Object #1022140 from MS-Papers-0032-0271
4 pages written 11 Jan 1867 by Josiah Clifton Firth in Auckland Region to Sir Donald McLean
From: Inward letters - Surnames, Fer - Fit, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0271 (39 digitised items).
Correspondents:R Henry D Fergusson, Cambridge & Ohinemutu, 1875-1876, & undated (11 letters); Charles Ferris, Turanga, Te Wairoa & Gisborne, 1868-1875 (5 letters, 4 of which are addressed to S Locke); P Findlay, Taranaki & Wanganui, 1854-1876 (3 letters); William Finlayson, Wairaki & Napier, 1864-1868 (4 letters); J C Firth, Auckland, 1866-1875 (7 letters); Frederic Fisher, Wellington & Auckland, 1847-1848 (2 letters); Lucy Fisher, undated letter; Thomas H Fisher, Wellington, 1866 (1 letter); William Fisher, Napier, 1870 (2 letters); Fisken & Gibson, Ballarat, 1874 (2 letters); Fanny Fitzgerald, undated letter.
A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.
Jan 11, 1867
per Lord Ashley-
My dear McLean,
I read your letter with great pleasure - I shall always be ready to give you any little scraps of Native news I may pick up in the interior.
You will have heard from the papers the news of William Thompson's death. On the 20 dec. he wrote down to me asking me to go up and see him before he died - he said that unless I made great haste I should not see him alive, as he would be dead before the 28th. Dec. I arrived at Peria on the 26th. He was lying there under the shadow of the remains of the ancient forest, very faint and weary, and evidently at the point of death. The old men were very much affected by Thompson's condition. I was very anxious to get a declaration of Thompson's opinions on "peace" and "Christianity" and had taken over young Hamlin to interpret for me. However, he was so far gone, that it would have been cruel to have teased him. I therefore prepared to catch the few stray utterances he might make, more especially as the Natives could not then say that he was only saying the words I put into his mouth. I saw him again on the 27th. at the Waitoa river on my run, when he was even more feeble than on the evening previous. It seemed to me a cruel thing to be carrying the poor fellow about on a litter, first from Matamata to Maungatautari, then to Cambridge, next across the Maungakawa mountains on to Peria. The Natives said
it was no use his dying there, as there was no food, so they were intending to carry him to the banks of the Waihou to Pakaroa's place where food was abundant. Death however stoppe their march, for at 1/2 past 3 o'clock on the 27th. Decr. Wm. Thompson te Waharoa the greatest of the Maori chieftains died. He died on my run, at a place called Turanga Moana, a lake from which the great swamps rise which occupy so much of the land between the Thames and Piako. Before he died he left his commands upon Ti ori ori and the Natives to "Stand fast by the Government, to obey the law, and the law would put down the evil that was in the land." He shook hands with me and told me "to remain always on that land, for though he was dying, I must remain and it would be well." Just before he died he sent Te ori ori again to say to me the same words and to explai them, lest I should not have understood him.
I think he died a Christian. His second son "Tanner" has been appointed to succeed him under the name of "William Thompson". He seems a quiet decent youth of about 22 years old.
The old men are really sorry about Thompson's death, young men are I believe rather pleased than otherwise. I think there may possibly be an occasional fractional outbreak during the next 12 months - as a consequence of Thompson's deat. On the other hand I think the event is the greatest blow the Maori power - politically speaking - could have suffered. The greatest man amongst them has gone - and losing him, they have
lost the only man who could have bound the tottering fragments of the Maori power together for a little longer.
I have been much disappointed that Whatine had not arrived in Napier. He got to Taupo and reports that the Arawas stopped his progress without a pass from a European magistrate. Thompson's tangi may delay him a little but I expect he will reach Napier shortly.
I am, dear McLean,
J. C. Firth
Inward letters - Surnames, Fer - Fit, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0271 (39 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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