Object #1011142 from MS-Papers-0032-0655

10 pages written 14 Jun 1873 by Richard Watson Woon in Wanganui to Sir Donald McLean in Wellington

From: Inward letters - Richard Watson Woon, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0655 (16 digitised items). 15 letters written from Wanganui, 1860-1874

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

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English (ATL)

Semi private. Wanganui
June 14 1873.


My dear Sir,

I returned from my up river trip yesterday, having come all the way from Ranaua in one day. I took over the Iru-harama School house which has been completed in a good workmanlike manner, and brought down here the carpenter with me. It has been an undertaking of much difficulty to convey the material up the river for this School, and it is a matter for congratulation that the work has at last been accomplished; as a good and substantial school house, capable of accomodating some fifty children has been erected, and there will be no difficulty in getting that number of children, as regular day scholars at said school, and what is wanted now is a good and efficient Teacher, and a married man if possible, such being the expressed desire of the Natives, who are anxious the school should be opened by 1 of July next. It is of importance that this school should be a success, as many of the up river children are likely to attend thereat, and I trust that it will be the means of disseminating much light and knowledge amongst the inland Tribes, and prove a source of lasting good to the Maori race!

The timber for the Parikina School is now daily expected from the Sound and the Natives have asked for the services of the "Pioneer" steamer, to convey the timber and and bricks up to the first rapid, about 20 miles up, to save the delay and trouble of conveyance by canoes the whole way.

This can be done at an expense of about £12 which disbursement I would recommend for your approval, as any outlay in this direction may be considered as money well spent, and I make free to urge the request, as this is the first time any demand has been made upon the funds set apart for Native School purposes, so far as my District is concerned.

I had a rather important case brought before me this time arising out of a Land dispute at Raorikia about 16 miles up the river, where damages were claimed for injury done to crops by opposite parties, cattle and pigs, and I was obliged to stay my hand owing to the title to Land being in dispute.

Horirua Katene and Whero were Pros, and our friend Kawana Taipai Defendant!

After taking evidence as to the amount of damage sustained, I adjourned the case, sine die, to be taken up again at such time as the title to the Land has been settled in the Native Lands Court. It transpired as the case proceeded that the land in question has been already surveyed and mapped prior to taking it through the Lands Court, by Mr. Charles Knight, who though duly paid for his services, failed to attend the Court to prove survey, map etc. and in consequence the matter has remained in abeyance ever since. I would recommend that Mr. Knight be called upon to certify to this Map, so as to render it admissible in the Court, at a future sitting, whereby the question of title may be settled, and the money paid for Survey etc. by the Natives not entirely thrown away.

There have been several instances here, where the Surveyor has failed to fulfil his part of the Contract, to the inconvenience and loss of the Natives concerned! A matter of great hardship, and highly prejudicial in its effects. I believe Mr. Knight is now in Wellington, and he ought to be spoken to on the subject. He has failed to take any notice of a communication of like import to above, from Hori Kerei Taipai, who has been victimised accordingly!

If the matter can be remedied by my sending the maps down to Wellington for certificate of surveyor as to correctness I could get same from the Natives and forward them in due course.

On the way up the river I met Aperaniko and party on their return from Te Kuiti, from whom I gleaned the following item of information, which at any rate may be considered reliable. Owing to delays on the journey, our Whanganui friends, viz. Topine, Aperaniko, Takarangi Mete Kingi and party, only spent three days at Te Kuiti, having taken up their quarters with Rewi and the Maniapoto at Te Uira, almost 2 miles distant from Kuiti. They arrived there after the murder of Sullivan, and when Comr. Mackay was there, who they say would most certainly have been killed by the Waikatos, but for the intervention of Rewi and the Maniapoto, it having been determined by the Waikato people to renew the attack upon him after having been foiled in the first attempt, and secure his death so that if it came to the worst and war ensued they would have made sure of their victim!

Takarangi tells me that the Ngatimaniapoto were highly incensed at the murderous and cowardly attack made upon McKay and challenged the Waikato party to fight over him, should they attempt a rescue! and that ever. Te Kooti expressed himself as being highly indignant at the conduct of Waikato, and denounced their proceedings in strong terms!

Takarangi says Te Kooti was most friendly to them and shewed no animosity and wished him to inform the Europeans generally that he had done with fighting, and wished henceforth to remain at peace with the Whiteman, and that should hostilities take place at Waikato he at least would stand aloof!

Takarangi says there can be now doubt that conduct of Purukutu was in a manner instigated, and approved of by Tawhiao and party, that on Tarapipipi's son informing Maori King of the tragedy he enquired when the whiteman had been killed, that the young man replied "Outside of the boundary of the confiscated land", wo which Tawhiao answered he knew of no such boundary'!. meaning that they laid claims to all the Land within, and without the bounds of the confiscated territory! Nuku confirmed this view of the case by alleging that all the evil originated at Te Kuiti! Takarangi further states that the daughter of Manuhiri, on the 12 or 13th. of May last came forward before the assembled Natives at Te Kuiti, hearing a white flag and a policeman's staff (the emblem of peace) and a lay and a short sword, and Taiaha, which represented war - and called upon the assemblage to make choice of same, that at first no response was made to her appeal, when she threw the baton towards Te Whiti Patato, who thereupon asked for the flag, declaring that he was for peace and opposed to war, to which she made answer that the staff represented the law, by the reference of all crimes and offences to the law for adjustment! That one Aroha Capt. of the Kings bodyguard called out that he elected for strife and bloodshed, saying "Ko te whero anake takei e pai ai" and that he was supported by all the Waikato party, except Te Ngakau who was for peace! Rewi and all the Ngatimaniapoto all expressed strong disapproval at this avowal of Aroha and party, and demanded that Purukutu should be handed over to the law, to be punished for his evil deed! That Rewi said "Kahore ahau e tahuri ki nga he Katoa o te ao! Tawhauo and Wetere also expressed concern lest the Govt. should - in case of war - connect Ngatimaniapoto with the offence of the Waikatos, and mete out punishment to all alike!. Takarangi also affirms that Ngatimaniapoto chiefs ohgd. Waikato with having committed this murder with the object of involving Tribes in hostilities with the Govt., so that, in case of defeat, Maniapoto might lose some of their lands and thereby suffer equally with their Waikato neighbouts and relatives, who they were bound to help in case of strife, on the score of relationship - and sympathy as being members of one race!

All the Whanganui party seem to think there is no chance of Purukutu being given up! However, it is to be hoped they may prove wrong in this surmise, altho' I must say I am inclined to the same opinion, judging from the past. Still, much may yet be done, through patience and forbearance, and by pressure being brought to bear through Maori influence and skilful and wisely planned arrangements, however protracted! At any rate no effort should be wanting in endeavouring to secure the capture of the murderers, without having recourse to the use of arms, and thereby involving the Country again in wa and bloodshed, and all its dire consequence!

Rewi's last words to Whanganui were a proposal to hold a Meeting at Taumaranui to discuss affairs, with a view to an amicable arrangement of matters, he having expressed him self strongly in favour of peace as advocated by him at Te Aomaama.

Mamaku and people are all in favour of peace, and our old friend is exerting himself much in that direction, and his influence may yet prove of service to the Country.

Mamaku has remained behind to attend meeting at Tapapa, where he intends to again demand the giving up of Purukutu and party, to be tried by the law!

Whether it is advisable to accede to Rewi's request for a meeting to be held at Taumaranui will be a matter for your consideration. Mamaku it appears refused consent, upon the ground that no good would result therefrom, stating as a reason, that a fatality always attended those meetings, as some European was generally sacrificed on or about the times of such Meetings. I have sent you a letter from Te Piki, which is very satisfactory and does him credit.

He and Mamaku may shortly be expected at Whanganui!

I am glad to say all the Whanganui disapproved of Waikato's murderous operations, including the chiefs Ropata Te Horohiti and Tamati Waka, and people of Ngatiruru and Ngatitu Tribes, who to the number of about 100 men with women and children, have responded to a call made upon them by Topine to return to their old Kainga at Utapu, Manganui oteao, and elsewhere on the Whanganui river. This is at least one beneficial effect, which has resulted from the extreme conduct of the Waikatos, and which will tend much to weaken their party, and add materially to the strength of ours! It appears that Tawhiao (who after all is said to be rather disposed for peace himself) was most anxious to see Takarangi son of Mete Kingi, and wished him to remain for the purpose of an interview, after the assembled Natives had dispersed, but Mamaku, who considered himself responsible to Mete for the safety of the lad, would not consent lest some evil "might purchance befall the lad"! Topia, finding the Waikatos were bent upon keeping back the murderers, deemed it inadvisable to address them publicly as it would have been to no no purpose but took part with all Whanganui in expressing disapproval at conduct of Waikato. It appears that Tawhiao sent for Purukutu to come to Kuiti at request of Topine, who has urged the King to give him up to be tried by the law!

Hoping you will excuse this scribble, it being now 12 o'clock at night. Saturday night too! and feeling very weary!


I beg to remain, dear Sir, Yours with every respect and confidence,
Richard W. Woon.
To:-- Donald McLean CMG Wellington

P.S. Kemp blamed Takarangi for not securing an interview with the Maori King, and demanding his intentions!

Part of:
Inward letters - Richard Watson Woon, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0655 (16 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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