The Second Year of One of England's Little Wars
H. — New Zealand Spectator, Feb. 6, 1861. — To the Editor of the New Zealand Spectator
New Zealand Spectator, Feb. 6, 1861.
To the Editor of the New Zealand Spectator.
I must request your permission to notice in your columns some allusions to myself contained in Mr. Richmond's reply to Sir W. Martin's Pamphlet—The Taranaki Question.
At Page 15 are the following words:—“Speaking of the official statement which the Governor had caused to be circulated immediately on the breaking out of hostilities the Archdeacon says:—‘I deny the truth of all the statements. I am prepared to prove their falsity here [in New Zealand] where evidence can be obtained.’” I regret to be obliged to say that this assertion of Mr. Richmond's is absolutely false; I never said what he attributes to me. Nor would it have occurred to me to say that I denied all the statements contained in the official document referred to, such, for instance, as this:—“The Governor has said that he will not allow land to be bought, the title to which is disputed.” I selected four propositions from the official document, the truth of which I denied. The words I used were these: “It is stated that the land belonged to Teira and a few other persons, who were the real owners, and who sold it to the Government;—that Teira's title to the land was ‘carefully investigated, and found to be good;’— that William King and those who acted with him had no title to it;— that ‘Wiliam King never pretended to deny Teira's right of property, but insisted on his own right to put a veto on all sales at Waitara.’ I deny the truth of all the statements; I am prepared to prove their falsity here, where evidence can be obtained.”
Mr. Richmond proceeds:—“Upon the General Assembly being finally summoned for despatch of business, on the 31st July last, Archdeacon Hadfield came up from Wellington. The House of Representatives being made aware of the strong views which he entertained on the subject of the Waitara purchase, examined him at the bar of their House. Considering that on the 29th May he had committed himself to a public pledge that he was ‘prepared to prove the falsity of all the statements,’ his evidence at the bar in August, when he had had so much time to complete his case, should have been clear, definite, and conclusive.” Mr. Richmond seems to have a peculiar logic of his own, which is not likely to find much acceptance with thinkers accustomed to the ordinary modes of reasening. If I understand him, his argument is this,—that as I pledged myself in May, here, where evidence can be obtained, to prove that certain statements were false, therefore my own evidence in August ought to have been clear, definite, and conclusive. This sort of reasoning may be very satisfactory, and apparently is quite conclusive to Mr. Richmond; but it puts me in mind of Coleridge's ridicule of similar logic: “The watchman cries, ‘half-past three o'clock;’ therefore the great Cham of Tartary has a carbuncle on his nose.’” What I pledged myself to do was to prove here, where page 57 evidence can be obtained, that the four propositions extracted from the official document alluded to, were false. What I promised in May I was quite ready to perform in August. Whose fault was it that evidence was not taken as to the cause and origin of the war? Was there any reluctance to obtain such evidence on the part of those members of the House whose opinions on these subjects were supposed to agree with mine? Who moved for a Committee of Inquiry? It can hardly be needful to answer these questions, or tell Mr. Richmond that it was the Ministry, who, having first professed to desire an investigation, voted against the motion for inquiry. In the Southern Cross, Aug. 14, I see these words, “They select Archdeacon Hadfield to give secondary evidence, but insist on precluding him from bringing up those who could give direct evidence to the same effect.” Mr. Richmond—the Native Minister—the Member for New Plymouth—was very well aware of the weakness of their cause; and he knew that I could bring witnesses—witnesses, let it be remembered, some of whom were then in Auckland, and who are still available when the proper opportunity occurs,—to expose the injustice of their proceedings. What object Mr. Richmond expected to obtain by making a false assertion that was sure to be refuted, or by drawing a false inference that was certain to be exposed, I am unable to conjecture. But this much is clear, that a cause requiring such means for its defence must be bad indeed.
It is difficult to imagine with what object a long extract from a despatch of the Governor's, commenting on my evidence given before a Committee of the House of Representatives, is introduced by Mr. Richmond into an attempt at a reply to Sir W. Martin's pamphlet; it appears to be introduced apropos of nothing. But as it has been brought forward, it cannot be allowed to pass without comment. Do the Governor and Mr. Richmond mean to insinuate that my evidence given on that occasion strengthened the Government side of the question? Are they prepared to deny that my evidence damaged their cause with the House? Will they deny that Mr. Stafford, after having given notice of a motion approving the war policy of the Ministers, was subsequently obliged to modify the terms of his motion (nothing whatever having occurred in the interval but Mr. M'Lean's evidence and mine) because he found that his own supporters, after hearing that evidence, declined to support his original motion, and that he was taunted with this in the House? If so, if this was the effect produced on the House by the evidence, of what use can it be to detach a few passages from the body of the evidence, and represent these as inconclusive? Or what can be intended by a verbal criticism (indicated by italics) of words that were not mine? My examination lasted four hours and a half. I was more than once cautioned by the Chairman that I spoke too rapidly for the reporters. About one-fourth part of what I said was taken down and committed to print. I make no complaint of the general drift of the printed evidence; I have no doubt that much actually uttered would have appeared in print to be mere surplusage; but when stress is laid on particular words and expressions, I must distinctly protest against the inferences intended to be drawn page 58 from these. I will explain what I mean. The Governor's despatch, as quoted by Mr. Richmond, contains the following words:—“When asked what proof he has of a certain native (Hamere) having a claim, he says, ‘An old man who resided at Waitara forty years, pointed out to me when I was at Waikanae [150 miles away] portions of the land which belonged to William King.’” I presume that the Governor, by giving in italics the words “when I was at Waikanae,” intended to convey that I told a lie; or, at least, that I was so ignorant of the whole question that I did not know where Waitara or Waikanae were situated. His language may have produced this effect in England. But Mr. Richmond cannot expect the same result here. A map of Waitara had been frequently alluded to in the House; and whether I expressly referred to it or not, while giving the answer attributed to me, I think I may safely say that no member of the House misunderstood me, or imagined for a moment that either the old man or I pretended to clair-voyance. I had previously stated in my evidence (19) that it was “three years since I had been on the land” in dispute at Waitara, and could not therefore have intended to mislead the House into believing that I had been there since the war began. But, notwithstanding the italics, perhaps the object was to call attention to the apparent discrepancy between the question and the answer, the former having reference to Hamere (Hamuera Ngaia), and the latter to William King. I now extract from the printed evidence the two questions in full, as this will afford me an opportunity of showing what I have already alluded to: I mean the absurdity of verbal criticism in a matter of this kind:—
“81. Has William King ever made a proprietary claim? I hear that he made a proprietary claim to a portion of the block. It would be impossible for me to say what it is, as I understand that the boundaries of the block are undefined. I have heard that about sixty acres, on the south bank, had been left out as belonging to William King. It is utterly impossible for me to state, without the boundaries being defined, what portion of his claim is within the block and what without it. His son has a claim within the block.”
“82. What proof have you that Hamuera Ngaia has a claim on the block? I before stated that I am unable to produce all the evidence which I have had, but I may state to the Committee that an old man who resided at Waitara forty years, pointed out to me, when I was at Waikanae, portions of the land which belonged to William King. Several other natives confirmed that statement.” It will be observed that the second question evidently has reference to the preceding answer. I had there spoken of having heard that sixty acres had been excluded from the original block, as belonging to William King, since the land was purchased and the war commenced,—this having been done, it will be observed, to non-suit William King. Having ascertained this, I referred to his son's claim, and stated that he held property, derived from his uncle Hamuera Ngaia, which could not have been excluded because it was intermixed with portions of Raru's land. Then it was that I was asked what proof I had that Hamuera Ngaia had owned land in the block, and that the answer referred to was given. But no mention is made in the printed evidence of what I had said about page 59 Eruera, William King's son, having inherited the property from his uncle, Hamuera Ngaia, which led to the letter name being mentioned. It is perhaps just as well that I have noticed this particular question, otherwise from the wording of the question and my answer to it, an inference might be drawn that I was ignorant of the fact that H. Ngaia had been dead for nine years.
The Governor's despatch, as cited by Mr. Richmond, proceeds:— “When he is asked if he knows the position of the land in dispute, he says, ‘I do not know the precise boundary line.’” If it was not the Governor's object to deceive and mislead by giving this extract from my answer, and to convey the impression that I was ignorant of what I ought to have known, I am unable to suggest what his motive was. The question, with my answer, was as follows:—“Do you know the position of the block of land in dispute at Waitara? The only difficulty I have in answering that question arises from my never having seen the official survey boundaries. It has been described as a block of land containing about 600 acres, situated on the south bank of the Waitara; this land I have seen and been over; but I do not know the precise boundary line of the Government. It is three years since I was on the land.” I really see nothing in this answer to be ashamed of. But why does Mr. Richmond, of all people, cite this passage? How was it possible for me to define precisely the position of a block of land, concerning which Mr. Richmond had stated a few days before, in answer to Mr. Fox, that one of the boundary lines was still undefined? Certainly, Mr. Richmond turned very pale, looked very confused, and hung down his head, when he made that statement; but still I did not at the time suspect his veracity. But in the report of a speech delivered by Dr. Featherston at a numerously attended public meeting in Wellington in November last, I find these words:—“The Government further declared that for the purpose of excluding such lands, they had refrained from fixing the internal boundary of the block, thus admitting that they really did not know what lands they had bought; and yet—will you believe it?—when the map was laid on the table the inland boundary was found to be cut.” And now it comes to this: that I am sneered at by Mr. Richmond (for what else can be meant by the quotation?) as a mere gobe mouche, because I gave credit to a statement officially made by him, a minister of the Crown, in his place in the House of Representatives.
A detailed explantation of all the detached scraps of my evidence collected by the Governor in his despatch, and now given to the public by Mr. Richmond, would be too great a tax on the patience of your readers; I will make an extract, and offer a few further remarks on its contents.—“When asked whether he is acquianted with the details of the negociations for land in the New Plymouth district, he says, ‘I could not say that I was acquainted with the details.’ When asked of whom the Bell Block was bought, he says, ‘Principally, I believe, from returned slaves from Waikato; so I have been informed.’ Of whom the Hua Block? ‘I do not know.’ Of whom the Taururutangi? ‘I do not know.’ When asked whether Wiremu Kingi received any payment for the Bell Block, he says, ‘I do not know whether he did or page 60 not.’ When asked the territorial boundary of the four hapus of which he says Wiremu Kingi is the head, he says, ‘I am not acquianted with the boundaries. I have never professed to be acquainted with the boundaries.’” What inducement could I have been supposed to have had for wasting my time on acquiring a knowledge of the “details” of negociations for land at New Plymouth having no connection whatever with Waitara? Does either the Governor or Mr. Richmond intend to deny that the Bell Block was bought from returned slaves from Waikato? At Page 7 of this very “Memorandum” I find that the Governor himself says of the Bell Block—“The land was bought from the chief Rawiri Waiaua and a part of the Puketapu;” but does any one deny that Rawiri Waiaua was a returned Waikato slave?—that he was carried away into slavery when the Mikotahi Pa fell? If so he only exposes his own ignorance. Again—what had the “Hua Block” or the “Taururutangi” or the “Bell Block” or “the territorial boundary.”—not subdivisional boundaries—of the “four hapus” to do with the question at issue—whether Teira and a few others acting with him were the only owners of the 600 acres, which they professed to sell to the Government, and which everybody knew had no connection whatever with the territorial boundary of the “four hapus”? I could proceed with the rest in the same way, and expose more fully than I have yet done the miserable quibbling contained in the document under consideration; but what I have now said will suffice on this subject. For my part I am quite content to let the value of the evidence rest on, firstly, the fact mentioned above, that is, the effect produced on the Committee at the time it was given; and secondly on this, that with all the pains taken by the Governor and Mr. Richmond to invalidate and misrepresent my words and meaning, I do not find that the mis-statement of a single fact is alleged against me; certainly none is proved.
I have already directed your attention to the fallacy pervading the whole paragraph of the “Memorandum” on which I have been commenting, namely—that because I had pledged myself to establish a case, if allowed to bring witnesses, I was therefore bound to establish it on my own. The last question and answer at the close of my examination were—“Do you believe that if you were permitted to summon witnesses from the South, you could substantiate by direct evidence the statements you made before the Committee, where requiring direct confirmation? Yes, I think I could substantiate every one of the statements I have made relating to the Natives at Waitara. I am quite sure I could substantiate all of them.” But this was just what the Government refused to permit. I was prepared to give evidence on native tenure of land. I was equally prepared to state the relative positions of William King and Teira in the tribe. I was prepared to state that Teira and those who acted with him were only subordinate members of their own sub-tribe or hapu, Patukakariki, who has all along acted with W. King, being its chief. These and many other points I was ready to give evidence upon. But I did not profess to know the boundaries of each claimant's property; nor could fairly have been expected to do so. It is quite possible that the best lawyer in England, well versed in every page 61 work of note upon real property beginning even with Coke upon Littleton, may not be acquainted with the actual boundaries of any single estate in the kingdom: and it is quite certain that with the clearest case, he would break down, if precluded from bringing up his witnesses.
At Page 14 Mr. Richmond says—“Perhaps the most important circumstance is, that the sellers have exclusively occupied the block since their rerturn from the South in 1848, with the exception only of the site of King's pa. This fact of the exclsive occupation of the block is not disputed by Archdeacon Hadfield.” I have before remarked that it is quite impossible for any ordinary mortal even to guess at Mr. Richmond's mode of reasoning. Suppose Mr. Richmond should have thoght proper to assert that Waitara is in the Moon (it would be but little more absurd than many of his assertions), and then call this a fact; is it to be said, because I never disputed such an assertion, of which I had never heard, that I admit the fact? But if Mr. Richmond means that I have ever admitted the fact asserted by him, that “the sellers have exclusively occupied the block since their return,” I must inform him that his assertion is untrue. Nor is it likely that I should have made such an admission, when my own published letter of May last, cited from an official statement published at New Plymouth on the 20th of March the following passage:—‘King's followers have, however, encroached with their cultivations upon the South side of the river: and these encroachments have been, for a long time, a source of continual discussion.” It appears, therefore, that the Government itself did not venture to deny what was a notorious fact. I myself had no personal knowledge of these recent caltivations, and therefore declined to give evidence upon the subject. The Government however must lose the benefit of this imaginary “most important circumstance.”
At Page 16 there is a remarkable passage which I feel compelled to notice. In allusion to the Waikanae claimants Mr. Richmond says of me—“Mr. Parris also privately applied to him through Archdeacon Govett, of New Plymouth, requesting him to use his influence to procure the withdrawal of King's opposition. The Archdeacon replied—‘That he would not advise natives to sell their land; that he was not pleased with anything the Government had done for the natives, and that the Government would find that a large party of the natives at Otaki would espouse William King's cause.’ The natives of Waikanae, which is close to Otaki, were therefore, it is evident, fully aware of what was going on, long before the commencement of hostilities, and ought to have come forward.” I must premise the remarks I am going to make by saying that the passage printed in inverted commas in the ‘Memorandum,’ and purporting to be an extract from a letter of mine to Archdeacon Govett, is not a verbatim extract from that letter. In September, 1859, my friend Archdeacon Govett, at Mr. Parris's request, wrote to me in the following words:—“I write a line to ask wheter you would try and use your influence with William King, to induce him to give up some of his land at Waitara, say, on the south bank of the river. There is a very strong feeling against him, not only on the part of the Europeans, but also of a large number of the natives, on account of his obstinancy. Te Teira and his relations, who are said page 62 to be the rightful owners of the main part of the land, have offered it to the Governor; and he has accepted the offer, and is determined to bring the matter to a conclusion. If William King could be induced to yield, the Governor would be willing to make most liberal allowances; if he persists in holding his land great quarrelling and fighting will most probably ensue.” I need hardly say, that while I fully appreciated Archdeacon Govett's motives in acceding to Mr. Parris's request, and delivering his message to me, I felt indignant that an officer of the Government should have asked me to use any influence that I, as a clergyman, might have in reference to a contemplated negotiation about land. I therefore immediately replied, that I certainly would not advise William King, or any other native, in reference to his land. I here take the opportunity of noticing an insinuation, if not a statement, publicly made by Mr. Commissioner M'Lean, that I have advised natives not to sell their land to the Government. I now state most distinctly and unequivocally, that I have never, since New Zealand became a British colony, either directly or indirectly advised, or in any way endeavoured to influence, any native, or party of natives, not to sell their lands to the Government; and that Mr. M'Leans's statement is a falsehood, and one, I regret to say, which the many opportunities that have occurred for explanation, render wholly inexcusable. It is frequently said that I have great influence with natives. Whatever the amount of my influence with them may be, it is in a great measure traceable to my systematic and rigid abstinence, during a long course of years, from any interference with their affairs or proceedings where no religious or moral consideration was involved. Whenever, therefore, I have interfered, the natives have been convinced that some such principle was involved. An instance in point was my effective resistance of the Maori King movement in this district in May last, which the Government had made no effort to check. I then enforced only one single principle, namely, that a treaty made twenty years ago is not now open to reconsideration. If this movement should, after this long interval, recover strength, it will have been occasioned by the infatuated folly of the General Government. But to return from this slight digression. That I ever stated in writing, or in any other way, what is now attributed to me—that “I was not pleased with anything the Government had done for the natives,” is absolutely false. On the other hand, I have no doubt whatever that I distinctly stated, that under the circumstances contemplated by the Government, “a large party of the natives of Otaki would espouse William King's cause,” though these were not the words I used. I wrote to the Governor himself to the same effect in March last, as I have already proved by publishing extracts from my letter, but by no means limited my prediction to the natives of this district. I might leave this subject were it not that a curious piece of information has now been unwittingly given to the public. Innumerable hard words about the “guilt of blood” have been uttered against me by the Government, because I am said to have withheld my opinion of the probable consequences of a coup-de-main at Waitara, supposed only to require “a couple of volleys,” to enable it to effect its object. It is now confessed by the page 63 Government, that Mr. Parris applied to me in September, 1859, through Archdeacon Govett, in reference to the compulsory purchase of some portion of Waitara, and that I then conveyed to him my opinion that the contemplated step would bring on a general war, for that is evidently implied in my answer. That not the slightest weight was attached to my warning has since been proved by facts. What weight would have been given to it at a subsequent and maturer stage of the proceedings, may not be difficult to conjecture. Here, then, to apply Mr. Richmond's own words to himself, is “an engineer hoisted with his own petard.”
I refrain from further comments on Mr. Richmond's peculiar logic. It really seems very silly to say in an official paper, that because I thought the natives of Otaki would take a certain view of an event still future, of which at the time they had never heard, “therfore it is evident” that the natives of Waikanae, “which is close to Otaki,” ought to have brought forward their claims to a block of land, about the contemplated purchase of which they knew nothing.
I abstain for the present from any general notice of this “Memorandum.” I deliberately pronounce my opinion, formed from a tolerable acquaintance with the facts touched on, that it contains the most barefaced and disgraceful mis-statements and misrepresentations that I ever saw. I can say nothing more condemnatory of a State Paper. I conclude with one word of advice to any one who, having read Sir W. Martin's pamphlet, thinks that its facts or arguments are in any way impugned or affected by this reply, that is—Read it again.
Your obedient servant,