Object #1025917 from MS-Papers-0032-0162

11 pages written 18 Aug 1868 by Reginald Newton Biggs in Poverty Bay to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - Reginald N Biggs, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0162 (43 digitised items). 39 letters written from Wanganui, Tangoio, Wairoa, Christchurch, Tuparoa, Turanganui, Poverty Bay. Includes map of Wanganui sections, 1857 [?]. Names on map - Crass [?], C G Doughty, Thomas Kettle, F Watts, Awamoho, Pehira, W Jowett & R N Biggs (sections 26 & 27) by the Wanganui River. Includes letters from Biggs to Deighton, and Biggs to Fraser.

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

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English (ATL)

Poverty Bay
18 Aug. 1868.


My dear Mr. McLean

Mr. Whitmore came back on Friday last having got what every body else but he calls a thrashing at any rate there were 5 killed and several wounded on our side, the dead heing left on the field a retreat during the night with as much haste as possible. Many such victories will cost us dearly. Poor Davis Canning and Carr are among the killed for though so different in many ways still they were similar to each other in bravery honesty and general gentlemanly feeling towards their friends all who knew them will miss them as friends as settlers and we can ill afford to lose two such men at a time when we are likely to be all called upon to do our best in the field for I much fear we shall have harder work on this coast than we have had before.

I wish you had not left Napier when the news of the escape of the prisoners reached there as assistance would have been sent us sooner and one day would have made all the difference for them. Westrup would never have got beaten. Whitmore abuses Poverty Bay and the whole of its population very much indeed no name is too bad for either Europeans or Natives You will hear him say before long that the Poverty Bay Volunteers deserted him when he was within sight of the enemy and he knew he should come up with him in a couple of days. This is not the case and indeed far from true. After going for some three or four days on the trail of the enemy (and from the information that could be got it was clear that he had crossed the Hungaroa river in canoes 10 days before we got to the river) being short of food sleeping in the snow and but little prospect of getting provisions Westrup asked Whitmore if he would give him some idea as to when and where the expedition would end as he considered it useless to go on without food over the river. He told him that his men were willing to go on for four six or even ten days but wanted some limit put to the time as then the people had been absent from their homes for nearly a month. Whitmore would give him no satisfactory answer at all but told him the people might go back if they wished it. After which he issued an order that they were to go back in which order he praised the men and officers much more than was necessary upon the Poverty Hay Vols. going back the Natives said they would not remain without their "pakehas" so back they went also. Previously to this I had been sent to Turanga to see about getting up supplies I must tell you that Paora Parau Hotene and a few of Paoras people remaindd with Whitmore when the rest asked to go back with the Vol's leave was given to them. The natives were picked men from Paratenes and Hirinis people and were promised two shillings a day pay and rations. Now Whitmore refuses to pay them although he is going to pay the Europeans and if one lot receive pay surely the others should I have protested against not paying them if we want them again they will naturally refuse not believing we shall keep to any promise made Paratenes men did some extra service under Gascoigne in scouting. I do trust Whitmore will not stick to his present determination for it will not do to turn our friends against us at the present time. Whitmore now talks of having the Poverty Bay Vols. disbanded I hope no such injustive will be done on Whitmores peport alone but that if the Government contemplate such a step a strict investigation of the whole affair will take place. Whitmore by his language to the Vols. and in their hearing about them has been enough to make any man mutiny, The natives are equally disgusted with him. I have written to you fully on this subject knowing that you will be anxious to see justice done and that the Poverty Bay Vols. and settlers will not be branded with the name of cowards upon the mere word of Colonel Whitmore.

Is there a likely-hood of our having any protection here in the shape of an organised force either native or European or both. Our population is decreasing rapidly from five to ten leaving by every vessel to Auckland. If the ex prisoners come down in the summer as the natives of the place expect we shall not be able to protect ourselves without assistance. I had hoped that Frasers men or at least a portion of them would have been left here but that Whitmore will not near of. He is determined if he can prevent it assistance shall not be rendered to Poverty Bay. A Maori force would be the cheapest say pay 2/- per diem 1/- per diem for rations a suit of clothes a red scarf without trousers for fighting a few Europeans might be taken on with the natives just enough to keep them together in the proportion of 30 Europeans to 100 natives. Are we going to have any land court here to settle that long pending question? Has the map of Wairoa block been sent up to Napier yet if not will you be good enough to see about it as it will never do to make a mess of that block through not having the map. Hamlin tells me it had not been sent up before he left Napier. As you know I was on my way to the Wairoa when these troublesome prisoners arrived and prevented me from seeing about the disputed boundary. I have now got so much work to do I fear I shall not be able to go to Napier before the sitting of Natives Land Court at Wairoa but will go down to latter place a few days before the sitting and get the matter settled.

Remember me kindly to Mrs. Hart and Miss McLean
Yours very truly
Reginald Newton Biggs.

Part of:
Inward letters - Reginald N Biggs, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0162 (43 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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