For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Monday, September 26, 2005

This day in 1839, Colonel William Wakefield of the New Zealand Company bartered with Maori for what is now Wellington Harbour. His nephew, E. J. Wakefield, wrote -
..... when all the articles had been selected and arranged, a message was sent on shore for all the chiefs, who came accompanied by their sons. They examined the stock of [trade] goods strictly and carefully, and approved of the quality and quantity. They seemed, however, embarrassed as to the distribution among the six minor tribes of which the population was composed. It was therefore proposed to them to divide the lots on our deck.....
It was plainly contrary to the custom of the Maori to dispose of so important an affair without plenty of talking; so they debated in due form as to the course to be adopted in distributing the goods; and Wharepouri, as he had been repeatedly urged by us, used his best endeavours to prevent the occurrence of one of those fierce and sometimes fatal scrambles which Barrett and the other white men told us were the universal consequence of a large present of goods to any of these tribes.
Puakawa [Te Puwhakaawe] addressed another violent harangue to the assemblage, disuasive of the whole measure....... 'What will you say,' urged he, 'when you find that you have parted with all your land from the Rimurapa to the Turakirae [headland], and from the Tararua [mountains] to the sea?..... What will you say..... when many, many white men come here, and drive you all away into the mountains? How will you feel when you go to the white man's house or ship to beg for shelter and hospitality, and he tells you, with his eyes turned up to heaven, and the name of his God in his mouth, to be gone, for that your land is paid for?'

Among the many practical articles offered could be found 1 gross of Jews harps, 60 red nightcaps, and - 2 pounds of beads.


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