New Zealand Revisited
Chapter X — Sir George Grey
Sir George Grey
Before the arrival of Sir George Grey, the New Zealand Ministry, which had been actively supporting the war policy into which Governor Browne was reluctantly drifting, was turned out of office, and a peace Ministry under Mr. Fox—afterwards Sir William Fox—was formed. Communications had passed between the Governor and Tamihana, of a milder and more pacific character, and a general feeling had arisen in the colony as to the expediency of making some effort to settle pacifically the quarrel between Europeans and Maories without further fighting. It was settled between the Governor and the New Zealand Ministry that I was to be sent on a mission into the Waikato district, ostensibly to inspect and report upon all the schools supported by the missionary societies, and the natives, and at the same time to keep my ears open, and learn all I could as to the state of things in general, and the sentiments at present prevailing among Waikato chiefs as to peace or war. My departure was delayed until the arrival of Sir George Grey, who, after reading all papers about Tamihana, pronounced him likely to turn out "a troublesome fellow." It was said that Tamihana had had a new-born son christened "Newcastle," as a mark of esteem of that nobleman's conduct in recalling Governor Browne.page 161
I went up the river in the company of Mr. Burrows, the secretary of the Church Missionary Society, who was on his way to Tauranga, and we took Tamati Ngapora with us, who was commissioned to induce the Waikato chiefs to go to Auckland to see Sir George Grey, although they had already declared that they would not have anything to do with the new Governor, until he recognized the Maori king. We visited that potentate, as we passed Ngaruawahia; he complained of being very much out of sorts, and his son, a nice little boy at Mr. Ashwell's school, was suffering from swollen feet. This had made the little prince cross and refractory; he had refused to wash until his nurses applied to Mr. Ashwell, one day when he was there to hold a service, to compel him. The Maori queen had been having her lips tattooed, for which offence she was fined £ 10, and the man who performed the operation £ 5. The little boy, grown into a man, is now the principal chief of the Maories whom I visited at Waahi in December last year: he is still popularly spoken of as the "Maori King." The title which caused a war in 1863 gives no offence to the most rigid Imperialist now.
From the Waikato plain we went over the ranges to Matamata for the first time to see Tamihana's schools, to which I had been so often and so long ago invited. It was a very rough road over wooded hills with no end of rivers and streams to cross. The village was beautifully situated on the edge page 162of the hills overlooking the Thames valley. The school was on the plain about 1½ miles beyond the village, and there Tamihana was found engaged in ploughing land for the support of the school like a primitive Roman. He entertained us as sumptuously as he could, for the time of year, but it was the hungry season with the Maories. All last year's food had been eaten up, and this year's crops were not yet ripe. The schools surprised us much; there were several buildings of raupo, and an estate of thirty acres sown with wheat. The boys and girls had separate houses at a considerable distance apart, and separate bathing places in a deep running stream which almost surrounded the school land. The numbers were small; formerly there were sixty-three, but they had dwindled down to fifteen or sixteen. Tamihana said it was all the "madness of the madman who was gone," that had ruined his school. The discipline was admirable, and the official report made at the time that "the children passed as good an examination in reading, writing and arithmetic as could be desired." The schools had been got up and managed by the Maories themselves under the superintendence of Tamihana. I tried to persuade Tamihana to go back with me to Auckland to meet Sir George Grey, and though he would not commit himself so far, he promised to intercept me on the Waipa, or elsewhere on my return, should he ultimately decide to accept the invitation. I thought from his conversation that he would have much page 163liked to go, but he could not at that time have visited Sir George Grey without an open rupture with the war party, and he was not prepared to venture on that step.
During the same journey I paid, one Sunday, my first visit to Kihikihi, the headquarters of the war party, and there I met for the first time with Rewi, whom I described in a letter written at the time as "a sharp lawyer-like Ngatimaniapoto," and Wi Kingi "a pleasant looking, white-headed old man, of genial and affable manners." There were plenty of soldiers' caps, rifles, and other spoils from Taranaki in the village, and a lot of young men, who wore a kind of uniform and were drilled as a bodyguard for Wi Kingi. We all squatted down on the ground after the Church service was over, and had a little talk about Sir George Grey. Wi Kingi said that his Maori children were too poorly to go and see him, and that he would have to come and see them. They said that Governor Browne was an eagle that came swooping down upon them from the clear sky, while Governor Grey was a rat that burrowed underground out of sight, and would come up in their midst when and where they least expected. It appeared evident from the conversation that Sir George Grey's personal influence among the Maories had been much over-rated; those present did not seem to have the least bit of regard for him, and several remarked that he had fought John Heke and Rangihaete, when he was Governor before, and was very likely to fight again.page 164
They did not appear in the least afraid of the troops, and thought themselves quite safe so long as there was no road to Waikato whereby cannon, of which they seemed to be greatly afraid, could be brought into the field.
I returned down the Waipa, but as I expected saw nothing of Tamihana, though at each village I heard of his having been there. I stopped for the night at Kopua, the mission station of the Rev. A. Reid. He had a very good Wesleyan school, one of the best I had seen in Waikato. There were excellent buildings, all constructed by the parents, with glazed windows and good doors, and all the food was found by the parents—flour, meat, and milk in abundance.
Sir George Grey after his arrival was not long in coming to the same conclusion as Rewi at Kihi-kihi, that an invasion of Waikato was impossible until a good metalled road had been made through the Hunua forest ranges, which divided the settled districts round Auckland from the river. While this was being done it was necessary to occupy the attention of the Waikatos and the Maories generally by a real or sham effort to introduce laws and civilization among them: but from the first such men as Tamihana and Rewi were never for one moment deceived, and as soon as they heard that troops were employed in making the road through the ranges to the Waikato river they never doubted that Sir George Grey ultimately intended war. Tamihana wrote to Sir George Grey, in reply to the page 165invitation conveyed through me, that he was willing and anxious to come to town if his tribe would let him, but that if Sir George Grey would go to Ngaruawahia he would meet him there. I had a long interview with the Governor after my return from the school inspection, and I assured him there was no chance of any of the Waikato chiefs coming to wait upon him in Auckland. He did not seem to entertain any intention of fighting about the Maori king, and spoke of the whole business as a subject for ridicule rather than indignation. He asked leave to send some of my private letters home in the despatches to help in convincing the British Government of the absurdity of making war upon a king who spent his time in smoking pipes, and planting kumaras.
Tamati Ngapora at last succeeded in persuading some old Waikato chiefs, of no great importance, to go back with him to Auckland and see Sir George Grey. They, however, declared their resolution to stick to their King and flag as unabated, and the Governor could do nothing but express his general disapproval. The victory of Tamihana and the Waikatos seemed complete. They had been threatened with war if they did not give up the king and flag, they had refused point blank, and the Governor was not prepared to carry out the threat.
Leaving affairs in Waikato in this unsettled condition, Sir George Grey turned his attention to the invention of a plan for the future administration page 166of Maori districts. Mr. Fox and the New Zealand Ministry consented to assume the responsibility of administering native affairs, which, during the whole of Sir Thomas Gore-Browne's governorship had been reserved as the sole right of the Home Government. The Native Secretary and the Native Office were under the exclusive control of the Governor, the New Zealand Ministry did not meddle with them. There was in those days no electric telegraph to Australia or New Zealand, and when after some months this constitutional change was reported to the Secretary of State in Downing Street, the Home Government approved it; but during the time that had to elapse before their approval could reach New Zealand, the New Zealand Assembly had repudiated Mr. Fox and his policy, and denounced by special resolution the transfer of responsibility in native affairs to the Colonial Government. A new Prime Minister, Mr. Domett, had been installed, who was to second and support the policy of the Governor, but was not to assume any responsibility for it. After this and till after the outbreak of the great war, Sir George Grey and his ministers were in a chronic state of disagreement, each trying to throw the responsibility for every step that was taken upon the other.
In the early days, however, Sir George Grey and Mr. Fox soon came to an agreement as to the plan of government that was to be introduced into native territory. The Maori country was to be page 167divided into districts, over each of which a Civil Commissioner was to be placed, who was to be entrusted with the whole task of civilizing and governing the natives in his district. There was to be in each district a liberal staff of Maori magistrates, assessors, and policemen, who were to be paid salaries by the New Zealand Government as long as they remained loyal to the Queen's side. These new institutions were to be established first in the North at the Bay of Islands, to which the King movement could scarcely be said to have spread. For this purpose the Governor with General Cameron and their staffs went down to the Bay in H.M.S. Pelorus, commanded by Captain Beauchamp-Seymour. Mr. Fox as Prime Minister accompanied them and took me with him as his secretary.
Four large meetings were held at Korerareka, Kiri-kiri, Waimate, and Hokianga. The proceedings at each presented a monotonous similarity: there was first a great consumption of pork, eels, kumaras, and potatoes, followed by speeches and songs from the chiefs; and then the Governor, through an interpreter, gave an account of the new method of government he wished to introduce, after which there was discussion, which developed into conversation and the meeting came to an end, as Maori meetings usually do, without any definite resolution being passed. At Waimate the proceedings were enlivened by a crazy old chief, who ran up and down with a kauri-gum spear in his page 168hand, making a most violent and hostile oration. He ended by jumping on to the verandah where Sir George was seated, seizing him by the hand and offering at his throat with the point of the spear. Sir George did not turn a hair; he laughed at the man in a cool, genial way, who on his side burst out laughing, shook the Governor warmly by the hand, and said it was all a joke and he was very glad to see him.
The ride across the forests to Hokianga was a novel experience. The party was accompanied by a crowd of Maories on horseback, galloping about and kicking up clouds of dust or showers of mud according to the state of the changeable weather. From the top of a hill on the road I beheld the greatest stretch of forest I ever saw. In the plain below to right and left as far as the eye could reach, the trees extended and ascended to the top of the range of mountains opposite which bounded the horizon. The Hokianga river forms a large and beautiful tidal sound, like a Scotch loch, which penetrated the forest. We came down to one of the tributary creeks, and were taken to the house of a settler named Webster, where we remained weather-bound for three or four days by torrents of rain. At last we got down the river to a place where one or two thousand natives were collected. There was a sham war-dance, not like the real one I had seen before at Paetai, and a feast—baskets of kumaras and potatoes piled up in a long row, with quarters of oxen on the page 169top with the red skin still on, and the carcasses of pigs, all covered with large blue flies. The military members of the party were ill fitted for bush travelling with their quantities of luggage and dependence on servants. Sir George Grey seemed to take a real pleasure in dragging the General off the road, to see some huge kauri tree, or to visit a burying-place in a mangrove swamp, that could not be found. He nearly drowned him in the mud; I thought he did it on purpose.
Soon after the party from the Bay of Islands got back to Auckland an opportunity occurred of sending an emissary of Government in an official capacity into the Waikato, which Sir George Grey promptly seized upon. Tamihana had written to complain of the traffic in spirits carried on by European traders in the Thames valley, in violation of the laws of both the Queen of England and the Maori king. He wrote that the Ngatihaua had a vessel on board which it was decided by the Runanga of the tribe that no spirits should be carried. A Frenchman named Louis had seen her in Auckland, put three kegs of spirits on board and arrived with them in the Thames. On hearing of this the Maori Runanga had taken away the kegs and given them into the charge of the owners of the vessel, in whose hands they were still lying untouched. He asked whether they were right in what they had done and invited the Government to assist him in carrying out the law and saving his people from the demoralization of drunkenness.page 170
I was sent off immediately to Matamata to tell him that the Ngatihaua owners of the ship had no legal right to seize and detain private property; that if an action were brought against them in the British courts they would be condemned to pay damages, which might be exacted if their ship continued to trade with Auckland; but that the Government sympathized with his purpose to keep spirits out of his country and would do everything to help him to carry it out in a lawful way. The Government had accordingly sent me up with a commission as a magistrate, which would authorize me to deal with the owners of the spirits and with any Pakeha who repeated the offence. The instructions of the Government were to use this opportunity of impressing upon Tamihana the advantage of having an authority in the district that could deal with Pakehas as well as Maories, and I was empowered to offer commissions as magistrates to him and the Waikato chiefs and to promise that their Runangas should be legalized and the by-laws passed by them made valid. As soon as I had told my errand, Tamihana replied at once that long ago he had earnestly besought help from the Government, and had besought in vain, and that he had therefore tried to set up a government of his own. "If," he said, "a weka once escapes from the snare you never catch that same bird again."
I had to wait at Matamata for three or four days while Tamihana ruminated on the Governor's page 171message and proposal. It was a very hungry visit. The Maories were eating fern-root, having no pigs and no potatoes left; a small piece of salt meat we took with us was carried off in the night by a famished cat. Fern root is wholesome but not appetizing. After being roasted, it is laid on a board and beaten with a club, for it is too tough a morsel for teeth alone; it tastes like hard biscuit dipped in aloes. Tamihana himself rode down the Thames valley to try to buy some biscuits, probably from the same trader whose spirits he had seized, but none were to be had. We had a great deal of talk upon other matters than the object of my visit. I recollect him pointing out a village on the opposite side of the Thames valley, where he said there was still to be seen a dog of the old Maori breed, which the Pakeha dog had at that time almost entirely exterminated.
At last he made up his mind to ride over with us to Waikato and lay the proposal of the Governor before the Runangas. "You know," he said to me, "in the multitude of counsellors there is safety," adding sotto voce, "perhaps for the counsellors." He borrowed one of my shirts, for which he was most anxious to pay me, having no clothes but a pair of corduroys and a very ragged flannel shirt which long abstinence from washing had reduced to dingy earth colour. He turned out for the expedition mounted on a capital little horse, wearing a belt and a long pistol, but no hat, and galloped furiously over the page 172Maunga Kawa ranges into Waikato, doing in five hours what we were accustomed to regard as a long day's journey. We went first to Te Oriori's place at Arikirua, where I confess to seeing with greedy delight the killing and roasting of a pig, by which our hunger was stayed. A diet of fern root creates a marvellous appetite for pork. We went to Runangas at Arikirua, Tamahere and Ngaruawahia. The Runanga in which such legislative and administrative power as existed among the Maories in those days resided was like no other deliberative assembly that I ever heard of. The senators lay wrapped in blankets all round the house of assembly, and each person sat up to speak. A great fire blazed in the middle, and through the chinks in the raupo wall other fires could be seen outside for cooking, from which women brought in clean flax baskets of roast pork, potatoes, and fermented maize as fast as they could be prepared. The talk goes on till everybody falls asleep—there is no closure—and the decision is given when they awake in the morning.
At Arikirua suspicions were expressed by the Ngatihaua that Sir George Grey's proposals were a trick to get them to do away with their King. Te Oriori said that the way to catch owls was for one man to shake something before the bird to attract its attention while a confederate slipped a noose over its head from behind. I was sent to dazzle them with laws and institutions and the Governor was watching his chance of entangling page 173them in the meshes of the Queen's sovereignty. It was at last agreed that they should obey laws made in the first instance 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 making their laws was the number of Pakehas resident in Waikato whose interests were bound up with their own. If the Governor, they all said, would allow the King and national flag to stand, all other matters could easily be settled. At Tamahere a very large and excited crowd crammed itself into the meeting house, to hear Sir George Grey's scheme admirably expounded by Tamihana himself, who brought out all the leading points in the clearest manner. But all the speeches that followed were uproarious in their hostility. Wetini's younger brother, Paora, who had escaped from the fight at Taranaki in which Wetini was killed, with a bayonet stuck in his body, made a most effective oration against the British Government, abusing all their acts, from the Treaty of Waitangi onwards. He said they would not come back under the Queen's rule. They had so often been made fools of by us, that they felt certain if they agreed to this proposal they would be made fools of again. Speaker after speaker followed in the same strain, crying out that they would stand by their King and their flag. Next morning Tamihana said "You have now heard the opinions of the men of Arikirua and Tamahere. Meet me to-morrow page 174at Ngaruawahia; let us hear what they say there."
At Ngaruawahia a law had been recently passed forbidding Pakehas to enter the town unless by special permission. Ignorant of this innovation, I arrived there next day and sat down to talk to a Ngatihaua chief till Tamihana should make his appearance. Two of the King's policemen, zealous for the new law, came 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 what they were whispering about, I went down to the riverside and got into a small canoe, meaning to lean over and drink. The canoe being light, capsized and soused me in the Waikato. This decided the dispute 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 this was done Tamihana arrived at full gallop, having just heard of the new law, and fearing that I should be sent away. Sir George always affected to believe that I fell in on purpose.
The new proposals were discussed by the Runanga of Ngaruawahia in the most able and temperate manner. There was little said about the salaries, but much about the way in which the new institutions would work and the security the Maories would have for their liberty and independence. They all said that if some plan of the page 175sort 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 work with him for the common good. There was a difference of opinion about having a Pakeha officer to live among them. Tamihana and a few others advocated it, but the majority desired to put the question off until confidence was restored. They would wait to hear what was said at the meeting about to take place at Taupari between Sir George Grey and the chiefs of Lower Waikato.
During the meeting at Ngaruawahia, all the chiefs pressed so hard for an effective spirit law and complained so bitterly of the neglect of the British Government that I sat up and pledged the Governor to enact one forthwith, and begged them to judge of the sincerity and earnestness of the Governor by the rapidity with which it should be done. Looking back on this promise with the experience of a long official life, it seems to me to have been criminally rash, but I knew nothing of the inside of a Government office and its capacity for procrastination in those days. On this occasion, however, fortune favoured the bold. I rode straight down the river bank and caught Sir George Grey on his way to Archdeacon Maunsell's Mission Station at Kohanga, whence he was to proceed to the Taupari meeting. He at once consented to the requisite order in council being page 176passed prohibiting the importation of spirits into Waikato, sent me into Auckland to see the necessary forms gone through, and the law was made and published within ten days after the pledge was given. It was received with universal satisfaction by the King natives, for it did not occur to them at first that it was a virtual admission of the Queen's sovereignty in their territory.
During my absence in Auckland, the meeting of Sir George Grey with the Waikato chiefs at Taupari took place. Taupari was a Maori village near the Waikato Heads, where the Waikato river discharges itself into the ocean, and must not be confounded with Taupiri, Mr. Ashwell's station far up the river. To this conference all Waikato was looking with interest and concern; they thought that the question of peace or war would practically be decided. None of the leading chiefs from Upper Waikato were present, but they sent two men, Tipene and Herewini to represent them: they were selected not for their own rank and importance, but for their talents in oratory, which were very highly rated by their countrymen. The proceedings began by the public bestowal on Waata Kukutai and his tribe of the new gifts of Government. He was installed as head magistrate of the "Taupari Hundred," with a salary of £ 50 per annum, and the new institutions were fully explained to him and his people and to all others who wished to be loyal and receive salaries. On that same day the page 177Governor catechized Herewini and learnt from him that the Waikatos did not intend to force their King upon Maories who did not wish to have him. "I felt some anxiety," said the Governor, "to know whether you intended to force your King upon tribes who did not want him, because I should have been obliged to protect them from such a course of things: but now my mind is at ease. I don't care what you call him: King or Chief, I do not mind him. I shall look upon each chief as the king of his own tribe: and if two or more tribes come to me and say, 'This is our King,' I shall say, 'Well, if you like to give up your chieftainship to another man, well and good, I shall not care.' I shall have twenty kings in New Zealand before long, and the kings who work with me shall be wealthy kings, and kings of wealthy poople."
On the second day Sir George made a long speech to the Waikatos: he began by an assurance of his impartiality between Pakeha and Maori, and of his sense of responsibility to the Judgment Seat at which he would have to stand, and said, "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." On the points of difference between the two races he demanded first that the property stolen from the Europeans (at Taranaki) should be given up. "Whenever a man is caught with any of the stolen property, page 178even if it be twenty years hence, he will be taken before the judge, and, if found to be a thief, he will be punished."
In the second place, he urged the making of roads throughout the country and the protection of those who used them. "You must not think I shall let travellers, either Europeans or Maories, be stopped and plundered. I shall not make war upon the tribe; but if ever I catch the individual he shall be punished."
"Now," he went on, "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."
After explaining the land purchase policy which he intended to pursue, and the new institutions he desired to establish throughout the country, he concluded, "Now dare 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.page 179
After your departure, we considered that we should raise up a King for ourselves, to stop blood-shedding and repress the evils of the land, and put an end to wars. Men were selling land throughout the island. We thought New Zealand would 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.page 180 The Governor.—
If any tribe sells land to us, will you attack it?Tipene.—
We shall not consent. We and our 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 on us.The Governor.—
What, by force?Tipene.—
No. We shall not strike; but if he sees us withholding 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."The Governor.—
How about the land of the Europeans, on which the Maories have gone?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?page 181 The Governor.—
What land do you mean?Tipene.—
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 compensation. 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 spear at the Governor's feet, and said: "Look here: You say there is no 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.page 182 Tipene.—
Very well. Are your questions ended?The Governor.—
Then I will ask a question. Are you opposed to my King?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 is 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 page 183condemnation 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 army which he had at his disposal, and which he told them he could increase indefinitely, to put down the obnoxious King by force.
Sir George Grey's next act, however, which page 184he 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, and was impassable for wheeled traffic. 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 work had been stopped, by order of the Colonial Government, about two miles short of the riverside. Without a road through this forest, it was an idle threat to talk of invading the Waikato country. The Maories well knew this, and accordingly laughed in perfect security at the menaces 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 in idleness 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 page 185alive 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 the 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 they heard of it, they never swerved from the opinion that Sir George Grey's ultimate intention was war.