The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 3 (July 1, 1933)
Famous New Zealanders — No. 4 Judge F. E. Maning — “Pakeha-Maori”
“Old New Zealand,” by Judge Maning, is a classic in the Dominion's literature. Maning was the first writer to give the world a vivid sketch of life in New Zealand in the period immediately before the establishment of British sovereignty, from the point of view of a pioneer trader and settler. In this article the personality and career of the famous “Pakeha-Maori” are discussed, and some facts and documents hitherto unpublished are given. It is exactly one hundred years ago this month since Maning landed in New Zealand.
There are two books which describe intimately the conditions of life in North New Zealand in the transition period when the old Maori rule of No Man's Land was still untouched by pakeha law. The writers saw the country in its unspoiled beauty, and lived with the Maoris when the patriarchal mana of the chiefs was still little impaired by the levelling influences of the European invasion. The tribes still welcomed the pakeha, they were eager to get a few white traders to live with them; they were not yet alarmed by the incoming of crowded immigrant ships. One of those writers was Frederick Edward Maning, the Irishman whose “Old New Zealand” is a familiar work, quoted so much that its best passages became somewhat tedious by frequent repetition. The other was Sir John Logan Campbell, whose “Poenamo” is not well known but deserves reprinting for its perfect pictures of pakeha-Maori life on the shores of the Hauraki in 1840. Both writers saw the adventurous era of settlement, the glorious freedom of a day when commercialism and many laws had not yet interfered with the primitive, honest simplicity of the Maori and his pakeha friends. Maning and Campbell were great friends in their days of vigorous young manhood; their friendship continued through life, and Campbell's last duty to his old comrade was the writing of that eloquent epitaph on the “Pakeha-Maori's” tomb in Auckland.
It is fitting that their books should be coupled as the two authentic narratives of a long-vanished life. Of the two, Maning was by far the better acquainted with the Maori people, for he lived among them many years of his life, and he married a Hokianga Maori woman. Campbell's “Poenamo,” however, charms one with its unaffected and sympathetic description of the early trading-station ways, the Maori at home, the pleasures, tribulations and humours of the white man's endeavour to fit himself into the ways of this wonderful new land. What Sir George Grey did for the olden Maori, whose only library was his mind and his mental store of tradition and song, in “Polynesian Mythology,” Maning and Campbell, in their separate ways, did for the race when the ancient regime was about to give way, gradually but surely, to the new.
Maning's Early Days.
Maning's Purchase of Onoke.
It was necessary to become more than a mere squatter on the harbourside or the riverhead, so in 1839 Maning became the owner, by trade-purchase, of a block of some 200 acres of land at Onoke, on the south side of Hokianga Harbour, between the present township of Rawene and the Heads. His was a different bargain from some of the early-days land deals in which the white man got much the best of it. Maning paid fairly and squarely for his little baronial estate; the sellers received very good value.
In Auckland some years ago I was lent, among documents left by Maning in the hands of certain old friends, the original deed of the Onoke land purchase, a document not previously published. This deed has historical value; and it is testimony to the fairness of the bargain that the Land Claims Commission which sat in 1840 to consider native land purchases before the Treaty of Waitangi, fully confirmed Maning in his purchase. The deed reads as follows:—
“September 3rd, 1839.
“This is to let all men know that we the undersigned New Zealand Chiefs have sold to Frederick Edward Maning his heirs and assigns for ever a Tract of land part of which is known by the name of Onoke, and situated on the River Hokianga and on the eastward by the river of Wirinake [Whirinaki] as far as the creek called Ohaukura, the inland boundary being formed by a straight line running from the mouth of that creek to the center between two hills one of which is called Te Porotutu and the other Rahirahi and from thence continuing its direction till it comes to the river Hokianga.
“And we the undersigned Chiefs being the true and only owners of the above described land do hereby acknowledge to have received full payment for the same from Frederick Edward Maning without any reservation whatever of any part of the land contained in the above whatever of any part of the land contained in the above mentioned boundaries down to low water mark or of any of its productions whether vegetable or mineral.
“We do also bind ourselves to give peaceable possession of the above mentioned land to Frederick Edward Maning his heirs or assigns and to defend Frederick Edward Maning his heirs and assigns in the same.”
The chiefs who signed the deed—mostly with an X—included Kaitoke, Keha, Kaipu, Tuteauru, Mohau, Nuku, Te Tahua, Tapuru, Kiripapa, Huru, Tahae-tini, Puaro, Motu, Hiku, and Te Haringa. Three did not make a cross but inscribed a part of their scroll tattoo-marks; these were Kaitoke, Kiripapa, and Tahae-tini (“Many Thefts!”).
This is Maning's list of trade items, with their values, given to the chiefs in exchange for the land:
Goods Paid for Land at Onoke.
|220 lbs Tobacco||£22||0||0|
|15 pairs Blankets @ 20/-||15||0||0|
|14 shirts @ 2/6||1||15||0|
|10 Muskets at 20/-||10||0||0|
|2 Fouling pieces||6||0||0|
|1 Fouling piece||4|
|1.50 lb keg powder||3||5||0|
|2.50 lb kegs powder||10||0||0|
|6 spades @ 5/-||1||10||0|
|1 Fancy Musket||2||10||0|
|25 per cent profits on above goods||20||2||6|
The spelling, “fouling pieces,” was perhaps an unconsciously accurate description. But all things considered, the young trader did not price his goods extravagantly at all. The prices set down would have been considered excessively cheap by many Maori Coast merchants of those days.
The Gunpowder Merchant.
Another document shown me is worth quoting because it indicates the extent to which firearms were used by the Maoris in the old bush days and the means by which it reached them. It reads as follows:—
“Native Secretary's Office.
Auckland, December 31, 1860.
|Percussion caps||500 boxes|
The letter is signed by Donald Maclean (afterwards Sir Donald), the Native Secretary. Maclean and Maning were old friends. It is to be noted here that Maning had always before him the possibility of the Northern Maoris being called upon to assist the Government against the King Party tribes in Waikato and elsewhere, and that at the date of this letter the Taranaki war was proceeding. Ostensibly the Hokianga and other northern chiefs were being supplied with ammunition for pigeon shooting, but Maning—as will be seen from a letter to be published later—privately appreciated the likelihood of making other “pigeons” the targets for Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi tupara (double-barrelled guns).
Maning as a Free-Lance Fighter.
It must be remembered also that Maning was something of a fire-eater himself. He had carried his double-barrel gun in the battlefields of North Auckland himself, in Heke's war of 1845, alongside his friends John Webster and Tamati Waka Nene. John Webster, in his Reminiscences, has told the story of Maning's retort to Colonel Despard's arrogant question: “What do you civilians know of the matter?” when the three comrades went to him to protest against the attempt to carry the Ohaeawai stockade by storm. Maning indignantly said: “We may not know much, sir, but there is one apparently that knows less, and that is yourself!” When Despard threatened to arrest them, Tamati Waka made a contemptuous comment which still further infuriated the stubborn Colonel. All protests were in vain, and that afternoon Despard's insane order cost forty lives and a great many wounded.
John Webster's Memories.
From John Webster, that fine old man of Opononi, Hokianga, hero of many a close-call adventure in Australia and the South Sea Islands as well as New Zealand, I heard many stories of Maning, too long to be recounted in this brief survey of the pakeha-Maori's career. Webster's life is a book in itself—more about him later. He and Maning were associated in trade and timber ventures at various times, as well as in the glorious life of free-lance campaigning on the fields of Omapere and Ohaeawai. Webster told me that he gave Maning much of the information which “Pakeha-Maori” used in his story of “The War in the North” (which is bound in with “Old New Zealand”), and that he wrote some notes for him on the subject.
That story of Heke's war, by the way, as given by Maning, purports to be the translation of a narrative from the lips of an old Ngapuhi chief, and it has been accepted literally as such by some writers who quoted passages from it. But it is really a composite story, partly from Maning's own experience, partly from what his Maori kinsmen and friends told him, and partly from John Webster.
Maning as Judge.
Railwayman: “Wonderful smoke this National Tobacco. I believe it is the healthiest tobacco on the market.”
Man behind the Counter: “Yes, I smoke it myself. Apart from the fact that the tobacco is one hundred per cent. in quality, it is produced by a company that is one hundred per cent. New Zealand. I believe that company pays hundreds of thousands to the Government in freight and taxes and employs over a thousand workers. Why, dash it all, the more we smoke the better for the country; and the loyal way the company sticks to the Railways in fares and freight, helps to keep the railwaymen in their jobs.”
“No human flesh and blood, however hardened, could endure much longer the excitement, privations, danger and unrest which the equally balanced forces and ferocious courage of the contending parties had now  protracted to several years' duration on that small spot of the earth's surface and between two petty divisions of the human race. War had attained its most terrible and forbidding aspect; neither age nor sex was spared; agriculture was neglected; the highest duty of man was to slay and devour his neighbour. Whilst the combatants fought in front, the ovens were heating in the rear. The vigorous warrior one moment fighting hopefully in the foremost rank, exulting in his strength, laying enemy after enemy low, thinking only of his war-boasts when the victory should be won; stunned by a sudden blow, instantly dragged away, hastily quartered alive, next moment in the glowing oven; his place is vacant in the ranks; his very body can scarcely be said to exist. While his flesh is roasting the battle rages on, and at night his remains furnish forth a banquet for the victors, and there is much boasting, and great glory.”
The Dunedin Railway Cadet Football Team, 1900.
Back row: Left to right—Messrs. H. Millar, J. L. Jacobson, W. Sinclair, J. Stewart, L. H. Campbell, L. Aikin, E. Scanlon, E. Wright, J. Davie-Parson, J. Short, G. Livingston, and R. M. Isaac. Front row—H. L. Gibson, T. Bateman, H. W. Franklin, C. L. Hope, E. J. Paton, W. P. Miller, R. A. P. Francis, and A. Urquart.
Maning and the Maori Soul.
Casual writers and speakers on New Zealand frequently refer to Judge Maning as the writer who had the most profound knowledge of the Maori and who best described Maori habits and thoughts. The truth about Maning is that—apart from his intimate knowledge of land tenures and history and related subjects—he was a dealer in superficialities. He described very graphically the surface of old-time Maori life, the obvious things, the excitements and humours and tragedies. Maning had this much in common with his one-time antagonists, the Missionaries, that he regarded the Maori system of religion and mythology as mere superstition and mumbo-jumbo, and he made his contempt for that sort of thing so plain that he was never admitted to the innermost confidences of the learned men of the race. In his later period he somewhat modified his attitude, but he had missed unrivalled opportunities. “Te Manene” could have given so much more; as it is, we are thankful for “Old New Zealand,” superficial though it be.
In one or two brief legends and in a poem, “The Spirit Land,” Maning showed that he had the gift of poetic insight and expression in some degree, and could have developed it had he chosen. In one poem he pictures a seer standing on a hill on the Far North way to Te Reinga, “his eyes fixed on the spirit path that leads to the spirit land.”