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

V. Proceedings of Governor Gore Browne in relation to the Purchase at Waitara

V. Proceedings of Governor Gore Browne in relation to the Purchase at Waitara.

  • 73. It was in the hope of putting an end to the dreadful scenes which had been enacted for so many years at Taranaki that I held a meeting of the Ngatiawa chiefs at that place in March 1859, and made a public declaration of my intentions for the future. I then laid down the principle that, while on the one hand I would buy no land the title to which was in dispute by its rightful owners, I would not permit either chiefs or people to forbid the sale of land by such members of the Ngatiawa Tribe as were willing to cede their own land to Her Majesty. The scene which took place when Te Teira, upon my accepting his offer of land subject to investigation of title, laid a parawai mat at my feet in token of the cession of his rights, must be, familiar to your Grace; but for graphic descriptions of it I beg leave to refer your Grace to the addresses delivered by Mr. McLean at the great meeting of Waikuto chiefs in May last and at the more recent conference of chiefs. At the conclusion of the first-mentioned address many of the Waikato chiefs were heard to say, "The speech of Mr. McLean was quite straight; great was its light.
  • 74. Te Teira's right was disputed before me by no one but a man named Paora; on the contrary, the cry arose "Waitara is gone." But though Wiremu Kingi did not venture to contest in that assembly of chiefs the right of those whose representative Te Teira was in the offer, he expressed his determination to forbid the sale: "William King, before addressing the Governor, said to his people, 'I will only say a few words and then we will depart;' to which they assented. He then said;' Listen, Governor Notwithstanding Teira's offer, I will not permit the sale of Waitara to the pakeha. Waitara is in my hands; I will not give it up; ekore, ekore, ekore—I will not, I will not, I will not. I have spoken,' and, turning to his tribe, added, 'Arise, let us go'— whereupon he and his followers abruptly withdrew."
  • 75. This was not the first time he had informed me of' his determination to prevent any sales of land at Waitara. In a letter he addressed to me on the llth February, 1859, about a month before my visit to New Plymouth, he said: "Do you hearken to our runanga [village council] respecting the land. The boundary commences, &e. I have therefore written to the Governor and you to tell you of the ruuanga of this new year, which is for withholding the land, because some of the Maoris still desire to sell land, which causes the approach of death. It is said that I am the cause, but it is not so; it is the men who persist; they have heard, yet they still persist. If you hear of any one desiring to sell land within these boundaries which we have here pointed out to you, do not pay any attention to it, because that land selling system is-not approved of. This is all."
  • 76. Now, it is very material to examine this letter, because it affords conclusive evidence of the character of Kingi's claim, and a clue to all his subsequent proceedings. He claims a right over all the land between Mokau and Waitaha—a (distance of more than forty miles. Now, the Waitaha Stream is the northern boundary of the Bell Block; to the north of it the Puketapu branch of the Ngatiawa have large possessions. The chief of that section of the tribe is Mahau, who would never for a moment recognize a seignorial right in Wiremu Kingi over his lands; who is in arms with us, and who, in the exercise of his undoubted proprietary rights, came to an arrangement with Te Teira as to a dividing boundary, and would, with his people, resist any claim of Wiremu Kingi's in 1860 as they successfully resisted his claim to the Bell Block in 1848. In like manner the claim of Kingi to the whole territory, extending forty miles north of Waitara, is so utterly preposterous as to require no notice here. I allude to his letter, because it was an open declaration of the purpose of the Taranaki land league, of which I shall presently speak, and because it set up, just before my visit to Taranaki in 1859, precisely that kind of claim and no other which a month after he raised when Teira's offer was publicly made.page 39
  • 77. Immediately after the meeting of March, 1859, I directed that, a formal notice should be sent to Wiremu Kingi, Te Patukakariki, and the other chiefs of Waitara, informing them of Teira's offer, and inviting them to send in any claims they had. On the 12th of April I caused a second letter to be written to Kingi, in which I specially warned him thus: "The Governor's rule is, for each man to have the word as regards his own land: that of a. man who has no claim will not be listened to." The reply I received, dated 25th April, says: "I will not agree to our bedroom being sold (I mean Waitara here), for this bed belongs to the whole of us. Do you hearken to my word. If you give the money secretly, you will get no land for it. You may insist, but I will never agree to it. Do not suppose that this is nonsense on my part; no, it is true for it is an old word; and now I have no new proposal to make, either as regards selling or anything else. All I have to say to you, O Governor, is that none of this land will be given to you—never, never, not till I die."
  • 78. There is an expression in this letter which has been much relied upon as conveying a distinct notice of proprietary right. Much ingenious argument has been used to give the word "bedroom" peculiar force. It is urged that Kingi refers in a touching manner to the ancient birthplace of his people, the cradle of his race, which, according to immemorial usage, was invested with a specially sacred character. "In order to dispel this illusion, it is only necessary to say—first, that the birthplace of Kingi's immediate ancestors was at Manukorihi, on the north bank; and, second, that the word in the original Maori letter is peti ruma, a corruption of the English word "bedroom," and devoid therefore of the remotest connection with any Native tradition or sentiment.
  • 79. But the question of any proprietary right having been asserted in this or any other letter of Wiremu Kingi's is conclusively set at rest by his own public admission, openly made in the presence of his people on the 29th November, 1859, to the District Commissioner: "William King avowed his determination to oppose the sale, without advancing any reason for doing so; upon which I put a series of questions to him, which I called upon the Rev. Mr. Whiteley to witness.—Q. Does the land belong to Teira and party?-A. Yes, the land is theirs, but I will not let them sell it.—Q. Why will you oppose their selling what is their own?—A. Because I do not wish for the land to be disturbed; and although they have floated it, I will not let it go to sea."
  • 80. At the same time the Commissioner, in accordance with directions from me to that effect, read out the boundaries, and appended the following notice to the description: "If any other person can prove that he owns any part of the land within the boundaries above described, his claim will be respected, and he will be allowed to retain or sell the same as he may think proper."
  • 81. An attempt has been made to interpret Wiremu Kingi's answers in a non natural sense. I allude especially to the endeavours of Archdeacon Hadfield and the Rev. Riwai te Ahu to explain what Kingi meant to say. But this was exposed in the masterly speech of Chief Justice Arney, delivered in the Legislative Council on the 29th August last, of which I beg leave to invite your Grace's perusal: "I am aware that I shall be told that the words in Maori have a profound and hidden meaning, not intelligible to the unlearned. And when we have applied our simple faculties to apparently plain expressions, some recondite Maori scholar tells us, Oh, if you knew the habits of thought of the Native mind, you would discover that those expressions convey a meaning very different from the plain import of the words themselves.' To be sure, the scholars themselves may differ upon the interpretation; but, Sir, His Excellency is compelled to act upon the light afforded to his own understanding. Was it then too much to expect that even Wiremu Kingi, lofty and proud, and ancestral chief as he may be, should have condescended, during the interval between March, 1859, and March, 1860, to state the meaning of his conduct? But no; after twelve months of sulky defiance he treated the interview proffered by her Majesty's Representative with scorn…. I do not understand those gentlemen who find in such conduct and language an intelligible claim of right to land, or any other declaration than a declaration of war."
  • 82. But, if Wiremu Kingi failed then, and has failed ever since in establishing a proprietary right, this cannot be said of the people whom Te Teira represented. The weight of testimony is in favour of their rights I select the following, because your Grace will prefer the evidence of Native chiefs to the statements of the Europeans. At the Ngaruawhia meeting last May, Kapesehira said: "I accompanied Wi Tako on his return from Waikato. We saw Ihaia and Teira Teira asked, For what purpose have you come?' We replied, 'To inquire about the mat [the parawai that Teira deposited at my feet in March, 1859], and to take the truth back to Waikato' I went to Wi Kingi and said, 'I have come to inquire about the mat.' He replied, 'The report is correct. I looked on in silence.'1 said, 'That was your error. You ought to have taken it away.' 'I did not,' he replied; 'I simply threw a word at the Governor, and said, "I will not give you my land." I did not take up the mat, but I spake my word. The pakeha wants our land, but this war is about your Maori King. Don't listen to the pakeha, but bring your flag to Waitara. Go back and clear them out; send them all back to England.'" Te Wetini Taiporutu said: "If the Governor's money was laid down for the land at Waitara before came under our law, then he is right." This chief, one of the head chiefs of the Ngatihaua, was killed at Mahoetahi the other day. Heta, of Ngatihaua, said: "Make haste hold the land: thought was Teta's, hold it." At the conference at Kohimarama, Hohepa Tamaihengia, an Otaki chief, said: "In my opinion Teira's piece of land is his own, and he has a right to sell it to the Governor. I condemn Wiremu Kingi." Hukiki, another otaki chief, said: "I will now express my views about Taranaki When Teira sold his land and laid down the parawai as a pledge, Wi Kingi did not come to take up the challenge, but went away." Hetaraka Nero, a Waikato chief, said: "When the land was offered for sale, Mr. McLean investigated the title according to the custom of land purchase The nature of Te Teiras claim induced the Governor to side with him; then Wi Kingi was grieved, evil sprang up in his heart, and he declared war with the Governor." Arama Karaka, a Kaipara chief, said: "The and belonged to Teira and Wiremu Kingi. Te Teira parted with his portion." Tamihana te Rauparaha, an Otaki chief, well known in England, said: "That land belonged to Te Teira. He inherited it from his ancestors. When they resided at Kapiti no boundaries were fixed. The pakehas came, bringing the gospel and peace: then the slaves were liberated. It was only when he returned to Waitara that Te Teira became acquainted with the boundaries [possession] page 40of his ancestors. … Now let us approve of the course pursued by Te Teira. He sold the land under the light of day. He gave a parawai as a covering for this land. William King did not take it away so as to repudiate Te Teira's claim to the land."
  • 83. The Rev. Riwai te Ahu, in his letter to the Superintendent of Wellington (so much relied upon by the apologists of Wiremu Kingi), distinctly admits: "For instance, Mr C. W. Richmond writes—Taranaki, March, 1860—which has been heard by everybody—'Teira's title has been fully investigated, and is perfectly good; there is no one to deny his title.' Yes, his title is good to his own pieces within the boundaries of that land—two or three pieces. Our title is equally good to our own pieces; some have one, or two, or three, or four within that block."
  • 84. And Archdeacon Hadfield himself says. "Teira's father is indeed the owner of a small portion of the block."
  • 85. The question, therefore, narrows itself simply to this: How much or how little land Te Teira and the other chiefs, who joined with him in the sale to Her Majesty, owned. It was to ascertain this that I desired to make the survey, which was forcibly interrupted by Wiremu Kingi. As Katatore had done before him in 1844, "he would not consent to any information being given as to land, or individual portions pointed out, fearing it might prejudice his assumed influence."