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Nation Making, a story of New Zealand

The New Zealand Half-Caste

The New Zealand Half-Caste.

The Half-Castes of New Zealand are in general a fine type of men and women. Usually the sons and daughters of the adventurous men who settled in New Zealand before the Islands became a British Colony, and of Maori women, generally of rank. They are of fine physique, the women being often very handsome.

page 96

The achievements of half-caste Maories in English football matches will have shown of what stuff they are made. The statement that 'the half-castes of New Zealand possess the bad qualities of both races and the good qualities of neither,' is one of those sayings more remarkable for epigrammatic point, than for truth. The statement is simply a libel. I have employed Maori half-castes as stockmen, boatmen, and one, as Captain of a river steamer, and I never had better servants. One of my stockmen, Bob Barlow, a half-caste, was remarkable as a horseman, and of wonderful strength, agility and courage. When I first employed Bob, he was a fine, handsome well-built fellow about eighteen years of age.

At that time, just after the Waikato campaign, the country swarmed with sullen rebels who mostly became 'Hauhaus,' a dangerous set of fanatics ready for any atrocity. They had abandoned Christianity, and fallen back on a grotesque medley of their old Heathenism, with scraps of a weird, mad mysticism. They practised strange rites, kept the tenth day sacred instead of the seventh, dancing round a pole, uttering the most extraordinary jargon, and becoming so excited in their orgies as to render it extremely dangerous for white men to fall into their hands, whilst under the influence of this strange and terrible madness.

Whilst under the excitement, they professed to have received revelations, declared themselves invulnerable against European rifle bullets, and often proved their belief to their cost. They declared their intention and power to drive the Colonists into the sea, and page 97frequently fixed times for doing it. These Hauhaus were a thoroughly dangerous set of malcontents, and cost the Colony a very large expenditure of money, and the loss of many valuable lives before they were extirpated, or had become once more under the dominion of reason.

Shortly after my location on the plains of Matamata the Hauhaus made converts of all the neighbouring tribes, with the result of giving my people a great deal of trouble. One day, about fifty Hauhaus were dancing round a sacred pole in the usual excited fashion when Bob Barlow my half-caste stockman, weary of the bother they caused by their rampant madness, rode full gallop into the ring of dancing savages, plucked up the pole, and bearing it off, dashed it into the river near. This exploit, by its very daring, had a remarkable effect, for they troubled me no more.

Some time afterwards Barlow left my service, married a Maori woman, and became a dealer in horses, cattle and pigs in the King Country. When I next saw him he had developed into one of the strongest, biggest, and best-built men I have ever seen. Some years later, a dreadful murder was committed by a Maori labourer on a farm five miles from the City of Auckland. Winiata, the murderer, evaded the police, and escaped across the frontier to the King country.

The King and his chiefs refused to surrender the criminal, though the murder had been committed for plunder. Though Maories despise a man who kills page 98another for his money, they are yet so influenced by a daring crime, that its perpetrator becomes a hero, after a fashion, in their eyes and acquires a Mana (influence), which, in those times, they did not care to meddle with. So Winiata, having retreated some twenty miles over the frontier, pursued his occupation of a pig trader unmolested.

After many fruitless efforts to obtain his surrender, the Police Inspector of the Waikato district induced Bob Barlow to attempt his capture. Provided with a spare saddle horse and some bottles of rum, Bob, accompanied by his wife, visited Winiata's settlement to buy pigs. After a day's bargaining the pigs were bought, and the purchase completed by a carouse with Winiata and his companions, most of them outlaws like himself. In no long time, the whole party were in a deep sleep. At a signal from Barlow, his wife brought round the horses. Taking up the sleeping Winiata as if he had been a child, Barlow carried him out of the Whare (house), bound him securely on the saddle, and leading Winiata's horse, rode off quietly into the darkness, followed by Mrs. Barlow. Once clear of the dangerous ground of the Maori villages, he quickened his pace. During the journey Winiata awoke and became restive. Barlow tightened his bandages, and unslinging his rifle, drove the prisoner before him. At grey dawn he arrived at the frontier town, and delivered the murderer to the police authorities.