England and the Maori Wars
Chapter 3 — Outbreak Of War
Outbreak Of War
The Governor, in a despatch of February 27, 1860, wrote: “Contrary to expectations … the chief Wiremu Kingi resisted the survey of the land purchased from the chief Teira at Waitara in the province of Taranaki. No violence was offered, but the unsettled state of the tribes both north and south of that district, and the continuance of the King movement, lead me to think it necessary to take every possible precaution to prevent bloodshed, the consequence of which it would be impossible to foresee…. Private letters are full of surmises and alarms, and talk of a war of races, but I do not put faith in them or anticipate any real opposition when the chief Wiremu Kingi sees that I am determined not to permit him to defy Her Majesty's Government.” Gore Browne stated that he had ordered H.M.S. Niger to proceed to Taranaki and would accompany a detachment of troops there himself. Volunteers would be called to protect Auckland in the absence of troops.
Gairdner, in the Colonial Office, wrote: “The issue of this case will depend on the spirit with which the other native chiefs act. If they are disaffected to any extent there will probably be a prolonged and tedious bush warfare.” The Duke of Newcastle's minute was: “Nothing more can be done at present than to express approval of the steps which the Governor has taken and hope that they may be successful. The affair is, I should fear, critical, but much will depend upon the settlers exercising as much discretion and forbearance as the Governor.1
Sir Frederic went on to give an account of his relations with his chief: “I see very little of the Duke [of Newcastle]. The Duke works at home, comes down about three, is off to the House of Lords about four, and probably has two or three appointments in the meantime, so that it is very difficult to catch him at all, and you must dispose of what you have to say shortly and clearly when you see him; so far perhaps no bad thing. But then, when a thing has to be passed in a hurry, amended in progress, and so on, the absence of your chief, or his inaccessibility, is worrying. However, he is very ready to accept your conclusions, very clear in his own directions, and extremely careful (which I respect highly) never to turn back on a subordinate any shadow of responsibility for advice that he has once accepted.”
1 G. E. Marindin, op. cit., p. 227.
Here is the Society's view of the Duke's attempt to solve the New Zealand problem by legislation: “The difficulties of the native land question … inevitably claimed the attention of the British Government, and a Bill was brought before Parliament from the Colonial Office with the express object of removing them. The Bill was evidently drawn with the intention to do good. Its failure to give satisfaction to the colonists' party sufficiently indicated that it afforded the natives some shelter from the colonists, but, when carefully examined, it no less clearly manifested that the rights of the natives were not placed on any solid foundation. The committee of the Aborigines Protection Society therefore regarded it as a duty incumbent upon it to explain to the Colonial Office the grounds on which it deprecated the passing of the Bill.
“What can be said in defence of a system by which, under pretence of protecting the natives, the Government practically levy a duty upon the sale of their lands amounting to thirty-nine-fortieths of their value? This is no exaggeration of the case, and the interdiction of the natives to sell, except to the Government, has become in practice—whatever it may have been in theory—a plan to keep down the prices at which the natives might sell to the Government.
“The constitution of the proposed Native Council is objectionable, because its members are to be exclusively the nominees of the Crown and removable at will…. Our most serious objection to the Bill is that, while it gives to the Council an almost unlimited power of interference with the natives, and especially with their lands, the natives themselves are entirely unrepresented in it.”
The Society suggested that one or more commissioners should be despatched from England, “armed, not only with the power necessary to institute an inquiry which will lay bare all the facts of the case, but also with the authority to adopt such remedial measures as circumstances may render desirable.” Commenting on the withdrawal of the Bill, the Society said this was probably due to the “more public opposition” to it.
Of the attitude of the missionaries in New Zealand the page 70 Society formed a very different opinion from that expressed by Sir F. Rogers in the letter we have quoted. “The position which the leading missionaries have taken up in connection with the present war in New Zealand,” stated the Society in its journal, “reflects the greatest credit upon their characters as Christian men.… The clergy, through their recognized leaders, have faithfully and earnestly exposed the injustice and oppression of which the authorities have been guilty. In the first instance they remonstrated with the local Government; they drew up protests; they appealed to the public conscience; but, unhappily, all in vain. Colonel Browne and his advisers had too deliberately entered upon the evil path, and old passions and hatreds had been too deeply aroused for the voice of reason and justice to exercise its legitimate authority. The clergy have, therefore, appealed from the lower tribunal to the higher, that is from the Governor to the Minister, from the inhabitants of the colony to the British people.”
Archdeacon Hadfield's “Letter to the Duke of Newcastle” was then reviewed. In it Hadfield wrote: “The question at issue is simply this—Is a native chief to be forcibly ejected from his land, because an individual member of his tribe tells a subordinate land-agent that it is his, and not the chief's, and that agent believes him? The Governor says ‘Yes’; the chiefs say ‘No.’” Also reviewed in the journal was Sir William Martin's pamphlet, The Taranaki Question. “We rejoice,” the reviewer stated, “to find that our opposition to the iniquitous Taranaki War is sustained by so unquestionable an authority.” The investigation of the Waitara purchase was “in every respect insufficient and irregular.” Sir William showed, it was contended, that “the whole weight of the evidence goes conclusively to prove that William King had no connection with either the land league or the King movement.” We must now turn to the dénouement of the Taranaki tragedy.
On February 22, 1860, Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Murray, having received a letter from Wiremu Kingi from which it appeared that he was still determined to hold the land in dispute, made a momentous decision: “I have consequently deemed the moment to have arrived for putting into operation page 71 the instructions of His Excellency the Governor. I have accordingly this day published His Excellency's proclamation placing the district under martial law. I have also as directed instructed the officer commanding the militia to call out for active service the force under his command.” Wiremu Kingi's letter, dated February 21, ran: “You say that we have been guilty of rebellion against the Queen, but we consider that we have not because the Governor has said he will not entertain offers of land which are disputed. The Governor has also said that it is not right for one man to sell the land to Europeans, but that all the people should consent. You are now disregarding the good law of the Governor, and adopting a bad law.” Gore Browne's memorandum on this was: “This is an exceedingly clever letter, as the writer implies but does not assert that he has a claim to the land in question. A long and careful investigation has proved that he has no sort of claim either as proprietor or as a chief.” Before leaving for Taranaki, he had letters sent to Potatau and other chiefs explaining the circumstances. “The land is a small matter,” he wrote, “but the Governor will not allow W.Kingi to interfere with Teira in the disposal of his own property. The Governor has directed that Teira's land shall be surveyed and it will be surveyed.”
The Superintendent of Taranaki wrote to Colonel Gore Browne on February 24: “Your despatch intimating active hostilities against Wiremu Kingi created considerable sensation, but it has now subsided and the settlers generally are working on quietly and preparing for a struggle: goods, furniture, women and children, etc., are gathering so fast in the town that it must soon be full to overflowing.… I have no complaints; all are sensible that this visitation is a necessary evil and will in the end prove advantageous; indeed all hope that the Province may be rid of the ‘evil genius’ that for near twenty years has been its bane as well as a great annoyance to the General Government. Kingi, having successfully ‘bounced’ all previous Governors, expects to continue it to the end.”1
Kingi wrote in his letter: “I am afraid of your force, because you have brought soldiers with you into the town, and therefore I think you are angry with me.… The reason we have come to the Bush is because the settlers have gone to the Town.”1 On March 12 the Governor reported that Colonel Gold had marched to the Waitara with a force of 341 officers and men on the morning of March 5 and reached the encamping ground about 11 a.m. “I reached that place in H.M.S. Niger about four hours earlier. Some boats from the ship landed at once, and my private secretary, Captain Steward, Lieutenant Blake, R.N., and Mr. Rogan, native agent, seeing no one, advanced to meet the troops. They soon, however discovered a number of natives lying in ambush well concealed. After some talk with the native agent who told them they were between the troops and the sailors, they retired saying they would return. During the night Wiremu Kingi's natives built a pa commanding the road and the following morning stopped an escort coming into camp. On hearing of this I sent a message … saying that if they did not evacuate it in twenty minutes I should instruct the troops to fire on them. This had the desired effect and the pa which was found to have traverses and to be extraordinarily well designed, was burnt by the troops.” The Governor then returned to New Plymouth in the Niger, as he had been informed that Maoris from the south would attack the town at once. The force in the town at this time consisted of 300 militia and 26 regular troops. The Governor sent for the 65th Regiment, stationed at Wellington, directing the O.C. there to entrust the care of the town to the militia.
On June 27, 1860, the Duke of Newcastle, in a despatch in reply, stated that “if the next reports should show that this insurrection is spreading, a regiment will be ordered to New Zealand without delay for the relief of the 65th, and you will be authorized to retain the latter regiment until the insurrection is put down. I have great confidence in the spirit of self-reliance shewn by the colonists on the late occasion as marked by the zeal and alacrity both of the militia and volunteers on this the first occasion after their enrolment on which they have been called out for duty.”1
On March 13 the Governor described the scene of operations and said: “It is difficult to imagine a country better adapted for the operations of savages whose strength lies in their power of penetrating fastnesses and taking advantage of every inequality to conceal themselves.” We may perhaps wonder why the Governor did not think of this before committing himself to a policy that made war inevitable.2
2 Cf. Swainson, New Zealand and the War (1862).
“The troops were now halted and formed in close column covered by the guns. A line of entrenchment was then drawn out by Lieut. Mould, R.E., which the soldiers speedily converted into a suitable cover guided by the intelligent non-commissioned officers of the Royal Engineers. During this opportunity we were within good range of a rapid and continuous fire from rifles and musketry, and but for a kind Providence, might have sustained considerable loss. The guns were put in rear of the trenches, and it being nearly dark we laid down on our arms, the fire from the pa continuing nearly all night. On the morning of the 18th, as soon as there was sufficient light, the guns were advanced towards the stock-ades, covered by skirmishers of the 65th Regiment, who, with the Royal Engineers, soon threw up a trench in their front. Fire was then opened, after which another approach to about 50 yards, protected as before, was made, and a breach in the pa soon made, into which the troops entered at 40 minutes after 11 a.m., finding it, to their great disappointment, evacuated.” The Maoris had left their flag and several tons of potatoes.
On March 22 the Governor reported with much regret that a collision had taken place between the troops and the Maoris at Waitara. “It is now clear to me,” he wrote, “that Wiremu Kingi has been encouraged in his opposition by an assurance of formidable support, and that the question of the purchase of an insignificant piece of land is merged in the far greater one of nationality. I have insisted on this comparatively valueless purchase, because, if I had admitted the right of a chief to interfere between me and the lawful proprietors of the soil, I should soon have found further acquisition of territory impossible in any part of New Zealand. Even if the right of mana (viz. a feudal superiority without proprietary interest in the land) exists at all, Wiremu Kingi could neither possess nor exercise it, Potatau, the Chief of the Waikatos, having obtained it by conquest and sold all his claims at New Plymouth to the New Zealand Company.”
The Governor gave this as the real problem at issue: “The page 76 Maoris have seen with alarm the numerical increase of the Europeans and recognize with bitterness of heart their own decrease. … They talk and think of themselves as of a race dying out, and the King movement and the land leagues are only practical results of this feeling. … Tribes heretofore at deadly enmity with each other, and who would have gladly joined us to be revenged on their opponents, have buried their tribal quarrels and are ready to unite to arrest the progress of the Europeans and to throw off their dominion.” The Governor expressed the view that had a larger number of troops been kept in the colony the trouble might have been arrested. “The Maoris entertain but little respect for our numbers and believe that they cannot or will not be increased. Shot and shell are thrown away on their defences.” The Governor asked for a force of 3,000 men, a steam gunboat, and a steamer of war.1
1 C.O. 209, 153. The Secretary of State's reply to this urgent despatch of March 22 was not written till July 26, more than four months later (see below, p. 79). The long delays in communication between the two countries greatly hampered administration. They also increase the difficulties of writing a connected narrative of events.
On March 30 the Governor reported that hostile Maori tribes had approached New Plymouth from the south. On March 27 three settlers and two boys who had gone into the country to look after cattle were savagely murdered, and on the following morning the hostile tribes came close to the stockade at Omata, “danced the war dance and fired some shots at it.” A force of volunteers sent to relieve a blockhouse had been attacked by the Maoris. They were reinforced by sailors from the Niger and after a long fight captured the Maori pa at Waireka. Four sailors were wounded and sixteen Maoris killed. “It is evident that other combinations may be made against us and that a trial of strength between the two races will take place unless I am able to prevent the junction of the powerful tribes living on the Waikato and their allies with those now in arms against us. The provincial authorities are making arrangements to send away as many women and children as possible to Nelson, as they look forward to protracted troubles.” The Governor added that he had obtained a small steamer to enable him to keep up communication with the detachment at Waitara—no longer possible by land.1
On April 6 Major-General Pratt, Officer Commanding at Headquarters, Melbourne, informed Governor Gore Browne that he had sent 3 officers and 125 rank and file of the 12th Regiment, and 1 officer and 40 rank and file of the Royal Artillery as a reinforcement to Taranaki.
For defence Auckland was divided into five districts, each of which was to furnish a company of militia. In addition, a volunteer force of nearly 400 men, a mounted volunteer troop of about 43 men, 160 men of the 65th Regiment, and 40 marines formed the garrison of the town.
2 On native affairs. In C.O. 209, 153.
Reviewing the progress of the King movement in a despatch of April 27, Gore Browne stated that two tribes unconnected with the Waikatos had tendered their allegiance and presented their lands to the league of which the King is the nominal head. Great exertions had been made to obtain similar adhesions from other tribes. “The King's Council,” he wrote, “openly assume the right to decide on the justice of my proceedings, and consider whether or not they will aid a chief in rebellion against Her Majesty's Government. A large sum has been subscribed and given to a disaffected European for a printing press to be conducted by him. A flag has been designed and hoisted and an abortive attempt made at Kawhia to levy customs in the King's name…. I cannot but think the occurrences at Taranaki fortunate because, to use the expression adopted at the King meeting, ‘it has led to the discovery of the Pa before the builders have had time to complete it.’ It is well known that Potatau, who is blind with age and very infirm, represents only the most moderate of the King's party, and that his power to control those who advocate war and a return to indiscriminate slaughter in prosecuting it, is very uncertain.” The Governor said he had asked all the chiefs to meet him at Auckland on July 2.2
1 C.O. 209, 153. The despatch was written by Sir. G. C. Lewis in the absence of the Duke of Newcastle in America with the Prince of Wales. The principle that England could not undertake the defence of scattered farms was approved by The Times on January 23, 1861.
2 C.O. 209, 153.
Sir William Denison, the Governor of New South Wales, took a somewhat different view of the situation: “You have now as a fact,” he wrote to Gore Browne on May 16, “something analogous to a General Government among the Maoris, a recognition on their part of the necessity of some permanent authority. This is a step in the right direction; do not ignore it; do not, on the ground that some evil may possibly arise out of it, make the natives suspicious of your motives by opposing it, but avail yourself of the opportunity to introduce some more of the elements of good government among them.” A copy of this letter was sent by Denison to the Duke of Newcastle.2
On March 20 the Provincial Council of Hawke's Bay had passed a resolution recording its full and entire sympathy with the province of Taranaki “at present under martial law owing to the meddling of disaffected aborigines,” and thanking the Governor for his able and efficient aid. This resolution brought a strong protest from the Bishop of New Zealand, G. A. Selwyn, “because martial law was proclaimed at Taranaki before a single native was known to have taken up arms against the Government and when no offence had been given by the natives, beyond an unarmed obstruction of the work of the surveyors.” The Bishop urged the setting up of a regular tribunal for settling land questions, with the usual safeguards against partiality or error, that is—evidence on oath, arguments of counsel, and a right of appeal.3
1 C.O. 209. 153.
2 Sir W. Denison, Varieties of Vice-Regal Life (1870).
3 C.O. 209, 154.
- (1) That Wiremu Kingi's right was not fully and fairly inquired into;
- (2) That military force was prematurely employed to take possession of the land at Waitara;
- (3) That the interest of the natives of the Taranaki district had been sacrificed in the transaction in the interest of the European settlers.
Ministers asserted that Wiremu Kingi had never put forward “any proprietary or other claim of a nature that could be recognized by the British Government to the land on the south bank of the Waitara.” “It is well known,” they stated, “that when Kingi in 1848 deserted his pa and cultivation at Waikanae and was moving northward to Taranaki Sir George Grey forbade him to settle on the south bank of the Waitara. But Kingi, having first obtained the permission of Raru Teira's father to build his pa on the south bank, disregarded the Governor's prohibition and now pretends to claim Waitara in virtue of a species of conquest achieved by his defiant return.” Ministers added that the Bishop's anxiety for an effective land tribunal could not exceed their own or that of the Governor. The difficulty of establishing such a tribunallay, they contended, with the natives themselves.
Addresses of congratulation on his policy were tendered to the Governor by the Provincial Councils of Canterbury, Wellington, and Taranaki and by the residents of Wanganui, Nelson, and Auckland. In the Journal of Henry Sewell, for April 23, 1860, we read: “After the most careful and dispassionate consideration of the case, I came to the conclusion that what has been done has been right (and so far as one can predict the future) for the best.” This judgment shows that it would be unsafe to condemn summarily Gore Browne's handling of a difficult situation.
The Times, in a leading article on June 18, said: “Nobody can be surprised at the sensation created by the report of the insurrection in New Zealand. It is not merely that a success- page 83 ful and promising settlement is menaced with injury, but a great political question is opened for practical solution exactly at the moment that it had been proposed for theoretical debate. How should the military defence of our colonies be conducted? That is the inquiry which has recently occupied the attention of statesmen, and now, at the very nick of time, comes a colonial war, demanding, no doubt, all our vigilance and activity, but inviting also our acutest observation and most impartial judgment. The experience of this occasion, if judiciously employed, may do more to resolve the problem before us than twenty years of conjecture and discussion.
“Twice during the brief campaign did differences of opinion arise between the commanders of the regulars and the colonial volunteers, and twice was it proved by the event that the volunteers were in the right…. Without any intention, therefore, of impugning the strategy of our regular officers, which was probably in strict accordance with military rules, we think it impossible to deny that the tactics of the colonial volunteers were better adapted to the actual exigencies of the war in hand. We observe also that the alacrity of the colonists in the duty of self-defence was most remarkable, and it had received, indeed, a well-merited tribute at the hands of the Colonial Secretary…. Seeing that the colonists are in point of numbers so fairly matched with the natives, in point of zeal so unexceptionally animated, and in point of military ability so manifestly excellent, we may certainly ask why forces less fitted for the work should be despatched from a distance of 15,000 miles to supersede the settlers in the business of self-defence? We are not arguing absolutely against the maintenance of a military establishment in those parts. The single regiment which is stationed in New Zealand will doubtless do good service, notwithstanding the unlucky beginning just announced, but it does seem to us that, if the war should continue, we might do far better by improving such material as the colony undoubtedly contains than by sending fresh battalions across the globe to take the place of volunteers on the spot. A cargo of Enfield rifles, a battery of Armstrong guns, a few light ships of war off the coast, and some hearty words of encouragement and sympathy from home, would, we think, put the colonists page 84 in a position to dispense in a great measure with the aid of regular troops. In a few words, we would rather see the organization of volunteers extended than the establishment of regulars increased…. The colonists understand the natives and the country; they have the natural intelligence of volunteer soldiers, every man of them fights for his own land, and they soon engraft the subtlety of the savage upon the hereditary valour of the Saxon…. If we compare with this policy the best illustration of the opposite system—viz. the state of things at the Cape, we shall find nothing to prefer in the plan of ‘Imperial’ campaigning. After a succession of costly and troublesome wars, we only contrived to secure peace and quietness by maintaining an establishment equal to a regular army. At one time there were ten fine regiments there, being about as many as it is thought we could array against an invader at home. What made the matter worse was, that the very settlers who, with proper encouragement would have done all this duty, acquired by these proceedings a direct interest in getting it done for them. The colonists, instead of becoming volunteers, became contractors, and the supply of the enormous military establishment became a material item in the trade of the colony.1 We trust we shall not see such arrangements reproduced in New Zealand. The colonists may depend upon every necessary succour from home. The mother-country will never see them overmatched or discomfited, but, as they have evidently such perfect ability and such hearty good will to stand on their own defence, it would be but a poor compliment in us to insist on taking the work out of their hands.”
1 Cf. The Times, February 27, 1849, quoted in Canada and the British Army (C.P. Stacey), p. 47: “It had often been calculated,” it remarked in a leading article on the Kaffir War then in progress, “that Canada was enriched by her outbreak, and that the blood our soldiers shed was amply compensated for by the money they circulated.” Stacey traces the hand of Robert Lowe, “that arch-Little-Englander,” in The Times leading articles of this and subsequent years on colonial affairs.
Maclean's report stated that the main object of the meeting was “to confirm Potatau Te Wherowhero as King and to erect his flag.” Those present were mainly from the Waikato, Taupo, and Manuka tribes, and there were no “deputies of distinction” from any of the more distant tribes. The total attendance was about 3,000 of whom about 1,200 were males capable of bearing arms. The Upper Waikato party was asked by the speaker of the Lower Waikatos to disclose whether war was intended with the Europeans generally or whether it should be confined to Taranaki. “The Upper Waikato,” Maclean stated, “would not disclose their ultimate intentions. They expressed discontent with the Governor for not consulting Potatau and the Waikato native assessors before he declared war.” Wiremu Nero denounced the proceedings of those responsible for the meeting on the ground that it was uncalled for.1 Other speakers also declared themselves friendly to the Europeans. The Maoris were of three classes: (1) The large majority were staunch adherents of the King movement: (2) Moderate adherents to it, while its object was the preservation of distinct nationality, the retention of land, the adjustment of grievances and the preservation of peace: (3) Opponents of the movement from a conviction that it was not calculated to promote any permanent good. “The first class,” Maclean said, “will fight to the last in support of the King movement, and will seize any opportunity or pretext for a general war.” Maclean addressed the gathering and emphasized that the Governor had decided to buy the Waitara land only after the closest investigation.
1 C.O. 209, 154.
Here the following Colonial Office minute appears on the margin: “This is the natural course, and is that suggested by Sir W. Denison.”
1 Buddle gives 1852 as the date of Te Whiwhi's movement.
“You will find Mr. Maclean's report very interesting,” wrote Gairdner in a minute to Elliot. “It contains no very new feature, but brings out the present state of the New Zealand natives very clearly. The present King movement, if skilfully managed, might most probably be turned to good account, but it is very doubtful if there is any one in New Zealand at present capable of successfully working out such a policy. Mr. Maclean understands them well, but he is only a subordinate officer.”2 In this minute we may perhaps see the first signs of the Colonial Office policy which was to lead to the return to New Zealand of Sir George Grey.
1 C.O. 209, 154. Cf. Saunders, History of New Zealand, I, pp. 396–7.
2 C.O. 209, 154.
The Times of September 13, 1860, printed news from the Sydney Morning Herald of the further outbreak of war and the Herald's comment: “The die is cast. It is plain that we have a foe to deal with who is not to be despised; it is equally so that he must be put down at all cost.” The Taranaki Herald, quoted in the same issue, said: “There were men present cool enough to see that the British honour was not only sustained but exalted by this fierce struggle. The great numerical superiority of the natives only made it necessary for our troops to retire. Officers and men fought with steadiness and energy under a fire which an Indian officer compares to that at Feroze-shah and Sobraon, and which a soldier of the Crimea states to have been hotter than that in the Redan…. The enemy, too, showed unexpected resolution, and have proved the first body of men able to meet the British bayonet…. The large army assembled about Kingi is a fine comment upon the policy of our Government, which stands trifling with mild addresses and Maori Parliaments, while the men whom it seeks to conciliate gather by the thousand, with arms in hand, to give that dignity to the deliberations of their senators which belongs to a sense of their power…. India might have taught what New Zealand is repeating that the most tremulous hand makes the bloodiest work.”
On September 14 The Times published an account of the engagement from a Melbourne correspondent: “The conduct of Colonel Gold is severely censured in the accounts which have reached us…. It is said that he was hissed by his own men of the 65th when ordering a retreat. It is impossible to believe that an old officer of his standing wants mere animal courage, but I fear it will be found that he is deficient both in judgment and energy, and on this as well as on a former occasion, he got bewildered by his difficult position…. The sentiment of the Australian colonies is now almost universally enlisted in the cause of the New Zealand settlers, and there is hardly any page 89 sacrifice which would not be made to promote the complete establishment of the Queen's authority.” The Sydney correspondent of The Times, in a despatch printed on the same day, said that all but about 120 soldiers had been sent to NewZealand and that no volunteer force had been raised to act in place of the regulars. Two French regiments were due shortly en route to New Caledonia, and speculations were being made on the result of a sudden breach with France.1
The Times, in a leading article on September 14, said: “The news from New Zealand which we published yesterday is only too fully confirmed, and will create a very painful impression in this country. We had a right to expect that the reputation of the British arms would not be again risked at so critical a time without ample provision against the possibility of failure.” The Times ascribed the failure of the attack to “the old Anglo-Saxon tendency to undervalue our enemies,” and the tardiness of Colonel Gold, who did not bring up his force of three hundred men.
1 The Times of November 11, 1860, recorded that the French transport Sibylla arrived at New Caledonia with 600 soldiers on August 20, without calling at Sydney. The war steamer Coetlagon, which called on September 13, had only 24 soldiers on board.
In a letter to The Times, dated December 4, and published on February 19, 1861, Gold, now Major-General, wrote: “For a considerable time I have passed over unnoticed the unfounded abuse of a portion of the colonial press, smarting under the mildest possible administration of martial law, being quite satisfied that my friends in this country would know the truth in all its bearings; but when I find The Times adopting their expressions I think it is high time to request you will do me the justice to state that, with reference to your article on Major Nelson's attack on the Waikato Pa at the Waitara, I had neither the knowledge that such would take place, nor had I arranged any combined movement whatever with him. I had the day before sent him all the reinforcements I could spare from New Plymouth. It is true that I made a reconnaissance as far as Mahoitai, where I was anxious to form an outpost, but (independent of the river being impassable) I could not have advanced further without endangering the town and its 2,000 women and children. As to your remark that this was not the first instance of tardiness on my part, I am quite unconsciouss of ever having merited such a severe accusation at your hands.”
1 The verdict of J. W. Fortescue on the engagement is: “The whole proceeding was one of almost criminal folly” (History of the British Army, XIII, p. 478). Major-General Gold, on promotion, retired from active service in New Zealand on October 1, 1860. He had served with the 65th for 32 years—in British Guiana, Barbados, Canada (during the rebellion), Ireland, England, and Australia.
On July 1, 1860, Colonel Gold wrote from New Plymouth to the Deputy-Adjutant General, Melbourne, emphasizing “the urgent and absolute necessity” for reinforcements: “I am now in a position involving great risk to this town if I leave it without a strong garrison of regulars, as the militia troops armed are not drilled, and the rebels are cunning in tactics, quick in their movements, and armed with double-barrelled guns or rifles. I regret to say that the artillery at my disposal are comparatively useless for attacking pas.”2 On July 13 Major-General Pratt informed Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Victoria, that he intended to proceed himself, with a portion of his staff, to New Zealand, as a temporary measure, “to make all military arrangements for the general defence of the Northern Island, in communication with the Governor and the local authorities.” In acknowledging the letter Sir H. Barkly wrote on July 16: “There is every disposition on the part of my advisers and of the legislature to act with the utmost liberality on this occasion and to manifest their sympathy with those who are called on to sustain the honour of the British name in the sister colony.” In a despatch of July 19, 1860, he reported that “the unfortunate accounts received of the progress of the war under Colonel Gold's auspices, added to the renewed appeals of that officer and of the Governor for further succour, rendered it incumbent on Major-General Pratt to send down the Head Quarters of the same (40th) Regiment under Lieut.-Colonel Leslie, whilst the absence of unanimity which seems to prevail between the different branches of the Service, no less than the want of confidence among the New Zealand colonists and the alarming aspect of affairs generally in the Northern Island, left the Major-General no alternative but to proceed in person for a time at any rate to the scene of action.”
1 A Sketch of the New Zealand War (1899), p. 37. Grace was a staff assistant surgeon.
2 W.O. 33/16.
1 C.O. 309, 52.
In a despatch of July 6, 1860, Gore Browne reported that he had received news of the death of Potatau, the Maori “King.” On July 31 he reported that Potatau's son would probably be appointed his successor. William Swainson, in his book New Zealand and the War (1862), records that Potatau received a Government pension up to March 31, 1860, and that on November 11 of that year £1 17s. was paid on account of coffin furniture for him. The continuance of the pension is a little difficult to reconcile with the Governor's policy, but it may have been prompted by a desire to keep the King as inactive as possible.
In his speech at the opening of the General Assembly on July 30 the Governor said: “My thanks are due to the Governments of the neighbouring colonies for the efficient aid which they have rendered on this occasion and particularly to the Government of Victoria, which promptly despatched to my assistance its fine armed steamer.” On July 31 the Governor, in reporting to the Colonial Office Major-General Pratt's intention to proceed with reinforcements direct to Taranaki, enclosed a copy of his letter to the General in which he had stated that the Maoris, “aided by the strength of their country and fighting in their own fashion,” were “brave and formidabel enemies.” “They boast with some truth,” he said, “that since our first arrival in the colony the British troops have gained no decided advantage over them, though our arms have always been immeasurably superior and our numbers often in excess of theirs.”
The Times of November 14, 1860, contained more than three columns of New Zealand war news from correspondents in Melbourne and Sydney. The Melbourne despatch was dated September 25: “General Pratt, on his arrival, did not im- page 94 mediately assume command of the troops. He found that the commanding officer was fettered in his operations by strict instructions from the Governor, Colonel Gore Browne—so much so as to justify the General in expressing an opinion that Colonel Gold could not have acted otherwise than he did. The forces of all arms at the commanding officer's disposal amount to 2,500 effectives, and the insurgent natives are supposed not to reach that number. It is further stated that General Pratt intimated that unless the Governor would give him carte blanche as to the conduct of the war, he would decline the responsibility of the command and return to Melbourne, and that the Governor had yielded to this condition. The General was quite right in having his position clearly defined…. The General Assembly has been called together at Auckland, and we are indebted to that circumstance for some very important disclosures, and for a general expression of opinion which we should otherwise have remained without. These disclosures impart to the war a character different from that which I communicated in former letters. A belief is gaining ground among a large number of the settlers that the war is unjust; that Governor Browne has committed a great error; that he has wantonly departed from principles which he himself had laid down for conducting the purchase of land; that Teira, from whom he purchased the disputed block, had no title to it; and lastly, that by mistranslation or unskilful use of the Maori language, what he intended as a proclamation of martial law (itself wholly illegal and beyond his powers) was really a declaration of war, and would be so understood by the natives and by every person acquainted with the Maori language…. Even admitting that the taking of the disputed block of land was an act of gross spoliation, it cannot be acknowledged as a valid ground for open rebellion. Thus the Governor has reduced the Crown to this false position—that it is compelled to make its power manifest at the expense of its character of justice…. Teira's right, if any, is simply a right to occupy a small portion, I believe about 1/60th part of the rock which in native language is named ‘Te Porepore,’ of which the tribal title is in W. Kingi, while the individual claims of himself and family are far larger than Teira's.”page 95
The literal translation of the Governor's proclamation was given by the correspondent as follows: “Because soon will be commenced the work of the soldiers of the Queen against the natives of Taranaki, who are haughty (rebellious), fighting against the authority of the Queen. Now I, the Governor, do openly proclaim and publish this word, that the fighting law will extend at this time to Taranaki as a fixed law, until the time when it shall be revoked by proclamation.”1
“Now this proclamation,” the correspondent wrote, “is not directed solely against Kingi's party in arms at Waitara, but is extended to all the parties at Taranaki who are alleged to be fighting against the Queen, although at that time (January 27, 1860) not only had no fighting taken place, but no open act of rebellion had been committed…. It cannot be wondered at that the tribes who were denounced as rebels fighting against the Queen (an undoubted falsehood) should at once make common cause with Wiremu Kingi. Denounced as rebels, they had nothing to lose and much to gain by becoming rebels.”
The Sydney correspondent, in his despatch dated September 21, took a different view of the rights of Teira and Kingi: “The Government has justified itself by publishing as Parliamentary papers all the documents connected with the title of the land and Wiremu Kingi's claims. The defence is complete. Kingi was a fugitive when the British first colonized New Zealand, having been driven out by the Waikatos, and settled down near Port Nicholson. It was only under the shelter of the British that he was able to return to his ancestral acres; and when he did go back he stood in such awe of the Waikatos that he was afraid to live on his own land, and got leave to build his pa on Teira's block, because that put a river between him and the foes he dreaded, and brought him nearer to the British settlement. Yet this is the man who now pretends to claim feudal rights, which are inconsistent with the treaty of Waitangi, and which neutralize the Queen's sovereignty…. Had the Governor yielded to his threats he would have acknowledged a power in the island greater than the Queen's.”
On November 15 The Times commented on the discrepancy between the different accounts of the case: “As for the original dispute, its merits are as inscrutable as the sources of the Nile or the causes of the Trojan War, so hopelessly is it overlaid by the subtleties of Maori jurisprudence and the operation of subsequent aggressions on both sides…. The Home Government may have had good reasons for declining to send extraordinary succours, but we cannot acquit of the gravest indiscretion those in New Zealand whose inopportune scruples weaken the hands of the Government. It is a first rule in dealing with all lawless outbreaks, from a school rebellion to a political émeute, to restore order first and to redress grievances afterwards. No irregularity in the transfer of land can justify the natives in renouncing a sovereignty which they have formally accepted and which has raised them from savages to Christians and civilized beings…. Meanwhile, it would surely be possible, either by proclamation or through the agency of friendly chiefs, to separate the question of the Te Porepore block of land from that of sovereignty, reserving the former, if necessary, for further investigations, while insisting upon absolute submission to the Queen's authority. If this can be enforced we trust that no false notions of honour will interfere with the peaceable termination of a dispute which, trifling as it seemed, has gone far to mar one of the fairest pages of our history.”
1 Afterwards Bishop of Winchester. Cf. More Maoriland Adventures of J. W. Stack, edited by A. H. Reed (1936), pp. 181–3. Though Canon Stack was interested in Gore Browne as a brother of the Professor and raised a triumphal arch of welcome for him when he arrived at Kohanga, he condemned his attitude to the Maoris and the Waitara purchase.
Commenting on this and the situation generally on November 21, The Times said: “We intended to make an honest bargain, and the worst that can be said is that we bought the land from the wrong man. We were ready to pay somebody or other a fair price for it, and it is to be presumed that we should look out, with the natural instinct of purchasers, for the best title procurable. Although, therefore, it is impossible, as we do not deny, that Wiremu Kingi may be an ill-used man, we cannot see that the policy of the Government is exposed to any serious reprobation at this point of the transaction. Whether we have been premature or not in our resort to force is a question equally complicated, but as Governor Browne is blamed by one party for his precipitation, and by the other for his tardiness, it would perhaps be hard to refuse him the credit of probable impartiality. The truth of the matter is however—and here all the obscurity of the case is suddenly dispelled,—that this dispute with Wiremu Kingi is but the expression of a controversy by which the colony has been long divided. There is a native population there and a British population—the latter, strange to say, outnumbering the former, in the aggregate by some 15,000 souls. Each of these classes has its peculiar interest, which, however they may be reconciled in the end, are unhappily found to clash for the present…. What gives the case its peculiarity is that the native side of the question has been energetically adopted by authorities of high and deserved influence amongst the British themselves. Dr. Selwyn, the Bishop of New Zealand, and Archdeacon Hadfield, his zealous coadjutor, have constituted themselves the advocates of native rights, and with the support of a party in the colony, have formally protested against the policy of the Government, and justified the claims of the now insurgent chieftain. In these proceedings they have acted without reserve and appear to have candidly avowed their conviction that the colony of New Zealand is, by the very terms of its original settlement, page 98 an institution designed not for the advantage or benefit of Englishmen, but, in its primary object, for the protection of the natives against the encroachments of the settlers on their territory…. We say distinctly that the native-ascendancy theory cannot stand. It may have been designed but cannot be upheld. If the interests of the rival populations cannot be reconciled, those of the natives must give way. The result, whether consistent with justice or not, is simply inevitable.”
Professor Browne, in his book, The Case of the War in New Zealand (1860), wrote: “It is a matter of deep concern to me that I am forced to express a strong difference from one, whom of all men living I have honoured most for his unparalleled missionary labours, I mean Archdeacon Hadfield. There are passages in his conduct as regards the present disturbances which I cannot construe, and which I long to see cleared up. I can but strive to be satisfied with the knowledge that burning zeal in imperfect beings will at times degenerate into intemperance, and that then it will blind its owner to principles and even to facts, which under other circumstances could not be overlooked.” Browne recorded that letters of Wiremu Kingi to Hadfield in July 1859, asserting a tribal claim to the disputed Waitara land, were not shown to the Governor. He gave Hadfield's explanation and remarked that the two great authorities on native affairs, Hadfield and Maclean, contradicted each other in every particular in their evidence at the parliamentary investigation into the subject. On the question of the ambiguous translation of the proclamation of martial law, Professor Browne said that Wiremu Kingi had “on a former occasion been living in a district where martial law was proclaimed, and fully understood its meaning.”
The effect of the war news on John Robert Godley is shown by a passage in a letter he wrote to C. B. Adderley on November 15: “The New Zealand Government seems to have plunged most unjustifiably into war, of course intending that we shall pay for it. Sidney Herbert writes to me in a tone of intense disgust at it, but says that he has been obliged to send two regiments, etc. If we don't turn this affair to account in supporting our general views we shall throw away a good case. I quite despair of the present Colonial Office and look now for page 99 your side.”1 The view of Godley and Adderley that colonies should be made responsible for their own internal defence did finally prevail, and the Liberal ministry of 1868 was to be as adamant in upholding it as the Conservative administration of 1866 in which Adderley served.
Describing a “Native Conference” he had convened at Kohimarama, near Auckland, from July 10 to August 10, in a despatch of August 28, 1860, the Governor stated that its results had far surpassed his expectations: “The language, conduct and general courtesy of the chiefs towards each other,” he stated, “might be imitated with advantage at many European meetings, and in no assembly could greater decorum be maintained. The result may be summed up in a few words: The great chiefs Tamati Waka Nene, Wiremu Nera, Teiroa and others declared their attachment to the Queen and their disapproval of the King party in the most unequivocal terms. This, and my own declarations, reassured many who had been led by disaffected Europeans to believe that the Government and the settlers were preparing to seize their lands and enslave themselves, and that all the tribes in New Zealand were ready to unite and join the King party.
1 Childe-Pemberton, Life of Lord Norton, p. 176. Cf. on p. 178, Robert Lowe to Adderley, December 31, 1861: “It seems to me that from a muddling tyrant the Colonial Office has sunk into a parasite of the colonies, and that there is more danger of dismembering the Empire by over-indulgence than by over-interference.” Sidney Herbert was Secretary for War, 1859–61. He became Lord Herbert of Lea before his death in 1861. The Cabinet formed after the general election of 1859 was one of “Whig-Liberal reunion,” its members including Palmerston, Russell, and Gladstone. G. M. Trevelyan states that it “dealt with the Italian crisis on Liberal principles and with the American Civil War and the Danish question on no principles at all.”
J. R. Godley had joined the Colonial Reformers under the inspiration of E. G. Wakefield, who persuaded him to go out to New Zealand as leader of the Canterbury Settlement. Like Molesworth, another of the Reformers, he was a strong advocate of colonial self-reliance. He became Assistant Under-Secretary of State for War.
A Colonial Office memorandum proposed that a certain number of chiefs selected by the Conference or nominated by the Governor should be made capable by law of being placed on Committees of the House of Assembly or the Legislative Council upon questions respecting native affairs. “And I would give,” the writer added, “to all these representatives of the Conference the right of being present at the debates of the Assembly and Legislative Council in a place which marked their rank. Perhaps before long the Conference would be allowed as they desire actually to send members to the Assembly or rather perhaps the Legislative Council.”1
On September 7 the Governor wrote concerning certain actions of the Rev. R. Burrows, Secretary to the Church Missionary Society in New Zealand, who disagreed with reports of the Native Conference which had appeared in a newspaper: “I need not inform Your Grace that the assembly of the chiefs at this conference was attended with difficulty and vast expense, and the object was one which should have claimed the sympathy and cordial support of all Her Majesty's loyal subjects. I regret, however, to say that many (but by no means all) of the clergy belonging to the Church of England Mission have recently placed themselves in antagonism to the Government and have added greatly to the embarrassments with which it is surrounded.”
In a Colonial Office minute Chichester Fortescue wrote: “These gentlemen do not appear to recognize the fact that we are at war with a portion of the natives and that the Petition of Right, etc., does not apply either in the case of Englishmen or Maoris.”1
Fortescue, in a minute, added that among the changes he thought it desirable to obtain, if possible, was the abolition of the elective character of the superintendents of provinces and their subordination to the Governor and the Crown, “Their present position,” he wrote, “seems to me intolerable, weakening an already weak executive, even when they are friendly (if they ever are), and often creating opponents to the Governor when he ought to find instruments and supporters.”2
1 Cf. Sir E. W. Watkin, Canada and the States(1887): “The real, practical measures which led to the creation of one country extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific were due to the far-sighted policy and persuasive influence of the Duke. The Duke was a statesman singularly averse to claiming credit for his own special public services, while ever ready to attribute credit and bestow praise on those around him.”
2 C.O. 209, 155.
Dr. Featherston said: “I am glad of the opportunity of declaring that whatever doubts previously existed in my mind as to the gross injustice of the war—as to the fact that a flagrant error had been committed, have been entirely removed by the inquiry that has taken place; however one-sided and partial the inquiry has been I am also glad to express my conviction that His Excellency has been more sinned against than sinning in this matter, for he has evidently been most grossly deceived by those upon whose information and trustworthiness he had a perfect right to rely. It appears to me as clear as noon-day that the war is to be attributed to an undue pressure having been brought to bear upon His Excellency in order to force him to acquire possession of Waitara, no matter by what means, or at what sacrifices—to the incompetency of the District Com- page 103 missioner1 to whom so delicate a negotiation was entrusted and to a sinister influence exercised at the board of the Executive Council. At the same time I am not prepared to relieve His Excellency from the responsibility of this war; on the contrary I hold him solely responsible for it. The war is an Imperial war, in which the colony has not been permitted to have a voice—and therefore it behoves this House to take care that they do not by any resolution they may pass implicate the Colony in it or make it responsible either for the expenses or consequences…. I venture to predict that when Her Majesty's Government learns the facts of the present case—when they learn that the war originated in a grudge, entertained by Teira against his chief—that because a native girl jilted Teira's brother and married W. Kingi's son, Teira swore he would have his revenge—that knowing that W. Kingi had given a solemn pledge to his father not to sell Waitara, but to keep it for an inheritance for the Ngatiawas, Teira resolved to gratify his revenge by selling Waitara to the Government; when they knew that of the six hundred acres offered by Teira, and purchased by the Government only a small portion really belonged to Teira—that the greatest portion is owned by natives who have either protested against the sale or have never been consulted in the matter—that no investigation worthy of the name has ever been instituted into their claims … I venture to predict that their answer to His Excellency's application for troops will be that those who have been guilty, while acting in Her Majesty's name, of so great a wrong, who have plunged the country into such a war, are no longer worthy of Her Majesty's confidence, and that, instead of reinforcements, Her Majesty's Government will send out peremptory instructions to bring the war to a close, and to prevent any further shedding of blood in so unjust a cause.”
1 William Swainson states that the investigation of the validity of the purchase from Te Teira was entrusted to the “District Land Purchaser,” R. Parris, who reported that “in the face of opposing claims the purchase could not yet be safely completed.” Though later urged by the Governor and Native Minister to complete the purchase, Parris, “who appears to have exercised great prudence and caution,” was unable to hold out any hope of a speedy and satisfactory settlement.
C. W. Richmond, Colonial Treasurer, in his financial statement of September 4, 1860, said: “The people of New Zealand are surprisingly fond of law. The produce of fees, fines and penalties in the Canterbury Province is astonishing. Altogether the annual revenues of the colony, counting land fund as revenue, are now little if at all, less than half a million. It is a wonderful country. The more I see of it the more I am astonished at its resources. It is well indeed that it is so, for our burdens also are extraordinary. For my part I say it is plain that the cost of the war must be paid by the Imperial Treasury, if only for this simple reason—that the colony is unable to pay it. If the demands upon us become much heavier, the sources of revenue will be dried up. Notwithstanding the great prosperity we have lately enjoyed, we are but an infant community unequal to the burdens of mature age and confirmed strength…. We propose to ask the House to make provision for laying down a line of electric telegraph connecting the principal settlements.”3 In a despatch of September 29, the Governor said he had “no hesitation in recommending that the expense of the war may not be thrown entirely on the settlers.”3
1 Vol. i, chapters 37 and 38.
2 N.Z.P.P. 1928, G—7.
3 C.O. 209, 155.
3 C.O. 209, 155.
2 Cf. Taranaki Herald, January 16, 1864, referring to conditions of 1860: “Our degradation will best be made apparent by the fact that at one time firewood was actually imported from Auckland.”
The General stated that in removing the women and children to safety he “did not meet with that cordial co-operation on the part of the civil authorities of the Province, which, in the delicate position I was placed in, I had a right to expect, and the people showed so much unwillingness to leave the place that after only about 112 women and 282 children had been shifted I found that without resorting to actual force, no more could be induced to go.” On his return from Auckland, where he had gone to confer with the Governor, the General said he had found that the enemy had abandoned their strong positions at Puketakauere and Waireka, which were immediately destroyed, and that a large number of them had left the neighbourhood. The movement convinced him, he said, “of the utter hopelessness of all endeavours to prevent their escape from any place which they did not intend to defend.” “During the whole of the period,” he continued, “the enemy have been suffering very severely from sickness caused by privation and exposure, and I have certain information that they have lost a good many men, including several of their most influential chiefs who have been killed in action or have died of their wounds. The whole of our casualties throughout all these operations amount to only one killed and four wounded…. I am satisfied that any increase in their numbers which might give them sufficient confidence either to defend a pa in an accessible position or to accept battle in the open country would lead to a much more satisfactory result than a lengthened continuance of the present state of affairs.”1
On October 14, 1860, the Governor learned that a Maori had been found dead at Patumahoe, thirty miles from Auckland, and that the natives believed he had been shot by a European. Maoris collected from all over the district and it was discovered that on a given signal they had determined to murder all the Europeans present. “Mr. Maclean,” the Governor wrote in a despatch of November 3, “was informed of this privately and advised to escape, but with his usual nerve and judgement, he took no notice of it, and, after Archdeacon Maunsell had concluded his arguments, succeeded in allaying the excitement.” On a report of the supposed murder reaching the Waikato the tribes there were greatly excited and moved towards Auckland. The Governor ordered that the militia should be called out.1
1 C.O. 209, 156.
1 C.O. 209, 156.
In a despatch of October 16, General Pratt made the first mention of the use of friendly natives in an operation against Maori pas. They were 150 in number and were under the command of Parris, the assistant native secretary.1 On September 10 a British force of 77 officers and 1,378 men had marched from New Plymouth and destroyed the Maori pas Ngatipaririu, Kairau, and Huirangi. In an engagement at the latter place four casualties were sustained. On October 9 Pratt marched from New Plymouth to attack “three strong pas named Pukekakiriki, Orongamaihangi, and Mataiaio, held by the rebel Maoris of the Taranaki tribe, and situated, two on the right and one on the left bank of the Kaihihi River, about eighteen miles distant from this place.” These were captured with five casualties, the natives abandoning them.
On November 6 the troops under Pratt engaged the Waikatos, who were coming to join William Kingi, at Mahoetahi. In a fierce fight five Maori cheifs were killed and the total Maori casualties were estimated at from 80 to 100. The British losses were 4 killed and 15 wounded. “I never saw,” wrote Pratt, “a more gigantic or powerful set of men than these tribes; and being armed with well-finished English rifles and double-barrelled fowling pieces, they were able to keep up a most continuous fire, while their power of concealment was most marvellous; indeed, when closing upon them, we only knew of their whereabouts by the smoke from their guns.”1 On December 10, Pratt wrote: “The defeat of the enemy on November 6 appears to have had the effect only of rousing the native race.” He added that one of the many difficulties he had to face was “the uncertainty of the intelligence received through the Native Department as to the position, numbers and movements of the enemy; so that I am obliged to form and alter my plans from day to day, and feel occasionally as if I was fighting a ‘will o' the wisp.’”
An Auckland correspondent, in a message printed in The Times on December 20, 1860, wrote: “It seems that the Imperial Government do not yet realize what will one day be clear enough to them, that the surest economy is in sending a force sufficient to put an end once for all to these Maori Wars. I say no more because I am persuaded you all believe us in England to wish for troops merely for the sake of the Commissariat expenditure. What is the good of protesting against this belief? It is in the nature of things, perhaps, and we must bear the consequences as we may…. Whatever you do, pray make up your minds to one of two things—either keep the control and fulfil the obligations, or leave one and the other to us; you need not fear that we shall disgrace the English name, or justify, by any legislation, or by the expression of a single sentiment in the assembly, the supposition of Lord Granville (founded on an atrocious article in a low newspaper which has ceased to exist) that we desire ‘blood for blood’ and the annihilation of the native race.” The New Plymouth correspondent wrote on October 12: “Hitherto we have never once remained masters of the field, and since the affair of Waireka have not had a single success—not one gleam of sunshine to cheer us in this miserably conducted war. Six months, I believe, page 110 is the allotted time for blunders and incapacity to run riot at the commencement of an English war. We have exceeded this probationary period, and may, therefore, hope that a change is at hand.” The number of British troops in New Zealand in November was 2,145, and they were soon reinforced by the 14th Foot. The number of the militia was 692.1
In a long despatch of December 4, Gore Browne reviewed the question of “seignorial right” in Maori chiefs with special reference to the case of Wiremu Kingi. Fortescue noted that the despatch confirmed his own belief that the Governor had acted with “substantial justice” in the case of Kingi.1 The Duke of Newcastle's views were expressed in a private letter to Gladstone, dated January 21, 1861, in which he criticized Bishop Selwyn's contention that Wiremu Kingi had nothing to do with the King movement: “The King movement, the Land League and Wiremu Kingi are all separate parts of a whole—a desire on the part of the natives to reassume the sovereignty of New Zealand and with that view to prevent any more land being sold. Martial law was no doubt a mistake, and other mistakes have been made, but the Clergy would do better for all parties if they did not shew their almost bitter partisanship for the natives against the Governors and the settlers—the Governor having always hitherto been considered to go as far as possible in justice and common sense in the same direction.”2
1 C.O. 209, 159.
1 C.O. 209, 159.
2 J. Martineau, Life of Henry Pelham, Fifth Duke of Newcastle, p. 319.
Fortescue expressed the view “that the settlement in the end will be one under which the expense of the Queen's troops will be borne by this country and that of the local forces by the colony.” The Duke of Newcastle wrote: “I fear the Governor has thrown away our best chance of getting the colony to bear any portion of the military expenses hitherto incurred.”1
On December 4 the Governor, referring to a Colonial Office despatch on naval protection for the colonies, had stated that a colonial force, whether naval or military, would cost at least three times as much as one of equal strength employed by the Imperial Government. “The colonies,” he said, “might be called upon to pay a certain percentage of the cost of the vessels in the manner now agreed on for the Royal troops employed in New Zealand.” He pointed out, however, the difficulty arising from the fact that the Governor could only ask the naval commander to perform a service, and that if the latter took a different view of its advisability nothing could be done until it was almost inevitably too late. “Being fully aware of this,” the Governor went on, “it is not improbable that Colonial legislatures would be unwilling to contribute towards the maintenance of a fleet, the usefulness of which must depend so much on the temperament of individual commanders responsible to no authority nearer than England.”1 T. F. Elliot's comment was: “This supplies fresh illustration that a Fleet is no proper subject for Colonial contribution.”
A memorandum by Stafford, the Prime Minister, on the subject set out: “The system of separate Colonial fleets appears open to grave objections, amongst which the mode in which they are to be officered and the position they are to occupy relatively to Her Majesty's Navy, are among the least. This question does not affect New Zealand directly at present—nor is it likely to do so for some time to come, as it is not probable that for some years at least this colony will seek to establish vessels of its own for its defence by sea, unless the neglect of the Imperial Government to protect its shores should reluctantly compel it to do so.”
1 C.O. 209, 157.
1 C.O. 209, 157.
In his report of operations in January 1861 General Pratt said that his 5½-inch mortars were “totally useless in consequence of the fuses in store in this colony being some of them as old as 1805 and all rendering the shells more dangerous to ourselves than to the enemy.”1
Before the news of the January fighting arrived, The Times, in a leading article of February 14, said: “No news from New Zealand may be considered good news. So little can be gained, and so much may be and has been lost, in this inglorious contest; the initiative has so invariably been taken by the natives, and the selection of the theatre of war seems to rest so entirely with them, that we may well augur favourably from their inaction up to the early part of December…. If it were justifiable or possible to deal with every rebel Maori as a traitor or criminal, we might by degrees intimidate them into submission. As it is, we are compelled both in justice and policy to adopt the principles of regular warfare, while our antagonists are a fluctuating body of marauders, occupying all the strong places of the island, combining or separating and professing friendship or enmity as it may suit them best, and waging war on the whole European population, while we confine our reprisals to that part of the natives which is actually in arms…. For the present the Governor retains a paramount control page 116 over the forces and may well be influenced by many other than military considerations in a distribution of them. It is probable that more than one of our disasters have been directly or indirectly due to this divided command. Where the enemy is indefinite, the casus belli indefinite, and the limits of supreme authority indefinite, we cannot expect much vigour or unity of action…. A doubtful cause may be a good reason for not going to war at all, but it can be no reason for prosecuting a war languidly, and sacrificing in loss of capital and unproductive expenditure as much as would suffice to buy up all the rights of all the tribes in New Zealand.” But we must remember that the Maori King's followers would not sell their land at any price. Mana not money was at stake.
On February 9, 1861, Major-General Pratt wrote: “The information forwarded to me in this colony is in many instances so exaggerated and so contradictory that it is most difficult to act upon it, or to form an opinion as to the future. At this moment I have reason to believe that the continuous losses the Waikatos have of late received have subdued them very much, and that they now, for the first time, freely admit the skill and bravery of the troops, and begin to feel that a contest with them is a forlorn hope. I believe they would readily come to terms, if offered to them, provided (they being a proud and haughty race) these were of such a character as would show the clemency of the victors, without inflicting degradation on the vanquished; at the same time I equally believe that there are in the colony mischievous characters (few, I trust, in numbers) who would not desire the war to cease, but would look rather to its continuation, for the extermination of the natives and confiscation of the land, and are persuading them that the frequent arrival of troops is for the purpose of seizing their lands.”1
In a despatch of January 24, 1861, the Governor referred to a mischievous pamphlet “printed at a press worked by a person named Davis who was for many years in the Native Department of the Government and left it to avoid inquiry into alleged misconduct.” Donald Maclean, in a confidential report of January 23, stated that there was every reason to believe that the Maoris meditated an attack upon Auckland. “They have,” he said, “erected strong pas in the forest country inland of Drury. They are using every effort to collect supplies of ammunition, and they are at present busily engaged in securing their crops, and placing them in those fortresses. In one pa recently finished they have several tons of flour, and it appears they have a large supply of powder, obtained by the aid of foreigners, in a place which is not easily accessible, and to which they themselves only resort at night.”
On February 2 the Governor reported a conversation between T. H. Smith, the Assistant Native Secretary, and the Waikato chiefs, Tamati Ngapora and Patara. Tamati had said that there were two great obstacles in the way of peace: one, the requirement by the Governor that the men concerned in the murders at Omata should be given up; the other, an impression which prevailed that compensation would be demanded for the losses of the Taranaki settlers and that the land would be taken. Tamati added that, if it were understood that the suppression of the Maori King and Maori independence would be insisted on, he believed it would close the door against peace. “To die in the struggle,” he said, “would be the resolution taken by the King's supporters, who would choose this rather than the shame which would attach to submission or giving up their point.”
Sir F. Rogers made the following minute: “A man who can persuade the Maoris to some mean (middle) course between disclaiming the Queen's supremacy and abandoning what they look upon as the means of securing good government and perpetuating the practical independence which they at present enjoy seems much needed. The Governor and those who talk page 118 of the difficulty of having two Governments in New Zealand appear to me to lose sight of the fact that there are at present innumerable Governments there. The policy of Government I should say would be to recognize the independence of the British Crown; not to be too specific or unyielding about the exact nature of this supremacy but to allow it to grow; and to resist, as indirectly as practicable, but effectually, native centralization under one head. I wish that the Government had displayed more sense of the necessity of adroit management on this point.” Chichester Fortescue wrote: “It is certainly discouraging. I go very much along with Sir F. Rogers's view. It is more and more evident that the chiefs in native districts should be made use of and attached to the Governor.” The Duke of Newcastle: “I read this with much concern.”1
On January 1, 1861, the number of effective troops in New Zealand was 3,306. In February the Governor had interviews with certain native chiefs on the subject of the restoration of peace. The Maoris suggested that the Waitara question should be remitted to a Court and all crimes relating to the war forgiven. The Governor stated that the chiefs had said not a word about the future recognition of British sovereignty in cases where individuals of the two races were concerned. “Were they to expect,” he asked, “after joining in an insurrection, spilling so much blood and utterly desolating an English settlement, to have an unconditional peace which would leave them at liberty to renew hostilities when they pleased?”1
The following Colonial Office minute appears on Gore Browne's despatch of March 4, 1861, forwarding correspondence with Commodore Seymour: “It is to be regretted that there appears to be the same want of cordiality between the Governor and the Senior Naval Officer that there is between the Governor and the General in Command of the military forces.…. We have heard of General Cameron's arrival at Sydney.”1
On April 2, 1861, Major-General Pratt reported that on March 19 a white flag was hoisted and operations suspended. The Governor had arrived on March 27 and negotiations were proceeding which, he trusted, would terminate in an honourable and lasting peace. “On the 30th, when I was being sworn in as a member of the Executive Council of the Colony, the English mail arrived, and Lieutenant-General Cameron, C.B., reached my camp with orders to assume command of the forces in New Zealand, which was to be separated from the Australian colonies, while I am directed to return to my command in Melbourne. It is not for me to express any feeling in this matter, or as to the moment chosen for the change: my duty was simple obedience, and I the same day handed over the command to Lieutenant-General Cameron. I trust, however, that I may be permitted to assure His Royal Highness that during the seven months in which I have conducted this war, neither mental exertion nor bodily labour has been wanting on my part in endeavouring to carry it out to a successful termination, and that success has been continuous, whilst I felt, and well knew, that any serious loss or reverse on our part would have led to a general rising all over the Northern Island, and to the wholesale destruction of the property, and possibly of the lives, of the great mass of the settlers in New Zealand, for no amount of force which England could supply would be sufficient to protect the lives or save the property of the detached and widely separated out-settlers.”
1 C.O. 209, 161.
1 C.O. 209, 161.
The temporary peace had been arranged by Maclean, who was sent by Gore Browne to Taranaki with certain terms:
(1) Investigation of title of the Waitara land to be completed;
(2) Disposal of land in possession of Her Majesty's forces to be made in any manner he thought fit;
(3) All arms belonging to the Government to be returned;
(4) All plunder to be restored;
(5) The Ngatiawas must submit to the Queen.1
Gore Browne, in a memorandum of May 25, 1861, the day on which the Colonial Office was informing him of his recall, wrote: “When the supremacy of the Queen is fully established, the first step to be taken is the initiation of a system by which the natives may be governed through themselves.” He expressed the view that the Native Department should be entirely remodelled, that a native Service should be established, and that increase of pay and advancement should be offered as a reward for fidelity and efficiency. He advocated the establishment of a central school for the training of native assessors in the rudiments of British law. He stated that there was no school at all north of Auckland. Roads through native districts were absolutely necessary for the progress of civilization and the maintenance of peace, and a tribunal to deal with land claims should be set up. The memorandum was warmly approved by the Colonial Office and Fortescue expressed the hope that Sir G. Grey would be willing and able to carry the suggestions into effect. The Duke of Newcastle described the memorandum as “very sensible and practicable.”2
1 C.O. 209, 161. See Saunders, I, 430–1. Saunders regarded Cameron's arrival at this juncture as most unfortunate. “The terms of peace were altogether altered and put into much harsher language, without a word about investigating the title to the Waitara block.”
2 C.O. 209, 162.
On August 16 The Times reported that the 70th Regiment from Calcutta landed at Auckland in May and detachments of the 57th Regiment in the same month. The Governor's proclamation to the Waikatos concerning the King movement was published on the same day. In a leading article on August 17 The Times asked: “It is possible that we can be involved in a fresh war in New Zealand? It is but a month or two since we were invited to rejoice over the timely submission of the Maoris, to retract, mentally at least, any suspicions we might have entertained as to Colonel Gore Browne's policy, and to condole with Sir George Grey in finding his task of conciliation forestalled…. There is a vagueness in his (Gore Browne's) address, and an evident shrinking from the ultimatum of demanding the abdication of the Maori King, which the natives will not fail to construe into weakness…. Always sensitive, and self-conscious far beyond the ordinary level of savages, the New Zealanders, like the Israelites, whose example they somewhat ignorantly invoke, are moved by an instinct, shortsighted perhaps, but not wholly blind or rebellious, in clamouring for a king. This need not have been conceded in words, page 122 but it should have tempered the spirit of the Governor's language. Above all, granted that the King movement could not be terminated by the same negotiation which put an end to Wiremu Kingi's insurrection, the knowledge of these facts should have made him postpone the proscription of it till he or his successor should be prepared with a comprehensive scheme for the future management of native affairs….
“The truth is, that the New Zealand colonists, for whose exclusive benefit, if not at whose instigation, this war is to be undertaken, are literally the only parties who will not be out of pocket by it. The late report on Colonial Military Expenditure records, indeed, the enrolment of 1,500 New Zealand volunteers, but on referring to the list of those colonies which contribute more or less to their own military defence the name of those favoured islands is wanting, and Sir G. C. Lewis1 commented on the same fact in very plain terms. The outlay of a million or two on hastening the extinction of the Maori race may add one or two pence to our income-tax, may make our poorer householders look anxiously to their grocers' and butchers' bills, and even think twice about sending Tom or Harry to school, but it will subtract nothing from the profits of New Zealand sheep-farm, unless it happens to be in the path of a native war-party, and in that case its owner will probably put in a claim for ample compensation. Not only will it subtract nothing from the great bulk of colonial property, but it will secure to the seaports and garrison towns of the Northern Island the continued custom of four or five ships-of-war and nearly 7,000 regular troops. A very slight knowledge of the world is required to understand the influence of such motives in opening or shutting the Temple of Janus.”
1 Secretary for War, August 1861, until his death on April 13, 1863. He was succeeded by Earl de Grey and Ripon.
Earl Grey expressed the view that the presence of Imperial troops had tended to check rather than to encourage wars in the colonies. He attributed the New Zealand war to the change in the form of government. It was difficult to say on which side right lay. “I think it is on the side of the settlers, but that is perfectly immaterial.” He thought that the Imperial Government should, in default of a considerable contribution by New Zealand to its defences, secure a greater control not only over native policy but over “the general policy of the Government of the island.” Lord Grey's contention was that no motives of expediency could justify the abandonment of colonists and subject races.
W. E. Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was primarily interested in seeing that the colonies cost less, but he did not “propose to throw upon the colonies the responsibilities of their own defence by way of any sudden steps.” John Robert Godley and Robert Lowe, called before the committee partly by virtue of their experience in New Zealand and Australia respectively, were both keen advocates of the withdrawal of Imperial troops. “I believe,” said Lowe, “that the absence of troops would do more than anything to prevent war.” Sir Charles Clifford and Walter Brodie expressed the New Zealand point of view. “We would rather,” asserted Brodie, “have no wars than the heaviest commissariat expenditure.” The Duke of Newcastle said that he did not think there was any desire on the part of the New Zealand colonists to provoke war, to which their interests were as much opposed as were those of the mother-country.page 124
The report of the committee's discussions shows that it was the views of C. B. Adderley which prevailed. He maintained that when colonies were made responsible for their own internal defence, full and unqualified self-government could not be withheld, and it is with the efforts of the Imperial Government to stimulate the colonists' activity in self-defence that the history of Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand is for the next ten years to be largely concerned.
One of the recommendations of the committee was: “That with respect to New Zealand, while it may not be right, under all circumstances, to withhold from the settlers in that colony assistance in protecting themselves against the attacks of native tribes, so long as the Imperial Government retains a control over native policy, their principal reliance ought to be on their own resources.” In Australia, South Africa, Ceylon, and the West Indies it was recommended that the number of Imperial troops should be reduced or their cost provided in great degree locally. In conclusion, the committee submitted “that the tendency of modern warfare is to strike blows at the heart of a hostile Power; and that it is, therefore, desirable to concentrate the troops required for the defence of the United Kingdom as much as possible, and to trust mainly to naval supremacy for securing against foreign aggression the distant dependencies of the Empire.”
1 C. P. Stacey, op. cit. Cf. pp. 123-128. The Report reference is P.P. 1861, No. 423, vol. xiii.
Even in South Africa, where the great numerical superiority of the native races created special difficulties, the Imperial Government was to foster a policy of federation similar to that devised earlier by Sir George Grey and summarily rejected, with the avowed object of making practicable the policy of the Committee of 1861. To bridge the gulf between the Cape and Natal, and make these colonies more capable of standing on their own, Basutoland was to be annexed to Natal. The plan miscarried, and on March 12, 1868, Basutoland was annexed to the Crown. “From this annexation,” writes de Kiewiet, “may be said to date the new republicanism.” The Orange Free State sent delegates to protest on its behalf. The Aborigines Protection Society protested on behalf of the Basuto. All in vain. The history of South Africa, like that of Canada and New Zealand, was changed by a not very large committee whose report has received less attention than many documents whose influence was much less.
* C.O. 209, 154.