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Letters from New Zealand 1857-1911


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Christchurch, New Zealand, Nov. 4th, 1857.

My dear St. John,

As a preliminary to his visitation of the Diocese southward, the Bishop decided to spend some time on Banks' Peninsula, where several settlers have made their homes. As it is a mass of hills, mostly forest-clad, traversed only by bridle tracks, it was arranged that the expedition should be on foot, our party consisting of the Bishop, the Archdeacon of Christchurch, a ponderous man, who prided himself on being able to walk with anyone on the flat, myself, and a Maori guide, Horomona, Anglicé, Solomon.

Our first day's tramp, after leaving Lyttelton, led us round the head of the harbour to a dairy and cattle station, where we spent the night, the Bishop holding service for all hands, and thence across a low saddle to the sea-beach, and after some miles of that, to a stream flowing out of a very picturesque lake, near which we found a Maori village, situated, as most of these settlements are, where wood and water are at hand.

On the way I had much interesting talk with Horomona, a fine specimen of Christian native manhood, one of Bishop Selwyn's converts in the North Island and, like most natives, one of nature's gentlemen, page 30able to speak some English, and in Maori fashion full of quaint metaphor, and shrewd criticism of the "Pakeha," i.e. the white man, and his ways. "Horomona, you know Pihopa Herewini?" i.e. Bishop Selwyn. "Yes, me know him, travel with him long way in North Island, walking, same as now." Well, what you think of Pihopa Harper? He like Pihopa Herewini?" He paused, then plucked a long bit of tussock grass, bent it up and down zig-zag fashion; "You see this? road in North Island all same as this, all same our road here; Pihopa Herewini, he say in morning, when we start, 'Horomona, come on! He walk off so, arms like this, fast, fast! then two hours, put hand to face, sit down, get up, go on, sit down again. Pihopa Harper, he say in morning, 'Now, Horomona, we will come on.' He go on, go on,—so,—no fast,—so, so, all day, no sit down." This was a Maori estimate of the temperament of the two men.

As we neared the Pah, which in Maori tongue is "Kaituna," the place where "Eels are good for food," it was late evening, and the Maori women, as their wont is, came out to welcome the Bishop, waving their hands, squatting down, rising, coming forward a few yards, squatting again, rising, and crying out, "Hæremai, Hæremai," welcome, welcome! and so gradually approached us, then turning to guide us to their village. Their houses here are built of stalks and flax sticks, bound together with vines, lined inside with toi reeds, dyed in patterns of black and white and red; the walls very low, and the entrance door so low that the Archdeacon declared he could never crawl in through it.

Before entering we went to the bank of the stream page 31to perform our ablutions, and refresh ourselves after the toil and dust of the long march. Some of the natives did the same, with a sort of conscious pride producing soap and combs for their hair, one dandy exhibiting a small bottle of scent. Near the houses were cows and pigs. We were then invited to enter the principal house, some forty feet in length, and of good width, all of it consisting of one room only. The floor was laid in places with flax-woven mats, on the hardened clay, intended for us, and used also by themselves, as in ordinary they never use chairs or tables, but squat on the ground for their meals, and for rest and talk. A plentiful repast was provided, of a kind,—boiled pork, steamed potatoes, no bread, or salt or mustard; biscuits, no tea, but plenty of hot milk. With native courtesy, when the women had brought in the food, the men with them all left the house, to allow the Pakeha to eat by themselves, recognizing that their guests were "Rangitiras," i.e. men of birth and rank, and treating us as they would treat their own chiefs and principal men,—in this respect Maori etiquette is strong, as between father and son, and persons of rank and others. Presently some came in to know whether we had finished our meal, and then the room was made ready for a service.

It is their custom, in all their meetings, whether for ordinary discussion, of which they are fond, of matters which are of general interest to the community, or for religious service, to sit on the ground on mats, leaving a clear space in the centre of the room for the speakers to stand, and now and then walk about whilst addressing the audience. So, with the Bishop, we stood during the service. He used English, which they understand fairly well, in his sermon, whilst the page 32prayers were read by a lay-reader, who used the Prayerbook, which has been admirably translated into Maori by Archdeacon Maunsell, of Auckland, one of the early missionaries, the natives taking up the responses with harmonious voice, all together in perfect rhythm and time. After service, thinking I might get Horomona's honest opinion of what they thought of the Bishop's utterance, I carefully led up to the subject, as one must do in order to meet their dignified and delicate way of expressing an opinion, and also engaged Ihaia (Isaiah), one of their principal men, in the conversation. "Yes," he said, "they understand; they glad Pihopa come; they think he speak well; they think him very good, but—you see those rafters across the top of walls? Pihopa look up at them all the time, no look at Maories on the floor; Maories should sit up there." The fact is that they are born orators, quite free from any mauvaise honte, and cannot understand why a speaker does not eye them, whereas the Bishop in his first essay to preach to natives was naturally shy. Maori humour in its criticism of men and manners is delightful in its complete unconsciousness of itself.

Then came bed-time. The end of the long, un-partitioned "whare," or house, was furnished with a low platform of flax sticks, on which mats and blankets were spread, forming a bed intended to accommodate a dozen sleepers. The Bishop and Archdeacon were conducted to small huts to sleep by themselves, whilst I was invited to a share in the general bed. Some made shakedowns for themselves on the floor, whilst the rest took to the platform, leaving me a corner place, and then, after much deliberation, out of a mark, as I suppose, of respect to page 33their guest, they all lay down, in the reverse position to mine, their feet level with my head! In the morning at breakfast we exchanged experiences as to the night's rest, and the Archdeacon declared that for a long time he couldn't make out what was wrong with his pillow, which would not keep still, until he discovered that it was a bag full of live eels!

We bade our hosts farewell with many kindly salutations and tokens of goodwill from men, women and children, and to save us a long tramp, they offered us a canoe, with a crew, to convey us to the head of the lake. It was a long and cranky looking craft, the lower part of it having been dug out of a pine log, without keel, its side formed of slight timber, knitted together with fastenings of wood. It was crossed at intervals with bars, against which you kneel and paddle, with places for eight men, and in the stern just room for one or two sitters, and a place for the steersman. The Archdeacon refused to trust himself to such a flimsy vessel, and went on foot with some natives by the edge of the lake, whilst the Bishop took his seat in the stern, and I wielded a paddle, Horomona steering with a long paddle, and setting the time of the stroke for the crew, with a Maori chant. We paddled along gaily in smooth bright water, coasting by headlands and picturesque bays, wooded to the water's edge, and, leaving the canoe at the head of the lake, made our way, through thick underwood, over a pass which opened out a grand view of Akaroa Harbour—Anglicé, "The Long Inlet." Descending some distance down well-grassed spurs, we came to a cattle station, and there revelled in a homely meal, with fresh butter, but were informed by the owner that the boat in which he usually sailed to the

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Akaroa settlement, some three miles distant, on the other side of the harbour, leaked, and he could only give us a small dinghy, with short oars, in which he thought we might make the passage safely,—the alternative being several miles' walk round the upper part of the harbour, we decided to make the venture.

The Bishop and Archdeacon managed to find room in the stern sheets, whilst I rowed with Horomona, but we were much too heavy a crew for such a little craft, and we soon found ourselves in difficulty, for a nasty squall came up, raising a rough head sea, and we had hard work to reach our haven, having to bail out the water with my straw hat. At the landingplace the resident clergyman was anxiously watching our progress, fully expecting to see our boat swamped. We were with him several days, including a Sunday, the Bishop visiting settlers in the various bays of the harbour, some of which were reached by boat,—then, making a tour of the bays on the western side of the Peninsula, which are separated from each other by very steep, forest-clad spurs, we eventually returned to Lyttelton in a whaleboat.

Not long afterwards I started with the Bishop on his Southern journey, for which we had three horses, one as a pack horse to carry clothes and other necessaries. The Bishop's plan was to visit all the principal settlers en route, holding services, and, as it turned out, with many baptisms, and an occasional marriage. He was often welcomed with the remark: "Well, my Lord, you are the first clergyman we have seen here." It fell to my lot to lead responses, read lessons, raise the hymn tune, and look after the horses. I shall not give you a diary of our journey, which lasted nine weeks, but limit myself to some incidents by the way which may interest you.

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For some time we were fortunate in finding rivers low, and having no occasion to camp out at night. At every station there were gatherings for service, giving the Bishop an opportunity of personal acquaintance with all sorts and conditions of men. After passing Te Maru we went out of our direct way, up a valley, to a house built by a sheepfarmer on a ridge, ending abruptly in a deep gully, full of luxuriant grass and underwood. He was absent, but his wife welcomed us, asking the Bishop to remain for the afternoon, to baptize her two children, and see her husband on his return. Dinner over, I was on the hill-side, attending to the horses, when I noticed a thick cloud of smoke rising at the head of the valley, whilst a fierce Nor'west wind, which had suddenly sprung up, was driving it down the gully towards the house. A shepherd came running towards me and said that a grass fire was tearing down the gully like a regiment of soldiers, and must soon reach the house. It came on with such rapidity that, with him, I had barely time to rush to the house and call out to the Bishop and our hostess to come out at once, whilst I picked up the children who were playing in the verandah and carried them out of danger to the hill-side. Turning back, I saw that they had not left the house, which was enveloped in smoke and flame, the garden fence ablaze, and apparently the roof on fire. The wind was so furious that it drove the fire past the house, before it could ignite it, leaving it scorched and blackened. Going into it as soon as possible, I found that the mother had fainted, and the Bishop had remained with her. Her husband soon returned, having seen the fire in the distance, little thinking of the narrow escape of his home and family. The Bishop then held page 36a short service, baptizing the children, and adding thanksgiving for their merciful deliverance from such imminent peril.

Proceeding southward we reached the furthest point of my former journey, and from thence onward met with rather rough adventures. The district of Otago is mountainous, and the approach to Dunedin difficult; passing through some rich lowlands, we were directed to follow up a long winding spur, leading to the summit of a mountain range which looks down on the town. We could get no guide, and were left to our own devices, with frequent opportunities of going astray and missing the one track which reached the hill-top; the going, too, was very slow, as the ridge on which we rode was often so narrow that we had to go in single file, leading the horses. Evening was closing in as we made the summit, strewn with rocks, and with patches of snow here and there, and a good deal of boggy ground, with a steep descent to the town, which we could make out below us, a few scattered houses amongst low hills, which enclosed a large sheet of water. Making long reins to lead the horses with, we manœuvred, as best we could, in amongst loose stones and slippery herbage, in increasing darkness, until, about nine o'clock, we found ourselves barred by a line of "bush" trees growing thick together, which seemed impassable, but, finding a pathway, we went in, until we were brought to a standstill, practically tied up in a tangle of shrubs and supplejack vines. I had a lantern in case of need and, lighting it, attracted the notice of a dog, who came up to us, and in a most sagacious fashion led us to a house on the other side of the trees. It proved to be the residence of the Magistrate of Dunedin, page 37who had letters saying that the Bishop was coming southward, and was delighted to welcome us, sending a boy with some fodder for our horses, as it was not an easy task to extricate them at night from the bush. Dunedin is a Scotch Settlement, founded some years before Canterbury, chiefly Presbyterian, with a few Church people, a resident clergyman, and a small wooden church.

Beyond Dunedin our route lay through country that promises well for future settlement, but at present is very perplexing to travellers, who must find their way through swamps and hills, so like each other, that it is only too easy to miss your road, and here it was I received excellent advice from a traveller:—"As you go on, always turn often and look back; remember, you have to come back again, and must know your landmarks." We came to the Molyneux River, one of the largest in New Zealand, unfordable, and with difficulty navigable, owing to the swiftness of its current. Its Maori name is "Matau,"—Anglicé, "the water of eddying surface," as indeed we found it, crossing in a boat rowed by a ferryman, whilst from the stern I towed our three horses with ropes, no easy matter, as the boat swung hither and thither in the swirling stream, and I had to pay out and haul in line as if I had three powerful fish on hand; and here I began to suspect that "Dick" was a dubious swimmer, which suspicion afterwards was verified to our cost.

It was interesting to notice, in various houses, different traits indicating the sort of people who had adventured themselves to the ends of the earth to subdue a wilderness and begin the work of a new colony,—all of them, in every class, persons of strong page 38character. In one house the living-room was furnished with an excellent library, the owner, a man of some years, having been in charge of an important Library in Edinburgh; coming out to New Zealand, with a family of stalwart sons and daughters, he had taken to the rough life as to the manner born, but, as you may imagine, still retaining his love of letters, and glad to welcome intellectual talk. In another, on the mantelpiece stood a couple of pewter pots, inscribed with names,—our host's being one of them, —mementoes of pair-oared and four-oared races won at Oxford. "Ah, I see you're looking at those! Not quite the same sort of life out here as at Oxford, is it?" In another house, clay built, in a very lonely bit of country, we found, at first, only the mother, a homely, rustic matron, and were asked to stay awhile to baptize her two children; we waited for the husband's return, and whilst the Bishop was conducting the service I was attending to the horses outside. Having a long and intricate journey before us, in a trackless mountain country, we could not afford time to wait for a meal, being, moreover, provided with some necessary food for the way, but the husband, on hospitality bent, thinking no doubt that I should be ready for something, came out of the house, with a bottle of whiskey and some scones in his hand. "The Governor is busy inside still, writing out the register of our children's baptism,—have a bite and sup, you've a long way to go," and then he told me, with honest pride, how well he was getting on,—"was only a farm hand at home, and now cattle and sheep of my own, and my own land and house. Yes, a bit lonely at times, but now and then a traveller, and the wife don't mind it, and then there's the page 39children." He was the type of many whose children will rise, as they could never have done at home.

We reached the river Mataura, in some respects unlike others we had crossed, shut in by high banks and, in places, outcrop of rock, deep, and running rapidly. In Maori tongue its name means "the reddish, eddying water." It looked decidedly bad to ford, nor did we attempt it, for falling in with an Australian, a Sheep Inspector, who was on his way to inspect some sheep imported from Australia, we took his advice and went down the bank of the river towards the sea to a settlement of Maoris, who might be able to ferry us over the river in canoes, towing our horses behind them. We spent a night with a hospitable settler, and early in the morning carried out this programme successfully. Then we set out, in beautiful weather, on what promised to be a delightful ride of considerable distance on the beach to the Bluff Settlement. But none of us had been that way before, and there was the unforeseen to reckon with, and, for once in a way, experienced as we thought ourselves as travellers, we had omitted one essential precaution,—we had neither food or water with us, nothing but a little brandy and a biscuit or two, as we thought to accomplish the journey in a few hours. On our left hand the surf of the Pacific invaded the beach, leaving just room to travel on fairly hard sand, which was fringed with rough grass and low shrubs. Behind them stretched for miles a lagoon, backed up by miles of forest, shutting out any view of the Mataura plains. All went well, our guide, the Inspector, a man full of anecdote, entertaining us with his experiences in Australia, until we were brought up short by a swirling rapid torrent, page 40issuing from the Lagoon, towards the sea. Dismounting, we tried to measure the depth of it with long sticks, and to estimate the force of the current by chucking logs of wood into it. The verdict was—no passage there. Then we cast about to explore the Lagoon, to see if we could make a safe circuit of it well above the stream. Again, a failure, the bottom was peat, so soft, no horse could get through it, and the distance to be forded more than a mile. "We will wait for high tide," said the Inspector, "we might be able to swim it if the water is still." Again, disappointment, and then our only resource was to camp where we were for the night, turn the animals loose, and, in early morning, leave them, with our packs and saddles under a bush, and ford the Lagoon on foot, and so walk on to the Bluff. The Inspector said that he would have to return, and would do so, taking our horses and leaving them for us to pick up, on our return, on the southern bank of the Mataura, where he had to go to a sheep station. It was then we made the discovery,—nothing to eat and nothing to drink, for the Lagoon was salt. We lit a big fire of driftwood and passed the night fairly well, and were up at dawn, decidedly hungry, and very dry. Stripping off everything, we bundled our clothes together and carried them on our necks, and making long bundles of flaxsticks, which float well, by way of life-buoys, and tucking them under our arms, in case of deep water, we entered the Lagoon in single file, the Inspector leading, myself last. Every now and then he turned his head and uttered some encouraging joke. "Pity there's no artist handy! three fellows stark naked, one of them a Bishop, up to their waists in water, clothes on their heads, plodding through mud and page 41water! "It was a long job, and heavy, for our feet sank deep in the soft peat, and now and then the water rose breast high, but we emerged at last. Then we began to feel the strain of nearly twenty-four hours' fast and lack of drink. We lay down in the sun to dry, our clothes fortunately having escaped wetting, and then got up for a march of some sixteen miles, nothing to speak of, had we been in good condition for it. "My Lord," said the Inspector, "I know what thirst means, and it's going to be a tough contract for us; we will walk very slowly; don't talk; every half-hour I will give a signal; then lie down for a few minutes, don't try to talk." We obeyed, and somehow got along, throat and tongue parched, and a great emptiness within; hours of monotonous tramp, only once broken by a tantalizing disappointment. A small hut came in view, we quickened our steps, the Inspector went in. "Nothing! "he said, "empty pannikins, no water! "But in the distance the big hill at the Bluff grew steadily bigger, and at last we spied a small house, such a welcome sight, evidently inhabited, and someone coming to meet us,—an old whaler, followed by his Maori wife.

It was late afternoon; near the house there was a pool of bright fresh water, fringed with soft turf; without a word we flung ourselves down, and began to lap like dogs. "Don't swallow," said the man, "drink very slowly, and lie still a bit till we get some tea and food ready for you." We lay there a full half-hour or more before we could recover, and take the tea and hot scones which the Maori wife brought us. Then we explained to our hosts what we had come through, and the man, getting his boat ready, rowed us across the Bluff harbour to the settlement, page 42where Captain Ellis, the Magistrate, made us thoroughly comfortable. Next day we bade farewell to Mr. Pinkerton, our guide, who expressed his unstinted admiration for the way in which the Bishop had come through such a trial of endurance. "I've known what hardship and thirst are in Australia, and this young fellow—well, he's young,—but the Bishop was an example to both of us!"

We stayed a few days at the Bluff, and then, on foot, made for the head of the harbour, crossing a low pass in the hills which encircle it, and reached the estuary of the river, locally known as Jacob's river, but in Maori, Aparima,—Anglice, "the river of the five companies of workmen"—the southernmost river in New Zealand, wide, and full of water, in many places inland running over a rocky bottom. We found on the banks of the estuary a comfortable hut, in which two young sailors had established themselves, acting as ferrymen to carry travellers up the river to the settlement of Invercargill. Next day we reached it, in its very first stage of a possible town, if that term can be applied to six little houses, built of wooden slabs and trunks of tree-fern on the edge of an extensive forest, which bounds a rich plain, very swampy, and dotted with rough herbage. As the boat landed us a mile below the houses, we had to thread our way through waterholes and swamps, and, dusk coming on, we often found ourselves in deep water. We found accommodation in a house of call kept by a Dane, consisting of one living-room, two small bedrooms on either side, an open loft over them, and a lean-to kitchen; the four bedrooms being occupied, two late-comers were provided with blankets, one of them climbing up on to the loft, and disposing himself there, page break
H. J. C. Harper, D.D.First Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand. Primate.

H. J. C. Harper, D.D.
First Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand.

page 43as best he could, amongst bags of potatoes, the other lying on a settee just below him. In the night there arose a sudden uproar; the sleeper above had rolled off his perch and fallen right atop of the man below, who happened to be an Irishman; with indignant voice he woke up the whole household, refusing to accept any apology from the offender, nor would he be pacified by the landlord's arguments. "Sure, an' he did it on purpose, will ye be tellin' me that he fell like that, right on me, if he didn't mane it?" There was imminent chance of a regular shindy, but the Bishop, roused by the noise, came out and secured peace, and some chance of sleep for us all. Nevertheless, at breakfast, the injured man again appealed to me: "Now, Sorr, I've forgiven him, but I ask your opinion, could he have done it without maning it?" I prudently held my tongue, and the excellent ham and eggs, fried potatoes, and tea, banished all ill-feeling in the end.

Making an expedition up the riverside, and wondering why there were no fish in such a stream,—the very place for salmon—we visited a small settlement founded by an old whaler, quite a patriarch, Captain Howell, a man of some wealth in cattle, and the father, and grandfather, of a numerous family. His wife had lately died, and a number of Maori women, from their settlement close by, were holding a "Tangi," or lamentation, to bewail her death, squatting, as their manner is, in and about the house, crooning a funeral chant. There had also been a sad accident to one of Howell's whaling boats, in which he conducted a fishery from the shore; a fine young fellow had met his death, through the capsizing of one of the boats, and his loss was felt all the more because he was engaged to page 44be married to the daughter of one of the settlers, amongst whom Howell was a kind of King. The Bishop, hearing that the poor girl was distraught by her loss, and well-nigh out of her mind, went to visit the family, and I went with him. Coming to the house, he was on the point of entering by the door, whilst I was behind him, when the girl, catching sight of me, and being possessed with the idea that her fiance would somehow return to her, rushed out, flung herself upon me, and finding her mistake, fell to the ground in an agony of disappointment.

Jacob's River is the last inhabited place in the extreme south of New Zealand, except that there are a few fishermen settled in Stewart's Island, which is separated from the mainland by Foveaux Straits, apparently about fifteen miles distant. The country here looks fertile; the hills and the mountain country westwards lie open to the explorer, with a good deal of forest in view; one cannot doubt that in future years this Southland, which is the furthest habitable country in the Southern hemisphere, will cease to be the wilderness it has been for untold centuries, and will support a large and prosperous population.

In a few days' time we began our homeward journey, on foot, across the Mataura plain, making for the Station where we could pick up our horses and baggage. On the way we spent a night with a settler, finding characteristic hospitality in his one-roomed house; in this, to accommodate us, he rigged up a blanket screen between his bed and the rest of the room; behind the screen we slept on the floor, clearing out of the house in the morning to enable him and his wife to get up and prepare breakfast. Then he came with us to the Station on the southern bank of the page 45river, it being no easy matter to find the way in and out of patches of forest, and over many swampy creeks. There we found a small hut, with a shepherd in charge, who had also our horses ready for us; also a very rough slab-built hut in which lived two Scotch sawyers, cutting timber for the owner of the run. They offered us shelter for the night, but as a fall of snow came on, we remained there for two days. They were kindly, but dour Scotchmen, of few words, big, stalwart men, living in the roughest possible manner. The food consisted of boiled beef, without mustard or potatoes, hearth-baked cakes, and tea without milk, and by way of a bed they offered the Bishop and myself their own, which consisted of rough wooden planks, some bags of sawdust by way of mattress, and blankets. One of them camped down on the clay floor, whilst with the other we occupied the bed; —there was not a scrap of literature in the place, and our only resource was to watch the sawyers, under a canvas shelter, at work in the forest, sawing up Rimu, i.e. Red Pine, a finely grained timber which literally seemed to bleed under the saw, as its red sap flowed out.

The snow ceasing, we left our hosts early in the morning on horseback, the shepherd giving us very minute directions how to reach the river, about a mile distant, through an intricate network of swamps and rivulets. "Be careful, when you arrive at the river, to go down the bank by a track that leads to shallow water, but on entering keep in the shallow for a long way up stream; don't attempt to cross till you see on the other side, up-stream, a sort of landing-place; make for it carefully, for the shallow water, except at that one possible ford, ends abruptly page 46in deep water." We navigated the swamps successfully, and entered the water, which is not like the usual New Zealand torrent, but a deep, swift stream. Contrary to our usual custom, as I was delayed a little by the pack-horse, the Bishop went in first, and I followed, the water being only knee-deep. Getting rather ahead of me, the Bishop pointed to a place on the other side which looked like a landing-place, but was merely made by cattle coming down to drink, and turned his horse's head across stream. I shouted to prevent him, as I felt sure it could not be the right place, but in vain; the next moment his horse had stepped over a ledge of rock into deep water, horse and man disappearing, for Dick, instead of swimming, had tried to bottom with his hind feet, had been caught in the chest by the stream, and washed under. It all happened in a moment; catching sight of them under water, as they were swept down past me, I flung myself off my horse, caught hold of my Father's hand, and drew him to the surface. "I kicked away the stirrup," he said. It had dragged him down with the horse, but, fortunately, as we always rode with the stirrup bars in the saddle down, for fear of accident, it came away, and so saved him. Then a swim for the opposite bank, both of us heavily clothed, a tough job in such a stream, which carried us down a long way, though the actual distance in a straight line was not more than fifty yards, and when we did make the bank, we found ourselves in deep water up against a rock with steep sides, to which we clung, until, coasting down, I found a crevice by which I managed to climb up, and, after much effort, contrived to haul my Father up, safe and sound, but drenched to the skin. Happily he was a powerful page 47swimmer, and his old Eton experience now stood him in good stead. Meanwhile the horses had drifted down to an island and landed on it, so going down the river-side and reconnoitring, I thought I could see a landing place on this side, to which I could drive them if I reached the island myself. Entering the water again, and just not swimming, but well up to my neck, I reached the island and got them all at last to the landing-place. We were in sorry plight, for, in spite of our clothes, the water was icy cold, but it might have been worse, and presently we found ourselves on the high river-bank, with a hut in view, and its owner coming to meet us.

"I caught sight of your horses on the island, and wondered what had happened; come in, come in, you've had a narrow squeak of it; I thought no one could get through the river there safely!" He was a character in his way, had been a sailor, and for a short time in the French army, not without education and a lively sense of humour, in charge of cattle for the owner of the run. "Come in, my Lord, you do my humble dwelling great honour," and then, turning to his only companion, a Maori lad, "Get lots of wood, make a big fire, we must dry the Bishop somehow." He bade us strip to the skin, provided us with blankets to sit in by the side of a roaring fire, whilst he hung up our clothes to dry, and made his boy unpack our dripping horses and lay out all in the sunshine, and hang up saddles and tackle. This occupied the whole day, to say nothing of an excellent dinner he prepared for us, though not exactly up to his standard of a French dejeuner; steamed eel,—they had just caught an enormous specimen, fully four feet long, and very thick, but frizzled, cutlet fashion, with flour, page 48very palatable; some boiled wild pig, tender and tasty as turkey, potatoes, scones and tea. Every now and then he would come into the hut to see how we fared: "To think of it! Who would have supposed it? a Bishop with nothing on but his hat, and one of my red blankets, sitting by my fireside! My Lord, I trust that the wind which percolates through the interstices of my poor house does not inconvenience you." At night, for supper, we had a fresh delicacy, a roasted Kiwi, locally called a "wood-hen," rather like a hen pheasant, one of the surviving specimens of the Apteryx, or "wingless" bird, in New Zealand. It has a rudimentary wing, of one joint only, but is a ground bird, and if well cooked, so as to get rid of its superabundant oil, by no means uneatable. Our host took much pleasure in his cuisine, and kept us amused till a late hour at night, relating his interesting experiences in France, and as a sailor, meanwhile shaping out of raw bullock-hide a stirrup to take the place of the one lost in the water.

Next morning he gave me careful directions for our journey, many miles of hill country, with only a scanty track here and there to guide us, and no place of shelter if we lost the way. Noticing that I was impatient to start in good time, and somewhat anxious, he said: "Now, don't fuss, young man, you will get through right enough; just look at the Bishop yonder, calm and quiet, as if he had not had to swim for his life yesterday."

When we reached Dunedin, finding an opportunity of sending our friend some memento of our gratitude for his hospitality, we made up a small parcel of tobacco and pipes, writing materials, a book or two, one in French, and despatched it. We then pursued our page 49way to Christchurch, and without further adventure reached it, as it happened, just in time for the five o'clock evening service at St. Michael's Church. Riding up to the gate that led into the church grounds, we found there one or two clergy, who at first could hardly recognize the Bishop in his travel-stained clothes; from head to foot he was mud-coloured, his gaiters bound together with flax, his episcopal hat quite disreputable. They had heard but little of us for many weeks.

This has been a long yarn, I hope it has not tried your patience too much. It will give you some idea of what a Bishop has to tackle in a new country like this.

I am, Yours, etc.,

H. W. H.