Object #1004370 from MS-Papers-0032-0445

12 pages written 5 Jul 1873 by Frederick Edward Maning in Hokianga to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - F E Maning, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0445 (56 digitised items). 56 letters written from Auckland and Hokianga, 1871-1876, & undated. Includes undated letter from Maning to von Sturmer; undated draft letter from McLean to Maning; letter (in Maori) to Maning from Hare Wirikake, Te Waimate, 1871; paper entitled `The Native question'.

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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English (ATL)


July 5th. 1873.

My Dear McLean,

I have received your sea-faring letter of the 25th. ultimo. You would not expect me to write to you often if you really knew how incessantly I am occupied. I am home here a month this day, during which time, what with arrears of work to be pulled up, through having gone to Hawke's Bay, and the great increase of the Land Court work, and new claims etc. coming in, and a most voluminous correspondence, I have been writing from daylight in the morning every day till some hours into the night; Sundays and all. I have now, thank goodness, got level with my work, and have as many claims to hear as will require six Courts in different places, one after the other as fast as the work can be done; but I have felt, I assure you, two or three times, as if I should have to give in, and allow myself beaten.

Now, as you say, "about Waikato". What is there to be said about it? You have done all a man could do, for years back, to maintain peace, and stave off the evil hour; but nevertheless, as you know, I have always believed we should have another serious war; be that as it may. You have also, in this case, done all that could be done, all that was possible to do, to get over the untoward occurrence without making an actual war of it; which is to be avoided for many reasons, if possible. You have also, from what I have been able to observe, been feeling the pulse of the native tribes, to see who can be depended on to assist, and who will keep neutral. What the result is, I, of course, do not know; but on the whole, I hope it to be favourable. What then is the position? In the first place, it appears as if we had to expect from the first, that the murderers will not be given up, and cannot be got at at all without fighting; and if we once begin fighting, the chances are more than ten to one that it will lead to a most desperate war, a war which will require every item of strengt we can raise, every man, and every shilling of money, to ensure a successful conclusion; for we must be perfectly successful, or else perfectly ruined. I need not recount the evils, both internal and external, which a failure or want of full success would bring upon us; and a complete success and complete subjugation of the enemy, would certainly in its direct and collateral effects, fully pay us for all the cost, and put us in a position from which we could never again be driven.

In the Second place, can we avoid fighting? To execute the warrants is to begin the war; and to refrain from doing so would be to give the natives a triumph which would so much increase their already sufficient influence and vanity, that before very long they would force it upon us, or oblige us to avowedly give up the anextion (?) of sovreignty of the Crown over a large part of New Zealand; for the success of the King Party, as it would be looked upon, would bring many to their standard, and there is much lurking disaffection all over the country. The affair is a miserable dilemma, for which no man can be blamed; for it is the mere consequence of such two races being placed in the position in which they are, with respect to each other, in this Island.

To demand a compensation in land for Sullivan's murder, would be laughed at, except backed up by the full force necessary to carry on the war to a successful issue. Under those circumstances, a demand of that nature might be acceded to in a limited degree; but whether, after going to the expence of preparing for war, it would be worth while to take that course, is doubtful; for the peace would last, at best, for only a few years; and next time we should have to fight the whole Maori "huhu" in all probability. Besides, such a course would involve the inconsistency of treating the rebellious natives as a foreign independent nation (I wish we could), and not as British subjects.

Almost all our difficulties in this country have, in reality, arisen from our engrafting on the Treaty of Waitangi, a theory which, I think, does not properly belong to it, that is to say, that because the Sovreignty is in the British Crown the British civil and ponal law is also to be considered in force, and the only law recognisable in the Country. This is not the case in some other of the British possessions, India for instance; not always strictly, according to practice here. Yet it is undoubtedly the theory upon which all the proceedings of the Government and the Legislation have been obliged to act. I think that strict British law should have only been taken to be established in such districts as the Government should have seen cause to proclaim from time to time; and that settlers living outside the pale should have done so at their own risk, and only expecting such protection as the Government should see fit or politic to give.

It seems to me, therefore, from what I know of matters, though not very well informed, that while hoping and wishing for peace, we must prepare for war; and that in earnest, and without any regard to expence. I think it has become necessary to make a demonstration of our whole force, and march into Waikato. This itself might cause some decent compensation to be made at the last moment; which might serve as an excuse for not pushing things to the last extremity; and the salutory effect of a grand demonstration of force, (the only thing respected by natives), might last a few years; and time, to us, is gain. But nevertheless I would not by any means count on such a favourable result; though out play should be to leave open to the last moment, every possible chance of coming to a peaceable conclusion. It is fortunate, as I gather that the natives are in no hurry to begin; and this will give you time to perfect your plans, and delay, till a more favourable time of year. But I think we must count on war, and expect nothing else; while determined to take any chance of avoiding it, and therefore putting off the firing of the first shot to the last reasonable moment.

But now I come to the part of the subject on which I am quite without data to give an opinion upon. I have no idea whatever of what European force you can raise; for that must be our main trust at the last resort. Nor do I at all know how many natives you can raise all along the East Coast, and whether you can expect them to fight in earnest. To me, it appears we want a large force, and I count one Waikato enemy equal to four of the best Friendlies you have. The Waikatos will fight with utter desperation, well knowing their doom, if defeated; and I know very well what the style of the fighting of the majority of the Friendlies would be, except when elated and excited by the consciousness of greatly superior numbers on their side.

As to the conduct of the war, - my rough idea is this, - what we want the enemy to do is to meet us on open ground, where our European regular tactics can be brought into play, and where cavalry can act; and secondly, to fight general engagements with their full force, such as would lead to decisive consequences. I think we can force them to do this by marching in force over the border into the best part of the Waikato country, declaring our object to take and confiscate all the land still remaining to the Waikato people, or any others having land in that country, who were not merely neutral, but who were not fighting on our side. We should take up and fortify a position as near the centre of the Waikato country as would suit our purposes, and declare ourselves in possession, as we, in fact, would be. This would put the onus on the enemy, of attacking us with all the force they could raise, and turning the tables on then, which, as I suppose our force superior in numbers, and acting on ground of our own choosing, would, in all probability, lead to their ruin in engagements of this kind. There would be much loss of life; and the enemy have not many men to spare; and they would soon be shattered in the attempt to serve an ajectment on us; and we might then turn defence into attack. But if not attacked, we could begin planting potatoes, as a sort of assertion of ownership; and at the same time harry the enemy every now and then, so as to prevent him from settling or cultivating anywhere on the open or rich level lands of the Waikato. In these last mentioned services, the Friendlies would be of inestimable service. If the Waikato did not attack us, the land would be "gone" before long; and if they did attack us on ground of our own choosing, it would be our own fault if we did not beat them. But there is not the slightest fear but they would attack us; if we were met with on our advance before we had arrived at the happy land, where we intended to take up our rest, no matter, all we want is to fight; and it would be as fair for one as the other. But the chances are that by a rapid march, Friendly natives probably in advance, we would have penetrated to where we wished to arrive, without any opposition at all. No luggage, or roads, or anything else would be required at first; nothing but a herd of bullocks, now and then driven after us. All the natives or anyone else might require for a while to subsist on would be plenty of beef, until we had gained an assured footing; and if the natives went first, and took up the ground, the pakehas, poor things; could come on at more leisure. You would require cavalry, but no artillery at all. It would only be a nuisance. This is a rough idea of what I think ought to be our first move in the war; if war it must come to, as I think likely. But there are many other things I had rather say to you, than write.

But all this time I do not know how many men you can raise; and above all things, if you can get the East Coast natives to join. I confess that if you cannot, I would feel baffled for anything but mere defensive measures; and in speaking of a European force, I mean men who know one end of a rifle from the other, and who can shoot home, and at least to be officered and commanded by regular soldiers.

When I came to Auckland from Wellington, I found that old Moses was red hot for a start with as many men as he could muster, and a lot of the Ngapuhi going wild to be off; but this was not the feeling of the majority as I well knew; who considered Moses as in too great a hurry. I sent word on my own responsibility to old Moses not to make too much noise till the proper time came; which he would be informed of soon enough when the Island began to rock. The Ngapuhi are all willing to aid the Government, but are not over willing to do so until they see that you can depend on the Arawa and Ngatipourou tribes, who they have old accounts with, and who they fully believe would join the King, if they, the Ngapuhi, were to march first into Waikato. You know best whether this would be the case or not; but I can tell you that the Ngapuhi believe it in general, and so do the Rarawa; and before I saw either of these tribes, you will remember, at Wellington I laid great stress on your first committing those natives, your old soldiers, against the King by actual fighting, before calling on the Northern natives. If the Government and the pakeha interest seemed in real danger, the Northern natives would turn out without any conditions at once; but they do not think it would be fair to call on them first in an offensive war. I tell you this as information of the feeling in general of the natives here. I was called upon the other day by all the Chiefs of the Rarawa; and this I can tell you was their general opinion, as it is of the Ngapuhi. I care nothing for what you may be told by individuals, or from any other quarter. I want you to know the truth. But do nit suppose that they would refuse to join you. You can have the two tribes, I am sure, when you like. But they would much rather, as I have said, see the East Coast natives and all others you can depend on, join first. If once you do call them out, however, I shall consider that you have done so from a feeling that it is a necessity, and that you are going in for the last extremity of merciless, unmitigated war, as it must be, and ought to be, seeing we have no mercy to expect from the enemy, and never can hope for peace while enough of them remain alive to be dangerous. It is a great pity; but so it is.

I know what you mean by "one of my Maori grumblers". The fellow is only an ignorant ragamuffin belonging to Marsh Brown Kawhiti; with whom I have been at daggers drawing for a long time, about a decision I gave in the Land Court against him, as was right I should do. The scoundrel "grumbler" knew I was at war with his Chief; but when he wrote to object to the hearing a (false) claim he is making, he did not know that I met March Brown at Auckland; and he said March Brown came to me hotfoot as soon as he heard the Ngapuhi might be implicated in the war doings, to beg me to make friends; for he wanted my interest with the Ngapuhi, which is far greater than his; so at once gave up all pretension to the land in dispute; and so we are now great friends, and "grumbler" sold; for March would knock his brains out if he meddled with me now; and until we fall out again, which will, I think, be in about six weeks from this time, about a piece of Government land he is claiming, and which, according to Maori notions of justice, he thinks we are bound in honour to give to him, as he gave in to me the other day at Auckland where he was in the wrong.

As for the other natives, he never had but one case in the Land Court, and he gained it; so he has no right to grumble. But he is making a bad claim now; and he, and all such sinners in such circumstances, would rather see the Devil in Court than me; for they are aware I know rather too much for them. I fear no grumblers.

As for making alterations in the Native Lands Act, I have no time to do anything of the kind, beyond the few Memos. I gave you at Wellington. Fenton will do something in the way of suggesti on, I dare say; but there are plenty of others, I perceive, who are ready with alterations; which are not Amendments, and which will either utterly put an end to the working of the Act, or cause something mighty like a rebellion, as, if we had not enough of that sort of thing. There are some noodles who have lived too long meddling with what they know nothing about, of whom Sir W. Martin is the noodliest (a prime good word;) I cannot wish any of them any worse than either to be hanged, or to have to do what I have to do during the next two months. I know which would happen to them. Although I do not take it upon myself to make any alterations in the Land Act, more than I formerly suggested; yet I can refer you to my "memorandum as a memorandum by Sir William William Martin and Dr. Shortland on Legislation etc. etc. etc.! This will shew the Amendment (?) I think ought not to be made, and from which, Heaven defend us! I see both by Sir W. Martin's memorandum, and what I heard from another Judge of the Supreme Court, that the learned Judges have done us the high compliment, for which I feel grateful and proud, to envy us poor devils of the Land Court our title of "Judge". We certainly neither deserved it, or expected it at first; but we have earned it, and think we have a right to it now, (not that I care a rap about it personally). But this I will say, that the respectable title of "Judge" was in the beginning a real advantage, in giving a sort of dignity to the Court, which did more in enabling us to enforce our awards by mere moral influence, you know. We had no other, and to change the designation of the Judges now would be a come down that would be much spoken of amongst the natives; and would vertainly not be any service or at all conducive to the strengthening the hands of the Judge. What if some of us poor beggars did kick up our heels when we were first set on horseback; human nature is weak, and all that is over now; and at all events I was not one of them. I only feel proud that the learned Judges have thought fit, as it is clear they do, to for a moment, institute a comparison between us, and them; and I have not scrupled to tell Sir W. Martin what an unintentional compliment he has paid us. But what, after all, do these learned Judges pay us these left-handed compliments for? They should be learned and wise enough to know that others can do that sort of thing, too. What, suppose I was to tell them all, that while revering their office, and bowing to their learning, their learning is not necessarily scholarship; neither is it statesmanship; and that their knowledge in the peculiar walk in which we are, is naught; and that the more learned they are in their own peculiar learning, the less likely are they to make good practical men of the world, capable of dealing with, or giving an opinion on such matters as we have to undertake, and do undertake successfully every day. Let one of them change places with one of us, at once, for one session; and I will lay odds that the Land Court Judge won't make worse work in the Supreme Court than the Supreme Court Judge will make in the Land Court. Damme, I'll back myself against any of them. Just give me the wig and gown, and here's at em! (I won't hang anyone.)

Webster has at last got rid of his business; and in a few months will have nothing to do. I think you will see him in the next Parliament; and I think he will make a valuable Member. As for myself, there is a great amount of work here which I am bound to do, and which I am anxiously expected to do, both by natives and Europeans; and I am determined to do it before I leave off. When I get my affairs at the other side of the water setteled, I shall be a rich man; and there is some hope of their being settled at last, I find; and anyhow, I am quite sufficiently independent to go into Parliament; and I hold that no man should enter Parliament who is not independent in a pecuniary sense. I won't go into parliament, however, if you are out. I don't mean out of Office, but out of parliament. I can't see far ahead; but from having been so much delayed by the Hawke's Bay affair, I fear it will take me a full year to do all there is before me now. You will see, by and bye, my Hawke's Bay Report. It is a milk and water affair; but so far as it goes, I believe just. I could not, of course, take much on myself in the way of a Report, in the presence of a great Judge of the Supreme Court; who openly, from the beginning, shewed us he considered we were no better than donkies. He might have thought so; but I, in his place, would not have shewn it.

You will see my Notice of Sir W. M's Memorandum, soon. It was written, like his letter, in hot haste; and like this, might have been worded better. But it contains what I mean.

Now the Duce is in it, if I have not given you "utu" for your salt water letter. I shall have no time at all to attend to anything but my work for months, unless something happens which would be of sufficient importance to cause me to make time to do anything you might want; by which, I mean, to suspend the doings in the Land Court. The weather has broken, and it is pouring rain here, and I suppose everywhere else; so cold water will be thrown on all warlike doings for some months; and that will give me a chance to do a good deal of Land Court work. I leave home, for the Bay, in about four days from this time, rain or no rain; and I shall be at the Bay for a month or six weeks, according to circumstances; where, if you should choose to write, I shall receive your letters. I shall, of course, see the whole Ngapuhi tribe, and shall take notice of everything, and do and say just what I think good to keep them in a right mind. I don't ever say much. A few slight hints is enough; and "talk" makes talk. After the Bay Court, I shall hold a Court in the country of Te Rarawa, and will keep you informed of anything worth knowing.

The natives here, are still at work on the roads; and the time being approaching when they will be obliged to go to cultivating their lands, I shall not be able to get the road you were so good as to grant the £70 for, done. I have, however, made the most part of it possible by European labour, at my own expense (not much); and so we can adjourn proceedings sine die, as there is no time to do more. There now! I beg your pardon, but you would have it. Excuse haste, and ommissions, and all sorts of blunders, for I am in a desperate hurry and above all don't fear such another epistle from me for a long long time.

ever yours sincerely, (Signed)
F.E. Maning.

Part of:
Inward letters - F E Maning, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0445 (56 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)

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