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William Rolleston : a New Zealand statesman



It is therefore not surprising to find early in 1869 further plans being evolved by opposition members to bring about the downfall of the Government. Various suggestions were put forward as to how this could be achieved. Here is an interesting glimpse of politics behind the scenes.

J. D. Ormond (Napier) to Rolleston (Christchurch), 20 April 1869:

Stevens in his letter to me proposes to form an independent party in the House separate from the extremes of either side. But with all deference to his view I fear that we should be only playing the enemy's game. We have seen that Stafford cares nothing for the reversal of any measures he brings forward so long as he can stick in office. In most cases any man or set of men would be satisfied with forcing the adoption of their views upon the Government—but of what value would that be in Stafford's case? It seems to me that the first object we should set before ourselves is to turn out the present men and that for this end we should sink so far as necessary all personal feeling. We may have our opinions of Fox or of Vogel, but we must associate ourselves with them for the purpose of turning the Government out. For let us not blink the fact we cannot do it without them. Judging from the position of parties last year and considering the result of the election since, a vote of want of confidence would be carried now. It would be unwise, nay it would be impossible for any particular set of men to enforce their own individual views in their entirety. Both McLean and myself are prepared to make large sacrifices, and depend upon it, if we are to save the Colony from the utter page 80destruction which the present Government are bringing upon it, we must all be prepared to do the same. I am writing now amidst continual interruption, for we are still living amidst the turmoil of war, and I cannot discuss at length or thoughtfully the points of policy quoted in your letter. I agree with a great deal you write, but viewing as I do our present critical, almost desperate position as created mainly by this Government, I look to the termination of that as the first point to be achieved. We are drifting hopelessly at present. Our Government is devoting its energies more to sowing the seeds of political dissension for their own miserable and selfish purposes than to the work of the Colony. I say let us first end that, and then I have hope for ourselves. The difficulties we have to contend with are not insuperable if they are ably and zealously met. As to the policy we are to put forward it is impossible, idle at the present moment to present it. No one can say what may occur in those six weeks that have yet to elapse before the meeting of the Assembly.

You will have heard all particulars of the present movement into the interior by the Colonial forces. On the result of that movement much depends. It may, and probably will, face with open enemies the King and the King natives. They have always told us that the occupation of Taupo would be viewed by them as a challenge. I need scarcely say that should this prove the case it is impossible to foretell the consequences. I am sorry to write so indefinitely as I feel I have done—it is not from not holding defined views—it is because I see that practically myself and others must be prepared to concede much before we can hope to turn the present tide of ruinous mismanagement.