Letter from W. Halse
to Donald McLean,
dated 25th. August 1854.
25th. August 1854.
My dear McLean,
More than the usual irregularity of the Auckland Overland Mail has occurred recently; so that you will be awaiting news from us anxiously. There is, however, nothing to communicate. Most of the natives are laid up with the measles; and their plans, if they have any, are not known to us.
In regard to our interference, it does not seem reasonable that we should do for them what they apparently they make no effort to do for themselves. This extraordinary apathy or self-control, under heavy wrongs, may arise from cowardice, weakness, or reliance upon the Government. I am inclined to the former reason; but whatever it be, it is inexplicable that the best blood of Puketapu should have been shed with impunity. All the natives have done, is to place the road under Tapu. Ostensibly, I believe, to prevent Katatori bringing his produce to town; so he
quietly carts it to Waitara; or W. Kingi does it for him; and as the inconvenience applies to all natives outside the line, it is not probably destined to be of long continuance. I understand that W. Kingi supports Katatori, but has not the courage to avow his views. R. Brown tells me this. Our situation is not encouraging. Grant that the natives will be satisfied with our remaining neutral, (supposing the Government so decide), we utterly lose their interest for the future. Should any improbable attempt be made by any of them to procure land for us, the opposition have only to turn out and shoot them, with the knowledge that we shall not interfere. How is Henare Pua to be dislodged, or any other rascal, who may choose to oppose our occupation of land, however fairly purchased? I think that the circumstances of the settlement quite warrant the Government in placing troops here, as a protection we have felt the want of for upwards of ten years; and as a means of compelling obedience to the laws, --- if only for the last sad scene that has happened. Again, the not seeing our way through this business, is an all sufficient reason. The result of Rogan's enquiries is next to nothing. The natives are full of uncertainty, and apprehend trouble, both to themselves, and us; for which we should prepare. Had Rawiri been so prepared,
there would have been no deeds of blood to record, as was afterwards shewn by the murderers remaining in their pa, after threatening opposition, when he was borne to his grave by an armed party.
It was a general disappointment not to receive a line from Auckland by the steamer; for we had written letters on the Hua murders, for the Overland Mail, --- "Cashmere", and steamer; and we were informed that some found their way on board the latter; whereas a loose "Herald" gave the only intelligence to you. It is to be desired that in any contract Government may enter into with the steamer, that she shall be bound to carry mails; and wait a reasonable time to receive them on board. The Captain shewed an utter indifference to our position, which might have rendered early communication with Auckland of the highest importance.
You will be pleased to learn that the Hua district was offered for selection on the 17th. inst., according to notice. Of the 800 acres open for the purpose, 500 were selected for the purpose; one section by the last claimant on the Rural list. It was so in the Bell district selection, and arises from most claimants being unrepresented. The remaining land will be offered first to Watson, for his 200 acre compensation granted by the New Zealand Company. Secondly, to resident
Scrip-holders; and afterwards to land-holders issued after 4th. May 1849. It was said that you paid a high price for this Block, But it was worth it; the land now selling at £6, the highest price new districts have realised; and twice that of the Bell Block, when opened.
I am very glad, you have recommended Rogan for an appointment in your Department; feeling assured that he will serve you zealously and ably. I trust that for some time you will not remove him, and until he has advanced the Mokau purchase. For the present I have arranged with him, (under an advance granted by the Superintendent), to carry on the bush surveys, which are in great arrear; so that he and Carrington together may put this work in order. Afterwards I imagine he will be wanted to lay off the Native Lands in the Hua, for which I trust there is no promise of labour being supplied by Government. If so, the cost, when land is to be cut up in infinitesimal quantities to suit native caprice, will far exceed all other incurred.
I received by the steamer, instructions to pay over the Company's 4th. of the money you laid your hand upon whilst purchasing. How it is to be managed, except Government advance, as hitherto, is not clear to
me, but I must consult the Officials, and answer the letter by next post.
The position of Government, in regard to the Representatives, is to be deplored, as interfering with the public business. The Governor appears to have acted firmly, and with becoming dignity throughout; and he protected his Executive in Office. On the other hand, after giving such unequivocal proof of his intentions and policy, they might have retired gracefully, and so freed His Excellency from embarrasment; the more particularly after "retiring pensions" had been hinted at, by them, and sufficiently promised to bind the Representatives.
We have been expecting the "Eclipse" for some days. Mr. and Mrs. Woon left us for Wanganui the other day. The "Velox" will sail to-day for Sydney, having completed her loading at Waitara. The new-comers are settling down, growling at the high prices. Give my defiance to Bell, and ask him why he did not send me the Grant Forms from Wellington. The Colonial Secretary has again authorised me to get them here, but there is no parchment, or chance of any.
To:- Donald McLean.