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INTERVIEW BETWIXT RAUPERAHA AND THE GOVERNOR.
On 12th February, 1844, His Excellency, Governor Fitzroy, and suite, landed at Waikanao, where he met Rauperaha and Rangihaiata, and upwards of 400 of their tribes, who were assembled in a large open enclosure within the pah.
His Excellency said, --"I have heard from the English all that happened at the Wairoa, and it has grieved my heart exceedingly. I now ask you to tell me your story, that I may compare the two, and judge fairly. When I have heard your account of that dark day, I will reflect, and then tell you what I shall do. The bad news I have heard about killing the English so cruelly at the Wairoa, after they had ceased fighting, and had trusted to your honour, has made my heart very dark, has filled my mind with gloom. Tell me your story, that I may compare it with the English, and know the whole truth.
"When I first heard of the death of my friends, of the English who fell at Wairoa, I was very angry, and thought of hastening here with many ships of war, with many, many soldiers, end several fire-moved ships (steamers). Had I done so, your warriors would have been killed, your canoes would have been all taken and burnt, your houses and pahs would have been all destroyed; for I should have brought with me from Sydney and other places an irresistible force.
"But these were hasty, angry, unchristian thoughts; they soon passed away. I considered the whole case; I saw that the English had been very much to blame, even by their own account; and I saw how much you had been provoked. Then I determined to put away my anger, and come to you peaceably. Let me now hear your story."
Rauperaha then rose; and several voices from among the crowd of his countrymen urged him to speak out, that they might all hear. He said, --
"There was evil intended in the commencement of this affray. Land is the foundation of all our troubles. The Europeans say it is theirs; but who says so besides themselves?
"The 'Tory' came to Port Nicholson, and that was the commencement of the evil. We heard of the sale of that place by Warepori and Puni. Warepori was smoking his tobacco, and wearing his blankets alone; we never agreed to it; payment was made, but we never received it; thus grew the seeds of evil. Who authorised Warepori to receive his payment? Who authorized him to do it privately? Why did he not call the people together, and pay them all?
Porirua also is claimed by Colonel Wakefield; but Rangihaiata will never consent to sell it. Now I come to Wairoa.
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Wairoa was taken away by Thompson and Wakefield," (meaning Captain Wakefield). "When we heard that they were surveying the land, we went to Nelson to forbid them doing so. We went to Captain Wakefield's house. He said 'I must have Wairoa.' I said 'No.' He replied 'I must have it.' I answered 'No, you shall not have it'. He said 'If you do not give it up, you shall be tied in this manner.'" (Here Rauperaha, to explain his meaning of the threat held out by Captain Wakefield, put his hands in the position of a person handcuffed.) "Rangihaiata said, 'I will not give up Wairoa, neither will I be taken prisoner by you.' Captain Wakefield then said, 'We will shoot you.' 'Well, what matter if you do? We shall lose our life, but Wairoa shall not be taken.'
"After this interview at Nelson, Captain Wakefield sent over more surveyors; amongst them was Mr. Cotterrell. We heard that the survey of the Wairoa was nearly finished. Puaha went to tell them to desist; but they would not. Puaha returned to the Porirua, and told us so. We then arose. The Chiefs and old men went on board a schooner, and the young men in canoes to Cloudy Bay. We stayed at Totara-nui" (Queen Charlotte's Sound) "some time, and then went to Wairoa. We pulled up till we saw Mr. Cotterell. We then brought all their goods, &c. down to the mouth of the river. Our slaves and the Europeans were engaged in moving the things. Then we pulled up to the wood, and saw Mr. Barnicoat; told him we had come to fetch him, --he had no boat; so we took him and his things on board my canoe, and conveyed them to the mouth of the river, having burned the huts which they had erected.
"The Europeans then left Wairoa for Cloudy Bay, thence to Nelson. We were up the river planting. After this Mr. Tuckett arrived with some people to survey. I sent to him and said, 'Come, Mr. Tuckett, you must go.' He said, 'I must survey the land.' I replied, 'No you shall not;' and brought him down to the mouth of the river. I asked Mr. Barnicoat to remain with me till the boat came for him; the boat with Mr. Tuckett had gone to Nelson. We continued our planting till one morning we saw the 'Victoria'" (Government Brig). "Then were our hearts relieved; for we thought Mr. Spain and Mr. Clarke had come to settle the question of our lands. Being scattered about at different places on the river, we took no further notice, expecting a messenger to arrive from Mr. Spain and Mr. Clarke; but a messenger came up to say, that it was an army of English, and that they were busily engaged cleaning their arms, and fixing the flints of their guns. They met Puaha, and detained him prisoner. They said, 'Where are Rauperaha and Rangihaiata?' Puaha said 'Up the river.' They answered, 'Let us go.' Puaha was glad to hear them say this, as he was afraid they would kill him. He afterwards watched his opportunity and ran away, and came to us. After Puaha and Rangihaiata arrived, we con-
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sulted what we should do. I proposed going into the bush; but they said, 'No, let us remain where we are. What have we done that we should be thus beset?'
"The Europeans slept some distance from us; and, after they had breakfasted, came on towards us in two boats. We remained on the same spot, without food: we were much alarmed. Early in the morning we were on the look-out; and one of our scouts, who caught sight of them coming round a point, called out, 'Here they come! here they come!' Our women had kindled a fire, and cooked a few potatoes that we had remaining; and we were hastily eating them when they came in sight. Cotterell called out, 'Where is Puaha?' Puaha answered, 'Here I am; come here to me.' Cotterell then said, 'Where is a canoe for us to cross?'" " Thompson, Wakefield, and some other gentlemen, crossed over to us with a constable, to take me; but the greater number stopped on the other side of the creek.
"Thompson said, 'Where is Rauperaha?' I answered, 'Here.' 'Come, you must come with me. I replied, 'Where?' He said, 'On board the ship.' I replied, 'What for?' He answered, 'To talk about the houses you burnt down.' I said, 'What house was it I burnt! was it a tent belonging to you, that you make so much ado about it? You know it was not; it was nothing but a hut of rushes; the materials were, cut from my own grounds. Therefore I will not go aboard, neither will I be bound. If you are angry about the land let us talk it quietly over; I care not if we talk till night and all to-morrow; I will settle the question about the land.' Mr. Thompson said, 'Will you not go?' I said, 'No;' and Rangihaiata, who had been called for, and who had been speaking, said so too. Mr. Thompson then called for the handcuffs, and held up the warrant, saying, 'See, this is the Queen to make a tie, Rauperaha.' I said, 'I will not listen either to you or to your book.' He was in a great passion; this eyes rolled about, and he stamped his foot. I said, 'I had rather be killed than submit to be bound.' He then called for the constable, who began opening the handcuffs, and to advance towards me. Mr. Thompson laid hold of my hand. I pushed him away, saying, 'What are you doing that for?' Mr. Thompson then called out, 'Fire!' The Europeans began to cross over the creek; and as they were crossing, they fired one gun. The women and children were sitting round the fire. We called out, 'We shall be shot!' After this one gun, they fired a volley, and one of us was killed, then another, and three were wounded. We were then closing fast. The English guns were levelled at us. I and Puaha cried out, 'Friends, stand up and shoot some of them in payment.' We were frightened because they were very close; we then fired, and three of the Europeans fell. They fired again, and killed Rongo, the wife of Rangihaiata. We then bent all our energy to the fight, and
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the Europeans began to fly. They all ran away, firing as they retreated. The gentlemen ran too. We pursued them, and killed them as we overtook them. Captain Wakefield and Mr. Thompson were brought by the slaves who caught them to me. Rangihaiata came running to me, crying out, 'What are you doing? Your daughter is dead. What are you doing, I say?' Upon which some heathen slaves killed them.
"There was no time elapsed between the flight and the slaughter of the prisoners. When the prisoners were killed, the rest of our people were still engaged in the pursuit. When we arrived at the top of the hill, Mr. Cotterell held up a flag, and said, 'That is enough; stop fighting.' Mr. Thompson said to me 'Rauperaha, spare my life!' I answered, 'A little while ago, I wished to talk to you in a friendly manner, and you would not; now you say, Save me! I will not save you.'"
Rauperaha continued; "It is not our custom to save the Chiefs of our enemies; we do not consider our victory complete unless we kill the Chiefs of our opponents; our passions were much roused, and we could not help killing the Chiefs."
Rauperaha then sat down, and after a silence of about half an hour, His Excellency rose, and addressed the Natives as follows: --
"Now I have heard both sides, I have reflected on both accounts, and I am prepared to give my decision.
"In the first place, the English were wrong; they had no right to build houses upon lands to which they had not established their claim, --upon land, the sale of which you disputed, on which Mr. Spain had not decided. They were wrong in trying to apprehend you, who had committed no crime. They were wrong in marking and measuring your land, in opposition to your repeated refusal to allow them to do so, until the Commissioner had decided on their claim.
"Had you been Englishmen, you would have known that it was wrong to resist a magistrate under any circumstances; but not understanding English law, your case was different. Had this been all, had a struggle caused loss of life in the fight, --wrong and bad as it would have been in the sight of God, -- I could not have blamed you so much as the English.
"The very bad part of the Wairoa affair, --that part where you were so very wrong, --was the killing of the men who had surrendered, who trusted to your honour as Chiefs.
"Englishmen never kill their prisoners; Englishmen never kill men who have surrendered. It is the shocking death of those unfortunate men that has filled my mind with gloom; that has made my heart so dark; that has filled me with sorrow.
"But I know how difficult it is to restrain angry men, when their passions are roused. I know that you repent your conduct, and are now sorry that those men were killed.
"As the English were very greatly to blame, and as they brought on and began the fight, and as you were hurried into crime by their misconduct, I will not avenge their death." &c.