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Petition of William Thompson, Te Waharoa



Waihou, July 18, 1865

I, William Thompson Te Waharoa, write to the General Assembly, meeting at wellington, beseeching you to hearken to my words which here lie—to my anguish which I now send to you, for you to be persons to see into this error—false accusation against me; see rightly into it, lest a cause for fighting arise hereafter.

I have been said to be an evil man, a rebel, a murderer,—that I have collected a number of men for the purpose of murdering Europeans to drive them into the sea—to burn Auckland and other places beyond with fire. I have shown these words to be wrong. Mr. Fox and his friends have written to Queen Victoria words damaging my reputation, hence my desire that the whole matter be seen into, so that it may be found who is right and who it is that is wrong.

Let it be for the law to determine. I agree that some Englishman be appointed as arbitrator, that is to say—if he is an Englishman of good principles, single-hearted, God-fearing, and fearful of doing wrong. I consent to point out an arbitrator: either Arene (Sir George Arney) or Pekama (Mr. Beckham), these are not men of war, but if either of these are selected as arbitrators, I know that the law will be correct.

If you do not consent to the selection of (either) one of these just judges, let the Queen seek out some good and just man—let that be the man who shall be authorized to see into my trouble—leave my friends who are in the dark to speak evil of me.

By-and-bye when my tribe (people) is seen face to face with my friends who are in the dark, then let the misdoings (be told), and for their misdoings (also) to be told. Let it be for the arbitrator to determine with whom orginated the cause of this war. I shall wish for my friends to be also present, i.e., Mr. Mannsell, Mr. Ashwell, Mr. Brown, Sir W. Martin, the Bishop, Mr. G. Graham, to hear what is said. It was words which carried me to the flight, great was my desire to live peaceably: I have many European friends (and wished) for mutual love to exist amongst us. But when I heard of the expulsion of the Natives from their settlements at Ihumatao, Pukaki, Mangere, Te Kirikiri, and Patumahoe, and of the capture of Ihaka and his people and their imprisonment; even at that time I had not taken up the gun. The burning with fire of the houses at Pokeno, even until the crossing by the soldiers of Mangatawhiri, and the subsequent death of my friends at Te Koheroa—then for the first time did I take up the gun—on account of my grief I took up my gun with my own hand to defend myself with.

At the commencement of the war at Taranaki great was my grief; when I arrived there I wrote to the General desiring him to cause the fighting there to cease. I desired to be a friend to the Governor, for the Europeans to be caused to return quietly to their lands at Tataraimaka, but my words were set aside by him. Who was it that desired fighting? I at that time tried peaceably living. Let the arbitrator determine whether these are misdoings.

When the Governor came to Taupiri did not I and my whole tribe do honor to him at that time. Did he come with his soldiers to see us, and did not he upon his return concert measures for war; did not he employ soldiers at road-making, to put up posts for telegraph, to build redoubts, to fetch soldiers and steamers also? What was the misdoing of myself and my tribe at that time that things were made.

1.Had there been one European killed at that time?
2.Had there any house been burnt with fire at that time?
3.Had thefts been committed at that time that the Maoris were driven away from their settlements in Waikato? Let it be for the arbitrator to say who is the man in the wrong.

In Waikato it was my wish during Mr. Gorst's tenure of office for them to be peaceable whilst they desired to fight, and I then tried to suppress the desire for fighting. When he went down from Te Awamutu his effects were sent down in a proper manner, a Maori being in charge of his house and the property therein and that which was without.

Those Europeans who remained at their places were well taken care of, with their property, by the Maori (people).

Let the arbitrator say his say. Did I not give Mr. Ashwell warning of evil—for the Europeans, women and children, to remove from the scene of fighting. My reason for doing so was caution for what men rash to commit evil might do.

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Did not I write to (Archdeacon) Brown, at Tauranga, to put him on his guard? Perhaps it occurred to him that that was a fixed word for them, and that it was an evil thought which originated with me, affecting the Europeans of that place.

Let it be for the arbitrator to say that this is not right. Were the Europeans of Hauraki plundered by the Maoris of Waiau (Coromandel) and Tauranga? If we had desired to have done so, who could have hindered us? Great was my influence in those matters where I had authority.

At the breaking forth of the war, could it be possible to prevent the (commission of) evil by man, when evil had entered into his heart?

But hand me over to the arbitrator. Am I a man of murder? I only fought for my body and my land; I had not any wish to fight. After the fall of Rangiriri, I desired that peace be made. My letter to the General was not regarded, but fighting was still carried on. At the time the soldiers crossed Mangatawhiri, the desire to fight was not theirs—to fight with me and my tribe—but it was he who directed them who desired to fight with me and my people. When I retired to Ngaruawahia, the fighting was still carried on; when the soldiers ceased to fight, the Maoris also left off.

Put it to the arbitrator, for him to ask who was it that made this war.

When George Graham came to make peace, he said to me, "Give it over to be decided by the one law for both the Maori and Pakeha." I replied, "Yes, let there be one law to justify him who is right, and to condemn him who is wrong."

When the first Governor came, what was the law that he gave to be a protection for the Maoris? Did that law protect Wiremu Kingi and Waitara? Did a law protect us, our lands and property, at that time? Were the Europeans which the Governor sent to this island—Europeans who drink spirits, curse, speak evilly, who make light of those in authority—were these a law? Then did I say, let me set up my King, for we do not approve of the law.

But now, O friends, the law of the Queen is the law to protect my King and the whole people also. Let it be for the arbitrator to see whether the plan I have set forth for taking care of us lest evil befall us is wrong.

I am not grieved because of my friends who have become inimical towards me. My desire originated long since for peace, and that my land prosper and become wealthy through their friendly relations with the Europeans. That the law of the Queen confirm us in peace, because great is the bewilderment of myself and my tribe also at the present time; I wish (I am willing) that some investigator be appointed to clear up this bewilderment from me.

If it be properly looked into it will be seen perhaps whose was the desire for fighting, and whose the desire for quiet living.

Forward my petition to the Queen, so that she also may see these words, and so that she or you may appoint either (Sir George) Arney or (Mr.) Beckham judges to investigate the whole affair lest fighting occur hereafter. That is all.

From your friend,

William Thompson,
Te Waharoa.