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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 10

The Governor's Reply

The Governor's Reply.

Government House, Auckland,

Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 26th of January, transmitting me an address which had been very numerously and influentially signed, in which a hope was expressed that I would avail myself of the first favourable opportunity which presented itself of endeavouring to terminate by negotiation the war unhappily existing in New Zealand, and especially that I would listen to any overtures of peace which any of the natives who have taken up arms may make.

Your letter, and the address which it encloses, shall be forwarded to my responsible advisers for their consideration; but in the mean time I can have page 24 no hesitation in saying that the wishes and instructions of His Grace the Duke of Newcastle impose on me as a duty that which is entirely in consonance with my own feelings and with yours, viz. that I should instantly listen to any reasonable overtures that the natives in arms may make, and that 1 should avail myself of any opportunity that ofFers of obtaining permanent peace for this colony. I am quite confident that general public opinion in this country will support me in taking this course, and would expect me to do so.

With regard to the confiscation of portions of the lands of the natives now in arms, this point has to be considered—that mercy requires that future contests between the two races should, in as far as practicable, be prevented, and that there are many tribes in New Zealand who have taken no part in the present lamentable conflicts, yet who might hereafter be led into similar acts; whilst nothing would more certainly lead to the extermination of the native race than a series of contests such as that which is now being carried on. The object of the local Government, therefore, has been to secure to that numerous part of the native population who have taken no active share in the present war the whole of their landed possessions, and also by laws passed expressly for this object to give to the lands held by such natives a value greater than they have previously had for their owners, by, in all respects, giving them equal rights in their landed possessions with those enjoyed by their European fellow-subjects, the intention in this respect being to show that the rights of peaceable citizens, of whatever race, are carefully respected, and to give the natives so valuable a stake in the country that they are not likely hereafter to hazard it lightly.

On the other hand, it was thought necessary by an example to show that those who rose in arms against their fellow-subjects of another race suffered such a punishment for doing so as might deter others from embarking in a similar career. It is therefore proposed to deprive such persons of a consider-able portion of their landed properties, and to provide for the future safety of the colony by occupying such lands with an European population.

But even in the case of these persons it is intended that sufficient lands shall be reserved for themselves and their descendants, to be held on the same tenure as lands are henceforth to be secured to the rest of the native popu-lation.

That these measures will be carried out in a spirit of liberal generosity and of mercy I earnestly hope, and will do my best to ensure: and in my efforts for this end I believe that I shall be supported by a large majority in this colony.

You will much oblige me by returning this answer to those nobiemen and gentlemen who signed the address which you forwarded to me.

I have, &c, (Signed)

G. Grey.

F.W. Chesson

, Esq.