Indigenous Mobilities


Mobility, Reciprocal Relationships and Early British Encounters in the North of New Zealand

Rachel Standfield

From the establishment of the European settlement at Port Jackson, Māori travelled to the Australian colonies and beyond. The kidnapping of Tuki and Huru and their forced journey from Muriwhenua to Norfolk Island in 1793 began a process whereby Māori took advantage of new connections and transport and developed connections via overseas travel.1 Men like Tuki and Huru, as well as other travellers such as Ruatara and Te Pahi, have become well-known names in New Zealand history, with historians and anthropologists documenting their journeys.2 However, this history of Māori movement is not simply one of intrepid individuals who travelled, but also signals a system of mobility borne out of and enabling further ‘world enlargement’ for Māori communities.3 This world enlargement not only affected local Māori, it also exerted influence on British imperial relations. This chapter focuses on communities rather than individuals, and on the ways that Māori mobility brought Māori ideas and cultural values to bear on relations with Europeans.

I use the New South Wales colonial chaplain Samuel Marsden’s journal of his first voyage to New Zealand in 1814–15 as both a source of evidence about Māori mobility and its effect ‘at home’ in the north of the North Island, and as a window to consider how Māori mobility influenced the chaplain’s travels. The first of seven journeys made by Marsden, this journey was designed to introduce communities in the north of the North Island to the idea of a mission; it finished with Marsden concluding the land transaction for the mission station at Hohi, overlooked by Rangihoua pā, on the Purerua Peninsula in the Bay of Islands.4 While the voyage was a ‘first’ for Marsden, he was accompanied by seven Māori men returning home: five Ngā Puhi Chiefs from the Bay of Islands—Ruatara and his uncle, the warrior chief Hongi Hika, Hongi’s rival Korokoro and his brother Tuai, as well as Tuatara—and two Māori men who were working as sailors on the Active. All had been in New South Wales and were making the journey home.5

Marsden had established relationships with these men and other Māori who had made the journey to Port Jackson. His prior connections with these travelling Māori meant that he was already widely known in the Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands communities’ embrace of the mobility of individual iwi (people or nations) members prior to Marsden’s first visit is investigated in this chapter. The effect of Marsden’s integration into reciprocal relationships with Bay of Islands’ Māori is also explored. Māori mobility ensured that Māori values were applied beyond the shores of New Zealand; here I argue that Marsden benefited from the positive application of utu to his relationships with Māori communities via the connections that he had already established with mobile Māori. Utu is defined by Sidney Mead as ‘compensation, or revenge, or reciprocity’; he understood it as the principle of reciprocity or equivalence that is used to maintain relationships.6 Raymond Firth considered utu to be the ‘“underlying mechanism” of all Māori exchange … the understanding that “for every gift another of at least equal value should be returned”’.7 Anne Salmond defined utu as ‘the principle of equal return, often expressed in revenge’ and noted the importance of utu as a ‘main theme’ in Māori society, alongside mana (prestige) and tapu (sacredness).8

By 1814, Marsden was already an important part of Māori networks that extended to Australia and beyond. By the first decades of the nineteenth century, the Australian colonies, especially Sydney, were becoming a ‘node’ for mobile Māori, operating as a crucial site for Māori interaction with the British and a first stop for some Māori before they travelled further afield.9 As perhaps the most central European figure in Māori travel during this early imperial period, Marsden was vital to this ‘node’. In the period before and after his first voyage to New Zealand, he offered accommodation, support and an introduction to elite New South Wales colonial society for Māori journeying to Port Jackson. Many travellers, like the men accompanying him back home on the Active, had stayed with his family at their farm in Parramatta. Marsden was also a strong voice in shaping discourses that promoted Māori as people to be engaged with—as able, active and intelligent Indigenous people who were capable of being ‘civilised’. In doing so, he developed implicit, and occasionally explicit, comparisons with Aboriginal people, who he derided as racially inferior and unable to be saved.10 Alice Te Punga Somerville pointed out that by the time of Marsden’s arrival in New Zealand in 1814, ‘Māori, New Zealand, and the rest of the world were already inextricably tangled’. Indeed, she argued that New Zealand histories would look very different if they began in New Zealand Street, Parramatta (named after the site of the Māori seminary established in 1819), rather than New Zealand itself.11 Starting in New Zealand Street would ‘affirm the mobility of Māori: our enthusiasm, our curiosity, our adaptability, our agency’ and the relationships that were established there.12 Marsden’s journey to New Zealand at the end of 1814 might have been the first for the chaplain—it may have been unknown territory for him—but it was territory where he was already well known. Māori mobility meant that when Marsden travelled to New Zealand for the first time, he brought into being a number of relationships that Māori communities had anticipated since their people had first encountered him in New South Wales—in this sense, he was returning ‘home’, even though he was setting foot in New Zealand for the first time. Marsden’s first journey to New Zealand was not simply about him as an individual; it was about his relationships with Bay of Islands Māori. Therefore, rather than focus on Marsden himself, his perspectives on the voyage, his reactions to the visit and his engagement with other travelling Europeans on the Active (which Sandy Yarwood provides in his biography of Marsden), this chapter considers Māori reactions, responses and agency in shaping Marsden’s journey.13

Recent scholarship on early encounters in New Zealand and the Pacific has stressed the importance of relationships for understanding and analysing the nature of imperial contact. In their book He Kōrero: Words Between Us, New Zealand scholars Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins argued that a desire for relationships drove Māori engagement with Europeans. Countering the commonly held view that, in engaging with Europeans, Māori were primarily interested in access to guns, Jones and Jenkins asserted that:

It is primarily the social relationships, whether friendly or hostile, that form the shifting lines of power along which desirable objects move … So, as well as being captured, Pākehā needed to be understood, fed and looked after, and drawn into an educational and social as well as an economic exchange.14

Examining another Pacific context—that of early encounters between Tahitians and the British—Vanessa Smith’s Intimate Strangers similarly aimed to broaden the focus of historical scholarship to include a serious analysis of friendship as a form of cross-cultural exchange. Emphasising the translation required to understand different, culturally inflected concepts of friendship that shape encounters, Smith argued for a focus on friendship to help counter what she viewed as an excessive concentration on violence in contemporary historical scholarship.15 Likewise, in their work examining imperial networks, Magee and Thompson claimed that trust must be considered vital to network formation, as it plays a crucial role in the structure of networks through creating mutual obligation.16 Extending this field of study on imperial networks, scholars such as Smith, and Jones and Jenkins, have emphasised the cultural factors that shape relationships on both sides of cross-cultural encounters.

Pacific histories can offer a model for examining how cultural values have shaped patterns of movement. Mobility and the wider cultural and community drivers for Indigenous travel are key considerations in the work of a number of historians considering both pre-colonial and colonial periods of history in the Pacific. Paul D’Arcy emphasised the place of movement in pre-colonial society, exploring mobility in the regional exchange of goods and knowledge, as well as travel for social purposes. Operating with the ‘sea as a highway’, D’Arcy showed how Pacific peoples moved throughout the Pacific and were mobile to an exceptionally high degree in the Tonga, Fiji and Samoa triangle.17 Debate over the relationship between individuals and communities has also inspired histories of colonial mobility in Pacific scholarship, in which questions of Indigenous agency surrounding mobility are problematised, even in the coercive regimes of indentured labour.18 In ‘Travel-Happy Samoa’, Damon Salesa analysed Samoan travel in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; he argued that although the ‘rewiring of the Pacific’ was ‘coincident with the arrival and actions of Papalagi (non-Indigenous people), it was a process that complicated agency, a process necessarily both shared and contested’ and ‘a work crafted by both islanders and Papalagi’.19

Salesa’s study is informed by Epeli Hau‘ofa’s seminal paper that placed mobility at the heart of Pacific cultural and community life. Hau‘ofa responded to views of the Pacific Islands as ‘tiny’ by calling for a return to the idea of the Pacific as a ‘sea of islands’. Hau‘ofa theorised that the:

‘World enlargement’ carried out by tens of thousands of ordinary Pacific islanders … [made a] nonsense of all national and economic boundaries, borders that have been defined only recently, crisscrossing an ocean that had been boundless for ages before Captain Cook’s apotheosis.20

Hau‘ofa’s emphasis on the interdependent relationships between static communities and travellers provides an important lens for viewing not just contemporary but also historical travel in Pacific societies.

Hau‘ofa made a strong case for considering the role of reciprocity as a core cultural value for Pacific peoples. With this in mind, this chapter focuses on communities and their role in travel, and examines how Marsden was treated during his first voyage to New Zealand through the lens of utu as a key cultural driver for Māori. Utu is commonly imagined in ‘everyday discourse’ as applying only in a negative sense; it is accorded a meaning closer to revenge than reciprocity, and historical scholarship too focuses much more strongly on its negative aspects.21 The most well-known and, indeed, most archetypal example of utu in New Zealand historical scholarship is the burning of the colonial ship the Boyd by Māori in 1809.22 Marsden’s first voyage to New Zealand and his discussions with Whangaroa Māori, which are outlined later in this chapter, came to form a key part of the Boyd’s narrative, which stressed European fault and Māori motivation as revenge for wrongs done against them. This discourse acted as a counter to earlier emphasis on Māori savagery and cannibalism, and of New Zealand as ‘retaliatory and damaging’.23 However, Māori communities today have a much more complex understanding of utu, which embraces both negative and positive meanings.24 This extension of utu into cross-cultural relationships was a function of the significant numbers of Māori who were travelling across the Tasman to visit New South Wales. Utu, and the range of meanings associated with it, had a significant effect on cross-cultural encounters in both New Zealand and New South Wales prior to Marsden’s first visit to the Bay of Islands. Indeed, Tony Ballantyne argues that ‘personal connections and forms of reciprocity enabled the establishment of the mission, and they provide an often-neglected social context for understanding the mission’s foundation’.25

Māori community attitudes towards travel appear to have undergone an important shift since the first colonial settlement in Australia. The development of personal relationships and trust seem to have shaped changing community attitudes to overseas travel when Māori began to travel to New South Wales. Accounts from the earliest Māori journeys overseas suggest that home communities may not have been happy, or may have had a mixed response, to individuals’ decisions to travel. However, by the time of Marsden’s arrival in the Bay of Islands, communities were strongly involved in decisions to travel and in choosing who would travel, and were vying to send people on journeys. The journeys of early travellers—such as the Ngā Puhi man Te Mahanga, and Te Pahi, a senior chief of the north-western Bay of Islands—were reported in European records in terms that suggested that their communities did not want them to travel.26 Te Mahanga, known as Moyhanger in John Savage’s writings, left the Bay of Islands in 1806 and travelled with Savage to London.27 Savage reported both the reaction of Moyhanger’s community, and the grief of his whānau (extended family) at his departure. According to Salmond, ‘some’ of Te Mahanga’s ‘relations’ approved of his adventure, and others disapproved, but he was unshaken in his resolve.28 Te Pahi, visiting Sydney in 1805, was reported by Philip Gidley King as stating that he had ‘long designed’ a visit to the British colony, having been encouraged not only by Tuki and Huru’s experiences, but also by ‘the request of his father’. Although his travel was ‘much against the wishes of his dependants’, the chief felt that their objections were ‘much outweighed by the probable advantages that would derive from his visit’.29 Te Pahi travelled with the explicit objective of increasing his mana, having strategically decided that visiting New South Wales would allow him access to goods and connections that would improve his community standing, even if was against the wishes of his family. As Ballantyne has demonstrated, Māori were keen to embrace European technologies due to the particular features of their history. Long-distance migration from Polynesia had created a history of ‘radical cultural adaptation’, and long-distance trade was a feature of relationships between Māori communities. These features of Māori society meant that ‘Māori had by the late eighteenth century developed a strong interest in the opportunities that might be presented by cross-cultural contacts, as well as in the novel technologies and ideas that they might access from strangers’.30

Māui, known as Mowhee in European sources, and also known as Tommy Drummond, gave an account of his departure for Port Jackson in 1806, which shows how community attitudes towards travel changed from the initial reticence that people such as Te Mahanga and Te Pahi encountered.31 Māui described to Basil Woodd how, in ‘about the year 1806, one of the Natives had gone to Port Jackson in New South Wales, and staid [sic] there some time’. This person informed the community of the ‘fine place the English people had’ and, according to Woodd, also relayed news of Christianity. This unnamed Māori traveller had a significant influence—he or she was credited with having ‘persuaded many of the Natives to wish to send their children thither’.32 Soon after, ships arrived, and one of the captains struck up a friendship with Māui’s father, leading him to ‘earnestly entreat’ a place on the ship for Māui, who was about nine years old. On the day that he was destined to leave, he met a Māori man, Hiari (known as ‘Hearry’ in European sources), on one of the ships:

With whom he was acquainted who had been to visit the English Settlements, and was going back again with the Captain. He spake [sic] highly of the kindness of the Captain, and of the English people; and persuaded Mowhee to persevere in his intention’.33

Māui’s tale of his departure from New Zealand suggests that community attitudes towards journeys to the colony were changing. It also highlights the vital role of prior relationships and personal connections with both Europeans and with Māori experienced in travel to the new British colony. Māui’s experience suggests that, while it was individuals who travelled, their communities played strong roles in the decision to do so; even as early as 1806, a cohort of Māori travellers was influencing decisions around mobility, so that mobility encompassing New South Wales and further afield was being viewed positively.

By the time Marsden arrived in 1814, Māori travel to the colony was well established. Indeed, Marsden arrived accompanied by five chiefs and two Māori men working as sailors on the Active—all had been in New South Wales and were making the journey home. In fact, the chiefs had been in Port Jackson specifically to collect Marsden and accompany him to the Bay of Islands. In March 1814, Marsden had sent a letter to Ruatara, ‘writing of their friendship’ and sending gifts to reinforce his message.34 The letter, ‘possibly the most significant document in the history of early New Zealand’, according to Ballantyne, announced Marsden’s plans to establish a mission. In it, Marsden ‘framed his relationship with the chief primarily in the idiom of reciprocity’. He acknowledged Ruatara’s mana by referring to him as ‘Duaterra King’, sent news of each member of Ruatara’s circle in New South Wales and also sent gifts, including one from his wife Elizabeth ‘to Ruatara’s wife, Rahu: a red gown, red being a colour prized by Māori and associated with chiefly status’.35 Marsden had sent the letter in the care of Tuai, younger brother of Korokoro, leader of the Ngare Raumati confederation in the eastern Bay of Islands.36 Tuai had been living with Marsden in Parramatta. Hongi Hika, the great warrior chief of the northern alliance of Ngā Puhi, and Ruatara’s matua or ‘uncle’, decided to travel to New South Wales to collect Marsden himself, and insisted that Ruatara, with his English language skills, accompany him as his interpreter.37 This was Hongi’s first overseas trip. He is better known for his journey to England in 1820, which Ballantyne considers in his chapter in this volume. Korokoro, Hongi’s rival, was a late addition to the party.38 Jones and Jenkins have described Ruatara, Hongi and Korokoro’s journey to ‘collect Marsden’ as being highly significant.39 The act of collecting an important visitor constituted a mutual recognition of mana; a protection of mana through ensuring the safe arrival of the visitor that simultaneously enhanced the visitor’s status. While each chief had his individual motivations for travel, making the journey as a group was a particularly important form of culturally based mobility, and one that was to place Marsden in a position of esteem when he arrived in New Zealand.40

The vital role that the community played in mobility, and the community’s clear interest in, and commitment to forging connections with, the British in New South Wales, was apparently not something Marsden anticipated when he ventured to New Zealand for the first time in late 1814. He did not expect to be already embedded in relationships with Māori communities, but, rather, to require introductions as he travelled along the coast. When the Active first arrived at North Cape, he sent ‘all the chiefs [he] had on board’ ashore, ‘but no Europeans, so that they might open an intercourse between us and the Natives, and bring us some supplies’.41 The boat in which they travelled ‘was well armed, that they might defend themselves’.42 The preparation for this journey ashore suggests that there was fear, perhaps among the Māori travellers as well as the chaplain, for the safety of the party. However, arriving ashore in a boat laden with weaponry may well have increased the mana of the returning chiefs, as they displayed the bounty that came from travel to the newly established colony.

While the party was ashore, a chief and his son came out to the ship in a waka (canoe), with ‘some very fine looking men’.43 When Marsden asked whether the chief had seen Ruatara ashore, he replied that he had not, but to show the strength of his relationship with Ruatara he produced a ‘pocket knife … given to him by Duaterra a long time before’, which he valued highly. Marsden was pleased to meet people connected to Ruatara, believing that it bolstered his chances of a successful voyage. He was surprised to find that these people knew who he was; everyone on board the canoe ‘seemed well acquainted’ with Marsden’s name. Marsden noted that they:

Immediately enquired after a young man belonging to that place, who had lived with [him] some time previously; [that man’s] brother was in the Canoe and greatly rejoiced he was to see me [Marsden]. He made the most anxious enquiries after his brother, and I [Marsden] gave him every information I could.44

Marsden had arrived in a place that already had strong relationships with European goods and people, and in which he himself was known. In this sense, his first journey became for him also a kind of reunion or homecoming, as he entered relationships already established or anticipated because of connections he had with mobile Māori. Tellingly, he wrote, ‘we were now quite free from all fear, as the Natives seemed desirous to shew [sic] their affection by every means in their power’.45 Marsden’s place in Māori relationships ensured his safety, which in turn played a crucial role in ensuring his sense of comfort on the voyage, and his subsequent feeling that the voyage was a success. Fear of Māori violence had constituted an overriding concern in early British imperial relationships with New Zealand and, indeed, because of the sacking of the Boyd, had delayed Marsden’s first voyage to the country. Clearly, both European and Māori mobility was affecting entire communities in the Bay of Islands area. Europeans arriving on the shores of New Zealand were bringing goods, knowledge and connections, but this was being matched by Māori travel, with the result that iwi were becoming enmeshed in relationships that spanned the Tasman and further afield. These were relationships that Marsden was not necessarily aware of before he first came to New Zealand, but these relationships had a significant impact on his journey.

While it seemed that Marsden was not yet aware of how utu operated to reciprocate good deeds as well as bad, utu may well have played a key role in the first formal introduction between him and the Bay of Islands chiefs. Korokoro, his brother Tui and Ruatara brought a group of chiefs out to the Active to be introduced to the visiting Europeans. Korokoro arrived dressed, painted and flanked by warriors; after introductions, which included a ‘war song’ by the Māori and the ‘discharge of thirteen small arms’ from the ship, the group came on board. The introduction also included giving the visitors ‘several presents in the most polite manner’.46 After introducing the chiefs ‘from other districts’ to those onboard the Active, Korokoro:

Commented on the particular attention they had shown to him when at Port Jackson; and lamented that the poverty of his country prevented [him] from returning their kindness according to his wishes.47

Korokoro’s actions appear to accord to the gift exchange that formed a vital part of utu—that is, to reciprocate gifts that had accrued to individuals (and hence the whole community) in the past. By explaining how each European person present had treated him at Port Jackson as he presented gifts, Korokoro reciprocated the ‘kindness and hospitality’ that had been shown to him while travelling. His concern for the ‘poverty of his country’ was probably driven by the importance placed on reciprocal relationships for the ‘repayment of obligations’, as these tended to be ‘more lavish than the original gift for the reason of enhancing a group’s social reputation and prestige or its mana’. Further:

[A] gift beyond the recipient’s ability to reciprocate could humiliate them, place them in your debt or even subtly subordinate them. Thus the more one gave, the greater one’s mana, and an unequal response meant loss of mana.48

Only after this introduction did Korokoro explain to the assembled chiefs the role that the missionaries had come to perform, and their intention to stay in New Zealand.49

Thus, it would appear that utu shaped the reception given to Marsden and the accompanying missionaries when they arrived in the Bay of Islands. Marsden’s investigation of the circumstances surrounding the burning of the Boyd meant that he also gained increased understanding of the negative potential of utu. On hearing that the chiefs and warriors of the Whangaroa people were nearby, visiting the mainland opposite the Cavalli Islands for the funeral of ‘some great Warrior’, Marsden travelled to meet them, protected by Ruatara, Hongi, guns and warriors.50 Marsden met with Te Ara, ‘known to the Europeans by the name of George’, chief of the Ngāti Uru hapū, a man who had travelled extensively, ‘spoke tolerable English’ and had been central to the Boyd incident. Te Ara had also ‘been at Parramatta and knew me’, Marsden wrote.51 Te Ara, who, with his brother Te Puhi, was the ‘leading rangatira [chief] of the Whangaroa hapū Ngāti Pou’, explained to Marsden that the situation that had led to the capture of the Boyd was a consequence of cross-cultural encounters arising from Māori mobility. According to Te Ara, the crew of the Boyd had treated him without respect and thus slighted his mana; they had also refused to listen to warnings that their actions would have consequences in New Zealand.52

As Marsden met with the assembled Whangaroa people, he asked them ‘how they came to cut off the Boyd and massacre the crew’. Two people who had travelled on the Boyd, having been sent home on the ship by Sydney merchant Simeon Lord, came forward. They explained how Te Ara had become ill and ‘unable to do his duty as a common sailor’. For this he was ‘severely punished—was refused provisions’; he was told he would be put overboard and was subjected to ‘many other indignities’.53 Te Ara ‘remonstrated’ with the master of the ship and ‘begged that no corporal punishment might be inflicted on him’. At the same time, he tried to explain ‘that he was a Chief in his own country’, a fact that would be apparent when he arrived in New Zealand. However, he was not believed; he was ‘told he was no Chief’.54 Te Ara was subsequently abused in terms that Marsden recognised as being ‘too commonly used by British seamen’. Returning to Whangaroa with a lacerated back from the punishment inflicted on him, Te Ara’s ‘friends and people were determined to revenge the insult which had been offered to him’. Te Ara explained that ‘if he had not been treated with such creulty [sic] the Boyd would never have been touched’.55

Marsden used the meeting with Te Ara’s people to encourage them to embrace peace and reconciliation with communities in the Bay of Islands, to ‘lay aside all sorts of war and murder’ and to ‘become a great and happy people’. Te Ara replied that ‘he did not want to fight any more, and was ready to make peace’.56 The focus of the discussion shifted, and ‘much conversation then passed chiefly respecting New Zealand and Port Jackson, which George [Te Ara] had visited’.57 Marsden capitalised on the Whangaroa people’s interest in Port Jackson to encourage their acceptance of missionaries, stressing that missionaries would facilitate access to the material goods that Māori had seen in the New South Wales colony. Marsden compared the current conditions that Māori lived in with the advantages of ‘civilisation’ to convince Te Ara to accept missionaries:

I endeavoured to impress upon his mind the great degree of comfort we enjoyed as compared with his countrymen’s enjoyments—our mode of living, Houses &c. which he had seen, and that all these blessings might be obtained by them, by cultivating their land, and improving themselves in useful knowledge, which they would now have an opportunity to acquire from the European settlers. He seemed sensible of all these advantages, and expressed a wish to follow my advice.58

In their conversation, Te Ara and Marsden placed Māori mobility and experiences in New South Wales at the centre of both the explanation of cross-cultural conflict in the Boyd massacre and the future of the Whangaroa people who, it was understood, could access the ‘advantages’ they knew from their travels by accepting missionaries. In this way, Marsden was involved in a process whereby knowledge of the New South Wales colony ultimately filtered through whole communities as ‘the other chiefs and their people stood around us’.59 Marsden, like the increasingly large cohort of Māori travellers returning to their communities, conveyed what interaction with the British at Port Jackson could offer to Māori communities.

Crucially, this conversation was a prelude to Marsden spending his first night sleeping onshore in New Zealand surrounded by the people who had cut off the Boyd.60 This scene was to become a key part of how Marsden was (and is) remembered. Importantly, his confidence derived from his knowledge of why the Boyd had been attacked and his nascent understanding of the principles of utu. Marsden was coming to appreciate the way that reciprocity operated as revenge for negative behaviour and, as he travelled along the coast, he began to derive benefits from the positive application of utu.

While the visiting Europeans as a group were beneficiaries of hospitality and gifts resulting from reciprocal relationships, Marsden received particularly special treatment. At times on his first voyage, these relationships were crucial to the success of his journey. He was anxious to access timber for building houses for the mission at Rangihoua but found himself with dwindling stocks of iron goods. Marsden noted that he was:

Much distressed for want of axes, and other articles of trade, as the presents I had made at the North Cape and along the coast, had very much reduced my stock.61

Deciding to set up a smith to produce more ironwork, and needing access to timber, he travelled to the timber districts on the Kawakawa River at the southern end of the Bay of Islands.62 During this trip, Marsden became very concerned, as they had ‘omitted to bring coals with us from Port Jackson’:

I hardly knew how to remedy these defects—As nothing could be done in our mechanical operations, nor could we purchase provisions from the natives without carpenters tools; Such as axes &c.63

At Kororāreka, Marsden met with Tara, the 70-year-old chief known as ‘Terra’ in his journal, to gain permission to take timber.64 He did this, he wrote, to ‘prevent any misunderstanding’.65

Marsden was accompanied by Māui, ‘a young man about seventeen years of age, who was related to the Chief’ and who had been in New South Wales for nine years, the latter part of which had been spent with Marsden. Māui’s departure from New Zealand was discussed earlier in this chapter.66 Accompanied by Māui, Marsden noted that Tara ‘received us very cordially, and wept much on account of the young man’s return, as did many others, some of whom wept aloud’. The chief refused to accept Marsden’s gifts of iron, saying ‘he did not want any present from me, but only my company, as he had heard so often of me, from his own people and others’.67 Tara’s oldest son, Kawiti Tiitua, had visited Māori in Parramatta in 1811 and, hearing that Ruatara had been working on Marsden’s Parramatta farm, had marked out an area of land by notching trees, planning to use this as his own farm and promising to send 100 men to work the land. Jones and Jenkins argued that this visit, and Marsden’s generous offer of land, formed ‘the basis of ongoing collaboration … between Europeans and the people of the southern Bay of Islands’.68 It is clear that Māui and Kawiti had established a relationship with the chaplain, and that Marsden’s arrival in Tara’s community allowed the senior rangatira to meet his obligations and extend the relationship.

During Marsden’s visit to Kororāreka, Tara expressed his desire for Marsden’s missionaries to come and live with his people. He showed Marsden his plantation of wheat from a previous visit from the Active and gave permission for the chaplain to take as much timber as he needed.69 Not only would Tara not take Marsden’s gifts, but he refused to let Marsden continue travelling, instead ordering baskets of kumara to be roasted for the visiting Europeans, and more to be presented to them for their travels.70 Marsden’s role in Māui’s long stay in New South Wales, as well as the attention paid to Tara’s son in Parramatta, had established a reciprocal relationship that Tara could repay when Marsden arrived seeking assistance. Tara’s repayment of this obligation, and his desire for deeper connections with Marsden and the Europeans associated with him, helped to ensure the smooth continuation of the voyage. The timber Tara provided gave Marsden the means to make iron tools, which in turn provided Māori with the goods they desired from Europeans. Marsden’s ability to restock his supply of iron tools meant that he could extend his relationships with Māori communities, and not be seen to be favouring one group over another.

Thus, part of the success of Marsden’s journey is attributable to Tara who, though he had never travelled, was drawn to assist Marsden as part of reciprocal relationships that existed despite their never having met. As Catherine Hall has demonstrated, empire came to have a significant effect on the identities and subjectivities of those who never travelled, including Indigenous peoples.71 Lester and Lambert have explained how:

Even if one experiences places only through travelling discourses, such as texts, tales, conversations and the viewing of images, each such encounter with place involves engagement—each produces ‘the need for judgement, learning, improvisation’.72

Added to this, it is important to recognise that Indigenous cultural concepts were vital to cross-cultural encounters in imperial and colonial situations and to take these concepts into account as well.

As Marsden continued on his journey, he fielded regular requests from people who wished to travel with him back to New South Wales. By the time the Active was preparing to sail for Australia on 24 February 1815, Marsden had ‘given permission for ten New Zealanders to accompany [him] to Port Jackson, eight of whom were chiefs or sons of chiefs, and two servants’.73 Marsden received so many requests to join him on the journey to New South Wales that, while turning the majority down ‘partly because [he] had not room in the vessel’ and partly because of the expense, he:

Told them [he] would at all opportunities permit a few to have a passage at a time and that they should come in turn by rotation, and with these prospects—they were satisfied.74

The manoeuvres Marsden made around the choice of Māori voyagers provides insight into the effect that mobility was having on Bay of Islands communities, and the types of decisions that were being made about travel.

Before the Active left New Zealand, Marsden made a final visit to a chief at North Cape, who had a ‘quantity of flax dressed and ready for me’.75 When the ‘principal native’ of this iwi requested to travel to Port Jackson, Marsden turned him down.76 However, when he received the same request from the chief’s son, he consented. It is not clear whether this is because the young man was the son of a senior chief, or because his appearance signalled that he was embracing certain European goods that had been presented to him by Marsden. The chaplain wrote:

We met the chief’s son dressed in the India print I had given to his father, when on my way to [the] Bay of Islands. The edges of his garment were ornamented by a white hog’s skin with the hair on, which looked tolerably handsome the Print being red and white gave it a tasteful effect—He was an exceeding fine youth.77

According to Marsden, the young man carried ‘wrapt up and covered with great care’ the ‘printed Orders of Governor Macquarie’.78

The community’s internal negotiations about who would travel are also apparent in Marsden’s journal. As Marsden left the North Cape, he was sent ‘a boy whom the chief wished me to take to Port Jackson’. Another man, Jem, would accompany the boy and then return to New Zealand. Marsden wrote: ‘I was unwilling to disappoint the wishes of this chief who placed such confidence in me—and I therefore gave my consent for them both to remain in the vessel’. Jem relayed the story of the iwi’s negotiations about who would travel to the British colony. The chief’s eldest son—of the India print cloak—had wanted to make the journey, but ‘his mother would not consent at this time’.79 Thus, it is clear that travel was not an individual decision, but subject to the wishes of the iwi, and that women possessed the power to influence these decisions.

Upon leaving New Zealand, Marsden deemed the voyage a success. It filled him with ‘the most heartfelt satisfaction’ to state that ‘I had not met with the slightest accident, provocation or insult—I had fully accomplished the object of my voyage’.80 Marsden’s integration into reciprocal relationships with Bay of Islands Māori ensured the ‘success’ of his voyage. However, it was Māori ‘world enlargement’ that created the conditions for success—Bay of Islands communities had embraced the mobility of individual iwi members by the time of Marsden’s visit and, as he left, were vying to send people across the Tasman. This system of Māori mobility ensured that Māori values were applied beyond the shores of New Zealand. Marsden’s important role as a contact for mobile Māori in Australia meant that he was drawn into reciprocal relationships with Māori communities in the Bay of Islands. These relationships, established well before he arrived in New Zealand, meant that communities used his arrival in New Zealand to balance their relationships with him via reciprocation—Marsden was the beneficiary of the operation of utu. When Marsden left New Zealand accompanied by 12 Māori travellers and with a promise to provide passage to others in turn, he was provided with the opportunity to repay gifts he had received, extend obligations into future years and develop reciprocal relationships with new Māori communities.


Ballantyne, Tony n.d., ‘Cast of Characters’, Marsden online archive,

Ballantyne, Tony 2014, Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Maori and the Question of the Body, Duke University Press, Durham.

Ballara, Angela 1990a, ‘Ruatara’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: Te Ara—the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

Ballara, Angela 1990b, ‘Hongi Hika’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: Te Ara—the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

Ballara, Angela 1990c, ‘Te Pahi’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: Te Ara—the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

Banivanua Mar, Tracey 2007, Violence and Colonial Dialogue in the Australian-Pacific Indentured Labor Trade, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Binney, Judith 2004, ‘Tuki’s universe’, New Zealand Journal of History 38(2): 215–32.

Binney, Judith 2005, The Legacy of Guilt: A Life of Thomas Kendall, third edition, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.

Cloher, Dorothy Urlich 2003, Hongi Hika: Warrior Chief, Viking Press, Auckland.

D’Arcy, Paul 2006, The people of the Sea: Environment, Identity and History in Oceania, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Hall, Catherine 2006, ‘Imperial careering at home: Harriet Martineau on empire’, in Colonial Lives Across the British Empire, David Lambert and Alan Lester (eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 335–59.

Hau‘ofa, Epeli 1993, ‘Our Sea of Islands’, in A New Oceania: Rediscovering Our Sea of Islands, Eric Waddell, Vijay Naidu, and Epeli Hau‘ofa (eds), School of Social and Economic Development, University of the South Pacific, and Bleake House, Suva: 2–6.

Jones, Alison and Kuni Jenkins 2011, He Kōrero—Words Between Us: First Māori-Pākehā Conversations on Paper, Huia publications, Auckland.

King, Philip Gidley 1898, ‘King papers: The legality of Government and General Orders: 2 January 1806’, in Historical Records of New South Wales: Volume 6, King and Bligh, 1806–1808, Government Printer, Sydney: 1–9.

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1 Tuki-tahua and Ngahururu (better known in histories as Tuki and Huru) were kidnapped from the Cavalli Islands, north of the Bay of Islands, to teach convicts how to weave flax. See Binney 2004: 215–32; Ballantyne 2014: 42.

2 Salmond 1997; Binney 2005.

3 Hau‘ofa 1993: 6.

4 Ballantyne 2014: 48.

5 See Ballantyne n.d. See also Ballara 1990a; Cloher 2003: 23, 66; Ballara 1990b. Korokoro and Tui are identified as Ngaati Manu by Salmond 1997: 455.

6 Mead 2003: 31.

7 Metge 2002: 312.

8 Salmond 1975: 12.

9 Lambert and Lester 2006: 10.

10 For discussion of Marsden’s developing interests in New Zealand in the period before his first voyage, and the comparisons he drew to Aboriginal people and their effect on developing racial thought in the region, see Standfield 2012a: 109–12.

11 Somerville 2014: 655–69. See also Standfield 2012b.

12 Somerville 2014: 663.

13 Yarwood 1996 [1977]: 168–80.

14 Jones and Jenkins 2011: 63 (original emphasis).

15 Smith 2010.

16 Magee and Thompson 2010.

17 D’Arcy 2006: 50–69.

18 Banivanua Mar 2007: 43–69; Shineberg 1995.

19 Salesa 2003: 172.

20 Hau‘ofa 1993: 6.

21 Metge 2002: 314.

22 See Wevers 2002: Chapter 1.

23 Wevers 2002: 27, 24.

24 My thanks to Lachy Paterson and Mike Stevens for this point.

25 Ballantyne 2014: 59.

26 Ballara 1990c; Walrond 2005.

27 Salmond 1997: 343.

28 Salmond 1997: 343.

29 King 1898: 3.

30 Ballantyne 2014: 60.

31 Salmond 1997: 466; Marsden 1814: volume 6, frame 31.

32 Woodd 1817: 2.

33 Woodd 1817: 2. Hiari is identified in Jones and Jenkins 2011: 48.

34 Jones and Jenkins 2011: 57.

35 Ballantyne 2014: 58.

36 ‘An uneasy truce prevailed between the related peoples of the Bay of Islands: the northern alliance (Hongi, Ruatara, Te Pahi, and others), the southern alliance (Tara, Tupi, Te Morenga and others) and the Ngare Raumati confederation (Korkor, Tuai and others) of the eastern alliance’. Jones and Jenkins 2011: 67.

37 Sissons, Hongi and Hohepa 1987: 13–14.

38 Jones and Jenkins 2011: 67.

39 Jones and Jenkins 2011: 72.

40 Jones and Jenkins 2011: 72.

41 Marsden 1814: 57 and transcript 42.

42 Marsden 1814: 57 and transcript 42.

43 Marsden 1814: 57 and transcript 42.

44 Marsden 1814: 57 and transcript 43.

45 Marsden 1814: 58 and transcript 43.

46 Marsden 1814: 86 and transcript 62.

47 Marsden 1814: 86 and transcript 62.

48 New Zealand Ministry of Justice 2001.

49 Marsden 1814: 86 and transcript 62.

50 Marsden 1814: 72 and transcript 53.

51 Marsden 1814: 74–75 and transcript 55. Ballara 1990b.

52 Sissons, Hongi and Hohepa 1987: 15.

53 Marsden 1814: 74–75 and transcript 55.

54 Marsden 1814: 75 and transcript 55 (original emphasis).

55 Marsden 1814: 75 and transcript 55.

56 Marsden 1814: 79–80 and transcript 58.

57 Marsden 1814: 80 and transcript 58.

58 Marsden 1814: 80 and transcript 58.

59 Marsden 1814: 80 and transcript 58–59.

60 Marsden 1814: 81 and transcript 59.

61 Marsden 1814: 92 and transcript 67.

62 McNab 1914: 177.

63 Marsden 1814: 92–93 and transcript 67.

64 McNab 1914: 177; Salmond 2007: 466; Sissons, Hongi and Hohepa 1987: 39.

65 Marsden 1814: 93 and transcript 68.

66 Marsden 1814: 93–94 and transcript 68. In his memoir, Māui credited Marsden with helping him to leave his employment as a shepherd in Australia by arranging ‘an exchange’ with his original host. This transpired after Māui had expressed his ‘earnest desire to quit the farm, and gratify his curiosity in seeing more of the world’. See Woodd 1817: 3.

67 Marsden 1814: 94 and transcript 68.

68 Jones and Jenkins 2011: 59.

69 Marsden 1814: 94 and transcript 68–69.

70 Marsden 1814: 95 and transcript 69.

71 Hall 2006.

72 Lambert and Lester 2006: 15.

73 Marsden 1814: 159 and transcript 112.

74 Marsden 1814: 183 and transcript 114.

75 Marsden 1814: 165 and transcript 115; McNab 1914: 185.

76 Marsden 1814: 165 and transcript 115–116.

77 Marsden 1814: 167 and transcript 117.

78 Marsden,1814: 167 and transcript 117.

79 Marsden 1814: 170 and transcript 118–19.

80 Marsden 1814: volume 6, frame 106–07 and transcript 19.