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Government Order

Government Order.

Colonial Secretary's Office,
, 16th April, 1831.

Whereas it has been represented to His Excellency the Governor that the masters and crews of vessels trading between this colony and New Zealand are page 180 in the practice (sic) of purchasing and bringing from thence human heads which are preserved in a manner peculiar to that country; and whereas there is strong reason to believe that such disgusting traffic tends greatly to increase the sacrifice of human life amongst savages whose disregard of it is notorious, His Excellency is desirous of evincing his entire disapprobation of the practice above mentioned as well as his determination to check it by all means in his power. And with this view His Excellency has been pleased to order that the Officers of the Customs do strictly watch and report every instance which they may discover of an attempt to import into this Colony any dried or preserved human heads in future, with the names of all parties concerned in any such attempt. His Excellency trusts that to put a total stop to this traffic it is necessary for him only thus to point out the almost certain and dreadful consequences which may be expected to ensue from a continuance of it, and the scandal and prejudice which it cannot fail to raise against the name and character of British traders in a country with which it has now become highly important for the merchants and traders of this colony, at least, to cultivate feelings of natural good-will. But if His Excellency should be disappointed of this reasonable expectation, he will feel it an imperative duty to take strong measures for totally suppressing the inhuman and very murderous traffic in question. His Excellency further trusts that all persons who have in their possession human heads recently brought from New Zealand, and particularly by the schooner Prince of Denmark, will immediately deliver them up for the purpose of being restored to the relations of the deceased parties to whom these heads belonged, this being the only possible reparation that can now be rendered, and application having been specially made to His Excellency for this purpose.

By His Excellency's command,

Alexander McLeay.