January 23rd, 1854.
My dear McLean,
I have not written to you for some time lately, as I have been daily expecting to behold the light of your countenance --- but now that you have gone to Auckland I must fire an epistle to give you some idea of how affairs are progressing in this part of the world.
First about the Waiwakaiho Block. Henare te Puni and his party, though they obstinately asserted their right, still kept pretty quiet, and as I had reserved £50 for them and had promised them a reserve I had every reason to suppose that the difficulty would not be a serious one and that after a little coquetting they would soon come round. But lately a reinforcement to his party has come up from Wellington and they now number about 30 men. Their insolence is unbounded and they now talk of taking all the land up to Umu te kai and turning all the Natives off it. Whether they can do this of course remains to be seen. I had been relying on your arrival accompanied, as I expected you could have been by some of the Wellington Chiefs, to put down these rascals and compel them to come to terms --- and now even I fear I cannot deal satisfactorily with them until you come.
Old Imlay brought up some cock and bull story about
your having received no instructions to come up here, and knowing nothing of the £1000 being sent, and the good people have been pleased to get up a little virtuous indignation upon the occasion, of which of course I come in for my share. Everybody I meet almost asks me to explain, to which my invariable reply is that I know nothing about it and have no explanation to give. Many of them I believe fancy that we are playing into each other's hands to cheat Taranaki out of land (under secret orders from the Governor) for the benefit of Wellington. At any rate they have adopted a memorial to Col. Wynyard which I hear has been numerously signed, praying I believe that he will pack you off post haste to buy up the whole Country.
I know very well that you have been hard worked for some time now, and would be the last man in the Country to try to get you to curtail your time of rest and recreation --- but at the same time I think under the peculiar circumstances of the case, it would be well for you to come here for a few days and just get this Waiwakaiho affair put in proper train, and do something about the £1000 and then you could go back to Auckland and enjoy yourself as much as you please.
Raniera and Co. are still very importunate about their offer of the mountain but I have always put them off till you shd. come. I am afraid it never will do to make a payment, and on the other hand I fear that to refuse will be to lose the offer of the Hua. The Taranaki people say that
if any payment is made to Whatamataruru for the mountain, they will at once turn off the Tatara settlers --- and I believe they would do it too. I am thinking of calling a monster meeting and "having it out" between the parties in a regular set-to, and see which gains the day that way. In the event (a very likely one) of the korero ending without settling anything and that the Taranaki Natives still continued their threats of molesting the Tatara people I should tell Raniera that I must refuse the mountain, and if he did not choose to relieve the Hua from that condition, I must carry my £1000 elsewhere or send it back to Auckland. I have not yet quite made up my mind about this, as it is just harvest time and I could not easily collect them now. I have not done it before because I felt that anything about the £1000 ought to come from both of us and that I ought not to interfere by myself in any way.
Another subject which I have deferred till your arrival has been the claims of sundry returned slaves upon Tataraimaka the men are not numerous (not more than 3 or 4 I believe) but the matter must be attended to shortly or they will give trouble. There are also several people at the southwhose claims on this block must be extinguished. The whole amount will I fancy be very small.
I hope you will be in Auckland when the financial affairs affecting this Dept. are settled. I have written to Dr, Sinclair privately, on the subject of either giving me an
allowance like that which Sir G. Grey was going to make to you in 1850, or permitting me to expend, without previous authority, a certain fixed amount annually, for Provisions and small presents to Natives. I have explained the state of affairs pretty fully to the Doctor, and referred him to you for verification or any additional information which may be wanted. I have also hinted at a corning application for a Native Assistant or Clerk, for which office I have our friend Bob in my eye. Row that I have nothing to do with the Police, I must have some one to pack off in a hurry to a distance, or to attend and report Native koreros, etc. etc. This subject I have also treated of pretty fully to the Dr.
I know that I can rely upon you to support me in these affairs, which it is impossible that the people in Auckland can understand or appreciate. Indeed no one can who has not been in the office itself. In fact my appointment, since I came here has been rather a losing affair for me than otherwise. I have paid Peter Hoskin and Sharland upwards of £50 for little things which could not be charged in the public bills, to say nothing of the incessant loans of from 6d to 20/-, few of which ever find their way back again. I therefore trust to you to get something done for me --- if possible without my asking for it. I would prefer the second plan to that of the allowance, as I am sure the amount of the latter would not cover my expenditure, unless indeed it were fixed at such an amount as would appear disproportioned to my
salary (not less than £100 a year) and which of course I could hardly hope for.
The Provincial Council and their puppet the Superintendent, are as far as I can ascertain doing just nothing at all, except passing quarterly estimates. They attempted the other day to bring forward a tax of 1/- an acre on rural lands and as assessed tax on town property, for the introduction of labour, but it was received with such a storm of popular indignation out of doors that they had to cry peccari and drop it.
The old man is blooming and sends his love. He says he intends to write to you if he has time.
My dear McLean,
Very faithfully yours,
G. S. Cooper.