The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Appendix for 1873
Appendix for 1873.
The Imperial Government had been most unwillingly badgered into the idea of interfering in any way in the case of New Zealand, after the rejection by the House of Commons of the New Zealand Land Company's Bill for the Colonization of that country, in the year 1838; for both Lord John Russell and his successor in the Colonial Office—Lord Normanby, the father of the present Governor of Queensland—were, like the majority in the House of Commons, dead against the measure. Yielding, however, to the pressure from without, they had resolved at length to send out a British Consul, forsooth, to New Zealand; and Captain Hobson, R. N., who had himself visited and reported on the Island, as Captain of H. M. S. Rattlesnake, was nominated for the appointment.
My pamphlet was published on the 7th or 8th of July, 1839, and till that period the idea of New Zealand being within the Commission granted to Captain Phillip, the first Governor of New South Wales, had never been heard of, as I ascertained at the time, in the Colonial Office. Nay, so entirely unacquainted with the real state of the case were the Home authorities of that day, that a letter was actually addressed by Lord Normanby to the Attorney and the Solicitor-General of England, of date 30th May, 1839, soliciting these Law authorities to inform him "whether it would be lawful for Her Majesty to annex to the Territory of New South Wales any Territory in New Zealand, of which the sovereignty might be acquired by the British Crown; and whether the Legislative Authority of the Governor and Council of New South Wales could then be exercised over British subjects inhabiting that Territory."page 88
Captain Hobson, who was then waiting for his instructions in Downing Street, obtained a copy of my pamphlet as soon as it had issued from the press; and I ascertained immediately thereafter, from naval gentlemen connected with Somerset House, that he highly approved of it, and that he considered the course it recommended, by annexing New Zealand at once to the British Crown, as the only one that ought to have been adopted in the case.
The Government Letter of Instructions to Captain Hobson is dated 14th August, 1839, and is signed by Lord Normanby. It is quite evident from that letter that his Lordship had not only read my pamphlet, which had then been published about five weeks, but had resolved on pursuing the very course it recommended, by treating New Zealand, from the first, as a Dependency of New South Wales, under the Commission granted to Governor Phillip, in the year 1787, which was thus acknowledged to be still in force; for the very same reasons are assigned in that letter for the interference of H. M. Government in New Zealand, as I had suggested in my pamphlet for the immediate annexation of that whole group of islands to Great Britain, and precisely the same course as I had recommended was virtually pursued. For although Captain Hobson was authorised in his Letter of Instructions, first to acquire the Sovereignty of the islands for Her Majesty by concessions from the natives, and then to establish a Government over them, a Government was actually established and laws passed for New Zealand by the Legislature of New South Wales from the very first. And can any person suppose that anything of the kind could have been done by the mere authority of a Secretary of State, if New Zealand had not been included in the original Commission of 1787, as a virtual Dependency of New South Wales ? In that case the proceeding of the New South Wales Legislature was regular and appropriate, whereas it would otherwise have been a piece of monstrous usurpation.
Immediately after receiving his instructions, Captain Hob- page 89 son proceeded to Sydney in H. M. S. Druid; and after having a small body of Government officials organised by Sir George Gipps—the local Governor—to accompany him, he proceeded to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, where he landed on the 29th January, 1840.
"Captain Hobson had now," observes an intelligent historian of New Zealand, "a duty which has fallen to the lot of few British Governors—the declaration of Her Majesty's sovereignty over the country he was recommended first to acquire and then to rule. This task weighed on his broken spirit during the dreary solitude of the voyage to the Antipodes; and when he contrasted the multitudes of armed warriors in the neighbourhood of Kororarika with his own defenceless position, he saw the declaration could not be made without the almost unanimous permission of the people. But how to obtain this without exciting their suspicions was a delicate and dangerous task."*
* "The Story of New Zealand—Past and Present, Savage and Civilized." By Arthur S. Thomson, M.D., Surgeon-Major, 58 Regt. London, 1859. VoL II.
The only ground for this proceeding, on the part of Captain Hobson, was his own strong view of the extreme urgency of the case; and the only moral support he had from any quarter on the occasion was that which he derived from my pamphlet, urging the propriety and the necessity of the course he had now adopted.
* "New Zealand and its Colonization." By William Swainson, Attorney-General for New Zealand. London, 1859. Page 83.
† Captain Hobson's proclamation was not issued a moment too soon; for in the month of August, 1840, the French emigrant shipLe Comte de Paris, escorted by the French frigateL'Aube, arrived at Akaroa, on the Middle Island, with the view of forming a French Colony in that island; landing fifty-seven emigrants for the purpose, who thus found themselves French settlers in a British Colony.
In the meantime, the Governor and Legislature of New South Wales, having at once taken up New Zealand as a Dependency of that Colony, were rendering noble service, and such as could scarcely have at that time been rendered on the spot, to the future Colony. On the 9th of June, 1840, a Bill, which was subsequently passed, entitled "The New South Wales Laws' Extension to New Zealand Bill," was read a second time in the Legislative Council. The main object of this Bill was, in accordance with the strong recommendation I had given in my pamphlet, to maintain the right of pre-emption, both past and future, on behalf of the Crown over all lands in the islands. Commissioners were appointed under this Act to superintend the sales of all Crown Lands in New Zealand—to restrict all alleged purchases from the natives to four square miles in each case, and not to sanction even these unless there should be evidence of a fair consideration having been given to the natives for the land.
* They were so already, and from the first.
The contemplated legislation by the Sydney Government had raised a prodigious ferment among the alleged purchasers of princely estates in New Zealand. Mr. Busby, of the Bay of Islands, whose salary of £500 a year, payable from the Treasury of New South Wales, as British Resident in New Zealand, under the mere order of the Secretary of State, had, for seven years previous, been always a great grievance to the inhabitants of that Colony, was one of the first claimants for redress under the new law, on the ground of his having made large purchases of land from the natives as an alleged sovereign and independent people. But the Government stood firm on the occasion, leaving Mr. Busby for his remedy to the future Executive of New Zealand.
The famous case, however—thecause celébre of the early history of New Zealand—was a claim of the late W. C. Wentworth, Esq., whom the colonists of New South Wales have recently been canonizing or deifying as a patriot of the first water, on the arrival of his remains from England; and who had, for many years after this period, been one of the Representatives of the City of Sydney, and subsequently President of the Legislative Council or Upper House of the Local Parliament. Not satisfied, it seems, with being one of the largest speculators in land and stock in New South Wales, that gentleman had fixed his eye on a principality in New Zealand; and had duly purchased, as he alleged, from the mere handful of natives who then inhabited the Middle Island, the whole, or nearly the page 93 whole, of that island—a tract of country comprising twenty millions of acres! The bargain, or rather treaty, for the cession of this territory had been duly concluded between the high contracting parties—Mr. Wentworth, and a few kindred spirits, on the one part, and those sovereign and independent chiefs, E Toki, E Waru, E Piti, Rauparaha, Ka Witi, &c., on the other: the deed was drawn up in due form in the English and New Zealand languages; and the parchment was signed, sealed, and delivered, in the presence of approved witnesses, by their High Mightinesses, the States of the Middle Island; to whom Mr. Wentworth had faithfully paid the stipulated number of English blankets (of the coarsest description), of Birmingham muskets (made to sell), and of kegs of gunpowder, besides a variety of other unsaleable articles from some warehouse in Sydney. Mr. Wentworth argued his claim in person before the Council at great length and with great ability; enlarging upon the rights of sovereign and independent nations, and especially of the chiefs aforesaid, with whom he had had the distinguished honour of making the aforesaid treaty; proudly displaying his parchment with the signs manual and seals of the sovereign and independent chiefs aforesaid; and concluding by asking nothing from the generosity or charity, but demanding everything from the justice, of England.
Sir George Gipps deserves the greatest credit for the ability with which he exposed and set aside this peculiarly barefaced and impudent claim—setting forth at great length the practice of all European nations since the discovery of America, as well as of the United States of that country, in regard to the purchase and sale of the lands of the Aborigines; showing that the right of preemption was uniformly asserted by the colonising power; pointing out the injury and ruin that would inevitably result from a different practice; pleading the principle which his own immediate predecessor—Sir Richard Bourke—had established, and the Imperial Government had recognised, in the case of Port Phillip; and concluding by literally overwhelming Mr. Wentworth and his notorious attempt to appro- page 94 priate, for his own private benefit, the country which might otherwise become the happy home of myriads of his fellow countrymen from the United Kingdom, with a torrent of sarcasm which it is no marvel that that gentleman was never able either to forgive or to forget.
The following is an Extract from the speech of Sir George Gipps in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, on Thursday, 9th July, 1840, on the second reading of the Bill for appointing Commissioners to inquire into the claims to grants of land in New Zealand. It surely deserves to be inserted in the archives of New Zealand, as an illustration of the manner in which that country and its inhabitants were so happily delivered from the degradation and thraldom to which they would otherwise have been subjected under the pseudo-patriots of New South Wales. Sir George Gipps was unquestionably deserving of the highest honour on the occasion.
"I have not heard one reasonable and disinterested person object to the main purpose of this Bill. Of all the witnesses examined before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1838, no one was so wild as to say that all purchases from the natives of New Zealand were to be acknowledged; no one pretended, because the Narraganset Indians sold Connecticut, as we have been told they did, for a certain number of old coats and pairs of breeches, or because they sold Rhode Island (as I find they did) for a pair of spectacles, that therefore Her Majesty is bound to acknowledge as valid, purchases of a similar nature in New Zealand. The witnesses whom I have alluded to all considered the New Zealanders as minors or as wards of Chancery, incapable of managing their own affairs, and therefore entitled to the same protection as the law of England affords to persons under similar or analogous circumstances. To set aside a bargain on the ground of fraud, or of the incapacity of one of the parties to understand the nature of it, or his legal inability to execute it, is a proceeding certainly not unknown to the law of England; nor is it in any way contrary to the spirit of equity; the injustice would be in confirming any such bargain; there would indeed be no excuse for Her Majesty's advisers, if, by the exercise of her prerogative, she were to confirm lands to persons who pretend to have purchased them at the rate of four hundred acres for a penny; for that is, as near as I can calculate it, the price paid, by Mr. Wentworth and his associates, for their twenty millions of acres in the Middle Island.
"A great deal was said by this gentleman, in the course of his address to the Council, of corruption and jobbery, as well as of the love which page 95 men in office have for patronage. But, gentlemen, talk of corruption I talk of jobbery! why if all the corruption which has defiled England since the expulsion of the Stuarts were gathered into one heap, it would not make such a sum as this; if all the jobs which have been done since the days of Sir Robert Walpole, were collected into one job, they would not make so big a job as the one which Mr. Wentworth asks me to lend a hand in perpetrating;—the job, that is to say, of making to him a grant of twenty millions of acres, at the rate of one hundred acres for a farthing ! The Land Company of New South Wales has been said to be a job: one million of acres at eighteen pence an acre has been thought to be a pretty good job; but it absolutely vanishes into nothing by the side of Mr. Wentworth's job.
"In the course of this gentleman's argument, he quoted largely from Vattel and the Law of Nations, to prove the right of independent people to sell their lands; and he piteously complained of the grievous injustice which we should do to the New Zealanders, if we were to deny them the same right; and the Council may recollect that when I reminded him that he was here to maintain his own rights, and not those of the New Zealanders, he replied, not inaptly, that, as his was a derivative right, it was necessary for him to show that it had previously existed in the persons from whom he derived it; it was, in fact, necessary for him to show that the right existed in the nine savages, who were lately in Sydney, to sell the Middle Island, in order to show his own right to purchase it from them at the rate of four hundred acres for a penny !!
"Lastly, gentlemen, it has been said, that the principles on which this Bill is founded are derived from the times of Cortez and Pizarro; times, when not only the right of uncivilized nations, but the rights also of humanity, were disregarded. To this I answer, that whatever may be the changes (and thank Heaven they are many) which the progress of religion and enlightenment have produced amongst us, they are all in favour of the savage, and not against him. It would be indeed the very height of hypocrisy in Her Majesty's Government to abstain, for religion's sake, from despoiling these poor savages of their lands, and yet to allow them to be despoiled by individuals being subjects of Her Majesty. It is in the spirit of that enlightenment which characterises the present age, that the British Government is now about to interfere in the affairs of New Zealand. That it interferes against its will, and only under the force of circumstances, is evident from Lord Normanby's despatch; the objects for which we go to New Zealand are clearly set forth in it, and amongst the foremost is the noble one of rescuing a most interesting race of men from that fate which contact with the nations of Christendom has hitherto invariably and unhappily brought upon the uncivilized tribes of the earth.
"One of the gentlemen who appeared before you did not scruple to avow at this table, and before this Council, that he can imagine no motive Her Majesty's Ministers can have in desiring the acquisition of page 96 New Zealand, but the increase of their own patronage. The same gentleman is very probably also unable to imagine any other reason for the exercise of Her Majesty's prerogative than the oppression of her subjects. These, gentlemen, may be Mr. Wentworth's opinions: I will not insult you by supposing that they are yours. You, I hope, still believe that there is such a thing as public virtue; and that integrity is not utterly banished from the bosoms of men in office. To your hands, therefore, I commit this Bill. You will, I am sure, deal with it according to your consciences, and with that independence which you ought to exercise; having a due regard for the honour of the Crown and interests of the subject; whilst for myself, in respect to this occupation of New Zealand by Her Majesty, I may, I trust, be permitted to exclaim, as did the standard-bearer of the Tenth Legion, when Caesar first took possession of Great Britain—'Et ego certe ojficium meum, Reipublicœ, atque Imperatori prcestitero;' fearless alike of what people may say or think of me, I will perform my duty to the Queen and the public."
Such, then, are the services I have been enabled to render in connection with the colonization of New Zealand. It would, doubtless, have been well for that Colony had my recommendations been more fully carried out. I am happy, however, to have had the honour of contributing at least one foundation stone towards the noble superstructure.
J. G. O'Connor, Printer, &C.,105 York-street, Sydney.