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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

New Zealand A British Colony

page 6

New Zealand A British Colony

In the years 1825 and 1837 attempts were made by public companies in England to colonise New Zealand, but these were firmly resisted by the English Government. In 1839 the New Zealand Company was formed, and, while still unrecognised by Government, despatched on 13th May, 1839, its first ship, the Tory, with its agent, surveyors, and naturalist. On the 7th November, 1839, Mr. Somes, deputy-governor of the still unrecognised company, wrote to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Lord Palmerston, urging the immediate assumption of sovereignty over New Zealand by the British Government, on the grounds that France might and probably would obtain sovereign jurisdiction over New Zealand, this letter having been written some time after the despatch of the Aurora with the first batch of company's emigrants to Port Nicholson.

There are two claimants for the honour of being the place in which the act of establishment of New Zealand as a colony, i.e., an integral part of the British Empire, took place—to wit, Auckland and Wellington. In an earlier section we have shown how futile the claims of Wellington are. But were further proof needed it is afforded in the following unanswerable sketch of events:—

By a commission bearing date 30th July, 1839, Captain William Hobson, R N., was appointed to be Lieutenant-Governor "over any territory which may be acquired in sovereignty by Her Majesty in the islands of New Zealand." Captain Hobson sailed for Sydney in H.M.s. Druid, and on his arrival there he took the oaths of office and set sail with a small party of subordinate officers for New Zealand in H.M.s. Herald, on the 19th January, 1840, arriving at the Bay of Islands on the 29th of the same month. He at once issued two proclamations, one announcing his commission and the other the refusal of the Queen to recognise any titles to land not derived from or confirmed by herself. Although the ship Aurora, with certain emigrants sent out by the New Zealand Company, arrived in Port Nicholson on the 22nd January, yet, as we have already shown another and earlier settlement already existed at Kororareka. Moreover, as against the New Zealand Company being colonising body, it is sufficient to state that its charter was only granted on the 12th February, 1841, i.e., more than 12 months after the landing of Governor Hobson, and, in fact, some five months after the selection of Auckland as the capital of the colony.

Clearly the date of the jubilee of the colony is January 29, the date of the anniversary as a colony, as distinct from the several provincial anniversaries, interesting as these latter are in the history of the settlement of the colony. These latter run as follows, viz. Wellington. January 22, 1840; Auckland, January 29, 1840 (leaving Kororareka outside the question); Taranaki, March 31, 1840; Nelson, February 1, 1841; Otago, March 23, 1847; Canterbury, December 15, 1848.