Letter from W. Halse,
to D. McLean Esq. J.P.
dated 30th, July 1853
30th. July 1853.
My dear McLean,
I had not time to write you by last post, but news of one's ill luck travels apace; and you will have heard from other sources, of the result of the election for Superintendent. Though setting aside the unpleasantness of defeat, I am better off as I am. And so I told the electors, whereat they laughed immoderately, as though they did not actually disbelieve me. The idea struck them as novel, as it did myself. I wish you had been here, for of the election nothing can be gathered from our paper, which is thorough Brown. When C. Brown and the Rads threatened poor Garland to withdraw their support if the paper continued its policy, which was fair to the Government, the Editor was replaced by their own man Pheney; who, but for them, might still be "bushing" it in the Omata. He has already had the bad taste of voting for Brown, in the place of observing
a strict neutrality; and of putting up as a candidate for the Council for the Grey and Bell in the company of Cutfield, who never gave his consent; and since his patron's election, of writing a leader, imputing partiality to the Returning Officer. To meet this, arrangements are in progress for starting another paper under the Editorship of Scot-land, an untried man. But as you know, of excellent principles. I believe that overtures have been made to Woon, who finds it difficult to live on his salary at Wellington, --- to conduct the printing; and letters forwarded to Canterbury and Auckland for a Press; and as the "Herald" is supported chiefly by our party, it is expected that a new paper will upset it. As to this, we care little; we are only decided on not punishing the --- (?) to a paper professedly in the interest of Charles Brown; who on the hustings set the example of disobedience to authority, by expressing his disregard of the Governor's opinion, so long as he had the people's; a piece of rebel class trap that took with his supporters.
I do not know if you saw the programme of proceedings for the nomination advertised by Standish and Norris. The idea of a banner took the people by surprise, and well it might; as no intention of it
had been given, --- the banner and flag having been made in Auckland, by a confidential agent there. Webster ran off to Flight. Hooper intimated a possible disturbance of the peace, and felt assured that a hint of the kind would induce me to forego the banner.
Friday, the 15th. set in wet enough. At 12, a cannon was fired from the ship, and we started for the hustings in procession, proceeded by the banner, and flag of deep blue, having inscribed on them in large silver letters, --- "Halse and cheap land"; and "Halse for ever". Every supporter wore a silk rosette of the same colour. On the other side of the street I had had erected Ladies' hustings, for the accommodation of 200, surmounted at the centre and sides, by 5 flags (blue). W. King sent in a large awning from Brooklands, which covered in the whole concern; but the weather was so unfavourable that not more than 50 ladies were there; but yet they included the best in the place, --- the Richardsons, Kingdons, Govetts, Leechs, Coopers, de Moles, etc. All in blue. The effect of our turn out was observable in the rival candidates, and their proposers; for their speeches were excerable; and they looked like interlopers. Captain King, in proposing me, was well received, and
never spoke better. When the show of hands was called for, the Returning Officer declared it to be in my favour, whereupon Messrs. Hulke and the Champions of Liberty became furious, --- the former calling Flight a damned liar, for which he was immediately given in custody, by Cooper, and afterwards released, on an apology for his bad conduct. We returned to the ship; and at four, sat down to dinner, between 90 and 100 of us; the remainder, about 40, being compelled to go to the Taranaki, where dinner had been ordered for that number. At the ship, Cutty, as announced, occupied the chair, and exceeded himself. On his left were your humble servant, Cooper, the Squire of Brooklands, etc., and on his right, Parson Bayley, Turton, and a host of others. All the speeches were good; and the company being select, and comprising the best people of all classes, was very orderly, Narris presided at the ship, and everything passed off well there, Saturday was equally wet, but by great exertions we got in nearly all our men who did not remain in town on the previous night; and we headed the Poll up to 11. This, the "Herald" purposely omits; and but for Wicksteed's trickery, in coalescing with Brown, I must have won, for I polled 138. Eleven of those who had promised, left me for
the winning side. This, I hear, is always the case; and of the few who did not poll, I commanded a fair proportion. At four we marched up to the hustings, when each candidate uttered his last dying speech. C. Brown was quite unequal to the occasion, and Wicksteed had not the appearance of being sober. To complete the scene, C. Brown, who, during the day, regaled his supporters at the "7 Stars", and his lady, their wives, at the Store in Currie Street, stepped into a cart from the hustings, and sat himself in an arm-chair, (that same hideous one manufactured by Gudgeon, for me, which I sold at a loss of £7); and the cart, having a long rope attached, was whisked through the town by an excited and unselect band of free and independent electors; old Jordan standing behind the chair, drunk, and flourishing a stick over Brown's head; stopping opposite a "blue" house, to hoot and groan. We, on the other hand, returned to the ship to lunch, and passed the evening in the best of spirits, Outfield again in the chair, until nine, when the doors were burst in by a drunken mob of Brown's supporters; and but for the character of our own people, a disgraceful day for New Plymouth must have ended badly.
I have every reason to be satisfied that I saw the end of this election; though a hundred times I have regretted that I consented to put up for it. My position was never so good, and the people could not have declared themselves more unequivocably in my favour; though throughout, I have quite understood it was the cause, not the individual, that gave the spirit to the election. Still, I was honoured, in being so intimately associated with the cause. The clergy, magistrates, and leading people, (you shall have a list of them, some day), gave me their hearty support; and the wonder is I did not win. It was fated New Plymouth should undergo this ordeal, and the evil will cure itself. The "blues" assign to me this post yet, and at no distant day; but I do not encourage the feeling, for more than the reason that Brown, in spite of himself, is a Government Officer, and my supporter. I do not think I could be induced to undergo again the last 7 months. For this time I strived hard and anxiously to carry out the object of my supporters, --- even to throwing my present prospects under Government in the balance; and lost for the first, and I trust, last time in my life. In point of personal comfort, my situation under the Government (inferior as it is to its class), is infinitely to be preferred to that
of Superintendent. Besides, there is every prospect of the Superintendent being ignominously kicked out at the end of his term; and I might probably have lost all claim to Government employment, though my object in giving up my present situation, was to reduce the majority against me, and so defeat the enemies of Government. But this was a matter which perhaps could not be noticed by Government; and in every case it was one I should have been reluctant in advancing.
I was sorry to hear that Sir George Grey is arranging for leaving New Zealand, on leave of absence, it is stated; but we need not hope to see him back. Fancy returning! No, they will send him to some important place, where the people have something to attend to, and can live in harmony with their Governor. I wish I could get away; though now I never expect to do so, except on leave, which some day when the grants are out, I may ask for. I got a letter from Cooke the other day. He says New Zealand is good, but England better, and therefore will remain there; and he is right. Did you know Niblett, of Wanganui? Cooke reports his death, last October. His is a very old family in Gloucestershire. Niblett fooled away £3000
in New Zealand; and Wanganui, in the days of Tidewake.
Do you think anything can be done for Henry before Sir George leaves? He has been, I think 7 years, under Mr. Hooper, and has conducted himself in an exemplary way, as becomes one of his name. I have never been satisfied with his position here, except that the school has been good as far as acquaintance with natives and their language, etc., are concerned, for his connection with the police can be of no earthly benefit to him; and I shall be rejoiced to see him disconnected from it, though I would not say so to him.
Regarding myself, I have some thought, if an opportunity offer, and I can do so with propriety, of asking the Governor if he can do something for me. As, for instance, if a Register Office be established, whether he will appoint me Registrar, Such an office will be necessary now that grants are shortly to be issued; and the work would be in my way. Such an arrangement would improve my position; which, in point of salary, has retrogressed since John Co. became defunct; and lessen the distinction at present existing between the Commissionerships in the different settlements. And I might be induced, on a higher
salary, to startle not many, though it would be said I have no one in particular in view. But is is becoming a question of now or never; and besides, the snow is thickening on the mountain top.
I am delighted to hear from Cooper that you are settling with the absentees, for the Waiwakaio Block, without waiting for the residents. Depend upon it, our only chance consists in this; and I find that Turton is now of the same opinion, but only recently. I always advise Cooper to buy up all the interests that are offered to him, first ascertaining the ownership. By this mode, you get rid of a certain number of native difficulties; which, by a contrary policy, are only postponed, as they must eventually be met; unless, as is likely, they join the opposition. I have seen scores of such cases, where natives have not been taken in the vein. It is more costly, but what of that? Land is our great and vital question; and it is the want of it that makes us too small and inconsiderate to be a separate Province under the new law. Think of this, 13 years after the place has been colonised. We owe it chiefly to Fitz Roy.
I am in hopes that Cooper will at least advance negotiations for the Governor's and your arrival. The natives are difficult to treat with; especially since
the great advance in prices. But they are aware that they are dying out.
Cooper does not appear to like this place, but you must encourage him to persevere. I know that it is a first-rate school for acquiring the knowledge necessary for treating with natives; and he has improved greatly in Maori. But on this, you will have opportunity of speaking with him.
I must conclude. Trusting soon to have the pleasure of seeing you,
yours very truly
Donald McLean Esq.