Friday, 30 November 2018

The Bay's Culture-crossing Traders

The Bay’s first Pakeha-Maori (white men gone native), were fully assimilated by their host tribes. A mix of fugitive convicts and sailors, they lived as Maori and were treated as Maori. From the late 1820s, a number of young adventurers began arriving in the Bay as independent traders or as agents for Sydney trading houses like Montifiore and Co. Landed on the beaches at Tauranga, Maketu, Matata, Whakatane and Te Kaha with a small mountain of trade goods, they quickly learned to honour Maori customs in the interests of security and profit.

A challenge outside Maketu Pa. Trader Pakeha-Maori showed respect to local rangatira (chiefs), tohunga (priests) and honoured many aspects of tikanga Maori (Maori law).
Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library (Robley, Horatio Gordon, 1840-1930 :Tattooed gate, Maketu. Ref: B-139-016. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23136104)
The traders’ stores were immediately placed under ritual tapu by local rangatira and typically comprised: cases of muskets, colonial pipes and ironmongery including cutting and stabbing weapons of iron and steel, barrels of gunpowder and rum, sheets of lead for bullet making, bales of blankets and clothing, and numerous baskets of tobacco. These goods were exchanged for large bales of dressed flax, vast quantities of long life provisions, particularly potatoes, pumpkins and Indian corn and droves of pigs, which were killed, salted and casked aboard visiting Sydney and Hobart trading or whaling vessels.

While the traders retained basic European values and never fully capitulated as Maori, most married wahine rangatira (chieftainesses), become fluent in te reo and learned to understand and honour tikanga Maori (Maori law). Over time, the traders became irrevocably changed by their culture crossing experiences. European newcomers, recognizing their ‘otherness’ referred to them too as Pakeha-Maori and some modern historians have termed them ‘a third kind of New Zealander.’

Phillip (Hans) Tapsell in on old age.
A Maketu based trader Pakeha-Maori, Tapsell was noted for his courage and adaptability.
Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library (Phillip Tapsell. Ref: 1/2-005486-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23124135)
Trader Pakeha-Maori founded families well known in Tauranga today. Otumoetai Pa was the permanent base for Tauranga’s first trader James Farrow (1829) and our best known trader John Lees Faulkner (1839). The French traders at Tauranga were Pierre Potier (1840), Emile Borel (1842) and Louis Bidois (1844).  Other Bay trader Pakeha-Maori of note included Phillip (Hans) Tapsell at Maketu (1830), Thomas Taylor at Whakatane (1832) and the chevalier Captain Peter Dillon at Maungatapu Pa (1835).

Bentley, Trevor. Pakeha-Maori: The Extraordinary Story of the Europeans Who Lived as Maori in Early New Zealand. Auckland, Penguin, 1999.

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