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Incidents of The Maori War

Chapter III

page 54

Chapter III.

First Settlement of the Province of Taranaki—Its Deficiencies —settlers' and Natives' Land mixed—Native troubles and quarrels—The Chiefs Ihaia and Wiremu Kingi—The Treaty of Waitangi.—The Maori King movement—Condensed statement of the Bishop of New Zealand's views—Mr. F. A. Carrington's account of the Taranaki Question—The New Zealand Company—Governor Fitzroy—The Tact of Governor Grey—Governor Gore Browne's purchase of the Land at the Mouth of the Waitara—Objected to by Wiremu Kingi—His Excellency goes to Taranaki—investigation of the causes of the war—New Plymouth—Its defenceless state.

The province of Taranaki,* of which the capital is called New Plymouth, was first settled in 1841, under the auspices of the

* Taranaki mountain, or Mount Egmont, was first climbed by a man named Ruatara, and was called after him Ruataranaki. After a time, the 'Rua' was dropped, and it remained as Taranaki.

page 55New Zealand Company. The site of this province under the shadow of the noble Mount Egmont, raising its snowy summit 8,000 feet above the sea level, is on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, and though, famed for its fertility, has no harbours, and is lashed by the waves of the Pacific, which almost always roll noisily on its rocky and sandy shore. It is true, by running out piers, and deepening the bar, a harbour for small vessels might be contrived at the mouth of the Waitara* river, and a pier or jetty might be made at the Hua Toki river at New Plymouth. Yet the open roadstead at present mars the progress of the town and of the province generally. Its advancement hereafter will depend on the re-establishment of peace and good land communications with Auckland and Wanganuit and the fertile valley of the Waikato.§
During the first" two years of its existence as

* Waitara, 'wai,' water; 'tara,' animation. Lively stream.

'Huatoki,' fruit fetching river.

'Whangai,' fed, ' nui,' large.

§ 'Wai,' water, ' kato,' flowing.

page 56a European settlement, Taranaki received from the south-west coast of England about a thousand settlers. Its white population in 1859 was nearly 3000 souls, so that its increase was slow. It comprises 2,200,000 acres. Along the coast for 115 miles, is a belt of fine arable land of say 300,000 acres, inland are noble forests and broken country. The natives comprised a branch of the Ngatiawas, the Taranakis, and Ngatiruanuis, and their lands were mixed up with those of the Europeans in (as it appeared to me) dangerous proximity.

I saw fortified pahs dotted here and there, for the natives to maintain themselves against each other in their quarrels about land, women, &c. Some white men would not scruple to supply powder to contending parties, this roused naturally great jealousy and ill-will. I should have preferred to have seen the settlers and Maories entirely apart, with well defined limits, and the Maories gradually improving under good teachers, and seeing examples of British energy and enterprise page 57near them; but hills, rivers, and forests dividing them, not mere, fences.

In the beginning of 1860 the. Ngatiawas were reckoned to amount to 1229 souls,* the Taranakis to 451, and the Ngatiruanuis to 1335. The natives of Taranaki were formerly conquered by the Waikato, and the remnant flying south took refuge for sometime about Cook's Straits, &c.; but after the settlement was begun by Europeans, the natives returned to re-occupy their ancestral possessions. Among other feuds, a serious one took place in the Taranaki in 1854. The chief Rawiri, who was also an assessor or magistrate under the Government, attempted to sell a piece of land which was claimed by one of his relatives, on Rawiri proceeding to mark out the land for sale to the British, he was shot down and also some of his adherents, by the minor chief Katatore and his followers.

Rawiri's people were dissuaded from taking vengeance on Katatore, by the persuasion of a Wesleyan missionary, who told them to expect

* In the province of Taranaki only; there is a larger tribe of Ngatiawa on the east coast also.

page 58assistance from the Government. In the meantime Katatore fortified himself in a strong pah; a change of governors taking place at this time—Sir George Grey having left the Colony, Colonel Wynyard, acting governor till Governor Gore Brown arrived—active measures were postponed in the case of Katatore, and the wild passions of the natives boiled over.

Three months after the murder of Rawiri, some of the relatives of the chief Ihaia slew a Ngatiruanui who had corrupted Ihaia's wife, The Ngatiruanuis then invaded Ihaia's land with 300 warriors. Ihaia's pah was stormed and taken, and himself with numerous followers saved by a diversion of the adherents of Rawiri in his favour. The brother of Rawiri, Arana Karaka, now appeared on the scene from the south, and assembled at the Nima pah all the natives who were favourable to the sale of land; whilst Katatore was joined by Wirimu Kingi of the Ngatiawas, and the Ngatiruanuis who desired to retain their land.

Matters were in this dangerous state when the settlers asked for and obtained a garrison page 59in New Plymouth; a battle after this took place between the Ngatiruanuis and the Nima natives and Ihaia, resulting in the defeat of the former. Ihaia, for the assistance he had rendered the Nima people, obtained the land at Ikamoana, but this Katatore disputed; the Nima people joined with Ihaia in the conspiracy to destroy Katatore, which was effected by shooting him as he returned intoxicated from the town; but now the Nima people treacherously attempted to destroy also their associate Ihaia, probably to get back Ikamoana. He maintained himself there for some time, but retiring to the Karaka pah at the Waitara, he was besieged there by the Nima people, by the adherents of Katatore, and by Wiremu Kingi of the Ngatiawas, and by some of the Taranaki and Ngatiruanui tribes, his opponents were about eight hundred whilst he had only about one hundred men in the pah with him; his situation became desperate whilst skirmishing took place between the contending parties.

In June the Waitara district was abandoned by Ihaia, Wiremu Kingi being left in possession page 60of it. The retreat did not take place till this clever stratagem was attempted. Ihaia openly professed his intention of abandoning the Karaka pah, and at an early hour on the 8th of June, men, women and children appeared to leave it in the usual way, with lamentations and volleys of musketry; Kingi's people were in high spirits, but still suspicious. The land purchase commissioner appeared on the ground, and he was requested to see that all was right; he observed a dog or two moving contentedly about the pah, this made him look still closer, and he found that the Wanga, Manganu, and the Mokau contingents still held the pah, concealed under ground, with lookers out on the platforms above the stockade, Ihaia was posted outside to fall on the flank and rear of Wiremu Kingi's people; however, the plot having been discovered, the women and children returned to the pah which held out some time longer, and was finally abandoned to and burnt by Wiremu Kingi.

Ihaia has always maintained friendly relations with the Europeans, and assisted in their locations in the Taranaki, not so Wiremu page 61Kingi, who boasted he had insulted successive Governors, and was an avowed enemy to land purchases. He is one of three brothers, children of the Ngatiawa chief Rereta Whonga Whonga, and his wife Te Kehu. Taken captive at one time by the Waikatos, he afterwards lived in the south at Waikana, he left that in 1848 with five hundred followers, settled in the Taranaki on the south bank of the Waitara, though Sir George Grey wished him to settle on the north side. He is a man of great craft and subtlety, has always lived a purely native life, and in his bearing has a theatrical air as that of a great chief.

Of the Treaty of Waitangi made by Governor Hobson with some of the Maories in 1840, its purport was that those New Zealand chiefs who signed it, in placing themselves, under the protection of the Queen, agreed to yield the right of pre-emption of their lands the. Government, that is, those who chose to part with their land must first sell it to the Government, which would again part with it to settlers; the chiefs were secured in the possession of their lands, forests and fisheries, page 62and their authority was fully asssured [sic] to them.

The Maori King movement was first begun professedly to establish peace and order among the tribes so frequently tearing each other to pieces in war, the pride of in dependant sovereignty also influenced the Maori King movement. In connection with this, runangas or councils were held in 1860 in various parts of the island, these have not been reported on, but it was understood they related to the land league, or throwing difficulties in the way of the settlers getting land. This was a startling fact for them, that their lands were bought for six pence an acre, and sold again to settlers for ten shillings; they did not take into account that the land had to be surveyed and duly portioned off.

Te Whero Whero or Potatau, the principal chief or king, with the assistance of his chiefs drew up a code of laws for the guidance of the Maories generally. Heavy penalties were enacted for the punishment of adultery, theft, and other misdemeanours. Natives were forbidden to obtain goods on credit from Euro-page 63peans, and all natives were commanded immediately to pay any debts contracted with the Pakehas.

When we consider that the Maories now desired not to part with land to us except through the medium of a recognized agent of their own, is just carrying out our own principle of the Government having the pre-emption of the land, the first choice of purchase, and not private individuals.

Their first idea of a king was doubtless with a view to good government among themselves if possible, without antagonistic feelings towards the Pakehas; and it is possible that with management this functionary might have been converted into a kawakawhama, or chief magistrate under Queen Victoria, salaried, and he and his counsellors treated with the respect and consideration due to the original lords of the soil, and the representatives of a brave, greatly improved, and intelligent people.

The Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of New Zealand, admirably adapted for his mission by mental and bodily powers of the first order, page 64gave a condensed statement of his views with regard to the Maories in these terms.

1.He is quite ready to continue to advise his native friends to sell their surplus lands on the most reasonable terms, or even to give them to the Government for nothing; but this advice will be of no avail until the question is entirely devoid of party feeling, and (as far as regards Taranaki) disconnected altogether from such irritating subjects as the murder of Rawiri.
2.He desires to see each native land owner secured by a crown grant in his own individual property, and registered as a voter on the same qualifications as an Englishman.
3.When the native land owners are thus registered, and represented with full recognition of equal rights and privileges, he will not be backward in explaining to them that they are liable to all taxes, penalties, or other public burdens, in common with all other classes of Her Majesty's subjects.
4.But, on the other hand, he will resist by all lawful means every attempt to carry out any other interpretation of the treaty of Waitangi than that in which it was explained page 65to the natives by Governor Hobson, and understood and accepted by them.
5.He holds it to be an act unworthy of any Englishmen to avail themselves of any native custom, either of conquest or of slavery to disfranchise any class of native proprietors, especially where experience has proved that where party questions are raised, the native title can be extinguished, and all classes of claimants satisfied for a few half-pence an acre.
6.Believing that he is better able than most other persons to judge of the unprotected position of the out-lying settlers in the scattered and especially in the pastoral districts of New Zealand, he will feel it to be his duty to remind the inhabitants of the towns, even at the loss of his own influence and popularity with them, that the principles which he advocates and the line of conduct which he pursues, are not influenced by any ill-will towards them or even by an indifference to their interests; but by a wide and he must say, a general knowledge of New Zealand, and of all classes of its inhabitants, and by the con-page 66viction that the lives and property of our fellow settlers, scattered as they now are over at least 15,000 square miles of broken country, can only be preserved by the greatest forbearance and the strictest justice in our dealings with the native people.

Mr. Frederick A. Carrington, formerly of the War Office, and who came out to New Zealand when the settlement of the Taranaki was first contemplated, I became acquainted with—his account of the Taranaki question is as follows:

He was chief surveyor to the Plymouth Company of New Zealand and of the New Zealand Company for the settlement of New Plymouth. In December 1840, and January and February 1841, he examined different places on both sides of Cook's Straits and other districts for the purpose of choosing a site for the said settlement, and in February 1841 he finally determined on placing it in its now well known locality.

To judge of the Waitara and Taranaki question fairly, it is required to be informed that when the site for the Plymouth settlement page 67was selected the district was lying totally waste, there were not more than fifty or sixty natives throughout the whole of the country, which now forms the province of Taranaki. This province is 60,000 acres larger than the four English counties, Kent, Surrey, Middlesex and Hertford. These few natives, Ngatiawas, were existing close to the Sugar Loaf Islands, they were indifferently clad, had neither gardens nor plantations and subsisted on fern root and fish; their life was a constant scene of alarm, (the general case for years in New Zealand formerly) through the dread of an implacable foe, and if the country had not been settled by Europeans, the insurgent Ngatiawas could not have returned to it.

When these Ngatiawas understood the object Mr. Carrington had in view in visiting the country, they asked him to bring white people to dwell among them, as a protection against the dreaded Waikatos, who in 1832 under the chief Te Where, or King Potatau, had conquered, slaughtered and dispersed or carried away captive nearly the page 68whole of the inhabitants of this part of the country.

The refined tortures and cannibal scenes of these days could not fail to induce this remnant at the Sugar Loaf Islands to desire European protection.

About October 1834, Colonel William Wakefield, the chief agent of the New Zealand Company, purchased from certain chiefs and natives (who, driven from the Taranaki, were living in Queen Charlotte's Sound) all their possessions, rights, and claims in the Waitara and Taranaki land generally.

In November 1839, agents of the New Zealand Company landed at the Sugar Loaves to treat with the people about land, and had conveyed to them by purchase a continuous block of land along the coast, and which block contained the whole of the Waitara and Taranaki land. The brig "Guide" brought the payment, and it was shared by all the resident natives.

I may mention here that the Waitara block, the disputed square mile the origin of the late war, is believed by some of the Mao-page 69ries to be one of the sacred spots where one of the canoes which brought their ancestors to the island came to land, and is or ought to be tapued and not parted with on any consideration.

Mr. Carrington first thought of placing the town of New Plymouth at the Waitara, but on further examination of the offing, the anchorage and mouth of the river, he determined on placing the town where it now stands.

Unfortunately, the presents promised the "remnant" at the Taranaki for the land were lost in the "Jewess" in Cook's Straits.

A few months after the arrival of the pioneer expedition at the Taranaki, Te Whero Whero sent a leading chief and 200 followers to the Taranaki; they danced their war dance and said they were the owners of the country by conquest, and the people who must be paid, if the white people remained. The other natives saw and heard the statement, and cowed and subdued sat silent at the conference. Soon after this, and the Governor being informed of what had occurred, a deed was executed by the Waikatas conveying to the Queen the page 70land they claimed, and which included the whole of the Waitara and Taranaki country.

Mr. Commissioner Spain now arrived at the Taranaki to investigate claims, and awarded to the New Zealand Company the, Waitara land and where New Plymouth now is. But, afterwards, Governor Fitzroy, through some advice he had got, repudiated Mr. Spain's award and directed the land be given back to the Taranaki natives that he might repurchase it from them, and which was considered a fatal mistake. If Mr. Spam's award had not been set aside, the claim of the Waikato chief or King Te Where Whero would never been heard. After the Sugar Loaf Maories were aware that the Waikatos were paid for the land, they talked about their "manna" or authority over the land, and joined the land league to prevent a further sale of land by the Ngatiawas.

In 1857 the settlement was depressed, and the natives degraded by internal feuds. It was at the Taranaki that Governor Grey was insulted by Kotatore, who flourished his tomahawk over him, the Governor with great tact page 71asked to see the tomahawk, said he wanted to add it to his collection and paid a sovereign for it, thus passing over an intended insult.

Governor Gore Browne in a despatch to the Colonial Secretary in March 1859, states that the settlers are dissatisfied with the Government and ill-pleased with the Maories, who though they possess large tracts of land which they cannot occupy, refuse to sell any portion of it. Teira of the Ngatiawas offers his land for sale at the mouth of the Waitara, south-side, and laid a Parawai or bordered mat at the Governor's feet, emblematical of the land, for his Excellency to take up. The chief Wirimu Kingi of the same tribe, objects to this, says he never will allow it to be sold, exclaiming "ekore, ekore, ekore," (I will not, I will not, I will not), and leaves a conference with a shew of disrespect to the Governor. Again his Excellency writes that the title of Teira and the other proprietors at the mouth of the Waitara having since then been proved and extinguished, and a large instalment of the purchase money having been paid (£1 per acre was to be paid for the 600 acre page 72block and a bouus [sic] £250 besides) his Excellency directed the land to be surveyed in the usual manner. There were rumours that W. Kingi would resist this, accordingly the assistant native land purchase-commissioner, Mr. Parris, was directed to have the land surveyed peaceably, and if opposed to retire, and Colonel Murray, commanding the troops, was to cause it to be occupied.

William King continuing his opposition, and the surveyors being obstructed, Martial Law was proclaimed on the 22nd February, and his Excellency determined to go himself to Taranaki.

Mr. Swainson, formerly Attorney-General for New Zealand and Author of "New Zealand and its Colonization" &c, a gentleman of excellent ability and great intelligence, in a recent publication on the cause of the war, holds these opinions, that the natives of New Zealand, like ourselves, appreciate the advantages of law and order, and prefer self-government to that of strangers; in forming a land league they did not intend disloyalty to the Crown, but it was for self-protection, page 73also the King movement was with the same object, to unite them as a people and prevent divisions among themselves and consequent ruin and decay.

We ought to recollect that our people have acquired from the natives in twenty years, more land than they can at present use, this refers to 1862. In the Middle island, all of it by purchase is the property of the Crown, the seven millions in the North Island were chiefly acquired at the very moderate rate which was previously stated. In 1856 or 57 Governor Gore Browne wrote home, alluding to grasping settlers, not honest and upright ones, of whom there is a large proportion; "they (some of the settlers) are determined to enter in and possess the native land and neither law nor equity will prevent them."

The native owners have already peaceably alienated half their territory, on the most reasonable terms, and it has been attributed to them by some individuals as a public offence that they do not alienate the other half.

We should always be ready to attribute good motives for our neighbour's actions, even page 74though appearances be much against him, thus when Wirimu Tarapipipi (William Thompson) came down the Waikato in canoes in 1860 with several hundred warriors and disturbed the peace of unprotected Auckland, there is no doubt now that his object was to restrain the natives excited by the supposed murder of a Maori in the forest by the hand of a white man, and there can be no question that his mission to the Waikato in 1861 was to recal the Waikatos, and to assist to make peace. He is a remarkable instance of native intelligence and progress, as is Renata of Hawk's Bay, who built churches and flour mills and established schools.

It has been recommended that in dealing with the Maories in future, after their boundaries are clearly defined, to let bona fide settlers purchase land direct from those natives who are willing to sell their superfluous acres and get a crown grant of it, and not to acquire the land through the Government as is the present system, but purchasing through the Government is less likely to be attended with disputes eventually.

page 75

Before the Taranaki troubles, thirty millions of acres, more than half the area of the two islands, had been acquired from the natives, and the Colony was steadily advancing in prosperity; and if renting the mouth of the Waitara for £100 or £200 a year had been proposed and agreed to, the expensive war of 1860-61 need not have taken place. I am not aware that renting any part of the Waitara was proposed. It is not to be wondered at that the settlers located in Taranaki, and having no secure harbour at New Plymouth, or easy access by roads to it, desired much to possess the Waitara mouth which admits small steamers and schooners.

"Every member of a tribe" said a native, "is free to sell his own bushel of potatoes, wheat or Indian corn, raised on the portion of the tribal land he cultivated; but he cannot sell the land itself, the inheritance of his ancestors."

No more can a villager in England sell part of the common on which the cows of the comm unity graze.

In the history of the Taranaki, Reré the page 76father of Wiremu Kingi being absent on an expedition to the south in 1832, Te Whero Whero of the Waikatos, taking advantage of his absence, as was said, attacked and smote with fatal effect the Ngatiawas at Prukerangeora. After Wiremu Kingi's return to the ancestral lands of his tribe, he and his people had in 1856 no less than 150 horses, 300 head of cattle, 40 carts, 35 ploughs, 20 pairs of harrows, 3 winnowing machines, and exported £8000 worth of produce, and spent their gains on British goods.

It is not surprising then that they did not approve of a portion of the land, assumed to belong to Te Teira, should be parted with and from which the above profits were reaped.

The natives cast up to us that when they were senselessly warring against each other, we did not interfere to prevent bloodshed, but when the Waitara was desired, we took up arms to acquire it. The administration, believing that tribal rights could be, set aside, and the desire of an individual to dispose of land, without reference to the tribe, should be recognized and acted on.

page 77

The Council of Taranaki had petitioned the Government to let individuals of tribes sell land, without waiting for the consent of all the tribe. The Maories maintained the right of the minority among them to oppose the sale of land held in common. In 1859, the Taranaki settlers had not cultivated more than 13,000 acres out of 43,000 acres in their possession there. In 1860 the administration professed the intention to set aside the chief, and to deal with individuals irrespective of tribal rights. Thus the District Land Commissioner was authorised to give a bonus of £250 to Te Teira, to induce him to part with 600 acres at the Waitara mouth, besides paying him £1 per acre. The usual price of Taranaki land was three shillings per acre.

As I said before, Te Teira laid a Parawai or bordered mat at the feet of the Governor, being the form of ceding the land. Yet other natives maintained that "our land belongs to all, and to the widows and orphans, and how can they live without it?" For lucre, Te Teira (or Taylor), whose native name is Manuka, or "tea scrub," parted with the land of his page 78ancestors. The Governor thought himself committed to effect the purchase, and was backed by his council and by a majority of the assembly.

A party of women of the Ngatiawas, supported by men in reserve in the distance, resisted the surveyors of the 600 acre-block, and took up the chains, and one embraced the chief surveyor whilst another removed the theodolite, peaceably but firmly. Before 1858, arms and ammunition were not allowed to be sold to the Maories, in that year the Governor allowed their sale, and subsequently the Maories profited by this, and bought largely, and the possession of arms naturally inspired confidence, and a desire to maintain what they considered their rights.

Three hundred native allies were found. They burnt "Wiremu Kingi's pah, and a church he had in it, and drove his people off the land. Those who advised the Governor to resort to force, occasioned to the settlers of the Taranaki great disasters. It was unfortunate also, that hostilities began before a sufficient force was assembled. Three hun-page 79dred men and two guns may be said to have begun the war; and a period of apparent inactivity occurred, as General Gold was directed to avoid engaging Wiremu Kingi unless he attacked the troops. Withal this, Governor Gore Browne, anxious for the prosperity and advancement of the Taranaki settlers, acted to the best of his judgment, and was supported by the members of his responsible government.

The Taranaki War has cost nearly a million sterling; we hope and believe that no more fighting will. will take place in Maori land; if it does, and British armsare successful, it would be a triumph unworthy of a great nation. " Land is the ewe lamb of the New Zealanders, why then should the white man too greedily desire it?" "Live and let live" should be our motto, the maxim of a philanthropic and christian people.

New Plymouth, the basis of operations, consisted of a few streets at right angles to each other, commanded by a stockaded work on Marsland Hill; whilst ravines were about the town, and the forest approached to it on page 80the east; in front was the sea, behind was the snowy summit of Mount Egmont. The town was open and defenceless, and liable to be rushed at any moment.

New Plymouth might become of considerable importance if the abundant materials for forming a jetty, namely great store of boulders of volcanic rocks near the mouth of the Huatoki River (which runs through the town), were used; and if good roads to communicate with Auckland and Wanganui were opened, it would prosper. Until all that is done, and attention paid to sanitary arrangements, and the streets cleared and ornamented with trees, it will not present the appearance that the chief town of a British settlement should present; and situated, too, in a land highly picturesque, and favoured by an excellent climate, and a soil of rare productiveness.