ESCAPE OF THE MAORI PRISONERS FROM THE KAWAU.
The all-absorbing topic of conversation iu town yesterday was the escape of the captive Maoris from the Kawau. There were not wanting some who were ready to aver that Governor Sir George Grey was at the bottom of the affair ; but so extravagant a supposition is only mentioned as a specimen of hasty gossip. Others more reasonably laid the whole blame on the Ministry ; who, by a false economy, or from some other motive, had diminished the number of the custodians to au amount preposterously inadequate. To the fugitives themselves we can attach no blame. The desire for liberty is inherent in the breast alike of white man aud Maori ; and it is not to be wondered at that the facilities thrown in their way fjr making their escape, were readily embraced by the captives of Rangiriri. They were bound by no parole of honor, and did only what might have been expected. The dictates of common humanity demanded that the strictness of the incarceration of the Maori captives on board the hulk should be relaxed. The health of many of them was suffering from confinement, and the probability was that their longer retention there would have led to the sacrifice of mauy lives. The ouly offeuces of a large proportion of them were of a political nature. But though it was right that these unfortunate prisoners should be allowed to have the firm earth under their feet, aud have leave to roam about under certain restrictions, it does not follow that all watch and ward over them was to be withdrawn. The island of the Kawau was in every respect eligible spot oa which to locate
the prisoners. It was easy, upon an island terminating on almost every side in inaccessible rocks, to prevent communication between the imprisoned Maoris and their outside brethren. But the Maoris are an enterprising race, in whom natural affection is strong, and to whom perils by water convey little terror. Though much of the Kawau presents an irou-bouud coast, there are harbours upon it from which it was easy for the captives to make their escape when unguarded. When these Maories were sent down to the Kawau, a guard of some halfdozen men was placed over them ; and with the result of these arrangements yesterday made us acquainted. While the hulk Marion was anchored in the harbour with the prisoners on Jioard, a guard of 50 men under Captain Krippneß was placed over them. When the hulk was taken down to the Kawau, this guard was discontinued, and its place was supplied by a few men who might be called warders. Yet at the Kawau the risk of the prisoners effecting their escape was far greater than in the harbour. To what purpose was this alteration ? The safe custody of the prisoners was a charge assumed by the Defence Office. Had it been an Imperial affair, Imperial troops would have been employed for the purpose. The Defence Minister had the control of sufficient numbers of local troops to have constituted an efficient guard. There are but two ways in which his neglect to avail himself of them can be explained. Either a sudden fit of parsimony caused him to shrink from the expense. Or, which is not improbable, the difficulty of the question as to how these Maories were to be dealt with, led him and his coadjutators to adopt this undignified and underhand solution. A chance was to be offered to the Maoris of effecting their escape, by a ridiculous diminution of the number of their keepers. To have obtained from them a profession of allegiance, and let them go, would have been more straightforward proceeding. The following paragraphs comprise the most accurate information we have been able to gather on the subject of the escape.
We receive*! intelligence early yesterday morning of the escape of the Maori prisoners eu masse from the Kawau Island on Sunday morning ; and we at once made our readers acquainted with the fact in a second edition. We are now enabled to give some fuller particulars.
Mr. John Ebenezee White was in charge of the prisoners on Saturday. Mr. Angus White, and several of the keepers were in Auckland at the time, where they had been for some days. When the man iu charge of the hulk Marion went ashore from the Middle Harbour, where the hulk was moored very near the old Copper Mining Company’s works, to see why the natives did not come to breakfast, he discovered their absence much to his surprise and alarm. Mr. J. E. White was apprised of the fact; and he at once informed the captain of the Falcon , which was lying in the bay opposite Sir George Grey s house. That officer immediately sent to town one of his smaller boats to acquaint Mr. Angus White wirhtho intelligence. A person was also despatched to the extremity Northern Harbour, to which place they had receutly gone for the purpose of cultivating the laud, here, too, no Maoris could be discovered. Mr. J. E. White’s suspicions were aroused from the first, for he recollected that on the previous evening, the natives had asked him for the loan of his large boat, as they said, to get the natives ashore from the hulk. Shortly a ter the discovery of their disappearance, the native chief Patuone informed Mr. White , that the natives had passed Waikauri, near Matakana, about eight o’clock that morning. To accomplish this,, they must have left the Kawau at daybreak on Sunday morning. Settlers also arrived with the intelligence that the natives had passed through the Matakana district, although keeping out of the main track. The fu gitves, it appeared, had escaped partly in the small boats of the hulk, used to convey them between the Marion and the shore. But to to this assistance must have been added other native aid. Several vessels, we understand, have been noticed in the vicinity of the Kawau recently ; and it is supposed that the services of these vessels were enlisted iu the escape of this large body of men. The boats at the Kawau were very small, and only numbered four, so that it is scarcely probable that the men could have escaped iu these boats unaided by their friends. The man-of-war cutter in which the news was brought to Auckland by Mr. J. E. White arrived late on Sunday evening, when His Excellency the Governor and the Ministers were at once made acquainted with the startling intelligence. Early yesterday morning, the Governor and Captain Holt, with Mr. Angus^White, Mr. J. Ebenezer White, Mr. Martin, and others, proceeded to the Kawau, in H.M.S. Miranda, which will, we understand, take a cruise in search of the delinquents. The escaped prisoners numbered over 200.
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ESCAPE OF THE MAORI PRISONERS FROM THE KAWAU., New Zealander, Volume XXI, Issue 2222, 13 September 1864
ESCAPE OF THE MAORI PRISONERS FROM THE KAWAU. New Zealander, Volume XXI, Issue 2222, 13 September 1864
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