A Protest against the Confiscation of Native Lands in New Zealand.
W. M. Watts, Crown Court Temple Bar.1864 page break
A Great wrong is being perpetrated in New Zealand. The legislature of that colony have, by large majorities, passed a Bill, confiscating native lands in the disturbed districts to the extent of several millions of acres. There is a feeling in the colony that this measure is, in the highest degree, vindictive and even dangerous; but for the present all sense of prudence and of justice has been overwhelmed by an anti—aboriginal torrent of hatred and rapacity. That Governor Grey and Mr. Fox should have yielded to these influences is greatly to be deplored; but the duly of those who regard a policy of confiscation as cruelly revengeful in itself, and as likely to lead to a war still more sanguinary than that which appears to be on the eve of terminating, is not the less plain because these eminent men have given the weight of their authority to a measure of spoliation. On the contrary, there is the more need that the friends of justice in England should emphatically protest against both the principle and the details of the Bill, and use all their influence to induce the Government to withhold from it the Royal assent. The Memorial which the Aborigines' Protection Society has addressed to the Duke of Newcastle will show the specific grounds upon which the Imperial veto is solicited. The report of the debate on the second reading in the Legislative Council, which is printed word for word as it was published in the New Zealander, will furnish the reader with ample proof of the fact that the Bill was opposed by gentlemen of high authority in the colony, whose speeches, we may add, contain arguments so incontrovertible that neither ministers nor their supporters appear to have attempted any thing worthy the name of a reply. We conclude with the expression of an earnest hope that this attempt to despoil the native tribes of lands which are necessary to their very existence, may be defeated, and that Great Britain, in the greatness of her strength, will temper justice with mercy.
The Confiscation Act.
An Act to enable the Governor to establish Settlements for Colonization in the Northern Island of New Zealand.
Whereas the Northern Island of the Colony of New Zealand has, from time to time, been subject to insurrections amongst the evil disposed persons of the native race, to the great injury, alarm, and intimidation of Her Majesty's peaceable subjects of both races, and involving great losses of life and expenditure of money in their suppression: And whereas many outrages upon lives and property have recently been committed, and such outrages are still threatened and of almost daily occurrences: And whereas a large number of the inhabitants of several districts of the Colon have entered into combinations, and taken up arms with the object of attempting the extermination or expulsion of the European settlers, and are now engaged in open rebellion against Her Majesty's authority: And whereas it is necessary that some adequate provision should be made for the permanent protection and security of the well disposed inhabitants of both races, for the prevention of future rebellion, and for the establishment and maintenance of Her Majesty's authority, and of law and order throughout the Colony: And whereas the best and most effectual means of attaining those ends would be by the introduction of a sufficient number of settlers able to protect themselves and to preserve the peace of the country: And whereas there are large tracts of land, lying unoccupied, useless, and unproductive, which may be made available for the introduction and location of such settlers, with benefit to themselves and with manifest advantage to the Colony:
|1.||The short Title of this Act shall be "The New Zealand Settlements Act, 1863."|
|2.||It shall be lawful for the Governor in Council, from time to time, to set apart eligible sites for settlements for colonization, and the boundaries of such settlements to define and vary.|
|3.||For the purposes of such settlements the Governor in Council may from time to time reserve or take any land in the Northern Island of the Colony, in respect of which no Certificate of title under "The Native Lands Act, 1862," nor any Crown Grant shall have been issued, and any such Land shall be deemed to be Crown Land freed and discharged from all Title, Interest, or Claim of any person whomsoever, as soon as the Governor in page 5 Council shall have declared that such Land is subject to the Provisions thereof.|
|4.||Compensation shall be granted to all persons who shall have any title, interest, or claim to any land taken under this Act, provided always that no compensation shall be granted to any of the persons following, that is to say, to any person—
|5.||Compensation shall be granted according to the nature of the title, interest, or claim of the person requiring compensation, and according to the value thereof at the time of the passing of this Act: Provided always, that no claim shall be entertained unless the same shall have been preferred in writing to the Colonial Secretary by the claimant, if residing in the Colony within six months, and if not residing in the Colony, then within eighteen months after the land, in respect of which the claim is made, has been proclaimed under Section 3, as required for the purposes of this Act.|
|6.||For the purpose of determining claims for compensation under this Act, there shall be established Courts, to be called "Compensation Courts."|
|7.||It shall be lawful for the Governor, from time to time, by Letters Patent under the Public Seal of the Colony, to appoint Judges of such Courts, and at any time by warrant under his hand to remove any such Judge.|
|8.||Any Judge, before proceeding to act, shall take and subscribe before a Judge of the Supreme Court an oath that he will faithfully perform the duties of his Office.|
|9.||Every Compensation Court shall be held before one such Judge, whose jurisdiction shall extend over a district to be specified in the Letters Patent by which he is appointed.|
|10.||Every Judge shall have the power, as near as circumstances will permit, of compelling the attendance of, and examining witnesses, and of regulating the proceedings of his Court, as a Resident Magistrate in New Zealand has in reference to a cause of page 6 complaint, over which he has summary jurisdiction; and also power to make rules for the conduct of the business of his Court.|
|11.||It shall be the duty of the Colonial Secretary to transmit every claim under this Act which shall be received by him, to the Judge of a Court competent to hear the same, and it shall be the duty of such Judge to hear the claim and determine the right of the claimant to compensation, and the amount of compensation to which he is entitled.|
|12.||The Judge shall grant to every claimant whom he shall determine to be entitled to compensation a certificate, specifying the amount thereof, and describing the Land in respect of which the same is granted, and the nature of the claimant's title, interest, or claim therein.|
|13.||Such certificate shall entitle the person in whose favour the same was granted, to receive from the Colonial Treasurer the amount named in such certificate as payable to him.|
|14.||On part of the Land, subject to the provisions of this Act, the Governor shall cause to be laid out a sufficient number of Towns and Farms around, or as near as conveniently may be to the same, to give full effect to the provisions of the several contracts heretofore or hereafter to be entered into by or on behalf of the Government of New Zealand with certain persons for the granting of land to them respectively in return for Military Service on the terms in and subject to the conditions of the said Contracts respectively expressed, and the several persons who shall have been enrolled under the said contracts respectively, shall be entitled to such Town and Farm Sections in conformity with the provisions of the said Contracts: Provided always that it shall be lawful for the Governor with the consent in writing of any person entitled under such contracts to vary the conditions thereof as regards such person, as the Governor in Council may think fit.|
|15.||After setting apart sufficient land for all the persons who shall be entitled thereto under the said contracts, it shall be lawful for the Governor in Council to cause Towns to be surveyed and laid out, and also Suburban and Rural allotments.|
|16.||All such Towns, Suburban, and Rural Land shall be let, sold, occupied, and disposed of for such prices, in such manner, and for such purposes, upon such terms, and subject to such regulations as the Governor in Council shall, from time to time, prescribe for that purpose.|
|17.||Money to arise from the sale and disposal of any Land under this Act shall be disposed of as the Governor in Council shall, from time to time, direct, for all or any of the following purposes—
Provided always that all such money shall for the purposes of "The New Zealand Loan Act, 1856," be deemed and taken to he revenue arising from the disposal of Waste Lands of the Crown in the Colony of New Zealand, and shall be chargeable with the sum of money borrowed or raised under the authority of the said Act, and with interest thereon.
|16.||This Act shall not come into operation until Her Majesty's pleasure shall have been taken thereon, and the same shall have been confirmed by Her Majesty with the advice of the Privy Council, and a proclamation of such confirmation having been given shall have been made by the Governor of the Colony.|
Mr. Whitaker said that he had before pointed out that there were two things we had to endeavour to secure—the suppression of rebellion and the permanent peace of the country. We might drive away our foes from any particular place, but as soon as we are gone they would return. They must not be allowed to keep their land and their plunder, lest we should have frequent rebellions. This state of things would be bad for both Europeans and Maoris. We required such a population as would be a safeguard against such occurrences for the future. The first principle of the Bill now before the Council was to give Government the power to take land wherever it was a state necessity that they should have it. Mr. Whitaker then read an extract from the opinion of Dr. Phillimore and Mr. Woolmer, as published by the "Aborigines Protection Society," and proceeded to state that this opinion, given in answer to a question relating especially to the natives of page 8 New Zealand, put the matter in a very clear light, and quite confirmed the principle of this Bill. Another principle of the Bill was, that those who were engaged in rebellion were not entitled to compensation for the land taken from them. There were people who said that the Maories were not subjects of Her Majesty: he believed that they were as much so as himself. The learned member proceeded to read a passage from Blackstone to prove the punishment due to rebels and traitors, and contended that that passage proved the principle of the Bill. He said that if they were not rebels they had broken the treaty of Waitangi, and as they had broken it, it could not be held to be longer binding on us. He concluded by moving the third reading of the Bill.
The Hon. Mr. Swainson believed that the Bill before the Council formed part of the ministerial scheme of policy for putting an end to the present disturbances, and for the permanent pacification of the country. He would not now enter into the origin or history of the outbreak, but would content himself with dealing with the fact as he found it, that, rightly or wrongly, we were engaged in a trial of strength with a portion of the native race, and he had no hesitation in declaring that it was not only necessary for ourselves, but absolutely essential to the future welfare of the natives themselves, that we should teach them unmistakeably that we are the stronger; in expressing his earnest hope that this should be so completely and conclusively shown, that we may never again be cursed with another Maori war; and in promising his cordial support to any measure that might seem reasonably calculated to promote so desirable an object. The Attorney—General had endeavoured to maintain the principle of the Bill on the authority he had just cited to the Council; but he (Mr. Swainson) would explain the grounds on which he had arrived at an opposite conclusion. On undertaking the colonization of the country, some twenty—five years ago, the British Government had placed itself in loco parentis to the native race. In doing so they had made themselves responsible for their civilization and good government. If, then, the British Government could only or could best govern and control them and save them from themselves by planting military settlements in commanding positions on native lands, he believed not only that it would be competent for the British Government, in the absence of any treaty obligations to the contrary, but that it would be their duty to occupy such positions by military posts. And if the Bill before the Council had authorized the Government to establish military settlements in the disturbed districts of Waikato and Taranaki on the land of natives proved before a competent tribunal to be in rebellion against, and to repudiate the sovereignty of the Queen, he should have been prepared to give it his support. But it contained two fatal objections. It authorized the Government to take the land of Her Majesty's native subjects who were not in rebellion, but who page 9 were living quietly and in peace, and to sell the surplus not required for the sites of the proposed military settlements. Such being the scope and object of the Bill, he contended that even the Crown itself could not agree to it without a violation of the public faith; that the General Assembly had no power to pass it; and that, if passed, it should at all events contain a clause reserving it for the consideration of the Crown. By the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, "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, extensive, and 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." And he maintained that the Crown itself, in the face of this treaty, could not, consistently with honour and good faith, seize the land of peaceable Maori subjects without their consent. But however that might be, the General Assembly had no legal power to pass the Bill; in the first place, because they had no power to set aside a treaty which had been entered into by the Crown; and because no power was given to them by the Constitution Act to dispose of native lands. In the words of the Act, "the General Assembly may make laws for regulating the sale, letting, disposal, and occupation of the waste lands of the Crown in New Zealand; and all lands wherein the title of natives shall be extinguished as hereinafter mentioned, &c., shall be deemed and taken to be waste lands of the Crown, within the meaning of the Act." It was fairly to be inferred, therefore, that it was not intended by the Constitution Act that the Assembly should have power to make laws for seizing, occupying, and disposing of lands guaranteed to the natives under treaty by the Crown. But if they still proceeded to pass the Bill, it ought to contain a proviso delaying its operation until the law received the confirmation of the Crown; for it is an express instruction issued to the Governor by the Crown, under the authority of the Constitution Act, that, except in case of great emergency, he shall reserve for the signification of the Queen's pleasure, "any Bill, the provisions of which shall appear inconsistent with obligations imposed upon us by treaty." And it was impossible for any one to deny that the Bill to enable the Governor to establish settlements for colonization in the Northern Island of New Zealand was inconsistent with the treaty of Waitangi. Such were some of the legal and constitutional objections he had to urge against the Bill. On the question of its policy he would say but little. The Bill must be read by the light of other measures, and by the light of the Ministerial statements, by which they had been explained. They had been told that, by means of three millions sterling, past and future military expenditure might be met—thousands of settlers might be located in the districts—light—houses might be erected—telegraphic communication might be established page 10 —and all debts and liabilities, to the amount of half a million, might be paid off and discharged. They had been told on official authority, that the Ministerial eye had been cast over the map of the Northern Island; that, in the districts of the Waikato, the Thames, Taranaki, and Whanganui, several millions of acres of native land were to be found; that, after locating some twenty thousand settlers upon them, a million and a half of acres would remain; and that in course of time, this land, at the rate of two pounds an acre, would realize the sum of three millions sterling. It would seem, therefore, that the Ministerial scheme of native policy needed these three Bills for its completion—the Bill for raising a loan of three millions; the Bill now before the Council to authorise the Government to seize, occupy, and sell the land; and the Coercion Bill, to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and to establish Martial Law. On the policy of the Ministerial scheme he could not better express his opinion than in the language made use of by the Duke of Newcastle in almost his latest despatch: "With a large proportion of the native population, either already in arms, or prepared to take them up in defence of their supposed rights, and most especially of rights to land, policy, not less than justice, requires that the course of the Government should be regulated with a view to the expectations which the Maories have been allowed to base on the Treaty of Waitangi, and the appre—hensions which they have been led to entertain respecting the observance of that treaty." "I cannnot doubt," adds the Duke, "that the proposed appropriation of land, if effected against the will of the owner, and justified on principles, which, whether technically correct or not, are alike contrary to the principles of English or native law, would be considered as a violation of native rights, would be resisted on the spot, and would provoke throughout the island warm resentment and general distrust of British good faith." With regard to the statements contained in the preamble of the Bill, he (Mr. Swainson) would content himself with this observation, that it was certainly a most painful and humiliating observation to have to make, that, after the many conflicting and contradictory statements which, in the course of the last few years, had been placed before the public in the most formal official documents, and on the highest official authority, we could arrive at no other conclusion than that the most authoritative statements must be received with caution, and that they could only be acted upon safely after satisfactory proof. When the time should come that the Waikato evils were thoroughly inquired into, it would probably be found, that while some of the natives were in actual rebellion against the Queen's sovereign authority, others had taken up arms, not in rebellion against the Crown, but in defence of supposed rights, or to avenge some real or imaginary injury they may have suffered at our hands. But whatever the policy of the Ministry might be, he would seriously entreat them to carry it page 11 into operation with due discrimination. That instead of falling into the error of their predecessors, and acting before inquiring, he trusted they would first inquire and then act, and so carefully, that it should not be in the power of some future Government some two or three years hence to proclaim to the world that we had made a mistake; that we had punished the unoffending and taken possession of the wrong land; and that circumstances had transpired which rendered it expedient that it should be restored to its aboriginal native owners. Whatever the merits or demerits of the Ministerial policy might be, it would be admitted on all sides that the exercise of the highest statesmanship was needed to rescue the Colony from its present difficulties. It would require small statesmanship to take military possession of the land; it would require small statesmanship to fill the country with armed men: the really great work they had to do, was to regain the lost confidence of a whole race, and to win from them a willing submission to our rule; and he believed that the highest triumph of New—Zealand statesmanship would be achieved when the Government, whoever they might be, could safely act upon and frankly accept the wise maxim of a late lamented English statesman, "That a policy which required the continual presence of a large force, carries its condemnation in its face." Not that he (Mr. Swainson) underrated the value of physical force. Without power, Government was impossible, and there could not even be justice without power. He believed that, from the outset of our colonizing opera—tions in New Zealand, the British Government had mistakenly failed to impress the natives with an adequate notion of our overwhelming power, and that we had thereby unintentionally hurried them on almost to their destruction; and he feared that, after impressing them with a delusive notion of our real power, it would be difficult to persuade them that the conceit of their own strength will certainly destroy them; that law is their only safeguard; and that it is only as loyal subjects of the Queen that they can count on continuing in the undisturbed possession of their lands. If he could make himself heard by the whole native race, he would earnestly warn them, if they would remain an unconquered people and continue to be recognised as the rightful owners of the soil, that instead of trusting to their own mistaken strength to main—tain them in possession of their lands, and instead of rising in rebellion against our authority in the vain hope of maintaining a separate nationality, they should hold fast to the treaty of Waitangi, and to the rights and privileges guaranteed to them as subjects of the Crown.
The Hon. Dr. Pollen would not oppose the second reading of the Bill; but lest he should be supposed, by his giving a silent vote, to approve of all the objects of it, he would trouble the Council with a few observations. It had long been seen that the only practical solution of the native difficulty was to be found page 12 in the judicious settlement of the province with well—selected immigrants; and the name of the honourable mover was, so long as seven years ago, honourably connected with the first step taken to carry out this policy. In this Bill he saw—and it was the only element that recommended it to his approval—that this policy was intended to be extensively carried out, not peacefully now, but yet in such manner as he admitted was rendered necessary by the altered circumstances of the times. He admitted that it was necessary for the public safety that we should establish military settlements. The public necessity had created a right to take land for the purposes of public defence; but he (Dr. P.) maintained that this right should be strictly limited by the necessity which had created it; that not an acre more than was required for the settlements should be taken forcibly for that purpose; and that we should not attempt, with the sort of power which this Act will confer, to confiscate the whole land of the native people. The Bill went beyond the necessity; it was, in fact, a Bill for the confiscation of the native lands of the province, the object being veiled by a specious form of words. It appeared that, lest there should be a doubt that this was the ultimate end and object of the policy meant to be carried out, the Hon. Colonial Treasurer, in another place, had distinctly enunciated the fact. In the report of the Colonial Treasurer's speech on moving the second reading of the Loan Bill, he found the following:—"1,250,000 acres of land will altogether be required. If we take the total area of land in the rebel districts, it will be found that it amounts to 8½ million acres, and we have obtained information from persons well acquainted with the districts and the quality of the land, that one half of it will be available for settlement; therefore we have for settlement 4,250,000 acres. If we deduct from that the quantity required for the location of European settlers and natives, there will be a balance of three millions for sale, reserve, and for the preservation of the territory of those loyal natives who may not be desirous of disposing of their lands. I said there was a balance of 3,000,000 of acres, and supposing we set apart 500,000 acres for roads and reserves, and 1,000,000 for land that may be retained by the loyal natives, it will still leave 1,500,000 for sale. Of course it would not be desirable, if it were even possible, to dispose of this land at once; but by bringing it into the market judiciously, it appears to us that 1,500,000 acres economically dealt with and properly sold will realize at the very least £2 per acre, and, £3,000,000 will be obtained at the time these arrangements are completed." The obvious meaning of which was that it was the deliberate 'policy of the Government to confiscate all the lands held by tribes which were actually in rebellion, or had been previously in rebellion, to give the owners a portion of them; and after making other provisions, to reserve a large balance of these lands for sale. This was a part of the scheme, to which page 13 he had an insurmountable objection. If this, indeed, be the Government policy, he (Dr. P.) must say, that politically it was immoral, and, as a financial project, utterly delusive and unsound. Allusion had twice already been made to—day to the treaty of Waitangi, and to the rights which the natives had acquired under it. He (Dr. P.) was present at the meeting at Waitangi on the 6th of February 1840, when the treaty was proposed, and he was an attentive and anxious listener to all that passed. He heard Her Majesty's representative arguing, explaining, and promising to the natives, pledging the faith of the Queen and of the British people to the due observance of it; giving, upon the honour of an English gentleman, the broadest interpretation of the words in which the treaty was couched; and he could assure the Council that, definite and clear as the terms of that treaty appeared to us now, they bear about the same relation to the picture which it was made to present to the eyes of the natives on that day as the skeleton does to the living and breathing human body. The ink was scarcely dry on that treaty before the suspicions, which had been temporarily allayed by the promises of the Governor, were awakened with redoubled force; and he need scarcely remind the Council that from that time to this every action of ours affecting the natives had presented itself to their eyes, and had been capable of that interpretation, as shewing that our object and business in this colony was to obtain possession of the lands of the natives recte si possumus, si non quocunque modo. Before we talked of the duties of the native to us in this colony, we ought to be able to shew that some of the duties which the Crown undertook to discharge to the native people had been so discharged. He asked any one to point out in the statutes of this colony, or on the records of the native administration, any of those measures which might fairly be said to have fulfilled those obligations which devolved upon the Crown at that time. It was true we had had legislation, but it had been nominal, and without beneficial, practical result. The best attempt was made in 1858, when his hon friend the mover was Attorney—General; but before those Acts could be brought into operation, we had, in pursuance, as it must have appeared to the natives, of that policy which was always ours, attempted by force of arms at Waitara, to upset the tribal right which we had pledged ourselves to respect. Last session, the rights of the natives had been still further recognised in the Native Lands Act; but before it came into operation we were again at war with the natives, and now the Assembly were about to legislate in respect to native lands, to give power to take these lands by force, and to abrogate, as it will appear to them, the treaty of 1840. Then, as he had said, the policy was financially unsound. They were invited to spend three millions, with the assurance that they would certainly recoup that expenditure by the "judicious" re—sale of the surplus page 14 land at £2 per acre: before we could sell land at that price you must be able to give a quiet and secure title. Now there was a native proverb, "first the man, then the land," which expressed, he thought, a determination to die man by man upon their land before they would give it up: that was the native point of honour. But successful settlement meant peaceful settlement. Not many furrows would be turned in Waikato, if the ploughman must take his life in his hand into the field, and work with his rifle and cross—belts slung upon his shoulders. If any attempt at such wholesale confiscation as appears to be contemplated were made, the effect would be to increase the exasperation already existing in the native mind, and it would need for its success the extermination of the race. The soundness of the financial policy of confiscation may be tested by a very simple calculation, the elements of which are at hand. We could determine, approximately at least, the cost of the work of extermination: we may be said to have been at war for three years; we have spent—including the Imperial charges—perhaps five million pounds during that period; we have killed 150 or 200 natives. How much, at that rate, will it cost to kill 10,000? This policy of confiscation is immoral, and cannot be made profitable financially; unfortunately it is a popular policy; but here in this Council, where honourable gentlemen are safe from the storms of the hustings, calm and dispassionate consideration might at least be expected to be given to such a subject as this. He had, however, ceased to hope for that at present; and when he remembered how, upon a recent occasion, when a question affecting the life, the liberty, and the property of the people was under consideration, the expression of honest indignation had been met, he could not expect that any thing he could then say would arrest or alter the downward current of events. He (Dr. Pollen) had hopes, however, that the statesmen of England would stand between us and the natives, and, if need be, prevent the wrong which might be inflicted under the powers which this Bill proposes to give; he had hopes, also, that the administration of the law would be better than the law itself, and that in carrying it out the gentlemen who were charged with a trust so important would forget that a particular course was popular, and would be guided only by the dictates of justice, good faith, and public honour.
"The plan, briefly stated, is to make the Waikato river, from the sea on the west coast to its southern bend in the middle of the island, a temporary line of defence, by placing armed steamers on the river, and by establishing posts on its northern bank. Then, from the head of the river, to establish a line of fortified posts, extending to the Hauraki Gulf—the intervals to be defended by cavalry—the Gulf and its shores to be looked after by another steamer. Next, to throw forward military posts from the central bend of the river up to the Paetai and Ngarua—wahia, taking permanent possession of these places, the latter of which will be the point where one steamer will usually be stationed. At the same time, to clear out all hostile natives at present residing between the Auckland isthmus and the line of the river and fortified posts above mentioned, which together cross the island. Lastly, to confiscate the lands of the hostile natives, part of which lands will be given away and settled on military tenure, to provide for the future security of the districts nearer Auckland, and the remainder sold to defray the expenses of the war."
And this plan received the approval of the Governor, who promised to carry it out vigorously. He (Mr. S.) very much feared if this measure were vigorously carried out—if so large an area were seized, containing the best lands in the Waikato country—the effect would be to drive some thousands of armed natives from their lands as outcasts and wanderers into the interior, to be dependent on the bounty of inland tribes, or as marauders on the southern provinces of this island, to obtain a precarious existence by predatory habits. But will this be peace, will this be a state of things we could look forward to with any satisfaction ? It was true that Auckland, defended by a British army as large as that which quelled the Indian mutiny of 150,000 armed and disciplined Sepoys, would be in a state of security, but what would be the state of the southern provinces, what would be the condition of the natives ? He very much feared that unless these measures were carried out with great, forbearance,—unless these extensive and extraordinary powers were exercised with the utmost moderation,— page 16 the effect would be to render the natives now in rebellion reckless and desperate, and only change the scene of hostilities.
"It is well to have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous To use it as a giant"
And if we wish to obtain lasting peace we must, as his learned friend had observed, endeavour to secure the confidence of the natives, and not to enforce their submission by such stringent measures as were calculated to leave all hope behind. The Bill now before them was much modified and improved from the original draft circulated in the Council; and he could only express his earnest hope, that if these powers were entrusted to the Ministry they would take the earliest opportunity of convincing the natives that they had every thing to hope from a willing obedience, and that even to those who, by some, were considered desperate, justice would be tempered by mercy. (Hear, hear).
The Hon. Captain Salmon would vote for this Bill. The Government often took lands from Europeans, why should they not do so from the Maories. He thought that a want of sufficient firmness with the Maories had been me chief cause of the war: they had had their own way far too much.
The Hon. Mr. Whitaker replied that the Government scheme was intended to embrace the whole of the island, the southern as well as the northern parts. To his hon friend (Mr. Swainson) he would reply, that in practice, if not in theory, we had the power of dealing with the native question. It had been dealt with nearly every session, and Bills on that subject had been sent home and approved of. The land taken from the natives was only to be employed in the suppression of rebellion, and placing military settlers on the land. It was a mistake to suppose that any part of the proceeds of that land was to be appropriated to recoup the three million loan. It was a mistake, too, to imagine that Maories would die sooner than give up their land. It was a recognised principle of theirs, that men who were conquered in war lost their land. We must teach the natives that obedience to the law is essential to their well-being.
The Hon. Dr. Pollen proved, by reference to a paper, that he was correct as to what he stated the Colonial Treasurer to have said.
On the motion for the second reading being put, the Council divided, when there appeared—
|For the second reading||14|
|Majority for second reading||12|
The bill was then read a second time, and the Council went into Committee. Some considerable discussion ensued in Committee on the various clauses, but only very slight alterations were made.page 17
When the Council resumed, the Bill was reported, with some small amendments, and the third reading was made an order of the day for Tuesday.
Memorial to the Duke of Newcastle.
To His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, K.G., Her Majesty's Principal Secretary for the Colonies.
Your memorialists regard with the utmost alarm the passage through the Legislature of New Zealand of a Bill confiscating all the lands of rebellious natives, and authorizing the Government to take possession of the lands of loyal natives upon the payment of compensation. As a part of the same scheme, a Bill has been passed empowering the Colonial Government to raise a loan of three millions sterling, to be repaid by the sale of the confiscated territory.
Your memorialists believe that, for its sweeping and indiscriminate character, this measure stands without a parallel in the history of modern legislation; that if it be enforced it will inflict an indelible blot upon the British name; and that, in the language of an honourable gentleman who opposed it, "its inevitable effect will be to drive the natives of the north island into a state of hopeless despair and rebellion."
"If we take the total area of land in the rebel districts, it will be found that it amounts to eight and a half million acres, and we have obtained information from persons well acquainted with the districts and the quality of the land, that one half of it will be available for settlement; therefore we have for settlement 4,250,000 acres. If we deduct from that the quantity required for the location of European settlers and natives, there will be a balance of three millions for sale, reserves, and for the preservation of the territory of those loyal natives who may not be desirous of disposing of their lands. I said there was a balance of 3,000,000 of acres, and supposing we set apart 500,000 acres for roads and reserves, and 1,000,000 for land that may be retained by the loyal natives, it will still leave 1,500,000 for sale. Of course it would not be desirable, if it were even possible, to dispose of this land at once; but by bringing it into the market judiciously, it appears to us that 1,500,000 acres economically dealt with and properly sold, will realize, at the very least, 21. per acre, and 3,000,000l. will be obtained at the time these arrangements are completed."
It is but too obvious from this explanatory statement, as well as from the terms of the Bill itself, that nothing short of the absolute confiscation of all the lands owned by the rebel tribes is contem- page 18 plated by the New-Zealand Government, and that this policy has received the deliberate sanction of the General Assembly.
Your memorialists would remark that no kind of grace is offered to natives who may be willing at once to lay down their arms; that there is no attempt to define the various degrees of guilt, and to apportion the punishment equitably; and that there is a total absence of that clemency which ought ever to be exhibited by a civilized nation in its dealings with a subject race.
There is grave reason to fear that the Confiscation Bill will have an effect the very opposite of that which its supporters anticipate. The many thousands of natives whom it will render homeless wanderers, will scarcely allow themselves to be driven forth without an effort to avert their doom; and against the estimated pro—ceeds of the sale of confiscated territory must be set the probable cost of another war, into which it is more than likely many now loyal tribes will be drawn, from a natural feeling of sympathy with their outcast brethren. In expressing their fear that a policy of confiscation will lead to the indefinite prolongation of hostilities, and the ultimate extermination of the whole of the Maori race inhabiting the north island, your memorialists do but echo the opinion of men of high position in both Houses of the New-Zealand Assembly.
Your memorialists protest against that portion of the Bill which empowers the Government to take the lands of loyal natives (even upon the principle of compensation) as being contrary to the express terms of the treaty of Waitangi, whereby "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, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and properties, which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession." Loyal natives having been guilty of no offence against the law, any attempt to forcibly deprive them of their lands is manifestly a violation of the treaty, and an act of usurpation.
Your memorialists would remark, as an additional reason why lenity should be shown to the natives, that while they have been guilty of acts of war, which none of their friends desire to justify or palliate, there has been much in the conduct of the colonists and in the acts of the Colonial Government towards them, especially in connection with the late unfortunate land war in Taranaki, to excite the alarm and arouse the passions of a suspicious and semi—civilized people. The natives, moreover, are entirely unrepresented in the New-Zealand Legislature; and although the treaty of Waitangi nominally invested them with all the rights of British subjects they have been practically treated as a separate and an alien race.
In conclusion, your memorialists humbly pray your Grace to page 19 advise Her Majesty to withhold the royal assent from the Bill confiscating the native lands in the disturbed districts of New Zealand.
Samuel Gurney, M.P., President.
R. N. Fowler, Treasurer.
F. W. Chesson, Secretary. London,
Feb. 17, 1864.
Give Votes and Representation to the Natives.
"I wish to say a few words on the subject of the resolutions I moved in the House of Representatives last session, and which I intend to move again and again, so long as I shall be a member of that House, until I obtain their recognition. You are aware of the nature of those resolutions; you know that they declared all the inhabitants of these islands to be equally subjects of Her Majesty, and equally entitled to all the rights and privileges of British subjects: and especially they proposed to give the natives a share in the legislature and government of the Colony. No doubt some of you think that this is an impracticable dream. I think I can show that it is far otherwise. Do you think I am so foolish as to suppose that the giving a native a vote will solve every difficulty in his government? Are you the better for having votes ? Is there any mysterious power, in going up to the hustings and giving a vote for a candidate, which makes you better men ? No; but it is the feeling of all that the power of voting implies. The vote is the symbol of the great truth that, you are each of you a part of the government under which you live, that you are not living under laws imposed on you from without and maintained by external force, but under laws to which you have given your free consent, and therefore cheerfully obey. "(After a reference to the institution of juries, he said:)—Do you tell me that the Maories are unfitted to enjoy these institutions ? I tell you they are quite as fit as your ancestors were when these institutions were first invented. You make a great mistake if you think that these noble rights and privileges have sprung out of page 20 your civilization. They, are not the result of your liberty—but the cause. If then these are the schemes of a dreamer, I reply, all I ask is, that you shall apply to others the same privileges of government which have made you great. What I aimed at was this, that if you could once get the natives to feel that they were a part and parcel of yourselves, to feel that they were making laws as well as you, to acquire an interest and confidence in your government, you would find every difficulty in the way of carrying the law into force vanish away—your magistrates, your roads, your ports would rapidly extend throughout the country."