1847 - Selwyn, G. England and the New Zealanders, Part I - Addenda, p 73-81

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  1847 - Selwyn, G. England and the New Zealanders, Part I - Addenda, p 73-81
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Extract from a letter, dated 22nd. October, 1847, from Mr. Hobbs, Wesleyan Missionary at Hokianga, to the Chief Justice of New Zealand.

"When Captain Hobson had obtained as many signatures as he could at Waitangi, he came overland to Hokianga for the same purpose. We were honoured by his Excellency's presence at our Mission Station, and I became his interpreter. Great excitement had for some time existed in consequence of the prevalence of reports, that the Queen had sent her officers to take this country as they had done New Holland, and that the chiefs would thereby lose both their dignity and their country.

"Captain Hobson's object was announced to a large meeting, composed of the principal natives and most of the Europeans resident in the District. Many speeches were made, and questions proposed by the natives, and I interpreted His Excellency's most solemn assurance that, if they signed the treaty, truth and justice would always characterize the proceedings of the Queen's Government. Considerable opposition was offered by several influential natives, lest the land should be taken from them, and repeated assurances were given by His Excellency that the Queen did not want the land, but merely

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the sovereignty, that she, by her officers, might be able more effectually to govern her subjects who had already settled here, or might hereafter arrive, and punish those of them who might be guilty of crime. That, if the Queen wanted land, she would purchase it of them, and that it should never be forcibly taken from them. After many reiterations of such pledges as these, (for the negotiation was unremitted from breakfast time till nearly six in the evening) one of the principal Christian chiefs turned to me and my colleagues, and asked, "what is your opinion as to our signing the document? will it be for our good?" We replied that we thought it would."


A Letter from Mr. Maunsell, of the Church Missionary Society, to Governor Grey.

Waikato Heads, October 18th. 1847.

Sir,--That a Clergyman should have but little to do with politics, is a remark of which I fully admit the propriety. Still, when principles opposed to religion or justice are advanced--or when there is growing through the community a dangerous feeling of which others cannot obtain as accurate knowledge, he would, I consider, be unfaithful to his country and cause, if he were to decline expressing his sentiments, or giving a warning. It is for these two reasons that I venture thus to trespass upon your attention.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware of the prominent part that the Missionary body took, on the arrival of Captain Hobson, in inducing the Aborigines to acknowledge the Sovereign power of the Queen. For those efforts we received public acknowledgements from Captain Hobson and his Officers.

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Since then, it will, I trust be admitted that we have been the firm advocates of British rule, and the watchful promoters of peace. We have not, I trust, deserted the interests of our people, but in maintaining those interests, we have ever (and to a larger extent than is generally known), urged them to the duty of obedience.

The late Despatches, from Earl Grey, with the Instructions accompanying them, will, if acted upon, compel us, I fear, to assume, at least in appearance, a somewhat different position in future. Reports and surmises are now spreading through the country--Every visitor to Auckland brings back a confirmation,--and the question is then put to us, "is it true?"

To such a question, I find it difficult to answer. Silence is interpreted into assent. To answer in the negative I cannot. These Instructions and the Despatch are, we see, the carrying out of the resolutions and report presented by the Select Commitee of the House of Commons, July, 1844, (of which also, Earl Grey was I believe the chief author;) and they all indicate an uniform, preconcerted plan, a plan which, though rejected by the then Colonial Secretary, is now revived with authority, and furnished with machinery for being carried into operation;

In these documents we see indeed the maintenance of the Waitangi Treaty ostentatiously put forward; but we detect throughout the whole, what far counterbalances such averments. Not only do we miss the kind spirit of paternal interest that was evinced by the former Colonial Secretaries towards the aborigines; but we see also a strong inclination to censure that treaty; and, if not a plain repudiation, at least a plain attempt to evade its force.

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This being the case, we find our position most perplexing. Our people have heard us repeatedly affirm the high honour and justice of our government, and the interest it has always taken in the protecting and fostering aboriginal races. They now ask us,-- "Why is the Treaty of Waitangi thus virtually broken? why for the sake of a few useless spots, that could have been purchased for a comparative trifle, is a train laid for involving the whole country in a flame?"

If it were merely the honour and interest of the British government that were concerned in the question, we might fairly decline engaging in such discussions. But unfortunately we are too deeply involved to be allowed to be silent. "For you," say they, "urged us to acknowledge the sovereign power of the Queen. We did so on your assurances that our lands should not be touched. It appears now that the Queen is dissatisfied with that agreement, and is preparing to take our lands by force. Thus have we been deceived by you, into feeding the child, until he becomes a man, and strangles us."

This, Sir, is the only point in which I have been as yet accused, (and that by some of the leading men of the district,) with having betrayed their interests.-- How to answer, I know not. It is not very gratifying to one's feelings to have to fasten a charge of breach of faith upon one's country--a country also confessedly the most noble spirited that has yet been recorded in the pages of history. Neither, on the other hand, would it appear wise to bear such assertions without offering an explanation. For we cannot but feel that our influence as religious teachers, as well as our very residence among them is most intimately connected with the confidence they repose in us as their friends and advisers.

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The only course that some of our body have seen out of the difficulty is, to leave the country as soon as you begin to act upon those instructions; and others will, I hope, remain; but if they do remain, they will have no other alternative left than to set the whole matter fairly before their people; to shew that we never contemplated such measures on the part of our government, when we induced them to sign the treaty, and that though we were guilty of a mistake, we were not at least guilty of an attempt at deception.

I trust Sir, that I may never see the day in which Englishmen will forget that national honour is an essential part of national dignity. The greater the power, the more striking will be an act of meanness. From the day on which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, the conduct of the New Zealanders toward the British has been marked by a spirit of chivalry, of friendship, and of good faith. They have cheerfully ceded the rights of sovereignty, and pre-emption; and for a very small compensation have willingly endured fatigue, and faced death against their own relatives, in defence of that authority thus ceded.

What, I would ask, has been given by the British Government to them in return? It surely cannot be considered an equivalent that a powerful nation, that has already subdued and destroyed so many aboriginal tribes, has settled on their shores. It has been by all parties admitted that this colony has not been founded by force, but by compact. A compact implies advantages given as well as received, What has been received by the British government is visible to all; what has been given to the New Zealander it is difficult to discover. Former Colonial Secretaries did indeed give something. They gave us approbatory sentences and kind recommendations. These were encouraging: we took the will for the deed, and

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were thankful. Earl Grey seems only to regard this people as being not far from the lowest in the scale of human existence, and unworthy of the little they now retain.

His Lordship will, I hope, recollect that if the civilized man has claims, he has also duties; and that to those beneath us in the degree of advancement, we should shew our eminence, not merely in skill and power, but in the more exalted qualities of benevolence and truth.

The bill lately brought forward by your Excellency for the Education of the Aborigines, I regard as the only practical acknowledgement as yet made by the government, of the value of those influences, by means of which it has so peacefully established itself in this island. Whether that bill will be permanent and successful in its operation, experience alone can decide. Still, considering the opinion which is now taking hold of the native mind, that the English nation delights in usurpation and war, I cannot but hail such a measure as most beneficial. If it be effectual, it will be a boon to the country; and a boon that I am sure, you will regard as much an offering to justice, as to philanthropy.

It will perhaps be urged that the aborigines have received the privileges of British subjects. What those privileges are, I have yet to learn. They contribute upwards of £10,000 per annum to the revenue of the colony, while they have no one in the Legislative Council to represent their interest, or to raise his voice in their name against an act of injustice.

Controul over the sale of their lands they must, it seems, be considered to have entirely surrendered. The British government not only firmly grasps all thus ceded: but now demands more. Waste, Unclaimed, Unoccupied, are, in the vocabulary of Earl Grey, all one and the same in meaning. Those mystic words, Sovereignty and Pre-emption, are then

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called into requisition; and made to serve the same purposes as did the ox hide in hands of a proto-colonist of former times. They are to be stretched into such convenient lengths, as to enclose just as much as the more powerful and more crafty are pleased to determine.

England has her unoccupied territories: and no doubt Earl Grey has his unsubdued lands ranged over by nothing else than the deer and the pheasant.

So has also the New Zealander his bird preserves, his 'runs' (the grand sources of supply to our colonial markets,) his useful timbers, his valuable plants, his fisheries, and localities sacred in his regards as having been the abode of his forefathers, the scenes of their triumphs, or the resting place of their bones.

Why then does the statesman of such a wealthy nation seek to confiscate these the guaranteed possessions of our friends and allies? Why does he not ponder before he advances arguments so palpably weak? before he proceeds to trample upon the acknowledged rights of a people that commands the admiration of our Captains, --of a people most deeply interesting to the thoughts of the philanthropist? --before he thus exposes to the contempt and ridicule of their own converts, his fellow subjects, who risked their lives in the benevolent mission of the grand Christian bodies of the mother country, who risked their influence and success in obtaining for their Sovereign the bloodless cession of the most promising Islands in these seas?

A reference to Captain Hobson's communications will show that I took a large share in these proceedings. I think, therefore, I have a right among others, to be heard in this announcement of these new measures. Captain Hobson recorded my letter to him of April 14th. 1840, in which I expressed

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my sense of the responsibility I had incurred, and strong confidence in the honour of the British government, (which letter I take the liberty to forward for your inspection.) I trust I am not asking too much if I beg your Excellency to forward this my protest against those instructions and that despatch so that if my country will be unjust, I may at least enjoy the gratification of having made it known that it was not for such a purpose that I consented to become her instrument.

I remain, &c,
[Signed] R. Maunsell.
To His Excellency, Governor Grey,
&c, &c.

Extract from a letter to the Colonial Secretary. Referred to in the foregoing.)

April 14th. 1840.

"In forwarding the accompanying document, I would beg to observe, in reference to ourselves, that cordially as we desire to co-operate with Governor Hobson in all measures consistent with our principles, we cannot but state, that we feel strongly the responsibility incurred in the eyes of the natives, by the steps we are now adopting.

"I would beg therefore with all deference to add, that having put ourselves thus prominently forward in obtaining an acknowledgement of the Sovereign power of the Queen, on the part of the natives, so we trust, that that acknowledgement will never be made, even apparently, the basis of any measure that may hereafter result in their prejudice.

"The steps we have taken have been taken in full depen-

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dence on the well known lenity and honour of the British government, and we rest assured, that we shall never hereafter find ourselves to have been in these particulars mistaken."

[Signed] R. Maunsell.

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