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Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.

A Proposed Dichotomy

A Proposed Dichotomy.

Grey sought to avert the event he most dreaded and preclude the complete abolition of the Provinces by proposing a modified form of it. He moved a series of resolutions, of which the gist was that, while the Central Government should be retained for matters of general concern, two administrations should be created for the North and South Islands separately. There was much to be said for the proposal. A fundamental opposition between the two islands was created by the different distribution of the Maoris. They were spread all over the North Island, at some parts in dense masses; they were but thinly sprinkled over the South. This deep-lying difference was the generating point of a whole series of oppositions that usually placed the public opinion, and consequently the Parliamentary representation, of the two islands in different camps. While the South Island, over the greater part of which the colonists hardly came into contact with the Maoris, was largely philo-Maori, the very differently-situated North Island, where the settlers were almost everywhere at the mercy of the natives, was fanatically anti-Maori. The argument for the bifurcation from this point of view was urged by Grey in two long speeches, spoken on August 3 and 16, 1876—one filling fifteen, the other sixteen, columns of Hansard, and it was earnestly, passionately, sometimes, nobly urged. As always, he was egoist, promenading his own part in the history of the Colony, as when he told how he had himself legislated singly for the Colony by drafting its Constitution. He displayed before the General Assembly "the pageant of his bleeding heart," as when he said that he "would bear the injuries heaped on" him. He was no lamb, and he did not bear them in silence. He referred to "an attack of a grievous kind made on" him "within a few days," and for the first page 185time he produced an authoritative letter, written years before, that vindicated him against it. He was persistent, and repeatedly on these and other occasions he was called to order by other members or by the Speaker. He made passionate appeals. "The Premier has shown throughout this session a determination to destroy me," he declared. "I stand before the House appealing to it and possibly pleading for my life," cried melodramatically the former Governor of the Colony. He aggrandised the subject by-making large allusion to the doings of the Pitts and Addingtons, the Wellingtons and Peels. He exalted the theme by representing the occasion as being the first when an Anglo-Saxon community had enjoyed the privilege of shaping its own constitution. He denounced the existing constitution as "a mutilated and contemptible form of a constitution," though he had just claimed it as his own, and the chief mutilation was the non-elective character of the Legislative Council. He sought to excite dread by declaring it his belief that a war of races was imminent in the Colony and might even now break out. He was still suave in comparison with his later utterances; he asserted that he had "no intention of blaming the Secretary for the Colonies, no desire to offend him." He was still loyal in a way. "We love our Queen," he said, "and will ever remain loyal to her;'' but he did not love what the Duke of Wellington called "the Queen's Government."