Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Woman Who Saw Captain Cook
Woman Who Saw Captain Cook
Whilst Mr. McLean was at Turanganui, Rawiri, “who seemed a sensible, well-behaved man,” had a long conversation with him on various subjects, including the methods of punishment which Europeans meted out in cases of theft and other crimes. He also met there Hine Kapu, “an old deformed woman, shrunken with age.” She told him that she remembered seeing Captain Cook, and gave an account of the slaying of Te Rakau and of the wounding of another native. If, as she claimed, she was 16 years old in 1769, her age in 1851 was 98 years. Mr. McLean says that her intellect was quite clear, and that she was able to describe minutely every small circumstance connected with Cook's visit.
As Te Kani was anxious that another korero should be held, Mr. McLean spent another day with him at Turanganui. He found that the great Uawa chief knew that New Zealand was only an insignificant part of the Queen's possessions. Te Kani told him that he had always been fond of Europeans; that he made whalers and others welcome at his pa; and that any that were in want were supplied with clothes as well as food. Mr. McLean told him that his kindnesses to Europeans would not be forgotten by the Government.
It was made plain to Te Kani by Mr. McLean that his main object in wishing to meet him was to explain the land transactions that he had in view in Hawke's Bay and the Wairarapa. Te Kani advised him that purchases of blocks in those districts should precede any purchases in Poverty Bay. Quite frankly, he told him that Turanga had too many chiefs; that they were inclined to be childish; and that they required a lot of time in which to consider any matter. He assured him that, when they were agreed, he would regard the purchase of a township site as a good move. [Probably, Mr. McLean had not previously been page 181 aware of the saying: “Turanga rite tangata” (“All the chiefs at Turanga are of equal standing.”)]
On the day before his departure, Mr. McLean bought from “Yankee” Smith a saddle as a gift for Te Kani. Payment was made by means of a cheque for £4 drawn on Bethune and Hunter, of Wellington. This firm had opened in 1840 and is still (1949) in business. Te Kani was immensely pleased when Mr. McLean remarked that he would like to have a horse as good as his black mount. “Then you shall,” was his reply. He sent for the horse, which was named “Tokorakau,” and, with some degree of graceful action, placed the animal, saddled up, before the visitor. The price was fixed at £30. Being without funds, Mr. McLean had to appeal to Smith, who gave Te Kani £10 in cash on account, and promised to make up the difference with goods.
Upon farewelling Mr. McLean in the morning, Te Kani made “a nice speech.” He advised him that, in any future dealings with the chiefs of Turanga, he should take his time before assenting to any offer that they might make. Mr. McLean then presented him with the saddle, explaining that it was not a private gift, but a token of the regard in which the Queen and the Governor held him on account of his extreme kindness to all the Europeans whom he had befriended. Te Kani mentioned that he would prefer to have the balance of the purchase money for the horse in cash, adding that Mr. McLean could take his time in making the payment. As a parting indication of the high esteem in which he held Te Kani, Mr. McLean gave him some wine and beer for his homeward journey!