W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso



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[48] (alæ), which four, from their being closely imbricated together, form a much larger and firmer hold for the bird’s beak. Further, as the N.Z. Parrot (Nestor meridionalis) is a large bird with a huge bill, and as the flowers are always produced on the tips of the small branches, which bend and play about under the weight of its body,—not to mention the high winds which generally prevail in those elevated and open regions,—one cannot but suppose it to be no easy matter for the bird to get a bite at them at all, so as to make a proper opening whereby to insert its thick tongue, and lick out the sweet contents without injuring the young immature fruit; especially when we further consider, that the common practice of the parrot is to take up in its claws whatever it wishes to discuss. Of all the flowers I examined, (and I scrutinized a great many during the 2–3 days of snow,) only the upper part of the calyx and corolla had been torn, and in none was the young fruit wanting; nor did I notice any bunches which had had their flowers wholly torn off. What with the glistening snow, the sun shining, and the golden blossoms of those trees,—the numerous parrots diligently and fearlessly at work so close to the village yet often screaming,—the other birds, Tuiis (Prosthemadera Novæ Zealandiæ), and Korimakos (Anthornis melanura), singing melodiously snugly ensconced in their leafy bowers, having earlier had their morning meal,—with now and then the large flakes of feathery snow falling thickly and silently around,—it was altogether a peculiar and interesting sight; and natural though it was it seemed un-natural, and by no means pleasing.”

Another peculiarity, which I noticed here on this occasion, and which struck me forcibly, was, the apparent insensibility of these mountaineer natives to cold. (I again quote from my journal:)—“Past another wretchedly cold day, in which I have scarcely known warmth—even in a small degree. The natives, however, of the place, appear to be almost insensible to cold, the majority of them being but poorly clad, each in a single loose shoulder mat,—and yet they go sauntering about the village in the snow, barefooted and barelegged and barebreeched! of course; or sit down talking together in an open shed, with scarcely any fire, having half of their bodies uncovered. In this respect they differ greatly from the New Zealanders in general (the Lowlanders), who are mostly very impatient of cold.—I, also, noticed some little children, who, leaving their garments (each having only a loose harsh mat), in their huts, came out and frolicked naked about the village! regardless of the snow and sleet; nor did they return to their houses and garments, until I had, a second time, ordered them to do so.” Another remark I copy from my Journal of that date:—“Poor creatures! at this season they were all living on fern root, which the children were incessantly roasting and hammering; yet they were all very healthy. Indeed, the great difference in this respect between the low-lying and sea-coast villages (which I had lately visited) and those of this mountainous district, was really surprising; there, in every place, some one had died since my last visit (some 6 months [49] before), while here, during two years no one had paid the debt of nature. No doubt this is partly to be attributed to the purity of the mountain air, but not wholly so.”— — Cook’s early statement, of their being a remarkably healthy race, I have often proved to be true; would that the introduction of European habits, and of “civilization”, had not deprived them of that inestimable blessing!



We left Matuku at noon, several of the natives with their chief Te Kaipou, going with us to Te Awarua,—the furthest outlying E. village of Patea, to which place Paora and his companion Mawhatu had formerly come. Our journey to Te Awarua was nearly a continual descent of a few miles, over a good beaten Maori track. On arriving at the immediate bank of the Rangitikei river, which lay between us and the mountain range, and which we had to cross, I found I had to descend the perpendicular cliff of nearly 300 feet, the worst feature being that one could not see one’s way! for at the edge of the precipice one had to turn round, and holding on to the grass and fern drop over somewhere, and so descend sailor-fashion! For some time I did not at all relish it, but finding there was no help for it,—and the natives of the place, men women and children, all did so, and then got across the river in safety, (as I could see from the heights,) I consented to follow,—disliking it the more as I went on; for the sheer height not only made me giddy, but here and there in the descent friendly plants to lay hold on failed, or had been half-pulled up in long use, and in their stead old flax leaves and strips of bark had been tied to shaky shrubs, and other rough makeshift devices of pegs and sticks had been also resorted to, and these, as I proved, were in many places old and rotten, and not to be trusted to:1083 however, by degrees, the natives very kindly helping me, I got safely to the bottom in the bed of the river.

The Rangitikei river here was tolerably wide, and not very deep; I managed to cross it by help of the natives without great difficulty. In this place, as in many others in its course further down (as I have proved for many a weary mile!) it runs between high cliffs; the village of Te Awarua being on its E. side, on the lowermost slope of the Ruahine range; this is one of the principal potatoe [50] cultivations of this tribe, the soil being rich and well-sheltered by the forest around.1084 This place, however, was of far more importance in the olden time, as the decaying remains of its old fortifications still shewed;—when it was in its glory as a pa (fortified village), it was taken by the enemy, who carried it by storm. And here, on a rock in the river, which was shown me, a near relation of our well-known present Hawke’s Bay Chief Renata te Kawepo, (whom I had left behind at the Mission Station as a Teacher,) was killed on that occasion, in endeavouring to escape from the foe: Renata, himself being also closely related to this tribe.1085 Having partaken of another excellent meal, (which some of the hospitable people who had purposely preceded us early from Matuku, had kindly and promptly prepared for us,) and my natives loading themselves with a good supply of the choicest potatoes, we left this place and kind people, and set our faces in earnest towards scaling the Ruahine! The principal chief of Patea, Te Kaipou, and the resident old man of this outlying village whose name was Pirere, also going with us, to put us the better into the way, or course, to Hawke’s Bay; although with them it was mere guess,—only they, with some of their people, had been pig-hunting on many occasions for a few miles in that direction. We travelled on till sunset constantly ascending, when we halted by the side of a small wood; our course, at first, lay through fern and brushwood without the faintest track. One abrupt and isolated stony hill, or young mountain, which we had to cross, called Mokai-patea, was completely covered with the species of Coriaria I saw near Titiokura, it always preserved its low spreading habit, by the natives it is called Tutupapa. For the last 3 hours of our journey we were occupied in scrambling and crawling on all-fours up a nasty narrow stony and steep mountain watercourse full of obstructions,—uprooted trees and shrubs lying across it brought down by the winter torrents, slippery stones, deep pools, &c., &c.,—indeed, in some spots it was impossible to pass, when we had to try the banks which were just as bad. The Chief however had assured us that it was the only practicable way! and he and his retainer were also with us as guides. When we had halted for the night and rested a while, my natives (who [51] had suffered considerably in the watercourse owing to their heavy loads of potatoes in addition to other baggage,) looked seriously at each other and earnestly debated the possibility of our ever getting over the range before us. One thing we all agreed to, not to try that watercourse again. We spent the night together, the Chief and the old man being with us. I should not omit to mention that this old man was the father of 12 children by one wife, all living and remarkably healthy; I saw them all, and took down their names, they were a very fine family; I often saw them here afterwards. The old man himself being among the first company who were Baptized of this people, when he took the name of Moses, and having learned to read, &c., became the Teacher of his little village. I have not, however, yet done with our mountain watercourse; for in it, and only at one spot on its N. bank, I found a small patch of a second species of Calceolaria,1086 which (judging from its smaller leaves and the withered remains of its flowering stems) was new to me. So, in after years, I again sought it here and found it in flower, and also took away roots of it for my garden at the Mission Station. This plant is the rare C. repens, and this, at present, is its only habitat.1087

————– “O’er pathless rocks,


Through beds of matted fern and tangled thickets,
Forcing my way, I came to one dear nook,
Unvisited.”———

25th. Rose very early and recommenced our journey; our two kind native friends returning to their homes. Our route at first, lay directly up a very steep hill,—a long outlying spur of the mountain,—we had much difficulty in surmounting it, but we succeeded, and then the fog came on so densely that we could hardly see a yard before us! so, after wandering about for some time, and fearing that some of our party might go astray (which one did!) we halted to breakfast, and to await the clearing up of the fog. On two or three rare occasions, while travelling among the mountains, I have met with this species of dense dry fog,—so widely different from the fogs of the low lands. Such is not merely (as the poet has it),—

“Wreath’d dun around, in deeper circles still
Successive closing, sits the general fog
Unbounded o’er the world; and mingling thick
A formless grey confusion covers all.”—

But the dense and dark strangely-shaped solemn rolling and gliding clouds of fog, often in separate masses, come fast on towards you, as if they were really [52] enveloping something more substantial,—impelled by some secret power (not by wind for all is still and calm), and a weird-like feeling or thrill comes over one, as if one must really get out of their way: I know I have so felt it, particularly when alone! Resuming our journey we travelled on all day, up and down very precipitous and broken cliffs and ridges, often stumbling over old fallen trees, and into holes of uprooted ones, hidden in the thick undergrowth,—and sometimes passing along on the very edges of extensive landslips, down which it was fearful to look. We did not stop to rest nor cease toiling until sometime after sunset,— when we gave it up, as it was getting dark! We had hoped to reach the more open land on, or near, the summit before sundown, which we had been strongly advised to do, but had failed. At this time we were very much entangled among the sides of the deep and thick scrub in the low Fagus forests, on the precipitous western mountain, sinking deep at almost every step among what seemed to be layers (stratum super stratum) of anciently fallen trees, which were all more or less rotten and lying across each other, and hidden under the long Astelia and “Cutting-Grass” foliage; so that, sometimes, my natives as well as myself should sink down so far-crashing through the fallen rotten timber, and yet without touching the earth!—that we could not extricate ourselves without assistance. Language fails me properly, to depict the toilsomeness and entanglement of this day, especially that towards night, in that never-to-be-forgotten Fagus forest! A very long and narrow leaved Astelia was the common plant here, together with several species of the Coprosma genus,—slender slim shrubs growing under the Fagus among those fallen trees. When we finally halted, we all just remained as we were until daylight! no one thought of a tent (which could not be set up), or of cooking, of supper, or of fire; and there was no water there! Neither was there a spot at hand where one could lay himself down at full length! We mostly sat drawn up throughout that night; no one spoke to another, and tobacco was not then in vogue among us; one native did not even undo his backload from his shoulders! owing to his being so greatly exhausted, where he first sat, or fell, there he went to sleep, and so remained till morning with his load on his back I Fortunately for us the night was a mild one and without wind; so, being greatly fatigued, we all slept pretty well in our sub-alpine bivouac till morning. Keats’ opening stanzas in his Hyperion, were more than once thought of by me:—

“Deep in the shade— — —
Sat greyhair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there.
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.” [53]

The next summer in revisiting Patea, I learned, that we had got into our sad trouble in this particular and superstitiously dreaded place, through Paora, who was leading, having taken the wrong turn,—leaving abruptly the high stony ridge we were on and turning to the left into that old half-rotten forest, instead of to the right! which spot bore a bad legendary name among the natives of Patea. And I had left it to him to take instructions from the Chief and the old mountaineer as to our course up the mountain. The natives of Matuku,—who had kept looking out with their keen eyes for our night fire on the open tops, and not seeing it,—knew we had gone astray, and guessed pretty well where we were. Our having spent a quiet night therein, unmolested by unnatural night visitants! proved however to be of no small service in our behalf with the Patea natives. Strange to say, that only a little way above to the right, from where we passed that doleful night, was one of the best halting-places in the whole forest on the West side, and where I afterwards (in following years) spent several single nights,—and indeed, on one occasion, a whole Sunday and two nights very agreeably. For, on my very next visit, finding that we could easily manage to make a kind of snow well there, from the form and nature of the ground and the stones that lay about, (exposed from under the surface through the uprooting and toppling over of a large tree,) we did so, planting snow-hole moss (a species of sphagnum) also in it! and, on subsequent visits, I never failed to find a supply of good water,—and, also, close at hand, dry firewood—a thing not always to be obtained in those high Fagus forests,—where all dead wood, both large and small, becomes as it were waterlogged and sappy from the snow. Several parties of natives, including the Chief of Patea himself, also stopped a night at “my well,” as they called it,—in going to and fro from Patea to the Mission Station, after I had cleared the track, &c.,—but, on their getting horses they all ceased to travel this way.1088



On one journey back from Patea to Hawke’s Bay, I happened to see a Kiwi (Apteryx sp.) in an open place in these woods,—the only time I ever saw one wild and free. It did not see me, and so, I, being hidden from it, watched its movements for some time; it ran much faster than I had supposed it would do, and its striding gait strongly reminded me of a hen running after a moth, or winged insect.

Two or three remarkable incidents of this day’s journey I must now briefly notice. During the afternoon we suddenly came upon the remains of a skeleton of a young man, partly suspended about 2 feet above the ground among some thick growing Coprosma bushes: this, we afterwards found to be that of a young man of Patea, who was one of a bird-catching party that had been overtaken by a snowstorm, when this man was lost in the snow! The sight of this skeleton, now [54] pretty well bleached, roused us not a little, and caused us to redouble our exertions to reach the summit. Near evening, in passing along the edge of a steep stony ridge in the wood, at a considerable altitude, I saw a small plant in flower springing sparsely from among the crevices of the rock beneath me,—on getting a specimen I found it to be a Forstera—if not F. sedifolia itself! the very plant of all others in N.Z. my heart had long been set on, through hearing my dear friend Allan Cunningham (who had longed to see it) talk so much about it,—and from its not having been detected since Forster’s visit when here with Cook;—as well as from the fact, that it was a very curious plant in the disposition of its flowering organs, and one that had given some trouble to Botanists; the younger Linnæus had selected it to bear its discoverer’s name, and Lindley, in his “Natural System of Botany”, had to place the genus, containing only one species, with just two other genera in a separate Order—Stylideæ. I welcomed it in Cunningham’s name, and secured half a dozen good specimens. Curiously enough I have never since met with this plant in any other locality; in subsequent years, however, I got several good specimens from this same place. Here, in the outskirts of the forest were small trees of that musky-smelling plant, I had originally discovered in the forests in ‘the interior of the Bay of Plenty in 1843,—together with an allied species equally odoriferous,—Olearia dentata, and O. ilicifolia; and peering out, along the upper edges of the landslips, were Coriaria angustissima, Ligusticum aromaticum, and the pretty large Blue-bell Wahlenbergia saxicola. I also observed in several spots, mostly on rocks in the shady forests, delightful and fine specimens of Stereocaulon ramulosum,—some plants forming quite a little bush, and looking charming! A glaucous Veronica, a small shrub, I detected on a stony ridge in an open saddle between two hills, fortunately it was both in flower and in fruit; I never found but this one plant, and being the only glaucous species of the genus it looked very peculiar. I visited this one shrub subsequently on 2–3 occasions, and always brought away specimens: Sir J. Hooker has named it V. Colensoi. Towards evening my dog caught a fine fat Weka, in its crop were the fruits of several species of Panax,—probably P. simplex, P. Colensoi, and P. Sinclairii, which grow in these forests. The Beech trees (Fagus Solandri) of the more exposed parts of those alpine woods were of very peculiar growth,—low, depressed, and gnarled, with spreading thick leafy branches, often interlacing and desperately tough, which greatly increased our difficulty in getting through them. Several species of the Coprosma genus here abounded,—particularly C. C. acutifolia, parviflora, cuneata, microcarpa, and linariifolia, and also fœtidissima the species which Forster first found, and which from its very strong smell caused him to give the genus its appropriate name, this last species however was more abundant lower down in the more open forests of the large-leaved Fagus—F. ?fusca. A new species of Myrsine (M. montana) [55] I also found here, it is a small shrub closely resemblmg M. divaricata1089 of A. Cunningham. Another species or variety of Dracophyllum (D. Urvilleanum, var. d), and a stout shrubby species of Senecio (S. eleagnifolius), and a much smaller species, S. Bidwillii, I also detected here. On an open exposed ridge I fell in with several plants of a species of Dacrydium, 12–14 feet high, growing together and almost in a row, these bore a very peculiar appearance from their whitish bark being densely covered with foliaceous Lichens (mostly Parmelia), and their bearing two kinds of leaves; the plant, moreover, was not common; I always visited these trees whenever I passed this way, but was never successful in getting good fruiting specimens. I also noticed several small trees of Libocedrus Bidwillii, growing thickly together. One solitary tree, about 20 feet high, of this same species, I afterwards found much lower down in open ground, but was also with this disappointed, although I purposely visited it at different times of the year. There is scarcely any similarity in general appearance between this plant and the elegant plumose L. Doniana of the N. That beautiful species of Cordyline (C. Banksii) with its long leaves (5–7 feet) and white berries grew here in the drier stony woods,—and with it, plentifully, its closely allied congener, a graceful red-flowered Astelia;1090 while the still more imposing plant, Cordyline indivisa, flourished a little lower down and mostly on the edges of thickets.—

Another curious incident occurred, in my travelling through these forests some years after this: we had just emerged from a heavy belt of forest, and were sitting down in the open outside in the sun, resting awhile before we proceeded; one of my baggage bearers, who had a short hard-wood spear, kept poking it into the earth, when suddenly he felt something under his spear different from a root or wood, he proceeded to disinter it, and there, under at least a foot of soil, was a very handsome though small green-stone axe! its bevelled edge was very regular and quite perfect. I might have had it but I did not then care about it.—

A Fern, a species of Hymenophyllum, which I found epiphytically on a tree at the entrance of a thicket, greatly pleased me, as I had not met with it before. It grew in great plenty on that one tree, and I brought away from it on several occasions many specimens. Sir J. Hooker has, I find, placed it under the old [56] and well-known fern H. unilaterale,1091 but, to me, it appears wonderfully distinct. I have never met with this fern anywhere else

26th. We rose this morning from our uncomfortable beds—or lairs without any dressing! and stiff and hungry we started from our bivouac with a tolerably good will before 6 o’clock. The morning, however, was intolerably cold, and the fog very heavy—a true Scotch mist this time!—settling on the thickly leaved shrubs, through which we had to force our way, and so wetting us to the skin. Do what we would we could not get warm, as we could not get along fast enough, and the sun was still on the other side of the range. Onwards and upwards we toiled in silence for four hours, until we reached our well-known E. peak on the summit—Te Atua-o-mahuru!1092 (seen prominently from Hawke’s Bay,) whence the extensive prospect to the East was again, as on the former occasion, obscured. This culminating peak of this part of the range has since been better known to the Maoris by the name of Te Taumata-a-Neho (i.e. Colenso’s summit, or pass), from the fact of my having both crossed it and made a track that way into the interior, as well as from the circumstance of our always halting there, going and returning, and offering up both prayer and praise. Although I have crossed this range several times, travelling both E. and W., only on one occasion had I a clear view of the whole E. side and extensive horizon,—recalling forcibly to memory the old familiar view from the Land’s-end in England, with the Scilly Isles in the distance, and Sir H. Davy’s expressive lines on that place:—

———– “far beyond,
Where the broad ocean mingles with the sky,
Are seen the cloud-like islands, grey in mists.”—

The distant prospect being generally dull and obscured through misty exhalations arising from the low-lands and swamps and forests beneath; and yet the mountains, seen from below, and being projected in bold relief against the sky, appear commonly clear and well-defined,—“robed in their azure hue.”

A curious little event happened this morning, when near the summit: I was ahead of my party with my dog, and we were crossing a narrow stony ridge, a kind of saddle between two peaks, when striking my foot against a thick withered tussock of grass, two rats started out! no doubt rudely awakened out [57] of their slumbers. My dog caught one and killed it, the other got off; they were the common English rat—here at this altitude on those barren peaks!1093 Another highly curious circumstance is worth mentioning. In ascending early this morning through an open part of the forest on the S. slope of a spur where the Beech trees (Fagus Solandri) were tall and young, growing up thickly and straight like saplings or poplars, we suddenly came on a lot which were abruptly bent down to the earth in a kind of a row from about 5–6 feet above the ground,—looking like a long green half-roof of a house, or the roof of a “lean- to”! they were all living, thickly branched and very leafy, and their tops were all again ascending from the earth like very young trees. Tired hungry and thirsty as we were, we all stood in amazement at this sight, and myself and natives with their backloads walked under this living sloping roof for several yards, only stooping our heads a little. We found, on examination, that all those trees had had their trunks half-broken—twisted splintered and bruised—at the angle of inclination, and the conclusion we came to was, that it was done through the heavy mass of snow which had been deposited on their thick tops and branches becoming frozen together, and so in a gale bringing them down into the position in which we found them. It was truly a curious living sight. I saw them again some two years after, and again walked under them, when they were much the same, but not so regular nor so clear underneath.—

To return:—Here on the open sunny summits, we were greatly in want of water, which we had not tasted since noon yesterday; we had diligently searched about for it in all the hollows and snow-runs on the table-tops as we came along, but in vain! a few drops from a bunch of wet moss in a hole was all I could obtain, but that was precious. After resting a while on the crest of the mountain, and offering up our usual thanksgiving,—for

——– “On mountains and in vales he taught
To adore the Invisible, and Him alone:”—

we determined to push on to our old three-nights encampment at Te Wai-o-kongenge in the forest on the E. side, where we knew we should find water; so continuing our journey we reached that place by 1p.m;, all hands quite weary and faint for want of water. To add to our distress we could not find any at our old pool and spring! which were both dry, but by searching further down the mountain’s side we luckily found some. The welcome shout of “Water!” by the lucky finder, after the first dispiriting announcement of none! went through us like an electric thrill, and having drank and drank again we proceeded to get our breakfast—which included, also, both supper and dinner of the preceding day. Feeling much too tired and listless to look about me while our meal was preparing, I sat and mused, with my back against a tree,—for once a kind of Lotos-eater!—enjoying [58]

—“the wild odour of the forest flowers
The music of the living grass and air,
The emerald light of leaf-entangled beams—
Which drowns the sense.”——

I should not omit to mention, that on my way down the mountain from the summit, I discovered a plant which I believed to be a new species of Podocarpus, and therefore named it P. Cunninghamii, (after my dear old friend and early Botanist in N.Z. Allan Cunningham, who first described P. Totara,)—its leaves and male amentæ with the squamulæ at their bases were very much larger than those of P. Totara, and the amentæ were also on long peduncles; its bark, too, was semi-papery, more like that of some large specimens of Fuchsia excorticata, and not at all resembling the bark of P. Totara. I subsequently found a small tree of it again in this same forest, but, as before, only having male flowers. I have little doubt of its being a distinct species. The natives call it Totara-kiri-kotukutuku.1094 We resumed our journey at 2 p.m., not daring to tarry; gained the bed of the river by 5, and travelled sturdily on until 7 p.m., (for the last hour in comparative darkness,) when we halted in the shingly sides of the river’s bed;—rejoicing that our difficulties were now over, and that we had really succeeded at last in crossing the Ruahine!—

27th. Last night we all slept soundly, lulled by the murmuring stream: for

————— “this ravine


Was now invested with fair flowers and herbs,
And haunted by sweet airs and sounds, which flow
Among the woods and waters. Fare Ye Well!”

Rose early this morning, breakfasted by daylight and started. All agreeing to travel steadily on all day without halting. We did so, rather moodily, and just managed to get quit of the river and the woods by daylight, still keeping on for an hour and half after sunset, when we halted on the N. edge of Te Ruataniwha plain, well tired and worn with our very long day’s march, in which we had waded the main river more than a 100 times.

28th, Sunday. This we made a day of rest, as we greatly needed it. Everything very quiet around. Had two meals to-day of boiled rice. Natives slept the greater part of the day leaving me to my meditations. None of us knowing anything of the country between this place and Waipukurau, and there not being any track hence to that village, we determined to-morrow to keep in the stony bed of the river (Waipawa), until we should strike the maori track1095 leading from Patangata to that place,—which we knew.

March 1st. Left at 6 a.m., all in good spirits; by 11 o’clock we had [59] gained the said pathway, where we halted to cook the small remainder of our rice for breakfast. Our meal over we continued our journey to Waipukurau, reaching it by 2 p.m., all hands there being very glad to see us; some of them having given us up, not hearing anything of us.—

2nd. Morning prayers, schools, and breakfast over, I married the 9 young couples, who were here awaiting my arrival; at noon I left for Patangata.

3rd. Left Patangata for the Mission Station at Waitangi, reaching it in safety by sunset, and found all well. Laus Deo.



And now for a few further remarks on the peculiar Botany of the higher western sides, and of the summits of the range, not observed on the former occasion.—

In the open ground, on two or three mound-like hills of peaty-looking soil, and near each other, on the W. side, grew that remarkably fine RanunculusR. insignis. On my discovering it I was astonished at its size,—its largest golden flowers being nearly 2 inches in diameter, its flowering stems 3–4 feet high, and some of its round crenated leaves measuring 8–9 inches across! Both Sir Jos. Hooker. and his father were equally surprised and delighted, and as it was (then) by far the largest species known, Sir J. Hooker gave it that appropriate specific name—insignis. I only found it in that locality, but it was in great plenty; its principal neighbour was the notorious Taramea plant (Aciphylla Colensoi,) already fully noticed; and those splendid compositaceous plants Celmisia spectabilis and C. incana, which generally grew close together, forming large dark-green shining patches and bearing a profusion of fine white flowers— a striking contrast to their leaves. At first sight I saw that this new Ranunculus was closely allied to R. pinguis, of Lord Auckland’s group and Campbell’s Island,—then lately described in the Flora Antarctica, of which work I had received an early part just before I left the Station. Other plants of those far-off Antarctic Islets were also found here, on the summits; notably Oreobolus pumilio, growing in dense tufts in exposed places; while the peculiar straggling Cyathodes empetrifolia, and the pretty little flowering plants, Euphrasia antarctica and Myosotis antarctica, flourished in half—sheltered hollows, with Plantago Brownii and the Grass Catabrosa antarctica. With these last also grew, very closely intermixed (much as we have seen the Daisies and Buttercups among low turfy grasses in our English meadows,) the curious plant Drapetes Dieffenbachii; the little elegant Ourisia cæspitosa abounding in flowers; a very small and new species of Plantago (P. uniflora); and a similar-sized Botanical novelty Astelia linearis,—a tiny plant bearing a large orange-coloured fruit; a little Caltha (C. Novæ Zealandiæ,) having pale star-like flowers; two graceful Gentians (G. montana and G. pleurogynoides); and a very small shrubby prostrate Coprosma (C. pumila); together with several little elegant shrubby Veronicæ— which I have formerly mentioned.—Two Orchideous plants, Pterostylis foliata, and Caladenia bifolia (of which I wished for better specimens,) I also detected [60] growing sparingly; and with them a couple of Carices, C. acicularis, and C. inversa; and, also, two species of Uncinia,— U. divaricata, and U. filiformis;— and with them several interesting Hepaticæ and Mosses.—Only in one or two spots, in shady sheltered places near the top and just within the forest, did I meet with that pretty little plant Ourisia Colensoi,—but in those spots there were plenty of them, and always beautifully in flower; the plants of this species grew apart, as if they liked room; in this respect differing altogether from the other species of this genus I have seen. With them were always associated the mute little brown bird with a white head, as if they were the guardian wood-nymphs of those shady bowers!—this bird I have mentioned in Paper I., p. 27.

“Oh! there are curious things of which man know


As yet but little! secrets lying hid
Within all natural objects. Be they shells,
Which ocean flingeth forth from off her billows
On the low sand; or flowers, or trees, or grasses,
Covering the earth; rich metals, or bright ores,
Beneath the surface. He who findeth out
Those secret things hath a fair right to gladness;
For he hath well-performed, and doth awake
Another note of praise on Nature’s harp
To hymn her great Creator.”———–

I have yet to mention a few other Alpine plants peculiar to the table-land on the topmost summit,—the barest and bleakest spot! these I have reserved till last, as requiring extra notice, and though dissimilar, as to Order and Genera, I have here brought them together, because they are all found only on the most exposed peaks,—all of very low growth,— and all were only seen in curious isolated patches, tufts, or hemispherical shaped cushions closely compacted together;—each species of plant apart entirely to itself in its own tuft or patch, and never intermixed in growth with other plants,—like those others already mentioned were: by which natural means, I suppose, they manage to keep their hold in the ground. There they were on the hard dry summit clinging to the soil,—in summer exposed to the heat of the sun and to the fierce winds which must often sweep over those peaks,—and in the winter to be deeply buried for some months in the snow. (1) Raoulia grandiflora, a very small Compositaceous plant growing in dense tufts or patches, and bearing a pretty white flower. (2) Helophyllum Colensoi, a curious plant, closely allied to the unique genus Forstera,—and still more closely allied to a species of this new genus, discovered by Sir J. Hooker in Lord Auckland’s group and Campbell’s Island, this plant also takes the form of an elegant large cushion, being closely and evenly impacted together, bearing its white starry flowers upright against the sky peering forth from its tiny moss-like leaves at the tips of its little branches! a truly Alpine-looking plant.1096 (3) A Juncaceous plant, scarcely an [61] inch high! Luzula Colensoi, also assumes dumpy hemispherical tufts or cushions. (4) A little gem of a Restiaceous plant, much like a pale-green moss in appearance, and less than an inch in height, Alepyrum pallidum, is another that forms large densely spreading patches; this, also, was discovered by Sir J. Hooker in the far-off Campbell’s Island. (5) A Carex which, strangely enough, is said to be identical with a well-known species of Europe and N. America, (C. Pyrenaica,)—this plant is found growing together as a thick turf closely around snow-holes and snow-runs. (6) Pentachondra pumila (a plant originally discovered by Forster,) densely covers exposed lumps and knobs of earth with its peculiar living mat of handsome purple-green heath-like foliage and branches, that throng and grow over each other, its elegant carmine berries of a large size for the plant, which here and there peep from beneath, are of a peculiar oval form (not unlike the fruit of Rosa canina) and hollow like a bladder (resembling the bladders of some species of Sargassum = sea-weeds), with 5 little tiny seeds, or nuts (pyrenes), stuck round on the inside,—whence its generic name. These fruits are mostly hidden underneath its numerous small moss-like leaves; like the crimson fruits of the several other shrubby plants of similar low and prostrate growth, and only found at high altitudes, and there in the bleakest spots, viz. Podocarpus nivalis, Dacrydium laxifolium, Gaultheria antipoda (var.), Cyathodes empetrifolia, &c. I had long looked out for this plant, and was much gratified in finding it; but its flowers, being excessively small and insignificant and having a withered dingy appearance, much disappointed me.—

On one occasion I crossed this range in December, about Christmas,—and to my surprise found the snow lying still deep in the hollows on the top and on the W. side; in some places it was more than 6 feet deep, for I sent my long travelling spear down into it and could not touch the soil; it was frozen, however, on the surface, and was tolerably firm under the foot. It was also melting fast, the water running down all around its edges; and the heat was great in the sun, a kind of warm steam arising from it. But what struck me most of all, was to see the delicate flowers of the plants beneath (Drapetes, Veronica, Cyathodes, &c.,) emerging from the snow with a little gentle spring and with perfect petals! It was a pretty—aye! a wondrous sight,—to see the open flowers springing up through the melting snow! Reminding one of a portion of Southey’s “Thalaba”,—(that wondrous flower-garden in the snow,)—and of Coleridge’s “Hymn in the Valley of Chamouni,”—

“Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost,” &c.

There is yet another curious plant that I should like to mention—to call attention to; not that it is confined to those high woods, for it (or a closely allied species) was formerly pretty common throughout N.Z. in the damp shady forests, but always scattered; and I have good reasons for believing that it is gradually becoming more scarce—like many other of our native plants. It [62] is an Orchid, a species of Gastrodia, a small genus peculiar to N. Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania, and the E. Indian isles. It is leafless, and has a strange appearance, reminding one at first sight of the larger British species of Orobanche (Broom rape).

Leafless, however, and rapid, up darts the slenderer flower-stalk,
And a wonderful picture attracts the observer’s eye.1097

Its root, a tolerably large cylindrical tuber, is perennial; its single scaly and spotted flower-stem is 2 feet and more high, stout, erect, and bears several pretty large and peculiar bizarre flowers. The root was eaten by the old Maoris, together with the tubers of other congenerous terrestrial Orchids,—Pterostylis, Thelymitra, Orthoceras, &c. (Much like those of several British Orchids,— as Orchis mascula, &c., from whose tubers the nutritious salep of commerce is obtained.) A chief reason with me for mentioning this Ruahine forest plant, is, that I have good reasons for believing it may prove to be a different species from the Northern one, Gastrodia Cunninghamii, Hook., fil.,—which A. Cunningham its discoverer supposed to be identical with the only Australian and Tasmanian species—G. sesamoides of Brown. This Ruahine plant being taller (2 ft. 9 in.), and much larger in all its parts than the Northern one, and bears many more flowers, 80–86, on its longer raceme of 15 inches. And though I have more than once met with it in the lower mountain woods, it had always past flowering with withered perianths.

I have already mentioned a peculiar looking peak, or spur, on the top of the Ruahine range, running in a Northerly direction (when viewed from Matuku), and called, To Papakiakuutaa.1098 On every journey of mine to and from Patea, I had always been desirous of visiting that strange-looking outlying spur; and one year (probably 1850) I managed to do so. On that occasion of returning from Patea, I had arranged that we should sleep at our “stone snow-well” in the alpine forest,—that being the nearest place to the said spur that we could “camp at” on our way back to Hawke’s Bay without losing much time. We did so. Early the next morning we were on the move, and when we got to the W. summit, I, for the first time told my party what I was going to do,— to visit alone Te Papakiakuutaa. For a long time they strongly objected to my plan,—for them to proceed from where we then were some 2–3 miles on to the “camping-place” on the E. side of the peak, where I would rejoin them at evening,—they preferring to remain and wait for me where we then were, which I would not allow. At last I got them to leave me,—I privately telling my trusty native among them, that if I did not appear by sun-down, he was to come as far as the “two slips” to meet me. Taking my dog with me I went on: it [63] was a gloriously fine day, the sun was melting; ere long the course without trees or high shrubs was more difficult than I had expected owing to the snow rifts in the earth and the boulders; and when, after several hours’ toil, I got to the spur and mounted on it, to my great astonishment I found that all the upper part of that huge rampart was wholly composed of loose rocks and stones without any earth or clay between! It was a singular spot; no living thing was there, save a few common small lizards (Mocoa) basking on the black rocks in the sun, which (unlike Darwin’s at the Galapagos,) scuttled off pretty fast on seeing me,—though they, in all probability, had never before seen a man. Not even a plant grew on it, and my dog finding he could not well get up on it, staid behind and howled! I walked some distance over the top, though every step required caution as the stones were loose; I never saw anything natural like it before; it seemed more like a place of Cyclopean art, and together with the extreme solitude caused many strange thoughts to arise,—to which the finding of that green-stone axe,—and also the peculiar, almost regular, formation of the earth I had noticed in one of the dry forests in the neighbourhood lower down, as if anciently cut into ramparts and fosses (though now overgrown with fine trees of the large-leaved Fagus,) contributed their share. The prospect inland was very extensive; no doubt with a glass the people of Matuku could have seen me standing there in bold relief against the sky. I staid there a while, musing:—

“How divine,


The liberty, for frail, for mortal man
To roam at large among unpeopled glens
And mountainous retirements;
—–————regions consecrate
To oldest time! and, reckless of the storm,
Be as a presence or a motion there.”

The day was now fast waning, and I left the dike to return; when suddenly I became faint, and I found my strength failing me fast. I sat down and deliberated; soon after my dog came up, wet, and covered with red vegetable mud; I tracked to where he had been bathing in a small snow-water pool, between two small hills, the water in which was quite warm, almost hot, and red, and thick with decaying vegetable matter, which had been just stirred up by the dog; I strained, or squeezed, some through my handkerchief and drank, and bathed my head and face. By-and-by I proceeded, but before I got on to the open and clear table-land of the top the sun went down, and it soon became nearly dark; still the travelling was pretty good there on those flat tops, only now and then stumbling, through haste and hunger, over low tussocks and mounds and boulder stones. It grew still darker, and the place was fast becoming enveloped in night clouds, when suddenly a dark form appeared just before me, and my dog barked and stood! it was my trusty native, who, having become alarmed at [64] my non-appearance and long absence, had left the encampment and the “two slips”, in quest of me; in two hours more,—after crawling slowly along, literally feeling one’s way, as we could not now walk fast owing to the darkness, and passing the two dreaded slips without difficulty, the ground there being dry,— we got to my party, who had long sat in great fear and superstitious dread, that they had had no supper! I gained very little indeed in Botany that day; nothing whatever of importance.—

As I have said so much (incidentally) respecting the isolated natives of Patea, a few words in conclusion may not be deemed out of place. They all received Christian Instruction very readily, and soon learned to read, and several of them to write. I visited them again before that year (1847) was ended, (after having made two journeys to Cook’s Straits—beyond Wellington—and back,) and several times also during the following year. A few of my Maori Teachers also visited them; and in due time they were nearly all received into the Church by Baptism. Those villages, however, have long been deserted for more eligible places, where they can dwell with their horses and stock.—

“Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches


Dwells another race, with other customs and language.”

Several of those natives, or their descendants, are now settled with their relative the chief Renata, at Omahu, Hawke’s Bay.

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways.”
Mort d’Arthur. Tennyson.

And now, with a few expressive and feeling lines from Wordsworth, I will close my long narration:—



“Though, changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I went among those hills;—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love.— And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky; and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.”——
Tintern Abbey. Wordsworth. [65]


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