History of New Zealand. Vol. II.
Chapter xii. — State of the Maoris
State of the Maoris.
The early history of New Zealand is a story of the relations between the Maoris and the English. They form the current which carried with it the hopes and the fears of the visitors, the suspicions and resentment of the tribes. A faithful narrative, in order to depict the fortunes of the colony, must busy itself mainly with the administration of native affairs. On the eve of the struggle—provoked so often and so long by the cupidity of a section of the English, and courted by the wilder and more savage among the Maoris—it is good to ascertain the relative forces which could be brought into the field. Though the Maoris were outnumbered by the invaders of their soil they claim first notice. In 1858 they were estimated at 56,049, of whom 31,667 were males and 24,303 were females. In the North Island there were nearly 30,000 males and nearly 23,000 females. The total Maori population in the Middle Island was 2283, in Stewart's Island and Ruapuke 200, at the Chatham Islands 510. In 1864 the number was known to be much diminished. Dr. Thomson, the historian of 1859, had after careful inquiry on the spot added his mournful testimony to the rapid decrease of the Maoris. Inattention to the sick; infanticide; sterility; new habits; new diseases; intermarriage with relations—were the causes he assigned. All but the first and second had fallen upon the race after their intercourse with the Europeans. Four thousand were victims to the outbreak of measles in the North Island in 1854. The musket was supposed to have destroyed 20,000 lives in tribal wars. After contact with Europeans a practice of steeping decaying grain, and making it apparently fit for food, was believed by many persons to have been fatal to thousands. Dr. Thomson page 149 attributed the decay of the race principally to marriage of blood-connections. Yet about a score of generations after colonizing the islands with 1000 souls, the Maoris had multiplied to more than 100,000, and it was after intrusion of foreigners that in twenty years they declined from that number to less than 60,000. Mr. Maning assigns a more potent cause for a decrease so sudden as to outrun all possible rate attainable by reason of intermarriage of blood-connections. He observed that a second plague followed the use of the musket, and swept away more victims than the first. The ancient weapons were powerless against the inmates of pahs built on precipitous hill-tops; and in selecting safe situations, the Maoris had chosen healthy ones. Day and night free air coursed over habitations placed beyond reach of exhalations from marshes. Troops of the dwellers therein descended to their cultivation fields, with club or spear in one hand, and an agricultural implement in the other. The women followed. In the evening the women led the way home, and the men kept that which was the post of danger in case of attack.
When the crops were growing the tribe or hapu would often wander to some fortified elevation near a river or sea, and obtain variety of food by fishing. Their growing crops were deemed safe even from enemies. When the musket became the principal weapon a change came over the scene. To avoid the toil and loss of time incurred in the long procession from hill-top to field, and the carrying of fuel, provisions and water, the Maoris, relying on their new weapon, transferred their “whares” or abodes from the airy eminence to the damp fields below. They built their oven-like houses in mere swamps, spongy even in summer-time. With rushes rotting underneath them; in low dens, heated like ovens at night and dripping with damp in the day, drinking noxious exhalations in unventilated artificial caves, they were cut off in thousands. They would take no advice. They could not see the devouring enemy, and would not believe Europeans who warned them.
1 ‘Old New Zealand.’
In June, 1861, after various minor discoveries, the first redundant gold-field had been found by one Gabriel Read at Tuapeka. The first escort from “Gabriel's Gulley,” as the thronging miners christened the place, took away 5056 ounces of gold. Not only from the Northern Island and other parts of New Zealand crowds rushed to the spot. The Australian colonies caught the infection; the restless element at the populous gold-fields in Victoria cast itself loose from a soil to which it had never intended to attach itself, and exhausted all available means of procuring conveyance to Otago. For a short time it seemed that the adventurers had been drawn thither by a will-o'-the-wisp. They were too numerous for the known gold-bearing situations. The weather was colder than any they had encountered in Australia. A panic disturbed them and they began to fly. The Superintendent of the province issued a proclamation in September, 1861, warning intending miners not to make matters worse by rash immigration. In midwinter (July) there had been a retreat so rapid that only 7000 persons were supposed to be left at the mines. More than 16,000 returned to Australia. At the end of that month two men produced, in Dunedin, 1047 ounces of gold, and offered to divulge the spot where they had found this treasure if the Government would guarantee them a reward of £2000 if within three months 16,000 ounces should be brought down by the page 152 escort. The bargain was made; and the Dunstan Gold Fields on the Clutha river were no sooner made known than the vagrant crowd returned. Before the end of the year 70,000 ounces of gold were obtained from the neighbourhood of the Clutha river. More fields were found at the valley of the Cardrona, and in the gorges of the Arrow river. At the Shotover river some miners were found at work by a Maori, Haeroa, and a half-caste, natives of the North Island. On the west bank of the river was a point which the miners yearned to examine; but they shrunk from the foaming torrent between. The Maoris plunged in and reached the coveted shore. A dog which attempted to follow them was swept to a rocky point below. One of them went to assist the dog, and observed gold in the crevices of the rocks. Before nightfall the two swimmers had scraped together 300 ounces of gold. The small province of Southland, under influences which had magnified Otago, increased its population from 1876 in 1861, to 8085 in 1864. In the Middle Island, which thus opened its maw to receive the coming thousands, there was no risk of Maori attacks. Never in that island, except at the Wairau in 1843, had there been collision between the two races; and the Maori champions then were Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, whose ordinary residences were in the North Island. The fertile plains of which the New Zealand Company had endeavoured to rob them with the policeman's staff was now the rich possession of a new province—Marlborough—carved in 1859 out of the original province of Nelson. The population of Marlborough had risen from 2299 in 1861, to 5519 in 1864. At Nelson, after the loss of Marlborough, the Europeans had increased from 9952 in 1861, to 11,910 in 1864. In Canterbury progress had been steady. The population had risen from 8967 in 1858, to 32,276 in 1864. At Wellington in the same period it had advanced from 11,753 to 14,987. Hawke's Bay in the same time had grown from 1514 to 3770. About 4000 Europeans were cooped up in Taranaki. Auckland, the capital, had steadily advanced. Though not so populous as the gold-producing Otago, its numbers had increased from 24,420 in 1861, to 42,132 in 1864. Everywhere except at Taranaki enclosures and agriculture had rapidly increased. The total of acres enclosed was 409,763 in page 153 1861, and in 1864 it was 1,072,383. Including sown grasses the acres under crop had been 226,219 in 1861; they were 382,655 in 1864. But all this progress availed the war-party nothing, so long as the Maori sat in his king's gate. Yet the decay of the Maoris might have satisfied their enemies. There were not 50,000 of them, while the Europeans were more than three times as many. But nearly all the Maoris were in the North Island, in which they formed nearly two-fifths of the whole population. Many tribes were friendly, but it was not known how many would join the standard of the Maori king. That there would be, as in fact there were, large numbers of the natives fighting on the side of the English might be hoped, but could not be predicted with certainty. The causes which had so rapidly created a numerical preponderance of Europeans in the islands involved momentous financial considerations. Armies must be paid for, and wages had risen. Any highly-paid occupation absorbs labour to itself, and employers in danger of being deserted have to compete in price with temptations offered elsewhere. This maxim, true everywhere, is strained to the extremest verge when the glittering bait of gold, for mere grubbing, is the distracting magnet. The greed of the gambler is associated with honourable toil, and the measure of wages is unsettled by the quality of hope. The man who of all men in New Zealand had the most subtle brain for comprehending problems in political economy at this time passed away. The mover of so many puppets in his prime, he had become, like Swift, capable only of wondering at his former achievements. Secluded in ill-health, Gibbon Wakefield, long absent from the scenes of his activity, died at Wellington in 1862.
The Ministry, in a careful document, laid before Sir George Grey at Taranaki, in May, 1863, had urged that the pay of the militia there (2s. 6d. a day with rations) was not too high, because “the ordinary wages of labour of the simplest kind, such as working on roads, was 8s. a day at that time at Nelson and Canterbury.” Under such circumstances the cost of an army was an apparition which might well disturb even a bold financier. Already two Waikato regiments had been raised in Australia. A third was in course of formation. Before the meeting of the Assembly the Ministers drew up a page 154 voluminous description of their plans (5th October, 1863). Roads were to be made. The road from Auckland to Taupo was to pass through the heart of Waikato. About 1000 miles of roadways were proposed. The war was to be the last. “No opportunity of renewing it with any chance of success must be left.” Twenty thousand men would be required. Half of them would be wanted “from Waikato Mouth and Raglan to Tauranga and Thames.” The rest were to be located in bands of 1000 or 2000 at Taranaki and elsewhere. Two thousand were to go to Wanganui, where Dr. Featherston had been adjured by the chiefs to let no soldiers appear. They were to be imported to work on the roads, but to be armed with Enfield rifles. They would cost the country about £1,500,000 if they worked for nine months in the year on the roads. They would cost somewhat less if paid as militia. The scheme, with sundry accompaniments, would cost about £4,000,000. The money ought not to be raised by immediate taxation. It must be borrowed. Confiscated lands would be sufficient security. It was an ancient Maori custom for a chief to gloat over conquest of lands. The Romans gave away territories beforehand.
That there was a treaty of Waitangi in existence was a parchment bug-bear. The recollection of it had faded. It was not wanted to interfere, like Banquo's ghost, with the feast. There were, in the Waikato and Thames district, 2,292,000 acres; at Taranaki, 500,000 acres, = 2,792,000 acres. Let them be seized. Let the natives, if any be left at Waikato after the war, have 500,000 acres of their own lands. One hundred thousand acres would suffice for the Taranaki Maoris. Military settlers would have 500,000 at Waikato, and 200,000 at Taranaki. There would remain 1,492,000 acres to be sold, and they would realize more than £2,000,000. Increasing revenue would yield profits in the long run, even without taking into account the influx of prosperity attendant on expenditure of so many millions sterling. They hoped for a guarantee from the Imperial Government for, at least, £3,800,000 out of the £4,000,000. “It may be objected that these plans are based solely on the idea of force; and it is true that physical power is the main element of the conception.” But the Ministry could only rear moral sway on a basis of physical power. “The axe and the fire are wanted,” page 155 they said, “before the plough and the seed-corn.” Mr. Domett signed the paper on behalf of his colleagues. It was laid on the table of the House. It must have intensified the hostility of the Maoris. It may have been one of the early causes of a general feeling which by degrees spread amongst Her Majesty's regular forces, that the war was sought, not as a necessary act of justice, but as a means of spoliation, and a stimulant of the expenditure which enriches traders. Debt never had horrors for the colonists. Under Mr. Stafford, in 1856 and 1860, the Assembly had raised £650,000; under Mr. Domett, in 1862, £500,000 more. The Provincial Governments had raised for various purposes no less than £2,454,239. Mr. Domett and his colleagues hoped, in 1863, to drown the new debt by spoliation; for they valued the land of which they intended to rob the Maoris at little less than the proposed loan. The Representatives lost no time in devoting themselves to the amendment of the Colonial Defence Force Act of 1862. They postponed their acceptance of responsibility for native affairs.
Several fresh members were added to the Council. Among them was Major G. S. Whitmore. When the Council met there was no representative of the Government in it. Mr. Swainson, the Attorney-General of former days, called attention to the fact by moving (22nd October), “That this Council do not proceed to any business of serious importance until there be a representative of the Government in the Council, and that it do now adjourn.” Subsequently, a member informed the Council that in consequence of pending changes in the Ministry, no representative of the Government had been appointed in the Council, but that, as soon as changes had been completed, no time would be lost in making an appointment. Mr. Swainson was not silenced by this promise. He gave notice of a motion, casting grave censure on the Government for neglecting to secure the presence of one of their number in the Council. On the 29th, the Council was informed that the Ministry had resigned. Mr. Swainson withdrew his motion; and on the 2nd November, Mr. Whitaker announced that Mr. Fox had formed a Ministry, of which Mr. Whitaker was Premier and Attorney-General, representing the Government in the Council. An old colleague of Mr.C. W. Richmond, and a traitor to the treaty of Waitangi, he had found page 156 convenient colleagues. Mr. Reader Wood as Treasurer, and Mr. Thomas Russell as Minister of Defence, retained their offices in the new Ministry, which was considered a war Ministry, and by its conduct justified the belief.
An Act was passed to enable Provincial Legislatures to pass laws authorizing the compulsory taking of land for works of a public nature. This was a repetition of the scheme arrested in 1862 by the warning of Mr. Fenton, the reference to England, and the exceptional prudence of the Duke of Newcastle. Mr. Whitaker called no special attention to it. It was to remove doubts which had been suggested. Mr. Cardwell saw the contemplated injustice, and declined to advise allowance of the Bill unless native lands were excepted from its operation.1 A Bill was passed by the Representatives to raise £3,000,000 sterling by loan, for the vigorous prosecution of the war. Mr. Fox took charge of the Colonial Defence Bill introduced by Mr. Domett, and on the 5th November carried the second reading of a Suppression of Rebellion Bill by the large majority of 26 against 10. Amongst the minority was the name of a new adventurer in New Zealand politics. Mr. Julius Vogel, having kept a small shop at a rural township in Australia, had taken flight with the migration to Otago. Having talent for intrigue, and sufficient literary ability for the local press, he obtained a position in the Provincial Government, and was elected to the Assembly for the district of Dunedin and suburbs north. Those who saw him enter the House would probably have repelled with scorn the idea that he would afterwards become their leader. Mr. Weld was not present at the commencement of the session, but took an early opportunity to protest against the Suppression of Rebellion Bill as “quite unnecessary and unconstitutional.” It was a singular spectacle. The admirer of Mr.C. W. Richmond, the supporter of the rape of the Waitara, was compelled to denounce the injustice and harshness of Mr. Fox, by whom that rape had been opposed. Mr. Whitaker shone with baleful but consistent lustre. In 1860, as in 1863, he was Minister, and urged on each occasion the measures which were alternately shrunk from by Mr. Fox and Air. Weld.
1 P. P. Despatch; 26th May, 1864. Vol xli. 1864.
The Suppression of Rebellion Bill might have seemed sufficient violation of justice for one session. The Governor in Council, with Whitaker and Fox, might issue orders for the arrest of all “suspected” persons, and try them by court-martial. Death or penal servitude gleamed ominously amid the words of the Act. Nothing done under it was to be questionable in the Supreme Court, and to prevent the law so dear to Englishmen from being recurred to by a Maori, it was to be sufficient for the Governor to declare that anything done had been done in accordance with the Orders made under the Act. The bulwark of the Habeas Corpus statute was destroyed by a clause declaring that a writ under it should be satisfactorily met by a return that the body sought was held under the local Act. Indemnity was given for all unlawful things already done, page 158 The reader who gasps for freedom is doubtfully consoled only by the clause which limited the duration of the disgraceful Act to the end of the next session of the Assembly. But something more than the taking of life has been shown to be at the bottom of Maori troubles. As at Taranaki, so at Waikato, Mr. Whitaker's mind was bent upon acquiring land. The land for which the settler lusted, the land to which the Maoris clung, was to be acquired, not by troublesome bargains, but by confiscation. For this purpose “The New Zealand Settlements Bill, 1863,” was introduced. Its preamble declared that, for prevention of rebellion, and to maintain “law and order throughout the colony,” settlers must be procured “able to protect themselves and preserve the peace of the country.” To obtain land for them the Governor in Council might declare any district in which “any native tribe, or section of a tribe (after 1st January, 1863), or any considerable number thereof, had been engaged in rebellion,” a district within the provisions of the Act. Within such district the Governor in Council might from time to time seize upon lands for settlement. Compensation might be awarded to owners, excepting such as had levied war after 1st January, 1863, or those who had comforted such warring owners, or “counselled, advised, induced, enticed, persuaded, or conspired with any person” to levy war, or who had been ‘concerned in any outrage against person or property,” or who, after proclamation in the Government Gazette, failed to surrender their arms. As suspected owners might be hanged under the Suppression of Rebellion Act, the compensation provided by the Settlements Act could be kept down to a low rate; but the astute Whitaker devised a mode of defeating the operation of the compensation clause. It was provided that no claim should be entertained unless preferred in writing to the Colonial Secretary within six months (if the claimant were residing in the colony) after proclamation of his land by the Governor under the Act. Under restrictions which all men knew to be destructive of the principle of compensation, the proud Maori might obtain such compensation as the robbers of his country might choose to award him through new Compensation Courts. The Governor in Council was to appoint the Judges of the Compensation Court, and in flagrant violation of principles which had become part of the life of Eng- page 159 land, it was enacted that he should also have power at any time to remove any Judge. Thus an upright Judge could be got rid of, if his decisions should thwart the wills of Whitaker and Fox.
The New Zealand Settlements Act was a fit complement to that for suppression of rebellion. Robbery was to be sanctioned by law. It devolved upon Mr. Whitaker to prepare an official defence of the prostitution of the power of a Government for the purpose of pillage. In a paper to be submitted to an English Secretary of State, he said, that as, for the most part, Maoris possessed “little personal property,” the “permanent loss of their lauded possessions” was that which they would feel the most. Of love of country his black-letter intelligence took no heed. Comment cannot heighten the criminality of his advice. The following sentences gibbet their writer: “It will be observed that the provisions of the Act may be made to include lands belonging to persons who have not justly forfeited their rights by rebellion. In order to carry out the scheme this is absolutely necessary.… The New Zealand native tenure of land is, for the most part, in fact with little or no exception, tribal; and if the principle were admitted that the loyalty or neutrality of a few individuals would preserve the lands of the tribe, the Act would, for the most part, be a dead letter, and that in districts in which it is most required, and in which its operation would be perfectly just.” He who runs may read in these words an absolute condemnation of that Act by which Colonel Browne, abetted by Whitaker and others, attempted to set aside in 1860, with a high hand, that tribal tenure of the existence of which Whitaker was aware, and which he was fain to plead as an excuse for wholesale robbery in 1863.
Sir George Grey did not reprobate his adviser's immorality. Professing his trust that he could infuse some spirit of equity into the administration of the Acts, he recommended their allowance. If the weak Duke of Newcastle had remained at the helm they might have been simply allowed. But the good Sir William Martin drew up a paper “on the proposal to take native lands under an Act of the Assembly,” and sent it to Mr. Fox, with a request that it might be transmitted to the Secretary of State. Mr. Fox complied, and sent his own comments. He was unshaken in his resolution to abandon the sentiments he had professed in 1860. If the North Island was to be held by page 160 the English, confiscation must take place. There was nothing unjust or “unusual in the history of national conflicts” in it, and it was “in conformity with the customs of the Maoris themselves.”… To allow “natives, rebel or others, to retain possession of immense tracts of land, that they neither use nor allow others to use, and which maintains them in a state of isolation from the European race and its progressive civilization,” was “most prejudicial to the natives,” and contributed “to the rapid decay and extinction of the race.” Sir George Grey, for reasons which he did not state, avoided comment on Mr. Fox's paper. He equivocally justified the invasion of the Waikato territory, which Sir W. Martin's paper seemed to condemn, but hinted that Sir W. Martin's views “would probably agree with” his own on the point. In recommending the Acts for allowance by Her Majesty, he declared his own belief that generosity in dealing with rebels had been more successful than severity in the past. It is but just to Mr. Sewell to record that, in a letter to Lord Lyttleton1 (December, 1863), he animadverted severely upon the Suppression of Rebellion and the Settlements Bills. The first purported to make that law which is in itself a “violation of all law.” The second had all the vices of the worst ex post, facto legislation, and was a breach of Imperial and moral obligations.
1 ‘The New Zealand Native Rebellion.’ Letter to Lord Lyttleton. Auckland: 1804. Printed for the Author.
The House read Mr. Fitzgerald's Waitara Inquiry Bill a second time on the day on which the Governor's message was received, and a third time on the following day. Mr. Fox, before the passing of the Bill, laid on the table the Governor's reply to the despatch of the Duke of Newcastle, which had furnished so rankling a subject for debate. Appended to the Governor's despatch was a memorandum, “which” (he had said) “if your Grace thinks fit to read, will, I am sure, satisfy you.” It was irrefragable, both as to the wrong-headed conclusions of Colonel Browne's advisers, and the equally perverse decisions of the Duke of Newcastle.
How prone the Representatives had been in 1860 as well as in 1863 to make assertions incapable of proof was now shown by Mr. Stafford's conduct. Unable to refute Sir George Grey he was obliged to move, and the House passed without a division, a resolution (11th December): “That this House did not, by its resolutions of the 25th November last, desire to express any opinion as to the accuracy or otherwise of the three statements page 163 specified in the enclosure to the Governor's message, inasmuch as those statements do not appear to affect the question of the justice of exerting military force against Te Rangitake and his allies; but this House does controvert the statements on the part of the natives as to the cause of the quarrel.” The field of argument which could not be maintained with the Governor was abandoned, and the challenge to the natives was not likely to be accepted when they were already engaged in the bloody arbitrament of war.
1 Concernment with the Waitara seemed to deprive public men of precaution in the floundering statements they made from time to time. McLean, who was Chief Commissioner of Land Purchase, was asked at the Bar (in August, 1860), “Has Te Rangitake ever made a claim of proprietary right?” and replied, “He has never made such a claim to my knowledge.” Mr. Bell, who prepared Governor Browne's voluminous despatch on the subject, included McLean's evidence in the despatch (4th December, 1860), which asserted that Te Rangitake had “failed then and failed ever since in establishing a proprietary right” on the block (which was purchased without any reservation of dwellings, &c., though such reservations were admitted by Bell himself to have been invariable previously). When Sir W. Martin's pamphlet exposed the fact that there were two pahs on the block, Dillon Bell assisted Mr. Richmond in drawing up ‘Notes’ in reply. They admitted the existence of the pahs, but denied Te Rangitake's proprietary or tribal title to his home, constructed (they said) by permission of others. In April, 1863, Bell joined in a ministerial statement that it was difficult to conceive that if the facts had come out clearly at the time of the sale “the practice of reservation universally followed… would not have been adhered to in this particular instance.” In December, 1863, Bell and McLean professed that in 1860 they believed the pahs had been respected.
One of Colonel Browne's advisers had in 1863 quitted the political arena. Mr.C. W. Richmond had become a Judge of the Supreme Court. But he was unable to keep aloof from the Waitara question in which he had such bad eminence. In October he asked his old colleague, Stafford, to make known to one or both Houses his willingness to submit to any further investigation. He wrote to Sir George Grey: “I have taken this step in consequence of certain statements in your Excellency's recently-published despatch announcing your determination to relinquish the position assumed by your Excellency's predecessor in reference to the Waitara purchase.” As to the new evidence elicited, and doubts whether Governor Browne knew the true facts of the case—whether indeed they had been concealed or kept back from him—Mr. Richmond said: “I see no reason to suppose that your Excellency's suspicions point particularly to myself… nevertheless I find that it has appeared to others as well as to myself that your Excellency's surmises may be deemed to point at or include myself, as I then held the position of Minister for Native Affairs.” Therefore he courted inquiry and volunteered explanation in the colony or to the Imperial Government. He was not accused. By coming forward at such a time he seemed to accuse himself. Prima est page 166 hœc ultio, quod, se judice, nemo nocens absolvitur.1 The Governor sent the letter to England, where its receipt was simply acknowledged. To prove that Governor Browne, or Mr.C. W. Richmond, or both, had been deceived, was of little use. The wrong they had done was past recall, and no one accused them of other than official wrong-doing. The historian must inculpate them with mingled regret for the culprits and for their countrymen, and pity for their fellow-creatures whom they wronged. Resolutions carried in the Legislative Council (4th December, 1863) were similar to the resolution of the Representatives, with the exception that the Council thought it “happily unnecessary further to discuss the Waitara question,” and did not speak of controverting the Governor's statements. When the Governor's last despatch on the subject was laid before the Council, an attempt was made by Mr. Swainson to express the regret of the Council that a document which might have influenced their decision was unknown to them when asked to vote on the 4th December. Mr. Whitaker opposed Mr. Swainson, whose motion was lost by 6 votes against 4. Mr. Gilfillan, who had supported Mr. Swainson, was immediately permitted, however, to quash the Waitara Inquiry Commission Bill, by shelving it in Committee for three months. Members may have seen an incongruity in inquiring about the justice of the Waitara war of 1860, while the war of 1863, its direct result, was being prosecuted with vigour. In the North Island nearly all males were enrolled. On the 5th November, it was resolved that the provisions of the Militia Act should be strictly carried out in the Middle Island, till the whole male population between the ages of sixteen and fifty-five, not exempted by law, were organized and drilled.
1 Juvenal, lib, xiii.
Mr. Fox in his narrative bewails the catastrophe. “Our troops appear to have been able to do nothing except look on from a distance.… It was a great disappointment to everybody.” Nevertheless, though the Maoris left only empty rifle-pits behind them, they seemed to have admitted their inability to cope with the troops, and Mr. Fox lost no time in moving (6th November) a resolution pledging the Representatives to accept the control of native affairs. It was far more absolute and binding than the proposition which he failed to carry in the previous year, and which led to his retirement. But he carried the stronger resolution without division. The cause of the change in the opinions of the House may be read in the terms of the resolution. Imperial troops had won colonial affection. Having considered the Duke of Newcastle's fixed determination not to control native affairs, the House recognized with the deepest gratitude the great interest always taken by the Queen in “the welfare of all races of her subjects, and the thoroughly efficient aid which Her Majesty's Imperial Government is now affording for the suppression of the rebellion unhappily existing, and the establishment of law and order in the colony. And, relying on the cordial co-operation of the Imperial Government for the future, cheerfully accepts the responsibility thus placed upon the colonists, and at the same time records its firm determination to use its best endeavours to secure a sound and lasting peace, to do justice impartially to both races of Her Majesty's subjects, and to promote the civilization and welfare of all classes of the inhabitants of these islands.” The Council on the 9th November adopted similar resolutions. It must be confessed that the vain efforts which the House made soon afterwards to page 169 strangle the truth with regard to the seizure of land at Waitara formed an unhappy commentary on these professions. The address was promptly transmitted to England and acknowledged with great pleasure by the Secretary of State. The pledge to accept responsibility was no sooner made than it was repented, and by some sought to be evaded. In many contemporary writings and speeches it was spoken of as a “fatal acquiescence.”
1 General Cameron's despatch; 24th November, 1863.
Mr. Gundry, interpreter, in his report to the Native Minister, mentioned a fact which found no place in the General's despatches, but which marks the true nobility of English soldiery. Far from thirsting for the blood of the gallant foes who had rent their ranks so fearfully the evening before, they respected the courage with which, under a storm of shot and shell, that page 171 small band of men had defended their ramparts. The simple narrative of the interpreter must make every Englishman proud of his countrymen. “A Maori came forward with a white flag, when the soldiers sprang in amongst them, and commenced shaking hands with the Maoris. Soon after, the General came, and ordered them to give up their arms and he would treat them well as prisoners because of their brave conduct.… Te Wheoro accompanied the General from Mere-mere to Rangiriri, and was very useful as a guide.” On the morning of the surrender the king-maker approached with a large party of Maoris with a flag of truce. The interpreter found the leader inclined to surrender, but his followers unwilling. The king-maker sent his “mere,” a weapon of green-stone, but the General could not tell whether it was in token of peace. General Cameron wrote: “I hope the prisoners will be treated generously, for every one must admire the gallant manner in which they defended their position to the last.” The captives proposed to make peace, but the General told them the Governor only could arrange it. They wrote to the king-maker to urge the tribes to make peace, and abandon the “mana” of the island. One of the chiefs who had escaped wrote to the Governor soliciting the release of the prisoners. “Let it suffice for you—the men who are dead. Return to us those who live.” He was told by Mr. Fox that the Governor could make no terms till their arms were laid down. The chiefs wrote again to the Governor. He answered (6th December): “Your letter has reached me. Sons, my words to you are these. The General must go uninterrupted to Ngaruawahia; the flag of the Queen must be hoisted there. Then I will talk to you.”
On the 3rd December, Wiremu te Wheoro went from the General to Ngaruawahia. As he approached he was greeted with firing on both sides of the road. He reached the house of Matutaera, and the chiefs said, “Come and see your fallen tribe and your broken canoe.” In like figurative words he addressed them and recommended peace. The king-maker was sent for from Tamahere. There was a council. They said, “If we give up the guns we shall perhaps be made prisoners.” The Ngatimaniapoto were about to cut down the flagstaff. “Waikato would not allow them. The quarrel was great. page 172 Both sides fired without aiming. Then Tamati Ngapora, Mohi te Ahiatengu, Patara te Tuhi, and the king-maker, gave the flagstaff to me, Wiremu te Wheoro, with these words: ‘Wiremu, we give over this flagstaff to you, with those buried here and at Ngaruawahia, for you to give over to the General and to the Governor. Especially let not the remains of the dead be ill-treated by the soldiers.’”1
It cannot be asserted that this act of submission would, if wisely received, have terminated wars in New Zealand. It is plain that it was not wisely availed of by the Governor and his advisers. At Rangiriri was found a proclamation by the Maori king, dated 3rd October. It called for one-fifth of the tribes of the island to assemble as warriors at Ngaruawahia. It commanded them not to despoil the slain of their clothes; but “guns, powder, bullets, copper caps, cartouch-boxes, watches, money, rings, hats,—these take.” Such spoil was to be “brought to one heap,” and marked with the name of the depositor and the king's seal. The arms and ammunition would be given back to the captor, the other property was to be “left alone till the end, when his own will be restored to each man.” How far this summons had been obeyed no European could tell. The General had crossed the Waikato frontier more than two months before it was issued.
1 The atrocities committed by the volunteers at Papakura had made their mark.
The readiness of the Maoris to discuss their plans showed how utterly they had been defeated. They had intended to operate, in guerilla bands, upon the rear of the General's forces. page 174 From the Thames to Manukau, and especially in the Hunua forest, they had hoped to harass their invaders. They had not believed that supplies for a large invading force could be depended upon, but were disappointed. The destruction of the war-party at the Wairoa river, in September, had signally foiled their schemes on the General's left rear, and when the redoubt was constructed near Paparata, and the road through the Hunua forest to Maungatawhiri was held by efficient detachments armed with rifles, the inefficiently-armed Maoris were powerless for offence. The Parliament unanimously thanked the General, the Commodore, and Major-General Galloway, the commander of the colonial forces.1
1 Major-General Galloway, recently promoted from the command of the 70th Regiment, had, at Governor Grey's request, consented to remain for a time in the colony to command the militia and volunteers (Despatch; 10th August, 1863).
During the session a subject which had in former years aroused the Legislature of the colony of Victoria was brought before the Assembly. As in Victoria, so in New Zealand, the gold-fields drew crowds of harpies from the criminal classes in Tasmania, the last gathering-ground for English convicts in the south-eastern group of Australian colonies. After discussion, disallowance, and difference, the Victorian Convicts Prevention Act found a home in the statute-book. In Otago the vultures which prey upon their honester fellow-creatures hovered so thickly that Major Richardson, the Superintendent, emitted a piteous cry. Criminals of desperate character were setting in like a tide, which, if not arrested, would “inevitably make the province one vast penal settlement.” In 1861 and 1862 the Provincial Council passed ordinances to prevent influx of criminals. They were severally disallowed by the Governor, the opinion of the Judges being taken as to their repugnance to law and to the Constitution. A similar Bill was passed by the House of Representatives in 1863; was carried, by a majority of four on its second reading, in the Council; but was, on the motion of Mr. Swainson, ordered to be “read a third time this day six months.” The Ministry urged that an Imperial Act should be passed, either to meet the evil, or to empower the Assembly to do that of which, in the opinion of the Judges, they were then incapable. Mr. Cardwell replied that as the Government “did not advise the disallowance of the Act passed to prevent the entrance into Victoria of persons formerly sentenced to transportation in the United Kingdom, but whose sentences had expired, so neither would they now advise the disallowance of a similar Act if passed by the New Zealand Legislature. They would, however, see the passing of such an Act with regret, and they certainly would not advise that Parliament should be invited to pass a law for the express purpose of enabling a Colonial Legislature to enact a provision so little in accordance with Imperial policy, and which, in the opinion of their own Judges, is not called for by any proved necessity.” On the 14th December the session closed. The Governor gave the Royal assent to the Suppression page 176 of Rebellion Act, the New Zealand Settlement Act, and a Loan Act for three millions sterling. The members were dismissed in triumph to their homes, with the Governor's thanks for their liberality, and an assurance that the unusual powers granted to the Executive in a time of great public danger should be used so as to encroach as little as possible on the ordinary domain of law. They had provided in their Loan Act for a reduction of interest on so much of the loan as the Imperial Government might guarantee, and Mr. Reader Wood, the Treasurer, sailed in January to advocate the interests of the colony in England. Among the Acts reserved for the Queen's pleasure was one “to enable Provincial Legislatures to pass laws authorizing the compulsory taking of land for works of a public nature.” Mr. Whitaker was determined to effect the object in which he had previously been thwarted by the decision of the Secretary of State. By the Constitution of New Zealand, as in Australia, power was reserved to the Crown to disallow a Bill (although assented to by the Governor) within two years after the receipt of the Bill by the Secretary of State. Mr. Whitaker, at the close of the session, protested against the exercise of this power of disallowance with regard to the Rebellion and Settlement Act. His main plea was that native land tenure “was with little or no exception tribal,” and if lands of a tribe could be preserved because loyal occupants were incapable of eviction, the Act would be for the most part a dead letter. Already 3000 men had taken military service with the hope of obtaining land, and it was intended to enrol 20,000. Difficulties in the way of confiscation would be intolerable. Such was Mr. Whitaker's argument in 1864. A more elastic construer of rights and powers can hardly have held office as Her Majesty's Attorney-General amongst the numerous dependencies of the Crown, nor one who, under the guise of quiet simplicity, affected to be ignorant of guile until concealment became no longer possible. The tribal rights he had advised the ignorant Governor Browne to reject as baseless, at Waitara, could scarcely be denied before the learned Governor Grey. Their existence was therefore made a plea for a larger measure of confiscation than any but special enactment could permit, though it could not justify. Some of those who supported the ministerial measures had misgivings. Mr. Weld page 177 protested against them as unconstitutional and tyrannical. Mr. J. C. L. Richardson, who became a Minister at a later period, recorded the fact “that the doubtful supporters of the Ministry of Mr. Fox gave a hesitating and timid adhesion to the Bills,” savouring, as they did, of the “darkest periods of English legislation.”1 Sir George Grey told the Secretary of State that, of the two modes of dealing with subjects after rebellion, generosity would generally be found most successful; and that, in New Zealand, generosity has so far prospered that former enemies, who might have inflicted serious injury in 1863, had not only refrained from joining the rebels, but had volunteered to aid the English. But the same policy could not now be relied upon. The belief of large numbers of Maoris that a new principle was to be established in procuring land, and dealing with the natives generally, had bred distrust in the Government, and the successes at Taranaki in 1860 had em-boldened the young men of the tribes which had acquired arms and ammunition in great quantities. It was needful now to inflict punishment by taking land. But, recognizing the wisdom of a large generosity to the defeated, he would not carry the system too far. Magnanimity was not a virtue which abounded in New Zealand Ministries, and the want of it was to breed endless confusion. Yet a warning was received in January. In November, 1863, the Duke of Newcastle, while acquiescing generally in the seizure of lands from rebels, deprecated such wholesale confiscations as would lead the Maoris to believe that land-grasping was the motive for war. Even friendly tribes might thus be shaken in their allegiance, and wider and more desperate struggles might ensue. Her Majesty's Government would view with gravest apprehension a policy which might intensify the spirit of disaffection.
1 Printed address to electors of Dunedin and suburbs north, by Major Richardson.
1 As Mr. Fox had the effrontery, in 1879, to publish a letter in which he declared that his influence was not exerted to bring about confiscation of Maori lands, it is well that his advice in 1863 should be recorded in his own words.
2 Contrast the excuses of Whitaker and Fox with the straightforward common sense of Acting-Governor Shortland, when “taking payment in land” was urged upon him. “I do not at all approve of the system of taking payment in land from the natives for acts of aggression on British subjects, being of opinion that it would tend to encourage a frequent repetition of similar offences (against Maoris) and to render the lower class of settlers more and more abusive towards the natives” (Despatch to Lord Stanley, No. 53; 15th June, 1843).
The Ministry in various ways showed jealousy of the Governor's ability and knowledge of Maori character. It was revealed in characteristic and trivial ways, which made the course of affairs a maze of pettiness, encumbering hundreds of pages in the New Zealand blue-books. A few specimens are necessary to explain the state of affairs. It will be remembered that the rebels had been told that the Governor could only talk to them when the Queen's flag had been hoisted at the rebel capital. When the General reported the occupation of Ngaruawahia on the 8th December, his Ministers urged Grey to go thither with them and promulgate terms of peace. Those terms were discussed at great length. Surrender of arms, oath of allegiance, confiscation of all the land of rebels, followed by restitution to each man of a limited portion, so that his family might not starve,—prosecution of all murderers—were the main points. The Ministry insisted on going with the Governor. He thought it better to go alone. They would not yield, and he did not go with them. A notice, 16th December, was sent to the chiefs telling them that their reluctance to give up arms lest they should be made prisoners (as reported by Te Wheoro), was needless, for that none of them should be molested, except actual murderers. No act of war would be punished. If they wanted to know more of the Governor's intentions, he would receive a deputation in Auckland, treat it kindly, and allow it to return in peace. They must decide quickly, for the General would not stay his advance. Mr. Fox, in his account of the war, condemns the Governor for inability to make up his mind about going to Ngaruawahia; but a memorandum furnished by Sir G. Grey to his Ministers on the 18th December, at their request, explains his proceedings in a different manner. For a Governor, with the General and his Ministers, to make overtures and fail, would injure his position in the eyes of Europeans and of Maoris. The natives ought to make overtures to him. Either the Governor ought to be with the General, making no overtures to the natives, but on the spot if they should choose to make them to him;—or, if his page 181 advisers preferred another course, they might be with the General ready to receive overtures. On the 19th December, Mr. Whitaker summed up a reply in the words: “Most of the cogent reasons given by his Excellency against his going with some of his Ministers appear to them equally cogent against either party going without the other.” Mr. Fox declares that it was unfortunate that the Governor1 did not go with his Ministry, and that his refusal led to his being charged by the natives with breach of faith and responsibility for further war. He even says that the king-maker positively asserted, that if the Governor had gone to Ngaruawahia peace would have been made. But the king-maker's letter which Mr. Fox quotes makes no such assertion. It declares, on the contrary, that if the war had been allowed to stop at Rangiriri—if the proposals of the prisoners had been accepted by the English—there would have been peace. But neither the Governor nor his Ministry agreed to the captives' suggestions, though the king-maker wrote at the time that it was not proper for him to carry on war while his imprisoned friends were proposing peace.
1 Mr. Fitzgerald urged that proper efforts were not made to arrange terms when the General reached Ngaruawahia, and that the further advance of the army compelled the Maoris “to fight with the courage of despair.” Sir G. Grey denounced this statement as “untrue” (Despatch 46; 7th April, 1865); and arrayed many dates to controvert it; but the bickerings between Sir G. Grey and his advisers tend to confirm Mr. Fitzgerald's opinion.
The ceremony of handing the king's flagstaff to Te Wheoro bore no fruit. The wrangling of the Ministry with the Governor neutralized the tender of submission.
The advance of the Queen's troops made peace impossible. It was ascertained afterwards that the Maoris on no occasion had more than 2000 men in arms throughout the island. They had never more than 600 men assembled at one place during the war, and they were too wary to oppose them in the open field to far larger numbers aided by superior weapons. Rifle-pits and concealment were their defences. Thus they might hope that their assailants might be brought within the short range of their guns. Retreat from fortress to fortress was their plan of operation as General Cameron marched forward. To the General, meanwhile, looking round for strategic advantages, and heedless of national rights, it occurred that it would be wise to conquer the Tauranga district on the east coast. The Maoris to the east of the harbour were comparatively friendly. On the west the Ministry said they were decided enemies. Some had been to the war; some were preparing to go. Their crops were ready to be gathered. The loss of them would be a heavy blow. Writing on the 19th January, the Ministry said it was already publicly known that the expedition was contemplated, and to delay it would be considered a proof of weakness. The Governor yielded with professed reluctance, feeling that “under the present form of government” he ought to comply with the demands of his advisers. Again, therefore, an expedition was undertaken which could only be accepted as a token that the Government raised quarrels in order to seize upon lands.
It was believed that in 1863 as in 1860 the warlike youth of Tauranga had swelled the ranks of men in arms against the Queen. It was also true that the king-maker had much influ- page 183 ence over the Maoris between the east coast and the waters of the Thames. Nevertheless, though the man who looked only from a military standpoint might be excused for favouring such a marauding expedition, the Civil Government, charged with equal care of both races, in recommending the expedition, were worse than pirates, for pirates have not sworn to do right to those whom they rob. The Civil Commissioner at Tauranga had furnished a return of the warriors supposed to have gone to the Waikato district to help the king. From the east side of Tauranga, 30 out of an adult population of 212; from the west, out of 542 no less than 260 were said to have gone. Over them the king-maker's influence was great. Mr. Whitaker drew up (19th January) short instructions for the Colonel (Carey) in command. One sentence was: “The crops and cattle and other property of the natives on the west side should be taken possession of and the crops gathered in.” Mr. T. H. Smith, the Civil Commissioner, waited on Colonel Carey on the 22nd. Before doing so he had intimated to the Maoris in conformity with the exact words of a memorandum from Mr. Fox (the Native Minister), “that the object of the expedition is to act as a check on the movements of the Waikato sympathizers, but that unless forced upon them, active hostilities are not contemplated, and in any case will be only carried on against open rebels.” Shocked at the variance between these words and the instructions given to Colonel Carey, Mr. Smith by words, and in writing, entreated him to stay his hand till the Government could be consulted. Ruthlessly to seize the property of the innocent would rouse peaceful tribes to take arms against the Queen. Colonel Carey waited while Mr. Smith's appeal was sent to Mr. Fox. On the 25th, two letters from Auckland were sent to Mr. Smith. The Governor wrote privately: “Colonel Carey sent me a copy of your letter to him regarding the error I had fallen into, in issuing such instructions as I did for treating all the natives on the western side of the harbour of Tauranga as enemies, seizing their crops, cattle, &c. I feel very much obliged to you for the fearless and honourable way in which you did your duty on this occasion, thereby preventing me from being the cause of bringing much misery upon many innocent people.” The other letter, from Fox, was sevenfold more lengthy, page 184 and upbraided Mr. Smith for circulating the former instructions among the natives. If the Government had desired their circulation Mr. Smith would have been told. “As you have acted entirely without instruction, the responsibility must rest solely with yourself.” Mr. Smith's humane conduct appeared inconsistent with his verbal statements to Ministers in Auckland about the hostility of the tribes, and he was ordered to explain it. Sir George Grey (25th January) took prompt measures. He thanked Colonel Carey for staying his hand as to ravages, and told him to undertake no aggressive movement. If possible he was to intercept armed parties passing by the Tauranga route to join the natives in arms in the interior. Most civilians are as unfit to control military events as children are to be trusted with gunpowder; and when thwarted in mischief will like children complain. Mr. Smith furnished a satisfactory explanation, but Fox and Whitaker were discontented. They roundly rated the just officer for interfering to save the property of the innocent. At a later date (3rd February) in a memorandum on responsible government they complained of the Governor's “correspondence with their subordinate officer Mr. Smith.”
1 Mr. Fox's condition of mind was strange. He opposed the Waitara war in 1860 as unjust. He advocated the advance into Waikato territory in 1863, knowing that it would be accepted by the Maoris as a declaration of war. He passed the Suppression of Rebellion Bill subsequently, and then desired to try the prisoners of war who surrendered at Rangiriri under an Act passed after General Cameron had carried war into their territory. Not the injustice but “complications” in case of disallowance of his unjust Bill alarmed him.
A dreary correspondence of this kind was protracted for months. In vain Sir George Grey furnished a report from the interpreter serving with the forces (28th April, 1864) showing that Rewi though anxious to make peace was deterred by the treatment of the prisoners,—and distinctly complained that they had been led to believe that on giving up their arms they would be permitted to live freely within the lines of the troops. This rumour Mr. Whitaker said was not to be disregarded, but too much weight should not be attached to it. Friendly chiefs piteously entreated, but in vain, that the captives might be allowed to leave the hulk and live on shore. Sir George Grey (29th April) said that he feared the recent slaughter at Orakau, including women, might with justice be traced to the unexplained detention of the prisoners, especially of Te Oriori. He felt a serious responsibility, and dreaded a recurrence of such events. “He has done his utmost at all times to promote the views of his Ministers, and wished to show that on a point where he felt so strongly, a responsibility really rested on him, which gave him a strong claim on their consideration, which he hopes they will yet recognize.” He might as well have appealed to the timbers of the hulk in which the prisoners were immured. Mr. Whitaker, professing a desire to be compliant, regretted the difference which had arisen, but would not consent to release any one of the prisoners. Mr. Fox asserted that they were very comfortable and in excellent health in the hulk; but the principal medical officer in the colony, and the sanitary officer for the page 188 troops, reported otherwise, and that the seeds of disease were being sown in the captives by reason of the unfitness of their prison. A special request was made to Mr. Fox in May for straw mattresses, in order that these prisoners of war might not be compelled to sleep upon hard boards. (In the same month the surgeon in charge reported that Te Oriori and six others should at once be removed to the shore, where with “exercise and other hygienic measures they will be allowed a fair chance of renovating their shattered constitutions.”) It was not until nearly a month after this request was made to the hard-hearted Minister that it became known to the Governor. Mr. Fox, when reminded of this concealment, roundly told Sir George Grey (June, 1864) that the Ministry only were responsible, and that it was not customary to lay before the Governor reports on “other prisoners in the various gaols of the colony.” On the 4th June, the first winter month, the sanitary officer of the troops reported that “None of the prisoners had anything to lie upon save the deck of the ship.” Such being the conduct of his Ministers it was well that Sir George Grey referred the question of principle to the Secretary of State. On the 6th April he had narrated the facts up to that date. On the 7th May he had asked that, if it were deemed necessary, he might receive commands on the subject. He wrote to the Duke of Newcastle, but that nobleman did not receive his letter. Early in 1864 the Duke's health failed, and he retired. He was succeeded in April by Mr. Cardwell. It would have been well for humanity, and might have restored the feeble statesman, if he had retired earlier, and left to the firmer grasp of Mr. Cardwell the reins which he had held to so little purpose. As it was, he died in a few months. The evil effects of his sanction of the Waitara rapine could neither die nor be forgotten.
Mr. Cardwell's decision as to the captives may be told here. To Sir George Grey's first recapitulation of his difficulties he replied (June, 1864) that he was led to conjecture that if the Ministry had concurred in a definite and generous course, evils and loss of life might have been avoided. “On this I think it necessary to observe, that while I fully recognize the general right and duty of the Colonial Government to deal with matters of native policy, properly so called, I consider that while active page 189 operations are being carried on under the conduct of Her Majesty's officers, and in the main by Her Majesty's military and naval forces, it is for the Governor personally as representative of the Imperial Government to decide upon the fate of persons who are taken prisoners in the course of these military operations. And although, before adopting any such decision, I should wish you to obtain the advice, and if possible the concurrence, of the Ministers, I do not consider that concurrence indispensable. But, subject always to the positive law of the colony, I hold you entitled to determine, and I look to you for determining, whether such prisoners or any of them shall be released on parole or otherwise, or whether they shall be kept under such control as may legally be applied to them as prisoners of war, or whether they shall be handed over to the civil authorities to be dealt with as criminals. I shall therefore be fully prepared to support you, in case you should have thought it necessary, with or without the consent of your Ministers, so to deal with these prisoners as, in your opinion, the public interests may have required.” At a later date (26th July) Mr. Cardwell treated the subject at greater length. Adverting to Sir George Grey's statement that the Governor would be held responsible in England if needless severity were used, Mr. Cardwell said: “You appear to me rightly to interpret your position in the observations you have addressed to your Ministers.” On the 26th May, he had written: “I entirely anticipate that your Ministers will be animated by a just sense of the exertions and sacrifices which have already been made by the mother country, and that on colonial grounds they will be as anxious as you can be yourself to terminate the present hostilities. But it is my duty to say to you plainly that, if unfortunately their opinion should be different from your own as to the terms of peace, Her Majesty's Government expect you to act upon your own judgment, and to state to your Ministers explicitly that an army of 10,000 English troops has been placed at your disposal for objects of great Imperial, and not for the attainment of any mere local, object; that your responsibility to the Crown is paramount, and that you will not continue the expenditure of blood and treasure longer than is absolutely necessary for the establishment of a just and enduring peace.” Of these words he now page 190 reminded the Governor. As to the wisdom of releasing Te Oriori, only presence on the spot could justify an opinion. Mr. Cardwell gave none. “What I do feel it my duty to say to you plainly is, that the aid of the mother country in men and money is given to the colony on the understanding that the military measures which have unhappily become necessary shall be directed by you in concert with the distinguished General in command. I shall be perfectly ready to support you in any measures which, not breaking any positive law of the colony, and after consulting with the General, you may have thought it necessary to take.” The Whitaker Ministry would not consent to the publication of these despatches in the usual prompt manner. They doubtless deplored the events which had placed in the Colonial office so clear a judgment as that of Mr. Cardwell. On the general policy to be pursued he was equally decided, and a remarkable despatch (26th April, 1864) will demand special consideration.
At the resumption of warlike operations, the state of the tribes may be summarily stated thus: Dr. Featherston, Superintendent at Wellington, visited the west coast, and found Wi Tako friendly to the English, although not severed from loyalty to the Maori king. The capture of Rangiriri was commented on with evident knowledge of the scene of operations. The chiefs “were highly pleased at the fraternizing of the soldiers with the natives at Rangiriri, with the compliment paid them by General Cameron, and the kind treatment (as they believed) the prisoners were receiving.” Dr. Featherston temporarily adjusted a dispute about land between the Ngatiapa and the Rangitane and Ngatiraukawa tribes. At the discussions the natives showed “calmness and moderation.” For a time, as far north as Wanganui, the west coast was, in February, 1864, deemed safe. In March, Colonel Warre, commanding at Taranaki, captured without loss the rebel positions at Kaitake, near Oakura, and at Au Au. “The beautiful practice of the Armstrong guns set fire to a whā-rĕ” at the very hour fixed for an advance, and availing themselves of the “fortunate accident,” under cover of the smoke assaulting parties entered the works, from which the Maoris rapidly escaped, having wounded only two soldiers by a sustained fire. In April, having employed page 191 flying columns to destroy the Maori crops and cultivations, Colonel Warre reported that “every acre of cultivation was cleared within twenty miles to the south of Taranaki.” In the same month, Captain Lloyd, 57th Regiment, with a reconnoitring party of about 100 men, in the act of destroying a Maori plantation, was surprised by an ambuscade at Te Ahuahu. He and six others were killed in the retreat, and twelve were wounded. The heads of Captain Lloyd and five others were cut off and carried away. There was a rumour that this atrocity was provoked by the taking of the head of a Maori by a European for scientific purposes; but on investigation the occurrence was not proved. At the end of the month a large body of Maoris, after dancing their war-dance, attacked a redoubt at Sentry Hill. Captain Shortt, 57th Regiment, had ordered his men to sit concealed till told to fire. When the Maoris approached they were met by heavy volleys and shells from a cohorn. They fled, leaving more than thirty dead and many wounded. Only one soldier was wounded. Colonel Warre reported that the confidence shaken by the death of Captain Lloyd was entirely restored. “Our vengeance has been at least five-fold; and to show how we appreciated the desperate gallantry of the natives I sent to offer to return them their dead, but they had not the courage to send for them, and they were buried near the redoubt.”
It was noticed that in the advance of the Maoris they had halted strangely, and the reason was afterwards discovered. Sir William Martin's prediction had proved true. The faith of the perfidious Pakeha was discarded. A new creed had been coined to stir the tribes to battle and murder. The sword of the Lord and of Gideon was in their hands to smite the Pakeha and all unfaithful to the Maori king. The great day of deliverance was to be in December, 1864. The followers of the new religion were to be called Paimarire. It was called Hau Hau from the use of that sound in its ritual. It was said that when Captain Lloyd was slain, the infuriated Maoris had reverted to their national atrocity of cannibalism; and that the blood of some of the victims was drunk in savage triumph. Then the heads were buried. In a few days they were dug up, and a mad or knavish Maori, Te Ua, declared that the Angel Gabriel page 192 had communicated to him a new religion, of which the officer's head was to be a notable symbol. When false reports were daily mingled with truth, when Maoris were maddened by the burning of their homes, and were more willing to die than to submit, the new faith was hailed as an excitement like the dram of the drunkard. Emissaries were sent to distant tribes to pave the way for it. Mr. Fox insisted that the king-maker was a convert. Letters attributed to him were produced with the concluding word Paimarire. Te Oriori, however, assured Sir George Grey that some of them were not written by the king-maker; and in December, 1864, a Maori averred that he was opposed to the Paimarire. The man, Te Ua, was not alone in his crazy confidence. There were other mad prophets. One of them, Hepaniah, officiated at the attack on the Sentry Hill redoubt. He professed to be invulnerable. On a moonlight night, with wild gestures, and singing a psalm, he walked to the parapet of the redoubt and sat down. A serjeant and a few men went out to capture him. The prophet threw a stone at the serjeant, hitting him on the throat, and then—ran away. The surprised men fired a volley. The prophet sat down and resumed his psalm. After another volley he retreated. Having thus confirmed the faith of his followers, if not his own, he led them to assail Captain Shortt in the redoubt. In their advance they relied on the incantations of the prophet, and a man, like the hero of the night adventure, moved in front of the main body. When grape and musketry poured deadly hail among them, at first they stood calmly, and their strange leader again sung and waved his arms. A rifle-bullet dispelled the charm, and when nearly two score had fallen the Maoris fled. The brother prophets declared that Hepaniah had offended the Angel Gabriel, and one of them, Matene, went southwards to make fresh converts, and attack the settlement at Wanganui, which so recently was thought by Dr. Featherston to be safe. Matene applied to the Wanganui natives for permission to pass down the river. It was refused. The prophet was willing to wait two months, but Hemi Nape, Mete Kingi, and others, tired of negotiations, challenged him to battle on the island of Moutoa, in the river Wanganui. There was apprehension in the English settlement, where the real force of the rebels was unknown. It page 193 was supposed that some of the Waikato natives had joined them. In the settlement there was a garrison of 300 soldiers. Matene accepted the challenge sent to him. Neither army was to surprise the other. The time appointed was daybreak on the 14th May. The island was about 300 yards long, 20 wide, and about 15 high. At daybreak Hemi Napi was posted at the place where the Hau Haus were to land. Mete Kingi followed with the reserve. The advance party was in three bands: ten men were commanded by Kereti, nine by Hemi and Riwai, fifteen by Aperaniko and Haimona. The river was low, and the friends of the English on the left bank could wade easily to and from the island. From the right bank the Hau Hau fanatics had to move in canoes, from which they were allowed to land without opposition. They also formed advance companies with a reserve in the rear. There were not 150 of them, and many were boys. The Wanganui army was nearly 300 strong. When the Hau Haus had formed their battle-array within twenty yards of their enemies, they commenced their incantations, and continued them for two hours. Like Hepaniah they thought themselves invulnerable, and believed that their enemies would be nerveless. A Hau Hau fired a shot. The forces slowly advanced, and when within ten yards of each other fired volleys with mutual effect. Kereti's fall dispirited his friends. When Hemi and Riwai were also killed, the army fled in terror, and some crossed to the river-bank. Haimona reaching the end of the island, shouted, “I will go no further,” rallied a few less superstitious than the rest, poured a volley into his pursuers, was joined by Mete Kingi with the reserve, and drove the enemy with loss to the end of the island whence a few escaped in a boat, the swimmers being shot in the river. Matene, wounded thus, reached the bank, but was followed by a swimmer, Te Moro, who tomahawked him on land. Forty were left dead on Moutoa: many sank in the river. Among the friends of the English twelve were killed, and thirty wounded. The Wanganui settlers breathed freely, and in due time the Provincial Government erected in the market-place a monument “to the memory of those brave men who fell at Moutoa in defence of law and order against fanaticism and barbarism.”
Meantime, rumours of the intended attack had brought Dr. page 194 Featherston with a band of the Colonial Defence Force, to Wanganui. Landing there the day after the battle, he found the settlers enthusiastic in praise of the heroism of their allies. On the 17th, Hori Kingi and others proceeded up the river in canoes. Dr. Featherston followed, lamenting that some settlers grudged the supply of arms and ammunition to the friendly chiefs. The voyage was prolonged by repeated (tangi) wailing for the killed, in which the chiefs indulged. The victorious natives were found at Ranana. They wanted ammunition and guns. Hori Kingi wanted something else. He besought Dr. Featherston to release the prisoners, or at least Te Raimona. “We have fought for the Queen and to protect the Pakeha. We have killed in battle many of our nearest relations and friends. We have taken others prisoners. Have we not done enough? Must we surrender them to be sent to Auckland, or Wellington—to gaol? But if they must be surrendered, whatever you say shall be done. Cannot Te Raimona be given up to us? He is nearly related to every chief of the river.” Dr. Featherston replied that he was bound to insist on the prisoners being handed over to him. As the fleet of canoes, with 150 armed men, passed the place where Te Raimona lay, Hori Kingi said: “Featherston, my heart is very dark about my children, especially Te Raimona. This is the first time I have passed this place without calling; the hearts of all the chiefs and their people are dark… many of our people prayed this morning that they might be excused from joining in this expedition. You have said they are the Queen's prisoners and must be surrendered to her. We come to surrender them. But still our hearts are sad.…” At this appeal the man overcame the official in Dr. Featherston. “To understand and appreciate its pathos (he wrote) every word must have been heard and the speaker seen.” He promised that if Hori Kingi and other chiefs would write to the Governor he would support their prayer for a pardon. The old chief's eyes glistened with delight; he sprang up, hailed the five canoes in advance to stop, and gave them in a few figurative words what appeared a mere hint of what Dr. Featherston had said. “But this was quite sufficient; the gloom which had hung over them instantly disappeared; a cry of joy burst from the whole of them, and off they started, plying page 195 their paddles with tenfold vigour, and there was no longer silence, but the usual cries and songs resounded from every canoe.”
There were discussions with Pehi, a chief friendly to the Maori king. He had dissuaded the prophet Matene and the “mad dogs” who were with him, but he was urgent against the surrender of the prisoners. They were surrendered. In Wanganui there was public grief when Hemi Napi and a brother chief were buried. The garrison, the civilians, and many settlers were in the funeral procession, and the general sympathy deeply affected the Maoris. Dr. Featherston reported that “kingism was doomed, and that there was never so little prospect of the peace of the west coast being disturbed.” Hori Kingi's eloquence was not spent in vain. Sir George Grey, with the concurrence of his Ministry, handed over all the prisoners to the friendly natives on parole. The light and darkness of Maori life were never more strangely exemplified. At the pah where Te Raimona was delivered to Dr. Featherston, Matene's men had dug two large ovens in which to cook the foes, at whose intercession the Hau Hau prisoners were now to be released. Dr. Featherston's influence did much to ensure peace. Wi Tako Ngatata, who had leaned to the Maori king, would not ally himself to the “mad Hau Hau prophets.” “My kind of kingism,” he said, “would never have ended thus. It was calculated to bring forth good fruits only. I have nothing to be ashamed of when I meet the tribes. I was faithful to kingism till it died, and I had no hand in its death.” In a clear and distinct voice, on the 3rd June, 1864, he took the oath of allegiance, and his subsequent exertions mainly contributed to suppress disaffection in the southern parts of the island.
Captain Lloyd's head was supposed to have been lost in the river at Moutoa. In June, the interpreter to the troops at Wanganui (Mr. Broughton) heard that it was at Waitotara in the hands of Te Ua. He went alone to ask for it, and saw 100 armed men led by Hapurona, Te Rangitake's fighting chief. Te Ua gave to him a head which officers of the 57th Regiment believed to be that of their late comrade. Mr. Fox, meanwhile, was warmly welcomed at Kaipara by a tribe, which in ancient times had suffered much at the hands of the Waikato, page 196 and some amongst whom gloated over the defeat of their former foes. He encouraged their triumph.
Must not the prophecy of Sir William Martin have run like iron into the hearts of any who were capable of remorse for provoking the war? Eighteen years had passed since he had said that the confiscation and seizure of land proposed by Earl Grey would, if adopted, make Maoris think the English a nation of liars, and cause them to abandon the faith they had accepted, and which the givers so unworthily departed from. The deed done at Waitara had justified the fears, and the wild orgies of the new sect convinced the most sceptical of the wisdom, of the good man whom Colonel Browne, and Mr. Richmond, and at a later date Fox and Whitaker, refused to regard. In 1864, the Government forces took possession of various places in the Waitara district. A strongly-fortified pah, Manutahi, was abandoned after trifling resistance, and Te Arei at Pukerangiora, which the General had approached by sap, in 1861, fell into Colonel Warre's hands in October, without a struggle. He was piloted by the friendly natives, and the enemy were few in number. Neither Rewi, nor Te Rangitake, nor Hapurona were there. Rewi and the men of Ngatimaniapoto had serious work at their own homes. Colonel Warre scoured the country, destroyed villages wherever he could find them, and having driven men, women, and children from their homes to fastnesses or wilds in the interior, formed a redoubt at Te Arei, with a strong garrison.
The attitude of the Ngatikahungunu tribe, whose territory extended on the east coast from Wellington to Napier, was an object of concern to the Government. There were feuds between the tribes on the Wairoa river. Major Whitmore, Civil Commissioner at Napier, urged them to be reconciled and accept one law for all. As to the Maori king, he did not complain of their sympathy with the idea of native union; but let them not add flames to war. In Waikato the English were at war merely because Englishmen had been murdered. Let not the east coast tribes interfere. The Maoris were at the time troubled by cases of adultery, and wished Major Whitmore to help them to a law of divorce, but he was unable to give them comfort. At the meeting no less than 600 Maoris were page 197 guests. Major Whitmore reported that it was possible to keep on good terms with the Ngatikahungunu, but that men had gone to the war at Waikato from the Ngatiporou at the East Cape and from the rugged Uriwera territory. The Bishop of Waiapu (William Williams) reported much ferment in February at Poverty Bay on the subject of land confiscations. The natives wanted to see the Governor. Meanwhile, the war at Waikato, and the intended devastation at Tauranga, which was frustrated for a time by the Civil Commissioner's prudence, occupied attention. Having occupied Ngaruawahia without opposition in December, 1863, General Cameron, after a few weeks, advanced along the Waipa river to Te Rore.
The Maoris were entrenched at Paterangi, situate in a country where, in what was called the great Waikato plain, low ridges and mounds are surrounded or intersected by swamps and winding valleys with swampy hollows. High fern intermingling with flax and low manukau scrub gave cover to scouting parties. A few miles to the south-east were Te Awamutu, whence Mr. Gorst had been expelled, Kihi Kihi (Rewi's chief residence), and Rangiaohia, all situate in one of the richest parts of the Waikato champaign. Thence large quantities of wheat had been sent to Auckland in years gone by, ministering to the wants of the colonists, and supplying the Maoris with means to procure fire-arms. The Paterangi works of the Maoris were unusually intricate. Line upon line of zigzag rifle-pits intersected the slopes of fern-covered ridges. The General bombarded from a distance, but made no impression, and his Maori allies advised him not to attempt to storm. The Bishop, writing from the camp at Te Rore on the 4th February to a son. said that the Maoris had “so strengthened their position by earthworks that the General is obliged to proceed cautiously and systematically. The popular idea of ‘rushing’ seems to have been abandoned since Rangiriri.” On the 11th February, about 50 soldiers were fired at on their way to bathe in the Mangapiko river. Colonel Waddy sent reinforcements, and the Maoris only escaped destruction in consequence of the uneven and fern-covered nature of the ground. The General witnessed the skirmish, and highly praised the officers engaged. Lieutenant- page 198 Colonel Havelock reported that the action cost the Maoris 28 men killed, and two wounded prisoners. Of the English, six were killed, and a few wounded. The hero of the assault upon the Maoris engaged in religious service at Paparata was lauded for his activity on this occasion, when those whom he attacked were not principally women and children. As regarded the inclusion of women in the horrors of war, the General, with the aid of the Forest Rangers, was about to do a deed which contributed to forfeit for Bishop Selwyn his place in Maori affections. The Bishop hoped, by accompanying the troops, to soften the rigours of war, and to administer consolation to the wounded without regard to the side on which they had fought. But the Waikato tribes would not believe that man to be their friend who marched with their enemies.1 He was fired at as he rode from post to post, but as of yore at Kororarika he went about the field of battle to succour the wounded. On one occasion he was with an officer carrying a wounded enemy to the camp, and meeting two soldiers received their help. As he carried the relieving soldier's rifle, he was reproached for having acted in so warlike a manner.
1 Writing to a brother Bishop, Selwyn said in 1863: “I have now one simple missiouary idea before me, that of watching over the remnant that is left. Our native work is a remnant in two senses,—the remnant of a decaying people and the remnant of a decaying faith. The works of which you hear are not the works of heathens; they are the works of baptized men whose love has grown cold from causes common to all churches of neophytes from Laodicea downwards.”
Of what avail was it to preach peace to the Maoris, and tell them to be merciful, when a British force, commanded by a General, and accompanied by a Bishop, burnt women and children in a Maori house? Was it to be wondered at that a great grief came upon the Bishop when he heard that a plot was laid by the enemy to take his life? The successful General returned to Te Awamutu with 21 women and children who were not burned. He had fluttered the Maoris effectually. Though their men of war were at Paterangi and Maungatautari, their principal food stores, such as they were, were at Rangiaohia. That food was now destroyed, though the General did not think it worth his while to mention the fact in reporting his exploits. The grief of the Maoris at Paterangi was intense. They had expected the General to fight according to Maori principles with the foe ready to meet him. They had not dreamed that heavy guns and a large body of troops would be turned aside against women and children. Their rage at being outwitted by the flank-movement which left them idle, and destroyed their food and plantations, was exaggerated by the burning of their wives and children. Gathering their ammunition together they evacuated Paterangi, and were seen moving to Rangiaohia on the morning of the 22nd February, at which time also Colonel Waddy and his forces found Paterangi empty. The General marched against a band of page 200 Maoris between Rangiaohia and Te Awamutu in the afternoon of the 22nd, and thought that at least 30 of them were killed. But for the fern it would seem strange that all were not destroyed; for only by concealment could a Maori hope to see an enemy within the range which his fire-arms could cover, while rifles laid the Maori low at long ranges. The main body fled through a swamp towards Maungatautari, where a pah was in course of construction. On the 21st eight, and on the 22nd twenty-one, English were included in the returns of killed and wounded. The General's camp at Te Awamutu was but a short distance from Rewi's Kihikihi settlement, and both were near Orakau, soon to be rendered famous in New Zealand story by deeds which extorted admiration from enemies.
Two documents written at this period may be referred to with advantage. Mr. Whitaker, on the 29th February, to allay the Duke of Newcastle's apprehensions lest the Maoris should be embittered by confiscation of land, stated—in a formal minute drawn up for transmission to Downing Street— that “though the proceedings of the Government were at first naturally looked upon with some anxiety and distrust by the natives, those feelings have much subsided generally, and in some instances complete confidence has been established in the intentions of the Government;” and that “every means have been taken to persuade the Maoris in general, that the property of innocent persons and tribes will be strictly respected, and that the measure of punishment will be apportioned to the degree of guilt.”
Sir George Grey transmitted the minute with an intimation that it showed that the Ministry fully recognized the wisdom and propriety of the Duke of Newcastle's views, and would fulfil their duties prudently and justl. Yet, at that date, Sir George Grey was vainly imploring for the release of Te Oriori; and Mr. Whitaker had officially urged, with regard to the Settlements Act of 1863, that, if innocent native occupants could not be evicted under it, the Act would be almost useless. Mr. Whitaker's false minute was scarcely dry when Ahipene, a loyal chief, wrote from Waiuku (1st March) to Mr. Fox, saying, that he heard from trustworthy sources that the obduracy of page 201 Waikato was caused by distrust of the Government, and fear that if the chiefs should submit they would be tried, transported, and put to death. “This is the cause of their sadness, and in persisting in their evil course unto death. The heart of our sister Ngawai, when she heard these words, started with love to her people, and a desire to hear your words and those of the Governor, and to go to Waikato to suppress the evil, and cause the fighting to cease. … It is for you to decide.… If you think well, I and Waatu Kukutai would take our sister to make peace with the chiefs, and cause their king to be suppressed, their flag to be given up, and the instruments of war to be surrendered.”
Mr. Fox paid no attention to Ahipene's entreaty, but on the 9th March said that on his return from Kaipara Ministers would think about the prisoners. He sent a draft proclamation which might be issued after the taking of Maungatautari. It was addressed to the hostile tribes, who “have been very obstinate, and now their land, the land of Waikato, is gone.” The Government would give them “one more chance.” Let every man bring in his weapons and sign a declaration of submission. “Then let him go to whatever place the Government shall tell him to go to; let him live there till it shall be pointed out to him where shall be his permanent place to reside.” But “murderers shall not be forgiven.” This announcement it was proposed to make to the widowers and orphans of Rangiaohia. Burial-places and homes, however venerated and beloved, were to be abandoned to the invader, at whose dictate the exiles were to be permitted to breathe. Subsequently (6th May, 1864) Mr. Fox vilipended Ahipene's appeal. The chief was not “trustworthy or disinterested;” some of his “immediate relatives” captured at Rangiriri were on board the hulk, and his assertion as to the injurious effect of their confinement was only made to procure their release, and was “not in the opinion of Ministers of the smallest value whatever.” It was time for Mr. Cardwell to come to the rescue when Whitaker and Fox, dressed in brief authority, were prepared to use Her Majesty's name and wield Her Majesty's army in enforcing such behests. But pervicacious as they were they could not shake off all regard for public opinion. England could not be page 202 expected to thrust injustice upon the Maoris at the point of the bayonet.
1 When first shown to Sir George Grey, the memorandum contained a quotation from a work by the Rev. Mr. Taylor, in which the author was quoted as blaming Governor Fitzroy for not having claimed the district of Waiaru in 1843, as having been paid for with blood. Sir George Grey informed Mr. Taylor (then in Auckland) that from his work an inference had been drawn that the natives would not consider themselves conquered unless their lands were confiscated. Mr. Taylor pointed out that the condition of affairs in 1843 had no analogy to that of 1864. Independent tribes had taken up arms under an impression that their lands would be seized, and the knowledge of an intention to confiscate the entire territory of the hostile tribes would prolong the war to the last extremity in every corner of the island, whereas if honourable and liberal terms were offered it was probable that so shrewd a race as the Maoris would lay down their arms. With ill-concealed chagrin Mr. Fox, after numerous minutes, withdrew Mr. Taylor's name from his letter to Lord Chichester.
It is necessary to revert to the operations in the field, for his “invaluable services,” in which at “great personal risk and convenience” the Secretary of State, in acknowledging military reports, rendered to Bishop Selwyn his “sincerest thanks.” The Department which had spurned the Bishop's counsel at Waitara was proud of his countenance at Paterangi. The General, meanwhile, hearing that the Maoris were gathering together for a final struggle at Maungatautari under the guidance of the king-maker, resolved to reduce their stronghold ther—Ti Tiki o te Hingarangi. His own head-quarters were at Pukerimu, where spurs from the Maungatautari range trend to the left bank of the Waikato river, above the modern town Cambridge. He could there obtain supplies by the waters of the river. The Maoris had miscalculated the facilities with which ample resources could provide the military commissariat at points remote from Auckland. Their own scanty stores had suffered in the ravages at Rangiaohia. After evacuating page 204 Paterangi many of them appear to have been scattered in various bands near the Puniu river. Most of the women and children were removed southwards towards the upper waters of the Waipa. Some ammunition was secreted in convenient places, but the Maoris did not at once select a new place of defence. Brigadier-General Carey was stationed with a large force at Te Awamutu. A band of Maoris roving over their desolated land were passing Orakau, about three miles from Kihikihi (and as far from Te Awamutu), when one of them said: “This is my father's land. Here will I fight.” The chiefs began to discuss the matter, but he was resolute, and his impetuosity prevailed. There was no apparent strength in the position. It was one of those low rolling mounds which characterized the country. Northwards the land sloped downwards almost imperceptibly to a patch of forest. Westward it was almost level with Orakau. From the south-west a ridge curved round by the south to the south-east at a distance varying from 250 to 350 yards, leaving a hollow between the pah and the crest of the ridge at the south-east. Eastward there was a gentle slope, and across a gully at a distance of several hundred yards the land rose again to the level of Orakau. Beyond the curving ridge was a swamp, at the other side of which, at the south-east, rose a steep but not very high mound which narrowed the swamp in that direction. Southwards the ridge was steep, and about 40 feet high, where it overlooked the narrow swamp which separated it from the mound which was higher than the ridge. Almost at the southern foot of the ridge there was a deep ditch with a steep bank above it, which had been made in former times to keep cattle from Maori cultivations. The ground was covered with fern and occasional flax-plants. On the 30th March, General Carey heard that the enemy were constructing rifle-pits at Orakau. They had fired upon a party of the colonial forces who stumbled by chance upon the spot. He made a reconnaissance and resolved to surround the position before it could be fortified. He sent 250 of the 40th Regiment by a circuitous route to occupy the rear of the enemy. At three o'clock in the morning, with about 700 men, composed of Artillery, Engineers, 40th and 65th Regiments, and about 25 of the Forest page 205 Rangers, he marched past the Kihikihi Redoubt to Orakau, taking 150 men from Kihikihi on the way. Captain Blewitt was ordered to move from Rangiaohia to the east side of Orakau with about 114 men, composed of the 65th Regiment and the 3rd Waikato Militia in about equal proportions. The three forces were to converge upon Orakau simultaneously at daylight. The combined forces were more than 1250. The Maoris have been variously computed at from 300 to 400,1 including women and children. The Brigadier was in front of Orakau at day-dawn.
1 General Cameron reported that “they had probably not less than 150 men killed “out of a garrison not exceeding 300.” Despatch, 7th April, 1864.
1 Brigadier-General Carey's Official Report, 7th April, 1864. P. P.
1 Report of Mr. R. C. Mainwaring to Mr. Fox. P. P. 1864.
1 An English soldier described to the author how an unarmed Maori for some time protected the women and children fleeing with him. As his pursuers approached he turned and knelt down to take deliberate aim. Time after time, without firing a shot, he thus arrested the pursuit while the women fled. At last he was himself shot, and it was found that his gun was not loaded. Some of the women escaped by means of the self-sacrifice of this unnamed Maori hero.
1 They were brothers of Captain Glover who distinguished himself in Ashantee in 1874.
Colonel Greer's movements are clearly related by himself. At daybreak he heard the besieged singing and dancing in their pah. A little disturbance was created in his ranks by the success of the Maori device in placing their flagstaff in rear of their work. The casualty list showed three of his men wounded by shells. Once or twice during the day he thought the Maoris were disposed to break away to the rear, and, when the assault began, he drew so close as to make escape impossible. “About five o'clock, p.m., the Maoris made a determined rush from the right rear of their pah, I met them with three companies, and after a skirmish drove the main body back: about 20 got past my right, but received a flank fire from Lieutenant Cox's party (68th, 60 men), and Lieutenant Hotham's (30 men) Naval Brigade, and 16 of the Maoris were seen to fall; a number of men pursued the remainder. By the time I had collected the men again and posted them it was very dark. My force available on the right was quite inadequate to cover the ground in such a manner as to prevent the Maoris from escaping during the night; in fact I consider that on such a dark wet night as that was, nothing but a close chain of sentries, strongly supported round the whole rear and flanks, could have kept the Maoris in; and to do that a much stronger force than I had would have been necessary. During the night the Maoris made their escape. I think that, taking advantage of the darkness, they crept away in small parties, for during the night every post either saw or heard some of them escaping, and fired volleys at them. The Maoris, careful not to expose themselves, never returned a shot during the night, but there were occasional shots fired from the page 215 pah, no doubt to deceive us as to their having left it.” How they left no one knew at the camp of the General. After they had poured their volleys upon the flying troops they made no sign of abandoning their post. Those who knew the voice of the chief Rawiri heard him calling to the soldiers to come on. In the pitchy night which ensued, either by the right rear or by stealing through the fern on their right flank, the garrison passed silently away, leaving, as was rarely the case, wounded and dead behind. Wounded prisoners told that some had been carried away even on this occasion. The tale was strange; but everything about the Gate Pah was equally so. The network of rifle-pits and underground passages, of which the English had become masters, had cost them the lives of 10 officers and 25 non-commissioned officers and men, while 4 officers and 72 of other ranks were wounded. Yet “not more than 20 dead and 6 wounded Maoris could be found in and about their position,” and of them but few had been hurt by Armstrong guns or shell. It was said that no English regiment at Waterloo had lost so many officers as the 43rd lost at the Gate Pah. The General's official report that the assault began at four o'clock and Colonel's Greer's statement that the Maoris made their sally in the rear at five o'clock, refute the idea that the return of the Maoris to their pah turned the tide of battle within it. The storming party had been driven back 45 minutes before the sally was made. It seems that having repelled the assault, and perhaps presuming that the English, under Colonel Greer, would be discouraged, the Maoris resorted to their usual tactics of abandoning their stronghold after inflicting loss upon the enemy, but that Colonel Greer's readiness compelled them to escape by night. When Mr. Smith, the Civil Commissioner, entered the pah in the morning, he believed the statement of a wounded Maori that less than 200 men had defended the work, “as it did not appear capable of holding more.” The dead English had neither been stripped nor mutilated. They had been kindly treated. Among the Maori garrison was Henare Taratoa, who had been educated under Bishop Selwyn at St. John's College prior to 1853. He tended one of the English wounded who, in his dying agonies, thirsted for a drop of water. The Maoris had none. Taratoa threaded his way through the page 216 English sentries in the darkness, and returned with a calabash of water to slake his enemy's thirst. By the side of each wounded Englishman there was found in the morning some small water-vessel, placed there by the Maoris before they departed from their fort. In recognition of their chivalry the few Ngaiterangi prisoners were afterwards released by Sir George Grey. The dying Colonel Booth was carried out of the pah in the morning. The General went to him; but the gallant soldier felt the repulse so deeply that he turned away his face, saying: “General, I can't look at you. I tried to carry out your orders but we failed.” He died in the evening.
The English dead were buried in the mission burial-ground at Tauranga on the 2nd May, amid feelings which have seldom harrowed a British force, for many of the men burned with shame for the repulse, and were stunned by grief for their comrades. Within a separate enclosure, about 30 yards by 20, in that cemetery, may be seen to this day an obelisk inscribed on three sides. One inscription tells that Colonel Booth, Captains Glover, Mure, Hamilton, and Utterton, and Lieutenant Glover and Ensign Langlands fell at the Gate Pah. Another tells that Serjeant-Major Vance and a bugler, James Blackwall, with eleven privates, are interred there. The third is in memory of two corporals and four privates, who fell in a subsequent action at Te Ranga. A separate tomb tells that Captain J. F. C. Hamilton, of H.M.S. ‘Esk,’ “fell in the assault on the Pukehinahina (Gate) Pah.” In the same enclosure there are other graves and memorials of those who at different times were killed or died in the district. The enclosure, with the cemetery of which it is a part, is on the site of what was once a strong pah, on a low promontory, steeply scarped by the hands of Maoris. Ditches and high embankments intersecting the plateau show that the pah was once a formidable work.
Wars of old time with spears and clubs, and the wanton sacrifice of life at the Gate Pah, arouse melancholy reflections in the traveller who stands on the promontory and looks across the peaceful waters of the bay to the pyramid of Mongonui, standing like a lonely guard athwart the entrance to the harbour. At Mongonui, within the memory of white men, one of the savagest Maori slaughters had taken place. The murderous page 217 native wars were practically extinguished by Christianity, and the land might have had peace but for the pestilent injustice enacted by Governor Browne and his advisers. The slaughter at the Gate Pah would not have taken place if the Whitaker Ministry had not wantonly promoted the Tauranga campaign. If General Cameron had been content to occupy the front and rear of the Gate Pah English blood need not have been shed there. The Maoris must have surrendered, or ventured at disadvantage to pass the English lines. As usual, the Maori allies had endeavoured to dissuade the General from the assault. Wi Patene and others, friendly to the English, obtained permission to bury the Maori dead. Mr. Smith, the Civil Commissioner, with 18 natives, on Sunday (1st May) interred the bodies within the mission boundary near the Gate Pah,—Archdeacon Brown reading a portion of the funeral service. A mound was raised to mark the common grave. Except to prove what required no further proof—Maori valour,—the defence of Pukehinahina was idle. It could not check the English advance. Wi Patene and other friendly chiefs proposed to communicate with the rebels and urge submission. The General declined to authorize such overtures. If the rebels desired to make any, they might communicate with him. Wi Patene admitted that the General's reasons were satisfactory.
The Maoris did not retreat far. It was rumoured that they were fortifying a position in the hills at the head of the Wairoa. But the spirit of presumption was upon them, and Maori allies warned the English of their movements. On the 21st June, Colonel Greer heard that they were commencing to build a pah at Te Ranga, a few miles from the scene of their recent struggle, and he resolved to attack them before they could build palisades or construct shell-defying burrows. He marched to the spot with a force of 600 men, enfiladed them from a spur which commanded their right, drove in their skirmishers, kept up a sharp fire for two hours; and, when re-enforced by a gun and 220 more men, sounded the advance upon the position, which consisted of a ditch four or five feet deep. The 43rd, 68th, and 1st Waikato Regiments carried the rifle-pits with a dash, the Maoris firing vigorously but as usual too high. For a few minutes they fought desperately, then turned and fled, leaving 68 dead in the page 218 rifle-pits. The pursuit was keen. The 43rd avenged their loss at the Gate Pah. One hundred and eight1 Maoris were killed, 27 were wounded, and 10 were made prisoners. Henare Taratoa, the humane hero of the Gate Pah, was amongst the killed. On his body was found a written order of the day for war. It began with prayer and ended with the words, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.” The English loss was 10 killed and 40 wounded. The dead Maoris were thrown into the rifle-pits dug by themselves the day before. The bayonet was the death-dealing weapon in the pits. A corporal of the 68th transfixed a Maori, who at once coolly seized the corporal's rifle with one hand and was endeavouring, tomahawk in hand, to cut down his enemy with the other, when a serjeant saved his comrade with a second bayonet. One Maori was brought in calmly smoking his pipe. On throwing open his blanket for the surgeon's inspection he showed four bullet-holes and five bayonet wounds through his trunk and thighs. Mr. Meade, R.N., saw him recovered and walking some months afterwards. Rawiri, who had invited the English to renew the assault at the Gate Pah, and almost all the notable chiefs, were among the killed. In his hurried account, written on the spot, Colonel Greer said: “I must not conclude without remarking on the gallant stand made by the Maoris at the rifle-pits. They stood the charge without flinching, and did not retire until forced out at the point of the bayonet.”2
1 N. Z. P. P. 1864. E. No. 3, p. 81.
2 Sir George Grey wrote to the Secretary of State (1st July, 1864): “Colonel Greer tells me that no thought of yielding possessed the natives —that they fought with desperation, and when at length compelled by the bayonet to quit the trenches in which they left more than a tenth of their number dead, it was strange to see them slowly climb up, and, disdaining to run, walk away under a fire that mowed them down, some halting and firing as they retired, others with heads bent down stoically and proudly receiving their inevitable fate. He adds in speaking of Rawiri their leader, who was amongst the slain—‘Poor Rawiri was a brave man, and behaved like a chivalrous gentleman towards me.’”
In the king-maker's mind no doubts existed longer. The Maoris, unless united, had no prospect of success. They were not united; and some of the most powerful tribes were arrayed against the patriot or rebel party. He was willing to bow to the stroke of fate. Burial-places rifled for green-stone treasures —cattle destroyed or eaten—maize and potato crops consumed —peach-groves cut down, or burnt; consequent starvation or distress: these were fruits of the war which the more impetuous Maoris had courted, and which, if they had not courted it, Whitaker and his friends were determined to bring about, as soon as they could command English blood and treasure with which to wage it. They had denied that land was their object. They had repelled the arguments of Sir William Martin, Archdeacon Hadfield, and others, who had shown that the Maoris could look upon the conduct of the English as arising only from lust for land; and now that success had crowned the arms of England, they proceeded to prove by their conduct that Sir William Martin was right.
It is difficult to imagine how any number of men, conversant page 220 with the rules prevailing in English society, could conduct themselves as Mr. Whitaker and his colleagues comported themselves towards the representative of the Crown with regard to the Maori prisoners. When tidings came that the treatment of the prisoners rankled in the minds of their countrymen, and intensified the horrors of war at Orakau and elsewhere, Sir G. Grey (4th May) asked his advisers to agree to the appointment of a Board, to inquire whether the prisoners could be maintained on board the hulk in the winter, and the Ministers then proposed to yield to his anxious desire that the Maoris generally might know something of the probable fate of the prisoners. They suggested that it should be announced that only loss of personal liberty would be inflicted until peace might be made, when allotments of land would be given; and that two, not important chiefs, should be allowed to go on parole to explain their position to the tribes. The Governor replied, that as after so long deliberation the Ministry had determined upon such a course, it would be well for them to carry it out. It would still be competent for the Secretary of State to convey any commands of Her Majesty varying the amount of punishment.
At this period the disasters at the Gate Pah were announced, and the Governor was about to proceed to Tauranga (10th May), when the Ministry asked him to sign blank passes for two chiefs to be selected as emissaries, on parole, to announce to their countrymen the intention of the Government with respect to the prisoners. Sir George Grey trusted the Ministry would excuse him from signing such papers for uninfluential chiefs. “It was against the judgment of the Governor that these prisoners and their friends were left so long without a guarantee of what their punishment was to be. It is equally against his judgment, that at the present moment, after our heavy losses at Tauranga, such a communication as is proposed, carried by such messengers, should be conveyed to the natives now in arms. In assenting to the Executive Government carrying out by their own action the course they have determined to adopt, the Governor thinks he has done all that can be required of him.” Mr. Fox signed passes, and Sir George Grey enclosed them to Brigadier-General Carey in Waikato; but the mission was unproductive. The appointment of the Board of Inquiry upon the hulk caused page 221 much correspondence. The relations which the Ministry desired to establish may be gathered from one fact. On the 23rd June, in reply to an interrogation, the Governor learned for the first time from Mr. For that Te Oriori had been put upon parole. Mr. Fox justified his reticence by arguing that the Ministry thought that in telling the Governor nothing about the chief for whose release he had vainly pleaded, the “Ministers in acting as they did thought they were conforming to his Excellency's views.”
At this juncture, when the slaughter at Te Ranga seemed to place unlimited power of rapine in the hands of the Ministry, there sped across the sea a despatch which showed that English honour was more safe in the hands of Mr. Cardwell than in those of his predecessor. The Settlements Act which Mr. Whitaker had pronounced essential to the well-being of the colony furnished the text. Mr. Cardwell did not dispute the right of the Colonial Government to extort from the insurgents some aid in defraying the expenses of the war, but the expenses had been borne mainly by England, which had therefore a right to require that the cession or confiscation of territory should not be carried further than was consistent with the permanent pacification of the island and the honour of the English name. As for the Settlements Act itself, the Duke of Newcastle pointed out in 1863 the difficulties incident to forming military settlements, and the reprehension with which the English Government would view measures tending to intensify disaffection. “I need scarcely observe” (Mr. Cardwell said) “that the Act now forwarded, taken in combination with the scheme proposed by your Government, exhibits a rapid expansion of the principles in which the Duke of Newcastle acquiesced with so much reserve.… Considering that the defence of the colony is at present effected by an Imperial force, I should perhaps have been justified in recommending the disallowance of an Act couched in such sweeping terms, capable therefore of great abuse, unless its practical operation were restrained by a strong and resolute hand; and calculated if abused to frustrate its own objects, and to prolong instead of terminating war. But not having received from you any expression of your disapproval, and being most unwilling to weaken your hands in the moment of your military success, Her Majesty's Government have page 222 decided that the Act shall for the present remain in operation. They are led to this conclusion not merely by a desire to sustain the authority of the local government, but also in no small degree by observing that no confiscation can take effect without your personal concurrence, and by the reliance which they so justly place on your sagacity, firmness, and experience, and your long-recognized regard as well for the interests of the colonists as for the fair rights and expectation of the native race.” Mr. Cardwell was wise enough to foresee that not confiscation but cession of land should be aimed at. It was desirable that the proposed appropriation of land should take the form of a cession imposed by the Governor and General Cameron upon the conquered tribes, and made by them as a condition on which Her Majesty's clemency should be extended. If this should be found impossible, the Governor might bring the Settlements Act into operation subject to reservations. The Act must be limited in duration by an amending measure. A duration of two years from the original date of enactment would afford time for inquiry as to extent, situation, and justice of the forfeiture, and yet relieve the conquered from protracted suspense, while assuring friendly natives that there was no desire to disregard the ordinary principles of law. The aggregate extent of forfeiture should be at once made known. A Commission not removable with the Ministry should inquire what lands might properly be forfeited. The Governor's concurrence in the forfeiture was not to be a mere ministerial act, but to be withheld unless he should be satisfied that the confiscation was just and moderate. “In the absence of those legal safeguards which furnish the ordinary protection of the vanquished, the Imperial and Colonial Governments were bound to adjust their proceedings to the laws of natural equity, and to the expectations which the Maoris had been encouraged or allowed to form,” so that it might be plain to them that the Europeans were “just, as well as severe.” To confiscate for European use the most valuable land, and drive the original owners to forest and morass, would convert the Maoris into desperate banditti, emerging from their fastnesses to destroy the peaceful fruits of industry. “I rely on your wisdom and justice to avert a danger so serious in its bearing on the interests of the European not less than of the page 223 native race. Turning to that part of the law which authorizes the dispossession of persons who have not been involved in the recent rebellion, I have to observe that though Her Majesty's Government admit with regret that the tribal nature of the native tenure will sometimes render it unavoidable that innocent persons should be deprived of their lands, they consider that land should not be appropriated against the will of the owners merely because it is in the same district with rebel property, and may conveniently be used for purposes of settlement, but only in cases where loyal and neutral natives are unfortunate enough to be joint owners with persons concerned in the rebellion, or because it is absolutely required for defence or communication, or on some similar ground of necessity. But every case of supposed necessity should be examined with the greatest care, and admitted with the greatest caution and reserve. … I trust that in accepting any cession, or authorizing confirmation of any forfeiture of land, you will retain in your own hands ample power of doing substantial justice to every class of claimant for restitution or compensation.” Finally, cessions having been received, the Governor would do well to accompany his justice and severity by announcing a general amnesty, excepting only the murderers of unoffending settlers, or other heinous criminals concerned in outrages to be specified in the proclamation. Subject to these cautions and conditions Her Majesty's Government would leave in the hands of Sir George Grey the power entrusted to him by the Act. In the same despatch the consent of the Imperial Government to guarantee a large portion of the New Zealand loan was announced, and a hope was expressed that by reason of General Cameron's operations, and the Colonial Administration, peace might be procured, the troops be withdrawn, and the blessings of order restored to the colony.
It has been needful to give an epitome of Mr. Cardwell's instructions, because Mr. Fox, in his ‘History of the War in New Zealand,’ denounced them as “directing things to be done which were physically impossible, and others to be attempted which were palpably absurd, and which, if attempted to be carried out, could operate in no other way than to upset the plans of the Colonial Government.” It seems not to have occurred to Mr. Whitaker and his colleagues that, if their designs were unjust or page 224 dishonouring to British fame, they deserved to be overthrown. The “natural equity” to which Mr. Cardwell appealed dwelt not within their breasts. Mr. Cardwell's announcement that he looked to the Governor, as representative of the Imperial Government, to decide the fate of prisoners of war, arrived a few weeks later, but the despatch of the 26th April made it clear that on so vital a point the Secretary of State would speak with no uncertain sound.
Sir George Grey gratefully accepted an offer made by the Ministers to surrender the prisoners to his care, (on conditions, one of which was the cost of maintenance,) and concerting his plans with the General, ordered that the prisoners should be taken charge of by the military authorities, undertaking that the Imperial Government should refund all expenses legitimately incurred by the imprisonment, and assume future responsibility. But Mr. Fox (25th June, 1864) wrote: “While, therefore, they yield to the pressure which his Excellency brings to bear upon them, Ministers felt bound to state” that the release of the prisoners as a body would be unwise. The Ministry could “only conclude that his Excellency is determined to carry out his views regardless of his responsible advisers.” Further difficulties arose. The Ministry took umbrage at the Governor's statement that one Maori had been imprisoned under a misunderstanding, and that inquiry would show that other innocent persons were in the hulk; but eventually (12th July) Sir George Grey having proposed that the prisoners should be located at Kawau, an island belonging to himself, Mr. Fox wrote: “All that Ministers can say at present is that they enter very cordially into the proposal, and will be prepared to give every assistance in their power towards carrying it into execution.”
To Kawau, an island about thirty miles from Auckland, the prison-hulk was taken on the 2nd August. The Rev. Mr. Ashwell, a missionary who had been expelled from Waikato by the Maoris, was placed there. The natives were to be allowed to cultivate the land, and their settlement was to be managed like a Moravian mission-station. By order of Mr. Russell, the Defence Minister, the military guard was withdrawn on the 2nd August. A written promise not to go away without leave was to be obtained from the prisoners. In the hurry of affairs Mr. page 225 White, of the Native Department, who had been Interpreter and Superintendent of the captives in the hulk, omitted to obtain the written promise. For some weeks all went well. On the 6th September, Mr. Fox said: “Ministers are satisfied with the arrangement lately made for the custody of the prisoners by their removal to Kawau.” He wrote thus in a document in which the Ministry protested against Mr. Cardwell's ruling, that the Governor should determine, subject to positive law, the fate of prisoners of war. They denounced any attempts to withdraw responsible government piecemeal. Sir George Grey transmitted their protest to Mr. Cardwell, with a despatch shown to his Ministers, in which he declined, while responsible for what was done, “to act as their servant to carry out that which I know to be illegal, and believe rightly or wrongly to be such as will reflect discredit upon our name.” The Ministry had not dealt with this rejoinder when Auckland was electrified by the escape of the prisoners in a body to the mainland, on the night of the 10th September. H.M.S. ‘Falcon’ arrived at Kawau the day before they escaped. Some persons said that the ball-practice in which her men were engaged was thought by the Maoris to be the beginning of the end. Rumours were rife that if war should be renewed in Waikato the prisoners were to be put on board the hulk, and sunk at sea. The sword was over the heads of all, while none knew who might be selected to be tried for offences which their enemies might call murder. In the raids made in the Auckland district, settlers had been killed in the early part of the war, and for their deaths it was known that vengeance would be exacted, notwithstanding the fact that at Rangiaohia Maori women and children had been burned. In refusing to let the prisoners know who was to be tried and who merely detained till the close of the war, the Ministry had kept the axe at the throats of all. The escape of such men constituted a danger to all Europeans. They were more than 200 in number. They might determine to sell life dearly rather than surrender. Nay, they might slaughter all they could find.
Sir George Grey was informed of the escape on the night of the 11th. On the 12th, with Mr. White, the Superintendent at Kawau, he was at the scene of escape. The fugitives had landed at Waikauri, left the boats on the shore, and marched to page 226 the ranges. They had spades, hatchets, and a few double-barrelled guns. Sir George Grey sent Mr. White with Te Oriori, two other natives, and a European, upon their path. On the 14th they were found. They received their visitors politely. Mr. White was seated in the centre of their encampment. After silence for a quarter of an hour Tapihana bade them welcome, but declared he would not go back. Te Oriori gave the Governor's message. They had done wrong. The speaker urged them to return. Other fugitives spoke. Tapihana, who mingled eager action with rapid words, admitted that the escape was a wrong; but fear was the cause of it. They concluded they were in peril when the man-of-war sailed round the island and fired. Such a thing had not happened before. They only wanted to be free. They would molest no Pakeha. They would resist force. Some appeared willing to return, but loth to do so in opposition to their comrades. Te Oriori, whose infirmity of purpose the Ministry had dreaded, showed no vacillation. He returned with Mr. White, and the refugees remained on the top of the hill Omaha. They received all visitors kindly. They were supplied by neighbouring natives with food. When they visited a shop they went in small armed parties.
The Ministry blamed the Governor. They were at the time indignant at his declining to sanction the confiscation they had proposed. Fox wrote (30th September): “A course of action on the part of his Excellency, which he has been pleased to term ‘generous’ towards the prisoners, has terminated in their escape, and in a very serious complication of the difficulties of the colony. In the mean time, while so much generosity is shown towards the Maoris taken in arms, his Excellency's sympathy is withheld from the unfortunate English colonists who have been driven from their homes and reduced to ruin; and the Colonial Government is unable to provide for their reinstatement, or to compensate them for their losses, because his Excellency declines to confiscate the lands of those who have inflicted so much misery upon them. His Excellency appeals to the judgment of posterity: he cannot mean the posterity of those who are thus left in destitution while a morbid and unaccountable sympathy is extended towards rebels, who have shown the most marked ingratitude.” The minutes which passed between the page 227 Governor and his advisers are wearisome to read. Matiu te Aranui and other chiefs became patrons of the fugitives, and enigmatically invited neighbouring tribes to send their thoughts. Old Tirarau, the Ngapuhi chief, showed the one sent to himself, and impounded others forwarded to his care, and handed them to the Government. Sir George Grey urged him not to believe false reports, nor waver in his confidence in the justice of the English. Seventy-two of the European settlers at Matakana earnestly petitioned the Government. They averred that the prisoners were building a strong pah in their immediate neighbourhood; that armed natives from all quarters were joining them, and Europeans were excluded from their fortifications. Immediate protection was asked for. The petition was received on the 8th October.
The state of New Zealand in 1864 was singular. The colonists had no enemies at the north of Auckland. There were nearly 20,000 soldiers and colonial forces under arms in the colony. Two hundred prisoners fled to the north of Auckland, settled on the top of a hill surrounded by colonists and by Maoris friendly to the English, and the Governor and Government knew not how to deal with them. So prompt and expert were they in field fortifications, so daring in battle when they had chosen their ground, that great carnage of the whites was expected from a declaration of war against the runaways.
The settlers' petition was sent to the Governor. He thought the case one in which he was bound to receive advice. Mr. Fox could see no “substantial difference between prisoners in custody and prisoners who have been admitted to parole and broke it.” The matter was very complicated, and Ministers were “at a loss what to recommend.” As a preliminary step they asked if it was “possible to capture the late prisoners by a military expedition, and if so, whether Her Majesty's naval and military force would be available for the purpose.” Sir George Grey recommended that precautions should be taken “in a manner that may draw no more attention to the Maoris at Omaha than is absolutely necessary.” He was meanwhile ascertaining their intentions. It had been suggested to him to offer the runaways a safe-conduct to Waikato. Would the Ministry consent? On the 11th October they consented. The Governor said it was page 228 doubtful whether the refugees would accept any terms, if they could hope to create war in the north, but pointed out that a pardon and promise of land at Waikato (their own country), which Ministers might “intend to assign them,” would be one method of arranging with them. “The more thoroughly just the offers to them are, the better position the Government will occupy in these matters.” Mr. Fox (12th October) was nettled at this allusion to justice. “The Ministry were wholly at a loss to understand it.” The Governor's conduct had complicated matters. His Ministers would not relieve him from responsibility, nor “share it with him; more particularly at this moment, when their resignations have been nearly a fortnight in his Excellency's hands.” They would advise on any proposal made by the Governor. “But if his Excellency wishes that land should be given to the prisoners in Waikato, Ministers have only to observe that the Government does not possess any land in Waikato, nor even if they did would they consider it just to use part of it for this purpose while their pledges to military and other settlers remain unredeemed.” Sir George Grey (12th October) replied that he thought he had done nothing to complicate matters, but he would carefully abstain from all action in the matter for the future.”… “From his own responsibilities he will neither shrink nor ask any one to share them; but his Ministers must bear theirs until they are in due course relieved from office.” He would afford them all the aid in his power. “It is a time when all energies should be united in meeting a common peril.” The plan finally agreed upon would be aided by Her Majesty's forces. On the 13th October the Ministry declaimed against such an unintelligible system of responsible government. The Governor had negotiated, had failed, and then, too late, asked for advice. Under ordinary circumstances such a course would lead to resignation of Ministers. “In the present case the resignation of Ministers has been placed in his Excellency's hands on that very ground among others, his Excellency having expressed his determination to issue a proclamation against their advice.” These bickerings neither allayed the fears of the settlers, nor removed the prisoners from their eyrie at Omaha. On the 12th October, they wrote to the Governor that they would not go back to Kawau,—would do no mischief, page 229 —but would resist force. He had heard privately that they were inviting their friends to send small vessels to carry them away.
1 Mr. Fox, though a lawyer, seems to have had no qualms as to the propriety of trying prisoners under ex post facto laws; of which class of acts Justice Story declared that their injustice and iniquity constituted an irresistible argnment against the existence of the power to pass them.
1 Captain Cooper, sent by Sir George Grey to invite the fugitives to return to Kawau and remain there on parole till the end of the war, was so indignant at the conduct of Mr. Fox in examining, in Captain Cooper's absence, a Maori clerk who had gone with him as a guide to Omaha, that he wrote a fiery letter, in which he denied that the Maoris were treacherous: “Indeed, I should consider myself much safer in the hands of the worst King-Maoris, even the Ngatiruanuis, than with such men as the Honourable Mr. Fox, who would not hesitate to stab the character of any person politically opposed to him, as he knows me to be, and as I believe he considers every honest man must be.”—N. Z. P. P. 1865; E. No. 15.
1 Te Kepa, or Kemp as he was called by the colonists, will retain his Maori name Rangihiwinui in these pages.
At Waihaha Mr. Meade saw a village nominally belonging to a friendly tribe, but peopled in the main by refugees from the Waikato territory, then laid waste by the troops. A white flag was hoisted to promise friendly reception to the visitors, where the fighting men were drawn up in fighting costume. The Maori followers of Te Poihipi landed from their canoes with a yell, and rushing forward till within 100 yards of their hosts, halted and formed in double line. The Waikato, having crouched in attitude of ambush, sprang to their feet, and in serried rank performed their war-dance, in perfect time, brandishing weapons and stamping as one man, and throwing themselves into every posture indicative of slaughter of their foes. Te Poihipi's followers took their time from him and went through the same wild ceremony. Musketry salutes were exchanged; and the two parties joined together, and indulged in their national welcome. When the ceremony was over Mr. Meade and his companions joined the circle, and were entertained with shaking of hands. Te Poihipi made an oration extolling the treaty of Waitangi, and loyalty to the Queen. Mr. Meade was struck by the pleasing countenance of a fine young chief. He was one of those who ran the gauntlet at Orakau through the English lines. Escaping thence he had joined the Arawas, and fought for the English against the Ngatiporou. He had now rejoined the Waikato exiles at Lake Taupo. Mr. Mair animadverted on his inconsistency in fighting both for and against the English cause, and Mr. Meade heard his reply: “Oh! as to that, fighting is fighting, and we young men don't care much whom it is against.” Among the exiles was a woman, Ahumai, whose husband was killed at Orakau, and who herself received there three bayonet and gun-shot wounds. Karamoa and Reihana, both captured at Orakau, and connected with the Maori king's followers, were detached by page 236 Te Poihipi to ask Te Heu Heu whether the Englishmen might pass through the native territory between Taupo and the military settlements on the Waikato. Mr. Meade had a letter from Sir George Grey to Te Heu Heu, but was to exercise his own discretion as to presenting it. Mr. Grace, on the 9th January, returned from an unsuccessful attempt to reach his old abode at Pukawa. Lowering looks encountered him, and a former teacher in his school warned him that his life would be in danger at Pukawa. A message was sent, inviting Mr. Grace without companions to his old home; and “the spies,” as Mr. Meade and his friends were deemed, were peremptorily forbidden to approach Pukawa or wander on the shore of the lake which owned allegiance to the Maori king. Te Heu Heu was absent, and the travellers awaited his return, or some tidings from Karamoa and Reihana. Te Heu Heu returned more inimical than ever, and it was felt that to send Sir George Grey's letter to him would be useless. The path of the travellers was thorny. They could not descend the Waikato valley without Te Heu Heu's help. They heard that followers of the king had arrived at Rotorua to open the way for the Ngatiporou to send re-enforcements from the east to the king. Rumour said that the king-maker was coming to Rotorua with 400 or 500 retainers. Mr. Meade's return to Tauranga in such a case was impossible, and the brave Te Poihipi and Rangihiwinui would have been overwhelmed. To try a third route to Napier was dangerous, for it led through Maori settlements devoted to the king, and war-parties were said to be in motion there. Te Poihipi objected to Mr. Meade's risking his life on the road to Napier. Three Maori chiefs had gone thitherwards for food for the party, and their failure to return caused apprehensions for their safety. Meantime, the Hau Hau fanatics gathered followers daily. Mr. Meade resolved to find a guide, and, by journeys at night and concealment by day, to dash through the hostile territory, and reach the military settlements on the Waikato river. A Pakeha Maori, connected by marriage with Rewi, was amongst Te Poihipi's friends at Taupo. His wife found a Maori guide in the person of Hemipo. Hemipo's father was an adherent to the Maori king, though the son was loyal to the Queen. Te Poihipi vainly endeavoured to dissuade Meade from taking such a guide on such an expedition.page 237
On the 27th January, the two horsemen rode from Oruanui, and to Mr. Meade's relief he found that Hemipo understood a few English words. On the same morning, long before day-break, one Ihaka, a native assessor, had ridden before them, bearing a letter warning the Hau Haus on the way that they would not be allowed to pass by Oruanui if they intended to proselytize Maoris or molest the English. Mr. Meade expected to meet the returning Ihaka, whose person was sacred in the character of herald, and to learn from him whether it was safe to proceed. The day wore on, but no herald appeared. Hemipo pointed out smoke rising from cooking fires, and said the Maoris around them were kingites; but the journey was continued without molestation to Tataroa. There the salutation “Pai Marire” told Mr. Meade that he was in the hornets' nest. But Maori courtesy demanded that he should halt to receive hospitality. Ihaka was seen standing with another Maori. Mr. Meade pointed out a red flag flying in the village, and suggested caution, but Hemipo said that as Ihaka was there, there would be no danger. The travellers rode into the open space in midst of the Maori dwellings, and came face to face, not with the usual denizens of Tataroa, but with 150 armed men, whose lowering countenances boded mischief. Hemipo gaily unsaddled his horse, as if he had arrived among friends, but adroitly managed to receive from Mr. Meade, and secrete under his coat, one of Mr. Meade's revolvers. Warm language was heard among the Hau Haus. One of them, flourishing a naval sword-bayonet, approached Mr. Meade; two others followed with guns. The Englishman had his hand on his revolver in his pocket, to make his life dear to the savages, when a powerful Maori, Aokatea sprung forward and drove the intruders back to the crowd. A ceremonial followed, preparatory to the judicial murder of the traveller. Round the Pai Marire flagstaff fanatical worship was carried on. Mr. Meade wondered at his privilege in seeing mysteries he had thought hidden from white men, but learned afterwards that, as he was doomed beforehand, there was no objection to his initiation. He was, indeed, an essential element in the rite. Te Aokatea, who had driven back Mr. Meade's assailant, was high-priest, and wished the infuriating ceremonies to be duly performed before touching the victim. Ihaka told page 238 afterwards that the Hau Haus anticipated Mr. Meade's journey, which had been thought concealed; that they had even threatened the sacred person of the Maori herald, and that he had no opportunity of returning to warn Mr. Meade of danger. There was a crumb of comfort in the fact that one chief, Paora Taki, had made an oration urging that Mr. Meade ought not to be molested, because the Hau Hau ought not to offend the tribes through whose territory they desired to pass in their own expedition. Paora Taki's speech was finished just as the arrival of the Pakeha was announced. On the prophet's flagstaff floated high the war-flag, a red pendant with white cross. Beneath, a black and blue large flag, with a red border, bore on the black part near the staff another white cross. Another red pendant with a St. Andrew's cross hung lower still. Mr. Meade and Hemipo sat apart under guard, and Ihaka was near them. Te Aokatea went through the process which was believed to procure inspiration. He yelled, he spoke—sometimes in English, sometimes in what was called French, or Hebrew—he made obeisance to the staff, to the east, west, north, and south, accompanying his genuflexions with Pai Marire words. At a signal, the seated tribes and dele— gates sprang up and marched round the staff, chanting responses to the priest, and pointing their weapons to the sky. The striking scenery around, the flags waving against the dark foliage in the background, the varied dresses and weapons, the fervent fanaticism gleaming from excited faces, the chorus of powerful voices rising in excellent time in that far forest, vividly impressed Mr. Meade, who noted the smallest particulars. The prophet's flag having been duly honoured by the congregation, a runanga was held to decide on the fate of the travellers. Immediate execution of both was urged by some. Mr. Meade was deemed a spy. Then Hemipo rose to address his countrymen in a cool and careless way, playing with his riding-whip as though addressing friends at home, in a manner which extorted Mr. Meade's admiration. Moralists more punctilious than Escobar would excuse Hemipo for his rhetorical artifices. Mr. Meade, he said, had nothing to do with army or navy, was only visiting the country for personal pleasure, and wanted to make a quick passage overland so as to reach his ship at Auckland before she sailed. His gentlemanly air showed as little insincerity as his page 239 demeanour implied fear. After speaking for Mr. Meade he referred to himself and his father's friendly relations with some of his auditors. Then Te Aokatea rose and savagely denounced the Pakeha intruder. No knowledge of Maori language was needed to enable Mr. Meade to distinguish friends from foes. As the discussion raged and death seemed certain, he took comfort from seeing that Hemipo was as ready to take lives with the revolver as he had been to tell lies as an orator. While Mr. Meade was reflecting thus, and the Maori executioner stood by his side waiting to smite with the tomahawk, Ahumai, the widow wounded at Orakau, whom the Englishman had seen at Waihaha a fortnight before, rose up from the crowd, slowly walked across the square, and sat by the captive's feet, as a token that he was entitled to hospitality. Thenceforward the fanatics relented; and it was finally agreed to dismiss the prisoners, because it was unwise to provoke the Arawa (through whose territory the Hau Haus wished to march) by killing a guest of that tribe. At last it was decided that the travellers should return whence they came. As they saddled their horses a Maori whispered aside to Hemipo. A reaction was taking place amongst the Hau Haus. Mr. Meade had hardly time to reflect whether Hemipo was called in order that the Englishman might be shot without risk to the Maori, when Hemipo bid him mount, as some rascally kingites wanted to kill him. To place several miles between the horse-men and Tataroa was the work of a few minutes, and after resting their horses in the shelter of the forest, the travellers reached Oruanui at night, where Hemipo narrated the day's incidents to eager listeners. Ihaka returned at a later hour, with a letter asking free passage through the territory, and stating in a postscript as a reason for granting the request, the safe return accorded to Mr. Meade. It was granted. Mr. Meade rode safely to Napier. The Hau Haus made converts as they passed, and though they did not attack the villages of tribes friendly to the English, their influence spread so fast that the Government, unable to protect its allies, invited them to retire to Rotorua, which they did with heavy hearts Nevertheless, Mr Meade's journey was not deemed fruitless. When, on his death, his journal was published, it was accompanied by a letter from Sir George Grey, stating that very great benefits resulted page 240 from the expedition to Lake Taupo, which Mr. Meade and Mr. Brenchley so successfully carried out. Poihipi and Hemipo will reappear in a stirring event in the story of New Zealand, which followed on the fuller development of Hau Hau fanaticism than that which Mr. Meade saw. Read by the lurid glare which surrounds the murders of Volkner and Fulloon, the narrative of Meade is terrible in its reality.
It is time to turn to Mr. Whitaker's policy on confiscation which led to his resignation. Already Mr. Fox's justification of it has been noticed, and his desire to promulgate the opinion of the Ministry that nothing could be more pernicious than to allow the Maoris to retain rights which the Queen had guaranteed. While General Cameron was arranging at Ngaruawahia in January, 1864, for the advance of the troops up the Waipa river, and planning the Tauranga campaign, the Government decided to promulgate a notice calling on all who had been in arms against the Queen to take the oath of allegiance and surrender their weapons. Those who had been with the enemy, but had not fought, were to do likewise, but in doing so would not obtain rest. “All the peace that is conceded to them at the present time is this: That they will be allowed to remain unmolested, and they will not hereafter be brought to trial unless they are found to have taken part in murders, plunder, or other evil acts. Let this, however, be borne in mind,—the disposal of their lands rests with the Governor.” As part of the English system of warfare was wholesale plunder and destruction of Maori homesteads and cultivations, and as Maori burial-places were rifled without remorse, it was hard for Maoris to understand the principles on which it was to be decided whether their own acts were evil.
The campaign in Waikato having been concluded by the evacuation of Maungatautari in April, and various chiefs having surrendered their arms, a proclamation was drawn up in which the surrender of arms was ordered to be made by the 1st July, after which date it would entitle the surrenderer to no benefits. Sir George Grey signed a draft of the proclamation on the 30th April, but dissented from the fixing of a date after which no surrender should be beneficial; and his dissent caused the proclamation to be held back after voluminous discussions. In page 241 requesting (11th May) that it might be regarded as revoked, the Governor, speaking of the ministerial theory that all Maoris who had fought against the Queen's troops had forfeited all their land, said that the question concerned the whole future destiny of the Maori nation. The Governor might by a few words, unwisely put forth, reduce generations to misery, and cut off from their inheritance the offspring of many loyal Englishmen. Mr. Whitaker replied: “In his zeal for the Maori the Governor appears to forget the European colonists.” The Governor's doubts whether the Settlements Act was intended to be an Act for general confiscation were needless; and there could be “no question that the Assembly is already committed to give further effect to it if it were necessary.” To the Governor's request that the proclamation might be regarded as revoked, Mr. Whitaker replied: “It requires no revocation, as it never received his Excellency's signature.” While thus disputing about principles neither the Governor nor the Ministry ventured upon details. The enormity of their demands made the latter anxious to conceal them until they could bind the Governor to accept them.
In the end of June the report of the two prisoners who had been allowed to visit Rewi and the king-maker, led to the belief that those chiefs desired that the Waikato war should be regarded as at an end. “Welcome, my brothers!—welcome to Waikato; to the river only, to the mountains only. There are no men; the only men left are those in prison and yourselves. Come; but I do not know whether you have been sent by the Government. If you have been sent in peace, give me the letter that we may know that you have been sent. My opinion is that you have run away. Take away with you the war, and Waikato river; and Waikato land take with you too. Had you brought a letter, we should have sent a letter; but as you are the Governor's letter, you must also be my letter.” Such was the speech of Rewi. The king-maker and others spoke in similar strain. Six hundred and forty Maoris agreed. There seemed some prospect of peace if the Colonial Government would be wise. In the end of June also, Mr. Cardwell's despatch, instructing the Governor that his concurrence with proposed confiscation was to be no perfunctory matter, was received. Mr. Fox's contemptuous page 242 opinion of the despatch has been noted. The Ministry thought its publication might strengthen them, and asked that it might be published. Their supporters, it was hoped, might be indignant. The Governor did not object, and the despatch was published on the 30th June.
The location of military settlers was a parallel line of contention between the Ministry and the Governor. In April they proposed to locate the 2nd Waikato Regiment, under Colonel Haultain, in the Waikato district, on a line between Pirongia and Maungatautari. Sir George Grey asked for precise information as to the posts to be occupied and the force to be placed at each. The Ministers said they were to be on the line of the Puniu river, which would include Te Awamutu (from which Rewi had expelled Mr. Gorst) and Kihikihi, Rewi's old abode. Each detachment should contain about 100 men. The precise points must be chosen by the military authorities, but the land must be eligible for settlement. The Governor declared that as Commander-in-Chief he was entrusted with the power which the Ministry wished him to cede to the General. They explained that they did not wish to interfere in questions as to the relative functions of the Governor and the General. As to choosing sites for forts they felt it was not their duty. Then it appeared that wider differences than the position of military posts were involved. The Governor disapproved of the ministerial plan, and circuitously strove to exhibit its effect. Before giving orders to locate the 2nd Waikato Regiment at the Puniu river he wished to learn where the other Waikato Regiments were to be located, and over what total extent of country they were to be spread. His Ministers were not prepared to gratify him. “The time had not arrived (11th May) when it was possible definitely to determine.” On the 17th May, they submitted to him a draft Order in Council, which he declined to sign because it defined, under the Settlements Act, “a district not of one tribe, or of a section of a tribe, but of many tribes, regarding some of whom no evidence had been placed before the Governor to show him that a considerable number of the members of such tribes have been engaged in rebellion. He ought not therefore to say that he is satisfied that they have been engaged in rebellion, and page 243 perhaps to do them an irreparable injury with his successors, who would from his knowledge of the natives assume that he well knew what he was doing.” (The wording of the Settlements Act enabled the Governor in Council to declare districts under the Act whenever he “shall be satisfied that any tribe, or section of a tribe, or any considerable number thereof, has, since 1st January, 1863, been engaged in rebellion against Her Majesty's authority.”) “Upon the whole, the Governor would prefer a district being in the first instance defined which would embrace a considerable part of the territory of the Waikato and Ngatimaniapoto tribes, who have been engaged in the rebellion.” The Ministry, on the 30th May, “deferred to his Excellency's preference,” and prepared an Order in Council defining the boundaries proposed, but urged that the location of the military settlers should be disposed of as soon as possible, as expenditure was being incurred which “the Colonial Government would not have the means of meeting.”
1 The Royal Instructions required that minutes shonld “be read over, confirmed, or amended,” as the case might require.
1 Yet in 1879 one of them, Mr. Fox, published a statement incompatible with Whitaker's. “As the war was none of my making, so the confiscation was not prepared by me. Both were the work of Sir George Grey and his Ministers, and not of me. My Maori friends will see that… I had nothing to do with it” (‘New Zealand Hansard,’ 22nd July, 1879).
In May the Secretary of State announced that the Act for compulsory taking of land for public purposes by Provincial Legislatures could not be recommended for allowance by the Crown unless amended so as to exclude native possessions from its operation. This announcement reached New Zealand in July, and with it arrived a separate despatch enclosing observations made in London by Mr. Gorst, who deprecated such wholesale confiscation as would tend to render the Maoris desperate and keep them permanently in arms. He wrote page 248 strongly in praise of the Ngatihaua and Waikato tribes, from whom he had received many acts of kindness. He described their great villages and hamlets as if still “dotted about the country, surrounded by their patches of cultivated land. The whole district is occupied and used; it bears marks of having been enriched and improved by the labour of its inhabitants. Good fences have been erected; Rangiaohia, for instance, is surrounded by a fence many miles in circuit; roads are made in various directions; bridges have been thrown over impassable swamps; and a good many mill-dams have been constructed.”
1 Mr. Fox in his own retort unwittingly made an absolute mis-statement. He averred that the song sent to Taranaki, in 1863, to stir up the natives to commit the murders at Oakura, “and which became the tocsin of the rebellion, was composed for the occasion by a Middle Waikato man.” Unhappily for Mr. Fox the song had been printed in 1850 by Sir George Grey in a collection of ancient New Zealand songs.—Sir George Grey. Despatch, 30th August, 1846.
From the Tamaki Portage, near Auckland, across the Frith of Thames, and round Cape Colville, thence by a line-including the fringe of the sea to Tauranga, “thence through that harbour to Urumingi, thence to Arowhena, thence to Hangatiki, thence to the mouth of the Awaroa river on the Kawhia harbour, thence along the west coast to the Manukau harbour, and thence to the Tamaki Portage.” Such was the line. Every man within it who had borne arms against the Queen was to sign a declaration to submit to her law, and to give up his arms, or satisfy Mr. Whitaker's subordinates that he had none. The rape of Waitara, which Mr. Fox opposed, was a petty theft in comparison to the larger deeds which would be done under the Order in Council prepared by Mr. Whitaker for the Governor's signature on the 17th May. The Order declared that the Governor in Council was “satisfied that the native tribes, or sections of tribes, or considerable numbers thereof in the district,” had (after 1st January, 1863) been engaged in rebellion. page 250 The line exempted the Ngatiwhatua and more northern tribes, but subjected the Waikato, the Ngatimaniapoto, the Ngatiraukawa, the Ngatimaru, the Ngaiterangi, the Ngatipaoa, the Ngatitai, the Ngatihaua, and various sub-tribes or hapus, who had friends and blood-relations south of the line which ran from Kawhia by Hangatiki to Tauranga. Eight millions of acres would have been gathered within it. The Governor said he was not satisfied in the manner required by the Act: he would not mix innocent tribes with the guilty; he would not proclaim millions of acres as liable to penalties which in his opinion ought to fall only on territories of single tribes, or sections of tribes. Then followed the scene on the 28th May, concerning which the testimony of the Clerk of the Council has been cited. As the Ministers (by their admission) declined to define their policy on confiscation, the Governor directed the Clerk to retain the Orders already signed, and not to allow them to be issued until the Governor had approved the Regulations.
Mr. Whitaker, a few months later, wrote: “It is possible that his Excellency has not understood the subject himself, and that the confusion of ideas which pervades his ‘Memorandum’ is the candid reflex of his mind.… The conclusions arrived at by his Excellency—as to the proposals of his Ministers being contrary to law and equity, contrary to his duty to the Imperial Government, and not in accordance with the responsibilities imposed by the presence and aid of the British forces, and the expenditure of large sums of British money—are entirely without foundation… a just, satisfactory, and permanent peace has been indefinitely postponed by the vacillation and indecision of his Excellency.” Had Sir George Grey vacillated in deference to Mr. Whitaker, he would perhaps have been falsely credited with courage. It was certainly galling to intriguers to find their hopes dashed after the coveted Orders had been signed. To succeed in a trick and not to reap its reward is intolerable. The Orders thus blighted in the bud were framed to obviate the Governor's reluctance to confound the guilty with innocent owners. One confiscated a separate block at Tauranga. Another comprised an irregular block running along the valleys of the Waipa and Waikato rivers, from Maungatawhiri, and reaching Hangatiki. No estimate was arrived at as to the quantity of page 251 land which would be required for settlement and sale. The Ministry having failed in their project, and Mr. Cardwell's celebrated despatch of the 26th April having arrived, it was thought advisable to strengthen their position against the Governor by putting forward an opinion given by the Bishop of Waiapu (W. Williams), who, commenting on the suggestion of the Aborigines' Protection Society, that peace should be obtained by negotiation, expressed his conviction that only by some confiscation could the Maoris be made to feel the evils of their courses. This indeed was the deliberate statement of the Governor himself.
The Bishop's letter (15th April) to Mr. Fox was used in such a manner that he thought it necessary to write another declaring that he only advocated “confiscation upon such principles as will commend themselves to our Government at home and to the Christian public.” In the notice to natives to surrender arms “and take the oath of allegiance, but that their lands are in the hands of the Governor, there is nothing to assure and encourage them that their case is not desperate.… I beg to submit that some definite terms should be laid down to the natives, particularly in reference to the land which may be left to them.” Mr. Fox, who, in reply to Sir William Martin, thought it injurious to leave natives in possession of unused land, audaciously wrote to the Bishop (4th July)—”The Ministry do not believe that there is any material difference between your opinion and theirs on the subject.” Having made an assumption so unwarrantable, Fox thought it advisable to send it to England. “His Lordship's opinion is entitled to so much weight, that perhaps his Excellency will excuse the suggestion, that the correspondence should be forwarded to the Secretary of State.” On the 29th July, the Governor asked the Ministry to inform the Bishop of the extent of confiscation they proposed, and their construction of the term Rebel Natives, “in order that his Lordship, who is now in town, may state whether, in expressing his opinion, he intended to advocate a confiscation of that nature and extent.” The Ministry gave no reply. On the 25th August, they were asked for one. Mr. Fox then declared that they were of opinion that it would be inconvenient to communicate “their plans to persons not members of the page 252 Government,” that the Bishop could have no special knowledge or experience, and “Ministers would not attach much importance to his opinion (probably formed entirely from a native point of view) upon the details of the Government plans.” In other words, Mr. Fox would entrap the Bishop into what might be used as an approval of plans the nature of which he would not allow the Bishop to know. Sir George Grey sent all the correspondence to England, where, with such an exposure of its composition it could do no harm, and Mr. Cardwell merely acknowledged its receipt.
Bearing in mind what had occurred on the subjects of the escaped prisoners, and confiscation of lands, it is startling to find that, on the 2nd August, 1864, in commenting on Mr. Cardwell's despatches, laying down principles for the Governor's guidance as to confiscation and negotiation for peace1—the Ministry told Sir George Grey: “Practically no difference of opinion as yet exists between his Excellency and his advisers, and they trust it may not arise.” As, however, after publication of the despatches, “a feeling had arisen in the colony” that Mr. Cardwell intended to “subvert the existing arrangement as to the administration of native affairs in some matters,” the Ministry protested “without delay against the introduction of a new form of Government,” partly administered by the Governor, and partly by his advisers.
1 26th May, 1864. Mr. Cardwell: “It is my duty to say to you plainly, that if, unfortunately (your Ministers') opinions should be different from your own as to the terms of peace, Her Majesty's Government expect you to act on your own judgment,” &c.
1 Such seems the only result either in justice, or logically, of forfeiture of a tribal right. The contention of Whitaker and Fox was of course outside of the domain of logic, law, or justice. It was, I believe, reserved for the sagacity of Sir Arthur Gordon to suggest a modus vivendi by which the rapacious acts done before he became Governor in New Zealand might be partially reconciled with justice—viz. that on confiscation of rights of a Maori, the confiscating authority should become seized of the confiscated tribal rights of their victim without destroying those of his tribesmen. Though such a position may be defended with subtlety, and is a large abstinence from the cynical rapine put in force by New Zealand Ministries, it is manifest that the entry of the local government into tribal rights by an act of force exercised by that government opens the door to iniquity which the cupidity of the moving spirits in New Zealand has never restrained. The three theories are sufficiently distinct. One holds that an honourable regard for the treaty of Waitangi demands that every man's tribal rights shall be respected absolutely. This cannot be the case if he be compelled against his will to accept the Government as joint owner. The Whitaker-Fox theory was not only that the Maori must be robbed of his land in defiance of the express words of the treaty, but that it was of no use to rob the guilty unless at the same time the innocent were robbed. Sir Arthur Gordon's contention would limit the acquired rights of the confiscating Government to the extent and to the quality of the rights of the assumed traitor.
In the end of August a crisis was approaching. General Cameron had been consulted on the demand of the Ministry for a frontier line (partly maintained by the Queen's troops) from Raglan or Kawhia to Tauranga. He saw great objections to the plans for an expedition in winter against the tribes at Matamata and Peria, and for what appeared like a winter campaign at Taranaki. As the Ministry seemed to cling to their own ideas of strategy, Sir George Grey told him (30th August) that— “If he had not determined not to act upon the advice Ministers tendered him, that operations should be followed up at Tauranga in the manner they proposed, the aspect of affairs in New Zealand would have borne at this time a very disastrous character.” The king-maker's people were at Matamata and Peria, and the Ministry thirsted with more than common thirst for his destruction, although Mr. Mackay, the Civil Commissioner of the Thames district, had reported on the 16th August: “It does not appear to me that the natives intended to be otherwise than friendly towards the Government unless some military operations take place at Matamata or Peria, in which case if the hostile natives were driven down into their country they would assist them, and retreat to the wooded spurs of the Aroha ranges, a position, from its inaccessible and rugged nature, they could occupy and maintain with a very small force against highly superior numbers.” The Ministry sneered at Mr. Mackay as having been duped; but in September they had strained their powers so far that they had given way. The Maori prisoners had been transferred to the island of Kawau in August, and Mr. Fox had recorded his protest against Mr. Cardwell's theory page 255 that, subject to law, the Governor was the arbiter of their fate. The inability of the Ministry to deal justly or generously with negotiations for peace, or with cession of lands, threw the responsibility upon the Governor, and on the 7th September he sent to his advisers a draft of a proclamation drawn in compliance with Mr. Cardwell's instructions, in order to give the natives an opportunity of submission before the resumption of warlike operations. He offered free and absolute pardon to all who might “come in on or before the 22nd October, take the oath of allegiance, and make cession of such territory as may in each instance be fixed by the Governor and Lieutenant-General.” The pardon would not be extended to persons engaged in certain murders which were to be specified. The Ministers agreed to the issue of the proclamation with provisoes. Arms were to be given up, except where the Governor might deem their retention necessary to defend their owners against rebels still in arms. Mr. Whitaker required the Governor's assurance that the cessions would be of the required extent, and that if not availed of by the day fixed in the proclamation the terms should lapse, and forfeiture should without further delay supersede the proposed cession. The Governor would not give the assurance required. The Ministry sought to acquire territory to defray war expenses, or to be devoted to military settlements. He, on the other hand, viewed the cession as a punishment inflicted to deter others from rebellion, and proportionate in each case to the guilt of the tribes involved. He could not take a man's land more largely than justice would warrant merely because it might be wished to plant settlements upon it. He recalled the reasons which prevented the issue of a proclamation in May, requiring the surrender of arms, and which were still cogent. Mr. Whitaker declined (13th September) to acquiesce in the proclamation. Rebels were from time to time surrendering in considerable numbers, and the Government ought not to vacillate. The Governor misunderstood the ministerial view of acquisition of territory. “Ministers explicitly declared that the contemplated cession should include the objects (named by him), not that they were the only ones sought.” Their memorandum was lengthy. The Governor replied to it at almost equal length on the following day. He had not accepted advice from page 256 Ministers on several occasions, because he would not drive a nation to despair. If the Ministry had intended to oppose conformity with Mr. Cardwell's despatch, Sir George Grey thought they ought not to have published it. For his part he concurred in the justice of the instructions therein. He unhesitatingly appealed “to his country and to posterity to judge between his views and those of his responsible advisers, and to pronounce whether when a man has come to a decision amidst so many and great difficulties, his responsible advisers ought not to refrain from clouding his judgment, and trying to force him to a decision he does not approve, by using such language as their memorandum contains. If upon reconsideration his responsible advisers still refuse to acquiesce in the proclamation submitted to them, as the Governor, for the reasons he has stated, considers it to be his duty, sorry as he is to differ in opinion with them, to adhere to his intention of issuing it; he begs to be informed what course they intend to pursue.”
The escape of the prisoners from Kawau might delay the issue until the effect of that escape on the Maoris might be ascertained, but he wished for an early reply. On the 20th September, the mail from England brought information that Mr. Reader Wood's negotiation for the New Zealand loan had failed to procure more than a very small instalment, and even that at a low minimum. Out of £1,000,000 offered, only £5000 were tendered for at £90, on the first day. On the 22nd September, the Ministry wrote a portentously long minute, in which they requested to be relieved from office “if his Excellency adheres to his intention of issuing the objectionable proclamation.” Sir George Grey before deciding to accept their resignations determined to acquaint himself with the financial condition of the colony. They had averred that the demand for land had not been vague. It was “not a quantity to be measured by any man's opinions, but a given rule easily applied, which would leave nothing to be determined by thoughts and opinions, and in strict accordance with the instructions from England and the views of the General Assembly.” The Governor asked what was the given rule so easily applied. They told him with equal curtness that each military settler was entitled to a certain number of acres, that a similar rule would apply to each page 257 immigrant from Great Britain, and that there would be no difficulty in determining the moderate quantity required for sale. He asked for an approximate estimate, and at last obtained from them what for months he had besought in vain. On the 30th September, they formulated their demands as to quantity, but not situation, of land required by confiscation. In Auckland, military settlers would require 360,000 acres; emigrants from England, 240,000 acres; for sale would be required, 400,000. In Taranaki, military settlers would need 180,000 acres; emigrants from England, 120,000 acres; for sale would be required 300,000 acres. The total of 1,600,000 acres was less than had been proposed in the Assembly, but Ministers had “made the modification for the purpose of avoiding any imputation even of prolonging the war for the acquisition of territory.” The sudden readiness to give information was due to an interview between Mr. Reader Wood (the Treasurer, who had returned from England), and Sir George Grey, on the 29th September. Mr. Wood in a letter from England (written in July), had complained of attacks made in the ‘Times’ newspaper upon the Colonial Government and the colonists, “accusing them of closing all avenues to peace, and of employing the British troops to fight—not in a war of defence, but in a war of aggrandisement, and for the purpose of wresting land from the natives by force.” Mr. Wood, arriving from England in September, and discussing the subject, was told that the opposition of the Ministry to the proclamation of pardon to the natives was calculated to close the avenues of peace. Mr. Wood suggested that the Ministry should retire. On the 30th September, they tendered their resignations. They were, therefore, practically out of office when they consented to inform the Governor, even approximately, how much land they wished to confiscate. He thanked them, and asked if they would oblige him by showing approximately the boundaries of the required lands. They were unable to do so, “even approximately.… It was not intended to take the land required in one block, but in several, of which some would have been small; and as to others there is not sufficient information to determine even the precise localities.” No man of ordinary intelligence could have supposed that such a seizure of land could fail to foster enmity and suspicion among the Maori owners who were to be ejected, page 258 but who, even at the last moment, knew not which of them were to be sufferers. Again appealed to, they sent a tracing in which they designated 340,000 acres surrounding Taranaki, a rectangular block of 564,000 acres extending from Waimate to Waitotara, and an irregular block widening from Drury to the south so as to include the valleys of the Waipa and Waikato and reaching nearly to Hangatiki. But they furnished this approximate description on the distinct understanding that neither their successors nor the Assembly were to be prejudiced by their act. The Governor was unwilling to seek new advisers until he had obtained accurate information as to the financial position of the colony. He asked for it on the day on which his Ministers had formally resigned. They replied: “Ministers do not understand that it is the duty of his Excellency or themselves to furnish information as to the financial position of the colony to any person who may profess a willingness to accept office; indeed they foresee probable evil consequences as the result of such a circumstance to men not under responsibility.” They would, however, furnish the Governor with information. Outstanding debts amounted to more than £1,400,000, of which half-a-million was due to the Imperial Government, and was to be paid out of the proceeds of that portion of the loan for three millions which the Imperial Government might guarantee. The monthly expenditure exceeded the monthly income. The Government had drawn nearly three-quarters of a million sterling against debentures, for a million and a quarter, held in London for sale or hypothecation. Nevertheless, the Ministry declared (3rd and 6th October) that they saw “no financial difficulty whatever if the plan of settlement and confiscation be carried out as authorized by the General Assembly and sanctioned by the Imperial Government, nothwithstanding the failure of the immediate negotiation of the loan.” They added that in consequence of that failure they would have advised an immediate reduction of war expenditure had they remained in office. Mr. Cardwell's despatch (26th April) on confiscation or cession, when shown to Mr. Reader Wood in England, elicited his warm concurrence. He recorded it in writing: “I take this opportunity of stating, formally and officially, that which I have previously had the honour of stating to Mr. Secretary Cardwell personally, that page 259 there is nothing in the instructions of April 26th to Sir George Grey that does not represent the views of the Colonial Government in practically carrying into effect the policy of confiscation authorized by the Legislature in the New Zealand Settlements Act.… On my own behalf, therefore, and that of my colleagues I can give to Mr. Cardwell a full assurance that the Local Government will certainly co-operate with Sir George Grey in carrying out that just and temperate policy towards the native race embodied in the New Zealand Settlements Act as limited in its operation by his instructions of April 26th.” Mr. Wood was in no doubt as to Mr. Cardwell's meaning, for he wrote to his colleagues (with regard to the requirement that “a measure should be at once submitted to limit the duration of the Act to a definite period,” &c.), that he asked Mr. Cardwell whether he wished the Parliament to be at once assembled ad hoc, and Mr. Cardwell replied: “Two years are given during which the Crown has the power of disallowing; if within that time I find that the Parliament will agree to carry out the Act in the manner I have suggested, and to limit its duration to a definite period, the power of disallowance will not be exercised; if not, it will.” When reminded of this statement, Mr. Whitaker did not shrink from retorting that the Ministry agreed with Mr. Wood's words, and were ready to repeat them, but that “what Mr. Wood did say had no reference whatever to cession but to confiscation;” although Mr. Cardwell's announcement of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government declared: “It is in their opinion very much to be desired that the proposed appropriation of land should take the form of a cession imposed by yourself and General Cameron upon the conquered tribes.”
The reader who bears in mind Mr. Fox's denunciation of Mr. Cardwell's despatch as utterly mischievous, must be anxious to escape from the crooked windings in which it has been necessary to follow the course of the Whitaker Ministry; who soon after this audacious statement quitted office. On the 8th October, they informed the Governor that they thought that all war expenditure from colonial sources should be stopped, and that the General Assembly ought to be summoned at a date not later than 15th November. Sir George Grey replied, that in view of the financial position he had come to the conclusion that he page 260 could not form a new Ministry in time to meet emergencies, and that the proper course would be to summon the Assembly. He at once acquiesced with their advice. They had also urged him to bring the Settlements Act into operation, but he understood Mr. Cardwell's instructions and his conversation with the Treasurer as implying that the Act ought not to be brought into operation until there had been a failure to obtain cessions of land in the manner proposed by the Governor's proclamation. He would undertake that the natives making them should do so as defeated rebels, and would conclude no arrangements without considering the opinions of his advisers. He did not ask the Ministry to acquiesce in his proclamation or be responsible, but wished it to be inserted in the ‘Gazette’ at the time chosen by himself. Mr. Whitaker replied that the proclamation should be inserted. On the 24th October, the Governor forwarded it in terms similar to those in the draft rejected in September by his advisers; but extending the day of grace to the 10th December instead of the 22nd October. At his request they added a list of exemptions from pardon of all persons (unnamed) engaged in the commission of murders which were found by juries to have been committed by some person or persons of the native race. The catalogue included 29 cases. The proclamation, signed on the 25th, was issued on the 26th October. None of the Ministry countersigned it. The General and the Commodore concurred with it, and regretted that it had been so long delayed. The king-maker wrote to the Governor. He was almost alone in Waikato. The war preparations had drawn the tribes to Taranaki. “Extend to me,” he said, “the days from the 10th December even unto the end of February. My great desire is to have to the end of April, but I presume you would not grant my request, and therefore only ask to the end of February.” Let the chiefs assemble to consider the proclamation. For himself, the suspension of hostilities he had agreed to at Ngaruawahia, still continued. “I gave my word then. You keep Waikato. I will not fight there. My word is the same now. The words which I now leave for the assembling together of Waikato are:—1. The land. 2. The murders. 3. The guns and powder.” The Ministry affected to believe that the king-maker had become a Hau Hau, but the Civil Commissioner page 261 reported that in conversation with him the king-maker expressed great contempt for the new superstition. Mr. Fox, nevertheless, retorted that however remarkable a man Te Waharoa might be, and undoubtedly was, Mr. Fox had a painful impression that his sincerity and truthfulness were not to be relied upon. The Ministry continued to advise the Governor on such subjects as accommodation of immigrants, and location of troops in Waikato.
The removal of the seat of Government to Cook's Straits as resolved on by the General Assembly had been an open question with the Ministry. Odium was dreaded by a provincial statesman if he should be candid enough to confess that any site was eligible except one in his own province. The Governor was personally entrusted with the negotiations under which Commissioners were appointed. Mr. Joseph Docker of New South Wales; Sir Francis Murphy of Victoria; and Mr. Ronald C. Gunn of Tasmania, after due examination, handed their report on the 3rd October to the Superintendent at Nelson, who on the 10th transmitted it to Auckland. They unanimously recommended Wellington as the best site. Their report was received at Auckland by Mr. Fox on the 14th October. When the Governor informed his advisers that he concurred with them in thinking that the Assembly ought to be convened, they asked him on the 10th October if he had received the report of the Commissioners. He said he had not. On the 11th, they transmitted to him a proclamation calling the Assembly together at Wellington. On the 12th, they requested him to give his consent, before five o'clock on that day, to the proclamation. On the 12th, he said he had been quite taken by surprise by their sudden choice of Wellington. Auckland would be injured by so unexpected a removal. Threatened as it was by a financial crisis, and by renewal of war, it deserved consideration, and he must take time to deliberate on a matter thus suddenly and without previous consultation thrust upon him. The escaped prisoners had been but a month on their hill-top at Omaha, and it was not known whether they were planning war, or would be supported by other tribes. The Ministry were engaged in considering the supplication from Europeans at Omaha for help in their peril. On the 13th, a petition signed by more than 1500 inhabitants of Auckland deprecated the page 262 sudden removal of the General Assembly at so critical a conjuncture. On the 17th, the Ministry were willing to allow the Governor to fix the place of meeting, but as he declined to do so, they advised on the 18th that it should meet at Auckland on the 21st November. There was no circumstance, technical or serious, on which the relations between the Governor and his advisers were allowed to work without needless friction. Mr. Fitzgerald declared that the colonists were living under a “Memorandummiad.” Ministers began to be weary of their vain work. They complained of the “already enormous file of despatches and minutes.” “In the hands of the Governor is all the power; he alone can move troops. He alone can confiscate; he alone has the fate of prisoners in his hands. Ministers are really powerless.” Yet though their views were “diametrically opposed” to his, he would not accept their resignations. The Whitaker Ministry had indeed been useless for good, but men are more powerful for evil than for good. If a generous and prompt policy had been adopted towards the prisoners and the vanquished, the whole aspect of the colony might have been changed. But the prisoners had been kept in torturing suspense, their friends in arms were partners in anxiety, and the Hau Hau fanatics had been aided in adding fuel to the fires of disaffection. The coast between Wanganui and Taranaki was the hot-bed of wild passions, and exiles from Waikato had flocked thither to swell the rebel bands. Even the tardy proclamation of pardon in September might have arrested the troubling of the waters, but the Ministry had withheld their consent. They would neither do good themselves nor allow others to do it. To crown their disgust a despatch (August) from Mr. Cardwell arrived in October. Commenting on the differences between the Ministers and the Governor, it declared that Mr. Reader Wood “was distinctly told that his acceptance of my proposal for a guaranteed loan would be regarded by Her Majesty's Government as an assurance on his own part and that of his colleagues of their desire cordially to co-operate with you in that just and temperate policy towards the native race; and his reply, which was laid before Parliament, was perfectly satisfactory and complete in this respect.” It told the Governor that in using every legitimate means to give page 263 effect to the instructions of the 26th April, he might count upon the cordial support of the English Government. On these and other points the Ministry continued to compile minutes, of which there seemed no end, until the 23rd November, the day before which the Assembly was to meet. The Governor's last memorandum briefly urged that he had endeavoured to act constitutionally, and that he was “satisfied that larger experience in public affairs of the kind which have recently been transacted in this colony, will lead his present advisers ultimately to admit that such is the case, and to withdraw their present opinions, and to regret that they have often expressed themselves in language of such unusual strength.”
1 The military always evinced a better feeling than was shown by those whose battles they were fighting. Lieutenant-Colonel Carey, C.B., published a ‘Narrative of the Late War in New Zealand’ (London: Bentley, 1863). He said, p. 189: “Many more would have returned to their allegiance but from fear of the colonists, who treated even the friendly tribes with the greatest brutality.… The prisoners we took had to be most carefully guarded, not so much to prevent escape, as to save them from the un-English and unmanly attacks of the Europeans, who, when they could do so with safety, treated them with the greatest indignities. Widely different was the behaviour of the soldiers.…”