1863 Meeting of Settlers and Maoris at Hawke's Bay, New Zealand



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Description Full description from Page 446 of the October 31 1863 Illustrated London News:


The Engraving on page 436 represents a large meeting of the European and Maori inhabitants of the province of Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, held at the Pah Whakairo, a native village, about ten miles from Napier, on the 20th of July last. It is taken from several views of the meeting photographed by Mr. Charles H. Robson.

Mr. Grindle, Government interpreter at Napier, has obligingly furnished us with some particulars of the meeting, and of the condition and general conduct of the Maoris in that settlement, at this juncture full of interest.

Throughout the whole of the disturbances, so frequent of late years in New Zealand, he says that the natives of that part of the country have always maintained the strictest neutrality and evinced an earnest desire to cultivate the good will and friendship of the settlers. Even in times of strife and bloodshed their conduct has ever been marked by an anxiety to respect the lives and property of their white neighbours. This feeling was strongly exemplified in the years 1857-8, during the feud between the Hapuku and the Moananui, two rival chiefs of the province. At that period, although the contending tribes were often hard-pushed for provisions, the sheep and cattle of the settlers grazed quietly in the vicinity of the fortified villages, and not a single one was ever known to be missing; and the settlers themselves were earnestly warned to avoid approaching too near the contending parties whilst engaged, lest some one might be injured by a stray bullet. This quarrel had its origin in disputes and jealousies arising from the sale, by one of the chiefs in question, of blocks of land to the Government, which, according to native custom, implicated the Government also, as the purchasing party. Their conduct, therefore, towards the settlers on that occasion certainly evinced a remarkable degree of forbearance for men of untutored minds. [sic]

At a later date, when the famous King movement was fast gaining ground, and many tribes were pledged to is support, these people, although professedly in favour of the movement, uniformly retained their resolution to preserve peaceful relations with their European neighbours. And at the present crisis in New Zealand, whilst the powerful and warlike tribes of the Waikatos, with whom the King movement originated, are at war with the Government, and their emissaries continually traversing the country exciting and urging the tribes to revolt, the people of Hawke's bay remain steady in their resolution to preserve peace in their own district, and publicly declare that, although morally supporting the confederation of the tribes for the maintenance of their nationality, they will, if necessary, resist by force any attempt of other tribes to disturb the peace of the province.

The meeting represented in our Engraving was called for the purpose of celebrating the completion of a large flour mill erected by the natives of the district, with the assistance of the Government, at the Pawhakairo village. The Europeans were invited to attend to afford each party an opportunity of expressing to the other their doubts and fears in the present aspect of affairs in the country. A large company assembled, amongst whom were many ladies and gentlemen from the town of Napier, and Donald M'Lean, Esq., the Superintendent of the Province. This gentleman was for many years at the head of the Native Department under the general Government of the colony, and is a man of great experience in all matters affecting the natives. Possessing the entire confidence of both races, and a perfect knowledge of the Maori language and character, no man could be better adapted to allay the feelings of distrust naturally awakened in the breasts of these bold and warlike people by the stirring events passing in other parts of the colony.

Many chiefs, representatives of various tribes, addressed the meeting, and all expressed their unaltered determination to live in peace and amity with their white neighbours. But they said the measures then being taken by the local Government gave them much uneasiness. "Why," said they, "are stockades being erected and men being drilled? There can be no necessity for these preparations here. We have always been your friends, and have never given you cause to be suspicious of us, nor have we ever mistrusted you; but now we are in doubt as to the meaning of these proceedings." They were answered by his Honour the Superintendent, who informed them that the militia were called out pursuant to instructions from the Governor; that this was usual amongst Englishmen in every country, even in times of peace; that it had already been done in every other province in the island; that warning letters were continually being received from loyal natives in other districts of meditated attacks upon the town of Napier by the Waikatos, now in arms against the Government, together with other disaffected tribes; and that the stockades, therefore, and all the other preparations, had no reference whatsoever to them, but were merely precautionary measures to guard against threatened incursions of hostile tribes. His Honour spoke at some length, and the result was that the natives were fully satisfied, and a paper was drawn up by them, and signed by all the principal chiefs, declaring their fixed determination to maintain peace in the province and to assist the "Pakehas" in repelling any hostile tribes. This, together with the speeches of the chiefs, was afterwards published in a local newspaper printed in the Maori language, called the Waka Maori o Ahuriri, or the "Maori Canoe of Ahuriri."

The gentleman near the centre of the engraving, with his head uncovered, is Mr. M'Lean, the Superintendent of the province, At his feet is an aged chief, named Porokuru, seated in a wheelbarrow, in which he had been conveyed to the spot, being unable either to walk or stand erect from age and decrepitude. He was the first to address the meeting, and, in doing so, expressed his heartfelt pleasure at seeing so many of his white friends gathered around; declaring, in a song with which he opened his speech, that the Maoris had only been preserved from total extinction as a people by the timely arrival of the white man. In the foreground are a number of calabashes, containing "titis" - small birds, cooked and preserved in their own fat. These birds are much esteemed by the natives as an article of diet. They are very rich and luscious. The pillars in the background are specimens of uncouth carving, common in all fences around native villages.

During the course of the day the meeting adjourned for the purpose of partaking of the refreshments provided by the natives for their European friends.

The importance of this meeting cannot be too highly estimated at the present juncture of affairs in the colony. There can be no doubt it had its due effect upon other tribes. Some emissaries of the tribes in rebellion were present, and it is to be hoped that the report they made to their own people of the peaceful resolves of the Hawke's Bay naives had the effect of somewhat dampening their ardour of rebellion.

The province of Hawke's Bay is one of the principal grazing districts in the colony; it possesses abundance of fine agricultural land, and has a climate proverbially mild and healthy. Its native population is about 3600, and the European population about 2600.
Date 31 October 1863(1863-10-31)
Source The Illustrated London News
Author M. Jackson
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