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The New Zealand Evangelist

The Trial And Execution Of Maroro The Murderer

The Trial And Execution Of Maroro The Murderer.

The trial of this unhappy man took place on the 13th and 14th ult., before his Honor Judge Chapman. The evidence was wholly circumstantial, and consisted chiefly of the following facts:—Maroro was seen asking the way to Branks’ house on the day before the murder—on the morning of the murder, at or before the time it was discovered, Maroro told a native in Wellington that a white man and three children were murdered on the Porirua-road —Maroro had in his possession the watch and other property belonging to Branks—and his own clothes were stained with blood. The Jury returned a verdict of guilty, and he was sentenced to death; he was executed on the morning of the 17th, in front of the Gaol. The natives attended the execution in great numbers; they all appeared to concur heartily in the punishment, and to feel that a serious aspersion had been wiped away from their character,

After his sentence he fully confessed his guilt—said that he had no accomplices—that he had no previous ill-will to Branks, but was actuated by a desire to revenge his four months imprisonment, and to obtain the watch and other property. If this confession, as to the motives, be true—although, from the way in which the prisoner all along falsified and prevaricated, we frankly confess we have little faith in his statements—it originates a grave question for the Government. How are natives to be dealt with after being released from imprisonment? If every, or any native, be disposed to carry out the old native practice of exacting utu or payment from any one in the tribe which they suppose has injured them, no white man's life is safe. It will always be the worst class of natives, generally the most ignorant, and those most attached to their old vindictive customs, that will be exposed to the punishment of imprisonment, and consequently the most dangerous when again released. There is certainly a peculiarity in the case, requiring page 263 the special attention of the authorities. Might it not be safe to require the chiefs of the tribe to which any prisoner may belong, to become sureties for his future good behaviour? No prudent precautions ought to be omitted. We are, however, no alarmists; we have had ample opportunities of observing the marked and steady improvement in religion and civilization that is going on among the natives, and their friendly feeling towards the colonists. The quarterly returns show the very small proportion of native prisoners—often none at all. We have the utmost confidence in the divine protection—“He that keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth.” “All things work together for good to them that love God.” If we are found in the path of duty, if we are found in Christ, no real evil can overtake us; even death, in its most revolting aspect, will be only the messenger of peace to call us home to heaven. We have great confidence in the moral effect upon the natives of the just administration of the laws; and the kind, friendly, and conciliating spirit that has been uniformly displayed toward them by the settlers. Strict justice, mingled with kindness, will command the confidence and respect of savage as well as civilized men. Our earnest prayer is, that this fearful example of extreme justice may be rendered effectual by God, for striking terror into the heart of every vindictive man, whether native or European—that God may effectually restrain the wicked passions of the ungodly—and that every one may learn to repress the first motions of vindictive feeling; for “when evil desire hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”