History of New Zealand
Chapter v. — Sir George Gipps
Sir George Gipps.
WhenGibbon Wakefield clandestinely despatched the ‘Tory’ in May, 1839, he quickened the movements of the Colonial Secretary, the Marquis of Normanby, who informed the Lords of the Treasury, in June, that “circumstances had transpired which have further tended to force upon Her Majesty's Government the adoption of measures for the providing for the government of the Queen's subjects resident in or resorting to New Zealand. With that view it is proposed that certain parts of the islands should be added to the colony of New South Wales as a dependency of that Government, and Captain Hobson, R.N., who has been selected to proceed as British Consu' will also be appointed Lieutenant-Governor.”
On the 15th June, the boundaries of New South Wales were accordingly extended under the great seal; and on the 13th July, Hobson was made Lieutenant-Governor of “any territory which is or may be acquired in sovereignty by Her Majesty”in New Zealand.
With instructions (from Lord Normanby) Hobson sailed from England in H.M.S. ‘Druid,' three months after Colonel Wake field's departure. When he arrived in Sydney, Wakefield's proceedings were known, and if the clear judgment of Governor Gipps had not been available to guide him Hobson might have been sorely distressed. But Gipps would not have shrunk from contest with Gibbon Wakefield, and that astute contriver had sent creatures inferior to himself to carry out his designs.
Before Hobson left Sydney, he took, 14th January, 1840, the usual oaths of office as Lieutenant-Governor. On the 15th, Gipps, who had received a commission extending his own page 213 authority to any territory of which the “sovereignty has been or may be acquired in New Zealand,”communicated a copy of his own commission to Hobson, together with Hobson's commission as Lieutenant-Governor. He also gave stringent instructions to Hobson. As to the extent of land to be acquired the Marquis of Normanby had given commands, and Gipps would “take the earliest possible measures for carrying them into effect.’
With details as to Treasury regulations and estimates, these pages need not be encumbered further than by noting that Gipps gave specific instructions. Hobson could not pardon criminals, but might stay execution of legal sentence, and could only recommend to Gipps persons to be appointed magistrates.
But the rod with which the New Zealand Company and all other traffickers in Maori land were to be controlled, was shown by a Proclamation—(framed in conformity with Lord Normanby's instructions, and forthwith published both in Sydney and at the Bay of Islands)—that the Queen did not think it “expedient to recognize as valid any titles to land in New Zealand which are not derived from or confirmed by Her Majesty.”
Hobson's own proclamation was prepared for him under the careful eye of Gipps. Quoting and reiterating the Queen's pleasure in the matter, and averring that the “rights and interests of the natives”were part of her care, he added that to dispel apprehension that there was a desire to dispossess “owners of land acquired on equitable conditions,”he proclaimed that a Commission would be appointed under powers “derived from the Governor and Legislative Council of New South Wales to inquire into and report on all claims to such lands.”All purchases made after publication of the Proclamation would be “considered as absolutely null and void, and will not be confirmed or in any way recognized by her Majesty.'
Hobson sailed from Sydney on the 19th January, in H.M.S. ‘Herald,’ and arrived at Kororarika on the 29th. His Commission and Proclamation were published on the 13th January, 1840. Thus all British rovers were brought into subjection; and the first ship despatched by the New Zealand Company with immigrants to Port Nicholson, the ‘Aurora,’ arrived on the 22nd January, and landed them to find that not the company but the page 214 British Government would control them. There still remained a foreign element to deal with.
Gipps, aware that there were designs to form a French settlement, warned Hobson (25th January, 1840) that, as the Colonial Secretary's instructions were entirely silent on the subject, the inference to be drawn was that until territory could be “acquired in sovereignty by the Queen,”Hobson could not be brought into contact with foreigners, but that after such acquisition foreigners would stand towards the Government in “the same relation as they do in any other colonial possession of the Crown.”Hobson was to abstain from agitating the question in any manner; and as to fishing and resort to harbours by foreigners, to take no step until Her Majesty's pleasure might be signified
Hobson's arrival extinguished Busby's position as British Resident; but Busby gave loyal assistance to the new-comer. The missionaries also heartily welcomed the representative of that power to which alone they looked to save their disciples from the evils of a lawless occupation of the country.
The English inhabitants presented an address to Hobson on the 3rd February. Lord Normanby's instructions contained full directions as to the treaty to be made. Hobson invited the chiefs, by notices printed in Maori, to a meeting in order to consider a draft treaty; which, when he had prepared an English copy, he called upon Henry Williams (4th February) to translate. He informed Williams that he was authorized by the Secretary of State to appeal to him, and the Bishop of Australia by letter to Williams had strongly urged upon the missionaries as a body, to exercise their influence to induce the chiefs “to make the desired surrender of sovereignty to her Majesty.”
On the 30th January, certain Europeans essayed to poison the minds of the Maoris by taunting them as slaves because Hobson had arrived to establish the rule of the Queen.
On the 5th February, a dramatic scene was enacted in Maori land. Not now Ruatara, but Captain Nias of H.M.S. ‘Herald,’ was master of the ceremonies. Tents decorated with flags were arranged round an area containing a platform at Waitangi, on the north shore of the Bay of Islands. At twelve o'clock (after receiving Europeans at Busby's house) Hobson, supported by Nias and his officers, and “followed by all the principal European page 215 inhabitants in procession,”took his seat on the platform. The chiefs were seated around it, and the Europeans were behind them. Henry Williams was ready with the treaty in Maori, carefully examined beforehand by Busby. Hobson spoke to the chiefs, Henry Williams interpreting. “I explained (Hobson wrote to Gipps), and I assured them in the most fervent manner that they might implicitly rely on the good faith of Her Majesty's Government in the transaction.”
Williams read and explained the treaty clause by clause. It guaranteed to chiefs, tribes, and “to the respective individuals and families thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands, and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same.”1 Williams said that the missionaries fully approved of the treaty, and that it was an act of love towards the Maoris on the part of the Queen, who desired to secure to them their property, rights, and privileges.
The chiefs were invited to speak. Twenty or thirty spoke, “five or six of whom opposed me (Hobson) with great violence.… At this crisis the Hokianga chiefs under Nene and Patuone made their appearance, and nothing could have been more seasonable. It was evident that some underhand influence had been at work. The chiefs Revewah and Jakahra, who are followers of the Roman Catholic bishop, were the principal opposers, and the arguments were such as convinced me they had been prompted.”Revewah said (pointing to Hobson): “Send the man away. Do not sign the paper: if you do you will be reduced to slavery and be compelled to break stones for the roads. Your land will be taken from you, and your dignity as chiefs will be destroyed.”
1 “Ki nga Rangatira, ki nga hapu, ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani, te tino Rangatiratanga o o ratou whenua, o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa.”When casuists afterwards strove to qualify the terms accorded to the Maoris, the words “tino rangatiratanga”foiled them. “Tino”is an intense expression of fulness, comprehension, and precision, and “rangatiratanga”included all rights of chieftainship.
It was not unnatural for the French bishop to contend against recognition of British sovereignty in a land where many Frenchmen desired to hoist their own flag. But Pompallier, a recent visitor, could not cope with the influence of Williams, who had laboured without ceasing for nearly eighteen years, and spoke to old friends. Neither could the authority of Revewah vie with that of Nene, great of yore in the field of battle, and always sage in council.
The real difficulty was a certain amount of misgiving—whether the good faith of the English in treaties could be trusted. The character of the missionaries overcame that difficulty. On the 6th February, the chiefs told Williams they had made up their minds to accept the treaty, and would sign it without further delay, and return to their homes. Hobson accordingly landed. Pompallier asked him if he would announce that Roman Catholic converts would be protected; and Williams, at Hobson's desire, read a statement that all Maoris, those of the Mission, and the Wesleyans, and the Roman Catholics, and those retaining their Maori practices, would be protected. Forty-six leading chiefs1 signed it (Hobson wrote) “in presence of at least five hundred of inferior degree.”Thus, and on such terms, was the sovereignty of the Queen declared.
1 Waka Nene wrote his own name. Some chiefs made a Maori mark such as was used in tattooing. Others made a mark such as is used by Englishmen unable to write.
“1. The chiefs of the confederation of the united tribes of New Zealand, and the separate and independent chiefs who have not become members of the confederation, cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England, absolutely and without reservation, all the rights and powers of sovereignty which the said confederation or independent chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or possess, over their respective territories, as the sole sovereigns thereof.
“2. Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession: But the chiefs of the united tribes and the individual chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of pre-emption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate, at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.
“3. In consideration thereof, Her Majesty the Queen of page 218 England extends to the natives of New Zealand her Royal protection, and imparts to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.”
This short treaty was duly signed by Hobson, and by the assembled chiefs, and attested as “Done at Waitangi this 6th day of February, in the year of our Lord, 1840;”with the following addition:-“Now, therefore, we, the chiefs of the confederation of the united tribes of New Zealand, being assembled in congress at Victoria in Waitangi, and we, the separate and independent chiefs of New Zealand, claiming authority over the tribes and territories which are specified after our respective names, having been made fully to understand the provisions of the foregoing treaty, accept and enter into the same in the full spirit and meaning thereof, in witness of which we have attached our signatures or marks at the places and the dates respectively specified.”
Of the forty-six who signed the treaty at first, twenty-six had signed the declaration of independence in 1835. In both cases they had been stirred by desire to keep the French from their land and to obtain English protection. In both they had the sympathy of their English resident friends.
Hobson abstained from making presents till the treaty was signed, and then “distributed a few articles of trifling value.”
A fac-simile of the treaty and signatures was published by the New Zealand Government in 1877. The names of the signers are set forth in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Legislative Council of 1869, with those obtained subsequently. On the 13th, at Hokianga, thirty-four signed, although Pakeha Maoris (including Mr. Maning) endeavoured to dissuade them. The Wesleyan missionaries cordially assisted Hobson, and interpreted his “solemn assurance that truth and justice would always characterize”the Government. On the 1st March, Hobson was struck by paralysis. The task of obtaining signatures was subsequently delegated to Lieut. Shortland, to Captain Nias, H.M.S. ‘Herald,’ Major Bunbury, and the Revs. H. Williams, W. Williams, and R. Maunsell.
On the 4th March, at Waitemata, on the 28th April, at Kaitaia, where the great chief Nopera was friendly, and at various dates extending to June, 1840, signatures were obtained page 219 from chiefs of the Thames River, of Kororarika, of Coromandel, Akaroa, Otago, Cloudy Bay, Kapiti (where Rauparaha and Rangihaeata signed), Hawke Bay, Manukau, Kawhia, Waikato Heads, Opotiki, Whakatane, Rangitoto, Wellington, Waikanae, Wanganui, Tauranga, and Turanga. Many hundreds of signatures were obtained and witnessed by officers of the army and navy, by merchants, clerks, and by missionaries. From Kapiti to Wanganui the signatures were witnessed by the Rev. Octavius Hadfield. At Turanga the name of the future Bishop of Waiapu, W. Williams, appeared.
Colonel Wakefield, already jealous of Mr. Williams on account of the visit paid by Hadfield and Williams in 1839 to Port Nicholson, at first resented the introduction of the treaty at the settlement which he had founded, and hoped to govern without interference. Mr. Williams wrote: “Colonel Wakefield, the first time I met him was very insolent, but afterwards retracted what he had said, and withdrew his objection to the treaty being signed. It was accordingly signed by the chiefs, about twenty.”Captain Hobson specially authorized H. Williams “to treat with the principal native chiefs in the southern part of these islands for their adherence to the treaty executed at Waitangi on the 6th February, 1840. I have the honour to enclose a copy of the treaty which I have signed, and to request that you will obtain the signatures thereto of such high chiefs as may be willing to accede to its conditions.”When, at a later date, Hobson felt justified in proclaiming the Queen's authority over the islands, he sent a formal acknowledgment to the Secretary of the Church Mission Local Committee for “the very zealous and effective assistance”rendered to him in his proceedings. He afterwards declared to the Legislative Council (1841) that but for the aid of the missionaries “a British colony would not at this moment be established in New Zealand.”Henry Williams had but to raise his finger and his “mana”would have weighed more with the Maoris than the devices of Colonel Wakefield or the office of Hobson. Busby also received Hobson's warm thanks for his exertions in obtaining the “ready adherence”of the chiefs to the treaty. Sir George Gipps promptly congratulated Hobson on the success of his negotiations. In March, 1840, he sent him a page 220 military force, consisting of a field officer, a captain, two subalterns, four serjeants, and eighty rank and file. He sent him two police magistrates, one of whom, having officiated as Clerk of Petty Sessions, was recommended as conversant with criminal law. Hobson had dispensed with the presence of Captain Nias of the ‘Herald,’ on account of personal differences; but Gipps sent him back because naval co-operation was “essential in the enterprise”at New Zealand, and the Queen's sovereignty was “established only over a small portion of the Northern Island.”
Hobson, infirm in health, on the 1st March, 1840, sustained a shock of paralysis while visiting, in the ‘Herald,’ the Waitemata and Tamaki (represented to him by Henry Williams as fitter for the seat of government than any part of the Bay of Islands, and eventually selected by Hobson as the seat of government at Auckland).
The energetic Gipps, always unsparing of himself, condoled with Hobson, but hoped that “negotiations with the chiefs would not be interrupted”by the illness. “The necessity for an immediate visit to Port Nicholson and the northern parts of the Central Island appears to me most urgent”(2nd April).
On 3rd April he wrote: “Whatever advantages the settlers at Port Nicholson may have gained by being left so long undisturbed in their negotiations with the chiefs for the purchase of land will, I hope, be overcome by the necessity which, sooner or later, they will be under of submitting to such terms as the Government may dictate, but in respect to the extension of the Queen's authority over the Central Island, prompt measures appear to me very urgently required, and indeed (though I leave this point entirely to your own decision) I am disposed to think that the assertion of the Queen's sovereignty by virtue of the right of discovery would perhaps be the most advisable course of proceeding which could be adopted.”He regretted that he had sought in vain for a qualified Colonial Secretary for New Zealand. As to legal advice, he grimly said: “I am informed by the Attorney-General that—–(one of the magistrates previously spoken of) has a very competent knowledge of the law, and though he cannot stand to you in the position of a responsible adviser, I am much disposed to doubt whether a page 221 functionary of that description would not be more likely to embarrass than to aid you.”Unconscious of the master-gaze of Gipps, and his sufficiency of ability and will to control the settlers, Colonel Wakefield meanwhile was not content with making worthless negotiations with Maoris. He endeavoured to set up an independent polity, although he knew that Hobson's commission extended to Port Nicholson. On the 1st May, 1839, the company1 had solemnly assured Lord Normanby that it “does not, nor has even imagined the possibility of establishing a system of government in New Zealand either independently of the British Crown or in any other way.”Colonel Wakefield acted as if no such assurance had been given. The first settlement, which he called Britannia, he had made at Petone at the entrance of the valley of the Hutt.
The gifts and the authority of E Puni gave him undisturbed possession there. But the place was found unsuitable. The surf made it difficult to land. In March, 1840, it was resolved to transfer the settlement to Te Aro, where stood a native pah, and where the natives protested against intrusion. To disparage them Colonel Wakefield called them slaves, and their pah a slave-pah. He was equally overbearing towards Wesleyan missionaries. Their committee complained (June, 1840) in London that he had taken possession of the site previously selected by their missionaries at Port Nicholson.
The company, grateful to the Duke of Wellington for his support of Gibbon Wakefield's colonizing views when South Australia was founded, called the new settlement ‘Wellington.”
1 Mr. Hutt to Mr. Labouchere.
Bunbury obeyed, and after chiefs had signed the treaty on page 223 the 17th June, 1840, under a salute of twenty-one guns from the ‘Herald,’ the English flag was hoisted at a pah at Cloudy Bay, and possession of the Middle Island, on the ground of “having been ceded in sovereignty,”was taken and “formally proclaimed.”1 Stewart's Island was taken possession of on the 5th of June, “by right of discovery,”because Bunbury did not there “meet with natives.”
While feverishly waiting for the reports of Bunbury, and of the brothers Williams, Hobson was consoled by the success of Shortland, his Colonial Secretary, at Kaitaia, where many chiefs signed the treaty in April, under the advice of Nopera Panakareao, a great Rarawa chief, whom Hobson described as a “superior person, full of intelligence, of a most independent and liberal spirit, and possessing unbounded influence in the district.”
Nopera said: “Hearken, all of you, Pakeha and Maori. My desire is that we should be all of one heart. Speak your words openly. Speak as you mean to act. Do not say one thing and mean another. I am at your head. I wish you all to accept the Governor. We are saved by this… What wrong has the Governor done? The shadow of the land goes to the Queen, but the substance remains with us. We will go to the Governor and obtain payment for our lands as before… Do not, like the chiefs at Hokianga, wish to kill the Governor. Live peaceably with the Pakeha. We have now a helmsman. Formerly one said, ‘Let me steer,’ and we never went straight.… What man of sense would believe that the Governor would take our possessions and only pay to us half their value? If you have anything else to say, say it; but if not, finish, and let all of you say ‘yes, yes.’ “
1 Bunbury's proceedings were “attested”by sixteen persons belonging to the ‘Herald,’ and by one belonging to H.M.S. ‘Beagle.’ Their signatures were “witnessed”by Joseph Nias, Captain H.M.S. ‘Herald’; Thomas Bunbury, Major 80th Regiment, “charged with a diplomatic mission;”and Edward Marsh Williams, interpreter. Some persons having (perhaps in ignorance) asserted that the treaty of Waitangi could not apply to the Middle Island, I have thought it right to record the truth.
2 Hobson to Gipps, 5th May, 1840.
When it is borne in mind that there was a considerable population of low Europeans both at Hokianga and at Kororarika, the significance of Nopera's words and the critical position of Hobson will be understood. Nevertheless, though stricken with sore disease, and endowed with little ability, a resolution to do his duty and the moral strength of the strongminded Gipps supported him. He had heard of the signing of the treaty at Wellington and other portions of the Northern Island, and waited only for Bunbury's report to assert the Queen's general sovereignty. But Gipps had authorized a Proclamation of Sovereignty over the Middle Island, on the plea of discovery, if necessary. Within an hour of hearing of President Wakefield, his council and his magistrates, Hobson proclaimed, on the 21st May, 1840, the Queen's sovereignty over the Northern Island on the ground of cession by “the chiefs of the confederation of the united tribes, and the separate and independent chiefs.”By a separate Proclamation on the same day he asserted the sovereign rights of the Queen over all the Islands of New Zealand, averring that he had “it in command”so to do. He explained to the Secretary of State that in thus acting he “yielded to the emergency of the case arising out of the events at Port Nicholson, and was supported by the advice of Sir George Gipps, previously given. According to my opinion, unaided by legal advice, the proceedings of the Association at Port Nicholson amount to high treason. They have usurped the power of Her Majesty in establishing a constitution, and in appointing magistrates.”They had levied taxes, and “unjust as well as illegal magisterial authority”had been exercised.
Hobson would not “take immediate cognizance of those acts,” page 225 but sent Shortland to publish the Proclamations in Wellington, “and at once to displace all persons holding office under the authority of the usurped government,”and to “restore to all persons the possession of property of which they were in possession when the emigrants arrived, and from which they had been forcibly ejected by persons calling themselves magistrates.”He gave Shortland a Proclamation, dated 23rd May, at Russell,1 Bay of Islands. It declared the Association at Port Nicholson illegal and usurping, commanded all persons to withdraw from it, and called upon all persons there or elsewhere under his government, upon their allegiance to submit to and to aid “the proper authorities in New Zealand.”
1 Lord John Russell, in honour of whom the provisional capital was named, communicated (10th November) to Hobson the “entire approbation”of the Government of all these proceedings, and promised to send him a commission as first Governor of New Zealand, about to be constituted a separate Government.
While Shortland was on the spot there was (26th August) a disturbance between armed settlers and the Maoris. He forth-with issued a notice forbidding all persons to assemble with arms, and he entered into an agreement with the Maoris, whom he described as unarmed and well-behaved, and who assigned their interests to the Crown to be afterwards dealt with. He warned Wakefield that he would permit no person to take possession until the case had been investigated. Wakefield accepted his intervention thankfully. Shortland reported that the Te Aro natives stoutly maintained that they had not sold their land, and that when he asked E Puni whether he had professed to sell it in September, 1839, the chief replied, “Yes: how could I help it when so many muskets and blankets were put before me?”
On the whole it was becoming oppressively plain that Wakefield's vaunted deeds of conveyance were almost worthless, and that while Sir George Gipps exercised authority it would be difficult to impose upon them a value to which they were not entitled. Hobson transmitted to England a report from Shortland that the chiefs “did not recognize the titles”set up at their head-quarters by the company.
Confident in the potency of Lord Durham and the great names of the directors of the company, Colonel Wakefield applied to England, where it was hoped that the political exigencies of a tottering Ministry might make Lord John Russell more pliable than the man greater than he who ruled in Sydney. One method resorted to was to vituperate Hobson. Having inspected Waitemata in February, 1840, and obtained reports as to its position; its means of communication with the sea, eastward and westward respectively, through the page 227 Manukau harbour, and the Hauraki Gulf; its soil, and other advantages; Hobson made arrangements to buy a site for his capital. The church missionaries consented to forego their claims to the services of one of their body, Mr. George Clarke (catechist), in order that he might act as Chief Protector of the Aborigines;1 and he was deputed to purchase the land required. In September, 1840, the British flag was hoisted at the new settlement, which Hobson called Auckland. He had already purchased 30,000 acres there, and was in treaty for more. He removed the Government establishments thither early in 1841. In June, 1842, the Secretary of State announced that Her Majesty had approved Hobson's selection. The company never forgot nor forgave his failure to appreciate the claim of Wellington to be the seat of government. Hobson's statement, that the title of the company at Port Nicholson was disputed by the natives, Mr. Somes had the audacity to declare untrue. “We have not heard of a single instance, though accounts have reached us of strenuous efforts made by one of the church missionaries to cause such disputes.”
1 Hobson to Gipps, 21st April, 1840.
Such were the transactions which the company called upon the majesty of England to sanction.
Young Wakefield sent a narrative to England, and the company told Lord John Russell that they could entirely rely upon his veracity. They quoted only a part of the account; but the wildness of their claim may be seen at a glance. It included the coast from Manawatu to Patea, and extended inland to Tongariro, where in those days Te Heu Heu would speedily have quenched the company's claims if they had been asserted. The purchase made by Williams at Port Nicholson was denounced by Colonel Wakefield to the company in terms which recoiled upon his own head in the estimation of all who knew the two men. He railed at “his selfish views, his hypocrisy, and unblushing rapaciousness.”William Williams had sent a petition to the Queen against purchases pretended to have been made at Hawke Bay by a private trader. The company confounded one Williams with the other in mixed abuse. The purchase at Wellington was made by Henry Williams from Reihana, who was the first missionary there, and who was about to migrate to Taranaki. Reihana had refused to join in the presumed sale to Wakefield by E Puni and Warepori. Williams bought the land for the Church Missionary Society. The local committee at the Bay of Islands declined to take it, lest it should bring them into collision with the company. It remained meanwhile free for occupation by Reihana. When H. Williams went to Wellington in April, 1840, to procure signatures to the treaty of Waitangi, at Hobson's request, and heard from Dr. Evans that reserves for the natives were a part of the company's plans, he told him that under such circumstances he did not desire to retain the land bought from Reihana. At one interview Colonel Wakefield used such coarse language that Williams declined to enter upon the subject; and, meeting Dr. Evans afterwards, was informed that he as a lawyer was retained to resist Reihana's claims on the ground that he was a slave. Williams replied that he was well page 229 acquainted with Maori usage, and that Reihana's claim was valid. Another person was sent to ask Williams, but in vain, if he would abandon his claim on receipt of a sum of money. The hand of Gipps was at that time felt, and Wakefield thought fit to make an ample apology, and offered to make it public. Williams was content, and told Wakefield that the reserves for natives having been made, he would present the land to the company, retaining one acre for Reihana and another for himself, as an acknowledgment of title. Reihana afterwards lived upon his land. The acre kept by Williams was sold for Church purposes, and the proceeds formed part of the endowment fund of Trinity Church, Pakaraka, near the Bay of Islands. The sad truth must be told that the reserves for natives which formed the consideration for which Williams handed over to the company about fifty acres in the town of Wellington were not respected. The Government, in later times, sold them on the plea that they were not legally secured, and that having “done so much for the natives,”it was reasonable that it should be reimbursed “from the lands originally set apart for reserves for the benefit of the natives.”If these words were not to be found in a State document (1848), strangers to New Zealand might think they were intended for satire.
As the petition of the Rev. William Williams has been referred to, it is proper to advert to his proceedings. With his family he had taken up his abode at Poverty Bay in January, 1840. In February he petitioned the Queen to prevent the inhumanity and injustice which traders were endeavouring to inflict by pretended purchases of Maori lands. In May, 1840, having procured signatures of chiefs to the Waitangi treaty, he reported for Hobson's information further details with regard to the matter of his petition. He sent an account of “a most nefarious transaction which took place in January last, being an attempt on the part of Captain Rhodes, of the barque ‘Eleanor,’ from Sydney, to dupe the natives out of a tract of land extending from Port Nicholson to the north side of Ahuriri in Hawke Bay, and again from the north bank of the river Wairoa to the north of Table Cape.”For one hundred and sixty miles of coast, with undefined limits in the interior, Rhodes pretended to have procured a title by distributing property valued at £160.page 230
Williams hoped that the transaction would be set aside,1 and was prepared to prove that much of the land was claimed under signatures of Maoris who had no interest in it; that those who signed the deed did not know its contents; that some of those who had signed, on learning the nature of the deed, refused to receive payment; that the so-called purchase was made on board of the ‘Eleanor;’ and that “the most numerous body of the proprietors were not consulted, and expressed their most decided disapprobation.”The whole transaction may be taken as a specimen of the bargains by which, in emulation of the New Zealand Company, speculators and agents from Sydney grasped at the lands of the Maori. All these vicious transactions Gipps felt it his duty to check. On the 6th May, 1840, he told Hobson that he had settled the terms of a bill for regulating titles to land in New Zealand. The first clause would “declare all purchases or pretended purchases from the natives to be null and void.”He narrated fully the contemplated provisions, which were, in the main, eventually comprised in the Act 4 Viet. No. 7, passed on the 4th August, 1840, in Sydney. Its preamble may best describe it:
1 Though W. Williams called Rhodes “the master of a trading-vessel on the coast,”Mr. Somes (29th March, 1841,) accused him of denouncing Colonel Wakefield under that title. The transaction was so like one of Wakefield's that Somes' mistake was not unnatural. He did not, nevertheless, make the necessary apology when the mistake was pointed out.
The passage of the bill was vehemently opposed by Busby the late Resident and other claimants. Amongst them was no less a man than William Charles Wentworth, whose legal and constitutional knowledge was highly regarded; but from a contest with whom Gipps did not shrink.
Early in 1840 seven Maori chiefs were in Sydney, and they were invited to sign at Government House a declaration of their willingness to accept the Queen as their sovereign. They attended and heard the necessary document read; each of them received ten sovereigns, and they were to return to the Governor in two days to sign the declaration. They did not return. To a message sent to them, one of their English hosts replied that they had been advised to sign no treaty which did not contain full security for the possession by the purchasers of all lands acquired from the natives. It transpired that William C. Wentworth had so advised. He himself claimed one hundred thousand acres in the Northern, and twenty millions of acres in the Middle Island. The seven chiefs who had not kept their page 232 appointment at Government House were the nominal sellers. They were to receive two hundred pounds a-year for life.
Wentworth and others prayed to be heard against the bill. Mr. Busby, the late resident, was a claimant for fifty thousand acres and for the site of a township at the Bay of Islands.
Two days were spent in hearing the petitioners at the Legislative Council. Sir George Gipps replied to their arguments, forcibly devoting himself to those of Wentworth. He cited Kent, Story, and Marshall, to show that the English doctrine of acquisition of territory by the Crown was received as law in the United States. He quoted opinions given in England in 1836 to the effect that Batman and his associates were incompetent to acquire territory, except through the Crown, at Port Phillip. He adduced the abortive attempt of the New Zealand Company to form a legal community at Port Nicholson without sanction of the Crown. He could not satisfactorily deal with the point taken by Wentworth that the English Government had recognized the sovereignty and independence of New Zealand; but when a Government changes its opinions on such a point no logical defence can be made for it. His speech is enshrined in the Parliamentary Papers of the House of Commons (1841, first session), with a congratulatory despatch upon it from Lord John Russell. Mr. Wentworth's has not been so preserved, but the heads of it are in the proceedings of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. Gipps passed his measure. Wentworth threw up his commission as a magistrate, and Gipps withdrew a recommendation he had made in 1839, that Wentworth should be offered a seat in the Legislative Council. Thenceforth there was war to the knife between the two.
The English Government meanwhile having determined to make New Zealand a separate colony, Gipps was informed that his Act would be consequently disallowed, with a view to legislation in New Zealand, and that a Commissioner would be sent from England to investigate the claims to land. Hobson re-enacted the measure, 9th June, 1841, with few changes; but the ingenuity of speculators may be read in one of them. The new preamble proscribed “leases or pretended leases, agreements, or other titles, either mediately or page 233 immediately, from the chiefs or other individuals or individual of the aboriginal tribes.”(On the 6th March, 1841, Gipps himself had urged Hobson to “declare that Her Majesty's Government will not suffer so manifest an invasion of the Act of Council as the practice of taking leases from the natives would, if recognized, establish.”) All transactions “which are not or may not hereafter be allowed by Her Majesty, her heirs and successors, are and the same shall be absolutely null and void.”
Lest it should be thought that the British Government failed in any manner to approve of the action of Gipps and of Hobson in making the treaty of Waitangi and in dealing with Maori lands, it will be proper to quote some State papers. Lord Normanby's instructions have been cited already. Lord John Russell wrote to Gipps (17th July, 1840): “Her Majesty's Government entirely approve of the measures which you adopted, and the manner in which they were carried into effect by Captain Hobson.”When Royal instructions were sent to Hobson as Governor they declared the Queen's will that he should”especially take care”to protect the natives “in their persons, and in the free enjoyment of their possessions, and that you do by all lawful means prevent and restrain all violence and injustice which may in any manner be practised or attempted against them.”
Adverting to these instructions, Lord John Russell wrote (28 Jan., 1841): “Her Majesty in the royal instructions under the sign manual has distinctly established the general principle that the territorial rights of the natives as owners of the soil must be recognized and respected.”To make the assurance greater he added that lands pointed out by the Protector “as essential to the well-being of the natives should be regarded as inalienable even in favour of the local government.”
It has been mentioned that a shoal of speculators gathered like harpies on the coast of New Zealand to emulate the career of the company. Soon after Hobson's arrival he wrote: “The passion for land-jobbing now pervades every class, and all other considerations appear to be absorbed in that one object. Tracts of country in some cases of five hundred square miles are claimed by single individuals.… The Proclamation issued by page 234 your lordship's order has had the effect of stopping this traffic, but extensive mischief has been done before its promulgation.… I greatly fear that the conflicting claims will create a violent ferment through every class of society both native and European.”He was “not yet sufficiently informed of all the intricacies of the question”of native land titles, but would “sift it”and report to the Secretary of State and impress his views on the Land Commissioners. Hobson had reason to be startled at the audacity of the claims put forward. Irrespectively of the New Zealand Company's fraudulent claims, millions of acres in the North Island were alleged to have been purchased. In the Middle Island more acres were asserted to have been bought than it contained. Setting aside Wentworth's claim, more than nineteen millions of acres were demanded. Many claimed the same land. One man, residing at Sydney, claimed the whole of Stewart Island, for an alleged payment of one hundred pounds. In some instances the claimants were content to claim without alleging any precise payment. Their reticence could hardly have arisen from shame, for one man claimed five and a half millions of acres at Akaroa for an alleged payment of sixty pounds. He also was a Sydney resident. It is almost needless to say that many claims overlapped one another. Two men of the same surname claimed several millions of acres at Bank's Peninsula, the Bluff, the Molyneux, and other points on the coast, but never appeared to support their claims before the Commissioner. Greedy as were the Maoris for the arms on which existence depended, the lust for land, bought with a few muskets and iron weapons, made the white man equally avaricious, and it was well that the vigorous hand of Governor Gipps was near to stay the plague which would have spread over the land if vicious titles had been even provisionally acknowledged, and had led to an armed combination of the tribes to resist extortion. With complicated tribal titles, over which the sovereignty or ‘mana’ of chiefs was exercised in a manner uncomprehended by the land-jobbers, it was as certain as any mathematical definition that the bargains asserted by the European would never be acknowledged by the Maori, but that he would die to resist them. By limiting every claim, and by appointing page 235 Commissioners to examine, Sir George Gipps would, but for the foolish interposition of Lord John Russell, have adjusted difficulties on a reasonable basis. He saw the risk of quarrel between the two races. Bargains perverted, deeds misrepresented or misunderstood, could lead to no other result. Firearms tempted the eyes, large promises plied the ears of the Maori. The lust of war meanwhile was in his own mind. The teeth of the serpent were everywhere sown: the children of the soil were to wage fratricidal war, and too late to discover that their own disunion was to subject them to the yoke of the invader.
But the settlers at Port Nicholson were appalled at the prospect of a strict examination of their titles, and a reasonable limitation of their claims. Mr. E. J. Wakefield (in the book already quoted) confessed that the “panic which seized the colonists”could hardly be conceived.
Colonel Wakefield was absent when the disastrous tidings arrived. He had gone to pacify Captain Hobson, and to ask him to move the seat of government to Port Nicholson. “Various were the projects suggested by the panic-struck adventurers, each according to his disposition.”Some hoped that Hobson might be made independent of Gipps. Some wished at once to return to England. Some would go to Chili. Some would remain to fight the battle. Colonel Wakefield's return reassured them. Captain Hobson had been friendly, but had declined to transfer the seat of government to Cook's Straits. At a public meeting thanks to the Lieutenant-Governor were voted; and Dr. Evans, Mr. Hanson, and Mr. Moreing were sent as a deputation to Sir George Gipps. Dr. G. S. Evans was a barrister, appointed as umpire to the settlement under the agreement which had been condemned as unlawful. If his honesty in adhering to a principle had been equal to his intelligence he might have made his mark in any colony. Mr. R. D. Hanson, a solicitor, had been sent from England as agent for the company for purchase of lands. His legal knowledge had not saved him from committing the blunder of going to the Chatham Islands and believing that he had secured them by purchase. He was engaged at Kawhia when the report of Sir George Gipps' proceedings arrested his own.page 236
The deputation did not succeed in inducing Sir George Gipps to recognize the claims of the company. But he gratified them by acknowledging individual claims of settlers, leaving to the Government the task of examining the accounts between the settlers and the company. He reserved the rights of the natives and of purchasers from them, as against the company, for the decision of the Commissioners under the Land Claims Act. He determined that the one hundred and ten thousand acres asked by the company must be taken in one continuous block, and that private claimants should be compensated by the company or by the body of the settlers, whom he advised to apply for a charter of incorporation for municipal purposes, inasmuch as the Government (having received no funds from sale of land at the spot) would erect no buildings except for judicial and fiscal needs. The arrangement was to be subject to approval by the British Government. Any recognition seemed better than none. The panic subsided; and at a public meeting on the 15th December, 1840, the residents voted unanimous and cordial thanks to Sir George Gipps for his “justice and liberality.”The settlers were content with the prospect of individual crown grants, and Colonel Wakefield thought it politic in a letter (26th February, 1841) to England to laud Sir George Gipps' decision. At the same time Colonel Wakefield and the Directory in London brought counteracting influences to bear upon the Colonial Office, and the beneficial results of the decision were to be thwarted by the interference of Lord John Russell.
There was one act for which Hobson received unqualified praise from Gipps and all colonists. One Langlois, the master of a French whaler, had, in 1838, arranged with certain chiefs for the purchase of “all Bank's Peninsula, with the exception of the Bay of Hikuraki and Oihoa.”The instalment to be paid at once was one hundred and fifty francs, or their value in old clothes. Langlois was to pay afterwards in guns, sabres, gunpowder, clothes, wine, a tambour, and other articles creditable to his ingenuity if useless to the Maoris. He returned in August, 1840, in the ‘Comte de Paris’ (whaler), with fifty-seven settlers, leaving others to follow. His wares were valued at more than £200, and then only was a formal document signed page 237 by a few Maoris. But in January, 1840, Gipps had proclaimed the invalidity of such transactions; Hobson had asserted the Queen's sovereignty; and many Maoris at Akaroa impugned Langlois' presumed purchase. Tuhaiwaki, the principal chief, laughed it to scorn.
1 A brother of the Dean of Westminster, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley.
Hobson gave Stanley a copy of Major Bunbury's certificate that the natives had formally ceded the sovereignty of the Southern Islands when they signed the treaty of Waitangi, and called his attention to the Proclamation of sovereignty on the 21st May. “On the subject of this communication I have to request the most inviolable secrecy from all except your superior officers, to whom it may be necessary to report your proceedings. The ostensible purpose of your cruise may appear to be the conveyance of two magistrates to Port Nicholson… the real object… is to defeat the movements of any foreign ship of war that may be engaged in establishing a settlement on any part of the coast of New Zealand.”
1 The words of the vivacious De Thierry must be accepted with caution. He was angry with Lavaud for not “by the strong voice of authority”prevailing on the natives at Hokianga “to give me back my own”(i.e. the land he erroneously claimed). “The whites upon my property should now be taught that they were more criminal in buying what they well knew was already mine than the natives were in selling.”Lavaud prudently declined the complicated task put before him, but humanely offered to take De Thierry to France as “l'hôte de la nation.”De Thierry's family preferred to remain, if he would do so. Finding Lavaud unwilling to interfere at Hokianga, the Baron was annoyed at such neglect of a Frenchman's claims on “la grande nation.”Lavaud courteously told him that by the Code Napoleon he had no claims. He had not been drawn for conscription—the only test. The Baron asked for commendatory letters to French ships, and Lavaud politely gave them. Though he accepted them, De Thierry wrote sadly, that Lavaud had not accorded to him the “protection toute speciale”to which he was entitled.
The ‘Britomart’ encountered stormy weather. A stern-boat was washed away, another boat was destroyed; but, in spite of all obstacles, Stanley brought his vessel to anchor at Akaroa on the 10th August. Captain Lavaud, arriving later, was detained two or three days off the point. When, on the 15th, the ill-named L'Aube anchored, the sun had for four days been shining on the English flag on shore.1
The French immigrants, under Langlois in the ‘Comte de Paris,’ had not arrived. On the following day they appeared. Lavaud agreed that his countrymen should land in an unoccupied part of the bay, and that until fresh instructions should be obtained from the English and French Governments, the Frenchmen should only build shelter-houses and make gardens.
1 Subsequent inquiry showed that Langlois, on behalf of the French Government and the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, endeavoured to forestall Captain Stanley by other means, as well as by the voyage of ‘L'Aube.’ Langlois was at Pigeon Bay (on the north coast of the peninsula) before the ‘Britomart’ anchored at Akaroa on the south, and procured Maori signatures to a deed conveying enormous tracts of land across the island, but the Maoris averred that they never received any consideration. One of the principal chiefs in the island maintained that he had claims over the whole peninsula, had sold nothing, and signed no deed. Langlois, nevertheless, obtained more signatures at Akaroa, although he found the ‘Britomart’ there, and was aware of Hobson's Proclamation of the Queen's sovereignty. The land which the Maoris admitted that they contracted to sell at Akaroa, in 1838, was about four hundred acres. (Report of Land Commissioners, 21st October, 1843.)
The English commander, finding that the French whaler had “six long twenty-four pounders”on board, protested against their being landed with the French settlers. Captain Lavaud professed surprise at the fact that the guns had been sent out, and assured Captain Stanley that they should not be landed. Politeness reigned at the peninsula. The English resident magistrate became a guest on board of the French frigate until he could provide himself with shelter on shore. Captain Stanley sailed away and left the French to their own devices.
Mr. Robinson the magistrate became a diplomatist. He agreed to assist in maintaining the authority of the French over their people “until some definite arrangements could be made between the respective Governments respecting the various conflicting claims to the lands in Bank's Peninsula,”and Lavaud undertook to help Robinson in maintaining order, but did not wish the English flag to be hoisted over his countrymen in the meantime. This arrangement was sanctioned by Hobson and was approved in England.1 The final decision as to the manner in which the French Company were required to prove their claims at Akaroa was communicated by Lord Stanley (20th August, 1842). They were to be dealt with “on the same principle as if they had been a British Company,”and were invited “as a preliminary step to prove the extent of their claims, with an intimation that the claims when, proved to be just would be allowed in the Northern Island, and that no difficulties would be thrown in the way of their naturalization.”
1 The diplomacy of Lord Palmerston was called upon with regard to the French claims. He told the French chargé d'affaires in London (12th August, 1842), that the object of the Government was “to ascertain and confirm titles already acquired,”—that there might be some so extravagant and frivolous that it would be unjust to sanction them—that therefore a Commissioner had been appointed, and that Her Majesty's Government trusted that his “decisions would be such as to prevent any complaint on the part of the French settlers whom it would be the duty of the British Government to protect in their lawful possessions and useful occupations.”
Among the documents produced by the French Company in 1844, in support of their claims for compensation, was a compact between the Nanto-Bordelaise Company (to whom Langlois sold) and a Commission named on behalf of the French Government by Admiral Duperre, the Minister of Marine. The Commission was counter-signed by the Prime Minister Marshal Soult, and the Minister of Commerce, and was approved by the King of the French. It was notorious that Hobson was on his way to New Zealand, when, on the 11th December, 1839, a remarkable agreement between the French Company and the Commission was signed. It showed that the vessel, nominally Langlois', the ‘Comte de Paris,’ was put at the disposition of the Company “par le département de la Marine tout armée et approvisionée de rechanges pour un an… fonder et a occuper les premiers établissemens qui y (New Zealand) seront créés par la compagnie après qu'elle aura acquis les terrains sur lesquels elle s'établira.”At least, one vessel of war was to be always on the station to protect, and “pour la formation des établissemens.”For these favours the company “livrera a l'Etat le quart des terrains qu'elle pourra acquérir,”as well as sites for forts and public uses.
By the light of these documents2 one can understand why Langlois so hastily framed his deeds to convey millions of acres extending from the east to the west coast. One sees also that the bad faith displayed by Louis Philippe in continental affairs could conspire with so mean an instrument as Langlois, to delude the Maoris and deceive the English Government.3
1 Despatch from Hobson, 5th November, 1841.
2 Enclosed in a despatch, 7th July, 1845, from Lord Stanley to Governor Grey. They were bulky, and perhaps escaped the scrutiny which would have been bestowed upon them if it had been known that the claims of the French Company included proof of the long-suspected complicity of the French Government. The eventual transfer of the Nanto-Bordelaise claims to the New Zealand Company annihilated all interest in the subject regarded as a private land-claim; and there was no reason to suppose that the documents would throw light on the conduct of the French Government.
3 Colonel Godfrey pronounced Langlois' alleged contracts in 1840 utterly worthless. Langlois put in at Van Diemen's Land for repairs on his voyage, and was there informed of the Proclamations of Gipps and of Hobson, as well as of the treaty of Waitangi.
On the 20th February, 1840, another document was signed by the parties to the agreement of the 11th December. They constituted themselves “La Compagnie Française de la Nouvelle Zelande,”for the purpose of acquiring and colonizing lands there and prosecuting whale fishing in the adjacent seas. The name of Admiral du Petit Thouars appears among them as one of the links connecting the Government with the fortunes and schemes of this singular company. Their further operations were arrested in France when the Proclamation of the Queen's sovereignty by virtue of the treaty of Waitangi became known: but the French agent at Akaroa informed Governor Hobson in 1841 that “five hundred persons were on the point of embarkation, and were only prevented from proceeding to the colony”by her Majesty's Proclamation.
On the whole it is almost demonstrable that, if Gipps had not forced upon the honourable but palsied Hobson the prompt assertion of sovereignty in the Southern Islands, the enterprise of Langlois, with the aid of the French Ministry, might have had a different result; and, to use the expression of De Thierry, the French might not have “lost the port of Akaroa.”Gipps approved Hobson's proceedings, and commended to the Secretary of State the “firmness and discretion”with which Hobson had acted. The fate of the French settlement may be briefly told. The project, nipped in the bud by the dashing Stanley, withered into oblivion under slow official blight. The English Ambassador in Paris was moved to communicate with Lord Aberdeen (Foreign Secretary) in July, 1842. At that time Hobson wished to assign to the French settlers fifty thousand acres at Kaitaia in the “extreme northern district.”Lord Aberdeen (July, 1842), apprised the French Government of that fact, and added, that Her Majesty's Government “proposed to deal with the company connected with the French settlers on the same principle as if they had been a British Company, and to invite them as a preliminary step to prove their claims, which when proved to be just will be allowed in the Northern Island—no difficulties being thrown in the way of their naturalization.”When this despatch was laid before the Land Claim Commissioners, page 243 Colonel Godfrey and Major Richmond, they saw at once that the principles on which British claims were decided would bar the French from compensation, inasmuch as the pretended bargains were made long after Sir G. Gipps' Proclamation forbidding and making null the acquisition of land after the 14th January, 1840. Except as to a trifling area the French deeds were dated in August, 1840.
Calling attention to these facts the Commissioners merely reported the evidence taken. Sending their report to England, the acting Governor (Shortland) remarked that Akaroa was one of the most important harbours and stations in New Zealand.
1 Colonel Godfrey was in England, and was consulted by Lord Stanley. He pointed out the worthlessness of a pretended deed conveying to Langlois all the land from sea to sea, between Lat. 42·20 and 44·45. It would have comprised nearly all Canterbury, all Westland, with portions of Nelson and Marlborough. It was signed by a few Maoris at Pigeon Bay on the 12th August, 1840, months after the Proclamation of the Queen's sovereignty, (well-known to Langlois,) and two days after Captain Stanley had occupied the peninsula by Hobson's directions. The consideration was as insignificant as in other New Zealand contracts, and the owners of the territory had heard nothing of the deed, and would have received no consideration.
2 The fourth part of land which the French Company was to cede to the French Government dropped out of sight. The company did not recoup their Government for the outlay on the ‘Comte de Paris.’ Maillieres put forward claims on that account in London, but the Emigration Commissioners deemed them untenable.
Finally (4th July, 1849), before the selection was made, the official liquidateur of the French Company, M. Raillard, conveyed their entire property and interests in New Zealand to the New Zealand Company for the sum of £4,500. The sale was a relief to the New Zealand Government, which was at the time negotiating for the “Port Cooper and Port Levy blocks”with the Maoris, and the undetermined French claim was inconvenient. Among the arguments used by Tikao—in asking remuneration—was that he risked “the anger of the French Government by acknowledging the supremacy of the English.”It is fair to add that Tikao insisted on and obtained a guarantee that the grave of a child at Pigeon Bay should be undisturbed until there be formed a cemetery, to which, unless it might comprise the grave, the remains were to be removed.page 245
When the French settlers, chiefly carpenters, gardeners, stonemasons, and labourers, were left at Akaroa they planted orchards to remind them of “la belle France,”but they made no homes. M. Beligny (a botanist and mineralogist) remained to superintend the settlement, but it did not prosper.
Eventually most of the settlers were removed to the French Marquesas. Over those Frenchmen who remained at Akaroa their Government long kept up surveillance. The senior French naval officer on the station acted as Commissaire du Roi. A farm and garden were at his disposal. A servant handed the keys of his dwelling to each new Commissaire on his arrival.
While the position of the French at Akaroa was in suspense, Lord Stanley watched narrowly the movements of their countrymen. In 1842, a frigate, ‘La Reine Blanche,’ touched at Brazil with three hundred troops on board, supposed to be destined for New Zealand. Two corvettes joined her. The Ambassador at Paris was put in motion, and M. Guizot assured him that no expedition to New Zealand was contemplated. “All that we desire is that the rights and properties of the French residing there should be acknowledged and respected by the British authorities.”It was true that the corvettes had sailed to relieve the officer on the French station there. Two months afterwards the Ambassador was again assured by the Minister of Marine (on the honour of the head of the “division des Colonies”), “que la frégate ‘La Reine Blanche’ n'a point sa destination à la Nouvelle Zelande; non plus que le but de coloniser dans la groupe de la Tasmanie… Seulement il a reçu l'ordre de venir partout et de toute manière dans ses voyages au secours des Français, et de donner au gouvernement des renseignemens certains et précis sur le commerce d'Australie et des différens isles;—commerce qui a pris un grand essor, surtout dans les dernières années. Il a de plus l'ordre d'examiner s'il n'y aurait pas dans l'Australie un lieu propre à la colonisation, et d'en avertir le gouvernement Français.”Fitting instructions were issued by Lord Stanley to the various Governors in the south.
When the American Consul saw Gipps' New Zealand Bill, he inquired (11 June, 1840), whether it was “expected that American citizens who may have acquired by purchase or other- page 246 wise lands or titles in New Zealand, shall submit their titles to the proposed Commission?”The Governor replied that he had sought instructions as “to the course to be pursued with reference to lands claimed by persons other than British subjects,”and he regretted that he could in the mean time give no more definite answer. When Gipps extended the laws of New South Wales to New Zealand, the Consul (Williams) again asked (22 June, 1840), whether the enactment was intended to “affect the commercial relations of the United States with New Zealand?”The Governor replied that it “was not intended to alter in any way the commercial relations between any part of the territory comprised between the limits of this Government and the United States, it being indeed incompetent for the legislature of any colony to pass laws affecting its relations with foreign powers. Sir G. Gipps deems it right, however, in making this communication, to add that New Zealand having been placed by Her Majesty under this Government, the trade between it and all foreign countries will be governed, he presumes, by the laws which regulate the general trade of the Empire, although he has as yet received no communications from Her Majesty's Government on the subject.”The Consul inferred that “all cases having reference to citizens of the United States residing at New Zealand or resorting thither for the purposes of trade, will remain upon the same footing as in former years,”and questions arising would be referred to England and America. The Governor coincided as to reference of disputes; but although he could “not pledge himself that the intercourse between citizens of the United States and the people of New Zealand shall remain exactly on the same footing as at present, he will endeavour (and especially with regard to the whale fishery and the curing of whale oil) to obviate any cause of complaint, so far as it may be in his power to do so.”The Governor told Lord John Russell (23 July, 1840), that the question might affect the Consul's countrymen as land claimants, whale fishers, and importers. There had hitherto been no customs duties or port-charges in New Zealand. He proposed to postpone inquiries as to titles of foreigners to land until he had disposed of claims of Her Majesty's subjects; to allow whale fishing to go on as before till the Queen's pleasure might be known; and to page 247 make payments by foreigners of customs duties commence on the 1st July, 1841.
Lord John Russell consulted Lord Palmerston. He thought the rules with regard to titles ought “to be relaxed in favour of any aliens possessing lands in New Zealand by virtue of valid titles acquired previous to the Proclamation of the Queen's sovereignty there.”Lord Palmerston deemed the proposal “liberal but just.”Though such claimants could not reasonably object to be called upon to prove their titles, “yet, as in the case of a conquered colony, it would not be just to apply retrospectively to aliens, who had become landowners before the islands formed part of the dominions of the British crown, the law which prevents aliens from acquiring landed property within those dominions.”
To have recognized all claims without inquiry would have been, however, to invite successful fraud. There was one citizen of the United States—a runaway from a whaling vessel and a Pakeha Maori trading in pigs, &c.—who might have asked for all the winding shores of the Hauraki Gulf.
The despatches of Sir George Gipps had warned the Government of the danger of such claims (designated by Lord Palmerston, in 1842, as too “extravagant and frivolous”to be allowed), and Hobson was instructed by Lord John Russell (17th March, 1841) that except in special cases (to be referred to England), “where aliens have acquired lands from chiefs prior to your Proclamation, and that fact is undisputed, the claims must be acknowledged; but where a doubt arises whether the alien made a bonâ fide purchase of the land, the settler must be treated as a British subject, and his claim disposed of accordingly.”The exorbitance of claims was the only safeguard against the abuse of the diversity of proofs permitted by Lord John Russell. Hobson was perplexed by the incongruity, and in March, 1842, sought more definite instructions, on the occasion of an application from a Belgian subject, who was scrupulous as to taking the oath of allegiance which Hobson thought necessary. Hobson, in the same month, pointed out that he had been directed in 1840 to cause Baron de Thierry's claims to be investigated in the same manner “as the claims of all other persons, British and foreign.”As these page 248 “conflicting directions”(both Lord John Russell's) left Hobson in doubt as to the mode in which foreign claims were to be dealt with, he asked for instructions, and craved pardon for suggesting “that foreigners are not deserving of exemption from regulations imposed on Her Majesty's subjects.”Lord Stanley told him (6th December, 1842), that “whenever it was doubted that the alien had made a bonâ fide purchase, the doubt must be solved by the same process of investigation that was settled for British subjects;”and that “besides requiring the oath of allegiance from an alien previously to his receiving a grant of land, an Act should be passed, naturalizing such alien.”As there could scarcely be a case in which the validity of the purchase by speculative adventurers in New Zealand was undoubted, Lord Stanley's attempt to reconcile his predecessor's contradictions afforded a modus decidendi, but it was unfair to Hobson to add that the Colonial Office could see “no discrepancy between the two instructions.”1 The strong hand of Governor Gipps was capable of maintaining order, but the demolition of his control by Lord J. Russell remitted New Zealand to the care of men less able to maintain the rights of the Crown without needless discussion of principles of international law. The question of custom duties elicited a petition from citizens of the United States, who complained to their countrymen of loss by reason of the high duty (which they declared illegal) on spirits. The United States Minister asked for compensation. Lord Stanley was informed that British subjects had equal ground of complaint, and that the Consul for the United States (a British subject) was a member “of the Legislative Council, and helped to pass the Act complained of.”The Custom House, moreover, had only demanded the bonding of, or the payment of duty on, the goods.
1 The discrepancy seems not to have been undoubted, for the denial of it was omitted in the extracts laid before the House of Commons.
On its being pointed out by Governor Fitzroy, in 1845, that the United States' Consul, and the consignee of the gunpowder, had, as well as the French bishop Pompallier, fomented troubles at the Bay of Islands, where some disreputable persons incited disturbances, Lord Stanley (15th October, 1845) was incisive in his instructions to the new Governor, Grey: “You will propose to the local legislature the enactment of a law authorizing the removal of aliens from New Zealand if any doubt should be entertained by your legal advisers as to the existence of that right without the aid of a positive law.”At the same time the Governor was to “observe the utmost caution and circumspection in the exercise of such a power.”
It seemed convenient to class together the correspondence concerning foreign claims and the conduct of foreigners, but it is necessary now to recur to Governor Hobson's general proceedings in 1840.
When presenting the address from the company's settlers Colonel Wakefield had made so favourable an impression on Hobson that the latter asked Gipps to send magisterial commissions for Wakefield and two other persons. One of them Gipps immediately appointed, but added (11th June, 1840), “until I have an official report of an entire submission to the authority of Her Majesty by the settlers at Port Nicholson I can scarcely feel myself authorized to place any persons connected with that settlement in the commission of the peace. This of course will not prevent your sending to Port Nicholson any magistrate unconnected with the settlement or with the company under whose direction the settlement has been formed.”With regard to another matter at the same time, Gipps arrested Hobson in an error for which Lord Stanley subsequently condemned him. The impressible Hobson had made a preliminary arrangement to purchase from a Mr. Clendon, by granting thirty times its area elsewhere, a piece of land for a township on the Kawa Kawa river at the Bay of Islands, and by paying to Clendon a considerable rent for a term. Gipps pointed out that Clendon could have no title; that the bill in preparation would prevent the Land Claim Commissioners from page 250 recognizing claims to sites suitable for towns; and that Gipps was constrained to “decline to become a party to any engage-which would seem to be contrary to so important a principle, and which might also form a very inconvenient precedent. I must further observe that the purchase of lands from any other parties than the aboriginal possessors of them does not seem to me to be one of the objects for which I am authorized by the Lords of the Treasury to make advances out of the Crown revenue for New South Wales.”But the effective control of Gipps was soon to be discontinued. Under powers conferred by statute, the Crown (by letters patent in November, 1840) formally separated New Zealand from the Government of New South Wales, declaring the North Island to be New Ulster, the Middle Island New Munster, and Stewart Island New Leinster,—names destined soon to disappear.
It will be proper to give two instances of the characteristic manner in which Sir George Gipps used his power while it remained with him. Hobson reported that Dr. Martin, a settler “of integrity and reputation,”was alarmed. He had made large, pretended, purchases at the Thames. He had a saw-mill. Under the Land Claims Act he feared that the Commissioners might cut down his claims. Even if they should award him the maximum allowed by Gipps' Act, the terrible consequence might be that the quantity awarded would be insufficient to supply his mill with timber. Gipps replied (5th December, 1840): “This, however, may be the case, and still no injustice done to Dr. Martin, as I can see no more reason that all the timber sawn at a mill should be grown on his own land than that all the wheat or other grain ground at a mill in England or elsewhere should be produced on land the property of the miller.”
In one respect Gipps had not grasped the difficulties of land purchase in New Zealand. Outside of the missionary circle no one appears to have understood the ardent attachment of Maoris to their hereditary tenure. Gipps told Hobson (30th November, 1840), that where the chiefs admitted that a sale had been made, their titles were to be considered extinct, whether “or not the whole or any portion of the land be confirmed to the purchasers or pretended purchasers.”In cases page 251 of insufficient consideration Hobson, in concert with the Protector, was to award further compensation to the chiefs.
Two vices were thus sanctioned: robbery of a tribe because one or more chiefs had agreed to sell their interest in land; and recognition of a contention that a bad transaction could be made good by compelling him who had been cheated to accept from a third party compensation which the sufferer might deem insufficient. And yet Sir George Gipps might have suspected that the words of Tacitus—Agri pro numero cultorum ab universis in vices occupantur—were applicable to the Maoris. The vicious principles which he was willing to sanction were ere long put in practice; not perhaps because he in ignorance approved them, but because only by their means could the company's purchase at Port Nicholson be retained. But it was under no blandishment or threat that Gipps yielded to error. The company could not overpower him as they did Lord John Russell. The flagrant manner in which Colonel Wakefield had pretended to buy an enormous tract at Wanganui; Henry Williams' endeavour to lock up the land in trust for the Maoris; E. J. Wakefield's endorsement of Williams' document as “an arrant falsehood,”and his own shameful method of completing his uncle's bad deeds, have been mentioned. It has also been stated that the deputation to Sir G. Gipps (Dr. Evans, Mr. Hanson, and Mr. Moreing), returned to Wellington with a decision recognizing under certain conditions the Wellington settlement, but limiting the company's claim to 110,000 acres to be selected in one block adjacent to Port Nicholson; and that a public meeting at Wellington in December, 1840, unanimously thanked Gipps for his “justice and liberality.”Nevertheless, presuming upon the weakness of Hobson, the distance of Gipps from the scene of action, and the reported influence of the company upon Lord John Russell, Colonel Wakefield conceived and attempted to execute a nefarious design to allot amongst his settlers lands at Wanganui and at Taranaki far removed from the locality to which the company's selections were confined. The “Surveyor-General”of the company published notices that plans of the districts were ready for inspection, and that selections would be made on the 4th February, 1841. The precedent at Wellington was ominous page 252 of evil. Even there, mistakes in the plans had been discovered, and a postponement of the selections had been necessary at the last moment; and there the Maoris had remained quiet, trusting to the assurance of Henry Williams that the Governor would send a functionary to do justice, and being similarly counselled by the powerful chief, E Puni. At Wanganui the company was boldly violating a transaction entered into by Williams. To Taranaki it was known that Wiremu Kingi te Rangitake intended to lead back some hundreds of the Ngatiawa. “There is great reason to apprehend”(Hobson wrote afterwards to the Secretary of State) “that none of this vast territory has been legally purchased from the aborigines. But this is a question I will not prejudge.”1 When Hobson saw the advertisement of the intended selection he hastily asked Gipps (29th December) what course he should “pursue to prevent the serious consequences which would result from apportioning lands in contravention of the conditions, reservations, and limitations on which the settlers at Port Nicholson were to remain undisturbed.”Gipps forthwith (12th January) answered: “You will, without loss of time, direct the police magistrate at Port Nicholson to notify in the most public manner possible that no such selections will be acknowledged by Her Majesty's Government, nor any titles whatever derived from the New Zealand Company beyond the limits of 110,000 acres taken in one continuous block around Port Nicholson.”
1 Hobson, May 26th, 1841.
1 I have given this episode in detail, because if it were merely summed up it would be almost impossible to believe that a British Secretary of State could act in the manner described. Only his own words can paint him.
The servants of the company became insolent in New Zealand. They called Captain Hobson “Captain Crimp,”because he attracted workmen from Cook's Straits to his new capital at Auckland. They derided him publicly and privately. They pointed triumphantly to the population which, under their loose devices, had accumulated at Wellington in greater numbers than could be found at the official colony. An affray between American sailors and Maoris at the Bay of Islands afforded Hobson an opportunity of representing the want of a military force. Lord John admitted the need, but could hold out no hope, “at least for the present,”and advised the formation of a body like the Irish police. He did not say where the materials could be found. Sir Robert Peel had made policemen of the Irish, and Hobson might, perhaps, do as much with Maoris.
When Mr. Somes angrily commented on the petition of the Rev. William Williams, and imputed it to Henry Williams—at the same time vilifying the latter—Lord John sent the correspondence to Hobson, with an intimation that he looked to Somes and to Williams “for co-operation in establishing friendly relations between all parties.”He did not stop to observe that one Williams had been confounded with another, and as late as October, 1843, the company did “not deem it advisable to take any mode of making public the correction of this mistake.”So plastic was the Minister in the hands of the company that when the Land and Emigration Commissioners in London offered special areas of 5120 acres to settlers in New Zealand, and Mr. Somes remonstrated, Lord John compelled the Commissioners to revoke their advertisement lest the designs of the company should be incommoded.page 255
Among the weapons of the company was a Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1840. Lord Eliot was chairman. Gibbon Wakefield was examined at great length, and professed to represent Lord Durham, who died before the Committee was closed. With his usual address, Wakefield commented on the proceedings of the Association of 1837, the opposition of Lord Howick, and the hostility of the Church Missionary Society to Mr. Baring's bill in 1838, and the “act of hostility”of Lord Melbourne's Government in not allowing the New Zealand Company to carry out the self-governing agreement (which Serjeant Wilde, on being applied to by the company, had pronounced illegal). Wakefield insisted that the company were “morally right,”but on moral questions he was not deemed an authority. He denounced the recognition of the rights of Maori chiefs. England ought to have claimed sovereignty on account of discovery by Captain Cook. He assailed the conduct of the missionaries. Mr. Dandeson Coates, the secretary of the Church Missionary Society, was examined. He admitted that it had been formerly opposed to interference with the Maoris by the Government. It had hoped to civilize them as a people; but, unless English authority should be set up, anarchy had become inevitable. As to the charge against missionaries for purchasing land the Society had, in 1830, thought moderate purchases as provision for their children desirable. In 1838, on rumours of large purchases, the Society instituted inquiry, and deeming a purchase by a catechist1 inordinate they informed him that it was incompatible with his office. If he denied their right to control such matters the committee must “adopt the painful alternative of declaring his connection with the Society terminated.”A representative of the Wesleyan Mission Society testified to similar moderation on their part. They found fault with one missionary for purchasing lands; he defended himself, and about 1837 they “came to the conclusion to dismiss him.”
1 Mr. Fairburn. The purchase (40,000 acres at Tamaki) has been described already.
Sir George Gipps' Proclamation is “so contrary to international law and so repugnant to justice”that they would “use all legitimate means of resistance.”
That the subjection of private property in New Zealand to “absolute control of a distant and rival colony is so repugnant to justice and propriety”that it must be resisted.
Their third resolution was widely inconsistent with their assertion that the Maori chiefs could have no sovereign rights.
“That inasmuch as this unparalleled interference with private rights cannot even lawfully take place in any part of New Zealand not ceded to Her Majesty, it is to be expected that the settlers on the company's territory, with a view to preventing their own ruin, may be led to induce the chiefs of New Zealand to retain the sovereignty thereof.”
That the company would concur in any general scheme concerning its shareholders and purchasers.
That the company would furnish funds by loan—“to defray expenses of government in the islands until sufficient colonial revenue shall accrue”—duly secured on ordinary revenue and collaterally on the land fund.
The Parliamentary friends of the company were numerous, and Lord Eliot submitted a report in unison with their views, at a time (30th July) when Lord Durham, their leader, was dead but unburied. England ought to “become the sole proprietor of the whole soil of New Zealand.”The treaty of Waitangi was absurd. The committee rejected the report; and by seven votes against four resolved merely to report the evidence taken. Gibbon Wakefield's wrath against Lord Howick for voting against Lord Eliot's draft report was unbounded.
The close of Parliament on the 11th August enabled the company to ply their arts upon Lord John Russell so successfully, that in November, 1840, he contracted a formal “agreement”with them, which overthrew all the benefits derived page 257 from Sir George Gipps' sagacity. He guaranteed to the company “as many acres as shall be equal to four times the number of pounds sterling”expended in despatch of ships,1 purchasing stores, buildings, surveys, &c. One Mr. Pennington was named by him as the accountant empowered to make the estimate. The lands to be assigned were to be taken “at or in the neighbourhood of Port Nicholson, or at or in the neighbourhood of New Plymouth (Taranaki),”but were “not collectively to amount to more than 160,000 acres.”Reserves made by the company for the natives were to be guaranteed to them by the Crown in fulfilment of the company's pledges. Lord John Russell agreed that “for the present all sums of money which shall be paid by the company for the purchase of land in New Zealand, shall, whenever such money shall be paid in England, be laid out in the removal of emigrants to New Zealand.”For reasons unexplained on his part (and inconsistant with the affectation of Lord Durham in 1837, as to the detestation by his friends of any mercantile profits), he agreed to allow a discount on cash payments for blocks of 50,000 acres. He added (in December, 1840), that at least fifty per cent, of the proceeds of land sales in the colony (where the uniform price was to be one pound sterling per acre) would be applied to immigration, the remaining fifty per cent, duty being regarded as chargeable with the expenses of surveys, with the protection of the aborigines, and other “indispensable expenses.”The agreement provided for the grant of a charter to the company.
In January, 1841, the company suggested that the discount allowed to them—“as a reasonable scale of remuneration”—should be twenty-five per cent., but no decision was arrived at. The agreement had left the amount of discount a blank. The company, well aware of the pit into which they were leading Lord John Russell (by the concession of four acres for each pound expended, and the inclusion of Taranaki as a field for their settlement), were not desirous that he should see whither he was falling until it was too late to retract. He felt secure in his dream that he had limited their claim to the quantity (160,000 acres) named in his “agreement”with them.
1 The surreptitious despatch of the ‘Tory,’ was therefore rewarded by the Cabinet whom it had overreached.
Above all things, they desired to commit him irrevocably to the removal of the keen gaze of Gipps from their operations.
Unconscious of the heritage of crime and woe which he was entailing upon Pakeha and Maori by recognizing the vicious pretensions of the company at Taranaki, Lord John Russell sent his foolish correspondence to Gipps, adding, that he had not abandoned “the plan of instituting a commission to inquire into titles or claims to land in New Zealand.”The sinister influence under which he was labouring, was shown by his directing Governor Gipps “to defer the execution of any powers”given under the Land Claims Act of New South Wales “until you shall receive further instructions from me on the subject.”Thus did he at the instigation of the company paralyze the arm of justice. Fortunately Gipps had not received the admonition when he arrested Colonel Wakefield's lawless conduct at Wanganui and Taranaki in January, 1841.
1 Letters patent designated parts of New Zealand as in 34th parallel of North Latitude, and Hobson's commission styled him John, while his name was William.
He had acquired some knowledge of the nature of Maori occupation and tenure, for he wrote (January, 1841): “It would appear to be the custom or understanding of the natives that the lands of each tribe are a species of common property which can be alienated on behalf of the tribe at large only by the concurrent acts of its various chiefs.”
Weak Hobson might have been in judgment, stricken by sore disease he was, but the company miscalculated his moral strength if they hoped to make him swerve from any point of known duty. He could not be ignorant of the discreditable manner in which the company's agents were pretending to buy territory, and were actually forcing occupants upon unbought lands, hoping to drag down the majesty of England to support their frauds.
Early in 1841, they assiduously cultivated the good graces of their pliable victim at Downing Street, and on the 12th February their charter was granted to them. Somes was their first Governor, and Mr. Francis Baring their Deputy-Governor.
On the following day they invited Lord John to a banquet, and secured the presence of other Cabinet Ministers and members of Parliament to do him honour. But they still kept sight of their claim for discount of twenty-five per cent.
In March, he thought ten per cent. the highest rate which could properly be allowed. The company reminded him, in April, that they had verbally mentioned twenty-five per cent, when the agreement was made, and the amount was left in blank. They had supposed that “sum already agreed upon.”This bold averment roused even Lord John to a partial sense of his position. He totally denied any compact or promise on the part of the Colonial Office, but felt “justified in allowing twenty per cent.—that amount to be reduced to fifteen per cent, after the expiration of two years from the date of the agreement.”In May, the company, in face of the Minister's page 261 disclaimer, did “not further press the point”of “any preliminary understanding,”but ventured to think that they had qualifications for colonization which “neither the Executive Government nor individuals”possessed. They deprecated the contemplated reduction at the expiration of two years. They thought the item should “be called commission rather than discount.”
By this time Sir Robert Peel had thrown down the gage of battle in the House of Commons, and a triumph for the Ministry was improbable. Two days before Sir Robert proposed a vote of want of confidence, Lord Russell answered Mr. Somes. He “did not expect that his consenting to raise the amount of discount would be converted into an argument against him.”“Two years hence the question may be discussed, whether”twenty or fifteen per cent, should be allowed. The result of Mr. Pennington's award was a blow to the self-sufficiency even of Lord John, who when he blunderingly abolished the control of Governor Gipps imagined that the maximum of the company's claim would be 160,000 acres. Mr. Pennington reported that the company were entitled in May, 1841, to 531,929 acres, and “may be hereafter entitled to a further portion of between 400,000 and 500,000 acres.”
The Minister thus drawn into the toils of Gibbon Wakefield complained (1st September, 1841), two days before he gave place to Lord Stanley, that the result was unforeseen by him, “and, as he believes, by the company themselves when the original agreement was made.”The company (he had discovered) had obtained a “double advantage”from the agreement he had made with them: they purchased land at five shillings instead of twenty; and “the whole of that purchasemoney was applied for emigration purposes.”He might have added that the shameful traffic in fire-arms with which Colonel Wakefield endeavoured to dupe the natives appeared nakedly to the company's credit in the accounts submitted to Pennington, and that thus the good name of England was tarnished with multiplied stains by the bad deeds which an English Minister had aggravated.
The seals so unworthily held were already slipping from his grasp. In June Sir Robert Peel carried a motion of want of page 262 confidence (312 votes against 311). A dissolution in the same month was followed by elections fatal to the Melbourne Ministry. In the new Parliament a fatal division was taken on the 28th August, three days before Lord John made his feeble moan against Pennington's award. Sir Robert Peel was sent for on the 31st August, and Lord Stanley became Colonial Minister. The company had nothing to expect from Lord John, and could afford to expose his folly without mercy. They threw off the mask they had worn while cajoling him Gibbon Wakefield's ductile scribe, Somes, informed him that the company had not been told to what Lord John had supposed their claim might amount, nor “what excess above that was sufficient to produce an impression upon his mind unfavourable to the application of the purchase-money to immigration,”but they assured “his lordship that as we could not be ignorant of our past expenditure, we never anticipated making good our claim to any extent materially less than that awarded by Mr. Pennington.”Thus even when professing to resist the pretensions of the company Lord John left a legacy of trouble to his successor, which Gibbon Wakefield and his henchmen were to use to their advantage. Before dealing with the conduct of Lord Stanley it will be well to follow the course of events in the colony.
Governor Hobson could not but shrink from the almost certain disputes which would arise from the land claims of the company. Numerous chiefs denied their validity and extent. Rauparaha, the controlling genius of the Maoris at Cook's Straits, impeached some of the purchases, while Wake-field was reporting that they were duly made. Mr. E. J. Wake-field thus described Rauparaha's influence on the occasion when the departure of Ngatiraukawa allies was threatened. “Much as I abhorred his character I could not but yield my unbounded admiration to the imperious manner in which he overthrew the whole effect of Ahu's beautiful summons to the tribe. Instead of his usual doubting and suspicious manner, his every gesture became that of a noble chief. He rose with all the majesty of a monarch, and he spoke in the clearest and firmest tones.… ‘Go! all of you! go, Ngatiraukawa, to Maungatautari. Take your children on your backs. Go, and leave my land without men. When you are gone I will page 263 stay and fight the soldiers with my own hands. I ask you not to stop. Rauparaha does not fear.… By fighting I have got my name. Since I conquered these lands I have ever been spoken of as a king. I am their king. I have lived and will die a king, with my ‘mĕrĕ’ in my hand. Go ! I am no beggar. Rauparaha will fight the Queen's soldiers with his own hand,— with his own name. Go to Maungatautari.’ Then suddenly changing his strain he looked on the assemblage of chiefs, bending down towards them with a paternal smile, and softening his voice to kindness and emotion: ‘But what do I say? What is my speech about? You are children. It is not for you to talk.… Can one of you speak when I am here? No, I shall rise and speak for you all, and you shall sit dumb; for you are all my children, and Rauparaha is your high chief and patriarch !’ He completely won his point by this fearless rejection of their assistance, ending in arrogant assumption of absolute authority.… One of the highest chiefs said to me: ‘It is true. He is our father and our Ariki. Rauparaha is king of the Maori, as your Queen is over the Pakeha’; and the others bowed a silent assent, and seemed each to swell with conscious dignity as the follower of such a leader.”Such, in the opinion of an enemy, was the man whom Colonel Wakefield had made an interpreter call liar and slave; and against whom, if he should abet Wakefield's baseless claims, Hobson would have to provide in New Zealand a body like the Irish police. Lord John Russell, in a style which wavered between that of Dogberry and Polonius, thus instructed him in April, 1841: He feared “that the arrangements of the army would not admit of any material increase to the force in New Zealand.”He “approved the tone of Hobson's communications with the natives, and had nothing to add to former instructions about the survey of lands; but I gather from your report that there is abundance of Crown land at the disposal of the Government, and I shall accordingly authorize the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners to advertise the sale of the Crown lands of New Zealand in this country, as is done in regard to the waste lands of the Australian colonies. There appears to be an essential difference between the soil of New Zealand and that of every district hitherto occupied by British subjects in page 264 Australia. The country appears to be essentially fitted for agricultural and not for pastoral operations. … I should wish you to endeavour to act on the general principle of forming the settlers of each district into a regular community, as in the early history of this country the Saxons were settled under King Alfred, and as in the present time new townships are settled in the United States of America. Acting on that system it will be desirable to encourage in every settled district the establishment of a place of worship and a school, and the appointment of a magistrate with one or two constables, and a vestry or township meeting to impose rates.”
The prospect of fresh land claims arising out of sales in England while existing claims of the New Zealand Company were unadjusted, was another drop in the cup of Hobson's troubles. To assuage them, Lord John, in the same despatch, promised that a Judge and an Attorney-General should soon be sent him. In August, 1840, Lieutenant Shortland had reported. that a small guard of thirty soldiers whom he took to Port Nicholson had been needed to enable him to quell a disturbance between some of the company's settlers and a few Maoris of inferior degree. The difficulties of Hobson's position, aggravated by Lord John's instructions, were sufficient to distract a man in sound health; and he, as was known to his detractors, was unsound except in the noble quality that from no act of known duty could he be diverted. The prospect of sales of land by Hobson at Auckland annoyed the company. They represented to Lord John Russell in July, 1841, that the uniform price of land ought to be raised to £2 or at least £1 10s. per acre, and he met their wishes. He had “no objection to raise the uniform price to thirty shillings, and would hereafter be prepared to adopt the plan of sale by auction.”He asked “the intention of the company”as to selling land. They replied that they were selling none in England at less than thirty shillings, and had directed Colonel Wakefield “on no account to allow the upset price on land offered by the company for sale by auction to be lower than the uniform price of Government for the time being.”In effect, Hobson's first sale took place in April, 1841, and the prices realized for town allotments reached an average of page 265 £595 an acre. Hobson allowed about twelve Government officers to select allotments, for which they were to pay the average price realized in the section on which they might be chosen. For this he was bitterly assailed. In September, he sold suburban, cultivation, and small farm allotments, at the upset prices of £20, £10, and £3 respectively. They realized on an average £45 14s. 3d.; £13 5s., and £3 8s. per acre. Larger farm allotments of fifty acres each, at an upset price of £2 an acre, found no buyers. The company's settlers appealed to Sir George Gipps against “the wrong done to intending purchasers”by Hobson, in allowing the Government officers to select their allotments at the average established by auction. Hobson defended himself by saying that it was advisable to allow the officers to know beforehand where they might erect shelter, and Gipps reminded the settlers that the lowest possible price to the officers at Auckland would have been £80 an acre, and that amongst the memorialists there must have been some, if not many, who (as company's immigrants) had “obtained allotments, and even some of the best, in the town of Wellington, at the rate of twenty shillings an acre.”But Sir G. Gipps was sustained by the Secretary of State in condemning Hobson's departure from Gipps' instructions as to the method in which he was to permit the officers to acquire land. Lord Stanley decided (June, 1843) upon Hobson's appeal. In “clear cases “where there was no reason to doubt conformity with the spirit, if not the letter, of the original instructions of Sir G. Gipps, grants were to be made. In “doubtful cases”the amount expended on building or improvement was to be added to the price paid to the Government for the land—the two amounts forming the upset price at auction. If there should be no bidding in advance, the officer was to obtain a confirmatory grant. If a higher price should be bid the officer was to receive out of it the upset price as his indemnity. If he should be himself the last bidder, he was to pay the Treasury the difference between the upset price and the last bidding, and to receive a confirmatory grant. Thus was terminated a strife which rent the little community of Auckland for years, and gave much anguish to Hobson, whose condemnation by local enemies was supplemented by that of official superiors.page 266
1 In a ‘History of Taranaki’ (by B. Wells), published in New Zealand in 1878, the author conveys in a few words the disloyalty to Hobson, which pervaded Wellington, Taranaki, &c. “In the early days of colonial history Auckland was a wretched vampire, preying upon the vitals of the company's settlements,”p. 74.
1 Paper furnished by the -Superintendent of Nelson, p. 174; Vogel's ‘Handbook.’
Lord Stanley relieved him from another, into which Mr. Hanson's attempt to purchase the Chatham Islands might have led him, when no longer supported by the vigorous intelligence of Gipps. The terms were not made public when Hanson returned to Port Nicholson. Mr. Somes in October, 1841, informed the Secretary of State (Lord Stanley) that the company were in treaty with official persons at Hamburgh and other free German cities, for the sale of the Chatham Islands to a German Colonization Company. He averred that the islands were not British possessions, and that national advantages would accrue from attracting thither friendly Germans. He offered to stipulate for the British flag the same status as that enjoyed by the Hanse towns, and would “restrict the purchasers from making any part of the islands a penal settlement.”Lord Stanley consulted the law officers, and declared (December, 1841) that the original purchase by R. D. Hanson for the New Zealand Company, and the contemplated sale, were illegal;— that the overtures about the national flag and the intended restrictions were an intrusion on the royal prerogative; and that he could find nothing in the company's charter warranting the application of money to the purchase of the islands. But progress had already been made in negotiating their resale. K. Sieveking, Syndic of Hamburgh, and eight other persons issued a prospectus of the German Company, announcing that they had made a contract, were about to take possession, and would apportion the proceeds of land sales, one-half towards German immigration, one-quarter for public expenditure in the new colony, and one-quarter to defray the expense of administration in Hamburgh. One-tenth of each district, port, suburb, and rural area, was to be set apart for “higher objects, on the security of which the value of the new settlement in the eyes of the better part of its population must depend,—the church and page 271 the school.”Promptly Lord Stanley requested the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to apprise “Mr. Syndicus Sieveking “that the Chatham Islands would thenceforward form part of the colony of New Zealand, and would be subject to the laws in force there, which made null any assumed sales of land unrecognized by the local government after a report from Commissioners. The necessary Proclamation was forthwith promulgated. The profuse Somes explained that the purchase was made before the issue of the company's charter, and was therefore legitimate. The company consisted of different persons from those for whom Hanson had purchased, “because, since the grant of the charter, a new body of shareholders”had been admitted; but the acquisition of the Chatham Islands, though impossible for the chartered company, was lawful for the co-partnership for which Hanson had made it. A suspicion must have crept into the minds of the Directory that Lord Stanley could not be imposed upon by sophistries sufficient to confuse Lord Russell, for they hoped that their “having perhaps rather unguardedly stated that they, the Directors, were in treaty for the sale of the islands”(to the German towns) “would not prejudice them in his judgment.”He curtly told them that as it appeared they had no property in the islands, it was unnecessary to pursue correspondence with them on the subject, but he “must be understood as not acknowledging the right of any persons to any land in the Chatham Islands acquired by purchase from the natives.”Subsequently he informed Mr. Somes that the law officers had reported that the consequence of an abuse of the trust created by a charter might be forfeiture of the charter altogether, though they doubted whether the conduct of the company in the case before them would, “if the intention were abandoned, be deemed to amount to such forfeiture.”Recognizing their master, the Directors expressed a “deep sense of his kindness”in communicating to them the opinion of the lawyers, “and were happy to find that they express no opinion that any bad consequences have been incurred by acts already done.”They would take the utmost care in future. For the credit of his literary ability it may be assumed that Gibbon Wakefield took no part in framing the fawning apology, page 272 which was signed by a secretary, Mr. John Ward. At a later date it was ascertained through the Foreign Office that Mr. John Ward, while accredited to Hamburgh as a Commissioner from the Crown for other purposes, had, on behalf of the company, negotiated with Mr. Syndicus Sieveking. Then Lord Stanley's ultimatum was sent to Sieveking and to the company. The legal consequence of the transaction he did not think it necessary to inquire into for the immediate purpose of his letter, which was to declare Hanson's transaction void. Somes or his prompter, in reply, averred that Ward had not acted under the company's instructions, and that, “though constantly pressed to ratify Mr. Ward's agreement, they had declined to do so.”The letter was written with the vigour of Gibbon Wakefield, and showed none of the cringing tone adopted in Mr. Ward's apology. Lord Stanley appears not to have condescended to point out that it was utterly at variance with the plain terms of Mr. Somes' first letter, that the company were “in treaty with certain parties for the sale”of the islands. Nevertheless, Lord Stanley had due warning that the moral code of the company was not of a high order, and that their legal agents in New Zealand could commit gross blunders.
It has been convenient to touch upon the occupation of Wanganui, Taranaki, and Nelson, in order to present a general view of the condition of the islands. But before Hobson visited Wellington in September, 1841, he had held a session of his Legislative Council in May. That body passed Acts to establish Courts of Quarter Sessions, and of Requests, Customs and Distillations Acts, an Act to declare the laws of New South Wales in force, so far as applicable, and a Land Commission Act to replace the Act of Gipps. Hobson re-appointed the Commissioners sent by Gipps,—Messrs. Godfrey and Richmond,—and before Hobson went to Wellington, nearly six hundred claims had been referred to them.
Mr. Spain, appointed by Lord Russell as Commissioner of Land Claims preferred by or on behalf of the New Zealand Company, was daily expected. There had been a public meeting at Wellington at which a petition was adopted, praying for Hobson's removal. An amendment moved by Hanson, for redress of grievances, was rejected, and in violation of the rule page 273 on the subject, the petition was sent direct to England, and copies were sent to Hobson and Gipps for their information. A counter-petition in favour of Hobson was sent from the northern portion of the island. It must have been with a heavy heart that the infirm but gallant Hobson went to Wellington in August, 1841. His proper authority had been curtailed by Lord Russell. He was the butt of the greedy and triumphant company. When he became Governor, Wakefield, Hanson, Dr. Evans, and others had sent him a lengthy address, lauding the advantages of Wellington, and almost demanding that the seat of government should be established there. “The honour of”Hobson required such a consummation. He replied courteously —reciprocating their desire for that harmony which is “so essential for the development of the resources of the colony,”— but did not touch upon the question of the seat of government.
To the Secretary of State he narrated in an important despatch (26th May, 1841), those proceedings of the company which, from the impunity with which lawless encroachments on land had been made, would, if not overcome, leave the company sole masters of the field. The location of settlers at Wanganui and Taranaki had taken place in spite of prohibition by the Government, and there was reason to apprehend that no land had been legally acquired by the company at those places. “More than one tribe has called on me to remove intruders, threatening to dislodge them by force if I do not afford redress.”Hobson would require the agents of the company to submit their claims for examination. Of the natives he reported that they preserved a peaceable demeanour, and were amenable to English laws “in a wonderful degree.”The aspersions made against him by the company arose from his declining to establish the seat of government at Wellington. He could have made himself popular by abandoning his duty, but “had I yielded to these temptations the moral debasement would have sunk me to the grave.”He hoped to accord sufficient courts of justice and means of municipal government throughout the various settlements, and if his measures should be approved by the Secretary of State, he would be “fully compensated for all the vexations and offensive opposition”he had encountered. If Lord Russell had replied, it is probable that he, as the page 274 foolish abettor of the company's misdeeds, would have censured Hobson. Lord Stanley (24th Jan., 1842) approved his proceedings.
At the time of Hobson's arrival at Wellington, New Zealand had received the only boons for which she was indebted to Earl Russell. Chief Justice (afterwards Sir) William Martin, and the Attorney-General, William Swainson, brought to her shores ability and integrity which only the defects of others prevented from averting future woe. But nothing could satisfy the Wellington settlers, so long as their town was not the seat of government. It speaks volumes for the missionary Hadfield, that of him all men spoke with one voice of praise. Mr. Edmund Halswell had been appointed in 1840 by the New Zealand Company to manage their native reserves. At that early date they had discovered that by an arithmetical juggle they might break the word which promised a tenth of their lands as the heritage of the Maoris. Halswell was to “select an eleventh, or a quantity equal to one-tenth,”as native reserves. The purpose of the company, he was told, was “to guard the chief families from cruel debasement,”by “giving them property in land.”He was to promote “their moral and physical well-being to the utmost extent.”He was not inactive. In November, 1841, he had made a census which showed 107,219 natives residing in the islands. All except 4424 of them were in the North Island. He lived much amongst the native chiefs near Otaki, and found them peaceful. The change from the former scenes of bloodshed had been principally brought about (he said) by Mr. Hadfield. A more singular testimony was afforded by the violent Mr. E. J. Wakefield. Mr. Hadfield's “irreproachable character and winning demeanour procured him the love and respect of all classes, in both races; of the heathen native and the brutal beachcomber, as well as of the grateful converts and the colonists of education.…”Colonel Wakefield himself wrote (February, 1842): “Mr. Hadfield, who was educated at Oxford, and is a single-minded and sincere minister of the Gospel, well deserves the estimation in which he is held by all parties.”It was good for New Zealand that there were such men to show that the word of a white man could be trusted. It was with due page 275 regard to their conduct that the Maori agreed to abide by the decision of the servants of the Queen. Yet there was occasional risk of disturbance. A Maori was found dead near the Te Aro pah at Wellington. Settlers said he had died of apoplexy. Maoris said a Pakeha had killed him. A rope tied in a knot never used by Maoris convinced them that there had been foul play. There was a commotion. Mr. Murphy the magistrate with difficulty averted violence. The wrathful settlers accused him of cowardice. At a public meeting it was resolved that executive authority vested in a police magistrate was inadequate, and that unless the Queen's representative would adopt measures it would “become necessary for Her Majesty's faithful subjects to organize the means of protection against disturbers of the public peace and the opponents of British law and authority which is presumed to be established in New Zealand.”Dr. Evans, gifted with a ready flow of high-sounding words, descanted on this theme with classical vigour to a favourable audience. Mr. Murphy succeeded in averting further mischief until the arrival of the Governor (19th August) brought the settlers face to face with the Queen's representative, for whose dismissal they had appealed. Mr. E. J. Wakefield, writing soon after the event, declared that the settlers “were convinced that they had an enemy to meet;”and that, when Hobson landed, the inhabitants withdrew “in a marked manner.”A levée was according to the same authority, “a complete failure.”Captain Hobson was accompanied by Te Where Whero, the great Waikato chief; by Mr. Halswell, the Commissioner of the New Zealand Company for the management of native reserves; by Mr. George Clarke, Chief Protector of the aborigines, and a few others.
Conscious of the worthlessness of some of their titles to land, the company's settlers did not attempt to conceal their dislike of Mr. Clarke and of his office. He was, said Mr. E. J. Wakefield, “always to be seen prowling about in the pahs, and holding much private talk with the discontented among the natives.”
From the Maori village, Te Aro, Colonel Wakefield had earnestly but vainly striven to remove the inhabitants. After one conference with the Governor in presence of the Maoris, Colonel Wakefield declined to attend another, unless Mr. Clarke page 276 were forbidden to be present. He preferred the alternative of a private arrangement with the discontented, but he failed to make it. Hobson was resolute in respecting Maori rights. He was willing to waive the pre-emptive rights of the Crown over the lands which the company alleged that they had bought, but neither insult nor cajolery could make him swerve from his decision that the company's purchases should be proved before the Commissioner of Land Claims. At the request of the Te Aro Maoris, he gave them an assurance in writing (through Clarke, the Protector) that British law would not permit them to be forced from their lands. Even the garbled account which Wakefield sent to the Directors in London makes one thrill with pleasure at the sight of the stricken man battling in favour of right against the wrong-doing of the company, supported as he believed it to be by an accomplice in the Secretary of State. There were no telegrams from Europe in those days, and Lord Stanley's recent accession to power was unknown to Hobson. Colonel Wakefield reported that Hobson “positively refused to look upon the native title as fairly extinguished by reason of the advantages secured to the aborigines by their reserved lands, and the introduction of civilization amongst them. This view… so inimical to the quiet progress of the company's settlements… has been taken in consequence of the treaty of Waitangi.”Wakefield said that the Chief Justice powerfully aided him in discussing the subject, but the word of Wakefield will not bear contrast with that of William Martin which will be met with hereafter, nor with that of Octavius Hadfield which refutes Wakefield. Unwilling to allow innocent settlers to suffer from the position into which many of them had been inveigled, Hobson withheld a proclamation which he had prepared on the subject of titles, and sent to Colonel Wakefield a letter for publication. He waived in favour of the company the pre-emptive right of the Crown over lands at Wellington, Porirua, the Hutt, Manawatu, Taranaki, and Wan-ganui; promising a grant of such lands as had been “validly purchased from the natives.”With this provision Wakefield was content. It excluded European claimants from Mr. Spain's examination, and Wakefield never doubted that his front of brass would overbear the savages whose marks he had procured on page 277 his parchments, or their countrymen whom he had not consulted. With his formal letter Hobson sent a separate one intimating that in order to enable the company to fulfil its engagements with the public he would sanction any “equitable arrangements”Wakefield might make to induce natives residing within the blocks (over which Hobson waived the pre-emptive right) to “yield up possession of their habitations; but I beg you clearly to understand that no force or compulsory measures will be permitted.”With characteristic subtlety Wakefield when be quoted this note, omitted the limitations imposed by Hobson, who if he had been wise would have trusted Wakefield in nothing. If Lord J. Russell had not interfered with the sound arrangements of Gipps, Hobson knowing his duty would have done it. Aiming at compliance with Lord John Russell's directions, Hobson complicated matters in a manner which would have been impossible under Gipps. He speedily found that his confidence was abused. In November1 he explained that his permission to “the company's agent to enter into any equitable arrangements for removing native claims, and by which the natives are guaranteed against possible expulsion, was communicated in a separate note, lest disaffected persons might induce them to make exorbitant or unreasonable demands;”and in a later despatch2 (concerning Wanganui, where Wake-field's impositions were resisted) he said: “I promised to allow any defect in Colonel Wakefield's engagements to be corrected by after payments in order that the wishes of Her Majesty's Government (i.e. Lord John Russell) might with greater certainty be fulfilled, and that the settlers under the auspices of the company should not be exposed to disappoinment. But I never pledged myself, as I have heard it has been asserted, to allow the purchase of any land by the company after the Proclamation (of Her Majesty's sovereignty) except to permit subsequent demands of the natives to be satisfied.”Hobson's decision was in itself dangerously divergent from the judgment of Sir George Gipps communicated to the deputation from Wellington in 1840. When encumbered by the subsequent intrigues and misrepresentations of the company it was fruitful of injustice.
1 Despatch No. 30, 13th November, 1841.
2 12th March, 1842, No. 8.
Wakefield informed his employers that Hobson's decision gave “great satisfaction”to the Wellington community. Hobson wrote (13th November, 1841), that “to divert mischievous consequences from collision between the settlers and the natives, he thought it right to pledge the Government to protect the aborigines in the possessions of their pahs and cultivations unless it is proved that they have sold them.”
Colonel Wakefield alleged that he had bought two pahs which the Maoris pertinaciously “denied that they had sold.”“The agent for the company, I suppose, calculating on getting possession either by bribery or by force, has, notwithstanding the native claims, included these pahs in the disposable land, and has allowed them to be selected by purchasers. This very dubious step may involve the company in great embarrassment and litigation; as against any compulsion, the natives shall be amply protected by the Government, and they seem perfectly resolute in resisting all offers of compensation.”
Hiko, whose signature Colonel Wakefield had boasted of obtaining in 1839, being examined before the Governor, the Chief Justice, Colonel Wakefield, the Rev. O. Hadfield, and others, denied that he had signed any deed of sale of Porirua. E. J. Wakefield asserted that he had. The ignorant Barrett, perhaps conscious that in the presence of the expert Maori scholar Hadfield deception would be difficult, admitted that Hiko's signature was “not obtained willingly,”and Clarke, the Protector, skilled in the language, declared that the document signed was calculated to mislead the natives. Hiko was constant in denial of Wakefield's statements, and Hobson's mind was “left with the impression that he had not sold”the land. “Resistance is offered to the company in every quarter,”… nor ought any decision to be come to until the case is fairly weighed and considered by the Commissioner.”
Clarke, the Protector, reported that the Governor's temporary adjustment of the Te Aro dispute was, fortunately for the settlers, made at a moment of crisis. He told Hobson that it was “an improbability almost amounting to an impossibility that the natives could have sold themselves out of their possessions to the extent stated by the agent of the company. How can a transaction with them be valid without the consent not page 279 only of the chiefs but of the occupants of the soil, who to the amount of thousands are still living upon the land claimed by the company, ignorant of or disbelieving the transaction, who tenaciously cling to the land of their fathers, and who will not leave it except by compulsion? The work which the New Zealand Company is said to have accomplished in a few weeks in their purchases would occupy several years' time of an agent well qualified to treat with the natives.”What had been done was done in a blundering manner, and opposition made at the time by real owners had been slighted as uninfluential by Wakefield.1 At Wanganui there was risk of collision between the company and chiefs who denied that they had sold land which Wakefield strove to allot to settlers. Only the good offices of the resident magistrate and the Rev. Mr. Hadfield had prevented violence.
1 Parliamentary Papers, 1848, vol. xlii.
2 Despatch, 12th May, 1842.
Such was the status of E Witi, or Te Rangitake the son of Reretawangawanga, as described by the gentleman delegated by the company to act as Protector of the natives and Commissioner for the management of native reserves. Te Rangitake, by his acquisitions of territory in the south of the island, had not sustained any diminution of his rights in the land of his forefathers. No one ever ventured to assert that there was any doubt of the Maori law on this point, though many desired to infringe it. Whether, if Te Whero Whero had conquered and enslaved the whole of the Ngatiawa residents found on their territory, and had occupied it by cultivation, hunting, fishing, &c., his title would have become paramount, was a question which never arose; for after the invasion and the homeward return of the Waikato army there was always a remnant of the Ngatiawa enjoying the usufruct of the tribal lands, and maintaining their own and their kinsmen's rights.
Moreover, the Waikato enslavers, influenced by Christianity, openly and avowedly manumitted large numbers of their captives to enable them to return to their old homes. The Maori law was like the Roman law of Postliminium: “Qui ab hostibus capti sunt, si reversi fuerint, omnia pristina jura recipiunt.”Like the Roman, the Maori law took no care of the manner of the return: “Nihil interest quomodo captivus reversus est.”All the returning Ngatiawa were invested with the fullest tribal rights. They could stand and speak with their enemy in the gates. The great Te Waharoa himself, the leader of many tribes, had been a slave in his youth at Rotorua.
No one acquainted with Maori law could doubt that to acquire land at the Waitara, the company had need to procure the assent of the manumitted Ngatiawa and of the great chief Te Rangitake and of his followers. Except in the absurd deeds prepared by Colonel Wakefield and Barrett on 25th October and 8th November, 1839, they never affected to do page 281 so. The former of these pretended to buy rights at Waitara from Rauparaha who never claimed any there; and the latter pretended to convey from Te Rangitake enormous territories in the Middle Island over which he asserted no control. Wakefield's agent had bargained for the goodwill of some Waikato people in 1840, when the signatures of a few men, women, and children were procured at Taranaki, but if that agent imagined that he or they could set aside Te Rangitake's rights, he had resided among Maoris and obtained a smattering of their language to little purpose. Moreover, Rangitake never concealed his intention to return to the Waitara. He spoke of it openly and often, and the Rev. Mr. Hadfield stated in evidence before a Select Committee that he heard him do so in 1839. As the great war wantonly made in 1860 hinged upon the worthless acts of Colonel Wakefield, and the covetous glances cast upon the Waitara by settlers whom Lord Russell's weakness aided Wakefield in thrusting upon Taranaki in defiance of the prudence and firmness of Gipps, it is well to state clearly the course which successive Governors adopted on the subject.
1 Despatch No. 29, 13th November, 1841. Te Whero Whero deeply distrusted Colonel Wakefield. Hobson wrote (15th December, 1841), that on his proposal to refer the Waikato claims to Wakefield, Te Whero Whero broke off all colloquy—”Where he has gone or what his intentions are I do not yet know.”Hobson narrated a conversation between himself and Wakefield, who contended that “the stragglers on the land… from whom he purchased are the only parties to be dealt with.… Even Colonel Wakefield admits that the fifty or sixty families who returned to their homes at Taranaki, lived in constant dread of their powerful neighbours, and it cannot for a moment be supposed that this miserable remnant of a large tribe could possess the exclusive power of disposing of this wide tract of country now claimed for the company”(Despatch No. 8, 12th March, 1842).
When in after years Englishmen ventured to tell some Maori chiefs that the sale of the Waikato “interests”would bar the claims of Te Rangitake, the unanimous answer was that they could not, and amongst those who thus answered was Te Whero Whero. Before Hobson left Wellington he appointed the company's officer, Halswell, Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Commissioner of Court of Requests, and Local Protector of Natives. In his general report of his proceedings at Wellington (20th October, 1841), Hobson stated that from the largest and most influential body of the colonists he received “cordial support,”in spite of the “ferment excited by a venal press, and a few discontented spirits;”that he had selected Mr. Earp (who had in May taken a violent part at a public meeting which demanded Hobson's removal) as a member of the Legislative Council, and that the settlers had found that their local requirements were anticipated by the provisions he had made. The native chiefs expressed confidence in the Government, “but they all demanded protection from the encroachments of the company, who, they asserted, had most unscrupulously appropriated their lands.”
Lord Stanley in due time (24th June, 1842), approved generally his proceedings, and said: “In your transactions with the company you may rely at all times on my firm and full support of your authority as Governor against any exaggerated pretensions on the part of the company or its agents.”At the same time he was to treat them and their settlers “with the utmost consideration and courtesy.”
Some of the settlers at Wellington continued their assaults upon the Governor. In November, 1841, he transmitted a memorial from them to Her Majesty. The birth of the Princess Royal was made the nominal subject of an address of congratulation to the Queen, but its burden was the condition of Wellington. Either the Governor should be instructed to reside there, or “ample powers of legislation and administration”should be granted to the settlers. Soon after promising to support Hobson against exaggerated pretensions (a promise which Hobson did not live to read), Lord Stanley carried through page 283 Parliament a bill to regulate the sale of Crown Land in the Australian Colonies. It embraced New Zealand; and, in transmitting it, Lord Stanley showed that he knew how carefully the proceedings of the company's agents ought to be watched.
One moiety of the land fund was (after deducting survey expenses from the whole) to be devoted to immigration in New Zealand, as elsewhere. Fifteen per cent. of the other moiety Hobson was to apply as he might judge fit for the benefit, civilization, and protection of the Maoris. Certain expenditure on roads and bridges, required to open a way for fresh settlement, was authorized in New Zealand as in Australia. In the latter the Governors were instructed to lay before their legislatures periodical and detailed accounts of such expenditure, and after making adequate provision for it to “pay to the general account of the colony”any surplus remaining. An exception was made with regard to New Zealand.1 The advances made to the new colony by the Government in Sydney, the bills drawn by Hobson on England, the want of information as to financial prospects, and the probable condition of the land fund, induced Lord Stanley to decline “at present to place any residue of the land fund at the disposal of the local government.”
1 Parliamentary Papers, 1843, vol. xxxiv. Despatch, 15th September, 1842.
1 Clendon was afterwards made a Legislative Councillor by Hobson.
2 Mr. Martin became Sir William. A gold medallist at Cambridge, a Fellow of St. John's, beloved by all who knew him, he contended through life against a frail constitution; and his labours in the law, in the Church (for which he assisted Bishop Selwyn in framing a scheme of government), and for the Maoris, were such as might shame the robust. He was the venerated friend of Patteson, the Melanesian bishop and martyr. He died at Torquay, in England, in 1880, in his seventy-fourth year. He pursued his literary studies to the last. Three days before his death he said: “Do you think I am now free from all responsibility of work? My civil work is done; my ecclesiastical work is done; and now I leave it in God's hands. I pray for the Church of England, and I embrace all Christians in the bonds of Catholic unity.”Thus, when stricken by mortal disease, he died as he had lived,—a pattern to all men. He was remarkable for his modesty and gentleness, but, as will be seen in future pages, showed firmness when his own duty or the rights of others demanded it. It was recorded that when he left New Zealand he “was without an equal in general scholarship and knowledge of languages ancient and modern.”The happy philologist, Bishop Patteson, revelled in his converse with Martin, who, to the classic lore acquired at Cambridge, had added researches in Hebrew, Arabic, Polynesian, and Melanesian languages.
Common law and equity were blended in the Supreme Court. A system of procedure was initiated by which suitors, whether appealing to civil, criminal, or testamentary jurisdiction, obtained redress without recourse to different channels. The transfer of real property was simplified; and the way was left open for the maintenance of the safeguards of the great charter, that no man should be convicted except on the verdicts of twenty-four of his countrymen in the grand and petty juries of the land.1
1 To meet pressing exigency it was enacted that an indictment signed by the Attorney-General should be as valid as if it had been presented by a grand jury. The materials for forming juries were not then plentiful. But the temporary expedient, though it obscured, was not allowed to extinguish, the Great Charter as it was extinguished in Australia. After a brief space the early Ordinance was repealed by another in 1844, which did not allow the Attorney-General to stand in the place of a grand jury, and that institution being deemed a part of the law of England applicable to the colony, became the birthright of the colonists, and has not as yet been bartered away to gratify the spleen or pander to the departmental convenience of the Attorney-General of the day.
The language of these Ordinances shows the spirit which actuated their framers. The preamble of the one for building churches and chapels and maintaining ministers of religion declared that—“Whereas for the promotion of good morals within the colony it is desirable to encourage the building of churches and chapels, and to provide for the maintenance of ministers of the Christian religion. Be it enacted,”&c.
1 This Ordinance was disallowed in England. Hobson had extended Lord J. Russell's concessions to the company to all other claimants. Lord Stanley (19th December, 1842), in a long despatch pointed out that such a provision was repugnant to the Governor's Instructions, and injurious. The disallowance of the new Ordinance left the original Ordinance of 1841 in force.
The Ordinance guarded against abuse of votes by the careless or thriftless by enacting that—“Whereas there may be persons interested in the good government of a borough, and qualified to have a voice therein, but who may not have property rateable under this Ordinance, and it is not fitting that any man should have (directly or indirectly) any power of taxing the inhabitants of any borough, or any share in the management of the funds thereof, who shall not himself contribute thereto.”A person claiming to be put on the roll should pay twenty shillings, which sum was to be afterwards accounted for to him with regard to any rate assessed upon him. The notion that a man's freedom is infringed because he is not enabled to prey upon the industry of others found no favour with the jurists of Auckland.
An Unsworn Testimony Ordinance permitted Maoris and Polynesians, who by reason of defective religious knowledge were by law incompetent to give evidence, to give evidence on affirming their desire to speak the truth. This simple act of justice was never done in Australia. Its proposal was bitterly contended against by Mr. Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke.
Financial troubles weighed upon the sailor Governor. His treasury was worse than empty. Like Julius Cæsar, he required a large sum in order to owe nothing. The system of selection at a fixed price at the company's settlements militated against sales by auction at Auckland. For advances from New South Wales, New Zealand owed about £44,000; and Sir George Gipps, while responsible for New Zealand, had drawn bills on the Treasury in England to relieve the New South Wales funds, then heavily encumbered with unconditional promises on account of immigration. The Lords of the Treasury reluctantly authorized the bills, assigning as a reason the fact that Gipps had not been apprised of their intention to make the New Zealand Government repay the advances. Hobson was directed to lose no time page 288 in liquidating the debt, which was transferred to the English Treasury. But his exchequer could not meet local demands. In 1841 his expenditure exceeded £80,000, while his revenue barely exceeded £37,000, of which £28,000 had accrued from land, and £6407 from customs duties. Holders of goods were as impecunious as the Government. Hobson reported that he was of necessity compelled to relieve the colonists from the Act (of New South Wales), which “obliged the holders of spirits to pay duties on their stock then on hand, but with which they were utterly unable to comply.”
At Auckland, in February, 1842, the Maoris saw trial by jury brought to bear upon a native. Maketu, a well-connected Maori lad, enraged at an insult from a man-servant of Mrs. Roberton, brained the offender, and savagely slew Mrs. Roberton, her two children, and a half-caste child. He then set fire to the homestead, took a canoe, paddled to his father's village, and told what he had done. The murders were committed in November, 1841. The flames were seen from Kororarika. The dead bodies were discovered. Accompanied by Maoris some of the inhabitants went to the spot with the coroner. “In the course of the examination one of the jurors requested a postponement, as he had received secret intelligence from a native chief likely to… disclose who was the perpetrator. Accordingly, on the next morning, very early, a large party again proceeded to the island, and then the natives pointed out the man who was apprehended on suspicion, but owing to the threats of the natives was not secured until his father came forward and gave him up. The adjourned inquest took place at Kororarika.”
Such was Hobson's narrative.1 He could not account for the surrender of Maketu by his father, unless from fear of Rewa, the Ngapuhi chief, grandfather of the murdered Maori child. Without doubt that fear was the moving cause, but it was aided by the earnest efforts of the Rev. Henry Williams. Even after the surrender of the criminal (one of the dissolute always associated with disreputable white men at Kororarika) meetings were held by the natives to decide whether their countrymen should be permitted to be tried by Pakeha law.
1 Despatch 41; 16th December, 1841.
One Leathard, a British subject, was arraigned at the Auckland assize for feloniously shooting at a Maori. Mr. Swainson took his case first: the jury found him guilty of a “common assault,”and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. His relatives in England petitioned on his behalf. Lord Stanley left the matter to the Governor's judgment, and Hobson commuted the sentence to one year.
The condition of New Zealand may be inferred from the fact that the acting Governor wrote, in 1843, that such offences as Leathard's had been common, and that the example of his punishment “had the effect of stopping these practices,”by convincing Europeans that equal justice would be afforded to both races. When Maketu was placed at the bar (1st March), the eager eyes of a crowd of Maoris and Pakehas were bent on the proceedings. The former wondered at the grave process of proving a confessed crime, and at the solemn demeanour of the Judge. They and the prisoner himself admitted the justice of his sentence, but declaimed against the cruelty of keeping him alive after condemnation. Before his trial he had written inflammatory letters to his friends, but the Governor wrote that afterwards he “fully admitted the justice of his sentence,”and, attended assiduously by a clergyman “to the latest moment,”“died a perfect penitent”in peace. He was hanged on the 7th March, and buried in the gaol. After many months, his father, Rūhĕ, begged for the body, and bore the carefully-scraped bones to the burial-place of his ancestry. Rūhĕ composed a lamentation for his child:
“Lost when his name was scarcely known.
My son, I may never forget thee,
Far, far from hence thou art gone:
page 290 The deep springs of a father's love gush forth:
My mind is bewildered, as caught by a storm,”&c. &c.
When Chief Justice Martin travelled, the Maoris looked with fixed gaze at the delegated voice of law: but Rūhĕ bore him no malice, and was among the first to greet him when he visited the Bay of Islands.
Although Hobson avoided giving official umbrage with regard to land in the north where Mr. Clarke negotiated with the Maoris, private quarrels occurred. Intrusion on tapu-ed grounds led to attacks upon the property of settlers at Kaipara, and the harassed Governor sent Clarke to labour for peace. He proclaimed the Queen's just intentions, but it was difficult to allay suspicion or stifle revengeful feeling.
It is worthy of remark that (June, 1842), Lord Stanley foresaw the desirability of relieving the Protector of the Maoris of the task of trafficking for their lands. He considered it “inconsistent with the character he fills.”One of Hobson's despatches shows that many of the vilest Europeans (perhaps disgusted at the setting up of lawful authority in New Zealand) transferred their loathsome habits to the Chatham Islands, which became the “resort of the most abandoned characters in this part of the world, and have become the scene of every revolting atrocity and violence that has ever disgraced human nature.”More naval force was asked for. Lord Stanley took occasion (1842) when correcting the misdescription of New Zealand in the previous Letters Patent, to include the Chatham Islands, and the resident ruffians found themselves again within reach of the law.
The arrival of the Commissioner, Spain, appointed by Lord John Russell, and eagerly looked for by Maori and Pakeha, was delayed by the shipwreck of himself and a Surveyor-General, Ligar and others, at the Cape of Good Hope. Governor Sir G. Napier, conceiving that the services of such functionaries were important, took the responsibility of chartering for them the ‘Antilla,’ in which Spain arrived at Wellington on the 24th December, 1841. Thence he proceeded to Auckland, where his prolonged stay excited the jealousy of some of the company's people.
Colonel Wakefield's friends had asserted that Hobson's con- page 291 cession—that compensation might be paid by the company in order to complete doubtful titles—enabled Wakefield to make fresh purchases, and Hobson felt compelled to contradict such assertions when he informed Lord Stanley in March, 1842, that Spain was about to proceed to Wellington.
It will be unnecessary to follow Hobson's proceedings further. Worn by disease, but struggling gallantly to do his duty, he awaited the result of the machinations of the company, at home and abroad, to bring about his ruin. In June we find him replying successfully to the charges of showing favour in the appointment of Shortland as Colonial Secretary. Hobson was “in treaty with Mr. Harington, late Under-Secretary of New South Wales, to fill the office,”when Shortland, who was holding it temporarily, was “unexpectedly confirmed”in it by Lord John Russell. With such gross accusations did Hobson's enemies assail him. On the 10th September, 1842, honoured by all loyal hearts in New Zealand, he died from a stroke of paralysis.
An early commentator1 on New Zealand story, Swainson the Attorney-General, after deploring the fact that the harassed Hobson died a few weeks before the arrival of Lord Stanley's assurance that he might rely on support in withstanding the “exaggerated pretensions”of the company, added that the sick man laboured honestly to do his duty, and that if the Maori race should escape the usual consequence of contact with European civilization they would “owe something to the inflexible sense of justice of their first Governor.”Such was the verdict of the able and upright Swainson, than whom no man was better qualified to judge.
A Maori chief of note thus recorded his opinion in a letter to the Queen: “Mother Victoria,—My subject is a Governor for us the Maoris, and for the Pakeha in this island. Let him be a good man. Look out for a good man, a man of judgment. Let not a troubler come here. Let not a boy come here, or one puffed up. Let him be a good man, as the Governor who has just died.”