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Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.

The Churechman. — His Relations with Bishop Selwyn

The Churechman.
His Relations with Bishop Selwyn.

In 1845 Mr. Gladstone, who had succeeded Lord Stanley as Secretary for the Colonies, wrote to Grey, who had just been appointed Governor of New Zealand, introducing to him George Augustus Selwyn, whom Gladstone had known at Eton. Selwyn had been for three years Bishop of New Zealand—its first and long its sole bishop —and he was already playing a conspicuous part in the affairs of the Colony. It was of vital importance that two such high officials should harmoniously co-operate on all questions where the spheres of Church and State overlapped or intersected, and Gladstone expressed the hope that there would be "a general concurrence of judgment" between two such men in all matters of public importance. The hope was realised. During the whole of both of Grey's terms in New Zealand the Governor and the Bishop thought and planned, felt and acted in unison. Seldom before had the secular and the spiritual powers been so united. When the Treaty of Waitangi was believed to be imperilled by the action of Earl Grey, and the secure tenure of their lands by the Maoris was placed in jeopardy, Selwyn strenuously concerted measures with the Governor and the Chief Justice to avert the calamity. On all things affecting the interests of the natives they were at one. It was, indeed, the chief sphere of the activity of both. During Grey's first term the Maoris formed the great majority of the population, and the immigrant white element was comparatively unimportant. Consequently, the Governor was governor mainly of the Maoris, and the Bishop was largely bishop of the Maoris.

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On the government of the Maoris the Governor confessed that he often took counsel with the Bishop.

Both being men of culture, of high talent, and of strong character, they became fast friends and close associates. More than once they traversed on foot the difficult country, some six hundred and fifty miles in length, between Auckland and Wellington, scaling mountains, fording rivers, and threading forests in company, and in the houses of Maori chiefs they were often joint guests. Together they voyaged in the Pacific. They grew to be firm allies, naturally lending one another aid in times of trouble. When the great trial of his life came—the apostasy of the Maori race—Selwyn did not forsake his old converts, but continued to minister to them in war as in peace, while Grey strove to suppress the Hau-hau movement; and when, in 1863, Grey was assailed on all hands during the Waikato war, Selwyn wrote to him urging him to "uphold the right calmly and firmly against the weakness, the impatience, and the ignorance of men." But for the interlude of Grey's High Commissionership in South Africa, their terms of office in New Zealand would have been nearly synchronous. Selwyn arrived in the Colony a few years earlier and remained in it a few months later. To the last Grey spoke of Selwyn with affection, and after Selwyn's death the tears started to his eyes at the mention of the heroic prelate's loved and honoured name.