Forbidden Love

Louis John Steele’s ‘The Blowing Up of the Boyd’ (1889)

This is the true love story of a British sailor and a Maori Chief’s beautiful daughter.

About 240 years ago a Maori chief in the north of New Zealand was greeting some early European explorers with a hostile welcome, often having them and their crews slaughtered and cannibalized.

Just as Captain Cook had encountered elsewhere, the natives were inclined to help themselves to items from the ships, which was not usually tolerated by the ships’ captains. A response which would usually seal their fate.

So it was with a French explorer, Marion du Fresne. And with a Captain Thompson on the ‘Boyd’.

The place was the far north of the north island of New Zealand.

This was a country to the east of Australia, inhabited by a Polynesian race known as the Maori, which had hardly seen a white man.

Then in 1806 Lieutenant James Simmons on the brig HMS ‘Lady Nelson’, after some friendly exchanges, faced a similar dilemma and tactfully withdrew.

Hence the scene was set for the fearsome Maori Chief Ti-Pahi to pay a friendly visit to the Governor of New South Wales, as Australia was known then.

Which is how one of Simmons’ crew, George Bruce, fell in love with the Chief’s daughter, married her and stayed behind in New Zealand. 

Bruce had been appointed to attend the Chief when, on his return to New Zealand on the ‘Lady Nelson’, he became sea sick.

As a gesture of his gratitude, the Chief invited him to remain in New Zealand as his guest.

During which time he apparently fell in love – with Ti-Pahi’s daughter.

Eventually they were married, I suppose in the Maori tradition.

But tragedy was to follow.

An interfering captain of a visiting British vessel disapproved of the marriage and forced them both on board his ship. He then set sail with the two lovers on board not knowing their fate.

On arriving in Malacca (now part of Malaysia) the two were separated. Bruce was left there while his Maori wife was taken on to Penang (also in Malaysia).

This tragic story does have a happy ending.

Apparently the Commanding Officer of Malacca heard to their plight and arranged for them to be reunited in Bengal (then in India).

Sadly, it’s these heartwarming human stories that never find their way into the history books.

This is one example of the fascinating true stories from ‘Back to the Wall: A Fun Spiritual Adventure’ which deserves to be told.


Best wishes


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