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

A Round of Calls

A Round of Calls

A visit was then paid by Mr. McLean to the mission station at Whakato, where, in the absence of the Rev. T. S. Grace in Auckland, he was very warmly received by Mrs. Grace. She told him that she had set aside a bedroom for him and that she would be delighted if he would stop there. This kind offer he declined. [It is not improbable that he and his party had established a camp.] Mrs. Grace mentioned that the settlers had accused Mr. Grace of having interfered in matters of trade with the natives and of having incited the natives to demand higher charges for the right to graze cattle and horses upon their lands, thus causing great confusion and discontent. Winding up his account of the interview, Mr. McLean wrote: “Mrs. Grace is a remarkably nice person, and is learning the native language rapidly.”

page 179

As Te Kani-a-Takirau (the great East Coast chief) had sent word that he would come down from Tolaga Bay in a few days, Mr. McLean spent the interval moving about among the settlers. He went across to Makaraka to see “Yankee” Smith, the leading trader. “Smith,” he says, “received me kindly, and had some food prepared. He introduced me to a good-looking young wife—in appearance something like Lady Grey [the wife of Sir G. Grey]—whom he had brought from England.” In the evening he dined at Opou with Captain Harris, “who,” he noted, “has a nice garden and a tolerable house, has been twenty years in the country, knows a good deal about the natives, and is communicative.” At Harris's home he met Captain William Stewart (after whom Stewart Island was named), who was then in very frail health.

Next day Mr. McLean breakfasted with James Henry King, “who has his own cottage and a nice garden.” He then went on to see George Rich, concerning whose household he wrote: “They seem agreeable people.” Sunday was spent at the mission station, which he describes as “a comfortable place, with a good garden.” It was on the following day, after he had had lunch with James Dunlop, that he made the acquaintance of Te Kani-a-Takirau, who had been accompanied from Tolaga Bay by W. B. Baker, a son of the pioneer missionary there.

At Mr. McLean's request the leading chiefs were invited to meet to express their feelings on the question as to whether a township should be established in Poverty Bay. The proposition was opposed by Tahae (who claimed to be the owner of the entrance to the Turanganui River), and also by Rawiri te Eke and Lazarus. On the other hand, it found favour with E'Waaka, Hori Tiroa and Paratene Turangi, and also with a great majority of the young people. Mr. McLean considered that, on this occasion, Lazarus had spoken more fairly, but evasively. He described him as having “a bad countenance.” The impression he gained was that those who were opposed to the establishment of a township feared that they might be put in gaol for theft!

As the chiefs were so divided, Mr. McLean informed Te Kani that there was no urgency in connection with the purchase of land for a township. Te Kani told those present that the natives of Poverty Bay were not yet sufficiently honest to have Europeans among them. Nor were their chiefs decided, prepared or unanimous on the subject of a township. He reminded them that the whole of the island was now in the name of the Europeans. On account of their thoughts being insufficiently mature, he would request Mr. McLean to leave them for a day or so.

page 180

Mr. McLean then paid another round of visits among the settlers. After dining at the mission station, he went out with Mr. Rich to see the country from a hill above the plain “that commanded a good view of 50,000 acres of fertile, flat land.” He had tea at Mr. Rich's home, and a dance followed. It seemed to him that his host was well acquainted with the district, and that he was well informed on farming matters. Concerning Mr. Dunlop, he noted in his journal that he was a nephew of Tennent, the great dry salter of Glasgow; that he was a sensible, well-read man, who had spent some years at a German university and had travelled a good deal; and that his ideas as to how the natives should be treated were very good and indicated a superior intellect.