The Taranaki Question
Extract from the Report of the Waikato Committee, presented to the House of Representatives, 31st October, 1860.
“Your Committee have not been able minutely to analyze the valuable mass of evidence thus collected, but they have unanimously arrived at the following conclusions:—
“They recognize as an undeniable fact, that of recent years, a great movement (attributable to a variety of causes) has been going on amongst the Native people, having for its main object the establishment of some settled authority amongst themselves. This movement is not, in the opinion of your Committee, a mere transitory agitation. It proceeds from sources deeply-seated, and is likely to be of a permanent and growing character. Upon the proper direction of this movement, the peace and progress of the Colony for years to come will greatly depend. Though it does not appear to be absolutely identical with what is termed the King movement, it has become, and is now, page 138 so closely connected with it, that the two cannot be made the subject of separate political treatment. The objects of a large section of the Natives were distinctly expressed at the great meeting at Paetai, on the 23rd April, 1857, at which the Governor was present, and at which it was understood by them that His Excellency promised to introduce amongst them Institutions of law founded on the principle of self-government, analogous to British Institutions, and presided over by the British Government. “I was present,” says the Rev. Mr Ashwell, referring to that Meeting, “when Te Wharepu, Paehia, with Potatau, asked the Governor for a Magistrate, Laws, and Runangas, which he assented to; and some of the Natives took off their hats and cried ‘Hurrah.”’
“Such a movement need not have been the subject of alarm. One of its principal aims undoubtedly was, to assert the distinct nationality of the Maori race; and another, to establish, by their own efforts, some organization on which to base a system of law and order. These objects are not necessarily inconsistent with the recognition of the Queen's supreme authority, or antagonistic to the European race or the progress of colonization. Accidental circumstances, it is true, might give, and probably have given, to it a new and more dangerous character: such, at present, appears to be its tendency: but it would have been from the first, and still would be, unwise on that account to attempt to counteract it by positive resistance, and page 139 unsafe to leave it, by neglect and indifference, to follow its own course without attempting to guide it.
“For these reasons, your Committee beg to declare their entire concurrence in the views expressed by the Governor in his Despatch to the Duke of Newcastle of the 9th May, 1857, and in the Memorandum accompanying the same.
“In his Despatch, His Excellency writes thus with reference to the King movement and its true character:—“It was, however, clear that they (the Natives) did not understand the term ‘King’ in the sense in which we use it; but, although they certainly professed loyalty to the Queen, attachment to myself, and a desire for the amalgamation of the races, they did mean to maintain separate nationality, and desired to have a Chief of their own election, who should protect them from every possible encroachment on their rights, and uphold such of their customs as they were disinclined to relinquish. This was impressed upon me everywhere; but only on one occasion, at Waipa, did any one presume to speak of their intended King as a Sovereign having similar rank and power with Her Majesty: and this speaker I cut short, leaving him in the midst of his oration.”