Object #1019225 from MS-Papers-0032-0227

12 pages written 16 May 1854 by an unknown author in Taranaki Region to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - George Sisson Cooper, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0227 (70 digitised items). 67 letters written from Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wellington. Contains correspondence between McLean and Cooper with regard to the purchase of Maori land in Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa; the correspondence also contains information and discussions about general Maori affairs in these areas, and about personal matters. Includes two letters from Mclean to Cooper, 24 Mar & 1 May 1854

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

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English (ATL)


Tuesday May 16th. 1854.

My dear McLean,

I have delayed writing to you until this evening in order to give you full particulars of an unfortunate occurrence which took place at the Kaipakopako (Whaitere's pa) last Saturday, but now I feel that it will not be safe to put off writing any longer, so I will tell you the circums tances as far as they go, keeping the letter open till the last moment to give you the latest particulars.

A chief of Whaitere's party named Aperahama was married to a woman called Riria, of whom he had for some time been jealous, and had gone to live at another village, leaving his wife with his relations at the pa. A young man named Hiriwanu, cousin of the Aperahama, had long been suspected of an improper intimacy with this woman, and at length, on Friday night they were caught, and a messenger was sent to Aperahama, who came to the pa at daylight on Saturday morning, and went to the house armed with a tomahawk and called Hiriwanu to come out. He came out accordingly with a hammer in his hand, and Apehama made several blows at him with the tomahawk none of which took effect, when he slung it by the string along his left arm, up to the shoulder, drawing his blanket over it, and took up a stic (scythe handle) with which he commenced thrashing Hiriwanu, who after receiving a few blows struck at Aperahama with the hammer and stove in his skull. Whaitere himself and several others were about to take summary vengeance but W. changed his mind and called to them to desist, and that if Aperahama died they should consider about giving Hiriwanu up to the authorities. They agreed to this and set a watch on H. who had by this time retreated to a house. As soon as I heard of it, I rode off, accompanied by Tahana and found Aperahama still alive, though quite unconscious --- they had been afraid to take him to town to the Hospital, lest the Hua people should attack them for utu. However on Tahana's assurance to the contrary they agreed to take him in next morning if alive and after some discussion they promised to give Hiriwanu up to me. Next morning (Sunday) a message came to say the man was dead, so I sent to H. Halse and Dr. Wilson and Humphries to come out with me to Mangoraka --- we met Mr. Turton on the road, who also accompanied us. On reaching the pa we all agreed on discussion that an Inquest could not be held, but Humphries made an examination which would qualify him to give medical evidence. Hiriwanu was then sent for and a great tangihanga and speechifying took place after which he was formally handed over to Tahana and Rawiri, who turned him over to me. They provided him with a horse, (whose bridle was ormamented with yellow ribbons) and put the question whether the whole tribe had consented to give him up and that there should be no farther tikanga rapu utu, but they should agree to abide by the decision of the law. All these questions were answered in the affirmative by the whole party, and we started for town, after arranging that the next day (Monday) was to be employed in burying the deceased and that on Tuesday morning they were to come to town to the trial. This morning a full meeting of the Bench took place and we waited till noon without hearing anything from the Natives. I then started off, suspecting something was wrong, and on asking Whaiter why they stayed away he said it was for fear of Huirangi, because all the pas, as far as Onaero had sent their deputations to the uhunga, except Huirangi, from which he suspected they meant mischief. I immediately volunteered to go and find out their intention, to which Whaitere assented joyfully, and on going down I found that they had heard nothing about the death Aperahama. I could not see the nuinga, as they were out at work at some distance, but I saw an old chief to whom Whaitere had given me a letter, named te Putu-iwi. He spoke very well and said they had no intention of mischief and would have been to the uhunga had they heard the news. He refused W.'s invitation to breakfast at Kaipakopako, but they said they would go straight to town to meet Puketapu there. Whaitere was not quite saitsfied with this answer nor indeed was I either, as the tokomaha had not concurred in it, besides the refusal to call at the Kaipakopako looked suspicious. So Whaitere has made up his mind to sleep under arms tonight and watch for the Huirangi people on the morning and follow them to town. This is all I can tell you at present, but I will try and add more tomorrow if anything should delay the mail. Old Whaitere has behaved exceedingly well throughout the affair, and so indeed have all his Natives. They are extremely anxious that Hiriwanu should not be taken to Auckland for trial, and I hope that nothing will prevent the Judge from coming down here. To force the prisoner to Auckland would have a most injurious effect upon the Natives, and I do not believe the witnesses could he induced to go. It will be very difficult to satisfy the minds of the Natives without taking the prisoner's life, and indeed I fear that (unless the lapse of time which must take place before he is tried should cool their resentment a little) anything short of it will not prevent payment being sought after the old custom which cannot fail to produce a way. If you have an opportunity of saying anything about the Judge coming down, I hope you will urge it as much as possible, for all here are agreed as to the necessity for the trial taking place on the spot.

I am sorry to say the Native selections in the Hua Block are not yet made, though the survey is now so far completed as to be ready for them to choose. They have had some difficulty in dividing the £1000 and Horopapera went off to Ngatiruanui to fetch some woman in the midst of it. Nevertheless the selections would have been made ere this but for two reasons --- 1st, and chiefly because the weather has been so bad for the last fortnight that no work could possibly be a done, and secondly certain proceedings of Mr. Hulke have obstructed my dealings with Raniera to a very annoying degree. Mr. H. made a bargain with R. to buy 300 acres from him at 50/- = £750 in all, and he selected this land between the Hua pa and the Bell Block boundary --- the very pick of the Block, and the spot which Raniera himself had promised should have no Maori selections in it. R. gave an infinity of trouble both to Carrington and myself in the matter, but at last I told him that, do what he might, I never would consent to let Hulke have that land, nor indeed that it should be selected by any Maori. I told Hulke the same thing, explaining that the understanding always was that that land should not be selected by Natives. He was inclined to be rusty at first, and quoted the deed giving the Natives priority of selection over the whole block --- but however I opened his eyes on that point and I believe he had given up the idea of getting the piece he wanted, at all events I have heard nothing from or of him since. I believe I have spoiled his market with the Natives by telling them that he only went to them to get the pick of the land for half its value, and that even if I agreed to let Raniera have the 300 acres H. wanted (which I said I never would) I would not consent to his selling it for 50/- when it was worth £4 or £5. This opened their eyes, and I think they have done with Mister Hulke. I also told them that I was not sure that the Governor would give them grants to entitle them to sell --- but this raised such a storm that I thought it more prudent to hold my tongue on that subject. They quoted no end of things which both you and I had said at first, about their being able to sell land like the pakehas etc. --- and they also urged (what appeared to me a very powerful argument) That if they bought their land and paid for it the same as the whites, why should they not be equally free to sell it again. In short I fear that from the above reasons, and the effects of pakeha tampering, it would not now be safe to do more than oblige them to conduct any sale or leasing of their lands, through the medium of my office. This they would very gladly submit to, but I am certain that grants only giving the present generation a life interest in the lands, would have a very mischievous effect, prospective as well as present.

Henry Puni has nearly finished his pa. It is small and not very strong --- still it is a pa and on a very conspicuous eminence too. He was assisted by all the Mangoraka and Waiongana Natives in building it. His party are as obstinate as ever.

I have finished my report on the district, and a terribly long affair it is --- but I could not help it. In giving a history of the land question I have made out as strong a case as I could in favor of poor, much abused FitzRoy, without actually making myself his apologist Halse is very much annoyed at this, for it goes dead against all his predjudices and indeed if it ever comes to be seen in N.P. I do not doubt that it will get me into a pretty hot kettle of water --- but I care not a straw for that --- my object was to say my say with-out fear, favor or malice; and I think I have done that at least. I have spoken very strongly in favor of the Assessors. By the bye I hope you will get something done immediately for these men --- they have had no pay for eight months. The report was ready for last overland mail, but I missed the post by accident.

The great meeting at Ngatiruanui is over, but I have no authentic intelligence of the result. Matena and Thompson Rauparaha were there with several other Southern Chiefs W. Kingi also went down. I refused to go, although they sent me a very pressing invitation, but I sent te Ngahuru to report the proceedings. He has not yet returned, but will be here in a day or two --- I have had one letter in which he says there was nothing straight at the meeting --- the speeches were all watero, pukana, spears and guns, raruraru noa iho, and not a chief to direct the proceedings. They have stuffed old Parenga so that he has been seized with a serious illness, and they are carrying him home. I believe it is pleurisy that has attacked him.

Ihaia and Tamati have written me a letter urging me to buy their land on the new terms. I sent them an answer accepting the offer, because I concluded from their making it that those who had opposed the sale last year had now changed their minds --- and that if they would assure me of that fact, and point out the boundaries, I would immediately take steps to complete the bargain. Will you give me your advice on this point, as to whether you think a payment such as was made for Waiongana would be a useful experiment. Ihaia admitted to me the other day (what I never heard before) that the land at te Mamaku is not his, but he claims it on account of a kanga of Hikaka's which he paid for some time ago, when you lived here.

In writing about Hulke I forgot to mention that the Superintendent was extremely anxious to have him punished for tampering with the Natives, and I fully agreed with His Honor, but could not see how to accomplish it, especially as Hulke himself had always told the Natives that they must get me to consent to his having the land --- in short it was but an offer, not an agreement to purchase, and no writing had passed at all. Mr. Richmond examined the Land Purchase Ordinance, and he also declared that an action would not lie under it against Hulke. His Honor seemed very much disappointed, but it could not be helped. For my part I feel convinced that the Ordinance only contemplates lands in the possession of Natives, and not yet alienated by them. I intended to have sent an official report on this case, but as Mr. H. seems to have desisted from his proceedings I do not now think it necessary.

Halse had a land sale of town sections on Saturday, lowest price £8, highest £30. Total proceeds £519.

I will now bid you good night for the present, hoping to have time to fill another sheet or two for your edification tomorrow.

Part of:
Inward letters - George Sisson Cooper, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0227 (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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