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Early Wellington

Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata

Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata.

The following appeared in the New Zealand Journal, dated 1st March, 1844, p. 382:—

“Rauparaha and Rangihaeata and their followers are building a very extensive Pa at Porirua, on the cleared land near Tom's (Thom's) place. These gentry, believing it was intended to do nothing concerning the massacre, have become greater braggarts every day, and talked of the white man with contemptuous indifference.”

The consciousness of impunity had so increased among the natives, that a repetition of the affair that happened in August took place in the same Pa, under similar circumstances, and with the same performers. Major Richmond, in a letter to the Governor at Auckland thus describes the occurrence:—

“Wellington, 5th December, 1843.

“My Dear Sir,

“As I have been obliged, much to my regret, to call out the military in aid of the civil power, I take advantage of the sailing of “The Sisters” to give you a hasty sketch of the affair.… . On Thursday last, a constable, who was in search of stolen goods, detected some of them in a box belonging to or in charge of a young chief; and while endeavouring with the assistance of two other constables, to take him into custody, they were attacked, knocked down, and ill-treated by all the natives who were in the Pa at the time. I hastened to the spot and found the native and his party were still determined to set the law at defiance, and refused to yield to the civil force. I was reluctantly compelled to call upon the military. Their appearance brought them to reason, and I was enabled, without further difficulty, to lodge the prisoner in the new gaol.

Next morning, not wishing to cause any excitement by sending the military through the town to bring him before me at the Police Court, I directed the constables to conduct him. They used every precaution, but, when opposite the Pa, the prisoner contrived to slip his hand out of the handcuff which attached him to one of the constables, and bounded into the Pa; when the whole of the natives immediately turned out, armed, to protect him.

“I gave Mr. Clarke a certain time to endeavour to get him to go quietly with the constables to the Police Office; but both the prisoner and the rest of the tribe refused, and I was again obliged to call for the assistance of the military. The natives were awed by their presence and the chief surrendered… I have written to all the magistrates, Mr. Hadfield, and other gentlemen of the Mission along the coast, that they may give the page 125 natives a true version of the business; and although those at the Pipitea Pa, where the prisoner was taken from, are rather sulky, I do not apprehend any mischief, especially as the nearest relative of the prisoner says he shall not interfere and will be angry with any native that does.”

With great esteem


M. Richmond

His Excellency Willoughby Shortland.”

The trial took place on the 19th December, 1843.

The prisoner, guarded on either side by a Grenadier with his fire-lock and bayonet, glanced angrily upon the crowd of anxious townspeople who thronged the Court. The troops were ready to turn out at a moment's notice, and the Commanding Officer was anxiously looking towards the Pa, about 50 yards off (see illus. Wellington, 1841), as though he expected a sudden rescue, while the Ensign, also on duty, was watching the proceedings inside the Court. At their termination, the prisoner was guarded to the new gaol, about a mile off, by a file of soldiers.

When the stolen things were seen in the prisoner's box, clothes, said to have been worn by Milne the night he was murdered and stripped, were also seen and identified.

Meanwhile the natives held meetings at all the Pas, and numerous strangers arrived.

At an early hour the Court was crowded with both natives and settlers. The Judge entered the Court, accompanied by the Lord Bishop of New Zealand. Dr. Selwyn, who took his seat on the bench. Moturoa, Chief of Pipitea, also sat with him. Counsel was retained for the prisoner and Mr. Clarke Junr. was sworn in as Interpreter. After the evidence was finished. Judge Halswell charged the jury very carefully. It so happened that one or two of the jurors were men married to native women.

They retired for an hour and returned an informal verdict. And on reconsideration, after an hour and a half more, they returned a verdict of guilty.

The prisoner, in his evidence, stated that the things he had been accused of stealing belonged to his sister. He was sentenced to two months' imprisonment, with hard labour, in the Wellington gaol.

Upon hearing the sentence the prisoner ioudly complained of the degradation of imprisonment, and requested most earnestly to be killed with a tomahawk!

The trial lasted 10 hours, and the Bishop remained in Court the whole time.

It was now found that the natives contemplated a rescue. Those that had assembled at Pito-one were now understood to have reached Kaiwharawhara. Dr. Evans rode down to them and advised them to retire, but they advanced to Pipitea Pa. Mr. Clarke Junr. and Dr. Fitzgerald also tried their influence. A small body of military were ready; a sergeant's guard of 25 men were marched out, and the prisoner (not handcuffed) placed between two constables, was marched off to gaol.

It may be mentioned that the Judge asked Wi Tako to dinner with him on Christmas day, and kindly assented to his bringing Moturoa and his wife Martha also to his table. This action had the effect of quietening the natives considerably for a time.

Mr. Halswell had thus the happy art of blending private kindness and attention to the relations of the Maori prisoner, with a strict performance of the public ends of justice.

Taupo Pa, Plimmerton.