Proceedings of of the Kohimarama Conference, Comprising Nos. 13 to 18 of the "Maori Messenger."
The Conference at Kohimarama has at length closed its proceedings. His Excellency the Governor, attended by his suite, landed there from the Pinnace of H.M.S. "Niger" on the morning of the 11th instant. The Chiefs, who had assembled on the beach to welcome him (according to Maori usage), formed themselves into a procession—headed by Paora Tuhaere, a Ngatiwhatua Chief, who carried the British Ensign—and escorted the Governor to the Conference Hall.
Having taken his seat His Excellency formally dismissed the Conference with a short speech, which was interpreted by Mr. McLean (the Native Secretary) and loudly applauded by the Chiefs. This speech will be found in another column of to-day's "Messenger."
Mr. McLean having called on Hori Kingi Te Anaua, a Wanganui page 2 Chief, to step forward, His Excellency presented to him, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, a very handsome staff, with silver mountings, and having the Royal Arms and the Chief's name engraved thereon; and at the same time requested him to take charge of three similar staffs for other Wanganui Chiefs, namely, Te Mawae, Pehi Turoa, and Aperahama Tipai. His Excellency then said that he had been commanded by our gracious Sovereign to make this acknowledgment to the well known services rendered by these men to Her Majesty's Government in these Islands, and added that he was glad to have an opportunity of doing so in the presence of so many influential Chiefs from all parts of New Zealand.
Hori Kingi having received the staffs, turned towards the Conference, then towards the Governor, and spoke thus:—"Hearken, O Governor! Hearken, also, Chiefs of this Runanga! I have received the Queen's pledge (holding up the staff)—a pledge of her regard for her Maori subject. Now, hear ye! This shall also be the pledge of my allegiance to the Queen's authority. I shall be firm in my adherence to the Queen even unto death. And when I die my son shall take this staff and follow in the steps of his father: so shall it be an heirloom in my family, and a pledge of our loyalty, for ever! ever! ever!"
His Excellency then withdrew, and as he embarked the Chiefs assembled on the beach and chanted in chorus a farewell song. In the afternoon of the same day many of the Chiefs returned to Auckland in the "Emu" steamboat. The rest spent a quiet Sabbath at Kohimarama and came up on the following day, page 3 but being anxious to return to their kinsfolk and friends, many of whom are still ailing from Influenza, they tarried here only a short time and then started for their respective homes. Now that they are again amongst their people we would recommend them to imitate the example of Pita Te Hori (of Canterbury), who, on his return home, about a fortnight since, called a general meeting of the people of his district, and entertained them with a full account of the sayings and doings of their countrymen in the "great Conference."
Thus pleasantly closed the Kohimarama Conference—the first general meeting of New Zealand Chiefs. These men have shewn their wisdom in thus consenting to bury old ancestral hatreds, and jealousies, and in meeting each other with friendly greetings to co-operate in promoting the common welfare and advancement of their race. This betokens the dawn of a better day. Christianity has paved the way for the advancement of the Maori people, and now there are no hindrances to their progress but those arising from their own neglect or folly. If tribal enmities and thirst for Maori revenge are allowed to hold dominion over the Native mind, then their progress in civilization will be retarded, and the period that must elapse before their complete union with the Pakeha will be lengthened.
There is truth in the words of Tamati Waka Nene on the first day of the Conference—" When the Governor came he brought with him the Word of God by which we live; and it is through the teaching of that Word that we are able to meet together, this day, under one roof." Surely another day is dawning with the Maori people! They will now page 4 give up their barbarous Maori habits for the civilized customs of the Pakeha; they will abandon Ture Maori for the just and enlightened laws of the Pakeha; and they will turn away from fruitless wars and quarrels to cultivate the arts of peace. The proceedings of the late Conference afford evidence of this. The more intelligent Chiefs have given ample proof that they fully appreciate the advantage to the Maori people of such an institution. They look upon it as the first step towards self-government—the first step towards the representation of the Maori people in the Legislative Councils of the country. But they must follow up these advantages, or they will avail them little. The children should be sent to the Native Schools, provided by the Missionaries and by the Government, that they may be instructed in the learning of the Pakehas, and hereafter be better qualified than their fathers to sit in Council and deliberate on the affairs of their race. While the children are being instructed, the fathers must use all the intelligence God has given them, for the benefit of their people: so will the Maori race rise in the scale of civilization and take its place among the nations of the earth.
The Governor has promised that another Conference shall be held in 1861. Let it excel, in every respect, that of 1860. Whether it be convened at Auckland, or at Wellington, or elsewhere, let the attendance be a full one; let every tribe in the country endeavour to send a representative. Some have said that if the next Conference is held at Auckland the men from the "Head of the Fish" will not attend. Friends, let not this feeling prevail. The place of meeting is of secondary page 5 importance. Do not let a little tribal jealousy rob the people of that which is calculated so materially to promote their interests.
We desire to see the Maori people advance step by step on each succeeding year, so that eventually they may become a great and prosperous community, united with the Pakeha and enjoying with him the full privileges of British subjects.
In our next issue we shall give the concluding part of our Report of the Speeches.
We have received a very full account of the Native meeting at Canterbury, alluded to above, and shall lay it before our readers as soon as we have disposed of the press of matter relating to the Conference.
In another column of the present "Messenger" will be found a series of resolutions. passed by the Conference on the last day that it sat. These resolutions, with one exception, were carried unanimously. We are, therefore, pleased to find that the foolish project of a "Maori King," to which we adverted in a former number, is so unhesitatingly condemned by a large body of most influential and intelligent Maories. And in connection with this we may mention that our latest information from Waikato is to the effect that some who were lately strong advocates of the King Movement have now declared themselves opposed to it. They perceive that it can lead to no good, and that the Maori people are wasting their time and their energies over a bubble which is destined soon to vanish.page 6
We do not believe that the promoters of this movement ever meant any harm or were actuated by a spirit of hostility to the Europeans. Like children they have been led away by their fancies; and, in like manner, when they are tired of their toy, we expect to see them cease playing and return to their parent, the Governor, to work with him in promoting the true interests of the Maori people.