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

Enclosure. — Memoranda relative to Relations existing between the Governor and his Responsible Advisers

Memoranda relative to Relations existing between the Governor and his Responsible Advisers.

Memorandum by Ministers on Native Government.

In their memorandum of the 2nd of August last, which forms the subject-matter of His Excellency's despatch to the Secretary of State of the 26th August, No. 124, Ministers stated that a passage in Mr. Cardwell's despatch of the 26th of May, No. 65, was capable of an interpretation subversive of the arrangements by which responsibility in Native affairs was transferred to the Colonial Government; but it appeared to His Excellency's Responsible Advisers that the following sentences were intended to qualify that interpretation, and that such a reading would render Mr. Cardwell's despatch harmonious with and not antagonistic to that of the Duke of Newcastle of the 26th of February, 1863, which embodies the arrangements between the Imperial and Colonial Governments as to the conduct of Native affairs.

It thus appears that, in the opinion of Ministers, the despatch referred to was capable of two interpretations,—one by which the arrangements made would be subverted, and the other consistent with it. It was against the former interpretation, which would, in fact, introduce a new form of government under which Native affairs would be administered partly by the Governor and partly by his Advisers, that Ministers thought it their duty to protest.

It is very remarkable that throughout His Excellency's very long despatch he does not commit himself to an opinion as to which interpretation is the correct one,—his despatch will suit either.

page 93

This is no doubt very safe; but Ministers most respectfully submit that it is neither candid nor fair. His Excellency, in the last paragraph of his despatch, states, "I am not at all satisfied that when the subject has been fully considered public opinion will be adverse to the instructions you have issued for the management of' public affairs during the present crisis." If those instructions are intended to subvert the arrangement of February, 1863, and to authorize the Governor without qualification to act on his own judgment, irrespectively of his Responsible Advisers (and it was against this Ministers protested), they beg to express their dissent from His Excellency's opinion; but if, on the other hand, the instructions are not inconsistent with that arrangement, but only point out the manner in which it is to be carried into practice, the opinion of Ministers is not adverse to, them, nor do they believe will be that of the public.

Ministers now beg to be permitted to make some corrections in matters of fact, and to point out what appear to them to be some false inferences

  • 1. His Excellency states it to be his opinion that several discussions which have taken place between his Responsible Advisers and himself constitute differences of opinion. It would have been folly for Ministers to have said that these discussions did not exhibit differences of opinion, but Ministers did not say anything which could be construed to bear such an interpretation. The words used by Ministers on the 2nd of August last were these: "Practically no difference of opinion as yet exists between His Excellency and his Advisers." At that time the statement was true—no difference did then exist of a practical nature; for, although differences had frequently arisen, they had been obviated by Ministers, with an earnest desire to yield to His Excellency as the representative of the Imperial Government, surrendering their own opinions; and therefore, although differences had arisen, no practical result was then in existence.
  • 2. His Excellency next states that he is of opinion that the publication in the colony of Mr. Cardwell's Despatch No. 43, of the 26th of April, has produced a very happy effect on the Native population, and that to it His Excellency attributes, in no small degree, and in spite of adverse causes, the surrender of the rebels at Taurariga. Ministers feel bound to express their dissent from this opinion; and it is quite clear that the Tauranga Natives had made up their minds to surrender before they ever heard of Mr. Cardwell's despatch or its contents. The despatch was published in the New Zealand Gazette on the 30th of June, and was republished in the Auckland newspapers on the following day, which reached Tauranga on the 4th or 5th of July. The Natives who surrendered were at that time dispersed in the forests at the back of Tauranga, 150 miles distant from Auckland. On the 5th of July Mr. Rice received a communication from them that they desired to surrender, and it was several days after that before they became aware that Mr. Cardwell's despatch was in existence. The true cause of their submission may be found in their defeat on the 21st of June at Te Ranga, by the forces under Colonel Greer, and the straits they were reduced to by the want of food. These, indeed, are the reasons they themselves assigned for their submission.
  • 3. Paragraph No. 4 of His Excellency's despatch is calculated to convey a very erroneous impression as regards the assumption of responsibility in Native affairs by the Colonial Government. The facts are these: In 1856, when Ministerial responsibility in the management of public affairs was granted to the Colony of New Zealand, an exception was made of Native affairs, the entire control of which, by arrangement then made, was reserved to the Representative of the Imperial Government. Soon after the arrival of Sir George Grey, in September, 1861, the then Ministers accepted the transfer from the Governor of that responsibility, subject to the confirmation of the General Assembly; but both Houses, in the following session held in August, 1862, passed resolutions declining the functions which had been relinquished to them; and in a despatch from His Excellency to the Secretary of State, dated the 26th of August, 1862, he stated that he had consented to act in the spirit of these resolutions until further instructions should reach him. His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, in a despatch dated the 26th of February, 1863, informed the Governor that the Imperial Government would not recall its decision with respect to the administration of Native affairs; but no alteration was made till November, 1863, when the General Assembly, having had under their consideration the despatch of the 26th of February, 1863, "conveying the fixed determination of Her Majesty's Government to revoke the arrangement of 1856, and for the future require the colonists to undertake the responsibility of the management of Native affairs," by resolutions passed in both Houses accepted the responsibility thus placed on the colonists. It is true that a great change has taken place, as stated by His Excellency, since the direction of Native affairs was originally, that is, in 1861, assumed temporarily by the Colonial Minister; but it is equally true that that direction was accepted by them subject to the confirmation of the General Assembly, which was refused, and that no change has taken place in this country since November, 1863, several months after the present war had broken out, when responsibility in the management of Native affairs was definitively transferred to the Colonial Ministry.

    The same paragraph of His Excellency's despatch is at least inaccurate when it states that the parties engaged-in the present conflict are the whole of the European population and a part of the Natives on one side, and the remaining portion of the Native population on the other; the fact being that in addition to the two hostile Native parties there is a third, exceeding in number the other two conjointly—namely, a party which has taken no active part on either side, but has remained neutral, watching the course of events.

  • 4. In their memorandum of the 2nd of August, Ministers stated that His Excellency is bound to judge for himself as to the justice and propriety of employing Her Majesty's troops, and that Ministers do not claim the right to enforce their policy with Her Majesty's Imperial forces. Ministers are unable to reconcile these declarations with His Excellency's understanding that they "protest against not being allowed to exercise absolutely powers which would virtually give them a very large control over the naval and military forces and the naval and military expenditure of Great Britain."
  • 5. Ministers feel assured that His Excellency's opinion that because the General Assembly is not responsible it would therefore exercise little or no control over the Colonial Ministers in reference to military and naval matters, is clearly erroneous. Experience has proved exactly the reverse. Nopage 94questions have been more fully and energetically discussed in the General Assembly of New Zealand than those having reference to advice tendered to the Governor on questions as to the employment of forces; nor indeed could it well be otherwise, for such questions are of the utmost importance to the colony, involving not only its welfare, but the safety of the lives and property of the inhabitants.
  • 6. It is quite true that the members of the General Assembly are collected from great distances, from settlements having a totally different character from those of the population inhabiting districts where there are many Natives, and it must be admitted that generally the information the inhabitants of such, settlements possess regarding public affairs is limited, though certainly a more general interest is taken in public affairs in New Zealand than in England, and a greater knowledge of them possessed by the public at large. His Excellency, however, does not state what inference he wishes to be drawn from his statement, but it is clear that it is not a favourable one. On the other hand, Ministers regard the facts admitted as beneficial rather than otherwise to a due appreciation and just management of Native affairs during the excitement necessarily incident to the suppression of a formidable rebellion; for the settlements distant from the seat of hostilities may be fairly expected to send to the Assembly men of calmer judgment, and the totally different character of the population will act as a counterpoise to each other. The main object, however, of the 7th and following paragraphs of His Excellency's despatch appears to be to depreciate Responsible Ministries in general in this colony, and the present Ministers in particular, to disparage the General Assembly and find fault with public opinion, with apparently the object of proving that there is no one in the colony at the present juncture fit to be intrusted with the management of public affairs, and therefore it should be handed over to Imperial officers, or, in other words, to His Excellency himself. The charge that the information given to the Assembly by the Ministry of the day is frequently only such as it thinks fit to transpire, conveys of course the imputation that papers are frequently purposely kept back. This charge Ministers distinctly deny; it is entirely without foundation; and Ministers can indeed with confidence appeal to the Parliamentary papers published in every session of the Assembly in proof of the truth of their denial. The several statements which follow on the same subject Ministers feel bound in justice to say are either without foundation or greatly exaggerated.
  • 7. His Excellency states that the sessions of the General Assembly are not only short, but by far too infrequent to enable them to exercise such control over public affairs as is exercised by the Parliament of Great Britain. It may be observed that if the meetings of the General Assembly were infrequent it would be iu strict conformity with the plan of a Constitution proposed for New Zealand by His Excellency himself in 1851, and substantially adopted by the Constitution Act. But how far His Excellency is correct may be judged by the following statement, commencing with the year 1860, that in which the Maori disturbance first broke out in Taranaki:—
    Day of Commencement of Session.Date of Prorogation.Duration. No. of Days.
    186030th July5th November99
    18613rd June7th September97
    18627th July15th September71
    186319th October14th December57

    It must be borne in mind that mere local matters are not subjects of legislation in the General Assembly, as they are dealt with by the Provincial Councils, so that only questions of general interest engage the attention of the General Legislature; and it is unquestionable that no subject introduced into the Assembly has received the same consideration and has been so fully discussed as those relating to the Maoris, or has occupied one-fifth part of the time: in fact it may be safely affirmed that during the last four sessions—those above referred to—few days have passed in which Native affairs, in some shape or other, were not under consideration, and a very large period of the session of 1863 was exclusively devoted to them.

  • 8. It would be presumption in a Ministry in New Zealand to institute any comparison between themselves and the "strong and powerful Ministry which can be found in Great Britain." But, because a New Zealand Ministry is comparatively very weak, it can be no justification for the inaccurate and exaggerated statements made by H is Excellency in paragraph No. 9 of his despatch. It is not true that the direction of affairs, involving largely the interests of Great Britain, have frequently rested in the hands of two members only of the Ministry; and it is not true that it was on advice thus tendered to him that the Governor was frequently expected to act in the most important affairs of Imperial concern. The present Government entered office in October, 1863, and from that time to the present Mr. Fox has been absent from time to time 38 days collectively on urgent public, business, and Mr. Gillies 144 days, for the most part in accordance with the arrangement made when he joined the Government, that he should generally reside in the South, with a view to special attention to southern business. And Ministers beg to state most distinctly that no Ministerial advice has ever been tendered to His Excellency by any two members of the Government which had not been previously considered and decided on invariably by one and frequently by two other members of the Government, and that such advice has been in furtherance of plans previously agreed to by every member of the Government. As His Excellency has considered it necessary, for the information of the Secretary of State, fully to express his opinion, in rather personal terms, of the New Zealand Colonial Government, both Executive and Legislative, it seems necessary, in order to render the information of the Secretary of State complete, that the opinion entertained in the colony in reference to His Excellency himself should not be omitted. Ministers, however, will not follow His Excellency's example by descending into personalities, but will confine themselves to a simple expression of opinion, without entering on the reasons on which it is founded. Ministers are clearly of opinion—and on this they certainly believe that they speak the sentiments of a large majority of both House of Assembly and of the public in general—that Responsible Government in New Zealand can never be successfully worked under His Excellency Sir George Grey.
  • 9. Many of, the observations of His Excellency in reference to the difficulties of a Governor under Responsible Government in New Zealand are more or less correct. But it may be said that with ordinary tact and management they are not insuperable. No doubt there is an essential differencepage 95between Responsible Government in New Zealand and in the Mother-country. It is true that in the colony the Governor issues orders in his own name, and that in matters not involving Imperial interests they are the orders of his Ministry who are responsible, and are invariably so considered at all events in the colony. If Ministers advise that which is repugnant to His Excellency's own feelings he is not compelled to give his assent; but he has his constitutional remedy, and, although there certainly are impediments in the way of forming a new Ministry, they are much exaggerated by His Excellency, and there is no difficulty which could not be easily overcome if his views coincided with those held by a majority of the House of Representatives, or with those held by a majority of the Executive.
  • 10. No doubt, with a civil war raging in a country, there is danger of men's passions misleading them; but Ministers refer with the utmost confidence to their acts and expressed opinions since they have been in office as a refutation of any charge that may be brought against them that their passions have led them to "adopt extreme views," or to do "hasty and ill-considered acts."
  • 11. What Great Britain owes to the feelings of her naval and military forces—and His Excellency reminds her that she does owe something—is not a question for the Colonial Government; but His Excellency's observations are equally applicable to the colonial forces, and Ministers cannot therefore permit them to pass without notice. They beg most respectfully to express their dissent from what to them appears to be a new and dangerous doctrine, that the feelings of the naval and military forces of a State are to be consulted as to the political justice, propriety, or expediency of the service on which they are employed. Ministers entirely agree with His Excellency that the "uncontrolled power over the lives, actions, and honour" of the officers and men of Her Majesty's Imperial troops and "the welfare of their wives and children" should not be "handed over to irresponsible persons, or at least but feebly responsible to the Colonial Legislature." As Ministers have never claimed such a power, as they have frequently stated, and certainly have never attempted to exercise it, they are quite at a loss to understand against what so much declamation is directed. So far indeed from such power having ever been exercised, Ministers feel that they have been excluded by His Excellency from that which they conceive that they have a legitimate right to. For some time past His Excellency has not thought it necessary even to communicate any information relative, to military movements, and at this very time it is only through the newspapers that they have become informed that some expedition is about to be despatched to the south, either to Taranaki or Whanganui or to both; nor has His Excellency permitted his Ministers to see the despatches received from Her Majesty's Secretary of State by the last mail ten days ago. If Whanganui be the intended scene of military operations, Ministers feel especially that they should have been informed, for it appears to them of importance that timely notice of the intention should have been given, in order to place on their guard the out-settlers who will be exposed to Native outrage.
  • 12. The repetition by His Excellency in various forms of the imputation that Ministers desire or claim to exercise control over Her Majesty's Imperial troops, and divert the expenditure of the resources of the British taxpayer renders it necessary for Ministers to repeat that they never did and do not claim anything of the kind. But on the other hand they do claim, and as long, as they remain Responsible Ministers will exercise, as they feel it to be their duty, control over the resources of the taxpayer, and will not consent to surrender that control to the Imperial officers.

Ministers entirely agree with His Excellency that no doubt need be entertained of the sense and good-feeling of the inhabitants of New Zealand, and that Her Majesty's Secretary of State will be supported by a large majority in doing that which is right. The inhabitants of New Zealand have no desire unduly to interfere with the functions of Her Majesty's Imperial officers, nor to exercise any powers over Her Majesty's Imperial forces; but on the other hand they do claim and feel that they have a right to expect that in all questions affecting colonial interests their legitimate influence should not be denied them. They are above all things anxious that the present war should be speedily terminated: indeed, it is of vital importance to them that it should be. They have made great sacrifices with the hope and expectation that it will be brought to that satisfactory conclusion, a just and permanent peace; and they earnestly hope that His Excellency the Governor will not be induced to forego all that has been gained towards that end by patching up a mere truce. Ministers feel assured, to use the words of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, that "it is 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."

Ministers most respectfully request that His Excellency will be pleased to transmit a copy of this memorandum to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies by the mail of the 8th of next month, as His Excellency's despatch, to which this memorandum refers, was transmitted by the last mail.

Fredk Whitaker.

30th September, 1864.