Copy of a Letter from Sir George Grey,- K.C.B., to the Right Hon. Earl Granville, K.G.
I beg to slate that a despatch of your Lordship's, dated the 7th instant, and which has been published by your directions, is, in my opinion, likely to seriously injure myself and those New Zealand statesmen who acted as my Ministers. I am confirmed in this opinion by the remarks made to me in connection with your Lordship's despatch since its publication.
Your lordship is pleased to state, in the despatch to which I allude, that the recognition of Maori authority by Her Majesty's Government in New Zealand is an indispensable, although a distasteful, remedy for the difficulties of New Zealand—although it is one which will not be resorted to while the colony continues to expect assistance from this country, and that a decision to supply the colony even with the prestige of British troops, objectionable as your Lordship has shown it to be on the ground of practical principle, would, in your view, be almost immediately injurious to the settlers themselves, as tending to delay the adoption of those prudent counsels on which you think the restoration of the Northern Island depends. Tour Lordship will pardon me for showing, in self-defence, that the statements so made are contrary to fact.
One error which pervades your Lordship's correspondence upon this and cognate points is that you are pleased to speak of "the leading tribe" of Maoris as "scattered." In truth, the Waikato Tribe, the tribe 1o which I presume your Lordship alludes, would not be admitted to be the leading tribe by several other tribes, such as the Ngapuhi Tribes, the Ngatikahungunu Tribes, the Ngatitoa, the Ngatiraukawa, the Arawa, and other tribes. The Waikat Tribes, however, set up the Native King, and selected, twice, a leading chief of their own tribe to fill that office: hence arose a great difficulty. The other tribes to which I have alluded, the chiefs of which had always been independent sovereign princes, had relinquished, by treaty, their sovereign rights to the Queen of England, and, conjointly with the Waikato Tribes, had by that treaty recognized Her Majesty as their common Sovereign. The tribes I have named, or the great majority of them, were and are proud of being the subjects of a great Sovereign, and no persuasion would induce them to recognize the authority of the Waikato King. To make them do that, we should have to resort to force, and to join the fanatics against those tribes, many members of which have cheerfully laid down their lives to maintain the authority of the Queen. The mere rumour of any intended general recognition of the Maori King will raise up new and more formidable enemies against us than we have hitherto had to cope with, and other tribes will declare their independence upon totally new grounds.page 198
I beg to state that whilst large bodies of troops were in tho country, and before the Waikato war commenced, I paid a visit to the Waikato tribes, who I believed were resolved upon a formidable outbreak. The whole of their principal chiefs met me, with the exception of the Maori King, who was ill, and I, to those chiefs, with the full assent of my Responsible Advisers, offered to constitute all the Waikato and Ngatimaniapoto country a separate province, which would have had the right of electing its own Superintendent, its own Legislature, and of choosing its own Executive Government, and in fact would have had practically the same powers and rights as any State of the United States now has. There could hardly have been a more ample and complete recognition of Maori authority, as the Waikato tribes would within their own district—a very large, one—have, had the exclusive control and management of their own affairs. This offer was, however, after full discussion and consideration, resolutely and deliberately refused, on the ground that they would accept no offer that did not involve an absolute recognition of the Maori King, and his and their entire independence, from the Crown of England,—terms which no subject had power to grant, and which could not have been granted without creating worse evils than those which their refusal involved.
I have, &c.,