Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Pakeha-Maori Relations Deteriorate

Pakeha-Maori Relations Deteriorate

The relations between Europeans and natives deteriorated very appreciably during 1851. In order that they might obtain the full market price for their produce in Auckland, both the natives of Poverty Bay and those on the East Coast began to acquire fleets of small schooners and cutters so that they might transport it themselves. Thefts by natives became common, and the stripping of a pakeha's property not an infrequent occurrence. Writing to Mr. McLean, Captain Harris (24/3/1851) cites a dispute which was occasioning much difficulty. The natives claimed page 210 to have sold to Robert Espie 340 baskets of potatoes. Espie acknowledged the receipt of only 200 baskets, and counterclaimed for six umbrellas. Acting as arbitrators, Harris and Rich decided, and the natives agreed, that Espie's offer of 100 yards of calico should be accepted in full settlement. When the potatoes were sold the market price was 500 baskets for 100 yards of calico. The natives went back on the settlement. “I understand,” Harris added, “that Mr. Grace says that the payment offered is not nearly enough, and I cannot but think that it would be well if that gentleman would confine himself to his religious duties and not interfere in matters that have been quietly settled.

In a letter to Mr. McLean (12 June, 1851) Harris expressed regret that the excitement caused by Mr. Grace's action in advising the natives to make a charge of 5/- per year for grass consumed by each head of pakeha-owned stock had not subsided. Horses had been stolen from P. Simpson, J. H. King and R. Espie. He added: “Lazarus informs me that it has been mooted by Waaka Perohuka that the Europeans should be turned out of the district. Perohuka (he says) has plenty of ammunition and is inclined for a brush. Either the Government must obtain the land here or we must leave. Written agreements with the natives here are useless, except as binding the European. The principal parties to the outrages have been: Perohuka, Paiaio, Wiremu Kingi, Ruatapu, Piri Turuka and Manutai.”

On 10 September, 1851, Harris could only report that conditions had worsened:

“A runanga,” he wrote, “has determined upon charging vessels a fee for entering the river … They would not let the schooner Wellington have water at a lower rate than 2/6 per bucket … Kahutia told me that he intended to resume my Turanganui property as, he said, I had had it long enough … They have sent a letter to the Governor for advice on the following matters: (1) What they are to charge per ton for all vessels entering the rivers; (2) what they are to charge for water; (3) what prices they should obtain for wheat (they want 10/- per bushel) and for pork; and, lastly, whether they ought to turn all the Europeans away. Nevertheless, they say (kind creatures that they are!) that they should be sorry to have to drive us away.
“They also wish the Government to appoint some person to arrange all difficulties which may arise here. This would be a most excellent plan if they would abide by that party's decisions. Captain Cole gave Rawiri £5 for the right to repair the Queen in the Turanganui River, but the natives are demanding £400. In effect, they are doing all they can to annoy us. They talk of making us pay for our boats and canoes going up and down the rivers and for driving sledges across the country. I am happy to say that Lazarus is behaving very well, taking our part in all these affairs. Most sincerely do I trust His Excellency will purchase this district. I think a large portion of it will soon be offered.”
page 211

Many of the natives in Poverty Bay did not sow any wheat in 1851. Mr. Grace says that their inactivity was due, in large measure, to their inability to obtain ploughs. According to the traders, however, much of their previous season's crop still remained on their hands, as they had rejected the price offered for it.