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The Policy of the Future.
SUPPOSING it to be evident that the Queen's sovereignty, secured by the treaty of Waitangi, and heretofore in various ways acknowledged by persons and tribes now in arms against it, must be vindicated by force; and that, too, in such a way as to shew the Maori people the utter folly and hopelessness of any further or future contest; still it would seem wise that a definite policy, consistent with previously announced principles and with the treaty of Waitangi, should be steadily adhered to, and that no misconduct of the Native population in the course of the rebellion should (after necessary acts of punishment for the sake of example) be used as a justification for departing, at its conclusion, from the general principles professed by the Representatives of the British Crown, before, at, and since the establishment of the Colony.
It is most devoutly to be hoped that whatever excuses, or inducements, or justifications may be afforded by the Maoris for treating the rebellion as a war of races, the Government will at an early period be provided with a British force of sufficient strength to bring it to a speedy and effective conclusion, so as to make any future rebellion all but impossible, instead of being left in such a position that the present conflict will degenerate into a long, chronic, wasting, ruinous war of extermination, deplorable alike in a moral and economical point of view. But whether peace is to be established sooner or later on a safe and permanent basis, it would seem that, so long as aboriginal subjects of the Crown remain in the Colony, the same general principles ought still to be applied to them by a government as conscious of its ultimate power as it ought to be jealous of its honour and scrupulous in fulfilling the engagements of the British Crown in a large and liberal spirit. And, indeed, the present discontents and troubles may be well turned to good account by such a government, inasmuch as a candid and intelligent enquiry into the causes of discontent may enable it to discover, along with much which justice requires to be put down with the strong hand, some causes of discomfort and distrust which are in some measure real grievances, and at variance
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with the professed principles of the British policy.
It is one thing to acknowledge mistakes of omission or commission, contrary to principle, which have been overlooked, and find remedies for them --another, to make concessions contrary to principle merely for purposes of conciliation.
Demonstrations of strength will not lose any of their value from being accompanied by demonstrations of justice.
The writer does not possess either general or local knowledge or experience which would justify him in making specific practical suggestions with any confidence, but there are certain general outlines of a policy for the future, after the re-establishment throughout the Colony of peace, order, and allegiance to the Queen, which, it seems to him, might well be adopted and declared even while rebellion still exists; and for the ultimate establishment and development of which, during the whole period necessary for the fusion of the two races, preparations might even now be made.
The following crude suggestions are offered with extreme diffidence, and merely as hints, not as deliberate conclusions worthy of specific adoption:--
In the first place, education in the English language ought to be made an exclusive test, in a given number of years; so that, in another generation, no Maori not educated in the English tongue should be allowed to fill any of the offices hereinafter mentioned. But with the present generation such English education should not be made a sine qua non.
While Maori customs and habits (not being contrary to humanity and justice) must still be referred to for the purposes of administering justice among the Maoris, a Maori element should be provided for in all tribunals to which they may come for justice; and, in criminal cases where Maories are accused, there should be a Maori assessor to the magistrate in summary cases, and a proportion of Maori jurymen in trials by jury. The assessors should be chosen by the Government out of a list furnished by the tribes of the district; and the Maori jurymen for each province should be furnished from a list of persons elected in certain proportions by the different tribes and hapus resident in the province: the numbers to be decided according to circumstances.
For the preservation of the peace, information as to offences, and execution of process, a Maori peace officer should be appointed for each tribe or hapu by the Government, out of lists furnished by the tribe or hapu.
For the purposes of the purchase of land by the agents of the Crown, there should be a Board or Jury of Natives in each dis-
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trict composed of a certain number of members selected by lot from a list of persons elected by the different tribes of the district, to be presided over by some European officer other than the Crown purchase agent. The duty of the president should be merely to propound the questions for the decision of the Jury, and to record such decision, and to administer oaths to witnesses; and the jury should in all cases of dispute, either as to the title, or the proportion of compensation to be paid to individuals, decide conclusively as to the persons interested, and the proportion of purchase money which they ought each to receive. It would be wise to encourage the Natives in every legitimate way to take Crown titles for their lands, by making such tenure of lands a necessary qualification for offices which would be sought after, or otherwise.
The Governor ought to have the assistance of a Council for Maori affairs, including a European minister, a few Europeans with a special knowledge of Maori matters, and a certain number of leading Maori Chiefs from different parts of the country. The number of Maori members would depend upon local and tribal considerations. To have them elected for the express purpose by the bodies of the tribes throughout New Zealand might entail great inconvenience, but they might be selected by the Governor out of persons named in the lists prepared by tribes or districts of candidates for assessorship, or some such superior office, so as to guarantee their being persons confided in by their own people.
In all selections by the Government of individuals from such lists, preference should be given to persons of the highest birth, or holding the highest position in their tribes; and, caeteris paribus, a preference should be given to, persons acquainted with the English language.
It would be most inconvenient to hold out to the Natives any prospect of their being eligible as common legislators for the Colony, or to fill the offices of Government, till they had perfectly acquired the English language; and the acquisition of the language ought always to be held out to them as the means of introduction to new civil advantages.
The persons appointed to different offices, --peace-officers, assessors, land-jury, council, --should all receive some small remuneration, and even ordinary jurymen ought probably to have some small allowance for their expenses. In Government Schools, a monitorial system might be adopted, some little pecuniary reward being granted for the monitorial services of advanced pupils; and assistant masterships might be held out in prospect as higher rewards. Small lending
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libraries might also be established. Through the Native boards, assessors, and officers, practical suggestions should be given to tribes for the improvement of their cultivations, but more especially for the improvement of their dwellings, for ventilation and drainage, conducive to their health and comfort, and thus for the gradual amelioration of their personal condition and habits, and the increase of rational self-respect. To provide the chosen officer or officers of a tribe or subdivision, with an inexpensive model cottage--such as might easily be imitated--would also seem a step in the right direction.
Such are some of the more obvious provisions which might be made to carry out a policy agreeable to a priori doctrine, to the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi, and to the professed principles upon which a British Colony was established in these Islands.
It is assumed that the Legislature, in the wise and just control of the public funds, --especially having regard to the large revenues yielded to the general funds on account of the difference between the price paid by the Crown to the Maoris for their land and the price for which the Crown subsequently sells that land-- besides the large contributions of the Maoris to the Customs-- will always be prepared to appropriate a fair share of the whole Revenues of the Colony to Maori purposes--for the improvement and civilization of the race, and for promoting the ultimate fusion of the two races.
The Constitution granted to the Colony for its own self-government, derived as it is through the cession of sovereignty by the Treaty of Waitangi, must always be taken to be subject to the general implied duties of the British Sovereign towards the parties who become British subjects on the faith of that Treaty.
In conclusion, it may be asserted with undoubting confidence that the Government and the Legislature will be sure to discover that perseverance in a liberal and just policy towards the Aboriginal Inhabitants will best and most effectually secure, even to the Colonists of European race, the true objects of all Government and Legislation; --and if, unhappily, the rebellion which has broken out should become general, and implicate all the tribes of New Zealand, so that the Government, on suppressing it, should be in a position to dictate, the terms of the future relations between itself and the Maoris, --there seems no substantial reason why--after such punishment as might be necessary for the sake of example--it should not still adhere to the principles and practice of the same just and humane policy which has been above indicated.