HC Deb 13 March 1862 vol 165 cc1441-9

said, he rose to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, What is the nature of the new plan of Native Administration proposed by the Governor of New Zealand; and whether the Imperial Government will be free from responsibility for the scheme, and from the Military and Civil Expenditure involved in its adoption; and, also, whether the present number of Troops in that Colony is about to be reduced? He had given notice of the question, as that was the last opportunity the House would have during the present Session of considering the whole subject of the military expenditure going on in New Zealand; and that time next year would be too late for any consideration whatsoever of that important question. He wished to have a full state meat from Her Majesty's Government of what was being done in that colony There were 7,000 troops, besides the naval equipment, maintained for local purposes entirely at the cost of this country. In the town of Auckland the British troops formed a considerable portion of the entire population. By a Resolution which the House had adopted a few nights previously, it was decided that for the future the colonies of the country should he responsible for the maintenance of order within their own boundaries. No doubt, in assenting to that Resolution, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies attempted to make an exception in favour of those colonies in which the colonists had to deal with native tribes, and New Zealand was so circumstanced; but the hon. Gentleman held out a prospect that immediate steps would be taken to remove the exception by those colonies having full and unrestricted powers given to their own legislatures to deal with all their own affairs. He wished to know from the hon. Gentleman whether, in inaugurating a new native policy in New Zealand, the Government was taking measures to give effect to that principle? If the Government found themselves in any way impeded by the Act which created the Constitution, he should then desire to know in what manner the Act operated as an impediment, and whether the clause or clauses having that, effect could not be repealed. It was essential, he thought, for the interests of the colonists, and of the natives, that the new policy should be left to the responsibility of the colonial administration, and that a term should be placed to the wasteful and bloody system of interference which had hitherto prevailed. The Governor of New Zealand had designed a constitution for the natives, which was now in the hands of the Government. His plan was to map out the territory of the natives into circuits, then to cut them up into village districts. He proposed then to give each village district a native council, to be presided over by the chief, in the presence of the civil commissioner. The circuits were to have councils composed of the heads of the district councils, and the Chief Civil Commissioner was to preside. Sir George Grey proposed to maintain the right of the Crown to the waste lands, and to establish a new system of colonization by Crown grants upon conditions of occupancy and residence. The scheme was more creditable to the ingenuity of Sir George Grey than promising for the peace of the colony. It was also very doubtful whether, if adopted, it would lead to any diminution of the great expenditure of this country in New Zealand. It was difficult to discover from the Estimates the total expenditure in respect of any of the colonies, as the items were scattered here and there. But an approximate estimate might be made by taking the number of troops at present in the colony. The number was 7,000, and at £100 a man, which was the average expenditure, that would be £700,000. But he was informed, in a letter from a leading public man in the colony, that the total cost of the colony to this country was £960,000 a year, added to which there was the cost of transport of troops, stores, and naval establishments, which made a total demand upon the mother country, from New Zealand alone, according to this gentleman's calculation, of at least a million and a half per annum. That expense, it should be remembered, was the cost incurred in respect of the colony by this country, and was exclusive of the losses arising from the war, which fell upon the colonists, and which could not be less than half a million per annum. The scheme of Sir George Grey would not lessen the burden now borne by this country unless it was provided to transfer the whole legislation and responsibility to the colony, and there did not appear to be any intention or hope of doing that. The plan of mapping out native lands would be a fertile cause of wars, and the local advisers of the Governor had pointed that out to him, as well as the probability that the local councils would be in frequent collision with the Government. But the presence of the Crown Commissioners implicated the Government in all the native legislation, and instituted a double government, which the colony for itself repudiated, saying, "If you do this, it must be your own act, as representing the English Government." Sir George replied that the English Government would be well satisfied if they escaped paying tens of thousands on war, to spend a few thousands a year in civilizing the natives. Even if Sir George Grey held out any hope of decreasing the military expenditure to be borne by the mother country, he still intended for us another expenditure for civilizing the natives, the success of which scheme was very doubtful. Already in New Zealand had Sir George Grey tried his civilization scheme, and had settled military pensioners there; but nothing had been heard of them during the recent war. Again, at the Cape Sir George Grey had induced this country, not only to maintain a complete army, but also to make large Votes for civil expenditure under the idea of civilizing the natives. No one had heard of any successful result from that expenditure, which had been reduced of late by Parliament, and which ought now to cease. He believed that Sir George Grey did not at all contemplate saving any expense to the Imperial Government by this scheme of his. It was stated before the colonial defences committee that negotiations had been going on between the Imperial Government and the Government of New Zealand for six years, to induce the Colonial Government to take on themselves some small share of the expen- diture, and the result was, that the Government of New Zealand consented to pay to the Imperial Treasury £5 a head for all the Imperial troops in the colony, leaving the taxpayers of this country to pay the remaining £95. But bad as that offer was, even it had not been carried out, and the whole expense of the troops in the colony was paid out of the Imperial Treasury. And the colonists did not even thank us for what we had done. They said, that as the Imperial Government kept in their own hands the government of the Maories, they would not contribute to the support of Maori wars; but that if left to themselves, they would soon find the means of putting a stop to these wars. After all our expenditure on the score of philanthropy and of liberality to the colonists, we found it said in the leading articles of their papers, and the speeches of their leading men, that they did not consider the late war to be either politic or just, and that whenever the subject was discussed here we exhibited perfect ignorance of the origin and merits of the war. When such were the criticisms passed in the colony, he asked the Government whether they would not take that opportunity of putting an end to the existing system. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies would tell him that the correspondence between the colony and his department on the subject was yet incomplete. [Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE: Hear, hear!] If that were so, the answer was most unsatisfactory; for if the Government were corresponding at all on the details of the plan, if they took any part in this matter, there was an end of the last chance of checking this interminable, bloody, and wasteful policy. He had hoped that the only answer of the Government in reference to the plan proposed would have been, "This is your affair; we have nothing to do with it. We cannot even advise you." But if a correspondence was to go on, he should take an early opportunity of asking the sense of the House upon the subject.


said, that his right hon. Friend was quite correct in supposing that on a former occasion he had, when replying to the Motion of the hon. Member for Taunton, drawn what seemed to be the plain and inevitable distinction between the expenses of maintaining internal order—internal police—within colonies of British origin, and the expenses entailed by the defence of British colonies against formidable native tribes residing within their borders or upon their frontiers. That seemed to him to be so obvious a distinction that he should have thought the right hon. Gentleman must have felt that the principle which ought to be applied to the one was in the very nature of things inapplicable to the other. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken as if there were something new, extraordinary, and monstrous, in the maintenance by this country of a certain body of troops in New Zealand for the purpose of protecting the colonists against, the real and pressing danger by which they were threatened. He would, however, remind the right hon. Gentleman that, whether rightly or wrongly, it was the system which this country had pursued for many generations, and under which New Zealand and other colonies had sprung into existence. The House must not forget that New Zealand was an infant colony, which sprang into existence twenty years ago under the protection of this country, and up to about fourteen or fifteen years ago had obtained an annual Parliamentary Vote towards its ordinary civil expenditure, but which, like other colonies, was now being called upon to contribute towards the maintenance of a military force. With the knowledge which he was bound to possess on this subject, he must say he was startled to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the colonies of New Zealand not only did not ask the protection of this country, but had denounced the presence of our troops there as an insult and a burden, when the fact was that before the late troubles broke out they had bitterly complained of the garrison having been for several years cut down to a single regiment. The right hon. Gentleman, in support of his view, had quoted the opinions of New Zealand papers and of various gentlemen who, living in the southern island distant from the seat of war, were not personally interested in the protection of life and property from native dangers, but sat upon their seats with as much security as the right hon. Gentleman himself, and who—if any interest were to be imputed to any one in the matter—were interested in the continuance of the existing state of things in the northern islands, because otherwise the stream of emigration might he diverted from the south to the north. He (Mr. C. Fortescue) would ask whether the opinions of those persons were to be placed in competition with the opinions of the New Zealand Ministers for the last two years, and the great majority of the New Zealand Assembly, who had given their cordial and hearty support to the policy lately adopted by the Governor. It was a mis-statement of the case on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to say that the expensive and melancholy war in New Zealand had been deliberately promoted by the Government. There could be no doubt that the Governor, acting nominally as the representative of the Crown, but really acting in conjunction with his Ministers, did take certain steps against a very talented and active chief, which, contrary to the expectations and opinions of those who advised him, had led to these unfortunate hostilities. The right hon. Gentleman now threatened the Government with very serious consequences if they made themselves responsible for a plan of native administration, which he had been informed had been drawn up by Sir George Grey (the Governor) and his advisers, and which, he supposed, would involve this country in greatly-increased expense. That plan had only been received by his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies a few days before the last mail left for New Zealand; but he might state that its object, so far from being what had been supposed by the right hon. Gentleman, was to diminish the risk of future native wars, to offer to the willing acceptance of the natives a system of local self-government, to be worked out mainly by themselves, and in districts not arbitrarily formed, but depending on the tribal divisions of the natives, so as to satisfy that craving for law and order which was one great cause of the King movement. The financial portion of the plan, however, was so incomplete that the noble Duke the Colonial Secretary had addressed a rigid inquiry to Sir George Grey as to the amount of effort and exertion and the extent of pecuniary contribution which New Zealand would be prepared to offer in order to carry out what appeared to be a large and costly system of native administration, and also what the colony was prepared to do towards repaying some of the expenses incurred in the late war. Her Majesty's Government had not committed themselves to any responsibility for any portion of Sir George Grey's plan, or the civil and military expenditure it might entail. They had simply limited themselves to making requisitions for fuller explanations, which they had a right to expect to enable them to judge of the working of the plan. One part of the plan he (Mr. Fortescue) approved, and it was an essential part of it—that the anomalous system under which the responsible Government in New Zealand had been debarred from the management of native affairs should be put an end to. The Governor had transferred these duties to a responsible department, and he was now acting in regard to the native affairs as in regard to other affairs of the colony. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have been informed by some members of the Ministry of Sir George Grey that they entertained grave objections to the plan. But the plan had been drawn up, he believed, with the approval of the Governor's responsible Ministers; and it was most inconvenient that any member of that Ministry should instruct the right hon. Gentleman to inform the House of Commons that the plan in question had been condemned and objected to by Sir George Grey's Ministry. The information of the Government was quite different from that placed at the command of the right hon. Gentleman, and was, he trusted, more correct. The right hon. Gentleman wanted to know whether the number of troops at present in New Zealand would be reduced. Until the late unfortunate troubles the garrison of New Zealand consisted only of a single regiment, and he trusted that the policy adopted by Sir George Grey would tend to conciliate the native race, and would supply them with that system of law and order which had long been wanting, and which they had endeavoured to supply to themselves, so that they might revert to a small garrison again. He could not, however, conceive a more short-sighted policy than that which would withdraw the troops prematurely from New Zealand. At that crisis of the relations between the colonists and the native race, when the Government was disposed to make every concession to that race consistent with their own good, it was absolutely necessary that the natives should understand that it was through regard to their welfare, and not through fear of their arms, that Her Majesty's Government were introducing the proposed system. He earnestly hoped that the time would come before long when the troops might be withdrawn, but he hoped the House would support Her Majesty's Government in keeping them there at present.


said, that as time came round they were able to draw conclusions with respect to their past policy which would be useful for the future. He had the honour of a seat in that House when the colonization of New Zealand took place, and he recollected that the question of the aborigines then came under discussion. He startled the House and the Prime Minister of the day (Sir Robert Peel)—who, it was said, had the faculty of assimilating other men's ideas—by saying that experience had shown that wherever the white man put down his foot by the side of the brown man the brown man disappeared. They might put off the moment, but the time would come when the brown man would be extinguished, and the sooner that consummation took place the better. All they did by their pretended humanity was to extend the time in which he lingered in his misery. We began our colonies always by an injustice. What right had we in New Zealand? We put our foot there, we took the land from the natives, and then with a sort of sanctimonious hypocrisy we turned round and said, "We know that we do you an injury, but we will do you the least possible injury." But there were certain persons, missionaries and others, who said, "We will preach the Gospel to those people; we will make them Christians; we will do all except do them justice. If we went away and allowed them to govern themselves and inhabit their own country without interfering with them, we should do them justice, but that we do not intend to do." They might depend upon it, their mode of life, their habits, their thoughts, their European civilization were destruction to the brown man. They signed his death-warrant when they put their foot upon the shore of New Zealand, and therefore they could not pretend to save him from the inevitable destruction which was coming upon him. And now came the right hon. Gentleman and said, "Oh, withdraw your troops; it is a great expense." Why, that expense was the very result of their mock humanity, their hypocrisy. Let the colonists be left to themselves, let them not be troubled with our ideas of justice, and they would settle the matter very quickly. For, what would they do? They would take possession openly and avowedly of the whole colony, and would say to the aborigines, "You must get away, and, if not, we will punish you." But, instead of leaving the colonists alone, they were attempting to set up a separate system of government from that of the colony; but then it had turned out a failure; it could not continue, and now they were about doing what twenty years ago he had advised them to do. Let there he no pretence, no hypocrisy. They were going to create a new country, a new people, to plant European civilization in the southern hemisphere. By so doing they would utterly destroy the aboriginal population, The people of England would find that the plainest policy was the best. They began with an injustice—they must take the consequence of their evil deed, the evil deed of going to New Zealand at all, which was to destroy the aboriginal race. His words would be called "horrible," "cruel." Cruel they might be, but they were the result of the past policy of the country. They had planted England in New Zealand; the Englishman would destroy the Maori, and the sooner the Maori was destroyed the better.

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