1877 - Wakelin, R. History and Politics - [Chapters XVI-XX], p 54-68

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  1877 - Wakelin, R. History and Politics - [Chapters XVI-XX], p 54-68
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[Pages 54-68]

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Five important facts to be remembered. -- N. Z. Company's debt. --Lord John Russell's despatch. --Financial proposals of Mr Fox. --Sewell's Financial Resolutions. -- Reasons why they were carried. --The transaction a gigantic swindle.

I NOW return from the consideration of Waste Lands administration in the Province of Wellington to a subject of no less importance, namely, the proceedings of the General Assembly in the session held in 1856, when what has since been known as the "Financial Compact" was adopted, and the Colonial Land Revenue was Provincialised. For the right understanding of this important question it is necessary that the following facts should be kept constantly in view. (1). That while at the date of this arrangement the native title to nearly the whole of the native lands in the Middle Island had been extinguished; that title had not been extinguished over more than a small portion of the lands in the North Island. (2;. That, under these circumstances, it had been wisely and equitably provided by the Constitution Act that the cost of the extinguishment of native title should be defrayed out of the general land fund and not out of that of the particular Province in which the land was purchased. (3). That under the Constitution Act the land receipts, equally with the customs duties, were Colonial revenue, and as such subject to the appropriation of the General Assembly. (4). That up to the date of this arrangement the Middle Island out of its customs revenue only contributed two-ninths, while the North Island contributed seven-ninths of the cost of the General Government. (5). That the Crown Lands were handed over to the General Assembly subject to the payment of a debt said to be due to the New Zealand Company amounting to £668,000, and for the payment of which one-fourth of the gross proceeds of all land sales were to be impounded until the principal and interest of that sum had been paid. Unless the whole of these facts are constantly borne in mind, and more especially that one relating to the question of native title, a right understanding of the important changes effected by the financial arrangements I am going now to refer to will never be arrived at. It will also be necessary to remember that up to that time the Colony had been in a state of profound peace for ten years past; that then no Native Land League had been formed, and no Native Lands Act had been passed; that gold had not been discovered in Otago; and that a debt of half a million was looked upon then with more astonishment and dismay than a debt of twenty millions is now. It is also not unworthy of notice, as shewing why such men as Sewell, Fitzgerald, and Co. were so anxious to impose the whole cost of the General Government on the customs duties alone, that at the date of this arrangement (I shall use a more truthful and expressive term by-and-bye) the customs revenue of the Province of Wellington alone exceeded that of the three Provinces of the Middle Island put together! After these necessary preliminary remarks I can with more confidence proceed to narrate how one of the most gigantic swindles in modern history was accomplished.

Five years before the Constitution Act was introduced, an Act had been passed to promote colonisation in New Zealand, and to authorise a loan to the New Zealand Company. By virtue of that Act, and of a notice given on the 4th of July, 1850, by the New Zealand Company in pursuance of such Act, the sum of £268,370, with interest, became charged upon and payable to that company out of the proceeds of the sales of the demesne lands of the Crown in New

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Zealand. It was consequently enacted by the 74th clause of the Constitution Act, that upon nil sales of waste lands in New Zealand, one-fourth part of the gross proceeds should be paid to the New Zealand Company until their debt was discharged. The Constitution Act was passed in 1852, and in 1855 the representatives of the company made a proposal to Lord John Russell, the then Colonial Minister, that they would accept £200,000 if paid on or before the 5th April, 1857, and allow all moneys in their hands at that date in excess of the interest, to be applicable by way of reduction. The proposal Lord John transmitted in a despatch to Governor Browne which he received, while on a visit to Wellington, soon after his arrival in the Colony. This despatch in the original was shewn to Dr Featherston, and I took a hasty copy of it at his request within an hour after its receipt; but with strict injunctions of course not to divulge the nature of its contents. Lord John in this despatch recommended the Colonial Government to accept the proposal, and to enable it to do so, he offered the Imperial Government guarantee to a loan for the amount required. When this proposal of the Company, and offer of the Imperial Government became known in the Colony, much satisfaction was naturally expressed, as the payment of this debt was felt to be a serious burden on the Colony. It was, moreover, generally admitted that the province of Auckland, which had not benefitted by the Company's colonising operations, ought not to be called upon to pay anything towards liquidating their debt. That was the state of matters when the General Assembly met at Auckland in 1856.

Mr Fox, with the other Wellington members, and Mr Macandrew, Captain Cargill and his son, from Otago, sailed from Wellington I think in the steamer Nelson for Auckland on the 5th April, and on the 14th May Mr Fox, having previously secured the support of a majority of the Auckland members, proposed a resolution which embodied the following financial proposals:-- "That no less than two-thirds of the net Customs receipts ought to be secured by appropriation to the Provinces; that the appropriations of the General Assembly ought to be limited as much as possible consistently with the efficient exercise of the legitimate functions of the General Government, and that thereupon that Government should receive a contribution of two shillings and sixpence per acre, and no more, on all lands within the Colony." This resolution of Mr Fox's, strongly Provincial in its character, was carried on a division by a majority of one, when Mr Fox took took office. But in a few days after, Mr Travers in the meantime arriving from Nelson, Mr Stafford, on the 28th May, successfully moved a vote of want of confidence in Mr Fox's administration on account of its financial policy, and on the following day Mr Fox resigned, and his place was supplied by Mr Stafford, with whom were allied Messrs Sewell, Richmond and Whitaker. On the 21st June a series of resolutions were submitted to the House by Mr Sewell, the Colonial Treasurer, embodying the following propositions:-- That a loan not exceeding £500,000 should be raised in London on the security of the general and territorial revenue of the Colony; that £200,000 of this loan should be devoted to the paying off of the New Zealand Company's debt, the interest and sinking fund of which to be paid by the three Provinces of the Middle Island; that £200,000 be devoted to the extinguishment of native title in the North Island, the interest and sinking fund of £180,000 of which to be borne by the two principal North Island Provinces respectively, the other £20,000 being handed over to New Plymouth for the above purpose without charge, a guarantee being also given that that

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favored Province should be paid out of the general revenue a sum sufficient to make its gross land fund amount to not less than £2,200 in any one year. It was also resolved that the administration of the Waste Lands of each Province should in future be transferred to the Provincial Governments thereof, the land revenue, subject to the above charges, being made Provincial revenue, to be appropriated to such purposes as the Provincial Council should think fit. There voted for those resolutions:--

Ayes 19.
Mr Sewell
Mr Stafford
Mr Hall
Mr Domett
Major Greenwood
Mr Campbell
Mr Lee
Mr Cuff
Mr Travers
Mr Williamson
Mr East
Mr Wells
Mr Taylor
Mr Curtis
Mr Merriman
Mr Ludlam
Mr Carleton
Mr Brittan
Mr Richmond

Noes 10.
Captain Cargill
Mr Cargill
Mr Fitzherbert
Mr Fox
Mr Featherston
Mr Daldy
Mr Henderson
Mr Macandrew
Mr V. Smith
Mr D. Ward

It will be seen by the above division list that the whole of the members for Nelson and Canterbury voted for the resolutions, the members for the former having been brought up like a flock of sheep by Sewell, who offered them the seat of Government. It should also be remembered that the little town and suburbs of New Plymouth then sent to the Assembly as many members as the Province of Otago, and three times as many as the Wairarapa and Hawkes' Bay districts put together. It was also bribed with the offer of a free gift of £20,000 out of the proposed loan. At the same time the Province of Auckland was not only retrospectively as well as prospectively relieved from the N. Z. Company's debt, thus entitling it to a refund of the handsome sum of £40,000, but by voting for the iniquitous arrangement it helped to keep a Ministry in power pledged to maintain the seat of Government at Auckland. Those are the reasons which caused this arrangement of 1856 to be assented to by a majority of the House of Representatives against the indignant protests of the members for Wellington. This, then, was how the Southern provinces became possessed of their land revenue. Sewell and Stafford were supported by the votes of the whole of the members of the Provinces of Canterbury and Nelson, as well as by a large majority of those of Auckland, who naturally objected to paying anything to the New Zealand Company, and who were also naturally afraid of a Wellington Ministry being reinstated in power. The resolutions were not supported by the Otago members simply because they were pledged to support Mr Fox; and they were vigorously opposed by most of the Wellington members, who afterwards sent a written protest to the Queen against the whole arrangement. It will thus be seen that under the above resolutions the Middle Island, on condition of paying off the debt due to the New Zealand Company, for the half of which it was legally, and for the whole justly, liable, was in future to have the whole of its enormous land fund at its own disposal, while the cost of extinguishing Native title in the North Island, which had been previously a first charge on the land fund of the colony, was saddled on the land fund of the provinces of the North Island alone. Is not the term swindle too mild a term to apply to such a transaction as this?

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Localisation of the Net Land Revenue. -- The United States Congress views on the subject. --Horace Greeley's graphic description of a more excusable transaction. --Opposition of Wellington to the scheme. --Myself and the three F.'s. --Independent on Sewell's policy. --The object of the Middle Island members.

I HAVE not yet done with this iniquitous compact. It has been urged by its supporters that the right principle is to expend the net proceeds arising from the sale of the Waste Lands in the districts in which they have arisen. Yet, even in that case, it is clear that as the native title had only been extinguished over a small portion of the North Island, the fund for the purchase of the remainder ought to be provided out of the general land revenue, and not out of that of any particular province. Such a provision --a provision embodied in the Constitution Act--would not have prevented the remainder of the land revenue being localised, or from being expended in the districts from which it had been derived. This fact, however has been persistently ignored by the southern supporters of the financial swindle of 1856. In 1824, or only thirty-two years before the date of that iniquitous transaction, a somewhat similar attempt had been made in Congress by the Western States to get hold of the receipts from the sales of the public lands within their boundaries. A certain percentage was granted them for the construction of roads; but a majority in Congress up to 1850 resolutely opposed any attempt made to divert the land revenue into the State Exchequer. This process, which is here called by the attractive term of "localising the land revenue," found no favor in the United States Congress. In 1849 a measure was brought into Congress, the objects of which, and the results of which, are thus humorously and graphically described by the late lamented Mr Horace Greeley in his "Recollections of a Busy Life":--

"I was placed by the Speaker on the Committee on Public Lands, whereof Judge Collamer, of Vermont, was Chairman, and which was mainly composed of worthy, upright men, intent on standing up for public right against private greed. Various fair-seeming Bills and claims came before us, some of which had passed the Senate, yet which we put our heel on as barefaced robberies. At length there came along a meek, innocent-looking stranger, by whom we were nicely taken in and thoroughly done for. It was a Bill to cede to the several New States (so called) such portions of the unsold public lands within their limits respectively as were submerged or sodden, and thus rendered useless and pestilential; that is swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, &c These lands, we were told, were not merely worthless while undrained, they bred fever, ague, and all manner of zymotic diseases, shortening the lives of pioneers, and rendering good lands adjacent unhealthy and worthless. But cede these swamp lands to the States including them respectively, on condition that they should sell them and devote the proceeds to draining and improving them, and everything would be lovely; the neighboring dry lands would sell readily, and the Treasury be generously replenished. There was never a cat rolled whiter in meal, and I, for one, was completely duped. As I recollect, the Bill did not pass that session, but we reported strongly in its favor, anei that report, doubtless, aided to carry the measure through the next Congress. The consequence was, a reckless and fraudulent transfer to certain States of millions on millions of choice public lands, whole sections of which had not muck enough on their surface to accommodate a fair sized frog, while the appropriation of the proc-

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ceeds to draining proved a farce and a sham. The lands went, all of them that had standing water enough on a square mile of their surface to float a duck in March, with a good deal more beside, while never a shake of an ague has any pioneer been spared by reason of all the drainage done under this precious Act." From the tone of this extract it will be seen how jealously Congress had heretofore guarded, the public lands from State intermeddling and private greed, and to what devices the New States had recourse before they could succeed even in getting the swampy portions of them into their clutches.

It having been repeatedly stated in the leading columns of the Southern press, and more especially by the Lyttelton Times and the Otago Guardian, that the North actually chuckled at the bargain it had made, I took occasion in the Standard to call in question the truth of such statements and observed:-- "What we complain of is, the barefaced statement that the financial compact of 1856 was deemed at the time an advantageous bargain for the North, its representatives considering that they had done rather a smart stroke of business on behalf of their constituents. 'They were, at all events,' says the Times, 'fully satisfied with the bargain, for the tone of their remarks and those of the Northern papers at the time indicated a sort of silent chuckle over the South.' As the writer was editor of one of the Northern papers at the time he can assert fearlessly that the above statement is not true with regard to the whole of the Northern papers. And so far from the whole of the Northern members agreeing with the iniquitous proposal, as would be inferred from the remarks of our Lyttelton contemporary, the whole of the leading members of this Province, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives himself, protested against it, and did everything in their power to prevent it from receiving the sanction of the Crown. In truth the Financial Resolutions referred to were not supported by the House, but by the supporters of the then Ministry, the two most prominent members of which, Messrs Sewell and Stafford,, were representatives of Middle Island constituencies. But even if the whole House had given its sanction to the arrangement, it was competent for any succeeding Parliament to set it aside; and though Ministerial exigencies have hitherto prevented any prospect of this being accomplished the compact was virtually violated:-- First, by reason of the land league and native war, which put an end to North Island land purchases; and, secondly, by reason of the Native Lands Act which was passed six years after, when direct purchases from the natives by private parties, instead of, through the Government, were legalised, and the land revenues of the North Island consequently to a great extent annihilated. In any case after 1870, when Railways, Public Works and Immigration were undertaken by the General Government, those financial arrangements ought to have been no longer acted upon, and the territorial receipts equally with the customs duties ought to have been again treated as colonial revenue; though a certain percentage or the surplus, if necessary might have been handed over to the Provinces, then to be subjected to the appropriation of their respective Provincial Councils. This would have not only been in strict accordance with the Constitution, but also with the practice which prevails in the other Colonies as well as in the United States." And in referring to those remarks, and to the misstatements which called them forth, the New Zealand Times took occasion to observe: "Though we have at present retrained from exposing the gross perversion of facts by the Southern papers, our contemporary the Wairarapa Standard--than whom there is none more competent

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to deal with the subject--has gone into the question at length."

In the Independent of May 10, 1856 when the three F's were absent in Auckland, I refer to the charges that were repeatedly made that the principal articles in that journal were either written by them, or under their immediate direction, and observe:-- "If in advocating and defending popular rights and liberties we have found it necessary to support the policy and defend the conduct of the Provincial Executive against the unjust assault of their enemies, this was surely no fault of theirs, or ours. We can readily understand that they can have no satisfaction in having our articles ascribed to their pens, and in being held responsible for our opinions; but the gain, however, is not all ours; there has been a mutuality between us. If our articles have acquired the credit of having been written by such master minds, they may, from this cause, have acquired a popularity to which neither their measures nor administration are justly entitled. What those gentlemen lose in literary reputation, or political position, is returned to them in the shape of a larger measure of popular support and approval than they would have otherwise acquired or deserved." I made those remarks in order to prevent my comments on the speech which had just previously been made by Mr Sewell in his place in the General Assembly, then sitting at Auckland, from being supposed to be inspired by the three F's. I then remark:-- "We look upon the policy enunciated in the speech of Mr Sewell as the most damnable that could ever have been propounded. Under the pretence of securing the unity of the colony by the establishment of a strong Central Government, his evident aim and object is to divide the colony in twain, to destroy the great Charter of our liberties, and to sacrifice the northern to the advancement of the Middle Island. This has long been a favorite project of his. It was first broached by him in "a private and confidential" letter which was printed, we believe, at the Nelson Press three years ago, and circulated amongst those who were supposed to be either favorable to the writer's views, or desirous of destroying our Democratic Constitution. Instead of endeavoring to adjust and reconcile the differences between the Northern and Southern divisions of the colony, it is evidently his aim and intention, if possible, to render them in future irreconcilable. While professing to be desirous of making a great effort to secure the unity of the colony, he propounds a policy and advocates measures, which would render such a desideratum wholly impracticable. It is not union but division which he has in view. Separation, he would have us to believe, was inevitable, and he sets to work in right earnest to bring about the event predicted. He asserts that without we establish a peripatetic Government, it would be impossible to govern the Colony under our present Constitution. His aim, therefore, is not only to divide the colony, but to destroy our Constitution. "Even," says he, "should we be compelled ultimately to resort to so extreme an organic change as separation, we should not till the experiment has been fairly tried of the other alternative." But as if determined that the "other alternative" should not have a fair trial, and to make preparation for a division. at the earliest possible date, he would at once fix the southern capital in the Middle Island, where, in case of separation, it may be permanently established. "There," says he, "and at Auckland the Governor will have his residence, and at these two points the different departments of Government should be placed." It should be borne in mind that the speech referred to in the above extract was made only a short time before his financial resolution were proposed,

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and it will probably explain how it was that the whole of the Nelson members voted for them. In a subsequent article, under date June 25, before the financial resolutions had been proposed at Auckland, I refer to the circumstance of Mr J. E. Fitzgerald being on his way to Auckland to take his seat for Lyttelton in the House of Representatives, and regret the circumstance, because it was well known that Mr Fitzgerald had specially gone to lend his aid in blotting out that admirable provision of the Constitution Act, which made the cost of extinguishing native title a first charge on the general land revenue, for the avowed purpose of relieving the Middle Island from contributing its fair proportion towards the purchase of native lands, and of saddling the whole cost of the General Government on the Customs duties alone, of which Wellington paid more than the whole of the Provinces of the Middle Island put together. From this it will be gathered who were the real instigators and authors of the Financial Swindle of 1856, and for whose benefit it was perpetrated.



Dr Welch's candidature for the Superintendency, --Subsequently elected Clerk to the Provincial Council. --My published views on the Waste Lands Question. --Dr Featherston's resignation. --The £5000 transfer. --Its illegality and retransfer. --Election of Dr Featherston over Mr St Hill.

I HAVE already related what way the result of the Provincial elections for Superintendent and Provincial Council which took place at the close of the year 1857; but I did not then enter into further particulars, because I did not wish to interrupt the course of my narrative with reference to the Provincial Administration of the Waste Lands. As, however, the results of those elections were remarkable in several respects, I feel it is necessary that I should now refer to them in the briefest possible manner; for to enter into all the details would fill a volume. I have already intimated that at the elections which had taken place the preceding year there were sufficient indications, except to Dr Featherston himself and the blindest of his followers, that a reform in Provincial administration could not prudently be withheld; but few expected, not even the leaders of the reform party, that so strong a feeling existed on the subject as afterwards proved to be the case. On the day appointed for the election, and after Dr Featherston had been duly proposed, Mr E. J. Wakefield came forward and proposed Robert Porter Welch as a candidate, in opposition to Dr Featherston; and though Mr Wakefield himself was proposed, he did not think it prudent to contest the election. In Wellington a large number of electors declined to vote for either candidate; but they were not so squeamish at the Hutt, where Dr Welch actually obtained a large majority. The result of the election sufficiently indicated to both the friends and opponents of Dr Featherston that had a more eligible candidate than Dr Welch been proposed he would probably have been elected.

The sixth session of the Council was opened on March 15th, 1858, when Mr Ludlam was elected Speaker without opposition; but when the aforesaid Dr Welch sunk from the position of a popular candidate for the Superintendency of the Province to the position of a candidate for the office of Clerk to the Council, there can be no doubt it had a damaging effect both upon himself and his party; he was, however, elected on a division by the votes of 16 against 9. And here I may mention that though at the Superintendency election I was a personal and political friend of Dr Featherston, I was a warm advocate of a reform in the administration

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of the laws and regulations affecting the public lands. But so sure was Mr Fitzherbert of Dr Featherston's triumphant return that he refused to sanction the printing of an address I sent to him with that object, and which I had written to the electors with a the view of shewing that a reform was more likely to be accomplished by Dr Featherston than by the radical party. He found out after that I had a better knowledge of public opinion than he had. In the meantime, however, though I could ill afford it, I got the address printed at my own expense. In that address I stated that "I was opposed to the system under which large tracts of the public domain were locked up from settlement; for though they were nominally open for sale, I knew that practically they were not so, and apparently it was not intended that they should be. I told the electors that I was well aware that--

Howe'r profusely o'er this favored land,
The richest gifts are spread by Nature's hand,
It all availeth not while partial laws
And sep'rate interests mar the Common Cause.

I also privately told Dr Featherston, not after, but before the elections, that unless he was prepared to make large concessions in favor of small farms, free grants, and commonage rights, the cry for land on deferred payments would become irresistible. What I said was not noticed, at the time, but it was noticed after the mischief I feared had been accomplished. I would not have entered into these particulars if they did not throw some light on subsequent events to which I shall have immediate occasion to refer.

Three of the members of the Executive Council having failed to obtain seats in the Provincial Council, they, with a very bad grace, sent in their resignations to the Superintendent, when Mr E. J. Wakefield was invited to form a new Executive in their stead. He was, however, not able to do this under the existing Executive Act, because Mr John King, who was, as will shortly appear, solicitor to the Union Rank, refused to become one of his Honor's advisers, on the ground that he had an action pending against him for libel, the Superintendent having accused him on the hustings of having, in conjunction with William Allen, been the despoilers of dead men's estates, and the robbers of the widow and orphan. To get over this difficulty Mr Borlase introduced a new Executive Bill, which was carried on a division by 21 votes against 6, when it passed through all its stages and was transmitted to the Superintendent for his assent.

On the following day, Dr Featherston, without consulting any one resolved to send in his resignation, with the intention of immediately proceeding to England; but, instead of sending a message to the Council to that effect, he went in person to the Council Chamber, and after announcing he could not give his assent to the Executive Bill on behalf of the Governor, on the ground, chiefly, that a Provincial Secretary, supported by a majority of the Council, and uncontrolled by the check of any other heads of departments, would, in practice, be the Executive Government, reducing the Superintendent to a mere registrar of his edicts, a position which he declined to fill. He had therefore, he told the Council, determined to resign the office of Superintendent, and would, by the first opportunity, forward his resignation to the Governor. Having delivered this address to the Council, he immediately mounted his horse and proceeded to the Wairarapa. Arriving at Greytown he put his horse up at the Rising Sun, and then walked down the street until he reached my residence, when he asked me to put on my hat and take a walk with him towards Carterton. I accordingly did so; both of us getting

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across the Waiohine dry footed by means of a tree which had fallen across the stream, for the Black Bridge had not then been erected. He told me how he had gone to the Council, and how he had not spoken to any one as to his intentions lest they should try to persuade him not to carry them into effect. Our walk there and back must have occupied several hours as the distance would not be much less than ten miles. What he said, and what I advised during our walk, is now nothing to the purpose; suffice it to say that he did not carry out his original intention of proceeding to England, but after a time he again assented to be nominated a candidate for the Superintendency, having received a numerously signed requisition to that effect. In justice to myself, however, I must here state that Dr Featherston well knew my opinions on the subject of Waste Land administration, and as I thought evinced a disposition to fall in with them. For this, as well as for numerous other reasons, I regretted the hasty step he had taken in resigning his office, as I felt sure that opinion would turn in his favor the moment it was found he would support reforms more necessary, more advantageous to the future interests of the Province, and more likely to be carried, than those advocated by the Radical Reform party. I had at that time every confidence in Dr Featherston, and none whatever in his opponents. The mistake he made was in persisting in representing, then and afterwards, that his return was an endorsement of his policy, instead of being, as it was, a mark of their confidence in him personally, and a proof of the absence of any confidence in his opponents--not in their policy, as he wished it to appear, but in themselves individually. It was not then known, what was afterwards made abundantly manifest, that Dr Featherston's disposition was too arbitrary to permit him willingly to carry out a system of Responsible Government, except with colleagues whose views coincided with his own, or with advisers, such as Borlase and Hickson, whom, he could himself advise and control.

It was not until Dr Featherston returned to Wellington on the 5th. April that he forwarded his resignation to the Governor. Its acceptance was gazetted the same month, but the fact was not generally known in Wellington until the 22nd of May, when writ to supply the vacancy was received by the Returning Officer. In the meantime Dr Featherston, who had expected that he would hold office until the election of his successor, had appointed Mr Fitzherbert as Deputy-Superintendent, who was also, it will be well to bear in mind, the Receiver of the Land Revenue; but this appointment was subsequently set aside by the Supreme Court, as under an Act of the General Assembly the Speaker of the Provincial Council was empowered to act as Superintendent. On receiving intimation that Dr Featherston's resignation had been accepted by the Governor, he and his executive advisers at once determined, "that they would not permit," to quote Mr Fox's own version of the transaction, "to be spent one farthing of the public money till they were satisfied that some person existed duly authorised to issue warrants for its expenditure under the Constitution Act. At that date there was a considerable balance amounting to more than six thousand pounds to the credit of the Province at the Union Bank. The law adviser of that Bank was known to us to be Mr John King, who was supposed to act in a similar capacity to what is termed the Radical party in this House, and who had in his place in the House both expressed his opinion that the Speaker of this Council was Deputy Superintendent in law; and had concurred in a resolution calling on that officer to make provision for the public service or to that effect. We entirely dis-

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sented from that opinion of Mr King's, and disapproved of the course proposed by that resolution, and thinking it was probable that a Bank guided by Mr King's advice in the matter, might interpose no great difficulty in the way of Mr Speaker or some other person not legally entitled to it getting possession of the money lying at the Union Bank, and spending it without due authority of law, we conceived it to be our duty to remove the bulk of the public funds to a bank whose manager was not bound to take the opinion of Mr King as his Law Adviser."

That a sum of £5,000 should be drawn out of the Provincial Treasury and lodged in another Bank by an out-going Government, to the credit of that Receiver of the Land Revenue who had been illegally appointed Deputy Superintendent, for the avowed purpose of preventing the incoming Government having a farthing of the public money wherewith to carry on the public service, will scarcely be believed in after-times, but this nevertheless was the fact. The Speaker was instructed by resolution to take legal steps for the prosecution of Dr Featherston and his colleagues for conspiracy, and also to recover the sum which had been illegally abstracted from the Provincial Treasury. As, however, the money was restored to the Treasury, and as Mr Ludlam and his Executive were allowed quiet possession of the Provincial Government offices, no further action was taken in the matter. Mr St. Hill, a most estimable Government officer, was unanimously chosen by the Reform party as their candidate for the Superintendency; but was defeated in several of the electoral districts, and consequently for the third time Dr Featherston was gazetted Superintendent of the Province.



Unopposed election of the Leaders of the Reform Party. --The disruption of the Province. --The Land Fund Appropriation Act. --The discreditable conduct of the Stafford Ministry. --The Financial discussions of the Session held in 1860. --Which the worst: the Stafford Ministry or the Featherston Government?

DR FEATHERSTON was declared duly elected Superintendent on the 30th July, 1858, and on the 3rd September be prorogued the Provincial Council, which had held occasional sittings during the time the contest for the Superintendency had been going on. The Council was prorogued without ay Appropriation Act having been passed, as it had declined to consider the estimates until the vacancies in the Provincial Council had been filled up which had been caused by the acceptance of office of Messrs Wakefield, Hunter, and Borlase in the Speaker's Executive Council. Ultimately the two former were elected without opposition, a fact which the Featherston party could not conveniently or successfully ignore. It was not until the 30th August of the following year that the Council was again convened, and then without any practical result.

It will be necessary to be borne in mind that while the above proceedings were taking place at Wellington a most important session of the General Assembly was being held at Auckland, at which not a single member of the Province of Wellington was present, with the exception of Mr Speaker Clifford. It was during this session that the New Provinces Act was passed, and the disruption of the Province of Wellington conveniently consummated. In the personally vindicative quarrel between the Superintendent and the leaders of the Opposition in the Provincial Council some injury would necessarily be

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inflicted upon the cause of Constitutional Government as well as on the material interests of the Province; but nobody could justly accuse either of having any deliberate intention to do one or the other. This, however, cannot be said with regard to the proceedings of the Ministry at Auckland. All the efforts made by the Superintendent to push forward native land purchases in the Forty Mile Bush, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay, and other parts of the then Province, were deliberately thwarted by that Ministry. Looking back at those times -- and looking back, I may remark, makes a different impression on the mental retina than the act of looking forward--I am not now surprised, after the treatment Dr Featherston met with at the hands of Stafford, Sewell, Richmond, and Whitaker, at the action he took relative to the Waitara question in the session held in 1860, the first session which had taken place after the Land Revenue Appropriation Act of 1858 had, in the congenial company of the New Provinces Act, got placed by means of a fluke, on the New Zealand Statute Book.

That Act was intended to give legal effect to the financial swindle of 1856, and under it is was provided:-- 1. That all land revenue shall belong to the several Provinces, and be subject to appropriation by their respective Provincial Councils. 2. That one-sixth part of the land revenue in the Provinces of Auckland, New Plymouth, and Wellington shall be employed in extinguishing the native title over lands situated in each. But it will be seen that this second clause is in direct opposition to the first, and also to the compromise which had been arrived at in 1856. What was still more indefensable, as well being a violation of all Constitutional principles, this second clause was made retrospective, and under it the Wellington Province was made to refund one-sixth of its territorial revenue for 1858; or in other words the Ministry of that day, without giving the slightest notice of their intention--without the slightest regard to any financial arrangements into which the Provincial Government might have entered-- proceeded to impound one-third of the land receipts until a sum of over £6,000 had been refunded. These proceedings were conducted under the provisions of an Act passed during a session when the transmission of the writs for the election of the Wellington members had been so timed, as regarded the dates of their return, as to result in the failure of the elections, and the absence from the Assembly of six of the Wellington representatives till at least the very close of the session; and when the illegal return of a member for Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa had been so managed that the latter district actually knew nothing of the election until it was over, while the pretended representative was allowed to take his seat in the House without any remonstrance. It will hardly be credited that such proceedings took place under what has been called "Responsible Government;" and yet it was during this session that the financial resolutions of 1856 were legalised. The high-handed and illegal proceedings of the Superintendent at Wellington about the same period were almost unavoidable under the circumstances; but they sink into insignificance compared with those which were taken at Auckland by the Stafford Ministry against not only the Superintendent, but also the Province over which he presided. Indeed the illegal proceedings of the Superintendent in expending public money without the authority of an Appropriation Act would have been rendered unnecessary, and could easily have been prevented, had the Auckland Ministry advised the Governor to dissolve the Wellington Provincial Council.

And here I cannot do better than

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quote the following account by Dr Featherston of the financial discussions which took place in the House of Representatives in 1860, seeing that they have a direct bearing on this Land Revenue Appropriation Act, and the guaranteed loan of £500,000 which grew out of the offer conveyed to the Governor, in the despatch of Lord John Russell. At a public meeting at Wellington Dr Featherston said:-- We shewed that by disposing of the £500,000 Loan by private bargain instead of throwing it open to public competition, they had lost £45,000 to the colony. We shewed that they had frittered away the £160,000 allocated to Land Purchases in the most scandalous manner; that of the £78,000 already spent some £30,000 had been swallowed up in the expenses of the Department and at the same rate some £70,000 of the £180,000 would go in the expenses of a most inefficient staff. We shewed by their absurd alterations in the tariff they had caused a loss to the Revenue of at least £20,000 a-year. We proved that they had increased the expenditure of the colony in five years from £65,000 to £145,000. We pointed out that the Ministry had illegally expended £38,000 and to cover this illegal expenditure had appropriated the Surplus Revenue to that amount which was due to the Provinces. We insisted that £38,000 should be forthwith paid to the Provinces, and that the illegal expenditure should be provided for by the issue of Exchequer Bills. The Finance Minister declared that not one farthing of the £38,000 should we ever get from him--he blustered and stormed and threatened to resign. After a debate of three nights we carried our resolution by a majority of 19 to 17. They did not resign but accepted our proposition, with this mental reservation, that they would pay us the balances out of our own money by allowing us only 2-8ths of the gross Customs Receipts. This we would not consent to, but insisted upon their guaranteeing to the Province, for the current year at least 3-8ths of the gross Customs Revenue. The next Financial measure was a Bill to repeal certain clauses in the Land Revenue Appropriation Act of 1858. In 1856 an arrangement was adopted under which the Northern Island was to pay for their own lands by means of certain loans, and the Middle Island was to take upon itself the New Zealand Company's Debt, in consideration of which the Land Revenue was to become purely Provincial Revenue, and was to be paid into the Provincial chest free of all deductions; but in 1858, the Ministers, taking advantage of the absence of the Wellington members, passed a law cribbing one-sixth of the land revenue of the Provinces of this Island. In the late session we protested against the measure and insisted upon having our land revenue freed from any such charge. We carried our Bill by a majority of 20 to 13. The effect of the Bill was to release one-sixth of your land revenue for the future. But we were not satisfied with this, we called upon them to disgorge the amount they had impounded during the last two years. We first moved an address to his Excellency, requesting him to recommend the House to make provision for this refund which amounted to some £25,000 of which £4000 belonged to Auckland, £9000 to Wellington, and about £12,000 to Hawke's Bay. We carried this by a majority of, I believe, 20 to 12. We then passed a Bill to give effect to this recommendation. This Bill we carried by a majority of 22 to 10; but it was rejected by the Lords. Our case seemed hopeless, but we saw that we had the Ministry at our mercy, for they had allowed business to accumulate to such an extent, that unless we agreed to suspend the Standing Orders they could not have passed either the Appropriation or

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the Loan Bills. There was no escape for them, we were in a position to dictate our own terms. And I confess that I was not myself disposed to show them any quarter, and at first I demanded that they should at once pay the Provinces the balances due to them amounting to £38,000--that they should guarantee to them for the current year 3-8ths of the gross Customs, and that they should refund the £25,000 of the Land revenue. There is no doubt we might have forced them to accept these conditions, but after consulting with our Auckland, Canterbury, and Otago friends, it was not deemed advisable to push matters to extremities, and we ultimately agreed to the following compromise: 1st. That they should at once pay the Provinces the £38,000. 2nd. That they should guarantee them 3-8ths of the gross Customs for the current year. And 3rd. that the Land Fund due to the Provinces of this island should be replaced, (for I forgot to mention that it came out in the course of the debate, that Ministers instead of investing these sixth's as required by law had actually spent them) and be invested to await the decision of the next Assembly.

The discomfiture of the Stafford Ministry in 1860, and its utter downfall in the following year, would appear to teach that honesty was the best policy in public as in private life, and without some show of which no Ministry could long last; but unfortunately for this theory we have the fact staring us in the face that one of the members of that Ministry became a leading member of the Fox-Sewell-Peace Ministry of 1861-2, and another a leading member of the Whitaker-Fox War Ministry of 1863-4, while both of these Ministries were warmly supported by Dr Featherston as a member of the General Assembly and as Superintendent of the Province! Does not the very mention of these facts prove the truth of Mr Goldwin Smith's assertion, that in the Colonies party Government is a noxious absurdity and ruinous to the political character of the people? Were it not for these unprincipled combinations, which have been of constant occurrence from the first session to the last one, there would be grounds for thinking that there was a kind of retributive justice to be distinguished in the triumph of the Opposition, as above detailed by Dr Featherston in his account of the financial discussions which took place at Auckland in the session above referred to. Yet the tone he adopts, though perhaps justified under the circumstances, and considering the treatment he and the Province had received at the hands of the Stafford Ministry, from 1856 to 1860, is not one which will give the reader a very high opinion of either the statesmanlike qualities of the speaker, or the unmercenary character of his audience. There is not a single passage which appeals to the loftier aspirations, to the holier emotions of his hearers; not one which would give them an idea that they were engaged in the great work of moulding the institutions of an embryo nation. Every sentence breathes a determination to sacrifice the future to the interests of the present hour; as witness his gratification at the annihilation of the Native Laud Purchase Fund; and this, it will have been gathered, was also the spirit which pervaded his waste land administration of the Province. It will be a difficult matter for future generations to determine which was the most arbitrary and unprincipled--which the least regardful of constitutional principles, and precedents during the period above named -- the Stafford Ministry or the Featherston Government.

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Enthusiastic reception of Sir George Grey at Wellington on his reappointment to the Governorship of the Colony.

IT is not my intention to continue my historical narrative further. It covers a period of ten years, from 1851 to 1861, and gives a very different coloring to many important events in the early history of the Colony, and of its Representative Institutions, to that in which they have heretofore been painted; and this is more especially true with regard to the Provincial administration of the Waste Lands, to the Financial Compact of 1856, to the true reading of Sir George Grey's Land Ordinances and Regulations, and to the real character of his first administration of the Government of the Colony. I have exposed the motives by which some of his detractors were actuated; and have rendered clear how great was his popularity, and how prosperous was the country, at the date of bis departure from its shores. It now only remains for me to show how enthusiastically he was welcomed back again after eight years' absence, by all classes and parties in the community, and by none more so than by the leading members of the too famous Constitutional Association, who in their blindness had once gone so far as to petition for the recall of the man they afterwards publicly avowed "was the greatest benefactor that the Colony ever possessed."

In a sub-leader in the New Zealand Advertiser of February 20, 1862, I refer to the report of a large meeting held at the Odd Fellows' Hall to adopt measures to give a public welcome to Sir George Grey; and in order to divest that meeting of any party significance I refer to the fact "that a congratulatory address to Sir George Grey, on his re-appointment to the Governorship of this Colony, was unanimously adopted by the Wellington public long before his arrival in Auckland, and that it is owing to the confidence so generally felt in his ability and patriotism, and to the approval by the majority of the people of his past wise and beneficent policy and administration, rather than to any success which has attended his efforts since his arrival, to restore the peace and prosperity which existed at the termination of his former Government of the Colony, that the desire to welcome his return to Wellington is so hearty, irrepressible, and universal."

I abridge the following report of the meeting from the same journal. Dr Featherston presided. He said:-- As soon as they heard of His Excellency's re appointment, before his arrival at Auckland, and, while their representatives were absent from Wellington,, they had unanimously adopted an address to him--in which they expressed their sincere gratification at his re-appointment to the Government of this Colony--in which they stated it was with peculiar satisfaction they remembered how successful had been his policy in a former period of difficulty and depression--and in which they expressed their full persuasion that a similar success would again attend his efforts in restoring the blessings of peace to these Islands. If such were their feelings and opinions before hia Excellency's arrival at Auckland, surely the manner in which he set himself to work to unravel the tangled skein before him--to retrieve past disasters -- to restore lost confidence--the events of the last three months must have confirmed still more their confidence in his Excellency--have raised still higher their admiration of his administrative abilities--and rendered it wholly unnecessary for him to urge them to adopt every measure in their power in order to give him a cordial and more enthusiastic reception than any Governor ever had before. (Loud applause.) He (Dr Featherston) had

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he believed, been present at the arrival of every Governor at Wellington, and the cordial reception they had given to the representative of the Crown proved that the people of Wellington did not want in loyalty and in attachment to their common country. If they received cordially other Governors, how much more warmly would they welcome the return of their present one--who left them eight years ago in the enjoyment of the blessings and advantages of peace and prosperity, and who had returned for the express purpose of restoring to them these invaluable benefits.

Mr Moore, in rising to move the first resolution, observed, that all who knew him would believe him when he said that it gave him the greatest possible pleasure to propose the resolution he held in his hand, and to assist in giving a unanimous reception to Sir George Grey, who, in the eloquent language of their Chairman, had been justly described as the greatest benefactor the Colony had ever possessed. (Cheers.) He (Mr Moore) had always been of that opinion, and he could not forbear expressing his gratification in finding thoso who in former times were politically opposed to His Excellency now uniting with his former supporters in heartily welcoming his return to Wellington, so that truth and right had in this instance received their due acknowledgments, and they always would sooner or later prevail. (Hear.) Mr Moore concluded by moving the adoption of an address to Sir George Grey to be presented to him on his arrival in Wellington. The address was written by Dr Featherston, and contained amongst others the following passage:-- "Remembering the warm interest which, during your former administration, you ever took in the advancement of this Province, and the many and important benefits you then conferred upon us--we cannot refrain from availing ourselves of the opportunity afforded by your arrival amongst us to give you a hearty welcome, and to renew the expressions of our personal esteem and respect, and of our most fervent wishes for the success of the policy you have inaugurated, and for your own health and happiness." I will not weaken the force of this testimony, as to the beneficient character of Sir George Grey's first administration of the Government of this Colony, by adding one word of my own.

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