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

Copy of a Despatch from his Grace the Duke of Newcastle to Governor Sir George Grey

Copy of a Despatch from his Grace the Duke of Newcastle to Governor Sir George Grey.

Downing Street, 26th November, 1863.


I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No. 109, of the 29th August, transmitting a memorandum from your Responsible Advisers, containing the details of a plan which they have formed for the introduction in the Northern Island of a large body of settlers, to whom it is proposed to assign land on a species of military tenure in the Waikato, and hereafter probably in the Taranaki districts. You also enclose a copy of your reply, authorizing the immediate raising of 2,000 men for active service, pending the meeting of the General Assembly, together with copies of the conditions under which they are to be enrolled.

Principle of Confiscation approved of.

I do not disapprove of the principle of this measure. I think that any body of Natives which takes up arms against Her Majesty on such grounds as those which are alleged by the Waikatos may properly be punished by a confiscation of their common property. I think that the lands thus acquired may properly be employed in meeting the expenses of carrying on the war, nor do I see any objection to using them as the sites for military settlements, which, moreover, must soon lose their distinctive character, since, it is probable that the Natives of these districts, unlike those in the Cape Colony and Kaffraria, will soon become an unimportant minority of the inhabitants.

Danger in its Application.

But, while I acquiesce generally in the principles which you have adopted, I must add that the application of these principles is a matter of great danger and delicacy, for which the Colonial Government must remain, responsible. It will be evidently very difficult to control within wise and just limits that eagerness for the acquisition of land which the announcement of an extended confiscation is likely to stimulate among old and new settlers, and which, if uncontrolled, may lead to great injustice and oppression. Still more evidently is it possible that the Natives who still remain friendly to the Government may view this measure, not as a punishment for rebellion and murder, but as a new and flagrant proof of the determination of colonists to possess themselves of land at all risks to themselves and at any cost, and as thus furnishing the true explanation of the past and present policy of the Government. Such belief would obviously tend to make the Maoris desperate, and aid the efforts of the King party to effect a general rising throughout the Northern Island.

Your Ministry do not notice this danger in their memorandum, but they cannot have been blind to it, and I do not doubt (though you do not so inform me) that they feel their power to control the application of the principle which they have introduced, and have taken sufficient means to persuade the Maoris in general that the properties of innocent persons and tribes will be strictly respected, and that a different measure of severity will be administered to those who have taken a lead in the war and those who, though in some degree accessories to what has passed, have, as far as circumstances would allow, favoured the cause of order.

Whether due caution has been used in these respects is a question which the Home Government can only judge by the result. And I must no disguise from you that if this important determination of your Government should have the effect of extending and intensifying the spirit of disaffection, and of thus enlarging the sphere or prolonging the period of military operations, these consequences will be viewed by Her Majesty's Government with the gravest concern and reprehension.

I have, &c.,


Governor Sir George Grey, K.C.B., &c.