The Maori King
Chapter X — Sir George Grey
Sir George Grey
In the early morning of the 26th of September, 1861, H.M.S. Cossack ran quietly into the Auckland harbour, with the new Governor on board.
A few days later, Colonel Browne took leave of New Zealand, amidst tokens of general good-will. Few persons, acquainted with the native affairs of the colony, attached much blame to the departing Governor for the misfortunes which marked the close of his term of office. The mistakes of his predecessors, aggravated by a vicious system of double Government, were the true cause of a disaster which it was difficult, if not impossible, for him to have averted.
No sooner had the new Governor been installed in office, than addresses of welcome poured in from loyal chiefs of the North and of the South, couched in terms complimentary to Sir George Grey, and reflecting on the wickedness of the Waikatos, who, as one writer said, were ‘wandering sheep that had strayed on the path of Balaam the son of Bosor.’ But the stray sheep remained aloof, and made no sign. They were not sulky, as most people said, but were wise enough to see that their interest was to let Sir George Grey make the first move. For them to have taken any step would have been a mistake. Welcoming the new Governor would have looked like submission; and standing purely on the defensive, they had no demands to make.
The frightful calamities and the ruinous expense that a war undertaken at that time would have inflicted on the colony, page 132 rendered the Governor unwilling to announce to the Waikatos any intention on his part of enforcing the terms which his predecessor had determined to exact. He waited on, from day to day, hoping that, if he made no demands or threats, the chiefs might, out of personal regard to himself, do all that was wanted.1 But the strength of the Maori enthusiasm for an independent King, which overwhelmed all personal friendships and extended to natives who had never seen or known the Governor, made the realization of this hope impossible.
1 AJHR, 1862, E-1, II, p. 4.
2 [Also known as Manuhiri (c 1804–85), a Ngatimahuta chief and a close relative of Potatau.]
Wi Kingi, the hero of Taranaki, was in Rewi's custody at Kihikihi. The people of that village were gaily attired in military caps and coats, and carried rifles and accoutrements taken at Taranaki. Rewi and all his myrmidons refused even to be present at Ngaruawahia to discuss the propriety of sending a deputation to Sir George Grey. They said, ‘If Governor Grey will let the King stand, then we will go down to see him; but if he asks what Governor Browne did, then we will not go down.’ They threw doubts on the assertion that the Governor was a man of peace. ‘Who fought,’ they asked, ‘Honi Heke and Rangihaeata, when he was Governor here before?’
On the whole, there was little prospect of the Waikatos submitting to Sir George Grey. Their side, at least, was quite firm. Every man was resolved to stand by the King and the national flag, at all hazards.
The result of the assembly which Tamati Ngapora convened at Ngaruawahia, was that a deputation from Waikato did go to Auckland to see Sir George Grey. But the interview was not satisfactory. The natives declared their resolution to be separate and independent, in a manner too distinct to be mistaken; and Sir George Grey could merely reply by expressing general disapproval of their sentiments. The victory of Waikato was complete. They had been threatened with war, if they did not give up their King and flag. They had refused; and the Governor was not going to carry out the threat.
As the Governor would not make war, and the Maories would not submit to the conditions of peace, Sir George Grey was obliged to postpone the performance of the first part of his task for a time, and turn his attention to the second; namely, the invention of a plan for the government of the native population. A scheme was put down on paper, and promulgated as the ‘new policy’ to be pursued in native affairs. This was received by the Governor's friends with the most lavish praise, which it was the easier to bestow, in as much as time must necessarily elapse page 134 before it could be certainly known whether the experiment would succeed or fail.
Lawlessness was justly pronounced to be the great evil of the land; and the remedy applied was a machinery not for enforcing obedience, but for making laws. Every country has some staple manufacture, and there can be no question that laws are the staple manufacture of New Zealand.
The whole native territory was to be divided into about twenty Districts, each to be presided over by an English Commissioner.
The District was subdivided into a half-a-dozen Hundreds, each of which should select two native magistrates, a warden, and five constables. These officers were to be paid by Government—a magistrate, from £30 to £50 per annum; a warden, £30; and the constables, £10 each, with a suit of uniform every year.
The two magistrates from each Hundred were to constitute the District Runanga, presided over by the Civil Commissioner.
An Act of the New Zealand Assembly had conferred on the Governor and his Executive Council power to make bye-laws in native districts about cattle, trespass, drunkenness, suppression of nuisances, and so forth.1 The Governor conferred on the District Runanga power to make bye-laws on these subjects, which, if approved by the Governor in Council, would be valid under the above Act.
It is unnecessary to give more than a brief sketch of the system proposed, because the original plan underwent considerable modification before it was attempted to be carried out at all in the Waikato district.
1 [The Native Districts Regulation Act, 1858.]
I am quite at a loss to know at which of the numerous law factories in New Zealand a statute to meet the wants of the natives in this particular could have been provided. The King's Runanga at Ngaruawahia, which had the best notion of the sort of law wanted, was not powerful enough to give effect to the idea. The Colonial Assembly was quite unfit for the task. There are few colonial senators who possess any special knowledge of the social habits and wants of natives; the matter did not affect any pecuniary interest in the colony; it could be neither made a party question, nor meddled with except at the risk of giving offence to the clergy; it was, therefore, altogether neglected. In 1857, the attention of the New Zealand Government was called repeatedly to this subject by Mr Fenton, in his official page 136 capacity. He wished to bring in a Bill1 to give magistrates ‘power, in adultery cases, to award punishment by way of fine, instead of compensation to the husband.’ ‘The woman,’ he said, ‘is sometimes to worthless, that no money should be paid to her husband; but still, a fine, acting as a restraint on vice, would be beneficial.’ The necessity of legislation was acknowledged both by the Governor and the Colonial Ministry. ‘For these offences (adultery and seduction),’ says Colonel Browne, ‘at present there is practically no redress, which is, of course, incomprehensible to a savage.’2 ‘One of the highest judicial authorities in England,’ write Ministers, ‘has lately declared, in open court, that our own law on these matters is a disgrace to our civilization. We concur in this sentiment, and feel satisfied that the English rules cannot be recommended for native adoption.’3 Yet not only has no Bill such as that proposed by Mr Fenton been ever introduced, but the subject has never, so far as I am aware, been once mooted in the Legislature.
While it thus appears that in Sir George Grey's scheme there were no means of supplying that sort of legislation which was most needed by the natives, no provision whatever was made for teaching the Maories the great lesson of obedience to constituted authority. The five constables (whose name, for fear of offence, was changed to ‘messenger’) were only to be employed to carry letters and serve writs.
1 AJHR, 1860, E-1C, p. 31.
2 Ibid., F-3, p. 112.
Upon one point of the ‘new policy’ the Ngapuhi audience insisted on the Governor's being very explicit. This was the amount of salary to be distributed. On this subject many questions were everywhere asked, and the answers given were so satisfactory, that all said: ‘Great is the excellence of Governor Grey's scheme.’
Having thus experimented on the Ngapuhi, it remained to be seen what effect the ‘new policy’ would produce in Waikato. Most of those natives who had acted under Mr Fenton were clamorous to have Sir George Grey's institutions established amongst them. The proposed salaries would be the realization of that hope which had hitherto proved but a dream. It was soon arranged that Sir George Grey should visit Waata Kukutai's tribe at Taupari, in Lower Waikato, where a great feast was to be held, provided of course at Government expense, to which chiefs from all parts of the Waikato were to be invited.
1 Used for digging Kauri gum.
At length, after this interval, Ti Oriori arrived in Peria. Tamihana always appeared to have much respect for this man's opinion, though he more than once told me that Ti Oriori was a greedy impostor. The two consulted together, and decided to go over to hold a meeting at Arikirua, in Horotiu, where the greater part of the Ngatihaua were busy putting in crops.
The Ngatihaua tribe assembled at Arikirua very soon made up their minds upon the Governor's scheme. At first they expressed some suspicion that the real object of the plan was to get them to do away with the King. Ti Oriori said that the usual way of catching owls was for one man to shake some object before the bird to attract attention, while his mate slipt a noose over its head from behind; so Sir George Grey had sent his mate to dazzle them with laws and institutions, while he was watching his chance of entangling them in the meshes of the Queen's sovereignty. However, in the end, after some discussion, they all agreed to obey laws made in the first place by their Runangas, confirmed by King Matutaera, and finally approved by the Governor. The ground on which they admitted the Governor to a voice in enacting their laws was, that there were many European settlers resident in the Waikato country, whose interests were bound up with their own. If the Governor, they said, would allow the King and national flag to stand, all other matters would be accommodated by the whole of Waikato without any difficulty.
1 A New Zealand bird, like a land-rail. [Genus Gallirallus.]
At Ngaruawahia a law had recently been passed, forbidding Europeans to enter the village unless by special permission. Ignorant of this innovation, I arrived there next day and sat down to talk with a Ngatihaua chief till Wiremu Tamihana should appear. Two of the King's policemen, zealous for the new law, came down to turn me away, and a whispered controversy between them and my Ngatihaua friend ensued; they urging him, and he refusing, to order me away. Not knowing the subject of their whispering, I went down to the river-side and got into a small canoe, meaning to lean over and drink. The canoe being light, turned over and soused me in the Waikato. This decided the controversy on the bank above. Even the King's policemen would not send a half-drowned man away till his clothes were dried and some food had been cooked. Before their zeal again got the better of their hospitality, Tamihana arrived, having galloped all the way from Te Rapa, where he, for the first time, had heard of the new law, and feared that I should be sent away.
Upon his arrival, the Council of the Maori King was summoned, and the Governor's proposed plan was explained. It was discussed by the chiefs of the Council in the most able and page 140 temperate manner. There was no talk then about the salaries, but much about the way in which the institutions would work, and the security the Maories would have for the preservation of their liberty and independence. They all said that if some plan of the sort had been carried out five or six years ago, there would never have been a Maori King. Their final resolution was unanimous; that if the Governor would let their King and flag stand, they would adopt his plans and try to work with him for the common good. There was a difference of opinion about having a European officer to live amongst them. Tamihana and a few others advocated it, but the majority desired to wait until confidence in the European Government was restored. However, the great meeting at Taupari, they said, to which a deputation from the meeting at Taupari, they said, to which a deputation from the King was to be sent, would take place in a few days; there they would hear Sir George Grey's intentions from his own mouth, and would be then better able to form their opinions on his policy. Their final decision was therefore postponed.
This great meeting at Taupari, upon which the Waikatos looked as the crisis of their fate, began on the 12th December, 1861, and was continued on several subsequent days. The new gifts of Government were publicly bestowed upon Waata Kukutai's tribe, and that chief was installed as head magistrate of the Taupari Hundred, with a salary of£50per annum. The explanation of the plans to him and his people, and to others who wished also to be loyal and get salaries, occupied much of their time. But the most important event at the meeting was the dialogue between the Governor on one side, and Tipene and Herewini9 on the other. These two chiefs were selected as the spokesmen of the King party, not because of their own rank and importance, but for their talents in oratory, which were very highly estimated by their countrymen. To appreciate the importance of the conversation, it must be remembered that all Waikato was waiting to hear the Governor deliver his opinion about the Maori King, to see whether the present Governor had that commission from the Queen, to suppress their national combination, which the former Governor had announced.
9 [Herewini of Te Kohekohe.]
The second day Sir George Grey made a long speech to the Waikatos. He said:‘Salutations to you all! I have returned to this country to see my old friends, and to be the Governor of the two races—the Europeans and the Maories. You must not think I am only come as a friend of the Europeans, to punish the Maories for anything they have done. I am come as the friend of both, and as an impartial person, to see what can be done. I have been sent, with a very large force at my disposal, to put an end to war and discord, and to establish law and order; and if the force now here is not sufficient, I can have as much more as I like. I know I shall have to answer for the way in which I may use that force; not to Europeans, not to Maories, but at the Judgment Seat where I shall have to stand hereafter: and knowing that as I do, you may depend that I shall use the means at my disposal to the best of my ability, for the good of those under me. The people of Waikato may therefore rest assured, and I give them my word, that I shall never attack them first, and that they may rest in peace and quietness.
‘Having now said these things, I will talk to you with reference to the points of difference between you and the Government, and tell you my news.
1 AJHR, 1862, E-8, pp. 3-4.
‘The next thing is about the roads. You seem to think that roads through the country would do no good. I think they would improve the value of the lands through which they pass; and if you think I want to spend money in making roads through the lands of people who don't want them, thereby enriching them at the expense of others, you must think me a fool. In the country of the Europeans, they have to pay the greater part of the cost of the roads before the Government helps them. In the same way, I should be very unwilling to make roads through native land, even if the owners came and asked me to do so, unless they paid part of the money. The only case in which I would pay for them would be, when the roads led to some very distant place, which would benefit other districts, besides benefiting the lands of the natives through which they pass.
‘I will give you an instance of what I mean. I hear Waata page 143 Kukutai is going to cultivate on the top of the mountain (pointing to the hill behind the village). If he does not make a cart-road up to the cultivation, I shall think him a very cruel man; for, otherwise, he will kill or injure all the women, who will have to bring down the loads of produce; and the children that will be borne by them will be decrepit, and thus the tribe will be lost. But do you think I shall be such a fool as to come with troops and war to make the road? No! I tell him what will be the result if he does not make the road, and I leave it to him.
‘I should like to see all the land covered with carts and horses and cattle, and all the people well dressed and flourishing; but I shall not come and cut their throats if they don't like to be so. How should I like to be judged, with a row of dead bodies laid out before me, and one should say, “How is this?—Who slew them?”and I should have to say, “I did, because they were foolish, and did not know what was good for themselves”? Look there (pointing to a heavily-laden bullock-dray passing), would you rather see your women laden with those things? Those men who like their women to be killed with hard work, and who do not like oxen and sheep, why, it is their own look-out.
‘Another thing—you must not think that I shall let travellers, either Europeans or Maories, be stopped and plundered. It is a very serious offence. I shall not make war upon the tribe; but if ever I catch the individual, he shall be punished.
‘Now, the third thing—the King—I will talk about. You heard Waata Kukutai say, I assented to the King and the flag. I must explain what I mean. If a tribe, or two, or three, or more, call their chief a King, and stick up a flag, I think it nonsense, and don't mind it. I think it a foolish thing to do, and that it may lead to bad consequences; but I shall not quarrel with them until the bad consequences come. You must recollect that this King affair is mixed up with many things that ought not to be. For instance, I hear that at the Runangas many things of those people who have plundered the Europeans are present, and I think you should not associate with such wicked people. If I was in the King's place, I would not associate with bad people. I even understand that people who have been receiving pay as Assessors from Government, have been associating with these people; and I think it wrong that people who are paid for putting down robbers should mix with them.page 144
‘In the same way, I hear that the King has been making rules to prevent travellers going about. This is wrong; and if he does wrong things, and he is caught, he will be tried like another man, and punished. I can't help it: you must not misunderstand me: any man may stop people from coming on to his land; but where an accustomed line of road runs from one place to another, no man may block it up. You must be careful not to think that in this matter I shall quarrel with you all. I, as Governor, have nothing to do with it; the cause must be tried by the judge, or by your Runangas when you have them, between the traveller and the owner of the soil. I speak to you as a friend; and as the name of “King” has been mixed with many troubles, and is much disliked by many people, I would get rid of it, and find some other name; and then, with the other chiefs of the district, I will work to establish law and order in the country. If they don't care to have me as a friend, to help them and work with them, they must do without me. I can't help it.
‘I will now speak to you on one other point—the land.
‘I understand that there is a jealousy that I shall buy land from a few people, and take it by force from others; you may depend upon it I shall not do this. Until all that are concerned are consulted, no land will be taken. I will not send peoplè about the country teasing and troubling you about the sale of your lands. I should be a bad man if I did so—particularly in the Waikato—as whenever I have asked you for land you have given it to me. Did I not ask you for the land on which the Mission (pointing to it) stands, and did you not give it? Did I not ask you for land for Mr Ashwell's station, and did you not give it? So also with other places.
‘Now, as I have said so many hard things of you, I must say that I think, in very few countries, men would have so liberally given up land for school purposes as you have done; and in all countries it is said you have in this thing well done.
‘Now I will tell you what I propose to do for the future. I do not mean to say, that in as far as institutions for the maintenance of law and order have not been established in the country among you, your interests have not been overlooked. You must have seen that the Europeans have been allowed to make rules and laws for themselves, and those who made them have been paid for doing so; while the Maories have been left unprovided for, page 145 and those that did make laws were ill paid. I do not feel that I am without blame in the matter myself. When I was the Governor here formerly, I ought to have seen further ahead, and what civilization would lead to and require. I propose there fore now, that wherever people live in considerable numbers, the island should be divided into districts, and Runangas appointed to make laws for them, and to determine if roads are to be made, and what share of the expenses the people of the district will have to pay. They will also determine the owner ship and boundaries of land, and if it may be sold, and by whom —and whether spirits may be sold, and under what regulations. In fact, they will have to make laws on all subjects concerning their own interests, and when these are sent to me and I have consented to them, they will be binding alike both on Maori and European.
‘Native magistrates will also be appointed, and people under them, to administer the laws; and all these people that are employed will have salaries, and be paid regularly on the first of each month like Europeans. You will thus see by what I have said, that the way I intend to put down evil is by putting up good, not by employing force.
‘One thing I have omitted to tell you. For each district a medical man will be stationed, and salaries will be provided for the native clergymen or schoolmasters; and for each “hapu” that wishes to put aside land for the support of a clergyman, I will endeavour to get a minister. One of the great evils has been, that there has been no opening for the young men, chiefs and others, who have been highly educated. Now I make all these openings—clergymen, magistrates, doctors, &c.—and a young chief may become one of these, and not have to go to work on his land like a common man, but live like a gentleman.
‘Now don't you say I have not come here to conquer and kill you; I have come to conquer and kill you too—with good. Now I have done, and if any of you want to ask questions about what I have said, I am here to answer.’
After others had spoken, Tipene rose and said:—‘What I shall speak about is, the King, the flag, and the plunder. You formerly were Governor of this Island; and as for us, we were with you. After your departure, we considered that we should raise up a King for ourselves, to stop blood-shedding and repress page 146 the evils of the land, and put an end to wars. Men were selling land throughout the island. We thought, New Zealand will be gone. We saw the land which had gone, covered with cattle, horses, and sheep, and men employed fencing against cattle. We then said, let the land be withheld. We began it, and others joined. We saw brother quarrelling with brother; so one man was appointed to suppress fighting and stop the blood.
‘Land was bought at Taranaki; we heard it was bought improperly, and presently disturbance arose about it. We had not heard that the Pakeha was fighting at Taranaki, until the soldiers had gone on board the ships: then we heard. Now this offence was from the Pakeha; hence we said, we are strangers to one another. We are divided; you on one side, we on the other.’
The Governor.—If any tribe refuse to have your King, will you attack them?
Tipene.—I have not yet heard of any tribe within this island that has refused.
The Governor.—Until you give me a fair answer to that question, I shall think you refuse my words of peace.
Tipene.—This is my reply. I do not know that any are outside. Let me hear it, and then, indeed, I shall say—we are a divided people. But we will not attack them.
The Governor.—If any tribe sells land to us, will you attack it?
Tipene.—No, We shall not consent. We and out land are with the King. We shall therefore withhold it.
The Governor.—If the man wishing to sell his land has not pledged it to the King, will you attack him?
Tipene.—No, he would be a stranger to us.
The Governor.—But if he had, and afterwards altered his mind?
Tipene.—The land will be withheld because he will have been imposing upon us.
The Governor.—What, by force?
Tipene.—No, we shall not strike; but if he sees us with holding it, and attacks us, then we shall strike. He will not be allowed to sell his land, but we shall not assail and kill him; we shall not do as you Pakehas do.
The Governor,—How about the stolen property, the cattle and horses?
Tipene.—My name for that is ‘spoils lawfully taken in war.’page 147
The Governor.—How about the land of the Europeans, on which the Maories have gone?1
Tipene.—Is there no Maori land at Waitara in possession of the Pakeha?
The Governor.—What land do you mean? Do you mean the block that was fought about?
Tipene.—I ask you, is there no Maori land at Waitara in possession of the Pakeha?
The Governor.—What land do you mean?
The Governor.—If you mean the disputed land, an investigation will take place.
Tipene.—That is well; let also the other land, Tataraimaka, be investigated.
The Governor.—We can have no dispute about Tataraimaka. That is ours.
Tipene.—Let the man who takes it be tried; that is a good plan for lands which are disputed. Let a trial take place.
The Governor.—The Ngatiruanui are in quite a different position to others. They killed women and children, burnt houses, and plundered. I have not inquired into the matter; but if I were a friend, as you are, going to speak to the Ngatiruanui, I should advise them to give up what they have got, and a piece of land as compensaiton.… Even in distant parts of the world I heard of the conduct of the Ngatiruanuis, and felt ashamed at such things being done by Maories.
Tipene then laid his carved Maori spear at the Governor's feet, and said: ‘Look here. You say there is no cause; I say there is a cause. Will the vibration (striking the head of his spear) stop at the tongue, in the head of my spear? I thought your words of peace were to reach the other end.’ He meant that the Ngatiruanui had been their allies in war, and ought to have the same terms of peace.
The Governor said he did not wish to pursue the subject further at that time.
Tipene.—Very well. Are your questions ended?
Tipene.—Then I will ask a question. Are you opposed to my King?
1 Tataraimaka in possession of the Ngatiruanui.
The Governor.—I do not care about him; but I think it is a thing that will lead to trouble. It will be stopped by such means as I have adopted, and will die out.
Tipene.—If the King is brought to nought by your plans, well and good. You say, ‘What is the King to you?’ We say, ‘It is a thing of importance to us.’ And the reason why we say so is this, that we have seen the good of it. The quarrels of the Maories amongst themselves have, for the last two years, diminished; and now, by means of it, many evils that have arisen have been put down without war. And therefore I say, the King is an important thing to us. Now I ask you, Are you altogether opposed to my King? If you consent to my question, we shall then work quietly; for we are not the chief cause of the King, whereas you have the final decision about your own system. So I ask you, Are you altogether opposed to my King? that you may say whether you are so or not.
The Governor.—If you ask me as a friend, I tell you I think it a very bad thing.
Tipene.—It has not arisen from us, but from the whole island. My question still remains unanswered. I ask, in order that the word of condemnation or otherwise may be spoken out. Will you condemn it in anger with war?
The Governor.—I think each chief should come under the Governor; then they could all work with me.
Tipene.—We are not going to pluck out the various tribes that adhere to us. If a man comes to join us, we shall not tell him to stop away. Letters have come to us, and money has been subscribed, from every place in the island (naming the various places, and the sums of money that had come from each). At the present time, while both races are at peace, perhaps we shall be divided, or perhaps we shall be united. Proceed cautiously in working out your plans. The only thing that remains dark is the King. Your own plan is to unite us all.
The Waikatos had expected to get a distinct pledge from Sir George Grey, in answer to the question which Tipene had been sent down to put. It was not possible, however, to elicit from him such a plain declaration of his intentions with regard to the King as they desired. The language he had used convinced them that he was at heart opposed to the King; but they remained in perplexity as to whether he would, or would not, use that large page 149 army which he had at his disposal, and which he could increase indefinitely, to put down the obnoxious King by force.
Sir George Grey's next act, however, which he publicly announced at the close of the Taupari meeting, put an end, in their opinion, to all doubt on the subject.
Many years before, the Auckland provincial authorities had commenced cutting a road from Drury through the Hunua forest to the Waikato river. The road, so far as it was made at the time of the Taupari meeting, was not metalled, the trees had merely been felled, the stumps extracted, and the ground rudely levelled. Except in dry summer weather, the road was a quagmire, through which a horse could only crawl with the greatest difficulty, sinking in most places knee-deep at every step. During the Taranaki war, the jealousy of the Waikatos had been excited at the progress of even such a road as this, and to avoid offending them, the works had been stopped, by order of the Colonial Government, about two miles short of the river-side. Without a road through this forest, it was an idle boast to talk of invading the Waikato country. The Maories well knew this, and accordingly laughed in perfect security at the threats of Governor Browne.
Sir George Grey now determined to employ the British troops, who, since the close of the fighting at Taranaki, had been living idly in cantonments round Auckland to the great profit of the enterprising citizens, in cutting and metalling a good military road through the Hunua forest. No persons were more keenly alive to the effect of this measure than the Waikatos themselves. It would make the invasion of their country no longer impossible. That it greatly increased their respect for Sir George Grey there can be no question; they saw that this new Governor did not threaten them with what he could not perform, but, while soothing them with smooth words, was steadily and effectually taking measures to place them at his mercy. At the same time it is equally certain that the construction of this road rendered the restoration of confidence in the British Government and the peaceful solution of the native difficulty, a sheer impossibility. The chiefs of Waikato could never be misled as to the real design of this military undertaking: from the first day that they heard of it, they never swerved from the opinion that Sir George Grey's ultimate intention was—war.