HC Deb 21 July 1864 vol 176 cc1866-71

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


thought, that if the Bill passed without further explanation, a very false and unfortunate impression would be produced in the colony. The statement of the Colonial Secretary as to the origin of the war in New Zealand had been perfectly satisfactory—namely, that it had originated not in the land question but owing to the massacre of British subjects yet Member after Member had risen to declare that the war was discreditable to this country. Such declarations would be most distasteful to the colonists, and very discouraging to our soldiers and sailors who were serving in New Zealand. Now he begged to call upon the right hon. Gentleman to state whether he had not reasonable ground to believe that there were causes for this war which had never been openly dwelt upon, and whether the imputations on the colonists were wholly justifiable? He had seen it stated in a New Zealand paper, that wherever Sir George Grey went he traced the war to the machinations of the Roman Catholic priests. Instead of explicitly answering the question which had been addressed to him on this point, the Colonial Secretary met it by an evasion. A writer in a New Zealand newspaper stated that certain flags were captured from the rebels after an engagement, and every one of those flags had upon it a Roman Catholic cross. He looked upon it as a most remarkable circumstance, which ought to be inquired into. Two years ago the head of the Roman Catholics in New Zealand visited France, and took back with him twenty-five of the most advanced pupils of the Jesuit College. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he had any reason to believe that such impressions existed in the colony?


said, he could corroborate the statement of the hon. Member that some ecclesiastical influence was at the bottom of these proceedings; for he found that a Bishop in writing to the Governor of New Zealand stated that the most likely way to insure peace was to show a better disposition towards the Natives, whom he described as treating the settlers well. That, however, was a Protestant Bishop. And the Rev. Leonard Williams, in a despatch to the Governor, said that the settlers did not want to see the British troops coming there, and that several of the settlers had gone to Auckland, leaving their wives and children in lonely, unprotected situations, relying with confidence on the character of the Native inhabitants. The writer, moreover, said there was no evidence of their having joined in any hostile scheme until the dread of invasion drove them into a hostile alliance with other chiefs, and it was only the desperation of their condition which kept them in arms against the British Government. He wished to know whether the rumour was authentic, that despatches had been recently received from New Zealand conveying the information that a proclamation of a most sanguinary character had been issued by the authorities, not only directed to the confiscation of the land of the Natives, but also to deprive them of anything like a fair trial when taken in war. This contrasted strongly with the words of a message which they sent to one of our officers on the 2nd of March last before an engagement, and in which they stated that wounded and captured men and all women and children would be spared. Now it happened that in an engagement in which the Native loss amounted to seventy killed and some wounded, there was a large number of women among the sufferers. This was, no doubt, owing to some accident, but it was a most unfortunate circumstance. In many of these battles the number of Natives, even when they were successful, was less than the British troops, and the British Generals bore testimony to the valour of the Natives. The hon. Gentleman near him had the other night described the war as unjust and cruel and Lord Grey last Session spoke of it as being caused by the just discontent of the Maories. Some of the European population sold powder and shot to be used against the British troops. The British tax-payer was paying for a war in which no British interest was involved, but which seriously compromised the honour of this country. He moved as an Amendment that the Bill be read a third time this day three months.


seconded the Motion. Before the battle of Taranaki it appeared that a large quantity of stores and arms were supplied to the Natives, and he wished to know whether the Secretary for the Colonies could give any information on that subject? It was monstrous that any portion of the colonists should be engaged in such a proceeding.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day month."—(Mr. Hennessy.)


said, he was convinced that there was no truth in the imputation that the colonists furnished their enemies in the field with munitions of war. A large portion of the Native population were friendly to the British people; some were hesitating between the two sides, and in only a limited portion of the Island a hostile feeling existed. In that great Island the hostile population could not be prevented by any vigilance on the part of the Government or the commanding officers from obtaining a supply of munitions of war; but it was absurd to suppose that the British population, all of whom in the province of Auckland were in arms for the protection of their homes, were engaged in furnishing materials for their own destruction. If he did not with the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) attribute the origin of the rebellion to the Roman Catholic priests, neither did he, with the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Hennessy), attribute it to the brethren of our blood who had settled in the colony. He would not take statements gathered from any accidental source, but he would take the words of the Governor of New Zealand. After describing the murderous outrage in which the war began, the Governor went on to say— Just after these murders, plots were formed by the same people and their adherents in the Lower Waikato for an attack upon the settlement of Auckland. The Natives who formed these plots were all well armed, and had long been preparing themselves for such enterprises. They had drilled their men, dressed them in uniforms, and appointed them to different ranks. What would have been said of the Government which, having the then recent and lamentable example at New Plymouth before its eyes, had hesitated to provide for the safety of the Queen's subjects. It was in that conspiracy that the war originated, and it was to put it down that we were then engaged in war. Reference had been made to the representations made by various persons on behalf of the Natives; but the object was not to justify the rebellion, but to obtain mercy and consideration for the Natives. Mr. Sewell, for instance, said— The Manipotos, under their chief Rewi, a powerful and numerous tribe, are a lawless, turbulent set of men, living in a remote and difficult country, and ready to engage in any work of mischief. Chief Justice Martin also said, we were stronger because we were avenging bloodshed, and that the conflict had not been desired or brought about by the Maori race, but by a turbulent minority belonging chiefly to one tribe. They brought no charge against the Maori race. They were dealing only with one set of rebels in one district of the colony. They were endeavouring to secure not only for the settlers but for the Maories the tranquil enjoyment of good order and prosperity. Such being the nature of the war, what had been Sir George Grey's policy? At that hour they would not desire him to quote despatches; and he would only say that Sir George Grey spoke of mercy being shown, where-ever it was possible, after the war was concluded; and the instructions from the Home Government were based on the same principle. It was true mercy to bring this war to a speedy close; and when that had been accomplished, justice would be administered with mercy and consideration to the rebels, so as to restore tranquillity, and benefit both the British colonists and the great majority of the Maories. It was to further that view that the Bill had been introduced, and he hoped that at this stage the House would not withhold its approval. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Peterborough, he could only say he was not aware of any statement of Sir George Grey's of the nature of that attributed to him by the hon. Member. There were some statements, however, in the despatches to which he deemed it desirable not to give any currency, as there was quite ill-feeling enough in the colony without adding to it.


hoped the House would take an early opportunity of expressing an opinion against the pernicious practice of guaranteeing colonial loans. It was the colonists who reaped the whole of whatever benefits accrued from such wars as this, while all the burden fell on the mother country.


said, that there never was an occurrence to which the term accidental could more justly be applied than to the deaths of the women which had been referred to. Due notice of the British attack was given; but the Native chiefs miscalculated their strength, and their resistance to our soldiers led to some shells being discharged which killed the women. He hoped the House would pass the Bill. As to the sale of weapons, the letter of the Natives distinctly asserted it.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 75; Noes 32: Majority 43.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 3½ Verbal Amendment made.

Bill passed.