Object #1023690 from MS-Papers-0032-0013

20 pages written 22 Mar 1861 by Sir Donald McLean in Auckland Region to Sir Thomas Robert Gore Browne

From: Secretary, Native Department - War in Taranaki and Waikato and King Movement, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0013 (26 digitised items). Includes lists of Maori killed at Mahoetahi 6 November 1860 and includes letters signed by Maori such as Tawhiao but penned in McLean's hand or by other government officials.

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

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English (ATL)

Native Secretary's Office, Auckland
, March 22, 1861.


Sir,

I have the honor to lay before Your Excellency the following report of my visit to the Natives engaged in hostilities at Waitara.

1. Upon my arrival on Monday last the 18th. inst., I wrote to William Thompson informing him that I had been deputed by Your Excellency to have an interview with him; and that so soon as he hoisted a flag of truce I would confer with him.

2. During the whole of

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English (ATL)

that day, firing was kept up with spirit, the casualties on the side of Her Majeety's forces being two killed and six wounded. Nothing further is known of the result on the enemy's, side beyond their admission of one man being wounded.

3. Early on the morning to the 19th. inst. flags of truce were hoisted by the enemy, and I received a roply from William Thompson appointing Te Waionaha as the place of meeting, whither I proceeded; accompanied by Messrs. Drummond Hay, Parris, and Charon, of the Native Department together with the friendly chief who went down with me in the ''Victoria'' from Auckland.

4. I found a party of about one hundred natives (principally Waikatos, with a few from other tribes) who gave us a cordial welcome. After a short silence, William Thompson

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rose, expressed his pleasure at seeing me, and then recapitulated his original proposal made thro' Drummond Hay to the Major General. He confines himself solely to the Waitara question as originating the present hostilities. With reference to the steps taken by the Government he stated, that, if at the commencement of the disturbance a conference of this kind had taken place, matters would have been more clear; and that if some impartial and decided course had been adopted by the Government, he should not have sought, out a remedy himself. That what had been done did not appear to meet the difficulty, inasmuch as the Natives did not fully comprehend the views, nor were they generally satisfied with the proceedings of the Government.

5. I replied to the effect that

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it was good that he should desire peace; that the Governor would be glad to hear what he had to say on the subject, if a lasting peae was really his object. I asked whether in the event of the question being referred by the Governor to the Imperial Government, as previously suggested by himself, he William Thompson, and the chiefs associated with him, would abide by the decision of the Secretary of State.

6. I also explained to him the views and feelings of the Government as regards the unity of the two races; and assured hi, that, whatever might be said to the contrary by some Europeans, it was the aim and the earnest desire of the majority of Her Majesty's English subjects, as well in this colony as at home, to preserve them as a people, and promote their welfare.

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7. I pointed out to him how very desirable it was that every question calculated to interrupt the harmony of the two races inhabiting the same Island should be fully and frankly considered on both sides, and some remedy applied for their settlement. That it was not the intention of the Government to disregard the rights of the chiefs but that they by the course pursued by them had trampled upon the rights of the weaker parties among themselves. That the object of the Government was to extend impartial justice to all alike. That neither Wiremu Kingi, nor any other party who could substantiate a just claim to the land at Waitara had been precluded from doing so; that, on the contrary, he had been freely invited to prefer his claim. This he had only done by

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English (ATL)

asserting the right of might over the land within certain boundaries, without reference to the claims of other tribes which they were precluded by him from exercising.

8. I also requested him to confine his observations to the more important matters at issue and to unfold frankly the reasons why his tribes, the Ngatihaua and Waikato, had taken up arms against the Government, and asked him whether he was prepared to represent fully in writing any grievances he had to complain of in order that they might receive due consideration by the Governor, with a view to they devising of some means for their removal.

9. He replied that the occupation of Waitara was the sole cause, in the present instance, of their taking up arms; though he was not prepared

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to say what might originate any future disturbance, or where another cause might arise; that he knew where the wind blew from today; but he could not say whence it would come tomorrow, that today it blew from Waitara, at another time evil might arise in another quarter, in which case he would feel bound to interfere.

10. He charged the Government with allowing themselves to be led into this quarrel by one individual, (Te Teira) without taking any steps to arrive at a proper conclusion on the question; that no rule had been laid down to meet such cases as the present; and that the title to land was not sufficiently investigated. That the Natives were a foolish and ignorant people, which made it necessary that the Governor and the Europeans, who were endowed with superior wisdom, should enquire into and adjust the

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quarrels arising between the two races. That if the lands had been apportioned individually as is the case under the English mode of tenure, quarrels of this kind would not arise, but that as their mode of inheriting land was different from ours, they could not as yet appreciate our system.

11. I told him it was quite true that the mode in which they held their land was surrounded with difficulties, which, however, could be overcome if they, instead of trampling upon and quarrelling, about each other's rights would agree to a fair subdivision of their property by which each tribe would enjoy its own lands. That all that is required to meet this difficulty is that each tribe should cordially unite with the Government to arrange and decide upon some plan that could be mutually agreed to.

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That the Governor was equally anxious with himself that such a plan should be carried out.

12. During the course of the Conference I was particularly anxious that William Thompson should agree to a reference, in which both sides should be fairly represented, to the Secretary of state, or to the Governor at Auckland, and promised that I would accompany him and any other chief who might wish to go. I told him that the Governor had shewn his confidence in him by sending me to see him, and that if he was willing to reciprocate that confidence, I would be answerable for hie safe conduct. He admitted that the proposal was fair; but was dissuaded from coming by water by some of his followers, who reminded him of the seizure of Te Rauparaha and Pomare, who had held themselves comparatively

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aloof from the questions agitating those times, while he, as having taken an active part in the Maori King movement, might be considered more guilty than they were. They had, however, no objection to his meeting the Governor at some place in the vicinity of Auckland, where the question might be freely discussed.

13. Epiha of Waikato asked some questions which were not very clear as to the mode of reference to the Secretary of State; and I explained to him the course pursued by Europeans in cases of arbitration, which rendered it necessary that both sides should be fairly represented, and that they should bind themselves to abide by the decision of the umpire.

14. Epiha stated that the land at Waitara was the cause of the quarrel; that the king movement was not mixed up with it. That such being

English (ATL)

Native Secretary's Office, Auckland
, March 22, 1861.


Sir,

I have the honor to lay before Your Excellency the following report of my visit to the Natives engaged in hostilities at Waitara.

1. Upon my arrival on Monday last the 18th. inst., I wrote to William Thompson informing him that I had been deputed by Your Excellency to have an interview with him; and that so soon as he hoisted a flag of truce I would confer with him.

2. During the whole of that day, firing was kept up with spirit, the casualties on the side of Her Majeety's forces being two killed and six wounded. Nothing further is known of the result on the enemy's, side beyond their admission of one man being wounded.

3. Early on the morning to the 19th. inst. flags of truce were hoisted by the enemy, and I received a roply from William Thompson appointing Te Waionaha as the place of meeting, whither I proceeded; accompanied by Messrs. Drummond Hay, Parris, and Charon, of the Native Department together with the friendly chief who went down with me in the ''Victoria'' from Auckland.

4. I found a party of about one hundred natives (principally Waikatos, with a few from other tribes) who gave us a cordial welcome. After a short silence, William Thompson rose, expressed his pleasure at seeing me, and then recapitulated his original proposal made thro' Drummond Hay to the Major General. He confines himself solely to the Waitara question as originating the present hostilities. With reference to the steps taken by the Government he stated, that, if at the commencement of the disturbance a conference of this kind had taken place, matters would have been more clear; and that if some impartial and decided course had been adopted by the Government, he should not have sought, out a remedy himself. That what had been done did not appear to meet the difficulty, inasmuch as the Natives did not fully comprehend the views, nor were they generally satisfied with the proceedings of the Government.

5. I replied to the effect that it was good that he should desire peace; that the Governor would be glad to hear what he had to say on the subject, if a lasting peae was really his object. I asked whether in the event of the question being referred by the Governor to the Imperial Government, as previously suggested by himself, he William Thompson, and the chiefs associated with him, would abide by the decision of the Secretary of State.

6. I also explained to him the views and feelings of the Government as regards the unity of the two races; and assured hi, that, whatever might be said to the contrary by some Europeans, it was the aim and the earnest desire of the majority of Her Majesty's English subjects, as well in this colony as at home, to preserve them as a people, and promote their welfare.

7. I pointed out to him how very desirable it was that every question calculated to interrupt the harmony of the two races inhabiting the same Island should be fully and frankly considered on both sides, and some remedy applied for their settlement. That it was not the intention of the Government to disregard the rights of the chiefs but that they by the course pursued by them had trampled upon the rights of the weaker parties among themselves. That the object of the Government was to extend impartial justice to all alike. That neither Wiremu Kingi, nor any other party who could substantiate a just claim to the land at Waitara had been precluded from doing so; that, on the contrary, he had been freely invited to prefer his claim. This he had only done by asserting the right of might over the land within certain boundaries, without reference to the claims of other tribes which they were precluded by him from exercising.

8. I also requested him to confine his observations to the more important matters at issue and to unfold frankly the reasons why his tribes, the Ngatihaua and Waikato, had taken up arms against the Government, and asked him whether he was prepared to represent fully in writing any grievances he had to complain of in order that they might receive due consideration by the Governor, with a view to they devising of some means for their removal.

9. He replied that the occupation of Waitara was the sole cause, in the present instance, of their taking up arms; though he was not prepared to say what might originate any future disturbance, or where another cause might arise; that he knew where the wind blew from today; but he could not say whence it would come tomorrow, that today it blew from Waitara, at another time evil might arise in another quarter, in which case he would feel bound to interfere.

10. He charged the Government with allowing themselves to be led into this quarrel by one individual, (Te Teira) without taking any steps to arrive at a proper conclusion on the question; that no rule had been laid down to meet such cases as the present; and that the title to land was not sufficiently investigated. That the Natives were a foolish and ignorant people, which made it necessary that the Governor and the Europeans, who were endowed with superior wisdom, should enquire into and adjust the quarrels arising between the two races. That if the lands had been apportioned individually as is the case under the English mode of tenure, quarrels of this kind would not arise, but that as their mode of inheriting land was different from ours, they could not as yet appreciate our system.

11. I told him it was quite true that the mode in which they held their land was surrounded with difficulties, which, however, could be overcome if they, instead of trampling upon and quarrelling, about each other's rights would agree to a fair subdivision of their property by which each tribe would enjoy its own lands. That all that is required to meet this difficulty is that each tribe should cordially unite with the Government to arrange and decide upon some plan that could be mutually agreed to. That the Governor was equally anxious with himself that such a plan should be carried out.

12. During the course of the Conference I was particularly anxious that William Thompson should agree to a reference, in which both sides should be fairly represented, to the Secretary of state, or to the Governor at Auckland, and promised that I would accompany him and any other chief who might wish to go. I told him that the Governor had shewn his confidence in him by sending me to see him, and that if he was willing to reciprocate that confidence, I would be answerable for hie safe conduct. He admitted that the proposal was fair; but was dissuaded from coming by water by some of his followers, who reminded him of the seizure of Te Rauparaha and Pomare, who had held themselves comparatively aloof from the questions agitating those times, while he, as having taken an active part in the Maori King movement, might be considered more guilty than they were. They had, however, no objection to his meeting the Governor at some place in the vicinity of Auckland, where the question might be freely discussed.

13. Epiha of Waikato asked some questions which were not very clear as to the mode of reference to the Secretary of State; and I explained to him the course pursued by Europeans in cases of arbitration, which rendered it necessary that both sides should be fairly represented, and that they should bind themselves to abide by the decision of the umpire.

14. Epiha stated that the land at Waitara was the cause of the quarrel; that the king movement was not mixed up with it. That such being the case, the two questions should be considered apart. Waitara first, and the King movement afterwards. That his Interference arose from the decision come to long before, that no more land should be alienated by the Maories.

15. He was replied to by Rihari who, while admitting that the land might be considered a cause of quarrel, urged that they should at once put down the Maori King movement, restore the plunder taken by them during the war, and give up the murderers of the unarmed settlers.

16. The concessions mentioned by Rihari were objected to by Tapihana, who denied that the murders were other than casualties of war, and intimated his readiness to prolong the fighting if the Government insisted upon the suppression of the Maori King movement.

17. I reminded Tapihana that by interfering in a land claim with which he was not concerned, he had run headlong into trouble, and increased the difficulties of a question which if left to the parties most interested in it, would have been settled long ago.

18. When bidding Thompson Goodbye, I expressed a wish to have a further interview with him, which he neither declined nor assented to. His last words to me were to be considerate to the Ngatiawa.

19. On Wednesday morning at half past six William Thompson and the whole of the Waikatos left Waitara, firing, in accordance with Native customs, a few shots over the graves of their dead as they retired.

20. I regret that I had not a further interview with this intelligent chief; but it appeared to me that he did not feel justified in committing himself to any more definite course, until he returned to his District to confer with the Waikato tribes, after which he would be better prepared to enter more fully into the questions which had been agitating the Native mind.

21. William Thompson requested that I would permit the chief who accompanied me from Auckland to visit them, to which I assented. Discussions were carried on with those chiefs at the various encampments during the night. Huirua, a relative of Tamati Wakas from the Bay of Islands stated that they could not regard him, as representing Ngapuhi, as their friend until the king movement was abandoned. Hohepa Tamaihengia of the Ngatitoa accused Waikato of interference with William King and other tribes, thereby prolonging and extending the dimensions of the war, and increasing dissension in the country. That each tribe involved in the present contest should treat for themselves separately, as he did not acknowledge the, general right of interference assumed by the Waikatos.

22. Tikaokao of the Ngatimaniapoto stated that they had asked for peace, and if it was not granted that the war should be carried elsewhere.

23. William Thompson remarked that he desired peace, and would sit still for a month or two to afford the Governor an opportunity to conclude peace, and if the opportunity was not availed of, that he should be prepared for further action.

24. On Thursday the 21st. I had a meeting with William King and his party at Pakana, a short distance from Huirangi. I was received with every demonstration of good will. Hapurona, the principal warrior of the party gave the usual welcome, which was responded to by all present. The expression of the countenances of the Natives present, (about 300) fully indicated an earnest desire for peace and the speakers recited several incantations which are never used except on very important occasions, when they repeat them to express the sincerity of their intentions, and their earnest desire to secure a permanent and lasting peace.

Finding that William King was empowered by the Waikatos (under whose protection he had placed himself) to make terms on his own account, I felt desirous to refer the question for Your Excellencys decision and informed Willaim King that I should return forthwith to Auckland to submit the whole state of the case and that no doubt the Governor would visit Taranaki in person to effect a final settlement of the questions pending between him and the Government.

I informed William King that hostitlities should cease for the present and that his people could have free access to their cultivations, peach groves and graves. I told him that during the truce the white flag should fly from his fortified places to prevent mistakes. That he should not retire to any great distance from Mataitawa as it was probable that the Governor would shortly arrive in the District. He promised to observe the truce religiously and expressed a hope that the Governor would not be hard with the Taranaki and Ngatiruanui tribes.

26. I enclose herewith copy of notes taken down at the meeting by Mr. Drummond Hay, together with correspondence with Major General Pratt from whom I have on this, as on previous occasions, received the most cordial assistance and co-operation.

27. I consider an admirable opportunity is now afforded of bringing the Taranaki war to an honorable termination. I feel assured that any further advance of military operations beyond the points occupied by the troops at Waitara would be attended with great loss on the part of the troops; while the Natives, secure in their mountain fastnesses, would not be sufferers to any appreciable extent. Moreover the Natives generally throughout the Island, are in a very uneasy state, ready at any moment to select the best points of attack against other settlements, most of which are in a very exposed and undefended state.

28. The winter months are setting in, when military operations cannot be carried on with success. Great care is also necessary to prevent the Natives from becoming exasperated, sulky, and revengeful, by aprolonged struggle at that point. If this unfortunately becomes a phase of the New Zealand war life and property will be more endangered by the acts of a few marauding individuals than if the whole race were to rise in bodies against the settlements. No military force that the Colony can expect to obtain will ever be able to protect life in the concealed and treacherous warfare which would be carried on under those circumstances.

29. If peace is made at Waitara, I do not include Taranaki and Ngatiruanui, it will enable your Excellency to have an honorable withdrawal of most of the troops from that District, in order that the other settlements may be placed in a better state of defence during the winter months; but I would respectfully submit for Your Excellencys consideration that a large force is required in the Island untillall the questions at issue between the races are definitely settled.

Hoping that Your Excellency may forgive my referring in this communication to matters which may not strictly appertain to my Department.


I have etc. Signed
Donald McLean.
Native Secretary. To: His Excellency Colonel T. Gore Browne
Governor of New Zealand

Part of:
Secretary, Native Department - War in Taranaki and Waikato and King Movement, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0013 (26 digitised items)
Series 7 Official papers, Reference Number Series 7 Official papers (3737 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)

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