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Incidents of The Maori War

Chapter II

page 32

Chapter II.

The Maories—Their improvement—What ought to be our Policy with regard to them—Their previous condition—Effects of Missions among them—The Bishop of New Zealand—An opinion of Governor Grey's—Muscular appearance of the Maories—Maori Women—Temperature of the North Island—Costume of Maories—Their Mats—Displays of energy—War Dances—Their arms—Religion—Tapu—A proud White Man—The King movement—Originated with Hongi Heka—The Rev. Mr. Taylor—Taranaki Land League—The Rev. Mr. Buddle—Tarapipipi—Teawaitoa—Te Whero Whero becomes King Potatau—Reasons for not opening Roads—Anecdote of a Traveller—Advice to Officers—How we should deal with the Natives—Loss of Children—Abuse of Tobacco—How the Rising Generation can be improved.

The fine race of Maories of New Zealand were lately believed to be a people who had been subdued, civilized, and christianized without war. It is true that they have page 33wonderfully improved by being in contact with the just administration of British law, and by the active influence of the missionaries, from what they were twenty years ago. No more cannibalism, less party, feuds, extended cultivation, a taste for European clothes and comforts spreading among them. Yet, as long as they kill prisoners and wounded men, it is evident there is much to be done in remote parts of the country for their improvement, and also to _preserve them as a people who may be useful to themselves, and assist us in making the islands of New Zealand great colonies, and, with us, to defend them from attacks from without. Besides its being our duty to preserve aborigines and not destroy them, God's creatures, given an earthly inheritance as well as ourselves, it appears to me that we are too apt to lose sight of this important object, namely, converting the natives into allies for the conservation of their native islands, and our settlements established on them. We are too apt to legislate as if for a white colony, quite forgetting the rights and claims of the original lords of the soil, a noble race of aborigines page 34physically, and a great number of them with very acute intellects.

The frightful state of things in New Zealand from 1831 to 1837 is recorded in the pages of Polock and other authors; tribe then warred against tribe; the land ran with blood; horrors inconceivable were perpetrated; not only were the slain in battle eaten, but slaves for slight offences were knocked on the head, cooked and devoured! I have seen the old chief Teraia, who partook of his last human feast in 1843, he is said also to have eaten seven wives; they could not have agreed with him, for his head is shaky, and though it was tried, he could not be photographed.

If men of energy, daring, and intelligence, like Bishop Selwyn, and many of his coadjutors, of various denominations of christians, had not devoted themselves to the task of conversion, and traversed the length and breadth of the land, principally on foot, endured the extremes of heat and cold, perils by land and water, scanty fare, drenching rain, stifling accommodation, crowded wharrés or huts, the plague of insects and other disagree-page 35ables, while engaged in the noble task of spreading the truths of the gospel of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in this remote and heathen land, years must have elapsed before our colonists could have ventured to settle in New Zealand, or merchant ships in safety visited its shores.

Among the perils to which the christian teachers of the Maories were subject, was being knocked on the head from sudden passion. Thus the Bishop of New Zealand on one occasion was remonstrating with a wild young man about his conduct, and he said, " you will not listen, your ears are full of tobacco," on which the other went off for his tomahawk, and was running at the Bishop with deadly intent, when he was held by the other natives till his passion cooled. The Maories consider it a great insult to allude to their head in any way.

The successive governors of New Zealand, Captains Hobson and Fitzroy, R.N., Sir George Grey, Colonel Wynyard, (acting) and Colonel Gore Browne, were selected for their character and ability for this high office, and page 36administered it faithfully; yet, as Governor Grey remarked, " I feel confident that regarded as a mere mony investment, the very best investment the country can make is to send out in advance, and far in advance of either colonists or merchants, missionaries who may prepare the way for those who are to follow them." We may add not political missionaries, or who would interfere with the Government, but who would devote themselves to their own particular office, inculcating habits of industry and temperance " in all things," and the principles and practice of our holy religion among the aborigines they profess to instruct.

The fresh sea breezes which blow across the high mountains, the extensive plains, and the noble forests of New Zealand, seem to drive away almost all unhealthy influences from these favoured islands of the Southern Ocean. The brown race, therefore, which inhabits them, is generally of large proportions, lusty, and muscular. They are usually good-natured, and are easily excited to mirth, at the same time like the volcanic fires which exist in the page 37northern island, they will burst out suddenly, if aroused, into the fiercest passion and uncontrollable anger.

Originally from the Malay stock they are active and brave, at the same time exercising great cunning and cleverness in taking advantage of and contriving cover for themselves in their pahs, or stockades, and strongholds, and not throwing away their lives too recklessly. Young women are sometimes seen of considerable personal attractions with fine black eyes, luxuriant hair and good teeth. A lower lip stained blue, and some tatooing on the chin detract from their natural beauty in the eyes of strangers, but this seems to have been got over in some cases, after a residence in the island, when a Maori wife is selected by a Pakeha or white man.

The custom of tatooing the face and parts of the body is still maintained in New Zealand, though not to that extent it was formerly. The older New Zealanders we see, that is those over fifty years of age, are generally complely tattooed in circles and segments of page 38circles on the face, many of the younger men partially so, or not at all.

The wavy black hair of both sexes is so full and thick, that it seems a complete protection to the head from any harm the New Zealand sun can do them. The extreme of heat I experienced in the province of Auckland was 86°, and I have been awoke repeatedly from cold, when in a tent during a whole winter, and found the thermometer at 30°, and the water frozen in the tumbler on the table. But after much experience of Canadian winters, also Russian, and when we used to look about zero, and under it, for the degrees of cold, the above seemed very trifling.

The Maories seemed unhappy in rain, cowering in their huts in the months of June, July and August, when rain fell in torrents and the country was deep in mud.

A Maori is a much more picturesque object in his ample flax mat with a richly coloured border and ornamented with dog skin, or in a blanket white or red, than in European clothes. Our worthy missionaries do not seem to regard it as of much consequence how page 39these people are attired, but it is evident that to dress men in shabby black coats, or trowsers, and indifferent hats or caps cannot improve their appearance—whereas a sort of crimson or blue kilt with the naked legs would suit their figures and give them freedom of action, and a simple jacket and vest and red scull cap would complete their costume. If ever embodied as soldiers or as a police corps, red scull caps and kilts, or knickerbockers and blue jackets would suit their bronzed skin well, and would probably be popular with them.

The peculiar squares and vandyke patterns of the borders of the handsomest mats might be copied advantageously in cloth of European texture, and exhibiting equally the bright white, red and black colours to which the Maories are partial.

The restless energy of the New Zealanders was evinced in their readiness for warlike enterprizes, in the strong desire of many of them to see foreign countries, and in their frequently engaging in whaling voyages on page 40which their strength and courage rivalled that of the white sailors.

The rapidity with which they construct pahs of heavy timber for a permanent defence, and of lighter pickets for a temporary purpose, and to prevent their rifle pits in the rear of the stockade from being rushed, also their power in paddling, and their skill in managing their canoes, either for warlike or peaceable purposes demand admiration.

But when working themselves up to a state of frenzy, previous to engaging their enemies, and with frantic gestures and yells demoniacal dancing the haka or war dance, the evil passions which lurk in man's heart were evinced in their most terrible form. The ground shook under their heavy tread, as with distorted faces and tongues thrust out, eyes glaring, and limbs distorted, and brandishing a club, paddle, or fire-arm, they hurled defiance at their enemies. With the native mere or club, and hani or spear they soon came to close quarters and engaged in deadly attempts to brain or stab each other. With fire-arms the contest was sometimes prolonged at a distance page 41from each other and taking advantage of cover.

In the Taranaki war they uncovered when fighting, or wore merely a shirt and trousers with one or two or three cartouche boxes strapped across their breast, or worn diagonally across the body. Sword, or bayonet are not at present used by the Maories, the flat club or mere supplied their place, or a small patiti or hatchet, or tomahawk.

Slaves were made of many of the prisoners of war, or they were knocked on the head and eaten previous to 1843, since that time there has been no human feast. Still wounded men were killed, as was deplorably shewn in 1860 in the Puketakauere affair.

The religion of the Maories was very indefinite. They believed in an atua or spitit, and in a water-god, and imagined that ghosts walked at night.* I have seen a Maori hurrying home at dusk, even lately, in consequence of this superstitious dread. The tohungas or priests seemed to encourage these page 42absurd notions to increase their own influence. Since the diffusion of Christianity among the Maories there has been a wondrous change for the better among them. The morning and evening prayers of many of them, their abstaining from labour and engaging in devotion on the Sabbath, are examples to many people calling themselves civilized, but who are very careless in religious matters.

The tapu is still in force in many parts of the northern island, but is also wearing out with the spread of intelligence. It was a simple means of defining property, also of shewing respect to the dead, making sacred their wahitapu or burial plaCe.

Travellers must remark in all parts of the world that people are alike in this respect, if you are kind to them they will be kind to you, "act as you wish to be acted upon" is the best rule to follow with the Maori, as with other people. Some men in look or manner betray themselves.

Thus a Maori was asked, "why don't you like such a white man?" "Oh, he is a king, when we go to him he puts out a finger, and page 43says two or three words to us and goes in again. We don't like that."

"Whatever others do, do thou the right,
Steadfast in virtue's straight and open way,
Tho' others do the deeds that need the night,
Do thou the deeds that shine in lightest day,"

should be our rule in our dealings with aborigines, remembering what an American Indian said, "We wish to live and hold the land which God has given us, and our fathers have won. We are poor, but we have hearts; strangers might bring death to us, but we do not wish to die or pass away, or to part with our country."

Some unjustly attribute the King movement to recent European promptings; we must look a little further, and we shall find that the renowned warrior, Hongi Hika of the Ngapuhis, was the first Maori chief who, after his visit to England in 1820, when he received gifts from George IV, first entertained the idea of being the supreme chief, or King of New Zealand, and out of mere personal ambition. For seven years he waged wars and made con-page 44quests, and ate the slain in the Taranaki and on the banks of the Thames and Waikato rivers, till a fortunate bullet at Whangaroa terminated his blood-stained existence. Many hill sides, terraced for cultivation, I have seen lying desolate and without an inhabitant in sight, owing to the devastating wars of this most selfish and cruel conqueror.

The Rev. Mr. Taylor of Whanganui in his excellent work on New Zealand. "Te eka a Maui" describes how Matene Te Whiwhi of Otaki was the next who desired to be a king, but he was not successful in uniting the tribes under one head. And then arose the Taranaki Land League, some patriotic natives desiring that the land they received from their ancestors might be handed down to their children, and fearing, they said, the demoralization of the Pakeha towns if they sold their lands for the purpose of European settlement, then was instituted " Te Tikanga o te Iwi," the law of the tribe, that no individual of a hapu (family) should alienate land without the consent of the whole tribe.

The present King movement (very clearly page 45described in a pamphlet by the Rev. Mr. Buddie, Wesleyan clergyman) was initiated in the Waikato district by the Ngatihaua chief Tarapipipi (William Thompson). He was the son of the great warrior Te Wahana, but brought up under Church Missionaries. He has evinced great intelligence, a great thirst for knowledge, has earnestly desired to save and improve his nation, and by peaceable means. Disunited, it was evident the tribes were destroying each other with war, and that adopting the principle of Whakatokohitanga, or union under one head, might strengthen and preserve them, if wholesome law and order prevailed. Tarapipipi was joined by the chief Te Heu Heu of the central district of the Taupo Lake, and taking the burning mountain of Tongariro as a centre, it was intended that with a large radius from it, and within an extensive circumference, a Maori king should be set up, and no more land be sold to Europeans. But Te Awaitoa (William Taylor) of Waingaroa on the west coast, a great warrior in days gone by, and since his connection with the Wesleyans a man of peace and of excel-page 46lent understanding, opposed the King movement.

Te Parapipipi, Te Heu Heu and others persisting in their intention to have a king, the old and popular warrior chief Te Whero Whero was elected, and under the name of Potatau was removed from Mangere on the Manukau to Ngaruawahia at the central and very fertile delta of the junction of the Waikato and Waipa rivers, where his Runanga or council legislated in his name, he being merely their head. There, with a sentry to guard his flag, seated on the ground in his wharré or house and wrapped in his blanket, his counsellors did the work of governing for him and issuing edicts in his name.

A grand objection to opening roads through Maori land is from the idea: " Your white doctors," say the Maories, "open a man's body when he dies to see the weakness which killed him. We do not want our weakness to appear by opening roads into our country." Again Tarapipipi was told one day by a com municative white friend, " In history we find that the Romans could not conquer the En-page 47glish till the roads were made through the country, then it was accomplished."

An amusing instance may be given of how the Maories administered justice, when the Pakeha or white man travelled among them; and before this war began one could travel the North Island with as much safety as any part of Europe, and in many pahs experience great friendliness and hospitality.

It was the custom for some clergymen who came to New Zealand for the first time, to travel through the country with a pupil or two to see the land and its people among whom they intended to labour. One reverend gentleman, newly arrived and ignorant of the language, was engaged on a pedestrian tour of this sort accompanied by two pupils. They had three Maori attendants with them, two to carry food and the other a large clothes bag. As they proceeded, the burthen of the two first got lighter, but the clothes carrier had the same weight as at starting, and he did not like it. After one of the meals he refused to shoulder his load, and the leader of the party got angry and taking out his watch said," I page 48give you five minutes, and if you don't take up your load I'll punch your head!" The man not knowing what all this was about, took no notice, " he did not see it." At the end of five minutes the minister pointed to the load. The Maori shook his head and immediately had his face slapped.

After a little delay the Maori took up his load and trudged on with the rest. They came up to a "Pakeha Maori man," an Englishman who had lived among the natives and knew their language. After a little parley he said to the minister, " I find you have got into a great scrape, you have struck a Maori and will have to appear before a native Komiti (committee) when we halt at night." They arrived at a Kainga or village, and by the fire-light a long discussion seemed to be going on. At last one of the elders of the village delivered himself in this fashion to the minister, " You have committed a great offence, you have struck a Maori without sufficient cause, but as you are a clergyman and a stranger, and know no better, we only fine you five shillings, but don't do this page 49again." Officers of the army who are likely to reside some years in this noble colony of New Zealand, should study the language of the natives. It will afford them pleasure and facilities in travelling, and-their acquirements may be recognised by an appointment. I studied Maori for some weeks, and found it easy as compared with some other languages I had tried to acquire for temporary purposes. When leave of absence is obtained, it should be devoted to better objects than the mere destruction of animal life, for which our countrymen Have such an extraordinary propensity. "This is a fine morning, what shall we kill to day?" I have been obliged to kill a good deal also, but it was in Africa, to live.

It is the object of all human and right-thinking men to preserve the fine race of Maories, and to secure them in ample possessions for their present numbers, say 56,000, and for the possibility of future increase, which may take place in consequence of the absence of intestine feuds, and from improved modes of living. At the same time consider-page 50ing that nearly the whole of the middle island is open to British settlement, and great tracts in the northern island, there is abundant space for Kiri ma (white skins.)

Natives being governed through themselves will be the great source of contentment among them. Better pay than £10 a year to native assessors is requiredo to make them believe that the Government really cares for their welfare;, this should always be studied, also the advancement of educated natives to places of trust and authority in proof of this.

It should ever be remembered by the natives, that since the introduction of Christianity and government in the land, the people have been enabled to live at peace among themselves. The death of so many children among the native's is a subject of serious inquiry. It has been attributed by themselves to witchcraft, an evil spirit, the arrival of the Pakeha, and other absurd causes, but the mistakes of the parents cause it chiefly. The Rev. Mr. Whiteby gave the Maories excellent advice about the management of their children. It appears that the mothers, previous to confine-page 51merit, are not particular as to their diet, and they dig, and carry heavy burthens as if nothing was going to happen to them. After the birth of the child it is not wrapped up in proper clothes, nor is it regularly washed as the Pakeha children are, it may also be put to sleep with adults instead of separately. Again, the close, ill-ventilated wharrés of the old natives are not favourable to child life, smoky also, and the floor perhaps damp. During the day the child is carried naked on the bare back of one of its parents, as often the father as the mother, one blanket covering both—this is not a wholesome way. As to food, the Maories are careless about using salt with their potatoes and fish, and the taste for putrid corn (by steeping it for days in water) must be very prejudicial to them. Excessive smoking of both parents must tell injuriously on the children, whatever the advocates for the " weed " may say, and this is the testimony of a missionary who has lived twenty years in Maori land, and who told me that from excessive use of tobacco, the Maories who used to get up at the dawn, are now page 52found rolled in their blankets at seven o'clock and have lost much of their old energy; but the same is observed with pain among the youth of the white men of all nations.

"Accursed tobacco, that from north to south.
Invades our nostrils and pollutes the mouth,"

we may well exclaim if its abuse tends to enervate and render listless those who are " slaves to the pipe." I found it useful in keeping in order wild fellows with whom I had to do, in the wilderness of Africa, and in the American forests, but if a man is gifted with self-control, he does not require to put the restraint of the pipe on himself.

In former times, infanticide (of female children) sometimes prevailed, and it was said that if a child was let live for one day, the mother got so fond of it she could not destroy it; but I have not understood that children now perish in the above dreadful manner, for now the parents seem so fond of their children, that they, in the excess of their grief when they lose them, will spend five or six pounds for a coffin, and then stint and starve them-page 53selves and their living children, instead of buying and keeping cows to rear them. But time and the progress of intelligence will remedy all this it is to be hoped

Inculcating the social obligations arising from the marriage of a man to one wife, and not to a plurality of wives, or living with mistresses—in short, a change from a careless to a correct and moral manner of living, will afford the best chance for Maori or any other children to be brought up respectably and in New Zealand, belonging to the "Rangatiratanga," or order of gentleman, whilst "happy is the people whose God is the Lord."

* Sir George Grey in his "Polynesian Mythology" enters fully into this matter.