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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24



The Home Government at the outset established a monopoly in land, constituting themselves, through their representatives, the sole purchasers from the natives. Moreover, the exclusive control of native affairs was jealously reserved, even when in 1852 a representative constitution was conceded to the colonists. The Imperial page 5 Government was actuated no doubt by the purest motives of philanthropy in their policy towards the aborigines, but the result was nevertheless unfortunate. In 1860 the last series of Maori wars commenced; it originated in a dispute as to a Government purchase of land. Hostilities became chronic, and lasted with intervals until 1870, when they gradually and finally died out. Nor is it likely that there will be any further serious disturbances. But in the meanwhile the war had proved so troublesome, as well as resultless and costly to the Imperial Government, that strong efforts were made to be rid of native affairs at all hazards; on the other hand the strain on the colonists was all but ruinous, and they naturally objected to be saddled with native affairs, considering the tangle in which these had become involved.

At length, after prolonged correspondence, and under irresistible pressure from home, the colonists in 1863 reluctantly undertook the management of the Maoris, and have conducted their affairs ever since. They did so "in consideration of the thoroughly efficient aid "which Her Majesty's Government was then affording for the suppression of the native rebellion, and relying on the cordial co-operation of the Imperial Government for the future." The "aid" then afforded consisted in 10,000 soldiers and a naval brigade; and the "future co-operation" resulted in the gradual withdrawal of the troops from the colony, the last regiment being removed in 1869. and this at a most critical time, when the affairs of the colony financially as well as politically, were of the gloomiest nature.

The colonists were thus left to fight it out and settle scores with the natives as best they could, a task which they accomplished with unlooked for success. The course adopted was to raise a force of some 2,000 to 3,000 men, specially trained and disciplined for the peculiar warfare, and these, with the aid of friendly native levies brought the war to a successful termination, reducing it, in fact, from 1870 into a hunt after two rebel chiefs. But to accomplish this, expenditure had to be incurred, to cover which it was deemed necessary to raise a loan of 1,500,000l. The credit of the colony, for obvious reasons, being at a low ebb, application was made that the loan should be guaranteed by the Home Government. Under the circumstances this was assuredly a reasonable request, and might have been granted with no cost, or even substantial risk, to the imperial treasury; while the difference between borrowing at 3 per cent, and 6 per cent, would have saved the colonial treasury 45,000l. per annum. The request was at first absolutely refused; then came an offer to guarantee half a million, and finally, after a deplorable amount of haggling, the difference was split, and the Imperial Government guaranteed a loan for one million, instead of a million and a half, as originally requested.

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But the consequences to the colonists of the attempt to conduct native affairs from Downing Street, did not end with the war. They had already contributed their proportion to costly and mismanaged wars, at first conducted by officers of the Imperial Government, and borne the whole cost of concluding those wars when left to themselves. But they had now in addition to deal with the legacy of a long course of misgovernment, in the serious expense deemed necessary for a re-adjustment of the native policy.