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The New Zealand Reader

The Treaty Of Waitangi. — [From the Maori point of view.]

The Treaty Of Waitangi.
[From the Maori point of view.]

Many years ago, Hongi Hika, the great warrior chief of New Zealand, was dying. His relations, friends, and tribe were collected around him, and he then spoke to them in these words:—

"Children and friends, pay attention to my last words. After I am gone, be kind to the missionaries; be kind also to the other Europeans; welcome them to the shore, trade with them, protect them, and live with them as one people. But if ever there should land on this shore a people who wear red garments, who do no work, who neither buy nor sell, and who always have arms in their hands, then be aware that these are a people called soldiers, a dangerous people whose only occupation is war. When you see them, make war against them. Then, oh, my children, be brave! Then, O friends, be strong! Be brave, that you may not be enslaved, and that your country may not become the possession of strangers."

And having said these words, he died. After this, years passed away, and the pakeha increased in numbers and were spread over the whole country, and traded with the page 141Maori and lived with them. And the Maori were pleased with them, for they got from them plenty of gunpowder, and tomahawks, and blankets, and all the wealth of the pakeha became theirs. And there was no fighting between them, but all lived together as friends.

More years passed away, and then came a chief of the pakeha who, we heard, was called a Governor. We were very glad of his arrival, because we heard he was a great chief; and we thought that he, being a great chief, would have more blankets, and tobacco, and muskets than any of the other pakeha people, and that he would often give us plenty of these things for nothing. The reason we thought so was because all the other pakeha often made us presents of things of great value, besides what we got from them by trading. Who would not have thought as we did?

The next thing we heard was that the Governor was travelling all over the country with a large piece of paper, asking all the chiefs to write their names or make marks on it. We heard, also, that the Ngapuhi chiefs who had made marks or written on that paper had been given tobacco, and flour, and sugar, and many other things for having done so.

We all tried to find out the reason why the Governor was so anxious to get us to make these marks. Some of us thought the Governor wanted to bewitch all the chiefs; but our pakeha friends laughed at this, and told us that the people of Europe did not know how to bewitch people. Some told us one thing, some another. Some said the Governor only wanted our consent to remain, to be a chief over the pakeha people; others said he wanted to be chief over both pakeha and Maori. We did not know what to think, but were all anxious that he might come to us soon for we were afraid that all his blankets, and tobacco, and other things would be gone before ho came to our part of the country, and that he would have nothing left to pay us for making our marks on his paper.

Well, it was not long before the Governor came; and with him came other pakeha chiefs, and also people who could speak Maori; so we all gathered together—chiefs and slaves, women and children—and went to meet him. And when we met the Governor, the speaker of Maori told us that if we put our names, or even made any sort of mark page 142on that paper the Governor would then protect us, and prevent us from being robbed of our cultivated land, and our timber land, and everything else which belonged to us. Some of the people were very much alarmed when they heard this, for they thought that, perhaps, a great war expedition was coming against us from some distant country to destroy us all. Others said he was only trying to frighten us.

The speaker of Maori then went on to tell us certain things, but the meaning of what he said was so closely concealed that we have never found it out. One thing we understood well, however, for he told us plainly that if we wrote on the Governor's paper one of the consequences would be that great numbers of pakeha would come to this country to trade with us; that we should have abundance of valuable goods, and that before long there would be great towns as large as Kororareka in every harbour in the whole island. We were very glad to hear this, for we never could up to this time get half enough muskets, or gunpowder, or blankets, or tobacco, or axes, or anything. We also believed what the speaker of Maori told us, because we saw that our old pakeha friends who came with us to see the Governor believed it.

After the speaker of Maori had ceased, then Te Taonui and some other chiefs came forward and wrote on the Governor's paper; and Te Taonui went up to the Governor and took the Governor's hand in his and licked it! We did not much like this: we all thought it so undignified. We were very much surprised that such a chief as Te Taonui should do so; but Te Taonui is a man who knows a great deal, about the customs of the pakeha: he has been to Port Jackson in a ship. Seeing our surprise, he told us that when the great pakeha chiefs go to see the King or Queen of England they do the same; so we saw then that it was a straight proceeding.

But after Te Taonui and other chiefs had made marks and written on the Governor's paper the Governor did not give them anything. We did not like this; so some other chiefs went forward, and said to the Governor, "Pay us first, and we will write afterwards." A chief from Omanaia said, "Put money in my left hand, and I will write my name with my right," and so he held out his hand to the page 143Governor for the money; but the Governor shook his head, and seemed displeased, and said he would not pay them for writing on the paper.

Now, when all the people saw this they were very much vexed, and began to say one to another, "It is wasting our labour coming here to see this Governor"; and the chiefs began to get up and make speeches.

One said, "Come here, Governor; go back to England!"

Another said, "I am Governor in my own country; there shall be no other."

Papahia said, "Remain here, and be Governor of this Island, and I will go to England and be King of England, and if the people of England accept me for their king it will be quite just: otherwise you do not remain here."

Then many other chiefs began to speak, and there was a great noise and confusion, and the people began to go away; and the paper was lying there, but there was no one to write on it. The Governor looked vexed, and his face was very red.

At this time some pakehas went amongst the crowd and said to them, "You are foolish; the Governor intends to pay you when all the writing is done, but it is not proper that he should promise to do so—it would be said you only wrote your name for pay; this, according to our ideas, would be a very wrong thing."

"When we heard this we all began to write as fast as we could, for we were all very hungry with listening and talking so long, and we wanted to go to get something to eat, and we were also in a hurry to see what the Governor was going to give us. And all the slaves wanted to write their names so that the Governor might think they were chiefs, and pay them; but the chiefs would not let them, for they wanted all the payment for themselves.

I and all my family made our marks, and we then went to get something to eat; but we found our food not half done, for the women and slaves who should have looked after the cooking were all mad about the Governor. When I saw that the food was not sufficiently done, I was aware that something bad would come of this business.

Next morning the things came with which the Governor intended to pay us for writing our names; but there was not page 144much tobacco, and only a few blankets; and when they were divided some of the chiefs had nothing, others got only a few figs of tobacco, some one blanket, others two, I got for myself and all my sons and my two brothers and my three wives only two blankets. I thought it was too little, and was going to return them, but my brother persuaded me to keep them.

So we got into our canoe to go home; and on the way home we began to say, "Who shall have the blankets?" And so we began to quarrel about them. One of my brothers then said, "Let us cut them in pieces, and give every one a piece." I saw there was going to be a dispute about them, and said, "Let us send them back."

So we went ashore at the house of a pakeha, and got a pen and some paper. And my son, who could write, wrote a letter for us all to the Governor, telling him to take back the blankets, and to cut our names out of the paper. Then my two brothers and my sons went back and found the Governor in a boat about to go away. He Would not take back the blankets, but he took the letter. I do not know to this day whether he took our names out of the paper. It is, however, no matter; what is there in a few black marks? Who cares anything about them?

Well, after this the Governor died. He was bewitched, as I have heard, by a tohunga at the South, where he had gone to get names to his paper—for this was his chief delight, to get plenty of names and marks on his paper. He may not have been bewitched as I have heard, but he certainly died, and the paper with all the names was either buried with him, or else his relations may have kept it to lament over, and as a remembrance of him: I don't know. You, who are a pakeha, know best what became of it, but, if it has gone to England, it will not be right to let it be kept in any place where food is cooked, or where there are pots or kettles, because there are so many chiefs' names in it—it is a very sacred piece of paper. It is very good if it has been buried with the Governor.

F. E. Maning

("Heke's "War … told by an Old Chief").