Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Historical Records of New Zealand

Lord Normanby To Captain Hobson, R.N

Lord Normanby To Captain Hobson, R.N.

Downing Street, 15th August, 1839.


Mr. Labouchere has laid before me your letter to him of the 1st instant, requesting an explanation of some questions which have occurred to you on the perusal of my letter of instructions. I have to return the following answer to your inquiries:—


The remarks which I have made respecting the independence of the people of New Zealand relate, as you correctly suppose, to the tribes inhabiting the Northern Island only. Our information respecting the Southern Island is too imperfect to allow me to address to you any definite instructions as to the course to be pursued there. If the country is really, as you suppose, uninhabited except by a very small number of persons page 754 in a savage stage, incapable from their ignorance of entering intelligently into any treaties with the Crown, I agree with you that the ceremonial of making such engagements with tdem would be a mere illusion and pretence, which ought to be avoided. The circumstances noticed in my instructions may perhaps render the occupation of the Southern Island a matter of necessity or of duty to the natives. The only chance of an effective protection will probably be found in the establishment by treaty, if that be possible, or if not, then in the assertion, on the ground of discovery, of Her Majesty’s sovereign rights over the island. But in my inevitable ignorance of the real state of the case I must refer the decision in the first place to your own decision, aided by the advice which you will receive from the Governor of New South Wales.


I enclose, according to your desire, the draft of the Proclamation to be addressed to the Queen’s subjects at New Zealand, referring it, however, to Sir George Gipps and to your self to introduce any alterations which the facts of the case, when more clearly ascertained, may appear to you and to him to prescribe.


It is my intention that the Governor of New South Wales, or the Commissioners to be appointed by him, should conduct the whole investigation and settlement of the question regarding lands which may have been occupied in New Zealand by British subjects; and that you should be thus rescued from a position which might otherwise bring you into unfriendly relations with large numbers of those over whom you would be called to preside.


The Protector of Aborigines cannot be brought into any relation to you which would throw any doubt on the respective limits of your authority and his, because he would be in the fullest sense of the term your subordinate officer, yielding implicit obedience to all your lawful instructions, and reporting to you all his proceedings.


If the missionaries should not ultimately be able to under take the religious instruction of their fellow-countrymen, measures must of course be taken to supply the religious wants of the future colony. But in the uncertainty under which Her Majesty’s Government are at present compelled to act, I think it more safe to rely on the temporary assistance of the various missions in the island than to embark on any ecclesiastical arrangements which it might be ultimately impossible to complete, and the non-fulfilment of which might involve the ruin of any clergyman embarking in them.


It is impossible for me to prescribe the course to be pursued for the prevention of cannibalism, human sacrifices, and war- page 755 fare among the native tribes; but I have no difficulty in stating that if all the arts of persuasion and kindness should prove unavailing, practices so abhorrent from the first principles of morality and so calamitous to those by whom they are pursued should be repressed by authority, and, if necessary, by actual force, within any part of the Queen’s dominions. I am, however, convinced that habits so repulsive to our common nature as cannibalism and human sacrifice may be checked with little difficulty, because the opposition to them will be seconded by feelings which are too deeply rooted in the minds of all men, the most ignorant or barbarous not excepted, to be eradicated by customs, however inveterate, or by any errors of opinion, however widely diffused. The New Zealanders will probably yield a willing assent to your admonitions when taught to perceive with what abhorrence such usages are regarded by civilized men.


However much immediate advantage may be derived from convict labour, the benefit is purchased at last at so heavy a price that even if the welfare of the colony were alone in question I should regard the conversion of New Zealand into a penal settlement as a short-sighted policy; but when I advert to the effect of that measure on the aborigines, and on the administration of the criminal law in this Kingdom, my opposition to it is fixed and unalterable.


All the powers necessary to the proper conduct of your office will be conferred on you by Acts of the Government and Legislature of New South Wales, who will also make the necessary provision for the establishment of Courts of justice and a judicial system in New Zealand.


The Governor and Council will deliberate with you on the proper articles on which to impose import duties. It is a question which I must refer in the first instance to their judgment.

Lastly, I am perfectly aware of the great advantage which you might derive from a military force, and of the inconvenience to which the want of it may expose you. This, however, is a difficulty which must be encountered. It is impossible at the present time to detach any of Her Majesty’s troops to New Zealand, nor can I foresee any definite period at which it will be practicable to supply that deficiency. It will probably, therefore, be necessary to raise a Militia, or to embody an armed police. But this also is amongst the questions which must be reserved for consideration after your arrival, and upon which it will be your duty to consult with the Governor of New South Wales.

I have, &c.,


Captain Hobson, R.N., &c., &c.