January 17th. 1865.
My dear McLean,
Yours of yesterday is to hand. Thanks for it, and the news it contains. I will reply to what needs comment from me.
First, -about the Bush road. I am glad the road party has at last got to work. What do you mean when you say,-"Fitzgerald says the natives 'would not hear of the Manawatu line.'" As I understand it, that is the line we want to cut. Fitzgerald has certainly not done much work in the way of looking for, or marking out the best line of rail. I have been pretty well informed of his movements; and from what I have heard, he has just pushed along the road, and got his job over as quickly as possible. How about his pay? What he has done is by no means worth what we formerly agreed to pay him he was then to explore and mark the best line of road for that. He has done nothing of the kind. Pray see to this, and don't pay him well for doing nothing. Weber, I see, is gone to Puhaetae, to try and start a party of Maoris to work over the hill. I was, to-day, talking with my Manawatu Natives; and had I known of his intention
to go in there, I could have helped him to accomplish what he wants. He may get the men himself; but I doubt it. Ihakara told me to-day about 20 could be got. By the bye, you remember writing me not to mention the road subject to my natives, some time since. I had, however, then had considerable talk with them about it; and the result was they agreed in the end that the work was for their interest, as well as ours. It was lucky that I had talked with them about it. For when Fitzgerald was deserted by your friend Herewanui's men, my people took him up, and guided him over the hill. I think you are mistaken in that old Herewanu. He has nothing like the following the other side have; and is a troublesome old sweep.
About the exploration of the Rangitikei line. I should certainly not advise it this year; and as to wasting more money on Fitzgerald,- that would never do.
Have you written to Featherstone, asking him to start his end of the Bush road? If we are to push through this Autumn, it will only be by getting the Wellington side started as speedily as possible. I should think John Campbell would do very well as Ganger of the road party; especially if weber gets
This mail's news of the operations on the Coast, is not very satisfactory; if I except the engagement of Kopu and Ihaka's men. They seem to be in earnest, and to do well.
Colonel Lyon, at Opotiki, seems to follow the example of the Imperial Troops, and do as little bush work as possible.
I see what you say about the want of arms. Why not get some of the arms from Morgan's and Henare Potae's people; now that district is settled, and hand them over for use to Kopu? Surely it is never intended to leave all the arms you have issued, in the hands of the natives. If it is, depend upon it we shall rue it some day or other.
What about the Prisoners? The only thing I have seen about lately is that they brought about - or their case did - a Ministerial crisis in Otago; and lifted that drunken beast Brodie into the Otago Premiership. Seriously, it is a most difficult subject; and one that wants action taking in it. To shirk it, as this Government seems to do, is bad policy for the interests of the Colony.
Next in your letter to the Prisoner Question, comes that cursed "Huntress". What about those Auckland repairs? Surely the General Government
should equitably be called upon to pay them. The vessel, when she entered their service, was well found in everything, and in good order. The least they can do, and we are entitled to demand it, is, to return her in as good condition as she was lent to them. As to your being able to sell her, I don't expect you could. The fact is, she is a useless vessel; and the best thing for the Province would be to scuttle her in deep water.
About the Rams. £3 is very little for them. I gave double that all round for them in Auckland. I will let you know within the next fortnight whether I will let you have them at that price. They are very good sheep.
I suppose I shan't see you until I come down for the Race time holiday; and that won't be until the end of next month.
By the bye, I have been very busy with the natives of this neighbourhood, Porangahau, etc.,-explaining the Native Land Court's objects to them. I have succeeded in inducing them to agree to put all their lands through the Court; and their applications will go in shortly. Some, I am sending to Fenton by to-day's post. I want you please to
write officially to the Native Minister, asking him to appoint, and Gazette, Henare Matua, one of the Native Assessors, for the new Court. You know him, and can, I believe, conscientiously recommend him as one, if not the best man we have for such an office, in our part of the District. The expectation of henare being one of the Judges or Assessors, has very much influenced the people about here, in agreeing to the Court. I don't like writing to this Government, myself, for anything; as, not having any official connection with them, doing so, is to a certain extent asking a favour of them; and this, as you know, I wish to avoid. Please do what I ask, for me. When are we to have the Writs? Surely they can't put off the Elections much longer.
It is very late; so good night.