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NEW ZEALAND. For the following article we are indebted to the North American Review, a publication which affords favourable specimens of American literature, and which we generally peruse with pleasure. The original article is principally drawn from Missionary documents, and is far too long for us to copy entire. We shall make it our endeavour, however, to allow nothing of importance to escape us.
In some points of view, the New Zealanders are among the most extraordinary people of whom we have any knowledge. No authentic record can be found of a people more thoroughly and shockingly savage; more fierce in their passions, more insatiate in their revenge, more blood-thirsty in their wars, or more inhuman in the treatment of enemies; at the same time, they are not less distinguished for the strength of their affections, their unshaken attachment to their relations, and their reverence for the memory of the dead. In their character, they resemble the other South Sea Islanders ; but they exhibit stronger contrasts, and have customs peculiar to themselves.
The climate of New Zealand is temperate, and adapted to almost every production of European growth ; but the natives cultivate scarcely any thing except sweet potatoes. These are produced in great abundance, and deposited for common use in public storehouses. Fern roots, wild celery, cresses, and a few other indigenous vegetables are used for food.
Fish in great variety, and of good quality, is abundant. The only quadrupeds which Captain Cook saw, were dogs and rats; but he left hogs on the island, which have since become numerous. Mr. Marsden carried over horned cattle and horses, sume of which were shot by the natives, because threy trespassed on tabbooed ground. The missionaries successfully cultivate wheat, other
grain, and many kinds of garden vegetables introduced from England.
The New Zealand men are tall, well formed and athletic, with a dark brown complexion, and black hair, which though commonly straight, is sometimes curled. The features of both sexes are regular, and some of the women are accounted beautiful. The dress of men and women is the same, consisting of two mats fashioned into garments, and worn one over the other. The under garment is made of the strong silky fibres of a spe. cies of grass, intermixed with dog's hair, and closely woven or matiéd together, and is thrown over the body.like a mantle. "The outer garment is much coarser and thicker; it is confined around the neck, and descends scarcely below the middle of the body, and is chiefly intended as a defence against the inclemency of the weather. The ears of the women, and frequently of the men, are perforated with large holes, having been pierced in infancy, and so distended as to receive bits of wood, feathers, bones, and the teeth of fishes, as ornaments. "They also wear suspended from the neck pieces of green talc, carved into grotesque shapes somewhat resembling the human figure. The men gather their hair into a bunch at the
of the head, and confine it there with combs of wood or of bone and adorn it with feathers; but the hair of the women either flows loosely over their shoulders, or is cut short. Neither men nor women use any covering for the head.
The houses or huts of the natives are small, built with a rough frame work of wood, covered and lined with grass firmly compacted, and sometimes with the bark of trees; they are seldom sufficiently elevated to admit a person to stand erect within them; and they have but one opening, which serves both as door and window, and is just large enough to allow a man to creep through it on his hands and knees.
The houses of the chiefs have commonly, a veranda or porch, which is fantastically ornamented with paintings, and carved work. Notwithstanding the rudeness of their dwellings, the want of better is scarcely
felt by the inhabitants, since it is customary with them to eat, sleep, and cook in the open air. They take their rest in a sit. ting posture, closely wrapped up in their mats.
: With respect to the Government of New Zealand, a feudaljurisdiction is exercised by the chiefs, but their authority is absolute only in times of war. Various gradations of power, and extent of possessions, pertain to different chiefs. Some hold large-tracts of land by hereditary right, and on these lands other inferior chiefs have possessions, and carry on their own cultivation; and manage their own affairs without any interference or controul of the head chief. The people at large are bound to no master; they go and come as they please, and are idle or industrious as moved by the wants of nature..
Over his own household, his family, domestics, and slaves, every man, as well among the lower ranks.as among the chiefs themselves, has absolute power ;-so far the feudal-system is perfect; but beyond. this, neither the theoretical por practical machinery of government seems to be any thing else, than a tacit understanding between the parties, that some shall.lead and others follow for mutual security, and better protection of personal rights and: property. In time of war, all the subordinate chiefs and wars riors throughout the territories of a head chief flock to his standard, and put themselves under his command.
The deepest trait, perhaps, in the New Zealand character; is a passion for war; to other employments they may be reluctantly brought by necessity; but to the din of battle, and the work of slaughter, they fly with an eager delight. Even those who have resided long in England, and become habituated to the customs of civilized life, lose none of this ferocity; their warlike propensities are revived the moment they again inbale their native atmosphere. Tooi, who had enjoyed these advantages, and when in England had exhibited an amiable temper and rapid improvement, was no sooner in the midst of his tribe again, than the spirit of the savage resumed its former empire in his mind. When reproved by the missionaries for his deeds
of blood, and reminded of his better knowledge, and eshorted to promote the happiness of his people by cultivating the arts of peace, his reply was, that it was impossible, “that if you told a New Zealander to work, he fell asleep; but if you spoke of fighting, he opened his eyes as wide as a teacup; that the whole bent of his mind was war; and that he looked upon fighting as fun.”
The kinds of offence, which are deemed adequate causes of war, are so numerous and varied, that it seems impossible for a state of things ever to occur, in which a settled peace can con. tinue for any length of time. The slaying of a chief in battle, or an insult offered to a tribe at any period within the remotest. verge of tradition, are considered just grounds of retaliation.
All the tribes have fortified posts, called Pahs, or Hippahs, situated at the top of an eminence difficult of ascent, as described in Cook's Voyages. But where muskets have been introduce ed, little confidence is put in these strong places. The war, like weapons, originally used by the natives, were the spear, mearee, and pattoo-patteo. The spear is long, sometimes more than twenty feet, and pointed at both ends; it is grasped in the middle, and managed by the con.batant with great agility and skill. The mearee is a kind of club made of stove, and worn. in the girdle; the pattoo pattoo is a sort of wooden battle-axe. Their enlarged intercourse with more civilized nations, however, has furnished ihem with more effective weapons of destruction. And it is worthy of remark, that since the introduction of fire-arms, wars have been more constant and bloody; the rage for killing has burned with greater fury, in proportion as the means of doing it ve increased.
Previously to entering on was the New Zealanders have their sense of injury quickened, and their souls roused to vene geance by the harangues of their orators. And immediately before engaging in battle, they work themselves up to a wild and furious frenzy by the war dance, which is common to all the tribes. The performers come together without régularity, jump from the ground with violent gestures, distort their coun.
tenances, and rend the air with savage yells; and in this state of frantic excitement they rush upon the enemy. The practices of the natives in war, are thus related by Mr. Marsden.
“In time of war, great honour is paid to the head of a warrior when killed in battle, if he is properly tattooed. His head is taken to the conqueror, and preserved, as the spoils of war, with res. pect,-- as a standard, when taken from a regiment is respected by the victor.
“It is gratifying to the vanquished to know, that the heads of their chiefs are preserved by the enemy; for when the conqueror wishes to make peace, he takes the heads of the chiefs along with him and exhibits them to their tribe. If the tribe are desirous of putting an end to the contest, they cry aloud at the sight of the heads of their chiefs, and all hostilities terminate ; this is a signal that the conqueror will grant them any terms they may require. But if the tribe are determinated to renew the contest, and risk the issue of another battle, they do not cry. Thus the head of a chief may be considered as the standard of the tribe to which he belongs, and a signal of peace or war.
“If the conqueror never intends to make peace he will dispose of the heads of those chiefs, whom he kills in battle, to ships, or to any person who will buy them. Sometimes they are purchased by the friends of the vanquished, and returned to their surviving res Jations, who hold them in the highest veneration, and indulge their natural feelings by reviewing, and weeping over them.
“When a chief is killed in regular battle, the victors cry aloud as soon as he falls, “ Throw us the man," if he falls within the line of his own party. If the party, whose chief is dead, are intimidated, they immediately comply with the command. As soon as the victim is received, his head is immediately cut off, and a proclamation issued for all the chiefs to attend, who belong to the victorious par, ty, to assist in performing the accustomed religious ceremony, in order to ascertain by augury, whether their god will prosper them in the present battle. If the priest, after performing the ceremony, says that their god is propitious, they are inspired with fresh cou. rage to attack the enemy; but if the priest returns an answer, that their god will not be propitious, they quit the field of battle in sul. len silence. The head, already in possession, is preserved for tho chief op whose account the war was undertaken, as a satisfaction