Object #1003669 from MS-Papers-0032-0030
From: Native Minister - Administration of native affairs, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0030 (32 digitised items). Includes a letter in Maori with translation for an article in Waka Maori newspaper
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Decr. 30 1870.
The enclosed letters were forwarded to me for publication in Te Waka Maori. I informed the natives that I could not publish letters of so personal and prejudicial a character but that I would forward them to you which I now take the liberty of doing.
In doing so I trust you will not consider that I am presuming or interfering in matters with which I have no concern if I offer a few explanatory remakks, by way of a private communication, with reference to Manaena's letter respecting Government officers at Turanga. The subject is a delicate one, and one which I approach with a considerable amount of hesitation. The parties of whom I am about to speak are entire strangers to me. I am not therefore actuated by any private feeling of animosity. I shall simply speak of a state of things as I observed them without pointing my remarks at the persons concerned any more than if they were mere machines. I consider that holding the important position which you
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do in the Government and having the guidance and direction of affairs largely, very largely, affecting the interest and welfare of the whole colony every scrap of reliable unformation bearing upon native matters and native feelings must be of value to you. It is not proble that from your position you obtain the same view of things in your travels as a man of less note would do - people are on their guard, and the most pleasing side of the picture is held up to view. Perhaps then you will pardon me if I presume to lift a little corner of the curtain so as to afford merely a partial view of what I myself have observed. Did any other gentleman hold your office probably I should not trouble myself so much in the matter. I have but lately returned from Turanga whither I went with Karaitiana to get a memorial signed by the natives of that district relative to subdivision of native lands, and which will shortly be forwarded to the Govt. very numerously signed. During my stay there I had opportunities of observing many things. I found that the two great undercurrents, which sometimes agitate the surface
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in that district are Hau Hauism and gross immorality. With respect to Hau Hauism perhaps it is hardly necessary for me to say that it is an element largely prevalent amongst the population at Turanga. It is easy to see that the proclivities of very many of them are in favor of the Hau Haus. And it is not to be wondered at that their sympathies are more or less in favor of their countrymen and relations. As a body they have not had so much intercourse with intelligent Europeans as our Heretanunga natives, and do not appear to have advanced so far in civilisation. They are for the most part but a people just beginning to emerge from a state of barbarism, and they do not look upon Hau Hau atrocities with the same horror as we do. The Hau Hau are but carrying on a way after the manner with which all Maories are familiarised both by actual practice and tradition. This being the case they cannot regard Hau Hau ferooity with the same repugnance as we do. It is not then to be wondered at if returned Hau Haus settled amongst them find means of keeping their friends in arms
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informed as to the movements and strength of the Government party. I am not certainly in a position to prove that this man or that man is a spy, but I have not the slightest doubt that Te Kooti obtained information from amongst them as to what is going on. He obtained information and guides at the time of the massacre, and would again no doubt if an opportunity offered. I think if there should be trouble with the King party in the Waikato (which is not improbable) the settlers of the township of Ormond would not be very safe. Doubtless bands of ruffians would be traversing the bush and pou ncing upon outsettlements for the purpose of distracting the attention of the Govt. and drawing off some of the troops. I observed amongst some of the elder men an ill-concealed dislike to pakehas and a jealousy of their supremacy. In speaking to them about the proceedings of Te Hau Haus they maintained a stubborn reserve, and I could see that they were proud of the warlike feats of their rebel countrymen.
The Ngatiporous have done good service for the country, and would again no
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doubt if required - but I did not perceive any symptoms amongst them of extraordinary friendship for the whices. They appear to be an ambitious people and proud of being brought forward into a prominent position amongst the tribes. They are fond of excitement and hove a change now and then from their ordinary routine of life - and I imagine they think if they can gratify this feeling and promote their own interests at the same time by fighting on the pakeha side it is much better than having to endure the inconveniences and hardships of an outlawed life. I fear they are beginning to think too much of themselves and imagine that their services are indispensable. They are led by their chiefs are and so long as their chiefs retained on our side by proper and conciliatory measures the services of the people will be secured to the Government. Major Rapata, their principal leader, is man possessed of a considerable amount of astuteness and sagacity. He is self willed, impetuous, and rather imperious.
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He has an immense influence with his people at the present time, partly arising from his own rangatiratanga and partly from his general ability and unusual energy of character, and also from the patrongge bestowed upon him by the Government. I take him to be a man, who, if judiciously managed, might be of immense service to the country - otherwise he might become a nuisance, if nothing worse. Drinking amongst the natives appears to have spread to an alarming extent at Turanga - at all events there was a fearful amount of it whilst I was there. Men, women and children, old and young, seemed to be possessed with a mania for drink. Fighting, cursing, and rolling about in the dust biting and tearing each others hair appeared to be the orger of the day. The publicans closed their houses and locked the doors to keep them out, but numbers flocked round the doors and windows, and if a door were opened to get a bucket of water, or for any other purpose, they would rush in and struggle with the attendants for the mastery - and it was impossible
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to keep them out. There does not appear to be any great cordiality of feeling between Major Ropata and Karaitiana, who I may remark by the way is ambitious of representing the natives in the General Assembly. It struck me also that the Turanga natives regard him (Ropata) with some degree of jealousy.
I come now to the question of immorality. - the subject of Manaena's letter. It is certain that an example of open and undisguised immorality shown by those placed by the Government in the highest and most responsible positions as leaders and guiders of the people must have a tendency to demoralise the native population and to destroy that respect with which they themselves ought to be regarded rendering them powerless for good. How for instance could a Magistrate set himself against adultery and such like abominations if living openly in the commission of the same crime himself? And things are even worse than this at Turanga. In the
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early days of the Colony it was customary among Europeans (even in the Towns) to keep a native housekeeper and nothing much was thought of it - his digty and position was in no way compromised by it. But things are very differenc now. As the country became populated and civilization advanced such things began to be looked upon as discreditable, and at the present time no man who has any respect for himself or the opinions of his fellow men would live in so degrading a position more particularly a public officer and a magistrate. And the natives are fully aware of this, and have learned to look down upon and treat with disrespect such men. However distasteful it may be to me, truth and a regard for the public welfare obiges me to state that the first individual mentioned in Manaena's letter not only keeps one native concubine but a regular seraglio, and (as it is generally reported) is always willing to accomodate a friend with a bed in his establishment. One woman (a half-caste named Pimia) kept by him was lawfully married to a native named Sydney; but having a quarrel with her husband she
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fled from him and found refuge in the arms of this most model magistrate - a very original method of extending to distressed women the protection of the Law which he was sworn to uphold. Her husband to console himself for his loss forthwith took to himself another half-caste with whom he is now living. But it appears that, his heart warming towards his first wife, he began to prowl at night about the dwelling of the gentleman who had given her protection, and one night his second wife caught them in the act of cohabitation, and then a most disgraceful scene ensued. The language that each used to the other was abominably obscene, and disgusting. I myself, Mr. Ross a surveyor, and others, stood for a few minutes witnessing the quarrel. A Native named Raniera Turoa (who was a little the worse for liquor at the time) told Pimia to hold her tongue and return into the house, but she called for a couple of armed constabulary to take him into custody - they came but very properly did not apprehend him. Another woman kept by the same gentleman is said has been a wife of Te Kooti. The other gentleman mentioned by Manaena
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is well spoken of by both natives and Europeans. He also has a cast off mistress of te Kooti. This latter one told me that she was willing to come to Napier with Karaitiana but that Major Westrup would not allow her as she was a Hau Hau (prisoner I suppose). It is said that this woman Pimia acts as a procuress for the gentleman who keeps her. I was told that she once enticed a young girl the sister of Sydney (her lawful husband) into the bedroom telling her no one was in the room. She then pushed her upon the bed and the gentleman of the house was discovered standing behind the door. Syndey's second wife however happening to be present, rushed in and dragged her out. I shall not further offend your ears by relating more of these disgraceful proceedings. I have considered deeply over the thing since my return from Turanga, and it was with much hesitation and reluctance that I made up my mind to speak at all about the matter, but having done so it was necessary that I should speak plainly so as to give you a correct idea of the existing state of things. There can be no doubt
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