David Cole in the News

18 February 1863
The cases of damage by fire brought by the Maoris against Mr. David Cole, of Mangapai, were brought to a close yesterday (Tuesday), February 10th, at a Court held at the Wangarie Hotel before H. R. Aubrey, Esq., Resident Magistrate, and a bench of Justices of the Peace. I should have sent you a report in extenso of the proceedings on the first day of the investigation, a week ago, but I was attending the meeting of the Agricultural Society, at Mangapai; and however ubiquitous) a. newspaper correspondent may be, he can scarcely be in two places at the same time. With reference to the matter in dispute between Mr. Cole and the Maoris, and without wishing to throw the slightest discredit on the closing statement of the worthy Resident Magistrate, the impression on my mind, after hearing the whole of the examination yesterday, was that Mr. Cole had been made the victim of a conspiracy on the part of the natives, who, having made a loss by fire, wished to recover from the only European they could possibly fix on with certainty, as having passed by them the day of the fire. Mr. Cole is the contractor for carrying the mails from Mangapai to Mangawai, and vice versa, and is accustomed to pass through or near this Maori settlement every Friday and Saturday. Most certainly a fire took place, and according to evidence (Maori evidence not on oath), considerable damage was done but the evidence fitted too well, the witnesses, according to the interpreter, Mr. Dent, deposed to the facts they wished to establish in exactly the same language. Not one of them could state how Mr. Cole was dressed, though they stated they saw him stoop down and light a fire with matches, and saw the matches. One woman said he had a coat, vest, trousers, and shirt on. Mr. Cole declares he had no coat with him that day at all; the Maoris all stated that the fire was lighted at from ten to eleven o'clock in the forenoon Mr. Coles' business of mail transport made it necessary for him to be at Mrs. Campbell’s, Waipu River, at that hour. Mr. Cole passed the point in question at seven in the morning, It seemed to me that all Mr. Cole needed to have done was to produced an affidavit, properly attested, that he was at Mrs. Campbells at the time stated, and thus prove an alibi. Of course, it might have been said that the Maori mind is incapable of judging of time, but no man I should think would give, them credit for such innocence and ignorance, as to suppose that they could make a mistake of three or four hours, and that too at the beginning of the day. I make full allowance for the imperfect idea the Maori may have of the effect their mode of stating facts may have on the bearings of any case, but I am not disposed to allow such a margin as is generally given them. If a native is making a bargain with you, he generally knows how to keep himself from imposition. There is no danger of a pakeha getting to the blind side of a Maori in the eyes of the authorities they are all innocence and charming artlessness. Another difficulty Mr. Cole had to contend with was this, that the trial took place under the "Resident Magistrates' Ordinance Act," under which, in cases between natives and Europeans, there can be no appeal to a higher court, and no trial before a jury. Of course, it may be quite true that our respected Resident Magistrates all over the country are quite competent to decide cases such as I have to-day to lay before the public, and order summary execution in default of payment; but this is a power never given to the highest legal authorities in the old country and that which is not expedient in old England cannot be expedient in Wangarei!

Justice is not a question of latitude and longitude. Do the vaunted “New Institutions” include any provisions for securing bona fide justice between the two races? Let us rejoice that Mr. Cole has been able to defeat an attempt to strip him of his hard-won goods and chattels, and obtained from a tribunal, constituted as the .Resident Magistrate's Courts are in this colony, a result so satisfactory as that which appears in your columns to-day. Through the kindness of the "Resident Magistrate, H. R. Aubrey, Esq., I was permitted to glance over the depositions taken on the first day's trial, and I, therefore, will give you a short sketch of what took place on that day,



Resident Magistrate's Court, at "Wangarci Hotel, "Wangarei, held on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, before H. Aubrey, Esq., Resident Magistrate; W. Bedlington, R. Reyburn, and John Munro, Esquires, Justices of the Peace.

David Cole, of Mangapai, appeared to answer a summons, obtained against him by Hona Te Horo, an aboriginal native, living near Mangapai, that on Jan. 10, 1863, he (David Cole) had wilfully sat on fire the fern near the complainant's settlement, by which he (complainant) had lost all his cultivation, and his burial ground had been partially destroyed. The damages were laid at £100, which brought the action within the jurisdiction of the magistrate. Mr. R. Dent was sworn interpreter during the trial. Hona Te Horo, aboriginal native, does not understand the nature of an oath, but will speak the truth. Deposes that he met defendant on Saturday, Jan. 10. Saw a fern hill burning. Saw defendant light the fern. He found his settlement burnt off. He got his horse and followed defendant. He went to defendant's house and saw him there. Plaintiff asked him to go and look at the fire. Defendant would not, as he knew nothing about the fire. Defendant told plaintiff to pay for a loaf he had. Plaintiff said he would go to Mr. Aubrey about it. Waitua, aboriginal native, does not know the nature of an oath, but would speak the truth. Deposes he was coming down the hill when he saw defendant sit down and light the fire. Hona went after defendant. He (witness) went with him. Saw defendant at his house. Said to him it was very bad to set the fern on fire. Defendant said he was not near the fire. He (witness) said again it was very bad to set the fern on fire. Asked defendant to go and see the fire. Defendant would not. Told defendant we would go to Mr. Aubrey.

Hemi, aboriginal native, does not know the nature of an oath, but will speak the truth. This man's evidence was to the same effect as that of the preceding witness. Certain it was defendant that lighted the fire. Saw him do it from his cultivation on which he and his wife were working.

Emera Toenga, aboriginal native, gave similar evidence. Saw defendant light the fire. Was sure it was him. Saw him stoop down and light the fire.

Messrs. W. Ormiston and Carter, of Mangapai, were called by defendant. Their evidence went to disprove the statements of the Maoris.

Mr. Norton, magistrate's clerk sworn: He said he was sent by the resident magistrate to see the damage done by the fire. He read the result of his investigation. Several patches of potatoes and kumaras had been passed over by the fire, and the tops only burnt off them. He gave the dimensions of the patches. 248 stalks of Indian corn, and several peach trees were burnt. Several yards of fencing also were burnt. The fire had entered into the burial ground, and destroyed the fence round one grave, and damaged the fence of another. Saw one acre of bush that had been burnt off. The Maoris told him that two canoes and some tons of fire wood were burnt.

Defendant, Mr. Cole, then made a declaration. He said that on Friday, January 9, he left his own house at 5 a.m., and proceeded to Mangawai with the mail. I did not see any fires until I reached the Waipu river, between 10 and 11 o'clock. Beyond that river I saw natives. I saw fires lighted, but cannot say who lighted them. On reaching Bream Tail, I saw more natives. Cannot say how many. Spoke to them about Kauri gum. They asked me where I was going. I told them to Mangawai, with the mail. They said they were going to Wangarei. After passing the natives on going through the bush, I came on a fire newly lit which was spreading on both sides of the track. I do not know who lit the fire, but I thought it was the Maoris. On my return with the mail next morning, the fire was still burning. I saw no Maoris on the road this day, till I reached the beach at Ruakaka. I was then passed by two on horseback, who passed the time of day with me and rode on. As I came through the Ruakaka valley, I saw saw that since I passed the day before, 8 or 10 fires had been lighted. They were still partly burning. I do not remember seeing any other fires after rising the fern ridge on the Mangapai side of Ruakaka. I do not see any fire on the spot. I am charged with having lighted one. I reached my own home at five minutes past 3 o'clock, p.m. On the evening of the same day, Saturday, about tea time, some hours after I got home, Hona and Waitua came to my house. After some desultory conversation, they asked me if the white covered cap hanging on the wall was mine. I said it was. They then asked me if I had lit the fire. I told them what fires I had seen on the road. Told them I had lighted no fires whatever. They were apparently satisfied, shook hands, and bid me good-bye. On Monday, while I was in Harrison’s store at Mangapai, the same natives came to me again. They told me that I had lit the fire, for I came along the road with a white hat on. Asked me to come and see the damage. I declined, saying I had not lighted the fire, and knew nothing about it. I sayed they had better pay their debts, than go about charging innocent men with lighting fires. They said they would go to Mr. Aubrey. Said that was the man they should go to. They said, if you pay us we will want little if we go to Mr. Aubrey, we shall charge plenty.

The Magistrates here decided to suspend judgment till the hearing of the second case, which was proceeded with. This was a similar charge against Mr Cole, brought by a native named Te Rata. The charge was that Mr. Cole had, on Friday, January 9th 1863, wilfully set on fire some fern by which complainants house, wearing apparel, tools, &c. had been destroyed. Damages were laid at £15.

Mr. R. Dent was sworn interpreter in this case also.

Te Rata, aboriginal native, does not understand the nature of an oath, but will speak the truth. Deposes that about 10 o'clock on the morning of Friday, January 9th, 1863, he was coming up the bye road, and passed defendant. He (plaintiff) looked back, and saw a fire. Saw defendant stoop down and light the fire. He (plaintiff) returned to the fire, and when he came there he saw a second fire lighted. He would have gone after defendant, but went to his house. When he got there one side of it was on fire. He took a box out of it. When the roof fell in he got his horse as soon as possible, and followed defendant to Waikaraka creek. He there met some natives, who asked him where he was going. He said he was following defendant, who had lighted a fire, and burnt his house. The natives replied he (defendant) would be back to-morrow. He (plaintiff) said he would write to defendant, and claim £15 damages.

Seven other witnesses were brought, and four examined.

Walker, aboriginal native, does not understand the nature of an oath, but will speak the truth. This man was a notorious character, as was shown in court. He said he met defendant on Bream Tail. He asked witness where he was going. He (witness) replied to Wangarei. Defendant said he was going to Mangawai with the mail. Defendant asked the price of kauri gum, and whether there was much at Mangawai. I answered him. Met Te Rata at Waikaraka creek asked him where he was going. Te Rata said he was following defendant, who had set fire to his place, and burnt his house. Witness said defendant would be back to-morrow. Te Rata said all right. I will write a letter to him and claim £15 damages. Witness and the other natives then went on to Waipu, and stayed all night. Next day, Saturday, January 18th. passed defendant on the beach, between the Waipu and Ruakaka river." He was returning to Mangapai. Saw two boxes of matches in his pocket. Did not see him light the fire, but was sure it was him, because he saw two boxes of matches in his pocket. Saw fire burning. Went on by Henry's.

Three other natives were examined who gave the same evidence verbatim, all but the extraordinary specimen of Maori penetration about the boxes of matches

The last of the four said he went the following Monday to defendant with a letter claiming £15 damages.

The Resident Magistrate said there was no use hearing any more of this evidence, they having all been together at Mangawai.

Mr. Norton, Clerk of Court, sworn. He said he was sent by the Resident Magistrate to see the damage done by the fire. Saw the remains of whare which had been burnt down. Saw the remains of two axes and spades which had been burnt. Was told by the natives that three blankets, one pilot coat, two bonnets, and other wearing apparel had been burnt.

[The latter part of this evidence, being only hearsay, can scarcely be considered evidence at all.]

The defendant then made a declaration, again denying that he had lighted any fire whatever. He passed the cross-road at 7 o'clock, a.m. a point necessary to be passed at that time, if the mail is to be in Mangawai at the proper time. At the time the Maoris state he was lighting the fire he was at Mrs. Campbells, Waipu river, taking refreshment.

By the Resident Magistrate: You say you did not light it?

 Defendant:- I most distinctly declare I did not light it.

 The evidence not being considered satisfactory, the Resident Magistrate adjourned the further hearing of the case for one week, to enable Te Rata to bring up more witnesses. This adjournment was ordered without any application from the plaintiff.

The Court was then cleared for deliberation on Hona's case. When it was opened the following decision was announced:- The judgment of the Court is that the case should be dismissed, there not being sufficient evidence to prove that defendant did the damage."

I may state that Hona replied to the magistrate, when the decision was announced to him, that although the case was done in this Court it was not done here (putting his finger to his heart). Mr. Bedlington said he should not use threatening language in that Court.


 Before H. R. Aubrey, Esq., Resident Magistrate; R. Reyburn, Esq., and Dr Perston, Justices of the Peace.

David Cole again appeared to answer the summons of Te Rata.

Mr. R. Dent was sworn as interpreter.

The evidence taken at the former sederunt of the Court was read over.

Yeki— aboriginal native— does not understand the nature of an oath but will speak the truth. On Friday, January 9th, I went to reap my wheat. I commenced to reap but did not reap long before I went to look after Maria. I said to Maria let us go home. We then went home. On the way homo we met defendant He was standing still. It was not long before he stooped down after he stooped the smoke arose. He, defendant, went on. When we nearly got to the first fire another fire commenced. At the first fire we saw Te Rata, he was going down to the house. We called to him to make haste or the house would be on fire, We thon followed Te Rata. When we got to the house Te Rata had got a box out. Te Rata then followed defendant; that is all I know.

Cross-examined by defendant: Sketch, drawn by Te Rata (produced). Asked witness to show where the fire commenced.

By the Resident Magistrate:- It may not be possible for witness to explain a sketch made by another man. Witness then drew one himself.

By Defendant - How far is the house from the place the fire was lighted? As far as from the court to over the river (about ten chains). How far is the wheat from the whare? Same' distance - ten chains. What did, he want with Maria? He wanted her because they had been away some time; he wanted to feed the pigs; he wanted to go home. What distance were they from the wheat at the time they saw defendant stand still? As far as from the court to the Rev. Mr. Corrie's (about fifty' chains). What time was it? He was not a good judge of time by the sun -  it was not so late as it was then (quarter to two). Was it two or six hours before one o'clock? Did not know. Did he tell anyone he knew nothing about the fire? No. Did he tell Mr. Eiffe, the surveyor, he knew nothing about the fire? No; all he said to Mr. Eiffe was, that it was too bad for defendant to set fire to the place.

Mr. Cole then produced a letter from Mr. Eiffe to himself, stating that the witness, under examination told him he knew nothing of the fire. The letter not being in the form of an affidavit could not be received as evidence.

Examination continued - Was not at Harrison's since the fire; did not go to Mangapai, because defendant was always on the road; was not afraid of defendant; could see a surveyor's pole, on a cut line, from the court to the top of the hill over the river (about thirty chains); witness was not short-sighted, could ti-tree over the river up the hill. On defendant asking again about Mr. Eiffe, witness replied that he had forgotten what he had said to Mr. Eiffe.

Maria, aboriginal native woman, does not understand the nature of an oath, but will speak the truth. On Friday, January 9th, she and the other woman went to feed pigs. Yeki came to them and said let us go home. When we got on the road we saw defendant. He was standing still. He stooped down. We then saw smoke. That is all I know.

In answer to the Resident Magistrate this witness stated that she saw defendant light the fire, that burnt the house. He lighted it with matches. She saw the matches. She was about ten chains from the defendant when he lighted the fire. She knew it was defendant. Yeki told her so. She had seen him once before at Mahungati. He was dressed in European clothes - coat, vest, and trousers on. She could not describe the clothes. She did not remember his hat. Yeki was not considered to have bad eyes.

Examined by Defendant: She had seen defendant before at his own place, when she was buying goods there. Te Rata was on the top of the hill when the fire was lighted. Yeki has something the matter with one eye, but can see very well with both.

Ellen, aboriginal native women, does not understand the nature of an oath, but will speak the truth. This woman's statement was word for word with Maria's. In answer to the Resident Magistrate she said she was quite sure it was defendant who lighted the fire that destroyed the whare. She saw Te Rata there close to the defendant. She had seen defendant once before in August last. No other pakeha besides defendant is accustomed to go that road. Could not say how defendant was dressed. Te Rata went to Waikaraka Creek, and then came back. The fern is very high and thick where defendant lighted it. It was lighted on a hill.

Examined by Defendant: She saw defendant light the fire. Could not say what with. She knew it was defendant because it was Friday, and defendant always came along that day. She pointed to the place the sun would be at about 10 or 1 1 o'clock, and said that was about the time defendant lighted the fire.

Defendant then made a declaration, which the Resident Magistrate ruled was a written statement - read to the court. He said Te Rata Yeki and the two women have said that they saw me light that fire. I distinctly declare I have not done it. The time they saw me light this fire I was at Mrs. Campbell at the Waipu river. They say they do not know what clothes I had on. Another says I had coat, vest, trousers, &c, on the colours she does not know, although she could see matches in my hand. They all know I go that way every Friday and return every Saturday, although, two other men carry the mails as well as me they do not know them but they know me, although some have only seen me once before. They state that no other pakehas pass that way, although other people have been and returned with me on Friday and Saturday. There are two gentlemen in the court who have been that way.

The Resident Magistrate asked Mr. Cole what time he actually passed the place? - Mr. Cole: 7 in the morning.

The Court was then cleared, and after a long time had elapsed, it was re-opened, when Mr. Cole was addressed by Mr. Aubrey: You stated that you were prepared to make oath that you neither lighted nor caused to be lighted any fire on Friday, January 9th. between the hours of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., at or near the Maori settlement in question. - Mr. Cole said I am prepared to take that oath. Mr. Cole then took the oath as drawn by the Court.

The decision of the Court was that plaintiff must be nonsuited.

The Resident Magistrate then told plaintiff that if Mr. Cole had not taken the oath, he would have given the case in his (plaintiff's) favour which view had the concurrence of Dr. Preston. Mr. Reyburn, however, would not agree with the statement.

This case was thus brought to a close after which a subscription was entered into to give these Maoris some money, although the gainer of the cause, a white man, could not get his costs.

I trust you will excuse the length of the report, but I believe this claim to be one of abominable fraud, from the entanglements of which an innocent white man has escaped only by the skin of his teeth. Such frauds ought to be fully exposed. Would not pakehas be indicted for conspiracy in such a case?
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIX, Issue 1742, 18 February 1863

 28 February 1863

On Thursday the 3rd instant, a case of some importance to this district, was heard before H, It. Aubrey, Esq., and three Justices, in which the plaintiff Hona, a Maori chief, sued the defendant, Mr. David Cole, of Mangapai, for damages to the amount of £100, caused by fire, alleged to have been lighted in the fern by defendant on Saturday, the 10th ultimo.

The plaintiff produced three natives as witnesses, two of whom said that they had seen the defendant light the fire. On cross examination, however, it was apparent that they had not done so, but merely concluded that he had lighted it, because they saw no one else on the road about the time the fire was first observed. Their evidence was very contradictory and unsatisfactory, although it had evidently been got up with great care. The evidence of Hemi, which was considered the most trustworthy, was completely disproved by Mr. Carter, one of the witnesses for the defendant, who stated that it was impossible for Hemi to have distinguished any object at the distance which, intervened between him and the defendant (who was then passing along the track with the overland mail from Mangawhai), and the dense scrub which surrounded him. Mr. Carter also swore that Hemi had called on him at the time the fire was supposed to have commenced to ascertain if it had not been lighted by any of his (Mr. C's) family. The result was that the court decided that the case be dismissed, there being no evidence to connect the defendant with the affair.

On judgment being given, the plaintiff said that although the case is finished in this court, it is not finished (pointing to his heart) here. This has been rather an extraordinary case; the claim at first was for £200. It was afterwards reduced to £100, and a few days before the trial came on Hona was willing to settle it for £5. Mr. Cole being averse to anything like compromise, declined to avail himself of this offer, as he denied any participation in the act. On the same day another native named Rata, from Ruakaka, charged the defendant in the foregoing case with having lighted a fire in the fern on the 9th ultimo, which spread to the plaintiff whare, and burnt it down, together with some clothing and tools, value £15.

Several witnesses were brought by plaintiff, who stated that they were coming from Mangawhai on that day, and that Rata told them that the defendant had set fire to his place and burnt his house, but they all agreed in saying that they had not seen the occurrence. There being no evidence, the Resident Magistrate adjourned the case for a week, to give the plaintiff time to bring forward other witnesses.

No doubt Mr. Rata will be able to concoct something more to the purpose. The most extraordinary part of this case was the evidence of a European, who said he had gone to see the damage done by the fire, and found that a whare, three blankets and several articles of wearing apparel were totally destroyed. This witness did not say he had seen the articles that were burnt, for his evidence to be of any value, he ought to have done so. If he did not see them (which of course he could not) his evidence was of no value, hearsay evidence being inadmissible in a Court of Justice.
Daily Southern Cross,” Feb. 11.

February 12th
Since my communication was finished and ready for posting, I was surprised by the arrival of Mr. Cole, the defendant, in haste, at Wangarei. He came to see Tirarua, the chief, and Mansell, the native magistrate, who had just arrived from Auckland by the steamer Tasmanian Maid.' Mr. Cole and his interpreter Mr. Dent, accompanied by your correspondent, and another well-known settler, at Wangarei, followed the chief to the spot where he had encamped for the night in the bush, owing to the illness of some of his party. They seemed delighted with their trip to Auckland, and showed us their likenesses. They kept us waiting about half-an-hour before they would allow Mr. Cole to open his business; On the road to the encampment we called on Mansell, who directed us to the chief, and he soon after followed us. Mr. Cole then laid a complaint before Tirarua the chief, that this morning his cattle had been stolen by an aboriginal native, Waitoa, one of the witnesses in the late trial- and with the cattle of Mr. Cole, the cattle of other parties; settlers at Mangapai. Mr. Cole wanted the chief to exercise his influence over the native and induce him to restore the cattle. The chief said he could do nothing, and referred the case to the magistrate. Mr. Cole then asked the magistrate for a letter to the native recommending him to restore the cattle and no more would be said about the matter, but Mansell, the magistrate, for a long time refused to interfere, and said the law must take its course, but after some persuasion he agreed to give the letter next morning at eight o'clock. You will thus see that the Maoris have commenced making reprisals on Mr. Cole, thus paying no respect to the decision of the legal tribunals. Daily Southern Cross,”
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIX, Issue 1751, 28 February 1863

28 February 1863

The following remark was made in the Resident Magistrate's court room on Tuesday, the 3rd instant, in the hearing of the plaintiff and his friends (Maoris), in the case of Hona v. Cole, by one who might have been expected to know better Mr. Cole, although you have been successful in this case, it would have been more to your advantage had it been the other way.” I suppose the person who made this remark meant that it was better for Europeans to submit to any false charges or impositions from the natives, than endeavour to prove their innocence and clear their characters through fear of outrage or annoyance from them.

The Maoris are a shrewd people, and they soon learn what are the feelings of those in whose company they are thrown. They seem to believe that in regard to them the Resident Magistrate's arm is “paralysed,” and that they may bounce with impunity even in his court. On the very day alluded to. Hona said, when the magistrate's decision was announced to him, that although the case was settled there it was not settled with him. This native, although generally considered one of the quietest and best-behaved in the district, has not been long in proving that he is in earnest. Perhaps he may think he is all right, and he may have taken what was said to the defendant in court as an encouragement rather than anything else. At all events, on the morning of Thursday, the 12th instant, when Mr. T. Gash was driving some cattle at Mangapai, Waitowa, a native, brother to Hona, and one of his so-called witnesses in the case alluded to, accompanied by other three natives, came up to Mr. Gash and asked him if those were Mr. Cole's cattle he was informed that some were Mr. Cole's and the others belonged to several other parties. Waitowa replied “Never mind, I shall take them all.” He and his party immediately rounded them up, and succeeded in driving away nine head. Mr. Cole, on learning what had happened, immediately went to Wangarei to consult Tirarau, the Ngapuhi chief, who had that morning arrived from Auckland by the steamer “Tasmanian Maid.” Mr. Cole stated the case to Tirarau and the native assessor, Manihera; the former was at first unwilling to interfere, and said that Manihera was the party to act in such cases. Mr. Cole wished the assessor to go with him to Mangapai, but this he declined, as he had other public business to attend to that would take him several days. It was then suggested that he might give Mr. Cole a letter to Hona. He asked Mr. Cole to come to him again next morning, and by that time he would consider what was best to be done. Accordingly Mr. Cole went next morning to Tirarau's camp, when he received a letter from Manihera and another from Tirarau, to the following effect Feb. 13, 1863. Friend Hona, salutations to you and your brother. David Cole, mail carrier, they are his cattle that Waitawa has robbed. This is what I have to say: Hona, send the cattle back to the white man, and save further trouble in this case. This is all from “MANIHERA.”

Feb. 13, 1863. Friend Hona, salutations to you and your brother. David Cole has been here. What I have to say is be lenient to the white men at your place as settlers. The Europeans are increasing and we are decreasing. I say restore the cattle to the white man, and thus save further trouble in this matter. From your father, “TIRARAU.”

These are straightforward, business-like letters. If the British authorities would act with similar promptitude and proper energy, they would have no difficulty in dealing with the natives. Maoris never respect persons who are deficient in courage, but always take advantage of them. It is expected that the cattle will at once be returned.
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIX, Issue 1751, 28 February 1863

3 July 1868
ROBBERIES  have been of frequent occurrence during the past mouth or two, one day of fowls or turkeys from one party, another of sheep (from one to four) from others. Having hitherto had almost an immunity from depredations of the kind, we looked with suspicion on parties of gum-diggers who are seeking a very precarious livelihood in the place, so well gone over a few years since by the Rotorua natives. A large number of Maoris have also been feasting here for two or three weeks; they came from Kaipara, Whangarei, &c. many say to consider their position with regard to the Bay of Islands disturbances, but ostensibly, at least, for the purpose of “bone-scraping.” They numbered somewhere about fifty, and stopped probably the same number of days. The thefts were so adroitly performed that little clue could be obtained, and such as existed was useless for want of the proper authority to follow it up. At last, on the night of the 10th instant, the store of Mr. David Cole was broken into, and a cashbox, containing money and cheques, abstracted. Mr. Cole, on discovery next morning, took the most active measures, though possibly not strictly within the boundaries of red tape, and appears unfortunately to have got on the wrong scent, by which much loss of time, trouble, and expense are added to his loss by the robbery. There is little doubt that, had there been the possibility of obtaining a search warrant and the assistance of a constable immediately, we might have had a more satisfactory result. Certainly a little more local self-government in this instance was required. Our distance from the semblance of British law is well exemplified in this case by Collins having been arrested by two or three natives armed with revolvers, tied hand and foot, and kept so all night, without warrant or, as it proved, sufficient grounds for his legal detention. Such interference is felt to be insufferable, helping to foster the vicious notion of their superiority, in which they have been so effectually trained. We are tired of representing our wants to the Government of the province of the city of Auckland. I send a report of the case. The prisoner was taken to Whangarei Heads, brought back, and tried here.
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIV, Issue 3421, 3 July 1868

3 July 1868

Mr. Aubrey, R. M., held a Court at James's Hotel on Monday, 15th June, to hear a charge of burglary made against William Collins by Mr. David, Cole, storekeeper.

David Cole, examined: On the night of 8th June, I left my store at about 8 o'clock, and on my return about 10 o'clock found a pane of glass in my store window broken, and a cash box containing about £3, and sundry papers, were taken therefrom; also a silver pencil case. The next morning I searched about for traces of the stolen property. I found the cash box broken, and several of the papers torn, and the money and pencilcase gone. I found the handle of a gum spear, which I now produce. I traced the marks of feet, and then returned home. I sent for a native chief to see what had been done, and, after making examination, the chief went back to the native settlement where there were a large number of Maoris collected. The chief took the gum spear handle with him. On examining the spear handle, the natives said that they had seen a white man carrying the stick, or one like it, the evening before, and that they would know him again should they see him. I asked them if they could get him for me. They said they could. They then went to his whare and took him into custody. I kept him at my house till next day, and then sent him down to the R.M. at Whangarei Heads.

Te Puki, being asked by Mr. Ormiston, who acted as interpreter, if he knew the nature, of an oath, replied that he did not, but that he would speak the truth. He said: As I and others were on the road from Pokupu to Cole’s store, we met a man whom I believe to be the prisoner. He had the stick produced, or one like it. It differs from those made by Maoris, and I believe it was made by a white man. The prisoner is so like him, that I am certain he is the man who carried the stick. I know him by his trousers and shoes. It was on Tuesday or Wednesday morning last that I saw him. Am not certain of the day; but it was the day before Mr. Cole wrote for Hona.

By Mr. Cole: Did you tell me that you knew the man by his eyes, his nose, and clothes, and could pick him out from a number of white men? -  yes.

Hona, of Mangapai, sworn, said: On Wednesday last I received a letter from Mr. Cole to go to his place. I went and examined a broken window in his store, then went with him past his stockyard and saw pieces of paper about an inch long, and after that the stick, produced and a cash box from that we traced footsteps as far as the broken window  Mr. Cole gave me the stick and box, which I took to the native settlement at Pokupu. Showed them to the assembled natives, who all said that the stick was not of Maori but white man's make. Several of the natives said he was flourishing his stick as he walked along, and that this was the man and that the stick (pointing them out). At first I suspected the Maoris, but after going to the settlement, and examining the stick and the footmarks, I knew it was a white man. I compared it with the circumstances of my own place having been robbed some time since by a white man, In answer to Mr Cole: I was asleep at the native settlement when the prisoner was first brought there. I heard 20 to 30 natives say that that was the man they saw near your place on the previous day at the time prisoner was brought, and on his way to the beach. I saw that his naked footprints corresponded with those that Mr. Cole and I traced between the store and where the box and stick were found.

To the Bench: I did not measure the footprints I only went by the sameness. It might have been another white man, but all the other white men had shoes. About the middle of the day after I saw the footprints near the store, I saw those of the prisoner on his way to the beach. When he was brought to the settlement the natives took about five minutes to examine him they all said he was the man that stole the money. I then brought him to Mr. Cole’s house. None of the natives, to my knowledge, saw the robbery committed. They fixed upon this man in consequence of the stick. For many years here the pakeha and Maori have lived here without anything being stolen, but, when the tramps came about, robberies were committed. When they robbed John Hall's house they took off their boots; and when Mick robbed my house he took off his boots.

Samuel Harris deposed: On Friday night last I obtained a search warrant from the Resident Magistrate at Whangarei Heads. I returned to Mangapai and searched the prisoner's whare for a silver pencil-case and sum of money stolen from Mr. Cole's store on Wednesday night last, but I did not find anything there. There was no one in the house at the time of my search. Another man named McCormick lived in the same whare. The prisoner was handed, over to me on Thursday night by natives whose names I do not know. They had him tied. There were three or four of them. I am not aware that the natives received any reward for capturing the prisoner, Do not know if they were promised any.

The Resident Magistrate said there was no evidence to convict the prisoner, and he was thereupon discharged.
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIV, Issue 3421, 3 July 1868



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