Object #1008239 from MS-Papers-0032-0243

6 pages written 19 Oct 1875 by Samuel Deighton in Waitangi

From: Inward letters - Samuel Deighton, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0243 (74 digitised items). 74 letters written from Wanganui, Wairoa and Chatham Islands, 1859-1873, and undated. Includes plan for a court house.

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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English (ATL)


Oct. 19/75.

My dear Sir,

As you expressed a wish the last time I saw you that I should write occasionally I have now done so - though I fear there is not much going on in this most lonely place that will interest you. I find the Natives as a rule a very quiet inofensive set not very hard working but still very much better off than their friends in New Zealand. they have most of them a few sheep and cattle and if they were a little more energetic would be far better off than they are at present, but as long as they have plenty of potatos fish and meat they dont seem to care about doing more than they can help. It really seems a sin to see such splendid land going to waste as it were. I dont think you have ever been here, but if you were ever so fortunate as to have a few spare days in the summer time to take a run down in the Steamer, you would be delighted beyond measure at the natural beauty of the place. The land in and near the bush is something wonderful I have see nothing like it in New Zealand, in some parts a rich black soil and in others a sort of red volcanic ash resembling clay but extremely rich the crops it produces are something marvellous - and as for pretty scenery I have never seen anything like it. Of course you see none of that grand bold scenery that you have in New Zealand it is here on a small scale. Small low bush consisting of Karaka, Matipo, Karamu, Ngaio, Ake Ake, and many more bearing the same names as those in N.Z. but very different in appearance, being very much thicker in foliage more regular in growth and of the most beautiful variety of colors, many of them bearing berries of bright yellow, blue and scarlet, but as I said before you ought to be here to fully apreciate the real natural beauty of the place. The only thing against it is the solitude. The climate is on the whole good instead of having as you have in N.Z. frosty weather in winter we have here cold S. Westerly winds and drizzling rain - the winter being on the whole much milder, although of course unpleasant owing to the rain - and with all these disadvantages extremely healthy. I cannot say what the summer is but the spring weather is most delightful and every body here tells me that the summer is much better. You never feel here that depressing languor in warm weather, as whichever way the wind blows it is always pleasant and cool. I only wish we had a few Scandinavians here if such a thing were possible, it would a paradise for them good land easy tillage - fish in abundance and fine quality, and a genial climate. I cannot speak too highly of the natural advantages of the Chathams. I have not yet had an opportunity of going over to Pitts Island, but they say it is much prettier than this, being more hilly and a greater variety of scenery. The most astonishing thing is the way animals of all sorts thrive. You see sheep feeding upon the most desolate looking peac swamps with apparently nothing but stunted rushes growing on them, literally rolling in fat. They feed upon the open ground (''clears'' as they are called here) in the fine weather and in windy or rainy weather they all make for shelter in the bush where they find an abundance of food in the fuller leaves and young shrubs. I have never eaten finer or better mutton. The wool is also good. The breed they have is a cross between Romney Marsh and Merino, the former preponderating - fleeces averaging about 7 lbs. wethers and perhaps 5 or 6 ewes. The horses are also owing to the bracing climate I suppose of a strong and hardy description, and will get over 40 miles a day over heavy country with the greatest ease, corn is never heard of. I don't suppose there are six horses on the island who have ever tasted it and how they do they work they do, I cannot understand. Cattle are equally fine as to condition, but we dadly want a change of breed. The Maoris have still some very nice pieces of land unlet but I am inclined to think they are are unwilling at present to part with them, but I fancy they will before very long emigrate to N.Z. they dont like solitude any more than Europeans do. The Moriores might be very comfortable and well off if they wanted, but they are a very inferior race to the Maoris having deteriorated very much since their arriving here. That they were originally Maoris I have not a shadow of doubt their language would prove it if nothing else - their traditions and waiatas are very similar. I shall not however say much on this subject yet till I have got a little more knowledge of their language than I have at present. I am getting on well with the vocabulary, having up to the present time about fifty folios foolscap. I find the Moriori ''Tapu'' a very intelligent man and have got a good deal of miscellaneous information from him which I shall put into proper form in any time. I cant say that I have much of a liking for the Morioris although I feel sorry for their miserable fate, they are a lazy race very deceitful in small petty ways, extremely dirty and very untruthful, they have some good qualities as for instance they are hospitable and polite, and very harmless. It is a great mistake to think that they were butchered in the quantities we were led to believe, there were from what I can make out not much more than a hundred killed alltogether, and they an a great measure brought vengeance upon themselves (but more of this on a future occasion when my book is completed). The small remnait is gradually dying out, why I cannot understand, they are bodily a strong stout healthy looking people but they have few children, and the few they have seldom reach maturity. The invasion of the Maoris appears to have had a parylizing effect upon them from which they have never recovered. I have given you a Moriori letter with the corresponding Maori you will observe a great similarity between the two. Their pronunciation is however very peculiar, something of the peculiar clipping abrupt way you will find among the natives of the Southern Island of N.Z. Again there are many words similar to those used on the East coast Northern Island. The letter I have sent refers to an unfortunate old Moriori of the name of Aroua, his house was unfortunately burnt down and he lost a good many articles of clothing etc, if you could authorize me to make him a small donation it would be very acceptable to the poor old man - he is one of those who are assisting me with the vocabulary.

I have also sent you a letter recd. by Mr. A. Shand for a Taranaki Native. It shows I think that the Maoris here had something on their minds (having been instigated to it by Toenga), but of course nothing like what these foolish people here imagined. I thought you would like to s e the letter as it is rather a curiosity in its way. As I remarked before there is nothing of much interest to you to write about, and fanny that most of the few remaining Natives will before long emigrate to New Zealand, not that I think they will better themselves by so doing however.

There were about a dozen rifles served out to the settlers here (at the time of the alarm) but they were restricted from using them. I should feel obliged if you would allow them to use them for practice purpose of course paying for their own ammunition; there are two kegs here which I might serve out upon their paying for the same. The rifles would be none the worse for using as the owners would be more inclined to keep them in good order. I suppose you could not persuade McLeod to let me have a small boat, I wrote to him on the subject, but whether he is going to give me one or not I dont know as he did not answer my letter, a small one could be built here for £10. I have been obliged to lay by the Moriori Vocabulary for a short time as the Natives are all at work just now shearing.

Hoping to hear from you when convenient, and trusting my long letter has not wearied you,

I am, My dear Sir, faithfully yours,
S. Deighton.

Part of:
Inward letters - Samuel Deighton, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0243 (74 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)

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