Letter from Richard Taylor,
to Donald McLean Esq.
dated 14th. October 1858,
14th. October 1858
My dear Mr. Maclean,
A case has occurred at Rangitikei to justify my writing to you about it.
Mohi, who is decidedly now the most influential man amongst the Ngatiapa, has been brought up before Major Durie, on a charge of horse-stealing. The case was decided against him at Rangitikei, but Mohi declared the horse is his, and he would not give it up. Afterwards the natives discovered on Macdonald's run, the horse which they declare is his, and Mohi brought it himself to Wanganui. The case was again tried here, and given against Mohi, who was seized, and thrown into prison to await his trial at Wellington, next December! Bail was refused. The case caused great excitement, and I have no doubt would have led to serious results. I therefore strongly advised the Major to take Bail and let Mohi out. He did so, after having been incarcerated one day. Now it appears to me that the whole affair has been conducted, to say
the least of it, in a very harsh and unbecoming way. The horse in dispute is a young filly about 18 months old. The natives all declare it was theirs, and was running with theirs, a month or so previously. They then missed it until it was seen in a settler's paddock, fresh-branded. Mohi was told of it; he sent and took it; and the chief fault he committed, and one which looked very bad, it must be acknowledged, was his allowing some of his young men to re-brand it, and mark its ear. But as this is quite a native way of asserting proprietorship, allowance must be made on that account. Further, - Mohi has always been an upright straightforward Chief. Macdonell, who sold the animal to another, and who states it was his, has been mistaken before; and both witnesses, and one of the Magistrates, who co-habit with native females, strange to say, are the most prejudiced in every case of this kind. This is greatly to be deplored, as it is engendering a very bad feeling, when hitherto there has been a very good one displayed by the natives; and this very Chief is the one who has been using every effort to sell the other bank of the Rangitikei to Government; and, in fact, the only one who can do it; and should this case be given against him, it would endanger the prospect of further land purchases in that
quarter, and gives Taratoa and the Ngatiraukawa sufficient influence to induce him to join the league to Pupuru whenua.
Mohi and all the natives declare the horse is theirs, although the one they have found is a far superior animal. I do not know who may try the case at Wellington, but who ever may be the Judge, I trust he will, even if he gives the case against Mohi, deal with him as a native un-acquainted with our laws and customs; and on that account make more allowance; for at the worst idea of the case, it cannot be regarded as a case of theft, but of mistake. Respecting the native reserve, Capt. Campbell and the rest of the Commissioners object to sit with Mr. Nixon, whose wife has been openly living in adultery in his own house; and he, too, with a native woman.
yours very truly,
To:- Donald McLean Esq.