The Maori King
Chapter XX — Conclusion
People are suspicious of those who find fault without pointing out a remedy. I must, therefore, in this concluding chapter, try to answer the question, How are the Maories to be managed for the future? I may be allowed to premise that this is the most difficult part of my task. The previous chapters have been mainly a narration of facts, which I can publish without fear of contradiction. The present one is an expression of opinion on a subject respecting which opinions have generally proved wrong.
However many victories may be gained, and however much territory may be conquered, in the present war, we must either go on fighting till the Maories are exterminated, or we must at some point stop the war, and make a new attempt to govern.
It is, therefore, necessary to begin by considering what the invasion of Waikato has done, or can do, to help or hinder this future attempt.
The immediate result of the invasion was the very evil which the movement had been hurried on to avert. War being declared by the crossing of Mangatawhiri, all those ill-disposed Maories whom Tamihana and his friends had with difficulty restrained in time of peace, swarmed into the Hunua forest, and there carried on a guerilla warfare with the raw colonial levies, in the course of which much property was taken or destroyed, and many of the out-settlers were murdered. The General, in the meantime, after defeating a party of natives, who were rash enough to dispute possession of the Koheroa heights with our troops, had page 252 his further advance stopped by a Maori fortification at Meremere, which was too formidable to be attacked in front. All efforts to cut off the marauding parties from the Hunua forest failed; and, in spite of our twenty thousand men in arms, the farms on the skirts of the forest became a mere battle-ground. This state of things continued until the end of the month of October, a period of more than three months.
The arrival of an iron-plated steamer from Sydney then produced a change. By her help, General Cameron was enabled to pass, and so turn, the successive strong positions upon the bank of the river, in which the Waikatos had put their trust. The internal division which existed amongst the Maories before the war, continued during its progress. Rewi and Tamihana still remained rivals. The former led his men into the Hunua forest, to carry on savage warfare at an advantage; the latter sat down opposite General Cameron and the British troops at Meremere, to carry on civilized warfare at a disadvantage. The natives, beaten and almost crushed at Rangiriri, were Tamihana's followers, fighting purely on the defensive, to repel what they deemed an invasion of their country. In December, 1863, the General had reached Ngaruawahia; but Rewi, who is too prudent to meet him in the open field, is still untouched and defiant.1
1 [He was defeated at Orakau, 31 March to 2 April, 1864, the most famous battle of the Maori wars, though he displayed remarkable courage and escaped capture.]
No one can deny the truth of Renata's facts. Thus, though the Waikato war may have added somewhat to our reputation for power, it has destroyed what little credit we previously had for benevolence or justice. It has long been a common belief amongst the natives, in spite of assurances to the contrary, that the Pakeha intended, when strong enough, to attack them and rob them of their lands. The invasion of Waikato has proved to them that their apprehension was well founded. The government of an uncivilized people must, as Sir William Martin says, be built upon confidence; there is, among the Maories at the present moment, absolutely no confidence upon which to build.
What, then, is to be done?
1 AJHR, 1863, E-11.
2 Killed in the first battle on the Koheroa.
The effect of this scheme, if carried out, would be to exterminate the natives, upon false pretences, at the cost of the British Government, and for the benefit of the colonists. I do not, however, attribute to its authors a design so wicked. I believe they know the scheme to be impracticable, and have propounded it merely for the purpose of involving the British Government in an undertaking which will require the presence of a large body of troops, thus continuing that military expendture which is so profitable to the New Zealand colonists. I believe this is the opinion of almost every uninterested person acquainted with the facts. But so long as people in England are ignorant of the facts, the colonists, in reliance on their ignorance, have just expectations of attaining their object. Those facts I shall now endeavour to make known.
The moral ground on which the Act of Confiscation is justified, is expressed in a despatch of Sir George Grey, dated August 20th, 1863:—
‘The chiefs of Waikato having, in so unprovoked a manner, caused Europeans to be murdered, and having planned a wholesale destruction of some of the European settlements, it will be necessary now to take efficient steps for the permanent security of the country, and to inflict upon those chiefs a punishment of such a nature, as will deter other tribes from hereafter forming and attempting to carry out designs of a similar nature.’
1 [Grey made the first official suggestion that rebel land should be confiscated (AJHR, 1863, E-7, p. 8) but later became involved in arguments with ministers over the area to be taken. Grey's proposal is described on p.255, paragraph 3, and the Domett ministry's plan in the next paragraph.]
So much for the justice of the punishment which the colonists would inflict. Let us next consider how far their scheme would ensure the ‘permanent security of the country.’
When war first began, the design of the Government was to take military possession of the native districts bordering on the English frontier, and draw a line of military posts from the Pukorokoro Creek on the Hauraki Gulf, to Koheroa, on the Waikato river. It was expected that this chain of posts, combined with armed steamers on the Waikato river, would make a safe and defensible frontier for the Auckland Province. Within this frontier, on the southern slopes of the Hunua forest, the military settlers were to be stationed, and there, too, lands might have been reserved for any Maories who wished to share the benefits of civilized government—if, after the evictions at Mangere, such could be found—and live as recipients of colonial bounty. This scheme, though undoubtedly the best for the permanent security of the country, was deliberately abandoned for the present magnificent project, as soon as the fighting began.
In the new plan, the frontier line is drawn from Raglan, through the fertile plains of Upper Waikato, to Tauranga. No one can contend that the new frontier will render the English settlements more secure; but it will give the colonists more land, and increase and prolong the military expenditure of the British Government in New Zealand. Any person who will look at the map of Waikato, and recall the description of the country through which the line of frontier settlements is to pass, can form an idea of the boldness of the design, and of the force that will be required to carry it into execution. The courage with which the colonists have determined that the mother country shall spend vast sums among them, to conquer and protect rich lands for their benefit, is worthy of profound admiration.
1 ‘Owing to the disturbed state of the country, a great deal of the growing crop will be lost to the south of Auckland. Hostilities having commenced, the settlers in the out-districts were driven off their farms, and their crops were consequently neglected. The Wairoa district, famous for its thriving settlers and dairy produce, is now a military camp, desolated by the ravages of war, or the destruction which ever follows in its wake. The Pukekohe, Mauku, and Waiuku districts have also been deserted. So also have been the homesteads at and near Pokeno (the Queen's Redoubt). Thousands of acres laid down in grass and potatoes, in the districts named, and around Drury and Papakura, must be looked upon as valueless for this season. We do not speak of the loss of money in cattle, which at this time cannot be adequately calculated.’—Southern Cross (30 November, 1863).
That this project will tend to the civilization of the natives themselves, no one soberly believes. The clause in the Act of Confiscation, which requires a hundred acres of land to be reserved for each of the former proprietors, is inserted for the Aborigines Protection Society, and not for the Maories. Even if the natives could so far trust the Government, as to place themselves within its power, and could reconcile themselves to the prospect of living, feeble and despised, in the midst of the white race, no Maori could subsist upon a hundred acres of land, without an entire change of habits, which nothing but long education could produce.
After all, supposing the Government plan in Waikato to be attended with such complete success, as to convert the Waikatos into peaceful and obedient subjects, the question, How the rest of the native race is to be governed? is still unanswered. The Waikato tribes comprise not more than a fifth of the native population; and while the remaining four-fifths are lawless and hostile, permanent peace in New Zealand is an impossibility.
The result of the war, therefore, whatever it may be, will bring us back to the old question—How are the Maories to be managed?
The first step must be to do away at once and for ever with double Government. Let either the Imperial or Colonial Authorities be made absolute in native affairs. So long as the Colonial Government asks the Imperial sanction to its schemes, and thereby establishes a claim on the Imperial Treasury for assistance in defraying the expensive consequences of error, it page 258 will govern the Maories infinitely worse than if left entirely to itself. But, although the natives would be better managed by the colonists alone than by the double Government, it is very questionable, whether government by the colonists would be the best possible for the interests either of the Maories or of the colonists themselves.
Colonial legislatures are ill-adapted for the management of affairs in which much foresight, and provision for a distant future are required. Colonists, who call England ‘home,’ and regard the colony as a mere field for speculation, manage their government as a tenant manages a rack-rent farm. The pecuniary interests of the existing colonists are invariably preferred to the future well-being of the community. The New Zealand Assembly contains men of education and ability, who would argue any abstract question with candour and good sense, and come to an honest conclusion thereon; but the moment a question is started affecting any pecuniary interest, the House becomes, as I was once told by a leading member, a mere Assembly of delegates from the various provinces of the colony; each member well knows how he is expected to vote, and knows also, that any eccentricity in voting on his part, would evoke a speedy and unanimous call from his constituents for his resignation. To make matters worse, the New Zealand Assembly is becoming more and more democratic, and experience has proved, that no Government can avoid making so many enemies during a recess, as to ensure dismissal on the Assembly again meeting. A Colonial Ministry has, therefore, no chance of succeeding in the difficult task of governing a subject race. The subject race, moreover, has a strong objection to their government. If conquered into submission, they will submit only to the real conquerors. They are quite aware that they have been defeated by troops of the Queen of England, not by the Pakehas of New Zealand. To the colonists they consider themselves equal both in military power and political ability. They might have remained in allegiance to a distant Sovereign, paramount over settlers and natives alike. But as soon as the former had a Government of their own, the latter began to wish to become a separate nation, and they will never cease to strive for the independence which their rivals enjoy. If, therefore, New Zealand wars are not to be perpetuated, either the Maories must be destroyed, or some page 259 scheme must be devised by which they can be civilized and governed, without losing their national independence. Setting aside the question of justice and humanity, I believe it cheaper to stop the work of extermination, and begin the long delayed task of civilization. A whole race will not disappear in a year or two. Even were the Maories wild beasts, a generation or two would have to elapse before they could be hunted down to complete destruction amidst the vast forests of the interior. But they are sufficiently civilized to combine, if driven to desperation, for a bloody and lengthened resistance. It does not require a large force of savages to inflict great loss upon our settlements. The chief mischief in the present war was not done by the 1,000 men who gathered at Meremere to fight the General, but by the small bands of twenty or thirty each, who roamed in the Hunua forest.
If the people of England are willing to make another attempt to govern this race, upon which our colonization has brought such disaster, the first step must be to set all districts inhabited by the natives free from colonial jurisdiction, and to place them under the direct administration of imperial officers.
1 [Clause 71.]
The next consideration is, how such a Council could be clothed with power. I have no hesitation in saying that this could be done by means of a native police force, consisting of young men instructed and disciplined on a plan similar to that pursued at Te Awamutu, and officered at first by Europeans, but ultimately by natives promoted from the ranks. It would be necessary, to avoid evoking Maori jealousy, to place the force under the nominal command of the Council of Chiefs; but as pay and promotion would come from the British Resident, he would be the virtual ruler. If this civil arm were once established, the laws made by the Council of Chiefs would be soon respected and obeyed.
1 Since May, 1860, there have been six successive Native Ministers. [Actually only four—C. W. Richmond, F. A. Weld, W. B. D. Mantell and F. D. Bell—up to October 1863. There was no Native Minister in the Whitaker-Fox ministry, October 1863 to November 1864, though Fox acted in that capacity.]
After gaining the confidence of the natives, the next task would be to teach them to obey. No man could do this unless his own authority were adequately supported. I have already explained to my readers, that the officer of a divided Government in Auckland is regarded by the natives with contempt. It would, therefore, be necessary to give the English officer full power to act independently of the Government of the colony, to carry out his own designs in his own way, and to be free from interference. The Governor alone should have power to dismiss him on the ground of incapacity or misconduct.
The best way of keeping such an officer in check, and of enabling his employers to form a true estimate of his conduct, would be the formation of a Council comprised of men of standing in the colony, versed in native affairs, to which at some time hereafter chiefs like Tamihana might be admitted. The Resident should be bound to keep the Council informed of all that he was doing, or going to do, and the Council should have the corresponding right and duty of expressing a collective or individual opinion thereon. This Council for native affairs should be further required to send one of its members periodically to inspect and report the condition of the native provinces, for the benefit of the Council itself and of the Imperial Government.
The chief objects for which money would be required in a plan of this kind, would be the salaries of a small but effective staff of European officers, and the maintenance of the native police. From the experience of Te Awamutu, I should estimate the cost of the police at about £20 per annum for each man. Salaries given to Maori magistrates do more harm than good. The best men will not accept them; and those who do, incur the odium of their countrymen and entirely disqualify themselves thereby from rendering real service to Government. I believe the sum of £50,000 per annum, which was voted by the New Zealand Assembly for Sir George Grey's scheme, is amply sufficient to cover the whole cost of governing the Maories. A portion of this might fairly be charged on the colonial revenues, because to those revenues the Maories, as well as the colonists, contribute, by their consumption of imports, their quota.page 262
I must observe, in conclusion, that if this book is considered to have at any rate made out a primâ facie case for inquiry into the relationship between the rival races in New Zealand, that inquiry must be made by some commissioner whose well-known ability will command respect both at home and in the colony, and who has no interest to serve by his decision. Such a commissioner would have to collect evidence in the native districts themselves, and not content himself with European or second-hand native testimony in Auckland. I shall have failed in one of my chief objects in writing this book, if I have not convinced the reader that the Maori view of this colonial question is worthy of attention. The Maori story can only be got in full from the Maories themselves. Government officers in native districts know well enough what sort of reports will procure them favour with their superiors, and they are insensibly led into recording that part of the truth which they know will be well received. When these reports get to Auckland, they are subjected to a sifting process by the Colonial Government. I have known disagreeable reports accidentally mislaid; and since, in printing for the Assembly, or forwarding to the Colonial Office, some selection must be made, of course that selection is not unfavourable to the Colonial Government. Original documents are sent home avowedly to illustrate the conclusions advocated in the despatches. The colonial press is very careful about the information sent in its monthly summaries to England, and few facts unfavourable to the colonists are likely to come in that way to British ears. Letters to colonial newspapers are sometimes altered by the Editor, and facts published during the month suppressed in the summary sent home, for fear of the effect which those letters and facts, if copied into English newspapers, would produce. I am informed by men of high standing in New Zealand that, during the last session of the Assembly, every man's tongue was tied, by fear of his constituents, from discussing native affairs, and that even the short debates which did occur were ignored by the dishonesty of the reporters. The press, as well as the House, seemed to have come to the decision that nothing of the past need be inquired into, or even recorded. I am thus justified in saying that the whole truth, if it is ever to be known at all, can only be obtained by inquiries made in the native villages of New Zealand.