Volume 78 1969 > Volume 78, No. 2 > The Maori of Dusky Sound: a review of the historical sources, by J. F. Coutts, p 178 - 211
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Dusky Sound is an area of historic significance. It was there that Captain James Cook repaired his ship the Resolution in 1773. Later the region was frequented by the first sealers to operate in New Zealand waters.

Cook described Maori families at Dusky, and his descriptions are of considerable interest to the prehistorian since it appears that the Resolution party were the first Europeans to make contact with the Maori of this area.

The present paper examines various aspects of Maori occupation of Dusky Sound gleaned from historical records. A complementary publication based on fieldwork will deal with the archaeology of the area.

In the present work some attempt will be made to answer such questions as why the Maori came to such a remote area as Dusky Sound; what food resources were exploited; where the archaeological sites are located and what types of sites they are; how often the Maoris came to the area and for what period of time they stayed; what can be said about the material culture of the Maori from the historical records.


Dusky Sound is the third great inlet on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand as one progresses east from Te Waewae Bay. (Figure 1A). It runs inland for nearly thirty miles and is studded with numerous islands ranging in size from mere rocks to large islands. The mountains rise sheer out of the water and there is dense bush everywhere. At the head of the Sound, Mount Solitary rises 4,770 ft above sea level. - 180 The area is frequently covered by mist and the rainfall can exceed 250 inches a year. 1 Great storms can materialise without warning and gale force winds beat up the Sound with tremendous violence.

Although Dusky Sound is large, satisfactory anchorages and safe landing spots are few. 2 One finds Maori and European sites in the same limited number of areas. Although it has been altered to some extent by browsing deer, the vegetation of the area is probably nearer to its natural state than is the vegetation of any other part of New Zealand; 3 the physical conditions there today are much as they were two hundred years ago.


The west coast climate with its high annual rainfall promotes generally damp conditions along the coastal belt and at first does not appear to provide a very favourable environment for the preservation of perishable archaeological material. Vegetation quickly recolonizes cleared areas and in so doing destroys evidence of occupation.

In 1773, Cook's party cleared over an acre of ground at Pickersgill Harbour, yet Vancouver, visiting the areas only eighteen years later, found it still clear of large trees but “so thickly covered in brushwood and tall ferns as to hide the mark of the axe and saw in their stumps without a diligent examination.” 4

When describing hut sites, probably European, at Sealers Cove, Henry 5 noted that they were overgrown by fern trees 5 to 12 feet high and by a dense growth of young trees; these sites were probably less than a hundred years old. In the same area he found an old tree stump with the date 1882 carved on it, still looking quite fresh. 6 Henry also described many Maori huts, some of which must have been many years old, still intact in the 1890s. Some of these were badly overgrown (see Appendix, Woodhen Cove, Island near Sealers Cove, and Cascade Cove).

When Henry 7 excavated some ovens on Pigeon Island he found fern log floors still intact, and the remains of charcoal fires. He was also able to relocate Cook's tree stumps in Pickersgill Harbour and although they are overgrown they are still discernable today. Henry 8 discovered part of a wash board of a canoe intact and Begg et al. 9 found a cache of bird bones, some still with dried skin sticking to them, in a cave at Cascade Cove.

It would seem then that some organic materials can survive very well in this environment and that in general it is the dense vegetation which is responsible for destroying and obscuring former habitation sites.

Bone material found in areas other than cave sites may not have survived - 181 so well. Henry 10 commented on the paucity of seal bones at Dusky, comparing their rarity with that of Maori tools. At one stage he left a carcass to rot in order to obtain the skeleton, but he found that after about a year of exposure “it was in worse condition than one would expect a sheep carcass to be in after twenty years.”

In general then, one can expect sites to be overgrown and difficult to find, but it is possible that some organic material will have survived.


Ideally one would be able to catalogue the food resources available at Dusky Sound in the protohistoric period. However, although one can gain a general impression of the range and distribution of food resources from the observations of eighteenth and nineteenth century visitors, there is no detailed information available. Nor is it possible to infer that the range and distribution of fauna observed in the twentieth century approximate those of the nineteenth, for toward the end of the last century the native fauna was depleted by pests which had migrated from farther east. 11 Likewise the flora has been affected by the introduction of deer.

In 1957 J. Mackintosh and K. Sutherland discovered a cave in the neighbourhood of Cascade Cove 12 which contained Maori occupation material. Some time later the midden in the cave was sifted through and some of the bones were identified. 13 They included birds, seal, Polynesian rat and dog. These identifications are useful because they indicate the range of fauna being exploited locally by Maoris in prehistoric times and supplement the observations made by members of Cook's party in 1773 in the protohistoric period.

All the available sources indicate that a wide range of food resources was available for exploitation by prehistoric and protohistoric Maori.

Tables 1, 2 and 3 are lists of some of the birds, fish and plants found at Dusky Bay and known to have been exploited by the Maori. The birds identified for the Cascade Cove midden have been included in Table 1, which indicates a wide variety of seabirds, waders and forest birds. All references used in deciding the presence of the species shown in Tables 1 and 2 are pre-twentieth century so that these food resources are likely to parallel closely those available to the prehistoric Maori. Information on vegetable foods is more limited and recourse has been made to more recent sources. A general list of plants found in the Fiordland is available in Hall-Jones; 14 another list has been published for Doubtful Sound by Baylis et al.; 15 and Poole 16 has studied the vegetation of George and Caswell Sounds. There are a few references to plants in some earlier literature. 17 Table 3 lists some of the plants, known to have been exploited

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Species Common Name Seasonal Information from Oliver (1955) Notes of Particular Interest from Oliver (1955), Henry (1895; 1903; M.H.L.) and Reischek (1884) Frequency of occurrence from Reischek (1884) Areas where they were commonly found Cascade Cove cave midden Begg et al. (1966):17 References
Forest Birds:              
Apteryx australis South Island Kiwi Lays October-February Usually found in day, migrates at night to tussock and scrub belts. Not very common   X Henry 1897:288; Reischek 1884:192
Apteryx oweni Grey Kiwi Nests December-January.   Rare Cooper Island.   Henry 1897:288: Reischek 1884:192
Gallirallus australis South Island Breeding season     Goose Cove, X Cook 1961 Vol. 2:121; Henry 1897:279; Painted by Forster in 1773.
  Weka August-October.     Beach Harbour, Duck Cove, Resolution Island, Woodhen Cove.    
Hemiphaga novaeselandiae Pigeon Eggs laid several months usually November-December. Nests on high trees. Migratory, comes to the sounds when the berries are out, usually March-August.       Painted by Forster in 1773 (see Begg et al. 1966: Plate 48); Wales 1961:786; Cook 1961 Vol. 2:136
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Callaeas cinerea South Island kokako Lays December-January. Nest frequently found up to 20 feet above ground. Young full grown in May. Likes dense, damp forests.       Described by Forster in 1773 (see Oliver 1955:523); Oliver 1955:523.
Nestor meridionalis meridionalis South Island kaka Nests October-February. Nests found in hollows of tree. Tends to migrate from upper forest areas to lowlands and coastal areas in spring. Very fat and plentiful in November. Not very common.   X Painted by Forster in 1773 (see Begg et al. 1966: Plate 48, Forster 1777 Vol. 1: 162; Reischek 1884:194.)
Cyanoramphus novaeselandiae Red fronted parakeet Breeds over several months mainly October-December. Nests found in decaying parts of tree trunks.         Painted by Forster in 1773 (see Begg et al. 1966: Plate 48; Forster 1777: Vol. 1:162.)
Strigops habroptilus Kakapo Nests January-March. Hides during day and roams over open country at night. Common in parts. On mainland, in most areas. X Reischek 1884:194.
River, Estuarine, Haematopus unicolor** Mudflats, Swamps: Black oyster catcher Lays October-December usually in isolated pairs. Frequents many beaches, rocky shores, mudflats, bays, estuaries. Common. In many parts of the Sound. X Cook 1961 Vol. 2:127
Cascarca variegata Paradise Duck Breeding season August-January. Unable to fly during moulting season. Not very common. No grass for them. Goose Cove, mouth of Seaforth River. X Painted by Forster in 1773: Wales 1961:786, Cook 1961 Vol. 2:136.
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Species Common Name Seasonal Information from Oliver (1955) Notes of Particular Interest from Oliver (1955); Henry (1895; 1903; M.H.L.) and Reischek (1884) Frequents of occurence from Reischek (1884) Areas where they were commonly found Cascade Cove cave midden Begg et al. (1966):17 References
Aythya novaeselandiae Black teal Lays October-March. Frequents sheltered mouths of rivers and bays.   Cormorant Cove.   Cook 1961 Vol. 2: 136. Painted by Forster in 1773.
Anas chlorotis Brown duck Lays July-August. Hides during day. Not very common. Duck Cove. Goose Cove. X Cook 1961 Vol. 2: 136.
Hymenolaimus malacorhynchus Blue duck Lays August-November. Usually taken at night with torch.       Painted by Forster in 1773 (see Begg et al. 1773: Plate 48); Cook 1961 Vol. 2: 136.
Anas Superciliosa Superciliosa Grey duck Breeds September-December.   Not very common. Supper Cove, very plentiful.   Painted by Forster in 1773 (see Begg et al. 1966: Plate 48); Cook 1961 Vol. 2:136.
Coastal, Islets, Bays, Sandflats: Eudyptula minor minor* Blue penguin November, also June-July. Burrows.   Not very common.   X Painted by Forster in 1773; Cook 1961 Vol. 2: 127; Reischek 1884:184.
Eudyptes pachyrynchus* Fiordland crested crested penguin Nests in July, chicks hatched in August, Ashore again in January and February for moulting. Nests in colonies near fresh water. Very common. Pigeon Island, particularly in July. Supper Cove, Coopers Island. X Painted by Forster in 1773; Henry 1895:51.
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Larus novaehollandiae scopulinus 18 Red billed gull Nests December-February. Nests in colonies. Dusky does not appear to be a nesting area.   Cormorant Cove.   Oliver 1955:312; Begg et al. 1966. Appendix c. Described and painted by Forster (see Begg et al. 1966: Plate 48).
Larus dominicanus Black-backed gull Nests October-December, usually November. Breeds in scattered colonies on coastal rock areas and beaches. Not common.   X Oliver 1955:312; Begg et al. 1966. Appendix C.
Sterna striata White fronted tern Breeds September-December. Breeds in colonies on rocks along sea coast. Begg et al. saw it in February.     X Identified by Begg et al. 1966:156; Oliver 1955:338ff.
Puffinus griseus 19 titi oi Breeds during summer. Breeds in immense colonies. Arrives last week in September, left by May.   Colonies on Seal Island.   Oliver 1955:131. Painted by Forster.
Pachyptila vittata vittata* Broad billed prion Breeds in Dusky. Sand burrows. Breeds August-September. Migrates in February. Nests under hard barks, rocks.   Near Seal Island.   Oliver 1955:123. Painted by Forster.
Open Ocean: Thalassarche melanophris* Albatross Lays October-November. Nests in colonies. Ashore in October-April.     X Seen by Henry and later by Begg et al. 1966:155; Sparrman 1953:29.
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Species Maori Name Common Name Notes from Heath et al. 1967 and Hector in Hutton 1872 Seasonal Information from Hector in Hutton 1872 and Heath et al. 1967 References
Aldrichetta forsteri Makawhiti Sea mullet or yelloweye mullet Shoal fish. All seasons; most frequently caught at beginning of winter. Henry 1895:53.
Cheilodactylus macropterus Tarakihi   Hook. Comes in as early as September. Sandy bottom. Henry 1895:89; Reischek 1884:197.
Coridodax pullus Marare Butterfish Caught in kelp with net bag. Winter. Henry 1895:53.
Helicolenus percoides Pohuiakaroa Sea perch Rocky harbours. Hook. Hector in Hutton 1872:109.
Latridopsis ciliaris Moki   Rocky areas of coast. Taken with net. Spring and early summer. Henry M.H.L.: 13, 105; Reischek 1884:197. Painted by Forster in 1773.
Latris lineata Kohikohi Trumpeter Shoal fish. Hook.   Reischek 1884:197.
Parapercis colias Pakirikiri Coalfish or blue cod Rocks at 10-15 fathoms.   Henry M.H.L.: 89; Reischek 1884:197; Cook 1961 Vol. 2:135.
Polyprion oxygeneios Hapuku Groper Coastal, rocky coasts Hook. Seldom caught in winter, goes to deep water. Henry M.H.L.: 22; Reischek 1884:197.
Reporhamplus ihi   Garfish Nets in estuaries.   Henry M.H.L.: 105.
Scomber australasticus   Common mackerel Not common, shoal fish, very migratory. Drift nets. Early summer. Henry M.H.L.: 16.
Seriola grandis Haku Yellowtail or kingfish Nets. Highly prized by Maori. January-February each year in large shoals. Henry 1895:53.
Thyrsites atun Maka Barracouta Trolling. Highly prized by Maori, especially for preserving. All seasons but more in spring and autumn. Henry M.H.L.: 16.
Trachurus declivis Hauture Horse mackerel Shoal fish. Summer—irregular visitor. Henry 1895:153.
Lepidopus caudatus Hiku Frost fish Sandy beaches. Nets. Winter fish. Hector in Hutton 1872.
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Species Other Names Part Eaten Seasonal information References
Coriaria ruscifolia Tutu or puhou Juice of berry 7th-8th Maori months. Best 1902:57.
Asplenium bulbiferum Pikopiko Young fronds   Best 1902:59.
Dacrydium cupressinum Rimu Berries   Best 1902:58.
Podocarpus dacrydiodes Kahika or Kahikatea Fruit   Colenso 1880:32.
Cordyline indivisa Mountain cabbage tree or Toi. Leaves, head of root, trunk. Roots usually dug in September. Best 1902:53.
Podocarpus hallii Thin-barked totara Berries   Best 1902:58 does not actually refer to the species.
Cyathea medullaris Mamaku or black tree fern Soft inner part of upper portion of trunk.   1880:27, 29.
Fuchsia excorticata Kotukutuku Berries   Best 1902:58.
Cyathea smithii Soft tree fern      
Coprosma several species   Fruit   Colenso 1880:33.
Rubus cissoides   Fruit   Colenso 1880:33.
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by the Maori as food plants, 20 which are found in Fiordland today. The list is probably far from complete.

The many kinds of shell fish found in Dusky Sound include paua, cockle, pipi, giant mussel and oyster. Henry 21 found large cockle beds at the mouth of nearly every creek. Many early observers saw large heaps of shell outside whares. Indeed, Vancouver 22 was led to believe that shell fish formed the most important component of Maori diet.

Eels are not mentioned in the earliest sources. However, the evidence from place names (see below) suggests they might have been present. Beattie 23 claims that eels were caught on the West Coast. A Maori informant told Beattie 24 that he had eeled at Goose Cove and in the lake an Anchor Island. The eels from the lake were said to be rank and coarse and had a muddy taste. A species of fresh water fish Galaxias fasciatus was found in a lake south of Pickersgill Harbour; 25 seals, crabs and crayfish were plentiful 26 and Polynesian rat was probably present.

During his years at Dusky Bay, Henry made many observations on the bird and fish life. He noted that great numbers of fish and birds visited the area about the end of February, but that there were good and bad seasons. 27 In one year he reported “all the fish seem to be scarce”; another year he saw no barracouta, mullet or mackerel; in yet another there was a great scarcity of fish and birds all year round. 28 He cites a number of other examples. 29 Menzies 30 also comments on the scarcity of birds during Vancouver's visit to Dusky Sound in 1791—even though “it was the right time of the year.” To some extent this irregularity of food resources is true for vegetable foods also; one year Henry found it hard to grow anything, 31 in another “he never saw such a crop of berries.” 32

Many of the bird species found at Dusky Sound were seasonal. Further-more, the numbers of forest ground birds were to some extent limited by the availability of suitable terrain. The small islands in and around the Sound provided very limited foraging areas, and since the country rises steeply from the coast, the terrain changes rapidly as one moves inland. The interior is generally rugged and the forest is dense. However, some of the ground birds forage at night in more open scrub country, and such terrain is not only rare but also situated at considerable distances from the coastal areas.

The nature of the country itself tends to confine the foraging activities of both men and forest birds to the areas in and around the bays and coves, to estuarine and swampy areas, to the rivers, and to the many islands in the Sound.

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The inhospitable nature of the country, its remoteness, and the unpredictable habits of the fish and bird life would not have attracted Maoris to the area. The most reliable food resources are likely to have been seals and shell fish but on present evidence it appears that neither of these was highly regarded as food suitable for winter storage.

It is tempting to conclude that the Dusky Bay area was not visited either regularly or for any length of time by the Maori. Moreover it is unlikely that any particular area in the Sound could have supported a large population for long. The number of birds and shell fish and the quantity of vegetable foods to be found on the islands and in the marginal coastal areas was limited. Groups of people frequenting the area would need to have been highly mobile, moving from one place to another in search of food. Movement implies the use of canoes as this would have been the only practical way to move around the Sound.

Some of the forest birds have habits a knowledge of which would have been an advantage to the Maori. For example, pairs of weka forage over well-defined domains; each year the Maori could have returned to the same area and, in the right season, depended on catching a young bird. 33 Kiwis tend to go into the mountains in summer. 34 Kakapos fattened in summer 35 making them easy to catch. In autumn they foraged in open grassland. During the night they moved considerable distances from their daylight habitat. Over a period of time they wore well-defined tracks through the forest 36 and they could easily be snared on these tracks. Pigeons visited the area from March until August 37 when they grew fat on berries, making them sluggish and easy to catch.

Other birds, including mutton birds, penguins, and ducks, particularly

Location Maori Name Translation
Shelter Cove Hakaroroa roroa—shell fish
Mt Edgecumbe Titoi mountain cabbage tree
Nine Fathom Passage Takaituna wrap eels in flax
Cave near Supper Cove Anatawaki cave of the crested penguin
Seaforth River Wai-kotuku white heron river
Cave under Mt Phillipps Kohoperoa long-tail-cuckoo
Island off shore from Mt Phillipps Pipiwharauroa the shining cuckoo
Goose Cove O-roroa place of the roroa shell fish
Sportsman's Cove Hoe-moana giant mussel
Indian Island Mamaku tree fern
Luncheon Cove Pi-koau nestlings of shags
Woodhen Cove Te Amoka the thick matured bark of totara
Lake on Anchor Island Kiri-rua thick-skinned eel
Small island near Luncheon Cove Wharariki mountain flax
Another small island near Kina sea urchin
Luncheon Cove    
Another island Manu-titi mutton bird
A reef out toward Five Fingers Rua-pakirikiri. haunt of the rock cod
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paradise ducks, were found in those areas of the Sound favourable for their nesting and foraging.

Seals, certain fish species and some plants such as the mountain cabbage tree, also tended to have a restricted distribution.

It is probable that the Maori coming to Dusky were aware of the peculiarities of food resources of the area. Many of the Maori place names (Table 4) for Dusky Bay are names of birds, fish, shellfish or plants, and a number of these place names actually describe the principal food resource found in that area.


A number of plants were found in Dusky Bay which could have been used by the Maori for making such items as huts, mats, twine, fish hooks and baskets.

There were ample fern trees for making huts; there was abundant native flax, Phormium tenax and particularly Phormium colensoi, suitable for making baskets, fishing lines, nets and mats. 38 Totara bark was available for making bark baskets. Lycopodium varcum R. Br 39 could be used for making parts of wooden fish hooks, while Rhipogonum scandens had a wide variety of uses such as lashings, and making eel pots or hoop-nets. 40


Dusky Sound has been frequented by Europeans, beginning in 1773 with Cook, for over one hundred and ninety years. Although these visitors must have observed both Maori and European activities in the area the documentary evidence remains sparse. Cook's party encountered Maoris in 1773 and examined some of their artifacts. Vancouver in 1791 and Raven in 1793 saw Maoris at a distance but were unable to make contact with them though they too examined some artifacts. Between 1793 and 1894 little was added to our knowledge of Maori life in the Sounds, and almost nothing is known of the Maori settlement pattern and material culture during this period.

Sealing operations continued there in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. 41

Richard Henry, who lived in the Sound for almost ten years from 1894, provides perhaps the most important single source of information on Maori and European archaeological sites. Unfortunately his descriptions of sites and their locations are vague, and his opinions not necessarily authoritative.

Examination of the literature has revealed the presence in the area of a number of Maori and European sites. These are briefly described in detail in the Appendix and their approximate locations are shown on Figures 1B and 1C. Figure 1B shows sites which were being occupied, or which had only just been abandoned, by Maoris when the various observers were in the area. Figure 1C shows the location of European sites and probable Maori sites as described by Henry and later observers.

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Since Henry made his observations some one hundred years after Cook, Vancouver and Raven, a comparison of the locations of Maori and European sites in Figures 1B and 1C is interesting.

Henry does not appear to have seen huts at Goose Cove, Earshell Cove, Cascade Harbour or on Long Island, all places where huts had been seen in the late eighteenth century. On the other hand he did see evidence of huts on Anchor Island, at Sealers Cove, Indian Island, Maori Island and Woodhen Cove. Apart from those of Woodhen Cove and Indian Island these hut sites are not mentioned by the eighteenth century observers. Furthermore, the hut seen at Woodhen Cove may not have been Maori. Henry found evidence of several huts on Indian Island, where Cook had seen only two in 1773.

Even allowing for the fact that some of the huts noted by Henry may not have been Maori, and it is worth noting that in most cases he did not put forward any convincing evidence to support his assertions, it would seem that by the last decade of the nineteenth century all signs of the huts seen by various observers in the late eighteenth century had disappeared. One concludes that, with the possible exception of the huts on Maori Island, Indian Island and Woodhen Cove, all the huts observed by Henry were probably constructed in the post-contact period. It is perhaps significant that Henry saw many huts in the region of Sealers Cove (now called Luncheon Cove), the main camping place of the sealing parties during the nineteenth century.

Table 5 summarises what is known of the archaeological sites and their chronology at Dusky Sound. There seems little reason to hope that some of the sites listed will exhibit signs of stratification when field work is carried out in the area.

  Contact Sites Probable Post-contact Sites Sites with Evidence of Stratification  
Indian Island X X X  
Cascade Cove X X 42 XE X 43
Sealers Cove   X   XW
Anchor Island Lake   ?   X
Island near Sealers Cove   X    
Maori Island   X    
Detention Cove X      
Seaforth River—Supper Cove X     X
Pickersgill Harbour X X   X
Goose Cove X     Xw
Facile Harbour X     X
Woodhen Cove X ?    
Earshell Cove X     X
Occasional Cove X      
Pigeon Island   X X X
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The documentary record gives little information about this aspect of Maori culture. The little evidence available is found in accounts written by early visitors to the Sound who actually met the Maori and examined their artifacts. Until recently no prehistoric evidence had been discovered. Several artifacts had been found in the Cascade Cove area and a few had been dug up by Henry on Maori and Pigeon Islands (Appendix 1). However, there is every reason to believe that all these artifacts (with the exception of two which were found outside the cave at Cascade Cove) belong to the post-contact period. Discussion of the various items comprising the material culture of the Maori of Dusky Sound follows.

Habitation Sites. At the time of European contact there appears to have been little variation in the type of hut constructed by the Maori at Dusky Sound.

During Cook's stay at Dusky he saw only four huts being used by the Maori and unfortunately he did not describe any of them. He saw two huts on Indian Island 44 and two at Cascade Cove. 45

William Wales 46 described the huts at Cascade Cove. They were four or five feet high, made of bark and the leaves of the flax plant. They were round on top like an arched vault and were situated in the thickest part of the bush. There were several fireplaces in front of the huts. Wales did not enter them, nor did he record dimensions.

Forster 47 described similar huts on Indian Island. They consisted of a few sticks thatched with leaves of native flax and covered with bark.

Menzies 48 a member of Vancouver's expedition, and later, Raven, 49 also described huts at Dusky. In every case the huts were semi-circular in plan, about four feet high and six feet in diameter, with a framework of interlaced stick thatched with Phormium and grass. Sometimes the huts had a fireplace situated in front of the entrance, and a number of huts were associated with shell dumps. 50

A hundred years later Richard Henry saw many huts in Dusky Bay but, with one or two exceptions, he failed to describe them adequately. One type of hut he observed appears to have been rectangular in plan and about eight by six feet in area, with a ridgepole. They were open at one end and were made out of tree ferns. 51 It seems clear that this type of hut was different from that seen by Cook's and Vancouver's parties, being bigger and of different construction, and bearing some similarity in shape and construction to European huts. Unfortunately the lack of data makes it impossible to make meaningful comparisons. It is also possible that these huts were made and occupied by Maoris who copied the architectural - 193 feature of European tents. They could, alternatively, have been made and occupied by Europeans.

Henry also saw some of the other style of hut. 52

According to Beattie 53 the huts at Dusky Bay instituted an enquiry in 1919 “that established the fact that round huts had been known up till the sixties at Moeraki and were still in use on more remote mutton bird islands.” Otherwise there seem to be no parallels for the round huts at Dusky Bay. Even the Martins Bay fern log hut inadequately described by Whitworth in the 1860s seems to have been constructed on different principles. Descriptions of huts seen at Molyneux Harbour in 1830, 54 Ruapuke in 1823 55 and for Southland in general in 1822 56 bear little resemblance (except for the materials used) to the huts at Dusky.

The partitioned cave site described by Begg et al. 57 at Cascade Cove is paralleled by another cave somewhere in Preservation Inlet. The latter was discovered in 1842, and found to be partitioned in the middle, the inner part forming the sleeping area being neatly covered with feathers of different birds. 58 A whale bone mere (or paraoa), a fishing line and baskets were also found and the nature of these articles suggests the type of economic activity carried out in the area.

Adzes, Axes and Chisels. Cook, 59 Forster 60 and Wales 61 refer to axes and adzes made of greenstone which Wales described as a very hard rock. It is likely that this material was nephrite, a material that was in common use at contact on the east coast of the South Island. 62 Wales refers to these implements as multi-purpose tools, adzes, chisels and axes.

A greenstone gouge 63 was found in the cave of Cascade Cove. Such gouges or chisels were in common use at contact on the east coast. 64 Another piece of greenstone “worked into the shape of a chisel” was found near the cave. Henry also dug up greenstone chisels on both Maori and Pigeon Islands.

Fishing Gear. The Dusky Sound Maori possessed a variety of fish hooks, both one and two piece, made of wood or bone or both' 65 The cord for the fishing line and for joining the parts of the composite hooks together was made of native flax. They also had fishing nets 66 made out of flax.

The fish hooks are not well described and one is not told whether or not they were barbed. However, the composite bait hook with wooden shank is a well-documented item of late Maori culture. 67

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Henry excavated a stone sinker (undescribed) on Maori Island.

Some of the natives observed by Cook were wearing albatross feathers 68 and these birds may have been taken in the area. Since the albatross can be caught with a hook which looks very like a fish hook 69 it is possible that some of the hooks seen by Cook were for this purpose.

Portions of two composite fish hooks, one of human and the other of bird bone, were recovered from a cave at Cascade Cove. 70 Both points have internal barbs and several notches on the outside basal sections of the points. They are similar to those found in east coast assemblages at Murdering Beach, False Island, Cannibal Bay, Centre Island and Tokanui Mouth. 71 These points are similar to Hjarno's type C3a 72 which he claims is not commonly found in later Maori assemblages but occurs frequently throughout his late Archaic phase. Unfortunately one can say nothing more about the fish hooks since they are too few in number and their chronological context remains unknown.

Spears. In two paintings of the Dusky Bay natives 73 a very long spear (at least 15 feet) is shown, and in one of these paintings there is depicted a short spear or a supporting stick. According to Forster 74 both women held long spears. The latter are well documented. They could have been weapons of war or kuata 75 or bird spears, 76 perhaps the latter when one takes the isolation of the locality into consideration. Similar long spears were seen in use by Edwardson in 1823 in the Foveaux Strait area. 77 Bird spears were usually used to hunt birds frequenting the larger trees. However, many of the birds found at Dusky were ground species and these could more easily be taken by snaring, running them down or catching them in the nest. On the other hand, pigeons were certainly abundant in this area during Cook's stay.

The historical evidence further suggests that the Maori valued these spears; they gave Cook feather cloaks, greenstone adzes and even clubs, but they would not part with their spears. 78 Moreover, it was apparent at Cook's first encounter with the Maori that the men preferred to have patu and club at hand rather than a spear; the spears were left with the women. It would appear then that their value was not so much as weapons; rather they must have played an important role in subsistence activities.

Cook encountered two other native men, both with spears 79 and although he did not describe them, the sequence of events leading up to the meeting strongly suggested that their spears were weapons.

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Patu. Both paintings depict the Maori man wearing a patu 80 which was later given to Cook. 81

Clubs. In the painting (plate LXIII) reproduced in Forster's Journal the male Maori is leaning on a club some five feet long. A similar club or taiaha can be seen in the Otago Museum, and they are described by Best. 82 It is notable that both the club in the museum and the one shown in Forster's painting are much wider and more rounded at the bottom than any illustrated by Best.

A similar implement is shown in another painting of the same family group in Cook's journal. 83 However, it is difficult to believe it is the same club, for it is several feet longer and seems to be double ended, more like a double bladed canoe paddle. Since both paintings were executed by the same man it is difficult to assess their reliability as ethnographic records.

Other Tools. A stone scraper made of shale or slate which probably derived from the Preservation Inlet area was picked up near Cascade Cove. 84 A few flakes (undescribed) were dug up by Henry on Maori Island. Evidence of possible Maori use of ironware such as spike nails was discovered on Maori and Pigeon Islands by Henry, while the remains of what was possibly an iron axe were recovered in the cave at Cascade Cove. A so-called “winkle-picker” of bird bone was found in the midden deposit in the same cave.

Mats. Raven and his party were pulling up the Acheron Passage in November 1792 when they saw smoke coming from a fire in a little cove somewhere near the end of the passage. 85 After putting in to investigate they found a newly erected hut inside which were some mats. No further description was given.

Basketry. Vancouver's party (1791) found the remains of two baskets near two huts on the east side of Goose Cove. 86 They were described as crude, and were made of the bark from a tree lying near by. Baskets made of bark strips are unusual as the more general Maori practice 87 was to plait the leaves of Cordyline or native flax Phormium. Phormium was to be found at Dusky, but it may have been scarce at Goose Cove, forcing the inhabitants to use other materials.

The Maori did make receptacles for cooked birds, usually out of the inner bark of totara. 88 These were called patua and were made from the inner bark. Since it is possible that the Maori collected supplies of birds for winter while at Dusky, such receptacles may have been containers for preserved birds.

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Only one other basket was observed by early Europeans. This was seen within a canoe, and was full of berries. 89 Unfortunately it was not described further, but it is likely to have been made from Phormium fibres.

Water Transport. Several canoes were seen by Cook and his men while at Dusky. They all appeared to be of the double variety. One of these canoes was described by both Forster 90 and Wales 91 and Forster painted one of them. 92 It consisted of two hulls, one about 18 feet long and the other about 14 feet, joined by cross-pieces which were tied down with strips of native flax. According to Forster, the canoes were made out of planks sewn together with ropes of native flax. However, Wales 93 clearly states that both canoes were dugouts and that both had wash-boards fastened with flax rope to the hull. Forster apparently did not bother to examine the canoe carefully, and upon seeing the wash-boards assumed that the rest of the vessel was constructed in like manner. The stem and stern posts of the canoes were elevated above the average level of the sides. The stems terminated in human-like heads with shell insets probably paua, for the eyes. Forster commented on the bad repair of the canoe.

Another form of water transport used at Dusky appears to have been the raft of two or three logs of wood tied together. 94

The description of the double canoe agrees with others available for that period. They were commonly seen in the early contact period 95 but had fallen into disuse in the Cook Strait and North Island areas by the end of the eighteenth century. They tended to linger on in the southern areas of the South Island. 96

Traditional evidence suggests that before contact the double canoe was always the most common in Murihiku. Beattie, 97 quoting an old informant, described these canoes as consisting of one hull larger than the other, with an interlinking deck carrying sails. They were supposed to be very safe as they were hard to capsize. In fact, except for the platform and the sails which Cook and his officers did not appear to have seen, this description corresponds quite well with that of Forster and Wales. It is possible that the absence of a deck on the canoe at Dusky Sound may have been because the two canoes were temporarily joined, perhaps only for the duration of the expedition to the Sound. The separate hulls bear a striking similarity to the waka tete of Best 98 which he described as a canoe with plain figurehead, sometimes with an inferior stern piece, used for coastal voyages and sea fishing.

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The canoes were propelled by two paddles; 99 there is no further description.

Rafts were used by the Maori in various parts of New Zealand 100 but the author has been unable to find any close parallels to the raft described at Dusky. The rafts referred to in the literature tend to be quite complex with several layers and two parallel and separate sections joined by cross struts.

Clothing. The descriptions of the clothing that the Dusky Bay Maori wore is far from adequate. From information supplied by Cook, 101 Wales 102 and Forster 103 the following points emerge:

  • 1. The dress of men and women differed little.
  • 2. The main garment consisted of a mat of native flax interwoven with feathers. This was hung over the shoulders and tied down. Apparently it barely covered the thigh. The lower part of the mat was passed between the legs and pinned to the front piece. They also had a thick warm cape, made of the coarser part of the native flax plant, which they wore in colder weather. The natives gave Cook and his officers several pieces of “cloth” but not enough detail is given to enable one to determine what items of clothing these were. At his encounter with the second group of natives it is not clear whether he was presented with a kahu or a simpler form of cape. Beaglehole 104 surmised that Cook was presented with the valuable kahu, or feather cloak, at his meeting on board the Endeavour with the native and his daughter. Judging from Forster's 105 description, Beaglehole is probably correct.
  • 3. Feathers were used to decorate the women's hair.
  • 4. They wore necklaces which had bunches of grass and feathers attached to them.
  • 5. Their ears were decorated with small pieces of white Albatross skins and feathers stained with ruddle or ochre. 106

The first-hand accounts tend to be confusing and if interpreted literally would be difficult to reconcile with other accounts of traditional Maori dress during the contact period. For example, there is no known parallel for the “mat” hanging from the shoulder with the lower part passing between the legs. It is more probable that what was seen was a cloak covering two thirds of the body, and part of an apron or kilt. 107 The paintings of the Maori 108 at Dusky Bay are not very detailed and provide little extra information. However, the cloaks are quite clear and there seem to be waist belts of some sort. The natives in one painting - 198 appear to be wearing kilts or aprons; 109 no part of these is likely to have passed between the legs. This question must remain unresolved. All one can say is that the dress as depicted in these paintings, and the references describing “mats” (cloaks), appear to be in accord with other descriptions of Maori dress. When Captain Alabaster met the Maori family at Martin's Bay in the early 1860s, 110 in what was probably their first encounter with a European, they were dressed in the traditional flax mats.

It is perhaps noteworthy that the patu belonging to the man in the painting is hung on a string about his neck, so that it hangs at abdomen level.

The description of the method of dressing the hair, including decoration with feathers, accords well with that by Buck. 111 Cook was presented with a “belt of weeds” 112 which was probably a tu 113 consisting of a number of twisted or plaited strands of Phormium or alternatively grass fibres. The head decorations of feathers, particularly the favoured albatross feathers, also has parallels. 114 Likewise strips of skin with albatross feathers was a very popular form of decoration among the Maori. 115 Since albatross feathers were obviously being extensively used by the little family that Cook interviewed, it is possible that the bird bone necklace he received 116 was of pieces of albatross bone, again a common Maori personal adornment. 117

The man interviewed by Cook possessed a little bag, probably of seal skin 118 which contained a type of scent or oil used to anoint the hair. Feathers were also dipped in the oil and then placed around the neck. Best 119 described the production and use of such oils, which were apparently common.

Ovens and Storage Pits. Pits excavated by Henry 120 and later by the Beggs 121 on Indian Island warrant some discussion. One pit was 2½ feet square and 4 feet deep, with large stones on the bottom, apparently overlain by ashes and shell. The other was 3 feet deep, floored with large stones “as big as a man could carry”, and its sloping sides lined with stones carefully fitted together.

Both descriptions of pits are particularly interesting. Henry appeared to be describing an oven, but its square shape, depth and the size of the stones at the bottom are unusual. The more regular Maori oven was a circular pit, about two feet in diameter and fifteen to sixteen inches in depth, and the oven stones were carefully chosen, often smooth water-worn - 199 pebbles about three to four inches in length. 122 Thomson 123 described a number of Southland ovens as round holes dug in the ground about four or five feet in diameter and of the same depth. Pebbles and stones were arranged around the edges. Perhaps only large stones were available in the Indian Island area, explaining their use as oven stones, but the odd shape and depth of the oven still requires explanation. At present the author can find no parallels for this type of oven in the extant literature. Perhaps Henry exaggerated the shape of the pit, or he may have dug through the raked embers of the old oven which would have raised the sides of the oven some distance above the actual ground level. Since the whole complex would have been buried subsequently, a properly controlled excavation would be required to differentiate the original ground level from the raked embers.

The circular pit discovered and described by the Beggs would appear to be a storage pit of some kind. The absence of charcoal (and food refuse) does not necessarily preclude the possibility of it being an oven, as charcoal was frequently removed from ovens after initial heating of the stones, or hot stones were sometimes brought from elsewhere to line an oven. 124 However, ovens with stone-lined walls, the stones of which were carefully fitted together, do not seem to have parallels in the literature.

Small subterranean storage pits were common enough. 125 They frequently had dome-shaped tops, with a narrow entrance at the summit. The pits were usually lined with tree fern trunks, not stone. It is possible that the stone lining of the pit was designed as a counter to the peculiar nature of the local environment, which was continually wet for a good part of the year, posing particularly difficult problems for the storage of perishable foodstuffs. It is perhaps significant that only very large stones were used to line the “storage pit”, suggesting that there were no small stones in the area.

Henry described other “ovens” on Pigeon Island which were three feet deep with wood at the bottom of the pits. Unfortunately, no more detail is given.


A careful examination of the four major sources for this period—Cook, Wales, Forster, Pickersgill and Sparrman—leads to the conclusion that there were probably no more than four or five families in the area at that time. There was the family on Indian Island, a group which could have been a family living at Cascade Cove and possible three families 126 living in the neighbourhood of the exit of the Seaforth River. Cook 127 and Sparrman 128 estimated the total number as three or four families. All told, they saw about twenty Maori during their stay in the Sounds.

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Hunting and collecting seem to have involved family groups, each family exploiting the resources of different parts of the Sound.

Observations made by Cook and his party give some clues as to the kind of activities in which the Maori were involved. It is interesting that they saw no sign of stored food at any of the hut sites they visited (assuming that stores would have been mentioned had they been there). The only foods seen were a few fish, 129 and a basket of berries in a canoe. 130 No heaps of bones, drying racks or smoke houses are mentioned. There seems to be little doubt that fishing and collecting were important subsistence activities. Fishing gear was seen in a canoe ready for use; one family was observed fishing from a canoe, 131 and on another occasion eating fish at the evening meal. 132

Yet it is difficult to believe that the Maori had undertaken the dangerous sea trip around the coast or an arduous journey overland to indulge in subsistance activities alone. It is likely that they had arrived just before Cook, intending to collect a winter food supply. This would explain the absence of any sign of food storage or preservation facilities, though the possibility remains that their food stores were hidden.

However, there is very little evidence that the Maori sometimes came to the Sound for winter food supplies. During his stay at Dusky, Henry 133 observed many barked totara trees in a number of areas including Pigeon Island, Maori Island, Anchor Island and along the Seaforth River.

He remarked that bark strips about four feet long and between eighteen and twenty-four inches wide had been cut out from the trees when they were quite young and that one could still see the marks of a blunt, presumably stone, axe. Cook's party observed that bark strips of this type were used to cover Maori huts, 134 and they could also have been used to make carrying baskets and receptacles for storing food.

Referring now to Tables 1 and 2, it can be seen that many of the resources are seasonal. At the time of Cook's visit a number of forest birds, including Apteryx australis, Calleas cinerea, Nester meridionalis meridionalis and Strigops habroptilus would have finished breeding and the chicks would probably have been quite large by March. These could have been eaten by the Maori. April-July was ordinarily regarded as the season for taking weka. 135

Pigeons would have just arrived in the Sound from farther east and they were observed by Cook 136. Evidence has already been cited which suggests that the bird-spear assumed an important role in whatever subsistence activities were occupying the Maori at Dusky. When one considers this evidence in conjunction with the fact that the pigeons had only just started to arrive at the Sounds, it is tempting to conclude that the Maori came to Dusky Bay to take mainly pigeons.

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The other possible bird quarry would include Puffinus griseus (Mutton bird) and Thalassarche melanophris (albatross). March—April was the traditional season for taking mutton birds 137 and the albatross was ashore during this period. Cook 138 noted a large colony of mutton birds on Seal Island. The optimum period of the year for taking other sea birds, and the paradise duck which was usually taken during the moulting season between August and January when it was easy to run down, 139 had already passed.

Fish likely to have been readily caught include rock cod, coal-fish, barracouta, sea mullet and sea perch. Several vegetable foods, including fern root and berries such as those of Coriaria ruscifolia, shell fish of all sorts, and seals were also there for the taking. Unfortunately there is scant detail in the literature of the role of sealing in the Maori economic cycle, and it appears (on present evidence) to have assumed little importance.

It seems likely, then, that birding, with a little gathering and fishing, were the main subsistence activities practised by the Maori seen by Cook and his party.

When Alabaster and Hector contacted the Maori family at Martin's Bay in the 1860s, the latter appeared to be living in much the same manner as the Maori observed by Cook. The family consisted of a man and his wife and two daughters. 140 They lived on a diet of fern root, 141 shellfish, and birds. 142 When Hector was at Martin's Bay the family hunted kiwi and kakapo.


No detailed information is available about the midden examined in this cave. A number of bird remains have been identified, as well as those of fish, seal, Polynesian rat and dog. 143 Although the evidence allows speculation only, the range of bird species present is interesting (see Table 1). It can be seen that there is a mixture of forest and sea-birds. The Cascade Cove site is on the mainland, so that the kakapo, kokako, kaka and kiwi were probably taken in the surrounding area. The occurrence of seal in the midden, and the proximity of the sealing islands is evidence enough that the Maori were making short trips to these areas to take seal. They probably also acquired fish and sea-birds in these trips. The fact that neither Puffinus nor Hemiphaga seems to occur in the midden refuse would indicate that the Maori were probably in the area before the end of February. The occurrence of Eudyptes pachyrhynchus and Eudyptula minor minor would suggest that the site was occupied between November and February, probably nearer November, while the occurrence of Larus novaeholliandiae and Sterna striata would put occupation at around - 202 November—December. It would seem then that the cave at Cascade Cove was probably occupied some time during November and December.

It is relevant that Sparrman, 144 writing of his experiences in Dusky Sound with Cook, deduced that autumn was the best time of the year to visit Dusky for sea-birds.


So far, the evidence suggests that the Maori came to Dusky Sound any time between November and April. That Maoris visited the area in November is confirmed by Raven 145 who saw them there in that month in 1792. Neither Vancouver 146 who was in Dusky Sound in November 1791, nor the Spanish Expedition which sent a boat into Doubtful Sound in February 1793 147, saw any sign of Maori. However, this does not mean that they were not there. Cook and Vancouver both noted the timidity of the Dusky Sound Maori, so they may have been hiding. The fact that so few Maori were encountered by the early explorers helps to support a suspicion that the area was never visited very regularly, or by large numbers of Maori.

Further, when the early explorers first encountered the Maori family at Martin's Bay they found them in a wretched condition, suggesting that even subsistence may have been difficult in the Sounds.


There is little documentary evidence of Maori activity in Dusky Sound in the nineteenth century. Traditional sources suggest that the area was intermittently visited by Maori sealers. About 1847 148 the Maori were taking 70-80 seal skins a season, and this figure had increased to between 600 and 700 by 1867. Captain Oliphant, visiting the west coast sounds in 1803, reported the natives to be very friendly, 149 though it is not certain whether he observed them in Dusky Sound. An old Maori woman was supposed to have been living in a cave on Resolution Island in the early nineteenth century; later she was killed by a party of Maori visiting the area. 150 Other sightings of Maori have been reported but the evidence is not very reliable. For example, it was reported that a party of 50 natives were seen cooking weka in Wet Jacket Arm. 151 In 1823 an inscription was left in nearby Preservation Inlet warning other Europeans to “beware of the natives”. 152

It appears that from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, the Maori came only infrequently to the Sounds to do a little sealing. There were occasional reports in the Southland newspapers of these parties leaving for Fiordland. 153

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There is little substantial evidence of European activity at Dusky Sound. Traditional sources suggest that the Sound was frequented by sealers in the early nineteenth century. 154 From that time onwards it was visited by prospectors, occasional sealers, fishermen and sightseers, and later in the nineteenth century Docherty and Henry were resident in the area.


Dusky Sound is a remote area, supporting a wide range of flora, fauna and avifauna. Many of the food resources are seasonal and often unreliable, and a number of individual species of fauna and avifauna have limited distributions within the Sound. It is most unlikely that the food resources of any one particular area could support a group of people adequately for any length of time.

The nature of the area suggests that the food resources could be exploited best by a few small widely-dispersed groups of people. Large groups concentrated in one area would soon deplete the local food resources, while too many groups at Dusky Sound at any one time would lead to over-exploitation and eventual depletion of the food resources of the entire region.

Dusky Sound comprises an immense area stretching east-west for about thirty miles. There are many islands, both large and small, inhabited by various species of fauna and avifauna. The only practical way to move about Dusky Sound is by boat, and it follows that Maori groups coming to Dusky must have possessed some sort of sea transport. Trees suitable for canoe building were not common at Dusky. In the Seaforth River region MacKenzie 155 described the vegetation as comprising essentially beech, intermixed with red pine and rata, and here and there totara. There were patches of ribbonwood, broadleaf, panax and so on. If canoes were constructed at Dusky one can assume the Maori came to the area overland—either from Chalky Inlet or over the mountains and down the Seaforth River valley. However, overland journeys to Dusky, though a possibility, seem unlikely.

The overland trip from the west arm of Lake Manapouri is today still a difficult journey. In the late nineteenth century several explorers attempted to find a route from the Te Anau area through to Dusky Bay 156 and from Lake Hauroko to Dusky. 157 In 1897 Wilmot 158 succeeded where others failed. He found the whole country “excessively rugged and broken, the valleys and sides of the mountains to a height of over 3,000 feet being densely bushed, where not absolutely precipitous. The bottoms of the main valleys vary from a few chains to half a mile in width; the side valleys are mere ravines, with precipitous sides.” All the explorers commented on the paucity of bird and animal life in these valleys. 159 Reed - 204 et al. 160 describing their recent experiences on a walk through to Dusky, write of the hardships of the journey and claim that if it were not for the deer trails (which were not there in prehistoric times) the going would be extremely difficult.

All things taken into account then, it seems most unlikely that the Maori came to Dusky overland from Lake Manapouri.

The journey from Chalky would entail a canoe trip across the Inlet to the western shore, a very hard walk through dense scrub to Dusky, followed by the construction of a canoe, if a suitable tree could be found. Canoe building was a long tedious business generally employing large numbers of men. Beattie 161 states that this overland journey was occasionally undertaken.

One cannot really answer the question of how the Maori came to Dusky. The alternative to the overland thesis is an equally dangerous sea journey by canoe. However, all things taken into consideration, this would seem to be the most likely. There were numbers of Maori and Maori canoes at Preservation and Chalky Inlets in the 1820s 162 and one argues that if they could sail around the coast to these areas then Dusky Sound could also have been reached by this method of transport. Small groups of Maori could have paddled their canoes along the coast when the weather was fine, putting in to shore when it was bad.

One concludes that the difficulties of getting to Dusky Sound, and of moving around once there, were probably two important factors which discouraged the Maori from visiting the area. In addition, the environment itself was unpleasant, with a high annual rainfall, continually damp conditions and food resources which tended to be unreliable: one wonders why any Maori bothered to go to Dusky at all.

Cook did observe several Maori family units in the Sounds, and at least two of these possessed canoes. They were of the standard double variety, suggesting that they had been brought to Dusky from farther east. Henry found portions of canoes in Dusky 163 and another piece of a canoe was found in Breaksea Sound 164 made, notably, out of totara. The fact that huts were rarely observed in numbers greater than one or two, and that they were seen on several islands in widely differing geographical contexts, suggests that the subsistence activities had always involved family groups and that the canoe was an essential family artifact.

Most items of material culture in use by the Maori observed by Cook's party had parallels farther east. The only real difference appeared to be in the construction of the huts. The type of construction may have been dictated by environmental factors; certainly these huts were not built as permanent habitations, and the highly mobile type of occupation at Dusky may well account for their design.

Finally some attempt has been made to ascertain the sort of subsistence activities practised by the Maori at Dusky Bay. The Cascade Cove evidence - 205 suggested that they hunted a wide variety of birds. These, combined with seal, Polynesian rat, fish and shell fish, and various vegetable foods, must have formed the staples. The precise quantity of each component could be expected to vary, depending on the time of the year, the geographical position of the camping spot and preferences of the Maori party. The Cascade Cove evidence further suggests that the cave occupants were probably there during summer, while the documentary evidence suggests that the Maori Cook observed in autumn were possibly there to catch pigeons and other forest birds.

One concludes that Dusky Sound did not play a very important economic or cultural role in Maori affairs and that they did not visit Dusky regularly.



Cook 165 saw two Maori huts situated in the woods on a little hill behind Canoe Harbour on the N.E. shore of Indian Island. 166

Much later 167 Henry claimed he saw several Maori huts, which did not appear to be very old, in this area. Both Henry and Begg et al. 168 excavated pit structures in this area.



Cook 169 saw two huts somewhere in Cascade Cove in 1773.

Cave Site 170

The Beggs, describing the cave some time later claimed that sleeping and kitchen areas in the cave were demarcated by “two walls of loosely arranged stones”. The kitchen area consisted of an oven with the usual ashes and charcoal and an oven with considerable numbers of bird and fish bones and shell debris.

One interesting feature of the cave is that subsequent to Maori occupation there was a rock fall which covered some of the kitchen area.

About a pound of oxidised wrought iron was also found in the back of the cave 171 and may have been the remains of an axe.


Henry 172 described the remains of an old hut 8 feet X 10 feet by 5 feet high in Cascade Cove. It had been roofed with a few pieces of board and at the time was very much decayed. It is likely to date from post-1867 as visitors to the area in that year saw no signs of previous occupation. 173

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In 1963 the Beggs 174 visited Cascade Cove and found evidence of a boat ramp and a camp site 16 feet x 12 feet cut into a hill, which they presumed to be an old sealing site. They discovered “tent” pegs rotted down to the surface of the ground and some boat rollers made of rata. It is possible that this site is the same one described by Henry.



Sealers Cove:

Henry 175 described this area as one of the best in Dusky Bay. It is sheltered, sunny, close to the best fishing and sealing grounds, central and near to the open sea, and free of sandflies. He claimed that there was plenty of evidence of previous Maori occupation on the Peninsula forming the harbour, and wrote of a Maori village and pa. Unfortunately Henry did not set down the evidence for his conclusions. Though he fossicked around, finding a number of ovens “a spade deep in good firm peat”, he could not dig much because there was “such a mat of roots and scrub”. 176

Anchor Island Lake

Henry 177 claimed to have found traces of old Maori camps at the head of the lake. No further information is available.

Offshore Islands Adjacent to Anchor Island

Henry explored many little islands to the south of Anchor Island and on a number of these he found evidence of Maori occupation. On Maori Island (named by Henry), the location of which is shown on a sketch map housed in the Hocken Library, he dug up a stone sinker, a chisel, a big old spike nail and a “few flakes of flint for knives”. 178 The presence of the spike nail suggests the site was post-European. Maori Island had no sandflies at the time, increasing its desirability as a camping spot. On another flat-topped island on “the side of the strait” he found two huts each with a fire-place. 179 The huts were built and floored with fern tree stems and were evidently quite old, as one of them had a tree growing out of the ridge with its roots situated along the roof. 180


Sealers Cove

Traditionally Sealers Cove has had an intensive history of occupation by sealers. Remains of one of the first sealing settlements 181 have been rediscovered recently. 182

Henry 183 discovered several areas which had been deliverately levelled - 207 and excavated into the cliff face. A number of huts had been build there on a rectangular plan. It seems probable that these “hut areas” were temporary living quarters of early sealers.

At the head of Sealers Cove, Henry 184 found an old dwelling about 16 feet X 12 feet in plan and evidence of a trypot.

On his return to Sealers Cove in 1795, Murray 185 saw a trypot near a house and drying shed, and it seems likely that the remains discovered by Henry and later by Begg et al. 186 were those of a trypot used by Leith and his party.

A sealing station was later established in Sealers Cove by Kable and Underwood, but nothing is known of the activities of its men.

Anchor Island Lake

On a little island at the head of the lake Henry 187 discovered another possible trypot site.

Cave Site

Paulin 188 discovered a cave at the west point of Anchor Island. In it he found a number of skeletons which he thought might have been those of “coolies” left there after the Endimon was wrecked some years before.



Beattie 189 reports that D'Urville discovered the remains of two huts at Sportsman's Cove in 1832. In fact D'Urville received this information from another party that had been there in 1832. 190



Cook 191 met Maori families in this area in 1773 and it seems probable that these families were living in huts close by, as they invited Cook and his party to eat with them.


William Docherty lived in this remote area for some time in the second half of the nineteenth century. The site has been fully described by several authors. 192



During Cook's stay at Pickersgill Harbour in 1773 a Maori family camped near the ship. 193

Henry 194 claimed that old Maori camping place was located there and that several holes had been dug by someone looking for Maori curios.

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An area was cleared at the neck of this harbour by Cook in 1773. 195 This was the site Cook chose to refit his ship. Begg et al. 196 have relocated the site and mapped it in detail.



Goose Cove

In 1791, Vancouver's party examined a fresh looking hut made of fern tree, with external fireplace, on the east side of the cove. 197 A midden deposit consisting principally of earshell (paua) and limpet was associated with the habitation site.

Two years later Raven's party examined another hut located some-where near a “beach opposite to a sandy low point which runs off a considerable distance from the shore”. 198 Several more huts were found at the head of the cove.

Facile Harbour

Vancouver's party examined two “miserable” huts there in 1791. 199 Two years later Raven visited several huts in and around the harbour. 200

Woodhen Cove

Raven's party 201 saw several huts at the head of the cove in 1793. Henry 202 described a hut with a ridge pole made of fern stems in this area.

Earshell Cove

Vancouver's party saw fern tree huts near a stream in this cove in 1791 203 associated with the “earshell” (probably paua) midden.

Disappointment Cove

Raven's party saw a freshly built hut there in 1792. 204

Pigeon Isiand

Henry discovered evidence of Maori occupation in the form of ovens there. 205 Henry stated that he found no crockery or broken glass or anything to suggest the site had been occupied by Europeans. As further evidence of Maori occupation he cited a “spike nail”, a “neatly ground” chisel, “dug up near a big stone on which the Maori had laid his sharpening stone.”

The shallow depth of the archaeological material and the presence of spike nails suggests that at least some of these ovens are post-European in date.

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Goose Cove

Henry 206 found the remains of old sealing camps at the south end of the cove.

Paulin examined a hut somewhere in this area in 1886.

Facile Harbour

On 6 November, 1791, Vancouver's expedition anchored at Facile Harbour. An exploring party cleared a space in the area and set up a tent. 207

The wreck of the Endeavour lies within Facile Harbour. 208

Pigeon Island

Henry's settlement has been described by Begg et al. 209 who have published photographs of the house, out-house, jetty and boatshed as they were in 1900.


The author wishes to thank the Myer Foundation whose generous financial support has enabled him to compile the present manuscript. He would also like to thank Miss Jean Kennedy, Anthropology Department, Otago University, for her many comments and criticisms of this manuscript during its preparation.

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  • —— 1912. “The Stone Implements of the Maori”. Dominion Museum Bulletin, 4.
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Otago Daily Times & Witness Newspaper Co. Ltd.


M.H.L. “Draft transcript of Records of Richard Henry's Service as Curator of Resolution and adjacent islands from 1894 to 1904”, in Hocken Library, Dunedin. M., 1/540.

“Letters from Richard Henry at Dusky Sound and Kapiti Island, together with some notes on Cheviot Hills and Te Anau Downs Stations and other Miscellaneous material” in Hocken Library Dunedin. M., 1 705/A.

“Letters from Richard Henry at Auckland Hospital and Dusky Sound together with letters from Mrs Isabella McKinnon relating to the death of her son, Quinton”, in Hocken Library, Dunedin. M., 1 705B.

1   Henry, M.H.L.: 13, 21.
2   Henry, Otago Witness, 23 May 1895.
3   Poole 1951:52.
4   Menzies in McNab 1907:311.
5   Letter to Hocken in Beattie 1945:69.
6   Henry 1899:678.
7   M.H.L.: 16.
8   In Beattie 1949:70.
9   Begg et al. 1966:55.
10   Henry 1903:88.
11   Henry M.H.L., last year's entries.
12   Begg et al. 1966:54.
13   op. cit.:114.
14   Hall-Jones 1960.
15   Baylis et al. 1963.
16   Poole 1951:51.
17   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:132; Paulin 1889:56.
18   also coastal
19   migratory species.
20   After Best 1902: Colenso 1880.
21   Henry 1903:15, 68.
22   In McNab 1908: Vol. 2, 496.
23   Beattie 1920b:58.
24   Beattie 1949:86.
25   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:159.
26   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:126; Sparrman 1953:25, 29.
27   M.H.L.: 89.
28   op. cit.: 36, 67, 104-5.
29   op. cit.:79, 92, 107.
30   In McNab 1907:307.
31   M.H.L.:49.
32   M.H.L.:92.
33   Henry 1903:80.
34   op. cit.:33.
35   op. cit.:26.
36   op. cit.:33.
37   op. cit.:50.
38   McNab 1908 Vol 1:178.
39   Best 1929:34.
40   Best 1929:113, 180, 185.
41   McNab 1908 Vol. 1:225, 429-30, 526. Beattie 1945:87, 89.
42   Cave Site.
43   Sealing Camps.
44   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:117.
45   op. cit.:112-3.
46   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:777.
47   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:140.
48   In McNab 1907:305.
49   op. cit.:326.
50   In McNab 1908 Vol. 2:496.
51   Henry 1899:678; M.H.L.:60.
52   See photograph in Beattie 1950 facing p. 150.
53   Beattie 1945:97.
54   Morrell in McNab 1907:264.
55   Kent in Howard 1939:365.
56   Edwardson in McNab 1907:215.
57   Begg et al. 1966:54.
58   Roberts 1895:35.
59   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:122.
60   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:161.
61   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:781.
62   Simmons 1967:38; Beattie 1920a:50.
63   See Begg et al. 1966: plate 40 and pages 118-9 for description.
64   See Best 1912:197ff.
65   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:781.
66   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:113; Wales 1961 Vol. 2:777.
67   Hjarno 1967:22, 41.
68   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:118.
69   Best 1924 Vol. 2:430, plate on p. 429.
70   Begg et al. 1966: plate 40, described p. 118-9.
71   See Hjarno 1967: plates 111ff.
72   Hjarno 1967:27.
73   Cook 1961 Vol. 2: Figure 26, and Begg et al. 1966: plate 10.
74   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:137.
75   Best 1924 Vol. 2:240.
76   Best 1924 Vol. 2:464; Beattie 1920b:68.
77   In McNab 1907:213.
78   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:140.
79   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:125.
80   See Best 1924 Vol. 2:254.
81   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:118.
82   Best 1924 Vol. 2:247.
83   Cook 1961 Vol. 2: Figure 26.
84   Begg et al. 1966: plate 40, 119.
85   Menzies in McNab 1907:321.
86   Menzies in McNab 1907:306.
87   Best 1924 Vol. 2:525.
88   Buck 1949:99.
89   Forster 177 Vol. 1:132.
90   Ibid.
91   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:777, 780.
92   Cook 1961 Vol. 2: Figure 25.
93   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:777.
94   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:125.
95   Best 1925:6.
96   Best 1925:11, 13.
97   Beattie 1916:50.
98   Best 1925:6.
99   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:131.
100   Best 1925:136ff.
101   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:118, 123, 125.
102   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:780.
103   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:138.
104   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:123, f/n 1.
105   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:160.
106   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:118, f/n 1.
107   Best 1924 Vol. 2:503.
108   See Cook 1961 Vol. 1: Figure 26, and Foster 1777 Vol. 1:plate LXIII.
109   See Buck 1926:plate 14.
110   McKenzie 1952:2.
111   Buck 1949:284.
112   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:140.
113   Best 1924 Vol. 2:522.
114   Best 1924 Vol. 2:534.
115   Best 1924 Vol. 2:537.
116   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:140.
117   Best 1924 Vol. 2:543.
118   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:163.
119   Ibid.
120   Otago Witness, 23 May 1895.
121   Begg et al. 1966:64.
122   Best 1924 Vol. 1:417-9.
123   Thomson 1858:304.
124   Best, ibid.
125   Best 1924 Vol. 1:588.
126   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:134.
127   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:134.
128   Sparrman 1953:32.
129   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:112-3.
130   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:132.
131   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:122.
132   Pickersgill in McNab 1907:297.
133   M.H.L.: 22-4, 48, 58; Letter to E. Melland: 22/8/1898.
134   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:140.
135   Beattie 1920b:61.
136   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:136.
137   Beattie 1920b:57.
138   Forster 1777 Vol. 1:153.
139   Beattie 1920b:69.
140   Hector 1863:464.
141   Beattie 1950:37.
142   Hector 1863:467.
143   Begg et al. 1966:117.
144   Sparrman 1953:30.
145   In McNab 1907:321.
146   op. cit.:32.
147   op. cit.:53.
148   Parker in Henry M.H.L.:82.
149   McNab 1907:81.
150   Beattie 1921:86.
151   Ibid.
152   Ibid.
153   Daniel Theophilus Scrapbooks, Book 1.
154   See McNab 1907:81;1908 Vol. 1:225, 429-30, 526.
155   Mackenzie 1896.
156   Beattie 1949:96; Mackenzie 1894:Reed et al. 1950:22.
157   Beattie 1950:55.
158   Wilmot 1897;Reed et al. 1950:25.
159   Mackenzie 1894; 1896; Wilmot 1897.
160   Reed et al. 1950:59.
161   Beattie 1949:78.
162   De Blosseville in McNab 1907:199.
163   Beattie 1949:70.
164   op. cit.:75.
165   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:116.
166   Refer Begg et al. 1966: Figure 11.
167   M.H.L.:94; Otago Witness 23 May 1895.
168   Begg et al. 1966:64.
169   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:113.
170   See Begg et al. 1966: Figure 10 for the location.
171   op. cit.:114.
172   M.H.L.:17; Otago Witness 23 May 1895.
173   Otago Daily Times 24 December 1867.
174   Begg et al. 1966:51.
175   M.H.L.:61.
176   Letter to E. Melland 22 August 1898.
177   M.H.L.:57.
178   Henry M.H.L.:17, 22, 24.
179   Letter to Hocken cited in Beattie 1949:69.
180   Henry M.H.L.:69-70.
181   Probably Raven's sealing settlement 1792; In McNab 1907:319ff.
182   Begg et al. 1966:68, Figure 12.
183   Letter to Hocken cited in Beattie 1949:69.
184   Letter to E. Melland 22 August 1898.
185   Cited in Begg et al. 1966:194.
186   op. cit.:73.
187   M.H.L.:57.
188   Letter to Dr Hocken 12 April 1888.
189   Beattie 1945:97.
190   McNab 1905:91.
191   Cook 1961 Vol. 2:123.
192   Paulin 1889:65; Reischek 1952:237; Begg et al. 1966:103.
193   Pickersgill in McNab 1907:297.
194   Otago Witness 23 May 1895.
195   Wales 1961 Vol. 2:778. . .
196   Begg et al. 1966:135, Figure 17.
197   Menzies in McNab 1907:206.
198   Murray in McNab 1907:326-7.
199   Menzies Journal in McNab 1907:305.
200   McNab 1907:44.
201   Murray in McNab 1907:327.
202   M.H.L.:60.
203   Menzies Journal in McNab 1907:311-2.
204   Murray in McNab 1907:321.
205   Henry M.H.L.:10, 16, 19; see Begg et al. 1966:Figure 15 for location.
206   M.H.L.:50, 60.
207   Menzies in McNab 1907:304.
208   McNab 1907:59.
209   Begg et al. 1966:plates 23 and 27.