Between hot and cold
Curtis' formulation undoubtedly has merit, but it seems to me that there is a period between the radical instability of the war years and the beginning of Pakeha hegemony which deserves our scrutiny. Historians like James Belich have made us aware of the scope and implications of the dramatic events of the New Zealand Wars, but we are less informed about the enigmatic series of incidents that occurred in the aftermath of the wars, when Pakeha were still to consolidate the gains they had won and Maori were still resisting being pushed into the margins of the North Island.
I'm thinking of incidents like the numerous clashes on the border of the Rohe Potae or King Country - the independent Maori state that Waikato retreated into after being invaded by the Crown in 1863. Both the Waikato people and their Ngati Maniapoto hosts defended the boundaries of the King Country determinedly through the late 1860s and 1870s, and only gradually opened the area up to Pakeha in the 1880s.
I have been slogging through a rather badly written and constructed book called Raglan County Hills and Sea: A Centennial History 1876-1976, by CW Vennell and Susan Williams. Despite its authors' best intentions, the book manages to convey a number of fascinating stories about interactions between Maori and Pakeha in the late nineteenth century.
Vennell and Williams discuss not only relatively well-known incidents on the King Country's borders, like the killing of a surveyor at Pirongia and a farmhand near Maungatautari, but also the tension in the Aotea Harbour region, where the friendly chief Hone te One was encouraged by the government to construct a pa and make himself into a buffer between the embattled settlement of Raglan and the Ngati Maniapoto stronghold of Kawhia. Occasionally the tension on this obscure section of the border of the Rohe Potae boiled over - in 1867, for instance, there was a Maori attack on a European home in Kawhia, and in 1869 a Maori party pulled up survey pegs at Aotea.
I was also struck by Vennell and Williams' casual mention of a series of events that occurred a long way north of the King Country, in a year when we might expect Pakeha hegemony over most of the North Island to be well and truly established. In
1894 Maori of the Pukekawa area, which lies just south of Pukekohe, launched a campaign to prevent the building of the road from Tuakau to Raglan that we nowadays know as Highway 22. Survey pegs were pulled up, and roadworks were sabotaged.
According to Vennell and Williams, the Crown reacted by sending three policemen to Mangatawhiri marae near Mercer, where a large group of women armed with paddles fell upon them and fought 'like wild cats'. The forces of the law beat a hasty retreat. Two days later, though, forty armed policemen turned up at the marae, and succeeded in arresting about fifteen men and women after lengthy scuffles. The prisoners were taken by boat across the river to Mercer, and then put on the train to Mt Eden prison. Predictably, Vennell and Williams trivialise this incident as a 'colourful day for the Maoris', and neglect to explain exactly what happened to the prisoners.
Dick Scott made the resistance movement focused on Parihaka famous, and in his biography of Princess Te Puea Michael King revealed to non-Tainui audiences the massive campaign of civil disobedience centred on Mangatawhiri marae during World War One - a campaign which was only ended by mass arrests. But what of the campaign at Pukekawa in 1894, which seems to have echoed the struggle at Parihaka, and which provoked a raid which presaged the mass arrests at Mangatawhiri during World War One?
It seems that there are many incidents in our late nineteenth century history which still await careful study. Does anybody want to volunteer?