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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Obscure Trader at Mahia

page 97

Obscure Trader at Mahia

The pioneer trader at Mahia cannot now be identified, but it is certain that he was not Harris. Polack (who was there in 1835 and 1836) says (New Zealand: Travels and Adventures, Vol. 1, p. 315) that he was a shipmaster; that he introduced a horse for his own use; and that, when he quitted the country, the natives, who had become very much attached to the animal, would not allow him to take it away. He adds: “… and it yet remains with Apatu” [a chief, who died in 1853]. The work mentioned was published in 1838, and the date of this pakeha's sojourn was then placed at “some years back.”

There are some vague references to this trader in the report of the Hereheretau No. 2 block case (Wairoa Native Land Court minute book, No. 3), which was heard at Wairoa in 1888. His name is given as “Henare,” or “Hare,” and it is stated that he put into Waikokopu in a vessel named “Pane te Rahi” (“Fanny,” large). Two chiefs, Waaka Torowhiti and Kowhai, made a trip with him to Sydney. When Rangiowaho, of Ngaitahaupo tribe, died, Te Wananga (11/1/1875) said: “It was his ancestor, the Kowhai, who put the pakeha at Kaiuku (Mahia) who was called ‘Hare’ (Harry).”

According to the witnesses, “Hare's “first visit took place about the time at which Te Wera, the Ngapuhi warrior, and some of his followers settled, by invitation, at Mahia (1824 or 1825). “Hare” was the first pakeha to sell guns there. Henare Mihingaere was under the impression that “Hare” lived at Nuhaka. The fact that this trader had a horse is especially interesting: it must have been the first to be landed on the East Coast. “Hare's” sojourn at Mahia might not have been as early as 1825, but, apparently, it was not long afterwards.

Lambert (Story of Old Wairoa) was mistaken in suggesting that “Hare” was Captain Harris. He says (page 355): “Harris used to visit Te Mahia until the arrival of a man named Barnet Burns (1829).” It is, however, beyond question that Harris and Burns, together with Ralph, did not reach New Zealand until 1831. Polack, during his calls at Poverty Bay in 1835 and 1836, could not have failed to become acquainted with Harris, and, if he had been reputed to be the pioneer shore-trader at Mahia, he (Polack) would not have written that the trader whom he had in mind had quitted the country before the date of his own visits to Northern Hawke's Bay. In any case, if “Hare” was at Mahia as early as 1825, Harris was then too young (16 or 17 years old) to have had charge of a vessel trading out of Sydney.

page 98

The chief who became Harris's protector in Poverty Bay in 1831 was Toti, or Pototi, who, later, went by the name Paratene Turangi. [Writing to Mr. McLean in 1868, following upon the murder of Paratene at Oweta upon Te Kooti's instructions, Harris described him as “the most truthful and most reliable native that I have ever had any dealings with.” Lady Carroll was a granddaughter.] Harris junior says that the natives of Poverty Bay were enjoying a respite from the hostile attentions of their neighbours at the time of his father's arrival; but, as they had only a few firearms, they were uneasy lest further attacks might be made upon them. Their main occupation, apart from the rearing of pigs and the cultivation of potatoes, was dressing flax to enable them to barter for firearms. By 1832, when sections of the Whakatohea (of Opotiki) invaded Poverty Bay, the local tribes were fairly well off for arms, and, on account of the ease with which they overwhelmed these intruders at Kekeparaoa, no further raids occurred within their borders.