Memorandum by Mr. J. C. Richmond, Native Minister.
The following notes on the condition of Native affairs are submitted in continuation of similar memoranda already furnished at His Excellency's desire.
During the past two months three great strongholds of the Hauhau chiefs have fallen into the hands of the colonial forces. On the East Coast, Ngatapa, the bill fortress of Te Kooti, was reduced by Colonel Whitmore on the 5th of January; and on the 3rd of February the stronghold of Titokowaru, on the West Coast, near Nukumaru, called Tauranga-ika, was abandoned by its garrison before the advance of the same officer. Proceeding onwards, Colonel Whitmore destroyed the pa at Moturoa, which had also been deserted.
Notwithstanding these reverses, the animosity of the violent Hauhaus has been little checked. Within a month of the fall of Ngatapa, and the destruction of a very large portion of its garrison, Te Kooti reappeared with the remnant of his band at Waimana, or Waioeka, near Opotiki, where he has been joined by a few more allies, and now threatens the settlements on the Bay of Plenty.
On the West, Titokowaru, though unable to hold his pas, and pursued by Colonel Whitmore in the forest, has continued his resistance, laying ambuscades and cutting off stragglers. Another tribe has moreover commenced active hostilities at Taranaki. A party of the Ngatimaniapoto, a tribe bordering on that settlement, whose lands have not been invaded or confiscated, have come down to the frontier and murdered eight persons. Among them were Mr. Whiteley, a venerable Wesleyan missionary, one woman, and three children. The majority of the Ngatimaniapoto, whose territory stretches from the coast to the Waipa River, have always belonged to the violent section of, the King party, and have resolutely opposed the pacific policy of the King, whose authority and influence have barely sufficed to restrain them hitherto. There is reason to believe that the recent outrage was perpetrated with the deliberate purpose of forcing a general struggle between the King Natives and the colonists, and of preventing overtures of peace which it was believed Tawhiao intended shortly to have made. The news of the Taranaki massacre was immediately followed by menaces to the Waikato settlements, and active preparations have been made to meet the impending attack.
A gathering of tribes is probably at this moment taking place at Taupo, the avowed object of which is to determine the question of peace or general war. The tribes now friendly to the colony have had notice to declare their sides on this occasion. It is reported, but not on absolutely good authority, that the Taranaki massacre has induced the King to discourage this gathering, which may therefore break up without resolving on anything.
Amidst these continued outrages and alarms, which are paralysing the industry of large districts, the consideration which has led the Imperial Government to delay the removal of the 18th Regiment and the national flag from these shores is appreciated by the colony, and will increase the loyalty and cordiality of the reception which awaits His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
Other circumstances of special Imperial interest, which for the moment connect themselves with Native troubles, make the temporary retention of the 18th Regiment desirable. Within the last month it has been discovered that there exists among the diggers in the Auckland gold fields a branch of the Fenian organization. Persons in that connection have made treasonable overtures to the Hauhau proprietors of some lands reported to be auriferous, with a view of obtaining a monopoly of goldmining thereon. These persons have informed the hostile Natives that they are neither English nor Scotch, but inhabitants of another, island; that they belong to the party who in Sydney shot the Duke of Edinburgh; that like the Maori they hate the British rule, and are prepared to make common cause with, King and Hauhau to overthrow that rule in New Zealand. It is said, on reliable authority, that a person wearing a uniform with I.R. on the buttons, and a green sash, had sent a present of money and a flag to Tawhiao.
Since the above notes were written a copy of a letter purporting to have been signed and circulated by the Maori King has been sent to the Government. It is of the usual enigmatical character of such manifestoes. Some of those who have read it interpret it to be pacific, but others take the opposite view, and some Native reports connect it with an alleged order for a general rising.
The Government, whilst preparing for a general struggle, are making renewed attempts to remove the suspicions of the moderate party, and will meet any pacific overtures that may be made in a liberal spirit. It would not be prudent to place on record at present the precise steps taken or under consideration for this purpose.
For His Excellency the Governor.
J. C. Richmond.