Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 10




Sir,—In accordance with the wish expressed in your communication of the 9th March, I have the honour to offer a few remarks on the present state of feeling on the part of the authorities towards the Queen's Government and the settlers.

I must premise the observations which I am about to make, by saying that I have not of late years kept myself so thoroughly informed of the proceedings of the natives throughout the country as I did formerly, and consequently that my remarks will apply more especially to those in this part of the country.

1. There is at present no hostile feeling towards either Europeans or the Queen's Government, as such, in this part of the country, there appears to be no inclination to provoke war or create a disturbance.

2. There is, however, a certain kind of restlessness among some of the chiefs and leading men, which has manifested itself within the last three or four years by efforts to get up meetings in various places. And I now understand that there is a secret intention of assembling, if possible, most of the leading chiefs of the centre and southern parts of this Island, in the ensuing summer, for the purpose of raising the authority of the chiefs. The very vagueness of the object renders the movement worthy of notice, as it implies some feeling of dissatisfaction apart from any special grievance.

3. It is worthy of notice, in attempting to estimate the present feeling of the Native population, that there are many young men who are grown up in a state of ignorance, being neither under the influence of religion nor under subjection to law, and who would be quite ready to page 53 take part in any disturbance which might, on the occasion of any accident, arise; and that a large number of natives who have been all their lives accustomed to take an active share in the management o the business of their respective tribes, and who have even been accustmed to deliberate and decide on such momentous subjects as the Declaration of war or the establishment of peace, are now in a great measum left without any opportunity of employing their active minds. Should, any untoward event unfortunately lead to war, it would be much more serious in its consequences than the former disturbances. The communication between the distant tribes has become much more fresment of late years: there would be more unanimity of purpose than ever there was before; there would be more unity of action.

4. The only permanent grievance is that connected with the purchase of land. There is no disinclination on the part of the aborigines to alienate their lands. But there will be innumerable difficult is in dealing with this subject until some clearly defined principle of ownership is laid down—such a principle as shall be assented to by the natives as well as by the Government, and which shall form the basis of negotiations for the purchase of land. There appears to have been and native absence of any intelligible principle at to the ownership of land a the part of those commissioned to make purchases from the natives in this part of the country; a consequence of this has been that sometimes the claim to ownership of those in possession, at other time that of those who were formerly owners, but who have been either conquered or expelled, is set up, as the Commissioners may imagine that the one party or the other is more disposed to sell. There is nothing more likely than this to lessen their respect for law, or to lead or disaffection towards the Government.

I will now offer a few suggestions on the future treatment f the native race by the Government;—

1. The primary object of the Government should be to mat the whole of the native population amenable to law. Until law is restected it can scarcely be said that the Government is firmly established n the country. If courts, presided over by discreet magistrates, to he assisted by native assessors, were established in various parts of the country, natives of all ranks would become familiarized with law and accusemed to submit to it. Unless such a habit be speedily acquired, no account of military force likely to be maintained in the country will assure permanent tranquillity.

2. It appears to be highly important, notwithstanding a very general opinion to the contrary, that the Government should do nothing towards establishing the influence of the chiefs, but should rather endeavour to lessen this by every legitimate means, especially by raising the position of inferior men through the equal action of law.

3. It is absolutely necessary, if the peace of the country is to b preserved, that all transactions with natives in reference to the purchase of land should be entered on with the greatest caution and care, ad that these should be entrusted to those only in whom the Government has perfect confidence, and who are directly amenable to the General Government.

page 54

4. It would be advisable that the Government should show its good will towards the native race by encouraging the spread of education, by the employment of natives as much as possible on public works, by giving assistance to efforts made by themselves to advance in civilization.

5. Great care should be taken that the military force in the country should not be so divided and scattered as to be rendered really ineffective on every point, and besides expose the Government to insult at headquarters, which would greatly lower its prestige, and encourage any disaffected persons to insubordination or rebellion.

In conclusion, I will merely add that I am strongly of opinion that Government ought by no means to relax its efforts, either to promote civilization or to establish law throughout the land. It may fairly be anticipated that the joint action of religion, law, and civilization, will lead these people to happiness, pence, and prosperity.

I remain, &c. &c, (Signed)

Octavius Hadfield.