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A compendium of official documents relative to native affairs in the South Island, Volume One.

No. 1. — Instructions to Colonel Wakefield, Principal Agent of the Company. May, 1839. — (Extract.)

No. 1.
Instructions to Colonel Wakefield, Principal Agent of the Company. May, 1839.

In furnishing you with some written instructions for your guidance in the management of the enterprise committed to your charge, we do not imagine that it is possible for us to define the particular means by which the objects of the expedition may be best accomplished. On the contrary, we are fully persuaded that the conduct of the expedition must be regulated by circumstances of which we shall not obtain any knowledge until long after their occurrence. We believe that if you thoroughly understand the objects of the expedition, we shall most effectually promote its success by leaving the page 50 means to be determined by your own judgment, founded on the knowledge which you may acquire on the spot, and directed by the local circumstances which we cannot pretend to anticipate. These instructions are therefore intended to be of a general character. Our purpose is rather to explain the objects of the Company than to specify any means for attaining them. We wish to impose the greatest responsibility on you, whom we have selected to take charge of this expedition because we believe you to possess the requisite qualities of intelligence, activity, self-command, discretion, firmness, and perseverance. Nor do we forget what is due to you when so made answerable for the success of the undertaking. It is only just, in our opinion, that the responsibility which you incur should be accompanied by the utmost latitude for the exercise of your own judgment as to the means to be employed.

It is with the same view to your responsibility and freedom of action, that we have placed all the servants of the Company under your sole and unqualified direction. We have informed them that they are expected to consider you as the representative of the Company; to attend to your instructions as if these proceeded from the Company itself; and to perform no act in relation to the affairs of the Company, except with your concurrence or under your direction.

In order to render this necessary control effective, you are authorized to suspend or dismiss any other servant of the Company as you may see fit, and even, if you should think it expedient, without assigning any reason for the act. In such a case, however, you will immediately submit to the Company in writing the fullest account of the grounds of your decision. Whilst we expect that you will justify such a decision to the Company we wish to guard you against the inconveniences that might arise from your reasons becoming a subject of discussion and canvass amongst the party under your orders. In case any servant of the Company should voluntarily resign, you are at liberty to supply his place as you may best be able. And we need scarcely point out to you the expediency of your rather allowing, if possible, any servant of the Company with whom you may be dissatisfied, to resign his situation, than subject him to the pain of being dismissed. It is also desirable that you should make frequent reports to the Company upon the conduct of their servants, whom we have informed that any improvement of their position in the Company's service will depend on your favourable opinion of them.

The objects of the present expedition may be divided into three distinct classes: 1. The purchase of lands for the Company; 2. The acquisition of general information as to the country; and, 3. Preparations for the formation of settlements under the auspices of the Company.

I.In the pursuit of the first object, you will constantly bear in mind that the profits of the Company must in a great measure depend on the judgment which you may exercise in selecting places of future location. As all the world is free to purchase lands in New Zealand upon the same terms as the Company, it should be your especial business to acquire spots which enjoy some peculiar natural advantage; lands, the possession of which would bestow on the Company, or hereafter on those who may purchase from the Company, some valuable superiority over the owners of ordinary lands. Of merely fertile land there exists so great an abundance that its possession, however useful and valuable, would not be peculiarly advantageous. Mere fertility of soil, therefore, though not to be overlooked, is a far less important consideration than natural facilities of communication and transport. There is probably some one part of the Islands better suited than any other to become the centre of their trade, or commercial metropolis, when they shall be more fully inhabited by Englishmen; and there must be many other spots peculiarly eligible for the sites of secondary towns. The shores of safe and commodious harbours, the sheltered embouchures of extensive rivers communicating with a fertile country, the immediate neighbourhood of powerful falls of water, which might be expected to become the seats of manufactures,—these are the situations in which it is most to be desired that you should make purchases of land. And especially you should endeavour to make an extensive purchase on the shores of that harbour, which, all things considered, shall appear to offer the greatest facilities as a general trading depôt and port of export and import for all parts of the Islands,—as a centre of commerce for collecting and exporting the produce of the Islands, and for the reception and distribution of foreign goods. In making this selection, you will not forget that Cook Strait forms part of the shortest route from the Australian Colonies to England, and that the best harbour in that channel must inevitably become the most frequented port of colonized New Zealand. A mere harbour, however, whether there or elsewhere, might be of but little value. There is not in the world, perhaps, a safer or more commodious harbour than Port Hardy in D'Urville's Island; but the smallness of the island renders its harbour of less importance than several others on the shores of Cook Strait. That harbour in Cook Strait is the most valuable which combines, with ample security and convenience as a resort for ships, the nearest vicinity to or the best natural means of communication with the greatest extent of fertile territory. So far as we are at present informed, Port Nicholson appears superior to any other. As to the relative advantages, however, of the different harbours of Cook Strait, you will probably be able to obtain useful information from captains of whaling ships and trading vessels, or from permanent English settlers in Queen Charlotte's Sound or Cloudy Bay; and with this view, as well as for the purpose of comparison on your own observation, we suggest that you should visit one or both of those harbours before you proceed to Port Nicholson. You are at liberty to engage, either at those harbours or elsewhere, the services of any Englishmen or Natives whom you may wish to accompany you in your visits to other harbours.

It is far from being intended that your purchases of land on behalf of the Company should be confined to that harbour which you may consider superior to all the others. While you will endeavour to acquire as much land as possible in that spot or neighbourhood, it is also desirable that you should effect purchases in any part of Cook Strait which shall appear highly eligible for commercial settlements or for agricultural purposes within easy reach of a good harbour. And, in particular, we must express our anxiety that you should obtain land around one good harbour at least on each side of Cook Strait.

It will be necessary for you to touch at Entry Island, the seat of the tribe to which, as we are informed, both sides of Cook Strait belong, and at the island of Mana, which is the residence of the family of the Company's interpreter, Nayti.

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In the conduct of negotiations for the purchase of lands in Cook Strait, you may meet with difficulties which no longer exist in the more northern parts of the North Island, where the numerous and extensive purchases by servants of the Church Missionary Society, and others have established a regular system of dealings for land between the Natives and Europeans. The chief difficulty with which, as we imagine, you may have to contend is that of convincing the Natives that the exhibition under your orders has no object hostile to them. They are necessarily suspicious, in consequence of the ill-treatment which they have often received from Europeans. We recommend that you should on every occasion treat them with the most entire frankness, thoroughly explaining to them that you wish to purchase the land for the purpose of establishing a settlement of Englishmen there similar to the numerous English settlements on the Rivers Thames and Hokianga and in the Bay of Islands, or rather on a much larger scale, like the English settlements in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, with which the Natives of Cook Strait are very well acquainted; and you will abstain from completing any negotiation for a purchase of land until this, its probable result, shall be thoroughly understood by the Native proprietors and by the tribe at large. Above all, you will be especially careful that all the owners of any tract of land which you may purchase shall be approving parties to the bargain, and that each of them receives his due share of the purchase money. You will find many of the inhabitants of Cook Strait who have visited the Thames and the Bay of Islands well acquainted with the nature of the exchanges for land which have taken place in those districts between Native owners of land and Englishmen of various classes, and it is not improbable that they may inquire whether, as you represent a Company, the land which you may purchase will belong to a public body, and be inalienable, like that which has become the property of the Church Missionary Society, or will be the property of private persons, liable to frequent change of hands, like those lands which have been purchased by individual missionaries and other settlers. Whether or not they ask this question, you will fully explain to them that the Company intends to dispose of its property to individual settlers expected from England, and that you purchase, if at all, on the same terms as have formed the conditions of private bargains for land in other parts of the Islands.

But in one respect you will not fail to establish a very important difference between the purchases of the Company and those which have hitherto been made by every class of buyers. Wilderness land, it is true, is worth nothing to its Native owners, or worth nothing more than the trifle they can obtain for it. We are not, therefore, to make much account of the utter inadequacy of the purchase money according to English notions of the value of land. The land is really of no value, and can become valuable only by means of a great outlay of capital on emigration and settlement. But at the same time it may be doubted whether the Native owners have ever been entirely aware of the consequences that would result from such cessions as have already been made, to a great extent, of the whole of the lands of a tribe. Justice demands not merely that these consequences should be, as far as possible, explained to them, but that the superior intelligence of the buyers should also be exerted to guard them against the evils which, after all, they may not be capable of anticipating. The danger to which they are exposed, and which they cannot well foresee, is that of finding themselves entirely without landed property, and therefore without consideration, in the midst of a society where, through immigration and settlement, land has become a valuable property. Absolutely they would suffer little or nothing from having parted with land which they do not use and cannot exchange; but relatively they would suffer a great deal, inasmuch as their social position would be very inferior to that of the race who had settled amongst them and given value to their now worthless territory. If the advantage of the Natives alone were consulted, it would be better, perhaps, that they should remain for ever the savages that they are. This consideration appears never to have occurred to any of those who have hitherto purchased land from the Natives of New Zealand. It was first suggested by the New Zealand Association of 1837, and it has great weight with the present Company. In accordance with a plan, which the Association of 1837 was desirous that a legislative enactment should extend to every purchase of land from the Natives, as well past as future, you will take care to mention in every pukapuka, or contract for laud, that a proportion of the territory ceded, equal to one-tenth of the whole, will be reserved by the Company, and held in trust by them for the future benefit of the chief families of the tribe. With the assistance of Nayti, who is perfectly aware of the value of land in England, and of such of the more intelligent Natives as have visited the neighbouring colonies, you will readily explain that after English emigration and settlement a tenth of the land will be far more valuable than the whole was before. And you must endeavour to point out, as is the fact, that the intention of the Company is not to make reserves for the Native owners in large blocks, as has been the common practice as to Indian reserves in North America, whereby settlement is impeded, and the savages are encouraged to continue savage, living apart from the civilized community—but in the same way, in the same allotments, and to the same effect, as if the reserved lands had been purchased from the Company on behalf of the Natives.

A perfect example of this mode of proceeding will occur soon after your departure from England. As respects a territory purchased from the Natives by Lieutenant McDonnell, the late British Resident at Hokianga (who is well known to some of the chiefs of the tribe occupying both sides of Cook Strait), and from him purchased by the Company, we intend to sell in England, to persons intending to settle in New Zealand and others, a certain number of orders for equal quantities of land (say 100 acres each), which orders will entitle each holder thereof, or his agent, to select, according to a priority of choice to be determined by lot, from the whole territory laid open for settlement, the quantity of land named in the order, including a certain portion of the site of the first town. And one-tenth of these land-orders will be reserved by the Company, for the chief families of the tribe by whom the land was originally sold, in the same way precisely as if the lots had been purchased on behalf of the Natives. The priority of choice for the Native allotments being determined by lot as in the case of actual purchasers, the selection will be made by an officer of the Company expressly charged with that duty and made publicly responsible for its performance. Wherever a settlement is formed, therefore, the chief Native families of the tribe will have every motive for embracing a civilized mode of life. Instead of a barren possession with which they have parted, they will have property in land intermixed with the property of civilized page 52 and industrious settlers and made really valuable by that circumstance; and they will thus possess the means, and an essential means, of preserving in the midst of a civilized community the same degree of relative consideration and superiority as they now enjoy in their own tribe. This mode of proceeding has been fully explained to Nayti. He perfectly understands that if the Company should purchase lands and establish a settlement in the Island which belongs to his family, then his father and brothers and himself would share equally with all purchasers of land from the Company to the amount of a tenth, without purchase, including a tenth of the site of a town. He is quite alive to the advantages of possessing land where land has a high value, and will have no difficulty, we believe, in explaining them to his people. You are aware of the distinctions of rank which obtain amongst them, and how much he prides himself on being a rangatira or gentleman. This feeling must be cultivated if the tribes are ever to be civilized; and we know not of any method so likely to be effectual for the purpose as that which the Company intends to adopt, in reserving for the rangatiras intermixed portions of the lands on which settlements shall be formed.

The intended reserves of land are regarded as far more important to the Natives than anything which you will have to pay in the shape of purchase money. At the same time we are desirous that the purchase money should be less inadequate, according to English notions of the value of land, than has been generally the case in purchases of territory from the New Zealanders. Some of the finest tracts of land, we are assured, have been obtained by missionary catechists and others, who really possessed nothing, or next to nothing. In case land should be offered to you for such mere trifles as a few blankets or hatchets, which have heretofore been given for considerable tracts, you will not accept the offer without adding to the goods required such a quantity as may be of real service to all the owners of the land. It is not intended that you should set an example of heedless profusion in this respect; but the Company are desirous that in all their transactions with the Natives the latter should derive some immediate and obvious benefit from the intercourse.

We have reason to believe that you may rely on the good faith of the Natives in any transactions for the purchase of land. The known instances are numerous in which contracts of this sort have been strictly observed, and very few in which they have been questioned. It appears, however, that the Natives expect the land to be used by its English purchasers. The tribe from which some land was purchased in 1826, on the Hokianga River, by a London Company (which despatched an expedition under the sanction of Government similar to that which you will command), sent a message to the Directors of the Company to the effect that, unless they took actual possession of the land which they had purchased, it would be resumed by its Native owners. The object of the Natives is to attract English settlers, by means of whose capital they may obtain goods in exchange for their labour and the natural productions of the country. We therefore think it desirable that, whenever you can do so without much inconvenience, you should leave some one or more persons in possession of any very eligible tract you may have purchased. This, by assuring the Natives of the intention of the Company to form a settlement amongst them, will tend to the security of the property acquired. With this view we authorize you to engage at New Zealand, in addition to those who will accompany you from England for that purpose, any other persons equally familiar with the Native customs who may consent to be left alone in possession of purchased tracts. We doubt not that this authority will be exercised with becoming moderation.

In whatever purchases you may make, it is most expedient that the boundaries of the land should be most clearly set forth, not merely in words, but in a plan attached to the written contract. A neglect of this very simple precaution has led in some cases, without any wrong intention perhaps on either side, to disputes between English sellers and Native buyers in various parts of the country.

It appears that Englishmen who buy land in New Zealand consider it advantageous that their own signatures, and those of the Native sellers on the pukapuka, should be attested by a member of one of the religious missions. Mr. Williams, the chairman of the Church Mission, drew up and signed as a witness, a contract for land purchased at Tamaka, in the Frith of the Thames, by Mr. Fairburn, a Church missionary catechist; and you will observe that Lieutenant McDonnell's contracts for land at Hokianga are attested by members of the Wesleyan Mission. The Natives probably attach some peculiar importance to the attestation of a missionary, in consequence of the peculiar respect in which they hold that class of settlers. If you should find this to be the case, you will of course endeavour to obtain, whenever the opportunity may occur, such higher degree of authenticity for the contracts into which you may enter on behalf of the Company.

II.Our instructions as to the acquisition of general information respecting the country may be briefly given. It is impossible that you should furnish the Company with too much information, or with information of too varied a character. We shall be anxious to know all that you can possibly learn upon every subject of inquiry. The subjects of inquiry comprise everything about which it is possible to inquire. No matter should be deemed unworthy of examination,—no particulars, however minute, will be unacceptable. We suppose that you will keep a daily journal of observations, and that in this journal you will as far as possible mention whatever may attract your notice. Those points even which may appear to you on the spot as of the least importance will not be thought insignificant by us. Besides contributing as largely as your time will permit to our stock of knowledge respecting New Zealand, you will take care that the scientific gentlemen attached to the expedition have every possible facility of exploring the country at the places at which you may touch or sojourn. They are instructed to make separate reports to the Company, each in his own department of science; and these reports will pass through your hands, in order that you may be satisfied of their copiousness and accuracy. This rule applies to drawings made by the draftsmen of the Company. And we must now mention another rule, which you will not fail to impress on all your subordinates; namely, the propriety of carefully avoiding anything like exaggeration in describing the more favourable features of the country. Let the bad be stated as plainly and as fully as the good, so that the Company, learning the whole truth as well as nothing but the truth, may run no risk of misleading others.

For fear of inducing you to attach undue importance to particular branches of inquiry to the neglect of others, we are almost unwilling to specify those which appear to us to deserve the greatest page 53 attention. Yet we must remark that, in the allotment of the time devoted to general observation, the largest portion should be given to those spots where you may make purchases on behalf of the Company. This is due to the shareholders, by means of whose capital the enterprise is undertaken. But we by no means wish to confine the reports to such spots. Let the fullest inquiries be made wherever it is practicable; and assure all the gentlemen attached to the expedition, not only that the information supplied by them will be conveyed to the public of this country, but also that each of them will receive public credit for his share of the contribution.

Nor is it as respects locality merely that the interests of the Company should be first considered. The subjects upon which information will be most acceptable are those which relate to the eligibility of places for settlement; such as the qualities of a harbour, its facilities of communication, the form and character of the neighbouring country, and the quality of the soil, and of any rivers that may flow into it; the natural productions of the land, more especially those which would be fit for exportation; and the numbers and character of the Native tribe inhabiting the spot; all those particulars, in short which you may suppose would prove most interesting to persons who contemplated settling in New Zealand. General information relating to navigation, geography, geology, botany, zoology, and the traditions, customs, and character of the Natives, will be highly appreciated, and will be communicated from time to time to the scientific societies in England; but this must be considered an object secondary in importance to those inquiries which more immediately concern the Company and its colonizing operations.

You are aware that numerous vessels resort to New Zealand on their way to England, and that there is constant communication between the Islands and the neighbouring Colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. You will therefore have great facilities for communicating with the Company. We expect to hear from you by every possible opportunity, and to receive frequent reports from the scientific gentlemen. It is indeed expedient that all the journals should be written in triplicate, and that two copies should be forwarded to us by different vessels. This is a matter of essential importance, and may be easily provided for by forecast and attention; so that whenever an opportunity of sending occurs, the copies of the journals down to that time may be ready to send. We are assured that the volunteers in the expedition will cheerfully assist in copying.

III.Considering the excellent sailing qualities of the "Tory," and that you are amply supplied with provisions and water, we trust that you may reach Cook Strait, without touching anywhere, by the end of August. As soon as you have completed your business there, which we are in hopes may not occupy you more than two months, you will proceed to Kaipara, and thoroughly inspect that harbour and district. You will also take the best means in your power of ascertaining whether there is, to the southward of Kaipara, a spot more suitable than that port to become the seat of the commercial capital of the North Island; and if you should discover such a spot, you will endeavour to make an extensive purchase there.

At Kaipara you will exhibit to the Natives the original contracts of Lieutenant McDonnell, and will claim on behalf of the Company the lands therein named. You will also inform the Natives that Lieutenant McDonnell intends to proceed to New Zealand ere long; you will deliver to the chiefs the letter whereby he informs them of his having transferred his lands there to the Company; and you will take whatever steps you may think most expedient to obtain possession of this tract in the name of the Company.

Supposing you to have selected from any purchases that you may make in Cook Strait, or the neighbourhood of Kaipara, or in the district of the Company's lands at Kaipara, that spot which you shall deem the fittest for a first settlement,—that spot which shall present the most satisfactory combination of facility of access, security for shipping, fertile soil, water communication with districts abounding in flax and timber, and falls of water for the purpose of mills,—and where the Native inhabitants shall evince the greatest desire to receive English settlers, and appear most anxious to obtain employment for wages;—there you will make all such preparations for the arrival of a body of settlers as the means at your disposal will allow. Amongst these it occurs to us that the Natives should be employed, at liberal wages, in felling the best kinds of timber, taking the logs to the place which you may have marked out for the site of a town, and also in collecting and preparing flax and spars as a return freight for vessels which may convey settlers to the place. You should also make the Natives thoroughly aware of the nature and extent of the intended settlement, so that they may not be surprised at the subsequent arrival of a number of large ships. And at this spot, when you quit it, you will of course leave such persons as you may be able to spare, and shall be willing to remain, for the purpose of assuring the Natives of your return, and of pursuing the labours of preparation. On quitting this spot you will proceed directly to Port Hardy, in D'Urville's Island, where you will remain until some of the Company's vessels shall arrive from England. By the first and subsequent vessels you will receive further instructions. It is of essential consequence that you should, if possible, reach Port Hardy by the 10th of January next, or, if that should not be possible, that you find means of transmitting to the Company's vessels that will be directed to touch there by that time, a full account of the spot on which you may have determined as the site of the first settlement.

In addition to the three subjects on which we have already expressed our views, there are several points to which we must direct your attention.

You will consider any act of aggression or affront from any of the Company's servants towards any Native of New Zealand as a sufficient reason for immediate dismissal from the Company's service, and in the most public manner.

Drunkenness, though in this case the same publicity may not be necessary, should be invariably visited with a similar penalty.

You will take care that the servants of the Company show every mark of respect to the missionaries with whom you may meet, and also in conversation with the Natives respecting them. This is due to their calling; is deserved by the sacrifices they have made as the pioneers of civilization; and will moreover be found of service in your intercourse with the Natives, who, in the northern part of the North Island at least, regard missionary settlers with the greatest respect.

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Except in cases of unavoidable necessity, the servants of the Company will perform no work on Sunday; and you will always assemble them for public worship on that day. You will find that the Natives who have had much intercourse with missionaries draw a marked distinction between those settlers who work on Sundays and those who do not, regarding the former as inferior people, and the latter as rangatiras or gentlemen.

You are aware of the objections of the officers of the Church Missionary Society in England to any legislation for the purpose of the systematic and well-regulated colonization of New Zealand. We are assured that the members of the different missions established in New Zealand, whether Churchmen, Catholics, or Wesleyans, by no means share in these objections, but are, on the contrary, most desirous that a British authority should be established, as well for the protection of the Natives from the aggressions of lawless Englishmen as for the general security of person and property throughout the settlements already formed, and the Islands in general. Upon this point, however, and with respect to the feelings of the Native chiefs on the subject, yon will endeavour to obtain and will transmit to us from time to time the fullest and most accurate information.

We shall be particularly anxious about the fate of Nayti. He is no longer a New Zealander in manners, habits, or tastes, but has acquired those of a well-bred Englishman. This result of his sojourn in England has occurred, we believe, chiefly by means of the peculiar treatment which he has received in this country. Though a complete savage when he arrived, he was at once placed on a footing of equality with the family who brought him to England, and has never by anybody been treated as an inferior being. You are acquainted with his sterling good qualities, and aware of the respect in which he is held by numbers. He is very proud of having been invariably treated with respect, and of the estimation which he has obtained in England. By cultivating this sentiment, by admitting him to all the privileges of an officer of the Company, by constantly availing yourself of his services as an interpreter, and consulting him as to the modes of establishing friendly relations with his countrymen, and by exhibiting him to them as your coadjutor and friend, you will not only, we are assured, prevent him from wishing to return to the usages of savage life, but you will hold up a most useful example to the young men of superior families in his own tribe and others. The great obstacle to the civilization of a barbarous people is the difficulty of providing for the continued relative superiority of their chief families. If these can be made persons of consequence in the settlements established by a civilized race, they will be able to protect and improve the lower orders of their countrymen. This object, we believe, may be accomplished by systematic painstaking. It is an object to which the Company attach the highest importance, and one which, we trust, may be promoted by holding up Nayti to his countrymen as conclusive evidence of their capacity for performing useful parts and occupying respectable positions in a community of British emigrants. And you will not fail to seize any opportunity that may occur of inducing other Natives of the chief families to follow Nayti's example, by qualifying themselves for superior employments, and for enjoying the really valuable property which all such persons may hope to acquire if the Company's plan, with respect to reserves of land for the Natives, should be generally established by means of a legislative measure.

In case any calamity should befall yourself, the command of the expedition will devolve upon such person as you may have previously selected for that purpose, who will attend to these instructions as if they had been addressed to him.