Volume 67 1958 > Volume 67, No. 3 > Ranginui, captive chief of Doubtless Bay, 1769, by R. R. D. Milligan, p 179-203
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  • BLOOD GROUPS IN MAORIS. By J. M. Staveley and R. Douglas 239
  • Geddes, W. R.: Nine Dayak Nights. Andrew Sharp and Murray Groves.
  • Freeman, J. D.: Iban Agriculture. Marshall Sahlins.
  • Held, G. J.: The Papuas of Waropen. Ralph Bulmer.
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Portrait of Ranginui, the Captive Chief, from the Journal of Pottier de l'Horme
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FOR SOME TIME the author has been engaged in studying the records of the voyage of the Chevalier J. F. M. de Surville in the St. Jean Baptiste, and several articles have been prepared dealing with his visit to New Zealand. The main purpose of this paper is to present new, that is to say, unpublished, information about the captive chief, together with circumstances of his capture and the localisation of these events. But in order to present this information intelligibly, some reference in depth must also be made. These background details will be given only in such amount as seems desirable.

The St. Jean Baptiste was a privately owned vessel of 700 tons. She had been specially built for this voyage, and was fitted and armed to carry out the dual purpose of her owners; first, to make a preliminary investigation of trading possibilities between the East Indies and French India; and, after that, to proceed on a secret mission. The latter was more of a public and patriotic nature than a private one, having been authorised by the three owner-partners of the enterprise; namely, Law de Lauriston, Governor of Pondicherry, Chevalier, Governor of Chandernagore at the Hugli, and Surville himself, chief officer of marine of the French India Company. Surville had also been nominated as successor to Law in the governorship, in the event of the latter's death or incapacity. The secret mission was to search for, find, and take possession of, for the King of France, the small island, inflated in size and significance by travellers' tales, which at various times has been called Davis's Land, David's, Paasch, San Carlos, and is known to us today as Easter Island.

Surville, the commander of the St. Jean Baptiste, was then 52 years of age. A seaman by profession and, until recently, an active captain of various ships of the Royal Navy of France, he had taken part in years of sea-warfare against the English on the coasts of India. His reputation was particularly high for personal courage and for cool and competent action in emergencies. 1

The voyage of the St. Jean Baptiste, which for some months was to be devoted to trading among the islands north of Malacca, began with the departure of the vessel from Pondicherry on 2 June, 1769. It ended prematurely with Surville's death by drowning at Chilca, 30 miles south of Callao on 7 April, 1770, while attempting to go ashore to procure help. Following the official French chart which, unknown to him, showed the supposed position of David's Island about 300 miles too

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far west, he had beaten about in the vicinity of the island without sighting it. Shortage of water, a new outbreak of scurvy, and the dangerous state of decks and rigging caused him to break off the search and make for Callao to refit the vessel and recruit his depleted crew. After that, he intended to renew the search for the island; but with his death everything was changed.

Although the Spanish had never visited Easter Island and regarded its existence as somewhat apochryphal, it was claimed as Spanish territory by virtue of the original Papal division of all found and not-yet-found lands of the world, between Portugal and Spain. On the charge that the mission of the St. Jean Baptiste was an attempted subversion of Spanish sovereignty over the island, the Lima authorities seized the vessel, impounded all the ship's documents and journals, and interned under guard all the officers and crew. They then submitted the matter to the slow processes of Madrid. Meanwhile, the Viceroy despatched an expedition under the command of Gonzalez to take possession of Easter Island. 2 After suffering detention for three years, the St. Jean Baptiste was allowed to proceed home. But so many deaths and desertions had occurred among her crew while at Callao, that she would never have been able to leave port had not a reinforcement of over 60 Spanish sailors been provided. On 7 April, 1773, she left Callao under the command of Labé, the former first officer, with L'Horme, former second officer, promoted to first. Five years after she had set out from France, the St. Jean Baptiste returned to her home port, L'Orient. So ended one of the most unfortunate and frustrated voyages in the annals of Pacific exploration by Europeans.

The visit to New Zealand followed on a long journey southward past the east coast of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. At Port Praslin, north-eastern Ysabel, a stay was made for nine days. Here a ceremony of taking possession was performed in the name of the King of France. This was the last anchorage before the anchor was again dropped at Doubtless Bay in New Zealand on the evening of 17 December, 1769. Unknown to both of them, Surville and Cook had passed in the vicinity of North Cape. Although Surville believed he was the first European to visit New Zealand since Tasman, no ceremony of taking possession was performed at Doubtless Bay. 3

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In the Solomon Islands, what was called scurvy, but what was probably a combination of scurvy with then-unknown tropical diseases, attacked the crew with great severity. Fifty-four men died before New Zealand was sighted on 12 December, 1769. Eight more died at New Zealand, and nearly all the remainder were suffering from greater or less degrees of the same malady. So weak were they, that they could scarcely pull round the heavy yards of the vessel, especially in rough weather. It was this menace of disease which was uppermost in Surville's mind when he sought refuge in Doubtless Bay. To restore their health he bent all his energies, even to the exclusion of his interest and duty to make further explorations in New Zealand. He was no less ardent than Cook in attempting to defeat scurvy by the use of fresh foods, especially fresh green vegetables, together with fresh air and water and healthy exercise on shore. Unfortunately New Zealand fell short of expectations in regard to refreshment, freedom, and social amenities. Nevertheless considerable progress had been made in the restoration of health, when the French were visited by a new disaster. In a great storm the St. Jean Baptiste escaped total shipwreck only by what Labé later described as “a miracle.” Three anchors were lost, and the rudder and rigging seriously damaged. Another anchor had been lost at Timon, north of Singapore. Only one heavy anchor was left. This was not enough to hold the vessel in any narrow strait or in a storm, which latter seemed only too likely on this astonishingly turbulent coast, even although it was, by the calendar, midsummer.

It was the impossibility of anchoring safely which compelled Surville to leave New Zealand prematurely. The incident of the stolen ship's boat, which led to the seizure and abduction of Ranginui, came on the fifteenth and last day of Surville's relaxation at Doubtless Bay. That was Sunday, 31st December, 1769. Had the disastrous loss of anchors and cables (all rope cables in those days) not occurred he would have stayed to make further explorations. He tells us so in his journal. The distressing events of his last day in New Zealand should be considered as in some measure dependent upon and precipitated by his already made decision to depart. 4 A few hours after the captive chief had been taken on board, the St. Jean Baptiste left the anchorage and set out on her long stormy course towards Peru. The eastward passage lay generally between 34 and 43 S. latitude. Made by a damaged ship and a sick crew, it was an achievement which has received inadequate attention. Before Surville, no European had ever traversed the Southern Ocean from west to east.


The death of Surville, the collapse of the expedition, and the three years detention, all combined to delay publication of information about - 184 the voyage of the St. Jean Baptiste. Moreover, the brillance of Bougainville's account of Polynesia and the exciting achievements and great fame of Cook, put less successful and less lucky voyages in the shade and made their journals unprofitable to publishers. It was not till 1783 that an abbreviated account of Surville's voyage was published in France by Abbé Rochon as an appendix to a narrative of the voyage of Marion du Fresne. It contains an account of the seizure of the Maori chief at Doubtless Bay and gives his name. Translations of this book soon appeared in other European languages, including English. The name of the chief has therefore been widely known in the world for 175 years. In 1914, McNab published in Historical Records of New Zealand a journal kept by Monneron, who was with Surville, together with extracts from the journal kept by L'Horme, second officer of the St. Jean Baptiste. 5 This appears to be the first time that any journal of the voyage was published in full. Nothing new was added to our sources of information until, in 1948, M. Armand Gazel, Minister of France at Wellington, presented a microfilm of the New Zealand part of Surville's own journal to the Alexander Turnbull Library. It is true that in the collection of documents made by the Department of Internal Affairs for centennial purposes there is a photostat copy of Surville's journal in a Spanish translation; but no public use appears to have been made of it. Some information from the Spanish version is embodied in this paper.

In 1953, in order to bridge various gaps in the records and at the author's request, the Alexander Turnbull Library procured a number of supplementary documents. These consist mainly of photostat copies of the original journals of Surville, Labé, L'Horme and Monneron. Copies of an incomplete set of illustrations accompanying the journals were also obtained. They include charts of the northern coast of New Zealand and of Doubtless Bay; also the portrait of the “Chef de Sauvages de la Nouvelle Zélande,” herein called Ranginui. The new material considerably enlarges our knowledge of Surville's voyage, and particularly the New Zealand portion of it. It discloses, too, that although the expedition was not a state-promoted enterprise, and although their opportunities both in the Solomon Islands and New Zealand were limited, Surville and his officers did their scientific work with great care and thoroughness. In this respect they did not fall short of the high tradition of French exploration of the Pacific, both before and after them. Another use of the new material is that it has permitted correction of astonishingly numerous errors which occur in McNab's version of the journals of Monneron and L'Horme. 6 Many of these errors were obvious enough even before the new material came.


The author's investigation of the records of Surville's visit to New Zealand began with his dissatisfaction with the name given in Craik's The New Zealanders. 7 The name there given is Naguinoui; or rather, - 185 there are two names, for he also gives Naginouni in a footnote. The former name is the one used by L'Horme. Monneron spells it Naquinovi, apparently intending the “v”. Neither Surville nor Labé give his name. Surprisingly, this is the only Maori name of person or place which occurs in the journals. This apparent inattention to the language of New Zealand is at variance both with French tradition and with other ethnographic records of the voyage. It seems likely that at least one of the officers specialised in the language side, and not impossible that his journal may yet be found. 8

At first it was easy to believe that, even if a search of the French journals should fail to yield a more promising name than Naguinoui (Nakinui), the missionaries of the Kaitaia Mission Station would be sure to have recorded the right name; for they must have been familiar with Craik's book, and certainly had frequent contact with Ranginui's descendants and even with some Ngatikahu people who were eye-witnesses of the kidnapping. But apparently they recorded nothing. Nor did such diligent enquirers as S. P. Smith and Judge Gudgeon, who were both familiar with Doubtless Bay, provide any enlightenment. Of the missionaries, only Colenso turned his attention to the tragic event, which he records as follows: 9

It is stated of the New Zealand chief Kiinui, who had been basely kidnapped and carried violently away from his native home (Doubtless Bay) by M. de Surville . . . and who died of a broken heart at sea on the 24th March, 1770, off the Isle of Juan Fernandez on their passage to France, that while he ate heartily of all the ship's provisions, he pined after the fern-root . . . (Rochon's Voyages [sic] aux Indes Orientales, tom 3, p. 389).
Curiously, Colenso does not explain that the name given in the work he quotes from is not Kiinui but Naginoui. It can hardly be doubted that the sole source of his information was Craik's The New Zealanders. He appears to have arrived at Kiinui by supposing that the chief repeatedly replied to questions or to sailors' horseplay: Na Kiinui, meaning, It belongs to me, Kiinui.

Moss merely speaks of the captive as “Nihonui, the old chief”. He does nothing to substantiate the name. 10

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With two exceptions, viz. the name Kiinui, first used by Colenso in 1880 and then copied by others, and the name Nihonui used by Moss in 1889, the chief's name in all publications examined is either Naginoui or some obvious variant of that name. 11

Hoping even at this late stage to discover at least the correct name of the chief, the author in 1952, then a newcomer to Doubtless Bay, made enquiry of every senior Ngatikahu person he met; but, as is customary with newcomers, without success. The following year, during the course of a series of articles on the early history of the district contributed to the Northland Age, Kaitaia, the author asked the kaumatua of the tribe to tell us publicly the name of the captive chief. As a result, the following editorial note appeared in that newspaper on 28 July, 1953:

The name of the chief kidnapped by the French navigator M. de Surville was Ranginui, says a kaumatua who gave the following information to the Northland Age through Mr. W. Karaka (Hon. Sec. Ngatikahu Tribal Committee). Mr. Karaka says that the memory of the incident has still been retained; and that his family and other Maori families of the district are direct descendants of the unfortunate chief who was captured after much kindness to the French, and who died thousands of miles from his homeland.
The Ngatikahu authority who provided the information was the late Pereene Tukariri (Matthews), a great-grandson of Ranginui. His eldest son, Mr. H. K. Tukariri, adds that a toki bearing the name Whakarau (made captive), made in memory of Ranginui, has been handed down from descendant to descendant and is still in the district.

After publication of the account of Surville's visit in the Northland Age, the author was repeatedly told by senior members of Ngatikahu that Ranginui was not captured by the French; that no chief would do such a foolish thing as had been stated; that instead of the chief, an underling, whose name was known, had been sent to represent him; and that they had been told all this by their fathers. This notion entirely fails to take into account the aristocratic and queen-bee-like courage of the pre-pakeha rangatira, a quality noted and commented on by the early navigators.

Oral traditions of the visits of the first Europeans, no doubt lively, detailed and accurate at first, under the gnawing of time and the sudden impact of European settlement, soon became thin and garbled. Regrettably, none of the settlers made accurate records of eyewitness accounts. The only Maori reference to Surville's visit which is on record appears to be the account given by Hehi, a local chief, in 1839, apparently to John White. It appears in Percy Smith's Peopling of the North. 12 Five ships, says Hehi, visited this part of the country before - 187 the whalers. The name of the first was Putere-o-Waraki, translated as The Drifting Stem of Waraki, a sea-god. The country it came from—one would expect this to be the name of the captain—was Upoko-tamoremore (Bald Head). Smith believes this refers to Tasman, for Hehi is reported as saying that this was “long before the one that came to Mangonui”. The second ship put in to the Bay of Islands and seems to refer to Cook, though no detail is given. The third ship went to Mangonui and “took away one of our people who was lost forever”. The fourth ship put in to Mangonui (?) to get firewood “which was the thing they took most of”. They gave those on shore some red garments. The fifth ship was the one “in which Governor King brought pigs, potatoes, and cabbages”. This refers to the visit of the Britannia to North Cape in 1793. In this account, the author's impression is that Hehi clearly understood the order of arrival and places of landing of these ships; and that its confusions are due to the Pakeha informant. The third and fourth ships of Hehi are evidently the St. Jean Baptiste; for Monneron records that Surville gave to a chief who climbed on board near Karikari Point a pair of red breeches; and Surville records that he made presents of red cloth at Rangiaohia. He also records that on every possible occasion his shore boats brought back firewood, green cresses, and celery.

The author offers a suggestion about the difficult names Putere-o-Waraki and Upoko-tamoremore. It is that Hehi may have been again referring to the St. Jean Baptiste and Surville. Surville invited the chief of Rangiaohia to fire a great gun, which he did by means of a lanyard, making with the shot a great splash across the bay to everybody's great astonishment. This shot may be the Putere. As for Upoko-tamoremore, it is unlikely that the Maori people of Manawatawhi were close enough to see the scalps of the Dutch commanders; and there is no record of the watering-party wearing morions. On the other hand, there is no information whether or not Surville was bald. But he was 52.

  • 1. The St. Jean Baptiste anchored in Doubtless Bay on the evening of Sunday, 17 December, 1769. On the evening of Sunday, 31 December, she sailed for Peru where her commander hoped to procure new anchors, to repair her rudder and rigging, and to recruit her crew.
  • 2. Once friendly contact had been made with the Maori people on the north shore of Doubtless Bay, sick and sound members of the crew went ashore each day to cut firewood, fill the water-casks, and gather cresses and wild celery as anti-scorbutics. Fish was often brought out to the ship and exchanged for linen and other goods.
  • 3. On the afternoon of 27 December a great storm blew up from an easterly quarter and lasted for three days. The three anchors dragged until the vessel was almost on a reef. At the moment of crisis sails were set and cables cut. Only by the skill and coolness of her commander she escaped destruction. The anchors could not be recovered.
  • 4. During the peril a sailing dinghy or yawl (yolle) which was in tow struck a reef, became submerged, and was freed by cutting the tow rope.
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  • 5. At the beginning of the storm a shore party, mostly of sick sailors and under the command of L'Horme the second officer, was unable to return to the St. Jean Baptiste and was forced to spend two nights ashore at Refuge Cove.
  • 6. A chief of the locality (Ranginui) brought dried fish to the shore party and provided a whare for shelter from the storm. On 29 December they returned to the ship which, on the 28th, had anchored about a mile and a half south of Refuge Cove.
  • 7. At dawn on 31 December the castaway yawl was seen from the deck of the ship. It lay stranded on the sandy beach at the western end of Doubtless Bay and was being examined by a group of Maoris.
  • 8. Surville at once took an armed party with him to repair the yawl and bring it back to the ship. Before he reached the spot where he had seen the yawl, it had been dragged over the shore dune into a deep stream and there hidden among reeds. After a long search it still remained hidden.
  • 9. Not far from a pa built behind the shore dune, Surville seized a chief who, on his beckoning, came over to him unarmed. He bound the chief and sent him on board the anchored longboat under guard. The locality where the chief was captured was not where Craik and all subsequent commentators supposed it to be. It was about three miles away from the cove where L'Horme's party had sheltered. Neither L'Horme nor the doctor, Dubucq, who had seen the chief at Refuge Cove, were with Surville when the chief was seized.
  • 10. In returning to the longboat, Surville burned all the isolated whare and whata he came across. He also seized two fishing canoes containing nets. He burned one and sent the other on board.
  • 11. On returning to the St. Jean Baptiste, Surville learned that the captive was the chief who had befriended L'Horme's party of sick men at Refuge Cove during the storm.
  • 12. At nightfall on the same day the ship sailed for Peru with the captive chief still on board.
  • 13. On 24 March, 1770, when islands of the Juan Fernandez group were in sight, the chief died of scurvy. On the 25th L'Horme records his death and gives his name as Naguinoui. Monneron also records his death and his name. In the four known journals of the voyage these are the only two records of his name.

The translations which follow have been made by the author from the sources indicated. The handwriting in all the journals is good, much better than average handwriting today. Surville, the oldest, is prone to spell or abbreviate his words according to fancy. The others are much the same. Surville's journal is occasionally difficult to decipher because of blurring from damp. Labé's writing is very neat and very small, with blurring making it impossible to be sure of some words. Occasionally there are errors in his journal. For example Labé says four anchors were lost at Doubtless Bay. Surville says three. Labé says two canoes were burned. Surville says one. L'Horme's - 189 journal is a model of clarity. It is well illustrated, well indexed, well written, and well preserved. One would expect him to reach high rank in the French navy.

1. Extracts from Surville's Journal

29 Dec., 1769. (At anchor off Refuge Cove. L'Horme's party of sick men is still detained there by the continuing storm.)

If I had believed that I could get out to sea, the large part of the crew which we have on shore would not have prevented me; because I believe very much in their safety with the natives of the country, to whom we have done nothing but good since we have been here. And this event proves well that it is always better to introduce oneself with gentleness and patience rather than with force and violence. Which, besides, always appears to me to somewhat unjust when done to people who are in their own country and have never thought of going and making trouble in our country.

(Later the same morning):

At 8 o'clock it blew from the north-west but had much diminished. Moreover the sea had fallen considerably. The wind blew from the land. The longboat which had been on shore returned, casting out, in order to be able to do so, the supplies of water and firewood which embarrassed it. This boat contained 33 men, as many sick as sound. The natives showed friendship to them and invited them to go to sleep in their huts—another proof that the gentleness with which we have treated them has had its effect.

31 December:

At daylight we perceived our yawl stranded at the top of the beach at the bottom of the main bay and several blacks inside examining it. I immediately had a boat launched, together with two carpenters and caulking materials. I also took a detachment of eight soldiers to secure it. I served out cartridges, and from the ship's side I steered straight for the spot where I had perceived the yawl. From the ship above one can distinguish things better even a short distance away. When in a boat at the level of the water, objects get lost. At length, although quite sure that I had steered correctly, I was very surprised on arriving at the beach to find no yawl there, nor any blacks. I imagined that I had deceived myself and that it must be a little to this side or that. I searched on both sides with my people. At last we discovered a track which showed us that it had been dragged over the dunes near the sea to a little river which is the other side of these dunes. This river has a lot of rushes into which they could have run and hidden the yawl; or perhaps led it away into the neighbouring lakes where this river appears to come from. We were all very tired with traversing so much sand and dunes during our search. Fortunately, on the way, we killed a number of birds. 13 They were quickly put in the cauldron with a lot of wild celery. It made a repast fit for the gods. Afterwards, up till noon, the wind blew from the S.S.W. and S.W.1/4W., but the weather was fine. A few squalls came, almost nothing, after which the sky remained clear and the wind dropped.

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1 January, 1770:

After an excellent dinner which I have referred to above, I proposed to try to avenge myself for the theft which they had just done under our very noses and eyes. I made my way towards the right hand corner of the bay, where the habitations are. We had not made a third of a league when we perceived a crowd of blacks in movement. Some mounted the slopes running. At the same time others were descending them, and others again were sitting in platoons on the same slopes. Some of the boldest were not far away from us. One of them even came forward making signs to me to go over to him; instead of which I remained still and made signs for him to come over to me. He hesitated for a long time. At last he made his decision and came straight over to me without arms. I reproached him for the theft of the yawl and at the same time ordered some sailors whom I had expressly brought with cords to bind him, which they did. I then had him conducted to our boat by the sailors and a soldier. Then, wishing to extend my vengeance still further, 14 I turned towards two nice canoes (pirogues) which were not far from us, both full of nice nets and ready to go fishing. I launched one of them and had it taken back to the ship; and, putting all the nets into the other canoe, since, being made only of reeds, I would not have been able to preserve them, I set fire to it. I did the same to five or six groups of fishermen's huts which were along the little river mentioned above, which they had abandoned at our approach. There were also some small store-houses for fern root, of which they make their daily food. I set fire to these also.
These people are very agile. Whenever I went towards them, suddenly they took to the high ground. Whenever I turned away, they followed me. While returning unmolested (tranquillement) and setting fire to everything, I had one alert. A soldier perceived from the summit of a dune some natives moving in file and going towards our boat, which was a good way off. I was afraid that they would take my prisoner from me, who was guarded only by two sailors and one soldier. I walked very quickly towards the boat, which fatigued me a good deal. I would have been very sorry to lose my prey.14 When I arrived at the boat, there were actually five or six natives there whom our prisoner was urging to defend him. They brandished their lances. Thereupon the first soldier and another whom I had sent fixed their bayonets at the end of their muskets, and the natives took to flight. We all embarked after setting fire once more to a little village which was near the boat; and at 4 o'clock we arrived on board. I had the longboat embarked immediately, and the captured canoe; and, seeing that day after day the wind continued too strong for people who are at their last cable and anchor; having in addition that which I specially wanted, namely a savage and a canoe of the country; our people also being partly restored in health so as to be able to sustain a little hardship, I ordered the anchor to be raised. At 9 o'clock in the evening we were under sail. The wind was a nice fresh south-westerly with some rain. At first we found depths of 7 to 15 fathoms, with gentle gradations. At 10.45 p.m. the point to starboard on entering the bay lay - 191 north of us. 15 It is from there that I take my departure; and straightway I put the vessel upon her course—N.E. 1/4N. The wind is south-west.

Side note to the above:

I omitted to say that, as soon as I returned on board, I assembled the Council (État-Major) in order to learn the choice which we now had to make in our unfortunate situation. It was agreed to go to Lima, according to the Council minutes, which have been signed by every member of the Council and of which I retain a copy.

It is significant that a phrase in the above account, “having in addition that which I specially wanted, namely a savage and a canoe of the country,” links up with a remark which Surville made in his journal the previous day (30th Dec.):

This morning I had a boat launched, the least damaged one, wishing to go ashore with the sick . . . to make a cast of the net; and also to see if I could bring back a native in order to extract from him afterwards whatever information it would be possible to obtain about this country.

It is not likely that Surville intended to kidnap an informant at this time. He had his sick ashore with him. Doubtless it was a volunteer he wanted. Moreover, we know that he intended to visit Mangonui Harbour on the following day. Yet it is plain that when advantage and opportunity coincide, he is just as ready to kidnap natives at Doubtless Bay as he had already been at the Bashi Islands and at Port Praslin. 16 That he intends to treat them, from his point of view, well, we do not need to doubt. There is the example of Lova Saregua, taken at Port Praslin, of compassionate interest to Monneron. The intention was the usual one: to make as much use as possible of the information they could give about their home coasts, to take them back to France, and later, if luck held, to return them to their native lands, there to act as useful intermediaries between their native nations and the European colonising one. But Surville's personal code, and the code of the service he belongs to, will not sanction even such pseudo-benevolent kidnappings without the coincidence of a third essential. Not till he has been provoked by acts on to which he can fix the label “aggression” will the gears of punitive action engage. To kill men, to lead them away captive, to destroy their homes, to exact compensation—all this was normal in 1760, and still is normal. And perhaps it is also normal to see how on this last day, now that the hour of action has come, Surville writes in his journal: les Noirs. Before this he has always written: les naturels du pays.

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Surville makes no further reference to Ranginui, except for a brief note in the course of his extensive comparison of the geographical features and people of Port Praslin with those of Lauriston (Doubtless) Bay. The date of this account is 1 January, 1770, but it is probable that, as with similar accounts made by his officers, the notes were made over several days. Lova Saregua is one informant, Ranginui the other. Referring to the latter's description of cannibalism by sign language, Surville says: “It appeared to me, according to the signs of my prisoner, that the flesh is quite uncooked; for he put no interval between the cutting and the eating.”

2. Extracts from the Journal of Labé, First Officer

At 5 o'clock this morning I saw our yawl or dinghy, which we lost in the gale, stranded in the S.W. ¼W. in front of us at a distance of 2/3 of a league, 17 with a number of islanders who were hauling it over the sand dunes. I thereupon informed M. Surville, who ordered me to launch the longboat, which I at once did, and armed it with 8 soldiers, 16 sailors, 3 carpenters or caulkers, and nails, brass, etc., so as to be able to repair it. The captain and several officers embarked and pulled away. 18 The said longboat was not halfway to shore when I first saw a number of islanders working to haul the yawl over the sand dunes, which they succeeded in doing. All day there was a succession of squalls.
At 2 o'clock this afternoon, we saw our people, the captain and others, gathered together and setting fire to some villages where there were a number of huts; also setting fire to two canoes and launching one. They launched it and set it alongside our longboat. Here is what happened to them. After taking soundings from the ship to the shore, the captain disembarked. Sounding from the ship to the shore, he found bottoms of from 6 to 4 to 3½ fathoms for more than 2/3 of the way, and from then on a very flat bottom right up to the place of disembarkation. Even this he did with some trouble. Having got ashore, they searched for the yawl without being able to find it. They saw its track clearly and followed it. It led them three or four ship lengths over the dunes to where there is a little river, very deep and narrow. This river is bordered with big reeds 19 and has several arms, two of which debouch into the bay in the N.W. quarter, and others which end in big lakes 20 and drain the water eastward to a mouth which is very easy to go up. I think the islanders have carried the yawl and then taken it away into the lakes which I have just mentioned, or hidden it in the big reeds which border the river. M. Surville, seeing the treachery and dishonesty of these great thieves the islanders and having searched persistently for the yawl, decided, in order to get it back, to seize whichever one of the islanders should present himself to - 193 him. 21 All these folk, seeing our people armed, took to flight. There was only one who came forward to our officers, holding in his hand a green branch, symbol of friendship.

Sunday Afternoon, 31 December, 1769:

In front of all these people M. Surville had him seized, bound, and led on board the longboat under a good escort, and then set fire to about 30 little cabins spread out in several little villages in the N.W. to S.W. 1/4W. on the sand dunes, all near the beach. He also burned two large canoes (pirogues) and several of their nets, which are very long; and seized one canoe which is 35 feet long from stem to stern. The islanders, seeing the fire in their houses, canoes, nets, etc., gathered in troupes round about, some distance away, armed with lances and truncheons; but they never dared to approach until after our people had retired to the longboat.
Then these poor unfortunates dispersed themselves around the cabins which were still burning; but it was too late. The fires had even spread right through the scrub and up the hill at the bottom of Refuge Cove and did not die out till 8 o'clock this evening.
The islander that M. Surville seized and brought on board is a man of about 35 years, and appears to be very strong and vigorous; 5 ft. 2 inches in height, very squarely built, tattooed, and coiffed like the Caffirs of the coast of Guinea, with long black hair bound in a queue, the body of similar colour to the people of the Coromandel coast. 22 His garment consists of a kind of mantle of dog-skin which covers the body. Parts not covered with this are covered with a flax garment. The poor fellow appears to be very gentle and very tranquil. He is the same one who offered to our gentlemen in the longboat to go and sleep in his cabin, and who brought them fish, etc. I have had to put irons on him for fear that he will escape by swimming.
In my opinion, M. Surville has made a great mistake in not seizing a dozen islanders. They would have served very well on board for managing the lower sails from the deck, we having already lost 60 men of the crew and more than 40 of them still sick. With the scanty crew which remains to us, we are not in a state to complete our operations, what with the shortage of men, victuals, and rigging. This New Zealand where we counted on doing marvels has provided nothing for us in the way of trade . . . 23
Our islander who is on board appears very sad. He often sighs and weeps. However, he has a good appetite and eats and drinks everything that he is given. The captain is taking good care of him, making him lie down on a paliasse in the Council Chamber beside the little Caffir whom we captured at Port Praslin. The latter is accustomed to our ways and no longer weeps for his native land. He is commencing to speak French. He is a very bright lad and has a lot of judgment.

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Monday, 1 January, 1770, Noon:

Our islander from Loriston Bay. It appears that he has made his choice. He no longer looks sad, laughs with everybody, eats and drinks well and sleeps well. He eats a lot. From time to time he is afraid that we are going to open his belly and then eat him. That is the way these islanders do to persons whom they take prisoner in their country, being liable to be attacked by people who come from the middle of New Zealand . . .

Sunday, 25 March, 1770:

. . . at 9 o'clock last night, the death from scurvy occurred of the islander whom we captured at Loriston Bay in New Zealand.

3. Extracts from the Journal of L'Horme, Second Officer

The only new extracts which will be given are L'Horme's journal entry of 25 March, 1770, and the portrait of Ranginui. But it seems worth while to repeat the entry of 31 December, 1769, already given by McNab.

31 December, 1769:

. . . I was touched with the greatest compassion on the arrival on board of this poor unfortunate, who, recognizing me and not knowing what was to be his fate, threw himself at my knees and clasped them strongly, tears in his eyes, saying to me things which I did not understand, but making signs to me that he was the man who had brought me the fish at a time when neither I, nor those who had the misfortune not to be able to rejoin the vessel, had anything to eat.

Saturday, 24 to Sunday 25 March, 1770:

. . . at 9 o'clock yesterday evening, our poor [New] Zealander named Naguinoui died of scurvy. At 10 o'clock the middle of Fuero Island lay N.S. 24

Frontispiece and Plates 1 and 2

Included in L'Horme's journal is a black-wash portrait of a Chef de Sauvages de la Nouvelle Zélande tiré au Naturel (frontispiece). While it is nothing much as a portrait, it contains interesting elements. The chief is naked and is grasping a mere in his right hand. From the text of L'Horme's journal we know that this is Ranginui; but we do not know for certain that the mere was his. That Ranginui went over to Surville expecting to make peace by the restoration of the boat and an exchange of gifts is obvious. Labé adds the tragedy-heightened remark that he came “holding in his hand a green branch, symbol of friendship.” Surville says that he came unarmed. Perhaps he means that the chief put down his taiaha. If this is his mere, and the author thinks it is very probably so, he came carrying the mere in his belt; not necessarily for self-defence, perhaps as part of the peace-making. L'Horme describes several kinds of mere and says that the usual stone mere is of

- i
Planche 10 of L'Horme's Journal

Translation of key:

  • A Image or idol of New Zealand
  • B Boat
  • C Paddle of the said boat
  • D Prow of the boat
  • E Ear pendant of green transparent stone
  • F Fish tooth attached to the ear pendant
  • G Another ear pendant of the same sort
  • H Spear tipped with a fish bone
  • I Truncheon of darkish stone engraved (burinée ?) on both sides.
  • K Club made from a whale rib
  • L Adze whose cutting edge is of stone
  • M Mattock completely of wood
  • N Fishhook with bone point
  • O Another fishhook, of shell
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Planche 12 of Monneron's Journal, after La Borde.
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a greyish blue colour. But the mere in the portrait is blackish. In the plate of illustrations of New Zealand artefacts which accompanies L'Horme's journal, the mere is listed as a Cassetête de Pierre noirâtre burinée des deux côtes (truncheon of blackish stone engraved on both sides). This is evidently the one that Ranginui is holding; it is not just an artistic addition. Some years ago the author attempted to enlist the support of the New Zealand government in a search (through the Embassy in Paris) for artefacts brought back by the Surville expedition. In particular it was hoped that Ranginui's mere might be found and, with the good will of the French government, returned to his descendants. No activity resulted. Perhaps the matter will now be driven further.

A point of interest about the moko design on the face and on the thigh below the coiled rape, is that they are done in the rather rare pouhoro style. While the face pouhoro is probably closely similar to the original, L'Horme has omitted other details such as the parallel lines running from above downwards. The decorations on the lower legs are also of interest. They consist of two figures suggestive of Gaelic harps on the back of the right calf, and a figure suggestive of a centipede on the back of the left calf. In the author's opinion it is not unreasonable to suppose that the harps and the centipede are meant to exhibit the same thing: namely the direct line of descent between Ranginui and his ancestors. In other words, it is here suggested that patterns on the lower legs served as a peripatetic rakau whakapapa. In another article, not yet published, the author has more fully developed an enquiry into similar symbolic figures which appear to disclose similar information. Admittedly, such an hypothesis can be established only by support from known whakapapa.

Although the plate of illustrations of New Zealand artefacts (planche 10) accompanies L'Horme's journal, the author's opinion is that it was not drawn by L'Horme but by Charenton. L'Horme, however, was a keen illustrator and it is possible that he drew a group of New Zealand artefacts, as he did with Ysabel artefacts. The plate of New Zealand artefacts (planche 12) which accompanies Monneron's journal was reproduced by La Borde in 1791 25 and shows the same objects as planche 10; but they are sometimes drawn from a different angle. They were probably done by Charenton also. The artefacts in planche 10 are: a tiki, a canoe, a paddle, an ear pendant, another ear pendant with a shark tooth attached, a fish spear, a mere, a whale-bone weapon, 26 an adze with stone edge, a wooden mattock (pioche), a large fish hook, a small fish hook, (Plate 1). In addition to the above group, planche 12 has a pa, a whata for fish, drying posts with fish nets, a 20 ft. long whare built of reeds and with a rounded end, (Plate 2).


Names used by Surville and his officers to indicate localities at Doubtless Bay are three only. They are:

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1. Baye [Baie] de Lauriston; written by Labé and L'Horme, Loriston. It had been named Doubtless Bay by Captain Cook, eight days before Surville anchored there, the two vessels having passed, on opposite courses and out of sight of each other, in the vicinity of North Cape. Lacking a Polynesian interpreter on the St. Jean Baptiste, Surville received no hint from the Maori people that the Endeavour had passed up towards North Cape without entering the bay.

2. Ance [Anse] Chevalier, or Chevalier Cove. The centre of the cove corresponds with what is now called Brodie's Creek by Europeans, and by the Maori people Kauhoehoe, Kopua-Parore being the name of the upper part of the inlet. The pa where Surville traded calico for fish, vegetables, and fuel is close to the centre of the cove. It is the famous and ancient pa Rangiaohia, generally, and wrongly, called by Europeans, Rangiawhia. It is the pa which comes into the legend of Kahukura and the fairies as told by Sir George Grey in Polynesian Mythology. 27 The site of the volcanic rocks which probably gave rise to the legend is however not at the pa but about 4 miles further west, near the junction of Karikari Peninsula with Tokerau Beach. There they are covered with a remarkable net-like pattern at the foot of the sea-cliff. Local Maori people call it not Kahukura's kupenga, but Kupe's. 28 The name Rangiaohia is also applied to the small sandy cove alongside and to the east of the pa. The cove is less than 100 yards across from head to head. From its sandy beach the land slopes gradually up to coastal hills of about 100 ft. high, both to the east and to the west. This makes a natural amphitheatre around which the welcoming powhiri ceremony was performed by men and women while Surville was approaching the landing place on his first going ashore. Meanwhile the leading chief of the pa, who also appears to have been ariki of the tribe, advanced to the water's edge attended by his principal men, and awaited the stranger. 29 Although his relations with the chief were always cordial and he was accorded every formal courtesy, Surville was never invited to enter the pa. The delightful cove or tidal lagoon of Kauhoehoe lies only a quarter of a mile by airline east of Rangiaohia; but Surville does not mention visiting it. Most likely war canoes were kept there and only small canoes on the beach of Rangiaohia. This would make it very tapu. 30

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3. Ance [Anse] de Refuge, or Refuge Cove. This name was not given, as one would expect, and as both L'Horme and Monneron assert, after L'Horme's boat sought shelter there during the storm, but before it. On the 26th Labé records that when he and Surville visited Patia on the 25th the name was then given by Surville; for there he saw to the west exactly what he wanted, a safe and sheltered cove where he could take the sick without being constricted by the small beach and populous shore of Rangiaohia. Actually, and as Surville enthusiastically describes them, there are three warm, sandy, and good-fishing coves between Patia, a prominent point, and Tokerau beach at the western end of the bay. It is no wonder Surville was pleased because all of these coves are delightful. Although it was a long row or sail from the anchorage in front of Rangiaohia to Refuge Cove, the good fishing and shooting, freedom to roam about in safety and easily obtained supplies of tresses and celery, firewood and water, all these advantages more than compensated for the extra labour of going to and fro every day between Refuge Cove and the ship.

Local Maori tradition suggests that Perehipe, the second cove to the west of Patia Point, was the site of L'Horme's bivouac. The author's opinion favours Patia-Matariki, which is the name of the first cove to the west of Patia Point. There is only indistinct evidence to be drawn from the journals. L'Horme perhaps gives a clue when he says that he hurried up to the top of a little rise, from which he saw the St. Jean Baptiste in extreme peril at the bottom of the bay. From an examination of the ground, the author believes that the little rise referred to is the low ncek between Patia and the sugarloaf motu at the point. Moreover, the rock Tokanui, south of which the St. Jean Baptiste came to anchor, cannot be seen from the sheltered part of Perehipe, whereas it can be plainly seen from the sheltered part of Patia-Matariki beach. One of the objects of Surville anchoring where he did was to keep the shore party in sight so as to be able to aid them if necessary. Finally, although in the journals the name Ance de Refuge is generally used to indicate all the sub-coves between Patia Point and Tokerau Beach, in the chart of Lauriston Bay the cartographer puts the name against Patia-Matariki immediately west of the small stream in that cove. L'Horme in his Plan Particulier De La Baye Loriston does the same. It can hardly be doubted that L'Horme thus shows where his bivouac was.

It should be noticed that in From Tasman to Marsden McNab gives the locality of two coves, Refuge Cove and Salvation Cove, in addition to Chevalier Cove. 31 The name Salvation Cove (Anse de Salut) does not occur in any of the journals; nor are the anchorages given correctly in McNab's account.

The following localities, although not named by Surville, are frequently mentioned in the journals.

1. The anchorages. The first anchorage, 17-19 Dec., was almost in the middle of the bay, 6 miles from Rangiaohia pa, on a line drawn - 198 from the eastern extremity of Knuckle Point to the entrance of Mangonui Harbour. The second anchorage, 19-22 Dec., was 2 miles E. 1/4 S.E. of the pa. The third, 22-28 Dec., was 3/4 mile N.E. 1/4 E. of the pa. The fourth anchorage, 28-31 Dec., was about a mile S.E. 4 deg. S. of the big rock, Tokanui, which stands a short distance south of Patia-Matariki Cove. Another rock, awash at low tide, can be seen between Tokanui and Patia Point. This is the rock upon which L'Horme's longboat grounded on the first night of the great storm, when he was trying to reach the shelter of Refuge Cove. In his Plan Particulier . . . he carefully marks it.

2. Until he discovered the delectable coves to the west of Patia Point, Surville obtained his wood, water, and fresh cresses and celery at Rangiaohia. It is a tiny cove, difficult to enter in a swell from the east and with a narrow rocky entrance. The stream in these days of deforestation is dry now in mid-summer. Under pohutukawa trees by the stream—pohutukawa trees are still there 32—Surville sat with the principal chief from the pa above and shared lunch with him and his attendants. Salt pork was the principal item. The flow of water being small, the chief went with Surville to show him another watering place. This was at Waitomotomo, about a quarter of a mile west of Rangi-aohia pa. The flow there is ample and is ponded close to the beach. But the rocks were too numerous and too large for the watercasks to be rolled over, so Surville decided not to use it. Besides—a decisive point, and one which the chief may have thought was in its favour—the watering party would have been out of sight of the ship's guns. At none of these coves today can celery and cresses be found. Surville says they were then wonderfully abundant; and that the inhabitants never used them.

3. The sandy cove where Surville and Labé went fishing on Christmas Day, was Whakararo, close to Whatuwhiwhi. The 200 ft. hill to the west of Whakararo, which Surville climbed and from which he saw the coves to the west, was Patia. When the St. Jean Baptiste was at anchor south of Tokanui, the pa on top was visited by Surville and some of his officers. They describe it as possessing all the usual features of fortification; but today there is no sign of them. On the other hand, Rangiaohia, which they were not invited to visit, still possesses strongly marked fosses and platforms. It was obviously a stronghold. Patia being an isolated hill, with no ridge on the inland side, was probably not defensible.

4. The “petite rivière” of the journals (“ou les sauvages ont caché notre canot”). Its mouth is put in Charenton's chart at the north-west corner of the bay, but its course is shown as running from south to north a short way behind the shore line. This is Waiotaraire, which drains Roto Ohia and Roto Potaka lying on the sandy isthmus. The mouth opens at various positions along the beach from time to time. At present its main exit is about 3½ miles south of the corner, at the spot where the track from Waingakau and Rangiputa opens on to - 199 the beach. This spot was marked by Charenton. He labels it: “K. Rivière dont l'entrée paroit belle mais qu'on n'a pas visité,” the “belle” presumably meaning a good-sized pond blocked by sand and easy to go up. This is exactly as it is today. The yawl stranded on the beach about ¾ mile north of this mouth of Waiotaraire. It was to that place Surville steered the longboat, as his line of soundings shows; and it was there, close to the longboat, that he had his lunch. Ranginui's pa, Parakerake, is about 1½ miles north of the lunch place. It was protected towards the beach by Waiotaraire; but today the stream bed is dry and has been dry for years. Only very faint traces of the pa can now be seen. Old Maori residents remember seeing a standing row of totara posts. It was while making his way towards the pa that Surville saw Ranginui. He was seized about half a mile south of the pa.

5. One other locality deserves mention. Charenton describes it as “Endroit ou it nous a paru avoir une grande rivière ou une anse dont on ne voyais pas l'enfoncement. Il n'a pas été visité.” It is on the south coast of the bay. In a chart of Lauriston (Doubtless) Bay, published in 1781 by the Admiralty Hydrographer, Dalrymple, a harbour in this position on the south coast is labelled Mongalua Harbour. The chart states that it is derived from a French MS. 1769 communicated by the French Hydrographer d'Après. This name is intended for the present-day harbour of Mangonui. As explained above, although Surville intended to visit this harbour, which, he notes, had “belles harbres” (fine trees) around it, he was unable to do so because of his all-day attempt on the 31st to recover the stolen yawl. The French charts therefore show Mangonui only as a wide open mouth of a river. Neither does the original Dalrymple chart of 1781 show the harbour and soundings inside it. The author has made a number of attempts to discover the authorship of this Mongalua addition to the Surville map, but without success. The Admiralty, London, report that they have no record of it.


Character, if we mean anything comprehensive by that term, takes a lot of knowing and is not, as a rule, a subject of popular biography. Indeed, so variable are men in their inheritances, opportunities, trainings, and capacity to learn by experience, that such character labels as are generally applied, are more characteristic of social and political bias on the part of the describer than matters of objective reality. To the extent that this paper has increased public knowledge about Surville's visit to Doubtless Bay and his thoughts and actions while there, it has made his character a little more visible and reduced the extravagances of reputation. In the author's opinion, something less than justice has been done to Surville, in particular by New Zealand historians. Of all the European navigators who visited New Zealand, his name alone automatically produces a stoning. From 1888 onwards to the present decade New Zealand historians have consistently referred to him in terms in which severity outruns both - 200 justice and discretion. “His atrocities,” his “treachery,” “the Frenchman behaved with the greatest brutality” are ordinary examples of the degree of our indignation. To one of the mildest of these historians Surville's violence at Doubtless Bay is evidence that he is an “imprudent” person, his policy “insenate,” and that from birth “he had been denied the gift of wisdom.” The same historian goes out of his way to make invidious comparison, not only between Cook's lively interest in scientific knowledge and Surville's indifference to science, but also between Surville and his officers in this respect. Unfortunately, at the time when he made this pronouncement, the critic had never read a word of Surville's own journal. Had he done so, he would have discovered that Surville was both interested and diligent in the same field as his officers. Moreover, it was Surville who chose these officers.

The Euripidean, the ever-tragic encounter of Surville and Ranginui is, of course, the prime reason for the denunciation and abuse of Surville by New Zealand authors of European descent. But there is another element in it. Surville is the scapegoat whose stoning takes away sin. 33 In this respect, our historians have been little more than echoers of the first English denouncer of Surville. That was Craik, whose account of the captive chief appeared in 1830. Like Rochon, who was the first to denounce Surville, Craik's laudable intention in The New Zealanders was to move the conscience of his Christian countrymen against the more notorious forms of violence and exploitation exhibited by Europeans in their relentless subjection of native peoples. Unfortunately, in an imaginative reconstruction of the accounts of the capture and death of Ranginui given by L'Horme and Monneron, Craik invented, without justification or evidence, several erroneous statements which, taken together, make Surville's actions at Doubtless Bay appear to possess less provocation and more callousness than in fact they contained. Remembering that the sole source of knowledge of the circumstances is in the accounts written by Surville and his officers, the reader should compare for himself the distorted version given by Craik with the account given here. It was perhaps inevitable in those anti-Napoleon and anti-French days that Craik and his friends should find it easy to believe that Frenchmen, and particularly French colonisers in the Pacific, were not by nature as virtuous as Englishmen. But it is disappointing, and somewhat unnatural, to find present day Frenchmen swelling the chorus of Surville detractors. This comment is provoked by a remark in a recent book by Faivre, an expert on French colonisation in the Pacific. Speaking of the killing of Marion and part of his - 201 crew at the Bay of Islands he says that it was “peutêtre un représsaille des atrocités de Surville . . .” 34 It is not likely that M. Faivre troubled himself to read any of the St. Jean Baptiste journals before producing this remark. Probably he merely copied it from d'Urville or from a New Zealand historian.


Monneron's journal was published in full by McNab in Historical Records of New Zealand. For this reason of availability and fullness it is of special interest to New Zealand students. Yet McNab believed that Monneron did not write his own journal and that he merely copied Labé's journal. 35 McNab's astonishing reason for saying so is that Monneron was accustomed to taking noon sights along with the deck officers. McNab added a further deduction to this erroneous piece of detection which was to cause a good deal of trouble to New Zealand historians. Because Monneron's (to McNab, Labé's) journal was kept in the ordinary landsman's way and not in the noon to noon style normal to seamen of that day, McNab concluded that all the journals of the St. Jean Baptiste were kept in the landsman's way. 36 Consequently, McNab pointed out, when the time and place of the passing of Cook and Surville were being worked out, due allowance must be made for the non-correspondence of dates. Some of our historians fell into this pitfall with lamentable results. Curiously, McNab himself took no notice of his own requirement and, by the wrong reasoning, produced the right answer. Actually, Surville kept his journal in the same style as Cook; and his officers did the same.

Monneron's official position on the St. Jean Baptiste was Assistant Supercargo, Surville himself, as part owner, being Chief Supercargo. Monneron was also known on board as L'Ecrivain, i.e., Ship's Secretary, or Writer, this being a very ancient title. There are two journals written by Monneron. For convenience and in order of seniority, I shall call them Monneron's journal No. 1, and Monneron's journal No. 2. No. 1 was kept on board by Monneron. It was impounded along with the other journals and ship's papers at Lima. When, after the return of Gonzalez from Easter Island, Monneron was liberated and allowed to return home, he was permitted to take his journal with him. He was also permitted to take, perhaps was commissioned to take, the Spanish copy of Surville's journal. These indulgences indicate that Monneron was, for some reason unknown to us, persona grata to the Spanish authorities—he might, for example have assisted them in deciphering Surville's journal—or else that the favour accorded to him was on account of his special status on board the St. Jean Baptiste. The author has already suggested, but without direct evidence, that he was not an employee of the owners but served as an amateur, travelling the world for health, for scientific purposes, or merely for pleasure.

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At Paris, Monneron handed over the Spanish copy of Surville's journal to the Minister of Marine on 4 October, 1771. On the 5th he presented to the Minister a newly made copy of his journal No. 1. It is this new copy, journal No. 2, which was copied for McNab in 1910. Although Surville had named Port Praslin in Ysabel in honour of the Minister of Marine when he left France, the Duc de Choiseul-Praslin was now out of office and M. de Boynes was in his place. (The Duc de Choiseul-Praslin was a cousin of the Duc de Choiseul after whom Bougainville, unknown to Surville, had named the neighbouring island of Choiseul.)

Comparisons of corresponding parts of both journals have been made by the author, but an extensive comparison would here be out of place. At first sight one can hardly believe that Monneron 2 is done by the same person as Monneron 1. The latter is done in a plain hand; the former is flourishy and elegant. But a scrutiny of details of handwriting makes it likely that Monneron also wrote No. 2. No. 2 is a longer journal. It is also better preserved. It gives more extensive accounts of various events than does No. 1. Some of these additions are ex post facto: for example a reference to Bougainville and a reference to a kind promise of the Minister to help Madame de Surville and her children.

No further information is available about Labé, L'Horme, Charenton, Laurie, Dubucq, St. Paul, Surville Junior (nephew of the commander), and other persons mentioned in the various journals; and only a little is available about Monneron. During the War of American Independence he sailed with Lapérouse in a French frigate; but in what capacity is unknown to the author. Monneron so much enjoyed the confidence of Lapérouse that, when the expedition of the Boussole and Astrolabe had been decided upon, he was invited to join it. His task was to organise the very extensive scientific side of the expedition. In this capacity (Capitaine du Corps du Genie), he went to London to obtain some dip-compasses (boussoles d'inclinaison), which had been promised by the Greenwich authorities. These instruments not being ready, Sir Joseph Banks handed over to Monneron on loan to the expedition two which had been used by Cook. Lapérouse says of them: “Je reçus ces instruments avec un sentiment de respect religieux pour la mémoire de ce grand homme.” In 1785 the expedition sailed from France, Monneron being on the Boussole with Lapérouse. In 1786, no doubt with vivid memories of Surville's exhausting search in 1770, Monneron landed on Easter Island. His task was to draw up a report on the island for the home authorities. In 1788, while Governor Phillip's fleet of English transports was still there, Lapérouse's two vessels entered Botany Bay. Soon after leaving the Australian coast, both Boussole and Astrolabe were wrecked on a reef at Vanikoro, New Hebrides. Everybody on board perished, either by drowning or in attacks by the islanders. That is where Cook's dip-compasses lie.

It has recently been reported in the press 37 that a French expedition has recovered an anchor and other relics of Lapérouse at Vanikoro.

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  • 1. First anchorage of St. Jean Baptiste, 17 Dec., 1769.
  • 2. Knuckle Point.
  • 3. Anchorage of St. Jean Baptiste, 22-27 Dec.
  • 4. Kauhoehoe (Brodie's Creek); not visited by Surville.
  • 5. Rangiaohia cove, where Surville landed 18 Dec.
  • 6. Rangiaohia pa, on the point; not visited by Surville.
  • 7. Waitomotomo, visited by Surville 23 Dec.
  • 8. Reef which endangered the ship 27-28 Dec.
  • 9. Whakararo, visited by Surville and Labé on Xmas Day.
  • 10. Patia, visited by Surville 30 Dec.
  • 11. Patia-Matariki; L'Horme's bivouac by the stream 27-28 Dec.
  • 12. Perehipe.
  • 13. Submerged rock on which L'Horme's longboat grounded night of 27 Dec.
  • 14. Tokanui, a big rock.
  • 15. Anchorage of St. Jean Baptiste 28-31 Dec.
  • 16. Road from Tokerau beach to Merita and Karikari.
  • 17. Parakerake, Ranginui's pa.
  • 18. Where Ranginui was made captive.
  • 19. Waiotaraire, running parallel to the beach and with mouths at various places.
  • 20. Where the yawl was seen stranded on the morning of 31 Dec.
  • 21. The mouth called ‘belle.’ Here is the track to Rangiputa on Rangaunu Bay.
  • 22. Wooden ramp by which the road from Ohia enters Tokerau beach.
  • 23. Roto Potaka.

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These are additional to the recoveries made long ago by Chevalier Dillon and by d'Urville. The sword-hilt with the letter “P” decipherable on it, previously recovered, may have belonged to P.M., Pierre Monneron.


The author re-acknowledges the help he received from the Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Mr. C. R. H. Taylor, in the procuring of new source documents; and from the Research Librarian, Miss H. G. Broadhead in her persistent search for great things and small.

  • ANON, 1862. Nouvel Abrégé de Tous les Voyages autour du Monde depuis Magellan jusqu'à D'Urville et Laplace, 1519-1832, (2nd edition). Tours. Mame et Cie.
  • COLENSO, W., 1880. “Historical Incidents and Traditions of the Maoris of the North Island (East Coast).” Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, 13:38-57.
  • CORNEY, B. G., 1908. Voyage of Don Felipe Gonzalez . . . 1770-1. Cambridge, University Press, for Hakluyt Society.
  • CRAIK, J. L., 1830. The New Zealanders. London, Charles Knight.
  • CROZET, Julien, 1783. Nouvean Voyage à la Mer du Sud . . . Paris, Barrois l'ainé.
  • FAIVRE, J. P., 1954. L'Expansion Française dans la Pacifique de 1800 à 1842. Paris, Nouvelles Editions Latines.
  • GREY, Sir George, 1956. Polynesian Mythology. Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs.
  • LA BORDE, J. B. de, 1791. Histoire Abrégée de la Mer du Sud, Vol. 2. Paris, P. Didot l'ainé.
  • MCNAB, R., 1914a. Historical Records of New Zealand, Vol. 2. Wellington, Government Printer.
  • — — 1914b. From Tasman to Marsden. Dunedin, J. Wilkie.
  • MOSS, F. J., 1889. School History of New Zealand. Auckland, H. Brett.
  • ROCHON, Alexis Marie de, 1791. Voyages aux Indes Orientales. Paris. An English edition, 1792, by G. G. J. and J. Robinson, London.
  • SMITH, Percy S., 1898. Peopling of the North. Wellington, Polynesian Society, supplement to Journal, Vol. 6.
1   The most accessible source of information about Surville's earlier life is Corney 1908. Corney takes most of his information from La Borde 1791, but wrongly gives Surville's homeland as Mauritius. He was a Breton of St. Louis, France.
2   Six months after the internment of the St. Jean Baptiste, Gonzalez sailed from Callao with two H.M. vessels in search of David's Island. He found the island, landed, named it San Carlos, and returned to Callao on 23 March, 1771. Soon after Gonzalez's return, Monneron was released from internment and allowed to proceed home. The fact that Gonzalez was able to report to the Viceroy that Surville had not sighted the island doubtless assisted Monneron's liberation. It has not been ascertained whether or not any other officer was liberated before 1773.
3   Among the many gaps still in the records is the fact that we do not know whether or not Surville's Instructions required him to call at New Zealand. The Instructions do not appear to have been preserved at the Ministry of Marine in Paris. All that can be said is that Monneron's journal in some places implies that the visit would have been made, scurvy or no scurvy. Further search should be made among the papers of Law and Chevalier; for it is probable that each of the partners in the expedition had a copy.
4   The storm which nearly wrecked the St. Jean Baptiste and, by a continuing chain of consequences, was a cause of the deaths of Ranginui and Surville, may also have decided whether or not New Zealand was to become a French colony in whole or in part; or, an even more fertile consequence, a land of Maori civilisation and self-rule.
5   McNab 1914a:231-295 (Monneron), 296-347 (L'Horme).
6   So faulty sometimes both transcript and translation as to possess no meaning.
7   Craik 1830:38.
8   L'Horme gives Ysabel names for each of the artefacts of Port Praslin which he illustrated in his Arsacides group; yet in his group of artefacts obtained at New Zealand there are no Maori names. Lova Saregua was L'Horme's informant about the Port Praslin artefacts. That Ranginui was unable to communicate the New Zealand names to the French suggests that he was not with them long enough to do so; or that the drawings were made during the detention at Peru.
9   Colenso 1880:22.
10   Moss 1889:10. The relevant extract is: “After the gale de Surville returned . . . Unfortunately one of his boats was missing, and he believed a Maori had stolen it. Unlike Cook, he was of hasty temper and had little sense of justice. He made no enquiry, but enticed the chief on board and seized him as a prisoner, and burned all the huts of his people. After this brutal and treacherous return for the kindness of the Maoris de Surville sailed for Peru. Poor Nihonui, the old chief, died on the way.”
11   Some of the principal publications which give the name of the chief are Crozet 1783: Naginoui; Rochon 1791:Naginouni; La Borde 1791:Nagioni; Craik 1830:Naginoui, Naginouni in a footnote; Anon. 1862:Nagioni; Colenso 1880:Kiinui; Moss 1889:Nihonui; McNab 1914a:Naquinovi; McNab 1914b:Naquinodi.
12   Smith 1898:7-9.
13   Pukeko.
14   Instead of thus translating “me venger du vol” and “mon proie,” “retaliation for the theft” and “my quarry” might have been used; which could sound normal and even decorous to English ears.
15   Cook's Knuckle Point.
16   At the Bashi Islands, Surville kept three men on board as reprisal for three of his crew who deserted and were not given up by the authorities. At Port Praslin, he kidnapped Lova Saregua after an unprovoked attack made upon Labé's landing party, during which casualties occurred to the French and severe losses to the islanders.
17   i.e., 2 miles south of the ship, which itself was about 1½ miles south of the shore at Refuge Cove.
18   Except for Monneron, whose account of this day is disappointingly inadequate, it is not known which officers went ashore with Surville. But the fatal thing is that the two officers who knew Ranginui and what he had done for them at Refuge Cove, L'Horme and Chief Surgeon Dubucq, were detained by their duties on the ship.
19   Harakeke and raupo are there today.
20   Roto Potaka and Roto Ohia.
21   Here Labé says that the purpose of the seizure was to hold a hostage for the return of the yawl.
22   It is unlikely that Ranginui was only 35, for L'Horme records that his teeth were so ground down that they appeared to be filed. At least 45 is more probable. The Coromandel coast is in south-eastern India.
23   Labé believes that New Zealand, and not Easter Island, is the goal of the expedition.
24   Fuero Island is the most westerly of the Juan Fernandez group.
25   La Borde 1791:99.
26   Hoeroa.
27   Grey 1956:221-224.
28   But this north-west corner of the bay has every appearance of being the site of Kahukura's adventure; with the rock now known as Tokanui playing the part of Teweteweuia.
29   The chief of Rangiaohia was regarded by the French as the principal chief of the district. The name of Pawhero, a high chief, is associated with Rangiaohia at approximately the time of Surville's visit. The chief of Patia, apparently a younger man, could have been Ororua, for his name is associated with this pa at approximately this time. But it is impossible to identify with certainty the chief of any pa unless his name was recorded by the European visitor.
30   But Labé notes that the biggest war canoes came out of the river mouth at Mangonui and were built in one piece, because big enough trees grew there. Surville noticed that Kauhoehoe was a special place for net fishing and believed that was the reason why they were not allowed to go there.
31   McNab 1914b:45.
32   Including several stumps at the spring of water, which however are said to be of modern cutting.
33   There is a sharp contrast between the noisy indignation against Surville exhibited by most New Zealand historians and the general complacency about Cook's woundings and killings while the Endeavour was on the east coast of New Zealand. Nor has any one discovered similarity between Surville's seizure of Ranginui in 1769 and Cook's attempt to seize the high chief of Oahu as hostage for the return of a stolen ship's boat in 1779, whereby Cook and some of his men lost their lives, together with a much larger number of Hawaiians. When this happened, Cook was in his 51st year. When Surville was at Doubtless Bay, he was 52. Similar physiological states do not necessarily produce similar social reactions; but they tend to.
34   Faivre 1954:67.
35   McNab 1914a:230, 249.
36   McNab 1914b:46-47.
37   The Press, Christchurch, March 24, 1958.