The Maori King Movement in New Zealand
Professed Principles of Action
Professed Principles of Action.
The King party has adopted three mottos—“Te Whakapono, Te Aroha, Te Ture,” Christianity, Love, and Law, are the principles that professedly form the basis of the new Kingdom. Potatau page 23 makes constant reference to the three. He repeats them on all occasions, and especially when reference is made to any action that has been taken by his people. “Heoiano taku, ko te whakapono, &c.,” is his general reply: I have nothing, or mean nothing, or wish nothing, but Religion, Love, and Law. What they mean is that they do not intend to abandon Christianity and return to former customs. In proof of this, one of the first public acts of Potatau, done in connection with the runanga soon after the movement took its rise, was the issue of an order for the building of several places of worship. Two have been built; one at Mangere, a good scoria building, another of wood at Pukaki, and others are in progress. That they have no intention of renouncing Christianity may be further seen by reference to the speeches delivered at the late meeting. Take Thompson's, for example, (delivered at a preliminary meeting). He met the arguments of the party advocating a further expedition to Taranaki, by objections drawn from Scripture examples. “Let me see that it is right first,” he said, “for I read of Naboth's vineyard that was unrighteously seized by Jezebel, and God avenged the wrong. I read of many of the Kings of Israel who met with judgment and death by engaging in unrighteous wars. Therefore I say search out the truth. Don't make haste, lest you fall into error. I do not pronounce on the conduct of the Governor at present, for I am not informed. The Queen is a minister of God, and a minister of God is not supposed to do wrong. If there be wrong it is done by the ‘Kaihapai,’ (the parties entrusted with the administration,) not by the Sovereign. I also remember Paul's word, ‘Be subject to the powers that be, for the powers that be are ordained of God.’ I do not say enquire, that we may find that the Governor is right, in order that I may join him, nor am I indolent or unwilling to go to war if necessary, but I hesitate till I see; I have heard, but have not seen.” Now there is nothing like a renunciation of Christianity in a speech like the above, and there can be no doubt but many of the leading men are influenced by similar regard for the truths of the Bible. This is our hope, and no opportunity should be lost of holding them to those truths by which they profess to be guided, and which alone can enlighten and direct the conscience.
Love, is presented as their second motto, which they wish to be understood as implying love to both races. The principal meaning, however, appears to be Union among the native tribes, what Matini Te Whiwhi called—whakakotahitanga. Former wars had separated tribe from tribe, and caused them to look on each other as enemies: so that each man's hand was against every man and every man's page 24 hand against him, and no man could venture outside the territory of his tribe without danger of being slain as utu for some old feud. This state of things rendered union of the tribes for any common object, or any united action against a common enemy, not only difficult but impossible. If any great movement were to be made to protect their interests as a race against the “kiri ma”—the white skin—as they term the Europeans, then these obstacles must be removed, old feuds must be settled, old enemities buried, and all parties reconciled. To accomplish these ends, peace-makers were sent out to visit contending tribes and heal existing differences. Meetings were held and feasts given for the same purposes. No small success has followed these efforts: many an old wound has been healed, and many a reconcilation has been effected. Now the party congratulates itself on the altered and improved state of society in reference to the love or union that has obtained amongst them, and in order to perpetuate it, proposes that there shall be no no more native war, but that all disputes arising among themselves shall be settled by law.
Law, is the third motto. Their former plan was to punish transgressors by the application of club law. Might ruled, and where power existed to take summary vengeance for any real or supposed insult or wrong, it was taken without hesitation and without enquiry. Now there is to be no “muru,” i.e. no plundering to obtain utu for insult or wrong, and no fighting;—all disputes and all offences are to be settled by appeal to law. Tamati Ngapora was the exponent of this principle at the late meeting. (See his speech, p. 45.)
These mottoes were cleverly selected, well adapted to attract general attention, and draw the native mind to the movement. It is not insinuated that they were adopted from wrong motives, but no words could have been chosen as mottoes better fitted to render the movement popular among all parties. The first recommends it to the zealous advocates of Christianity. Any objections they might feel at first sight on Christian grounds are at once forestalled by the assurance, that one essential element in the constitution of the new kingdom is Christianity. The second appeals to the best feelings of our nature, and not less to the powerful principle of self-interest. Each man is to love his neighbour, so as to aid in the defence of both his person and property against all aggression. The third commends the movement to the party who were demanding more efficient government.
The question arises, how far are these principles being worked out? Is not the very first step in the movement inconsistent with page 25 Christianity? Docs it not involve a breach of the covenant that has been made between Her Majesty the Queen and the Native Chiefs of this country? These questions have been proposed to the king party, and their reply is, first, that Potatau never signed the treaty, nor did the principal chiefs who form his Council,—that, in fact, only a few of the chiefs residing near the Waikato Heads signed the document, and that those who did sign it, signed it when they were children and did not understand its meaning. This may be quite true, but it is also certain that though Potatau did not sign the Treaty of Waitangi, yet in writing to the Queen on the death of Governor Hobson, and requesting Her Majesty to send another Governor for both Pakehas and Maories, he acknowledged the Queen's supremacy, as he has also done in receiving a yearly pension from the Civil List. And in applying for the appointment of Native Assessors, accepting them when appointed, and otherwise appealing to English law, the Waikato tribes have conceded and virtually acknowledged the sovereignty of the Queen. So that though the natives may not acknowledge the fact, and not be able with the present amount of light to see the inconsistency of their position, there can be no doubt that their present movement is clearly inconsistent with the principles and duties of Christianity. As regards the application of their second and third mottoes, it would be difficult for the most earnest advocate to make out a clear case for them. That the great body of the Waikato natives are firm on the side of love and law for all of both races there can be no doubt. Yet the extreme party would carry out these principles with a partial hand. Love and law for the Maori, but not much of either for the Pakcha. Hence the remarks of Whetini, who maintained that the Governor had cut the cord of love and severed the bond of union. Hence, also, the lame attempts by one or two individuals to justify the murder of our defenceless countrymen and helpless boys at Taranaki.—(See the speeches of Whetini, p. 44 and 45.)
But these views did not meet with general sympathy, and the apologists themselves felt and acknowledged that by Christian law such acts as those committed at Taranaki were murder (see Tumuhia's speech, p. 50), and only attempted to justify them by reference to native custom,—a plea which was effectually exposed by the irony of Samuel Ngaropi.—See his speech, p. 51.)
Potatau, referring to the inconsistency of the parties who had plundered the stores at Kawhia and gone to Taranaki, said: “They proposed three principles, now they have added a fourth and a fifth:” shewing that the principal men are in favor of abiding by page 26 their principles, though some others may be reckless and disposed to disregard them.
The question is frequently asked,—Can these professions be relied upon? Is there nothing underneath? Do we see and hear all that is intended? Has there not been some whispering of secret plots to attack simultaneously the European settlements and sweep away the pakehas? Was the note of alarm that sounded from the mission station at Waipa a false alarm? No; the intelligence that was conveyed to the Rev. A. Reid of revolutionary proposals made at native meetings held at Kihikihi and Rangiaohia was true. The leaders of the party who subsequently plundered the stores for arms and went to Taranaki to join W. King, having received a letter from him asking aid, and advising them “to look toward Auckland,” talked loudly at those meetings about a general insurrection; and if they had met with sympathy in Waikato, the probability is that they would have attempted to carry out their proposals. The men who, without provocation or cause of any kind, could go to Taranaki to aid King in his unrighteous proceedings are capable of the still greater aggression had opportunity favoured it. And their speeches delivered at Ngaruawahia when they conducted the Taranaki natives to present their allegiance to the Maori King, furnished evidence of their capabilities for evil. But the Waikato chiefs would hear of no violence—not even of an expedition to Taranaki—so that the party was left in a small minority, and went to Taranaki without the sanction of Potatau and, indeed, in direct opposition to his command. May not the forewarnings that came from Waipa be regarded as providential? Prior to the receipt of that information, no preparation had been in progress to ward off any sudden danger.
That some of the ultra kingites may have contemplated extreme measures against the pakehas is not improbable; various things have transpired in the progress of events calculated to lead to this conclusion: but this party is very small. Its ultra measures meet with no support from the great body of the Waikato tribes. The speeches of the principal chiefs may be referred to in proof of this. Nor can there be any doubt about the sincerity of those speeches. The Waikatos as a body are evidently auxious to be in a position to defend themselves against aggression, but they are not disposed to become the aggressors nor to involve themselves in a general war.