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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C149-149
22 Montague Place
Dear Mr Chesson,
Had I been … I wd have driven down to see you after Mr Spencer was here this morning. He talks as if he had the control of affairs and the giving the natives a character says Tawhiao is a fool and talks … that Topia if full of rage and surly that Patara is wilful and eccentric and that it wd have been better if only Te Wheoro had come. That Rapiha is godly but very unintellectual and the he … privately from the Colonial Office more than he chooses to tell. And that the character of these maories is now well known. After a mass slurring fashion he spoke of them and I feel sure he has done so to others. The Colonial Office knows now all abt them from me he kept on asserting and much else wh I wish you cd have heard. He wished to stay and write a letter and then chatted freely abt himself and that his own means are tiny and that he has … heard what he supposes will hinder his getting married yet. He told me he was very independent spirited, his father being an American and his mother a German. That whilst he was anxious to be making money he did not choose to be put under any one. He has been for 5 years a deacon because he told me he wd not on conscientious grounds baptise some children and the Bp was angry. When I spoke again abt my wish they shd see dear Canon Liddon and asked if he wd go and translate literally what the maories speak, he replied that he cd not go Wedy Evg nor Saty Evg and then added ‘shall write now to this Canon Liddon and tell him to appoint an hour to see the natives only shall tell him he must not fix Wedy or Saty Evg as I cd not accompany them to interpret.’ Those were his very words, fancy proposing to write after that fashion to Dr Liddon, it recalled to me the syle in ch he addressed his letter to the S.P.C.K. the other day. I need not say that I thanked Mr Spencer courteously for wishing to be helpful but that to write after that fashion to Dr Liddon wd not be at all satisfactory. I then said he was the clergyman who took the maories two years ago to see the Prince of Wales. He then actually asked ‘did Tawhiao and the others really have an interview with the Prince, I don’t mean see him but speak to him.’ So I told him how it came about and wished him to tell the maories wh he did after his fashion. But his style of interpreting is not what I call good he gives the general sense of what the natives say but not in their sort of phraseology and to them he intersperses all one asks to have said with remarks of his own. He seems good natured too but is desperately offhand and cast and thinks he knows more abt the natives than we do and he has no idea of treating them with respect. I am so sorry for the aged Topia, he gave most of the money to defray the expenses of the expedition and he is the head of his tribe wh is not waikato and he is not as maories wd say a small man to be ignored and snubbed. ‘It is all his own fault, he is a surly fellow’ is Mr Spencer’s phrase. The poor man I believe is brooding over things and feels in the dark abt proceedings and Te Wheoro is of another tribe and says laughing says he has nought to do with Topia’s tribe. Its just maori fashion for the tribes to stand aloof. But more and more do I wish that you cd get some one speaking maori to go and see him and talk to him and discover what is his trouble. Each time I have seen Topia he has been most courteous and pleasant. I wonder if he is wishing to see a Roman Catholic priest and to receive holy com. He is lodging at some Tailor’s house. I don’t know whose. If I did not suffer so and cd possibly bear driving abt I wd have gone to see him. I wish I had here with me that pamphlet of the Aborigines Protection Society wh contains the acct of … and Tawhanga’s interview with the Prince. This morning Patara, Te Wheoro, and Rapiha were most strong in asserting that they did not call Tawhiao king, that they never addressed him as such, that the name was given him hoping he wd be a power in maori land and restrain the lawless, but that they cd not get back the lost power wh the great chief exercised years ago and that being the case the name must go, ‘but once give a title and its professor will not drop it, so it must go on so long as he lives.’ But they all expressed themselves, one after another as very hopeless wh is I think due to Mr Spencer’s influence. If instead of saying that their cause has been ruined by bringing the king and going to live at Mrs Saintsbury’s, Mr Spencer wd talk to them of the fairness wh Lord Derby and others will exercise in dealing with their difficulties and above all that our heavenly father loves them and will bless them, it wd be best. At prayer he did not ask them to kneel. He does not think the outward posture much signifies ‘not with men of this sort’ before them he said. He a deacon is to be left in charge of the London parish, a Wedy Evg service and on Sunday services and he will have to take Baptisms and marriages he told me, and … but exlaim what abt Holy com. And he said, oh its not the custom often at that church. But I must not worry you with long details, only my heart is so … for I feel sure that his accts to others convey a bad and poor impression of the natives, and as to trying to influence them, he told me every one must go his own way. Sidney Taiwhanga was an able interpreter and far superior to Mr Spencer.
I gladdened Skidmore by accts of his part of NZ in an Auckland Ch Gazette and then as he talked abot his good tennent Mr Hubbard and the goodness of some of the English in that part of waikato I asked him how it was Taiwhanga did not come and whether it was for lack of funds and he replied, quite enough was promised to bring several to England but the Ngapuhi tribe did not care to spend so much money to send men over unless their great chief Kawhiti wd come, as the king and Patara represent waikato and Te Wheoro the members of the House of Representatives and Topia is the great man from Whanganui. The Ngapuhis if they sent wished to send as high a representative. So I asked did Tawhanga collect and receive the money to bring over any. ‘No he got all their signatures from those who promised who wd of course have paid into the Bank the sums if the Ngapuhis had come.’ I felt glad to hear this, and don’t believe Sidney to be dishonest.
Mr Spencer told me today he was anxious to keep Te Wheoro with him until Nov if his expences cd be paid and that it wd by very nice to have him etc etc. And this afterwriting me word that he Te Wheoro was a man of great intellect but full expedience and very indifferent to religion and wilful to a degree! I wish you lived near and had heard the sort of way he spoke very disparagingly of all the natives today except Ropiha and Te Wheoro and when I proceeded to rehearse that they were representative men he replied, yes but where’s the good of that. In talking to the natives I think he disheartens them and he is always in a desperate hurry. Today he went off to see his friends Mr and Mrs Stubbs, cd not stay a moment longer was there 2 hours and dashed in to see if any letter had come. He wrote a letter of thanks to the Bible Society in maori before the maories came in, and then told them he had done so and because it was proper to give thanks and asked them to sign it and one said, let us hear it first so he read it and the 3 maories who were here signed it. Patara remarking ‘that do well.’ I don’t call that a letter of thanks from the maories. However all that is immaterial he wd say. He has no head power neither does he attempt to translate the maories speeches but says ‘they say so and so’ putting it all briefly and missing out all the beauty and peculiarity of their phraseology. I shall like to hear from you if anything definite gets settled as to their departure or aught else. The Carters of … who are going away on the 18th wished me to go down to them if I left next Saty as had so if the maories were leaving this week. If I can be of any use to them I wd stay on thro next week. A Mr Fredk Maunsell and son of Archdeacon M from NZ was the gentleman aged abt 30 they tell me who called on them and spoke maori fluently. They have left his address …
Yrs sincerely …