Historical Records of New Zealand
To the Right Honorable Earl Bathurst, K.G., His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department.
The humble memorial of the undersigned merchants, shipowners, and others interested in the South Sea fisheries, and in the trade of the South Pacific Ocean, sheweth,—
That your memorialists beg leave to state to Your Lordship that for some years past a very valuable and extensive whale and seal fishery has been carried on in the seas adjacent to the Islands of New Zealand.
That these islands, being on every side indented with secure harbours and navigable rivers, their climate being in the highest degree genial and salubrious, and their soil of extraordinary fertility, they are become of the utmost importance to the shipping engaged in those fisheries, whose crews, from the great length of the voyages, invariably require refreshments and supplies, which are found in the greatest abundance in those islands, besides that they afford the means of refit and equipment when our vessels are dismasted, or disabled by other disasters, to which, in those latitudes, they are frequently exposed. Of these inestimable advantages, however, the commanders of your memorialists’ vessels are prevented availing themselves to the fullest extent, from the dangers frequently attending their intercourse with the natives, between whom and the crews of European and other vessels fatal quarrels have arisen, from the wanton outrages offered in many instances by them to the New Zealanders, who, although easily managed by good and judicious treatment, are a high-spirited and intelligent people, and extremely susceptible of injury and insults.page 664
That the Formium tenax, which is indigenous to these islands, and which is produced without culture in apparently exhaustless abundance, has been proved by actual experiments, made in His Majesty’s dock-yards, to be superior to Petersburg hemp in strength, and at the same time to answer all the purposes of the finest flax.
That the Islands of New Zealand also abound with the finest naval timber in the world, the cowdie tree in particular (which is found on the banks of the navigable rivers) supplying spars of the largest dimensions, fit for the topmasts of ships of the line, and equal, if not superior, to those now obtained with increasing difficulty and expense from Riga and Virginia, as appears from the reports made upon them to the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Navy by the commanders of the several vessels in which they have been distributed for trial.
That the natives of New Zealand are a robust and enterprizing yet docile race, and when your memorialists’ vessels are deficient of hands they readily volunteer their services, and prove orderly and powerful seamen, and that at the present time there are no less than 12 New Zealand men on board one single whale-ship.
That there is already established a considerable trade amongst the Sandwich and Society Islands and the various clusters of islands in the adjacent seas, the produce of which consists of many very valuable articles well suited for the China, as well as European markets; and the natives themselves, advancing in civilization, are gradually getting more inclined to the use of our cotton and woolen goods, with many other articles of importance to the manufacturers of this country; and there is every prospect of a rapid increase in the trade with these islands, under the countenance and protection of the British Government, which could not be given so effectually from any station as from the Northern Island of New Zealand.
That the consideration of these authentic and important facts has deeply impressed your memorialists with the conviction that the Islands of New Zealand have become objects of great and growing importance not only to the individuals who may engage in the trade and fisheries of the South Seas, but also to the shipping and mercantile interest of the country at large, their position, their harbours, their climate, and their peculiar productions all concurring to render them in an especial manner eligible as a commercial station and depot for affording shelter and refreshments to our shipping, and for rendering not only our mercantile marine, but the Royal Navy, independent of Russia and of the United States of North America for these indispensable articles of naval equipment—hemp and spars.page 665
That under this conviction your memorialists, with great submission to Your Lordship, venture to urge the great advantage and expediency of forming a settlement in New Zealand, for which purpose they most respectfully solicit that a military force may be stationed in those islands for the security of the various British interests which are springing up therein, and which must rapidly increase under its protection.
That such a force, restrained from every attempt at conquest or aggression, and acting solely for the defence of persons and property, would be equally advantageous to the natives as to His Majesty’s subjects, inasmuch as, while it secured British subjects frequenting these islands from being assailed and plundered by the natives, it would protect the latter from the insults and outrages which the crews of European vessels have sometimes perpetrated, and which have proved the occasion of exciting the natives to murderous and indiscriminate retaliation.
That a British protecting force, which several of the most intelligent chiefs have expressed a strong desire to obtain, while it gave security to persons and property, as between His Majesty’s subjects and the native inhabitants, would have a powerful tendency to check that barbarous warfare which the several independent tribes are perpetually waging against each other, and would thus prove the only effectual means of introducing amongst this interesting people the peaceful pursuits of industry and the blessings of civilization and of religious and moral instruction.
That, above all, your memorialists are exceedingly desirous that the important British interests connected with New Zealand should, as soon as may be found practicable, be placed under the formal protection of His Majesty’s Government, because from the information they have received there is too much reason to apprehend that the French have it in contemplation to establish themselves there, and that it would be a most invaluable colony for France, with reference to all the most important and favorite objects of her present maritime policy, no doubt can be entertained, as it is admitted by navigators and others who have visited New Zealand that any such Power in possession of its safe and capacious harbours, with the naval stores and powerful seamen which it would supply, could not fail eventually to obtain a complete ascendency in the eastern seas and South Pacific Ocean, and would obviously have the means, in any future war, not only of preventing your memorialists and the Colonies of New South Wales and Van Dieman’s Land from carrying on their trade and fisheries on these coasts, but would render the security of those valuable colonies them- page 666 selves, and their trade and intercourse with the Mother-country, very precarious.
That your memorialists therefore earnestly solicit that the British interest in New Zealand may be placed under the protection of His Majesty’s Government, and that such a military force as may be deemed adequate for this purpose be immediately stationed in these islands.
And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Sam. Enderby & Son. Willm. Mellish. Hill, Bontick, & Hill. Edward Jarvis. Buckles, Bagster, & Buchanan. John Chapman & Co. L. Marjoribanks & Co. M. D. Dowson. Tho. Warde. Donaldson, Wilkinson, & Co. Rickards, Mackintosh, & Co. Arthur Willis & Co. Geo. W. Lyall. Pitman, Mackillip, & Co. Joseph Somes.London, 24 April, 1826.