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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

No. 10. — His Excellency Lieutenant-Governor Hobson to His Excellency Sir George Gipps

No. 10.
His Excellency Lieutenant-Governor Hobson to His Excellency Sir George Gipps.

Hokianga.Treaty of Waitangi signed. H.M.S. "Herald," Bay of Islands, 17th February, 1840.


I have the honour to acquaint your Excellency that, in accordance with the intention I expressed in my letter of the 5th instant (No. 40/8), I proceeded to Hokianga on the 11th accompanied by Captain Nias, the officers of the Government, and the Rev. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Clarke, of the Church Missionary Society.

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On arriving at Waihou, a place on the river about seven miles above the mission-station, I was received by the members of the Wesleyan Mission, and all the principal European settlers of the neighbourhood.

From these gentlemen I received every assurance of fidelity to Her Majesty, and the most hearty congratulations to myself.

At the conclusion of this ceremonial I proceeded down the river in boats that were provided for me, attended by the British inhabitants in eight other boats, all displaying the British flag. On passing the Hauraki a salute of thirteen guns was fired, and on my arrival at the Mission-station I was again visited by the resident gentlemen, to whom I addressed a few words expressive of the high sense I entertained of this earnest of loyal zeal in forwarding the views of Her Majesty's Government, and of the honour they had done me by their very flattering attention. I at the same time signified my intention to hold a meeting of the chiefs on the following day, to which I invited all the Europeans of every class and nation.

Meeting held.

Having previously intimated to the chiefs my wish to meet them on the 12th, not less than three thousand Natives had collected at the Mission-station, between four hundred and five hundred of whom were chiefs of different degrees. At the appointed time for meeting I was mortified to observe a great disinclination on the part of the chiefs to assemble. After some delay, however, they began to collect; and at last the different tribes marched up in procession, and took their seats, something in the same order as was observed at Waitangi. Still I could not fail to observe that an unfavourable spirit prevailed amongst them.

The business of the day commenced nearly in the same manner as it had done on a former occasion, the Rev. Mr. Hobbs, of the Wesleyan Mission, interpreting. After a short address to the Europeans I entered into a full explanation to the chiefs of the views and motives of Her Majesty in proposing to extend to New Zealand her powerful protection. I then, as before, read the Treaty, expounded its provisions, invited discussion, and offered elucidation.

This undisguised manner of proceeding defeated much of the opposition, but did not to the extent of my wish or expectation remove the predetermination to oppose me that had already been manifested.

Opposition manifested.

The New Zealanders are passionately fond of declamation, and they possess considerable ingenuity in exciting the passions of the people. On this occasion all their best orators were against me, and every argument they could devise was used to defeat my object. But many of their remarks were evidently not of Native origin, and it was clear that a powerful counter-influence had been employed. Towards the close of the day one of the chiefs, Papa Haika, made some observations that were so distinctly of English origin that I called on him to speak his own sentiments like a man, and not to allow others who were self-interested to prompt him; upon which he fairly, admitted the fact, and called for the European who had advised him to come forward, and tell the Governor what he had told him. This call was reiterated by me, when a person named M—presented himself. I asked his, motive for endeavouring to defeat the benevolent object of Her Majesty, whose desire it is to secure to those people their just rights, and to the European settlers peace and civil government. He replied that he conscientiously believed that the Natives would be degraded under our influence, and that therefore he had advised them to resist; admitting, at the same time, that the laws of England were requisite to restrain and protect British subjects, but to British subjects alone should they be applicable. I asked him if he was aware that English laws could only be exercised on English soil. He replied, "I am not aware; I am not a lawyer:" upon which I begged him to resume his seat, and told the chiefs that Mr. M—had given them advice in utter ignorance of this most important fact; adding, "If you listen to such counsel and oppose me, you will be stripped of all your land by a worthless class of British subjects, who will consult no interest but their own, and who care not how much they trample on your rights. I am sent here to control such people, and I ask from you the authority to do so." This little address was responded to by a song of applause; several chiefs who agreed with me sprang up in my support, and the whole spirit of the meeting changed. Apologies were offered by the opposing party, and the most prominent of them came forward and signed the Treaty. When the example had once been shown, it was with difficulty I could restrain those who were disentitled by their rank from inserting their names. Upwards of fifty-six signatures were given, and at 12 o'clock at night the business closed.

Before the last of the party were dismissed, it was intimated to me that the chiefs were desirous I should attend their feast on the following morning; and, in order to gratify them, I relinquished a visit I had arranged to the lower part of the river.

Feast at Horeke, Captain McDonell's Station.

At 10 o'clock on the 13th I went by appointment to the Hauraki, and there a thousand as fine warriors as were ever seen were collected in their best costume. The Native war-dance, accompanied by those terrific yells which are so well qualified to exhibit the natural ferocity of the New Zealand character, was exhibited for my amusement; the guns from a small European battery were fired; and the Natives discharged their muskets and dispersed, under three hearty cheers from my party. The feast which I had ordered to be prepared, consisting of pigs, potatoes, rice, and sugar, with a small portion of tobacco to every man, was partaken of by all in perfect harmony. It was estimated that, of' men, women, and children, there were three thousand persons present.

Character of Opposition.

The influence against me was easily traceable to the foreign bishop of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and to a set of escaped convicts and other low ruffians who have congregated on this river in considerable numbers. These parties, though actuated by different motives, were united in their pro-page 18ceedings, and many of the latter were agents of the former. Mr. M—whom I have mentioned, though not of a degraded class, is an adventurer, who lives with a Native woman, has purchased a considerable portion of land, and, being an Irish Catholic, is an active agent of the bishop.

Another person; altogether of a lower description, known under the name of "Jacky Marmon," who is married to a Native woman and has resided in this country since 1809, is also an agent of the bishop. He assumes the Native character in its worst form—is a cannibal—and has been conspicuous in the Native wars and outrages for years past. Against such people I shall have to contend in every quarter, but I do not despair of arranging matters hereafter with comparative ease. The two points at which I have already met the Natives were the strongholds of our most violent opponents; and, not withstanding the untiring efforts of the bishop and the convicts, I have obtained the almost unanimous assent of the chiefs. On the whole of the Hokianga but two head chiefs refused their consent, and even from their tribes many chiefs have added their names to the Treaty.

On the morning of the 14th, when preparing to return here, I regret to say that, notwithstanding the universal good feeling which subsisted amongst the chiefs on the day previous, two tribes—of the Roman Catholic communion—requested that their names might be withdrawn from the Treaty. It is obvious that the same mischievous influence I before complained of had been exercised in this instance. I did not, of course, suffer the alteration; but I regret that the credulity of the chiefs should render them so susceptible of unfavourable impressions.

I considered that on the conclusion of the Treaty of Waitangi the sovereignty of Her Majesty over the northern district was complete. I can now only add that the adherence of the Hokianga chiefs renders the question beyond dispute. I therefore propose to issue a Proclamation announcing that Her Majesty's dominion in New Zealand extends from the North Cape, to the 36th degree of latitude. As I proceed southward, and obtain the consent of the chiefs, I will extend these limits by Proclamation, until I can include the whole of the Islands.

I have, &c.,

W. Hobson.

His Excellency Sir George Gipps, &c.