History of New Zealand
Chapter vii. — The Wairau
While the acting Governor and Mr. Spain were striving to settle the burning question of Maori titles, Lord Stanley was issuing instructions to the new Governor, Captain Robert Fitzroy, R.N. Captain Fitzroy had not left England when the perversity of the company's agents precipitated the strife which Spain and Hobson had laboured to avert. The darling object of the company's agents was to provoke the Maori into contest with the Queen's authority. For this, Wicksteed at Taranaki, and Wakefield at Wellington, had applied for a summons or warrant. For this, knowing that the proud spirit of Rangihaeata would not submit to fetters or imprisonment, application had been made to Chief Justice Martin for a bench-warrant. Face to face, per fas aut nefas, the races must be brought, and in the struggle the company's defective titles might be made good. Spain's antiquated notions about justice must be frustrated, if need be, by violence.
Mr. Tuckett, the principal surveyor at Nelson, went thence on the 27th May, to aid his three subordinates; but before his arrival Rauparaha and Rangihaeata had made their appearance. The chiefs arrived on the 1st June, and when Tuckett followed, on the 3rd, he found that they had destroyed Mr. Cotterell's hut, and had removed his effects without injuring them. Rauparaha declared that as the hut was built of materials taken from his land, he had a right to destroy it. He made his followers assist in carrying the surveyors' property to the boats. Cotterell, with a letter to Captain Wakefield, went to Nelson, and on the 12th June laid an information against Rauparaha and Rangihaeata for burning his hut. Mr. H. A. Thompson, the police magistrate, Protector of aborigines, and Government representative at Nelson, issued a warrant to apprehend the chiefs, on a charge of arson. Captain Wakefield, with equal unwisdom, wrote boastfully to his brother on the 13th: “The magistrates have granted a warrant, and Thompson, accompanied by myself, England, and a lot of constables are off immediately in the Government brig to execute it. We shall muster about sixty, so I think we shall overcome these travelling bullies.”
2 Ibid., p. 147.
1 The reader may be pleased to see in what estimation Puaha was held. In the volumes on native affairs in the Middle Island, printed in 1873 by the New Zealand Government, it is said: “Rawiri Puaha (who played so conspicuous a part in his efforts to prevent bloodshed at the unfortunate Wairau massacre, and whose anxiety to effect a peaceable settlement of the disputed question which originated the affray, as also his interference on subsequent occasions to maintain peace between the two races, are well known matters of history) died at his own village, Takapuahia, Porirua harbour, on 6th September, 1858. His health had been declining for many years;… when any important question had to be discussed the fire of the decaying warrior brightened up, and his powers of oratory and the influence he possessed, combined with the prestige of his reputation, gave almost irresistible weight to his opinion. He always acted in a calm, decided, yet impartial manner in settling quarrels and disputes among his own people, and maintained a high character as a consistent and conscientious Christian. He was born at Kawhia… and was descended in the famous canoe Tainui.”Puaha accompanied Rauparaha on his migration from Kawhia and southern conquests, and was married to Waitohi a daughter of Te Pehi, whose death at Kaiapoi preceded the revenge taken by Rauparaha with the aid of Stewart, the master of the ‘Elizabeth.’
1 At first it was attempted to show that it was doubtful from which side the first shot was fired. But a careful analysis of the evidence leaves no doubt upon the point. When it was established it was further alleged that the first shot must have been accidental, but of this no evidence was adduced. The police magistrate finally came to the conclusion (14th July) that the conflict “originated from an accidental shot from one of the European party.”
Mr. Whiteley, a Wesleyan missionary at Taranaki, wrote: “By Rangihaeata's own law he was required to do this, and it was a matter of honour that he should thus revel in revenge (for his wife's death), and cease not till he had made a full end. Rauparaha could not interfere, because he too was injured.”In his scorn of the Maori and his laws, Captain Wakefield had plunged with a light heart into an affray which aroused not only the passions but the superstition of the race. With Wakefield fell Thompson the magistrate; Mr. Richardson, the Crown Prosecutor at Nelson (also editor of a newspaper at Nelson); Cotterell the surveyor; an interpreter, and others. Nineteen bodies were found. Four Maoris were killed. Mr. Tuckett, the surveyor, was one who escaped. By means of a whale-boat he returned to the brig, crossed the Straits, and on the following day told the harrowing tale to a special meeting of magistrates at Wellington; not knowing the fate of those who had been captured. The excitement and indignation of the European community were intense. It was stunned, but not intimidated. The martial spirits wished to organize a band of volunteers and pursue Rauparaha to the death. Wiser men knew that if a national feud should then arise the whole of the Europeans could be swept from the earth in a few days. Just men knew that the cause of quarrel was unjust. The police magistrate, McDonough, was in the chair. Spain the Commissioner was present, with eleven other magistrates. It was determined that the police magistrate, Spain, Colonel Wakefield, Dr. Evans, Mr. Clifford, and others should proceed to the Wairau and endeavour to obtain the release of any page 332 prisoners. The massacre of the captives was then unknown. After delay from adverse winds the fatal spot was reached. Spain had stipulated with Colonel Wakefield that the survey should not be resumed until the question was settled. The horror of his brother's death perhaps made the resolute man submit to terms which he might otherwise have resisted. At Cloudy Bay Spain and his companions took down evidence as to the massacre from those who had escaped, and from a missionary, Mr. Ironside. At Wellington, meantime, McDonough published notices enjoining peacefulness on both sides. Rauparaha after the affray had buried the four Maori dead, crossed the Straits, and retired to Otaki. A Wesleyan missionary, Mr. Ironside, who met him on the 20th, asked if he might bury the Europeans. Rauparaha consented. The bodies, mangled by tomahawk, but not for cannibalism, were found, and the Wesleyan minister read over their graves the burial service of The Church of England. Under the head of Captain Wakefield Mr. Ironside found a piece of bread, placed there as an insult to the Pakeha chief. By Maori usage nothing common should be put near a chief's head, and bread was common. Mr. Ironside found and buried nineteen bodies.
The inquiry by the magistrates revealed the facts. On the 29th June, the magistrates met again at McDonough's house. Colonel Wakefield was not present. Dr. Evans related the tale of the Wairau fight and massacre; and on his motion, seconded by the Hon. J. Petre, it was resolved, “that Mr. Spain, the Commissioner of Land Claims, be requested to go in his capacity as one of the magistrates to communicate to the native chiefs and tribes in Cook's Straits their determination, which is not to make or to sanction any attempt to take vengeance for the death of the white men at Wairau, but to leave the whole matter to the decision of the Queen's Government, who will inquire into it and decide according to law.”
Dr. Evans was a prominent person in the New Zealand Company. He had been intended to act as their jurist, until it was discovered that without the aid of the Crown they could set up no jurisdiction. He had gone to Sydney to negotiate with Sir George Gipps about their lands; and he was now deputed by the magistrates to go to Auckland to represent the facts connected page 333 with “the late lamentable catastrophe at Wairau, Cloudy Bay.”From Nelson, Dr. Monro and Mr. Alfred Domett were sent thither on the same errand.
Acting Governor Shortland issued a proclamation (12th July), warning all claimants to land whose claims were disputed by natives, against “exercising acts of ownership thereon, or other wise 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.”He authorized also the issue, in the Native Government Gazette, of a narrative, deploring the conflict, declaring the subsequent slaughter very bad in the estimation of Europeans, and announcing that lands not sold by the natives would not be taken from them. He appointed Major Richmond of the 96th Regiment, chief magistrate of the southern districts, and sent a small body of the regiment from Auckland to Wellington. Shortland told Lord Stanley that the rash step taken by Thompson and his companions in going to apprehend Rauparaha, was in his opinion “not only illegal, but in the highest degree unjustifiable,”the question of ownership being unsettled, and about to be considered by the Commissioner. The effects of the catastrophe he “feared to calculate.”To coerce the natives was impossible without “an overpowering regular force.”The natives would universally resist infringement of their landed rights, and of the treaty regarding them, and they were superior in arms to undisciplined Englishmen. He concurred with all others in lauding Captain Wakefield. Nothing but ignorance of the land question and of the native character could have led him into the false step which Thompson and Richardson, usually excellent officers, had joined in taking. As to arresting Rauparaha it was out of the question. His countrymen would, to a man, side with him, believing that he had only defended his honour and his life. The indignant chieftain had carried off with him the handcuffs intended for himself, to show the natives the indignity prepared for them.
From Spain, and from Swainson, Shortland received opinions concurring with his own as to the ill-advised endeavour to arrest Rauparaha. Swainson not only declared that the natives could not lawfully be harassed, but that the proceedings of Mr. page 334 Thompson having been illegal, the European survivors had in strictness incurred the legal guilt of a capital offence. Spain reported that “independent of the depositions, which are very strong upon the point, all the information I have obtained goes to show that in the commencement the natives exhibited the greatest possible forbearance, and evinced the utmost repugnance to fight with the Europeans, requesting that the matter might be referred to me for decision.”
At a later date, after careful inquiry into the whole matter, Spain summed it up thus (23rd September, 1843): “Not long before the collision at the Wairau, Rauparaha and Rangihaeata went to Nelson, when Captain Wakefield, the company's resident agent, wished to make them a payment for the Wairau, but they positively refused to sell it, and told him that they would never part from it… The Wairau is situate seventy miles from Nelson (where the agreement in England permitted the company to select land), and the company had never informed me, nor I believe the Government, of its intention to take a block there. The survey was commenced only two months before the affray took place, the agent to the company being well aware that the natives had always disputed the sale of the district. I have given the whole subject my best and most attentive consideration, and I have arrived at the conclusion that the conduct of the company's agents, in forcing a survey of the Wairau, can only be regarded as an attempt to set British law at defiance and to obtain possession of a tract of land the title to which was disputed, and at the very time under the consideration of a Commissioner specially appointed to report upon it.”At a still later date Spain added that “no evidence of the purchase has been adduced by the company's agent;”that there was no proof “in any way that the district was ever alienated to the company by the parties from whom that body asserts, through its agent, that it has been purchased; and I entertain no apprehension that a candid and impartial perusal of the evidence will ever lead to any other conclusion.”
Such was the quarrel in which Colonel Wakefield measured swords with “the old savage”whose land he hoped to acquire, and to whose reign “to put an end.”In spite of Hobson and page 335 Shortland, and of Lord Stanley, the honour of England had been stained in a cause which would not bear the light of day. An honourable ally, a high-spirited race, were roughly estranged by a land-trafficker ready to “bite the holy cords atwain which were too intrinse to unloose.”An Iliad of woe was entailed upon the Maoris; and a sense of shame upon English soldiers who, while gallantly carrying their country's flag, felt that it ought never to have waved in such a quarrel. Lord Stanley had to determine without the help of Spain's later opinions. He had before him the various contemporary accounts of the occurrence. He had seen the fiery zeal with which the extreme section of the settlers demanded military reinforcements and savage revenge upon Rauparaha. Without entering on the unsettled claim to the land, he was compelled to decide that the expedition to arrest Rauparaha was manifestly unlawful, unjust, and unwise. No law forbade the chief to destroy the hut erected on the land. No responsibility could fall upon the natives who did but exercise the rights of self-defence, after urging with temper and strong reasons their objection to yield as prisoners of war. Even as to the revolting slaughter of the captives, there was the apology that the savage antagonists were “kindled by the violent death of a wife and daughter protecting her husband's person at the sacrifice of her own.”As to Swainson's repeated arguments that the Queen's sovereignty over the islands was disputable, they had been condemned by Lord Stanley before, and must “henceforward be silenced.”Implicit acquiescence in the doctrine laid down by Parliament was “an indispensable condition of tenure of any public office in the colony.”Fitzroy was to endeavour by “conciliation, sincerity, and firmness,”to repair the error committed at Cloudy Bay.
When Rauparaha left the scene of the massacre, he must have felt that whatever hatred had actuated the company's servants before, would be intensified by his slaughter of Captain Wake-field and his friends. He hastily crossed the stormy strait to rejoin the main body of his countrymen, and weary and wet with the spray which swept continually over himself and his few followers arrived at Waikanae. The cultured Hadfield has assured me that never did he see such marvellous effects of oratory and of action. The Ngatiawa and others, assembled to page 336 hear him, seemed unsympathizing, and the old man spoke or affected to speak with difficulty, coughing frequently as though from suffering or infirmity.
But his narrative enchained them; and when, holding up his hands as if manacled in view of all, he said : “Why should they seek to fetter me ? I am old and weak; I must soon pass away. What could they gain by enslaving me ?—by fastening irons on these poor old hands ? No; that is not what they seek. It is because through my person they hope to dishonour you. If they can enslave me they think they degrade the whole Maori race.”
The demeanour of his hearers changed. They seemed to thirst for war. One of Hadfield's Maori assistants ran to entreat him to interrupt the meeting by summoning the people to prayers; otherwise Rauparaha's eloquence would carry them away to wreak his will. There was already danger, and the advice was adopted. The bell which summoned to Divine Service silenced for that night the tocsin of war.
On the following morning Rauparaha addressed his own people, the Ngatitoa, at Otaki, and Hadfield could hardly believe his eyes. Not bowed down, nor shrinking from the cold; not appealing for pity or sympathy; but erect and imperious, nay, jubilant and confident, he called upon his countrymen to avenge the insult cast upon them. “Now is the time to strike. You see now what the glozing pretences of the Pakeha are worth; you know now what they mean in their hearts; you know now that you can expect nothing but tyranny and injustice at their hands. Come forward and sweep them from the land which they have striven to bedew with our blood.”
The Ngatitoa required little instigation, and would, with their allies, have marched direct upon Wellington but for the restraining influences of Hadfield and the authority of Te Rangitake. The biographer of Bishop Selwyn believed that, humanly speaking, Hadfield prevented the extension of war and massacre. Hadfield, better informed, attributed the result to his friend, Te Rangitake. Long years afterwards (1860) he stated at the bar of the New Zealand House of Representatives that Wiremu Kingi te Rangitake was mainly instrumental in preventing a combined attack upon Wellington. “He rejected page 337 the proposal of Rauparaha and Rangihaeata to join them in it, and exercised the whole of his influence to prevent any of his tribe from doing so.”During Hadfield's absence for a few days they renewed their persuasions, but Te Rangitake “again positively declined to take any part in such a proceeding.”
How the colonists returned evil for good the treatment which the chief received at the Waitara in 1859 will show. Their debt to him may be inferred from the following paragraph in a petition sent, after the Wairau massacre, to Parliament by the inhabitants of Wellington, in which (signed by the mayor and seven hundred persons) it was averred: “That it is in the power of the aborigines at any time to massacre the whole of the British population in Cook's Straits, and that Rauparaha has been known to declare that he will do it.”
Mr. Spain hastily sought Rauparaha when requested (29th June) by the magistrate to do so. It was feared that, apprehensive of retaliation, the Maoris would attack Wellington before succour could be obtained. Riding over bad roads, through tangled forests, Spain found Rauparaha at Waikanae. “Rauparaha,”he said, “is the most talented native I have seen in New Zealand. He is mild and gentlemanly in his manner and address; a most powerful speaker, and his argumentative faculties are of a first-rate order.”For better security all the Cloudy Bay Maoris had withdrawn with Rauparaha to the Northern Island.
The tribe assembled at a “korero,”to hear Spain, who spoke through an interpreter. The Maoris were wrong if they supposed that Englishmen would slay indiscriminately in retaliation. The Governor only could decide whether any of those engaged at the Wairau should be punished. Meantime there would be no aggression against the Maoris. The principal chief said: “Your words are very good, but who can tell what will be the words of the Governor?”Spain replied: “Have you not known me long, and have I ever deceived you?”This was accepted with favour by the tribe, and the chief agreed that the Europeans should not be molested by his people. Rauparaha had crept into the assembly and sat behind the chiefs. When they had concluded conference he rose and “made a most powerful speech.”He narrated all that occurred page 338 at Wairau, and “asked with energy, ‘Is this the justice the Queen of England promised to the Maoris? You are not satisfied with having taken all our land from us, but you send a Queen's ship, headed by a Queen's officer, to fire upon us and kill us.’”
Spain explained that a warrant to apprehend did not imply a foregone conclusion as to guilt. Had Rauparaha surrendered he might have given bail till the day of trial, and neither the Governor nor the Queen knew of the issue of the warrant. The slaughter of the captives had excited horror. For this Rauparaha was “very sorry,”and attributed it to Rangihaeata's passion at the death of his wife.
“After this he cross-examined me with as much acumen as if I had undergone that ordeal in Westminster Hall by any member of the English bar.”Was not the object to quiet them, to gain time, to assemble troops, and then attack them? Spain shaped his answers cautiously, aiming at peace. Rauparaha replied: “I hope you will at all events act as a gentleman.”Spain trusted he had always done so. “What special meaning was in Rauparaha's mind?”“Why, if the Governor should decide upon sending soldiers to take me and Rangihaeata, will you send and let us know when they arrive? because you need not take the trouble to send up here for us. If you will only send I will come down to Port Nicholson with a thousand Maoris and fight with the Pakehas. If they beat us they shall have New Zealand and we will be their slaves, but if we beat them they must stand clear.”
Spain proceeded to Otaki and there were more meetings. The chiefs then announced that if any attempt should be made to seize Rauparaha and Rangihaeata they would join them in fighting the English. Had the Maoris been wrong in the beginning they would not have interfered; but the white people had been unjust. The chiefs had received Rauparaha and Rangihaeata as friends, and would defend them to the last. Spain pledged himself on the part of the English that they would not attack the Maoris without further provocation, and returned to Wellington in peace.
Mr. E. J. Wakefield informs us that he received a message from Rauparaha asking whether there was to be peace or war, and inviting him to a korero at Otaki.page 339
After Spain's retirement, Mr. E. J. Wakefield passed through the district, and saw Rauparaha. It was natural that the nephew should refuse the hand which seemed to him red with the blood of his uncle. Rauparaha “acknowledged the propriety”of the refusal, and said, “It is good.”He proceeded to harangue Wakefield upon the Wairau affray, but when Wakefield rose in umbrage to depart, it was promised that the subject should not be mentioned. Other matters were debated. Then it was that Wakefield was struck with unbounded admiration of the imperious eloquence of Rauparaha when he rebuked E Ahu, and told the Ngatiraukawa that they might abandon him, but that he, Rauparaha, would fight the soldiers alone, while all the conscious Maoris seemed to swell with dignity as followers of such an “Ariki,”or chief. At a crisis in which no man knew whether the revengeful spirit of the Maori would incite them to rise as one man against the encroaching Pakeha, it was natural the spirit of Englishmen should prompt them to unite to protect their lives. They gathered together to be drilled to arms at Wellington.
Shortland having despatched a company of the 96th regiment from Auckland to Wellington, Major Richmond issued a Proclamation (after friendly conference with the head of the armed associations) intimating that such associations were unlawful and would be dispersed. The settlers were hurt at words in the Proclamation which implied that their previous assemblies had been unlawful, and Mr. R. D. Hanson, Crown Prosecutor, published a letter declaring, in justice to Major Richmond, that the expression was Hanson's and was used inadvertently.
At Auckland, Messrs. Monro and Domett had long conference and correspondence with Shortland, who had his Attorney-General at his side, and was fortified by recent despatches from England. Monro and Domett admitted that the first shot had been fired by the English, but said it was accidental. They contended that the claim of the company to land at Wairau had “not yet been proved to be invalid,”that the unfortunate magistrate, Thompson, thought he was executing his duty, and that he had in conversation with one of themselves declared that the former refusal of a warrant to apprehend Rangihaeata was injurious to the British prestige. They believed that had page 340 Rangihaeata “been dealt with in a decided manner,”the Wairau “calamity might never have occurred.”
The Nelson settlers “confidently expected”that the “enormity of the Wairau crime”would be avenged as soon as a sufficient force could be collected to “render the mandates of the law irresistible.”As the Chief Justice had refused to issue a warrant for Rangihaeata's apprehension, it must be admitted that in the excitement of the terrible time, the Nelson delegates were bold in their statements. An acting secretary expressed Shortland's deep sympathy for the irreparable loss sustained. An awful responsibility for the recent bloodshed had been incurred. On the degree of criminality and on whom it rested he would not express an opinion. It might become the subject of judicial inquiry. But the deplorable event had arisen from “surveyors, without the knowledge or concurrence of the local government, proceeding to take possession of and survey land in opposition to the original native owners who have uniformly denied the sale of it.”
To “prevent 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 recognized and respected, his Excellency has caused a Proclamation to be issued (12 July, 1843), 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, 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.… 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 predecessor disclaimed for herself and her subjects every pretension page 341 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 recognized and respected.”With regard to the complaint that the Maoris 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,”his Excellency reminded his correspondents that as to all lands “the title of the claimants was subject to the investigation of a Commissioner to be appointed for that purpose;”that by the Lands Claims Ordinance lands “validly sold by natives were vested in Her Majesty as demesne lands of the Crown;”that by Lord John Russell's agreement the company was to be assigned, “subject to the investigation of a Commissioner,”certain blocks of land “under the sanction of the local government;”and that by the same agreement the company had foregone and disclaimed “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.… 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.”
For the company in England the pen of Somes often signed the productions of Gibbon Wakefield. For Shortland it was known that in this important crisis the clear head and honourable mind of William Swainson explained his duty. The Nelson delegates replied at great length. They extolled the national importance of the company. They urged that “to the natives the greater part of the land is in fact worth nothing.”The wisest men have agreed that “the rights of aborigines page 342 to land… are not entitled to great respect.… If common sense and justice declare these lands to be worthless to the native,”surely the advantages of colonization carried on with a due regard to their real (sic) interests “entitled the company to expect help from the Government in transferring lands to white settlers.”It was little “less than madness in dealing with grasping and avaricious natives to exhibit a morbid and ostentatious sensitiveness to native rights; a sentimental scrupulousness about depriving them of possessions the value of which to them is a fanciful chimæra, and has been instilled into them perhaps principally by this very exhibition.”
The Wakefield code of morals would seem to have corrupted the very senses of the company's settlers when two highly educated men could thus vie with Somes in proclaiming their own depravity. Their reasoning faculties seemed to have suffered. They denied that the Nelson magistrates had been rash either in the determination or in the mode adopted to enforce the law at the Wairau. “The men they took with them were sufficient in numbers and ought to have insured success.… This was precisely a case in which at least success would have been universally allowed to have justified the attempt, and what possible means did they neglect to insure it?… The very order to advance was rather a defensive than offensive step on their part,… and in taking this defensive step a gun was accidentally discharged, and followed immediately by a volley from the natives.… That the natives were guilty even according to the written letter of the law we are perfectly certain.… Nor let us be accused of prejudging the case.”Prejudgment was only wrong where doubt remained. At Wairau there was none. Law was uncertain. They had a higher standard in the human heart. They appealed “to the wide voice of human nature itself wherever not sunk into the lowest barbarism to confirm our verdict and pronounce that punishment should be inflicted on the guilty.… White man or New Zealander, British law or Maori custom, savagery or civilization, one must master the other, and that the triumph of the laws of civilization can be attained without some employment of force we cannot believe to be possible.”
Dr. Evans' efforts to represent the indignation of the Wellington page 343 settlers may be described in one phrase. When Clarke, the Protector, issued an address in Maori expressing the Governor's horror at the massacre of the captives at the Wairau, Dr. Evans retorted by expressing his “horror at the infatuation of the authors”of the papers emanating from the Government. After a time Shortland found occasion to publish Lord Stanley's memorable manifesto of the 1st February, 1843, in reply to those arguments of Somes which bore so strong a likeness to the representations made in New Zealand. Spain, in August, 1843, earnestly invited Colonel Wakefield to facilitate the removal of difficulties, and to “proced with arbitration, commencing from the precise position”Wakefield had been in when in May, 1843 (before the Wairau horrors), he receded from his promises on the plea that he expected letters from England. Spain expected an “assurance that the amount of compensation shall be paid when my final award is made.”Wakefield, whose brother's death at the Wairau made him an object of sympathy, announced his readiness to resume negotiations, but with begging pertinacity asked if Spain would recommend that, in consideration of his consent, a further proportionate quantity of land should be awarded to the company. In announcing his readiness to resume negotiations, Wakefield had the effrontery to tell Mr. G. Clarke: “I infer that you have waived your objection to a cession of the pahs and cultivated grounds with a view to inspire confidence in the minds of the settlers and re-establish a good understanding with the natives.”Spain knew the shifting sands in which his anchor was thrown while Wakefield's words were in question, and told him that he should still expect, as “indispensable to the resumption of negotiation,”Wakefield's “assurance that the amount of compensation shall be paid when my final award is made.”Wakefield replied that he had always understood that such liability existed, and that so far as he was concerned he was prepared to take the necessary steps to meet it. Spain answered that whatever Wakefield had understood he had to complain of previous non-fulfilment of the terms, and added with reference to Wakefield's letter to Clarke, that though Wakefield might use such arguments as he liked with Clarke as referee, “I cannot allow any condition to be imposed upon me through him inconsistent with page 344 the original terms of the arbitration.”But it was-not Wakefield's intention to be honourable even at this stage. He procured (24th August) the assent of a deputation of settlers to the new terms he sought to impose as to pahs and cultivations, and in order to extort complicity on the part of Spain, communicated that assent to him. Spain briefly told him that such terms interdicted the resumption of the negotiations. The false Wakefield complained1 to his employers of “the pusillanimous and treacherous part taken by the local Government in the Wairau murders,… but the time is not far distant when the rising generation of Anglo-Saxons will neither want the nerve nor the skill to hold their ground against the savage, and take ample and just vengeance for the opposition we are now encountering.”It was ever Colonel Wakefield's habit when detected in any subtlety to make charges against the Government which detected him. He could no longer hope to impose either on Spain or on Shortland. When he strove to overbear the former by the expressed wishes of the colonists, on the 24th August he transmitted to Auckland their appeal to be saved from “impending ruin”by “an immediate and final settlement of the land claims.”
1 Colonel Wakefield to Secretary of Company, 12th September, 1843.
2 In a long narrative of the Wairau massacre the ‘Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle’ (23rd December, 1844), sighed for the “spirit of the olden time”when Indians were slaughtered by settlers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. “Nowadays we leave to Government the punishment of foes—our own protection. But let it do its duty… On these principles we say,—let the executed vengeance of the law secure us protection.”
It was satisfactory for Shortland to find that Mr. McDonough, the police magistrate, returned from an overland trip from Taranaki to Wellington, and found the Maoris hospitable and peaceful. He saw Rauparaha, who was content to be at rest. Mr. Clarke also visited Rauparaha, and received assurances from him and other chiefs that they would inculcate peace. When at Wellington in September, 1844, Sir Everard Home was entreated by the inhabitants to remain with them. They heard that the Maoris were gathering together at Porirua at the call of Rangihaeata, and that an attack on Wellington was contemplated. They had endeavoured to organize themselves into an armed force, but they had been forbidden to do so, and it was natural that they should now appeal to their countryman. At Nelson also the residents asked that the frigate might remain, or a portion of the military be landed for their protection. Their necessity did not arise from Maori troubles only. Their men employed on public works rose against them in August, and ill-treated the superintendent of works. Mr. Fox bitterly imputed his distress to the inability of the Government to control the working class, who were settlers holding land and working at stated times in creating those public works which enabled the company to claim extension of territory. Sir Everard Home saw no necessity to keep the man-of-war at Nelson to control the Maoris. On the contrary, under his ægis, Major Richmond hearing that the company had re-commenced the Wairau survey, sent for the surveyor, who when warned of his responsibility, promised to recall his men, and promptly did so. Wakefield, to whom Richmond wrote on the subject, said that the surveyor, working on contract, was acting on his own responsibility. It appeared that a boat belonging to the New Zealand Company had been taken by the natives after the Wairau massacre. Sir Everard informed Rauparaha that he had not come to attack the Maoris, as was falsely reported, and page 346 recommended that the Maoris should go to their homes. Receiving no answer, he went with Major Richmond, anchoring his ship under Mana, and sending Clarke, the Protector, on foot beforehand to induce Rauparaha and Rangihaeata to await him. They did not do so, but he saw proofs that no warlike muster was in progress, and proceeded to Kapiti. Landing there, he saw at the pah (where lived the much-respected missionary, Hadfield), Raupahara and another chief, with about fifty followers. Raupahara denied that he was instigating quarrels. He was allaying the irritation caused by the provocations of the Europeans. But what did the Pakeha intend? Why, he asked, had Sir E. Home come, if not to fight and destroy? Home replied that the Queen's ships went everywhere, that his object also was to preserve peace rather than make war, and that Rauparaha should not believe reports, but ascertain truth through Major Richmond, Mr. Clarke, or Mr. Hadfield.
When the conference was over, Rauparaha, on being asked to do so, wrote a note, desiring that the company's boat should be given “to the chief of the ship. Give it to the chief for nothing. These are the words of Te Rauparaha.”The boat was immediately given up. It appeared that when previously asked about it, Rauparaha said it would have been given up if the company had not recommenced the Wairau survey, which Richmond now told him had been discontinued. The Maoris cheerfully put the boat into Sir E. Home's hands, and it was taken by the man-of-war to Nelson, where it was given up to Mr. William Fox, whom Colonel Wakefield had appointed agent for the company at Nelson in succession to the unfortunate Captain Wakefield.
How well founded were Rauparaha's suspicions about the inhabitants was shown a few days afterwards (13th October), when Home was requested at Nelson to execute a warrant signed by four magistrates, Duppa, Dillon, Tytler, and Monro, for the apprehension of Rauparaha and Rangihaeata for murder at Wairau. He declined. They “mistook his functions”in imagining that he was “bound by law to enforce any act authorized by warrant from two magistrates.”He would “on no account do anything contrary to his judgment of what was right.”Reporting this interview to Governor Shortland, Home page 347 stated that in his opinion “none of the settlements he had visited had anything to fear from the natives so long as they are fairly dealt with.”Revenge rather than impartial justice appeared to be sought by those who had “supposed that he would have been honoured by the execution of the warrant”put before him. There were others at Nelson who took no such view, and showed no such distrust of the local Government. A force was wanted at Nelson “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.”Sir Everard Home left the settlements in peace in October. The inhabitants at Wellington, headed by Mr. William Fitzherbert, applied to Shortland in November to relieve them from the disastrous position in which the land question was placed. Shortland rejoined that if Colonel Wakefield had not “declined to carry into effect (the compensation arrangement which) he had not only agreed to but himself proposed, “the settlers might long. since have been placed in peaceable possession of their lands.”Under existing circumstances Shortland fully concurred with Mr. Spain that it would be highly impolitic to enter again upon the arbitration, unless the “compensation money were forthcoming concurrently with the award,”and “that a second disappointment of the natives should on no account be risked.”Shortland would only place settlers in possession of land to which they could “prove themselves legally entitled;”but he would bring their memorial before Governor Fitzroy, on his arrival.
1 1844, vol. xiii. p. 264.
On the 29th January, he conferred with Colonel Wakefield at Major Richmond's house. Mr. Spain, Clarke the Protector, and Mr. Forsaith (Protector and Interpreter) were present. At Fitzroy's suggestion (that Colonel Wakefield should have a friend to consult) Dr. Evans was sent for. After long discussion of past correspondence, and reference to his inquiries in England before sailing to New Zealand, the Governor categorically asked whether Wakefield was “prepared to make a fair compensation to those natives who might be entitled to receive it, without including their pahs, their burying-places, and their grounds actually in cultivation.”Not without dissuasive remonstrances, Wakefield at length declared that he was so prepared, and would provide the funds without delay. There was an ominous discussion as to the meaning to be attached to the words “pah,”and “cultivation-grounds,”but the result of the conference was to compel the company to make a fresh promise to comply with its former promise. Mr. Spain triumphed. He was requested by Fitzroy to act as umpire on disputed matters between Colonel Wakefield and Clarke; and Fitzroy urged the latter to be as reasonable in his demands as “strict justice would allow.”Mr. Forsaith kept notes of the conference.
Lord Stanley's firmness in England had made Colonel Wakefield hopeless of success in slighting the just claims of Maoris; but though he yielded to Fitzroy's decision he wrote to London: “The very decided assurance Governor Fitzroy has given me that no grant of land shall be made to the company until the further payments be made under the award of the Commissioner leaves me no alternative but to pursue the negotiation for each district without delay. Serious doubts are entertained by many of our most intelligent settlers whether these further payments will have the effect of ensuring quiet occupation of the land, and I cannot but participate in such doubts after the repeated breaches of contract I have witnessed on the part of the natives.”Thus utterly incapable of “seeing himself as others saw him,”Wakefield reluctantly consented to do that which he had himself originally proposed with an under-thought that influence in England might enable him at a future time to qualify or destroy page 350 his liability. The Governor proceeded to Nelson, receiving and replying to a public address there. He invited the magistrates to a conference, and animadverted on the fact that some of them had been so imprudent as to ask Sir Everard Home to execute a warrant to bring the bodies of Rauparaha and Rangihaeata before them.
There were not many legions in New Zealand, but Fitzroy was master of such as were there, and the magistrates did not reply. Three of those who had signed the warrant resigned after their interview. Mr. Fox was present, and kept notes. He also was silent, but recorded his opinion gravely in writing, to the effect that the attempt to execute warrants upon Rauparaha and Rangihaeata was fully justified by Cotterell's information laid before the magistrate Thompson. Mr. Fox privately urged the claims of the New Zealand Company, and when Fitzroy suggested that if the Wairau claim were postponed the natives might amicably sell the land to the company, Fox said that they had bought it once. Fitzroy said that was to be decided by the Land Commissioners. Mr. Fox having migrated to Wellington to practise at the bar, had accepted office as agent when Colonel Wakefield desired to secure his services at Nelson. He was to play a leading part for many years in the colony. He pressed for a military force to coerce the European working class. Fitzroy would not send a detachment of troops, but thought he might send a ship of war to arrest ringleaders. He received a deputation of working men, and told them he would endeavour to find them employment, but would put them down if they should become disturbers. The deputation of settlers which had presented the public address sought for a private interview on the following day. Their spokesman, Mr. McDonald, upheld the conduct of the magistrates, and handed in his own resignation. It was not thus that a British sailor was to be daunted. Fitzroy roundly rebuked him and his abettors, who were “raising for themselves a character for rudeness.”At the “close of his harangue he rose while speaking, wished them good morning and retired.”The deputation thought it necessary to disclaim complicity with their spokesman, and presented a statement to that effect to Fitzroy as he was returning to his ship. He received them again on the following day, and discussed page 351 some local wants. A Maori deputation waited on him. He promised them even-handed justice; punishment if they offended; protection if they should be injured. Mr. Fox's narrative admitted that the Governor “declared very fairly his intention of maintaining even justice between the two races.”To the jaundiced eyes of Mr. E. J. Wakefield, it appeared that his conduct was intolerable, and made Nelson “overflow with the greatest indignation.”The Governor desired to see Rauparaha, and sailed in the ‘North Star’ to Kapiti. There he attended Divine Service on shore. The good missionary, Hadfield, officiated. Besides the Governor's narrative, with notes, a diary was kept by Mr. F. Dillon Bell, to whom a passage was given in H.M. ship. Mr. Bell had been assistant-secretary in London to the New Zealand Company, but had recently immigrated to Nelson, holding powers for absentee owners of land. Several hundred natives were present; and, before the service, Fitzroy heard many of them catechised. Rauparaha sat near, observing. The Governor took no notice of him, though Sir Everard Home, as an old acquaintance, shook hands with him.
On the following day, 12th February, 1844, Fitzroy landed to hold conference at Waikanae. Again hundreds of natives were assembled. Major Richmond and Clarke, the Protector, met the Governor on shore. Rauparaha sat near the Governor's chair. Rangihaeata, present at the old chief's request, was behind other natives who were seated in a semicircle around. Fitzroy told them his mind was dark when he encountered at Sydney the tidings of the Wairau affray. He had come to discover the truth. He had heard the European account, and wished to hear that of the Maori, that he might judge. When he first heard of the massacre he had thought of vengeance for the slaughtered English, but finding that they had behaved improperly he came calmly to judge the whole matter. Clarke, the interpreter, repeated his speech in the Maori tongue. No native rose to speak, and Fitzroy directed Clarke to invite Rauparaha to do so. The old man rose. He said the dispute was about the land. He denied that he had sold any land to Wakefield except at Blind Bay and Massacre Bay. He narrated his transactions in 1839; told how he had warned the surveyors at the Wairau, and had had a “korero”in Captain Wakefield's house at Nelson, page 352 at which Wakefield threatened violence, and Rauparaha and Rangihaeata had said they would not submit to it. Minutely he narrated every circumstance.
The rest of the tale the reader knows; the demand for his person, the refusal, the fight, and the massacre. Thompson the magistrate asked Rauparaha to save him. Rangihaeata said: “Your daughter!”Rauparaha said: “A little while ago I wanted to talk to you in a friendly manner, and you would not. Now you say, Save me: I will not save you.”It was their custom after battle to kill the chief men of the enemies. Fitzroy told the interpreter to tell the old man to sit down while he decided what to say. For half an hour the natives sat observant while Fitzroy wrote with a pencil and consulted the interpreter. Then the Governor rose and said: “Hearken, O chiefs and elder men, to my decision… In the first place the Pakehas were in the wrong; they had no right to build houses upon the land the sale of which you disputed, and on which Mr. Spain had not decided; they were wrong in trying to apprehend you who had committed no crime… As they were greatly to blame, and as they brought on and began the fight, and as you were hurried into crime by their misconduct, I will not avenge their deaths.”
He told them that the Maoris had committed a terrible crime in murdering men who, relying on their honour, had surrendered. They must live peaceably. He would do equal justice; and no land should be taken which they had not sold. Fitzroy then returned to the ‘North Star’ after announcing that Major Richmond was the superintendent of the southern districts, and impressing on the Maoris the necessity of resorting to him and to the missionaries for advice in all cases.
It is almost unnecessary to say that Mr. E. J. Wakefield railed at the Governor for his decision about the Wairau massacre. It was hard for a nephew to bear the loss of a gallant relative in so cruel a manner; but it was the verdict of a nephew, not of a judicial mind, which made Mr. Wakefield declare that the company's officers were “in the right”in the affray. Mr. E. J. Wakefield, indignant at the rebuke inflicted upon him at the Governor's levee, by which he thought “the pleasure of his friendly relations with the natives must necessarily be impaired,” page 353 at once left the colony, and in the following year published in London his ‘Adventures in New Zealand.’
The strange contrasts in New Zealand life were shown by the fact, recorded by the Governor, that as he was about to leave Wellington, “the Lord Bishop of New Zealand arrived from Stewart's Island and Bank's Peninsula in a small coaster of about twenty-five tons burthen, owned and commanded by a chief named Tuhawaiki, well known in New Zealand. With his lordship, his sole companions were a son of Rauparaha and five natives.”It was from Tuhawaiki that Rauparaha only succeeded in escaping by swimming in the sea to his fleet of canoes, on one of his bloodthirsty raids in the Middle Island. The Governor made several appointments, of magistrates and others, to administer justice and deal with public accounts. His own influence was called in to conclude a land negotiation. The Te Aro Maoris required larger compensation for past deficiencies than had been awarded. They hoped to induce the Governor to yield to their demands.
The Governor, at Mr. Spain's Court, in presence of Major Richmond, Clarke, Forsaith, and Colonel Wakefield, harangued the Maoris at some length on the Queen's justice and clemency, and the righteousness of Mr. Spain's award. The money was on the table. The Maoris, after two days' discussion, finding the Governor immoveable, accepted the money allotted to them. Colonel Wakefield's proposal that a defective purchase should not be annulled, but be made complete by subsequent compensation, thus served to eject the Te Aro Maoris from an important site in the future capital of New Zealand.
Captain Fitzroy was called upon to determine questions relating to a new settlement—a Scotch settlement—about to be made by the company. Colonel Wakefield required 200,000 acres for it in the Middle Island. The Crown had bought none there. The company had proved no claim elsewhere than at Nelson. To overcome the difficulty the Governor waived the Crown's right of pre-emption over 150,000 acres in the Middle Island; but, warned by the Wairau catastrophe, he appointed Mr. J. J. Symonds to superintend the transaction. Mr. Symonds had been a surveyor, and a sub-protector of aborigines, and had been recently made police magistrate at page 354 Wellington by the Governor. He spoke the Maori language, and received strict instructions to inform the natives that they were to be free to sell as pleased themselves. Mr. Spain was at the same time required by the Governor to superintend the selection of 150,000 acres by the company at Wairarapa, and of not more than 250,000 acres elsewhere, within the limits claimed by the company under Mr. Pennington's award; the Crown right of pre-emption being waived under certain conditions. Mr. Tuckett, who had escaped at the Wairau, was appointed by Colonel Wakefield to co-operate with Mr. Symonds in selecting lands at the site of Otago. Not even the Wairau disaster could teach Tuckett wisdom. He insisted on surveying land without the consent of the owners or of Mr. Symonds. The latter had armed himself with instructions in case of such an occurrence, and declined to sanction, even by his presence, such a procedure. He reported to Major Richmond his withdrawal from the negotiations. Colonel Wakefield was a wiser and a sadder man. He instructed Tuckett to conform to Symonds' requirements, but insinuated that he was not much to blame, inasmuch as partial preliminary surveys were permissible where the Maoris did not remonstrate.
1 In one of his letters to Mr. D. Wakefield, Tuckett said of Richmond (the “Superintendent of the Southern Division”of New Zealand): “I regard him as little as Mordecai did Haman.”
When Governor Fitzroy returned to Auckland, in March, 1844, troubles awaited him. The attempt to seize land by force at Wairau had raised suspicion in the Maori mind. There were mutterings. Honi Heke, a son-in-law of Hongi, had been heard to ask if “Rauparaha was to have all the honour of killing Pakehas?”A spark had nearly set the native passions on fire. Imprisonment was shrunk from by a “Rangatira”as a slavish insult intolerable to a gentleman. A native named Manaia was convicted (20th February, 1844) and sentenced to imprisonment for theft. Before he could be removed from the dock a chief, Kawau, and others started up, brandished their tomahawks, and dragged the culprit away in the sight of the bewildered functionaries. The sheriff assisted in endeavouring to close the doors, but the Maoris burst them open and escaped with their countryman.
Major Bunbury, Her Majesty's 80th Regiment, commanded at Auckland during Fitzroy's absence. The Executive Council met on the 21st of February to consider the propriety of executing a warrant to apprehend Kawau, which the police magistrate had issued. Mr. Clarke, senior, Chief Protector, wrote to Kawau that he had done a great wrong, and must bring back Manaia.
Kawau replied: “Friend Mr. Clarke. Salutations. Listen. I will not go to you. Would it not be better for you to come to me? Yes. Do come here. Come to me: that is all. I have finished. Listen to me. Because evil is increasing the love of many grows cold.”
Clarke knew that the last figurative sentence meant that the Maori was becoming suspicious of the Pakeha. He produced Kawau's letter before the Executive Council, and told Major Bunbury and his advisers that he was satisfied that the Ngati-whatua would never permit Kawau to be taken alive. page 356 Clarke retired. Bunbury asked if it was essential to vindicate the law. The Colonial Secretary, Sinclair, objected to the use of force in the Governor's absence, and thought the available force insufficient. The Attorney-General, Swainson, thought so flagrant an act ought not to be overlooked, whenever the Government might have sufficient force. The Colonial Treasurer, Shepherd, concurred with the Colonial Secretary. Major Bunbury “feared that the aristocratic feeling”might spread among the tribes, and induce them to aid Kawau. He thought he could arrest him, but he could not defend the scattered settlers from acts of vengeance. The use of force was reserved for the Governor's consideration. At Swainson's suggestion the Chief Protector was asked to urge the chiefs to use their influence and cause Manaia to be yielded to the law's demands.
The missionaries brought about a peaceful surrender of the culprit. Fitzroy returned. Kawau admitted that he had infringed English law, but urged that compensation in money satisfied that of New Zealand and of the Scriptures. Eventually the Governor and his Council met Kawau's views. A portion of Manaia's sentence was remitted, and a Native Exemption Ordinance was passed (July, 1844), by which natives restoring fourfold the value of a thing stolen might escape imprisonment. Natives were only to be arrested by two chiefs of their tribe, and in civil suits were not to be liable to imprisonment. Except in cases of rape or murder, a native charged was, on making a deposit, to remain at large till the day of trial. Mr. Swainson, the law-maker, thought that by such an adaptation to the feelings of the Maoris many offenders were allowed to be taken who would otherwise have set the law at defiance. The colonists “were not”(he said) “dissatisfied with the exceptional character of the law,”since their property or its value was restored to them. When the Ordinance met Lord Stanley's eye, he feared that the zeal, however laudable, for the welfare of the Maoris, which dictated it, had outrun discretion. The Governor (Grey) was directed to suggest amendments. In November, 1846, he reported that he “thought it better at once to repeal it.”His position enabled him to dispense with such anomalous help.page 357
The land question at Auckland, in 1844, differed from that at Wellington and Nelson, but presented its own difficulties. Under the treaty of Waitangi the Government only could buy land from the Maoris; but little had been bought. The natives were discontented with their inability to sell to others what the Government could not or would not buy. To obviate the difficulty Fitzroy, in March, 1844, by Proclamation, allowed settlers to buy from the natives on paying ten shillings an acre to the Government. Little land was sold on these terms; and the purchasers, while haggling with the natives, averred that the sum claimed by the Government injuriously clogged their transactions and reduced the price they could offer. It was noised abroad that Fitzroy's Proclamation violated the treaty of Waitangi, which guaranteed to the Maoris freedom of sale at such prices as they might think fit, subject to the pre-emptive right of the Crown. The new demand was represented as a juggle, and the chiefs determined by a display of force to impress their importance upon the Governor's mind.
The Waikato tribes gave a great feast at Remuera, close to Auckland, in May, 1844. The Governor described the scene. Accompanied by officers and escorted by Putini (son of Wetere, a Waikato chief second only in influence to Te Whero Whero), and other chiefs, he rode to Remuera. Natives of seventeen tribes were gathered there. The powerful Waikatos were 800 in number.
As Fitzroy appeared in sight a general shout of welcome arose, and the nearest tribes danced and brandished their weapons in unison. Dismounting, the Governor shook hands with the chiefs near him and saluted others generally. Ceremony enforced a pause, while it was doubtful what tribe he should first visit. “It was, however, quickly decided that Te Whero Whero and Wetere, as the givers of the feast, should be visited first, and that I should then go round the encampment, taking each tribe in local succession, without regard to relative influence or numbers.”Some chiefs were in European clothes; some had gay scarfs, while some wore only a large wrapping mat, a mantle, or a blanket.
After the circuit of the encampment a sham fight took place. The adverse bands occupied hills, a mile apart. “With page 358 muskets glittering in the sun, their tomahawks and clubs waving in the air, they stamped their wild war-dance, and then, alternately, rushed thundering down the slope. Halting as one man in front of their opponents, each party again defied the other in dance and shouts and yells. Then one body, the strangers, fled up the hill, halted, danced, rushed down again at their utmost speed and again halted, like soldiers at a review, at the word of their chief, within pistol-shot of the adverse party, who were crouched to receive them with spears, the front ranks kneeling, the mass behind, about forty deep, having muskets and other weapons in readiness. Each body consisted of about eight hundred men, in a compact mass, twenty in front and forty deep. Their movements absolutely simultaneous, like welldrilled soldiers. The lines along which these bodies ranged were crowded by natives, by English, by women of both nations, and by children, as if it had been a race-course. The sight was indeed remarkable. It was wonderful to see women and children gaily dressed wandering about unconcernedly among four thousand New Zealanders, most of whom were armed, and many utter strangers as well as heathens.”Some Christian natives took no part in the sham fight, but with their missionary teachers approached, unarmed, the spot where the warrior bands had halted. There they sat down and listened to the speeches of welcome and good feeling, which continued till near sunset. The orators walked “to and fro, among or in front of their party, sometimes running or jumping, seldom standing still.”Then came the division of the feast. One long shed was covered with blankets, of which the Waikatos presented more than one thousand to their visitors. Sharks of various sizes and potatoes were hung up and stored in settled divisions, and at a given “signal from Te Whero Whero one general attack commenced, and each party vied with the other in carrying off quickly to their encampment the portion of blankets, sharks, and potatoes which had been allotted to them by the liberal Waikato.… The great majority of the English who were present, not less than a thousand, including women and children, returned in small straggling parties at various times with as much confidence as if they had been returning from an English fair. I heard of no instance of page 359 misconduct or rudeness, neither was there any theft or even pilfering.”
On the following day, Sunday, many Christian natives attended Divine Service in Auckland, while the heathens looked on; but the majority of the Christians attended Divine Service conducted by missionaries at Remuera. On Monday the gift-potatoes were, at daylight, borne for sale to Auckland on the backs of the Maoris. At eleven o'clock Fitzroy formally received the chiefs at Government House. About two hundred attended. Te Whero Whero was at the Governor's right hand. After a short speech of salutation returned by two of the chiefs they waited for the Governor to address them. After a pause he suggested that the chiefs should discuss any matter in which he could advise or assist them. On a proposed sale of land, at Kawhia, to the Government, they handed in a letter. Fitzroy told them he did not contemplate purchasing at present, but their memorial would be preserved for reference. Then he made them a long speech of kindly compliment on their friendly gathering and their attention to missionary teaching. He urged them to cultivate the arts of peace, produced to them a piece of woollen cloth manufactured in New Zealand, and recommended them to encourage pastoral pursuits. He deprecated the unclothed condition in which “a very few”of the Maoris had exhibited themselves on Saturday. He did not wish to interfere with their customs, however. A sailor himself, he recognized the duty of fighting for his country, and honoured patriotism in them. He was, with the learned men now present, the Chief Justice and Attorney-General, endeavouring to prepare a law1 to meet the peculiar condition of the Maoris as to compensation for offences in lieu of imprisonment, two or three chiefs being made responsible.
1 The Native Exemption Ordinance of July, 1844, already alluded to.
As the tribes dispersed homewards a freak of native custom produced a bad impression. Some Matamata (Ngatihaua) natives, in open day, committed depredations at Papakura, about twenty miles from Auckland. On return from a great feast, thus to pillage a friend in broad daylight was a recognized custom. Te Whero Whero was indignant, and sought an interview with the Governor. He felt disgraced, though none of his page 361 tribe were implicated. Rather than no reparation should be made his tribe would pay any compensation demanded by the Governor and even undergo imprisonment. Fitzroy disclaimed any desire for such a result. He would demand compensation of Pohepohe, discontinue land negotiations with him, and leave the Motiti Island dispute untouched, till restitution should be made. The assembled chiefs applauded this proposal. Te Whero Whero turned to a Matamata chief and said: “Tell them that like mean men they took advantage of the absence of their chiefs to behave like cowards, like dastards. If they wanted to fight why did not they attack men instead of two or three old women? They deserve to be considered as dogs and treated as such by their tribe. And tell the Matamata people that I and the other chiefs hold ourselves as hostages to the Governor for their misconduct, and that it is owing to his goodwill, and entirely as a matter of favour, that I am now at large instead of being in prison.”He told Fitzroy he would write to Pohepohe, and if reparation were not made the Waikato would be responsible. They had no produce but pigs, flax, and potatoes, but these should be given to any extent.
Fitzroy could not sanction this pledge. He doubted not that the Matamata tribe would do right. The Matamata chief then spoke. Had the Governor accepted Te Whero Where's proposal, he would have gone away with darkened heart. “The sun has again shone on us. I shall return rejoicing, and all in my power shall be done to obtain compensation for the English at Papakura. What the eye can see and the ear can hear of shall be restored.”Tarapipipi (William Thompson) was a Christian chief in his tribe, and he could not tell what steps he would take. He might perhaps wish to treat the culprits by English custom, and be opposed by those who have not become Christians. Nevertheless all would with one voice give reparation. Fitzroy complimented Te Whero Whero and the chiefs generally on the good order prevalent at Remuera. Te Whero Whero expressed his gratification. “It was true that it had been the former custom on such occasions to plunder on the way home, but with their present knowledge of English customs, the conduct of the Matamata people was disgraceful.”It was some time before page 362 restitution was made; but when the tribe reached Matamata, Tarapipipi (the son of Te Waharoa) ordered a red table-cloth, part of the stolen property, to be hoisted on a pole, declaring that it should remain there till all the property of the Europeans was deposited at its base. Most of it was soon brought in. For what was lost the chiefs determined to pay compensation in land or in pigs, and Mr. Edward Shortland, the Protector of aborigines, proposed the latter, leaving the quantity to the chiefs, who were disposed to act liberally. Tarapipipi, the future king-maker, wrote to Fitzroy when restoring the goods and making compensation: “Darker than the darkness of a gloomy night without stars is the gloominess of my heart on account of the conduct of these disreputable fellows… I cannot describe the load of shame I feel on account of this plunder. But you must not suppose that this behaviour is a novelty. No, it is of old; like my own dispositions for mischief formerly. It was so with me, not under the influence of Christianity, but when following our old customs. I inherited an evil disposition from my forefathers, descending downwards to my father, and from him to me; but when Christianity came I was taught to be kind, and to protect my fellow-creatures, which I continue to do to this day. Now I have collected the property plundered, which I send by the ‘Victoria.’ Three pigs are in payment for the assault committed on the European.”
In describing the Remuera gathering, to Lord Stanley, Fitzroy said that it was partly in return for a feast to the Waikatos in a former year, partly to show the rangatiratanga (or honourable position) of Te Whero Whero, and also as a demonstration planned with reference to its effect on the English. He doubtless aimed in his own despatch to produce an effect upon Lord Stanley. How could he govern by force a nation which could in a few days sweep every foreigner from its soil?
The enemies of the Maori and of the missionaries alleged that this display of physical force was not without its influence on Fitzroy's mind. But there was quite enough of the appearance of justice in the arguments against the ten-shillings-an-acre Proclamation to induce the Governor to revoke it, and substitute a nominal payment of one penny an acre as the recognition of the Queen's paramount right. This change, however, was not page 363 made until October, 1844. Nearly fifty times as much land was bought from the natives under the substituted Proclamation as had been bought under that which it superseded. Both were eventually disallowed by Lord Stanley. Meanwhile colonization was partially paralyzed. The New Zealand Company and their friends were exasperated at what they considered the success of the missionary party, and the impunity of the Maoris. Spain privately warned Fitzroy that designing men were instigating Rauparaha to mischief, and that a military force, not to harass or attack, but to exhibit capacity in case of need, ought to be at hand. The settlers at Auckland were as thoroughly convinced as Fitzroy that there was no European force in New Zealand able to cope with the Maori warriors assembled at the feast of Remuera. The company's friends meanwhile were sedulous in disparaging Fitzroy in order to effect his removal. They relied on their friends in Parliament. In the same month that the Remuera feast was held, Mr. Spain's Land Claims Court was to sit at Taranaki (or New Plymouth) to decide on the claims of the New Zealand Company to the enormous territory alleged to have been purchased by Colonel Wakefield's agent in 1840, and by himself on various occasions. Spain and Wakefield travelled in company to the scene. How the pretended purchase was made in 1840, by Dorset and Barrett, has been told already. That the signatures of children and others in an uncomprehended deed of sale could bar the rights of the Ngatiawa, who had voluntarily migrated under Te Rangitake, whose intention to return was publicly known; or bar the rights of manumitted slaves reverting by Maori law to their former rights, was so glaring an assumption that only in force could Wakefield and the Taranaki settlers trust to enable them to go in and possess the land. That Hobson paid a small sum of money to Te Whero Whero and to Te Kati for the interest of the Waikato tribes (whatever they might be) has been also told, together with Hobson's admission that the Waikato claim (from conquest) was not a primary one, because all occupants must first be satisfied.
It is much to be lamented that Spain did not perceive the justice, indeed the necessity, of recognizing the claims of absentee proprietors. Each Maori community held its land in page 364 common; and no occupant enjoying usufruct of his cultivated ground could alienate it from the tribe. Only tribal consent could break the bond which linked each member to the common property, which sustained the body politic, which was endeared to them as the land of their birth, and was made sacred by the burial-places of generations of those ancestors who in Maoria as in ancient Italy were worshipped or reverenced with religious devotion, and whose images were carved with care in the great house of the tribe. Although unversed in Maori usage, Spain might have respected the principles which, if he had real property in England, enabled him to return to it.
It was fortunate that under the Land Claims Ordinance it was not obligatory upon the Governor to confirm the award of a Commissioner. This wise precaution of Sir G. Gipps had been re-enacted by Hobson on the New Zealand law. Colonel Wakefield always averred that E Puni, by whose aid he secured land at Petone, recommended him to buy the land at Taranaki; but he did not procure Puni's signature to the deed which pretended to convey the land at that place to the company. The deed to which he procured signatures at Kapiti from Rauparaha, Hiko, and nine others, on the 25th October, 1839, affected to convey the land, but it was notorious that some of the signers never claimed any interest in Waitara or Taranaki lands. Some marks were added by proxy to the deed, and Wakefield did not venture to submit it formally to Spain. There was a second deed, signed on the 8th November, 1839, on board the ‘Tory,’ in “the most tumultuous scene”Wakefield had witnessed. This also Wakefield thought it prudent to abandon (with all its gifts of rivers, harbours, forests, and of Mount Egmont, and a direct line from Mokau on the west coast to Lat. 41° on the east) in favour of a third, executed as may be remembered at Taranaki, on the 15th February, 1840, under supervision of an incompetent interpreter, who professed to buy from about seventy men, women, and children at Ngamotu, numerous rivers, forests, harbours, and mountains for a few blankets, guns, powder, and goods, of which a pound of sealingwax was the last mentioned. Mr. Spain's report (12th June) adverted to the carelessness of the company in its alleged purchases—to the procurement of a few signatures, and the page 365 insertion in deeds of boundaries comprising millions of acres, upon the surface of which lived thousands of “resident natives who were the actual cultivators of the soil,”but whom Wakefield did not consult.
Mr. Spain affirmed that Vattel laid down the doctrine that actual occupiers and cultivators ought not to be dispossessed by immigrant colonizers, but did not recognize the jus postliminium which prevailed in the land; and in spite of the asseveration of their European advocate, and the evidence of native chiefs, he set the right at nought. Though earnest to elicit the truth, he may have failed to understand all the problems of the case. The laws and customs of the dusky owners were foreign; the language in which they gave evidence was rhetorical and oracular. Continually an answer was accepted in a different sense from that which the witness intended. Spain was “happy to find” the Taranaki purchase free from the objections which tainted the other transactions of the company. A restored chief was cross-questioned by Colonel Wakefield as to having been enslaved by the Waikato. With evident reluctance the opprobrious fact was admitted. Wakefield, ignorant or contemptuous of Maori law, said, “When you were taken prisoner did not you forfeit your right to land according to native custom?”—“No, I do not lose my right to land.” Spain interposed to extort from the witness an admission that he was aware that Captain Hobson had bought the captured lands from the Waikato chiefs. The chief denied that he had ever heard of such a purchase, and Spain discredited his answer; but Maori law would have taught him that as the Waikato chiefs could only sell their own interest in the land, the witness might truthfully declare that the Ngatiawa interest remained untouched by Hobson's transaction with Te Whero Whero Passing over the undoubted rights in common of the return Ngatiawa, and the cognate rights of their countrymen still at Waikanae, under Te Rangitake, whose animus revertendi was notorious, Spain unfortunately gave a verdict in favour of the New Zealand Land Company not for their whole claim, but for 60,000 acres. He conceived that the Ngatiawa returning after the alleged purchase by the company could have no rights to land, though if they had returned before Barrett's visit rights page 366 might have accrued to them. He distinctly affirmed in his report, not only with regard to those enslaved by the Waikato, but as to the conquering Ngatiawa chiefs at Cook's Straits, that he could not recognize title to land in two places. If a Ngatiawa chief had rights at Cook's Straits he could have none at Taranaki. Mr. Spain1 says he “invariably discouraged”such claims as “unfair and unjust,”although it would be hard to find a good reason why a British subject may hold land in different counties in England and Scotland, and a Maori owner should be debarred from a share in plurality of holdings in New Zealand; and it would be still harder to discover a reasonable interpretation of the treaty of Waitangi which would accord with Mr. Spain's ruling in 1844. Moreover, the custom of the Maoris was enshrined in Hindostan. Among the Rajputs no length of time or absence could affect the claim to the hereditary land.2 Mr. Spain complained afterwards that Clarke, the Protector, did not clearly bring forward his view of the right of postliminium, but at the same time (March, 1845), unhesitatingly declared that enslaved “aborigines”in New Zealand forfeited all rights to land when “taken in war.”When the chief, cross-questioned on the subject in 1844, asserted the right of postliminium, Spain thought the man told an untruth, and set aside his statement as worthless. Even as the case stood there was; nevertheless a condition unfulfilled. Barrett had, in 1840, contracted to supply twenty-five double-barrelled guns, and had not supplied them. Spain felt the impropriety of putting murderous weapons in the hands of an excited and pugnacious people, and took upon himself to award that instead of the promised fowling-pieces the company should pay £200, but lest the money should be devoted to the original intention he determined how it should be expended. It was not to be given to the contracting Maoris; but a Maori hospital was to be built upon the “native town reserves,”the result of which variance from Barrett's engagement would be “convenient”and “morally improving.”
1 Spain's Report. Parliamentary Papers, 1846, vol. xxx. p. 52.
2 Rajasthan. (Colonel Tod.) Vol. i. p. 526.
The war of 1860 sprung from the Waitara land dispute. Many thousands of pages have been written to show that the natives were not then really aggrieved, and merely set up a fictitious claim to land in order to contest the supremacy of the Queen. It is all-important, therefore, to show the truth from early documents. Mr. Whiteley, a Wesleyan missionary who was at Kawhia, wrote to Clarke, the Protector, on the 1st July, 1844. He enclosed a letter from certain excited chiefs to the Governor. To Whiteley they had written thus: “Speak to the Governor that our land may be returned to us. If that cannot be, why then we shall call to the gates of hell to be set open, that the people who have long been dead may ascend up, and that the people of this world may descend thither.”As regarded the remigrants from Cook's Straits and the rights of the enfranchised, Whiteley argued that Spain's decision was unjust. Rights of those not compromised by negotiations between themselves and the company should “be held inviolate.… My object is simply peace, and to ensure peace we must do justice.”The elder Clarke expressed surprise that his son page 369 had not called more than one witness. The son maintained that he had “confuted the claims of the company by their own witnesses.”He sent also to the Governor a catalogue of cases to prove that the rights of the returning Ngatiawa were sanctioned by well-known Maori laws. It was Spain's custom to make ad interim reports, and his Waitara decision, with the warnings of Clarke, Whiteley, and other counsellors, was promptly considered by Captain Fitzroy. He did not discuss the principles of postliminium nor the doctrines quoted by Spain from Vattel; but he saw that there would be bloodshed if the injustice recommended by Spain should be consummated. Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake wrote him an earnest letter. “This is the determination of our people. Waitara shall not be given up.… The Ngatiawas are constantly returning to their land—the land of their birth.… Friend Governor, do you not love your land—England—the land of your fathers—as we also love our land at Waitara?”(8th June, 1844). Military assistance at Taranaki was craved by an express messenger from the inhabitants. Spain reported that it was required to overawe the mounting confidence of the Maoris in themselves. The Governor sent a confidential person overland to state that he would be on the spot as soon as possible. He sailed thither in H.M.S. ‘Hazard.’ The Bishop, travelling overland from Auckland, reached Taranaki in eight days by way of Kawhia, from which place the Rev. J. Whiteley had hastened to the scene of danger. Inquiry was instituted without delay.
1 Parliamentary Papers, 1845, vol. xxxiii. p. 102.
2 The Bishop wrote to his brother in England: “The Governor has, I hope, appeased the commotion.”
1 Parliamentary Papers, 1845, vol. xxxiii. p. 102.
2 ‘History of Taranaki,’ p. 108. B. Wells. New Zealand, 1878.
The first appearance of the notable Donald McLean in important negotiations deserves remark. Immigrating to New Zealand an uneducated lad, he devoted himself to ordinary labour. Versed in Gaelic, and venerating the chiefs of old in his native land, he saw in the Maori race a repetition of the Gael. He strove to educate himself, and, after his daily task was done, he pored over books in the watches of the night. He became popular with the Maoris, and declared that the style of the heroes of Ossian found an echo in the hearts of the high-born chiefs around him. His proficiency in the Maori tongue led to his appointment as Local Protector of aborigines at Taranaki, and to his good offices may be partly ascribed the avoidance of war in consequence of Spain's unjust decision. Nevertheless the colonists were astonished when, in after years, Governor Grey appointed McLean Chief Commissioner to treat with the natives for cessions of land.1 McLean warned the chief Protector in December, 1844, that there were still dangers ahead.
The office of a Protector sometimes involved danger. The Puketapu and the Ngamotu natives had rushed to arms, and McLean, Mr. Turton a missionary, and Mr. Webster a justice of the peace, “were successful in depriving some of the most exasperated of their guns and tomahawks.”The armed Ngamotu drew off with Mr. Turton, and he pacified them, while McLean poured the fervid accents of the Gael into the ears of the Puketapu. Truce was made. Governor Fitzroy himself settled one troublesome dispute at Waikanae on his journey to Taranaki in November, 1844. Rauparaha and Rangihaeata accepted the compensation which they had previously refused (£400) for land in the valley of the Hutt, and promised that the settlers should not be molested.
While these events occurred in New Zealand the company's friends were active in England. Lord Stanley's rebuke, in 1843, convinced the wily managers that if they wished to break faith they must work like moles, and effect their object through parliamentary agency. The Wairau massacre afforded an opportunity. A Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed.1 After it was nominated Lord Stanley succeeded in adding to it the equable judgment and firm grasp of Mr. Cardwell.
Lord Howick as chairman imported into the deliberations his perverse denial of the hereditary claims of the Maoris, and of the duty of England to abide by her treaty.
1 It is noticeable that the Committee was sitting about the time of the Remuera meeting. One could wish that Lord Howick could for the time have exchanged places with Captain Fitzroy.
1 The majority (7) were Mr. Milne, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Hawes, Mr. Charteris, Lord F. Egerton, Lord Ebrington, and Mr. Aglionby (an active member of the New Zealand Company). The minority (6) included Mr. Hope, Mr. R. Clive, Lord Jocelyn, Sir Robert Inglis, and Mr. Wilson Patten.
Fortunately, the House did not adopt the resolutions, and the confidence which it reposed in the financial ability of Sir Robert Peel (who in that year dealt with the question of banking), made it impossible for the intrigues of Lords Russell and Howick (though already profiting by the personal venom of Disraeli2) to shake the great Minister in his seat.
1 By this grotesque inversion it would follow that a foolish or dishonest Secretary of State may interpret treaties or laws as he chooses, and that his acts are not to conform to them, but they are to be warped in order to subject them to him.
2 Popular opinion sometimes confuses dates. It is often asserted that Sir Robert Peel's change of opinion in 1846 on free trade in corn justified the hostility of Mr. Disraeli. But Sir Robert did not change his abstract opinion in 1846. He had said in the House (May, 1842), that all must “agree in the general rule that we should purchase in the cheapest market, and sell in the dearest.”He had repeated in February, 1843, this conviction, while urging that “unquestionably sound”as the principle was, the “complicated considerations”to be borne in mind, and the “great and extensive interests which had grown up,”made it unwise to meddle rashly with them; although they must give way to the general good (May, 1843). It was not, therefore, on general grounds, nor on account of the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846, that Mr. Disraeli turned traitor to his chief. He had indeed deserted him as soon as he conveniently could after he was not included in Sir Robert Peel's Ministry in 1841. In May of that year he bespattered peel with praise. But in September, when the new Ministry was composed without him, he suffered spretoe injuria formoe, and in February, 1845, was goaded to frenzy by the placid contempt with which Sir Robert said: “I tell the honourable gentleman at once that I will not condescend to reciprocate personalities with him. Neither now, nor after the lapse of a week, will I stoop to do so. I feel no inclination for the practice… Being in the position which I fill, I will pursue that course which I believe to be for the public interest; and if in pursuing it I subject myself to the honourable gentleman's vituperation, or to the much heavier penalty of diminished confidence on the part of others, that penalty I am ready to pay and submit to the consequnces.”This was long before Sir Robert abolished the Corn Laws.
1 Despatch No. 31; 13th August, 1844.
1 There was abundant proof of this assumption. Between the date of the agreement, and the issue of the Charter promised in it, the Under-Secretary, Vernon Smith, formally (2nd December, 1840) recapitulated inter alia Lord J. Russell's intention to subject all titles to the “investigation of a Commission to be appointed for the purpose.”The company never objected to the Commission until they found it could prevent imposture.
1 This method of confiscation has been for the last twenty-five years a favourite scheme with the legal members of governments in New Zealand, who, not unwilling to rob, prefer to rob by parchment rather than with the sword.
Lord Stanley could not undo the work of the Committee. He could not imbue Lord Howick with “justice, good faith, humanity, or policy.”But the poison of the report was neutralized, partially at least, by the despatch. Lord Stanley concealed nothing. He laid his despatch on the table of the House of Commons on the day on which Parliament was assembled (4th February, 1845). It was some consolation to the Governor to feel that the Secretary of State would support him in doing justice, but it was difficult to do justice under the conditions already sanctioned. The issue of conditional grants to unlawful occupiers, on the understanding that further compensation would be made to the natives unjustly dispossessed, was pregnant with injustice. The natives were in those days strong enough to resist it, and it was only their confidence in the Queen which induced them to abide by the decisions of the Commissioner if framed even approximately in accordance with the treaty of Waitangi. Spain's final reports were not sent to the Governor until long after Lord Stanley's weighty despatch had been received. They dealt with the company's claims at Port Nicholson, Nelson, Petre (Wanganui), Porirua, and Manawatu. Fitzroy, in transmitting them (13th September, 1845) to the Secretary of State, regretted that “the only settled claims”were those at Port Nicholson and Nelson. All others page 384 were “disputed by the natives,”excepting as regarded the small block which Fitzroy himself had awarded at Taranaki, and could “not be fully occupied by settlers under existing circumstances until very large additional payments have been made, with great care, much time, and an amount of difficulty that few will encounter.”Eitzroy was surrounded by a sea of troubles. At his conference with Wakefield and others, in January, 1844, he had settled, and Spain in his various awards decided, that all pahs, burial-places, cultivated grounds, and the native reserves, should be exempt from the company's claims: but even this arrangement failed to give satisfaction. The site of Wellington was secured at Port Nicholson on payment of an additional sum of £1500, but much adjacent land was in question. At Nelson, where Rauparaha, Rangihaeata, and their friends admitted the sale of their rights, the claims of the company were contracted by their own arrangements with the Secretary of State to 151,000 acres, within which Spain's award reserved all pahs, cultivation grounds, and burial-places for the natives. The massacre at Wairau delayed the investigation which Spain was ready to make in 1843. It was not until August, 1844, that Spain held it at Nelson. The facts were simple. The evidence of Rauparaha and Rangihaeata was clear. They placed no obstacles in the way. But Captain Wakefield, when forming the settlement, had agreed to make further payments to the resident natives, and to redeem his promise it was arranged that a further sum of £800 should be distributed. While finally rejecting the company's claim at the Wairau, Spain by no means favoured absentee Maori proprietors, for he declared in his report on the Nelson district: “I have set it down as a principle in sales of land in this country by the aborigines, that the rights of the actual occupants must be acknowledged and extinguished before any title can be fairly obtained upon the strength of the satisfaction of claims of self-styled conquerors who do not reside on nor cultivate the soil. In short, that… in all cases the residents, and they alone, have the power of alienating any land.”Utterly repugnant as was this so-called principle to Maori law and usage, and disloyal as it therefore was to the treaty of Waitangi, the fact that he who laid it down pronounced that the company had no claim to page 385 the Wairau, lays bare the folly of the scheme under which the company's agents endeavoured to put fetters upon Rauparaha when he entreated them to wait for the arrival of Spain. At Wanganui (Petre), with the usual reservation of pahs, &c., and subject to a further payment of £1000, 40,000 acres were awarded; but in May, 1844, the assembled natives refused the proffered money and said they would have the land. Spain replied that the offer of the money was sufficient, and that their refusal would not stay the occupation of the land by Europeans. The pernicious expedient of supplementing vicious titles by further payments may have justified this reply in his mind, but he must have felt that it sowed the seeds of future troubles. At Porirua, Rauparaha and Rangihaeata were concerned. They denied the efficacy of Wakefield's alleged bargains in 1839; and Hiko, on whose power Wakefield had relied, when questioned by Spain, averred that he in 1839 had said that Rauparaha was the “man grown,”to be applied to, Hiko being “a youngster.”Spain decided that the company was “not entitled to a Crown grant of any land in the district of Porirua.”At Manawatu, where many chiefs had been willing to sell their rights to certain lands, and where, when Wakefield exhibited the company's wares, in 1839, to excite their cupidity, there was an unseemly struggle, Spain saw many unconsenting owners, and awarded only a small block of 100 acres. He found the influence of Rauparaha exerted everywhere to prevent further alienation of land. Spain, on his way to Manawatu with Wakefield, agreed to meet some chiefs at Ohau to consult about establishing a European settlement there.
Secretly Rauparaha was warned at night of the “korero,”and promptly the old man repaired to the spot. Discarding his ordinary mildness and gravity, “breaking at once into the midst of the meeting, he made a long and violent speech, in which, in a loud tone and with angry gestures, he bade us go on our way to Manawatu, forbade the natives to proceed with the sale, and denounced the whole affair in no measured terms. Some of the natives endeavoured to reply to this tirade, but their courage seemed to fail them in his presence; and at last, under the influence of a power which they felt was irksome, yet could not resist, they told us that any further attempt would page 386 be fruitless.”The large claim at Manawatu was pronounced against by Spain.
When Fitzroy (July, 1845) offered the Port Nicholson and Nelson deeds of grant to Wakefield on payment of the fees (which on 222,900 acres amounted to more than £1100), Wake-field had to refer the matter of the grants and the fees to the Directory in London. Both the company and the Government were in some pecuniary straits at the time. In November, 1844, Fitzroy authorized the police magistrate at Taranaki to employ distressed labourers at 2s. a day on public works, until private employment might be procurable. To Mr. Wicksteed (the company's local agent) he justified his interference by referring to the suspension of payment by the company, the land troubles, and consequent distress. Mr. Wicksteed responded to his appeal for co-operation. So discontented were the Directors of the company in England with the general condition of their affairs, and with the apparent strength of Sir Robert Peel's Ministry, that they appointed a committee, with full authority to conclude any arrangement with the Government. Mr. C. Buller prepared a scheme for a Proprietary Government, in which the provisions of the treaty of Waitangi were to be confined to the Northern Island; and the rights of the natives were to be stifled by a payment from the new company to the Government. It was averred that the treaty of Waitangi had no force elsewhere than at Auckland. This scheme was sent to Lord Stanley in May, 1845, and was by him declined. He was willing to consider suggestions for putting an end to existing embarrassments. Mr. Buller, pending Lord Stanley's decision, had postponed a hostile motion; and as the company was embarrassed, and emigration to New Zealand was arrested, it seemed prudent for the company to make terms, if possible, rather than leave the arbitrament to a House which supported the Ministry of which Lord Stanley was a member. Mr. Buller framed his indictment when negotiation failed. Lord Stanley was the chief mark, but Fitzroy's alleged blunders were cited. Residents at Nelson roughly assailed the Governor's decision on the Wairau affray. He had invaded private rights, virtually suppressed the law, maligned the memory of the dead, and prejudiced public interests by needless page 387 precipitation. They prayed for censure of the Governor by the Queen. Among the memorialists were Mr. Duppa, Mr. E. W. Stafford, Mr. Fox, Mr. Dillon Bell, Dr. Monro, and Mr. Alfred Domett. Lord Stanley's despatch approving Fitzroy's proceeding was on the table of the House in March, 1845. “I am of opinion,”he said, after summing up the case, “that, in declining to make the conflict at the Wairau the subject of criminal proceedings, you took a wise, though undoubtedly a bold, decision.”He did not disapprove the acceptance of the resignation of the magistrates who had signed the warrant to apprehend Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, and had asked Sir Everard Home to enforce it. He approved generally the land arrangements made with Colonel Wakefield. He abstained from condemning the ten-shillings-an-acre Proclamation at Auckland, though he suggested that certain evils must be guarded against in carrying it out. To denounce Fitzroy was therefore to condemn the Secretary of State. But Mr. Buller did not shrink.
Tidings had reached England of outbreaks at the Bay of Islands. Instigated by designing men, English and other Europeans, Honi Heke was reported by Fitzroy to have cut down the flagstaff at Russell (Kororarika). There had also been disturbances at New Plymouth; but Fitzroy reported them as set at rest by his reversal of Spain's decision. Members of Parliament were excited by the acknowledged danger of some thousands of their countrymen. Sympathy, even with wrongdoers, was not unnatural in their distress: but the company had many friends in the House, and laid all blame at the door of the Government. The Remuera gathering seemed to show that the land question might unite the Maoris. It was hard to decide in England whether Hori Heke's violence was the prelude to concerted action.
1 Like customs produce like words. Hĕrĕ is a Maori word for spear. Hĕrĕ also meant “to bind with cords,”and a captive was δεσμώτης.
Fitzroy told Lord Stanley (24th February, 1845), that the only guarantee for the future was to be found in “the presence of an overawing force of regular troops.”He sent an extract from a New Zealand journal, which would, he said, be undoubtedly translated to Rauparaha by one of the mischievous Europeans about him. Rauparaha was denounced as a “beast of prey,”a savage whose life is forfeited by the rude laws of his own tribe as well as by those of England. His own countrymen would acknowledge the right of the kinsmen of those who fell at the Wairau to take his life… against him as against a mad dog there is but one security,—death.… Blood must have blood is the only maxim whose enforcement can deter the savage from murder. There will be no security till Rauparaha and Rangihaeata expiate the massacre of the Wairau by their deaths.”Such writings did more damage to English rule than the presence of a thousand soldiers could undo. Moreover, Fitzroy was warned, and believed that the influence of the chiefs, so far as it was salutary, was being sapped, and lawless aspirations were coursing through the veins of the younger spirits of the tribes. Wild ideas of expelling the English were fostered by foreign intrigues.
In September, a native woman was wounded in the finger by accident by constables who went to apprehend an Englishman of bad character with whom she cohabited. Redress was sought, but the magistrates at Kororarika dismissed the case, and a band of natives violently seized a settler's horses and told him they would keep them till the police magistrate paid for the shedding of the woman's blood. Afterwards, “they would return the horses.”By the intervention of Henry Williams and Clarke, the Protector, whom Sir Everard Home took to Kororarika, a composition was made. A cask of tobacco and a colt were given as compensation. Clarke made gloomy prognostics as to the aggressive tendencies of some of the younger Maoris, and advocated measures to enhance the power of the chiefs. Meanwhile Heke corresponded with Fitzroy, whom he invited to a conference, though he himself had not attended the previous meeting of chiefs with Fitzroy. Till Fitzroy met him “confusion page 391 would remain in the world for ever; if you will not come, I have nothing more to say than this, that I shall cease to look and think favourably of your good words; then I shall call to the infernal gates to burst and deluge the world with darkness.”He had kept away from Waimate, he said, to avoid quarrel with the natives. Fitzroy gave him peaceful advice, and said he hoped to visit the Bay of Islands in the summer, and then to meet Heke.
It has been noticed that Fitzroy passed an Act exempting Maoris from imprisonment in certain cases. In September, 1844, he was at his wits' end in dealing with the finances, further pacifying the natives, and neutralizing the seditious practices of the foreigners who excited disaffection. In May he passed an Ordinance authorizing him to issue debentures. It was disallowed in England as contrary to the Royal Instructions, to prevailing rules, and to the welfare of the colony. In June he passed another Ordinance amending the Customs laws, altering certain duties, and imposing a duty of thirty per cent. on imported guns, weapons, gunpowder, &c. During the same period general legislation was pursued. Every man of full age was made a burgess, and, till he paid any rate, might by paying one pound to the returning officer claim to be put on the roll. Every settlement with 2000 souls was to be a borough.
Fitzroy doubtless hoped to stir the Maoris to self-government by associating them in municipal duties with the Europeans. On the 16th September he thought he had discovered a panacea for “the discontent fast increasing in the minds of the natives at not being allowed to trade alike in all places.”At whatever cost the ports must be thrown open. It was the only measure which could “avert extreme misery, and save the colony from utter ruin.”“We have no money except the paper currency.”The absolute poverty of the settlers (there were 400 deeds of grants of land which he had signed for which the grantees were unable to pay the fees), the distress caused by the cessation of the company's operations, the arrears due by Government, were causing the utmost perplexity. Officials were receiving only half salary in paper money. Fitzroy hoped for a grant from Parliament. He passed his Ordinance repealing the Customs' duties and imposing a tax on property, real and personal, of one page 392 per cent., commencing at the unit of £100. There were not many who could be supposed to have incomes exceeding £1000 a year, but all who chose to do so could compound by paying a yearly sum of twelve pounds. He trusted “that Her Majesty would be graciously pleased to sanction such unprecedented proceedings in consideration of the unprecedented nature of the case, and the most critical condition of the colony.”
His measures were not destined to allay the feelings of the disaffected Maoris. His Customs Duty Abolition Act was itself repealed by an Ordinance passed in April, 1845. It had not pacified the natives, or reconciled Heke. He could not collect the new taxes. The re-establishment of the duties was hailed, he said, with as much delight by all classes as their abolition had been six months before. In the midst of his anxieties he never swerved from a desire to do justice. While warning Lord Stanley (October, 1844), that a sufficient cause might unite the tribes against the English, he urged that “under God's providence the only means”to avert evil was “to take care that our conduct and policy towards the aborigines is so undeniably correct and just that it will stand their most searching scrutiny.”
Early in the summer Heke resumed operations. On the 10th January he cut down the flagstaff at Karorarika, but did not enter the town or attack the English. Fitzroy proclaimed a reward of £100 for the capture of Heke, and appealed, as before, to Governor Gipps. Heke retorted by offering a reward for the capture of Fitzroy. Gipps told his Council that in his opinion troops should be sent from Sydney, and he saw what Lord Howick and Mr. Aglionby had been unable to see, for he recorded his “fear that the want of troops to keep in check the natives and to preserve peace between the two races, would be more extensively felt in proportion as the late report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons should become generally known in the colony.”
Bishop Selwyn (writing about the same time to the Rev. E. Hawkins) deplored the same evil. The missionaries and clergy had always maintained that England would honourably respect the treaty of Waitangi and the rights of the Maoris. “To our great surprise and grief all our assertions have been falsified by the late report of the House of Commons, by which all lands page 393 not actually occupied by the natives are declared to be vested in the Crown;… they can see the merits of a question as clearly as we can… if they detect us in a falsehood, or even in a change of purpose the reason of which they cannot understand, our influence with them is lost.”Two hundred soldiers of the 58th regiment were sent at once from Sydney. Heke was thought by the police magistrate at Kororarika to have been partly deterred from further measures (destruction of public buildings) by a gathering of 200 natives friendly to the English. The second destruction of the flagstaff was significant, and Fitzroy resolved to protect the new symbol of power. Commander Robertson of H.M.S. ‘Hazard’ took from Auckland a block-house, close to which a new and strong flagstaff was to be erected, “guarded by iron bars, hoops, and chain, so as to resist any axe.”A military guard was to be stationed in the block-house nightly. In the end of February the flagstaff was set up. In the same month Clarke, the Protector, reported that Heke, Kawiti, and five others were most disaffected among the chiefs, while Pomare, Ruhe, and Tareha were wavering. Waka Nene, his brother Patuone, Tawhai, and other notable chiefs were opposed to Heke's aims, which were announced to be freedom and the removal of every mark of British authority. Like Catiline (it was said that) Heke had gathered round him the eager and riotous from many tribes.
Fitzroy wrote to Gipps (February, 1845), that relying on future help he was acting on the defensive only. The majority of the natives were friendly, but might be made hostile by injustice or undue interference. The settlers were warned that they must enter Kororarika if they wished to be protected. Heke and his friends meantime closed round the settlement. Kawiti's men plundered houses in the outskirts and opened fire on a boat sent from H.M.S. ‘Hazard’ to intercept them. Archdeacon H. Williams tried his persuasive powers upon Heke in vain. Fitzroy wrote to him (18th February, 1845): “This country and Great Britain owe you deep gratitude for your untiring efforts to put mistaken people in the right track.”It was by assiduous explanation of the justice of the treaty of Waitangi and extolling the good faith of the Queen that Williams prevailed. He circulated amongst the chiefs many page 394 copies of the treaty printed for the occasion. Heke was obdurate. He said the treaty “was all soap, very smooth and oily, but treachery was hidden under it.”All the inhabitants of Kororarika were drilled by Lieutenant Philpotts of H.M.S. ‘Hazard.’ On the 8th, Henry Williams with the police magistrate went to Heke's camp and made a last effort to stay hostilities. On the 9th March, it was believed that Heke and Kawiti with their own followers and allies were from six to seven hundred in number. On that day Lieutenant Philpotts and Mr. Parrott, midshipman, while reconnoitring, were surprised by a large body of Maoris, who detained them for about ten minutes, but liberated them on finding that they had no followers. Chivalrous feeling of such a kind did not check hostility. On the 11th March, before daylight, by several bands of about 200 each, a general attack was made. The guard at the block-house going out at four in the morning to dig a trench were disturbed by firing, and were under arms to assist in repelling the assault when Heke dashed forward with a chosen band and, while most of the guard were away, secured possession of the block-house before the officer knew of his presence. The block-house was on a steep hill, and to avoid severance from his friends, the officer retired down the hill to a lower block-house. The seamen and marines of the ‘Hazard’ did yeomen's service, as did the military and the civilians; but the flagstaff block-house was the key of the position. From it, as from a tower, everything around might be surveyed. Yet though the civilians under arms were but 110, and the military only 50, the main attack was repulsed. The ‘Hazard’ contingent behaved nobly, and Lieutenant Philpotts had to command when his senior officer, Robertson, was wounded in several places, after successfully repulsing the attacking party. Firing continued till noon, when the Maoris hoisted a flag of truce and desired to bury their dead. What might otherwise have followed can only be guessed, for the blowing up of the European powder magazine induced a resolution (after conference on board the ‘Hazard’) to evacuate the settlement. Captain McKeever, of the U.S. frigate ‘St. Louis’ energetically aided in carrying the refugees, in unarmed boats, to the ‘Hazard,’ to the ‘St. Louis,’ and to an English whaling vessel. The natives did not interrupt page 395 the removal, which was covered by firing from the ‘Hazard.’ Most of them remained on the heights while small reconnoitring parties entered the deserted town. Some of them assisted Henry Williams in removing dead bodies to the boats. Others carried property thither. The Bishop and Williams were not molested as they buried the dead.
In reporting the catastrophe to Fitzroy, Lieutenant Philpotts returned “the thanks of every person on board to the Bishop of New Zealand, in the first instance in bringing off the women and wounded, when exposed to a heavy fire, and also in attending during the whole night to their spiritual and bodily wants, performing the most menial offices, and doing everything in his power to alleviate their sufferings.”In the same despatch, while recording the release of himself and Mr. Parrott on the 9th, he paid tribute to “the noble conduct of the natives in sending under the protection of a white flag, from the first block-house, the wife and child of John Tapper, signalman at the flagstaff, who was wounded whilst bravely working one of the guns.”The crowded condition of the ships rendered it dangerous to retain the refugees at Kororarika, and they were removed to Auckland.
The day after the evacuation the Maoris pillaged and burned the town. Fitzroy reported that justice required him “to state that European troops would not have behaved better nor shown less vindictiveness. Acts of a chivalrous nature were performed by them, and their forbearance to the settlers, especially the missionaries, after the conflict was remarkable. No missionary, no mission property, known to be such, was injured intentionally.”The American captain (Fitzroy said) “could not interfere hostilely, but he sent his unarmed boats and went himself under frequent fire to succour the women and children and convey them safely to his frigate.”The surprise of the block-house, from which the officer and sixteen men were distant only two hundred yards, and the subsequent explosion, had rendered it impossible to maintain the place. Fifteen British had died, and more than twenty were wounded, while the relative casualties amongst the Maoris doubled those of the Europeans. Thus for the third time was the flagstaff cut down.
Sir Everard Home, stirred by Fitzroy's appeals, sailed from page 396 Sydney for Auckland on the very day of the attack. He attributed the ill-success at Kororarika to want of knowledge of Maori tactics, and not keeping the troops inside the block-house when alarm was made. The officer in charge had erred on the side of boldness, for while he advanced to fight one band of Maoris another band dashed forward to profit by his absence from the block-house. The conduct of the officers, seamen, and marines of the ‘Hazard’ was the theme of praise in all mouths. Fitzroy had “had offers of assistance from several tribes in the north of New Zealand of about 3000 men, which he declines accepting unless driven to extremity, lest they should become his masters.”1 Sir Everard Home would take the responsibility of remaining at New Zealand against orders till justified in leaving. “The present time is thought by the Governor to be the most critical hitherto experienced in this colony, and it is his opinion that upon the events of the next few months will depend its actual tenure by Great Britain. The utmost efforts have been used by designing men, chiefly foreigners, to render the natives dissatisfied, and to persuade them that we shall ultimately take away their lands and make those whom we do not kill our slaves.”On the 25th March, Fitzroy passed a Militia Ordinance, against which he received petitions, complaining that to organize a local force would keep back permanent assistance from England, and objecting on various grounds to compulsory service. The friendliness of Henry Williams to the Maori race made one of the officers accuse him of treachery. The Governor comforted him by writing (2nd April, 1845), that “the charge was unfounded, unjustifiable, and ungrateful, as it is indeed absurd.”2
1 ‘Life of Henry Williams,’ by Hugh Carleton; vol. ii. Appendix. Auckland, 1877. “Previous to 11th March friendly chiefs went several times to offer their services to protect Kororarika against Heke and Kawiti, but were told to ‘clear off the ground’ lest they should be mistaken for the enemy”(‘Narrative,’ by Henry Williams).
Governor Grey was directed to proceed from Adelaide and assume the government of New Zealand without delay. Anticipating his acquiescence Lord Stanley enclosed his commission; but the government of South Australia was to be administered provisionally so as to be open for his resumption. To insure his personal independence his salary was “to be paid immediately by the Lords of the Treasury.”His new duties had nothing to recommend them but their arduous nature, but, Lord Stanley wrote: “The urgent necessity which has arisen for invoking your aid in New Zealand is the single apology I have to offer (to a man of your character it will be ample apology) for calling on you with no previous notice”to proceed to New Zealand to relieve Captain Fitzroy. He wrote magnanimously about the Maoris. As to the “doctrine maintained by some”that the Waitangi treaty was only a blind to deceive ignorant savages, he said: “In the name of the Queen I utterly deny that any treaty entered into and ratified by Her Majesty's command, was or could have been made in a spirit thus disingenuous, or for a purpose thus unworthy. You will honourably and scrupulously fulfil the conditions of the treaty of Waitangi.”Parliament would be asked for a grant in aid, but on Grey was imposed “the responsibility of finding his own path through the financial difficulties”in the mean time. He must send “reports frequent, punctual, and complete.”In this Fitzroy had failed to do justice to himself. The unfriendly relations with the natives were the chief causes which made Grey's appointment necessary. To his “energy, capacity, and circumspection”Lord Stanley looked. “I devolve upon you a responsibility which it is impossible for me to narrow, and of which I am persuaded you will acquit yourself in such a manner as to enhance your claims to the approbation of the Queen and the gratitude of Her page 398 Majesty's subjects.”To Fitzroy he wrote: “The concern with which I announce this decision is greatly enhanced by the remembrance of the public spirit and disinterestedness with which you assumed this arduous duty, and of the personal sacrifices which you so liberally made on that account, nor can I omit to record that in whatever other respect our confidence in you may have been shaken, Her Majesty's Government retain the most implicit reliance on your personal character and in your zeal for the Queen's service.”
Fitzroy received his recall not without dignity. He was aware that his endeavours to act honestly towards the natives, for the safety of the settlers as well as from principle, had been followed by unceasing efforts to procure his resignation or recall. “It is not known, and I have endeavoured to conceal the fact from the settlers lest still greater alarm should prevail, that I have been struggling to preserve their lives; and that I have willingly sacrificed my own character, temporarily, for the sake of preventing such hostilities as (while there was no protecting force in the colony) would have caused the extermination, not of the natives, but of the settlers.”It was true, but Fitzroy could not state that the gross breach of faith recommended by the Committee of the House of Commons was the most serious obstacle to peace and the most potent weapon in the hands of the seditious. The sailor Governor was not without friends in Parliament. It was known that there were petitions for his recall. Dr. Evans had been deputed by colonists at Wellington to present a memorial in England. They echoed Lord Howick's false phrase by speaking of “what is called the treaty of Waitangi.”They denounced Fitzroy's penny-an-acre proclamation of October, 1844. They strove to limit the rights of the natives to lands in “actual use and occupation,”though it was plain that the owner of a moor in the Highlands of Scotland might be deprived of his inheritance by the construction thus put upon the terms, “full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess.”Dr. Evans went beyond the memorial in assailing the Governor. He had “publicly caressed the perpetrators of the massacre of Wairau;”he had exposed every man to ruin; page 399 he had “abolished Customs duties for the avowed purpose of gratifying rioters.”
Under-Secretary Hope heard and cross-questioned Evans. The baffled envoy complained to Lord Stanley that “the conclusion of the interview has left me completely in the dark as to your Lordship's motives in desiring that I should wait upon Mr. Hope.”On the 26th May, 1845, Mr. Hope, by Lord Stanley's directions, acknowledged his communications, and said that it was Lord Stanley's “intention to reserve for Captain Fitzroy's successor whatever instructions he might think it right to give.”Mr. Hope added that the impetuous delegate had placed an erroneous construction upon the interview with himself.
It was almost unprecedented for a colony to engross the attention of the House so long. It was bought indeed by blood, and Lord Howick and his friends were those who caused page 401 it to be shed; but to have turned the House aside from the petty fencing with which it sometimes amused itself was deemed a high honour. It is worth a passing remark that Macaulay, whose phrase about London Bridge has filled the mouths of hundreds of thousands, had not a word to say on this occasion about the New Zealander. Shiel's want of sincerity was shown by his stilted language. He accused Lord Stanley of “splenetic authoritativeness and fractious sophistication.”Had Lord Stanley been in the House, Shiel would have probably suffered not from sophisticated, but from plain and vigorous English in reply. Mr. Cardwell and Sir J. Graham defended their absent friend. The latter cited the treaty of Waitangi as binding on the honour of England. Lord John Russell gnawed at the treaty; he would narrow the Maori rights to land “in actual occupation by them.”Some members might sin through ignorance, but Lord John sinned boldly with full knowledge of his own degradation, and of the crime he advocated. Sir Robert Peel, at the close of one of his masterly common-sense statements, showed that if the House should now censure Lord Stanley, it would repudiate the doctrines which it had maintained when the treaty was made,—solemnly made by those who now on the Opposition benches were impugning and seeking to violate it,—would lower its character in the estimation of all who respected fidelity to public engagements, and would condemn a Minister who, superior to powerful solicitations, had maintained the good faith and honour of his country. Buller in reply said petulantly that Peel had repeated “all the flummery about the treaty,”but the House rejected his motion by 223 votes against 173.
Then further ominous tidings arrived from New Zealand, and, while the public mind winced under them, Buller renewed his attack (July), moving that the feelings of the House were “greatly aggravated by the want of any sufficient evidence of a “change in the policy which led to such disastrous results.”Mr. (afterwards Sir) James Stephen was virulently attacked in the debate. That practised despatch-writer had in 1840 been bitterly described by Charles Buller under the style of “Mr. Mother-country of the Colonial Office,”and the powerful mind of Gibbon Wakefield had barbed every dart which he could page 402 wing against one whom he looked upon as the embodiment of errors in colonization. Mr. Roebuck now attacked him in Parliament, and Sir Robert Peel placed lance in rest in his defence. Mr. Stephen had offered to resign, but the Government wished him still “to continue to give to the public the great value of his services.”There was personal animosity against him. The company had angry correspondence with the Colonial Office concerning the meaning of words in the agreement made by Lord John Russell in 1840. “For the present,”it said, “Her Majesty's Government engage that all sums of money which shall be paid by the company for the purchase of lands in New Zealand shall, whenever such money shall be paid in this country, be laid out in the removal of emigrants to New Zealand.”In December, 1840, and in June, 1841, Lord John Russell intimated that “after the emigration of the present season, fifty per cent. of the produce of land sales both from the company and individuals would be retained for expenses of survey, aborigines, and other necessary local charges.”In December, 1840, the company were thankful for the “gratifying information”thus afforded. In August, 1841, they remonstrated against it as limiting the emigration fund. Lord John adhered to his decision on the ground that the words “for the present,”were expressly designed to leave Government at “liberty to vary or modify their regulations.”The company alleged that “for the present”had been verbally explained as “some years,”or “two or three years,”and impeached the equity of Lord John's sudden change. Despatches as long as essays were exchanged. Lord Stanley was asked to revert to the original terms, or “failing that to dispense with the rule as it applied to the Nelson settlement.”He properly declined to construe a written contract by vague memory of conversations. Yet, while not admitting the justice of the claim made he consented, because his predecessor's change of policy had been sudden, to devote to “such public objects connected with the Nelson settlement as shall be agreed upon between the company and Her Majesty's Government”one half of the purchase-money of the first 100,000 acres to be bought by the company. In these discussions the difficulty of weaving falsehood into the shape of truth was unpleasantly brought home to the company.page 403
In November, 1841, Mr. Somes sent to Lord Stanley a violent indictment against Hobson, which in the reports of the company occupied forty pages. Lord Stanley, at an interview on 10th January, 1842, told the Directors that it was impossible to receive such a document without controverting its allegations, or to yield to demands made in such a manner. They formally withdrew it, negotiated more reasonably, and on 24th June, 1842, addressed a letter to Lord Stanley, accepting with thanks his final decision with regard to the application of Lord John Russell's terms to the settlement at Nelson. The indictment nevertheless remained at the Colonial Office. But when on the 24th January, 1843, the Directors threw off the mask and dared to demand that the Queen's plighted word should be treated as an idle device to amuse savages, they thought it useful to revive the document they had agreed to withdraw. On the 30th January, they sent it to Lord Stanley as a document signed by Somes “which was never transmitted.”It was “a record of fears entertained at the time,”but “not communicated”to Lord Stanley. It was intended to give weight to their statement that it was vain for them “any longer to contend with the hostility of the Government in New Zealand and the evils of perpetual conflict with your Lordship's department.”Lord Stanley's memorable declaration (1st February, 1843), that while he served the Crown he would not admit that “any one acting in the name of Her Majesty could contract legal, moral, or honorary obligation to despoil others of their lawful and equitable rights,”proved to the company that their threats had failed to overawe him. When the indictment of the 24th November, 1841, was again sent to him in 1843, he scornfully said he would “not hazard the expression of the surprise with which he read the statements”that it had not been transmitted or communicated to him in 1842;… statements “certainly at variance with the facts.”It was still amongst the records of the department. He recounted the process of its formal withdrawal and the thanks proffered to him subsequently. As the indictment had been re-transmitted to him he remorselessly tore into shreds the arguments by which the company had striven to warp their agreement with Lord John Russell by reference to alleged conversations. He page 404 proved from their previous letters that such perversion of the agreement was not compatible with the letters exchanged between the company and the Colonial Office.
Mr. Somes devoted several pages to a sophistical proof that he had with “perfect propriety”described the indictment as not having been transmitted. There was one discrepancy which even Somes could not overcome. On the 29th July, 1841, Somes had written that the Directors were partly prepared (by Lord John Russell's letter of December, 1840), for an intimation from Lord John Russell about the funds available for carrying emigrants to New Zealand. On the 20th August, 1841, the same Somes said they were “totally unprepared”for the same intimation contained in a letter dated more than six months after the first. Lord Stanley had pointed out the disagreement in May, 1842. Somes then alleged that different Directors had prepared the conflicting accounts of the mental condition of their body, and told Lord Stanley, “your detection of the slip which we had committed has served ever since to make us very careful in correspondence with your Lordship.”If the company had accepted warning that Lord Stanley was not easily to be deceived, he had also been warned that their statements could not unreservedly be accepted. In May, 1842, he felt bound to omit “all reference to private conversations and understandings, and look to the official records of the transactions between the Government and the company as those alone by which he must be guided.”In February, 1843, he refused to “engraft on the company's agreement an unrecorded condition varying or qualifying the express terms of it;”and he proved that the existence of such a condition was irreconcilable with several despatches written by the company's authority. It was Mr. (afterwards Sir) James Stephen, who was averred to have been “the organ of the Government”in conveying Lord John Russell's approval of a variation of the terms of the agreement, not recorded, but understood, at the time by Mr. J. A. Smith, Mr. Hutt, and Mr. Charles Buller, the recipients of Stephen's explanation. In March, 1843, that gentleman rebutted the charge that he had made any such pledge for Lord John Russell; and the evidence seemed to be in Stephen's favour. The company had signed the agreement page 405 without introducing the variation. They were silent about it for twelve months during a correspondence dealing with the subject on which they alleged afterwards that the pledge had been given. Moreover, Stephen himself had differed from Lord J. Russell on the expediency of making the concession asked by the company, and could not have undertaken to pledge Lord John to that of which his disapproval was well known. Their letters, for twelve months after the agreement was made, clearly proved that Stephen had conveyed no such pledge to them. Moreover, Stephen saw the Directors, Hutt and Smith, in April, 1841, and no words then used by him could have influenced them to adopt the agreement which was signed in November, 1840. As to Mr. Buller, Stephen said: “So far as the question in debate is narrowed to this point, whether his recollection or mine of what passed between him and me alone is the more entitled to credit, it is a point respecting which I have no solicitude.”These passages of arms account for the acrimony of the company against the permanent officer over whom Sir Robert Peel threw his ægis in the debate. Sir Robert was firm as a rock in defence of the honour of the country and of Lord Stanley. He did not say that the treaty of Waitangi ought to have been made, but maintained that being made it ought not to be violated. For his own part he thought the treaty had been unwise. It would have been better to assert sovereignty on ground of discovery and negotiate with the chiefs for the sale of land. But Lord Melbourne's Government had made the treaty, and England was bound by it. “Surely”(Sir Robert retorted in June to an interruption from Lord J. Russell) “the noble Lord will not make a distinction between Lord Normanby and himself… If ever there was a case where the stronger party was obliged by its position to respect the demands of the weaker it was the engagements contracted under such circmustances with these native chiefs.”In July he said the point at issue was whether Lord Stanley should be unjustly censured for avowing his determination to carry honourably into effect the treaty made by his predecessor. “After all the volumes of controversy which have appeared, the question really resolves itself into this. Shall the Government undertake to guarantee in this country, within certain limits in New page 406 Zealand, a certain amount of land without reference to the rights to that land vesting in the natives?… This I tell you distinctly we will not do; and if the House entertains a different opinion, it is but right that it should give expression to it. We will not undertake in the absence of surveys and local information, as to the claims of the natives, to assign to you a million, or any other number of acres, and dispossess the natives by the sword.… I will not do that which the New Zealand Company seem to think I might do—undertake to supersede a Minister who I believe has discharged his official duties with almost unexampled ability, and with a sincere desire to promote the interests of every colony over which he now presides.”
Lord John Russell ineffectually replied, and Mr. Buller's motion was defeated on the 23rd July. Worsted in Parliament, the company made a strange appeal to the law. They procured an opinion from counsel that the Government of New Zealand from the beginning rested on no lawful foundation, and that all past acts of the Governor and Council were null and void. They endeavoured to awe Lord Stanley by telling him of the fact, on the 7th July, lest he should commit any errors in despatches about to be sent to Governor Grey. Lord Stanley thanked them for their courtesy. His despatches had been sent away before their letter reached him, but he would consider with the aid of legal advisers the statement which the company were about to send. The opinion adverse to the legality of the Government was given by Mr. William Burge, and rested on technical grounds. Lord Stanley submitted it to the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General, and to Sir Thomas Wilde, who had been Attorney-General under the Ministry which sent the first Governor to New Zealand. On equally technical grounds, the names of Fitzroy Kelly, F. Thesiger, and Thomas Wilde, vouched that neither Mr. Burge's “reasons nor any other that occur to us furnish any well-founded doubt upon the subject.”Lord Stanley directed Governor Grey to be guided by their opinion in New Zealand, and “if Mr. Burge's opinion should have been made public there (as will probably have been the case), you will give equal publicity to the joint opinion of the three legal advisers of the Crown which I now transmit to you.” page 407 The company were defeated at all points in England; and every eye was fixed upon Captain Grey, who in November, 1845, arrived in Auckland, where Fitzroy with less means and support than were confided to Grey, had not been able to terminate the financial or warlike difficulties of the time. In March he had wished to enforce the evacuation of the land awarded at the river Hutt, where some natives persisted in remaining. Richmond, the superintendent, was sure that if a proper amount of force were shown the Maoris would disperse; but all the available force was required in the North to cope with Heke and Kawiti.
There was a tribal feud between Te Heuheu and other Maoris, which Major Richmond, with the aid of Bishop Selwyn, the Rev. Richard Taylor, and Forsaith the interpreter, after much discussion diverted from bloody consequences in January, 1846. This was a triumph of peace, but no demonstration of power had brought it about. Meantime, the rumours of foreign interference took shape. Heke, acquainted with history, declared that he aspired to free his country, but the seditious friends who prompted him had no hope that New Zealand could alone maintain a national freedom. The English yoke must first be shaken off, and then the alliance of the United States was to be secured. Auckland, it was believed, was to be attacked in April. Fitzroy told Lord Stanley that at least two regiments of the line and three or four men-of-war were indispensable. He was one of the few who still trusted the friendly natives, arrayed under Waka Nene's guidance, to control Heke; “but the result, or their ultimate conduct, was doubtful. If attacked by moderate numbers we shall beat them off, but if an extensive combination of tribes takes place, awful indeed will be the consequences”(9th April, 1845). Again the dishonourable proposals of the Select Committee were England's worst enemy. What was so likely to cause extensive combination of tribes as proof that England would not keep faith? “On one side,”Fitzroy wrote, “we shall have the consciousness of right and the energy of despair, and no retreat.”After the burning of Kororarika, the barracks at Auckland had been made musketproof, and fit to shelter the inhabitants, by virtue of a resolution page 408 of the Legislative Council, which sat till the 22nd April, re-enacting the Customs duties, passing Militia and Highway Rate Acts, and (in order to obtain the required fees on Crown grants) imposing a fee of five shillings a month on all Crown grants left in the hands of the Government more than three months after notice that they were ready to be delivered.
Well might Captain Rous say that Fitzroy's position made good government impossible. Warned that he could hope for neither men nor money; his debenture measures being disallowed; his European subjects numbering about 12,000, distributed at eight settlements (the Maoris being estimated at 110,000), Fitzroy must in his inner heart have yearned for release from a post where he was neither provided with help from abroad, nor at liberty to act freely on the spot. One thing seemed certain. He would have to fight. His first remarkable action was a blunder which might have cost him the alliance of the friendly Maoris. Pomārĕ, a chief of the Ngapuhi (of whom Waka Nene was the recognized leader), was a sharer in the plunder of Kororarika. Fitzroy caused him to be captured by treachery while a flag of truce was flying, and Pomare's pah (at which dangerous letters were proved to have been written) was destroyed. Waka Nene sent a deputation to Auckland. He who had mainly induced his countrymen to make the treaty of Waitangi, was interested in maintaining friendly relations with the English. But if he should fall off the outlook would be gloomy. He asked for Pomare's release. He would guarantee his future good conduct, and would “root out”the rebels. Pomare was pardoned on conditions. He admitted that the letters written at his pah were very bad, but denied his complicity in them, and undertook to use his influence to obtain restitution of the Kororarika plunder. The chiefs were asked to restore it absolutely, but they stipulated that only what could be found should be restored. Pomare returned to his friends; and Heke and Kawiti, who could bring into the field no force which could cope with that of Waka Nene, endeavoured to strengthen themselves for resistance by building fortified pahs, which they thought impregnable. To these they did not retreat until Waka Nene had pressed them page 409 hard, without any aid from the English, while Fitzroy waited for reinforcements.
In July, 1845, Clarke, the Protector, reported Waka Nene's doings to Fitzroy, and warned him that “if the British Government contemplated the immediate or even the ultimate adoption of the principles embodied and recommended in the report of the Select Committee… they would consider themselves relieved from every obligation, and rise en masse to assert and maintain their independence.”Fitzroy transmitted this opinion to Lord Stanley in duplicate without delay; but that nobleman had already insisted on maintaining honourably the treaty of Waitangi, and to his plain speaking the company's settlers were perhaps indebted for safety. Had the intrigues of the company succeeded in England their emigrants might have been swept away in a hurricane of indignation. With a simplicity which amounted to the bitterest irony, the Protector said that Heke's arguments bore a strong analogy to the principles of the report of the Committee. Fitzroy (far more sagacious than the Governor in 1860 was to be found) warned Lord Stanley that the military talents of Maoris had been much under-rated. He saw the true cause of danger. In October, 1845, he said: “I cannot believe that those most dangerous resolutions of the House of Commons in 1844, respecting unoccupied land, can be adopted by Her Majesty's Government; but if such should be the fatal case, the native population will unite against the settlers, and the destruction of the colony as a field for emigration must be the result. There is not a braver nor a more intelligent race of men than the New Zealanders. It would require many thousand men, extremely well commanded and supplied, to conquer even half the Northern Island.”As reinforcements reached him, Fitzroy determined to act, preserving friendly relations with the powerful Waka Nene and other chiefs. Portions of the 58th and 96th Regiments with men from the ‘North Star’ and the ‘Hazard,’ amounting in all to 400, under Colonel Hulme, aided by a similar number of Maoris under Waka Nene, proceeded early in May, 1845, to attack Heke at Okaihau, a pah of Kawiti's. Colonel Hulme's order to storm was strongly protested against by Waka Nene as an act of madness. Two rows of palisades page 410 and a fosse guarded and concealed the defenders. A rocket disconcerted them, but Heke entreated them to wait for what was to come. A sally, made simultaneously with a rush from an ambush in the neighbouring forest, was foiled by the watchfulness of a native ally, and the besieged were driven into their entrenchments at the point of the bayonet. Kawiti lost two sons in the fight. Fourteen soldiers were killed and thirty-nine were wounded. At night the besieged Maoris were heard singing their evening hymn. Hopeless of storming the pah without artillery, Colonel Hulme drew off his troops without molestation, and the kindness of the Maoris in carrying the wounded through difficult paths won admiration from the soldiery. Surprise was mingled with respect when it was known that Heke's men deepened the graves of the English dead and caused Christian burial service to be read over them. Emboldened by success, Heke attacked Waka Nene at Pukenui with a superior force, but by determined bravery was driven back, himself and several other chiefs being wounded in the attempt to crush Waka Nene before fresh troops, under Colonel Despard, could be landed. Fitzroy, further reinforced by the arrival of Colonel Despard of the 99th Regiment, ordered that the enemy should be assailed at the Ohaeawai pah. Three rows of palisading protected it. The inner one was made of trunks of trees, some of them twenty inches in diameter. Between it and the middle palisade was a fosse five feet deep, in which the Maoris were concealed, and from which they fired. Underground passages communicated with the interior, in which also were excavations to shelter the Maoris, who were deemed to be 250 in number. Flax, hung over the outer palisade, served as a screen, and concealed the inner palisade.
Colonel Despard had more than 600 men and four guns. Waka Nene had 250 Maoris. On the 24th June, Despard opened fire. His guns were small and ineffective, and by much toil the commander of the ‘Hazard’ dragged a thirty-two pounder to the spot, and got it into position a hundred yards from the palisade. The enemy made occasional sallies: on one occasion so unexpectedly as almost to capture Despard himself. They took a British flag and hoisted it under Heke's in their pah. Judging from what he could see, Despard thought the page 411 destruction caused by the thirty-two pounder justified an attempt to storm. Waka Nene deprecated it strongly, and was supported by the senior engineer officer; but Despard ordered the assault on the 1st July. One hundred and sixty soldiers under Majors Macpherson and Bridge, forty sailors and volunteers under Lieutenant Philpotts of H.M.S. ‘Hazard,’ essayed the hopeless task. They tugged at the palisades in vain. The strong inner one was almost uninjured by the bombardment. Two officers and nearly half the men were struck down before the baffled remainder drew off. A sally was apprehended, but the Maoris were otherwise engaged. They had captured a soldier of the 99th in the morning, and they danced their war-dance, and it was said tortured their prisoner. Through the still night cries, believed to be his, mingled with the groans of the wounded, and only overborne by savage yells, inflicted torture on his comrades at their camp. Archdeacon Henry Williams went to bury the dead, and was warned off but not assailed. The impunity with which he approached the rebels, as they were called, aroused the wrath of the fiery Philpotts, who denounced him unsparingly. After two days a flag of truce was shown in the pah, and the English were invited to bury their dead. Thirty-four were dead and sixty-six wounded. Captain Grant of the 58th Regiment and Lieutenant Philpotts of the ‘Hazard’ were among the killed. Not, it seemed, for cannibal orgies, but to mutilate a chieftain's body and please the god of war, the officers' bodies had been mutilated. When peace was made it was found that Philpotts' reckless daring in struggling to enter the palisade had earned for him the admiration of his foes. Disgust at imagined treachery and irritation at defeat were thought by some to have determined him to lose his life. It was said that the Maoris called to him to go back, being loth to kill a man so brave. The courage of the English soldier made him popular with his Maori enemies, one of whom said, “We had been often told that soldiers would go wherever they were bid to certain death; but we did not believe it. Now we know it.”In the Maori theory of war the object was to avoid giving the enemy the pleasure of taking life, and fortified positions were valuable because they enabled the defendants to inflict loss on the enemy. To risk life in assaulting them was in Maori eyes a blunder. It was before page 412 the assault on Ohaeawai that a peculiarity in Maori courtesy surprised the English. The convoys of food were unmolested on the ground that the enemy would not be able to fight if he had no food, and the Maori object was to fight him, not to starve him. Despard remained at his camp, and when the arrival of more shot enabled him to use a thirty-two pounder, on the 9th July he brought it to bear upon the pah. On the night of the 10th the Maoris evacuated Ohaeawai, but the English force knew nothing of the fact till told of it by a friend next day, who said that the Maoris were already at Ikorangi, ten miles away.
On the 14th July, Despard drew off his men to Waimate. He had doubly failed. Waka Nene thought him a fool for ordering such an assault. Heke's forces had abandoned Ohaeawai, but they claimed success on the ground that they had not lost so many men as the English. Clarke, the Protector, hoped that Heke would now seek peace, and to encourage him to do so Fitzroy sent the soldiers to Kororarika where they began to form a military post. The colonists deprecated the cessation of hostilities. Not to avenge the past was to submit to degradation, and to invite future ill-treatment by the Maoris. England must send troops. There must be no half-measures. No inquiry or diplomacy was necessary. Slaughter was the one panacea for all ills in New Zealand.
Donald McLean, the Protector of aborigines in the western district, was hospitably entertained by the great chief Hēŭ-hēŭ at Taupo in July, 1845, and wrote that Heu-heu praised Heke for asserting his country's freedom against the English, who were an insatiable people, for whom, however, the Americans were a check. Bonaparte would have been a match for the English, he thought, if he had not been taken by stratagem. But more peaceful agencies were at work. Bishop Selwyn had at his college a son of Rauparaha. Fitzroy sent to Lord Stanley a letter from Rauparaha himself to Whero Whero, the great Waikato chief, in which the old warrior urgently counselled peace with the white man, and reprobated the mad conduct of Heke. Through these agencies Heke remained in a minority, but Fitzroy forwarded a letter from a missionary stating positively that “if the Government were to attempt to put in practice the recommendations of the Committee of the House of page 413 Commons there would be a general resistance.”The Committee made it impossible for Fitzroy to govern peaceably, and he was reviled for not doing so. Fitzroy corresponded with Heke and Kawiti. In May, Heke justified the destruction of the flagstaff. He was told that it was the symbol that the Maoris had no power over their country. “I cut it down. God made this land for us and for our children. Are we the only people that God has created without giving land to live upon?”In July, after the siege at Ohaeawai, Heke called on Fitzroy to make peace, but he wrote proudly. Fitzroy told him that more ships and soldiers were coming, and that he must put down all who caused tumult and war. Heke was bound by the treaty of Waitangi which he had signed. In August, Heke wrote a long letter, again justifying himself, in graphic phrases. He sneered at the motives of Waka Nene and his friends, and said that if peace was not made with Kawiti it could not be made with himself. If there should be further war it would “assume a different aspect,”and the fault would be Fitzroy's. Kawiti meanwhile was building fortified places. He wrote from one of them (September, 1845), Ruapekapeka (Bat's Nest) to Archdeacon Williams, consenting to peace at Williams' intercession. On the 29th September, Fitzroy communicated his terms. 1. The treaty of Waitangi to be binding. 2. The British colours to be sacred. 3. All plunder now in possession of the natives to be restored. 4. The following places to be given up to the Queen, and to remain unoccupied by any one until the decision of Her Majesty be signified, namely—parts of Mawe, Ohaeawai Taiamai, Te Aute, Wangai, Waikare, Katore, and Kaipatiki. 5. Hostilities to cease entirely between all chiefs and tribes now in arms, with or against the Government.
It is a strange commentary upon Wakefield's alleged purchases, and upon the charges made against Maoris, that some of the lands thus demanded by Fitzroy were not under the control of Kawiti or Heke. When Grey arrived in New Zealand, Fitzroy, better informed, wrote to him (22nd November, 1845): “Defective information about the lands was given to me. I was under the impression, until very recently, that the lands named, through Colonel Despard and the Rev. Mr. Burrows privately, included those of Heke, Kawiti, and the Waikadi natives.”How page 414 could Kawiti or Heke subscribe to such terms? Heke told Mr. Burrows on receiving them, that he must consult the owners of the lands required to be given up. Afterwards he said that none of the lands demanded were his. Kawiti was not the owner of some of them, but would yield none. Kawiti wrote (7th October): “It was you who said that I was the first to commence killing the Europeans, and that I should therefore be the first to propose peace. I accordingly gave my consent in a letter to Mr. Williams. It is he who said you were urging me to make peace; on this account I wrote a letter to you, but as you have said we are to fight—yes—we will fight. If you say Let peace be made, it is agreeable; but as regards this you shall not have my land,—no, never, never! I have been fighting for my land; if you had said that my land should be retained by myself I should have been pleased. Sir, if you are very desirous to get my land I shall be equally desirous to retain it. This is the end of my speech. It ceases here.—From me, Kawiti.”
Fitzroy had proclaimed a free pardon for every native retiring from the rebel chiefs, but he postponed active hostilities lest, while Despard was attacking Kawiti, Heke should destroy Waimate. Despard had ascertained that the whole of his force would be required to take Ruapekapeka. Fitzroy awaited more men from England. On the 25th October, he made a catalogue of ships and men at his command. H.M.S. ‘Osprey,’ ‘Racehorse,’ ‘Dædalus,’ ‘North Star,’ and ‘Hazard’ were available, though the ‘Daphne’ had returned to Valparaiso. At Waimate Colonel Despard had 390 soldiers and 50 militia. At Auckland Colonel Hulme had 90 soldiers. At Wellington there were 150 soldiers and 200 militia. Colonel Wynyard had arrived at Auckland in October, with 200 of the 58th Regiment. The Rarawa chief Nopera Panakareao had arrived with 100 men to assist Waka Nene and the allies. In publicly welcoming him Nene pointed to the hills to which Heke had retreated, and stamped on the ground, as he hoped that Heke would come near, but declared that he had no will to follow him to the woods. It was disgraceful in Maori eyes to suffer loss from ambuscades. Panakareao and others were more eager for the fray. They “would not return back till they had drunk the page 415 waters of the Kawa Kawa,”a stream which watered the lands to which Kawiti had retreated. In the end of October, Colonel Despard had a long conference with Waka Nene and other chiefs, and it was determined that the Maori allies should remain near Waimate.
The new Governor arrived at Auckland on the 14th November, armed with the confidence of Lord Stanley, of a majority in Parliament, and with pecuniary and military supplies which had been denied to Fitzroy. On the 18th November, he assumed the Government. Rumours had been sedulously spread as to his evil intentions against the Maoris and their lands. Fitzroy's conditions of peace, which included surrender of lands, were unwise because they fostered a belief in such rumours. Grey held a levée on assuming office, and assured native chiefs who were there that the Queen desired to promote their happiness. On the 21st, the chiefs had a special interview with Grey, and were satisfied with his assurance that there was no desire on the part of the British Government to deprive them of their lands. They returned from Auckland to the Bay of Islands in H.M.S. ‘North Star.’ In reporting the interview, Grey advised Lord Stanley that the military and naval force asked for by Fitzroy should be placed at his disposal together with an armed steamer. The minds of settlers and natives were disturbed. Nearly £37,000 of debentures were afloat, and to interfere with them would breed general disaffection. The importation of arms and ammunition had never been checked, and his official advisers assured him that if he ventured to control it a general revolt was probable.
Of the sincerity of their fears there could be no doubt. Fitzroy either shared them or apprehended other ill consequences. He had received Lord Stanley's despatch disallowing the Debenture Ordinance six weeks before Grey's arrival. The last phrase was: “You will immediately cause Her Majesty's decision to be published in the usual and most authentic manner.”He had disobeyed. It was not known in Auckland that the Ordinance had been disallowed. The day after he had assumed office Grey asked if the despatch had been received. It was not among the documents handed over to him. It was not produced till he had made arrangements to visit the Bay of Islands. He page 416 promptly published the disallowance, and, to alleviate distress and allay alarm, he notified that of debentures for not less than £70, when produced at the Treasury, one-fourth would be paid in specie, and a debenture for the remaining principal and interest would be issued bearing eight per cent, interest, payable at any time at the option of the Government after three months notice. Grey's instructions, though not Fitzroy's, gave confidence that this step might be sanctioned, for Grey had almost a blank charter. To carry it into effect he borrowed £1800 from the military chest, intending to repay it out of the parliamentary grant to his Government. Having thus asserted his position with the whites he sailed to the Bay of Islands to deal with the Maoris. Within six days of his assumption of office he was able to write that the “hitherto friendly chiefs”were well acquainted with the discussions in the House of Commons, and were consequently distrustful, “their apprehensions being avowedly based upon what transpired during the debate”on Buller's motions. On the 28th he had an interview with the chiefs, on which much was to depend. Waka Nene and his friends received a public assurance from Grey (in conformity with Lord Stanley's direction) that it was the intention of the Government “most punctually and scrupulously to fulfil the terms and promises of the treaty which was signed at Waitangi on the arrival of Governor Hobson.”He told them that he allowed Kawiti and Heke only four more days to accept Fitzroy's terms; promised to punish whites and Maoris impartially for any wrong-doing, and to acquaint the Queen with the loyalty of Waka Nene, Macquarie Mohi Tawhai, Broughton, and “other great and good chiefs.”Waka Nene and others pronounced emphatically that Grey's speech was just and right.
War was deemed certain, for Waka Nene knew that Kawiti and Heke would not yield the demanded lands. To some of them Waka Nene asserted his own claims, and was so confident in Kawiti's honour that he declared if Kawiti were present, though an enemy, he would acknowledge the claims to be just.
A prompt acknowledgment that the Waitangi treaty was binding on the English was better than an army. Kawiti and Heke could bring no more than 700 men into the field. Waka Nene and his friends could command many more. They page 417 had 900 under arms to aid Despard before Grey arrived. Mohi Tawhai raised 600 men at his own cost. Yet though opposed to Heke these chiefs were not unfaithful to their country like the tribes or nations used by the Romans in subjugating lands. The Maoris did not call in the aid of the English to enable them to win their battles. They accepted sovereignty because English, French, and Americans were gathering upon their coasts, and the island reeked with the moral abominations engendered by foreigners. They did not accept British rule until Marsden, who loved them so well, had been driven to the conclusion that it had become necessary in the interests of the Maoris themselves. Heke had clearly infringed the treaty which guaranteed the Maori rights so dear to all. Even Heke might not have been induced to destroy the flagstaff unless the House of Commons Committee had afforded grounds for the seditious advisers who surrounded him. Grey annihilated Fitzroy's terms by requiring answers from Kawiti and Heke in so short a time that it was impossible for them to confer in order to reply. He desired and expected thus to annul by artifice the terms, which, as Kawiti and Heke were not the owners of the lands demanded, could not be decently urged. Correspondence was carried on to the last. Grey's ultimatum had been given on the 27th November. On the 29th Kawiti wrote: “I am not willing to give up the Kotore which is demanded to be given up, because that place, the Kotore, does not belong to me. The right is with the people of the Kawa Kawa, with Matthew, with James. Now you understand I will not give up that place; that is the whole of my saying upon this subject.”
He said in a separate letter that Waka Nene's fighting was not for the English dead: “No, it is on account of those who were killed long ago; on account of Hao, Tuahui, Tihi, and Pooka. These were killed long, long ago. Sir, Governor, the thought is with you regarding Waka Nene that he return to his own place. Do not be hasty about the land. Land is enduring, but man passes away. Friend, I have no desire to write to you, but you can write if you are pleased with my letter. Sir, if you say that we shall fight—it is well. If you say cease—it is well.”Thus wrote the old warrior, though already he had passed the threescore years and ten allotted to man. Heke was more violent. page 418 He said: “You are a stranger, we are strangers; we do not understand your thoughts, and you do not understand our thoughts. God has made this country for us; it cannot be sliced; if it were a whale it might be sliced; but as for this, do you return to your own country, to England which was made by God for you. God has made this land for us, and not for any stranger or foreign nation to lay hand on this sacred country.”He cited the words of a war song: “Oh! let us fight, fight, fight, aha; let us fight, aha, for the land which lies open before us!—you have not taken it away to your land, to Europe…”
Old age and manhood thus rose against the desperate odds which were arrayed against them. Better a warrior's death than a slave's submission. The terms offered being as described neither chief would accede to them, and Grey was meantime preparing for war. Thinking it safer to rely on pecuniary gifts than on “abstract sentiments,”he appointed some of the chiefs magistrates with salaries. He had about 700 men of the 58th and 99th regiments, with artillery and marines, and four ships of war were at Kororarika. Kawiti at Ruapekapeka, 22 miles south of Kororarika, had 200 men. Heke, 20 miles from Kawiti, had the same number. Grey directed Despard to move his troops to the head of the boat navigation of the river Kawa Kawa, in readiness to strike Kawiti, whose pah was distant thence only ten miles. After arranging for the issue of supplies of flour and sugar to his native allies, Grey returned to Auckland, summoned his Council on the 12th December, took “the first public opportunity of stating in the most explicit terms,”in his opening speech, that he had “been instructed most honourably and scrupulously to fulfil the conditions of the treaty of Waitangi, by which the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand and the respective families and individuals thereof, may collectively or individually possess, was confirmed and guaranteed to them so long as it may be their wish and desire to retain the same.”
The machinations of the company, and the sinister recommendations of the House of Commons, were thus publicly disowned on the part of the Crown within a few weeks of the Governor's arrival in New Zealand. On the following day he page 419 passed an Ordinance empowering him to regulate by proclamation everything relating to the importation and sale of warlike stores. Waka Nene and other friendly chiefs, wiser than the European counsellors, pressed the importance of passing this law upon Grey. It was therefore safe to pass it. He found the colonial debt to be £75,000: the outlay of the year £48,000: while the income from all sources, including a parliamentary grant, was only £25,000. He told Lord Stanley he must draw drafts in excess of the credit placed at his disposal, but would use all practical economy. He returned immediately to the seat of war, where the arrival of H.M.S. ‘Castor’ from China had increased the forces at his command. He had 1100 men available on shore, besides native allies. In due time all his proceedings were sanctioned by Lord Stanley's successor, Mr. Gladstone: his intended maintenance of the treaty of Waitangi being “highly approved.”On the 19th December he gave written instructions to the chief Macquarie, who was chosen by the native allies to prevent a junction between Heke's and Kawiti's forces. “You, like a fine fellow, watch the rebels. If they march to join Kawiti, fall upon their rear; if they turn upon you do not commit yourself to a serious action, but feign a retreat. Then the moment they again turn towards Kawiti once more harass their rear. Repeat this operation as often as you can. But when they get near the Ruapekapeka, press them closely; and, if you can, drive them in upon Kawiti in a state of disorder. They shall be looked after when they get there.…”
Macquarie performed his task admirably. Heke, however, suffered no disaster. On one occasion he surprised a party taking cattle to the English camp, and gallantly assisted them in their task. When told afterwards that he should have captured them with a view to starve his foes, he replied as on a former occasion at Ohaeawai. In the end of December, Ruapekapeka was beleaguered by Despard. Roads were made and heavy guns were dragged over hills and through forests by the sailors, working in parties of fifty or sixty to a gun. On the 31st, rockets and shells were thrown into the pah. A stockade to cover a battery was in course of construction by the troops, and the detachment placed there was in imminent danger from page 420 a secret sally when Waka Nene, Nopera, and other chiefs dashed forward and drove back the assailants with loss. Waka Nene begged that the Europeans would not interfere, because he dreaded lest the soldiers should not distinguish between friend and foe. He could trust the keen sight of his practised Maoris. He presented to Grey the trophies of the slain, but was requested to retain them. On the 9th January, thirty-two pounders, eighteen pounders, howitzers, and mortars were in position before the stronghold, which was only 350 yards from the main battery. The forces employed were nearly 2000, inclusive of Maori allies. A general fire was opened on Saturday the 10th, and kept up without intermission during the day. The outer works were damaged, “but the numerous stockades inside, crossing the place in different directions, and composed of much stronger timbers, were scarcely touched.”An assault was in contemplation by Despard, but on the vehement remonstrances of Mohi Tawhai, it was not undertaken. Heke in the moment of danger entered the pah with forces, and the loss of life in storming might have been great. On Sunday, though firing was going on, the garrison were collected at prayers in one of their outworks sheltered by the slope of the ground from observation and from shot. A brother of Waka Nene, noticing that no Maoris were moving about in the pah, crept with a band of allies towards the partial breach made in the outer works. He suspected the pah might be evacuated. It was common for Maoris to betake themselves from one stronghold to another. The wily chief soon saw the actual condition. He made signs to the English, and Captain Denny with 100 men entered the pah with many natives before the besieged Maoris learned the fact that the Sunday services did not interfere with European warfare. They stood to arms at once, but their own stronghold was now the strength of their enemies. They poured in a fire of musketry from the back of the pah and from their outworks, but outnumbered as they were by the rapid rush of soldiers, sailors, and Maoris, they were forced to retreat to a thick wood to the east of the pah, where trees cut down and placed in position beforehand gave them shelter, and thence they kept up a galling fire. A gap was made in the palisading, and sailors and soldiers rushed out and dislodged them, but they covered page 421 their retreat and carried off their wounded. The engagement lasted four hours. All firing ceased at two o'clock.
In his official report to the Governor, Colonel Despard said: “Your Excellency has been an eye-witness to all our operations and I may say, actually engaged in the assault.”Twelve English fell and thirty were wounded. It was estimated that the enemy had lost twenty-five men. Despard had reason to be thankful that Mohi Tawhai had stayed the assault. He reported on the 12th January:
“The extraordinary strength of this place, particularly in its interior defences, exceeded any idea I could have formed of it. Every hut was a complete fortress in itself, being strongly stockaded all round, with heavy timbers sunk deep in the ground and placed close to each other, few of them being less than one foot in diameter and many considerably more, besides having a strong embankment thrown up behind them. Each hut had also a deep excavation close to it, forming a complete bomb-proof, and sufficiently large to contain several people, where at night they were completely sheltered from both shot and shell.”
Such was the strength of the place and such the gallantry of its defenders that unmeasured eulogy was poured upon its captors, although the besiegers thrice outnumbered the besieged, and had heavy guns and rockets opposed to common fowlingpieces and muskets. The news of the capture and the peace did not reach Sydney till the 11th February, where it gave relief to anxious minds. The capture was indeed significant. Grey's assurances had satisfied the Maori allies as to the maintenance of the Waitangi treaty. Kawiti and Heke could not hope to excite a general rising, and they were not so mad as to prolong strife in which the majority of their own countrymen were arrayed against them. They did not keep their forces together after making good their retreat from Ruapekapeka. Grey returned to Auckland, whither Waka Nene followed him on the 22nd January with a memorandum from Clarke, the Protector, and tidings that all the rebel chiefs had visited Pomare to obtain his influence in making peace. Waka Nene sent an emissary to Pomare's pah, who found that peace was really sought for and on any terms. They would give up any page 422 lands over which they had control. Kawiti wished to see Waka Nene, but that chieftain, considering that the war was the Governor's war, not his own, determined to see the Governor and urge him to grant peace. He had not seen Kawiti. Kawiti, however, sent a characteristic letter to Grey:
“Friend,—O my esteemed friend, the Governor, I salute you. Great is my regard for you. This is the end of our converse which I now give you. Friend Governor, let peace be made between you and me. I have had enough of your riches (cannon-balls), therefore I say let us make peace. Will you not? Yes. This is the termination of my war against you. Friend Governor, I, Kawiti, and Heketene, do consent to this good message. Friend, this was my object in going to Karetu to see Pomare to make peace with you. This is the end of mine to you. It is finished.
Pomare and another chief wrote in favour of Kawiti's request. Grey made a wise use of his opportunity. He proclaimed a free pardon, announcing that the defeat and dispersion of the rebels, their complete submission, and the intercession of Waka Nene and his friends, made him think it proper to give effect to the Queen's earnest desire for the welfare of her Maori subjects. Waka Nene consented, at Grey's request, to forego any claims to forfeited lands which Fitzroy's terms would have secured to him. Grey notified that letters found at Ruapekapeka and brought to him had been destroyed unread. He was aware that many who once abetted the rebellion were now friendly to the Government, and as he had not even ascertained the names of the writers of the letters no one need entertain apprehension of his displeasure. Martial law was discontinued. Another public notice declared that a captured rebel would be restored to his friends when cured of his wounds. Kawiti's last letter was as usual terse and characteristic. “This is my absolute consenting to make peace with the Europeans on this day. Exceedingly good, O Governor, is your love towards us, and I say also good is my love towards you. This is the joining of peace for ever, ever, ever.”Heke wrote at greater length, discussing how a flagstaff ought to be re-erected at Kororarika and by whom. page 423 The Governor told Lord Stanley that Kawiti could thoroughly be relied on for the future, as he was “of great influence and the highest reputed honour.”Heke was turbulent, but, repressed by Waka Nene and abandoned by Kawiti, was unimportant, and it was rumoured that in vexation he had resorted to “fire-water.”Before the fall of Ruapekapeka Grey had boldly assumed authority over chiefs who affected neutrality. Out of twenty-six leading chiefs he had found ten actively loyal, nine neutral, and seven in arms. On his demand several of the nine rendered submission. All his proceedings were sanctioned by the Queen. There was one which did not in terms meet the eyes of the English Government, and which, if its consequences could have been foreseen, the new Governor would have been prudent to avoid. Much has been written about it, and it therefore deserves mention. It was rumoured that amongst the letters found at Ruapekapeka were some which involved the good fame of Henry Williams, trusted by Fitzroy and beloved by Maoris. Having announced that he had destroyed without reading “letters addressed by various persons to the rebels,”some “of which he was informed were of a treasonable nature,”it was doubtless impossible for Grey to discuss their contents. Yet when Williams, virulently assailed as one of the alleged writers, demanded investigation, it would have been honourable to gratify him. But Grey determined to owe success not to the missionaries but to himself. He allowed the rumours to spread, and insinuations were broadly and bitterly made against Williams as a traitor. Fortunately the latter had preserved a copy of a letter written at the request of Fitzroy before Grey's arrival. It recommended Kawiti to make peace. The old chief replied: “If peace be made it must be made with respect to the land also;”and a part of his letter was addressed to Fitzroy himself; who answered: “Mr. Williams, I can plainly see, has been giving you good advice; you have done well to hearken to him, and I trust your future conduct will show that you are really sincere and desirous of peace.”
Such were the materials out of which it had been sought to stain the character of the missionary; and, without overtly supporting the charge itself, Governor Grey seemed to give countenance to it by disparaging the object of the slander, with page 424 whom, on the subject of land purchases, he had long and not laudable contention. In a letter written by Williams as early as January, 1846, he said: “My opinion was asked perpetually; now it is being rejected as that of a ‘traitor,’ ‘unsafe,’ ‘false’… Our ears are saluted frequently with expressions truly savage as to how these people ought to be served—to be ‘poisoned,’ to be ‘flayed alive,’ to be ‘shot like dogs.’”The Bishop in a letter to Williams in April, 1846, marked one result of such language. After a visitation among the tribes he found that “a general sympathy with Heke seems to be a feeling overruling all intestine animosities of old times.”The Governor was possessed of similar information, and, having asserted superiority in arms, prudently abstained from exciting further suspicion by re-erecting the symbolic flagstaff, which, with Lord Howick's aid, had enabled Heke to arouse a quasi-national feeling among the disaffected. Grey did better by demanding personal adhesion of chiefs, formerly neutral, than by flaunting in the eyes of all a standard which had seemed to invite revolt. The flagstaff was not set up again during the first government of Sir George Grey nor during the lives of Kawiti and Heke. In 1857, a son of Kawiti, who had succeeded to his father's honours and was a Christian, resolved to commemorate his chieftainship by a public act of reconciliation. Four hundred men were chosen from the tribes who warred against the Queen in 1845. A large spar was procured from the forest and dragged to the site of the old staff on the hill, which commands a view of the many beauties of the in-reaching waters of the Bay of Islands. With Maori significance the new staff was named “Whakakotahitanga,”“being in union”and has borne its banner from January, 1858, until the present day.
With brutal ill-usage of the Maori the new Governor had no sympathy. Having secured peace in the warlike north he turned his attention to Wellington. But the difficulty of legislating for settlements so divided as those in New Zealand induced him to recommend the appointment of a Lieutenant-Governor. To enable him in the mean time to secure legislative councillors from other parts of the islands the three non-official members resigned office voluntarily. Early in February he was page 425 at Wellington with ships of war and soldiers. It was known that he had in person accompanied the troops at Ruapekapeka, and the Maoris saw in him “the fighting chief”of the Queen of England. Headed by Mr. Clifford the colonists presented him a laudatory address. His success in the field atoned with them for his fidelity to the treaty of Waitangi. From the valley of the Hutt, Taringa-kuri, principal chief of the intrusive Maoris, went to make terms as to the evacuation of the valley. Grey would make no terms until the intruders had vacated the lands. Afterwards he would receive a deputation to consider any application for compensation for unexhausted improvements, a question which a quarter of a century later was to agitate the parliamentary wisdom of England. In a week the fighting intruders had left the valley, and Grey wrote that he hoped the dispute might be adjusted without bloodshed.
A serious correspondence had been commenced in January by Rauparaha and others. With seven chiefs of his tribe the Ngatitoa, three of the Ngatiawa (of whom Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake was one), and the same number of the Ngatiraukawa, Rauparaha applied to Grey to provide some friendly adviser, acquainted with English and Maori laws and customs, who would explain them to the natives. They were anxious to maintain the laws of the Queen; they already had ministers teaching them the laws of God. Hitherto “their friend and guide, Mr. Hadfield,”had calmed their apprehensions when white men said their land would be taken from them. They were now anxious to hear from the Governor what his intentions were. Grey warmly commended their letter. The Queen had directed him to do all in his power to ensure their safety and happiness. “Maoris and Europeans shall be equally protected and live under equal laws; both of them are alike subjects of the Queen and entitled to her favour and care; the Maoris shall be protected in all their properties and possessions, and no one shall be allowed to take anything from them or to injure them; nor will I allow Maoris to injure one another; an end must be put to deeds of violence and blood.”He invited them to write to him when they were in difficulty, and to send a deputation to Wellington to discuss points which a letter could not deal with.
The bold assertion of authority as between Maori and Maori, page 426 now broadly declared for the first time by a man successful in war, was not repudiated. Shortland, at Tauranga, was unable to make such a declaration, and Te Mutu had openly breathed contempt at any such interference. Rauparaha now accepted it gladly. “We have heard your words like the light of day to us; our hearts are glad. Friend, now will I hold fast your words for good, and for living in quiet, both of natives and Europeans. Your protecting word has come forth for one and for the other; your kind words are a light to us. Now for the first time I can say that light has dawned for the Maoris; and now no wrong-doing shall spring from me,—I mean the errors of the natives. If you cannot come hither will you write to me?— Te Rauparaha.”Rangitake and the Ngatiawa chiefs wrote similarly. “We have decided that the natives of the faith should hearken fully to the laws of the Queen.… It is for your good customs to beat down our evil customs, with the help of God, that the work left for us may be the growth of provisions for the life of the body and the faith of Christ for the life of the soul.…”
Grey made arrangements for the protection of the districts near Wellington, Porirua, and the Hutt, by five hundred soldiers and by militia and police. He communicated his plans to the Secretary of State on the 22nd April. Friendly natives at Porirua offered help. But all was not quiet. In March, on the assurances of Rauparaha and Rangihaeata that the hostile Maoris had quitted the Hutt, Grey visited the district and found the country abandoned. The recent camp was approached by a difficult and narrow path, flanked on each side by precipices overgrown with jungle. It was almost inaccessible, and Grey described it as the strongest position he had seen in any part of the world. Early in April a marauding band stole past the troops and killed an old man and a boy. Rauparaha wrote to Grey to deplore the event, imputing it to strange Maoris from Wanganui. He offered help, and Grey was convinced of his sincerity. But Rangihaeata betook himself to fastnesses in the forest.
In the end of April Grey returned to Auckland and found the north in peace. The chiefs were anxious for visits from him, “waiting to feel the warmth of the sun.”He addressed himself to fiscal questions, which were in an anomalous condition. page 427 To tax the European population of 12,000 souls and leave the Maoris untaxed, who were ten times as numerous, was neither just nor likely to produce good results; yet to tax all the Maoris was absurd, for large numbers of them dwelt far from control, asking nothing and receiving nothing from the Government. Grey determined to rely on local Customs duties and a parliamentary grant. The amount of the latter he could not estimate at less than £36,000, but the increasing yield from the Custom House gave hope of early diminution of the grant. Besides a local expenditure of £58,000, of which only £22,000 were locally met, there was need of military aid. He required 2500 troops of the line, not to make war, but, by presence of a commanding force, to ensure peace. He was endeavouring to establish friendly relations with all. On the 19th May, 1846, the old warrior, Kawiti, visited him on board H.M.S. ‘Driver’ at Kororarika, in the presence of other chiefs. “Nothing (Grey wrote) could have been more proper and becoming than the old chief's manner and the mode in which he expressed himself.”
The Governor's applications were not to be considered by Lord Stanley. On free-trade and protection Sir Robert Peel and Lord Stanley had voted together, but on different grounds. The latter saw in protection of the agricultural interest a principle essential to national prosperity. Sir Robert Peel had, in 1844, declared that “in a new state of society, and abstractedly speaking, there should be no protection for native interests; but that in a country like England, with complicated relations and large vested interests, it would be dangerous to apply principles even abstractedly right, and incur the risk of great disturbance of capital and great injury to those engaged in existing arrangements.”To his mind the famine of 1845 seemed to remove the conditional arguments in favour of the qualified protection he had supported. Lord Stanley did not so read his duty, and retired. Sir Robert Peel tendered the resignation of the Ministry, and Lord John Russell was sent for by the Queen in December, 1845. Lord John Russell was anxious for office, if he could extort from Sir Robert Peel an undertaking to support him while there. Lord Grey, the old enemy of Gibbon Wakefield, frustrated the schemes of his party by refusing to join a Ministry in which Lord Palmerston was to be Foreign Secretary. page 428 Sir Robert Peel, loyal to his Queen, sacrificed himself by resuming office; carried, in May, 1846, his Corn Importation Bill; and fell in June before a combination of Whigs, Protectionists, and disappointed followers, declining even in his last official speech to “condescend to bandy personalities”with the most envenomed among them, whose artificial patriotism and consummate acting he was never at fault in valuing. Mr. Buller had the satisfaction of speaking in the majority which drove the great Minister from office on the question of a Bill for the Protection of Life in Ireland. The rancour of the New Zealand Company's partisans was yoked with the simulated fervour of some, and the honest but indignant sensibilities of other, members of the House. The vulgar untruth that the voice and not the conscience of the people confesses the commands of God was rebuked by the conduct of the House. No cheers saluted the announcement of the division. The shout of victory so often heard in St. Stephen's was not raised. The result was received in silence, which seemed to own that an unworthy act was being done, and that the nobler prey was being torn down by meaner creatures. As on former occasions, Lord John Russell speedily proved that the Bill on which Sir Robert Peel was expelled was not one which the Whigs would deal with conformably with any allegations on which Sir Robert Peel's expulsion was demanded. But the generous Peel heaped coals of fire on the heads of his enemies by supporting the Irish measures they were compelled to pass.
Lord Grey took the seals of the Colonial Office in July, 1846, and it devolved upon him to deal with Governor Grey's despatches. The interval between Lord Stanley's retirement and Lord Grey's appointment had been filled by Mr. Gladstone, who pursued the policy of his predecessor. A part of the request for soldiers was granted. Lord Grey instructed his namesake that a corps of Royal New Zealand Fencibles (500 in number) would be sent from England, and that 900 men from the regiments serving in Australia would be detached to New Zealand. It was added, without apparent shame, that as it was impossible permanently to keep so many as 2000 men of the regular army in New Zealand without great inconvenience, page 429 “a force composed of natives in the service of Her Majesty”should be formed. Secretaries of State for the Colonies were a moveable corps in 1846. In June the Governor wrote to Mr. Gladstone, pointing out the multifarious and onerous duties cast upon him, and asking for large and liberal allowance for any errors he might appear to commit. But Grey, not Gladstone, replied; and, happily for the Governor, announced that the Russell Ministry entirely approved all the proceedings in New Zealand. As Lord Grey (then Lord Howick) had in debates on Mr. Buller's motion objected to Governor Grey's appointment, the latter must have felt a sense of unexpected relief when from his previous detractor he received unqualified praise.
Meantime, in May, 1846, there were troubles in the Hutt district. Armed Maoris came down like wolves before daylight and attacked a military post of fifty soldiers of the 58th Regiment stationed at a farm. Six men were killed, and four wounded. Though alarm was quickly given, the picquet was overpowered in an instant, and the Maoris were only driven back after much firing. They danced their war-dance, and continued firing from the woods until reinforcements, under Major Last of the 99th Regiment, drove back and silenced them. There were rumours of an attack on Wellington, and Major Richmond, the Superintendent, made preparations for its defence, in which he received advice and assistance from the friendly chief E Puni. Under Captain Russell, of the 58th Regiment, relatives and slaves of Rauparaha distinguished themselves in cutting roads. “As workmen they have more than equalled the Europeans,”was the report furnished to the Governor. But Major Last in June reported that Rangihaeata was occupying a fortified position, and that he was “a little suspicious”of Rauparaha. That chief, however, offered to visit Last in Wellington; but this the latter thought unadvisable, the feeling among the whites being there so hostile to the man of the Wairau. In June there was another skirmish on the Hutt. In July Grey was at Wellington, and Rauparaha, whose thoughts it was proverbially difficult to sound, was to be mastered by boldness and treachery. Rangihaeata's pah was reconnoitred. It was found easy to invest, but not with page 430 such suddenness as to prevent escape; and Grey distrusted Rauparaha, fearing lest he might attack the English in rear while they were engaged with Rangihaeata in front. Rangihaeata had “tapu”-ed, or made sacred, a road, and two Maoris, driving pigs for European use, were prevented from using it. Grey sent positive orders that the travellers with their charge should be passed on. Rauparaha visited Grey on board H.M.S. ‘Driver,’ and gave assurances which some persons deemed untrustworthy. An intercepted letter from a companion of Rangihaeata mentioned that Rauparaha had consented that certain Maoris should visit Rangihaeata in peace. Grey showed the letter to Rauparaha, who said that the writer told falsehoods. “I watched him narrowly at the time, and his manner was such as to lead me to think that he really had no knowledge that such a letter had been written.”Yet Grey, though he could not convict, still doubted about Rauparaha.
1 One of the capturing band was McKillop, then mate in H.M.S. ‘Calliope,’ afterwards McKillop Pasha, an Admiral in the service of the Khedive of Egypt.
Rangihaeata, on hearing of the seizure, dashed to the neighbourhood to aid his chief. To avoid the English at Porirua he had to make a circuit, and had it been otherwise he would have been too late. From the wooded heights he overlooked the rifled dwelling of his friend; but he could do no more. This fighting warrior, to whom Rauparaha had been the eye of counsel, was denounced by several witnesses before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1844, as a brutal savage addicted to drunkenness. Yet he had qualities which in all ages have been admired. Rauparaha was now seventy-seven years old. Rangihaeata was sixty. They had never been parted before. Rauparaha was a prisoner in H.M.S. ‘Calliope.’ The uncaged warrior composed a lament, which eventually found its way to Parliamentary Blue Books. Rauparaha was compared to “a brave canoe”shattered by the surge of war, “all crushed on yonder war-ship's deck.”
Raha! my chief, my friend,
Thy lonely journey wend;
Stand with thy wrongs before the God of battle's face;
Bid him thy foes requite.
Ah me! Te Raukwa's foul desertion and disgrace.
Ah me! The English ruler's might.
Rauparaha's trustfulness in the Pakeha was bewailed. Rangihaeata had entreated him to break up his forces at Porirua, and spread them in marauding bands about the country.
But Porirua's forest dense,
Ah! thou wouldst never stir from thence;
Now, now, of such design ill-starred
How grievously thou reap'st the full reward.
Then bursting into fury the poet-warrior exclaimed:
Hence vain lamentings! hence away!
Hence all the brood of sorrow born!
There will be time enough to mourn
In the long days of summer, ere the food
Is cropped abundant for the work of blood.
Now I must marshal in compact array
Great thoughts that crowding come of an avenging day.
The tactics he had recommended he pursued. He vacated his pah near the coast and took to guerilla warfare. But he also endeavoured to stir up national indignation. He wrote to the Waikato chiefs whose demonstration at Remuera had impressed the whites with a sense of their power. “To all the tribes,”he said: “Friends and children, come and revenge the injuries of Te Rauparaha, because Te Rauparaha is the eye of the faith of all men. Make haste hither in the days of December.”The northern chiefs refused to obey his call. They told him that to attempt to exterminate the Europeans was foolish. “How could you dry up the sea? That is why we say finish fighting with the Europeans.”They were Christians, and advised that Rauparaha and Rangihaeata should turn to the Gospel. The few who wrote spoke in the names of others, and, not knowing where Rangihaeata might be, they addressed him as “perhaps at Wanganui.”Such an answer might well appal even the ‘atrocem animum Catonis’; and the campaign was not only against foreigners, ignorant of the forests and passes. Te Rangitake was true to his engagements with the Pakehas, and guided their military movements. Colonel Last of the 99th regiment spoke of the great service rendered by the “native allies,”and by a published order in August, 1846, when Rangihaeata had been driven to his secret lair, thanks were rendered to the “numerous native chiefs who had so nobly come forward.”The elements seemed to war against page 433 the cause of Rangihaeata. The recent death of Te Heu Heu, the great chief of Taupo, who, it will be remembered, sympathized with Heke and Kawiti, seemed to imply that heaven and earth were against the cause of the Maori.
Tribal had been embittered by religious feuds, and an invasion by 140 of Te Heu Heu's heathen allies, the Patutokuku, laid waste the territory of the Christians at Waitotara. The latter fled, returned with help, besieged the invaders, broke faith with the besieged, whom starvation and want of ammunition compelled to capitulate, and of whom but few escaped the treacherous slaughter which ensued. Te Heu Heu also, in May, 1846, came to an untimely end. His village, Te Rapa, stood near the Taupo lake, frowned upon by the Ruapehu and Tongariro mountains, in the region where hot springs, bursting from below, and the wreaths from the summit of Tongariro, still betoken the fires which are labouring under the crust of the earth. At night the hill overhanging the village gave way and overwhelmed Te Heu Heu and all but one of those who were with him. But Rangihaeata, though almost alone, refused to succumb. He would not trust himself to his pah Pahautanui. Grey would have pounced upon him there, had not Rangihaeata, before the allied Maoris could cut off his retreat, abandoned Pahautanui and betaken himself to the dense forest of Horokiwi. Hunting down a solitary chief was an ignoble occupation, and Grey returned to Auckland, reporting that the natives almost to a man on the Porirua coast, had risen on the side of the Government against Rangihaeata. Soldiers, settlers, militia, and Maoris were all entitled to the highest praise for their alacrity. But there was a bitter taste in the cup which he had prepared for himself. On the 1st December, 1846, he laboured to justify to the Colonial Office the stealthy seizure of Rauparaha. The justification itself required to be justified, and imputed what it was impossible to prove. It dealt shafts of incrimination recklessly around.
“A number of designing Europeans, who are annoyed at my interfering with their illegal purchases of land, have thought it proper to agitate the question of the justice and propriety of my arresting Rauparaha. Some most improper publications… have already appeared, and I regret to state that I find page 434 a great effect is being produced upon the mind of the native chiefs.1… The difficulty of my position is that I am not yet quite satisfied whether or not it will be necessary or expedient to bring the old man to trial. In fact, I am rather anxious to avoid doing so, and I fear that if I were to make public the various crimes for which he has been seized by the Government, and the proofs of his guilt upon which the Government justify his detention, that a large portion of the European population would be so exasperated against him that it would be difficult for the Government to avoid bringing him to trial; and if I were compelled to adopt this step from having made known the charges against him, I should probably be accused of having ungenerously prejudiced the public against him previously to his being brought to trial.”
1 Raro antecedentem, &c. Long years afterwards (1879) when Sir George Grey was Premier, and it was important to make satisfactory terms with Tawhiao, the Maori king, his overtures were rejected, and amongst the alleged stumbling-blocks the seizure of Rauparaha was urged as a reason why Sir George Grey could not be trusted.
Whatever plea could be urged for treachery towards Rauparaha none could be maintained for the killing in cold blood of Wareaitu, concerning which, and as if to wipe it out of remembrance, little allusion can be found in official documents. Eight prisoners were captured near Parepare in August, 1846, and were handed over to the English while Te Rangitake with his men was busily engaged in the field. One of them, Wareaitu (called Martin Luther by the English), was tried by a court-martial for being in arms against the Queen, and joining the rebels under Rangihaeata of whom he was a blood relation. When the sentence was explained to him, he said he was not afraid of death, but sorry that he had not been page 437 killed when captured, instead of being reserved for a shameful death. The deed to be done was so revolting that it was with difficulty that for a purse of gold a hangman could be found among the soldiers. It is recorded that the victim was attended by a clergyman, and died with good words on his lips. His demeanour perhaps assisted to burn into the conscience of the colonists a sense of the barbarity of his taking off. Mr. Crawford, the sheriff at Wellington, would seem to have recoiled from the lawless invasion of the functions of his office. In a book published nearly forty years afterwards he wrote: “During the march to Pahautanui a Maori was taken prisoner, and was some months afterwards tried by court-martial and hanged. I cannot help thinking that this was a blunder.”1 That which shocked the soldiery could not but be felt as a wrong done to their Maori allies. Te Rangitake, who had so recently been the saviour of Wellington, declared that he had fulfilled his promises and had done enough. Unwilling to lose his help, the Captain of H.M.S. ‘Calliope’ offered to fortify and guard the chief's pah if he “would take the field, but the latter declined the offer.”The soldier-hangman was shrunk from by his comrades, and when, after more than a year, he was drowned in shallow water, men muttered that his share in the killing of Wareaitu had clung to him like a curse. The Christian Maoris granted a site for a college near the place of Wareaitu's murder, and declared in the deed that their object was “that the Maori and the English might grow up as one people.”
1 Dr. Thomson (in his excellent ‘Story of New Zealand’) wrote: “Luther's death is a disgrace to Governor Grey's administration, and he probably thought so himself, as there is no published despatch on the subject.”I have been more fortunate in finding the despatch than Dr. Thomson, who (as surgeon of the 58th Regiment serving in New Zealand) knew the facts. The disingenuous nature of the despatch is shown by the fact that it dwells on Luther's complicity in “murders,”whereas the court-martial tried him for attacking the Queen's troops, being in arms against the Queen, and joining the rebels under Rangihaeata, the last of which charges he frankly admitted to the Court. “Justice (wrote Dr. Thomson) repudiates the name of rebels applied to the prisoners.”
It is probable that some remorse for the killing of Wareaitu and the illegal transportation of his friends induced the Governor to perform soon afterwards an act which might be construed into generosity. Yielding to the requests of Te Whero Whero and Waka Nene he set Rauparaha at liberty. So long as Rauparaha was on parole at Auckland it was difficult to convince Rangihaeata that his kinsman was safe from the hangmen of Wareaitu, and he sullenly refused to trust in anything but Rauparaha's free release. When it took place Colonel Wakefield vented his exasperation at the lenient treatment extended. Rauparaha's escape from trial after the massacre at Wairau; the failure of the company to make good its false claims there; the subsequent purchase of the land by the Government which thus confessed the impropriety of the company's claim; and the pardon of “Rangihaeata and his savage band,”were deplored by Wakefield as likely to “make the future historian hopeless of a solution in tracing the circumstances.”Even when shortly before Rauparaha's death that chief joined others in a loyal address to the Queen, Colonel Wakefield derived no comfort from the thought that the final treatment of Rauparaha was more honourable to England than the fate of Wareaitu.