Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Right Hon. Earl
In continuation of my Despatch No. 101, of the 4th August ultimo, I have the honour to forward, for your Lordship's information, a report and plan, submitted to me by Captain Young, of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment, my Acting Military Secretary, explaining the nature of the fort and place of refuge for the settlers and their families which he has just completed at a central position in the Waikato. Similar defensive works, though of a less elaborate description, have also been erected in all the other districts in which there is any apprehension of Native outbreaks.
- 2. It will be seen from the monthly report of the Minister of Defence and Native Affairs, transmitted with my Despatch No. 159, of the 20th instant, that the only band of rebels now in active hostility is that under Te Kooti, in the mountainous and thickly-wooded country to the west of Lake Taupo. It is variously estimated at from three hundred to one hundred men; and is being, it is hoped, gradually surrounded by detachments of the Native Contingent, about six hundred strong, under the chiefs Te Kepa and Topia; while Colonel McDonnell, with parties of the Armed Constabulary and loyal Maoris from the East Coast, is watching the passes by which Te Kooti will probably attempt to make his way once more to the mountains of the Uraweras.
- 3. A point on the shores of Lake Taupo is the true strategic centre of the North Island; and here the Colonial Government is now maintaining at a very heavy cost, and intends to continue to maintain, a strong force of the Native Contingent, which will be able to keep in check the rebel bands that look to the central mountains of the interior as a secure refuge; and also to operate on their rear if they should hereafter make fresh raids against any of the English settlements. Another important part of the scheme of colonial defence is to construct roads through the disturbed districts generally, and especially from Lake Taupo to Napier on the East, and to Whanganui on the West Coast. It will be remembered that Earl Grey has recorded in his work on colonial policy that the late Duke of Wellington strongly advised that the construction of roads should be one of the very first objects to be aimed at in New Zealand. Moreover, in addition to the other obvious advantages, both civil and military, of opening up the country in this manner, the Government will thus be enabled to keep in constant occupation and pay, and under useful industrial training, a number of the lawless spirits that abound among the Maoris, eager for the excitement of war and plunder, but not caring much which side they take. It is a satisfactory and suggestive circumstance that a portion of the bands that lately fought against us under Titokowaru are now receiving pay for fighting for us under Te Kepa, and for working on the newly-projected roads.
- 4. The policy towards the so-called Maori King and his adherents reported in my Despatch No. 154, of the 25th November ultimo, and on several previous occasions, has hitherto been completely successful in averting the great danger of a general insurrection, which was deemed not many months ago to be imminent, and will, it is trusted, lead ere long to, the establishment of permanent tranquillity. But all who know the Maoris best agree in urging that it would be fatal to press them too eagerly to the immediate acceptance of formal terms. Preliminaries of peace have been arranged, and friendly communications have been opened with Tawhiao and the chiefs who surround and control him. It is believed that the Colonial Government must proceed with the most cautious prudence, give time for the extension of the civilizing influences of trade and personal intercourse, and, in the words of Mr. McLean, "avoid undue haste and pressure, which, with a race like the New Zealanders, would have the effect of impeding rather than promoting satisfactory relations." I have elsewhere, at the request of the Colonial Ministers, drawn attention to their opinion on the influence which the withdrawal at this juncture of the moral support of the 2-18th Regiment may exercise on the present hopeful prospect of a peaceful settlement of Native affairs.
I have, &c.,
G. F.BowenEarl Granville, KG.The Right Hon.