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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

No. 39. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen to his Grace the Duke of Buckingham:

No. 39.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen to his Grace the Duke of Buckingham:.

Government House, "Wellington, N.Z., 20th February, 1869.

My Lord Duke,—

For some time past there have been rumours of probable disturbances in the district of the Wairarapa, which begins at a distance of about thirty-five miles east from Wellington. I thought it advisable to choose the present time to pay to this district a short official visit, from which I returned yesterday. I was accompanied throughout my tour by Commodore Lambert and Captain Montgomerie, of H.M.S. "Blanche," and by Dr. Featherston, the Superintendent of the Province of Wellington.

2.The fertile and picturesque valley of the Wairarapa stretches inland from Palliser Bay, and is about sixty-five miles in length, with a breadth ranging from fifteen to nearly forty miles. The European settlers amount to nearly three thousand souls. Of this number about eight hundred are adult males, and of these I found about seven hundred, in fact almost every man capable of bearing arms, enrolled in the local corps of Militia and Volunteers. I saw, moreover, fully five hundred horsemen assembled in one day at Greytown, the principal centre of population in the Wairarapa; and I was escorted through the district by a strong detachment of Volunteer Cavalry. The usual addresses of respect and welcome were presented to me by both the Europeans and Maoris, and a public concert and ball were given in my honour at Greytown. These festivities, as also the horse-races held on one of the days of my visit, were attended not only by the English settlers, but also by the leading Maoris of the neighbourhood.
3.There is a considerable Maori population, including many Hauhaus, in someparts of the valley and of the slopes of the surrounding mountains. At the usual Korero, or Native meeting, I was addressed in loyal and pacific speeches by the principal chiefs, who, however, did not conceal their apprehension of the possible invasion of the Wairarapa by the hostile Natives, and of the disastrous consequences which would ensue should Tawhiao take the field, and call the entire Maori race to arms page 188against the English. There can be no doubt but that the Natives generally are watching the progress of events, and in particular the removal of the Queen's troops, with gloomy irresolution, and that very much depends on the success of the negotiations recently entered upon with the view of securing at least the neutrality of the so-called Maori King.
4.Meanwhile the settlers in the Wairarapa, as in most other parts of this Island, seem to be now prepared to defend in case of need their lives and homes. Nearly every able-bodied man in the valley is armed and drilled; while a redoubt; and blockhouse have been erected in a central position as a place of refuge for the women and children in the event of an outbreak.
5.I may be permitted to take this opportunity of mentioning that, on my journey back from the Wairarapa, I took the opportunity of visiting at his kainga (or village), about twenty miles from Wellington, the famous Ngatiawa chief Taringa Kuri (i.e., Dog's Ear), the last survivor of those who had seen Captain Cook on one of his later voyages to New Zealand. The first English settlers in this country state that. Taringa Kuri was a very old man on their first arrival here, thirty years ago, and his age is now generally believed to exceed considerably one hundred years. He is extremely feeble, but, in common with his people, he expressed much gratification at my visit.

I have, &c.,

G. F Bowen.

His Grace the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.