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Nor is there anything on record respecting the origin of the Maori people themselves, beyond the general tradition of the Polynesian race, which seems to show a series of successive migrations from west to east, probably by way of Malaysia to the Pacific. Little more can now be gathered from their traditions than that they were immigrants, and that they probably found inhabitants on the east coast of the North Island belonging to the same race as themselves—the descendants of a prior migration, whose history is lost.
The tradition runs that, generations ago, the Maoris dwelt in a country named Hawaiki, and that one of their chiefs, after a long voyage, reached the northern island of New Zealand. Returning to his home with a flattering description of the country he had discovered, this chief, it is said, persuaded a number of his kinsfolk and friends, who were much harassed by war, to set out with a fleet of double canoes for the new land. The names of most of the canoes are still remembered, and each tribe agrees in its account of the doings of the people of the principal canoes after their arrival in New Zealand; and from these traditional accounts the descent of the numerous tribes has been traced.
Calculations, based on the genealogical staves kept by the tohungas , or priests, and on the well-authenticated traditions of the people, indicate that about twenty-one generations have passed since the migration, which may therefore be assumed to have taken place about five hundred and twenty-five years ago.
The position of the legendary Hawaiki is unknown, but many places in the South Seas have been thus named in memory of the motherland. The Maoris speak a very pure dialect of the Polynesian language, the common tongue, with more or less variation, in all the eastern Pacific islands.
When Captain Cook first visited New Zealand he availed himself of the services of a Native from Tahiti, whose speech was easily understood by the Maoris. In this way much information respecting the early history of the country and its inhabitants was obtained which could not have otherwise been had. For results of recent researches as to probable origin and present numbers of the Maoris, see Year-book for These limits excluded small portions of the extreme north of the North Island and of the extreme south of Stewart Island.
By Proclamation bearing date the 21st July, , the Kermadec Islands, lying between the 29th and 32nd degrees of south latitude and the th and th degrees of west longitude, were declared to be annexed to and to become part of the Colony of New Zealand. By Proclamation bearing date the 10th June, , the Cook Group of islands, and all the other islands and territories situate within the boundary-lines mentioned in the following Schedule, were included in the Colony of New Zealand:—.
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The following now constitute the Colony of New Zealand:—. The island commonly known as the North Island, with its adjacent islets, having an aggregate area of 44, square miles, or 28,, acres. The island known as the Middle Island, with adjacent islets, having an aggregate area of 58, square miles, or 37,, acres. Stewart Island, and adjacent islets, having an area of square miles, or , acres.
The Chatham Islands, situate miles eastward of Lyttelton in the Middle Island, with an area of square miles, or , acres. The Auckland Islands, about miles south of Stewart Island, extending about 30 miles from north to south, and nearly 15 from east to west, the area being , acres. These are detached rocky islands, and extend over a distance of between 4 and 5 miles from north to south.
Area, 12, acres. The Bounty Islands, a small group of islets, thirteen in number, lying north of the Antipodes Islands, and about miles in an east-south-easterly direction from Port Chalmers. The Kermadec Islands, a group lying about miles to the north-east of Russell, in the Bay of Islands. Raoul or Sunday Island, the largest of these, is about 20 miles in circuit. The next in size is Macaulay Island, about 3 miles round. Area of the group, 8, acres. The Herveys Manuac and Aoutu. Savage or Niue.
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Penrhyn, or Tongareva. Humphrey , or Manahiki. Rierson , or Rakaanga. Danger , or Pukapuka. Total area of islands outside the Cook Group, square miles. The total area of the colony is thus about , square miles, of which the aggregate area of the outlying groups of islands that are practically useless for settlement amounts to about square miles. The areas of the several Australian States, as stated by different authorities, vary considerably. The total area of the Australian Continent is given as 2,, square miles, according to a computation made by the late Surveyor-General of Victoria, Mr.
Skene, from a map of Continental Australia compiled and engraved under his direction; but the following areas are taken from the latest official records of each colony:—. The size of these States with New Zealand may be better realised by comparison of their areas with those of European countries. If the area of Russia in Europe be added to those of the other countries the total would be about one-seventh larger than the Australian Continent, and about one-twelfth larger than the Australian States, with New Zealand.
The North Island extends over a little more than seven degrees of latitude, a distance in a direct line from north to south of geographical or statute miles; but, as the northern portion of the colony, which covers more than three degrees of latitude, trends to the westward, the distance in a straight line from the North Cape to Cape Palliser, the extreme northerly and southerly points of the island, is about statute miles. This Island is, as a whole, hilly, and in parts mountainous in character, but there are large areas of plain or comparatively level country that are, or by clearing may be made, available for agricultural purposes.
Of these, the principal are the plains in Hawke's Bay on the east coast, the Wairarapa Plain in the Wellington District, and a strip of country along the west coast, about miles in length, extending from a point about thirty miles from the City of Wellington to a little north of New Plymouth. The largest plain in the North Island, Kaingaroa, extends from the shore of Lake Taupo in a north-north-easterly direction to the sea-coast in the Bay of Plenty; but a great part of it is covered with pumicesand, and is unfit for tillage or pasture. There are several smaller plains and numerous valleys suitable for agriculture.
The level or undulating country in this Island fit, or capable of being made fit, for agriculture has been roughly estimated at 13,, acres.
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This includes lands now covered with standing forest, and swamps that can be drained; also large areas of clay-marl and pumice-covered land. The clay-marl in its natural state is cold and uninviting to the farmer, but under proper drainage and cultivation it can be brought to a high state of productiveness. This kind of land is generally neglected at the present time, as settlers prefer soils more rapidly remunerative and less costly to work. The larger portion of the North Island was originally covered with forest. Although the area of bush land is still very great, yet year by year the amount is being reduced, chiefly to meet the requirements of settlement, the trees being cut down and burnt, and grass-seed sown on the ashes to create pasture.
Hilly as the country is, yet from the nature of the climate it is especially suited for the growth of English grasses, which will flourish wherever there is any soil, however steep the land may be; once laid down in grass very little of the land is too poor to supply food for cattle and sheep. The area of land in the North Island deemed purely pastoral or capable of being made so, while too steep for agricultural purposes, is estimated at 14,, acres.
In the centre of the Island is a lake, about twenty miles across either way, called Taupo. A large area adjacent to the lake is at present worthless pumice country. The Waikato River, the largest in the North Island, flows out of the north-eastern corner of this lake, and runs thence north-westward until it enters the ocean a little distance south of the Manukau Harbour. This river is navigable for small steamers for about a hundred miles from its mouth. The Maori King-country, occupied by Natives who for several years isolated themselves from Europeans, lies between Lake Taupo and the western coast.
It is navigable for about fifty miles, but only for small steamers. The other navigable rivers in this island are the Wairoa Kaipara , the Wanganui, and the Manawatu, the two last of which flow towards the south-west into Cook Strait. The mountains in the North Island are estimated to occupy about one-tenth of the surface, and do not exceed 4, ft. Of these, the three following are the most important:—. The Tongariro Mountain, situated to the southward of Lake Taupo.
It consists of a group of distinct volcanic cones, the lava-streams from which have so overlapped in their descent as to form one compact mountain-mass at the base. The highest of these cones is called Ngauruhoe, and attains an elevation of 7, ft. The craters of Ngauruhoe, the Red Crater 6, ft.
These craters are still active, steam and vapour issuing from them with considerable force and noise, the vapours, charged with pungent gases and acids, making it dangerous to approach too near the crater-lips. This mountain lies to the south of Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. It is a volcanic cone in the solfatara stage, and reaches the height of 9, ft. The most remarkable feature of this mountain is the crater lake on its summit, which is subject to slight and intermittent eruptions, giving rise to vast quantities of steam.
In March, , such an eruption took place, forming a few hot springs on the margin of the lake, and increasing the heat in the lake itself.
This lake lies at the bottom of a funnel-shaped crater, the steep sides of which are mantled with ice and snow. The water occupies a circular basin about ft. This lake, and the three craters previously mentioned on Tongariro, are all in one straight line, which, if produced, would pass through the boiling springs at Tokaanu on the southern margin of Lake Taupo, the volcanic country north-east of that lake, and White Island, an active volcano in the Bay of Plenty, situated about twenty-seven miles from the mainland.
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Mount Egmont. This is an extinct volcanic cone, rising to a height of 8, ft. The upper part is always covered with snow. This mountain is situated close to New Plymouth, and is surrounded by one of the most fertile districts in New Zealand. Rising from the plains in solitary grandeur, it is an object of extreme beauty, the cone being one of the most perfect in the world.
It is estimated that the area of mountain-tops and barren country at too high an altitude for sheep, and therefore worthless for pastoral purposes, amounts, in the North Island, to , acres.
Without a doubt the hot springs form the most remarkable feature of the North Island. They are found over a large area, extending from Tongariro, south of Lake Taupo, to Ohaeawai, in the extreme north—a distance of some miles; but the principal seat of hydrothermal action appears to be in the neighbourhood of Lake Rotorua, about forty miles north-north-east from Lake Taupo. By the destruction of the famed Pink and White Terraces and of Lake Rotomahana during the eruption of Mount Tarawera on the 10th June, , the neighbourhood has been deprived of attractions unique in character and of unrivalled beauty; but the natural features of the country—the numerous lakes, geysers, and hot springs, some of which possess remarkable curative properties in certain complaints—are still very attractive to tourists and invalids.
The world-wide importance of conserving this region as a sanatorium for all time has been recognised by the Government, and it is now dedicated by Act of Parliament to that purpose. Notwithstanding the length of coast-line, good harbours in the North Island are not numerous. Those on the west coast north of New Plymouth are bar harbours, unsuitable for large vessels.
The principal harbours are the Waitemata Harbour, on which Auckland is situated—this is rather a deep estuary than a harbour; several excellent havens in the northern peninsula; and Port Nicholson, on the borders of which Wellington is situated. This is a landlocked harbour, about six miles across, having a comparatively narrow but deep entrance from the ocean.
The water is deep nearly throughout.
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Cook Strait separates the North and Middle Islands. It is some sixteen miles across at its narrowest part, but in the widest about ninety. The strait is invaluable for the purpose of traffic between different parts of the colony. The extreme length of the Middle Island, from Jackson's Head, in Cook Strait, to Puysegur Point, at the extreme south-west, is about statute miles; the greatest distance across at any point is in Otago the southernmost District, about miles.