23rd. August 1869.
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of an extract from a letter, No. 111, dated 6th. May 1869, written by Mr. R. Parris, Civil Commissioner, Taranaki, accusing me of making use of the following statement, - ''that in the event of the forces at the Block Houses being withdrawn, and any of use should afterwards be killed by natives, that your life shall be taken as payment''; and that Mr. Chilman gave John Purdie a severe reprimand, and warned him of his liability for the language he had used.
I will claim indulgence to make a short statement of facts, to enable the Honorable, the Defence Minister to understand more clearly the circumstances of the case alluded to by Mr. Parris.
The district in which I reside is on one of the direct roads, to and within one day's march of Ngatimaru. The whole of this Province was in a state of excitement; the women and children sent into town; all the moveable property of any value taken to a place of safety; and only those who were determined to fight for their homes, remained in the district. The massacre
on the East Coast had given a new aspect to Maori aggression; the murders at the White Cliffs had taken place, and Titokowaru was known to be within one day's march, - four of his men were within one hour's march of our dwellings. The settlers had left their threshing to cart up a Block House from Monganui at their own cost, to have it placed in a commanding position. A guard of three men and a Corporal was stationed about a mile inside of some of the settlers; and the Block House that we went to so much trouble about, was left without a man to defend it. I think, under those circumstances, the settlers had a right to seek assistance to prevent another disaster taking place.
I accompanied Messrs. Rowe and Andrews, two settlers in the district, for the purpose of applying to the Commanding Officer for a few men to guard the Block House, so as to prevent surprise when we were securing our crops in the daytime. The Commanding Officer was not in town. We next visited the Office of the Superintendent, who was also absent. As we had been informed on a previous occasion by the Commanding Officer, that he could not supply the place with a guard, unless by Mr. Parris' authority, we applied to him as the only course left open to us.
We laid our case before Mr. Parris. A conversation
ensued, in which we did not receive that courtesy and consideration that I thought, under the circumstances, we had a right to expect. On the contrary I consider that the abrupt manner in which Mr. Parris dealt with our case, the display of temper and the ungentlemanly language made use of, by him, was derogatory to one holding a high position in the Government Service. Our danger was compared to the danger of a person riding in a railway carriage. We were told that no assistance would be given to us; that a murder would have to be committed before we would be justified in defending ourselves. I said that if the force were withdrawn, and any of the settlers murdered, that the person who had ordered the withdrawing of protection would be held responsible for the murder.
Mr. Parris immediately jumped up and delivered himself in a manner that I will not attempt to describe. His own description is put in so mild a manner that I cannot recognise it. I will only quote one portion. He said, - ''I have caught you! I brought Mr. Chilman for the purpose. I will do for you. You are a parcel of curs, and no Englishmen, etc., etc.,'' In the extract from Mr. Parris' letter, he says, - ''Mr. Chilman gave John Purdie a severe reprimand.'' I did not hear Mr. Chilman give any reprimand. As I considered
Mr. Chilman had nothing to do with the matter under consideration, I would have considered it an unwarrantable interference on my part; but I am subject to correction here. As there were already three gentlemen who were supposed to direct in matters connected with the Defence in this Province, it may be that the head of the Customs had also some control; otherwise one in Mr. Chilman's position would not have subjected himself to an accusation of impertinent interference.
Mr. Parris is unfortunate in thw words he has put into my mouth, that your life will be taken as payment. It is not an English expression. It might be an expression that a person who was intimately acquainted with the Maoris would be apt to make use of when in a passion. It certainly is not an English idea to take a life for payment. For an offence, I am told, it is a common expression among the Maoris; but as I am not acquainted with Maori language, it is not likely that I would give expressions to Maori ideas.
Sir, I value my Commission as a recognition of Services rendered, and wounds received in front of the enemy. The loss of that Commission is of small moment when I am called upon to answer a false accusation made against me by a high Government Official, who acknowledged that he laid a trap to catch me, and
certified to by another Official who had lent himself for the purpose. It is now beyond the question whether I will be reinstated, or remain as I am. I think it is a matter for serious consideration on publick grounds. I will, therefore, beg that you will be pleased to order a strict investigation into the matter, by Court Martial. As Mr. Parris has thought it proper to send a certificate signed by Mr. Chilman, it might help you to come to a more decided opinion on the matter, if I enclose the certificates of Messrs. Rowe and Andrews, who were present during the whole meeting.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient servant
The Defence Minister
We, the undersigned, John Andrews and William Rowe, certify that the words mentioned in Mr. Parris' letter dated 6th. May 1869, as having been used by John Purdie, were never uttered by him, or any words to that effect, - we having been present during the whole of the meeting.
" W. Rowe.