Friend, McLean

He wahine, he whenua, e ngaro ai te tangata

The Alexander Turnbull Library holds the largest surviving collection of 19th century letters in Te Reo Māori: Series 2 of the Sir Donald McLean Papers.

Sir Donald McLean (1820-1877) was born in Scotland and arrived in New Zealand in 1840. He was a dominant – and controversial – figure in government relations between Māori and the Government during the mid 19th century.

McLean, also referred to as ‘Te Makarini’, became fluent in Te Reo Māori, and as Protector of Aborigines in Taranaki, resolved disputes between Māori and settlers until the Aboriginal Protectorate Department was abolished in 1846. McLean then served as a police inspector, a land purchase agent, and later head of the Native Land Purchase Department until 1856, when he was appointed Native Secretary. In 1863, McLean was appointed General Government Agent in Hawkes Bay, and three years later was elected to Parliament, where he wrote the Native Land Act of 1873.

McLean stands out for being more willing than most of his settler contemporaries to allow Māori some limited say in the country's legislative and political structures. However, as historian Ray Fargher states, he was ultimately at the heart of policies that led "to the political, economic and cultural marginalisation of the Māori within what had been their own country".

Sir Donald McLean’s Papers, MS-Group-1551, comprise 16 linear metres of manuscript materials. Series 2 of the collection includes nearly 3000 letters in Māori to McLean from 1840 to 1877. The letters in Māori provide unique insight into Māori attitudes to land and land sales, inter-hapū politics, the social history of Māori communities, interaction between Māori and Pākehā, and how Te Reo Māori developed as a written language.

The entire collection of McLean’s papers was microfilmed, and selections from the papers were later digitised so they could be viewable online through the library’s former Manuscripts and Pictorial website and via the TAPUHI unpublished collections catalogue.

However until recently, only a small portion of the letters in Māori – approximately 16 per cent -- had been transcribed, translated and made available online.

Albumen portrait of Sir Donald McLean.Detail of portrait of Sir Donald McLean by Samuel Carnell, 1880s. Ref: PA2-0398.

A collaborative effort

E Mā: Ngā Tuhituhinga ki a Makarini, or the E Mā Project was established in 2005 to transcribe and translate the nearly 3,000 Māori letters from the McLean Papers. The project was named in reference to the many letters which addressed McLean (Te Makarini) by the shortened form, E Mā. Funding for the project was provided by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, the National Institute of Research Excellence for Māori Development and Advancement at the University of Auckland. Dr Ngapare Hopa and Te Kohu Douglas led the project, and Dr Hopa and Dr Jane McRae completed the transcriptions and translations of the letters.

The translators aimed to produce ‘working translations’ that are clear and readable, and that stay close to the original Māori. Each letter has been translated and reviewed by two people and every effort was made to achieve accurate translations, though they are not to the standard of academic translations. The transcriptions of the letters use modern orthography for ease of reading, and current forms of names and places.

The Library has purposely attached the digital transcription/translation to the descriptive record for each letter, along with the digitised image of the letter, so readers may apply their own analysis and understanding to these materials.

In 2009, the E Mā Project donated the first 600 transcriptions and translations to the Library, and in 2012, the library received the completed work of the E Mā Project, totalling 2,373 Microsoft Word files on 3 compact discs. The documents were ingested to the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA), and each file was linked to its corresponding letter in the McLean Papers. The work of processing these files and ensuring that each digital file was attached to the item record for the correct letter was truly a cross-library effort, with staff from Curatorial Services, Digital Collections Strategy, NDHA, DigitalNZ, and the Arrangement and Description team all playing a role.

Although the transcriptions/translations were primarily created as tools to increase the usability of the McLean papers, they are also collection items in and of themselves, with their own history and provenance. As a reflection of that, the documentation about the E Mā Project and its aims has been described as its own collection.

“Sir, he’s a mad one, that man”: E Mā in action

Thanks to the work of the E Mā Project, you can now look at a digitised copy of the original letter, as well as the transcription/translation as a separate document.

The letter below was written by Tamihana Te Rauparaha, son of the famed Ngāti Toa leader, to McLean.

Here’s a scan of the first page of the original letter from 3 September 1866 (MS-Papers-0032-0690F-16):

First page of a letter from Tamihana Te Rauparaha to McLean. Transcript and translation below.Letter from Tamihana Te Rauparaha to McLean, 3 October 1866. Ref: MS-Papers-0032-0690F-16.

And here’s the transcription in Te Reo of the complete letter by the E Mā Project:

Horo Parihi, whahi Otaki
2 Oketopa 1866

E hoa, e Te Makarini

Tena koe. No taku kitenga i a Matene Te Whiwhi e haere atu ana ki kona, ki Poneke, na konei au ka tuhituhi atu i tetahi pukapuka aroha atu naku ki a koe, ki taku papa atawhai i nga ra i noho tahi ai taua, i haere tahi ai. Ka nui taku ngahau ki a koe, ki to mahi tika rawha mo nga Hauhau nanakia o te takiwha o Whaiapu. No te matenga i a koe i ahua pai ai, i whehi ai, he kaha no te whiu, he ngawari nou ki te whakapai i o Maori Kuini, ki te whakakaha hoki i a ratou. Kati nga korero mo tera mahi ki nga Hauhau o Whaiapu, o Turanga, o Te Whairoa.

E hoa, e pewhea ana ra koe ki Rangitikei? Kua whakaaetia nei e matou kia hokona atu. Ki taku whakaaro ka nui te pai, ka rangatira rawha hoki nga tangata Maori, i te pai o te awha o Manawhatu mo nga tima mo nga kaipuke.

Kei whakarongo mai ki nga mahi tito whakararuraru a Parakaia ratou ko ona hoa, ka whai mana nga ingoa o enei tangata. Kua mohio ranei koe, e taku hoa, ki enei tangata e haerere atu na ki Poneke.

Kua tapa rawhatia te ingoa o Parakaia ko te tima nei ko Kopikopiko. He tangata whakararuraru taua Parakaia, nana hoki i whakakiki ki nga tangata [o] Otaki kia kaua e whakarongo ki nga kairuri i tonoa mai ra e te Kawanatanga hei kai ruri mo nga whenua o nga tangata Maori. E ki ana me tiki atu ano ki Poneke, he Pakeha pera me tana i tono mai nei, hei kairuri i ona kainga i Rangitikei, i Manawhatu.

E koro, he tangata porangi taua tangata, kaore hoki koe i mohio ki a ia mua i a koe e hokihoki mai ra kia kite i a matou.

Na o maua matua hoki i pupuri iho tena kainga a Rangitikei, i te wha e hoko ana koe i tera taha o Rangitikei ki a Ngati Apa. I reira hoki maua ko Matene e pupuri ana, kei riro i a Ngati Apa te hoko ki a koe. I kite ranei koe i taua Parakaia i reira, e pupuri mai ana i Rangitikei ki tenei taha, ki a maua, kei riro atu i a Ngati Apa te hoko ki a koe? Kaore pea koe i kite i a Parakaia i taua takiwha. Katahi ano a Parakaia ka whakatupu ake i ona parirau, he rerenga mona. Kei a ia nga mano eka o te whenua o Rangitikei, o Manawhatu.

E hoa, kei tukua e koe tenei reta aku ki te nupepa, mo taua [a]nake tenei korero, he hoa hoki koe ki a au. Na konei hoki au i tuhituhi atu ai ki a koe.

Tenei a Ruta te hoatu nei i tona aroha ki a koe.

Naku, na to hoa aroha, Tamihana Te Rauparaha

Ki a Te Makarini, Hupiritene kai Poneke

And finally, here’s the translation of the letter into English:

Horo Parish, part of Otaki
2 October 1866

Friend, McLean,

Greetings. It is from my seeing Matene Te Whiwhi on the way to Port Nicholson that I am writing this affectionate letter to you, my caring father in the days when we lived together and travelled together. I have greatly appreciated you, and your fine work against those wicked Hauhau in the Waiapu region. By your defeat of them there was some peace and safety [?], and there was [your] persistent pursuit, quietly acknowledging the Maori Queens and encouraging them. Enough talk about that action against the Hauhau of Waiapu, Turanga, and Te Wairoa.

Friend, how are you doing with Rangitikei? We have agreed to sell it. To my mind, that would be very good, it would nobly benefit the Maori people, for the Manawatu river is good for steamers and ships.

Don’t take any notice of the fabrications and troublemaking of Parakia and his friends, who are after making themselves famous. You’ll recognise these people, my friend, who keep going to Port Nicholson.

Parakaia should really be named after the steamer Kopikopiko [Meanderer]. He’s a trouble maker that Parakaia; he also urged the people of Otaki not to listen to the surveyors sent out by the Government to survey the lands of Maori. He said they should fetch another one from Port Nicholson, a Pakeha like the one he called in to survey his lands at Rangitikei and Manawatu.

Sir, he’s a mad one, that man; and you did not know him before, until you kept coming back to see us.

Our own elders held back that land of Rangitikei, at the time you were buying that side of Rangitikei from Ngati Apa. Matene and I were also holding back with it there, in case Ngati Apa took up selling it to you. But did you see that Parakaia there, holding on to Rangitikei on this side with us, in case Ngati Apa sold it to you? I doubt that you saw Parakaia at that time. Parakaia has only just sprouted wings to fly with. He has thousands of acres of land in Rangitikei and Manawatu.

Friend, don’t sent this letter of mine to the newspaper, this talk is only for you and I, since you are a friend of mine. That’s also the reason I wrote to you.

Ruta here sends her love to you.

From me, from your good friend, Tamihana Te Rauparaha

To McLean, Superintendant at Port Nicholson

The letters in Māori from the Sir Donald McLean Papers are arranged by date. Most of the letters include the name of writer, their iwi or hapū affiliation, and the place of writing or residence, making it easy to search for letters by a particular person, or about a particular subject or location.

The series includes many letters relating to Taranaki land issues, and about land purchase negotiations with Ngāti Kahungunu hapū in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa. The fighting against Te Kooti on the East Coast is also a topic of much discussion within the letters.

Thanks to the work of the E Mā project team, students and researchers around the world will be able to access and better understand these unique documents from New Zealand’s history.

For more on Donald McLean, see Ray Fargher, The Best man who ever served the Crown? A Life of Donald McLean , Victoria University Press, Wellington 2007.

Accessing E Mā Project files

From the collection page for Series 2 of the McLean papers, you can browse the folders of Inward letters in Māori. For example, the folder MS-Papers-0032-0676E, shows a record for the folder, and for each of the 15 letters from between October and December 1852 that the folder contains.

Going to the record page for a letter shows its first page and catalogue details. Under the image, you’ll also see a link for the transcription/translation. Click on the title of the letter to go through to the NDHA viewer, where you’ll be able to download a Word document. (No need to click on the button to “Order copy” since it’s already freely available online!)

To search for particular people or places, search using ‘McLean letter’ and your term, for example McLean letter hauhau. If you’re getting results that aren’t relevant, narrow down your search with the filters on the left-hand side, particularly by setting Type to “Manuscripts”.

And as always, feel free to contact our friendly Research Enquiries team if you need further assistance.

By Valerie Love

Valerie is the Senior Digital Archivist at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

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