The Taranaki Question
“In the first instance, the Taranaki Tribe state that the Government has no just grounds for interfering at all in the Puke-tapu* quarrels, nor for taking any steps whatever against either or both of the two Chiefs Katatore and Wiremu Kingi, as regards their life, liberty, estate, or right, &c., &c.
“In support of this argument, they give the following reason: First, because the dispute and disturbances have originated within and among that tribe, and always been kept confined to the Maori themselves, without interfering at all with the Pakeha and their rights and properties. Secondly, because tho’ Rawiri Waiaua was an officer of the British Govern- page 132 ment, that still for all that he was a Maori and a member of his own tribe, and that his position in the service of Government did not entitle him to alienate, at his own pleasure, lands which, tho’ owned by himself, still were in some degree property of the tribe, and could therefore only be disposed of by common consent of the latter.
“Thirdly, because Katatore can no longer be proceeded against or punished for having killed Rawiri, as not only he has been left so long a time to be his own and at liberty, but he has also made payment, according to the Government demand, for Rawiri's death, by having given up to the Queen the land on which Rawiri died.
“Fourthly, as to Wiremu Kingi, because he can be accused of no crime; he is on his own land, being the real and true Chief of Waitara.
“In the second instance, they, the Taranaki tribe, express their desire for the continued maintenance of peace between the Europeans and the Aborigines; however, they add at the same time, in a decided tone, that, according to the views the Natives take of Government interference, peace will at once be interrupted so soon as an interference on the part of the military be attempted.
“In reference to these two last named points, these Taranaki Natives declare that the sentiments and proposals, as contained in Col. Wynyard's letters, have their entire approbation, in as far as it is their own page 133 (Taranaki) wish that the Puke-tapu should be left to themselves with their own quarrels, and that the military should simply remain what those letters stated they had been sent to be, a protective force for the safety of the European settlement: as long as this policy shall be adhered to, say they, mutual peace and good-will will be upheld and continued between themselves (Taranaki) and the settlers and soldiers. But if the new Governor should set Col. Wynyard's words and plans aside, and, contrary to it, adopt any hostile or coercive steps against either one or both of the two Chiefs, Katatore or Wiremu Kingi, as seemed to be had in contemplation by some Pakeha here, then the first step of such a kind on the part of the Government, would most certainly, on the part of the Natives, be viewed and received as being the signal and commencement of a general war and life and death struggle between the Pakeha and the Maori: because under present circumstances, and as matters were standing at present, any such step against either Katatore or Wiremu Kingi or both, would be generally viewed by the Aborigines as a pokanoa (aggression) on the part of the soldiers upon the Maori race, and as a first step in a general and grand expropriation movement on the part of the Government (Pakeha) to dispossess the Natives by physical force of their inherited soil; which if once permitted by the latter to be successfully entered upon by the former (Pakeha) would most certainly be proceeded with, and be carried page 134 out thro the whole length and breadth of the Island, until every inch of land would have passed away from the Native owners into the hands of the Europeans, and the Aboriginal inhabitants of the country themselves would have been totally exterminated.
“For the simple reason alone of preventing such a dread calamity (these Taranaki say) they feel themselves under the necessity of protecting both Katatore and Wiremu Kingi against being in any way touched or proceeded against by the Pakeha and the military. Hence, they declare, as soon as ever any attempt shall be made by the latter to get any of those two Chiefs into their power, all Taranaki and Ngati ruanui, as far as Whanganui will rise instantly to a man in arms and hasten to Katatore's and Wiremu Kingi's rescue and support, and they will not relinquish the struggle until they shall either have conquered or have lost their last man in the attempt; because (say they) it is not only for those two individuals the war will be waged, but it will be for the principle which the Natives recognize as bound up in those two men, as soon as they are placed between the two different races, the Pakeha and the Aborigines. If (they urge) Hone Heke had fallen into the hands of the Europeans, all the Nga puhi lands would have been taken too in consequence, and all that tribe would have been gradually exterminated; and again, if Te Rangi haeata had fallen into the hands of the Pakeha, all the lands in the South would have page 135 been taken too as conquest, and all the Maori there would have been cut off after him.
“The escape of the two last named Chiefs from falling into the hands of the English, had saved both them and their people, their existence and possessions; so it would be here. If Katatore or W. Kingi or both, should be taken by the Pakeha, all the Maori along this coast, including Taranaki, Ngati ruanui, &c., would next be subjugated and cut off by the soldiers, and their lands be taken away as a possession by the Europeans. In the present case (they say) it is even more clearly to be foreseen, than in the case of Hone Heke and Te Rangi haeata, that such would be the result, in as far as here the Pakeha have no just cause to go to fight about with the Maori, and can therefore, if still they do so, have no other object for so doing than to make themselves master of both the Maori and their lands. Whereas in Hone Heke and Te Rangi haeata's case they had the advantage of being able to show that those parties had been the aggressors; owing to which also Te Rauparaha's capture and detention by the British authorities, had created but little excitement among the Natives generally. Here neither W. Kingi nor Katatore had interfered with the Pakeha or their lands, &c; nay, the latter and his party had even given up to the Queen the lands asked of him by the Governor as utu for Rawiri's death. Hence there was no sufficient reason left why the Pakeha should at all interfere with the Maori and their quarrel.page 136
“Thus fully the whole case has repeatedly been argued before me, during the last fortnight, by the Natives in the Taranaki District, and there can be no doubt that they are in earnest about it. The most sober and quietly disposed amongst them declare, in a manner not to be mistaken, that they will rise because they feel convinced (mohio rawa) that it will be necessary for the defence and preservation of their life, liberty, and possessions, against a system of violence and oppression threatening them and theirs.”
* See above, pages 107–110.