Reminiscences of The War in New Zealand
Chapter XXVII. — Titokowaru's Outbreak. — Yeae of The Lamb. Colonel McDonnell and Sixty Armed Constabulary Sent To Hokitika
Yeae of The Lamb. Colonel McDonnell and Sixty Armed Constabulary Sent To Hokitika.
In May, 1867, the military settlers of the Patea district were disbanded and placed on their land, but, as a precautionary measure, two companies of volunteer militia were enrolled for three months to supply their place. Early in June, Titokowaru and his men made their first visit to the camp at Waiki, and announced in the figurative language of the Maori that this was the year of the lamb, in other words, a year of peace. What the ensuing year was to be they did not state.
Shortly after, Whare Matangi, chief of the Paka Kohi, visited Patea, and he also said it was a year of the lamb, indeed the fact was so often mentioned that at last the Pakehas began to believe that a permanent peace had been established. But these delightful anticipations did not last long. The Paka Kohi wanted peace and the confiscated lands at the same time, and they finally stopped the survey of the Whenua Kura block. Here was a casu belli; but Colonel McDonnell was equal to the occasion He knew that the slightest sign of weakness or indecision at this moment would involve the settlers in another war; so he quickly and silently gathered his insufficient forces at Patea, and marched one night on the village of Oika, disposed his men round it, and then rode to the largest whare, accompanied only by two troopers. The noise and rattle of the steel scabbards alarmed the inhabitants, who called out that they were surprised by the Pakeha. Their excitement, however, subsided when they saw McDonnell and his small following, and they all crowded page 162into the whare to hear what had brought him among them. The colonel did not keep them waiting, but demanded why they had stopped the survey. "The land is ours," they replied, "the mana of the Pakakohi is over it all, and no surveyor shall drag a chain across it." McDonnell then drew their attention to the facts that when they surrendered and swore allegiance, they were distinctly told that the land was gone, but that sufficient to support the tribe would be returned to them. He spoke forcibly and firmly, telling them that to stop the survey would again lead to bloodshed; that the responsibility rested with them, and that he would not leave until they had decided whether it was to be peace or war. Driven thus into a corner, they began to bounce, but finally promised to abstain from further interference with the survey, and to leave their claims to the generosity of the Government.
Strange but true, the Hauhaus trust to the generosity of the Government, whereas the friendly Maories do not. As an example of the former case, I may mention that there is a Hauhau living at Patea, who lost a leg when fighting against us at Kakaramea; after being cured of his wounds, seven in number, his trust was so great that he applied through the Civil Commissioner for a pension, and was painfully surprised when that officer declined to entertain the idea, and suggested that he might think himself lucky that he was not shot. To this day our friend thinks himself badly treated.
McDonnell, having received the promise of non-inter-ference, replied, "It is well; I am content;" then turning to one of the troopers, said, "Tell Captain Newland to bring his men into the village." Shortly after the sound of many feet descending the hill could be heard. The tribe looked at one another in dismay. "It is only my men," said the colonel. For some moments there was a dead silence; then one man drew a long breath and said, page 163"It is lucky we agreed to what McDonnell required." "What would you have done had we refused?" said another. "Taken you all prisoners and disarmed you," said McDonnell, "and if you had resisted, shot you." This prompt action raised Colonel McDonnell immensely in the estimation of these Hauhaus, and no further trouble was experienced in survey matters from that tribe. About this period another tribe (Ngatitupaea), who had hitherto held aloof from the Pakeha, signified their willingness to accept the olive-branch, and visited Waihi with about seventy fighting men. Thus the Maori horizon was gradually clearing, and the only source of disquietude (and that only to those versed in Maori customs) were the continued meetings of Titokowaru's tribe at Te Ngutu o te manu and other places. Friendly Maories and Pakehas were invited to these meetings, but after listening for hours to the speakers, no one seemed to know what the meeting had been held for. There were, however, several among the well-informed who were firmly convinced that Titokowaru intended to fight, and that these meetings were held for the purpose of obtaining the consent of other tribes to a general rising. Colonel McDonnell himself was inclined to accept this view of the case, but the Civil Commissioner derided the idea; which of them was right will be seen in the sequel. Katene, our Hauhau guide, was firmly convinced that his compatriots intended mischief, and warned the colonel that in any future wars the Hauhaus did not intend to fight in pahs, which they simply regarded as traps to be caught in, but would make the most of their knowledge of the country, surprising small parties, and only meet the Pakehas for big fights in the bush, carefully avoiding the open country. He also warned us to be specially careful of the small redoubts, and see that they were well fortified; "For mark me," said he, "they intend to surprise and storm one of them." The truth of these warnings was soon to be ex-page 164perienced, for at Te Ngutu o te manu they left their strong pah and fought us skirmishing in the bush; the very first affair attempted by the Hauhaus was an attack upon an escort, and then came the daring night surprise of Turu Turu Mokai, where so many of our best men died at their post.
On one occasion Katene made an observation to an officer of the force at Gudgeon which he never forgot, so full of meaning was it, and so illustrative of the Maori mind. "Do you trust me?" he asked. "I do," replied the officer. Katene sat and looked in the fire for some moments, then laid his hand on his friend's knee, and said, "You are right and you are wrong; you are right to trust me now, for I mean you well, but never trust a Maori. Some day I may remember that I have lost my land, and that the power and influence of my tribe has departed, and that you are the cause; at that moment I shall be your enemy; do not forget what I say." It was about this period that Colonel McDonnell was ordered to proceed to Hokitika, with sixty of the armed constabulary to suppress a Fenian outbreak. This was an agreeable change from the monotony of camp life. The expedition landed safely through the historical surf of Hokitika and found to their astonishment that outwardly, at any rate, the most perfect peace and harmony prevailed. No doubt there had been a good deal of bad feeling and rioting caused by the conduct of some foolish individuals on both sides; but that had subsided, and a more orderly population could not be found. The kindness shown to the force will not be easily forgotten by the recipients; in fact it was too good to last.