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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)



In January Te Kooti with his armed band ventured out from the bush and visited Matamata, on the Upper Waihou River, where Mr. J. C. Firth was then engaged in working his large estate. Mr. Firth received a message from Te Kooti saying that he desired to meet him (Firth). The latter replied by messenger, “I will meet you unarmed, at Wi Tamehana's monument.” Mr. Firth, describing the interview, at which he endeavoured to persuade Te Kooti to make peace with the Government, put on record a pen-picture of the rebel leader as he then appeared.

“As I approached the monument [at Turanga-moana],” he wrote, “a Maori advanced to meet me, raising his hat and saluting me as he approached. I dismounted on learning that Te Kooti stood before me. He was attended by two half-caste youths, fully armed, Te Kooti himself being unarmed. His height is about 5 feet 9 inches; he is about thirty-five years of age, stoutly built, broad-shouldered, and strong-limbed. His features are not repulsive; a rather large development of jaw page 382 and chin conveys the idea of a man of strong and resolute will. He has no tattoo; hair, black and glossy; wears a black moustache and short black beard. His dress consisted of woollen cords, top-boots, and a grey shirt; over the latter he wore a loose vest, with gold chain and greenstone ornaments. I noticed that he had lost the middle finger of the left hand.” [This was his wound received at Te Porere.]

Mr. Firth urged Te Kooti to surrender to the Government, but the war-chief refused, saying, “If they let me alone I will live quietly; if not I will fight.”

“During the conversation,” said Mr. Firth, “his followers had formed in a half-circle at his back. They were all well armed, some with short Enfields, some with breech-loaders, and one or two double-barrel fowling-pieces, all apparently in excellent order. A well-dressed woman about twenty-five years old, of a handsome but melancholy cast of countenance, sat at Te Kooti's feet during the interview. I learnt afterwards that this woman was his wife.”