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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

Hoisting The Flag

Hoisting The Flag.

A tall flagstaff had been erected, and from this was flown the flag brought out by the Tory, the flag that had been given by the British Government to the Maori chiefs in 1834. It is a handsome bit of bunting, and may still be seen any day of the week if a Shaw, Savill and Albion steamer happens to be in port, for with a very slight difference it was afterwards adopted by that company as its house flag.

So soon as the flag was run up the Tory fired a salute of twenty-one guns, and the Maoris got very excited, giving a most thrilling war-dance on the beach and executing other evolutions, including the firing off of their newly-acquired guns. After the Maoris had worked off their excitement the hangis, or Maori ovens, were opened, and pakeha and brown man fraternised in a great feast of pork, fish, and potatoes. The healths of the chiefs and people were drunk in champagne, but we must assume that the wine did not get past the first table, and then, amid the cheers of the Tory party and the shouts of the Maoris, Wakefield announced formally the taking of possession of the harbour and district on behalf of the New Zealand Company.

It is just as well to remember that everything had been done by the Company off its own bat, even to the hoisting of the flag, and it is not surprising to find that the leaders afterwards came into conflict with Governor Hobson, whose deputy, Lieutenant Willoughby Shortland, came along some months later with the real Union Jack, and wanted things done in the proper constitutional and official manner. Port Nicholson people accused Hobson of trying to induce the new arrivals to go North.

There is no doubt he did favour the North, and tried to induce the people bound for Nelson to settle at Mahurangi, in the Hauraki Gulf, instead. However, these wrangles between North and South, which figure so prominently in the annals of the early settlement of Wellington, are no disgrace to either side. Hobson did everything as the representative of the Crown, and even if the people at Port Nicholson did want to "run the show," their enthusiasm only shows to what a vigorous type of people the present generation owes the wonderful legacy it has inherited.

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Of course law and order were bound to win in the end, and the upshot of this struggle between Company and Crown was that the Company waived its rights—which, it must be confessed, were never too secure—and received a certain amount of land for the money that it had actually expended in establishing settlement in the colony, the ratio being one acre for every five shillings expended.

After the Wairau massacre, in the winter of 1843, the troubles of the Company increased tenfold. Their main difficulty had been to carry on negotiations with the natives for the sale of land—negotiations which were steadily discouraged by the Colonial Office. After the massacre pakeha prestige receded, and the affairs of the Company became more and more involved. On all sides they were beset with claims for compensation and redress, and their capital was all expended. As a last resort the Company in 1849 claimed compensation from the Imperial Government, and eventually after protracted inquiries and investigations the Government, in 1852, fixed the amount of compensation to be paid the Company at £200,000, a sum which was settled as a debt on the waste lands of New Zealand. Such was the inglorious end of the New Zealand Company.

Opinions differ as to whether the Company was a beneficent or an evil influence on the colony. Swainson, in "New Zealand and Its Colonisation," wrote: "Taking a general view of their proceedings, it must be accorded to the New Zealand Company that but for their timely and zealous efforts New Zealand might have been lost to the British Crown; that they hastened the measures too tardily taken for its colonisation; and that they colonised it at several points with some of the finest settlers who ever left the parent State."