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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XLV. "I Wish I had the Power to twy you up."

page 186

Chapter XLV. "I Wish I had the Power to twy you up."

"When did the Maoris capture their three prisoners, Miss Hirch?" inquired the Doctor.

"Next day sir; the Maoris soon camped and I was removed some distance from their fire. Two of the prisoners were killed, although Taipua did all he could to save them. The other made his escape. They searched some time for him, but without success, and would have killed me in their rage, only for the young chief. Afterwards they camped in the place where I was rescued by the soldiers."

"Thank you Miss Hirch," said Captain Snell, "you have told your story well, but I must yet ask you another question. Who was the leader of the civilian's patrol who brought the Maoris in?"

"John Rodgers, sir,"

"Mr. Rodgers, would you please tell us about your meeting with Taipua and his men?" continued the Captain turning to a young man who was sitting in the body of the room.

"Yes sir, I will with pleasure," said a young man coming forward. "Twelve of us went out armed to patrol the district, page 187and caught sight of a small party of Maoris coming towards the township. As there were only half-a-dozen, we prepared to make them prisoners, and I accordingly posted my men to intercept them. Having covered them with our rifles, I called out to them to surrender. The leader said 'we are going to Wairuara to make friends with the pakehas, and do not intend to fight.' 'All right,' I answered, 'If you mean well, put your tuparas on the ground.' They did so, and we carried their arms between us. Taipua asked several questions about Miss Hirch and Koti-roa, as he called the doctor. When we arrived, I reported the matter to Lieutenant Lovelock, who took them into custody, treating them I must confess with unnecessary severity."

"Confine your wemarks to the subject, fellow," drawled the Lieutenant.

"I will not, be rebuked by Lieutenant Lovelock," replied the witness with asperity. I am here independent of him, and I dare say that if he were a gentleman, and better acquainted with the natives whom he pretends to govern, he would be more respected by the townspeople."*

"D——the fellow!" shouted the Lieutenant, angrily jumping up. "I wish I'd the power to twy you up, I'd——"

"That will do gentlemen," said Captain Snell severely; "I cannot allow this to continue."

"Is an officer and a gentleman to be insulted by every cad in——"

"No more of this Mr. Lovelock. If you cannot act as page 188becomes your position, kindly leave the room; I consider that you are greatly to blame in this matter," interposed Captain Snell.

The Lieutenant stalked out foaming with rage.

Captain Snell and a few of the other gentleman, conferred privately for a few minutes in an undertone. At length Captain Snell said:—

"Call Ngahoia, Sergeant."

When Ngahoia came forward, Captain Snell gave him some instructions in a low tone. Ngahoia then made a short speech to Taipua's followers in the Maori language, and they answered him in Maori, accompanied with nods and smiles.

"They will do as you wish, Captain," said Ngahoia

"Taipua," said Captain Snell, turning to the young chief, "I am now satisfied that you and your companions are firm friends of the pakehas. We do not expect you to fight against your countrymen, but I want you to promise before my friends here, to assist in every way against pillage and murder."

"Rangatira Snell, and other pakehas present, Taipua says the pakesha friends will be his friends, and the pakehas enemies his enemies. He will hold tapu the pakehas taonga, and will be proud to submit to their maua. The pakehas have many tao's (heros) among them."

"I am quite satisfied Taipua of your loyalty," said Captain Snell, "and so are my friends here. All the arms and other things that were taken from you are in that corner, and you are at liberty to take them."

page 189

Mr. Munroe whispered something to Captain Snell, who hurriedly added:

"Before you go Taipua, I would like to ask you what became of your chief, Te Pehi?"

"He made his escape during the big smoke at the battle of the Moa Birds' Nest," the young chief answered briefly.

"Thank you, Taipua; that will do."

"Now my friends," added Captain Snell, standing up, "I trust that you are satisfied with what you have heard. This inquiry was held because, as you all know, doubts Mere entertained as to the loyalty of our friend Taipua and his followers. You have heard Miss Hirch's story, and I feel sure that no one will doubt now that Taipua's motives and his conduct throughout were above suspicion. Winning over a few Maoris in this friendly way is of more importance than the greatest victory achieved in the battle field. I have reason to know that this case is only one out of many that has occurred lately, and I trust that the bloodshed and crime which has so recently deluged this fine country—perhaps the finest country in the world—will soon be things of the past. I thank you all for your attendance," he concluded, bowing.

* A great deal of mischief has been caused by officers not understanding the Maoris' character, and being above taking advice from their subordinates. The above scene actually occurred as described, and as settlers has to suffer for mistakes, they may be pardoned for showing their feelings a little.