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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

The Governor and the Rarotongans

The Governor and the Rarotongans.

The natives of Rarotonga, who are at present in Auckland on a visit, waited on His Excellency the Governor at Government House to-day, at eleven o'clock. There were present about twelve natives (six women and six men). These were headed by the Premier of Rarotonga, Tepou o te Rangi. His Excellency received the natives in the drawing-room. Most of the natives sat on the floor, as is their custom. There were present with His Excellency Commander Pelley (H.M.s. Lizard), and Captain Savile (A.D.C.). The Premier of Rarotonga and his son were introduced to the Governor by Mr. H. J. Ellis.

Tepou o Te Rangi then read an address to the Governor, of which the following is a translation:—

To the Right Hon. His Excellency Lord Onslow, Governor of New Zealand and representative of that great Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

Salutations! I, Tepou o te Rangi, Premier of Rarotonga, and part of my people who have come with me, wish to say a, few words. We have merely came to New Zealand on a visit; but upon our arrival here we heard of the festivities to be celebrated in honour of the jubilee of this great country of New Zealand. We are all very much pleased to meet you on this festive occasion, as we ourselves are also children of Great Britain, as that great Queen, Victoria, has been pleased to grant us her protection in the year 1888. I would also wish to add, O Governor, that it will be a long period before we in Rarotonga will be enabled to celebrate our jubilee. It is even doubtful whether some of us will see that time. Nevertheless it is my hope that the jubilee of Rarotonga 49 years hence will show as much advance in prosperity and civilisation (in comparison) as New Zealand has done. I can assure you, O Governor, of our loyalty to your great Queen Victoria, and our determination to live under her shelter and protection. That is our wish. In conclusion, we wish long life and prosperity to our great and good Queen Victoria, and also the same good wishes to yourself, Lord Onslow, your lady and family. Sufficient.

Mr. A. H. Brown interpreted the address.

The Earl of Onslow replied to the address as follows:—The Premier and people of Rarotonga,—Your address is an interesting event in the celebration of our Jubilee festivities, and your presence among us yesterday gave additional lustre to the proceedings of the day. New Zealand, and especially this part of the colony, has always had a peculiar interest for the islands of the Pacific, and has watched with interest the spread of British influence among those Islands. I have to offer my condolences with you on the sad loss which your small company has suffered since you have been here by the death of young Ngataitautai, and I fervently hope that the rest of your stay in New Zealand may be marked only by pleasure and happiness. Enjoying as you do the protection of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, you must be aware that you have the protection of one of the most powerful sovereigns of the page 72 world, and one who has deep sympathy for all the varied races under her rule. I am glad to learn that your earnest desire is that Her Majesty should continue to afford you that protection.

His Excellency then handed a copy of his reply to the Premier of Rarotonga. At the request of the Premier of Rarotonga, the Governor withdrew to an adjoining apartment in order that the natives might make some presents to him in true Rarotongan fashion. The natives then brought in the presents, which consisted of mats made from the breadfruit tree; mats made in the old heathen days; a pair of shoes, etc. The Premier then led the way to the Governor, the presents being carried by the women and several of the men. These gifts were laid at His Excellency's feet. The Governor heartily thanked the natives for the valuable and interesting gifts.