January 17th. 1858.
My dear McLean,
I have written two long official reports respecting a threatened Waikato invasion. If you will go and look at them in Domett's office you will learn all that I know myself at present, and therefore I need not give you any more particulars here, but allude to a few points, which I can state better in a private letter to you than in the official report, and which (should Sir G. Grey be in Wellington) you can explain to him for me. There is no doubt that the Natives are in a most tremendous fright and are seriously talking of bolting off to some place of safety. You would have been greatly amused if you had seen old Ta Kerei on the occasion when Hone Ripiha first told me of it and placed the letters in my hands, there were present Wi Kawaho, Tahana, a son of Raniera's and old Takerei besides about half a dozen other natives of no importance. Takerei said very little at the time, but his face was a perfect picture, for I watched him narrowly. After it was all over, he came and told me privately not to mind it, for he thought it was all wind and would come to nothing. I replied that was just what I thought myself --- that was why I made no answer to Hone.
I am surprized at Poharama not coming to me, as
the epistles are addressed to him, and I have not been able to see him or Hoera as yet; but W. Kawaho heard Hone demand the sum of £1300, in which Tahana acquiesced, and he (W.K.) said nothing. Paritutu had already been at me with 3 or 4 other young men asking for a "Hikipene" for Mangoraka. He said he would not stick to what he said at first but would take anything, even a penny. I must tell you that peace is half made with Whaitere. Parata has been in the pa to the great disgust of old Taki who was going to be off in high dudgeon to Wellington (I am suspect he had an inkling of the goings on at Kawhia) but I told him I couldn't spare him, for if the only chief in the district left me I should be an orphan, etc. etc., and the end of it was, he graciously consented to remain. In short it is a thousand pities that we have not got the cash to nail them when in the humour. They expect the ope (500 per.) in February and if that month passess over and nothing is done the panic will pass away, and affairs be left worse than ever. At all events I mean to improve the occasion as much as possible by pretending to be in a great funk myself and telling them that if we had lots of land there would be thousands of pakehas and then they need not fear all Waikato. In that way I think the crisis may be turned to considerable advantage.
I do not at all know what Po will say of Hone's offer, but I incline to think that if he at all agrees it should be taken, for hitherto both parties have been very obstinate, Po saying the Waiwakaiho shall never go without the Hua and Puketapu saying the Hua shan't go till Waiwakaiho is paid for. Now if Po agrees to let the W. Block as originally laid out go for £1300, in his fear of Waikato, I think decidedly the best plan will be to take it or at any rate to offer from £1000 to £1200, keeping a certain part (say 1/4th.?) for the absentees.
The Auckland people, I must say, have treated us very badly. I say in my official letter that "no opportunity" has occurred of sending the money, but that is not the real reason, plenty of opportunities have offered and when their last letter was written saying the £500 should be sent by first opportunity the Victoria was actually lying in the Harbor, bound for Wellington and to sail north about --- in fact she passed this place on her way down. The truthis they have thrown every possible obstacle in the way, and after putting off sending the money twice, at last wrote refusing plainly to send it at all, but directing Flight to draw Bills (the very thing we were so anxious to avoid) when the deeds were properly signed! Did you ever hear such prepesterous stuff? I wrote them a thunderer, a regular phillippie, and the result of the last attack was that they cried
peccavi and promised to remit the stumpy, as I have told you. But £500 won't do. I must have £300 more if te Waiwakaiho is to be bought. I wish you would put this in as strong a light as possible before Sir George. I know you agree with me in this point. The only other difficulty is the separating the Waiwakaiho inland Block offered by Puketapu and that bounded by the Hua offered by Po. Now P. himself admits that he offered this land (to which he confesses Raniera has the best right) because they interfered with the other but now Waikato threaten to seize it, my own idea is that shld. Po join in the sale, no difficulty will be found in getting the Hua as a separate piece of they are urged about it while in their present state of affright. But the money is the great difficulty, and unless we get that very quickly we shall surely lose the present golden chance. I wish Sir George could manage to call here and bring £800 to £1000 in silver with him, I am sure wonders might be done and I should be immortalized for obtaining the best purchase yet made here. You would have more grounds for jealousy then (especially if Puku nui were to drop Waitara in his fright) than you have about the famous "Bell Block".
But I have no time for joking now. Talking of jealousy and the B. Block puts me in mind of R. B. I have lots to tell you of him, but that must be hereafter.
W. Bayly has been giving more trouble. He caught
young Hoera's wounded bullock in his wheat (now fenced) and claimed damages. As I could not appear in the Court to assist the Natives and there is no proper officer here for the duty I employed Scotland to take the case. The first day Mr. B. objected that Scotland was not properly qualified to practise. The Bench (Flight, Wilson and Leech --- Flight will not apply to unpaid magistrates) overruled the objection, but B. persisted and refused to be cross examined, so he was clapped in the cells for 24 hours in the course of which time a severe shock of earthquake occurred. Next day he had come to his senses, answered all the questions and the result was the case went against the natives and 10/- damages were paid. I have not time to report officially, but I tell you that you may understand the case and be prepared to answer any questions. The result is that the Moturoa Natives have turned off all the cattle and horses belonging to Europeans that were running on their unfenced lands; of course these animals will return, and I expect some case of difficulty will occur. At the same time the owners of them are doing all in their power to back up Mr. Bayly in his insane proceedings. I devoutly hope one of them may receive such a lesson as he will not be likely to forget in a hurry.
They had a public meeting on Saturday evening at which they unanimously agreed (I believe) to utterly abolish poor Flight and myself as incompetent. Your friend Daniel Bishop is to be appointed land purchaser under the new
Constitution. Tom Bayly talked of a Civil War and had a plan ready to submit to the meeting, but unfortunately they had too much sense to listen to him.
You must excuse this long letter, but the subjects it treats of are of great importance and I trust to your assistance in a great degree to explain matters. As it is possible Sir. G. may have said north I shall send duplicates to Auckland.
Believe me to be, my dear McLean,
Ever faithfully yours,
G. S. Cooper.
P.S. Old Tuki has just come to me crying aloud for Troops, the poor old chap is in a horrid state of mind and is talking of building a pa at once sometimes he says he will bolt, in fact he evidently is in such a fright that he cannot tell what to do. Of course, I have promised to send for troops, big guns, steamers and all, but I tell him at the same time they cannot be spared from Wellington, adding that if land had been given up long ago, we should have been strong enough to withstand Waikato without any soldiers. As it is I said, we shall all be killed or carried to Waikato, but never mind, we must die some time, still it is hard to lose all our property and be made slaves of etc. etc. I think this language is likely to have a very good effect.