Letter from W. Halse
to Donald McLean
dated 30th. December 1854.
30th. December 1854.
My dear McLean,
The steamer came up yesterday from Auckland the evening before. Mr. Turton and Major Nugent were amongst the passengers. The latter is here on the Native (late) business; which, I am happy to state is at an end, --- at Ieast for the present. On Christmas Day they cleared off by the road they came, after having failed to obtain the permission of our natives to return by the Coast. I understand that three of the wounded were left at Kaipahopaho; the rest were carried back. No one knows the reasons for this retreat. The natives here do not believe that they have returned to their places. In any case, it was a great relief during Christmas time to be freed from their presence. Some say there was a division in their Councils; that they were heartily tired of having their people shot and wounded, for a
lad they cared nothing for. Others, --- that Ihaia's boast (which was well circulated) of his reliance on Taupo and Whanganui, for assistance, (a native of each place having fallen at Mumaha), decided them on returning to their homes, which they have had to defend against the Taupos more than once.
Four of Ihaia's party are in Hospital; all doing well, including Hori, (the man who shot Rimene). One is Ani, a middle-aged wahine, who has a bad wound in the head and neck from a bullet.
It is rumoured that the 58th, are going home, with the exception of the Colonel, who is to be our Governor. Another Regiment is to relieve it. I understand that Major Nugent has an eye to sites for Block houses; which is probable, as it was your intention to recommend their being erected. Indeed, the longer we live, the greater seems the necessity for our being prepared for very possible disturbances. Who can say what good influence the presence of pensioners, or Troops, might not have on the natives. At least some alteration should be tried, if only for experiment; in the hope that a different state of things might be brought about. The natives of the district are now always armed. There is no protection for them but in themselves. They are not producing, themselves; or
assisting us by their labour, to do so. Moreover, they feel that they are neglected by the Government. They have not even an Officer appointed over them; so if they have complaints, wishes or wants, (which is well known they have) they keep them to themselves until they see the Government take an interest in them.
You will have received the glorious news from Europe. The "Camilla" from Otahou, touched here on her way to New South Wales, with the news, having spoken a vessel bound to Wellington; and the steamer, yesterday, confirmed all.
We are all mad; up to our ears in fancy dresses. I'm coming out as Abdel Kader; Hetley having lent me a moustache and beard, which he purchased in Paris; and with the Dr. and Mrs. Wilson's assistance, I expect to cut a fair figure. I have mastered three or four sentences of my native country, and shall rather surprise the company, if they expect English from me.