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Mutiny and AftermathJames Morrison's Account of the Mutiny on the Bounty and the Island of Tahiti$

Vanessa Smith and Nicholas Thomas

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836764

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836764.001.0001

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The Occupation of Tubuai

The Occupation of Tubuai

(p.56) 2 The Occupation of Tubuai
Mutiny and Aftermath
Vanessa Smith, Nicholas Thomas, Maia Nuku
University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the crew's arrival in Tubuai. Before anchoring the Bounty, a certain geographer named Stuart was ordered by Captain James Cook to examine the reef to find an opening for the anchor. While Stuart was at sea via the boat conducting his task, he was attacked by a number of the natives, armed with long spears, riding in canoes. Some of them boarded in his boat and carried off some of his belongings while natives assembled on the beach “armed with clubs and spears of a shining black wood.” The remainder of the chapter narrates how the crew escaped from the island.

Keywords:   Stuart, James Cook, Tubuai, natives, Bounty

On the 9th being in the Latd of 30º Sd the wind shifted to the Westd in a heavy squall which split the Fore topsail; this was the first accident of the kind we experienced during the voyage, and was Chiefly owing to the sails being much worn, however it was soon replaced and the Wind continued fair till we made Tubuai which happened on the 28th May.

During this passage Mr. Christian Cut up the old Studding sails to make Uniforms for All hands, taking his own for edging, observing that nothing had more effect on the mind of the Indians as an uniformity of Dress, which by the by has its effect among Europeans as it always betokens disipline especially on board British Men of War.

When we got in with the Island the Small cutter was sent with Geo. Stuart to examine the reef, and find the Opening discribed by Capt. Cook.1 While he was on this duty He was attack’d by a number of the Natives in a Canoe who boarded him and Carried off a Jacket and some other things, Having only a brace of Pistols one of which miss’d fire, and they were not Certain that the other did execution, the Natives were armd with long spears which became useless at Close quarters by which means the boats Crew escaped being hurt and the natives being frightened by the report of the Pistol made off—when the Cutter Came to a Grapnell to Mark the Passage for the Ship which got in and Anchord in the afternoon of the 29th and Next Morning weighd and warpd in to a sandy Bay, Mooring with one Bower & the Kedge in 3½ fathom two Cables length from the shore–

The Natives now began to Assemble on the Beach and numbers flockd round the Ship in their Canoes, but were at first very shy, paddling round and blowing their Conch shells, of which they had one or two in evry Canoe, after viewing the Ship they Paddled on shore to those on the Beach who appeard armed with Clubbs & Spears of a shining black wood (p.57) with a number of Conchs blowing, their dress being red and white, gave them a formidable appearance.

They kept off all day, and all we could say to perswade them (tho they seemed to speak the Tahiti language)2 to come on board was of no use—Next morning we observed their numbers to be much Increased both in Men & Canoes, which had arrived in the Night and at last an Old Man whom we supposed was a Chief came on board—who appeard to view evry thing he saw with astonishment and appeard frightend at the Hogs Goats Dog &ca3—Starting back as any of them turned towards him. Mr. Christian made him several presents, and He went on Shore seemingly satisfied promising to return again, but we supposed that His Visit was not for the purpose of friendship as he had been particular in Counting our number, and the arms were therefore Got to Hand that we might be in readyness to receive the promised visit, and their ferocious aspects gave us plainly to understand in what manner we might expect it–

About noon we observed them making a stir upon the Beach and launching their Canoes which were filld with Men, and soon moved toward the Ship, amongst them was a double Canoe full of weomen neatly dressed and their heads & necks decorated with flowers & Pearl shells, as they approachd the ship they stood up & beat time to a song which was Given by one of them, which appear’d to be a person of some Consequence and who we afterwards found was the daughter of a Chief, they were all young and handsom having fine long hair which reachd their Waists in waving ringlets. They Came on board without Ceremony being in number 18 & the men who paddled the Canoe were 6, five of which followed. Meantime about 50 Canoes manned with 15 or 20 men each paddled round on the other side, Closing in and blowing their Conchs; on this we supposed that the weomen had been sent as a Snare to Catch us with, as they Came so readily on board but being on our Guard (which they Observed) & having Changed our dress they were disappointed and made no Attempt–4

The Weomen were treated with civility and presents made to each but the men who followd them began to steal evry thing they Could lay hands on, one of them took the Card off the Compass, the Glass being broke, but being observed by Mr. Christian while he was secreting it, he took it from Him, but not before it was torn, as he refused to part with it, and being a stout fellow a Scuffel ensued however he was worsted & (p.58) (p.59)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 5. Map of Tubuai.

Courtesy of Nick Keenleyside at Outline Draughting and Graphics Ltd.

Mr. Christian gave him two or three smart stripes with a ropes end and sent Him into the Canoe, the others who had not been Idle followed Him as did the Weomen which we did not think prudent to detain, when they put off those in the Canoes began to shew their Weapons which till now they Had kept conceald, brandishing them with many threatning Gestures, and one of them Getting hold of the Buoy cut it away, and was paddling off with it, when he was observed by Mr. Christian who fired a Musket at Him, & a four pounder being fired with Grape, they all paddled to the Shore, the Boats were now mand to follow them, but on Coming to the Beach the landing was vigourously disputed by them plying the Boats smartly with Stones, not seeming to pay any attention to the Musquets till they found some fall, when they took to the Wood and in a few Moments were all out of sight. As they Had left several Canoes on the Beach Mr. Christian ordered them to be towd off, and made fast astern of the Ship, thinking to make them Instrumental in making Peace, but the Wind Coming to the NW, and the Canoes filling, they broke adrift in the night and drove on shore and as the Natives made no further Appearance they were sufferd to remain we found a number of Cords in the Canoes which we supposd were intended for to bind us with,5 had they succeeded in their plan, and this we afterwards found to be the purpose for which they were brought, this Bay lies on the NW part of the Island abreast of the Opening (the only one in the Reef) described by Capt. Cook, and we Calld it from this time Bloody Bay6

on the Morning of the 30th the Natives not Appearing, the Boats were Mand and Arm’d and went round to the East end of the Island Carrying a White flag in the Bow of One and a Union Jack in the other. Mr. Christian landed in Several places leaving presents of hatchets &c. in their Houses, but Saw none of the Natives, tho He made diligent search, and was forced to return without seeing one7

Next Morning the 31st some of them came down, and hauld the Canoes up at which they were not disturbed they retired before the Boat Could reach the Shore,—a Boat was sent to land a young Goat & two (p.60) pigs which were sickly and returned without seeing any of ye Natives and the anchors being Weighd We put to Sea Steering to the NNE for Tahiti

Mr. Christian having formd a resolution of settling on this Island, determined to return again as soon as he could procure sufficient stock of Hogs Goats & Poultry of which we Saw None on the Island, tho Bread Cocoa Nuts & Plantains were to appearance Plenty, to this he was the more Inclined as the Island was scarce 18 Miles in Circumference, and he supposed the Inhabitants to be but few, which he had hopes of bringing into friendship either by perswasion, or force;8 and as the Anchorage for Ships is not enticeing, he Judged that none would make Choise of this Island while they Could reach Tahiti and that He would be permitted to live here in peace, which was all he Now desired knowing that he had taken such steps as had for ever debar’d him from returning to England or any Civilized Place,9 & dream’t of nothing but Settling at Tubuai

However I cannot say that ever I agreed in Oppinion with Mr. Christian with respect to the plan he had formd nor did I ever form a favourable Idea of the Natives of Tubuai whose savage aspect & behaviour could not gain favour in the Eyes of any Man in his senses, but was fully capable of Creating a distate in any one–

On the Passage He Gave orders that no man should tell the name of the Island, or mention It to the Natives and if any person was found to mention the real name he would punish Him severely and declared if any Man diserted he would shoot him as soon he was brought back, which promise evry one knew he had in his power to perform and having appointed his own Party to keep Constant Guard, he distributed the trade amongst all Hands disiring them to make the Best Market they Could, as it was to be the last they would ever have the Opportunity of Making. He also made several distributions of the Cloaths &c which had been left by the Officers & Men who went in the Boat, these were made out in lotts by Churchill & were drawn for by ticketts, but it always happend that Mr. Christian’s party Were always better served then these who were thought to be disaffected, however as they had different views No Notice was taken of it at present—

On the 6th of June we anchord in Matavai Bay when the Natives flockd on board in great Numbers; they were glad to see us and Enquired where the rest were, and what had brought us back so soon, where we had left the Plants as they knew our stay had been too Short to have reachd (p.61) home from the account we had formerly given them of the distance, to all these Questions Mr. Christian answerd them that We had met Captn. Cook who had taken Mr. Bligh and the others with the Plants & the Longboat and had sent us for Hogs Goats &c for a New Settlement which the King had sent him to make which he described to be on New Holland,10 this being made known to the People none dared to Contradict what he said knowing if they said any thing Contrary it would soon reach his ears, as the Tahitians are not remarkable for Keeping secrets but if this had not been the Case there were few who Could explain the Matter properly as they were not so well versed in the language.

While we lay here the Armourer was set to work to make trade, and Churchill & Myself were sent on Shore to purchace Hogs Goats &c. Meanwhile Mr. Christian intertaind the Chiefs on board plying them with Wine & Arrack of which they became very fond—and evry one on board was busey purchacing Stock & Provisions for them and although the general oppinion when we saild before was that we had impovrishd the Island we were now Convinced that they Had not Missd what we got as we now found the Country full of Hogs and they which before had been kept out of sight and they appeard now better able to supply a Fleet then they seemd before to supply our single Ship and the demand for Iron Work increased so fast, that the Armourer Could not supply them tho Constantly employd and there was a tolerable good stock ready made found in the Ship which had not been expended during our former Stay–

On the 10th Willm. McCoy, being Centinal, fired upon a number of the natives who throngd the Ganway and did not get so fast out of His way as he thought proper, but as no damage was done no notice was taken of it, and on the night of the 14th Churchill observing a Canoe ahead of the Ship haild her but getting no answer he fired at them and they paddled off

It may here be observed that Mr. Christians account of Himself passd very well with the Natives, who had not yet been informd of Captn. Cooks Death, Mr. Bligh having given orders that no person should mention his death, but tell the Natives that He was yet alive in England and that He would probably Come again to Tahiti, and as Mr. Christian informd them that He would Come to Tahiti as soon as he had settled the Country which he Calld Aitutaki,11 they were perfectly satisfied, and as they were (p.62) more intent on trading then any thing else they made but few enquiries, and thought little about it

We remained here till the 16th during which time we were plentifully supplyd with evry Necessary by the Natives our old friends nor do I think they would have thought any worse of us had they known the truth of the Story or been any way shy of supplying us as Mr. Christian was beloved by the whole of them but on the Contrary none liked Mr. Bligh tho they flatterd him for His Riches, which is the Case among polishd Nations those in power being always Courted

The grand object of these people is Iron and like us with Gold it matters not by what means they get it or where it comes from if they can but get it

By the 16th we had Mustered about 460 Hogs, Mostly breeders, 50 Goats and a quantity of Fowles, a few dogs & Cats; and for a Few red feathers we got the Bull and Cow on which they set little store. With these and a quantity of Provisions for present Use we prepared for Sea Having on board 9 Men 8 Boys 10 Weomen & one female Child, some of which hid themselves below till we were at sea, when having shortend in the Cable the Ship drove and droping near the Dolphin Bank we were forced to Cut away the Anchor and Make sail when we were out a number made their appearance, among which was Hitihiti & Several of our old friends, and Mr. Christian finding it too late to put them on Shore, at the request of some of His party he Consented to proceed to sea with them but told them they would Never See Tahiti again, at which they seemd perfectly easey and satisfied never betraying the least sign of Sorrow for leaving their friends nor did I observe that they ever repined afterwards

The Weather proving rough during the Passage the Bull who could not keep his feet and would not lay down received several falls which kill’d Him, we having no method of slinging Him and his weight being more than he Could support, and we were forced to heave him overboard, but although the Hogs & Goats were trampling over each other for want of room, we lost but four hogs & one Goat during the passage, and arrived with the rest in Good Order, anchoring in Bloody Bay on the 23rd. The Pidgeons were now let loose and a Pair of them went on shore but never returnd

We now found the Natives quite Friendly, and they appeard a different people, coming on board in a peaceable manner without Weapons (p.63) or Conch Shells, or the least appearance of Hostility which induced Mr. Christian to land the Cow and two Hundred hogs on the Island, at the Sight of which the Natives were more terrified then they had been before at the Fire Arms,12 the remainder of the Stock were landed on the Keys where we Could more Conveniently Visit them but those landed on the Island were Sufferd to take their Chance

Landing the Stock took up several days and in the mean time our Tahitians, Come fast into the Tubuai tongue, served us as Interpreters and they soon made friends with the Natives, who Informd us that Elevan Men and a Woman had been killd in the Affair at Bloody bay, who they said belongd to a Chief on the East part of the Island Calld Tinarau13 as we had only seen two fall we were forced to take their Words they also shewd us some of the Musquet Balls which had struck the Toa trees and fell down which they wore round their Necks in a string

The Chief of this part of the Island Calld Tamatoa made Mr. Christian his Friend after the Manner of the Island. Mr. Christian going on Shore to his house when he was taken to the Marae14 and seated on a large parcel of Cloth placed there for the purpose, and surrounded by all the Chiefs relations and the Heads of Familys subject to him or belonging to his District—the Chief first made a long speech presenting him with a young Plantain tree (which here is the Emblem of Peace) and a root of ‘Ava Saluting him by the Name of Tamatoa, it being the Custom to exchange Names on making friends; his relations came next in rotation, each performing the like Ceremony, but with this difference, that each of them presented him with a piece of Cloth besides the plantain & ‘Ava—after them Came the landed men each attended by a Man (to the Number of 50) loaded with two baskets of Provisions, and a piece of Cloth, the Provisions Consisted of Fish raw & dressd, Breadfruit, Taro Plantains Cocoa Nuts &c—all which were placed before him, the Weomen of the Chiefs family Came Next followed in like Manner, and when all was finish’d the Men took the Cloth, Provisions & ‘Ava and Carried them to the Boats, the Chief coming on board with Mr. Christian Where he remaind all night most part of which he spent in prayer at Mr. Christian’s bed side. In the morning Mr. Christian made him several presents Consisting of Hatchets, red feathers, Tahiti Cloth, & Matting, with which he seemd highly pleased but seemed to value the Red feathers more then all the rest–

Mr. Christian now went on shore with him, in order to pitch upon a (p.64)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 6. Whalebone and ivory necklace, Austral Islands [Z 6076].

Reproduced with permission of University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

place to fix his residence in but finding none to please him in Tamatoas district he went to the Next to the Eastward, which belongd to a Chief Calld Ta‘aroatehoa who was not in alliance with Tamatoa, but received Mr. Christian in a Friendly manner and invited him to Come to his land when he knew his Intention, desiring him to bring the Ship up and make Choice of any part of His district which offer Mr. Christian accepted as he had observed a Spot which he thought would answer his purpose, and exchanged Names accordingly, this made Tamatoa Jealous, and he did all he Could to perswade Mr. Christian not to go but finding he could not he grew angry. Mr. Christian promised him that he would still be his friend, which however did not satisfy him, and He and Tinarau combined together against the new alliance prohibiting their Subjects from coming to the Ship, or having any intercourse with Mr. Christian who endeavoured to win them with presents but without any effect, but as he was bent on pursuing his own plan He took no notice of their proceedings at present, tho by their prohibiting their people from Coming to the Ship, (p.65)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 7. Whale ivory ear ornaments, Austral Islands [990.2.2062; 990.2.2063].

Reproduced with permission of Musée de l’Histoire Naturelle, Lille

the Supplys of Provisions were much reduced, and Ta‘aroatehoas district being small, Culd not supply us with as much as we wanted–

Mr. Christian went several times to Tinaraus but Could never obtain an interview, as both him & his dependants always fled on his approace—and he now determined to fix himself on shore before he attempted any thing further and gave the necessary orders respecting the frugal expence of Sea provisions, and the Care of the Stock–

He Now thought of nothing but getting on Shore to live and having fix’d on a place about 4 miles to the Easward of the Opening, prepared to warp the Ship up to it as fast as possible but this prov’d a laborious task, the Water being shoal, and the passage so beset by patches of Coral Rock that it was impossible to proceed in a dirict line and the Sea Breeze which sets in about 10 or 11 in the fore Noon and blows till Near 4 in the After Noon frequently stopd us. Nor were our boats by any means calculated to Carry long warps and anchors, the largest being only a light Cutter of 20 feet.

After we had got about halfway, it became necessary to lighten the Ship, by starting the Water; but that not being sufficient the Booms & Spars were got out and Moord at a Grapnel, but it Coming on to blow (p.66) fresh they went and we saw them no more which however Mr. Christian though no great loss as he never intended to go to Sea any More

On the 8th of July we reachd the place appointed & Moord the Ship with both bowers (head & stem) in 3 fathoms, the Eastermost point of the Island in Sight bearing E S E and the Westermost Key N b E, off shore half a Cables length, unbent the sails and Struck the Top Gallt Yards & Masts–

On the 10th Mr. Christian went on Shore to make Choice of His Ground to build a Fort on, and pitchd on the Spot abreast of the ship and received permission from the Chief Ta‘aroatehoa (Who Met him there) to make what use of it he thought proper–

On his return on board he found that Jno. Sumner and Mathew Quintrell were gone on shore without leave and did not return till Next Morning, when he Calld them aft and enquired how they came to go on shore without his leave they answerd “the Ship is Moord and we are now our own Masters, upon which he Clap’d a Pistol to one of their heads (which he always kept in his pocket) and said “I’ll let you know who is Master,” and ordered them both legs in Irons, this resolute behaviour convinced them that He was not to be playd with, and when they were brought up next day, they beg’d Pardon and promised to behave better for the future on which they were released.

However to prevent the like happening again he gave liberty for two hands to sleep on shore each night and as many as pleased to go on shore evry Sunday. He also made a distribution of red feathers to all hands,15 but some of them being Missd out of His Cabbin, Thos. Ellison who waited on him and was frequently there, was charged with having taken them, on which he brought to the Ganway stripd and tied up but as he persisted in his Innocence and no person having seen him with any, he was Cast off–

Having ordered that of the Liberty men one boats Crew should go evry Sunday to the Keys, to see the Stock, things were settled for the Present, and the forge got up, the Armourer being set to work to make Iron rammers for the Musquets, the wooden ones being mostly broken, and when these were Compleated He set to work to alterd the Junk Axes and make them fit for Cutting Wood & felling trees

As soon as the Axes were ready, the following regulations were made, W Brown & one Tahitian to Clear a piece of Ground and plant Yams, Josh, Coleman & Willm. McCoy to work at the Forge, Making Spades, (p.67) hoes & Mattocks, Heny. Heildbrandt to Cook the provisions, Michl. Byrn & Thos. Ellison with some of the Tahiti Boys to take Care of the Boats, and the rest to go on shore Armd to Work, the arms to be left under the Care of a Centinal in a Convenient place while the others Clear’d the Ground, one boat to return to the Ship and the other to be kept at a Grapnell near the Beach

On the 18th we went on Shore where we were met by the Chief & some of the friends who presented Mr. Christian with two young Plantain trees, and two roots of ‘Ava by way of a Peace Offering,16 & the Ground being Measured out for the Fort posession was taken by turning a Turf and hoisting the Union Jack on a Staff in the Place. On this occasion an extra Allowance of Grog was drank and the Place Calld Fort George,17 and finding the Place overrun with rats several Cats were brought on shore and let loose among them

While we were Employed in this business we were alarmed by a Great Noise of hedious shrieks & yells which we supposed at first to be a War Cry and took to our Arms sending some of the Tahitians to enquire what it was, who soon returned and informed us that it proceeded from a Funeral Ceremony, it being the Custom in this Island when a Man of any rank dies for all his friends & relations and all who wish him well to attend his funeral, when the Body is put into the Grave, a Priest makes a long Prayer and the bystanders rend the Air with horrid Cries, Cutting their Heads and breasts with Shells, and smearing their body with the Blood;18 after which the Grave is filld up and they depart leaving the near relations of the deceased to enjoy their Mourning in private—having had this information we returned to our work–

The Ground being Cleared the Fort was laid out in a quaderangular form, Measuring 100 yards on each square outside of the ditch, width of the Ditch 18 feet, depth 20 feet from the top of the Works, thickness of the wall at the base 18 feet, on the top 12, with a Drawbridge on the North side fronting the Beach; on this the Ships ordnance was to be Mounted in the following Manner, one four Pounder on each Corner & on each face two Swivels with two for reserve to be shifted as occasions might require by which means two four Pounders & four Swivels Could be brought to bear in any direction and in Some three four Pounders & Six Swivels

Evry thing being settled, we proceeded the Work tho not a man knew anything Fortification, some Cut stakes others made Battins some Cut (p.68) Sods & brought to hand some built, and others Wrought in the ditch, the Carpenters made barrows & Cut timber for the Gates & Drawbridge, & the work began to rise apace. Nor was Mr. Christian an Idle Spectator for He always took a part in the Most laborious part of the Work, and half a Pint of Porter was served twice a day extra–

We Continued at work without any interruption from the Natives who visited us in numbers evry day bringing provisions nor did they now seem so much inclined to thieving as at first, the only thing they fancied was red feathers—and the Cocks with red Heckles became a valuable article being esteemd far superior to the Black or Grey ones, the Natives seeming to view them with particular attention, but Iron Work or our Cloaths they held in no esteem, & although they saw us using our axes, & other Iron tools, they set no value on them and never seemd inclined to have them in their possession, for which we were no way sorry,19 and as their Cloth is Glazed so as to turn rain they preferd it to ours,20 and would sooner have a Piece of fine Tahiti Cloth then the Best article of Clothing we had, however our Tahitians were not so ignorant, for they knew which was best, and tho these people preferd their Stone Adzes, to our Axes, they would not tho they never attempted to alter their Oppinion

On the 20th of August Mr. Christian & some others saild round the Island in the large Cutter, he landed on South side and was well received by a Chief Call’d Hitirere and was invited on Shore at several places which the foulness of the Shore prevented him from accepting. When they got off the East end, Tinarau sent a Man off with a peace offering of a Young Plaintain tree & a root of ‘Ava, and an invitation to land. He received the offering but the Shore being rocky he could not come within 3/4ths of a Mile of the Beach with the boat, and was forced to decline the invitation and return to the Ship

On the 25th, the Tahiti Men & boys were sent in quest of some Cocoa Nuts, but were set upon by some of the Natives, who drove them off, and nearly Killd one of the Men with a Stone, this News being brought to the Fort by the Boys, Mr. Christian ordered the Party to Arms, and Marchd to the place where a Number of the Natives were in arms—but two Musquets being fired amongst them they fled, and we returned to the Fort—Next day we learnt that one Man was killd but as they had Carried him off we saw nothing of Him

After this We remaind quiet some days, but as the people were fond of (p.69) sleeping on shore, some of them were decoyd by the Weomen into Tinaraus district where they were Strip’d; and Alexr. Smith was kept prisoner at Tinaraus house, As soon as Mr. Christian was informd of it, he resolved to punnish the Offenders, and Marchd the Party into Tinaraus district, but Tinarau fled at his Approach. When he arrived at Tinaraus house the Woman with whom Smith had been, Conducted him to the Place without any Cloaths but his Shirt, The rest being taken away by Tinaraus Men Mr. Christian then sent several Messingers to Tinarau desiring him to return the things, and make friends both of which He refused, and after waiting some Hours, & sending repeated Messingers, who all returnd with the same answer, He resolved to burn the House which was done accordingly, but before it was set on fire we took out some Clubs and Spears, & two Curious Carved Images of their Household Gods, which were decorated with Pearl Shells, Human Hair teeth & Nails cut in a very Curious Manner, and round them was placed a kind of Grove of red feathers from the tail of the Tropic birds, as Mr. Christian supposed these Images to be of Value to the Owner, he ordered them to be secured;21 hoping that the return of them might help to make the peace & the House being now in Flames He returned to the Ship The young Woman who had been Smiths Companion came with him on board of Her own Accord saying that Her Country men would use Her ill for her friendship towards him, if She stayed on Shore among them, and when She found some Companions on board, She was perfectly satisfied and pleased.

We returned to Work again and tho it did not seem to go on as well as at first, it still Continued to get forward, & by the 1st of Septr the Gate posts were fixed & 3/4ths of the Walls Completed and on the 2nd Came Tinarau with a great number of attendants, loaded with baskets of Provisions, which he presented to Mr. Christian with a peace offering, begging at the same time that His Household Gods might be restored, which Mr. Christian promised to do on Condition that he restored the things his Men had taken away, and that He would promise, not to use any of His Men ill when they came into his district, all which he readily agreed to, and ordered some ‘Ava to be prepared of which he desired Mr. Christian to partake which he refused, upon which He got up in a passion and departed abruptly and was followed by His attendants the reason of which was that he found Mr. Christian aware of His treachery, his party having come Armed till within a small distance of the Works where they (p.70) hid their Spears, but one of the Tahiti boys having seen them, informed Mr. Christian, who Ordered the party to arms, which Tinarau perceiving thought fit to depart without taking his leave as he saw that Mr. Christian had ordered his Men on the top of the Works Where they were in Good order to receive him—the boy being sent privately off to the Ship with orders to Coleman, as soon as he saw them Appear on the Beach armed, He fired a four Pounder Shotted among them, at which they Fled. The Shot did no other damage then passing through a house where it Cut away a rafter to which a Man was hanging a Gourd of Water, and at which he was so terrified that He left the House, as did all who saw it being alike surprised, the Shot being lost and the House not in sight of the Ship, they Could hardly be perswaded that it came from her, but readily believed it to be something supernatural, and could not be perswaded to return to the house to live Judging it unsafe–

On the 3rd Came Old Tahuhuatama with His Son Ta‘aroatehoa Mr. Christians friend, & Daughters, one of which was the young woman who had Come on board at our first anchoring and was Calld ‘Aiata,22 with a number of attendants loaded with provisions which were presented to Mr. Christian and at the request of the Old Man the young weomen performed a dance beating time and singing and went through the performance with much regularity after which the Tahiti Weomen entertaind them with a dance in turn; when they took their leave Mr. Christian invited them to see a Heiva Next day, which they readily accepted and before they arrived in the Morning two of the Weomen were Neatly dressd, and two Men in Pares or the Mourning dress of Tahiti and when the Company were arrived they were entertaind with a Heiva after the Manner of the Society Isles at which they seemd Highly pleased, they were quite taken with the Dress of the Weomen, and appeard astonishd at the Pare’s.23 this was conducted by the Tahitians during which time the party was under arms

Mr. Christian now began to talk of taking the Masts out and dismanteling the Ship when he intended to erect houses and live on shore, and as I had some hopes that I Could reach Tahiti in the large Cutter, I spoke to G. Stuart on the Affair, who told me that He and P. Heywood had formed the same plan; and as I knew that after the Masts were out I could put it out their power to get them in again by destroying the purchace Blocks & fall, and if we reachd Tahiti were in no danger of being pursued I then (p.71)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 8. Parae, Tahiti [Z 28418].

Reproduced with permission of University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

advised him to get the Cutter repaired but He said Mr. Christian had said he would not Have the Boats repaird till he was on Shore; and to prevent any suspicion, we had better say nothing about it and was determined to take her as she was; and as We had some Reason too to suppose that others were of the same way of thinking with ourselves we resolved to take the first Opportunity and provided accordingly, but Providence ordered things better and We had no need to make this rash attempt, tho the passage was short and it might perhaps be made with safety in 5 or 6 days, yet had we the Chance to Meet with bad weather our Crazey boat24 would certainly have made us a Coffin which we did not now foresee

Mr. Christians party finding that the Natives still kept their weomen from amongst us tho they had no objection to their Sleeping with them (p.72) at their own houses, began to Murmur, and Insisted that Mr. Christian would head them, and bring the Weomen in to live with them by force and refusing to do any work till evry man had a Wife, and as Mr. Christians desire was to perswade rather than force them, He positively refused to have any thing to do with such an absurd demand. Three Days were Spent in debate, and having nothing to employ themselves in, they demanded more Grog This he also refused, when they broke the lock of the Spirit room and took it by force–

Mr. Christian to keep them in temper ordered double allowance to be served evry day, but all to No purpose; and finding all His endeavours in vain he on the 10th Calld all Hands aft to ask their opinion of what was the best plan to proceed on. When it was soon Moved that we should go to Tahiti and there Seperate, where they might get Weomen without force, this proposal at first overruled but was Carried the next day, on a Call for a Shew of Hands, Sixteen appeard for Tahiti; When it was agreed that those went on Shore should have Arms Amunition and part of evry thing on the Ship, the Ship to be left in Charge of Mr. Christian in a proper Condition to go to Sea, with Her sails Tackld & furniture; and evry thing being settled We began to get ready for Sea filling the Water and bending the Sails &ca–

A party were now sent to get Stock sufficient and search for the Cow which we had not seen since she was landed, but they were set upon by the Natives who beat and plundered them, and sent them to tell Mr. Christian that they would serve him the same way—this happened on the 12th when we found that the Tubuai Woman had returned to her friends without giving any previous Notice–

as the Party returned without their errand Mr. Christian ordered 20 Men to be armed on the 13th to go in quest of stock, and to Chastise the Offenders, taking the Nine Tahiti Men and four Boys, one of which always carried the Jack; the party had not proceeded above a mile from the landing before they were surrounded by about 700 of the Natives, who had formd in ambush into which we got before we perceived them. They were all armed with Clubbs Spears & Stones, and fought with more fury then Judgement, otherwise the whole party must have fallen into their hands, However the case was Otherwise and after many Obstinate and furious efforts, they Gave Ground and retired with great loss; and the Stock was Collected without farther trouble–

(p.73) As we had some reason to think that they would be troublesome, each man was provided accordingly with 24 Rounds of Amunition six of which contained one Musquet and two pistol balls, and Hitihiti being an excellent Shot was Armed with a Musquet, the rest of the Tahitians were unarmed, when we landed at the Fort we were Met by Tahuhuatama, Ta‘aroatehoa & Ta‘aroamaeva, his younger Brother, with Several others, their friends, who informed Mr. Christian that Tinarau had armed a Number of Men and was determined to dispute his right to the Stock. Mr. Christian then desired his friends to remain at the Fort least any of them should suffer by Mistake, he drew up the party, placing one Tahitian (Who Now Armd themselves with Clubbs from our friends) between two of us and having given the Necessary precautions to all, Marchd in Silence and good order through the Wood to Tinaraus district. We had scarcely got a Mile from the Fort when we Got into a Hollow path beset with thick bushes on each side, and orders were given to keep a good look out, and Burkett, thinking that He heard something stir in the Bush, stepd to look, and receivd a wound in the left side with a Spear, the Tahitian who was next to Burkett instantly leveled the Man, and Seized His Spear; and before Burkett Could either Speak or fire his piece, they started up in a Swarm all round us, rushing on us with great fury & horrid yells, on which we instantly halted and facing different ways, gave a smart fire, which we repeated several times with good effect. Notwithstanding which they kept pouring in from all quarters, seeming not to regard death or Danger. We now found it Necessary to retreat, to a rising ground at a Small distance in our rear, and by this time the Tahitians were all Armed with the Enemies long Spears and behaved Manfully—when we gained the rising ground they follow’d up with redoubled fury dispising us only a handful to them, tho many fell as they approachd, by our Constant fire; however the Bush being thick above us, they plyed us smartly from thence and Several of the Tahitians being wounded and Mr. Christian having in his hurry hurt his hand on his own bayonet we thought it prudent to retreat to a Taro Ground at the distance of about 200 yards which we effected in good order, keeping up a Constant fire to Cover our retreat, retreating and firing alternately till we gaind the Clear ground, and having posted ourselves on the Banks which intersected the Taro Ground at right Angles, we halted to receive them. They followed Close till we were out of the thicket plying us with vollies of stones, but (p.74) did not like to quit the Bush, however some of the Most daring attempted to rally their Men, and lead them on to renew the attack, one in particular (appearing to be a Chief) came out inviting his Men to follow, and making many menacing gestures he was singled out and Shot tho at a Good distance, as were several others who attempted to follow him, this proved a Check on the others who observed that all who Came in Sight were either killd or wounded and they gave ground and retreated to some distance—in the Mean time Burket growing faint, & Skinner having disabled his Musquet by putting the Cartridge in Whole, was ordered to take Burketts and Convoy him to the Boat.

We staid some time on the Ground but finding that they were not inclined to try us again, we gave them three Cheers, on which they fled and left us Masters of the Field, leaving their dead at our disposal when our Tahitians loaded themselves with such spoils as they thought proper, Chiefly their Clubs & Spears, of which they were very fond–

And here it may not be improper to observe that before we quitted the Field one of the Tahiti boys desired leave to Cut out the Jaw bones of the killd to hand round the quarters of the Ship as Trophies, which he said would strike others with Terrour, and was much displeased when his request was denied;25 and it was only the fear of being put to death that prevented him from setting about it, begging at least that he might be suffered to take one for himself.

None of the Others seemd inclined that way as they were perhaps better pleased with the plunder and saw that it was Contrary to our inclination

When we returned to the Fort we were Met by the Old Chief and his freinds who expressd much Joy at our Success; and here also Skinner Joind us, having sent Burkett on board—a Party were now sent to Gether in What Stock we wanted, and the Cow was brought to the Fort without Opposisition–

When we Came on board we found that Burkett had got his wound dressd which was in a fair way of doing well, the Spear having struck against one of his ribbs but wanted force to break it and in a short time it got heald—however this affair gave us a very mean oppinion of our bayonets tho Several had fallen by them who always broke the Neck of the Bayonet & left us the Socket on our Musquet while the Blade remaind in their Bodys—our Amunition being all we had to depend on, without which they would have been an Over match for us Man for Man their (p.75) Spears being so long that our bayonets could be of little or no use,—we observed that tho their Onset was furious and without order, yet evry party of 18 or 20 men had a leading man who appeard to have some authority and to whose orders they paid some regard–

On the 14th we killd the Cow which proved excellent Meat—This Evening Came on board the young Chief Ta‘aroamaeva and two of His Friends, who informd us that 60 Men had been killd; & 6 Weomen, who were supplying them with Spears & Stones, and a great Number Wounded among the killd, were several of Note, and Tinaraus brother, who had been killd by Mr. Christian himself—he said he had been so much Mr. Christian’s friend that if He staid on shore, he should be killd. Mr. Christian told him that He was going to Tahiti at which he seemd rejoiced, and askd if he would let him and his two Friends go with Him, to which Mr. Christian agreed and they expressd Much Satisfation, and having filld sufficient fresh water we weighd our anchors on the 17th and dropt down to the Opening without much trouble the Ship being much lighter than before, and having got clear of the Reef we lay by & filld Saltwater to keep her on her legs and at noon made sail, leaving Tubuai well Stockd with Hogs Goats Fowles Dogs & Cats, the Former of which were increased to Four times the Number we landed, but before I take my leave of the Island it may be proper to give some account of it and its Inhabitants.

Tubuai lies between 22º and 23º South and about 209º East Longd, is about 6 Miles in length from East to West, and about 22 miles in Circumference, being surrounded by a reef, a full mile from the Shore, and on the East part near 3 miles, having but one break or entrance on the N W part where the passage is but indifferent; tho in some places there is 4 or 5 fathoms—Within the Reef are six small keys Cover’d with Wood, Chiefly the Toa, a hard Wood, of which, the Natives make their Clubs & Spears—Four of these Islands or keys are on the NE Part and the others on the SE–

The Island is Mountainous with a border of Flat land running almost quite round of a Mile or a Mile and a half wide, great part of which is Covered with trees and underwood, which makes it difficult to pass by any other road then the Beach, to the Eastward the land is fertile and the low land broader then on either side, but the West end is rocky and barren. Off this part the Water is in general very shoal, and the reef nearest (p.76) the Shore—the lowland is in general Coral Sand, or rock Covered with a Fine Black Mould which in many places is not more than a Foot thick tho in some places it runs to a good depth—Near the Foot of the Hills, are Numbers of large Flat Stones and the earth is of a reddish Collour Covered with Fern, Reeds & Bamboo and on the top the ridges, are Naked rocks of hard brown Stone, tho the water is Shoal in some parts, yet in others there was no bottom with 40 fathom of line

It produces Breadfruit, Cocoa Nuts, Yams, Taro, Plantains, and almost every thing Common to the Society Islands and the reef affords Plenty of Fish and large Turtle

The Cloth tree here grows to a larger Size then in the Society Isles, tho they do not Cultivate it; they have Most of the Trees in Common with the Other Islands, they have also a Species of the Primrose. The Island is Watered with innumerable rivulets from the hills, which being bankd up for the Cultivation of Taro, affords Shelter to the Wild Ducks, which are here in plenty & affords also plenty of Fine Eels Shrimps prawns & a fish like the Millers thumb26

The Island is full of Inhabitants for its size and my Contain 3000 souls,27 their Collour is nearly the same as that of the Society Islanders; but they are more robust and have a more savage appearance, and this is hieghten’d by the Turmerick & the oil that they Use to Collour their Cloth, which gives them a Yellow disagreeable look28

The Men wear their Hair and beards in different forms as they please, and the Young Weomen wear their hair Long flowing in ringlets to their Waist and dress it with the White leaves of The Fara29 or Palm like ribbands and Odoriferous Flowers. They also make necklaces of the Seeds of the ripe palm apple & flowers Elegantly disposed; which not only Sets their persons off to advantage but afford a Continual Nosegay30 to themselves and all who sit near them and they are in General handsomer Weomen then any we saw in those seas—nor do they make use of the Lewd Motions or gestures in their dances so much in Use in the Society Isles tho they are equally good at that diversion and move with a becoming grace, and their dances seem Nearly those of the Friendly then the Society Isles–

Children of Both sexes go naked till they are 5 or 6 years old; the Boys have their Heads mostly Shorn; but the Girls hair is Sufferd to grow long which, as it is not of a strong Wiory nature but flows in ringlets, when (p.77) they arrive at 14 or 15 sets them off to much advantage,—the Old weomen Cut off their Hair when they Mourn the loss of their relations but we observed no marks of this kind on any that appeared Capable of Child bearing. They never kill their Children here as at the Society Islands, nor do they know any thing of Societys;31 they are Careful of them and use them very tenderly.

They have no Marriage Ceremony, but Join and live as Man & Wife while they agree; nor is virtue deemd of any consequence among them. While they agree they live on the Estate of either, & if they part after having Children the Man takes the boys and the Woman the Girls, & each retire to their own estate, the Children being No Obstacle being no hindrance of their getting other partners.

They Have no Tattowing32 nor do they Cut the Forskin but keep away all superfluous hairs from the Body; as they Seldom bathe in the Sea they are but indifferent Swimmers or Divers, the rivers being too Shallow for that exercise and few or none of the Weomen know how to swim at all–

Their Dress is similar to that of The Society Isles & both Sexes wear pearl shells in form of a Gorget with Collars of Hair Neatly plaited, these shells are Common but as we Saw No pearls, it is possible, as they always find them on the reef frequently dry, that the Oysters may loose their pearls while they lay open and half dead with the heat of the Sun after the Surf has thrown them up33

Their Temper appears in many respects Similar to the Indians of North America then any of their Neighbours; they seem rather Serious then lively and appear to be always ruminating on some Important business

When they go abroad, they have each a large piece Glazed Cloth of a Purple Collour which they Carry folded up, except it happens to rain, when they wear it by way of Cloak; if the rain Continues they Strip & tye a Girdle of Grass & leaves about their Middle; if they have no matting on, and Wrapping their Cloaths up in their Cloak proceed home, or to the next house when they have Dry Cloaths to put on–

Their Cloth and Matting are made from the Same Materials and after the same manner but is much Coarser, but they have a Method of dying & Glazing it so as to make it Turn the rain and Scenting it with sweet flowers & perfumes, they prefer the Cloth plant or Chinese Paper Mulberry to any other tho they have several other trees & Shrubbs fit for that purpose but this is the most durable;34 they do not bleach it so well as the Society (p.78)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 9. Pearlshell necklace, Tubuai, Austral Islands [990.2.1477].

Reproduced with permission of Musée de l’Histoire Naturelle, Lille

Islanders and their principal Collours are purple, Red & Yellow, the latter they extract from the Turmerick which grows in abundance here, but we could not learn how they prepared the others

Their Houses are built of an Oval form and at a distance resemble a long hay stack, They are from 40 to 80 feet long, and from 15 to 30 broad and about as much in height—the ridge is a Strong Beam, supported by two or more pillars, Chiefly Toa, and the Sides and top are a frame of Strong timbers Squared to 5 or 6 Inches and firmly lashd together, the Thatch is neatly made and Well put on is of the Fara or Palm leaves and will last several years; the Thatch reaches the Ground on the Back & Ends and on the front within about 6 feet, the Front is Closed with Timber (p.79) Neatly Carved & painted with a redish Collour and has several Openings about 4 feet high & 2½ Wide which have shutters, answering the double purpose of Doors & Windows, these Shutters are also Carved with rude figures of Men & Weomen and the Inside is Neatly lined with reeds, about 4 or five feet up—the Floor is Covered with Grass, to a good thickness, and a division in the Middle with a tier of Stones to part the Men & Weomen, at the end belonging to the Men is a place seperated from the rest for the purpose of Burying the Males of the Family;35 this place is fenced by a teir of Flat Stones set up on end four or five feet high, and here the Weomen must not Come—in this place they keep the Images of their Fore fathers or Tutelar deitys, as they beleive that their Souls are fond of seeing respect paid to their remains, and that they always hover about the place of these representatives. They are Curiously Carved and decorated with human hair, & the teeth and Nails of the departed friends, red feathers, & Pearl Shells neatly disposed–

The Chief of their furniture is Matts for sleeping on Baskets of Several Sorts and Neat platters of different Sizes for Holding their provisions, Stools for Beating pudding on and a Stone or pestle for that purpose, the Stools & Platters are Made of the Tamanu, or Callophylum Mophylum, with the Nut of which they Scent their Cloth—and when they go to Sleep they beat the Musquettoes out and make a fire at each Door to keep them out—as they are very troublesome and together with Fleas & lice keep them employd till Sleep gets the better of them, and the Rats run over them all night in droves, but as we left several Cats it is possible that in time they may reduce their Numbers. They have No Snakes or any thing more Venomous then a Centipede or Scorpion, and their Birds & insects are Common to all the Society Isles–

Their Food is Chiefly Breadfruit (which they preserve as the Society Islanders do making it into a sour past Calld Mahi) Yams, Taro, Plantains, Cocoa Nuts, Wild Roots & fish which they Bake in the Same Manner as at the Society Isles, they always Cook out of doors and the Weomen & their Servants are under the same restrictions Nor Can a Woman toutch What her Child has toutchd while the Child remains Sacred, and the Weomen are prohibited eating the Turtle, Cavally Dolphin & Albicore but may eat all the rest,36 they have abundance of the White Salmon, and plenty of delicious rock fish with Shell fish of several kinds, among which are a sort of Cockles which are excellent when Stew’d–

(p.80) The Turtle is also Sacred to the Men and is only Used as Sacrafices or eaten by the Chiefs & Priests–

Their canoes are differently built from any of the other Islands which we have seen, and are from 30 to 40 feet long and Carry from 12 to 24 men; they are narrow at the bottom, Spreading out to 16 or 18 inchs at the Gunnel, and Carry their bearings to the top, they are about 2 feet deep, and Sharp toward the head & Stern the Head resembling the Head of some Animal with a large mouth, and the Stern rises into a Scroll neatly finished and Carved.37 The Canoes are built of Several pieces well trim’d & Joind together by Seizings of the Fibres of the Cocoa Nut, the whole painted with a redish paint, and on the Sides are stuck with breadfruit Pitch, the Scales of the Parrot fish & Small Shells, in a number of arches, which have a handsom appearance, they are Built of Tamanu & Breadfruit and are Well finished, Considering their tools, Which are no other then a Stone or Shell adze, bones, & Sharks teeth with Coral & Sand to rub them Smoothe—after which the Skin of the Stringray, Nourse38 & Shark Serve to pollish the Work, which were all the tools We Saw them use, their paddles are from three to four feet long, and the blade is Circular, having a ridge on the one side like our Oars, but the other is hollow’d out instead of being flat. Their Fishing Geer are Hooks and lines, large Seines, Spears of different kinds pointed with Toa which evry fisherman makes for Himself; their Hooks are of Pearl Shell, Which they grind into form with a Stone & Sand, and drill a hole with a piece of a Shell or a Sharks tooth fixd in a long stick which they they Work between their hands after the Manner of a Chocolate Mill after which different sizes of the Branchy Coral Serve for files to Cut the hollow of the Hooks to their fancy; they have no beards to their Hooks but turn them with the Bow more rounding & the Point Close to the Back—they are of different forms as the Fisherman fancys—their lines & Netts are Made from the Bark of the Roa39 and are well twisted in three Strands

They have no sailing Vessels and Never leave the land except they are blown off as all the Islands of which they have any account are at too great a distance for them to hold any intercourse,40 and when they fish within the reef seldom use their paddles but set along with long poles or staves to prevent frightining the fish, they may be in Chace of; the White Salmon and the Turtle they Catch with their Nets some of which are very large and they have Several fine white Beaches to haul their Seines on–

(p.81) They have abundance of the ‘Ava or Intoxicating peper which grows without Cultivation, and they use it in the Same Manner as the Society Islanders prefering the method of Chewing it to any other

They Cultivate nothing but the Taro,41 a root of the Nature of a Yam which Grows in Watery Ground, the tops of which Make excellent greens, in the Cultivation of this root both Men & Weomen labour, taking great Pains to level the Ground and bank it up, so that the Water May Cover the Whole of it, their only Method of digging being with a pointed Stick and hauling the Brush up by the roots and when they find it Necessary to level a piece of Ground, they Carry the earth about in baskets saving the Stones for embankments, and find whether it is properly leveled by turning a Stream of water into it; as some of them are always employd weeding or planting, they always Carry with them a long staff or wand, with which they knock down the Ducks which they come within reach of, at this they are expert and frequently Come on them unperceived the large leaves of the Taro keeping them from the sight of the ducks till they are within reach–

Their war weapons are made of Toa, they are Spears or Lances 18 or 20 feet long, and regularly taperd from within about 12 or 14 inches of the Heel to the point, Clubs which answer the double purpose of Clubb & Spear; these are from 9 to 12 feet long, 2/3rds of which is a round Staff about the Size of the Common Spunge Staves, the remaining part is flat blade about 4 inches wide in the Middle and tapering from the Middle, each way; the point being Sharp enough to peirce a Mans body; on the head of the Staff where the blade Commences is wrought a Double diamond all wrought from the Solid and the Whole polish’d & finishd in a Stile that some good artists would be surprized at

The old Men have Walking Staves & handles of Fly flaps made of the same wood, highly finishd, on the Top of their Staves they generally have Carved a double figure of a man representing a figure with one Body & two Heads & some of two, standing back to back, their Fly flaps are made of the Fibers of the Cocoa Nut twisted & platted very Curiously42

When they are Accoutered for War, they bind a piece of red Cloth or Matting, or both, round their Waist with a Sash Made of the fibers of the Cocoa Nut Platted into Sennet, at each end of which hands [sic] a tossel of the Same. Round their waist they fill all the folds they Carry a Number of Flinty Stones; the Shoulder is Mostly bare, on their Breast a pearl Shell (p.82)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 10. Tahiri, flywhisk, Austral Islands [990.2.2548].

Reproduced with permission of Musée de l’Histoire Naturelle, Lille

hangs in a Collar of braided hair, and their head defended by a Cap made of the fibers of the Cocoa Nut wrought after the Manner and something in the form of a Bee Hive; they are covered with White Cloth, and on the top, a Bunch of black feathers from the Man of War Bird, and with a Spear or Club are Complatly equipt. Some of these Caps have a pearl shell on the front with a Semicircle of Feathers from the Wild ducks Wings round it, but these are more for Show then use but the Others will resist a severe blow, and a Cutlass will make no impression on them–

The Use Neither Slings, nor Bows, in War, and tho their Weapons bespeak them to be Warriors, yet it does not appear that they distroy the (p.83)

The Occupation of Tubuai

Figure 11. Tahiri, flywhisk (detail), Austral Islands [990.2.2548].

Reproduced with permission of Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, Lille

habitations of each other as in other Islands: many houses appear to have Stood Several Years, but they perhaps satiate themselves with blood for they appear to fight furiously.

Their Music are drums made of about 12 inches diameter and 4 feet long hollowed out after the Tahiti Manner and Covered with Shark Skin, others of about 18 or 20 inches high, & 10 diameter, Conch Shells with long tubes, Flutes of a larger size then those of Tahiti but Used in the same Manner—and the Sound of the Whole of them is more harsh and disagreeable then those of The Society Isles; tho the Workmanship is superior.

(p.84) Their Marae’s or places of Worship differ from these of the Society Islands, being all Flat pavements and having a number of large Flag Stones placed on end in tiers or rows in the Center,43 they are planted with the Ti or Sweet root having a long Stalk of about 6 feet long,44 and as thick as a mans finger; these places have each a little house on on Side, and bear some resemblance of a burying ground; here they offer Sacrifices of Men and Turtles. when a sacrafice is to be made all the Males in the district assemble at the Marae and the Old Men and the Priests (who are Numerous) always bring their Walking staves in one hand and a young Plantain Tree in the Other, these are thrown in a heap with long prayers when (if the sacrafice is to be a human one) the Victim is pointed out, & knocked down, When they soon dispatch him with their Staves which are sharpened at the point for the purpose the Body is instantly dissected with Bamboo knives, and each takes a part which he wraps in the leaves of the Ti and each Carries it to his own Marae, where it again offered, with a plantain tree—the Head, bones & bowels are Interd in the Morai, and a Stone put up, not to perpetuate the Memory of the Man but as a mark for the Number that have been Offered there. Some of these Morals has Numbers of those Marks. A Feast is then made, and eaten in the Morai, by the priests, of Fish, Bread, Taro &c—part of which is also offered with long prayers. The friends of the Victim, if he happen to have any, put up with it quietly for fear that they should follow him, on the Next like occasion. We knew of no more then two being Offerd during our Stay both of which were Young Men–

Besides the General Marae, each Father of a Family has one, Where they Make frequent tho not regular Prayer and Offerings, and if they are taken Sick they beleive it to proceed from the anger of the atua (or Deity) or from Some of their relations; or Should they go to War in a Wrong Cause they think that any Sickness which befals them at the time is sent as a punishment on them for their fault—On our first anchoring in Bloody bay Most of the Inhabitants of the Island flockd to that place, the land about which is an Uncultivated Swamp, and In the Course of the Few days that they remaind there for want of their Usual Bedding, they Caught Colds, Agues, & Sore Eyes Running at the Nose &c.—and all these they said fell on them through our means, and on this Account it was that we found Such an Alteration in their behaviour when We anchord the Second time45

(p.85) But the Priests, who Seemd to have all the Athority and be Nearly on a footing with the Chiefs, Seeing that we were no Other then Common Men and liable to accident like themselves, Could not bear to see such superiority as the Europeans in general usurp over those who differ from themselves, and became jealous of us with respect to their religious authority to which they saw that we not only refused to take notice of but even ridiculed, for this reason they used all the Means in their power to keep the Chiefs from making Friends, thinking perhaps that if we staid in the Island, their Consequence would be lessen’d, which in all probability would have been the Case46

The Island is Govern’d by three Chiefs, Tinarau, Tahuhuatama & Hitirere before Named,47 each of whom are absolute in His own district and of these two are related by Marriage, Tinarau having The Sister of Tahuhuatama to Wife. Yet they do not agree; and notwithstanding the Smallness of their territories they are continually at War. There Are Other Chiefs, who reside as private Gentlemen of those we found Tamatoa to be one, Who on our first Coming Acted for Hitirere, and Ta‘aroatehoa acted for his Father; one of these are always as it were in Commission and the other on Half Pay and if one is removed by War, Death or otherwise the other always Supplys his place, receiving his honors nor does the deposed Chief suffer no more than the loss of Command & is always treated with respect, but no man can ever arrive at that dignity unless his Father Was a Chief. Their Classes are the Same as at the Society Isles, but the Priests seem to have more Influence and appear to be next to the Chiefs in point of Authority48

Their Language is a dialect between the Society & Friendly Islands but not so much different from either as to prevent its being understood by both; and it is more then probable that they are all decenced originally from the same stock, tho so much Different in their Manners Customs and Appearance. In Other Countrys it is observed that the Inhabitants of the Northern & Southern Climes are more robust in general then those within the Tropics but it is to be observed in those Seas in Islands at an Inconsiderable distance from each other in a North & South direction.49 Perhaps this may be occasioned by the different degrees of Fertility of the Islands, which are generally more Fertile near the line then at a distance from it and the Inhabitants of those Isles where evry Necessary is Supplyd by Nature have no occasion to Cultivate the Earth and are less (p.86) robust and vigourous then those Who have Exercise and Labour in procuring their Food

The Inhabitants of Those Islands drive about in their Canoes to an amazing distance and I am therefore led to think that the whole of the Islands in these seas might have been peopled from South America, Notwithstanding the difference of their Language Manners & Customs all which are liable to Change in length of Time yet the present language of all the Islands in these Seas differ no more then the English dose in different Countrys.50

On one of Their Maraes we found part of a Canoe which we knew to belong by its form to some of the Society Islands; and on making enquirey, one of our Tahitians (Named Tupairu, Colemans Friend) declared that She was the same that had been drove off From Tahiti with Six or Eight More, of which he related the Following Story.—

Some years before our arrival at Tahiti the Districts of Hitia‘a, Matavai, Ha‘apaiano‘o, Puna‘auia, Tiarei & Pare (Commonly calld, Te Porionu‘u or Te Aharoa) being at War with Atehuru, Sometimes Calld Te Oropa‘a, each district furnish’d their proportion of Men & Canoes; to one of which He (Tupairu) belongd; being then resident in Ha‘apaiano‘o, the Canoes being assembled at Pare, they proceeded to a place in Atehuru Calld Taiarapu, where they landed, and attackd Te Oropa‘a but were repulsed, and forced to retire to their Canoes; however, they brought off several of the Enemys dead, one of which was put into Tupairus Canoe, in the Meantime the Oropa‘a Fleet came up and Closed them so vigorusly that they were forced to Fly, and at last to Jump overboard and take to the Shore at Ta‘apuna (another part of Atehuru) leaving their Canoes to the Enemy who followed them on Shore without seizing their Canoes, where they were forced to fly to Pare; the Wind being off shore Some of the Canoes were drove on the reef and dashd to pieces and Eight or nine drove to Sea among which Tupairus was one and these they saw no more of,51

This story agreed exactly with the account of the Natives of Tubuai and we had no doubt of the part of the Canoe found here being the same that Tupairu described, as the time of Her Coming on Shore agreed, and part of a man being found in her with the Flesh decayd, and eaten off the Bones by the Birds, She must have been some days in drifting here as the distance is Nearly 6 Degrees of Lattitude but nearly on the same Meredian of Longde

(p.87) This Circumstance led us into further enquirey to know if any such thing had happened before; when we found that the Present Tamatoa was Great great Grandson to a Chief of the Island of Ra‘iatea (an Island 120 Miles N W of Tahiti) who had been driven off in a fishing Canoe, and after being drove about for some time, had landed on this Island which was then but thinly inhabited by some people, who had been driven to it in the Same Manner from an Island which they Calld Rurutu52 which they described to be at a great distance to the Westward and some others from an another which they Call’d O Hiva to the Eastward.53

On his arrival he settled himself not knowing his way home, and was acknowledged as a Chief by these people,54 he also Gave Names to three Districts from the three Islands of Ra‘iatea, Taha‘a, & Huahine, which they still retain.

This was further Confirmed on our return to Tahiti, where we learnt from Purea, the present Queen Dowager, and Mother of Tu (or Mate,) who informd Us that Her Great gt Grandfather Named Tamatoa, a Chief of Ra‘iatea, was lost or blown away in a Fishing Canoe and had never been heard of since, and the Young Tubuai Chief was imediatly acknowleged as her relation and adopted the Friend of Mate who wishd to make a voyage to Tubuai to Claim his kindred with Tamatoa, the time of these Circumstances agreed so well with both their Accounts that we remaind in no doubt of their being Facts–

This, with an account of several Islands which they discribed in different directions, were the Principal information we were able to Collect from these people; and tho from their Savage Appearance we at first supposed them Cannibals yet we found that tho they had no animal for food that they detest the Idea of eating human Flesh,55—and now to return to the Ship—


(1.) J. C. Beaglehole, ed., The Journals of Captain James Cook (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1955–1967), 3:185

(2.) Niko Besnier, “Polynesian Languages,” in William Bright, ed., International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 245–251.

(3.) Morrison is explicit about there being no hogs on Tubuai. Indeed, this lack of ready livestock was the major motivation for the mutineers’ return to Tahiti: “Mr. Christian having formd a resolution of settling on this Island, determined to return again as soon as he could procure sufficient stock of Hogs Goats & Poultry of which we Saw None on the Island.”

(4.) The Islanders’ response here recalls that of the Tahitians in the course of first contact with Wallis in 1767. If, broadly speaking, Polynesians were open to contact with outsiders and interested in the scope for exchange and alliance, they were nevertheless initially often cautious or hostile, treating visitors as potential invaders until more friendly intentions were plausibly demonstrated.

(5.) In fact, sinnet cords were an intrinsic component of formal ritual. Bound during the steady recital of chants, they facilitated interaction with gods. The binding of sinnet cords in this scenario likely served as a spiritual safeguard for the Islanders as they approached the unknown quantity of the Bounty.

(p.297) (6.) Bloody Bay is located in the district of Mata‘ura on the northern shore of Tubuai.

(7.) This most likely resulted from deliberate evasion on the part of the Islanders.

(8.) Christian had no doubt read John Hawkesworth’s account of the voyages of Byron, Wallis, Carteret, and Cook, and imagined that the people of Tubuai could be subdued on the model, as it were, of Wallis’s assault on the Tahitians.

(9.) Mutiny was, of course, a capital offence.

(10.) This story was obviously prompted by the First Fleet settlement at Port Jackson; the ships had left England in May 1787.

(11.) I.e., the island in the southern Cooks called at during the Bounty’s cruise westward toward Tonga.

(12.) The extreme reaction of the Tubuaians may have owed more to astonishment than terror given the sheer quantities of hogs that Christian and his crew were landing, which was a clear indication of the potential of the newcomers. If Tubuai had few stocks of their own, we know that on neighboring Rurutu the sacrifice of hogs was certainly a principal feature of ritual (hence its repeated incorporation into significant ritual objects such as whale ivory and bone necklaces and ear ornaments, see Figs. 6 and 7).

(13.) Morrison’s versions of the names of Tubuai individuals have been changed to standard orthography (see Preface), but whereas these are well established for Tahiti, this can only be done more conjecturally for Tubuai, as Morrison appears to be the only extant source for these particular people.

(14.) We are grateful to Mark Eddowes for establishing that the marae likely visited by Christian for this ceremony of welcome and name exchange with Tamatoa would have been marae Tonoha‘e in Mata‘ura (Mark Eddowes, pers. comm., 21 Feb. 2008).

(15.) During Cook’s second voyage, the mariners had learned that Tahitians, Marquesans, and others valued red feathers above virtually all other goods they could offer in trade. Feathers generally were associated with divinity and incorporated into sacred objects of various kinds; red was a tapu (taboo) color, and red feathers were especially scarce and sacred. On Cook’s third voyage, and on subsequent voyages, it had therefore become common practice to include feathers from England with other goods (nails, mirrors, fabric, etc.) intended for trade with Pacific Islanders.

(16.) The use of plantain leaves as emblems of peace is well attested in accounts from Tahiti.

(17.) The fort was constructed on a site in the district of Taahuaia. The English conchologist Hugh Cuming mentions investigating the site during his brief visit to Tubuai in 1828: “The fort built by Fletcher Christian during his short stay on the North part of the Island is overgrown with trees. […] had I not been advised (p.298) where to look for it by John Adams when at Pitcairns Island I should not have been able to find it.” Hugh Cuming, “Journal of a Voyage from Valparaíso to the Society and Adjacent Islands Performed in the Schooner Discoverer, Samuel Grimwood, Master in the year 1827 and 1828,” Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, CY 194 (A1336); 119–129, 128.

(18.) There are no relevant subsequent accounts of Tubuai mortuary rites with which to compare this, but the account of ritual grief, cutting, etc., is consistent with practice elsewhere in Polynesia. Mark Eddowes confirms that the marae associated with Tahuhuatama and this district is marae Pe‘etau in Taahuaia (Mark Eddowes, pers. comm., 21 Feb. 2008).

(19.) The difference in form between European axes and Polynesian adzes probably meant that the technical efficiency of the former was not immediately evident. When Tahitians and others adopted iron axes they typically rehafted them into adze form (with the blade at right angles to the axis of the haft).

(20.) This presumably refers to the same type of varnishing of tapa as was common, for example, in Tonga.

(21.) No Tubuai god or ancestor figures survive. Complex and dynamic interactions between the islands have made it difficult to plot the precise provenance of much Austral Islands material culture, and Tubuai in particular is very sparsely represented in ethnographic museum collections, its art and material culture poorly described. The class of object most reminiscent of that described by Morrison are the finely carved flywhisks with Janus figures that also incorporate pearl shell, hair, feathers, etc. (Fig. 11). Christian’s action on this occasion would indeed have been effective, as god images were appropriated and contested in the course of local warfare. For a recent analysis of complex ritual assemblages produced in the Austral islands, see Maia Jessop [Nuku], “Unwrapping Gods: Encounters with Gods and Missionaries in Tahiti and the Austral Islands, 1797–1830,” doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia, 2007.

(22.) Note that Morrison’s original orthography for this woman, the daughter of the Tubuai chief, is Wyakka.

(23.) tapaSmith, Intimate Strangers, 172–175ArioiAnne Salmond, Aphrodite’s Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti (Auckland: Viking, 2009), 28–30. (p.299) parae

(24.) Unsound, shaky.

(25.) This aspect of Tahitian warfare was not commonly noted, but during his tour with Banks around the island of Tahiti in June–July 1769, Cook did see a set of men’s jawbones, very likely trophies of war; Beaglehole, Journals, 1:110.

(26.) I.e., the Bullhead (Cottus gobio), but this is a freshwater fish, unlike whatever small coastal species Morrison refers to here.

(27.) Robert T. Aitken, Ethnology of Tubuai (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1930), 4.

(28.) Turmeric: widely used not as a condiment but as a dye of fabric and in self-decoration in Oceania.

(29.) I.e., pandanus.

(30.) A posy of flowers.

(31.) Infanticide was widely practiced in the Society Islands, partly in order to limit the transmission of high rank. Morrison’s reference to the people of Tubuai not knowing “Societys” must mean that there was no counterpart to the Tahitian Arioi society that he observed or understood existed there; he makes the association because Arioi practiced infanticide more or less routinely.

(32.) Morrison’s bold assertion is not grounded in any evidence and is highly unlikely.

(33.) It is probable that the larger pearl shell discs were traded down to Tubuai from the Tuamotu archipelago and/or Tahiti. Morrison says as much in his “Account of the island of Tahiti and the Customs of the Islanders” when he writes: “the Iron work left at Tahiti is distributed among all the Islands they are acquainted with; in return for which get Pearls, Pearl shells &c.—Some of the Islands they sail to are at the Distance of more than 100 Leagues.”

(34.) Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera, a.k.a. Morus papyrifera) was the tree most widely used for making tapa across the Pacific, though others such as breadfruit and ficus species were also used.

(35.) In Tahiti by contrast, men’s and women’s houses were typically separate; however, the practice here of dividing the house has parallels elsewhere in Oceania.

(36.) Again, these tapu restrictions are consistent with those of the Society (p.300) Islands, the Marquesas, and elsewhere in eastern Polynesia. Morrison does not make it clear whether women of high rank were exempted, though this may well have been the case.

(37.) This description makes Tubuai canoes closer to those of Maori than those of the Society Islands, though the basic forms are cognate.

(38.) I.e., a Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), though whether this particular species is specifically intended is unclear.

(39.) The bark fibres of roa (Urtica Argenta) were twisted into strands to make cord and lines for fishing nets (see also Appendix IV).

(40.) This bold statement may derive from Morrison’s simply not having seen large oceangoing vessels during his time in Tubuai or from an assumption on his part that the vessels he did see could not manage the vast distances involved in interisland voyaging. Again, while Morrison seems keen to insist on the relative isolation of Tubuai, declaring “nor do they know any thing of [the] Societys,” there is no reason to believe that Tubuaian navigational skills would depart markedly from those of the rest of Polynesia.

(41.) This is an overstatement, though it may well have been the case that agricultural labor was only conspicuously dedicated to taro: other trees and plants such as coconuts, yams, bananas, ‘ava, and gourds, were certainly planted and to some extent tended, even if, to a European visitor, they appeared to grow spontaneously.

(42.) As was noted earlier, this artifact type, described precisely here, is the only sculptural form from Tubuai even moderately well represented in collections. See Thomas, Oceanic Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), fig. 126; and Steven Hooper, Pacific Encounters: Art and Divinity in Polynesia 1760–1860 (London: British Museum Press, 2006), 206–208.

(43.) It would be more accurate to say that these marae differed specifically from the Tahitian type, which typically featured stepped-stone structures; the marae of Huahine. among those of other parts of the Society Islands, were made up of flat pavements with upraised stones representing deified ancestors at one (seaward) end, similar to what is described here.

(44.) Ti (Cordyline fruticosa) was widely planted throughout Polynesia and had ritual associations.

(45.) Illness was to be sure, typically understood as the result either of some transgression of tapu, wrongdoing, or of sorcery, but the Tubuaian willingness to accommodate the Europeans when they returned may well have been motivated by other considerations, such as a sense that they could make useful allies in local disputes.

(46.) This observation seems similarly speculative.

(47.) Mark Eddowes confirms that the Tamatoa, Tahuhuterani, and Tehuhuhatama (p.301) xchiefly lines remain to this day in Tubuai and notes that the Hitirere line seems to have been eclipsed at some point during the nineteenth century (Mark Eddowes, pers. comm., 21 Feb. 2008).

(48.) No doubt forms of rank and status were broadly congruent. The paucity of complementary information makes it more or less impossible to judge whether Morrison might have been correct in considering Tubuai priests more consequential than their Tahitian counterparts.

(49.) Esprit des loixObservations made during a voyage round the worldHarriet Guest, Empire, Barbarism, and Civilisation: Captain Cook, William Hodges, and the Return to the Pacific (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 91–123.

(50.) Patrick Vinton Kirch, On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

(51.) Canoes were commonly driven off course or away from home ports by storm; there are many similar accounts of people reaching islands at a considerable distance, such as those in the Australs or Cooks, alive, and resettling among communities there.

(52.) Genealogical links between the Austral Islands and Ra‘iatea are recorded in the puta tupuna of leading Rurutuan family Te Uruari‘i, formerly known as Te Manu-ura and noted by Alan F. Seabrook in his unpublished manuscript “Rurutuan Culture” (Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1938), 17–19. This line of chiefs navigated southwards from Ra‘iatea (or Avai‘i, as it was then called) to settle in Ra‘ivavae, and over the course of generations moved westwards to (p.302) Tubuai and from there to Rurutu, planting stones and establishing marae with similar names on each island (ibid., 23).

(53.) This island cannot be obviously identified; the term “Hiva,” however, was common in island names of the Marquesas (Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, etc.).

(54.) Marshall Sahlins, Islands of History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), chap. 3

(55.) Although there is archaeological evidence for cannibalism from parts of eastern Polynesia, and the practice was referred to mythically or attributed by people to the supposedly savage inhabitants of other islands, it was not practiced by people of these archipelagoes at the time of contact with Europeans.