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



Hawthorne (A Dark Chapter from New Zealand's History: 1869) says that Poverty Bay's earliest settlers found the natives good neighbours. Their morality was then of a high standard. “When the influence of the chiefs declined,” he adds, “another species of domination arose under which the Maoris (probably the most acute people in the world where their temporal interests are concerned) learned to prefer their rights before their duties.”

The copies of the Maori king's laws which were circulated on the East Coast in 1862 stated inter alia: “If a man sells a piece of land, he shall be scourged”; “If a Queen's summons shall be received by a subject of the king, it shall be destroyed by fire”; “If a subject of the king shall steal goods belonging to a pakeha, it shall be for the king to judge him”; “Concerning leases of land: these are not good”; “Should sheep come to any place, they shall be killed.”

The Rev. T. S. Grace's reports to the Church Missionary Society (London) are reprinted in A Pioneer Missionary Among the Maoris. It appears that, upon his arrival in Poverty Bay, he was informed by the chiefs that Archdeacon W. Williams had “made the land tapu (holy).” Mr. Grace told the chiefs that he was of Mr. Williams's opinion.