New Zealand Revisited
Chapter VIII — Wiremu Tamihana
The first place visited in the Waikato district was Waharoa, where what is left of the Ngatihaua tribe now has its headquarters. It is on almost the same site as Matamata, which had been the principal seat of the tribe in the days before the war. My old friend, Wiremu Tamihana, chief of the Ngatihaua, died soon after the war. His eldest son, Hota, whom I knew as a boy at Mr. Ashwell's school, died a few years ago; and his second son, Taingakawa, who said that he remembered me visiting his father at Matamata when he was a child, was now the chief. The tribe had sent a very pressing invitation to me to visit them, which I gladly accepted. It is a short railway journey from Rotorua to the Waharoa railway station, and about two miles from there to the settlement by road.
The natives gave us a most hearty reception in the real old Maori style. We were met about two hundred yards from the village by a drum and fife band of Maori lads dressed out with red scarfs: they were led by an aged warrior chief, Panapa-te-Pea, that is "Barnabas the Bear." Panapa was dressed only in a scarlet waist cloth: he danced backwards before us, making the most hideous grimaces, putting out his tongue further than you would think a human page 116tongue could go, and shouting a Maori welcome. He beckoned us on, with much waving of his whalebone club, and with profound bows, to approach the place where Taingakawa and the men, women and children were gathered to receive us. They danced a "poi" dance, which is quieter and more artistic than the "haka" with which we were received at the Christchurch pah, and elsewhere. They sang ancient songs, likening us to a canoe arriving from a distant land.
After dancing, the speeches began. Taingakawa, who bore a very remarkable likeness to his great father, both in features and voice, referred to his father and other noted chiefs of the Ngatihaua who had been my friends in early days, but were now all gone; and he said my reappearance amongst them was like that of a spirit returned from the other world. They also presented a beautiful mat of "kiwi" feathers, which had been specially made for the occasion as a "token of love." The chief introduced me to three daughters of his elder brother and predecessor, Hota, the former schoolboy at Mr. Ashwell's. I spoke to the assembled tribes of my former friends and their great chief, and of the energetic though unsuccessful efforts he had made to avert war and create the good feeling between the two races, now so firmly established, but which he had not lived to see. We had luncheon given us in the great Runanga house at which page 117Taingakawa alone sat down to table with us. After luncheon, more speeches were made and more songs were sung. Some of these dated back to the time of the Maori War, and mentioned me and my work as an emissary of Sir George Grey by name. One old chief began to chant a Waikato war-song, sung everywhere in the native assemblies at the time of the war. The whole people instantly took up the song and sang with intense feeling and force:—
Quivers and shakes the solid land,
Our homes are slipping away:
Where shall man find an abiding place?
O Ruimako! God of the lower depths
Retain our land and hold it fast.
Be firm! Be firm!
Nor let it from our grasp be torn!
Taingakawa spoke, with a logical clearness which reminded me of his great father, of land grievances of the present day, which some of their Pakeha friends were advising them to lay, by means of a deputation to England, before the King and Privy Council. I strongly advised them to rely rather on the New Zealand Ministers and the Assembly, in which they had representatives. Our Government at home was neither competent nor disposed to deal with the intricacies of Maori land law: the Colonial Government could manage matters with greater enlightenment and justice. I reminded them of a fruitless visit paid to London in 1884 by Matutaera, the old Maori king, and his leading chiefs. We left page 118Waharoa amidst the waving of shawls, the music of the drum and fife band, and cries of "Haere ra! Haere ra!"
During the armed truce which preceded the Maori War, the natives were under the leadership of two remarkable men, who promoted rival policies. Tamihana, chief of the Ngatihaua, who laboured for peace, and Rewi Maniapoto, who contrived war. The history of the Maories in my short day was the gradual failure of Tamihana's efforts for peace, and the success of Rewi's policy to provoke war.
Tamihana went in old days by the name of the "King-maker," because he was the chief who more than any other had contributed to the establishment of the "Maori King" some years before the Taranaki war. The choice of the natives had fallen upon Potatau, an aged chief who was revered not only in Waikato but throughout New Zealand as one of the most renowned warriors of a former generation. He was gentle and benevolent in his old age: he said when offered the kingship, "I am a snail: what can a snail do?" His last words to his people were: "Hold fast to love, to law, and to the faith," and from his deathbed he sent a message to his friend Sir William Martin, the former Chief Justice of New Zealand: "Be kind to the niggers."
I first met Tamihana in the year of my arrival in New Zealand, when a small local war was in progress at Taranaki, about the right of a certain page 119chief named Wi Kingi to prevent the sale of a particular piece of land to the Crown, but there was peace in Waikato itself. Rewi and his tribe had gone to help Wi Kingi in fighting, and so had a part of the Ngatihaua tribe in defiance of Tamihana's opposition. It was said that he had parted in anger with Wetini, his near relative, who led the party, and said to him, "Go and stop there." Wetini was killed in the first engagement in which he took part.
I first met Tamihana at Mr. Ashwell's mission station at Taupiri. Mr. Ashwell had invited me up the country with the view of taking me to visit Tamihana at Matamata to see a native school which he had established there. It was the first of many journeys from Auckland to the Waikato. It began with a jolt for twenty miles, in a vehicle called a van, from Auckland to Drury; the road was full of holes, so that the effect of the four hours' carriage exercise was very similar to that of a flogging. From Drury you had to cross twelve miles of forest to the Waikato river: Mr. Ashwell had three horses and two Maories with tents and blankets; my wife and his daughter rode two of the horses, and he and I rode the remaining one in turn. Soon after entering the forest the rain began to come down in torrents, so that we were compelled to take refuge, wet to the skin, in the house of a settler by the roadside.
On the next day we continued our journey and came down to the river about 2 o'clock in page 120the afternoon: there we found Mrs. Ashwell encamped on a patch of grass amidst the gorgeous forest on the river bank with a lot of native boys and a canoe. We set off at once up the river, creeping along close by the bank under overhanging trees and bushes to avoid the strong current. The most striking objects were the kohai trees covered with yellow blossoms like laburnums, and generally full of large black parson birds which suck the flowers. At night we stopped at a Maori village and pitched our tents in the church, at least in the building which served indifferently for church and public assemblies. We were very cold and wet, and it was raining in torrents, but a fire and hot tea revived us and we went to bed. The people at the village were old and ragged, and belonged to the sinking class of Maories. The chief had an odd ornament by way of ear-ring, a common padlock. The river swarmed with little fish, undistinguishable in appearance from Greenwich whitebait, and though the Maories were not up to frying them in batter, they afforded even plainly boiled a delicious food. My wife lost a diamond ring in the house where we slept; the native boys made a minute search but could not find it. The chief wrote afterwards to say that it had been found and it was returned. No reward had been promised, and the Maories would not accept any. This honesty on the part of a people greatly irritated against Europeans, and possibly on the eve of war, seemed to me at page 121the time most worthy of regard, especially when the chief had no better ornament for his own ear than a padlock.
On the following day the ladies went on in the canoe and Mr. Ashwell and I proceeded on horseback. The ride was over undulating fern hills overlooking a vast plain through which the Waikato flowed, the distant view being bounded by densely wooded mountains; we descended to an old pah on the river bank to dine. The only occupant of the pah produced a rotten board to make a seat on the grass, off which he knocked a number of wood-lice and large black beetles that made my flesh creep all through dinner-time. After dinner we had to cross a flax-swamp; the river had overflowed its banks, so that the long stiff flax leaves grew out of the water; our horses went in above the shoulder in many places, and as the river was rising we were not sorry to come to the end of the swamp and find ourselves in the flourishing village of Paetai, where we were to meet the canoe and rest for the night. There was a fine large raupo building at Paetai, which was once a court-house where British law had been administered, but was then deserted. There was also a small native school conducted by a Maori woman; there were about a dozen girls all under ten years of age, all could read Maori perfectly, and knew a little arithmetic and English, though the pronunciation of the latter was eccentric. This school was supported entirely by the page 122natives, only assisted by an occasional visit from Mr. Ashwell, and not helped or countenanced in any way whatever by the Government. The canoe arrived soon after dark; we got a jolly fire lit on the floor of the court-house and lots of dry fern for beds, and spent a most luxurious night.
Next morning the canoe set off at a very early hour, and left us to continue our ride along the river bank. We saw another school, this one of boys, kept on the same principle as the other, but the boys showed a decided superiority in point of intelligence. There were at that time many such schools in the Waikato district, all self-supporting or nearly so; the natives allotted a few acres of land, on which the labour of the teacher and scholars sufficed to raise enough grain and potatoes for their food. Beyond the school we had a long ride through water up to the horse's belly, as the river had overflowed its banks for many miles. Just below Taupiri we were hailed by a canoe descending the river, which proved to contain two great Waikato chiefs. Mr. Ashwell went down to the river bank to talk to them, and we all squatted down on a patch of grass, the two great men being both without breeches. They were on their way to inquire about the murder of a Maori which had taken place at Waiuku on the Manukau harbour: they shook hands and smiled most pleasantly, but stated very firmly that if the murderer turned out to be a Pakeha, as was page 123alleged, Waikato would declare war, as they had no confidence whatever in the Governor, but they assured us it would be a fair fight and no harm would be done to any Europeans on the river. Two years before these men had been Native Assessors, actively engaged under Mr. Fenton in the administration of British law, and only became adherents of the King on the withdrawal of the courts.
Our visit to Taupiri was a very short one. We were troubled with rumours of war from the moment we arrived. It was said that the Waikato natives were resolved to declare war against the Europeans, unless the murderer at Waiuku, whom they assumed to be a European, should be given up to them for justice. Mr. Ashwell's house, where I was staying, was situated on the banks of Waikato, about six miles below Ngaruawahia, the Maori capital. A war party came down from the upper country, headed by Tamihana: they halted at Ngaruawahia and induced the Maori king to go with them down the river to inquire into the alleged murder; a chief who came over to see Mr. Ashwell told him that it was now a certainty that a European had committed the murder, and they were determined to have the man surrendered into their hands for trial, that the Governor had called the King's movement child's play, and they were determined to prove that it was earnest. All this was said in the most quiet and deliberate page 124manner. Mr. Ashwell wrote to Tamihana to say that I had come up the Waikato to visit Matamata, where it was reported Tamihana had established excellent Maori schools, but in consequence of the "Raruraru" which is the expressive Maori name for a disturbance, I should go back to Auckland. Tamihana answered the letter immediately, and begged that I would not think of returning. He would send a chief with me, to take care of me, and I should be in no danger.
Next day at the early hour of 6.30 a.m. the war party paid the missionary a morning call. I got out of bed to see them. About two dozen of the leading men, wild-looking and tattooed, were some in the house, and some on the verandah. Tamihana, who never was tattooed, was among them, and was profuse in his professions of friendship. He said Mr. Ashwell's house was sacred under any circumstances, and that no one would dare to meddle with him, or any of his belongings, and he begged that I would go on to visit Matamata. I went down to the river to see the war party, which filled three large canoes. They were on their way to the village of Paetai, about fifteen miles down the river, where a great meeting was to be held. Tamihana declared he was most anxious to keep the peace, but that the greater part of his followers wished to insist on the surrender of the murderer.
After this visit Mr. Ashwell advised me to return to Auckland for the present, and to visit page 125Matamata later, when there was less risk of war. On the way down the river we stopped at Paetai, where we had rested a few days before on our way from Auckland. It was then a quiet, peaceful little village, but a complete change had come over the scene. The shore was lined with large canoes, the beach was crowded with bathers, Maories were hurrying to and fro with guns and tomahawks. Women prepared food in great ovens sunk in the ground, and there were hosts of boys and little children getting in everybody's way and making themselves as important as possible. We went on shore and threaded our way through several groups of natives, and in answer to our inquiry for Tamihana were directed to a house where many young men were dressing, or rather undressing, for the war dance. The floor was covered with Ngatihaua chiefs, packed as close as possible, over whose prostrate forms we made our way with great difficulty to the great man himself, who received us in one corner. All the men began to ask who I was, and if I had anything to do with the Governor. As soon as Mr. Ashwell explained I was his friend, they shook hands, and made me a place on the floor, which I accepted with outward gratitude, but with much inward fear of fleas. Tamihana again begged that I would go on to Matamata, but, hearing that my wife was with me, he said I had better take her to Auckland first, and he would send Piripi the deacon for me, when the page 126disturbance was over. So we shook hands and parted.
There was going to be a war dance, which I was most anxious to see, but had to remain by myself, because missionaries on principle do not like to countenance war dances. It was the only real war dance I ever saw. The men wore white feathers on their heads and had a cloth round their loins. This, I was told, was a modern innovation out of regard to Pakeha prejudices. They were all armed with spears and tomahawks, and at first divided themselves into two parties, one reserved for the defence of the place, and the other, representing the attacking party, concealed in the bush. Three big lads, who were the best runners of the defending party, went out first as scouts, and on catching sight of the enemy, threw their spears at them and ran for dear life back to their own body. The attacking party ran after them with great shouts and yells: I was told that in former times, if any of the scouts were caught, they were killed on the spot. The two bands of natives then charged and rushed about, much like an ordinary review. They then began shaking and striking themselves, accompanying the movement with low chanting: this went gradually crescendo until it grew into violent leaps, and the brandishing of their weapons with yells and screams. Every motion was performed in exact unison, and with perfect precision, so that the body became more like a terrible monster than a collection of individual men.page 127
The scene under the bright blue sky, with the distant mountains for a background and the dark yelling savages in the fore, set off with waving feathers and coloured dresses, was most interesting and enchanting. After the dance the warriors sat down, and the speeches began. Maori orators run to and fro while they speak, and gesticulate in the most active manner; they sometimes enliven their discourse with song, and are listened to with attention much greater than that shown to most orators by the House of Commons. Their speeches happily have the merit of being brief and to the point. Even Tamihana succeeded in expressing his sentiments in a five minutes' oration and a short song. After the dance I went to look for Mr. Ashwell, and found him talking to Matutaera, the Maori King. The King was in a dreadful state of indecision, dreading to advance towards Auckland, yet compelled by the feeling of the tribes to do so. Tamihana was the real leader, but even he and the other chiefs had by no means absolute power, and were obliged to yield to the wishes and prejudices of their followers. A letter came to the war party while we were there from Ihaka, the chief of the tribe to whom the murdered man belonged, stating that no person could be proved to have done the deed, and urging the war party to retire, but as Ihaka was known to be in the pay of the Government no attention was paid to what he said.
After leaving Paetai, we had to bivouac in the page 128open air; it was a fine moonlight night, and we kept up a roaring fire. Next day we got up at half-past four, and after bathing and breakfasting we rode through the forest to Drury, which we reached at noon. The journey thence was by van in pouring rain, the road furnished a succession of mud pits, in one of which the splinter bar was wrenched off the carriage, and the carriage nearly off the springs. We then learnt the usefulness of New Zealand flax; long leaves of flax were cut from the roadside, and with these the splinter bar was laced on: some busybody, by way of further strengthening the vehicle, laced a fore and hind wheel together with flax, which compelled the van to describe a circle. When this was rectified we jogged along to within a mile of Otahuhu, when the crazy carriage finally and hopelessly broke down.
We arrived in Auckland about eight o'clock in a violent storm and rain. I went to Bishop Selwyn's house to tell him about the war party, and he set off there and then, at that hour of night, in the middle of the storm, to meet Tamihana's party and endeavour to prevent mischief. The colony had really a much narrower escape than was at the time suspected. There was a certain notorious native at that time in Waikato, who went by the name of Whakapaukai, which may be translated into English as "gorging Jacky"; he and some boon companions separated themselves from the main body, and went off on their own account to pillage and possibly murder the settlers. The page 129Bishop, who was with the war party, detected his departure, and called Tamihana's attention to it, by whom Whakapaukai was with great difficulty recalled.
My next visit to Tamihana did not take place until the following year, when a report was circulated that he was thinking of going to Taranaki to intervene in the war, and was collecting a large party at Tamahere on the east bank of the Waikato river for that purpose. I rode up to that place from Mr. Ashwell's station at Taupiri, with Hota, Tamihana's eldest son, as a guide. I found Tamihana and the head men of Ngatihaua sitting in a raupo house; they accommodated me with a seat on a blanket and food, for the tribe was just going to dinner. The fare consisted of baked mutton, potatoes, and an excellent white wheaten bread. The Maories sat in convenient numbers round the dishes, and ate without the formality of plates, circulating the mutton bone as civilized man does the bottle, from which each guest cut off with his own pocket-knife the portion he chose. After dinner Tamihana produced a handsome English Bible containing a great many maps. I underwent a close examination in ancient and modern geography, and history from Nimrod to Garibaldi. The result was satisfactory, and I heard myself called a very learned Pakeha. Soon after there was a great "tangi" for the slain at Taranaki; Tamahere was the village of Wetini, the greatest chief who had up to that time fallen.page 130
I slept at the schoolhouse, about 200 yards from the village. Tamihana came down to talk in the evening; he was very quiet, but resolved about going to Taranaki.
The next day was Sunday; they had service in the morning, and Tamihana preached the sermon. Evening prayers were held in the open air. The proceedings at the latter were almost too much for my gravity; the congregation was squatted down, clothed in blankets and infested with naked babies, which toddled about making a most irreverent row, and as it was getting late, Piripi the deacon kept exhorting his congregation to read the responses faster, and finally closed the service abruptly, intimating they must come earlier another evening. A large meeting of Maories came down to the school to hear a lecture on the Queen and her Ministers and the House of Commons. I told them that the affairs of New Zealand were most carefully considered by these august persons, that the House of Commons, which I praised as much as my conscience would allow, was even then engaged in discussing their grievances, and exhorted them to accept their decision, instead of attempting a hopeless war. Tamihana seemed much struck with the account of the House of Commons, but he had gone too far to turn back. There were runaway sailors and other vagabonds among the Maories, who gave them bad and false advice as to their capacity to carry on a successful struggle with our troops, page 131which our unfortunate campaign at Taranaki had confirmed.
A few days later Mr. Ashwell and I went again together to Tamahere, where there had been a large meeting of Maories, and Tamihana had several long interviews with us. His idea was to get Wi Kingi, whose rights in the land at Waitara were the subject of dispute, to write to the Governor, to say they would all agree to abide by the decision of the British House of Commons, and ask to have hostilities stopped meanwhile, and he told me that if England thought that Teira (the seller) was entitled to dispose of Waitara, they would give it up at once. We tried to persuade him that it would be better to go to Auckland than Taranaki on this pacific errand, but he replied that he had promised, so we made him write his intentions in a letter to the Bishop, in order to have as explicit a pledge as possible. He begged me to go on to Matamata, but I promised a visit as soon as he and his people had grown tired of fighting, and would go back there to live in peace; and so we parted. A large number of wounded from Taranaki came in while we were there, and it was wonderful to see how well their wounds had healed without surgical aid. It was a sad thing that so fine a tribe, possessing magnificent land and everything necessary to grow civilized and wealthy, should immolate itself in this ridiculous quarrel about 600 acres of land.
None, even of Tamihana's best friends, were page 132satisfied of the sincerity of his motives in going to Taranaki, yet it proved afterwards that he faithfully carried out all the plans he had made before setting out to the seat of war, and he did succeed in stopping hostilities for two years, during which time Sir George Grey arrived, and had the opportunity of trying to settle the question between the two races without further fighting. It was during this period that I had my first experience of the position of an officer of Government, and was employed in the Waikato, the centre of the political activity of the Maories, to carry out Sir George Grey's plans. The work proved to be of the most intense and absorbing interest, although after many alternations of hopes and fear, it ended in complete and disastrous failure, and in the recommencement of the war on a much larger scale.
After Tamihana had returned from his visit to Taranaki, he sent for me to visit him again at Tamahere, and hear his account of what had been done. His tribe was very sore about the war; they had had no occasion to meddle in the matter, and had done so against the express injunctions of their Chief; they now saw they had gained nothing, and lost forty of fifty of their best men. The feeling vented itself in a dislike to all civilization. They had taken their children from the Maori schools, and abandoned the wearing of the civilized man's nether garments. Even Tamihana's wife had taken away their son, Hota, from Mr. Ashwell's page 133school, and those who had at first rejoiced at the truce which Tamihana had observed at Taranaki, began to suspect he was playing a deeper game than they had supposed. The Waikatos were not at all concerned or depressed by the results of their fighting with British soldiers, and there was a general readiness to fight for their king and their national independence. In reply, however, to a letter sent to me by Tamihana asking me to go to Tamahere "to hear what he had got to say, and that he might hear what I had got to say," I went from Taupiri with Heta, the native deacon. We found a white flag flying on the "rebel" flagstaff, in honour of the peace; it was visible a long way off against the heavy dark background of trees.
Our meeting took place in the schoolhouse, where, after I had furnished him with a cigar to keep him as mild as possible, he told a long story lasting about a couple of hours. First, he counted on the ends of his fingers the various reasons which led him to Taranaki, and which he had told me at our former meeting. He had never told his followers exactly what he meant to do. He arrived at Waitara on Monday (March 11, 1861), and before entering the Maori camp sent a letter to the General to say he had come to make peace, and asked for a truce on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to give him an opportunity of visiting Wi Kingi and the fighting chiefs; he said he was a man of authority, and his tribe would make good his stipulations. General Pratt, in reply, page 134reproved him for dissimulation, and exhorted him to candour; the truce would be granted, but the peacemaker was advised to keep his promise, lest he should be called a "deceitful man."
On Tuesday morning a white flag was hoisted, according to agreement, on the Maori fence; there was no wind to blow it out, so two volleys were fired by the troops from the sap, before it was seen. Tamihana sent a message to the General, "he could have little authority over his soldiers if they fought after he had agreed to a truce." The General replied he had seen the Maories in the hostile trench. "Oh!" replied Tamihana, "that is their village where the trenches are dug, and now the firing is over, they are gone back there to live."
The whole of Tuesday was occupied in talking over the Waikatos, who when the object of Tamihana's coming was made known, cried and shouted against it. He did not tell me what arguments he used to convert them. His own opinion always was that Maori nationality, to maintain which he made every sacrifice, was not advanced by war with the Pakehas. His policy was passive resistance to our encroachments, the assertion of Maori independence by just and lawful acts, and to let us, if there must be war, be clearly the aggressors. Perhaps it was this view that he urged upon the fighting chiefs. They were more disposed to listen, because they were getting tired of the war. At first it was exciting and pleasant to roam at page 135will over the country from which the English farmers had been driven, and to push even into the outskirts of New Plymouth, pillaging houses, driving off cattle and horses, and occasionally exchanging a shot with the enemies' outposts, or picking off some foolhardy straggler. But all the plunder had been looted long ago, and the war had turned into a dull uninteresting resistance to General Pratt's slow but certain advance up the Waitara Valley. At any rate, by the evening of Tuesday they were brought to consent to Tamihana managing matters in his own way; and a message was sent to Wi Kingi to ask for a talk on the following morning. On Wednesday the meeting took place between the Waikatos and the Ngatiawa tribe. The account which Tamihana gave me of the meeting was as follows:—Tamihana.—
The reason of my coming here is to bring you the opinion of the Ministers and of the Maories. I wish, besides, to see Waitara, to visit the fighting chiefs, and you, Te Rangitake (Wi Kingi) in particular, that I may learn the cause of this dispute. If Waikato was the cause, I should know all about it, but my opinion is that you are the cause of the dispute.Rangitake.—
The dispute is not mine; Waitara is not mine, it is yours.Tamihana.—
The dispute is yours, Waitara is yours.Rangitake.—
It is yours.Tamihana.—
Look at a man, his head is the page 136head, his hands are hands, his legs are legs. You are the head, Waikato the legs. That is why I say Waitara is yours.Rangitake.—
No; you are the head.Tamihana.—
You are the head.Rangitake.—
Yes. I am the head. Waitara is mine, the dispute is mine. There! I give Waitara to you.Tamihana.—
Do you see my hand! (Holding out his hand half closed.) Water will not run out. But now (opening his hand) the water runs out. What sort of a giving Waitara is it? Like the former or the latter?Rangitake.—
I give it fairly with an open hand. After this I have no voice in its disposal.Hapurona (Rangitake's fighting chief).—
Brother, my opinion agrees with Rangitake's.Tamihana.—
Waikato, do you object? Ngatiawa, do you object? Ngatiruanui, do you object?Rewi (of Ngatimaniapoto). —
I have not a word to say against it. You have done all fairly. Rangitake is the head, he has disposed of it.Tamihana.—
Waikato, do you object?Epiha
repeated Rewi's words.Tamihana.—
Then all is over, Waikato! Back to your homes! Ngatiawa, retire to Mataitawa! Ngatiruanui, away to your land! Let the soldiers go back to New Plymouth! Let Waitara be left to the protection of the law.
On Thursday, Tamihana asked for a truce that page 137his proposals might be heard. This was assented to, and an official named Hay was sent to talk with him. Tamihana's account of the interview was the following:—Hay.—
Why have you sent for me?Tamihana.—
The reason is this: Rangitake and the fighting chiefs have agreed that Waitara shall be given to me; Waikato has agreed to go home; Ngatiawa to retire to Mataitawa, Ngatiruanui to go away to their own land, Waikato is to be left under the protection of the law. Now I want the soldiers to be sent to New Plymouth.Hay.—
It cannot be, the Governor only has power to do that, but let us go together on the steamer to Auckland.Tamihana.—
I will not go. What was the sin of Rauparaha (a New Zealand chief who was captured on board a vessel and imprisoned under Sir George Grey's first Government).Hay.—
He wanted to join in Rangihaete's war.Tamihana.—
What was the sin of Pomare?Hay.—
He wanted to join in Heke's war.Tamihana.—
These sins were mere trifles. I am a very sinful man.Hay.—
What is your sin?Tamihana.—
I have committed two sins: first, I am a King-maker; second, I am the head of this dispute. It is for this reason I am afraid to go on the steamer, lest I should be treated as Rauparaha and Pomare were.Hay.—
Let us see the Governor.page 138 Tamihana.—
If you persuade me, I consent. You go by steamer, I will go by land. In three days I will be in Waikato. Let the Governor come and see me at Tuakau.Hay.—
The Governor will not go there.Tamihana.—
If he is afraid let his soldiers come to take care of him, or if he does not like to talk in the open air, let him come to Ngaruawahia—our house is there.
As it was found impossible to persuade Tamihana to adventure himself into our power, it was at last agreed that his proposal should be sent by steamer to the Governor at Auckland, but the General would not consent to a suspension of hostilities until an answer should be received. Tamihana in vain urged the desirability of saving human life; the General replied that it would be waste of time, and firing would recommence the following morning On Friday our white flag had disappeared, but that of the enemy was, by Tamihana's orders, still kept flying. The soldiers entered the sap, and commenced digging; no opposition was offered. They proceeded to fire on the Maori pah, "Now," said Tamihana to the fighting chiefs, "Do what you please;" the white flag was pulled down, and the war flag hoisted. Firing continued during Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Maories say they did not, during those days, lose a man, but on our own side Lieutenant Macnaughton, R.A., was killed and several men wounded. Tamihana took no part page 139in the fighting, but gave me a graphic account of the firing of the great guns and mortars, which appear to have entertained him vastly. On Monday, Mr. McLean, the Native Secretary, arrived from Auckland. He brought no consent from the Governor for the withdrawing of the troops from Waitara. Tamihana said that the following dialogue took place between him and McLean.McLean.—
I am come to hear what you have to say. Your proposal is: "Let matters be referred to the House of Commons, if it says we are to sink, let us sink; if it says we are to swim, let us swim."Tamihana.—
I have come to Waitara, I have seen Te Rangitake, he has given power into my hands, they have agreed that Waitara shall be left under the protection of the law. I have told Waikato to return to their homes, Ngatiawa to retire to Mataitawa, Ngatiruanui to go to their own land. For this reason I said "Let the soldiers go to New Plymouth." What do you say?McLean.—
I have no power to order that. It is the Governor who has power to do that.Tamihana.—
What have you come here for? I expected you to have power from the Governor. Well, now you are a fool and the Governor too; I have been waiting here in vain and have no answer from either of you. You are fools both. Well then, I am going back to Waikato.McLean.—
Let Waikato stay, let the soldiers stay until the Governor comes.page 140 Tamihana.—
I shall not stay, I shall go to-day.
Tamihana told McLean that as the land was disposed of, and left to the protection of the law, his mission was accomplished, but if they wished to pull down the Maori king, they must come to Waikato to do it. He told me he was in favour of any person who had committed murder being tried for murder, but was resolved never to give up the Maori king; he had sent for me to tell me that peace had not been made, lest I should think he had deceived me.
It was late when his account was finished, and I begged to put off a reply until next morning, when he came with some of the chiefs, and we discussed the Maori king question. His position was logically unassailable. He told me that only seven old men out of all Waikato had signed the treaty of Waitangi, which purported to surrender the sovereignty of New Zealand to the Queen of Great Britain, and he named them to me on his fingers; he told me they had been given blankets for signing. Neither he nor his father, Te Waharoa, chiefs of the independent Ngatihaua tribe, had ever signed. I gave them the reasons which made the King movement unwise:—
|1.||The Maories did not all agree, and it provoked dissension among themselves.|
|2.||If accomplished it would deprive them of the assistance of Pakehas in establishing law and civilization.|
|3.||They would deprive themselves of public money for establishing schools and hospitals.|
|4.||In case of dispute with the Colony there would be no Queen to defend their rights.|
Tamihana sat wrapped in his blanket, listening to all I said. He answered by assenting to all. He had no wish to separate from the Queen. They wanted to be a distinct, but not a separate, nation. He set up two sticks, "These," he said, "are the Governor and the King." He placed a third stick: "This," he said, "is the one law, that of God and the Queen, which will bind together both races," and he added, drawing a circle round them in the ground with his finger, "Let the Queen be a fence to protect them all." I said we objected to the name "king." He asked, "Why? What was in a name?" And had Shakespeare been translated into Maori he would doubtless have quoted him, as others do, in support of his position. He said they had long desired and would gladly accept English law, but they saw no reason for changing the name.
Tamihana was a pleasant man to argue with: he heard patiently all you had to say, took the greatest pains to find out exactly what you meant, and replied calmly, and always to the point. I have met many statesmen in the course of my long life, but none superior in intellect and character to this Maori chief, whom most people would look upon as a savage.