Letter from Lieut. Governor Eyre, to Donald McLean Esq.
dated 13th. August 1849.
Government House Wellington
13th. August 1849
My dear Sir,
Your letter of the 10th. reached me yesterday, and I beg to thank you for the promptitude with which you have attended to my request.
I do not, myself, apprehend any difficulty or disturbance, even at Taranaki, amongst the Puketapus, on account of "Kaikaroro"; but as the natives here seemed very anxious on the subject, and somewhat alarmed as to what might take place, I thought it right to take every precaution, by requesting you to go amongst them for a short time, with authority to satisfy their minds as to Kaikaroro's life not being in any real danger, owing to the peculiar circumstances attending his case; and which Europeans would be well aware must be taken into consideration, and carry much weight; but which natives, little acquainted with us, or our laws, may think would be disregarded. In fact, they are, as yet, too apt to look at the mere fact of
a person being in gaol; and to consider that alone amounting almost to condemnation and punishment, instead of regarding it as an ordeal, necessary for the good of society at large; which every person against whom any charge is made, or strong suspicion rests, must go through, before the case can be tried, and the accusation either substantiated or rebutted. Neither do they understand that we have necessarily only periodical days for bringing forward prisoners for trial; and that therefore the previous imprisonment must be longer or shorter, as the time when the person is lodged in gaol, is nearer or more distant from one of those periodical days for trying cases. However, you will be able to explain a good deal of this to them, and at the same time point out that though the law, which is just in principle, (and therefore unalterable in dealing with facts) may even condemn Kaikaroro. Yet the Government, upon whom rests the carrying out of the law, have power to pardon, if, upon a consideration of the circumstances which the law dealing only with facts and principles, could not take into account, should be of opinion that mercy can properly be extended. In Kaikaroro's case, no sentence of death will be carried out; and this knowledge ought to satisfy the natives for the present. For the eventual decision with regard to him, they must be content
to wait until after the trial. But one thing you should warn them against, and that is, not to pay any attention to, or believe any idle reports they hear on the subject; (for it is possible on the day of trial, if condemned, some native may at once start off on the bare knowledge of the decision of the Court, and spread a report that Kaikaroro is condemned and to be hanged.)
Having now mentioned all that was necessary, in regard to this case, I will now only add that if upon arrival amongst the Puketapus, you find that you are able to satisfy their anxiety, and to feel, as I believe will be the case, that no disturbance or difficulty need be apprehended, I should wish you to return at once to the Manawatu, to carry on the negotiations there; and more especially as Te Hapuku is in the neighbourhood, with whom it is most desirable, if possible, to establish a friendly understanding. The trial will come on upon the 1st. September; but news of the result and final decision in the case would not reach Taranaki probably for ten days after. I do not, however, think it will be necessary for you to remain all this time there; but should think that your spending two or three days among the natives, and explaining the real state of the case, and removing any erroneous
misconceptions which may be entertained, accomplish all that can be desired; and that as soon as this is done, you might at once return. You will, however, be, yourself, when up there, the best judge of the state of feeling amongst the natives; and the necessity, or otherwise, for remaining; bearing in mind, however, that I am really most anxious on many accounts, that your stay should not be longer than is absolutely necessary. In the meantime I will endeavour, as far as I can, to promote a friendly feeling amongst the Manawatu natives, towards the Government; and for this purpose, have written to invite all the principal Chiefs including Te Hapuka, to come and visit Wellington, where I have got some good horses ready for their reception; and will provide for others at the public expence, whilst on their visit, if they come, which I trust they will. I have invited the Otaki Chiefs also to accompany them. Probably they will not be able to come for some little time yet; and by that time you may be back, and come with them.
Let me hear from you at every opportunity, as to the state of feeling amongst the Taranaki natives; and as to the period of your return. I think, also, it would be desirable for you to write a few lines to the Governor-in-Chief, giving the same information as
I told him that you are going to Taranaki, on this Mission. The steamer will probably call at Taranaki within a few days; and if so, and you could get away, it would be a good opportunity to come down in her; as she will probably return direct to Wellington. Captain Stokes will, if you make official application through Captain King, at once give you a passage. You may say that I requested you to ask.
Believe me, my dear Sir,