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WESLEYAN MISSIONARY COMMITTEE
RIGHT HONOURABLE EARL GREY,
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department,
TREATY OF WAITANGI:
AS PUBLISHED IN THE REPORT OF THE WESLEYAN MISSIONARY SOCIETY,
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P. P. THOMS, PRINTER, 12, WARWICK SQUARE.
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Copy of a Letter from the Wesleyan Missionary Committee to the Right Honourable Earl Grey.
Bishopsgate-Street-Within, February 23rd, 1848.
MY LORD, --The Committee to whom is entrusted the management of the Foreign Missions of the Wesleyan Society, most respectfully, request permission to express to your Lordship the deep solicitude which has been awakened in their minds, by the agitation of the question respecting the correct interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, 1 upon which the Colony of New Zealand is based.
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A preliminary remark or two may be requisite to render it apparent that the Committee are not presuming to intermeddle with the subject beyond their proper province, but that in the maintenance of the Treaty of Waitangi, in its full integrity, the Wesleyan Missionary Society has important interests at stake. This will partly appear,---
1. From a statement of the extent and influence of the Wesleyan Mission in New Zealand. The Mission was commenced in the year 1819, and has continued in effective operation to the present time. The Wesleyan Society has now Twelve principal Stations in the Northern Island, and two others in the Middle Island, each of which Stations is a centre of operations extending over a considerable District. Eighty-nine Chapels have been erected, and One Hundred and Twelve other buildings have been provided for Religious Worship amongst the Native population comprised within the limits of these Stations. The number of accredited Church-Members, or Communicants, now amounts to Three Thousand Seven Hundred; and Six Thousand Two Hundred and Twelve Scholars attend the Week-day and Sabbath Schools. The whole Mission is placed under the superintendence of Eighteen ordained Missionaries, who are assisted by Thirteen other subordinate paid Agents, and Six Hundred and Thirty Christian Natives who render their services gratuitously as Teachers in the Mission-Schools, or in conducting occasional Religious Services among their countrymen. It may be further remarked that, in accordance with a Resolution passed at a Public Meeting held in Auckland, in the year 1844, "A Wesleyan Native Institution" was formed at that place in order to instruct a select number of Natives of
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New Zealand in the English language, and with a view to their having access to the stores of English Literature, and also to their becoming more efficient Teachers of their countrymen in Religion and Civilization." The acknowledged utility of this Institution may be inferred from the fact, that His Excellency Governor Grey is a liberal subscriber to its support. The success which, has attended the experiment is indeed such as to encourage greatly-increased efforts in this Department of usefulness.
Such a Mission, it will at once be seen by your Lordship, must necessarily exert great influence upon a large proportion of the Native population; and that influence has been highly beneficial in humanizing the Natives, suppressing and preventing Native wars, and promoting the peaceful arts of civilized life, as the testimony of many impartial and independent witnesses has satisfactorily shewn. The Missionary in New Zealand, in fact, prepared the way of the Colonizer. Previous to the commencement of the Missions of the Church-of-England and Wesleyan Missionary Societies, New Zealand was the dread of mariners, who justly apprehended that, should they be cast upon its inhospitable shores, they would become the feast of Cannibals. It was not until Missionary teaching had exerted a powerful ameliorating influence upon the Native character, that New Zealand was included in the schemes of European Colonization.
2. It may be further premised, that the Missionaries of the Wesleyan Society, as well as those of the Church-of-England Society, in compliance with the wishes of the Representative of the British Crown, Captain Hobson, took a prominent part in the settlement of the Treaty of Waitangi, and pledged themselves to the Natives under their care, that the plighted faith of the British Government was a sufficient guarantee for the strict performance of that Treaty in its provisions relating to the soil.
These considerations, it is hoped by the Committee, will be deemed by your Lordship a sufficient apology for their interference with a question which might, at first sight, appear to be foreign to the proper business of a Society whose principal and leading object is the diffusion of Christianity and its attendant blessings.
The solicitude which the Wesleyan Committee feel upon the subject, if not produced, has been greatly increased, by Letters recently received from the Missionaries under their direction in New Zealand, strongly expressing the state of alarm into which they had been thrown by the publication, in that country, of your Lordship's Despatch to His Excellency Governor Grey, under date of 23rd December, 1846. Regarding that Despatch, in connexion with the "Instructions accompanying the Charter" published at the same time, as affixing a meaning to the Treaty of Waitangi, very different from that in which it was understood by the parties principally concerned in its execution; and, apprehensive that were it to be attempted to carry what they regard as a new interpretation of the Treaty into effect, the most disastrous consequences would inevitably
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ensue, they earnestly entreat the Committee to make such representations upon the subject, in the proper quarter, as may tend to prevent the actual occurrence of the evils which they fear.
In taking the Letters of the Missionaries into their most anxious consideration, and carefully examining your Lordship's Despatch and the instructions accompanying the Charter, in the light of your explanatory Despatch of the 30th of November last, contained in the papers recently presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, the Committee regret to state that, in their judgment, the latter official communication is not calculated very materially to allay the apprehension excited by the former.
Your Lordship recognises anew the proposition that "the savage inhabitants of New Zealand have no right of property in land which they do not occupy, and which has remained unsubdued to the purposes of man," as containing "the true principle in regard to property in land;" a principle which would be the best foundation on which to commence colonization, and which is even now capable of being applied to a great extent in New Zealand.
In regard to the principle itself, the Committee, with great deference to your Lordship, remark that the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Colony, to which your Lordship refers, however supported that judgment may be by high legal authorities, does not enable them to reconcile the principle in question with the great principles laid down by the Divine Legislator, in those precepts of the Holy Scriptures which are designed to regulate the dealings of men with their fellow-men. It may be that, according to the judgment of the Supreme Court, the principle, "for nearly Three Hundred years, has been uniformly recognized and acted on by the consents of civilized nations;" but the Committee nevertheless entertain the deep conviction, that that colonization must be decidedly wrong in principle, before the advance of which the Native population has uniformly and inevitably melted away, and many Aboriginal Tribes and nations have perished from the face of the earth. They think that these fatal results cannot be rationally ascribed to accidental circumstances, but that a viciousness of principle may be fairly suspected. Yet, if the quotation from Dr. Arnold, given by your Lordship, were to be admitted without great qualification, all these results, which doubtless your Lordship, in common with all the friends of humanity, deplores, would receive vindication. In that quotation, no exception whatever is made in behalf of men who may remain in a barbarous state, without subduing or cultivating the ground; and, if it is to be supposed that that eminent writer designed his language to be strictly understood, then would it justify the destructive process by which barbarous Tribes are finally swept away by the advance of colonization. The Committee deeply regret that they are called to offer objections to views so deliberately expressed by your Lordship; but, with the greatest respect for your
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Lordship's high character and distinguished ability, they must, with much deference, state that, while they cheerfully admit the doctrine that the earth was made for man, they at the same time believe that Aboriginal Man was included in the bountiful provision of the Creator, as well as civilized man, and that that principle of colonization must be essentially unsound which, in its operation, during successive ages, has so uniformly operated to the great injury, and, in process of time, to the final destruction, of Aboriginal Tribes and Nations.
In proceeding to remark upon your Lordship's views on the extent to which the principle in question is yet capable of being applied in the Colony of New Zealand, the Committee thankfully notice that you distinctly recognize the binding character of the Treaty of Waitangi, and warrant the conclusion that you do not intend that any lands shall fall under the operation of the principle which are fairly included within the provisions of the Treaty. The whole question thus appears to turn upon the meaning of the Treaty; and the difference between your Lordship and the Committee is reduced to this, --that your Lordship evidently calculates that a much greater quantity of land may be fairly claimed for the Crown than could possibly be the case, in the judgment of the Committee, were the Treaty of Waitangi carried into effect in the sense in which the Native Chiefs signed the Treaty, and the Wesleyan Missionary Society and its Agents became parties to its execution. The Committee will, therefore, respectfully submit to your Lordship, with as much brevity as possible, that interpretation of the Treaty to which themselves, and the Missionaries acting under their direction, stand solemnly pledged to the Native Chiefs and people who are under the influence of the Society's Mission in New Zealand.
At the commencement of the proceedings adopted by Her Majesty's Government for founding a Colony in New Zealand, the Committee distinctly understood, that the previous recognition of the independence of New Zealand by the British Government having taken that country out of the category of barbarous Tribes and people without a national character or national rights, the ordinary course pursued in colonization would not be adopted in its case; but that New Zealand would be negotiated with as an independent State, and that the British Crown would not take anything from the Aboriginal Proprietors which was not ceded on their part by fair and honourable treaty. This view of the subject was fully supported by the Despatches and other official documents, presented to the House of Commons, by the Queen's command, in pursuance of an Address to Her Majesty, of the 8th April, 1840. In the instructions furnished to Captain Hobson, on his appointment to the office of "Her Majesty's Consul at New Zealand," by the Most Honourable the Marquis of Normanby, dated Downing-street, August 14th, 1839, his Lordship, after adverting to various proceedings of British subjects in reference to
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New Zealand, and the great advantage which might probably accrue to this country, by its colonization, remarks: --
"On the other hand, the Ministers of the Crown have been restrained by still higher motives from engaging in such an enterprize. They have deferred to the advice of the Committee appointed by the House of Commons, in the year 1836, to inquire into the state of the Aborigines residing in the vicinity of our Colonial Settlements; and have concurred with that Committee in thinking that the increase of national wealth and power, promised by the acquisition of New Zealand, would be a most inadequate compensation for the injury which must be inflicted on this kingdom itself, by embarking in a measure essentially unjust, and but too certainly fraught with calamity to a numerous and inoffensive people, whose title to the soil and to the sovereignty of New Zealand is indisputable, and has been solemnly recognized by the British Government. We retain these opinions in unimpaired force; and though circumstances entirely beyond our controul have at length compelled us to alter our course, I do not scruple to avow that we depart from it with extreme reluctance."
On the question of the independence of New Zealand, his Lordship further observes:--
"I have already stated that we acknowledge New Zealand as a sovereign and independent State, so far at least as it is possible to make that acknowledgment in favour of a people composed of numerous, dispersed, and petty Tribes, who possess few political relations to each other, and are incompetent to act, or even to deliberate, in concert. But the admission of their rights, though inevitably qualified by this consideration, is binding on the faith of the British Crown. The Queen, in common with Her Majesty's immediate predecessor, disclaims, for Herself and for Her subjects, every pretension to seize on the Islands of New Zealand, or to govern them as a part of the dominion of Great Britain, unless the free and intelligent consent of the Natives, expressed according to their established usages, shall be first obtained."
His Lordship, having thus instructed Captain Hobson that his whole proceedings were to be based upon the principle that New Zealand was recognized by the British Government as an independent State, then points out the objects which he is to endeavour to attain. The first was the cession of sovereignty by the Natives, concerning which it is remarked:--
"Believing, however, that their own welfare would, under the circumstances I have mentioned, be best promoted by the surrender to Her Majesty of a right so precarious, and little more than nominal, and, persuaded that the benefits of British protection, and of laws administered by British Judges, would far more than compensate for the sacrifice, by the Natives, of a national independence which they are no longer able to maintain, Her Majesty's Government have resolved to authorize you to treat with the Aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her
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Majesty's sovereign authority over the whole or any parts of those Inlands, which they may be willing to place under Her Majesty's dominion, I am not unaware of the difficulty by which such a Treaty may be encountered. The motives by which it is recommended are, of course, open to suspicion. The Natives may, probably, regard with distrust a proposal which may carry on the face of it the appearance of humiliation on their, side, and of a formidable encroachment on ours; and their ignorance even of the technical terms in which that proposal must be conveyed, may enhance their aversion to an arrangement of which they may be if unable to comprehend the exact meaning, or the probable results. These, however, are impediments to be gradually overcome by the exercise, on your part, of mildness, justice, and perfect sincerity, in your intercourse with them. You will, I trust, find powerful auxiliaries amongst the Missionaries, who have won and deserved their confidence, and amongst the older British residents who have studied their character, and acquired their language."
The second point relates to land, in reference to which, two or three short extracts will sufficiently explain the views of his Lordship. He proceeds:--
"It is not, however, to the mere recognition of the sovereign authority of the Queen, that your endeavours are to be confined, or your negotiations directed. It is further necessary that the Chiefs should be induced, if possible, to contract with you, as representing Her Majesty, that henceforward no lands shall be ceded, either gratuitously or otherwise, except to the Crown of Great Britain. . . . .
"Having, by these methods, obviated the dangers of the acquisition of large tracts of country by mere land-jobbers, it will be your duty to obtain, by fair and equal contracts with the Natives, the cession to the Crown of such waste lands as may be progressively required for the occupation of settlers resorting to New Zealand. All such contracts should be made by yourself, through the intervention of an officer expressly appointed to watch over the interests of the Aborigines as their Protector. The re-sales of the first purchases that maybe made will provide the funds necessary for future acquisitions; and beyond the original investment of a comparatively small sum of money, no other resource will be necessary for this purpose. I thus assume that the price to be paid to the Natives by the Local Government will bear an exceedingly small proportion to the price for which the same lands will be re-sold by the Government to the settlers. Nor is there any real injustice in this inequality. To the Natives, or their Chiefs, much of the land of the country is of no actual use, and, in their hands, it possesses scarcely any exchangeable value. Much of it must long remain useless, even in the hands of the British Government also, but its value in exchange will be first created, and then progressively increased, by the introduction of
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Capital and of settlers from this country. In the benefits of that increase the Natives themselves will gradually participate. . . . .
"All dealings with the Aborigines for their lands must be conducted on the same principles of Sincerity, justice, and good faith, as must govern your transactions with them for the recognition of Her Majesty's Sovereignty in the Islands. Nor is this all: they must not be permitted to enter into any contracts in which they might be the ignorant and unintentional authors of injuries to themselves. You will not, for example, purchase from them any territory, retention of which by them would be essential, or highly conducive to their own comfort, safety, or subsistence. The acquisition of land by the Crown for the future settlement of British subjects must be confined to such districts as the Natives can alienate, without distress or inconvenience to themselves. To secure the observance of this, will be one of the first duties of the official Protector."
On the authority of the Noble Marquis, then at the head of the Colonial Department, the Committee thus distinctly understood that New Zealand was to be dealt with as an independent State; that the cession of the sovereignty was to be obtained by treaty; that the cession of the sovereignty was not to involve the surrender of territory, either in whole or in part; that the cession to the Crown of such waste lands as might be progressively required for the use of settlers, should be subsequently obtained by fair and equal contracts with the Natives; and that no lands were to be claimed for the Crown in New Zealand, except such as might be obtained by purchase from the Natives, or by their own free consent.
In this interpretation of the Instructions given to Captain Hobson, the Committee are supported by the views expressed by Captain Hobson himself, previous to his departure, in the Letter of Inquiry which he addressed to Mr. Labouchere, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 34, Great George Street, August, 1839. His remarks show that he clearly understood that all his proceedings with New Zealand, at all events so far as the Northern Island was concerned, (to the Chiefs of which "His late Majesty's Letter was addressed on the presentation of their flag,") were to be conducted on the principle that it was possessed of a recognized national independence, and the only point on which he required explanation, in reference to the question, was whether, if he were urged by circumstances, he might not plant the British flag in the Southern Island, by virtue of the right of discovery, remarking, "it is obvious that the power of the Crown may be exercised with much greater freedom in a country over which it possesses all the rights that are usually assumed by first discoverers, than in an adjoining State, which has been recognized as free and independent." To this, it may be added, the Marquis of Normanby replied, on the 15th August, stating that his Instructions relating to the independence of New Zealand, were strictly
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applicable only to the Northern Island; and that if it were not possible to establish British sovereignty in the Southern Island, "by treaty," then, for the purpose of affording efficient protection to the Natives themselves, it might be done "on the ground of discovery."
On his arrival in New Zealand, Captain Hobson, in pursuance of his Official Instructions, and under the conviction that the Natives would not take any important step without the counsel of their Religious Teachers, made application to the Wesleyan Missionaries, as well as those of the Church-of-England Society, to use their influence with the Chiefs in favour of the Treaty which he had prepared for ceding the Sovereignty of the country to the British Crown. His Excellency assured the Missionaries of the Wesleyan Society, that it was "in accordance with Instructions which he had received from the highest authority in the realm," that he requested their assistance in effecting the negotiation with which he was entrusted. Feeling themselves bound by their allegiance to render all dutiful support to the representative of their Sovereign, yet, knowing how great had been the solicitude of the Committee under whom they acted to avert from the New-Zealanders the evils attendant upon colonization, as it had been generally conducted, in which solicitude themselves had largely participated, --the Missionaries of the Wesleyan Society, nevertheless, deemed it to be their duty fully to ascertain the sense in which Captain Hobson intended that the Treaty should be understood by the Native Chiefs. They had not read Captain Hobson's Instructions, for those Instructions were not then published; but they fully understood the claims of the Natives upon the soil of New Zealand, and the point to be ascertained was, whether the Treaty was designed to admit and confirm those claims, in the full and unqualified sense in which they were made.
The Missionaries knew that the Natives claimed, as their own, the entire soil of New Zealand. On this point, the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, in an official document, printed by order of the House of Commons, in 1844, made the following statement:--
"With regard to the universal right of ownership to the land of New Zealand being in the Natives, the testimony received by the Committee from the Society's Missionaries, is clear and express. The question has repeatedly been put to them, and their answer has uniformly been, one and all, affirmative of this proposition." In answer to the inquiry whether there are certain tracts of land in New Zealand which do not, of right, belong to any Chief or Tribe, one of the Missionaries remarked, "We have not been able to ascertain a single case of the kind."
The evidence of the Wesleyan Missionaries is in entire accordance with this testimony. For a great number of years, the land-question has been continuously pressed upon their attention by a combination of circumstances; but, in their extensive correspondence with the Committee upon this question in all its various bearings, they have never reported a single case of a tract of land without a Native claimant, On the contrary,
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their communications all warrant the conclusion that the entire country is divided among the several Tribes, --the boundaries of every property being accurately defined, ---and that the proprietorship is so vested in each Tribe, according to well-understood Native usage, that all the families and individuals of the Tribe have a beneficial interest therein. 2 In this view, therefore, at the time when the Treaty of Waitangi was proposed for adoption, there was not any such public property, contra-distinguished from the property of individuals, as could be understood to be so connected with the sovereignty, that, on the principles of public law, the one must naturally and necessarily be transferred with the other.
In the view therefore of both the Natives and the Missionaries, the sovereignty and the land were two entirely distinct things; and to preserve the latter intact, while they surrendered the former, was the great solicitude of the Natives. From Captain Hobson, the Missionaries received the most satisfactory explanation of the terms of the Treaty. The Treaty which he had prepared dwelt explicitly on both the sovereignty and the land, and the interpretation which the Missionaries were authorized to give of it was that, while the entire sovereignty should be transferred to the British Crown, the entire land should be secured to the Natives. Most certainly the Missionaries received the fullest assurance that, in surrendering the sovereignty, the Natives would not by that act surrender their original claims upon any part of the soil. In this sense the Chiefs themselves also understood the Treaty, as it was propounded to them. They clearly comprehended its two main features, as explained in their own figurative style, that "the shadow of the land," by which they meant "the sovereignty," would pass to the Queen of England, but that "the substance," the land itself, would remain with them.
Nor were the Chiefs and the Missionaries peculiar in their views of the meaning of the Treaty. They are supported by the independent testimony of parties who were present at Waitangi when the Treaty was executed, some of which parties were not favourable to the Treaty itself; as for instance Mr. Brodie, who, when the question was put to him before the Committee of the House of Commons, 4th June, 1844, "Do you mean that there is no land which the Crown could take upon itself to dispose of in New Zealand?" answered, "Not without coming into conflict with the Natives; at the Stipulation at Waitangi, it was agreed that the Government should not take an inch of land, unless paid for by the Government; that was expressly mentioned by all the Chiefs, and I believe it is mentioned in the Deed of the Treaty."
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On the question as to whether the wild lands were not to be considered as comprised in the surrender of the sovereignty, he answered, "I should say not. Captain Hobson mentioned, through Mr. Williams, that they acknowledged that all the lands belonged to the Natives, and that they did not intend to rob them of any land, or to take any, but what they purchased from them." Mr. Brodie further said--
"I think that the Natives understood that they were not to be considered bound to give up any waste land; they never had any idea of that."
Other witnesses from New Zealand testified to the same effect, before the same Committee.
As was anticipated, the Chiefs would not enter into the Treaty, without the advice of their Religious Instructors. The Wesleyan Chiefs said, in effect, to their Missionaries, "We do not know the Queen of England; but we know you, and can trust you. If you say that the British Government speaks true about the land, we will believe you, for we know you will not deceive us." The Society's Missionaries, understanding that the primary object of the British Government was to throw the shield of its protection over the New Zealand people, and considering that the measure proposed was perhaps the best, if not the only, course left for preserving the Natives from the evils by which they were threatened, could not hesitate to assure their people, that, when once the faith of the British Crown was pledged, it would be maintained inviolate. On the strength of the assurance thus given, the Wesleyan Chief Neni, (more generally known by his Christian name of Thomas Walker, pronounced by the Natives Tomati Waka,) and his relative Patawoni, went from the Hokianga to the great Native Meeting at Waitangi, and according to Captain Hobson's own Despatch to the Marquis of Normanby, of the 5th February, 1840, contributed very mainly to the settlement of the question; the eloquence and influence of Neni having decidedly turned the scale in favour of the Treaty, which was signed by the Chiefs present on the following day. A few days afterwards, (on the 11th,) Captain Hobson proceeded to the Wesleyan Mission at the Hokianga, where another large Meeting was convened, at which the Rev. Mr. Hobbs, one of the Society's Missionaries, acted as interpreter, and rendered into the Native language Captain Hobson's own interpretation of the Treaty; which then received the additional signatures of One Hundred and Twenty principal Chiefs. The signatures of the Chiefs in the Southern Districts of the Northern Island were shortly afterwards obtained by Commissioners appointed for the purpose; and, at all the other Wesleyan Stations, the Society's Missionaries shared with their Brethren in the North, the responsibility of encouraging their people to place reliance upon the faith of the British Government. In conclusion of this transaction, Lieutenant-Governor Hobson issued a Proclamation on the 21st May, in which he, rested the claims of the British Crown to the sovereignty of the Northern Island exclusively upon the Treaty which
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had thus been completed. 3 Impelled, as he had anticipated might be the case, by the pressure of untoward circumstances, he, on the same day, issued a Second Proclamation asserting the sovereign rights of the Queen over the Middle and Southern Islands, principally on the ground of discovery; but afterwards, when the Chiefs of the principal Bays and Harbours of the Middle Island had also signed the Treaty of Waitangi, Major Bunbury, who had been commissioned to execute this task, issued another Proclamation on the 17th June, on the ground that the sovereignty had been ceded by the principal Native Chiefs. 4
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"In the views which the Committee have thus expressed respecting the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, they have been confirmed by the published Despatches and official acts of the several successors of the Marquis of Normanby in the Colonial department. The Instructions addressed to Governor Hobson, on the 9th December 1840, by the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, as to the measures to be pursued for the protection and improvement of the New Zealanders, who had then by
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their own act become subjects of the British Crown,--warranted the conclusion that his Lordship designed that the Treaty of Waitangi should be faithfully observed, in the sense in which it was understood by the Natives, and the Missionaries of both the Church and Wesleyan Societies. His Lordship distinctly recognized the Treaty as the ground on which the title of the British Crown to the sovereignty of New Zealand exclusively rests; while his reasoning on the advances which the Natives had made towards a civilized state, and their instruction in the Christian faith, furnished a vindication of the previous recognition of the independence of New Zealand by the British Government.
"Amongst the many barbarous Tribes," observed his Lordship, "with which our extended Colonial Empire brings us into contact in different parts of the globe, there are none whose claims to the protection of the British Crown rest on grounds stronger than those of the New-Zealanders. They are not mere wanderers over an extended surface, in search of a precarious subsistence; nor Tribes of hunters, or of herdsmen; but a people among whom the arts of government have made some progress; who have established by their own customs a division and appropriation of the soil; who are not without some measure of agricultural skill, and a certain subordination of ranks; with usages having the character and authority of law. In addition to this, they have been formerly recognized by Great Britain as an independent State; and even in assuming the dominion of the country, this principle was acknowledged, for it is on the deliberate act and cession of the Chiefs, on behalf of the people at large, that our title rests. Nor should it ever be forgotten, that large bodies of the New-Zealanders have been instructed, by the zeal of our Missionaries, in the Christian faith. It is, however, impossible to cast the eye over the map of the globe, and to discover a single spot where civilized men, brought into contact with Tribes differing from themselves widely in physical structure, and greatly inferior to themselves in military prowess and social arts, have abstained from oppressions and other evil practices. In many, the process of extermination has proceeded with appalling rapidity. Even in the absence of positive injustice, the mere contiguity and intercourse of the two races, would appear to induce many moral and physical evils, fatal to the health and life of the feebler party. And it must be confessed that, after every explanation which can be found of the rapid disappearance of the Aboriginal Tribes in the neighbourhood of European Settlements, there remains much which is obscure, and of which no well-ascertained facts afford the complete solution. Be the causes, however, of this so-frequent calamity what they may, it is our duty to leave no rational experiment for the prevention of it unattempted. Indeed, the dread of exposing any part of the human race to a danger so formidable, has been shewn by the Marquis of Normanby, in his original Instructions to you, to have been the motive which dissuaded the occupation of New Zealand by the British Government, until the irresistible course of events
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had rendered the establishment of a legitimate authority there indispensable.
"Amongst the practical measures which you can adopt or encourage, for the protection of the Aborigines, the most important are,---the support of the Missions and the Missionaries established for their conversion to the Christian faith, and for their instruction as Christians; the assigning officers charged with the duty, and, as far as may be, provided with the means, of protecting them in the enjoyment of their persons and their property; the enactment and enforcement of such laws as can be devised for preventing and punishing any wrongs, to which their persons or their property may be exposed; and the encouragement of the education of their youth."
Stress has been laid upon the fact that, in the Charter for erecting New Zealand into a separate and independent Colony, which, by the advice of Lord John Russell, passed the Great Seal in December, 1840, and in the Instructions accompanying it, "occupation" and "enjoyment" are mentioned as alone establishing the right of the Natives in property; but, without entering into any disquisition on the meaning to be attached to these terms, it may be remarked, that, in whatever sense it was meant that the rule thus laid down should apply to the Middle and Southern Islands, the Committee were not able, from Lord John Russell's administration as Colonial Secretary, to gather any reason for concluding that his Lordship intended that that rule should be made applicable to the Northern Island, in opposition to the understood meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The consideration that the Right Honourable Lord Stanley belonged to another Ministry, and was therefore in a position for forming an entirely unbiassed and independent opinion on the Treaty of Waitangi, tended greatly to strengthen the conclusions of the Committee as to the interpretation of that Treaty which they had been led to adopt. In a dispatch to Governor Fitzroy, August 13, 1844, his Lordship, while commenting on the Report of the New-Zealand Committee of the House of Commons, just presented to the House, having dwelt upon the superior claims of the New-Zealanders as compared with other uncivilized nations, then adverted to the views which he had formerly expressed to his Excellency in reference to the extent of the Native rights, and remarked--
"To restrict those rights to lands actually occupied for cultivation, appeared to me wholly irreconcilable with the large words of the Treaty of Waitangi-- 'Lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess,' and of 'which the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession is thereby confirmed and guaranteed to them.' The claim of the Crown to all unoccupied land, to the exclusion of the Natives, appeared to me not less at variance with the directions of the Marquis of Normanby to Captain Hobson, 'to obtain, by fair and equal contract with the Natives, the cession to the Crown of
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such waste lands as may be progressively required for the occupation of Settlers,' and to apply the proceeds of the 're-sales of the first purchases to the provision of funds necessary for future similar acquisitions. It most be remembered, that these directions had not only been promulgated but acted upon in the Colony at an early period after the sovereignty had been assumed.
Lastly, it appeared to me inconsistent with the practice of these Tribes, who, after cultivating, and of course exhausting, a given spot for a series of years, desert it for another within the limits of the recognized properly of the Tribe."
This liberal view of the Treaty of Waitangi, adopted by Lord Stanley from the consideration of the terms of the Treaty itself, in connection with the Despatches of his noble predecessor, was invariably maintained by his Lordship in practice. Although he had supposed that there might be found some lands in New Zealand without a Native claimant, yet his management of the affairs of New Zealand, throughout the whole period of his remaining in office, strengthened the Committee's opinion, that that meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi to which the Missionaries had pledged themselves, was the correct interpretation.
The decided views of the Right Honourable William Gladstone, Lord Stanley's successor, in favour of the widest interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, are so well known as not to require any comment.
If the meaning which the Committee have been led to attach to that Treaty is thus sustained by the concurrent judgment of those distinguished individuals who have been successively at the head of the Colonial Department, that meaning is further confirmed by those to whom has been entrusted the local administration of the affairs of the Colony of New Zealand. The interpretation of the Treaty to which the late Governor Fitzroy adhered, it is sufficiently understood, was in unison with that of the heads of the Colonial Office, and therefore need not be enlarged upon; but it is deemed important to cite the testimony of his predecessor, Mr. Willoughby Shortland, who became Acting-Governor after the decease of Governor Hobson. From the official relation in which he stood to Governor Hobson, at the time when the Treaty of Waitangi was adopted, he must be regarded, not merely as the exponent of his own views, but also as a competent expositor of the Treaty in the sense in which Captain Hobson proposed it, and afterwards practically admitted its obligation. In a letter addressed to Lord Stanley, after his return to England, dated Torquay, 18th January, 1845, he comments upon the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, of the preceding Session of 1844, and, adverting to the opinion expressed in the Report, that the Treaty of Waitangi amounted to little more "than a legal fiction; that the sovereignty of those Islands might have been at once assumed without this mere nominal Treaty; and that there would have been no greater difficulty in obtaining the acquiescence in the
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assumption of the sovereignty, than in gaining their consent to the conclusion of the Treaty," expresses himself to the following effect:--
"A careful perusal of the Treaty, and of the various documents laid before the Select Committee, would not, I must confess, lead me to similar conclusions; but I will speak from my personal experience. I was present at the several Meetings of the Natives at Waitangi, Hokianga, and Kaitaia, for the purpose of considering the Treaty; and the impression on my mind at the time was, that the subject was fully understood by them, and they were quite aware of the nature of the transaction in which they were engaged. I was so impressed with this idea, and so struck with the shrewdness and intelligence of many of their remarks, at the first Meeting at Waitangi, that, at the subsequent ones, I noted down the speeches of the Chiefs, copies of which I have the honour to enclose, as they will serve to show to your Lordship, not only that the Natives understood the Treaty, but that they were peculiarly sensitive with regard to every question affecting their lands.
"Respecting the cession of the sovereignty to the Crown by the Aborigines, without a reciprocal guarantee to them of the perfect enjoyment of their territorial rights, I do not hesitate to say, such a proposition would not for a moment have been entertained by the Natives, who, during the whole of the proceedings of the Government at the first establishment of the Colony, manifested a feeling of great anxiety and mistrust in regard to the security of their lands. Of this I could produce many instances, did space permit, but will content myself with noticing that the Church and Wesleyan Missionaries, possessing, as they deservedly did, before the assumption of the sovereignty by Her Majesty, the unlimited confidence of the Natives, incurred by their aiding the local Government to effect the peaceable establishment of the Colony, the suspicion of the Aborigines, who frequently upbraided the Missionaries with having deceived them, saying 'Your Queen will serve us as she has done the black fellows of New South Wales; our lands will be taken from us, and we shall become slaves.' How, therefore, could the Colony have been founded with the free and intelligent consent of the Native Owners of the soil, on any other terms than those laid down by the Treaty of Waitangi, viewed in the light in which it has always been understood and acted on by the local Government?"
If considerable space has thus been occupied in showing the substantial agreement between the Wesleyan Missionary Committee's interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the views of the successive heads of the Colonial Department on the one hand, and of those to whom the local administration of the Government of New Zealand has been successively committed, on the other, as well as with the reluctant testimony of witnesses unfriendly to the Treaty itself,--it is because the Committee consider that, in respectfully pressing upon your Lordship a wider interpretation of the Treaty than you have hitherto apparently
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admitted, it was due to your Lordship to state what appear to the Committee cogent reasons for its adoption; because, moreover, the Committee judge they owe it to themselves to show that they have not pledged the character of the Society with the direction of whose Missions they are entrusted to the interpretation in question, on light and insufficient grounds; and also for the reason that such a full and explicit explanation is necessary to unfold the true cause of that alarm into which the Natives and Society's Missionaries, in common with others, have been thrown by the publication of Your Lordship's Instructions in New Zealand. The fact is simply this, that they discover a real discrepancy between your Lordship's Instructions and the true interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi. That wide interpretation of the Treaty, which is now submitted to your Lordship by the Wesleyan Committee, may be said to prevail universally in New Zealand. No class of objections which are urged in some quarters against the Treaty, no force of reasoning as to what ought to be its meaning, in any degree affects the matter-of-fact questions as to the sense in which the Treaty was actually agreed to. The Missionaries, after all that can be said on such points, retain the most perfect conviction that, when they counselled the Natives to sign the Treaty, it was on the explicit assurance of the Representative of the British Crown that, while the entire sovereignty should be ceded by the Natives, they should at the same time retain in their rightful possession the entire soil; and the Natives, on their part, are prepared to maintain, at all hazards, that that was the only sense in which the Treaty received their assent.
The Missionaries and their friends in New Zealand thus reason upon the subject. -- They argue that, although contrary to Earl Grey's intention and wish that such should be the result, the effect of his Despatch, and the Instructions accompanying the Charter which his Despatch was intended to explain, if applied according to their obvious and literal meaning, would most extensively violate the Treaty of Waitangi. The Instructions evidently provide that, contrary to the Treaty, some claimed lands may be taken from the Natives without their own free consent. If the Instructions did not contemplate this, they were unnecessary; for all unclaimed lands in the Middle and Southern Islands, and also any lands without Native claimants, even in the Northern Island, --if any such could actually be found there, --would, as a matter of course, fall to the Crown; but, if it was designed that, according to the provisions of the Thirteenth Chapter of the Instructions, no Native claims upon land should be admitted by the Colonial "Land Courts" except in cases where benefit is derived from the land "by means of labour expended thereupon," the inevitable consequence would be that large tracts of land would be seized for the Crown, in violation of the Treaty of Waitangi; for that Treaty most unquestionably was designed to guarantee to the Natives the undisturbed possession, not merely of the lands upon which they had actually
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expended labour, but of all the land which was theirs by native law and custom, --in fact, the entire soil of the Island.
It becomes the duty of the Committee to inform your Lordship, without disguise, that the Missionaries of the Society apprehend the most fatal results from the strict enforcement of those Instructions. It is correctly stated by the late Acting-Governor Mr. Shortland, in the Extract previously quoted from his Letter, that, in the progress of events since the Treaty of Waitangi, the suspicions of the Natives have, at times, been aroused respecting the intentions of the Government on what is to them, the all-absorbing question of the land; and that some have been disposed to fear that the Missionaries had deceived them, and had sent for their countrymen to take possession of the country. But, if the Instructions should be brought into actual operation, those occasional suspicions of the Native mind, it is apprehended, would give way to a thorough persuasion that the Missionaries had abused their confidence. The influence of the Missionaries would thus be lost; their beneficial labours would be interrupted; and the very existence of the entire Mission would be placed in jeopardy; In a formal document recently received by the Committee, the whole body of Wesleyan Missionaries, and some other principal Agents of the Society, thus give expression to their fears respecting the consequences:--
"From our knowledge of the Native character and the circumstances of this country, we believe those consequences would be, --the regarding of their Christian Teachers as false men and deceivers; the abandonment of the Christian faith; the throwing off all the restraints of the Christian religion; the resumption of the ferocity of the savage; the alienation of our loyal Natives; the strengthening of the hands of rebels; a combination of all the tribes to resist what they would regard as an unrighteous encroachment; the spread of war and murder, through the length and breadth of the land; the breaking up of our Mission-establishments; the destruction of every British Settlement in the Colony; the jeoparding of the lives of thousands of our fellow-countrymen; and (as British power must ultimately prevail) the utter annihilation of the noble race of New-Zealanders."
These, it is admitted by the Committee, are strong views; but they are the views of sober-minded, considerate men, intimately acquainted with the Native character, and with the modes of thinking and principles of action by which it is formed and developed; men, several of whom have spent the best part of their lives in the country, were acquainted with the Natives in their wildest and most savage state, and have experienced the difficulties connected with the work of their enlightenment and incipient civilization.
The Committee are led to attach greater importance to this expression of alarm on the part of the Missionaries, by the perusal of Governor Grey's Despatch to your Lordship of the 7th of April last. In that
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Despatch, his Excellency, having reported the arrangements which he had concluded "for the settlement of the land-questions in the Districts of Porirua and in the Middle Island," thus remarks;--
"I should also observe that the position I understand to be adopted by the New Zealand Company's Agent, ---that if tracts of land are not in actual occupation and cultivation by Natives, that we have therefore a right to take possession of them; appears to me to require one important limitation. The Natives do not support themselves solely by cultivation, but from fern-root, from fishing, from eel-ponds, from taking ducks, from hunting wild pigs, for which they require extensive runs, and by such like pursuits. To deprive them of their wild lands, and to limit them to lands for the purpose of cultivation, is in fact to cut off from them some of their most important means of subsistence; and they cannot be readily and abruptly forced into becoming a solely agricultural people. Such an attempt would be unjust, and it must, for the present, fail because the Natives would not submit to it; indeed, they could not do so, for they are not yet, to a sufficient extent, provided even with the most simple agricultural implements; nor have they been instructed in the use of these. To attempt to force suddenly such a system upon them, must plunge the country again into distress and war; and there seems to be no sufficient reason why such an attempt should be made, as the Natives are now generally very willing to sell to the Government their waste lands at a price which, whilst it bears no proportion to the amount for which the Government can re-sell the land, affords the Natives, (if paid under a judicious system,) the means of rendering their position permanently far more comfortable than it was previously, when they had the use of their waste lands, and thus renders them a useful and contented class of citizens, and one which will yearly become more attached to the Government.
"I am satisfied that to have taken the waste lands I have now purchased, by any other means than those I have adopted, would once more have plunged the country into an expensive war, which, from its supposed injustice, would have roused the sympathies of a large portion of the Native population against the British Government, and would thus probably have retarded for many years the settlement and civilization of the country."
The Wesleyan Committee are not able to distinguish any material difference between the principle of obtaining land from the Natives which is declared by his Excellency to be inapplicable, without great modification, to New Zealand, and that contained in your Lordship's Instructions which shortly afterwards arrived in the Colony; and they are led to conclude that, if such very serious consequences would have resulted, in the judgment of His Excellency, from the enforcement of that principle in two cases, only one of which, it is moreover to be remarked, was in the Northern Island, --the views expressed by the
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Missionaries as to the probable ruin which would ensue, were the Land-Courts to adopt that principle for the general rule of their proceeding, cannot fairly be charged with extravagance.
In reporting again to your Lordship, on the 11th May following, that the outbreak at Wanganui had, as he hoped, been subdued, Governor Grey gives renewed expression to his apprehension of the consequences which would result from improper treatment of the Natives.
"These proceedings at Wanganui," he remarks, "clearly show how much the settlers are still dependant upon the Natives, and how essential it is, that nothing should he done which, by alienating from us the affections of the great mass of the Native population, should drive them all into actual rebellion."
And, two days afterwards, in his Despatch of the 13th May, in recommending to your Lordship such modifications of the Charter as would conciliate the Natives by the recognition of their representative rights, he adverts again to the same subject, and says,-- "I think, that if nothing occurs now to alarm the Natives, after two or three more years of peace and tranquillity, the Colony may be regarded as quite safe, and the livess and property of the settlers would be in a state of complete security; whilst, on the other hand, I cannot but view with the greatest alarm and anxiety, the possibility of the frequent and extended recurrence of such scenes as that which recently took place at Wanganui."
These Extracts are sufficient to show that the Missionaries of the Society are not peculiar in the apprehension which they express, that the effect of throwing the Natives generally into a state of exasperation, by awakening within them a sense of public wrong, would not merely be the ruin of the Society's Mission, but the desolation, if not final subversion, of the Colony itself.
In deprecating such a painful catastrophe, the Wesleyan Committee, and the Missionaries under their direction, are actuated purely by philanthropic motives. They have no party purposes to serve; no sinister ends to accomplish.
The Wesleyan Missionaries in New Zealand are not allowed to hold, nor do they in fact hold, any land for their own private use. In the course of nearly thirty years, only one of the Missionaries has broken the Society's Standing Regulations, by purchasing land and engaging in commerce; and he was dismissed from the service of the Society. The Wesleyan Missionaries, it may moreover be remarked, have only a moderate fixed salary, and that does not depend upon their continuance in New Zealand. They would be allowed the same salary at any other Mission to which they might be removed.
Neither does the Wesleyan Society hold any land as public property in New Zealand, except such small portions as are necessary for Missionary purposes; and these small portions are not held for the purpose of any kind of emolument or gain, but solely for the sake of furnishing
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facilities for the Missionary operations which have for their object the benefit of the Natives themselves. So far from deriving any pecuniary or commercial advantages from those plots of ground, since the commencement of the Mission in New Zealand, the Wesleyan Society has expended, in the work of instructing and elevating its interesting aboriginal inhabitants, upwards of eighty thousand pounds, raised by voluntary contributions, chiefly in this country.
In pleading for the maintenance of the Treaty of Waitangi, in its wider interpretation, neither are the Committee influenced by any feeling of opposition to the rights and interests of the colonists. Although opposed to those private schemes of colonization which were contemplated in the first instance, when, at length, the British Government decided on taking the work of colonization in New Zealand into its own hands; from that period the Committee have used their measure of influence in promoting the welfare of both races of Her Majesty's subjects in the Colony; and they can confidently appeal to all candid and competent witnesses whether the Society's Missionaries, while watching over their Native charge, have not assiduously endeavoured to shield their own countrymen from violence and wrong, and promote a kindly feeling among the Natives in their behalf. In proof of the beneficial influence which their Ministerial labours among the Natives under their care, has exerted upon the general interests of the Colony,--the loyalty evinced by them in the troubles which have agitated the Colony, may be triumphantly adduced. The noble-minded Wesleyan Chief, Thomas Walker Neni, whose influence, it has been seen, decided the meeting at Waitangi; --afterwards, at the head of his faithful followers, hazarded his life in support of the British Government during the war with Heke and his adherents. From his continued stedfast attachment to the British cause, the Governor honours him, in one of his recent Despatches, with the designation of "Our most faithful Ally;" and the latest papers laid before the House of Commons, on the 3rd of the present month, contain abundant evidence that this distinguished man was rendering very essential service, in endeavouring to allay the alarm which had been excited by the publication of your Lordship's Instructions. He had accompanied Captain Sotheby, who was sent to assure the Chiefs in the North that their land would not be taken from them without their own will and consent; and Captain Sotheby reports that all the Chiefs were much pleased with the visit of Neni Waka, (Thomas Walker Neni,) adding, "his presence at this time I consider has been of much importance." To all his brother Chiefs who were applying to him, from time to time, for information as to the intentions of the Government, the Despatches show that he confidently encouraged them to confide in the Government for the faithful observance of the Treaty of Waitangi; and, on one occasion, the Wesleyan Missionary Hobbs, --who, it has been seen, acted as interpreter at the second great meeting at Hokianga, when that Treaty was signed by One
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Hundred and Twenty Chiefs, --is mentioned as uniting with Tomati Waka, (Thomas Walker Neni,) in allaying the apprehension which had been produced upon the minds of Kawiti and his people upon the same subject. The Committee respectfully submit that the loyal attachment to the Government evinced by the great body of the Wesleyan Natives, ever since they became British subjects by their voluntary acceptance of that Treaty which they regard as the pledge of their loyalty, as well as the Charter of their rights, --is no mean evidence of the beneficial tendency of the influence and teaching of the Society's Missionaries.
The Committee repeat that the deep interest which they evince for the safety of the Wesleyan Mission in New Zealand merely results from motives of Christian philanthropy and patriotism. They are convinced that the interests of the Mission are, in this case, identified with the interests of the Colony, and that the calamity which threatens the one must also involve the other. They contemplate, with the most painful feelings, the possible ruin of a noble work of mercy, in which the Wesleyan Society has been engaged for more than a quarter of a century, --the work of elevating a barbarous race to the enjoyment of the blessings of Christianity and civilized life; and, looking at the decided impulse which, as Governor Grey reports, has now been given to civilization, perusing his account of the rapid increase of Native shipping, of the results of Native industry in the making of roads, cultivation of the ground, and various productions of the useful arts, --they recoil at the thought that all this work of promise may possibly soon be undone, the reign of savagism again return, and the Colony itself be crushed beneath its sway.
Convinced that such a result would be equally deprecated by your Lordship, and persuaded moreover, from the tenour of your Despatches that it is your intention that the Treaty of Waitangi should be honourably observed, the Committee most respectfully intreat your Lordship to furnish such further explanation as will explicitly direct the Local Courts so to interpret the Thirteenth Chapter of the Instructions, "On the Settlement of the Waste Lands of the Crown," that no part of the land belonging to the Natives by their own laws and customs, --although it may be in an uncultivated state, --shall be alienated without their own free consent. Were not this to be done, great cause of apprehension would still remain. It is most obvious from the recent Parliamentary Papers, that, if the excitement produced among the Natives by your Lordship's Despatch and Instructions has been considerably allayed by the assurance that their land will not be taken from them, they understand that assurance in the sense that the Treaty of Waitangi respecting their lands will be faithfully observed; and, should the Instructions in the Thirteenth Chapter remain without modification, the Land-Courts may, ere long, adopt the stricter interpretation of the terms employed, and proceed to take away uncultivated lands from the Natives, as waste lands.
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notwithstanding the validity of the titles by which the Native Owners have hitherto held them, according to their own laws and customs. And should this take place, and the conviction, in consequence, seize hold upon the Native mind, that even the plighted faith of the British Crown is not a sufficient guarantee for the faithful observance of the most solemn contract; then is there good reason to conclude, that the painful fears expressed by the Society's Missionaries would, to a great extent, shortly be realized.
Encouraged by the consideration that your Lordship has already evinced so much regard for the representative rights of the Natives, as to submit to Parliament a measure for suspending that part of the Charter by which those rights were affected, the Committee indulge the earnest hope that, in this respect also, you will take the requisite measures for securing the practical recognition of their Native titles to the land, according to the Treaty of Waitangi, in the only sense which they will ever be induced to admit.
Trusting that your Lordship will be pleased to accept the assurance that, whatever may be the strength of any expressions used in this communication, whatever earnestness may appear in any of the arguments employed, nothing is intended by the Committee contrary to that feeling of great respect which your Lordship's high character justly claims,--
We have the honour to remain, in the name and behalf of the Wesleyan Missionary Committee,
And humble Servants,
(Signed) THOMAS FARMER, JOHN SCOTT, Treasurers
JABEZ BUNTING, JOHN BEECHAM, R. ALDER, ELIJAH HOOLE, Secretaries.
Copy of a Letter from Mr. Under-Secretary Merivale to the Rev. Dr. Beecham.
Downing Street, 13th April, 1848.
SIR, --I am directed by Earl Grey to acknowledge your Letter of 24th February, 1848, together with the Memorial of the Wesleyan Missionary Committee, bearing date of the preceding day, which accompanied it. His Lordship has given to the contents of that Memorial his earnest attention. He has felt this to be due, not only to the importance
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of the document, but to the character of the Body from which he has received it. He fully recognizes the claims which that Body possesses upon her Majesty's Government in relation to New Zealand, from the important duties which were cast upon its Missionaries, on the occasion of those negotiations with the Natives, on which the present settlement of the Islands is based: from the fact on which the Committee justly lay stress-- that their Missionaries stand in the position of disinterested and impartial witnesses, owing to their abstinence from dealings in land with the Natives; and more than all, from their meritorious and successful exertions in reclaiming New Zealand from Heathenism, and disseminating among its people the principles of Civil as well as Religious Instruction. And it is in deference to such claims as these, that his Lordship proposes on the present occasion, to enter a little more fully into the past and present policy of the Government, in the New Zealand land-question, than is, perhaps, absolutely required by the Memorialists themselves.
I am directed, in the first place, to assure you that the Committee do Her Majesty's Government no more than justice, in believing that they intend, and always have intended, to recognize the Treaty of Waitangi. They recognize it, as Lord Grey believes, in the same sense which the Memorialists themselves attach to it. They recognize it in both its essential stipulations; the one, securing to those Native Tribes, of which the Chiefs have signed the Treaty, a title to those lands which they possessed according to Native usage (whether cultivated or not) at the time of the Treaty: the other, securing to the Crown the exclusive right of extinguishing such title by purchase. And I am directed once more to refer you to Lord Grey's Despatches of 23rd December, 1846, and 30th November, 1847, as shewing that Governor Grey has been throughout directed to proceed with the utmost caution in acting upon the principles of his Lordship's Instructions of the 28th December, 1846, and to respect all rights which have been secured under the stipulations of the Treaty.
Nor can his Lordship agree with the Memorialists, that there is anything in those Instructions which is either inconsistent with the Treaty or calculated to excite anything like a reasonable alarm in those who may be interested in maintaining it. The Protector of Aborigines is required to transmit to the Registrar a statement of the extent of all claims to Native lands, whether by Tribes or individuals in his District, for Provisional Registration. But no native claim can be finally registered, unless it be established that the right has been acknowledged by some act of the Executive, or some judgment of a Court, or that the land has been occupied in the manner which the Instructions go on to specify. Now the Treaty of Waitangi is unquestionably an Act of the Executive Government, and it appears to Lord Grey that the reasonable construction of these words would be, that wherever a claim had been made to land, on behalf of a Tribe which had been a party to the Treaty, and it was
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established that the land so claimed had belonged to the Tribe at the date of the Treaty, the claim would be secured by final Registration. But, clear as this may be thought, his Lordship is so anxious that there should be no possibility of any misapprehension on this subject, that he will specially direct the attention of the Governor, and, through him, of the Local Authorities, to this, as the true meaning of the Instructions.
Having, as he hopes, expressed himself distinctly on this point, his Lordship directs me further to observe, that, even if that Treaty had never been concluded, an adherence to the policy which has been prescribed to the Governor, would secure to the Native inhabitants of New Zealand all that is really advantageous to them in its provisions. It is true, that in the absence of any such stipulations as those contained in the Treaty, the right to all the waste lands in New Zealand would have been claimed for the Crown, from the moment British sovereignty was established. But it is only as trustee for the whole community that the Crown would have claimed this right, and acting in that capacity, it would have been the first duty of the Governor, as the Crowns representative, to take care that the Native inhabitants of New Zealand were secured in the enjoyment of an ample extent of land, to meet all their real wants. In taking measures for this purpose their habits would have been considered; and though it certainly would not have been held, that the cultivation and appropriation of tracts of land, capable of supporting a large population, must be forborne, because an inconsiderable number of Natives had been accustomed to derive some part of their subsistence from hunting and fishing on them, --on the other hand, the settlement of such lands would not have been allowed to deprive the Natives even of these resources, without providing for them, in some other way, advantages fully equal to those which they might lose. But, after making the most ample allowance for all their wants, there would have remained in New Zealand, land fully sufficient for the purposes of colonization, which it would have been the object of the Government to distribute to the settlers in such a manner as to ensure, as far as possible, its being obtained by those who would have turned it to the best account. With this view, it would have been sold at a price sufficient to prevent its being acquired by those who did not intend to make use of it, the whole proceeds of the sale being applied for the general benefit of the community, and more especially to objects such as Emigration, and the construction of roads, which would have tended to increase the value of the land sold.
Such, under the Instructions transmitted to him by Lord Grey, would have been the policy with regard to the appropriation of land, which it would have been the duty of the Governor to adopt, had the Treaty of Waitangi never been concluded, and had the colonization of New Zealand been only now beginning; and I have to point out to you that under that Treaty, had it been properly executed, there would have been no practical
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difference in the course pursued. I need hardly remind you that while the Treaty of Waitangi recognized the right of the Native Chiefs to their lands, it no less distinctly recognized the right of the Crown (which existed independently of that Treaty) to he the sole purchaser of these lands. But as there is abundant evidence that the Natives did not wish to prevent, but on the contrary, to promote the settlement of Europeans among them, and were only too ready to part, inconsiderately, with their right to land which they did not actually occupy; the Crown, in the absence of all competition, would easily have been put in possession, by purchases at little more than a nominal price, of all the land that could be required for settlers. Nor would there have been any injustice in taking advantage of the exclusive right of purchase vested in the Crown, to obtain land on such terms from the Natives; --the object of the Crown, in acquiring the land, being to turn it to the best account for the whole community. The price to be paid for it to the Natives would properly have been measured, not by the value the lands they sold were capable of acquiring in the hands of civilized men, but by the amount of benefit they had themselves previously derived from that which they thus surrendered: it is hardly necessary to observe that, so estimated, the value of unoccupied land would have been next to nothing.
It results, from these observations, that the conclusion of the Treaty of Waitangi need not have opposed any practical obstacle to the adoption of that policy with regard to land which has been prescribed to the Governor of New Zealand in the Royal Instructions, and in Lord Grey's Despatch.
Independently, however, of any question as to the true construction of the Treaty of Waitangi, it appears from your Letter, that the Wesleyan Missionary Committee are of opinion that the principles with regard to property in land, which Lord Grey has laid down in his Despatches to the Governor of New Zealand, would involve, in their practical application, great injustice to the Native inhabitants of those Islands. Upon this I am directed to remark, that it is more especially for the sake of the Natives themselves, that a strict adherence to those principles is regarded by Lord Grey as so important. I have already pointed out, that if the exclusive right of the Crown to purchase land from the Natives is enforced, it is of little practical importance whether the title to unoccupied land is considered to reside in the Natives, or in the Crown, since, admitting it to belong to the former, the surrender of their rights can easily be obtained for a mere nominal consideration; and if the Crown is regarded as the proprietor, it is so merely in the character of guardian of the interest of its subjects, and especially of those of the Native race, whose want of knowledge causes them to stand peculiarly in want of protection. The view, therefore, of this question, which is to be contrasted with that adopted by Lord Grey, is the one which recognizes in uncivilized Tribes an absolute
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right of property in the lands over which they have, according to their own customs, claimed dominion. But an absolute right of property involves the right of alienation; that individuals or Tribes are to be recognized as absolute proprietors of the soil, but at the same time as not having power to sell it to whom they please, is a rule which might be established by treaty and by mutual concession, but which cannot exist, independently of some express stipulation, by virtue of any recognized principle of law.
The question, therefore, to be considered, is whether the Natives of New Zealand ought to be regarded as the absolute proprietors of the lands they claim, with the unrestricted power of alienating them at their pleasure, or whether, on the contrary, the Crown should be held to be the general owner of the soil, as trustee for the public good, and more particularly as guardian of the Native races. Upon this question, I am in the first place to observe, that the last is the rule to which the general consent of all civilized nations, for the last three centuries, has given the authority of a recognized principle of National law, whether, by recognizing this right as originally existing in the Crown, or as obtained through the Crown's exclusive power of extinguishing the Native title; either view leading practically to the same result. This does not appear to be denied by the Committee of the Wesleyan Missionary Society---and has been conclusively shown in the very important judgment of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, enclosed in Governor Grey's Despatch of 5th July, 1847, and printed among the papers presented to Parliament in December last. But the Committee, without denying that such has long been the established rule of National Law, intimate an opinion that it is one which is not consistent with a just and humane regard for the welfare of uncivilized Tribes. Upon this point, also, I am to refer you to the judgment already quoted. In deciding the question brought before them, the learned Judges rested their conclusions, not on the legal authorities only, strong as these appear to be, but on the higher views of public justice. In the words of Mr. Justice Chapman "To let in all purchasers, and to protect and enforce every private purchase, would be virtually to confiscate the lands of the Natives, in a very short time. The rule laid down is, under the circumstances, the only one calculated to give equal security to both races. In this Colony, perhaps, a few better-instructed Natives might be found, who have reduced land to individual possession, and are quite capable of protecting their own true interests; but the great mass of the Natives, if sales were declared open to them, would become the victims of an apparently equitable rule. So true is it, that it is possible to oppress and destroy, under a show of justice. The existing rule, then, contemplates the Native race as under a species of guardianship." The occurrences of the last few years in New Zealand fully justify this statement of the learned Judge, and prove that the system which was allowed to grow up; of
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recognizing sales from the Natives to individual Europeans, has produced the most disastrous results to both races.
A few short extracts from the correspondence which has, from time to time, been laid before Parliament, will best show how this system has practically worked. The present Governor, in a Despatch which he addressed to Mr. Gladstone, on the 21st of June, 1846, thus describes its results:--
"The effect of the mode in which the Local Government has allowed land to be purchased of the Natives, has been, in so far as the Native is concerned, to lead him to desert his legitimate occupations, and, instead of looking to his surplus produce as the means of acquiring European commodities, to resort to the more immediate source of wealth, the sale of land. To effect this, the Native with his friends frequents the vicinity of Europeans for weeks, neglecting his true interests; tract after tract of land is disposed of to speculators, and, from the facility with which he acquires European property, the Native is tempted to repeat again and again the operation of improvident sales of large tracts of land, of which probably he is only part owner, and to which his title is generally doubtful. The habits of indolence thus acquired become inveterate; and as the Natives are daring and well-armed, undoubtedly the conquest of fresh territory from other Tribes will ultimately be looked upon by them as the source of further revenue. Already their cupidity has been so excited, that in some instances they have proceeded to disastrous wars among themselves regarding portions of territory to which adverse claims exist.
"The effect produced upon the European is equally bad. Impressed with the hope of acquiring wealth by the re-sale of these tracts of land, he neglects the legitimate pursuits of a settler, forgetting that, even if a valid title had been procured to these possessions, they would be really valueless to him without an adequate supply of capital and labour.
"The future prospects of the Colony are becoming irretrievably ruined by this system. All hopes of the gradual improvement of Natives in the arts of industry and civilization, are being destroyed: the progress of the Colony in commerce and wealth is being retarded for years, and a series of disputes are growing up between the Europeans and Natives, relative to landed property, which it will ultimately be found impossible to settle, except by an enormous expenditure upon the part of Great Britain, and by the introduction of an overwhelming force into the country; for when the Natives find that, by their improvident sales of large tracts of country, themselves and their children have been impoverished, there can be no doubt they will be little disposed to respect the bargains they have entered into."
The Bishop of New Zealand, in a Letter to Governor Fitzroy, dated November, 1845, gives a Statement much to the same purpose. He says
"The effect upon the Native mind, has been to awaken afresh the
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childish love of immediate gain, at the risk of all evil consequences to themselves and their children. I have known a party of forty men wait about Auckland for a month, to obtain a payment, twenty pounds, for the sale of some lands; instead of half-a-crown a week, and the loss of their land, the same party might have earned each ten shillings a-week by manual labour, and kept their land for themselves and children. In a word, I consider this measure so fraught with mischief to both races, that not even the fear of insurrection should have induced me to advise it."
While the money thus received for their lands by the Natives has been of little use to them, these irregular sales have deprived the Government of the Colony of one of the most valuable resources for accomplishing much-needed improvements. In the settlement of an unoccupied territory, it is hardly necessary to observe how much requires to be done before it is fit for maintaining a civilized community. Roads require to be opened--Bridges, Schools, and other public buildings to be provided. For these, and for similar purposes, under a sound system of colonization, the sale of land affords the best means of raising the necessary funds; all persons who wish to obtain land being compelled to pay for it, a security is afforded that it will not be acquired by those who do not really intend to make use of it, while the money paid for it by the bona fide Settlers, being expended in objects of the kind I have mentioned, and in adding to the supply of labour by Emigration, is practically returned to them in the increased value given to their lands. By allowing the irregular sale of land by the Natives, these advantages are lost, --great tracts of land thus come into the hands of individuals, which they either retain without improving, in the hopes of future profit by selling them at a higher price, to the extreme inconvenience of the really industrious settler, or else sell in competition with the Government, thus obtaining the funds requisite for the purposes above referred to, in the manner least onerous to the community.
But, perhaps the worst result of all which has followed this system, has been the difficulty and the delay which it has occasioned in accomplishing the apportionment of land to individuals for improvement and cultivation. Had the Crown been the only purchaser of land from the Native Tribes in New Zealand, and had the price which it paid for it been measured by the value to them of what they gave up, there would have been no difficulty in obtaining from them, at once, the surrender of their rights to all the land required for settlement; but when the Native Tribes were taught, that by selling their asserted right to lands really valueless to themselves, they could obtain from Europeans what they naturally regarded as unbounded wealth, conflicting claims to the lands which could thus be sold immediately sprang up on the part of different Tribes, which required to be adjusted before any title which was considered to be valid could be given to the European purchaser. But, as
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the Native claims rested on customs frequently of the most barbarous kind, and as the difficulty was extreme of obtaining trustworthy evidence, either as to who were the parties whose claim to the land had originally been the best, or as to what bargains for its sale they had really agreed to, the adoption of this system led to investigations the most tedious and unsatisfactory that can be conceived, during the progress of which all improvement was at a stand. Mr. Spain, by whom many of these investigations were carried on, thus describes the result:--
"One fact, however, that has every day forced itself upon my observation, I think applicable to my present argument. I have travelled over a country where I have found millions of acres of first-rate available land, upon which the human foot had scarcely ever trod, showing the capability of this country for maintaining a very large population; and it does appear truly lamentable, that the present few inhabitants should be differing on the subject of land, when there is so much more of that commodity available for every purpose, than can be required for centuries to come.
"I am clearly of opinion that at the Hutt, Wanganui, Taranaki, and other places, the Natives, attracted by European settlements, and feeling the advantages of bartering with the settlers, have come, and cultivated land in the immediate neighbourhood of those places, which they would not otherwise have thought of taking possession of.
"Again, at Taranaki, I found the Natives little disposed to abide by my award, and offering various obstructions to the settlers, not because they wanted the land themselves, but merely to prevent the Europeans from making use of it."
It would be difficult to estimate the extent of the losses inflicted on all the inhabitants of New Zealand, by this delay in issuing valid grants of the lands required for settlement. Some idea of the magnitude of the injury thus sustained may be formed, from the following statement contained in a Despatch from the late Governor, Captain Fitzroy, dated 30th August, 1845:--
"Scarcely any titles to land were then confirmed, many had not even been investigated; therefore very little return of value could be obtained from land; and settlers were living on the remains of their almost exhausted capital. A few Commission Agents, of mercantile establishments elsewhere, kept up a limited trade, but too much on credit. Government payments were four months in arrear, and had been very irregular, --they could not be otherwise under such a complicated state of affairs as the peculiar, the unprecedented circumstances of New Zealand brought on every interest, on every person connected with the country.
"But the greatest detriment to the progress of the settlers sent out by the New Zealand Company, was the absolute impossibility of obtaining sufficient land for their location, without taking forcible possession of that
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which the Native owners asserted had not been purchased from themselves. This caused the energies of the finest body of colonists that ever left Great Britain, to be frittered away in idle pastimes within the limits of scattered wooden Towns, and the beaches near those Towns to be so strewed with broken bottles, that it was dangerous to walk there.
"Active, intelligent, and educated young men were destitute of profitable occupation, totally disappointed--perhaps ruined--and with the world's diameter separating them from their families.
"Under these circumstances the greatest allowances should be made for the state of feeling which prompted such constant demands, that the settlers should be put in possession of their lands (as they considered them to be,) by the Local Government, even by force."
Lord Grey trusts that the preceding observations will satisfy the Committee, that no want of a proper regard for the true interests of the Natives of New Zealand is implied by those general views, with regard to the appropriation of land in that Colony, which he has stated in his Despatches to the Governor upon this subject; but I am further to call your attention to the fact, that while Lord Grey has laid down the rules of that policy which, for the reasons I have stated, he is convinced it would have been most conducive to the welfare of the Natives, as well as of the European inhabitants, to have adopted from the outset; he has not lost sight of the danger which, in the actual circumstances of New-Zealand, would arise from any rash and violent change in the system which has hitherto been followed. The Governor has been directed in Lord Grey's former Despatches on this subject, to proceed with all circumspection in applying the fundamental rules which are now laid down for his guidance, to the state of things which has been allowed to grow up under a mistaken system: and Lord Grey is happy to be able to inform the Committee, that it is obvious from recent correspondence, that Governor Grey has fully entered into the importance of this injunction, and is using all necessary discretion and forbearance in the performance of his task.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient
(Signed) HERMAN MERIVALE.
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To the Right Honourable Earl Grey.
Bishopsgate-Street-Within, April 27th, 1848,
MY LORD, --I have the honour to acknowledge, on the behalf of the Wesleyan Missionary Committee, the reply to their Memorial of the 23rd February last, with which your Lordship has favoured them, through Mr. Under-Secretary Merivale, under date of 13th April, 1848, on the subject of the apprehension which has been awakened in New Zealand as to the intentions of Her Majesty's Government in reference to the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Committee feel indebted to your Lordship for the comprehensive statement of the views of Her Majesty's Government on the New Zealand land-question which is contained in the reply, and they deem it due to your Lordship briefly to state that, regarding themselves as pledged to the Treaty of Waitangi as a whole, they had not, when preparing their Memorial, any objections to offer to the arguments adduced by your Lordship, in their bearing upon that branch of the Land-Question which relates to the method by which the colonist shall obtain the land necessary for his purpose; and they therefore confined themselves exclusively to the other branch of the question, namely--the mode by which the Crown shall extinguish the title by which the Natives hold their lands. Their understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi was, that, while it provided that the Crown should have the exclusive right of procuring from the Natives such spare lands as might be needed for the use of the colonists, (and consequently that the colonists should purchase land, not from the Natives, but from the Crown,)--the Native claims upon the soil of New Zealand were, at the same time, so fully admitted, as to secure the original proprietors from being deprived of any of their lands, without their own free consent, and suitable remuneration for the same being made to them on behalf of the Crown. And it was simply because it was feared that your Lordship's explanatory Despatch to the Governor, of the 30th November, was not sufficient entirely to allay the apprehension of the enforcement of a more limited interpretation of the Treaty, -- that the Committee presumed upon your Lordship's indulgence to submit their views at length, and respectfully to request that your Lordship would, in another Despatch to His Excellency the Governor of New Zealand, entirely dissipate any remaining feeling of alarm upon the important subject.
Your Lordship's answer to this application calls for the warmest acknowledgments on the part of the Committee. The assurance that Her Majesty's Government concur in their interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi relating to the claims of the Natives, and that such additional
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Instructions shall be sent to His Excellency the Governor, and through him to the Local Authorities, as will be sufficient to prevent all further misapprehension upon the subject,--satisfactorily meets the wishes which the Committee had ventured to convey in their Memorial; and it therefore only remains for the Committee to express their deep sense of the kind attention which your Lordship has devoted to the subject, and to enjoin anew upon the Society's Missionaries increased and persevering endeavours to promote the best interests of both races of Her Majesty's subjects in New Zealand, and thus continue to justify that favourable opinion of their character and services which your Lordship has been pleased to express.
I have the honour to remain,
Your Lordship's most obedient
And humble Servant,
(Signed) JOHN BEECHAM.