The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864
Copy of leter [sic: letter] from Mr T. H. Smith, Civil Commissioner, Tauranga, to the Colonial Secretary, as to the loyalty of the natives of the Bay of Plenty.
Sir,—I have the honour to forward, for the information of His Excellency's Government, copy of a letter addressed by me this day to Col. Carey, the officer commanding H.M. Forces at Tauranga.
On my arrived here this afternoon, I waited upon Col. Carey, and learnt from him that his instructions were to regard all natives living on the West side of Tauranga Harbour as rebels—to take their cattle, and destroy or gather their crops. As I believe that the carrying out of these instructions would be productive of results which I cannot suppose to be contemplated by the Government, I have felt it my duty to state my opinion on the subject; more especially as I have already despatched circular letters throughout this District, assuring the natives in the words of your Memoranda forwarded to me at Maketu this morning by Mr Baker “that the object of the expedition is to act as a check on the movements of Waikato sympathisers, but that unless forced upon them, active hostilities are not contemplated, and in any case will be only carried on against open rebels.” The assurance contained in my letters, and the intelligence that an indiscriminate seizure and destruction of property had taken place here, would be so much at page 54 variance, that I could hardly expect any statement I might make in future to be received as worthy of confidence. As the mail leaves in the morning, I am anxious not to miss the opportunity of bringing this matter under notice, and of suggesting the desirability of modifying the instructions given to Colonel Carey.
I have to report that the news of the arrival of the expedition at Tauranga, appears to have caused much satisfaction at Maketu, where there are now many of the Arawa chiefs from inland. The natives here, also those living on the East side of the harbour, express themselves satisfied with the result of their interview with Colonel Carey.
THOMAS H. SMITH, C.C.
22nd January, 1864.
Copy of letter from Mr T. H. Smith, Civil Commissioner, to Colonel Carey.
Sir,—Referring to the subject of our conversation to-day, I take the liberty of repeating, in an official communication, the opinion I then expressed as to the probable result of treating all natives residing on the Western side of Tauranga Harbour as rebels, and proceeding to take their cattle, and destroy their crops.
I am satisfied that any such indiscriminate seizure, and destruction of property, would inflict injury upon many innocent persons, and that its effect would be to increase the number of the disaffected, to precipitate hostilities here, and to induce other tribes to take up arms, who might otherwise remain quiet.
I am of opinion that the occupation of Tauranga by Her Majesty's Forces will have a salutary effect upon the resident natives, and upon the tribes living on the coast between this and the East Cape, who may thus be deterred from attempting to reinforce the insurgents at Waikato, if it is understood that a force has been stationed here for the purpose of intercepting armed parties proceeding by this route. Should, however, a collision occur here arising out of any act which would be regarded as an aggression upon persons who are not, and have not been in arms against the Government, it is probable that many tribes now professing neutrality, would rise, and make common cause against the Government. Though true that the majority of the natives on the Western side of Tauranga sympathise with Waikato, and that many of them have joined the insurgents, yet there are very many individuals, and more than one considerable section of a tribe who have not committed themselves. To attempt to ascertain correctly, what property belonged to rebels, and what to persons not implicated in page 55 the rebellion, would be useless. Information obtained from the natives themselves would not be trustworthy, and it could not be obtained from any other source. If the object of the Government be to minimise the number of insurgents at the present seat of war without creating another if it can be avoided, I believe that this object is most likely to be attained by abstaining from offensive operations here, at least, while the resident natives refrain from any hostile demonstration.
T. H. SMITH,
Bay of Plenty.
22nd January, 1864.