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

Cordial Reception at Anaura Bay

Cordial Reception at Anaura Bay

As soon as the anchor was dropped, two natives “who from their Garbe appear'd to be Chiefs,” came alongside in their canoe and at once accepted an invitation to go on board. Both of them were old men. “One of them,” Banks says, “was dressed in a Jacket ornamented with dogs' skin, and the other in one almost covered with small tufts of red feathers.” Cook states that he gave to each “about 4 yards of Linnen and a spike nail.” They were, we are told, very pleased with the linen, but appeared to set no value on the nails. “We perceived,” he adds, “that they knew what had happen'd at Poverty Bay and we had, therefore, no reason to doubt but that they would behave peaceably.” It is, however, highly likely that the marked cordiality with which the voyagers were received at Anaura Bay, compared with their unhappy experiences in Poverty Bay, was due to the fact that they did not land at the former place until after they had made friends with the local chiefs.

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After dinner, “between 1 and 2 p.m.,” Cook and a party put off with the boats, “manned and armed,” to look for fresh water. The two chiefs accompanied them. “We row'd almost round the bay,” Banks remarks, “but found so much surf everywhere that we were forced to return on board.” The chiefs called out to some of their people to bring out a canoe to fetch them. Upon leaving, they promised to return in the morning with some fish and sweet potatoes.

Towards evening, Cook, with others, went ashore and found two small streams [the Hawai and the Waitahoata]. They were received with every sign of friendliness by the natives, who, according to Banks, “seemed carefull of giving us umbrage by collecting in too great bodies.” Banks adds: “Each family, or the inhabitants of two or three houses … collected in a body of 15 or 20 men, women and children. They sat on the ground and beckoned with one hand towards the breast.” After making some gifts, Cook and his companions walked round the bay and decided upon a watering-place, where, Banks says, “the people are to land to-morrow and fill some at least of our empty casks.” Native tradition states that the water was procured from the Hawai stream.

Next morning (22 October), Lieutenant Gore was sent on shore with a strong party of men to superintend the watering, and the carpenter and his crew were landed to cut wood. On account of the heavy surf, it was noon before the first load reached the vessel. Banks points out that, although the natives seemed pleased with their trading gains, and watched with interest the waterers at work, they did not neglect their ordinary occupations. Several canoes went out fishing, and, at dinner time, all the natives went to their respective houses.

“Such fair appearances,” he continues, “made Dr. Solander and myself almost trust them. We ranged all about the bay, and were well repaid by finding many plants and by shooting some most beautiful birds. We visited several houses and saw a little of their customs, for they were not at all shy of shewing us anything we desired to see. Nor did they on our account interrupt their meals, the only employment we saw them engaged in.
“Their food … consisted of fish, with which, instead of bread, they eat the roots of a kind of fern very like that which grows on our commons in England…. Yet, in the proper season, they certainly have plenty of excellent vegetables. We have seen no sign of tame animals except Dogs very small and ugly….
“When we went to their houses, Men, Women and Children received us; no one shewed the least sign of fear. The Women were plain and made themselves more so by painting their faces with red ochre and Oil, which generally was fresh and wet upon their cheeks and foreheads, easily transferable to the noses of anyone who should attempt to kiss them, not as they seemed to have any objection to such page 49 familiarities, as the noses of several of our People evidently shew'd; but they were as great coquets as any Europeans could be and the young ones as skittish as unbroken fillies.
“One part of their dress I cannot omit to mention: besides their cloth which was very decently rolled round them, each wore round the lower part of her waist a string made of the leaves of a highly-perfumed grass. To this was fastened a small bunch of the leaves of some fragrant plant, which served as the innermost veil of their modesty. Tho the Men did not so frequently use paint upon their faces, yet they often did. One especially I observed whose Body and Garments were rubbed over with Dry ochre and of this he constantly kept a piece in his hand and generally rubb'd it on some part or other of him.
“One piece of cleanliness in these people I cannot omit, as I believe it is almost unexampled among Indians. Every house or small knot of 3 or 4 houses has a regular necessary House where everyone repairs and, consequently, the neighbourhood is kept clean, which was by no means the case at Otaheite [Tahiti]. They have also a regular Dunghill upon which all their offals of food, etc., are heaped up and which probably they use for manure.

Banks narrates an amusing experience which befell his party. As the boats were being used to carry water, and it seemed likely that its members might be left on shore until after dark, a passage to the ship was obtained on a canoe. Not being used to “so ticklish a conveyance,” they upset her in the surf, and “were very well sous'd.” Four were then obliged to remain behind for a second trip, whilst Solander, Tupaea, Tayeto and Banks made the initial journey, “well pleased with the behaviour of our Indian friends, who would the second time undertake to carry off such clumsy fellows.”

Both on board the ship and on shore, the natives regaled the visitors with stirring dances. “Some of them,” Parkinson writes, “were very curiously tatoed. One old man was marked on the breast with a large volute and other figures. The natives … behaved with great civility, and, at night, began to heivo and dance in their manner, which was very uncouth. Nothing could be more droll than to see old men with grey beards assuming every antic posture imaginable, rolling their eyes about, lolling out their tongues and, in short, working themselves up to a sort of frenzy.”

As the heavy surf made the task of obtaining water tedious, Cook put to sea at 5 o'clock next morning (23 October, civil date). His stay at Anaura had lasted two days, all but six hours. Apart from some fish and plenty of “wild Sellery,” the visitors had been able to procure only “10 or 15 pounds of sweet potatoes,” the new crop not being ready. Sail was made in a N.E. direction for four leagues [almost up to Open Bay], and then Cook tacked and stood off and on all night. On the following morning, the ship page 50 again came abreast of Anaura Bay, being about a league off shore. Upon the advice of some natives, who came out at about 8 o'clock, Cook steered for Tolaga Bay, where, he was led to understand, plenty of fresh water might easily be obtained. Two boats, “manned and armed,” were sent on ahead. They returned at noon with confirmation of the report.

The Endeavour anchored within one mile of Cook's Cove. Tolaga Bay is described by Cook in these words: “Close to the north end of this island [Pourewa Island] at the Entrance into the Bay are two high Rocks: one is high and round like a corn stack, but the other is long with holes thru' it like the Arches of a Bridge.” Soon after the ship had been moored, Cook, with Banks and Solander, went on shore. “I found the Water good,” Cook says, “and the Place pretty Convenient and plenty of Wood close to High Water Mark, and the Natives to all appearances not only very friendly but ready to Traffic with us for what little they had.”