Object #1015928 from MS-Papers-0032-0327

9 pages written 22 Jul 1865 by John Williams Harris to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - John Williams Harris, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0327 (70 digitised items). 66 letters written from Hawke's Bay & Poverty Bay, 1851-1870. Includes undated note in Maori signed Matiu

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

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English (ATL)

COPY. Turanga
22nd. July 1865

Donald McLean Esq-,
My dear Sir,

Our people are joining the Hau Haus as fast as possible. We are now in a sad minority. Tamihana Ruatapu and Patene te Whaka called a Runanga yesterday, which I attended, as did the greater number of our remaining settlers. It was supposed to be held by the Government natives alone. All Hau Hau and Kupapa excluded. A very poor affair it proved. There were perhaps 100 men present; deduct those from Turanganui and Whare Onga Onga, etc., I should think we had twenty left of Ngatiwhiri and Ngatimaru, and a portion of those not to be depended on.

The result arrived at was that the settlers could and would be defended to the utmost, (Tamihana had proposed our leaving); that a pa should be erected at Turanga - nui, (as a place of refuge) by Nimini te Kapi, in which all the loyal (?) natives join, and another smaller one here for immediate refuge under urgent circumstances, pending a retreat to Turanganui.

So far so well, though there is no disguising the fact that the whole of the East Coast is in a most critical state. The general feeling here is against Morgan, both with Hau Haus and professed Queen natives. Should that Chief suffer defeat, I dread the consequences. Indeed I have heard the Hau Hau natives have said, - "If Patara is victorious, we mill rise here, and if---no one whether----or not" (N.B. words omitted are indscipherable). In fact it was mentioned at the runanga.

You are perhaps aware Tamati te rangi tua Waru William King te Paia, and Whaka Kara, all leading men, have perverted. Everyone says Andrew Matete is the worst native in Turanga. He, with Lazarous, has done an infinity of mischief. In Himeni te Kani I have not the slightest faith. He professes to be extremely loyal. Why then, does he take trips to Warenga-a-hika, and why has the Hau Hau made a money collection for him?

There was a staff erected on Thursday, (yesterday) at the Runanga, on which was displayed three flags surmounted by a red ensign. In consequence William King threatened to erect a Niu close to the Church, but was prevented by Tamati Hapamana. They all threatened, however, in the event of Paratene Patoti obtaining arms, to at once throw themselves in the arms of the Hau Hau: in which case I fancy they would join Lazarous Rukupo, in his movement, i.e. to get the Hau Hau of the place to attack Morgan and his supporters.

Taking all these matters into consideration, I think it would be very injudicious to supply arms, etc., to anyone of our natives, without the Government is prepared at once to support those on whom dependence can be placed, which is, I am guarded to say, a sad minority; and even that small number is daily decreasing.

Hopi is writing his account of proceedings at the Rumanga for publication. It will be well to have a native version.

I am informed by all natives in whom I can place the slightest dependence, that though no immediate danger may be expected, they, nevertheless, know not the moment a collision may take place.

They further say no dependence can be placed on the assertions of the Hau Haus here: as, though they generally profess a good feeling towards the settlers, still there are no two settlements that apparently intend taking the same course. The truth is we are just sitting over a volcano.

You must support Morgan. If he is beaten, this district is lost. Again, should he not succeed in taking Patara, but drive him away, he will, in all probability find his way here, and head our fanatics. How far his assumed invincibility will suffer is a question. At present, according to Native account, they have a perfect invincibility from shot powder.

Opotiki is ever and anon thrown in our teeth. This question is asked, (bear this in mind) "What have they done about Volkner's murder? What is the reason the Hau Hau is allowed to carry the cooked heads of the Pakeha all over the island, just when and where they please?"

Because the Government (say what they like to the contrary) are powerless: and "we well know that were all the natives throughout New Zealand to rise en masse, we could at once drive you into the sea from whence you came."

Their idea is, (I am informed) to clear all off along the coast. Can they succeed here, then to attack Mahia and Wairoa, and then try Napier, or, more property speaking, Ahuriri, as the town would not be attempted till the out settlements in Stations, etc., was effected; and I cannot forbear reiterating that (apparently) they all (with very few exceptions) deeply sympathise in the movement. We have committed most serious errors in ignoring that fearful tragedy at Opotiki.

The sooner you can look in on us the better, though I fear you will not do much good now with the natives. You can, nevertheless, judge for yourself of the aspect of affairs here. Had we a Kopua or Morgan among us to take the lead, we should be far differently situated.

Excuse this very rambling way in which I have written. In fact, some of the information has reached me since I commenced.

Believe me, with best wishes/
Very faithfully (Signed)
J.W. Harris.

23rd. July

Runanga held to-day by the Hau Hau, at Tamati Hapomana's, (i.e Turanga-tua-waro) at which I hear it was decided to urge the settlers to stay; that there was no fear of their being troubled by the Hau Hau, and that a deputation from them is to wait on us next week. further, that they will not commit themselves as against the Government, without the Government takes the first step, (by sending troops I suppose) This is tantamount to declaration of war here sooner or later.

I have just seen a Kupapa, (as thoroughly Hau Hau at heart, I can judge from his conversation as any of them): who tells me a collision among the natives here must and will take place sooner or later; and that it will be brought about by the attitude assumed by the Government party here, and the way in which that bad man Morgan is acting; but that the settlers need not fear; they will not be meddled with, without it was done by some foolish fellows who would not be restrained by the head men.

"Dilly, dilly, wait and be killed."
Ever sincerely (Signed)
J. W. Harris.
July 30th. 1865.

I forgot to say the natives often plainly ask us why no notice has been taken of Volkner's murder. Punishment not having followed quickly on that fearful tragedy, has had a most disastrous effect on the natives. They know the troops are to be removed, and I fear they are but biding their time, and think to find us unprepared; when they could rise en masse, and massacre the settlers near and far.

Part of:
Inward letters - John Williams Harris, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0327 (70 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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