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

No. 54. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Eight Hon. the Earl of Kimberley

page 207

No. 54.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Eight Hon. the Earl of Kimberley.

Death of the Chief Te Tuni. Government House, Auckland, N.Z., 24th December, 1870.

My Lord,—

As your Lordship is one of those English statesmen who took a personal and active interest in the early progress of New Zealand, you will doubtless learn with regret that Te Puni, the chief of the clan of the Ngatiawa, died, at the age of nearly ninety years, on the 5th instant, at his residence, Pitone, near Wellington.

2.It will be remembered that Te Puni welcomed the arrival of the first emigrants sent out by the New Zealand Company, granted them the land on which the City of Wellington has since been built, and protected the infant settlement, on many occasions, from the violence of his Maori countrymen. He also fought gallantly for the Queen, though he was even then an elderly man, in the first Maori war of 1845-48. In a word, Te Puni was for the settlers in the South all that the celebrated Ngapuhi chief, Tamati Waka Nene, was for the settlers in the North of this Island. His great age has of late rendered him incapable of active exertion, but he was always glad to receive me and other English visitors at his own kainga (village). His last appearances in public were when he welcomed me on my first landing in New Zealand, in 1868, and when, in 1869, he attended the levie held at Wellington by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
3.The death of this loyal subject of our Queen, of this constant friend and brave ally of our race, to whom the early English settlers at Wellington owed the safety of their lives and property, excited much feeling throughout this colony. The Government ordered a public funeral at the public cost. Several of the Colonial Ministers and other leading settlers of all political parties were pall-bearers, together with the few surviving relatives and principal clansmen of the deceased; the Bishop of Wellington read the burial service of tie Church of England, to which Te Puni was a sincere convert; Mr. McLean, the Minister for Native Affairs, delivered an eloquent address in their own language to the Maoris present; and the Volunteer Rifles and Artillery attended in full force, and fired the customary military salutes over the grave of the old warrior.

I have, &c

G. E. Bowen.

The Right Hon. the Earl of Kimberley.