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England and the Maori Wars

Chapter 14 — Paying For The War

page 312

Chapter 14
Paying For The War

The Imperial claim against New Zealand for war expenditure was summarized by Sir F. Rogers on September 17, 1867, after reading the report of Major Richardson, the New Zealand Commissioner:

“The whole claim is £1,304, 963.

“The items positively objected to by Major R. roughly speaking are:
Capitation to December 1864£75,547
Capitation subsequent to December 1864£237,495
New Zealand Fencibles to December 1864£68,029
Interest (the bulk of)£167,278
Charged by Major R. as£545,342
Leaving due£759,621
“But Major R. admits provisionally only and under protest:
Militia and volunteers from January 1862£74,807
Two-thirds of cost of South Road£24,000
which, if allowed, would reduce the debt to £660,814.
“Per contra he states the debts of the Imperial Government to the colony at £906,856:
Including Blockhouses and barracks for Imperial troops£43,115
Roads made for military purposes£102,878
Pay of transport corps and militia attached to commissariat£97,586
Proportion of cost of Waikato transport service£91,993
£335,572page 313
Adding £500,000 debentures paid to Imperial Government£500,000
Smaller items£71,284
Deducting Major R.'s first estimate of debts due to Imperial Government£759,621
Balance due to colony£147,235
“The arrangement by which certain military allowances, etc., were commuted for £5 per head was allowed to drop in 1864 without coming to any other arrangement. It would therefore be difficult to charge it after December 1864, and still more difficult after the withdrawal of the troops had been consented to by the colony and ordered from Home. (This affects £237,000).…
“Major Richardson's full expectations are—that the Imperial Government will allow balance due to the colony as matter of strict right£147,235
“Balance due in equity (militia and south road)£98,807
and that the Imperial Government will further guarantee a loan of £3,000,000. The English of this, I suppose, is simply that they do not intend to pay us a farthing—and I am not aware that we have any means of making them do so.”

C.B. Adderley wrote: “I have all along thought we should have to make it quits for the past and start on a new system for the future, with the new Governor. If so, better not haggle.”1

In a despatch of April 1, 1868, the Duke of Buckingham, fortified by a Treasury minute of March 28, said: “The colony is oppressed by a heavy debt, to a great extent caused by the same circumstances which had led to the Imperial expenditure in the colony. The magnitude of that debt has raised the taxation of the colony to more than £6 5s. per head of the entire popu-

1 C.O. 209, 202.

page 314 lation, native and European, while the war has prevented that steady progress of settlement and industry which should have, during the same period, enriched the colony and increased its resources.1 The colony, moreover, has taken upon itself the entire duties of future internal self-defence, thus relieving the Imperial Government from the former responsibility and the Imperial Treasury from the expenses incident to the maintenance of a large military force in New Zealand. It appeared to me that, under these circumstances, the Imperial Government might properly consent simultaneously with the removal of the troops, the installation of a new Governor, and the establishment of self-reliance, to close these accounts by a mutual release, waiving the claim which they consider might be established against the colony. In this view Her Majesty's Government concur. I have accordingly communicated with Mr. Fitzherbert who has assented thereto, and I enclose a copy of the letter in which the decision was conveyed to Mr. Fitzherbert, and a copy of his reply adopting the arrangement, thus finally disposing of these long pending matters.”2

The terms arranged were not regarded as just by the New Zealand ministers and Adderley, in a minute to the Duke of Buckingham, regretted that they did not take the settlement “as handsomely as it was meant.”3

The objects of Fitzherbert's mission to England had been set out in a ministerial memorandum of November 7, 1867:
  • (1) The consolidation of the various loans of New Zealand;
  • (2) The settlement of all claims between the Imperial Government and the Colonial Government;
  • (3) The establishment of a mint in New Zealand;
  • (4) The question of the defence of harbours and of the colony generally;
  • (5) Organization of a survey of the coasts of New Zealand, under the direction of the Admiralty.4
In dealing with a request for the gift of old pattern guns not required by the War Office, Sir F. Rogers wrote: “It is a pity

1 In nine years ending 1867 permanent charges rose from £20,265 to £305,365. A Treasury estimate of the cost of the Maori War was £2,750,000. Cf. The Poverty Bay Massacre, thesis by Marjorie E. S. Black, Victoria University College.

2 C.O. 209, 202.

3 Ibid., 207.

4 Ibid., 203.

page 315 that an agent of the New Zealand Government cannot put forward a not extravagant request without exhibiting that unparalleled assurance which is (I think) the peculiar characteristic of N.Z. politicians. You would suppose from Mr. F.'s statement that the New Zealand war, instead of being carried on in the main at the expense of this country and exclusively for the benefit of the colonists, had been a purely Imperial war in which the colony had been good enough to lend the Imperial troops some guns. The fact that 10,000 troops were furnished them, besides naval assistance, that the result was to obtain for them all the land they immediately wanted and to break the strength of those who could have disputed the possession of what they might hereafter wish to take—and that in conclusion the Government abandoned some claims to the extent (say) of £200,000 for peace sake, are serenely ignored. That is what I call ‘assurance,’ and it is the one steadily maintained from the beginning to the end by the colonists.”1

In a letter of November 27, 1868, Fitzherbert suggested the creation of a system of naval defence for Australia and New Zealand. He proposed the constitution of a fleet under Imperial command, capable of guarding not merely the safety of the colonial coast but the free passage round Cape Horn. “What is wanted is a special Naval Station in the South Pacific under an Imperial officer with an independent command.” Fitzherbert stated that the cost, estimated at £500,000 a year, might be borne in equal proportions between the mother-country and the colonies concerned under a federal arrangement, the mother-country providing ships and munitions of war.

Sir F. Rogers made the following comment: “This is a spirited proposal. Of course it is a matter not for an Under-Secretary but for the Cabinet, but a few remarks occur upon it: (1) The advantage is that the colonies will relieve the Imperial Exchequer to the extent (supposed) of £250,000 a year; (2) the disadvantage is that in doing so they will acquire or think they acquire a right to dictate in some measure the movements

1 C.O. 209, 209. Cf. the elaborate programme of annexation in the Pacific put forward in 1875 by the New South Wales Government, which, however, declined to take any financial responsibility in what was “wholly an Imperial question” (Hall, Australia and England, p. 227).

page 316 of the fleet, or of parts of it, each for their own protection; and if any of them suffers from want of any protection which it has chosen to demand, they will consider that they have almost a right to compensation.”

C. B. Adderley commented: “This is a most important suggestion and should be favourably received, offering to send it to all the Australian Government for general discussion. … It will lead to federation, and ultimately to the Australians having a squadron of their own, as Canada ought to have now.” The Duke of Buckingham concurred. The Earl of Granville, on coming into office, stated that it appeared that the cost of the existing squadron was only £70,000 a year and he did not think it probable that the very great increase in the naval force contemplated by Fitzherbert would be sanctioned by Parliament in time of peace, even if a contribution of £250,000 a year were made by the colonies. He would, however, send copies of the correspondence to the Governors of the Australian colonies for their information.1

In a memorandum on a letter from Fitzherbert to Lord Granville written in London on February 5, 1869, concerning the guarantee of a loan of £1,500,000, Sir F. Rogers, after summarizing the early history of the colony, wrote: “Then the colonists wrest from the Home Government first, I think, the power of the purse, then responsible government—and then, possessed of the power of the purse and the power of making laws, they make it practically impossible for the Home Government to govern and take care of the natives satisfactorily, and loudly proclaim that they will govern the natives and that the Home Government shall not do so. Coincidentally with this—being greedy of land—and some of them (at Taranaki) being furiously greedy, they induce Col. Browne, an honourable but weak man, to abandon in that district the old cautious Imperial policy in respect to land buying, and so plunge—not as they suppose themselves but the Imperial Government into an expensive war…. They wanted—and always have wanted, and always will want—to control the natives at our expense.”2

We have seen that the first impression of Sir Frederic was

1 C.O. 209, 209.

2 Ibid., 215.

page 317 that Gore Browne was in the right in his policy towards Wiremu Kingi and the Waitara purchase,1 but this memorandum adequately summarizes (with his own pen) the attitude he maintained throughout the New Zealand controversies which bulked so large in the affairs of the Colonial Office during his period of office as Permanent Under-Secretary. If he makes inadequate allowance for the special difficulties of the Taranaki settlers, and appears to judge the colonists generally rather harshly, we can scarcely contend, after reading all the documents and more especially his own able minutes, that he did not have some grounds for his general conclusions.

1 See above, pp. 67–8. In his book The Colonial Office: A History, published shortly before this volume went to press, H.L. Hall illustrates the views of Sir F. Rogers on several New Zealand topics. While Sir Frederic was “too blunt,” Mr. Hall's general impression “from studying several thousands of minutes” is “that the permanent officials were men of great talents and industry, with abundant good sense, possessed of a saving gift of humour, and actuated by a desire to do all they could for the benefit of the colonies.” This verdict seemed amply justified by our detailed examination of New Zealand affairs.