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

No. 74. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir George Grey to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle

No. 74.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir George Grey to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle.

Reporting on the Present State of the Country. Government House, Auckland, 6th December, 1861.

Mt Lord Duke,—

My predecessor, shortly before leaving this country, reported to your Grace that the page 80 Government was, in many places, almost unknown by the Maoris; that some of the, most populous districts had never been visited by a European Magistrate; and that the Native inhabitants of them have never felt that they are the subjects of the Queen of England, and have little reason to think that the Government of the colony cares at all about their welfare. It will be seen from this that much yet remains to be done to introduce law and order amongst the Native population in the interior of this Island, and even along its coasts.

  • 2. Ten years since the urgent necessity of introducing simple municipal institutions amongst them was pointed out, and the first step taken to induce them to refer their disputes to our Courts. But, although various proposals have been made for facilitating a further advance towards these objects, the matter has been practically left nearly where it then was.
  • 3. I think it will probably be admitted that it would be hopeless to attempt to govern a country otherwise than by the sword unless its population were permitted to take some interest in its government, in the framing and execution of its laws and unless some share were given to them in the dignity and emoluments which arise from holding office.
  • 4. So strongly do the European population in New Zealand feel this, that in the Northern Island, as will be seen from the enclosed returns, those out of the 41,159 souls who administer the Government and preserve order for the rest of their countrymen divide between them annually salaries which, in the aggregate, amount to upwards of £100,000. If the Native subjects of Her Majesty (amounting in this Island, at a low estimate, to 54,000 souls) were provided with equally expensive means of government, the salaries they should share amongst them would exceed £100,000 per annum. As it is, it will be found, from the enclosed return, that there are for both. Islands of New Zealand 194 Native Assessors or Magistrates employed, many of whom perform onerous duties, and that the aggregate amount of all the salaries paid to Natives in both Islands is only £777 a year, or on the average £5 10s. per annum for each Native Magistrate employed by the Government.
  • 5. "When a new Constitution was given to New Zealand, in 1853, the Europeans were then gifted with the representative institutions which gave them full power to provide for all their own wants, to repress crime, to promote order, to raise revenues from both populations, and to arrange for the distribution of these revenues in salaries as they thought proper; whilst the Native population have been, up to the present time, left in the position described by my predecessor.
  • 6. Such a state of things has, I have no doubt, produced great discontent in the minds of the Natives, who are an intelligent, reasoning people; but its worst result is that the Native districts have been left entirely to themselves. In these, frequent contests took place, and sometimes murders occurred, whilst no means existed of repressing these outrages throughout the country. I think nothing could show the Natives' capacity for self-government, and their desire to see law and order established, in a stronger light than their at last attempting to redress these great evils by setting up a form of government of their own, although that step has now resulted in such serious consequences.
  • 7. From this it might be thought that the Natives will readily grasp at the institutions of self-government now offered to them; but I see no reason to hope that such will immediately be the case in some districts. They are proud of the Government they have set up, of the position of independence they have gained, and of the influence they have obtained over their countrymen. Having enjoyed these for several years, they have become attached to them. They are also more attached to their own Government from their having successfully defied our attempts to put it down; and, viewing our anxiety to do so, think it must have some intrinsic value. I find in many of them, at present, a sort of sullen, desperate determination to maintain it at all hazards, and a kind of pride in making personal sacrifices for what they regard as a national object. It is as if they had for the first time acquired a new faculty of their existence, of which they were not previously aware, and in the exercise of which they feel great enjoyment. Many populous districts in the Island do not, however, participate in those feelings. In these parts I shall have no difficulty in introducing the proposed institutions.
  • 8. My belief as to the present, state of the Maori King movement is that a great number of the Natives in the part of the country which lies to the south of Auckland—say perhaps thirty thousand of them—have entered into an agreement of nearly the following purport:—
  • 9. That they will not directly or indirectly attack the Europeans; they will not permit the Europeans to be robbed or molested: but that upon all lands, the property of the Natives, justice shall be only administered by Natives, and laws shall be only made by Natives; that no more lands within such districts shall be for the present sold to Europeans; and that the so-called Maori King and his Council shall watch that these regulations are, if possible, maintained throughout all Native lands, and shall try to lead the whole Native population to acquiesce in them; and that any attempt by the Government to put down these proceedings by force shall be regarded as the signal for a general rising of the Native population.
  • 10. Within the last few days a European settler living on Native-land about forty miles from Auckland had his house robbed by Natives of a few articles. Immediate inquiries were made into the circumstances by a European Magistrate: the Natives without delay made ample amends: but the enclosed copies of letters will show that the Council of the Maori King at once wrote to the principal chiefs in the neighbourhood, stating their disapproval of their having-allowed the case to be brought before a European Magistrate, and reminding them that from the first establishment of the Native King it was arranged that crimes committed on Native lands were only to be settled by the King's Magistrates: they also warned them to prevent all crimes being committed against Europeans, or the Natives would by such offences be led into difficulties.
  • 11. These letters show the nature of the agreement entered into by the King party: but I think the whole circumstances of the case show that they will have great difficulty in inducing the Natives to adhere to it. In the case under consideration they did not do so, and when the Natives who acted with us were reprimanded for what they had done they showed the letters to the Government.
  • 12. I have also already stated that large bodies of Natives are ready to side with the Government, and will adopt my plans. Thus by degrees I hope the King movement will be eaten out, and, page 81 when the inferiority of their form of government is seen side by side with the superior one which will be given to them, that the whole will at last readily embrace offers which are so advantageous to them. The difficulties in the way of this are their pride, their vanity at their successes, and their want of confidence in the Government: this latter circumstance presents a very great difficulty.
  • 13. It is possible that the adherents of the Native King, seeing that their power is shaken, may attempt by force of arms to prevent some of their countrymen from acquiescing in the proposals of the Government; or may try to punish them for having done so: in this case it will be necessary for the Government to interfere to prevent such acts of violence. I can only hope that so trying a contingency as this would be may not arise.

I have, &c.,

G. Grey.

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