Object #1025211 from MS-Papers-0032-0442

5 pages written 10 Apr 1869 by William Gilbert Mair in Opotiki to Sir Donald McLean in Napier City

From: Inward letters - William Gilbert Mair, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0442 (23 digitised items). 21 letters written from Opotiki, Tauranga, Whakatane, Luna (Ship), Alexandra, Te Awamutu, Rotorua & WellingtonIncludes piece-level inventory (excluding 1969 acquisitions)

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

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English (ATL)


April 10th 1869

My Dear Mr. McLean

You will of course heard ere this of the non success of my expedition in pursuit of Te Kooti after his raid on Whakatane. I believe that I have been blamed in several quarters for the failure of those operations and people who are personally interested in my removal from the District have gone so far as to say that the affair will be brought before the House at its next sitting. I know that you take some interest in the welfare of Opotiki as well as to other E. C. Settlements and for this reason it has occurred to me to give you a brief history of the affair. When I heard of Te Kooti's arrival at Waioeka I reported at once to the Govt. and asked your permission to organize an Expedition against him, but they replied that I must be in error for Te Kooti could not possibly be at Waioeka so confident were they that Colonel Whitmore had utterly crushed him at Ngatapa at the same time I was ordered to keep a very limited number of men on pay so that when Te Kooti commenced operations I had no force to oppose to him, upon hearing of the attack on the Ngatipukeko I had to send to Tirene and other places for men who as they arrived had to be served with guns, ammunition, rations etc. and yet my force reached Whakatane in less than twenty hours after the receipt of the news, but I was too late to save the European property or to help the Queenites for they had evacuated their pa an hour before our arrival, but we had the satisfaction of checking the pursuit and thus saving them from annihilation, with Te Kooti holding the pa with a Force of upwards of 300 men, I with about 60 Europeans and 70 natives could do nothing but hold my own till reinforcements which had been promised from Tauranga should arrive, in the mean time Te Kooti threatened me in front and tried at the same time to turn my position and cut off my communication with Opotiki when reinforcements did reach me Te Kooti had retired, here again was a difficulty for I could not move my force until I was certain of the direction taken by the enemy for fear he might double back from Opotiki which I had left almost defenceless, following the trail with a fewtroopers I found that Te Kooti was crossing the ranges to the Rangitaiki river, so with all speed I moved up my force now amounting to about 60 Europeans and 400 Natives in pursuit with nothing but native fare we followed and overtook Te Kooti at Tauaroa late in the evening of the fourth day after leaving Whakatane, now two courses were open to me, either to attempt the Pa by storm or by the slower but more certain process of siege, had the force been a European one I should in all probability have adopted the former course in spite of the compunction that any unseasoned leader must feel at risking a heavy loss of life, the latter plan however was more agreable to the Arawa, but they were very backward in assisting to carry it out, the pa though not a strong one is difficult to approach as there is no cover whatever within a radius of 600 yds. so that when I got my force into position, the enemy found no trouble in getting through one of the gaps during the night, in the morning they were not far off on the Ahikereru road, but the natives could not be induced to follow them though I offered them higher pay, but I could not accede to their demand for double pay and commission for all the chiefs, under these circumstances I was compelled to return to the Coast where I found the supplies which I ought to have got before leaving it, and thus the expedition ended.

With regard to Raku raku's defection I do not think that he left us quite voluntarily but he got into a fix, Te Kooti came down upon him and he was helpless. I was suspicious of him for two or three days before and wrote telling him to come down to the Coast I could not do more for if I had called out men and marched with a force to coerce him I should in all probability have come to grief over it.

I have urged very strongly the advisability of following up Te Kooti at once or we shall hear of another settlement being ravaged he is very short of ammunition and must do something to obtain it, his name alone inspires almost universal fear not unmixed with admiration along the Coast.

Morgan has been at Maraenui and wrote to me offering his services against the Hau Haus.

Native matters are very dark in these parts, I believe that all the Uriwera chiefs are implicated now.

I remain, My dear Sir, Yours very truly,
W. G. Mair.
D. McLean Esq. Napier

Part of:
Inward letters - William Gilbert Mair, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0442 (23 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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