Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Assembling of Natives at PARIHAKA on the 17TH April, 1882

(copies of telegrams relative to the).

Copied from the Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives, G. 3, 1882.
Presented to both Houses of the General Assembly by Command of His Excellency.

Telegrams exchange April 1882 with Native Office

Letter report on "the state of native affairs", Taranaki, May 1882.(no. 10)

Further from Lieut.-Colonel Roberts on Native meeting at Parihaka. (no. 11)

Lieutenant-Colonel Roberts to the Hon. Mr. Bryce.

Opunake, 13th April, 1882.
Hon. Mr. Bryce, Wellington.
Seven Natives from Omuturangi, with two dray-loads of pork for Parihaka, arrived at Opunake this evening. The Natives had a pass signed by Captain Good for Hone Pihama. I had them stopped on account of their having supplies for Parihaka, and told them that I would not allow them to proceed without your authority.
J. M. ROBERTS, Lieut.-Colonel.

The Hon. Mr. BRYCE to Lieutenant-Colonel ROBERTS.

Wellington, 13th April, 1882.
Colonel Roberts, Opunake.
You are perfectly right. Natives must be prevented from taking supplies to Parihaka, which would give an excuse for reviving and attending the monthly meetings. I have no objections to carts going to the Parihaka Block for supplies, as there is a superabundance there; but taking supplies to Paribaka is in every way objectionable, and must be stopped. Please have this explained to the Natives with the carts, as it is not unlikely that they may wish to get potatoes from Parihaka.
John Bryce.

Lieut.-Colonel Roberts to the Hon. Mr. Bryce.


Pungarehu, 14th April, 1882.
Hon. Mr. Bryce, Wellington.
Natives who were not allowed to go to Parihaka with pork said that they would be ashamed to go there with empty drays, and would therefore not go for potatoes.
J. M. ROBERTS, Lieut.-Colonel.

Lieut.-Colonel ROBERTS to the Hon. Mr. BRYCE.


Pungarehu, 16th April, 1882.
Hon. Mr. Bryce, Wellington.
No news. Shall be at Parihaka to-morrow in case of anything taking place.
J. M. ROBERTS, Lieut.-Colonel.

Lieut.-Colonel ROBERTS to the Hon. Mr. BRYCE.


Parihaka, 17th April, 1882, 8.50 a.m.
Hon. Mr. Bryce, Wellington.
Natives held a hurried meeting in the old marae at dawn, before Major Goring could take any steps to stop it they dispersed. About eight hundred were present. Food was not taken to the marae, but they had it shortly afterwards at the whares. Messenger was at Parihaka yesterday, and neither saw nor heard any indication of a meeting. Messenger is now in the settlement trying to find out what took place. J. M. Roberts, Lieut.-Colonel.

Lieut.-Colonel ROBERTS to the Hon. Mr. BRYCE.


Parihaka 17th April, 1882, 9.35 a.m.
Hon. Mr. Bryce, Wellington.
Natives assembling in marae, distributing food. Have stopped their doing so, and have had it carried away. Have sent to Newall Road for sixty men, and twenty-five from Pungarehu, in case they should be required.
J. M. ROBERTS, Lieut.-Colonel.


1882, G. 1, No. 10.


R. PARRIS, Esq., to the UNDER-SECRETARY, Native Department. New Plymouth, 15th May, 1882.

SIR, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th ult., conveying instructions to "furnish a report on the state of native affairs on the West Coast and Taranaki."

It will be necessary for me to go back a long period to explain, as briefly as I can, what has been the condition of the district, and the difficulties which have arisen under the growth of the influence of Te Whiti.

For fifteen years past this district has been the centre of attraction to the native race in conse­quence of natives of a prophetic turn of mind having been more plentiful therein than in any other part of the country. This tendency culminated in Te Whiti, who succeeded Te Ua as a prophetical leader of the people, and dictator in all matters affecting them.

The old custom of chiefs having authority over the respective Hapus and tribal interests was completely abolished, as was forcibly exemplified to the Hon. the late Premier, Mr. Hall, on the occasion of his passing through the district with me last year, when we met on the road an old chief, with whom we had a conversation about the state of things in general, in the course of which the old man said : "formerly chiefs had a potent voice in everything, but now they are nonentities; all authority is now vested in Te Whiti, you must talk to him." For many years large numbers of natives from distant parts were in the habit of attending half-yearly meetings at Parihaka to listen to Te Whiti's expositions and counsel. After the meeting terminated they returned to their own homes. Very large supplies of food were consumed and wasted, and to maintain such a state of things was a heavy tax upon the Parihaka residents ; but Te Whiti was equal to the occasion, and met the difficulty with a proposal that all who intended to put themselves under his protection should cultivate land at Parihaka, to raise food for themselves when visiting there. This proposal was cheerfully responded to. A large quantity of land was cleared and planted accordingly, and when the crops were ready for use instead of periodal visits, a large number from distant parts came to Parihaka to settle, and enlarged the settlement by building houses and cultivating the land, thus swelling the population.

Instead of half-yearly meetings in March and September, a monthly meeting became the estab­lished rule, which natives from places distant from thirty to fifty miles attended regularly, taking with them such supplies as they could raise from their own places, utterly regardless of the consequences to themselves, although indigence was inevitable by so doing, believing it was their duty to part with all they had for such time as might be necessary for the final consummation of Te Whiti's prophecies, when, as he gave them to understand, everything would be restored to them by some mysterious process. Te Whiti had told them that he was Jehovah, and him they implicitly obeyed, and nearly all their time was devoted to contributing towards the maintenance of Parihaka, which was growing into a little Republic. Had Te Whiti been as wise as he was ambitious, he might at this time have made (I have no doubt) very good terms with the Government in the matter of settling the land question in that district.

The success achieved in the ejectment of the surveyors from the Waimate Plains inflated Te Whiti's vanity, and the faith of his followers in his attainments, and thus led him on to the further aggressive measure of sending out parties of natives to enter upon and plough land of European settlers at seven different places between Hawera and the White Cliffs. Six of the properties tres­passed upon were portions of the confiscated territory which had been granted to Europeans who were in occupation, and one was part of a block of a land ceded to the Crown in the year 1848.

This new and singular proceeding on the part of Te Whiti caused great excitement throughout the district, but the forbearance of the settlers enabled the Government to deliberate, and determine what course of action to pursue, and the result was about 180 of the offenders were arrested and sent to gaol. Doubts being entertained by many as to whether Te Whiti had sanctioned the ploughing, I was requested to go to see him and ascertain if he had authorised it. I accordingly paid a visit to Parihaka for this purpose, and on putting the question to Te Whiti, he replied most emphatically that he had authorised the ploughing, and stated, as his motive for doing it, that Sir George Grey, at the meeting with Rewi at Waitara, had said, " He would plant a tree of peace whose branches would spread over the land," instead of which, in a very short time, he commenced stealing the land of the Waimate Plains, and that he, Te Whiti, had ordered the ploughing to probe Sir George Grey's heart to prove whether he was a man of peace or not.

Soon after this a Royal Commission was appointed to enquire into all questions affecting the confiscated territory on the West Coast, and the alleged discontent in consequence of non-fulfilled promises, and other matters affecting the natives. The very able and exhaustive report of the Commission renders it quite unnecessary for me to say anything on the questions which are discussed in that report.

In consequence of certain recommendations made by the Commission, Parliament recommended that a new Commission should be issued, fortified with full and complete authority to work out the recommendations embodied in the report of the first Commission. This was done ; and soon after the survey of the plains for settlement was determined on, together with the opening and forming a line of road through the district by the Armed Constabulary. Surveyors were put to work under the direction of the Commission to survey the burial places, fishing sites, and a block of land for the use and occupation of the natives ; and arrangements were made for the preparation and issue of Crown grants as the work progressed. Other surveyors were put on under the direction of the Surveyor-General to do the sectional survey of the plains for sale and settlement. The work went on without any obstruction or molestation from the natives, beyond the removal now and then, of course, of the survey-pegs by the sly.

The natives were frequently visited by an officer of the Government to explain to them what was being done, and what was intended to be done, but for a long time they manifested an unwillingness to talk about it, or acquiesce in the arrangements ; still the work continued with great success, as is shown by the present condition of the district, and the natives between Waingongoro and Opunake have since submitted with very good grace, and have supplied lists of names of grantees for the Crown grants, which will be issued in due course.
At the same time that the survey of the land for settlement was going on, that of opening the trunk line of road through the district was also being pushed forward, commencing toward the south from Waingongoro, and from towards the north from Stony River.

In the meantime, Te Whiti, who had counselled non-resistance, and peace and quietness, pro­phesied that the portions of road which were being opened at both ends, would never meet. What was to prevent the meeting he never explained, and the only idea his followers had on the subject was, that there would be an interposition of a kind which no one but Te Whiti could understand.

As the roadwork advanced to that part of the district in front of Parihaka, it was deemed necessary to take the line through a native cultivation. The telegraph, which was being erected along the line, had been carried through the cultivation without any obstruction, so far as I am aware ; but, on taking the fence down at both ends, the road being required for traffic, the first obstruction to the work was instituted, and, with very great persistency carried out. The Constabu­lary pulled down the fence the width required for the road, and the natives came and put it up again. This was often repeated. It was then decided to arrest the obstructors, and, as they came to fence (in obedience to Te Whiti's orders), they were arrested without much trouble, and sent to goal. When this commenced it was altogether uncertain where it would stop, inasmuch as Te Whiti was reported to have said, that when he had exhausted all the men, he should send the women and children to do the fencing, and to be arrested as an incumbrance for the Government. After several encounters at the fencing, altogether about 216 natives were arrested, and sent to goal.

After this the dispute assumed a new aspect. A party of forty to fifty men, of mixed ages, designated the morehu (survivors) marched out from Parihaka almost daily, each man carrying a branch of wood, and, on arriving at the road where it entered the cultivation on the south side, continued the march along the road through the cultivation, reciting an incantation till within a short distance of the north boundary of the cultivation, very near to the Constabulary camp, and back again to the south boundary, where they planted the branches across the road as a protest, and then marched back to Parihaka. Occasionally another party composed of over a hundred very small children (in charge of an adult) designated the tatarakihi (locusts) were sent out from Parihaka to traverse the road through the cultivation, warbling, like a flock of blight birds, an incantation taught them by Tohu.

Diverse opinions prevailed with reference to the merits of the dispute about the road through the cultivation. Some were of opinion that it should have been fenced by the Government, and that probably had this been done Te Whiti's opposition would have subsided ; whilst others thought that as the land belonged to Government by virtue of confiscation the natives had no right to cultivate it.

Finding it was useless to expect any concession or compromise from Te Whiti, the Government determined on commencing the survey of the block of land, seaward of the new road, known as the Parihaka Block, for sale and settlement, as recommended by the Royal Commission. All their fishing sites and sacred places were reserved for the natives, and a large reserve on the south bank of the Kapoaiaio River, containing altogether 714 acres. On the banks of the Waitotoroa River there were extensive clearings, made by natives who had come from distant parts, but did not belong to either Parihaka or the Taranaki District. Five hundred and forty-five acres were reserved from sale for a year or two, in order during that time to prepare them for clearing off, these lands having been mapped as waste lands of the Crown. In addition to this it was intended to make a continuous reserve of 25,000 acres from the Waiwherenui River to the Moutoti River, abutting on the new road on the inland side.

It has been insinuated that it was never explained to the natives what land was reserved for them ; such an assertion is not only unfair but notoriously false. During the progress of the survey work I was often in the district, and frequently met natives, to whom I explained what land they could occupy and what would be sold, and it was their invariable habit to say, you must go and talk to Te Whiti. Ruakere, who by birth is the principal chief of the Warea natives, understood fully all the proposals and arrangements which I have stated, and frequently explained them to the natives at Parihaka. Twice I went there myself for the express purpose of publishing to all the people at the meeting what the proposals of the Government were, but Te Whiti refused to give me the opportunity by breaking up the meeting. From the commencement of the work of the Royal Commission, and all through, Te Whiti has been fully informed, and was well aware of all the proposals for the settlement of the land question.

It was said by some that Te Whiti would only treat with some high authority. His Excellency the Governor made overtures for a meeting with him. The result is well known. The Hon. Mr. Rolleston waived his dignity, went into Parihaka, and had an interview with him, but failed to obtain any satisfaction from him.

In July and August last parties of natives commenced fencing land for cropping on different parts of the block surveyed for sale. The Constabulary were sent to pull down the fencing. I was present myself on several occasions, and explained to them what the consequence would be if they persisted in carrying on. My own services being required by Sir W. Fox, Mr. Hursthouse, engineer in charge of roadwork in the district, was requested to make Pungarehu his head-quarters, and to assist Colonel Roberts in trying to prevent the natives from taking possession of Government land. It soon, however, became evident that they intended bringing the matter to an issue. They began coming out from Parihaka in great force, far outnumbering the Constabulary available for the work. It was known that they had come to a decision to engage in a hand to hand struggle with the Constabulary. It was recommended that this should be avoided if possible, as the Constabulary being armed a struggle would most probably have led to serious consequences.

At the meeting, held in September last at Parihaka, Te Whiti, in his address to the natives assembled, indulged in language which, literally interpreted, meant a declaration of war. This caused a state of alarm throughout the district, and the settlers appealed to Government for arms and ammunition, and for the militia to be organised for self-defence. When Te Whiti learnt what the effect of his language had been, he tried to explain it away by stating that what he had said was metaphorical, that the interpreters did not understand him. In fact, no one but himself could under-stand what he meant to convey to his hearers, and the interpreters were of course in duty bound to furnish a literal interpretation of what he said.

For many years past Te Whiti has led his followers on by his prophetical discourses from one device to another, shifting his ground from time to time, until he had exhausted his stock of metaphorical imaginations, and at the September meeting he entertained them with something practical, but very dangerous, which brought things to a climax.

The result of the meeting was wired to all parts, and the whole colony was astir with a lively apprehension that war was inevitable. Parliament passed a vote to enable the Government to meet the anticipated crisis. Volunteers from all parts of the colony nobly responded when called on to take the field. The voice of the public said, Extinguish Parihaka, the fountain of disaffection.
A Gazette extraordinary was issued by the Administrator of the Government, which was delivered to Te Whiti, explaining the unsatisfactory position of affairs, and giving fourteen days for consideration, and for a definite understanding. During the interval, agents of the Government visited Te Whiti in order to ascertain whether or not he was disposed to make any proposition acceptable to the Govern­ment. The only explanation obtained from him was that things must take their course.

On the 5th November a large force of Constabulary and Volunteers marched into Parihaka and arrested Te Whiti and Tohu without any resistance. This, I believe, was a great relief to Te Whiti. and one which he had long desired.

Notice was given to natives belonging to other parts to disperse and return to their own places. There was no indication of their going away voluntarily, and a great deal of trouble was taken in separating them from the other natives and escorting them long distances in the direction of their proper homes to insure their final departure.

The great consideration for them now was, how were they going to live at their own places. All their crops for maintenance were at Parihaka. Many of them have suffered great privation, chiefly those north of New Plymouth. On several occasions supplies have been sent them by natives living south of Waingongoro, altogether over fifty tons.

They have gathered a large quantity of fungus which they have sold to purchase food; and during the autumn there is indigenous food which they use when on short commons, but their prospects during the winter, and until the next season crops are ready for use, would be very serious if they were not allowed to fall back on their crops at Parihaka for a maintenance. The present state of mind of the natives is one of uncertainty for the future. Their faith in Te Whiti is as strong as ever, and they talk of a re-union being near at hand, but if the course now being pursued toward Te Whiti and Tohu is continued long enough, I do not anticipate much more trouble.

Te Whiti's long course of obstruction to the progress of colonization has, no doubt, been most wearisome and disheartening to the white population, who have been naturally eager to see this isolated settlement connected by roads and the telegraph wire with the other settled districts of the colony.

To many, therefore, who are irritated by the long delay in the accomplishment of their wishes, which is associated with Te Whiti's name, his career will appear to have been one of mere folly, delusion, and unreasonableness, or of conscious imposture. But those who are capable of taking an impartial view of the whole case, and can admit the full right of the Maori to strive by all fair means to retain his old free mode of life, and enough of his primeval wilderness of fern and forest to enjoy it in, will find in Te Whiti's conduct as the leader of his people in a trying period, much that is worthy of their sympathy and respect. Te Whiti was, in fact, the representative in this part of New Zealand, of the love of the Maori people for their ancient customs and ways of living, and of their dread of being hustled off the scene by swarms of strangers, and by the introduction of new conditions of life, under which they instinctively felt themselves unable to compete on equal terms with the eager and vigorous new-comers in the struggle for existence. Regarding Te Whiti's position and career from this point of view, all feeling of irritation against the man for his steady opposition to the progress of colonization must disappear ; and we can properly estimate the firmness, combined with total absence of any recourse to violent measures, with which he maintained the unequal contest for so many years, and can sympathize with his hopes and understand his prophecies, however quaint their form, that in some mysterious way a higher power would interfere to protect the rights of the weaker race.

Notwithstanding his rooted preference for the old Maori ways of life and his dread of their disturbance by the intrusion of European settlers, Te Whiti has shown no feeling of dislike or bitterness towards our race. On the contrary, whether at the summit of his prosperity, and when he might naturally consider himself to be master of the situation ; or, when his endurance was tried to the uttermost by the near approach of our forces to Parihaka, every one was freely admitted to his settlement, and treated there with the utmost courtesy.

As regards the practical result of Te Whiti's leadership of the Maoris on the West Coast, it is perhaps hardly too much to say that if he had shaped his course with the special intention of enabling the Government to tide over without bloodshed a period during which there was a constant risk of collision between the races-but during which the Government (from want of funds or other causes,) was not in a position to compel submission without involving the country in a ruinous war-he could not have been more successful in accomplishing this difficult task. It would, of course, be absurd to impute to Te Whiti a desire to prepare the way for the final bloodless victory of the forces at Parihaka ; but it should, I think, always be remembered in his favour, that it is mainly in consequence of his strong personal dislike to bloodshed and violence, that this happy result has been obtainable.

I have, &c.,
R. PARRIS.

Further reports from Mr R Parris to the Under-Secretary, 1882.

Korero o te Wa I Raraunga I Rauemi I Te Whanganui a Tara I Whakapapa