Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir George Grey, K.C.B., to the
Right Hon. Edward Cardwell.
Sir,—Government House, Wellington, 2nd February, 1866.
I have been requested by my Responsible Advisers to transmit for your information the copy of a letter addressed by Sir William Martin to the colonial Minister for Native Affairs.
- 2. My Responsible Advisers inform me that it is with regret they find their views opposed to some of those of so good and able a man as Sir W. Martin is.
- 3. In order that full information may be afforded to you upon, perhaps, the most important point raised in Sir W. Martin's letter, I beg to offer the following remarks:—
- 4. Sir W. Martin states: "The object of the war in this country was to repress and terminate the efforts which the Natives were making to set up a separate nationality—an effort dangerous to both races; but, though that effort was a great folly, it was not a great crime."
- 5. This view of the case appears to me only to embrace part of the problem which should be presented for consideration, in order to render it possible to form a correct and safe conclusion upon a subject which is of a very difficult and complex nature.page 102
- 6. In this Island two races are living together—a barbarous and a civilized race. The barbarous race is now in the minority, and each year this minority will be more apparent. But it occupies the central strongholds of the country. The people belonging to it do not live generally as a scattered population, but as communities under chiefs. They have been allowed to arm themselves well, are practised in the use of arms, and are naturally warlike. Wherever Natives are, there is a body of armed and organized warriors, ready for instant action.
- 7. Besides occupying the central strongholds of the country, the people of this race occupy many places between European settlements, in the vicinity of and even in the midst of those settlements.
- 8. The European race live scattered through the country, and in settlements dispersed at various points along the coast-line of the Island. Many of them were born in the country, have attained to middle age, and their children are in their turn growing up here. They have thus no sense of want of right to be here, or of being an intruding population. Between themselves and many of the Natives strong and long-enduring bonds of amity have existed, and still exist.
- 9. Until recently these Europeans have neither been armed or trained to the use of arms, nor placed under or habituated to act under leaders. For purposes of outrage or violence the barbarous population had therefore many advantages upon their side.
- 10. An armed attempt to set up a separate nationality and Native King by a barbarous population, so circumstanced in reference to a civilized population such as I have described, becomes a very serious matter.
- 11. In such an attempt the civilized population, who have no interest but self-preservation, must necessarily suffer the most. Those of the barbarous who engage in such an attempt may be clever, and themselves much advanced in civilization; but the worst and most violent of their countrymen, are almost certain to join them, and to break loose from all control. They have little to lose, and in a few hours can destroy property which the European population has been years in painfully and patiently accumulating. The national Government attempted to be set up under such circumstances can necessarily have no power to repress violence, or to punish evil-doers amongst those who claim to be its subjects. Such men, even when mixed up with the European settlements, are certain, after committing crimes, to claim their nationality as an excuse for not acknowledging European tribunals which would punish them for their offences; and this claim on their part will be supported by all their countrymen who desire disturbances, or may hope to gain anything by them. At the hands of such men both the well-conducted of their countrymen and the European population must suffer great wrongs. It might be said that to proclaim that a barbarous nationality has been set up in a country circumstanced as this is, is to proclaim that every man who pleases to acknowledge that nationality may do as he likes, and that all law is abolished. Such was, in fact, in many instances the result, even within the limits of the European settlements, of the attempt to set up a separate nationality in New Zealand.
- 12. In forming a judgment on the nature and circumstances of such an attempt all this must be borne in mind.
- 13. When once the serious and terrible evils which spring from such an attempt are made manifest, I think it becomes the duty of the European population, and of the well-disposed amongst the Native population, to take every precaution within their power which they can take without acting unjustly or unmercifully, not only to repress and terminate such an attempt, but to prevent such an attempt from being ever again made.
- 14. This is no less necessary for the protection of the Natives than of the Europeans: not to do it would be to insure the ultimate destruction of the Native race. To this end my aims have been mainly directed. The thought of punishing those who have been engaged in the attempt to set up a separate nationality, and who have entailed so large a loss of life and property, and such a vast expenditure on the country, has been entirely subordinated to the idea of doing that which might prevent such evils from falling on the two races for the future; and in these views I have been thoroughly supported by the General Assembly and the whole talent and influence of the country. In fact my views were their views; there has been no essential difference of opinion between us.
- 15. I do not mean to say that there are not violent men in New Zealand; but even in the midst of the worst outrages, and during times of the greatest excitement, the General Assembly has shown a scrupulous care for the rights, both present and prospective, of the Native race: instead of waiting for the termination of hostilities to make provision for the future of that race, they have even in the midst of wars and outrages carefully devoted themselves to enacting laws for the security of the future welfare of the Native people. I feel sure that upon the whole the debates, the legislation, and the acts of the General Assembly will hereafter be admitted to be creditable to their humanity, and to the nation to which they belong; and I have no reason to think that Sir William Martin would not agree with me in the opinion which I have thus expressed.
I have, &c.,
The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell.