1864 - Gorst, J.E. The Maori king - [Chapter V]

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  1864 - Gorst, J.E. The Maori king - [Chapter V]
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AT the beginning of 1857, while affairs were in this crisis in Waikato, Wiremu Tamihana paid his last (I believe his only) visit to Auckland. He has said that his chief object in going was to see the Governor, and lay before him the lawless condition of the country, in order that some plan might be arranged to cure the existing evils. He was also anxious to have a European magistrate stationed at his own village. He was, however, received coldly, and his requests were slighted, although nobody can now recollect how or why. He complains of some subordinate officer having treated him with great rudeness when he tried to obtain access to the Governor. It is quite certain that somebody took upon himself to refuse the Chief admission to the Governor's presence. He saw Mr. McLean, the Native Secretary and Chief Commissioner of the Land Purchasing Department, and asked him for a loan to erect a mill. He was refused. A notorious opponent of land-selling, he was not one to be

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looked on with any favour by a land-buying Government. Before leaving town he visited a friend and complained to him of the treatment he had received: his friend replied--"You see that your application has been thrown under the table; therefore, if you wish to erect a mill, or raise your own social condition, you must set about it yourself in earnest." 1 Mortified and disappointed, he returned home to meditate on the advice he had received. It readily commended itself to a proud, self-reliant man. He determined to ask no more favours from the English Government, but to work out what his countrymen wanted without that help which he had just been denied.

The fruit of this resolution was the following circular, which was sent about the Waikato district:--

"February 12th, 1857.

"To all Waikato,

"This is the agreement of Ngatihaua, for Potatau to be king of New Zealand:--

"Friends--Our desire is great that Potatau should be set up in this very year. Do not delay. Hasten the assembling of the 'runangas!' Hasten the establishment of the scheme, and when it is done the documents will be collected, and the day will be fixed for instituting

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him. Be speedy. You will write to the remote tribes that they may hear.

From Wiremu (Tamihana) Tarapipipi, and all Ngatihaua, to Waikato, to Kereihi, Pukewau, Harapata, Toma, Ruihana, Waata Tengatete.

"Be speedy." 2

This was not the first proposal for the election of a king, nor the first nomination of Potatau to the office. The desire for a king had existed for six or seven years previously: the only difficulty was to find some chief to place on the throne who would be accepted by all. A meeting attended by 1600 natives had just been held by Te Heu Heu at Taupo. Much mystery had attended this national gathering. A platform had been erected, on which was the inscription--" Look to the land; look to the sea." At this meeting it was distinctly proposed that Potatau Te Wherowhero, the great chief of Waikato, should be king. When Tamihana heard of the proposal he resolved to do his best to carry it into effect. He therefore at once published the formal assent of Ngatihaua in the letter above quoted.

Potatau Te Wherowhero was almost the only man in New Zealand whom the natives would have agreed to make king over them. He was revered not in Waikato only, but generally throughout the tribes of New Zealand as one of the most renowned warriors of a former gene-

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ration. He had led the Waikatos in their bloody and desperate battles with the Ngapuhi invaders, in which they had to struggle for existence, as well as in wars with southern tribes, in which the Waikatos became in their turn aggressors. The name Te Wherowhero, by which he was first known to Europeans, means "The Red Man:" he got the title from being the first of his people to obtain and wear a scarlet blanket, which in the early days of our settlement in New Zealand was regarded by natives as a great treasure. The name Potatau, which signifies "He that counteth by night, " was given him at the death of his wife, for whom his love was so great that he sat sleepless night after night while she lay dying--"counting," as the natives said, "her last hours." The only man in Waikato, who could vie with Potatau, was Wiremu Nera Te Awaitaia of Whaingaroa. He had been Te Wherowhero's fighting general in all the old wars, and when Wi Nera was converted to Christianity, Te Wherowhero said, "I have lost my right hand." He had been the faithful ally and companion in arms of Te Waharoa, Tamihana's father, in the savage wars which that ferocious old warrior had waged, and the son always treated and spoke of his father's old friend, even when they had become political opponents, with filial reverence. Out of personal regard, Tamihana would, no doubt, have preferred Wiremu Nera as king; but Potatau was a man of more extended influence, to whom a greater number would agree to

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yield allegiance, and therefore sinking his private "wishes, Tamihana gave in his adhesion to Potatau, and thereby secured his election. Tamihana ever after regarded himself as the king-maker. "It was through me," he said at a public meeting, "that we did this deed." And his friends always pointed to him as the "root" of the Maori Kingdom.

When the assent of Ngatihaua, the natural supporters of Wi Nera, had thus assured Potatau's election, an unexpected difficulty arose from the old man's reluctance to accept the office. "I am nothing but a snail," he said. "What can a snail do?" He declared he would be an arbitrator between the tribes, in their land quarrels, but nothing more.

At length, he was persuaded to be present at a meeting of all the Waikato tribes, summoned to Rangiriri, in April, 1857; the avowed object of which was to install him King of New Zealand.

The Government was at last aroused from its lethargy to a consciousness of the dangerous excitement which prevailed. Colonel Browne determined to attend the Rangiriri meeting in person. 3 He left Auckland, accompanied by Mr. McLean and Mr. Richmond (one of the Colonial Ministry), arrived at Rangiriri, and, finding the meeting postponed, proceeded up the Waikato country, as far as Otawhao. He there fell in with Te Heu Heu, the great chief of Taupo, on his way to attend the

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meeting. Te Heu Heu, according to his usual custom, began to talk quietly, but soon worked himself into a towering passion. He told the Governor, that if the lowest Englishman chose to visit the Maories, he was welcome, and received all the hospitality in their power to afford, sharing their own food and shelter; but that if a chief of the highest rank visited Auckland, he was refused admittance, and neglected by all, except the Governor and one or two of the officers of Government. He said, and with truth, that Englishmen living among natives were often men of desperate character, who got drunk, and ill-treated both men and women; whose cattle trespassed on native lands, and who, instead of making compensation, abused the injured in language which, by Maori custom, ought to be punished with death. For all this they could get no redress; the English were, by degrees, obtaining the best of their lands, and the Maories would soon "be eaten up, and cease to be." For these reasons they were determined to have a King of their own, and Assemblies of their own. They would not interfere with the English in the settlements; but the laws they intended to make should be binding on all who chose to reside among the natives. Finally, he said that, in all this, they had been advised by one of our own people.

After this, the Governor rode to Rangiaowhia. At the entrance of the village he was saluted by a discharge of fire-arms, and welcomed in a loyal address.

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Thence he was conducted to a native house, where an abundant repast had been prepared for him and his followers, who by that time were numerous. In the evening, three of the most important chiefs dined with the Governor at the house of Father Garavel, the Roman Catholic priest. After dinner, one of the chiefs inquired what view the Governor took of the intended election of a King; and the subject, thus introduced, was discussed at length in the most courteous terms. It was evident to the Governor that this matter was uppermost in the thoughts of all with whom he conversed during his journey; and he learned that all the tribes, from Otaki, near Wellington, to Mangere, near Auckland, were united in their views. It was clear that they did not understand the term "king," in the sense in which we use it; but, though they constantly professed loyalty to the Queen, attachment to the Governor, and a desire for the amalgamation of the races, they did mean to maintain their separate nationality, and have a Chief of their own selection, who should protect them from any possible encroachment on their rights, and uphold such customs as they were disinclined to relinquish. Only on one occasion, at Waipa, did any one presume to speak of their intended King as a Sovereign, with rank and power equal to the Queen's; and this speaker the Governor cut short, leaving him in the midst of his oration.

On his return to Rangiriri, the Governor arrived at

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the same time as Potatau. The natives who had already assembled, including the principal chiefs of the Lower Waikato, made speeches to the Governor, in Potatau's presence. They asked for runangas, a European magistrate, and laws. To these demands the Governor assented; he promised to send a magistrate to reside on the Waikato, who should visit the native settlements, and, with the assessors, administer justice periodically. He also promised to have a code of laws framed, applicable to the circumstances of the natives. All the men then took off their hats, and cried "Hurrah!" 4 Potatau declared that he would be guided by the Governor's advice. He was a dying man, and should bequeath his people to the Governor's care.

After this meeting, Colonel Browne returned to Auckland, fully persuaded that the determination to elect a king would be given up. On the recommendation of Mr. Richmond, Mr. Fenton, an able solicitor, was appointed Resident Magistrate of Waikato and Waipa. He was instructed to visit periodically the native villages on the two rivers, or as many of them as he could, for the purpose of holding courts, assisting the people to devise bye-laws, and guiding their deliberations on public matters. No village was to be visited without the general consent of the people. Mr. Fenton was to report the names of persons fit to act as assessors, taking care to secure the assent of both chiefs and

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people; but such recommendations were to be subject to the Governor's approval. It was, also, to be explained to the natives that their bye-laws could not be made binding on both races, until the assent of the General Assembly was obtained to a measure to be proposed for that purpose. All fees and fines received by the Court at any village were to be appropriated, first to payment of the assessor's salaries, and afterwards to the direct benefit of the village, in a way to be agreed upon between the Government and the inhabitants.

Meanwhile, the great meeting at Rangiriri was going on. The following account of it is abridged from The Southern Cross, of June 5th, 1857:--The guests were mustering for several days at Kahumatuku. The last to arrive were the Ngatimaniapoto. On Friday, May 10th, the whole body started down the river, at a tremendous pace, to Rangiriri, twelve miles distant. About fifty canoes conveyed the guests. The entertainers were about equal in numbers: several Europeans were with them. After the usual reception, Ngatihaua formed four deep, and, proceeding to a large open space, planted in the centre the flag of the new dynasty. This was white with a red border and two red crosses (symbols of Christianity); upon it the words "Potatau, King of New Zealand."

Saturday was devoted to eating and drinking. The bill of fare included bullocks, sharks, baskets of fresh

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and dried eels, baskets of patika and mataitai, bags of sugar, kits of potatoes and kumeras, 1500 pounds of tobacco, besides flour, &c. &c.

On Monday, the 11th, business commenced. The number present was about 2200. Their tents and houses extended for about three-fourths of a mile. About ten o'clock the open space began to fill. Almost all the Maories wore native garments, or blankets. This day was devoted to the reconciliation of old hostilities. Songs were sung by the chiefs of different tribes; and, by common consent, all ancient hatreds were to be buried in oblivion. A solemn compact was made that there should never again be war between any of the tribes present.

On Tuesday, at ten o'clock, a long procession appeared from the southern end of the town, headed by Ngatihaua, bearing the King's flag. The Maories composing it were dressed in black cloth suits. They planted the flag as before, and arranged themselves in long rows on one side of the open space. The leaders and chief speakers were in the centre, each man provided with paper and pencil for the purpose of taking notes. There they sat for half an hour. At last, the Union-Jack was displayed on a little hill, about a quarter of a mile off. Another soon appeared, further inland. Presently a procession started from the hill, headed by Waata Kukutai, bearing the flag, and occupied part of the opposite side of the square.

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Immediately after, another body advanced, bearing flag No. 2, joined the other party, and both flags were planted opposite to that of the King. The third side of the square was filled by natives who had not joined either party. At the fourth side appeared the native teachers, headed by Hoera and Heta.

Proceedings now commenced by Heta reading prayers, including that for the Queen, and Hoera gave a short discourse on temper and moderation. The following were the most remarkable speeches:--

PAORA.--God is good. Israel was His people. They had a king. I see no reason why any nation should not have a king, if they wish for one. The Gospel does not say we are not to have a king: it says, "Honour the king; love the brotherhood." Why should the Queen be angry? We shall be in alliance with her, and friendship will be preserved. The Governor does not stop murders and fights amongst us. A king will be able to do that. Let us have order, so that we may grow as the Pakehas grow. Why should we disappear from the country? New Zealand is ours: I love it.

TAKIRAU.--That is the road--that word "friendship." But it applies to both sides. Our King will be friendly with the Queen. Their flags will be tied together. (Hoists the King's flag, and ties it to the Queen's.) I say, let us be like all other lands that have kings, and glory and honour. Let the blessing of God, which rests on other lands and their kings, rest

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upon us. If I asked the Queen to leave her throne, I should be wrong; all I ask is, that the dignity which now rests on her should rest on our King; so that this land may be in peace, and may be honoured. Let the Queen and the Pakehas occupy the coast, and be a fence round us.

WIREMU NERA.--I am a small man and a fool. Ngatihaua, be not dark, Waikato listen, Taupo attend. My name has been heard of in the old day, and sometimes it is still mentioned. I am going to speak mildly, like a father. My word is this, I promised the first Governor, when he came to see me, and I promised all the rest, that I would stick to him, and be a subject of the Queen. I intend to keep my promise, for they have kept theirs; they have taken no land. Mine was the desire to sell, and they gave me the money. Why do you bring that new flag here? There is trouble in it. I am content with the old one. It is seen all over the world, and it belongs to me. I get some of its honour! What honour can I get from your flag? It is like a fountain without water. You say we are slaves. If acknowledging that flag make me a slave, I am a slave. Let me alone.

This speech made a deep impression, for Wiremu was the most renowned warrior present; it was followed by half an hour's silence.

WIREMU TAMIHANA.--I am sorry my father has spoken so strongly. He has killed me. I love New

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Zealand. I want order and laws. The King can give us these better than the Governor; the Governor has never done anything except when a Pakeha is killed. He lets us kill each other and fight. A King would stop these evils. However, if you don't like the King pull down the flag. Let Rewi pull it down if you wish it.

REWI stepped forward without speaking, and in anger took the King's flag, threw it at the foot of the Union-Jack, and sat down again.

TARAHAWAIKI (considerably excited, rehoisted the flag).--I love New Zealand. It shall not lie down in this way. Let it look at the sun and we will support it.

WAATA KUKUTAI.--Let the flag stand, but wash out the writing on it. Let us not talk like children, but find out some real good for ourselves. We cannot do it by ourselves. The white men have the money, the knowledge--everything. I shall remain a subject of the Queen and look up to her flag as my flag for ever and ever. If you follow your road you will be benighted, get into a swamp, and either stick there or come out covered with mud.

TARAHAWAIKI got up again, rather angry, and the meeting was becoming excited, when Hoera called out, "Let us pray." All were silent, and he read prayers, and the proceedings terminated.

On Wednesday, stations were taken as before.

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POTATAU TE WHEROWHERO appeared on this day, surrounded by his friends, and occupied the fourth side of the square. After prayers he spoke as follows:--Wash me, my friends, I am covered with mud. Love gospel and friendship. Ngatihaua work, continue to work. The Kotuku sits upon a stump and eats the small fish; when he sees one he stoops down and catches it, lifts up his head, and swallows it. That is his constant work. Wiremu, you understand your work. When the sun shines we see him. (Here he sang a song).

HOANI PAPITA.--Fresh water is lost when it mingles with the salt. This chief then sang a song for the land, that it should be retained, and the whole 2,000 joined in chorus.

TE HEU HEU of Taupo then spoke with violence, enumerating the causes of quarrel which the Maories had against the Europeans; the indignities shown to chiefs by the lower orders in the towns, their women debauched, men made drunk, chiefs called "bloody Maories," &c. He advocated total separation of races and expulsion of Europeans by force. He was at last stopped by some of the chiefs, and compelled to sit down.

HEMI PUTINI then, addressing Potatau, said, Declare yourself about the flags, you have heard our views.

PAORA placed the King's flag about a yard from the Queen's, and tied them together, then marked a ring

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in the ground round each. Rewi deepened the ring. KUKENA, uncle of Potatau, then came forward, and amidst a dead silence, lowered the flag half-mast, and tied it to the Union-Jack.

TIPENE.--Don't you be sad (to the Kingites), and don't you be joyful (to the loyal party), for though the flag is down the writing remains.

After a few more speeches and songs, the meeting separated.

On the following day the King's flag was despatched to the tribes in the south, to summon them to a larger meeting, which should either induce Potatau to accept office, or appoint some one else in his stead.

The whole party then adjourned to Ihumatao, a native village on the Manukau, about eight miles from Auckland, where a second meeting was held, at which the same men were present and made the same speeches.

This meeting was not attended by any agent of the Government, but the Bishop of New Zealand, Mr. Buddie, the head of the Wesleyan body, and several other missionaries and gentlemen were present. The Maories were warned by their European friends of the mischief that must ensue from the establishment of a separate sovereignty,--"Give up your King," said Mr. C.O. Davis; "you will be torn to pieces by the Pakeha." Such warnings were not likely to deter the natives from their purpose. Maories are not easily frightened by mere threats.

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After the Ihumatao meeting, Wiremu Nera and most of the loyal natives, as well as Te Heu Heu, visited the Governor in Auckland. But even the former in all their conversations insisted on the maintenance of a distinct nationality. All evinced jealousy of the Assembly, and a strong desire for one of their own. The friendly party wished for their own Assembly and the Governor, the others desired their own Assembly and a King, but all were agreed on the maintenance of a distinct nationality. A letter was also received from Hoani Papita, and the other chiefs who had so cordially welcomed the Governor to Rangiaowhia, announcing their determination to persist in electing a king.

The Governor was at last thoroughly roused to a sense of danger. He felt that the establishment of a distinct nationality in any form, would end sooner or later in collision; and that, if the agitation for a king were persisted in, it would bring about a conflict of races, and become the greatest political difficulty we had yet had to contend with in New Zealand. For these reasons he considered it highly important that the European population should in future be as little scattered as possible. Instructions were given to the Land Purchase Commissioners to endeavour to connect and consolidate crown lands, and to make no new purchases of isolated lands without special authority. But this course was adopted too late. The actual intermixture of crown and native territories through-

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out the North Island, and especially on the Waikato frontier, and the general unwillingness of the natives to sell more land, made such consolidation impossible. A clear line of demarcation between the territories of the rival nations could not be obtained without war and conquest.

At the same time it was confidently hoped by the Governor himself and the Colonial Ministry, that Mr. Fenton's mission would allay the excitement, and avert the dangers to be apprehended from the election of a king. This mission and its results will form the subject of the following chapter.

1   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. F. No. 3. 332.
2   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. E. No. 1, C. 1.
3   N.Z. Parl. Papers. F. No. 3, A. 1.
4   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. F. No. 3, 816.

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