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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Chapter V

Chapter V.

Barely twenty years had passed since the foundation of the Colony, when the trouble with the native race assumed an acute phase. Governor Gore-Brown was determined that the right of any Maori to sell lands, to which he could prove his title, to the crown, should not be overridden by the Maori Land League, whose policy was, in its mildest features, that no more land should be sold to the white man. Hence, when Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitaks, of Waitara, insolently prohibited Te Teira from selling his own land to the crown, the page 10 Governor determined to carry out his policy—and the war began. This was in March, 1860; and this miserable war, practically lasted tor ten years. Of the ruin, the misery, the separation of families, the deaths by bullet or disease due to this great calamity, who shall tell ? Its commencement found a prosperous, though small, and contented people just beginning to reap the benefits of twenty years of arduous and severe foil. A few months passed and the settlement was reduced in territory to the limits reached by the rifles of the men entrenched within the earthen walls of New Plymouth, and two or three redoubts a few miles outside. Many of the women and children were removed to Nelson and other parts where they received a warm welcome from their fellow colonists; but the settlers and their sons had perforce to abandon the plough and their peaceful home life in the country for the rifle and a hard life of sentry-go, diversified by an occasional skirmish with the enemy. The country, meantime, had been laid waste; on all sides was to be seen the remains of burnt homesteads, crops rotting in the ground and fences falling into decay, whilst much of the stock had been driven off by the enemy. It is true the Colony paid so-called compensation to the unfortunate settlers. But does a bare money equivalent made on the basis of visible losses, compensate for the home life broken up, husbands, brothers, and sons shot in defending their homes, separation from those held most dear, the loss of many precious years in time.