One of the most important considerations connected with the arrival of our new Governor amongst us is the manner in which we may best direct his attention to the many grievances from which we are suffering. These grievances have been, for the most part, caused by the incapacity of preceding Governors, and their evil effects have been aggravated by time and neglect, or by the mischievous interference of our rulers. As these topics have been repeatedly discussed in these columns, we do not now propose to enter at length into their discussion, but it may be useful to refer to the memorial presented to Capt. Fitzroy on his first arrival in Wellington to see how little has been done by him to promote the good of the southern settlements. The principal evils we then complained of—the non-settlement of the land claims, the policy pursued by the Government towards the natives, the necessity for the enactment of judicious laws adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the colony, the want of roads, and the power to make necessary improvements in the town, the expediency of erecting a light house, and a relaxation of the duties affecting the shore whale fisheries, all remain still pressing upon the industrial energies of the settlers, aggravated by the lapse of time and by Capt. Fitzroy’s mischievous interference. To take the question of the land claims as an example; wherever Capt. Fitzroy has decided, as at Taranaki, or as in the recent issue of Crown Grants in this district, he has
“By decision more embroiled the fray”
and the first step towards an equitable adjustment of this question must be the reversal of all that he has done. His policy towards the natives has been marked by still more unhappy consequences, and has been, if possible, still more fatal to the prosperity of the colony. He was distinctly warned by the settlers, “that the massacre at Wairau was only one example of what may be often repeated and on a greater scale, if the entire policy relating to the aborigines be not changed,”—he treated the warning with contempt,—and by adhering to the former policy of the local Government, with an infatuation perfectly unaccountable in any sane person, has caused the destruction of Kororarika, has produced a war which it is impossible to say how long it may last, and introduced general anarchy and confusion, and insecurity for life and property.
The question of roads, and the means of making internal improvements is practically in the same state as when Capt. Fitzroy assumed the Government, aggravated, of course, by the time which has since elapsed, and the mockery of the Road Ordinance passed last session, which was quite inapplicable to the southern settlements, as might be expected from the ignorance of those composing the Legislative Council respecting them. Whatever has been done in road making during the last two years in this district has been done by private subscription, or by individual exertion, and the present state of the roads, and the want of legal power to raise rates in the several districts for making them and keeping them in order is an intolerable grievance to the settlers employed in cultivation. During this period the district of the Wairarapa has become of great additional importance to this settlement, from the numerous cattle and sheep stations which have been established there, and a good cart road up the Hutt communicating with this district would perhaps be the most important public work of the kind that could be undertaken, but not the slightest disposition is shewn to promote such a work, not the slightest encouragement is given to any attempt even to obtain information on the subject which may hereafter be available. With regard to the other questions, Capt. Fitzroy has erected a beacon at the entrance of the harbour, but he has removed the pilot, and has imposed an additional duty of 5 per cent, on all goods imported into the colony. If he had established a lighthouse we should not now have to lament the unfortunate wreck of the Tyne. To our former evils he has added a monster grievance for which he will always have an unenviable notoriety in the history of the colony, we allude to the depreciated currency caused by his debentures, a grievance which we hope our new Governor will lose no time in removing.
Such, briefly, is the amount of consideration paid by Capt. Fitzroy to the wants and wishes of the settlers as expressed in the memorial presented to him. The best course to be pursued towards our new Governor, perhaps, would be to welcome him with a short address of congratulation on his arrival, and then to present the memorial (slightly altered) prepared by Mr. Domett and agreed at a late public meeting to be sent to the Home Government. This most able and carefully considered document contains a full exposition of the evils resulting from the policy pursued by the local Government, and the advantage to be obtained by submitting it to our new Governor as well as to the Home Government, would be to secure immediate attention to its prayer, and as the united petition of the Cook’s Straits settlers, it would have more weight than a separate memorial from the settlers of this district. All questions of a local nature might afterwards be brought before his Excellency by a Committee or deputation to be appointed at a Public meeting, which it may be considered desirable to hold shortly for this purpose.