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NATIVE MINISTER'S INTERVIEW
TAMATI NGAPORA, REWI, AND OTHER LEADING CHIEFS OF WAIKATO, NOVEMBER 9, 1869.
THE HONORABLE MB. MCLEAN, NATIVE MINISTER, having received an intimation that Rewi Maniapoto and Tamati Ngapora had expressed a wish to meet him, it was considered a good opportunity of breaking through that rigid exclusiveness which had for a series of years been maintained towards the Government by the so-called Maori King party. With this view, therefore, Mr. McLean left for Waikato on the afternoon of the 2nd November, and reached Alexandra on the night of the 4th. Here he met the Chief Ahipene Kaihau, then returning from a visit to Tokangamutu, Tawhiao's residence. Ahipene did not give a very satisfactory account of the state of matters at that place, and disencouraged Mr. McLean's proceeding further.
On the 6th (Saturday), the party reached Otorohanga, the residence of Mr. Lewis Hettit, one of the points of the "Aukati," of which so much has been said and written, and the crossing of which was strictly prohibited under the severest penalties.
Soon after Mr. McLean's arrival, Wiremu Te Pukapuka, a Ngatimaniapoto Chief, who has rendered the Government considerable assistance, came in with a message from the Chiefs of Tokangamutu on the 7th (Sunday). This was followed by a letter from Rewi (now known by the natives of the surrounding district as Manga), of which the following is a translation:--
"November 7, 1869.
"To Mr. McLean,--
"To-morrow I shall go thither to see you. This is a settled determination (of mine.)
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On the 8th neither Rewi nor any of the Tokangamutu Chiefs put in an appearance, owing to differences amongst themselves as to the place of meeting; one section proposing it should be at Tokangamutu, and the other at the Uira.
At length it was decided to hold it at a place called Pahiko, and Mr. McLean received the following note:--
"Pahiko, November 2 (?), 1869.
"To Mr. McLean,--
"If you are at Otorohanga, do you come here. I am here.
"From Manuhiri to you."
To this Mr. McLean replied:--
"November 8, 1869.
"It is well. I will go, but it is late to-day. To-morrow I will be there.
"From your friend
"To Manuhiri, at Pahiko.
On the following day, accordingly (November 9), Mr. McLean, with Lieutenant Colonel Fraser, Mr. Searancke, Messrs. Maning and Brown, Ahipene Kaihau, and others of his party, accompanied by Mr. Lewis Hettit and his sons, Mr. Turner, Wiremu Te Pukapuka, and several other natives, set out for Pahiko.
As they approached the settlement, the women called out their words of welcome, and made the customary demonstrations accorded to visitors. There were about two hundred natives present, including many of the leading Chiefs of Waikato, Maniapoto, as well as men of importance from other neighbouring tribes, as may be seen by the following list:--
NAMES OP THE PRINCIPAL CHIEFS WHO WERE PRESENT AT THE MEETING AT PAHIKO.
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TAKEREI TE RAU,
Te Whit i,
HUNIA TE NGAKAU,
TE RAPIHANA RANGIWEHEA,
As Mr. McLean approached the tent erected for his use, the assembled natives stood up, which was suitably acknowledged. The natives collected in front of the house occupied by the Chiefs, offered up prayers according to the Hauhau form. The principal men joined in this act of worship with much apparent devotion. After prayers were over, Manuhiri (Tamati Ngapora) came forward and shook hands cordially with Mr. McLean, as did also several of the leading Chiefs. Food was then placed before the visitors.
After the meal was concluded, and a considerable time having elapsed without anyone coming forward to speak in accordance with their usual custom, Mr. McLean moved to the front of the house where the chief men were seated, and addressed the Chiefs in the following terms:--
"I have for some time been waiting to hear the usual words of salutation to the stranger; but as I am given to understand you wish to depart from your custom and desire that I should speak first on this occasion, I will do so.
Waikato and Ngatimaniapoto--salutations to you! It is not peace that has brought me here: it is because of the distracted state of the country that I have come to see you. I do not wish to deceive you by talking of peace when we may have discord; but let what may happen, whether good or evil, let us clearly understand each other. There is no reason why we should not now decide between good and evil; both have been in existence, and have been going side by side in this island for a long time. I am no stranger to you; I have talked with your old
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chiefs the great trees of the forest,--now passed away. They are gone, we are still here, and I now talk to you as I have frequently done before. We have been enemies, and fought against each other--we may do so again--but is this any reason why we should not, on this occasion, have our fight out in words, in the broad light of day, and then determine whether good or evil is to prevail? It matters not whether I am here by invitation or not; here I am. We are now speaking face to face. I recognise the efforts you have recently made in preserving order in this district. When at Wellington I heard that you had exerted yourselves and had expelled that murderer, Te Kooti, upon which I wrote a letter to your son Matutaera, expressing gratification at the course you had taken. That was a step in the right direction. I want to know if we cannot act together to suppress crime and outrage? If we unite in this object we can do it effectually. You have lately adopted that course. Tamati Manuhiri--I considered it was your place to speak first. You and I are no strangers--we have talked together frequently in times gone by. Why are you now silent? Is it because you consider we are enemies? Should that be your feeling, it is no reason why we should not now talk freely together, that there may be no mistake as to our intentions. If it is to be evil, let it be understood--if peace, let it be proclaimed. My thought is, let the evil be cast away, and let us hold to the good. It is now for you to speak and express your thoughts.
After the conclusion of this speech there was a long silence. At length Rewi came forward, and addressing the natives said: Friends, this is the man--this is Mr. McLean. He has come to speak to Potatau (here he chaunted a song, by way of invocation to the spirits of the past), then, turning to Mr. McLean, he said: There is nothing to be said, except welcome, welcome, come and see us. He then shook hands and sat down.
There was another long interval taken up in some discussion carried on in a low tone amongst the chiefs.
Rewi then rose, and as if speaking for and at the request of the others present, he said earnestly and emphatically: This is my word. Kati--Kati--Kati me mutu. Cease--Cease--Cease (fighting) let it end; and here is another word: let my land at Taupo
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be restored; you have got the men, but leave the land with me. Te Heuheu is in your hand, he has been foolish--deal mercifully with him and let him be liberated. I have yet another word-- Te Hura--has he not been sufficiently punished for his evil doing? Let Te Hura be given to me--that is all. Now do you answer me.
MR. MCLEAN replied: As to your first word, Rewi, Cease--Cease--Cease; I say yes; do you cease on your part, and let all secret and other murders be at an end. If you cause this to be done by all the tribes under your influence, and assist in the work of restoring order, I will do my part; then in reality will peace be established, a peace which shall not afterwards be broken. With reference to your request about Taupo, no land has been taken there; the object of sending troops there was not to take land, but to pursue and punish murderers, and to protect those tribes who adhere to the Government. They are the owners of Taupo, and nothing will be undertaken with the lands of Taupo without their consent. Should you be willing to go to Taupo I will meet you there, and, in concert with the chiefs of that place, will settle that question.
As for Te Heuheu, he will be released. With respect to your request that Te Hura may be liberated, I saw Te Hura in Auckland, and received a letter from him, asking to be released. It can be done; but, should he be given over to your charge, and goes wrong--what then? Will you be answerable for him?
REWI replied: I will; I do not want Te Heuheu; he belongs to another people; but I wish to see Te Hura here; and addressing the Waikatos he said--Have you nothing to say to Mr McLean? Is it a small matter that he has come so far to see us? This is the repository of the thoughts, and the person who is able to settle hard and difficult questions.
MR. MCLEAN: I have a word to say to you about Te Kooti. Rewi was to blame for accompanying him. You did right to expel that murderer from your district. Have nothing to do with him or his work; leave him to his fate--the punishment due to his many murders--the murder of men, women, and children.
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REWI replied: I shall have a word to say to you at some future day on this subject. Te Kooti is at present in the mountains somewhere. Should he not be caught by your soldiers, and comes to me, and is peaceful, I shall not molest him; but should he be troublesome in my district I will hand him over to you.
MR. MCLEAN: Give him up to me.
REWI: I have fifty of his men living with me; do not you seek to attach blame to me on their account, or demand them of me to be tried on account of Te Kooti's crimes. You blame me for accompanying Te Kooti. I did so to see him out of my district. I did not wish to shield him from you when beyond my boundaries.
MR. MCLEAN: With regard to the fifty men that are with you, so long as they remain quiet I will not interfere with those men. I want the head one, for he is the cause of the evils under which we have lately been suffering. You must look after them, and let them work and plant food. I have one more word to say to you before we part, and that is, that you should select a chief from amongst your number--a man that you can trust, to assist the Government in putting a stop to the misunderstandings which have so frequently arisen. I should think, if you do this, you will be more satisfied with the action of the Government, and know better what is taking place. That chief could see the arrangements now made, carried into effect, and keep you advised of all that is going on. Do you carefully consider this proposal. I do not wish you to assent in a hurry. When you have considered it, and made up your minds, write to me.
REWI remarked that enough had been done for that time, and that a great deal had been accomplished in one day. There were other days in store. Let the sun shine, and the rain fall on the words now spoken. It was not a matter of little importance that they had seen and conversed with Mr. McLean. If only a fragment of light was now visible, like the dawn, it would soon spread.
The meeting was now coming to a close, and the natives showed by their cheerful and altered countenances that they were satisfied with what had taken place. Several came forward
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to shake hands with Mr. McLean, who made some personal references to each, which caused a smile.
Mr. MCLEAN had some conversation with Tamati Ngapora, or Manuhiri as he is now called. He stated that he was using every effort to stop war parties, and had sent persons to watch and warn those who were going to join Te Kooti. If they persisted, the friendly Chief Te Poihipi of Taupo should be informed of the fact, in order that he might be prepared for them. Rewi also had several interviews.
Mr. MCLEAN and party then left for Otorohanga, accompanied by several influential Chiefs, who talked freely of their long isolation from the Europeans, and on other matters of interest.
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