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History of New Zealand. Vol. III.

History of New Zealand: First Edition, 1883.M

History of New Zealand: First Edition, 1883.M

“The work is full of valuable information; a very excellent index greatly adding to its usefulness, and enabling the mass of matter, which has been laboriously gleaned, to be used as a handbook by the students of colonial history.” — Daily Telegraph.

English interest in New Zealand history is centred in the record of the unequal struggle between the white settlers and the native race for the possession of the land, which seems likely to end in the extermination of the latter. In three closely-printed volumes of some 600 pages each, Mr. Rusden, with whose honourable career as Clerk to the Victorian Parliament Australians are familiar, has traced the annals of antipodal Britain from its first colonisation by Hawaiian refugees in the fourteenth century to the close of the past year. His main object has been to show the reckless cruelty and injustice of the treatment which the Maoris have constantly met with at the hands of Europeans, almost from the date of Cook's re-discovery, in 1769, of the islands discovered by Abel Jansen Tasman in 1642. The indictment he has drawn up is a long and heavy one, but ample proof is offered of every count, and the impression left on the mind of the reader is that the proof is valid. The author, though as enthusiastic an advocate of the Maoris as the well-known ‘Pakeha Maori,’ to whom we are indebted for that singular and striking book, ‘Old New Zealand,’ is not unmindful of their faults; and the savagery of the natives, illumined, though it often was, by traits of chivalric courtesy, may, indeed, well be pleaded as at least an extenuating circumstance in favour of the colonists… The war of 1861 grew out of a dispute concerning the sale of a tract of land, known as the Waitara block, over which rival chiefs claimed ‘mana’ or supremacy. The whole transaction is minutely described by Mr. Rusden, and the upshot page break of the evidence he presents is that the chief Rangitake, who was unwilling to join in or sanction the sale, had the better title. It was determined to take the land by force, and troops were sent to Taranaki for that purpose. Rangitake was careful not to begin hostilities; he erected a pah, and refused to surrender, but did not fire until the colonial forces had opened upon the fort with guns and rockets. The colonists felt that the struggle which ensued was one which threatened to overtax their resources; troops were hastily applied for from Australia, and the aid of the mother country was likewise invoked. Sir George Grey was sent out as governor, and, after a prolonged investigation of the Waitara matter, was obliged to acknowledge the validity of the native title, and to abandon the claim…

“The book is well written, in a vein of mingled enthusiasm and indignation that lends eloquence to many of its pages, but occasionally leads to what we cannot but think harsh judgments upon various public men. No pains seem to have been spared in collecting and collating authorities, and the record appears to be, on the whole, as trustworthy as it is minute. But we fear it is destined rather to cause the descendants of the present colonists to be ashamed of their foregoers than to induce the latter materially to alter their ways.” — Spectator, 19th May, 1883.

Mr. G. W. Rusden's ‘History of New Zealand’ forms three substantial volumes, and is a noteworthy monument of industry in research and of zeal in the employment of materials. Mr. Rusden's appetite for Blue-books and for the records of the Colonial Hansard is insatiable; nFor has he neglected the details of those military operations which, from the dawn of colonisation in the Pacific, have been almost a chronic feature of New Zealand annals. To this we may add that he has furnished an interesting condensed narrative of the visits of early voyagers and an equally interesting sketch of the country and of its original inhabitants. The distinguishing feature of the narrative is the strong sympathy which it displays with the Maoris, for whose claims Mr. Rusden pleads with a warmth which, if it has little of the judicial calm of a Hallam, is creditable to his love of justice. He is at all events able to inspire his readers with a strong interest in these remarkable people; nor is it possible to read without sympathy his indignant protests against the evasions which have been brought to bear by those who are anxious to get rid of the obligations imposed upon us by the Treaty of Waitanga. Happily there are still many bright pages in his narrative, notably those in which we find the names of William Martin, Bishop Selwyn, Walter Mantell, Marsden, and Gibbon Wakefield, or in which we come upon references to the noble and disinterested exertions of the Aborigines Society. The subject of the relations between colonists and native races as affected by Imperial control is necessarily a delicate and a difficult one. Mr. Rusden's work will do good if it helps to strengthen opinion in favour of a just and honest observance of national obligations. It page break has at least the advantage of appearing at a time when the conviction that morality forms, after all, the best and wisest foundation of public policy is rapidly gaining ground.” — Daily News, 6th September, 1883.

‘This History brings events up to 1882, and thus covers the whole period of the British connection with New Zealand. The author has brought to his task an evident and thorough knowledge of his subject, and has treated the matters which may be said to be his hobby exhaustively…” — Morning Post, 2nd March, 1883.

Mr. Rusden's three volumes are by far the most compendious work on ‘The History of New Zealand’ which has yet appeared. The story is not calculated to increase our national self-esteem. We have filled the island with our colonists—any nation could have done that; but we have not done what, judging by the analogy of Britain itself, the heathen Romans would have done—preserved and civilised the Maories… . Of course, there is another view—that the islands are the Pakeha's inheritance, and that the Maori is only an obstructive, to be got rid of in the way that is at once easiest and most effectual. We fear this is the view of a very large majority of English people. They may be converted from it if they will carefully read Mr. Rusden's painstaking and exhaustive narrative.” — Graphic.

We have to record the publication in three volumes of Mr. G. W. Rusden's ‘History of New Zealand.’ Mr. Rusden has brought to his task qualifications of a high order. His style is at once perspicuous and eloquent, and he has at the same time shown the most patient industry in exploring every original source of information open to him.

“The result is the production of the most complete as well as the most trustworthy history of New Zealand ever written.

“It begins with the first contact of the European with the Maori, and it ends with the painful story of Te Whiti and the confiscated lands of the West Coast. His narratives of the Treaty of Waitangi, of the Waitara and Waikato wars, of the Pai Marire fanaticism, and of the West Coast troubles, are especially interesting and ought to be read by every friend of the Maori race.

“His powerful indictment of the native policy pursued by the English rulers of New Zealand, and his unsparing exposure of the crimes which so-called Christian statesmen have committed in that country, call for the grave attention of the public, now that the colonial Government have apparently determined at all costs to open up the King country to settlement, and influential colonial statesmen are doing their best to disparage the Treaty of Waitangi.”— The Aborigines’ Friend, July, 1883.

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We must say that, as a repertory of facts, it will be difficult to beat this history.” — Echo (Dunedin, New Zealand), 16th June, 1883.

“No doubt Mr. Rusden is in some instances in the right. The superior intelligence of the Pakeha has more than once enabled him to take advantage of the lower development of the Maori. Certainly in the case of the ‘rape of the Waitara block’ at Taranaki the treaty of Waitangi was infringed. This ‘rape of the Waitara block’ is harped upon by Mr. Rusden on every possible occasion, and it was, he says, the source of all subsequent troubles. In this instance, no doubt, the tribal right was infringed.” — The Budget and Taranaki Weekly Herald, 27th October, 1883.