Tag Archives: Captain James Cook

The time of Maori

The time of Maori


So far as we know, the original inhabitants of New Zealand were a dark-skinned race called Maoris, a people lithe and handsome of body, though generally plain of features: open, frank and happy in youth, grave and often melancholy in their older years. They numbered forty thousand in the North Island, where the warmth of the climate suited them, but in the South Island there were only two thousand. They were divided into tribes, who fought fiercely with one another; cooked and ate the bodies of the slain, and carried off the vanquished to be slaves.

Civilising the cannibals

Civilising the cannibals

Western visitors to Fiji in 19th century liked to watch what they ate. Traveller John Erskine, for instance, was suspicious about some ‘pork’ he was offered and threw it away, convinced it was human. Similarly, labour recruiter John Gaggin paid close attention to the cutting up of a pig “to satisfy [himself] it was… not a baked boy or girl”.