The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson Part 21


The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson

The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson Part 21

The Lady Nelson's log will show how in 1806 she paid a second and perhaps a more important visit to New Zealand. Her commander was instructed by Governor King to convey Tippahee, a New Zealand Chief of the Bay of Islands on the north-east coast, back from Sydney to his own dominions.

At some time previously a son of this Chief had been brought to Port Jackson in a whaling vessel. The Governor had shown him kindness and had ordered some pigs to be sent from Norfolk Island to New Zealand for his father, and Tippahee, on receiving the present, had himself resolved to pay a visit to Governor King. He embarked with his four sons in a small colonial whaling vessel bound for Norfolk Island. The voyage was hardly a success, for on his arrival there he complained to the authorities that the master of the ship had treated them badly and had detained his youngest son. Captain Piper, the Commandant, gave them a very kind reception, and it is said rescued the youngest son from the master of the whaler. Shortly afterwards, H.M.S. Buffalo called at Norfolk Island, when Tippahee, with his sons, was received on board by Captain Houston, and after the Buffalo had visited Tasmania, the New Zealanders were brought to Sydney, where, dressed in the costume of a Chief of his country, Tippahee did homage to Governor King. We are told that this meant laying a mat at Governor King's feet and performing the ceremony of "joining noses." The Governor seems to have developed a great admiration for Tippahee. He allowed the Maori Chief to remain, along with his eldest son, as a guest at Government House, and provided his other sons with suitable lodgings. The Chief is described as being 5 feet 11 1/2 inches high, stout and athletic looking, and about forty-six years of age. His face was completely tattooed. Among other things, King writes of him that he was "a constant attendant at Divine Service," and he adds, "he had a contempt of the Australian aborigine."

The Reverend Samuel Marsden, then chaplain in Sydney, became intimately acquainted with Tippahee, and he, too, states that he found him "a man of very superior understanding and capable of receiving any instruction. His companions also manifested strong mental faculties." When the Maoris had remained in the colony as long as they wished--by that time becoming familiar figures to all the citizens of Sydney--the Governor gave instructions for the Lady Nelson to be fitted up to convey them back to their own country. Before their departure they were loaded with presents by the Governor and other friends, the gifts being carefully packed in chests and put on board the brig. On this voyage Governor King also ordered some bricks and the framework of a house for New Zealand to be received as part of the cargo.

On February 25th, Tippahee and his sons bade farewell to New South Wales and their numerous friends there, and on their going on board, the Lady Nelson immediately set sail for the Bay of Islands.

During the voyage the Chief was taken ill and Mr. Symons ordered a young man named George Bruce to nurse him. So well did Bruce carry out his duties, that Tippahee afterwards requested that he might be allowed to remain in New Zealand.* (* The request was granted, and Bruce was afterwards given Tippahee's daughter in marriage. How badly the pair were treated by the captain of a British vessel, which called at New Zealand to refit, is told in the Sydney Gazette, which states that Bruce and his wife were carried away from New Zealand in the Wellesley, first to Fiji and afterwards to Malacca, where Bruce was left behind. His wife was taken on to Penang, but on his making a complaint to the commanding officer at Malacca, that gentleman warmly espoused Bruce's cause and sent him to Bengal, where the authorities extended him aid, and eventually his wife was restored to him.)

The Chief's illness may have been an attack of sea-sickness, due to the roughness of the pa.s.sage, as the log records that the weather was very squally.

On March 2nd the Lady Nelson made a great deal of water and had to be pumped out. The vessel still remained in a leaky state, and this drawback, in conjunction with the cross currents and heavy gales that she encountered, greatly r.e.t.a.r.ded her progress.

A succession of gales followed, consequently the land of New Zealand was not sighted until March 30th, when at noon it was observed for the first time, trending from east-south-east to north-east.

At eight o'clock in the evening a prominent cape was seen eight miles distant, which Symons records was North-West Cape (or Cape Maria Van Diemen). At eleven the ship hauled round to the eastward and hove to.

Native fires were seen burning on land. Next morning at six o'clock the Lady Nelson made sail and stood in sh.o.r.e, and as she made her appearance she was met by two native canoes, but perceiving that the coast was very rocky and a gale arising the commander stood to the westward, Tunitico then being east-south-east half a mile. At five o'clock in the afternoon he again endeavoured to anchor, and the Lady Nelson was brought to in a bay "in 15 fathoms of water, sand and" Five canoes came alongside, and as the Maoris appeared very friendly a boat-load of wood and of water was obtained.

Working his way round the coast, which he says he could not "fetch," on April 3rd Lieutenant Symons made all sail for a bay to the south-east, and in the evening the ship came to anchorage, being then eleven leagues from North Cape. Of this place her Commander writes, "There are three islands laying to the south-east by north; one to the north which will break off all sail from this point of the compa.s.s. One of these islands is very thinly inhabited." The boat was lowered to sound between the island and the main, as a reef was perceived running out astern, and the soundings gave ten to five fathoms. At ten o'clock on April 4th the Lady Nelson again weighed and made sail to work to windward, and at eleven came to in eight fathoms of water--the bottom being "fine sand and"

At four o'clock two canoes containing only three men came alongside the ship, and early on the following morning three New Zealand Chiefs from the Island of t.i.tteranee, friends of Tippahee, came to welcome their countryman on his return.

On the Island of t.i.tteranee the natives were very friendly. One of their number, who had spent some time at Norfolk Island, came on board,* (* He was named Tookee.) and the Chiefs supplied the ship with a quant.i.ty of fish, for which Lieutenant Symons gave them bread in exchange. During the vessel's stay, the Chiefs of t.i.tteranee were not only constant visitors, but some appear to have remained altogether in the ship. Possibly the Commander saw a little too much of Tippahee and his friends, as while the boats were on sh.o.r.e cutting brooms and obtaining water, the former was exceedingly troublesome on board--two or three times causing a disturbance by lifting up weapons and threatening the seamen at their work. At noon on the 12th of April, Mr. Symons records that he became very mutinous. An Otaheitan in the ship informed the Commander that he had asked one of the Chiefs to go on sh.o.r.e and bring his men to attack the vessel. Tippahee's residence was at the Bay of Islands, and it seems fortunate that Lieutenant Symons was able to land him safely among his own people, for according to the Sydney Gazette he wielded great power and was acknowledged to be a great Chief by the New Zealanders "from the North Cape to his own dwelling place."

On April 20th, before reaching the Bay of Islands, the Commander of the Lady Nelson went to examine a deep bay to the south-west, which he explored. He found at the bottom of this bay a river which "ran south-south-east and north-north-west about three miles and one from the west-south-west to west-north-west...after the first Reach the River runs flat and 3 or 4 leagues. On the larboard sh.o.r.e of the river it is not safe for any vessel, drawing more than 12 feet, to attempt entering." He also mentions a lagoon which ran at the back of the beach to the eastward of the River and a deep bay; these were about one mile apart.

In returning from this little expedition of exploration--which was a very early one--the boat was upset and two muskets, three powder horns, and two pistols were lost. Symons had already lost the stock of the small bower anchor, the deep-sea lead, and the seine among the rocks. On April 22nd the ship took her departure from this harbour, leaving behind her here a seaman named Joseph Druce who deserted and could not be found.

On the evening of the same day Cavill's or Cavalli Island was sighted, and a native fire could be seen burning there. At noon the lat.i.tude observed was 34 degrees 43 minutes 57 seconds south. Next morning, while working off and on the sh.o.r.e, Cape Brett, some fourteen miles distant to the eastward, and at noon Point Poc.o.c.k (of Captain Cook) which lay to the south-east came into view.* (* The Point Poc.o.c.k of Cook is now Cape Wiwiki.)

On Friday the 25th April the Lady Nelson, escorted by three canoes bore up between two islands in the Bay of Islands and came to under the Island of Matuapo in two fathoms. Tippahee's home was situated on the north side of the Bay of Islands, just within Point Poc.o.c.k, and is described as "a considerable Hippah strongly fortified." The district extending to the northward was called Whypopoo, but Tippahee claimed the whole country across the island from Muri Whenua.* (* The name for the land's end or most northern part of New Zealand.) At the same time he admitted that his two great rivals were Mowpah, who was Chief of the territory in the neighbourhood of the River Thames, and Moodee, Chief of the territory to the northward.

Lieutenant Symons lost no time in sending the presents given to the Maoris at Sydney on sh.o.r.e, and at daylight on the day after his arrival he also landed the bricks and the framework of the wooden house. The house, by Governor King's orders, was to be erected in the most suitable spot possible, and was intended for the use of any officials who might be sent from Sydney, or for any missionaries whom the Governor might permit to dwell there. The carpenter was sent on sh.o.r.e to carry out the Governor's instructions, and he built the house on an island in the Bay of Islands on a site selected by Mr. Symons, who afterwards stated that the island was a very small one, but he believed that the house would be impregnable, and able to withstand the attacks of any force that the country at that time could bring against it.* (* This house was one of the first, if not the very first house, to be built in New Zealand. We do not hear even of a single sealer's hut then at the Bay of Islands, but shortly afterwards settlers and missionaries from Sydney arrived there, and in 1815 (see Calcutta Gazette, April 27th), after the missionaries arrived, houses began to grow up, and the Bombay Courier, November 20th, 1819, says of it, "The settlement at New Zealand appears to have a.s.sumed a regular form and to be regarded as a British Colony regulated under the control of New South Wales Government Authority. On September 29th the Missionaries, sent out by the Church Missionary Society, took their departure from Sydney for the Bay of Islands on board the American brig General Gates, one of them, the Reverend J. Butler, having previously been appointed by Governor Macquarie to act as justice of the peace and magistrate of the Island of New Zealand.")

The Lady Nelson waited for five days in the Bay of Islands, until the carpenter had completed his work, and during that time Tippahee, who seems to have overcome his fit of temper, brought on board many presents for his friends in Sydney, sending one to each person individually; these were for the most part weapons of war, which, observes the Sydney Gazette, "must have somewhat diminished his native armoury." A sample of New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) was also brought back from Tippahee's dominions. The flax was used by the Maoris not only in weaving mats and kirtles, but also for making fishing lines. The lines, although they were twisted entirely by hand, resembled the finest cord of European manufacture, The most useful presents, however, sent on board by Tippahee were some fine ships' spars, which New Zealand produced in great abundance, and also a quant.i.ty of seed potatoes, then very scarce in Sydney, and consequently greatly appreciated.

Leaving New Zealand, and after pa.s.sing Three Kings' Islands, Lieutenant Symons steered to Norfolk Island, where he embarked some men of the New South Wales Corps under Ensign Lawson for Sydney. During the long voyage of four months, the brig sustained no material damage, though she met with continuous bad weather, "thus preserving her character," says the Sydney Gazette, "as being a vessel of the greatest capability, considering her small dimensions."

This log throws fresh light on the character of Tippahee, who had been overwhelmed with kindness at Sydney and on board the Lady Nelson.

Notwithstanding this, Symons seems to have very narrowly escaped being attacked by the Maoris. In 1809, when almost every person on the Boyd was murdered at w.a.n.garoa, Captain Thompson was almost universally blamed for being too hasty with Tippahee. He had previously resented some slight theft, and on the old chief's coming to pay his respects, had told him "not to bother him as he was too busy." Possibly Captain Thompson's critics judged him too harshly, for had he been as watchful of Tippahee as Mr. Symons apparently was, the ma.s.sacre of the Boyd might not have occurred.

From Sydney to New Zealand.

Laying at Port Jackson.

JAMES SYMONS, Commander.

"Sunday, 19th January. 1806. P.M. At 1 fired a salute in honour of the Queen's birthday.

"Tuesday, 21st January. Received a boatload of bricks for New Zealand and stowed them away.

"Wednesday, 22nd January. Received boatload of bricks for New Zealand, sent for a boatload of firewood.

"Thursday, 23rd January. Strong breezes and cloudy with a great smoke in the woods.

"Friday, 24th January. Received on board part of a house for New Zealand.

", 25th January. P.M. Received the remainder of the house.

"Monday, 27th January. A.M. Received 2 chests on board for Tippahee going to New Zealand.

"Monday, 10th February. Sailed the Estramina, Spanish schooner, for Port Dalrymple.

"Wednesday, 12th February. Arrived ship Sophia and a boat from Tellicherry, a ship on the coast which was short of water.

"Thursday, 13th February. Made the signal for sailing, arrived the Tellicherry from England.

"Friday, 14th February. Came into the Cove the Sophia and Tellicherry.

", 15th February. Fired a gun and made signal for sailing.

"Sunday, 16th February. Received from Tellicherry on account of Government, 3600 pounds bread.

"Sunday, 23rd February. Arrived the Star Whaler from England in 18 weeks.

"Tuesday, 25th February. Weighed and made sail down the Harbour--came on board Tippahee and his 4 sons for their pa.s.sage to New Zealand.

"Wednesday, 26th February. P.M. Port Jackson at 4 north-west 6 miles: at 7 North Head bearing south-west by south about 12 miles.

", 1st March. P.M. Fresh breezes. At 12 strong gales: found the current had set the vessel to southwards: the rate of 10 miles per day.

"Sunday, 2nd March. P.M. Strong gales heavy sea: found the vessel had made a great deal of water, pumped her out: found the vessel's deck leak very much.

"Monday, 17th March. Heavy sea still running: found the current had set to windward about 40 miles. 35 degrees 35 seconds south.

"Friday, 21st March. Noon, moderate breezes, the current set to the northward, 3/4 mile per hour. 33 degrees 11 minutes 30 seconds south.

", 22nd March. At 9 A.M. capsized boat, got the main keel up, carpenter repairing it. 33 degrees 40 minutes 48 seconds south.

"Sunday, 30th March. North Cape distant 47 miles.

"Monday, 31st March. P.M. Strong breezes and squally, bore up and ran alongsh.o.r.e, slit the main top-gallant sail, employed getting the stirrup down and another up, at 8 North-West Cape or Cape Maria van Dieman north-west by north 8 miles at 10 wore and stood to the Westward Tunitico on east-south-east about 1/2 mile. Two canoes alongside.

"Tuesday, 1st April. P.M. Made and shortened sail--at 5 found the wind hang to south-east. At 10 found the vessel driving, wore away 2 thirds of the cable. At noon tide flows northward and alongsh.o.r.e about 5 feet, 5 canoes came alongside, the natives appear very friendly.

"Wednesday, 2nd April. P.M. Strong gales. At 4 came to in 20 fathoms of water, fine brown sand, the bottom appears in general very good and clear of rocks. Any ship or vessel may lay here with the wind from south-west to south-east in safety.

"Thursday, 3rd April. P.M. Tacked to work round the North Cape, at 8 North Cape south 2 miles. At noon about 15 miles.

"Friday, 4th April. P.M. At 4 fresh breezes and squally. At 6 shortened sail and came to at all leagues from the North Cape. There are three islands laying to the south-east by north one to the north which will break off all sail from this point of the compa.s.s. One of the islands is very thinly inhabited. At 10 weighed and made sail, to work to windward, at 11 came to in 8 fathoms of water--fine sand and

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