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

Governor's Surly Reception at Poverty Bay

Governor's Surly Reception at Poverty Bay

Governor Gore Browne paid a visit to Poverty Bay on 11 January, 1860. At the courthouse at Makaraka, Captain Harris read a respectful address of welcome on behalf of the European residents. No formal address was presented on behalf of the natives, but several of them made speeches. Lazarus greatly annoyed His Excellency by telling him bluntly that the natives of Poverty Bay did not recognise Queen Victoria's claim to rule over them; that the Queen's flag should not have been hoisted on the magistrate's courthouse; and that the lands which had been obtained from the natives should be returned to them.

In a dispatch to the Duke of Newcastle, the Governor complained that the natives were lacking in courtesy to him. They had, he said, told him that previous Governors had been afraid to visit them, and they had inquired why he should have done so. “Unless you have come to restore the lands which the Europeans cheated us out of,” they had added, “you may return whence you came and take your English magistrate with you.” His Excellency also told the Duke that he had under consideration the matter of withdrawing Mr. Wardell. The Southern Cross (28/1/1860) described the natives of Poverty Bay as “surly and disaffected to the last degree.”

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According to Mr. Wardell, when the Waitara difficulty resulted in war in March, 1860, Wiremu Kingi (of Taranaki) appealed to the East Coast tribes for help, but, although they keenly supported his cause, they declined to send contingents on the ground that their fighting men were required to remain at home to protect their own lands. Towards the end of 1860 a delegation from Hawke's Bay ineffectually tried to persuade them to send aid to Kingi. The Poverty Bay tribes also declined to give a pledge that they would help the Hawke's Bay natives in the event of war arising over their land sales repudiation policy, holding that it was unreasonable for them to expect aid from tribes which had acted with greater vision. Soon afterwards Kingites in the Wairoa district began to interfere with European travellers. Some were forbidden to travel on Sundays; others were required to pay for the grass eaten by their horses; and, at Te Reinga, one man was fined for trespassing on the “King's highway.”