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First European contact

First Foreign contact

6.2 First European contact

Although we have theories about ties to India and to Peru and South America this only covers indigenous expansion into the pacific, it does not explain European expansion into the pacific or which Europeans went on to discover New Zealand.

It is generally accepted that the first European to see this country was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman then an English Captain, James Cook. Ross Wiseman claims some of the first Europeans to discover New Zealand were the Spanish, which is feasible as this part of the world was under the Spanish sphere of influence. He highlights evidence such as an Iron Helmet that was dredged up in the Wellington harbour, about 1888, and maps made by Juan Fernandez in 1576 and by Hernando de Solis in 1598. Wiseman backs up his Spanish theory with a witness account from a Māori chief called Mohi Turei, and another account from a Māori chief Tairoa in 1777 to James Cook. (Wiseman, 1998, pp. 7-20)

Ross Wiseman also places forth another piece of evidence in the form of the Dauphin map, which was drawn by French cartographers and presented to the prince of France in 1536. He writes of Mendonca exploring the east coast of Australia and New Zealand, and of the Tamil bell found by Colenso, which he says, belonged to the explorer Mukiayaten from the late Tamil period in 1170. He discusses “Korotangi” the stone bird brought by Tainui descendants on their voyage to Aotearoa giving evidence of the green serpentine it was made from as coming from either Indonesia or China. Wiseman further explains that the green serpentine rock originates only on the island of Sulawesi between Borneo and New Guinea. Wiseman identifies possible theories of Arab and Phoenician

exploration and even studies the expansion into the Pacific of the Polynesian rat to support his theories (Wiseman, 1998, pp. 83-333).

Figure 11: Korotangi (Manu discussed by Wiseman) fig 39 from Wiseman, Ross. Pre Tasman explorers (Discovery press, Auckland, 1998) p.193.

The author does not discount the possibility that some Europeans could have landed here earlier than Abel Tasman or James Cook, as in Tauranga there is korero about Spanish explorers, and there is also supporting evidence of the Urukehu peoples. In a pre-european battle for Mauao (Mount Maunganui), the Ngāi Te Rangi chief Kotorerua who led the assault was said to have long red hair and green eyes, and there are numerous examples of blond Māori in Tauranga, but the evidence is not strong enough to point to clear migration and establishment as there is with Māori. Researchers continue to seek evidence of Europeans

shipwrecked here and possibly assimilated into the Toi peoples, which may explain the fair features of some pre-european ancestors. There is presently no such conclusive evidence, so we must stay with what has been established. The first verifiable within New Zealand is Abel Tasman in 1642. The next contact was made by Captain James Cook in the ship Endeavour who made landfall in Turanganui (which he called Poverty Bay) in October 1769. Cooks first contact with Māori led to several Māori being killed and wounded. Cook sailed south to Cape Turn-again and then retraced his steps north, visited Tolaga Bay, rounded East Cape and sailed across the Bay of Plenty to the Coromandel Peninsular.

While there, the scientist on the expedition studied the transit of the planet Mercury, and Cook called the bay Mercury Bay. Cook subsequently circumnavigated New Zealand.

Figure 12: Captain James Cook (Robson, 2004, p. 65) The Captain Cook Encyclopaedia, Random House, New Zealand, 2004)

Figure 13: Replica of Endeavour, Riddle p.2.

This extract from Thames and the Coromandel Peninsula 2000 years by Williams and Williams gives a brief insight to the visit of Cook, to the Mercury Bay: Māori from Moehau and Whitianga who had gathered on shore originally mistook the

travellers as Turehu and fled into the forests. Later, after a night attack was driven back, Māori ventured closer and began trading. Cook stayed in the area to observe the transit of Mercury and after exploring the bay in two small boats, he found a large fortified village above the bay. Cook retreated to his ship and moved further out to sea after two Waka Taua (war canoes) approached the ship. He then returned and on Sunday 5 November, Māori visited him under the leadership of a chief called Toiawa, which eased tensions. Cook used Tupaea, a Tahitian he had brought on his voyage, to help translate. Tupaia was an arii and priest from Raiatea in the Society Islands. Soon after the Endeavour reached Tahiti, Tupaia came on board and was a frequent visitor thereafter during the ship’s stay in Matavai Bay. When Cook sailed from Tahiti, Tupaia accompanied him at the instigation of Banks. In New Zealand Tupaia proved invaluable as an interpreter.

Tupaia fell ill shortly before the Endeavour reached Batavia, where he died on 20 December 1770, six days before Cook sailed for England. Tupaia’s principal contribution to the voyage was a chart, which he drew of the Society Islands on which he named 74 Islands. Tupaia’s original chart is gone, but a copy drawn by Cook and once owned by Banks has survived. (Cooks Journals I, pp.291-294, Beaglehole, J.C., 1955)

Cook asked Toiawa to sketch an outline of the coast, which he copied onto paper;

in return, he gave Toiawa potatoes. The next morning other waka visited the ship to trade, and fighting broke out. Cook’s men fired over the new visitor’s heads and shot one of the new visitors when tension arose. After awhile tensions eased again, and trading began once more.

Captain Cook cleaned his ship the Endeavour and on 12 November 1769 was invited to inspect the two great paa overlooking the bay. They were called Wharekaho and Wharetaewa. He noted the huge trees in the area, and considered these suitable for shipbuilding. Cook left on 15 November 1769 he revisited the first watering place they had visited and named it Cook’s Beach (Williams, 1994, pp. 33-37).

Cook’s description of “Wharretouwa” (Wharetaewa) is as follows:

This village is built on a high promontory or point on the north side and near the head of the bay. It is in some places quite inaccessible to man and in others very difficult except on that side which faced the narrow ridge of the hill on which it stands, here it is defended by a double ditch a bank and two rows of picketing. The inner row upon the bank but not near the crown but what there was good room for men to walk and handle their arms between the picketing and the inner ditch. The outer picketing was between the two ditches and laid sloping with their upper ends hanging over the inner ditch. The depth of this ditch from the bottom of the crown of the bank was 24 feet. Close within the inner picketing was erected by strong posts a stage 30 feet high and 40 feet in length and 6 feet broad, the use of this stage was to stand upon and throw darts at the assailants, and a number of darts lay upon it for that purpose.

Figure 14: Wharetaewa pā (Williams & Williams, 1994, p. 40)

At right angles to this stage and a few paces from it was another of the same construction and bigness this stood likewise within the picketing and was intended for the same use as the other. To stand upon and throw stones and darts upon the enemy as they advanced up the side of the hill where lay the main way into the place. It likewise might be intended to defend some little outworks and huts that lay at the skirt and on this side of the hill. These outworks were not intended as advanced posts but for such of the inhabitants to live in as had not room in the main work but had taken shelter in it, besides the works on the land side above described the whole village was pallisaded round with a line of pretty strong picketing run around the edge of the hill. The ground within having not been level at first but laid sloping they had divided it into little squares and levelled

each roof these. These squares lay in the form of an amphitheatre and were each of them pallisaded round and had a communication one with another by narrow lanes or little gateways which could easily be stopped up. So that if any enemy had forced the outer picketing he had several others to encounter before the place could be wholly reduced, supposing them to defend every one of the places one after another. The main way leading up to this fortification was up a very steep part of the hill and through a narrow passage about 12 feet long, and under one of the stages; I saw no door or gate but it might very soon have been barricaded up. Upon the whole, I looked on it to be a very strong and well-chosen post and where a small number of resolute men might defend themselves a long time against a vast superior force armed in the manner as these people are.

There seemed to be prepared against a siege having laid up in store an immense quantity of fern roots and a good many dried fish. We did not see that they had any fresh water nearer the brook which runs close under the foot of the hill, from which I suppose they can at times get water though besieged, and keep it in gourds until they use it (Riddle, 1996, pp.38-39)

Figure 15: Wharetaewa pa looking south over Mercury Bay: as it is today (Williams & Williams, 1994, p. 45)

Cook once again noted the abundance of huge trees in the area, recognising a ready supply of timber suitable for shipbuilding (Williams, 1994, pp.36-37).

From the Māori perspective, Te Horeta Te Taniwha, a young man at the time of Cook’s visit, recalled the first encounter with Europeans. He recorded:

“But as the goblins stayed some time and did not do any evil to our braves we came back one by one and gazed at them and we stroked their garments with our hands and we were pleased with the whiteness of their

skins and the blue of the eyes of some of them. They collected grasses from the cliffs and kept knocking at the stones on the beach, and we said

‘why are these acts done by these goblins. The woman and we gathered stones, grass of all sorts, and gave these to the goblins. Some of the stones they liked and put them into their bags, the rest they threw away; and when we gave them the grass and branches of the trees, they stood and talked to us, or they uttered words of their language”.

Te Horeta further recalled: “Perhaps they were asking questions and as we did not know their language, we laughed and these goblins also laughed, so we were pleased... We were now at quiet and peace with them and they gave us some food they had brought on shore with them, some of this food was very hard but it was sweet, some of our old people said it was Pungapunga, Pumice stone from the land from which these goblins came.

Te Horeta also recalled “there was one supreme man in that ship, we knew that he was the lord of the whole by his perfect gentlemanly and noble demeanour. He seldom spoke but some of the goblins spoke much. But this man did not utter many words; all that he did was to handle the mats and hold our mere, spears and waha ika and touch the hair of our heads .He was a very good man, came to us children, patted our cheeks, and gently touched our heads. His language was a hissing sound and the words he spoke were not understood by us in the least” (Riddle, 1996, pp. 34-35)

The visit that Horeta Te Taniwha was most likely discussing was most likely between Saturday 4 November 1769 to Monday 20 November as Cook was still in

the Area of Mercury Bay. (Beaglehole, 1955, pp.191-206). Te Horeta te Taniwha was to become a leading chief of Ngāti Whānaunga.

Figure 16: Horeta Te Taniwha of Ngāti Whānaunga (Royal, 2000, p. 161) from Godfried Lindauer, oil on canvas, Auckland art gallery.

Figure 17: Te O a Hei (Royal, 2000, p. 164), Te O a Hei was one of the points of call of Captain Cook

Figure 18: Map of Hauraki (Royal, 2000, p. 249) Map 6 This Map highlights Mercury Bay which Cook named after studing the transit of Mercury he stopped at many places in this aera

Figure 19: HMS Endeavour anchored out from Flax mill Bay, Mercury Bay (Riddle, 1996, introductory plates)

Cook’s accounts of his expeditions were widely-read, and his reports of timber resources in New Zealand, including the Mercury Bay district led to many other ships arriving in search of timber and flax. An early example of this was the Royal Admiral, which stayed in the area for two months in 1801 before leaving with a full cargo. The Fancy, another ship, took spars for the Indian navy: the 200 logs loaded on to this ship measured 60-140 feet in length, and the whole running rigging of the ship was replaced with ropes woven from flax. Another visiting vessel, the Plumier, had to have its bow opened to accommodate the huge logs

from the area. The Hunter lost some crew who stayed on with the Māori of the area. Kauri from the hills east of the firth and around Mercury Bay was adorning many of the ships of the British naval fleet, the sheer size of the tall masts, long arms, the yards, from New Zealand gave the British Commander Nelson, a sailing advantage over the enemy fleets at the battle of Trafalgar. The logs were highly prized and with the flax proved a good source of trade with Māori for cloth, trinkets, and muskets. (William, 1994, pp. 41-43)

The demand for timber from Mercury Bay led to land purchases and a stone wharf being built at what is now known as Ferry Landing. Gordon Davis Brown, who built the wharf, established himself on the east side of the harbour entrance, and began milling the timber in the area not long after he built the wharf in 1836-1837. (Riddle, 1996, pp.54-55)

Later, as timber felling and milling was to become more intensive, it would lead to the author’s family being affected, hence, eventually, one the reason for a Treaty claim to be lodged. The amount of timber taken from one of the land blocks which the Wai 969 claimants have under claim has been calculated: “The Kapowai area was not only one of the last sections of the Kauri to be felled prior to World War one, but was also by far the largest in the whole of the Mercury Bay watershed, yielding an estimation of over 260 million feet of timber”.

The main contractor for the Kauri Timber Company, who owned most of the area, was David Castles. He employed several sub-contractors, including Bert Collins, Walker and Partner, Dodger Morrison and David Lynch, Keene and Murray, Sep and Fred Norton. (Riddle, 1996, pp76-77)

Extracting a large amount of timber and transporting the logs to the mills changed the face of the landscape, as the accompanying photographs indicate.

Figure 20: Kapowai Dam (Riddle, 1996, pp. 64-65)

This photograph was taken on the Whānau land block called Te Kapowai, it was a spill dam built especially for the purpose of transporting Kauri logs downriver to the Kauri Timber Company. The next photo actually shows the log after the dam has been spilt, and the final photo shows the Timber Mill where the logs were sent to.

Figure 21: Log drive (Riddle, 1996, pp. 74-75)

Figure 22: Mercury Bay Kauri Timber Company Mill, Tairua 1886 (Riddle, 1996, p. 93)

Even though the author’s whānau lost much of the land through the timber trade a few individuals did manage to make a living out of the demand for this commodity, such as the whānau member in the next Photograph.

Figure 23: Packer and Blacksmith (Riddle, 1996, p. 80)

Johnny (Henry) Aparahama, one of the author’s whānau: He would supply the bush camps with food, and at times was employed as a blacksmith.

An industry that was related to timber milling industry was gum digging. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in Aotearoa, Māori had used this commodity as a pigment in tattooing and also used the fresh gum for chewing. Other uses included burning the gum in the communal kumara pits to kill caterpillars. John Logan Campbell and Gordon Browne who sent it to London on a trial basis made the first export of 130 tonnes of Kauri gum. It sold for five to eight pounds per tonne, and proved suitable in the preparation of varnish. In 1846 alone, 1,440 tonnes were exported; the average price received was 13 pounds per ton. By the turn of the twentieth century, more than ten thousand tons was being exported each year, fetching up to eighty pounds per tonne. Between 1850 and 1950 revenue received from gum digging yielded more than 25 million pounds. 10,000 tonnes of gum

went through Gumtown in 1882, and it has been estimated that between over a period of 50 years, up until 1914, 100,000 tons of gum went through GumTown.

(Riddle, 1996, p. 97)

Figure 24: Gum town 1900 (Riddle, 1996, pp. 98-99)

Gumtown from the Junctions of the Oteao and Waiwawa rivers, these are two of the Boundary Rivers discussed by the author within the whānau claim.

Figure 25: Whitianga waterfront 1890 (Riddle, 1996, pp. 98-99)

This photo highlights the amounts of Kauri gum exported from the Mercury Bay area: The bags to the left are full of Kauri gum.

Flax was another commodity taken from the area, the first flax mill in the Mercury bay area was at Whangamaroro in 1866. In 1869, another mill was established by William Meikle in what is now known as Lyon Park, after a fire burnt the surrounding crop he moved to Whenuakite in 1872 after purchasing 650 acres of land at ten shillings an acre. By 1873, he had built a new mill, which lasted 17 years before he sold the mill and the property to Miss Bewicke, an English woman, who sold it in 1898 to William Hamilton. Flax reached up to 90 pounds a ton during the boom years, 1866-1873 then it dropped in price, as

English traders turned to Indian hemp, as that product was nearer and therefore less costly to transport. When the flax price had declined to 14 pounds a ton, the product became uneconomical and Hamilton closed down his mill. (Riddle, 1996, pp. 152-153).

Figure 26: Flax Mill (Riddle, 1996, p. 152)

Flaxmill (Maramaratotara) Bay, the flax industry boomed in the Mercury Bay area, these are an example of the flax collected for export.

Figure 27: Dalmeny House (Riddle, 1996, p. 153)

Dalmeny House, in Whenuakite, reclining in the front seat to the left is Miss Bewicke the Englishwoman that brought a Flaxmill from William Meikle in 1890, and later sold it to William Hamilton in 1898.

The next commodity to be extracted from Mercury Bay was gold. On 9 April 1898, an assay yielded 11 and three quarter ounces of gold and two and a half ounces of silver to the ton, valued at 47 pounds. The prospectors, Allan McIssacs and William Meikle, were working in the hills south of Gumtown and discovered a trail of gold. This led to a reef three inches thick. In the latter half of 1899, the Kauri Timber Company opened the area up for mining after restricting access earlier in the year. Prospectors Kenny and Murphy moved into the abandoned Claim of Mr F.W. Browne and on 25 October 1898, Kenny and Murphy were paid 263 pounds for 131 ounces of gold from two-and-a-half tons of crushed quartz. There was also a large quantity of silver present. This began the Welcome