An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand
Land seized by Puketapus. Omata. Puketapu Claim disputed by Taranaki tribes. Quarrel between Puketapu and Ngamotu. Hostilities imminent
Land seized by Puketapus. Omata. Puketapu Claim disputed by Taranaki tribes. Quarrel between Puketapu and Ngamotu. Hostilities imminent.
Since the disturbance to which I have alluded in a former part of this report, a considerable degree of mutual animosity and ill-feeling had been gaining ground amongst the Natives, in which the Puketapu Tribe bore the most conspicuous part, being dissatisfied at not receiving a greater share of page 123the payment that had been given to the Ngamotu Tribe. Headed by Katatore, they took forcible possession of land to which they could only urge a claim from having at some early period conquered it. On this land they planted potatoes, felling all the trees, which aroused the anger and recollection of some old feuds of the Taranaki Tribe who claimed the land. They immediately collected from eighty to a hundred fighting men, with an intention to expel the intruders. Some of the Ngamotu Natives, who disapproved of the proceedings, acquainted me with what was going on, and requestedmy interference. I immediately proceeded to the place, calling, in my way, on Mr. Webster, Justice of the Peace, and the Rev. Mr. Turton, the Wesleyan Missionary, to accompany me to where the Natives were assembling, and who promptly rendered their assistance, Mr. Turton remaining behind with the Puketapu and those of the Ngamotu who had assembled, whilst Mr. Webster and myself proceeded to meet the Taranaki people, whom we found collected several miles down the coast, quite prepared for an engagement.. Having expressed great surprise to them that they should, at a period when Christianity was so far advanced, attempt to revive their old feuds, which the light of Christianity ought entirely to have obscured,—this, with all the persuasive and conciliatory arguments that I could adduce, had the effect of cooling their resentment, and they wished me to endeavour to settle the difference then existing between them, when, if the Puketapu men would agree to meet them without their arms, they would do the same, and talk the matter over, after which they would be desirous of disposing of their lands, then in dispute, to Europeans. Being satisfied that conciliatory measures had the desired effect, we returned to where Mr. Turton had stopped with the Natives, when we found that a violent altercation had arisen between the Puketapu and Ngamotu tribes, who were there collected to the number of 110. A scene of bloodshed was likely to have ensued, and there was a general rush for guns and other weapons. A few had already laid violent hands on each other, and others of the Puketapu Tribe, who had been well prepared with loaded guns, were standing ready to discharge them. Messrs. Turton and Webster and myself were successful in depriving some of the most exasperated of their guns and tomahawks, and prevailed on the Ngamotu Tribe, who were more unprepared and had been taken by surprise, to leave the place. They accordingly went off to a mile from thence with Mr. Turton, whilst I remained persuading the Puketapu Natives to give up their hostile intentions. Having returned to the settlement at a later hour that night, I apprised Captain King, the Police Magistrate, of what had taken place, when that gentleman accompanied me at an early hour the next morning to visit the contending parties, when we found no desire on the part of the Ngamotu Natives to resent the conduct of the Puketapus. We found the Puketapu Natives, along with whom was Moturoa, still determined to quarrel with either of the other tribes. Having seen the Taranaki Natives, who were still at the place where I had left them the previous evening, we prevailed upon them to return quietly to their homes, as the Puketapu people would not agree to their proposal. I am sorry to find, although, we are at present comparatively quiet, the bad feeling amongst the Natives has not as yet disappeared.
In conclusion, I am happy to observe that all differences between Europeans and the Natives, arising from trespasses of cattle, &c., are up to this time satisfactorily settled.
I have, &c.,
Sub-Protector of Aborigines.