1899 - Saunders, Alfred. History of New Zealand [Vol. II 1861 to 1893] - CHAPTER XLI. SEEKING PEACE--1861-1862, p 1-16

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  1899 - Saunders, Alfred. History of New Zealand [Vol. II 1861 to 1893] - CHAPTER XLI. SEEKING PEACE--1861-1862, p 1-16
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SEEKING PEACE--1861-1862.

"I want none of thy soldiers: I depend upon something better. On the Indians themselves, on their moral sense, and upon the promised protection, of God." WILLIAM PENN TO CHARLES II.

THE year 1861 was an eventful year, not only in the history of New Zealand, but in the history of the world. It was in the first month of that year that the first shot was fired in the great American War, which was ultimately to purify America from the curse of slavery. It was in the last month of the same year, or just sixty-two years after the death of the great Washington, that Prince Albert the Good died. This was also the year that the two Confederate envoys, Mason and Slidell, took their passage to London and Paris in the British steam-packet Trent. From this steam-packet they and their two secretaries were forcibly taken by the San Jacinto, under Captain Wilks, a rash act, which, but for the good sense of President Lincoln, who somewhat tardily acknowledged the mistake and returned the envoys to a British ship, would necessarily have involved England in the war, and would have changed the history of the world. In this year Europe acknowledged the independence of Italy; and the great Italian patriot, Cavour, was killed by six bleedings in twenty-four hours, under circumstances which put almost a

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sudden end to the long fashionable Brunonian system of medicine which had been allowed to slay its thousands and tens of thousands for more than eighty years. This was also the year in which Gladstone repealed that great tax upon knowledge--the paper duty--and in which the great earthquake in South West America was said to have slain nine thousand in the cities of Mendoza and San Juan.

In New Zealand the great political events of the year--the defeat of the War Ministry and the recall of their favourite, Governor Browne, the return of Sir George Grey, and the establishment of a National Bank--were quite thrown into the shade by the excitement of the great gold discoveries which so completely revolutionized the province of Otago. In the course of one year the population of that province increased from 13,000 to 30,000, fourteen thousand of the increase being in adult males; so that the actual producers of the province were at least multiplied by four. The tonnage of vessels entering Port Chalmers increased from 25,000 to 115,000, and import duties from £29,000 to £70,000. During the last five months of the year, gold from Dunedin was exported to the value of £727,426, paying a duty of £23,461.

The earnings of the diggers were generally good but were very erratic. The holders of the best claims sometimes earned as much as £20 a day, and some of these employed good men at day work at twenty shillings a day. But these were few in number, and such claims were usually soon worked out. Some were unable to earn enough to pay for the expensive provisions brought to them through the deep tracks of mud with so much difficulty; and not a few were constantly returning from the rough and comfortless struggle in which no prizes had fallen to them. But the general effect on the labour market was good, and the benefit was by no means confined to Otago. The demand for all kinds of agricultural produce, and especially for: mutton and horse feed, gave, for years, a steady support to the pastoral and agricultural pursuits of the colony,

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and thus afforded a permanent lift to many a plodding, deserving settler.

There was another class of wealth seekers to whom these gold-fields gave a lift more sudden and less permanently beneficial to the colony. Just before the diggings had assumed any very important dimensions, a few Auckland merchants and legislators started a Banking Company, and easily obtained the necessary legislation for the favourable establishment of the Bank of New Zealand. Some 45,000 shares were sold before the end of the year, and, soon after issue, their market value increased so much that he was considered the most fortunate man who had obtained the greatest number of shares. Thus the establishment of that Bank was long looked upon as one of the most important and most fortunate events of this eventful year. Of course such a sudden addition to the population, the progress, and the revenue of the province of Otago was not effected without some very undesirable concomitants. All that was so truly and so proudly said of the character of its population in the last speech of its first Superintendent was rudely changed by this sudden rush of an unselected population from all parts of the world, and more especially by the attraction that is always presented to the criminal class by the gold, by the unprotected state of life and property, and by the reckless disregard of each other's welfare that always marks large collections of the rougher sex untempered by the stronger and more kindly instincts of women made vigilant by their conjugal and maternal instincts. Unlocked doors and unprotected pockets went out of fashion. Skilled and associated assassins were soon systematically at work. Men could be strangled and effectually concealed without even being missed; and "six shooters" were in demand--both for honest and dishonest, purposes.

It was perhaps during this year that the strongest demand was made by the residents in the South Island for the political separation of the two islands: a demand that was necessarily strengthened, not only by the great

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increase of the revenue derived from the South, but still more from the intimations, which were growing more frequent and more distinct, from the Duke of Newcastle, that the New Zealanders must meet the expenses of a war in which the South Island had scarcely more interest and far less responsibility than the Duke himself. But it must be admitted that both the Duke and the few not very real Representatives of the South Island had done much by the support of Governor Browne's Waitara war to fasten no small responsibility for the war on their own shoulders.

Although his formal appointment as Governor of New Zealand did not arrive until some weeks later, Sir George Grey entered in earnest upon the duties of that office upon the 3rd of October, 1861. Whilst always wise enough to suppress all evidence of the fact, few men were ever more sensitive to public opinion or to public criticism than Sir George Grey. He well remembered that he had been often accused of a desire to escape all constitutional control in the administration of the government of New Zealand, and he was not the man to forget that Mr. Fox had, ten years ago, been one of his most severe critics. He was, therefore, careful to show at once that, notwithstanding the exceptional circumstances under which his services had now been called for, he was prepared not only to submit to control upon questions connected with the European government, but even upon the government of, and negotiations with the Maoris, which he was perfectly conscious must necessarily be more or less dependent upon the power that claimed the constitutional control of the colonial finances. He therefore made it his first business to meet and consult his responsible advisers, and to assure the Premier how conscious he was that their public duty now demanded their united and friendly co-operation. When thus approached Mr. Fox never allowed himself to be left behind in official courtesies, and was, no doubt, surprised to find how truly Sir George had estimated the impossibility of treating the government of the Maoris as a duty that

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could be completely separated from the government of the colonists.

Thus, with a promptness that was the result of matured consideration long before he had reached the shores of New Zealand, Sir George was able to submit, both to the Duke of Newcastle and to the New Zealand Cabinet, a form of government for the Maoris which soon commended itself to the approval of both; so that within a month after assuming the reins of government, accompanied by the Premier and Mrs Fox, the General and the Commodore, he started on a visit to his old friend Waka Nene--the great Chief of the Ngapuhi tribe--by whom both the Governor and his proposals were most cordially received. But it was otherwise when they reached the Maori seat of government, the Maori King, and the great Upper Waikato tribe, whose great Chief, Whero Whero, so long the friend and adviser of Sir George Grey, had passed away. Here, too, the long persecuted and unjustly defrauded Wiremu Kingi was an honoured guest and a protected refugee, and nothing would convince his protectors that it was safe to trust their liberty and their lands to the power of those who had treated their mild and esteemed friend so unjustly and so ungratefully.

The proposals of the Governor which were now offered to the Maoris comprised a complete system of local self-government for the Maoris of the North Island. The Island was to be divided into twenty districts, and each district to be divided into hundreds. The runangas of the hundreds were to elect representatives for each district runanga. The runanga of each district was to consist of a Civil Commissioner and twelve members. Hospitals, schools, and jails were to be controlled by them, and they were to arrange for the settlement of all land disputes. In explaining his proposals to the Duke of Newcastle, Sir George calculated that their adoption would involve an expenditure of £50,000 a year; and that, besides rendering English troops unnecessary, they would obviate an annual military expenditure of £129,000 paid by the colony.

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The King Maker explained these proposals most clearly and ably to the Waikatoes, and still laboured for peace; but he was not prepared to trust Sir George as he would once have done, and begged him to leave off forcing roads through the Maori land.

We have seen (Vol. I., page 429) how trustingly and how generously the King Maker accepted, on March 20th, 1861, Mr. McLean's assurance that Governor Browne sincerely wished for peace, and would be in a better position to arrange for it if the Waikato fighting men were withdrawn from Taranaki. The childlike confidence with which Tamehana Te Waharoa then adopted Mr. McLean's proposals, and at once led back four hundred able fighting men to Waikato, upon that assurance, gave the most fatal blow to his reputation amongst his own followers that the King Maker had ever received, and destroyed, for ever, the firm belief he himself had so long held that the representative of England's Queen would say or do nothing to deceive him. The complete alteration of the proclaimed terms of peace, and the refusal even to see Wiremu Kingi's daughter as her father's representative, which immediately followed the return of the Waikato Maoris, was naturally a shock to the King Maker's faith in Governors from which he never recovered, and which caused the more fervent Kingites ever after to regard him as a guide who was always in danger of putting too much faith in European promises. We have elsewhere pointed out the complete change of front adopted by Governor Browne, which was caused by the arrival of General Cameron only three days after Governor Browne arrived in Taranaki with the supposed intention of carrying out the terms of peace promised through Mr. McLean.

Few men ever appreciated the intellectual power of the Maori leaders so justly as did Sir G. Grey. As military leaders he thoroughly understood their value, and often said to his European officers after a battle, "What should we have done without the sharp eyes of our friendly Maoris?" But even he was not free from the delusion, so commonly suffered by Europeans

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as to the possibility of deceiving a Maori more easily than a European. He sometimes deceived himself so far as to hope that the Maoris would accept his assurance that his intentions were only peaceful, whilst they saw clearly enough that, without desiring war, he was systematically preparing for the possibility of it. It was thus that he sometimes vainly expected them to accept with gratitude the roads he was so willing to make through their own land; the block houses he was so anxious to build in the name of schools or printing offices; the newspapers he was ready to publish in their own language; or the informers he was so carefully appointing or retaining in the name of schoolmasters or magistrates. On such points both the King and the King Maker would still often have yielded to the wishes of Sir George Grey; but, after bringing back their troops from Taranaki, deceived by the promises of Governor Browne, the King Maker was sometimes distrusted and outvoted in their public assemblies, whilst a hot blooded chief named Rewi, who headed the fighting faction, was often successful with his proposals in opposition to the King Maker.

From their necessarily slow delivery it was always easy to report interpreted speeches accurately, and it is worth while to give a specimen of Sir George Grey's style with the Maoris, although his oratory was never so completely successful with them as it so universally was with a popular assembly of Britons. His style of talking to the Maoris was vastly superior to that of Fitzroy; but there was no small tinge of the same mistaken nursery twaddle about it which the Maoris never failed to detect. In trying to persuade the Kingites to approve of his roads, Sir George had said:--

"The next thing is about the roads. You seem to think that roads through the country would do no good. I think that they would improve the value of the lands through which they pass; and if you think I want to spend money in making roads through the lands of people who don't want them, thereby enriching them at

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the expense of others, you must think me a fool. In the country of the Europeans, they have to pay the greater part of the cost of the roads before the Government helps them. In the same way I should be very unwilling to make roads through native land, even if the owners came and asked me to do so, unless they paid part of the money. The only case in which I would pay for them would be, when the roads led to some very distant place which would benefit other districts, besides benefitting the lands of the natives through which they pass.

"I will give you an instance of what I mean. I hear Waata Kukutai is going to cultivate on the top of that mountain (pointing to the hill behind the village). If he does not make a cart road up to the cultivation I shall think him a very cruel man, for otherwise he will kill or injure all the women who will have to bring down the loads of produce; and the children that will be borne by them will be decrepit, and thus the tribe will be lost. But do you think I shall be such a fool as to come with troops and war to make the road? No! I tell him what will be the result if he does not make the road; and I leave it to him.

"I should like to see all the land covered with carts and horses and cattle, and all the people well dressed and flourishing, but I shall not come and cut their throats if they don't like it to be so. How should I like to be judged with a row of dead bodies laid out before me, and one should say 'How is this? Who slew them?' and I should have to say, 'I did, because they were foolish and did not know what was good for themselves!' Look there (pointing to a heavily laden bullock dray passing). Would you rather see your women laden with those things? Those men who like their women to be killed with hard work and who do not like oxen and sheep, why, it is their own look out?"

This was well answered by one of the most shrewd and temperate advocates for the King, who replied to this foolish assumption of the Maoris' childish simplicity with singular dignity and good sense, when he said to the Governor--

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"Your roads are not simply for fetching food from a man's farm. It is this which causes us to object to your roads and which creates our fear. At Taranaki the roads being there your guns reached the pah. This is our fear lest that strong, strange heavy cart--the cart of terror--should travel on it. But for this fear your roads would have been allowed long ago. But enough --you know all that."

We are tempted to give here the report of an address to the Maoris, of nearly the same date, by the greatest New Zealand orator of his day, not only because it shows how possible it would have been to have adopted a higher, as well as a more truthful and trusting style than that adopted either by the childish Fitzroy or by the insinuating art of Sir George Grey, but also because it justifies the supposition that the ever honest, just, and manly conduct of her Superintendent towards the Maoris had at least some share in the steady loyalty maintained by the Maoris in the Wellington province, even when tempted to deeds of blood by such a fiend as Rangihaeata. On Monday, March 10, 1862, a large number of Maoris, who had come into Wellington to welcome Sir George Grey on his first visit to that province, since his return to New Zealand, were invited to a dinner in the Provincial Council Chambers, presided over by His Honor the Superintendent, Dr. Featherston. In proposing the health of Sir George Grey, Dr. Featherston said:--

"He believed Governor Grey was personally known to almost all of them, and almost all of them to him, for he was a Governor who went riding about the country among pakehas and Maoris, ascertaining their wants and doing his utmost to remedy them. (Cheers). When Governor Grey was about to leave them their hearts had been dark, and they had expressed in many addresses their best wishes for his health and prosperity. Sir George Grey had not been away long before troubles arose, not between pakehas and Maoris, but between various tribes of their own race. A war was commenced which lasted for more than a year, in the course of

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which valuable lives, both among the pakehas and Maoris, were lost, and a large amount of property was destroyed. Many of them had sent a petition to the Queen asking her to send out Governor Grey again. When the Queen first received it she did not understand how the war arose, and the petition was not at once answered. When the Queen had enquired into the war, she determined to put a stop to it as soon as she could, and sent back Governor Grey to bring about harmony between pakehas and Maoris. Now Governor Grey had come to do certain things. He had come to enquire into their grievances, and if any existed to redress them. He had come also to confer the same privileges on them as were possessed by the pakehas, by giving them powers of self-government. But while the Queen had directed Sir George Grey to do these things, she had also instructed him not to allow rebellion on the part of either Natives or Europeans; for while ready to redress grievances and give the power of maintaining law and order, yet at the same time obedience to authority would be required from both races. This was the great work Governor Grey was sent to do, and it was to be hoped that pakehas and Maoris would alike assist him in doing it. He (the Superintendent) had hoped that Governor Grey would have been present; why he was not, Mr. Fox, who was the Governor's right hand man, would explain to them."

In his annual speech to his Provincial Council, some seven weeks later, Dr. Featherston, after expressing the hope and confidence that had resulted from the return of Sir George Grey, added:--

"My own belief, however, in the establishment of permanent peace, rests not so much on the change of Ministry or the re-appointment of Sir G. Grey, or the offer to the Natives of the institutions for which they have long been craving and striving, as upon the simple fact that His Excellency and his Ministers, by their offer to refer the question of the Waitara purchase to arbitration, have had the moral courage to proclaim to the Natives that the same principles of justice

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which guide men in their private transactions shall be observed between Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's subjects--that if wrong has been done even by Her Majesty's Representative, that wrong shall not be persisted in, but as far as possible repaired. Had this avowal not been made, a deep and keen sense of injustice, rankling and festering in the minds of the whole Native population, must have rendered a solution of the Native difficulties well nigh, if not altogether, hopeless. Without that offer of arbitration, peace was barely possible; that offer made, to my mind, war is barely possible."

Both the King and the King Maker heartily wished to avoid war; but they both looked upon Sir George as too clever to be trusted. They never had quite forgotten his capture of Rauparaha. In their own language, and in their own cautious way, they said that Governor Browne blundered in a way that no one could mistake, and always let them know that he wanted to go to war with the Waikatoes as soon as he was ready; but Sir George would talk smoothly and only strike when he was ready, and would then strike suddenly and successfully. A chief named Tipene was the most outspoken of the King's supporters, and said some very uncomplimentary things, even to the Governor. "If," said he, "a Maori pledges his land to the King, and then alters his mind, he will not be allowed to sell his land; but we shall not fight with him and kill him; we shall not do as you pakehas do." Altogether the Governor was greatly disappointed by the suspicion and distrust with which the younger men amongst the King party were disposed to receive all his friendly proposals, and, on his return, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle that "they showed an entire distrust and want of confidence in the Government."

With regard to Mr. Fox, the leading Maoris quite understood and appreciated all that he had done for them as leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, backed up, as he had been there, by Dr. Featherston and all the steady opponents of the war

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who came from Wellington. But they also understood--better than most Englishmen do--what a fickle thing Party Government was, and how much more powerful Mr. Fox could be as the Leader of a strong Opposition than as the nominal head of a badly chosen and badly supported Government. They had just seen how the change of one man's vote could put one Government out and put another Government in with a directly opposite policy. But, what was worse, they saw that none of their strong, decided friends, such as those from Wellington, had been placed in Mr. Fox's Ministry. Mr. Sewell and Dr. Pollen had but recently been nominated to the Legislative Council by the late War Ministry, and were still the trusted friends of Mr. Stafford; Mr. Wood was equally ready to take office on either side; Mr. Henderson had never given public utterance to any public opinion, and Mr. Ward had expressed the opinion that, as the only South Island member of the Ministry, he did not wish to make the South Island or himself responsible for any course that might be taken with reference to Maori subjects. So that, whilst the new Ministry was called in derision the "Peace at any Price Ministry," it was, in fact, a collection of neutrals presided over by a Premier so excessively amiable and conciliatory to his friends that his chief care would be to give them all their own way.

The best point in the King Maker's really wise conversation with Mr. Fox was:-- "We believe in you; we could trust you if you were able to do what you know to be right and just; but we understand that both you and the Governor must do what the white man's runanga directs you to do; and we know that one half of that runanga agreed with Governor Browne in going to war with Wiremu Kingi and hunting him like a wild pig, only because he would not sell the land which his father on his death-bed told him never to sell." The King's chief spokesman (Aporo) told Mr. Fox that "the Waitara was now hung upon the Gospel hook, and that it would be dangerous to take it down from the Gospel peg, and hand it over to such a wild beast as the Law."

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When Mr. Fox proposed to refer the claim of Wiremu Kingi to a Commission composed of a majority of Maoris, a native Chief asked him if Governor Browne had not been wrong and Wiremu Kingi right about the Waitara block. Mr. Fox replied in English, "Why, that is exactly what I always said in the House of Representatives." This was immediately translated to the large assembly of Maoris present, and the questioner at once replied, "How then can a fair trial take place unless the guilty Governor Browne be present?"

The King Maker's patience had been exhausted, his friends would no longer listen to proposals for inquiry into actions which they knew to be perfectly clear and to need no inquiry. To propose to set up a tribunal to enquire whether the principal Chief of his tribe had a right to be consulted as to the sale of land which was the joint property of the tribe who were willing and proud to owe allegiance to him--to the land upon which he and his family were actually residing at the time of the attempted sale by an inferior Chief--was just as insulting to Wiremu Kingi, as it would be to ask Lord Radnor to consent to the appointment of a tribunal to inquire whether his bailiff had a right to sell one of his Wiltshire estates without obtaining his consent. Instead of proposing such a tribunal, Mr. Fox should have gone to Taranaki, now that he had the power to demand witnesses and papers, and have obtained the evidence which Sir George Grey afterwards found it so easy to produce, and which immediately proved the claim of the persecuted Chief, as an owner, as a Chief, and as a resident, to be beyond the possibility of a doubt. Some sixteen months before Mr. Fox had become Premier, Wiremu Kingi, with the heavy guns pointed at him and his pah, had told Governor Browne that there had been "enough korero," and even the more patient King Maker had now come to the same conclusion.

Mr. Fox was naturally much disappointed and disheartened at the action of the King Maker. He could not fail to feel some humiliation at the low estimate

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which the Kingites had formed of his power and of his Ministry, more especially as he must have felt that what was said about a Party Leader without a majority was only too true. Under-rated by the Maoris, outvoted in his Cabinet, over-shadowed by the firmer and more able Governor, abused and misrepresented by the Press, his position was not an enviable one, and his usefulness was doomed to be rather negative than positive. His stinging jokes upon his political opponents and his mild acquiescence to the suggestions of his friends, were always a striking illustration of what Southey says about the holly tree:

Beneath, a circling fence, its leaves are seen wrinkled and keen;
But, as they grow where nothing is to fear,
Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear.
So, though abroad perchance I may appear harsh and austere,
Gentle at home, amidst my friends I'd be
Like the high leaves upon the holly tree.

But it was not only with his friends that Mr. Fox was always so ready to keep his sword in sheath. Even when calmly dealing with his strongest opponents--especially in writing--he constantly observed an amount of official etiquette, or excessive formal politeness, which often made him keep back the truth and fail to expose the most culpable actions of his predecessors. This is made particularly evident in his War in New Zealand, where he sometimes allows the blame to fall upon the wrong shoulders rather than incur the suspicion of ill will to those who had offended him by placing it on right ones.

Studiously polite as they were to each other, and sincerely desirous as they both were to establish their personal reputation by an early and lasting restoration of peace, there was no true affection nor respect, and therefore no reliable and effectual bond of union between Sir George Grey and the Premier. It was no choice of their own that now brought them together. There was between them much to forgive--much that was hard to forget--and this left little hope of the cultivation of any such sincere, unselfish, brotherly devotion as would raise them above petty aims. Nor were

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either of them sufficiently lifted above considerations of personal distinction and reputation to steadily pursue the public welfare regardless of public opinion, or of the share which either of them might chance to take in the distribution of public censure which was so liberally meted out to them both. Thus wanting in generous sympathy for the reputation of each other, they were both deficient in that essential element of true greatness which enabled Washington to silently endure the most stinging reproaches of the Press and of his countrymen, who charged him with slothful, cowardly, and criminal inaction when he was magnanimously saving the army from certain destruction by carefully concealing, alike from friend and foe, the fact that he was without ammunition.

It has often been asserted that, although a kind of negative peace was maintained, no progress was made in the establishment of any permanent basis of peace during the thirteen months in which the Fox Ministry was in power, because there was a constant difference of opinion, of object, and of intention between the Governor and his Ministry. But; without being exactly lovers or admirers of each other, there was certainly no outward dissension between them, and the proposal to assume responsibility in the Native affairs, upon which the Fox Ministry resigned, was commended to the House both by Mr. Fox, and by his confidential friend, Dr. Featherston, as being especially the wish of the Governor. Mr. Fox also stated in the House, on the very day of the division upon which his Ministry resigned, that there had never been the slightest difference between the Governor and his Ministers, either upon that or upon any other subject.

But the most fatal obstacle of all to the new Governor's success amongst the Maoris was the inexcusable and absolutely rabid provocation that both the friendly and unfriendly Maoris received from the Party newspapers writing in the supposed interests of the late Governor and the unseated Ministers. The recall of Governor Browne by the Duke of Newcastle, coming

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to light so immediately after the defeat of the Ministry that had supported him in every act of careless or ignorant injustice to Wiremu Kingi, and had resisted all inquiry as to the possible validity of Kingi's claim to the land in dispute, seemed to loosen the floodgates of abuse upon every person of either race who had suggested, ever so mildly, that Wiremu Kingi might be right after all. These attacks upon the Maoris, or the Maoris' friends, were written with a recklessness and an ignorance which seemed to forget that the Maoris, as a whole, had far more leisure to appreciate all the attacks made upon them, and were more systematically and regularly acquainted with all that was written about them than the European population would be. Mr. Fox had so constantly and strongly defended the utmost liberty of the press, that nothing could induce him to prosecute these mischievous promoters of war; and when Sir George Grey informed the Duke of Newcastle that "in the attacks thus made in some newspapers upon the natives, and upon all acts of fairness performed towards them, consists at present the greatest difficulty in this country," the Duke only advised him to see that the false reports were completely and carefully contradicted--a course that might have been possible in England, but certainly not in New Zealand.

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