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Sir Donald Maclean

Chapter XVIII — Maclean in Hawke's Bay — The Spread of Pai-Marire

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Chapter XVIII
Maclean in Hawke's Bay
The Spread of Pai-Marire

Donald Maclean in the beginning of his association with Hawke's Bay did not think of settling in the district. Maraekakaho, which he took up as a pastoral run in 1855, was originally purchased for the Crown in several blocks. Three settlers each took 10,000 acres of the total area of 30,000 acres, but were unable to carry on, because of the rough state of the country, the low price of wool, and losses of sheep through the attacks of wild dogs and wild pigs. They retired from the task “broken in heart and pocket,” as a Napier pioneer recounted. “Then the man who had financed them said” (to quote the same old resident), ‘Now, Maclean, why not take this country over yourself and show what it is capable of?’” Maclean did so, really much against his first inclinations, for he knew what a heavy and expensive task it would be and he was otherwise fully occupied. When he retired from the Government service early in the Sixties he devoted his energies to the development of the rough country he had taken over.

He had been requested by the Administration to take over the duties of Government Native Agent for the East Coast, and he was also holding office as Superintendent of Hawke's Bay. He was soon called upon to exercise his utmost influence against the spread of fanatic rebel propaganda on the eastern coast of the island, which until the middle of 1865 had not been troubled by the risings that had strained all the Government's powers of defence on the West. The “holy war” of the Pai-marire religious and poli- page 79 tical cult, originating in Taranaki in 1864, was extended to the Bay of Plenty in the following year, and by June the Ngati-Porou tribe of the East Cape, and some of the tribes from there to Poverty Bay had been proselytized with considerable success by the Hauhau prophets, Kereopa and Patara Raukatauri.

After several small engagements in the Waiapu Valley, the loyal chiefs, headed by Mokena Kohere, Hotene Porourangi and Henare Potae, sent to Napier and appealed to the Government for arms and reinforcements to assist in subduing the Pai-marire revolt. Mr. Maclean quickly sent a supply of rifles and ammunition which enabled the Queenite section of Ngati-Porou to take the field well equipped for their campaign. The Government also despatched a European force to the aid of Mokena and his people; this force included a company of Military Settlers and some Hawke's Bay volunteers. Major James Fraser (late of the 73rd Highlanders) and Captain Biggs were in command of the force which numbered about a hundred men. One of the officers was Maclean's friend, Lieutenant (afterwards Major) Frederick Gascoyne, of the newly raised Colonial Defence Force Cavalry, Hawke's Bay Squadron. H.M.S. Eclipse landed the force at Te Awanui, near the mouth of the Waiapu River, on the night of 5 July 1865, and Fraser had his men all in Hatepe pa, the stronghold of Mokena Kohere and his friendly natives, early next morning. Skirmishing began that day. The Eclipse fired a number of shells (some of them 110 lbs.) over Te Hatepe into the Hauhau positions.

Ropata Wahawaha, chief of the Aowera section of the Ngati-Porou, now first distinguished himself as a vigorous leader, a perfectly fearless fighter. He was to co-operate with Maclean with energy and success in the troubled years to follow, and the two became fast friends. In 1869–70 Maclean found the downright, even ruthless leader of the Aowera a very tower of strength in the campaign against Te Kooti and his Hauhaus. But at this period, 1865, Te Kooti had not been heard of.

Kereopa, the cannibal murderer of the missionary Volkner, was the Hauhau figure most detested and dreaded page 80 at that time and the blood and fire gospel he preached kept the coast in turmoil for more than two years.

One pa after another was taken by the composite forces, acting under the general directions of Mr. Maclean.

Eventually most of the Ngati-Porou rebels were captured. They were marched out to Waiapu, were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen and to salute the Union Jack, and were then permitted their liberty on parole under the chief Mokena and Captain Deighton, R.M., whom Mr. Maclean had sent up from Wairoa with some military settlers. The peace secured at the East Cape was never again broken, and most of the Ngati-Porou became in after years loyal supporters and soldiers of the Government in the bush campaigns against Te Kooti.*

* For details of this and all the other campaigns, the reader should consult The New Zealand Wars (Cowan, 2 vols.), published by the Government.