Object #1017388 from MS-Papers-0032-0634

4 pages written 25 Mar 1858 by John Whiteley in New Plymouth District

From: Inward letters - Rev John Whiteley, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0634 (64 digitised items). 57 letters written from Taranaki, Kawhia and Auckland, 1844-1861. Includes McLean to Whitely, 7 Feb 1846 & 6 Mar 1854; 2 letters to Whitely from Colonial Secretary's Office, 1847 & 1853. Piece-level inventory of letters accessioned pre-1969.

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

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English (ATL)

New Plymouth
March 25th. 1858.

My dear Sir,

You will receive from others all information about our troubles here so that it is not necessary for me to say more than a few words of invitation or persuasion for you to come to our help. Perhaps you may think we are all sufficient of ourselves but depend upon it that is not the case. Never had we such difficulties surrounding us --- never such dangers threatening us and how we shall act or what will be done it is hard to say. Ihaia is beset and surrounded by a host which threaten him with annihilation and they are daily advancing their trenches and stockades nearer and nearer his pa while he is equally determined to sell his life as dearly as possible and fearful must be the carnage before long, unless something be done for his relief. He offers to sell his land and appeals for help to Government. A letter was sent by him to Government which was understood by the Authorities here to be a giving up of himself as a prisoner to be tried for the murder of Katatore and an appeal to British power for protection for his people. Great excitement was produced in the settlement by it. The Bench of Magistrates were assembled, the Militia and Troops were to be sent down to Waitara and if Ihaia's beseigers refused to let them come away peaceably they were to be rescued by force. All the Town would have volunteered their help and I fear there would have been a collision. Mr. Halse however was sent down to enquire if Ihaia and his people really understood the terms on which alone the British forces could at all interfere viz. that they should give themselves up unconditionally as prisoners that they should be tried by British law for their lives, and that if the law adjudged any of them to death those persons thus found guilty and condemned should suffer whatever penalty might be decided upon. They argued that those who killed Rawiri the Assessor and the other six ought also to be put on their trial but it was replied that nothing could at present be said about them as they had not offered to give themselves up and did not appeal for protection. All we could talk about at present was the crime of Ihaia and his people and if they would engage to take their trial for that crime and abide by the results then protection would be afforded. As the prospect of imprisonment, trial by law for their lives and hanging by the neck for killing Katatore was thus set before them, while the originators of the evil, viz. the surviving accomplices of Katatore in the murder of Rawiri Waiana were to get off scot-free --- they began to think if this was British protection and British justice they had better remain where they were and trust to their own good pa and their own good selves. And so Mr. Halse returned to Town to report that they did not acknowledge their letter in that full extent of its legal meaning and penal consequences which the Authorities had attached to it. This of course upset all the arrangements and nothing was done. I think this was fortunate for if the Militia had gone down and got fighting with Wiremu Kingi and his party it would have been a war, not between the Natives and soldiers but between the Natives and settlers and for this I think the Province is not yet prepared.

Nevertheless it is thought by some that the above was not a fair way of putting the case before Ihaia. It is argued and I think justly that the killing of Katatore was only a continuation of that barbarous maori war which he himself originated by the murder of Rawiri Waiana; that if British law is to interfere at all it must take cognizance not merely of one single act of that war but of the whole from the beginning and that if as matter of form Ihaia and his friends were put on their trial no jury with a knowledge of the whole case would be found to convict them. Hence it is said we did wrong (I say we for Mr. Reinenschneider and myself went with Mr. Halse) that we did wrong in discouraging and alarming Ihaia with such a dark prospect of condemnation imprisonment transportation and the gallows. However we were influenced by two considerations, first we thought it our duty to warn them of the worst that might possibly take place lest they should hereafter say we had deceived them; and secondly we feared a collision between the settlers and Wiremu Kingi's party if it were attempted to take Ihaia by force out of his hands. We knew very well that nothing would have pleased scores of settlers better than to go and fight Wiremu Kingi but we feared the consequences and therefore when Ihaia seemed to hesitate about giving himself up because of the dark prospect of possible consequences we availed ourselves of that hesitation and took back such a report as caused the proceedings to be abandoned.

But after all, the document with 95 signatures is gone to Auckland and the question is, Ought not Government to do something? Viewing the whole history of the feud I contend that Katatore began it --- it has been carried on according to Maori law that law was kua rite when Katatore was killed and now the beseigers are proceeding to extermination and annihilation on principle foreign to Maori law and Maori fairness and those principles are first the ambition of Wiremu Kingi who aspires to the Kingship of all the land and wants Ihaia killed because he will sell land; and second the Fanaticism of TamatiTe Ito who has made himself so popular among the credulous natives by his pretentions about their old tapus and who now seeks by engaging in this quarrel to make himself a still greater man among them.

During the protracted war against Katatore there was something like bearable moderation but the above principles are operating to excite Revenge to the highest possible pitch and to urge the bloodthirsty avengers to the most fearful length. The question is, Ought not Government to attempt mediation? I think so assuredly. Not force, be it observed --- it is not my province to recommend that, but friendly mediation in every possible way in order if possible to avert that disgrace from our settlement and our Colony which the threatened massacre would hing upon it.

O I hope you will come I have written to Govt. and advised this also that Tamati Waka and Wiremu Nera come.

In haste and sorrow I am Dear Sir,
Yours truly,
John Whiteley.

Part of:
Inward letters - Rev John Whiteley, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0634 (64 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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