The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
Maori and Pakeha
Maori and Pakeha.
Mr Colenso naturally came to hold the position of mediator between the natives and the white settlers. As already indicated, he was more in sympathy with the natives than the settlers. The missionaries resented the interference of the settlers in their work, and the settlers returned the i1-feeling with interest. It must be confessed that the missionaries were not without some excuse-for their attitude. An in- page 23 stance of the friction between them is furnished by the difficulties in connection with the employment of natives on road work in the Wairarapa. (Journals, August 1841). In 1841 he notes: "Saw natives at work on road, each party under the charge of a white man, who generally reclined smoking under a tree. I reminded them of the Fourth Commandment. They said that had long ago been thrown aside." This indicates the cause of the trouble. Colenso sought to check the evil influence of the low whites, the whites retaliated by charging Coenso with interfering with the Government work. It came at length to a formal information to the authorities which stated that the natives in the Wairarapa had refused to work on the roads because Colenso had said it was work which would lead to bloodshed and had threatened them ft the excommunication The Governor asked the Rev, W. Williams to inquire into the charges. He reported that he found the native teachers anxious because the road workers absented the visitors from the services and were induced to shoot pigeons and dance hakas on Sunday, which are contrary to the Christian profession." Mr Colenso had told them that it was good to work on the ronde if in so doing they did not depart from Christian duty, but that otherwise they could not maintain a Christian profession. One native had proposed the exchange of his niece for a piece of print. Mr Colenso was there shortly after and had spoken strongly against it as in duty bound and had said: "This piece of print which you have received is the price of blood. It will seal the ruin of both body and soul of the child." Now this is a very different version, says Mr. Williams, from that T have heard in Wellington and will bear investigation all the world over. The Governor ac- page 24 cepted the statement as full and satisfactory, but Mr Colenso was not satisfied till lie had reported the whole circumstances with copies of every document and letter at immense length to the Society. (Letters, November 25th, 1847).
The whalers in Hawke's Bay made the same complaint. Colenso writes: "The masters of the whaling stations in Hawke's Bay complained that I taught the natives not to work for them. What I really taught was not to work on Sabbath day, not to drink spirits or swear or omit their prayers or bring women for prostitution, for you cannot do these things as Christians: and when by and by they found that they could not remain at the whaling stations without doing such things they left." (Letters, page 254).
In 1852 Air Alexander told Colenso that the settlers were incensed against him for putting the Natives against them. Colenso said he was ready to meet the settlers. He had always advised the natives not to work on Sundays, nor stay away from divine service, nor to encourage the settlers to visit their villages on Sundays and not to permit teachers to become trading masters at their villages for the whites."
Another instance of his mediation occurred in connection with the attempt to purchase native land for the purposes of settlement In September 1848, he writes that he has received letters from Mr Domett asking him to use his influence with the natives on behalf of the Canterbury Association, which then apparently proposed to purchase a large area in the Wairarapa for a Church of England settlement. Mr Colenso writes: "The Government wishes to purchase the whole of the country from Wairarapa to Ahuriri, which if done will certainly seal the page 25 natives' ruin, for unless their reserve is in one Mock and at a distance from the whites, I cannot see any chance of their escaping the hitherto common fate of all aborigines with whom the white has come in contact," and he adds, "may the Lord guide me in this matter." On his visits to the Wairarapa In; had urged the natives not to let their lands to the whites and liad thus incurred the settlers' displeasure. He accordingly wrote to Governor Eyre stating that the natives were opposed to parting with the whole of their possessions. Fie says: "Yesterday I met Hapuku and other principal chiefs at the village and spent some time with them informing them of the projected Canterbury settlement and Its benefits, and of the wish of the Government to purchase the whole of the country between Ahuriri in and fort Nicholson as detailed in your letter to me. One thing only, as far as I recollect. I did not mention to them the proposed life annuity of £25 to four of the leading chiefs. Having faithfully informed them of what I knew from Your Excellency's letter. I also told them that henceforward I should not interfere or have anything to say in the matter of their doing as they pleased with their lauds, and that I could not conscientiously deviate from the advice I had formerly given them:—(1) Never to sell the whole of their land; and (2) if they conclude to sell it to be sure to have their reserve in one block with a good natural boundary between," On December 23rd, 1848. he wrote again respectfully declining to aid the Government by influencing the natives to sell their whole land and accept scattered reserves, but promising to preserve a strict neutrality in the matter.