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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

No. 62. — Copy of a Despatch fromGovernor T. Gore Browne, C.B., to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle

No. 62.
Copy of a Despatch fromGovernor T. Gore Browne, C.B., to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle.

AucklandGeneral Policy of the New Zealand Government. Government House, Auckland, 1st November, 1860.

My Lord Duke,—

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Sir G. C. Lewis's Despatch No. 48, of the 26th July last. As he refers to "a policy requiring the presence of a large force," it is necessary that I should call your Grace's attention to some of the difficulties which must attend the progress towards union of two races dwelling in the same land, yet differing so widely in their wants, wishes, and opinions.

  • 2. I need not remind your Grace that prior to 1839 New Zealand had attracted to its shores a swarm of reckless men, determined to settle upon it with or without the consent of Her Majesty's page 65Government; that disorders of all sorts prevailed," and it was found that being "out of our allegiance and protection" was no better security than the threat of it proved in Rhode Island against the commission of enormities, which in New Zealand had not the excuse of religious bigotry.
  • 3. Had Her Majesty's Government not interfered there can be no doubt that war and disease would rapidly have consumed the aborigines; that sooner or later they would have been vanquished and destroyed; that anarchy and violence, after reigning unchecked for a time, would have yielded and finally given way; and that in the course of time an industrious European population, loving order and obedient to law, would have, inherited the land, which their predecessors had so ruthlessly acquired.
  • 4. Her Majesty's Government was not, however, content to permit the disasters of the transition state to continue for an indefinite time; and Lord Normanby, in his despatch of the 14th August 1839, says that "the necessity [for interference] had become too evident to admit of further inaction," and that the object of Her Majesty's Government is to mitigate, and, if possible, avert, the disasters [enumerated], and to secure the emigrants themselves from the evils of a lawless state of society."
  • 5. The emigrants were rescued from these evils; many desperate men left a country in which they could no longer carry on their lawless 1 practices; and settlers of the best class poured into the colony, bringing with them their own laws and that love of order which characterizes all Anglo-Saxon communities.
  • 6 These laws are especially applicable to such communities so long as they remain united; and in the early days of the colony it would have been easy to regulate settlement and restrain individuals from spreading broadcast over the country. In 1839, and for some time after, there would have been no difficulty in extinguishing Native title over vast territories, and to have declared English districts within which alone the Queen's law should be paramount, extending these districts from time to time as opportunity offered, and leaving the Maoris to follow their own customs in the remainder of the country, aiding them by Missionaries and other instructors to advance in civilization, and waiting until they desired and became fit to be one people with us.
  • 7. This course was not adopted, but English law was by a fiction assumed to prevail over the whole colony; and Lord Normanby (15th August, 1839) speaks of the repression of "cannibalism human sacrifices, and warfare among the Native tribes …. by actual force within any part of the Queen's dominions." The Governor, however, had no means of using force, and tacitly permitted these customs to continue: indeed, the last is not yet extinguished; nor were any sufficient measures adopted for controlling and guiding the stream of immigration, or the erratic movements of individuals.
  • 8. The assumed predominance of English law was not, however, harmless; one of its marked characteristics—namely, the, independence of action enjoyed by individuals living under its shadow, even at the cost of the community—is inconsistent with the safety of a, society of which the component parts though living in juxtaposition, are in the opposite extremes of civilization. As an example. I may observe that in many parts of India shooting a monkey or kite would produce an insurrection, and consequently regulations are enforced which would be absurd and intolerable in Europe.
  • 9. In New Zealand the acts or even the suspected acts of an individual—vide my despatch of even date herewith—are always liable to be revenged on the whole community, or upon those of his race who are mostly easily within reach. Yet Englishmen are restrained by no special laws; they have been allowed to spread over the country at will, and are tacitly permitted to act, speak, and write with as much impunity as they would in a civilized community; while the Government is held responsible for the consequences of imprudence, whether it affects only the individuals themselves or the community at large.
  • 10. There is, I believe, little doubt that the King movement has been fostered and advanced by Europeans, and Government has been constantly thwarted, misrepresented, and hindered by persons whose conduct is no ways amenable to law.
  • 11. The result has been that English law has always prevailed in the English settlements, but remains a dead-letter beyond them; that Government has been continually exposed to contempt from being unable to perform its duty, and has been driven, to temporize and ignore aggression or crime, which it could neither prevent nor punish.
  • 12. A large annual grant from the Imperial Treasury, full power, and great tact enabled sir George Grey to keep the country tranquil; but he was unable to establish any system or machinery which could effectually prevent the collision of elements so discordant as those with which the New Zealand Government has to deal. When the Constitution Act was prepared, a second opportunity was offered to declare English provinces, and leave Maori districts beyond their pale to be governed by laws specially adapted to the people inhabiting them. Instead of so doing, however, the 71st clause of the Act declares that "It may be expedient that the laws, customs, and usages of the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand, so far as they are not repugnant to the general principles of humanity should for the present be maintained "for the, government of themselves in their relations to and dealings with each other," &c. This leaves the difficulty unsolved, either as relates to the customs which are repugnant to the principles of humanity, or to their dealings of any sort with Europeans who have been permitted to scatter themselves thinly over the whole Northern Island.
  • 13. It has been urged that by a judicious use of moral influence the Maoris might have been induced to adopt a system of self-government which would have supplied the place of English law. To exert this influence successfully has been the study of my predecessors and myself, and the aim of the legislation of 1858, in which I cordially concurred. But while the difficulties attending the transition of the aborigines from absolute barbarism to comparative civilization have been annually increasing, the power of the Governor has been diminished and divided, and the funds at his disposal greatly reduced. In plain terms, the means which Government could command have not been sufficient for the attainment of the end desired.
  • 14. I now turn to the question of protection, and I venture to say that when Her Majesty's Government declared New Zealand a. colony, and invited the industrious and law-loving classes to emigrate an assurance of protection was certainly directly or indirectly given, and without it these page 66men would never have left their native land. If, however, Her Majesty's Government is prepared to "punish aggression, defend the centres of population, and hold the keys of the country," as intimated by Sir C. Lewis in his despatch above referred to, all will be done that has been asked or can reasonably be expected. It then only remains to inquire what force is necessary for the purpose, what part of the expenses should be paid by the colony, and what part of the actual duty the settlers should perform by means of Volunteers or Militia.
  • 15. With regard to the first, I have already stated my opinion in decided terms, and will not presume to intrude it again on your Grace's notice. The payment of expenses might, I submit, be arranged with the General Assembly. I agree with Sir William Denison in thinking that, as a general rule, a colony able to afford it should pay 50 per cent, of the cost of its military protection. I am also of opinion that, when the finances (as in the case of New Zealand) are unable to bear such a burden, they should be relieved of an additional percentage, subject to readjustment every three, or five years.
  • 16. I now come to the employment of Volunteers and Militia. In the Mother-country where there is a surplus population, the employment of this valuable and constitutional force is attended with little or no inconvenience, and even in the colonies the enrolment of Militia and Volunteers for the protection of their homes is both necessary and effective. But though this description of force may always be used on an emergency occurring in the district from which it is raised, it can never be sent out of that district without payment, which must be as much in excess of a soldier's pay as the settler's labour and his expenses are greater than those of an English labourer. Labour is at least worth 5s. a day in a colony; and a large proportion of those who form the rank and file of Militia and Volunteer corps are farmers, tradesmen, and persons possessing stock or engaged in business which would be ruined by their, absence for any length of time. For this reason also Militia cannot be called out to act continuously as a guard to prevent an attack" which may be apprehended at an uncertain time. This is indeed the case at the present moment; it is certain that, if guards could be posted in various parts of the City of Auckland every night, there would be little or no danger of attack, with which it has been seriously threatened. Except as an auxiliary to regular troops in the district in which it is raised, a colonial militia is therefore the most expensive force which can be employed; and, though equal in bravery and perhaps superior in activity to Her Majesty's troops, it is not usually found to be so effective for continuous operations. I 'need not add that the withdrawal of the productive classes from their employments must necessarily reduce the revenues called upon to, bear the additional burden of their support, would incapacitate the colony from bearing its fair share of military expenses, and that emigration to a ruinous extent would follow such a measure if generally adopted.
  • 17. One subject remains. Sir C. Lewis says that "a policy requiring the presence of a large force condemns itself." But the adoption of a policy must depend on the means, available for carrying it into effect, and these have been too limited to admit of choice. With 'insufficient funds, circumscribed powers, and inadequate assistance, I have had to contend with difficulties inseparable from the association, without union, of two races in opposite extremes of civilization. I have, however, explained my views on the government of the Native race in various despatches and memoranda, and I am not without hope that the attention which this unfortunate insurrection has awakened will be productive, of ultimate benefit, and will lead to the introduction of such a system of government as will be in accordance with "the wishes of the Natives, and will not be open to the criticism contained in Sir C. Lewis's despatch.

I have, &c.,

T.Gore Beowne.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, &c.