VISIT TO THE MAORI KING MATUTAERA.
The correspondent of the Southern Cross at Waiuku sends the following description of a visit recently paid by him to the quarters of the Maori king Matutaera, in company with two visitors from the Sandwich Islands:—
Mr. and Mrs. Hoapili, of Owhyhee (Sandwich Islands), arrived at Waiuku on Saturday last, intending to make their first visit to Ahipene Kaihau, chief of the Ngatiteata, whose settlement is within one hour’s ride from Waiuku. On Monday, accompanied by Mr. Constable, Mr. King (Government Interpreter), and Major Speedy, R. M., we started from Waiuku by way of the West Coast road, and after a brisk ride arrived at the east end of Windsor Park, a large property recently purchased and enclosed by Mr. Constable. Here a novel sight met the eyes of the illustrious visitors. The stockyard there was full of cattle, which the men were engaged in branding; and as some of the animals were between two and three years of age, and had never been yarded before, my colonial readers will believe me when I assure them that they afforded some sport. We then proceeded through the park, and our visitors, as well as ourselves, were surprised to find what the hand of man had done for this place during the last year. Twelve months ago it was a wilderness of fern and tea-tree, interspersed with bush: now there are hundreds of acres of grass, on which cattle ar grazing, and where they may soon become even as “the fat bulls of Bashan.” Round about the neat farmhouses, too, we observed groups of fowls, from the stately peacock to the homely barn-door chick; and from among the trees every now and then arose the whirr of the pheasant, and down among the gullies we could observe the coney. Mr. Hoapili compared New Zealand, somewhat to its disadvantage, with the present condition of their own home, which at this moment presents to the eye plantations of sugar, cotton, and other tropical productions, attributing in a great measure, under God, the prosperity of that and neighboring isles to the influence, perseverance, and better knowledge of the European colonist. Shortly after we left the park, and had paid a flying visit to some of the recently settled immigrants, we found ourselves in the Native village, and arrived immediately after at the house of the chief, where we were all most kindly welcomed by him and his wife. The house is a good substantial structure, furnished, after the approved method, with chairs, tables, sofas, beds, &c., and the whole presenting a very clean and tidy appearance. While luncheon was preparing Ahipene gave us a slight sketch of the late visit he had paid to the Maori king, Matutaera, at Kawhia. He told us that on his arrival there he was greatly disappointed in the object for which the King had sent for him. Lately a good many of the chiefs, and usual advisers of the King, have died or been killed in the wars; and Matutaera requested Ahipele to take up his residence near, and become, as it were a Prime Minister to him. This, however, the chief declined. He gave us but a very poor idea of the authority which the Maori monarch has over his subjects. They hold very little respect for him, and even dare to laugh at his commands. He instanced this fact by stating that when he (Ahipene) was in conference with the King, in a room in the house, some of the people came in as though no one was there; and on being desired by his Majesty to retire for a while, and leave him alone with his guest, the intruders took no notice whatever of his request. Matutaera and Ahipene had, therefore, to adjourn to the cook=house to finish their conference.
The King himself abstains from everything European, except for grog, which he believes was sent into the world for the general delectation of man, and Maori princes in particular. “He clothes himself,” says Ahipene, “exactly as the Natives did thirty years ago.”
And now, I must not forget to describe the grand banquet set forth for us by the domestics of our kindly host. It was a “spread” which would have reflected no disgrace on any of our “rangatira pakehas:” in fact, the best the province could afford of the good things of this life at this season of the year was placed before us, to which we all did ample justice.
Altogether the visit was a most satisfactory one, and Mr. and Mrs. Hoapili most thoroughly enjoyed it. Before we left, they engaged to spend a day or two with Ahipene. About dusk we started on our homeward journey, and arrived at Constable’s hotel about seven p.m., after an hour’s ride by the pale light of the moon.
I understand the two illustrious visitors, on whose account the trip was made, intend next to visit the Natives in the Kaipara district, and will, on a future day, probably return through Waiuku, on their way to the Waikato.
[This article was found on the awesome website, “Papers Past,” put out by the National Library of New Zealand. Go check them out by clicking here!]
(Timaru Herald, 9/12/1866, p. 6)