Object #1019113 from MS-Papers-0032-0174

40 pages written 17 Apr 1870 by St John Branigan in Wellington to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - St John Branigan, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0174 (16 digitised items). 13 letters written from Wellington, New Plymouth & Auckland, 1869-1871, undated. Includes letter from McLean to Branigan's wife, Feb 1871.

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

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Page 1 of 40. View high-resolution image

English (ATL)

COPY. Wellington

17th. April 1870.



My dear Mr. McLean,

I received your note, and also - the prisoners, all right. The latter are under my charge at Mt. Cook. Gilfillan arrived last evening, with the 32nd, man.

The Whanganuis, (Kemp's and Topia's) are at Upper Mt. Cook,

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English (ATL)

as comfortable as possible. To-day being fine, many of the townspeople, including Mr. & Mrs. Gisborne visited them. Everything has been satisfactory. Mr. Gisborne has invited several people, myself amongst them, to dine to-morrow, to meet Topia and Kemp. They all leave on Tuesday by ''St. Kilda.'' and ''Stormbird'' for

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English (ATL)

Whanganui. A detatchment of recruits from Patea district, to replace men at various times dismissed and discharged as drunkards, etc., (25 in number) go at same time.

On getting the prisoners into my possession I had them carefully searched. One man had a perfect

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English (ATL)

Labortory, viz, - three parcels powder, coarse medium and fine; a box of Government caps; small bag of slugs; three spare nipples (very carefully oiled, and wrapped up as if very precious), and lest in his wander- -ings he came across a flint-lock gun or pistol, a parcel of nicely cut flints. From another, I took a sportsman's shot

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English (ATL)

belt, also full of ammunition. Others had many odds and ends, which might have led to identification, (particularly the shot belt), if they had been carefully searched in presence of witnesses, when first they were taken, I intend issuing instructions on this subject,

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English (ATL)

for future guidance.

I arrived at Patea from Taranaki, all right, and enjoyed the Journey. I slept at Honi Pehanio's place, having previously met him at Opunake. I found Honi very attentive, but what astounded me not a little, was the finding, all the way from Opunake,

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English (ATL)

past Honi's place, and all along to the Waingongoro, a most magnificent road, a chain wide at least; some of the cutting descending to the rivers, and up the opposite banks, were very heavy pieces of work, and would reflect credit upon

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English (ATL)

any engineer. Upon my expressing my astonishment to Honi, and asking how long he had been engaged on the work, and how many had been working, - he astonished me by replying that six weeks sufficed to complete the work; and about 40 of his people were all that were engaged on it. Certainly so

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English (ATL)

fine a piece of work, and so expeditiously done, would have put to the blush our own people. (Mr. Percy Smith deserves to be engaged again. He it was, who mapped out this road.)

Of course, during the night, many of Honi's people questioned me, particularly Nahini; and by the aid of the man who came with me from Taranaki, I could

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English (ATL)

perceive that the drift of their enquiries, was to elicit information as to the probability of the Government interfering with Titoka, if he were to sue for peace, and seek re-occupation of the land he occupied beyond the Waiongongoro before the war on the East Coast. They also

English (ATL)

COPY. Wellington

17th. April 1870.



My dear Mr. McLean,

I received your note, and also - the prisoners, all right. The latter are under my charge at Mt. Cook. Gilfillan arrived last evening, with the 32nd, man.

The Whanganuis, (Kemp's and Topia's) are at Upper Mt. Cook, as comfortable as possible. To-day being fine, many of the townspeople, including Mr. & Mrs. Gisborne visited them. Everything has been satisfactory. Mr. Gisborne has invited several people, myself amongst them, to dine to-morrow, to meet Topia and Kemp. They all leave on Tuesday by ''St. Kilda.'' and ''Stormbird'' for Whanganui. A detatchment of recruits from Patea district, to replace men at various times dismissed and discharged as drunkards, etc., (25 in number) go at same time.

On getting the prisoners into my possession I had them carefully searched. One man had a perfect Labortory, viz, - three parcels powder, coarse medium and fine; a box of Government caps; small bag of slugs; three spare nipples (very carefully oiled, and wrapped up as if very precious), and lest in his wander- -ings he came across a flint-lock gun or pistol, a parcel of nicely cut flints. From another, I took a sportsman's shot belt, also full of ammunition. Others had many odds and ends, which might have led to identification, (particularly the shot belt), if they had been carefully searched in presence of witnesses, when first they were taken, I intend issuing instructions on this subject, for future guidance.

I arrived at Patea from Taranaki, all right, and enjoyed the Journey. I slept at Honi Pehanio's place, having previously met him at Opunake. I found Honi very attentive, but what astounded me not a little, was the finding, all the way from Opunake, past Honi's place, and all along to the Waingongoro, a most magnificent road, a chain wide at least; some of the cutting descending to the rivers, and up the opposite banks, were very heavy pieces of work, and would reflect credit upon any engineer. Upon my expressing my astonishment to Honi, and asking how long he had been engaged on the work, and how many had been working, - he astonished me by replying that six weeks sufficed to complete the work; and about 40 of his people were all that were engaged on it. Certainly so fine a piece of work, and so expeditiously done, would have put to the blush our own people. (Mr. Percy Smith deserves to be engaged again. He it was, who mapped out this road.)

Of course, during the night, many of Honi's people questioned me, particularly Nahini; and by the aid of the man who came with me from Taranaki, I could perceive that the drift of their enquiries, was to elicit information as to the probability of the Government interfering with Titoka, if he were to sue for peace, and seek re-occupation of the land he occupied beyond the Waiongongoro before the war on the East Coast. They also appeared to be anxious to know whether Tauroa would ever be allowed to settle down again on his land.

I was, of course, discreetly reticent, and simply listened to them with patience and courtesy.

I had, up to my visit to Honi's place, always considered that the Patea country was the finest I had seen; and now, (except north of Auckland), I have seen all the land in the Island. But to my mind, the land for twenty or thirty miles north of the Waingongoro, even far eclipses the Patea land. Almost as far as the eye reaches, nothing but richly grassed, well-watered, undulating plains, with nothing on them, except here and there, a few Maori horses.

I am glad to say that since I visited the country between Waihi and Whanganui, in November last, I found a vast change for the better. Settlers' houses and fences have sprung up, as if by magic. But such uneasiness is felt; and if I mistake not, settlement now rapidly progressing, will be much retarded, if the question now bitterly discussed by the settlers, as to the permission for certain Maoris to return and reoccupy some of their old ground on the Waitotara. What I wish to convey, is, that some person other than those who are now attempting to explain matters, and put them on a satisfactory footing, with justice to both settler and Maori, is required, before compilcations arise, which may seriously interfere with the so much to be desired settlement of so fine a country.

Mr. Fox, - as no doubt you are aware, - had gone south. Mr. Cooper has gone with him. Mr. Fox intends speaking, and at his request, I furnished him with some Defence Memoranda. He appeared much pleased with the expenditure, - that is, pleased that it was no larger.

Everybody is much pleased with Ropata's brilliant conduct; and still further pleased to hear that he is not going to give up his pursuit of Te Kooti. Mr. Fox, indeed, is sanguine enough to think that Ropata's engagement virtually settles the business. I need hardly say other people do not agree with hin.

I am quite anxious about the Auckland Police. I know that Gillies and others expect some change for the better, now that we have taken it into our hands; in fact, Gillies told me that he had consented to hand over the Force to the General Government, much against the wishes of many Auckland people; but that he trusted that in a short time, the change would be so apparent as to satisfy them; that the step on his part was judicious, and if I resided on the spot, I have no fear that the step would be found a judicious one; but living here, and as busy as I can possibly be, I find that I cannot do all that I desire, to make the Force not only efficient, but a credit to Auckland.

While I was absent last, Mr. Broham was here, from Hokitika. He is the Inspector of Police for Westland, and is an applicant for employment in the Auckland Police. Although I did not see him, I know him to be a first rate modern Police Officer. He is from the Victorian Police, and worked his way up from the ranks. Mr. Gisborne saw him in my absence, and thinks very highly of him; so much so that he recommends that Haughton should be offered leave for four months; and that during his leave, some other appointment, such as R.M. at some small place, be offered him, if a vacancy occurs; or failing that, that he should be superannu- -ated; but that under any circumstances, that he should return to his appointment after the expiration of his leave, if nothing suitable is found for him. But that during his leave, Mr. Broham should be appointed to introduce some system and regularity. As he is perfectly acquainted with the Victorian system of Police. I hope to see you shortly on this subject, but I would feel perfectly easy in my mind if Mr. Broham was in charge at Auckland, because I despair of doing anything with McNaughton at this time of day.

20th. April. Wednesday.

Wanganuis all left yesterday evening. Everything satisfactory. There was a large party at the Barracks on Monday. The day was very fine, to witness their War Dance. (Everbody was amused to find Whitmore acting as Master of Ceremonies); and as Mr. Gisborne desired to see the Detachment I was sending to Patea, the people all came with him to my parade ground; and you will see by the enclosed paragraph, that Mr. Gisborne was much pleased at all he saw.

I forgot to say that several young bushmen, farmers' sons, followed me here to join the Force, paying their own passages, - and among them, Major Stapp's son. They are all respectable young fellows.

I note what you say about Swindley. I have been aware for some time back, that he has been corresponding with Whitmore. Indeed Roberts and Swindley visited Whitmore at his farm, while I was in Auckland. I do not, however, see what possible harm they can do, if they but adhere to the truth. I will receive Swindley, as you recommend it, and I think he and some others ought to be severed from the Service. They certainly would be no loss to it. The fact is, that instead of working, as they are obliged to do now, they prefer the old system, when they depended on others to provide their food, pay them, etc., etc., while they dawdled away their time, apeing the Imperial Officer.

I perceive that nine men have recently been ordered to Auckland, from the Waikato district, making a total of 16 Armed Constabulary now in Auckland. Before I left, I arranged for the due protection of the Magazine, by having one man in charge of it during the day, and another during the night; which, in my opinion, was all that was required. But it seems that someone has considered it necessary to mount a regular Military guard. Otherwise I cannot account for so many men being necessary. As the matter now stands, the protection of the Auckland Magazine now costs nearly £1500 a year. Besides, the removal of so many men from Waikato, weakens the strength of that district, below that which you always considered it should be, viz, - 100 at least.

What is to be done about Ngatiporou at Waihi? They are at present strong, not counting women and children, and cost close upon £1000 a month. I think a mixed force of natives and Europeans (the latter predominating), commanded by a good Officer, say of about 100 strong, would be a more reliable force. I mean, - not subject to fits of homesickness, - than the present force. They would certainly not cost half the money.

While referring to this district, - I think the Volunteers and Militia on pay, might now be well reduced, if not wholly done away with. Take, for instance, Wereroa, which costs us £307 a month. The men who occupy it are much excited by the present question of Maori occupation of the Waitotara. Again at Wairoa (W.C) I found a notice calling for a public meeting, to discuss the policy of the Government, in permitting Maoris to return, - posted up over the entrance to the Redoubt. I mention these facts, in order that you may judge whether it is not better to occupy these posts, (if indeed, occupation of so many is necessary), by a force who have no interest in such questions; and who are only guided by one principle, viz, - the maintenance of the peace.

To show you how very expensive this district is, notwithstanding so much road-making, I dot down its cost for February, which comes to a total of £2337.

Many of these men are reserved in advance of Patea (say Waihi or Manutahi), if the question as to the description of force best suited for Waihi was settled; Patea being, from its position, only Headquarters of the district, and not a defensible post.

I find I am covering too much paper, but I intended to say that Roberts has a strength of 280 men in the Hawke's Bay District. I think we might effect a large saving of say the odd 80 men removed to Posts in the Patea districts; and so discontinue the Militia, or a large portion of them, in that district.

I hope to be in Auckland latter end of next week, and will then be able to speak to you more at length on such subjects as these.

I remain
Yours obediently (Signed)
St. John Branigan.

The great objection in my mind to seperate native districts or provinces and parliaments is the tendency they would have to build up substantial organizations which would in course of time become the rallying points for disaffection. The proposal in this paper appearing to me less amenable to the objection than any other proposal with which I have met.

I think if the thing could be well workedout that the District Board would acquire such a local tinge and have so much real work to do, that the danger of there being misused for so called National purposes is materially lessened.

I should prefer that the duties of the boards should be as much administration and as little legislative as possible

Julius Vogel 20/4/70

Part of:
Inward letters - St John Branigan, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0174 (16 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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