1845 - Martin, S. M. New Zealand: in a Series of Letters - Introduction

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  1845 - Martin, S. M. New Zealand: in a Series of Letters - Introduction
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VANITY belongs to nations as well as individuals, and it frequently happens that, in both cases, the grounds for its exercise are as false and absurd as the feeling itself. Manufactures, commerce, and colonization, are, in that respect, the three great national fountains on which Englishmen generally draw. As far as the two first are concerned, there may have been (apart from other considerations) some cause of pride; but certain it is, that no man, who has for any time resided in an English Colony, will ever admit that England is entitled to take to herself any credit because of her treatment and management of the Colonies. The Colonies of England are doubtless extensive, wealthy, and important; but it does not by any means follow, that because they are so, the credit is due to the mother-country, or that the success of the Colonies is in any respect to be attributed to the justice and wisdom of England's Colonial policy. If the truth were known, it would readily be admitted, that England has less to boast of, as regards her Colonies, than any other country in Europe. It may be the case that the Colonies of other

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European countries do not succeed as well as those of England; but it will be found that these other European Colonies fail, despite the efforts of their Governments in their behalf, and that England's Colonies, on the other hand, succeed, despite the neglect, the mismanagement, the injustice, and the oppression of the Home and Colonial Governments.

The French and English Colonies are frequently compared with one another, and, as a matter of course, Englishmen decide, perhaps justly, in favour of their own Colonies. The French are, it must be granted, unhappy in their attempts at founding Colonies; they do not succeed as Colonists; but their want of success must not be preferred as a charge against the French Government, or as any evidence in favour of the superior policy of the English Government. If the success and prosperity of a Colony depended merely upon the support of the Parent Government, the French Colonies should have been in advance of the English, inasmuch as the French expend much larger sums of money upon the establishment of their Colonies, and afford a much greater amount of security to their settlers, and are always more jealous over their interests, than the English. The difference in point of success is to be accounted for by the fact, that the French are not a colonizing people. Living for the present, and for present enjoyment, they are unable to endure the hardships and privations incident to a Colonial life. The social philosophy of a Frenchman teaches him to live for his own happiness, leaving his children to do the same; he has therefore no object in subjecting himself to the many privations and self-denials to which a Colonist must necessarily submit. The Government, under these circum-

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stances, may do for him what they will, but they can never teach him to forego present pleasure for prospective gain. The Englishman, on the other hand, is born a Colonist; he is always feeding on the future, and denying himself the present: he starts in life in the hope of being able to accumulate as much money as may render it prudent for him to marry; and when he is married, and the father of a family, his anxiety is then to provide for his children. It is the same with a Colonist: he is always looking to the future; he buries himself in the heart of the Canadian forest, or roams as a shepherd over the barbarous and arid plains of New Holland, in the expectation of some day reaping a rich harvest from the one, or the golden fleece from the other. His hopes of happiness are prospective; but they are strong enough to enable him to endure present physical, social, and moral suffering.

The success of our Colonies, then, is altogether the effect of the peculiar character of our countrymen, and is not in the slightest degree the result of good government: on the contrary, it will be found that the history of every one of the British Colonies is nothing more or less than a record of the grossest blunders, ignorance, and oppression!

The Colonies of England are now beginning to attract some notice, and a hope may therefore be cherished that the Home Government will be induced to exercise a little more justice towards them than they have hitherto done.

Pauperism is yearly increasing in England: the accumulated mass of misery is becoming too large to be much longer dammed in. An outlet must be made for it somewhere: the Colonies afford the safest, and therefore they now attract some notice. It is well, even on this low ground, to be noticed: some good to the Colonies may result, if

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not from the kindness, at least from the misery, of England.

The position of the British Colonist has hitherto been peculiar and anomalous: he was neither regarded as a British subject, nor altogether as a foreigner; he could neither claim the rights of the one, nor demand the respect which is always due to the other.

How such a system of things as that which prevails in some of the British Colonies could have arisen, it is difficult at the present time to say. The total deprivation of political rights and privileges could only have been submitted to by persons who had forfeited, or been deprived of, their natural rights; and as many of the first Colonies of England were settled either by convicts or slaves, the present parental system of Colonial government has most likely derived its origin from that circumstance. But whatever the origin may have been, it says little for the justice or kindness of the Home Government, that they should to the present time continue a system so monstrously unjust, and so grossly injurious to the Colonists; and much less for the Colonists themselves, in respect of independence and spirit, that they should have so long and so quietly submitted to such wrongs.

The British Colonist is, politically speaking, a serf, or rather a slave; for the feudal system, however barbarous it may have been, was in many respects preferable to the system of Colonial government. It is true that the serf worked for his feudal lord, but his labour and attachment were rewarded by a certain amount of kindness and protection which the Colonist has never yet experienced at the hands of his self-constituted masters: he is the slave in the hands of the overseer. To persons in England, especially if they

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are unacquainted with Colonial matters, it may appear strange that a Colonist should be spoken of in this manner. They cannot understand how persons whom they have been accustomed to regard as enterprising and independent can be represented in this unhappy light. But it is nevertheless true, as every man finds to his cost when he arrives in a new Colony. An Englishman cannot sell his birthright, but he may be deprived of the best part of it by his Government. He will be looked after, claimed and taxed as a British subject wherever he may be found; but if he should determine on leaving the United Kingdom for any of the British Possessions abroad, let him not deceive himself by imagining that he will carry with him any of his political rights to the Colony to which he may emigrate. A slave becomes a freeman if he be fortunate enough to touch English ground; but an Englishman, if he settle in an English Colony, becomes politically a slave. The Government of England is called a mixed Government; the power is equally divided between the monarch, the barons, and the people. Of these three estates, the monarchy alone is extended to the Colonies; it is usually vested in a Viceroy, or Governor, in whose hands it generally degenerates into the purest and most absolute despotism.

In some of the Colonies, an attempt has been made to conceal from the people the total destitution of political rights by setting up a semblance or counterfeit of the institutions of the parent country. The North American Colonies, and New South Wales, of late, are mocked with the name of being possessed of a species of Representative Government, in the shape of Legislative Assemblies, to which the people are permitted to elect a certain number of persons as their representatives. But even if all the members

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of such assemblies were really elected by the people, they will still be found to be powerless for any good, inasmuch as the representative of Majesty, by being required to sanction their acts before they can become law, has thereby, at all times, the means of controlling and suspending their operations; and even when the Governor may happen to approve of their measures, they must still be submitted to the magnates of the Colonial Office before they are finally confirmed. New Zealand and several other Colonies are not deemed worthy to possess even such an approach to a Constitutional Government as the above. The Governor of such a Colony as New Zealand is in reality clothed with more power, in proportion to the inhabitants and territory, than any of the crowned despots of Europe. That power, when exercised by a wise and a just man, may doubtless tend occasionally to promote the prosperity of the Colony: but if it should happen otherwise, as it is sure to do in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the amount of mischief and misery is inconceivable to any person who has not been unfortunate enough to reside in a Colony.

In England, the vice or extravagance of the rulers is at all times more or less subject to the control of the people. A threat to stop the supplies is on all occasions a very potent check. But the unfortunate Colonist can have no recourse to anything of that kind, even in the hour of extremity. He is taxed like every other British subject; but he has neither the satisfaction of taxing himself, nor of exercising the slightest control over the expenditure of the money raised from the fruits of his own industry.

As in the case of New Zealand, an extravagant and expensive Government is established without his consent or approbation. Offices are created for the purpose of being

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filled by the friends or favourites of the party in power at home, with a total disregard of the wants and requirements of the Colonists, or the fitness of the parties so appointed.

New Zealand, although one of the youngest of the Colonies of England, will perhaps afford one of the very best illustrations of the present system of Colonial government, the lamentable consequences arising therefrom, and the necessity of a complete change, if we desire either to save the Colonists from ruin, or the Home Government from expense.

The English people of late complain, and justly, of the expense, if not uselessness, of the Colonies to England; but before they entertain any hostile feelings towards the Colonists, or even attach any blame to them, they ought to inform themselves well as to the merits of the case. It cannot and will not be denied, even by a Colonist, that the Colonies are a great expense to the mother-country. Some of them will perhaps even go as far as the most radical members of the Anti-Corn Law League itself, and acknowledge that England would be better off without any of her Colonies; they may even assert that the Colonies themselves would be benefited if the connexion were to cease. With the exception of the annual bribe to Canada, to keep her from rebellion, there is scarcely another Colony which is in the slightest degree benefited by the expenditure of English money. Mere military stations, such as Gibraltar, or convict settlements, like Van Diemen's Land, must not be regarded in the light of Colonies; they are kept up by the Home Government either on account of imaginary or real advantages; and it is not fair to tax the free Colonies with the expense incurred on account of the vanity or the crime of England.

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Whatever her Colonies may cost England, it must not for one moment be supposed that that money is expended for their benefit, or that the Colonies would not prosper as well and better under a different system. But so long as patronage is necessary to power, so long will the people of England be made to pay for the Colonies, and so long will the Colonies themselves be misgoverned, and the interests of the Colonists neglected. If the people of England complain because they are made to contribute such large sums of money towards the maintenance of the Colonial Possessions of England, and if they desire to get rid of that expense, let them assist the Colonists in obtaining an improved and a rational system of government. The Colonies are useful, and highly useful, to the people of England, as an outlet for their manufactures. The people of England ought, therefore, to assist the Colonies in obtaining justice. The Colonies are also useful to the Government of England, under the present system, because they assist the party in power in obtaining and keeping place. This Colonial patronage has no small effect in deciding the contest at the English elections; and so long as the Colonies can be thus made serviceable to the Government, so long will the Government continue their present scheme of Colonial policy, however expensive it may be to the people of England, or injurious to the interests of the Colonists.

From the peculiar and un-English position of the inhabitants of our Colonies, they are left completely at the mercy of their rulers. Wrongs may be perpetrated at home, and grievances may be sustained; but the injured party has an opportunity, through some one of the people, of making known his complaint, if not of obtaining redress.

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The Colonist, on the other hand, is shut out from every door of hope. To the Imperial Parliament he has no access, because, though a British subject, he has no representative in the one house, and no friend in the other. A Colonist is said to be a British subject, but he is neither a peer nor a commoner. Like the Catholics of Ireland in former times, he is deprived of a local legislature, and his condition precludes him from any interest in the Government of the United Country; and, like the Catholics of Ireland, he need never expect emancipation, or a redress of political and civil grievances, unless he threaten a repeal of the Union, or openly rebel, like Canada.

The distance of the Colonies from the mother-country, and the difficulty of obtaining accurate information regarding their condition, may be urged as excuses for much of the misgovernment of the Colonies; but they may, with greater propriety, be urged as reasons for a change of system. If the Colonies of England be so numerous and so far distant, that it is impossible, under the present system, to govern them aright, it is surely reasonable that the Colonists should expect and demand a change--such a change, in fact, as would give the people in the Colonies somewhat of that overruling power and control over the government of the respective Colonies, which is now so absurdly placed in the hands of one man at home, and which is, generally speaking, so impotently and uselessly, if not mischievously exercised. To expect that one man, in the shape of Secretary for the Colonies, (be his talents, industry, and integrity what they may,) can manage aright the varied interests of the millions who reside in our Colonies, is an absurdity which the passiveness of the Colonists alone

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could have permitted the Home Government so long to act upon. It is, however, to be hoped that the now more intimate acquaintance of the people at home with Colonial affairs will have the effect of establishing a state of things better calculated to promote the interests of the Colonies, as well as to save the mother-country from the enormous expense at present entailed upon her through the misgovernment of the Colonies.

In order to show clearly that it is both the interest of the people at home as well as in the Colonies to obtain a better system of Colonial government, it may be well, under their proper heads, to put down the expenditure of a British Colony for one year. New Zealand will serve as a good illustration.

The European population of New Zealand, amounting to not more than 12,000, was governed by Captain William Hobson and Mr. Willoughby Shortland, in the year 1842, at an expense of £73,018 13s. 3 3/4d., or about £6 per head. The manner in which that money has been raised and spent will at once show what interest the Colonists have in maintaining such an extravagant Government. The money required for meeting that expenditure was in part taken from the people of the Colony, and partly from their friends in the mother-country: under these two heads it may therefore be conveniently and properly stated, thus:


Ordinary revenue, taxes, duties, &c. -

£18,864 8 2

Sales of Crown Lands made in the Colony,

10,832 8 9 1/2

Sales of old stores, cattle, horses, &c.

2,351 7 8

Balance on 1st January, 1842, -

4,375 14 9 3/4

£40,423 19 5 1/4

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Treasury Bills, -------

£13,494 7 8

Advances made by New South Wales, and paid for by England ---

9,179 2 4

Balance of stores from New South Wales, paid for in similar manner -

4,312 15 6 1/2

Advances in England, on account of emigration,

5,608 8 4

£32,594 13 10 1/2

These are large sums to be advanced for a small Colonial Government, but the manner in which the money has been expended will show what benefits have been conferred by that expenditure on each of the parties contributing it. The Colonists have contributed the largest amount, and, under all circumstances, may be supposed to have received the greatest benefit. The advantages to them have been so small, however, that it cannot even for a moment be supposed that they would give their consent to such extravagance if they had it in their power to check it. The Colonists contributed upwards of £40,000. The heads of expenditure may be called three: the People, the Governor, and the Government Officers.


Excavating and levelling a street in Auckland,

£305 15 11

" " " " " " " " "

31 10 0

Repairing a road, ---

22 10 10

Making a trench, ---

48 12 0

Draining a swamp, ---

69 12 0

Salaries and rations to Messrs. Hailes and Figg, while On the roads, ---

50 16 10

£528 18 1

This is all that has really been spent for the benefit of the Colony; and even that small sum would not have been expended, but for the fact that Mr. Shortland was obliged to employ some immigrants for several weeks after their

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arrival; and, as it is, the money has been very injudiciously laid out. By means of the excavations of the streets, private individuals have been made to sustain a large amount of damage. Certain levels were given to them by the surveyors when they purchased their allotments; their houses were built according to these levels. Mr. Shortland's improvements have so changed the streets, that the houses of some of these parties are now ten or eleven feet below the new levels, and those of others equally high above them.


Salary, &c. -------

£1,315 15 0

Private Secretary, &c. ------

218 16 6

Expenses of Government brig or Governor's yacht, for one year, -------

2,079 17 7

Expenses of his Excellency and some friends onboard yacht or Government brig, -

174 15 10

Harbour-master, or person to look after yacht while at Auckland, ------

1,115 16 7

Governor's medical attendant, -----

475 4 O 1/2

Governor's chaplain, ------

238 2 6

Governor's tutor, -------

15 0 0

Governor's chapel, ------

500 0 0

Reporting and printing Governor's speeches and proclamations, ---

928 1 6

Purchase of press and types for printing the same, -

1,425 0 0

Expenses attending Legislative Council for misgoven ing Colony, ----

591 18 5

Repairing Governor's house, kitchen, laundry, &c.; cultivating kitchen-garden, making private walks, and fencing that part of Mr. Shortland's allotments next to the domain, -

9,908 18 2

Expenses of Mr. Cooper to Sydney, while negotiating a loan from Mr. Boyd, at 15 per cent.

75 18 0

Governor's orderlies, or mounted police,

357 0 2

Hire of boat for Governor at Kaipara, -

3 0 0

Governor's coffin and funeral expenses, ---

50 0 0

18,663 14 3 1/2

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The above monstrous establishment scarcely requires any remarks; it speaks volumes for itself. Perhaps it may be said that the charges of Chaplain and Tutor ought not to appear in the establishment of the Governor. But as nothing else is expended on account of education or religion in the Colony, it would be mockery to charge them against the people. They are at all events inconsiderable items, and are only worthy of notice, as showing how much has been done by the New Zealand Government for the education and moral improvement of the people: £15 for schools, and £9,000 for repairing the Governor's house and kitchen, look well side by side. If the expenses of the Governor and his establishments be thus infamous, those of the Officers of Government and their establishments are still more so: --


Colonial Secretary and clerks, &c. -

£2,267 2 7 1/2

" " Treasurer, ----

1,479 18 5

Expenses of auditing accounts, ---

533 0 2

Officers of Customs, ----

3,490 17 1

Court of Inquisition, or Commissioners of Land Claims.

3,298 9 2

Registrar of Deeds, --

344 14 8

Post-office, -----

759 5 10

Colonial Store,

623 5 8

Chief Justice and Law Officers...

3,788 0 4 1/2

Police Magistrates and Constables,

4,688 5 2

Money paid to natives for land, -

2,231 8 2

Protectors of Aborigines, --

1,550 3 11 1/2

Surveyors, ----

8,134 10 2 1/2

Passage of useless emigrants from England,

7,411 9 9 1/2

Cash to Haile and Brydon, -

10 0 0

Binding and printing deeds, ---

20 5 0

Advance to Officers on account of Public Service, -

4,267 0 0

Do. do. on account of Salary,

83 3 4

Carried over -

£44,980 19 7 1/2

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Brought forward,

£44,980 19 7 1/2

Rent of temporary offices, -

75 0 0

Furniture for some Government offices,

43 16 0

Gifts to natives, ---

0 16 0

Arrears of previous year, and expenses defrayed by Colonial Agent-General in England,

1,916 16 8

Balance on 31st, December, 1840, -

6,808 11 11 3/4

£53,826 0 31/4

It must appear really wonderful to persons unacquainted with the state of New Zealand, how Mr. Shortland could have contrived to spend upon himself and his colleagues upwards of £70,000, and avoid not laying out more than £500 for the benefit of the Colony. The system of Colonial Government pursued by Great Britain will alone account for such an unnatural state of things as that of a whole Colony being left to the mercy of one individual, who has the power of exacting from them all he can in the shape of taxes, and spending it as he likes, without the slightest regard to their wishes or interests. People very likely imagine that the Colonists of New Zealand are quite delighted at the idea of so much English money being spent in that Colony; but if they take into account the manner in which that money has been spent, and the amount that is raised from the Colonists themselves, independent of that received from the Home Government, they will at once believe that the Colonists would willingly give up the aid from home, on condition of obtaining a proper control over the revenue and the expenditure of the Government of the Colony. Until they do so, they will never become heartily reconciled to or well disposed towards any Government established in the Colony. The Colonists do not want the money of the people of England while, as in New Zealand, it is merely an engine of op-

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pression. For however extravagant the expenditure of Government during the misrule of Captain Hobson and Mr. Shortland, it is still nothing compared to the amount of private property which has been sacrificed through the rapacity, ignorance, and oppression of these persons.

While the Colonists are made to contribute so largely, and receive such a small benefit as the expenditure of about £500 on public improvements, it cannot be shown that the people of England obtain any direct advantage from the £30,000 which they have spent in one year upon the Government Officers of New Zealand. It is true that New Zealand confers a benefit upon England by its very large consumption of English manufactures and English goods; but not a shilling of the £30,000 has been devoted to the purpose of extending trade and commerce, or facilitating intercourse with unknown parts of the country. On the contrary, it has had a most powerful effect in destroying the commerce of the Colony, by maintaining and perpetuating a most oppressive and unjust Government, under which no person could thrive or prosper.

Let the people of England, then, unite with the Colonists of New Zealand, and every other British Possession, in obtaining a just Government, and they will, by so doing, render them services infinitely greater than if they were to double the amount of their present contributions to the Colonial taskmasters. The Colonists require nothing at the hands of the people of England but the permission to manage their own affairs. Let them be acknowledged as men and full-grown British subjects, and they are satisfied.

To expect justice from the Colonial Office, under whatever auspices it may be managed, is utterly hopeless; for

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it will be found, as a general principle, that by how much the servants of that department injure and misgovern the Colonies entrusted to them, by so much will they recommend themselves to the Colonial Office. New Zealand affords a notable example of the truth of this statement. Mr. Shortland, the ex-Secretary of New Zealand, the acknowledged plague-spot of that Colony--he whose demerits and incapacity have been acknowledged and published before the country, in the speeches even of Sir Robert Peel, Sir James Graham, and Mr. Hope, during the late debate on New Zealand affairs--he who has ruined New Zealand, and caused a loss of hundreds of thousands to this country, has been rewarded for these services with the government of another British Colony. Mr. Shortland ruined New Zealand; he has therefore been appointed Governor of Nevis. If he have any other qualification for that office, it is known to Lord Stanley alone. During the four years that he blighted and blasted New Zealand, it was never discovered that he had any. Captain FitzRoy, on the other hand, who, it must be acknowledged even by his enemies, had the most intense desire to benefit the Colony, and who, in spite of what may be asserted to the contrary, did most materially benefit New Zealand, has been dismissed without an assigned reason. The Colonists and the public do not even yet know why the Colonial Minister has dismissed Captain FitzRoy. They may suppose it was because he had not the philosopher's stone, and could not consequently manufacture sufficient gold instead of debentures to pay his officers, or because he did not, as Lord Stanley expected, give prima facie titles to the New Zealand Company for lands proved still to be the property of the aborigines. Perhaps he was expected, as Sir

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Robert Peel proposes, to register the lands of the natives, and to impose an annual tax, with the view of confiscating them and adding to the demesnes of the Crown. By attending to these instructions, he might doubtless have kept his appointment, even although he should, by so doing, be the means of plunging the Colony in a war of extermination with the aborigines--which must unquestionably result from the attempt to enforce the two last. The Government may tax and confiscate the lands of the natives; but they must, before so doing, exterminate them in the first place; and it remains to be seen--apart from the sin, inhumanity, and barbarism of the deed---whether New Zealand is really worth the amount of money and life which must be expended on that monstrous and cruel scheme.

If our Government be wise, they will be satisfied with New Zealand as it is; and, instead of trafficking in the sale of land, they will simply maintain a Government in that country as a matter of police, and with the view of protecting both races, and preserving the peace. If they attempt anything more, they will sadly rue the day they ever heard of New Zealand. Already the blood of the aborigines has been shed in deadly conflict with that of our countrymen, through an infamous and unjust attempt to occupy their unsold lands. Our Government has been sufficiently warned of the effects of rude interference with the rights of the natives by the sad fate of our countrymen at Wairoa; but similar and even worse results will attend the new schemes, if carried into effect.

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