Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris
The Bill was carried with modifications. The confessions of wrongdoing in the preamble were excised. Nevertheless, under Sir R. Stout's leading, a great step towards the idea of justice had been made since the days when, in 1868, Mr. John Hall framed his Order of Reference about the Ngaitahu Deed at Christchurch; and, from 1855 to 1877, those remarkable proceedings occurred with regard to the Maori Reserve at Prince's Street, Dunedin, which have been chronicled in these pages.
If anything I have formerly written has conduced to make public men more studious than of old to extend justice to the Maoris, I have something to be grateful for.
Often when injustice was done it was unknown to the majority of the Colonists; and, though it is dangerous for a writer to arouse the wrath of wrong-doers, yet, if he can mitigate oppression, he is not without his reward. I am persuaded that whatever ill-deeds have been done towards the Maoris by persons dressed in a little brief authority, the community had no immoral complicity with them. There is, perhaps, no more estimable community under the British Crown than that in New Zealand, and many recorded ill-deeds would not have been done if only the moral watchfulness and sense of justice of the public had been brought to bear upon wrong doers at the time.
Would the public in England have consented to the vain and broken promises, the tortures of delay, the studied betrayal, which brought about the death of General Gordon?
Was not the public conscience shocked when that martyr to duty, standing alone on the ramparts of Khartoum, fell a victim, not to local difficulties (which he could easily have surmounted, if not restrained by Lord Granville and the Prime Minister) but to instructions, and died “doing his best for the honour of his country”?page 161
It will not be the people of England upon whom posterity will heap the shame of Gordon's death, and it is not to the people of New Zealand that I impute those wrongs which have caused the groans of the Maoris.*
Failing to make impression upon certain minds in New Zealand, some Maori chiefs, Parore and others visited England in 1882, with a petition, hoping to lay their grievances before the Queen, whose kind words had often been made known to them, and whose paramount power they revered.
They were members of the Ngapuhi tribe always staunch to the Queen.
After some delay they were permitted to see Lord Kimberley at Downing Street, on the 18th July, 1882, (five days after the Despatches about Parihaka so long withheld by that nobleman had been promised to Parliament in reply to the request of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach).
Parore was admitted to be of high lineage, even by those who vilipended the deputation.
The petition glanced at the desire of the Maoris to secure the protection of the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi; “at the evil brought upon them by the Governor himself, who, without any grounds, drove Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake from his own lands at Waitara.” … On this occasion, O mother, the Queen! the grievous lamentation of this island was raised.”
(The war of 1863 in Waikato was attributed to the desire for land.) “When the Waikatos were overpowered” “armies went forth to the East and to the West against the Maoris. “The motive impelling the projectors of these deeds to execute this work was a desire to confiscate the Maori lands, and to trample under the soles of their feet the Treaty of Waitangi. While these proceedings were being carried out, the sorrowing people wept, the lamenting people groaned, the tortured people were in agony, the sad people were in darkness of heart, but still they held the Treaty of Waitangi as a foundation on which the voice of the Maoris could be made known to you, O Queen!
* Reference to General Gordon is not out of place in pages devoted to an effort to temper the severities of “civilization.”
Writing to me from Palestine in October, 1883, he said “Men like — do things and never think of the true hearing of them, and are horrified when their actions are depicted.… I do not in the least imagine civilization has made man more compassionate in himself: he fears the criticism, but when that is wanting he is as ruthless as ever.”
† The term used by the Maoris to render the word confiscation, is well-known to readers of Maori history as Muru, plunder or robbery:—but it is a word for which no one English word is an equivalent.
The disorderly work we refer to has been done so that a path might be opened up to the Europeans to seize Maori lands.”
The memorialists described the raid upon Parihaka as a “new plan” devised “to enkindle strife.” “Armies were sent to Parihaka to capture innocent men; to seize their property and money; to destroy their growing crops, to break down their houses, and commit other unjust acts.” So the petitioners had wandered across the ocean to pray that the Queen would appoint a Royal English Commission to abrogate existing evils; to put a bridle in the mouth of Ministers for Native Affairs, who might act as Ministers had done at Parihaka; so that all might be brought back to obey the Queen's laws.
The labours of such a Commission would (the petitioners hoped) restore lands unlawfully confiscated in violation of the Treaty of Waitangi, and would “draw forth from beneath the many unauthorized acts of the New Zealand Parliament, the concealed Treaty, that it may now assert its own dignity.”
The Maoris themselves reared a stone memorial at the Bay of Islands, and caused the Treaty to be engraved on it. They requested the Governor to unveil the Stone Treaty. He declined. “Perhaps,” the petitioners said, “his disinclination arose from the fact that the Europeans had disregarded the principles embodied in the Treaty, because in you, O Queen, is vested the sole authority affecting the Waitangi Treaty… It is believed by us, O Queen, that you have no knowledge as to the deeds of wrong that gave us so much pain, and which create lamentation among the tribes. O mother, the Queen, there are no expressions of disaffection towards you by the Maori tribes, including the tribes of the King; but they revere, only revere your Majesty; and the search after you, O Queen, has induced us to send this petition to England by the hands of the persons appointed by our committee who will see* your very countenance, and hear your words.”
The petition summarized the many causes of Maori groans.
The avarice of the New Zealand Company which brought on the affray in which Captain Wakefield, Mr. Thompson, and others fell at Wairau in 1843, while wantonly assailing Rauparaha and his people.
Alleged unlawful executions of Rangihaeata's followers.
Occurrences at the Bay of Islands with regard to Heke and Kawiti, in 1844.
Occurrences in which Te Hapuku was concerned in 1848.
* It may have been a sanguine but it was not an unnatural expectation that a Ministry of which Mr. Gladstone was the head, would strive to gratify the deputation by aiding them in their desire to see the Queen. Once under Sir R. Peel, he had advocated justice to the Maoris. But in 1882, he transferred his sympathy to Africa. Besides accommodating the Boers in a startling manner, he and Lord Kimberley aided Cetewayo in visiting Her Majesty in 1882
The unlawful seizure of Te Rangitake's land, at Waitara in 1860.
The invasion of Waikato in 1863.
Other troubles in 1879.
“The capture of 200 innocent men of Te Whiti in 1879–81.
The incarceration of Te Whiti and his people (in 1881–2) who were guiltless of any crime.”
O mother, the Queen, these things, and many of the laws which are being carried into effect, are, according to Maori ideas, very unjust, creating disorder amongst us, giving us heart-pangs, and sadness of spirit to your Maori children who are ever looking towards you, most Gracious Queen; and it is averred by men of wisdom that these matters which weigh so heavily upon us are in opposition to the great and excellent principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
May you be in health, O mother, the Queen! May the Almighty bring down upon you, upon your family, and upon the whole of your people, the exalted goodness of Heaven, even up to the termination of your sojourn in this world, and in your inheritance in the home of sacred rest.”
When the Maori chiefs presented the petition to Lord Kimberley they were accompanied by Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Sir Robert Fowler, and other Members of Parliament as well as by Mr. F. W. Chesson, and others.
I have described the reception elsewhere It is sufficient to say here that Lord Kimberley's manner was disingenuous and evasive. When reminded that successive Secretaries of State had commanded successive Governors through a long series of years to inform the Maoris, and that they had accordingly been informed, that the Queen would cause the Treaty to be scrupulously and loyally respected, the Earl* merely mumbled something about “a matter of construction.”
After a time the noble lord received from Sir J. Prendergast (the Administrator pro. tem. of the Government in New Zealand) a Despatch enclosing a supercilious memorandum from Mr. Whitaker, the Premier. (Blue Book, 1883, C. 3689. p. 39).
That functionary prudently abstained from dwelling on the Treaty of Waitangi. To that ghost of past honour some men are prone to say—Avaunt, and quit my sight.
Mr. Whitaker thought it not beneath the dignity of his position as a lawyer to assure Lord Kimberley that the land legislation in the Colony was “not restrictive but enabling; ““that the general legislation of the Colony as to the Maoris has been more than just, it has been exceptionably favourable to them; “and that “there is no instance in which they have been placed in a less favourable position than the European population.”
* He sent a brief Report of the Deputation to the Governor of New Zealand (vide Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, pp. 287–291), but he said nothing about the pledges of his predecessors.
Whitaker's memorandum appears (by its date) to have occupied him several weeks in preparation. Governor Sir W. Jervois forwarded it without comment to Downing Street, where Lord Derby had succeeded Lord Kimberley. The new Secretary of State was not so repellent as his predecessor. He did not grant the prayer of the petitioners, but he told them that it had been “laid before the Queen who was pleased to receive it very graciously” though Lord Derby had been “unable to advise Her Majesty to give any directions for a compliance with the prayer of the memorialists.”†
As the groans of Parore and his companions were unavailing, the Maoris, pierced to the heart by consciousness of the wrongs done to them, sent another deputation to England.
The so-called King, Tawhiao, was accompanied by chiefs who traced their descent from the noblest families which led the Maoris in the fleet which first bore the dusky Vikings of the Pacific to the shores of New Zealand.
Topia Turoa claimed to represent the tribes from Taupo to Wanganui. Hori Ropihana represented the Ngatikahungunu tribe between Wellington and Hawke's Bay. Te Wheoro had always fought for the Queen. Topia Turoa had been active in suppressing Te Kooti. declared “My tribe has ever been loyal and obedient, and yet we find that together with the other tribes we are suffering from the wrongs done by the New Zealand Government.”
Mr. (now Sir John) Gorst introduced the deputation on the 22nd July, 1884 to Lord Derby, whom he reminded of the late Lord Derby's noble declaration with regard to the Maoris, that while he had the honour of serving Her Majesty, he would “never admit that any person or any government acting in the name of Her Majesty” could contract any obligation “to despoil others of their lawful and equitable rights.”
He reminded him also that Mr. Gladstone had fervently declared in the House of Commons that “as far as England was concerned there was not a more strictly and rigorously binding Treaty in existence than the Treaty of Waitangi.”
He reminded him also that in the existing Constitution Act of New Zealand (15 & 16 Vict. cap. 72) the Crown had distinctly retained the power to make provision to protect the Maoris from ill-treatment.
* Moreover Mr. Whitaker was a minister in 1863, when the Suppression Bill, and the New Zealand Settlements Bill were passed in 1863. For their “exceptionally” humane character vide supra, pp. 25, 26 et seq.
† Blue Book, 1883, C. 3689, p. 40.
Tawhiao in supporting his petition avowed his loyalty to the Queen. Te Wheoro alluded to his own loyal services as an unpaid magistrate in 1857; as a paid magistrate in 1860, “as a captain of militia in 1863,” as Assessor of the Land Court in 1866, “but when I saw the corruption of that Court I left it (he said) in 1872;” as a major in 1873, as a Maori Commissioner in 1875, “and then I saw more clearly the unfair dealing of the Government towards the natives and I gave up the post in 1879; and in the same year I was made a Member of Parliament, thinking that there perhaps the rights of the Maoris would be respected, but when I saw that the Maori Members were ignored, and that the whole Maori race was under oppression, I came to England with Tawhiao to lay our wrongs before Her Gracious Majesty, for we are weary of laying our complaints before the New Zealand Government who refuse to consider our case, and who continue to trample upon us, and we look to you for redress. May God preserve you.”
The petition itself is in an English Blue Book, C 4413 of 1885. It referred to the Queen's faith plighted in the Treaty of Waitangi, in “tender regard” for the Maori race. The Treaty secured all rights of chieftainship, and all Maori lands, villages, forests and fisheries, and it solemnly guaranteed protection of the Maoris under British law.
“But these contracts have been trampled upon by the Government without exception.” In 1855 they were violated. Afterwards the Waitara land was seized under pretence of purchase, Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake, “the paramount chief of that tribe, forbidding the sale” . . “and the Government waged war (1860) throughout Taranaki and confiscated the land.”
Though Te Wheoro and his people aided the Government (1863) in the Waikato war “their lands, amounting to about 200,000 acres, and property were confiscated, and a very little portion of the land was returned.”
Donald McLean, when Native Minister made arrangements about the West Coast Lands, and promised to purchase what the Government required from the Maoris.
But—afterwards “the Government began to seize the land without any pretext, arrested Te Whiti and people in their homes, destroyed their houses, rooted up their crops, and removed their goods, surveyed the land, put it into the market, and it was bought by the English, and very small portions were returned to the natives.”*
* Sir W. Fox and Sir F. D. Bell, Commissioners on the West Coast in 1880, had recommended reserves for the Maoris, at the Waimate Plains 25,000 acres, at Parihaka 25,000 acres. In a final report (as sole Commissioner in 1882) Sir W. Fox declared that the Government (Mr. Bryce being Native Minister) “determined to reduce the continuous reserve on the Waimate Plains by 5,000 acres,” and that a similar reduction by 5,000 acres, of the Parihaka reserve “has been effected by your Excellency's Government.” Blue Book, 1883, C. 3689. pp. 10, 11. And yet some people do not shrink from saying that no “reasonable exception can be taken” to the treatment inflicted on the Maoris.
For months Te Whiti was imprisoned and was never tried.
The refusal to redeem the pledges to reserve lands in the Middle Island was complained of. (These unfulfilled promises are described supra pp. 61 to 63.)
The grievance of issuing certificates of title to ten selected persons of a tribe, was complained of as coercing the majority of the tribal owners “to rest satisfied with no land to live on, and the lands were ultimately alienated by purchase. Another rule was set up by the Court, that if the claimants failed to present themselves to the Court the land should be handed over to others, and thus the lands were sold, including the lands, the homesteads, and the plantations, and the real owners of the land were left destitute. When the Maori race asked that they might be allowed to deal with their own lands by means of their own Committees, the Government declined.*
In cases where Europeans purchased land from Maoris who received money for lands not theirs, the purchase thus made was established to the purchasers. Assessors were indeed appointed for the Courts, but they had no power to say anything with regard to the lands dealt with by the Court… “The rights of the chiefs over their own lands were disallowed by the Government.”…
Therefore we pray for our Maori race that the Queen may cherish us, and accede to our prayer.”
They craved that Maoris “living on their own lands, on those of their ancestors, and within the limits of Maori territory,” might be un-molested, and that a “Maori Commissioner” might be appointed by the Queen to mediate “in matters touching the leasing and selling of the lands of the Queen's Maori subjects.”
They wished that “the greater portion of the taxes levied” on the Maoris might be returned to them.
They wished Maori authorities to supersede the European Judges in the Native Land Court, but so that all the Maori determinations might be submitted through the Queen's Commissioner to the Governor “for confirmation,” that at any rate some Commissioner from England should investigate the “wrongs done, and if he finds them in accordance with what we have now presented before you, that then he should decide whether the lands of your wronged subjects should be returned, or a compensation be made for part of it. We, your Maori race, confidently rely on the Treaty of Waitangi, on its provisions and force… and we pray in the presence of the Queen, that she will confirm her words given in that Treaty, that it may not be trampled upon by the Government of New Zealand in anything they may do to annul that Treaty. Let the Queen live. May God preserve you.”
* After the expulsion, in 1884, of the Ministry containing members responsible for the raid upon Parihaka, a Ministry of which Sir R. Stout was the head, brought forward a Bill on the terms of which the Maoris were consulted, and containing provision for exercise of some power by Maori Committees, with regard to lands, to be acquired from the tribes. How far that provision will be operative remains to be seen.
When the Maoris frame 1 their supplication (which was duly translated by the Rev. F. H. Spencer son of an early Missionary to the Maoris) they would appear to have expected that they might be permitted to “pray in the presence of the Queen.”
Cetewayo had aspired to that honour and under Mr. Gladstone's auspices had obtained it. But no such grace was accorded to the high-born Maoris whose genealogies could be traced as far back at least as the days of the Plantagenets.
Lord Derby treated the chiefs courteously and declared that it was the “desire of Her Majesty's government to treat with equal justice natives and Europeans, and not to allow native rights to be over-ridden where it is in our power to help it.” “I concur (he said) in the sentiments expressed by my father forty years ago, that a treaty is a serious and binding thing whether contracted with natives or with Europeans.” “I do not forget what has been said as to the Treaty of Waitangi.” He added that after hearing what answer might be sent from New Zealand to the complaints made—“we will so far as our power goes, endeavour to do justice.”
Referring to Sir John Gorst's citation of the Constitution Act of New Zealand and the reservation of power by the Crown he hinted that there were “many things in a country and a Government like ours which though they may be strictly legal, are yet so contrary to constitutional practice, and to that which has been for so many years understood to be the law, that it would be very difficult to act upon them, whatever the state of the law may be.”
With a fine forgetfulness of that active section of politicians spoken of by Governor Gore Browne as coveting Maori lands and resolved to obtain them recte si possint, si non quocunque modo—the noble lord said he had “no doubt” that the colonial legislature would be “quite willing” to “remedy any injustice which they may have involuntarily committed.”*
A singular scene occurred as the deputation left the Colonial office. They were in various groups in the quadrangle, and discussing their reception, when Mr. Gladstone, the Prime Minister, passed, and entered into conversation with one of the English members of the deputation. Mr. Gladstone was not only aware that Tawhiao and his friends were before him: he knew that they had been imploring his colleague to regard loyally that Treaty concerning which Mr. Gladstone himself had averred in Parliament that “as far as England was concerned there was not a more strictly and rigorously binding Treaty n existence than that of Waitangi”†
As I watched his countenance those words flashed through my mind, and I was curious to observe how that lip service of former years would be wrought into action in 1884.
* A report of the discussion was published in “The Aborigines Friend,” December, 1884.
† Hansard, 1848, vol. 96, p. 342.
I made no remark, but I heard epithets, not loud but deep, as the Premier flitted from the scene.
The fate of the Petition of the chiefs may be inferred, but must be told briefly.
Lord Derby transmitted it to the Governor of New Zealand.
On 28th March, 1885, the Governor forwarded a Memorandum from his Ministry, which Mr. Stout had recently formed. That Memorandum insinuated that if there had been any infraction of the Treaty of Waitangi before 1865 the Imperial Government was culpable: it insinuated that the powers reserved for the Crown under “Sec. 71 of the Constitution Act 15 and 16 Vict. cap. 72” must be held to have been not intended to endure: and it referred to former Memor anda and former Despatches as rendering it unnecessary to discuss the “allegations of the petition.”
The Governor enclosed copies of Acts respecting Native Lands, the virtue of which,—read by the light of Sir Robert Stout's careful statement with regard to the Owhaoko lands—was often of questionable character when put to the proof.
The same Blue Book (1885, C. 4413) which contains the above Despatch of 1885 contains a singular Despatch of 1st March, 1884, enclosing a Memorandum from the Native Minister in the previous Cabinet (Mr. Atkinson's) on the subject of a letter from Te Wheoro, Tomoana, Tawhai, and Taiaroa (all Members of the New Zealand Parliament) to the Secretary of the Aborigines Protection Society in London.
The writer conceived that the chiefs' letter did not “contain the sentiments” of its signers. One sentence in the Memorandum deserves to be preserved When the reader remembers the performances at Parihaka of the Native Minister in 1881–2, he will appreciate the spirit in which that functionary wrote in January 1884, “for the past four years every effort has been directed to reducing to a minimum matters within the control of the Native Minister.”
The Governor's Despatch concerning Tawhiao's petition was answered on 23rd June, 1885, by Lord Derby, who requested the Governor to transmit the Ministerial Memorandum to Tawhiao. While there was much sympathy with the Maoris in the English Parliament, there appeared to be a feeling that the Imperial Government could only “use its good offices with the Colonial Government with the view of obtaining for the Natives all the consideration which can be given to them.” . . Although therefore Her Majesty's Government cannot undertake to give you specific instructions as to the applicability at the present time of any particular stipulations of a Treaty which it no longer rests with them to carry into effect, they page 169 are confident, as I request that you will intimate to your Ministers that the Government of New Zealand will not fail to protect and promote the welfare of the Natives by just administration of the law, and by a generous consideration of all their reasonable expectations.”* . .
The Aborigines Friend (Journal of the Aborigines Society)† some what sadly contrasted the performance of the Despatch with the Earl's words to Tawhiao that the Government would “as far as our power goes, endeavour to do justice”—but there was a large improvement upon the demeanour of Lord Kimberley towards a previous Maori deputation.
Sympathy and sneering “are of two houses.”
The matter was mentioned in the House of Commons in July, 1885, in a discussion upon the Estimates.
Sir John Gorst reminded Mr. Gladstone of his testimony to the sacredness of the Treaty, and besought the Government to mediate in order to secure for the remnant of the Maori race the rights and the justice to which they were entitled.
Lord Randolph Churchill intervened, and complained of the keeping of information from the House.
On this Mr. Gladstone, in a speech which was nothing to the purpose, unless deception be laudable, had the effrontery to declare that the Government had really provided information sometimes earlier than was altogether justified.”*
It is useless to complain, however, of anything said by Mr. Gladstone, who spends half his time in explaining that he never said what every one believes that he has said, and which he cares not to repudiate until the need to appear in a new character before the footlights has commended itself to his Protean mutability.
He was still a power in the House, and the curtain fell, with his words, upon the last appeal from the Maoris to the Imperial Government.
I once wrote that if in the dreary records of injury done to the Maoris there could have been found one word of rebuke, or even of remonstrance, on the part of Lord Kimberley against wrong, he might escape censure for complicity in the raid upon Parihaka.
Mr. Gladstone deserves more than hypothetical censure. Lord Kimberley may have been incapable of seeing that the maintenance of good faith in the name of the Queen was an Imperial duty, and, therefore, may have been stolid enough to suppose that he treated the matter properly when he told the deputation which accompanied Parore to the Colonial Office (in 1882) that “the Queen was advised by the Ministers of the Colony with regard to these matters, and not by himself.”
* Blue Book, 1885, C. 4492, p. 43.
† May, 1886.
* ‡ Times Report. Contrast this with Lord Kimberley's telegram in July, 1881, that the Governor's Despatch of 26th February, 1881, should be delayed “if possible, but that, as the papers had been promised they must be published if pressed for,”— and the result that they were not published until late in the year, 1882:
That such a washing of his hands could fail to relieve him of responsibility if wrong were done in the name of the Queen during his tenure of office may not have occurred to the noble Lord. But Mr. Gladstone was in no such fool's paradise. He had solemnly declared in the House of Commons that “as far as England was concerned there was not a more strictly and rigorously binding Treaty in existence than the Treaty of Waitangi.”
He had never (so far as I know, though some people may wonder if there is anything which he has not said)—he had never committed himself to the doctrine that the Crown or the Imperial Government could be called upon to tolerate or to sanction a breach of faith.
He has very recently expounded his opinion on the subject. In a speech made at a private house, but reported in the Times and other newspapers (on 4th July, 1887) he declared that the doctrine which seemed sufficient to Lord Kimberley was disgraceful, and even revolutionary.
Lord Hartington had said, or was reported to have said, that practically the Crown did not interfere with colonial legislation, and that practical separation of Ireland from England would be entailed if a separate legislative body such as that of a Colony were set up in Ireland. Mr. Gladstone retorted thus:—
“Then Lord Hartington goes on to something more than a slip of the memory, in a passage which I feel it my duty to grapple with rather broadly, where I find him the propounder of what I call rather a strong revolutionary doctrine . . He says if we refuse the presence of the Irish members we shall lose . . the only title by which Parliament has the right to concern itself with Irish affairs. Did he for a moment consider to what a doctrine he was giving utterance when he used those words?
Have we any representatives in the House of Commons from the Colony of New South Wales? Have we renounced the right under that circumstance of interfering in the affairs of New South Wales? I say on the contrary, we have conceded to New South Wales the right of local self-government. That right of local self-government has been given upon the assumption that it would be well used, reasonably used; and it has been reasonably used, but Parliament has never abandoned its right to interfere if it saw cause upon Imperial grounds in the proceedings of any of the Colonies of this country, (Hear, Hear, And it is in my opinion a doctrine which we might have heard from the most transcendental Radical, from the most ultra-revolutionist, that we were to lose our only title of interfering in Ireland if Irish members should not sit in the House of Commons: . . but gentlemen, I will simply say this to you—that never at any time, under any circumstances by any terms, or by any implication—have we abated in the smallest degree the Imperial powers and prerogatives of the Imperial Parliament over the whole of the Empire of Her Majesty, and Lord Hartington if he does not know that has not learned one of the elementary principles and parts of the question he proposes to discuss.…
We believe and are convinced that nowhere will there be an abuse page break of the powers so conceded; but if I am to take into view the odious supposition that such an abuse may happen in which I do not for a moment believe, I may remind Lord Hartington of what I happen to recollect, that Sir W. Harcourt, in making a very able speech on the second reading of the Irish Government Bill last year, pointed out to the House of Commons that in case of such a misuse of power, the power of Parliment remained intact and the right and duty of Parliament would revive. Well, so much for slips of memory, and so much for what I must say in my opinion is a revolutionary doctrine; and of those who say it is not a revolutionary doctrine I would like to ask what are the present rights of Parliment with regard to the Colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, and half a score of others?”
From which it follows, that not having renounced power to do right, Mr. Gladstone formally sanctioned the doing of wrong. The consciousness of what he was doing or leaving undone may have caused the scowl with which he eyed Tawhiao and his followers in the Downing Street Courtyard.
The failure of Tawhiao's appeal to the Colonial Office has made it necessary to resort to the tribunal of public opinion.
Exposure of past wrongs may be a warning to those who may be tempted to sin hereafter. In his own day a historian may have tribulation, but he is cheered by the knowledge that the tribunal which will really value his work is the serene judgement of the future.
If these pages purported to be a history of New Zealand, they ought to contain due censure of deeds condemned by the judgement of the historian.
Who can estimate so accurately the evil or the good done as the writer who has assiduously followed the current of events in all their windings, although many of those windings may seem to him too trivial to be dwelt upon in his pages?
They aid him in forming his judgement of men and manners just as numberless developments of temper and capacity aid individuals in forming judgement with regard to friends and acquaintances in private life.
A history which awards no censure must be either a dull catalogue, or a ghastly simulacrum.
Who would recognize or prize the pages of the monarch of Latin historians, if robbed of the burning words with which he branded the various careers of the despots or the traitors marshalled before him as he probed the records of the past?
But these pages do not pretend to be a history. Their object is only to gather together a few facts which caused lamentation amongst the Maoris.
Moreover, as to the responsibility of actors in such scenes as are here depicted, there may be differences of opinion. Long arguments have been used, ere now, as to the extent of complicity in wrongdoing, even where complicity is admitted. The existence of any complicity may be denied by one person, in a case where to another it seems clear.
I shall not attempt to define the extent, if any of the complicity of Mr Gladstone or Lord Kimberley in violating the Treaty of Waitangi.
I am content to show that the former solemnly declared it to be rigorously binding on England, and that a few months ago as he solemnly declared that right and duty of the Imperial powers and prerogatives remained in full force to repress wrongs or abuse, if anything so odious should require restraint.
But though I abstain from laying down the law myself, I may put before the Maoris and their friends an opinion given about complicity by no less an authority than a Queen's Counsel, who has more than once held high legal office.
At a Liberal Unionist assemblage on 7th December, 1886, in the presence of Lord Selborne, and other illustrious persons, Sir Henry James thus spoke [Times, 8th December 1886] of the terrible scenes enacted in Ireland by conspirers against law:—“I look upon what has taken place in Ireland as representing almost the individual responsibility of the leaders of the liberal party as it was. There are some of my friends around me who will understand legal phrases. They will recognize what are accessories before the fact, and what are accessories after the fact. (Loud cheers.)page 172
There are men who it is said represent the national power in Ireland, can control that power, and the attacks which are made upon society, and upon law and order, and who yet wilfully remain silent. It is to these men that we are asked to hand over the loyal subjects of the Queen who represent the minority. (Hear hear).”
Commenting on this and other words spoken at the same place, the Times, in a leading article, said, “Mr Gladstone is at least tacitly abetting a system of downright robbery, no longer veiled under the pretence of agrarian injustice.”…nothing that Mr. Gladstone can now say can obliterate the fact that he has tacitly if not explictly approved the use in this cause of weapons which every honest man must reprobate.”
The raid upon Parihaka was committed while Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister and Lord Kimberley was at the Colonial Office. The facts were reported without delay by the Governor, and if the ministry incurred responsibility, individuals such as Sir Henry James described, or collective as Ministers, it was not diminished by the fact that Sir Henry James was their Attorney General, whom they may not have consulted.
The chief prayer of the Maori deputation in 1884 was that the Treaty of Waitangi might be respected. No man had more strongly insisted than Mr. Gladstone upon its binding nature, but he sent them empty away.
He did not even give them words. Of words, at least, his store was always unlimited before.
It may be said that there is now no room left for doing justice to the Maoris. page 173 But the Treaty has never been abrogated, and there is a remnant of their ancestral lands still under their own control.
When the Waikato tribes were smitten by the English troops, and shrunk back in sullen isolation to what was called the King country, (or Tawhiao's territory), they were left undisputed masters of it; and after a time Donald McLean obtained much credit for renewing friendly intercourse with them.
But their mastery of the territory was not disputed by him, nor by his successors in office.
Occasional paragraphs, and casual sayings, complained that the existence of an isolated district in which the Government possessed no land was an intolerable check to civilization; but the pledges of successive Governments had been so frequent and so unguarded that it seemed shameful, while any respect for treaties or promises remained, to suggest that all past guarantees should be boldly broken or disavowed.
The burden of the complaint of the self-styled votaries of civilization was always—” the country must be opened up.”
In May 1879, Sir George Grey being then Premier visited the district, and a great conference of tribes was held at Kopua.
The proposals made by Sir George Grey did not, in spite of his eloquence, and the support of many chiefs, commend themselves to those councillors who held sway over Tawhiao's conduct.
The opinions of those who desired to “open up the country” were thus expressed in a journal which had supported the ministry during the raid upon Parihaka:—
“Our progress it is sad to say means the decadence of the Maori race, or at all events it has meant that… The country held by the Waikatos and the Ngatimaniapotos beyond the Aukati (boundary) line has been left undisturbed till now, but cannot long so remain. Millions of fertile acres are lying waste, while a most profitable and necessary line of railway is blocked. We cannot sit down contentedlv while there is no communication through the interior. The Maoris cannot keep up a separate territory and separate kingdom for ever. They must find a means of living in amity with us.”
The visit of Tawhiao caused much speaking, but it was looked upon as preparatory to a conference about to be held in his own district in March.
“This Government did not in any way interfere with him and his people, so long as they wished to remain living by themselves.”
More meetings took place. In November 1882 (Whitaker being then Premier) the Native Minister, Mr. Bryce, made propositions, at page 174 Whatiwhatihoe, to Tawhiao which, after discussion, were declined under the potent advice of Wahanui a leading Ngatimaniapoto chief.*
In 1881 a Bill, called a Crown and Native Land Rating Bill was brought forward by the Hall Government. It enabled the Governor to proclaim districts within which Native lands were to be rated, and enabled the Treasurer of the Colony to pay such rates out of money appropriated for the purpose: and whenever such native land might thereafter be “sold or exchanged for the first time” (or leased) then the amount paid by the Treasurer was to be repaid to him, and payable as a “duty on such sale exchange or lease.”
Te Wheoro thought “the principles of the Bill monstrous as far as the Natives are concerned. (It) merely means a system of mortgage which is to be exercised over Native lands.… I know the object it will attain will be the confiscation of the Maori lands. The Maoris will not be able to sell their land with all these rates upon it which will go on increasing until ultimately the land will be taken to pay for the rates which the Government have placed upon it. Who knows that the Government may not bring in another Bill to take all the Maoris prisoners*—to arrest them on their own properties for for unpaid rates? Why do you not call this Bill at once the Mortgage and Confiscation of Native Lands Bill? The Bill is altogether opposed to the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi.”
The Bill encountered opposition. One European member who did not object to it altogether—pointed out that it was unjust in proposing “practically to confiscate the Native Lands.”
In 1882 a Bill with the same title was passed, but Major Atkinson, the premier of a Ministry formed in 1887, announced the intention of the Government to repeal it and to deal with the whole subject of “the Maoris paying rates upon their lands in settled districts as their fellow settlers of the European race are doing.” (N.Z. Hansard, 1887. Vol. Iviii. p. 98.)
It is obvious that the subject may be dealt with in a Treaty-respecting or in a Treaty-violating manner. It is equally obvious that if there be a desire to proclaim districts in which a law may operate so as to confiscate Maori lands which the Maoris hold under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, and of which their separate occupation has been always respected since the war of 1863–4, that desire is ungenerous and unjust.
There have been many ways already in which Maori lands have been taken from them.
Soldiers were sent to seize Te Rangitake's lands at the Waitara in 1860.
* The New Zealand Herald thus described him “by his intelligence, by force of will and character, and by his high chieftainship, really the foremost man, . . very tall, . . is a splendid orator. He has a fine command of language, with all those graces of poetic allusion and quotation, of references to ancient tradition, and the deeds of famous ancestors, essential to the Maori orator.”
* N.Z. Hansard 1881. Vol. xxxviii. p. 576. The spirit of prophecy was upon Te Wheoro. He spoke thus on the 20th July 1881, and in November the raid upon Parihaka was made and more than 2000 Maoris were dealt with as already told in these pages.
Waikato was invaded by an English general with ten thousand troops in 1863; and a proclamation of confiscation in Waikato followed the war.
Dr. Pollen (supra p. 147–8) described in Parliament some of the more hidden ways in which some Maoris lost their heritage. The Heretaunga Commission revealed other successful arts.
A power to proclaim districts within which new laws shall operate might cover almost any ground.
That the Maoris have cause to shrink from the clutch of new laws none can deny who have studied the past.
When Wahanui gave evidence before a Select Committee of the House in 1884 as to the best route for a North Island Trunk Railway (which would traverse the so-called King-country) he declared that he would willingly co-operate with the Government with regard to the railway, but that he and his people “wished that all the final arrangements connectea with our lands should be settled first.” (Report of Committee, p. 16).
Before the same Committee Major Atkinson (p. 62) in comparing two lines, used the remarkable words—“it seems to me we should get at the troublesome natives practically as well by one line as by the other.”
Major Atkinson was a member of the ministry which uprooted Te Whiti's settlement in 1881, and he is now the premier of the colony.
Who the troublesome natives were, who were thus glanced at, it might be difficult to define. The trouble of the natives is well-known. They yearn to be left unpersecuted; to live, and at the appointed time to die, on the lands solemnly guaranteed to them by Treaty.
If their term of existence as a human family be brief, at least they might be allowed to gather their robes around them and depart in peace.
They did not trample on Europeans when they were powerful, and it would be tyrannous to mete to them a measure which they were too magnanimous to apply to others.
Proposals have been made from time to time to temper the hardships which a ruthless advance would inflict upon the Maoris in that isolated domain which for more than a quarter of a century has been respected as peculiarly their own. In 1882, when the chief Parore was treated by Lord Kimberley with civilized contempt, a scheme was propounded for forming an Association to purchase the Maori lands and distribute perpetual annuities amongst the Maoris.
The scheme is set forth in a Blue Book of 1883 (C. 3689, p. 1) and honoured names are amongst its propounders.
The Secretary of State forwarded it to Sir Arthur Gordon, then Governor of New Zealand, and the Governor's prudent comments upon it are on the 35th page of the same document.
Other schemes, of more or less kindred character, have been proposed.
There is but one solution of the problem which can be honourable to England or the colony, and just to the Maoris.page 176
It is not a scheme; it is a duty.
The prayer of the Maoris, when Mr. Gladstone passed by on the other side at Downing Street in 1884, was that England would respect the Treaty on whose terms the Maoris relied.
To respect that Treaty ought to be the pride, and is the duty of all honourable Englishmen—of all subjects of the Crown.
These brief pages are my own contribution towards a consummation, devoutly to be wished for, which the public men of New Zealand have still the power to bring about, if they will be just and fear not.