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England and the Maori Wars

Chapter 18 — End Of The Wars

page 393

Chapter 18
End Of The Wars

On March 18, 1872, Bowen reported that Wiremu Kingi, “the influential Maori chief and formidable warrior, known among the English as William King of Waitara (Te Rangitaki), with whom the war of 1860 originated, and who has during the last twelve years continued in active hostility or sullen disaffection, has voluntarily come, attended by his principal clansmen and followers, into the town of New Plymouth, made peace with the Government and renewed the friendly relations which he maintained of old with the settlers.” The event occurred on February 22, the twelfth anniversary of the proclamation of martial law in Taranaki. “The old chief held a sort of levée in a room of the Native office, the settlers who had known him years before being anxious for their children to see one who had been a staunch ally and a gallant enemy.”

W. Dealtry made this comment: “This is the most important news we have received from the colony for some time, and may be said to put at rest any further question of a serious outbreak in New Zealand…. If I recollect right, the War of 1860 began by William King refusing to allow a block of land at Waitara to be surveyed, and it was open, I think, to a question whether he had not right on his side.” Lord Kimberley wrote: “It is most satisfactory. Send this despatch of Sir G. Bowen privately to Lord Granville, who will be pleased to see the complete success of his policy.”1

On April 9 Bowen wrote from the “Lake of Taupo, the centre of the North Island and the heart of the native districts.” “Until the last few months,” he said, “the chiefs and clans of these central districts (with the single exception of the loyal chief, Poihipi Tukairangi and his followers) were devoted to the so-called Maori King, and were bitterly hostile to the sovereignty of the Queen and to the Colonial Government.

1 C.O. 209, 226.

page 394 In 1869 they joined Te Kooti, when there was much sharp fighting at Tokano and at other points around the lake, with the Colonial Forces, and with the loyal natives from Wanganui, led by the gallant Te Kepa (Major Kemp). The night before last I slept at Opepe, ten miles from my present quarters, where, in June 1869, a detachment of the Colonial Militia was surprised and cut to pieces by Te Kooti. To-morrow I propose to cross the lake to Tokano, the scene of the fiercely contested battle of October, 1869, but where our late enemies are now assembled to give me an enthusiastic greeting. In the speeches addressed to me this day by the Maori chiefs of Taupo, they assured me that they were entirely satisfied with the policy pursued towards them by myself and by the Colonial Government, and that they are now fully convinced that their true interest is to live in peace and friendship with the colonists. They are desirous to sell and lease large portions of their lands to the settlers whom they are inviting to live among them, so that they, like their countrymen at Hawke's Bay and elsewhere, may live in comfort on the rents and purchase money. They further expressed anxiety to have English schools established in their villages, so that their children may learn our language and enjoy the same advantages of education with the children of the Maoris resident in the settled districts.… Above all, perhaps, they are eager to be employed in working on the roads, which are gradually but surely creeping up from the coast into their mountain fastnesses, and which will ere long render future wars and rebellions impossible.”

R. G. W. Herbert's minute was: “This is certainly a most satisfactory account of the Maori chiefs. Sir G. Bowen has done well to make a royal progress through the country.”

In a further despatch of May 15, 1872, Bowen announced that the expedition through the centre of the island had been entirely successful and that he had reached Auckland on April 24 after what had been called “an important and memorable journey.” Dealtry's comment was: “Sir G. Bowen must have been in the neighbourhood of the country infested by Te Kooti to whom he would have been a rich prize.” Lord Kimberley, in a despatch of August 21, congratulated the Governor on the success of the expedition.

On May 16 Bowen reported the completion of telegraphic page 395 communication between Auckland and Wellington. Dealtry: “There has been a marvellous change in the state of New Zealand in the last four years.” Lord Kimberley: “Express much satisfaction.”

On June 8 Donald Maclean, Native and Defence Minister, wrote: “Te Kooti, who during his career has proved himself a formidable foe, is now a miserable fugitive, having cast himself for protection upon the King party, among which he is more like a prisoner, at large during quiet behaviour. Among the subjects for congratulation which are submitted to His Excellency not the least is the fact that all military operations in the field have come to an end, and that the colonial force is released from active service and engaged in the construction of public works.” Lord Kimberley wrote in the despatch containing the report: “Send this in a box to Lord Granville, and say in acknowledging that I have read Mr. Maclean's report with great pleasure.” (Lord Granville: “Many thanks.”)1

On September 7, 1872, Bowen stated that at a large meeting at Mataahu, near East Cape, a flagstaff had been erected and the Queen's Flag (the Union Jack) hoisted “in token of the permanent establishment of peace, and of the return of the entire population of the East Coast from rebellion to their allegiance to the Crown, and from the Hauhau fanaticism to Christianity.” On September 9 Bowen reported the carrying-out of the intention of the Maoris to remove into the consecrated burial ground of a new church they had built at the pa of Ohaewai the bodies of British soldiers who fell in the unsuccessful attack on the pa in Heke's War of 18452 and who were buried in the forest. Bowen questioned whether there was “a more touching episode in the annals of the warfare of even civilized nations in either ancient or modern times.”

Minutes on the despatch were:

Mr. Herbert: “This is one of the most remarkable instances which have yet been mentioned of the good feeling of the natives.”

Mr. Holland: “Would it not be desirable to send the Queen a copy of the despatch and enclosure?”

Mr. Hugesson: “I think so. Very interesting and touching.”

Lord Kimberley: “Yes.”

1 C.O. 209, 226.

2 See England and New Zealand, pp. 182–91.