15th November 1769

[At Mercury Bay, North Island, New Zealand]
In the evening I went in the Pinnace and landed upon one of the Islands that lies off of the South Head of the Bay, with a view to see if I could discover any sunken rocks or other Dangers lying before the Entrance of the Bay, as there was a pretty large swell at this Time. The Island we landed upon was very small, yet there were upon it a Village, the inhabitants of which received us very friendly. This little Village was laid out in small Oblong squares, and each pailisaded round. The Island afforded no fresh Water, and was only accessible on one side: from this I concluded that it was not choose for any Conveniency it could afford them, but for its Natural Strength.

[Sail from Mercury Bay, New Zealand]
At 7 A.M. weigh'd, with a light breeze at West, and clear weather, and made Sail out of the Bay, steering North-East, for the Northermost of a Number of Islands lying off the North point of the Bay. These Islands are of Various extents, and lye Scattered to the North-West in a parallel direction with the Main as far as we could see. I was at first afraid to go within them, thinking that there was no safe Passage, but I afterwards thought that we might; and I would have attempted it, but the wind, coming to the North-West, prevented it, so that we were obliged to stand out to Sea. At Noon was in the Latitude of 36 degrees 4 minutes South. The Northermost Island, above mentioned, bore North, distant half a League; the Court of Aldermen, South-East by South, distant 6 Leagues; and the Bay Sail'd from, which I have named Mercury Bay, on account of the observation being made there, South-West by West, distant 6 Miles.

At the head of Mercury Bay is a small settlement called Whitianga, it lies in the Latitude of 36 degrees 47 minutes South, and the Longitude of 184 degrees 4 minutes West, from the Meridian of Greenwich. It lies in South-West between 2 and 3 Leagues. There are several Islands lying both to the Southward and Northward of it, and a Small high Island or Rock in the Middle of the Entrance. Within this Island the depth of water doth no were Exceed 9 or 8 fathoms; the best Anchorage is in a sandy Bay which lies just within the South head in 5 and 4 fathoms, bringing a high Tower Rock, which lies without the head, in one with the head, or just shut in behind it. Here it is very Convenient Wooding and Watering, and in the River are an immense quantity of Oysters and other small Shell fish; and this is the only thing it is remarkable for, and hath occasioned my giving it the Name of Oyster River. But the Snugest and Safest place for a Ship to lay in that wants to stay there any time is in the River at the head of the Bay, and where there is every conveniency the place can afford. To sail up and into it keep the South shore all the way on board. As we did not learn that the Natives had any name for this River, I have called it the River of Mangroves, because of the great quantity of these Trees that are found in it.

The Country on the South-East side of this River and Bay is very barren, producing little else but Fern, and such other plants as delight in a Poor Soil. The land on the North-West side is pretty well cover'd with wood, the Soil more fertile, and would no doubt produce the Necessarys of Life, was it Cultivated. However, this much must be said against it, that it is not near so Rich nor fertile as the lands we have seen to the Southward; and the same may be said of its inhabitants, who, although pretty numerous, are poor to the highest degree when Compar'd to others we have seen. They have no Plantations, but live only on Fern roots and fish; their Canoes are mean, and without ornament, and so are their Houses, or Hutts, and in general everything they have about them. This may be owing to the frequent wars in which they are Certainly ingaged; strong proofs of this we have seen, for the people who resided near the place where we wooded, and who Slept every night in the Open Air, placed themselves in such a manner when they laid down to sleep as plainly shew'd that it was necessary for them to be always upon their Guard. They do not own Subjection to Teeratie, the Earadehi,* (* Cook did not realize that the New Zealanders were divided into independent tribes.) but say that he would kill them was he to come Among them; they confirm the Custom of Eating their Enemies, so that this is a thing no longer to be doubted. I have before observed that many of the People about this bay had no fix'd habitations, and we thought so then, but have since learnt that they have strong holds--or Hippas, as they call them--which they retire to in time of danger. We found, thrown upon the Shore in several places in this Bay, a quantity of Iron Sand, which is brought down out of the Country by almost every little fresh-water brook. This proves that there must be of that Ore not far inland. Neither of the Inhabitants of this Place, nor any other where we have been, know the use of Iron or set the least Value upon it, preferring the most Trifling thing we could give them to a Nail, or any sort of Iron Tools. Before we left this bay we cut out upon one of the Trees near the Watering Place the Ship's Name, date, etc., and, after displaying the English Colours, I took formal possession of the place in the Name of His Majesty.

Joseph Banks Journal
Little wind and that foul, sail however. Several canoes were on board and in one of them Torava who sayd that as soon as ever we are gone he must go to his heppah or fort, for the freinds of the man who was killd on the 9th threatend to revenge themselves upon him as being a freind to us.

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