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

No. 73. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir George Grey to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle

page 79

No. 73.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir George Grey to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle.

On the Plan for Self-government in Native Districts. Auckland, New Zealand, 30th November, 1861.

My Lord Duke,—

In my Despatch No. 3, of the 9th October last, I transmitted the copy of a memorandum on the machinery of government for Native purposes, which had been forwarded to me by the New Zealand Ministers.

  • 2. The substance, of the question which has been raised on this subject may, I think, be stated to be this: that, whilst the Colonial Ministers are virtually responsible for all other matters of government in this colony, the Governor has hitherto retained the management of Native affairs in his own hands.
  • 3. The Ministers, in their memorandum, state this in the following language: "The result is that, while on all other subjects the Responsible Ministers are the sole advisers of the Governor, and exercise the entire executive functions of the Government, on Native affairs the Governor has, in addition to his Ministers; another adviser—his Native Secretary—who is not a Responsible Minister nor under the control of Responsible Ministers; but who exercises (subject only to instructions from the Governor himself) all the executive functions of Government in relation to Native affairs."
  • 4. Under this system there would be two Governments in the colony, which not only would not always aid one another, but which would sometimes act at cross purposes with each other.
  • 5. At the present crisis it is quite impossible that Her Majesty's Government could be advantageously carried on under such a system. I therefore immediately arranged to consult my Responsible Ministers in relation to, Native affairs in the same manner as upon all other subjects, and in like manner to act through them in relation to all Native matters. If any serious difference takes place between us upon these subjects, I must, as in other cases, resort to other Advisers; and appeal in fact to the General Assembly.
  • 6. Your Grace will, I have no doubt, inform me if you wish me to discontinue this arrangement; but I think it would be well to leave it permanently in operation until difficulties arise under it, which I do not see any probability of.
  • 7. If I can carry out the arrangements contemplated for introducing a machinery of local self-government into all the Native districts, but few serious questions are likely afterwards to arise between the Natives and the European Legislature, and I hope that but few more troubles will then take place with the Natives of this country. If these favourable anticipations prove correct, the system I propose to act on will certainly work well.
  • 8. Even recently, I would remind your Grace that that party in the General Assembly which may be said to have disapproved of war with the Natives if it could be avoided, proved the strongest; and I think it is better to show that full confidence in the General Assembly which, by its proceedings towards the Native race, it has, I think, fairly merited, rather than to evince an undeserved distrust in it. Any attempt to set up either the Governor or any special body between the Natives and the General Assembly as a protective power for the Natives against the presumed hostility of that body will, I fear, produce an ill effect upon the Native mind, as making them regard the Assembly as their admitted natural enemies; whilst it will, perhaps; create in the minds of the General Assembly some prejudice against the Natives and against what may be done for them, and a carelessness for their interests, with the protection of which the Assembly would be in no way charged.
  • 9. Another disadvantage of the system of making the Governor chiefly responsible for Native affairs is that it will be thought that the wars which may arise under it have sprung, whether rightly or wrongly, from the acts of the Representative of the British Government, over whose proceedings the Colonial Legislature had but very imperfect control; so that it would seem difficult to call upon that body to find the means of defraying the cost of a war for the origin, continuance, or conduct of which it was only in an indirect manner responsible.
  • 10. Under the system I have adopted the Governor and Ministers act as mutual checks each upon the other. If either of them wishes to force on some proceeding which the other party regards as unjust to the Natives, or as injurious to their reasonable interests, it is known to both that the ultimate appeal must be made to the General Assembly, and that the justness of the intentions of each party will become a matter of public discussion. It is, therefore, reasonable to think that each of them would carefully consider the grounds on which they were acting before incurring the risk of an appeal of this nature.
  • 11. Certainly this plan throws a greater responsibility on the General Assembly in regard to the expenditure on account of any war which their acts might bring on; but this would indirectly prove a great protection for Native interests. The Assembly will now know that the justness of their acts, if disturbances spring from them, will be publicly canvassed in the British Parliament; that if misfortunes; and dangers have undeservedly been brought upon Her Majesty's European subjects by the misconduct of the Natives, then the General Assembly will receive from England that generous and liberal support which she has never failed to afford to British subjects under such circumstances; whilst, on the other hand, if—which one may hope would be impossible—the Colonial Assembly had been attempting to oppress Her Majesty's Native subjects, its unrighteous conduct would meet with that public reprobation which it would so justly deserve.

I have, &c.,

G. Grey.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, K.G., &c.