The War in New Zealand.
Present Relations between Imperial and Colonial Governments—Prospects of Self-reliance and Removal of Troops—Finance—The Future of the Maori Race.
The narrative of the war is now concluded. I have brought it down to the date of the latest advices from the colony before going to press, 11th November last.* It only remains to say a few words on the present relations of the Colonial towards the Imperial Government; the question of the removal of the troops; the financial aspect of affairs; and the position and probable future of the Maori race.
To make clear the present relations of the Colonial and Imperial Governments, it is necessary very briefly to refer to the past.
Representative institutions were given to the
* See Appendix, note C.
When Governor Grey arrived in September, 1861, he wrote to the Home Government, stating that this system of double government was alto-page 241gether impracticable, and he arranged with his then ministry to carry on the Government under their advice as responsible ministers. Practically from this date the native department was abolished by being brought under the absolute control of the colonial Government.
When the Assembly met in August, 1862, it refused to confirm this arrangement (by the casting vote of the Speaker); and the Governor again resumed the position which Governor Browne had held, of consulting his ministers, but not being bound to act on their advice, and this continued till November, 1863, during which period the new war broke out at Taranaki.
Before that date, however, the Imperial Government had (through his Grace the Duke of Newcastle,)* taken a very decided course on
* The death of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle was a grave loss to New Zealand. He had had the New Zealand question under his care from the commencement of our difficulties, and thoroughly understood it. He acted with great liberality and sympathy towards the colonists; and I think if he had lived, he would not have put that "interpretation" on responsible government, as intended by him, which has since been given to it.
The Assembly accepted the position assigned to the colonial government by the Duke of Newcastle, and believing that it now had substantial power to control the great issues at stake between the colony and the natives, it authorized the raising of a loan of three millions sterling, an enormous liability for so young a colony, and enlisted 5,000 colonial troops for three years, in order to carry into effect the policy on which the Governor, his Ministers, and the Assembly, were all agreed.
Very soon, however, Governor Grey began to attempt to exercise a control over native affairs, not of the negative character to which he was limited by the Duke of Newcastle, but of an independent and positive character, and contrary to the advice of his responsible ministers. The difference was referred to the Home Government. Mr. Cardwell, who had then succeeded the Duke
* Despatch of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, dated 26th February, 1863, C. P. P. E 7, particularly the last half page.
They were succeeded by the Weld Ministry, and the first thing it did was to pass resolutions through the Assembly, by which, after referring to the acceptance by the colony of the Duke of Newcastle's decision, and Mr. Cardwell's "interpretation" of it, and condemning the system of double
* See his despatch of 26th April 1864, 27th June 1864, C. P. P. E No. 1, p. 38.
The Home Government has demanded from the colony the sum of 40l. per head per annum, for all soldiers kept in the colony after 1st January, 1865, at the request of the Colonial Government. None have been so kept since that time, and the colony will pay nothing. Yet the troops remain. One regiment only, the 65th, has returned home. It is rumoured that four more are on the route.
* C. P. P. A No. 1.
But then it may be said if the Queen's troops have proved so inefficient in this Maori war, as you have described them, what is the good of keeping them there at all? The answer is they have been used in a wrong way. They are not adapted for the sort of operations necessary to conquer an enemy like the Maories; nor, it would appear, do their officera know how to handle them for that kind of work The tactics have been to make the Queen's troops fight, and to use the colonial forces for holding posts, transport service, and similar work. This is exactly the reverse of what recent experience has taught us page 248ought to have been done. The colonial forces should have been sent to the bush to fight, and the Queen's troop kept to protect the centres of population, and (as Sir George Grey used them at Wereroa) to give moral support to the colonial troops, and take charge of the prisoners. For such purposes a few regiments may still be extremely useful. They might remain at Wanganui, Taranaki, or in the neighbourhood of Auckland, while the military settlers, native contingents, Hawke's Bay volunteers, and other similar corps, led by such men as Von Tempsky, McDonell, Brassey, Fraser, or Biggs, might go and do as they have lately been doing at Opotiki and Waiapu. We shall never beat the natives into submission till we satisfy them that we can fight them man to man (not 500 to 200), in the bush (where it is "useless" for the Queen's troops to go), and without Armstrong guns and all the pomp and circumstance of great European wars.
Before quitting this part of my subject, I must say one word in reference to the Queen's troops. In speaking of them as I have done, I page 249desire to be understood as criticising their operations as an army, and summing up the general result. That the men were personally brave, and their officers brave, that personal gallantry was the rule, and the reverse the rare exception, is readily admitted. But it cannot be concealed that the campaign has, as a whole, added little to the laurels of the British army. Except Walcheren, New Orleans, and some passages of the American War of Independence, I can recollect no military operations of which, as a whole, we have less reason to be proud. When we recollect what was done, or is said to have been done, by our armies during the Indian Mutiny, how small divisions, making forced marches under a tropical sun, drove ten or twenty times their own number of well-appointed and well-disciplined troops before them, how they fought eight or ten pitched battles in as many days, how they took great fortified cities like Delhi and Lucknow, how they suppressed in little more than a year a mutiny and rebellion, supported by many millions of determined and furious fanatics, we cannot help contrasting the work of the New Zealand cam-page 250paign, and becoming sceptics of modern history. The very regiments which are said to have done these great achievements have for two years been fighting in a temperate climate with a few naked savages, armed with old Tower muskets, with no fortified cities, but only a few rifle-pits and earthworks often thrown up in a night, without any of the appliances of modern warfare, never having in the field a fifth part of our force, and yet at the end of it the enemy is unbeaten, and we are told on the highest authority that 200 of them can stop 500 of the Queen's troops, and that it "is useless to follow them into the bush." Therefore, I say when this campaign is talked of, let no man "stand on tiptoe and rouse him at the name of Crispian." Let it rather be admitted that we have yet to learn the art of fighting savages. God grant that it may be the last occasion on which the British army may have it to do.
The principal difficulty in the way of the full adoption of the self-reliance principle is the financial state of the colony. The revenue, amply sufficient for the ordinary expenses of govern-page 251ment, is not equal to the special demands upon it caused by the war, which can only be met by a loan, as such extraordinary expenditure is in older countries. And here, I think, the treatment of the colony by the Home Government has been hard in the last degree. At the close of 1864, when the war was at its crisis—when the colony was making the utmost effort, by taking on itself a pecuniary burden to the extent of three millions sterling—and at the very moment when it was offering to send away the Queen's troops, Mr. Cardwell pressed for payment of an accumulated debt due to the Home Government of 500,000l. The colony did its best, by handing over to the Home Government debentures to the amount; and then, in consideration of all it had done and was ready to do, it asked the Home Government either to guarantee the balance of its loan in the London market, or give it some direct, but temporary, pecuniary assistance towards the self-defence which it was prepared to undertake. Mr. Cardwell has refused this reasonable request in a despatch which, for hardness and want of sympathy, is, I think, unequalled; summing up by page 252anticipation every possible argument which could be used against it in Parliament, and refusing positively even so much as to ask the House of Commons for the assistance requested.*
The colony's case is this. At the commencement of the war it assumed a liability of three millions sterling, in return for the very liberal aid in the form of Imperial troops given by the Duke of Newcastle. If these troops had been effectively used, the three millions ought to have covered all the cost necessary to be incurred by the colony, and left a good balance towards future self-defence. But owing to the length to which the war has been protracted solely by bad management, the resources of the colony have been almost entirely wasted; and now, when it is called on to undertake its own defence, it has not the funds to do it with, nor the credit to raise more. The colony contends that the consideration given by the Home Government in the shape of troops has almost absolutely failed. They appeal to the correspondence between Sir
* Despatch 26th July, 1865, No. 50.
It is not an answer to say that the colony has itself offered to dispense with the troops. At the time that it did so it asked for the assistance I have mentioned. If the Home Government persists in refusing this assistance, and at the same time removes the troops, it will incur a very serious responsibility. And it may depend upon it that the cheapest thing it can do (and that seems to be the main point kept in view at the Colonial Office), will be to give some reasonable assistance in the way of guarantee or pecuniary aid, and bring its troops away altogether. If with such assistance the Colonial Government is left free from that interference by the Colonial Office for which the presence of troops is made page 254the excuse, to finish, the war and protect itself for the future, I have no doubt it can do it. But there must be no more restrictions placed by the Home Government on confiscation, and no longer any power vested in the Governor to take an initiative policy to which his ministers and the Assembly of the colony are opposed.
I do not for one moment advocate the retention of troops in the colony, except for the most temporary purpose. I cordially agree with almost every word that was spoken before the committee on colonial military expenditure by Lord Herbert, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Lowe, and Mr. Godley, and what has been written by Mr. Adderley on the same subject. But New Zealand affords grounds for temporary exception. By retaining the management of native affairs in its own hands, the Imperial Government got it into difficulties; by interference during their existence, it has prevented its getting out of them. Let it be done with the present war, on terms which afford a profitable basis of future peace, and I am content never to see the face of another British soldier in the colony. But let the rule page 255be applied fairly to all the colonies; do not relieve the Australian colonies from troops, and keep up little armies in Mauritius, New Brunswick, Seychelles, or Hong Kong.
The position of the natives at this moment is far from satisfactory. Except the small remnant of the Tauranga tribe, a few prisoners, and a few other individuals here and there, none have yet made submission. No large tribe which has been engaged in the war has submitted or laid down its arms, or made any approach towards the re-establishment of friendly relations with the Europeans or the Government.* They have retired from the country which we have occupied with troops, and there they wait, making no sign, but apparently watching the opportunity for renewing hostilities. The vacillating policy which has been pursued towards them, and the recent talk of the removal of the troops have no doubt encouraged them in thus holding out.
* The submission of Wm. Thompson I think nothing of. It has been attended with no result, and he and his people, the King and Rewi included, seem just as far from recognizing the authority of the Queen and British law as ever they were.
The native question is, however, only one of time, and I regret to say of very limited time. The race is melting away; and if there were no more war, and the Europeans were to leave the country to-morrow, the extinction of the Maori, in an exceedingly brief period, is as certain as-any thing human can be. A very few figures will show this.
In 1842, according to the best estimates which could be made, on the authority of missionaries and other long residents in the country, their number was 114,000. In 1850 a well-informed Wesleyan missionary estimated them at 70,000. In 1858 a Government census, generally supposed to be in excess, returned them at 55,970. The war and natural causes have by this time probably reduced them to 45,000. Carry on the calculation and it is evident that the certain extinction of the race, except a few individuals, is a thing which many of us may live to witness.
The one great cause of this has been, and is, their utter disregard of all those social and sanitary conditions which are essential to the continuing vitality of the human race. The result is, the page 257constitution of the Maori is absolutely decayed, and they do not produce children to replace the current generation of adults. A people that has no children must die out.
Shortly before leaving the colony I endeavoured to obtain statistical returns on this point; but at the time I left I had only received a few. They were, however, collected from various parts of the country, and represent tribes living in all the varied conditions of life which exist among them; some near large towns, some remote from any, some closely intermixed with Europeans, and some with scarcely an European among them. The result was an average of 100 males to 70 females, and less than 50 children under 15 years of age. If these be the relative proportions all through the islands, and I have reason to believe that they are certainly not more favourable, only one conclusion can be arrived at as to the future of the race.
The proportion of children also is a conclusive proof of the cause which has really effected the reduction, and will, unless some great change takes place in the domestic life of the Maori, as page 258certainly lead to its extinction. The habits of life which lead to this lamentable result, are in no way attributable to the presence of the European in the country. They are, according to Wilkes, Cheever,* and all who have studied the condition of the Polynesian race, universal where-ever the race is found, and the one great cause of its rapid decline in all the islands which it inhabits. So long as the communistic and vicious social economy exists among them which has hitherto existed, the destiny of the race is certain. The missionaries had before the war altered the habits of the natives in many particulars; but this great evil they had barely, if at all, succeeded in touching. It is true scarcely a hint of it appears in their reports home; but they know well, and in conversation freely admit, the magnitude and
* Cheever, in his Island World of the Pacific, writes, "The national blood is so corrupted, the constitution is so venomously diseased, that there is little hope of the preservation of a race. Unless there speedily ensue a great change. … the race will run out and cease to he. Whether it is not too late to apply a remedy remains to be seen." He considers that they were already on the decline, owing to their own vices, on the arrival of Capt. Cook. In Cook's time the native inhabitants of Tahiti were estimated at 70,000, now they are 7,000.
If the Aborigines Protection Society had devoted its energies to some systematic attempt to ameliorate the sanitary condition of the natives and to teach them the laws of life, not by writing feeble homilies in baby English, but by sending among them medical officers capable of teaching those laws, they might have earned the title they have assumed, and would have had the cordial co-operation of the colonists. Here is a field of practical utility open to them yet, though one which would cost both money and labour. Their interference with the political relations of the page 260Maori, and especially their encouragement to him to hold on to that Nessus' shirt, the occupation of large unused tribal territory, has done much to bring him to his present forlorn condition. They have had pretty much their own way at the Colonial Gffice, and with Governor Grey, and the result of it is, that the war which was begun for the suppression of rebellion, has now degene rated into a war of extermination, as far as a great part at least of the native race is concerned. They boast in their last report of the extent to which they have influenced the minds of the. Secretary of State and Sir George Grey. I think both of those gentlemen must deeply regret having listened to such councillors, when they look at the "bitter end" to which their advice has brought affairs in New Zealand. The opinion, which I have before expressed, "that the prolongation of the war has been owing to the interference of this society," has by its secretary been pronounced "monstrous." I can only say that in the colony it is very generally entertained. The New Zealander paper, which the Society has commended for its "noble" advocacy of native page 261rights, speaking of a recent interference by it, says, "Nothing can be more inexcusable than the conduct of the Aborigines Society throughout the New Zealand war; and to none has it rendered itself more truly obnoxious than to the party of moderation in this colony, which ardently desires peace, but declines to slander its fellow colonists, or to give the natives counsel which must lead them to destruction."
My own conviction is, that had the colonists from the first been allowed to arrange their own relations with the native race, and conduct their own political intercourse, no serious difficulty would have arisen between the two races. It is to the representatives of the Imperial Government, in whose hands the administration of native affairs, and the function of purchasing native lands, were jealously reserved, and to the injudicious advice of self-constituted friends of the Maori at home, that all the troubles of that unhappy colony are attributable.