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Renata's Speech and Letter to the Superintendent of Hawke's Bay on the Taranaki War Question; in the original Maori, with an English translation.


page 10S


Heretaunga, Ahuriri,
From the Pa Whakairo,
November 7th, 1860.

This is the day on which assembled the great meeting between Ngatikahungunu and the settlers of Ahuriri. Renata Tamakihikurangi was the mouthpiece of the runangas (or Native Councils) of the Pa Whakairo, of Tanenuiarangi, Waipureku, of te Timu, of Pakohai, of the Pakipaki, of Potako, of te Hauke, of te Aute, of Waipaoa, of the Waipukurau, of Eparaima, of Porangahau, of Tautane, of the Takapau, of Tikokino,—he expressed their sentiments to the Pakehas.

The cause of this meeting is our grief at the war now going on at Taranaki between the Governor and Wiremu Kingi. We addressed you on a former occasion at this place some months ago, and we then gave it as our opinion that the Governor was in the wrong. We thought that he would probably listen to the protests of this people, the Maoris, and of some also amongst you Pakehas; instead of which he still continues to lengthen out the war between himself and Wiremu Kingi. Ile continues to collect troops from all directions, even from England, te exterminate those tribes of ours (ena iwi o matou), for which reason we are thinking of going to Taranaki. Amongst you Pakehas, one is a Bishop, another a Minister, another a Governor, another a Soldier, another a Settler. But we have all but the one name "Maori," whether for building houses; for cultivating food; for making canees; or, as now, for fighting, since you have commenced it. We call ourselves the Church of God (i.e. Christians); and the scripture says "If one part feels pain, all parts suffer." The Church is a name for all; therefore I say let me also go there (to Taranaki) to my countrymen who are being fed by you with bard food (a). But I would rather that you should agree to a different mode of disputing—let us, at Taranaki, debate upon and investigate the quarrel between the Governor and Wiremu Kingi; that will be the best plan. Then if it turn out that Wiremu Kingi is in the wrong, let us all, white men and Maoris, join in obliging him to lay aside his present course of action: and if it appear that Te Teira is in the wrong, let the Governor put a stop to his urging on the war. We have been trying to find out wherein lies the superiority of your great nation, which has caused your name to go forth as a nation acting on principles of justice, and settling all disputes by legal tribunals (he iwi ata whakahaere i nga tikanga, he iwi whakawa mariri). We were taught by former Governors that it was wrong to fight, but that everything should be settled by investigation. But when it came to the present Governor, investigation was laid aside, and hard food was thrown to us. For instance, disputes about small affairs, as a basket of potatoes, a bushel of wheat, or a pig, are settled by the Courts: but the weightier matters—land and human life—are not investigated. Then we thought upon what his (the Governor's) newspaper had told us—that he was a protecting father and the page 11SQueen a protecting mother to us. But when we look for the result, behold guns, powder, and balt are the food with which our father and mother are feeding those children of theirs; and ships are coming here with similar cargoes. Under these circumstances, Mr. Fitzerald, I shall go to Taranaki to assist (lit. sympathise with—tangi) my people who are being fed with hard food; for I am like the callow nestling of the koko (or tui) whose mother has gone to gather food, and when she returns the mouths of her offspring are opened wide to receive their nourishment. Now, my duty to that mother of mine is ended, unless she will look upon the fault of this Governor who feeds us with guns, powder, and ball, and recall him, and give me a Governor who will feed me with digestible food, with Councils, with Courts of Justice, with love, and with good deeds.

My (the Maori) King proposed at first to the Governor that an investigation should take place into the dispute between him and Wiremu Kingi; that they (the Governor and Potatau) should meet at Waiuku, and there discuss the matter, and have it settled according to law. Instead of this the Governor went on to Taranaki, and opened fire upon Wiremu Kingi; from which we can clearly see that the Governor was in the wrong, because there was no investigation (i.e., because he would not wait for an investigation.) Then it was arranged that the Maori should investigate it; Waikato went to look into the cause of that quarrel, and it was decided that if it should turn out that Wiremu Kingi was wrong, he should be made to give up the land; but if it should turn out that the Governor was wrong, Wiremu Kingi should be supported (me tangi ano a Wiremu Kingi.) When Waikato arrived it was found that the Governor was in fault, on which account that tribe is now fighting at Taranaki.

However, it was not necessary to go so far to see the fault of the Governor. I have seen it here, at Hawke's Bay, in the purchases of his servants. The former mode of buying land was that all the people should assemble—the chiefs and commoners, the old men and women, the women and children—in his (the Commissioner's) presence, that the transfer of the land to the Queen should be right. The beginning was the Waipukurau, that was conducted exactly in this way; afterwards Ahuriri, precisely the same: these were the lands that were fairly transferred to the Queen (i marama te rironga ki a te Kuini), and we imagined that practice would continue to be acted upon; but afterwards it went wrong, and this was the cause—the sale by single individuals. There was the Matau o Maui (Cape Kidnapper Block); there was Aorangi; there was Okawa; there was Turiotekanawa; there was the Umuopua; there was Tautane; there was Aropaoanui; you are to have these lands; but through the faulty purchasing of your servants we fought amongst ourselves; and afterwards those lands were agreed to be given up to you in perpetuity, as a token of our regard for the Governor, whilst we said at the same time, "Put a stop to this purchasing from individuals"—to which the Land Purchasing Officers assented. A very short time afterwards the purchasers of the Governor went on again buying land secretly; and then we made up our minds that the Governor wished to provoke a quarrel with us, that he might have a pretext for seizing our lands. For instance, there are Omarutairi, Ngapaeruru, and Parangahau; these lands are lying by in consequence of the fault of the sale by individuals (ko nga whenua tenei e takoto ana i runga i te he o te hoko a te tangata kotahi), and the wishes of the majority being disregarded by the page 12SGovernor's servants. These lands are still lying by, and we nearly had a quarrel with you about the aforenamed places. Henceforward, angry feeling, however small may be the source from which it arises, will go on increasing by degrees until it breaks forth, and as for its explosion!—there it is being fought out at Taranaki (akenei nawai i iti te whakatakariri a, me te whanake, me te whanake, totahi ka pakaru ki waho, na, te puehutanga atu! koia tera e riri mai ra i Taranaki)—(b). Therefore we have arrived at the conclusion that it is the Governor who is in fault.

Perhaps y ou will say by and bye that the Natives of this island desire to quarrel with the settlers. No, had we wished for a row, we should have joined in the attempt of Wanganui to kill the Pakeha, and in that of Tipa at Whaingaroa; this was prevented by me, by the runangas of the King, who openly find fault with you to your face. I will not listen to things said to screen the Governor; but if you will agree to our proposal, and let us all go to Taranaki and there make enquiry into this evil, my ears will listen to that. Cannot you see how justly your enemies have been acting, whilst you still persist in the war? I will not act like the lickplate (miti pereti) assemblage of the Governor's. I say my say straightforward; but that meeting has done wrong. My weapon (holding up a patu paraoa, or bone weapon) is from Ngatiraukawa to destroy Wellington, but I prevented it (c). The intention in sending this patu was, that if, on the King's flag being hoisted, the adherents of the Government and the soldiers made an attack upon the King's people to kill them and take the flag (then a simultaneous rising should take place). Wanganui also has gone wrong—and this was the way of it. A certain man living there took the fencing of some graves, and made a fire of the stakes to heat an oven, and he called the food cooked in this oven by the names of the King and his advisers, Porokoru, Tamihana, Te Wetini, Epiha, Rewi, and of all the Chiefs of Waikato, in order that they might take such offence at it as would induce them to kill the Pakehas of Wanganui. This is the fault of those men who went to the Governor's meeting. That man said (the name of that young fellow was Te Mutumutu) "Finished, finished, finished, for ever." The name of another was Pakau, "Blocked, blocked, blocked, for ever, (pa, pa, pa tonu atu)—(d). The King prevented the consequences of this act, he and all of us his runangas. There was another man named Tipa, who shaved all the hair off his head and off his dogskin mat, with the intent that when the people of his tribe saw what he had done they should kill the Pakehas of Whaingaroa. The King prevented this, and we also, your opponents who meet you openly face to face. Then there is also a part—the major part—of the Ngatiraukawa tribe, which also finds fault with you openly before your face; just as I, who am speaking at large to you now; but you turn round and rebuke those who speak openly to your face, and you turn aside and put faith in the flattering speeches of the meeting whom you invited up there (to Auckland) to tell you lies.

Now, I shall not unwarrantably interfere (po kanoa). What I tell you has been determined on by the King, viz., that all the towns are to be as Parininihi (e), and the fighting is to be at Taranaki only, at the place on which the Governor's sword has fallen. But if the Governor should climb up one of these Parininihis, there will be a row —it will be the same as Taranaki. There is another fault of the Governor; his writing in his newspapers to all the Chiefs of this Island to go in a body to Taranaki, that the murderers may be executed, not reflecting that he had implicated himself in murder, in asmuch page 13Sas he has made an intimate friend of Kirikumara (f). It is said that Katatore committed a murder; but Katatore's was not a murder, it was done openly. For Katatore said his land should not be sold to the Pakeha, and Rawiri persisted in selling it. Katatore said both to the Pakehas and to Rawiri, "Let my land alone," but he still persisted in selling it to the Pakeha. Then Katatore said to Rawiri, "Very well, since you persist, there is a gun, let us fight for It;" but Rawiri went on cutting the boundary of Katatore's land, and when he would not listen, then the gun was fired; it was not aimed at the man, it was fired in the air and into the ground, with the idea that by frightening them (the sellers) they would stop, but they still persevered, and then Rawiri was fired upon and was killed.

This was not a murder but was openly done. But that of Ihaia's was a murder, although it has been called an avenging of death (he nga ki mate); this was a nga ki mate, the course taken by Arama Karaka, who openly in broad day avenged the death of Rawiri Waiaua. They fought in open day, and at length they made a lasting peace: but this which is called an avenging by Ihaia of Rawiri's death, is but a murder of Ihaia's and the Governor's—a murder of the worst description.

I have also a word to say about Teira; he is said to be a chief, but he is a common man. For I have seen this man, and he is but a man of small standing (low position); William King alone is their great man, known as such by all tribes. His father's name was Reretawhangawhanga, from whom descended Te Rangitake. The name of a chief is always raised to the sky (g). (Wha kapiki tonu te ingoa ki runga te rangi, to te tino tangat a tona ingou.) For instance mine is Tamakihikurangi, but Te Teira's name is Manuka, nothing but manuka (a kind of scrubby bush). There never was a piece of land hereabouts sold by a common man to the Pakeha; they were all sold by the Chiefs—the tribe consented and the land passed to the Pakeha. Te Moananui, Tareha, Te Hapuku, Puhara, Tawhara, Hineipaketia, Hineirangiia, and various other Chiefs, sold our lands to the Queen.

This is another subject—the interdiction placed by the Governor on guns and powder for us to shoot birds with. This is not a good plan; for my custom with regard to my enemy is, if he have not a weapon I give him one, that we may fight upon equal terms. Now, are you not ashamed of my defenceless hands? Do you put aside your guns, powder, and ball, and let us fight with our hands; and if you don't like this plan, put a stop te the war—put a stop to it once and for ever. Rather let us go back to the Court house for a battle ground, for what is the use of killing men in a bad cause?— no good can come of that. If war is persisted in, we shall all go to the bad; it cannot be right, because you wish to exterminate the Maoris; it cannot be right, because you, the Pakeha nation, are boasting yourselves against us, saying that we are a bad nation, a dark people, but that you are a nation of chiefs. True, you, the Pakeha, are a nation of chiefs, and we, the Maori, are an inferior race; that is quite, true. But leave the consideration of these points to the God who made us both. God made you to be a good and handsome race; and God also made us to be bad and dark; but it is not tight that you should taunt us with that. Great numbers of the Pakeha boast themselves in this fashion, but the decision in this matter is in the hands of the Almighty.

If you persist in fighting, it is well—the result is in the hands of God both as regards you and us. This is our wish, that we should all join together in putting down this evil that it may come to an end.

That is all: it ends here.

page 14S


  • (a) The meaning of this is that the introduction of Christianity has united the Natives into one people, and dispelled the tribal jealousies—that as the member of this body (the Maori nation) at Taranaki is feeling pain, the member (tribe) at Hawke's Bay feels it also; and the various tribes being now united, even as the Church is united, it becomes the duty of all members to assist one in distress.
  • (b) This is a difficult sentence to render intelligibly into English. The speaker means that this ground of complaint has lasted so long, and caused so much aggravation, that the next case that occurs, however small its origin, will create an explosion at Hawke's Bay similar to that at Taranaki.
  • (c) This alludes to a patu paraoa sent over from Ngatiraukawa, to be accepted by Ngatikahungunu as a token of their assent to fall simultaneously upon Wellington and Napier; but the latter tribe refused to concur, and the project fell to the ground. The patu held by the speaker in his hand while speaking was the one sent over, which was to be returned by the messenger (then present) who had brought it.
  • (d) It is not easy to convey an intelligible interpretation of this passage.
  • (e) Parininihi is a lofty and inaccessible white cliff on the coast between Mokau and Waitara. The meaning of the passage is that an edict has issued from the King calling all the European towns and settlements "Parininihi," in token that they are to be as safe from attack by the Natives in consequence of his order, as Parininihi is from being scaled by a man, from natural causes, unless offence should be given by the Government, at one of these places, when the King's protection is to be withdrawn.
  • (f) Ihaia Te Kirikumara, of Waitara, the man who planned and arranged Katatore's murder, which was executed by Ihaia's brother, Tamati Tiraurau.
  • (g) Rangi, in Maori, signifies the sky, and this word generally forms a part of the name of a Maori Chief, as Te Rangitake, Te Rangihaeata, Te Pakaru o te Rangi, Te Rangihirawea, &c., &c. It is given in compliment to a Chief, and a common man is not allowed to use this name: "E Rangi" is a term of address to a young chief, frequently used instead of "E hoa, E hika," &c.