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The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future

Great Council Meeting

page 299

Great Council Meeting.

Taiporohenui, a name for the West Coast, and also a word used in a Karakia Kumara, signifying—the ending of the matter. This was applied as a name for the building in which a great council was held at Manawapou, in May 1854, to pupuru, or retain the land, and form a confederacy of the tribes, so that the European should not obtain any further hold of the country than he then possessed. At that meeting 140 pigs, 1000 baskets of potatoes, each about 60 lbs. weight, 900 baskets of kumara, 700 baskets of taro, two tons of flour, one ox, and 300 eels, were consumed.

The land thus made sacred was to extend from Kaiiwi to Kurukuru, and any one who attempted to sell a portion within these lines was to be tomahawked. The spirit then manifested was anything but friendly to the British Government. A hatchet was passed round as a bond of union, to show that whosoever infringed upon the law then established, and sold land to the Government, should be put to death; the handle of the hatchet has beautifully carved. Some years later this was purchased of its owner, Rio, who was shortly afterwards murdered.

It is right to say that the hatchet was only received by the Nga-ti-rua-nui and Taranaki natives. There were Wanganui and Nga-ti-rau kawa chiefs present, but they would not touch it. This treaty soon showed its effects in the war which broke out at New Plymouth between Rawiri Waiawa’s tribe and Katotore Waitere, who slew the former for selling land.

In 1856, a still more important meeting was held at Pukawa Taupo for a similar purpose. This was at the residence of Iwikau te Heuheu. Most of the head chiefs of the island were there. Te Wherowhero, the principal chief of Waikato, had a fall from his horse in going to it, which hindered him from being present.

1.The first subject for discussion was the land. It was unanimously decided that no more should be sold page 300 by the natives to the Government. That Tongariro should be the centre of a circle, of which the Hauraki, Waikato, Kawhia, Mokau, Taranaki, Nga-ti-rua-nui, Waitotara, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Titiokura, should form the circumference. That this was to be a Rohetapu, or sacred boundary, which no chief should infringe upon by selling any portion; that this line, of course, excluded the parts already alienated. That from Tongariro lines should be supposed to run, and connect it with the mountains which form the circumference, as Haungaroa, Maungatautari, Taupiri, Taranaki, Taupiri (Wanganui), Ruahine, and that a document to that effect should be drawn up, and signed by all the head chiefs.
2.The next subject was the Queen’s sovereignty; most refused to acknowledge it, some were silent, a few only agreed to it. The prevailing opinion was, that if submitted to, the Queen would eventually obtain possession of their land, and that they, the chiefs, would lose all their dignity, that they had been repeatedly warned of this by foreigners, and especially by the priests.
3.That the prayers for the Queen, Prince Albert, and Royal Family, should not be read where her power was not acknowledged.
4.That roads should not be made, for if they were they would destroy their controul over their own lands.
5.It was then mooted whether they should elect a King; this was generally negatived.
6.The next subject related to Makutu, or witchcraft.
7.The one after that referred to the Missionaries. The Waikato chiefs enquired, should they be listened to, and permitted to go up and down the country as they liked, lest they should upset their plans, and introduce European influence amongst them. It was unanimously decided that no obstacle should be thrown in the way of ministers, as they labored for their spiritual good.