§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, that he rose to call attention to the state of affairs in the North Island of New Zealand. Under the Treaty of Waitangi the rights of British subjects were given to the New Zealand people, and the local rights affecting property were guaranteed in their integrity as then existing, and amongst these was a tribal right by which no native could sell any portion of land without the consent of the chief of the community to which he belonged. There was also a block of land on the Waitara river of about 600 acres, upon the sale of which, without his consent, William King, as chief of the Ngatiawas, had a veto, which he had distinctly exercised. The Waikatos had been partly in possession of this land through a successful inroad, made during the absence of the bulk of the tribe of Ngatiawa, though a portion of the latter had still remained thereon, and the rest intended to return, and did so return. At the instigation of certain colonists, the Government had announced its readiness to purchase more land from the natives. At a meeting 480 which took place subsequently, a person named Teira, himself a Ngatiawa, declared his willingness to sell the disputed land to the Government. Now that man was only a member of the subordinate body, and, therefore he had no right to dispose of any land without the consent of his chief, and that chief was William King. Such was the origin of the unhappy differences that had arisen in the island. The papers laid before the House contained evidence to show that great injustice had been done to the aborigines. They complained bitterly that, while we professed to have given them the rights of British citizens, we had failed to discharge towards them many of the duties of Government, but allowed murderous conflicts to be carried on among them without check. The colonists were anxious to get more land, though they had already what seemed to be quite enough for their purposes—namely, about 27,000,000 acres, of which some 7,000,000 were in the North Island, and, from the papers, it would appear that the Government out there were acting under pressure; but when William King refused to allow the land to he sold the proper course would have been to refer the matter home to the Colonial Secretary to see whether or not he approved of land being taken under such circumstances. It was hardly worth while, in order to obtain a few hundred acres in addition to what had already been ceded to them, for the Government to precipitate hostilities with the natives. He thought they had not set such an example to the natives as might be expected, considering their position, and that the doctrines taught them by missionaries had not been carried out. The commandment, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods," had not been observed. The case would not bear examination. They were told that 5,000 troops would be required for the defence of the colonists, and it was uncertain who would have to pay the cost. Some years ago he had protested against guaranteeing a loan of £500,000 to New Zealand, obtained in a manner he would not stop to characterize, and now he feared they would be also required to pay a heavy bill for a war which had arisen out of a gross blunder and a gross injustice. There could be no better opportunity than, on going into Committee of Supply, for asking the House to hesitate before endorsing the conduct of the Government.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end
of the Question, in order to add the words while, this House is prepared to contribute all the aid in its power to the Executive in putting down rebellion in Her Majesty's Colony of New Zealand, yet, having regard to the Treaty of Waitangi, it would rejoice to hear that the difficult and complicated question of the title to the block of land at the Waitara is to be the subject of inquiry before a special tribunal immediately on the re-assertion of the Queen's authority,'"—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the hon. Gentleman had merely given notice of his intention to call the attention of the House to this subject, and bad not intimated to the Government the terms or the nature of the proposition with which he had concluded bis speech. The hon. Baronet had taken for granted all the points at issue. It was not proved, but the hon. Baronet had assumed that the Government of New Zealand supported by the Government at home, had committed a gross blunder and a gross injustice in these dealings with the native chiefs. Any one who read the ample blue book on New Zealand affairs, in a candid spirit would come to a different conclusion. The hon. Baronet represented a very small party in New Zealand who had strongly objected to the proceedings of the Governor and of the Government. But the result of discussion by a free Parliament and a free press in the colony itself had been to approve the policy of the Government by overwhelming majorities in both Houses of the Legislature, and, he believed, by a majority of the missionary body, a portion of whom had very zealously advocated the cause of the native chiefs. A very powerful portion of the clergy of the Church of England warmly advocated the cause of the chief William King, and they did so beyond the bounds of moderation, and with a zeal which blinded them to the true merits of the case, and made them unjust to their countrymen. There were many clergymen who did not concur in these views, and the missionaries of the Wesleyan, and of every other denomination, including those resident on the spot where the disturbance—which no one regretted more than Her Majesty's Government—had taken place, gave a hearty support to the policy of the New Zealand Government. Such bad been the result of discussions in New Zealand itself—discussions which had been conducted with so much ability and moderation that hardly any- 482 thing could possibly he added on either side of the question, as might be seen by reference to the reports of the debates in the Legislature which were inserted, though it was unusual to insert them in the blue book. The hon. Baronet assumed that the Government, in the purchase of a small portion of land, had violated the Treaty of Waitangi by setting aside the right known as the tribal right. It appeared, however, from the evidence of Mr. M'Lean, the head of the native land purchase department, and who was a most competent authority, that there was no such invariable right as that alleged. It was true that land in New Zealand was held under a tribal and joint occupation; but this communistic and joint occupation was of the most varying character. It might in some cases extend to the whole tribe; in most, however, it was confined to smaller communities, to families and small proprietaries of that description. Indeed, if anything was more evident than another it was that there was no definite, precise rule of tribal title; that no such rule could be found in the treaty, and that the consent of all the proprietors which was necessary, had been obtained. The Treaty of Waitangi had been interpreted in the most liberal way by Her Majesty's Government and the Government of New Zealand, and every doubt which had arisen in its construction bad been decided in favour of the natives. The acquisition of native land in the case in question had been obtained with the full and free consent of the owners of the land, although the land itself was wild and valueless to the proprietors, being only valuable when acquired by Europeans. It was believed that the chief of the tribe in the Taranaki district had no right whatever to forbid the sale of land, and certainly that right had never been acknowledged by any Governor since English rule was established in New Zealand. The land concerning which the dispute bad arisen had really been bought two or three times over, and he believed that it was owing only to the want of power on the part of the English Government to enforce their rights that the question had been kept open so long. Twenty years ago the Taranaki district was conquered by the Waikatos; and the ground was purchased by the New Zealand Company not only from the Waikatos, but also from the resident tribe of the Ngatiawa, to which William King belonged. The purchase was investigated by the Lands Purchase Com- 483 missioner. Mr. Spain, who, although with a strong bias in favour of native claims, decided on that occasion for the New Zealand Company. Governor FitzRoy, however, refused to carry out the award of the Commissioner solely upon the ground that compensation ought to have been provided for several of the owners of the land who were absentees at the time of the transaction. For that refusal Governor FitzRoy was censured and recalled by the right hon. Gentleman who was now Chancellor of the Exchequer, and who was then at the head of the Colonial Office. Governor Grey, who succeeded him, endeavoured, as far as his power went—and in such a case it was a question of power no less than right—to give effect to the award of Mr. Commissioner Spain. Subsequently, there had been various other purchases of land in the Taranaki district by the Government of New Zealand, every one of which had been effected in the same manner by the same agents, and on the same principles as that which William King had resisted. That was proved conclusively by the documents in the blue book, and by the evidence of the head of the Lands Purchase Department. In none of these cases was there the slightest recognition of William King's right to put a veto on the disposal of land, nor was he even consulted on the subject. It was impossible that the tribe at large could pronounce against the sale of land to Europeans, because they were a tribe which had been not only conquered, but were broken up and dispersed in various parts of the country, and were not represented by any head, for King had never been acknowledged by them as chief. The question of the sale of land had given rise to a very excited controversy among the natives of that part of the island, one party taking the enlightened view that it was for the interest neither of the natives nor the settlers that the former should retain possession of tracts of waste land; and the other, with William King at their head, doing everything in their power to prevent the acquisition of land by Europeans. The feelings of King himself on this question were illustrated by the intention which he avowed upon one occasion to his follower of burning his enemies, as he called those who were willing to sell land to the settlers, over a slow fire, and which he was prevented from carrying into effect only by the intervention of the English Government. The dispute really did not rest on any 484 technical points, but involved the broad question whether Queen Victoria was Sovereign of the country. In 1859, Governor Gore Browne announced that he was willing to purchase land from all parties who could show an undisputed title to the land, and that he was determined to put down all attempts to intimidate natives from selling their land who wished to do so. The consequence of that proclamation was the present quarrel. A chief named Teira offered some land for sale to the Government. He represented the joint resident owners of the land to the number of seventy, all of whom were desirous of disposing of it to the Government. The bargain as to this tract of land was made precisely in the same manner in which similar proceedings were usually conducted in New Zealand. There was a gathering of some of the leading men. William King, who was present, while asserting no claim to the land, declared that he would never permit it to be sold, and then abruptly left the meeting with all his people. Had King submitted any legal claim to the land, it would have been duly entertained under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, but he chose simply to set the English Government at defiance, and to put a peremptory veto on the sale. That view was confirmed by a most impartial authority, the present Chief Justice of New Zealand, as would be seen in his speech in the Legislative Council. The secret of William King's conduct was, that for some years, before the native king movement was set on foot, he had been at the head of a league established in the neighbourhood of Taranaki for preventing the sale of land to Europeans and the extension of the English boundaries; and it was not as the head of a tribe, but as the chief of that confederation that he had resorted to arms, to prevent willing owners from selling their land to Europeans. He had done more. The moment he found that the Governor was prepared to assert his rights, he joined the native king movement, and placed himself and his territory under the protection of the so-called Maori king. Throughout the blue book there would be found no evidence of any expression of native feeling as to the violation of tribal right being the cause of the war, a complaint which had been invented for them by the ingenuity of their European advocates in New Zealand and in this country; the sole idea in the native mind was that it was a contest between the 485 native king league on the one hand, and Her Majesty's authority and supremacy on the other. The only question which was asked by the portion of the Waikato tribe which had joined the rebels was whether the land at Taranaki was placed under the native king before or after the Governor's purchase. If it was purchased before William King placed himself under the Maori sovereign, they said they would have nothing to do with it; but if afterwards, they should consider it part of their dominions, and would endeavour by-force of arms to retake it. It was said by the most able opponents of the Governor's conduct that this disputed land title ought to have been decided by some other tribunal. The answer to that was, that this purchase had been conducted upon the same principles and by the same agents as any other purchase of land in New Zealand. The suggestion that a court of justice should have decided upon these claims was founded upon an entire misapprehension of the circumstances of the country and of the state of the native mind. Although the Treaty of Waitangi promised to the New Zealanders all the privileges of British subjects, the natives had not yet learnt to value those privileges, and would not submit to the duties which their possession would impose upon them. The Governors had never had sufficient power to enforce English law or the Queen's jurisdiction in the native districts, and the consequence was that in all transactions between Europeans and natives the Queen's sovereignty was of no avail, and all questions, such as the restoration of stolen property, the apprehension of criminals, and, still more, the purchase of land, had to be made matters of negotiation through the principal chiefs or the missionaries, without any assertion of the Queen's authority or any order of a court. However desirable it might be to establish a court for the settlement of these questions, the difficulties in the way of the adoption of such a course were enormous; nor would William King have paid any more attention or deference to the Judge of such a court than he did to the native commissioners deputed by the Governor. This purchase was negotiated in accordance with the terms of the treaty of Waitangi, and in the same manner as all others had been; it was conducted by the same gentleman,—a man of the highest character, who had purchased millions of acres for the Government, and it would 486 have been as fortunate as all the others had turned out, but for the fact that there was in existence a powerful native organization directed against the authority of the British Crown. But for the Maori king league, William King would never have ventured to treat the Governor with defiance; and it was equally certain that, such a league existing, a contest must sooner or later have taken place between the Governor and the natives who supported it. The claims put forward by William King and his supporters were so extravagant that they were utterly repudiated by many of the chiefs; they amounted simply to an assertion against the Crown and against the interests of the natives themselves of the counter rights of the so-called Maori king. It was as much in the interest of the natives as of the colonists that the New Zealand Government resisted this movement, because nothing could be more fatal to the interests of the colony than that it should be kept in a state of disturbance by the vain attempt to assert a separate native sovereignty. He could not answer for the unscrupulous feelings of individual Europeans, but there certainly was no disposition on the part of the Government to treat the natives with harshness or injustice. The debates of the New Zealand Legislature, and the opinions of leading politicians in that colony, were all opposed to the separation of native interests from those of the European residents; and a great deal of respect was shown both to native feelings and native claims. It was impossible to conceive a more difficult position than that in which the Governor of New Zealand was placed. Obliged to act under a Constitution which appeared to have been framed in forgetfulness of the existence of large native tribes within the dominions to which it was intended to apply, he was the head of an ultra-popular Government, in which the executive, where it ought to be strong, was essentially weak. He had not that command of funds enjoyed by Sir George Grey and his predecessors for the purpose of conciliating the natives and for promoting native objects. The revenues of the colony, with trifling exceptions, and even the sums raised by the sale of waste lands belonging to the Crown, were at the disposal of the Legislature; while his power was broken up and frittered away by the institution of provincial Governments, the heads of which were not his delegates, but were elected by universal suffrage, and were often his 487 political opponents. So far from assisting and supporting his measures, they were often incited to oppose them by feelings of opposition to him or his Ministers. In the difficult position in which he was placed the present Governor, he believed, had acted as a man of honour, of humanity, and of discretion; his efforts had always been directed in their behalf against any encroachments by the New Zealand Legislature, and he had never been a consenting party to any transaction inconsistent with the rights guaranteed to them by treaty. His policy had been sanctioned by an overwhelming majority of the educated classes in the colony, both in and out of Parliament. The representatives of the middle island, in which no conflicting interests existed—a most intelligent and enlightened set of gentlemen—unanimously supported the views on which he had acted; and at a native conference held last year it was decided, with hardly a dissentient voice, that the Governor was in the right. If he had been guilty of anything like the conduct imputed to him in violating the treaty the country would have been in a flame from one end to the other. Under these circumstances, he held it was the duty of the Home Government to give their support to the Governor. His hon. Friend suggested that a commission should be sent out. Did he mean that while the natives were in arms anything was to be done to weaken the authority of the Governor and to lead the natives to suppose that if they only held out long enough they would succeed in their misguided endeavours? Could any policy he conceived which would be fraught with more miserable consequences? As he had before stated, no intention existed to violate, in any way, the rights secured by treaty to the chiefs. This just policy had been inculcated in despatches sent out by his noble Friend, and the instructions would be repeated if necessary. The Governor had endeavoured, and was endeavouring, to steer between two extremes. On the one hand he was bound to consult, and on no account to sacrifice, the interests of the colonists. On the other hand, he was bound scrupulously to respect the claims of the natives, while setting his face against the morbid advocacy of their supposed rights and feelings. The duty of the British Government was clear. It was to put an end at as early a period as possible to these hostilities, which, if they in- 488 jured the colonists, roust ruin the native race; and to extend as soon and as largely as possible the blessings of British law and of equal dealing to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in New Zealand.
§ MR. SELWYN
said, that after the course which had been taken by the Government, a grave responsibility devolved upon the House and especially on those Members who had been honoured by communications from the colony, as they were bound to do all in their power to prevent the continuance of that unhappy war, which might otherwise spread till it assumed the disastrous character of that most fearful of all wars—a war of extermination between two races both subject to the same Crown. With regard to the objection made to the Motion for want of notice, the requisitions it contained had been embodied in the Resolutions of the Church Missionary Society, which were submitted to the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Office before the meeting of Parliament, and, therefore, he thought the hon. Gentleman had no right to complain on that score. He was glad to hear the desire professed by the Under Secretary for the Colonies on the part of the Government to support the noble declaration of Lord Derby that it was the duty of England to maintain with a strict and impartial hand the Treaty of Waitangi. Everyone must admit, however, that the actions of the Colonial Government had been such as to induce the suspicion that it did not intend to adhere to the treaty, and Her Majesty's Government had incurred a serious responsibility in declining to make a declaration in the name of the Queen and the Home Government that the treaty would be maintained. [Mr. C.FORTESCUE: I did not mean to decline that.] He was glad to hear it, because he thought it was the first step towards a pacification of the natives. He would not read the treaty again, but he would ask the House to bear in mind these two points. First, that it secured, not only the individual rights of the natives, but also all the property which they collectively possessed; and, secondly, that it gave the option to the natives to hold their property as long as they desired to retain it. Now, two blue books were published last Session which contained matter even more important in regard to this question than the blue book of this year to which the hon. Gentleman had exclusively directed his attention, and which appeared to have 489 been prepared to meet a particular purpose. In considering the rights which the natives of New Zealand collectively possessed it was important to remember that they were men who had exaggerated notions of the value of their possessions, and who were well informed upon the boundaries of the possessions of each tribe. It was a point of honour to preserve them, though as to the ownership of land within the boundaries there was more confusion, because no person cultivated more than a small portion, and if he vacated it another member of the tribe could take the same spot—and while it remained unoccupied it was, together with the rest of the land belonging to the tribe, enjoyed in common by all for pig-runs, for gathering flax, digging fern-root, snaring ducks and pigeons, and other similar purposes. But as to any idea of its being in the power of any one or more of the natives to alienate to a stranger any portion of the land thus held collectively by the tribe, it was plainly inconsistent with the tenure on which the property was held. This was confirmed by the evidence of the witnesses quoted by the hon. Under Secretary himself, and also that collected by Governor Browne and the Board of Inquiry instituted by him. Governor Browne stated thatThe right of the natives to alienate land was restricted by the obvious necessity of maintaining the unity of the tribe, of securing its right to service from each member, and of preserving its land from going into the hands of strangers."—[Parl. Papers, March 1861, p. 170.]The Board of Inquiry reported thatGenerally there is no such thing as an individual claim, clear and independent of the tribal right."—[Parl. Papers, July, 1860,p. 237.]This was fully confirmed by the Chief Land Commissioner, Mr. M'Lean, on whom the Under Secretary of State so greatly relied, and it was clear that the general custom prevailed at Taranaki, for Mr. Superintendent Brown, of Taranaki, had said—I do not think any native has a strictly individual claim to land."—[p. 284.]The hon. Gentleman said that the Wesleyan missionaries were all on his side; but the Rev. J. White, a Wesleyan missionary gave an opinion which, having been expressed before these disputes occurred, was of the more value. He said thatNo native has anything more than a right to individual occupation and cultivation or locating a house on the land; if a sale is to be effected the sanction of the tribe is required."—[p. 274.]Mr. Johnson said— 490He had been informed by a New Zealand chief that there was not one native in New Zealand who could lay his hand on a piece of land as large as a table and call it his own. In one instance, he added, the natives wished to have a Crown grant, but they preferred holding it in common.The Bishop of New Zealand, who had travelled over the island, said he frequently heard complaints that the natives resident in English districts would not fence their land, but he had seen whole districts abandoned by the native owners on account of English cattle trespassing on their cultivations.
The letter which he (Mr. Selwyn) held in his hand contained a sketch of a block of native land held by native custom by many proprietors cultivating patches without dividing fences.One proprietor insists upon selling to a stranger who brings his cattle on the ground, refuses to pay damages, because by the colonial law owners are required to fence their land. By breaking up the social compact, this one proprietor imposes upon all his brethren a tax exceeding the whole value of their land.He (Mr. Selwyn) had troubled the House with this evidence in order to show how mistaken the Under Secretary of State was in supposing that this claim of tribal right was something which had never been dreamed of by the natives, but had been invented for them by the ingenuity of their European advocates. So far was this from being the case, that it was obvious that the right was one necessarily incident to the political and social condition and habits of the people, having regard to their want of agricultural skill and capital. The custom insisted on by the natives was not one as the hon. Gentleman had suggested, dependent upon technical points or seignorial rights, but one of a practical kind, and arising from the wants and necessities of their daily life. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the original cause of the dispute, and he attributed it to the Land League and the Maori King movement, but the same blue books to which he (Mr. Selwyn) had before referred would show that long before the Maori movement or the Land League was beard of, the desire on the part of the settlers to possess this land, and the refusal of the natives to sell it, was well known in New Zealand. He would refer, in the first place, to the evidence of Major Nugent, an officer who once held the office of Native Secretary, and had been most justly praised by Governor Browne, and who was intimately acquainted with the language 491 and habits of the natives. That Gentleman, in a dispatch dated 20th September, 1855, said—That the Taranaki Herald did not disguise the wish of some persons to drive Wirimu Kingi and his party away, and that he could not answer for the continuance of tranquillity while such inflammatory articles were published, and when people did not disguise their wish to seize on the land of the natives."—[Parl. Papers, July, 1860, p. 143.]One of the letters of Wirimu Kingi to the Governor, dated 8 June, 1844, and consequently long before the commencement of the Land League or the Maori King movements, contains these passages—This also is the determination of our people. Waitara shall not be given up; the men to whom it belongs will hold it for themselves. Friend Governor, do you not love your land, England, the land of your fathers, as we also love our land at Waitara."—[Parl. Papers, March 1861, p. 212.]This refusal on the part of the natives to sell this particular portion of land was also evidenced by a Report of Mr. M'Lean, dated 26th August 1844. [Parl. Papers, March, 1861, p. 213.] But there was one dispatch from Governor Browne himself, which showed so clearly the feeling in the, colony and the real cause of the dispute, that he (Mr. Selwyn) must request permission to read an extract from it. It would be found in the second of the blue books to which he had referred at p. 77—The middle island was acquired for an almost nominal sum, and large tracts in the northern islands have been acquired at prices varying between a farthing and sixpence an acre. Assuming the whole of the northern island to contain 26,000,000 of acres, and that the native title has been extinguished over 7,000,000, there remains 19,000,000 owned or occupied by about 57,000 Maoris. A large portion of this consists of mountain and dense forest, but the remainder, which includes some valuable land, is greatly in excess of all these possible wants. The Europeans covet their lands and are determined to enter in and possess them. Recte si possunt si non quocumque modo."—[Parl. Papers, 27th July, 1860.]The new reading was the Governor's.This determination becomes daily more apparent. A member of the Auckland Provincial Council stated in the council that the fault lay in the system of acquiring land from the natives. We were called upon to leave them the best land and sacrifice ourselves to sympathies for the natives, and all that kind of humbug.A stream of immigration is pouring thousands of settlers into this province every year. Soon, therefore, a want of available land will really be experienced, and it cannot be concealed that neither law nor equity will prevent the occupation of native lands by Europeans, when the latter are strong enough to defy both the native owners and the Government, as will be the case ere long.The immediate consequence of any attempt to acquire Maori lands without previously extin- 492 guishing the native title to the satisfaction of all having an interest in them would be an universal outbreak, in which many innocent Europeans would perish, and colonization would be indefinitely retarded, but the native race would be eventually extirpated. The interests of the two races are really identical, but they are not so apparently, and whenever the pressure from without is sufficiently strong it is evident that a ministry responsible to a popular assembly must and will yield.Such was the account given by the Governor himself of the real cause of the present dispute, and after hearing it the House would be able to appreciate at their just value the opinions of the Colonial Assembly and of the colonial press, upon which the Under Secretary of State had so greatly relied. He (Mr. Selwyn) subscribed to the statement of the hon. Under Secretary of the Colonies with respect to Governor Browne. He believed him to have been a most gallant officer and a sincere friend of the natives, and that he had conducted the government under circumstances of peculiar difficulty, but he was not sufficiently firm in maintaining his own principles. He had laid down just and wise rules with respect to the purchase of lands; he had declared that he would not purchase lands to which the title was in dispute, and the Board of Inquiry had reported that the survey should not he made until after the completion of the purchase; but, in the case of the land at Waitara, all these rules were disregarded, the Governor had fulfilled his own prophesy, his government yielded to the pressure from without, and then, without due investigation or trial this piece of land was taken possession of by military force, in direct contravention of those collective rights guaranteed by the treaty. Then the hon. Gentleman said that the consent of the family—seventy persons—had been obtained. The papers showed that but one-fifth had given their consent, there being upwards of 100 owners. [Mr. C.FORTESCUE: Every occupier consented.] If every fact were disputed in that manner it would be idle declamation to go on addressing the House without referring them to the evidence, which clearly proved how inaccurate the hon. Gentleman was in his assertion. He would simply refer the House to the letter of Teira, to p. 317 of the last blue book, which showed that the persons selling this land did not comprise all that were interested, and also to the evidence of Archdeacon Hadfield, who stated that he could prove that more than 100 persons had claims and rights which had been wholly 493 disregarded, and to the statements of Govenor Browne lb. pp. 186-7, and Mr. White, lb. p. 245, which clearly showed that Wirimu Kingi himself was in possession of a portion of the property on the southern hank of the river Waitara. The Governor himself did not assert that the right of all the proprietors had been purchased, for he stated that on the 20th November, 1859, when the first instalment was paid to Teira a memorandum was read especially saving the rights of every one having a proprietary claim, and not assenting to the sale; and in his notes in answer to Sir William Martin's pamphlet the Governor stated that those proprietary rights remain saved to this day. The substance of the matter was that the Governor had practically set aside the collective right of the tribe which was guaranteed by the treaty, and at the same time, with strange inconsistency, had assumed to confer upon individual natives a right which they never possessed or claimed before, namely, that of alienating their land to a stranger and introducing him into their cultivations without the consent of the tribe or the chief. He (Mr. Selwyn) had thus far avoided any reference to the claims of Wirimu Kingi as chief, and had endeavoured to show that independently of any such claim the proceedings of the Colonial Government could not be justified, having regard to the rights of the tribe and to the provisions of the treaty. But he admitted that it would, in many instances, be difficult, if not impossible, to procure the consent of the whole tribe; some would be absent, and others incapacitated by infancy or other causes, and the power of the chief to represent and bind their interests greatly facilitated the acquisition of land, and in the deeds of conveyance it was customary for the chief and the people to join and concur in the sale. But when the chief did not consent; or when, as in this instance, he being also in occupation of part of the property, expressly dissented, no valid purchase could be effected. The hon. Gentleman had also said that Wirimu Kingi had never been recognized as head of the district in question at all; but throughout the whole of the blue books constant reference was made to him as chief, and as having carried on a correspondence and held interviews with successive Governors in that capacity. As an instance, he might refer to a letter of Mr. Riemenshneider, dated as far back as the 24th September, 1855, in which he said— 494I observed that it appeared to me there was much reason to believe that Wiremu Kingi had, properly speaking, no land and no claims of his own to the lands at the Waitara, on the south side. With much evident surprise they (the Taranaki) looked and asked me where then his lands and his claims were if not there, since he was the rightful and principal chief of the Waitara?When I further reminded them that W. Kingi had no right either to hold or to occupy land on this (south) side of Waitara River, since in 1847 he had given his distinct promise to Governor Sir George Grey, previous to his coming up from the south, that he would not settle on this side, but on the opposite (north) hanks of the river, I received in reply, that W. Kingi being the head chief of all Waitara, on both sides of it, it was for himself to choose and to say on which side and on which spot he was to reside. In fine, the Taranaki natives seem to scorn the idea of having that personage set down as merely a second or third-rate chief, and as being possessed of only a nominal right and claim to the Waitara lands which he holds and occupies."—[Parl, Papers, July 1860, p. 174.]The hon. Gentleman had then gone on to state that Wirimu Kingi had never put forward any claim to these lands from the year 1859 to 1860; but it should be borne in mind that when the original offer of Teira was made in March 1859, W. Kingi said—Waitara is in my hands. I will not give it up. I will not.And that on the 25th of April in that year he had written a letter to the Governor in which he used the words—This bed belongs to the whole of us. It is an old word. None of this land will be given to you; never—never—until I die.And, again, on the 29th of November, 1859, when the first instalment was paid, Wirimu Kingi said—The land is theirs, but I will not let them sell it. Don't give the money to them. If you do I won't let you have the land, but will take it and cultivate it myself.Here was a clear assertion of the right which he had as a joint owner, an assertion of one of the collective rights guaranteed by the treaty. After this the survey was commenced, and, he might add, contrary to the rules laid down by the Governor, that no survey should be commenced till the sale had been completed, was commenced without any further communication with Wirimu Kingi, and he then immediately asserted his right for the fourth time by writing to Colonel Murray on the 21st February, 1860, thus—The Governor has said he will not entertain offers of land which are disputed. The Governor has also said that it is not right for one man to sell land to Europeans, but that all the people should consent. You are now disregarding the good law of the Governor, and adopting a bad 495 law. All the Governors and the Europeans have heard my word that I will hold the land."—[Parl. Papers, March 1861, p. 9.]This was a fair, and under the circumstances, a temperate remonstrance, and should at least have received some answer or led to some judicial investigation. But how was it treated? Governor Browne had sent a subordinate officer to Taranaki with a proclamation, and with instructions to use his discretion. That proclamation was unfortunately translated in such a manner that, although intended only to be a proclamation of martial law, it was in terms, and was taken by the natives as, a declaration of war. The next thing that was done was the forcible occupation of the land by the military. He asserted there could be no doubt that the chief had the right to represent his tribe, and his assent was necessary to bind the other members of the tribe who were the owners of the land, and especially those who were incapacitated by infancy or absence. Again, it was no wonder that the people were unwilling to sell this land. They had sold a great part of the islands and all the best harbours; and this particular spot was one which they were desirous to retain as their habitation, as they considered it the cradle of their race. Now, he could not help thinking that there was something peculiarly mean in the whole transaction, when the manner in which the treaty had been preserved by the natives was taken into account. New Zealand had. as everybody was aware, been for years previous denuded of troops, and during all that time the utmost forbearance had been exercised by the natives. The courage and strength of the New Zealanders had been proved in conflicts even with British soldiers, and, as had been observed by one who had been long resident in the colony, the natives might at any time during twenty years have driven the Europeans into the sea; but now that they were diminished in number, and that we had increased in strength, we did not hesitate to take advantage of that circumstance to disregard the obligations which the treaty imposed. The Under Secretary relied on the award of Commissioner Spain; but this award was founded on the doctrine that a conquered people forfeited all the rights they originally possessed. If this matter had been under discussion in an assembly of slave-owners, such an idea might be entertained; but it was a strange doctrine to hear in the Bri- 496 tish House of Commons that because a man had once been in slavery he had forfeited all his rights; and, indeed, the award was expressly overruled by Governor Fitz-Roy, not upon the grounds stated by the hon. Gentleman, but as was stated by the Bishop of New Zealand, who was present at the time—1st. Because the point of law on which Mr. Spain relied was wrong—that slaves forfeited their rights.2ndly. Because an Englishman cannot avail himself of customs of slavery to take another man's land.Governor FitzRoy had, therefore, decided that these natives ought to be restored to their rights in all their integrity. They had also the opinion of Governor Browne expressed in 1855, [Parl. Papers, July 1860, p. 177], that this decision was just and also very politic. He might, therefore, appeal from Governor Browne of 1860 to Governor Browne of 1855; and with respect to the claim of conquest by the Waikatos, Governor FitzRoy had stated in his despatch dated 2nd December, 1844, that these districts were not occupied by the Waikatos, who merely overran them, and then immediately returned to their own country, without cultivating the soil or constructing dwellings. [Parl. Papers, March, 1861. p. 300.] Since 1848 the natives had been in possession of their property, and he should like to know on what pretence any Governor was entitled to deprive them of that property? The hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies told them that former Governors had conducted sales in exactly the same manner as had been followed in this case; but from that statement also he (Mr. Selwyn) was obliged to dissent. No case of a similar kind could be produced. A return of all cases of native property sold without the consent of the chiefs had been asked for in the General Assembly, but no such return could be given, and he challenged the hon. Under Secretary to produce a single instance of the kind. The purchase which was principally relied on was that of the Bell Block; and the hon. Gentleman said that the blue book conclusively showed that Wirimu Kingi was never consulted with respect to any of these sales. But the blue book on which the hon. Gentleman relied—the last blue book—at page 182, clearly showed that, in this very case of the Bell Block, Wirimu Kingi had expressly consented to this sale. How, then, could a purchase made with the express 497 consent of the chief be brought forward to justify a purchase to which he and a great majority of the tribe, and of the joint owners had repeatedly refused to consent? It was true that Wirimu Kingi had put in a claim to a portion of the purchase-money of the Bell Block, and that this claim had been disallowed by the natives to whom the decision of the matter had been referred; hut this only showed that Wirimu Kingi was one who could acquiesce in an adverse decision, for he had never attempted to recall his consent to the sale, and the European purchasers had remained in undisputed possession, although he had received no portion of the purchase-money. It was under these circumstances that, before the meeting of Parliament, the Government had been called upon to take steps to remove the doubts created in the minds of the natives by the ambiguous acts of the Colonial Government, and it had been suggested that there should be a declaration on the part of the Imperial Government that the stipulations of the treaty would be maintained; that care should be taken to explain the mistake that had occurred relative to the proclamation of martial law, and to show that it did not imply hostility to the natives, nor preclude the peaceable solution of the questions at issue; and that while maintaining, as every Englishman would desire to maintain, in its fullest extent the supremacy of the Queen, and the necessity of suppressing armed rebellion, a prospect should be held out that some tribunal would be appointed by the Queen to determine to whom the land in dispute belonged. If this were done it would go a long way towards calming the native mind, and preventing a continuance of further disturbances. But the Government had done none of these things; and the responsibility now devolved upon the House; for no one could doubt that an expression of the opinion of that House would have its effect in deciding the policy of the Government, especially when the reins of power were in the hands of Ministers so vacillating and uncertain of purpose as the present Government. With what voice, then, should they speak? Should they continue to breathe out threats of extermination? Should they blot out in blood the fairest page of the history of England's dealings with aboriginal tribes? Should they add the destruction of this noble race to the dark catalogue of crimes already laid to the charge of the colonizing nations of Europe? or should they send forth such a message 498 as policy, humanity and justice combined to dictate?—a message which, while it held out the prospect of reconciliation, and of the means of obtaining a just decision of the matters in controversy, would at least relieve themselves from the imputation of having sanctioned or connived at the continuance or the extension of a war which he believed to have been in its origin not only impolitic, but unnecessary and unjust.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he had listened with extreme astonishment to some of the statements made by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University. The hon. and learned Member had passed a high and deserved eulogium upon Mr. M'Lean, but that gentleman distinctly stated, in a document not included in the blue book, but published by the local government in the colony, that the contested purchase of land was only one of several which had been effected in the same neighbourhood, and all of which were conducted and carried out on the same principle. The hon. Gentleman had actually quoted the sale of the Bell Block and approval of the manner in which that sale had been conducted. The purchase now under discussion had been conducted on precisely the same principles. It might be doubted if the tribe to which William King belonged ever possessed the land in question; but even if they had they had long since lost their right to it. The fact was that the tribe of which King was a member was many years since conquered by the Waikato tribe; they were driven away, and after many years King's tribe were allowed to return on acknowledging the conquest which had been made. The British Government bought the land from the conquerors. King was not the mighty chieftain he had been represented to be. He did not establish himself on this land in his own right, but only by the permission of Raru, the father of Teira. Nor was it correct to say that the purchase was made in a hasty manner. Mr. M'Lean was engaged for nine months in the preliminary negotiations, and before the purchase was concluded Governor Browne satisfied himself by public proclamation in the Maori language that none of the occupiers objected to the proposed transfer. At that time William King did not come boldly forward and make a claim to the land; he merely threatened to prevent the purchase by violent means, and he never has made any definite claim or at- 499 tempted to establish any right. He has refused all overtures to submit his supposed right to the persons appointed to investigate the case, and has merely threatened and defied the authorities, and used violence to those who wished to sell their property. The conduct of Governor Browne, moreover, had received the approval not only of both branches of the Colonial Legislature, but of a large assembly of native chiefs called together for the express purpose of considering the subject in all its bearings. This meeting consisted of about 110 chiefs. After the fullest discussion and explanation only three advocated William King's claims, and those three persons were all related to him. Governor Browne, therefore, deserved praise rather than censure; and to condemn him upon an incorrect statement of the facts would be alike unworthy of the House of Commons and contrary to English usage.
§ MR. G. W. HOPE
remarked that some courseought to be adopted by which the title of the natives of New Zealand to their land could be determined Some tribunal should be instituted to determine the right of the natives to land which it was desirable to purchase. A state of things now existed which no one could understand, and it was impossible to tell now which of the parties in this transaction was right. The course he proposed had been suggested by the leading advocates of the natives in the colony. It was impossible to tell whether Governor Browne was right or wrong, and as the Resolution, if passed, would be taken as condemnatory of the whole conduct of the British Government and the local authorities in the islands, it was, therefore, most undesirable that the House should agree to it. He urged, therefore, the appointment of some tribunal to which all parties in New Zealand could refer their claims both of inheritance and purchase. [Cries of "divide," and "adjourn."]
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter before Two o'clock.