1864 - Gorst, J.E. The Maori king - [Chapter IX]

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  1864 - Gorst, J.E. The Maori king - [Chapter IX]
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AMONG Maories, the prompt execution of a plan alone commands that respect which is paid to strength: hesitation or delay, whatever the cause, is taken as conclusive proof of weakness. Nothing therefore could have been contrived more likely to remove what little respect the Maories still had for us and our proceedings than the two months of inaction during which Sir George Grey's arrival was anxiously expected by the colonists.

Diplomacy had brought the Government and the Maories to a distinct issue. The Governor had announced that unless certain terms were accepted he was commanded by the Queen to make war, and the Maories, after due deliberation, had firmly and absolutely rejected those terms. But instead of the uplifted sword falling, they were suddenly told that Governor Browne was to leave New Zealand, and Governor Grey was to reign in his stead. There is no doubt that many believed we were afraid to strike, and that as they could not be frightened, we had determined to try to gain our end in some other way.

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The task which Sir George Grey found awaiting him on the 26th September, 1861, when he landed in Auckland, was about as difficult as can be conceived.

At Taranaki actual war was indeed suspended, but not a single point at issue in the quarrel had been settled. When Governor Browne arrived in Taranaki after Tamihana's interference, he found the Waikatos gone and Wiremu Kingi in the lands of Rewi, who would not allow him to see the Governor, but finally carried him off to rejoin his Waikato allies. The great chiefs having thus gone off, the Governor was reduced to the necessity of concluding peace with Hapurona, the Ngatiawa general. The Treaty, or Convention, or whatever it was, bore the title--"Terms offered to the Waitara insurgents," and was signed by Hapurona and twenty-four men, by "Maria, Jane, Betty," and sundry other women, and by several children, all of whom, according to the text of the document, had been for twelve months carrying arms against Her Majesty the Queen. 1 The most important stipulation therein made was, that all land in possession of the troops belonging to those who had borne arms against the Queen was to be disposed of by the Governor as he thought fit. This land consisted of territory, between the English settlement and Waitara, defended by several block-houses garrisoned by our men. In a subsequent article of the terms offered, the Governor stated that as

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he did not use force for the acquisition of land, but for the vindication of the law and protection of Her Majesty's native subjects in the exercise of their just rights, he should divide this land amongst its former owners, but reserve the sites of the block-houses and redoubts, and a small piece of land round each, for the public use, and exercise the right of making roads through the Waitara district.

In accordance with these stipulations, Mr. Rogan, an officer of the Land Purchasing Department, was sent down by Government to make a survey of the ground, mark out the properties of the various Ngatiawa owners, and lay out certain roads, and the sites of block-houses and redoubts which were to be retained. 2

Mr. Rogan, on arriving at Taranaki, went to see Hapurona, who referred him to the Mataitawa natives, saying--"Go and see Arapeta and the people at Mataitawa. My peace is made with the Governor, as I ceded Onukukaitara, and am now under the Queen's protection. The subdivision of the land rests with the people; the Governor's object in having the land divided is good, but they are foolish blind people, ignorant of what is for their benefit, who will cause the matter to be confused." He added, in a complaining tone, that the Governor was a child in precipitating this matter at that time, before the wounds of the people were healed, and at the same time exhibited his own. In accordance with

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his suggestion, Mr. Rogan arranged a meeting with about twenty of the principal Mataitawa natives who had signed the terms of peace. They listened very attentively to the account of what the Governor had sent Mr. Rogan to do, after which Werata, a man who had signed the terms, rose and said: "I shall reply. Listen to our views on the matter of Waitara. Hapurona has given over Onukukaitara to the Governor, which we all assented to, and beyond that place we will not allow any interference." Another of the men who signed the terms followed--"You have come to inform us of the Governor's words about the Waitara. Hearken to mine. Onukukaitara has been given to the Governor for the wrong done to the Pakeha, and beyond that place the whole of the land you have described belongs to us. All the redoubts except Puketekauere, together with the entrenchments, are ours, and we have no intention of giving them up to the Governor in the way you propose. Not at all! We are satisfied with our own title to our lands, which are inherited from our fathers, and we shall have no interference with our property by the Governor; and remember, if you should come hereafter with your claim to measure, that is a path to death." Mr. Rogan found it quite impossible to survey the lands, and had to return to Auckland without accomplishing his mission. Such was the obedience which twelve months of military operations had conquered out of the Ngatiawa tribe.

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As for the Ngatiruanui, the second section with which Governor Browne had purposed to treat, they took not the slightest notice of his presence in Taranaki, or of the terms of peace which he dictated to them. They retained possession of Tataraimaka--a detached block of European land about twelve miles south of Taranaki--from which, at the beginning of the war, they had driven out the thriving settlers by whom it had been occupied. During the war, Tataraimaika, like other places, had been overrun by the enemy, the farms destroyed, and the houses gutted. The Ngatiruanui now declared that they held it by right of conquest as a security for the disputed block of land at Waitara.

The attitude of Waikato was sufficiently described in the foregoing chapter:--their independence and their King they were determined to maintain at all hazards, whosoever the Governor of the Europeans might be.

The difficulty of making peace out of this mass of confusion was immensely enhanced by the impossibility of getting the Maories to believe any professions or promises that came from the British Government. The existence of this profound distrust at the close of the Taranaki war, is a fact supported by overwhelming testimony. "I should think it hopeless at the present time," said Sir William Martin, before the Waikato Committee, in 1860, "to effect anything. You must build upon confidence: and, at this time, confidence

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in the native mind towards Government is very small. What I mean is not that the recent proceedings of the Government have created that want of confidence for the first time, but that there is always a latent distrust of the intentions of the Pakeha, which those proceedings rekindled, and for a time increased enormously." 3

Every pamphlet, every speech, every report of that time, alluded to the existing distrust as the chief difficulty in any future dealings with the race. The numerous officers sent by Sir George Grey into all the native districts of New Zealand immediately after his arrival were unanimous in reporting that their statements and professions were everywhere received with incredulity; and I can personally testify that any declaration made in the name of the Government in the Waikato district was usually received with the remark--"He maminga pea" (Perhaps it is a take-in. )

The causes of this distrust of our Government, which is always steadily on the increase, are not difficult to explain. The Maories in the course of their dealings with white men have discovered that the superior information of the latter renders natives always liable to be overreached. This feeling, joined to the extreme dislike which a proud, self-confident man has to be worsted in a bargain, has made the Maories, in all transactions of every kind with Europeans, suspicious and distrustful. Nothing but the most childlike truth

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and simplicity will gain their confidence; and these, unfortunately, are the last virtues of which a civilized government is usually possessed. All the assertions, written or oral, made by a government, have usually some design lurking beneath them which the savage cannot fathom. He therefore feels an instinctive repugnance to admit such statements at all, unless confirmed by independent testimony. Besides this, as governments are constantly making promises, which it is afterwards impossible or inconvenient to keep, an appearance of bad faith cannot always be avoided. The New Zealand Government has been so often unfortunate in this respect, that even its own officers and the colonial public place a very slender reliance upon its promises; and the natives, who are less able to appreciate and make allowances for the exigencies of statecraft, are very blunt in their expression of opinion as to its character. I will give one example of what the natives would consider perfidy and we should call defective administration. 4 In selling territories to the Crown, many chiefs made it a condition of sale, that Crown grants for certain reserved portions of the territory should be issued to them, which would have given them a legal tenure and a right to let such lands to settlers, thus providing themselves with an income. Legal difficulties were, however, raised by the colonial law-officers as to such grants, and year after year passed

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without the promises of Government being fulfilled. Soon after Sir George Grey's return, his attention was drawn to the subject, and the Government surveyor was directed to prepare a return of all cases in which Crown grants had been promised but never issued. So little care had been taken by Government to remember its engagements to the natives, that two months of unremitted rummaging amongst maps and original deeds of Cession in the Government offices was necessary before the tale of our bad faith could be furnished. It then appeared 5 that in no less than 178 cases, some occurring as long ago as the year 1848, Crown grants had been promised and the promises had never been fulfilled; and that in thirty of these cases Crown grants had actually been stipulated for as part of the consideration in the very deeds of Cession. Is there any wonder that the natives called the Pakeha "a humbugging people?"

It was expected by the New Zealand clergy and others, who had sympathized with the Maories in the Taranaki war, that the arrival of Sir George Grey would be hailed by the natives with delight, that they would rush into his arms, tell him their grievances, and follow his advice with confidence. The same opinion was also prevalent in England, whither most of the information about Maories that ever comes, comes at second hand through the New Zealand clergy.

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But this supposed feeling of personal confidence did not really exist. Sir George Grey, during his former administration, had succeeded in attaching the greatest chiefs to himself, not so much by presents and pensions, of which he was less lavish than is generally supposed, but by exercising his extraordinary power of persuasion in personal intercourse. On the mass of the people he never made much impression. But at that time, the influence of the old chiefs, though decaying, had not altogether vanished; and Potatau, Wi Tako, and others, who had become Sir George Grey's personal friends, were quite capable of keeping the country in tranquillity. But the day for a policy of this kind had gone by when Sir George Grey returned to New Zealand. Most of the old chiefs were dead, and the rest had become the followers and not the leaders of the public will. The Maories had contracted a passionate desire for nationality which overwhelmed the personal predilections of their chiefs, so that Sir George Grey found his old friends either unwilling to sacrifice their patriotism to personal friendship, or powerless to persuade their tribes to follow them.

The chiefs of Waikato, Wiremu Tamihana, Rewi Maniapoto, and others, were neither to be bribed, cajoled, nor coaxed into pursuing any other object than the advancement of their Maori nationality. It is true, that Sir George Grey was more feared than the former Governor; he had a character among the Maories for

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deep subtlety, and his visible acts were always thought to cover some deeper scheme which he wished to conceal. It was a common saying of the Maories, that Governor Browne was an eagle, that came swooping upon them from the clear skies, while Governor Grey was a rat [no offence is implied by the name], that burrowed under ground, and would come up in their midst when and where they least expected. Moreover, the Maories understood their own position far better than their Pakeha friends. They were conscious of a firm determination to maintain a separate nationality and an independent King. They understood Governor Browne's plain declaration, that the Queen had ordered him to put the King down; and they could not divest themselves of the idea that Sir George Grey was sent to accomplish the same purpose in some way different to that which Governor Browne had threatened.

But of all obstacles to the restoration of confidence, the greatest was the necessity of keeping the large body of troops sent out to quell the Taranaki insurrection waiting in the country, in case another insurrection should break out. The expenditure in the town of Auckland, occasioned by the presence of the soldiers, was so great, and was thought to be so advantageous to the citizens, that not a hint of the real sentiments of the natives on this subject was ever allowed to find its way into the public journals, and therefore remained altogether unsuspected by the people in England;

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neither was it likely that the Government would reveal anything which might deprive it of what all Governments so highly prize--the command of a large military force. But, in fact, the Maories asked themselves the simple question, Why are the troops remaining here? and as they could conceive no purpose except another war, they felt certain that the peace was hollow, and that the Pakeha was plotting some further attempt at coercion. Nothing short of the removal of most of the troops from New Zealand would have convinced the Maories that this was not so.

But though the presence of the troops caused distrust and alarm, it did not overawe the natives into submission. The Maories have never, hitherto, been convinced of our military superiority. What change General Cameron may have effected in their sentiments, it is yet too early to estimate. We have, on the whole, failed in every native war previous to that now proceeding. At first, a ridiculous estimate was made of the forces necessary to subdue New Zealand. It was said that a hundred militiamen could march from end to end of the island, and take every Pa in it. Our estimates have gradually increased, until at the present day Ave find twenty thousand men necessary for the conquest of a single district. In the war against Heke, the victory was won by Tamati Waka, and our native allies, in battles unrecorded in the common histories of New Zealand. At Taranaki, the loss of life--by which

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natives judge of success or defeat--was nearly equal on both sides; while the value of property actually destroyed or carried off by the Maories was estimated at 150,000l., our set-off being of the most trifling amount. Their estimate of their own powers, when talking quietly, and not gasconading at a public meeting, is moderate and just. In the open field, they say, our discipline, our rifles, and our artillery, make us irresistible; in the swamps and forests, their skill in avoiding close encounters, and their practice of ambuscades, which they call "the Maori artillery," render them superior, or at least equal, to our men. Their custom in warfare is to kill men and male children, except infants, wherever found: non-combatants are expected to move off from the scene of conflict. The better sort of chiefs have tried to adopt a more civilized mode of warfare, but in vain. They cannot control their people even in peace, and are not likely to do so in war. Murders--as we call them--thus committed, usually swell up the total of our loss nearly to an equality with theirs; and thus they have come to think that they can carry on warfare with us on pretty equal terms.

Besides the difficulties with which Sir George Grey had to contend in conciliating or conquering the tribes which had taken part in the Taranaki war, the state of the whole native population called for prompt measures of civilization and government. Actual insurrection had been confined to a small area, lawlessness and dis-

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content were universal. Indeed, in every other virtue, except loyalty, the Waikatos surpassed rather than fell short of the other tribes in New Zealand. There was room for reform in the very streets of Auckland, where natives of unblemished loyalty defied the law before the windows of the Native Office and under the eyes of the police.

It is quite evident from the above description of the state in which Sir George Grey found affairs in New Zealand that a Governor, though possessing sole and absolute authority and a plentiful command of men and money, would have had before him a task of no ordinary difficulty.

But a hindrance, with which the Maories had nothing to do, hampered the Governor in all his efforts, and was at last the immediate cause of the final break down. Sir George Grey had not only to persuade the reluctant natives once more to submit to British rule, and to devise a plan by which they could be efficiently governed, but also to settle finally whether the people of England or the colonists were to be responsible for administering the Government of the Maories.

When the constitution was originally conferred upon New Zealand, the native inhabitants of the country were altogether forgotten. Maories were practically excluded from the franchise and from both Chambers of the New Zealand Legislature, although no special provision was made to secure proper care for their

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interests. Since that time a continuous struggle had been going on between the ministers of the colony and the authorities of the Imperial Government--the former eager to possess full power to govern the native as well as European race, and at the same time resisting to the utmost the corresponding obligation of providing money and men for coercing their coveted subjects should they rebel--the latter vainly striving to escape from the ever-increasing cost of protecting the settlers against their native neighbours, and as unsuccessful in either providing a government for the Maories or preventing the settlers from carrying out any particular scheme of native policy they might choose to patronize.

On the colonial side it was urged that the colonists had a much greater interest in the good government of the Maories, upon which not only their property but their lives depended, than the authorities at home; that the funds for efficient government of the natives would have to come out of the ordinary colonial revenues, the expenditure of which they had a just right to control; and that it was impossible so clearly to separate the interests of the natives from those of the settlers, that they could be entrusted to the care of different departments.

On the other hand, the answer of the Imperial authorities was, that in the first place the honour of the British nation was pledged by the Treaty of Waitangi to a certain definite policy in native affairs, and that in

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the second place, so long as the British Government provided the military force, which protected the settlers, it was but reasonable that the Imperial officer should have some control over matters which might saddle the British nation with the cost of expensive and interminable wars.

The very first colonial ministry that succeeded in firmly seating itself in power, began the agitation of these questions, and it has been kept up continuously ever since. But until Sir George Grey's second Governorship, the Imperial Government nominally retained the whole responsibility in their own hands. The Governor of New Zealand acted entirely on his own opinion in all native matters. A staff of secretaries, commissioners, and clerks, neither responsible to the New Zealand Assembly, nor removable by the colonial ministers, carried out the Governor's policy, both in the purchase of native land, and the general management of the Maories. But with all this apparent authority, the Governor had very little real power, in as much as his colonial advisers, whom he was bound to inform of everything that was done, had a most effective check on him. In the Statute which established the New Zealand Constitution, the sum of 7,000l. per annum only had been placed beyond the control of the Colonial Legislature, as a provision for carrying on the Government of the natives. This sum, quite insufficient in itself to pay the expense of an effective government,

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including the costs of District Courts and Circuits, and the pay of the various secretaries and other officials, had besides been, to a large extent, disposed of and forestalled in the following manner.

A correspondence took place, in May, 1853, between the then Governor and the heads of the three principal religious bodies in New Zealand--the Bishop of New Zealand, the Superintendent of Wesleyan Missions, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland. Sir George Grey stated that, it having become necessary for him to recommend, for the sanction of Her Majesty's Government, the mode in which he proposed that the funds reserved for native purposes should be applied, he was prepared to recommend that the following sums should be placed at the disposal of each religious body for the purpose of native education :-- 6

Church of England......£3,500

Wesleyan Society.......2,300

Church of Rome..............1,200


The valuable assistance was thankfully accepted by all to whom it was offered, but "Sir George Grey only procured the approval of the Secretary of State to the following appropriations, viz.:--

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Church of England.......£3,500

Wesleyan Society..............1,600

Church of Rome....... 800

Total..................5,900." 7

At the earnest request of his colonial advisers, the succeeding Governor, Colonel Browne, "consented to devote to the use of schools, the remaining portion of the 7,000l. (viz. 1,100l.) which Sir George Grey had not previously appropriated to them. The Governor made this concession only because the sum was too small to be of importance, and because it had not been expended in the best manner; the salary of the Resident Magistrate at Auckland, whose duties were almost exclusively connected with Europeans, having formed one of the items." 8

Finally, the Governor received the following instructions from the Secretary of State:--

"So far as public faith is engaged towards particular local bodies for the maintenance of Sir George Grey's scheme or otherwise, it must be strictly preserved, and you are authorized to adhere to this principle against all opposition." 9

Thus Governor Browne was left without any funds whatever under his own control, to carry on the government of the natives.

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The colonists would not consent to vote money for native purposes generally, but only for such specific objects as they approved. Governor Browne, therefore, being destitute of funds, could not exercise his theoretical right to follow his own plan, but was always obliged to consult the Colonial Ministers, who alone could supply him with the means of acting at all. Thus, at the time of Sir George Grey's return, the colonists were getting pretty much their own way in the management of native affairs, and had at the same time the advantage of being able to cast the responsibility for anything that might be wrong upon the Imperial officer, who was nominally possessed of sole authority.

The British Government had at last become weary of this arrangement, in which the advantage was all on the Colonial side, while the risk was all borne by them; which had, moreover, totally failed to give the Home Government any real voice in the management of the Maories. Sir George Grey was to put an end to the double government.

It is worth noticing that the contest between the different departments for the government of the Maories began just at the time when the latter were making up their minds to govern themselves. Since then, the influence of the colonists in native affairs, and the determination of the Maories to be separate and independent, have both steadily increased. At

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the same time, all our efforts to escape from the expensive luxury of owning a colony like New Zealand have been in vain. The cost of the strife between settlers and natives, which must be either advanced or guaranteed by the Imperial Government, grows rapidly, and already forms a considerable item in the annual expenditure of the mother country.

1   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1861. E. No. 1, B. 2.
2   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1862. E. No. 1, Sec. II. 9.
3   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1860. F. No. 3, 1228.
4   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1862. E. No. 1, sec. II. 24.
5   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1862. E. No. 10.
6   N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1856. A. No. 7.
7   Mr. Richmond's Minute. N.Z. Parl. Papers, 1858. E. No. 1 A.
8   Governor's Minute. Ibid.
9   Despatch of Right Hon. H. Labouchere, 16th December, 1857.

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