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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 Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Eight Hon. Earl Granville, K.G

Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., to the Eight Hon. Earl Granville, K.G.

Government House, Wellington, N.Z., 7th July, 1869.

My Lord,—

It is my duty to report that strong comments have been made by the leading public men of all parties in this country, in the Colonial Parliament and otherwise, and by the principal organs of the colonial Press, on the two last paragraphs of your Lordship's Despatch No. 30, of the 26th February ultimo, viz.: "I see it stated in the newspapers that you have offered a reward of £1,000 for the person of the Maori chief Titokowaru—I infer dead or alive—and £5 for the person of every Maori rebel brought in alive. I do not pronounce any opinion at present as to the propriety of these steps. But I must observe that they are so much at variance with the usual laws of war, and appear at first sight so much calculated to exasperate and extend hostilities, that they ought to have been reported to me by you officially, with the requisite explanation, which I should now be glad to receive."

2.It is contended here that this passage implies that the Maoris now in arms against the Queen, and, in particular, the cannibal Titokowaru and his band, are foreign enemies, or, at all events, "belligerents," with whom "the usual laws of war" must be strictly observed, and it is felt that the question thus raised is of the highest practical importance. It has, therefore, been referred by the Colonial Ministers for the opinion of the Attorney-General, which I now enclose, soliciting for it careful consideration.
3.It will be seen that, so far back as iu. 1842 and 1844, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies (the present Lord Derby) wrote as follows. [See enclosure.]
4.Mr. Stafford, in his memorandum on this question, remarks: "Earl Granville suspends his judgment as to the propriety of these steps [i.e., the action of the Colonial Ministers in offering rewards for Titokowaru and Te Kooti], on the ground that they are much at variance with the usual laws of war.' When his Lordship shall have had leisure to consider the details of the acts of Titokowaru and Te Kooti, he will perhaps come to the conclusion that their atrocities are happily as exceptional as the course adopted with a view to their punishment. But the offers in question are not without precedent, in the history of the Mutiny in India, and even of the Fenian outrages within the heart of the United Kingdom. Every atrocity of the Sepoy Rebelliou has been paralleled and outdone in the raids, burnings, violations, tortures, murders, and cannibalism of the last nine months in New Zealand, and with less provocation or excuse."
5.It will be further recollected that, so far back as on the 5th September ultimo, I transmitted a memorandum from Colonel Haultain, then the Minister for Colonial Defence, showing that every effort was made in the due course of law to bring to justice Titokowaru and his gang of murderers Warrants were issued against them after the Coroner's inquest held on the bodies of some of the settlers, whom they have treacherously killed and savagely mutilated Any prisoners that may be taken will be tried before the Supreme Court of the colony, as were the Maoris who in 1865 murdered Messrs. Volkner and Fulloon at Opotiki, on the east coast of this Island," In my previous. Despatch No. 78, of the 8th of August, 1868, I had forwarded a copy of Titokowaru's proclamation to his tribe (dated 25th June, 1868), in which he boasted of his cannibalism—of "eating an European page 190trooper like a piece of beef. He was cooked in a pot; the women and children partook of the food. I Lave begun to eat human flesh, and my throat is constantly open for the flesh of man." Again, with my Despatch No. 14, of the 31st of January ultimo, I forwarded Colonel McDonnell's account of his visit to Titokowaru's abandoned pa at Te Ngutu-o-te-nanu?("the Hawk's Beak"), to ascertain the fate of the officers and men of the colonial forces who were killed and wounded in the action of the 7th September, 1868, and whose bodies unfortunately fell into the hands of the rebels. Colonel McDonnell wrote: "I regret to say that the report which reached me about the burning of the bodies of those left in the field is too correct; and a more horrible and revolting spectacle could not have been witnessed. We found the remains of two large fires or altars outside the pa, and of a small one inside, at the foot of a rata tree. The charred remains of human bones and skulls at each of these fires, with other signs horrible to think of, told a sickening and awful tale. I fear the story related of poor Corporal Russell, relative to his having been burnt alive, is true; and this most likely took place at the foot of the rata tree mentioned above. There is no doubt that the dead were partly eaten and partly offered as a sacrifice by the infamous Titokowaru and his band." In your Despatch No. 45, of 23rd April ultimo, your Lordship acknowledged the receipt of my despatch "enclosing a report from Colonel McDonnell of a successful expedition under him to the pa of the rebel Titokowaru," and added, "I am greatly shocked to hear, from Colonel McDonnell's report, of the barbarous manner in which the remains of some of the colonial troops were treated; and I can hardly express the feeling of horror with which I learn that there is reason to fear that one of them was burnt alive."
6.Your Lordship has required from me explanations of the conduct of the Colonial Government with regard to Titokowaru. The above-mentioned facts alone, taken in connection with the opinion of the Attorney-General, seem to justify, according to the law of nations, the decision of the Ministers to treat Titokowaru and also Te Kooti (whose cruelties have been hardly less atrocious) in an exceptional manner, so as to make a clear and broad distinction between them and those insurgents who, like the Waikato tribes, have waged a comparatively honourable warfare. Moreover, it has been asked here, "Why should the Ministry of New Zealand be blamed for adopting, against Maori murderers and cannibals, measures far less stringent than those for which Lord Seaton, Sir Henry Ward, Lord Torrington, Lord Canning, and other Governors have been applauded for adopting in the suppression of the rebellions in Canada, Cephalonia, Ceylon, India, and Ireland?" It is well known that, in all the rebellions alluded to, rewards were offered for the persons of the rebel leaders, in some cases "dead or alive," totidem verbis; that "martial law" was proclaimed, the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, numerous prisoners were executed for being merely taken in arms against the Crown, and other measures of repression were carried out much more severely than in New Zealand.
7.As your Lordship is already aware, Colonel Haultain and Mr. Richmond offered rewards for Titokowaru and Te Kooti respectively, while those Ministers were in the field wiih the colonial forces, at a great distance from the seat of Government, and necessarily without the previous knowledge or sanction of the Governor. Their colleagues entirely concurred in the action taken, so soon as they heard of it; and when it was discussed in the Parliament the leading men of all parties gave it almost unanimous support. I am informed that there appears to be a very general determination to resist the active interference of any Imperial authority in the internal government of New Zealand, now that the Imperial Government has transferred the entire control and management of Native affairs to the Colonial Ministers for the time being, and has absolutely declined to give any assistance or to incur any responsibility in the suppression of the existing Maori rebellion.
8.I earnestly trust that I shall not be misunderstood in any quarter, and that my conduct during my long career in the service of the Crown will show that I am not likely to shrink from any responsibility properly belonging to my office. I have never concealed that, so far as my personal feelings are concerned, I should greatly prefer to be in the position occupied by my predecessors in New Zealand down to 1862, for (among other considerations) it is naturally very painful to be subjected to censure, both in England and in this colony, for the actions of other men, when all power of direct control has been taken out of the hands of the Governor, and he has also been deprived of all physical force by the entire removal of the Imperial troops. But I know, of course, that this position is for many reasons unavoidable under existing circumstances; and (as I have often stated elsewhere) I concur with the opinion of Mr. Herman Merivale that "The suggestion of establishing in the same colony Responsible Government for the settlers, and a separate administration of Native affairs under the Imperial authorities, is unpractical. There cannot be two Governments in the same community; certainly not unless some mode can be devised of having two, public purses." It might be added that the progress of events in this colony has abundantly proved that nothing but disaster can follow from divided councils and from divided power and responsibility. The real management of Native affairs must rest either with a Governor responsible to the Secretary of State, or with a Ministry responsible to the Colonial Parliameat. It is not to be denied, however, that the Governor of a colony possessing parliamentary institutions, as an impartial though not indifferent observer, and friendly moderator of extreme views, may effect much good, but only (as Earl Grey has remarked) "by a judicious use of the influence rather than of the authority of his office." It need scarcely be added that he must always be careful not to identify himself in any manner with illegal or cruel measures; but I have yet to learn that there is any set of public men in the New Zealand Parliament desirous to adopt measures of that nature.
9.In this and in previous despatches I have submitted the explanation required concerning the conduct of the Colonial Government, with, I trust, a not unbecoming frankness, and certainly without the intentional use of a single word inconsistent with the respect due to your Lordship, both personally and as the Minister through whom I receive the instructions of Her Majesty's Government.

I have, &c.,

G. F Bowen.

The Right Hon. Earl Granville, K.G.