Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris
Long before the flag of England was hoisted in token that the sway of Queen Victoria was extended to New Zealand, in 1840, British subjects had trafficked with Maoris, and many of them had taken up their abode in the North Island.
When the Rev. Samuel Marsden yearned to make known the Gospel to the Maoris, he wrote in 1814:—“They are as noble a race of men as are to be met with in any part of the world. I trust I shall be able, in some measure, to put a stop to those dreadful murders which have been committed upon the island for some years, both by the Europeans and the natives. They are a much-injured people, notwithstanding all that has been said against them.”
Marsden's labours can be learned from general history.
The “dreadful murders” became the subject of legislation in England in 1817. An Act (57 Geo. III., cap. 53) provided a mode of trial for the “grievous murders and manslaughters “committed” by the masters and crews of British ships, and other persons, who have, for the most part, deserted from and left their ships.”…
But the plague was not stayed. In 1830, a frightful atrocity, in which a British subject was an actor—stirred the Governor of New South Wales (General Darling) to action. He considered that the character of the nation was implicated in the “atrocious conduct of Captain Stewart and his crew, and that every possible exertion should be used to bring the offenders to justice.” Like many others who strive to remedy the wrongs of their fellow-creatures, Governor Darling failed in this instance. His legal advisers “entertained doubts whether there were sufficient grounds for putting the parties on their trial.” Witnesses were spirited away. Able counsel took the cause of the criminal in hand; complained against his being held to “bail for an indefinite period; “and though, perhaps, none doubted his guilt, he was finally “discharged on his own recognizance in the sum of £1,000.” But a Committee of the House of Commons declared in 1836 that “those who might have been witnesses were suffered to leave the country. Thus, then, we see that an atrocious crime, involving the murder of many individuals, has been perpetrated through the instrumentality of a British subject, and that yet, page 2 neither he nor any of his accomplices have suffered any punishment.”
Nevertheless, Governor Darling made his power felt in the repression of what he denounced as the “barbarous traffic” in human heads in which some British subjects were engaged at New Zealand. A Secretary of State (Lord Goderich) did not wait for the opinion of the House of Commons on the failure of justice in the case of Stewart. He wrote to Darling's successor:—“It is impossible to read without shame and indignation these details.”
The English Government took various measures to vindicate the character of the nation.
They appointed a British Resident (Mr. James Busby) in 1832. In 1834, they recognized a New Zealand flag, which was formally saluted by the commander of a British ship of war.
In 1835, the British Resident, at the Bay of Islands, aided thirty-five chiefs in a declaration of their independence, at a time when they suspected that “the tribe of Marion” (the French) were about to take away their land.
They were designated as “the United Tribes of New Zealand.” The conduct of the Resident was approved in England.
But, however kindly might be the disposition of the Government, there were terrible evils to which the Maoris were exposed by the irruption of a dissolute European population on the island.
Samuel Marsden, whose missionary work had prospered to an unexpected degree, lamented bitterly in his later years the evils to which his Maori disciples were subjected by contact with uncontrolled Europeans. “These are,” he said, “generally men of the most in famous character—runaway convicts and sailors, and publicans, who have opened grog-shops in the pahs, where riot, drunkenness, and prostitution are carried on daily.… Some civilized Government must take New Zealand under its protection, or the most dreadful evils will be committed by runaway convicts, sailors, and publicans.”
The good tidings conveyed by Marsden and some others had done much. The Bishop of Australia (Broughton), after a visit to the Bay of Islands, in 1838, reported to the Church Missionary Society that “the chief and the slave stood side by side with the same holy volume in their hands.”
Captious men have disputed whether the extinction of slavery in Europe was the work of Christianity. None can deny that such was the case in New Zealand. When England abolished slavery in the Colonies, she gave pecuniary compensation to the slave-owners. At a great price she bought human creatures from her own subjects in order to make them free.
In New Zealand, touched by the wand of Christianity, the slave-owners themselves, the hereditary lords of their fellow-men—wielding the power of life and death, commanding without resistance, and almost worshipped by their dependents—of their free will enfranchised all their slaves. Cruel in war, and savage in many customs, the Maori has been depicted elsewhere by me without concealment of his page 3 faults. But the giving of freedom to their slaves may stand as an almost unrivalled act of self-sacrifice and charity on the part of the Maori chiefs, and though it has found few admirers in this world, it may not be forgotten in the next. When the noble Bishop Selwyn went to New Zealand in 1842 (twenty-eight years after Marsden's first visit), he thus described its people:—“We see here a whole nation of pagans converted to the faith. A few faithful men, by the Spirit of God, have been the instruments of adding another Christian people to the family of God. Young men and maidens, old men and children, all with one heart and with one voice praising God; all offering up daily their morning and evening prayers; all searching the Scriptures to find the way of eternal life; all valuing the Word of God above every other gift; all, in a greater or less degree, bringing forth and visibly displaying in their outward lives some fruits of the influences of the Spirit. Where will you find, throughout the Christian world, more signal manifestations of that Spirit, or more living evidences of the kingdom of Christ?”
Such was the aspect of one side of the shield. On the other were the gloomy portents described and dreaded by Marsden, and not unrecognized by the Committee of the House of Commons in 1836, when it denounced the “atrocious” and unpunished crime of Stewart.
A Committee of the House of Lords took evidence also in 1838.
Efforts were made in 1837, 1838 and 1839 to found a British Colony in New Zealand.
A Bill for founding a Colony was rejected at the second reading by the House of Commons.
How the able and energetic Gibbon Wakefield dispensed with Parliamentary sanction, and in what manner Her Majesty's Government were induced to found the Colony of New Zealand in 1840, may be read in history.
These pages must be mainly confined to certain grievances inflicted on the Maoris in defiance of the terms of the solemn Treaty made with them in the name of the Queen on the foundation of the Colony.
In instructing Captain Hobson, who, under guidance of the able Governor of New South Wales (Sir George Gipps), was to arrange that Treaty, the Secretary of State (the Marquis of Normandy) announced (14 August, 1839), that Her Majesty's Government concurred with the Committee of the House of Commons in 1836 “in thinking that the increase of national wealth and power, promised by the acquisition of New Zealand, would be a most inadequate compensation for the injury which must be inflicted on this kingdom itself, by embarking on a measure essentially unjust, and but too certainly fraught with calamity to a numerous and inoffensive people whose title to the soil and to the sovereignty of New Zealand is indisputable, and has been solemnly recognized by the British Government.”*
* Parliamentary Papers, 1841.
Lest such persons should “repeat, unchecked in that quarter of the globe the same process of war and spoliation,” and “to mitigate and if possible to avert these disasters, and to rescue the emigrants themselves from the evils of a lawless state of society,” it had been determined to found a Colony, and this could only be honourably done by a Treaty with the Maoris.
‘Her Majesty Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, regarding with Her Royal favour the native chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and anxious to protect their just rights and property, and to secure to them the enjoyment of peace and good order, has deemed it necessary (in consequence of the great number of Her Majesty's subjects who have already settled in New Zealand, and the rapid extension of emigration, both from Europe and Australia which is still in progress) to constitute and appoint a functionary, properly authorised to treat with the aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her Majesty's sovereign authority over the whole or any part of the islands. Her Majesty therefore being desirous to establish a settled form of civil government with a view to avert the evil consequences which must result from the absence of the necessary laws and institutions, alike to the native population and to Her subjects, has been graciously pleased to empower and to authorize me, William Hobson, a captain in Her Majesty's Royal Navy, Consul and Lieutenant Governor over such parts of New Zealand as may be, or hereafter shall be, ceded to Her Majesty, to invite the confederated and independent chiefs of New Zealand to concur in the following articles and conditions:—
Article the First.—The chiefs of the confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent chiefs who have not become members of the confederation, cede to Her Majesty, the Queen of England absolutely, and without reservation all the rights and powers of sovereignty which the said confederation or independent chiefs respectively exercise or possess over their respective territories, as the sole sovereigns thereof.Article the Second.—Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive andpage 5 undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession. But the chiefs of the United Tribes, and the individual chiefs, yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of pre-emption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate, at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.
* Parliamentary Papers, 1840 . By order of the New Zealand Government a fac-simile of the original document and signatures was published in New Zealand in 1877, together with the declaration of independence of 1835.
Article the Third.—In consideration thereof, Her Majesty, the Queen of England, extends to the natives of New Zealand her Royal protection, and imparts to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.—W. Hobson.
Now therefore we, the chiefs of the confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand, being assembled in congress at Waitangi, and we, the separate and independent chiefs of New Zealand, claiming authority over the tribes and territories which are specified after our respective names, having been made fully to understand the provisions of the foregoing Treaty, accept and enter into the same in the full spirit and meaning thereof.
In witness whereof we have attached our signatures or marks at the places and dates respectively specified.
Done at Waitangi this 6th day of February in the year of our Lord, 1840.” (Many Maori names were subscribed).
Hobson wrote to Sir George Gipps that “The Treaty was signed by forty-six head chiefs in presence of at least five hundred of inferior degree.” He also deputed British officers to carry the Treaty throughout the islands of New Zealand. Major Bunbury, 80th Regiment, was specially enjoined while engaged in obtaining the signatures of chiefs to “offer a solemn pledge that the most perfect good faith would be kept by Her Majesty's Government, that their property, their rights and privileges should be most fully preserved.”
Sir George Gipps transmitted the Treaty of Waitangi to Lord John Russell, the Secretary of State who succeeded Lord Normanby, and Lord John Russell replied that “Her Majesty's Government entirely approve of the measures which you adopted, and of the manner in which they were carried into effect by Captain Hobson.”*
The Treaty was as formally ratified by the Queen as by the Maoris. The Blue Books and Hansard abound with tributes to its binding nature upon the British people and upon the Colonists.
* Parliamentary Papers, 1840, .
Lord Stanley answered (Feb. 1843), that he was “not prepared as Her Majesty's Secretary of State to join with the Company in setting aside the Treaty of Waitangi after obtaining the advantages guaranteed by it, even though it might be made with ‘naked savages,’ or though it might be treated by lawyers as a praiseworthy device for amusing and pacifying savages for the moment.
Lord Stanley entertains a different view of the respect due to obligations contracted by the Crown of England, and his final answer to the demands of the Company must be that, as long as he has the honour of serving the Crown, he will not admit that any person or any government, acting in the name of Her Majesty, can contract a legal, moral, or honorary obligation to despoil others of their lawful and equitable rights.”*
At a later date, 13 June, 1845, he wrote to a Governor in New Zealand,† “In the name of the Queen I utterly deny that any Treaty entered into and ratified by Her Majesty's command, was or could have been made in a spirit thus disingenuous, or for a purpose thus unworthy. You will honourably and scrupulously fulfil the conditions of the Treaty of Waitangi.”
Sir Robert Peel, speaking in Parliament (19 June, 1845), asked if the House could resist the appeal made by the Ngapuhi chief Waka Nene to the equity and honour of the English nation. “I will say (he added) that if ever there was a case where the stronger party was obliged, by its position, to respect the demands of the weaker, if ever a powerful country was bound by its engagements with the weaker, it was the engagement contracted under such circumstances with these Native chiefs.”
The Treaty has never been cancelled. No Governor of New Zealand has done otherwise than declare to the Maoris that it is sacred.
The Constitution Act of 1852 (15 & 16 Vict. cap. 72) contained no word of disparagement of the Treaty: but it did contain clauses which enabled Her Majesty to preserve rights guaranteed to the Maoris.‡
Clause 71 enabled her to set apart particular districts in which the “Laws, Customs and Usages” of the Natives should be maintained “any Law, Statute, or Usage in force in New Zealand, or in any part thereof, in anywise notwithstanding.”
* House of Commons Blue Book, 1844, Vol. XIII. App. No. 2, p. 36.
† House of Commons Blue Book, 1844, Vol. XXX. (337).
‡ This Act was carried by Sir John Pakington in the ministry of Lord Derby. It is often asserted that acts of liberality to the Colonies have sprung from so-called Liberal ministries. The truth is that the control over their revenues, the administration of the Crown lands, the discontinuance of transportation to Tasmania—all of which had been denied by Whig Governments—were conceded by Sir John Pakington (the first two in reply to Wentworth's famous “Remonstrances” to which Earls Russell and Grey turned uncompliant ears and gave offensive answers.)
Clause 73 retained for Her Majesty the sole right to acquire or accept from the Natives land “belonging to, or used or occupied by them in common as tribes or communities.”
The 58th clause enabled Her Majesty to dis-allow Bills passed in New Zealand, and the 59th deprived of any force any reserved Bill to which the assent of Her Majesty might not be given.
The Treaty spoke so plainly for itself that it needed some effrontery to question its meaning. But greed for land and the exigencies of an embarrassed company prompted the use of arguments of which the arguers might well have been ashamed; and which, while Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister, and Lord Derby was at the head of the Colonial Department, had no power to warp the English nation to wrong the Maoris, or to permit others to do so,
The pages of Hansard show how Captain Rous, Sir H. Douglas, Mr. Cardwell, Sir James Graham, and Sir Robert Peel defended the cause of justice in the House of Commons in 1845, when Lord Stanley had taken his seat in the House of Lords.
The constant endeavour of those who desired to defraud the Maoris was to depreciate the Treaty. In the House of Commons one member complained that Sir Robert Peel had repeated “all the flummery about the Treaty;” but the House declined to listen to such unworthy counsels.
When the Treaty has been violated in later years, it can hardly be said that either Englishmen or Colonists generally have been aware of what was being done by the prime movers in the wrong.
It requires a robust morality, however, to intervene to undo a wrong by means of which a worldly advantage is supposed to be procurable. I have always been careful to recognize the fact that the Colonists were not active accomplices in many of the wrongs inflicted on the Maoris. Those who wished to extirpate the Maori race, cared little whether that end was accomplished in the field, or by decay. The cumbering Maoris were to be destroyed. The bulk of the Colonists had no such desires, but their humanity did not assume the form of controlling the inhumanity of others.
As a motive for exposing iniquities it has seemed to me possible that a wider revelation of the wrongs done in the name, but not by command of the Queen, may tend to lighten the oppression which has so long been inflicted upon a race which reposed its trust in her.
With such a motive one may hope that all, whose good opinion is valuable, will sympathize.
The instance already given of the manner in which the New Zealand Company besought Lord Stanley to break faith with the Maoris must suffice for these pages. Many others might be adduced.
The Company had friends in England, and sought to damage the Treaty through a Committee of the House of Commons in 1844.
A Committee of fifteen, amongst whom was a member of the Company, did, in effect, carry resolutions which alluded to the “so-called Treaty of page 8 Waitangi,” and suggested that maugre the clear terms of the Treaty it would not have been unjust to claim “all unoccupied land” for the Crown.
Mr. Cardwell's counter-proposition that the Treaty was “binding in conscience and policy on the British Government” was only lost in the Committee by one vote: and the House never adopted the Report of the Committee. But it had been printed, and when Clarke, the Protector of the Aborigines in New Zealand, saw it, he warned the Governor, Captain Fitzroy, that “Your Excellency (to secure you from the effect of such publications) has need of both steamers and an army to ensure the peace of the country,” which could not but be disturbed by the circulation of the Report. Fitzroy himself wrote “I cannot believe that those most dangerous resolutions of the House of Commons in 1844, respecting unoccupied land can be adopted by Her Majesty's Government.” Fortunately they were Resolutions not of the House, but of a Committee.
In spite of Fitzroy's precautions the Report was sufficiently known to enable designing persons to stir suspicion amongst the most impressible of the Maoris. It was believed by many that the attack upon Kororarika would not have been made by Honi Heke in 1845 if the suggestions of the Report had not been represented to him as disloyal to the Treaty.
That it was not mere rumour among the thoughtless which attributed mischief to the Report, was proved by the fact that the sagacious Sir George Gipps, the Governor of New South Wales, expressed his “fear that the want of troops to keep in check the natives, and to preserve peace between the two races would be more extensively felt in proportion as the late Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons should become generally known in the Colony.”
The eagerness with which the New Zealand Company strove to work their will in England is shown by the fact that Sir Robert Peel (18th March 1845) adverted to their activity in the House of Commons thus—“There were eight gentleman, therefore, on the opposite benches, and seven out of the eight were members of the New Zealand Company.” While Sir Robert Peel was in power the House of Commons, though vehemently urged, refused to sanction any violation of the Treaty of Waitangi.
But that great minister fell before a mean coalition in 1846.
Earl Grey succeeded Lord Stanley at the Colonial office. He having as Lord Howick, in the House of Commons, joined in assailing the the integrity of the Treaty of Waitangi, now (like Lord Stanley) was in the House of Lords; and promptly availed himself of his position as Minister by causing “the Groans of the Maoris” to be heard in England with an accompaniment of sympathy from some of the noblest Englishmen who stood on the soil of New Zealand.
His position as an incoming Minister enabled him to pass a Bill without delay. With the new Statute he sent (December 1846) to the Governor (Grey) a new Charter and new Instructions. The latter were page 9 to elicit groans and indignant remonstrance from men of such high mark that the Earl was fain to abandon his schemes.
It is more with the remonstrances than with the Instructions that these brief pages must deal. It may be stated broadly that the latter expressly denied to the Maoris the rights expressly guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi; and that the Earl wrote that he “entirely dissented” from the doctrine that “aboriginal inhabitants of any country are the proprietors of every part of its soil of which they have been accustomed to make any use, or to which they have been accustomed to assert any title.”
The Governor not only abstained from publishing but cogently remonstrated against the Instructions before their purport was publicly known in the Colony.
When they became known there in June 1847, Bishop Selwyn made a “formal and deliberate” protest against them.
“It is my duty also to inform Your Excellency that I am resolved, God being my helper, to use all legal and constitutional measures befitting my station to inform the natives of New Zealand of their rights and privileges, and to assist them in asserting them and maintaining them, whether by petition to the Imperial Parliament, or other loyal and peaceable methods.”
Another noble-minded man, William Martin, Chief Justice of New Zealand, aided the Bishop. In a pamphlet printed (1847) but not published—“England and the New Zealanders”—he laid bare the injustice which Earl Grey's instructions contemplated.
A petition from the Bishop, the Chief Justice, and others, prayed that the Instructions might be revoked as derogatory to the honour of the Queen.
Governor Grey, while abstaining from promulgating the Instructions strove to allay the excitement which rumours about them had produced.
Captain Sotheby of H.M.S. Racehorse, with the Ngapuhi chief Waka Nene, visited many chiefs and assured them on the “authority of the Governor that there was no truth in the report that the Government claimed all land “not under tillage.” This was true inasmuch as the Governor was included in the word Government. But if Earl Grey's Instructions had been carried out the possession of Maori “lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other property,” solemnly guaranteed in the Treaty of Waitangi, would have been taken away.
The tact displayed by the Governor in dealing with the position must be read in general History.
The Groans of the Maoris are the subject of these pages.
The great chief Te Whero Whero, and his friends, winged their words to the Queen. “O Madam the Queen… hearken to our words, the words of all the chiefs of Waikato… May God grant that you may hold fast our word, and we your word, for ever. Madam, listen; news is going about here that your Ministers are talking of taking away the land of the natives without cause, which makes our hearts dark.page 10
But we do not believe this news, because we heard from the first Governor that the disposal of the land is with ourselves. And from the second Governor we heard the same word, and from this Governor.
They have all said the same. Therefore we write to you that you may be kind to us, to your friends that love you. Write your thoughts to us that peace may prevail among the natives of these islands.”
A Wesleyan Mission Committee in London, armed with complaints from missionaries in New Zealand, swelled the volume of protests against the violation of the Treaty.
The result was that Te Whero Whero and his brother chiefs were informed that there was “no foundation for the rumours to which they allude, and that it never was intended that the Treaty of Waitangi should be violated by dispossessing the tribes which are parties to it. . . On the contrary, Her Majesty has always directed that the Treaty should be scrupulously and religiously observed.”
Thus, the “Groans of the Maoris” when they were powerful, aided by the noble Selwyn and Martin,* averted evil in 1847.
A new measure was introduced in the English Parliament. In debate the conduct of Bishop Selwyn was defended by Mr. Roundell Palmer (now Lord Selborne) and others; Mr. Gladstone declared (Hansard, Vol. XCVI. p. 342.) that “as far as England was concerned there was not a more strictly and rigorously binding treaty in existence than that of Waitangi;” Mr. Labouchere pledged the government to respect the Treaty; and great power was left in the hands of Governor Grey, who had shown marked ability in the difficult position into which Earl Grey's instructions had forced him.
Another notable occasion on which Maoris made their complaints known in England, was one on which they again received aid from Bishop Selwyn and Sir William Martin.
It would be tedious to insert here, a detailed statement of the Waitara case.
One remarkable testimony to the accuracy of my view of the matter has recently been furnished by the high authority of Mr. Fenton who was for many years Chief Judge of the Native Land Court in New Zealand.
* Chief Justice Martin, whose “Remarks” on Earl Grey's Despatch had been printed and forwarded to statesmen in England, and Selwyn, were upbraided for their “perilous appeal to the feelings of the natives,” and some persons thought the Chief Justice's office was in danger. He calmly left it to Her Majesty's Government to decide whether his conduct in striving to secure peace was justifiable, and whether it would be for the public advantage that he should still retam the office entrusted to him.
Selwyn also officially replied that “we all with one voice, as the friends and advisers of this native people, have persuaded them to put their trust in the good faith of England; and with one voice we will protest against any infringement, either in word or act, of the rights of British subjects which they acquired by cession of their independent sovereignty.” To a friend the Bishop wrote that he would rather that Earl Grey “cut me in pieces than induced me by any personal compliments to resign the New Zealanders to the tender mercies of men who avow the right to take the land, and who would not scruple to use force for that purpose.”
A few lines will state the broad facts of the case. Those who care to follow all its windings will find them in other volumes.
Te Rangitake, better known among the colonists as Wiremu Kingi, or William King, was a notable chieftain of the Ngatiawa tribe.
That tribe held possessions in various parts of the North Island.
The powerful section of it which dwelt at Waitara on the West Coast had, by co-operation with Rauparaha the Ngatitoa chief, acquired lands at Waikanae and in Cook's Straits; and Te Rangitake, with his father and others, had (about the year 1827) gone to Waikanae to possess the land.
They left many members of their tribe at the Waitara, but in accordance with custom, common in other places as well as in New Zealand, they retained their titles to their original lands, while they went to occupy their new acquisitions.
It was notorious that Te Rangitake himself constantly declared his intention to return to his native place.
One of the pretended purchases made by the New Zealand Company comprehended Te Rangitake's land at the Waitara.
They were elastic enough to comprehend places of which the pretending buyer had never even heard.
Mr. Spain, a Commissioner deputed by the English Government to examine all of them, formally reported thus:—“It appears to me as the evidence has gone;—that all the Company's purchases were made in a very loose and careless manner; that the object of the Company's agents, after going through a certain form of purchase, seems to have been to procure the insertion in their deeds of an immense extent of territory, the descriptions of which were framed from maps, and by obtaining the names of ranges of mountains, headlands and rivers, and were not taken from the native vendors; and that such descriptions were generally written in the deeds before the bargain for the purchases was concluded:
That these parcels contained millions of acres, and in some instances, degrees of latitude and longitude:
That the agents of the Company were satisfied with putting such descriptions in their deeds, without taking the trouble to enquire, either at the time of, or subsequently to the purchase, whether the thousands of Aboriginal inhabitants occupying the surface of these vast tracts of country had been consenting parties to the sale.
I am further of opinion that the natives did not consent to alienate their pahs, cultivations, and burying-grounds: That the interpretation between the Aborigines and the agents of the Company in the alleged purchases was exceedingly imperfect, and tended to convey in but a very slight degree, any idea to the former of the extent of territory which the latter by these purchases pretended to have acquired, and that the explanation by the interpreters of the system of reserves was perfectly unintelligible to the Natives.”*
* This passage was reprinted in a work, The New Zealand Question, published London in 1848, by T. C. Newby. It was contained in a Report to the government in New Zealand.
When there seemed some risk that the New Zealand Government was about to recognize claims of the New Zealand Company at the Waitara, Te Rangitake wrote to Governor Fitzroy (June 8th, 1844.) “Waitara shall not be given up… The Ngatiawas are constantly returning to their land, the land of their birth… Friend, Governor, do you not love your land—England, the land of your fathers—as we also love our land at Waitara?”
The Governor (Fitzroy) and Bishop Selwyn, whose influence was already great, hastened to the spot. Mr. Donald McLean, the Rev. Mr. Whiteley (a Wesleyan Missionary), Mr. Forsaith, and others, were there to assist: and the Governor decided the matter in a way against which those who wished to do injustice to the Maoris never ceased to rail.
Mr. Spain, the Commissioner, not recognizing the full claims of absentee owners, had recommended an award, which Governor Fitzroy, having full power so to do, declined to adopt; and, aided in his inquiries by those best acquainted with the Maoris and versed in their customs, he obtained the consent of the Maoris to an arrangement by which a block of land was secured for the New Zealand Company by payment of a small sum of money.
One writer sneered at the Governor for giving weight to the “customs of barbarism,” for being “blinded by maudlin sentimentality,” and “spurred on by the missionary clique to dispossess the Company of the finest territory they had ever acquired.”
It was indeed the richness of territory which whetted the appetite of the Governor's detractors; and which, from 1844 to 1881, spurred on the unscrupulous to practise every wile, and shrink from no injustice, in order to wrest the land from its rightful owners.
A few lines may be quoted here from a statement made by myself as to the rights of those owners. I cite them, instead of using others, because they have been approved of by the high authority of Mr. Maning, the author of “Old New Zealand, by a Pakeha Maori.”
Mr. Maning was an inhabitant of New Zealand before the English Colony was founded; but his sagacity and power were recognized by the Colonial Government, when he was long afterwards appointed a Judge of the Native Land Court. On seeing my statement he wrote to me (30th April, 1883):—“I cannot help writing to say that I admire your short and correct description of the tenure of land by the Maoris amongst themselves. The Ariki was trustee for the whole tribe, and had the right of veto on any alienation, which was exercised at Waitara unsuccessfully by Wi Kingi te Rangitake.”
The passages commended by Mr. Maning were as follows:—
“The land was the domain of the people, and though by separate cultivation a man had a right to the product, he acquired no fee simple of the land. Over the whole domain the tribe hunted, and as the kiore or native rat was snared in distant places, the boundaries of each territory were well known, and, if necessary, defined by marks.page 13
“Alienation to a foreigner could not be the act of the separate occupier. Only common consent could alienate the common property.
“In the same manner, if a hapu, or sub-tribe, of a neighbouring clan, was invited to settle on the lands of a tribe, the new-comers, under the general tribal sanction, acquired such rights as any occupier of the inviting tribe could have possessed. Inheritance was from father to son…
“Where land was proverbially a cause of war, titles orally preserved became hopelessly involved. The paramount authority of the chief, his ‘mana,’ was the only safeguard. Chiefs descended from the leaders of the emigration from Hawaiki were deemed to have special ‘mana’ over the tribal land. The chief could not sell the village of his friends, nor the patrimony of any of them; but the tribe required his sanction to make good their own transactions.*
“Strange rights accrued and multiplied. A fishing right possessed by a man's father entitled him to compensation, and the owner of the spot could not sell without satisfaction to the claimant. Marriage relations conferred partial rights. One man claimed compensation because his grandfather had been murdered on land, another because his own grandfather committed the murder. If wise counsels could not allay strife, fresh fighting conferred fresh rights. Conquest— absolute conquest with occupation—gave indefeasible title. But if a remnant of a defeated tribe escaped death or captivity, it preserved its rights, except as to those portions of its birthright which the conquerors chose to occupy, to till or to hunt or fish over.”
There are other characteristics of Maori land-law and usages, but it is unnecessary to dwell upon them.
The incidents of tenure among the Maoris are not peculiar to them among the families of the world.
Many of them are almost identical with those described by Tacitus as prevailing among the Teutonic ancestors of the bulk of the English nation. Sir Henry Maine tells us that the “village community of India exhibits resemblances to the Teutonic township which are much too strong and numerous to be accidental.”
The absence of cattle-ownership in New Zealand, entailed a difference with regard to the waste or common land (on which, in Germany the Teutonic cattle were fed), but the fishing and forestry rights were co-extensive with the tribal domain.
* This fact was strongly impressed upon Mr. Commissioner Spain, the lawyer entrusted by Lord John Russell with the duty of inquiring into land-claims in New Zealand. Spain had agreed to meet some chiefs at Ohau, to discuss a proposed purchase. The paramount chief, Rauparaha, heard of the conference and arrested it. “Breaking at once into the midst of the meeting, he made a long and violent speech, in which, in a loud tone, and with angry gestures, he bade us go on our way to Manawatu, forbade the natives to proceed with the sale, and denounced the whole aflair in no measured terms.” Thus as early as in 1844, the function of a chief in forbidding a sale was recognized by a British Land Commissioner.
The “power of absorption” of visitors in a tribe, which Sir Henry Maine says that the village communities may “be inferred to have possessed in the earlier stages of development,” was a recognized practice among the Maoris, and the Native Land Court in New Zealand has decided that the visitors thus received, acquired by Maori custom well known and recognized rights in the soil, constituting them owners along with the inviting tribe.
With much similarity to the choice of leaders in war, which Tacitus describes as extant in Germany, there was also in New Zealand a peculiarly important character ascribed to the Ariki, the hereditary head of the tribe, who was “tapu,” or sacred, in the highest degree and without whose consent, according to the Maori usages which the Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed to the Maori chiefs and people, no tribal land could be alienated.
As the Maori possessed no flocks or herds, he became an assiduous cultivator.
His skill was noticed by Cook and Sir Joseph Banks in 1769. They saw plantations where “the ground was as well broken down and tilled as even in the gardens of the most curious people among us.”
Though the cultivator was not the absolute owner of the land thus carefully tilled, he was protected by the whole tribal force in the use of it.
A marked feature in the Maori character was veneration for ancestors. To desecrate the place where their bones were deposited was a heinous offence, and it was incumbent upon all to avenge it, in ancient times. After the acceptance of the Sovereignty of the Queen, it was natural that in serious cases the authority of the Crown should be appealed to, to guard those interests, whether of the chief or of the tribe, whether collective or individual, which the Queen had solemnly undertaken to protect.
It is a lamentable fact that the most signal instance of the vain groans of the Maoris, and of the futile protests of their noble champion, Bishop Selwyn, was furnished in the case of a chief whose joint interest in the land seized by the Local Government was indisputable, and who also had the paramount right of chieftainship to forbid a sale, if even he had had by descent no special interests in the particular plot. Moreover he had laid the colonists under deep obligation by dissuading his countrymen from an attack upon Wellington.*
* Sir W. Fox, and Sir Dillon Bell wrote in an elaborate Report made in 1880— “It is worthy of remark that the settlement of Wellington was probably saved from destruction by the act of Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake… We believe that if his loyalty had been requited as it ought to have been, we might never have known him otherwise than as a friend.” Blue Book 1882. (C. 3382) p. 49.
Great interest seems to have been brought to bear in England in order to reverse the judgment of Governor Fitzroy as to the Taranaki land-claim put forward by the New Zealand Company.
Fitzroy had over-ruled, as he had the power to over-rule, the opinion of Spain, the Commissioner who had erroneously ignored the rights of absentee Ngatiawas to their Taranaki lands. Such rights were clearly unimpeachable in Maori law; and, supported by Bishop Selwyn, by Clarke, the Protector, by the Rev. Mr. Whiteley, a Wesleyan Missionary, Mr. Forsaith, the interpreter, and some others, Fitzroy after careful enquiry recognized those rights.
It is impossible to say in what manner the Company's agents brought influence to bear in England. But in July, 1846, Mr. Gladstone, then Secretary of State, wrote to the new Governor, Grey— “I indulge the hope that you may have found yourself in a condition to give effect to the award of Mr. Spain;… unless, indeed, which I can hardly think probable, you may have seen reason to believe that the reversal of the Commissioner's judgment was a wise and just measure.”
Thus tempted by his casuistical superior, the Governor endeavoured, but vainly, to dissuade Te Rangitake from his long meditated return to the land of his birth. The present Agent-General in England for New Zealand, Sir F. Dillon Bell, stated in 1860 in the New Zealand Parliament that “At one of the meetings, Te Rangitake declared the intention of himself and his people to return to the Waitara. Sir George Grey refused to grant them permission to do so, and Te Rangitake said he should return without it, and defied the Governor to prevent him.”
The language of rhetoric perhaps coloured this description of the conduct of Te Rangitake, who had ever been the friend of the English. He returned in 1848, with about five hundred and eighty-seven souls, to his birth-place, and re-occupied it with all necessary ceremonies.
A section of the Colonists viewed his return with animosity, because they coveted those rich lands which the New Zealand Company had pretended to purchase by obtaining signatures almost at random and inventing boundaries in the same manner.
A Wesleyan Missionary, Rev. J. Buller, thus described the proceedings of their Agent Colonel Wakefield—“He had bought—or was presumed to have bought—territories by degrees of latitude while in ignorance of the rightful owners.” In the case of the alleged purchase at Taranaki, Wakefield had deputed an ignorant interpreter to act for him. Finding it “impossible to collect the chiefs whose consent was requisite for the transfer of the land from Manawatu to Mokau under at least a week” Wakefield reported that he left his ignorant agent “to secure this fine territory,” and to “assemble the numerous chiefs resident on a coast line of 150 miles in a month's time when I am to return… and receive the written assent of page 16 the chiefs.” Within the space thus roughly spoken of, were domains of about ten different tribes.
I will not multiply these pages by inserting in them the full particulars which may be read by the curious, elsewhere. It is sufficient to say here that great efforts were made to induce some Maoris to sell land in defiance of the refusal of the majority of their tribe;—that after the intervention of a Land Commissioner in these forbidden transactions there were quarrels, and lives were lost, among the dissentient Maoris; that the Acting-Governor, General Wynyard, visited Taranaki and appealed to Te Rangitake to prevent the English from being molested in the armed turbulence caused by their own solicitations for unlawful transactions, and that Te Rangitake answered “Yes, our father, we will guard against all evil to the Pakeha . . I will go into the midst of them, and the evil shall fall on me.”
In 1855, Bishop Selwyn was on the spot; and Major Nugent, 58th Regt. reported that the Bishop's presence had “considerable influence in re-assuring the natives,” whose suspicions were aroused by the proceedings of the Superintendent and Council of Taranaki, (then one of the six Provinces into which the Colony was divided).
The Council complained to the Governor that Rawiri, when about to cut the boundary of land he was offering “to the Government with the sanction of the resident Land Commissioner, was shot by Katatore, who claimed an interest in the land and opposed the sale.”
It was true that Rawiri was thus shot, but not without repeated warning to desist, and the language of the Provincial Council showed that Rawiri found abettors among the settlers in violating the intended safeguards of the Treaty of Waitangi as to the tribal proprietary rights.
Bishop Selwyn endeavoured to stand between the wrong doers. He rebuked Katatore for shooting Rawiri. He declined to aid the settlers in their schemes. A Taranaki newspaper reviled him for sympathy with Katatore. In a pastoral letter to his flock at Taranaki the Bishop mentioned that he had condemned the murder of Rawiri “in the strongest language, even in the presence of the murderer.” He added that it was strange that their advisers in the “newspapers who dwell so much upon the sixth commandment, should forget altogether that the same law has said, Thou shall not covet… I offer to my countrymen my best assistance and influence with the native people in all their just and lawful desires, but I have no fellowship with covetousness, which Ahab found to be the first step to blood-guiltiness.”
On some minds the Bishop's manly justice made no impression. A newspaper had accused him of “lending his blighting influence to New Zealand “and “using his undoubted influence to shield notorious criminals from justice.”
The Bishop informed his flock that he would urge the Maoris to sell land amicably; but would “resist by all lawful means, every attempt to carry out any other interpretation of the Treaty of page 17 Waitangi than that in which it was explained to the natives by Governor Hobson, and understood and accepted by them.”
The land sold at Taranaki already was, he said, 30,000 acres and it had cost only ten-pence an acre! [After the death of Rawiri, a friend named Ihaia took up his cause, and when his pah was besieged some of the settlers aided him.] A new Governor, Colonel Gore Browne, visited Taranaki in 1855 and informed the Secretary of State that he had “given the strongest assurances of protection in all their rights to the Maoris, and declared his determination neither to interfere in native questions, nor to permit the purchase of lands until the owners are united in desiring to sell them, and have agreed upon the terms.” He “disapproved of the conduct of Cooper, the sub-commissioner, in commencing a survey of land before he was assured that all who had even a disputed title desired it should be sold.”
Thus, without approving the killing of Rawiri, Governor Browne coincided with Bishop Selwyn in condemning the acts which led to his death.
Other advisers besides the Bishop, advised the Governor well. Mr. Riemenschreider, a Wesleyan missionary, assured him that not only the Ngatiawa but other tribes recognized Te Rangitake as “the real and true chief of Waitara.”
The Governor appointed a Board to investigate the land question generally, in 1856, and their Report reiterated what was known already to all intelligent persons who had studied the subject.
They found that “each native has a right in common with the whole tribe over the disposal of the land of the tribe,” and that “the chiefs exercise an influence in the disposal of the land, but have only an individual claim like the rest of the people to particular portions.”*
Mr. Donald McLean and the Rev. Mr. Whiteley a Wesleyan minister, concurred. A Maori witness, Riwai-te-ahu, said “I consider there is no individual claim. They are all entangled or matted together—the children of our common ancestor claiming the land bequeathed to them.”
There was no doubt as to the Maori land-law, nor was there any doubt as to the guarantee in the Treaty of Waitangi that the law should be maintained.
But a section of the community hated the law and the Treaty, and at the coveted land at Taranaki they eventually induced the Governor to do what they required.
The Governor's general anxieties were somewhat increased in 1857 by the election of a so-called King in Waikato.
It was by gross mismanagement on the part of some of Governor Browne's advisers that Te Waharoa, the King-maker, was driven to the resort of creating a King because the local Government failed to appreciate their duty and would not aid the Governor in doing his.
* Blue Book 1861. (1341.) Presented by command, p. 200. C
It was also said that there was an organized anti-land-selling league to refuse to sell any land to the Government, but this was denied by many.
The determination to set aside the Treaty of Waitangi in obtaining land, could not but induce resistance to that determination, and that resistance would necessarily take form in some kind of organization.
Te Waharoa said the causes of setting up the Maori King “were many.” Amongst them was the injury done to his countrymen by the introduction of spirituous liquors contrary to the law and in spite of his constant efforts to arrest it.
At Taranaki the old blood-feud was suddenly revived in 1858, by an act of Ihaia, already mentioned as befriended by that section of the settlers which reviled Bishop Selwyn.
Ihaia laid a plot for the murder of Katatore, who was accordingly murdered in January, 1858, on the first occasion of being seen unarmed; and the murder was committed, and the body was mangled, in sight of Europeans.
Te Rangitake, “the head of the tribe,” took steps to punish the murderer, who took shelter in a pah. Strange sympathy was shown towards Ihaia by some Europeans. In May, 1858, the Speaker of the Provincial Council at Taranaki pleaded for him as having, “by his friendly, honest character, gained a foremost place in the esteem of the settlers… If at any time he has evinced hostility to the Government, he has always been actuated by a sincere desire to serve what he thought the cause of the settlers.” The petition fitly entreated the Governor to compel the natives to give up their lands. Governor Browne replied that, “in reference to a proposal to coerce a minority of native proprietors, who might be disinclined to sell,” he had already expressed an opinion that such a course would be unjust and impolitic, and Her Majesty's Government had conveyed to him “their unqualified approval of his views.”*
Governor Browne was ashamed of the support afforded to Ihaia. He wrote (Jan. 1858), “I have expressed strong disapprobation of the conduct of the gentleman who communicated with Ihaia after the murder;” (in April, 1858), “as the settlers' sympathies are generally with the besieged (Ihaia and friends), there is constant danger of collision between them and Te Rangitake.”
* Blue Book, 1860. Vol. XLVII.
By one outspoken settler, it was urged upon the Governor “that the Treaty of Waitangi, being no longer valuable to us, should be broken,” but the Governor declined to trouble the Secretary of State with any remarks “on such a document.”
Of the class to which the writer belonged, the Governor wrote (20th Sept., 1859), “The Europeans covet these lands, and are determined to enter in and possess them, recte si possint, si non, quocunque modo. This determination becomes daily more apparent.”*
There can be no doubt that Governor Browne wrote these words sincerely. But Governors are surrounded by others who warp events, and sometimes induce results differing widely from those which up right Governors would approve of.
Such was the case in New Zealand in 1860, and from that time till the present “the Groans of the Maoris” have arisen on account of a trampled Treaty, and Englishmen have been shamed by the rejection of the prayers of Bishop Selwyn and Sir William Martin, and by the dishonour done to their country.
Efforts, were made to poison the mind of the Governor against Te Rangitake, the old friend of the English, who was believed to have saved Wellington from being sacked.†
The Governor wrote in 1858 “Te Rangitake has no sort of influence with me or the Colonial Government. We believe him to be an infamous character, but I will not permit the purchase of land over which he has any right, without his consent.”
The history of the war of 1860, which was the cause and pre-cursor of the greater war of 1863, would occupy too much space in these pages. It must be perused elsewhere.
It is enough to say here that the Governor was induced to accept personally an offer by a prompted Maori, named Teira, to sell land which Teira had no power to sell, and in which Te Rangitake had a direct and tribal interest, as well as that rangatiratanga, or full right of chieftainship, which the Treaty of Waitangi had guaranteed to him and his countrymen.
Te Rangitake protested in vain. His appeals to the Governor and to his friends were scorned. His words were distorted into the opposite sense to that in which they were used.‡
* Blue Book. Accounts and Papers. Return; House of Commons, 1860, Vol. XLVII., p. 78.
† Vide note, p. 14, supra.
‡ Mr. Swanson complained of this in the New Zealand Parliament in 1881. “Why, the very Gazettes were falsified, The Maori was on one side and the English on the other, and there were falsehoods on the face of it. The English said, ‘The land is Teira's, but I will not allow it to be sold.’ What was on the Maori side? ‘The land was Teira's, but it is no more his property than the property of the rest of us, and I will not allow it to be sold,’ which made all the difference.… It was nothing but an attempt to rob Te Rangitake of his and; one of the most unjust things ever done.” N.Z. Hansard, 1881 vol. 40. p. 359.
Though, as the principal chief, he could forbid the sale, his attempt to do so was represented to the Governor as disloyalty to the Queen, to whom he all the while was appealing.
After his pah was attacked, it was charged against him that the Maoris had commenced the warfare, Fortunately, a military eyewitness, Lieutenant-Colonel Carey, has recorded the truth.* He tells us that it was after the destruction of Te Rangitake's pah that some Europeans were “attacked and killed on the Omata block.” He tells us also that in spite of this fact, the coveters of Maori lands accused the Maoris of commencing the war. “The fact (p. 25) that the deaths above alluded to, took place eight or ten days after our attack on this pah was carefully kept in the background by the local papers, which tried to make it appear, and for a long time succeeded in doing so, that the Maori had commenced the war by the murder of unarmed, unwarned, and inoffensive settlers. Whereas, war having been begun by us, the natives, naturally enough, considered this retaliation a legitimate mode of fighting.”
Colonel Carey testifies (p. 189) also that “the Colonists treated even the friendly tribes with the greatest brutality. The prisoners we took had to be most carefully guarded, not so much to prevent escape, as to save them from the un-English and unmanly attacks of the Europeans, who, when they could do so with safety, treated them with the greatest indignities. Widely different was the behaviour of the soldiers…”
It is true that the Maoris not only groaned, but fought, when they were attacked at Waitara. They knew that it was by pre-arrangement with some Europeans in Taranaki that Teira was put forward to offer the land to the Governor. They ought, perhaps, to have known that they would fail in warfare against British troops. But whither were they to go if their land was stolen? Te Rangitake wrote thus to Governor Browne, a few days before Teira was put forward to sell what was not his:—“These lands will not be given by us into your hands, lest we become like the birds of the sea, which are resting on a rock. When the tide flows, the rock is covered by the sea. The birds fly away because there is no resting place for them… I will not give you the land.”
* Narrative of the late War in New Zealand. By Lieutenant-Colonel Carey. Richard Bewley [sic: Bentley], London, 1863.
Mr. Forsaith also produced in the House, a letter from Te Rangi-take, which said “My belief is the Governor is seeking to quarrel, as he is putting death before me… If the Governor without cause attacks me, and I am killed, there will be no help for it, because it is an old saying:—The man first, the land afterwards— that is, first kill, and then take possession.”
Waharoa the Maori King-maker groaned thus about the murder of Katatore:—“He was waylaid and died by Ihaia. That was a foul murder. You looked on and made friends with Ihaia. That which we regard as a murder you set at nought; and you call that a murder which we deny to be one… Rangitake's pah was burned with fire: the place of worship was burnt; and a box containing Testaments; all was consumed—goods, clothes, all were consumed. The cattle were eaten by the soldiers; and the horses, 100 in number, were sold by auction by the soldiers.
It was this that disquieted the heart of Te Rangitake—his church being burnt with fire. Had the Governor given word not to burn his church, and to leave his goods and animals alone, he would have thought also to spare the property of the Pakeha.”
A groan from one hundred and seventy chiefs on the East Coast (far from the scene of rapine at Waitara) was addressed to the Queen —“Mother, do not listen to the false reports which, perhaps, are sent to you. They are false. Know then that the quarrel relates to the land only. We think it desirable that you should appoint a judge for this quarrel that it may be put an end to.” The Governor's advisers disparaged the petition; and, though sent to England, it was unheeded. One of the petitioners became in after-years an elected Maori member of the New Zealand Parliament.
It was not only by Maoris that Her Majesty's Government were implored to arrest the rape of the Waitara and the unjust war by which it was effected.
Bishop Selwyn and Sir William Martin spoke the words of wisdom and equity while the Governor's official supporters were darkening counsel and urging him to violence. While the Maoris sought the intervention of the Queen to maintain the Treaty, it was dinned into the Governor's ears, that Te Rangitake's desire to retain his land was an act of rebellion. A long despatch on Seignorial right was really a wordy repetition of this preposterous absurdity.
It was perfectly true that the head of the tribe had, by Maori law, the right to forbid a sale; but this right, far from being rebellious against the Queen, was one of those rights pertaining to Maori tenure which the Queen had guaranteed to the Maori chiefs, of whom Te Rangitake was one. He had indeed signed the Treaty with his own hand in 1840.
Te Rangitake had, of course, the other tribal rights which, as a page 22 Ngatiawa, he would have enjoyed if he had not been the acknowledged head of the tribe at Waitara. The real state of the case was that those who urged the Governor to infringe Te Rangitake's rights were themselves, unwittingly, disloyal to their Queen.
Governor Browne had desired a permanent council on Native affairs: and he had urged that if Bishop Selwyn and Sir William Martin could be induced to take seats in such a council “calumny would fall harmless and unheeded, while the presence of men so well-known and so thoroughly trusted by the Maoris, would secure to it an influence which no other European body could possibly acquire.” He wrote (2 June, 1859) that Martin held the “enviable distinction of being universally respected by all parties and both races.”
Both Selwyn and Martin groaned bitterly at the seizure of Te Rangitake's land. After the attack on Rangitake's pah the Bishop sent a deliberate protest to the Government. He claimed (28 April, 1860) for the Maoris an investigation of all land titles before a regular tribunal, with the usual safeguards of evidence, counsel, and right of appeal, and demanded that military force should not be employed till all civil measures might fail.
The Bishop appealed in vain. The local Government kept back his appeal while they spent weeks in concocting an answer to it. Their arguments (if they deserve such a name) are recorded elsew here and need not be repeated here. It may be well to state that they averred that if the Bishop “desired to arouse and stimulate the hatred of race, he could not do so more effectually than by such assertions.” As to a judicial trial of Te Rangitake's title, it “would under the circumstances, have been something more ludicrous than has yet been seen in our public dealing with the Maoris, which is saying a great deal.” It is remarkable that the ministry which thus vilipended a legal trial contained several lawyers. The complaints of the late chief justice, Sir William Martin, took the form of a careful pamphlet on “the Taranaki question.” So cogent was it that “Notes by the Governor on Sir William Martin's pamphlet” were prepared and officially promulgated.
A revised edition, not decorated with the Governor's name, was afterwards published. As the Notes contended that the words “tino rangatiratanga,” or full rights of chieftainship, in the Treaty of Waitangi, meant “ownership” and not full “chiefship” as Sir W. Martin contended, one may presume that the Governor was glad to have his name withdrawn.
Ordinary tribesmen had a tribal ownership, but the attributes pertaining to a Rangatira or chief were necessarily something more, especially when he was the recognized head among the chiefs.
The groans of Sir W. Martin, besides exposing (in “Remarks” on the Revised Notes) what he deemed defiance of the Treaty, arraigned the acts of the local Government on general grounds. “It is not lawful for the Executive Government to use force in a purely civil question without the authority of a competent judicial tribunal. In this case no such authority has been obtained, no such tribunal has page 23 been resorted to. If there was no existing tribunal, the duty of the Government was to establish one… To acquire the Waitara land was not a necessity. To do justice to the Queen's subjects was a necessity.”
Such a voice from the learned, the wise, and good, was unanswerable in the realms of reason. How would the reader think it was responded to? A member of the Government declared that Sir W. Martin's reasoning was “a public danger,” and the Governor promulgated a notice that the right of discussion was “dangerous” some times, and that “such an occasion exists now in this colony.” Thus piteously appealed to, Sir W. Martin, though his Remarks were privately printed, “abstained for the present from giving publicity within the colony” to them.*
“I have argued (he wrote) that the people of Waitara, being subjects of the Crown, have not been dealt with as subjects of the Crown.” The Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed to them “all the rights and privileges of British subjects,” and those rights “must mean at any rate the opposite of despotism.” What was it that the Governor's advisers “called by the name of the Crown” in the Waitara case? “The Governor judging in this case is simply and in fact Mr. Parris… The Majesty of the Royal word, and the largeness of the national undertaking issue in the decision of an assistant Land Purchase Commissioner.”
The war which followed the rape of the Waitara was not prosecuted without appeals or groans from the Bishop. But he was rudely told by a Minister that the latter denied the right of the clergy or Bishop to “interfere between Her Majesty's Government and her native subjects.”
The noble Bishop replied that when others support a “policy which we believe to be unjust, we should be guilty of betraying the Native race, who resigned their independence upon our advice, if we did not claim for them all the rights and privileges of British subjects, as guaranteed to them by the Treaty of Waitangi.”
No judicial enquiry as to Te Rangitake's rights was ever granted. The war of 1860 ended in 1861, and the greater war which the colonial government entered upon in 1863 by invading Waikato was also concluded, as regarded Waikato in 1864, though some of its embers in other districts were not quenched until 1865–6.
* The reader will observe that as my object is to set forth the condition of the Maoris and not to animadvert upon those who brought it about. I often abstain from using names of wrong-doers, except when they are needed to make the narrative intelligible. Of course in history, events must be told with greater fulness and precision. Mr. Maning, author of Old New Zealand, assured me that at this period he was implored not to publish his opinion that one of the acknowledged rights of a chief in Te Rangitake's position was to prevent the alienation of land, even if a majority should wish to alienate it. Mr. Maning declared to me that my opinions on the question were strictly correct. In 1860, he yielded to the entreaties made to him, which emanated from the highest quarters.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Ten thousand British troops smote down the Maoris in the war of 1863–4, after which period there was no organized resistance amongst the tribes.
It is believed that even in that war the Maoris had on no occasion so many as 600 men in their camp, or rather within their defences, in any one place, and it was not wonderful that from fortress to fortress, from Mere mere to Orakau, the English army swept the Waikato tribes from their path. Of Orakau the English General wrote: “It is impossible not to admire the heroic courage and devotion of the natives in defending themselves so long against overwhelming numbers. Surrounded closely on all sides, cut off from their supply of water, and deprived of all hope of succour, they resolutely held their ground for more than two days, and did not abandon their position until the sap had reached the ditch of their last entrenchment.” When they did abandon their position they marched, in a phalanx, melting under fire, through a portion of the lines which surrounded them. Again, when near Tauranga, the British troops annihilated an inferior force of the Maoris at Te Ranga, Colonel Greer reported that the latter “fought with desperation, and when at length compelled by the bayonet to quit the trenches, in which they left more than a tenth of their number dead, it was strange to see them slowly climb up, and disdaining to run, walk away under a fire that mowed them down, some halting and firing as they retired, others with heads bent down stoically and proudly receiving their inevitable fate.”
The British army thus crushed the Maori forces in 1864, and never afterwards was there any general resistance on the part of the natives. It may be added that in 1864, there were nearly ten thousand men in local forces acting with the British troops.
He who studies the annals of the time will find that while doing their duty many British soldiers regretted the necessity which compelled them to destroy men who had been forced to fight for their land of which the Treaty of Waitangi had guaranteed their peaceful possession, but which some greedy persons coveted. Colonel Carey's testimony as to the demeanour of the soldiery, as compared with that of some other persons, has been cited.
After the Maoris were crushed in 1864, there were terrible scenes in New Zealand. The Hau Hau superstition rose like an evil spirit from the ashes of past injustice and strife and stained the land. Bishop Selwyn, addressing a Synod of his church in 1865 said: “The war which seemed to have come to an end was renewed by the perversity of a few misguided men. Mixed with the new element of the confiscation of land it acquired a bitterness unknown before.”
To soften the horrors of war, to attend to the wounded, he had him self accompanied the English troops in 1864, and he wrote to a friend that his doing so had exposed him “to the imputation of having led the troops. This has thrown me back in native estimation, more, I page 25 fear than my remaining years will enable me to recover.” Confiscation of land would, to the Maori, look like premeditated spoliation. “Certainly nothing could look more like a determination to provoke a quarrel than the Waitara business… O, earth! earth! earth! such as been our cry. The Queen, law, religion, have been thrust aside in the one thought of the acquisition of land.”*
What the Bishop deplored as “the new element of the confiscation of land,” would not have been cast into the cauldron if the wise advice of the Secretary of State, Mr. (afterwards Lord) Cardwell had been taken.
When the British soldiery had taken the field in force, and the discomfiture of the Waikato tribes was a matter of certainty, the New Zealand Ministry (known as the Whitaker-Fox Ministry) introduced Bills called the “Suppression of Rebellion Bill,” and the “New Zealand Settlements Bill,” 1863. They became Acts.
Under the first, “suspected” persons might be tried by Court Martial. Nothing done under it could be investigated in the Supreme Court; the Habeas Corpus Act was dispensed with; and indemnity was given for all unlawful things already done.
The second enabled the Governor in Council to proclaim districts wherever “any native tribe, or section of a tribe (after 1st January, 1863), or any considerable number thereof, had been engaged in rebellion;”—and within such districts the Governor in Council might seize upon lands for settlement. Compensation to robbed Maoris might be awarded—excepting those who had warred or had “counselled, advised, induced, enticed, persuaded, or conspired with any person,” to levy war.
As suspected owners might be hanged under the Suppression of Rebellion Act, the compensation provided by the Settlements Act might be kept down to a low rate; but the astute Whitaker devised a mode of defeating the operation of the compensation clause. It was provided that no claim should be “entertained unless preferred in writing to the Colonial Secretary within six months” (if the claim-ant were residing in the Colony) after proclamation of his land. (27 Vic. No 8. Sec. 7.)
Outlawed Maoris who had taken refuge from British bayonets, from rifles, from shot, and shell, by fleeing to distant fastnesses, were invited to enter into correspondence about their land; although, when they had done so before, in appealing to the Treaty of Waitangi, their letters had been thrust aside, and troops had been sent to drive them from their homes.
* Letter to Rev. E. Coleridge, 26 Dec., 1865. “Life of Selwyn.’ London, 1879.
A natural consequence was, that no land could be confiscated without a breach of faith to those tribesmen who were still deemed loyal subjects.
Admitting that it was decent to break the Treaty, to rob a Maori, and to confiscate his share in land, for his resistance, there remained the difficulty that his share was only a joint right, and that on his death or removal, it accrued to the remainder of the tribe. He had no separate right which could be seized. All that he had was merged in the tribal stock.
Such a condition would have made most men adopt Mr. Cardwell's common-sense view, that if acquisition of land were deemed essential it should be brought about by a process known to Maori law; i.e., cession by tribal arrangement; and not by rough contempt of Maori law—not by confiscation and seizure—which defied the rights guaran teed by the Treaty of Waitangi.
Mr. Cardwell's Despatches are models of perspicuity and honourable to English statesmanship.
For the latter reason they were not pleasing to the section of the Colonists of whom Governor Browne had written that they were “determined to enter in and possess the lands recte si possint, si non, quocunque modo.”
The official defence of the Settlements Act, by Messrs. Whitaker and Fox, was well calculated to cause groans among the Maoris.
The Attorney General (Whitaker) remarked that as Maoris owned little personal property, “the permanent loss of their landed possessions” was that which they would feel the most. “It will be observed,” he added, “that the provisions of the Act may be made to include lands belonging to persons who have not justly forfeited their rights by rebellion. In order to carry out the scheme this is absolutely necessary.… The New Zealand native tenure of land is for the most part, in fact, with little or no exception, tribal; and if the principle were admitted that the loyalty or neutrality of a few individuals would preserve the lands of a tribe, the Act would for the most part be a dead letter, and that in districts where it is most required, and in which its operation would be perfectly just.” In other words, when a man covets his neighbour's goods, and cannot obtain them by doing that which is lawful and right, it is absolutely necessary for him to do wrong.
Mr. Fox, Whitaker's colleague, grotesquely defended the Act, as exhibiting a kind of benevolence towards the M oris. To allow” natives, rebels or others, to retain possession of immense tracts of land, that they neither use nor allow others to use, and which maintains them in a state of isolation from the European civilization,” was “most “prejudicial to the natives,” and contributed “to the rapid extinction of the native race.” Let it not be imagined that this was irony on the part of Mr. Fox. Dean Swift might have used such words in sarcasm: Mr. Fox seriously wrote them in reply to “Observations” page 27 (by Sir William Martin) “on the proposal to take native lands under an Act of the Assembly.”
Sir W. Martin declared that he emitted this groan with a “feeling of sorrow, if not of shame;” but Sir W. Martin admitted (as I have always urged) that the majority of Colonists in New Zealand, ignorant of Maori history and rights, were comparatively innocent of those acts of which Bishop Selwyn said, “The Queen, law, religion, have been thrust aside in the one thought of acquisition of land.”
Sir William Martin's and the Bishop's groans were alike ineffectual. The hearts of Whitaker and Fox were not softened at the time; and many years afterwards, when the raid upon Parihaka had been consummated, and Whitaker had become Prime Minister, the latter framed a solemn memorand m for the Governor to send to the Secretary of State, at the end of which, Whitaker—a prime proposer and champion of the Suppression of Rebellion and the New Zealand Set lements Acts—coolly wrote these words:—“It may indeed with confidence be asserted generally, that there is not, and has not been, anything on the Statute Book of the Colony, or in the conduct of the Colonial legislature, as regards the Maoris, to which reasonable exception can be taken.”*
Words which should indeed be graven in brass! and which, with the dire facts confuting them, I hope to preserve in these pages from the ravages of time.
The groans of the Maoris under these so-called laws, in 1864, I may well leave to the imaginations of my readers. But terrible tales might be unfolded. The homesteads of the Maoris were laid waste. Their very burial grounds were desecrated and rifled. I have stood with a Ngatimaniapoto chief by the spot where, in 1863, were his ancestral treasures, and where, in 1879, we found the site with difficulty on an allotment, seized under the name of confiscation, and occupied by a purchaser.
Was it wonderful that desperate thoughts filled some Maori minds? Colonel Greer described how some of their warriors proudly met their inevitable fate on the field. A portion of the race plunged into fanatical orgies attended with unspeakable horrors.
* Blue Book, 1883, c. 3689, p. 39.
It was a dreary prophecy, and it was woefully accomplished in the Paimarire or Hau Hau superstition, into which a portion of the Maoris plunged, after their countrymen's groans for justice had been spurned, their land seized, and their blood shed in vain efforts to defend it.
One unqualified source of thankfulness remained. No Maori Gobel brought shame upon his profession of faith. One horror of France in 1793 was not repeated in Maori land. Bishop Selwyn, lamenting the falling away of some, declared—“Our native clergymen need not return, because they have not swerved; it may be said of each of them, like Milton's seraph Abdiel, among the faithless faithful only he. Though they be few in number, they have ever been faithful to that faith which they have espoused, and still the Native Church is full of vitality and hope.”
It is hard to practise all the virtues when one's native soil is seized, the graves of one's ancestry are desecrated and rifled, and one's countrymen have fallen, as Colonel Greer described, before superior numbers and more destructive appliances of war.
Let those who will cast stones at the fallen Maori. My task is now to record his groans. I have not shrunk from recording his faults.
When Mr. Cardwell, in consideration of the entreaties of the New Zealand Ministry, determined not to recommend the immediate dis-allowance of the New Zealand Settlements Act, he laid down principles (26th April, 1864) by which he hoped to prevent it from being abused.
It was to be of brief duration, and he trusted in the will and capacity of the Governor, Sir George Grey, so to administer it as to foil evil desires of those who might strive to wrest the Act to manifest wrong-doing. “Considering that the defence of the Colony is at present effected by an Imperial force, I should perhaps have been justified in recommending the disallowance of an Act couched in such sweeping terms, capable therefore of great abuse, unless its practical operation were restrained by a strong and resolute hand; and calculated if abused to frustrate its own objects, and to prolong instead of terminating the war. But not having received from you any expression of your disapproval, and being most unwilling to weaken your hands in the moment of your military success, Her Majesty's page 29 Government have decided that the Act shall remain for the present in operation.
They are led to this conclusion not merely by a desire to sustain the authority of the Colonial Government, but also in no small degree by observing that no confiscation can take effect without your personal concurrence, and by the reliance which they so justly place on your sagacity, firmness, and experience, and your long-recognized regard as well for the interests of the colonists as for the fair rights and expectations of the native race.” But cession, not confiscation, was desirable. Cession of lands should be obtained on condition of Her Majesty's clemency being extended. Only if cession should be found impossible, the Settlements Act might be brought into operation subject to reservations. It must be limited as to duration. A Commission, not removable with the Ministry, should enquire as to lands to be obtained and the Governor's concurrence was to be no per-functory assent, but to be withheld from any proposals unless he should be satisfied that they were just and moderate.
“I trust (wrote the wise Cardwell) that in accepting any cession, or authorizing confirmation of any forfeiture of land, you will retain in your own hands ample power of doing substantial justice to every class of claimant for restitution or compensation.”
These instructions of the Secretary of State must be borne in mind in reading the terms of the Proclamation promulgated by Sir George Grey. Terms, which might be passed by without sufficient attention, become cogent axioms when studied with due regard to the principles by which their framer was bound.
Mr. Cardwell might reasonably hope that in the period of two years (laid down by him) Sir George Grey might define and arrange principles and details. He could hardly have anticipated that Sir G Grey would issue a proclamation qualified according to his instructions, and that seventeen years afterwards men would advocate in New Zealand a daring denial in practice of all those principles of justice which Mr. Cardwell had so earnestly commended to the Governor.*
For my present purpose it has been necessary to show under what limitations the Governor issued his Proclamations, and thus to make clear the meaning of the qualifying expressions they will be found to contain.
The Whitaker-Fox ministry did not live to see the Governor's Proclamation issued. They resented Mr. Cardwell's just words; but they were in difficulties, financial and otherwise, and reams of paper were consumed in discussions between them and the Governor.
In May 1864 they had submitted sweeping schemes to him, but he shrunk from them; declining to confound the innocent with the guilty, and to leave innocent families homeless.
* But even at the time tbere were mutterings. Mr. (now Sir W.) Fox denounced Mr. Cardwell's instructions as “directing things to be done which were physically impossible, and others to be attempted which were palpably absurd, and which if attempted to be carried out, could operate in no other way than to upset the plans of the Colonial Government.” Fox's “History of the War in New Zealand.”
The arrival of Mr. Cardwell's Despatch of 26th April 1864 strengthened the Governor's position; and on the 7th September Sir G. Grey prepared a proclamation drawn in compliance with Mr. Cardwell's instructions. He offered free pardon to all who might “come in on or before the 22nd October, take the oath of allegiance, and make cession of such territory as may in each instance be fixed by the Governor and Lieutenant General.”
After discussion and wranglings in which Sir G. Grey declared that he would not seize any man's land more largely than justice would warrant merely because it might be wished to plant settlements, Mr. Whitaker declined (13th September) to acquiesce in the proposed proclamation.
Nevertheless, as the Treasurer of the Colony, Mr. Reader Wood, had in England assured Mr. Cardwell that he and his ministerial colleagues would “certainly co-operate with Sir George Grey in carrying out that just and temperate policy towards the native race embodied in the New Zealand Settlements Act, as limited in its operations by his instructions of April 26th” it was difficult for the ministry to overbear the Governor and openly defy Mr. Cardwell. No proclamation of confiscation was issued while Whitaker and Fox were in office, but on the 25th October, 1864, Sir George Grey issued a Proclamation, offering pardon to all who would submit to his conditions as to cession, etc., before the 10th December, 1864. There was a list of persons excepted, on the ground that they were believed to have committed murders. There was much altercation between the Ministry and the Governor as to the terms of this Proclamation. He regarded the injunctions of Mr. Cardwell. They burned to abolish or evade them. This was inevitable, for Mr. Cardwell had seriously made known the desire of Her Majesty's Government that “the proposed appropriation of land should take the form of a cession imposed by yourself and General Cameron upon the conquered tribes;” and had written (26th May, 1864), “It is my duty to say to you plainly that if, unfortunately (your Ministers') opinions should be different from your own as to the terms of peace, Her Majesty's Government expect you to act on your own judgment, and to state to your Ministers explicitly that an army of 10,000 English troops has been placed at your disposal for objects of great Imperial, and not for the attainment of any mere local object; that your responsibility to the Crown is paramount, and that you will not continue the expenditure of blood and treasure longer than is absolutely necessary for the establishment of a just and enduring peace.”
On the 26th July (reminding the Governor of the above injunctions) Mr. Cardwell added, “What I do feel it my duty to say to you plainly is, that the aid of the mother country, in men and money, is given to the Colony, on the understanding that the military measures which have, unhappily, become necessary, shall be directed by you in concert with the distinguished General in command.”
Generally, such important despatches were promptly published for information in the Colony, but Whitaker and Fox resisted the usual page 31 course. They vacated office in November, 1864, without giving effect to their own sweeping demands for confiscation—indeed, without superintending the issue of any proclamation on the subject.
Mr. Weld became Prime Minister. In his uprightness all men could confide, but he was somewhat infected with the Rhadamanthine idea that it was reasonable to put down the Maoris by force, and find out afterwards whether they had been right or wrong in their contention about their lands.
The Proclamation issued after Mr. Weld's assumption of office, was dated the 17th December, 1864.*
The site of Orakau, far in the Waikato district, the Gulf of the Thames, the Waikato Heads, named in the Proclamation, attest the wideness of its terms. But there was a profession of respect for the rights of the loyal. Mr. Cardwell was not forgotten.
“The land of those natives who have adhered to the Queen, sh allbe secured to them; and to those who have rebelled, but who shall at once submit to the Queen's authority, portions of the land will be given back for themselves and their families.
The Governor will make no further attack on those who remain quiet.… To all those who have remained and shall continue in friendship, the Governor assures the full benefit and enjoyment of their lands.”
One paragraph intimated that the Governor would confiscate “between Wanganui and New Plymouth, and in the Province of Taranaki, such land belonging to the rebels as he may think fit.”
It was not until the 2nd September, 1865, that the threatened Proclamation defining the land to be seized at Taranaki was issued. Then, under the “New Zealand Settlements Act, 1863 (or rather under an Amending Act), Sir George Grey, in Council, declared that he was “satisfied that certain Native tribes, or sections of tribes, having landed properties,” had been “engaged in rebellion;” and schedules to the Proclamation specified the area to be seized, at Waitara, Mount Egmont, Whanganui River, &c.
* It is contained in a New Zealand Parliamentary paper, 1879, A. — 8. A subsequent Proclamation, of 2nd September, 1865, described the area at Taranaki. That Proclamation, with a Proclamation of Peace of the same date, is in a New Zealand Parliamentary paper, 1879, A.—8. A.
Simultaneously with this Proclamation of (qualified) confiscation, appeared a Proclamation of Peace.
The war was declared to be at an end. Excepting persons concerned in certain imputed murders, “all others are forgiven.”
“Out of the lands which have been confiscated in the Waikato, and at Taranaki, and Ngatiruanui the Governor will at once† restore considerable quantities to those of the Natives who wish to settle down upon their lands, to hold them under Crown grants, and to live under the protection of the law. For this purpose Commissioners will be sent forthwith into the Waikato, and the country about Taranaki, and between that place and Whanganui, who will put the natives who may desire it upon lands at once, and will mark out the boundaries of the blocks which they are to occupy… Her Majesty the Queen desires that equal laws and equal rights and liberties may be enjoyed by all her subjects in this Island, and to that end the Governor in the name of the Queen publishes this Proclamation.”
I have said that no judicial investigation of Te Rangitake's rights at the Waitara was ever granted. ‡To have called in ten thousand British soldiers to defend an act of rapine, and then to hold an enquiry, the result of which must inevitably have condemned that act—would have been galling. Therefore all Bishop Selwyn's and Sir W. Martin's entreaties for a judicial investigation of Te Rangitake's case were rejected.
The land was seized: the chief brooded in seclusion over his broken fortunes, and reflected how ill his exertions to save the settlement at Wellington in former years, had been rewarded.
But the spoil had to be divided. The false Teira and those who suborned him—his friends, and theirs—demanded payment. Raro antecedentem scelestum Deseruit pede pœna claudo.
* It cannot be said that intelligent persons misunderstood the Proclamation. Sir F. Dillon Bell, speaking of it in the New Zealand Parliament in 1879, said, “It was untrue to say that the whole of the land between the Waitotara and the White Cliffs had been confiscated. It never had been confiscated. The only instrument by which the claim of confiscation was ever set up, was the proclamation bearing the signatures of Sir George Grey as Governor, and of Mr. Fitzgerald as Native. Minister in Mr. Weld's government. What did that say? It confiscated the land of those in rebellion; but it not only did not confiscate the land of those who remained loyal, it conserved their rights, and made the express promise to them that their land should not be taken. That was an undeniable fact.” New Zealand Hansard, 1879, Vol. 34, p. 864.
† Doubtless the Governor was sincere in these promises in the name of the Queen. But it will be seen that they were never performed, and that finally in 1881 a large armed force, acting without law, destroyed a peaceful village, robbed its inhabitants, dragged them away by force, and obtained an Act of Indemnity for its misdeeds.
‡ Sir George Grey was not the Governor of the Colony when the Waitara land was seized in 1860. He became Governor for a second time in 1861, and finding, after inquiry through Captain Nugent (58th Regt.) that the seizure had been improper, he resolved to restore the block. But he could not abolish the war and its consequences. His opinion was assailed, and had no effect on the general state of affairs.
The Proclamation of September, 1865, had in a qualified manner confiscated a large district which comprised the Waitara block, but it promised that the Governor would at once restore land to natives desirous to “settle down upon their lands.” . . The promised Commissioners were not sent forthwith, but Governors cannot always be blamed for a breach of faith which sometimes their ministers cause.
For many long years the promise was set at nought But, though a legal trial of Te Rangitake's case was refused, its facts incidentally received the attention of a Court.
There was a Native Lands Court, and there was a Compensation Court. Mr. Fenton presided in both of them.
When an amended Native Lands Act was passed (in the administration of Mr. Weld) in 1865, not only Mr. Fenton, but Mr. Mantell, and Sir William Martin, made suggestions, and the latter drew up a paper which is still to be seen in the Blue Books, but was not sufficiently respected.
Some influence was exercised by Mr. Cardwell in tempering oppressive legislation.
He warned the Governor (October, 1865) that in cases touching the honour or interests of the Crown, the adherence to treaties entered into by Her Majesty, and other matters of an analogous kind, the Royal power of disallowing Acts was not abandoned, and would be exercised unless the ministry would moderate their demands, and limit the duration of the Settlements Act to a definite period.
Through his means the Act of 1863 was amended in 1864, and as it was still unsatisfactory, Mr. Cardwell held the power of disallowance over it while he communicated with the Governor as to its administration. In 1865 it was again amended, and the 3rd December, 1867, was fixed as the time when the Governor's power to proclaim districts and seize upon lands was to cease.
The Compensation Court, under Mr. Fenton as Senior Judge, and Judges Rogan and Monro, sat at Taranaki (New Plymouth) in 1866 to decide upon “the claims of persons to compensation on account of the taking under the authority of the New Zealand Settlements Act of the blocks of land in the province of Taranaki hereunder described.”
Te Rangitake's ravished land at the Waitara was within the area described in the official announcement of the sitting of the Court. There was also a block called the Oakura block.
The Judges found a difficulty which they had no means of solving. The Confiscation Proclamation of 1865 had declared that “no land (of any loyal native) would be taken except so much as may be absolutely necessary for the security of the country, compensation being given for all land so taken.”
It had proclaimed also that the Governor would “at once restore” lands to those natives who wished “to settle down upon their lands.”
This promise had not been complied with. On the contrary, page 34 the Agents for the Government had allotted to military settlers,”* so much land in the block that it was impossible to comply. with it.
A chief groaned over this injustice and breach of faith. “I demand that our compensation be within the block; the blood of my relations is on the land. Remember my services during the war. My cattle, my sheep, my pigs, and all my property went in the war; my wheat and my cultivations; and I never received any compensation for them, though the Pakehas (the Europeans) have all been compensated. What I did was not rewarded. Let the Government now fulfil its promises.”
A Mr. Atkinson, Crown Agent, opposed the chief and his brethren. The Court examined their claims and found that seventy-six claimants were entitled to 7400 acres in the block, but that the Government Agents had so squandered the land that justice could not be done by the Court to the native rightful claimants.
Their own words (New Zealand P. Paper 1866. A. No. 13) were— “Having thus arrived at the, to us, unavoidable conclusion that the claimants before us were entitled to 7400 acres of good land in this block, and having accepted Mr. Atkinson's assertions that the whole of the available land, except 2,500 acres had been appropriated to military settlers, the question then arose, What are we to do? We thought that possibly the Government were not aware of the large majority of owners of this land who had remained loyal, and reflecting on the great public calamity which would be caused, and the serious embarrassment which would occur to the Government if we issued orders of the Court extending, as they would have done, over the lands of considerable numbers of these military settlers, we determined to despatch one of our number to Wellington to place the state of affairs before the Government and give them an opportunity of availing themselves of the power given to the Colonial Secretary by the 9th Clause of the Act of 1865.”
The upshot was that the Minister for Native Affairs returned with the Judge and “effected an arrangement with the claimants.” “What the terms were, the Court did not think it their duty to enquire. In consequence of this agreement having been come to no adjudication was made by the Court, as our jurisdiction was gone.”
The groans of the chief, the blood of whose “relatives was on the land,” availed not to restore him to his birthright.
Those who despised his groans poured upon Bishop Selwyn on one occasion at Taranaki the insults with which mobs salute those whom they dislike.
* The “military settlers” did not settle. It was admitted that the majority of them secured their allotments merely to sell them. The children of the soil were cursed at by some persons for groaning when they saw their birthplace thus rent and gambled with.
The Compensation Court was called upon to hear evidence at Taranaki in 1866, respecting that block of land at Waitara which Teira had been put forward to sell to the Governor in 1859, and the seizure of which by the troops produced the wars of 1860 and 1863–4.
The claims of the paramount chief Te Rangitake were not before the Court. Resistance against robbery had made him a rebel. The loyal among his tribe shared his diminution. No Court was empowered to deal with their claims. The disloyal to him were called loyal to the Queen. Their “faith unfaithful made them falsely true,” and they were permitted to put their claims for Compensation before the Court.
In examining those claims the Court was constrained to regard the abstract rights of Te Rangitake—not with a view to recognize them in themselves, but in order to prevent Teira and others from making exorbitant demands.
The examination proved how righteous had been the protests of Bishop Selwyn and Sir W. Martin. The Court discovered that even without reference to Te Rangitake's paramount position which enabled him to forbid any sale, he had superior claims of personal inheritance to those of Teira. The case itself I have described in a special chapter of another work and need not repeat here. But since that work was published notable evidence has been supplied by Mr. Fenton who presided at the Compensation Court in 1866; and I take the opportunity of quoting it.
On the 3rd September, 1885, Mr. Fenton while giving evidence before the Committee on Native Affairs in Wellington, referred to the fact of his having examined the Waitara case in 1866.
A New Zealand Parliamentary Paper (I 2B. 1885) reports thus: “770. Sir G. Grey. You said that you heard the Waitara case? A. Yes.
771. Did you finish it? A. We finished it, but we did not give any judgment. There were three of us. Judge Monro, Judge Rogan, and myself.
772. Did you ascertain whether William King (i.e. Te Rangitake) had any right to the land? A. Yes, he was the principal owner; his was a very curious title. There was a man whose name I forget: he represented or his successors represented, two or three tribes, and in the curious way of transferring, it came out that the father belonged to the one tribe, and a son and a daughter might belong to another tribe.
A European cannot understand it. However, this man, seven or eight generations back had two daughters whose names I do not page 36 remember* . . They were what we would call in England coheiresses. There was descent, and descent from each of these until we come to William King (Te Rangitake) . . So that according to Maori custom in those days the mana of the land came to William King.
773. I assume that you mean that power over the tribe and over the land vested in him? A. He had the principal ‘say’ to use a somewhat vulgar term.
774. It had been overlooked in previous investigations? A. If there ever was one. The thing is perfectly clear; there is no doubt whatever about it.
775. This has never been put upon record, and I am anxious to have it put on record. I will therefore put it in this way, so that there may be no misapprehension: Was William King (i.e. Te Rangitake) the real owner of the land? A. He represented the owners: he was the principal man. There were other owners, of course, but he was the principal man.” On the following day Mr. Fenton produced the “pedigree book” and added—
789. “When the Crown Officer appeared in Court and objected to Te Teira's title to the six-hundred acre block, I thought it a very singular proceeding, although I did not say anything. It occurred to me that possibly the Crown Officer was acting without instructions. I wrote a letter to Mr. Domett who was not in the Government, and asked him to be good enough to see the Government, and make them acquainted with what was being done. This, I should say, was a Compensation Court, not a Native Land Court. I adjourned the case (not the Court) for some days. It had progressed some length before I found out what was the real contest. After the expiration of some days a Minister came down to Waitara—a Minister I think it was, and the case came on on the day to which it had been adjourned. When called in Court there was no appearance. Of course I presumed from that that it was arranged out of Court. At any rate we had no further functions.”
Such was the result of that kind of enquiry which Bishop Selwyn implored the Government in New Zealand to grant instead of plunging into war. But it came too late to do more than furnish information as to the trnth.
* The reader who cares to do so, will find the names on a genealogical table (quoted by me elsewhere) in a New Zealand Parliamentary Paper. 1866. A. 23. He may find also an extract from an Auckland Newspaper showing that in 1879 a reporter saw Teira, and Teira “acknowledged that he had done wrong in insisting on the sale of Waitara in spite of Te Rangitake.”
Bishop Selwyn, (April 1860, vide Blue Book 1861, p. 48) in a letter to the Government, claimed “on behalf of the New Zealanders, 1. An investigation of all questions relating to their title to land, before a regular tribunal, with the usual safeguards against partiality or error; viz. evidence on oath, arguments of counsel, and a right of appeal.
2. That military force shall not be employed till the civil power shall have been tried and shall have been found insufficient to carry out the judgment of the Court.”
Sir W. Martin's protests were equally noble and equally disregarded. Those who care to study the matter after seeing that a Judge who heard the case, pronounced Te Rangitake's rights irrefragable, will find in the Blue Book above quoted a Despatch (4th December, 1860) occupying with enclosures eighty-six pages, in which Governor Browne was made to contend that Te Rangitake had no rights at all. It may be supposed that, if the scribes who framed that Despatch could have foreseen that in order to diminish Teira's claims a Court of Justice would be at last set in motion to try the matter and Te Rangitake's title would be made clear, the Despatch would never have been written.
On the 17th and 18th March, 1860, artillery, rockets, and other appliances were brought to bear to drive Te Rangitake from his land,† and “after much labour,” his pah “was taken to pieces and burnt,” by the officer commanding the forces in New Zealand.
On the 27th March the Maoris retaliated by killing “three settlers and two boys.”‡
On the 11th April, the Rev. T. Buddle, a Wesleyan minister, heard some of the groans of the Maoris at Waikato, and reported them. Tapihana said: “I mourn for the blood of Te Rangitake; my blood is the blood of Te Rangitake.”
Karamoa said: “Alas! for me; my affliction is great. I have talked about land till I am weary, now I sit in my grief; my very vitals move. I shake like the leaves of the weeping fern-tree for my children. Come you, and tell us of death; you have come from the scenes of death. Bring your grief to us; pour out your sorrow. I am here sympathizing and weeping for my children… Am I not a man? The very fountain of blood in the heart will burst with the depth of my feeling.”¶
* Blue Book 1861. (1341) Recent Disturbances in New Zealand, p. 274. “Copy of Memorandum from Mr. C. W. Richmond to Colonel Gore Browne.” The Governor of New South Wales, Sir W. Denison, when asked for troops, sent them; but in a careful letter (ib. 277, 278 of Blue Book) animadverted on the “immoral and impolitic” nature of the proposed treatment of the Maoris, as explained in Mr. Richmond's Memorandum.
† Blue Book, 1861 (1341), p. 16.
‡ ib., p. 24.
¶ ib. p. 39.
Despair made the worser spirits amongst them savage, and the abominable superstition of Hauhauism reared its head, proving the truth of Sir W. Martin's prediction of the consequence of linking the Government with oppression and falsehood.
But always there were some who appealed to the Queen to interpose mercifully, and allow law to prevail.
One hundred and seventy chiefs at Napier sent their petition to her: “Mother, do not listen to the false reports which, perhaps, are sent to you. They are false. Know, then, that the quarrel relates to the land only. We think it desirable that you should appoint a Judge for this quarrel, that it may be put an end to.” Their petition was vilipended in the Colony, and probably never seen by the Queen.