Memorandum by Mr. McLean,
The Native and Defence Minister submits to His Excellency the following brief sketch of the aspect of Native affairs:—
A calm reviewal of Native affairs at the present moment affords the assurance that the attitude assumed by the different tribes throughout the Island is of a most satisfactory character. The majority are either engaged on roads and other public works, or are evincing an anxiety to follow the example of those of their countrymen who are thus helping to open up the country. The taste for peaceful avocations is resuming its away, and each year sees an addition to the breadth of land under cultivation by the Natives. It is gratifying to find that the ex-rebels who made their submission last year are fully carrying out their pledges of amity, and are living in peace and quiet; and that the behaviour of the prisoners lately under sentence for their participation in acts of rebellion, and who have been released from confinement, is such as to warrant the leniency which has been shown to them.
The most interesting feature at present in connection with the Native race is the prevalence of a strong desire for the education of the children, and for the acquirement by them of the English language. For this purpose the Maoris have, by their contributions aided the Government in the erection of schools; and the progress made by the pupils has been far more rapid than could ever have been hoped for.page 111
A marked moderation is perceptible in the tone of those tribes who have hitherto been the most violent in opposition. Even among the most extreme section of Hauhaus, that are under the immediate control of Tawhiao, the so-named King, there has arisen and been expressed a desire to meet His Excellency and the Native Minister. Owing, however, to various tribal differences, the interview is likely to be deferred; and it has been deemed advisable that no undue impatience should be displayed to hasten negotiations until a more complete understanding shall have been arrived at between the opposite factions of the party. To effect this wished-for object no pains are spared, and there is every probability that its attainment at no distant period will be the prelude to a satisfactory disposal or all difficulties.
Te Kooti, who during his career has proved himself a formidable foe, is now a miserable fugitive, having cast himself for protection upon the King party, amongst which he is no more than a prisoner at large during quiet behaviour. Several chiefs of importance, in different parts of the Island, who had not made their appearance in the European settlements since the beginning of the late war, have spontaneously come out of, their seclusion and visited the Native Minister.
The Native Minister regrets to have to inform His Excellency that a considerable failure has taken place this season in the potato crop, and that the result is likely to be a certain degree of distress on the part of the Natives. The Government have, however, taken steps to afford relief to the tribes which appear the most probable sufferers, and are distributing a quantity of seed wheat and other cereals, for which the ground is being prepared with the utmost alacrity. The Natives are also repairing their old flour-mills, and are on all sides resuming the industrial pursuits which they had more or less abandoned for several years.
At no time have there been fairer evidences of peaceful progress on the part of the Natives than at the present; and the results already apparent from the policy of conciliation adopted towards them render it a matter of little doubt that its continuance must lead to a prosperous future for both races.
Among the subjects for congratulation which are submitted to His Excellency, not the least is the fact that all military operations in the field have come to an end; and that the colonial force is released from active service, and is engaged on the construction of public works.
His Excellency's tour through the interior of the Northern Island has doubtless been fully notified to the Imperial authorities; and the Native Minister has only to add, on this point, that it has been productive of the most beneficial results.