top of page

Amicable interactions v adversarial ones?

In May 2021, it came to the attention of the author, that a musket which was being claimed as the one which King George IV gifted Hongi Hika, was being listed for auction by Webb's Auction House. The author was intrigued, and wanted to know whether this was in fact, the authentic gun which the King gave Hongi when they met at Carlton House on 13th November 1820; so he had a quick look at the images provided by Webb's, and it was his determination (judging by the official documents he had personally viewed at the Royal Archives, Queen's Apartments, Windsor Castle in October 2019), that this particular firearm did not match the descriptions in those records.

Initially, the author did not want to intervene in this matter (as he was preparing to publish his own research which included the gifts exchanged between the King, Hongi, and Waikato); but after learning that some Maori communities, especially within Ngapuhi, were concerned about the impending sale, including Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi (TRAION) who were considering bidding on the gun - decided to go to the media in order to save Ngapuhi from wasting an exorbitant amount of money, and their reputation.

The author was interview by journalist, Ella Stewart, whose article was aired/published by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) on 13 May 2021. Although the media wanted the author to provide copies of the documents he had viewed, he refused (copyright and credibility issues) but provided verbal excerpts from the documents.

Initially, Webb's disputed the author's findings, stating that the previous owner had done 3 months' research regarding the gun, but later that day they decided to withdraw the gun from the auction. The author stated that 'it doesn't matter whether it was three months or three years, if you don't look in the right place, you won't find the right information'. The author was concerned that the owner had lost an opportunity to sell his firearm, and wanted to relay his message that this was not done out of malice, but of necessity, so he contacted Ben Errens, a representative from Webb's, and agreed to meet when they were able (international Covid restrictions were in force at the time) and show him the documents I had viewed - to satisfy both him and the owner that his determination was based on solid evidence. There were reports that threats were made against Webb's, and/or, the owner, which, if true, are not condoned, and not conducive to positive discussions regarding the proposed sale of the gun.

Nearly a year later, the author was able to travel to Aotearoa New Zealand (after travel restrictions had been lifted), where John Gow, of the Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland, welcomed him and provided access to the gun in question. As the author had recently received permission from the Royal Archives to publish the documents he had viewed, he gave Mr Gow access to these so that he was satisfied that the decision to withdraw the gun was the right one. Although the author was not able to meet with Mr Errens during this trip, it is hoped that a meeting can be conducted in July this year.

The author would like to acknowledge and thank Mr Gow for facilitating such a positive and productive meeting, where they were able to discuss the matters surrounding the gun, and future research possibilities to uncover possible links between the King, Hongi, Hone Heke, and/or, anyone else. The author has offered to provide Mr Gow with any information he may discover regarding the gun in the future. Amicable relationships are preferable to adversarial ones, and lead to much more positive results for all involved.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page