Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir George Grey, K.C.B., to the Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.
Sir,—Government House, Auckland, 26th August, 1864.
I have the honour to transmit, for your information, the copy of a memorandum which I have received from my Responsible Advisers, and which they have requested me to transmit to you, in which, in reference to your Despatches No. 43 of the 26th of April, and, No. 65 of the 26th of May, 1864, they state that they deem it to be an imperative duty to place on record without delay their protest against the introduction into this colony of a new form of government, under which Native affairs would be administered partly by the Governor and partly by his Advisers.page 91
- 2. I have given this memorandum the best consideration in my power, and beg to offer the following remarks upon it: My Responsible Advisers think that practically no difference of opinion as yet exists between the Governor and themselves. What constitutes a difference of opinion admits of question. I think that several discussions which have taken place between my Responsible Advisers and myself regarding the terms which should be given to the Natives who have been in arms, regarding the confiscation of Native territory, the entering upon military operations, and other cognate subjects, constitute differences of opinion upon important points connected with Imperial interests; but, as copies of the greater part of such discussions have been transmitted to you for your information, you will be able to determine whether or not I am right in thinking that they show that considerable differences of opinion between my Responsible Advisers and myself have, from time to time, arisen upon subjects which are of great Imperial concern.
- 3. I would next state that I am of opinion that the publication in the colony of your Despatch No. 43, of the 26th of April, has produced a very happy effect upon the Native population here. To it I attribute in no small degree, and in spite of adverse causes, the surrender of the rebel Natives at Tauranga, and I believe its contents and the publication of them will go far to bring the war to a close in several districts of the colony. In all this I may be wrong, but I have carefully observed and considered recent events, and as the result I have arrived at the conclusion I have above stated.
- 4. Since the direction of Native affairs was originally assumed by the Colonial Ministers, a great change has taken place in this country. Then a war had recently been in appearance, concluded, and there seemed grounds to hope that peace between the two races might be permanently preserved. Now a very different state of things prevails. What may with justice be regarded as a civil war is raging in New Zealand. The parties engaged in this conflict are the whole of the European population and a part of the Natives on one side, the remaining portion of the Native population on the other. Both parties to this war are subjects of the Queen and citizens of the Empire, and they mutually allege against each other wrongs. Great Britain, to bring this war to a close, furnishes an army of nearly ten thousand men, a considerable naval force, and a large military and naval expenditure.
- 5. The Colonial Ministers at present possess and exercise here, upon all ordinary subjects, all the powers usually held and exercised by Ministers in those countries where the system of Responsible Government prevails. In addition, they now, as I understand them, protest against not being allowed to exercise absolutely powers which would virtually give them a very large control over the naval and military forces and the naval and military expenditure of Great Britain.
- 6. I think that in deciding upon the protest now transmitted the following points should be considered. The Colonial Ministers are responsible to the General Assembly for colonial matters; but, as I will presently show, the General Assembly does not even in such matters exercise such an active supervision or control over their acts and proceedings as the Parliament of Great Britain exercises over those of the British Ministry; and when it is remembered that the General Assembly is in no way responsible for the mode in which Her Majesty's naval and military forces are employed, or for the naval and military expenditure of Great Britain, I think that that body would exercise little or no control over the Colonial Ministers in reference to those matters.
- 7. The members of the General Assembly are collected from great distances, are drawn away from their own private avocations, to which they are anxious to return as speedily as possible. The settlements from which they come are also removed by long distances from the capital, and have frequently interests of a totally different character from those of the population inhabiting districts where there are many Natives. From their remoteness from the seat of Government the information the inhabitants of such settlements possess regarding public affairs is limited: it is frequently only such as the Ministry of the day thinks proper to suffer to transpire. Hence less interest is taken in what may be termed general public affairs, as distinguished from provincial public affairs, thau would be imagined, and public opinion regarding general public affairs is, in the settlements remote from the capital, formed upon limited, often erroneous, information. When, therefore, the General Assembly meets, some time elapses before the members can thoroughly acquaint themselves with what has passed since their last meeting and ere they have fully mastered this the time for their separation has almost arrived. Sometimes also papers upon important subjects are only called for after the Assembly has met for some time. I believe in some cases the printing of these papers has been hardly completed when the Assembly ban separated. The sessions of the Assembly are also not only short, but by far too infrequent to enable them to exercise such a control over public affairs as is exercised by the Parliament of Great Britain.
- 8. For instance, the General Assembly met at its last session on the 19th of October, 1863, and was prorogued on the 14th of December of the same year, after a session of only fifty-six days, and it may probably not meet again until the month of March, 1865—that is, not until after an interval of fifteen months.
- 9. Whilst the General Assembly exercises so feeble a control over public affairs, what is termed the Cabinet bears but a faint resemblance to the strong and powerful Ministry which can be formed in Great Britain. Since September, 1861, there have been three Ministries in New Zealand. The present Cabinet consists of five members, one of whom has been absent in. England during the greater portion of the time of the existence of the present Ministry. Two other members of the Ministry have been frequently absent from the capital; so that the direction of affairs, involving largely the interests of Great Britain in the employment of her military and naval forces and the expenditure of her funds, has rested at such times in the hands of the remaining two members of the Ministry, who are the two partners who compose one of the legal firms in the Town of Auckland. And it was on advice thus tendered to him that the Governor was frequently expected to act in the most important affairs of Imperial concern. The protest I now enclose is made by this Cabinet, and not by the General Assembly, and it is made before your last despatch is known in the colony, and before public opinion has been in any way formed or expressed on the subject.
- 10. The position of the Governor in this colony is also peculiar, from the relations existing between the Mother-country and a colony. The Governor is the person who here issues in his ownpage 92name all orders to the chief military and naval authorities; such orders are, in fact, openly and ostensibly his orders, and he is apparently responsible for all acts done under them; and when his Ministers require him to sign such orders he is really their servant, and yet is responsible to the British Government for the orders they compel him to give, and which may be repugnant to his own wishes and feelings; and he has also here none of the facilities for forming a new Ministry which the Crown in England or the Governors of neighbouring colonies possess; for, from the great distance of the several settlements from each other, the defective information they possess on public affairs, and the rare and short occasions on which New Zealand statesmen are brought together in the General Assembly, it is almost impossible for the Governor to consult them as to whether they will, or will not, form a new Government, or for them to determine what support they can reckon upon in the General Assembly if they undertake to do so.
- 11. It should also be remembered, in reference to the two distinct populations in this country, that the Native population, who are the largest landed proprietors in the Northern Island, are unrepresented in the General Assembly: the other population, the European one, is the governing body. Necessarily in a civil war the feeling of race exercises some influence, and men's passions more or less lead them to adopt extreme views, and too hasty and often ill-considered acts, in which they are sustained by a public opinion to which there is little or no counterpoise, so that surrounded by such influences it would be very difficult for a Minister, endued with the very calmest mind to arrive at a correct conclusion; and this difficulty is greatly increased when he has to please a constituency in which almost universal suffrage prevails, and which is composed of one race engaged in a civil war with a race which it is to govern, and which is to be subdued by an army supplied by the Mothercountry.
- 12. Great Britain, in whose service the officers and men of her naval and military forces have engaged themselves, often from the highest motives, owes something to the feelings of these officers and men, and something to the welfare of the wives and children of her soldiers; and I do not think that when two populations are arrayed against one another, as is now the case in this colony, the uncontrolled power over the lives, actions, and honour of these officers and men, and over the welfare of their wives and children, should be handed over to irresponsible persons, or at least but feebly responsible to a Colonial Legislature, the seats of the members of which depend upon constituencies who must, by the course of events, be more or less excited against another race which is unrepresented in that Legislature.
- 13. I have used the words "irresponsible persons," for in truth a Colonial Ministry cannot be said to be responsible to the Parliament of Great Britain, nor even in any indirect manner to the British taxpayer, whose resources they would direct the expenditure of. I cannot but think that, whilst a civil war prevails in New Zealand, Imperial officers, responsible to the British Government, should exercise such a control over the management of public affairs as is directed in your despatch against which my Responsible Advisers protest. At the time of their protest being made they had not sanctioned the publication in the colony of your Despatch No. 65, of the 26th May, 1864, so that no expression of public opinion had taken place here regarding it. I am not at all satisfied that when this subject has been fully considered public opinion will be adverse to the instructions you have issued for the management of public affairs during the present crisis. I think that all would see that these instructions, which have been issued to meet a temporary emergency, would lapse the moment a normal state of things was restored in the colony, and that they were suited to meet the exigencies of the present moment and to provide for the restoration of peace to the country. I think no doubt should be entertained of the good sense and good feeling of the inhabitants of New Zealand, that you should feel satisfied that you will be supported by a large majority in this country in doing that which is right, and that when, after full consideration, you have determined that a certain line of policy is that which justice to Great Britain and to both races in this colony requires to be pursued, you may direct that it should be carried out in the full confidence that the Governor here will, when all the facts become known, have ample support in giving effect to your instructions.
The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.
I remain, &c.,