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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

The Guiding Star (Matariki)—the Extinction of the Pakehas

page 60

The Guiding Star (Matariki)—the Extinction of the Pakehas.

The unique illustration given herewith is a representation [unclear: of] the coat of arms adopted by the Maori King Tawhiao [unclear: and] appeared at the head of his address at the opening of the[unclear: Gene] Assembly on the 2nd May, 1894.

Some instances of traditional tribal secrecy of the [unclear: Man] have lately been quoted, but they sink into insignificance [unclear: whe]viewed alongside of the great national secret of the [unclear: orga] rising for the extermination of European immigrants. In [unclear: 18] the consternation and distrust caused by the rapid increase of [unclear: the] Pakehas had become general throughout the North Island, [unclear: and] was decided that something must be done to stem the [unclear: envelop] current and drive back the tide of white humanity that they [unclear: fe]was beginning to press heavily upon them. The northern [unclear: tribe] although favourable to (extermination project, having [unclear: been] very roughly handled in the earlier wars, preferred to stand by [unclear: ti] could be seen with what success the national movement [unclear: wou] be attended in the south. The first step was to make [unclear: Pot] king. With few exceptions this was done with the wish of [unclear: the] whole Native population. It was as a condition of the [unclear: king] that no more land was to be sold to Europeans, and no[unclear: public] roads were to be allowed to pass through Native territory; [unclear: al] criminals were to be protected from being legally prosecuted [unclear: if] they sought refuge under the wing of this newly-[unclear: constitude] sovereignty.

In 1845 the Governor, Sir George Grey, had prohibited [unclear: the] sale of arms and ammunition to the Maoris. It was therefore [unclear: to] be expected that in 1853, when extreme measures had [unclear: been] decided on to kill off the white man, this prohibition would [unclear: prov] harassing and exasperating. There were at that time only a [unclear: few] old fowling-pieces and flint-locks in the Maoris' [unclear: possession] Immediately upon the arrival of Colonel Thomas Brown, [unclear: the] successor of Sir George Grey, an agitation was commenced for the repeal of the prohibition. The refrain of the song almost always in the ear of Colonel Brown was:—" Friend, O Friend, the Governor, let us buy your guns and powder to shoot [unclear: pigeons] Perseverance at last brought success, and the law in 1857 [unclear: wa] repealed. It is to-day a matter of surprise that the [unclear: enorm] purchases of arms and ammunition which followed did not [unclear: aro] suspicion. There are some few men, best able to form an [unclear: opinion] of what was going on, who warned the Government of the [unclear: sec] organisation proceeding, but they were pooh-poohed, and treated page 61 as alarmists. Not one single instance is on record of any European 'having been warned by the Maoris of the intended fate of every Pakeha in the island until after the Government, in the blindest P ignorance of what was going on, commenced war against the Natives. In 1866 the' Government began the struggle on a frivolous pretext. A Taranaki chief refused consent to the sale of some land which a few of his tribe, in consequence of some dispute, wished to sell. A conflict was entered into in utter ignorance of the precise nature of the difference, and war was precipitated before the Maoris had completed their organisation; so it was that good luck saved the European population from much more direful misfortune than actually befel them. A parallel was the Indian mutiny of 1857, which burst forth before the preparations of the conspirators had been perfected. So crass was the obtuseness of the Stafford-Richmond Ministry that they induced the Governor to write a despatch to the Colonial Secretary (the late Duke of Newcastle), saying that twenty men and a block-house would be sufficient to coerce the Taranaki chief, William King—which meant the whole Maori nation—into submission. Yet it transpired that 10,000 Imperial troops and 5000 Colonial volunteers met with very indifferent success. It was after the institution of Potatau's kingship that, in 1860, the war commenced. The Maoris said, "The Governor has set fire to the fern at Taranaki, and the smoke will cover the whole Island." It was their fixed intention to kill every white man, woman, and child. Eventually Potatau suffered very seriously, and the various tribes became mere remnants of what they formerly were, so great was the sacrifice of life. Then a worse misfortune befel the Maoris in the spread of the Hau Hau religion, which had the effect of reducing them to a state of madness, and brought the end of the war near.

The Maori question is now practically at an end; the great promises of a Maori civilisation have become meaningless, and the bubble of professed intention to Christianise the Native race has burst. Conditions that possessed all the protentialities for the development of a beautiful peace, in which the civilised and Christianised Maori people would live in prosperity side by side with their white brothers, are gone, as many a noble and well-fought-for idea has gone before. The true level of the Maori intellectuality and morality has become tolerably well-known. His numbers are fast diminishing, and although he may have been ignorant, superstitious, and cruel, he was brave and defended himself against oppression and foreign conquest with rare courage and skill. The secret of his long and effective resistance to superior numbers might, with advantage, be studied and laid to heart by his conquerors.