It was a warm Summer month in early ’39, the kind that turns a man’s thoughts to things other than work. The whales had been and gone, and Christmas for what it was worth produced little for us there on Kapiti. Of most interest was the word that more British will be there soon, from some company being set up to bring a lot of soft settlers out from England. We all thought that we’d see what Te Rauparaha would think of them, there was still fire in the man yet, as old as he was.

I remember the pathway well, and making the short walk from Te Kahu o Te Rangi and the stink along to the fresher water of Waiorua. The deep ocean currents wash over the northern peninsula of the island and brought the occasional deep sea fish into the Maori nets, and we traded some of their catch when we were too busy rendering the oil to fish for ourselves.

It’s a strange relationship. I’ve heard they used to refer to us as ‘their Pakeha’, as if they forgot that we’re free men of Great Britain and not at all here by their leave. Still, they liked to brag to other tribes that they had us, and perhaps it increased their self-importance in some way, so we all said good luck to them. As long as the fish came when we asked for it, and they kept trading the flax we needed for the boats, then so be it.

If you’re wondering, I made the walk along the island to perhaps catch a glimpse of a certain young lady I’d heard might be visiting Waiorua with her family. They’re Te Ati Awa, the sometimes friends, sometimes not, of Te Rauparaha’s Ngati Toa, and they’re well settled on the mainland. I had thought to myself, a man could do worse than being the pet Pakeha of a family like that…

Te Rauparaha seemed to have gained some kind of respect for me since I chased him off my cutter with a hatchet. He was demanding something I’d not had the mind to give him, and his confrontation got the better of my temper. I think the great Chief always did know the right time to surrender ground and over the side he went in a great retreat! Once we’d smoothed the old boy’s feathers he seems to have become a little fond of me, and it’s for that and his influence I was able to even think of courting the daughter of Rawiri Nukaiahu, a chief of the Puketapu. His wife Pakewa signed that Treaty you know, the one the missionary from up north brought to Port Nicholson, for what good it did them.

It’s grand when a little Dutch courage pays off like that, for on the walk along the island that day I snuck a look at her in the distance, and it was not long before I was able to marry her. Well, this is a fib. We married in 1849, but the marriage itself started in 1841, but such is the way in New Zealand. Her name was Pairoke, and she was my wife for 12 good years. A grand twelve years. And what a family we made.

 

F,FLP

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