The Maori King Movement in New Zealand
The question naturally arises, What have been the results of this movement up to the present stage of its progress? The extreme King party would reply, “It has effected much good; it has extinguished animosities, united the tribes, put an end to the sale of land; and, in stopping land sales, it has done away with the great cause of all our uneasiness, and indeed of our wars; it has also substituted law for muru (a system of plundering offending parties). Look now on the peace and unity that exist among us—at the prospect we have of securing our land for our children, and you see the good results of our “Kingitanga” (Kingdom).”
The moderate party, mainly composed of the Lower Waikato, would reply to the question, as Ruihana did at the great meeting, when he held out his hand with the palm turned upwards, saying, “There is good to-day; but to-morrow it is reversed” (turning his hand.—See his speech p. 43). This he did several times to intimate that the good is mixed, and constantly alternates with evil. He allowed there is some good, but referred to the store plundering at Kawhia and Rangiaohia, and to the war party that had started for Taranaki, as proofs that evil is present also.
The party that opposes the movement altogether, look upon it as a great evil, and likely to be a source of trouble to the country.—(See the speeches of W. Naylor, p. 48, and of Paul, Orakei, p. 51). Katipa of Waiuku ironically bid them erect the flag-staff, saying, “It will be a grave for you.” “Te rua tena o Potaka.” “It is treachery (kohuru) towards my brother,” said W. Naylor to Broughton.
Viewed from our stand point, the evils that are arising out of this movement are many and serious. It has diverted the attention of the Natives from useful and profitable pursuits. Instead of cultivating the land, they have been spending their time in attending runangas, in public meetings for purposes of agitation, and in endless talking almost day and night: so that agriculture has been neglected, mills have fallen into disuse for want of wheat to grind, or into dilapidation from neglect; women and children are starved and half naked, for want of proper food and clothing.page 63
The movement has also called into public life many of the young men, who have long watched the declining power of the Chiefs with uneasiness, and only wanted an opportunity to bring them out in defence of their order, and in a determined effort to restore its power if possible. This class of Maori society has brought into the movement considerable intelligence and energy, and an acquaintance with European customs, derived from mixing a good deal with European society, that render it a very important element in carrying out the project. The young chiefs are generally selected for office, employed as secretaries, magistrates, and leaders in public runangas. They are also employed as agitators, and often make long tours for agitating purposes, carrying about the country with great pomp and show the flag of the Maori Kingdom. But it was casier to call out those restless spirits, than to control them when they had obtained a position of importance. Some of them have taken the liberty to commit serious outrages; they have gone into the Mission Schools and forcibly taken away half-caste girls; they have demanded tribute from European squatters and settlers, and used violence where it was refused; they have plundered European stores to obtain arms; and a party of them has gone to aid W. King at Taranaki. It is but just to say, that Potatau and his principal chiefs repudiate these acts, and condemn them in no measured terms; but then they have no power to prevent such outrages. The scheme furnishes such spirits with a plea and with opportunities for these aggressions on the rights of others: but where is its “mana,” its authority, or its power, to restrains the violent, to protect the oppressed, to enforce law, to punish transgression? Potatau has declared such conduct to be treachery towards himself. “They intend to get me into trouble,” he said; “to make me like Te Rauparaha (Rauparaha was arrested and kept as an hostage during the Wanganui war). They came and dragged me away from Mangere, and brought me here to be King, with three things to guide me, and now they have added a fourth and a fifth, and what next. Let me return whence I came. If I were young and strong as once, they should not do such things with impunity; but a bundle of bones just held together with a cord, what can I do? I am like Ouenuku (a Maori god). Ouenuku sat under a tree that shaded him from the sun and gave him fruit to eat. He was happy beneath the shade, and enjoyed the fruits, till Tama-te-Kapua envied him and destroyed his resting-place. Tama page 64 came not in open daylight, but came on stilts, ate the fruit, and destroyed the tree. Ouenuku was ignorant of what was going on, for the thief was on stilts, and nothing but wood was visible, till by and bye his food and shelter both were gone. I am Ouenuku!” Such were his remarks when a Missionary pointed out to him the troubles that had arisen out of the present movement, and told him that such things were done in his name, and that the responsibility fall upon himself.
The movement could not fail to disturb, and in fact was calculated to destroy, the amicable feelings that previously existed between the races. If not destroyed, those feelings are at least sadly diminished. Confidence is shaken. Maories receive the statements of the pakeha with apparent distrust; the pakeha looks with equal jealousy on those of the Maori. Mutual suspicious are excited. Natives are watching the movements of the white man, and wondering what is intended by all the military drill and practice that is going on; while the white man is watching the movements of the Maori, apprehensive of a coming struggle. Though the great body of the Waikatos are loud in their professions of friendship towards the Europeans, and boldly assert their determination still to cultivate that friendship,—nor is there any reason to doubt their sincerity—yet, it cannot be denied that a great amount of disaffection towards the Government, and of ill feeling towards Europeans generally, exists among the King party. The ultra men let out this feeling occasionally during the demonstrations at the late meetings (see the speech of Paetai, p. 32). He was replying to Tomo, who had opposed the proposition to take arms against the Government, by quoting the scripture, “How many times shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” to which Paetai replied, “How many? I will count them,—Rangihaeata, Hone Heke, Wanganui, Tauranga, Auckland, Te Rangitake. How many? If these wrongs had been committed against us by Maories, we should have sought satisfaction long ago.”
The same feeling was displayed in some of the canoes as they approached Ngaruawahia, the man directing the paddlers and beating time for them would improvise for his canoe song, “Naku te aha? Naku te aha? Na Kawana i kori kori mai ki au.”—What have I done? What have I done? It is Governor that has arisen against me. Another in directing the movements of “te tungarahu” the war-dance, shouted, “Kua kopa aku huha i te noho roa, na Kawana i korikori page 65 mai, Tena tukua kia ngawari.”—My thighs had grown stiff with sitting still so long, now that Governor has given us cause to move, let us exercise them.—These things indicated an undercurrent of ill-feeling in the native mind, as did expressions such as these, “the pakeha wants our land,” “he wants to make us all slaves,” &c. The causes of this revulsion of feeling it may not be necessary to investigate at present, but it is much to be regretted. It must for a time materially affect the interests of the Natives, the comfort of their white neighbours who are most wishful to befriend them, and the general prosperity of the Colony.
The effects of this political excitement upon the moral and social advancement of the native race, are such as to awaken the most serious apprehensions in the minds of their best friends. It must be obvious to those who have frequent intercourse with them, that the New Testament is not the constant companion it used to be, that meetings for mutual religious improvement are neglected for the runanga and politics. It must be acknowledged, however, that Waikato can present the most flourishing Native Schools that exist in the country, and has contributed the largest share of pupils to the central schools. There are not only large and interesting schools at Kohanga, Taupiri, Otawhao, and Waipa, under the superintendence of the resident Missionaries, but also numerous primary schools conducted by Native teachers at the Native villages. Perhaps there is more educating agency at work in the Waikato district at the present time, than has existed at any former period. It is hoped these agencies will not only be continued but multiplied. Their fruits will be reaped in due time. Meanwhile the thoughts and energies of the present generation are being diverted from “the things that belong to their peace.” Those large gatherings for political purposes are demoralizing in their tendency. The excitement, the discussions, the war-dance, the haka (song), the indiscriminate camping—all tend to demoralization. The principles of the land league have greatly interfered, in some places, with the religious and educational institutions that were growing up amongst them. It has entirely broken up the Wesleyan Mission among the Ngatiruanui. In 1843 a Wesleyan Missionary was located at Waimate, whose labours were to be devoted to the Ngatiruanui tribe. He settled there as a squatter, without having first obtained land for a Mission Station, on what the Natives call the “noho noa iho” system. After eight years the page 66 locality was found unsuitable, and it became necessary to remove the station. The Society had found by experience that the noho noa iho system neither contributed to the comfort nor usefulness of the Missionary, and resolved that no new station should be formed, unless the Natives would either give or sell a suitable site for the purpose. This they refused to do, and the Mission was suspended for a time. In 1851 another effort was made, and the Society offered to expend a sum of money in erecting buildings for a Training Institution for their youth, on condition they would either give or sell land for the purpose. Tamati Hone of Katatauru offered land to the amount of 70 or 80 acres, but when a person was sent to survey it, he was not permitted to do so. Tamati recalled his promise, and said that neither for Church, School, or any other purpose, would they give up to Europeans any portion of their land. The society then had no alternative but to leave the locality, and seek a field of labour elsewhere. At Kawhia, land that had been reserved for school purposes, and conveyed to the Queen, to be granted to the Wesleyan Mission Society in trust for education, has been resumed, and at Otawhao, Church Mission Station, attempts are being made to take back 700 acres that were given for similar purposes. These are some of the results of the land league and King Movement.
Thus, though “Christianity” is the principal motto, yet the advancement of the Natives in true godliness is likely to be very materially retarded by the present state of things. They are in danger of assuming to be teachers when they should only be disciples, in fact, in danger of a species of fanaticism in interpreting the Word of God to make it support their own vagaries. Those who have taken up arms and are engaged in actual warfare are not likely to return to their homes (if spared) at all improved in religious and moral feeling. The Northern tribes who were engaged in Heki's war have never recovered from the demoralizing effects of those campaigns.
Christian men will find in these remarks, suggestions bearing on christian duty. Are we not reminded of the influence of prayer? God who rules the hearts of all men, can send a power from heaven that will over-rule these events, and direct those now misguided people into the way of truth. Let the Christian Church not be wanting in her duty in this respect. Prayer has averted many a threatened danger. Prayer has converted many a curse into a blessing, and from seeming evil educed a certain good. Let prayer arise from every Christian's page 67 closet, and every domestic altar, and every Christian assembly, and God will hear, for “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”