The Taranaki Question
VI. The Consequences
VI. The Consequences.
It were an unworthy and inadequate mode of estimating the importance of the Taranaki question if we were to confine our view to the more immediate and palpable consequences of the proceedings at the Waitara; such as the present condition of the Province of Taranaki, the heavy burden entailed on the Colony, and the like. These are weighty matters indeed, but our judgment of the Government policy is not to be determined by a consideration of these nearer page 82 consequences only. Every policy must be estimated by reference to the whole object in view, the whole of the work which is proposed to be done.
1. Here in New Zealand our nation has engaged in an enterprise most difficult, yet also most noble and worthy of England. We have undertaken to acquire these islands for the Crown and for our race, without violence and without fraud, and so that the Native people, instead of being destroyed, should be protected and civilized. We have covenanted with these people, and assured to them the full privileges of subjects of the Crown. To this undertaking the faith of the nation is pledged. By these means we secured a peaceable entrance for the Queen's authority into the country, and have in consequence gradually gained a firm hold upon it. The compact is binding irrevocably. We cannot repudiate it so long as we retain the benefit which we obtained by it.
It is the clear duty of every officer of the Crown, and of every loyal citizen, to do his utmost, by deed and word, to fulfil this national undertaking. Our individual opinions, about the policy or wisdom of the undertaking, have nothing to do with our duty in this matter. Our individual opinions, about the capacity or character of the Natives, have nothing to do with it. To sustain the pledged faith of our Queen and our nation, this is our duty. Much has been said lately about loyalty. Here is the test of it. The recent measures of the Government must be judged of page 83 by this standard; they must be approved or condemned according to their tendency to accomplish or to defeat the national undertaking, to increase or to remove the intrinsic difficulties of the enterprise.
2. What are these difficulties? The difficulties are doubtless many; but they resolve themselves ultimately into one, which is the source of all: that one is the lack of confidence on the part of the natives in our honesty and good intentions. They listen quietly to our words and approve them, but they watch and scrutinize our acts. This is the one original difficulty, ever reappearing: capable of being lulled and quieted, capable of being overcome and removed entirely, but capable also of being aggravated to the ruin of all concerned.
Just before Samuel Marsden left the waters of New South Wales on his first voyage to New Zealand, this difficulty showed itself. The ship was ready to sail, and all persons were on board, when the Native Chiefs, who up to that time had strongly encouraged the enterprise, became on a sudden gloomy and reserved. Their suspicions had been awakened by a gentleman at Sydney, who told them that the Missionaries would be followed by many others of their countrymen, who would in time become so powerful as either to destroy the Natives or reduce them to slavery. In proof of this assertion, he bade them look at the conduct of our countrymen in New South Wales. Mr Marsden met this difficulty promptly. He offered page 84 to order the vessel to return to Sydney, there to land the Missionaries and their families, and to abandon the thought of holding any intercourse with New Zealand. This sufficed, and the good work proceeded. [Nicholas, Voyage to New Zealand, vol. 1. p. 41.] The same suspicion was expressed at Waitangi. Rewa, while addressing Captain Hobson, turned to the Chiefs and said, “Send the man away—do not sign the paper: if you do, you will be reduced to the condition of slaves, and be obliged to break stones for the roads. Your land will be taken from you, and your dignity as Chiefs will be destroyed.” The same feeling prompted the Northern war under Heke. It has re-appeared from time to time in various forms. The letter which will be found at the and of this chapter, shows how strongly these suspicions were entertained five years ago by the tribes immediately to the Southward of New Plymouth.
3. Hitherto, the endeavours which have been made to overcome these difficulties, have been attended by a remarkable degree of success. The Natives have voluntarily transferred to the Crown nearly all the Southern Island and very large tracts in the Northern. They have gradually abandoned old usages, adopted our dress and our modes of cultivating the ground. A very large portion of the corn and other produce raised in this Island has been grown by them. By co-operative labour, sustained for great lengths of time, they have raised large sums of money; which have been expended page 85 in the building of mills, and in the purchase of small vessels for trading.
Nor has the moral growth of the race been less apparent. They have readily given land for schools. In the central district of this Island, boarding schools for children, offshoots of the schools aided by the Government, have been established by the Natives themselves, and are now conducted and supported by them. One hundred and seventy children are at this time boarded in such schools. In every part of the country, efforts have been made by them to establish some mode of settling their disputes by law, and to frame and enforce regulations for repressing drunkenness and immorality, and for securing good order amongst themselves.
The success of this great undertaking, as to both its branches, has been such as no man in the Colony anticipated twenty years back.
4. It is a remarkable fact that the same period of time forms the turning point of the political history of both races. The earliest working of the system of Parliamentary Government amongst the Colonists, was concurrent with a wide spread movement amongst the Natives towards some regular system of law and organisation for themselves.
The preparation for this general movement had been long going on. In fact the Maoríes, even in their old heathen state, were not without law. Notwithstanding the crimes and outrages of that state of things, page 86 the ceaseless wars of tribe against tribe, a strong authority was exercised within each tribe. On all occasions the life of the Maori man, in peace and even more in war, was fenced round with forms and ceremonies, with minute and rigid rules. War was not entered upon without extreme deliberation and caution. The movements of the warriors were controlled by the priest (tohunga). All the tribesmen consulted together on all matters affecting the tribe. The old system of government fell with the fall of heathenism. The authority of the Chief and of the heathen priest sank gradually, as the old belief and the heathen usages, which supported that authority, were undermined by the teaching of the Missionaries. For years the people experienced the mischiefs which flowed from the decline and the failure of the power which formerly restrained and governed their tribes. Yet the usage of public deliberation remained. Ournew forms soon commended themselves to their old habits. One of the first words of civilization which they borrowed from us was “Committee,” which, under the form of Komiti, is now received and current in all parts of the country. After the colonization of the country commenced, they watched carefully and habitually our public proceedings, and came gradually to the conviction that our obedience to law was one main source of our superiority to themselves. They were continually taught and exhorted by their teachers, and especially by the Government itself, through the Maoori Messenger, to substitute arbitration and peaceful modes page 87 of settling disputes, for their old mode of appealing to force. Nor was practical aid wanting on the part of the Government. Native Assessors were appointed in all parts of the country: who were to act under the instruction and guidance of English Magistrates. But it was not easy to find a sufficient number of English Magistrates, or to provide those who were appointed with the means requisite for carrying out completely the plan of the Government. The Native Assessors were left to themselves. Accordingly they set themselves to supply the need in their own way. They strove to establish for themselves, a system, rudely resembling ours, and so to procure for themselves a benefit which our system did not confer, except in the immediate neighbourhood of our own settlements. The result has been, that at present, through most of the Native districts, a sort of lawless law is vigorously administered by Native Magistrates, supported or controlled by Native Councils or Runangas. Even this rude system, with all its defects and all its extravagances, has wrought much good. The Maories have been schooled, somewhat roughly, into obedience to law or authority. Nor has the practical benefit been confined to them. Native debtors in the Bay of Plenty and on the East coast were formerly beyond the reach of their English creditors. Within the last few years, debts have been recovered in those districts, through the agency of Native Magistrates, to a very considerable amount.
5. The movement of which we have spoken was page 88 general. About the year 1856, a peculiar movement began to manifest itself in the Waikato District. The men of the Waikato aspired to a higher degree of organisation. They sought not only to administer justice amongst themselves, but also to establish for themselves a central legislature and government. No doubt the first promoters of this movement were stimulated by the example of the numerous Councils, which they saw established amongst the English under the new Constitution. But the foundation of the whole was a sense which had gradually gathered strength, that they needed some government and that the Pakeha could not or would not supply it. Accordingly a scheme which had been proposed several years before, was now carried out. They proceeded to elect for themselves a King. The strength of this movement lay, and still lies, in the Waikato district. Until lately it scarcely extended beyond. The authors of this movement “expressed no dissaffection towards the Government, but urged the necessity of maintaining peace, order, and good government in the country: which they argued the Governor was unable to do. ‘I want order and laws;’ Thompson said, ‘a King could give these better than the Governor. The Governor never does anything, except when a Pakeha is killed. We are allowed to fight and kill each other as we please. A King would end these evils.’
“Paora said, ‘God is good: Israel was his people. They had a king. I see no reason why any nation should not have a king if it likes. The page 89 Gospel does not say, we are not to have a king. It says, ‘Honor the king, love the brotherhood.’ Why should the Queen be angry? We shall be in alliance with her, and friendship will be preserved. The Governor does not stop murders and fights among us. A king will be able to do that. Let us have order; so that we may grow as the Pakeha grows. Why should we disappear from the country? New Zealand is ours, I love it.”’ (Buddle. King Movement, p. 9.)
This King party includes men of every shade of opinion and feeling; very many who honestly desire order and law, under the guidance and protection of the Pakeha; others, who are deliberately organising and preparing themselves for the purpose of resisting that aggression which they anticipate from us. Some reckless and violent men have joined it; but they have effectually been kept in check, until lately, by the large majority of well-disposed men. An instance, very characteristic in all ways of the Native people, occurred at Taupo, in December, 1856.
“At one of the evening meetings which was held in a large house lighted up for the occasion, one of the advocates for a general clearing out [of all the Pakehas, Governor, Missionaries, and Settlers] was very eloquently pressing his views upon his audience, when Tara hawaiki, of Nga rua wahia, walked quietly round, and one after the other put out the lights, till the place was in total darkness, and the speaker in possession of the house was brought to a full stop. ‘Don't you think you page 90 had better light up the candles again?’ he said. ‘Most certainly;’ replied Tara hawaiki, ‘it was very foolish to extinguish them!’ The meeting at once apprehended the meaning of this symbolical act, and the orator sat down amid roars of laughter enjoyed at his expense.” (Buddle, p. 8.)
6. This King movement has a further object, namely, to prevent the land within the district from being alienated to Europeans, without the consent of the King. This restriction of land sales is no doubt intended partly as a means of sustaining their own nationality against the Pakeha, and of securing a fair field for the operation of their new system. But it has been greatly strengthened, if not originally prompted, by their observation of the effects of the Government system of land purchasing. They perceive that as the territory of the tribe is gradually narrowed, the position of the chief is lowered, and that little or no permanent benefit accrues to the tribe, to compensate them for the permanent loss of their land. They are irritated and annoyed in a variety of ways by the working of the system, and endeavour in this way to protect themselves against it. The unpopularity of our system of land purchasing has been the strength of this land league.
“When any dispute arose, a party of king's men were sent to tender their kind offices as mediators; and having effected a reconciliation between the contending parties, they generally wound up their mission by proposing a union page 91 with their league. They said: ‘Disputes will never end under the present system of holding our land, nor can there be any security against clandestine sales (hoko tahae), until all the land is placed under the control of one runanga. We never have been able to manage these things, and never shall be on the old system, therefore join us and hand over your land to the league; then the cause of your quarrels will be removed, your land will be secured for your children, and peace will reign among the tribes.’ This view of the subject took with many parties, and drew many into the scheme.” (Buddle. p. 27.)
Accordingly leagues of this kind have not been confined to the Waikato district, but have been formed in all parts of the country. The earliest of these leagues was formed in 1854, at Manawa pou, between the two tribes immediately to the South of New Plymouth.* They endeavoured to obtain the cooperation of other tribes to the South of them; but foiled to do so.page 92
7. What was the position of the Ngati awa tribe and of the Chief William King, in respect of these movements, particularly in respect of the Waikato king movement and the Taranaki land league? There has been some degree of variation in the allegations, which have been made on the part of the Government as to this matter. The first suggestion, that William King was directly connected with the Waikato king party, was soon abandoned. It was next asserted that, though not actually a member of that party and league, yet he favoured them and counted upon their support. The fact is that William King strenuously resisted the king movement, even until force was actually employed against him at the Waitara. This we learn from Mr Parris himself.
“In December last, Waitere, from Hangatiki, an active agent in the King movement, called at Waitara on his way to the South, and left secretly a King's flag with a native called Erueti, the miscreant that proposed the plot to murder me; who has done a great deal of mischief in this page 93 district. As soon as William King found out that this flag had been left there, he accused those who sanctioned it of acting treacherously by him; and finding some of his own people favourable to it, he threatened to leave the district. This matter caused a division among the party. William King left his pa at Waitara, and went to live with Teito, near the Waiongona; while the other party still carried on the flag question, and commenced to prepare a flagstaff.” (Further Pap. E. No. 3A. p. 3.)
We have already seen (above, p. 57.) how Wi Tako, the emissary of the king party, certified to his friends in April last, that the quarrel at the Waitara had no connection with the king question. His words are “Friends, do you listen. The ground of this trouble concerns the land only. It does not concern the king.”
Again, it has been repeatedly asserted that William King was a leading member of the Taranaki land league. No proof has yet been given of this assertion. William King is really connected with a land league, but one quite distinct from the Taranaki league to the South of New Plymouth. As to the fact of his connection with a land league, and as to the nature of the league itself, all our knowledge is derived from a letter written by himself to the Governor, 11th Feb., 1859. (Pap. E. No 3A. p. 5.)
The letter shows that a league or compact exists between the owners of the district, extending from Waitaha, about 4 miles South of the Waitara river, to page 94 the Mokau river, and that a Council is elected yearly by them. William King informs the Governor that the new Council, elected for the year 1859, had decided that the old prohibition of the sale of land within that district should still continue (kia purutia ano te whenua). We have no sufficient means for determining the precise nature of this compact.
Nor is it necessary to inquire; for there is no doubt that the Waitara land lies entirely within the territory of the Ngati awa themselves, William King's own tribe. We have seen, “that the opposition of Wiremu Kingi to the sale of Teira's land, has been uniformly based by him on his pretensions as Chief to control the sale of all lands belonging to his tribe.” Such is the statement of the Provincial Government and the settlers of Taranaki, cited above (p. 26.) Mr Richmond has also stated in the Memorandum cited above (p. 55.) that “King's stand is really taken upon his position as a Chief;” and that possibly under other circumstances, “his birth might have given him the command over the tribe which he pretends to exercise.” This last statement bears date 27th April, 1860, nearly two months after the commencement of military operations at the Waitara. It is plain then that those operations were commenced in the belief and on the ground that William King was claiming as Chief of a Tribe, and not in any other capacity.
It should be remembered, that the resistance of the Ngati awa to the sale of the Waitara land was no page 95 new thing. Before William King returned to the Waitara, the Ngati awa steadily refused to part with the land. (See above p. 16.) That unwillingness began before any land league was thought of, and has continued unvaried and uninterrupted to the present time. Why do we seek a new cause for an old and unchanged fact?
The proceedings at the Waitara were not resorted to on the ground that William King was disloyal, or his people disaffected or engaged in resistance to the law; but simply because it was desirable to open the Waitara land. The purpose was good and laudable in itself, but it had no connection with the Queen's Sovereignty. The real object of the Governor is distinctly stated by himself in the Despatch of 29th March, 1859:—
“Since then, progress has been made in ascertaining Teira's right to dispose of the land (of which there seems to be little doubt); and, if proved, the purchase will be completed. Should this be the case, it will probably lead to the acquisition of all the land South of the Waitara river; which is essentially necessary for the consolidation of the Province, as well as for the use of the settlers. It is also most important to vindicate our right to purchase from those who have both the right and the desire to sell.
“If the land now under negotiation can be obtained legitimately, and without breach of Maori ideas of right, I have little doubt that other tracts of page 96 land of considerable extent will be offered for sale; and I shall thus be able to satisfy the demands of all moderate men among the settlers.” (Pap. E. No. 3. p. 3)
That there is now a connection between William King and the Waikato party is not to be denied: but that connection began after our employment of military force, and in consequence of that employment. It is the result of our own acts. We have driven him into an alliance which he did not seek or desire.
8. The movements of which we have been speaking furnished a noble opening for the establishment of law and government throughout the Native population. No doubt much care was required in dealing with them, so as quietly to obviate and remove that distrust of the Government, out of which they sprang. These movements were dangerous, because they tended towards a separation of the races. Yet even that tendency to separation had its favourable side. A complete fusion of the two races into one legislative and judicial system was impracticable. By the institution of a separate system for the Maories, the risk of collision in political matters with the settlers was avoided; whilst the Government had it in their power, by wise management, to obtain the control and guidance of the whole movement. Before this period there had been no mode of governing the Natives, except by means of personal influence applied to individual cases. They had now become in a great degree receptive of laws and of institutions. Not that per- page 97 sonal influence was now needed less than before; it was needed even more: but it was now required for a larger and more beneficial purpose, to restrain and guide the new movement, to mould its results into some permanent form for the good of both races. Personal influence was still indispensable, in order to effect in a peaceable way the transition to something more fixed and enduring than itself. The nature of the movement, as it showed itself in the Waikato district, and the main principles to be adopted in dealing with it, were clearly stated by Mr Fenton, Resident Magistrate, in a Report dated March, 1857.
“It being admitted that the Maories are theoretically entitled, but are actually not qualified, to exercise these privileges, the inference follows that for the present they should be induced to forego the exercise of them; and that in the mean time they should be suffered to exercise political privileges of a more primary character; that is, that they should be encouraged to undertake the institution of law in their own villages, assisted to make such bye-laws as their peculiar wants require, allowed to nominate men to carry these laws into execution, and permitted to assemble periodically for the purpose of discussing the actions of the past and providing for the needs of the future. Thus will a continued progress be made in their political education; their thoughts will be occupied, their minds elevated, and their ambition satisfied.” (Pap. E. No. 1c. p. 7.)
“There exists a void, and this void, the persons page 98 principally interested are most anxious to fill. The English power, having failed to induce the adoption of law in a direct manner, through the means of English Magistrates, is now offered the opportunity of thoroughly instituting all the ordinary laws, as far as they can be made applicable, by the simple and constitutional plan of initiating them through the intervention of the people themselves. For in fact the movement will, if properly guided, result in nothing more than the permanent establishment of a powerful machine, the motive power and the direction of which will remain with the Government. When the Maories express their anxiety to make laws, they also pray that the Governor will cause them to be instructed as to what laws they are to make. In fact, their views, divested of maoriisms of thought and expression, are simply that the law of England may be introduced amongst them, with such modifications as their circumstances require.” (Ib. p. 8.)
Shortly afterwards the Governor visited the Waikato district, and conferred with many of the Chiefs on the subject. On his return to Auckland, the Governor laid before his Ministers a Memorandum stating the course which he thought proper to be taken. On the 6th of May, 1857, the Ministers presented to the Governor a Memorandum in answer thereto, indicating their views; which coincided generally with those taken by His Excellency. The following are extracts from their Memorandum.page 99
“That an important crisis in the relations of the Native race with the British Government is now occurring, is a fact recognized by all who have any acquaintance with Native affairs.
“The peculiar feature of the time is the tendency to self-organization, now being exhibited by a large section of the Maori people. The numerous meetings in course of being held throughout the country, the recent attempts at legislation which have taken place at the villages of the Waikato tribes, and the agitation for the appointment of a Native King, are the signs of this movement.
“With some amongst the Natives there is reason to think that social organization is sought chiefly, if not wholly, as a means to the ulterior end of counteracting the growing predominance of the European, preventing the further alienation of territory, and maintaining the national independence. Another class appears purely to desire the establishment of law and order, and to be at the same time sensible that this benefit is only to be attained by the co-operation of the British Government. Between these extremes there are probably many shades of opinion.
“There is, however, little reason to doubt that, should the British Government wisely and timely afford its countenance to the establishment amongst the Maories of civil institutions suited to their wants, the more loyal and intelligent opinion will speedily become prevalent.page 100
“As to the ultimate end to which the British Government in these Islands is bound to shape its Native policy, there can be no difference of opinion. Successive Governors have promised, in the name of the British Crown, that the Colonists and the Maories should form but one people, under one equal law; and no effort must be spared to redeem this pledge.”—-
“But it is not reasonable to expect that a barbarous race should be able to adopt per saltum the complex institutions of a free British Colony. A transition state must occur, requiring special treatment; and the civilization, which is expected to lead to the adoption of British Law, can itself only be attained through the medium of fitting institutions; institutions which, taking the actual condition of the Aboriginal population as the point of departure, provide for its present necessities and for its transition state, and are capable of expanding, in their ultimate developement, into the full measure of British liberty. Nor should the letter of promises made to the Natives be pleaded in bar of measures conceived in the spirit of those promises, and directed towards their practical fulfilment. Actual progress towards a real identity of laws is essentially more just, as well as more expedient, than the maintenance of the fiction of an identity, which it is notorious does not exist.
“In the preceding observations there is no intention to reflect upon the past conduct of Native Affairs, as a whole. A certain amount of trust has page 101 been inspired in the friendliness and the fidelity of the British Government, which alone is much. The Natives would have been apt to look with suspicion on measures, which they had not themselves suggested. It is a new and remarkable feature of the present time, that the wish for better government has originated with the Natives: they are tiring of anarchy. No such opportunity for an advance, as now seems to be opened, has been presented to any former administration.
“There is great reason to believe that the Maories are fully capable of institutions of the character above described; of institutions, that is, containing the germs of British freedom. They are, to an extent surprising in an uncivilized people, habitually influenced by reason rather than by passion; are naturally venerators of law, and uneasy when contravening recognised obligations; are without the spirit of caste, there being no sharp line of demarcation between Chiefs and people; and have at all times been used to the free discussion of their affairs in public assemblies of the Tribes. To these essential qualities are joined an enterprising spirit, a strong passion for gain, and a growing taste for European comforts and luxuries. Such a people, impossible to govern by any external force, promises to become readily amenable to laws enacted with their own consent.
“The foregoing considerations induce us to recommend it as expedient, that measures should be taken as early as possible for giving the support page 102 of the Crown, and the sanction of law, to the efforts now making by the Maori people towards the establishment of law and order amongst themselves. In dealing with a question so difficult and delicate, we are, however, fully sensible of the necessity of proceeding with the utmost caution, and desire to see the measures of Government moulded, as far as possible, by actual progressive experience of the wishes and wants of the Native people; and it fortunately happens that their habit of public discussion will greatly facilitate such a policy.” (Memorandum of Ministers to Governor Gore Browne. Pap. E. No. 5. pp. 8–9.)
9. We now proceed to inquire what was practically done towards guiding and controlling this movement in the interval between 1857 and 1860. During the year 1857, and part of the year 1858, Mr Fenton acted as Resident Magistrate in the Waikato district. In that capacity he gave much aid and guidance to the people. A large portion of the population of the Lower Waikato accepted the plans which he propounded. The general sentiment of the people was aptly expressed by Karaka Tomo, the old Chief of Ngatipo, who said:—
“What is the meaning of the ark, that God said, let Noah make. The white men are cautious and knowing, the offspring of the youngest son of Noah. Noah was saved when all the world was drowned, because he had an ark. The white men will be saved, even if the Maories drown, because page 103 they have an ark. The law and order is their ark. Therefore let us turn to the white man, and get into his ark, that we may be saved,—the law, the council, the magistrate. On this day we begin.” (Pap. E. No. 1c. p. 38.)
No similar effort has been made in any other part of the Island. Early in 1858 a book was put forth by the direction of the Governor, entitled “The Laws of England compiled and translated into the Maori language;” and the book was widely circulated amongst the Natives. This book no doubt had a considerable effect in stimulating the movement, but it failed to indicate to the Maories the course which it was necessary for them to pursue. Some main principles of English Law were clearly explained, but too much of the artificial structure and technical language of our Law was retained. Taken as a whole, the book was far too multifarious and complicated. Much of it was occupied with matters, which must always be confined to the English Courts. There was little or nothing adapted to the very peculiar needs and difficulties of the Maories at the time. In the Session of 1858, several laws were passed relative to Native affairs: the “Native District Regulation Act” empowered the Governor, in Council, to make and put in force, within Native districts, Regulations respecting divers matters enumerated in the Act. It provided that all such Regulations should be made, as far as possible, with the general assent of the Native population affected thereby; leaving it to the Governor to page 104 ascertain the fact of that assent in such manner as he might deem fitting. The “Native Circuit Courts’ Act” provided that within every Native district a Resident Magistrate, assisted by at least one Native Assessor, should hold a Court periodically. Such Courts were to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction, as limited and defined by the Act. Also all offences against any Regulation made under the former Act, were to be cognizable by these Courts. The latter Act has been brought into operation at the Bay of Islands, and in the district to the West and North of the Bay, but not elsewhere. Under the former nothing has been done.
During the whole interval then of which we are now speaking, very little was done anywhere by the Government to guide the Native mind towards law and order. Various causes conspired to produce this result. The consolidation of our new constitutional system gave abundant employment to our public men. The unfortunate arrangement, under which the offices of Native Secretary and of Chief Land Purchase Commissioner were combined in the same person, issued in the services of that officer being employed chiefly in the latter capacity. The Natives complained of the lack of help and guidance from the Native Department, the head of that Department being otherwise employed. Personal influence was gradually diminishing, whilst the internal activity and excitement of the people went on increasing. Some important and well-considered plans for the page 105 future management of Native affairs were framed by the Governor, and sent home; but in the meanwhile, from one cause or another, but especially from the absorption of the Native Secretary into the Land Purchase Department, the government of the Natives was gradually slipping out of our hands. In the district where guidance was most needed, that of the Waikato river, one practical and visible proof has remained of the interest taken by the Government in the advancement of the Native population: I mean the yearly aid given by the Government to the schools conducted by the Missionaries. That has tended strongly to produce confidence, where so many influences have been tending the other way.
Whilst the proper functions of the Colonial Government have been slightly or not at all exercised, one accidental function has been ever active; and that a function naturally tending to produce disputes and jealousies amongst the Natives themselves, and irritation against the Government. Acting Governor Shortland truly represented to Lord Stanley, in 1843, that “the Government, by becoming a purchaser of land, is placed in a position which tends to weaken its influence and lower its dignity in the eyes of the Natives generally: and the high situation of Her Majesty's Representative is classed in their minds with that of any other buyer of land; a most disadvantageous association, but one nevertheless which actually exists, as can be gathered from the remarks they frequently make on the subject.” (Report. New Zealand, 1844, page 106 App. 340.) During the interval of which we are speaking, there was little to countervail this disadvantage. In many parts of the country, there was no indication of the Queen's Sovereignty; the Natives scarcely knew the Government, except as a purchaser of Land.
10. Over and above these more obvious causes of distrust, fresh causes have arisen of late years, smaller in themselves yet scarcely less powerful. Immigrants arriving in great numbers have been led to believe that the only source of difficulty in this Colony, the only barrier between them and wealth, is the Native population. Hence has arisen in a section of our town populations a very unfriendly feeling towards the Natives. If the language, which has been occasionally used, were translated and generally circulated amongst the Natives, any cordiality, or even friendliness, on their part would be scarcely possible. They have more reason to fear us, than we to fear them. They mingle with us on every side, and are very quick to discern the signs of such a feeling. Rumours of our evil intentions are carried from village to village throughout the country. Thus a chronic disquiet and suspicion have been widely spread.
Can we wonder, if the Natives, finding that our system has conferred on them so little good, and threatens them with so much evil, have taken it into their serious consideration, whether they cannot do better for themselves than we have page 107 done for them? Can we wonder that, under all these circumstances, the King movement and other forms of jealous and unfriendly combination have arisen and gained strength?
11. Moreover, it has unfortunately happened that the inability of the Government to discharge its own proper function and duty, the protection of life and property by the enforcement of law, has been most conspicuous in the very district where the present disturbances have taken place. The difficulties besetting the Government have been no doubt exceedingly great. What is here said is not stated with any intent of blaming the Colonial Government or any member of it. The only object is to shew, that the Natives, could not, under the circumstances, acquire any clear ortrue apprehension of the nature and benefits of the Queen's Sovereignty, or any confidence in the Colonial Government as a protecting power. The long series of atrocities, committed of late years in the New Plymouth district, commenced with the murder of Rawiri Waiaua, in August, 1854. The circumstances of that murder are stated in the following Report to the Government from the then Native Secretary, Col. Nugent:—
“From inquiry, I found that the first affray, in which Rawiri, the Native Assessor, one of the most respected Natives of the Puketapu tribe, and six others [were killed] by Katatore, partly arose from Rawiri attempting to cut the boundary of a page 108 piece of land which he had offered for sale to Mr G. Cooper, the Land Commissioner of the Taranaki district. It appears that Katatore had long ago stated his intention of retaining this land, and had threatened to oppose any one who should offer to sell it; Rawiri however, on account of some quarrel with Katatore, proposed selling the land, and was desired by Mr Cooper to cut the boundary.
“Rawiri proceeded accordingly with twenty two others, on the morning of the 3rd of August last, and had succeeded in cutting some part of the boundary line, when Katatore and party rushed down from his pah and, after warning Rawiri twice without effect to desist, fired and killed him and six others; four were severely wounded and four slightly wounded.”—-
“I fear that further blood shed may be expected: and, as unfortunately it has arisen about a land question, Katatore will have all the sympathy of those who are opposed to the sale of land. The relations and friends of the deceased Chief Rawiri, who are principally resident within the settlement, and who are called the friendly Natives, as being in favour of the sale of land, are determined to have revenge for the death of their people.”
At the end of more than three years, the murder of Rawiri was avenged by Ihaia in the manner stated in the following letter from Mr Halse, Assistant Native Secretary, to the Native Secretary, dated January 11th, 1858:—page 109
“I have to report to you that Katatore was killed last Saturday, under very atrocious circumstances. On his return from town towards sundown with three Natives, named in the margin, all on horseback, he was waylaid by Tamati Tiraurau and a party of five Natives, on one of the main roads of the Bell district, and shot. His relative Rawiri Karira, fell at the first volley, and was literally hacked to pieces.
“Tamihana pushed on; but Katatore dismounted and, whilst leading his horse away up the cross road towards the Huira, was overtaken and pierced with several bullets, then beaten about the head with the discharged guns (three of which were broken over him), and finally mangled with tomahawks.—-
“The plans laid for Katatore's death were Ihaia's, as he has admitted to Mr Parris; but they were so well kept by the Natives concerned, that nothing was known of them until they were effected. Even Katatore, who received a warning on the road from Mr Hollis, who had observed armed Natives remaining in one spot, had no thought of being attacked. Ihaia was observed watching him about town during the day under an assumed desire for a reconciliation, and he followed him out of town. I am of opinion that the attack must have been meditated for some time, as on the first occasion of his moving out unarmed he has been killed. It may be attributed partly to revenge for Rawiri Waiaua's death, and jealousy that page 110 Katatore, after all their efforts to punish him for it, should be in a position to offer land for sale when Ihaia's offer was rejected.” (Pap. E. No. 2. p. 27.)
Nor did these atrocious crimes stand alone. From the time of the murder of Rawiri Waiaua in August, 1854, aseries of deadly feuds went on, till July, 1859: and it was not till September, 1859, that peace was finally concluded. It is unnecessary to enter into the details of these feuds: many of which are to be found in the “Petition of the Provincial Council of New Plymouth, to the House of Representatives, May 19th, 1858.” (Pap. E. No. 2. p. 29.)
The effect of these continued troubles upon the Native interests was most disastrous. The Ngati awa Tribe had been one of the most industrious and thriving in New Zealand. “In 1854, William King's tribe possessed 150 horses, 300 head of cattle, 40 carts, 35 ploughs, 20 pairs of harrows, 3 winnowing machines, and 10 wooden houses.” (Dr Thomson. New Zealand, vol. 2. p. 224.) I learn from a friend, who visited the district in 1858, that most of these indications of prosperity had then passed away. To one who had seen the former state of things, the contrast was most striking and painful. Fragments of threshing machines were seen lying among the ashes of a burnt pa; oxen lying dead between the hostile encampments; cultivations abandoned and fences broken down. The Native population was divided against itself, and embittered by long continued hostility.page 111
There was no place in New Zealand into which it was more evidently inexpedient to introduce any new element of discord.
12. Such was the state of the Native mind generally, and at New Plymouth in particular, when Teira's offer was accepted by the Government. The principle asserted by the Government was most obnoxious to the Natives, and necessarily secured to William King active support in his own tribe and a strong and wide-spread sympathy beyond it. Nor did the mode of investigation pursued by Mr Parris contrast favourably with the mode of proceeding in like cases formerly, as described by Mr Hursthouse:
“The Government officers were scrupulous in obtaining the consent of every individual interested; title-deeds in the Maori tongue, showing bound-aries and reserves, were duly signed by men, women, and even children; and the whole business, conducted with the greatest fairness and publicity, was concluded to the satisfaction of both Native and European.” (p. 48.) In all these important points, as has been already shown, Mr Parris’ inquiry was defective. Everything tended to strengthen the notion, already generally entertained amongst the Natives, that the Government cared for nothing so much as to get land. Can we be surprised, that the old feeling of distrust acquired at once a new strength, and spread rapidly through the widely scattered settlements of the Ngati awa tribe? Nor could it be confined even to that tribe. The sense of a common interest, a page 112 common peril, carried it onward through the country; and when at last force was resorted to, the feeling of alarm and irritation reached its height. A number of persons saw that which they could not doubt to be their own land taken from them by force. That which the best disposed amongst the Natives had refused to believe possible, that which the worst disposed had foretold and made a subject of agitation, had now taken place. Was it possible that such a state of things should exist without producing the worst effect on the minds of such a people as this? The inevitable result of the course pursued in this matter was to weaken indefinitely every influence for good which was at work amongst the Natives, and to strengthen indefinitely every influence for evil. An immense impetus in the wrong direction was given to the schemes of Maori agitators, an impetus which they could not have acquired in any other way. We professed to be guarding against designing persons, yet we took (and are continuing to take) the course best suited for their purposes. There is reason to believe that the King movement has gained more strength, more adherents, since the beginning of this year, than in the whole previous period. That whole movement took its origin from our non-government. It has derived its strength from our misgovernment.
13. The peculiarity of the present irritation is that it is not, as former ones have been, strongest amongst page 113 the restless and more exciteable part of the population. The deepest sense of wrong is not in the men who are the most quick to denounce and to resent it, but rather in men of a more considerate nature, men who can estimate the largeness of the peril and calculate the consequences both ways. Many such men are to be found amongst the Native population. These men desire peace and union; they heartily seek our aid in reclaiming and raising their people, and welcome every proof of our good disposition towards them; they know the blessings of peace, and they know what Maori warfare may become; they have seen horrors which we can hardly conceive. These men chafe under the sense of what they believe to be a great wrong. They are bitterly disappointed. They ask why a Government, which had been constantly urging them to settle their own disputes by peaceable means, should itself resort at once to armed force? Why such force is employed, not to punish crime, but to seize land? They ask, why is William King, our old ally, now treated as an enemy? Why does the Pakeha denounce without measure the slaughter of the five men at Omata, committed after hostilities had commenced, whilst Ihaia, the contriver of a most foul and treacherous murder, is received by us as a friend and ally? Such men unwillingly accept the answers which are too readily suggested:—William King will not part with the Waitara; Ihaia is willing to sell land.
Of all the evil consequences of the doings at the page 114 Waitara, the most formidable is this,—the estrangement of the most thoughtful of the Native people, the destruction or grievous diminution of their confidence in the Government.
14. The actual degree of irritation and distrust is serious enough. It needs not to be magnified. All exaggerations on this subject tend to a great practical evil. They encourage a most unfounded belief that the time for rational and peaceable measures is past, and that nothing remains for the two races but a deadly struggle for the mastery. I see with great regret that a statement of this kind has found its way into one of the Governor's Despatches, 27th April, 1860:—“ There is a party on the Waikato who are decidedly inimical to the Europeans as a race, and desire war with or without cause. I am, however, inclined to believe that they are in a minority, and will be restrained by those who are wiser.” (Pap. E. No. 3. p. 38.)
On what testimony the Governor accepted this view of the case, I know not; but I am satisfied that the facts were not correctly represented to him. I have witnessed the astonishment of persons intimately acquainted with the district, on reading that statement. There is no antipathy of race amongst the Maories. The Polynesian man, from our first contact with him, has always shown himself disposed to look up to the Pakeha. He does not, like some wild races, sit apart in sullen indifference. He imitates us and adopts our page 115 ways. In everything but fighting, he regards the Pakeha as his superior. He is not unwilling to believe in our honesty, and in our desire to do him good. He will believe it still, if we do not so govern the country as to make that belief impossible. He offers friendship, he asks for guidance; but he insists on his rights, and he refuses to yield to intimidation. This has been his character from the beginning of our dealings with him, and such it is still.
That war is not desired with or without cause, is shown by the facts of the case itself. During seven months from the time when the present disturbances began, not more than 200 men of Waikato joined William King. It is reasonable to expect that if the present state of things continues, many more will be drawn in. During a considerable part of this time most of the English Settlements have been at the mercy of the Natives, but no attack or hostile movement has taken place.
A recent and imperfect Christianity and a commencing civilization have been suddenly assailed by that very power which is the professed protector of both. With few exceptions, these half-reclaimed men control themselves and remain quiet. This remarkable result is due, partly perhaps to their belief that they will be able to protect themselves if the danger should actually reach them, but in a great measure to the fact that the leaders of the Maories are not what they are often supposed to be. They have been without books, but page 116 not without education. The feuds and alliances between the tribes furnished a practical training. The Chiefs of those turbulent and conflicting communities necessarily became wary and circumspect and apt to calculate consequences. These men understand their present position. They know that they cannot stand against foreign invaders without the protection of the Queen. They desire trade and peace. They do not desire a war by which they can gain nothing, and may lose much. Lastly, they have learned to distinguish between the Government of the Colony and the Government of England. They look to the Queen for protection and justice.
I know it has been asserted that a large portion of the Native population is hostile to the Queen's sovereignty. I am persuaded that such is not the case. My firm belief is that, if what is called disaffection were carefully sifted and examined, it would be found almost universally to be at bottom directed against particular persons or particular grievances, not really against the authority of the Crown. If indeed any considerable portion of a people so ready and willing in former times to invite our presence and accept our guidance, and so able to estimate the advantages and disadvantages of the connection, had now become determined to cast off our government, that fact would be the heaviest condemnation of our rule. But we may safely and thankfully reject such assertions.page 117
15. A month after the last-mentioned Despatch was written, the following statement as to the disposition of the men of Waikato was published by a gentleman, who has been depended on by the Government, throughout these proceedings, as one of their best and safest authorities:—
“That some of the ultra-kingites may have contemplated extreme measures against the Pakehas is not improbable; various things have transpired in the progress of events calculated to lead to this conclusion; but this party is very small. Its ultra measures meet with no support from the great body of the Waikato tribes. The speeches of the principal Chiefs may be referred to in proof of this. Nor can there be any doubt about the sincerity of those speeches. The Waikatos, as a body, are evidently anxious to be in a position to defend themselves against aggression, but they are not disposed to become the aggressors nor to involve themselves in a general war.” (Buddle, p. 26.)
16. After the present disturbances had continued for some months, an effort was made to allay the irritation of the Native mind. A number of Native Chiefs were invited by the Governor to confer with him. Accordingly about 120 persons assembled at Kohimarama, near Auckland. The persons invited were, with few exceptions, such as were known to be friendly to the Government. Many of the most influential of them were unable to attend. The page 118 meeting had no claim whatever to represent the Native population: it was rather a counter demonstration to the Native meeting at Waikato. The Chiefs, who could have best disclosed the causes of discontent and pointed out the way to a better state of relations between the races, were for the most part absent. Various subjects of moment were brought before this Conference. Among these were plans for the administration of justice in their own villages, for the establishment of mixed juries in certain cases, for the defining of rights to land, and for the issue of Crown Grants to individuals. Even in this carefully selected body dissatisfaction at the continuance of the contest at Taranaki was strongly expressed by various speakers: but the mode of terminating it was not brought under the consideration of the Conference. A statement in justification of the proceedings of the Government was made by the Native Secretary, to which the assent of the meeting was invited and obtained. This was an unfortunate use to make of such an assembly. The statement of the Native Secretary was not complete, nor on all points accurate. Of the persons assenting some were old enemies of the Ngatiawa; and the greater number had no means of testing the sufficiency of the statement. An assent so given was not likely to influence the minds of men better informed and more independent. Yet the Conference did much good at the time, as a visible beginning, however imperfect, of a better system; as the first opportunity for public page 119 and mutual explanation, for stating grievances, and for devising, by common consent, proper remedies for them. The satisfaction of the Natives on this point was keen and lively. They prayed the Governor that the Native Conference should be made a permanent institution. The Native Secretary supported their prayer, and stated it to be “abundantly manifest that, in the present state of the Colony, the Natives can only be governed through themselves.” The House of Representatives thereupon voted money for the expenses of another Conference, to be held in 1861: which, if it be a really representative body, will probably do much good.
17. On the 11th of August, the Conference was dissolved by the Governor. The Session of the General Assembly had commenced a few days earlier. On the 7th of August, Mr Richmond obtained leave to bring in the “Native Offenders Bill.” The Preamble of the Bill was as follows: “Whereas Aboriginal Natives, after committing offences against the law, occasionally escape to remote districts, and are there harboured by Chiefs and Tribes who refuse to deliver them up to justice: And whereas also combinations are occasionally formed amongst Aboriginal Natives for the purpose of resisting the execution of the law and for other unlawful purposes: And whereas it is expedient, in order to enforce obedience to the law in the cases aforesaid without the employment of military interference, that the Governor should be enabled to page 120 prevent dealings and communications with the Aboriginal Natives offending as aforesaid: Be it therefore enacted &c.”
The Bill provided that it should be lawful for the Governor, by Proclamation to declare any district of the Colony subject to the provisions of the Act. When any district should have been so proclaimed, every person who, without the written permission of the Governor, should do any one of certain specified acts, should be deemed guilty of an offence. The acts were specified in Section 3, as follows:
(1.) Who shall wilfully visit any part of such district, either by land or water, or, not being a resident thereof, shall remain therein after having become cognizant that the same is subject to the provisions of this Act.
(2.) Or who shall knowingly purchase, or carry by land or water, or receive, any goods or chattels whatever the produce of such district, or the property of any aboriginal Inhabitant thereof.
(3.) Or who shall purchase or otherwise obtain any goods or chattels for the use or benefit of any aboriginal Inhabitant of any such district.
(4.) Or who shall knowingly sell any goods or chattels whatever to any aboriginal Inhabitant of any such district, or to any person with intent that the same may be applied or disposed of for the use or benefit of the aboriginal Inhabitants of such district, or any of them, or who shall otherwise carry on trade or commerce with such Inhabitants or any of them.
(5.) Or who shall knowingly and wilfully hold any communication or correspondence whatever, directly or indirectly, with any aboriginal Inhabitant of any such district.
(6.) Or who shall by counsel or otherwise assist, invite, or encourage the inhabitants of any such district to offer or continue to offer resistance to the execution of the Law, or shall publish or utter in writing or by word of mouth, any language page 121 calculated to invite or encourage such resistance with intent to produce that effect.
(7.) Or who shall refuse or wilfully neglect to depart from or leave any such district within a time to be fixed by the Governor by any writing under his hand, after having been personally served with a copy of such writing, or otherwise made aware of the contents thereof.
(8.) Or who shall aid, assist, or abet any person in the commission of the above-named acts, or any of them, or shall knowingly excite, encourage, solicit ask, require, or induce any person or persons to commit, or aid, assist, abet, or join in the commission of any of the above-named acts.
The Governor was also empowered to declare by Proclamation, that any Tribe of Natives should be subject to the provisions of the Act. The punishments for offences under the Act were, for a first offence a penalty not exceeding £100, upon conviction in a summary way before two Justices; for a second offence, imprisonment with hard labour for not more than twelve calendar months or less than six, upon a similar conviction; in case of any subsequent offence, the offender was to be deemed guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof before a Court of competent jurisdiction, to be punished by penal servitude for not less than three years nor more than six. All goods and chattels of any Native inhabitants of a proclaimed district might be seized by any person authorized by the Governor.
No check or safeguard was provided against the misuse of these enormous powers. No provision was made for any investigation, before any trustworthy and independent tribunal, into the truth of the matters of page 122 fact alleged in the Governor's Proclamation, or into the legal character of the facts. We know well how imperfect the Governor's own means of ascertaining the facts would be in most cases. He would be wholly dependent on the accuracy and sound judgment of subordinate officers. These vast powers, nominally entrusted to the Governor, would be really wielded by some unseen and perhaps untrustworthy individual. Yet the Governor's facts and the Governor's law, once proclaimed, were to be accepted as conclusive and infallible. To the persons who were to be visited with heavy penalties for disobeying the Governor's Proclamation no opportunity was given of contesting either the facts or the law.
No proof was offered of the Preamble. Few or no instances of the kind there mentioned had occurred recently.
18. The Natives generally believed, not without reason, that the King movement, or the Waikato land league, would be the first object to which coercion would be applied; that the Waikato district would be the first to be proclaimed under the Act. Let us now consider how such a measure would necessarily be regarded by a large portion of the population of that district. They have long been employed in establishing some sort of law and order among themselves. They have helped themselves, because we failed to help them; but they have been throughout following our teaching and imitating us. Again, they have been page 123 endeavouring to protect themselves against a system of land purchasing which they know to be injurious to their interests, and under which land does not become to them, as to the Pakeha, a source of permanent wealth and comfort. All these things they have done openly and publicly. All this effort to be like us, all this substantial good, is converted into a crime by one foolish title. Suppose then these proceedings denounced by Proclamation as treasonable or unlawful practices, in what position would they find themselves? They would be required to make an unconditional surrender to a power which has failed to win their confidence, a power which has done little or nothing for them, and which by the Proclamation defeats their efforts to do something for themselves. There would be little motive to submit, if submission were possible; but in fact the submission required would be an impossibility. Institutions erected by a people from a strong sense of their necessity, and valued by them accordingly, are not easily suppressed, especially where nothing better is offered in their place. To suppress a name is harder still. Even the British Government has warred against names and titles without success.
The Chiefs of the Native Communities possess only influence, no authority. Even if authority existed, how could offenders be given up who formed half of the population? The alternatives then would be, either an attempt to comply with the Governor's mandate at the cost of civil war amongst themselves, or non- page 124 compliance, followed by the most severe penalty; that penalty being no less than the destruction of their trade, the withdrawal, as far as possible, of all the benefits which for twenty years we have been teaching them to prize, of all the comforts and appliances of civilization, possibly of all guidance and instruction for themselves and their children. For the Bill contained no exception in favour even of the Missionaries. Everything was left to the discretion of the Governor.
This punishment would necessarily fall on innocent and guilty alike. For twenty years we have been teaching the Natives to abandon the old barbarous rule, that a whole tribe may be punished for the crimes of individuals, and to adopt the rule of civilization that the evil-doer alone shall suffer. All this was now to be undone. The Government was deliberately to sanction barbarism by adopting the old Maori rule.
One opening was left for escape, and one which the circumstances of the country would greatly favour. Their neighbours might, and doubtless would, supply what they could not obtain directly for themselves. By so aiding them, those neighbours would become offenders against the Act, and of course be brought within its direct operation. Thus the net of this evil law would gradually overspread the land, the population being everywhere converted into smugglers, carrying on their operations in defiance of a Government wholly unable to check them. Thus the population would be forced into lawlessness and disaffection, page 125 by a Government which had professed to civilize and elevate them; and all this for no other offence than for endeavouring to do that which the Government ought to have done and did not; or for endeavouring to protect themselves, by mutual compact, against a system of land purchase, of which many even of ourselves do not approve. These were the alternatives to be proposed to a high-spirited people, irritated by a sense of wrong done, and apprehensive of peril to come. This was to be the commentary on our professions at Kohimarama.
19. Nor was this measure less notable, if regarded from the English point of view. It was strange and painful to see the Colonial Legislature moved by the Government to deal in this way with persons not represented in the Assembly, to deprive them of the rights of English subjects, and that by an Act to be at once assented to by the Governor without reference Home; to undo in short all that England had been doing for so many years; to render impossible the accomplishment of the national undertaking; and, on the plea of upholding the Queen's lawful authority, to falsify the Queen's most solemn promise.
Strange also it was to hear that constitutional rights and the fundamental maxims of English law were to be simply dismissed, as having no bearing upon the question; and that by persons who had professed emphatically and repeatedly that the Native people should be subjected in all things to one equal page 126 law with ourselves. As though those principles and maxims were merely local and conventional rules, accidentally applicable to one time or one state of society, and not to all times and all states, so long as human nature shall remain the same. As if subjects of the Queen were to be punished, and that most severely, upon allegations not proved nor even properly investigated, and for acts pronounced unlawful by no better authority than a Governor's Proclamation. It was strange that men, who by the bounty of the Home Legislature have been allowed to wield powers so large, should so soon forget the spirit of that Legislature from which they derive everything. Nor less remarkable was it, that a Government which had strongly asserted the principle that the Natives must be governed by and through themselves, and the necessity of providing special institutions for the Maori people, should seek to inflict upon them this terrible pressure without having previously constructed any organization or proper authority, by means of which the Act might be carried into operation. The Government, with the professed aim of establishing law and of putting down unlawful practices, had provided no lawful way for fulfilling its own behests. If the Governor's Proclamation were carried out at all, it must be by unlawful means, by force unlawfully used by the Natives against one another. Strange indeed it was to see coercive laws, of the utmost severity, resorted to in a land where less than a year ago an page 127 unarmed traveller might have passed safely from one end of the island to the other, and where all the disturbance, that has since arisen, is the result of our own acts. It was singular too that legislators, complaining of their want of force to carry out the ordinary law, should propose an extraordinary law which would require still more force;—that, whilst they complained that offenders against the existing law could escape with impunity, they should expect to apprehend more easily offenders against the proposed law;—that they should propose to render a population more open to our influence by a process which could only isolate and barbarize them;—that they should wholly disregard the effect of such a law upon our own people, very many of whom likewise would be led to become smugglers by such a law.
During the discussion of this Bill in the House of Assembly, great excitement prevailed in Waikato. But happily the Assembly was unwilling to sanction such a measure. The Ministers succeeded in carrying the second reading, but it was found impossible to proceed further. This result has done much good.
Yet the alarming fact remains, that we have been already brought near to that stage of mis-government, at which a wrong, done in haste or in ignorance, is deliberately followed up by further and worse wrong; at which a Government, having by its own negligence and mismanagement created or greatly strengthened distrust, then makes that distrust an excuse for extreme page 128 and ruinous severity; and punishes the people, committed to its charge, for that which is less their fault than its own.
20. The evils and miseries of our present condition have not been unproductive of some good. Our legislators have come to a better understanding of the relations between the two races,—have become aware of the largeness and importance of the problem to be solved, and of the need of some sustained and systematic effort to solve it. The “Native Council Act,” however imperfect, is an evidence of this. It is also an encouraging fact that, at the end of a protracted Session, the Waikato Committee investigated, with the greatest care and patience, the causes and history of the King movement; and recognised its true character “as an effort to obtain law and order.” In their Report, [gap — reason: illegible]they expressed emphatically their opinion, “that what is wanted is to prosecute vigorously and effectually the education and instruction of the Natives, so as to fit and accustom them under European guidance, to take part in the administration of law, with a view to incorporate them into our own system of Civil Institutions, giving them the utmost possible share in the work of their own government.”
Of the extent and nature of the work to be done, this is not the fitting place to speak. Long and patient efforts will be needed, but by such efforts the work may yet be accomplished. There is no page 129 obstacle which honest and persevering effort and hearty co-operation may not overcome.
The essential condition is that confidence be reestablished. The restoration of peace will not suffice, unless peace be so made as to produce confidence, to create an assurance that injustice is not intended, to leave no suspicion or rankling doubt behind.
21. If the great object of our endeavour is to be attained, we must abandon all thoughts of a policy of intimidation or repression. We must adopt the only rational policy. We must set ourselves patiently and heartily to discover the causes of the existing irritation, and to remove them. We must satisfy the people that our government yields to them direct and permanent benefit, which they cannot procure for themselves. There still remain, amongst our politicians, men who hold that the Natives are to be governed by demonstrations of physical force, that we can depend upon nothing else. They appear to hold that justice does not concern human nature in general, that it is a refinement very good and useful for civilized people, but that in Native matters it may be dispensed with. They have not seen enough of the Natives to know, that men may live in poor houses and be illclad, and yet have as keen a perception of fairness or unfairness as ourselves. They are not aware that, throughout the past history of the Colony, our strength in dealing with the Natives has been in proportion to their belief in our honesty and justice;—nay, that at page 130 this moment our chief strength, that which saves the Colony from evils greater than those we have yet seen, is the belief still entertained that injustice will not be persevered in. Even the wild and vengeful practices of the Maori grew, not from a lack of the sense of justice, but from a misdirection and abuse of that sense. Be just, and you may easily govern the Maori. Be just, and a moderate force will suffice. Be unjust, and a force far larger than England can spare will not suffice. Force is good, if subordinate to justice, but is a sorry substitute for it. The Maori is not to be intimidated; but like all other human creatures, he is to be influenced through his sense of fair dealing and of benefit received: he is governed by the same motives, and led by the same inducements, as other men.
What is needed for the government of the New Zealanders is neither terrorism nor sentimentalism, but simple justice:—that plain promises be plainly kept; that our policy be perfectly open and friendly and straightforward; that we deal with the Natives as our fellow-subjects and fellow-men. If we really desire to benefit them, we shall have little difficulty in governing them. But men will never govern well those whom they despise. If we are ourselves sufficiently civilized and christianized to act in this spirit, the great work may still be accomplished. Our success in civilizing this people will be the truest test, the most correct measure, of the civilization to which we have ourselves attained.
* In the statement made by Mr McLean before the House of Representatives, on the 14th of August last, it is asserted that “it was resolved at this meeting of the Natives, that they should entirely repossess themselves of lands already alienated by them, and drive the European settlers into the sea.” In a statement of the proceedings at Manawa pou, furnished to me by Tamihana te Rauparaha, a strong supporter of the Government, who was present at the meeting and opposed the proposals there made, I find no mention of any such resolution as Mr McLean speaks of. Within the last few weeks a letter has been published by the Rev. Samuel Williams, in which he comments on Mr McLean's statement, as follows:—“This most startling assertion is positively contradicted by one of the principal Chiefs, who was present; the only one who has since been within my reach. I never heard such an idea breathed before. Having seen a number of the Natives on their return from the meeting, I feel convinced that such a scheme would most certainly have come to my ears, had it ever been entertained. If such a resolution had been passed, why was it not acted upon? Nearly seven years have elapsed without the least interference with the Europeans.” It is probable that the report which Mr McLean has adopted, had its origin in some violent proposal, akin to that which was extinguished at Taupo by Tara hawaiki, (above p. 89.)