Journal of Events of Brunner’s incredible journey the length of the West Coast in 1846 / 1848
3rd. Mr Empson drove me up to Mr Duppa’s, where I slept.
4th. Walked down to Mr Kerr’s farm and saw my natives, who were staying there, but they would not move until the next day. Slept at Kerr’s
5th. After some trouble in packing our loads we started for Mr M’Rae’s farm, where we stayed over Sunday.
6th. Self and natives attended Divine service, and heard Mr Butt.
7th. Our loads being heavy, I employed a man to help me over the Motueka range, but halted at the Waiiti.
8th. Walked to Fraser’s station in the Motueka valley, and discharged the man.
9th. Stayed at Fraser’s, who was from home, to get his mule to carry our loads to the Rotuiti.
11th Started on our journey, with Fraser and mule assisting to carry our loads. Walked about six miles up the Motupiko.
12th. Walked about two miles up the river, past the junction of the Mapu and the end of the surveyed country.
Sunday, 13th. In order to allow Fraser to return we walked on, contrary to my intention of keeping Sunday. We reached the grass of the Rotuiti, the mule having carried her load of 150 lbs. gallantly.
14th. The natives requested me to allow them to keep today as Sunday, which we all did.
15th. Divided amongst us our mule’s load, and crossed the River Rotuiti. Slept at our old house on the Pukawini, or Howard, a small tributary stream, where we took possession of a bag of shot left on our last excursion.
16th. Walked up the Pukawini, but soon stopped, and built a house, being frightened by a shower of rain and a dull day.
17th. All hands affected more or less with dysentery, and with difficulty reached our old sleeping quarters in the bush.
18th. Crossed the hill at the head of the Howard, and reached the Roturoa about a mile from its outlet. Epike and wife and baggage paddled down to the river in our former canoe. Wind and cloudy all day.
19th. Showery, with wind. Natives out eel fishing. Rain at night.
20th. The heavy rain towards evening compelled us to repair the old house built by Ekehu when here before.
21st. Rain with wind all day.
22nd. A heavy gale of wind prevented us from proceeding up the lake according to my wish and intention.
23rd. Embarked on board our canoe. Came up to a remarkable fern-hill on the opposite side of the lake, and stopped there.
24th. Paddled up nearly to the head of the lake. Day windy. Explored the head of the lake, and found it entirely surrounded by a chain of snow-capped mountains, with a good sized stream flowing into it from the southward. There is certainly no accessible pass from the Roturoa towards the east, there being no break in the hills, or rather snow-capped mountains. The Wairau was the old pass of the natives who formerly resided at the pa on Waimea Plain.
There is a fresh-water mussel abounding in the Roturoa, called the kaiehau, which, boiled with the roots of the raupo, or bulrush, makes a palatable dish, and was the favourite meal of the celebrated savage Rauparaha.
With a very little expense a good track might be cut from the Motupiko to the Rotuiti Valley; the bush is open and clear, and the descent easy: distance about six miles. I am of opinion the Rotuiti is too cold and open for a sheep-run, and the grass much inferior to the Waira’u.
In the Rotuiti Valley is found a species of spearplant, called by the natives taramea, which is much valued by them. From its leaves they extract, by heat, a species of gum, which gives out a very pleasant and lasting scent. One seldom meets an old native that has not a bunch of feathers, in a bit of old blanket, scented with this gum, and tied about his neck.
25th. Heard a report, like that of a great gun, about sunset last evening; this frequently occurred in the sequel. On one occasion, further down the river, the reports were so regular and continual that Ekehu said they were the guns of a ship in distress at sea. Kept Christmas.
26th. Ascended a high hill to the north, whence I looked down upon the Rotuiti, with the expectation of getting a view to the east, but found it entirely shut out by the high snowy range. I could trace the outline of the mountains on each side of Blind Bay. The direct distance between the two lakes does not, I think, exceed six miles.
27th. A cold windy day, with showers.
28th. Raining all day, and the hills around covered with snow.
29th. Collected a quantity of fern-root and paddled back to our former quarters on the opposite shore. Wind and showers. 30th. Drying our fern-root and otherwise preparing for a start.
31st. After securing our canoe we started for the bush by our former route to the Tiraumea Valley, but made a poor day’s walk, owing to the heavy loads and the wetness of the bush.
January 1st, 1847.
Proceeded this morning at a good pace, when unfortunately Epike’s old wife was suddenly missing. We retraced our steps but did not find her till the evening. She said she had been struck by the Taipo, and did not know what she was doing until she came in sight of the remains of our last night’s fire.
2nd. Reached the eel station in the Tiraumea, and camped for the night.
3rd. Awoke this morning under a heavy shower of rain, which drove us from our quarters to seek a shelter, which we contrived to make out of the bark of the manuka.
4th. Staying under our bark shelter, the river too high for proceeding.
5th. The river still an obstacle to our onward progress. I ascended the river, whence I could see the valley Tutaki and part of the Matukituki. A fine day. The hills dividing the Tiraumea from the Tutaki are those to which the natives formerly resorted for the purpose of catching the kiwi and kakapo. These birds are now extinct here, having been destroyed by the wild dogs. formerly belonging to the natives, but which have taken to the bush. Numbers of them are to be seen here. At this place my two female traveling companions quarreled and fought. Their husbands taking part in the combat, I had much difficulty in reconciling them, and persuading them to continue their journey.
6th. This morning found the weather changed into a regular soaking wet day.
7th. Raining incessantly the whole day.
8th. The sun has again made his appearance, dispersed the clouds, and, with the assistance of a southwester, given us a fine day. Great fresh in the river. Collecting fern-root.
9th. A dull dirty day, with rain in showers.
10th. Very fine and warm. I again ascended a hill to the southward, but could see nothing but hills, or rather mountains, all round.
11th. Started this morning to wade the river Tiraumea. We passed the Mai, or waterfall, once celebrated as a kakapo station. Two or more persons crossing a river will find it much easier and safer to hold altogether by one long stick, using both hands, and holding it on the palm, the elbow downwards, the strongest of the party up the stream. The quicker you walk the better, taking care to keep the step of the leader. It is a curious feeling, particularly to your feet, which, from the force of the stream and the slipperiness of the stones, seem scarcely to touch the bottom. Made a good day’s march, the river being warm and clear, and a very fine day overhead.
12th. The natives awoke me this morning to announce the approach of rain, which soon began to fall heavily, driving us from our quarters to wade the river in search of some hole or other place wherein we could stow ourselves, there being no materials for house-building on the spot. To improve my comfort I missed my footing and fell into a hole over my head. We found an overhanging rock, and managed to get through the night.
13th. Walked to Ekehu’s first wari (whare or hut) in the Matukituki valley (Matakitaki), on the banks of the Buller. The rocky gorges through which the Buller runs up to this point now cease for about six miles, and the mountains receding, leave a valley called Matukituki, into which open two others; the Tutaki, running parallel to the Tiraumea, and separated from it by a mountain ridge on one side; and the Matiri on the north; each contributing its river to swell the waters of the Buller. The Matiri is a valley of considerable size, and, from its length and direction, I imagine the mountains which form its upper extremity must be the dividing ridge separating it from the valley 6f the Takaka opening into Massacre Bay. Fine day.
14th. Waiting for an abatement of the fresh in the river: Fine day.
15th. Started for the ford where Mr Fox was carried down, which we found much deeper than when we formerly crossed it; we all, however, reached the other side in safety, and proceeded to the next fall, which was much changed, and caused us all to drop our loads and look for another. We, however, could find none; so Ekehu agreed to go over first, and then return, if possible; he did so, partly swimming, partly wading. We then agreed to venture, all five holding our stick, taking off all our clothes, and securing our loads high on our shoulders: the river in some places ‘ran just mouth high, with a powerful current. We, however, reached the other side, having well wetted our clothes and loads.
16th. Walked on to my former return station, and repaired a house there.
17th. Spent in drying our clothes and kits.
18th. Finished making a kupanga, or net, which is about fifty feet by four. In the evening took a draught of about fifty good-sized fish with it, called the upukuroro, or fresh-water herring.
19th. Collected a quantity of the roots of the ti, or cabbage-tree, which we placed in a humu:, or native oven, for the night. The natives prepare a very palatable dish of the ti and fern-root. They extract the sweet particles of the former by beating and washing it in a proper quantity of water, and when about the consistency of honey they soak in the liquid some layers of well-beaten and cooked fern-root, which, when properly moistened, is eaten, and has a similar relish to gingerbread. This can only. be made when staying two or three days at a station. The root of the ti is the part used by the natives. It is generally from three to four feet long, and of a conic shape, with an immense number of long fibrous roots attached to it; so that the natives, whose tools consist of a pointed stick, and their hands, consider they have done a glorious day’s work if they manage to obtain five ti roots in the day. It requires an immense oven, and to remain twelve hours baking. Fine day.
20th. This morning opened our oven, which smelled like a sugar-boiling establishment. Found the ti excellent, but rather too sweet for a diet; however, this and the fish make a fine meal.
21st. Collecting fern-root. Collecting fern-root is very difficult, there being but a very small quantity eatable, and that the oldest, or deepest growth. Unfortunately my spade broke, so we had no tool but a pointed stick. Day showery.
22nd. Drying our fern-root, and making straps and baskets for the better carrying our loads. Fine day.
23rd. We have caught about 15 fish this week with our net, a great portion of which we have salted and dried for our future subsistence.
Sunday, 24th. Kept as a Sunday. Exceedingly warm.
25th. Having thus by a week’s halt laid in a store of provisions, we packed our stores and kits and crossed the river again in the manner I have before described. We got our kits wet, redried them, and walked about three miles down the northern bank of the river. From this point the country was quite new both to myself and my companions, and I found the river assumed an entirely different character, being deep and still, flowing over and between large granite rocks, and through a black birch country. Before, it abounded in eels, but we found none amongst the granite rocks or anything else fit to eat in the black birch forest; neither were there any ducks, and but few other birds. .
26th. This morning the day looked dirty, and we almost determined to return to our old quarters in the Matukituki ; but the general opinion was in favour of proceeding, and we therefore commenced climbing along our granite path. Towards the afternoon we had occasional showers, but we kept pushing on, and just before dusk reached a large ana, or hole in the rocks, where we put up for the night. The rain soon began to fall so heavily that we were all afraid of being drowned in our shelter before morning by the rising of the river.
27th. This morning at day-break we had to turn out of our cave, it being no longer safe, the fresh having risen to the threshold. We then built a bark house, and moved into it. Continual heavy rain. Having selected a dry spot for a house, we could find no materials for roofing it except the bark of the tawai, or black birch; this being heavy, requires a strong framework. To break the bark, Ekehu cuts it all round, and then with a chisel-pointed stick loosens it and breaks it off, which he generally does about twelve feet long. This bark forms a good roof when new, but soon curls “with the heat of fire or a few dry days.
28th. Steady rain throughout the day.
29th. Heavy rain. Great fresh in river.
30th. Rain all day.
31st. Towards eve the wind changed, and gave us once more a peep of the sun
February 1st. This morning the natives told me that the rain had so exhausted and spoilt our provisions, that as the country afforded none, it was necessary to return to the Matukituki station to replenish; so, after the wind had dried the bush, we started.
2nd. Retracing our steps towards Matukituki, which the fresh in river rendered difficult.
3rd. Crossed the river to our old house in the Matukituki.
4th. Collected and made an oven of ti. The native Epikewati had a dream, which foretold the death of his wife by drowning while crossing the Kawatiri, and she took fright, crying and wishing to return to Waimea, to which I gave consent readily, but Epike would not agree.
5th. Rain nearly all day.
6th. Showery. Collected a little fern-root.
7th. The weather seemed inclined to fair.
8th. All working at the fern-root.
9th. Getting fern-root.
10th. Raining all day. Repaired the house.
11th. We had today one of the heaviest storms of thunder I have ever seen, with a deluge of rain and a tremendous fresh in the river.
12th. Showery all day.
13th. Moderately fine. Collecting wekas.
14th. Fine warm day.
15th. Seeking for wood to construct a raft, but found none that would float.
16th. The day showery. Made an oven of the ti.
17th. Anniversary of the day Mr Fox was washed off his footing, and had to swim the Matukituki with his load on his back. Drying timber and constructing raft. The day dull and showery. The fruit of the kotukutuku, called konini, is a pleasant tasted berry, and is ripe about this month.
I am sorely disappointed in the appearance of the river during a fresh. I expected something majestic, instead of which I see nothing but .a dull dirty-looking stream, running steadily along, with every now and then a large tree or quantity of brushwood floating on its surface. The natives tell me that the best time for working a canoe up or down the river is during a high flood. .
18th. Placed our kits of provisions on raft, and again crossed the river, and proceeded onwards. Fine day. In order to cross the river we had to resort to a new method. The fresh prevented us from fording, and we could not find enough timber for a raft to carry us, and the river runs too rapidly to admit of rafts crossing, so we made a small one on which we placed all our clothes &c. The two fastest swimmers attached a small flax-line to the raft, and commenced swimming across; the remaining three swam behind, pushing the raft forward with one hand. For this method you must choose a reach of at least a mile long to cross the Buller when swollen.
19th. Proceeded on our journey, and once again reached our ana, or former sleeping-place, when to our sorrow we were again visited with a deluge, and frightened to our old shed.
20th. Repairing house. A rainy day.
21st. Moderately fine day. Nothing done.
22nd. Packed up our huge loads, mine consisting of a gun,. seven pounds shot, eight pounds tobacco, two tomahawks, two pair of boots, five shirts, four pair of trowsers, a rug, and a blanket, besides at least thirty pounds of fern-root. We made about two miles of very bad walking-granite rocks covered with tutu and brushwood. A shower at night.
23rd. Showers of rain frightened us on. About one mile of fearful walking to an ana, where we found dry but most uncomfortable lodgings on an uneven surface of granite rock.
24th. The appearance of the day was so far from fine, that we mutually agreed to stay in our dry quarters on account of our provisions, as fern-root once wet is spoiled, losing its flavour and becoming mouldy.
25th. A shower of rain this morning prevented us from starting until about midday, when we accomplished about one mile, and encamped at an apparently good eel-station. My back very very sore.
26th. We had a little better walking part of the day, passing over about a mile of very good pine forest, but again came to our black birch country-precipices and granite rocks. I find in some parts of this at a fresh the river rises upwards of thirty feet. I am getting so sick of this exploring, the walking and the dietary both being so bad, that were it not for the shame of the thing, I would return to the more comfortable quarters of the Riwaka Valley.
27th. Worse and worse walking, the rocks being more steep and rugged, and covered with underbrush and quantities of brier, the bush almost impassable from the quantity of dead timber and moss. The evening showing for rain.
28th. Built a bark house just in time to escape a heavy thunderstorm. Raining at night.
March 1st. Morning fair. A heavy fresh in the river. The day soon changed into a regular soaking wet day. Consumed our last handful of flour to thicken a pot of soup.
2nd. Steady, regular rain all day, with the wind N.E.
3rd. Continued rain without any abatement until evening, when the weather appeared inclined to clear. Diet, fern-root served out in small quantities twice a day. This is without exception the very worst country I have seen in New Zealand; not a bird to be had or seen; and the few fish there are in the river will not bite during rain or during a fresh. We tried a species of the fern tree called kakote, but it is far from palatable, and exceedingly indigestible.
4th. Long showers of rain, with short intervals of sunshine.
5th. The weather on the change, it is to be hoped, but not fine enough to venture forward.
6th. Again made a start. One of the women so ill that Ekehu and self had to share her load between us. We had the worst walking I have yet seen, on the side of steep precipices thickly covered with brier and underbrush. Sunday,
7th. Passed the day in a black birch wood in company with thousands of sand flies. I endeavoured to ascend a hill, but found it so steep and rugged that I relinquished the attempt. The banks of the river are so very perpendicular, that it is impossible to reach the water’s edge; and the rocks affording no shelter for eels, we are badly off for provisions. I am resolved to pass the day as a Sunday, although much against the natives’ wish. .
8th. Came along the river-bank about one-third of a mile, which distance took at least two hours to accomplish-hands, breech, knees, and feet being all actively employed. I do not think ten paces of the whole distance were passed without securing a good hand-hold. The river then became impassable, and we had to ascend a ridge, which took the remainder of the day. Slept on the summit of the hill, which we found very cold lodgings. From this elevation I looked for a pass to the south or east, but there is none observable. An opening or break in the mountain range to the S.W. is observable, which I imagine to be the Inakaiona (Inangahua) Oweka, or pass to the Mawera (Grey R), from its position corresponding with the opening Mr Heaphy and myself observed from the Arahura, and from the description given me last year by the natives.
9th. This morning I suffered, about two hours of the most excruciating pain I ever experienced. The natives ascribed it to the fern-root diet. Feeling better, we all started, and walking a short distance along the summit, then descended a spur to the river, where we put up for the night. I really believe two or three miles is the utmost that could be accomplished, under the most favourable circumstances, on these short days in such a country. Large granite rocks heaped confusedly together all over the surface, with a thick growth of underbrush and briers, an immense quantity of dead and rotten timber, and all these on the steep and broken declivities of a range of high mountains, interspersed with perpendicular walls of rocks, precipices, and deep ravines, form a combination of difficulties which must be encountered to be adequately understood or allowed for.
10th. The illness, I fear, is catching, for this morning my female companions declared their inability to proceed. I believe it is a species of influenza; however, be it what it may, they tried a novel kind of cure, cutting themselves all about the painful parts with a sharp stone, and then bathing in the river. We caught enough eels for a meal, and hope for better luck on the morrow.
11th. Natives worse instead of better, but we managed to accomplish about a quarter of a mile to a fresh eel-station.
12th. The illness of one of the women has settled in her leg, and she can only bring her toe to the ground. A dirty, showery day, and we lay under the nominal shelter of a large birch tree.
13th. Contrary to my experience on all previous days, the natives packed up for a start during a shower of rain, and we came on about half a mile, when it began to pour down, and the sick woman was not within hail, so Ekehu had to return and seek her, while Epike and self erected a shelter of the fern tree. Ekehu and wife arrived just at dark, and the wind, changing its quarter, blew a gale, driving the rain and smoke of our fire under our shelter. We all passed a most miserable night, not having room either to lie down or sit up, and the woman moaning with pain.
14th. Increased our shelter, which, but for the wind and rain, would be comparatively comfortable. Our fern-root almost exhausted, and no food to be found.
15th. Proposed starting, but the natives refused, stating that the woman could not accomplish above half a mile a day; that the weather showed for rain, and that it was too much work building houses at such short distances. Showery. .
16th. I suppose the same arguments serve for today, as we are here still, and I am tired of urging our onward progress, for I only breed discontent, and do not carry my point; so I am determined, come what may, to become passive in urging them forward, although I do not relish gradual starvation on one meal of fern-root in twenty-four hours. I am afraid to quarrel with the natives, for I am told to look out for myself if I choose, and they will do the same.
17th. No alteration in the appearance of the weather, or any apparent abatement of the illness of the native woman, yet they prepared for a start; so we all packed up, and, I think, managed to pass over rather a long mile of ground, and camped. Caught a meal of eels. The woman did not arrive until about midnight. I begin to fear her illness will cause us many days hunger, if not real starvation, and I will not hear of the natives’ suggestion of leaving her to her fate.
18th. Rain drives us on about a quarter of a mile. 19th. Under shelter all day. Heavy rain.
20th. Continual rain.
21st. Rain continuing, dietary shorter, strength decreasing, spirits failing, prospects fearful.
22nd. A slight change in the weather, but none among us except for the worse.
23rd. Again made a start, and completed a fair day’s work. The walking and general appearance of the country the same as usual. A shower of rain at sunset, and another about the middle of the night, did not add to our comfort. The only interesting part of my trip on the banks of the Buller is from the Rotuiti to the Matukituki valley, which I had formerly travelled in the company of Mr Fox. After leaving the Matukituki, the river is quite worthless, and offers no room for a journal, saving many days’ hunger, the danger of crossing its tributary streams, and the apparently interminable labour of making our way through so frightful a country, and in continual heavy rains.
24th. Bad news; Epike taken ill, and not able to move about. A very heavy shower about midday.
25th. I had again the pleasure of proceeding onward, and came to an overhanging rock, which offered shelter against the rain which was falling in torrents. We had curious lodging here, each one having to look for his own. As it happened, we all managed to find a shelter of some sort. Mine was under and between some granite rocks, and my bed-place fitted me something similar to a badly-made coffin, but harder and colder.
26th. Heavy rain all day. Broke our fast on a species of fungus found on the rotten trees, called by the natives arore.
27th. No alteration in the weather, or anything else.
Sunday, 28th. Moderately fine, but we adhered to our resolution of not travelling on a Sunday.
29th. Hunger, bad lodging, and want of firewood, drove us onward about a mile through a heavy rain. We erected a nominal shelter with my blanket near a large pile of driftwood, by igniting which we managed partly to re-dry our clothes, also to allay our hunger.
30th. Today, instead of coming down in drops, the rain fell in a regular sheet of water. All hands busily employed in keeping in a spark of fire. Everything about us soaking wet. Finished my stock of sugar and tea, and I felt I was fast losing all my English diet.
April 1st. Fine day over head, but the bush too wet, and the river too much swollen, to admit of onward progress.
2nd. At last we were all on our way again, with a fine day, and what is better, all the natives convalescent, except from hunger. Having to commence our day’s walk on a twenty-four hours’ fast, we accomplished a moderate distance, and camped where the natives reported a good eel-ground. Shot a wihu (whio), or blue duck, which, being divided among the five of us, served for a meal until morning.
3rd. Another fine day induced us to proceed, having eaten an eel breakfast, and feeling the benefit of it. It tries one’s nerves to be dangling on a flax-rope about 100 feet above a granite rock, with the load on the feet and no hold for the hands. So it was with us, for we had at least 100 feet perpendicular to descend, and, what was worse, the rock projecting at the top. Again caught eels.
4th. Ekehu explored our way, and returned with six wekas; but bad accounts of the road. Fine day.
5th. A drizzling rainy day; but Ekehu told us to pack up and follow him, for after rain the road would be impassable; so we started, and found the road truly dangerous, although Ekehu had rendered it passable by means of flax-ropes. Built a house, but found it little wanted, the weather clearing up.
6th. A full meal and a peep of the sun made us saucy enough to leave our comfortable lodgings and proceed. About midday it began to pour down again, but after some time we found shelter in a hollow rock, which would have been first rate, but we were in constant tribulation from the continual falling of stones from the roof of our cave. The appearance of the country was much altered, the hills lower, the formation a kind of soapstone, and the forest, pine trees and their concomitants.
7th. Weather appearing better, Ekehu was off trying all parts, of the river to enable him to reach the other side, he having heard the cry of the weka during the night. He at last succeeded, and returned with a dozen wekas, and some sowthistles. A rich supper followed, and I once more enjoyed a full meal.
8th. A fine day, and again on our legs: we made our best day’s walking since leaving the Matukituki valley. Towards eve, looking down a beautiful reach of the river about three miles long, we espied the mountain range that bounds the West Coast. It appeared some twenty miles to the range (Paparoa Ranges).
9th. Another fine day brought us on about one mile and a half, when the cry of the weka caused my two male guides, or rather travelling companions, to drop their loads and hurry in search of them. They returned in the evening with ten wekas, six kakas, three teal, and fourteen crows or kakapos. I considered we had then enough to enable us to have two meals a day. Birds, eaten by themselves, much disorder the stomach. There is much harmony in the cry of the crow in its wild state, I think more than in that of any other bird in New Zealand. By imitating its cry it is easily caught by a flax-snare. They make the next best bait for eels to worms. They are very hard and poor, except in the months of April and June, when they get fat.
10th. We again progressed about two miles, when we camped on account of the rain. Chose a curious lodging under an .overhanging rock, just enough to cover us, all lying in a row head to feet. We looked strange enough, each having a division caused by our kits, and three fires burning outside. Entered upon a fine tract of wooded land, on either side of the river. We must have passed at least 20,000 acres of good level land this week. On questioning the natives of Kawatiri, I found this to be the valley Inakaiona, or Oweka, and that they formerly had a cabbage garden here, to which they resorted for bird catching, and that had we known, we should have found plenty of vegetables had we crossed the river, and also an old canoe. They told me that this valley was their route from the Roturoa to the Mawera, as also to Port Cooper, in former times, before they were conquered by Enihu. I met with an old man called Waiwai, who had once been the journey to the Roturoa. It is evidently a large valley, no hills being visible looking south. Again successful in the game line, securing four pigeons and eight wekas. Such are the bush feasts and fasts.
11th. Necessity compelled me to abandon my old trousers, and put on my second pair, and also a new shirt. Showery all day.
12th. A fine day induced us to proceed, and we came to the mouth of a good-sized stream on the south bank (Ohika-nui River), flowing from the southward down a large valley. The wood in it consisted of the pine tribe and its appendages, but it had also patches of fern and grass.
13th. Still staying at the same place, for what reason I know not, unless to allow Ekehu to kill a dozen or two more wekas.
14th. Travelling down the bank of the river, with level bush land on either side of very fine quality.
15th. Still walking on fine rich level land, all wooded. Camped on the banks of a river flowing from the northward. We can from here distinguish the chain of mountains that bounds the coast.
16th. One of the women taking a fancy to a small patch of fern growing here, and a large boil on Ekehu’s knee, formed a sufficient excuse for remaining here another day. I amused myself by walking about, but the country being all wooded I could see nothing. Epike supplying vegetables. A fine day, but very cold.
17th. The fern-root not being good, and Epike not finding us a breakfast, we started. I had the pleasure of passing over at least two miles of this long and crooked river. The country still good.
18th. Nothing doing but bird catching. We succeeded in obtaining about seventeen wekas, a dozen pigeons, a kaka, and six crows, on which the natives made a full meal.
19th. Again on our journey, the country still level and timbered wid} pines. Came upon an eel-station, where Ekehu caught twelve eels, a sole, and a large trout, the largest I had seen in New Zealand-I should say it weighed at least two pounds. There is a particular tapu existing amongst the natives relative to the eel. You must wash your hands before going to catch them, and also on returning, and the bait must be prepared some distance from the house.
There must be a distinct fire for cooking the eels, for which you must have a special tinder-box; your hands and mouth must be washed both before and after partaking of them, and should it be necessary to drink from the same stream from which the eels are caught, you must have two vessels of water, the one to drink from the other to dip from the stream. Whether this relates to particular places or not, I am not able to say, but I found it strictly adhered to at Okitika (Hokitika) and Okaritu (Okarito). At the former place I had to walk half a mile for water, with a stream running within a few yards of our station. Heavy fogs that fall here during the night render it impossible to start much before midday, unless you choose to get wet through.
20th. Another day’s progress, but a short one, as we had left the level country, and were again amongst our rocks and mountains. Built a house, which was much needed, having a very wet night. Again caught eels.
22nd. Still raining, with a fresh in the river.
23rd. A fine morning, with a prospect of being able to proceed towards midday when the bush would be a little drier. Made a start, and came on a fair day’s walk, but still between the ridges of precipitous hills.
24th. A very short day’s journey, the natives fancying they had found a good eel-station, but for once they were deceived, catching only one small eel.
25th. Want of firewood compelled us to shift our quarters a short distance; the wind shifted to a rainy quarter.
26th. By some caprice the natives, after losing all the morning, made a start just as the rain began to fall, and we came on a short distance, accompanied by heavy rain. Took up our quarters under an immense rock nearly I 00 feet high, which, having a slight projection, afforded us some shelter. Very poor quarters-no firewood; the continual drip, and the trickling of a small stream from the rock, saturated our bed clothes long before morning.
27th. Perpetual heavy rain all day, and, what was worse, nothing to eat.
28th. Searching for food, found a small kakoti, or fern tree, which gave us a breakfast, and hopes for the morrow. Heavy rain.
29th. Hunger drove us from our quarters. Although only showery, yet the drip from the bush made us all wet through in a short time. Completed a fair day’s walking, particularly so considering it was performed in the morning before a breakfast of fern-tree; but Ekehu, with his usual energy, secured us a supper of wekas.
30th. Came on another day’s walking, and were still jammed in between two high ridges of black birch hills coming almost perpendicularly down to the river’s edge.
May 1st. An awful day’s journey. The hills coming down to the river’s edge, with perpendicular precipices at their base, yet we were compelled to ascend them; but by night we managed to reach a shingle beach on the river-bank.
2nd. Searching for food. Moderately fine day, with a series of showers all night, which far from added to our comfort.
3rd, 4th, 5th. Continual heavy rains. Nothing to live on but a few rats.
6th. Raining and blowing a tempest just after dusk. The fresh in the river came down a torrent, driving us out of our shelter into the rain and wind to pass the night how we could. We, however, managed to throw our blanket over a pole, and there remain without fire until the daylight assisted us in improving our habitation. When shifting, the fresh came down so rapidly, that many of our things were left to the mercy of the river, my gun and boots amongst them. The gun was recovered when the fresh abated, having lodged in an overhanging bush, but all our salt was destroyed.
7th. Found on inspection this morning about five feet of water running over our previous dwelling. Formed our blanket into a tent, and spent the day in making a fire. Towards evening the rain ceased, and we had a fine night.
8th. A fine day, but no prospect of moving for some days, the fresh having rendered our progress im
possible, and the hill in front too perpendicular to ascend
9th. Moderately fine. The natives went eel fishing in the evening, and returned with enough for two meals, and a promise that with a fine morning they would try to make some onward progress. ,
10th. Alas! this morning, instead of proving fine, was the commencement of a violent tempest, and the rain poured down in torrents all day.
I1th. About two o’clock this morning the river again rose most rapidly; and about four o’clock it found its way over its banks, and into our tent. We were again obliged to brave the storm, and, shouldering our loads, and throwing our blankets over our shoulders, perch ourselves on a tree, and await daylight, when we found means to ascend a few feet higher, and build a new house, but we had no firewood.
12th. Heavy rain all day.
13th. A series of heavy showers all day.
14th. The wind had changed into a better quarter, and we had a drier day, but we could find no provisions, and had only four ounces per day. The natives when very hungry wanted to kill my dog Rover, but I refused, stating, as my reason, that I wished to keep the dog for our last resource. The kakote, a very indifferent species of fern tree, was found here, but we had not the proper means of cooking it. It requires the application of great heat, and must be allowed to remain in the oven at the least twelve hours, when it will be found a palatable but far from satisfying dish.
15th. Moderately fine: and we were resolved, should the morrow prove as fine, to break through our rule of holding the Sabbath, and proceed somewhere in search of food.
Sunday, 16th. You must never calculate a day ahead of you on this river. After a fine night we had today a thorough wet day.
17th. Heavy rain all day.
18th. A fine day.
19th. Although the day appeared far from fine, yet we mounted our loads on our halfstarved backs, and managed to proceed a short distance, hoping to push past our precipice, before which we had then been detained ten days, all but starved; but the rain again caught us, and we passed a most miserable night. Heavy rain, accompanied with thunder. We killed a robin, which served as the bait for an eel, which Ekehu caught, and gave us for supper.
20th. Another deluge of rain compelled us to erect a shelter, although half famished, and await the conclusion of these gales.
21st. The weather slightly moderating.
22nd. A bitterly cold day. We, however, managed to accomplish a short day’s walk, at last surmounting the precipice which had so long detained us, and slept without shelter: the rain, however, gave us a wetting during the night.
23rd. Hunger again compelled us to shift our quarters in search of food, but finding none, I was compelled, though very reluctantly, to give my consent to killing my dog Rover. The flesh of a dog is very palatable, tasting something between mutton and pork. It is too richly flavoured to eat by itself.
24th. Last night we were again visited with a deluge of rain, which completely covered the surface of the earth, so that we had to sit all night ankle deep in water. With the daylight, we all set to work to erect a shelter, which we sadly wanted. We could find no thatch, so we made it roof of small straight birch poles. The soles of my first pair of boots forsook me, and I had to take a new pair.
25th, 26th. Heavy rain.
27th. A slight improvement in the weather, but our dog nearly consumed, and we could find no other eatable: the weather too cold for eels, and birds are not seen in the black birch woods.
28th. A bitterly cold day, but dry, so that we were enabled to proceed on our journey. Although the character of the country had now changed, and we were passing through a level country, having with our last precipice taken leave at last of the fearful rocks and mountains among which we had been wandering for nearly five months, and had reason to think we could not be very far from the sea-coast, our condition was far from being a pleasant one. We were still on the brink of starvation in an enormous and dense forest, too thick in places to see our way, from the quantity of supplejack, briar, ekiakia, with deep moss, rotten timber, and pools of water covering the surface of the ground, and no means of judging how far it might still be found to extend. We camped in the bush, and I passed one of the coldest nights I ever recollect: I was one complete shiver all. night, perhaps as much from hunger as from told. No rain for a wonder.
29th. Travelling still the same. Camped on a small reach of shingle. Another cold night, but I managed to obtain a little sleep during the night, being very tired; had a pigeon for supper. Found a mamakou, which we cut down, and intended baking on the morrow.
The natives bear hunger badly. They get irritable in temper, and lazy. I had much trouble with all but my own native Ekehu, the rest continually asking in what way I could compensate them for their sufferings : they were also constantly lamenting their coming into the bush.
31st. A dirty cold day. The natives searching for food found a recently-made Maori oven and a wari. I also distinctly heard the roar of the tide, which was to me as good as a dinner. A showery night; built a shelter.
June 1st. Proceeded a short distance, when the rain compelled us to build another shelter. The tide more distinctly to be heard.
2nd. Proceeded a short distance, and camped under the shelter of a large rata: the bush one complete mass of briar, supplejack, and ekiakia, with immense rata trees.
3rd. Had the satisfaction of seeing the tide rise in the river. The travelling still very bad, but hunger and the prospect of relief before us made us get through a fair day’s journey.
4th. During the night the rats stole the provisions designed for our breakfast, so we had to start without one. Accomplished about a mile, when we saw the pa of the Maoris. Fired a salute of powder, but received no answer, neither could we discern any smoke; so we pushed on, and by night reached our old quarters, where I once before had slept on my trip with Mr Heaphy down the coast.
5th. To be disappointed after three months’ anxious anticipation is truly vexatious, but such was the case with us, for, on exploring this morning, we found two canoes, a wari, and a wata 2, but no provisions so, after many days and nights looking forward to a full meal of potatoes, on reaching the coast we were compelled to eat the rimu, or seaweed, instead. Yesterday I should have thought seaweed poisonous, or nearly so; now I eat it with a relish. So much for hunger. A dirty wet day, with thunder at night.
I was much disappointed in the last eight or ten miles of this river. I had previously seen the land from the coast, and thought it good and richly wooded, where, on inspection, I found a wet mossy surface, with little, if any, vegetable soil, the growth being chiefly rata. It will certainly not be in my time that the banks of the Kawatiri will be cultivated by a white population.
From the windings of this river, and its steep granite rocks, and also from its being all thickly wooded, I found it impossible to take any bearing of its course. I could distinguish by the sun its numerous windings. In some of them I found it ran due E., sometimes N., and principally to the S.W. or W. In my opinion, the whole northern bank of the river, down which I travelled, is perfectly valueless, being mostly black birch, and very steep. There appear no indications of coal, slate, or any metals, the chief formation of the country being coarse granite rock. The opposite bank seemed to contain pine trees in many places, and to have large flats of level timbered land; but the valley Inakaiona is the only open country of any extent on the banks of the Kawatiri, from the Matukituki to its embouchure.
6th. This morning we saw a native on the other side of the river, who told us the Maories were at Omau collecting mussels, but would return in the evening. We launched a canoe and crossed the river, but found nothing eatable there, and but a small potato garden. This is the first year the natives have resided here, and to form a cultivation they had carried their seed potatoes from Mawera (Greymouth), a distance of nearly sixty miles, over a most difficult country. Returned to our shed in the evening.
I think, from the number of seals I saw on the Black Reef and on the rocks off Tauranga (Below Cape Foulwind), it would pay a party ,of industrious men to go down there sealing. The last party were too lazy, and not properly outfitted. The natives tell me the seals had deserted this part for some years, but were now returning in great quantities.
At Tauranga, some years ago, a crew from a sealing vessel landed and killed five natives, in revenge Mitchell notes that this settlement remained until 1880 and that its soil was capable of cultivation.for some of their crew having been killed by Enihu for the crime of stealing his daughter.
Last year a party of natives, residents of Mawera, walked to Kawatiri to see the sealing party and boat, and established small potato gardens at Tauranga, Totara, and Potikohua. This will render the walk from the Kawatiri to Mawera easy to accomplish. We also found the ladders to the Miko cliff much improved, and several other alterations, showing the traffic that had taken place. Mouwika had made five journeys to remove his effects and supply seed potatoes.
The coast from Wanganui (Little Wanganui, below Karamea), the residence of Enihu, to the river Kawatiri, is called by the natives Taitapu, and is allowed by them to belong to Enihu by conquest. From thence southward is called Potuni (Poutini), and is said to belong to Tairoa (Taiaroa), the present chief of the Ngatau (Ngai-tahu) tribe.
From the Kawatiri to the Arahura I had previously seen, and the character and features of the country were fully described by Mr Heaphy on our return; I have therefore nothing to notice except a few personal incidents, the relation of which would interest no one.
Since my last visit to Taramakau, the natives had increased their wealth by the addition of three pigsa boar and two sows: they were given them by the natives of Massacre Bay, and were carried down here during the summer. The sows had each a litter of pigs some few days old; the one two, the other seven young ones. Pigs being new to them, they were kept in the chief’s house, to which I, being a stranger, was forced to resort; and they certainly did not add to the comfort of visitors, for I had to keep up a continual fight with them at night for the possession of my blanket, and during the day for my kit of potatoes. Pigs may tend to increase the wealth of the natives, or assist to flavour their potatoes, but they certainly do not tend to increase cleanliness or promote industry. I am sure nothing could be so useful to these natives as goats, for which their country is well calculated. Goats would be more useful, and less troublesome in their potato gardens. The skins would serve them instead of dog-skins, of which they are very fond; and it would induce them to lessen the number of their dogs, the whole of the island being now overrun with them, as they never kill a dog unless for its skin. I took much trouble to impress the value of goats on them, and promised them some if they would come and fetch them from Nelson, which they engaged to do.
7th. This morning we crossed the river in a canoe, and were received with a hearty welcome by the natives. There are only three men with their wives, and five boys, living here; they had eaten all their potatoes, and were living on mussels and fern-root. The native Owika told us he was ashamed of the diet he had to offer us, but that the sealing boat had been there, and the party had consumed all his potatoes and fish. This being the first year of occupying Kawatiri, he had to carry his seed potatoes from the Mawera. The natives are members of the Wesleyan Church. A dirty wet day.
8th. Another wet day.
9th. My natives turned out to procure fern-root, hoping to find better than the natives gave us. They
could find none, and returned empty-handed in the evening.
10th. Staying with the natives, and sharing their food. Found some sowthistles to improve our diet.
11th The natives collected and cooked an oven of the fern tree. A showery day.
12th. Shot a dozen pigeons, which we divided amongst the natives.
13th. Nothing doing. A cold wet day.
Sunday, 14th. Kept as a Sabbath.
15th. This morning at daybreak we were on our way to Arahura, having in company Topere and son, and a lad named Henry: they are going to Taramakau for seed potatoes. We reached Kamakawa, and put up for the night, which proved a very rainy one.
16th. A rainy day, but we came on to Tauranga in search of food, it being a celebrated place for mussels. Saw several small seals playing about on the rocks. The natives have made a potato garden here on the promise of the sealers to. return with a larger vessel next summer. .
17th. Made a humu of mussels. A wet day.
18th. Made another humu of mussels, so that we are now prepared for crossing the Tuhinu range when the weather permits-thus escaping fourteen or fifteen miles of very difficult beach travelling, known on Cook’s charts as the Five Fingers.
19th. Came to Topara, collecting a small quantity of fern-root at Okari 1 on our way. A wet drizzling day, with heavy rain at night. .
20th. A fine day, and we are enabled to reach the Ngawaitakere2, and get all ready to cross the Tuhinu 3 range.
Sunday, 21st. This morning I was astonished by seeing the natives making preparations to start. However, such_ was the case; and they told me, when I remonstrated with them, that they had the authority of the Church allowing them to travel on a Sunday when away from their pas. So we ascended, and slept on the summit of the Tihuni (Tauwhinu) range. Rain.
22nd. Reached Potikahua (Fox River), and made some preparations for cooking the mamaku.
23rd. Made a large oven of mamaku, which proved in all respects a good one.
24th. Came on to the ana Matuku.
25th. Came on to the Rotuku.
26th. Reached the Miko, when the natives went out on the cliffs snaring the koukou 4, and returned with seventy-one of these birds.
27th. Crossed the Miko range, and reached the Punahaere, where we slept. Some rain.
28th. Came on to the Waimangati, to be in readiness to reach the pa in the morning.
29th. Came on to the pa Kararoa, and once again in my life enjoyed a hearty meal of potatoes. Found only four natives and two children residing here; the others had left to join the natives of Massacre Bay, now the wars are over.
30th. Staid at the pa resting ourselves. For what reason the natives choose. to live here I cannot imagine. It is a place devoid of all value or interest. They have but little ground to cultivate, and they catch no fish, the only acceptable food being the mussels, which they find on the rocks on a calm day at low water. There is not even the ponamu (Pounamu – jade, or greenstone) to be found here as an inducement.
July 1st. Made an early start for Mawera (Greymouth) this morning, which we reached about midday, and found the chief Te Uru (Tuhuru, Ngai-tahu, chief of Westland ) there with a lot of natives. Te Uru is the father of Tairoa, and the acknowledged head of the Ngatau tribe. Had a long cry, with much rubbing of noses, which ended in a feast of potatoes. I found some fresh arrivals of natives here since my last visit, who had walked over from the East Coast.
3rd. Staying at Mawera. A thunder storm.
4th. A fine but cold day.
5th. A dirty rainy day.
6th. A cold day, accompanied with thunder.
7th. A fine day, but very cold; all the surrounding country covered with snow.
8th. Still at Mawera.
9th. Started with a large number of natives, twenty eight in all, for Taramakau, which we reached in the evening, and were received with the hearty welcome usually given to strangers.
10th. At Taramakau, feasting on potatoes. From Taramakau, on a clear day, seen bearing S.E., is a lofty-capped mountain (Mount Rolleston), which is considerably higher than the mean range of which it forms part. This peak is called by the natives Kai Mataiu, and is seen from the eastern coast, at Port Cooper. The river Taramakau, and also the branch of the river Mawera called Potikahauhau, take their rise from this mountain.
11th. A fine day.
Sunday, 12th. Attended native service and school in the evening. The natives here are members of the Church of England and attend service regularly; but they .appear to me very ignorant of its nature or meaning.
13th. I wished the Maories to proceed with me to the southward but they refused, and those living here told me I could not go during the winter: so I found myself fixed here for an indefinite length of time.
My journal during the three ensuing months contains little except a record of the weather, and of little excursions I took to acquire a better knowledge of the country and of native habits and customs. I therefore omit it, excepting a few unconnected remarks I pencilled down from time to time. 1
Paroa 2 was the only place where I found a native avaricious. I moved into a new house there from the pigs and fleas, when E Toto wanted payment for the house and potatoes he gave me. I therefore left him, when he was taken to task by the other natives.
There are two men, four women, and three children living at the mouth of the river Mawera, on the northern bank; and two men, two women. There are only seven natives living at Paroa – a man, a woman, and five children, of the Wesleyan Church. ‘There are twenty-four natives at Taramakaumen, women, and children. Twenty of these are members of the Church, and four of the Wesleyan connexion. There are only three natives living at Arahura-a man, wife, and one daughter. They are members of the Church. There are four natives living at Okitika-one man, two women, and one child members of the Church. They are all members of the Wesleyan Church but two, who are of the Church of England. The natives here preserve the birds they catch during the winter months, when they are in excellent condition, in a rimu or sea-weed bag. They open the bird down the back, and take out all the bones; they then lay the flesh of the bird in a shallow platter made of the bark of the totara tree, which is called a patua, when they cook the bird by applying red-hot stones; they then place the cooked birds in the rimu bag, and pour over them the extracted fat, and tie tightly the mouth of the bag. I have tasted birds kept two years in this manner, and found them very good. They also keep eels and seals in the same way, using whale-oil for their preservation. This district used to be noted for its numerous birds-wekas, kakapos, and kiwis-but they are now almost extirpated by the wild dogs.
The seasons are earlier than in Blind Bay, although a degree more south. This is shown by the vegetation. The natives also plant their gardens much sooner. They tell me they have no crop if they plant in December, which is the month usually chosen by the natives in Cook’s Straits. Potato planting is a regular feast among the natives here, and all the good things are reserved for and produced on this occasion, the chiefs trying to outdo each other in liberality and profusion. In the present instance, two large ovens of potatoes and fish. were cooked and consumed, also a poha of ready-dressed wekas; and in the evening, a stick of tobacco and a basket of cooked potatoes were given to each workman.
There is great taste shown by the natives in the poha, or bag of preserved wekas; and I believe it is always made for a present, for which they expect a return. They very neatly tie the leaves of the raupo, or bulrush, round the poha. It is then placed on a three-legged stool, and mounted with a well and handsomely woven crown, made of feathers o_ the birds enclosed.. The one I saw contained one hundred birds, and was given by Tipia to Ewi, being a present in return for one of moka, or dog-fish. Tipia and party, on presenting the poha, were also fed, or rather gorged, each having a kit of potatoes and taro, a large quantity of the kotiro, or preserved potato, and. garnished well with different sorts of fish. The natives appear particularly fond of giving and receiving presents, and I think the first donor gets off the best. Potato planting requires great labour here. The natives having no axes for felling trees, are obliged to ascend all the trees and cut off the boughs, and as the timber will not burn, all has to be carried from the ground. There is no supplejack, but there are some very large rata trees, which are worse. The axe I carried was constantly in use, and tended materially to increase their clearings.
In most of the charts of New Zealand, there is laid down, about the middle of this island, a large lake called Lake Kora. No such lake exists, but there is a large mud-flat, or salt-water lake, on the East Coast, near to Port Cooper, and bounding one side of the sheep-run of the Messrs. Deans’ Poturingamotu (Riccarton), which is called by the natives Wiora (Lake Ellesmere ), and, having the same pronounciation, I imagine to be the same lake improperly placed.
The natives tell me there is a lake and a grass plain of some size on the banks of this river, but I am too anxious to proceed to visit them.
In October and November commences the fishing season here – the mutta 3 or white-bait, entering the rivers and the tide in great quantities. They are in such shoals that I have seen the dogs standing on the banks and lapping them from the stream. The natives take large numbers, which they lay on flax mats, and expose to the sun three or four days; they then pack them tightly, and preserve them in their storehouses for winter use.
October 12th. With a right good will I mounted my load on my back, and after many shakes of the hand, and much rubbing of noses, I left the Taramakau natives, and for once more felt myself moving with my own inclination. I had the company of. the three chiefs at this place, viz., Te Kau-hauke, Tipiha, and Paeture, with his daughter (leaving my own party behind); just in my opinion a nice little party. We reached Arahura, and put up for the night, which proved a rainy one. .
13th and 14th. Rain, with a gale of wind.
15th. Fine. Started for Okitika, a river of some
considerable size, at the mouth of which was formerly a large pa, occupied by Enihu, and the other natives now living at Wanganui. There is an old canoe here, which the natives told me was once used for hapuka fishing in fine weather, but that the sea has encroached on the land and rendered the bar dangerous. There is some good bush land on the banks of this river, and some tara plantations of former days. Walked about six miles.
16th. Launched the canoe and crossed to the other bank, where we had to erect a shelter against the wind and rain.
17th and 18th. Continuation of gale. Went with the natives eel fishing.
19th. Fine. Soon after daylight we shouldered our respective burdens, and made a good start, reaching a stream of water called Paiere, which runs parallel to the shore for five or six miles. We took breakfast at a small potato garden here, and again moved on to a small stream called Totara (near Ross), which is narrow and fordable, but runs very strong. We took a small repast here and waited for the tide. When we could proceed we walked to another stream called Mikonui, which we reached by dark, and also stopped there some time for the tide; but we crossed at last, having to swim over twice to carry our clothes. The whole distance, about sixteen miles, is a dense mass of wood-on the hills chiefly rata, and pine on the flat. The travelling for the-greater part is on a loose shifting sand. Bearing off the coast about S.W.
20th. Started with the rising sun, and after proceeding about two miles, came to a curious headland or cliff, named by the natives Paramata (Bold Head), which projects some way into the sea, and, from its position and appearance, must be a bold head. I could take no latitudes, my sextant having been spoilt by the wet. Here I found a stratum of very fine slate on a bed of inferior coal, under a kind of blue clay. The slate is hard, of a fine grain, splits freely, and is of a reddish brown colour, resembling Welsh slate. About six miles further we came to a good sized stream, named Waita (Waitaha), about half-a-mile across, which we forded chin deep. There is but little land on the banks of this river available for cultivation before you come to the minor hills, from which rise the mountains that bound the West Coast. We made a long march, and a little after sunset came to the mouth of another large stream called Wanganui, when we camped for the night at a Native pa, but the inhabitants were absent; we found some potatoes however for our supper. From Waita to this place the beach is chiefly composed of sand and rocks alternately, and the coast mostly bounded by cliffs. The Wanganui is a pretty river, but with little level land, and all wooded. It was here George Darnwell and party beached their boat. There is also a peculiar headland on this river, sketches of which I made. Fine.
21st. About midday, when the tide permitted, we crossed this river, and reached another called Poeru (Poerua) which is a strong running stream, about 15 yards wide. It is much noted for a pond on its banks abounding in eels of a fine quality, which is a summer residence of the natives. The coast for about six miles is still bounded by a range of cliffs, and is in all directions a dense mass of forest, chiefly rata on the hills and on the banks of the streams, either large or small; the pine tribe predominates. The route from Taramakau is across a series of small sandy bays, with rocky points dividing them. The bearing of the coast, S.S.W. by compass. Rain towards evening.
I believe I have now acquired the two greatest requisites for bushmen in New Zealand, viz., the capability of walking barefoot, and the proper method of cooking and eating fern-root. I had often looked forward with dread to the time when my shoes would be worn out, often fearing I should be left a barefooted cripple in some desolate black birch forest, or on this deserted coast; but now I can trudge along merrily barefoot, or with a pair of native sandals, called by the natives pairairai (Paraerae), made of the leaves of the flax, or, what is more durable, the leaves of the ti or flax tree. I can make a sure footing in crossing rivers and ascending or descending precipices; in fact I feel I am just beginning to make exploring easy work. A good pair of sandals will last about two days’ hard work, and they take only about twenty minutes to make.
22nd. Made an early start this morning, and after travelling along a rocky beach about four miles, came to a mountain torrent falling over a large bed of granite rocks. It is called Wairoa (Whataroa river), and is a very ugly stream to ford. The natives told me four young men were lately drowned in crossing it. We all got safely over, and walked to Okaritu, passing another stream, named Waitaki (Waitangi-roto), on our road. We found some natives here. It is about ten miles from Wairoa to Okaritu, but there is no level land, the snow-capped range coming down to the coast.
At Wairoa is the wreck of a large sealing boat amongst a lot of underbrush. It is about a quarter of a mile from high water, and the growth of the bushes and the appearance of the wreck show that the sea is fast receding from this coast. This also appears at the mouths of all the rivers.
Okaritu is the pa where Enihu captured and killed many of the natives of the Ngaitau tribe, and also took Te Uru, the chief, prisoner, whom he has since released to return here and work greenstone for him. There are the remains of a very large pa here, which was resorted to for fishing and bird catching. That these places abound in eels I had full proof during my visit here, the diet being nothing else, and was served out in liberal quantities, to dogs as well as Christians, three
times a day. There are six natives living here-two men and four women, who are of the Wesleyan Church, and very punctual, and apparently very zealous in their worship. This pa should be celebrated for the number of dogs kept by the natives, and all in good condition’
23rd. Staying at Okaritu, the wind coming from the N.E., and bringing its usual companion, heavy rain. Okaritu is a large mud-flat of at least 10,000 acres in extent, but nearly all covered at high-water, and is only remarkable for its quantity of fish_ The timber here is very small, and appears of recent growth. I think to the foot of the mountain range has been recently washed by the ocean. At high-water, and at this season, when the rata is beginning to bloom, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of scenery I have seen in New Zealand. It is a great resort for all kinds of water-fowl, and the Paradise ducks come here from all quarters in the moulting season. Commenced wearing my third new shirt. My wardrobe now sadly diminished in bulk.
24th and 25th. Rain all day. _
26th and 27th. A fresh in the river prevented my proceeding or enjoying a ramble from my shed.
28th. About midday, at low-water, we constructed a raft of the blossom stalks of the flax, and crossed the river, when, we walked about four miles to a small stream called Totara 1, having very pretty scenery, but otherwise of no value. From Okaritu the route is along a range of low cliffs with a sandy and rocky beach, only passable at low-water. We stopped here for the night, the tide preventing our onward progress.
29th. After proceeding about two miles we reached another stream also named Totara, and much like its namesake. We were obliged to erect a shelter at this place against a regular tempest of wind and rain.
31st. Showery. The natives proposed leaving our loads here and returning to Okaritu to attend service on Sunday. To this I gave consent, knowing that I should get a good dinner of eels and more comfortable lodging.
I am much astonished to find amongst the natives in the distant parts so much attention paid to their forms of religion, which is the Church and Wesleyan. Much animosity appears to exist between them: and although in some places there are only six or seven natives, yet they have separate places of worship, two schools, and are always quarrelling about religion, each party asserting its own to be the proper service to God. There are some few who have been christened by the late Rev. C. L. Reay, and a few also by Mr Aldred, the Wesleyan missionary
November 1st. At Okaritu. Showery.
2nd. Day finer. I went with the natives spearing eels on the mud flat.
3rd Made another start and reached our shed and burdens again. .
4th. Proceeded about four miles along a rocky and shingly beach, and came to a large mountain rapid running over a large granite bed. The place is called Waihau (Waiho), and I found it so flooded as to defy my crossing, and there being no means of ascending, or any shelter to await its falling, I was obliged, though very reluctantly, to return to our shed at Totara
5th and 6th. At Totara.
7th. Made a resolute start to cross, if possible, over the Waihau, which, with great difficulty and at the risk of our lives, we accomplished. It was at this place that the wekas had been caught I had feasted on at Taramakau : they resort here, dogs being unable to cross the river after them. Slept at a native wari here. Fine.
8th. At Waihau.
9th. Again making southing, and reached a stream called Waikukupa, deep and not fordable, but of no other note. Passed on to another stream called Miroroa, where we camped for the night, having spent much of the day constructing a raft to cross the Waikukupa. About eight miles of travelling over sand and rocks.
10th. Proceeded onwards, and rounded a headland named Kohaihai (Waikohai Bluff), a low rocky point; and managed, after difficult walking, to reach a river called Waiweka (Cook river), where we constructed a raft ready for crossing in the morning.
11th Crossed the river, which is a very dangerous stream flowing from the mountains over a rocky bed, and proceeded to another small stream, which we crossed, when the rain compelled us to erect a shelter.
13th. The weather permitting us to proceed, we came along the base of a low range of cliffs called the Parapara, and on to the U tumoa, a small headland, the terminus of the cliffs, when a short sandy beach brought us to the mouth of a small stream called Matukituki, where we stopped for the night. From Kohaihai headland to this point is about sixteen miles. Bearing, S.W.
14th. After proceeding about three miles along a rocky beach we came to a small point called Makawiho (Makawhio Point) on rounding which we crossed the Waitaki (Mahitahi river), a mountain stream, and proceeded onwards to a small potato garden at Porangirangi (near Bruce Bay), where we put up for the night and the morrow. Distance about nine miles.
Sunday, 15th. Natives read service.
16th. Proceeded about six miles, and arrived at Parika (Paringa), the residence of Tuarope. We passed a small stream called Hunuakura, of no note or value. At Parika we received the welcome of strangers in a bountiful supply of fern-root, preserved wekas, and fish. There is nothing remarkable here, it being only a summer residence on account of the eels in the river.
The natives attach a great value to their greenstone meriss (Meres), or battle-axes of former times, so much so, that they are buried with their owners. After remaining in the ground some five or six years they are dug up, and given to the nearest relation of the deceased. The natives have also .safe hiding-places for them, in order that, if surprised and conquered, as in former times, their enemies might not find them among their spoil. I saw one belonging to Te Raipo, which has descended from time unknown, and which they say—Enihu made war on their tribe to obtain, but could not find it, the meri being hidden at the bottom of a deep pool of water.
There are only 97 natives, adults and children, living on the. West Coast north of lat. 440, all of whom profess some form of Christianity: 29 of them are members of the Church, and 68 Wesleyans.
17th. At Parika, eel catching for our onward progress.
18th. A shower of rain formed, in our united opinions, a sufficient excuse for remaining here another day. We managed to dry enough eels to last a week. There are no provisions to be found here saving the kakote.
19th. After travelling about three miles we came to a headland called Titihaia 1, where I slipped, or was rather washed from a rock by the sea, which crushed my foot between the rocks, and severely strained my right anele. I was also hurt in several places by the sharp edges of the granite, which gave me much pain. Finding I could not clamber the rocks among which I fell, I was obliged to suffer myself to be led towards Parika, which my lameness and the tide prevented us reaching that evening.
20th. With much pain I crawled to Parika, where I bound up my leg, and repeatedly bathed it in cold water, which served to deaden the pain, and dressed the other scratches with weka oil.
21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Continual rain.
25th. Day somewhat better, but my ankle still refused to support my frame.
26th. Paeturi and Tipiha requested leave to return to Taramakau, leaving Te Raipo with me, to which proposition I was compelled to agree.
After another week’s rest I thought myself sufficiently recovered to proceed, though my anele _as still far from strong; but ten days followed of almost continual rain. Our provisions were getting short, the country to the southward was of the wildest, most barren and forbidding description, so I at last made up my mind to return, having made my way about eighty miles further along the coast than on my former expedition with Mr Heaphy.
I was induced to make Parika, or rather Titihara, the terminus of my southing for many reasons. My lameness had made me anxious to return to Nelson, the summer season was fast drawing to a close, and I dreaded the idea of another long winter. The country I was traversing was quite worthless in my opinion, and most certainly so as respected Nelson. I wished to return by a fresh route, and see something more of the interior of the country, and I had resolved to try the Mawera, if I abandoned the idea of crossing the island from Taramakau to Port Levi. If I had urged the natives to proceed with me to the southward I could not have had their services to assist me with their canoes up the Mawera, and being here without resources I was much at their mercy. Ekehu also had a runaway wife from Wakapuaka, and dared not return coastways, which would have been our shortest route.
When I told Te Raipo of my intention he was much pleased. He told me that having only one white man on his hands was too great a responsibility: if there had been two, he said, he would not have cared-one might live to tell the fate of the other if an accident happened to him, but if I died it would likely be said that he had killed me for the sake of eating or plundering.
So on Friday, December 11, I turned my face homewards; first to rejoin my own natives, and then endeavour once more to see the face of a white man, and hear my native tongue. A few days brought us back among the natives, although my lameness made walking rather, difficult. We passed in succession Okaritu, Wanganui, Waita, Paiere, and Okitika, reaching Arahura on December 22nd. The next day we slept at Taramakau, and arrived at Mawera on Christmas Day. This was well kept by the natives, followers of both the Church and Wesleyan body. There were four services in the day, and feasting filled up the intervals between them.
December is a glorious month of dietary amongst the natives on the coast, as fresh fruit and vegetables are then coming into season. The rivers, large or small, abound in eels, hawera, upukuroro, haparu, patiki, and parauki; the fruit of the ekiakia is then ripe, called by the natives tawara, and is very luscious, more like a conserve than a fruit; the honey of the flax blossom is also in season, called korari, and, when mixed with fern-root, also makes a species of confectionary ; the natives also commence on the young potatoes and turnips, and make taro ov_ns of the mamakou, and of a species of the ti, the stem of which is the eatable part, and is called koari ; it is very sweet and pleasant to the taste.
This month also the sandflies are most numerous, driving the natives to all sorts of expedients to get rid of them. Fire is the best protection; and you see all the houses with a fire inside and outside; placed so that the smoke protects the entrance or doorway. You partake of your meals under the shelter of the smoke of a circle of fires, the natives objecting to eat in their houses on account of the large meat-fly.
The 15th of December was the anniversary of my leaving Fraser, the last white person I saw, on the banks of the Rotuiti river.
Conclusion of the year 1847, the whole of which I have spent among the natives, and chiefly on the banks of the Buller or Kawatiri, during which time I have lived on the produce of the country, and the few potatoes 1- have had on the coast, which are now, from want of proper cultivation, almost uneatable. I have never heard a word of English the whole year.
While I was at Okitika, one of the native children, the son of Tipia, of about seven years of age, took such a fancy to me that it was with difficulty I could get away from him. When I came away, he clung round my legs, crying, and I was obliged to remove him by force. His father wished me to take him with me, but his mother refused, which I was glad of, as he would have been much in our way in difficulties, and unable to bear the hardships of the bush.
At this place, also, an incident occurred by which I gained great repute amongst the natives. A party of us had paddled to Kunaere (Kanieri) one morning eel fishing; and on returning in the evening, at every good situation we took a draught with our kupenga for upukororo, when at one place the canoe was left with two children in it, who, by playing with the oars, brought the canoe into the current, and as it was making rapid headway for a very awkward shoal, I jumped into another canoe, paddled across the river to the eddy, and, towing the canoe up the other bank; regained a sufficient length to enable me to recross to our proper station, when a cry amongst the natives at the restoration of their children put an end to a pleasant day’s fishing.
On the 24th January I had the opportunity of witnessing the funeral of a woman. Two native carpenters made a strong but rough coffin of totara planks, sawn out of the solid log, and at sunset the body was placed in the coffin, carefully wrapped up in the mat she wore while living. The body was tied down, and carried to the place of burial, where a moderately deep grave had been dug by the young men; a hymn and some prayers were said over it, the coffin was lowered, and the earth filled in. The whole of the funeral was conducted by the men, all of whom, within reach, attended. Everything belonging to the deceased was buried in her grave, and all her stores of food were cooked in a large humu, and distributed to each male adult. There was no crying, and apparently very little mourning, the deceased having no near relatives. I have now witnessed a birth, marriage, and death amongst the natives.
I now made up my mind to go up the Mawera, or River Grey, and visit the lake from which it is said to take its rise. I proposed then to ascertain the nature of the country lying between it and the plains of the East Coast, and to be guided by circumstances as to my future route. Here, however, I was forced to remain stationary for a month. Ekehu had gone fishing with a party to the northward, and did not return for nearly three weeks, whilst the last ten days were fully occupied in making preparations for another start, repairing canoes, and laying in a stock of provisions for the bush.
This interval of rest afforded me however the opportunity of making a few observations on the general character of this part of the country. From Cape Farewell, until you arrive at the river Grey, a range of mountains runs parallel to the coast, sending down to the sea spurs or lateral forest ridges, terminating in cliffs and headlands more or less bold and precipitous, the valleys or ravines between each of these contributing a stream more or less considerable, fed by the snows of the central chain and the drainage of its sides. In walking therefore along the coast between these points, you have frequently to clamber over a rocky promontory jutting out into the sea, or, where this is impossible, to take advantage of the receding tide to pass round its base, strewed by the granite fragments which have been detached by the action of the water; and having toiled among the broken rocks for a greater or less number of miles, you again come to another stretch of sandy beach, another river to be forded, and another precipice to try the goodness of your footing and your nerves. The only interruption to this occurs on the banks of the Buller. The mountains here receding from the coast leave a large level tract of forest, through which the river takes its course to the sea, having first broken through the rocky gorge which detained us so long at its base; and then the same description of country recommences until you reach Mawera.
My route down the Buller afforded mean opportunity of seeing the interior of this mountainous region, through the middle of which it seems to have broken its way. My journal sufficiently shows my opinion of the country on its banks. The Inakaiona (Inangahua) valley alone seems adapted for the habitation of man; and from the Arahura I saw the opening at its southern extremity, about fifty miles inland, running nearly due South. It may be described as a large tract of level country extending from the Buller to the Mawera, or Grey, sixty miles long by four or five in breadth, separated from the sea by the mountain ridge of the coast, and hemmed in to the east by the mountains of the interior. But shortly before you arrive at the Mawera, the character of the country is totally changed. The hills diminish in height, gradually sinking into the open country; and from the Grey you look over a level or gently undulating country, with a coast-line of forty miles, bounded to the interior only by the line of the horizon. Having passed this tract, you again enter the region of rocks, precipices, torrents, and mountains, or, as I have heard them called, the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
As far as my own experience goes, I should say that it is not impossible to follow the coast down to Dusky Bay, if you can guard against the danger of starvation; but I neither saw nor heard anything to induce me to think it would be attended with any result but the gratification of curiosity. But the district of the Grey requires a further notice. It is watered by four rivers-the Grey, the Taramakau, the Arahura, and the Okitika. The two last, according to the natives, take their rise from a remarkable snow-capped mountain, visible in the far distance on a clear day, called Kaimatau, bearing S.E. from Taramakau; the Grey said to flow from a large inland lake, and the Taramakau to have its source almost close to it. I now made my arrangements for visiting these localities, and on January 26th, 1848, again set out upon my travels.
January 26th. This morning freighted our canoe with our provisions, clothes, and fishing apparatus. I considered myself as on board the admiral’s canoe, which was the largest and first to start, having in company three others. The names of the canoes that ascended the river with me were as follows: Te Wairakou, with myself and nine natives; Te Maikai, with my four natives and Aperahama; Te Paiekau, with two natives, carrying nets; etc, for fishing; Te Muttamutta, with four natives – so I think I was well equipped, considering I had nothing to give the natives for all their trouble, except good wishes. There was much crying amongst them when I left, and apparently some good feeling towards me. They told me to return amongst them, and share what they had; and although tobacco is so much valued amongst them, they offered me two sticks – the half of all their stock.
It is really an exciting scene to see four canoes poling and paddling up a fine stream on a clear day. We came up about five miles of the river, and camped at an old fishing-station, prettily placed on an island called Mautapu, (Motutapu – bears the memorial to Brunner) which rises about 100 feet above the level of the river. At this place the river is confined between two low black birch hills, part of the coast range. The level land of the coast reaches to this point, all timbered, chiefly rata, on either side of the river. About a mile above Mautapu is a seam of coal of apparently very fine quality, which presents itself under a stratum of mica slate. (town, coalfields & mine on this location named after Brunner) The coal is hard and brittle, very bright and sparkling, burns freely, and is free from smell; the seam is some feet deep, and level with the river’s edge, but at least fifty feet below the surface of the earth.
27th. Paddled up the river about three or four miles, to a point where the river divides itself into two streams -the right hand and smaller branch, called Kotu-urakaoka, (Arnold River) bearing about S.E., and leading to a pass to the East Coast, almost at right angles to the main stream. We stayed here for the night, the natives wishing to fish, and I anxious to look about me. This is the place where Ekehu, my lad, lost his father, and was taken prisoner himself by the Ngaitau tribe. We were successful in fishing.
28th. Paddled up the S.E. branch of the river, the pass to the east, leaving the women and children behind with two of our canoes.
After proceeding about five miles, we again left our canoe with some natives to fish, and kept on until late in the evening. This branch of the river is wooded, but with a considerable belt of level land on either hand.
29th. Again ascended .the branch, and by night reached the lake (Kotuku Whakaoho – Lake Brunner) a sheet of water of about six or seven miles square,
with a small low island near the middle, to which we paddled, it being an old fishing station. Fine.
30th. Examined the lake in our canoe, and found it very deep, with a sandy or mud bottom, and in some places large granite rocks. The country immediately around the lake is a level bush, bounded by a pine forest, and surrounded on three sides by black birch hills of moderate elevation. The country towards the east is low, but the district is shut in by a high mountain region towards the S.W.
This is the lake frequented by the natives on their route to the East Coast: they reach it from the coast by ascending’ the Taramakau, from which it is divided by a long reach. From this point they tell me they reach the open country of the East Coast in two days’ walk.
31st. Returned back to the main stream, where we had left the women and canoes. They had a plentiful supply of fish, showing their industry during our absence.
February 1st. This morning we again started, leaving our native friends behind us, excepting one as a guide. The fine open land ends here, and long reaches of shingle border each side of the river, which is deep and unfordable. After going up it for eight or nine miles, it takes a northward course,- nearly parallel to the coast. During the day we passed the mountain at the head of Kararoa, and camped for the night under the range of the Kiwikiwi and Waiwero.
Te Raipo, the native whose canoe I am using, ascended all the mountains in search of the kakapo, and seems to know them all well. At each spur he names the part of the coast to which it corresponds. There are houses of former times in many places on the banks of this river, resorted to by the natives for the summer months, when they live on eels, upukuroro, fern-root, and the liquor of the tutu berries.
The latter has here a much finer flavour than in most other places, and may be taken freely without injury We traversed at least fifteen miles of the river’s bank in the course of the day, three natives working the canoe generally, and at all times assisting, myself chiefly walking on either bank of the river, with the aid of the canoe to cross from time to time. The foliage of the country is chiefly pine, with a belt of manuka on the immediate banks of the river.
2nd. We ascended about four more miles, when we came to a point where the river again divides itself, the smaller branch running to the S.E., the main branch, which is our course, still making to the north. We camped at this junction (Ahaura River), to explore ahead previous to taking the canoe. Up to this point the country is chiefly wooded, but at the junction a grass plain commences, which I shall see the extent of as I proceed.
3rd. A wet, rainy day.
4th. Another wet day; and my Ngaitau guide told me he must return and see his wife and children, but that if I would wait, he would return with a change of weather.
5th and 6th. Rainy.
7th. A rainy morning, but about mid-day the wind changed, and the clouds began to break, and the night showed signs of a fine morrow. Natives and self off exploring, when we found a patch of fern, which we quickly began rooting up to examine its quality. Finding it to our taste, we resolved to spend the next day in digging fern-root. I took to my fourth pair of trousers, leaving only one good pair in the kit. I find nothing so useful or durable for trousers. in the bush as good duck, and nothing worse than fustian.
8th. Started this morning to our fern patch, when I left the natives to work, and with some difficulty pushed my way through the low underbush, and ascended to the grass terrace, which I found running along the river’s bank for about four miles, and stretching to the S.W. about five miles, forming a nice little sheep-run of very excellent grass, well sheltered, being bounded and intersected by a pine forest containing some good trees. On the northern bank of the river there is nothing but forest reaching to the chain of mountains that bound the coast. On returning in the evening, tested the quality of the fern-root, which was found very sweet and agreeable to the taste, particularly so when mixed with the juice of the tutu.
I had written by a native called Peter, to Mr Fox, for a small payment for the natives, to enable me to get a guide to cross the island, and also for means to return to Nelson by some vessel, in case I should make any port on the East Coast. Peter promised to return by December, but while I was down the coast he started, and left me a message that he had altered his mind, and would not return until the winter, but that I was to make myself comfortable, and resort to
his potato-garden for provisions. This was my chief reas,on for returning by the river Grey. My natives also positively refused to accompany me across, saying they should never get back.
While on the coast I caught three kiwis – one large and two small. There are two distinct species. This country used to abound with them, but they are now nearly extinct by the dogs of the bush. They are coarse and ill-flavoured, but make a meal for a bushman.
9th. This morning we packed up our loads, which, when collected together, were found to be rather bulky: mine however was light, though large, consisting of dried fish. We came on about a mile to our fern-root, where we camped to allow it to dry, and enable the women to enlarge our kits. Fine.
10th. After accomplishing rather a long mile, we were brought to a standstill by a fall of snow. We erected a shelter at the commencement of another grass flat of considerable extent, level with the river on the northern bank.
12th. Came on about two miles, when Ekehu, looking back, discovered a smoke which he supposed to be the fire of our Ngaitau friends returning. Self and Ekehu left our loads and returned to ascertain, when we found it was our late house which had taken fire. Proceeded about five miles farther, and again built another shed, which the rain at night proved the value of. The banks of the river are a series of grass and fern patches, running back to the main forest some three or four miles deep, with here and there patches of underbrush.
13th. Alternate rain and sunshine.
14th. After walking about three miles we came to a large shinglebed, where the river divides itself into several branches; and after some exploring about, we took the one to the northward, and ascended about two miles, when the rain began to fall, so we had to erect a shelter at the edge of a grass plain some miles square, apparently very good, and well sheltered by clumps of trees.
16th. I made a sally out, and found, by ascending a high tree, _e had taken the wrong turn, or rather the wrong branch of the river, its bearing being too much North. I believe this is the pass to the Tuhinu, which the natives formerly travelled to catch seals at Tauranga. When the weather permits, we shall have to retrace our steps to the main river, which must be my course. Rain. ..
17th. Another dirty day, at least too wet for leaving our shed to brave the rain, but we managed to procure for supper a fine eel and two woodhens. A sharp frost at night, and very cold. .
18th. A fine morning after the fog had risen, and we once again mounted our respective burdens, and made a start. Leaving the river, we took to a thick though level bush, and steered by compass due South; and in about two miles we came to another moderately large stream, also a branch from the main stream, its junction with which I could see, and which I considered was bearing too much to the S. W. for our purpose; so we took the branch, and ascended nearly three miles, when Ekehu so increased the weight of our loads by the addition of eleven large eels, that we resolved to stop and eat some. The land on either side of the river is level and mostly wooded, the timber being principally of the pine tribe. Fine.
At this point we finally took leave of the main stream of the Grey, which, according to the natives, takes its rise in a large lake to the eastward (Lake Christabel). Ekehu also recollected having been there when a child. The Grey is certainly a fine river for New Zealand, and worthy of the name of our Governor, after whom it is called. Could it but be connected with a harbour it would make a fine field for colonization, there being much good land fit for arable purposes, and some good grazing districts in well-sheltered positions; also some very fine timber for sawing, quite accessible, as well as a quantity of fine kauri for spars-at least what I believe to be such. The shingle bed of this river in many places abounds with coal, though of an inferior quality to the seam near the sea. In it is also found the stone used by the natives for rubbing down their poenamo; it is something like a Newcastle stone, though rather closer in the grain, and has a fine cutting quality.
19th. We pushed on about three miles to the edge of another grass plain, when the rain, which had been falling in showers, began to wet us through, and compelled us to erect another shelter. The quality of the country about the same as usual.
20th. Very warm day.
21st. Walked along the grass for about four miles, till we came to a division of the river, when I resolved to look ahead before I carried my load, so I went on, and ascending a small fern elevation in the grass plain, chose the most easterly branch for my course and returned to my encampment. Fine.
22nd. After walking about two miles along the grass, we came to a part of the river shut in between two low ridges of hills, covered with black birch for nearly two miles, when we again came to the open country, consisting of grass, fern, flax and manuka, reaching al}ead as far as the eye could see, and about three or four miles in depth, when it is bounded by a high range. We again progressed some three or four miles, keeping the banks of the river, or bed, which is not very deep at this place, and better walking than the grass, and camped on the plain. I lit several fires during the day, which burnt all night, and freed us from the nuisance of the sandfly and musquito, for which this river is famed. Fine.
Some of the bends of this river I passed today are as beautiful, in my opinion, as nature can possibly make them. The river is clear and deep, and runs over a bright shingle bed; the undergrowth on the banks is a beautiful mixture of shrubs, and the adjoining bush fine lofty rimu, rata, apd black birch, with scattered patches of fern land. I was so pleased with the Grey river that I should not object to visit it again.
There is a great number of wild dogs here, which sadly lessens the quantity of the ground birds, for which it was formerly noted.
23rd. The appearance of the country before us induced us to spend a day here on a small patch of fern, and obtain its roots for future use. Fine. There is nothing like keeping up the stock of provisions whenever an opportunity offers, although the back has to suffer from the weight; for in this country it is often much easier to exhaust than to replenish.
I am also obliged to keep the natives as well fed as possible, for they are continually murmuring; telling me they are sure, if they continue to follow me, I shall starve them. They several times threatened to return to Massacre Bay, and live with the natives there, rather than take their chance in the bush of safely reaching Nelson.
24th. We all agreed on the necessity of erecting a shelter against the approach of the storm we saw nearing us, which reached us about midday, and just as we were housing our baggage. Caught some eels.
25th. Rain, in storms, all day, accompanied with heavy thunder and lightning. .
26th. After we had accomplished about three miles, the rain again overtook us, and we were obliged to build another shelter. The grass and open country still continues to bound the northern bank of the river, averaging a depth of nearly four miles.
27th. At our camp.
28th. A walk of five miles brought us to the termination of the grass, where the river flows between two black birch banks.
29th. Last night the natives found a hole of water, from which they caught thirty-five eels of various sizes, but, put together, of such a bulk and weight that they would not hear of moving on, but set to work to take out their bones, and expose them to the sun and smoke to dry. Fine.
If eels are carefully dried and skinned, the head cut off, and opened down the belly, the bone carefully taken out, and the flesh exposed to the smoke to dry, . they would last some months, and this is, in my opinion, the best way to eat them. An eel should be about five pounds or six pounds weight, and if too dry, soaking it in water for a few hours, and then basting it over a slow fire, makes it a very good dish.
March 1st. This morning while the natives were packing away their fish and other things, I counted fifty-four eels, each averaging, I should say, three pounds in weight, and making a heavy load for three of us to carry. I was obliged to take the heaviest, to keep good humour amongst them, and to be enabled to laugh at them when they complained of being tired. We proceeded about four miles; when Ekehu found a good eel station, and nothing could induce him to pass it. Leaving him to fish, we progressed half a mile further, and came to an open tract of country, consisting of grass, manuka, toitoi, &c. We walked about three miles more, keeping to the bed and banks of the river, when a fall of rain gave us the trouble of erecting a temporary shelter.
2nd. This morning I lighted a fire on the plain, and the wind changing, drove it down upon us, which burnt our shelter, but the day proved fine, so we cared not. Walked about a mile to the termination of the grass plain, and again took to the banks and bed of the river, which recommenced its course between the black birch. Proceeded three miles farther, and awaited the arrival of Ekehu.
3rd. Accomplished a distance of about six miles, which, from the weight of our loads, and the quantity of dead timber in the river, was a hard day’s walk. The valley now is fast’ narrowing, and I hope another day’s march will take us to the foot of the mountain range, for I am anxious to ascend, and see something of my whereabouts.
4th. This morning it commenced raining, and we all set to work to erect a shelter, when we were compelled to resort to the black birch bark for a covering. In the middle of the night the wari separated just over my sleeping-quarters, which gave me a most uncomfortable night’s lodging. Rain all night.
5th and 6th. Rain.
7th. The day proved fine enough to induce us to leave our lodgings and proceed. After taking the bed of the river for about two miles, we deserted the main stream, and took to a branch bearing East, which we ascended about one mile. Here we resolved to abandon the river altogether, and take to the low range that skirted the southern bank, which we ascended, and walked ..along the ridge about three miles, when we discerned a large river, distant about two miles. We agreed to make a push, and endeavour to spend the night on its banks, which we reached just at nightfall, when the thunder, that had been following us all day, now overtook us, and we had to erect a shelter by the light of our fire.
On the hills bounding the Grey river I caught four kakapos, or green ground-parrots. They are beautiful birds in plumage; but as they have been fully described by skilful naturalists, I refrain from doing so.
8th. On looking about this morning, we found this to be the Oweka1, a river flowing into the Buller. Spent the day exploring and bird catching.
The pass from this branch of the Grey to the Oweka is very easy, and has only one ascent, and that not at all difficult; the descent also is very easy; the bush is open, and free of roots, and the inclination is very slight. A communication from river to river, even for a cart, might be made by simply clearing away the underbrush.
9th. Started to cross the valley, taking a course East, and found it to be about three miles deep. Came to the rising ground, which we ascended, and slept on the side of the mountain. Fine.
10th. Reached the summit of the hill this evening, and found it covered with low fern, &c. It commands a fine view of the interior of the island; and I could discern mountains which I had known at the Roturoa, on the river Buller, and on the West Coast. The morning was too foggy to admit of seeing the lowland.
11th. Being a fine clear day, I could see from this place1 the large grass plain of Port Cooper, which appears to commence from the high mountains in a series of grass hills. The hill I have ascended is :very steep and high, and bad walking owing to the dead timber and loose stones; but the natives tell me their pass over this range is low and easy, and only takes one day from river to river, that is from the lake to the river Waimakariti (Waimakariri), flowing to the East Coast; and that it then takes a week’s travelling on the grass plain before reaching the sea-shore. I am told that some natives, four years ago, crossed the island in seventeen days.
I much wished to descend to the grass plain, and try and reach the East Coast, but the natives, one and all refused, and told me that I had kept them already far too long away from Nelson, and that the payment I had promised them was too little for what they had previously done. Even on a promise of further compensation they still refused-so I was obliged, reluctantly, to abandon my desire, and return to the Nelson.
From this summit elevation I was able to look back upon the route I had been travelling for the last six weeks. I was now standing on the further or eastern extremity of the large opening. I had seen from the coast; and which I then thought, and now found to be, the southern extremity of the Inakaiona valley. Looking towards the coast, at my feet was the lnakaiona or Oweka river flowing northward through the valley to the Buller, and appearing to rise a long way to the southward, perhaps in the neighbourhood of the upper lake of the Grey, receiving in its course all the tributary streams on the east, coming from the reverse slopes of the mountain ranges at my back, lying between me and the Roturoa. Across the valley, here about fifteen miles wide, I looked upon the mountains of the coast, gradually melting down into the open country at their base, which I had just traversed, and contributing their numerous streams to swell the waters of the Grey, whose branches were only divided from those of the Oweka, flowing in an exactly contrary direction, by one ridge of inconsiderable elevation. To my left, at forty or fifty miles distance, arose the snowy ranges of the Southern Alps, with the white-capped peak of the Kaimatau (Mount Rolleston) towering conspicuously among them. Filling up the interval, were the low undulating forest-clad hills, in which both the Grey and the Oweka take their rise, whilst behind them stretched the grass plains of the eastern coast.
12th. The natives were not willing to spend. the day on the summit of the hill, and refused to follow my course to reach the Matukituki valley, saying, that if I did not return to the river we had left they would, for we should be all starved if we ventured to take a short cut through a black birch country; so I was compelled to descend the hill by nearly the same route I had ascended it. Fine.
I did not want to follow the circuitous course of the river, but to steer a compass course towards the Matukituki valley, or the Roturoa; but the natives told me that the river was the only place where provisions, or rather food, could be obtained, so I had to return to its banks. 13th. Reached the bank of the river, and camped about a mile below where we first made it. Fine.
14th. The natives hearing numerous cries of the weka during last night, wished to stop here, to which I assented, having agaifi hurt my weak anele, which was giving me much pain. The river here is very pretty, flowing between two narrow grassy banks, behind which the wood commences, consisting of stately pines of all kinds – kauri, kaikatea, remu, totara, and the matai, with here and there a large birch, altogether forming a beautiful variety of foliage. During the day the natives caught twenty-seven wekas, and I treated my dog to a whole one for his supper.
The weka, or wood-hen, is the most useful and valuable bird to a bush-ranger, and in the months of May, June, and July, when they feed on the berry of the karamu, they get very fat, and attain to a great size, and are easily captured by anyone who can imitate their cry; for, when they hear their cry, they will answer and approach, and then are very easily caught by a small flax snare tied to a short small stick; but I have taken them with my hands only by shaking a katuhituhi, or robin, before them. They are very pugnacious, and will fly at a bunch of feathers, or a red rag.
15th. I was surprised, on waking in the morning, to find a fresh in the river, having had but little rain’
yesterday. We however made a start, and walked a mile down the bank of the river, when the natives found a spot they fancied for eel fishing, and wanted to stop. I got angry, and urged the necessity of proceeding, stating we had enough provisions, and were losing fine weather; so they agreed to come, and I again mounted my load, and went on, but on looking back, I saw the wahine still at the eel station, and when I remonstrated, only got laughed at; so I was forced to laugh too, for I find there is nothing like good temper in dealing with these natives-besides, I doubt if it would really answer to quarrel with them in these wilds, and so far from a settlement. Fine.
16th. The game-list for yesterday stood as follows: twenty_one wekas, two young Paradise ducks, one grey duck, two dab-chicks, two sparrow-hawks, and three eels. What we are to do. with all these I do not know, for eating them while sweet is impossible, and we have no means of keeping them unless we stop and make an air-tight bag of totara bark, which I object to on account of the delay. There is some difference between the stock of provisions I now have, and my dietary in the month of May last year. Such is a bush life, full of feasts and fasts.
After the fog had risen, we commenced our day’s march, and after travelling five miles down the shingle on the banks of the river, we came to a moderately sized stream flowing from the S.E., the appearance of which caused me to leave my load, and take a short trip up its banks. It had a very inviting appearance, and having ascended rather more than a mile, I came to a large patch of land, consisting of fern, grass, &c., of perhaps 12,000 or 14,000 acres in extent, and belted by a forest of fine large pines, which also covered a large extent of level land. Returned to my load, and proce’eded forwards, taking the shingle of the river, and after a walk of four or five miles we camped. After arranging our sleeping quarters, and eating our supper, Ekehu caught eleven wekas, all within sight of our camp.
Ekehu found a kaka’s nest at this place, on the top of a large birch tree, which he ascended by an ingenious method, He cut and tied together several long light poles, at the end of which he secured a short crooked stick, by which he was enabled to hang from branch to branch, and thus ascend the butt easily, and return with four young birds, which we tried to keep alive.
I believe if vye had provisions spoiling for want of eating, and had loads under which we could scarcely stagger, nothing would induce Ekehu to pass a weka, or remain at the fire if there was the chance of an eel in the river, so great is his natural love of destruction. Last night I pressed on him to forbear fishing, but no-he must be off, and return with twenty eels.
17th. Another fine day, and again on our way, still keeping to the banks of the river. The river is now rapidly increasing in size, from the drainage of the surrounding country.
18th. Proceeded about five miles, when the appearance of the day induced us to stop and erect a shelter in a fine manuka grove, using the bark of the trees for thatch, which is very watertight, and quickly obtained; but the frame must be made very high, from its combustible nature.
19th. Wet day, and sand flies very troublesome.
20th. Accomplished four miles down the shingle, the country appearing of about the same character, namely, a large tract of very fine timber land on either bank of the stream, when we came to a part of the river shut in between two low cliffs of a kind of limestone, but level on the surface, and still covered with pines: these cliffs lasted nearly three miles. Proceeded two miles past them, and camped, the rain of yesterday rendering it difficult to cross.
21st. This morning we had to take a most formidable ford, but managed to cross safely, with the exception of wetting Epike’s load. We then proceeded nearly two miles, when Ekehu, after taking another awkward ford, in ascending the bank, missed his footing, and fell into a hole over head and ears, which caused us to stop and kindle a fire to dry his kit. When all was right again, we made another start, and proceeded about ‘two more miles, when we stopped, and erected a shelter against the falling rain. A bystander would have laughed, if in comfortable lodgings himself, to have watched us in erecting our shelter by firelight. Having constructed our framework, the thatch, or covering, was the difficulty, each seeking for enough to cover his own sleeping-place;, and as we discovered, or rather felt a dearth of fitting materials, we would snatch up a fire-brand and brave the storm for another handful of grass, toitoi, or any other accessible material-so that about midnight we could call our covering water-tight for a bush house.
March is the most difficult month in the year to ford rivers, owing to the growth of a slippery kind of moss on the- surface of all the stones that form the beds of the rivers. I found it easier to take the deep water than the shallows in this month.
Tried a new species of fruit, the berry of the moko, and found it very palatable when you have obtained the proper knowledge of eating them. You must gauge your mouth so that your teeth will only crush the berry without breaking the seed, which has a most nauseous, bitter taste.
22nd. A fresh in the river, and the unpleasant drip of the bush, with a plentiful supply of provisions, were sufficient excuses for remaining under our comfortable shelter.
23rd. Fine. After crossing the river five times breast high, for the sake of getting shingle walking, we came to a reach of the river, looking down which we could discover the country of the Buller, and my companions were off at a canter to try which would be first to make the river. On arriving, we found it to be much swollen. We walked about seven miles during the day. The appearance of the country the same as before, with the exception of soapstone forming the bed of the river instead of shingle.
24th. Again on my way for Nelson-at least I think so, as I am now retracing my steps on the banks of the Buller, the only change being that I am on the southern bank. Made a -moderate day’s walk. Found a kaka’s nest with five young birds.
25th. Moved forwards at a good pace, and accomplished three days of our outward journey on the other bank in two days.
26th. Last night took a draught with our net, and caught about fifty upukororo.
27th. Accomplished a distance of about three miles of, I believe, the worst walking to be found in New Zealand, and two miles rather better. By nightfall we reached a small fern patch, where we had to erect a shelter by firelight. Rain at night.
29th. Made a start, and proceeded at a gallant pace until we came to our former fearful descent of the 5th of April of last year, when we had to ascend a steep hill, which took us the remainder of the day.
30th. Very bad walking, the immense granite rocks that belt the river defying us to follow its course, and the mountains too high to ascend, so our day’s travelling was one continual climbing up the spurs and descending into the water-courses. This labour enabled us to make only a short distance by night, which unfortunately threatened rain.
31st. As predicted, just as we were turning in under our blankets last night the rain poured down, but we managed to find squatting room under a large dead tree that was blown down, and keep tolerably dry until morning, when we built a shelter.
April 1st. Fearfully heavy rain, with gusts of wind, which drove the rain through and under our shelter, and gave us all a thorough wet soaking. Luckily, Ekehu caught enough eels to last us two days with moderation.
2nd. Continuation of rain, and a fresh in the river.
3rd. Rain continuing to fall in torrents. About midday there came a stream pouring from the cliffs under which we were, and through the shelter which we had been working at all day to make comfortable, erecting mud fences, &c. The fresh also increased so much, that the natives declared we must find some means to ascend the cliff, or we should be all carried away; so we made a sort of ladder, and managed to clamber up about twenty feet to another ledge in the rocks. The bush here prevented us from moving backwards or forwards, but we contrived to draw up enough of our old shed to erect a shelter against the wind, for against the rain it was impossible, as the thatch we had barely kept our kits dry, and we had to brave the rain until the morning, when we erected a straddle bedstead, -as the uneven surface of the granite prevented us from lying down.
4th. Made our shed habitable. Rain continuing. This was truly a fearful day to spend on a cliff in a black birch forest. The rain poured down, loosening the stones of which the hill was formed, which came rolling by us, and plunged into the river with a tremendous noise; and the wind tore up the trees on all sides, causing a simultaneous shudder among all the party when we heard their crash.
We managed our dietary during the last rain without encroaching upon our stock of provisions, there being sowthistle at hand, which we ate at every meal. When I left Nelson, Mr Heaphy smiled at my stock of pepper, from its quantity and bulk; but, were he here, he would find it a great relish to his sowthistle, etc. On inspecting our stock, I found that I had nearly one pound left – some proof of my economy in the consumption of the luxuries of this life. I would recommend anyone to take a good quantity who may be bound to the bush. Ekehu’s kaka died, leaving only nine alive to mourn the fate of their brother, and I fear they will die also. My last pair of unmentionables are now brought into active use.
5th. An increase in the gale, both of wind and rain, and the fresh in the river exceeding all bounds, which has risen forty feet perpendicular. God only knows when we shall be able to proceed; for to ascend is impossible, and we can move nowhere until the flood subsides.
6th. Showery, with heavy rain at night.
7th. What after so much rain may be called a fine day; and should the morrow be fine, I hope to be once more moving. The fresh rapidly going down.
8th. The fresh having a little subsided during the night we managed to get a short way along the cliffs, and then ascend a monstrous hill, that is, for steepness, but we kept on all day, scarcely allowing time for breathing, and by dusk reached the river’s edge past the range of cliffs, where we camped.
9th. The weather is determined to try our constitutions, for soon after rolling our blankets round us last night it commenced raining heavily, and continued all night, so that by morning we were all soaking wet through. We then commenced building a shelter, but the rain ceasing, we moved on about a mile to a shingle beach; where we spread our kits to dry.
10th. This long rain caused so great a flood in the river that we consumed all our dried fish, and were not able to catch any more; and as there were no birds in the bush, I told the natives we must push on, although it was raining, and endeavour to get a supper, which we did out of a fern tree. Made a good day’s march.
11th. Again progressing, and making for Nelson, but our walking was slow, owing to Epike’s lameness. The fresh still presented an obstacle to eel fishing; and we could now find room for some of our surplus provisions on the Oweka. Bad lodging on a granite rock, without firewood, and, what was worse, no supper.
12th. Two hours before daylight the rain again began to fall, and continued in small showers all day; but having no breakfast, we had no alternative but to brave the storm and seek one. After walking about four miles we came to a small patch of sand, when we saw the upukororo re-ascending the river from the flood; and having no provisions, we camped, and made our kupenga all right, when we set to work to fish for breakfast. We took 15 fish during the day. There being no material for erecting a shelter, we had to hoist our blankets for a shed, but found a year’s bushing had made a sad alteration in their waterproof qualities.
13th. Continued at our station fishing. Caught about the same number as yesterday, which we dried for our onward use.
14th. After packing our fish we started, and made a good day’s journey on a bad road. Showers.
15th. During the night I lost the entire use of my side, and in the morning I could not move. Although I had never before been any hindrance to the natives, always carrying my share of the loads, and helping to get firewood, &c., I had the mortification of hearing one of them, Epike, propose to Ekehu to proceed and leave me, urging that I appeared too ill to recover soon, if ever, and that it was a place devoid of food; but Ekehu refused to leave me, and Epike and wife started forward by themselves. I received great kindness from Ekehu and his wife for the week I was compelled to remain here; the woman kindly attending me, and Ekehu working hard to obtain food for us all, always pressing me to take the best, and frequently telling me he would never return to Nelson without I could accompany him. We had a slight shower during the day, but Ekehu built a shelter over me which protected me from the weather.
16th. Self ill, Ekehu went eel fishing, to try me with some fresh food.
17th and 18th. Rain.
19th. Fine. Ekehu went searching for food, our supply of fish being spoilt, and returned with nothing but two or three thrushes, and a fern tree.
20th and 21st. I was able to move about, but with some pain.
22nd. Although I could only stand on one leg, I resolved to try and proceed, Ekehu having scoured
the country round without finding anything eatable, within reach, and he would not leave me for a night ; so he carried our bedclothes forward, and then came for me partly carrying, partly leading me along.
23rd. I was able to proceed, though with difficulty, by the aid of a stick and Ekehu’s hand.
24th. It was with great difficulty I could move at all today, but want of provisions compelled me. Found two fern trees, and made an oven.
25th. About midday we overtook Epike and wife, who had been clearing the country of all birds before us. I was unable to proceed without a helping hand, or to carry my load. Rain.
26th. Reached a stream flowing from the southwards, called by the natives Muri-ira (Maruia). It is opposite to our cave and former return station to Matukituki (Matakitaki). We tried to ford the stream, but found it too deep and rapid. Rain.
There is some considerable quantity of good forest land on the banks of the Muri-ira, and the natives told me that there is a grass plain at its source, to which they formerly resorted in search of the kakapo, or green parrot. The route they took was over the hills of the Oweka. The Ngaitau natives told me that before the introduction of the potato they lived chiefly on the kakapos, which were numerous on the mountains of this island, but are now nearly extinct.
27th Finding no materials to form a raft, we were obliged to ascend the stream in search of a ford. We kept walking all day, and found many likely spots, but on trying them they were all too deep. Rain.
28th. After ascending the river four miles further, we came to a division of the stream caused by an island (At Keyes Creek), with a short shingle reach on either bank. Up to this point, it had been confined between large rocks. Here we ventured to cross, all holding one stick, and reached the other side in safety, having had to swim part of the way over, and of course thoroughly wetting our clothes, &c., which took some time to dry, as it kept raining all day, and being in a pine forest we could find nothing for a shed. We however managed to find firewood in plenty, and having a very wet night we all sat round the fire under the shelter of our native mats, but the rain and cold made us very uncomfortable. We had empty stomachs also, being without supper; nor had we anything for a breakfast.
29th. The day consumed in retracing our steps on the other banks of the river towards the Buller. Fine.
Sunday 30th. Ekehu said that hunger was no Sabbath keeper, so we proceeded, and reached the banks of the Buller, where we slept. Rain.
May 1st. Collected fern-root, and caught some wekas, after reaching our old shelter at Matukituki, which we found standing.
2nd and 3rd. Collected fern-root, and caught some wekas. Made an oven of the roots of the ti.
4th and 5th. Still at our station. Heavy rain.
6th. Fine, but a heavy fresh in the river.
7th. I am again feeling much pain in my side, and am unable to use it. My eye and hand also much affected.
8th. Finding I was unable to move, Epike and wife went off seeking wood-hens. Ekehu with me.
9th and l0th. Collecting fern-root. Rain.
11th Ekehu built a new house, our old one _being neither wind nor water-tight. Epike returned. He is a greedy old fellow, and I should have been better, and have had better fare, without him. In this instance, although we afterwards saw the feathers of many birds, yet he returned with only one poor one, and told me it was all he could get, and that he purposely saved it for me. I found it best never to quarrel with him, so I took the bird, and thanked him.
12th. A heavy fall of snow all day.
13th. Moved into our new house, which we found both warmer and drier. The fresh in the river caused Ekehu to remove to higher ground. The old house, built here by him some years ago, was washed away, showing that the flood had risen higher than it had done for many years.
14th. I am still without the use of my side, which gives me pain on a change of weather.
15th. Ekehu collecting ti roots. The river is much swollen, and even if I were able, I doubt if I could progress, owing to the snow. I was also taken ill with a violent retching, which lasted all day and night, and my side gave me much pain. I attribute it to the bad living and the cold weather, both clothes and food being very scanty.
We left here all our old clothes (none of which I had previously tJ1rown away, reserving them for patches), my pot, two specimens of greenstoneone about sixteen inches long and six broad by one thick, and considered valuable by the natives, the other smaller-some pieces of mica slate, a stone for polishing the greenstone (with which I had found means to amuse myself on wet days), three good nets, and many small things, which Ekehu secured. Both he and Epike told me that they intended returning here. They cleared, during our stay, a piece of land; on which they planted about 15° potatoes, brought by us from the Mawera, and a quantity of Swede turnips and native greens. They have each runaway wives, and are afraid of returning amongst the natives from the fear of losing them, and of going back to their “‘former servitude, both being the slaves of E Iti, the chief at Motueka.
16th, 17th, and 18th. Fine, but very cold. Ekehu clearing for his potato garden.
19th. This morning Epike and wife started for Nelson, but I refused to proceed from inability. Ekehu and wife went out to search for food, so I was left alone during the day. Ekehu returned in the evening, and said he was anxious to proceed, and I told him I would try in the morning.
20th. I resolved to make the attempt, and we packed up, leaving all we could behind us, as I was unable to carry anything. We reached the Tutaki, and ascended about a mile to a ford, which we crossed over, when we found Epike bird catching. We gave him some berries in exchange for some wekas, and had a good supper.
21st. After proceeding a short distance the rain obliged us to halt, and build a shelter.
22nd. Reached the end of the valley, and camped. A slight fall of snow or small rain all day. We sought the shelter of a large totara tree for the night.
23rd. This morning we found a kohaha tree, the berries of which the natives are very fond of. This delayed us some time. Proceeded a short distance, and camped on the banks of the Tiraumea. Wet night.
24th. Our clothes being wet from last night’s rain, we proceeded to the shelter of last year-an overhanging rock, which protected us from the rain. Dried our clothes, and spent the day here. A small basket of mine, which was hung to the roof of our rock to dry, fell down during the night on the fire, and was burnt, by which I lost all my sketches, several skins of birds, some curiosities, and some memoranda, the loss of which may cause my journal to seem incomplete in many places.
25th. We came on a short distance, and I:}uilt a shelter against the rain or snow, which seems to fall here every day towards evening during the winter months.
26th. This morning we started, although it was raining hard, and reached our former wari at the Tiraumea towards evening.
27th, 28th, and 29th. Rain. Our shelter far from watertight, and our bedclothes saturated with the drip.
30th. Finer, but an immense fresh in the river. The natives went in search of food, our provisions being exhausted. Ekehu made a waterproof covering of manuka bark, which allowed him to venture out in spite of the rain.
31st. The natives went off today to collect the fern-root which they found yesterday. Cold day.
June 1st. Fine. The rain that fell last night prevents us from moving onwards.
2nd. We made a start this morning, and found the river so cold, that, after proceeding a short way, we left Epike and wife behind, as they were cramped with the cold. Came to within a short distance of the wood, and camped. Very cold, and no fire.
3rd. After waiting some time for the coming up of Epike, we proceeded, and reached our former sleeping-place at the junction of a small stream from the hills.
4th. This morning Epike and wife arrived, having been all night on the hills. They had lost their way, and had had neither sleep nor food since we left them. Made a short distance and camped.
5th. We reached the Roturoa lake soon after midday, and found the canoe there safe. Slept at our station amongst the manuka.
6th. Launched our canoe and crossed the lake.
7th. This morning we were obliged to erect a shelter against the rain. We had two sheds made of . black birch, one of which fell down on my lame side while I was lying by the fire, and hurt me much.
8th. A fresh in the lake had floated our canoe half across before it was seen. Ekehu’s wife volunteered to swim for it, which she did, and paddled it back to the shore. After hauling it up safe, we went forwards, and camped on the Puhawini range, but passed a very rainy night, which soaked everything, and kept us sitting up and shivering.
9th. Reached the river Puhawini, or Howard, and built a shelter which we much needed.
10th. Rain and snow, and a fresh in the river.
11th Walked about a mile to our former station, where we had erected a wari. Searched the country around for food, but found none, and the river too deep to wade.
12th. Reached our old quarters where I, with Mr Fox, left our flour, and stopped there, the Rotuiti river preventing progress. I saw six sheep here, and the tracks of a large flock, which much astonished me, as there was no station here when I formerly passed this way. A slight fall of snow all day.
13th. This morning we with much difficulty crossed the Rotuiti. Saw some hundreds of sheep feeding on the grass here, but no recent shoe or foot-marks; so, having no provisions, I was afraid of exploring for the station or road, but made the best of my way towards the hill which I had formerly twice travelled over, and consequently knew the track. Fine night.
14th. Reached the junction of the Mokipiko and Maipo rivers, where we slept. Ekehu caught twenty fine wekas during the day-so we can all once more enjoy a full meal.
15th. Reached the old survey station on the Mokipiko, and found it fallen down. Ekehu and his wife much wanted to stop here, as Epike and wife were behind, but the rain coming on, I told Ekehu I should push forward and endeavour to spend the night at Fraser’s, or at all events on the other side of the Motueka. When I mentioned tea, sugar, and bread, the woman agreed to follow me ; so I pushed ahead to prevent hearing the grumbling of Ekehu about sore feet, which, after dark, were sorely pricked by the ground-thorn. We reached Fraser’s about ten o’clock at night, whom we found in bed, but he soon arose, and gave me a hearty welcome, and the luxury of a taste of good tobacco.
So, thank God,’ I am once more among civilized men, of which I have had many doubts during my illness, and this preyed much on my mind. It is a period of nearly five hundred and fifty days from the time I wished Fraser goodbye, on the banks of the river Rotuiti, and my seeing him again at his house, during which time I have never heard a word of English, save the broken jargon of Ekehu and the echo of my own voice; and I rather felt astonished that I could both understand and speak English as well as ever. There have been many wet days when I have not spoken a word all day.
Having traced the banks of the Buller from source to mouth, and returned by the Grey and Inakaiona valley, I am certain there is no accessible pass across the island north of the latter place, or any route from the Nelson settlement that could be taken to the grass plains at Port Cooper, excepting that along the coast from the Wairau.
I have not attempted to lay down the course of my journey, nor even the distance I have passed over, as I felt it impossible to do so with any regard to accuracy. Starting as I did on a purely amateur trip, singlehanded, and having everything to carry myself, I could take no instruments, save a single compass and a sextant, which were soon spoilt by the wet so that I found it impossible to take any bearings on a crooked river, or in a black birch country; and I decline to assert anything which may hereafter be found incorrect. Being also unacquainted with geology, I am unable to give any description of the country. I only went to assure myself of the description of country in the middle and west of the island; to explore the country would require more than one person of greater knowledge, and also much more capital than I had at my command.
I am, however, sure there is nothing on the West Coast worth incurring the expense of exploring, but certainly think the natives there require something to be done for them. They are quiet, and do no harm, and ought to have some share of the attention that is paid to the natives who are amongst the white population. They have all books, both Bibles and Prayer-books, but their condition would be much improved by giving them a few good axes, and some other tools, as also some nails, of which they are very fond, and know the value. They are much cleaner in their habits than the natives in the settlements, and they have better houses-most of them having chimneys, and also bedsteads, or rather a raised floor on which they sleep. I trust something will be done for their welfare, in which I take great interest. It would be a very trifling expense to convey a few things to the Kawatiri, from whence the natives themselves would gladly distribute them down the coast. The introduction of goats would much benefit them, and ultimately ourselves.
I believe anyone taking the trouble to read my imperfectly kept journal would consider much time has been lost, and many unnecessary delays had taken place, but I, from experience, can assure the reader to the contrary; and I affirm none can form an estimate of the many difficulties I had to encounter from the want of means, and being thrown quite on the mercy of the natives; and I consider I have accomplished a great work in having traced the only two large rivers of the West Coast from source to mouth, and maintained myself for eighteen months on the natural productions of this island.
I am sorry I lost my sketches, for, though no artist, they were faithful delineations, and would have illustrated, much better than I can describe, the surface of the country I have seen and passed over. Any distance, or estimates of quantities of land I have made are as correct as my judgment (from having been on the Nelson survey-staff) could describe them. I found my native Ekehu of much use-invaluable indeed, but the other three rather an encumbrance I could have made better progress without them; but to Ekehu I owe my life-he is a faithful and attached servant.
Other Sources of Information on Thomas Brunner
A summary of Brunner’s work in W. G. McClymont’s The Exploration of New Zealand (1940),
Maori history traced by G. G. Mitchell in Maori Place Names in Buller County (1948).
Royal Geographical Society (1850) Volume XX, pages 344-378.
Nelson Examiner, 30th September-21st October, 1848,
New Zealand Journal 1849
New Zealand Spectator 25th October 8th November, 1848
Great Britain Parliamentary Papers relating to New Zealand for 1850
A manuscript, discovered by Dr F. A. Bett of Nelson, in which Brunner made a Synopsis of his West Coast journeys – this is in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.