EXTRACTS FROM CAPTAIN MCDONNELL'S DIARY.
On arrival at Taumarunui I rode to Matahania about 7 miles further on, and up the river, and from thenee to an old Maori settlement named "Pungapunga". Topine who had accompanied me from Maraekowhai left me here while he canoed up the Ongarue branch of the Wanganui river, he returned the following day. The country about here is open and available.
Taumarunui is about 120 miles from Pipiriki, calculating the latter to be 75 miles from Wanganui Township. Topine left an influential young fellow with me, named Ngatae, to shew me about the country, we rode further up the river to the mouths of two or three streams that empty themselves into the main river, these streams take their rise from a high range named 'Taurewa'. Here I picked up some pieces of quartz in which gold has since been found.
On arriving at Taumarunui with Topine some of the natives had a slight objection to my going prospecting in the ranges until they had communicated with the King, but Topine said - "As I was the means of bringing you up here, Ngatae will shew you over my land". However as I could see he only said this as he had brought me up, I told him I would not go any further than I had been, lest it cause disputes among themselves, at which he appeared pleased,
and replied "After you have returned, Tukimata will go to the Kuiti and take some pieces of quartz, they had shewn me, with him and arrange with Mana about having this part of the country prospected. The King cannot object, because though he, the King, has decreed there is to be no prospecting for gold o any land selling, leasing, or road making, yet he has been, and is now in receipt of rents for lands leased to Europeans. He has been the first to break through his own laws, and has a party of Fenians residing with him who are, with his permission, going to prospect for gold at the Punui, a place near to the Kuiti.
Tukimata is an influential man, and he and Ngatae seem to be held in much respect by the other natives. The former is constantly going to and fro from his village, Taumarunui, to the Kuiti.
To go to the Kuiti from here, you have to proceed up the Ongarui a short distance, and strike off to the left, crossing the Mokau near its source, and near the mountain 'Rangitoto', and ride straight to the Kuiti. It takes the natives a day and a half to get them from Taumarunui.
The natives say the King hassome Europeans living with him who are in the habit of going to and fro to the Thames They say these are Irish men and Piniana's (Fenians) I was asked if I was an Irishman, to which I replied in the affirmative. They then said, that one of the Kings pakehas had promised the King, that his Hapu 500 strong would come
to the Kuiti if he, the King, wished. I told them that in all probability these men were outcasts who had fled from the habitations of honest men to escape the ends of justice. The natives also report there is five tons of powder stored at Kuiti.
I explained to the natives the benefit they would derive if gold were found in payable quantities on their land, and assured them, on their asking the question, that the Government would never authorize anyone to dig without their permission, and in any case if they allowed diggers to prospect, they need not be afraid of their land being taken from them, and I illustrated the Thames gold field as an example. They seemed struck with this, and pleased at the idea that gold might be found on their lands.
On my way up the river and when I had reached "Te Whakahorohoro", Topine dispatched a canoe from his place 'Maraekowhai' with Ngatae and some men to fetch me up to his Kainga. On my arriving there he told me he had sent the canoe to Wanganui to fetch me up to shew me the country, having known me before when I accompanied Mete Kingi to "Hikurangi" - The house at Taumarunui as I had at that time told him I thought gold existed in that partof the country.
On my coming away they particularly enquired of me if I had received permission from Mr.Woon, in that I, a pakeha, had visited them, as when they had sent a canoe to
Wanganui for me they thought perhaps I would require to obtain his permission. To which I replied, "That I was not aware the Government wished to prevent Europeans seeing them at their Kaingas in the manner in which I had done". They made me promise to visit them again, Topine following me to the canoe and saying "The next time I send for you I hope t be able to shew you all over the country, and in the mean while Ngatae and others will prospect about, and take down when they go any stones or specimens they may find. Three natives then manned the canoe and brought me safely down the river to Wanganui.
The above is a rough summary I have culled from my brothers Diary with his permission for the satisfaction of the Honourable the Defence Minister.
My brother also tells me that Topine received a letter lately from Titokowaru, in which he mentions casually, that if Topine intends paying him a visit he had better do so soon, as he intends leaving the Waitara and returning to the Ngutu o te Manu in March next, after a meeting which is to he held at Parihaka about that date.
Topine complained that although he had been appointed an assessor, about a year ago, he had not received any salary, and that other assessors had mentioning them by name.
Tukimata is a very influential man, and with proper
treatment might prove of use to the Government.
The Natives expressed a wish I should accompany my brother on his next trip, and if the Government think fit, I will be happy to report to them from personal observation.
There are two fine seams of coal in the country mentioned above.