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Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Right Hon. Earl of Kimberley.

Copied from the Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives, A. 1, 1870, No. 74.

Government House, Auckland, New Zealand.
24th December, 1870.

MY LORD -

As your Lordship is one of those English statesmen who took a personal and active interest in the early progress of New Zealand, you mil doubtless learn with regret that Te Puni, the chief of the clan of the Ngatiawas died, at the age of nearly ninety years, on the 5th instant, at his residence, Petoni, near Wellington.

2. It will be remembered that Te Puni welcomed the arrival of the first emigrants sent out by the New Zealand Company, granted them the land on which the City of Wellington has since been built; and protected the infant settlement, on many occasions, from the violence of his Maori countrymen. He also fought gallantly for the Queen, though he was even then an elderly man, in the first Maori war of 1845-48. In a word, Te Puni was for the settlers in the South all that the celebrated Ngapuhi chief, Tamati Waka Nene, was for the settlers in the North of this Island. His great age has of late rendered him incapable of active exertion, but he was always glad to receive me and other English visitors at his own kainga(village). His last appearances in public were when he welcomed me on my first landing in New Zealand, in 1868, and when, in 1869, he attended the levee held at Wellington by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

3. The death of this loyal subject of our Queen, of this constant friend and brave ally of our race, to whom the early English settlers at Wellington owed the safety of their lives and property, excited much feeling throughout this Colony. The Government ordered a public funeral at the public cost. Several of the Colonial Ministers and other leading settlers of all political parties were pall bearers, together with the few surviving relatives and principal clansmen of the deceased ; the Bishop of Wellington read the burial service of the Church of England, to which Te Puni was a sincere convert; Mr. McLean, the Minister for Native Affairs, delivered an eloquent address in their own language to the Maoris present; and the Volunteer Rifles and Artillery attended in full force, and fired the customary military salutes over the grave of the old warrior.

4, Several of the Colonial journals have made appropriate comments on the death of Te Puni. The subjoined extract will suffice to show the general sentiment:-

"The old settlers of Wellington did themselves honor in paying the last mark of respect to Te Puni; and the Government deserves thanks for assistance, without which it would have been impossible to carry out the arrangements for the funeral in so satisfactory a manner. The frank acknowledgment of Te Puni's claims upon the gratitude of the Colonists, and the manner in which they were alluded to by Mr. McLean must have had a very gratifying effect on the Maoris who were present, and may exercise a salutary influence in other places. The ceremony in itself was striking and suggestive; vigorous civilization laying the head of decaying barbarism in the earth gently and with reverence; not (as is usual in the case of the aborigines of other countries) with rude and careless contempt, Te Puni's burial in European fashion, with Europeans standing round his grave and European guns firing over it, is typical of the not distant time when add the savage powers of obstruction yet latent among the Maoris will be buried in a similar manner, and the work of colonization will proceed uninterrupted. It also suggests the thought of another hour sooner or later to arrive, when the last Maori will be laid to his rest by European hands, and his race, so remarkable for its chequered character of good and evil - so much that is noble and striking, and so much that is savage and revolting - will remain only in the history and traditions of the past."

I have &c.,
G.F. Bowen

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