22nd. July 1863.
My dear Ormond,
I have yours to-day per mail.
With regard to the Stockade preparations the splitting of the slats by the Natives has been to some extent interfered with by the absence of several of the best hands of my party at the Pah Whakairo feast, but they will soon be back and I am stimulating them by promising a douceur if they finish the quantity I have ordered in ten days hence. I have got another party to go to work today in another part of the Bush, and they are to do a certain number by a given day under promise of a douceur likewise. Of course they have not the ghost of an idea that they are lending a hand to forge their own fetters. If once this were to transpire the Bush would be tapued most certainly, as Hapuku is supreme here when he takes the strong hand. Tomorrow I commence removing quietly to my side of the River with Hori's dray these slats already split and dressed, about 200 -anyway, about 14 inches wide and 4 inches thick, Being of green Matai these are very heavy, and 25 of them will be a load at this time of year. I shall deposit them in different spots so as not to excite suspicion by an accumulation of material at any one spot now that rumours about a Stockade are rife all over the District. Bad luck to peoples tongues, for very very few can be trusted. I always pretend to know
nothing when asked about a Stockade except that no doubt the Govt. will take measures to ensure the public safety if there should be real danger.
When the site has been fixed on by Major Whitmore, I propose making a general requisition on the settlers to furnish drays for the transport of Material, and I think I can calculate the following
My own - 3 teams
My brothers -1
Coopers - 1
Grants - 1
Newmans - 2
Gollans - 1
10 in all which should in a very few days place all the material in the ground. I suppose there will have to be 600 to 700 slats, besides sawn timber.
Without allowing myself I hope to be biassed by any motives of prospective advantage to myself, it appears to me that no place offers so many advantages as the top of my terraces just above the Blacksmith's shop. It commands a wide expanse of country, and affords easy access in all directions with few spots where an enemy could plant an ambuscade and no shelter for their marauding parties on our side of the River. The approach to the site I have in view
is completely commanded from the Plateau where I would propose the Stockade to be built. Then the material may be said to be already on thespot - no small consideration as your experience of carriages will satisfy you. The plan is to have the outer walls of the Matai Slats I am preparing - the inner linging of inch boards and the interval filled in with gravel. The latter article will be found on the spot itself, and the great labour and expense of carriage from even a short distance will be saved. I have no doubt abundant wayer will befound in the gravel within the precincts of the proposed stockade. Firewood can be brought at very little labour and expense. So much for the facility of erection, and the commanding nature of the site. Let us see whether the position offers a convenient refuge to a large population commence at Porangahau, from which the population in case of actual outbreak or invasion of the District would have to flock in. The following stations and families occur to me
Mr. Ball Tautane
Mr. Ashton St Hill
Messrs Wilkinson & Hamilton
T. Cowper Eparaima
Mr. Nairui Poraire
Dr. A. Makara
P. Dunn (?)
G. S. Cooper
Messrs. Inglis & Johnston
Messrs Tanner & Price
E. Collins Tumarua
D. Macdonald Tarawera
J. Collins Sn.
J. Collins Jr.
Limpus (?), Waiutuku
I have estimated the number of all these families at a total of not less than 320 souls., and to all of them a Stockade on the Waipukurau side of the Tukituki would be very accessible - to most of them more and to all of them as convenient as the North side of the Waipawa.
Weber's notion of placing the Stockade on the Ruataniwha side of Cooper's Run is baded on the idea that it is better in times of floods in the Rivers to take all the system streams which unite with the Tuki tuki at the Gorge in detail. With all due deference I submit the fact that 29 of the 36 families enumerated in my list would not have to cross the Tuki tuki at all (except one or two in the plains who
could cross before it was joined by the other Rivers) - two other families who could also reach Waipukerau by crossing above said junction, so that only 5 families with the whole list would actually have in the event of a rush, to cross the Tuki tuki after junction with its tributaries.
The Population in the neighbourhood of Waipawa does not include nearly so many as that in my list, and besides it is quite as easy for them to get to Waipukerau as for Waipukerau people to get to them, while on the other hand the great mass of the inhabitanss at near and beyond Waipukerau would have two additional Rivers to cross.
So far as convenience of access therefore goes, I think it can be shown that Waipukerau is preferable to any site within 5 miles of it. As to floods it is of course possible but not very probable that these would occur just at the time when the rush for shelter would have to be made.
In point of expense of erection and maintenance of the garrison I think Waipukarau could also be shewn to be entitled to the preference.
Then again to forming volunteer corps which must follow I fancy as soon as we are prepared to place armas in a place of safety, it will be evident to you that one can muster a much more numerous and efficient body at Waipukerau, than at any other one position in the whole district for drill and service if necessary. I feel sure we can raise 50 men if necessary.
I have gone into these particulars because the question as to site is one of first importance, and I am aware that certain parties are doing all they can from interested motives, or from what is meaner still, motives of supposed spite to me, to agitate in favour of other localities. I refrained from pressing either on the Provincial Govt. or in Major Whitmore the grounds why I thought Waipukerau the most suitable place, being confident that notwithstanding Weber's opinion the merits of the site would sufficiently recommend it. But I think it would be a false delicacy in me now after what I know and have heard as to the representation of other parties, to withhold my opinion and the arguments by which I support it.
There is one objection to the site I have recommended, according to the requisites named in the communication to me by the Govt. viz. the proximity of the Inn. But I submit that this is a consideration that ought not for a moment to weigh, as I have the power in my own hands of preventing the sale of spirits to the Garrison of the Stockade, and besides it is very easy to station a Policeman - and one or two would be necessary at any rate - to see that no liquor was sold without consent of the officer in command of any of the troops.
Excuse this long letter and if Maclean has time to scan it over you may just ask him to glance it through.
I trust you are keeping in mind to forward provisions-flour, sugar, tea etc. If you like to send me several tons of flour I can easily stow it away without suspicion in my premises, and there it would be ready in case of being wanted. I would recommend this to be done at once. If no necessity arises for using it, there will be no difficulty in disposing of it up country - but I have no doubt myself that it will be wanted.
I shall be down on Friday week and it may perhaps avert all suspicion if I were to order the flour myself (after receiving your authority so to do) and arranging with the Draymen for its transit.
Write me as often as you have a chance. I quite agree with you that the marked reticence of the Native is a bad. sign. I am glad to hear that Hapuku and his old foes are itching to acratch each others faces again.
I shall be curious to hear the exposition of the Native mind at the feast, but I trust them not.