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

Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley

Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley

New Plymouth.—Respecting Wiremu Kingi. Government House, Wellington, N.Z., 18th March, 1872.

My Lord, —

It is with much satisfaction that I report, by the mail leaving Wellington to-day, an event to which great importance is rightly attached in this colony, as to afresh and significant proof of the establishment of permanent tranquillity.

  • 2. The influential Maori chief and formidable warrior known among the English as William King,* of Waitara, with whom the war of 1860 originated, and who has, during the last twelve years, continued in active hostility or sullen disaffection, has voluntarily come, attended by his principal clansmen and followers, into the Town of New Plymouth, made peace with the Government, and renewed the friendly relations which he maintained of old with the settlers. His return took place

    * This is his baptismal name: his Maori surname is Te Rangitake.

    page 157on the 22nd of February, which is the twelfth anniversary of the proclamation of martial law at Taranaki in 1860.
  • 3. It will be recollected that William King, together with the other leading chiefs of the clan of the Ngatiawas, was among the first to welcome to this country, in 1840, the agents of the New Zealand Company, and that he fought gallantly on the side of the English in the first. Maori war (1845-48). The circumstances connected with his refusal to consent to the sale of a small block of land at Waitara, in the Province of Taranaki, and out of which the second Maori war arose, in 1860, are detailed at great length in the official correspondence and Parliamentary Papers of the years 1859-63, and have been the theme of much controversy both here and in England. After the cessation of active warfare at Taranaki, William King and his followers retired to the forests and mountains of the interior, where they remained for several years, steadily declining all communication with the Government and with the colonists. He had always waged a fair and honourable warfare, and had never been concerned, like Te Kooti and Kereopa, in the murder of unarmed men, or of women and children; so he was given to understand that no notice would be taken of his past conduct. On my first visit to Taranaki in 1869,* when several other Maori chiefs lately in arms against the Crown came to welcome me and renewed their allegiance, William King also sent a message of a submissive and respectful character. It was then intimated to him by the Government that some land had been reserved for him near New Plymouth, to which he could return and live in peace.
  • 4. I am confident that your Lordship will read with interest the enclosed report from the Minister for Native Affairs (Mr. McLean), describing the reception of William King at the Town of New Plymouth. It will be seen that the officers of Government and large numbers of the colonists assembled to give a hearty welcome, on his return among them, to the aged chief whom they had learned, during the last thirty years, to respect both as a staunch ally and as a gallant enemy. Mr. McLean observes, further, that the settlers with whom William King had formerly been acquainted brought their sons and daughters to see and be seen by him. One of the local newspapers adds as follows: "It was interesting to watch the curiosity of the children, who were allowed to enter the room in the Native Office where William King was sitting. The old chief seemed to enjoy the levée, for as each batch of children came in he laughed with delight as ho took their tiny hands in his, and kindly shook them." Scenes like these reflect credit of all parties concerned, and are a happy augury for the future."
  • 5. No chief or clan in arms against the Government during the war, which continued with little intermission from 1860 until 1870, now remains in hostility. Te Kooti, like Kereopa, was not a man of rank or importance, and owed his temporary influence among the Hauhau fanatics to his pretended supernatural powers. He is now a mere brigand, with only a handful of followers, and will probably, sooner or later, be captured, like Kereopa, by his own countrymen, and given up by them to justice.
  • 6. The communications addressed to myself and to the Minister for Native Affairs, from all parts of the Island, give very satisfactory assurances of the establishment of permanent tranquillity.

I have, &c.,

G. F. Bowen.

The Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley.

* See my Despatch No. 134, of 1869, printed at pages 129-139 of the Papers on New Zealand presented to Parliament on 8th April, 1870.