Tawhiao to Frederick Chesson, 22 March 1884, G99 Vol 1 – 8

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 22 / G99 Vol 1 – 8


Waikato New Zealand
March 22 1884

To the Secretary and Members of the Aboriginal Protection Society

To Mr W. Chesson.

Greetings to you and your honorable friends. I beseech you to extend your love to us, in assisting us and our friends, the Chiefs of the Maori people, who are being wrongfully treated by the Government of New Zealand, who are injuring my people, by taking away our land, by crushing the power of the Maori chiefs, and by taking away, also, the benefits (as laws) which the Queen and our Ancestors the Maori Chiefs of New Zealand consented to in the Treaty of Waitangi, in which the Queen fully consented to protect the Maoris from being molested by any other nation.

2nd. It (the Treaty) ceded to the Maoris their power and chieftainship.

3d. It ceded to the Maoris their lands, their villages, their plantations and their fisheries.

4th. It grants to the Maoris the same (laws) privileges which are granted by the Queen to her English subjects.

Hon. friends, all the laws of that treaty have been trampled upon by the government who the Queen promised should be the protectors of the Maoris. They have waged war against the Maoris. They have taken away our lands. They have also trampled upon the authority of the chiefs, which the treaty promised should be invested in them. And they have taken away the laws which they said should be given to the Maoris.

Hon. friend, perhaps you and your fellow workers will allow me to lay before you these injuries and I pray that you and your powerful friends may see it good to cherish us, and help us in giving utterance to these grievances to the Queen, that the Maori tribes may be delivered from all these kinds of evil.

1st. When Commissioners were appointed by the Queen to buy the lands of the Maoris, purchases of land were made from tribes in Waikato who did not own the land, the rightful owners being in ignorance, and when the government sent their surveyors to survey the land, the rightful owners prevented the survey. The surveyors came again, and they were sent away again. After this the Maoris felt it necessary to make some law to prevent the unlawful sale of their lands, as had hitherto been the case, and to allow them to dispose of their own lands at Hauraki, Taupo, Taranaki, Whanganui, and other parts of New Zealand and these tribes were called ‘the tribes retaining the land.’ A line was drawn at the Mangatawhisi river to divide the land to be retained from that which was for sale, and a post was erected at the river in the year 1854.

In 1857, the tribes with their chiefs in the country south of Auckland appointed my father, Potatau, to be kind or head to protect the laws and his Maori people, lest disturbance among one another should break out. To this my father assented under the protection of the Queen.

In 1858 the governor bought Waitara from Te Teira (Taylor) to which Wiremu Kingi (William King) and his tribe objected. The government considered the sale of Te Teira to be valid and condemned Wiremu Kingi although he was the chief of the tribe and of the land. The Governor sent surveyors on to the land and Wiremu Kingi and his tribe turned them off. The Government then sent soldiers who attacked Wiremu Kingi and his people, whilst they were still on their own land. Waitara and all the land at Taranaki had been taken in war by my father who afterwards gave it back to Wiremu Kingi and the tribes of Taranaki and therefore the Waikato people sympathized with Wiremu Kingi.

The Ngatiamapoto tribe went to Wiremu King’s assistance with whom the government were fighting. The war between the government and the natives of Taranaki increased and the lands were confiscated.

In 1863 the government sent soldiers to Waikato to crush the laws made by the Maori with regard to retaining their lands. The army crossed the boundary line of the river Mangatawhisi and killed the Maoris on their own land, and confiscated it without any enquiry or investigation. The war and the confiscation of land by the government went on and increased all over the island. Hon. friend, it is our opinion that it is not just for the Queen’s subjects to kill the Maori tribes whom the Queen promised to protect.

In 1866, the government made a law to purchase what was left of the Maori lands and to put aside the authority of the Maoris with regard to their lands. And for this purpose established the ‘native lands court’. But the Maoris would not consent that the Europeans only should make the laws, for the Maori lands, and although they insisted that it should not be, the Europeans would not consent, because it was their desire that the Maori lands should be quickly disposed of and therefore they persisted in making this law, and appointed European judges to obliterate the title of the Maori to his lands.

The Europeans did not understand the Maori titles. What they wanted was to have the jurisdiction over the Maori lands, this could give the land of the lawful owners to one to whom it did not belong, and if the lawful owners did not attend the court, their land was given to others, even while they saw that there were lawful owners. And if the lawful owners went afterwards to say that it belonged to them, they were told by the court they were ‘too late.’ As though the land belonged to the court. If the land belonged to 200 men, the court would give the land to 10 men, and thus the land was lost by the deceit of the Europeans and the 200 people left powerless.

Men were chosen from among the Maoris to be assessors in this court, but no power was given to them, their word had no weight in the court, they were appointed merely that it might be said that the Maoris helped to settle their own lands.

For many years the Moaris have desired to settle their lands according to their own laws, but the govt would not consent, lest the Maoris might retain their lands, and because the lands of the Maoris are … by that court, so that if the land is sold or let £25 out of every £100 are deducted.

Also, the government panders to some of the Maori chiefs by appointing them to be magistrates to other people, and when these chiefs are set up as assessors or magistrates they find they have no power, in the same way as the assessors in the native lands court, they were appointed by the govt merely that it might be said that the Maoris themselves helped to settle the land.

For years gone by the Maoris have desired to settle their lands according to their own laws, but the govt would not consent, lest the Maoris would retain their lands. The only reason the govt had to setting up these assessors was that they might be a cloak to them with regard to the Maori chief.

Therefore we the Maori tribes gathered ourselves together on the small portion of land that remains to us of our ancestors, after all the govt have done and whose laws are still searching us out, and we have no where to flee, to the right hand or to the left. We are hedged in by these …. When the commissioners of the Queen bought the Maori lands at Woupounamu it was settled that all the villages, plantations, and fisheries should be retained by the Maoris, and it was also agreed that one acre out of every ten should be returned to the Maoris, but up to this time these conditions have not been fulfilled by the govt although the Maoris have done all they could, the govt have not acceded to their wish.

Again it was settled at the time the Taranaki lands were confiscated that if they were not surveyed and tenanted at the expiration of 7 years, the land should remain in the possession of the Maoris. In 1872 the govt had not surveyed the land, or put settlers on it, and the native minister Sir Donald McLean returned the land to the Maoris and told them the govt would buy the land from them at 5/ an acre. But the govt did not buy the land because they intended to take it.

In 1879 the govt began to take the land without any cause, and sent their surveyors to survey it. The Maoris prevented them, and began to cultivate their own lands. The Govt then sent and destroyed the fences of the Maori plantations and the Maoris were taken prisoners, who though they were so many, did not hurt the Europeans.

Afterwards the native minister Mr Bryce went with a large army of soldiers to Parihaka, into the midst of the Maori people, but they did not defend themselves, and from amongst the large number of Maori people Te Whiti and Lohu were taken prisoners. They went thinking there would be an examination to see who was right and who was wrong, but they were one year in prison, and not brought up for trial, lest the govt should see their mistake.

At last they were set at liberty. After this a bill was presented to parliament to the effect that it was not wrong for the army to go to Parikaha, and it was passed.

The land then was subdivided and put up to auction, notwithstanding the protest of the Maori members, and when the votes were given they were all for the Europeans and the Maori members were defeated because there were only 4 Maori members in the parliament. One Maori member to represent 12,000 Maoris. One European member represented only 5,000 English or Europeans. The reason for this was, lest the Maori member should help their people in their troubles. The Maoris know why the govt put Maori members into parliament, that it might be said that the Maori helped to make laws for the govt whilst all the time they disagreed with them.

After all that had been done at Taranaki by the govt they came to take Kawhia from us, for no tangible reason, except that a long time ago, before the English govt was established in New Zealand, the Maori chiefs consented that some traders should reside there to barter with the natives who gave them in exchange for their blankets and shirts, … and pigs. At that time the Maoris did not know anything of European customs. After some time new traders came in the place of the old ones, and the homesteads of the old ones were transferred to the new ones. The Maoris thought they only object of the Europeans was to barter, but afterwards found that they wanted the land and a crown grant had been given to them secretly by the govt. The Maoris were asked no questions as to whether it was right or not, and the govt then secretly bought the land and that was thy the crown grant was given secretly to those Europeans.

In 1883 the govt surveyed the land and not till then did the Maoris understand that their land was gone from them. The surveyors were sent away by the Maoris but the govt did not heed, but seeing they had exceeded their power they presented a bill to parliament to enable them to put up the land to auction. The parliament voted for the bill. The 4 Maori members voted against it and wrote a letter to the governor and asked him to prevent the bill from becoming law, and to send their letter to the Queen.

After this the govt interfered and placed a Buoy in the Kawhia Harbour and then began to make roads on the land of the Maoris without their consent. So that Maoris removed the Buoy. My people and I considered we had a right to do what we liked with our own land, within our own boundary. When the government found that the Maoris were determined to retain their land and harbour, one of the ministers of the government, Mr Bryce, came with an army of soldiers to take Kawhia. They are there now occupying the Maori land. All the Maoris within our boundary rose up, but my ward went first to them to be quiet, as I had already told them that I was going to take all the troubles to the Queen.

I also said to that minister that I would govern my tribe and my district as the Queen had said in the Treaty of Waitangi, however the minister would not listen, but he persuaded some un-influential Maoris to help him that he might be able to say that Maoris co-operated with him.

Kawhia is a nice place; it has a good harbour, and is in a direct line to Sydney. We wish to keep the land there and the harbour as an inheritance for ourselves and children, because all our harbours have been taken by the government.

The Habours of Hakianga, Kaipara, Maunkau, Waikato, Whanganui, Waitoara, Whanharei, Whangauni, Wanawaho, Wellington, Napier, Wairoa Luramganui, Luranga, Hauraki, Auckland, Bay of Islands, and other harbours have all been taken, but Kawhia was put up to auction by the govt to the Europeans, and when that minister Mr Bryce saw that the land had been sold, he went to pursuade other tribes belonging to the king, who are reasting within their own districts, to consent to the boundary line of the King Country. Rewi Mauiapoto, Taonui and Wahanui consented. When the ministry saw that Rewi and others had consented, they put aside what had been decided on, and did as they chose, in that district, putting up survey stations, surveying and making roads, and bribing those Maoris with money, for it has been the desire of the government to many years back to obtain the district of Kawhia.

I am the lord of that district and the person who has the authority there, and most of the chiefs of that district will not consent to the work of the govt viz. Topia and … [list of chiefs] and other chiefs of the west, and all the chiefs stood up to overthrow the works of the government within their own district, but I forbade them until I and my friends had been to take those grievances to the Queen.

When Rewi Mainapoto saw that the govt had not done what they promised and had gone on with their works in that district he would not have any more to do with them, so his pension was taken away, which did not trouble him.

Now the governor, the Queen’s representative, was too much occupied with his work as governor ro relieve the Maoris of their grievances. The ministers have the control and all officers, whether they be judges or commissioners, are all under subjection to the works and authority of the government, and have no leisure to investigate these wrongs.

There have been some of the governor whom we have known, who have been desirous for the good of the Maori vis governor Bower Ferguson and governor Gordon of Fiji, but they could not act independently of their ministers. Hon. friend the Maori have paid much money in taxes to the government and not any portion of those taxes will be returned to help the Maoris in their troubles. The land tax, the clothes tax, the gold tax, the food tax, and all this goes to the government, for what they do for Europeans only, although the rights of Maoris have been seized by the Europeans under the title of the government of New Zealand.

The ministers office which is occupied by Mr Bryce is called the Maori Office, but it is only a name. All the officers in it are Europeans and their chief work is connected with the Maori grievances, but the Queen said in the Treaty of Waitangi that she would teach the Maoris her laws, but the government have taken them away.

Hon. friend, it is the desire of myself and my people that the Queen should make right all these grievances which distress the Maoris.

1st. To return to us our own mode of government. To allow us to manage our own lands and people under the protection of the Queen.
2nd. To return to us our lands which have been taken away from us wrongfully by the government and the ‘native lands court’ and that have been sold by auction wrongfully.
3rd. To return to us all our taxes, from the beginning till now.
4th. That the government shall make an end of all their work in connection with our lands, and cease to bribe the Maoris.

Now formerly we were friends of the Europeans and when we were able, we gave the government land for schools and other purposes; but these grievances have separated the Maori from the European.

Now the government continually say it is not right for the Maori to find fault with the Queen’s authority, so we the Maori people have considered to bring these troubles to the Queen. Or has the Queen consented that the Treaty of Waitangi should be set aside by the govt of New Zealand, in which she and my ancestors and my fathers agreed that the Maoris and the Europeans should live together?

Now friend but for these grievances the Maori and the English would have lived and worked together. I think perhaps this is the first time the Queen has seen or heard any of these great grievances amongst the Maoris and the Europeans, and I think perhaps the Queen will be very sorry that her wards in the Treaty of Waitangi have been trampled upon, and it is not meet that another nation should witness this breach of Treaty by the English people.

Friend, a letter was sent by my father to the Queen, asking her not to send any more bad Europeans to New Zealand, but notwithstanding this they came. I have asked the govt to give back the chieftainship of the Maori people to them, that their work in the Maori districts may be understood (or light) but they have not replied to me. For many years we have thought the govt ought to make right these grievances, but they have not done so, and now that we see they are determined not to look into these matters, our Maori chiefs and our Maori people have desired me and my friends to bring these troubles to the Queen.

What shall the Queen say to these things, seeing that her government have not taken care of those laws which she laid down?

(Signed) Na Tawhiao