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Notes on Sir William Martin's Pamphlet Entitled the Taranaki Question

Page 86

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Page 86.

"For years the people experienced the mischiefs which flowed from the decline and the failure of the power which formerly restrained and governed their tribes."

It must not be considered that the Chiefs possessed similar influence (authority they had nowhere) in all the tribes alike. The Ngatiawa were always celebrated for repudiating chieftainship and the exercise of influence by their principal men: in this they resembled the people at Poverty Bay on the East Coast, who have a proverb "Turanga tangata rite," all men are equal at Turanga.

But it has not been the fault of the party with which Sir W. Martin is identified that the influence of the Chiefs everywhere has not been much less than it is. In a letter addressed to the Governor by Archdeacon Hadfleld on the 15th April, 1856, he gives the Governor this advice:—

"There is however a certain kind of restlessness among some of the Chiefs and leading men, which has manifested itself within the last three or four years by efforts to get up meetings in various places; and I now understand that there is a secret intention of assembling, if possible, most of the leading Chiefs of the centre and southern parts of this island in the ensuing summer, for the purpose of raising the authority of the Chiefs…. It appears to be highly important, notwithstanding a very general opinion to the contrary, that the Government should do nothing towards establishing the influence of the Chiefs, but should rather endeavour to lessen this by every legitimute means, and especially by raising the position of inferior men through the equal action of law." (Parl. Pap. July I860, p.p. 233, 234.)