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

No. 101. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen to the Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley

No. 101.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen to the Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley.

Visit to the Lake District in company with the Duke of Edinburgh. Government House, Auckland, N.Z., 26th December, 1870.

My Lord,—

In continuation of my Despatch No. 154, by the last, mail, I have the honour to report that on the 12th instant His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by myself by Lieutenant Haig, Royal Engineers, Equerry in Waiting, by the officers of my staff, and by several officers of H.M.S. "Galatea," left Auckland in the Colonial Government steamer "Luna" on a visit to the Lake District, on the east coast of this Island, and to the loyal clan of the Arawas.

  • 2. On the following morning we landed at Tauranga, the principal port in the Bay of Plenty where His Royal Highness was enthusiastically welcomed by seven hundred chiefs and clansmen of the clans of the Arawas and Ngaiterangis.
  • 3. In my Despatch No. 52, of 1868, reporting my first visit to the East Coast, I mentioned that the regular troops and Naval Brigade, under General Cameron and Commodore Wiseman, had suffered very severe loss at the assault, in 1864, of the pa erected by the Ngaiteraugis about three miles from Tauranga, and generally known as the Gate Pa from its commanding the approach to the inland districts, at a point where the road passes along a narrow tract of firm ground between two extensive swamps. I added that the Ngaiteraugis had afterwards made peace with the Government; and that Enoka te Whanake and the other principal chiefs and warriors who had fought at the Gate Pa had assembled to welcome me in the most cordial manner on my first visit to their country. In the korero now held to greet the Duke of Edinburgh they vied with the Arawas in expressions of loyalty to the Queen and of good-will to the English settlers. At the conclusion of his speech Enoka te Whanake said: "It is true that I fought against the Queen at the Gate Pa; but I have repented of this evil and am now living under the shadow of her laws. As for this Tawhiao, who styles himself the 'King of the Maoris,' let him be brought hither as a footstool for the son of our Queen, whom we welcome among us this day." I annex the substance of the speeches delivered at this Native meeting by the Duke of Edinburgh and by myself respectively.
  • 4. From Tauranga we proceeded to Maketu, the principal kainga, or settlement, of the Arawas, and celebrated in Maori tradition as the spot at which their ancestors, some twenty generations back, first landed in New Zealand. Here, as elsewhere throughout our tour, the "Queen's son" and the Governor were greeted with enthusiastic demonstrations of respect. No Europeans have as yet settled in the inland districts of this portion of New Zealand; but His Royal Highness was as safe among the Arawas in their own country as he would be among the Gordons in Aberdeenshire. We were, however, attended by a guard of honour, consisting of a strong escort of the clansmen in arms for the Queen. The Duke of Edinburgh and his officers were much interested by the many striking scenes and incidents of life in a Maori camp, especially by the war-songs chanted by the Arawas round the watch-fires which they kindled every night in front of our tents. On the other hand, the Native warriors were delighted by His Royal Highness's power of enduring fatigue; by his good horsemanship page 106and swimming; by the skill and vigour with which he paddled his canoe across their lakes; and, perhaps, above all, by his constantly wearing the kilt, which is the favourite dress of the Maori as of the Scotch Highlanders.
  • 5. I shall not trouble your Lordship with an account of the hot lakes, solfataras, and geysers of this Island, for they have been fully described in the well-known work of Dr. Hochstetter, and by other writers more competent than myself. Suffice it to say that, on the 14th instant, we rode from Maketu to Ohinemutu, the principal inland settlement of the Arawas, a distance of nearly forty miles, the road leading us along the shores of the beautiful Lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua. It will be remembered that (as I reported at the time) this road was spontaneously made by the Arawas, the chiefs and clansmen labouring together, for the use of the Duke of Edinburgh more than two years ago, when his visit was first expected. On the 15th instant, after swimming in the tepid waters of the solfataras, and inspecting the principal geysers, we rode over the hills to Lake Tarawera, which we crossed the following day in Native canoes, encamping for the night on the famous terraces of Lake Rotomahana. After examining the wonders around, we returned on a subsequent day to our previous camp at Ohinemutu, where we spent quietly Sunday, the 18th instant. The Rev. S. Spencer, a missionary clergyman resident at Maketu, who had accompanied our party, read the service of the Church of England in the open air on the shore of Lake Rotorua. It was a calm and beautiful day, and the scene was highly picturesque and suggestive;-the little knot of Englishmen surrounding the "son of the Queen," and the large congregation of Maoris repeating the responses and joining in the hymns of our Church in their own sonorous language;-amid some of the finest prospects of lake and mountain, and near some of the most wonderful natural phenomena in the world; in the very heart, moreover, of the Native districts of New Zealand, and of the country most renowned in Maori song and legend; and on a spot where, in the memory of some men still living, human victims were sacrificed, and cannibal feasts were held.
  • 6. On the 19th we rode back from Ohinemutu to Maketu, where happened one of the most important incidents of our tour. Te Waru, a formidable rebel chief from the neighbourhood of Poverty Bay, who has been in arms against the Queen for several years past, came in with forty-six of his principal followers, and surrendered to me. Though dejected, he maintained in the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and myself the usual dignified bearing of Maori warriors. I told Te Waru that as he had never taken part in the murders of women and children, or in the other atrocities of Te Kooti and Titokowaru, he would come under the terms of the Peace Proclamations, and would be treated with great lenity. The Colonial Government intend to place him and his people on a tract of land in the country of one of the loyal clans, which will watch over their future conduct.
  • 7. From Maketu we returned by sea to Auckland. So ended a very successful tour, which will be productive of much public advantage; for the visit of the Duke of Edinbugh to the Arawas has (as was anticipated) at once rewarded and confirmed their loyalty.

I have, &c.,

G. F.Bowen.

The Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley.