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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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Of the Canoes and Navigation of New Zealand


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Of the Canoes and Navigation of New Zealand (continued)

One or more persons, thus distinguished, always appeared in each canoe, when they came to attack us, according to the size of it. When they came within about a cable’s length of the ship, they used to stop, and the Chiefs rising from their seat, put on a dress which seemed appropriated to the occasion, generally of dog’s skin, and holding out their decorated staff, or a weapon, directed the rest of the people what they should do. When they were at too great a distance to reach us with a lance or a stone, they presumed that we had no weapon with which we could reach them; here then the defiance was given, and the words were almost universally the same, Haromai, haromai, harre uta a Patoo-Patoo oge: "Come to us, come on shore, and we will kill you all with our Patoo-Patoos." While they were uttering these menaces they came gradually nearer and nearer, till they were close alongside; talking at intervals in a peaceable strain, and answering any questions that we asked them; and at intervals renewing their defiance and threats, till being encouraged by our apparent timidity, they began their war-song and dance, as a prelude to an attack, which always followed, and was sometimes continued till it became absolutely necessary to repress them by firing some small-shot; and sometimes ended after throwing a few stones on board, as if content with having offered us an insult which we did not dare to revenge.

The war-dance consists of a great variety of violent motions, and hideous contortions of the limbs, during which the countenance also performs its part: the tongue is frequently thrust out to an incredible length, and the eye-lids so forcibly drawn up that the white appears both above and below, as well as on each side of the iris, so as to form a circle round it; nor is any thing neglected that can render the human shape frightful and deformed: at the same time they brandish their spears, shake their darts, and cleave the air with their Patoo-Patoos. This horrid dance is always accompanied by a song; it is wild indeed, but not disagreeable, and every strain ends in a loud and deep sigh, which they utter in concert. In the motions of the dance, however horrid, there is a strength, firmness, and agility, which we could not but behold with admiration; and in their song they keep time with such exactness, that I have often heard above an hundred paddles struck against the sides of their boats at once, so as to produce but a single sound, at the divisions of their music.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 467 - 468, 2004
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