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MARQUIS OF NORMANBY, LORD JOHN RUSSELL,
LATE PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES OF STATE FOR THE BRITISH COLONIES.
THE Committee of the Aborigines' Protection Society has presumed to inscribe the following Essay with your united names, that it may have the satisfaction of offering a public testimony of its respect and admiration for those sentiments of justice and kindness towards the Aborigines of the British Colonies which have marked your Despatches and other official documents, in the discharge of your honourable and arduous duties as Colonial Ministers of the British Crown. These principles, were they carried out by all the subordinate officers in the British Colonies, and adopted as the rule of action by British subjects both at home and abroad, would put a stop to those evils which have dishonoured the name of England, and proved scarcely less injurious to the distant dependencies of the Empire, than fatal to the weaker branches of the human family, and distressing to many who have raised their voices against them.
The Committee would not conceal its desire, that, in taking this liberty with your names, it may secure for the following pages a larger amount of the attention and consideration of their countrymen than it could otherwise obtain for them.
Its object in producing this Essay has been to set forth a case which offers the strongest claim upon that active sympathy for which the English Nation is so justly distinguished; and to invite attention to a few practical points, which, with all due deference, it conceives to be essentially necessary to the success of any plan which may be devised for the introduction and maintenance of a better order of things.
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The Committee desires, moreover, to remove misapprehension from the past, and to avert it for the future; and emphatically to assert, that the Aborigines' Protection Society is so far from being the enemy and opponent to colonization, that it regards it, when carried out in such a manner as to be exempt from the evils too often associated with it, as a means of procuring incalculable blessings for those who are engaged in it; and that the benefits which it is capable of conferring upon this empire in particular are so numerous and important as to entitle the successful Colonial Minister of Great Britain to the highest honours and the warmest gratitude which the nation can bestow.
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THE progress of British Colonization in New Zealand has claimed the anxious attention of the Aborigines' Protection Society, and its Committee was induced some months ago to direct the preparation of an Essay on the subject, by the circulation of which it hoped to remove some unfavourable impressions which it feared had been very generally received, and also to create an interest in favour of the adoption of those principles on which it is convinced that the colonization of that new and important dependency of the British Empire may be carried forward, to the common benefit of native New Zealanders and British Emigrants.
The following Extract from one of the Society's publications is given with a view to exhibit the feelings entertained by the Committee; and it is hoped, that it may serve to conciliate the unprejudiced attention of the reader whether at home or abroad.
"They (the Committee) are alike anxious neither to receive and propagate mis-statements, nor to shrink from their duty of espousing the cause of the Natives when the right is on their side. To the Government they give full credit for the desire to promote the impartial administration of justice, and the equal protection of all classes; and they recognise in the appointment of Captain Fitzroy a determination to adjust those matters which it is to be feared that his predecessor, and those who temporarily held the office after his decease, had not succeeded in bringing to a satisfactory state.
"As respects the (New Zealand) Company, the Society has
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always recognised its desire to improve upon most of its colonizing predecessors in its treatment of the Natives of the soil; but whilst applauding the sentiments which it has avowed, and entertaining a personal esteem for many of its members, and seeking to maintain amicable relations with its Directors, who have allowed themselves to be recorded amongst the supporters of the Society, it has not professed its adhesion to all the acts of that body, so far as the Natives are concerned; and still less is it ready to approve of all the acts of its distant agents. From the recent emigrants, whom the offers of the Company or the Government have induced to transfer themselves, their families, and all that they possessed, to the most distant parts of the globe, in the hope of finding a peaceful home, where they could have free scope for their exertions--but who, whilst unable to obtain possession of the land which they thought they had purchased, have been compelled to sacrifice their property for the means of existence--it does not withhold that sympathy which must be the common feeling of all their countrymen who are aware of their misfortunes. But in pity for the Settler the Committee see no sanction for dispossessing the Native before the extinction of his title has been justly settled; nor for that irregular occupation of native land, commonly designated as 'squatting,' which it is understood is now becoming the practice of European emigrants to New Zealand.
"The case of the early settlers involves more complicated difficulties, originating not merely in the comparative antiquity of their titles, but also in the variety of the claims upon which their titles are assumed, as well as in the great diversity of personal character comprehended in this class; amongst whom are to be found the highly-professing Missionary, the honest and honourable trader, the runaway sailor, and the escaped convict.
"That difficulties, productive of serious evils to many worthy and unoffending persons, should arise from the necessarily protracted adjustment of the claims of this class, must obviously be the subject of regret more than of surprise; and it is to be hoped
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that in the Councils of the Government, and in the zeal and prudence of its executive in the Colony, the means will be found to alleviate the pressure of circumstances which it is too late to prevent. With respect to the remaining class, whatever may have been the errors or mistakes into which, from various causes, the classes already mentioned may have fallen, it is just and obvious that from them the resulting evils should be, as far as possible, averted: and it is to this class, which consists of the native population, that the attention of your Society is legitimately applied." -- See Seventh Annual Report, May 20th, 1844, pp. 24, 25.
London, 13. 12. 1845.