Object #1026524 from MS-Papers-0032-0323

4 pages written 6 Jul 1863 by James Hamlin in Wairoa

From: Inward letters - Surnames, Hamlin, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0323 (10 digitised items). Correspondents:H M Hamlin, Clive & Napier, 1868-1875 (5 letters); James Hamlin, Wairoa, 1859-1863 (4 letters); to Josiah Hamlin (from McLean), Napier, 1873, and undated copy (2 letters)

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

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English (ATL)

Wairoa
July 6th 1863


Dear Sir

I have not forgotten your request to have a line from me when I called at your office on my leaving Napier for this place, and it gives me pleasure to be able to write a few lines to you at this time.

I should have written before, but I was poorly for two or three weeks after my arrival here. I felt the cold severly. And when I became better the state of the natives, the sickness amongst them, The arrival of B.W. and other duties have left me little time for writing. The fever is still severe among them. Hitherto its ravages have been confined to the sea coast, and to those villages about a mile or two miles in land, but it has not proceeded further. It has not yet reached Te Waihirere, a residence about a mile and half inland of my house, Nuhaka, Tahaenui, Whakaki, inland and on the coast, Kurupakiaka's Pa, Raua, and Ngamotu, are at present the only places where its attacks have been felt which is rather remarkable, 12 died last week, 6 at Te Whakaki, and 6 round, about our house, and several others are not expected to recover. Total number of deaths by this fever in the above places this year is 51.

An opportunity has offered for the development of the native mind on the subject of "Makutu" or bewitchery in the case of Paraikete Wiremu Terama's son Rangimataeo's grandson; and I must confess I was somewhat surprised to find so universal and so firm a belief in this old superstition amongst the Wahakiuta. I could find but few even among the better disposed of them who did not believe that that youth met with his death by the bewitchery of his grandfather Mitipara; but those who wished to kill Mitipara for it were comparatively few. It shows that when the natives are left to themselves how soon the evil spirit returns to his house swept and garnished when the spirit of God has never really entered. The young man no doubt met with his death by the same kind of fever which has carried off so many. He seems to have caught it while at Turanga and it must have increased his malady to be brought from thence in the wet and cold in his weak state.

They first tried 'Wairakau' and because that did not succeed the person who gave it him to save his own credit spread the report that he was bewitched, and because Mitipara and he had had some words about the lease of a portion of land to europeans he fixed on him as the one who had bewitched him and the cause assigned their dispute about the land. This the young man it is said often repeated. This so exasperated the leading men of the Wahakiuta that they thought it was only just to kill Mitipara. The young man died Sunday Morning 21st June. Hearing various reports of a large assembly at Hikawai B.W. who was here, and myself went on the 23rd to ascertain their views, and feelings. On arriving there we found things quite as bad as they had been represented.

Both the B. myself and Tamihana (Native Deacon) addressed them pointing out the evil of the course they were persuing and asking them how they could reconcile bewitching with the statement that "A sparrow falleth not to the ground without your heavenly Father's permission. Also the very hairs of your head are numbered'' but we appeared to make no impression on them at the time. We left and returned to the Station. The Bishop having returned I went on Saturday 26th to see the natives again and after expostulating with them some time, they acknowledged that they had made use of bad expressions on Wednesday when B.W. and myself were present; but that now the darkness of their mind was gone, the angry heart had fled I might depend upon what they now said that their object was to take the corpse to the land respecting which they had had a dispute and burying it there. I told them the others looked upon such a step as an attempt to take the land from the rightfull owners and to distribute it to strangers. I went to inform the other party of what they had said who took the view of it. The sun being set I returned. Monday it rained Tuesday I went opposite Mitipara's party but could make no one hear to bring a cannoe to put me accross the river. I rode towards Hikawai and fell in with the other party coming down the river with the corpse in a separate cannoe. I crossed the river to them and met Tamihana. He had just returned from the other party with the news that if they brought the body there, they would fire on it. I asked them to remain where they were while I went to the other party. They did so. After much talk I returned with the following propositions to them.

1. That as the day was far spent they slept that night where they were.

2. That they see each other face to face and talk their matters over.

3. That an investigation be made to ascertain whether Mitipara had attempted any such thing in this case of which he was accused.

4. That the body be buried in the spot named by the Hekawai party and that those who with them owned the land come and live there with them as formerly and that all others return to their own places.

All these were assented to and peace was concluded on the following day July 1st. On Wednesday the usual ceremonies were gone through peace was made and Mitipara's party dispersed. The Hikawai party however did not fulfil their promise. They declined the investigation of Mitipara's case and also stated that they intended to lease the whole to the european - to which Mitipara's party formerly objected and do still object and if persisted in I fear it will lead to war at some future time.

The foundation of all this was, I was told, the following

1. The dispute about the lease of the land. Mitipara's party had none of the money.

2. Dreams.

The takuta wairakau who attended Paraikete not finding his patient getting better said he had a dream that a fish came at him and it became Mitipara. That he saw Mitipara writing on the ground. That he saw a shark coming at him with open mouth and that also became Mitipara the report was spread that Mitipara was the bewitcher in which the young man joined.

They have only now found out that Mitipara was not the bewitcher but a person at the Paritu near Turanga. This last is I believe the tenth person who has been accused of bewitching Paraikete.

The only remedy for this wicked superstition is the preaching the Gospel and education.

When I get better acquainted with the state of affairs here I shall have some hints to give respecting schools and schoolmasters

Wishing you every blessing I am,
Your Obedt. Servant
J. Hamlin

P.S. July 8th.

There is a report this morning that a letter has arrived here from Rewi of Ngatimaniapoto exciting all to war but I have not seen the letter a native from Waikaremoana is hourly expected to ascertain the views of the natives here on this subject. It is also stated that Rewi's party intended to attack either Auckland or Napier but had not decided which.

After the above was written I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6 July by this evening's post. J.H.

Part of:
Inward letters - Surnames, Hamlin, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0323 (10 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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