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

No. 67. — Copy of a Despatch from his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, K.G., to Governor Sir George Grey

No. 67.
Copy of a Despatch from his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, K.G., to Governor Sir George Grey.

Instructions to Governor Grey on his Return to New Zealand. Downing Street; 5th June,1861,


With reference to my despatch of even date herewith, I am anxious to address to you a few observations which, without fettering your action in the discharge of the important duties-which await you in New Zealand, will serve to indicate the main objects which, in the judgment of Her Majesty's Government, you should keep in view, and the nature of the means by which they may probably be attained.

I need hardly say that the first of these objects, and the one which Her Majesty's Government have most at heart, is the establishment of peace. In calling, upon you to proceed to New Zealand, they have been mainly influenced by the hope that your intimate knowledge of the Natives, the reputation which you enjoy among them, and the confidence with which you formerly inspired-them;-may enable you to bring this deplorable warfare to a close earlier than might be in the power of any other man. I shall not attempt to prescribe the conditions of peace which I may think ought to be imposed or accepted; but I wish to impress upon you my conviction that, in deciding upon those conditions, it will be your duty, while avoiding all unnecessary severity towards men who can scarcely be looked upon as subjects in rebellion, to take care that neither your own mission nor the cessation of hostilities when it arrives shall carry with it in the eyes of the Natives any appearance of weakness or alarm It would be better even to prolong the war, with all its evils, than to end it without producing in the Native mind such a conviction of our strength as may render peace not temporary and precarious; but well-grounded and lasting. If the Maoris acquire that conviction and if they find themselves, as I trust and believe they will, treated by the Government after their defeat with as much fairness and consideration as they received before, much will have been done to secure the future welfare and harmony of the two races which inhabit New Zealand.

It will be your further duty, and that one of no little difficulty, to endeavour to place the administration of Native affairs upon a more satisfactory footing than that on which it has hitherto stood. The latest attempt made to improve that administration consists in the Native Council Act, page 71which was passed at the close of the last session of the New-Zealand Parliament. I shall not advise the Crown to bring that Act into operation until I shall have received a report upon it from you as a portion of the general subject: unless, indeed, you should feel satisfied of the necessity of acting upon its provisions without delay, in which case you will be at liberty to propose a short Act to the General Assembly bringing the Native Council Act into immediate operation without a further reference Home. You will find that this measure was accompanied in its passage through the Assembly by a resolution of that body addressed to Governor Gore Browne, and a message from him in reply, which professes to lay down the future relations between the Governor and the Responsible Ministry in the administration of Native affairs. These documents, have, however, conveyed no clear idea to my mind as to the intentions of the respective parties: and it will be your, duty to endeavour to place those relations on such a footing as will insure that harmony and efficiency which the present system has failed to produce, in spite of the zeal and ability of Governor Gore Browne, who has frequently urged its deficiencies upon my consideration and that of my predecessors.

With an improved machinery of administration, with your well-earned influence over the Natives, and with, I trust, the cordial co-operation of your Ministers and the Legislature, which you will make every effort to secure, I look forward to the introduction by you of some institutions of civil government and-some rudiments of law and order into those Native districts whose inhabitants have hitherto been subjects of the Queen in little more than in name, notwithstanding the well-meant colonial legislation of the last few years. I may add that your experience in British Kaffraria would seem to recommend a system under which a certain number of the Native chiefs should be attached to the Government by the payment of salaries and the recognition of their dignity, and should at the same time be assisted by. Resident Magistrates in administering justice within their respective districts or tribes. It will be for you to consider how far the policy you have-pursued towards the natives of South-Africa may be suited to those of New Zealand, considering the circumstances in which the Maori differs from the Kaffir, and the superiority in many respects of the former over the latter.

But, whatever be the system which you may be led to adopt for the management of Native districts, two things are evidently essential to its successful establishment—sufficient power and sufficient funds. The first you will, I trust, find in the co-operation of-the Natives themselves, in the temporary presence of a large military-force, and in the support of the New Zealand Parliament. For the, latter, also, you will have to appeal to that body; and I feel the utmost confidence, strengthened by observation of its past conduct, that it will see clearly its duty and its interest, and will vote with liberality the sums necessary to carry into effect a well-considered plan of Native government and civilization. In order, however, that no aid which Her Majesty's Government can afford you may be wanting, I shall think it my duty to advise Her Majesty to issue Letters Patent conferring upon you all the, powers which can be conferred upon the Governor under the Constitution Act. For this purpose I have consulted the Law Officers of the Crown, and, as soon as I have obtained from their high authority, an exact definition, of the, limits of those powers, I will furnish you with full instructions on the subject. I will only here observe that the most important of the Crown's powers not hitherto exercised is that of declaring Native districts, with the effect of withdrawing them, for purely Native purposes, from the jurisdiction of the General Assembly or Provincial Councils, or both. It will be for you and your Ministers, aided probably by the proposed Council, to consider whether a colonial law might not with advantage be passed, withdrawing such districts for all purposes, from the provinces within which they are nominally included; and whether a distinct legislation and administration, in which the Natives themselves should take a part, would not better promote the present "harmony and future union of the two races than the fictitious uniformity, of law which now prevails, or than any attempt, to introduce the Natives (in their present condition) into the electoral body of the colony, either provincial or general.

I have not yet alluded particularly to one most important portion of the, subject, closely connected with the origin of the present disturbances: I mean the system under which the purchase of Native lands is now, and ought to be in future, conducted. You will direct your earliest attention to this subject, examining whether the system of negotiation between the agents of the Governor and the Native owners, though in, conformity with the Treaty, of Waitangi and for many years successful, may not in the present condition of the Natives and settlers require to be, modified or superseded.; and whether, if it should in whole or in part be maintained, some tribunal cannot be established, entitled to confidence of both parties, for the purpose of adjudicating upon disputed claims when urged in a legal and peaceable manner. In connection with this topic I have now to indicate to you generally the nature of the concessions which Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to make, with a view to a satisfactory arrangement of Native-administration;. and upon learning from you that you had succeeded in concluding such an arrangement with the representatives of the colonists,-first, they will be prepared, to the extent which you may think wise, to waive the serious objections to such changes, as those, proposed by the Native Territorial Rights Act of 1858, which led to the non-confirmation, of that measure, and were pointed out in the despatch of my predecessor (signed by Lord Carnarvon) of the 18th May, 1859. They will accordingly be willing to assent to any prudent plan for the individualization of Native title, and for direct purchase under proper safeguards of; Native lands by individual settlers, which the New Zealand Parliament may wish to adopt. Secondly, they will consider, with the strongest desire to acquiesce in them, any Ministerial arrangement for the conduct of Native affairs which may appear, safe to yourself and be acceptable to the colonists. Thirdly; they will be ready to, treat the colony with as much indulgence as their duty will permit on the subject of the charges of military protection, and the number of troops to be maintained in. New Zealand.

I have to add one proviso applicable to the three subjects with which I have just dealt, which, however obvious, must be distinctly laid down. Whatever may be the future arrangements as to the purchase of Native land or administration of Native affairs, or whatever may be the amount of force maintained in the colony, or whatever the source from which its cost shall be defrayed, it will be impossible for Her Majesty's Government to authorize the Governor of New Zealand to employ Her page 72Majesty's troops in suppressing Native disturbances, unless he shall have been thoroughly conversant with, and personally consenting to, every measure of the local Government which, in its operation, may have unfortunately led to the necessity of so employing them; and this principle, the justice of which can hardly be questioned, must govern all the arrangements which you may be able to make in concert with the local authorities on the subject of Native affairs. But I am at the same time fully, aware that, under a, Constitution such as that which New Zealand possesses, the value of the above proviso is far less real than it might appear, and that the practical power which a Governor is likely to exercise is of a negative and an uncertain character. Such being the case, Her Majesty's Government can only trust that the good sense and good feeling of the colonists will lead them to a cordial understanding with the Representative of the Crown for the purpose of effectually promoting the civilization and good government of the Natives, and thus securing their friendship and contentment. Should, unhappily, a contrary course be pursued—which I will not anticipate—there would be no security against future Native wars, while it would be impossible for any Government in this country to supply Imperial troops at Imperial charge, in order to avert from the colonists the disastrous consequences of a policy which would have been pursued against their-advice, and over which they could, under the actual Constitution of the colony, exercise so little control.

I have, &c.,

Governor Sir G. Grey, Newcastle.

K.C.B., &c.