Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

Expedition Up The Hutt

Expedition Up The Hutt.

Next morning Wakefield and a small party went up the Heretaunga, or Hutt River, as it was afterwards called, in a Maori canoe with Maori guides. At that time there was a native population of over 800 souls at Port Nicholson, and the Hutt Valley as well as the sides of the hills that surround the harbour were clothed in heavy bush. At the mouth of the river the party found the only white man then living in Port Nicholson, Joe Robinson, no doubt an old whaler, who had married a Maori woman.

Wakefield made a close inspection of the land as he was paddled up the river, and saw from the nature of the soil and the results of the Maori cultivations that it was very fertile. Well satisfied, Wakefield decided to buy, and the natives expressed themselves anxious for the white people to settle among them.

the Tory was anchored about a mile off the mouth of the river, and the day after this jaunt happening to be a Sunday, September 22nd, Divine service was celebrated, and was attended by some parties of Maoris, who came off in their canoes in spite of a gale from the north-west. One of the canoes upset on coming alongside, but the men and women in it treated the accident as a joke, and were soon on board, where they were given blankets, and warmed themselves at the galley fire.

We are reminded here of the notorious scamp Te Rauparaha, who afterwards gave the pakeha much trouble, when we read that on the Sunday evening the Tory's people, noticing much excitement among the Maoris, learned that word had just come in from Waikanae that a party of Ngati-Raukawa had arrived there, and it was feared that they would join up with Te Rauparaha and attack the people at Petone. Those were troublous page 12 times for the Maori, for when Wakefield some weeks later travelled up the coast his three surgeons "went to Waikanae, where they found plenty of work. The Ngatiawa people had fifty injured in yesterday's engagement, and their opponents carried off as many on their side."

But to return to Port Nicholson. On the 23rd of September Wakefield, his nephew, Barrett, and others of the Tory's party went ashore and visited all the Maori settlements to get in touch with the people as to the sale of the land. At Ngauranga they found the chief Wharepouri and his tribe hard at work building a sixty-foot canoe. Just then a couple of passing canoes full of people put in, and it turned out that they were off to the settlement at the mouth of the Hutt River to talk about the proposed sale. These people came ashore at Ngauranga, and then began the first negotiations that eventually ended in the Maoris selling out to the pakehas. There was a vast amount of talk on the Maori side, and the weight of opinion was in favour of selling, but a stout patriot named Puakawa was strongly opposed to the people parting with their birthright, and to the end he continued to oppose the transaction—until even his patriotism melted at the sight of the trade goods displayed on the deck of the big ship, and he took his share, which is perhaps what most of us would have done if our temptation had been as great. Just imagine the effect of the bewildering show of guns, clothes, axes, and other riches! It must have been as entrancing for poor Puakawa as the sight of the diamonds and rubies was to Aladdin in the Robbers' Cave.

But we are going ahead too quickly. After a long korero, interrupted at noon by a feast provided by the vendors, the negotiations were broken off, to be resumed next day at Petone. After more talk, it was pretty clear that there was a majority in favour of the sale, and to hurry up matters Wakefield suggested that the chiefs should go aboard the Tory and have a look at the goods it was proposed to give for the land. That, of course, was the end of any scruples they may have had about parting with anything they possessed in the way of earth for miles around. On Wednesday, September 25th, about one hundred natives crowded on to the Tory, and, in fact, the event was rather too popular—something like a modern bargain sale, for the goods could not be properly displayed on the deck. Wharepouri, who was apparently the paramount chief, finally ordered everybody off. Next day a smaller and more select party of chiefs and their sons went aboard and made a very strict examination of the goods, which met with their approval.

It was a strange assortment, and the chiefs were rather in a fog as to how to apportion them to the six minor tribes who were concerned in the land. Wakefield advised them to lay the stuff out in lots on the deck, and this idea was adopted. Stout-hearted Puakawa made his last rhetorical effort at this stage, and this brought about a renewal of the talk between the Maoris, and once more Wakefield had to see his brown clients depart with the sale still in the air.

Next day, however, the 27th, saw the Maoris come up to the scratch, but not before Wakefield had to add to the heap another case of muskets, making a total of 120 of these weapons, which no doubt did excellent execution subsequently. Wharepouri carried out most impartially the apportioning of the multifarious collection of goods, from guns to Jew's harps, sealing-wax and nightcaps, only keeping for himself some powder and cartridges.

page 13

It was then that Puakawa succumbed, and when the heterogeneous stuff was loaded into the ship's boats and taken ashore Puakawa had his share of the spoil.

Before the "utu" (payment) was removed the various chiefs signed or made their mark on the deed of purchase, which was properly drawn up and duly executed, on the deck of the Tory. This particular deed, which was the first of several that were obtained by Wakefield for his Company, referred only to the district and harbour of Port Nicholson, but subsequently both north and south he made other purchases—not by the acre, but by the mile.

Next day was stormy, but on the Sunday Wakefield, in company with Wharepouri, paid a round of visits to the late landlords, and found them well satisfied with what they had received. At the invitation of Wakefield the Maoris gathered in force at Petone the following day, September 30th, and witnessed an interesting ceremony. In the afternoon Wakefield and his party came ashore, and were received by a crowd of about three hundred Maoris, the men being armed with muskets and tomahawks. This mob was divided into two parties, one led by Wharepouri and the other by a chief named Te Kaeaea, who lived at Kaiwharawhara, or Kaiwarra as we call it to-day, with our total disregard of the musical Maori syllables.