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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Chapter XLIII — Appendices

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Chapter XLIII

William Stewart, The Sea Rover
Adventurous Career Ends in Poverty Bay

Captain William Stewart, who claimed to have made the first purchase of land on the East Coast (1825) and who brought the first permanent white traders from Sydney to Poverty Bay (1831), was born in Scotland in 1776. He joined the Royal Navy and served in the West Indies. It was stated by Baron de Thierry that he deserted and became the master of a privateer. On 12 June, 1801, he reached Sydney from Calcutta. T. Shepherd, a surveyor who accompanied the Herd expedition to New Zealand in 1826, met him at Stewart Island. He described him as “a stout, good-looking man.” Stewart was pilot on board H.M.S. Herald when she visited the island in 1840. E. M. Williams, who was the interpreter, says that he was “a straight-forward, true-hearted sailor, who lived a temperate life in surroundings in which sobriety was rare.” By some early writers William Stewart was confused with Captain John Stewart, who, in October, 1830, took Rauparaha and a party of his warriors in the Elizabeth from Kapiti Island to Banks Peninsula on a secret mission of vengeance against a chief named Tamaiharanui.

Thomson (Story of New Zealand, vol. I, p. 291) says that Stewart was a good specimen of the sealer class and that, by birth, he was a Scottish Jacobite, “who had seen the world and had drunk Burgundy.” After residing in New Zealand for many years he returned to Scotland to see his forlorn wife, but she, having conceived him dead, had remarried and denied his personal identity. As a consequence he returned to New Zealand. Stewart, he adds, was in a destitute state when he made his last home in Poverty Bay. Occasionally he might have been seen sitting among the natives, as they passed a pipe from mouth to mouth, relating tales of his adventures, which, in length and variety, resembled those of Sinbad the Sailor. Up till the end (which came in 1851) he wore the tartan of his Royal clan.

Stewart figured in a romantic story based on a conjecture that a grave on Campbell Island contained the remains of Charlotte, a daughter of Bonnie Prince Charlie of '45 celebrity and Clementina Wilkinshaw (sometimes spelt Walkenshaw), who followed him to France. Charlotte, it was stated, was believed by the Jacobites to have adopted the role of spy for the English Government, and they arranged with Stewart to carry her off to the South Seas. The facts, according to W. Pember Reeves (New Zealand, 1908), were that it was the mother who was suspected of being a spy, and she was driven away by Prince Charlie. Charlotte, who remained with her father till his death in 1788, died in the following year. Stewart did not find his way to the South Pacific until 12 years afterwards.

In Sir James Ross's account of the Antarctic expedition of 1840, mention is made of a claim by whalers that they had seen on Campbell Island a woman who appeared in the Royal Stewart tartan and with a sprig of heather in her bonnet. A woman and three men were left on the island by the New Zealander in 1835; they were taken off by the Enderbys' whaler Eliza Scott on 10 January, 1839. The only woman known to have been buried on the island is Elizabeth Parr, of Norfolk page 461 Island, who was drowned in November, 1810, when a jollyboat belonging to the Perseverance upset and Captain Hasselbourgh (the discoverer of the island) also lost his life.

How it came about that Stewart's name was given to Stewart Island is not clear. Captain Cook was uncertain whether the land which forms the island was insular. On the other hand, Parkinson, as well as some other co-voyagers, was satisfied on the point, and showed a strait on his map (1784) Scholefield (Dictionary of New Zealand Biography) says that Stewart took a sealing gang to the island in the Pegasus in 1803, but he does not mention any authority for a claim that Stewart was the first discoverer of the strait. The Alexander Turnbull Library has a sketch (supplied by the New South Wales Lands Department) which states that the strait was discovered and examined by Mr. O. F. Smith, an American, whilst he was searching for seals in 1804, and that he communicated his chart to Captain P. G. King (Governor of New South Wales) in March, 1806.

The “Smith” chart does not appear to have been wholly Smith's work. One of the legends upon it states: “In these stations Mr. Smith took meridian altitudes.” Another reads: “Mr. Smith speaks very highly of the excellence of the harbours, etc.” Port Adventure appears as Port Honduras (the name of a sealer). The Mitchell Librarian informed the writer (4/9/1940) that “no mention of the discovery of the strait is to be found in Governor King's dispatches, and that its existence was not reported in the Sydney Gazette until March, 1809.” There is no record that Stewart ever claimed to have been the first discoverer of the strait. Perhaps his name was bestowed upon the island in recognition of his work in surveying its coasts in 1809 whilst he was chief officer of the Pegasus, and because he compiled the first chart, which was published in London in 1815.

Heta, an elderly native of Muriwai, told the writer in 1912, that Stewart lived with Captain Harris at Opou for about two years. Harris—in fact, everybody—was very good to him. He was not addicted to spirits and did not touch ale. Claret was his favourite drink. His beard was massive, but it had turned grey. As he strolled around he kept on muttering, and natives who overheard him would whisper to one another that his state of mental unrest was due to an evil spirit troubling him. Harris informed Donald McLean on 10 September, 1851, that Stewart had died that morning after a severe illness lasting two months. E. F. Harris (Harris Memoirs) says that Stewart was buried “at the south-east end of Captain Harris's old garden at Tapatahi (Opou, Poverty Bay).” The spot might have been washed away by floods in the Waipaoa River. On the other hand, there have also been accretions in the locality.

Te Kani-A-Takirau: A Great East Coast Chief
Descended From a Famous Couple

Te Kani-a-Takirau (the far-famed East Coast chief) was born at the close of the eighteenth century. He was descended from Konohi, who lived at Whangara, and whose principal wife was Hinekino. Their eldest son (Marakauiti)—who must not be confused with the native youth of like name who was one of the guests on the Endeavour in Poverty Bay—had two wives, and his brother (Te Rewai) was the husband of three women. By Puhinga (his principal wife), Marakauiti begat Tane Tokorangi. When Tane reached manhood Konohi had a quarrel with Rerekohu, another East Coast chief. As a peace offering Rerekohu handed over to Konohi two women of high rank, one being Ngunguru, who was given to Tane for wife.

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It was as a result of this union that Hinematioro, the great “Queen of the East Coast,” was born. She chose for husband Te Hoa-a-Tiki, a grandson of Te Rewai, her great uncle. Their daughter (Ngarangi-Kahiwa) married Te Rongo Pumamao, who was a great grandson of the second wife of Marakauiti, one of her own great grandfathers. Te Kani was the offspring of this marriage, and he was, therefore, the issue of a union between a great grandson and a great granddaughter of Marakauiti, but who were descended from different wives. Although Te Kani had at least three wives he left no issue.

The introduction of Ngunguru into Te Kani's family tree gave him the distinction of being descended from a famous couple—Tahito-kuru Maranga and Tao Putaputa—who, according to tradition, were united in wedlock as a sequel to the successful working of a love charm. Tahito, it is stated, dwelt in Titirangi pa on Kaiti Hill (Gisborne) circa 1500 A.D. He visited Opotiki to pay court to Tao, but was unfavourably received. Upon his return home he made an atahuoi, or neck pendant. Elsdon Best considered that it might have been composed of part of a bird's skin saturated in oil expressed from the seeds of the fruit of the titoki and scented by the inclusion of fragrant leaves, moss or gum. Tahito placed the atahuoi in a ngaruru shell, repeated a love charm over it, and instructed it to make haste to Opape (near Opotiki), where Tao was in the habit of gathering paua.

One day, whilst Tao was on the beach, the only thing that she found was the ngaruru shell; she threw it away. No matter which part of the beach she examined, the shell turned up. When she returned to the camp fire her basket was empty, although her companions had had no difficulty in filling theirs. To her friends she remarked: “A ngaruru was the only thing I saw. Even although I moved from place to place I was followed by the shell.” Next day, when she returned to the beach, there was the faithful ngaruru, and Tao placed it in her basket.

Whilst she was sitting in front of the fire that evening she noticed the strand of the pendant, and placed it on her necklet. Soon Tahito's love began to affect her overwhelmingly. Brought close to the embers, the ngaruru is said to have opened its lips and to have told her the old, old story in the form of a lament which Tahito had composed. Said the cockle: “When Tahito flung me on the waters, he cried: ‘Tell of my love to, Tao,’ and I, now dying, am fulfilling the trust that he reposed in me.” No time was lost by Tao in hitting the Kowhai trail leading to Poverty Bay, and, soon, she was in the arms of the waiting Tahito, of whom Ngunguru, a great grandmother of Te Kani, was a descendant.

Te Kani must have owed much to Hinematioro, whose fame, on account of her kindly disposition, spread far and wide. She would never permit the slaying of anybody to provide food, no matter how meagre the supplies on hand. When Marsden was at Rangihoua in 1820 he met a young East Coast captive woman, who claimed to be a niece of “Hina, a great Queen,” of whom, he said, he had often heard. Upon Te Wera's return from his first lengthy expedition to the south in April, 1821, he told the Rev. J. Butler that the chief place which he had visited was “Enamatteeora,” about 400 miles from the Bay of Islands—clearly a reference to the district ruled over by Hinematioro.

Like some other distinguished figures in Maoridom, Hinematioro met a tragic death. Pakira, who resided in the Waiapu district, was insulted by a brother-in-law named Whakarara, whose abode was at Marahea. When Whakarara heard that Pakira was on the way to attack his pa, he went to Tolaga Bay to secure the protection of Hinematioro, leaving behind a message for Pakira that he should be well content with the sands of Anaura for utu (compensation). Pakira, however, continued to pursue Whakarara, who took refuge on Pourewa Island.

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When Pourewa pa was about to fall into Pakira's hands Hinematioro was assisted down a cliff and placed in a canoe, which made off towards Whangara Island. W. L. Williams was told that the canoe upset, and that Te Kani was the only survivor. Smith (Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century, p. 172) says that her remains were buried on Whangara Island. When the ownership of Pourewa Island was being investigated by Judges Heale and O'Brien in July, 1881, evidence was tendered to the effect that the canoe was overtaken, and that Hinematioro was taken back to the island, where she was slain and her heart was roasted and eaten. This tragic event occurred circa 1823.

D'Urville, commander of the French vessel L'Astrolabe, which visited Tolaga Bay in 1827, gives the earliest pen-picture of Te Kani. It seems that, at the outset, he allowed on board only Te Rangui-Wai-Hetouma (Rangiuia), who claimed to be the principal rangatira of the district. Next day some other chiefs were denied a like privilege, “although with visible repugnance.” One of them (Te Kani) would not obey the sentinel, and, trembling with rage, left only when peremptorily ordered by D'Urville to do so. He was hardly 30 years old, and became known to the voyagers as “Shaki.”

On account of Te Kani's stature and haughty mien, and the air of submission adopted by those who surrounded him, it soon became obvious that he was a chief. Moreover, a young woman in his canoe, who spoke a mixture of English corrupted and of Maori, kept on repeating, with extraordinary volubility, that Shaki, her master, was a great chief and friend of the English, and that it was very bad on D'Urville's part not to receive him. As Rangiuia admitted that Shaki was a great chief, D'Urville signalled him to come on board, and, after explaining to him that he had not been aware of his high birth, made him a few gifts. Soon they became the best of friends.

Shortly afterwards a tumult arose when another canoe, in which there were two old and more heavily tattooed chiefs, put in an appearance. Te Kani invited D'Urville to frighten them away; he even went so far as to demand a musket so that he might fire at them. When the newcomers accepted an invitation to go on board, however, Te Kani adopted a very modest demeanour towards them, offering them some large hatchets which he had received as gifts. Suddenly the elderly chiefs left the ship. When D'Urville sought an explanation he was told that Te Kani and his companions had given them to understand that they were to be slain!

According to Smith (supra, p. 172) Te Kani was “one of those great chiefs who seemed more like the arikis of Central Polynesia than were usually found in New Zealand.” Major Ropata Wahawaha claimed that “all the lines of Maori aristocratic descent converged in Te Kani; that he could trace his ancestors back to Maui-Potiki, and that his mana (authority) extended from Whangaparaoa to Mahia.” Polack (New Zealand: Travels and Adventures, vol. 2, pp. 125–6), who first met Te Kani at Tolaga Bay in June, 1835, describes him as noble in appearance, above 6 feet tall, and about 36 years old. He adds: “His handsome countenance was but little marked with the moko, and was garnished with a large, dark, bushy beard, which gave him the appearance of an Arab of Mocha.”

Sir Donald McLean, who met Te Kani in Poverty Bay in 1851, says, in his journal (Alexander Turnbull Library), that Te Kani frankly welcomed him.” although he was taken rather by surprise when I got up to him.” His only emblem of chieftainship was “a bone mere decorated with tapes of hair about the handle, which he waved carelessly about in his right hand as he rode on horseback.” McLean adds, inter alia: “He is a fine, nice-looking man, but not strikingly so—not nearly so much determination in his features as Te Hapuku possesses, nor even so much of page 464 the gentleman in appearance as Te Rawiri, a cousin of his at Turanganui—but, in reality, he is freely acknowledged by all the natives to be one of the greatest men on this side of the island.”

In an address at Gisborne in 1901, Joseph Goadley Baker (who was taken to Tolaga Bay by his parents in 1843) described Te Kani as “a man of princely appearance, tall and handsome, with curly, auburn hair and possessing all the qualities of one of Nature's gentlemen.” Te Kani, he said, was looked upon as sacred by his people, and, he could sway them by a word or a wave of the hand. He was a great friend of the Europeans, and put off all restraint whilst in their company. Although such a good friend to the missionaries, he never accepted Christianity, nor would he attend public worship. Mr. Baker added: “Unfortunately, he became addicted to strong drink, which brought him to an untimely end.”

It is stated by Smith (supra, pp. 171–2) that Te Kani took part in a battle which was fought on the banks of the Waipaoa River in 1820–21, when Ngapuhi, under Te Wera and Titore, and war parties of Waikato and Ngati-Maniapoto crushed Rongowhakaata and their allies. The slain included three of his brothers (or, perhaps, cousins), and he escaped only by jumping into a canoe and paddling for dear life to a pa at the mouth of the river. This engagement does not appear in E. F. Harris's list of battles fought in Poverty Bay, and no reference to it has been found in the Native Land Court minute books. Nor are any details available concerning a battle in Poverty Bay in which, according to Polack, Te Kani was taken prisoner, and, afterwards, “formed a serail from the families of his captors.”

Te Kani died on Paremata block (Tolaga Bay) in 1856 after a lingering illness. By stages his body was taken to Whangara. Some accounts state that the burial took, place, first of all, in the village, and that, subsequently, the remains were removed on to the island. However, Richard Leach, of Whangara, pointed out to the writer a clump of trees to the north-east of the village, which, he said, sheltered Te Kani's last resting place.

Cook's Te Ratu: “King of the Maoris”
Rival Poverty Bay Claimants to Descent

When Captain Cook reached Poverty Bay, he lost no time in setting on foot inquiries as to how the Maoris were governed. At each of the other groups of islands that he had visited in the Pacific he had found that the inhabitants were under a supreme ruler. Tupaea asked their three young native guests the name of their Ariki, or king. One of the lads—W. L. Williams said that it was Ikorangi—replied, “Te Ratu,” and pointed to the west (the locality in which they resided). Ikorangi might have thought that Tupaea wished to learn the name of the chief of their tribe. Cook took the answer to mean that a leader named Te Ratu was king of the whole land, and that he lived to the west of his anchorage.

On the day on which the Endeavour left Poverty Bay, Banks wrote in his journal: “This country is certainly divided into many small principalities …” Perhaps he had in mind the fact that their young native guests had told them that the natives who resided in the vicinity of Turanganui River were enemies of their tribe. Off Hawke's Bay he made a note that some natives with whom Tupaea conversed “answered his questions relating to the names of the country, kings, etc., very civilly.” When Mercury Bay was reached he made an entry stating that, from Cape Turnagain, the natives had acknowledged only one chief (Te Ratu), and added: “If his dominion is really so large, he may have princes, or page 465 governors, under him, capable of drawing together a vast number of people, for he himself is always said to live far inland.”

As a result of the inquiries that were made at Tolaga Bay, Cook wrote in his rough diary: “They have king who lives inland; his name is…. We heard of him in Poverty Bay.” At Mercury Bay, Cook found that the natives there “do not own subjection to Teeratie the Earadehi [Te Ratu, the ariki], but say that he would kill them was he to come among them.” Hawkesworth says that Cook regarded the Mercury Bay natives as outlaws in rebellion against Te Ratu. Some weeks later, on the run up from Cook Strait to Cape Turnagain, it was learned that the natives to the south of the latter point did not acknowledge Te Ratu as their king.

Nevertheless, the elusive Te Ratu remained in Cook's thoughts. Just before he sailed from New Zealand he wrote (Wharton's Captain Cook's Journal, pp. 220–1) that it was much to be regretted that they were obliged to leave the country without learning anything about him except his name. “Te Ratu,” he says, “was owned as chief by every one we met with from Cape Kidnappers to the northward and westward as far as the Bay of Plenty, which is a great extent of territories for an Indian Prince.” It was Cook's opinion that Te Ratu lived in the Bay of Plenty, and that outside his domain the natives “were very much divided into Parties which make war one with another …”

Polack (New Zealand: Travels and Adventures, vol. 1, p. 45) says that when he inquired from the chiefs of Poverty Bay and of Uwoua [Uawa] in 1835 about Te Ratu, “mentioning his name as having belonged to a great chief,” they laughed and told him that Te Kuki [Cook] knew nothing of the language at the time, or he would have early discovered that Te Ratu was not an ariki, but merely the first chief who was killed in Poverty Bay. [In strict fact, the first native to lose his life was named Te Maro.]

A very heated controversy as to which of two chiefs named Te Ratu who lived in Poverty Bay at or about the time of Cook's visit was Cook's Te Ratu raged in Pipiwharauroa in 1906. The writer who set the ball rolling [No. 104, November, 1906] said that there were many descendants of that Te Ratu in Poverty Bay. He described him as having been descended from Te Ikawhaingata (who married Hineuru, a granddaughter of Taupara, of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki tribe, and of Mangatu fame) and traced the line down to Pimia Aata (Euphemia Arthur). Naturally, the article was very warmly approved by Pimia and her relatives.

Strong exception to this claim was taken by Mrs. Kate Gannon (formerly Wyllie and née Halbert). She held that the more important Te Ratu was a descendant of Te Aringa-i-waho, and that this line followed down to Marara, wife of Hirini te Kani, and thence, in turn, to Heta te Kani and Mrs. P. Tureia. In order to distinguish between the two Te Ratus, it might be as well to describe Pimia's Te Ratu as Te Ratu (a) and the other as Te Ratu (b). Mrs. Gannon claimed that Te Ratu (b) lived on Titirangi (west end of Kaiti Hill), whereas Te Ratu (a) resided at Turanga (meaning, presumably, at the bottom of Poverty Bay). She also averred that Cook's informant had pointed to Titirangi pa and not to Turanga. [No pa was observed on Titirangi by Cook and his companions.]

Writing to The Gisborne Times (2 July, 1927), Dr. Wi Repa said:

Both Pimia Aata and Mrs. Gannon were capable and successful Native Land Court pleaders. Both, too, were recognised and acknowledged generally as high authorities in the lore and learning of their great tribe. They both belonged to the “blue blood” of that proud page 466 tribe, by virtue of which distinction they enjoyed and exercised the prerogative of mutual recrimination as rangatiras of equal standing would do—but all in a Pickwickian sense. Indeed, to such a degree of bitterness did the controversy go that the two principal pleaders, when they met on the open pavements of the Gisborne streets, and away from the pages of the “Pipi,” did not fail to remind the world of their high lineage by the free use that they made of expletives which a constable on his beat would not accept from a common pakeha roysterer.

In early manhood Te Ratu (a) suffered the indignity of being made a slave. Trouble arose over the fishing rights at the mouth of the Waipaoa River, and Tarake, of Ngati-Maru, slew Te Hukaipu, father of Te Ikawhaingata, of Ngati-Kaipoho. With the aid of Konohi, of Whangara, Ngati-Kaipoho drove Ngati-Maru from Tapatahi pa. As the slain on the Ngati-Maru side included Hikatoa, of Ngati-Porou, Ngati-Maru sent to Hunaara, of Waiapu, for help. Meantime, Konohi had returned home. In turn, Ngati-Maru and Ngati-Porou expelled Ngati-Kaipoho from Orakaiapu pa.

On account of a threat of reprisals, Ngati-Maru went off with Hunaara to Waiapu. Te Ratu (a) was among the Ngati-Kaipoho prisoners whom they took with them. During a quarrel over a woman between Ngati-Maru and Ngati-Porou, Tarake (the Ngati-Maru leader) lost his life. Ngati-Maru (now under Mokaiohungia) then set off on their journey home. At Uawa they were attacked by T'Aitanga-a-Hauiti, who slew Mokaiohungia, and, at Pakarae, another section of T'Aitanga-a-Hauiti beset them, and they lost Te Kaka, their new leader.

When the remnant reached Kaiti, Konohi negotiated with Te Ikawhaingata for their return to their former lands, which, in their absence, had been seized by Ngati-Kaipoho. It was, we are told, a sad home-coming for Ngati-Maru, whose once proud boast had been that they were “as numerous as the stars in the heavens.” Now, greatly reduced in numbers, they were prepared gladly to accept whatever Ngati-Kaipoho were willing to give them. To Ngati-Maru, Konohi said: “Pass on! Return to the kainga! Let the top fruit be for those who remained, and the under, or shaded, fruit for you!”

Meantime, Te Ratu (a) had been retained as a slave by Hunaara, whose home was at Kokai. His lot, it is stated, became one of abject misery. One of his most terrifying experiences was to have a large crayfish placed on his bare back. According to the story, it tore into his flesh, “cutting it to ribbons.” Taking pity on him, Te Whi-o-te-Rangi (a benevolent old chief) advised him, saying: “When you are sent for water, contrive to break the calabash, so that your master will beat you.” Te Ratu (a) did as he was advised, and Te Whi-o-te-Rangi not only protected him, but returned him to his own people.

According to Dr. Wi Repa (supra), very little is known about Te Ratu (b) beyond the existence of the name in the genealogies of the Rongowhakaata tribe. Te Kepa te Turuki (a grandson) was, however, a rangatira of considerable mana. Wi Repa went on to suggest that Te Ratu (a) would be well known in the Bay of Plenty on account of the fact that he had married Hinehoki, the highborn daughter of Hikawahia, a grandnephew of the famous Apanui, the progenitor of the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe, and that he would be equally well known in Hawke's Bay by virtue of the circumstance that some of his seven daughters had married chiefs belonging to Ngati-Kahungunu tribe. But even so (as Wi Repa added) the fact remained that Te Ratu (a) never made conquests in those districts, and he would not be acknowledged by their inhabitants as their ariki.

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Neither of the Te Ratus was a famous warrior, and neither held mana over a large area. Polack states that he learned in Poverty Bay in 1835 that the natives whom Cook met there had not been long resident in the district. They were described to him as strangers from the southward, who had destroyed many of its inhabitants only a few years prior to Cook's arrival. Sir James Carroll told the writer that he did not think Cook's informant had in mind a chief when he gave the reply which has been handed down as “Te Ratu.” Seemingly, the word ra (sun) had been used, but it was his opinion that the question had been misunderstood, that the reply given had reference to the fact that the sun was about to set, and that it was a mere coincidence if one or more chiefs bore the name “Te Ratu.” Lady Carroll, whom Mrs. Gannon claimed was descended from Te Ratu (b), was not aware that she was a descendant of any ancestor named Te Ratu.

The Poverty Bay-East Coast Tribes

The Maori leaders in Poverty Bay and on the East Coast are now engaged upon the task of elucidating (if possible) the problem concerning the identity of all of the canoes which, prior to the arrival of Horouta and Takitimu, brought migrants who settled in these parts. In each locality some information has been handed down, but, in a number of cases, the name of the canoe which brought pioneer ancestors from whom descent is claimed is not known for certain. It is of especial interest that Sir A. T. Ngata, who is to-day the foremost authority on the subject, is taking a prominent part in the investigations.

Moa Tradition Given to Father Baty in 1841

Huge tree trunks jutting out twenty feet below the level of the banks of the Wairoa River attracted the attention of Father Claude Baty whilst he was en route from Mahia to Lake Waikaremoana in December, 1841. His Maori companions told him that they frequently came across large bones whilst digging. They pointed to a spot (apparently Whakapunake) where, they said, “moas” were to be met with. “Moa,” he explained, could be translated into French by “immobiles.” They added that, in the hollow of a perpendicular rock, there dwelt a creature in human form with long hair. It lived upon the wind, and its cave was guarded by enormous serpents.—Extract from a letter (18 January, 1843) to Father Maitrepierre, of France.