CHAPTER LII. EARLY HISTORY.
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IN an appendix to his work on New Zealand, Dr. Thomson gives a catalogue of more than four hundred different publications which had appeared before 1860, in reference to that colony, and he does not state that it is exhaustive. In the face of this immense bulk of literature about New Zealand, I am almost bound to feel that more writing would be superfluous. I reflect, however, that till I had conceived the intention of visiting the colony myself, I had never even opened one of these four hundred publications; and thinking that others may have been as remiss as myself, I venture to add another to the list, hoping that it may reach some few who have hitherto neglected, as I had done, the multitudinous opportunities of information afforded them.
It is, I believe, now recognized as an historical fact that the Maoris, or natives whom we found in New Zealand when we first visited the land, are a Polynesian race who came to these islands from Hawaiki, --which was probably one of the Navigators. As to the latter point, however, there is a difference of opinion, some thinking that the migration was from a point as far east as the Sandwich Islands. It is stated that Cardinal Mezzofante declared the Maori language and that of the Sandwich Islands to be the same. We are told not only the names of the chiefs who brought the travellers, but also those of the boats in which they came; nor is there any absurdity in this, as the traditions of the Maori people have been preserved with tenacious fidelity, and the period at which the migration took place is not very remote. They were, for the most part, a brown people, of the Malay race, and seem to have
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found no human inhabitants before them when they landed. It has been calculated from the succession of chiefs, of whose names tradition has kept the record, that the Maoris landed in New Zealand about the beginning of the fifteenth century. It is perhaps impossible now to fix the date with accuracy. Of all the people whom we have been accustomed to call savages, they were perhaps, in their savage condition as we found them, the most civilized. They lived in houses; had weapons and instruments of their own made of stone; held land for cultivation as the property, not of individuals, but of tribes; cooked their food with fire; stored property so that want and starvation were uncommon among them; possessed a system for the administration of justice, and treated their wives well. But they were greatly addicted to civil wars, and they ate their enemies when they could kill or catch them.
They are an active people, --the men averaging 5 feet 6 1/2 inches in height, and are almost equal in strength and weight to Englishmen. In their former condition they wore matting, now they wear European clothes. Formerly they pulled out their beards, and every New Zealander of mark was tattooed; now they wear beards, --and the young men are not tattooed. Their hair is black and coarse, but not woolly like a negro's, or black like a Hindoo's. The nose is almost always broad, and the mouth large. In other respects their features are not unlike those of the European race. The men, to my eyes, were better looking than the women, --and the men who were tattooed better looking than those who had dropped the custom. The women still retain the old custom of tattooing the under lip. The Maoris had a mythology of their own, and believed in a future existence; --but they did not recognize one Supreme God. Virtue with them, as with other savages, consisted chiefly in courage, and a command of temper. Their great passion was revenge, which was carried on by one tribe against another to the extent sometimes of the annihilation of tribes. The decrease of their population since the English first came among them, has been owing as much to civil war, as to the injuries with which civilization has afflicted them. They seem from early days to have acquired that habit of fighting behind stockades, --or in fortified pahs, --which we have found so fatal to ourselves in our wars with them. Their weapons, before they got guns from us, were not very deadly. They were chiefly short javelins and stones, both flung from slings. But there was a horror in their warfare to the awfulness of which they themselves seemed to be keenly alive. When a prisoner was taken in war, he was cooked and eaten.
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I do not think that human beings were slaughtered for food in New Zealand, although there is no doubt that the banquet when prepared was enjoyed with a horrid relish. I will quote a passage from Dr. Thomson's work in reference to the practice of cannibalism, and will then have done with the subject. Whether or not cannibalism commenced immediately after the advent of the New Zealanders from Hawaiki, it is nevertheless certain that one of Tasman's sailors was eaten in 1642; that Captain Cook had a boat's crew eaten in 1774; that Marion de Fresne and many other navigators met this horrible end; and that the pioneers of civilization and successive missionaries have all borne testimony to the universal prevalence of cannibalism in New Zealand up to the year 1840. It is impossible to state how many New Zealanders were annually devoured; that the number was not small may be inferred from two facts authenticated by European witnesses. In 1822, Hongi's army ate three hundred persons after the capture of Totara, on the River Thames, and in 1836, during the Roturua war, sixty beings were cooked and eaten in two days." I will add from the same book a translation of a portion of a war-song: --"Oh, my little son, are you crying, are you screaming for your food? Here it is for you, the flesh of Hekemanu and Werata. Although I am surfeited with the soft brains of Putu Rikiriki and Raukauri, yet such is my hatred that I will fill myself fuller with those of Pau, of Ngaraunga, of Pipi, and with my most dainty morsel, the flesh of the hated Te ao." In these wars they threatened each other with cannibalism, and boasted of the foes they had devoured.
The two islands of New Zealand together are about as big as Great Britain. The French, Spaniards, and Dutch, all claim to have been the first discoverers, but the honour is now conceded to the latter. A. Jan Tasman, he who also discovered for us Tasmania, is supposed to have been the first to have seen New Zealand closely, though he never put his foot upon it. He came over from Batavia in 1642, anchored off the north-western coast of the middle island, and gave to the country the Dutch name of New Zealand. There was doubtless some fighting, but, according to his story, the natives first attacked him. His discovery was of no service to him, for he could get neither water nor food, --and so he went his way. After that we have no distinct record of any visit to the islands till Cook landed there in 1796. Cook had much intercourse with the natives, frequently trading with them, and as frequently fighting them. It is, perhaps, hardly worth the while of any English reader now to sift the merits and demerits of the two parties, or to attempt to
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discover which first used violence to the other. But it is impossible not to feel that whereas the strangers had no moral right to attack the natives, the natives cannot have been morally wrong in attempting to destroy their invaders.
It has generally if not always been the case on such occasions, that the new-comers have intended to be gracious, if the natives whom they found would only be gracious also; --but have as firmly determined to be masters, if not by fair means, then by foul. They have claimed what they wanted as though it were their own, and have punished offences against their own laws with a high hand. In all the intercourse of Europeans with savage races it has been so, -- though in a less degree in our intercourse with the New Zealanders than with any others "We desire your land for high purposes of our own which you cannot understand. If you will give it us without molesting us, you shall live on it and not be molested. But you must live as we direct you." Such have been the orders given to races who could not be made even to understand them, --and the orders, if not obeyed, have been enforced. Perhaps in no case since Europeans have sought for new homes in distant countries, has so true an attempt been made to treat the old inhabitants with justice as has been done in New Zealand, --and it has been so because New Zealand has been the last discovered; but the result has been the same In other countries, as in Australia, we have simply declared the land to be our own. In New Zealand, we at last declared the land not to be ours, to be the property of the Maoris, --but as a fact, by far the greater portion of the land belongs to us already, and the remainder will soon be ours. Possession of New Zealand was taken by Cook in the name of George III., but the English nation never acted on the claim so made. It is, indeed, still stated in the official records of the Colonial Office, that New Zealand was added to the British Empire by "settlement" in 1814; but such settlement was a settlement only on paper, was followed by no governing action, and, if ever of any avail, was superseded by acts of recognition on the part of Great Britain of the independence of the natives of New Zealand. For seventy-five years after Cook's first visit, we had continual dealings with New Zealand, without any official assumption of political dominion. English traders, not always of the best character, frequented the shores, bringing away the native flax, in return for which they supplied the New Zealanders with firearms; catching seals and whales, marrying New Zealand girls, sometimes domesticated with the people, sometimes governing them, sometimes flying in dread from their awful
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practices, --and sometimes eaten. Missionaries settled among them, sometimes obtaining great influence, --and, again, sometimes eaten. Attempts were made by individuals, subjects of the British Crown, to obtain kingly authority over the people; --and as late as in 1835, an English gentleman, who was styled the British Resident, who had been appointed by British authority, and who died but the other day, endeavoured to establish an independent native government, which was to be in some sort subject to himself. This was Mr. Busby; but nothing came of his New Zealand constitution, -- as nothing had previously come of a former attempt made by that famous New Zealand settler, a Briton with a French name, Baron de Thierry, to make himself king in the country. But these doings show that Great Britain exercised no real authority over the islands while they were in progress. Though the European inhabitants were growing in number, though their influence was becoming great if not supreme, though the work of the missionaries was progressing, --and in speaking of the early days of New Zealand, even so cursorily as I am doing now, it would be wrong to leave the name of Mr. Marsden unmentioned, --though that which we call civilization was extending itself among the Maoris, who were gradually adopting European habits, --yet the British Crown hesitated to found a colony. New Zealanders were brought to England and shown at Court, and elsewhere, --and were, no doubt, the more interesting because they were cannibals. But cannibals they still were, and authorized colonization among them was felt to be difficult. They must either be exterminated or Christianized, -- and probably the too rapid extermination which would go hand in hand with the slower Christianization, might bring more blame than praise upon a philanthropic Secretary of the Colonies.
There can, I think, be no doubt that the difficulty was of this nature. There were two parties, each anxious to do good; --a colonizing party which desired to create a home for Englishmen in a country fitted apparently above others for the purpose by soil and climate, and which sought by its influence and its arguments to force the Colonial Office to give way to their views of colonization; and a missionary party, whose philanthropy was exercised, not on behalf of Englishmen, but for the native inhabitants of the colony. The missionaries were altogether hostile to the colonizing schemes of such men as Lord Durham, Francis Baring, and Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and desired to keep in their own hands any civilizing operations which might be extended from England to New Zealand. Christianity for the heathen, even though it might be hardly more
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than a nominal Christianity, was their object. Land for emigrating Britons, even though it might be bought by the extermination of the heathen, was the object of their opponents. The Colonial Office was for a long time inclined to favour the missionaries rather than the colonists. There was less of political danger on that side. It is asserted that when Lord Normanby, as Colonial Secretary, at last gave orders for asserting the Queen's right to New Zealand, he told, the first governor that the colonization of New Zealand had been deferred as long as possible, because it had been found that the progress of the white men among savages had always led to the extirpation of the native race.
But it was in vain that any Secretary of State should endeavour to stop the tide of those who have been born to people the earth. The advantages to be gained were too great to be hidden out of sight, or withdrawn from the uses of the world. In 1825, a New Zealand company had been formed under the auspices of Lord Durham with the avowed object of buying land from the natives, -- thus recognizing the right of the natives to sell the land. The recognition was of course not a national recognition, nor in any way sanctioned by British authority; --but it showed the tendency of the minds of the leading men who at that time interested themselves in the science of colonizing. Land was bought, but this first company did not effect much. In 1836, renewed attention was drawn to the subject by two Committees of the House of Commons, which were appointed to inquire, one into the condition of the colonial Aborigines generally, and the second as to that vexed question, the manner in which colonial lands should be sold; and in the subsequent year the New Zealand Association was formed, of which Mr. Francis Baring, afterwards Lord Ashburton, was chairman. The Colonial Office was evidently adverse to the Association from the first, --fearing that although its own official responsibility would remain, its privileges and influence in regard to the management of colonization would be taken from it. It refused to give a charter to the Association, on the ground that the Association was not a company bound together for any commercial purpose. It was a political, not a commercial speculation, --and as such, it was at last refused all countenance by the Colonial Office. There can, I think, be but little doubt that there existed a desire on the part of one of the leaders of the New Zealand Association, --and that leader, the man who was most energetic in the matter, --to stultify and conquer the Colonial Minister of the day, and to raise himself on the ruin he might thus make. No one can read
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NEW ZEALAND COMPANY.
Mr. E. G. Wakefield's written words, --either his book on the "Art of Colonization," or his published Letters, --without feeling that such was his purpose.
But Mr. Gibbon Wakefield was joined with men who were both too good and too strong to be put down by any minister. In 1839, out of the ashes of the Association arose the New Zealand Land Company, -- another New Zealand company. Of this Lord Durham was the governor; and among its members were Lord Petre, Francis Baring, Russel Ellice, William Hutt, Sir William Molesworth, John Abel Smith, and others almost as well known. Mr. Wakefield was not a director, --but he was one who often directed directors. It is not probably too much to say that he was the moving spirit of the company, and the parent of the scheme which in truth led to the adoption of New Zealand as a colony by Great Britain. The scheme, however, had by no means that object. As the Colonial Office had thwarted the Association, the Company resolved upon going to work without the Colonial Office, and buying land on their own authority, as though the New Zealand chiefs were altogether independent of the British government. In 1839 their first ship sailed for the islands. I have been told that the day before it sailed Lord John Russell, the Secretary of State of the time, hearing of its intended purpose, declared the illegality of the proceeding, and his intention of making known to these embryo pioneers of New Zealand colonization that they would not be allowed to take up land from the natives without sanction from the Crown. But in the course of that very night the ship weighed anchor in the Downs, and my informant assured me that during the night Gibbon Wakefield himself travelled from London down to Deal, gave the necessary orders, and was back in London on the following morning. The story may probably be inaccurate in its details, --possibly altogether untrue; but it passes as true in New Zealand. At any rate the ship went, and it was known to the Colonial Office that it was the purpose of those on board of her to make purchases of land from the New Zealand chiefs as though the Colonial Office had no voice in the matter.
It was felt that the time had come in which some action must be taken. Great Britain could not with reason forbid her children to settle on the shores of New Zealand in independence of herself, unless she was prepared to form some plan by which they might do so with the usual dependence on her protection. She could not be a dog in the manger to her own children, refusing to take New Zealand herself, and forbidding them to take it because she claimed
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it, though she would not use it. In spite of the horrors of cannibalism, in the teeth of the missionaries, who with true courage but mistaken philanthropy were anxious to endure all the perils of Christianizing these people after some fashion which should not also exterminate them, the Colonial Office did take the matter up when she found that the new company had sent out a shipload of colonists; and on the 15th of June, 1839, New Zealand was proclaimed a part of the colony known as New South Wales, and subject to the government there exercised. On this occasion a step towards real possession was taken. Captain Hobson was appointed as the first lieutenant-governor, --at first indeed with the name of consul, but with powers in his possession to assume the higher functions of governor.
The settlers had been sent out by the New Zealand Land Company, under the guidance of Colonel Wakefield, a brother of Gibbon Wakefield, and they landed in August, 1839, on the southern extremity of the northern island, in Wellington Harbour as it is now called. Captain Hobson in the following January disembarked at the Bay of Islands, which is almost at the northern extremity. Both gentlemen seem to have gone to work earnestly to perform the tasks assigned to them. Before the end of 1839 Colonel Wakefield and his followers had bought land enough for a kingdom, a tract, it is said, as large as Ireland, paying for it in goods. Muskets, gunpowder, ball-cartridge, bullet-moulds and flints, red nightcaps, pocket-handkerchiefs, looking-glasses, jews'-harps, shaving-brushes, and sealing-wax, are all conspicuous in the list of the chattels for which the land was bartered. For a time everything was rosy-coloured, both with the savages and the newcomers; but it appeared before long, --as of course would be the case, --that the New Zealanders had understood but little of the terms of the contract, and that in many cases they who had professed to sell the land, had no commission from their tribes and no title of their own to make the sale.
A few days after the landing Captain Hobson initiated his powers by entering into a treaty with the natives, which was diametrically, though not at the time intentionally, opposed to the transactions of the Company. This was the treaty of Waitangi, which was signed at Waitangi by 46 chiefs, and afterwards by 512 Maoris in all, throughout the two islands. It stipulated, first, --that the united tribes of New Zealand owned the Queen of Great Britain to be their Queen, --secondly, that the Queen of Great Britain owned that the land of New Zealand, for all purposes of private possession,
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NEW ZEALAND A COLONY.
belonged to the native tribes; --and thirdly, that the Queen would protect the tribes. This treaty is still law, and is the basis on which Great Britain really founds its claim to the possession of New Zealand. As far as first principles of truth and justice are concerned, it must probably be acknowledged that they who on the part of New Zealand executed the treaty of Waitangi, knew what they were about no better than their brethren who received bullets and red nightcaps for the land round Wellington Bay. But then, had we as a nation been always scrupulous as to first principles, we should never have colonized any country. Had we done nothing, sent out no first governor of New Zealand, and made no attempt, either by treaty with the natives or by imperial power, to put ourselves in a position to govern the land, three very adverse interests would have torn New Zealand to pieces between them, -- the natives, the missionaries, and the colonists. The natives would have eaten many missionaries and many colonists; but the colonists would finally have extirpated both the natives and the missionaries. And terrible injustice would have been done, without even law to give it a seeming justification. Probably no better step towards civilization could have been taken at the time than the treaty of Waitangi.
The colony was thus founded, and Great Britain as a nation was bound to protect and to keep hold of that which was now her own. The Bay of Islands offered no good site for a town, and Governor Hobson moved down south and placed his seat of government at a place which he called Auckland. Till 1865 Auckland was the capital of New Zealand. It was then removed south, to Wellington, at which place the New Zealand Company had founded its first town, as being central for both the islands. In 1842 New Zealand became a bishopric, and Dr. Selwyn, the first bishop, arrived.
But, as we all know now, the real work of colonizing the country had barely as yet been commenced. Indeed the mode in which it had been commenced, though noticeable as far as the home government was concerned for its intended justice, was, by reason of its very justice, ill-adapted for quick permanent settlement. The one thing which uncivilized races have possessed, and which invading colonists have required, has been land; and it has all but universally been held that the invading nation had a right to take the land as national property, either without price, or at a price to be settled by itself. At Port Phillip Batman was not allowed to purchase land from the Aborigines of the country, because the land was held to belong to the Crown. This assumption on the part of the Crown renders colonization easy. Anything done afterwards for
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the natives is done under the guise of charity. The natives are supposed to possess nothing, and therefore nothing can be taken from them. This has been felt so universally to be the practice of colonizing nations, that even in regard to New Zealand, many years after the treaty of Waitangi, by which it was stipulated that the land should be left in the possession of the natives, a despatch was sent out from the Colonial Office intimating that the native inhabitants of the islands had no right of property in land which they did not occupy. It was abhorrent to the feelings of the Colonial Office generally, --as indeed it is to those of almost every Briton, --that land in which men could live should be allowed to remain waste. But by the treaty of Waitangi it had been acknowledged that the actual ownership of all land in New Zealand was in the hands of the New Zealand tribes. Such being the treaty which had been completed, it was not likely that Colonel Wakefield's companions would be allowed to retain possession of the enormous territories which they had bought for a small ship's cargo of English goods.
Mr. Fox, who, when I reached Wellington in August, 1872, was premier of the colony, endeavours to show, in his history of the war in New Zealand, that the war between the settlers and the Maoris did not owe its origin to quarrels about land. I hardly think that he has succeeded. It is at any rate manifest that the condition which enabled the Maoris to maintain a war was one which arose from the rights which we gave them, and that their disposition to wage a war with us was created by the idea of European weakness which our concessions to them had generated. I do not say that those concessions were wrong. In abstract justice they were no doubt right, --unless wrong in that they did not concede enough. But they paved the way to the war. When government was established on the basis of the treaty, Europeans claimed to have bought something over forty-five millions of acres; but it was necessary to investigate the claims, and to ascertain with some sort of rough justice for how much land some payment, which might be presumed to be adequate, had in truth been made. It was enacted that the title of the purchaser should be made good by crown grants, the crown grants to be given on examination of land claims. The land claims were disallowed, and the grants, or titles, refused, unless the purchase was shown to have been made from tribal authorities entitled to sell, and at adequate prices. The greater portion of the land said to have been bought was restored to the natives, --to the great disgust of the colonial landholders, -- or landsharks, as they were soon afterwards called.
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ORIGIN OF THE WAR.
Mr. Fox explains--and no doubt with some truth--that certain small preliminary wars between the natives and the colonists, --in 1845 and afterwards, --were not immediately produced by any quarrels as to land; but even these -could hardly have occurred had not the natives been taught to think that, great as the Europeans at first appeared to them, that greatness was on the wane. Auckland and Wellington were not the only spots at which Europeans had begun to colonize. Settlements had been formed, and towns had grown up, at Nelson, on the north-western coast of the Southern Island, at New Plymouth, in the province which still keeps the native name of Taranaki on the western coast of the North Island, and at other places, before the days of the great war came; but Otago and Canterbury, the now flourishing provinces of the Southern Island, were not as yet founded. At all these settlements the acquisition of land was the one great object.
The feeling of the natives may be best ascertained from their action. In 1853 a land league was formed among them, originating in Taranaki, where the great war afterwards originated, with the object of preventing any further alienation of their lands by the New Zealanders to the white men. "The money," they said, "which we receive for our land is soon gone, but the land remains with the Europeans for ever"! In this league there was much of the spirit of the "unions" at home, the members of which, not content with binding themselves to certain stipulations, endeavoured to carry out their views by ill-using those of their trade who would not join them. Tribes willing to sell were deterred from selling, and so strong was the league at Taranaki, that not an acre of land could be bought round New Plymouth by the white settlers. Then the natives in the centre of the North Island determined, like the Jews, that they would have a king of their own. It was natural enough that they should not understand the precise extent of the submission which they, or others on their behalf, had made to Queen Victoria. They did understand that Queen Victoria's governors did not govern them in accordance with their own laws, --and also that the laws of the white men did not suit them. They seemed to have acknowledged among themselves that British authority was to prevail in the parts of the country which belonged to the colonists, and on lands which they recognized as having been sold; but they considered themselves justified in appointing a king for themselves, to rule them within the pale of the lands which were still their own. So the king was appointed, -- the title having been adopted as that to which the new-comers
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amongst them had accustomed them, --and a part of the North Island became his kingdom. He was, and still is, but a mock king, for few even of the natives have recognized his power, --but he was strong enough to shut up his country, to keep a body of armed followers whom he called his army, to forbid the formation of roads, to defy the British law, and to keep himself beyond the reach of European contact. And this king still exists, shutting up a portion of the Northern Island, not only against individual enterprise, but also against the Queen's authority.
It is not within the scope of my purpose to write a history of New Zealand. Neither my knowledge of the subject or my space would allow me to do so. It has simply been my intention to endeavour to describe to those who are as ignorant of New Zealand as I was before I visited her shores, the circumstances under which she became a British colony. When speaking of the Northern Island further on I will venture to say something of the Maoris and their wars. To this chapter I will only add a few dates. Captain Grey, now so well known in connection with New Zealand as Sir George Grey, landed in the colony in November, 1845. At that time the governor was aided by a council, but was in fact supreme. The condition of the colony on Captain Grey's arrival was one of warfare with the natives, which warfare continued till peace was proclaimed, on 21st February, 1848. In 1852 gold was first found, in the North Island in the province of Auckland, but was not then worked to any success. It was not till 1860 that gold was found in the Middle Island, and that New Zealand became one of the great gold-fields of the world. In 1846, Sir George Grey being Governor, an Act was passed by the British parliament "to make further provision for the Government of the New Zealand Islands." I need not specify the provisions of the Act. In 1852, still during the reign of Sir George Grey, --his first reign, for, as all know who are interested in New Zealand, Sir George was twice Governor, --another act was passed, with the object of giving a constitution to New Zealand. That constitution, though it has been much amended, still exists, and is certainly not deficient in its enactments for the liberty of the subject. It created a New Zealand parliament, called the General Assembly, consisting of the Governor as king, --a Legislative Council, in which there were at first ten members, the members being nominated by the Crown for life, and of a House of Representatives elected for five years. An electoral qualification was instituted, which still exists, and is about equal in its bearings to household suffrage at home, and of which the lowest
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terms are £10 household in the town, and £5 household in the country. So far, the constitution of New Zealand is similar to that of the Australian colonies; but, in addition to this, the colony was divided into provinces, --at first six provinces, Auckland, Wellington, Taranaki, Nelson, Otago, and Canterbury, --and to each province was given a separate legislature, under a superintendent elected by provincial votes. This scheme was, no doubt, taken from the State legislature of the United States. By the constitution the Maoris were endowed with political rights equal to those of the white men --which rights they still enjoy. Indeed, they have now higher privileges, as four Maoris sit in the House of Representatives as members returned by exclusively Maori constituencies. By these constituencies no white man can be returned, but a Maori can sit for any electoral district in the country.
The constitution came out to New Zealand in 1853, --and the Provincial Council at once went to work. Sir George Grey left New Zealand at the close of that year, and the first General Assembly sat at Auckland in 1854.