The War in New Zealand.
Arithmetic of the War—Statistics of Native and European
Forces—Exposure of current Fallacies.
Before proceeding with the tale of the War in New Zealand, there are a few figures and facts which I wish to get into the reader's mind, and a few fallacies and errors which have been current in England which I wish to get out of it.
First, as to figures; it may conduce to a better appreciation of the merits of the military operations if the numbers on the two sides are known.
The total number of natives in New Zealand, page 2according to a government census taken in 1858, was 31,667 males and 24,303 females; together 55,970 of all ages and sexes and in both islands. The proportion of children being exceedingly small, not less than 20,000 of the males may be taken as fighting men, and it must be borne in mind that the women do much work connected with war, and, when pressed, fight like the men. Of the 20,000 fighting men, however, according to Governor Grey's estimate, we never had 2,000 in arms against us at any one time, and it is shown by an examination of the General's despatches, that the troops were never actually engaged with more than 600, and not often with more than 200 to 400. The natives had, however, two great advantages; they were in the centre and we on the circumference; which enabled them to move with facility to attack any of our settlements or camps they thought proper; and they were not concentrated in one district, but scattered in many.
It should also be remembered that of the total number of natives, not more than two-thirds have joined the rebel movement; all the natives page 3north of Auckland (about 8,000 to 10,000), remaining loyal, and considerable bodies (say 5,000 to 6,000 more) in Cook's Straits, Hawkes Bay, and other parts. The loyalty of some of these, however, could not have been relied upon in case of our meeting with great reverses.
The natives had no artillery except three old carronades which they had got from wrecked ships, and which they only fired three or four times, and they had no better shot than steelyard weights and similar substitutes for cannon balls. These they abandoned at the evacuation of Meri Meri, from which time they never had a big gun. Their small arms consisted of old Tower muskets, many flint and steel (temporis George III.), single and double fowling-pieces, such as are made for colonial trade, and a very few rifles, not perhaps one in a thousand. At the close quarters at which the engagements generally took place, these weapons were actually better than the Enfield rifles of our troops, as being more easily reloaded, and their double barrels giving two shots for one man. The natives had no cavalry.page 4
The European population in both islands, in December, 1864, was 171,931;* but more than half of these were in the middle island, and those in the north could not be moved about for military purposes at any distance from their homes, for the obvious reason that by so doing their homes would have been left unprotected, and aggression by rebels have been an immediate consequence. They were all, however, armed enrolled, and drilled as militia and volunteers, and in some instances for a length of time relieved the Queen's troops, and enabled them to take the field in greater force.
* Now estimated at 200,000.
So much for the arithmetic of the war.
Of the numerous fallacies which are current in connection with the war and the natives in their relations to the colonists I shall notice but a very few.
|1.||It is inferred from the pertinacity with which the Maories have fought, that some deep-seated wrong has been inflicted upon them by the Europeans.—This supposition shows very little acquaintance with the page 6Maori race. For centuries past, as far as we know, till the colonization of the country by us, the several tribes waged constant and internecine war with each other. They had a phrase similar to one which is used in the Old Testament: "The time when kings go to war," which indicated their practice. As soon as their crops were in the ground they began fighting, and generally fought till they were ripe. Nor was it necessary that there should be any "deep-seated wrong" to fight about. The most trivial cause would give rise to the most bloody war, and the feud would be handed down from father to son. The habit of fighting, and disregard of life, had become a second nature with the Maori; and if Cuvier be correct in saying that it takes forty generations to make a wild duck a tame one, we need not be surprised that thirty years of partial peace have not eradicated the military propensities of the Maori, or caused him to forget how to build a pah, or squint along the groove of his "tupara," or double-barrelled gun. To prove that there is no foundation for this theory of "deep-seated wrongs," I may put Bishop Selwyn into the page 7witness-box. In a sermon preached at Nelson, in 1862, he said:—"In defence of the colonists of New Zealand, of whom I am one, I say most distinctly and solemnly, that I have never known, since the colony began, a single act of wilful injustice or oppression committed by any one in authority against a New Zealander. It may have been difficult to persuade some few individuals that the natives were entitled to equal rights as with ourselves; But in Practice Their Liberties have been Maintained Inviolate." *|
That the natives have no proper tribunals before which their disputes, particularly relating to lands can be settled.—This is a very great mistake. As early as 1849, a system of resident magistrates' courts was established in Maori and mixed districts. These courts are presided over by European resident magistrates, assisted in native cases by paid Maori assessors. There are, at present, at least twenty-five such courts, in which an aggregate of many thousand cases, civil and criminal, are annually disposed of, to the gene-
* Ch. Miss. Register, June, 1862, p. 194.
As regards a court for the settlement of land disputes, that department was, till 1861, absolutely in the hands of the Imperial Government, and during that period there was no competent tribunal of the sort. An attempt made by the Stafford Ministry, in 1858, to legislate on the subject by a "Territorial Rights Bill," was defeated by Governor Browne, who vetoed the measure when it had passed both Houses of Assembly. But in 1862, the Assembly passed another measure, which received the Royal Assent, and which has been brought into operation in the north for two years past. It establishes a tribunal before which all questions of native title can be settled; an amending act has since been passed on the same subject; and I believe it is in full
* C. P. P. 1864, E. 7.
That the natives have been debarred the franchise and electoral privileges which the colonists enjoy under the Constitution Act.*—This is also an error. Subject to the almost universal suffrage qualification which applies to Europeans equally—an occupation franchise of 5l. per annum in the country, and 10l. in the towns—the Maori can register and exercise his vote as freely as the colonist; and the doors of the Houses of Assembly are equally open to him. In the province of Wellington, very many Maories vote at all the elections. I have been present at the Registration Court where the sufficiency of their qualifications was scrutinized like those of Europeans, and the general test of 5l. value was fixed by the registration officer, at a wooden door, a brick chimney, or glass windows to the claimant's house. I have attended public election meetings
* So stated by Sir Wm. Martin, in letter P. P. "On Confiscation," 23rd May, 1864. Also by Ab. Pro. Soc. in Petition to the Queen, 1865, et passim.
It is true that two lawyers in England, before whom a case was laid some years ago, prepared by a private individual, gave an opinion adverse to the right of the Maories to exercise the franchise; but a lawyer's opinion I need not say is of no practical weight in such a matter, and has never, that I know of, had any weight given to it in the colony, either by any registering officer, or by the Supreme Court. If the natives generally have not exercised the privileges conferred by the Constitution Act on both races, it has been because they did not value them, nor care to exercise them. What they have habitually done for years all over the Province of Wellington, they could have done in every part of the colony. Even the shadow of a doubt, created by the lawyer's opinion referred to, has been now, I page 11believe, removed by a special act of the last session of Assembly.
That the interests of the natives are systematically disregarded by the Colonial Government.—The shortest reply to this is to be found in a return recently laid before the Assembly. It appears that before responsible Government was bestowed in European affairs, the amount annually expended on native purposes was just 5,000l. a year. During the period of divided Government, up to 1861, it increased to 17,000l.; and since the establishment of responsible Government in native affairs, that is, since its transfer to the Colonial Ministry, it has reached the very large sum of 61,071l. The whole number of officials employed specially on native work, including the administration of justice, is no less than 505 (including 68 Maori pensioners), of whom at least 341 are natives. The salaries of many of the assessors and policemen are small, but so are their duties.
Now the contribution of the natives towards the Colonial revenue, in 1856, was estimated by the Colonial Treasurer, Mr. W. C. Richmond, page 12at 15,000l. Since the war it must have fallen probably one-half. But taking it at the higher amount, the Government expends on special native objects, including schools, police, assessors, &c., more than four times the amount they contribute to the revenue; besides all the advantages they derive from the expenditure on roads, public works, and other operations of Government in which the Europeans share.
|5.||That the war has been "got up" by the colonists for the sake of the military expenditure.—As not a soldier can be employed, or kept in the country, except by the express orders of the Governor, this charge against the colonists might seem to have very little probability in it. The colonists cannot "get up" wars. The facts which I shall presently record will show, I think, beyond all doubt, that this war was and is a Governor's, and not a colonist's war. The allegation, when made by General Cameron, of its being "got up for the sake of military expenditure," was at once indignantly denied by Governor Grey, who told him that his object in fighting was to punish persons guilty of great page 13atrocities, and to render it possible for Europeans and loyal natives to live in the country.* The charge is very absurd. One hears of large fortunes made in England by contracts for victualling and clothing her Majesty's forces, and furnishing other supplies for the public service; but military expenditure is to the bulk of the population of New Zealand a thing never thought of, or wished for. Indeed if the colonists had been more anxious for it than they were, they would have been much disappointed; for great part of the supplies were got direct from other countries by the commissariat; flour from Adelaide, horses from Sydney, hay (much of it worthless) and corn from England, while the meat contract was held for a long time by a grazier in Gipps' Land, Victoria. A very small number of persons in the colony could derive any pecuniary advantage from the expenditure of troops. They are not persons of influence, and could probably not control a single page 14vote in the Assembly. The bulk of the colonists know that the war is a grievous pecuniary loss to them. The middle island settlers, who could by no possibility derive the benefit of a single shilling from the army expenditure, supported Governor Browne in his war, while a majority of north island members in the Assembly, who are supposed to profit by it, opposed him to the utmost of their power. It is only necessary to compare the wonderful progress of the middle island, where there has been no military expenditure, with the comparative stagnation of the northern, where it has gone on, to satisfy every colonist that war expenditure affords no compensation for the evils which war brings. With the exception of half-a-dozen persons of little or no influence, I do not think there is a colonist who would not gladly see the troops sent away, if they felt it was consistent with the maintenance of peace. There will always be sutlers and camp-followers with every army, but they could not get up a war in New Zealand.|
|6.||That the colonists covet the lands of the natives, and are determined to have them "recte sipage 15possunt, si non quocunque modo."*—If this charge means that individual colonists desire to appropriate the lands of the natives for their own profit, it is, I believe, entirely untrue. But there is a sense in which it is partly true. The colonists do desire, and very earnestly, to get possession, for colonizing purposes, of those large tracts of fertile land which lie waste and unimproved in the hands of the natives, over which they even prohibit our making roads, or running a steamer on the rivers by which they are watered. We went out to colonize; not to "grub for money," but to convert the wilderness into farms and gardens, and spot it all over with smiling villages and pleasant homesteads. Districts which, in the hands of the colonists, might maintain millions of industrious and civilized men, lie absolutely unoccupied, and put to none of the uses for which the Creator intended them. The colonists do desire to people these districts; to create out of them a flourishing country, instead of a barren uninhabited desert. But the assertion that they page 16desire to possess them "quocunque modo" is absolutely untrue, much less that they would take them at the point of the bayonet. Every acre occupied by Europeans in New Zealand has been bought, and at prices quite equivalent to any value the land had, or ever could have had, if we had not gone there to give it value by our capital and our labour. Even during the war large tracts have been purchased from the friendly natives, and great heaps of sovereigns paid to them for their interest in lands they never used. For one tract alone in Wellington Province (Manawatu), they received about two years ago 12,000l. in cash; for another (Waitotara) in the same province, more than 3,000l.; and other large sums about the same time were paid in Auckland Province. The colonists don't stick at the price; and they have never had any desire to take an acre without paying for it, or against the consent of the owners. And I am certain that had the rebel natives not attempted to "drive the Pakehas into the sea," not an acre of their lands ever would have been taken by Europeans, but in the same fair and legitimate manner in which it page 17has been bought from friendly natives hitherto. If a portion of it be now taken as a punishment for "unprovoked outrages," to use the words of Governor Grey, and to afford a material guarantee for the future, they have themselves only to thank for the fact.|
|7.||A source of very wide-spread misapprehension on the subject of the origin and justice of the war, has been the letters of green ensigns (and I am sorry to say of mature colonels) to their friends in England. These gentlemen, some of them before they had been three weeks in the colony, and having certainly not one particle of authentic information on the subject, wrote home denouncing the war as "iniquitous," and as having been got up by "Auckland attorneys" for the purpose of seizing the lands of the natives. They spoke as positively as if they had been judges in a court of law, and had listened for a month to the arguments of forty counsel discussing the merits of the case. I should not have alluded to the subject, but that many of their letters were produced in Parliament, and printed in the "leading journals," and even men in high page 18places quoted them as authorities. It is quite certain that the writers knew absolutely nothing of what they were writing about; and that such letters were the result of a desire to get out of a war which held out little prospect of glory, and none of loot. Considering that they amounted by implication to the gravest charges against the Governor who had initiated the war, it is rather remarkable that the writers do not appear to have received the reprimand they merited from the authorities at the War Office, who must have discerned in them the evidence of what is technically termed a "demoralized" army. There cannot be a doubt that the unchecked growth of such opinions, led at last to that state of affairs which caused General Cameron to declare that 200 Maories could stop 500 of the Queen's troops and that it was altogether "unsafe" for the latter" to follow the former to the bush.|