12th November 1769

[At Mercury Bay, North Island, New Zealand]
P.M. had Strong Gales at North-East, and hazey, rainy weather; A.M. a fresh breeze at North-West, and Clear weather. In the morning got on board a Turn of Water, and afterwards sent the Long boat into the River for Oysters to take to sea with us; and I went with the Pinnace and Yawl, accompanied by Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, over to the North side of the Bay in order to take a View of the Country and the Fortified Village which stands there. We landed about a mile from it, and were meet by the inhabitants in our way thither, who, with a great deal of good nature and friendship, conducted us into the place and shew'd us everything that was there. This village is built upon a high Promontory or point on the North side and near the head of the Bay. It is in some places quite inaccessible to man, and in others very difficult, except on that side which faced the narrow ridge of the hill on which it stands. Here it is defended by a double ditch, a bank and 2 rows of Picketing, the inner row upon the Bank; but not so near the Crown but what there was good room for men to Walk and handle their Arms between the Picketing and the inner Ditch. The outer Picketing was between the 2 Ditches, and laid sloping with their upper ends hanging over the inner Ditch. The Depth of this Ditch from the bottom to the Crown of the bank was 24 feet. Close within the inner Plcketing was erected by strong Posts a stage 30 feet high and 40 in length and 6 feet broad. The use of this stage was to stand upon to throw Darts at the Assailants, and a number of Darts lay upon it for that purpose. At right angles to this Stage and a few paces from it was another of the same Construction and bigness; this stood likewise within the Picketing, and was intended for the same use as the other--viz., to stand upon to throw stones and darts upon the Enemy as they advanc'd up the side of the Hill where lay the Main way into the place. It likewise might be intended to defend some little outworks and hutts that lay at the Skirts and on this side of the Hill. These outworks were not intended as advanced Posts, but for such of the Inhabitants to live in as had not room in the Main works, but had taken Shelter under it. Besides the works on the land side, above described, the whole Villiage was Pallisaded round with a line of pretty strong Picketing run round the Edge of the hill. The ground within having not been level at first, but laid Sloping, they had divided it into little squares and Leveled each of these. These squares lay in the form of an Amphitheatre, and were each of them Pallisaded round, and had communication one with another by narrow lanes and little gateways, which could easily be stoped up, so that if an Enemy had forced the outer Picketing he had several others to incounter before the place could be easily reduced, supposing them to defend everyone of the places one after another.

The main way leading into this fortification was up a very steep part of the Hill and thro' a narrow passage about 12 feet long and under one of the Stages. I saw no door nor gate, but it might very soon have been barricaded up. Upon the whole I looked upon it to be very strong and well choose Post, and where a small number of resolute men might defend themselves a long time against a vast superior force, Arm'd in the manner as these People are. These seem'd to be prepared against a Siege, having laid up in store an immense quantity of Fern roots and a good many dry'd fish; but we did not see that they had any fresh Water nearer than a brook which runs close under the foot of a hill, from which I suppose they can at times get water, tho' besiged, and keep it in gouards until they use it. Under the foot of the point on which the Village stands are 2 Rocks, the one just broke off from the Main and other detatched a little from it. They are both very small, and more fit for Birds to inhabit than men; yet there are houses and places of defence on each of them, and about a Mile to Eastward of these is another of these small Fortified rocks, which communicates with the Main by a Narrow pathway, where there is a small Villiage of the Natives. Many works of this kind we have seen upon small Islands and Rocks and Ridges of hills on all parts of the Coast, besides a great number of Fortified towns, to all appearances Vastly superior to this I have described. From this it should seem that the People must have long and frequent Warrs, and must have been long accustomed to it, otherwise they never would have invented such strong holds as these, the Erecting of which must cost them immense labour, considering the Tools they have to work with, which are only made of Wood and Stone. It is a little strange that with such a Warlike People, as these undoubtedly are, no Omissive weapons are found among them, such as bows and Arrows, Slings, etc., things in themselves so easily invented, and are common in every other part of the world.

The Arms they use are long spears or Lances, a Staff about 5 feet long. Some of these are pointed at one end like a Serjeant's Halberd, others are round and Sharp; the other ends are broad, something like the blade of an Oar. They have another sort about 4 1/2 feet long; these are shaped at one End like an Axe, and the other is made with a Sharp point. They have short Truncheons about a foot long, which they call Pattoo Pattoas; some made of wood, some of bone, and others of Stone. Those made of wood are Variously shaped, but those made of bone and Stone are of one shape, which is with a round handle, a broadish blade, which is thickest in the Middle and taper'd to an Edge all round. The use of these are to knock Men's brains out, and to kill them outright after they are wounded; and they are certainly well contrived things for this purpose. Besides these Weapons they Throw stones and Darts; the Darts are 10 or 12 feet long, are made of hard wood, and are barbed at one end. They handle all their Arms with great Agility, particularly their long Pikes or Lances, against which we have no weapon that is an equal match except a Loaded Musquet.

Joseph Banks Journal
Two canoes came early this morn who appeard to be strangers who had heard of us by the caution and fear they shewd in approaching the ship; two of them were however persuaded to come on board and the rest traded for what they had very fairly. A small canoe also came from the other side of the bay and sold some large fish which had been taken the day before yesterday, as yesterday it blew too [hard] for any Canoes to go to Sea. After breakfast we all went ashore to see an Indian Fort or Eppah in the neighbourhood, uncertain however what kind of reception we should meet with as they might be Jealous of letting us into it, where probably all their valuable effects were lodgd. We went to a bay where were two, we landed first near a small one the most beautifuly romantick thing I ever saw. It was built on a small rock detachd from the main and surroundd at high water, the top of this was fencd round with rails after their manner but was not large enough to contain above 5 or 6 houses; the whole appeard totaly inaccessible to any animal who was not furnishd with wings, indeed it was only aproachable by one very narrow and steep path, but what made it most truly romantick was that much the largest part of it was hollowd out into an arch which penetrated quite through it and was in hight not less than 20 yards perpendicular above the water which ran through it. The inhabitants on our aproach came down and invited us to go in but we refusd intending to visit a much larger and more perfect one about a mile off, we spent however some little time in making presents to their women.

In the mean time we saw the inhabitants of the other come down from it, men women and children about 100 in number, and march towards us; as soon as they came near enough they wav'd and calld horomai and set down in the bushes near the beach (a sure mark of their good intentions). We went to them and made a few presents and askd leave to go to their heppah which they with joy invited us to do and immediately accompanied us to it. It was calld Wharretoowa and was situate on the end of a hill where it Jutted out into the sea which washd two sides of it, these were sufficiently steep but not absolutely inaccessible; up one of the land sides which was also steep went the road, the other was flat and open to the side of the hill. The whole was inclosd by a pallisade about 10 feet high made of strong pales bound together with withs; the weak side next the hill had also a ditch the face of which next the pallisade we measurd to be 20½ feet in depth. Besides this over the pallisade was built a fighting stage which the [y] call Porava, which is a flat stage coverd with boughs of trees upon which they stand to throw darts or stones at their assailants out of danger of their weapons. The dimensions of it were thus: the hight from the ground 20½ feet, breadth 6ft 6, the lengh 43 feet. Upon it were laid bundles of darts and heaps of stones ready in case of an attack. One of the Young men at our desire went up to shew their method of fighting and another went to the outside of the ditch to act assailant; they both sung their war song and dancd with the same frigh[t]full gesticulations as we have often seen them, threatning each other with their weapons; this I suppose they do in their attacks to work themselves to a sufficient fury of courage, for what we call calm resolution is I beleive found in few uncivilizd people.

The side next the road was also defended by a stage like this but much lower, the other two were by their steepness and the pallisade thought sufficiently secure. The inside was divided into I beleive 20 larger and smaller divisions, some of which containd not more than 1 or 2 houses others 12 or 14; every one of these were enclosd by its own pallisade tho not so high and strong as the general one. In these were vast heaps of Dryd fish and fern roots pild up in heaps, so much that had they had water I should have though[t] them well prepard for a siege but that must be fetchd from a brook below, so probably they do not use to beseige a town as we do in Europe. Without the fence were many houses and large netts which I suppose were brought in upon any alarm; there was also about ½ an acre of Gourds and sweet potatoes planted, the only Cultivation we have seen in the bay.

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