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

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  1864 - Gorst, J.E. The Maori king - [Chapter VII]
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THE country of Taranaki had originally been occupied by the Ngatiawa tribe, but in 1834 it was invaded and conquered by the Waikatos and Ngatimaniapotos under their chief Potatau, who at that time went by the name of Te Wherowhero, or the Red Man. The whole land was laid utterly waste; and of the original inhabitants, some fled away into other districts, others were carried captive into Waikato, and only a small remnant, who took refuge in the mountains of Cape Egmont, were left behind.

In 1839, Colonel Wakefield, the agent of the New Zealand Company, determined to buy the rich but deserted territory, and made every effort to buy it fairly. It was first purchased from the exiled Ngatiawa chiefs, who were living on both sides of Cook's Straits; in the year 1840, the interest of the remnant of Ngatiawa, still resident at Taranaki, was also bought; and finally, in 1842, the rights which the Waikato tribes alleged as conquerors, were purchased from Te Wherowhero at the price of 150l. in money, and about as much more in merchandise.

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After the arrival of the New Zealand Company's colonists, and the formation of the settlement of New Plymouth, several of the fugitive Ngatiawa, considering that the presence of the English would secure them against another attack from their enemies the Waikatos, returned to Taranaki and began to cultivate land within the limits of the 60,000 acres which had previously been sold to the Company. Several of those who had been carried as slaves to Waikato, and whose rights Colonel Wakefield had therefore not thought it necessary to purchase, were about the same time set at liberty by their now Christian masters, and began to return to their former homes.

Such of the natives as thus repossessed themselves of their old lands at Taranaki, denied the validity or completeness of the New Zealand Company's purchase; but when the title of the buyers was investigated, in 1844, by Commissioner Spain--a judicial officer specially appointed to investigate the fairness of the purchases of the Company from the aborigines--he pronounced this sale both valid and complete, and awarded the whole 60,000 acres, with the exception of certain burial grounds, cultivations, and reserves, to the New Zealand Company.

The Commissioner's award was received by the natives with such disappointment and anger, that the authorities became alarmed, and sent off an express to Governor Fitzroy, at Auckland, asking, in the most

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pressing terms, for military assistance, as the only security for life itself. The Governor immediately went down to Taranaki, assembled the Europeans and Maories, and informed them that he did not agree with Commissioner Spain's opinion, and should not confirm his award. After various impediments and delays, the block on which the settlement had been made, consisting of about 3,500 acres, was bought over again for 350l., and the rest of the land was virtually abandoned to the native claimants.

When the news of this transaction arrived in England, Mr. Gladstone, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote to Governor Grey, who had meanwhile superseded Captain Fitzroy--"I indulge the hope that you may have found yourself in a condition to give effect to the award of Mr. Spain in the case of the Company's claims at New Plymouth; and, in any case, I rely on your endeavours to gain that end, so far as you may have found it practicable, unless, indeed, which I can hardly think probable, you may have seen reason to believe that the reversal of the Commissioner's judgment was a wise and just measure."

Governor Grey, however, never did find himself in a condition to give effect to Commissioner Spain's award. 1 Some of the natives, who were parties to the original sale, and had been amply paid for the land they disposed of, said that they should stand by the

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previous Governors arrangement, and repudiate the first transaction, nor would they even for any further payment permit Europeans to occupy the land. The arrangement by which Governor Grey proposed to end the dispute was, that ample reserves should be marked out for the resident natives and those likely to return, but that the rest of the territory should be reserved for the Crown; whilst, in fulfilment of Captain Fitzroy's promises, the value of the land so reserved should be assessed, and those natives who established valid claims to any part of it, should receive corresponding sums of money in payment.

To this arrangement, however, the Maories would not assent. There was a good deal of talk on our side about an "intention to enforce it," and hopes were from time to time held out of the natives giving way, and of the European settlers being put in possession of their lands. But, relying on their numbers and strength, and on the declaration of Captain Fitzroy, the Maories persisted in their original determination to restrict the settlers to the 3,500 acres so ignominiously bought by the former Governor. Exiled chiefs from Cook's Straits, and slaves from Waikato, persisted in returning and taking possession of what they chose to call their own property. Among others, Wiremu Kingi, one of the principal chiefs of Ngatiawa, and a body of followers, made up their minds to migrate from Waikanae in Cook's Straits to their original possessions on the

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Waitara, a small river about twelve miles north of the town of New Plymouth. Governor Grey, who heard of this intention, sent word to them that a ship of war should stop their migration. Wiremu Kingi repudiated the idea of acting by stealth, and said he would let the Governor know when they were coming. The whole party finally went up to Waitara by sea, but Governor Grey did not send the threatened man-of-war.

The Ngatiawa did not, however, prosper on the lands so unjustly seized by them, and so weakly yielded by the British Government. The country became the scene of the most bloody and atrocious land feuds between those who desired to sell and their opponents. Murders and counter-murders were perpetrated on the public high-roads and amongst the farms of the settlers with circumstances of the most sickening barbarity. The most horrible of these atrocities was the murder of Wi Kingi's relative Katatore, which was planned by a chief named Ihaia, to revenge the death of his relative, whom Katatore had shot for persisting in cutting the boundary of a block of land sold to the Government. The deed was thus described by an eye-witness: 2 --"One of them presented a gun at Rawiri's heart (Rawiri was a comrade of Katatore), and fired. He was badly wounded, rolled from his horse, struggled with his enemy for a short time, and was seized by his hair and tomahawked in an awful manner. It was a

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sickening sight to see the poor fellow imploring mercy, the blood streaming down his face in torrents, and the ruthless savage protracting his agony by a pause between the blows. Katatore dismounted, and fled up the road; he was shot down about 800 yards off, and his head fearfully beaten with a gun; he was also tomahawked." The man who hacked Rawiri to pieces, 3 lived in a well-furnished house in New Plymouth, and was remarkable for his intelligence and extensive mercantile transactions with the settlers. The scene of the massacre was the Queen's high-road. 4 The Government feared that if the natives were permitted to fight with each other on the settlers' farms, the latter would sooner or later become entangled in the quarrel. A proclamation was therefore issued, declaring that the Queen would levy war upon all persons who unlawfully assembled in arms upon Crown land. But this had not the effect of stopping the bloodshed. One Maori faction was, in cruelty, just as bad as the other, but the land-selling side met with a much greater share of sympathy from the settlers and Government. Ihaia in particular, who planned Katatore's murder, received an amnesty from the Government, was lauded as a "friendly, honest character," 5 by the Provincial Council of Taranaki, and is at this moment the cherished friend and ally of the British Government.

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At length, after many years of bloodshed, Wiremu Kingi succeeded in establishing a close land-league (not connected with the Maori King), and in the beginning of 1859, gave notice to Governor Browne that no more land was to be sold in a district extending from the settlement of Taranaki to Mokau, and advised him to pay no attention to any offer of land within that district.

Soon after receiving this notice, Governor Browne visited Taranaki, and made a speech to the assembled Europeans and natives, in the course of which he stated, that he never would consent to buy land without an undisputed title, but that he would not permit any one to interfere in the sale of land, unless he owned part of it. 6 Upon this Teira got up, and offered his land at Waitara for sale, which the Governor agreed to buy, provided a good title could be made out. Wiremu Kingi then rose and 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!--Never!--never!--never! I have spoken!"--and he and his followers rudely and abruptly left the meeting.

Of the subsequent investigation into Teira's title, which was spread over nearly a whole year, no record has been preserved.

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The subordinate official who conducted the inquiry, came to the conclusion that Teira and his friends were the sole proprietors of Waitara, and had a perfect right to sell. Accordingly, in the spring of 1860, Governor Browne tried to take possession. Wiremu Kingi resisted. Military force was called in, and the Taranaki war was the immediate result.

As to the policy of this war, there can be now no question; events have proved that it has entailed on the Colony of New Zealand, calamities of which it is still impossible to see the end. But, while condemning the policy by the light of that wisdom which experience has so dearly taught us, it must not be forgotten that in the immediate quarrel between Governor Browne and Wiremu Kingi, the latter was most clearly in the wrong. The case which was afterwards made out for him by the Bishop of New Zealand and Sir William Martin, which enlisted the sympathies of all the Maories in his cause, and which disturbed the confidence of the British Government in the justice of their own officer, was not the ground on which Wiremu Kingi made war. He is no hero, but simply a grey-headed savage, of a coarse and bloodthirsty disposition. The breach in the land-league, of which he was the head, and the prospect of losing Waitara, to which he was strongly attached, aroused his rage. He had before resisted land-selling by force, and was ready to do so again. Whether his claim to a right to prevent the sale was good or

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bad, he did not choose to submit it to the British Government for investigation. "Waitara is in my hands; I will not give it up!" was his ultimatum.

The real circumstances of the case were such as would inevitably irritate a passionate man to madness. At the time of the original migration of Wiremu Kingi's party from Cook's Straits, there was still considerable fear of an invasion from their old enemies, the Ngatimaniapoto. It was, therefore, agreed by the whole tribe, that instead of Wiremu Kingi settling on the north bank of the Waitara, where his own possessions were, the whole tribe should live together upon Teira's land, on the south bank, for mutual protection against the common foe.

It was in consequence of this arrangement that Wiremu Kingi originally established himself on Teira's land, where he laid out cultivations, and built substantial houses. There they all lived happily together, until disturbed by the accursed land-feuds, which caused perpetual dissension amongst them. At length Teira, out of spite to Wiremu Kingi, sold Waitara to the Government, the effect of this sale being to turn the latter suddenly, and without compensation, off land which he had considerably improved by building and cultivation, and which, under the original agreement, he had certainly an equitable right to hold.

It seems quite incredible that circumstances so material to the case should have escaped the notice of

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the officials concerned in the purchase, and have remained undiscovered for three years, until they were accidentally found out, by Sir George Grey's interpreter, in private conversation with the Waitara natives. The facts were certainly unknown, not only to Governor Browne, but even to Wiremu Kingi's advocates. It will be readily believed, that had the Governor been informed of a circumstance so material, the Waitara block would never have been purchased.

Giving any further history of the Waitara controversy, or expressing any opinion thereupon, is a task which I gladly avoid, as not relevant to my subject. Volumes have been written on the subject, which are certainly calculated to produce a strong conviction on most people's minds that the "undisputed title" which Governor Browne required is not possessed by the Waitara block, and, probably, not by any native land in New Zealand. I pass on to the point with which we are more immediately concerned, namely, upon what grounds, and in what manner, the Waikatos mixed themselves up in the quarrel.

During the year 1859, the Waikato King-party had been putting out feelers in every direction. 7 In December, Whaitere of Hangatiki called at Waitara, on his way to the south, and secretly left one of the King flags there. The acceptance of this flag would have been considered as a sign of accession to the King, and,

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especially, as a pledge not to sell land without the King's consent. When Wiremu Kingi found out that the flag had been left, he accused those who sanctioned it of treachery. A division ensued. Wiremu Kingi left the Pa, and went to live elsewhere, while the other party kept the flag, and began to erect a flag-staff. At the beginning of the year 1860, a deputation from the Ngatiawa and Ngatiruanui was sent to the Waikato 8 (apparently without Wiremu Kingi's consent) to give in the allegiance of those tribes to the King. The deputation consisted of sixty young men. They arrived at Ngaruawahia on the 10th of April, accompanied by a large number of Ngatimaniapoto, marched up to the royal flag-staff three abreast, wearing favours to distinguish the tribes, and went through a certain mummery of kneeling down and making speeches, which was supposed to constitute them true subjects of the Maori King.

While these men were still at Ngaruawahia, the news of the outbreak of war at Waitara arrived there. The principles of the King party now required that they should interfere actively to prevent the alienation of land, which had come under the King's "mana." A southern chief, named Wi Tako, was commissioned to visit Taranaki on his return home from the Waikato, and report upon the case. He gave as his opinion that the quarrel, of which he had carefully ascertained the

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grounds, concerned Wiremu Kingi alone, and that the rights of the Maori King were not involved therein. But Wiremu Kingi, who had hitherto kept aloof from the Maori national party, was now glad enough to get the help of such powerful allies as the Waikatos in his contest with the British Government. He accordingly wrote a letter consenting to join the league, and praying for help against his enemies.

A general meeting was held at Ngaruawahia in May, 1860, to consider the Taranaki question, and determine whether the Waikatos should join in the war or not. 9

Wiremu Tamihana, who was one of the first speakers, said:--

"I am disturbed by the letter received from Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake. I wish to understand the case, but do not see it.... I hesitate and say, Let us see our way. Te Rangitake says, the land is his: Teira says, it is his. I say, Let us find out the owner. Do not be hasty lest we make a mistake. I do not condemn the Governor, for I am not informed.... I do not say, let us find out that the Governor is right that we may join him, nor am I idle or unwilling to go to war if necessary, but let me have a just cause.... If the Governor says that this (the Maori King) is the cause of the war, I see through it. If he says that it is the land, I see through that also. But I do not speak it; that is a matter not to be spoken here, it is a hidden

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word that is to be kept in the heart. We intend to keep our land, and if the Governor comes to take another piece after this, then we shall have war.... Let the subject be taken up and settled by the chiefs. Shall we go to the Governor or shall we join Rangitake? Let us search out the merits of the case, that if we die we may die in a righteous cause."

The whole discussion finally turned upon the question whether the Governor bought the land before or after it came under the Maori King's "mana." "The question is, "said one of the latest speakers, "was the flag first or the money first? If the land was paid for before the flag reached it, the Governor is right, if not, then the matter cannot rest where it is. If the mana and flag went before, we must contend for our land."

Mr. McLean, the Native secretary, who attended this meeting on behalf of Government, gave a very clear account of the Waitara purchase. He was listened to with great attention, and his speech was apparently producing a great effect when Te Heu Heu, of Taupo, rose, and with the remark--"It is night," broke up the meeting.

Many of the Waikato chiefs were heard to say that Mr. McLean's words were quite correct. Old Potatau also corroborated his statements, and was very angry with Te Heu Heu for so rudely interrupting the speech. The Ngatihaua offered to light large fires, that he might have an opportunity of completing his statement that

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night, for they had resolved on other grounds to leave the meeting early the next morning. Unfortunately this offer was not accepted, because Mr. McLean fancied that he would have an opportunity of continuing his statement to the whole assembly by daylight. However, when the morrow arrived and Ngatihaua had gone, he found the other natives so busy preparing to erect a new flagstaff, that they could not be induced to assemble. After waiting some time in vain, Mr. McLean struck his tent and departed.

It is not the custom at Maori meetings to pass definite resolutions; indeed, it would be useless to do so, as the majority have no means of forcing the minority to conform to their decision. The only use of these gatherings is to make public opinion heard, so that each man, in determining for himself what he will do, may know what chance there is of being supported therein by comrades.

The speeches delivered on this occasion made it clear that the whole body of Waikato were not yet prepared to back Wiremu Kingi's quarrel at all hazards. Still, much passive sympathy had been expressed, and many had shown great eagerness to pick a quarrel as soon as possible with the Pakeha, and have a trial of strength. This party had a strong though secret supporter in Rewi Maniapoto, whose intrigues were so successful, that, at length, a band of volunteers from Waikato went down to take part in the Taranaki war. Epiha, a

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Waikato of Kihikihi, was the leader. Rewi persuaded him that Potatau and the chiefs of Ngaruawahia wished some of them to go. The untruth was eagerly received by Epiha, who longed to take part in a war in which he hoped to gain personal distinction. Before, however, actually setting off, he wrote a letter to Potatau, saying that if Potatau disapproved, though he should be already on the way to Taranaki, he would return. It is said that, in fact, an imperative order was despatched by the Ngaruawahia Council to recall the too zealous chief; but Epiha always denied having received any such order, and it is more than probable that Rewi intercepted the letter.

The pioneers of the Waikato war-party were received with intense delight by the Ngatiawa natives. In the first encounter with British troops, they gained a splendid success, contrary to the warnings which they had received from their missionaries and other Pakeha friends, who had prophesied that their martial pride would have a speedy downfall. They beat back an attack upon their Pa at Puketekauere, with a loss to the British side of thirty killed and thirty-four wounded. 10 The news of this victory, enormously exaggerated, fired all the adventurous young men in Waikato with enthusiasm. They were eager to share such glorious deeds, and seize the opportunity of distinguishing their names. Numbers, therefore, chiefly from Ngatimaniapoto and

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the neighbourhood of Rangiaowhia, flocked to Taranaki, where they plundered the abandoned homesteads of the settlers with impunity, insulted the troops, and returned to their homes laden with spoil, and full of confidence in their own valour and contempt for the cowardice or stupidity of their foes. The warriors who thus went down to the war were influenced far more by a love of excitement than by any political motive. The King's government had nothing whatever to do with the matter; Potatau and his councillors did all they could to stop the Waikatos from going, and perhaps may have restrained a few. But most Maories choose to do exactly what they please, and would equally have gone down to fight at Taranaki, whether there had been a Maori King or no. It became the fashion for all the adventurous men to spend a month or two in the year at Taranaki, "shooting Pakehas;" and in obedience to this fashion alone, they went and took part in the war. For example, Wiremu Kumete, a Ngatimahuta chief, living at Kawhia, having planted his crops, and having nothing else in particular to do, marched down to Taranaki, joined in a most reckless assault upon one of our redoubts, in which thirty-six men lost their lives, and, according to General Pratt's despatch, fell himself. His name is handed to fame in the returns of killed as "a chief of high rank." 11 Notwithstanding this, however, he arrived in safety at his home in Kawhia, in

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time to reap his crops; and having brought his produce over to Waipa, made a peaceful expedition down to the Waiuku market to sell his goods, and buy powder and shot for the further prosecution of his warlike propensities. At Ngaruawahia, he was severely called to task by his kinsmen for taking part in the war, but defended his conduct in a playful good-humoured vein, made himself very merry over some Englishmen because he had been killed in the "Governor's newspaper," went on to Waiuku, sold his produce, came home again with whatever it was that he had bought, and would, no doubt, have gone again to the war, had not hostilities been by that time suspended.

But though most of the Maori warriors were thus animated by pure love of mischief, and had no definite political object in fighting for Wiremu Kingi, it was not so with Rewi Maniapoto, who having seen the war mania fairly progressing in Waikato, threw off all disguise, and went down in person to Taranaki, to pursue his design of involving the whole Maori people in a contest for supremacy with their European rivals.

At this crisis the New Zealand Assembly met, in which a large and influential party, composed of the oldest settlers, and supported by the Bishop of New Zealand and Sir William Martin, late Chief Justice of the Colony, openly espoused Wiremu Kingi's side. Some declared that the seizure of the Waitara was the result of a conspiracy among the settlers of Taranaki,

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greedy for their neighbours' land; others, that Wiremu Kingi had a perfect right, as chief of the Ngatiawa tribe, to forbid the alienation of tribal land; and others, that a dispute between the Government and Wiremu Kingi, about a question of title, should have been referred to some court of justice, that it was monstrous that the same individual should be both party and judge, and that the peace of the Colony was being imperilled upon an issue that had never been tried.

No attempt was made, nor would it indeed have been possible, to keep these opinions and the discussions that ensued secret from the natives. The Governor, it is true, issued a proclamation, urging all loyal subjects to abstain from publishing opinions tending to impugn the justice of the course he was pursuing, but that was not until long after it had become known to the Maories throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand, that in the opinion of the most revered among the Pakehas, Wiremu Kingi was an injured man. The desire to interfere in his behalf grew stronger on this evidence of the justice of his cause. The Waikatos had, moreover, according to their notions, other good grounds for remaining no longer neutral. The Governor, said they, had not fought out his quarrel with his own forces; he had sent over to his friends in Australia, and their troops were continually arriving in New Zealand to his assistance. It was, therefore, right that Wiremu Kingi's friends should imitate the conduct of the

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Governor's friends, by bestirring themselves to support in arms that cause which they believed to be just.

Among others, Wetini, a chief of the Ngatihaua tribe, inferior only to Wiremu Tamihana, whose relative and close friend he was, resolved to go. Tamihana by this time had ceased to doubt, and had become satisfied of the justice of Wiremu Kingi's cause, but he was not clear as to the right of Waikato to interfere in Kingi's behalf: at any rate, he strongly dissuaded Wetini from going. He used religious arguments against war; he called a meeting of the tribe, at which Wetini's proposals found only nine supporters, and for the time succeeded in holding him back. But three weeks later, a letter came from Wiremu Kingi, asking what was the use of sending him only a "disembodied flag," and why they did not personally come to help him. Wetini could bear it no longer, and in spite of his friend's arguments, denunciations, and prayers, set off with a considerable number of his tribe to the war. Tamihana's last words to him (for they parted at Tamahere almost in anger) were--"Then go, and stop there."

In the midst of these troubles old Potatau died. His last days were vexed by the anticipation of evils about to come upon his people. The abusive and threatening language of the Pakeha newspapers had reached his ears, and one of his last acts was to send a message to his old friend, Sir William Martin,--"Be kind to the niggers." His last words to his people,

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which afterwards became a sort of watchword with the chiefs of the King party, were--"Hold fast to love, to law, and to the faith." When Potatau was dead there was some difficulty in finding a successor acceptable to the whole of Waikato, and for a short time the Government hoped that the league would fall to pieces for lack of a recognised head. It was said that Wiremu Tamihana had always looked forward to succeeding Potatau as King, but that at the time when the latter died the former's temporary unpopularity as an advocate of peace prevented his aspiring to the vacant place. One party proposed Matutaera Potatau, the son of the late king, as successor. Another party objected to him on the ground that his abilities were too slender worthily to fulfil the office, and proposed Te Paea Potatau, his sister, instead. She was a woman about thirty-five years old, strong, intelligent, and very resolute, inheriting more of the courage and virtue of her warrior-father than his weak and effeminate son. Everybody who knows Te Paea admits that she would have made a splendid queen. The dispute was brought to an end, however, as soon as Tamihana, after some hesitation, declared himself in Matutaera's favour. The sister's claims were withdrawn, and the brother, without further opposition, was installed in his father's place.

So soon as it was known that the Waikatos in considerable numbers had joined the Taranaki war, the

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excitement and terror in Auckland became intense. Ngatimaniapoto had several times distinctly proposed to carry fire and sword into that province, which lay, without troops, exposed, and at their mercy. At length the danger reached its height when the corpse of a Maori, with gun-shot wounds in the head and hand, was found in the woods near Patumahoe, a small native village lying between the Manukau Harbour and the lower part of the Waikato.

The hasty inference, that a Maori had been murdered by a European, spread like wildfire among the already excited natives. Those on the spot were with some difficulty pacified by the officers of the Native Department, and prevailed on to abandon their original intention of making a promiscuous onslaught on the neighbouring European villages to avenge their countryman's death. But no sooner was the danger of attack from the natives of Patumahoe over than a fresh alarm was raised as to the intention of the Upper Waikatos. It was just the case in which the King party felt bound to interfere. Their union had been ridiculed by the Governor as "child's play," and here was an opportunity for showing that they had the resolution of men. The only question they would entertain was, whether there were sufficient grounds to fix the crime on a European; should that be proved, they resolved to demand the surrender of the criminal for trial by them, or in default to declare war.

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It was fortunate for Auckland that Rewi and the Ngatimaniapoto had already gone to Taranaki, so that the business fell into the hands of Wiremu Tamihana and the Ngatihaua. A large gathering was made at Ngaruawahia, whence a fleet of canoes, filled with from 300 to 400 armed men, under the leadership of Matutaera Potatau, the young king, and Wiremu Tamihana, went down the river, bent on holding an inquest upon the murdered body of their countryman.

They stopped a day at Paetai, when the war dance was performed in all its grotesque horror, and the excited natives afterwards sat down to discuss further proceedings. Their leaders then proposed that the fighting men should not go further down the river until some other inquiries had been made, but they had not influence enough over their followers to carry their point. A letter from Ihaka, the chief of the dead man's tribe, arrived, stating that all was settled and they might go back; but as Ihaka was known to be in Government pay not the slightest notice was taken of the letter, and the armed band persisted in going on to Patumahoe to inquire for themselves. The King and his mother returned in disgust and displeasure from Paetai, but Tamihana still remained with the party, justifying his conduct, both at the time and afterwards, by saying, that though the young men would go on to Patumahoe and he was unable to prevent them, his presence might restrain them from mischief when there. The war canoes

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paddled down the river to Tuakau, a village six miles below Mangatawhiri, spreading terror among the settlers, many of whom fled in panic to the town. At Tuakau they were met by several chiefs friendly to Government, and by the Bishop of New Zealand and Archdeacon Maunsell, and finding that there was not the slightest clue to the perpetrator of the deed, and that the evidence was not quite conclusive as to its being a murder at all, the Waikatos at length consented to return. There was, however, after all, the narrowest escape from collision. While discussions were going on at Tuakau, Whakapaukai and some choice spirits like himself separated themselves in two canoes from the main body, and paddled further down the river on a private expedition of their own. The absence of these men was pointed out by Archdeacon Maunsell to Tamihana, who exhibited the liveliest concern, and in great haste sent off a letter to fetch them back. The words of the letter were--"Come back, and come back in peace." He exhibited great uneasiness until Whakapaukai had re-appeared. Had there been the least hesitation or lukewarmness on the part of Tamihana, interference would have been too late to prevent certain robbery and probable bloodshed. Finally the whole party was taken back up the river without doing any further harm than giving the Auckland citizens a severe fright. The Europeans owed their salvation on this occasion to Wiremu Tamihana, the Waikato rebel.

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Immediately after the Patumahoe affair had been brought to this amicable conclusion, news arrived in Waikato of a dreadful disaster at Taranaki, in which Wetini and most of the Ngatihaua contingent had fallen. Wetini and old Porokoru, who led the party, having reached Waitara eager for battle, sent off a taunting challenge to General Pratt. It ran as follows:--

"Friend, I have heard your word--come to fight me; that is very good. Come inland, and let us meet each other. Fish fight at sea. Come inland, and let us stand on our feet. Make haste, make haste. Do not delay. That is all I have to say to you--make haste.

From Wetini Taiporutu; from Porokoru; from all the chiefs of Ngatihaua and Waikato." 12 The challenge was accepted: the combatants met at Mahoetahi, and according to a preconcerted plan, Wetini's party were surrounded by an overpowering force and cut to pieces. Four men only escaped unwounded, a brother of Wetini's fled with a bayonet sticking in his body, which he afterwards preserved as a great trophy, and all the survivors declared their only wonder was that the soldiers had allowed a single person to escape. Wetini's body was carried to Taranaki and honourably buried in the church-yard. Equal respect was paid to some man unknown, who was taken for old

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Porokoru. "It is a curious fact," says General Pratt in his despatch, "that the two chiefs who signed the challenge were both killed." It is a still more curious fact that Porokoru must have come to life again after being thus dead and buried, for he still survives to fight us gallantly in the present war.

The greatest indignation was felt and expressed by the Ngatihaua against Rewi and his men, to whose failure to support them they attributed the disaster. Rewi, on his part, says that Wetini was a rash fool, who would not listen to advice; that he sent him down messenger after messenger urging him to retire before it was too late; that his last messenger actually followed too far and was caught in the snare with the others and killed (being one of the very few Ngatimaniapoto who fell in the war); and that he could not have done more for Wetini without injury to the common cause. All this is quite true, but the loss of Wetini while Rewi sat inactive has ever since rankled deeply in the minds of the Ngatihaua, and increased the hereditary hatred between the two tribes.

The fallen chief, who as a dashing leader was a general favourite in his tribe, and was more beloved than even Tamihana himself, was loudly lamented at his home in Waikato. Every evening, for months afterwards, the women of Tamahere met at sunset to raise the "tangi" for the dead, and moaned forth the doleful dirge until nightfall. The traveller riding about the

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neighbourhood constantly came upon small parties, who, meeting each other, had alighted from their horses, and were sitting in the dust to howl and wail for Wetini.

But the general grief at the terrible disaster, so far from disheartening the Waikato tribes, and putting a stop to their interference in the war, as was expected by many, had the contrary effect of stimulating their zeal; and many who had disapproved of Wetini's expedition were now burning to join in the conflict, and avenge the blood of their kinsmen. Tamihana himself was strongly pressed by his tribe to lead them to battle, but though so far persuaded as to write a letter to the Bishop of New Zealand, announcing his intention of going to Taranaki, he appears to have been still restrained by reason, and did not carry out his design.

But others began to flock to Taranaki, not only from Waikato, but from Tauranga, Rotorua, and more remote places. The Ngatihaua tribe joined in great numbers, and signalized themselves by ill-judged and reckless assaults on the English positions, in which many lives were lost.

At the moment when every one expected that the petty quarrel at Taranaki must inevitably merge in a general war between the two races, the fighting was suddenly stopped by the intervention of Wiremu Tamihana, of which an account will be given in the next chapter.

1   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. E. No. 2, 16.
2   Taranaki Herald, Jan. 16, 1858.
3   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. E. No. 2, 23.
4   Ibid. E. No. 2, 24.
5   Ibid. E. No. 2, 26.
6   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. E. No. 3, 23. Encl. 1.
7   N.Z. Papers, 1860. E. No. 3, A. 1.
8   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1861. E. No. 1, 1.
9   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1861. F. No. 1, App. D.
10   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. E. No. 3, 52.
11   N.Z. Parl. Papers. E. No. 1, A. 3.
12   N.Z. Parl. Paper, 1861. E. No. 1, A. 1.

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