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Music New Zealand, "Come All Ye Tonguers"

Come All Ye Tonguers

This song, "Come All Ye Tonguers" is of shore whaling in New Zealand in the mid-19th century. The word "tonguer" had different meaning up and down the coast. One meaning referred to men who collected stray floating whales or the intestines of whales already cut up and melted them down to produce an inferior grade of oil, which they sold to the whales. In other places, it referred to men who acted as interpreters, rowing out to whaleships with native Maoris, offering to tow in whales and cut them up. The pay for this job was the carcass and tongue of the whale. To hear a clip of "Come all Ye Tonguers", click on the "play music" button above.

Come all ye tonguers and land-loving lubbers
Here's a job cutting in and boiling down blubbers,
A job for the young, the old, the ailing,
The agents would take any man for shore whaling.
I am paid in soap and sugar and rum
For cutting in whales and boiling down tongue.
The agent's fee makes my blood so to boil,
I'll push 'em in a hot tub of oil.

"Come All Ye Tonguers" sung by Jill King and Bob Webb on 'Sea Music of Many Lands: the Pacific Heritage,' recorded at the National Maritime Museum, San Francisco - Festival of the Sea 1980. Folkways Records FSS 38405, 1981. Provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (FWS 37405_202). Used by Permission.

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