Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris
On one point, in 1862, the Secretary of State, the Duke of Newcastle, respected the rights of the Maoris.
The New Zealand Ministry desired to seize Maori lands for roads, in defiance of the Treaty of Waitangi. Mr. F. D. Fenton doubted the legality of the attempt. The Attorney General, Whitaker, wrote (21st February, 1863): “It may be objected that this would be contrary to the Treaty of Waitangi. To this I answer that a positive enactment of the legislature would prevail over the terms of the Treaty if there were any conflict.” How many contracts between Europeans would be broken if one of the contracting parties could, by his sole resolution, free himself from obligations!
The Duke wrote that he would “hesitate to admit as a strict matter of law that Her Majesty had the power, without any legislative sanction, of appropriating for any purpose the acknowledged property of her subjects. But even if it were true that the peculiar legal condition of New Zealand authorized the application of this arbitrary principle, I am of opinion that the question cannot be dealt with as one of strict law.” Policy and justice required that the Treaty of Waitangi should be respected by the Government, and in a war undertaken to seize land for roads, however convenient for the settlers at Taranaki, “Her Majesty's troops ought not to be employed.”
The reader will find that in later years a Secretary of State, Lord Kimberley, received, without apparent demur, accounts of making roads through Maori cultivated fields, and of the seizure and sale of the fields themselves.
Departments, like men, may become familiar with that which once presented to them a hateful mien.
But ever and anon, some strong man signalizes his presence. Such was Mr. Cardwell, who wrote to Governor Grey, in 1864: “It is my duty to say to you plainly that if, unfortunately, your Ministers' opinion should be different from your own as to the terms of peace, Her Majesty's Government expect you to act upon your own judg- page 39 ment, and to state to your Ministers explicitly that an army of 10,000 English troops has been placed at your disposal for objects of great Imperial, and not for the attainment of any mere local object; that your responsibility to the Crown is paramount, and that you will not continue the expenditure of blood and treasure longer than is absolutely necessary for the establishment of a just and enduring peace.”
The groans which reached Mr. Cardwell's ears received consideration. Many failed to reach them.
When war was resumed in 1863, it was reported that some volunteers desecrated a native burial-ground at Papakura. The upright William Swainson, formerly Attorney General of the Colony, wrote: “The act is a disgrace to our cause… if it be not publicly censured by the authorities, the Government of New Zealand will be irretrievably disgraced. If the natives had thus desecrated one of our burial-grounds! The bodies were not even the bodies of enemies.”
Can it be wondered at that the Maoris groaned over these things, or that some of them resorted to savage and unjustifiable revenge?
The English troops had always Maori allies, and after the capture of Rangiriri with more than 180 of its Maori garrison, in 1863, one of these allies—the well-known, high-bred chief, Te Wheoro—went with a message from General Cameron to his defeated countrymen.
Mindful, perhaps, of the deeds condemned by Swainson, they handed to Te Wheoro the flagstaff of the King, saying: “We give over this flagstaff to you, with those buried here and at Ngaruawahia, for you to give over to the General and to the Governor. Especially let not the remains of the dead be ill-treated by the soldiers.”*
History tells how the submission was slighted, and how, groaning over the result, a friendly chief wrote to one of the Ministers that some Maoris distrusted the Government, fearing ill-treatment after surrender. “This is the cause of their sadness, and in persisting in their evil course until death.”
The Minister was not affected by the appeal, and considered the friendly suppliant “not disinterested,” because some of his relatives were prisoners of war.
* All the fighters were, perhaps, included in the term. Colonel Carey's statement as to the different conduct of the soldiers and settlers at Taranaki has been quoted. At Rangiriri, in Waikato, when the remnant of the Maori garrison surrendered—“the soldiers sprang in amongst them, and commenced shaking hands with the Maoris” —and General Cameron wrote to the Governor: “I hope the prisoners will be treated generously, for everyone must admire the gallant manner in which they defended their position to the last.” History shows that the prisoners were not treated generously, and that Sir George Grey had much contention with his Ministers on the subject. Mr. Cardwell eventually promised to uphold the Governor in his views, which were in favour of clemency.
Fighting or groaning, the Maori gained nothing.
Let it not be supposed, however, that no noble spirits yearned for nobler treatment of the Maoris. Even in 1862 Mr. Fitzgerald moved resolutions in the New Zealand Parliament, recognizing the rights of the Maoris to “full and equal enjoyment of civil and political privileges,” and asserting that such recognition “necessitated the personal aid of one or more native chiefs in the administration of the Government of the Colony—the presence of members of the Maori nobility in the Legislative Council, and a fair representation in this House of a race which constitutes one-third of the population of the Colony.”
Mr. Fitzgerald was unsuccessful. Instead of yielding the equal rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi, the Governor's advisers asked for more British troops. The total male Maori population in the North Island, including children, was less than 30,000, and the groans of the New Zealand Ministers, backed by the recommendations of Governor Browne, induced Her Majesty's Government to send 10,000 soldiers to beat down the resistance of those who clung to their birth-places which a solemn Treaty had guaranteed that they should retain. And when the two or three thousand who composed the fighting force scattered throughout the Island had been beaten down, as they were sure to be, they who had petitioned for an army to quell the Maori resistance, boasted that they were able to manage their affairs without help! And they supply the bulk of the literature on the subject. And when any man tears away the veil which conceals the truth, they revile him.
If Mr. Cardwell could have anticipated the use to which the Acts for Confiscation of Land would have been put, it may safely be said that they would not have been sanctioned in England. He advocated cession rather than confiscation, and told the Governor: “I trust that in accepting any cession, or authorizing confirmation of any forfeiture of land, you will retain in your own hands ample power of doing substantial justice to every class of claimant for restitution or compensation.”
Mr. Cardwell's instructions appear reasonable to ordinary understandings. But those inured to the groans of their fellow-creatures despised them. One of the New Zealand Ministers of 1864, Mr. (now Sir William) Fox, published a book, in which he denounced Mr. Cardwell for “directing things to be done which were physically impossible, and others to be attempted which were palpably absurd, and which, if attempted to be carried out, could operate in no other way than to upset the plans of the Colonial Government.”
Mr. Cardwell had declared that the “Imperial and Colonial Governments were bound to adjust their proceedings to the laws of natural equity, and to the expectations which the Maoris had been encouraged or allowed to form,” Natural equity was repulsive to those who coveted Maori lands.
Some attempt to respect it was embodied in the terms of Sir George Grey's Proclamation of Peace in 1865 (already quoted), but as those page 41 terms were not loyally adhered to by some New Zealand Ministries, Mr. Cardwell's wholesome injunctions failed to produce the desired effect.
The War in New Zealand was practically ended in 1864, but there were desultory operations afterwards. In 1865 troops were employed on the West Coast, and General Cameron thought that the operations were made to subserve a desire for land. “I have made enquiries about the purchase of the Waitotara block (he wrote 28th January) and have reason to believe that it was a more iniquitous job than that of the Waitara block. I am not surprised that the natives have opposed our road-making. The government at home ought to be made acquainted with the true history of the business.”
The groans of the Maoris reached the General's ears; but could not of course, arrest him in the execution of duty.
There can be no doubt that some horrors occurred which the commanding officers strove to prevent. When General Cameron was in the Waikato in 1864, and Bishop Selwyn nobly accompanied the army, hoping to soften the rigours of the strife, an event occurred which was doubtless unseen not only by the Bishop, but by the General. The General's report of it was that “the few natives who were found in the place (Rangiaohia) were quickly dispersed, and the greater part escaped, but a few of them taking shelter in a whare made a desperate resistance until the Forest Rangers and a company of the 65th Regiment surrounded the whare which was set on fire, and the defenders either killed or taken prisoners.” No doubt the report to the General was to this effect. A soldier of the 65th, to whom I spoke in after years, was by no means proud of the occurrence, and did not claim it as the act of his corps, but rather of the local force—the Forest Rangers.
A chief, Whitiora te Kumete, who had won admiration from the English soldiery at Rangiriri in 1863, thus described the occurrence to Mr. Firth, in June, 1869. “General Cameron told us to send our women and children to Rangiaohia, where they should remain unmolested; but he went away from Paterangi with his soldiers after them, and the women and children were killed and some of them burnt in the houses. You did not go to fight the men; you left them, and went away to fight with the women and little children. These things you conceal, because they are faults on your side, but anything on our side you set down against us, and open your mouths wide to proclaim it. That deed of yours was a foul murder, and yet there is nobody to proclaim it.”
Te Waharoa had been dwelling at his place “great darkness and page 42 sorrow of heart,” groaning over his country's woes; he had always sought peace, and condemned savage practices; but they had been wreaked upon his own people, and he moaned “because of my women and children having been burnt alive in the fire, which was suffered, rather than the edge of the sword, to consume their flesh. I would not have regarded it, had it been only the men.”*
In 1865 the atrocities committed by the Hau-haus induced other military operations, and many friendly Maoris co-operated in putting down their fanatical countrymen.
In September, 1865, the Governor's Proclamation of Peace declared that absolute war was at an end.
In 1866 the Governor, Sir George Grey, had peaceful interviews with Maoris recently at war on the East Coast and at Waikato. The king-maker, Te Waharoa, whom he saw at the latter place, promised to visit Wellington to give information as to Maori affairs. He kept his promise.
After his promise (made in May, 1866) there were encounters at the East and at the West.
Near Napier, Mr. Donald McLean, Superintendant of Hawke's Bay, in October, mustered men to disperse Hau-haus at Omaranui and reported that with the help of his native allies—“Nearly all the turbulent spirits are now killed or taken.” On the West, in August, an undefended village named Pokaikai was attacked at night by a colonial force and many of its inmates were slain. One woman complained that her father and mother were shot. The attack was made, she said, “at night; at midnight when the people were asleep. The sleep was the sleep of fools; for the words of the Governor, sent through Te Ua, had lulled us. My children were lying around me in fancied security.”
Also at Pungarehu on the West Coast a village was surprised and burnt. Twenty-one dead bodies were counted, but it was reported that “others could not be counted as they were buried in the burning ruins of the houses.” (Blue Book, 1869, (307,) p.29.)
Lord Carnarvon (28 Dec. 1866,) called for some explanation about the attacks on Omaranui and Pungarehu, which the newspapers spoke of. Mr. (now Sir) Edward Stafford said that such a mode of “warfare may not accord with War Regulations, but it is one necessary for and suited to local circumstances.” (ib. p. 25.)
The groans of the women and children were piteous, but they were not heard in England; whether any of them were stifled at Pungarehu, is not reported.
Even desultory warfare was at an end in 1866, and the Governor, Sir George Grey, visited the districts where it had raged in 1864, at Tauranga and Waikato.
They deplored the seizure of their lands; they knew not whether the confiscations had been sanctioned by the Queen. Could not some at least, of the land be restored? They complained that no Maori voice could be raised in the legislature against wrong, and thus evils were perpetuated. The Land Court was odious;—“An unjust Court is summoned and much money is wasted; the Court sits and all is in confusion—the spirit is wearied… O Queen! let your love for us be expressed. (They had fought for her.) If you behold this letter let your reply float over the ocean to us—to your loving children.”
One part of their prayer was accomplished soon afterwards.
That which Mr. Fitzgerald had aimed at in 1862 was brought about.
Maori members took their seats in the Parliament of New Zealand on the 9th of July, 1868, and they could officially record their groans, even though they might fail to remedy wrong. Sir G. Grey proposed in 1865 to “obtain a parliamentary representation of the native race.” and within three years his object was attained.
He was Governor when the enabling Act was passed (10th October, 1867), and the man who carried it through its different stages in the House was Mr. Donald McLean. Sir George Grey in his speech closing the Parliament said, the Act would “commend itself to the Maori race, and tend to confirm the peaceful and friendly disposition which is everywhere spreading throughout the tribes recently in rebellion.” Doubtless, such was its tendency, but Sir G. Grey had not quitted New Zealand long, before, in addition to the enduring wrongs of confiscation, and to the sporadic, though not general, ill-treatment of the Maoris, two special acts of folly brought about, not a state of war, but partisan risings which produced results of a terrible character.
During operations on the East Coast against the Hau-haus in 1865, Te Kooti Rikirangi, friendly to the Colonists, was blunderingly arrested, and without trial or even enquiry, deported, and imprisoned at the Chatham Islands.
A member of the New Zealand Parliament procured a Return which page 44 proved this, and he said in the House (N.Z., Hansard 1882, Vol. xliii. p. 913.) “It is perfectly notorious that the whole of these natives were taken down to the Chatham Islands without any warrant whatever, and entirely against the law; that they were imprisoned and detained there against the law, and that when they effected their escape by seizing a vessel, they behaved with extreme moderation under the circumstances.”
Bishop Selwyn said of them in the House of Lords, “They were told if they conducted themselves well, at the end of two years they would be set at liberty.
They behaved in the most exemplary manner; but at the expiration of the two years they were informed that they were not to be set at liberty, whereupon a look of despair at once came over them, as if every hope they had of life had been cut off.”
Mr. Ritchie, a resident at the Chatham Islands, urged, in April 1868, that enquiry should be made about their cases, but the Premier, Mr. (now Sir Edward) Stafford, made light of Mr. Ritchie's requests.
In July 1868, Te Kooti seized a vessel, landed near Poverty Bay, and though immediately attacked, beat off his assailants, and marked his path with blood for years, until he took shelter in the Waikato country with the Maori king, as Tawhiao was called.
Daring and active as he was in guerilla warfare, Te Kooti had no power to cause what could be called a New Zealand war, though he made his lawless treatment by the government a costly blunder to the colonists. His career I have told elsewhere without drawing any veil over his ferocity. Here it is only necessary to show that the New Zealand government did not even pretend that ordinary law or usages restrained their own conduct towards him.
With the help of Ropata, the Ngatiporou chief, the Colonial forces attacked Te Kooti at Ngatapa in January 1869.
The official return of the result is contained in one grim line—
“3rd and 5th January 1869.
Ngatapa; killed 136; captured none; total 136.”*
As the women accompanied Te Kooti's band, it might be inferred from this return that many women were slaughtered; but, the commanding officer, Colonel Whitmore, reported -“I think very few women, and those only by accident have been killed.” (Blue Book, (307,) 1869, New Zealand, p. 341.) As no prisoners were spared the women must fortunately have been fleet of foot.
* N. Z. Parl Papers, 1869. A. No. 3. G. The Return is also in the English Blue Book C. 83 of 1870, p. 78.
The official report of the commander of the Colonial forces thanked Mr. J. C. Richmond, one of the Ministry, “who was present during the whole of the operations.” A reward of £1,000 was offered for Te Kooti at this time, alive or dead.
In July 1868 a newspaper in Wellington (Wellington Independent 21 July) had recommended that “no prisoner should be taken. Let a price be put on the head of every rebel, and let them be slain without scruple, wherever the opportunity is afforded. We must smite and spare not.”
Another paper said, “Give a reward for every rebel's head that is brought to head quarters. “The Hawke's Bay Times said, in December 1868, ‘The fatal clause which requires the rebels to be brought in alive will completely nullify the effect intended.’ Soon after-wards it seems that the misnamed clause was modified. Statements about it found their way to England, and Lord Granville wrote (26 Feb. 1869—“I find it said that the escape of a large proportion of the prisoners from the Chatham Islands is to be ascribed to the fact that they had been taken there with the expectation or promise that they should be brought back to New Zealand after a given time; that it was only when this expectation or promise was left unfulfilled that they made their escape, and that on their return to their country they did not offer any violence to the settlers till attempts were made to hunt them down.” (This refers to Te Kooti.)
I find it also said that the disturbances on the West Coast arose from an arbitrary seizure of two natives as pledges or hostages for the return of two horses which were retaken by the natives after having been captured by General Chute. (This was the case of Titokowaru.)*
“I see it stated in the newspapers that you (Governor Sir G. F. Bowen) have offered a reward of £1000 for the person of the Maori chief Titokowaru, I infer alive or dead, and £5 for the person of every Maori rebel brought in alive. I do not pronounce any opinion at present as to the propriety of these steps. But I must observe that they are so much at variance with the usual laws of war, and appear at first sight so much calculated to exasperate and extend hostilities, that they ought to have been reported to me by you officially, with the requisite explanation which I shouldnow be glad to receive.”†
* Most of these facts are in the English Blue Books, 1869. (307) and 1870, C. 83. The Native Minister reported (as to the Maoris wrongfully arrested as horse-stealers)—“Two of the prisoners were quickly released as nothing could be proved against them; the third was detained, but subsequently made his escape.” (Blue Book, 1869 (307.)p. 159.)
† Blue Book, 1870 (C. 83.) p. 184.
Ministers regret if this offer has not been reported in the copious Minutes of events furnished to His Excellency for transmission by every mail. It is now right to add that a similar reward on the same terms has been offered for the body of Te Kooti.” Mr. Stafford did not say that law justified snch offers—he could not even allege that martial law had been proclaimed—but he thought that, after study of the subject, Earl Granville would conclude that the atrocities of Titokowaru and Te Kooti were “happily as exceptional as the course adopted with a view to their punishment.”
Earl Granville accepted the explanations furnished as “full and satisfactory.” Whether if Titokowaru aud Te Kooti had defended themselves in like manner, their explanations would have been deemed equally “full and satisfactory,' cannot be inferred. Under the circumstances they could not communicate with the Earl. Titokowaru once sent a letter to an officer of the Colonial forces under a flag of truce, but his two messengers were seized and imprisoned—a fact duly recorded in the New Zealand Parliamentary Papers of 1869 (A. No. 10) but which I have failed to discover amongst the voluminous papers sent to England. It may nevertheless be amongst the thousands of pages sent. Mr. Gudgeon mentions the incident in his ‘Reminiscences.’
The Despatches of the time contain many requests from the Governor that the 18th Regiment might remain in the Colony.
So serious was the result of provoking Titokowaru by the seizure of Maoris against whom it was admitted that “nothing could be proved”—that the magistrates at Wanganui on the 29th September, 1868, prayed for Imperial troops, the House of Representatives at Wellington on the 2nd October addressed the Governor in the same strain, and he repeatedly urged similar requests upon Lord Granville.
On the 20th of April, 1869, The Earl wrote* to the Governor, Sir G. Bowen, that he had seen “with very great concern” the following words in a New Zealand newpaper:—“The Hon. Mr. Richmond has offered a reward of £50 for the head of Nikora, £500 for that of Te Kooti, and I hear £1 per head for any of the others……the good effect has been seen in the arrival of a great many prisoners who are shot as soon as they arrive.”
* Blue Book, 1869. Papers relating to New Zealand, p 430.
There was indeed nothing left for the Maori to do but to fight with desperation, or to groan, or to die without groaning (as an eye-witness informed me that he saw an old chief die on the steep of Ngatapa when put to death in cold blood on the occasion animadverted upon by Earl Granville.)
The “private note” is to be found in an English Blue Book 1870 [C. 83] p. 39. I regret that it is one of those documents which I cannot cite in extenso.
Mr. Richmond had paid £50 for the head of Nikora, and had offered £5 for “every one of the Chatham Island prisoners brought in alive” —“one of the men so captured was afterwards killed”—“a thousand pounds was on the same day offered for Kooti the ringleader of the murderers and marauders, and would certainly have been paid for his body, dead or alive.”
The official return that the killed Maoris at Ngatapa were 136, and that there were no prisoners, coupled with Mr. Gudgeons' description of the killing of prisoners two days after the capture of Ngatapa, sheds a lurid light upon Mr. Richmond's “private note” which Sir G. Bowen transmitted to England with a lengthy despatch dated 25th June, 1860.
Something more than a “private note” was deemed desirable, and a still longer despatch of 7th July, 1869, enclosing* an “opinion of the Honourable the Attorney General,” Mr. James Prendergast, was sent. I wish I could present the whole of it in these pages; but I can only find room for quotations, and must refer those who would study the whole paper, to the Blue Book.
* Blue Book (C. 83.) 1870, p. 54.
No doubt in such a case the consequences of such violation of the rules of war ought to be confined to those who are responsible for and have taken part in them and ought not to be extended to those who taking no part in them, are nevertheless implicated in the rebellion. The Maoris now in arms have put forward no grievance for which they seek redress. Their object so far as it can be collected from their acts is murder, cannibalism, and rapine. They form themselves into bands, and roam the country seeking a prey.
* Lord Chief Justice Cockburn had a short time before Mr. Prendergast wrote this opinion laid down, in a charge printed in 1867, what appears a different doctrine. He denounced (p. 22) “tribunals which are to create the laws which they have to administer, and to determine upon the guilt or innocence of persons brought before them, with a total disregard of all those rules and principles which are of the very essence of justice, and without which there is no security for innocence.” Advocates of martial law put forward (p. 23.) “doctrines so repugnant to the genius of our people, to the spirit of our laws and institutions, to all we have been accustomed to revere and hold sacred” that before such doctrines are “countenanced and upheld in an English Court of Justice, we ought to see that there is sufficient authority for the assertion that British subjects can be thus treated.” . . (p. 46.) It is true that after the battle of Culloden horrible barbarities were perpetrated—but not by virtue of martial law.… I rejoice to think that in respect of cruelties which never can be forgotten while English history lasts, and which out raged and indignant humanity never can forgive—I rejoice, I say to think that these things were done without even the pretence of martial law. I rejoice to think that the name of law, even of martial law, was not profaned and polluted by being associated with such atrocities as these… (p. 108.) But it is said that as the necessity of suppressing rebellion is what justifies the exercise of martial law, and as, to this end, the example of immediate punishment is essential, the exhibition of martial law in its most summary and terrible form is indispensable. If by this it is meant that examples are to be made without taking the necessary means to discriminate between guilt and innocence, and that in order to inspire terror, men are to be sacrificed whose guilt remains uncertain, I can only say I trust no Court of Justice will ever entertain so fearful and odious a doctrine. There are considerations more important than even the shortening the temporary duration of an insurrection. Among them are the eternal and immutable principles of justice, principles which never can be violated without lasting detriment to the true interests and well-being of a civilized community.” Charge, &c., W. Ridgway London, 1867.
Mr. Prendergast referred to Earl Granville's question as to the offer of £1000 “for the person of the Maori chief Titokowaru, I infer alive or dead, and £5 for the persons of Maori rebels brought in,” and alluded to such offers as a “measure.”
“This measure does not seem open to any objection in the case of a Government engaged in the suppression of a revolt, accompanied as such revolt has been with all the unrelenting cruelty of savage nature.… Even in the case of a foreign enemy who violates the laws of nature and the usages of war, the utmost severities are permitted as a punishment for his crimes.”
Thus did Mr. Prendergast justify what had been done, and inform Earl Granville that the powers of the Sovereign of England had been used in New Zealand.
Upon the king! let us our lives, our souls,
Our debts, our careful wives, our children, and
Our sins, lay on the king; we must bear all.
O hard condition! twin-born with greatness;
Subjected to the breath of every fool
Whose sense no more can feel but his own wringing.
There was another hard condition which caused groans amongst the Maoris. By their customs of old time it was incumbent upon a chief (called upon to assist another) either to fight against the demander of aid, or join in his campaign.
Titokowaru when roused to arms (by the wanton seizure of his people as already mentioned) had called on Tauroa to assist him. Colonel Whitmore the Commander of the Colonial forces attributed Tauroa's consent to this custom, and said in the New Zealand Parliament that “it seemed to be a peculiarity in the native character that it never occurred to them to resist or refuse under those circumstances the constraint that was put upon them.”
He added that Tauroa had never joined in the barbarities imputed to Titokowaru.
The followers of Tauroa had cause to groan, whichsoever way they turned. Their traditionary law compelled them to obey and to act with him. He was compelled to act with Titokowaru. And for so doing he and they, according to Mr. Prendergast, might righteously be brought in, dead or alive, for a money payment offered (in the name of the Queen, O hard condition!) by a colonial Governor at the dictation of a colonial Minister.
Whether Titokowaru really committed the atrocities imputed to him has not perhaps been proved. But it is sometimes difficult to establish the truth even in a court of law.
Such as it was his career has been recorded by me elsewhere.
Without doubt there was much alarm amongst the colonists when page 50 having obtained successes in the field, he occupied in November, 1868, a pah at Taurangaika near Nukumaru, not far from Wanganui. On 29th September, 1868, the magistrates at Wanganui met and prayed that two companies of the 18th Regiment might be sent to protect the place.* In October, 1868 the House of Representatives prayed that a Regiment of the line might be retained in the Colony.†
In November, 1868, Titokowaru defeated a colonial force at Moturoa. On 5th December 1868, the Governor transmitted a petition from the wives, mothers and daughters of the inhabitants at Wanganui, praying for Imperial troops.‡ On the 7th, he sent a Depatch reporting “sharp skirmishes on both the East and West coasts,” and enclosing the following letter from an officer of the Armed Constabulary to his superior, Colonel Whitmore, with an account of one of these “skirmishes.”‖
Letter from Sub-Inspector Newland to Colonel Whitmore“Copy of a Letter from Sub-Inspector Newland to Col. Whitmore
Head Quarters, Woodall's Redoubt.
27th November, 1868.
I have the honour to inform you that I marched this morning with all the cavalry, being sixty-six of all ranks and corps, three hours before daylight to Wairoa, and remained five or six hours at that place, returning at 11 A.M. with despatches from Captain Hawes.
I reached Nukumaru graveyard at about 1 P.M., and, in accordance with your orders, remained in concealment until an opportunity presented itself to act.
After waiting about an hour and a half, perceiving a considerable number of Hauhaus about Mr. Handley's woolshed, I directed some of the men to advance dismounted, and followed with the rest of the force on horseback. Unfortunately a carbine went off accidentally which gave the alarm, and prevented our being as completely successful as we had hoped; but as soon as possible we mounted the dismounted men and charged, killing eight with sabre, revolver or carbine, besides wounding others.
I wish particularly to mention the extreme gallantry of Sergeant G. Maxwell of the Kai Iwi Cavalry, who himself sabred two and shot one of the enemy, and was conspicuous throughout the affair. Many others of all corps behaved extremely well, but I think it would be invidious to particularize further. The enemy turned out immediately and kept up a sharp fire, following us about three miles.
In accordance with my instructions I did not risk any further engagement, as the horses were tired, and the infantry were still at some distance.
The enemy is encamped in large force in rear of Nukumaru, near the bush, and has six bell tents erected.I returned to camp at 6 P.M. I must acknowledge the assistance rendered to me by Captain O'Halloran of the Patea Yeomanry Cavalry,
* Blue Book, 1869 (307) p. 272.
† ib. p. 277.
‡ ib. p. 295.page 51 and Lieutenant Bryce commanding Kai Iwi and Wanganui Cavalry.
‖ ib. p. 308.
These gentlemen were prominent in this affair, and set their men a gallant example.
I have, & c.
“W. Newland, Sub-Inspector, A.C.”
The Hon. Colonel Whitmore.
One of his ministers sent Newland's letter to the Governor as a report of a “successful attack on a marauding party of the rebels,” and there was assuredly nothing in the Governor's Despatch or in his minister's lengthy memorandum which would lead the Secretary of State to believe that the “marauding party of rebels” were unarmed, and that when the Maoris might be afterwards questioned on the subject they would with one voice declare that the “successful attack” had been made by sixty-six troopers on twelve little children, who were not only unarmed, but too small to carry arms.
There was, however, to my knowledge, no publication of the Maori account until 1883. In 1882 a version of it, unhappily incorrect but presumably derived from the Maoris, reached me while I was writing my History of New Zealand.
After applying for and obtaining further written information, I came to the conclusion that the “extreme gallantry” lauded by Newland consisted in attacking unarmed persons, and in running away as soon as armed persons hastened from a pah (1½ mile distant) to rescue their little ones; and I accordingly framed a paragraph on the subject, the inaccuracy of which I have never ceased to regret from the moment that I became acquainted with a statement made by an eyewitness, Uru Te Angina.
In the written information furnished to me, (which purported to have been derived from Dr. Featherston, Superintendent of the Province of Wellington in 1868), it was stated that women were amongst the unarmed persons against whom the act of gallantry was performed.
Though the account given to me stated that several persons were killed (which coincided with Mr. Newland's account), I refrained, or at least endeavoured to refrain, from saying more than that they were “cut down.” After the publication of my History (early in 1883) a native chief, Uru Te Angina, supplied a written account which was published in a leading article in the Yeoman, a newspaper at Wanganui, on the 8th June, 1883.
…” We publish to-day an account given by Uru Te Angina of the affair at Handley's Woolshed. We may say that Uru was in the Taurangaika pah at the time, and his statement may be accepted as the Native view of the affair. We vouch for the accuracy of the translation of Uru's words :—
” ‘The tribes were all gathered at our pah, Taurangaika, waiting for the enemy, the Pakeha, to attack us.… One day a number of our children, lads,… left our camp unknown to us, and without the leave of their parents… About twelve boys made up the party, and away they stole off… When they reached the house . . they succeeded in catching several geese, and went into the empty house to pluck the feathers off. They had not been long at this page 52 when a body of troopers rode over an eminence very suddenly and fired at the boy on the house who was acting as sentry. He slid off at once, and ran into the scrub. Several more shots were fired at the house, but the lads inside thought the boys outside were throwing stones* at the roof and sides, which were of iron; but as the noise increased the boys ran out, and found themselves amongst a body of mounted men, who at once began to slash and cut away at them as they ducked under the horses to avoid the sword-thrusts and the revolver-shots fired at them. The lads ran hither and thither. Two were killed on the spot, and several were more or less wounded; but these, with the others, escaped the slaughter One lad, about ten years old, was killed by a stroke from a sword that cut his head in two halves, one half falling down over his shoulder; he had some revolver-shots in his chest and stomach besides.
“Another lad, about twelve years old, was killed by many strokes of a sword, and was much cut about, and shot with carbines. Neither of these lads had arrived at the age of puberty. Another boy, of about twelve years of age, was cut over the head with a sword, and would have been killed, only that he clasped his hands above and on his head to save himself; but the sword cut off some of his fingers, and he fell at full length under the horse's feet. The trooper then fired his revolver at him, and the ball penetrated his thigh; and then left him for dead. This boy lived, and is alive now. He is a relative of mine . . Another boy hid in some water, like a little crawfish . . None of this young party had guns, pistols, tomahawks, or any weapons; they may have had a pocket-knife or so with them to cut flax. None of us at the pah knew they had gone away hunting, and we did not know of their absence until we saw some of them returning, bleeding and crying . . We at once mustered a strong party and hastened to the scene of action where our children had fallen . . We carried them home to our pah, and buried the two dead lads . . This account is a strictly true one, and can be verified by many hundreds of men and women who saw the bodies. As I said before none of these lads who formed the party had arrived at the age of puberty. Trooper Maxwell was shot soon afterwards in a very foolish attempt to carry off a flag we had attached to our double-partitioned and entrenched pah. He met the fate of a brave man, but it was the act of a lot of fools to ride up as they did, especially after killing our little ones who only went out to catch a few geese.”
To those who accept the above version, and as a rule Maori chiefs are scrupulously truthful, it furnishes a singular commentary on Newland's report that after the “killing eight with sabre, &c.” Newland “did not risk any further engagement” but fled with his gallant comrades, pursued, “about three miles,” by the armed Maoris who issued from the pah to succour the children.
* Subsequent enquiry at Wanganui showed that the shots were fired at a distance—variously guessed at 400 or 350 yards, or less—from the Woolshed (which Uru or his translator called a “house”).
The fact that I had framed an erroneous statement, even though it was founded on written informatiou, was intensely vexatious to me.
I had already printed one list of errata, and was preparing an enlarged list, as from time to time, any inaccuracy in my History became known to me. Uru Te Angina's statement induced me to add the following correction:—Vol. II., p. 504 in line 28 from top, omit “women and.”
In 1884 an action was instituted against me on account of two passages which referred inter alia to the transaction described so differently by Newland and Uru Te Angina.
Of the action itself I desire to say nothing here. Il fatto non si puo disfare; and personal affairs are beneath the dignity of history.
As a historian it is proper to show to my readers the manner in which I endeavoured to fulfil my functions.
I do not desire to refer in any other sense to my History—which has been withdrawn from sale by the publishers.
My purpose can be effected without comment upon the trial, which took place in March, 1886. in London.
In 1885, I prepared for my advisers some printed Notes, which were in their hands several months before the trial took place. One passage in those Notes shows the spirit in which I worked:—
” The precision of Uru Te Angina's statement, with regard to the presence of children only among those who were “cut down” at Handley's Woolshed, prompted me at once to add to the errata of my History a correction to the effect that the words “women and” should be omitted from the paragraph (at p. 504, vol. ii.) referring to the transaction. I did in fact prepare, and cause to be printed, an amended list of errata accordingly. But soon after the reception of Uru Te Angina's statement in England, came paragraphs (in New Zealand journals) intimating that (proceedings against me were contemplated.)
Thereupon, I consulted a lawyer, and did not issue an amended list of errata. My advisers will remember that—urging that accuracy at all hazards is the first duty of an historian—I once had a consultation with them and with counsel on the subject, and that in this matter I have acted entirely under advice. It is quite true that the inclusion of the words “women and” was strictly in accordance with information in my hands, the authority for which was Dr. Featherston; and that therefore I could not be charged with “setting down ought in malice;” but he who finds that he has been misled, even in a matter of detail, is bound to correct an error, and ought to be glad to do so if he can.”
The foregoing sentences, having been in print long before the trial, sufficiently explain my earnestness to be accurate without reference to any outside pressure.
Though I felt myself precluded by advice from formally supplying the new corrections to the publishers, (who had stopped the sale of page 54 the work at the time) I did not consider that I was prevented from inserting them in copies to which I had access.
It is of course difficult to remember at what particular time one may have done such things, and I took occasion to refer (in 1886) to three friends who had as I thought, copies of my History.
All three confirmed my recollection, and I am permitted to refer to their letters. One copy was in the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society. Sir Frederick Goldsmid, the Secretary, replied to my enquiry on the subject, thus:—
22, Albemarle Street,
March 15th, 1886.
Dear Mr. Rusden,
On receiving your note this morning, I referred to the History of New Zealand, published by you in 1883, and in the first Volume, I find a printed page of errata—clearly intended for inclusion in the book when bound—with the following passage among several others:—
Vol. II p. 14. * * * * *
Vol. II p. 41. * * * * *
Vol. II p. 504, in line 28 from top, omit “women and.”
F. J. Goldsmid.
G. W. Rusden, Esq. Athenæum Club.
Mr. Onslow answered thus:
Send Grove, Woking Surrey.
May 5th, 1886.
My Dear Rusden,
In answer to your letter enquiring whether the erratum—Vol. II, p. 504, omit “women and,”—in your History, is inserted in the slip of errata in the copy of your History of New Zealand in my library, I have to inform you that it is so inserted. It was affixed by you on one of your visits to my house but I cannot tell when.
As your last visit was in September 1885, it must have been affixed then or at some earlier date.
A. P. Onslow.
Receiving a similar letter from a friend in Dorsetshire, I made no enquiry elsewhere. As his letter adverted to the trial (as have many other gracious letters from friends and eminent persons) I abstain from quoting its terms.
It was well known among my friends that I was willing to correct any error. I sent to two friends, one in New Zealand and another in New South Wales, several printed copies of letters which I requested them to show and to publish in the newspapers.
In one, dated September 1st, 1883, I said that if any passage were erroneous “it would be my first duty to make all reparation in my power.… Every writer is bound to examine facts with a desire to make no idle statements, but there are certain persons, such as Dr. Featherston, whose names might make it almost superfluous to go beyond them.”page 55
In the other (to the Hon. P. G. King, in Sydney) I said (13th Sept., 1883)—“I appreciate your confidence that I would not make any statement unsupported by good authority, and would readily make amends for any error into which misinformation might lead me. No one ought to write at all who is not ready to retract a statement proved to be baseless.”
After this brief allusion to the manner in which I have aboured,* and my readiness to correct any errors, the thread of affairs on the West Coast between Wanganui and Taranaki may be resumed.
Colonel Whitmore, who commanded the colonial forces, commended his “gallantry, coolness, and determination to hold the post of honour.” His “behaviour was beyond all praise,” at Moturoa, when the local forces sustained defeat at the hands of Titokowaru in November 1868. After describing that action, and praising the gallantry of several European officers, Whitmore added—” Lastly Captain Kemp (by which name Rangihiwinui was called in Despatches), brave, modest and generous in all his conduct on this occasion; who never boasted before the fight; who has cast no reproaches after it; who has shown every officer that he is endued with great capacity for military operations; who has exhibited to every man of the force that a Maori chief can manifest a calm deliberate courage in no way inferior to their own; who has laid up for himself in the hearts of many of the force, the gratitude of the men who received a comrade's help in the moment of need, . . this officer and chief merits a full recognition on my part of his deserts.”†
Titokowaru was chased from the district and took refuge in the wilds. Rangihiwinui, commended by the Minister of Defence (Colonel Haultain for “courage and resource as remarkable as his modesty and devotion,” went to the East Coast to war against Te Kooti, and the scene of Titokowaru's success and reverses became a desolation in 1869.
* To a careless person it may signify little if an error be discovered in his work But to one who has seriously laboured to avoid error, the discovery of an error is a pang. The late William Swainson (for many years Attorney General in New Zealand, learned and wise), wrote to me in 1880, “I congratulate you on your success in hunting down Matahau, after unheard of perseverance. If all the statements in the forthcoming History have been verified with the same care, what an amount of patient labour you must have bestowed upon it! “My good friend has now passed to the land of spirits, but it is one of my comforts to remember that he lived to commend my “minute and accurate knowledge of the affairs of New Zealand.”
† Blue Book, 1869. (307), p.p. 288, 289, 291.
This of course is but hearsay, after the facts; and too much stress should not be laid upon it. But an officer who led a marauding party through the district, after Titokowaru had fled, formally reported the destruction of settlements, cultivations, eelweirs, and of every kind of “stock we could not eat.”
Rangihiwinui, in one of his latest excursions saw a few poor creatures dead, or dying of inanition. It may safely be inferred that he slew no child, for when children were killed at Handley's Woolshed in 1868, he declared, “If I knew you were going to kill children I would have nothing more to do with the fighting.”
Even if women and children were killed anywhere in the manner reported to the gentleman whose words I have quoted, it would be impossible now to prove it, for who would condemn himself, or plead guilty to having screened such crimes?
Mr. Gudgeon in his Reminiscences of the War in New Zealand, † alludes to the transactions in the district, in 1869, thus: —
(Page 266) “Captain Bryce was sent forward next day and ascended the river ten miles farther, until he came upon three men in a canoe. The men escaped, but the canoe fell into our hands.
By this time the column had penetrated sixty miles up the river, and had destroyed or carried off every thing portable, but the main object of the expedition had failed as the Hauhaus were evidently on their guard and had retired to the Upper Wanganui. Such being the case Major Noake retired to the Weraroa where the loot was sold for the benefit of the men engaged.
On the 20th April, 1869, Captain Hawes . . started with ninety men . . to scour the country inland of the Whenuakura River. No sign of recent occupation was seen… The Waitotara and Whenuakura districts had now been searched unsuccessfully, and there only remained the Patea; this was left to Colonel Lyon, who, on the 3rd May, crossed the river at Hukatere and camped at Otauto, where fresh tracks were seen. A party of Ngatiporou scouts under Te Hata were sent in pursuit, and came across three men, two of whom were caught and shot.
On the following day two others were seen, and met the same fate; one of them proved to be a woman dressed in mens' clothes.”
These “Reminiscences” may be deemed of doubtful authority by some persons, even though their author was personally engaged in many transactions he describes.
* This gentleman was educated at an English University and a member of a liberal profession.
† Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, London, 1879.
Before the settlers would return to the farms from which Titokowaru had driven them, the Commissioners reported that, “they exacted from the Minister a promise that if they returned to their homes the Government would forbid the rebel natives coming back. No native fire was to be lighted again by a rebel in the Patea country. This policy was sternly carried out. News having come in that small parties of Titokowaru's followers were creeping back to the north bank of Waingongoro, a reconnoitring party went out and shot two of the men and captured a woman. At another place, some miles up the Waitotara river, another native was shot, and a second woman taken. For a time this severity deterred the insurgents from renewing any attempt to re-occupy their country… Early in 1870 the settlers still desired that no native should be suffered to come back. Perhaps it was not unnatural that the exasperation to which they had been driven should have tempted many to distort the promise of the Prime Minister from rebel native into any native. But the promise could, of course, have no application to men like Hone Pihama… who had not only loyally helped us in the war of 1868, suffering jointly with the settlers in life and property, but had often abandoned their private property at the call of the Government. Still less could it apply to such men as Major Kemp (i.e. Rangihiwinui) and his warriors who had fought with great bravery by our side.”
Commenting on this passage—the admission that it was their country to which poor creatures thus lawlessly shot desired to return —the strange statement that it was perhaps not unnatural for the settlers to make no distinction between Maoris formerly hostile and Maoris always friendly—the addition that when seen Maoris were shot—I once wrote—“These words reveal how the use which is second nature prevented that which would have been a ghastly phenomenon elsewhere from appearing odious in New Zealand!”
* Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382, pp. 50, 51.
† The map will show the great extent of this coast line. Through length and breadth there had once been habitations.
The Commissioners spoke of reported slaughters. How many unreported slaughters were there? They say two women were captured. How many were dealt with as my friend who visited the West Coast was informed?
Who can adequately pourtray the horrors of the time? Who can even faintly imagine, how desperate had been the groans of the Maoris, where in a once populous district, larger than some English counties, not one living soul remained? Strong and feeble,—old and young,—children of both sexes—all were gone.
On the map the district appeared as “confiscated land.” What did not appear on the map was the fact that by the proclamation of confiscation peaceful possession of their lands was guaranteed to all loyal natives.
Donald McLean became Native Minister in 1869, after the desolation described by Fox and Bell on the West Coast had been completed. It was he who in 1867 had carried the Bill granting Maori representatives. He had not been a week in office when he drew up a memorandum declaring that the Colony was ‘exhausted’* and he strove to prevent a possible junction of the forces of the so-called Maori King with the outlaws, Te Kooti and Titokowaru.
Apprehending such junction, Fox, then Prime Minister, made a piteous appeal to the Governor† about retaining troops and ships of war. He implored the Governor to take such steps, (in concert with General Chute and Australian Governors) as “will avert the fearful loss of life which the removal of the Imperial force, at this perilous juncture, would probably entail.”
The Maoris had some confidence in McLean, and to him must be ascribed the better relations which were established with them from 1869 to 1876, when, shortly before his death, he resigned office.
He qualified as soon as he could the grievous condition to which the Waitotara district had been reduced when he took office.
* Blue Book, 1870. C. 83. p. 61.
As some cruel acts done there at a later date will demand notice, it is well to record here, before passing to other subjects, what McLean did at the West Coast.
Not long after his entering upon office some of the scattered tribes returned to the old haunts in which their homes had been laid waste. A minute (Dec. 1871) by an Under Secretary in McLean's Department shows on what terms the return of the exiles took place—“With regard to the Ngaruahine (i.e. Titokowaru's hapu) I think it would be politically undesirable, and I fear, practically impossible, to attempt to prevent their re-occupying the country north of Waingongoro, the confiscation of that country having been abandoned by the Government, as long as they behave themselves and keep the compact about not crossing the Waingongoro.” This minute was approved by Sir Donald McLean,* as now quoted.
On 20th January 1872, McLean issued instructions with regard to the district. In them he said “The lands north of the Waingongoro as far as Stoney River, although nominally confiscated, are with the exception of 1400 acres at Opunake, quite unavailable for settlement, until arrangements are made with the natives for lands sufficient for their own requirements. Mr. (Commissioner) Parris will . . com pensate the Native owners for all lands… they may relinquish … at rates not exceeding 5s. per acre.”†
In February, 1872, McLean formally reported, and the Governor sent to the Secretary of State, the terms which had been agreed upon.‡
Maclean had seen Te Rangitake who had been so shamefully treated at Waitara in 1860. The chief had visited Taranaki in token of reconciliation, and McLean regarded the visit as “the most significant indication and greatest assurance of future peace.”
“Arrangements have also been entered into with a view to a more accurate definition of Native rights within the confiscated territory, and for the acquisition, by purchase, with the good will of the Natives, of such portions of land as they hold within it, but do not require for their own use and which appear desirable for European settlements.”
Trusting in the honour of McLean. the Maoris re-entered upon their birth place. He recognized their prior rights, and the qualifying terms of Sir George Grey's Proclamations;* and he engaged to acquire by purchase any land required for European settlements in the district. The Governor exulted in McLean's report of his proceedings and the Secretary of State formally approved. Accordingly, in subsequent years, land was purchased from the Maoris under formal deeds ofcession, † and during McLean's life time the land had rest.
* Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, p. 53.
† New Zealand Parliamentary Paper, 1880. G. 2. Appendix A. p. 3. (On 12th April, 1876 (N. Z. P. P., G 2, Appendix A. p. 4) McLean in writing to Major Brown, Civil Commissioner “authorized him to offer sums amounting “to 2s. 6d. more than the 5s. already mentioned (in Parris' instructions).”)
‡ N. Z. Parliamentary Paper, 1872. A. No. I, p.p. 62, 63.
* Vide supra. pp. 31,32.
† Blue Book, C. 3382. p. 58.
‡ 1879. A.—8A. p. 3.
As it was reported that in 1881 the Government sold land in the district at more than £6 an acre, McLean's bargains cannot be deemed wasteful.
He also maintained peace. How it was broken by others must be told hereafter.