Oceana: Or, England and Her Colonies

By James Anthony Froude | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XVIII

Sir George Grey's Island--Climate--House--Curiosities--Sir George's views on Cape politics--His hobbies--Opinions on federation--Island retainers--Their notion of liberty--Devotion to their employer-- Birds and animals--expedition into the interior--A Maori dining- hall--Sharkfishing--Caught in a storm--Run for the mainland--A New Zealand farm and its occupants--End of visit to Sir George-- Auckland society--ProfessorAldis--General impression on the state of New Zealand--Growth of state debt and municipal debt--Seeming approach of war--Party government.

KAWAU, or Shag Island, lies at the mouth of the Hauraki Gulf, four miles from the mainland and about thirty in a direct line from Auckland. It is one of a considerable group which lie scattered along the east coast. Outside it is the Great Barrier Island--a mountain with a serrated back, rising three thousand feet out of the sea, and serving as a breakwater against the ocean swell.

Long, wooded headlands project from the shores of the gulf, which holds Kawau in its arms. The climate is soft as in Southern Italy; oranges grow freely in the gardens, and rare flowering shrubs from South America or Japan. The sea is the purest blue, and the air moist and balmy, tempered with the moderate rain, which is enough always and rarely excessive. The bays swarm with fish, and--to take the evil with the good--swarm also with the sharks that prey on them; but even the sharks here are fit for Maori's food, or for manure for the vegetables and fruit-trees. Weekly steamers from Auckland ply among the inlets, making the circuit of various stations before they reach Kawau, and end the day

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