14th June 1769
Between 2 and 4 o'clock this morning, one of the Natives stole out of the Fort an Iron rake, made use of for the Oven. It hapned to be set up against the Wall, and by that means was Visible from the outside, and had been seen by them in the evening, as a man had been seen lurking about the Fort some Hours before the thing was Missed. I was informed by some others of the Natives that he watch'd an opportunity when the Centinel's back was turned, he hooked it with a long crooked stick, and haled it over the Wall. When I came to be informed of this theft in the Morning I resolved to recover it by some Means or other, and accordingly went and took possession of all the Canoes of any value I could meet with, and brought them into the River behind the Fort to the number of 22, and told the Natives then present (most of them being the owners of the Canoes) that unless the principal things they had stol'n from us were restored I would burn them every one: not that I ever intended to put this in execution, and yet I was very much displeased with them, as they were daily committing, or attempting to commit, one theft or other, when at the same time--contrary to the opinion of everybody, I would not suffer them to be fir'd upon, for this would have been putting it in the power of the Centinels to have fir'd upon them upon the most slitest occasions, as I had before experienced. And I have a great Objection to firing with powder only amongst People who know not the difference, for by this they would learn to despise fire Arms and think their own Arms superior, and if ever such an Opinion prevailed they would certainly attack you, the Event of which might prove as unfavourable to you as them. About Noon the rake was restored us, when they wanted to have their Canoes again; but now, as I had them in my possession, I was resolved to try if they would not redeem them by restoring what they had stol'n from us before. The Principal things which we had lost was the Marine Musquet, a pair of Pistols belonging to Mr. Banks, a Sword belonging to one of the Petty Officers, and a Water Cask, with some other Articles not worth mentioning. Some said that these things were not in the Island, others that Tootaha had them, and those of Tootaha's friends laid the whole to Obariea, and I believe the whole was between these two persons.
Joseph Banks Journal
I lay in the woods last night as I very often did. At day break I was calld up by Mr Gore and went with him shooting, from which party we did not return till night when we saw a large number of Canoes in the river behind the tents, of which we had this account. Last night an Indian was clever enough to steal a Coal rake out of the fort without being perceivd. In the Morning it was missing and Captn Cooke being resolvd to recover it, as also to discourage such atempts for the future, went out with a party of men and seizd 25 of their large sailing Canoes which were just come in from Tethuroa, a neighbouring Island, with a supply of fish for the inhabitants of this. The Coal rake was upon this soon brought back but Captn Cooke thought he had now in his hands an opportunity of recovering all the things which had been stolen: he therefore proclaimd to every one that till all the things which had been stolen from us were brought back the boats should not stir, a list of these was immediately drawn up and read several times to the Indians, who readily promisd that every thing should be brought back. Great application was made to me in my return that some of these might be releasd. I did not till I got to the fort understand the reason of their being detaind, and when I did nothing apeard so plain as that no one of them should on any account be let go from favour, but the whole kept till the things were [returnd] if ever they were, which I much doubted as the Canoes pretty certainly did not belong to the people who had stolen the things. I confess had I taken a step so violent I would have seizd either the persons of the people who had stolen from us, most of whoom we either knew or shrewdly suspected, or their goods at least instead of those of people who are intirely unconcernd in the affair and have not probably interest enough with their superiors (to whoom all valuable things are carried) to procure the restoration demanded.
Posted by Arborfield at 14:35