1877 - Wakelin, R. History and Politics - [Chapters I-VIII], p 1-31

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1877 - Wakelin, R. History and Politics - [Chapters I-VIII], p 1-31
Previous section | Next section      

[Pages 1-31]

[Image of page 1]



A writer of a "history of his own times" has a difficult task to perform. He can scarcely take a step without treading on somebody's toes. Besides there are so many stand-points from which contemporary events can be viewed that no two versions of them will be found to agree in every particular. In the following pages I do not pretend to do more than relate, in homely language, the impressions certain public events, and certain public acts of public men, made on my own mind. I have not attempted to write a history, but only to furnish a portion of the raw material out of which at some future day a history may be woven. I had not made much progress in the execution of my self-imposed task before I discovered that I should either have to suppress facts, which in the interests of justice and of truth ought to be recorded, or give unintentional pain to many persons whose feelings, if possible ought to be spared. On that ground, alone I should have withheld, at least for a time, the present publication, but for the following considerations:--

(1). Having seen statements repeatedly made by men in high authority in the Colony, or by leading Colonial journals, relative to Sir George Grey's first administration of the Government of New Zealand; to the settlement of the public lands; to the Financial Arrangements of 1856; and to other questions of great historical importance, which I know to be not only untrue, but, in many instances, the very reverse of the truth, I feel that I not only ought not to allow such statements to pass uncontradicted; but that the true version regarding matters of so much present and future interest ought to appear in a more durable form, and obtain a more lasting publicity than would be afforded by its bare publication in the leading columns of an up-country journal. Hence the present publication.

(2). It having been represented to the writer, by men whose opinions he values, that as he must have become conversant with many facts relative to the public men and Political History of New Zealand during a long journalistic experience, which could not possibly be published at the time in the columns of small newspapers, only issued twice or at most thrice a week, and as there, must have been recorded other facts equally interesting, now only to be found in a disconnected shape in the columns of the journals he has edited, they ought to be collected and published in a less perishable and more accessible form, he has in these pages, though no doubt in a very imperfect manner, endeavored to give effect to their wishes.

[Image of page 2]


He has had less hesitation in doing so as he was the only reporter present at the later and more important meetings of the Settlers' Constitutional Association, and at the public dinners and demonstrations held under ita auspices; while with the exception of the Hon Robert Stokes, he was the only person who took notes of the important proceedings of the General Legislative Council, held at Wellington in 1851, under the presidency of Sir George Grey, as well as of those of the first session of the Wellington Provincial Council at a time when Mr Gibbon Wakefield was one of the most distinguished of its members. Information thus obtained, involving no breaches of confidence, and furnishing some of the material facts for authentic or contemporary history, and which at least in some cases could only be known to himself, ought, it will be admitted to be preserved in a more durable form than in the fleeting columns of a newspaper. Hence a second reason for the publication of these pages.

(3). My reasons for publishing the latter portion of this work will be found of a more personal, and will be deemed of a less satisfactory character. Some at least of the leaders which will be found in these pages, are on subjects of more than passing interest. They contain the mature views of the writer on those subjects, and in every instance those views have not been so much acquired from the study of books as from first-hand observation and reflection during a long and varied experience in a school in which it is said that even fools may learn wisdom. I have not accepted opinions on political questions upon trust or merely because they were orthodox, or stamped with the names of great men, nor have I rejected them merely because they were unpopular. In no case have my political opinions been borrowed from any man, party, school, or coterie. I have thought out every question for myself, and have been perfectly indifferent whether the views published were in harmony or the reverse with those held by the popular idols of the day. The idea that the colonists of New Zealand were engaged, whether they knew it or not, in the important work of laying the foundations of a future great nation has never been absent from my mind; and I have consequently been anxious that these foundations should be so laid as would be most likely to establish and secure the future freedom, happiness, and greatness, of this my adopted country. I have always felt satisfied that my views, whether accepted at the time or not, must, so far as they are found to be true, ultimately prevail; and I have already had the satisfaction of finding that opinions which I have ventured to publish, in opposition to those which have been generally held, have afterwards been accepted by the public quite as a matter of course. More than one instance of this kind will be found in the following pages; and as I believe time will furnish others, I have ventured to submit what I have written to the clearer judgment of another generation.

It was not originally my intention to introduce any personal narrative into these pages; and, with the exception of the first chapter, I have, as far as possible, avoided doing so; for if I had had any intention of that kind such a narration would not have commenced but have concluded on my taking my departure from England for New Zealand. Those who have been led to expect anything of the kind will consequently be doomed to disappointment. My object has been to expose some prevailing falacies with regard to those public men and public measures that have occupied no inconsiderable space in the early history of the Colony, and to give at the same time, a more lasting publicity to views which I believe would, if generally accepted prove of advantage to the

[Image of page 3]


present and future welfare of the people of New Zealand.

Having had no Blue Books, or Works of authority to refer to, and having, consequently, had to depend almost exclusively on my memory for the details I have given, both with regard to public men and public events those details will not, perhaps, be found strictly accurate in every particular. If, under such circumstances, I shall be found to have made some mistakes in my narrative, I trust no reader will be so uncandid as to think I have made them intentionally or with any design to mislead. If I succeed in removing some misapprehensions with regard to Sir George Grey's first administration of the Government of the Colony; with regard to the administration of the Waste Lands; with regard to the Financial Arrangements of 1856, and with regard to other matters of early colonial history, my purpose in giving to the world this compilation will be accomplished.



Sail for Nelson in the barque Eden. --Some of my fellow passengers. --New Plymouth, Nelson, and Wellington. --Wages of Mechanics and Laborers. --Official Salaries. --Unsuccessfully apply for Journalistic Employment. --A Constitutional Meeting at the Brittania Saloon. --Defeat of the Constitutional Reformers. --Mr Fox Appointed Political Agent in London, --Turn Schoolmaster. --Effects of my Letters on Education. --Commencement of my Career as a New Zealand Journalist.

ON the 4th June, 1850, I embarked with my wife and four young children for Nelson in the barque Eden, the last but one of the vessels despatched to this Colony by the New Zealand Company. Emigration from my native land was no new thing to me, as it was to most of my fellow passengers, as I had emigrated to Upper Canada in 1834, had travelled over the greater part of that Province, and through the Northern States, had returned to England after some years' absence, and had again emigrated to America in the fall of 1839, at about the same time the first four emigrant ships sailed for Port Nicholson It is worthy of remark that amongst the passengers per Eden were Mr Adams, subsequently Superintendent of the Province of Marlborough; Mr Wells, long a member for Nelson in the General Assembly;, the Hon. Mr Scotland, M. L. C.; Mr Tatton, subsequently member of the Taranaki Provincial Council; Mr Pheney, the editor and, publisher of the Taranaki News; Mr Black, the well-known Nelson storekeeper, and afterwards, I believe, a member of the Nelson Provincial Council; Mr C. R. Carter, long M. P. C. and M. H. R. for the Wairarapa; Mr Beamish, afterwards a leading settler of the Chatham Islands; and Messrs Mollison and, Langlands, subsequently members of the Otago Provincial Council. The Eden arrived off New Plymouth about the end of October, after a long but otherwise pleasant voyage, when I went ashore and was struck with the primitive method of landing passengers, with the quantity of iron sand on the beach, the splendid white clover crops in the streets, the, remarkable beauty and luxuriance of the vegetation, and the very fine breed of sheep, cattle, and pigs that were to be seen, the latter being much superior to anything I had ever witnessed either in Canada or the United States. During my stay at New Plymouth the Eden had to slip anchor and put to sea, but, after a few days' absence, again returned to the roadstead, landed the remainder of her passengers and a portion of her cargo destined for New Plymouth, when she had again to slip anchor and proceed to Nelson. At the time of our arrival there Mr Dillon Bell was then the New Zealand Company's

[Image of page 4]


Resident Agent; but the Company having in the preceding month of July surrendered its Charter to the Crown, he was shortly after appointed by Sir George Grey Crown Lands Commissioner for Wellington. After a sojourn of a few weeks at Nelson, I embarked with my wife and family in the schooner Mary, bound for Port Nicholson, and arrived at Wellington early in December, 1850.

Wellington was neither so prosperous nor populous as I had been led to anticipate, and this fact was accounted for by Mr Roe, then the landlord of Barrett's Hotel, by the statement that a larger population had left Wellington since its first settlement, than it then contained. There was a rough but hearty hospitality offered by the settlers to new-comers at New Plymouth; and at Nelson seeing that we were new arrivals we had been invited to the houses, and politely asked to take a walk round the gardens of the well-to-do settlers there; but no such reception awaited the appearance of the newcomer on the shores of Lambton harbor. The state of society was too much like that to be found at the small seaports of the Mother Country. The difference in the character of the population of Wellington was accounted for, in part, by the fact of its having been from the first the principal seat of the operations of the New Zealand Company; and, for some years past, the seat also of a sort of bastard Provincial Government, under Lieut-Governor Eyre, the gentleman who afterwards became so notorious as Governor of Jamaica. But the difference I refer to was chiefly owing to the circumstance of its being not only a seaport, but a garrison town, which last circumstance did not operate to its moral and social, though it might to its pecuniary advantage. Be this as it may, there was a difference between the population of Wellington and Nelson, which was not only observed by myself, but had, previously and subsequently to my arrival, been remarked by others. The appearance of a man in a blue serge shirt on Lambton Quay, though then, the every-day dress of all classes in Nelson, marked him out as one of the "lower orders," a being of an inferior species, who, if be wanted to obtain employment, found nobody to put him in the way of obtaining it, and was roughly told to take his stand at the "Poor Man's Corner," situate in the vicinity of the old Custom House, where men stood to pick up odd jobs, and who could be engaged at 6d an hour to do any casual work that offered. The wages of mechanics, who found their own tools, were then 6s, and those of laborers 3s 6d per day, or 18s per week "wet or dry;" but this was before the discovery of the Australian goldfields. "The Company's emigrants," at the settlements round Wellington, either occupied small sections of land belonging chiefly to absentees, or obtained a livelihood as sawyers, splitters, or carters of firewood and potatoes; advances on the growing crops of the latter being readily obtainable, and generally obtained from the Wellington storekeepers at from 2s 6d to 3s 6d per cwt. The highest official salary (£800 per annum) was paid to Mr Justice Chapman, who received his appointment from home; but Civil Secretaries, Colonial Treasurers, Commissioners of Crown Lands, and Resident Magistrates had to be satisfied with salaries of half that amount. Yet even then the people and the officials probably lived as well as they have done since, and even then, though with much less reason than now, a great outcry was made by Wellington place-hunters about the lavish patronage and disgraceful official extravagance of the Government of Sir George Grey!

Having been for a number of years connected, as contributor and editor, with the serial press, and for some time the successful editor and pro-

[Image of page 5]


prietor of a weekly newspaper, before my departure from England, I had not been long in Wellington before I made application for employment in any capacity at the two newspaper offices, but without the slightest success. That blue serge shirt I had fondly bought at Nelson was evidently a great mistake; though the appearance of Mr Gibbon Wakefield in that costume, some two years later, tended somewhat to soften the prejudice felt by the Wellington snobocracy regarding those who wore it.

Some weeks after my arrival in Wellington a large public meeting was held at the Britannia Saloon; and by way of illustrating the state of political opinion, and public feeling, at that time, I will give here some particulars with reference to the meeting in question. It had been convened by the Settlers' Constitutional Association for the purpose of adopting the report of a Committee which had been appointed to prepare a memorial to the Home Government as to the form of Representative Constitution which was desired by the Colony. Though the meeting had been pretty well packed by the members and supporters of the Association, it refused point blank to adopt the report in question. The opposition was led by Mr Robert Hart, who, in an eloquent speech, showed how monstrous it was to ask the meeting to adopt a report on so important a subject before it had been printed, and the public had been afforded the opportunity of carefully and calmly considering the recommendations it contained. I should here mention that the Lord William Bentinck, the only English woolship of the season, was then about to sail for London, and Mr W. Fox, who had succeeded Colonel Wakefield as Principal Agent of the New Zealand Company, having no further official business in the Colony, had taken his passage in her. In vain, therefore, did he, Dr Feattherston, and others urge this as a reason why the report should be at once adopted instead of waiting until it was printed. Amidst loud cries of "print, print," "adjourn, adjourn," the meeting rejected the motion for the adoption of the report, and an amendment in favor of the adjournment was carried by a large majority. But, for some reason which never obtained publicity, the leaders of the opposition at the original meeting absented themselves from the adjourned one, and consequently the Association's report, after much heated discussion, was eventually adopted; as was also a resolution appointing Mr Fox the Political Agent of the Wellington settlers in London. The foregoing will give a pretty accurate idea of the state of political feeling in Wellington at the period of my arrival.

A short time after this, it having been represented to me that the settlers at the Te Aro end of the town were sadly in want of a school, I resolved to open one there, and having taken a house as I thought suitable for the purpose, I put an advertisement in the Independent to that effect; at the same time announcing that I would open a night school, and undertake to teach any adult that did not know his A. B. C. both to write letters and make out accounts in a very small number of lessons, or I would charge nothing for my trouble. Judge, however, my surprise when, on the first Monday morning I was about to commence my duties in my new capacity of schoolmaster, I discovered that, instead of there being no school at Te Aro, there was actually a large school at the very next door to the house I had taken for my academy. In my then circumstances the discovery of such a fact must have been, to say the least, discouraging; but nothing daunted, I commenced writing a series of letters on the subject of education, which I signed with my own name, and got inserted in the Independent, more

[Image of page 6]


with the view of calling attention to my school than with any idea that they would create any interest on the question amongst the leading settlers of Wellington, still less that they would excite any interest, on the part of His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief, in the welfare of their author. This, however, was the case; for though some wiseacres denied that those letters were my own, Sir George Grey at once made enquiries regarding me, and offered, through Mr St. Hill, to promote my interests by all legitimate means within his power. At the same time the latter gentleman convened a meeting of his friends, organised the Church of England Education Society, and took immediate steps for the erection of a large schoolhouse on Thorndon Flat the first Church of England school that had as yet been erected in this part of the Colony. If, therefore, the publication of my letters did not bring me pupils they fulfilled perhaps a better purpose -- they originated a very important educational movement, and they were the primary cause of an application being made to me by the proprietors of the Independent, that I would undertake to report the proceedings of the General Legislative Council then about to sit in Wellington. I accepted the appointment, somewhere I think about the month of May or June, 1851, and this was the commencement of my journalistic career in New Zealand.



The New Zealander, Southern Cross, Nelson Examiner, Spectator and Independent. -- Hugh Carleton, Bishop Selwyn, and Sir George Grey. --The Blood and Treasure Despatch. --The Suspension of the Constitutional Charter of 1846. --Earl Grey's views thereon.

AT the time of my arrival there were only five newspapers published in New Zealand, and there were then no professional journalists, that is, no persons who received regular salaries for editing newspapers, except perhaps Dr Bennett, the editor of the New Zealander, and Mr Hugh Carleton, the editor of the Southern Cross; both bi-weekly papers published at Auckland. The Nelson Examiner, then a demy sheet, was published weekly at Nelson by Mr Charles Elliott, and amongst the contributors to its leading columns, besides Mr Domett and Mr Fox, who had long before my arrival left for Wellington, were Drs Greenwood and Munro; the first now Sergeant at-Arms in the House of Representatives, and the latter the successor of Sir Charles Clifford in the Speaker's chair. Great ability was displayed in the leading columns of this, and, indeed, of all the other newspapers then published. They had but little local news, and scarcely anything else to recommend them but the ability of their political articles. The New Zealand Spectator was also a demy sheet, published bi-weekly at Wellington by Mr Robert Stokes, and was the only newspaper in the Colony, with the exception of the New Zealander, which supported the policy of Sir George Grey. The Wellington Independent, edited by Dr Featherston, shortly after my connection with it was enlarged to a double crown sheet and was also issued bi-weekly. Soon after, Otago, which had made more than one unsuccessful attempt to start a weekly paper, succeeded I believe in doing so. I can speak more positively with regard to the Lyttelton Times, which was started in 1851 as the organ of the Canterbury Association, and which was printed once a week at Port Lyttelton, till then known as Port Cooper. The whole of these newspapers, with the exceptions I have named, were the organs of small but influential sections of the community, and were violently opposed to Sir George Grey, then as now the un-

[Image of page 7]


compromising opponent of native land claimants, land monopolists, and land sharks, and the warm supporter of the rights and interests of the working settlers, of the Natives, and of the people generally, as distinguished from the factions, cliques, and coteries which looked upon themselves as the governing classes in the Colony. It is a somewhat remarkable circumstance, which I do not remember to have seen publicly noticed, that four out of the five or six principal contributors to the New Zealand newspapers at the time of my arrival were medical men. Amongst the candidates for Executive or Legislative honors at a subsequent period a large proportion belonged or had belonged to the medical profession, whereas both in the Provincial Council, and also in the General Assembly, lawyers were so scarce as to render it difficult sometimes to appoint an Attorneys General or a Provincial Solicitor. But this by the way.

The following remarks published by me in the New Zealand Advertiser on June 13th, 1860--a bi-weekly newspaper of which I had the year preceding been appointed editor--give a very good idea of what kind of man the editor of the Southern Cross was, what kind of men they were of which he was the champion, and what kind of views I at that time entertained of Sir George Grey, who was then Governor of the Cape, and many months before anyone had the slightest idea that he would ever again return to this Colony. The remarks would appear to have been elicited by the appearance of Mr Carleton as the champion of Bishop of Selwyn in the action he had taken relative to the Waitara question. I observe -- "Vanity is one of the weaknesses of the editor of the Southern Cross. This vanity in times past took the form of an extravagant and tiresome pedantry; and his present egotism, harmless and ridiculous, is but a consequence of overweening self-conceit. He prides himself on being a classical scholar, a smart logician, and the perfect gentleman; but his continual reference to his possession of these qualifications leaves upon us the unfortunate impression that there may be some doubt on the subject: nay, that he had some doubts himself. When an assertion has to be supported by continued repetition, instead of by proof, it looks suspicious, to say the least of it. There is something insulting too in the boast. It seems to infer that he thinks himself not as other men are; that he possesses qualifications which his neighbors have not. Mr Carleton consequently has made but little progress in the good opinion of others. He is satisfied perhaps that he stands so well in his own. His articles in former days were remarkable for the number of farfetched quotations which they contained. He ransacked his library, like a mistress her casket, to make a display, and to astonish and dazzle the eye, rather than to convince the judgment or captivate the heart. His vanity has now assumed another form. He formerly prided himself on his learning; now upon the exclusive and accurate character of the information, upon current topics, of which he is possessed. He doubts not that he is chivalrous to a fault, but instead of standing up as the champion of the defenceless and weak, he is regardful only of the interests of the strong. He first distinguished himself as the advocate of the missionary, and other land claimants, and as the bitter and uncompromising opponent of Sir G. Grey. In the latter work he secured for himself the sympathy and acknowledgments of those in this Province, who, like himself, despairing of obtaining place and power under the Governor, became the wordy advocates of Representative Institutions, and the principles of local self-government. But they at least prided themselves upon being colonists. Not so Mr Carleton. He boldly admitted

[Image of page 8]


that he was only a "sojourner" in the country for which he presumes to legislate, in whose internal affairs he intermeddles, and whose vital interests he continually disturbs. Out of Auckland he could find but few supporters, but there he has some influence, owing to his being the acknowledged mouth-piece of the old missionaries, and of native land claimants and land monopolists generally, whose interest it is that the Waste Lands of the Colony should not fall into the possession of the Crown, but continue in that of the maories, until they can get them into their own.

"Formerly Mr Carleton accused Bishop Selwyn of a lust of power, and of sacrificing means to ends. But then the Bishop supported the Governor, and set his face against the monstrous land claims of the elder missionaries. Now the Bishop feeling disposed to oppose the representative of the Crown and to question the expediency of his method of "cutting the Gordian knot of New Zealand difficulties" with the sword, Mr Carleton, anticipating succour from Wellington, comes forward in his defence, because the interests of the colonists and the Crown and those of missionaries and native land claimants are irreconcileable. When the Bishop opposed the latter he was very naughty; but now that there is a chance for the colonization of the country of which the Bishop does not approve, Mr Carleton can see virtues in him which he would formerly have us to believe he did not possess. "The time has been," said Mr Carleton as the missionary advocate, "when the Bishop might have carried all before him; when by legitimate means he might have raised his influence to the pitch of almost absolute authority; but he failed to improve the golden moment, which is now irrevocably lost." It appears that the Bishop mortally offended Mr Carleton and his clients, because he would not come forward and give evidence as to character, when the missionaries were charged by Governor Grey with having been the cause of the last native war, and being thus accessory to the shedding of human blood, for the sake of land. In the north, the Governor had the missionaries and the native land claimants to contend with; in the south, ambitious place hunters and disappointed office seekers; and in opposing both for the common interests of the natives, the colonists, and the Crown, he was denounced by both, and had only the consciousness of his own rectitude to support him. The Bishop in coming to his assistance of course made a grave mistake, and they told him they would never forgive him for it. But times have altered. In spite of his enemies Sir George Grey is now universally admitted to be the best Governor in the British dominions; and, in the progress of events, his bitter opponents have also obtained power, but only to mar the good work which he had so auspiciously begun. His name is remembered with admiration, and his works will endure, when those of his enemies are forgotten, or remembered only for the ruin which they wrought.

"At the present juncture it is well that we should know what were the opinions of Sir George Grey with reference to the conduct of Mr Carleton's reverend clients. In a despatch to the Secretary for the Colonies, Sir George Grey observed: "I have neither read in history nor met in real life with a case such as the present, in which a few individuals who were sent out to a country at the expense of pious people, in order that they might spread the truths of the gospel, have acquired such large tracts of land from ignorant natives, over whom they have acquired a religious influence, and who, being themselves missionaries, have then assaulted with such violence and obloquy a person who has endeavored

[Image of page 9]


to protect the rights of the suffering and complaining native?." The Bishop felt disposed to support the Governor against these missionary land cormorants, and was consequently accused by Mr Carleton with having sown division in the Church. "He has lost," says he, "the willing co-operation of many fellow laborers, who now work by the side of him rather than along with him. He has lost the support of the elder missionary families, now fast assuming an important position in the community. He has exposed himself to much injurious, even to unjust suspicion; and by having failed when he had put forth his utmost strength, has shown the measure of that strength." This was the character given Bishop Selwyn by Mr Carleton, when he opposed the unjust claims of the missionaries: but it was in no such measured terms he spoke of the conduct of Governor Grey for having adopted a similar course. In those days he was never tired of abusing Sir G. Grey, and of writing about "a blood and treasure despatch" (blood and treasure he always had printed in large capitals) which the Governor had written confidentially to the Secretary of State with reference to these northern land claimants. I never could well make out what all this blood and treasure meant, but concluded that it must have been something dreadful or there would not have been so much said about it. But I chanced the other day to come across this despatch the substance of which shall appear in its proper place.

The denunciations of Sir George Grey by the Southern Cross never failed to be copied, capitals and all, by the Independent and the Examiner, while the Cross, in its turn, copied the denunciations which appeared in those journals. Yet the political opinions of the three journals were of the most opposite character, they agreed only on one subject and that was abuse of the Governor-in-Chief.

The unpardonable sin he had committed in the eyes of the Cross lay in his opposition to the land claims of the elder missionaries, and of the Auckland and Sydney land sharks. The unpardonable sin he had committed in the eyes of Dr Featherston and the Constitutional Association was his advising the suspension of the Constitution which had been granted by Royal Charter in 1846. The reasons Sir George gave for recommending this course were various and urgent, but those which had most weight with the Home Government were, some years later, thus referred to by Earl Grey in his place in the House of Lords. The noble lord observed:-- "Sir George Grey recommended the suspension of the Constitution of 1846 and at the same time addressed a despatch to the Government at Home in which he explained the dangers which would have arisen at that moment from an attempt to introduce it. He pointed out that the war was scarcely over; that both the natives and the settlers were in a state of great excitement; that, by the proposed Constitution the entire power over the revenue would be vested in the representatives of the settlers, while the natives were large contributors; that, in fact, it would be making one section, and that the smaller section, of the whole population, arbiters of the whole; that it would be giving the complete disposal both of the revenue and of the other matters to the representatives of the European minority, excluding from all power and influence the native majority in the Colony. He stated that the natives could not be expected to accede to such an arrangement, and he predicted that the result of an attempt to enforce it would be armed resistance. The arguments of Sir George Grey appeared so conclusive to the Government of that day that they had no hesitation in admitting the error which they had committed in passing the Act of 1846, and the

[Image of page 10]


result was that they obtained the ready assent of Parliament to a bill for suspending the Constitution which had been given to New Zealand. Subsequent events had shown how sound was the advice upon which they acted. Armed with the powers conferred by the Suspension Bill, and with the full support of the Government at Home, Sir George Grey adopted a policy of which the principle was the firm maintenance of the authority of the Colonial Government, the suppression of everything like violence or disturbance, but at the same time the administration of justice to both races, and the display of kindness and consideration especially towards the Maories." It was, however, not alone the suspension of the Constitution to which the Independent objected, but to the whole policy and Government of Sir George Grey. This fact will require to be borne in mind when I come to speak of the ovation he received by the leading members of the Constitutional party on his return to the Colony in 1861. What I have said will give the reader a pretty good idea of the position, tone, and character of the newspaper press just before the meeting of the General Legislative Council.



Arrival of Governor Grey in New Zealand. -- Dinner given to him at Nelson. --"Blood and Treasure Dispatch." -- Bishop Selwyn and the Missionary Land Claimants. --Dr Featherston and the Constitutional Association. --Opening of the General Legislative Council.

IN order to prevent this work attaining too great a bulk I shall not refer in this or any subsequent chapter to the military operations which took place in New Zealand during either the first or the second administration of the Government of the Colony by Sir George Grey. He arrived from South Australia, as successor of Governor Fitzroy, near the end of the year 1845, when native wars and discontent raged from one end of the North Island to the other. He convened the Legislative Council to meet him at Auckland on the 12th December, 1845, for the purpose of introducing a Bill for placing restrictions on the importation of arms, gunpowder, and other warlike stores, when he thus spoke of the financial condition of the Colony. He said "that the expenditure at present very largely exceeds the total income derived from the Colony, the parliamentary grant, and every other source; that a large addition is being made to the debt, already considerable, and must continue to do so until be was able to determine upon measures to equalise in some degree the revenue and expenditure." From a stray copy of the Independent I obtain these facts, and from another stray copy of that journal, of 3rd April, 1847, I learn that the war at the Hutt and on the Coast of this part of the Colony had terminated, and that the chief Rauparaha was a captive on board a man-of-war. At a public dinner given to Governor Grey at Nelson, at the end of March of that year, the chairman, the Hon. C. A. Dillon, on proposing his Excellency's health, drew a vivid picture of the wretched state of the Colony, when his Excellency arrived here, and contrasted it with the then happy aspect of public affairs. He observed that his Excellency was the first Governor of the Colony who possessed the full confidence and esteem of the people, which arose from a strong sense of his Excellency's justice and wisdom. But I must not pursue this subject further.

In the preceding chapter I referred to the hostility of the Southern Cross to Governor Grey on account of his opposition to the monstrous land claims of some of the Church Missionaries and other northern land-

[Image of page 11]


sharks, and it is my intention now to enter into farther particulars. On the 25th June, 1846, or about eight months after his arrival in the Colony, Governor Grey addressed a private dispatch to the Hon. W. E. Gladstone on the subject of these "claims to large tracts of land," when he said: "The total number of individuals in whose favor these tracts of land are claimed may be stated at from forty to fifty. For the reasons stated in my public Despatches, I feel myself satisfied that these claims are not based on substantial justice to the aborigines, or to the large majority of British settlers in this country. Her Majesty's Government may also rest satisfied that these individuals cannot be put in possession of these tracts of land without a large expenditure of British blood and money." But it is the conclusion of the letter to which I wish more particularly to direct. the reader's attention. He says: "The individuals interested in these land claims form a very powerful party. They include amongst them those connected with the public press, several members of the Church Missionary Society, and the numerous families of those gentlemen, various gentlemen holding important offices in the public service (and who are therefore acquainted with every movement of Government), and their friends and relatives. It is true that this party is confined principally to the north of the island; they still, however, exercise a very important influence here, and the Government, if it does not yield to their wishes, must anticipate a violent and stormy opposition." This anticipation was not long in being realised. Though this despatch was marked "private," a copy of it was communicated to the President of the Church Missionary Society by Earl Grey, for his private information, and soon after it found its way to New Zealand and was printed in the columns of the Southern Cross, This was the famous "Blood and Treasure Despatch," to which I referred in the preceding chapter. It will be seen there was nothing so very dreadful in it after all. That the charges made by the Governor against these land claimants, including some of the leading members of the Church Missionary Society, were true will be seen from the following extracts from a letter written to the latter by Bishop Selwyn, in which he gives the following quotation from a letter he had himself addressed to the Church Missionary Society more than two years before Governor Grey's arrival in the Colony:. "'The purchases of lands by the Missionaries have had a most injurious effect upon the minds of the natives and the English settlers. Many years of self-denial and disinterestedness on the part of every member of the Mission will be necessary to do away the impression which has, been made.' Mr Fairburn's claim of 40,000 acres, Mr Taylor's of 50,000, Mr Clarke's, Mr Hamlin's, Mr H. Williams's, and others, appearing publicly in the Gazette have created a feeling among the English settlers, of which the Missionaries, living apart from the settlers, are not sufficiently aware, and probably their own natives do not express their opinions to them as freely as they do to me. I cannot attempt to estimate the amount of evil which has been thus caused, and can only pray that God may give us grace for the future to abstain from laying such stumbling blocks in the way of our people." The Bishop, after pointing out that the Church Missionary Society had expressed its disapproval of these Missionary land transactions, goes on to remark: "In the same spirit the Bishop of Australia assured you in 1840, that it was the universal feeling among unprejudiced persons that no individual engaging in the duties of a missionary for the conversion of the heathen can avail himself of the opportunity thereby afforded; to ob-

[Image of page 12]


tain possession of their lands for his own benefit, without subjecting himself, his motives, and the cause which he has engaged in, to the most injurious suspicions. To the opinions of the Society, and of the Bishop of Australia, I am obliged reluctantly to add the testimony of my own experience, that the land purchases of missionaries have awakened the jealousy of the colonists; have created a feeling highly prejudicial to the mission; have affected the character of the Society; have "in some cases alienated the affections of natives from their missionary," and have subjected us all to the most injurious suspicion. "All this I will undertake to prove" if it ever should be necessary, but I earnestly desire to be spared the painful duty by your quiet acquiescence in the Governor's proposals." Some of the missionaries did, and others did not, quietly acquiesce in those proposals, and the consequence was that one was dismissed and three others were either superannuated or otherwise disposed of. I do not give the above extracts for the purpose of reviving a forgotten dispute, but for the purpose of showing how it chanced that at public meetings, and in public newspapers in Auckland, Governor Grey was so fearfully denounced, as well as why even his veracity was called in question. Governor Grey was no more liked by the Auckland land sharks of that day, than Sir George Grey is liked by the land monopolists of the present day, and on both occasions similar courses have been resorted to to traduce his character and weaken his influence.

Next to the northern land claimants the most powerful opponents of Sir George Grey, on his arrival in Wellington in 1851, were the members of the Settlers' Constitutional Association, who held their meetings in an upper room at Barrett's Hotel. Of this Association Dr Featherston was the Hon. Secretary, and Dr Dorset the nominal Chairman. It was in no sense of the term a representative body; it never had the confidence of the working settlers; and its proceedings were opposed from the first by a large majority of the more influential citizens of Wellington. Of this Association Dr Featherston was the life and soul, and the Independent the acknowledged organ. Amongst its more active members were many disappointed, or ambitious office-seekers, many of whom, sooner or later, obtained office under the Provincial Government. For example, Dr Featherston became Superintendent of the Province; Mr Clifford, Speaker of the Provincial Council; Mr Fitzherbert, Provincial Secretary; Mr Fox (on his return to the Colony) Provincial Treasurer; Dr Dorset, Coroner and Provincial Surgeon; Mr Brandon, Provincial Solicitor; Mr Revans, Chairman of Committees; Mr Kelham, and subsequently Mr W. Dorset, Provincial Auditor; Mr John Wallace, Government Clerk; and Mr J. H. Marriott, Sergeant-at-Arms. Most of these men did all they could to injure the reputation of Governor Grey both here and at home, and sought by letters to the Colonial Office and leading members of Parliament to procure his recall from the Governorship of the Colony. After Mr Fox's departure, all the resolutions passed by the Association, and all the letters signed "John Dorset," were drafted and written by Dr Featherston; for the Chairman of the Association, though a very popular and goodnatured, was a very illiterate man, who never wrote a political letter in his life, and was totally innocent of having ever given birth to any political ideas. When resolutions were to be sent to the Colonial Office or to members of Parliament care was taken that they should either be proposed or seconded by 'Captain' Rhodes or some J.P., in order to make it appear, as Mr Ormond recently represented, that the Asso-

[Image of page 13]


ciation was composed of the leading men and most respected residents in the southern settlements. I record these facts for the purpose of divesting those letters and resolutions condemnatory of Sir George Grey of any weight to which they are not fairly entitled. It was the bitter hostility of these men, and the underhand plottings of Lieutenant-Governor Eyre, that Sir George Grey had to meet and circumvent on his arrival in Wellington in 1851 to open the General Legislative Council. It was necessary that I should say this much in order for the reader to better understand what follows.

This General Legislative Council whose proceedings I was engaged to report, comprised His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief; His Excellency Lieutenant-Governor Eyre; Lieutenant-Colonel McCleverty, Commander of the Forces; Mr Swainson, Attorney-General; Dr. Sinclair, Colonial Secretary; Hon. W. H. Petre, Provincial Treasurer; Mr Daniel Wakefield, Provincial Attorney-General; Mr Domett, Civil Secretary; Mr Carkeek, Collector of Customs; Mr Dillon Bell, Commissioner of Crown Lands, and the following nominees, viz., Mr Hickson, Wellington; the Hon. C. Dillon, and Mr Cautly, Nelson; Mr Cutfield, Taranaki, and Captain Smith, Wairarapa. His Excellency the Governor in-Chief presided. The following account relative to the delivery of his "Financial Statement" was published in the Wairarapa Standard in 1875, prior to Sir George Grey taking his seat in the House of Representatives for Auckland City West, for the purpose of indicating that Sir George might prove as great a debater as he was a dispatch writer: "The reporter for the Independent, feeling certain a copy of this lucid statement would be furnished to the press on application, failed to take any notes of it during its delivery, though he listened with breathless interest to it from its commencement to its close.

On applying at the Spectator office for a copy of the speech he was told that no copy could be furnished, and that he ought to have taken notes at the time of what was said. The only recourse left to him was to apply personally to Sir George Grey, when he was politely informed by the latter that he had not spoken from notes, but if the reporter would supply him with the several topics in the order in which he had referred to them, he would connect them together with any necessary remarks that he should find to have been omitted. There was therefore nothing left for the reporter to do but to go home and endeavor to write out the speech as well as he could from memory, which he could not have hoped to accomplish had it been so voluminous and elaborate a production as those which have since been delivered. When he had performed this task, he hastened to Government House, and placed his notes in the hands of Mr Cooper, the Assistant Secretary. The reporter had not waited long when he was sent for by His Excellency, and was immediately after ushered into his presence. After congratulating him on the general accuracy of the report, Sir George pointed out one or two omissions which he said he had taken the liberty to supply, and at the same time he told him that if at any time he felt at a loss, or stood in need of information, in the discharge of his duties, if he would apply to him he would be only too happy to render him all the aid in his power. The reporter thanked him and withdrew; and subsequently had the satisfaction of seeing the speech which had been reported under the above circumstances reprinted in all the Colonial and in several of the London newspapers. The circumstance made a deep impression on the writer's mind, and though it occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago he remembers it as vividly as if it had only happened yesterday."

[Image of page 14]




The Bank. of Issue. ---The. N. Z. Company's Land Claimants. --The Provincial Council's Ordinance. --The Pasturage Regulations. -- The Hundred Ordinance. --The Auckland Charter. --A Scene in the Council.

IT is not my intention to dwell on the important measures discussed and passed by the General Legislative Council. Some of these were of as great public interest, and many of them quite as liberal in their provisions, as any which have since been discussed and passed by the General Assembly. One of these was an Ordinance to prohibit private banks from issuing paper money; this privilege being very properly restricted to the Government Bank of Issue which had been established by Sir George Grey, and which three years after was stupidly abolished by the General Assembly in the interests of the moneyocracy; though it was proved, upon evidence, to be a very beneficial and profitable institution to the Colony. Another important measure was called the New Zealand Company's Land Claimants' Ordinance, passed for the purpose of authorising the issue of Government Scrip in satisfaction of the claims of the Company's Land Purchasers or their assigns. A third measure was the Provincial Councils Ordinance, which excited no end of discussion at the time, and which was in the following year superseded by the passing of the Constitution Act. The measures to which I intend here more particularly to refer are the Pasturage Regulations; a Crown Lands Ordinance, amending and extending the provisions of a New Ulster Ordinance (commonly known as the Hundred Ordinance) to the whole of New Zealand, with the exception of what was known as the Canterbury Block; and a Charter of Incorporation for the town and suburbs of Auckland, As the second of these will be repeatedly referred to in the course of these pages, in connection with Sir George Grey's Pasturage and Land Regulations, it will be necessary here to refer to some of the more important of its provisions.


Before doing so, however, I deem it necessary to state in substance, and from recollection, the remarks made by his Excellency on introducing his Pasturage Regulations, as those remarks have never before been published. He said, that instead of dividing the Colony, for depasturing purposes, into settled, intermediate, and unsettled districts, as had been done in New South Wales, when the Port Philip district, afterwards erected into the Colony of Victoria, was comprised within its limits; in which districts pastoral leases on distinctive terms; were granted for one, seven, and fourteen years respectively; he thought it better to have one uniform system of regulations for the whole Colony; and, instead of leases, to grant depasturage licenses only, with the proviso that when the land was required for settlement the license should at once, ipso facto; cease and determine. It was, consequently, distinctly stipulated in the license that it should remain in force for fourteen years, "subject nevertheless to be sooner determined pursuant to the provisions of the Regulations under which this license is issued." And on turning to those Regulations I find that the occupier of a run would be entitled to a license to depasture stock upon it subject to the following among other conditions: "If at any time during the currency of such license, the land comprised therein, or any part thereof, shall be included within the boundaries of any Hundred, the said license shall cease and determine as to so much of the land as shall be included within such

[Image of page 15]


boundaries, from and after the day of the date of the proclamation by which such Hundred shall be constituted."

The Pasturage Regulations created an animated discussion, and during the time the Stranger's Gallery was filled by persons who took an interest in the subject. Mr Domett, and less warmly Mr Dillon Bell, stood up manfully for the interests of men of small means, and contended that it would be better for the colony that the country were occupied by a large number of small, than by a small number of large, stockowners. On the other side, Mr Cautly maintained that it would he better for the colony to be parcelled out among a small number of large Stock owners who would introduce capital and well-bred stock into the country, and thus tend to promote its wealth and ultimate prosperity. Sir George Grey reminded both that the squatters were mere gipsies--that was the term he used-- who had no permanent interest in the land they occupied, and when that was wanted for settlement they would be required to go further afield. But his views will be found more clearly stated by himself in a letter to Lieut-Governor Wynyard when transmitting to him the Hundred Ordinance, as it passed the General Legislative Council, to the provisions of which, as well as to be extract from His Excellency's letter, I wish now to direct the attention of my readers.


I have already said that the Crown Lands Ordinance of New Ulster was extended to New Munster by an Ordinance passed in the session to which I am now referring. Under the New Ulster Ordinance, no person could occupy Crown Lands within the limits of a Hundred without a license, for which an annual fee of 10s 6d was to be paid. A list of the persons thus licensed was to be published in the Gazette, and the persons comprised in such list were to have the exclusive right of pasturage; these persons to elect a board of wardens, not less than three, in whom were to be vested the regulation and apportionment of the right of pasturage for the year. Then comes the following important clause, including its proviso, which is of still more importance.

"It shall be lawful for the wardens at any time within two calendar months after their election, to compute the quantity of cattle capable of being depastured on the Waste Lands of the Crown within the Hundred, to determine the description of cattle to be depastured thereon, and to apportion the number of great cattle and small cattle which may be depastured for the then current year by each person holding such license as aforesaid; regard being had to the quantity of land occupied by each such person, or to the price or sum per acre which may have been paid into the public Treasury, or to such other general rule as the wardens may deem better suited to the condition of the Hundred: Provided always, that it shall be lawful for such wardens to allow to unlicensed owners of land within any such Hundred the right of depasturing cattle on any such Waste Lands in proportion to the quantity of unenclosed land within the hundred belonging to such unlicensed person."

It is necessary to bear in mind that the holder of a license had power to transfer his license to any other person being an occupier of freehold land. Thus every occupier of a freehold within a Hundred, whether a cattle owner or not, would be enabled to reap some benefit from the public lands, while the large cattle owner would not be prohibited from depasturing a greater quantity of cattle than the number for which he was licensed, provided he could induce other holders of licenses, not being cattle owners, to transfer their licenses to him. The operation of

[Image of page 16]


the bye laws made by the wardens, was, by the amended law extended and made applicable to unlicensed persons, and to the lands of all persons situate within the limits of the Hundred. It will thus be seen that as soon as a district had been proclaimed a Hundred the occupiers of freeholds within it had full powers to determine the description, and to apportion the number of cattle, to be depastured on the public lands; that the wardens had power to make bye laws, to impose fines, and to impound cattle; and that, for the purpose of providing the means for carrying into effect these powers, and for defraying the expenses incident thereto, they were empowered to levy an assessment on cattle, not exceeding five shillings for every head of great cattle, and one shilling for every head of small cattle. Moreover, the license fee of 10s 6d paid to the commissioner was forthwith to be paid over to the wardens, and every provision was made to enable the inhabitants of the Hundred to regulate the depasturing of cattle on the unsold and unfenced lands within its limits. What was of more importance, the license for a run or portion of a run which was declared to be within the boundaries of the Hundred, under Sir George Grey's Pasturage Regulations, ceased and determined; while under the Royal instructions one-third of the gross proceeds from land sales within the Hundred were to be banded over to the Wardens to be appropriated to such purposes of public utility as they might determine. In transmitting the Amended Ordinance to Lieut-Governor Wynyard His Excellency Sir George Grey, wrote, "You are aware that under the authority of Proclamations which have been already issued the country in the vicinity of Auckland has been divided into Hundreds, the inhabitants of which have had conferred upon them the power of electing Wardens, in whose hands has been vested the power of making all requisite regulations connected with the depasturing of stock on the unsold lands within the limits of the Hundreds, of improving the common lands, and of carrying on certain public works and improvements. To enable the Wardens to effect these objects, all sums of money raised from depasturing licenses, or from the assessments on stock depastured within the limits of the Hundreds, and one-third of the gross proceeds of all Crown lands within the limits of the Hundreds which may be sold by the Crown, are to be placed at their disposal. This system of dividing the country, so soon as it becomes tolerably populous into hundreds, has hitherto--in so far as it has been tried -- worked well; and I propose that it should be constantly extended over the agricultural districts, as the increase of population in any particular locality renders it advisable to proclaim a Hundred or Hundreds in that district. Indeed, I confidentially expect that within a few years, the inhabitants of New Zealand will regard this right of being formed into small Municipalities for the management of the waste lands in their district, and for the expenditure of so considerable a portion of the land fund raised in it, as one of their most valuable and important privileges; and that it will be found that the incorporation for these purposes of all the landed proprietors in the Colony will create throughout the entire country bodies of considerable political influence, who will readily be able to resist any attempts (should such ever be made) on the part of the large stockholders to acquire such rights over the Crown lands as might be injurious to the interests or future prospects of the less wealthy portions of the community." These confident expectations of Sir George Grey were not realised; but the whole extract, and particularly the last sentence, is not less worthy of being recorded on that account. The time will come

[Image of page 17]


when questions of this kind will force themselves on the public attention, and they will then enquire how the public lands of the Colony came to be appropriated.

The Auckland Charter.

During the sitting of the Legislature, Sir George Grey laid on the Council table a Charter of Incorporation he had granted to the Borough of Auckland, and also the letter to Lieutenant-Governor Wynyard which accompanied it. He subsequently offered to grant a somewhat similar charter to the Hutt, but it declined, under false representations, to take advantage of the offer. In his letter to the Lieutenant-Governor after explaining at great length the provisions of the Auckland Charter, and shewing what large powers and revenues would be conferred on the Corporation, Sir G. Grey goes on to observe that it is not the object of the Charter to confer upon any particular class, by means of a council to be chosen by that class, the power of governing the borough; and he points out that the Charter recognises that with a view to the efficient management of all local institutions, works, and endowments, and to the good order, health, and. convenience of the people, the inhabitants of the district should be constituted a body corporate. Further on he observes:--

"It is now only necessary that I should add that the Burgesses of the Borough of Auckland being by the enclosed Charter, and the other several provisions which have been for that purpose made, charged with the administration of many valuable trusts, and with the management of the lands set apart for their support, being also endowed with a portion of the public funds, and being empowered to take all necessary measures for improving the means of internal communication within the Borough; for facilitating and encouraging its trade and commerce; for providing for the good order, health and convenience of its inhabitants; and for promoting the education of its youth; possessing also a large share in the administration of justice, in the persons of its Mayor and Aldermen, and its power of making bye laws for the holding of Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the Borough, by the Justices of the Peace thereof; and being further empowered to raise the funds necessary to effect these important objects, the Council of the Borough will for the future, be in a great measure responsible for the progress and prosperity of the district."


But the measure which excited the greatest outside interest was undoubtedly the Provincial Councils Ordinance, to which it was reported Lieutenant-Governor Eyre intended to move an amendment to the effect that it be read that day six months; but for which motion, when the time arrived, he substituted an ill-delivered speech, which I had every reason at the time to suspect had been written for him, in part at least, by Dr Featherston. I try as much as possible to avoid in these recollections to introduce any personal matters connected with myself, but on this occasion I must do so, for the purpose of showing what dodges the Opposition to Sir G. Grey at that time had recourse to, and to what mental torture a man having no resources but his brains may be subjected, in a country in which only money and muscle have any marketable value. Though not a short-hand reporter, I had reported satisfactorily, partly from long-hand notes and partly from memory, the proceedings of several public bodies, and the speeches made at more than one public demonstration prior to my arrival in the Colony. Subsequently I reported the speeches of Mr Gibbon Wakefield, Mr Fox, the Hon. John Johnston, and others, and was complimented by them on the accuracy

[Image of page 18]


of my reports. Though the Maori names that were frequently mentioned in the course of the discussions were a source to me of much trouble and annoyance, I had managed, up to the time of the second reading of this Provincial Councils Bill, to give a brief record of the debates without being found fault with. Perhaps I should have escaped on that day without censure, had I been informed previously that Mr Eyre would furnish a report of his own speech, or that I should be required to take fuller notes than usual of his remarks. Though it has been twenty-six years ago, the whole scene stands as vividly before me as if I had only witnessed it a few days since. After some ordinary business had been disposed of, the Provincial Councils Bill came on for discussion. Lieutenant-Governor Eyre, who sat at the side of the Council table, on the right hand of the Governor-in-Chief, slowly rose, and taking a roll of paper from his pocket and placing it before him, he began, in a low and scarcely audible voice, to deliver his views regarding the measure under discussion. All the while he looked down his nose, and stuttered and stammered as I had heard some lordling do on an English hustings, when he had lost the thread of his argument. The moment he concluded, up rose Sir George Grey, and in a more withering speech than I had ever before heard delivered-- and I had heard O'Connell at a public meeting, and Roebuck in the House of Commons--I expected every moment to see the "ike-penny Governor," as the Maories called him, subside into his boots, such was the torrent of eloquence and invective with which he was overwhelmed. The Lieutenant-Governor afterwards appeared at the Council table, but he was never after allowed to take any part in the administration of the Government of the country. On the day following this scene, I had just finished my report of the proceedings of the preceding day, and was taking the "copy" to the Independent office, when I was met by Dr Featherston, who desired to see my report, and we both went into Bannatyne's office opposite for that purpose. Judge then his surprise ana indignation when he found that I had devoted a very small space to Eyre and a very large space to Grey, much larger, as I subsequently found, than had been devoted to the latter in the columns of his own organ. I ought to have known, but I didn't till then, that such a proceeding on my part was unpardonable. The report was trampled in the gutter, and I was left to my own devices. In a few days after I was again earnestly requested to resume my duties; but in the meantime I found that the speech of the Lieutenant-Governor had been printed in pamphlet form, re-printed in a supplement, and dispatched by hundreds in a vessel which had put in at Wellington from Sydney, bound for England; the supplement also purporting to give a report of the speech of Sir George Grey, but in which all the more forcible and eloquent of his remarks were caricatured, or viley distorted, though in such a manner as to lead the reader to suppose that such a speech might really nave been delivered. The supplement also contained a series of resolutions which were said to have been passed by the Constitutional Association, denouncing, as usual, the Governor, and holding up the conduct of the Lieutenant-Governor to the forhearance of the Colonial Office, and the admiration of future ages. And this was the way public opinion was misrepresented, or manufactured, for home consumption at Barrett's hotel. The circumstance of a chance vessel going to England furnished too fine an opportunity to the Opposition for them not to avail themselves of it. Of course it was represented that the public were in ecstacies at the conduct of the Lieutenant-Governor, and

[Image of page 19]


more than ever indignant with the proceedings of the Governor-in-Chief.


Exciting Meeting of the Constitutional Association. --Retirement of Dr Featherston from the Independent. --Presentation to him of a Service of Plate. --Reduction in price of Land. --Sir G. Grey's Dispatch recommending Constitution for New Zealand.

BEFORE the Legislative Council terminated its sittings, a meeting of the Settler's Constitutional Association was convened for the purpose of expressing approval of the Pasturage Regulations then before the Council. This was the first time that Association expressed approval of anything Sir George Grey had said or done, and the circumstance was probably in Dr Featherston's mind when, some years after, he denied that he had ever opposed Sir George Grey, except on the question of his witholding Representative institutions from the Colony. Be this as it may, at that meeting Dr Featherston stood up and spoke in the highest terms of the liberality of the Regulations in question. He was followed by Mr Revans, who said however, he might differ politically from Sir George Grey he could bear his testimony to the fact that there was no man in the Southern Seas who so well understood the pastoral question as the Governor-in-Chief. This brought up Mr Fitzherbert, who ventured to differ with what had been advanced by Dr Featherston and Mr Revans. He considered the taking possession of the lands of the province under these boasted Regulations would be unjust to the land purchaser and detrimental to colonization. Let the squatter, he said, be the pioneer of settlement, but when the land he occupied was wanted for the latter purpose he must move further afield. There was no provision, he said, in those Regulations to meet such a contingency--to supply so grave a necessity--and therefore in spite of all the howling of all the runholders in the room he would not vote for a resolution that expressed approval of them. He would not give his sanction to all the plains and valleys in the country being occupied under depasturing licenses. Let the said squatters occupy the hills, and let the plains and valleys be reserved for an agricultural population. At the conclusion of these remarks, which were frequently interrupted, a scene of confusion ensued, which Dr Featherston himself, though powerfully backed by Captain Rhodes, found it difficult to allay. The former said, in effect, that though the Regulations themselves did not provide any remedy against the evil feared, the Hundred Ordinance did, and the two ought to be read together. So soon, he said as any runs were required for sale and settlement they would be constituted into Hundreds, when the licenses for any land comprised within the boundaries of those Hundreds, would cease and determine. I call attention to this meeting because it shews that the two men who afterwards had the administration of the Waste Lands of the Province, the one as Superintendent and the other as Crown Lands Commissioner, were well aware that Sir George Grey's present Pasturage and subsequent Land Regulations and the Hundred Ordinance were required to be read together.

Soon after the close of the General Legislative Council. I became permanently connected with the Independent Office, as general and shipping reporter, sub-editor, &c. Dr Featherston still continuing, until about May the following year, to write the leading articles, when he suddenly announced to the proprietors that he had ceased to be a contributor to the Independent. What were his reasons for taking this course were at the time variously conjectured; but I can state of my

[Image of page 20]


own knowledge that he never after contributed to its leading columns, though for several years he was generally suspected of occasionally doing so. The reasons which I was requested by the proprietary to publicly assign were of a private or professional nature; but I always suspected that the ungrateful treatment he had experienced at the hands of those who had been principally benefited by his exertions in securing additional compensation to the resident land purchasers from the New Zealand Company, coupled with the fact that it had come to his knowledge, through Colonel McCleverty, as member of the Executive Council, that Sir George Grey had recommended a Representative Constitution for the Colony more liberal by far than any the settlers themselves had ever ventured to demand, had a great deal to do with his resignation of the editorial chair. This I know, that he imparted this information to me shortly after his retirement in the very words given above.

Some time before my arrival in the Colony Dr Featherston had succeeded in extorting the above additional compensation from the New Zealand Company on behalf of its land purchasers, and the holders of its land orders, resident in the Colony. For his exertions on that occasion it was resolved to present him with a service of plate, which was ordered from England and consisted of two large silver salvers appropriately inscribed. It was publicly notified that this service of plate would be presented to him at two o'clock on a particular afternoon at Barrett's Hotel. I attended in my capacity of reporter, and at the hour appointed there was scarcely anyone present except James Smith, Major Baker, Dr Featherston and myself. The first named gentleman volunteered to go and fetch Mr Hickson, who had been Chairman of the Compensation Committee; but for some reason or other he declined to be present, and eventually Major Baker was called to the Chair, and in a few complimentary terms presented the plate to Dr Featherston. The latter, in returning thanks, took advantage of the occasion to shew the benefits which the issue of the Compensation Scrip had not only conferred on its recipients, but on the Colony also by virtually reducing the price of land, and placing its acquisition within the easy reach of all classes. The small attendance could in part be accounted for by the inconvenient hour chosen for the presentation, as a large audience never could be got together at that hour of the day, but for all that I had reason to suspect it had a painful effect on his mind. That small attendance reflected no discredit upon Dr Featherston, though it did upon those who had been enormously benefitted through his able exertions on their behalf.

The above allusion to the reduction in the price of Crown lands, then 20s per acre, served me for the key-note of my leaders in the Independent; but with the reduction in the price of land I also advocated a reduction in the size of the sections lo be offered for sale, in order that the working settlers might be able to secure the great object of their ambition in emigrating to New Zealand. On the 4th March of the following year (1853) Sir George Grey issued his celebrated Cheap Land Regulations of which I shall have more to say bye-and-by. In 1851, though the fact was not generally known in the Colony until twelve or eighteen months after, Sir George Grey had sent home an able dispatch in which he sketched a form of Government for New Zealand. In that dispatch he acknowledged that at first he supposed the Provincial Councils would merge into a kind of municipal councils; "but," he went on to observe, "the rapid growth of these settlements in wealth and prosperity, and the turn events are taking now lead me to think they

[Image of page 21]


will always remain distinct and separate Provinces." This, it should be observed, was in 1851, more than twelve months before the Constitution Act was passed, and that, in his opinion, the progress of the country, and its growth in population and wealth were reasons for the retention and not for the abolition of the provincial system he had recommended.

In that despatch he informed Earl Grey that he had made provisions for the division of the country into Hundreds, and that those Hundreds were intended by him to be united into larger municipalities with extended powers, while the latter themselves were intended to constitute large subdivisions of the several provinces, and not to be substitutes for them. In other words he proposed a system of County, as well as of Provincial and Municipal Government, of which the several Hundreds should constitute wards. What Sir George Grey proposed in the despatch above referred to was that there should be a General Legislature consisting of two chambers both of which to be elective; at elected Superintendent and Provincial Council for each of the five provinces into which he proposed the colony should be divided: and Municipal Institutions, not in substitution of, but in addition to the Provincial Councils. These Municipal Institutions, he proposed, should be of three kinds, one of these being a system of small municipalities for the local Government of hundreds, and another being the constitution of municipalities of the nature of those existing in Great Britain, but with more extended powers. "These," said he, would embrace several hundreds, which, however, should still preserve their own privileges as hundreds, and elect their own wardens; although for a higher and more extended class of municipal duties they would be adopted as wards into the larger corporation or county. Such were the proposals of Sir George Grey, in 1851, and had they been carried out by those who came after him, the outlying districts of the several Provinces would not only have had secured to them one-third of the gross proceeds of the land sales; not only would they have enjoyed the fullest powers of local, county, and provincial government; but they would have been the means of effectually preventing that land monopoly and land speculation which were afterwards so rife, and which nothing probably but a land tax will be found adequate to cure. But had Sir George Grey's proposals been faithfully carried out, the Colony would have been in a very different position, politically, socially, and materially to what it is now. It would have been in the enjoyment of a system of real local and representative government. Neither colonial nor provincial centralisation would have been possible; and none of the other evils which have sprung from what is known as provincialism and centralism could have been inflicted on the country. It is well that these facts should be borne in mind, and it is well that I should be able to give them publicity, at a time when the character of a great man, the political equality which we have hitherto enjoyed, and the constitutional history of the Colony, are all alike being deliberately tampered with by reckless men for the worst of purposes.

It may surprise some of my readers, who knew how intimate my official and political relations with Dr Featherston subsequently were, that I should speak as I have done with regard to his conduct towards Sir George Grey during his first administration of the Government of the Colony; but their surprise will be less when they read how Dr Featherston himself declared, on Sir George's return to the Colony, "that he he was the greatest benefactor the Colony ever had." The truth, however, is

[Image of page 22]


that before the Constitution Act was proclaimed in 1853 no political or official relations had existed between us; while then I had no idea, nor had I indeed for some time after, that his great object in administering the Waste Lands would be to secure a revenue from their sale, and to protect the supposed interests of the runholders against the real interests of the people at large. His speech at the meeting of the Constitutional Association, referred to at the commencement of this chapter, and more particularly his speech on opening the first session of the Wellington Provincial Council, led me to expect that he would have adopted a totally opposite course. But our views on Colonial politics, and more especially on the subject of Provincial Institutions, were always in unison, as they were on the question of the reduction in the price of land, and--at the commencement of his Provincial administration--on the necessity of a land tax to check land speculation and monopoly. But these matters relate to a much later period than that to which I have been referring.



The Abandonment of the Auckland Isles. -- Lieutenant-Governor Enderby. -- Arrival of Judge Stephen. --First Press Prosecution. A Lawyer fined for giving bad advice. -- Lunatic Asylum, --Reclaimed Land. --Australian Gold Discoveries. --Arrival of Mr Wakefield.

BEFORE the Constitution Act was brought into practical operation Mr Edward Gibbon Wakefield, "the founder of the Colony," and the author of the "sufficient price" land system arrived at Wellington. But prior to that event there had been other occurrences of more or less historic interest. Lieutenant-Governor Enderby, with the South Sea Whaling Company's Commissioners and whaling fleet, arrived in the Schooner Black Dog from the Auckland Islands, both the settlement and enterprise there having proved a miserable failure. Just before this Judge Chapman had retired from the New Zealand Bench to take the appointment of Colonial Secretary of Van Dieman's Land, which he had received from Home; and Judge Stephen, who had a short time previously been appointed, by a freak of the Colonial Office, Judge at Otago, where there was little or nothing for him to do, came up to Wellington to take the seat vacated by Mr Justice Chapman. Before leaving Port Chalmers for Wellington Judge Stephen committed an assault on a settler there, and excused himself for having done so on the ground that he could not wait to obtain redress by "the slow and tardy process of the law." Such an excuse for committing a breach of the peace from the lips of a judge may appear incredible, and, though well authenticated, it would probably have escaped the criticism of the press had it not been for an incident which is worth recording, not only because it illustrates a state of affairs which has long since happily passed away, but because it gave rise to the first press prosecution which had then taken place in New Zealand.

In those days the largest drapers shop on Lambton Quay was kept by Mr Samuel Robinson. Now it so happened that he, among others, had been summoned to serve on the petty jury at the sittings of the Supreme Court, and at the same time Mr Charles Clifford, one of the most influential members of the Constitutional Association, was summoned to serve on the grand jury. On their names being called over both were found to be absent, and each of them, as a consequence, was fined £5. Subsequently, however, the fine in Mr Clifford's case was remitted, on the former explaining that he had gone

[Image of page 23]


up the coast and had been prevented from returning in time. Mr Robinson felt "riled" at the different treatment meted out by the judge to the shopkeeper and squatter, and, as was not uncommon in those days, he gave vent to his feelings through the correspondence columns of the Independent. In the letter he sent to that journal he referred to the words the Judge had made use of in Otago in justification for his having committed a breach of the peace. For this offence Mr Robinson, who had signed the letter with his own name--and which for that reason, contrary to my earnest advice, had been printed without any alterations or omissions --and Mr McKenzie, one of the proprietors of the Independent, were summoned for contempt of Court, though no Court had been sitting at the time, nor had it been for some time previous. While the case was pending, Dr Evens, one of the first settlers at Port Nicholson, but who had been long absent from the Colony, returned to Wellington from London, and appeared in Court as counsel for Mr McKenzie, Mr King having been previously retained by Mr Robinson. In the meantime great excitement prevailed; public meetings were held, and trial by jury, and the liberty of the press, were both loudly if not ably advocated. The upshot was, that Mr King was fined £20 for giving his client bad advice, his client was mulct in a similar penalty, while both Mr McKenzie and Mr Robinson were imprisoned until they had answered certain interrogatories to the satisfaction of the Court. This having been expeditiously accomplished they were both released from confinement. Dr Evans, who had been an able contributor to one of the London weekly papers during his residence in London, long kept up a wordy war against the Judge and his illegal proceedings in the leading columns of the Independent, and he never relinquished his hold over those columns until some time after Mr Gibbon Wakefield's arrival in the Colony. It is worthy of remark that all the time this agitation lasted the leading members of the Constitutional Association maintained an ominous silence, though there is reason to believe that more than one of them were aware that Judge Stephen was insane at the time, though the fact never leaked out until after his death, which took place some two or three years later.

There was one beneficial result from this extraordinary case. On finding on my visit to the gaol that there were several lunatics confined I called public attention to the fact, and threatened to direct the attention of the people of England to it through the columns of the Times. This induced Sir George Grey, who until the preceding year had been a comparative stranger in Wellington, and who had had so many other public affairs to attend to, to take immediate action in the matter; but the evil was not remedied until after Dr Featherston had been installed Superintendent, when the negotiations for the purchase of premises at Karori for a Lunatic Asylum, which had been commenced by Sir George Grey, were successfully completed by the Provincial Government.

It was about this time, too, that Sir George Grey commenced the reclamation of land on Lambton Harbor, opposite the present office of the New Zealand Times. A portion of this land was sold by auction to cover the cost of the undertaking, and a portion was reserved--that portion nearest the head of the bay--for an endowment for a college and grammar school.

But by far the most important event which had occurred about this period was the discovery of gold first at Bathurst, in New South Wales, and soon after at Mount Alexander in the then new colony of Victoria. The excitement in the whole of New Zealand was intense. Merchants and

[Image of page 24]


capitalists became alarmed lest the colony should be depopulated, and the Government was invoked to bring the Passenger Act into operation, with the view of putting a check on the working classes leaving the colony. In vain had I urged in the leading columns of the Independent that "GOLD WAS THE GREAT COLONISER," and that New Zealand could not fail to participate to the fullest extent in all the advantages those discoveries would confer, without being subjected, except in a limited degree, to the evils they might temporary produce. But it was all to no purpose. Subsequently it was my task, through the columns of the Advertiser, to try to dissipate a similar and less excusable scare on the part of the Wellington public when gold was discovered in Otago, but in neither case did I find that leading articles had any very appreciable effect. Even now much of the increase in the population, wealth and progress which is traceable to those gold discoveries is blindly ascribed to other agencies; just as we find English Political Economists ascribing to the works of Adam Smith what was due to the inventions of Awkwright and Watt; or just as we find the Constitution Act ascribed to the exertions of the Settler's Constitutional Association instead of to the genius and patriotism of Sir George Grey. Nothing could more convince me of the localisation of the functions of the brain, and that the faculty of memory is distinctly associated with each function, than the difficulty I have had in the course of this narrative in remembering dates. The truth here referred to has been long insisted upon by phrenologists, and is now I find being recognised by the more eminent physiologists and psycohologists; for if this were not the case, how can the circumstance be accounted for that while I have a vivid recollection of places and events my memory for dates and figures should be found to be so very defective. I can consequently only conclude that Mr Gibbon Wakefield arrived in the Colony not earlier than May, 1853, from the circumstance that the numerously signed requisition to Dr Featherston asking him to be a candidate for the Superintendency had been publicly presented to him before Mr Wakefield's arrival; and that, therefore, though too late to be a candidate himself for that office, he had ample time to canvass the Hutt district as a candidate for the Provincial Council, the elections for which came off early in August. Surely the exact date of his arrival in the Colony is more worthy of being recorded in almanacs than many less important events; but it would appear that his very existence would now be forgotten, if not for the spasmodic efforts made to revive his memory by his only and unfortunate son Jerningham. and with it his exploded "sufficient price" system.

On the morning after the arrival in the harbor of the ship Minerva with Mr Gibbon Wakefield on board, I had occasion to call on business at the residence of Mr Clifford who had come up in her from Lyttelton. After transacting the business which had taken me to his house, Mr Clifford informed me that Mr Gibbon Wakefield had arrived, and was waiting on board to see whether he would be accorded a public reception. He said "I am now going to consult with Dr Featherston as to what form the reception shall take, whether a public demonstration on landing, an address of welcome, or some other public recognition of his services as the founder of the Colony." We were then walking together over Thorndon Flat, he to the then residence of Dr Featherston, I towards my then residence on the Beach. Shortly after an address was hawked about for signature, welcoming Mr Gibbon Wakefield to Wellington as the founder of the Colony, and containing a well

[Image of page 25]


merited and grateful acknowledgment of the many eminent and valuable services he had rendered to the settlers of New Zealand. The first name on the address was that of I. E. Featherston, by whom doubtless the address itself had been written. He was subsequently officially reminded of the fact by Acting-Governor Wynyard; but the fact I am at present concerned with is, that Mr Wakefield would have been allowed to land, unhonored and unrecognised, on the shores of the first and principal settlement in New Zealand which he had been principally instrumental in founding, had he not himself insisted that some recognition should be vouchsafed to him. As it was the thing was done as quietly and with as bad a grace as possible. Dr Featherston well knew, if Mr Clifford did not, that in welcoming Gibbon Wakefield, he was welcoming a man who would, if his health were spared to him, prove a formidable rival.



N. Z. Mail on Provincial Institutions. --Mr Fox on the Constitution Act. --Alterations made on his recommendation. --Mr Gladstone on Provincial Councils. --On an elected Upper House. --Sir George Grey the author of the Act. His recommendations as to the Waste Lands. Responsible Government a costly sham.

AS a great deal of misapprehension prevails relative to the parties to whom the colony was indebted for the most liberal constitution that at that time had ever been granted by the British Crown, I intend to devote the present chapter to the elucidation of the subject. Before doing so, however, I will give an extract from a leading article which appeared in the New Zealand Mail in 1871, of which journal I was then the editor, with the object of shewing that the views I then entertained with regard to the authorship of the Constitution, which was, be it noted, some years before Sir George Grey's reappearance in the public arena were the same as I hold now. After stating that falsehoods, by dint of constant repetition, sometimes get so deeply imbedded in the human mind that it will take centuries to dislodge them, I go on to observe:-- "At last, however, the disinterment of some buried document, or the deciphering of some musty records, render it clear that what had been so long and generally credited had no better foundation than some impudent forgery or baseless report, that had escaped, for some reason or other, contemporary examination and exposure. There seems to be some danger that the same thing will occur in our day relative to the persons to whom we owe provincial institutions. We are of opinion that it would be no difficult matter to show that the assertion, made by Mr Fitzherbert, "that they were won after a hard struggle, protracted over many years," was not strictly accurate. If this had been the case they would most certainly have been more highly prized. The error has arisen in confounding two distinct things, which are not necessarily connected together. It was representative government which was demanded by the Constitutional Association; but provincial institutions were obtained for the Colony by Sir George Grey, in opposition to the expressed wishes of the very men who have since obtained the whole credit for their introduction. A reference to his despatches to Earl Grey on the form of government best suited to New Zealand, and to a file of the Wellington Independent for 1851, when the Provincial Councils Ordinance was before the then General Legislature, will prove the truth of this statement. Let credit be given where credit is due. The gentlemen, who were subsequently known as the three F.'s, opposed alike the author of the Constitution Act, and the

[Image of page 26]


provincial institutions he recommended for the Colony. It was not until they had secured power under them that they were able to appreciate their merits. The public are not always just, because they are seldom afforded the means of forming correct opinions as regards public men or public events. It must, however, be admitted that if they were not so willing to be deceived, deception would be more difficult, and less general, than is the case at present. They look only at results, and do not trouble themselves about the successive steps that have to be taken before those results can be arrived at. They seldom think of the exertions and merits of those who clear the bush, plough the land, and sow the seed; and honor those only who perform the far easier and more grateful task of gathering in the harvest. So with public men and popular measures. It is those who secure them, not those who have prepared the public mind for their advent, who are regarded. The "hard struggle" to which Mr Fitzherbert referred was a struggle between those who upheld, in the then state of the Colony, the principle of nomination, and those who supported the principle of popular election. Amidst the din and clamor made by the contending parties, the term "provincial institutions" was never once heard; and denunciations of nomineeism, ridicule of the nominees, and never-ending praises of the representative system, furnished the stock-in-trade of the popular party. The term "provincialism" was first coined by Mr Sewell in a letter he addressed to the Duke of Newcastle in 1853, which was some time after the Constitution Act had been partly brought into operation. And it may perhaps be looked upon as a noteworthy fact, that those who so strongly denounced nomineeism, and so stoutly upheld the principle of popular election, have never once raised their voices against the one since they attained political power by means of the other. A combination of fortunate circumstances favored the inauguration of the provincial system of government, and at the same time constituted the causes which prolonged the hostility and jealousy which their good fortune had provoked. The manner the Constitution Act was brought into operation, the delay which took place in summoning the General Assembly, the presence at Auckland of a merely ad interim administration, the arrival of successful and unsuccessful gold seekers in the Colony, the enormous rise which took place at the time in timber and all New Zealand produce, and so far as this Province was concerned, the purchase of, and opening for settlement, the large and level district of Wairarapa, all tended to give strength and prominence to provincial institutions, and eclat and funds to those who exercised authority under them."

It will be noticed in the above extract that I refer to some remarks made by Mr Fitzherbert when assenting to become a candidate for the Superintendency, in which he stated that provincial institutions were won after a hard struggle protracted over many years, which I shew was not the case. In the following extract from a letter written by Mr Fox to the Chairman of the Constitutional Association, and dated Parthenon Club. June 22, 1852, less excusable mistatements are made. He says:-- "I sincerely congratulate my fellow-colonists on having obtained so large an instalment of the powers of self-government. The result is due to their own steady and persevering adherence to the great principles of freedom; to their undeviating resistance to the attempt of Governor Grey to put them off with half measures, and to corrupt their independence by the lavish distribution of patronage. If he succeeded with some who were once the champions of your liberties, it is satisfactory to

[Image of page 27]


reflect that the great bulk of the colonists of all classes have stood firmly by one another, and never flinched, in what, I hope, will prove to have been the very last struggle with organised and legalised despotism in the British dominions."

Both Mr Fox and Mr Gibbon Wakefield took to themselves great credit for having long and anxiously watched the Constitutional Bill during its passage through Parliament, and of having been the means of effecting many and great improvements in it. Whereas all the former did was to get Taranaki made a separate province, and all the second did, which many will now think also a doubtful improvement, was to back up Mr Gladstone in getting the Superintendents elected by the people instead of being nominated by the Crown, as proposed by the Tory Government in opposition to the recommendation of Sir George Grey. In supporting the second reading of the Bill Mr Gladstone said:-- "With fairness, and without any unjust insinuation, he thought it creditable to the Government, not because it went back to the system of the Rhode Island Charter, but because it showed an intention to approximate to that system, and because it conceded a larger measure of freedom than had hitherto been granted to the colonies. In stating what he considered to be the distinguishing merits of the bill, he was obliged in the first place, to state that he differed from his honorable friend (Sir William Molesworth) who complained of the bill because it recognised the existence of local settlements, and who proposed that they should be abrogated, and that power should be given to the Central Legislature to dispose of them as it should deem fitting. On the contrary he (Mr Gladstone) thought that the recognition of these local settlements was one of the greatest virtues and merits of the measure. When he saw how much the strength of the American Union depended upon the independence of the different States, he was not ashamed to say that this recognition of small communities was, in his view, one of the fundamental merits of this bill, and was a point which appeared to him to be an advance over their previous measures of colonial legislation.

In referring to the Nominee Chamber Mr Gladstone said:-- "In this respect the right hon. baronet's plan had degenerated from that of his predecessor in office. It was, he believed, the intention of Lord Grey (as recommended by Sir George Grey) that the Legislative Council of New Zealand should be composed of persons elected by the local Legislatures of the separate districts. Whence did his Lordship derive that idea? From the United States; and in turning to that quarter he resorted to the best fountain of instruction to which he could have recourse. If there was one thing in the Constitution of the United States which more than all others entitled the great authors of that astonishing work to the gratitude of their countrymen and to fame as wide and lasting as the world, it was the system adopted for the election of the Senate by introducing the principle of election, not according to the numbers of population, but by separate States, thereby counterbalancing the principle of purely popular election." Mr Gladstone did not succeed in getting the Legislative Council made elective, but he did succeed in getting the office of Superintendent made elective, and in excising from the Bill the stipulation that the salary of Superintendent should be £500 a year, Mr Fox having assured him that many colonists would be found to accept the office for the honor and glory of the thing.

The fact is, that a draft of a Constitution Act had been drawn up by Earl Grey prior to February, 1852, from a dispatch of Sir George Grey

[Image of page 28]


sent to him the preceding year; but before it could be submitted to the House the Ministry, of which Earl Grey was a member, had to resign office, and the Derby Ministry of that year was installed in its stead, with Sir John Pakington as Secretary for the Colonies. That gentleman got a Bill drafted on the basis of that of Earl Grey, in which he made sundry alterations in the direction of the abridgment of popular liberties. One or two of these alterations were rejected by Parliament, which made one or two alterations itself, one of those being the establishment of six instead of five Provinces. Another alteration made in Sir George Grey's proposals was the handing over to the General Assembly, consisting of two Chambers, one of which would necessarily be composed of large stock owners and pastoral tenants of the Crown, the entire control of the Waste Lands. This concession was hailed at the time by the Colonial reformers in the House of Commons, and by Colonists then resident in London, with the liveliest feelings of satisfaction and gratitude--the latter being of that kind which is said to consist of a keen sense of favors or benefits to come. Sir George Grey proposed that great powers over the Crown Lands and the revenue derived from them should be vested in the Governor, "who," he said, "should alone be entrusted with the power of issuing orders regarding the temporary occupation of Crown lands for depasturing purposes." He thought, also, that the distribution of the Crown land revenue should be made under the direction of the Governor-in-Chief. Of course there would be no advantage in him having these powers if he could only exercise them by and with the advice and consent of a misnamed Responsible Ministry; but such a costly sham formed no part of his recommendations. From the foregoing it will be gathered who was the principal author of the Constitution Act--"an Act," to quote the language of Mr Gladstone, "which conceded a larger measure of freedom than had been hitherto granted to the Colonies."



The Company's Laborers. --The "Sufficient Price" System. --Destitution and Insubordination at Nelson and New Plymouth. -- The Company's Treatment of its Laborers. --The Australian Cold Discoveries. --Native leaseholders.

IN the present and two following chapters I intend to say something of the material condition of the Company's laborers in the earlier days of the Colony, and of the subsequent establishment of many of them and their children as small farm settlers in the Wairarapa. I shall then return to the political history of the Province of Wellington, and, incidently, that of the Colony also, including in it the civil and waste lands administration of Dr Featherston during bis first term of office

It must be understood that it was not the intention of the New Zealand Company that the laborers sent out under its auspices should either occupy or acquire laud on their own account; and to prevent the latter from being accomplished such "a sufficient price" was put upon it as the Company thought would, for some time at least, prevent such acquisition. How the system would have worked had the greater portion of the Company's land purchasers, by whose funds a large body of laborers were sent out, themselves have emigrated to New Zealand, I shall not undertake to determine. That it broke down, so far as the settlements of Wellington, Nelson, and New Plymouth were concerned had to be openly, avowed by the Company's agents, and that it would also have broken down in

[Image of page 29]


Otago and Canterbury, had it not been for the Australian and New Zealand gold discoveries, I have not myself the slightest doubt. Be this as it may, it was soon discovered that more laborers had been sent out than there was capital to employ them, and consequently even Colonel Wakefield, the Company's Principal Agent had to admit that, owing to the deficiency of settlers possessing capital there would shortly be no means to employ the laboring population, and consequently every facility and encouragement should be afforded to the occupation of land by agricultural workmen, on their own account, by the direction of roads through sections rented by them, on which they could employ their spare time. The object of both the Company and its land purchasers was to prevent the laborers sent out from either owning land or occupying it on their own account. It was not long, however, after the arrival of the early settlers at Wellington, Nelson, and New Plymouth before this scheme of preventing the laboring classes from becoming at least the occupiers of land on their own account had to be considerably modified "It has already become necessary"--says Mr Fox in a letter addressed to Colonel Wakefield under date November 1st, 1843 --"it has already become necessary to depart very far from the principles upon which the colonisation of New Zealand was undertaken, and recent events have rendered it still more difficult to carry out any system preconceived at home for the regulation of the affairs of the settlement." In fact, as both Colonel Wakefield and Mr Fox admitted, more labor had been introduced than there was capital to employ it, and consequently great distress prevailed amongst the laboring classes of Wellington, Nelson, and New Plymouth. Those who sneer at the claims of the "early settlers" would do well to reflect on this admission of Mr Fox:-- "The prospects held out to them on leaving heme have unfortunately not been realised, and probably few of them contemplated the possibility of their being obliged to resort to navigators' work as their resource. To mechanics and the better class of agricultural laborers who expected ample employment in their own occupations, and an early advancement to a superior station, this result must be one of considerable disappointment." The following description of the state of the Nelson settlement from the same pen would be found more or less applicable to that of Wellington also. He says:-- "It is impossible not to perceive that with the disproportionate amount of private capital and labor in this settlement, the termination of the expenditure of the public works fund must be attended with serious consequences, unless the laborers are in the meantime rendered in some degree independant by the occupation and cultivation of land. The private capitalists complain a little of the public works affording a temptation to laborers to leave their service; but unless they can hold out the prospect of being themselves able to employ all the labor in the settlement when the public works fund is expended (of which there is no chance) I think it would be a short-sighted policy to deprive the laborers of the opportunity of rendering themselves in some degree independent. In the meantime, though the rate of wages is kept rather high, private employers paying eighteen shillings a week for an entire week's work, I have not found that any difficulty exists in their obtaining laborers at that rate."


In another letter by Mr Fox, giving notes of an interview with Major Richmond, the Government Agent, the social and material condition of the "Company's laborers" may be pretty

[Image of page 30]


accurately ascertained:-- "Conversation then ensued relative to the maintenance of an increased police force; and it was pointed out to Major Richmond that, 'independently of the danger apprehended from the natives, the laboring class was entirely beyond control; and they had recently set law at defiance, presented loaded fire arms at the Police Magistrate and constables, and were only kept quiet by being permitted to do as they pleased.' Major Richmond asked 'if the Company were not bound to employ them?' Mr Fox replied, however that might be, the Company had a right to expect a return of labor for the fund expended upon them; at present, little or no return was obtained; that the course which had of late been pursued with regard to the laboring class could be justified by no honest man, except under an absolute impossibility to pursue any other course; and that experience had shown that any attempt to tighten the reins would induce riot, breaking open of the stores, loss of life, in short the ruin of the settlement." Turning to the settlement of New Plymouth no improvement in the social and material condition of "the Company's laborers" is observable. Mr Wicksteed, the Company's Agent, under date October 31st, 1843, says he was engaged in a perpetual conflict with a large number of emigrants arising out of his endeavors to reduce the Company's expenditure. He then makes the following damning admission:-- "You are aware that the emigrants to this settlement hold what they call "embarkation orders," being a sort of handbill, signed "Thomas Woolcombe," in which is it is distinctly stated, that the Company's agent "will at all times, give them employment in the service of the Company if from any cause they should be unable to obtain it elsewhere." Being unable to give any other interpretation to this promise than the words quoted seemed to imply; and yet bearing in mind that the Court of Directors view their engagement in a different light, I endeavored to evade it by sending the applicants for employment a long distance from home, making no allowance for time spent in the journey, or for time lost in bad weather. The necessities of the men and their families were such as compelled them to submit for several weeks to these conditions; but many came home sick, and claimed the promised medical aid; and others commenced the trade of pig and sheep stealing; not having yet had time to raise potatoes for themselves. It then appeared to me that the parties were really "destitute," and I endeavored to find employment for them from the landholders, by paying their wages in part. This arrangement has been so far successful as to produce a large addition to the land under crop; and when the period of harvest arrives, the landowners, I suppose, will be obliged to take nearly all the laborers off my hands, at a rate of wages which will prevent destitution." Such was the result of the boasted "sufficient price system," under which a larger number of laborers were imported than there were means to employ them, and by means of which it was the avowed object of the Company "to prevent laborers becoming landholders too soon." No improvement was effected in the material and social condition of the Company's immigrants until after the arrival of Captain Grey, as Governor of the colony, Nov. 18, 1845; when confidence was soon restored, and when a large number of 100 acre sections at the Hutt, Karori, Porirua &c, were subdivided and let or leased to the laborers either with or without purchasing clauses. These they continued to occupy at a heavy rental and with more or less success, until the discovery of gold in New South Wales and Victoria so enormously raised the price of timber and farm produce, as to place these leaseholders

[Image of page 31]

above the reach of want. A considerable number of these 'Company's laborers," and subsequent occupiers of small sections at the Hutt, Karori, and other districts in the neighborhood of Wellington, subsequently constituted the bulk of the more successful Small Farm settlers of the Wairarapa.


So long ago as September, 1843, at a meeting held at Wellington it was resolved "that the settlers of Port Nicholson require immediately an extensive district in which to depasture their increasing flocks and herds; and that the Company's principal agent be requested to adopt forthwith the measures necessary to render approachable and to open for sale the district of the Wydrop." In transmitting this resolution to the Court of Directors Colonel Wakefield wrote: "I have before brought under the notice of the Court of Directors the importance of opening the Wairarapa valley by means of a road up that of the Hutt. A very respectable deputation from the settlers have again urged upon me the want of room for depasturing flocks and herds in this wooded district, and the great advantages to the settlement to be ensured by laying open for sale a large block in the above-mentioned open, grassy plains. Numerous applications for the purchase of land, and for licenses for depasturing cattle there, have been made to me, and I have no doubt that either by means of an inland settlement formed upon a similar system as this, with a small town, or by selling the land here and in England simultaneously, the resources of the Company might be very sensibly increased. Nothing, however, can be effected towards this end unless a communication to the district be made." No step, however, having been taken in this direction a number of settlers, in open defiance of the law, and of repeated proclamations of the Government, went to the Wairarapa and occupied extensive portions of it, with their flocks and herds, under native leases. The following were the names of the principal Wairarapa settlers at, or soon after, the time I mention:-- Messrs Bidwill, Borlase, Burling, Cameron Bros., Collins, Donald, Gillies, Guthrie, Hume, Kelly, Langdon McMaster, Matthews, Morrison, Northwood, Pharazyn, Revans, Russell, Captain Smith, Strang, Sutherland, Tully, Waterson, and Wilson. Besides these, there were Mr Barton, of the Upper Hutt, and Mr Riddiford, of the Lower Hutt, who held native leases of runs on the East Coast; but they, as well as two or three Wellington settlers who held native leases also, chiefly on the East Coast, could not be considered residents of the Wairarapa. The whole of the Wairarapa, including the East Coast, was occupied by at most not more than thirty stockowners, at the time of the final surrender of their charter by the New Zealand Company, which took place in July, 1850. We will now briefly see how a change in this state of things was effected.

Previous section | Next section