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The Pigeons’ Parliament; a Poem of the Year 1845. In Four Cantos, With Notes. To which is added, Thoughts on the Wairarapa and other Stanzas

Canto II

page 80“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 80.

Canto II.

(1, p. 16.)

Te Aro Tot’ra line.

This place received its name from a number of large totara-trees which grew in the nighbourhood of the line of road, which place is about two and a half miles above the Hutt bridge, and was so called by the natives, which may be rendered, the Totara road. At the time referred to in the scope of the Poem the place was a dense forest, without the appearance of a clearing; and the road, if such it could be called, was merely passage cut through page 81“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 81. about a chain wide, but the logs lying on each side made the passage comparatively small, although some places by the roadside, where the logs had been burnt, and so cleared away, the natives had such patches fenced in and converted into potato gardens, leaving but small space for passage, which was rendered almost a puddle by the treading of cows and horses going in quest of food, gathering what they could from the low bushes and tufts of grass which grew along the way.

(2, p. 31.)

He said the ruling Governor
Had gone some ten degrees or more
Astray, lunatic.

Such was the opinion of one of the Auckland Newspapers, which was quoted in one of the Wellington Newspapers of the time, which was ready to give all kind of Government scandal as wide a circulation as possible.

(3, p. 32.)

Whom he most did favour.

The many favours which were shown to the Maories in and round Auckland brought upon the Governor not only the jealousy of the European settlers there, but also the stigmatic appellation of the “Maori Governor.” But when he could no longer satisfy the demands of the natives to keep them quiet—such as horses, blankets, &c.—they began to get unruly, and so defied British authority; which led on to a declaration of war in the Auckland District and the Bay of Islands. A party of natives, headed by Honi Heke, a native chief, cut down the British flag-staff, plundered and much damaged the town by fire and otherwise, so that the inhabitants were glad to escape; although it was said that they did not seek life, but only the property by way of satisfaction.

(4, p. 33.)

Thus have they taken up the song
Of landlord’s claims, postponed so long.

The land-claims was a subject which occupied the attention of the public for a considerable time, the settlement of which was page 82“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 82. tardy in the extreme, and formed a seemingly lasting theme of animadversion and complaint with the newspapers. The landlords or holders of land grumbled much, as well as did the absentee agents, because they had no title valid in the estimation of law as a security whereby either to hold or sell. And the labourer looked upon the unsettled question as a reason why there was so little to do, and could not but join in with their complaints, with the hope that when that was settled work would become more abundant, and consequently wages would increase. While, at the same time, some of the neighbouring native chiefs, especially Rauparaha and Rangiheate, with their tribes, thought to take advantage of such affairs, and proscribe the land-marks, declaring all lands above two miles from the bay belonged to them, and that they had not had the payment for it, and therefore they claimed it. Accordingly the natives, under the directions of their leaders, cut a line across the Hutt valley, about the distance above-named from the shore of the Bay, and using threats to some to be off from the land they had above this line, and to some few who spoke civilly they granted leave to remain, although even to them they were often the cause of no small annoyance. These natives, seeing the advantage of cultivating potatoes to some extent, set about clearing and taking possession of the land, encouraged, no doubt, by the transactions of the Bay of Islands, and the Governor’s remissness* of punishing the crimes that had been committed against the honour and peace of the British Crown. Such intrusions as above mentioned, and the jealousies arising therefrom, acted as a powerful impulse for the colonists in general to unite in preparing for war, and acting together for mutual defence; such as in the case of the wealthier classes swearing in the poorer as special constables, next, by the Government aid, in building stockades, (these were built jointly by voluntary contributions, either in labour or cash, and by the Government expense,) and calling up of a volunteer local militia.

(5, p. 33.)

So long’s no skirmish happens here.

While the natives alluded to (in Note 4) retained the lands they had taken possession of in peace, they gave little or no occasion for anything of alarm. But as they had broken faith with the Land Commissioner, in not leaving the land at the expiration of the time agreed to, after they had received a goodly sum for their good-will—the militia was kept up for some time lest some outburst should occur to endanger common good. Many of the mili-page 83“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 83.tia were so well pleased with their employ that they seemed to wish it always to last, so that some of the serjeants talked of getting “uniform jackets,” to replace the “blue serge shirts,” about the time they were first disbanded.

(6, p. 34.)

Of taxes oft from us exacted.

Wellington had much cause of complaint in regard to the duties levied and raised in Port Nicholson, which were sent to the seat of Government at Auckland, there to be spent, while this place lay neglected, though much it required the use of its own dues and taxes for local improvements.

* The Governor sent to Sydney for troops and when they came they were sent back as if they were not required.