England and the Maori Wars
Chapter 10 — “Self-Reliance”
The New Zealand ministers, in a memorandum of December 30, 1864, described by Chichester Fortescue as “an excellent state paper, which does great credit to the Weld Ministry,” contemplated the removal of the Imperial troops:
“There may be partial disturbances, there will be imaginary alarms, the timid and those who have largely benefited by the presence of the troops will raise the usual outcry. But it is hoped that the war in the Waikato has practically come to an end. His Excellency the Governor has, by the advice of Ministers, and, as they understand, fully concurring, issued a proclamation which is virtually a declaration of the cessation of active operations at least in the Waikato, a district [which] is now occupied by no less than 2,500 military settlers, armed, organized and capable of self-defence. The operations at Taranaki … may be carried on with a local force, which, when the troops are withdrawn, the colony must supply. Ministers are of opinion that that spirit of self-reliance which constitutes real strength, and the surest guarantee for the future of a country, would be fostered by the withdrawal of Her Majesty's Forces and by the substitution of a small colonial force, partaking of the nature of an armed constabulary, officered, equipped and disciplined with especial reference to the services it would have to perform, and to the country in which it might be called upon to act.… It is confidently hoped that when the troops are withdrawn, the entire control of all its internal affairs, native as well as others, will be left to the Colonial Government. The system of double government, has, in the opinion of ministers, been fraught with the most disastrous consequences to both races of Her Majesty's subjects in this colony.”
Reference was made to the proposal for the separation of Auckland from the rest of the colony and other alternatives— page 242 division at Cook's Strait, or into three colonies—Auckland, Wellington, and the Middle (South) Island. Such schemes, the ministers affirmed, would “dwarf the political intellect of the colony, confining it to the consideration of narrow and personal interests, whilst there is no slight security for the future of the native race in the fact that the questions affecting them and their relations with the Europeans are influenced by men beyond the reach of local passions and interest.” (Colonial Office comment: “True.”)1
Discussing Weld's programme on February 17, 1865, The Times expressed the view that it would be received with “little dissatisfaction by the great majority of Englishmen.” “Mr. Weld,” it said, “appears to think that a moderate standing force would suffice to control the Maori tribes.… For the rest he relies upon strong and well selected military posts, and, above all, on military roads. He would drive these roads straight through the districts in which the Maoris entrench themselves, not fighting except upon compulsion, but completing the road at all hazards, and paying the natives themselves for working at them, if they could be induced to do so. Then he would establish military settlements on lands to be taken from the tribes actually in rebellion, and thus by one and the same act remunerate the auxiliaries now in the field, and raise a barrier against invasion in future.”
1 C.O. 209, 188. For a description of the separation movement, see W. P. Morrell, Provincial System of Government in New Zealand, pp. 139–44. A petition from the Provincial Council for the separation of Auckland from the rest of the colony was forwarded on January 5, 1865. It was supported by Sir George Grey, but rejected by the Home Government.
On January 7 Grey reported that “almost the entire native population at Tauranga, who recently submitted to the Queen's authority, have become infatuated under the influence of the fanatical faith which has been propagated by the false prophet who has appeared in this country, and that, abandoning all their property, they have betaken themselves to the mountains where the rebel natives are.”
In his Journal dated January 7, 1865, Deputy Quartermaster-General Gamble noted the spread of the “new Maori superstition called Pai Marire.”1 Its influence was seen in the action of Nukumaru, near Weraroa Pa, on January 25, 1865, when the Maoris made a spirited attack on the British camp, apparently believing themselves invulnerable. Gamble wrote: “Although the commencement of operations in this district (on the political wisdom of which it is beyond my province to speculate) has led to another collision with the native race, and the early termination of this protracted war may have thus become more unlikely, yet, as the great native meeting held at Rangitoto appeared to lean generally on the side of peace, and all is quiet elsewhere, it may be hoped that the hostilities unfortunately occurring here may continue to wear a purely local aspect, that they will ere long be brought to a close, and that the story of the last field of contest in New Zealand will then have been told.”2
1 See above, pp. 216–18.
2 W.O. 33/16.
A translation of a “Pai Marire” prayer, found in the village of Manutahi on March 15, was sent to the War Office:
By belief in the Ruler, all men shall be saved in the day of the passing over and the pouring out of blood, lest they should be touched by the destroyer, the enemy, the Governor, and his soldiers. The many thousands of the skies shall close up the mouth of the enemy, the Governor. To you, O Ruler, belongs the power to destroy his thoughts, and the sources from whence they spring, and all his works. You alone, O Ruler, are the strong stone slung at the Governor, his works, and the thoughts of his heart. To you only belongs the power to darken his eyes lest he should see the brightness, so that his thoughts may be troubled. By your power alone shall the Governor be completely overcome, because his works are evil. Be you strong, O Ruler, because your people, like men of Canaan, are naked people, possessed of nothing. You know it. With you alone, O Ruler, is the correctness (of this). This is my earnest striving to you, O Ruler, that the heart of the Governor should be drawn forth by you that it may be withered up in the sun, not to see any brightness because he is the bad Devil of the world, the destroyer of the men.1
On February 6, 1865, Sir D. Cameron, in a despatch to the War Office from Waitotara, stated that if the Home Government approved of the objects aimed at by the Colonial Government, he recommended that a reinforcement of 2,000 men should be sent from England. On February 27, however, the War Office instructed Cameron to send home at once 5 battalions of infantry.1 On March 10 the arrest of Hauhau fanatics on the East Coast was reported.
A memorandum of ministers rebutting the impression that the war in New Zealand was continued for the profit of the colonists was signed by F. A. Weld and dated March 20, 1865. It stated that ministers had advised the Governor to oppose the demand of Lieut.-General Cameron for reinforcements from England and that they would not advise any operation which might involve the retention of Imperial forces in the colony. They submitted the opinion that a colonial force of Bush rangers and cavalry united with the loyal natives would be sufficient for all necessary operations. Ministers thus described their defence policy: “To settle the country already held by troops; to identify the friendly natives as far as possible with their European fellow-citizens by the issue of Crown grants and certificates to them for land; and by measures generally calculated to improve the condition of the native race; to open the country by roads as occasion might serve and to secure the safety of the settlements of Taranaki and Wanganui by making a road, and by securing a military post or posts in the intervening hostile districts. Ministers believe the success of their policy to depend upon the willingness of the European settlers and those natives who live amongst them, to come forward in self-defence, aided for a time at least by an armed constabulary force under the direction of the Civil Government.” An outline of the scheme for an armed constabulary followed. It was to consist of thirty companies of fifty men each.1
1 C.O. 209, 189.
In his journal of March 7, 1865, Gamble described the truce negotiations at Weraroa Pa and the exchange of communications. One sent out from the pa was a manifesto from the high priest of the “Pai Marire” (“goodness and quietness”) religion.1 “It is written,” wrote Gamble, “under some strange delusion about the arrival of Germans in the country. In their new superstition they make use of gibberish unintelligible it is believed even to themselves. ‘Rire rire hau’ is an illustration, and is like a terminating ‘chorus.’ Their religion is also called the ‘Hau-Hau’ religion from the barking sound with which they articulate the word.
Gamble described the advance of the troops along the West Coast from Wanganui to the Waingongoro River, from the camp at which place he wrote on April 6: “In these Wanganui districts alone is war carried on, and, though it may not be immediately within my province, I cannot help placing on record that it had been better for the peace and prosperity of the country and the mutual welfare of both races, as it certainly would have been more to the interest of the Imperial Government, if the further acquisition of territory, and the other ends which the Colonial Government appear to have in view had been left to time and gradual development, instead of being prematurely forced at the point of the sword.”1
1 Levy's diary of the Volkner murder is in The Times of July 19, 1865. The Wellington correspondent's account appeared on July 6. The Illustrated London News of July 29 contained an account of the affray, with sketches. A good bibliography is included in Haubauism, a thesis by S. B. Babbage.
2 In a letter to Bishop Selwyn (in the possession of Selwyn's grand-daughter, Mrs. Will Spens, Cambridge) Archdeacon Hadfield wrote from Otaki on June 8, 1865: “I am much obliged for your kind note. There could be no use in your coming here: these miserable fanatics would not listen to any one. I do not hear that they have gained any converts, but the Kingites are giving them some countenance and support…. The state of things is not pleasant and arguing with fanatics seems not very profitable.”