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The Adventures of Kimble Bent

Reward for Titokowaru's Head

Reward for Titokowaru's Head

Under address and date Downing Street, February 26th, 1869, the Right Hon. Earl Granville, K.G., Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote to Sir George F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., Governor of New Zealand:

“I see it stated in the newspapers that you have offered a reward of £1,000 for the person of the Maori chief Titokowaru—I infer alive or dead—and £5 for the person of every Maori rebel brought in alive. I do not at present pronounce any opinion as to the propriety of these steps, but I must observe that they are so much at variance with the usual laws of war, and appear, at first sight, so much calculated to exasperate and extend hostilities, that they ought to have been reported to me by you officially with the requisite explanation, which I should now be glad to receive.”

In the course of his reply to this despatch Governor Bowen said:

“It is contended that this passage implies that the Maoris now in arms… are foreign enemies, or at all page 336 events belligerents, with whom the usual laws of war must be strictly observed.”

On this, Earl Granville remarked in a despatch of November 4th:

“I think you would have done well to point out to those who thus argue that my despatch nowhere hints that the Maoris are foreigners, a doctrine which I had never heard of before I perused the Attorney-General's opinion; and that the legitimate inference from my despatch is the direct contrary to that which is drawn from it. … I do not clearly understand how you justify this notice as a matter of law. I understand you to disclaim the application of martial law; and viewing Titokowaru merely as a notorious, but untried and unconvicted rebel and murderer, I am not aware of any Colonial enactment which would make it lawful for any chance person to shoot him down.”