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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Captain Fitzroy

Captain Fitzroy, P.N., arrived at Auckland in December, 1843, and immediately entered upon the work of government. No sooner had he landed than the Maoris presented petitions laying before him their grievances. In the first place, they complained that they were not allowed to sell their lands, and in the second they complained of the high price of tobacco. As native races always acquire the vices of civilisation before the virtues, the Maoris even in those days were large consumers of tobacco, and found the tax very oppressive. But the Governor had more pressing business to deal with than the duty on tobacco. The remembrance of the Wairau massacre was still fresh in the minds of the European settlers, and one of the Governor's first acts was to proceed to Nelson to inquire into the tragedy at Wairau. Accompanied by about twelve followers, he met Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata, in the presence of five hundred other Maoris. Te Rauparaha, on behalf of his people, addressed the Governor, and endeavoured to justify their conduct by declaring that the English were the aggressors. The Governor tried to impress upon them that they had committed a grave offence by killing the English, who had surrendered. In doing this Te Rauparaha asserted that they had only followed the custom of their ancestors, and had violated no Maori law. The Governor then informed them that as the English were the first to open hostilities, he would not avenge their death. Another dispute soon arose, which kept the Governor's hands full. About this time Mr. Spain was sent from England as a commissioner to enquire into the land claims of the New Zealand Company. As the decisions of that gentleman did not give satisfaction to the Maoris, they were resisted by Te Rauparaha and many others, who endeavoured to override them with violence and bloodshed. Nor were the native troubles confined to the southern part of the Colony. In the Bay of Islands open hostilities broke out, where Hone Heke took the field at the head of a powerful force, and succeeded in capturing Kororareka. Great difficulties now surrounded the Governor. Everywhere the Natives were filled with discontent, and showed antagonism towards the European settlers. Nor had the Governor either men or money to prevent a rebellion. Moreover, his position was rendered more harassing by the division among the English themselves. The opposition of the New Zealand Company was open and declared. With little claim in law or justice, the Company took possession of large blocks of Native land. This resulted in many long and bloody encounters between the two races. At length, however, relief came to the Governor, in the shape of troops and money, and he was then able to exercise a firmer hand in dealing with the many troubles that surrounded him, but before he had time to do so he was suddenly superseded by Captain (now Sir) George Grey.