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Sir Donald Maclean

Footnotes To History — (From Maclean MS., Travel Notes and Diaries)

Footnotes To History
(From Maclean MS., Travel Notes and Diaries)

At Otaki, 1849, “The famous Rauparaha, the old chief notorious for treachery, deceit, and every skilful artifice that enables him to seduce his hitherto blind followers, is a man low in stature, not page 150 exceeding 5 feet 3 or 4 inches; sharp countenance; quick eye; and artful look. Indeed his countenance, although it has nothing in it of peculiar interest, fully indicates that he is a man of considerable ingenuity, and quick perception. He talked to me of the names of places at Taranaki as if he had been born there; spoke of his having had a hand in the construction of the large church now building at Otaki; regretted Heuheu's death; denied having run there from Waikato. His influence is fast on the decline.”

A Tribe's Character

Friday, October 11, 1850. (In the seaward Rangitikei district.) … “The Ngati-Apa are a most tricky set, full of jealousy, and cunning inventions. No doubt a tribe obliged to seek shelter from their enemies in time of war and to resort to every invention for their preservation, are more apt to study deceitful practices than open straightforward chiefs and tribes who have never been subdued. The former possesses all the imaginative and strong feelings of the race, sharpened by necessity, till deceit becomes a fixed ingredient of their character.”

(Te Rauparaha and his warriors and allies had conquered Ngati-Apa in war.)

In a Sabbatarian Village

At Tongaporutu (West Coast): “Sunday, 31st March, 1850. Nothing can exceed the misery of being closed up in an uncomfortable native pa on Sunday; where there are squawking children, of which, in another respect, I was glad to see many at Tongaporutu. The dogs, the pigs, and other tame impertinent half-petted half-starved animals, use every freedom with vour house, food, and peace; added to which, the natives get round you in idle groups, and leave you unable to do a single thing with any degree of pleasure. If you walk about, a train of idle, well-disposed boys follow you, and watch your every step and gesture, with as much eagerness as if you were a wild show or something to be looked on with astonishment and great surprise. If you go to a steep, hilly place, they will run before, skipping and romping like young kids, on the very steepest places they can meet.”

(Note: Many of the Maoris at that period were rigid observers of the sanctity of Sunday and would not permit or assist travel on that day.)

Highland Hospitality

Donald Maclean's Diary: “October 14, 1850.–Had a meeting with the Ngati-Apa at Parewanui, Rangitikei. I slept at McDonnell's, who kept some real Highland whisky, which he, through his usual excess of hospitality, compelled me to drink, rather too freely, no doubt. To the annoyance of Mr. Laurie, a sensible, shrewd Scotchman, and Mr. McDonnell, we had a wee bit talk about the Macleans, that rather rose my temper as high as the spirits we were drinking.

page 151

“October 16,—…. Park (the surveyor) solicited me to join in a pledge between ourselves that we should abandon drinking of spirits, as the effects of last night's ride, and a few glasses of gin caused some excitement that annoyed him.” (Mr. Park had not stayed at McDonnell's but at Tylee's place). “I agreed willingly and trust I may keep the resolution to avoid all spirituous liquors, excepting wine and beer. Park gives up even that. To be aided in this sudden resolution may I be countenanced by the Almighty.”

A Scottish Pakeha-Maori

At Ahuriri, Hawke's Bay, December 21, 1850.–“Met a Highlander here named McQuarrie, from the Isle of Skye, who is living with a native woman, and has a trading and whaling station. He evidently possesses the shrewdness of an unsophisticated Highlander, as much as Mr. Aukeld, my host, possesses the characteristics and traits of the Emerald Isle's inhabitants. His great delight is in talking of duels, fights, and accidents, that lead to excitement or exhilaration, and which feed him more than the diet he partakes of, in which, excepting brandy, he is most sparing. He is very kind, hospitable and friendly; born a gentleman, who came to Port Philip (Victoria) with a train of servants, which is now reduced to the native woman; who also appears to be wife, cook and washerwoman, all in one.”

The Capture of Te Kooti's Hill Fortress

Letter from Hon. J. C. Richmond.

Ngatapa, January 6th, 1869.

“My Dear McLean,

We have taken Ngatapa. It is a place that justified the hopes of Te Kooti that he had a safe retreat. In my opinion, it is 1,500 feet above the valley, and 2,000 or more above the sea. It is a sort of wedge; with a deep gully up the gentlest slope; which, however, is a steep wearisome ascent. The whole mountain was bush-covered, to the top. Kooti, and perhaps others before him, had cleared the very pinnacle. I endeavoured to burn off the light bush down the gentler slope, on the north-eastern side. The forest is continuous for miles, except where our road approaches; and heavy timber, except on the same side, where scrub 20 feet high, clothes it. The rear runs out in a ridge of rock—a knife edge.

The main force sapped up to the main front. Colonel Fraser scaled the rocky ridge in rear. We had not men enough to stop descent by the cliffs, on the right; and Kooti evacuated as our men got in. But 60 of his warriors were killed before he left; and our men have overtaken and killed 60 more. Among the dead are Nikora and Rangiaho. It is likely that the latter led a body of 30 or 40 Urewera. These made a faint stand in the bush, whilst trying to escape; but Ngatiporou dispersed them, killing 18. The pursuit is being followed up to-day. Our loss is:–1 officer killed; 1 wounded; 10 men killed; 10 wounded, only one dangerously.

There was no food in the Pa; and little ammunition in the pouches of the slain. Clothing, two or three watches, and about £50 in gold and silver have been taken; the remains of the plunder of Turanga (Poverty Bay.) Hamlin was first in the Pa. We page 152 have 80 prisoners–14 men, the rest women and children. One of the men is believed to be deep in the murders. I hope to keep him alive for trial; but it is very hard to restrain our Ngatiporou friends, who do not appreciate the nature of a regular trial, and the value of a legal conviction of one or two in this case. I should like to obtain a conviction, to answer all cavillers about our action, if there are any still in the land.”

How To Deal With the Hauhaus

The antagonism between the races after the defeat of Waikato, and in the anxious period on the frontiers produced some curious proposals. In 1869, a settler who had seen some hard service in his day, wrote to the Native and Defence Minister with reference to the King Country: “If the English Government is not going to help us, I think it is quite time that our Government adopted some other means of clearing the country of Hauhaus, i.e., give ten pounds per head for all Hauhau heads and supply the parties that undertake to bring them in with arms and provisions. Before six months had gone we would not be troubled with a single Hauhau. Say 2,000 Hauhaus (men)–it would be only the small sum, for all expenses, of £30,000.”

This cheerful optimist was John W. Thorp, of Opukeko, Ohinemuri. Possibly he had heard of the head-hunting in Taranaki earlier in the year when a reward was actually paid out to some of the Government Maoris for heads of Titokowaru's men, and at least two white scouts—Tom Adamson and Donald Sutherland, later the lone pioneer of Milford Sound—shared in the rewards.

Later on in the Seventies the fiery Judge Maning put forward a somewhat similar suggestion. He thought all the Hauhaus should be declared outlaws and an “open season” should be declared for killing them; this he described as an excellent sporting notion. The border settlers did not go quite so far. They knew the “sport” would not be all on the pakeha side.