Oceana: Or, England and Her Colonies

By James Anthony Froude | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII.

Ohinemutu again--Visitors--A Maori village--An old women and her portrait--Mokoia island--The inhabitants--Maori degeneracy--Return to Auckland--Rumours of war with Russia--Wars of the future --Probable change in their character.

THE time of our stay at Ohinemutu depended on Sir George Grey. He had held out hopes of showing us the Maori monarch. He was to let us know whether he could come up, and when. We found no letter from him as we expected, and E-----, who wished to see the utmost possible in the four weeks allowed us, was a little impatient. However we settled to remain a day or two longer. We had not half seen the immediate neighbourhood. I for myself could be very happy, poking about among the springs and the native huts, and doing amateur geology and botany. The river of tourists was flowing full as ever. There had been thirty-five new arrivals at our single hotel during our brief absence. They were mainly Australians on an excursion trip, and I found that I had already met several of them at Melbourne or Sydney. The natives, when observed more at leisure, were not so absolutely inactive. There is a small fish in the lake like whitebait, which multiplies preternaturally in the tepid water, especially as there is nothing there to eat it. The men net them in millions, spread them out on mats in the sun to dry them, and infect seriously, for the time being, the sweetness of the atmosphere. I was anxious to see a little more of the people, and, if I could, at some spot where they were not, as in Ohinemutu, artificially maintained in idleness.

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