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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

First Settlers

First Settlers.

In 1814 the Rev. Samuel Marsden, the senior chaplain of the colony of New South Wales, met Hongi Hika, the great Ngapuhi chief, who had accompanied his cousin, Ruatara, to Sydney, and obtained from the chief a declaration that he would protect all missionaries, in virtue of which promise Mr. Marsden, accompanied by Messrs. Kendall, Hall, and King, their wives, several mechanics, Hongi, and Ruatara, with a tew sheep and cattle, embarked for the Bay of Islands. There they purchased 200 acres of land at Rangihu, and here they first preached the "Rongopai' or good tidings. From here other missions were planted—at Kirikeri, in 1819; at Whangaroa, in 1822; at Pahia, in 1823; at Waimate, in 1830; and at Kaitaia, page 2 in 1834. In 1834 also stations were formed on the Thames and Waipa rivers; in 1835 at Tauranga, at Rotorua, at Kawhia, and at Whaingaroa, while in 1839 the missionaries penetrated to Cook's Strait and the South Island.

But Hongi, the friend of the missionaries, proceeded to England, where he charmed the religious world by acting the part of a devout Christian. Presents were showered on him, all of which he sold just previous to his return to New Zealand, and with the proceeds he purchased 300 muskets and stores of ammunition. With these lie carried on devastating wars throughout the islands. Other tribes, to avoid extermination, had to open up trade with Europeans, to procure the much-needed powder and lead. The erstwhile hated pake has became valued friends and allies, and gradually European settlers became pretty numerous in the land.

Between 1816 and 1826 one hundred settlers were permanently settled in New Zealand. In 1832 there were one hundred white settlers located at Kororareka, in the Bay of Islands, and in 1838 it was the most frequented resort for whalers in all the South Sea Islands, and its European population was estimated at a thousand souls. It had a church, five hotels, numberless grog shops, a theatre, several billiard tables, skittle alleys, finishes, and hells, while the chief Pomare kept a harem of ninety-six slave girls for the use of whalers. In fact, from all accounts it must have been a perfect pandemonium. But such was the first settlement that can be dignified with the name of a town that was established by the British in New Zealand.

In connection with Kororareka it must not be forgotten that here New Zealand received the first act of official recognition from the English Government, though the islands had previously been named in more than one Act of Parliament, and albeit this recognition took the form of dealing with the future colony as an independent foreign State. In consequence of representations from the New South Wales authorities as to the lawless state of the place, and of a letter addressed to King William IV. by thirteen New Zealand chiefs, praying for the protectection of the British Crown. Mr. Busby was despatched to the Bay of Islands as British Resident. He arrived on the 5th May, 1833, in H.M.s. Imogene, which fired a salute as he was landed from it. He had, however, no powers, and, arriving among the roughs of Kororareka in a state of legal and administrative helplessness, he was hailed by them as a man-o'-war without guns. One act of his, however, served still more clearly to fix the independence of New Zealand. In 1834 Baron de Thierry, a French adventurer, claimed to have acquired, by purchase, immense tracts of land in the North Island, and endeavoured to get himself proclaimed King of the country. The Resident, in order to checkmate the Baron, set up a native Government under a confederation of chiefs. Through Sir R. Bourke, Governor of New South Wales, he transmitted to the English Government a proposal for establishing a national flag for the New Zealand tribes in their collective capacity, together with other proposals for placing the independence of the country on a firm basis. All these proposals were approved, and a flag having been selected, and declared to be the "National Flag of New Zealand," this flag was hoisted at the Bay of Islands, and saluted with a salvo of 21 guns by H.M.s. Alligator, which happened to be there at the time.

This clearly proves that up to and include the 28th January, 1840, the Islands of New Zealand constituted an independent foreign State. It seems impossible that the significance of these facts can have been overlooked in the recent squabble of Wellington in respect of its position with regard to the colony. Clearly until the issue of Governor Hobson's proclamation of England's sovereignty at the Bay of Islands on 29th January, 1840, place in New Zealand, neither Kororareka by far the oldest in point of date, nor the later band of adventurers at Britannia, as Wellington was then named, had any more right to assume that its settlement constituted these islands a British colony, than, for the same reason, could the swarm of British exiles and settlers at Boulogne assume that their domicile in that town acquired to Great Britain the sovereignty over France as a British colony.