Kōrero: Horses

Kūmara-eating horses

In this 1819 letter to the secretary of the New Zealand mission, the missionary Samuel Marsden writes of an incident where two horses were killed by Māori for damaging their kūmara (sweet potato) crop. He considers how this could have been avoided and says that he will send more horses. Marsden originally introduced horses to the Bay of Islands in 1814.

The letter says:

I understand that the natives have killed two of the horses for trespassing in their gardens. I blame the settlers wholly for this accident. I understand the horses were very fond of sweet potatoes and rooted them up very much as they ran at large. These are the chief food which the natives value, and I am not surprised that they have killed them. They have been suffered to run where they pleased for 2 years. Had the settlers fenced a part of land off for them, they would then have done no injury and the natives would not have molested them. The natives with me are much distressed at this circumstance, as they are very fond of horses. Since they have been with me they have learned their value in all agricultural purposes. I have promised to send them some more –

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Hocken Library, University of Otago
Reference: MS-0056/016

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Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Emma Meyer, 'Horses - Introduction of the horse', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/zoomify/19261/kumara-eating-horses (accessed 25 August 2019)

Story by Emma Meyer, published 24 Nov 2008