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After the sham fight and war dance the Hokianga people under Tamati Waka Nene proceeded to the settlement; then followed the weeping, the speechifying, and the feasting. The Ngaitawake aid other tribes concerned, having signified their willingness to make peace, it was unanimously agreed that the parties should wait on the Venerable Archdeacon Henry Williams, and request him to act as mediator. The New Zealander's keen sense of honour often deters him from pursuing a course which his better judgment dictates; often he is most anxious to be reconciled to his enemy, but the mere probability of his proposals being rejected by his opponent so influences his conduct as to induce him to carry on a warfare without the remotest chance of success; in other words, he is utterly regardless of consequences, and his speeches, together with his actions, lead us to the inevitable conclusion, that if all the gold of California and Australia was at his command, he would sacrifice it, and his life too, for the gratification of this honour falsely so called.
Hence the custom among this people, namely, the acceptance of the services of a neutral party, for the purpose of establishing peaceful relations. The feud at Taranaki must be healed in this way, otherwise the strife is likely to continue, till one tribe or the other is exterminated. To locate ourselves within a Maori pa, with the hope of reconciling the belligerents, is more fanciful than wise; indeed, no better mode could be adopted, to deprive ourselves of that influence which, as civilized and Christian men, we necessarily exert over the untutored native mind. Nor may we fully calculate the mischievous tendency of publishing in the native language, the insolent speeches of those natives at Taranaki who have been pleased to style themselves "friendly." Their friendliness consists in offering land for sale that was not theirs; they held it conjointly with the tribes who are now resisting their assumption. The absence of their friendliness moreover, is but too apparent in their rejection of the mediation of a British Governor, and in their present daring disregard of British law. As these people are not disposed to listen to the voice of moral suasion, have they been peremptorily commanded to lay down their guns?
It is absolutely necessary that the mediatorial party should have the confidence and esteem of the opposing powers, as in the case of Archdeacon Williams, who is regarded by the Maori people as the Father of the Native Churches, and a man of piety and "excellent understanding." To mention certain persons, therefore, as "peacemakers," is to acknowledge their merits, --to acknowledge that they are respected and beloved.
Waka Nene and the other Chiefs interested in the strife, having secured the cordial co-operation of Mr. Williams, set off in company with the Archdeacon to Pomare's pa at Otuihu.
The number of natives was considerable, for independently of the Hokianga force, there were the tribes of Kororareka and other places. On the arrival of the army in the canoes at the place appointed for disembarking, Waka Nene and a
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few other influential personages were chosen to form the suite of the venerable missionary. The negotiations were not quite so tardy as those carried on by the Vienna Conferences, for the Maori diplomatist had not then learnt the art of trifling with serious matters. We are not prepared to assert that certain propositions were made which would be answered by a simple yea or nay. Not so; there would be a large amount of discussion on the question then pending, and the oratorical powers of all the great men would be enlisted on one side or the other. Governor Sir George Grey evinced a thorough acquaintance with the views of the native people, when he wrote on this subject. His Excellency cogently observes:--
"According to the custom of the nation, the most effective speeches were invariably principally made up from recitations of portions of ancient poetry. In this case, the art of the orator was shown by selecting a quotation from an ancient poem, which figuratively, but dimly shadowed forth his intentions and opinions. As he spoke, the people were pleased with the beauty of the poetry, and at his knowledge of their ancient poets, whilst their ingenuity was excited to endeavour to detect from his figurative language, what were his intentions and designs. Quotation after quotation, as they were rapidly and forcibly chaunted forth, made his meaning clearer and clearer. Curiosity and attention were by degrees riveted upon the speaker, and if his sentiments were in unison with the great mass of the assembly, and he was a man of influence, as each succeeding quotation gradually removed the doubt which hung upon the minds of the attentive group who were seated upon the ground around him, murmur of applause rose after murmur of applause, until, at some closing quotation which left no doubt as to his real meaning, the whole assembly gave way to tumults of delight, and applauded equally the determination he had formed, his poetic knowledge, and his oratorical art, by which under images beautiful to them, he had for so long a time veiled, and at last so perfectly manifested his real intentions."
The arguments put forth by Archdeacon Williams and the influential personages who accompanied him, had their desired effect upon the great mass of the people, and according to the customs of those times, conciliatory messages were forwarded to the camp of the adversary. That most exemplary missionary, the Rev. N. Turner, also used his best efforts to effect a reconciliation between the adverse tribes, and in order to carry out his benevolent intentions undertook a journey to the Bay of Islands in company with the Rev. J. Whitely. The Kororareka tribes were not backward in giving expression to their kindly sentiments, and their numerous quotations from the ancient poets were said to be extremely appropriate. Amongst many other excellent poems recited on the occasion was the following, the sentiments of which called forth the admiration of the whole assemblage:--
Oh! wonder not that we should be estranged
That we should search out other homes than these,
For fires are kindled to destroy us,
And men are deemed no better than the poor wild weed,
Art thou, the descendant of famed Puhitaniwharau,
Of yore? So am I.
And wouldst thou overwhelm me quite,
So that my name and place may
Never more be heard among the tribes?
Ah! this thou canst not do, for I am,
Like thyself, the offspring of the great one
Marutuwehi, whose teeth were sharper
Than the wintry winds.
Are we no equal? Then let us
Share the lands bequeathed to us
By our forefathers, even Puketihi.
My people, think you that the land
Will wing its way to Tauranga?
Tho' the land apportioned to us be but small,
Grasp it firmly.
When our sires departed, said they not to us
"Oh! sons, be not hasty in your projects or decisions,
"For the high minded ones are ever careful;
"But you may be hasty in lifting up your voices
"To quell the din of battle; you may
"Be hasty to establish peace and order;
"This will make you mighty.
"And thousands will rise up to laud your greatness.'
At the close of the speechifying and singing the warriors, amounting, we are told to two thousand, joined in a war dance. This, however, was not the savage yell of defiance, but the blending together of the voices of a great multitude whose feelings were in unison; --who had long experienced the extreme misery of war, and who were about to enjoy the advantages of peace. It is not too much to say that even the cruel, barbaric New Zealander could feelingly say, with the Christian poet --
"O war, what art thou?
After the brightest conquest what remains
Of all thy glories?
* * * * *
-----"When the song
Of dear bought joy, with many a triumph swelled,
Salutes the victors ear and soothes his pride,
How is the grateful harmony profaned
With the sad disonance of virgins' cries,
Who mourn their brothers slain! of mothers hoar
Who clasp their withered hands and fondly ask,
With iteration shrill, --their slaughtered sons!
How is the laurel's verdure stained with blood
And soiled with widow's tears!"
The war dance, was unusually spirited and very imposing; the bright gleam of the musket raised high above the head, made the scene terrible to behold, whilst it evinced the marshal pride of these daring warriors. At the close of the performance, blank cartridges were fired into the air, as a tribute of respect for the dead who had fallen during the strife, and as a
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mark of reciprocity of feeling, and unanimity of purpose.
Thus terminated the wars of Kawiti with his countrymen; and oh, what horrors meet us at almost every step we venture to take! We search in vain for one tear of sympathy on the part of the infuriated warrior as he grasped his blood-stained battle-axe to seal the doom of thousands. To take the life of his distinguished prisoner, in cold blood, with a costly weapon, was a meritorious act in his estimation, and equally meritorious was it to chain in perpetual bondage the offspring of his fallen foe. The merciless deeds of the deeply degraded New Zealanders were sought to be atoned for, by offering up to their imaginary gods, as a propitiatory sacrifice, the quivering heart of the bleeding victim, nor knew they the while, that the precious blood of Him who gave them their being, had been poured forth to secure their individual salvation, and for the complete establishment of "peace on earth and good will towards men."
The New Zealander imagined that war was not only justifiable, but a pursuit in every respect commendable, not being aware of the solemn fact that war is murder on an extensive scale, the Divine Being alone claiming the retributive power, as declared in his word, --"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Indeed it is very questionable whether the Maori priest in practising his numerous divinations, and promising a paradise to the hero of blood, considered he was propagating error, although we are informed by several who have written on this subject, that "they pretended to divine."
All things are possible to the Almighty, and comparatively speaking, possible to those who believingly cling to His unalterable promises; but it could scarcely be expected, that the limited instructions which the restive Hongihika, and his adherents, heard from the lips of the excellent men who had the honor of introducing the Gospel to these shores, would totally revolutionize their views, for in that age of cannibalism, they were "slow to hear," whilst "their feet were swift to shed blood."
Since these days of severe trial, upwards of thirty years have rolled into eternity, never to be recalled, and what advancement have the New Zealanders made? it may be asked during this lengthened period. It is true we hear of much being done, and some of the latest authors inform us that Christianity has transformed "a nation of millions of cannibals into a vast, orderly, and regulated Christian community."
Now, we have no desire whatever, to undervalue the good which has been achieved; and we are even willing to admit the assertion, so often announced from the platform, that the Christian Missionary "paved the way for colonization." But when we are told, that there are scores, and "hundreds of the native people, who have been made 'wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus;'"-- that they "are walking in the fear of the Lord and in the light of his countenance;"--when we are told this and much more, we are tempted to say with the great Evangelical Poet Wesley:-- "Ye different sects, who all declare, 'Lo here is Christ!' or 'Christ is there!' Your stronger proofs divinely give, And shew me where the Christians live."
That the natives generally are in a deplorable condition at the present time, no one we think will dispute. The ancient heathenish observances are being resorted to, and it is no uncommon thing for natives who have been received into the Church by baptism to seek information at the maori oracle, and undergo the process of tattooing.
Is there no remedy for all this? We trust that the remedy is at hand, for we learn with unfeigned pleasure that the Bible is being translated into the Maori tongue. The mere annunciation of divine truth unsustained by faith, and unwearied ardent prayer, is not likely, --as we unhappily, experience among ourselves, -- to achieve much good. An enquiring people, like the New Zealanders, when possessed of that blessed Book, will "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" its sacred truths; and their minds will be drawn out after other pursuits, besides the love of war, and the hateful lust after gold, --evils; which are not only tolerated by professing Christians, in these days of mere intellectual religion, but also warmly advocated.
The study of the sublime visits of prophecy, by the Native population, which are now being "unsealed to every eye;"--the chronological order of events, contained in the prophetic portions of Holy Writ, which are daily becoming matters of history, announcing with trumpet-tongued voice, the speedy advent of the world's Saviour, --will, we are persuaded, so rivet the attention, and overawe the mind, that the petty jealousies about land, and other equally insignificant matters, will be lost in the vastness of these heavenly subjects, --a spirit of prayer and watchfulness will be engendered, and a consequent preparedness for the awfully solemn crisis, when the proclamation shall be made by the Mighty Angel, like the roar of thunder, resounding from pole to pole, -- "BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH!"
END OF PART I.