Proceedings of of the Kohimarama Conference, Comprising Nos. 13 to 18 of the "Maori Messenger."
The present "Messenger" contains the replies to His Excellency the Governor's opening address to the Kohimarama Conference.
Our readers will remark that in many of them direct reference is made to the war now raging at Taranaki, and an earnest desire expressed that it may be brought to a speedy termination.
We, too, concur in the desire for peace. The present state of affairs at Taranaki is much to be deplored. The war is alike disasterous to Pakeha and Maori. The Pakeha suffers much from its manifold evils—the Maori still more. True, both fall in battle, but there is this important difference,—the one can, in a sense, afford to lose, the other cannot. The Pakeha will soon recover his losses, for the country whence he comes is a never failing fountain—his people are "like the sands of the sea shore for multitude and numerous as the stars of heaven."—Not so with the Maori. His race, already fast declining, will surely, if page 2 exposed to the ravages of war, ere long cease to exist, and the land on which the warrior has spilt his blood will pass into the hands of strangers!
Some have said that this is what the Pakehas desire—that with this intent came they hither—and as the Norway rat, landing from the vessels of the foreigner, overran the country and exterminated the indigenous one, so in like manner will the white man himself in course of time overspread the country and extirpate the Maori. Friends, it is not so. Listen, and we will tell you why they came.
They came to fulfil the will of God who commanded our first parents saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." Their own country was teeming with inhabitants—it was more than full. The people sought an outlet. It was told them that New Zealand was a pleasant country—that here there was room for their industry—that the Maories were a peaceful race, converted to Christianity, and eager for white men to dwell among them. Then they came—bringing their wives and their little ones—their cattle and their sheep—their money and their merchandise—and settled on lands that had been fairly purchased from the native owners.
They came to establish a home for themselves and for their children after them—to plant colonies—to make fruitful the lands that had long lain waste. They came to colonize—not to fight: so they left behind their weapons of war and brought their implements of industry instead. They came for peaceful settlement: so when they reached these shores they spread themselves page 3 over the face of the land—scattered and unprotected—in the full confidence that the natives, having become their fellow subjects, were their friends and would not molest or harm them. For the Maori people had asked the King of England to extend to them his protection and they had been received as British subjects.
And when Victoria became Queen she consented to be a mother to them, and commanded her Governor saying, "Be kind to my Maori children—protect them from evil, and instruct them in what is good." Then the Governor provided schools for their children—hospitals for their sick—employment for the industrious—and endeavoured in many other ways to elevate their condition, and to make them worthy to be called children of the Queen.
Therefore we say that the white man came not to destroy the Maori, but to raise him out of the darkness of barbarism and to impart to him all the blessings of civilization. Why then should the Maori provoke him to anger?—Why compel him to send across the seas for firearms and powder, and to train up his sons to the work of soldiers?—Why provoke the elder brother to rise and slay the younger? But page 4 so it has been. The Queen's soldiers have more than once been compelled to shed the blood of those whom they came here to protect!
The first outbreak occurred at the North, and is known as Heke's war. It is said that some evil-minded and designing Pakehas spread disaffection amongst the Chiefs. They cut down the Queen's flagstaff as an act of defiance against the Government; war ensued, and the blood of many Maories watered the lands of their forefathers. Peace was at length restored, but the town of Kororareka having been destroyed, the settlers withdrew to another part of the Island. The Ngapuhi have since lamented their folly, and they have re-erected the flagstaff, at the same time assuring the Governor of their loyalty and praying for Pakehas to be located again in their neighbourhood.
Afterwards, war broke out at the Hutt near Wellington. Te Rangihaeta claimed lands for which he had already received the full payment. An appeal to arms was at length unavoidable, and many more Maories fell in the valley of the Hutt. But, as Tamihana stated the other day in the Conference, "when Te Rangihaeata was repulsed and fled to the mountains, the ocean was again calm." These Natives are now peaceful and happy—largely sharing in European industry, and deriving many comforts from the Pakeha settlements which now surround them.
Afterwards, again, war broke out at Whanganui. A European lad had accidentally wounded a Native with page 5 a gun. The Natives construed it into an attempt to commit murder. They accordingly demanded the lad as payment, and when this was refused them, they cruelly killed four unoffending and defenceless settlers. The tribe would not surrender the murderers, and this resulted in another tedious war. The Whanganui Natives, too, have since repented of their conduct, and as a pledge of their obedience for the future they sent to the Queen, not long ago, a magnificent mere pounamu, which had for many generations been the hereditary heir-loom of their principal chief.
But will the Maori never learn wisdom? We had long hoped that war between white man and Maori had for ever ceased—that this great hindrance to their progress had been altogether removed. Not so however. It is now almost ten months since a war commenced at Taranaki, and it is still raging. The circumstances which led to it have been fully explained in former numbers of the "Messenger." We will now only recapitulate the main points.
Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake denied the right of Te Teira and others to sell their own land which had been offered to the Government. The Governor would not allow this unjust oppression. Thereupon Wiremu Kingi defied the Queen's authority: he turned off the Government surveyors and erected a pa as a menace. The pa was demolished by the soldiers.page 6
Then followed the foul murders of the Ngatiruanui and Taranaki, who, without any just pretext, had taken part in the quarrel. They soon, however, met with retributive punishment in the sore slaughter that befell them at Waireka. We had hoped that this would prove as alutary lesson to the Waikato tribes who talked of joining the insurgents. But we were mistaken. Our extra, of the 8th instant, related how a party of Ngatihaua and Ngatimaniapoto warriors were met by a detachment of soldiers and defeated with a heavy loss. Leaving 31 slain on the field, they retreated homewards and were pursued under a galling fire by the troops for a considerable distance. Six were taken prisoners, and we learn that, including those who have since died of their wounds, their loss amounts to about 50. The loss on the side of the troops was only 4 killed and 12 wounded.
We sincerely trust that ere long it will be our pleasant duty to record the entire suppression of this outbreak, and the establishment of peace on a solid, satisfactory, and permanent basis.