The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892.
The Waieau Massacre.—Indirect Causes.—The Murder of Kuika.—The Massacre Bay Affair.—Newspaper Articles.—The direct Cause.— Attempt to Survey the Wairau.—Te Eauparaha's Claim to the Land.—The New Zealand Company's Title.—Arrival of Survey Party.—Rauparaha and Rangihaeta.—Surveys interfered with.— Carefully remove Surveyors' Goods.—Burn the Raupo, Tent Poles, and Tent Pegs.—Mr Cotterell sent to Nelson.—Lays Information.— Warrant issued against Rauparaha and Rangihaeta for Arson.— Magistrates and Constables leave by Government Brig —Arrival at Wairau —Reach the Maori Camp.—Captain Wakefield's Instructions.—Saturday, 17th June, 1843.—The Police Magistrate and the Chiefs.—They refuse to go on board Brig —The armed Men advance. —First mysterious Shot.—Volleys fired.—Retreat up the Hill.—Mr Cotterell.—Captain Wakefield orders Arms to be laid down.—Fłag of Truce.—Natives cease Firing.—Surround and Massacre Europeans.—Native Accounts.—Rangihaeta's Wife killed.— The Rev. S. Ironside,—Search for and Burial of Dead.—List of Killed, Wounded, and Escaped.—How Nelson received the News,— The Deputation to Auckland.—The Views of the Governor —Memorial to Sir George Gipps.—Visit of Sir Everard Home in H.M.S. "North Star.—General Effect of Massacre,
One of the indirect causes of the Wairau Massacre was the acquittal of the man Cook, for the murder of the Maori woman Kuika. The Natives believed him guilty—they were not satisfied with the trial, and they conceived a distrust of British Justice. If it had been a Maori who was accused he would, they said, have been surely convicted.
The circumstance of this case were these:—The victim Kuika, was the daughter of one of the principal Chiefs of the Ngatitoa, nearly related to Rauparaha, and sister to Rangihaeta. She was married on Christmas Day by the Rev. S. Ironside, to Mr. Wynen, the principal storekeeper in the district. There was also living there (Port Underwood) an escaped convict of dissolute habits, named Richard Cook. He also was married by Mr. Ironside at the same time, to another Native female of low rank. Kuika lived very happily with her husband and had borne him two children—a boy 16 months old, and a girl of about six months. Mr. Wynen went to Nelson on business, and during his absence the house was broken into, his wife violated, and she and her infant son murdered. The Natives were bent upon summary vengeance. Cook's wife had told them he was the betrayer and murderer. They were persuaded by Mr. Ironside to wait. The Magistrate came over from Port Nicholson, and after a searching enquiry extending over several days, Cook was committed for trial at the Supreme Court. The case came on for trial. The evidence of Cook's wife was of course objected to page 46by his counsel, and the objection sustained. Some of the strong circumstantial testimony had been left behind at Cloudy Bay, and to the disgust and anger of all the Natives, the accused was acquitted. The Natives were furious—they believed him guilty —and he was acquitted for want of evidence. Why was not the trial put off and the evidence brought from Cloudy Bay? Only the other day a Maori had been hanged in Auckland on much weaker circumstantial evidence, and so on.
Cook took good care not to return to Cloudy Bay after his acquittal. Finding he had nothing to fear from the law, he confessed his guilt, and left the country under an assumed name. Report says that he was killed shortly after in a drunken brawl.
This trial took place only a few weeks before the Wairau Massacre.
Another indirect cause was the affair at Massacre Bay, the effect of which was to impress the minds of the Magistrate and the Company's officers, with the idea that if you assumed a bold front, and treated the Natives with a "firm hand," they would immediately give in, and from this they formed the dangerous conclusion, that the enemy might be safely despised. The facts were these:—On October 18th, Mr Howard who had accompanied a party of coal diggers and lime burners to Massacre Bay, returned and reported that the Natives had interfered with the working of the men. Ekawa was the leader. He had been very violent, and refused to allow any trees to be felled or coal dug. On the 15th November, Mr. Thompson, P.M., and Captain Wakefield, J.P., accompanied by Mr. Tytler and a party in all of 25 sworn in as special constables, started in the Deal boat for Massacre Bay, with the intention of putting an end to the interference, and unruly conduct cf the Natives at Motupipi.
On arrival an information was laid by Charles Biggs against Ekawa for malicious destruction of a limekiln and casks of lime. The party then proceeded to Takaka where Ekawa was, with about forty Natives.
At the landing place, about two miles up the river, seats were placed, and the necessary arrangements made to give a formal character to the proceedings. Ekawa was sent for from his whare. He replied: "I will not come, I am not a cookey, and I will not come for any man be he whom he may."
A warrant was thereupom made out, and entrusted to the the special constables; but they did not bring Ekawa, not thinking themselves justified in using force.
But force being necessary to carry the thing through successfully, and in order to conduct the proceedings with all possible decorum, the Magistrate swore in Mr. Tytler as a Special Constable, and, to assist him, several of the boatmen. Mr. Tytler was placed in command of the force. The party thus augmented page 47brought Ekawa from his whare, to about 40 yards of where the Magistrates were seated.
Here Ekawa stopped abruptly, saying, "Now Mr. Thompson might come to him," and his friends hung on to him telling him "not to go."
The Bench, however, gave loud orders to bring him, and a pair of handcuffs was produced. His friends shrunk back; and half yielding, half resisting, the prisoner was placed at the "bar." Just then an assortment of rusty swords and cutlasses was handed out of the boat and laid on the bank. The evidence was taken. It was clear enough. Ekawa had been seen destroying the limekiln and the casks. When called on for his defence, Ekawa said he was angry because the white man dug the coal and sent it to Wakatu to sell; and when he and the Maoris dug theirs, the white men would not buy it from them, and he could not send it anywhere to sell. He expressed his regret for what he had done, and promised not to offend again. The address of the Police Magistrate to the accused was to the effect that he was bound to obey the English law, and must be held responsible for the results of his anger; but in consideration of his supposed ignorance of the law, and his professed sorrow for what had passed, and his promise of good conduct for the future, he was let off with a fine of 10/- and 10/- costs. Poor Ekawa had no money, and tried to negotiate an alteration of the fine from money into goods, pigs, or potatoes; but the Magistrate refused, and after some delay Ekawa's wife managed to find the sovereign.
The expedition returned to Nelson jubilant. The question of how to deal with refractory Maoris had been solved. It was only necessary to show a firm front, and to display a modest force of undrilled men armed with old Tower muskets which might or might not go off; and a few rusty cutlasses; and there would be no further trouble.
But the Maoris at Massacre Bay at that time were refugees who had been worsted in battle, and had been allowed to treat that district as a sort of City of Refuge, in which they were not to be molested, but from which they were not to remove. They were therefore isolated from all other Maoris, and not in any way prepared for active resistance or aggression, so that the sight of the rusty weapons was sufficient to bring them to terms for the time being.
But such an easy victory, and such apparently pusilanimous submission were soon paraded far and wide amongst both races; and if on the one hand the British settlers were filled with complacent satisfaction, the warlike Maoris under Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeta received the news with other feelings.
It has also been suggested to the writer (by Mr. Saunders that yet another indirect cause was our hardly excusable non-re cognition of the fact that, notwithstanding their ignorance of our page 48language, everything published in the newspapers was at least as certainly known to the Maoris as to the Europeans. Whilst our habits of application to private business left us scarcely time to look at a newspaper or to think about politics, the Maoris met daily and had every event of importance interpreted and fully discussed, so that without any newspaper of their own, they were better informed in politics than we were, and, without our arms and ammunition, they were far better educated as soldiers in their own rough country, as fighting to them had always been both a pastime and an essential condition of existence.
By this means the natives were fully informed of the methods proposed to be adopted towards them, and the estimate of their fighting value, arrived at after the Massacre Bay expedition.
In October a few of the Cloudy Bay natives came to Motueka and succeeded in getting the natives to stop the surveys on some land belonging to Mr. Fell. But Captain Wakefield went over, and this dispute was also adjusted without much difficulty.
Upon the return of Mr. Tuckett, it was determined to proceed with the survey of the Wairau as rural lands. Contracts for the purpose were accordingly taken by Messrs. Barnicoat * and Thompson, Mr. Cotterell, and Mr. Parkinson. These three Survey parties (43 men in all) left Nelson on the 15th April, 1843, to carry out their respective contracts.
The determination to survey these lands was the direct cause of the massacre.
Te Rauparaha claimed the land by the title of conquest. After pursuing his victorious career in the North Island, he crossed the Straits with his fighting general and nephew Rangihaeta, and his Ngatitoas. They attacked and nearly destroyed the Nga-i-tahu tribe, who had long been settled along the coast from the Wairau River or Cloudy Bay to beyond the Kaikoura south. As a result Te Rauparaha claimed all the lands on the coast that belonged to the Nga-i-tahus, including the extensive and fertile valley of the Wairau, and a great part of Queen Charlotte Sound. The Company recognised his title, and Colonel Wakefield bought from him large portions of territory, which he said included Wairau. This Rauparaha denied.
Rauparaha possessed many ponts worthy of a chief among savages. He was full of resources in emergencies, hardy in enterprises, and indefatigable in the execution of them. When a young man, he acquired a reputation for strength and courage, founded on his skill in native warfare, which his wiliness and success in all his undertakings preserved for him in his old age. His unscrupulous treachery and cruelty made him the terror of his enemies, but were not regarded by the natives generally except as tending to increase his renown.
In person, his height was rather under the average. His years sat lightly upon him. He was hale and stout, and his hair but slightly touched with grey. His countenance expressed keenness and vivacity. He was always cleanly dressed in the ordinary mat and outer blanket, worn as a toga; slow and dignified in his action. His looks were wandering and watchful, as though betraying doubts as to his safety; otherwise he was perfectly easy in his address.
Rangihaeta was a very different looking man. He had the reputation of being one of the most ferocious of the chiefs. He was the son of Rauparaha's sister, and had accompanied that chief in most of his warlike expeditions, and was called "Rauparaha's fighting General." In person Rangihaeta was of commanding presence, about six feet six inches in height; upright as a dart; his countenance, however, was repulsive, indicating as it did, all too plainly, the truculent, bloodthirsty nature of the man.
The title of the New Zealand Company to the extensive plains of the Wairau was of a shadowy character. The Maoris interested disputed it, and the Company had been warned that it would be resisted.
The Commissioner for investigating titles—Mr. Spain—had notified his intention of coming over to hold a Court of Enquiry so soon as he could finish the work of the Porirua Court. The need of the land in dispute was urgent; without it the Company could not satisfy the purchasers who had bought from them in England, and paid for rural sections. These purchasers had many of them come out, and were impatient, not unreasonably so, to be put in possession of the land.
Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeta had on their visit to Nelson solemnly warned Captain Wakefield that the Company's title to the land was disputed, and that until the Commissioner had decided the dispute, the surveys would not be allowed to proceed.
But the Company's officials made light of these warnings and threats. Rauparaha and Rangihaeta had been feasted to page 50their heart's content, and had left in right friendly mood. There was nothing to fear from them.
The land purchasers were persistent in their demands for the lands they had bought and paid for. It was absurd to delay any longer; the surveys should proceed at once.
That the hasty pressing on of this work was imprudent, there is now no room for doubt. What was the Company's claim to this land? This question is very well answered by the Rev. S. Ironside, in one of a series of articles entitled "Missionary Reminiscences," contributed to the New Zealand Methodist; and his answer is a condensation of the evidence given before a Committee of the House of Commons in July, 1844, and printed in the Blue Book of that year.
This is the answer:—"The Company claim this (the Wairau) Valley on two grounds—an alleged purchase by Captain Blenkinsop, master of a Sydney whaler in 1831-2; and the negotiations between their principal agent (Colonel Wakefield) and Rauparaha, the head of this tribe, in 1839. About twelve years ago (in 1831) Captain Blenkinsop was whaling in Cloudy Bay, and during the time he was there a native female lived with him as his wife. She was the daughter of Te Pehi (Tippahu), who visited England some 18 or 20 years ago. As a sort of payment for her, and for the privilege of wood and water for his ship, he gave the natives an old six-pounder cannon, and drew up in English a deed of purchase of Wairau and the neighborhood, and this six-pounder is mentioned in the document as purchase money. The natives signed this believing, as they say, that they were signing an agreement to allow Captain Blenkinsop the privilege of wood and water for his ship when he came whaling, never supposing it was a deed of purchase. The deed was mortgaged to Messrs. Unwin & Co., Solicitors of Sydney, for £200. Captain Blenkinsop forfeited the deed, not being able to fulfil the terms of the mortgage. The Captain was drowned some years ago in South Australia. His widow came to Hokianga in 1839, during the visit of Colonel Wakefield in the ship 'Tory.' She at that time sold Colonel Wakefield the copy of the deed. The original she could not sell, for it was in the hands of Messrs. Unwin, who it was understood still claimed the place.
There was no division amongst the natives; they said as one man, "the lands are not yours, and we will not give them up."
"With all these facts in their possession, in view of the speedy prospect of the Court sitting to decide the question of title; of the known excited state of the natives, and of the threatened resistance to the surveys, the action of the Company's officials in pushing on the surveys at all hazards, was certainly an error of judgment.
The New Zealand Company having, however, decided upon surveying the Wairau Plains as rural lands, lost no time in letting contracts for the purpose to Messrs. Barnicoat and Thompson, Mr. Cotterell, and Mr. Parkinson. The three Survey parties (43 men in all) left Nelson, as already mentioned, to carry out their respective contracts.
They landed on the Wairau beach on the 25th April. There they found a chief named Epuka with two or three of his followers, who expressed no dissatisfaction at their arrival.
Operations were speedily commenced, but had not proceeded very far when other natives appeared and interrupted the surveyors by destroying their survey pegs and ranging rods. They carefully abstained from all acts of personal violence.
Upon being informed by message of these hindrances, Captain Wakefield addressed a letter to the surveyors, telling them, "that in case of any actual injury to property, the Magistrates would take immediate measures to apprehend the offenders, but that in the meantime the surveyors were to make their own peace with the natives in the best way they could, and he would indemnify them for any loss they might sustain."
On the 1st June, Rauparaha and Rangihaeta, with a body of natives, arrived at the mouth of the Wairau with a fleet of canoes, and soon visited the three survey stations. Their proceedings were very similar at each. They carefully avoided doing any injury to the acknowledged property of the surveyors, such as provisions, tents, clothing, cooking utensils, &c.; but they destroyed and burnt the tent poles, tent pegs, and also the framework of the provision sheds, after carefully removing the canvas covering. At Mr. Barnicoat's station they also ostentatiously burnt the fern and raupo bedding, calling his attention to the blaze. Mr. Parkinson's house being roofed with a sail, they first removed it and all the contents, and then set fire to what remained. Mr. Cotterell's house being built entirely of poles and raupo, and thatched with it too, they burnt altogether, after removing all the goods as the surveyor's own property. These were all carefully packed in the boats and taken to the pa at the mouth of the river.page 52
The natives considered the tent poles, tent pegs, raupo, toi-toi, and fern, as theirs, because they grew upon their land.
This is why they were extremely careful to injure nothing which was unquestionably the property of the surveyors; they wished to demonstrate that they were acting strictly in defence of their title to the land, and all that grew thereon.
In a Maori version of what took place, the following occurs: "Again Rangihaeta called to the Europeans and said, 'Do not be angry. This toi-toi belongs to me; it grew on my land. You might be angry if your house, which I shall burn, was built of boards brought from England; but, as this toi-toi is mine, it is right that 1 should burn it. All the things belonging to you Europeans have been taken out of the house, and I am acting in accordance with a just law; it is for you to commit some evil act. And the house was burnt."
Mr. Tuckett, the Chief Surveyor to the Company, left Nelson in the Company's boat on the 27th May for the Wairau, for the purpose of examining the state of the surveys at that time in progress there. On the 3rd June he reached the mouth of that river, and found Mr. Cotterell and his men there, who informed him that, on the preceding day, Rauparaha and Rangihaeta had been at his station on the river Opawa, and compelled him to desist from surveying; "that they had burnt his house and tent, excepting the canvas covering, and ordered him to remove; that they forcibly took his effects and removed them to the mouth of the river; and that they had informed him they would compel all the other surveyors to bring their effects down likewise, and had gone up to Mr. Barnicoat's for that purpose. Thereupon Mr. Tuckett at once despatched Mr. Cotterell to Nelson with a note for Captain Wakefield, in which he stated he should remain at the Wairau until he received instructions from him.
On the 5th June, Mr. Tuckett went up to Mr. Parkinson's station, where a party of natives had just arrived and taken possession of it. They were all armed with firearms and tomahawks. They informed him they were sent by Rauparaha to stop the survey.
Mr. Tuckett having sent a message to that chief to the effect that he would see him on his return, went to Kai-para-te-Hau on Wednesday, to inspect the surveys there, and on his coming back found Rauparaha and Rangihaeta, and Mr. Parkins on and his party. The chiefs talked about utu, and ordered them all to be off; and some of the natives began to pull up the pegs of his tent, and did all they could to hurry him from the ground. He then proceeded down the river to the pa at its mouth, accompanied by Rauparaha and Rangihaeta, each with his followers, in a large canoe.
There Mr. Tuckett found Mr. Barnicoat, who informed him that the natives had removed his effects, but that the chiefs had page 53used their influence in restraining their people from appropriating any of his goods or committing any violence.
It was proposed to despatch Mr. Parkinson to Nelson overland, but Rauparaha refused to allow him to go. Mr. Tuckett then told him that he had already sent Mr. Cotterell to Nelson.
This then was the position when Mr. Tuckett left for Nelson on Sunday morning, the 11th June, 1843:—The natives had forcibly, but without personal violence, removed the surveyors and all that strictly belonged to them from the disputed land. They had burnt everything which they considered clearly belonged to themselves. And they remained in possession without any idea of attacking the Europeans, but prepared to resist force with force, if such a course should be necessary, in defence of their possession, until such time as the Commissioner had decided who was really the owner of the land.
In number at this time they amounted to ninety-eight, but this number was increased by subsequent arrivals to one hundred and twenty-five, of whom about forty were women and children.
In the account afterwards given by Rauparaha of the massacre, he stated that: "tired of the delays of the Commissioner's Court, they proceeded to the Wairau to prepare the ground for cultivation before the season was farther advanced, taking with them their wives and families;" which they would not have done had they gone expressly for fighting.
Mr. Cotterell arrived in Nelson on the 11th June, and informed Captain Wakefield of what had occurred.
Acting it is to be presumed upon instructions, Mr. Cotterell next day laid an information against Rauparaha and Rangihaeta.
Out of the statements in the Information, and the depositions of Mr. Cotterell and John Burton (no specific charge had been laid in the Information) the Magistrates evolved a charge of arson, and decided to issue a warrant for the arrest of Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeta.
Upon the Bench on that 12th June were Mr. H. A. Thompson, P.M., Captain Wakefield, Captain England, and A. McDonald, Esq., Justices of the Peace.
It was not expected that anything serious would follow. It would be a second Massacre Bay affair, the great conqueror Rauparaha taking the place of the conquered Ekawa.
The Magistrates would go in person, attended as before by a nondescript force of labourers armed with the same old muskets, and rusty bayonets and cutlasses, and the Chief Constable would carry the handcuffs; at which dread array Rauparaha and Rangihaeta would yield quietly; but, if not, then they would be seized and forced on board the brig, where, after a proper rating from the Magistrate, and due expressions of sorrow on their part, they would be let off with a fine upon condition of their undertaking not to offend again. This is in effect what the Police Magistrate page 54stated. He said "such a demonstration would prevent bloodshed, and impress upon the natives a sense of the authority of the law." It is certain that no actual resistance was anticipated, and that the moral effect of the appearance of this motley force was relied on. The men chosen were of the labouring class, and intended as a reinforcement to those employed in surveying; many of them had never handled a firelock in their lives.
But Rauparaha and Rangihaeta knew all about the Massacre Bay business—the undisciplined men, the unreliable muskets, and the rusty swords and cutlasses; and although they did not wish to fight, they were not in the least afraid to do so; and sooner than submit to the indignity of being handcuffed, would fight to the death.
The Government brig "Victoria" was then in the harbour; and at the request of Mr. Thompson, P.M., Captain Richards agreed to carry the party to the Wairau. If then consisted of the following persons:—Henry Augustus Thompson, Esq., Judge of the County Court and Police Magistrate; Captain Arthur Wakefield, R.N., New Zealand Company's Agent for the Nelson Settlement, and J.P.; Captain Richard England, J.P.; George Rycroft Richardson, Esq., Crown Prosecutor for Nelson; Mr. James Howard, a Warrant Officer in the Navy, and New Zealand Company's Storekeeper; Mr. Cotterell, Surveyor; four constables (including Maling, the Chief Constable); and twelve special constables. John Brooks went as interpreter. The brig sailed on Tuesday, 13th June, and the same day met the Company's boat coming from the Wairau, with Mr. Tuckett (Chief Surveyor), Mr. Patchett (Merchant and Land Agent), and Mr. Bellairs (Surveyor). These gentlemen, at the request of Captain Wakefield, joined the party, with the boat's crew.
On Thursday evening, June 15, the majority of the party landed at the mouth of the Wairau, and on the following inorning the remainder landed, and were joined by Mr. Barnicoat and his man. Muskets and cartridges were served out to the men, and cutlasses to as many as chose to avail themselves of them. The party proceeded up the right bank of the river that day (Friday) about five miles. On the way up they were met by an influential chief named Puaha, a nephew of Rauparaha's, who seemed extremely concerned when informed by Mr. Thompson of the errand of the party, and proposed that it should return to Port Underwood, pledging himself on the part of Rauparaha and Rangihaeta that they should attend there, that the case against them might be heard.
Mr. Thompson explained to Puaha that the warrant was for arson; that no force would be used towards the chiefs, but that they must accompany him on board the brig where the case would be investigated by himself and the other Magistrates. Puaha replied that Rauparaha and Rangihaeta would not but page 55believe that they meant to make war upon them if the saw the armed men. He consented to convey a message to them explaining the object of the party.
The expedition encamped that evening further up the river, and shortly after doing doing so the Company's boat arrived. Some natives informed them that Rauparaha and Rangihaeta were further up the river. On the following morning (Saturday, the 17th) the party, consisting of forty-nine, of whom thirty-three were armed with muskets, and supplied with a dozen or two rounds of ball cartridge, proceeded up the river. Three or four of the gentlemen were unarmed. They arrived opposite to where the Maoris were encamped in a small but very dense detached wood, with the little river Tua Marina running through it, and near its junction with the Wairau. The deep and narrow stream separated them from the natives, whose canoes were hauled up it.
The strictest instructions had been given to the armed men not to fire on any account, or even to shew themselves, without orders. They were drawn up out of sight of the Maoris, on the opposite side of the Tua Marina.
When mustered before setting out, Captain Wakefield having called "Order!" said to them, "Men, whatever you do, do not fire unless you get orders." "A caution," says Mr. Barnicoat, "which was several times repeated to them in the course of the journey."
The natives were squatting in groups in front of the dense wood. The whites halted on the left bank, with a hill behind them covered with fern and manuka, and sloping upwards with several brows or terraces.
At the request of the Magistrates, a canoe was placed across the stream by a native named Piccawarro; and Mr. Thompson, Captain Wakefield, Messrs. Tuckett, Cotterell, Patchett, Brooks the interpreter, and Maling the Chief Constable, crossed over.
Captain England and Mr. Howard remained with the armed men; all bearing arms of any kind were told not to cross.
The Police Magistrate enquired for Rauparaha and Rangihaeta. The former alone came forward, and said "Here am I. What do you want with me? ' Mr. Thompson told him that hc was the Queen's representative, and held warrants for the arrest of himself and Rangihaeta for burning down Mr. Cotterell's house, and that he must go on board the brig, where the matter would be investigated. Rauparaha replied that he had not destroyed any European property; that the thatch and rushes of which the house was made were the produce of his own land, and therefore his own property, and he had a right to dispose of it as he pleased; that Mr. Spain would soon enquire into and settle the business. Mr. Thompson replied that Mr. Spain had nothing whatever to do with it; that Mr. Spain would settle the land dis-page 56pute between the Maoris and the white people, but that this had nothing to do with the land claims, but was a question about destruction of property which must be determined by the Magistrates. Rauparaha replied that he was willing to have the matter settled on the spot, and would make any compensation Mr. Cotterall required, provided the decision of the Magistrates pleased him; but he would not go on board the brig.
There was a great deal of repetition, and every variety of explanation to make the Maoris sensible of the distinction between this, which was a question of the destruction of property, and the question of the ownership of the Wairau. The natives, however, would not understand this.
Mr. Thompson grew very excited and spoke loud. He repeatedly interrupted Puaha who wished to interpose amicably, telling him to hold his tongue. Then he told Rauparaha he had am armed force at hand, and that if he would not come voluntarily he would make him come. At this stage Rangihaeta appeared, and in a very violent manner and loud tone said, "What do yov want with me? Do I go to Port Jackson or Europe to steal your lands? Have I burned anything belonging to you?" His gestures were so violent that Rauparaha ordered him to sit down.
Mr. Thompson then again asked Rauparaha, "Will you come?" This was answered with a decided "No." The question was again put, and again similarly answered.
Mr. Thompson called to the Chief Constable to produce a pair of handcuffs, but Rauparaha, ascertaining his object, put his hands under his mat.
Rauparaha had told his men to remain perfectly quiet, and not to interfere until they saw the white people actually dragging him away, when they were to rescue him; but to resort to no violent measures, except in defence of their lives.
Finding there was no probability of the chiefs giving way, Mr. Thompson at last called out, "Captain England, let the armed men advance."
The gentlemen then went towards the stream, which a party of 16 armed men from the other side was preparing to cross by means of the canoe.
So soon as the men were ordered to cross the river, the Maoris spread themselves and retired behind the bushes.
At this moment Captain Wakefield, observing some movement towards Mr. Thompson among some natives, called out in a loud voice with great energy, "Men, forward! Englishmen, forward!" and then a shot was fired—no one knows by whom or on which side. It is tolerably certain it was a purely accidental discharge. The Maoris immediately fired a volley, which was instantly returned. Tyrrell, one of the special constables, was killed by a shot through the throat, and Northam fell almost at the same time. While this went on the gentlemen were re-cross-page 57ing; Captain England, the last of them, wading through the water, into which he had fallen, holding on by the side of the canoe. All the surviving men of Howard's party returned at the same time. The firing was kept up briskly on both sides for a few minutes, but in this the Maoris had greatly the advantage, the bushes on their side being much closer and affording far better concealment.
Many shots had not been fired when Mr. Patchett, who was standing close to Mr. Barnicoat, fell mortally wounded; and shortly after Constable Gardiner was wounded in the hand and neck. Mr. Richardson came to the assistance of Mr. Patchett, and bent over him to receive his last commands. He said, "I am mortally wounded; you can do me no good; make your escape."
There began now to be a general movement up the hill—in the open ground just by (close to where the monument is now erected). The men retreated without order; Mr. Thompson, Captain Wakefield, Captain England, and Mr. Howard, urging them "for God's sake to keep together," but in vain. The men loaded deliberately as they retired, but were at a loss to find an object to fire at, as the Maoris, after firing, immediately disappeared in the fern or scrub.
On the first brow the most strenuous efforts were made to induce the men to stand and form. Mr. Howard called to them to fix their bayonets and come to the charge. They, however, kept retreating up the hill, firing as they went. By this time Mr. Thompson, Captain Wakefield, Mr. Tuckett, and others, had joined, and this party fell back on a brow seemingly very defensible. Even here the bullets were falling thick and fast. For awhile the men fired at the few Maoris who presented themselves, and then they again retreated.
The interpreter was now directed to call for peace, and Captain Wakefield ordered the firing to cease. A white handkerchief was also displayed; but those in advance of the retreating party still kept up a running fire as they pushed up the hill, which was returned by the natives. Mr. Thompson was seen about this time, by one who escaped, stamping on the ground and clutching his hair, as he exclaimed "Oh men! men!" in bitter regret and disgust at their conduct.
"Here," says Mr. Barnicoat, "when we were assembled on the hill, like so many targets which the natives were shooting at, Mr. Cotterell stood out from the rest, and said (I suppose in allusion to his principles as a member of the Society of Friends), 'I have nothing to do with business of this kind. If there are any of my men here, they had better follow me.' Captain Wakefield turned round and said very earnestly, ' For God's sake, Mr. Cotterell, don't run away; you are sure to be shot if you do.'"
The retreating party and the natives continuing to fire, page 58Captain Wakefield and those about him were compelled to proceed further up the hill, in order, if possible, to put an end to the Conflict.
Mr Cotterell, after accompanying them a short distance, sat down, intending to deliver himself up. "This is poor work, Dick," said he to one of the men passing him. As the natives came up, he recognised among them one to whom he had frequently shown acts of kindness; to him he advanced with open arms; the Maori thereupon discharged his musket in the air; but two others immediately seized him, and dragged him down the hill into the manuka bush, where they despatched him with their tomahawks.
Captain Wakefield then said, "The only chance of safety is for all to throw away their arms and lie down." All then lay down in the short fern. The shots were entering the ground close around.
Mr Tuckett and Mr Barnicoat, finding so little chance of safety, stood up and moved off together, leaving on the open hill ten or fifteen altogether.
Captain Wakefield and Mr Thompson and Brooks again shouted "kati!" (peace) and waved a white handkerchief. There were now present, with the above, Captain England, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Howard, some of the constables (probably Coster and Gardiner), Cropper, M 'Gregor, and a few others.
The rest fled up the hill in different directions, and were pursued by the natives a little way, who had with them a dog, which they shouted to and encouraged in the same manner as when they hunt pigs.
The natives now ceased firing, and, as they came up, the white men delivered up their arms, at Captain Wakefield's order. He himself gave up a pistol to one of them. The whole party seem then to have gone a little further down the hill, where most of the natives, with Rauparaha and Rangihaeta, immediately joined them.
The Maoris having shaken hands with their prisoners, who were standing in a group, loaded their guns, and seated themselves in a half circle before them, the two chiefs occupying the extremities. Mr Thompson, who was slightly wounded, was requested by Mr Richardson, who had received a shot in the hip, from which blood flowed freely, to examine the wound, Which he did. The Maoris brandished their tomahawks over the heads of the defenceless men. Mr. Thompson, observing this, said to Ruaparaha "kati!" which he repeated; the others then desisted.
Rangihaeta had wounded his foot by treading on a sharp-pointed stump, and Captain England, seeing the nature of the wound, took a penknife from his pocket and cut out the splinter, page 59and afterwards signified he would make him a present of the knife.
Gold was then offered as a ransom, but ineffectually. Two natives then approached Captain Wakefield, and, seizing him, attempted to strip off his coat. Colouring highly, it seems he endeavoured to draw another pistol, as Mr Howard was heard to say, "For God's sake, Sir, do nothing rash." Other natives laid hold of Mr Thompson, and were taking his coat and watch.
That is the last direct European evidence we have of what took place. George Bampton at this moment, observing the attention of the natives drawn off him, slipped into the bush, and succeeded in concealing himself. While lying there he heard some persons passing near him, one of whom (he believes Mr Howard) said to the other, "For God's sake,, if we are to die, let us die together." To whom this was said he could not tell. After having lain there about ten minutes in all, he heard about five guns fired, at intervals of about five minutes between each, and much shouting and hallooing by the natives, and immediately after a heavy dull sound, as it appeared to him, of a beating or chopping on the ground. He heard no cries or screams.
According to the native accounts, Puaha again endeavored to act as peace-maker, and urged his countrymen that enough blood had been shed, the number of killed being nearly equal on both sides; this was acceded to by Ruaparaha, and the two parties shook hands. Whilst standing quietly in the group, they were joined by Rangihaeta, who, having already tomahawked the wounded on his way, demanded the lives of those who had surrendered. To this Ruaparaha at first objected, but Rangihaeta shouted, "Give no quarter; they have killed your daughter Te-Rongo." The words were hardly uttered, when the defenceless men were brained, in spite of the intercession of some of the women, who cried out, "Save some of the rangatiras, if only to say you have saved some."
It appears that Te Rongo, Rauparaha's daughter, was also Rangihaeta's wife, and she was killed by the first accidental shot that was fired.
Rauparaha gave orders that the dead should not be stripped, but took one watch, which was buried with Te Rongo.
The Maoris then retreated a short distance up the Waitohi Valley, where, having buried their dead, they left the spot, and that same night they left the Wairau in their canoes; and in a few days crossed the Straits, withdrew all their followers from Mana, Porirua, and Kapiti, and took up their position at Otaki.
Rauparaha afterwards stated that Captain Wakefield and Mr Thompson were killed by a son of Te-ahuta, the first native man that fell, as a retribution for the death of their father; but page 60it is more likely they were killed by Rangihaeta, as satisfactions for the death of Te Rongo.
Mr. Tuckett, Mr. Barnicoat, and others—nine in all—found their way to the sea together, where a whaleboat happened to lie,, which took them to the Government brig in the bay. Three others had escaped by means of Mr. Cotterell's boat, after taking the precaution to take out the plug from the Maori whaleboat to prevent pursuit. A few found their way back to Nelson by way of the Wairau Valley.
The Government brig sailed for Wellington after ascertaining there were no others within reach of rescue, and arrived there on the morning of the 18th June. Fifty volunteers and special constables were armed and sworn in, and the brig made an ineffectual attempt to sail with them to the Wairau. The weather was too boisterous, and when the brig left on the morning of the 20th she carried several magistrates and others, but no armed men. On arriving at the Wairau the horror-struck passengers heard the appalling intelligence of the massacre by the Maoris on the 17th of all those who had fallen into their hands.
Those who went to the scene of the conflict found that the Rev. S. Ironside, the Wesleyan missionary for all that district regardless of personal danger, had preceded them, and had already buried seventeen of the dead.
The story of the search for and burial of the dead shall be given principally in the brave missionary's own words;—
The awful calamity took place on Saturday, June 17, 1843. We knew nothing of it at the station. Vague rumors had come to us. A ship of war was coming with soldiers to punish the old chief for burning down the Surveyor's huts, but I considered them vague rumours. We could not see the Wairau roadstead, 15 miles south of us, from the station: the north head of Port Underwood shut it out, so no one knew of the arrival of the Government brig.
On Sunday, the 18th, in the afternoon, a dreary day, a heavy downpour of rain, all round cheerless in the extreme. But in the mission parlour was warmth, brightness, gladness. I was meeting Mrs. Ironside's large class of native women for the renewal of their quarterly tickets of church membership. It was good to be there. Everything about the class was hopeful and encouraging. We were singing the last hymn, when, looking through the window, I saw a canoe paddling up the bay at great speed in the drenching rain. This was very singular, for, as a rule, the natives had too much regard for the Holy Sabbath to go canoeing, except in cases of great emergency. And then the weather was such that you would not care to turn out in it. So after the meeting was over, and the women gone home to the kainga, I waited expecting to hear at once who the man was, and what was his urgent business out in the bay in such heavy rain, and on Sunday. But no tidings came, so I sent one of the men from the station to enquire. He went but did not return. Later on we learnt the sad tale the messenger had brought. A collision had taken place, and numbers had been killed on both sides. But he could give no particulars. Next morning a strong south-east gale was blowing, and a heavy sea was rolling up the bay. I attempted to get my boat out, but was obliged to give it up. Even if I had succeeded, it would have been madness to strive 15 or 20 miles in the teeth, of the wind and sea. We had to rest in patience, though we were all a prey page 61to the greatest anxiety. Next morning (Tuesday) we managed with difficulty to launch the boat, and, with a strong crew of white men, pulled down to the principal whaling village in Port Underwood. There were the old chiefs and a tumultuous mob of their followers, wind and weather bound, exultant at their unexpected victory, and yet alarmed at the possible consequences when the Government should hear. Rangihaeata had urged that they should have plenty of utu (payment in revenge) beforehand, for Government would be sure to be angry. He wanted to make a clean sweep of the white people in Port Underwood. But Rawiri was firm in resisting this. When their murderous passions were excited they might imperil Mr Ironside and family, and he and his people would not let any harm come to them. Old Rauparaha, too, thought they had done enough, and they had better get away to their mountain fastnesses, inland of Manawatu, before the soldiers came. As it was utterly impossible to venture out in the whaleboat across the dozen miles of open sea to the mouth of the Wairau, and the bar would be dangerous, I landed in the cove, and went to see the old chiefs. They were sullen, and evidently in dread of the action of the authorities. But they justified their conduct. The Magistrate had begun it, wanting to handcuff them, and threatening them with the war party if they resisted.
"But," I said, "why did you kill Captain Wakefield and the other gentlemen, when they had given up their pistols and surrendered?"
"Well," said Rangihaeata, "they had killed his wife, Te Rongo, and they did not punish the murderer of Kuika," &c.
I then said I wished to go, seek out, and decently bury the slain. I supposed they had no objection.
"What do you want to go for? Better leave them to the wild pigs. But you can go if you like."
We could do nothing that day, so returned to Ngakuta dispirited and anxious. Next morning we ventured out, and at considerable risk got over the bar at the river's mouth. I wondered afterwards at our temerity, and at our wonderful escape. The Government brig had arrived the following day with the Magistrates from Port Nicholson, Charles Clifford, Colonel Wake-field, Henry St. Hill, and other gentlemen. But though the sea had gone down a good deal, they would not venture the bar till the next day. My party on landing at once started upon our mournful task. As soon as we arrived at Tua Muarina we began the search. One poor fellow, shot when crossing in the canoe, was found in the creek; one fearfully mangled, among the thick scrub on the banks; another some little distance away. These we buried where they lay. Others we found in ones and twos scattered round the hill. But the most dreadful spectacle of all was some twelve, including nearly all the gentlemen of the party, lying on a space about 15 to 20 feet square, all fearfully cut about the head, so that in some cases their features were hardly recognisable. We made a large deep grave, and laid them side by side in sadness and in tears, which none of us could restrain, reading over them the solemn, yet comforting and hopeful words of the funeral service. This was Friday, the 23rd. We had scarcely finished the mournful task of filling up the grave, when the gentlemen who had landed from the brig came up. We could not see the ship, and knew not of her arrival in the roadstead, or we would have waited for them to be present. Our party being now so much larger, a more thorough search of the outlying valleys was made, and one more unfortunate was discovered, to whom we gave decent burial; and then left the melancholy scene. I am glad that a Wesleyan Church is erected near the spot, and a good congregation is gathered there. The party got back to the mouth of the river too late to get on board the brig that night, so we found some of the surveyors' stores, made an improvised meal, and bivouacked for the night. Next day the whole party came with me to the station. We found it deserted—all the houses in the village stripped of everything—my poor, dear wife in great alarm for my safety. The natives wanted to take our domestics away with them. Two of them were slaves, but they said they would not leave mata (mother). She page 62gave the chiefs to whom they belonged a pair each of our largest and best blankets, and on those terms she was permitted to retain their services.
John Kidson was one of the boatmen who made their escape from the affray. After wandering about the bush, he contrived to reach the whaling station at Ocean Bay. Here he remained two days, and on the third day he went with the Rev. Mr. Ironside to assist in the search for the dead.
This witness has left a painfully realistic description of the shocking discoveries they made. Mr Patchett's was the first body found. He had been wounded early in the fight, and most probably died from the wound, but he had been brutally tomahawked afterwards. He had three wounds in his head. The weapon was driven in so deep with the last blow, that it had not been withdrawn, and it was got out with some difficulty. The body had been stripped, the clothes torn to pieces, and laid upon it. Tyrrell's body was in the water. He had been killed by a shot in the throat, the ball passing out at the back, just at the shoulder. Northam, who had advanced a little further, was struck in a precisely similar manner to Tyrrell. With the exception of these two, all had been tomahawked even when wounded or killed by gun-shots. Smith's body was found near the foot of the hill. Brooks, the interpreter, seems to have endeavoured to escape, as, when found, his body was some little distance from the others. He had been savagely mangled. His features were quite unrecognizable, and, but for his clothes, he could not have been identified.
Captain Wakefield lay on his back, his right arm thrown across his chest. He had been killed by a single stroke from in front, which cleft the skull and destroyed his features. Under his head the Maoris had placed a piece of damper (bread), and laid his pistol across his throat. Mr. Thompson lay a little on one side, with a quantity of hair in one hand, which he appeared to have pulled from his head the instant before he was tomahawked. He was struck from behind, and the features were not destroyed. Captain England's head had been cleft by a blow on the side. He lay on his back. Mr. Richardson was nearly doubled up, and lay on his side. His features were but little disfigured. Mr. Howard was much cut about the face. He appeared to have been struck below the mouth, as his teeth were driven upward. He was lying nearly on his face. MacGregor was also dreadfully cut, but Pay and Coster not so much. Mr Cotterell, the gentle Friend, was not much disfigured about the head, but was the only one who had been struck by a tomahawk in any part of the body. He had a deep wound in the lower part of his back. Ratchiffe and Clanzie were shot during the engagement, and their bodies were found in the stream after the arrival of the men from the brig.
Northam, Tyrrell, and Smith were buried in one grave; Mr. page 63Thompson, Captain Wakefled, Captain England, Mr Richardson, Mr Cotterell, Mr Howard, Bumforth, Cropper, Gardiner, Coster, Pay, MacGregor, and Brooks—thirteen in all—were buried together in another; and Ratcliffe and Clanzie in a third.
That following is a list of all the white men present at the affray:—
|Principal Surveyor||Mr. Tuckett||escaped.|
|Crown Prosecutor||Mr. Richardson||massacred.|
|Land agent||Mr. Patehett||killed.|
|Company's storekeeper||Mr. Howard||massacred.|
|Passenger of brig||Mr. Fergusson||do.|
|Chief Constable||—Maling died of wounds, body not found.|
|Constables||—Capper wounded, lost use of his hand.|
|—Coster||killed or massacred.|
|Special Constables||Edward Stokes||died of wounds.|
|John Bumforth||lost an arm.|
|Eli Cropper||killed or massacred.|
|Boatman||Thomas Pay||killed or massacred.|
|Men engaged on the Surveys||H. Eichardson||do|
|William Clanzie||killed or massacred.|
The awful news did not reach Nelson till about ten days after the massacre. It is impossible to depict the grief and hor-page 64ror of the people. There were few persons in the community who had not to lament the loss of a near relative or-valued friend. The noble-minded Wakefield was dead, leaving a void which the settlers despaired of ever seeing adequately filled; and with him had perished on that blood-stained hill many of the picked men of the new settlement.
Everything was at a standstill. Work both public and private was neglected; people collected in groups all day long; there was one all-engrossing subject of thought. Ms Alex. McDonald was the sole Magistrate left in the town; but two or three country Justices came in and assisted in taking depositions and devising measures for general protection, it being universally believed that an attack was probable.
The names of the male inhabitants of all classes were enrolled; some hundred sworn in as special constables, and divided into nightly watches, to be relieved at stated hours. At the general wish, it was resolved that those sworn in should be exercised and drilled in the use of firearms, which the Company served out. The Hon. Constantine A. Dillon and R. K. Newcome, Esq., undertook to drill these Volunteers. For the first few days the number attending was considerable; as the alarm subsided, it dwindled away; and it being impossible to compel attendance, in a few weeks the drilling ceased.
A fort was also begun on what we now call Church Hill, but with the subsidence of the alarm the work ceased, and the design was abandoned.
All the Maoris left Nelson on the arrival of the news, fully expecting vengeance would be taken by the whites in accordance with their own customs. It was some little tune before confidence was restored.
Resolutions were adopted at a public meeting to the effect that the massacre was attributable originally to the non-settlement of land claims, and the want of an independent Government, and that a memorial should be adopted to the Home Government, praying protection. A deputation consisting of Dr. Monro and Mr. A. Domett was sent to Auckland, to lay the views of the settlers before the Acting Governor.
The excitement gradually passed off, but the young settlement had received a shock from which it did not readily recover. Many people left the place, and all property became depreciated in value.
The following correspondence which passed between the Acting-Governor and the-deputation from Nelson, places very clearly before us the views taken of this lamentable affair, by the Local Government on the one hand, and the settlers of Nelson on the other:—
, August 7, 1843
Sir,—In accordance with your Excellency's permission, as intimated in page break page 65the interview which we had with you on Saturday last, we now submit to you in writing a statement of the reasons of our being deputed by our fellow settlers at Nelson to proceed to Auckland, and of the subjects upon which it would be highly satisfactory to them to receive an assurance of the views and intentions of Government.
The first object of our mission was to carry to the capital, without loss of time, the depositions taken by the magistrates at Nelson, and other documents connected with the deplorable calamity which had befallen that settlement; and though it may appear that a long period of time has elapsed between the occurrence of the disaster and the transmission of the documents connected with it to Auckland, still, when it is considered that ten days elapsed before any account of it at all reached Nelson; that it was then at least a fortnight before several of the witnesses who had been present in the affray arrived, some by sea and others overland; that there has been no opportunity for communication with the capital during that time; and that it ultimately was necessary to charter a vessel to convey us to Manukau, we trust your Excellency will acquit the settlement of negligence, or of losing time in forwarding to the seat of Government what authentic documents they were able to collect upon a subject of such vital importance to the colony.
At the same that we presented these documents to your Excellency, it was the wish of those who deputed us that we should represent the general opinion of the settlement upon the occurrence, and the light in which it is there viewed.
The depositions which your Excellency has received certainly laid before you the marked facts of the case, and constitute the basis of the opinion which you will form as to the right or the wrong of what has been done; but your Excellency must be at the same time aware that the most simple facts often admit of varying shades of interpretation, and that in no case can a just conclusion be arrived at until motives as well as actions are thoroughly understood.
We have no hesitation, then, in stating that it is the general opinion of the settlers at Nelson that our countrymen who were killed at the Wairau plain lost their lives in endeavouring to discharge their duty as magistrates and British subjects, obedient of British law, and that the persons by whom they were killed are murderers in the eyes of common sense and justice.
It is not our intention, after the interview with which your Excellency honoured us on Saturday, again to argue the case, but we may be allowed in a few words to recapitulate the main points upon which that opinion is founded at Nelson They are briefly as follow:—
In the first place, that the aborigines of New Zealand are British subjects and under British law.
In the second place, that they had burnt down a house, built by a servant of the New Zealand Company, upon land which it claims to have purchased, and which claim has not been proved to be invalid.
In the third place, that a warrant having been issued for the apprehension of the perpetrators of this outrage, its execution was resisted by a large body of the aborigines, with arms in their hands; and that, upon the unfortunate discharge of a gun, by accident, on the side of our countrymen (no orders to fire having been given), they fired upon those who were endeavouring to put the law in execution, and shot several of them.
In the fourth place, that the majority of our countrymen having fled, those who remained laid down what arms they had and surrendered themselves prisoners, and that, after a lapse of some time, unresisting, and without the power of resistance, they were savagely and deliberately massacred.
As to the motives which induced our late lamented Police Magistrate to issue the warrant, we conscientiously believe them to have been none other than those of duty.
As to the imputed charge of rashness and want of deliberation, which we have heard advanced, we may observe that the Police Magistrate had the page 66advice of three other magistrates, and their unanimous concurrence; and we may further mention that the question was one which had not then for the first time presented itself; it had months before been examined and deliberated upon. Upon the occasion of a similar outrage having been perpetrated by Ranghaeita, at Ports Nicholson, and a warrant for his apprehension having been refused, Mr Thompson, in conversation with one of us, expressed his opinion that such conduct was calculated to weaken the influence of British law upon the native mind, and to lead to the belief of impunity in the commission of still further outrages.
And we cannot but observe now, that, had that former offence of his been dealt in a decided manner, as in law and justice we conceive it should have been, this dreadful calamity might never have occurred, by which so much life has been lost, so many men of the highest moral and intellectual rank have miserably perished, the relation between the two races been rendered, to say the least of it, precarious, and the civilization of New Zealand undoubtedly thrown back.
In stating what we have done above, we are aware that we shall be met by the argument that it is not for us to prejudge the case, or to decide upon the legality of what has passed, or to determine the offence of which any one has been guilty; such questions belonging to the courts of law, and for their Consideration alone. But your Excellency will allow us to suggest that there are cases of such a nature, and evidence often of such a kind, that the public mind comes at once to a decision, without waiting for the more formal conclusions of the law. The case before us is one of these: and while every one would most heartily deprecate any active step taken upon such a decision, and be contented that law and justice should take their course, still we should be imperfectly fulfilling the mission with which we are intrusted, did we not make known to your Excellency the light in which the conduct of the aborigines, on this occasion, is viewed by the settlers of Nelson, who feel that the enormity of their crime is so distinct that the vengeance of the law should certainly overtake them, and confidently expect that they will be brought before its tribunal as soon as a sufficient force shall be collected to render its mandates irresistible.
The settlers of Nelson look forward with great anxiety to the steps which the Local Government shall adopt. They have observed with indignation an attempt on the part of the Government representative at Port Nicholson to screen the aborigines, at the same time that he threw blame upon the British, by a public statement at variance with the facts of the case, and directly opposed to the evidence of one of our most respectable settlers at Nelson (Mr Tuckett), which had been taken by him before his public statement was made.
We hope, however, to be enabled to convey to them, on the part of your Excellency, an assurance that the case shall not be prejudged, that impartial justice shall be done, and that the penalties of the law shall certainly overtake those whom its verdicts shall pronounce to be guilty.
Another object of our deputation is, to represent to your Excellency the unprotected state of our settlement; but we are spared the necessity of enlarging upon this point by the promptitude with which your Excellency has despatched the half of the troops at your disposal to Cook's Straits. We trust, however, that, considering how much the settlers of Nelson are dispersed some in the Waimea, others at the Motueka, others again in Massacre Bay—engaged in agricultural pursuits and otherwise, Major Richmond will consider it expedient to station a certain portion of the force under his direction at Nelson.
We have but one other subject to bring before the notice of your Excel lency. Several of the constables who lost their lives at the Wairau have left behind them wives and children, now utterly destitute. These men were acting under the orders of the Police Magistrate, and of course in no wise responsible. It is confidently trusted that the Government will make some page 67provision for the widows and children of those who have lost their lives in its service.
We have the honor to remain, &c.,
(Signed) D. Monro, J.P.
To D. Monro, Esq., J.P., and Alfred Domett, Esq.
Colonial Secretary's Office, Auckland,August 9, 1843.
—I am directed by the Officer administering the Government to acknowledge the receipt of your statement, dated the 7th instant, of the reasons of your being deputed by your fellow settlers at Nelson to proceed to Aucnland, pf their opinions upon the lamentable occurrence at Wairau, the light in which it is viewed by them, and of the subjects upon which it would be satisfactory to them to receive an assurance of the views and intentions of Government relative to the deplorable calamity which has befallen the settlement.
His Excellency received with deep concern the intelligence of an outrage not only attended by a fearful loss of human life, but calculated to impair the confidence which has hitherto subsi ted between the two races, and indirectly to retard the prosperity of the colony. For the irreparable loss the settlers of Nelson have sustained, in so many, so highly, and so justly valued lives, his Excellency desires me to convey to them his deep and heartfelt sympathy.
For the recent bloodshed, I am to observe, an awful responsibility has been incurred. What is the degree of criminality of those concerned in the fatal conflict, and on whom that criminality chiefly rests, are questions on which no opinion can be expressed, as the transaction may become the subject of judicial inquiry; but, whatever may be the crime, and who may be the criminals, it is but too clear that the event we must all deplore has arisen from several parties of surveyors, without the knowledge or concurrence of the Local Government, proceeding to take possession of and to survey a tract of land, in opposition to the original native owners, who have uniformly denied the sale of it.
With a view to prevent the recurrence of such an evil, and that no reason may be given to the New Zealanders to doubt the good faith of her Majesty's solemn assurance that their territorial rights as owners of the soil should be recognised and respected, his Excellency has caused a proclamation to be issued warning all persons claiming land in this colony, in cases where the claim is denied or disputed by the original native owners, from exercising acts of ownership on or otherwise prejudicing the question of title to the same, until the question of ownership shall have been heard and determined by one of her Majesty's Commissioners appointed to investigate claims to land in this colony.
For the information of the settlers at Nelson, I am desired to state that one of her Majesty's Commissioners had appointed the end of June last to investigate claims to land in the valley of the Wairau, and, but for the recent fatal collision, all claims in that district would in all probability at this moment have been disposed of.
His Excellency would avail himself of the present occasion to remind the settlers of Nelson and the colonists generally of the principles upon which the British Government undertook the colonization of this country. That the Queen, in common with her Majesty's predecesser, disclaimed for herself and her subjects every pretension to seize upon the Islands of New Zealand; that, by the Treaty of Waitangi, her Majesty has guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands; and that, in the Royal instructions, under the sign manual, her Majesty has distinctly established the general principle that the territorial rights of the natives as owners of the soil must be recognised and respected.page 68
With reference to the statement contained in your communication that the natives "had burnt down a house built by a servant of the New Zealand Company, upon land which it claims to have purchased, and which claim has not yet been proved to be invalid," I am directed by his Excellency to say, that he feels himself called upon to remind you that, with regard to all lands in the colony acquired under any other title than that of grants made in the name, and on behalf of, her Majesty, her Majesty's Government have determined "that the title of the claimants should be subjected to the investigation of a Commissioner to be appointed for that purpose;" that, by virtue of the provisions of the Land Claims Ordinance, all lands which have been validly sold by the aboriginal natives have been vested in her Majesty as demesne lands of the Crown; and that, with reference to the claims of the New Zealand Company to land in this colony, by the terms of an agreement entered into between the Company and her Majesty's Government, they are to have assigned to them, subject to the investigation of the Commissioner, in consideration of past expenditure, land in blocks of a prescribed size and figure, to be selected by them, under the sanction of the Local Government; and that they forego and disclaim all title, or pretence of title, to any lands purchased or acquired by them in New Zealand, other than the lands so to be granted to them.
His Excellency deems it proper now to inform you that the New Zealand Company has not selected any block of land in the valley of the Wairau, nor has the Local Government yet received any intimation that it is the intention of the Company to select a block in that district.
A detachment of the 96th Regiment has been despatched to Port Nicholson, and placed at the disposal of Major Richmond, to be employed by him in maintaining peace in the Southern District. His Excellency has, however, great satisfaction in being able to assure the settlers in the south, that he sees no ground to apprehend any unprovoked aggression from the native population.
In conclusion, I am instructed to say that no time has been lost in supplying the vacancies in the several important Public Offices, occasioned by the late deplorable catastrophe; and the settlers of Nelson may confidently rely on all means in the power of the Local Government being used to promote the advancement of that settlement. It will scarcely be necessary for his Excellency to give the assurance you require, "that the case shall not be prejudged, that impartial justice shall be done, and that the penalties of the law shall certainly overtake those whom its verdict shall pronounce to be guilty."
I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient servant.
(For the Colonial Secretary),
A memorial to Sir Geo. Gipps, Governor of New South Wales, had been sent by the settlers of Wellington, and he immediately despatched H.M.S. North Star, 28 guns, under Captain Sir Everard Home, to Auckland, with 50 men of the 80th Regiment on board, under Captain Best. The frigate had her full complement of blue-jackets and marines, and was amply provided with ammunition, provisions, and stores. On her arrival Mr. Shortland ordered her to proceed southward, touch at Wellington, and "show herself along the Coast." She arrived at Wellington on 31st August. After consulting Major Richmond the officer in command at Wellington, Captain Home came to the conclusion that there was no reason to apprehend any attack by the Maoris upon the Europeans, and he prepared to return page 69to Sydney. Colonel Wakefield eagerly remonstrated with Major Richmond, and urged the necessity of making a demonstration at least in the Straits. He also urged the recovery of the Company's boat which the Navives had taken after the Wairau Massacre, and refused to give up. Mr. White, the Acting Police Magistrate at Nelson, also wrote to Major Richmond, and Sir Everard Home, after perusing these letters, changed his mind and determined to proceed to Nelson. Major Richmond accompanied him. He proceeded first to Mana, but could not find either Rauparaha or Rangihaeta. They then proceeded to the residence of the Revd Mr. Hadfield, at Waikanae, where they met these Chiefs. Rauparaha wanted a pledge that if the boat were given up, the quarrel should terminate—this Major Richmond declined to give. Eventually he gave them a letter, armed with which they proceeded to Porirua, lay at anchor all next day being Sunday, and on Monday morning went ashore, and were assisted in launching the boat by forty natives, all in the greatest good humour. The next day the North Star came over to Nelson, arriving the same evening.
It had more than once been suggested that the Government would not take action against the perpetrators of the massacre, because no warrant had been issued for their apprehension. To remove this objection an application was made to the Police Magistrate while the frigate was here. Mr Fox, as Chairman of the Committee of Safety, was the applicant. The Police Magistrate said he could not recognise such a body. Mr. Fox then applied in his private capacity. Fresh evidence was given, but the Police Magistrate declined granting a warrant, on the plea of not having sufficient power to execute it. Mr. Fox suggested that the assistance of the frigate should be obtained, but Captain Howe "declined the honor" of executing a warrant, Mr. Fox renewed his application to the Justices of the Peace, and they granted it. The Justices were D. Monro, G. Duppa, C. A. Dillon, and J. S. Tytler. They all signed the warrant, which, however, was never executed.
Sir Everard Home visited the Pahs of Motueka and Wakapuaka in company with Major Richmond, Captain Best, and Mr, White. He satisfied himself that all the reports of preparation making by the natives were entirely false. "From all I have been able to see," says Sir Everard in his report, "I am of opinion that none of the Settlements in the parts of New Zealand I have visited, have anything to fear from the natives, so long as they are fairly dealt with. At Nelson a force is wanted, not to repel the attacks of the natives, but to restrain and keep in subjection the English labourers brought over by the New Zealand Company, who have, I believe, been in open rebellion against their employers more than once. At that place also, the general feeling appears to be more to revenge the death of their page 70friends than to wish impartial justice to be done; and vengeance and revenge are words that I have heard used when speaking of that affair."
The people of Nelson had also memorialised Sir Eardley Wilmot, the Governor of Van Dieman's Land, who promptly despatched the "Emerald Isle" with 100 soldiers. But Captain Nicholson, the officer in command of the troops, had orders from his military superiors not to disembark them unless he found the settlers in actual collision with the Maoris.
This not being the case the ship sailed away again. Some of the settlers thought of applying to the French frigate, then cruising in New Zealand waters. Major Eichmond was asked if he would consent to this application. He replied, "He should consider it a stain on the British arms."
The Wairau Massacre attracted attention even in Europe. It completely stopped for a time emigration to New Zealand, and called forth the sympathy of people not only in Great Britain, but also on the Continent. In Paris it was proposed to raise a subscription to enable the unfortunate settlers to return home.
* Now the Hon. J. W. Barnicoat, M.L.C.