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Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris


Sir W. Fitzherbert's general testimony as to several of the chiefs who signed the above manifesto has been given at page 91.

When Wi Tako Ngatata died in 1887, and the Legislative Council adjourned in consequence, Dr. Grace, a member who had served in the English army in New Zealand, said: (Legislative Council. Thursday, 10th. November 1887.)

“I wish to say that I find it impossible to avoid taking advantage of this opportunity of saying a few words with reference to the distinguished chief who has passed away. Sir, it is impossible for me to consider the disappearance of a man like Wi Tako Ngatata from our midst without giving expression to the boundless feeling of admiration I entertain for men of his type. I say, Sir, that if we have not sufficient greatness of soul to set the proper value on the services rendered to this colony by men like Wi Tako Ngatata we have not been worthy of the services which they have been rendered,—we are not worthy of the security which we enjoy, and owe so largely to their services. There was a time when Wi Tako held the balance of power between the Maori King Potatau and the English Queen; a time during the war when he had two thousand armed men under his control, and had he thrown his tomahawk to the right or left, and lent his influence to the Maori King, I do not know what would have become of this settlement. I say we have lost in him one of the greatest Natives this country, rich in great men, has ever borne. What sacrifices did the honourable gentleman make for the benefit of the Europeans! He imperilled by his loyalty to us the whole of his influence with the Native race. Every one must know how the spirit of nationality with a volcanic throb moved the Maori people at that time. Who is there that can fail to see the greatness of soul which actuated Wiremu Tamihana when he conceived the idea of a Maori nationality, and who, realising this, can fail to admit the nicety of the balance of power between the races that existed at that time? It was then Wi Tako, failing to be carried away by the passing impulse of the moment, holding the scales between the two races, gave us the full advantage of his sympathy and, ultimately of his support. I have heard the late Dr Featherston say of him, “Wi Tako is the cleverest man, black or white, in the country.” That was his estimate of the man's skill, and his appreciation of Wi Tako's power of controlling the wild races he held in the leash. I know that forty years ago, at a time when Native troubles were balanced with the greatest nicety in the Hutt, Wi Tako was always found protecting the right of the European. His word was as trusty as ever his tomahawk had been, and, as was well said of him, he had no two tongues—what he promised he performed. I have seen many aspects of the late war: I have seen the Arawa, the Waikato, the Ngatiawa, the Ngatimaniapoto, the Ngatiporou, the Ngatipukeko, the Ngatiruanui, and all the warlike tribes engaged either on one side or the other; and I remember to-day with glowing admiration the chivalry, valour, and magnanimity of this great race of people, who are dying out from our midst, leaving but the memory of their achievements behind them.”