The Daldy Mcwilliams ‘Outrage’ of 1879
Hart, P. (2016). The Daldy Mcwilliams ‘Outrage’ of 1879. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 16), Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10325
In the later 1870s, conflicts developed near Paeroa between a small hapu, Ngati Hako, and other hapu over land sales and surveys. In 1879, after some members of Ngati Koi offered to sell the Pukehanga Block, at Rotokohu, between Paeroa and Te Aroha, to the Crown, surveyors were sent to determine the boundaries despite threats of violence from Ngati Hako. These threats became a reality with shots being fired, wounding a surveyor’s assistant, ‘Daldy’ McWilliams, who survived by playing dead. Despite Pakeha fury about a ‘weak’ response, officials reacted cautiously, fearing to provoke a wider conflict. Instead of trying to arrest the two men accused of the attempted murder, which would have been difficult, because Ngati Hako claimed their action was justified the Native Minister encouraged senior Hauraki rangatira to convene a rununga to examine their claim. Ngati Hako said that the block of land was theirs, and as previously other land had been surveyed without their permission they had taken this action. The government was criticized for paying advances on a block that had not been through the land court, and the rununga determined that although Ngati Hako had acted wrongfully, their action could be justified. When Ngati Hako refused to hand over the two accused to the authorities, the rununga claimed not to have the power to hand them over; Ngati Hako then constructed two pa to defend themselves. Such actions provoked much frustration and criticisms of the government amongst Pakeha, but officials who investigated Ngati Hako’s complaints agreed that they had indeed lost land unjustly. Once the owners of a large domain, they had lost their land to the invading Marutuahu, whose slaves they became. When the two accused were arrested in 1882 one was found not guilty and the other was amnestied after eight months in prison because it was believed that, as rangatira, they probably had not fired the shots but had taken the responsibility for the actions of their hapu. As for McWilliams, he received what he considered inadequate compensation. This ‘outrage’ was the first and only time in Hauraki that a Maori had shot a Pakeha, and the government’s cautious but firm response meant that the ‘peace of Hauraki’, although disturbed for a while, was maintained.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart