1861 - The New Zealand War of 1860: an Inquiry into its Origin and Justice - Appendix, p 49-52

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  1861 - The New Zealand War of 1860: an Inquiry into its Origin and Justice - Appendix, p 49-52
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(From the Southern Cross.)

IT has always been my lot to be accused of opposing the interests of my own countrymen in the settlements of the New-Zealand Company, by supporting the claims of the native inhabitants. The root of all this appearance of opposition (for I deny that it was real) lay in the fact, that the Agents of the New-Zealand Company, while they recognised, by partial acts of purchase, the right of the natives to the land, did not sufficiently investigate the titles, and therefore failed to extinguish them. The solution of the question was made more difficult, by the large supply of double-barrelled guns which were given to the natives in payment for the land. A transaction which was supposed to give to two or three thousand Englishmen an absolute right to dispossess seven thousand armed New Zealanders, was concluded within a space of time, in which no honest conveyancer would undertake to draw a marriage settlement upon an encumbered estate. This was the wholesale mistake, which led to all the misfortunes and disappointments of the Company's settlers. If the purchases had been conducted with more deliberation, over small blocks of land, and with the consent of all the owners, there is reason to believe that the colonists would have remained undisturbed, as the purchases of private settlers have, almost in every instance, been sustained by the testimony of the native vendors. It is against all experience to say that either the New Zealanders are unwilling to sell land, or that, having sold it, they will not allow the purchaser to enter into possession. The Ngapuhi Chief, Hongi (to whose jealous fear of the forcible occupation of the country by the English many of the feelings of the natives of the present day may be traced), always encouraged the sale of land to the European settlers, and protected them in the enjoyment of their rights. I presume that it was in reliance upon this well-known character of the New Zealanders, that the first settlement was formed at Port Nicholson, before the arrival of Governor Hobson, as a federal government under the sovereignty of the native chiefs. When I find myself accused of blighting the prospects of my countrymen, I think it sufficient to point to the Province of Auckland, in which I nominally reside, where every merchant, and almost every settler would be ready to admit that the province owes its present wonderful prosperity to the peaceful union of the two races. One hundred and fifty coasting vessels bring native produce into the port of Auckland. Five large rivers, navigated by innumerable canoes, bring down from the heart of the country the flour ground in more than twenty native water-mills. Fifty thousand natives draw their supplies of clothing, tobacco, and hardware from its stores, paying a large share of the indirect taxation of the country, without so much as asking for a share in its representative institutions. I am sure that it has been the constant feeling in the Province of Auckland, that while the New Zealanders thus con-

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fidingly leave to our race the entire control over the revenue accruing from their industry, so much the more must be our bounden duty to legislate wisely and equitably for them. I am not aware that a single syllable has ever been said in that province about taking possession of land which the native owners were not disposed to sell. The result of this equitable system may be judged of by a single fact, that when Captain Fitz Roy waived the Queen's right of pre-emption, 70,000 acres of land were bought by English purchasers in the course of a few months; and the great argument alleged in favour of the "Penny Proclamation," (as it was called) was, that the natives would be discontented if they were restricted in the sale of their land.

The general appearance of the Province of New Plymouth justifies the belief, that, in respect of the joint interest of the two races, the state of the case is essentially the same as at Auckland. The coasting craft and canoes of that province are here represented by the almost innumerable carts which may be seen on market days coming from north and south into the settlement. Almost as many native ploughs are constantly employed in augmenting your exports. I hear of 125l. paid by a native purchaser as the price of a pair of working bullocks. The threshing machines in use in the settlement are said to be the property of native farmers. The river Waitara is stated to have exported in one year 500l. worth of produce; every shilling of which has been spent in your stores; and has paid its per centage to the revenue administered by your Provincial Council. Surely, then, it is as unjust as it is impolitic to grudge to an industrious people the possession of land which they have shewn themselves so able and willing to cultivate; and to look with an evil eye upon the places which remain waste; and even to threaten force, if they will not consent to sell the land, which, whether cultivated or not, is admitted to be their own. It is strange indeed that your advisers in the local newspapers (2) who dwell so much upon the sixth commandment, should forget altogether that the same law has also said, THOU shalt not covet. They may disguise it to their own consciences, but it is my duty, as a minister of the Law and of the Gospel, to lift up my voice against the publication of opinions, which would lead on to the sin of murder as the direct consequence of the sin of covetousness. I offer to my countrymen my best assistance and influence with the native people in all their just and lawful desires, but I have no fellowship with covetousness, because Ahab found it to be but the first step to bloodguiltiness. Surely there is enough of blood already crying out of the ground against the Christian nations of Europe--against Spain, and France, and England --to make us tremble for the issue of our own connection with the New Zealanders. I cannot remain silent while opinions are being expressed and plans proposed, which, if you prove to be the stronger, would destroy the New Zealanders; or, if you be found the weaker, would destroy yourselves.


The advocates of the war having ignominiously failed in their various attempts to bring discredit upon Archdeacon Hadfield, have resorted to the expedient of representing Otaki, where he resides, and where his influence with the natives is justly great, as the head-quarters of on anti-land-selling league. This, like the charge against the Archdeacon that he had maliciously concealed certain letters of Wiremu Kingi (before alluded to) from the Governor; and that he had instigated the natives of Otaki to petition for the recall of the Governor--a statement which had no element of truth whatever in it--is simply intended to divert attention from the conduct of the real originators of the war. There

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is grave reason to believe that the whole story of a land league, in the sense of a general combination of the natives to prevent any further sale of their lands, is either a fabrication altogether, or a gross exaggeration. Certainly William King had no connection with it. In a lettter to the New-Zealand, Spectator (dated Nov. 3. 1860) Archdeacon Hadfield sheds considerable light on the subject. He says:--

What I now assert, and until proof is adduced to the contrary by those who can shew where this imaginary league exists, must continue to assert, is, that there is no such league, and that there never has been any such league; that the whole story is an invention, a fabrication, an imposition; that it either is a fiction, or the Government is chargeable with gross negligence for never having taken steps to put down a conspiracy having objects so clearly avowed and so dangerous as Mr. M'Lean states them to have been seven years ago. But I am quite sure that no proof can be adduced to the contrary. It may be suggested that I am ignorant of the subject. But until the questions I have asked above are satisfactorily answered, there is such a prima facie appearance of incredibility about it, that the charge of ignorance is hardly worth refuting. But Mr. M'Lean is debarred from making such an objection, because he has stated his belief that the league commenced at Otaki, in which case no one would be more likely than Mr. Williams and myself to have some knowledge of this league; but we both assert it to be a fiction.

The Native Minister made use of language in the House very similar to that used by Mr. M'Lean. And during the whole of the debates on the origin of the Waitara hostilities, it was really amusing to notice how every speaker on the Ministerial side of the House, when all arguments in defence of either the justice or necessity of the war seemed to fail, immediately had recourse to the land-league. William King was called a land-leaguer (I think Mr. Richmond invented the term), and this invariably produced a (hear hear). This was considered an unanswerable argument, on the principle, I presume, of omne ignotum, &c. This imaginary league did more service on the Government side of the House than all the other fictions invented for the occasion put together, such as, Teira's chieftainship--William King's armed resistance to the survey--or his refusal to meet the Governor before war was officially declared. The general ignorance displayed on the subject by the Native Minister and his supporters may account for, though it does not justify, the use made of this bugbear. But Mr. M'Lean cannot be excused in the same way. I must repeat, that the language contained in the passage cited above from his statement deliberately made before the Committee of the House, is the most barefaced and shameless fabrication that I ever knew to be officially made.

I shall probably be asked whether there was not such a land league at Otaki many years ago, and whether this league did not keep gaining ground for some years, until a general meeting took place in the Ngatiruanui country seven years ago. The answer has been given by Mr. Williams: "The Otaki and Manawatu natives (principally Ngatiraukawa) entered into an agreement not to sell any more land within certain boundaries, over which they had an undoubted control according to native custom. This agreement was, however, cancelled in 1852."

It would simply be an absurd and unwarrantable abuse of language to call this local agreement, made for the prevention of the further sale of land until some internal differences and disputes had been ad justed, a league. But this agreement, made for a temporary purpose, and which terminated in 1852, is the only agreement of the kind that has ever existed here. To assert, therefore, as Mr. M'Lean does, that this local, temporary agreement, which he calls a league, and which actually ceased in 1852, "kept gaining ground for some years until

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a general meeting took place in the Ngatiruanui country" where the murderous resolutions already referred to are said to have been agreed upon, and that it ultimately developed itself in an anti-land-selling league which occasioned most of the difficulties and opposition which were encountered in the attempted purchase of Waitara, is to state what is absolutely false. Mr. Williams confirms my statement: he says-- "The meeting at Manawapou, in the Ngatiruanui district, had no connection whatever with the agreement entered into at Otaki and Manawatu, which had been cancelled two years before."

I have already denied that any such resolutions as those mentioned by Mr. M'Lean were adopted at the Manawapou meeting. The attempt made at that meeting to get up a land-league utterly failed; and failed, let it be observed, through the advice of the few Natives who attended from Otaki and its neighbourhood. The decision arrived at was that stated by Mr. Williams-- "that each tribe should be left to manage its own affairs; the very opposite of an anti-land-selling league. Mr. Williams likewise correctly says-- "what is called the land-league at Waitara was entirely of a local character." It was in fact a mere temporary agreement among members of the same tribe, the actual owners of the one particular district, not to sell any more land. I have distinctly stated in my evidence (42) what the cause of Rawiri Waiaua's death was. Until my statements made on that occasion are refuted, I must decline to attribute his death, and the deaths of those persons who shared his fate, to an imaginary cause.

There may still be objections raised by persons little acquainted with this subject. It may be asked--How comes all this talk about a land league if no league exists? Is it possible there can be all this smoke without any fire to cause it? A very few words will suffice to answer this. I believe there has been, during the last ten years, no general disinclination on the part of the Natives to dispose of their lands. Purchases of several extensive districts have been made. But it will hardly be denied by any one competent to give an opinion on the subject, that very great dissatisfaction has existed (which has, during the last few years, increased) with the mode in which transactions have been carried on by the Land Commissioners in reference to the purchase of land. Quarrels have been fomented, and, as in the case of Taranaki, when Rawiri was killed, and in the disturbances at Ahuriri, many lives were lost. The result has been the formation from time to time of separate and independent agreements in various tribes for protesting against, and peaceably resisting, the mischievous proceedings of the Land Commissioners. But I positively deny the existence of any combination, or confederacy, or league, between any two distinct tribes.

W. M Watts, Crown Court, Temple Bar.

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