of an Alpine valley, it looks down upon the evergreen
forest and unbroken foliage of Westland. The glacier itself comes down
from large, high-lying snow-fields over a mighty cliff, estimated
to be 3000 feet in height. The upper half of the wall is clothed
with rugged ice; but the lower rock-face is too steep for this, and
its perpendicular front is bare. Beneath it the glacier continues.
Waterfall succeeds waterfall: thirty-five in all stream down from the
ice above to the ice below. Mingled with the sound of their downpouring
the explorers heard the crashing of the avalanches. Every few minutes
one of these slid or shot into the depths. Roar followed roar like
cannon fired in slow succession, so that the noise echoing among the
mountains drowned the voices of the wondering beholders.

Oddly enough the lakes of the South Island are nearly all on the
drier side of the watershed. Kanieri and Mahinapua, two well-known
exceptions, are charming, but small. A third exception, Brunner, is
large, but lies among wooded hills without any special pretensions
to grandeur. For the rest the lakes are to the east of the dividing
range, and may be regarded as the complement of the fiords to the
west thereof. But their line stretches out much farther to the north,
for they may be said to include Lake Roto-roa, a long, narrow, but
beautiful water, folded among the mountains of Nelson. Then come
Brunner and Sumner, and the series continues in fine succession
southwards, ending with Lake Hau-roto near the butt-end of the
island. Broadly speaking, the lake scenery improves as you go south.
Wakatipu is in advance of Wanaka and Hawea, Te Anau of Wakatipu;
while Manapouri, beautiful in irregularity, fairly surpasses all
its fellows. The northern half of Wakatipu is, indeed, hard to beat;
but the southern arm, though grand, curves among steeps too hard and
treeless to please the eye altogether. In the same way Te Anau would
be the finest lake in the islands were it not for the flatness of most
of the eastern shore; the three long western arms are magnificent,
and so is the northern part of the main water. But of Manapouri one
may write without ifs and buts. Its deep, clear waters moving round a
multitude of islets; its coves and cliff-points, gulf beyond gulf and
cape beyond cape; the steeps that overhang it, so terrific, yet so
richly clothed; the unscathed foliage sprinkled with tree-flowers,--all
form as faultless a combination of lovely scenes as a wilderness can
well show. From the western arm that reaches out as though to penetrate
to the sea-fiords not far away beyond the mountains, to the eastern
bay, whence the deep volume of the Waiau flows out, there is nothing
to spoil the charm. What Lucerne is to Switzerland Manapouri is to New
Zealand. Man has not helped it with historical associations and touches
of foreign colour. On the other hand, man has not yet spoiled it with
big hotels, blatant advertisements, and insufferable press of tourists.

[Illustration: MANAPOURI]

In one respect--their names--our South Island lakes are more lucky
than our mountains. Most of them have been allowed to keep the names
given them by the Maori. When the Polynesian syllables are given fair
play--which is not always the case in the white man’s mouth--they
are usually liquid or dignified. Manapouri, Te Anau, Roto-roa, and
Hau-roto, are fair examples. Fortunately the lakes which we have chosen
to rechristen have seldom been badly treated. Coleridge, Christabel,
Alabaster, Tennyson, Ellesmere, Marian, Hilda, are pleasant in sound
and suggestion. Our mountains have not come off so well--in the South
Island at any rate. Some have fared better than others. Mount Aspiring,
Mount Pisa, the Sheerdown, the Remarkables, Mounts Aurum, Somnus,
Cosmos, Fourpeaks, Hamilton, Wakefield, Darwin, Brabazon, Alexander,
Rolleston, Franklin, Mitre Peak, Terror Peak, and the Pinnacle, are
not names to cavil at. But I cannot think that such appellations as
Cook, Hutt, Brown, Stokes, Jukes, Largs, Hopkins, Dick, Thomas, Harris,
Pillans, Hankinson, Thompson, and Skelmorlies, do much to heighten
scenic grandeur. However, there they are, and there, doubtless, they
will remain; for we are used to them, so do not mind them. We should
even, it may be, be sorry to lose them.

[Illustration: MITRE PEAK]

The Sounds--the watery labyrinth of the south-west coast--have but one
counterpart in the northern hemisphere, the fiords of Norway. Whether
their number should be reckoned to be fifteen or nineteen is of no
consequence. Enough that between Big Bay and Puysegur Point they indent
the littoral with successive inlets winding between cliffs, straying
round islets and bluffs, and penetrating deep into the heart of the
Alps. They should be called fiords, for that name alone gives any
suggestion of their slender length and of the towering height of the
mountains that confine them. But the pioneers and sailors of three
generations ago chose to dub them “The Sounds,” so The Sounds they
remain. It is best to approach them from the south, beginning with
Perseverance Inlet and ending with Milford Sound. For the heights round
Milford are the loftiest of any, and after their sublimity the softer
aspect of some of the other gulfs is apt to lose impressiveness. The
vast monotony and chilly uneasiness of the ocean without heightens
the contrast at the entrances. Outside the guardian headlands all is
cold and uneasy. Between one inlet and another the sea beats on sheer
faces of cruel granite. Instantaneous is the change when the gates
are entered, and the voyager finds his vessel floating on a surface
narrower than a lake and more peaceful than a river. The very throbbing
of a steamer’s engines becomes gentler and reaches the ears softly
like heart-beats. The arms of the mountains seem stretched to shut out
tumult and distraction. Milford, for instance, is a dark-green riband
of salt water compressed between cliffs less than a mile apart, and
in one pass narrowing to a width of five hundred yards. Yet though
the bulwarks of your ship are near firm earth, the keel is far above
it. All the Sounds are deep: when Captain Cook moored the _Endeavour_
in Dusky Sound her yards interlocked with the branches of trees. But
Milford is probably the deepest of all. There the sounding-line has
reached bottom at nearly thirteen hundred feet. Few swirling currents
seem to disturb these quiet gulfs; and the sweep of the western
gales, too, is shut out from most of the bays and reaches. The force
that seems at work everywhere and always is water. Clouds and mists
in a thousand changing shapes fleet above the mountain crests, are
wreathed round peaks, or drift along the fronts of the towering cliffs.
When they settle down the rain falls in sheets: an inch or thereabouts
may be registered daily for weeks. But it does not always rain in
the Sounds, and when it ceases and the sunshine streams down, the
innumerable waterfalls are a spectacle indeed. At any time the number
of cascades and cataracts is great: the roar of the larger and the
murmur of the smaller are the chief sounds heard; they take the place
of the wind that has been left outside the great enclosures. But after
heavy rain--and most rains on that coast are heavy--the number of
waterfalls defies computation. They seam the mountain-sides with white
lines swiftly moving, embroider green precipices with silver, and churn
up the calm sea-water with their plunging shock. The highest of them
all, the Sutherland, is not on the sea-shore, but lies fourteen miles
up a densely-wooded valley. It is so high--1904 feet--that the three
cascades of its descent seem almost too slender a thread for the mighty
amphitheatre behind and around them. Than the cliffs themselves nothing
could well be finer. Lofty as they are, however, they are surpassed
by some of the walls that hem in Milford; for these are computed to
rise nearly five thousand feet. They must be a good second to those
stupendous sea-faces in eastern Formosa which are said to exceed six
thousand feet. Nor in volume or energy is the Sutherland at all equal
to the Bowen, which falls on the sea-beach at Milford in two leaps. Its
height in all is, perhaps, but six hundred feet. But the upper fall
dives into a bowl of hard rock with such weight that the whole watery
mass rebounds in a noble curve to plunge white and foaming to the sea’s
edge.

There is no need to measure heights, calculate bulk, or compare one
sight with another in a territory where beauty and grandeur are spent
so freely. The glory of the Sounds is not found in this cliff or that
waterfall, in the elevation of any one range or the especial grace
of any curve or channel. It comes from the astonishing succession,
yet variety, of grand yet beautiful prospects, of charm near at hand
contrasted with the sternness of the rocky and snowy wilderness which
forms the aerial boundary of the background. The exact height of cliffs
and mountain-steeps matters little. What is important is that--except
on the steepest of the great walls of Milford--almost every yard of
their surface is beautified with a drapery of frond and foliage.
Where the angle is too acute for trees to root themselves ferns and
creepers cloak the faces; where even these fail green mosses save the
rocks from bareness, and contrast softly with the sparkling threads of
ever-present water.

[Illustration: IN MILFORD SOUND]

Scarcely anywhere can the eye take in the whole of an inlet at once.
The narrower fiords wind, the wider are sprinkled with islets. As the
vessel slowly moves on, the scene changes; a fresh vista opens
out with every mile; the gazer comes to every bend with undiminished
expectation. The two longest of the gulfs measure twenty-two miles
from gates to inmost ends. Milford is barely nine miles long--but how
many scenes are met with in those nine! No sooner does the sense of
confinement between dark and terrific heights become oppressive than
some high prospect opens out to the upward gaze, and the sunshine
lightens up the wooded shoulders and glittering snow-fields of some
distant mount. Then the whole realm is so utterly wild, so unspoiled
and unprofaned. Man has done nothing to injure or wreck it. Nowhere
have you to avert your eyes to avoid seeing blackened tracts, the work
of axe and fire. The absurdities of man’s architecture are not here,
nor his litter, dirt and stenches. The clean, beautiful wilderness goes
on and on, far as the eye can travel and farther by many a league.
Protected on one side by the ocean, on the other by the mountainous
labyrinth, it stretches with its deep gulfs and virgin valleys to
remain the delight and refreshment of generations wearied with the
smoke and soilure of the cities of men.

[Illustration: ON THE CLINTON RIVER]

We often call this largest of our national parks a paradise. To
apply the term to such a wilderness is a curious instance of change
in the use of words. The Persian “paradise” was a hunting-ground
where the great king could chase wild beasts without interruption.
In our south-west, on the contrary, guns and bird-snaring are alike
forbidden, and animal life is preserved, not to be hunted, but to be
observed. As most of my readers know, the birds of our islands, by
their variety and singularity, atone for the almost complete absence
of four-footed mammals. The most curious are the flightless kinds.
Not that these comprise all that is interesting in our bird-life by
any means. The rare stitch-bird; those beautiful singers, the tui,
bell-bird, and saddle-back; many marine birds, and those friendly
little creatures the robins and fantails of the bush, amuse others as
well as the zoologists. But the flightless birds--the roa, the grey
kiwi, the takahé, the kakapo, the flightless duck of the Aucklands,
and the weka--are our chief scientific treasures, unless the tuatara
lizard and the short-tailed bat may be considered to rival them. Some
of our ground-birds have the further claim on the attention of science,
that they are the relatives of the extinct and gigantic moa. That
monstrous, and probably harmless, animal was exterminated by fires and
Maori hunters centuries ago. Bones, eggs, and feathers remain to attest
its former numbers, and the roa and kiwi to give the unscientific a
notion of its looks and habits. The story of the thigh-bone which found
its way to Sir Richard Owen seventy years ago, and of his diagnosis
therefrom of a walking bird about the size of an ostrich, is one of
the romances of zoology. The earlier moas were far taller and more
ponderous than any ostrich. Their relationship to the ancient moas of
Madagascar, as well as their colossal stature, are further suggestions
that New Zealand is what it looks--the relics of a submerged
southern continent. After the discovery of moa skeletons there
were great hopes that living survivors of some of the tall birds would
yet be found, and the unexplored and intricate south-west was by common
consent the most promising field in which to search. In 1848 a rail
over three feet high--the takahé--was caught by sealers in Dusky Sound.
Fifty years later, when hope had almost died out, another takahé was
taken alive--the bird that now stands stuffed in a German museum. But,
alas! this rail is the solitary “find” that has rewarded us in the last
sixty years, and the expectation of lighting upon any flightless bird
larger than a roa flutters very faintly now. All the more, therefore,
ought we to bestow thought on the preservation of the odd and curious
wild life that is left to us. The outlook for our native birds has long
been very far from bright. Many years ago the Norway rat had penetrated
every corner of the islands. Cats, descended from wanderers of the
domestic species, are to be found in forest and mountain, and have
grown fiercer and more active with each decade. Sparrows, blackbirds,
and thrushes compete for Nature’s supplies of honey and insects. Last,
and, perhaps, their worst enemies of all, are the stoats, weasels, and
ferrets, which sheep-farmers were foolish enough to import a quarter
of a century ago to combat the rabbit. Luckily, more effectual methods
of coping with rabbits have since been perfected, for had we to trust
to imported vermin our pastures would be in a bad case. As it is, the
stoat and weasel levy toll on many a poultry yard, and their ravages
among the unhappy wild birds of the forest are more deplorable still.
In both islands they have found their way across from the east coast
to the west: rivers, lakes, rock, snow, and ice have been powerless
to stop them. Even the native birds that can fly lose their eggs and
nestlings. The flightless birds are helpless. Weasels can kill much
more formidable game than kiwi and kakapo; a single weasel has been
known to dispose of a kea parrot in captivity. Pressed, then, by
these and their other foes, the native birds are disappearing in wide
tracts of the main islands. Twenty years ago this was sufficiently
notorious; and at length in the ’nineties the Government was aroused
to do something to save a remnant. Throughout the whole of the Great
Reserve of the south-west shooting was, and still is, discouraged. But
this is not enough. Only on islets off the coast can the birds be safe
from ferrets and similar vermin, to say nothing of human collectors and
sportsmen.

[Illustration: AT THE HEAD OF LAKE TE-ANAU]

It was decided, therefore, to set aside such island sanctuaries, and to
station paid care-takers on them. There are now three of these insular
refuges: Resolution Island, off Dusky Sound; Kapiti, in Cook’s Strait;
and the Little Barrier Island, at the mouth of the Hauraki Gulf. The
broken and richly-wooded Resolution contains some 50,000 acres, and
is as good a place for its present uses as could be found. Remote
from settlement, drenched by continual rains, it attracts no one but
a casual sight-seer. On the other hand, its care-taker is in close
touch with the whole region of the fiords, and can watch over and
to some extent guard the wild life therein. The experiences of this
officer, Mr. Richard Henry, are uncommon enough. For twelve years he
lived near lakes Manapouri and Te Anau studying the birds on that side
of the wilderness. Since 1900 he has been stationed on the western
coast, at Pigeon Island, near Resolution. There, with such society as a
boy and a dog can afford him, this guardian of birds passes year after
year in a climate where the rainfall ranges, I suppose, from 140 inches
to 200 in the twelvemonth. Inured to solitude and sandflies Mr. Henry
appears sufficiently happy in watching the habits of his favourite
birds, their enemies the beasts, and their neighbours the sea-fish. He
can write as well as observe, and his reports and papers are looked for
by all who care for Nature in our country.

It is odd that in so vast a wilderness, and one so densely clothed with
vegetation as are the mountains and valleys of the south-west, there
should not be room enough and to spare for the European singing-birds
as well as the native kind. But if we are to believe the care-taker at
Resolution Island--and better testimony than his could not easily be
had,--the sparrow alone, to say nothing of the thrush and blackbird,
is almost as deadly an enemy as the flightless birds have. For the
sparrow not only takes a share of the insects which are supposed to be
his food, but consumes more than his share of the honey of the rata
and other native flowers. Six sparrows which Mr. Henry managed to kill
with a lucky shot one summer morning were found to be plump and full
of honey--it oozed out of their beaks. Thrushes and blackbirds are just
as ready to take to a vegetable diet, so that the angry care-taker is
driven to denounce the birds of Europe as “jabbering sparrows and other
musical humbugs that come here under false pretences.” Then the native
birds themselves are not always forbearing to each other. The wekas,
the commonest and most active of the flightless birds, are remorseless
thieves, and will steal the eggs of wild ducks or farm poultry
indifferently. Though as big as a domestic fowl, wekas are no great
fighters: a bantam cock, or even a bantam hen, will rout the biggest of
them. On the other hand, Mr. Henry has seen a weka tackle a bush rat
and pin it down in its hole under a log. That the weka will survive in
considerable numbers even on the mainland seems likely. The fate of the
two kinds of kiwi, the big brown roa and his small grey cousin, seems
more doubtful.

Both are the most timid, harmless, and helpless of birds. All their
strength and faculties seem concentrated in the long and sensitive
beaks with which they probe the ground or catch insects that flutter
near it. In soft peat or moss they will pierce as deeply as ten inches
to secure a worm; and the extraordinary powers of hearing and scent
which enable them to detect prey buried so far beneath the surface are
nothing short of mysterious. Their part in the world that man controls
would seem to be that of insect destroyers in gardens and orchards.
Perhaps had colonists been wiser they would have been preserved and
bred for this purpose for the last fifty years. As it is man has
preferred to let the kiwis go and to import insectivorous allies, most
of which have turned out to be doubtful blessings. Among both kiwis and
wekas the males are the most dutiful of husbands and fathers. After the
eggs are laid they do most of the sitting, and at a later stage provide
the chicks with food. The female kiwi, too, is the larger bird, and has
the longer beak--points of interest in the avifauna of a land where
women’s franchise is law. Very different is the division of labour
between the sexes in the case of the kakapo or night-parrot. This also
is classed among flightless birds, not because it has no wings--for
its wings are well developed--but because ages ago it lost the art of
flying. Finding ground food plentiful in the wet mountain forests, and
having no foes to fear, the night-parrot waxed fat and flightless.
Now, after the coming of the stoat and weasel, it is too late for its
habits to change. The male kakapo are famous for a peculiar drumming
love-song, an odd tremulous sound that can be heard miles away. But
though musical courtiers, they are by no means such self-sacrificing
husbands as other flightless birds. They leave hatching and other
work to the mothers, who are so worn by the process that the race
only breeds in intermittent years. Tame and guileless as most native
birds are apt to be, the kakapo exceeds them all in a kind of sleepy
apathy. Mr. Henry tells how he once noticed one sitting on wood under
a drooping fern. He nudged it with his finger and spoke to it, but the
bird only muttered hoarsely, and appeared to go to sleep again as the
disturber moved away.

Kapiti, in Cook’s Strait, containing, as it does, barely 5000 acres, is
the smallest of the three island sanctuaries, but unlike the other two
it has made some figure in New Zealand history. In the blood-stained
years before annexation it was seized by the noted marauder Rauparaha,
whose acute eye saw in it a stronghold at once difficult to attack,
and excellently placed for raids upon the main islands, both north
and south. From Kapiti, with his Ngatitoa warriors and his fleet of
war-canoes, he became a terror to his race. His expeditions, marked
with the usual treachery, massacre, and cannibalism of Maori warfare,
reached as far south as Akaroa in Banks’ Peninsula, and indirectly led
to the invasion of the Chathams, and the almost complete extirpation
of the inoffensive Moriori. Rauparaha’s early life might have taught
him pity, for he was himself a fugitive who, with his people, had
been hunted away first from Kawhia, then from Taranaki, by the
stronger Waikato. He lived to wreak vengeance--on the weaker tribes
of the south. No mean captain, he seems only to have suffered one
reverse in the South Island--a surprise by Tuhawaiki (Bloody Jack).
Certainly his only fight with white men--that which we choose to
call the Wairau massacre--was disastrous enough to us. In Kapiti
itself, in the days before the hoisting of the Union Jack, Rauparaha
had white neighbours--I had almost said friends--in the shape of the
shore whalers, whose long boats were then a feature of our coastal
waters. They called him “Rowbulla,” and affected to regard him with
the familiarity which breeds contempt. On his side he found that they
served his purpose--which in their case was trade--well enough. Both
Maori and whaler have long since passed away from Kapiti, and scarce a
trace of them remains, save the wild goats which roam about the heights
and destroy the undergrowth of the forest. The island itself resembles
one side of a high-pitched roof. To the west, a long cliff, 1700 feet
high, faces the famous north-west gales of Cook’s Strait, and shows
the wearing effects of wind and wave. Eastward from the ridge the land
slopes at a practicable angle, and most of it is covered with a thick,
though not very imposing forest. Among the ratas, karakas, tree ferns
and scrub of the gullies, wild pigeons, bell-birds, tuis, whiteheads,
and other native birds still hold their own. Plants from the north and
south mingle in a fashion that charms botanists like Dr. Cockayne. This
gentleman has lately conveyed to Kapiti a number of specimens from the
far-away Auckland isles, and if the Government will be pleased to have
the goats and cattle killed off, and interlopers, like the sparrows and
the Californian quail, kept down, there is no reason why Kapiti should
not become a centre of refuge for the rarer species of our harassed
fauna and flora.

[Illustration: THE BULLER RIVER NEAR HAWK’S CRAIG]

Twice as large as Kapiti, and quite twice as picturesque, the Little
Barrier Island, the northern bird-sanctuary, is otherwise little known.
It has no history to speak of, though Mr. Shakespear, its care-taker,
has gathered one or two traditions. A sharp fight, for instance,
between two bands of Maori was decided on its shore; and for many years
thereafter a tree which stood there was pointed out as the “gallows” on
which the cannibal victors hung the bodies of their slain enemies. At
another spot on the boulders of the beach an unhappy fugitive is said
to have paddled in his canoe, flying from a defeat on the mainland.
Landing exhausted, he found the islanders as merciless as the foes
behind, and was promptly clubbed and eaten. However, the Little Barrier
is to-day as peaceful an asylum as the heart of a persecuted bird could
desire. The stitch-bird, no longer hunted by collectors, is once more
increasing in numbers there, and has for companion the bell-bird--the
sweetest of our songsters, save one,--which has been driven from its
habitat on the main North Island. Godwits, wearied with their long
return journey from Siberia, are fain, “spent with the vast and howling
main,” to rest on the Little Barrier before passing on their way across
the Hauraki Gulf. Fantails and other wild feathered things flutter
round the care-taker’s house, for--so he tells us--he does not suffer
any birds--not even the friendless and much-disliked cormorant--to
be injured. Along with the birds, the tuatara lizard (and the kauri,
pohutu-kawa, and other trees, quite as much in need of asylum as the
birds) may grow and decay unmolested in the quiet ravines. The island
lies forty-five miles from Auckland, and nearly twenty from
the nearest mainland, so there is no need for it to be disturbed by
anything worse than the warm and rainy winds that burst upon it from
north-east and north-west.

       *       *       *       *       *

Water, the force that beautifies the west and south-west, has been
the chief foe of their explorers. The first whites to penetrate their
gorges and wet forests found their main obstacles in rivers, lakes,
and swamps. Unlike pioneers elsewhere, they had nothing to fear from
savages, beasts, reptiles, or fever. Brunner, one of the earliest
to enter Westland, spent more than a year away from civilisation,
encountering hardship, but never in danger of violence from man
or beast. Still, such a rugged and soaking labyrinth could not be
traversed and mapped out without loss. There is a death-roll, though
not a very long one. Nearly all the deaths were due to drowning. Mr.
Charlton Howitt, one of the Anglo-Victorian family of writers and
explorers, was lost with two companions in Lake Brunner. The one
survivor of Howitt’s party died from the effects of hardship. Mr.
Townsend, a Government officer, who searched Lake Brunner for Howitt’s
body, was himself drowned not long after, also with two companions.
Mr. Whitcombe, surveyor, perished in trying to cross the Teremakau in
a canoe. Von Haast’s friend, the botanist Dr. Sinclair, was drowned
in a torrent in the Alps of Canterbury. Quintin M’Kinnon, who did as
much as any one to open up the region between the southern lakes and
the Sounds, sank in a squall while sailing alone in Lake Te Anau.
Professor Brown, of the University of Otago, who disappeared in the
wilds to the west of Manapouri, is believed to have been swept away in
a stream there. The surveyor Quill, the only man who has yet climbed
to the top of the Sutherland Falls, lost his life afterwards in the
Wakatipu wilderness. Only one death by man’s violence is to be noted
in the list--that of Dobson, a young surveyor of much promise, who was
murdered by bush-rangers in northern Westland about forty years ago. I
have named victims well known and directly engaged in exploring. The
number of gold-diggers, shepherds, swagmen, and nondescripts who have
gone down in the swift and ice-cold rivers of our mountains is large.
Among them are not a few nameless adventurers drawn westward by the
gold rushes of the ’sixties. It is a difficult matter to gauge from
the bank the precise amount of risk to be faced in fording a clouded
torrent as it swirls down over hidden boulders and shifting shingle.
Even old hands miscalculate sometimes. When once a swagman stumbles
badly and loses his balance, he is swept away, and the struggle is soon
over. There is a cry; a man and a swag are rolled over and over; he
drops his burden and one or both are sucked under in an eddy--perhaps
to reappear, perhaps not. It may be that the body is stranded on a
shallow, or it may be that the current bears it down to a grave in the
sea.

[Illustration: BELOW THE JUNCTION OF THE BULLER AND INANGAHUA RIVERS]

The south-western coast was the first part of our islands seen by a
European. Tasman sighted the mountains of Westland in 1642. Cook
visited the Sounds more than once, and spent some time in Dusky Sound
in 1771. Vancouver, who served under Cook, anchored there in command
of an expedition in 1789; and Malaspina, a Spanish navigator, took his
ship among the fiords towards the end of the eighteenth century. But
Tasman did not land; and though the others did, and it is interesting
to remember that such noted explorers of the southern seas came there
in the old days of three-cornered hats, pigtails, and scurvy, still it
must be admitted that their doings in our south-western havens were
entirely commonplace. Vancouver and the Spaniards had no adventures.
Nothing that concerns Cook can fail to interest the student; and the
story of his anchorages and surveys, of the “spruce beer” which he
brewed from a mixture of sprigs of rimu and leaves of manuka, and
of his encounters with the solitary family of Maori met with on the
coast, is full of meaning to the few who pore over the scraps of
narrative which compose the history of our country prior to 1800. There
is satisfaction in knowing that the stumps of the trees cut down by
Cook’s men are still to be recognised. To the general reader, however,
any stirring elements found in the early story of the South Island
were brought in by the sealers and whalers who came in the wake of
the famous navigators, rather than by the discoverers themselves. One
lasting service the first seamen did to the Sounds: they left plain and
expressive names on most of the gulfs, coves, and headlands. Doubtful
Sound, Dusky Sound, Wet Jacket Arm, Chalky Island, Parrot Island,
Wood Hen Cove, speak of the rough experiences and everyday life of the
sailors. Resolution, Perseverance, Discovery have a salt savour of
difficulties sought out and overcome. For the rest the charm of the
south-west comes but in slight degree from old associations. It is a
paradise without a past.

[Illustration: BREAM HEAD, WHANGAREI HEADS]

The sealers and whalers of the first four decades of the nineteenth
century knew our outlying islands well. Of the interior of our mainland
they knew nothing whatever; but they searched every bay and cove of the
butt-end of the South Island, of Rakiura, and of the smaller islets
for the whale and fur seal. The schooners and brigs that carried these
rough-handed adventurers commonly hailed either from Sydney, Boston,
or Nantucket, places that were not in those days schools of marine
politeness or forbearance. The captains and crews that they sent out
to southern seas looked on the New Zealand coast as a No Man’s Land,
peopled by ferocious cannibals, who were to be traded with, or killed,
as circumstances might direct. The Maori met them very much in the
same spirit. Many are the stories told of the dealings, peaceable or
warlike, of the white ruffians with the brown savages. In 1823, for
instance, the schooner _Snapper_ brought away from Rakiura to Sydney a
certain James Caddell, a white seaman with a tattooed face. This man
had, so he declared, been landed on Stewart Island seventeen years
earlier, as one of a party of seal-hunters. They were at once set upon
by the natives, and all killed save Caddell, who saved his life by
clutching the sacred mantle of a chief and thus obtaining the benefit
of the law of Tapu. He was allowed to join the tribe, to become one of
the fighting men, and to marry a chief’s daughter. At any rate, that
was his story. It may have been true, for he is said to have turned his
back on Sydney and deliberately returned to live among the Maori.

A more dramatic tale is that of the fate of a boat’s crew from the
_General Gates_, American sealing ship. In 1821 her captain landed a
party of six men somewhere near Puysegur Point to collect seal-skins.
So abundant were the fur seals on our south-west coast in those days
that in six weeks the men had taken and salted 3563 skins. Suddenly
a party of Maori burst into their hut about midnight, seized the
unlucky Americans, and, after looting the place, marched them off as
prisoners. According to the survivors, they were compelled to trudge
between three and four hundred miles, and were finally taken to a big
sandy bay on the west coast of the South Island. Here they were tied
to trees and left without food till they were ravenously hungry. Then
one of them, John Rawton, was killed with a club. His head was buried
in the ground; his body dressed, cooked, and eaten. On each of the next
three days another of the wretched seamen was seized and devoured in
the same way, their companions looking on like Ulysses in the cave of
the Cyclops. As a crowning horror the starving seamen were offered some
of the baked human flesh and ate it. After four days of this torment
there came a storm with thunder and lightning, which drove the natives
away to take shelter. Left thus unguarded, Price and West, the two
remaining prisoners, contrived to slip their bonds of flax. A canoe
was lying on the beach, and rough as the surf was, they managed to
launch her. Scarcely were they afloat before the natives returned and
rushed into the sea after them, yelling loudly. The Americans had just
sufficient start and no more. Paddling for dear life, they left the
land behind, and had the extraordinary fortune, after floating about
for three days, to be picked up, half dead, by the trading schooner
_Margery_. The story of their capture and escape is to be found in
Polack’s _New Zealand_, published in 1838. Recently, Mr. Robert M’Nab
has unearthed contemporary references to the _General Gates_, and, in
his book _Muri-huku_, has given an extended account of the adventures
of her skipper and crew. The captain, Abimelech Riggs by name, seems
to have been a very choice salt-water blackguard. He began his career
at the Antipodes by enlisting convicts in Sydney, and carrying them
off as seamen. For this he was arrested in New Zealand waters, and had
to stand his trial in Sydney. In Mr. M’Nab’s opinion, he lost two if
not three parties of his men on the New Zealand coast, where he seems
to have left them to take their chance, sailing off and remaining away
with the finest indifference. Finally, he appears to have taken revenge
by running down certain canoes manned by Maori which he chanced to meet
in Foveaux Straits. After that _coup_, Captain Abimelech Riggs
vanishes from our stage, a worthy precursor of Captain Stewart of the
brig _Elisabeth_, the blackest scoundrel of our Alsatian period.

[Illustration: LAWYER’S HEAD]

Maori history does not contribute very much to the romance of the
south-west. A broken tribe, the Ngatimamoe, were in the eighteenth
century driven back to lurk among the mountains and lakes there. Once
they had owned the whole South Island. Their pitiless supplanters, the
Ngaitahu, would not let them rest even in their unenviable mountain
refuges. They were chased farther and farther westward, and finally
exterminated. A few still existed when the first navigators cast anchor
in the fiords. For many years explorers hoped to find some tiny clan
hidden away in the tangled recesses of Fiordland; but it would seem
that they are gone, like the moa.

The whites came in time to witness the beginning of a fresh process
of raiding and dispossession--the attacks on the Ngaitahu by other
tribes from the north. The raids of Rauparaha among the Ngaitahu of
the eastern coast of the South Island have often been described; for,
thanks to Mr. Travers, Canon Stack, and other chroniclers, many of
their details have been preserved. Much less is known of the doings
of Rauparaha’s lieutenants on the western coast, though one of their
expeditions passed through the mountains and the heart of Otago.
Probably enough, his Ngatitoa turned their steps towards Westland
in the hope of annexing the tract wherein is found the famous
greenstone--a nephrite prized by the Maori at once for its hardness and
beauty. In their stone age--that is to say, until the earlier decades
of the nineteenth century--it furnished them with their most effective
tools and deadliest weapons. The best of it is so hard that steel will
not scratch its surface, while its clear colour, varying from light to
the darkest green, is far richer than the hue of oriental jade. Many
years--as much as two generations--might be consumed in cutting and
polishing a greenstone _meré_ fit for a great chief.[5] When perfected,
such a weapon became a sacred heirloom, the loss of which would be
wailed over as a blow to its owner’s tribe.

[5] See Mr. Justice Chapman’s paper on the working of greenstone in the
_Transactions of the N.Z. Institute_.

[Illustration: A MAORI CHIEFTAINESS]

The country of the greenstone lies between the Arahura and Hokitika
rivers in Westland, a territory by no means easy to invade eighty
years ago. The war parties of the Ngatitoa reached it, however,
creeping along the rugged sea-coast, and, where the beaches ended,
scaling cliffs by means of ladders. They conquered the greenstone
district (from which the whole South Island takes its Maori name,
Te Wai Pounamou), and settled down there among the subdued natives.
Then, one might fancy, the Ngatitoa would have halted. South of the
Teremakau valley there was no greenstone; for the stone, _tangi-wai_,
found near Milford Sound, though often classed with greenstone, is
a distinct mineral, softer and much less valuable. Nor were there
any more tribes with villages worth plundering. Save for a few
wandering fugitives, the mountains and coast of the south-west were
empty, or peopled only by the Maori imagination with ogres and fairies,
dangerous to the intruder. Beyond this drenched and difficult country,
however, the Ngatitoa resolved to pass. They learned--from captives,
one supposes--of the existence of a low saddle, by which a man may
cross from the west coast to the lakes of Otago without mounting two
thousand feet. By this way, the Haast Pass, they resolved to march, and
fall with musket and _meré_ upon the unexpecting Ngaitahu of Otago.
Their leader in this daring project was a certain Puoho. We may believe
that the successes of Rauparaha on the east coast, and the fall, one
after the other, of Omihi, the two stockades of Akaroa, and the famous
_pa_ of Kaiapoi, had fired the blood of his young men, and that Puoho
dreamed of nothing less than the complete conquest of the south. He
nearly effected it. By a daring canoe voyage from Port Nicholson to
southern Westland, and by landing there and crossing the Haast Saddle,
this tattooed Hannibal turned the higher Alps and descended upon Lake
Hawea, surprising there a village of the Ngaitahu. Only one of the
inhabitants escaped, a lad who was saved to guide the marauders to
the camp of a family living at Lake Wanaka. The boy managed to slip
away from the two captors who were his guards, and ran all the way
to Wanaka to warn the threatened family--his own relatives. When the
two guards gave chase, they found the intended victims prepared for
them; they fell into an ambuscade and were both killed--tomahawked.
Before the main body of the invaders came up, the Ngaitahu family was
far away. At Wanaka, Puoho’s daring scheme became more daring still,
for he conceived and executed no less a plan than that of paddling
down the Clutha River on rafts made of flax sticks--crazy craft for
such a river. The flower stalks or sticks of the native flax are
buoyant enough when dead and dry; but they soon become water-logged
and are absurdly brittle. They supply such rafts as small boys love to
construct for the navigation of small lagoons. And that strange river,
the Clutha, while about half as long as the Thames, tears down to the
sea bearing far more water than the Nile. Nevertheless the Clutha did
not drown Puoho and his men: they made their way to the sea through the
open country of the south-east. Then passing on to the river Mataura,
they took another village somewhere between the sea and the site of a
town that now rejoices in the name of Gore. Then indeed the fate of the
Ngaitahu hung in the balance, and the Otago branches of the tribe were
threatened with the doom of those of the northern half of the island.
They were saved because in Southland there was at the moment their one
capable leader in their later days of trouble--the chief Tuhawaiki,
whom the sealers of the south coast called Bloody Jack. Hurrying up
with all the warriors he could collect, and reinforced by some of the
white sealers aforesaid, this personage attacked the Ngatitoa by the
Mataura, took their stockade by escalade, and killed or captured the
band. Puoho himself was shot by a chief who lived to tell of the
fray for more than sixty years afterwards. So the Ngaitahu escaped
the slavery or extinction which they in earlier days had inflicted on
the Ngatimamoe. For, three years after Puoho’s raid, the New Zealand
Company appeared in Cook’s Strait, and thereafter Rauparaha and his
braves harried the South Island no more.



CHAPTER VII

OUTLYING ISLANDS


The New Zealand mainland--if the word may be used for anything so
slender and fragmentary--is long as well as slight. Nearly eleven
hundred miles divide the south end of Stewart Island from Cape Maria
Van Diemen. If the outposts of the main are counted in, then the
Dominion becomes a much larger, though more watery, expanse. Its
length is about doubled, and the contrast between the sunny Kermadecs
and the storm-beaten Aucklands becomes one of those things in which
Science delights. It is a far cry from the trepang and tropic birds
(the salmon-pink bo’suns) of the northern rocks to the sea-lions that
yawn at the casual visitor to Disappointment Island. The Kermadecs--to
employ an overworked expression--bask in the smiles of perpetual
summer. The Three Kings, lying thirty-eight miles beyond the tip of
the North Island, might be Portuguese isles, and the Chathams--as far
as climate goes--bits of France. But the peaty groups of the shivering
South lie right across the pathway of the Antarctic gales. Even on
their quieter days the grey sky that overhangs them looks down on
a sea that is a welter of cold indigo laced with white. Relentless
erosion by ocean rollers from the south-west has worn away their
western and south-western shores into steep cliffs, cut by sharp-edged
fissures and pitted by deep caves. For their vegetation you must
seek their eastern slopes and valleys, or the shores of land-locked
harbours. On some of the smaller of them, parakeets and other
land-birds learn to fly little and fly low, lest they should be blown
out to sea. The wild ducks of the Aucklands are flightless, and in the
same group are found flies without wings. In the Snares the mutton-bird
tree lies down on its stomach to escape the buffeting blasts, clutching
the treacherous peat with fresh rootlets as it grows or crawls along.
The western front of the Aucklands shows a wall of dark basalt, thirty
miles long, and from four hundred to twelve hundred feet high. No beach
skirts it; no trees soften it; only one inlet breaks it. Innumerable
jets and little cascades stream from its sharp upper edge, but--so say
eye-witnesses--none appear to reach the sea: the pitiless gusts seize
the water, scatter it into spray-smoke and blow it into air. The wind
keeps the waterfalls from falling, and their vapour, driven upward, has
been mistaken for smoke from the fires of castaway seamen.

There is, however, one race to whom even the smallest and wildest
of our islets are a source of unceasing interest and ever-fresh, if
malodorous, pleasure. Zoologists know them for the procreant cradles of
Antarctic sea-fowl. And that, from the Kermadecs to the Bounties and
the Antipodes, they assuredly are. On Raoul--the largest Kermadec--you
may walk among thousands of mutton-birds and kick them off their nests.
On the West King, gannets and mackerel gulls cover acre after acre so
thickly that you cannot help breaking eggs as you tread, or stumbling
against mother-gannets, sharp in the beak. On dismal Antipodes Island,
the dreary green of grass and sedge is picked out with big white birds
like white rosettes. In the Aucklands, the wandering albatross is found
in myriads, and may be studied as it sits guarding its solitary egg
on the rough nest from which only brute force will move it. On the
spongy Snares, penguins have their rookeries; mutton-birds swarm, not
in thousands, but millions; sea-hawks prey on the young of other birds,
and will fly fiercely at man, the strange intruder. Earth, air, and
sea, all are possessed by birds of unimaginable number and intolerable
smell. Penguins describe curves in the air as they dive neatly from the
rocks. Mutton-birds burrow in the ground, whence their odd noises mount
up strangely. Their subterranean clamour mingles with the deafening
discords of the rookeries above ground. On large patches the vegetation
is worn away and the surface defiled. All the water is fouled. The
odour, like the offence of Hamlet’s uncle, “is rank: it smells to
Heaven.” Mr. Justice Chapman found it strong a mile out to sea. In
that, however, the Snares must cede the palm to the Bounties; dreadful
and barren rocks on which a few insects--a cricket notably--alone
find room to exist among the sea-birds. In violent tempests the foam
is said to search every corner of the Bounties, cleansing them for the
nonce from their ordure. But the purity, such as it is, is short lived.
All who have smelt them are satisfied to hope that surf and sea-birds
may ever retain possession there. Indeed, as much may be said for the
Snares. Science may sometimes perambulate them, just as Science--with
a handkerchief to her nose--may occasionally pick her steps about the
Bounties; but none save _savants_ and sea-lions are likely to claim any
interest in these noisome castles of the sea-fowl.

Some of our larger outposts in the ocean are not repulsive by any
means. If human society were of no account, the Kermadecs would be
pleasant enough. One or two of them seem much more like Robinson
Crusoe’s fertile island, as we read of it in Defoe’s pages, than
is Juan Fernandez. Even the wild goats are not lacking. Flowering
trees grow on well-wooded and lofty Raoul; Meyer Island has a useful
boat-harbour; good fish abound in the warm and pellucid sea. To
complete the geniality, the largest island--some seven or eight
thousand acres in size--has a hot bathing-pool. One heroic family defy
solitude there, cultivate the fertile soil, and grow coffee, bananas,
figs, vines, olives, melons, peaches, lemons, citrons, and, it would
seem, anything from grenadilloes to potatoes. Twenty years ago, or
thereabout, our Government tempted a handful of settlers to try life
there. A volcanic disturbance scared them away, however, and the one
family has since plodded on alone. Stories are told of the life
its members live, of their skill in swimming and diving, and their
struggles with armies of rats and other troubles. Once when the steamer
that visits them yearly was late, its captain found the mother of the
family reduced to her last nib--with which she nevertheless had kept
up her diary. On board the steamer was the lady’s eldest daughter, a
married woman living in New Zealand. She was making a rough voyage of
a thousand miles to see her mother--for two days. Sooner or later--if
talk means anything--Auckland enterprise will set up a fish-curing
station on Meyer Island. That, I suppose, will be an answer to the
doubts which beset the minds of the Lords of the British Admiralty
when this group, with its Breton name, was annexed to New Zealand. The
colony asked for it, and the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty were
duly consulted. Their secretary wrote a laconic reply to the Colonial
Office observing that if New Zealand wanted the Kermadecs my Lords saw
“no particular reason” why “that colony” should not have “these islands
or islets”; but of what possible use they could be to New Zealand my
Lords couldn’t imagine.

The Three Kings mark a point in our history. It was on the 5th of
January that Tasman discovered them. So he named them after the three
wise kings of the East--Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The Great
King, the largest of them, is not very great, for it contains, perhaps,
six or seven hundred acres. It is cliff-bound, but a landing may
usually be made on one side or the other, for its shape resembles the
device of the Isle of Man. Into one of its coves a cascade comes down,
tumbling two hundred feet from a green and well-timbered valley above.
Tasman saw the cascade; and as the _Heemskirk_ and her cockle-shell of
a consort were short of fresh water, he sent “Francis Jacobsz in our
shallop, and Mr. Gillimans, the supercargo,” with casks to be filled.
When, however, the two boats neared the rocks, the men found thereon
fierce-looking, well-armed natives, who shouted to them in hoarse
voices. Moreover, the surf ran too high for an easy landing. So the
Dutchmen turned from the white cascade, and pulled back to Tasman,
who took them aboard again, and sailed away, to discover the Friendly
Islands. Thus it came about that though he discovered our country, and
spent many days on our coasts, neither he nor any of his men ever set
foot on shore there. Did Francis Jacobsz, one wonders, really think the
surf at Great King so dangerous? Or was it that good Mr. Gillimans,
supercargo and man of business, disliked the uncomfortable-looking
spears and _patu-patu_ in the hands of the Rarewa men? Tasman, at any
rate, came to no harm at the Three Kings, which is more than can be
said of all shipmasters; for they are beset with tusky reefs and strong
currents. A noted wreck there was that of the steamship _Elingamite_,
which went down six years ago, not far from the edge of the deep ocean
chasm where the submarine foundations of New Zealand seem to end
suddenly in a deep cleft of ocean.

Thanks to a thick white fog, she ran on a reef in daylight on a quiet
Sunday morning. She was carrying fifty-eight of a crew and about twice
as many passengers. There was but a moderate sea, and, as those on
board kept cool, four boats and two rafts were launched. Though one
boat was capsized, and though waves washed several persons off the
wreck, nearly every one swam to a boat or was picked up. One woman,
however, was picked up dead. No great loss or sufferings need have
followed but for the fog. As it was, the shipwrecked people were
caught by currents, and had to row or drift about blindly. Their
fates were various. The largest boat, with fifty-two souls, was
luckiest: it reached Hohoura on the mainland after but twenty-five
hours of wretchedness. There the Maori--like the barbarous people of
Melita--showed them no small kindness. It is recorded that one native
hurried down to the beach with a large loaf, which was quickly divided
into fifty-two morsels. Others came with horses, and the castaways,
helped up to the _kainga_, had hot tea and food served out to them.
Whale-boats then put out and intercepted a passing steamer, which at
once made for the Three Kings. There, on Tuesday, eighty-nine more of
the shipwrecked were discovered and rescued. One party of these had
come within a hundred and fifty yards of an islet, only to be swept
away by a current against which they struggled vainly. Finally, they
made Great King, and supported life on raw shell-fish till, on the
third day after the wreck, the sun, coming out, enabled them (with the
aid of their watch-glasses) to dry the six matches which they had
with them. Five of these failed to ignite; the sixth gave them fire,
and, with fire, hope and comparative comfort. They even gave chase to
the wild goats of the island, but, needless to say, neither caught nor
killed any.

One of the rafts, unhappily, failed to make land at all. A strong
current carried it away to sea, and in four days it drifted sixty-two
miles. Fifteen men and one woman were on it, without food or water,
miserably clothed, and drenched incessantly by the wash or spray. The
woman gave up part of her clothing to half-naked men, dying herself
on the third day. Four others succumbed through exhaustion; two threw
themselves into the sea in delirium. Three steamers were out searching
for the unfortunates. It was the _Penguin_, a King’s ship, which found
them, as the fifth day of their sufferings was beginning, and when
but one man could stand upright. The captain of the man-of-war had
carefully gauged the strength of the current, and followed the raft far
out to the north-east.

Gold and silver, to the value of £17,000, went down with the
_Elingamite_. Treasure-seekers have repeatedly tried to fish it up, but
in vain.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: WEAVING THE KAITAKA]

Five hundred miles to the east of Banks’ Peninsula lie the pleasant
group called the Chatham Islands. They owe their auspicious name
to their luck in being discovered in 1790 by the Government ship
_Chatham_. Otherwise they might have been named after Lord Auckland,
or Mr. Robert Campbell, or Stewart the sealer, as have others of our
islands. They are fabled of old to have been, like Delos, floating
isles, borne hither and thither by sea and wind. The Apollo who brought
them to anchor was the demi-god Kahu. The myth, perhaps, had its
origin in the powerful currents which are still a cause of anxiety to
shipmasters navigating the seas round their shores. They are fertile
spots, neither flat nor lofty, but altogether habitable. The soft air
is full of sunshine, tempered by the ocean haze, and in it groves of
karaka-trees, with their large polished leaves and gleaming fruit,
flourish as they flourish nowhere else. Neither too hot nor cold,
neither large nor impossibly small--they are about two and a half
times the size of the Isle of Wight,--the Chathams, one would think,
should have nothing in their story but pleasantness and peace. And,
as far as we know, the lot of their old inhabitants, the Moriori,
was for centuries marked neither by bloodshed nor dire disaster. The
Moriori were Polynesians akin to, yet distinct from, the Maori. Perhaps
they were the last separate remnant of some earlier immigrants to New
Zealand; or it is possible that their canoes brought them from the
South Seas to the Chathams direct; at any rate they found the little
land to their liking, and living there undisturbed, increased till,
a hundred years ago, they mustered some two thousand souls. Unlike
the Maori, they were not skilled gardeners; but they knew how to cook
fern-root, and how to render the poisonous karaka berries innocuous.
Their rocks and reefs were nesting-places for albatrosses and
mutton-birds; so they had fowl and eggs in plenty. A large and
very deep lagoon on their main island--said to be the crater of a
volcano--swarmed with eels.

They were clever fishermen, and would put to sea on extraordinary
rafts formed of flax sticks buoyed up by the bladders of the giant
kelp. Their beaches were well furnished with shell-fish. Finally, the
fur seal haunted their shores in numbers, and supplied them with the
warmest of clothing. Indeed, though they could weave mantles of flax,
and dye them more artistically than the Maori, they gradually lost
the art: their sealskin mantles were enough for them. As the life of
savages goes, theirs seems to have been, until eighty years ago, as
happy as it was peaceful and absolutely harmless. For the Moriori
did not fight among themselves, and having, so far as they knew, no
enemies, knew not the meaning of war. They were rather expert at making
simple tools of stone and wood, but had no weapons, or any use therefor.

Upon these altogether inoffensive and unprovocative islanders came a
series of misfortunes which in a couple of decades wiped out most of
the little race, broke its spirit, and doomed it to extinction. What
had they done to deserve this--the fate of the Tasmanians? They were
not unteachable and repulsive like the Tasmanians. Thomas Potts, a
trained observer, has minutely described one of them, a survivor of
their calamitous days. He saw in the Moriori a man “robust in figure,
tall of stature, not darker in colour perhaps than many a Maori, but
of a dull, dusky hue, rather than of the rich brown” so common in the
Maori. Prominent brows, almond eyes, and a curved, somewhat fleshy nose
gave the face a Jewish cast. The eyes seemed quietly watchful--the eyes
of a patient animal “not yet attacked, but preparing or prepared for
defence.” Otherwise the man’s demeanour was quiet and stolid. Bishop
Selwyn, too, who visited the Chathams in 1848, bears witness to the
courteous and attractive bearing of the Moriori. They were not drunken,
irreclaimably vicious, or especially slothful. They were simply
ignorant, innocent, and kindly, and so unfitted for wicked times and a
reign of cruelty.

White sealers and whalers coming in friendly guise began their
destruction, exterminating their seals, scaring away their sea-fowl,
infecting them with loathsome diseases. Worse was to come. In the
sealing schooners casual Maori seamen visited the Chathams, and saw in
them a nook as pleasant and defenceless as the city of Laish. One of
these wanderers on his return home painted a picture of the group to an
audience of the Ngatiawa tribe in words which Mr. Shand thus renders:--

“There is an island out in the ocean not far from here to the
eastward. It is full of birds--both land and sea-birds--of all kinds,
some living in the peaty soil, with albatross in plenty on the outlying
islands. There is abundance of sea and shell-fish; the lakes swarm
with eels; and it is a land of the karaka. The inhabitants are very
numerous, but they do not know how to fight, and have no weapons.”

[Illustration: “TE HONGI”]

His hearers saw a vision of a Maori El Dorado! But how was it to be
reached? In canoes they could not venture so far, nor did they know the
way. Doubtless, however, they remembered how Stewart of the _Elisabeth_
had carried Rauparaha and his warriors to Akaroa in the hold of his
brig a few years before. Another brig, the _Rodney_, was in Cook’s
Strait now, seeking a cargo of scraped flax. Her captain, Harewood, was
not such a villain as Stewart; but if he could not be bribed he could
be terrified--so thought the Ngatiawa. In Port Nicholson (Wellington
harbour) lies a little islet with a patch of trees on it, like a tuft
of hair on a shaven scalp. Nowadays it is used as a quarantine place
for dogs and other doubtful immigrants. Thither the Ngatiawa decoyed
Harewood and a boat’s crew, and then seizing the men, cajoled or
frightened the skipper into promising to carry them across the sea
to their prey. Whether Harewood made much ado about transporting the
filibustering cannibals to the Chathams will probably never be known.
He seems to have had some scruples, but they were soon overcome, either
by fear or greed. Once the bargain was struck he performed his part
of it without flinching. The work of transport was no light task. No
less than nine hundred of the Maori of Cook’s Strait had resolved
to take part in the enterprise, so much had Rauparaha’s freebooting
exploits in the south inflamed and unsettled his tribe. To carry this
invading horde to the scene of their enterprise the _Rodney_ had to
make two trips. On the first of them the Maori were packed in the
hold like the negroes on a slaver, and when water ran short suffered
miseries of thirst. Had the Moriori known anything of war they might
easily have repelled their enemies. As it was, the success of the
invasion was prompt and complete. Without losing a man the Maori soon
took possession of the Chathams and their inhabitants. The land was
parcelled out among the new-comers, and the Moriori and their women
tasted the bitterness of enslavement by insolent and brutal savages.
They seem to have done all that submissiveness could do to propitiate
their swaggering lords. But no submissiveness could save them from
the cruelty of barbarians drunk with easy success. Misunderstandings
between master and slave would be settled with a blow from a tomahawk.
On at least two occasions there were massacres, the results either of
passion or panic. In one of these fifty Moriori were killed; in the
other, perhaps three times that number of all ages and sexes. On the
second occasion the dead were laid out in a line on the sea-beach,
parents and children together, so that the bodies touched each other.
The dead were of course eaten; it is said that as many as fifty were
baked in one oven. I have read, moreover, that the Maori coolly kept
a number of their miserable slaves penned up, feeding them well, and
killed them from time to time like sheep when butcher’s meat was
wanted. This last story is, I should think, doubtful, for as the whole
island was but one large slave-pen, there could be no object in
keeping victims shut up in a yard. The same story has been told of
Rauparaha’s treatment of the islanders of Kapiti. But Kapiti is but
a few miles from the main shore, and one of his destined victims, a
woman, is said to have swum across the strait with her baby on her
back. The unhappy Moriori had nowhere to flee to, unless they were to
throw themselves into the sea. The white traders and sealers on the
coast were virtually in league with their oppressors. The only escape
was death, and that way they were not slow to take. Chroniclers differ
as to the precise disease which played havoc with them, but I should
imagine that the pestilence which walked among them in the noonday was
Despair. At any rate their number, which had been 2000 in 1836, was
found to be 212 in 1855. The bulk of the race had then found peace in
the grave. It is a relief to know that the sufferings of the survivors
had by that time come to an end. Long before 1855 the British flag had
been hoisted on the Chathams and slavery abolished. After a while the
New Zealand Government insisted upon a certain amount of land being
given back to the Moriori. It was a small estate, but it was something.
The white man, now lord of all, made no distinction between the two
brown races, and in process of time the Maori, themselves reduced to
a remnant, learned to treat the Moriori as equals. These better days,
however, came too late. The Moriori recognised this. For in 1855,
seeing that their race was doomed, they met together and solemnly
agreed that the chronicles of their people should be arranged and
written down, so that when the last was dead, their name and story
should not be forgotten. The conquering Maori themselves did not fare
so much better. They stood the test of their easy success as badly as
did Pizarro’s filibusters in Peru. They quarrelled with their friends,
the white traders and sealers, and suffered in an unprovoked onslaught
by the crew of a certain French ship, the _Jean Bart_. Then two of
the conquering clans fell out and fought with each other. In the end
a number of them returned to New Zealand, and the remainder failed to
multiply or keep up their strength in the Chathams. In the present day
Moriori and Maori together--for their blood has mingled--do not number
two hundred souls.

[Illustration: WAHINE’S CANOE RACE ON THE WAIKATO]

The affair of the _Jean Bart_ is a curious story. The vessel, a
French whaler, anchored off the Chathams in 1839. Eager to trade, the
Maori clambered on board in numbers. They began chaffering, and also
quarrelling with one another, in a fashion that alarmed the captain.
He gave wine to some of his dangerous visitors, and tried to persuade
them to go ashore again. Many did so, but several score were still in
the ship when she slipped her cable and stood out to sea. Then the
Frenchmen, armed with guns and lances, attacked the Maori, who were
without weapons, and cleared the decks of them. The fight, however,
did not end there. A number of the Ngatiawa were below, whither the
whites did not venture to follow them. They presently made their way
into a storeroom, found muskets there, and opened fire on the crew. Two
of the Frenchmen fell, and the remainder in panic launched three
boats and left the ship. By this time the _Jean Bart_ was out of sight
of land, but the Maori managed to sail back. She went ashore, and was
looted and burnt. About forty natives had been killed in the strange
bungling and causeless slaughter. The whalers and their boats were
heard of no more. It is thought that they were lost in the endeavour to
make New Zealand.[6]

[6] In the _Journal of the Polynesian Society_, vol. i., Mr. A. Shand
summarises and compares the various versions of this odd business.

We have seen how the Maori began their invasion of the Chathams by
the seizure of the _Rodney_ at Port Nicholson. It is curious that the
best-known incident of the subsequent history of the group was almost
the exact converse of this--I mean the seizure at the Chathams of the
schooner _Rifleman_ in July 1868. In this case, too, the aggressors
were Maori, though they did not belong to the Chathams. They were
prisoners of war or suspected natives deported thither from the North
Island, and kept there under loose supervision by a weak guard. Their
leader, Te Kooti, had never borne arms against us, and had been
imprisoned and exiled on suspicion merely. A born leader of men, he
contrived the capture of the _Rifleman_ very cleverly, and sailed her
back to the North Island successfully, taking with him one hundred and
sixty-three men and one hundred and thirty-five women and children. The
schooner was carrying a respectable cargo of ammunition, accoutrements,
food, and tobacco; but the fugitives could muster between them only
about thirty rifles and guns. Yet with this scanty supply of weapons
Te Kooti managed to kindle a flame in the Poverty Bay district that
took years to extinguish. Finally, after massacring many settlers, and
winning or losing a series of fights with our militia and their native
allies, his forces were scattered, and he was hunted away with a few
followers into the country of the Maori king. There he was allowed to
settle undisturbed. He lived long enough to be forgiven, to have his
hand shaken by our Native Minister, and to have a house with a bit of
land given to him by the Government. He was not a chivalrous opponent.
A savage, he made war in savage fashion. But he was a capable person;
and I cannot resist the conclusion that in being banished to the
Chathams and kept there without trial, he was given reason to think
himself most unjustly used.

[Illustration: NATIVE GATHERING]

The only trouble given by the natives at the Chathams in later days
took the form of a little comedy. The Maori there own a good deal
of live-stock, including some thousands of sheep and a number of
unpleasant and objectionable dogs. The Maori _kuri_, an unattractive
mongrel at the best, is never popular with white settlers; but in the
year 1890 the _kuri_ of the Chathams became a distinct nuisance. A
dog-tax was levied on the owners, but this failed either to make them
reduce the number of their dogs or restrain them from worrying the
flocks of the white settlers. If I remember rightly, the Maori simply
declined to pay the dog-tax. When they were prosecuted and fined, they
refused to pay the fines. The Government of the day, with more
vigour than humour, despatched a steamer to the Chathams, arrested
some forty of the recalcitrants, brought them to the South Island, and
lodged them in Lyttelton Gaol. The Maori, who have a keen sense of
the ridiculous, offered no resistance whatever. I suspect that they
did not greatly dislike the trip; it enabled them to see the world.
Their notion of hard labour and prison discipline was to eat well, to
smoke tobacco, and to bask in the sunshine of the prison yard. It was
impossible to treat them harshly. After a while they were sent home,
where their adventure formed food for conversation in many and many
a nocturnal _korero_. In the meantime their dogs lived and continued
to chase sheep. At this stage the writer of these pages joined the
New Zealand Government, and the unhappy white flock-owners laid their
troubles before him. At first the little knot did not seem, to an
inexperienced Minister, quite easy to untie. After some cogitation,
however, a way was found of ending the comedy of errors. What that was
is another story. Since then, no more terrible incident has disturbed
the Chathams than the grounding of an Antarctic iceberg on their
coast--a somewhat startling apparition in latitude 44° south.

Otherwise the Chatham islanders have gone on for the last forty years
living quietly in the soft sea-air of their little Arcadia, without
roads and without progress. They grow wool and export it; for the
rest, they exist. A small steamer visits them half-a-dozen times a
year, and brings news, groceries, and clothes, also the correct
time. Great is the tribulation when her coming is delayed. A friend
of mine who witnessed a belated arrival tells me that the boat found
a famine raging. The necessaries lacking, however, were not food, but
tobacco and hairpins. The 60,000 sheep depastured on the islands have
played havoc with some of the native vegetation, and have brought
down retribution in the shape of moving drifts of blown sea-sand,
whereby many acres of good pasture have been overwhelmed. However,
that wonderful binding grass, the marram, has been used to stop the
sand, and is said to have stayed the scourge. Much native “bush” is
still left, and shows the curious spectacle of a forest where trees
spread luxuriantly but do not grow to much more than twenty feet in
height. That, says Professor Dendy, is due to the sea-winds--not cold,
but laden with salt. In this woodland you may see a veronica which
has become a tree, a kind of sandalwood, and a palm peculiar to the
islands. That beautiful flower, the Chatham Island lily--which, by the
way, is not a lily,--blooms in many a New Zealand garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Auckland Isles lie some three hundred miles south of our mainland.
They are nearly four times the size of St. Helena, where, as we know,
several thousand people have in the past managed to live, chiefly
on beef and a British garrison. No one, however, now lives in the
Aucklands. New Zealanders speak of their climate in much the same
strain as Frenchmen use when talking of November fogs in London. There
are, however, worse climates in several parts of the United Kingdom.
It does not always rain there; there are many spots where you are
sheltered from the wind. It is not so cold but that tree-ferns will
grow--the group is their southern limit. The leaning or bowed habits
of the forest are due as much, perhaps, to the peaty soil as to the
sou’westers. Vegetables flourish; goats, pigs, and cattle thrive.
So far are the valleys and hill-sides from being barren that their
plant-life is a joy to the New Zealand botanists, who pray for nothing
so much as that settlement may hold its hand and not molest this floral
paradise. Pleurophyllums, celmisias, gentians, veronicas, grass-trees,
spread beside the sea-gulfs as though in sub-alpine meadows. The leaves
are luxuriant, the flowers richer in colour than on our main islands.
The jungle of crouching rata tinges the winding shores with its summer
scarlet. Dense as are the wind-beaten groves, the scrub that covers the
higher slopes is still more closely woven. The forest you may creep
through; the scrub is virtually impenetrable. A friend of mine, anxious
to descend a steep slope covered with it, did so by lying down and
rolling on the matted surface. He likened it to a wire-mattress--with a
broken wire sticking up here and there.

In addition to their botanical fame, the Aucklands have a sinister
renown among seafaring men. Nature has provided the group with nearly a
dozen good harbours. Two among these, Port Ross and Carnley Harbour,
have found champions enthusiastic enough to style them the finest
seaports in the world. Yet, despite this abundance of shelter, the
isles are infamous as the scene of shipwrecks. They are in the track
of Australian ships making for Cape Horn by passing to the south of
New Zealand. In trying to give a wide berth to the Snares, captains
sometimes go perilously near the Aucklands. To go no further back,
eight wrecks upon them have been recorded during the last forty-five
years; while earlier, in 1845, there are said to have been three in one
year. The excellent harbours, unluckily, open towards the east; the
ships running before the westerly winds are dashed against the terrible
walls of rock which make the windward face of the group. The survivors
find themselves on desolate and inclement shores hundreds of miles from
humanity. Many are the tales of their sufferings. Even now, though the
Government of New Zealand keeps up two well-stocked depôts of food and
clothing there, and despatches a steamer to search for castaways once
or twice a year, we still read of catastrophes followed by prolonged
misery. Five men from a crew of the _Grafton_, lost in 1864, spent no
less than eighteen months on the islands. At length they patched up the
ship’s pinnace sufficiently to carry three of them to Stewart’s Island,
where they crept into Port Adventure in the last stage of exhaustion.
The two comrades they had left behind were at once sent for and brought
away. Less lucky were four sailors who, after the wreck of the _General
Grant_, two years later, tried to repeat the feat of a boat-voyage
to Stewart Island. They were lost on the way. Indeed, of eighty-three
poor souls cast away with the _General Grant_, only ten were ultimately
rescued, after spending a forlorn six months on the isles. The case of
the _General Grant_ was especially noteworthy. She did not run blindly
against the cliffs in a tempest, but spent hours tacking on and off
the western coast in ordinary weather. Finally, she found her way into
a cave, where she went down with most of those on board her. At least
£30,000 in gold went with her, and in the effort to find the wreck and
recover the money, the cutter _Daphne_ was afterwards cast away, with
the loss of six lives more.

Cruel indeed was the ill-luck of the crew of the four-masted barque
_Dundonald_ which struck on the Aucklands in March 1907. They saw
a cliff looming out just over their bows shortly after midnight.
An attempt to wear the ship merely ended in her being hurled stern
foremost into a kind of tunnel. The bow sank, and huge seas washed
overboard the captain, his son, and nine of the crew. Sixteen took
refuge in the tops, and one of them, a Russian, crept from a yard-arm
on to a ledge of the cliff. After daylight a rope was flung to him
and doubled, and along this bridge--sixty feet in air above the
surges--fifteen men contrived to crawl. On reaching the summit of
the cliff they discovered the full extent of their bad fortune. They
had been cast away, not on the larger Aucklands, but on the peaked
rock ominously named Disappointment Island. It contains but four or
five square miles, and is five miles away from the next of the group.
Heart-stricken at the discovery, the chief mate lay down and died in
a few days. The second mate’s health also gave way. The carpenter and
sail-maker, whose skill would have been worth so much to the castaways,
had been drowned with the captain. A few damp matches and some canvas
and rope were almost all that was saved from the ship before she
disappeared in deep water.

For seven months the survivors managed to live on Disappointment
Island, showing both pluck and ingenuity. For a day or two they had to
eat raw sea-birds. Then, when their matches had dried, they managed
to kindle a fire of peat--a fire which they did not allow to expire
for seven months. They learned a better way of cooking sea-fowl than
by roasting them. At the coming of winter weather they dug holes in
the peat, and building over these roofs of sods and tussock-grass,
lay warm and dry thereunder. These shelters, which have been likened
to Kaffir kraals, appear to have been modelled on Russian pig-sties.
The seamen found a plant with large creeping stems, full of starch,
and edible--by desperate men. When the seals came to the islands they
mistook them for sea-serpents, but presently finding out their mistake,
they lowered hunters armed with clubs to the foot of the cliffs, and
learned, after many experiments, that the right place to hit a seal
is above the nose. They found penguins tough eating, and seal’s flesh
something to be reserved for dire extremity. Their regular ration of
sea-birds, they said, was three molly-hawks a day for each man. As to
that, one can only say, with Dominie Sampson, “Prodigious!” Searching
their islet they lighted upon a crack in the ring of cliff where a
waterfall tumbled into a quiet little boat-harbour, the bathing-pool
of sea-lions. Then they determined to build a boat and reach that
elysium, the main island, with its depôt of stores. With greased canvas
and crooked boughs cut from the gnarled veronica, which was their only
timber, they managed to botch up something between a caricature of a
Welsh coracle and “the rotten carcase of a boat” in which Antonio and
the King of Naples turned Prospero and Miranda adrift. Rowing this
leaky curiosity with forked sticks, three picked adventurers reached
the main island--only to return without reaching the depôt. Another
boat, and yet another, had to be built before a second transit could
be achieved; and when the second crossing was effected, the coracle
sank as the rowers scrambled on shore. This, however, completed the
catalogue of their disasters, and was “the last of their sea-sorrow.”
The depôt was reached in September, and in the boat found there the
tenants of Disappointment Island were removed to comfort and good
feeding at Port Ross. With the help of an old gun they did some
cattle-shooting on Enderby Island hard by, and in the end were taken
off by the Government steamer _Hinemoa_ in December.

Campbell Island, another habitable though sad-coloured spot, is a kind
of understudy of the Aucklands--like them, but smaller, with less
striking scenery and scantier plant life. It has, however, a local
legend odd enough to be worth repeating. In the hodden-grey solitude
there are certain graves of shipwrecked men and others. Among them
is one called the Grave of the Frenchwoman. On the strength of this
name, and of a patch of Scottish heather blooming near it, a tale has
grown up, or been constructed, which would be excellent and pathetic
if there were the slightest reason to suppose it true. It is that the
Frenchwoman who sleeps her last sleep in rainy Campbell Island was a
natural daughter of Charles Edward, the Young Pretender. She has even
been identified with the daughter of Prince Charles and Clementina
Walkenshaw, the Scottish lady who met him at Bannockburn House in the
’45, and long afterwards joined him abroad. This daughter--says the
New Zealand story--became, when she grew up, an object of suspicion
to the Prince’s Jacobite followers. They believed that she was a spy
in the pay of the English Court. So they induced Stewart, a Scottish
sea-captain, to kidnap the girl and carry her to some distant land.
Stewart--whose name remains on our Stewart Island--did his work as
thoroughly as possible by sailing with her to the antipodes of France.
On the way he gained her affections, and established her at Campbell
Island, where she died and was buried. Such is the story; sentiment has
even been expended on the connection between Bonnie Prince Charlie and
the patch of heather aforesaid.

It is true certainly that there was a daughter named Charlotte or
Caroline, or both, born to the Prince and Miss Walkenshaw in the year
1753. But it was the mother, not the daughter, who was suspected of
being a spy in English pay. Clementina left the Prince, driven away by
his sottish brutalities, just as did his legal wife, the Countess of
Albany. The Countess adjusted her account by running away with Alfieri
the poet. Abandoned by both women, Charles seems to have found some
consolation in the society of his daughter Charlotte, to whom, even in
his last degraded years, he showed his better side. He went through
the form of making her Duchess of Albany. She remained with him till
his death in 1788, and seems to have followed him to the grave a year
afterwards. In any case, Stewart, the sea-captain of the legend, did
not find his way to our southern isles till the earlier years of the
nineteenth century. That was too late by a generation for Jacobite
exiles to be concerned about the treachery of English agents. He is
described in Surgeon-Major Thomson’s book as a man “who had seen the
world and drunk Burgundy,” so it is possible that the story may have
had a Burgundian origin. Who the buried Frenchwoman was I cannot say,
but French seamen and explorers, as the map shows, have visited and
examined Campbell Island. It would be a desolate spot for a Frenchwoman
to live in; but when we are under earth, then, if the grave be deep
enough, all lands, I suppose, are much alike.



APPENDIX

A WORD TO THE TOURIST


[Illustration: WHITE CLIFFS, BULLER RIVER]

Passengers to New Zealand may be roughly divided into two kinds--those
who go to settle there, and those who go as visitors merely. The
visitors, again, may be separated into sportsmen, invalids, and
ordinary tourists who land in the country in order to look round
and depart, “to glance and nod and hurry by.” Now by passengers and
travellers of all sorts and conditions I, a Government official, may be
forgiven if I advise them to make all possible use of the Government
of the Dominion. For it is a Government ready and willing to give
them help and information. I may be pardoned for reminding English
readers that the Dominion has an office in London with a bureau, where
inquirers are cheerfully welcomed and inquiries dealt with. Official
pamphlets and statistics may not be stimulating or exciting reading;
but, though dry and cautious, they are likely to be fairly accurate. So
much for the information to be got in England. When the passenger lands
in New Zealand, I can only repeat the advice--let him make every use
he can of the Government. If he be in search of land, he cannot
do better than make his way to the nearest office of the Lands and
Survey Department. If he be a skilled labourer whose capital is chiefly
in his muscles and trade knowledge, the Department of Labour will
tell him where he can best seek for employment. Last, but not least,
if he be a tourist of any of the three descriptions above mentioned,
he cannot easily miss the Tourist Department, for that ubiquitous
organisation has agents in every part of the islands. Once in their
hands, and brought by them into touch with the State and the facilities
its railways offer, the traveller’s path is made as smooth as ample
knowledge and good advice can make it. The journey from Auckland to
Wellington may now be made by railway, while the voyage from Wellington
to Lyttelton is but a matter of ten to eleven hours. Old colonists will
understand what a saving of time and discomfort these changes mean.

The visitor need not overburden himself with any cumbrous or
extravagant outfit. He is going to a civilised country with a temperate
climate. The sort of kit that might be taken for an autumn journey
through the west of Ireland will be sufficient for a run through New
Zealand. A sportsman may take very much what he would take for a
hunting or fishing holiday in the highlands of Scotland; and, speaking
broadly, the mountaineer who has climbed Switzerland will know what to
take to New Zealand. Of course any one who contemplates camping out
must add the apparatus for sleeping, cooking, and washing; but these
things can be bought in the larger New Zealand towns at reasonable
prices.

A much more complicated question is the route which the traveller
should follow on landing. The districts for deer-shooting are well
known. Indeed, the sportsman need have no difficulty in mapping out
a course for himself. All will depend on the season of the year and
the special game he is after. Any one interested in the progress of
settlement and colonisation may be recommended to pass through the
farming district between the Waiau River in Southland and the river
of the same name which runs into the sea about sixty miles north of
Christchurch. Next he should make a journey from Wellington to New
Plymouth, along the south-west coast of New Zealand, and again from
Wellington to Napier, threading the districts of Wairarapa, the Seventy
Mile Bush, and Hawke’s Bay. The city of Auckland and its neighbourhood,
and the valley of the Waikato River also, he should not miss.

[Illustration: THE OTIRA GORGE]

Let me suppose, however, that what the tourist wants is rather the
wilderness and its scenery than prosaic evidence of the work of
subduing the one and wrecking the other. His route then will very much
depend on the port that is his starting-point. Should he land at Bluff
Harbour he will find himself within easy striking distance of the Otago
mountain lakes, all of which are worth a visit, while one of them,
Manapouri, is perhaps as romantic a piece of wild lake scenery as the
earth has to show. The sounds or fiords of the south-west coast can
be comfortably reached by excursion steamer in the autumn. The
tougher stamp of pedestrian can get to them at other times in the year
by following one of the tracks which cross the mountains from the lake
district aforesaid to the western coast. The beauty of the route from
Te Anau through the Clinton Valley, and by way of the Sutherland Falls
to Milford Sound, is unsurpassed in the island.

Aorangi, the highest peak of the Southern Alps, and the centre of
the chief glaciers, is best approached from Timaru, a seaport on the
eastern coast a hundred and twelve miles south of Christchurch. Any
one, however, who is able to travel on horseback may be promised a
rich reward if he follows the west coast, southward from the town of
Hokitika, and passes between Aorangi and the sea, on that side. Between
Hokitika and the Canterbury Plains the journey by rail and coach is for
half its distance a succession of beautiful sights, the finest of which
is found in the deep gorge of the Otira River, into which the traveller
plunges on the western side of the dividing range. Inferior, but well
worth seeing, is the gorge of the Buller River, to be seen by those who
make the coach journey from Westport to Nelson. Nelson itself is finely
placed at the inner end of the grand arc of Blind Bay. The drive thence
to Picton on Queen Charlotte Sound, passing on the way through Havelock
and the Rai Valley, has charming points of view.

The better scenery of the North Island is not found in the southern
portion unless the traveller is prepared to leave the beaten track and
do some rough scrambling in the Tararua and Ruahiné Mountains. Then,
indeed, he will have his reward. Otherwise, after taking in the fine
panorama of Wellington Harbour, he may be recommended to make his way
with all convenient speed to New Plymouth and the forest-clad slopes of
Mount Egmont. Thence he should turn to the interior and reach the Hot
Lakes district by way of one of the river valleys. That of the Mokau
is extremely beautiful in its rich covering of virgin forest. But the
gorges of the Wanganui are not only equal to anything of the kind in
beauty, but may be ascended in the most comfortable fashion. Arrived at
the upper end of the navigable river, the traveller will make his way
by coach across country to Lake Taupo and the famous volcanoes of its
plateau.

[Illustration: LAKE WAIKARE-MOANA]

More often the tourist gains the volcanoes and thermal springs by
coming thither southward from the town of Auckland. And here let
me observe that Auckland and its surroundings make the pleasantest
urban district in the islands. Within thirty miles of the city there
is much that is charming both on sea and land. Nor will a longer
journey be wasted if a visit be paid to the chief bays and inlets of
the northern peninsula, notably to Whangaroa, Whangarei, Hokianga,
and the Bay of Islands. Still, nothing in the province of Auckland
is likely to rival in magnetic power the volcanic district of which
Roto-rua is the official centre. To its other attractions have now
been added a connection by road with the unspoiled loveliness of Lake
Waikarémoana and the forest and mountain region of the Uriwera
tribe, into which before the ’nineties white men seldom ventured, save
in armed force. Rising like a wall to the east of the Rangitaiki River
the Uriwera country is all the more striking by reason of the utter
contrast it affords to the desolate, half-barren plains of pumice which
separate it from the Hot Lakes. These last and their district include
Taupo, with its hot pools and giant cones. But the most convenient
point among them for a visitor’s headquarters is undoubtedly Roto-rua.



Index


Acclimatisation, 59

Acclimatisers, 65

Adams, Arthur, 21

Akaroa, 190, 201, 215

Albatrosses, 213

Alps, 6, 160, 166, 179

Antipodes Island, 206

Aorangi, 163, 164, 165, 167, 170, 173, 175, 233

Ara-tia-tia Rapids, 123

Art, 20, 21, 49

Auckland, 19, 28, 75, 90, 101, 104, 114, 129, 132, 142, 193, 231, 232,
234 Isles, 91, 94, 184, 191, 204, 205, 206, 222, 223, 225

Australia, 5, 10, 11, 20, 37, 73, 101, 165

Australian stock-riders, 68


Bay of Plenty, 115, 116, 117, 120, 140

Beech, 87 woods, 161

Bell, Dr. Mackintosh, 176

Bell-bird, 192

Bidwill, 128, 136

Blackwell, 24

Blue duck, 64

Bounties, the, 206, 207

Bowen, the 182

British trees, 7

Broadleaf, the large or shining, 94

Brunner, 177, 193

Buddle, Mr., 117

Buick, 24

Buller River, 160, 233

Bush-fire, 105 lawyer, 99 settler, 40

Butler, Samuel, 162, 163

Butter, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 factories, 11


Caddell, James, 196, 197

Campbell Island, 227, 228, 229

Canoe, 76, 77

Cape Maria Van Diemen, 133, 204

Carrick, Mr., 24

Chapman, Mr. Justice, 200, 206

Charles Edward, the young Pretender, 228

Chatham Island lily, 222

Chatham Islands, the, 190, 204, 211, 212, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219,
220, 221

Cheese, 12, 13, 14, 17

Chief towns, 18

Christchurch, 28, 132, 162, 232, 233

Clematis, 37, 94, 95

Climate, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 14, 35, 36, 38, 52, 165, 170, 187, 222

Clutha River, 202

Cockayne, Dr., 24, 191

Colenso, 95, 97

Contrasts, 6

Cook, Captain, 168, 180, 195

Coprosma, 100

Country labourers, 50 life, 28, 29, 32, 35, 39 life tendencies, 46

Cowan, Mr. James, 24, 130

Craddock, Colonel, 53

Cricket, 72, 73


Decentralised colony, 19

Deer-stalking, 61

Department of Public Health, 44

Disappointment Island, 204, 226, 227

Domett, 21, 138, 155

Douglas glacier, 176

Drummond, Mr. James, 24

_Dundonald_, the barque, 225

Dunedin, 28

Dusky Sound, 180, 186 Sound in 1771, 195


Eels, 65, 213, 214

Egmont, Mount, 105, 125, 165, 234

_Elingamite_, 211

English trees and flowers, 2

Eruption of Tarawera, 139, 144


Factories, 26

Factory hands, 26

Fairies, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83

Fairy-tales, 80

Farm labourers, 14, 51

Farmers, 8, 13, 17, 29, 30, 31, 46, 47, 50, 106

Farming, 32

Fern, 55, 86

Ferns, 38, 85, 116, 119

Fiords, 179

Fire, 77, 102, 106, 107, 108, 110, 125, 183

Fish, 65

Fishing, 49

Fitzgerald, E. A., 171, 172, 173

Flax, 12, 13, 37, 86, 95, 99, 202, 213

Flightless birds, 184, 186, 188 duck, 184, 204

Football, 71, 72

Forests, 104, 105

Freeholders, 48

Freezing, 13 factory, 15

Frozen beef, 17 mutton, 11

Fuchsias, 94


Garden, 34, 49, 107

Gardening, 36, 85

_General Gates_, the, 197

_General Grant_, the, 224, 225

Gentians, 94, 223

Gerard, Mr. George, 61

Geyser, 116, 119, 139, 148, 150, 151, 152, 164

Goats, 52, 53, 54, 104, 191, 223

Godwits, 62, 192

Gold-mining, 13

_Grafton_, the, 224

Grass, 2, 7, 41, 72, 102, 106, 107, 108, 120, 121, 124, 125, 163, 222,
226

Green, Mr., 166, 168, 171, 175

Green’s climb, Mr., 169

Greenstone, 200

Grey, Sir George, 80, 129, 155

Grey duck, 62, 64 kiwi, 184


Hamilton, A., 24

Hardie, Mr. Keir, 27

Harewood, 215

Hauraki Gulf, 74, 186, 192

Hau-roto, 160, 177, 179

Hawke’s Bay, 104, 232

Hazard, Mr., 145

Healing waters, 154

Health Department, 45

Hemp, 12, 13

Henry, Mr. Richard, 187, 188, 189

High Alps, 57

Hinemoa, 155

Hochstetter, 136, 163 ice-fall, 176

Hongi, 156, 157, 158

Hooker glacier, 172, 174, 176

Hori Haupapa, 157

Horo-Horo, 126

Horses, 68, 69, 71

Hotels, 20

Hot Lakes, 134, 234, 235 Lakes District, 118

House-sparrow, 60

Howitt, Mr. Charlton, 193

Huka, 123

Hutton, 24


Inter-colonial trade, 10

Island sanctuaries, 186


_Jean Bart_, the, 218, 219

_Journal of the Polynesian Society_, 24, 219


Kahikatea, 101

Kahukura, 80

Kaka, 57, 63, 84, 96

Kakapo, 184, 186, 189

Kapiti, 186, 190, 191, 217

Karaka, 37, 95, 96, 97, 98, 191, 212, 214

Kauri, 11, 88, 89, 90, 91, 101, 103, 106, 192 gum, 13

Kea, 57, 58, 167, 186

Kermadecs, 133, 204, 207, 208

Kirk, 91

Kirk’s _Forest Flora_, 24

Kiwi, 186, 188, 189

Kowhai, 87, 94, 95, 96

Krakatoa, 141


Laing, 24, 92

Lake Taupo, 116, 127, 234 Tikitapu, 144

Lakes of the South Island, 177

Lance-wood, 88, 100

Likeness to England, 2

Literature, 21, 22, 23

Little Barrier Island, 75, 186, 191, 192


Mackay, Miss, 21

Manapouri, 177, 179, 187, 192, 232

Mannering, Mr., 170, 171

Manuka, 37, 55, 95

Maori--their belief in fairies, 77, 78, 79 boys, 96 burning of forest,
103 cannibalism, 126 canoes, 198 chief, 141 children, 44 cooking, 153
of Cook’s Strait, 215 dogs, 57, 220 drink, 44 fairy-tales, 80 fight,
192 their food, 83 gentleman, 128 guide, 134 guns, 84 their health,
43 history, 199 Horo-Horo, 126 hunters, 184 karaka, their use of the,
97, 98 kindness, 210 Lake Taupo, 116, 122, 123 their lands, 44  as
minstrels, 130 myths, 76 their numbers, 43, 218 offerings to Tané, 77
their outlook, 45 poem, 131 prophets, 159 their qualities, 45 race,
129, 158 ruins of stockade, 118 solitary family, 195 tradition, 115
travellers, 125 tribe, 40, 157 villages, 152 warrior, 158 woman, 133
women, 100

Matai, 87

Matipo, 37

Mayor Island, 118, 119, 120

Meat, 13, 14, 16 freezing, 14

Middle class, 25

Milford Sound, 180, 181, 182, 183, 200

Mistletoe, 94

M’Kinnon, Quintin, 193

M’Nab, Mr., 24, 198

Moa, 184, 199

Mokoia, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159

Moriori, 190, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218

Motor-driving, 49

Mount Cook, 163, 175 Ruapehu, 95 Tasman, 164

Mountain-lily. See Shepherd’s lily

Murchison glacier, 176

Music, 21, 49

Mutton, 13, 16, 34, 41, 58

Mutton-bird, 84, 206, 213


Names of lakes and mountains, 178

Napier, 232

National parks, 183

Native pigeons, 62

Nei-nei, 100

Nelson, 28, 74, 142, 177, 233

Newspapers, 22, 23

New Zealand harriers, 69

Ngaitahu, 199, 202, 203

Ngata, Mr. Apirana, M.P., 45

Ngatimamoe, 199, 203

Ngatoro, 115, 116, 146

Ngauruhoe, 116, 128

Nikau, 37, 88


Ohinemutu, 118, 133, 145, 152

Orchids, 94

Otira River, 233

Over-sea trade, 10


Palm-lily, 37, 88

Palm-tree, 86, 99

Panax, 88

Paradise duck, 64

Parrots, 62, 96

Parrot’s-beak, 94

Passion-flower, 94

Pelorus Jack, 66

Picton, 233

Pigeon, 84

Pigs, 233

Pink and White Terraces, 136, 137, 150, 164

Poetry, 21

Pohaturoa, 126

Pohutu, 151

Pohutu-kawa, 37, 87, 91, 192

Polack, 158

Polo, 49, 70

Pomaré, Dr., 45

Potts, Thomas, 24, 57, 104, 213

Products, 10

Provinces, 18

Pukeko, 63

Pumice, 120, 121, 124

Puoho, 201, 202

Puriri, 88, 90, 91, 93


Rabbit, 53, 59, 185

Rata, 76, 77, 87, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 187, 191, 223

Rauparaha, 190, 199, 201, 203, 215, 217

Recreations, 49

Red-deer, 60

Resemblance to Scotland, 2

Resolution Island, 186, 187, 196

Rewa-rewa, 88

Ribbon-wood, 95, 161

Riding, 49, 68

_Rifleman_, the, 219

Riggs, Captain Abimelech, 199

Rimu, 77, 87, 91

Roa, 184

_Rodney_, the, 215

Ross, Mr., 24, 130, 170, 174

Roto-ehu, 121

Roto-iti, 121, 144, 156

Roto-kakahi, 121

Roto-ma, 121

Roto-mahana, 118, 120, 121, 133, 136, 137, 140, 141, 143, 145

Roto-roa, 179

Roto-rua, 66, 67, 117, 121, 126, 133, 136, 145, 147, 148, 149, 151,
153, 154, 156, 175, 234, 235

Rua, 159

Ruapehu, 118, 119, 125, 126, 140


Salmon, 65

Saw-miller, 110, 112, 114 mills, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106

Scenery, 5, 6, 10, 52

Scenic reserves, 105

Selwyn, Bishop, 3, 128, 158, 214

Settlement, 8, 41, 160

Settlements, 18

Settler, 42, 106, 107, 162

Settlers, 49, 108, 128, 142, 207

Shand, Mr., 24, 214

Sheep, 11, 15, 45, 53, 56, 58, 59, 98, 103, 107, 109, 144, 163, 170,
220 stations, 33

Shepherd’s lily, 95, 161

Shipping companies, 15

Shipwrecks, 224

Shooting, 49

Smith, Mr. Percy, 24, 104, 116, 119

Snares, 205, 206, 207

Snaring, 83

Societies, 25

Society, 24

Sophia, the guide, 141, 147

Sounds, the, 179, 180, 182, 193, 195

Southern Alps, 14, 59, 163, 165, 233

Sparrows, 185, 187, 188, 191

Spearing, 67, 83

Sport, 50, 52, 66, 67, 70, 71, 149

Stack, Canon, 78, 199

State sanatorium, 153

Station, 35 hands, 39, 58

Steamship companies, 10, 19

Stewart, the sea-captain, 212, 228, 229

Stitch-bird, 192

Stoats, 59, 60, 185

Supplejack, 99

Sutherland Falls, the, 181, 182, 192 Falls to Milford Sound, 233


Takahé, 184

Tané, 78, 83

Tapu, 197

Tarata, 95

Tarawera, 120, 121, 136, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 145, 151

Tasman, 194, 195, 208, 209 glacier, 175, 176 Sea, 5

Taupo, 116, 119, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 133, 134, 148, 149, 153,
235

Tawa, 87

Te Anau, 177, 178, 179, 187, 192, 233

Te Heu Heu, 127, 128, 129, 130, 137, 158

Te Kanawa, 81, 82

Te Kooti, 219, 220

Terrace, 140, 143

Terraces, the, Pink and White, 136, 137, 150, 164

Te Waro, 151

Thermal Springs District, 118

Three Kings, the, 204, 208

Tikitapu, 121

Timber, 101, 103, 106, 108, 113, 125 cutting, 13

Titoki, 91

Toé-toé, 37, 95

Tohunga, 82, 158

Tongariro, 116, 119, 126, 127, 137, 146

Totalisator, 71

Totara, 77, 88, 90

Tourist Department, Government, 24, 175, 231

Towns, 19, 20, 22, 24, 28

_Transactions of the N.Z. Institute_, 24, 116, 200

Tree-felling, 109, 111 ferns, 38, 88, 191, 223

Tregear, Edward, 24, 77, 158

Trout, 66, 67, 109, 149

Tuhawaiki, 190, 202

Tukoto, 146, 147, 158, 159

Tutu, 95, 98


Union Steamship Company, 9

University, 18

Uriwera, 159, 235


Vegetable sheep, 58, 99

Veronicas, 37, 161, 223

Vogel, Sir Julius, 102, 104

Volcanoes, 6, 120, 234

Von Haast, 163, 166, 193 Hochstetter, 90, 164


Waikarémoana, 234

Waikato, 81, 123, 126, 150, 190, 232

Waikité Geyser, 150, 151

Waimangu, 150

Wairakei, 149

Wairoa, 145, 146

Wakatipu, 177, 178, 194

Walkenshaw, Clementina, 228, 229

Wall, Arnold, 21

Wandering albatross, 38, 206

Wanganui, 105, 125, 128, 234

Weasels, 59, 60, 185, 186

Webb, 74

Wekas, 188, 189

Wellington, 19, 28, 74, 132, 231, 232 Harbour, 234

Whaka-rewa-rewa, 147

Whangarei, 75, 234

Whangaroa, 75, 234

White Island, 115, 116, 117, 119, 140

Wild cattle, 54 dogs, 56 ducks, 63, 205 ducks--flightless, 184, 204
fowl shooting, 62 goats, 52, 53, 54, 104, 191, 223 parrots, 84 pigs,
54, 55, 109

Wood-fairies, 76 pigeon, 63

Wool, 10, 11, 12, 15, 34, 221

Working gentlemen, 48

Wreck of the steamship _Elingamite_, 209


Yachts, 74

_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

[Illustration: Map of New Zealand]
MAP ACCOMPANYING “NEW ZEALAND,” by the Hon. W. PEMBER REEVES and F. & W.
WRIGHT.  (A. & C. BLACK, LONDON).
_F. W. Flanagan, delt. Sept 1882._


    Transcriber’s Notes

    The changes are as follows:

    Page viii in the index—Aratiatia changed to Ara-tia-tia.
    Page 6—pine-woods changed to pine woods.
    Page 10—over sea changed to oversea.
    Page 31—axe-men changed to axemen.
    Page 35—outdoor changed to out-door.
    Page 71—network changed to net-work.
    Page 100—lancewood changed to lance-wood.
    Page 107—grass-seed changed to grass seed.
    Page 124—ARATIATIA changed to ARA-TIA-TIA.
    Page 187—sand-flies changed to sandflies.
    Page 194—bushrangers changed to bush-rangers.
    Page 207—bathing pool changed to bathing-pool.
    Page 215—sea birds changed to sea-birds.
    Page 215—shell fish changed to shell-fish.
    Page 232—mountain-lakes changed to mountain lakes.





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