April 19th. 1856.
My dear McLean,
I have received your letters from Auckland and Taranaki on my return to Town, and was I must confess not a little hurt at their contents. After such letters, official and private, as I have now lying before me; and having missed the steamers last trip, I feel that I have no mercy to look for on my arrival at Auckland, and shall accordingly expect none. All I can do will be to fill up my intervening time in making up accounts and getting everything into shipshape order so that no time shall be lost when at length I do reach head quarters. I shall hand in everything to the Head office in such time as, in my unassisted position, I best may --- and then if it so please His Excellency and yourself to dismiss me from the public service for disobedience of orders, and for working to the best of my poor ability and weak judgment to prevent a Native war at Ahuriri, to open 100,000 acres to the settlers, and to arrange the Porangahau question; if I say for taking these responsibilities on my shoulders and so missing the steamer I am to be relieved from all further trouble in Her Majesty's service, why I must only try to survive the blow and earn a livelihood by shepherding or otherwise as best I can.
And now I think I had better (as this letter will probably see you before I shall) give you some account of what I have been doing. My last letter from Wellington, informed
you that I had felt it my duty to come here for certain instructions from you and papers of boundaries etc. from the Natives, without which I did not feel it right to pay the £2,000, especially as I saw that Hapuku was daily growing more and more bouncible, and that all the Natives, on both sides, were ripe and ready for a tussle. Therefore I thought it might be more advisable to work upon a sure foundation and with caution even at the risk of losing time, than by a hasty precipitancy to risk a second Taranaki business. My reason for this was principally selfish, as I felt assured that a second Taranaki would be the ruin of me, and being dependent on my situation I preferred avoiding the risk. Well, this ill-starred voyage involved a loss of 5 weeks, a loss which once embarked, you will perhaps agree with me it was quite out of my power to prevent. I might have done wrong in undertaking it, very likely I did; but I thought at the time, and I think still, that I had no alternative. On my arrival at Ahuriri I found Park awaiting me to start him through the 40 mile bush; and I also found Hapuku determined to have a payment for Tawhara's land, and Moana, Tareha and Karaitiana equally determined to commence a war if such a payment were made. I therefore thought my best plan was to take Hapuku a tour through the District by himself to try the effect of public opinion upon him --- that is, to take him to see all the claimants to blocks undisputed
by the other side, who of course, being in expectation of a share of the £2,000, would not like to see it go away simply because Hapuku had made a point of honor of insisting on a payment of Tawhara's block. I accordingly went with Park and took up Hapuku at Wakatu; thence we rode via Te Aute to the Takapau, started Park, and returned by Waipukurau, Patangata etc. When I had got Hapuku alone after leaving Wakatu, I told him plainly that I would not make any payment on Tawhara's land upon any account whatever, to which he replied (as a matter of course) Very well, I might take the £2,000 away, and he would return the ship and turn off all the settlers --- who on the arrival of the money and ship had gone on part of the Ruataniwha. To this I made no demur, excepting as to returning the ship, and he sulked for three days. I did not observe any signs of the working of public opinion, as I expected, but have since heard that it had a considerable effect. He gradually got out of his sulks and we arrived at Wakatu on tolerably good terms. I then went to Waipureka to a meeting of the opposition, where a great deal was talked about war --- bloodshed --- throat cutting etc., all to be the result of a payment for Matapiro and Okawa (Tawhara's land). I promised that no payment should be made which satisfied them. After this +I tried to get the two sides to meet, and both parties consented; but Hapuku sent a message to Ngatiteupokoiri telling them that as they said they would always carry guns, he particularly requested they would not forget them this time,
and not to bring them "hemokai". This prevented the meeting and Ngati kahungunu (as Maonanui's and Tareha's people are now called) never assembled at all. Hapuku's party meantime came to Wakatu miserably armed with a few old Tower musquets, which I do not think would have gone off at all, and few of which had all their appurtenances complete, one wanting a lock, another a hammer, a third a ramrod, others screws, pans etc. I made out something between 60 and 70 stand of arms, of which perhaps 30 were in condition to shoot. The whole question was discussed from beginning to end at this meeting, and I plainly told them that I would stick to my text and make no payment for Tawhara's block on left bank of Ngaruroro. Of course a row was the result, but in the evening Hapuku and myself came to an understanding that the money was to be paid for Ruataniwha and right bank of Ngaruroro. So next day, I brought out the money; and in transcribing the boundaries Hapuku made a final effort to cheat me by giving wrong names, --- names, in fact, on the left bank. A tremendous row ensued and I went off with the money, but had only just reached the river, when I was followed by Ropata and Â½ dozen others who told me they had had a row with Hapuku and that I must come back and pay the money. I went back and had another row, the Natives insisting upon the £2,000 being paid for two blocks (Nos. 3 & 7), whilst I insisted upon dividing it over Nos. 2,3,5 & 7. We fought nearly a whole day over this, and I at last conceded the point, and paid the money for the South Ruataniwha, and Aorangi
Blocks, Nos. 3 & 7 in my report of 4 July 1855. Thus, I am sorry to tell you, your run and 3 or 4 others are left unpurchased for the present. This being done, and the deeds signed, I started for Porangahau. Here I must notice a part of one of your letters. You say "Why you have not rode up to Rorangahau is a mystery to me when a horse is at your disposal and the place only two days' ride from Ahuriri". Now the mystery is explained by the simple fact that until I did go there I never had the time to do so, unless when I was at Ahuriri last winter, when I certainly might have taken a few days out of my work there, and had I foreseen what has subsequently taken place, I should certainly have gone there then. But my intention always was to have taken Porangahau on my return overland to Wellington, and that intention was only changed when Mantell arrived with messages and letters from you urging me to hasten the accounts for the Assembly. I then came to Wellington by sea and sent up the accounts fortunately in time, and in such a state as to call forth the one solitary expression of approval and satisfaction which I have received since joining the N.L.P.D. Well, that explains the mystery as far as last winter is concerned, and as to my passing it this year, why that was because I came here by sea for a special purpose and on a hurried visit, and I purposely left Porangahau to wait till my Ahuriri work was done, having made arrangements and come to an understanding with the Porangahau people to that effect. So far as regards the delay.
When I at last got there, the first thing was row about the sales at Tautane and the Umuopua (Hori Niania's). Regarding these I told them that as money had been paid it must remain --- but that as the sellers were only secondary claimants, and none of the money having reached the principal ones, the best way would be for them to sell all the land from Pariwahu to Waimata, and inland including Hori's Block; and let the money which had been paid and squandered in Wellington remain as a compensation for all claims represented by those who had signed the deeds. To this they agreed. They demanded £5,000 for the North Block (Pelichet's survey) from Pariwahu to Porangahau. I told them £1400 was the sum named by you, but seeing that they had greatly extended the boundaries, making at least 100,000 acres, and that the reserves they wanted were very moderate, I said that probably you might get the Govr. to assent to £2,000, further than this I could not go. They kept me a week there altogether, at the end of which the lowest sum they would take was £3500. I told them I would report their offer but could not agree at all amongst themselves about the South Block, and as they were anxious to have it surveyed and their demands of reserves were so large. I wrote to Fitzgerald begging him to let Bushfield come down and do it, as many people were waiting to occupy the land and no satisfactory settlement could be arrived at with the Natives till it was surveyed. I don't think Bushfield will be sent. I directed St. Hill's man to clear off at once (he is on the
south side) but as his flock was lambing I gave him two months. Flyger arrived whilst I was there, with a flick. and put them on Canning's run (South side) I ordered him all at once and he refused to go, so I wrote to Fitzgerald begging him to enforce the law at once if he could get a Bench, which I do not think he can do. I have given Ormond and Collins notice that if their side is not bought they also must clear off without delay.
I shall not send any official letter or reports by this mail, as it will not reach Auckland long before I arrive there myself per steamer, with all the documents of every kind relating to my work in this Province.
I will now say adieu --- long as this letter is, I have yet a thousand things to say which must wait until I see you again which will be by the Zingari's next trip.
Meanwhile I remain,
G. S. Cooper.
P.S. I saw your brother at Ahuriri. He did not seem much to like the place. Gollan is employing McLachlan on his run until your's is thrown open, but you will hear all that from himself.