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New Zealand Revisited

Chapter XX — Farewell

page 323

Chapter XX

We sailed from Auckland for Sydney on December 10, in one of the Union Company of New Zealand's steamers. It was a sad and everlasting farewell, no "auf wiedersehen"; we all knew that there was little chance of our ever seeing each other's faces any more. I could not help contrasting the happiness and prosperity which we left behind with the sad and gloomy prospects of both races at the time of my former departure. The war in Waikato which had been so long dreaded had actually broken out. The decision to invade Waikato had been made in haste: it was agreed upon by Sir George Grey and the New Zealand Ministry only during the day which preceded the night in which the troops began their march. So many reports from the most varied quarters had come pouring in, all tending to show that there was a plan amongst the Waikatos to do some outrageous act like the fatal ambuscade at Tataraimaka to provoke an immediate war, that the Governor resolved to begin hostilities at once for the sake of the women and children in the outlying districts who might have been the first victims. It was of course impossible to say then, and it is impossible to say now, whether the fear of attack was well grounded; in my opinion both then and now it was not; but after page 324the fatal consequence of incredulity at Taranaki, the Government were reluctant to discredit native reports a second time. Just at the time when the troops advanced, the Maories living peaceably in the native settlements between Auckland and Waikato were practically ejected from their ancient homes: it was a proceeding both unjust and impolitic, against which I had vehemently protested at the time to the Colonial Ministers, but in vain. The fugitive Maories congregated on the edge of the Hunua ranges near Drury, just at the fringe of that vast forest which lies between the settled country and Waikato, penetrated only by the one road which Sir George Grey had completed and by native war tracks. The party under Ihaka and Mohi, which were visited by Mr. Dillon Bell as related in a former chapter, were only a type of numerous similar parties. They were speedily reinforced by Taati and the chiefs of Rangiaowhia who had been our greatest friends and allies, and began the destruction of farms and property and lives. Whakapaukai, who had borne the worst character in the days of peace, ended his life gallantly in one of the first skirmishes, fighting bravely in the open with his face to the foe.

Tamihana had at last joined the fighting party: he had never before engaged in war since in his young days he became a Christian; he had then declared, to the consternation of his father, an old cannibal chief and warrior, that he should never page 325fight again, and had in spite of this public eccentricity acquired an authority and prestige not only over his own tribe, but over the Maori race, such as few chiefs have ever attained. He now wrote to Archdeacon Browne at Tauranga: "I shall spare neither the unarmed, nor property." People in Auckland were in a state of not unreasonable alarm. The General and the troops were in the Waikato country with no enemy in their front but the swamps, while the Maori warparties were nearer to Auckland than the troops, swarming in the Hunua ranges, with unbroken forest extending to Hauraki on the one side and to Waiuku on the other, and in communication by forest paths with Paetai and Upper Waikato. On the plain below were only a handful of soldiers with the raw colonial levies, communicating with the General only by the one road, which it was unsafe to traverse except in strong armed parties. Auckland was defended only by a few militiamen and some hastily embodied volunteers: if any of the war-parties had succeeded in slipping past the weak force at Drury, which is only twenty miles from Auckland, they might have burnt and sacked the town. Hohaia, a Maori who had been left in charge of the house at Te Awamutu, managed to send us a letter in which he said that the plan which he had heard, and to which he was told Tamihana had agreed, was that a part of the Maories should draw off the militia and soldiers by a feint, while another body should lie in ambush page 326and make the actual attack. All trade was suspended; every citizen went about with a rifle in his hand; the town was filled with women and children, refugees from the outlying districts; and a large proportion of the younger men were out in the field on active service. All the people in Auckland were in a fierce discontented mood. The taste of the reality of war was unpleasant; a triumphant raid into Waikato, which they had expected, was a very different thing from fighting at Drury, and watching all night to save the town from being burnt. The hatred with which Maories were regarded grew into a senseless passion: the Government had to smuggle the most friendly chiefs from the North out of town, for fear of their being massacred; even the Maori clergy were in danger, and the language and threats publicly used in the street were atrocious, James Fulloon said, the last time I saw him, that they made him ashamed of being partly a European.

The Governor sent off to Australia and India for all the troops that could be mustered and spared; and resolved to recruit a colonial force in Australia. It was for this object that I accompanied Mr. Dillon Bell to Sydney. My family went too; Auckland was in too dangerous a state for them to be left there alone. I little imagined it would be forty-three years before I should see New Zealand again.

The prospects of the Maori race were blacker page 327than even those of the European settlers. They were embarked in a fruitless struggle with the stronger race, in which they were certain to be worsted: they were sure to lose the greater part of their lands: they ran serious risk of extermination. The wiser chiefs never had any illusion as to the certainty of their ultimate defeat. I often pointed out to them in our friendly talks the irresistible force which Great Britain was capable of bringing against them: they never contested the fact but only replied, "Then let me die with honour." The horrors of the war of races which the invasion of Waikato brought about lasted some twenty years. That the natives have survived it, and come out of the struggle with the greater part of their lands preserved to them, and that they hold their present position in the New Zealand Commonwealth, redounds greatly to the credit of the colonists. They are represented in the Legislative Council, and there are four special Maori members in the House of Representatives. What the future history of the race will be depends upon physical much more than political causes. The question whether the race in New Zealand, like the cognate races in Tahiti, Hawaii and Samoa is dying out or not, has never been satisfactorily settled. The Maori population of to-day, as recorded in the official year book, appears to be much what it was supposed to be forty or fifty years ago, though in those days it was impossible to obtain a census as accurate page 328as the estimate of to-day. The official number of the Maori population at the last three censuses is as follows:—

But the figures for 1896 showed a large decrease and the increases for the periods 1896-1901 and 1901-1906 are too great to be accepted as facts, Whether there has been any degree of increase during the last ten years is considered doubtful, and, so far as the censuses since 1874 are to be relied on, the population of Maories is at least stationary. The half-caste population, on the other hand, is thought to be on the increase and at the 1906 census amounted to 6,516.

The following extracts from Reports of Dr. Pomare, a Maori, native Health Officer under the New Zealand Government, will give some idea of the causes which impede the increase of the Maori race:—

"We have looked into the question of the decline of the Maori, and have found that the causes of this were legion. Bad housing, feeding, clothing, nursing, unventilated rooms, unwholesome pahs, were all opposed to the perpetuation of the race; but a deeper knowledge of the Maori reveals to us the fact that these are not the only potent factors in the causation of his decay—like an imprisoned bird of the forest, he pines for the liberty and freedom of his alpine woods. This page 329was a warrior race used to fighting for liberty or to death. All this is gone, fighting is no more. There is no alternative but to become a pakeha. Was not this saying uttered by the mouth of a dying chief many generations ago: 'Shadowed behind the tattooed face a stranger stands, he who owns the earth, and he is white?' There is no hope for the Maori but in ultimate absorption by the pakeha. This is his only hope, if hope it be—to find his descendants merged in the future sons of the Briton of the Southern Hemisphere. Sons who will not forget that in them runs the warrior blood of unconquered chieftains of centuries, and who, on the other hand, will be imbued with loyalty and imperialism, proud of being members of the Empire to which belonged their fathers. While, however, this is taking place, we must recognize the fact that these people must live under hygienic conditions, not only because it would be to their own advantage, but also that the public at large demands it; and that is why the crusade must be carried on—the war waged with increased vigour and untiring effort."

"There is one matter which I would like to draw your attention to which I think has an all-important bearing on the fertility of the race, and that is Maori marriages. The matrimonial arrangements of the Maori are not only deplorable but productive of much harm. Girls entering their teens are made to wed beardless youths, with the page 330result that the first two or three children die prematurely, and those who live are helpless weaklings, prone to consumption and other weaknesses."

"It has been said that the Maori women are sterile, and that is one of the reasons why the Maori is decreasing. I think this state of sterility is more or less limited to the aristocratic Maori. When you look through the list of our noted men, you find that most of them are heirless, but not so with the plebeian. They are productive enough, only more than half of the children die before they reach mature years. Why the aristocratic Maori is unproductive is probably due to the two following reasons: first, consanguineous marriages; second, the partial adoption of pakeha habits and costumes, promoting diseases. There is no doubt that consanguineous marriages, which are more or less limited to persons of high rank, result in the extinction of aristocratic lines. The second reason is evident enough, for Maori women are martyrs to female complaints which are due to carelessness, neglect and exposure. If we could save half of the children who die annually, there would be a marked increase in the Maori population. The main causes for the infant mortality are: first and greatest, ignorance concerning the bringing-up of babies; second, unsuitable food; third, bad clothing; fourth, bad ventilation; fifth, improper nursing and non-attendance of page break
Photo by Sir John Logan CampbellThe British Commission

Photo by Sir John Logan Campbell
The British Commission

page 331qualified physicians when sick; sixth, tohungaism and superstition; seventh, prejudice."

There was a final gathering of our friends on December 10, at the Grand Hotel: the British Commissioners gave a farewell luncheon to the principal citizens of Auckland; besides Mr. Fowlds and the Mayor, personal friends and the descendants of former friends were there. Patara was a distinguished and honoured guest, and his reception by the company was a visible token of the change that had come over the social estimation of his race. The Mayor took us down to the steamer, and as we drew away from the wharf, William Swanson and William Hughes, the old scholars of Te Awamutu, waved a last farewell. Good-bye to the kindness and hospitality of the living. Good-bye to the fond memories of the dead.

Next morning the vessel was off the North Cape: we soon sighted and passed the Three Kings Islands: I watched this last bit of New Zealand territory till it faded away in the distance—Good-bye for ever. Good-bye, Good-bye!

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