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Extracts from a Diary during Heke's War in the North in 1845



A short account of the after lives of the two men, Heke and Kawiti, who took the lead in the war, may serve as a finish to these “extracts.” Heke had been in very indifferent health before the war ended, and, independent of any other consideration, was glad to be able to retire inland. I saw him shortly after the proclamation was made known. It would have been too much to have expected him to say he was glad to have peace; but he did say “it rests with the Governor; if we are left alone we shall leave the pakeha page 56 (foreigner) alone, and in no case,” he added, “shall we build another pa.” Some time after this the Governor paid a visit to the Bay and came inland to see the localities of the two pas where the first and second conflicts had taken place—Mawe and Ohaeawae. His Excellency expressed a wish to “shake hands” with Heke, and asked me if I thought I could arrange a meeting I undertook to do my best, and a morning or two afterwards the Governor and Heke met and breakfasted together at my table. The interview was not a long one, and no reference was made to the past. Heke and the people who were with him were encouraged to return to industrial habits, and assured of the Queen's regard for the welfare of the Maori race, etc. Whilst the Governor was speaking I could see an occasional glance from Heke to the chiefs who were sitting on the floor around, which, from long familiarity with his face and manner, I had no difficulty in interpreting to mean “we will wait and see.” He was very nervous, partly from his then weak state of health, and partly from his position. His body-guard, consisting of some eight or ten of his leading men, all armed with some small weapon carefully placed under their blankets, mats, or other garments, kept close by him. A short time after breakfast the Governor shook hands with Heke and several of the chiefs who were present, and thus separated Her Majesty's Representative and John Heke Pokai.

Kawiti was now an old man, but hearty. He, however, had no objection to peace, and quickly settled down at Kawakawa. Before the Governor paid his visit to Heke, Sir Everard Home, then Captain of H.M.S. Caliope, who was visiting the Bay of Islands, and came inland to revisit Ohaeawae and the district around, asked me if I would accompany him and Dr. Shortland to Kawiti's settlement at the Kawakawa, as he was very desirous to see him. The time was arranged, I joined them at the Bay, and we pulled up the river. Kawiti received the captain of the Caliope quietly and without any parade. After a little conversation on other subjects, Sir Everard said, “Well, Kawiti, it is peace now!” Kawiti replied, “Kei a koutou, me he mea kua makona koutou ka mea matou, kau makona hoki matou.” (It is for you to say if you have had enough, then we will say we have had enough.) The captain ejaculated, “Well, you are a noble specimen of a New Zealand savage!” When Sir Everard visited the site of the old pa at Ohaeawai I introduced him to Peni Tani, the chief of the place, as the captain who commanded the North Star at the time the war was going on at Ohaeawai. “Oh!” said Peni to me, aside, “this is the captain who supplied the shot we have lying about here,” and giving a hint to a youth who was standing by, the lad started off and in a few minutes returned with a bag on his shoulders holding something of considerable weight, and at a nod from Peni he rolled some half-dozen 9lb shot at Sir Everard's feet, the chief asking him at the same time if he had seen them before. Sir Everard was greatly amused and much pleased with his visit. He asked Peni if he felt the place to be his home again. He replied, “It is only now you have paid me this visit that I begin to feel I am on my own land.”

The time that intervened between the close of the war and Heke's page 57 death was some four or five years. It was clear to us who watched him that he was in consumption; he became gradually weaker and weaker. I saw him occasionally; but our missionary, the Rev. R. Davis, who was stationed at Kaikohe, visited him frequently. He lived and died a Christian, by profession, at least. May we not hope he found mercy at last? At his death there was great contention as to what should be done with the body, some wishing for a Christian burial; others tried to get possession of it to put it away in a box or coffin, generally on a stage, with a view to a “hahunga,” that is, after twelve or eighteen months, bringing it forth and making a great to-do over the bones and then carrying them away to some Maori burial-place, generally a cave. It was ultimately disposed of in this way:—The body was placed in a permanent coffin, and, at the time appointed, the Rev. R. Davis was requested to perform over it the usual burial service, altering the words “We therefore commit his body to the ground, etc.,” to others suitable to the occasion. After the service was over the coffin was committed to the care of a few men chosen for the purpose and conveyed away to a perpendicular cave at some considerable distance, the exact locality not known, even to the present day, to the natives generally, but supposed to be a cave near Pakaraka, called Putahi.

Kawiti lived some years longer, professed Christianity before his death and was baptized.

Tamate Waka Nene was justly treated by the Government when they voted him a pension of £100 per annum for life. He lived chiefly in the Bay of Islands after the war, on friendly terms with all the natives of that part of the district, including those who were more or less mixed up with Heke and Kawiti in the doings at Kororareka. In his declining years he made the little town of Russell his chief place of abode, where he was treated with the greatest respect by both Europeans and Maoris.

Waka died on the 4th of August, 1871. The Government gave him, as far as circumstances would allow, what may be termed a public burial. On the monument erected to his memory by the Government in the consecrated burying-ground surrounding our church at Russell is the following:—