Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

England and the Maori Wars

Chapter 5 — Uneasy Peace

page 147

Chapter 5
Uneasy Peace

Before we describe Sir George Grey's eventful second term of office in New Zealand, it is necessary to outline his experiences in South Africa, which undoubtedly influenced both his attitude to native affairs and the attitude of the Colonial Office towards him. It is, perhaps, not entirely fanciful to imagine that the vastness of South Africa and its native problem caused Grey to lose something of the personal magnetism which had stood him in such good stead in South Australia and New Zealand. To travel everywhere and see everything personally was impossible, and he lost to some extent the common touch. At first he worked on familiar lines.

In South Australia and New Zealand “he had learnt to regard the Colonial Office as a pliant set of men, who were not disposed seriously to question his acts and decisions.” He decided to follow the plan which had succeeded in New Zealand—to gain an influence over the tribes by employing them upon roads and public works and by establishing schools, hospitals, and “institutions of a civil character.” He planned military settlements among the Kaffirs of British Kaffraria. In default of English army pensioners, he secured 2,000 German mercenaries who had been recruited for the Crimean campaign.

“In South Africa,” writes de Kiewiet,1 “Grey very largely overlooked the significance to the natives of a secure possession of sufficient land.” His New Zealand plan for making land available for settlement at a low price, which drew upon him the wrath of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, showed the same tendency, and one cannot but be struck by the parallels between South African and New Zealand history in this decade. Between the Orange Free State and the Basuto, land was the root cause of the conflict. “The Kaffirs see that now or never is the time to fight the land battle, otherwise it is lost for ever,” wrote

1 British Colonial Policy and the South African Republics, p. 95.

page 148 John Burnet, Civil Commissioner, on February 22, 1858. In New Zealand the Maoris were coming at the same time to a similar decision, and when war was declared by the Orange Free State against the Basuto on March 19, 1858, we have the additional parallel that the tribes were “emboldened by the possession of guns” illicitly sold to them. But there was one great difference. In South Africa the white invaders took large areas and did not cultivate them. In New Zealand the white settlers could not get enough land. It was the Maoris who held large areas and did not cultivate them.

Grey quickly became imbued with the idea that federation alone could solve South Africa's problems, but circumstances could scarcely have been more unfavourable than they were in 1858 for the adoption of any scheme which involved colonial expansion. The year, as de Kiewiet points out, “opened gloomily with an increased national debt, distress following upon a recent financial crisis, rebellion in India and a war in the Far East.” Reduction of expenditure was the chief aim of the Government, and its refusal to accept the cession of the Fiji Islands showed that an increase of Imperial responsibilities was far from welcome. Bitter experience had taught the lesson that the infancy of colonies is an expensive period for the mother-country, and there was little but the faith of a few enthusiasts to combat the belief that after infancy they would set up independent houses for themselves.

Grey's grant of £40,000 a year for native purposes was reduced by half in the budget of 1858, the year which may perhaps be taken as a crucial one in his relations with the Colonial Office. It is much easier to understand later events in New Zealand when we know something of the details of South African events at this time. “Grey's outspoken denunciation of the Home Government's policy, his pertinacity in desiring to extend the sphere of British influence into the interior, his wilful independence of action, and his neglect of instructions were rapidly undermining the confidence which the Colonial Office had in him. Between the Colonial Office and its once favourite Governor there was a growing estrangement. The minutes written by the Colonial Office officials upon the Governor's despatches became angry and sarcastic, page 149 almost hostile.”1 Grey's famous despatch of November 19, 1858, advocating South African federation including the Boer republics, envisaged a self-governing dominion as we know it to-day. Needless to say, this conception was far in advance of public opinion at the time, and it is probable that in the circumstances of the time it was impracticable. We are more immediately concerned with the actions of Grey before he received the Home Government's verdict on the plan. Disregarding his instructions, he brought resolutions of the Free State Volksraad in favour of federation before the Cape Legislatures. The Home Government's veto arrived in the midst of the discussions, and Grey was recalled in disgrace.

By the time he arrived in England the Derby ministry had fallen and Lytton had been succeeded as Secretary of State for the Colonies by the Duke of Newcastle. The Duke was much more sympathetic to Grey's plans and he took the remarkable step of reinstating the Governor. Though the Duke was as emphatic as any of his predecessors that “expansion and extension of influence must not take place at British expense,” we are conscious during his term of office of a more liberal attitude to colonial aspirations. Sir George Grey, however, was not to be long in South Africa before events in New Zealand, which we have already described, led to his return there.

This recall to New Zealand, though welcomed generally, was not regarded by the Duke of Newcastle as a certain solution of the problems confronting the country, and there is an underlying note of anxiety in a very long private letter which he addressed to Sir George on June 5, 1861. In this he wrote: “One of your private letters to me some five or six months ago showed that, with such information as you had, your impressions were strongly adverse to Colonel Gore Browne's proceedings in the case of Taranaki. I trust you will endeavour to forget past impressions, and reform an opinion from this complete series of documents I send you, for I cannot help thinking they will much modify your views….Let me earnestly press upon you the importance of winning over to your support and confidence the New Zealand politicians. I do not expect you to be pleased to find the system of responsible government

1 de Kiewiet, op. cit., p. 128.

page 150 in full work. I know your habits of mind and views of government of a colony are not strictly attuned to these ultra-popular institutions, but for good or evil they exist, and I cannot agree with Lord Grey that it would be desirable, even if it were possible, to change them, and I trust you will prove how good a workman you are by turning out a good job, even though you are provided with tools to which you have not been accustomed and which you do not like.”1

Sir George Grey proceeded from Capetown to New Zealand in H.M.S. Cossack, arriving on September 26, 1861. From the ship he wrote on August 15: “The intelligence received of the terms of peace offered to the natives at the Waitara renders it probable that war must break out in some other part of the Islands.” Against this passage is the following Colonial Office marginal note: “Surely this censure would have been better delayed or suppressed.”2

In a despatch of October 9, Grey wrote: “Two of the three parties of natives we were treating with have arrogantly and contemptuously refused the terms proposed by my predecessor, and the third party have already broken the terms they seemed to have accepted.” Grey enclosed a memorandum by Fox on the Government's policy. Fox stated that in the three years following the relaxation of the ban on the sale of arms and ammunition the natives had spent a sum approaching £50,000 on them. “This may seem almost incredible,” he said. “It is a fact, however, that small parties of natives have purchased at one time whole tons of gunpowder.”

A Colonial Office memorandum summarized Fox's policy thus: “To conciliate the Waikatos, but to assume a stern and decisive attitude towards the Ngatiruanuis and Taranakis,” “But,” the writer added, “if that attitude leads to hostilities, will the Waikatos remain quiet? The second paper urges that the control over native matters now possessed by the Governor solely should be made over to the Responsible Ministers, a position which it may be said the Responsible Ministers had in fact usurped previous to Governor Browne's removal from the Government.”

In this second paper Fox wrote: “Ministers are bound to

1 J. Martineau, op. cit., pp. 322–3.

2 C.O. 209, 164.

page 151 state that they regard the existence of the Native Secretary's Department, free as it is from all control on the part of the Responsible Ministry, as a very serious evil. While its existence paralyses all independent and vigorous action on the part of the Ministry, it is itself inefficient and powerless. Receiving no sympathy, and little support, at the hands of the Assembly or the Responsible Ministry, it neither originates nor can it carry out any persistent or large policy.”

On December 16, 1861, The Times, in columns black lined in mourning for the Prince Consort, published a despatch from its Melbourne correspondent recording the arrival of Sir George Grey in Auckland and the expectation of peace which it had aroused: “His idea is (as I am informed) to break down the distinctions of race, to create an administration of native affairs, worked by the natives themselves with European help, and under the direct control of responsible ministers.”

Grey, in a despatch of October 10, 1861, stated that he had not complied with instructions regarding a reply to a petition of the natives of Otaki in the terms set out by the Secretary of State. Sir F. Rogers noted: “It seems to me that whether Sir George Grey is right or wrong is a matter on which it is quite impossible for the Colonial Office to judge. In such matters we must be content to see through his eyes—unless we are ready to run the risk of embarrassing him. At the same time it is almost absurd to have this very early and unequivocal intimation that wherever Sir George Grey goes he will be most unmistakably Sir G. Grey.”1

On November 2 Grey forwarded reports by J. E. Gorst and others on the state of the Waikato. Referring to the Governor's despatch, the Duke of Newcastle wrote: “This and others are only the overture to the grand opera which I presume Sir G. G. is preparing.”2

On November I Lieutenant-General Cameron wrote that

1 C.O. 209, 164. Cf. Life of Lord Norton (Sir Charles Adderley), p. 173. Lytton, writing on October 21, 1859, to Adderley about Grey after the Duke of Newcastle had succeeded Lytton at the Colonial Office, said: “I saw much in Grey that I admired … though I felt that he was a most troublesome public servant … and his haughty self-opinion and his way of dealing with public money were like those of a Roman Proconsul.”

2 C.O. 209, 164.

page 152 he had been confidentially informed by Sir George Grey that “no definite arrangements have yet been made with any of the native tribes; that he entertains no present intention of entering into any treaty with them; but intends gradually to do what he thinks right and expedient. That he has good grounds for hoping that the great majority of the natives will, by degrees, acquiesce in the steps he intends to take. That the difficulties in his way are a sullen spirit of disaffection which appears to have spread widely amongst them, and the strong party feeling existing between the two parties of Europeans in the country. That he hopes time and prodence will overcome all these difficulties, except, he fears, in the case of the Taranaki natives. That, if his expectations turn out to be just, no general war will take place, nor need my further preparations for such be made. But, under any circumstances, a considerable time must elapse before the country can be in such a state that the presence of a large military force can be dispensed with.”1

In a despatch of November 2, Grey said that his policy was—not to be hurried into a renewal of military operations if these could be avoided, to introduce into all possible parts of the island institutions suited to the present growth of the country, and to secure all the friends he could among the natives, “so as to reduce the number of our enemies.” Grey estimated at about £43,000 the annual cost of administering the native institutions he proposed.2 In another despatch of the same date he stated that ministers thought that the only course open to the colony was to wait until the existing native difficulty was removed, ascertain what proportion the colony must pay, and apply for a guaranteed loan extending over a period of years.

A Colonial Office note read: “The N.Z. Ministry do not

1 W.O. 33/16.

2 C.O. 209, 164. For comment on the introduction of Grey's scheme for the self-government of the Maoris on the East Coast, see East Coast Historical Records, by W. L. Williams. The Commissioner proceeded somewhat hasily to make various appointments without taking any of the principal chiefs into his confidence.” This caused “a great disturbance among the people,” the salaries being regarded by many “at money paid with a view to getting possession ultimately of the land.”

page 153 suggest the idea of imposing any new taxes.” The Duke of Newcastle's comment was: “There is an obvious desire on the part of Sir George Grey to make the military expenditure appear as large as possible. We shall probably see the motive soon.”1

On November 28 Grey sent a sketch by a young lady who had just visited the Waikato. It showed the dwelling of the Maori King—the large ordinary reed house of a chief, with one small door and one window. Grey explained that there was not one fortified place for the troops to attack. “The contest,” he said, “if it unhappily takes place, will simply be one in which every swamp, stream, wood, and naturally strong position will be defended by men completely concealed in artfully constructed rifle-pits and breastworks.” This drew the following Colonial Office minute by Sir F. Rogers: “A young lady's sketch—one of the cloud of sharpshooters under cover of which the main body of Sir G. Grey's argument is advancing upon us.”2

In a despatch of November 3, Grey wrote: “I do not for the present deem it for the good of Her Majesty's service to carry out the publicly expressed determination of my predecessor to compel the Waikato tribes to submit to the terms, a compliance with which was specifically demanded from them on the 21st of May last.” Here followed a passage omitted from the despatch printed for Parliament: “Careful inquiries, and repeated conversations with those natives most attached to us have convinced me that the Waikato natives will not submit to these terms at present, and that any attempt at this time to enforce them by troops will instantly lead to that general war which my predecessor anticipated. For such a war no adequate preparation has yet been made, and it must under the most favourable circumstances be attended with results most disastrous to us.” Grey also said he did not propose to repeat the native conference but hoped to induce the native tribes in detail to accept the institutions he proposed.

The Duke of Newcastle's minute was as follows: “There is much of calm good sense and self-reliance without over-confidence in this despatch…. As regards the ‘Conference’

1 C.O. 209, 164.

2 Ibid., 165.

page 154 of chiefs, I confess that more recent events have led me to doubt the wisdom of the approval which I gave to a repetition of this experiment (guarded though it was) to Governor Browne some sixteen months ago. I fear the tyrant maxim of ‘Divide et Impera’ may be (humanely and) more safely applied to the Maoris than our own more civilized and constitutional notions of combination of wisdom and power.”1

On November 30 Grey intimated that he had arranged to consult his responsible ministers in relation to native affairs “in the same manner as upon all other subjects, and in like manner to act through them in all native matters.” Fortescue's minute was: “I think that the transfer of the Native Department to the Responsible Ministry cannot usefully be opposed. I believe the amount of Imperial control retained by the former arrangement was more nominal than real, and while it did not prevent the Governor from really acting under the influence of Ministers, it gave them and the colonists good (apparent) grounds for calling the native policy Imperial, and war growing out of it an Imperial war. A strong Governor will probably have as much power under one system as the other and will be more likely to obtain funds. I must say that the Colonial Government and Sir G. Grey do not seem to recognize, as they ought to do, the full obligations which the present crisis in the history of the colony imposes upon them.”

The Duke of Newcastle wrote: “Nothing could be so bad as a nominal independence of his Advisers in matters of Native Government and a real subjection to their general views…. The financial part of Sir G. Grey's plan for future Native Government is ingeniously contrived so as to throw the whole burden on the mother-country—for whilst we are to give up to the colony £25,000 now payable for soldiers, they are to pay only the same sum as they now pay (as I understand it) for native purposes, and moreover our soldiers and officers are to do civil work as well as fight for them. I think we shall have to forgo the £25,000 for a few years to be applied to native purposes, but it must be on strict conditions. It would be quite fair to insist that the monstrous arrangement by which the surplus revenue is divided among the Provinces and applied

1 C.O. 209, 165.

page 155 to municipal purposes should be given up. The towns in New Zealand are quite as capable of having Municipal taxation as those of any other country…. It seems to me that we must insist upon repayment of the sums which have been advanced from the military chest for militia and volunteer purposes.”

The Treasury made this memorandum: “My Lords fear that the readiness with which Sir George Grey has evinced to throw on Imperial funds charges of this nature may lead to and confirm the local Government in the spirit of resistance to the fair requirements of Her Majesty's Government which had previously been shown, and the recollection of the large debt which was thrown on the Treasury Chest at the Cape of Good Hope on account of expenditure for local objects greatly exceeding the authorized amount is calculated, they fear, to create an impression that Sir George Grey is prompt to claim for Her Majesty's Government the reputation of liberality—without sufficient calculation of the cost.”1 The sentence was long, but the verdict, if we may so express it, not unjust.

On December 6, 1861, Grey reported that he had visited the Bay of Islands, Waimate, and Hokianga, to introduce native institutions among the tribes, and that the visit had been in all respects a successful one. On January 7, 1862, he forwarded reports of a visit he had paid to the Lower Waikato district. “Your Grace will find that on the whole there is great reason to be satisfied with the state of the feelings of tribes who inhabit those districts which I have visited.” Some of the chiefs, however, “shewed a quiet determination to adhere to the position they had taken and to strive to live in their own territory under officers of their own.” They said that we should find it as difficult to draw them back under our rule as the fowler did to catch the bird which had escaped from a snare. “They shewed,” Grey added, “an entire distrust and want of confidence in the Government.” He stated that he had requested General Cameron to remove the troops from Otahuhu to the line of the Waikato and employ them in completing the road from Auckland to that river, and in putting it in such a state that troops could move rapidly along it at all seasons of the

1 C.O. 209, 165.

page 156 year. A marginal comment of the Colonial Office on this proposal was: “A very good move? Excellent.”

Grey also added that care would be taken to select a good site for a military post on the banks of the Waikato in such a position as to command the river. “The post,” he said, “will be only about forty miles from the residence of their so-called King, and the Waikato River will be quite open to our attacks.” Fortescue's comment was: “I would decidedly approve of the formation of the road.” The Duke of Newcastle wrote: “Certainly! The more roads made the more probable is future peace.”1

Grey, in a despatch of January 8, reported that several Maoris who had been promised Crown grants of land on selling tracts to the Crown had never received them. “It is certainly anomalous and wrong,” wrote Fortescue in a Colonial Office minute, “that the Governor should be charged as he is by the Constitution Act (that most imperfect piece of legislation) with the sole right and responsibility of acquiring land from the natives for the use of the colonists and yet should not possess the power of giving the seller a Crown grant for a portion of the land sold, as a condition of the sale.”

The Duke of Newcastle wrote: “Two years ago I attempted Imperial legislation on native affairs in New Zealand. The House of Lords gave an unwilling assent. The New Zealand colonists in this country got up an adverse agitation. The House of Commons threatened refusal and the Bill was withdrawn. And the measure was no less condemned in the Colony, not because its purport was bad but because it was Imperial. There is no use in raising these storms again.”2 Grey was given permission to apply to the local legislature for an Act to meet the case.

Grey, in a despatch of February 8, objected to the sudden withdrawal of all naval force from New Zealand by Commodore Seymour, who wished to concentrate his forces at Sydney as war with the Northern States of America seemed probable.

1 C.O. 209, 167. Cf. The Provincial System of Government in New Zealand, by W. P. Morrell, who questions (p. 118) the wisdom of pushing on with the road. At this juncture the establishment of the post and the formation of the road do seem to have been unduly provocative.

2 C.O. 209, 167.

page 157 Grey said that it would be “better not to station such a force here” if it were liable to be withdrawn at a moment's notice. This drew a sharp Colonial Office marginal note: “Nonsense. How disgusted he would be if he were taken at his word.”

Sir F. Rogers, in a minute, wrote: “I should reply…that the Imperial Government had hitherto freely aided the colonists of New Zealand in their conflict with the natives, or rather had as yet taken upon itself with comparatively trifling assistance from the colonists, the expense and responsibility of carrying on that conflict; but that so long as the inhabitants of New Zealand relied for their defence upon aid furnished by the mother-country they must remain subject to the possibility that that aid might be suddenly withdrawn or diminished in consequences of Imperial exigencies.” The Duke of Newcastle said: “Commodore Seymour was quite right and this grumble is very unreasonable.”

Affairs at New Plymouth were by now in a parlous state, judging from an article in the Taranaki Herald of January 25, 1862: “This unfortunate little province is doomed to bear the chief burden, not of the war only, but also of the present truce or peace. The war dragged its weary length along until we had little left to lose, until almost the last of our cheerful homesteads had been reduced to a heap of ashes, rusty nails, and melted glass; and now it is our fate to live on through tedious months, perhaps years, in utter uncertainty as to when the time will arrive when we may safely begin rebuilding them, and how we are to find the means to do so…. We have not even the poor satisfaction of being able to blame any one in particular for our misfortunes. We know who to blame, indeed, for the conduct of the war, but for its origin the blame must be shared amongst almost all, both here and at home, who have been concerned in the government of the colony since its foundation. All failed to comprehend the nature and difficulties of the problem which lay before them, and whilst aiming like the sons of Ulysses

By slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good,

page 158 they seem to have succeeded in adopting only the slowness and softness of this process, altogether omitting the prudence.”

In a despatch of March 7, 1862, Grey wrote: “In the attacks made in some newspapers upon the natives, and upon all acts of fairness performed towards them, consists at present the greatest difficulty in this country.” Writing to Cameron on April 8, he said: “The native King's party is constantly declining in numbers and influence; but on the other hand, they being irritated at perceiving this, are making strenuous exertions to maintain their ground. I believe that they will altogether fail in their efforts to do this; but the state of the island is still such as to require the most constant vigilance and care on all our parts. I am sure that any reduction of the force serving here, or the slightest false step on the part of the Government, would bring on an immediate war, which, however, prudence and a show of sufficient force, will, I believe, avert.”1 On May 8 Cameron reported that Grey had appointed him Deputy-Governor during his absence in Wellington for the meeting of the General Assembly.

In June 1862 J. E. Gorst made a general report on the state of the Upper Waikato.2 The Taranaki Herald wrote of this on August 2: “The conclusions which Mr. Gorst draws from the present aspect of the King movement our late Governor and his advisers arrived at some years since, from a general view of the condition of the native race. A singular combination of real, but blind, philo-brown-anthropy, on the part of the Bishop of New Zealand and Sir W. Martin; a mixture of this, with much bile, self-righteousness, and deliberate unfairness, in Mr. Swainson (see his little book passim) and others of his stamp; unscrupulous thirst for political power in Mr. Fox and his associates, the extreme tenderness of our respected parent, John Bull, in the region of the purse; and last, but not least, the wonderful and incredible incapacity of some of the military officers to whom that worthy individual entrusts the carrying out of his decrees—these influences combined have succeeded in bringing into temporary disrepute the doctrine first enunciated by Governor Browne and his Ministers, namely

1 W.O. 33/16.

2 C.O. 209, 168.

page 159 that for both his own sake and that of the colonists, it is necessary that the Maori should be governed.

Grey acknowledged on July 24 a despatch from the Duke of Newcastle of April 28, 1862, expressing “surprise at the want of energy displayed by my Government in not using any effort to maintain the usefulness of the militia force,” and adding that His Grace accordingly felt he had a right to assume that there were more soldiers in the colony than were required. Grey said that to enforce militia service would create a war of races. His Ministers in a memorandum stated that it would lead to a general exodus from the colony. The Governor said he proposed to create a permanent armed police force, composed of both Europeans and natives.

Fortescue, in a minute, said that it was all the same to the Imperial Government whether British settlers prospered and consumed British manufactures at Auckland or at Canterbury or at Melbourne. The Duke of Newcastle wrote: “The reason assigned by Sir George Grey is good so far as it goes. The reason of the ministers—fear of an exodus to avoid military service—is good for nothing.” The Duke approved the project of a police force.1

On August 9 Grey reported that Fox had resigned on July 27 after failing to carry a resolution affirming that the interests of the colony required, while reserving to the Governor both the initiation and the decision of questions where Imperial interests were concerned, that the ordinary conduct of native affairs should be placed under the administration of responsible ministers. A ministry had been formed by Domett on August 5, and on the evening of the same day Grey had received the Duke's despatch of May 26 sanctioning the placing of the management of the natives under the control of the Assembly.1

The correspondent of the Nelson Examiner wrote from Wellington: “Nobody showered wreaths on Mr. Fox, so he threw some on himself; nobody spoke an oration on his virtue, so Mr. Fox spoke one himself. ‘His mission was accomplished; he had intended to retire in 1860, but came back to rescue the country from an evil Governor and evil counsellors. He had upset the war party, dismissed Governor Browne, brought out

1 C.O. 209, 169.

1 C.O. 209, 169.

page 160 Sir George Grey, given him a policy, and left the country so that such evils could hardly recur, for he had drawn the British lion's teeth.’ Thus fell Mr. Fox, ranting to the last. He brought to the public affairs of New Zealand many good qualities; an unimpeached private life, no venal taint, great readiness and lively wit, much administrative ability, great fluency of tongue, great industry, and a memory above average. But he has shown not a sign of high or comprehensive views; his best political notions have been echoes, his mind is a receptive mind, and that not of the finest quality, often he reverberates most hollow principles; and his practical action has been untrammelled by any fine scruples. His tongue, rarely checked by generosity, has made him hundreds of enemies; it has always been more potent in invective than in argument; and his invective has been directed against the weak oftener than the strong. That noble maxim (the converse of Chesterfield's), ‘Treat a foe as though he might one day be a friend,’ is a maxim on which Mr. Fox never has acted; his wars have been to the knife.”1

A very different view was taken by the New Zealand Spectator in an article quoted with approval by the Aborigines Protection Society in its journal:2 ‘We would fain have seen Mr. Fox finish his work in person. But, as he truly said, he has fulfilled the mission which was laid upon him in 1860. He has … exposed a great fraud on the Imperial Government, arrested the hand of the wrong-doer, saved the native race from extermination, rescued the European population of this island from beggary and ruin, and redeemed the British name from the stain of a crime which centuries would not have washed away.”

On August 26 Grey forwarded a resolution of the House of Representatives of August 19 affirming that “Ministers should in conformity with the Royal Instructions advise the Governor in native affairs (as well as in Colonial affairs) whenever His Excellency desires to obtain such advice, and should also tender advice upon all occasions of importance when they deem it their duty in the interests of the colony to do so; that

1 Examiner, August 23, quoted in Taranaki Herald, September 20.

2 The Aborigines' Friend, January—December 1862, p. 306.

page 160a Flag Of The Maori King
Black and white photograph of Wiremu Tamihana (William Thompson)

“The King Maker” Two portraits of William Thompson—Wiremu Tamihana, “The greatest and best of his race”

Black and white photograph of Wiremu Tamihana (William Thompson)

“The King Maker” Two portraits of William Thompson—Wiremu Tamihana, “The greatest and best of his race”

page 161 Ministers should at His Excellency's request, undertake the administration of native affairs, reserving to His Excellency the decision in all matters of native policy; that, as the decision in all matters of native policy is with His Excellency, the advice of ministers shall not be held to bind the colony to any liability past or future in connection with native affairs beyond the amount authorized by the House of Representatives.” The Duke of Newcastle's comment was: “This attempt to appropriate all the power and advantage and still keep the Home Government bound to pay is mean and contemptible and cannot be allowed…. To shew them that power and responsibility means payment is the simple answer to these evasive resolutions, and that on the part of England any such refined system of dividing the oyster and the shell will be repudiated as inconsistent alike with equity and the principles of constitutional government.”1

In a long despatch of February 26, 1863, the Duke gave the views of the British Government on the question of the payment for administering native affairs. In preparing it, Fortescue said: “The despatch should be laid before Parliament and (I think) should be damaging to the colonists in public opinion—so damaging as to make the New Zealanders feel that they cannot be guilty of this gross disingenuity and paltering without suffering from it, and (if possible) to make them understand that candour will be the best policy.”

“The despatch should set out: (1) that it is not the duty of Great Britain to educate, govern, civilize any savages among whom British subjects choose to plant themselves; (2) that the government of the natives by the British Government (even with the limited help it has received from the settlers) has been an unparalleled success. Never, I believe, in the history of the world, except perhaps in Paraguay, have savages and whites in contact with each other made such progress in 30 years. The Home Government has discharged its trust honestly and wisely and is therefore not unhandsome in now handing on that trust to the colonists; (3) that the present war was not chargeable on the Imperial Government—but was brought on by the anxiety of the Imperial officer to act in accordance with

1 C.O. 209, 169.

page 162 the confessed wishes of the colonists. It might be pointed out,” Fortescue added, “that there is no present intention of wholly withdrawing—but only of reducing the Imperial Forces.”1

In the Daily News of September 13, 1862, Goldwin Smith wrote: “In the case of New Zealand, as of other dependencies, that which is officially styled the ‘Empire’ is patronage to a few, but to the nation expense, weakness, humiliation; while to the colony it is a protection which cannot last for ever. With danger lowering on our own shores, with the war income-tax almost hopelessly fixed upon us—with France mistress of the destinies of Europe, and trampling international rights under her feet—with the defence of the Canadian frontier on our hands—with a cotton famine to cripple our resources as well as to afflict our people, we are keeping up an army of 5,000 or 6,000 men, at an expense of more than half a million, to carry on a war against a horde of naked savages in New Zealand.”

On September 20 The Times wrote: “Recent correspondence respecting the affairs of New Zealand gives Mr. Goldwin Smith an opportunity of reverting to his old theme, and insisting that England shall break the connection which exists between her and her dependencies, and shall stand again, after 300 years of Colonial dominion, alone in the world. Mr. Smith, we are glad to find, does not on this occasion indulge in anticipations of new and victorious Sepoy revolts which are to drive us from India, nor does he claim any approach to the fulfilment of his prophecy that we are becoming too weak to hold Gibraltar and Aden. Tempering the extravagance of his former rhapsody, he discourses of a practical matter—namely the expense which this country undergoes in keeping up a military force to protect the colonists of New Zealand from the native Maoris. As the question of colonial government and colonial wars has been discussed in this journal for the last fifteen years, and as we are glad to believe that we have borne no small part in placing the relations between the mother-country and the colonies on a sounder basis, we should be glad to hear any reasonable arguments or proposals with respect to one of the

1 C.O. 209, 169.

page 163 most important of the problems that yet remains unsettled. But Mr. Goldwin Smith is one of those who would cut off the child's head to cure it from squinting…. We must, however, say in justice to the colonists of these beautiful islands that they may fairly expect something from the mother-country in the way of military protection. They have settled among a race of savages which unites great energy and cunning with the natural qualities of a people who have been only reclaimed from cannibalism within a generation. The Maoris, having shown considerable ability, are under the patronage of a large body of philanthropists at home, and the conflicting rights or claims of the two races necessarily lead to many disputes…. We are sure that if the total cost of the New Zealand garrisons for the last twenty years were placed before the English people, they would not grudge the amount when they called to mind that by this outlay they have established their race in one of the finest regions of the globe, and given it a new life in the Southern hemisphere.”

In a memorandum sent with the Government's request for a further guaranteed loan of £500,000, Reader Wood wrote on October 20, 1862: “In applying for this loan Ministers desire to to be distinctly understood that they do not regard the payment of the militia expenses, the reinstatement of the Province of Taranaki, or roads constructed for strategical purposes, as fair charges against the Colony.” A Colonial Office marginal note read: “Monstrous. This ought to be specially noted in the despatch.”1

In a memorandum of October 31 ministers thus set out the objects of a mission abroad undertaken by Crosbie Ward:
  • (1) Extension of steam postal service from Great Britain to New Zealand via Panama;
  • (2) Business in connection with second guaranteed loan of £500,000;
  • (3) Settlement of accounts between Great Britain and New Zealand in connection with the insurrection;
  • (4) Construction of electric telegraphs.

1 C.O. 209, 169. For a similar controversy between the Colonial Office and Canada upon the question of payment for barrack accommodation, transport of troops, etc., see Stacey, op. cit., pp. 198–9.

page 164

The Native Lands Bill, 1862, was considered in the House of Representatives on August 25. The general effect of the Bill, according to the Colonial Office minute, was “to enable natives, under certain circumstances, to alienate their lands directly to the European settlers without the necessity of a precedent sale to the Government.”1

On January 19, 1863, The Times published the petition of the New Zealand House of Representatives praying for a reconsideration of the decisions announced in the Duke of Newcastle's despatch of May 26, 1862, concerning the granting to the colonists of the administration of native affairs. Commenting on the petition on the same day, The Times stated: “Instead of accepting with gratitude the right conceded to them by the Colonial Minister, the New Zealand Assembly respectfully decline to undertake the task imposed upon them. They recognize the difficulty of governing the two races by two agencies responsible to different authorities, but they cannot accept the power offered them if it is to be attended with any greater liability than at present for their own defence. They ignore the fact that the proposition came originally from their own responsible ministers, and they quote the unsatisfactory condition of affairs in New Zealand at the present moment as a reason why the system under which that unsatisfactory state of affairs has arisen ought to be indefinitely continued. We have never seen a public document less convincing in its statement, or more entirely divested of the graces of modesty and self-respect. The simple meaning is that the colonists have got a good thing, and intend to keep it. They alone of all the people of the earth have the privilege of making war at other people's expense…. We have a right to demand on behalf of the heavily-taxed people of this country that this burden shall be removed from their shoulders, and we therefore rejoice to find that Sir George Grey, in his speech to the New Zealand Parliament, announces that he has hitherto had no occasion, and hopes to have none hereafter, to employ the forces in any active field of operations. Our policy in New Zealand towards the natives is comprised in a single word—wait. Temporizing expedients, delays, dilatory negotiations,

1 C.O. 209, 170.

page 165 all manner of devices which are of little avail in ordinary cases, are of the greatest use when we have to deal with a race that is continually decreasing on behalf of a race that is continually increasing. It is easier to grow into the undisturbed sovereignty of New Zealand than to conquer it.”