The Maori King
Chapter XVII — Rewi Maniapoto
The timber for the projected police-barracks had been mostly sawn upon English land at Mangatawhiri, whence it was rafted by Te Wheoro and his friends to Te Kohekohe. By the month of March everything was ready; carpenters were sent out from Auckland, and the work began.
1 [Mohi Te Ngu, a government assessor; a chief of the Whakapaka hapu of the Ngatit emaoho tribe. See above, p. 99, note re Ihaka.]
2 [Neri Te Ahu.]
After a week's delay, a still larger party came down from Ngaruawahia, headed by Wi Kumete, a reckless madcap, who, being on a visit to the King, wished to signalize his zeal. I fell in with the party, halting for the night at Rangiriri, and tried to persuade them to wait till the rival claims to the land at Te Kohekohe could be adjusted. Wi Kumete was civil, but wild. He said they all knew the object of the building at Te Kohekohe, and of those up the country at Te Awamutu. They might be called ‘schools,’ but they were in reality barracks. They believed that soldiers were continually going up the country, disguised as carpenters and other labourers, and were secreted in cellars at Te Awamutu; and that guns and ammunition were carried thither, packed in casks and cases, like sugar or other goods. A law had therefore been passed, that every canoe should be searched; and, in the execution of this law, he (Wi Kumete) had just been searching one, and he would show me what he had found. Thus speaking, he ushered me into the great meetinghouse, and brought out about a hundred bottles, from one of which the cork had been drawn, and the contents proved to be rum. This, he said, was a pretty way of carrying out our laws.
The subsequent history of these rum bottles is amusing. They were put in charge of Onehi, a young protégé of Whakapaukai, who ought to have been a boy at school, but was a King's magistrate. He kept them for a couple of months; but during the whole time was so perpetually drunk, that Wiremu Tamihana was sent for to examine into the cause. He discovered that the rum had been abstracted from the bottles, and the water of Waikato substituted. For this peccadillo, Onehi was brought up before the King's Runanga, fined, and dismissed from his office.
Wi Kumete and his party refused to delay their visit to Te Kohekohe. They nearly frightened the carpenters out of their wits, and made them only too glad to drop their work, and carry themselves and their tools away in safety. Then they threw all the timber into the river, binding it together in rafts, and sent to the officer commanding the Queen's Redoubt to know whether page 216 they should be fired upon, if they brought the timber to Te Ia; adding that, unless they were promised safe conduct, they should cut the rafts adrift, and send them floating down the stream at hazard. The officer replied that they should be permitted to land the timber unmolested. Wi Kumete, accordingly, came down with all his party, order was kept by the King's soldiers, ropes and stakes were placed along the bank to keep back the throng of spectators, and the timber was landed in triumph.1 So elated was Wi Kumete with his success, that, on returning from Te Ia, he held a meeting at Te Kohekohe, and proposed that they should all go up to Te Awamutu, take the Governor's magistrate, with his houses, his men, and all that he had, and land them in the same manner, and at the same place.
A Runanga was therefore held, and the following offence laid to my charge:—
On hearing of the Governor's steamer, the natives determined to assert their claim to the ownership of the river, and to make it clear that the purchases of the Crown did not extend beyond dry land. For this purpose, Neri took upon himself to survey the boundary of Mangatawhiri, and erect a post on our side of the river, bearing the notice, ‘This is the Pakeha's boundary; the water belongs to the Maories.’ In accordance with the wishes of the Government, I had this post pulled up, and wrote to tell Neri that it would not be allowed to stand on Pakeha land. Pulling up this post, which Wiremu Kumete re-planted, was considered an ample ground for expelling me.
On reaching Ngaruawahia, however, they found that Rewi Maniapoto had anticipated them by making an attack upon Te Awamutu, under the following circumstances:—
1 [See above, p. 170, n.]
It was thought desirable by Sir George Grey, to have a newspaper published in the Waikato to answer the arguments of the Hokioi. For this purpose it was determined that a printing-office should be established at Te Awamutu. The newspaper published was called Te Pihoihoi Mokemoke (The Sparrow that sitteth alone upon the House Top),1and the first number was issued under the Governor's own revision, shortly after his visit to Ngaruawahia. Among other articles, was one on ‘The Evil of the King's Government,’which, after reciting the challenge thrown out by the Hokioi, to declare why the King deserved punishment, exposed the lawlessness of the Waikato district, and the utter inability of the King and his Council to prevent or punish crime, citing in particular the outrage on the young girl at Wanganui, with which the Governor had already silenced the chiefs at Taupiri. The article concluded by saying that Matutaera either had or had not power to punish such a crime—if he had power, he deserved punishment for not exercising it—if he had not, he deserved equal punishment for pretending to be a King.2
1 [Its full name was Te Pihoihoi Mokemoke I Runga I Te Tuanui. The name (The Sparrow Alone Upon the House Top) is from Psalm 102, 6 (‘I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.’). (Strictly ‘te pihoihoi mokemoke’ means ‘the lonely groundlark’). Five numbers were published, dated 2 February, 10 February, 23 February, 9 May, 23 May, 1863. The final number was at press when it was taken away by the Maoris. A facsimile title page appears in New Zealand Revisited, p. 99. There are copies in the Auckland Institute and Museum and in the possession of Dr B. G. Biggs, University of Auckland. Copies of Te Hokioi are filed in the archives of the Department of Maori Affairs. On this point I am indebted to Dr W. J. Cameron for information.]
2 [The article was written with the help of Ashwell's daughter (New Zealand Revisited, p. 256).]
These words of the chiefs, who had hitherto restrained the rest from violence, were told to Rewi. He promptly seized the opportunity. He wrote letters to Ngaruawahia, to say that he intended to expel the press and the Commissioner from Te Awamutu. The answer was an old Maori song, sent by Wi Karamoa:—
‘Oh Kahakura,2 at the sea!
Oh Ruamano,2 at the sea!
Hearken! our treasures are being borne away,
By Whiro, Whatino, and Wharona,3
By thieves wind-swift, by thieves headlong.
Cast them down! dash them down!
Fling them upon the trees!
Let them be a prey to be cast down,
A prey to be dashed down,
A prey to become the spoil of the far-famed.
Arise! Gird on!
Cast down! Dash down!
Let there be a shock,
The shock of army meeting army;
Let there be a prayer to overturn them,
To lash them.
Oh Tangaroa!4 whet thy teeth,
Sharpen thy teeth.
If thou liftest thyself up on high, Tangaroa
Shall gather together all his, against thee.’
1 [At Preston Grammer School, Gorst had edited a periodical called The Scholar, which was similarly suppressed by the authorities because of its mocking spirit.]
2 Deities of Waikato.
2 Deities of Waikato.
3 The genii of lies and plunder, and their associates.
4 A water demon.
Rewi paid no attention to this remonstrance. On the 24th of March, at three o'clock in the afternoon, a party of eighty Ngatimaniapotos, armed with guns, arrived at Te Awamutu, headed by Aporo, the same orator who had addressed Mr Fox at Hangatiki. Rewi and Wiremu Kingi came with the party as far as a native house, about three hundred yards from Te Awamutu, where they sat while the mischief was done.1
1 [This incident is reported in AJHR, 1863, E-1.]
2 [Edward John von Dadelszen (1845-1922); came out with Gorst in the Red Jacket; later Register-General of New Zealand. He was the printer whose pin is mentioned below. Gorst's assistant manager at Te Awamutu, R. C. Mainwaring, and some of the servants, also came out in the Red Jacket.]
3 [Pineaha Te Mura, a teacher.]
As soon as news of the riot reached Rangiaowhia, Ti Oriori and Taati came down on horseback, at full speed, to Te Awamutu, vehemently protesting against what had been done. They said the words of Potatau and of the present King were—‘Be kind to the Pakeha.’ The Ngatimaniapoto replied, they acknowledged no King but their ancestor Maniapoto, and would page 221 trample the words of Matutaera and his father under their feet. Taati called for pen and paper, took down this speech, and sent it off to Ngaruawahia. The discussion lasted till evening, when the Rangiaowhia men returned home, leaving the Ngatimaniapoto in possession, but threatening them with the vengeance of Waikato, if they took any further steps before morning. I arrived at home after dark, and was surprised by the large watch-fires lit round the house. The Ngatimaniapoto took no notice of me as I passed through them; they had done no further damage, having even fetched firewood from a distance, instead of burning the fence; but they sent a message into the house, that in the morning, unless I agreed to go, I was to be shot.
1 [He was Manuka, an old chief from Rangiaowhia (AJHR, 1863, E-1).]
It was then suggested that they should ascertain what effect Rewi's conduct had produced on his victim. This was done, in their symbolical fashion, by placing a chair in the middle of the road, on which I was invited to sit down. Aporo then advanced, and said, ‘Get up, and go.’ I said, ‘I shall not.’ He repeated the order several times, receiving the same reply. He then said, ‘If you will not go, I shall use force to drive you away.’ I told him that he had committed a great wrong by invading my land, and taking away my printing-press; and I had a proclamation of Matutaera's Council recently issued against molesting Europeans read aloud, at which they all laughed. I said Aporo was disobeying his King's commands. He said he would disobey his master by driving me away, unless I disobeyed my master by going at once. I replied that nothing but Sir George Grey's orders would induce me to leave the place; and, after saying this, I left the meeting.
The debate was then resumed. Taati pointed with his spear to the house, and said, ‘If you use violence, I am there.’ The Waikatos declared that, though agreeing with Ngatimaniapoto in the desire to get rid of the officer of Government, they would not permit violence to be used. Rewi and his men sat on the ground, in dogged silence, merely observing that they should not stir from the spot until their object was accomplished. He also sent off messengers to Hangatiki, to fetch Reihana and reinforcements. Taati and Ti Oriori came into the house, in great alarm; the former wrote to Ngaruawahia for the King, and the latter to Peria for Wi Tamihana, urging them to come with all speed. They said they should remain in the house, because the Ngatimaniapoto would not dare to make an attack while they were seated within. If a house were set on fire with a chief inside, he would, by Maori custom, be considered as burnt, and due vengeance would be taken by his tribe on the incendiaries. At last, Rewi yielded so far to the persuasions of the Rev. A. Reid, as to agree to withdraw his men, and allow time for communication with Sir George Grey. He made a page 223 speech to the assembly, saying that, when Governor Grey first came to the country, he (Rewi) had shown no signs of hostility, but had waited to see what the Governor would do. First, at Taupari, the Governor declared himself opposed to the King, and began to make the road to Mangatawhiri. Since that time he had been ceaseless in his machinations against their confederation, and in trying to reduce the Maories under the rule of the Queen. They had never been able to attend to their own internal affairs, but had been constantly harassed by alarms. Lastly, at Taupiri, Sir George Grey said he would dig round the King, till he fell. They looked to see where the spades were at work, and they saw me. They were quite resolved to have no digging in Waikato, but to send me to the Queen's land at Mangatawhiri; there I could dig, if I pleased. He should wait till Sir George Grey's answer came; but he warned me, and begged Mr Reid and the other natives to note his words, that if the Governor left me there, he left me to certain death.
He then wrote the following letter:—
‘Te Awamutu, 25 March, 1863.
‘Friend Governor Grey,
‘Greeting. This is my word to you. Mr Gorst has been killed by me. The press has been taken by me. They are my men who took it—eighty, armed with guns. The reason is, to drive away Mr Gorst, that he may return to the town: it is on account of the great darkness caused by his being sent to live here, and tempt us; and also on account of your saying that you would dig round our King till he fell. Friend, take Mr Gorst back to town; do not leave him to live with me at Te Awamutu. If you say he is to stay, he will die. Let your letter be speedy to fetch him away within three weeks.
‘From your friend,
‘To Governor Grey at Taranaki.’
After writing the letter, Rewi, true to his word, withdrew the men, and said, that for a space of three weeks he would guarantee Te Awamutu from attack. During this period, however, the place would be constantly watched, and, after it, the attack would be renewed. He refused to give up the public property which had been seized, saying that he should send it to Mangatawhiri.page 224
During the interval thus gained, there was an opportunity of determining at leisure the possibility of maintaining the position at Te Awamutu.
The Governor resolved to take no notice whatever of Rewi's letter. General instructions were sent to me, that ‘in the event of there being any danger whatever to life,’ I was to ‘return at once to Auckland, with the other Europeans in the employment of Government on the station.’ Further than this, no advice, and no help, could be given. One of the Colonial Ministers, aghast at the peril to which the property of the post-office was exposed, promptly stopped the inland-mail between Auckland and Otawhao, thereby cutting off our regular communication with the town, and grievously affronting Taati, whose men were the mail-carriers, although our very lives depended on his firm opposition to Rewi. As Government could give no assistance, the only chance left was to try once more the plan which had so often succeeded before—an appeal to Wi Tamihana, and the more moderate natives, to resist Rewi's violence.
Ti Oriori, to whose tribe most of the young men in the school belonged, sent two couriers—one to fetch Wi Tamihana; the other to summon the Wherokoko,1 his own section of the Ngatihaua tribe, to attend him armed at Arikirua, for the purpose of defending Te Awamutu. He laughed at the idea of Rewi driving the Maories out of the school, and said he should like to see the attempt made. The boys themselves, who throughout the whole period remained stedfast and obedient, asked Ti Oriori to bring arms, saying, they would then protect Te Awamutu themselves.
The news of Rewi's outrage reached the King at Whatawhata, when Patara, the editor of the Hokioi, was the only Councillor with him. By Patara's advice a letter was written, condemning Rewi, and requiring him to send back the printing-press, pay for the damage and the outrage, and leave all questions about the removal of the Governor's officer to be settled by the King himself. Wiremu Tamihana also arrived at Rangiaowhia, in compliance with Ti Oriori's message.
1 [According to the list of tribes and hapu published in AJHR, 1863, F-3, pp. 146-7, his hapu was called Ngatikoroki.]
I replied that, unless they could prevent Rewi from repeating an act which they admitted to be wrong, the Governor's words had already proved true, and the King had fallen. Rewi was now master, and Waikato and Ngatihaua had become his slaves.
When Tamihana found I would not go, he and Ti Oriori went to Ngaruawahia, and proposed that the King's soldiers should occupy Te Awamutu, to prevent a second attack; but they soon discovered that few would back their proposals. Lower Waikato was charmed at Rewi's daring. Tipene said Rewi's conduct was partly right and partly wrong; but they would accept the wrong with the right, and as he had begun the mischief, it had better go on. The King's Council, frightened and perplexed, set to work to discover the original instigators of the riot: it was proved that Wi Karamoa and two other chiefs of the Council had said or done things which encouraged Rewi in making his attack. Each of them was fined two pounds.page 226
At length, as a last hope, the Rev. A. Purchas, the medical commissioner,1 and I went to Ngaruawahia, where we were hospitably lodged by Te Paea and Patara, in the printing-office of Te Hokioi. The chiefs who had been fined by the Runanga came to excuse themselves. They said that when the first number of the Pihoihoi came out, they were very angry at what was written about the King, and asked: ‘Why isn't the press taken away?’ But they were sorry Rewi had construed their hasty words as an approval of his unjustifiable attack.
In the evening there was a Runanga, to discuss the propriety of defending Te Awamutu. Some urged that to do so was their duty; others objected to undertake a task they had not strength to perform. Te Paea sat in our tent, near the house where the discussion was going on. She said it was neither the Pihoihoi, nor the words of the Ngaruawahia chiefs, that had caused Rewi's acts; it was Tataraimaka. Rewi had done his best to prevent peace being made in 1861, and had been trying ever since to renew the Taranaki war; he was now doing his best to provoke a war in Waikato. She said that Rewi insulted Tamihana, when he went to Kihikihi to expostulate: she should go too; but it was unlikely Rewi would listen to her, after mocking at so good a man. Finally, having worked herself into a frantic state, she rushed, tears running down her cheeks, into the adjoining house, and addressed the meeting in a very loud voice, abusing their acts and designs for about an hour.
Next morning, I wrote to the Runanga, saying that Rewi had attacked Te Awamutu, and had alleged that he was sanctioned by all Waikato. I asked whether it was true that Waikato abetted him.
Upon this, Patara came out and said, that this was the very question they had debated for three days and three nights without coming to a decision, but they would hold another meeting in the afternoon. A large number of natives were present, strangers from Hawke's Bay and the East Cape, and also several of the Lower Waikato chiefs who had assailed Te Kohekohe. Proceedings commenced by reading out my letter. Herewini of Te Kohekohe rose to reply:—
1 [Arthur Guyon Purchas (1821-1906), a doctor trained at Guy's Hospital; Anglican clergyman at Onehunga, 1853-75.]
‘Yes. It is done by all Waikato. Though Rewi did it, it belongs to all Waikato. When we were at Te Kohekohe, we resolved to go up to Otawhao and remove you; but when we arrived at Ngaruawahia, we heard Rewi had done it. The first ground for our wish to drive you away is the Governor's word at Taupiri, that he would dig round the King until he fell; the second is the house at Te Kohekohe, which the Governor and you planned, and which Te Wheoro is to execute; the third is the post set up as our boundary at Te Ia, which you presumed to pull up; the fourth is the house at Te Awamutu; and the fifth is the Pihoihoi. We saw that the Governor's words at Taupiri were being fulfilled, so we determined to remove you and all your works and goods to Te la, to the Governor's side.’
After this speech there was a dead silence, until Patara came to ask privately what we were going to say. We told Patara we were not going to say anything. We did not intend to discuss Herewhini's five ‘causes,’ because no cause could justify the act of driving a man from his own land,—all we wished to know was, who had joined in the deed.
This was repeated aloud, and Herewhini again said, It was all Waikato.
We then asked—‘Who are all Waikato?’
He pointed down the river and waved his spear round the horizon, saying that it included all, and more than all, that we could see. From Tongariro to the sea, all had agreed.
We said—‘Not all.’
He challenged us to name one who had not.
We named—‘Matutaera Potatau and Wi Tamihana.’
He would not believe this unless letters were produced. It was no use to say we had seen a letter of Tamihana; he would not believe it.
A Waipa chief, sitting by, indiscreetly produced Matutaera's letter, written on first hearing of Rewi's outrage. It was handed about among the councillors, but did not seem to be a safe one to read aloud. And so the meeting ended as fruitlessly as the three preceding ones.
Patara at last brought a verbal answer to the question, from Matutaera. I insisted on a written answer. After Patara had page 228 returned several times to confer with the King, we obtained the following:—
In explanation of this letter, Patara said, that the King was merely the mouthpiece of his people: he acknowledged that Matutaera had made Rewi's act his own. He said the King could not tell me to remain, because he had no power to protect me against Rewi; and he was afraid of blaming Rewi too strongly, lest he should revolt altogether.
Te Paea and Patara promised, however, to come to Te Awamutu, and make one last effort to induce the Ngatimaniapoto to abstain from violence.
It was just at this conjuncture of affairs that the letter from Taranaki, quoted in the last chapter, arrived in Waikato. The bearer met Rewi at Kihikihi, and gave the letter into his hands. Without waiting to consult with any of his brother chiefs, he turned the messenger back with this answer—‘Strike the Pakeha.’ He then mustered his men, and set off to Hangatiki, leaving Wharetini behind to settle matters at Te Awamutu. The printing press was duly restored very little damaged, and was safely brought down to Auckland. It is an illustration of the fairness of newspaper reports, that though the capture of the press was chronicled, its restoration was passed over in silence, and was, in the Southern Cross, absolutely denied.
When the news of the occupation of Tataraimaka by the Governor's troops, and of the message which Rewi had sent back, became known to the Waikato chiefs, Te Paea, Patara, and Ti Oriori, hastened to Te Awamutu. Patara said that, after the message Rewi had sent, there would certainly be war at Taranaki. The coming war would not be like former wars. The young men of the present day would not attend to the words of their chiefs, but would rob and murder as they pleased. No one had any authority over them—not even Rewi; they only obeyed him so long as his commands pleased them. The King had no power at all. I told Patara he was talking like the Pihoihoi. He page 229 laughed, and said it was very true. They had come out of kindness, to urge us to go to Auckland at once. We had seen how Rewi treated us in time of peace; and we might judge what he would do in time of war; or rather what the people of Hangatiki might do. They said, in very plain language, that as soon as the first shot had been fired at Taranaki, any young fellow who wished to exalt his name would come and murder us, and the chiefs would have no power to prevent it. Te Paea said their warning applied to settlers and missionaries, as well as to the officers of Government. Maories did not care now to send their children to the Mission-schools, and they thought they could read prayers and preach as well as the missionaries themselves. They begged us to go at once, and not to put it off from day to day, waiting till bad news came from Taranaki; it would be too late to go then.
Being without arms, and at the mercy of the first assailant, I had no choice but to abandon Te Awamutu. At the same time, most of the European settlers left the district.1
1 [Gorst left Te Awamutu on 18 April, 1863.]