Object #1005971 from MS-Papers-0032-0221

24 pages written 18 Jan 1853 by William Colenso in Waitangi (Hawke's Bay) to Sir Donald McLean in Ahuriri

From: Inward letters - William Colenso, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0221 (43 digitised items). 45 letters written from Church Mission Station, Waitangi (Hawke's Bay), Waipukurau & Napier, 1850-1865. Includes letters in Maori, and letters from McLean to Colenso. Also memoranda of a conversation which took place between Rev H Williams and Colenso on 10 Aug 1839. Maori correspondents include Wiremu Tipuna; Hori Niania; Te Hapuku, Hinepaketia, Ani Te Patukaikino, Hoani & Hori.

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

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English (ATL)

The following is a copy of Rev. W. Colenso's Appeal against fine for Assault. COPY. Church Mission Station
Hawke's Bay
January 18th. 1853.


The very extraordinary and hitherto (I believe) unprecedented proceedings of last week, in which a Missionary to the Heathen, of nearly 20 years' standing, had to appear before a Magistrate of thie Pro-vince, in open Court, to defend himself against a charge of Assault, preferred against him, and sworn to by one of his own "children" (converts)! - the unfortunate conclusion of that matter - and the consequences which will assuredly follow from that unfortunate conclusion - are matters of such great importance, that neither apology or preface on my part, will be necessary in my writing you concerning the same

And this I should have done immediately on my return from Court, (being legally inclined thereto -if I may so speak - from referring to the "Fines for Assaults Ordinance A. 11", which I had not till my return, seen), had not my disorder (Influenza), which I was suffering from when there. increased so rapid-ly, as utterly to preclude me from doing anything till now; and even now I feel that I am not well enough to be able to the task.

Still, believing as I do, that it is now an imperative matter of duty upon me to write you upon this unpleasant subject - a duty which I owe (not to mention myself) to all Missionaries and Missionary Societies - to the New Zealand settlers - and to the high cause of Order, Justice, and Truth - and that I should also do so before you leave these parts, that you may have it in your power to test the truth of my statements - I, believing that God will be my helper, will at once essay to do it.

The remarks, Sir, which I intend to make, I shall for brevity's sake, class under tow general heads:-

1st. The Impropriety of such proceedings.

2nd. The illegality of them -

I shall, also, throughout, write, as if the whole of the charge made, and the evidence offered before you, was quite and wholly true.

And here I should state, that I had intended to confine myself only to the making known the former, being quite sufficient for my purpose; but since I believe that I have it in my power also to shew the latter, it is, consequently, my duty to do so.

Firstly, then, the impropriety of such proceedings:-i.e. of a "child" (or convert from the heathen) being allowed to prefer and swear to trifling charges of assault against his own Missionary Pastor - I shew, first, from the universal office of a Missionary; and second, from my own peculiar situation here among this people and tribe.

The general Office of a located Missionary, (as you well know, and as all the natives allow) in-cludes that of Schoolmaster, Guardian and Parent; now to each of these persons is allowed (even in our own highly civilized country) a certain latitude over their pupils, wards and children; which is not, and can not be conceded to any other. And although some Schoolmasters, Guardians and Parents are much more severe than others, the Law never interferes, except in cases of great excess of punishment. Were any irrespectful, malicious, and vindicative case to be there brought by a pupil, ward, or child, (as the case might be) the refractioriness of the individual being shewn, the Magistrate would immediately side with the said Master, Guardian or Parent; and not only justify his acting, but severely blame the promoter or principal actor in the case; which, indeed, from the very principles of his Office, he could not refrain from doing. Now such being undoubtedly the case at home, at the very abode of Order, how much more then is it needful that here in the Colonies - in these Colonies - the authority of the Schoolmaster, Guardian and Parent, should be by the Magistrate rigidly upheld and respected? And if it be the more needful here in the Colonies to uphold such authority among the offspring and descendants of Europeans, how much more needful is it to do so among the but recently converted, and half-civilized savage aboriginies of these Islands! - -And here, in order that no link may be wanting in the chain, I will now shew, the general and well-known refractoriness of the "child" who preferred the charge against me; - leaving the particular and special instance which brought on the assault complained of, till I come to the second part of my letter - 1st. (and since his Baptism) that, when he lived at Table Cape, he was engaged in the shameful plunder of the U.S. brig "Falco", on board of which vessel was a quantity of his own Pastor's property (Arch. W. Williams) which was also plundered by that party; but finding that I would not receive him here into the Communion of the Church, until he had restored the same, he subsequently gave up what he had remaining, to the Agent who had been appointed by the U.S. Consul there.

2nd. That, last year he gave up attending Divine Service and Schools, and wholly separated himself from his brother Micah, the Native Teacher of his village, and a good and useful man, (as you yourself know).

3rd. that he had taken a near female relation (a widow and the mother of 4 small children), and against the expressed wishes of all his Christian relations, sanctioned her cohabiting with a miserable white man, valled "Taare hauaitu", (i.e. meagre Charley), whom you know to be a thief and a bad man, and in order that they may not be disturbed through the indignant feelings of the Native Teacher and the Christian inhabitants of his village, he has taken them both into his own hut! 4th. that on his bringing the young woman Arabella Te Ngira, whom he himself had brought up, to Pakowhai, there to be married by the Popish Priest, to the son of Puhara, to whom she had been betrothed from her infancy, he joined the Priest and the Heathen Chief, Te Hapuku, in councelling her to forsake the Christian religion, and profess the Papist! 5th. that he told the Heathen Chief, Te Hapuku, (who is exceedingly superstitious) that I had said - that I had =caused the death of the Chief Tiakitai through the potency of my prayers, and that I was now praying to Te Atua that he, Te Hapuku, also might be speedily cut off!!" which (as Te Hapuku allowed before you and others in open court) was the main reason of his being so greatly determined against me.

6th. that on the close approach of the day in which (according to appointment), I was to visit his village, Patangata, he told his people, (on the Sunday evening after they had returned from Divine Service) that he had made up his mind how to act; and they must not think of moving him from his purpose; that, inasmuch as no one had heard of the name of Maketu until he had laid hands upon the white man, neither had anyone heard of the fame of Maroro until he had done the same;but that now their fame was great, and their names would live. Even so, he had determined it should be with him, etc, etc. Maketu, you will recollect, most cruelly murdered poor Mrs. Robertson, her servant, and 3 infant children, in the Bay of Islands, in the year 1841. for whic he was executed at Auckland; and Maroro comitted a similar foul deed, in the unprovoked murder of poor Branks and his infant family near Wellington, for which he was also executed. Now, from these few facts I leave you, Sir, to draw your own conclusion as to the mind or moral character of this "child" of mine.

Further, if it be so, (as I have shewn) that the Magistrate's duty is both concurrent with, and coadjutant to that of the Master Guardian or Parent (as the case may be), all of whom are supposed to reap some advantage from their respective situations; how very much more then is such assuredly the case, when all those important duties are merged in one solitary and unaided individual, who not only reaps no advantage whatever from his situation, (which not one in 10,000 ever wishes to fill), but actually casts away those advantages which he, in common with his fellow-countrymen, might have enjoyed - forsakes his homw, his country, and his friendss embraces poverty and hardship, endures contumely, and is often, alas', ill-used by some of his own "children"! Should not the Magistrate more particularly side with such a man as this? And lest you, Sir, might be induced to think that I am over-colouring my picture, I may tell you that my Salary, throughout several years of heavy service, was only £30. and that I have often been beaten and ill-treated, and my blood shed by a portion of my large family of unnatural "children". My work, for them, I leave for others to shew.

I purposely set aside viewing the case in another strong light, that, of its being made, (in addition to the foregoing), against his Minister; against the person appointed to watch over his soul as well as his body - lest I should (by some) be accused of unduly magnifying the Office of the Ministry.

Again:- In reference to my own peculiar situation here among this people and tribe. And here, I think, I have only to remind you, Sir, of a few well-known truths; for, fortunately for this part of my letter, you have been long enough in this country, and in these Southern parts, to bear me out in much of what I shall here say - namely, that this tribe (the Ngatikahumumu), was, till very lately, considered the most ferocious and untractable of all the New Zealand tribes; which their intercourse with whaling ships and with the few unfortunate strangers who had hitherto ventured to exist among them, had rather increased than diminished; and, that their Chiefs were hated by all white men. In fact, I Know of but one Chief of importance throughout New Zealand whose name was, perhaps, equally with those of the Chiefs of this large tribe, an object of abhorrance to the generality of whites - namely, that of Te Rauparaha. At that time it was also believed that the Missionary, whoever he might be, who should be sent here to look after this tribe, would necessarily have a deal of trouble to endure; trouble, not only as far as concerned himself and family, but also, almost necessarily arising through the resorting hither of Europeans for the purposes of trade and commerce, who would soon follow his steps - And such, as is well known, has been the case. And how was it met? Why by the present vilified individual throwing himself into the gap, and (often at the risk of his own life) standing up for Order and Justice, (whether between Native and Native, or white man and white man) - sometimes, as a Master Guardian and Father, and sometimes (from the sheer necessity of the case) as a Native Chief, or even as a Magistrate, though without legal authority, yet, with the sanction and approval of all authorities. Hence it is that there has been as little crime here in these parts, and as good order as in more highly civilized and highly-privileged communities. Time would fail me, were I to attempt to notify particularly to you, all those many and striking cases in which, during a close residence of upwards of wight years, I have been successfully concerned; and for some of which I have had the repeated thanks of the local Government, and of not a few of the settlers.

Hence you will, Sir, perceive, that I have been called into no small nor easy Office, as Conservator of the Peace among this people, and among many others equally lawless residents. Nor is what I have been able to accomplish a small matter; nor could I have accomplished such merely by fair words, or by the authority only (however proper) of British Law alone. You may try it now, the ground has been prepared for you; but in those days to which I have alluded, such would have been (as I once told a whaler), equally as vain an attempt as to lance a whale with a pen-knife; or to bind Samson with green withs. You have, I believe, Sir, already more than once, spoken approvingly of the order which you found in this large District. This, I believe, you will still readily allow. If, then, this once ferocious and untractable tribe, and their lawless visitors and residents, have been brought into anything like Order, through the exertion of one poor unassisted individual - allow, that the manner through which such order has been attained (through now, perhaps, both severe and unadvisable), to have been just that which was suitable and needful for those times, and commensurate to the end. If you allow this, (and I cannot myself see how you can reasonably refuse to do so), the necessary inference therefrom is, that it was highly improper for one of my "children" to prefer a charge against me for endeavouring to preserve that Order after the manner I had always hitherto followed, and which had ever proved eminently successful; seeing, too, that no other way or manner of maintaining Order was then at hand. This, I further think, will yet be made more plain, when you shall have read what follows:-

I come now, Sir, to the second part of my letter, in which I proposed to consider what I have termed "the illegality of such proceedings", or in other words, their not being in strict conformity with the letter of the Colonial Ordinance.

In the "Fines for Assaults Ordinance", it is enacted:- When any person shall be convicted before any police Magistrate, or any two Justices of the Peace, of an assault, and it shall appear, upon the evidence of a credible witness (other than the party assaulted), that such assault was wanton and unprovoked, and attended with bodily injury to the person assaulted, and where in any such case a fine shall have been imposed upon the offender, it shall be lawful for such Police Magistrate or Justices as aforesaid, when it shall appear to him or them proper that compensation be made for the injury inflicted, to award to the party injured, such portion of the fine so levied, as to them shall seem meet. Provided always that the sum so to be awarded shall not in any case exceed one half of the fine levied."

That you, Sir, acted upon this Ordinance there can be no doubt, because you stated that "half of the fine" (the very maximum) would be paid to the plaintiff."

Now it appears to me, that there are, at least, three things to be found, before that any decision can be legally made:-

1st. The assault must be proved to have been =wanton and unprovoked."

2nd. "And attended with bodily injury."

3rd. And proved "upon the evidence of a credible witness (other than the party assaulted."

I will now proceed to show that none of these three absolutely necessary things were found on the day of hearing:- and this I purpose doing (as before) as if the whole charge of assault were true.

1. The assault, the complainant stated, took place about the last day of August, (or 1st. of September) last. The cause, the gross provocation which led to the assault, I stated plainly to the Court, and I am not aware that the complainant attempted to contradict a single particular thereof. I stated that, in November 1851, the complainant pur- chased some cattle; and, not knowing how to manage them, had enticed my two household natives, who well knew how to do so, to leave me, and to live with him. That those two natives I had brought with me from the Bay of Islands in the year 1844, and that one of them had been living with me from the year 1835, I hawing, in fact, brought him up from his childhood. That this native had often promised never to leave me. (he being also a slave redeemed from death by the Mission), and that I had consequently taught him, and got him taught, many useful arts - such as Printing, Bookbinding, carpentry, glazing, painting, tent-making, cooking, etc., which made him of very great use to me, both at home and when travelling; and through which, and his own letters to my parents and family, they had, for several years, shewn him great kindness. That in consequence of their abrubtly leaving me and my family, we were often badly off for domestic help. That, on my arrival at Te Aute, in February, 1852 (on my return from visiting Patea(, I found a note from Mrs. Colenso (with whom I had left instructions to forward some food to meet me there, as I Knew I should be in want after my long mountain journey), in which she informed me of her having done so, but only at a very great exertion and inconvenience, from her having no domestic help, which she had felt the more from both herself and the children having been seriously unwell. That, I then informed the complainant's three brothers (with other of his relations) of this; and that they then expressed their sorrow at their eldest brother's conduct, and promised to remonstrate with him upon his keeping my two servants, (which, as you well know. is, in the native estimation, a much more serious offence than it is with us, one that has often led to war and loss of human life here in these parts.) That, they did so almost directly, but that he refused to listen to them. That, in the month of March, I, being at Te Waipukurau, (and about departing upon my usual long Autumnal journey of 9---12 weeks throughout the district), wrote a note to the complainant, desiring him not to continue to hold my domestice. That, he also took no notice of this note. That, I subsequently wrote him a long, and, as I believe, a proper Christian letter, from Manawatu, upon the impropriety of his conduct, again desiring him to return my domestics. That, to this letter, also, he paid no attention. That, in his thus treating me, he had caused a large majority of the Christian natives to be greatly grieved at his conduct. That, several of them had, from time to time, remonstrated with him thereupon; and that he, consequently, had left their company, and endeavoured to form a schism among them. That, I had never been so treated by a native before. That, in June last, shortly after my return from my long journey, (at which time my two domestics returned, but not at, or through the request or wish of the complainant - far from it) I had heard from several Christian natives, upon whose word I could rely, that the complainant was in the habit of going from place to place, saying, in public. (both to white men and natives) many things against me, for which he had often been reproved by some of the native Teachers and others, but to no purpose. That, I found he was in the habit of continually writing to my own two returned domestics, not to heed me, but to look to him, with many other such words. That, in July he called at my place during my absence, and spent a Sunday there; and that, on my return, I found my two domestics considerably changed for the worse. That, I knew of his having enticed them again to leave me, and of their having partly promised to do so. That, I consequently, sent him and his little party word, through his own brother, the native teacher of this village, not to come on my premises again, without my permission. That, in July, when at the Te Tamumi village, I was informed by several native Teachers, that the Complainant had stated that I was afraid to meet him; that he, the complainant, had often gone to the different villages where I was, but that I was afraid to see him. That, this false statement irritated me, especially as I saw some of the Christian natives ready to believe it, which they were in a measure led to do, through my patient forbearance towards him. That, I found, that he, the Complainant, had engaged the Heathen Chief, Te Hapuku (a near relation) to espouse his cause, and to aid him in again getting away my two domestics. That, on or about the first day of September, I being just going to finish pruning the trees in my garden, in which I was assisted by one of those two domestics, and having taken my pruning-knife in hand, went to the front garden gate to call him. That, there I met Ahipene Tururu, (whom I had not before that day seen), who informed me that the person whom I had been calling from the gate, was, with his companion, down at the side of the river engaged with the complainant, who, with his party, had recently landed thither. That, on hearing this, I went there. That, I accosted them, the strangers, 5 or 6 in number, with "Whence are you?" That, they turned their backs towards me, and returned no answer. That, I asked again, "Are you from Patangata?" That, they did not speak. That, I again enquired - "Did not Micah, your teacher, tell you that I had prohibited your coming hither?" That, they answered not. That, I then accosted the complainant, (who was sitting on the ground behind a thick bush of rushes, with his head between his knees, and his large blue flushing jacket over his ears) saying - "Art thou Wi Tipuna?" That, he returned no answer. That, I again put the same question, and that he still remained silent. That, I then upraided him with his ungrateful conduct (for both myself and Mrs. Colenso had done much for him in medicine and diet, and actual attendance), reminding him particularly with his oft repeated statements of my being afraid to see him, and of my having sent him word not to come upon my premises, and that in his now coming in this open way, it was, in their (the Native) estimation, identically the same as a challenge to a fight. That, I did not wish to fight with him; and that therefore, I sent him away, ordering him, at the same time, to go. That, this order to go, I repeated six several times. At the conclusion of which, the assault (the one kick= sworn to by him, was said to have been committed.

Now, Sir, I ask, in the name of common sense, whether such an assault committed under such circumstances can be by anyone construed to have been both "wanton and unprovoked."?

2. The Ordinance further enacts that such assault must not only be both wanton and unprovoked, but "attended with bodily injury to the person assault-ed."

And here, under this head, a very few words will, I think, suffice to shew, that no bodily injury whatever was inflicted, or could have been caused by such an assault. For, from the complainant's own statement, the whole assault amounted to one kick

Now the probable maximum of "bodily injury" one kick, given by myself (a man of very inferior physical power, with my foot clothed with such soft shoes as I am well-known always to wear at home.) could inflict upon the person of a hardly tattooed New Zealander, clothed in a heavy blue flushing jacket, and other under garments, I confess I am not skilled enough in dynamics to determine, I willingly leave it for those who are.

But he, the Complainant, also swore that the one kick was given him "on his head"!! and that, too, in a base, cowardly way, namely "on the hinder part" of the same. My reply to this, I will defer to the conclusion of my letter, and will only here ask, whether you, Sir, really believed that portion of his statement although made upon oath?

3. The Ordinance further requires that all such assault - "wanton and unprovoked" and causing =bodily harm" - must go "appear upon the evidence of a credible witness other than the party assaulted."

And here I shall unavoidably have to trespass a little longer upon your time and attention. And first, with reference to the words of the Ordinance - "credible witness"; this can only refer to either the probability of the evidence given, or to the characted of the witness himself:- it being an ancient axiom that "things are made credible either by the known condition and cuality of the utterer, or by the manifest likelihood of truth in themselves." Now, the "manifest likelihood" of any unassisted sane and sober white man, living solitarily and far away from help and friends, first arousing all the evil passions of a fierce New Zealand Chief, and that, too, before several of his own people, and them kicking him on the head, appears so very improbable that we cannot willingly yield assent thereto. How very much more averse, then, must our minds be from assenting to "the manifest likelihood" of such a thing being done by a Missionary to the heathen, of nearly 20 years standing!! So that the credibility sought for must be found in the character, or "known condition and quality of the utterer" which is, I apprehend, what the Ordinance means in these words -"credible witness."

Now the one witness who (as it appeared to me) rather unwillingly came forwards, upon his being repeatedly called, (although present, and standing next to the complainant from the opening of the Court,) was Ahipene Tururu, concerning whom I have something, Sir, to state, whicj, if I am not mistaken, is not altogether unknown to you. And the few facts which I have to record concerning him, I will make, as before in reference to the complainant:- 1st. as to his general character fitness for a witness against his Missionary; and 2nd. as to his statements in Court before you. A few years ago this young man, with his mothers and sisters, became candidates for Baptism, after some considerable time spent in preparatory instruction, the day fixed for their Baptism was Sunday, February 9th, 1851. Great part of the preceding week was occupied in instructing them, during which period, the son, Tururu, went with some others to Ahuriri, to sell some flax, which they had prepared, wherewith to purchase English articles of dress to waar on the approaching occasion. When near to Ahuriri, he, Tururu, stopped the canoe, and deliberately poured salt water through the middle of every bundle of his flax, in order to increase its weight, against the remonstrance of some who were with him. He sold the wetted flax to Mr. Villiers, who paid him for it, not detecting the imposition. On their return to Te Awa-puni, his companions, struck with his conduct at such a solemn time, informed me of it; and I, when I found it to be true, immediately sent him word that I should not baptise him. He returned such an answer as I had (in part) expected - that, "if he fell, all should fall with him"! which evil plan, however, he failed in effecting. For some time after I would not see him; at last I consented again to receive him as a Candidate, provided he would take a letter to Mr. Villiers from me, acknowledging his fraud, paying him (Mr. Villiers) whatever compensation he might require, and bringing back a certificate from him to me, to assure me of his having done so. To these conditions, Tururu, seeing there was no alternative, consented. I have now Mr. Villiers' note, thanking me, and informing me of his having been satisfied. Tururu was again admitted a candidate, and subsequently baptised. About this time, his wife, who had lived a most miserable life with him, died; and soon after he wished me to marry him to a young woman of Petani. For a long time I refused, knowing how he had ill-treated his late wife, and in so doing got into no little difficulty. At length I gave way, and about a year ago I married him to his present wife. About 6 weeks back he committed adultery and incest with a child named Ramari, a sister of his former wife, for which he has justly been put down by the Native Teachers. He is (I believe) the only male baptised native of our Church dwelling at Pakowhai - the village where his heathen relations and the French Popish Priest reside; and during the last 8---9 months I have rarely ever seen him at Church or School, As a universal liar, I regret to say, he is well-known among the natives generally.

In his deposition and manner in Court, I noticed several things, some of which would not have failed to attract your attention. On your administering the Oath, (and observing, that he was the same person to whom you had both administered and explained the solemn nature of an oath at your Court held at Te Waipukurau a week before, where, too he was an evidence against some European) you desired him to commence and proceed; - this, I think, you repeated 3 or 4 times. At last he said - "It is even as the complainant has stated." You again desired him to relate the assault with its circumstances. He did so, much as the complainant had done, (whom he had heard) but with this material difference - that I had kicked him on the right cheek, pointing with his hand to the spot between his eye and his ear! Puhara, the heathen Chief, who also dwells at Pakowhai, who was present, immediately exclaimed, (in order to correct him, his near relation) "No, no; it was on the back of the head." If I recollect aright, I asked him two or three questions:-Whether there was not a bush of rushes between me and the complainant? Whether (in his opinion) the complainant could see me kick him? And, whether he, the witness, had seen me do so? To all of which he answered affirmatively. (I should have asked him a great many questions, as I had previously stated my intention of doing), through which I felt persuaded that I should either elicit the truth, or completely shake the value of his testimony as a witness; but when I found that I could only do so in an indirect way, through yourself, I declined to ask any more.) About this time, another native, named Pahoro, (a heathen) and one of that same party who was with the complainant on the day in question), said, out loudly, that he, the witness - "Ahipene could not see from where he was the kick I gave to the complainant." This blunt exclamation (made, I have no doubt, in anger, at the witness' saying that I had "kicked the complain -ant on the right cheek" and so departing from their deeply devised and well concocted story), is not far from the truth. For both Ahipene and Cranmer, not being of the party, were a good distance to the left of the complainant and his party; and that they should have been then separate, is, as you must know, quite in accordance with New Zealand etiquette, Ahipene also stated, on oath, (following the complainant), that I had lifted my foot and leg very high from the ground in kicking him. Now Cranmer, the eldest son of Te Hapuku, (who had often been called upon to come forward and give his testimony, but was not a very long while forthcoming) stated, before you, (though not on oath) that the complainant could not see me kick him; and that I did not lift my foot high from the ground, describing, at the same time, how I had moved it, so as to scarcely allow the toe of the shoe to be seen by a sitter; (and yet between the complainant and myself was a thick bush of rushes!!) and that, when he and Ahipene heard me (subsequently) and during our altercation, mention their names as my witnesses - (i.e. to tell the Christian natives the truth of the affair) they immediately walked away.

In my early days I often attended Courts of Justice; I have seen credible and ignorant. extenuating and prevaricating witnesses, and I know how much have been (and are, at home) dealt with. If this "one sworn witness", Ahipene Tururu, is entitled to the name of a credible witness, in such a case, too, then I have yet to learn what a credible witness is. I trust, however, that I have stated sufficient to shew, to any impartial person, that "the known condition and quality of the utterer both before and at the time of hearing, proves, that he, Ahipene Tururu, was not a "credible witness" in this case; which was what I took upon myself to do.

I have still a circumstance or two to notice connected with the foregoing:- when the Complainant, after our altercation, went on to Ahuriri, he told several persons there both whites and natives, a very different story from what he declared before you upon oath; then he made many great additions, which almost went to shew, that he had been maliciously waylaid by me, and set upon with intent to murder, etc! This he also related on his return inland; and much of this was indignantly contradicted by some of those very persons who were present. Again, on his return from Ahuriri, he went to Te Hapuku's house to see him, and told him his version of the affair; Cranmer (no friend of mine) was present, and denied the truth of the worst of the Complainant's statements to his face! Now, Cranmer himself told me that only a few days afterwards. Again, he, the Complainant, publicly told me (when at his Village a few weeks afterwards) what he had previously and constantly told to all present -that it was only through the medicines outwardly applied and inwardly taken, which the whites at Ahuriri had promptly and kindly supplied and applied, that he had recovered from the horrible ill-usage which I had given him! Not a word, however, of this kind appeared in his deposition before you. Again, when I had more than once in open Court, requested, that my two runaway domestics (who had gone to Ahuriri with the Complainant and his party), should come forward as witnesses, the Complainant arose from his seat, and very significantly said - "Kua korero maua ko Hamuera, a, e mea ana tera, ka ware ia ki taua korero." (In English - Myself and Samuel have conversed together, and he says that he has forgotten all about the matter.) I understood this well, Samuel, the native whom I had brought up from childhood, who had lived with me nearly 18 years, and who knew well the nature of an oath - Samuel, who lives with the Complainant, and on whom the Complainant had principally relied - now, that the hour of hearing was come, shrank from taking a false oath before my face; and, unwilling to injure his new and quondam friend, by telling the truth, had managed to forget all about it!! So, also, when (after Cranmer's name had been repeatedly called upon as a witness, and before that Ahipene had been sworn) I said, that there were several others who were also present; and someone remarked that Ahipene (who had all along been standing in Court by the Complainant's side, waiting, no doubt) was one of them. The Complainant again significantly remarked, "Ae, kua Korero maua ko Ahipene." Literally, in English - "Yes, we have conversed together) I knew very well what was contained in this (to you) simple and straight-forward sentence.

It is a well-known fact, that the Complainant and the whole party who were present on the day of our altercation have for some time past dwelt together, and their constant talk has been, their going before you on your arrival, what they would say, and what they hoped to get; while I, on the contrary, have never once conversed with anyone of all who were present, concerning the matter of that day. I assure you, Sir, that I look upon the confusedness of the witness, and the striking variation of his statement as to "the kick", and the inability of the others to come forward, as a remarkable manifestation of the Providence of God in my behalf.

Now, Sir, if such be the merits of the case, if all that I have written herein is wholly true, without any over-colouring or extenuation, and you have it in your power to make all enquiry into those portions which may be new to you, is it any wonder that I should refuse to pay the fine of Three Pounds, which you were pleased to inflict; But, when I again state, in addition to the foregoing, (what I stated before you at Ahuriri) that the Complainant and his witness have both wilfully and maliciously perjured themselves, in swearing that I kicked him upon the head, I feel assured, that every Englishman believing my word, how much soever he may be disposed to honour and obey Law of his Country, will feel with me that I acted rightly in refusing to pay the fine.

You will, however, Sir, bear in mind, that I told you, that while I conscientiously refused to pay the fine, (the more so, seeing that he, the Complainant, was to have half of it) I would not in any way obstruct the Law - the alternative, whatever it might be - being put in force. If to apprehend me, and th send me to prison to Wellington, I would submit, and call upon my native friends to remain quiet, (for otherwise, you had not the power to do it.) or, if to distrain the few things left from the late calamitous fire, (which destroyed our dwelling-house and out-houses and nearly all their contents only three days before) no one should hinder their being taken.

I believe, and there are others who believe with me, that had this complaint been made at an earlier period, or had not certain humiliating and recent events concerning myself, taken place (including the fire), the statements of both the Complainant and his witness would not have been made in the words and manners in which they were - if made at all. In fact, I am assured by several Christian natives, (whom I know that you respect and would believe.) that the Complainant would not have appeared before you, had it not been for the constant urging of Te Hapuku, and one or two Europeans.

No misfortune, however, which has yet befallen me, has moved me so much as this - the false and malicious swearing of these two persons; and (above all your receiving their testimony before my own. Perhaps, as a Magistrate, you may consider, that you could not help doing so, seeing theirs was sworn. Be it so; Still, Sir, I feel, I keenly feel, that I - who have been for so many years in the very van of the battle, fighting for the cause of Order - am now trampled down and degraded through that very Order which I have long striven to uphold. I believe, (and I feel thankful in such a belief) that there is not a Pakeha dwelling in the whole of this large district (although perhaps, more of them may be ranked as enemies than as friends,) who would not rather take my word than that of ten sworn natives. If, Sir, allow me to say, if you really believe, that natives will not, or can not, prevaricate because they have been sworn, I beseech you to throw aside all such belief; or, if you retain it, you will eventually find the truth of what I say - that the majority of the natives cannot speak the truth whether sworn or not, more especially in any matter affecting themselves and their tribe, and much more so when there is any prospect of money-getting; and therefore the only way of eliciting truth from them, is by examining him apart, and by a copious cross-questioning.

I have already written vastly more than I originally intended, and yet I have more which I could say but I must stop. One word, however, I will yet add - namely, the sooner you abolish (or get abolished) the practice of handing over to these natives the fine, or half of it, whatever it may be, (unless in such extreme cases as the Ordinance, A 11, already quoted specifies,) the better for them and for the settlers. For, to them, time is nothing, and to worry in a thousand ways, any poor white man whom they have ill-will against, or from whom they hope to extort money (always keeping clear themselves of any overt act such as would lay them open to the Law) no one know better than they how to perform, being accustomed to delight in the art of tormenting from their infancy. All writers upon this people, who have dared to think for themselves, (I may almost add, and all thinking residents too) have observed, that, in addition to their being a nation of liars, the darling idol of the native heart is revenge. The Gospel, Sir, has indeed lessened the outward shew of that revenge; and in some few instances, broken its power; but, be assured, that the fiery spirit is wtill there, latent, it may be, but ready at any time to be roused and break forth with fearful energy. This is their ancient distinctive Maori vice; engrafted upon which is their present besetting sin --- their love of money; for which, even though they may not need it, they will, condescend to say or do any- thing, however false or mean. Now let them only be assured, as they already more than surmise, that both their darling vices --- revenge, and lust of gold --- can be gratified in an apparently fair and open way, if they will be but cunning and careful, and you will soon find them hard at work themselves, giving the settlers plenty of uneasiness and abundance of work.

May I be allowed to request you to shew this letter to your two brother Magistrates residing here --- Messrs. Alexander and Patterson. And, hoping, that the warmth of my injured feelings, together with my not being well, and yet hurriedly desirous that you should get these few remarks of mine as early as possible, in consequence of your soon leaving this neighbourhood, may not have unintentionally betrayed me into any expression approaching to disrespect --- which I distinctly and wholly disavow.

I am Sir, Yours very faithfully
(Signed) William Colenso.
To:- Donald McLean Esq. J.P.
etc. etc. etc. Ahuriri.

Part of:
Inward letters - William Colenso, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0221 (43 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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