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



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[256] couple of specimens of each species, and these, too, hastily gathered and put up dripping wet, to the very great astonishment of my natives. Proceeding on, I found, in more open situations, a pretty little Irideal plant (perhaps Libertia micrantha, A. Cunn., or a n.sp.) growing most profusely, reminding me, in the distance, of the “daisied meads” of my father’s land. Ascending still higher, in pelting rain, I discovered a handsome species of Viola, bearing a large white flower with orange-coloured throat, and very fragrant smell. I hastily removed this interesting plant from its mossy bed to the bosom of my cloak, now nearly as wet as the bank where it originally grew. Growing with it I found a small Epilobium with axillary inflorescence. I had fondly hoped to have fallen in with a specimen of that rare, and hitherto little known, bird, Neomorpha crassirostris (the Huia of the natives), in this locality; having understood that they were found in these parts. The name, too, of the mountain, Huiarau (i.e. hundred Huias), had not a little increased my expectations. I was, however, disappointed; the incessant rain preventing my seeing anything but what lay just before me. This bird only inhabits the mountainous districts of the southern part of this island. It is said to be small, black, and slender, its tail feathers being long and broad, tipped with white. These feathers are much valued by the natives, as ornaments for their hair. I obtained from Te Kaniatakirau, chief of Uawa, a Huia feather from his hair, on leaving that place. In this locality I secured specimens of several plants of the Coprosma genus, all small shrubs from three to five feet in height. A small divaricate shrub without fruit, but apparently a species of Myrsine; and a fine epiphytical [257] Lycopodium, with terminal spikes of fructification, attracted my attention; in habit and growth, this latter plant much resembles L. Flagellaria, Hook., of which species it may possibly prove a variety. A small aromatic-leaved tree, with black bark, apparently belonging to the Natural Order Winteraceæ, I also discovered, and got good specimens of. A beautiful and delicately white Lichen, here grew on the trees, causing, in some situations, a very striking effect. The densely wooded mountains over which I this day passed, were chiefly composed of sand-stone, which shewed itself in various stages of decomposition, in the very many slips in their sides. In descending one of these gorges (which required in some places no little caution; for, on one occasion in particular, the native who carried my box of testaments, &c., slipped his foot and went—sliding away—until he was staid by a friendly tree, fortunately without receiving any injury; the box, however, was knocked to pieces with the violence of the concussion), I found a small glaucous glabrous species of Pteris (P.montanum, n.sp., W.C.), in affinity near P. Brunoniana, Endl. A smaller variety of Polypodium sylvaticum (already noticed), I also obtained in this district. After a silent and persevering march of some hours through the very cold rain (for in threading our tortuous way through the endless mazes of a pathless forest, in such weather as we now experienced, we found it impossible to keep ourselves warm), we began to shiver with cold, and determined on halting at the first sheltered spot. By the side of a rivulet at the bottom of a hill we found a deserted hovel; which, though open on all sides, offered us better shelter from the pitiless rain than we had expected to find in such a place. We [258] repaired our hut with tufts of the different Carices that grew hard by, and pitched my tent, and, throwing off our dripping garments and kindling a fire, we endeavoured to make ourselves as comfortable as we could in our present circumstances. Fortunately we had a few potatoes with us, which, not knowing how long this weather might continue, we divided una voce into three small portions, so as to afford us two meals for the morrow. The rain continuing to descend in torrents, swelled our little rivulet to a large stream, causing me to fear that the little level spot on its banks, on which we were now encamped, would soon be overflowed.

Day-break this morning found us much the same as day-light last evening left us—with water on every side. The past night was one not likely to be soon forgotten. The heavy rain and rattling hail which unceasingly poured down—the vivid lightnings and hollow sounding thunder reverberating awfully in never-ending echoes among the hills—the angry winds which furiously rushed in fitful roaring blasts through the ancient forests, rocking and creaking and lashing the monarchs of centuries as so many saplings of a year, stripping their “leafy honours” and cracking off their branches hurled them to the earth—the hooting of owls and shrieking of parrots, which flew affrightedly about seeking shelter—all united to declare, in a voice too plain to be misunderstood, the great commotion Nature was undergoing; fit knell for the departing year. The bard might, indeed, truly say—

“A thunder storm! the eloquence of heaven,
When every cloud is from its slumber riven;
Who hath not paused beneath its hollow groan.
And felt Omnipotence around him thrown?
How stirs the spirit while the echoes roll,
And God, in thunder, rocks from pole to pole !”
Montg. Omnip. of Deity, part 1. [259]

The morning was most gloomy, the rain still incessantly poured, and our cold, wet, lonely, and starving situation was anything but pleasant; when, as if we wanted somewhat more to taste of the very acme of cheerlessness, our only guide deserted us, returning to Waikare! He had intimated enough last evening to lead me to suspect him, and I had kept a watch over him, but he easily found an opportunity of leaving us. My other natives were all from distant parts of the island, and knew no more of this neighbourhood than I did. We were now in a dilemma; to go back to Waikare, was, from there being no proper path, not a whit easier journey than to go forward to the next village. The weather, however, confined us to our rude shelter, under which I, clad in light summer clothing, shiveringly sat, holding an old umbrella ever my head! Towards evening the weather moderated, and I ventured to walk a few yards among the half-drowned vegetation on the banks of the river. Here, I obtained a fine specimen of a small but handsome shrub, belonging to one of the genera Haxtonia, or. Brachyglottis. At night, rain still pouring down, I called the natives to council, to consider what we had better do in this our exigency; so we unanimously agreed, “rain or shine,” to proceed on our journey to-morrow morning, trusting somehow or other to find our way—a determination to which we were compelled through hunger, having consumed our last scanty meal.



1842. January 1st.—Early this morning the rain ceased; but, as the heavy clouds still shrouded the face of heaven, it was just as wet from the dripping trees and rank vegetation around us in these deep valleys and dark forests, as if it was still raining. We [260] commenced our wet and cold march sans breakfast, with perhaps a more hearty will than if we had sumptuously fared. We kept by the banks of the little stream, which we crossed and re-crossed repeatedly, making our walk very unpleasant. Here, in these deep secluded glens, I discovered a new and unique species of Lomaria (L. heterophylla, W.C.), some of whose immense pinnatifid fronds measured near three feet in length. Here, also, I discovered a large, climbing, and peculiar species of Aspidium (A. Cunninghamianum, n.sp., W.C.), differing much from all other species of Aspidiæ that have come under my notice. This is the largest climbing fern yet detected in New Zealand; some fronds measuring near three feet in length. I dedicated this plant in memory of that very zealous botanist, my much-lamented friend,, the late Allan Cunningham, Esq. In this locality I obtained another species of Hymenophyllum (H. villosum, n.sp., W.C.), which was epiphytical on reclining trees, and, a beautiful long-fronded and pendulous Moss (Hookeria pennata ?), whose long diaphanous fronds of 6- inches grew horizontally and solitarily from the sides of ravines, in these damp woods; I could only detect one specimen bearing capsules. I gathered specimens of several other Mosses and Jungermanniæ, which appeared to be new. About noon, to our very great surprise, our runaway guide overtook us, bearing a large basket of fine potatoes on his shoulders, for which he had purposely gone back all the way to Waikare in that heavy rain, in order that we might not suffer from hunger. I could but esteem and applaud the man’s kind consideration, whilst I disapproved of his leaving of us in the manner he did, without saying a word as to the object of his [261] returning.118 At 2 p.m.we arrived at Ruatahuna, a small village, surrounded on all sides by dense forests, where we were hospitably received. The natives soon cooked us some potatoes, on which we made a very hearty meal. Several of the natives of this village were engaged in making and carving poukakas, i.e. parrot-stands; which they use in catching the large brown New Zealand parrot (Plyctolophus Meridionalis). These birds, which are very numerous in these woods, are decoyed, by means of a tame one fastened to a perch, to alight on the snare-like poukaka, when they are instantly seized by the native who is concealed for that purpose. They are fond of taming these birds, which if taken young will soon talk, but. they are very mischievous, and their bite is hard. Their body is a dark-russet-brown colour, with red feathers under the throat and wings. These red feathers are in great request for ornamenting their hanis, i.e. carved-headed staffs, which they use as weapons of defence. The flesh of this parrot is dry and lean, but is eaten by the natives, who call it, Kaka. That little black pest, the sand-fly, was here in countless swarms; owing, I suppose, to the sandy nature of the soil. I never before [262] noticed them in such numbers at any place away from the immediate coast, to the sandy shores of which they are generally confined. Their bite is most virulent just before and after rain. The natives call them, Namu.

At this village I remained for three days, busily engaged with the natives. On the fourth I again resumed my journey. At first, my route lay over high and steep hills, clothed with forests to their summits, which having gained, I descended to a deep valley, where ran a rapid brawling stream of from two to three feet in depth. By the banks of this river, among gigantic ferns and underwood, decaying logs and fallen trees, we travelled on, every now and then crossing the stream, which we certainly did more than fifty times! This was by no means pleasant travelling, but there was no alternative. On the banks of this river I first obtained specimens of a fine arborescent fern, Dicksonia fibrosa, n.sp., W.C. This fern attains to the height of 18 feet. Its large and spreading living fronds measure from 6-9 feet in length; these, however, are generally few in number, and deciduous. Its caudex is composed of thick layers of fibres, resembling, at first sight, the fibrous interior of the husk of a cocoa-nut. In this locality, I also found a species of Myrtus, a small tree bearing orange-coloured juicy berries, growing to the height of 10–15 feet. The natives spread their blankets, or mats, under these trees, and shaking them, soon procure a quantity of fruit, which is very good eating. Each berry generally contains three reniform hard seeds. The natives call it Rohutu. Towards evening, we emerged from the dense forests, in which we had for some days been confined, to a large plain covered with fern, the first fern we had seen for several days. My natives rejoiced at [263] the sight, vociferating loudly their being privileged to see a “koraha maori” (indigenous fern-land, open country,) again! Their uncontrolled joy forcibly reminded me of the rejoicing of the “ten thousand” Greeks, on their again seeing the sea. In crossing this plain I obtained, from a boggy watercourse, a small plant with white flowers, probably a species of Limosella— a fine species of Marchantia—a Hydrocotyle—and a species of Hypericum This last appeared to me to be very distinct from H. pusillum, D’Cand.;119 this being a plant of erect growth, with oblong calyces, and oblong-ovate or obovate undulated and margined leaves. We halted this evening at Te Waiiti, a fenced village, situated on the banks of the river at the end of the plain. The bed of this stream (here large enough to float a moderate sized boat) was composed of ashes and other volcanic substances worn into pebbles.



The next morning we resumed our journey. Passing on through a low wood by the river’s side, I noticed several fine plants of Dicksonia fibrosa, their trunks grotesquely hewn by the natives into all manner of uncommon shapes, in cutting away their fibrous outside for the purpose of plank for their houses and stores. Discovered another Lomaria (L. deltoides, n.sp., W.C.) this morning, in ascending the first wooded hill after fording the river. This species approaches very closely in general appearance, L. deflexa, already noticed. In a damp forest I obtained fine specimens of my new Davallia, some fronds measuring 18 inches in length. [264] I only observed this elegant fern growing in two places during the whole of my journey; and not above half-a-dozen plants in either spot. Toiling up the barren and lofty hills before me, I found, near their summits, a species of yellow-flowered Compositæ, which I had not previously seen. These hills were composed of broken pumice and ashes. The sun was intensely hot, and the roads, in several places worn into deep and hollow gorges, were extremely dry and dusty; our feet, and even our ancles, being often buried in the loose and broken pumice through which we had to travel. Gaining the summit of the highest hill, the view was most extensive and striking. Immediately beneath meandered the Wirinaki, a bold brawling river, flowing quickly over its stony bed, and possessing water sufficient to float a moderate sized boat; beyond, were barren hills of all possible irregular shapes and heights; further still, an extensive plain extended E. and W. as far as the eye could reach; beyond which a chain of lofty table-topped hills bounded the range of vision; while here and there, far away in the extreme distance, several high and isolated mountains reared their barren heads above the horizon. On the left appeared Tauwara, a high mountain in the Taupo district; Paeroa, and Kaingaroa, near Rotorua, presented themselves in front; whilst, on the extreme right, Putauaki, the high mountain near Wakatane on the E. coast, upreared its two-peaked summit to the clouds. Here, notwithstanding the pleasurable height to which my imagination had been raised, whilst engaged in contemplating the magnificence and extent of the prospect before me, it soon sank below its ordinary level, on finding that not a human being dwelt in all that immense tract of country [265] on which my eager gaze then rested! The grass grew, the flowers blossomed, and the river rolled, but not for man! Solitude all!! Even the very little birds, few though they were in number, seemed to think with me; for they flew from spray to spray around and about my path with their melancholy “twit, twit,” as if wishing to have all they possibly could of the company of a passer-by. Their actions were quite in unison with my thoughts; and I feelingly exclaimed— “Oh! Solitude, where are thy charms,” &c. Descending to the banks of the river Wirinaki, I was rewarded with the discovery of a few new plants, among which were—two species of Epilobium, one of which was very beautiful, having its small linear and serrate leaves densely imbricated, and fruit alternately and longitudinally striated and striped with black stripes—a small shrubby Dracophyllum—and a very pretty little Polygonum, some plants being so small as not to exceed an inch in height, although bearing both flower and fruit! Proceeding on, over the long plain I had seen from the summit of the hill, I got specimens of some small ? Restiaceous plants, which, with Leucopogon Fraserii, and the minikin Polygonum already noticed, composed the vegetation of this very desolate and sterile spot. I think I never before saw so barren a plain as this; a truly “blasted heath;” or, in the nervous language of Holy Writ, “a parched place in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited.” Night was fast closing around us, and we quickened our pace, although excessively tired, in hopes of finding a few sticks, wherewith to kindle a fire, for none at present appeared within ken. After some time we found some small dry scrub (Leptospermum scoparium) on the bank of the river, where we bivouacked for the night. [266]

At a very early hour the next morning we re-commenced our journey. Crossing the rapid river Rangitaiki, at the end of the plain (which, at the fording-place, we found to be breast deep, and which we were obliged to cross in an oblique direction that we might not be swept down with its strong current), we travelled over a country more sterile, if possible, than that of yesterday. An interminable succession of dry and barren hills of broken lava, pumice, ashes, and other volcanic matter, where the stunted vegetation was all but quite burnt up with the exceeding heat of the sun’s rays, afforded but a very scanty gleaning to the botanist. I was, however, rewarded with a few new plants; among which were—a fine species of erect Cardamine, which I found at Mangamako, a little wood through which we passed—a graceful species of fragrant-scented Dracophyllum, a small shrub 2-4 feet in height; which grew sparingly in the little dells between the hills— and two curious and minute species of Compositæ, which grew in dense patches upon the dry and broken pumice. These interesting little plants were scarcely above an inch in height, presenting quite a unique appearance with their brown and hoary leaves closely imbricated and decussated, and terminal receptacles of yellow silky flowers. I had previously obtained (through a friend) specimens of one of these species, which was procured from a mountainous spot in the vicinity of Taupo; these I sent to Sir W.J. Hooker. Here, in these sultry hollows, the insect tribes were very numerous. Brilliant Libellulæ darted about in every direction. I captured one fine fellow, dappled with burnished gold, measuring nearly four inches in length; others, having filiform attenuated bodies, were carmine- [267] coloured, with elegantly disposed lozenge-shaped gold spots; whilst others were adorned with alternate stripes of black and ultra-marine. Of the beautiful genus Buprestis, too (or some very nearly allied genus), I gained several specimens; some of which were abundant on the fragrant Dracophyllum, allured, doubtless, by the scent and honey; the moment, however, you attempted to take one, down he would let himself drop as if dead. The greater number of the insects I obtained were quite new, and belonged to genera unknown to me.



Towards evening I arrived in the neighbourhood of the Rotorua Lakes. Crossing a deep bog, I discovered a very peculiar little leafless monopetalous plant growing in, or rather on, the surface of the mud. On nearing Rangiwakaaitu, the first and southernmost lake, I was much gratified with the truly lovely appearance of a very beautiful species of Leptospermum; a small tree of from 15 to 25 feet in height, which flourished here, growing in clumps and rows as if artificially planted. These trees were literally laden with a profusion of beautiful blossom, and, from there being no underwood about them, not so much as a tuft of grass, looked conspicuously charming. Another circumstance appeared to me as being singular, there not being any small or young plants of the species to be met with; all were old trees of many years growth. I say, old, because the Leptospermum is a slow-growing plant. Beneath them grew a curious woolly-looking white moss, which, though I sought assiduously, I could not detect bearing any fructification. We had arranged to make Tarawera (the second lake where some natives resided) our halting-place for this night, but, although we had nothing to eat, we were so excessively tired as to be [268] obliged to bring up on the white gravelled shores of the placid Rangiwakaaita. I offered my natives the choice of staying supperless where we were, or of proceeding on to Tarawera, distant about three miles, and there getting supper; fatigue, however, overcame hunger, even in a New Zealander, and they chose the latter. The whole face of the country in the neighbourhood of the lake, was overspread with massy blocks of compact lava scattered in every direction; many of which were vitrified on the surface. The ground gently rose on every side from the lake, which appeared to occupy a deep hollow; and, I could but venture to suppose, that this might perhaps have been the crater of that volcano, which, in some by-gone age, inundated the whole of the adjacent country with showers of pumice and ashes.

At an early hour the next morning we arose, feverish, stiff, and sore, to re-commence our march. We soon came within sight of the place where the hot-springs were situated; from which the steam and sulphureous vapours ascended in dense white clouds. The air, this morning, was cool and bracing; and, after travelling about an hour and a half we arrived at Tarawera Lake. Here, at a little village on its banks, we gained some potatoes, on which we breakfasted with a hearty zest. At this place, were several small hot springs, which flowed out of the earth near the edge of the lake; the water of some was hotter than the hand could bear. Just within the lake, the water was warm; a little further on, it was luke-warm; and further still, it was cold; so that these natives have baths, of every requisite degree of heat, always ready, without any trouble whatever. The water of the lake, I supposed to be specifically heavier than the sulphureous hot waters which [269] flowed into it; as, whenever the natives of the village wished to drink, I observed them to go into the lake, and dashing the uppermost water aside with their feet, quickly take up some from beneath; which, they said, was good and cold. The natives of the village informed me, that, at a spring on a hill at a little distance, the water was quite hot enough for the purposes of cooking, for which they often used it. Sulphur, too, abounded there, and was often “thrown up” out of the earth, from which place the steam and smoke ever ascended. My curiosity being excited, I, while breakfast was getting ready, set off with a native of the village as a guide to the boiling spring; but, after going up one steep hill and not perceiving any sign of the same, and being almost exhausted for want of food, hunger conquered curiosity and I returned to the village. I have often been surprised at the great carelessness which I have exhibited towards rare natural productions, when either over-fatigued or ravenously hungry; at such times, botanical, geological, and other specimens, which I have eagerly and with much pleasure collected and carefully carried for many a weary mile, have become quite a burden, and have been one-by-one abandoned; to be, however, invariably regretted afterwards. Breakfast ended, we, accompanied by the chief of the village, paddled nearly to the opposite side of the lake. This sheet of water is about three and a half miles in length, and from one to two miles in breadth; is surrounded on all sides by barren hills, and is very deep. Landing, and walking about two furlongs, we came to Kareha, another little lake much smaller than the preceding. Here, we were obliged to sit and wait some time before we could get a canoe, which having obtained, we

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