Memorandum By Mr. Clarke.
Having learnt from Mr. Gorst that we were not to attend the meeting at Peria unless especially invited, and having had no invitation, my visit to that place was a very hurried one; my object being to carry a letter to his Lordship the Bishop of New Zealand and one to William Thompson, with instructions to return as soon as possible. The following may be termed a journal of the events of the day.
Having received instructions from Mr. Gorst to proceed to Peria with letters to his Lordship the Bishop of New Zealand and Thompson, I left Otawhao late in the afternoon of Thursday, October 23rd, and arrived at Peria the following day. On my arrival I found the chiefs with four or five hundred natives assembled, discussing the subject of making roads through the district.
The Chief who was speaking on my arrival was Kereopa, from Rotorua. His principal remarks were confined to cutting roads, which he strongly objected to, using violent language of rather a threatening character, declaring that they should see him, wherever roads were being cut into the district; thereby intimating to oppose them.
He was followed by a number of other speakers, all upon the same subject, but most of them very temperate. The three violent chiefs were Hoera, from the East Cape; Kereopa, from Rotorua; and Tapihana, from the West Coast. This last chief is considered by the natives as a "porangi" (crack-brained); his speech was so violent that they asked the Bishop not to take it down. It was to the following effect:—That he would allow no Europeans to come into the district. He used to say very strong terms such as "he would cut off the legs of any European who dared to enter his territory." You will judge of the worth of these remarks when in all probability he has several Europeans resident in his district. But while so violent in reference to Europeans, I heard no remark about the Governor or Government.
I now proceed to give the almost unanimous feeling of the natives with respect to roads or any communication with Waikato by steam, as they had heard had been proposed by the Government.
Their objection and right of doing so are grounded upon the following reasons. Thompson said that as the Government had made laws to prevent the sale of ammunition to the Natives, so were they competent and justified in preventing roads being cut into the interior; that the forests and swamps were their protection. He concluded by saying that this should be their ture, (law) "Kati, kati katoa" (Let everything be closed); he then adjourned the meeting till next day.
I returned to Otawhao early next morning, but should have been glad to have remained in order to have heard the whole business of the meeting discussed. Although I saw but little of the meeting and heard but few of the speeches, it will doubtless be expected that I should offer a few remarks upon what I did see and hear, and what I consider to be the general feeling of these infatuated natives.
|1.||While the violent speeches of the few were generally disapproved of by the greater part of the Chiefs, there appeared a cool determination to oppose any approaches into the interior.|
|2.||They maintain the same dogged opposition to any measure or interference of the Government, as manifested on all former occasions.|
|3.||I heard that Rewi Maniapoto was going to propose that the mail between Auckland and Otawhao should be stopped, and that the Europeans should be sent out of the district. Whether he proposed it or not I cannot say.|
|4.||From hearsay I learn that they were not only disinclined to settle the Waitara question, but opposed its settlement by arbitration on any terms; except that it be given up unconditionally.|
There can be no doubt that much that was said by the visitors was to please William Thompson, and most that that chief said was to maintain (what I think) his dying influence with the people.
The fact is this: he has called into action a machinery he cannot control, and which will, if left alone, destroy itself.
|6.||It is impossible to judge from their speeches what the real state of feeling is, especially when there is little or no opposition; it is at the night runangas, when no European is present, that all the mischief is done.|
|7.||The attention paid me by Thompson on this and on all occasions was courteous and kind.|
The Hon. the Native Minister.