Memorandum by the Hon. Donald McLean, C.M.G., Native Minister.
The Native Minister begs to submit, for His Excellency's information, a memorandum respecting the late visit to Kawhia and interviews with the Natives of that place, including Tu Tawhiao, the eldest of the King's sons. The chief interest connected with this event arises from the fact that the port of Kawhia had been closed to shipping for the last twelve or thirteen years; Europeans had been strictly prohibited from visiting the place by land; and the Natives, all of whom were of the Hauhau faith, were particularly sensitive of any infringement of the laws of isolation which they had for many years so rigorously maintained.
On the morning of the 31st ultimo, His Excellency, accompanied by the Hon. Mr. Vogel, Colonial Treasurer, and by the Native Minister, left Manukau Harbour for Wellington, encountering a heavy gale, which rendered it necessary to seek shelter at Albatross Point. The following morning, as the gale continued, the Harbour of Kawhia was entered, and notice sent to the chiefs that His Excellency had been compelled by stress of weather to run into their port. The Natives readily accepted this explanation, and the deck of the "Luna" was soon crowded with visitors from different parts of the harbour. Several of the Natives who came on board were personally acquainted with the Native Minister, and expressed much satisfaction at seeing him after the lapse of so many years. Past incidents and events were freely discussed; but most of the speakers frankly intimated that no other vessel but the "Luna" would be permitted to anchor in Kawhia, the only harbour in the North Island not open to shipping, and where no vessel had been seen since the visit of Sir George Grey in Her Majesty's ship "Eclipse," in the year 1865.
During the forenoon a small canoe was seen paddling towards the "Luna" from the opposite or north arm of the harbour, bringing the notoriously turbulent chief Tapihana, who took a conspicuous part in the Taranaki war, and afterwards in planning and effecting the escape from Kawau (Sir George Grey's island) of himself and other prisoners who had been captured by General Cameron at Rangiriri during the Waikato war. After some slight hesitation, Tapihana stepped on board, and addressed a long speech to the Native Minister and the chief WiTako, a member of the Legislative Council, who formed one of His Excellency's party. The Native Minister replied to Tapihana, after which Wi Tako made a most effective speech, pointing out the advantages of peace and friendly intercourse with the page 113Europeans. As the discussion progressed, Tapihana's tone, from being somewhat defiant, became very friendly and temperate, and he requested that the "Luna" should visit his side of the harbour, where the Native Minister had, through messengers, been arranging an interview with Tu Tawhiao, who resides there, and who sent a special invitation to the Native Minister. On landing, Mr. McLean and Wi Tako were first welcomed by Honi Wetere, and as they approached the entrance to the King's residence were met in a frank and cordial manner by Tu Tawhiao, the eldest son of the King, a fine young man of about nineteen years of age. An interesting and friendly conversation took place, frequent references being made by the chiefs to Tu Tawhiao's grandfather, Potatau, the first King, and to his friendship with Mr. McLean.
When the meeting was over, Tu Tawhiao accepted an invitation to come on board the "Luna," and was accompanied by a few of his chiefs, all of whom were introduced to His Excellency, who spoke in friendly and assuring terms to the young chief and his companions. Tu Tawhiao at first displayed considerable emotion, no doubt feeling that by this act he had broken down the barriers of isolation which had so long separated the Europeans from his people. After luncheon with His Excellency, Tu Tawhiao and his friends visited all parts of the "Luna," and seemed much interested and full of inquiry as to the working of the engines and other particulars new to them about the vessel.
It is quite evident, from the interest displayed by the Natives, that the accidental Visit of the "Luna" has been productive of results the importance of which it would at present be difficult to estimate.
Tu Tawhiao was most anxious that the departure of the vessel should be delayed until his father could be communicated with. Finding that it was impossible to comply with his request, the Native Minister promised to return shortly to Kawhia to meet the King and his adherents. As the "Luna" left, three English cheers were given by the Natives from the shore, which were responded to from the vessel.
A recent telegram from Waikato states that the Natives generally are gratified at what has taken place, and are very desirous to attend the proposed meeting, which, it is expected, will pave the way for effecting more permanent friendly relations with the King party, who now form the only section of the New Zealand tribes that have preserved their ancient manners and customs, and independence of European progress and civilization.
The Native Minister begs to be permitted to congratulate His Excellency on this remarkable and auspicious event occurring at the commencement of his administration.