Object #1026494 from MS-Papers-0032-0252

8 pages written 30 Oct 1860 by Rev James Duncan to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - James Duncan, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0252 (18 digitised items). 18 letters written from Manawatu & Hutt Valley, 1849-1867. Includes a draft letter from McLean to Duncan, Mar 1862.

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

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English (ATL)


30th. October 1860.

My dear Mr. McLean,

Having had my attention directed to Archdeacon Hadfield's reply to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, relative to the so-called ''Otaki petition'', and also to this letter of the 12th. inst. to the Editors of the Wellington Independent and Spectator, I feel called upon to make a few remarks in refutation of the charges made by him, against Ihakara and myself.

Mr. Hadfield says, ''In these papers (papers relative to Native affairs, presented to the House of Representatives) there are certain statements and insinuations affecting myself all of which rest only on the testimony of one man, Ihakara. This man was formerly employed by me as a teacher, and was removed many years ago for reasons immaterial to the present question. Since then, he has never lost an opportunity of endeavouring to thwart me''. In my letter to Mr. Turton, dated 24th. May, I mentioned that Ihakara's statements with reference to the Otaki petition were made without his consent. There was present also at the time, another Otaki chief, Te Moroati, who assented generally to the truth of what Ihakara said about the petition and the signatures. From my own personal knowledge I can assert as a fact, that the names of most of the native men residing in my immediate neighbourhood at Te Awa hou, Manawatu were affixed to the petition without their having heard it read, or been in any way consulted in the matter.

It is insinuated by Mr. Hadfield that Ihakara'd word is not worthy of credence. I have known Ihakara for at least 14 years, and have always had reason to regard him as a very straight-forward, truthful native. Indeed, if he is known for anything more than another, among the English Residents in the Manawatu Districts, it is for his truthfulness.

When I, along with several of the Settlers and natives of the Manawatu became aware of Mr. Hadfield's assertion that Ihakara as a teacher had been discharged by him, we all understood that reference was made to Ihakara's secession from the Church of England, and. Mr. Hadfield's ministerial charge, 1851, which secession was represented as a dismissal and we considered the assertion quite unfounded and the implied insinuation very unfair and unkind.

Mr. Hadfield in his letter of the 12th. inst. to the Wellington Independent, and Spectator says, ''Ihakara was employed by me as head teacher in the Manawatu district from about the middle of the year 1840, until some time in 1845 when I discharged him.'' In 1844 I commenced my missionary labours at Manawatu, and I then found Ihakara officiating as a teacher amongst his own people in connection with the Church of England - teaching the first class in the daily and sabbath school, and preaching as best he could on Sabbatls. I remained in the district until about April 1847, and during my residence there, in the closest intimacy with Ihakara, I never heard of, or knew any change in his official position.

On my return to Manawatu in the 1848, I again found Ihakara officiating as a teacher amongst his own people, in connection with the Church of England, teaching as before described; and he continued for years to officiate as such with the knowledge and sanction of the Rev. S. Williams then of Otaki; and also I have reason to believe of Archdeacon Hadfield himself. To shew what were my ideas and impressions in 1849, I shall here give an extracrt or two from my journal written at that time, and afterwards published in a Scottish periodical:- ''Octr. 3rd. 1849. Ihakara, having returned from Te Maire, called on me, when he related to me the substance of a conversation which Mr. Williams of Otaki had with him. Mr. Williams enjoined him to discharge henceforth all the duties of his office as a teacher himself, and not allow me, ''he pokanoa'', one without authority, to perform any ministerial acts among them''. ''Octr. 5th. 1849. Before I left the pas, Ihakara asked me if I was grieved because now prohibited from teaching the Maories. Said he 'I have been unable to sleep the last 2 nights thinking over the matter. I am quite perplexed between fear of the anger of Mr. Williams, and desire for your instructions. But this has occurred to me as likely to satisfy both parties. I will read the prayers on Sabbath, and on other days of the week, and you will explain the chapters read by the classes as usual.'' ''Oct. 23rd. 1849. Natives returned from Te Rewarewa, Ihakara called on me, his countenance was sad, the cause of which I readily conjectured. When at Te Rewarewa Mr. Williams who was aware that Ihakara had not fully complied with his injunctions - inasmuch as he still allowed me to preach to his people, sharply reproved him and told him that he, Ihakara, was acting not only without authority, but contrary to the instructions of Mr. Hadfield.'' Extracts to the same effect could be given from my journal written during the year 1850 and part 1851; but I forbear. During 14 years of residence at Manawatu I never heard (until 3 or 4 weeks ago) that Ihakara had at any time been discharged or degraded as a teacher, and from recent conversation with Mr. Robinson and Mr. T. Cook, who have resided even longer in the district, I know that they never heard, until within the last 3 or 4 weeks, of any such dismissal. Since Mr. Hadfield's assertion was published, I enquired of the Te awa thou natives as to its truth, and they assured me it was quite unfounded. Mr. Hadfield then has yet to prove that Ihakara as a teacher was discharged by him, in the manner implied in his language to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and to make public the cause or grounds of the alleged dismissal. The words used clearly imply that Ihakara had been discharged as a teacher for some immorality or misconduct, and had never afterwards been reinstated or recognised as a teacher, by Mr. Hadfield, or any minister acting for or along with him. The language, no doubt, conveyed such ideas, and consequently made false impressions. Even granting that 15 years ago, Ihiakara had been removed from being head teacher to a subordinate office, or dismissed as a subordinate teacher, Mr. Hadfield's statements respecting him cannot be regarded as true, when it can be proved by several settlers, and many matives of Manawatu that Ihakara was a recognised teacher or monitor in connection with the Church of England, and the Otaki Mission, and acted as such from 1848 or earlier until 1851, when for reasons creditable to himself, he, with others voluntarily withdrew from Mr. Hadfield's ministerial charge.

Mr. Hadfield further says, in his letter of the 12th. inst. ''I have been very recently informed by a native (a member of the late Conference at Kohimarama now at Rangitikei) that some time before the meeting took place at Otaki, when it was finally agreed to petition Her Majesty for the Governor's recall, Mr. Duncan had advised him and about thirty other natives - who had assembled in a house near Mr. Duncan's residence, and were strongly expressing their dissatisfaction with the Governor's proceedings at Taranaki to petition the Queen on the subject. It - this statement - has been confirmed to me by a Magistrate of the district.'' Taking the Spectator as Mr. Hadfield's interpreter, this language charges me with being the Originator of the Otaki petition for the recall of the Governor. The charge is so absurd as to require no denial to those who know my sentiments. It is true that along with Mr. Robinson, the Magistrate referred to, I did give the best advice I could to the natives who had assembled in a house near Te awa hou, near my residence; but the advice given was very different indeed from that which has been imputed to me. The natives who had come from Rangitikei and were on their way to Otaki to attend a meeting were excited, and did strongly express dissatisfaction with the Governor's proceedings at Taranaki. But why excited? Because they had been informed - from what quarter I need not say - that Wiremu Kingi had a claim to the land, said to have been purchased from Te Teira, and that the Governor had acted unjustly in taking the land in question, and rashly and wronglfully in commencing hostilities. I did all in my power to allay the excitement of those natives, and to convince them of the just and benevolent intentions of the British Government and of His Excellency the Governor towards the New Zealanders as a people. I alluded to certain circulars which the Governor had issued from Taranaki to the Native Chiefs, explaining his views, and his reasons for the course he was pursuing; expressed my own belief in His Excellency's honour and integrity; entreated the natives to believe his statements as given in those circulars, and to rest assured that the Governor being actuated by excellent principles, and, moreover, responsible to the Queen and Her Counsellors, would not knowingly act unjustly, or adopt such a course as he had done without due consideration.

While I strongly expressed my approval of the Governor's policy, I as strongly condemned Wiremu Kingi's proceedings. The natives were told that the offering armed resistance to the Government by Wi Kingi and his people, or by any other party, whenever they fancied themselves aggrieved was decidedly wrong, and could not be tolerated, that the English settlers did not think of such a thing, and would not be allowed if they did; that if they felt aggrieved they appealed to the law, and in some cases memorialized the Queen; and that even if Wiremu Kingi believed he had a right to the land in dispute he should not have taken up arms against the Government, but rather made application to the law for the adjustment of his claims. Such is the substance of what I said to the natives to whom Mr. Hadfield alludes. The purpose of my advice to them was, to remain quiet, and to believe in the Governor's just and friendly disposition and intentions towards all loyal and peaceable natives. As the natives addressed were not considered to be in any way aggrieved no advice was given to them by me, as to how to obtain redress.

I believe that Mr. Robinson, the Magistrate referred to, has misapprehended what I said to the natives, or that Mr. Hadfield has mistaken Mr. Robinson's account of the conversation. I cannot positively state what Mr. Robinson did or did not, say or suggest on that occasion, but I can and do now, most solemnly declare that I did not, for him, or on my own account advise those natives to petition the Queen on any subject whatever. I can safely challenge any European or native with whom I have conversed on the subject of the Taranaki war, to prove or to conscientiously affirm, that I ever expressed disapprobation of the Governor's policy with regard to it, or in any gave expression to sentiments calculated to lay me open to suspicion as having suggested or even approved of, the petition for the Governor's recall.

The substance of this letter has already appeared in the ''Wellington Independent'', and you are at liberty to make whatever use of it you may think proper.

I am, my dear Mr. McLean,
Yours very truly,
James Duncan.

Part of:
Inward letters - James Duncan, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0252 (18 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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