Reminiscences of An Old Colonist, The

Reminiscences of An Old Colonist.

– By Thomas Bevan, sen., –
Of Manakau, Wellington.

Otaki: OTAKI MAIL, Mill Road, Otaki, Wellington, N.Z.  1907.

Photo –
Mr Thos. Bevan, senr., of Manakau, Author of these Reminiscences.

The Reminiscences of An Old Colonist.


It was in the month of October, 1840, that my father’s family left Gravesend in the ship Lady Nugent, and it was on the 17th March of the following year that we landed in Port Nicholson.  Our troubles began on the voyage.  Our mother died, also our baby, a sister, a brother, and a cousin, and my father entered upon a colonial life with four little motherless children.  My parents had been induced to emigrate by the glowing accounts circulated in the Home Country of the bright future awaiting those who would throw in their lot with the New Zealand Company.  My father paid the Company ₤500 for the 500 acres of land which was to be our future home – only to find on arrival that all the land was in the possession of the Natives, and that there was no home for us but the immigration depôt.  My father, as soon as possible, got the Natives to make us a house in Native fashion of toetoe reeds and thatch.

My personal troubles began while we were still in immigrants’ quarters.  One dull grey winter afternoon, as my aunt was busy washing, with her pots on a blazing fire, I sat down on a log beside the fire to play.  The flames caught my clothes, and all in a blaze, I rushed into the house.  My aunt was coming out of the door with some clothes in her hands; she threw them over me and put the fire out, but not before I was badly burnt about the back.  No medical treatment was available, but my father did all he could for me, with little success.  I lay helpless and suffering week after week, and was not expected to live.  One day, a good old Maori come into the house to sell potatoes, and, seeing me, asked my father what was the matter with the boy.  My father explained, and showed him the burns.  The Maori asked if he might be allowed to cure me, and my father who had tried all kinds of treatment he could think of, and had begun to regard my case as


hopeless, gave his consent.  Next morning the Maori came with a basket of clay kneaded to the consistence of putty.  This he carefully applied to the injured parts.  The coolness of the moist clay, was grateful beyond description, and in about an hour I began to feel better.  Next morning he came and repeated the treatment, and so on daily for about a week, when I was able to leave my bed and get about.  Ever since I have cherished grateful memories of the good old Maori who certainly saved my life.

My father, who was a rope-maker, had brought out with him the necessary plant to carry on the business; and established a rope-walk at Te Aro in 1842.  The trouble with the Natives in 1844 cut off the supply of flax, so he transferred his rope-walk to Waikawa, leaving his children in Wellington.  The following year, feeling satisfied that the Native disturbances were over, he made arrangements for us to come to him in the Fidele, a little schooner of about twelve tons, which he had chartered to take a load of rope to Wellington and return with goods to Waikawa.  It was in May, 1845, that the captain of the schooner called at our house to take us four children on board.  We were put below in a small cabin, the air in which soon became stifling.  We sailed about 9 o’clock in the evening, and very soon after our departure the wind rose to a hurricane.  We were roused by the storm and the shouting of men, who closed down the cabin hatch.  We children had a terrible time below during the gale.  We could hear the great seas sweeping the deck, so that it was wonderful that the crew were not swept overboard.  We heard the hurrying feet above, shouts of desperation and horrible curses. Nearly suffocated, knocked about by the plunging of the little craft, which, rearing high on a great billow, would plunge as if descending to the depths the next moment, the thoughts of our discomfort were lost in our sense of imminent peril.  The skipper put back, and by midnight we were once more safe in the harbour of Wellington; but the impression the experience of those terrible hours made on my mind will never be effaced.  When we were put on shore the master told us that we will be leaving again in the morning, and that he would call for us at the house.  He did, but we were not to be found, so he had to leave without us.  From our hiding-place we watched the Fidele safely out of the harbour, and then returned to the house.  My father, when he met the vessel at Waikawa, was disappointed to find that we were not on board.  The following month he despatched a trustworthy Maori to guide us up the coast to our future home.  The name of our guide was Ropina.  He is still living, but he is now known by the name of Tamihana Whareakaka.  After much persuasion we were induced to entrust ourselves to his care and guidance.  At that time the only European settlement between Wellington and Otaki was the


military barracks at the frontier post, a short distance from Paremata, in the Porirua district, where Plimmerton now stands.  The military were stationed there to keep in check the disaffected Natives under Rangihaeata.  Save at this point our journey lay entirely through Native districts, occupied by several tribes.  The inhabitants lived in stockaded pas; they had been trained from childhood in the art of war, and their strongest instincts were associated with the love of war and revenge.

It was in June, 1845, that we four children, with our guide Ropina, started on our weary journey over the rough bush tracks from Wellington to Waikawa.  The first day we started to climb the long forest-clad range standing above Kaiwharawhara, overlooking Port Nicholson, and we had a great struggle to ascend the hill.  My younger brother, being too weak to walk, had to be carried most of the way in a blanket, slung from the shoulders, by Ropina.  We three children followed behind.  When our guide was tired he would put the child down and let him walk a little way.  All that day we followed the steep and rough trail over the ranges, through dense underbrush and tangled supple-jacks, over prostrate logs, across swamps and streams, by rugged hill-sides, and through darkening woods – and still before us marched our watchful guide, carrying my little brother, besides his burden of blankets and food for us all.  Ever, as he trotted along, he talked to us in his few words of broken English, cheering us on, comforting us as best he could, and calming our fears.  No stream was there to ford, no treacherous swamp or rough place to cross, but he assisted each one over in safety; and then, resuming his heavy burden, placed himself once more at our head.  Thus we fared on, we children bravely trying not to be afraid, and sustaining ourselves with the thought that we were going to our father.  Our first day’s journey brought us to Mr and Mrs Wall’s house in Takapau, called in those days the “Half-way House.”  Those two kind settlers were very kind to us, gave us food and shelter, and made up a bed for us in front of the fire-place.

Next day we continued our journey along a track through dense bush to Kenepuru, Porirua, the place known in after years as “The Ferry.”  It took us the whole day to travel this far.  When we arrived the soldiers were engaged in forming the Porirua road to Wellington.  Our guide took us to a rude accommodation house, kept by Mrs Jackson a Negro woman, and left us there, thinking that among people of our own race we would be well looked after.  We were given a corner of the whare in which to pass the night, but we suffered much discomfort and fear, for the place was filled with rough soldiers, drinking and quarrelling until nearly daylight.  We enquired anxiously for our friend Ropina, but he had gone to spend the night with his own people at a neighbouring


kainga.  The hours of darkness passed very slowly and wearily, and we were right glad when daylight returned, and with it the trusty Ropina.  This night, spent among our own countrymen, was the only occasion on the whole journey when we children were not treated with all kindness and respect.  The next day Ropina got Mr Jackson’s men to ferry us across to Paremata, where the barracks of the soldiers were situated.  The officer in command, on seeing us little folk and hearing that we were on our way through the hostile country to Waikawa, was greatly amazed, and at first would not allow us to proceed.  At length our guide, through the medium of the regimental interpreter, convinced him that we could pass through in safety, and we resumed our journey.  Leaving Paremata and its lone frontier post, we travelled along the beach to Taupo, the site of the present station of Plimmerton, where Mr Rhodes at that time kept a store just at the entrance of the bush.   Mr Rhodes, seeing us, asked where we were going, and we told him we were on the way to our father in Waikawa.  He seemed in doubt as to our safety, and questioned our guide, who assured him that there was no danger.  Most of the Natives who had taken up arms were relatives of his, and would not molest the children committed in his charge.  Mr Rhodes was reassured; he gave us food, and to our guide some tobacco.

We continued our journey northward through the Pukerua Bush ranges, looking down, as we climbed the long leading spur, upon the beautiful bay enclosed by forest-covered hills, its waters glistening in the rays of the sun.  Beneath us on the beach we saw the old-time kaingas – Hongoeka, Motuhara, and Turikawera – the homes in days of yore of the Ngatikahungunu, before the invasion of the fierce Ngatiawa, from far-away Taranaki.  We saw the waters gliding past Horopaki, the distant hill of Whitirea guarding the approach to Titahi, and the bare island of Mana that witnessed the migration of Kupe. Throughout the day we toiled through the dense bush and clambered up the rocky ridges, until, towards evening, we emerged from the forest and entered on the old summit of Pukerua Hill.  On the hill, where the range descends abruptly to the sea, and isolated on the island side by miles of tangled forest and rugged mountains, was one of the strongholds of the Ngatitoa.  This was the Waimapihi Pa, originally held by the Ngaturu hapu of the Ngatikahungunu, the former inhabitants of the Wellington district.  To this pa the refugees of the Muaupoko retreated after having being defeated by Te Rauparaha at Horowhenua, where the lake pas Waikiekie, Awamate and Te Ngamuiti fell to the prowess of the warlike Ngatitoa.  Waimapihi was afterwards taken by Te Rauparaha with great slaughter, and it is said that the victors remained on the spot for two months, living on the bodies of the slain and of the prisoners. But

Photos –
Ropina, the Maori guide to the four children who walked from Wellington to Waikawa in 1845.

The Late Mr Wm. Bevan, sen., (brother of Mr Thos. Bevan, sen.) one of the four children who walked from Wellington to Waikawa in 1845.


Nemesis was on their trail.  The war-party of Ngatikahungunu defeated the Ngatitoa and drove them back to Waikanae.  This land was re-occupied by Ngatitoa some years afterwards, and came into the possession of the Ngatikahutaiki hapu, whose representative, Te Pirihana, resided there till recently; his father, Tungia, was one of the chiefs of Ngatitoa when they took the pa.  Built on a hill-top, the fortified village contained many hundreds of inhabitants.  The outer stockade, consisting of huge tree-trunks side by side in the ground, was called the pekerangi.  The tops of these high posts were carved in hideous figures with protruding tongues and great glaring eyes set with the shining paua shells.  Inside this defence were two other lines of palisades with deep ditches between, and underground ways for the defenders to retreat through if driven back from the pekerangi.  There, in that lone mountain fort, dwelt a section of the Ngatitoa, anxious for their tribal mana, distrustful of the pakeha, looking down day after day upon the sea of Raukawa which lay beneath them, looking down upon the lone Kapiti, their refuge of former times, when they first migrated from their ancestral lands at Kawhia; noting, too, with jealous eyes the increasing numbers of the pale-faced pakeha – looking also anxiously to the eastward, where, a few miles away, their tribal comrades were fighting in defence of the mana of their race against the invaders from beyond the great ocean.

When we arrived at the pekerangi, the inhabitants, seeing our approach, poured out from the village and gazed with wonder at the novel sight of white children paying them a visit.  They cried aloud, “E tamariki pakeha!” (children of the white folk), and then from the women of the tribe arose their ancient cry of welcome, “Haere mai! haere mai! Naumai e hoa ma! Naumai!” which, being interpreted means “Welcome, welcome, O friends! Welcome!”  All the people at the pa came forth in wonder, and crowded round us to bid us welcome, but we children were greatly terrified, and would not at first consent to enter the gateway.  We mistook the noisy greeting of our hosts for a demonstration of hostility, and their fierce and savage appearance did not tend to reassure us.  My sister said, “If we go inside, we shall all be killed,” and all Ropina’s powers of persuasion were required to induce us at last to enter. Then we were led into the village by the women, who smiled upon us and patted us, trying to calm our fears.  Nevertheless, our hearts sank as we went by the great waharoa with its hideous carved faces glaring down on us as we passed.  But no harm befel us, and we gradually recovered confidence as we were conducted through lanes and between long rows of whares, over numerous low fences dividing the allotments of the several families, and so to our destination, a whare set specially apart for us.  Arrived there, all the people vied with


each other in anticipating our wants, and enough food was set before us to have satisfied a score of hungry men.  There, in that lone hill pa, inhabited by fierce and savage people, we passed the night in safety, for the mana of Paora, the chief of the Ngatiwehiwehi, was over us.

When morning came, food was brought, and when we were satisfied, Ropina took us up into the watch-tower of the pa, from whence we could see, far before us, the white surf dashing on the rocky coast, and the bright sea flashing in the rays of the morning sun.  Away to the north we saw the bold outline of Kapiti Island, the sigh left by the great ancestor Kupe of ancient times.  For what says the old waiata?

“Tu ke a Kapiti,
Tu ke Mana,
Tu ke Arapaora,
Ko nga tohu ena o taku tupuna a Kupe.”

Which may thus be interpreted: “Stand there Kapiti, Mana, and Arapaora, as signs of our ancestor Kupe.”  Then Ropina directed our attention to the long sandy beach which stretched before us far away until it was lost to view in the shimmering haze hanging low down over Waikanae.  The sunlight playing over the shining sands and rippling waves and virgin forests of that fair land made the scene very beautiful to look upon.  Ropina told us that our father’s home lay three days journey beyond the furthest visible point.  Our hearts sank at the prospect, and we said we should never be able to walk there, for the way was too long.  Thus far had we come in two days’ journey from Wellington.

Then we bade farewell to our hospitable people from the pa, and started once more on our way.  The Natives crowded to the edge of the bluff, and waved their flax cloaks, crying aloud their farewell: “Haere, haere, ra koutou ki to koutou kainga; haere ra e hika ma e.  Kia pai te haere!” (Go, go to your home. O children! Go in peace!)  And the mana of Ngatitoa was over us as we went. Clambering down the rocky cliffs, we wandered slowly along the rough road which lies beneath Paiterangi, till we came to a whare on the hill by the sea-side.  Here we found Scotch Jock’s Maori wife, a woman named Peti, who told us that Jock was away at Kaikoura whaling.  We were greatly pleased when she spoke to us in English, for the sound of our own language once again was welcome indeed.  Moreover the heart of the native woman was warmed to us, and she urged us to stay the night, but Ropina said we must go on.  “Then,” she said, “you must stop and have some food.”  Soon she had put before us potatoes, kumara, and fish; but she knew the love of pakeha for bread, and set about to supply a substitute for the deficiency.  Procuring a root of the rewarewa tree, she took some potatoes, grated them


on the natural grater, formed them into little cakes, and baked them on hot ashes.  These cakes were called pakèkè by the Natives.  For tea, she made an effusion of the leaves of the hutiwai (the common Native burr or piripiri: Acaena sanguisorbae), and we enjoyed a good meal before resuming our journey.  In parting she told us not to be afraid of Rangihaeta, for he was in the bush retreating to Poroutawhao, and would not fight any more, as the white people had taken Te Rauparaha prisoner, and if Rangihaeta committed any murder Te Rauparaha would be kept prisoner for life.  “You have got over the worst part of the road,” she said, “and you will soon be at your father’s place in Waikawa.”  This assurance gave us great joy, and, bidding her good-bye, we resumed, with renewed courage, our journey to Paekakariki. Clambering down by the rocky cliffs to the sea-beach, we wended our way slowly along the rough boulders and stony beach which lies beneath the great precipice of Te Paripari.  It was very difficult travelling, and we made but little progress.  Ropina, carrying my younger brother, had often to return to assist us over bad places, so that it was past noon when we reached the singular cave or hollow rock which is situated at the base of Te Paripari, the abrupt ending of the Paekakariki range.

There is a curious Maori tradition in connection with this cave, which is not generally known.  It relates to the journey of one Hau, a Tupuna or ancestor who travelled from Taranaki to Paekakariki in olden days in search of his wife Wairaka, who had been stolen from him by two men, Kiwi and Weka.  Hau proceeded down the coast, naming each river and point as he passed along, until he reached this great rock at the base of Te Paripari.  In those days the rock was not hollow, but quite solid, so that it barred all progress by the beach.  On reaching it, Hau heard his wife talking to her abductors on the further side.  Then he uttered a powerful karakia or incantation, by means of which he cleft a passage through the great rock whereby he passed safely to the other side.  Then, sending Wairaka out into the sea to gather shell-fish, he cast a spell over her and turned her into a rock.  We of this time may know the legend to be true, for the rock Wairaka still stands there in the sea, and the pierced rock of Te Paripari remains also as a token of the power of Hau.  The pakehas suppose is [it] to be merely a work of Nature; but the Maoris, who know better, call it still “Te Ana o Hau”- “The Cave of Hau.”

Leaving the cave, we continued our journey till we came to Paekakariki.  Here at that time there was another pa, situated near the site of the present railway station.  On arriving at the gateway, we saw gathered in the marae or court-yard a large number of Maoris.  One old man was making a speech – shouting, shaking his spear, and rushing about in so terrifying a manner that


we thought that this surely must be the end, and that we should all be killed.  We would not go in, though our guide and other Maoris tried hard to persuade us, so they brought food to the gateway, and here, as elsewhere, we were well treated.  Our guide Ropina told us the reason that the Natives were so disturbed was that they had received bad tidings from Horokiwi, where their tribal friends were being defeated by the pakeha.  The people of Rangihaeata were retreating up the Paekakariki range through the dense bush. After rest and refreshment here, we continued our journey, intending to reach Wainui, but night overtook us, and we were tired out. Our guide therefore collected a quantity of wood from the sea beach and made a fire, at which he roasted some potatoes. After our meal, we lay down by the fire and slept.

In the morning when we awoke we found that our blankets were covered with frost. Starting afresh, we reached the Wainui pa after about an hour’s walk.  A great number of Natives were living here at the time.  They made us very welcome, and as the day was Sunday they would not allow us to travel further.  They were very strict in their religious observances in those days – they would not even peel their potatoes on Sunday, all such work always being done on the previous day.

We continued our journey next morning to Waikanae, the Native women coming part of the way along the sea beach to assist in carrying us over the streams, and having seen us safely across they returned.  At that time Mr William Jenkins was keeping an accommodation house at the mouth of the Waikanae river, and on our arrival at his place he treated us with great kindness.  There was then at Waikanae a very large Maori pa with many hundreds of inhabitants, and the distinguished chief William King, afterwards renowned in the Taranaki wars, was living there.

In the morning Mr. Jenkins ferried us across the Waikanae river, and we continued our way to Otaki.  When about half-way there we came upon a party of whalers, encamped on the beach.  They had been chasing a whale earlier in the day.  Seeing us, they called, inviting us to come to their camp and share some food, but we were so alarmed at the rough appearance of the men that we begged Ropina not to go.  So we hastened on, along the sandy beach, until we reached the Otaki river.  Here, near the river mouth, was another large pa with hundreds of Maori inhabitants, and here, as elsewhere, we were met with loud cries of welcome, and received with every kindness.

We slept in the pa, and the next morning were ferried across the Otaki river by Mr. Harvey, who told us that we were about six miles only from our father’s place.  We next reached another very large pa, at Rangiuru where the Rev. W. Williams was living.  Here again the Native people gave us a hearty welcome, the

Mrs Wm. Clark, of Wellington (sister   Thos. Bevan, sen.,) one of the four children who walked from Wellington to Waikawa in 1845.

Mrs Greatbatch of Featherston (sister to Mr Bevan, sen.,) one of the four children who walked from Wellington to Waikawa in 1845.


inhabitants coming out in wonder, crowding round, and bringing us food.  After resting for about three hours we continued our journey, passing another large pa at the mouth of the Waitohi, where many natives were living.  Thus we fared along the sandy beach until we reached the Waikawa, our destination.  Our home was about half a mile from the pa at Ngatiwehiwehi, which was close to the mouth of the Waikawa river.  The Ngatiwehiwehi, then a powerful tribe who could put hundreds of fighting men in the field, are now represented by a small remnant.  Arriving at the pa a great cry of welcome arose from the Natives, who assembled to meet us, and then we were led by our guide to our father.  Never have I forgotten the joy or happiness of that meeting – what tales we had to tell of the wonderful journey, the care of Ropina, and the kindness of all the Natives.



In those days the district was a perfect terrestrial paradise.  Beautiful forests adorned the hills and plains, the woods extending to within a mile and a half of the sea-beach, while scattered along the coast were most beautiful lagoons.  Those were the days – the good old days – and never more can they return.  Our material comforts may have increased, but so have our pains and troubles, and many diseases then unknown, and the weather even has increased in severity.  Things seem since then to have somehow gone wrong, and it is a dull sort of a world compared with what it was then – the sun itself does not seem to shine so brightly now as then.  We cannot grow such crops now as the Natives grew in the old days – water-melons, peaches, crops, and fruits of all kinds have degenerated and everything seems flat, stale, and unprofitable.  Those good old times!  Before taxes, duties, or public works were invented!  Who cared then whether we owned a coat or approved-of shoes or stockings?  Men and women alike were bigger and stouter, and more self-reliant.  Money was of little use – in fact almost the only purpose to which the Maoris applied it was to make rings for their fingers, or, drilling a hole through the coin, hang it in their ears.

Remote though we were in those early days from the centres of population, we had our compensations.  There was a sense of freedom and independence difficult to realise by those who have never been under like conditions, and notwithstanding occasional hardship and privation, there was a certain gratification in being thrown upon one’s own resources.  The discipline was in a high degree beneficial to the pioneer colonists, and brought out their best qualities.  In later years we had the satisfaction of seeing the settlement take a fresh start, and become one of the most important districts in the colony.  All honour to the brave pioneers – the true fathers of New Zealand!  They deserve to be held in grateful remembrance by those who, coming later, found the way prepared for peaceful and profitable settlement.

Only those who saw the country in its virgin state can realise the prodigality of nature and the beauty that has forever passed away, leaving in the settled districts not a trace behind.  Mountains and plains alike were clothed with magnificent forest, abounding with bell-birds, pigeons, and tuis, and vocal at sunrise with their music, while the beautiful lakes swarmed with native


ducks.  The changes which have followed settlement in this island must have been seen to be credited.  Since 1855 the woods have gone, and with them the teeming and beautiful bird and insect life to which they gave shelter.  Not less wonderful is the change of climate.  Fifty years ago the summers were hotter and the winters milder – in fact, almost like the summers of the present time.  The Maoris were a diligent and industrial people, cultivating extensive crops all along the coast and trading the produce to the settlers, who depended almost entirely on this source of supply.  Scattered in almost all directions were groves of peach-trees, laden with choicest fruit.  At any part of the coast, during the fruit season, tons of the finest apples, peaches, and water-melons, could be obtained.  Around every populous Native settlement, might be seen the graceful indigenous growth of cabbage-trees, tree-ferns, and the plumed toi-grass; the pretty light bush mingled here and there with karaka trees, bringing out the lighter shades of green foliage.  What a contrast now!  The pas and kaingas have vanished – the little gardens of Eden are overgrown with rank weeds, and patches of country, then lovely beyond all description, are now the picture of waste and desolation.  The Natives of those days grubbed in wheat, which, when threshed, was carried on their backs to the nearest hand-mill.  I have seen the seed-wheat scattered on newly-cleared ground without any covering whatever.  The native birds would not touch it, and it produced heavy crops.  All kinds of vegetables thrived luxuriantly, and there was a total absence of blight of any kind.  For tea the Natives and the settlers also, when supplies ran short, used the native “tea-tree,” or manuka.

We settlers of the old days, and those who came after us, owe much to the Maori people of half a century ago.  We should never forget their good feeling; their temperate and friendly conduct towards a scattered and unprotected population of six thousand souls.  Nearly all the shops and stores were without shutters; scarcely a window was fastened at night; yet we slept in unbroken security.  The Natives might also any night have risen and plundered and even massacred, the inhabitants, but the confidence reposed in them was not abused.  Living, as I have done, a life-time among the Maori, I have never until recent years fastened doors or windows.  Now, if I hear a robbery, I say: “No Maori has done it,” and I am almost invariably right.  There were sturdy pioneers in the days of old, and bravely they held on to their holdings.



It was in 1843 that the trouble in the Hutt began, and Governor Grey in 1846 lost no time in visiting the neglected settlement.  He took prompt measures to remove the Native intruders from the district, even refusing to listen to the requests that they might, on abandoning their land, receive compensation for their crops.  He required a specific day to be named on which they should evacuate the valley.  His action in thus taking high ground, instead of approaching them as a suitor, had immediate effect, and an address signed by most of the influential chiefs, including Te Rauparaha, was transmitted to the Governor, asking for his protection and assistance.  Much of this, however, was for the purpose of gaining time, while some of the chiefs were determined to precipitate matters and to commit the rest by an act of open hostility.  With this view, at the beginning of March, 1846, a party passed the supports of the troops in the valley of the Hutt, murdered a number of settlers, and plundered sixteen houses, retiring before they could be attacked.   The country at the head of the valley was so inaccessible that the Governor hesitated to pursue the murderers, and adopted a more judicious course of establishing a post at Porirua, whereby he commanded their only line of communication with the coast, and thus cut of their retreat.  The plan was successful. The Natives had very scanty means of subsistence in the forest; and their rear being threatened they abandoned the Hutt district and fell back on Pahautanui, thus removing the field of operations from the neighbourhood of the settlements.  In the beginning of the following month a barbarous murder, was committed by certain Natives, under the protection of Rangihaeta, who not only refused to give them up, but declared the road between Wellington and the coast “tapu,” and otherwise acted in a hostile manner.  It became necessary to put a stop to outrages of this kind, and as a check troops were sent to occupy the point at Porirua.  Shut in as Wellington was by forest-covered mountains, it became evident that means must be immediately taken to open communications with the interior for purposes of defence as well as for the extension of settlement.  Within a few weeks Governor Grey had the work in hand – a work which should have been carried out long before, in which case the difficulty might never have arisen.

From this period there were signs of promise that the

Photo –
Mr Thos. Bevan, sen., talking to Ropina (the Maori guide to the four children who travelled from Wellington to Waikawa in 1845) just previous to his death.


difficulties with which we had been contending would pass away.  The roads were pushed forward, and the troops fortified their position in Porirua.  Rangihaeata, when he heard that Te Rauparaha had been taken prisoner in Porirua, abandoned his position in Pahautanui, and the fighting and occasional outrages ceased.  He retreated through the densely-wooded Horokiwi Valley, and came out from among the mountains at Paekakariki.  Thence, following the sea-beach, he visited every pa and settlement, where great tangis were held and speeches made.  Rangihaeata would walk to and fro in front of the tribe or among them, sometimes running or jumping, seldom standing still. After the speeches would follow the division of the feast.  One long shed was covered with blankets and clothes which would be presented to Rangi and his people, for they were in rags after their long wanderings in the bush.  When Rangihaeata arrived in Waikawa district he came with about three hundred Natives to the Ngatiwehiwehi pa, and our home and rope-walk being only half a mile away, we went to see his arrival.  He made speeches, saying that the quarrel was all over now, and that he was going back to settle down peacefully at Poroutawhao.  After this a large quantity of blankets and clothing were presented to him by the Ngatiwehiwehi.  After a stay of about two days, which was devoted to feasting and hospitality, he went on to Poroutawhao, where he settled quietly down, as he had said.  Though the Ngatiwehiwehi had supplied his people liberally with clothing, they had no tobacco, which their visitors greatly desired, and this circumstance led to an experience which I was not likely to forget.  About three weeks after Rangihaeata departed for Poroutawhao, the little schooner Fidele, which my father had chartered, arrived in the Waikanae river and discharged a cargo of goods, including a cask of tobacco.  In about two days she returned to Wellington, and a few days later, my father having gone to a neighbour on business, leaving us four children alone in the house, one Tohutohu, a chief of the Ngatiwehiwehi, took advantage of the opportunity.  He came to the house with forty Natives, and entered.  Seeing us seated on the coveted cask, he ordered us off, but we refused to move, whereupon he knocked us off and threatened to kill us, after which he took the cask of tobacco outside, where his company awaited him, and they carried their plunder to the pa.  We ran to our father, and told him what had happened, but when he came upon the scene his tobacco was safe in the pa.  He then appealed to Paora, the chief who had leased him the land for the rope-walk.   Paora was angry, and ran in hot haste to the aggressor. “Give up at once,” he said, “the cask of tobacco that you have taken by muru (robbery) from my pakeha.”   Tohutohu refused; Paora rushed to the house to


seize the tobacco, and a struggle began in front of the whole tribe.  Each endeavoured to get hold of the tobacco; then they closed, each striving to dash the other to the ground.  They fought like two bull-dogs until things looked so serious that the people intervened and separated them by force.  In the end Paora had to retire discomfited, vowing that he would recover the tobacco belonging to the pakeha.  Finding that other chiefs were about to join with Paora and compel restitution, Tohutohu and his followers despatched it by night as a gift to Rangihaeata at Poroutawhao.  Information soon reached Paora, and arming himself with his mere, he rushed furiously to the pa in the night.  Flourishing his weapon, he bounded backwards and forwards, giving vent to his indignation.  “It will be heard of all through the country!” he exclaimed. “We shall be called the robbers of the pakeha, and the shame will rest upon me.  My pakeha will go away taking his taonga (goods).”  Other chiefs followed his speeches, calling on Tohutohu to get the tobacco back, for it was stolen property, and if it were known to be in the possession of their friend Rangihaeata it would get him in to trouble again with the pakeha.  Tohutohu then replied, with much excitement and gesticulation in the Native fashion.  Flourishing his mere, he would run about ten steps and deliver a sentence; then, turning and running about the same distance in the opposite direction, he would give further vent to his wrath; running thus backwards and forwards till he had finished what he had to say.  Briefly, it was to the effect that he would never hear of such a thing as giving up the property.

Seeing that they were unable to influence Tohutohu and his people, Paora and his supporters determined to lay the matter before Rangihaeata himself.  So they set out for Poroutawhao, where, on arrival, they were made welcome.  The usual preliminaries of Maori etiquette being duly disposed of,  Paora entered on his disagreeable task, telling  Rangihaeata that the welcome gift he had accepted was stolen goods.  “That tobacco,” he said, “Tohutohu took by muru (robbery) from the pakeha.”  Rangihaeata replied, “I was not aware when I accepted the gift for myself and my tribe that Tohutohu had stolen the goods from your pakeha, or I would not have received it from him.  And now, O my friends, I will collect the remains of the tobacco, which has already been divided amongst my people, and return it to you.”  He then called the tribe together and told them that the tobacco must be returned to Paora, as it has been stolen from the pakeha.  The people replied that a good deal had already been consumed, but they would return all that was left.  A collection was at once made, and about thirty pounds in all had been gathered and laid at Paoras’ feet, and was faithfully returned by him to my father.  My


father, though he fully appreciated the service rendered by Paora, was by no means content with the result, more especially as the actual offender had no hand in such incomplete restitution as had been made.  There was at the time (1845) a police station in Waikanae; Major Durie was the local Magistrate, and Mr John Knocks interpreter.  Accordingly, my father sent my brother to the Magistrate to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Tohutohu.  This Major Durie refused, alleging that the attempt to enforce such a warrant might occasion a breach of the peace.  He advised my father to write to the Governor, Sir George Grey, and apply for compensation for his loss.  This advice was taken.  My father wrote, giving all particulars, and some months afterwards the Governor came in person to Waikawa, accompanied by Mr Donald McLean, well-known in later years to the Native Minister.  The result of the conference was that Tohutohu and his people agreed to pay for the stolen cask of tobacco.  Payment was not made, however, till about four months later, when my father accepted twenty bags of wheat in satisfaction for his claim.

It was in the year 1847 that the Rangitikei block was bought from the resident Natives by the Government, and the settlers from Wellington began to drive their stock to the land they had purchased on the north side of the Rangitikei River.  It was then that another serious drawback to the progress of settlement arose.  Rangihaeata, who had settled at Poroutawhao, on the sea-beach, set up a toll-gate, and when settlers came along with their stock he would stop them and demand toll – sometimes as much as ₤10.  If they refused to pay, they would have to stop all night on the beach.  The blackmail was carried on for several months unchecked, until it threatened to put a stop to the settlement in Rangitikei district.  Governor Grey was in a difficult position.  He desired, naturally, to keep up friendly relations with the chiefs, and was too prudent a man to make demands that he could not attempt to enforce without imperilling the lives of the country; and intolerable as the conduct of Rangihaeata was to the eye of Europeans, he was quite within his rights according to Maori ideas.  With characteristic astuteness, Sir Governor George Grey suggested that Rangihaeata should make a road from the sea-beach to Poroutawhao, promising that if he did so, the Government would assist him with money.  The chief assented, abolished the toll-gate, and constructed the road; and the Rangitikei settlers had no further trouble with that quarter.  Considerable irritation was sometimes caused by ill-judged interference with the settlers by, of at, the insistence of missionaries, some of whom were very jealous of the spread of settlement, which weakened their influence on the Maori people.



In 1856 Rangihaeata was attacked by measles in a very severe form.  Wishing to visit Otaki, ill as he was, he got his groom to drive him thither in his trap.  On reaching the Waikawa, and feeling very hot and feverish, he stopped his trap and plunged into the river.  He went on to Otaki, where he soon became much worse, and died in about two days.  The body was taken by Natives to Poroutawhao and buried beside his wife.  Hundreds of Natives assembled at the tangi; there was a great procession along the sea-beach, great feasting and much indulgence in strong drink at the grog shanties, which were then to be found along the coast.  To this dissipation and excess of this period of old residents trace the beginning of the falling-off in numbers to the West Coast tribes.  Deadly and destructive diseases, hitherto unknown among them, made their appearance, carrying off old and young.  But the Natives themselves failed to see the connection between the diseases by which they were afflicted, and the drunkenness and immorality to which those diseases were so largely due. Their fathers, they said,  worshipped the gods; and died of old age; the new religion of the pakeha had brought strange diseases and death with it.  Even now, this notion is widely prevalent, and there is a disposition to revert to the old ceremonies and superstitions.  Whatever benefits Christianity and civilians may have brought to the Maoris, the changes have in many points not been the way of improvement.  There is a tendency to separate themselves from the Churches, against which the missionaries often find themselves labouring in vain, and I find even now of educated Natives who consult the tohunga.

Sir George Grey’s first experience in settling the Natives to road-making succeeded so well that he made it a matter of policy, and engaged a number of the Ngatiwehiwehi at half-a-crown a day on the Wellington-Paekakariki road.  The tribe had no horses – in fact a horse was seldom seen in their district – and they had a great ambition to possess one.  So they formed a kind of company, set to work diligently on the road, had when they had earned enough money they went to Wellington and bought a mare, having agreed that each one of the joint proprietors was to have a foal.  The purchase was a very engrossing piece of business, but was completed at last to the satisfaction of all concerned.  But the incident brought trouble to one of the shareholders. Passing a

Photo –
Tamihana Te Rauparaha, only son of Te Rauparaha.


baker’s shop when he was hungry, and seeing no one in charge, he quietly entered, stole a loaf, and concealed it under his blanket.  But he had been seen, and had not gone far before being found himself in the hands of the police.  He was brought before the magistrate in due course, and sentenced to two or three weeks’ incarceration in the Wellington goal.  His companions, returning from Waikawa with their purchase, Whareherehere, (prison-house), in memory of the adventure.  The tribe could not make enough of its first horse, and led poor Whareherehere a hard life.

It was very laughable to see the Maoris learn to ride.  Our rope-walk was their favourite practice-ground, and I once saw the hill which overlooked it covered with noisy and excited spectators – men, women, and children.  They were holding a kind of race with the one mare to discover the best rider.  The first had not ridden far when they fell to the ground, amid cries of “Hurrah!  He is down – there he lies!”  With much shouting and laughing they caught the horse and another tried his skill.  Racing along the track he came in without mishap, and was at once surrounded by a crowd, hurrahing, and declaring him to be the best.  Then they crowded around the panting mare, which was almost ready to drop with fatigue, exclaiming, “What a beautiful animal she is!”

In those days the price of flour was ₤2 per hundredweight.  It was often difficult to obtain, sometimes it was not procurable at any price.  My father used to buy wheat and send it to Rangiuru, Otaki, to be ground.  There was only one mill in the district – an old-fashioned hand-mill belonging to Mr Taylor.  We used to send down two bushels at a time by a Maori.  The mill was so old and inefficient that it used to take the Maori and myself two days of heavy work to ground two bushels, and Mr Taylor used to retain half the meal as his fee for the use of the mill.  It was an unprofitable bargain for us, and even when we returned with half the meal we had no means of sifting it.  Sometimes we could get neither wheat nor flour, and then our fare was potatoes and pork three times a day.  For tea we use to get manuka (tea-tree) and dip it in the kettle, or, for a change, the hutiwai or piripiri (corrupted to “biddy-biddy” by the pakeha) and when tired of these we roasted maize as a substitute for coffee.  We would go to the bush and get some of the hard rough roots of the rewarewa (honeysuckle), and use them as graters for potatoes, from which we would make potato cakes (called pakeke by the Maori) as a substitute for bread.  No beef or mutton could be had in those days, and for very black sugar we paid a shilling per 1b.

There was at that time in Otaki a Roman Catholic missionary named Comte, who was greatly trusted and beloved by the Native people.  He took great interest in all their concerns, and never


interfered in Maori lands.  His chief object was the education and evangelisation of their children; but he did not neglect their material welfare, and did his best to engage them in profitable and useful occupations.  He introduced flour-mills, rope-walks, and bullock-drays, induced them to open stores and trade amongst themselves, and got them a schooner – The Elizabeth – to convey their produce to Wellington.  He toiled hard among the hundreds of people, and with great success, as the flourishing settlement of Pukekaraka, near Otaki, sufficiently proved; and when he departed the Natives lost a veritable “shining light.”  With that absence of self-reliance and resourse characteristic of the Maori who had come into contact with civilisation, they lost heart when he departed, and relapsed, until by degrees the signs of the good work he had done among them disappeared.

When I arrived at Waikawa in 1845, there was a settlement of Whalers living with Native women at Otaki according to Maori custom.  They all had small properties, given to them by the relatives of the female partners.  In the whaling season they used to cross over to Kapiti Island, and after it was over return to the mainland.  Their names were Hector McDonald, Harvey, James Cootes, Samuel Taylor, Ransfield, John Curley, Thomas Laughton, Hamilton, John Hammond, Robert Dury, Waistcoat (? Westcott), and J. Carpenter.  Mr Skipworth was a gentleman living at Rangiuru, and engaged in sheep-farming.  Four of his sons half caste-children (three daughters and a son) are still living.  Kipa te Whatanui is the eldest son, and Mrs Thos. Roach and Mrs Thos. Cootes are two of the daughters.  Their grandfather was the famous Ngatirauwaka chieftain, Te Whatanui.

When I lived in Wellington in 1842, the whole of the hills were covered with dense forest, which was cut down and burned by degrees, to make room for houses and gardens, as the settlers occupied their hill-side sections.  The houses were of very primitive character, consisting of titaii interlaced with kareao (supplejack), and then dabbed in clay.  In the vicinity were several fortified pas belonging to the Ngatiawa tribe, containing four or five hundred inhabitants.  Their principal chief was Te Puni (miscalled “E Puni” by the settlers), and their fighting chief was Wharepori.  If these Natives had been so disposed they could have risen and crushed the pakeha; but the relations between them was always of a friendly character.  Conscious of their inferiority in numbers, the settlers always maintained as effective a show of strength as possible.

I can remember the rejoicings in the year 1844, in which all the settlers took part, when Governor Fitzroy was re-called.  Bon-fires were lighted, and as the Governor stepped into the boat his effigy was burned, while the Wellington band played “The King of the


Cannibal Islands.”  This was the first brass band formed in Wellington, and the following are the names of the original bandsmen: Joseph Masters, John Webber, Henry Overend, Joe Grimaldi, Charlie Howe, Robert Durie, John Woods, Edward Bevan, George Bevan, William Dodds.

In 1842 a fire, which broke out in Lambton Quay, caused great loss of property.  It started on the premises of Mr Lloyd, baker, and spread to Claypoint (where the Stewart Dawson building now stands), destroying some thirty-five business houses, and resulting in a total damage estimated at ₤16,000.

In later years, when the Maori King movement spread through the North Island, the West Coast Natives came under its influence.  In 1860 the King flag was hoisted in Otaki, and all the Ngatiwehiwehi, save the old chief Paora, joined the King party.   Paora used his powers of persuasion to prevent his tribe from joining, but his efforts were in vain.  Most of the Ngatiawa at Waikanae, with Wi Tako, joined the Otaki Maoris at Pukekaraka, as well as some hundreds of Natives along the coast, Wi Tako, Heremaia, and Hape being the leading chiefs of the King party of Pukekaraka.  Heremaia wanting rigging for the flag-staff, came to me and gave me the order for all the necessary ropes.  These he had tarred, and when the staff was finished and rigged up it resembled the mast of a ship.  The Maoris placed a tattooed image clothed with a mat at the foot of the staff, and said it was their ancestor.  The King flag was hoisted daily, and guards patrolled round the staff day and night.  They appointed magistrates and policemen, issued summonses in the Kings name, and ignored all summonses issued under the Queens authority, saying that they belonging to the King.  They drilled their men like European troops, and posted guards at night at the Pukekaraka bridge and at the Waitohu.  A second large meeting-house was built, and I have seen about three hundred King Natives holding meetings at night.  They would get very much excited when they heard bad news from the districts where fighting was going on.  One day a letter came from the “King,” ordering them to take up arms against the settlers, and a great meeting was held to consider the subject.  I went to the meeting-house to hear and see what was done.

One of the chiefs rose and said: “The ship is on fire at Taranaki. Now let the eels of Otaki eat the fish of Otaki, and the eels of Taranaki eat the fish of Taranaki.”  Many spoke, counselling violence; but Wi Tako warned those assembled of the difficulties in which such a course would involve them.  The runanga (council), he said, was established to lay down laws for the good of the island, and he was opposed to further shedding of blood.  “Let those who want to fight,” he said, “go to the seat


of war.  I am faithful to the ‘kingdom’ till it dies, but will not countenance bloodshed nor ally myself with mad ‘Hauhau’ prophets.”  Heremaia said that so long as the military were kept away from the district there would be no disturbance; but that he looked with suspicion on the movements of the Governor and the confiscation of Native lands.  Hape said: “The Governor has set fire to the ferns of Taranaki, and the smoke will cover the whole island.”  “Let our warfare be of the lips only” Wi Tako replied. “If this be the case our path will be long and our days many. Let it be seen that this is our intention – we are not going to arise and fight.”  His counsel prevailed with the assembly, and the runanga decided that the people of the Otaki district should not rise.

In 1862 Sir George Grey received from certain Natives in Otaki an assurance of loyalty and information of a real or supposed plot on the part of some of the followers of the “King” to rise and destroy the Europeans in the district.  Without loss of time he visited Otaki in person, and sent a letter to Wi Tako at Pukekaraka to come to the Mission School with all his men, as he wished to hold a meeting there.  Wi Tako sent a letter in reply, to this effect: – “I cannot come to see you. You come to me and I will talk to you.”  Sir George Grey rejoined: – “I cannot come under the King’s flag; but I will meet you at Pukekaraka bridge.”  To this Wi Tako assented, and, accompanied by the “king” Natives, met the Governor at the bridge.  Sir George told them the outlines of the policy he wished to pursue – not to renew military operations, but to retain his old Maori friends and reduce the number of enemies.  He explained that they were only injuring themselves by carrying out the “king’s” orders, and he was sorry to see that the majority of the Otaki people appeared to have identified themselves with the disloyal proceedings of hoisting the flag of the so-called king.  Wi Tako answered: “Salutations to you, Governor Grey.  This our word to you, hearken: Waitara was the source of evil, not the king.  You go to Waikato and talk to him.  Go to the roots.  If the king is brought to naught by your plan, well and good – the branches will dry up.”  Heremaia said: “We will not give up the king or his flag. If the Governor attacks our king we shall be evil – and do not accuse us of murder.”  Sir George returned, recognising that he had made no impression; but the interview may have had some effect on his subsequent action; for he afterwards withdrew his troops from Taranaki and Auckland, and took measures to attack the king in his own country, a good deal to the surprise of the disaffected Natives.

Archdeacon (afterwards Bishop) Hadfield was impressed by the imminent danger of an open rupture at Otaki.  Hostile parties from the King Country were constantly coming and going, urging the local Natives to exterminate the settlers; Maori sentries were

Photo –
Te Ranghaeata (nephew of Te Rauparaha), a leading fighting Chief of the Ngatihuia.


nightly posted; and everywhere there was uneasiness, suspicion, and apprehension.  He called a meeting of all Maoris, friendly and disaffected, at the Mission School, and made a long speech to them.  He said: “It is said that some of you talk of rising and exterminating the pakeha.  Would you defile with human blood your Church and the soil where your fathers and ancestors are buried? Would you disgrace all your tribes for ever by committing murder in a sacred place?”  So great was his personal influence that all the leading men assented, and declared that no rising should take place in their district, but that anyone who wished to join the king’s fighting men should be at liberty to go.  This settled the matter, and there was no rising.  But for the Archdeacon’s wise and bold action, things might have turned out very differently – there would in all likelihood have been a massacre of settlers and a West Coast war.

After this meeting, many of the turbulent spirits who advocated the rising went to the king’s help at the seat of the war, and never returned.  One of these, Henare Taratoa, was a teacher at the Mission College, Otaki, who fell at the Gate Pa, Tauranga.  On his body was found a written order of the day for war, beginning with a prayer and ending with the words, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.”  Henare, who was highly educated in English, and had risen to the position of teacher, had many children under his care, and had done excellent work in the school and college.  These institutions, under the control of Archdeacon Hadfield, were then in a flourishing condition; many children were boarded in the school, and hundreds of Natives regularly attended the Church.  The Church bell rang at sunrise and sunset to call them to prayers, and I have seen the Church so full of Maoris that many had to sit around the porch outside, unable to gain admission.  The most promising of all the branches of this flourishing Mission was the boarding college for Maori children, where they were educated, clothed, and brought up in the Church; and a great mistake was made when it was abolished.  The Maoris had given six hundred acres for this charity school, and when they found that the mission had leased the land and that the children an longer benefitted by the proceeds they lost interest both in the school and the church, and ceased to send their children to the day school.  Consequently, they grew up in ignorance, and little better than heathens.  When Archdeacon Hadfield left Otaki the Maoris began to fall away from the Church, and ever since the College and Church have been going back.  The only way I can see to check the tendency is to re-establish the old institutions, and train up the children in Christian ordinances.  Otherwise, it will be impossible to bring the Maoris back or check their decay.  The older people have lost confidence both in the


Mission and the Church.  If the Otaki College were re-constructed and established as a centre of education for all the Maori children of the West Coast, the State might give valuable assistance in many ways.  Many of the West Coast Native children have now no opportunities whatever of education.  The college had many advantages – large grounds for garden and pasture where the children could be trained in tilling small plots of their own, and receiving unconsciously lessons of self-help and self-reliance.  No more eligible spot for such a purpose could be found in the Island, nor a more comfortable home for the Maori children.  The Archdeacon’s farm was carried on by Mr Woods and sons; he had the best shorthorn cattle and merino sheep on the coast; a flourishing dairy was one of the features of the farm, and the settlers used to go there for their supply of butter.



In the year 1864 the new “religion” of the disaffected Natives had taken a great hold on the Otaki district.  It was called “Hau,” and its disciples “Hauhau,” and it had been revealed to their prophets that they were the ten Lost Tribes of Israel.  They worshipped around a pole planted in the ground, chanting in an unknown tongue as they marched or danced in a circle, all fixing their eye on the apex of the pole where “the Jehovah spirit” was supposed to be sitting.  As the ring revolved the excitement of the devotees grew wilder till the movement became a furious race.  In their excitement, often foaming at the mouth, and yelping “Hau, hau, hau,” they were more suggestive of a pack of mad dogs than of human creatures.  Their own name for the sex was “Pai marire,” and these words were often repeated among much quite unintelligible gibberish.  This is a sample of one of their chanted incarnations or “prayers” :- “God the father (Hau), God the Son (hau, hau), God the Holy Ghost (hau, hau, hau) instruct us.  Attention!  Jehovah!  Stand at ease!  (hau).  Fall out!  (hau, hau, hau).  Big rivers, long rivers, big mountains and seas.  Attention!  (hau, hau, hau).”  This formula was repeated daily at sunrise and sunset, and from our house, a mile away, we could hear the horrid cries of the fanatics at their worship.

In connection with this superstition I had an adventure which almost cost me my life.  Hearing that an old Maori friend was lying ill at the pa, and that his death was daily expected, I road to the place, fastened up my horse, and went to the tent where my friend was lying.  Entering, I sat down by him; he took my hand and said, “I am very ill, I shall die.”  I asked him what remedy he was taking, and he replied that the Hauhau prophet had been treating him.  Pointing to a shed, some distance down the hillside, he said, “That is where the Prophet is living.”  As I turned and looked I saw the tohunga coming out of the shed, a red sash around his waist, feathers in his hair, and a Native spear in his hand.  He came slowly at first, blowing and puffing like a mad dog, talking gibberish, jumping, shouting, and flourishing his spear; then he rushed savagely towards the tent.  Hearing his cries, my friend said, “Run, run!  You are in danger, he does not like you here; it is against his law for pakehas to see me.”  I saw plainly enough the savage meant mischief, so I bade my friend a hasty good-bye, leaving him panting with weakness and excitement.  I


ran smartly to my horse, unhitched him and mounted, just escaping the spear the prophet threw after me.  I had seen that my friend was beyond human help, and was not surprised to learn two days afterwards that he was dead.

In 1852 my brother, George Bevan, kept an accommodation house at the mouth of the Waikawa River, and carried on the rope-making as well.  He did a large trade with the Maoris in flax and other produce, and had his own schooner, the William, trading between Wellington and the coast.  The master’s name was Thomas Cribb, and he had with him a Maori sailor named Moko.  There was in those days a good deal of trade also between Otaki and Wellington, and several small schooners conveyed goods and produce to and fro.  One of these, the Emma Jane, belonged to Hector MacDonald, and my father bought her for the Waikawa trade.  She had not been running long until she was wrecked in a heavy gale while lying off Kapiti.  Old settlers at Otaki often used to come to Waikawa and spend days at our accommodation-house, and there were many travellers who passed on foot along the coast in these days.  At that time the Ohau river ran into the Waikawa, making it a large river and convenient for sailing vessels.  At the river mouth, where there are now only sand-hills, there was a piece of beautiful flat land with a large lake, one of the most picturesque I have seen.  It abounded in fish, and was full of native ducks and other game.  Hundreds of Maoris found occupation in fishing and collecting pipi (a Native bivalve) on the sea-beach.  When the schooner William was seen crossing the bar, crowds of Maoris would assemble on the beach to see her come in, and to render assistance if required.  As soon as she entered the river they would call for the guide-rope, which the skipper would throw to them, and they would draw her up the river to our accommodation-house.  Next day they would all come over from the pa to see the new goods.

At that time the Ngatiwehiwehi and the Ngatitukorehu of Ohau were powerful hapus, and the people were very industrious.  We carried on a large trade with them, buying flax and other produce; keeping stores of various kinds of supplies and requirements.  It was a pleasure to see the beautiful crops they had under cultivation – the more remarkable as they tilled the soil with sharpened sticks, being unable to afford the implements of the pakeha.  All the flax was prepared by hand, the phormium leaves being scraped patiently, bit by bit, with mussel shells; yet, by this primitive method, working hard all day in the flax swamps, they would produce hundreds of tons of fibre.  One of their chief enjoyments was to sell produce.  Hundreds of baskets filled with potatoes or flax would be piled in long rows, and a smart man of business – his sole garment a red or blue blanket, a steelyard

Photos –
The Otaki Maori Church.

The interior of the Maori Church.


balance in his hand, and slate and pencil suspended between the folds of his robe – would attend to the checking as accurately and expeditiously as the most experienced tally-clerk.  The Natives had large numbers of horses and cattle running wild on their tribal lands.  The sea yielded fish in abundance.  They would go out in large fishing canoes, and return laden with hapuka and snapper.  Their farm and garden produce included honey, pumpkins, melons, marrows, cucumbers and other gourds, onions, wheat, maize; they grew choice varieties of fruits – plums, quinces, apples, cherries, grapes, peaches.  The mention of peaches brings back some pleasantest recollections of those good old times!

Every village had it’s little Church, and the Maori people were as attentive to their religious ordinances as they were diligent in their daily occupations.  Looking, as I sometimes do, on the decaying ruins of an old-time West Coast kainga, I find something very touching in the view.  Involuntarily my thoughts wander back to the happy, peaceful, industrious people, so numerous then, and now so few, and to the terrestrial paradise they inhabited sixty years ago.  Never can I pass these once-populous sites without deep emotion, and memories crowd upon me of my good Maori friends of old.  When I came to them first, I never saw a person suffering from any bodily complaint, and when they sustained injuries, their wounds healed with wonderful rapidity.

At Otaki, from about 1854 to 1862 Mr Eager and his sons carried on a store, doing an extensive trade with the Natives.  About 1856 Foley’s circus visited Wellington, and my brother arranged with Mr Foley to bring his company to Waikawa.  This was the first show of its kind that the Maoris had seen, and their excitement was intense.  Hundreds came in from all parts of the district, and for a time they seemed unable to think or talk of anything else.  “Pablo Fanque” in his tight-rope dancing specially took their fancy – particularly as regards the women, who seemed as if they would all fall in love with him.

It was on the night of the 23rd of January, 1855, that the dreadful earthquake occurred.  In our district it was preceded by a violent storm of rain, which fell in torrents, and the air was very hot and sulphurous.  Then came a roaring noise and a terrible shock, followed by many others. Mr and Mrs Kebbell and two other travellers on their way to Wellington were at our accommodation house at the time.  They had arrived just before the rain storm, and their horses had been put into the stable.  When the first shock came I was seated by a large double brick chimney, with a child on my knee.  I ran outside, and was thrown on my face, the child falling some distance ahead of me.  All in the room ran out of doors, and all were similarly thrown off their feet.  Mr and Mrs Kebbell were in the parlour, and were unable to get out,


as the door was jammed and would not open.  The parlour chimney came down into the room, and they had a very narrow escape.  We had to knock the door in before they could get out.  Mr Kebbell asked for a Bible, and began to read, but had not read far before another violent shake came.  We all fled from the house, leaving the open Bible on the table.  We were all in a terrible state of confusion, and could hear the cries of terrified animals and the horses neighing in the stable.  The kitchen chimney, near where I had been sitting, was shaken to the ground, and the room was full of bricks.  Next morning Mr and Mrs Kebbell returned to Manawatu to find what harm they had sustained.  They found that the flour-mill was levelled to the ground, and decided not to re-build it there, so they removed such of the machinery as was not destroyed, and re-erected it in Wellington.  We were so distracted that we could neither eat nor sleep.  In the morning we saw that the sea-waves had come up to the front of the house, leaving hundreds of fish stranded on the sand.  The hills were cracked in all directions, and our fine lake had disappeared forever.  All that remained of it were hundreds of eels, high and dry, where the beautiful expanse of water had been only a few hours before.



In the year 1856 I decided to start a rope-factory at Waikawa, where I leased a run from the Maoris, and there I established my rope-works and carried on sheep-farming as well.  I was soon enabled to develop a large trade with the Maoris, from whom I bought hundreds of tons of flax fibre.  It was splendidly dressed, and well adapted for the manufacture of the finer class of articles.  I exhibited in Dunedin, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Vienna, and was awarded prizes at all these places.  Things went satisfactorily between the Maoris and myself till the year 1858, when the tribe began to dispute with their chief Paora concerning the rent of my run.  One day the whole tribe waited on me and instructed me not to pay any money to Paora, but to pay it to them instead.  Failing this they threatened to drive away all my sheep to the sea-beach.  I saw Paora regarding the matter.  He said Potatau had been made king, and that one of his edicts was that no more land was to be leased or sold to the European, and no public roads were to be made through Maori lands.  Potatau had guaranteed them immunity from the action of European laws, and the Maori believed him.  Paora insisted on my paying him the rent as formerly.  I was in a quandary, hardly knowing which course to pursue, when the whole of the tribe again waited on me within a few days’ time and demanded payment of the rent of the run.  I told them I would not recognise them in this matter in this matter.  Immediately the whole wild spirit was aroused within them, and about 100 men and women went, and having mustered my sheep, placed them in a small paddock near my house.  I informed Paora of what had happened.  He told me to let the sheep go.  I did so, and Paora came and stayed at my house.  The next day the Natives sent me word that they intended fetching in the sheep again.  Paora, finding that the whole of the tribe had turned against him, went to Otaki and obtained the assistance of a number of his nearest relatives in order to keep the sheep on the run.  His daughter, my wife, and several others came from Otaki, and when the tribe mustered the sheep, and were about to turn them into the paddock, our party rushed savagely at them in an attempt to obtain possession of the sheep.  The trouble continued for half a day, at the end of which time both combatants and sheep, of which several were killed in the affray, were exhausted.  However, our party was


victorious, and it was only by extraordinary luck that bloodshed was avoided.  Another meeting between Paora and the tribe was held, but the chief would not agree to their terms.  Finding themselves baffled in their attempts either to obtain payment of the rent, or possession of the sheep, they unanimously decided to obtain revenge by turning loose all their dogs to worry my sheep.  I had no redress, and was eventually compelled to send them to Mr Cook’s, in the Manawatu, in order to save the flock from annihilation.  And so ended the trouble.

A Maori tangi in the “good old days” was a sight to be remembered, and I have often felt indignant at the manner in which tangis are conducted now-a-days.  In the old days the death of a chief was signalled by thousands of voices being raised in the peculiar lament for the dead, and at such times I have seen the old women cutting themselves with shells, while to the accompaniment of freely flowing blood they sang their weird songs of humiliation.  I have seen an old woman hold a piece of flint or glass as keen as a razor in her right hand, and this she would deliberately place against the left side of her waist.  Then it would be drawn upwards to her left shoulder, and a stream of spurting blood would follow the deep incision.  Then, in the same deliberate manner, the gash would be continued downwards across the breast to the short ribs on her right side.  The glass or flint would then be taken in her left hand, and the same process of gashing would be gone through, making the cross of blood on her left breast.  Some of the sights witnessed by me in 1848 were horrible in the extreme.  I have seen numbers of women standing in rows before the dead body of a chief, screaming and wailing, their bodies and hands quivering in an extraordinary manner, while they gashed themselves until they were covered in blood from head to foot.  This custom has gradually become extinct, and often of late years I have felt indignant at the sight of some degenerate hussy at a tangi flourishing a piece of flint with which she was very careful to avoid making so much as the least scratch on her dusky skin.  To my mind the departure from an ancient custom betrays a want of deep natural affection which was possessed by the old type of Maori.  Some of them even refuse to shed either tears or blood at the loss of their relatives or friends.  They are a degenerate lot, and not nearly such noble characters as they were in the good old days.  During the progress of the tangi speeches of welcome to the departed spirit would be made.  One ran as follows: “Come here my father, come to look on us.  I have deserted from elder brother and your father.”  (Meaning their buried bodies).

The Maori race is quickly disappearing, and where the so-called blessings of our civilisation have taken a firm hold on them the process of decay is materially hastened.  The Maoris say there

Chief of the Ngatiraukawa.


have been no remarkable magical signs vouchsafed to them since the arrival of the Rangi Pai (Gospel).  There has been nothing seen in this island like the happenings when men were tapu, and the karakia had full power to work their mystical wonders.  One of the signs alleged to have been given in the island was the Ra Kutia (the closed or hidden sun) at mid-day, when darkness overspread the land and the stars could be seen twinkling for two hours before the return of daylight.  Our fathers (they say) saw this sign, but there are no signs given us like those of former days before the pakeha came with their Rangi Pai (gospel), his strange habits, and still stranger diseases.  They have banished the tapu, and we are no longer immune from diseases which kill us continually – diseases of which our men in the old days knew nothing, but died only when bent beneath the weight of many years – the natural end of life.

I have no confidence in our being able to civilise the Maori.  We have forced upon them our religion and civilisation, often with the Bible in one hand and the bottle of rum in the other, and then we have flattered ourselves that we have made Christians of them.  The idea – noble thought it was – of being able to civilise the Maori until he stood on the same plane as ourselves, is now exploded, and their numbers are diminishing year by year.

The makutu is still the weapon of the weak, of him who has no other means of endeavouring to obtain redress for his wrongs.  There can be no doubt that this belief exercised a strong restraining influence in their old state of society, where the law of force generally prevailed, and it exercised a potent influence in checking thieving and unjust dealing among themselves, for there is among the Maoris a firm belief in and dread of it’s power.



The following is an account of the method of employing “the curse,” as given me by the Maoris: -The women are much vexed when any of the flax scraped by them is stolen.  In such a case she would consult a tohunga, who would undertake to discover the thief.  Her house would be placed under tapu, during which time no one is allowed to enter it.  This is necessary to render the makutu effective.  Then the tohunga asks, “Has anyone entered your house?”  On a reply in the negative, he tells the woman he will come to her at night, when he visits her and takes her to the water-side, where he takes off his clothes, and proceeds to strike the water with a stick carried for the purpose.  Immediately he does this the form of the thief is supposed to appear to the tohunga, whereupon he curses it, when the thief is supposed to fall ill, and perhaps die.  The old Maoris had religions peculiar to each tribe and family in forms of karakia, or invocation addressed to their departed ancestral spirits.

It was about the year of 1850 when Wi Kingi and his tribe abandoned Waikanae and went to Taranaki, the land of their ancestors.  The journey was made through Cook’s Straits in large war canoes.  It was an imposing sight to watch the entire tribe, numbering several hundreds, in the canoes about three miles outside the breakers.  In the year 1860 a dispute arose between Wi Kingi and the Waitara chief Taira, a dispute which eventually involved the Colony and Her Majesty’s Government in a long and expensive war.  Luckily for us the Natives’ preparations for the war were incomplete, which fact was responsible for the misfortunes which befell us during the war not being worse than they were.  In the year 1842 my father, having imported a rope-making plant from England, established rope-works at Petone [Te Aro written in pencil].  His supply of fibre was drawn from the Wellington Natives, and also from Kawhia.  The fibre produced by Kawhia Natives was of a silky appearance, and quite different to the local article.  It used to be sent down in baskets, which were packed with neatly-made hanks.  Wheat sacks being scarce, my father employed a considerable number of Scotch women to weave thread from the flax fibre by means of “spinning jennies.”  My father presented the first sack made by this means to Governor Fitzroy.  The venture ended in financial failure, however, as it was afterwards found that sacks could be imported from Sydney for 1s 6d each, whereas it cost my father 2s 6d each to manufacture his, and consequently the exercise had to be abandoned at considerable loss, the plant having cost some ₤500.  Experiments


were made by my father to ascertain if the flax rope would take tar, and the captain of the H.M.S. Calliope took a ton of the tarred rope with a view to testing it.  On his return, however, he informed my father that the experiment was a failure as the fibre did not absorb the tar, which wore off with use.  The gum in the fibre was the cause of the trouble.  After carrying on the business of rope-making on Petone for four years my father established his plant in Waikawa, where we spent four years.  Then my father was attracted to the Manawatu district, and, leaving Waikawa, he, in the year of 1848, established a rope-walk on the bank of the Manawatu river near the Maire lake, Shannon, where Mr Charles Hartley was engaged in carrying on a large trade with the Maoris.  I retain vivid and pleasant recollections of our canoe trip up the Manawatu river on the occasion when we took up our manufacturing plant to the new site.  I was struck with the appearance of the rich alluvial flats which stretched back from both banks of the river.  The banks were adorned with kowhai trees, the yellow blossom of which shone resplendent in the bright sunshine.  Then there were the patches of bush skirting the river banks, composed of tall pines and thick undergrowth of many varying shades of green, among which bright-blossomed creepers reached aspiringly upwards till some reached the top of the tallest trees, making a striking scene of natural beauty.  Here and there in the bush the bell-birds and the tuis sang their wild musical songs of joyous freedom, white cuckoos and many other Native birds abounded.  In the clearings along the banks we saw Maori villages, and crops of wheat which promised a rich harvest to their dusky owners, who took great trouble with their cultivations.  And so we made our way slowly up the river, while our Native canoemen shouted their wild songs while straining at the paddles, until at last we reached Mr Chas. Hartley’s place.  Here we found a fine Maori settlement composed of large pahs and hundreds of Natives engaged in cultivation of the rich river flats, and the preparation of fibre from the flax which grew in abundance in the vicinity.  It was indeed a pretty place possessed of great natural beauty.  Here I saw suspended between the branches of a giant rata tree four Maori coffins.  It was the Native burial ground, and in one place was a canoe set upright in the ground, and in it the corpse of a woman was in a sitting posture dressed in beautiful mats and feathers.  We established our rope-walk about three chains from this spot.

There were two powerful tribes living in the neighbourhood, one of which was named the Ngatiwakatere.  The other tribes were heathens.  So well ordered were the customs that months would pass without an angry word being spoken among them, indeed the old Maori tongue was almost devoid of any expression


of a profane nature.  The only curse it contained was considered to be so awful that it was only applied to a public enemy, or to those about to become such, and its employment was nearly always followed by a declaration of war.  I could not have wished to live among better people.

At the time of which I write, Messrs Thomas and John Kebbell were engaged at Piaka in carrying on a large trade with the Natives.  They had a steam flour-mill, and also did a considerable trade in timber.  Hundreds of Natives from Moutoa used to visit them and bring canoes laden with wheat and dressed flax.  The Kebbells also had a fine farm.  Mr T. W. Cook located on a nice farm on the opposite side of the river, and he, too, carried on trade with the Natives.  This was about 1851.  Mr Cook also owned two forty-ton coasting vessels which were built for him by Messrs G. Nye and F Able, of Foxton.  At that time Mr A Burr had a splendid farm lower down the river at what is known as “The Long Reach.”  I considered it a model farm, and it was well stocked with cattle.

At that time (1851) Captain Robertson and Dr Best were farming at Foxton, where they both had large cattle runs, and Messrs H. and C. Simmons were the overseers for Mr Robinson, who also had a cattle run there.  The Rev. James Duncan was in charge of the Foxton Presbyterian church, and was well liked by the Natives in Manawatu.  The rev. gentleman, who arrived in the Colony in 1844, had been an eye-witness of many Native disturbances.  It was about the year 1857 that the general exodus of the Ngatikahungunu from the Manawatu to the Wairarapa occurred on the account of the lands occupied by them being sold by the rightful Native owners.  They were an industrious tribe numbering several hundreds, and the departure was a heavy loss to the traders of the district, for the flourishing Maori village at Moutoa became deserted, and their supplies of corn, potatoes, and flax were, of course, lost to the traders.

Photo –
The Late Mr Thos Bevan, father of Mr Thos Bevan, senr.. of Manakau.  Died 1882, aged 84 years.



I will here relate an incident that nearly got me into serious trouble, and which illustrates one phase of Maori superstition.  Happening to capture a large green lizard in the bush near Hartley’s settlement at the Maire, I tied a string to one of its legs and drove it along in front of me, a la Paddy when taking his pig to market.  Just as I reached the bank of the river with my prize I came upon two Maori women who were sunning themselves, as is their custom.  They were sitting close to the track along which I was driving the lizard, and when I was close to them they saw the creature, and at once sprung from the ground, and, uttering loud screams of horror, bolted homewards like a bolt out of a gun.  They both went out of their minds for several days.  One of the women was so much affected by the shock that blood exuded from her ears and nose.  Their husbands, together with a number of others, waited on my father within a few days of the occurrence and explained how exceedingly serious had been my unwitting offence in the eyes of the tribe.  They regarded the lizard as possessed by a spirit of an ancestor, and my capture of the animal was regarded by them as a taua muru (a robbery in revenge).  So seriously did they regard any interference with a lizard that the offence was punished by death.  However, my father succeeded in getting the chief to use his influence on my behalf, so, finally, the matter was settled amicably without muru (plunder).  They all warned me never to interfere with a lizard again.

An instance which I witnessed at this place comes to my mind, which will illustrate the barbaric character of the old Maori.  A chieftainess fell in love with one of her tribe, but he, not being of high birth, was objected to by the girl’s relations.  After the courtship has been in progress for several months, the old chief determined to break off the engagement by giving her to one of the men engaged on our rope-walk.  I was engaged as interpreter so one morning I, the old chief, and the girl, waited on (Jim) as we called him.  I explained to him that the chief wanted to know if he (Jim) wanted a wife, and if so would he take this dusky damsel then before him, who, by the way, appeared to treat the matter lightly, and laughed heartily while the bargain was being made.  “Jim” said he had no objections, and then I explained to him that before the bargain was completed the old chief wanted “utu,” or payment in the form of a blanket.  As soon as the blanket was handed over to him, the chief said to the


maiden “You must be good to my pakeha, you must not leave him, and you must do his bidding.”  This she readily agreed to, and thus “Jim” got a wife.  Some five months after “Jim’s” “marriage” I happened to be working near the bush, when Eata, his wife, came out of the bush, having given birth to a child, which she carried in her arms.  I asked her what she was carrying, and she, with a laugh, replied “I have a child,” whereupon she went into the house and washed it.

Three days afterwards Tomarua, the girl’s uncle, came to the house in a state of excitement, and found Eata lying on her bed with her child.  “Pretty work this,” said the old chief wrathfully, “I am ashamed to let my pakeha keep a bastard.”  He then became more excited, and saying “I won’t stand this,” he leaped forward, and seized the child by its two hands.  Eata screamed and wept, to which her uncle replied, “I warned you not to transgress.”  He then marched out of the house, carrying the child in one hand and flourishing his murderous tomahawk in the other.  I quickly brought “Jim,” my father, and other hands involved in the rope-walk, to Tomarua, who swore he would kill the child.  We begged and entreated him to spare it, and my father offered him payment if he would give it up.  But Tomarua’s blood was up, and walking to a karaka tree threatened to dash out its brains.  We endeavoured to prevent him from committing such a horrible crime, but he became even more excited, and, threatened us with a tomahawk, walked towards the river, and, in spite of our entreaties and efforts to frustrate his purpose, he threw the child into the river, where it was drowned before our eyes.

Tomarua’s wife had a horror of music.  The sound of a band playing or even the whistling of a tune would send her into convulsions.  At such time she would present a horrible sight by the fearful contortions of her face, which would become covered in blood, which, on these occasions, flowed from her eyes, ears, and nose.  She allowed the blood to dry, and would never wash it off because she believed it to be caused by spirits.

Among the Maoris, as among all the races of men that have ever inhabited the earth, a woman was the most frequent cause of trouble that arose among them.  I have known an immodest glance to cause a duel and blood-shed.  I will here relay an incident, of which I was an eye-witness, which will illustrate the trouble which arose because a woman had deserted her husband for another man.  Learning from a Native lad, with whom I was on friendly terms, that there was to be a taua for one of the high chief’s wives who was living with another Maori, I resolved to accompany him and witness the proceedings.  Arriving at the pa I saw groups of young men fully armed, and indulging in a


war-dance for the purpose of working themselves up to fighting pitch.  At the conclusion of the dance the party marched in the direction of the pa, where the faithless spouse was living.  This was distant about four miles, and the route lay through the dense bush.  On arriving at the open plain a halt was called and the final preparations were made for the fray.  All being in readiness the leader ordered the short distance, and then gave the detachment, forward again for an order to charge.  Immediately the party rushed forward at full speed uttering yells and screams, in the direction of the pa.  When within a few paces of their antagonists the leader roared the command to halt, and immediately the taua sank to a kneeling position on one knee, while Ahitara, the leader, sprang into the air, brandished his spear, contorted his face, and only the whites of the eyes were visible.  In a tone of defiance he shouted the first words of the war-cry, whereupon all his men sprang instantly from the ground, and to the accompaniment of horrible grimaces and protruding tongues, which added to the hideousness of their appearance, they joined their leader in the wild war-song, while they leaped and stamped so violently that I distinctly felt the ground tremble where I stood.

Then Ahitara leaped forward, like an arrow shot from a bow, and confronting the Native for whom his wife deserted him, he shouted, “You stole my wife, the point of the spear in your throat shall be the last thing you ever taste,” and then rushed at the enemy, who had assumed a kneeling posture.  Ahitara raised his spear to strike, but the kneeling warrior never flinched, not even when the lunge brought the point of his antagonist’s spear under his chin.  Atihara sprang backward several paces, and then calling upon his still kneeling enemy to look his last upon earth and sunshine, he again levelled his spear at the throat and rushed forward as though to transfix him on its point.  Just as it appeared that the spear would do what had surely been threatened by its owner, the point was lowered with astonishing rapidity and dexterity, and instead of entering the throat the point was buried in the Natives right shoulder, in spite of his attempt to parry the blow with his own spear.  The wound was followed by a minute stream of blood, and as blood had been drawn the strange duel was at an end.

Then a korero began.  Ahitara and his wife asked for utu (payment) before he would return, and while the korero was proceeding it leaked out that the woman who was the cause of all the trouble had been hidden in the bush near at hand.  Immediately Atihara’s men rushed in the direction of the bush, where, after a short search, the woman was discovered to be hiding in a rata tree.  On being discovered she screamed


and howled as a Maori woman can, and she was nearly torn limb from limb by the party, which succeeded in obtaining payment for the crime before it returned home.

Photo –
Mr Thos. Bevan. senr’s., Beautiful home at Manakau.



I find I am drawing near the end of the reminiscences, which, after all, cover but a few of the most remarkable incidents which have come under my observation during my long residence on the coast.  I am an old man now, and looking back through the vista of the vanished years I see much to regret in the changes that time has wrought both in the character of the Maori and the appearance of the country.  The beautiful forests have disappeared for ever before the bushman’s axe, while fires have completed the work of devastation.  What a change, for instance, has taken place in the appearance of the country in the vicinity of the Maire lake near Shannon since the days that my father settled there and established his rope-walk!  I always look back with feelings of keenest pleasure to the time when we dwelt there on the banks of the Manawatu river, in the midst of those simple-minded children of Nature, then all unspoiled by the withering influences of our artificial civilisation.  Our home was built in a beautiful spot near a dense bush composed of majestic ratas and pines, and a variety of lovely shrubs which formed a dense undergrowth, and among which grew graceful ferns, which rejoiced in the coolness, moisture, and shade of the sheltering trees.  The bush was thronged with birds – pigeons, kakas, tuis, bell-birds, fan-tails, wrens, robins, and wekas.  I shall never forget the forest choristers, how when the first faint rosy tint in the east proclaimed the advent of another day, a chorus of praise burst as with one accord from a thousand throats, their combined songs, warblings, chirpings, and screamings uniting in a joyous pean of untutored praise.  Even at this distance of time I can in imagination hear the soft coo of the pigeon, the noisy screams of the garrulous kaka, the resonant tones of the bell-birds, the inimitable gurgling song of the tui, the plaintive and diminutive melody of the wren – always in a minor key – the robins cheerful song, and the chirpings and “kissing” of the blythe fan-tails, and with it all there comes the strange, sweet, indescribable fragrance of the bush, and life seems pure and sweet again.

With the first rays of the sun the chorus ceased as suddenly as it begun, and general silence reigned till sunset, when it all begun again and continued till darkness supervened, when heads were tucked beneath their tired wings till morning dawned again.  Snaring pigeons was a favourite pastime of the Maoris in those days, and I well remember when the Otauru stream, which emptied into the Maire lagoon, was a narrow stream of beautifully clear


water, which ran through the dense bush which extended to the mountain ranges, where it had its source.  Here, in the season when the miro berries were red ripe, the Maoris snared pigeons by hundreds.  The following methods were employed in capturing them.  These birds were accustomed to drink and bathe in the Otauru stream, but so dense was the growth of the forest overhead that it was possible for the Maoris by carefully blocking numbers of the openings above the stream with boughs, to induce the birds to come down to it through openings purposely left overhead.  Perches innumerable were provided on which the birds, after bathing, would perch and preen their feathers.  Surrounding the perches were numerous snares, consisting of loops of cabbage-tree leaves, this fibre being stronger than flax.  As the unwary birds fluttered about, large numbers of them became entangled in the “snares of the fowler,” where they remained dangling till morning at sunrise, this being the only time when the “tapu” allowed these spots to be visited.

I shall always remember the Maoris of my acquaintance in those by-gone days with the kindest of feeling, for I was often helped by them in many ways, and my frequent travels up and down the coast often made me the recipient of their kindly hospitality.  By this means I was often enabled to gain a closer insight into their customs and manners than would have otherwise been possible, and I cannot help repeating that it has never been my lot to know a kinder or more hospitable people.  Many a time have I dropped unexpectedly into their villages – an uninvited pakeha guest – and straightway they would proceed to provide me the very best cheer their means afforded.  The choicest foods and the very best mats were always provided me by these simple-minded, untutored, yet withal, generous and noble-minded people.  I do not desire to hide my strong affection for the Maori race as a whole, for I have been privileged to know them intimately in the pre-pakeha days, before they became contaminated and debased under the blighting influence of the bastard civilisation, when every instinct of their natures prompted them to acts of kindness and generosity towards those who treated them in a spirit of fairness.  There was a grandeur, dignity, and nobility of character about the old chieftains which could only have been the result of long hereditary influences, and their influence extended to the whole tribe, which, in a measure, would reflect the character of its chief.  Is it any wonder that I sigh when I compare the happy condition of the Native race in those vanished days with its generally miserable and deplorable state to-day?  Where, now, is their Native nobleness and independence of character?  Where their industries?  Where their once well-kept and prolific plantations of potatoes, kumeras, pumpkins, melons, wheat, and maize?  Where their once strong, healthy,


and sturdy men who numbered thousands, and in whose breasts there dwelt the burning love of adventure, poetry, and romance, as well as the fierce spirit of savage and mortal combat, and undying hatred of the foes?  Well may ye weep to-day over the mouldering bones of thy long-dead ancestors, and vainly do ye sigh over their cherished memories, for ye are a decadent race and thy thousands have dwindled to hundreds, thy hundreds to scores, thy scores, to tens!  The white man’s civilisation will, ere long, have engulped thee, and all that will remain will be a fast, but perishing, memory of a once-noble race.



In the early 1850 my brother George and I carried on rope-making works on the banks of the Manawatu river at Otauru, near Poroutawhao.  We leased land from Te Whatanui of Ngatiraukawa, the man who saved the Muaupoko people from utter extermination, and carried on an extensive trade with Te Rangihaeata and his numerous tribes at Poroutawhao.  We also bought flax and other produce of them.  There was at that time a large pa near our house, and many Natives living with Te Whatanui and Te Pakake, of Ngatiraukawa. Messrs H. and C. Symonds were living at Ngatotara, leasing a large cattle run from Ngatihuia, of Poroutawhao.  At that time there was a beautiful forest at Ngatotara, abounding with Native pigeons, kakas, and other Native birds.  The Natives in those days were adepts in the various arts of catching these birds, spearing and trapping them for food, and in these pursuits they observed certain forms and ceremonies.  Cunningly-devised traps, were very long, barbed-tipped spears were used in the forest sports of these days, but these sports are to be seen no more.  The kaikomako was a favourite tree among the Maori in the “good old days,” and a most important tree it was, being used for obtaining fire by means of friction, before the advent of the pakeha with his flint and steel, and, later on, the phosphorous match.

I well remember a strange expedition, organised by the Ngatiwhakatere, of Manawatu, in 1852.  These Natives received a copy of the Maori edition of the ever-popular book “Robinson Crusoe,” after reading which their imaginations were so fired that they felt convinced that an old wanderer was located on the island situate in the head-waters of the Manawatu river, and had been there for some centuries.  They proceeded to explore the island in question, but, needless to say, their quest was fruitless.

When I was among the Maoris in 1845 I noticed a large tree fort used by the Muaupoko tribe.  This fort had seen so much active service before the invasion of the Ngatitoa and Ngatiraukawa tribes, and when Te Ateawa, the country between Paekakariki and Manawatu, was wholly occupied by the Muaupoko.  One of the tribe’s settlements was on the Mhakohoro clearing, by the Waikawa river, a short distance from the township of Manakau.  The Muaupoko were frequently harassed by the war parties of the Ngatiapa and other tribes, and even by the Ngatikahungunus, of Wairarapa, who reached this coast by the old war trail across the Tararua ranges.


As a means of defence, and to ensure the safety of the women and children, the Muaupoko, of Whakahoro, constructed a tree fort in the tops of three immense kahikatea (white pine) trees, situate on the northern side of the clearing.  Beams were laid from fork to fork of the trees, and upon these were laid a platform, on which the houses were erected.  A fence encircled the whole stage, and stores of food, water, etc., were always kept in this elevated pa.  Heaps of stones were also piled up on the platform, which were hurled down on the enemies when they approached the trees.  On the advance of a war-party, the Muaupokos retreated to their fort, and pulled up their ladders after them, and as the platform was fully fifty feet from the ground, the besieged could well defy their enemies so long as their supplies of food and water held out, as the rifle was an unknown weapon in those days.  When, however, Te Rauparaha arrived in the district, bringing firearms with him, the days of the tree-forts were numbered.  The children of Kupe could at once see their position was untenable, and, sooner than be shot in their forts like birds, they fled.  Stories in connection with old forts are still related by old people of the Ngatiwehiwehi hapu of the Ngatiraukawa.

Most careful was the ancient Maori in preserving the history and sacred knowledge of his tribe, and woe betide the betrayer, or the one who made a wrong use of the knowledge he possessed.  The life of those primitive people was, on a whole, a happy one.  With the exception of the times when they were harassed by a superior tribe, they enjoyed life after their kind.  Each season of the year, and portion of each day held its own special task for the ancient Maori.  The women performed the household duties, such as cooking, keeping the house in order, making sleeping mats, and others of finer textures used as garments.  They also accompanied the men to the cultivations, where they cooked the first meal of the day, and also assisted in the labour of the field.  The whole party returned to the kainga about three in the afternoon, when preparations would be made for the second and concluding meal of the day.  The men had many duties to perform – cultivating their food products, gathering the crops, building dwelling and store-houses, making canoes, fishing, hunting, making nets, cordage, carving and grinding by friction to form weapons and implements of stone.  Food was plentiful in the land of the taro, and no famine visited the land so long as peace prevailed.  The long winter evenings were beguiled by the recounting of weird tales, and the chanting of numberless poems.  The rehearsal of hakas, and indulgence in many forms of games also helped to pass many a weary hour.



Let us old settlers remember the year 1840, and what our expectations were when we left our Native land!  How bright a prospect was open to our views!  how ardent our hopes and energy, and how vigorous!  Let us look at the realisation of our hopes, and the fruits of our expectations, and then say what is due to those whose interference and maladministration have dashed the promised cup from our lips.  How different was our condition, how different our prospects during that short period previous to the interference of the British Government, when we first established ourselves on these shores, before our amicable relations with the Natives were disturbed, and our pecuniary resources drained into a distant treasury!  How easily traceable are all the subsequent evils which have accrued to us – to the mischievous and wicked misgovernment under which we have laboured.  We were then a happy little republic, governed as far as government was requisite, by officers of our own appointment, or still more, by our own mutual good feeling towards each other, and not the undoubted influence on the prosperity of the Dominion by the serious land disputes between the New Zealand Company and the Natives, as well as with the European purchasers to whom the Company sold land in London on the chance of obtaining possession in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Company, whose recklessness in land buying and selling were certainly largely to blame for the Wairau massacre.  There was no evil intended by Te Rauparaha or Rangihaeata in the commencement of this trouble, for land was the foundation of our troubles with the Natives, and twenty-two of our country-men had been murdered at Wairau.  The rights of the Natives to their lands, and the Treaty of Waitangi, should have been respected by the New Zealand Company, for the treaty guarantees to the Maori chiefs and tribes in New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisputed possession of the lands and estates, forests, and fisheries.  Now the Maori chiefs see that their possession is being taken away, and the details of the Treaty of Waitangi had only been held out as faint hopes to them, and is being broken without a just cause.  It was when the tide turned the Maori war for Great Britain that the treaty was no more, and those times, when the average man would rather die than tell a lie, have passed away.

On many occasions I have been plied with questions about the character of the Maori.  It is true that I have spent nearly my


whole life among them, and have had the utmost opportunity of learning very nearly all there is to be known about the character of these interesting people.  No one can doubt the mental capacity of the Maori, and had it been possible to have educated them, and inculcate habits of sustained industry they might by this time have all together cast aside their old habits and associations.  It is true that the missionaries did effect good work, but the unfortunate dissensions amongst ourselves have not only prevented the gradually awakening mind from receiving fixed and decided principles, but have rendered it very nearly impossible to convert them to other channels of modern thought.  Gratitude is unknown to the Maori; no word expressive of this feeling being found in their language.  Theft is very rare amongst them, revenge being their strongest vice; in many instances feelings of revenge are kept alive for many generations.  They are liberal in giving presents, but presents are merely modes of trade, as return gifts are always expected.  They are, as a rule, gifted in oratory, possessing a great flow of words.  They are indolent, strong against the weak, but weak against the strong.  When mastered, either physically or mentally, they became as manageable as children, but any power possessed over them must be exerted in a right way.  They are more easily overcome by gentle and skilful management than by ill-directed force.  The Maoris value life, but die with indifference when death is inevitable; they have no benevolence, and are cruel to their old men and women.  Long-absent friends are greeted with a profusion of tears, but, as with children, this grief is destitute of any intensity of feeling.  Maoris have the minds of children and the passions of men; they respect ancient laws and customs, but are ready to embrace new views and opinions given out by men in authority.  So constituted are their minds that it is impossible to foresee how certain circumstances will affect them.  Futurity is seldom looked into, although, like all mankind, they long for what is unknown, and regret what is lost.  Fondness for novelty is a passion, but it is almost impossible to excite wonder.  Vanity, arrogance, and independence are universal; they are more vain than proud.  In all their actions they are alive to their own interests, in pursuit of which they are not, at the present day, overburdened with conscientiousness.



The position occupied by the great chief, Te Rauparaha, in connection with the establishment and earlier progress of the New Zealand Company’s settlement in Cook Strait would alone justify us in recording all that can still be learnt of the career of this remarkable man, but, when in addition to the interest which his personal history possesses for us in this respect, we find that he took a very important part in the events that occurred in these islands between the years 1818 and 1840 – leading us as they did to an immense destruction of life among the then – existing population, and to profound changes in the habits and character of the survivors – it becomes important for the purposes of the future historian of the Dominion, that we should preserve the most authentic accounts of his career, as well as of that of other great chiefs who occupied, during the period in question, positions of power and influence amongst the leading New Zealand tribes.  As with Hongi Te Waharoa, and Te Wherowhero in the North, so Te Rauparaha in the south carried on during the interval referred to, wars of the most ruthless and devastating character, undertaken partly for purposes of conquest, and partly for the gratification of that innate ferocity for which the New Zealanders have long been remarkable.

It appears that in 1817, or about three years before E Hongi left for England, and after the failure of Te Rauparaha’s attempt to form an alliance against Waikato, a large war party arrived at Kawhia under the command of Tamati Waka Nene and his brother Patuone, who invited Te Rauparaha to join them in a raid upon the southern tribes.  Tamati Waka’s people had a considerable number of muskets on this occasion, but the expedition had no special object beyond slaughter and slave-making, with the added pleasure of devouring the bodies of the slain.  Te Rauparaha joined them with many warriors, and the party travelled along the coast, through the territory of Ngatiawa, whose alliance with Ngaititoa, however, saved them from molestation.  Hostilities were commenced by an attack upon Ngatiruanui, who were dispersed after great slaughter.  This first success was followed by attacks on all the tribes on the coast until the taua reached Otaki, great numbers of people being killed and many slaves taken, while the remainder were driven into the hills and fastnesses, where many of them perished miserably from exposure and want.  At Otaki the invaders rested, Ruaparaha visiting Kapiti, which he found in possession of a section of the Ngatiapa tribe, under the chiefs Patau and Kotuku.  It would seem that

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Mrs Thos. Bevan, senr., (wife of Mr Thos. Bevan, senr., of Manakau), and her three daughters, Mesdames Chas. Nees, G. Phillips, and W. Bull.


even at this time Te Rauparaha, who was much struck with the appearance of the country, formed a design of taking possession of it, and, with his usual policy, determined, instead of destroying the people on the island, to treat them with kindness, though he and the other leaders compelled them to collect and surrender such greenstone, of which this tribe especially had, during a long intercourse with the Middle Island, and by means of their own conquests of the Ngaitahu, obtained large and valuable quantities.  The hostile party then continued their course along the coast, destroying great numbers of people.  On their arrival at Wellington, then called Whanganui-a-taru, they found that the inhabitants – a section of Ngatikahungunu – alarmed at the approach of the invaders, had fled to Wairarapa.  Thither followed the taua, and discovered that Ngatikahungunu in great force at a pah called Tawhere Nikau.  In order to gorge themselves upon the bodies of the slain, the party returned to Wellington and proceeded to Omere, where they saw a European vessel lying off Raukawa, in  Cook Strait.  Tamati Waka Nene, on perceiving the ship, immediately shouted out to Te Rauparaha, “Oh, Raha, do you see that people sailing on the sea; they are a very good people, and if you conquer this land and hold intercourse with them you will obtain guns and powder, and become very great.”  Te Rauparaha apparently wanted but this extra incentive to induce him to take permanent possession of the country between Wellington and Patea, and at once determined to remove thither with his tribe as soon as he could make arrangements.  The taua (war party) returned along the coastline as they had first come, killing or making prisoners of such of the inhabitants as they could find as far as Patea.  It was during the return of this war party athat Rangihaeata took prisoner a woman called Pikinga, the sister of Arapata Hiria, a Ngatiapa chief of high rank, whom he afterwards made his slave wife.  Laden with spoil, and accompanied by numerous slaves, the successful warriors reached Kawhia, where Tamati Waka Nene and Patuone, with their party, left Te Rauparaha in order to return to their own country of Hokianga, and after all danger of further attack on the part of Waiata had ceased.  Te Rauparaha determined, before resuming the movement southward, to again visit his friends at Maungatautari, in order to induce the latter, if possible, to join him in the expedition.  For this purpose he travelled to Taupo, taking the road from Taranaki by the upper Wanganui and Tuhua.  At Tuhua he had a long conference with Te Heuheu, who promised to afford him any assistance he could in affecting his settlement at Kapiti and on the main land, but would not consent to take any other part in the undertaking.  He then proceeded to Opepe, on Lake Taupo, where a large number


of the Ngatiraukawa had assembled, under Whatanui, in order to discuss Te Rauparaha’s proposals.  Here a great tangi was held, at which Whatanui made a speech to Te Rauparaha, and gave him many presents as they had not met for some time.  After the ordinary ceremonies had concluded, Te Rauparaha again opened his proposals to the assembled chiefs, representingokane the many advantages that would accrue from adopting them, and particularly insisting on the opportunity it would give the tribe of obtaining abundant supplies of fire-arms, as Kapiti and other parts of Cook Strait had already begun to be visited by European ships.  He also dwelt on the rich and productive character of the land, and the ease with which it might be conquered, whilst there was nothing to prevent a large number of the tribe from remaining at Maungatatauri in order to retain their ancient possessions there.  To all this, however, Whatanui gave a reply, and the meeting broke up without any indication that any part of the tribe would join in the proposed expedition.   Te Rauparaha then visited other sections of the tribe, and another great meeting took place, at which he was not present.  At the meeting the chief objection raised was that by joining Te Rauparaha he would become their chief, and there was an unwillingness on the part of the tribe, notwithstanding what had occurred at the death of Hape, entirely to throw off their allegiance to their own hereditary arikis.  This resolution was communicated to Te Rauparaha by Horohou, one of the sons of Hape, by Akau, then Rauparaha’s wife, and the reasons specially assigned for it grieved Te Rauparaha so much.  Pomare then gave over to Rauparaha a number of men who had been under the leadership of Tuhourangi, who, from that time, became attached to, and incorporated with, Ngatitoa, and accompanied him on his return to Taranaki shortly after.  On reaching Taranaki he mokaneade preparation for continuing the migration, and succeeded in inducing Wikingi Rangitake, since celebrated in connection with the Waitara war, and his father, with many other chiefs, and a considerable number of Ngatiawa tribe, to accompany him.  His followers then consisted of his own people, the Ngatitoa, numbering 200 fighting men; the Ngapuhis, who had been transferred to him by Pomare, and Wikingi’s Ngatiawa, numbering 400 fighting men, and their several families.  During the interval between the commencement of the migration and its resumption over Taranaki, after Te Rauparaha’s last return thither, a large war party of Waikatos, under Tukorehu, Te Kepa, Te Rawau (Apihori) and other chiefs, had descended the East Coast, from whence they invaded the territory which Te Rauparaha was about to seize.  The Muaupoko, Rangitane, and Ngatiapa were all attacked on this occasion, and again suffered great loss, a circumstance which became known to


Te Rauparaha through some Ngatiraukawa men who had joined the Waikatos in their expedition, and had communicated its results to him during his last visit to Maungatautari.  It appears, moreover, that after he had left Taupo, Whatanui and a large party of Ngatiraukawa made up their minds to join him at Kapiti, but instead of following the same route, which he intended to take, they determined to proceed via Ahuriri, having been invited thither by the Ngatikahungunu.  On their arrival there, however, a dispute took place between the two parties, and a battle ensued, in which the Ngatiraukawa were defeated with considerable slaughter, the remainder of the party being forced to retreat upon Maungatautari.  Amongst the leading chiefs who accompanied Rauparaha was Rangihaeata, who, during the previous invasion, had taken prisoner a Ngatiapa woman of rank, named Pikinga, whom he had made his slave-wife.  When her brothers heard of the arrival of Ngatitoa at Wanganui, they, with a party numbering altogether twenty men, come to meet her, and accompanied Ngatitoa as far as the Rangitikei river.  Shortly after Rauparaha had settled at Ohau, two of the chiefs of Muaupoko visited him, and offered, if he would come over to their pa at Papaitonga, to make him a present of several large canoes.  He was extremely delighted at the offer, and at once consented to go.  Rangihaeata, however, endeavoured to dissuade him, saying, “Raha, I have had a presentiment that you will be murdered by Muaupoko.”  But Rauparaha laughed at his fears, and, attracted by the prospects of obtaining canoes, which had been glowingly described to him by the two chiefs, would not listen to any suggestions against the proposed visit. He even refused to take any large force with him, confining himself to a few men, and to some of his own children.  It appears, however, that a plot had been laid between Turoa and Paetahi, chiefs of the Wanganui tribes, and the leading chiefs of Muaupoko, to murder Te Rauparaha, and the invitation to Papaitonga, with the offer of canoes, was only a step in the plot for that purpose.  It is quite clear that he apprehended no danger, and that he fell into the trap laid for him with wonderful facility.  It was evening when he and his companions arrived at the pa; they were received by Toheriri, at whose house Rauparaha was to sleep.  His people were all accommodated in different parts of the pa, Rauparaha alone remained with Toheriri.  The murder was to be committed at night by a war party from Horowhenua, and when Toheriri believed that his guest was fast asleep, he rose and went out, intending to inform the war party that Rauparaha was asleep in his house.  His movements, however, aroused Te Rauparaha, who at once suspected some foul design, a suspicion which was soon converted into certainty by the cries of some of his people at the commencement of the bloody work.  He then escaped


from the house, and, being entirely unarmed, fled towards Ohau, which he succeeded in reaching, but quite naked.  This treacherous murder provoked the wrath of Ngatitoa, who, from that time, proceeded to destroy Muaupoko without mercy.  Toheriri was taken prisoner, and afterwards hung and eaten, undergoing dreadful tortures.  Before this event, Muaupoko were a somewhat powerful tribe, but their power was utterly broken by the Ngatitoa and their allies, in revenge for the attempted murder of their great chief.  After this escape Te Rauparaha settled at Ohau, and occupied the main land as far as Otaki, his war parties constantly hunting the people at Rangitikei, Manawatu, and Horowhenua.

Having completed a career of conquest, Te Rauparaha, like the Roman of old, sought other lands to subdue, so, manning the great war canoes he had wrested from the fatten, he crossed over to the South Island and ravaged and laid waste whole territories in the Nelson and Marlborough districts.  This being only a brief sketch, details of the many bloody wars and massacres in which Te Rauparaha was directly concerned are omitted.  Within a comparatively brief period of his arrival in the South Island he became immersed in larger schemes of conquest, taking upon himself almost superhuman tasks.  The Ngatitohu tribe relieved the strain he had put upon Rangitane, and just at that time a multiplicity of enemies furnished him with a surfeit of perilous experiences.  But Rauparaha was no less a diplomat than a warrior.  By diplomacy he accomplished that which he failed to obtain by fighting.  War broke out between the fiery Ngatiawa and the Ngatiraukawa, two tribes friendly towards him.  This engrossed very nearly the whole of his attention, leaving him with little to devote to reprisals on his old enemies, and before a suitable opportunity had arrived for avenging the killing of his people by the Awe Awe, Christianity had gained a footing among a number of the tribes on the West Coast, due to the preaching and teaching of a Native clergyman  from Tauranga, Wiremu Hamua by name.  Tired of the turmoil of war and satiated with bloody butchery, the Maoris gladly embraced this new doctrine of peace and goodwill towards men.  The strenuousness of those times was more than even an old Maori warrior could endure, trained as he was in the ways of war almost from infancy.  Conditions were ripe for the preaching of the doctrine of universal love, and they seized upon it as though it were the panacea for their thousand woes.  Strange to relate, Tamihana, Rauparaha, the son of Te Rauparaha, was one of the first and most enthusiastic to converts to Christianity.  He was born at the pa of Puohu, while the Ngatitoas were on their memorable migration south from Kawhia in search of knowledge and bloodshed.  I knew Tamihana to be a man of considerable

Photo –
Te Rauparaha, the Napoleon of the Maoris.


intelligence, thoroughly imbued with pakeha ideas.  His dress was always that of a European, and his house, which was open and free to all, was a comfortable, convenient, and desirable place to live in.  Tamihana was greatly distressed at the havoc and desolation the incessant battles and massacres were creating.  His great influence was constantly exerted in uplifting the banner of peace.  But so keenly did he recognise the need for one more qualified than himself to expound the teachings of Christ, that he journeyed all the way from this district to the Bay of Islands to secure the services of a resident missionary.  It was there he met the Rev. Octavius Hadfield, whom he induced to return with him, and from December of that year, 1839, a new era may be said to have dawned for both Maori and pakeha on this wild West Coast.  The Rev. Mr Hadfield was in those days a man of high character and keen intelligence.  He was loved and respected by the Natives amongst whom he lived in the pa at Waikanae.  He was in close touch with both Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, and knew their every movement of any consequence.  During the troublous times with those two chiefs the Rev. Hadfield spent nearly his whole time and energy travelling up and down the coast to allay irritation and prevent unfriendly relations between Natives and Europeans.  It was in 1861, during the bellicose attitude of the Kingite Natives, that the Rev. Hadfield rendered services of incalculable value to this country.  The Natives at Otaki had raised the Kingite flag, drilling, and other war-like preparations, were in progress, plans for driving the pakeha into the sea were evolved, and the whole country side was in ferment.  It was at this time that the Rev. Hadfield held counter meetings, and strongly opposed bloodshed becoming rampant in this locality.  Luckily, his efforts were successful, and but for him there would have been another story to tell.  No one could estimate the good work done in saving the unprotected settlers at such a time, and I cannot refrain from bearing testimony to the great services he rendered to humanity and to the cause of Christ.  Not one word, either from savage or pakeha, did we hear in those days against him.  His was a devoted life tothe cause of religion and the reclamation of the savage, and most zealously did he pursue his benevolent and beneficient calling.  Not one inconsistent act was known of him, no one can impeach the pure and noble purpose that induced him to cast himself among a body of the wildest savages in this country.

Ultimately, after a long period of quarrelling and warfare, the great Te Rauparaha was captured by the clever strategy of Sir George Grey.  He was seized in a tent on a favourable opportunity, and carried away unknown to his followers, and retained until his power was diminished sufficiently to permit of his


release.  I witnessed his return from captivity to Otaki in 1846; it was an occasion never to be forgotten.  A British man-of-war hove in sight and anchored off the mouth of the Otaki river, boats were lowered therefrom, officers, soldiers, and marines, in gorgeous uniforms, filled them, and as they near the shore Te Rauparaha stood proudly amongst them, attired in an admiral’s uniform and carrying a sword.  He was accompanied by Governor Grey and the commander of the warship.  Maoris lined the shore and gave their chief a right royal welcome home.  The very earth trembled with the stamping of thousands dusky warriors’ feet.  Te Rauparaha never relapsed into his savage war-like usages of earlier times; on the contrary, he urged the Ngatiraukawas to build the Otaki church, to be named Rangiatea.  In 1848 he and the chiefs of the Ngatitoas, and Ngatiraukawas gave 578 acres of land at Otaki towards the education of Ngatitoa, Ngatiawa, and Ngatiraukawa children.  A college and school was established under the auspices of the Rev. Mr Hadfield and the Rev. Mr Williams, and it was carried on most satisfactorily for many years.  Archdeacon Williams was universally beloved by the Natives, being possessed of that extreme sympathetic feeling which distinguished the best class of English clergymen in those days.  Te Rauparaha ended his days in Otaki, passing away in 1849.  A monument there bears record of the event.

On the 23rd July, 1846, Te Rauparaha was taken prisoner by Governor Grey, who sent at night an armed party of 150 men at Porirua.  Rauparaha and others were surprised in their sleep, and seized, it is said, without sufficient pretext, and placed on board the man-of-war Calliope for twelve months.  About the time of the capture of Te Rauparaha, 200 men of the tribe of Ngatiraukawa, who befriended Rangihaeata, assembled at Otaki, and he, Rangihaeata,told them he wished to destroy Wellington and kill the Europeans as satisfaction for the captivity of Rauparaha; but Matene te Whiwhi and Tamihana Te Rauparaha, son of Te Rauparaha, told them they must put an end to this foolish desire, and not to hearken to the tikanga, the ways of Rangihaeata, but that they must try to live in peace, and cease their bad desire.  They consented, and when Rauparaha was liberated, about June, 1847, Te Rauparaha urged the Ngatiraukawa to build a large church in Hadfield town as Otaki was then called, as he had a great desire to worship the great God.  He was continually worshipping until he died at Otaki on the 27th November, 1849, in his 81st year.  The great chieftain was buried in the Native Mission cemetery at Otaki on the 3rd of December, but the Maoris now resident in that town declare that the coffin containing the remains was subsequently removed to Kapiti Island.

Rangihaeata, on hearing of the seizure of his chief, dashed to


the neighbourhood to aid him, if possible, but the northern chiefs refused to obey his call.  They told him that to attempt to exterminate the Europeans was foolish; how could they dry up the sea?  Therefore, he said, finish fighting with the Europeans!

Rangihaeata lived to be 70 years of age.  He died in November, 1856, and was buried at Poroutawhao, near Foxton.  I knew Tamihana Te Rauparaha and his father, Te Rauparaha, since 1845.  After Te Rauparaha died, when there was any great question to settle, the old chiefs would meet Tamihana and Matene Te Whiwhi at their houses to get advice from them about the business that was to come off.  Tamihana and Matene were the leading chiefs of the tribe. and all the white settlers along this coast must thank them for their lives, for it was they who advised Sir George Grey how to end the war with Te Rangihaeata in 1846, thus saving the white people from being massacred by Te Rangihaeata.  Tamihana and Matene had a most eventful life, worthy of record by all the white people.  They had great influence among their tribes, and their deaths were a great loss to all.  Tamihana died at his house on the sheep run, and the Ngatiraukawa went there and carried him to Matene Te Whiwhi’s house in Otaki.  There were hundreds of Natives around him at the tangi, and for a week there was great mourning.  Memories of the past scenes come back upon me now as I write these lines.  Tamihana Te Rauparaha got a marble bust from Sydney for his father, Te Rauparaha, but he died before it was erected by his tribe, Ngatiraukawas. I have seen Te Rauparaha going to church many times.  He had a great desire to worship the only true God, and he was continually worshipping until he died.



The Wairau Valley comprises an extent of about 100,000 acres of level land, 500 or 600 of which were in 1843 covered with wood, and the remainder with fern and grass.  There were then no traces of cultivation in any part of the valley or plains, the original inhabitants and possessors being the Rangitane, who were nearly extirpated about 1832 by the notorious chief Rauparaha.  The few who escaped him took refuge in the bush.  These lands were acquired by purchase by the New Zealand Company from the Maori chiefs, the respected owners.  Some of the chiefs objected to the sale, Warepori, by name Puakawa, being the leader of the opposition, but Matangi, the oldest, and formerly the most influential of these chiefs, acquiesced and the purchase was supposed to have been effected.  These lands were advertised for survey by contract, by Captain Wakefield, the New Zealand Company’s agent at Nelson, in March, 1843.  Barnicat, Parkinson, and Cottrell, with their men, forming in all a party of about forty, started by sea from Nelson on the 15th of April, and landed on the Wairau beach on the 25th. There they found a chief named Epuka, with two or three of his followers, who expressed no dissatisfaction at their arrival.  There were till then no other Natives in the valley, but in the course of two or three days a considerable number arrived from different parts of the strait, who manifested their intention to opposing the survey in different ways.  They pulled up the surveyors’ ranging-rods, destroyed a saw-pit, and on one occasion seven of them, armed with muskets, passed through the station, and talked threateningly to the men left in charge.  They abstained from personal violence, and towards the white men themselves appeared to entertain no unfriendly feelings, they had all along talked about Rauparaha’s approaching visit, who, they said, would send the white men away.  Their interpretations of the survey were complained of to Captain Wakefield.

Meanwhile Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, being at Porirua, in attendance on the court of land claim, made known their determination to prevent the survey from proceeding, and Mr Joseph Toms (better known as Geordie Bolts) repeatedly stated he understood from them that they would make a stand at Wairau, and lose their lives rather than allow the white men to take possession of that place.  Mr Spain, land commissioner, used his influence to pacify them, agreed to meet them at Port Underwood to investigate the land claims, as soon as possible after the adjournment

Image –
Te Rauparaha – the greatest Maori General who ever lived – photographed in Admirals uniform, while a prisoner, in 1846.


of his court at the end of June, and obtained from them a promise not to enter Wairau within the time appointed, nor do anything before his arrival.  Mr Toms offered to take Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata in his schooner to his own place in Cloudy Bay, and keep them until he received a communication from Mr Spain.  On the 28th of May Mr Toms received Rauparaha and party on board his schooner Three Brothers, of which he was captain and owner, at Porirua, and, having crossed to Mana Island, where he took in Rangihaeata and ten more Natives, making about twenty-five in all, he proceeded to Cloudy Bay.  It was understood on board that the Natives were going to fight for their land at Wairau.  They were armed with muskets and tomahawks, Toms himself giving them two muskets in exchange for a slave.  The party were landed at Port Underwood in Cloudy Bay on June 1st. They then started with other Natives in eight canoes and a whale-boat for the Wairau, where they arrived on the same day.  They appear to be have been a hundred in number, and their first visit was paid to a Mr Cave at Port Underwood.  The following account of their behaviour was taken from Mr Cave and communicated to the editor of the New Zealand Gazette, Wellington by Mr John Dorset, Esq., M.D., who accompanied the magistrates after the massacre.  From the information gathered from the whalers and the depositions taken at Cloudy Bay, it appeared to me that the Natives came fully prepared for mischief.  The person on whose testimony I placed most reliance was Mr Cave, who had been resident there for the last seven to eight years, and who had been always up to that time on the most friendly terms with the chiefs Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, but this time he noticed a peculiar ferocity about their bearing.  They asked for things in a way that brooded no denial, and seeing Mr Cave’s men together they sent them off by their own boats, with the exception of Mr Barnicoat and one man, who Rauparaha allowed to remain in charge of some provisions they had not room for.  In number they at this time amounted to 98, but subsequent arrivals swelled this number to 125, of whom about 40 were women and children.

The Police Magistrate at Nelson, having issued his warrant, and being informed of the number of the Natives, and of their being armed, resolved to attend to the execution of the warrant himself.  Accompanied by an armed force, he expressed the opinion that such a demonstration would prevent blood-shed, and impress upon the Natives a sense of the authority of the law.  It is certain that actual resistance was not anticipated, and that the moral effect of the presence of the force was wholly relied on.  The


men chosen were of the labouring class, and intended as a reinforcement to those employed in surveying.  Many of them had never handled a fire-lock in their lives.  The Government brig was then in Nelson harbour, and, at the request of Mr Thompson, Captain Richards consented to carry the party to the Wairau.  It then consisted of the following persons:- Henry Augustus Thompson, Esq., Judge of the County Court and Police Magistrate; Captain Arthur Wakefield, R.N., New Zealand Company’s agent for the Nelson settlement; and Captain Richard England, both Justices of the Peace; George Bycroft Richardson, Esq., Crown Prosecutor for Nelson; Mr James Howard, a warrant officer in the Navy and the New Zealand Company’s storekeeper; Mr Cotterell, surveyor, four constables, and twelve special constables.  John Brooks went as interpreter, having often been similarly employed.  The brig sailed on Tuesday, June 13th, in the Gulf.  On the same day she met the Company’s boat on her return from the Wairau.  With Mr Tuckett, Mr Patchett, a merchant and land agent, and Mr Bettoirs, surveyor, these gentlemen, at the request of Captain Wakefield, joined his party with the boat’s crew.  On the evening of Thursday, June 15th, and the following morning, the party landed at Wairau, where Mr Barnicoat, and his men joined them.  Muskets, and a cartouch bore of ball cartridge with each, were served out to the men, and cutlasses to as many as chose to avail themselves of them.  On Friday afternoon they ascended the right bank of the river about five miles.  On the way they met Puaka, who was accompanied by a small band of Natives.  They had been engaged in clearing land, but had been stopped, they said, by Te Rauparaha, who had gone higher up the river.  They appeared alarmed at the sight of the armed force, but their fears were allayed by Mr Thompson informing Puaka that the object of his journey had no reference to him or his party, but that he had a warrant against Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata on a charge of arson.  Mr Thompson also explained to him that no force would be used toward them, but that they would be required to go with him on board the brig, where the case would be investigated by himself and the other magistrates.  Puaka replied that the other chiefs would not believe but what he came to make war upon them, but agreed to carry them a message to the above effect.  He then went off in his whale-boat higher up.  Another party of Natives were met with, and a similar explanation given.  It being now too late to proceed, the magistrates and their followers encamped for the night at a pine-wood called Tua Mautine, and set a watch.  Their movements, it appears, had been all along watched and reported by scouts, and Mr Cave informed Dr. Dorsed that one of the spies they had left behind at the pah went up with the English party, counted every man, and, a short time


before the fight, crossed over the brook to his own party, gave the required information, and joined in the fight.

On the morning of Saturday, June 17th, two boats having been brought up, the Europeans embarked in them and went up the river a few miles.  They now amounted to 49, 33 of whom were armed with muskets, one or two carrying fowling-pieces.  Mr Howard had a cutlass; the remainder were apparently unarmed, but in general were furnished with pocket-pistols.  When mustered, before setting out, Captain Wakefield, having called order, said to them, “Men whatever you do, do not fire unless you get orders.”  Having ascended the river about four miles the party perceived some smoke issuing from the wood, and soon heard the voices of Natives, that of Rangihaeata being plainly distinguishable.  On advancing they found them posted in the wood, which is about 50 acres in extent, on the right bank of a deep, unfordable rivulet called Tua Marina, which flows into the Wairau on its left bank, and is, at this place, about 30ft wide.  They were squatting in groups in front of the dense-wood, on about a quarter of an acre of cleared ground, with their canoes drawn up on the bank of the stream.  The white men halted on the left bank, with a hill, covered with fern and manuka, behind them, and sloping upwards with several brows or terraces.  All bore arms, and were forbidden to cross the stream, or even show themselves until ordered.  All accounts agree in estimating the amount of Natives at about 120 to 125, including women and children.  The men amounted to about 80 or 90, about half of whom were armed with muskets, the rest with Native weapons.  At the request of the magistrates a canoe was placed across the stream to serve as a bridge, by a Native called Piccamarro (Big Fellow).  Mr Thompson, Captain Wakefield, Messrs Tuckett, Cotterell, Patchett, Brooks, the interpreter, and Maling, the chief constable, crossed over.  The Police Magistrate then called on Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata.  The former alone came forward, and Mr Thompson explained that he was the Queen’s representative, and that he had warrants against him and Rangihaeata for the destruction of property of Mr Cotterell, and that he must go on the brig with such of his followers as he chose, where the matter would be investigated. Rauparaha said that Mr Spain would inquire into and settle the business in a little while.  Mr Thompson explained that Mr Spain’s business lay in deciding as to land claims, that it was a question of destruction of property, and had nothing to do with the ownership of the Wairau.  Rauparaha requested to have the matter decided on the spot, and professed his readiness to make the compensation to Mr Cotterell, awarded by the magistrates, provided their decision pleased him.  Mr Thompson replied that the case must


be heard on the Government brig, whither Rauparaha must accompany him.  On Rauparaha’s reiterated refusal to comply with the proposal, put in direct terms to him, Mr Thompson said he would compel him.  Rauparaha said he did not want to fight, but if the white people fought he would fight too.  Mr Thompson, pointing to the armed men, threatened that he (Rauparaha) and his party would be fired upon.  Sixteen Natives at once sprang to their feet, and presented fire-arms.  Rangihaeata then came forward, and vehemently defied the Magistrates and their power, exclaiming that they did not go to England to interfere with the white people, and demanding why the latter came there to interfere with them.  The conversation became very rapid and violent, and Puaka, who, by frequently attempting to intercede seemed to have made matters worse, stepped forward with the Bible in his hand, and prayed that there may be no strife.  At last Mr Thompson cried out, “Captain England, let the men advance.”  The conference with the chiefs lasted about twenty minutes to half-an-hour.  Great trouble was taken to explain to them the non-connection with these proceedings with the land claims, and every assurance was given them of a fair hearing of whatever they may have to say in defence.  It was, besides, explained to them that they were not now to be taken to punishment, but to trial, because Mr Cotterell had complained against them, and that the complaint must be enquired into.  Mr Thompson addressed them through the interpreter Brooks, and a Bay of Island’s Native, who was present, explained to them every word that was said.  In the meantime the men left on the other side of the stream, had been divided into two bodies, consisting of sixteen and seventeen respectively, one under the command of Captain England, the other under Mr Howard.  When the dispute was at its highest Captain England, perceiving the danger of being separated from his men should a collision arise, proceeded to the creek with the intention of bringing them over in a canoe, which, with the consent of the Natives, was laid across it.  Mr Thompson, it seems, just then called to Mr Howard for his men, with some allusion to the number of Natives.  “I don’t care if there are five thousand of them,” was that gallant fellow’s reply as he led his party to the stream.  In the canoe they met Captain Wakefield, whom the rest of the gentlemen were apparently following.  “Keep your eyes on them, my men; they have their guns pointed at us,” said Captain Wakefield to the advancing men.  At this moment, observing some movement among the Natives to Mr Thompson or the gentlemen, he exclaimed in a loud voice, and with great energy, “Men forward!  Englishmen forwards!”- and according to the explicit and consistent evidence of Joseph Morgan, a shot was fired by the Natives, which lay his comrade Tyrell dead

Image –
Paora, Chief of the Ngatiwehiwehi.


at his feet.  These two men, with Northam, also killed at almost the same time and spot, were in advance of the party, and on the opposite bank of the stream, when this occurred.  Mr Thompson gave orders to fire.  Before he could be obeyed the Natives fired a volley, which was instantly returned.  The gentlemen were crossing the stream while this went on, Captain England, the last of them, wading through the water into which he had fallen.  The firing was kept up briskly on both sides for a few minutes, but the Natives had greatly the advantage – the bushes on their side being much closer. This, and their previous confusion from meeting in the canoe, may account for the greater loss of life among the Englishmen.  Immediately after crossing Mr Patchett received a shot in the side.  He leapt up, then fell, mortally wounded on the spot where he had been standing.  Mr Richardson went to his assistance, and bent over him to receive his last commands.  He said, “I am mortally wounded, you can do me no good; make your escape.”  Northam and Smith fell at this time at the same place.  Captain Wakefield, observing his men already retreating, and themselves exposed, ordered them to the hill to form.  At this moment, it was ascertained that the Natives were on the point of taking to flight, when Te Rauparaha, seeing his retreat – for there is no doubt he retreated immediately – excited his men, who, raising a war-cry, darted across the stream in pursuit of the Europeans.  These latter retreated, without order, in the direction of the hill.  Mr Thompson, Captain Wakefield, Captain England, and Mr Howard urged them, for God’s sake, to keep together but in vain.  On the first brow most strenuous efforts were made by the gentlemen to induce the men to stand and form.  Mr Howard called to them to fix their bayonets and come to the charge.  They, however, kept retreating up the hill, firing as they went.  Captain Wakefield, in ordering to prevent a further sacrifice of life, ordered the firing to cease.  On the second brow of the hill Captain Wakefield said their only chance of life was to throw away their arms and lie down.  He, Mr Thompson, and Brooks then again shouted kati (peace) and waved a white handkerchief.  The Natives now ceased firing, and as they came up the white men delivered up their arms at Captain Wakefield’s orders.  The whole party seem to have gone a little further down the hill, where most of the Natives, with Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, immediately joined them.  The Natives, having shaken hands with the prisoners, who were standing in a group, loaded their guns, and seated themselves in a half-circle before them.  The Natives brandished their tomahawks over the heads of the defenceless men.  Mr Thompson, observing this, said to Te Rauparaha: “Kati,” (don’t), which was repeated, and gold was offered as a ransom.  While standing quietly in a group they were joined by


Rangihaeata, who, having killed the wounded on his way, demanded the lives of those who had surrendered.  To this Rauparaha first objected, but on Rangihaeata calling on him not to forget his daughter (one of Rangihaeata’s wives who had been killed by a chance shot) he ordered no further opposition.  Standing in the midst of the Maoris the white men were easily separated.  While in this defenceless condition, without even a thought of treachery, Rangihaeata silently glided round, getting behind each, and with his tomahawk brained them all.  Mr Ironside, a Wesleyan missionary stationed at Cloudy Bay, had preceded them with two boats’ companies of whalers, and discovered seventeen of the dead bodies.  Captain Wakefield’s coat and waistcoat had been stripped off in savage derision.  The murderers had placed a piece of bread near, and a pistol was laid at the throat.  The Natives and the Europeans both agreed that the origin of the quarrel, in which twenty lives had been lost, was about the land, and that Rauparaha and Rangihaeata had proposed that Mr Spain and Mr Clark, should settle the matter concerning the land, after which they tore up the flags, threw down the poles which had been set up for marks, burnt the surveyor’s house, and sent him and his men off the land.  This led the surveyor to the residence of the Europeans – to the police magistrate, informing him that the Natives had not kept their word in leaving the matter to the commissioner, at which the Police Magistrate and the constables went to take Rauparaha and Rangihaeata.  The two latter did not yield to the summons – they would not go.  Then the Police Magistrate called the armed men to come forward and arrest them.  Just at this time a gun was fired from the Europeans, and a conflict ensued in which several fell on both sides, and the struggle began.  On 12th February, 1844, Governor Fitzroy called at Waikanae.  He landed there from the H.M.S. North Star.  His Excellency and suite were received by Rev. Octavius Hadfield, where the meeting was held concerning the Wairau massacre.  A large body of Natives, some five hundred, gathered, and were addressed as follows by his Excellency: – “I salute you, chiefs and elder men; I wish you health; may peace be among you.  I am glad to see you, I rejoice to meet you; I have much to say to you, many important things.  I have heard of all that has been done, some things good, but some very bad.  When I see your Church, the work of your own hands, and when I hear from your true friend, Mr Hadfield, what progress you have made in Christian knowledge I rejoice greatly, but when I hear of evil that has been done by some of you I can hardly believe it has been done by any of the same people – so bad is it in my sight.  I have heard of all that has happened at the Wairau from the Europeans.  It has grieved my


heart exceedingly.  I now ask you to tell your story that I may compare the two and judge fairly.  When I have heard your account of the dark day I will reflect, and tell you what I will do.”  Te Rauparaha then arose.  He said they [there] was no evil intended at the commencement of the affray.  Land was the foundation of all their troubles.  The Europeans say it is theirs, but who says so besides themselves.  The Tory came to Port Nicholson, and that was the commencement of the evil.  We heard of the sale of that place by Te Warepori and Puni.  We never agreed to that sale, and we never received any payment.  Who authorised him to sell the land?  The Wairau was taken away by Thompson and Captain Wakefield.  When we heard they were surveying the land we went to Nelson to forbid their doing so.  Captain Wakefield then said, “If you stop the surveying we will shoot you.”  I answered, “Well, what matter if you do; we shall lose our lives, but Wairau shall not be taken.”  Mr Thompson said to me, “Rauparaha, spare my life.”  I answered, “A while ago I wished to talk with you in a friendly manner, and you would not; now you say save me.  I will not save you; it is not our custom in war to save the chiefs of our enemies.  We do not consider our victory complete unless we kill the chiefs of our opponents.”  Our passions were much excited, and we could not help killing the chiefs, continued Rauparaha.

His Excellency arose and addressed the Natives as follows: – “Now I heard both sides; I have reflected on both accounts, and I am prepared to make my decision.  In the first place the Englishmen were wrong; they had no right to build houses upon land to which they had not established their claim the sale of which you disputed, and upon which Mr Spain had not decided.  They were wrong in trying to apprehend you – you who had committed no crime.  They were wrong in marking and measuring your land in opposition to your repeated refusal to do so until the Commissioner had decided on your claim.  I know that you repent of their conduct, and are now sorry those men were killed, and my decision is that, as the Englishmen were very much to blame, and as they brought on and began to fight, and as you were hurried into crime by their misconduct, I will not avenge their death.  In future let us dwell peaceably without distrust.  I have told you my decision, and my word is sacred.”  It was in 1850 that the New Zealand Company’s charter was surrendered, and all it’s interest in the Colony reverted to the Imperial Government.



The unique illustration given herewith is a representation of the coat of arms adopted by the Maori King Tawhiao, and appeared at the head of his address at the opening of his address of the General Assembly on the 2nd May, 1894.

Some instances of traditional tribal secrecy of the Maoris have lately been quoted, but they sink into insignificance when viewed alongside of the great national secret of the organised rising for the extermination of European immigrants.  In 1853 the consternation and distrust caused by the rapid increase of the Pakehas had become general throughout the North Island, and it was decided that something must be done to stem the enveloping current and drive back the tide of white humanity that they felt was beginning to press heavily upon them.  The northern tribes, although favourable to the extermination project, having been very roughly handled in the earlier wars, preferred to stand by till it could be seen with what success the national movement would be attended in the south.  The first step was to make Potatau king.  With few exceptions this was done with the wish of the whole Native population.  It was as a condition of the kingship that no more land was to be sold to Europeans, and no public roads were to be allowed to pass through Native territory; all criminals were to be protected from being legally prosecuted if they sought refuge under the wing to this newly-constituted sovereignty.

In 1845 the Governor, Sir George Grey, had prohibited the sale of arms and ammunition to the Maoris.  It was therefore expected that in 1853, when extreme measures had been decided on to kill off the white man, this prohibition would prove harassing and exasperating.  There were at that time only a few old fowling-pieces and flint-locks in the Maoris possession.  Immediately upon the arrival of Colonel Thomas Brown, the successor of Sir George Grey, an agitation was commenced for the repeal of the prohibition.  The refrain of the song almost always in the ear of Colonel Brown was: – “Friend, O Friend, the Governor, let us buy your guns and powder to shoot pigeons.”  Perseverance at last brought success, and the law in 1857 was repealed.  It is to-day a matter of surprise that the enormous purchases of arms and ammunition which followed did not arouse suspicion.  There are some few men, best able to form an opinion of what was going on, who warned the Government of the secret organisation proceeding, but they were pooh-poohed, and treated

Photo –
The Late Mr George Bevan. (brother of Thomas Bevan, sen.)


as alarmists.  Not one single instance is on record of any European having been warned by the Maoris of the intended fate of every Pakeha in the island until after the Government, in the blindest ignorance of what was going on, commenced war against the Natives.  In 1866 the Government began the struggle on a frivolous pretext.  A Taranaki chief refused consent to the sale of some land which a few of his tribe, in consequence of some dispute, wished to sell.  A conflict was entered into in utter ignorance of the precise nature of the difference, and war was precipitated before the Maoris had completed their organisation; so it was that good luck that saved the European population from much more direful misfortune than actually befel them.  A parallel was the Indian mutiny of 1857, which burst forth before the preparations of the conspirators had been perfected.  So crass was the obtuseness of the Stafford-Richmond Ministry that they induced the Governor to write a despatch to the Colonial Secretary (the late Duke of Newcastle), saying that twenty men and a block-house would be sufficient to coerce the Taranaki chief, William King – which meant the whole Maori nation – into submission.  Yet it transpired that 10,000 Imperial troops and 5000 Colonial volunteers met with very indifferent success.  It was after the institution of Potatau’s kingship that, in 1860, the war commenced.  The Maoris said, “The Governor has set fire to the fern at Taranaki, and the smoke will cover the whole Island.”  It was their fixed intention to kill every white man, woman, and child.  Eventually Potatau suffered very seriously, and the various tribes became mere remnants of what they formerly were, so great was the sacrifice of life.  Then a worse misfortune befel the Maoris in the spread of the Hau Hau religion, which had the effect of reducing them to a state of madness, and brought the end of the war near.

The Maori question is now practically at an end; the great promises of a Maori civilisation have become meaningless, and the bubble of professed intention to Christianise the Native race has burst.  Conditions that possessed all the protentialities for the development of beautiful peace, in which the civilised and Christianised Maori would live in prosperity side by side with their white brothers, are gone, as many a noble and well-fought-for idea has gone before.  The true level of the Maori intellectuality and morality has become tolerably well-known.  His numbers are fast diminishing, and although he may have been ignorant, superstitious, and cruel, he was brave and defended himself against oppression and foreign conquest with rare courage and skill.  The secret of his long and effective resistance to superior numbers might, with advantage, be studied and laid to heart by his conqueror.

[Pages 62 and 63 missing from original - text follows]



The Maoris do not have any tradition of a creation; they seem to have conceived the power of Nature very much in the same way as a generative cause of all things. They had no priests or temples, and their religion was of a most mythical description. There existed many legends, such as that of Maui having fished up the island from the bottom of the sea, and the Maori version of the origin of man and Uenguku (the Atua, or spirit of the rainbow) was considered the God of War, or war spirit, and as such was made the subject of incantations. But none of these myths were of general acceptation, and even the name Atua (Spirit, or God as it is often mistranslated) was sometimes bestowed upon a living chief. While there was an absence of religion, superstition abounded. All believed in and feared the taniwha (or water demons), and the demons of the woods and mountains; indeed the bravest warrior would not have walked at night over the most familiar road without a lighted brand in his hand to keep away malevolent spirits. The natural causes of diseases being unknown, they invented witchcraft, the belief in which was as universal as that spirits, on the death of bodies they had animated, departed for the land of the hereafter from Te Reinga, a rocky point near North Cape. Persons of all ages were subject to this dire disease of the imagination, the only chance of cure being to persuade the sufferers in the early stage of the disease that the charm of malign influence which bound them was broken by some superior power or skill. A person of note could not pass away but that his death was attributed to witchcraft, usually ascribed to the practices of an enemy at a distance. If, however, it suited the friends of the deceased to accuse some one near at hand who could conveniently be sacrificed, instant death was the smallest penalty inflicted. To these superstitions, chiefly, must be attributed the origin of the cruelty and cannabalism of which the Maoris were undoubtedly guilty. Their old mythical deities, Po, Rangi, Papa, Tiki, etc., were invoked alike by the whole Maori race, especially in the ceremonies required to free a person from the sacred restrictions comprised under the term “tapu.” They were the national gods, for they were their common ancestors, but at the same time every Maori tribe and family invoked independently each its own tribal and family ancestors. The religious rites are immediately connected with certain laws relating to things tapu, or tilings sacred or prohibited,


the breach of which law by anyone is a crime displeasing to the Atua of his family. Anything tapu must not’ e allowed to come in contact with any vessel or place where food is kept. This law is absolute. Should such contact take place, the food, vessel, or place becomes tapu, and one dare not touch these things.

The idea in which this law originated appears to have been that a portion of the sacred essence of an Atua, or of a sacred person, was directly communicable to objects which they touched, and also that the sacredness so communicated to any object could afterwards be more or less transmitted to anything else brought into contact with it. It was therefore necessary that anything containing the sacred essence of an Atua should be made tapu, to protect it from becoming polluted by the contact of food. Everything not included in the class tapu was called “ noa,” meaning free or common. Things and persons tapu, however, could be made noa by means of certain ceremonies, the object of which was to extract the tapu essence, and restore it to the source from which it originally came. It has been already stated that every tribe and family has its own especial Atua. The Ariki, or head of a family, in both male and female lines, is regarded by its own family with a veneration almost equal to that of their Atua (God). It forms, as it were, the connecting link between the living and the spirits of the dead, and the ceremonies required for releasing anything from the tapu state cannot be perfected without its intervention. Apart from the innate belief in the immortality of the soul, the Maoris venerated the spirits of their deceased ancestors, believing that these took an interest in their living descendants; moreover they feared them, and were careful to observe the traditional precepts recognised by them while alive. Among the Atua much held in awe by the Maoris were the Atua Noho-NVhare, or house-dwelling gods – spirits of the germs of unborn infants – also known as Kahukahu, the forms of makutu employed to counteract the curse of some other tohunga, or wiseman, for whoever practices makutu, even though he is skilled in the art, may have to yield to the mana of some other wiseman who can command the assistance of a more powerful Atua.

Maori education in the olden days consisted of running, wrestling, and reed throwing. Animated as all these pastimes were, quarrels were rare, and discord comparatively unknown. Days and weeks, and even months passed without an angry word being spoken – without an oath being uttered ; indeed the” Maori language was almost absolutely destitute of profane terms ; the sole curse it contained being such an awful one that it was only applied to a public enemy, or those about to become so, and its use was almost invariably a sign of immediate war.



The following interpretation of the address by King Tawhiao at the opening of the Maori General Assembly in 1894, appearing under the unique coat-of-arms as illustrated elsewhere, gives a fair idea of Maori methods of dealing with political matters: –




This is my word: Give me your attention that you may all hear what I have to say.  This is my first address to you this day.  My blessing upon the Right Honourable the Premier and his Ministry.  May god protect you all.  List to me the leaders, Ministers, Honourable Members, and others, that you may all clearly understand what I have to say.  As I am not clear on certain points during the preceding sessions allow me, I pray, some latitude.  Should any of these tribes wish to speak on the subject let them all agree so as not to delay the matter.  It would be well for them to appoint a head as a judge for them, and to take his decision as final.  If they take this advice that would find that the matter would be settled more quickly.  What the leaders, Ministers, and others have to say on the matter:  I will not say that it was not the head who completed the matter, but one and all of us.  I do not want you to think that I am egotistical in this matter, therefore I appoint this judge to settle the matter quickly.  In conclusion I may further say whatever you do, work with a will;  keep your object in view and work strong, and God will protect you all.



The Statutes: – The Acts in Brief: 1. The Federation of the Tribes of the North Island; 2. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; 3. The Prevention of Laying Poison on Maori

Image –
Ko te Mana Motuhake.


The Coat-of-Arms Adopted by the Maori King Tawhaio.


Settlements; 4. Investigation of Maori Lands; 5. The Justices of the Peace Act; 6. Appropriation Act; 7. Maori Lands Settlement Act of North Island; 8. Restriction of Sales of Maori Land.  The above Acts in rotation have been completed at the Assembly of the leaders and Ministers, together with the Honourable Members and general public, and sanctioned in the presence of His Majesty the King.  It is their desire to see this matter completed by this year’s session.  That is why I explain to you.  God listen to your Native servants.

From your friend – T. T. RAWHITI.


Mr Thos. Bevan’s father carried on rope-making for four years at Te Aro, Wellington, not at Petone, as mentioned on page 31.

The last paragraph on page 35 with respect to Ahitara and his wife should read: “Then a Korero began.  Atihara asked for utu (payment) for his wife before he would return, and for his wife to be given up, and while the korero was proceeding,” etc.

[Back cover]

[Front cover]


Mrs E. L Phillips
76 Queen St

It is 88 years ago to-day (July 5, 1844) since Kotiro, a young Maori woman, bathing in the sunny waters of Kororareka, spoke to Hone Heke as “Upoko poaka” (pig’s head).  This insult gave rise to the riotous protest of his people which ended in the cutting of the flagstaff and the burning  of the township by Heke’s tribe when ₤50,000 worth went up in smoke.

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Not a Hawke’s Bay book, but a valuable insight into early New Zealand life



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