Object #1024799 from MS-Papers-0032-0227

12 pages written 22 May 1853 by George Sisson Cooper in Taranaki Region to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - George Sisson Cooper, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0227 (70 digitised items). 67 letters written from Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wellington. Contains correspondence between McLean and Cooper with regard to the purchase of Maori land in Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa; the correspondence also contains information and discussions about general Maori affairs in these areas, and about personal matters. Includes two letters from Mclean to Cooper, 24 Mar & 1 May 1854

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

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English (ATL)


May 22nd. 1853

My dear McLean,

I am afraid you will have thought that I was going altogether to give up writing to you, it is so long since the date of my last letter; but reports have been so various as to your whereabouts, and your movements latterly have been so will o the wisp like, that we have for some time been in a state of uncertainty that each day might not bring yourself amongst us in bodily presence that I was by no means sure that it might not be a case of maumau tuhituhi kau if I wrote at all - and then there has been so little stirring of any consequence that it was hardly worth while to write on the chance. Now however I have so much to say, of more or less consequence, that I suspect this fresh half quire of paper will be pretty considerably thumbed before I come to the end of my epistle.

I have by this post written you an official despatch about a number of accounts, which friend Knight sent me back some time ago for want of receipts for the loaves and baccy with which we regaled the Harribogines at our little rauvions at Whare pa last year. It will require but little explanation to show the absurdity of expecting that receipts should be signed on such occasions - and if they were (as I have taken eare should be the case since) it would be but a mere matter of form and the receipts in most cases signed not by the parties who really obtained the supplies, but by the policeman who was sent with the order. As I have explained in the official letter, these accounts have been kept back for some time in the hopes that I might have had the opportunity of explaining this personally to Sir George, or failing that, that you and I might have jointly reported on them - but now that neither of those opportunities seems likely to occur, I have thought the next best course would be to send them through you, as you may give on the spot such explanations as the Governor may require and so save the delay of sending back to me for any I might have overlooked in writing to the Civil Secretary. I hope you will not mind this trouble I have given you - I would not have done it could I have seen any other means of getting this troublesome question set at rest.

Katatore's wife is dead, and they have had some quarrels amongst themselves as to her place of burial. He is in great grief, and indeed attempted to shoot himself the day she died, but was prevented just in time. In the excess of his grief and vexation at disputes he cut down several of the posts of his pa, and declared openly that he would go over to Iharaira and Tamati Waka, both of whom immediately came and told me of it though I had heard it before. I wrote him a long letter full of condolence, informing him of the report which had been carried to me by the Marangai and congratulated him on his return to the Kahui etc., and wound up with a good deal of sound advice and expressions of love unbounded, telling him to write immediately that I might go down and see him. He has not yet answered the letter, but from all I hear from the Natives he received it favorably and I fully expect that after perhaps a little more coquetting he will come round, especially as those Natives who live in undisturbed districts are making no end of money by the increased price of provisions, whilst those about Mangoraka have little or nothing to sell having scarcely cultivated any land last year, each party fearing that the other would destroy their crops, which indeed did occur in one or two cases. Of course I make the most of this argument whenever I can and I think it will prove effectual in the end.

Ropiha and his party arrived a week ago. He seems well disposed as to the Kete iwi, or Pakaha boundary - but Piripi of Waikanae who is with him, is I hear against it, but has been silenced by some of his relations here, and I think in his case, Toheroa's last words have proved of great benefit to us. I am on the best of terms with all parties interested in this boundary question; Raniera never appeared much annoyed at the proceedings of the Wellington folks - he always said they were quite right in selling their claim to the land if they chose, but the land itself could only go by the voice of those living on it, of whom he claims to be chief, or at any rate spokesman. I had some talk with him a few days before the Wellington people arrived and we argued the point. I urged, as I always have done, the argument you suggested that it is useless to try to make two bites of a cherry (potato); but though he always argues the matter fully and cheerfully and in the best of tempers, he still stuck to the point that the Pike pari (or inland) block should first be settled for, and then he would talk about the seaward part. I hear now however that Ropiha has already been at him, and has told him that it was useless to hold out; and although he was firm at first they say he afterwards wavered and at last promised to consider the matter and give an answer on the return of Ropiha's party from Waitara, when we shall probably have a meeting on the subject. Poharama is still favorable, but a terrible deal of jealousy exists and I fearHone Ropiha has not been very straightforward in his proceedings, he seems to be looked upon with suspicion by all parties. I think if the present party of visitors had a few more men of influence amongst them, or another party of chiefs were to arrive from Wellington, the question might be carried without much difficulty; and of this I am very sure that if there were any reasonable prospect of the speedy purchase of a block of really available land, it would go far to smooth matters at the forthcoming election. On the whole therefore I think our prospects are decidedly beginning to look up; but the thing I most dread is that Ropiha and party may be tampered with at Waitara for W. K. is as obstinate and sulky as ever.

You may perhaps have heard by this time of a murder at Kawhia - a daughter of old Eruera of Moturoa, who had been a slave wife of Te Pakaru's eldest son, had, on his death, passed, after the ritenga Maori to his younger brother as concubine. She was guilty of repeated acts of unfaithfulness, and he in a moment of jealousy, smashed her head with a firestick, not intending, they say, to kill her outright. She fell however "completely defunct, most excessively dead", and great is the indignation of her relatives, Messrs. Po and Compy. They had a meeting here, but of course could do nothing, but petition the Govr. to have the murdered (Poihipi) hung. Newton Politely invites them to a committee at Kawhia, but they, looking with dread to the chance of a pressing invitation to remain and scrape spuds, politely decline and so the matter is likely to end - but I think this affair following so soon after their late fright, will have a beneficial effect on the land question, as they seem by no means easy in their minds and look with evident fear to everything said or done north of Meau.

But all these anticipations of "beneficial effect on the land question" etc. etc, are of little avail, so long as we are kept without the sinews of war, mote than one chance has been allowed to slip since my arrival here, in the short space of one year, for the want of nothing but "tin", and so long as we are kept in our present penniless and therefore powerless condition, it must continue the same. I have written again and again, officially as well as privately, till I am sick of it, but without effect, the last letter I received was dated I think in Decr, or Janr. and said the £500 applied for and authorized in August would be sent "by first opportunity". The Victoria was in port at the time about to sail immediately north about for Wellington and numbers of vessels have been here since, but no appearance of the much required "stumpy". It is no use drawing bills, for there is not sufficient cash to be had in the place, and so matters remain at present.

Petty thefts have lately become very common in this neighbourhood, the delinquents being principally Ngatiruanui men, of whom great numbers have been employed this year as labourers by the settlers (at 2/6 per day, by the bye). Four or five cases have been brought home, with the particulars of which I will not trouble you here. The first was let off with a fine - value of goods 5/- x 4 = £1 paid into the Court at once. Afterwards three were imprisoned, one (Ngapuho) for six months and two (Ngatiruanui) for one month but Mr. Newland thought as they were Natives he needn't lock the door, and they thought as the door was unlocked they needn't stay in gaol, so they walked out one fine night and hooked it over the wall. We instituted a diligent search for them but without effect, and on ascertaining that they were not in the settlement, I gave up the point, not thinking it worth while to follow them. The conduct of the Assessors has been most admirable in all these cases, and Ths. Williams is distinguished above all the rest for activity, tact and influence in tracing thefts and bringing the thieves to justice. We have always admitted two or three of the Assessors to assist at the trials and to address the Natives after sentence had been determined upon, which they have always done in the most efficient and creditable manner. So useful have they been that Flight and I have prepared an address explanatory of the proceedings in civil and criminal cases which I am translating into Maori, with an appendix containing some of the simpler provisions of the laws affecting Magistrates' Courts and especially those relating to cases in which Maoris are likely to be mixed up. When this is done we shall send it up for approval (probably by next post) when I should like you to look over them and let me know what is your opinion. I also intend to write a long letter about the Native Assessors recommending certain promotions to be made and vacancies to be filled etc. but I have no time for that by this mail. When I do so I will write you a private letter explaining in full my reasons for each recommendation, that you may be able to back them when referred to (as you of course will be) by the Chief.

I think these are all the Native subjects I have at present to write about, and now for a word, before concluding, touching politics. Halse has sent you a paper containing an address to the Electors in which he pledges himself to resign his present office in case he is returned. I fear it is a rash step and he has taken it against my recommendation, but his position under Govt. was made use of with great success as a "cry" against him by the radical party, and I do think that his success depended upon the pledge. He is not even now certain, though nearly so, unless Wicksteed (who never had a chance) should resign, which H.'s address gives him an excellent opportunity of doing gracefully, in which case I fear all W.'s voters would march over to C. Brown and Halse lose the day. Certainly H.'s address has secured him several waverers already and if Wicky holds out he is pretty secure. Could we but get a good slice of land it would render matters pretty safe, as strange and unjust as it may appear my/up-popularity (to which I must confess, little as I deserve it) has a powerful influence against Halse, for they say "Them Government nobs are all alike", and I think that unpopularity would be in a great degree removed if I had a few "dirty acres" to give them. I am afraid our Councillors, both Provincial and General, will be a queer lot. Cutfield declares he won't go to the General, though he wouldn't mind the local, and nothing can induce Willy King (out and out the best representative for the General Assembly) to stand, though his election would be certain. In fact I fear we shall not find a single gentleman, or even a tolerably educated man, to go to the Representative Assembly, and where the Governor is to find a Legislative Councillor, I know not, for I don't think there is a man in the settlement qualified who would go. If Sir G. Grey were here he might possibly induce W. King to go, but I know no one else of sufficient capabilities. The Provincial Council will be a horrid lot of odious radical tagrag and bobtail.

Abraham writes to Halse (privately) that Sir G. Grey has promised to instruct me to purchase his Waitara sections for him. I hope not, for I am certain he will give him 30/- to 40/- an acre, and that will ruin the Govt. price ake, ake, ake.

We are all uncertain as to the Governor's movements --- three weeks ago a schooner passed which we all fancied to be the Pandora taking him to Wellington and we are most anxiously awaiting the next O.M. for intelligence. When the last mail left Auckland he was there.

Write me a long letter like a good fellow, full of gossip, news and above all, advice. This place is most awfully dull, and ill natured and nasty beyond description. I have got quite to hate it and wish I could be moved to Auckland or Nelson. But I must not grumble, it will be time to look for a move in five years time.

Believe me, Dear McLean,
Ever faithfully yours,
G. S. Cooper.

Part of:
Inward letters - George Sisson Cooper, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0227 (70 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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