England and the Maori Wars
Chapter 12 — “Peace” By Proclamation
“Peace” By Proclamation
“A New Zealander must certainly be the most remarkable creature in existence,” wrote The Times in a leading article on September 19, 1865. “He combines every characteristic of the wild beast with the faculties of civilized man. We call him a savage, and, as far as nudity, fierceness, and scarcely abandoned cannibalism can make him so, he is one; but no being of human race is so intelligent. He can live in the mountains or in the bush like a wolf; but he meets his pursuers with all the resources of military art. He manufactures excellent rifles out of old ships' muskets, and makes percussion-caps out of soldiers' buttons. He has never studied at a military academy; but he is a greater master of the science of fortification than the average British Engineer. If there was one thing that might have been expected of modern artillery, it was that it would render a Maori pa untenable; but the Maori sappers and miners counterplotted us in a moment, and added a work or two to their redoubts which completely defeated our Armstrong guns. Our soldiers actually respect them for their extraordinary talents and eminent valour. With all this, too, they are singularly given to rhetoric and debate. They would as soon talk as fight—sometimes even rather, and they display incredible proficiency in negotiations and conferences. We must add to this sketch of the New Zealander that though his real conceptions of religion would probably be satisfied by the African Fetish, he has contrived to make a conquest of Christian Bishops and missionaries; insomuch that these good people support him with a devout fidelity, even against their own fellow-country-men and friends. That we should find some difficulty in dealing with this creature is natural, but the trouble is even greater than it ought to be.”
The article proceeded to describe the incident at Weraroa when Colonel Logan refused to allow the friendly natives to page 273 attack the pa: “We cannot pretend to fathom the motive of this policy, but if events ever carry a lesson, this story of the Weraroa Pa ought surely to teach us that the colonists can do more for themselves than we can do for them.”
On September 26 The Times quoted a “curious story of smuggling war materials to the Maoris” from the Hawkes Bay Times: “The writer of this was in the employ of a noted trading firm engaged in the native trade, owning a small schooner running from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty, trading with the natives with gunpowder, lead and rum, arms of all sorts, from a George II musket to a minie rifle, tomahawks and cartouch boxes; in fact, all the implements of war coveted by our dusky customers. One of their common tricks to cheat the customs was to enter the vessel with pork in casks, and to clear out with empty casks and salt, the said casks containing six or ten kegs of sporting powder and bags of salt, containing each about 100 lbs. of old lead, boxes of caps, etc, all these shifted in the open day, rolled through Auckland streets, left standing on the wharf, and sold in the Bay of Plenty. The old files of Auckland papers need only to be consulted to tell tales of cargoes of empty casks and tons of sash weights (lead, of course) for building purposes, in places where the only buildings going up were raupo whares. The writer of this knew of one whare containing at one time 72 kegs of powder headed up in the way mentioned, and close alongside an old potato hole with about a ton of leaden sash weights in it. And all this carried on by a firm whose principal held office next to the Superintendent, and he went Home and with other Auckland merchants who had made their pile by Tower muskets and other honest merchandise, went in deputation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies and hoped that the war would be carried on with vigour, and cruisers stationed to prevent the extensive smuggling by the Yankees.” The failure of the Government to suppress trading in war materials was probably due more to inefficiency and inadequacy of staff than to corrupt motives, but it was in any event inexcusable.
On September 23 the text of an address of the Aborigines Protection Society to the Maori people, dated November 1864, was published in The Times in reply to a letter from page 274 William Fox. Fox's rejoinder appeared in The Times on September 27: “The leading ideas of a practical tendency which are embodied in the address are that a very small number of the colonists are friendly to the Maoris; that the great mass stand ready to destroy and by any means to rob them of their lands; that the natives must on no account sell their lands to them, and, even if they let some portions, they must exercise the greatest caution in the selection of their tenants, remembering that the men they have to deal with are rogues, and that other rogues elsewhere have robbed other people.… It is not, in my opinion, too much to say that the prolongation of the war for the last year and a quarter has been due to the encouragement given to the rebels by the interference of the Society on a previous occasion.”
Replying in a letter published on September 30, F. W. Chesson, Secretary of the Society, characterized this statement as “monstrous.” The former occasion was that on which the Society had protested to the Governor against the wholesale confiscation of native lands which was threatened. In a leading article on September 20 The Times said that the people of England would not accept the Society's view of the rights of the Maoris—acquitting them as savages of rebellion, yet promoting them to the rank of civilized men when it came to a question of their title in land.
1 Aborigines' Friend, January—December 1865, p. 457.
On September 2 Sir George Grey had issued a somewhat optimistic proclamation of peace: “The Governor announces to the natives of New Zealand that the war which commenced at Oakura is at an end. The Governor took up arms to protect the European settlements from destruction and to punish those who refused to settle by peaceful means the difficulties which had arisen, but resorted to violence and plunged the country into war. Upon those tribes sufficient punishment has been inflicted. Their war-parties have been beaten, their strong-holds captured, and so much of their lands confiscated as it was thought necessary to deter them from again appealing to arms…. The Governor will take no more lands on account of the present war…. The Governor is sending an expedition to the Bay of Plenty to arrest the murderers of Mr. Volkner and Mr. Fulloon. If they are given up to justice the Governor will be satisfied; if not, the Governor will seize a part of the lands of the tribes who conceal these murderers, and will use them for the purpose of maintaining peace in that part of the country, and of providing for the widows and relatives of the murdered people.”1 The operations against the East Coast fanatics were successfully carried out. Opotiki was taken on September 11.2
1 W.O. 33/16. See pp. 247–8
2 C.O. 209, 192.
A native bearer of the peace proclamation, Kereti, was killed soon after leaving the Weraroa Redoubt. Another who went out returned to report that the rebels near Patea would not receive peace at any price. “They said they would not cease fighting, and would not give up their king; that they would have nothing to do with the Governor's peace; he wanted too much land. One native remarked: ‘The sea is the Queen's highway, and the land is ours, and we intend to keep it.’”1 Gamble reported that Major-General Chute arrived at Auckland on August 27 to succeed Sir Duncan Cameron.
1 W.O. 33/16.
On November 27 Cardwell notified Grey that he had received a copy of the New Zealand Gazette with the intimation that the “war which commenced at Oakura is at an end,” and also the financial statement of the Treasurer, which left it “no longer open to doubt that your Ministers decline to propose to the Assembly the capitation charge” for the maintenance of Imperial troops. Her Majesty's Government had accordingly decided that the number of troops must be immediately reduced to a strength not exceeding three battalions of infantry and one battalion of artillery. Even this force would not remain unless ministers undertook the required capitation charge. “It is the fixed purpose of Her Majesty's Government that no Imperial troops shall remain in New Zealand for whom this appropriation shall not have been made.”1 Orders to this effect were sent to the War Office to Major-General Chute on the same day.
The Imperial Government, influenced no doubt by the Grey-Cameron controversy as well as the general principle of reducing commitments overseas, was by now determined to withdraw its forces as rapidly as possible from New Zealand, leaving the vexed question of the rights of the Maoris to be settled by the local Government as best it could. In South Africa, also, a determined effort was made to reduce the number of troops, but Wodehouse, the Governor, in a private letter to Cardwell of December 11, 1865, emphasized the dangers of withdrawal and secured a postponement.
1 W.O. 33/16.
On October 14 Sir George Grey reported that Weld and his colleagues had resigned after being virtually defeated on a question of finance and accordingly not considering themselves secured of sufficient support “to succeed in that policy of self-reliance and self-defence by which they had determined to stand or fall.” Cardwell intimated that no change of ministry would alter the fixed policy of the Home Government.1 Stafford formed a ministry and adopted Weld's policy as to the removal of troops.
1 C.O. 209, 192.
The correspondent described the exploits of Lieutenant Biggs and his 30 volunteers and 100 natives in capturing the pa at Pukemaire on the East Coast and pursuing the rebel natives until 200 men and 300 women and children surrendered. In a leading article on January 15, 1866, The Times described this as “a capture almost without precedent, we fancy, in a New Zealand war.”1
Cardwell's increased “head money” for the Imperial troops was the subject of a memorandum in which the New Zealand ministers wrote on January 8, 1866: “Should the Home Government arbitrarily insist upon it, it will undoubtedly hereafter be a matter for regret that a great country should have so treated a helpless dependency, already weakened by the efforts it has made and is making for its military defence.”2
1 Cf. Cowan, II, 116–18. He states that “about five hundred of the rebellious Ngati-Porou were taken here with three hundred stand of arms. The prisoners were all fighting men; none of the women or children had been taken to this mountain retreat…. Many of the Ngati-Porou so summarily weaned from the Hauhau craze became in after years loyal supporters and soldiers of the Government in the campaign against Te Kooti.”
2 C.O. 209, 196.
“In the beginning of the war, the Kingites had prayed for their King after the form in our prayer book, and that sometimes with great feeling and earnestness. Now a new form of prayer was put together, and the new worship was accepted as the bond of union amongst all who still adhered to the cause of the Maori King. No spot in the island was better prepared to receive this fanaticism than Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty. The people of that place had sympathized with Waikato, and some of them had taken part in the war. Various circumstances had caused their Minister, Mr. Volkner, to be suspected of being in secret correspondence with the Government on the subject of their disaffection. The feeling of the people became more bitter when their leading chief Aperotanga, who had been wounded and taken prisoner by our allies, the Arawa, was murdered by a woman of that tribe (the widow of Pehama Tohi) in revenge for the death of her husband, who had fallen in the war.
“The Hau Hau fanatics who visited the West Coast harangued the Maoris there on the subject of the missionaries. ‘These men were always telling us: “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven,” and so, while we were looking up to heaven, our land was snatched away from beneath our feet.’”page 281
- (1) That the war be brought to an end speedily on terms of cession of land instead of mere seizure;
- (2) That no bill affecting the natives be brought forward until a draft has been published in every Maori district which has accepted our system;
- (3) That no laws affecting land under native tenure or in any way specially affecting the natives be brought into operation until the Royal Assent has been given and duly notified in the colony;
- (4) That the “Public Works Land Act” and the “Outlying Districts Police Act” be not brought into operation.
In a despatch of February 2, 1866, Grey referred to the disagreement between Sir William Martin and the ministers. “Sir William states,” he wrote, “‘the object of the war in this country was to repress and terminate the efforts 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.’ This view of the case seems to me only to embrace a part of the problem…. It might be said that to proclaim that a barbarous nationality had 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.… When once the serious and terrible evils which spring from such an attempt are made manifest, I think it becomes the bounden 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 made again. This is no less necessary for the protection of the natives than of the Europeans. Not to do it, would be to ensure the ultimate destruction of the page 282 native race. To this end my aims have been mainly directed. 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. I do not mean to say that there may not be 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. 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.”
Sir F. Rogers commented that Sir W. Martin's paper seemed founded on an accurate knowledge of the facts, “but at present it comes accompanied by comments which may be shortly abridged into the two words ‘Pooh-pooh’; i.e., the Minister says his views are opposed to some of those entertained by Sir W. M. while Sir G. G. furnishes an able oration, of the general principles of which the relevance is not very clear.”1 Cardwell, in a despatch of April 26, 1866, said that he had no doubt that the knowledge and forethought exhibited in the documents drawn up by Sir W. Martin would secure for them the consideration they deserved. He added, however, that H.M. Government did not feel that it could profitably assume “that responsibility or require that delay to occur which would be involved in Sir William Martin's proposal that acts affecting the natives should be reserved for the significance of Her Majesty's pleasure.”1
On February 13, 1866, Grey reported that General Chute had completely subdued the natives of the West Coast. On the same day the Wellington correspondent of The Times, in a letter published on April 12, wrote: “General Chute's continued vigorous procedure has alike surprised and charmed us. Within the short period of five or six weeks he has completely redeemed the character of the service and wiped out the stigma to which it has so long been subject.” The operations against Otapawa Pa 2 were described and the subsequent bush march to Mataitawa, to which, the correspondent said, it was scarcely possible to do justice “without appearing to use the language of hyperbole.” The march took nine instead of three days as anticipated and for part of the time the troops had to live on horseflesh. The return journey to Wanganui was made by the sea coast route. At Opunake, Te Ua, the Hauhau high priest, and some 20 followers surrendered and were released, after taking the oath of allegiance. Te Ua remained in camp. “At the outset of last year's campaign,” the correspondent wrote, “Te Ua stood on the parapet of the first pa that lay in General Cameron's route, and (to native eyes) by the mere force of Hauhau incantations drove him and his large force to the sea coast and ever after kept them there. Now this once powerful priest submits to General Chute and supplicates the Governor's clemency for his misguided people.”
1 C.O. 209, 204.
2 About five miles from the present town of Hawera. Cowan gives the Hauhau losses as 30 killed and many wounded. The British had 11 killed and 20 wounded in the assault on the pa (II, 62). For a full description of the march, see A Campaign on the West Coast of New Zealand under … Major-General Chute, Wanganui, 1866. Chute's force of 618 officers and men was drawn from the Royal Artillery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Regiment, Forest Rangers, and Native Contingent. (Sketch, opp. p. 320.)
On March 23 Grey reported that the Hauhau fanatics at Napier had submitted, taken the oath of allegiance and given up their flags. On March 29 he reported that Te Hauhau and Herekiekie had made complete submission on his arrival at Ohinemutu. On May 3 he reported an interview he had had with William Thompson at Hamilton on May 1. Thompson had stated that Rewi was very jealous because he had made his submission to the Government alone. Rewi and his people had marked out boundaries for themselves and Rewi had stated that he would never again look upon a European face. Thompson had agreed to go to Wellington when the General Assembly met, in order to give evidence before any committee set up on native affairs. He also expressed a great desire to visit England with the Governor when he returned there.1
On August 17 Grey reported the resignation of Stafford's ministry, following a vote of no-confidence. Stafford formed another Government. On October 15, 1866, reporting the murder of a trooper by natives, Grey ascribed the growing boldness of the Maoris “to the attitude of inaction observed by the Imperial Forces.” “Any power of taking any effective measures is completely paralysed by the recent orders from the Secretary of State for War directing the Major-General to reside at Auckland, fifteen days distant in point of time from myself2 and from the seat of the disturbances which are breaking out.” The Colonial Office referred to this as a “querulous complaint”3
In a letter of September 8, 1866, published on October 30, The Times correspondent recorded that William Thompson had returned from Wellington to the Waikato. “A few evenings before his departure he was invited to dinner by several leading members of the Assembly. In replying to the toast of the evening, he spoke feelingly of the poverty and distress which war had brought on the natives, and said that he should be ashamed to invite his entertainers to Waikato, because they had nothing now to set before them. He hopes that a few years of peace would make them again comfortable, when he should be glad to return the hospitality he had received at Wellington. Most of the natives are capital hands at a game of draughts, and Thompson especially so. During the evening he proposed to the Superintendent of Auckland (Mr. Whitaker) to play him for Waikato, and on this being declined he played Mr. Whitaker, Mr. FitzGerald and others for ‘love,’ and beat them all in the most off-hand manner.”
1 C.O. 209, 196. This “temporary” removal to the Chatham Islands was to have disastrous consequences.
2 Wellington had replaced Auckland as the capital in 1865.
3 C.O. 209, 196.
On January 8, 1867, The Times correspondent at Wellington, in a letter published on March 2, reported the untimely death of Thompson: “Thompson was in every sense a great man. He was the prime moulder of the King movement, not intending that it should be inimical to the whites, but hoping to make it the means of preserving the nationality of the Maoris. The movement grew too large for his control and as he was always leaning to the side of peace, and active in preventing a resort to the barbarities of native warfare, he gradually lost his influence, and latterly possessed comparatively little. By those who can see no good under a dark skin he was regarded as double-tongued, and questionable acts have often been ascribed to his authority of which he was entirely ignorant. He was the most distinguished Maori throughout the island, one of the greatest friends of the northern colonists they have ever had, and not a few persist in declaring that he manifested in the whole tone of his morals and behaviour that he was every inch a gentleman.” Grey did not report Thompson's death until April 2, 1867. He gave the date as December 27 and the cause consumption. “My own belief,” wrote Sir F. Rogers, “is that he was a remarkably noble character. About his talents and energy there is no doubt whatever.… It was the old story—when fighting was once in the neighbourhood the doctrinaires could not stand against the party of action. At the same time, William Thompson never lost his influence. He was always the long-sighted statesman of the Maori race, and always exercised his power, so far as was compatible with the necessities of a popular leader…to keep himself and his adherents in the right.” This generous verdict is endorsed by J.C. Firth, who writes of Thompson in his book Nation Making (1890): “As he has often expressed to me, he desired to make his people into a nation, capable of existence among the increasing numbers of the whole colonists, without being either demoralized by their vices or crushed by their power!” Firth describes the death of Thompson, “the greatest and best of his race.”
In a letter of November 8, published on January 1, 1867, The Times correspondent said that the regular troops were page 287 reduced from 9,420 to 5,073 between October 31, 1865, and August 1, 1866, and the colonial forces were reduced in the same time from 3,441 to 1,439. “It is to be feared,” he said, “that any new insurrection would make considerable headway before a force could be organized sufficient to check it.” The fear was well-founded.
In a despatch of November 3, 1866, Grey complained about military officers writing to the Home Government when opposed to his views, without letting him know what they had written, although editors and newspapers received the information. The Colonial Office comment was: “Sir G. Grey is self-willed and tortuous but his complaint…is just.” Chute later referred in detail to Grey's allegations. He indignantly denied the charges of taking sides in political questions in the colony and of communicating information to editors of Auckland newspapers which was not sent to the Governor.1
On November 17, in a letter printed on January 12, 1867, The Times correspondent wrote: “The Governor and General (Chute) have not been hand in glove for the past month or two and since they met at the front last week they have been at daggers drawn.” In a letter of March 8, published on May 16, the correspondent wrote: “The Governor's peculiar idiosyncrasy seems to put him in perpetual antagonism to some one or other. In the very difficult position in which the Governor has been placed—responsible to the Imperial Government for prolongation of hostilities, yet dependent, it may be, on the caprice both of the General Commanding and the Colonial Government for the means wherewith to bring about peace—in this very difficult position the strong will which it has often been necessary to exercise has naturally raised up an opposition to him for which he would have been to blame had he not resisted to the utmost. This was especially the case in the quarrel with General Cameron. There can be no doubt that the Governor did his duty on that occasion, and the sympathy of the colony supported him; but in the misunderstanding which has arisen with General Chute the sympathies of the colony are enlisted against His Excellency, and universal regret is manifested.”
1 C.O. 209, 205.
Grey, in a letter to General Chute of May 10, 1866, requesting the General's presence in Wellington, had said: “The additional charges on account of military expenditure entailed on Great Britain and the colony by your non-compliance with my request on this subject, must in my belief have already been considerable.” On February 17, 1867, Grey wrote to the Secretary of State: “I have the honour to report that the Officer Commanding the Forces still resides at such a distance from the Seat of Government that the greatest inconvenience results to the public service. No common effort can be made for the general good. The local government has lost all control over Her Majesty's Colonial Forces.… I hear indirectly of movements of troops going on, of the most important kind, for which I should have made due provision, and except for newspaper reports or rumours, I have no more knowledge of these movements than if they were being made in some distant colony which was in a state of profound peace.” A further despatch on the same subject, dated from Dunedin, February 19, 1867, was characterized by Sir F. Rogers as “mere unfair petulance.”
The controversy between Grey and Chute was but one more in the long series of disagreements and misunderstandings which makes the story of the Maori Wars so difficult to summarize fairly.page 288a
Edward, Viscount Cardwell
National Portrait Gallery
“He inaugurated the new policy of withdrawing from the Colonies in time of peace all imperial troops for which the Colonies would not undertake to pay, thereby promoting colonial self-defence and self-government, as well as economizing the forces of the empire and relieving the British taxpayer of an expense which in the case of the wars with the Maori had amounted to a million a year.”—Goldwin Smith in Dictionary of National Biography.
Cardwell became Secretary for War in 1868 and reorganized the British Army.