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

No. 3. — Extract of a Despatch from Lord John Russell to Governor Sir George Gipps

No. 3.
Extract of a Despatch from Lord John Russell to Governor Sir George Gipps.

Downing Street, 4th December, 1839.

I have to inform you that, since the date of those instructions addressed to you by the Mrquis of Normanby respecting New Zealand, a large body of persons have embarked for those islands.

page 160

I transmit to you, for your information, copies of a correspondence on this subject between this department and Mr. George Frederick Young.

However unjustifiable may be the course taken by the New Zealand Land Company, the persons who have embarked, being, for the most part, ignorant of the relations between this country and the New Zealanders, and not aware of the distinction between New Zealand and any of Her Majesty's possessions in Australia, are to be regarded with consideration and kindness.

At this distance from the scene of their destination I find it impossible to fetter the discretion of Captain Hobson by any instructions from which he cannot depart without reference to this country. I therefore authorize you to set Captain Hobson at liberty with respect to certain parts of his instructions which he may feel it impracticable, or highly inexpedient, to execute. In particular, with regard to the sale of land, it may be found impossible to realize the price of 12s. an acre, while that price is not demanded either at Sydney or in Western Australia, or in Van Diemen's Land. He may therefore reduce the price to 5s., until the higher price is the usual upset price in the Australian settlements.

With respect to the administration of justice still greater difficulty may occur. The correspondence on that subject with the New Zealand Land Company has ended by a withdrawal of their instructions, and an injunction to aid and assist Captain Hobson. Under these circumstances, one of Captain Hobson's first duties will be to establish a tribunal for the trial of crimes and the redress of civil injuries.

In reference to Captain Hobson's letter to Mr. Labouchere, of the of August last, I perceive he speaks in the following terms with respect to the need of force to support his authority: "There are one or two subjects that have not been noticed, which I hope may still engage the attention of the Secretary of State. No allusion has been made to a military force, nor have any instructions been issued for the arming and equipping of militia. The presence of a few soldiers would check any disposition to revolt, and would enable me to forbid in a firmer tone those inhuman practices I have been ordered to restrain. The absence of such support, on the other hand, will encourage the disaffected to resist my authority, and may be the means of entailing on us eventually difficulties that I am unwilling to contemplate." I have proposed to Lord Hill to send a force of 100 men to New Zealand.

The first difficulty stated by Lord Hill—namely, the want of any settlement in New Zealand in which the Queen's authority is established—will be obviated by my giving authority to you to take that step, if necessary, when you shall have received intelligence that Captain Hobson has received a grant or cession of territory from the New Zealand chiefs in the North Island, or that he has established the Queen's authority in the Southern Island.

The precautions stated as necessary by Lord Hill deserve careful attention. It appears to me that a framework of barracks, or blockhouse, would be quite necessary. Perhaps field-pieces might not be required, but chevaux-de-frise and intrenching tools should not be omitted; likewise a surgeon, and some person qualified to act for commissariat dutes.

I am informed by Lord Minto that a sloop of war will constantly be at the service of Captain Hobson, and I trust the marines employed may be found useful in preparing the means of defence for the detachment.

With these precautions, I authorize you, if necessary, to detach 100 men to aid Captain Hobson when he shall have assumed the title of Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand.