§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
, in moving the second reading of the New Provinces (Now Zealand) Bill, briefly explained its object. When the constitution was conferred upon New Zealand by the Act passed in 1852, a provision was contained in it establishing certain provinces—Auckland, Canterbury, and others—and giving power to the General Assembly, the representative body of the whole colony, to divide them further into separate distinct provinces, if they should so think fit, by a reserved Bill—that is, a Bill reserved for the approval of the Crown. A subsequent Act was passed in 1857 by which many restrictions imposed on the General Assembly of New Zealand were removed; and it was intended to remove the restrictions on the character of the Bills by which a province might be divided. Permission was granted to constitute new provinces by a reserved Bill by the Act of 1852, and by that of 1857 it was intended to give power to constitute new provinces by an Act of an ordinary character. But in removing this restriction the Imperial Parliament made an unfortunate mistake in repealing the 69th Clause of the Constitution Act. This obviously not being the intention, the General Assembly of New Zealand three years ago did separate one of the provinces into two by an Act of the Colonial Legislature. No doubt was entertained at home as to the perfect validity of that Act; but some doubt arose in the colony, and on its being reported to him he took the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, who held that it was not competent to the Legislature of New Zealand to separate those two provinces, although such was the obvious intention of Parliament. Under these circumstances this Bill was introduced, with the double object of enabling the colony to divide the two provinces as originally intended and render that division valid, under the powers of the existing Act, and also to declare the validity of the Act for the future.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ EARL GREY
said, the Bill which the noble Duke had just explained to the House was one to which he presumed there would be no objection; but he could not allow it to be read a second time in the present critical and distracted state of New Zealand 153 without expressing his surprise that a Bill of so insignificant a character should be the only measure with reference to that colony which Her Majesty's Government were prepared to submit to Parliament. Their Lordships knew from the papers on the table, and from more recent accounts in the public prints, that for more than a year war had raged in New Zealand. In that unhappy war fifty officers and men of the European force had been killed, and nearly 140 wounded; a vast amount of property had been destroyed; one settlement had been laid waste, and women and children had been compelled to take refuge in another part of the province. Already an enormous expense must have been incurred in remedying this state of things, which he feared would greatly derange the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to any surplus at the end of the financial year. They were also aware that the Government had sent large reinforcements to New Zealand; but they were not as yet aware whether Government contemplated the adoption of any means but force alone to put an end to that war. He was far from objecting to the despatch of additional troops to New Zealand. On the contrary, whatever other measures might be required, no doubt could be entertained that these troops were necessary. But he was no less persuaded that this unhappy contest could not be brought to a satisfactory close by arms alone. There was no doubt that the military power of this country was more than sufficient to finish the war by the extermination of the native race; but that was an end of the contest to which he could not look forward without horror, a feeling which, he was sure, was shared by Her Majesty's Government and by every one of their Lordships. When they considered how these interesting natives of New Zealand, the Maoris, from having within a comparatively short time been plunged into the lowest superstitions of degraded barbarism, were now generally converted to Christianity, they could not look to the possible destruction of this interesting race by British arms without feeling that such a result would not only be a calamity, but a great disgrace to this country. Nor could such a result be brought about except at a fearful loss of blood to Europeans as well as to natives. The nature of the country was such that it presented great difficulties to the operations of regular troops, and great facilities to every kind of irregular warfare. Then 154 there was the impossibility of adequately protecting the scattered dwellings and property of the settlers. When they considered all these things, they must admit that if the Maoris were driven to desperation by the manner in which the war was carried on, they might, before they perished, inflict almost as much suffering as they might have to endure. Therefore, he was of opinion that it was not enough for Her Majesty's Government to send additional troops to New Zealand; they ought to have attempted, by some conciliatory measures, to induce the natives to lay down their arms, and to support the effect of their armed interference by gaining the confidence of the people. If the assistance of Parliament was necessary to the success of such a measure, that assistance ought already to have been asked for. It was the more incumbent upon the Government to take this course, because this subject could not be carefully investigated without bringing any candid and dispassionate inquirer to the conclusion that the Maoris were not solely—perhaps not even principally—to blame for the present war. The war had been produced by errors in the past government of New Zealand—errors which, in one respect, it might not be too late to correct. It was impossible to prevent the evils which had already arisen from the war, but we ought not, at least, to persevere in a course which would make these calamities only the commencement of others of a still more serious character.
Their Lordships were aware that the war was begun by an attempt on the part of the Governor of New Zealand to take forcible possession of a piece of land, acquired from the natives by a purchase, the validity of which was disputed by one of the chiefs, supported by many of his countrymen. Much had been said and written upon the question whether, under the engagements contracted with the native races, and according to the rules hitherto observed, that purchase was valid and regular. He would not abuse the patience of their Lordships by entering into that argument, or by raising a discussion upon the usages and customs of barbarous tribes. It was sufficient for him to observe that the very weight of the authorities who were ranged on one side and on the other proved, at all events, that the question was one of much doubt and difficulty. There were very high authorities against the validity of the purchase made by the Governor. In 155 the first place, there was the authority of the Bishop and the great majority of the missionaries in those Islands. An attempt had been made to lower their authority by saying that, while no man would presume to question the purity and sincerity of the convictions which had induced the Bishop of New Zealand and the missionaries to take so decided a part against the measures of the Government, still their habits were not such as to fit them for taking a clear and dispassionate view of the subject. If it were admitted that there was some force in this objection—which he disputed—it did not apply to others who had taken the same view of the question. The validity of the purchase was denied by Mr. Clarke, formerly Protector of the Aborigines, who, under Sir George Grey, had considerable experience in making purchases of land. It was denied by Mr. Fox, for many years the able and zealous agent of the New Zealand Company; it was denied by Mr. Swainson, formerly Attorney General in New Zealand, a gentleman of high character and extensive knowledge; and, above all, it was denied by Sir William Martin, formerly Chief Justice of New Zealand, who had acquired the highest reputation by the manner in which he filled that judicial station, and of whom the Governor himself only a short time ago, in writing on other matters, said that his knowledge and experienced caused him to be recognized as an undisputed authority upon all points affecting the Maories. Such were some of the authorities who might be quoted against the validity and regularity of the purchase. It was obvious, therefore, that the question was, to say the least, one of doubt; and he had no hesitation in expressing his opinion that if even a shadow of doubt rested upon the strict regularity of the purchase under the engagements we had contracted with the Maories, and according to the rules hitherto observed in such cases, both justice and policy required that the Government of New Zealand should abstain from making that purchase, and, above all, from asserting it by force. That was the course prescribed bothly justice and by policy; because justice required that, when a right was contested, one of the claimants should not take upon himself to assume and to exercise that right by force until some fair means had been adopted for bringing it to a decision; and policy required that, when the Maories were known to be in an excited state—considering the extreme jea- 156 lousy and sensitiveness they had always displayed upon questions relating to land—considering, also, the fearful calamities which a collision could not fail to bring on, especially when the colony was so unprepared for a native war—it ought to have been understood that no advantage which could possibly arise from the purchase of an insignificant plot of land could for one moment be put in competition with the dangers which would be incurred by making the purchase and taking possession of the land by force.
He had said that great excitement already prevailed among the Maories when this dispute arose. That excitement was so great that, in his opinion, the dispute with respect to land ought rather to be regarded as the occasion for the war breaking out than as its real and original cause. For that cause we must look further and deeper. The war was, in his opinion, solely to be attributed to our having for the last seven or eight years adopted in New Zealand a system of government which gave great offence to the Maories, and deprived the British authorities of the confidence and attachment with which they were formerly regarded. That policy was adopted, of course, in unfortunate forgetfulness of the wise advice given by Sir George Grey a few years ago, and contained in a despatch written on the subject of the Act for the establishment of representative government in New Zealand, passed in 1846. When that Act was passed Sir George Grey took upon himself the great responsibility of not bringing it into immediate execution, at the same time addressing a despatch to the Government at home in which he explained the dangers which would have arisen at that moment from an attempt to introduce it. He pointed out that the war was scarcely over; that both the natives and the settlers were in a state of great excitement; that by the proposed constitution the entire power over the revenue would be vested in the representatives of the settlers, while the natives were large contributors; that, in fact, it would be making one section, and that the smaller section, of the whole population, arbiters of the whole; that it would be giving the complete disposal both of the revenue and of other matters to the representatives of the European minority, excluding from all power and influence the native majority in the colony. He stated that the natives could not be expected to accede to such an 157 arrangement, and he predicted that the result of an attempt to enforce it would be armed resistance. The arguments of Sir George Grey appeared so conclusive to the Government of that day that they had no hesitation in admitting the error which they had committed in passing the Act of 1846; and the result was that they obtained the ready assent of Parliament to a Bill for suspending the constitution which had been given to New Zealand. Subsequent events had shown how sound was the advice upon which they acted. Armed with the powers conferred by the Suspension Bill, and with the full support of the Government at home, Sir George Grey adopted a policy of which the principle was the firm maintenance of the authority of the Colonial Government, the suppression of everything like violence or disturbance, but at the same time the administration of justice to both races, and the display of kindness and consideration especially towards the Maories. He adopted severe measures to restrict the sale of arms and spirits to the natives; but, on the other hand, he multiplied schools and constructed roads, by which the Maories were enabled both to obtain access to markets for their produce and to receive the advantages of good wages and of an industrial training, and which, moreover, rendered large and important districts of the colony easily accessible to troops and artillery. The beneficial effect of those measures had been increased by the pains which Sir George Grey had taken to keep up communication with the natives, and to acquire their confidence and attachment. In making that attempt his efforts had been rewarded with success; but the policy on which he acted was, after all, said to be a very poor one, inasmuch as he did not trust to laws and measures which he had proposed and passed, the influence which he had acquired over the minds of the natives being purely of a personal character, so that when he departed that influence was likely to cease to exist. The objections thus made to the policy of Sir George Grey constituted, however, in his opinion, the very highest praise which he could receive. He was a Governor who was aware that men were not to be ruled by mere laws, but rather—and the observation applied especially to the case of s barbarous people—by attaching their minds The effect of the wisest laws and the best institutions could, he knew, only be gradual, while upon a generous and high- 158 minded race a great impression might speedily be made by convincing them that heir welfare was the object of the Government. To imbue them with that confidence was the highest triumph of the policy of an able and energetic ruler. Nor was that triumph in the case of Sir George Grey purchased by any dangerous or improper concession. On the contrary, if there were one law which was to be regarded as more unpopular than another in New Zealand, it was that passed and strictly enforced by Sir George Grey browing obstacles in the way of the purchase of arms. The result of his policy was, at all events, most satisfactory. The disturbances which had taken place were in a short time put down; peace was completely restored; and when he left the country he might have entertained a reasonable expectation that it was on the high road to become at no distant period a flourishing community, in which men of Maori and European descent would be found blended in one united people. These were fair prospects, and they would in all probability have been realized, had it not been for the mistakes which had been afterwards committed. Before the five years, during which the Constitution of 1846 stood suspended, had expired Sir George Grey had expressed it to be his opinion that the state of affairs in the colony had so much improved that, with proper precautions, that constitution might be brought into force, reserving to the Crown the usual power of purchasing land from the natives and the right of maintaining their laws and customs in certain districts. In 1852, accordingly, during the brief Administration of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), a Bill, in the main in accordance with the recommendations of Sir George Grey, had been passed. But the measure, unfortunately, contained one provision which had led to great evils—he alluded to the clause making the superintendents of the provinces into which New Zealand was divided elective, instead of being appointed by the Crown. The proposal was one, it was true, which was in conformity with Sir George Grey's advice, who, although he was a most able man, and one on whose judgment the utmost reliance might in general be placed, yet could no. more than the most distingushed of human beings claim to be infallible. In the present instance, at all events, experience proved that he was wrong. For his own part, he was of that opinion at the time of 159 the passing of the Bill, because he thought that to make provincial superintendents elective was in reality to deprive the Governor of the greater part of the executive authority he ought to possess. How he would ask, was it possible for the Governor to carry into effect the policy which he desired, when he was obliged, in the provinces where he was not himself President, to act through officers not appointed by the Grown, not removeable by it, but chosen by popular elections, and absolutely independent of any superior authority during the time for which they were elected? For that reason it had appeared to him that the clause to which he was alluding was one which ought not to have been passed, and when it had been proposed by a succeeding Government he gave it all the opposition in his power. He did not, however, succeed in persuading either the Government of the day or their Lordships to adopt his views upon the question; but the result had more than justified the anticipations which he had formed with respect to the working of the provision. Nor was that all. One of the first measures of the newly-created Legislature was to insist on establishing that which was very improperly called a responsible Government, and which was really a party Government—a character of Government which was the most irresponsible that could exist in a community such as that of which he was speaking. Such a Government, however, was demanded by the House of Assembly, and the demand was, he thought, most unfortunately acquiesced in by the Government at home during the Administration of Lord Aberdeen in 1854. For himself, he might say that he had always been of opinion that party government was but very little suited to a colony in the early stages of its existence, and, indeed, until it had made some very considerable progress; and that the real advantages of representative institutions could in such a case be enjoyed far more fully under the old system in accordance with which the Governor was responsible for the due exercise of the executive authority, not to the Assembly, but to the Crown, while, of course, the power was reserved to the Assembly to complain to the Crown of any maladministration on his part, and, if necessary, to appeal to the Imperial Parliament. The blessings of freedom could, he believed, be more perfectly enjoyed under that old system than under a party Government; and in that view he was con- 160 firmed by the experience of that description of Government furnished by our Australian Colonies, where the burlesque of our own institutions which was exhibited was of a nature of which those who had watched their proceedings must feel ashamed. The evils, however, arising from the vices of the system to which he was referring in Australia—where there were but few natives, and those few capable of causing no serious disturbances with the settlers—where the European inhabitants were already numerous and wealthy, and where the first difficulties of a new settlement had been almost completely surmounted—were altogether insignificant compared with those which must be expected to arise in a colony such as that of New Zealand, where all the circumstances which he had just mentioned were exactly reversed. It was impossible, he should contend, that a few thousand British settlers could be placed in contact with a much larger number of natives only just emerging from barbarism, every man of whom was used to war, and at the same time extremely sensitive as to the maintenance of his rights, and capable of understanding when he was wronged—it was impossible that all that should occur and that the entire power should be placed in the hands of the European minority without creating in the minds of the natives, who were the majority, a sense of injustice and deep discontent. That such had, at all events, been the result in this case was clear from the papers which had been laid on the table. He found that so long as the Governor possessed authority sufficient to enforce his impartial administration towards both races, the natives looked up to him as the representative of the Crown, who had real power to protect and befriend them. They were, with few exceptions, loyal, and attached to the Crown. That was the representation of the state of things some time ago, as given, not only by Sir George Grey, who might be disposed to be a partial witness as to the results of his own policy, but by those who succeeded him in the administration of the Government. He (Earl Grey) found that in February and April, 1854, the then acting Governor reported the continued prosperity of the colony, and the success of the measures for the purchase of land from the natives. In May, 1854, the acting Governor, on opening the new Legislature, congratulated that body on the peace and prosperity of the colony, and the friendly relations between the native and European 161 races; and the House of Assembly, in their address in reply, expressed their concurrence in the language used by the Governor. The Legislative Council, in their address, spoke still more emphatically of the peaceful and friendly relations existing between the Queen's subjects of both races, and of the increasing intelligence and civilization of the natives. In July, 1854, the acting Governor reported that the purchase of land still continued to be easily made. At the beginning of the following year the reports were still better; but during its course symptoms of a change for the worse began to appear. In September Governor Browne, the present Governor, reported that he had seen the chiefs of most importance in the north; that they all seemed well disposed to the local Government; but that they did not view the Assembly very favourably, partly because they did not understand its power, but chiefly because they considered it less scrupulous in its desire to obtain land than the Governor, whom they looked on as a protector. In July, 1856, there proceeded still more unfavourable reports from the Governor of the disposition of the natives, for he said it was evident that they disliked popular government over which they had no check. And it seemed impossible that the case should be otherwise, because the authority of the Governor was reduced to a shadow. In the general affairs of Government he was obliged to act on the advice of his Executive Council, who, in fact, were the mere delegates of the Assembly; and, although there was a nominal reservation of matters affecting the natives as to which it was said he might act upon his own judgment, yet it was perfectly clear from reading the papers presented to Parliament that even with regard to native affairs the Governor had no real power, and that he did, in point of fact, implicitly follow the advice of the Executive Council. But what was worse than all was the administration of affairs in the provinces. Almost the whole patronage of the Government, and a great part of the control of the expenditure, had been transferred by a series of measures to the provincial Assemblies, and the Governor reported that superintendents would obey no instructions from the Governor except those which were in accordance with their own views; that they had the disposal of the funds for the time being in their hands; and that, in the political contests, they felt bound to favour the party to which they owed their 162 appointment to office. Was it possible to be surprised that, under a government of this sort, the Maories should be discontented? They not only comprehended the injustice of being excluded from all practical share in the government, while constituting a large proportion of the population and of the contributors to the revenue, but they were made practically to feel the effect of this exclusion in various ways. They felt it by the miserable and inadequate grants grudgingly made by the Assembly for purposes in which the Maories were interested, and by the misuse of patronage for party purposes. He had no doubt, from information which had reached him, that nothing so much contributed to irritate the Maories against the existing Government as the manner in which patronage was misused. They saw men holding office, in the right discharge of the duties of which they were deeply interested, and in whom they had great confidence, replaced by other men whose appointment was due to party interests, and they said that the Crown was deprived of any effectual power of instituting an impartial administration in their behalf. It must not be supposed that these were the only grievances of the natives. It was impossible at this distance to judge of the details of the administration of a colony, but their Lordships would concede that in the daily administration of affairs there were many opportunities for acting oppressively; and he regretted to say that if the disposition of the European population was to be judged of from the tone of the public press, and from the language used at public meetings and in the committees of the Provincial Councils, there could be no doubt that there had grown up of late years a lamentable want of consideration for the feelings and interests of the Maories, and even of their lives. It appeared from the papers on the table that the Provincial Council of New Plymouth presented, in 1856, an address to the Governor, in which a want of consideration for the natives was most painfully manifest. It was also to be learnt from the able pamphlet published by Mr. Fox on this question that in 1858 this same Council called on the Governor to compel the natives to sever their tribal tenancies with a view to the acquisition of land, stating that the natives were incapable of offering any resistance. This fact was significant, especially when coupled with this other circumstance, that one of the representatives of New Plymouth was Mr.
163 Richmond, who held the situation of one of the responsible advisers of the Governor, and was what was called his Native Minister. What was still more significant was that it, was the virtual adoption not very long afterwards of this advice of the memorial to compel the recusants to submit to the. proceedings of the Governor in reference to the purchase of land that was the cause of the war. Could it be believed that Mr. Richmond would be a trustworthy adviser of the Governor in matters as they at present existed? There could be little doubt that the Maori race had just ground for discontent. That was not his opinion alone, but the recorded opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers also. It was implied very distinctly in many of the despatches, and still more in the measure introduced to Parliament last year, when the Government then brought in a Bill to establish a Council independent of the Assembly for the purpose of advising the Governor on native affairs. The only justification for such a measure was that the Government, as it now existed, could not safely be trusted in mutters affecting the natives. That measure passed their Lordships' House, but failed to obtain the assent of the House of Commons. He rejoiced at that failure, because, although the evil was apparent, he did not believe the Bill provided a remedy for it. That measure would, indeed, only have led to a conflict of authority, and would have increased the evil. The Government had admitted in the course of the present Session, in the other House of Parliament, that affairs were not in a satisfactory condition in New Zealand.
There being, then, just ground of dissatisfaction on the part of the natives, and the local Government being so bad, he would ask, what did the Government propose to do? Did they propose to compel the natives to submit to a Government which they acknowledged to be unjust and bad, and, if they resisted, to reduce them to obedience? He trusted not. He implored them not to let this state of things continue, but to prepare measures of redress. It seemed to him that Her Majesty's Government ought without delay to take measures, for the redress of the grievances of the native inhabitants, to endeavour to conciliate them by equitable arrangements, and to put an end to this war. Why should not Her Majesty's Government make an appeal to the well-known public spirit of Sir George Grey, and ask him to return to the colony with special 164 powers to deal with so great an emergency? He was persuaded that Sir George Grey was a man of too much public spirit; and, moreover, he must naturally take too deep an interest in the welfare of the colony for which he had already done so much to refuse to make such a sacrifice, great as it would be, if he were asked to do so. But, if he accepted such a mission, he ought to be armed with large powers. In the present state of irritation of the Maories and the Europeans, perhaps nothing less would answer than the suspension for three years of the representative system of the colony, and the concentration of the whole legislative and executive authority in the hands of Sir George Grey and a Council deriving its powers from the Crown. Armed with these powers, the influence which Sir George Grey possessed over the minds of the natives would enable him to restore peace in the colony at no distant period. There was already a strong military force in the colony, but the presence of Sir George Grey would, as far as the restoration of peace was concerned, be worth more than 10,000 additional troops. Of course, after such a period of suspension, the representative Government of the colony could not be again brought into operation without correcting the defects that had been shown to exist in it. The calamities that had occurred would then have this good result—that Parliament would be enabled to decide what changes were required in the constitution of the colony. He believed that these changes were not numerous, and could easily; be effected. If the arrangement for establishing a representative Government were assented to, and if the Governor were assisted, not by advisers whose advice he was bound to follow, and who held their office by the fleeting tenure of the ascendency of parties, but by men of experience, selected for their knowledge, and holding office practically during good behaviour—so long as the Crown was satisfied with the mode in which they discharged their duties—if these things were done, and if a fair and fixed appropriation were made for the expenses of the Government and for those objects in which the Maories were concerned, he was not aware that anything else was required to enable representative institutions in a short period to be once more established with safety in New Zealand. If Her Majesty's Government declined to take the more decided course which, in his opinion, they ought to take, 165 and to suspend during the war the action of the present Government of New Zealand, lie trusted they would make modifications in the government such as he had pointed out. He knew it might be said that Parliament, having once conferred representative institutions on New Zealand, could now neither withdraw nor modify them. If the colonists were ready to undertake the defence of the colony against all but a foreign enemy, if they did not appeal to us in such cases, then they might have reasonable ground of complaint if we interfered with their institutions. But he found that it was urged in New Zealand that no less than 4,000 or 5,000 British soldiers, to be maintained at a large expense by the mother country, and two or three steamers, were absolutely necessary to enable them to defend themselves against their native enemies, Nay, he saw that they meant to push their claims still farther, and ask that the pay of their own militia and the expense of their own forces in the field should be defrayed, not from the colonial, but from the Imperial Treasury. He did not deny that in the present state of the colony it was necessary to assist the British settlers. He was persuaded that it was impossible for them to bring this war to a satisfactory close unaided; and he, therefore, did not object to the employment of a sufficient number of British soldiers for that purpose without charge to the colony. But, if the Government and Parliament of this country were to, undertake the defence of the colony against the natives, they must also undertake the regulation of the policy by which it was in future to be governed. They must take care that the generosity of this country was not abused, and that power was not placed in the hands of the settlers in such a way as might lead to its improper exercise. Gould it for a moment be pretended that it was just and reasonable, that the colonists should on the one hand claim the undisputed right of managing their own affairs, and on the other have the liberty to call on the mother country to bear the burden of any war occasioned by their own mismanagement? If by injustice and oppression they drove the natives to, resistance, were they to call on us to extinguish that resistance in blood without allowing us to exercise our judgment upon the measures resorted to? That was a, doctrine which he was sure would receive pa countenance from any of their Lordships. He believed that if the 166 colonists were told that they must defend themselves as well as manage their own affairs, that would be a sufficient inducement to keep them on terms of friendship with their semi-barbarous neighbours. He was not ignorant that the colonists had much to bear. No doubt they were exposed to many wrongs and grievances, but those wrongs and grievances ought to be borne, not only with justice, but with forbearance. If the impartial authority of the Crown was to intervene for the government of both parties, that justice and forbearance could be enforced, for the Crown would not be influenced by those passions and feelings that naturally arose in the contact between civilized and half-civilized races; but if the government of both parties were left to the colonists themselves, with an unlimited power to draw upon the Treasury of this country, there would be taken away the only effective check for that selfishness which he feared human nature was never exempted from. He, therefore, felt himself bound to object to the measure before the House, as one entirely inadequate to the circumstances of the case; and he thought the second reading of the Bill afforded a legitimate opportunity of expressing to their Lordships his conviction that they could not safely leave matters as they were. He implored the Government not to think they could go on from year to year with things as they were, but to set themselves earnestly to the adoption of some wise and comprehensive measure that would meet the circumstances of the case. If they did not, they might be assured that before this war was brought to a close thousands of British soldiers would be sacrificed and millions of money would be spent, while in the end, in all probability, they would only be able to restore peace by reducing New Zealand to a desert, by exterminating the natives, after a struggle which would reduce the colonists to beggary, and drive them to seek homes in more peaceful and prosperous colonies.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
said, he was satisfied with the steps which had been taken by the Government, and with the despatches they had sent to New Zealand since the commencement of the war. He did not complain of the Bill now before their Lordships; but he must express the hope that the power given by it to the General Assembly of New Zealand would be exercised more carefully than it had been. He could not agree with the noble Earl (Earl 167 Grey) in the opinion that the constitution of New Zealand was erroneous in principle. He should express his sympathy with the Governor of New Zealand on one point, and that was the spirit of hostility with which had been opposed by the leading ecclesiastical authorities. This he regarded as a very unfortunate circumstance. There seemed to be some mistake existing as to the object for which the colonization of New Zealand was undertaken. That colonization was the work of the New Zealand Company, backed by the Government, and had no other motive than the ordinary one. The work of colonization by a country like that of England, and that of evangelization were not naturally promotive of each other. Indeed, they were to a certain extent mutually obstructive; so that the best field for the one was not necessarily the best for the other. The best field for colonization was where there were few or native inhabitants—as Upper Canada, South Australia, and Port Natal, while the reverse was true to evanglization. We had certainly not done enough for the natives of New Zealand. What savage nations required was a great deal of Government; and he was afraid that in New Zealand we had, in a great measure, destroyed the Government that had formerly existed, and substituted very little, indeed, in its stead. He found among the papers a complaint from a native that when they adhered to their own customs they had "light," but that under the new order of things they were in "darkness." This was followed by an observation that we Europeans had effected this change, and that it was for us to lay down laws to meet the case. The colonization of New Zealand might be dated from the time when the Marquess of Normanby was Colonial Secretary. In a despatch dated August, 1839, the noble Marquess assumed that cannibalism, human sacrifices, and warfare among the natives were among the things which should be put down by force in New Zealand. Whether cannibalism and human sacrifices had ever been put down by force was a matter into which he should not now enter, but he found that the first Governor held that it was out of his power to put down warfare among the natives by that means. There were pages in the blue books to show that the Governor held as axiomatic that it was foreign to his business to interfere in the case of such an occurrence. The restless state of the natives had been known to the colonists 168 for many years. It was now some years since a feeling had sprung up among them for a king. In former times they had no king, but were governed by chiefs. When the authority of those chiefs was destroyed, as had been the case, the natives cast about for some authority to rule them, and it seemed to them that the only substitute was to set up a king. With this view a feeble and imbecile old man named Potatau was elected king. He was now dead, but a successor had been elected king. This must be taken as an expression of the desire of the Maories for a native Government. With regard to the particular question of the origin of the present war, he (Lord Lyttelton) must confess, having read all the papers on their Lordships' table and many others which had reached him from New Zealand, that he quite agreed in the conclusion of the noble Earl (Earl Grey), that the question of the tribal right was one which was open to very considerable doubt. He must also say since the Bishop had expressed his opinion in favour of the tribal right, and particularly of the exercise of that right on the part of Wirimu Kingi, that a perusal of those papers had very much shaken his (Lord Lyttelton's) opinion on this point, and he should recommend no one to form a definite opinion on the matter without having read the last despatches on the subject, especially that one from the Governor, dated in December 4, 1860, which occupied a space of some thirty pages in the volume before them. He thought that the Governor had produced weighty evidence to the effect that there was reason to doubt whether any ancient signorial rights had existed at all among the native chiefs, and in favour of the justice and wisdom of the course he had pursued.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, that his noble Friend the noble Earl, in introducing this interesting discussion on a very important question upon the somewhat slender basis of a Bill which he (the Duke of Newcastle) had asked their Lordships to read a second time, expressed the regret which he felt that this was the only Bill which Her Majesty's Government were prepared to lay on the table with respect to the colony of New Zealand. Until the close of the noble Earl's speech he (the Duke of Newcastle) felt surprised at this expression of regret, not only because he knew the noble Earl disapproved of the measure which he (the Duke of Newcastle) introduced last year, but also because he 169 could not gather what remedial measure the noble Earl wished should be adopted. He (the Duke of Newcastle) would not say anything with regard to the recommendations he had received from time to time as to the measures lie might have introduced; but his noble Friend had certainly misunderstood or had misquoted the observations which he made in introducing the measure of last year. He certainly did not advocate that Bill on the ground that he disapproved of the constitution or Government of New Zealand, or of the course that had been taken with respect to the management of native affairs. He understood his noble Friend to say that that was the sole ground upon which that Bill was supported. What he (the Duke of Newcastle) did say was this—that the Constitution Act of 1852 having imposed upon the Governor certain duties with regard to the management of native-affairs, and it being found not only difficult, but almost impossible to carry those functions into effect, in order to enable him to do so he introduced that Bill giving him the assistance of a native Council. His noble Friend said he rejoiced that that Bill failed, because he thought the establishment of an independent native Council would have caused more confusion than already existed there. That, however, was not the opinion of the colonists. They objected to the Imperial Parliament legislating upon the subject, and he had expressly admitted that it was a purely exceptional case; but, so far were the colonists from thinking that a native Council would be productive of evil, that they had themselves introduced a Bill into the local Legislature constituting such a Council, thus adopting the principle, although varying the details, of the Bill of last year. His noble Friend had not dwelt at any length upon the origin of the war, and was right in abstaining from so doing, considering that they were now discussing the question a year after the commencement of the war; but, as the noble Earl had entered upon that question so far as to express his opinion, founded on the opinion of certain authorities in the colony, that the Governor was wrong, and that Wirimu Kingi's claim was a substantial one, he (the Duke of Newcastle) was bound to say that he did not concur in that opinion. He believed the Governor to be right, and in this respect he must say his mind had taken the same course as that of the noble Baron (Lord Lyttelton). Immediately after his return from America he 170 wrote a despatch, in which he stated that he had doubts of the justice of the course that had been pursued; but the despatches since received, and particularly the one referred to by the noble Baron, had convinced him that the Governor was right, and that the balance of opinions inclined in his favour. He did not dispute the authority of Sir William Martin; but against that he believed he might set the opinion of the present Chief Justice Arney, and of many others who had studied the question thoroughly. He could not understand upon what principle the claim of Wirimu Kingi was based. It had been said that it was not right the Governor should raise this question on an insignificant piece of land. No doubt in quantity it was an insignificant piece of land; but the principle involved was not insignificant. He had reason to suppose that other claims of a similar character would be brought, and it might fairly be put to their Lordships whether the Governor would have performed his duty to the Government he represented, or to the colony, if he had withdrawn his claim because a powerful chief resisted, and whether he must not then have closed all purchases of land had he submitted to the dictation of Kingi whose claim was totally unsubstantiated. So far from the Governor acting hastily, nine months were spent in the adjudication of the case. Every claim was maturely considered. It had been said that the hostile claims ought to have been referred to a tribunal. This was very plausible at first sight; but what tribunal? Was there any tribunal in New Zealand to which such affairs could be referred? The Governor and settlers would have been only too glad to have had such a tribunal; but the opponents of such a tribunal had always been the natives. No Governor was ever in circumstances to constitute such a tribunal without raising the apprehensions or opposition of the Maories. The Treaty of Waitangi did not refer to such a tribunal, but it said that transactions for the purchase of land should be carried on between the native proprietors of the land and the Governor, and that was the course which was taken in this case. And there was no doubt that the adjudication of the Governor was more favourable to the natives than such a tribunal could be, proceeding as such a tribunal always must on legal principles rigidly applied between seller and purchaser; whereas, on the contrary, it had been the constant and moat judicious procedure of the Government agents 171 established by the Treaty of Waitangi to yield every doubtful point in favour of the natives; and no doubt they consulted the interests of the colony by doing so. This question of a tribunal had been strongly urged, among others by the Bishop of New Zealand, in the document which he called his "solemn protest;" and here he must say he was greatly obliged to the noble Baron who had just sat down for the course he had taken, and the language he held with reference to the conduct of the Bishop and the missionaries. If the words used had fallen from himself as colonial Minister no doubt they would have had but little effect but coming from the noble Baron, occupying as he did an independent position, but one of warmest friendship to the Church in New Zealand, it could not fail to have an important influence. He trusted that excellent man the Bishop of New Zealand and the Missionaries of the Church of England would take in good part the lesson which had been read to them, and that they would in future abstain from that intererfence with the Civil Government which he had no hesitation in saying, on this occasion had been most unfortunate and mischievous. The protest, no doubt, was a most able document; but he must take the liberty of saying that if that protest had been on a political subject, or a question between the governor and the governed in any country nearer home, and had emanated from any bishop in a country of Europe, there would have been an universal cry against the impropriety of bishops and priests interfering in such matters, and above all of adopting such a tone as the Bishop of New Zealand had assumed. He made these allusions with very great pain to one holding the high position of the Bishop of New Zealand, and whom lie so sincerely respected, both for his admirable character and as a minister of the Gospel; but he had certainly allowed himself, both on this and on former occasions to be diverted from his high calling into the partial advocacy of native rights which had led to consequences of a very serious kind. If he said so much with respect to that great man—for so lie must call the Bishop of New Zealand—he said so still more emphatically with reference to smaller men in the Church, who, without the talent and ability, and, in some respects, the judgment he possessed, had certainly played a very mischievous part in these transactions. He would not say another word on this part of the subject with regard to the Bishop.
172 His noble Friend, as he had observed, had not entered at any great length into the origin of the war, and it was not necessary that he (the Duke of Newcastle) should do so. It would have been just as wise during the period of the great mutiny in India to have been discussing constantly in the press and the Houses of the Legislature the questions of the greased cartridges and other matters which were supposed to be the origin, but in reality were, he doubt, only the pretext of the rebellion. So he maintained that the question of the land was a more pretext. He believed, however, that it had been providential both for the Maories and the settlers that the event had been hastened. However much anything was to be deprecated that led to war and bloodshed, if this occasion had been obviated, eventually we should have had a war of a more serious nature, when we were, perhaps, less prepared for it, and when the preparations of the natives were more complete. There could be no doubt, in his opinion, that the struggle was one for nationality. There was a feeling among the Maories that their nationality was becoming gradually extinguished, and they were, therefore, anxious to prevent the extension of the English over the country of which they felt they had themselves been the paramount possessors. In this feeling alone the Land League originated, of which Wirimu Kingi was the chief. He had heard it stated in favour of this chief that, although he was at the head of the Land League, his object was totally different from another movement—namely, the Maori King movement—because he did not join that chief who had been already referred to bearing the the humble name of Potatau. Now, he attached no value to this fact at nil. William King did not join that movement because it was not his interest to do so. Of course, William King would not join in a movement which was in fact a rival movement to his own. The Maori King was his rival; Kingi wanted to be a great paramount chief himself; but when he was obliged to enter into hostile operations against the British Government his scruples vanished, and he not only joined the Maori King but made the Land League subservient to his purposes. The King movement had been going on for the last seven years; but for some time it made little progress, and there was no doubt the Government policy of leaving it alone to die out of itself would have been successful if none had been concerned but the natives. The 173 natives, however, in their hostility to the English Government, had not only been used but instigated by disaffected Europeans. There was no doubt upon this point. An agitation had long been carried on; emissaries had been sent abroad; in one part of the country subscriptions had been raised for setting up a printing-press with the view of disseminating among the natives everything which could excite them against the British Government; a flag had been designed and hoisted at the residence of this so-called Maori King—nay, more, an attempt was made to levy customs; all with the view of persuading the natives that the Governor of New Zealand had conceived a secret plan to exterminate them by degrees, and seize their whole lands for the common use of the British settlers. He did not say this without reason; and, if proof were wanted, he could point to the conduct of one of the native friendly tribes, who had shown every disposition to continue so in spite of the existence of what was going on around them. The question, in fact, had become one of sovereignty—a question between a Maori King on one side and the British Queen on the other. The natives were determined, if they could, to drive the British into the sea, and to establish an independent sovereignty under a Maori King. The Governor, in his last despatch, stated expressly that they showed no disposition to accept any terms of peace except such as should surrender the sovereignty of England. It was, of course, hardly necessary to say that no intention existed to extinguish the Maori race. He concurred with the noble Earl that the extinction of the native race would be most disgraceful to the character of this country. If there was one set of aborigines more than another which the English people respected and admired it was the Maori tribes. The Maories had shown many great qualities. They were almost, if not quite, as brave as Englishmen; and even in the present foolish and disastrous war they had performed individual acts of courage which did them the highest honour. He was sure, therefore, their Lordships would agree with him when he said that every life which could be spared would be a gain, and that the sooner we could bring the rebellion to a close the better it would be for all concerned. There could be no doubt that the causes of the war were of older date than the disputed purchase of land. He could not admit, however, that the chief blame lay, not 174 with the representative institutions which had been introduced into New Zealand, but with what had been called responsible government. Party government might have aggravated to a certain extent the evils caused by representative institutions; but throughout the whole of the blue book he thought the noble Earl would find no more than the two passages he had quoted to indicate that responsible government had really alarmed the natives. [EARL GREY: Twenty others.] Well, he was quite unable to find them. On the other hand, there could be no doubt that the change in the constitution which took place in 1852 had deprived the Governor of powers which he then possessed, and had indirectly deprived him of what was of still more importance—namely, the funds which were formerly at his disposal. Up to 1852 the Imperial Parliament voted a considerable sum annually for native purposes, and no equivalent substitute had been supplied under the system of government established in that year. He could not agree with the noble Earl in what he had said in condemnation of the General Assembly of New Zealand. The debates of that Assembly had been conducted with singular forbearance towards the natives, and with every disposition to promote their interests, as well as with very remarkable ability and moderation. The tone of the press was a different thing; but it was not right to quote the opinions of the press as conclusive; at all events, the press might be quoted on both sides—for as well as against the natives. He agreed with much that the noble Earl stated with respect to the provincial Legislatures and to the elective character of the superintendents. It was a great misfortune that the superintendents were not only independent of the supreme Government, but that the persons elected were frequently antagonistic to it. The system was a bad imitation of that prevailing in the United States, without any of the reasons which might be found in support of it in that great republic. He could not help thinking that if the provincial Legislatures had been confined more to municipal duties, and if their presidents had been nominated by the Governor-in-Chief, that would have been a" great improvement upon the system adopted in 1852. Although the revenue of New Zealand was considerable, nevertheless, it was of little general application, inasmuch as any surplus was divided amongst the provincial Governments, which generally con- 175 trived to absorb it altogether. Another cause of much of the mischief which had occurred was to be found in a merely nominal and fictitious extension of English laws to the natives. We had pretended to extend English laws to the natives, but in reality we had done no such thing, and under the present system the natives were neither separated from nor were they incorporated with English settlers. Scarcely any Maori was an elector. By the decisions of the Courts in New Zealand no title to land was recognized except such as was admitted by English law. If, therefore, a native wished to have a vote he must become a freeholder; but few natives could have any interest in acquiring a freehold. Nothing, he thought, could be more likely to conduce to the benefit of that colony, and to put an end to the state of things which had led to the present war than the adoption of that system which Sir George Grey had so usefully introduced at the Cape in the instance of British Caffraria—a system which he had previously carried to a certain extent in New Zealand itself, and which consisted in the acquisition of the friendship of the native chiefs by conferring upon them appointments in connection with the English Government, at the same time that they maintained their own position with the natives, and by establishing among them paid magistrates and a police. If, in addition, those schools to which his noble Friend near him had alluded were established, and the English language were taught in them, still greater advantages would in all probability result. The missionaries who went to the colony generally endeavoured to make themselves masters of the Maori language in order to communicate with the natives in their own tongue; forgetting the advantage to be acquired by the natives becoming acquainted with our language. He should next, notwithstanding that the House was becoming rapidly reduced to that number which usually sat out the discussion of colonial subjects, say a few words with reference to the disposition of the colonial Government to bear a due proportion of the expenses connected with its military administration. It had been observed in the course of the discussion that not only did the colonists expect that the British Government should pay the expenses of the whole of the Imperial troops which were sent out there, but that they had attempted to force upon us the payment of a purely colonial expenditure for 176 the purposes of their own militia and volunteers. Now, he, for one, was entirely opposed to any attempt on the part of the colonial Government to throw on the Parliament of this country expenses which they themselves ought to bear; but he was at the same time of opinion that it was desirable the Legislature of Great Britain should be just in dealing with the subject. There was, in connection with the point to which he was adverting, considerable difference between the privileges of some colonial Governments and others, but he certainly could not help admitting that the demand which had been put forward on the occasion which had been referred to by his noble Friend was both improper and untenable. He was happy, however, to be able to state—and he had heard of the circumstance with great satisfaction—that an agent from New Zealand was engaged in negotiating a loan of £150,000 on behalf of the colony for the express purpose of defraying expenditure consequent on the war. He might add that he hoped it would turn out to be a fact that there was upon the part of the Colonial Government an intention to provide a fund with the view of carrying out those improvements which he believed to be necessary to the better administration of native affairs when the present war was concluded. One of the great difficulties which existed in dealing with a colony at so great a distance from us as New Zealand was that the Government at home was obliged to fix upon a particular course in entire ignorance of the state of things which might exist in the colony when their instructions had arrived at their destination. Two months had elapsed, for example, since the date of the despatches from New Zealand which had just been received, and it was quite possible that orders sent out from the Colonial Department might be found to be calculated to be disadvantageous, if acted upon in the position of affairs which might, between the present moment and the period at which they would reach the colony, arise. As to which was the most probable, peace or a continuance of the war in New Zealand, he could make no positive statement. There were many symptoms which would lead one to the conclusion that the natives were desirous to sue for peace, and ho, trusted that before long their better instincts might prevail upon them to surrender those points with respect to the abandonment of the Sovereignty of the Queen 177 for which they were contending. Such being the prospects on the side of peace, there were, he must admit, on the other hand, serious appearances of a further extension of the war; and if those appearances should he realized the contest would, no doubt, in many respects, be one of the most disastrous character. Under all the circumstances of the case it was impossible to take at home steps of a very definite nature; but the Government, nevertheless, felt that there was one course which ought to be adopted—namely, to provide that the person to whom should be committed the management of the affairs of New Zealand should be a person likely to continue there a sufficient time to carry out any line of policy which it might be deemed expedient to pursue. The present Governor of the Colony, Colonel Gore Browne, would, in two or three months, have completed his period of office, inasmuch as at the expiration of that time he would have been there six years. It would, of course, be his duty if he were then Secretary for the Colonies to recall Colonel Browne, and to appoint a successor. He had, lie might add, felt that it would not, under existing circumstances, be desirable to wait for the expiration of the time which he had just mentioned to take the necessary steps in the matter; for if the war should, by the end of two or three months, have terminated, the new policy to be adopted should be entered upon immediately afterwards. He had, consequently, felt it to be his duty to recommend to Her Majesty to appoint a successor to Colonel Gore Browne; and, he was happy to say that the Queen, acting upon that recommendation, had been graciously pleased to appoint Sir George Grey as Governor of New Zealand—a choice than which he quite concurred with the noble Earl near him in thinking no better could be made. He had, of course, felt that in asking Sir George Grey to return to the Government of a colony the affairs of which he had before administered, and that from an appointment which was looked upon as somewhat superior, he was making a tax on his patriotism, and calling upon him to perform a public duty at a personal sacrifice. lie had, however, so much confidence in Sir George Grey's public spirit that lie felt no doubt that when he received the intimation which he had sent out to him on the subject by the mail of last month—it being probable that by the next mail—namely, 178 that which left England yesterday, he would receive official instructions to proceed to New Zealand—he would not lose a moment in making the necessary preparations and would set sail for his destination by the first opportunity. He had sent intimation to Colonel Gore Browne of the step which he had taken by the mail which had left for Australia yesterday; nor should he wish to close his remarks upon this particular point without marking his recognition in express terms of Colonel Browne's services. In recommending Her Majesty to send out Sir George Grey to New Zealand not the smallest reflection on Colonel Gore Browne's conduct was implied, and nobody, he thought, could read the despatches of that gallant officer during the period in which he held the position of Governor of the colony without feeling that they were written by a man of great ability, and were distinguished by consideration for all the interests with which he had to deal; while they clearly proved that no man had ever steered a clearer course than their author between the interests of the settlers on the one hand and those of the native population on the other. The only charge, indeed, he had heard made against him was, that he was too favourable to the latter; but he must, for his own part, say that he did not think that Colonel Browne had erred in that direction. He did not think that Governor Browne, though placed in circumstances of almost unparalleled difficulty, had acted wrongly in regard to the immediate pretext—for so he must call it—for this war, while he had shown a temper and discretion in all his transactions which did him the highest honour. Being a military man, and placed in a position which might tempt him to interfere more than a Governor should in military affairs, Governor Browne had, nevertheless, steered a clear and proper course, and the native population as well as the settlers in New Zealand would, no doubt, feel, when the war was closed, that, however distinguished had been the conduct of Sir George Grey, they also owed a debt of gratitude to the Governor whose period of office was now about to expire. He should be most unwilling to allow the slightest doubt to arise in the mind of any one in New Zealand as to the feeling in respect to Governor Browne which had induced this step to be taken, and he should have greatly-regretted if he had not had this opportunity of explaining these circumstances, and of bearing this testimony. He might, 179 further, State that he had recommended Colonel Gore Browne to Her Majesty for another governorship, thereby showing that his conduct was not disapproved. He would conclude by expressing his hope that the appointment of Sir George Grey would tend to bring about the entire suppression of these unhappy disturbances.
§ EARL GREY
expressed his satisfaction at the statement made by the noble Duke. He wished to be understood as not meaning any censure on Governor Browne. Great mistakes had, doubtless, been made; but Governor Browne was not responsible for them, for he was in a false position, being deprived of the power to carry out his own policy. He thought the remembrance of the past services of Sir George Grey would render his appointment peculiarly acceptable to the people whom he was going to govern. At the same time he implored the Government not to place Sir George Grey in a false position. When he went to the colony he ought to go armed with those powers without which it would be impossible for him to bring his task to a successful close. Let Sir George Grey find, on his arrival in New Zealand, a British Act of Parliament suspending the existing constitution of that colony, and concentrating, as was absolutely necessary in a time of rebellion, all the power in the hands of the Governor.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, he could not comply with this last suggestion of the noble Earl. He believed that it would be most unwise and most unjust to suspend the constitution on the ground of an insurrection of the native races. To adopt that course would be to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty, and would create dissatisfaction among both races. He should think that the suspension of the constitution would be under any circumstances, and certainly under the present, one of the most impolitic acts which a British Minister could commit.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Eight o'clock, to Thursday next, half past Ten o'clock.