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

No. 49. — Memorandum by the Hon. Mr. McLean, Defence Minister

No. 49.
Memorandum by the Hon. Mr. McLean, Defence Minister.

Respecting the Movements of Te Kooti.

Since the last monthly report, Te Kooti, Kereopa, and their followers abandoned the position taken up by them at Tahua, from which they were followed up by Topia, a chief of Upper Whanganui—one of Tawhiao's (the so-called King) adherents,—and by Major Kemp, of the Whanganui Native Contingent. It was deemed prudent to avoid pursuit through the territory of Tawhiao, and as Te Kooti took up a position between the Waikato frontiers and Tauranga, to which place he was invited by a chief named Hakaraia, who desired to avenge the loss sustained by himself and his people at Te Ranga, Tauranga, under Lieut.-Colonel Greer, of the 68th Regiment, in May, 1864.

It being necessary to dislodge Te Kooti from a position that threatened the safety of both Europeans and Natives in the settled districts of Tauranga and Waikato, Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell was directed, in concert with Topia and Kemp, to move against him. Some slight skirmishing ensued, the enemy's loss being six killed, a few prisoners, and 120 horses taken. Tapapa, the pa occupied by Te Kooti's force, was taken, and he retreated to Rotorua, where, in an encounter with a party of the Arawa, he sustained a loss of sixteen killed; the casualties on the side of the friendly Natives being three wounded, one mortally.

The operations during the month may therefore be said to have resulted in driving Te Kooti out of the King territory into the country of his oldest allies, the Ureweras. In scarcely one instance did he make a determined stand; it was principally by timely flight, from place to place, that he managed to escape apprehension.

Considerable excitement was created in the minds of the King Natives, i.e., Waikatos and Ngatimaniapotos, through the proximity of the operations. After their long and strict isolation, the presence of so large and mixed a force as has been operating in their neighbourhood naturally created a strong feeling. It is certain, however, that they as little desired the presence of Te Kooti and his followers as of our forces. The feelings with which the King and his advisers viewed the progress of events occasioned more general anxiety than even Te Kooti's movements.

The translation into Maori of Earl Granville's despatch in winch he tells the Maoris that the balance of justice is on their side, and that only the strong arm can keep them down, has naturally aroused in the minds of a section of the Natives the idea that good may come of continued rebellion. It is something to them to know that the colonists appear to have lost the sympathy of the Imperial Government. The King and his advisors, who are strong in knowledge of the past, of course are not likely to allow their own opinions to be coloured by those of Earl Granville; but it may suit them to pretend they agree with him and his views are frequently referred to as an indication of Her Majesty's mind. Again, many of his young and hot followers, careless of the precise facts, read in the manifesto an incentive to a combined national movement. The furiously disaffected are also, of course, delighted with it. It has even worked mischief with that section of the colonists who have habitually felt themselves at liberty to interfere without authority, and lend their countenance to rebellion….

Ministers have lately had to exercise a good deal of firmness, in the face of the reports spread about of the intentions of the King Natives, in adhering to their determination to drive Te Kooti from the King country, and to pursue him until he and his band are dispersed or destroyed.

Donald McLean.

Auckland, 14th February, 1870.