England and the Maori Wars
Chapter 16 — A Critical Year
A Critical Year
The New Zealand crisis of 1868 and 1869 has been described as “the most critical of all in the years when the permanence of Empire seemed to be seriously at stake,”1 and we have now to trace its development.
Sir George Bowen, in a despatch of January 7, 1869, wrote: “A large portion of the British population of the Northern Island of New Zealand (in which alone there is danger of the Maoris), attribute to the action of Parliamentary Government many of the difficulties of dealing with the native race, and desire the suspension, so far as that island is concerned, of the existing constitution, in order that the management of native affairs and of the Colonial Forces may be again (as before 1862) placed under the personal control of the Governor, directed by the Secretary of State.” He forwarded expressions in favour of this view by Sir David Monro, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and against it by J. E. FitzGerald, the originator and principal supporter “of what is called here ‘the self-reliant policy.’”2
1 Folsom, The Royal Empire Society, p. 29.
2 Parts of these communications are given after Bowen's summary.
“I said last year that I could understand one Government for the colony, or I could understand nine Governments for the colony, but that I could not understand how the two things could co-exist. The experience of the last session in our Parliament has been a pretty commentary upon this view of the case. What has it really been but a chapter of bloodless civil war, in which the weapons were resolutions instead of swords and muskets? And what was the spectacle which the action of the House of Representatives offered to the country? Two parties almost equally balanced, each claiming under the Constitution Act a certain position and grumbling like a couple of cull-dogs on the floor of the House, the unhappy country in the meantime going to the wall.… I will go further than merely asking the Home Government to resume to itself the control of native affairs. The country is, in my opinion, in most imminent danger, and likely to be so for a considerable time. I would ask Her Majesty to send out a Commission to inquire into the state of the colony, and to report to her upon it; and I would ask her to clothe that Commission with the most ample powers. I should like to see it suspend the Constitution Act in the North Island and to assume the position and vigour of a dictator. It is no time when armed bands of murderers are marching through a country and the flames of blazing homesteads are reddening the skies, for a discordant Parliament to be wrangling and coming to no results.”1
On January 28, 1869, The Times contained an account of a complimentary dinner to William Fitzherbert, Colonial Treasurer, held at St. James's Hall, London, on the previous evening. Sir George Grey was in the chair and Lord Granville, Secretary of State for the Colonies, was present. Others who attended were W. Monsell, Under-Secretary, Major Atkinson, C. W. Dilke, M.P., Mr. Justice Chapman, Sir C. Clifford, F. A. Weld, J. Logan Campbell, and Henry Sewell.
Major Atkinson, responding to the toast of the Army, Navy, and Volunteers, said that the volunteers would value the compliment paid to them that evening, “because much had been said and written in England which might lead people to think that the colonists were fighting an unjust cause.” Not-withstanding the late disasters, he was firmly convinced that the colonists were capable of taking care of themselves.
Fitzherbert in his speech said: “Remembering what sacrifice England had recently made to liberate some 20 Europeans from captivity in Abyssinia, he would never believe that she would remain indifferent to the agony of a young colony where not only men but women and children were exposed to the brutal tortures of the cruel Maoris.”
The Times, in its first leading article on January 29, said: “However abundant may be the news, and however urgent the political questions at home, we never need offer an apology for calling attention to the colony of New Zealand. That young settlement, the little Benjamin of the Anglo-Saxon family, has always been a favourite with the English public.” After referring to the history of the colony and the generosity of the mother-country to it, the article proceeded: “We cannot therefore encourage the hopes which animated Mr.Fitzherbert's speech at the New Zealand dinner on Wednesday.… We have paid far more than enough for New Zealand, and our people will rather be disposed to approve the sentiments of Major Atkinson who is ‘firmly convinced that the colonists are capable of taking care of themselves.’ … This is the manly tone in which we desire to hear men of our race speak; and it is satisfactory to find that Lord Granville did not commit the Home Government to any other policy than that which has recently received the approval of the country.… The greater the efforts of the colonists to merit Lord Granville's eulogies, the stronger will be that sympathy which is asked of the English public.” The Times went on to notice once more the disparity of numbers between the colonists and the disaffected Maoris.
Lord Granville's after-dinner speech and eulogy of the colonists did not alter the tone of his correspondence with the New Zealand Government, for it was on March 21, 1869, that he wrote the despatch which was to cause controversy by its curt rejection of the proposal for a fresh loan to the colony of £1,500,000. Granville asserted that the Home Government, after a number of Englishmen, “without any invitation or encouragement” from that Government, had taken on themselves to form settlements in New Zealand, “never at any time attempted to make New Zealand tributary to Great Britain or to direct local affairs in such a way as to produce any political or pecuniary advantage to this country.” Granville further asserted that a great part of the Imperial expenditure in the colony “might be regarded as the price paid by this country page 351 for the territories which have been recently, and as I think unwisely, appropriated by them, and lastly that no part of the colonial expenditure has been in any degree for the benefit of the Mother Country.
“So far therefore as there is any equitable claim remaining unsettled, it is not a claim on the part of New Zealand against Great Britain but the reverse—a claim, and, if it were thought proper to urge it, a very heavy claim on the part of the Mother Country against the colony.” Granville concluded by expressing the view that “the present dangers of New Zealand are not due to the punctual performance of their obligations to the Maori race, but rather to their adoption of a policy which, if not inconsistent with those obligations, was certain to appear so to the natives affected by it.”1 Strongly worded though this communication was, it was reinforced by a confidential despatch to the Governor on March 25. In this Granville expressed the opinion that Bowen had “not wholly apprehended that view of the question which is entertained by Her Majesty's Government,” and warned him that arguments founded on a different view of the relations between Great Britain and New Zealand were “not likely to have any material weight in determining the conduct of the Government of this country.”
Granville's plain words caused a storm among the New Zealand colonists in London, but as we shall see later,2 they caused less commotion in the colony itself. The Secretary of State's view of the confiscation policy was shared by many in New Zealand, and doubts about its success had been expressed by The Press, Christchurch, on January 13, 1869: “Ten thousand of the best troops in the world … could not maintain peace against a policy of occupying confiscated lands by outlying settlers against the will of the natives. If every owner of twenty acres on the frontier of a hostile territory is to be maintained in his possession by force of arms, New Zealand must become a second Algeria.”
1 C.O. 406, 25.
2 P. 370.
3 The plan of the pa is shown in the illustration facing p. 352.
On February 22, 1869, Bowen reported the murder on February 13 of the Rev. John Whiteley, the well-known Wesleyan missionary, Lieut. Gascoyne, his wife and three children, and two other settlers at White Cliffs, thirty miles from New Plymouth.
The Wellington correspondent of The Times in a letter of March 12, published on May 17, wrote: “Matters are daily getting worse and worse, and the good hope with which the colony was inspired when Ngatapa was captured is again in danger of becoming despondent, the rebellion having spread in such a way as to indicate the necessity of coping with it, no longer at one point at a time, but on all sides at once. Te Kooti has turned up without loss of prestige on the east coast. Tito Kowaru's followers have succeeded in shooting seven out of a foraging party of ten constabulary, and are baffling every effort to discover their whereabouts; a duplicate of the Poverty Bay massacre has occurred but on a smaller scale, at Taranaki, where eight Europeans have been murdered,2 and great excitement is now being manifested in the Waikato, obliging some settlers to remove, and redoubts to be put into a state of preparation for refuge and defences. As the Home Government has, however, at the last moment, revoked by telegraph the instructions despatched by mail to remove the one regiment stationed here, our position is not so bad as a fortnight ago we had every reason to expect it would have been by this time.” In a leading article on May 18 The Times yet again recited the story of the disparity in numbers between Maoris and settlers, and added: “Our New Zealand colonists do not pretend for a moment they are too weak or too few to compete with the savages around them. They are only too rich and too busy.”
Plan Of Tauranga-Ika Pa, West Coast, North Island
This pa was abandoned when attacked by the Colonial Force under Colonel Whitmore on February 3, 1869. The plan was enclosed in the Governor's despatch of March 29 (House of Commons Return—New Zealand—Part I—July 8, 1869)
[Printed by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office
(1) Will one regiment be allowed to remain if the Legislature bind itself to accept the conditions specified in Lord Carnarvon's despatch No. 49 of December 1, 1866, namely, that the grant of £50,000 per annum for native purposes be continued? (2) If not, then what payment per head for each officer and man would be required; and could more than one regiment be left if paid for by the colony? (3) If troops are retained, could they, when directed by the Governor, be employed in active service in the field to suppress insurrections? (4) If not allowed to be employed in the field, would they be allowed to occupy in sufficient numbers positions to act as supports to colonial outposts though not required to take part in active operations, and would the Governor be empowered to determine at what posts they should be stationed? (5) If full discretion is not allowed to the Governor, might troops be stationed at such of the following posts as he might indicate—namely, Auckland, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Ngaruawahia, Taupo, Patea; and what would be the minimum strength of a detachment stationed at any of the four places?
Sir F. Rogers made this comment: “The effect of asking these questions unaccompanied by any intimation of the policy of the N.Z. Govt. is to secure, or almost so, that the Regt. will remain (say 6 months) while the questions are under discussion.… On the one hand it may be said that Tawhiao with his 10,000 or 15,000 fighting men will by the removal of the troops be encouraged to declare himself and would ravage the whole Northern Island, massacring and expelling the settlers. On the other hand the following dangers are to be avoided:
“(1) That the settlers are encouraged in the extravagant notion of subduing the natives—holding confiscated lands—exercising authority over the Maori King, and so on; (2) that the Home Government is entangled as principal in a fresh Maori War if it takes the conduct of affairs; (3) that the troops are sacrificed, the officers involved in barbarous modes of warfare, and the commanding officer engaged in continual quarrels with the Governor and Government of the colony if the Imperial Government is only auxiliary and subordinate.”
The alternatives, he stated, were:
(1) To withdraw the troops relentlessly, though it may be with a little delay.… (2) To take the war on our backs and send out troops in plenty and a military officer to replace Sir G. Bowen as Governor—requiring from the Colonial Government certain assistance and absolute submission in military matters to our officer.… (3) To retain in the colony a small number of troops to garrison certain towns.
“I should be disposed to number (3). If a harsher tone were taken it would perhaps require to be supported by saying that it was not a mere matter of money—but a difference of policy which led to this course;—that to enforce the submission of the Maori nation involved evidently a protracted war pregnant with calamity to both races, that so long as the colonists entertained the notion of enforcing that submission no real progress could be made towards a peaceful solution of the present difficulties, and that the offer of assistance from the Mother Country only encouraged them in holding an untenable position and delaying those overtures for compromise in which, if made seriously in good faith, and with the admission that large concessions had become necessary, the best hope of avoiding great disasters was to be found.”
Lord Granville's minute was: “I see nothing in these papers to induce me to change the policy which has already been decided upon.… In mere guerilla warfare the regulars are not much superior to the local forces. Such a war would be conducted at a great disadvantage either by a joint command or by an Imperial officer, who might not have the confidence of the local Government. Please send the papers by messenger to Mr. Gladstone at Hawarden, who will have time to inform you by telegraph if he thinks my despatch should be sent.”
Gladstone's verdict was: “I agree with the draft despatch. Mr. Stafford's memorandum is like that of one who either seeks to gain time by communications during which he reckons on the retention of the troops, or who has no strong sense of the necessity of troops, at all. Did he think it a question of the safety of the Colony, he would not bargain about terms for the moment but leave them to be settled. The confused state of the executive instructions seems to require notice and rec- page 355 tification. Without this I do not see that the troops are likely to come away, notwithstanding the despatch from C.O.”
Cardwell, the Secretary of State for War, agreed with the course proposed. He wrote from Plymouth on May 20: “Ever since I have known N.Z. affairs I have been convinced that the policy of the colonists would result in making the ejected Maoris ‘a desperate banditti,’ and would leave the new settlers exposed to their vengeance as soon as the troops should be withdrawn. Especially was this evident when the Waikato campaign and the Taranaki campaign were resolved upon for the purpose of seizing fertile districts far in advance of our occupation. The Taranaki campaign was undertaken after the colony, at Mr. Weld's instance, had adopted the policy of self-reliance, and had demanded the withdrawal of the troops. It led to the quarrel between Grey and Cameron. I refer to this because I have no doubt we shall have to justify ourselves in Parliament—and I am confident that my first despatch (April 1864) and each subsequent one, when occasion required, contain a full expression of these views and threw the whole responsibility of extension, and the liability to afford protection entirely upon the colonists.… A series of massacres in New Zealand now would be seized upon by our opponents in Parliament, some discredit would be thrown upon the general policy of self-reliance, and our withdrawal of the troops from Canada retarded.… I have written to Lugard to make our instructions follow your lead.”1
The despatch to Bowen in reply to Stafford's memorandum was dated May 21, 1869: “I have failed to find in it any basis upon which to change the policy which after the rejection by the Government of New Zealand of Lord Carnarvon's proposal had been adopted by my predecessors and myself.”
Te Kooti raided Whakatane in March 1869. The Hauhaus murdered several settlers but lost 45 men in an attack on the pa called Rauporoa on the Whakatane River. The pa was held by friendly natives, most of whom managed to escape.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies on March 15 J. C. Firth wrote from Auckland: “The colonists of New Zealand contemplate the possibility of a rupture of their connection with the mother-country as a bitter and cruel necessity. In such a case they will at least have the melancholy satisfaction that these alternatives will have been forced upon them by the policy of your predecessors, which is represented by a section of the English Press as having the deliberate approval of the people of England.”2
2 Ibid., 211.
On March 26, 1869, the New Zealand Advertiser, Wellington, wrote: “The Queen's speech in opening the reformed Parliament, reiterates with the courtesy to be expected in a manifesto of the Government of Mr. Gladstone, the cardinal idea which was conveyed with the perfection of official rudeness in the first despatch bearing Lord Granville's signature as Secretary of State for the Colonies. The despatch, a production doubtless of some sour doctrinaire of the Colonial Office, ruling from behind his official screen, must be read as conveying in ungracious terms the resolve of the new Ministry that among its economies one of the first and least debateable is the repudiation of all liability for the defence of the colonies. Language could not be plainer or more ungracious. … We are prepared to justify the British Government in the line of policy they are adopting towards us, if only their decisions are conveyed in terms not studied to offend—if, in short, the Minister for the Colonies will take the trouble to read the documents laid before him by his subordinates before signing them.”page 358
There should not be wanting evidence in this volume to prove that successive Secretaries of State not only read the despatches they signed about New Zealand but had a considerable share in framing them. Lord Granville, as we have seen, went out of his way, on assuming office, to declare his approval of his predecessor's policy. The Colonial Office despatches were for the most part politely expressed and they can stand comparison with the memoranda of the New Zealand ministers.
In a confidential despatch of July 15, 1869 (printed for Parliament on April 8, 1870), Granville informed Bowen that he had requested the Admiralty to instruct commanding officers of H.M. ships cruising near New Zealand to shew themselves for the present as much as possible on the coasts of the North Island. “Although no force is to be landed from H.M.'s ships for any ordinary operations of war, the officers in command will be instructed that in the case—I hope very improbable—of any great disaster, they are to take such steps as may be necessary to save the lives and properties of Europeans in the maritime settlements. I wish you to consider this despatch as very confidential and not to be communicated to your advisers at present.”
In his letter to the Admiralty, dated July 6, Sir F. Rogers had written: “Lord Granville does not propose to inform the Governor of New Zealand that these orders have been issued and he would suggest that they should be strictly confidential.” On July 15 it was stated that on further consideration Lord Granville had decided to inform the Governor very confidentially of the instructions which had been given.
In a despatch of May 2, 1869, Bowen reported that though Te Kooti had made a fresh raid on the East Coast, the result of the meeting of the King natives in the Upper Waikato appeared to be very satisfactory. The meeting, attended by 1,700 armed men and 3,500 people in all, took place on April 26. The speeches of King Tawhiao (though as usual ambiguous) and Rewi were pacific in tone. Te Kooti's men had made a descent from the mountains near Lake Waikaremoana, surprised a small settlement at the mouth of the Mohaka River, and treacherously murdered seven Europeans, including J. M. P. Lavin, a Justice of the Peace and officer of militia, page 359 his wife and three children, and 57 natives, mainly women and children. Colonel Whitmore was pursuing Te Kooti into the Urewera country.
In his speech, delivered by commissioners at the opening of the session of the New Zealand Parliament for 1869, the Governor said: “The conquest of a permanent peace will require an exceptional expenditure beyond what is advisable to levy in the shape of annual revenue, and a portion of it should be provided for by loan. An application for a guarantee to such loan has been made to the British Government. You will probably believe that the condition of the country requires a renewal of the application, and justifies the hope that the last prayer of the colony to the Mother Country will not be rejected.” Some exception was taken to the tone of portions of the speech by Colonial Office officials, but Lord Granville decided that it would be better to take no notice.
The Times correspondent in a letter of May 15, published on July 12, 1869, said: “The whole island is more or less in a state bordering on bankruptcy, population leaving, property reduced immensely, capital and enterprise scared. No wonder we are looking eagerly to the home country for help, and that the Press, with few exceptions, comment bitterly on England's barren sympathy. I am aware that such comments are wholly unjustifiable all the while our own Ministry steadily refuses to ask for Imperial troops, and professes to treat Imperial help in that direction as interference. But, as we are so much worse off now than we were a year ago, as there seems so little prospect of making permanent headway, and as the cost is so immeasurably greater than we can bear, it will not be the fault of the Northern Island members if the self-reliant policy is not reversed at the approaching session of Assembly.”
The Times correspondent, in a letter published on August 9, criticized F. A. Weld's acceptance of the Governorship of Western Australia: “He was always regarded by his supporters as one of the most chivalrous men in the colony, while his opponents called him quixotic. Now, when the system of which he was the political sponsor is undergoing the experimentum crucis, had he thrown himself into the breach and re- page 360 turned to his post in New Zealand, he would have earned for himself the character which his friends had given him. Instead of this they see him at this crisis of their fate accept from the Colonial Office the government of the only surviving convict colony in these seas, and descend from the status of a colonial statesman, if not hero, to that of an employé in a remote dependency of the most insignificant calibre. What makes his defection the more painful is, that the last thing he appears to have done before receiving his appointment was to publish (in London) a pamphlet,1 detailing his former action as the father of self-reliance and urging the Imperial Government to leave the colony to its fate, and on no pretence to give it the assistance of a single soldier.… Whatever the wishes of the home economists may be, it is impossible that the Imperial Government can much longer withhold its assistance. Imperial troops can alone restore that security which is essential to the progress of the colony, and if the colony is willing to pay for them, why should not troops be granted to us, as they are to every other part of the British dominions? It is true that the Stafford Government have refused to ask for them on such terms, but it will have to be done, whether by Mr. Stafford or his successors.”
On July 1, 1869, Bowen reported that the Stafford ministry had been defeated on a vote of no-confidence by 40 votes to 29.2 Fox became Premier, W. Gisborne Colonial Secretary, Julius Vogel Treasurer, Donald Maclean Native and Defence Minister, and F. D. Bell member without a department.
1 Notes on New Zealand Affairs (1869.)
2 Cf. Edward Wakefield in Sir Edward Stafford: A Memoir: “The Poverty Bay massacre was a grievous blow to Mr. Stafford, and though he was in no way to blame for it, he suffered heavily in popularity and prestige.”
In a leading article on the debate in the House of Commons of July 22, The Times on July 23 said: “It is an unpleasant task to take the rigid and relentless side in such a question as this: so true indeed is this that we shall not be surprised if the later and sterner dogmas of the Colonial Office be abandoned and the settlers gratified with a modicum of Imperial assistance on their own terms. But, in justice to the English taxpayer, we must ask the legislature to be cautious in its liberality. Let it be remembered that the so-called ‘self-reliant policy’ came as much from the colonists as from the English public.” The Times recommended the colonists and their friends to study the speeches which Mr. Monsell and Sir C. Adderley, representing the two great parties in the country, made on this occasion. “Mr. Monsell dissipated the arguments used by the colonists to the effect that England had by past errors incurred an indefinite and insoluble debt to the settlers, and both gentlemen agreed in upholding the principle that the colony, in return for independence in its internal affairs, should defend itself from internal enemies.”
On July 28 The Times devoted its first leading article to the debate in the House of Lords on the previous day. The Bishop of Lichfield (Selwyn) spoke “manfully and feelingly” for the natives. “It is generally agreed, and the Bishop assents to the opinion that our practice of managing the Maoris from this side of the world, has been one of the greatest mistakes of our policy. Their destiny now is, for good or evil, in the hands of the European settlers.… It is to them, and not to us, that the pleadings of the Bishop should be addressed.”
Fox, in a memorandum of July 22, wrote: “The alarming news contained in the enclosed communications just received from Waikato and elsewhere of the arrival of Te Kooti and his armed band at Tokangamutu, the headquarters of the Maori page 362 King, and of the probability of a combined attack on the settled districts in the neighbourhood of Auckland, renders it imperative on his Excellency's responsible advisers to lay again before his Excellency an urgent representation of the disasters which the removal of the only Imperial Regiment in the colony at such a critical time would in all probability occasion…. For the first time, Te Kooti, the author of the massacre at Poverty Bay, and who for the last twelve months has been constantly engaged in every kind of atrocity on the East Coast, has visited the headquarters of the Maori King party. Titokowaru, who has been similarly engaged in ravages and atrocities on the West Coast, has been asked and is expected to join Te Kooti, in whose immediate vicinity he is at present. The King party has been for some time in an excited state, and the impression already produced by the advent of Te Kooti has resulted in their making cartridges and filling their cartouch-boxes. It may truly be said that a general rising of the Natives, and a special attack on the settled districts of Auckland, is trembling in the balance.”1 In another memorandum of July 23 Fox stated that the Legislature had pledged itself to pay whatever sum the Imperial Government might choose to impose as the condition of the temporary detention of the 18th Regiment. An Act “to make provision by law for the payment of Imperial Troops” was passed on August 6.
On August 14 General Chute wrote from Melbourne to the Under-Secretary of State for War that he had consented to retain the regiment, pending further instructions. He stated that Dr. Featherston, the Superintendent of Wellington, had arrived, “having been deputed by the New Zealand Government, at the desire of His Excellency the Governor, to urge upon me the imminent danger of a rising in the Waikato, and the necessity of retaining the 18th Regiment, and to furnish me with any information I might require.”
1 C.O. 209, 212.
1 On receipt of the telegram Granville had written to Sir F. Rogers from Walmer Castle, Deal: “I think we must harden our hearts” (C.O. 209, 212). See Egerton, British Colonial Policy, pp. 367, 393–6, for a description of Granville's attitude towards New Zealand affairs. He was “by birth and manner an aristocratic Whig, and by conviction a Manchester Radical.”
On September 2, 1869, Bowen reported that a number of copies of the “protest” against the recent policy of the Colonial Office, published in England by Sir George Grey, Sir Charles Clifford, and other gentlemen connected with the colony had reached New Zealand and the protest had been reprinted, with approving comment, in most of the colonial journals. “It is with pain and sorrow that I am compelled to add, with reference to the concluding portion of the ‘Protest,’ that a portion of the local press openly advocate the annexation of this colony to the United States, contending that protection and allegiance are correlative terms, and that the central government at Washington would readily give the same sort of aid against the Maoris to this community, that it now gives against the Indians to the new territories on the west of the Mississippi, which may practically be regarded as colonies from the older states. This question has been mooted even in the Colonial Legislature. I am convinced, however, that the petulant discontent unhappily prevalent here, arises from private distress, the result of the severe commercial depression of the last three years, as much as from public dissatisfaction and injured pride, and that it will rapidly disappear if the advances towards a more cordial understanding with the Imperial authorities now made by the Ministry and Legislature of the colony are met (as I am confident they will be met) in a generous and gracious page 365 spirit. It will doubtless be felt on both sides (as it has been recently stated in England)1 that, whatever may be the future political destiny of this portion of the British Empire, it would be a grave misfortune if American rancour against Great Britain were to extend to Australasia.”2
The signatories of the Protest published in London were Sir G. Grey, Sir Charles Clifford, Henry Sewell, H.A. Atkinson, and J. Logan Campbell. “We have regretted,” they said, “that for some time past each successive Secretary of State, on assuming the seals of the Colonial Department, has been led by wrong information to attach his name to some despatch, the allegation of which being erroneous, and the tone irritating, if not insulting, the Colonial Government has been forced into a position of hostility with the Colonial Minister; whilst it has always been the earnest desire of the colonists, in the most friendly and loyal spirit to aid that high officer in the discharge of his onerous and difficult duties … we declare with sorrow our conviction that the policy which is being pursued towards New Zealand will have the effect of alienating the affection of Her Majesty's loyal subjects in that country and is calculated to drive the colony out of the Empire.”2
1 By the Saturday Review, see next page.
2 C.O. 209, 213.
2 C.O. 209, 213.
3 Hutt, in The Times, June 3, 1869, contested Granville's statement that “a number of Englishmen” without invitation or encouragement from the British Government, “took on themselves to form a colony in New Zealand.” He asserted that the enterprise had received encouragement from Lord Normanby. Colonial Office action, however, was with-held, and “Mr. Somes, Mr. Gibbon Wakefield, another gentleman and myself determined to fit out an English expedition of our own. We subscribed £5,000 and chartered a ship which—oddly enough for a swift-going vessel—was called the Tory.” Hutt described the French plan and the project of convict colonization, revealed by the Journal du Havre. See England and New Zealand, chapter 5.
Bowen forwarded as a specimen of Press comments the following from the Otago Witness: “The necessity for some sort of representation of colonial interests at home is specially noticeable in the case of New Zealand.… With the public opinion of the Mother Country deliberately set against us, it is not likely that we can shake the resolution of the Imperial Government to disregard our claims. One good result, however, may flow from the unpleasant conflict of opinion which is now at its height, between the Colony and the Imperial Government. The Colony may become convinced that its relations with the Mother Country must be placed on a very different footing or else abandoned. The absurdity as well as the iniquity of the present system is too great to last much longer.… Possibly it may be the policy of that (the Imperial) Government to reduce the dimensions of the British Empire, with a view to the concentration of its military force and the reduction of its expenditure. In that view of the case the concoction of such despatches as Earl Granville's is intelligible enough. No one can fail to notice that the tone of these documents is even more offensive than the subject-matter. They show no desire to conciliate the colonists; on the contrary, they suggest the idea that the writer is not unwilling to irritate them when an opportunity offers. ‘It would be a grave misfortune,’ says the Saturday Review, in an article on this despatch, ‘if American rancour against England were to extend to Canada, to Australia and to New Zealand.’ Should such a revolution take place, the historian will have no difficulty so far as New Zealand is concerned, in tracing its rise and progress.”2
1 C.O. 209, 214.
2 Ibid., 213.
Grey returned to the attack on December 20. He contended that “one General Officer and some few persons following his example had led a policy of violence in the country, committing acts of great violence against prisoners and secretly throwing the blame on other persons.” He asserted “that the Colonial Office concealed some of these acts, and facts connected with them, even from H.R.H. the Commander-in-Chief, and from the Governor and Civil Government of the country whose authority had been set at nought, and generally by such proceedings stamped them with its approval.” “The power,” Grey added, “has all been on your side, and I cannot but feel that it has enabled you for the moment to triumph over me. Nevertheless, I know that this triumph ought to be and will be but short-lived, and I indulge the hope that even your Lordship will before long admit that neither the Empire, New Zealand, the inhabitants of New Zealand, nor myself have in this case received just treatment from the Colonial Department, or at your hands.”1
1 C.O. 209, 215.
The letter was written after an interview with Lord Granville and W. Monsell, by Sir George Grey, Sewell, and others on behalf of New Zealand, on June 16.1 Sewell's state of feeling on the question of separation from the Empire may be compared with that of the Australiasian, Melbourne, which, on October 9, expressed the view that when a colony really wanted help in time of danger, the Colonial Office became indifferent whether it remained in the Empire.2
On September 3 Bowen reported by telegram that Dr. Featherston and Dillon Bell had been appointed Commissioners to the Imperial Government. In a despatch of the same day he stated that their duty would be to enter into an agreement for the employment of an Imperial force in New Zealand and also to organize a force for service under the Colonial Government. Lord Granville replied that he could not hold out hope of a change of decision in regard to the Imperial troops. The Government would, however, be pleased to assist the Commissioners in organizing a force. The Commissioners were to inquire, inter alia, whether Ghoorka Regiments or other bodies of disciplined men might be secured for duty under the Colonial Government. In a despatch of September 19 Bowen forwarded a memorandum by Fox on the visit of the Commissioners to England: “One great object … is the establishment of cordial relations between the Imperial and the Colonial Government, which appear to have been more or less disturbed by the manner in which the question of the maintenance of Imperial troops in the colony, and some other matters, have lately been discussed.” The Colonial Office instruction for the despatch in reply was: “Earnestly concur in the hope, etc.”3
1 C.O. 209, 215.
2 Quoted in H. L. Hall, Australia and England, p. 105.
3 C.O. 209, 213.
The despatch of Bowen of August 5, 1869, concerning the removal of the last of the troops in the midst of the crisis due to the actions of Te Kooti, was published in The Times on October 12. It was the subject of the first leading article on October 14, and Lord Granville's refusal to grant Imperial troops was approved. “We think New Zealand will in no very long time page 370 hence allow that Lord Granville has never been more kind than in this act of seeming sternness.”1
The Times correspondent, in a letter from Wellington on September 4, 1869 (published on November 2), said: “We were surprised to learn by the last mail what a hubbub the publication of Lord Granville's despatch of the 21st of March had occasioned among the friends of the colony in London. No one took any particular notice of it when published here. We have got so accustomed to this kind of despatch that we regard them as a matter of course; thanks to our London friends notwithstanding. We are truly grateful for the good offices of the London committee, and the Press throughout the colony has not been slow in saying so; but I think we take a juster view of these despatches than our friends do. They lay the blame on the Home Government for not helping us, while we wonder that the Home Government has, under the circumstances, helped us so long. For the last three years England has been told by the late Colonial Ministry that we did not want her troops, or that, if we did, we did not want them sufficiently to pay for them. If under the reversal of that policy by the Fox Ministry our earnest appeal for aid should now be made to a deaf Throne, then such despatches might well create surprise and consternation.”
1 Cf. J. W. Fortescue, in History of the British Army, XIII, p. 513: “The Governor, a pusillanimous old pedant, shrieked to England for help, and the whole colony cried out against the removal of the Eighteenth.… This Governor was more frightened than anyone. He actually descended to write foreboding of horrors that would compare with those at Delhi and Cawnpore, and to forward extracts from colonial newspapers which advocated annexation of New Zealand to the United States. But no pathetic periods of his quaking Excellency could move the hard heart of the Imperial Government.” The reflection on the Governor's courage seems scarcely justified, and he would have been failing in his duty if he had not kept the Home Government informed of public opinion on annexation to the United States. In a private letter to W. Dealtry, on April 13, 1869, Bowen wrote: “I am considered by all competent judges on the spot to have greatly under-rated the dangers which threatened this colony” (C.O. 209, 210).
The Times, in a leading article on the same day, described the letter as “eminently temperate” but took exception to the epithets applied to Lord Granville's correspondence. It dismissed as “wild and vague” the reference to possible appeal to a foreign power, and stated that the grounds of the Government's refusal to help the colony were simple and conclusive: They disapproved the Maori policy which the colonists had long pursued, more especially as it was not backed by any resolute attitude of self-reliance or self-defence. The colonists would neither conciliate the Maoris nor boldly encounter them.page 372
Nevertheless, conditions in the colony were improving. In a despatch of October 14, 1869, describing a journey through the North Island, Bowen mentioned that Hone Pihama had “actually taken the contract for the conveyance of mails across the country of Titokowaru, who dares not meddle with him.” In a minute Sir F. Rogers wrote to W. Monsell: “The contract for mails having been taken by one of our old enemies is amusing. I suppose the terms of the contract include a subsidy for allowing it to pass. You may remember that it was said that when General Pratt was sapping his way up to a Maori Pa the defenders sent him a message that if he liked to employ them they would themselves contract to do all his sapping for him on reasonable terms.”1
In a despatch of October 22, Bowen protested against certain errors in newspaper reports of the speech delivered by the Hon. William Monsell, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the House of Commons on July 22, 1869. Monsell was reported to have said that the Chatham Islands prisoners had been sent there for two years only, and did not cause any trouble till that time had expired. He had also stated that “the Governor, though he made no military preparations, insisted on endeavouring to recapture the prisoners.”1 Bowen, in a despatch of October 26, protested in strong terms against the Admiralty's censure of Commodore Lambert for not allowing half the 18th Regiment to go away in the Himalaya transport. He received a severe rebuke for the tone of the despatch in a Colonial Office despatch of January 28, 1870.
1 C.O. 209, 213.
1 C.O. 209, 213.
A memorandum by ministers on Lord Granville's despatch of October 7, 1869, was dated January 7, 1870; “Ministers feel assured that throughout the colony there will arise a universal feeling of regret that the tone of Earl Granville's despatch (written at a time when he must have known the colony to be in the greatest distress), is scarcely susceptible of any other explanation than a desire to abandon this country and to sever its connection with the Empire. Confiscation of part of the land belonging to rebel natives in arms against the Crown is the principal feature to which His Lordship takes objection. Whatever may be its defects, a reference to official documents will show that the Imperial Government is equally with the Colonial Government responsible for it.”
[C.O. marginal note: “Both are equally responsible for the opinion that the policy is just—at least, if applied to those who deserved the punishment. But the Imperial Government never committed itself to the opinion that it was wise. It warned the colony that if the policy should bring trouble—on which point it could form no independent opinion—the question depending purely on local considerations—they were not to look to England for help.”]
Replying to the memorandum on March 25, Lord Granville wrote: “Her Majesty's Government absolutely disavow any wish on their part to abandon New Zealand, or to bring about the separation between this country and the colony. The refusal to retain the troops in New Zealand did not proceed from any indifference to the true welfare of the colony, but from a conviction that on the one hand the employment of British troops in a colony possessed of responsible government was objectionable in principle except in the case of foreign war, and under conditions arising out of such a war; and on the other hand it is not for the true interest of the colony itself that New Zealand should be made an exception from that rule, which, with due consideration from circumstances, is in course of application to other colonies.”1
1 C.O. 209, 216. The “course of its application” to Canada is described by Stacey, op. cit.; cf. Granville to Lord Russell, August 28, 1869: “Our relations with North America are of a very delicate character. The best solution of them would probably be that in the course of time and in the most friendly spirit the Dominion should find itself strong enough to proclaim her independence” (Fitzmaurice, Life of Earl Granville, III, 22).
Bowen, in a despatch of February 13, asked that the confidential despatch informing him of the naval measures taken to protect the settlements should be made known, in view of the imminent departure of the troops. Such knowledge, he said, “would contribute powerfully to remove the irritation now fostered by a portion of the local Press against the Imperial Government and to put an end to the ventilation of projects for separation from Great Britain and for seeking protection from the United States of America, or other foreign powers.” He added that there was a suggestion that the colony should decline to pay the Governor's salary. The Colonial Office at first decided to print the despatch, but the order was countermanded by Monsell and Lord Kimberley. In a despatch of February 19 Bowen reported the march of Kemp (Te Kepa) and Topia in pursuit of Te Kooti. “In three months they have forced their way at the head of their clansmen through the forests and mountains of the central interior across the entire breadth of the island.”
On February 25, 1870, Bowen reported that the last detachment of the 2/18th Regiment had left New Zealand on the previous day. The long discussed exodus of the Imperial troops was at last complete.
A memorandum by Fox, the Prime Minister, dated March 28, deprecated the “unpatriotic harshness” of the Imperial Government's attitude to New Zealand: “To satisfy the theories of Lord Granville as to responsibility New Zealand must cease to be a part of the Empire.” In reply Granville referred to the agreement to guarantee a loan of £1,000,000 to the colony for roads and immigration and the instruction with regard to naval protection, and added that he hoped that these evidences of the continued interest of the Home Government in the colony relieved him from the necessity of reopening matters of controversy. In reply to Granville's disavowal of desire to abandon New Zealand, Ministers in a memorandum of June 11, wrote: “They cannot suppose that it in the least effects the page 375 accumulated evidence from different parts of the world that Her Majesty's Ministers previously favoured a policy having for its end the more or less speedy disintegration of the Empire.”1
George Higinbotham, in his speech of November 2, 1869, introducing resolutions on the rights of the colonists of Victoria to complete local self-government, had characterized the refusal of the Home Government to allow the Imperial troops to be retained in New Zealand as “ungracious.” He believed that a similar application from a weak independent Government to a “neighbouring powerful country” would not have been refused. The attitude of the Government in England raises the question whether the Australian colonies should continue their connection with the mother-country, and if so, on what conditions.2
In a leading article of March 8, 1870, The Times referred to the House of Lords debate on the previous day: “We have taken so large a part in this controversy that we need hardly declare our general agreement with the policy which the present Government, and indeed the late Government also, has followed. It was, we believe, our own policy before it was that of the Government, and we can feel only satisfaction that it has prevailed not only in New Zealand, but throughout the whole colonial system.”
1 C.O. 209, 216. The theme is discussed in Stacey, op. cit., 215–18. Granville wrote to Sir John Young, on June 16, 1869, that Canada was free to determine its own future. The Imperial Government had no desire to maintain the connection “a single year” after it became “injurious and distasteful” to Canada.