Object #1004943 from MS-Papers-0032-0007
From: Native Land Purchase Commissioner - Papers, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0007 (63 digitised items). No Item Description
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REMINISCENCES OF THE WAIROA.
Nov. 24th. 1864.
Left Napier for the Mahia, for the purpose of concluding the purchases made by Mr. McLean, at the Mahia, Nuhaka, Wairoa, and Waihua; also to purchase fresh country, as opportunity offered. For particulars of Mr. McLean's trip, see Mr. Grindell's Journal. Those purchases, as will be shown in the sequel, tendered much towards the safety of this Province; through giving the Government a hold on that end of the district; by which means we were enabled to occupy the country for defensive and other purposes, without reference to the native population.
On my arrival at the Mahia, I completed the purchase of that Block, although opposed by Turanga natives and others.
The Nuhaka Block Mr. McLean entered into arrangement for. It was
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offered to him, after arrangements were left for me to settle.
At the Wairoa, Mr. McLean had a most difficult and delicate task; but through his thorough knowledge of the subject in hand, and the entire confidence placed in him by the natives, he overcame every obstacle. He also entered into some preliminary arrangements for the Waihua Block; which were afterwards concluded by me.
On my arrival at the Mahia, I soon discovered that I had a very difficult and uphill part to play; being opposed by the Turanga natives, and also by a strong body of the inhabitants of the Mahia Peninsular. But all obstacles were, after much exertion, overcome.
After concluding the Mahia Purchase, I proceeded with the Waihua Block; which I concluded, to the satisfaction of the Government.
I then concluded the Nuhaka purchase.
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After the conclusion of the above, I proceeded to the Wairoa.
Now comes the most difficult part, the finalle of what I had been working at, namely, the organisation of all the natives of that end of the Province, into a strong, loyal party, making the Wairoa the centre. By which means the Government trusted to save the settled portions of the district from becoming another Taranaki.
About the 23rd. of March, I commenced operations at the Wairoa; when arms were first given out to some of the loyal natives.
In the first week of April, I proceeded to Napier to see the Government, and to fetch the stockade, which was lying at the Spit; and some Volunteers; also more arms.
On the 11th. of April, I returned to the Wairoa, with 25 Volunteers, the stockade, etc. Major Lambert also went with me to fix the site for the stockade. (See "Hawke's Bay Herald".)
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During this time the Hau Hau were at Turanga. (See "Hawke's Bay Herald")
Volkner's murder took place in March or about the 8th. of April. They, the Hau Haus, arrived at the Mahia; where they received a coldish reception; but their main object was the Wairoa. From the Mahia, they proceeded to Nuhaka; then to Wakaki. (See letters in "Hawke's Bay Herald") On the 17th. of April they arrived at the Wairoa. (For particulars, see letters "Hawke's Bay Herald")
On the 18th. was the final Meeting, when the Province was saved from destruction; and perhaps, the greater part of the East Coast. At all events, the Hau Haus there received the first effectual
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snubbing; besides giving time to prepare the Government for the arrival of the Hau Haus in the neighbourhood. The Loyal natives had been armed by the Government; the stockade partly erected, etc. etc.
On the 17th. the Hau Haus arrived at the Uhi Pa; where I met them with about one hundred and twenty loyal natives; but nothing occurred of much importance this day. That night native guards were placed on both sides of the river; and no communication was allowed to take place between the loyal natives and the Hau Haus. Here was seen the effects of all the previous arrangements; showing that the Government of Hawke's Bay saw the danger, and prepared for it at the proper time., when both parties intermingled. (See Hawke's Bay Herald,- Williams' report.) For if matters had not been so well arrange, and there had been any mess about the putting up of the stockade at that particular time. etc., so as to take effect at the movement, etc. Or if there had been any misunderstanding amongst the loyal natives; so that we could not trust to their co-operation and support,- this district would now be in a state of war. etc.
On the morning of the 18th. the loyal natives again collected. (See Hawke's Bay Herald, my report.)
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Now comes the tug of war, namely,- were between one and two hundred natives to drive out of the district, three or four hundred fanatics, mad with excitement, and under the belief that they had supernatural powers? Or were they to be destroyed, and the whole district made one scene of death and destruction?
I forgot to mention that all the Europeans had been previously armed; but there had been no time to organise them; and no Officer had been appointed to command. But it signified but little; for all parties saw the danger; and not
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one shirked his duty.
On the eventful morning of the 18th., I met the loyal natives at an early hour, at the Waikirere,- Paora Apatu's pa; where speeches were made, and plans laid for the day; and I cannot refrain here from mentioning Kopu, whose staunch loyalty, bravery, and thorough knowledge of Maori tactics in war or peace, contributed in a great measure to the success of the day.
After having laid all our plans, Kopu and myself recrossed the river to the Government side, leaving the loyal natives to march, on the left bank, while I went to the stockade to make
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arrangements as to the proceedings of the Volunteers and the Europeans; which arrangements were, that no European should cross the river; but that they
should remain near the stockade, etc.
I then crossed over to the other side of the river with Kopu, and joined the loyal natives, amounting to about one hundred and thirty men. Little did Kopu and myself expect then that we should ever return.
The events of this day took place near the Maori Church, a wooden structure, built in the old Missionary days, when the Missionary reigned supreme. It was within a short distance of this Church that we assembled our small band, in a small enclosure, within about five hundred yards of the Hau Haus, and their pole; which they raised that morning, and round which they were performing their services. This was the trying moment. Here were we, a small band with but few exceptions, untried men, supporting the unpopular side; opposed to a large body of fanatics elated with success, believed to be endowed with supernatural powers, and carrying the sympathy of the majority of the natives with them. Our men were formed into ranks three deep, with the youngest men in front; and were then addressed by the leading Chiefs.
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During this critical time, every now and then, a dubious native would be seen to slink off, and either go over to the enemy, or get quietly on one side, and there look on and watch how events turned out.
We also received letters from our friends who had deserted, calling on the remainder to do the same, as the only means of safety; and Kopu received notice that he must fall that day. It was then I sent over word to collect all the Europeans, females, etc., as quietly as possible to the stockade; for I looked upon fighting as certain. My principal fear was that the loyal natives should give way, namely that too many should desert us. Of Kopu, there was no fear. On receiving the notice, he retired for a few minutes,- like a hero of old, to commune with himself for a short time, before certain death.
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I then went and spoke a few words with him; and after some little talk, I said,- "Come on; a man can die but once; let's die together!" He then addressed a few more commands to the men; and then up we marched, muskets loaded, and bayonets fixed, to within about eighty yards of the enemy; who were drawn up in a triangular form, with the base next us. As soon as we arrived at our position, orders were given to knee1, when the speeches commenced. (See Hawke's Bay Herald.)
For about two hours we knew not the moment that might be our last. But all that time, the Hau Haus, seeing the determined manner displayed by our party, commenced to cow under; also the superior eloquence
Native Land Purchase Commissioner - Papers, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0007 (63 digitised items)
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