Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris
One more instance of denial of justice in the Middle Island must suffice for these pages, which will not hold a thousandth part of those which are calculated to cause groans among the Maoris.
A few large cases find their way into Courts and Parliaments. Unnumbered cases which involve the misery of the poor are usually unrecorded. It is fortunate that amongst the settlers in New Zealand there has been more kindness than has been displayed by some of those who, dressed in a little brief authority, have brought their acts within the scope of these pages.
In Dec. 1852, Mr. Mantell requested that small portions of land might be granted to Maoris who were in the habit of visiting the towns of Dunedin and Port Chalmers, and needed accommodation there for their boats, &c.* The Governor acquiesced and Mr. Mantell selected the sites. The site at Dunedin was at Prince's Street, and according to Mr. Mantell was the “only suitable piece of land now vacant.” Its extent was three acres.
There is much to be said about both reserves, but that at Dunedin is a sufficient sample for these pages.
On the 6th June, 1853, the Governor, Sir G. Grey, formally approved of the reserve “as recommended.”
* Most of the facts about the Prince's Street Reserve for the Maoris at Dunedin are in Mr. Mackay's Compendium of official Documents relative to Native Affairs, in Vol. I. pp., 107 to 195, and unless otherwise mentioned, the text is generally quoted from his book.
In 1853, the colony was divided into Provinces under an Imperial Constitution Act* (15 and 16 Vict. Cap. 72), and the Province of Otago obtained a Provincial Legislature, and a Superintendent, or quasi-Governor.
The General Assembly, or Parliament of New Zealand, was not convened under the Constitution Act until 1854. It was, of course, paramount to the Provincial Legislatures, and the Governor of New Zealand being still Governor over the Provinces was resorted to for certain purposes by the Superintendents of the Provinces.
In June, 1855, Mr. Cargill, Superintendent of the Otago Province, applied to the Governor for a grant to himself officially of all the Public Reserves in Dunedin. He abstained from describing them. His net was so large and his terms were so vague that Governor Browne informed him (Nov., 1855) that grants should be “of a specific piece of land and for a specific purpose.”
Mr. Cargill renewed his assault in 1856, still keeping back particulars, and the Governor (Feb., 1856) still required them.
Particulars having been obtained at last, certain grants were issued in 1858.
In 1858, Mr. Cutten, a Commissioner of Crown Lands at Otago, gave a significant intimation of the covetousness with which the Maori Reserve at Prince's Street was eyed. He thought the Governor had “exceeded his powers” in setting it apart for the Natives. His reason was so quaint, if not absurd, as to deserve notice. He seemed to think the claims of the Otago settlers anterior to those of the Maoris to their native soil.
In 1862, he supported a petition from persons desirous to rent the Reserve, and Sir George Grey (who had become Governor for a second time) acceded to the request.
The rent of frontages varied from £6 16s. to £3 19s. per foot, and amounted to £2525 16s. a year.
The rent was not handed to the Maoris, but (Cutten wrote) “paid into a separate account to be dealt with according to instructions.”
He applied for leave to pay £604 to the Town Board of Dunedin for “making a footpath along the front of the Reserve on the East side of Prince's St. Dunedin.”
* Vide supra. p. 7. In this statute Lord Derby's ministry did its work thoroughly. The Provinces of New Zealand were to have local legislative bodies. Subsections of clause 19 of the Constitution Act (1852) enacted that it should “not be lawful” for such local legislatures “to make or ordain any law… affecting lands of the Crown or lands to which the title of the aboriginal native owners has never been extinguished,” or “inflicting any disabilities or restrictions on persons of the Native Race to which persons of European birth or descent would not also be subjected.”
Mr. Cutten after some weeks furnished information, and still cast doubts upon the power of the Governor to grant to the natives of the soil the use of the small patch of land which (in consequence of the discovery of gold in Otago in 1861) had acquired commercial value.
The Superintendent of the Province, and Mr. Cutten, availed themselves of a visit by Mr. (now Sir) F. Dillon Bell to ply him with arguments about the hardship they endured while the Maori rights were respected.
Mr. Clarke without delay “waited upon His Honour the Superintendent, and Mr. Cutten, but could not obtain any positive information on the subject.”
To a formal request in writing, he received no reply. He reported (Oct., 1864) that as the original Deed of Otago specially provided for the making of such Reserves for the Maoris he presumed that it should “set the question at rest.”
Mr. Fox vacated office as Premier, in November, 1864, and was succeeded by Mr. Weld. The Postmaster General in the new administration was Mr. J. L. C. Richardson, who had formerly been Superintendent of the Otago province.
The new Native Minister was Mr. Mantell, who had, in 1852, induced the Governor to grant the Princes Street site to the Maoris.
In January, 1865, Mr. Mantell asked for the opinion of the Attorney General upon the matter. “After Sir G. Grey's departure in 1854 (Mr. Mantell wrote) the Provincial authorities seem to have questioned the power of the Governor to make these Reserves, and in 1861 when I spoke with the Superintendent of Otago, and Commissioner of Crown Lands on the subject, it was urged that they were too valuable for the Natives. There is now no reason why the title to these Reserves should not be distinctly recorded. How can that be done?” Obstruction in the Province was going on, and (29th March, 1865) Mr. Weld himself requested the Superintendent of Otago to furnish a statement of the claims made by the Provincial Government.
Action and not evasion had become necessary to deprive the Maoris of the Reserve. The Postmaster General, Richardson, who had formerly been Superintendent of the Province, conferred with the Superintendent of the day, Mr. J. Hyde Harris.
Richardson wrote him a letter on the 13th April, 1865, which was answered by Harris on the same day. Richardson movingly told Harris that the failure of “a Mr. Clarke” to extract information from the Provincial Government in 1864 had led the General Government to conclude that the claims of the Province were unfounded, and page 70 that “in the meantime steps are being taken to vest the property in the hands of Trustees for the natives of the province, and to apply the rents which have been received.”
“It will be evident to your Honour that should any claim exist in the part of the Provincial Government not a mail should be lost in making it known to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary.”
No time was lost. On the day that Richardson wrote to Harris, Harris answered Richardson lengthily, and sent the correspondence to Mr. Weld. Richardson also forwarded copies of the correspondence to the Prime Minister, but complained to Harris that the latter's silence at the time of Mr. Clarke's visit had justified “the conclusion arrived at by the Government.”
Mr. Harris wrote a long reply, which he may have thought a justification, and which is contained in Mr. Mackay's Compendium. He brought before Richardson a new fact, viz.: that £6031 18s. 9d. accumulated rents for the Reserve, had been by order of the Government, transferred from a special account to the “General Goverment account.”
Richardson was soon at Wellington, interchanging memoranda with Mr. Mantell whose replies will repay perusal.
In June, 1865 the Attorney General (Sewell) gave his opinion that the land had been “duly reserved as a Native Reserve” and that he did not “see any ground upon which either the Provincial Government of Otago, or any municipal body constituted in Dunedin, or any private individual could impugn” the appropriation.
The Attorney General was then a Cabinet Minister, and in most countries such an opinion from such a man would have been decisive.
But Maori lands have been subject to influences not common in other countries.
There were two cogent reasons for struggle. The land, and the thousands of pounds of accumulated rent.
The Superintendent of Otago begged that the Prime Minister would “let the question rest” till the Provincial Government of Otago could appeal to the Parliament, or General Assembly, of New Zealand.
The Government did not promise to comply with the request, but in effect nothing was done.
The assembly met on the 26th July; and Mr. Mantell, the advocate of justice, left the ministry on the following day.
A select committee in which Mr. Stafford sat, recommended, 25th August, 1865, that a Crown grant of the Reserve should be “issued in favour of the Municipality of Dunedin.”
In the House, Mr. Mantell strove to avert the adoption of such a report by moving (13 Sept.) that as the land was claimed as a Native Reserve the claim should be decided upon by the Supreme Court, and the Government should facilitate the trial.
Mr. Mantell might almost as well have “used question with the wolf.” But sixteen other members voted with him against twenty page 71 nine. With bitter irony he afterwards wrote (1866) that though he was willing to believe the proceedings perfectly parliamentary, they warned all who took an interest in Maori rights that the “time might not be far distant when by precisely similar and equally parliamentary action there may remain in the whole Middle Island, and in any part of the Northern Island in which our perceptions of justice are not strengthened by our fears, not one acre of Maori land or Maori reserve which shall not have been appropriated to provincial uses.”
There may have been persons for whom such a consummation had attractions. But there seemed some hesitancy about openly consummating the wrong recommended by the Select Committee. The highly respected Mr. Fitzgerald became Native Minister in the place of Mr. Mantell, and his censure may have been feared.
Be that as it may, Mr. Weld's ministry came to an end on the 16th October, and Mr. Stafford became Prime Minister. The session was closed in October, and the way was open for departmental action without risk of unpleasant questions in the House.
But the mode of action adopted seemed like that of a man who thinks that by wearing a mask he qualifies his acts for the better.
On the 4th November 1865, a Crown Grant Clerk at Dunedin, sent by order, “for His Excellency's signature two Crown Grants to the Superintendent of Otago” “as per accompanying Schedule.” Without being specified one of these was the Maori Reserve at Dunedin. Its description in the Schedule was, “Piece of land situate in Prince's Street, Dunedin.” “Public utility” was assigned as the “Nature of Reserve.” (Mackay, vol. i., p. 142).
Mr. Stafford, on 21st November, wrote to Mr. Dick, the Superintendent of Otago that “As it is the invariable rule and requirement of the Act that the specific purpose for which a grant is asked should be stated, I have to request your Honour to be good enough to specify more particularly the object of the trust.” “His Honour” complied (28th December) by suggesting the words “As a reserve for wharves and quays.”
At this period of the transaction, events occurred which none of the actors have been able to explain, though an examination conducted in 1877 before the Native Affairs Committee sheds some light upon them.
What is clear, is that the Crown Grant was put before the Governor for signature on the 11th January, 1866.
Sir George Grey's evidence proves that the subject of the Grant had been previously discussed and that it was deemed wrong to sign it.
He said (in 1877) “Discussions had taken place between myself and law officers and I had resolved that I ought not to sign the Grant until the matter had been fully discussed. A number of Grants were presented… I believed that one of them… was the Grant for this land, but I could not positively identify it; and as the Colonial Secretary (Stafford) who presented the Grant to me was perfectly satisfied that it was not the Grant for this reserve, I signed it. Subse- page 72 quently it turned out that the grant had been signed. It was done under a mistake… It was discovered the same day that the Grant had been signed improperly, and the Government tried to recover possession of the Grant, but it was found that the Grant had been sent off that day in a vessel going to Otago, and in that way the land passed… Mr. Stafford found out that the mistake arose from the negligence of a clerk in the Crown Lands Office. Mr. Domett, then Commissioner of Crown Lands, whom I sent for, told me how the error had occurred.”
Mr. Stafford testified in 1877, “As far as I can recollect, I think it probable that neither the Governor nor myself were aware when that particular Grant was signed… I think is very probable that this Grant may have come up inadvertently with a number of others, and in the same way may have been sent on by me to the Governor for his signature. I use the word inadvertently because I have some recollection, I will not be quite positive about it, that I had given a special instruction that that Grant should not be sent on for signature without my attention being called to the fact… I believe although I will not be absolutely positive at this length of time, that I gave such instructions… I have been informed that Sir George Grey who was then Governor has stated that he put some questions to me with regard to this Grant. I have no recollection (that he) ever put questions to me about any Grant whatever at any time. But if Sir George Grey says he is perfectly certain he did put such questions to me, I am not at this length of time prepared to say that he did not, but I have certainly no recollection of (his) having at any time questioned me as to a Grant, and I think if such an occurrence had taken placo I should have recollected it.” Two things are proved by these statements. Mr. Stafford had thought it right to give a special instruction to prevent a surprise, and the Governor had come to a conclusion, after consultation with advisers, that the Grant ought not to be signed.
Another thing is clear, viz.: that when the Governor's signature had been surreptitiously procured it was the duty of Mr. Stafford who had suspected that the Grant might be sent on without his attention being called to the fact, to take immediate steps to rescind the Grant, not at the expense of the Maoris, but by direct action on the part of the Government.
Another thing which is not so clear may be inferred from the swiftness with which the Grant was hurried away when signed. A hearsay rumour has reached me that it was this part of the transaction which gave the greatest pleasure to the actors in it, and that they were proud of having thus obtained the honoured name of the Queen to crown their proceedings.
It was then thought safe to drop the mask. Until January, 1866, the Dunedin plotters had usually spoken of the Maori Reserve, as “a Reserve in Prince's Street” or “on the east side of Prince's Street,” or “a piece of land situate in Prince's Street:” but having obtained page 73 the Governor's signature they seem to have thought it safe to use the language adopted by others.
On the 29th January, 1866 the Town Clerk boldly applied for the back-rents, or “certain monies in the hands of the General Government on account of the Reserve lately known as the Maori Reserve,* Prince's Street South, Dunedin.
This seems to have been at first thought audacious. Mr. Under-Secretary Gisborne replied, by direction of Stafford the Prime Minister, “There appears to be no power to transfer rents accruing on account of this land, previously to the issue of the Grant either to the Grantee or the City Council of Dunedin.
A Bill will be submitted to the General Assembly next session for determining doubts as to the appropriation of the land and the funds arising out of it.”
English readers may be inclined to ask why the Maoris were not asked what they wished to say upon the subject before their Reserve was thus shuffled out of their possession. Mr. Fitzgerald's and Donald McLean's efforts had not then given them seats in the Legislature, and the conduct of the actors in the Prince's Street drama does not suggest a hope that the Maoris were called upon to express an opinion. Moreover, Mr. Stafford's ministry was re-constructed, and Mr. J. L. C. Richardson, so active about the Reserve in 1865, became Stafford's colleague in 1866. According to Mr. Mackay's compendium,—quoting a report of a Select Committee,—Mr. Stafford performed a remarkable feat in the matter of the Reserve in 1866. He introduced in the Lower House, and carried through important stages in one day a Bill “to declare the Superintendent of the Province of Otago to be entitled to certain Rents received on account of a Reserve situate in Prince's Street in the city of Dunedin.” (Vol. i., p. 162).
There were, fortunately, two Houses of Legislature; and on the 28th September, the Legislative Council ordered the Bill to be “read a second time, this day six months.”
If there had been a plot to ratify by a law in September the abstraction from the Maoris of the land (for which both the Governor and the Prime Minister testified, that “by mistake” a Grant had been procured for the Otago Superintendent in January of the same year) the plot had failed. But it is to be hoped that the attempt to pass the Bill was but another mistake—of the same kind.
* Mr. Mantell was blamed for disrespect to the Provincial Government in advising the original Reserve. He advised it, in 1852, before there was any Provincial Government, before indeed the boundaries of the Provinces had been proclaimed by the Governor; (as they were in 1853.)
Be that as it may, we find in Mr. Mackay's Official Documents, (Vol. I. p. 143) a letter from the Chief Taiaroa, dated 5th August, 1866, to the Governor. “… I have a word to say to you about our reserve here in the Town. I request you to make clear to us the case in respect of it. I have heard that it is being taken away by the Pakehas of the Town, that land is. It is very wrong thus to take our land away without a cause. Friend, Governor—with you is the disposal of that land. Do you, in replying to us, make clear its position. If any Pakehas importune for that land, do not let them have it without paying for it. Friend, give heed…” The Prime Minister waited apparently more than two months before writing to “His Honour, the Superintendent, Otago” (Dick), about taking away of the land “without a cause”; having in the meantime made his abortive attempt to deprive the Maoris of the accumulated rent by a special Act. On the 16th October, 1866, Stafford sent, to Dick, Taiaroa's letter and said—“After a careful consideration of all circumstances connected with the Native claim to this reserve, and with the Crown Grant referred to, the Government is of opinion that the question of the validity of the Grant should be submitted to a proper judicial tribunal.” (He proposed to test the matter by a writ of Intrusion). “The expenses attending the process will be chargeable on the contingencies of the Native Department, or on the proceeds of the reserve, according as the issue may be.” (Mackay, Vol. I. p. 143).
But trials, especially fair trials, were never palatable to that section of the Colonists, which deemed the Maoris fit objects for pillage or maltreatment. Dick replied, 30th October, 1866, “on behalf of this Government (i.e. the Government of the Province Otago) I decline to try the validity of the Crown Grant by the course proposed, on the ground that the Provincial Government cannot recognize any Maori right or title to the reserve in question, which point it was understood, had already been definitely decided by the General Assembly.”
To any one ignorant of the curious way in which people can persuade themselves that their conduct is right, when they set aside in their own favour the weightier matters of the law—judgment and faith—it may appear unaccountable that such letters could pass at such a time between Stafford and Dick:—but they stand printed in Mr. Mackay's valuable “Compendium of Official Documents” (of which I may remark that I found it difficult to obtain a copy, but of which I have taken great care, and which I am prepared to show to any one desirous to consult it).
The next important document contained in it, is a letter addressed by no less than sixteen Members of Parliament to the Prime Minister on the 12th July, 1867. Mr. Macandrew was one of them. They tell him that in accordance with his own “request” made “on the 9th inst.” they apply to him for the rents, and that in their “humble opinion” it “would be an act of injustice on the part of the General Government any longer to withold them” from the Provinceof Otago. page 75 Stafford informed them (23rd July) that “the Government after a careful review of all the circumstances of the case is of opinion that the payment requested should be made, and will consider in what manner this can be legally effected.” On the 24th July he wrote to Mr. Macandrew (who had become Superintendent of Otago) and who was conveniently in Wellington. Stafford had been advised that the Superintendent of Otago must be “recognised as the recipient of the rents.”
But proceedings were threatened with a view to obtain a declaration of the invalidity and cancellation of the Crown Grant' and Stafford required, before paying the money to Macandrew, an undertaking for the return of the money, if the proceedings should be successful, or any other person than Macandrew should be found entitled to the money. On the 25th July Macandrew declined such a responsibility:— “however improbable it may be that the Supreme Court will give other than an equitable decision in this case, yet I am not warranted in committing the Province to the chances of such a contingency.” Macandrew added that after consultation with other members it was thought desirable that Mr. (now Sir) Francis Dillon Bell should re introduce in 1867 the Bill thrown out by the Council in 1866, the object of which was to enable the Otago Province to receive the Maori rents.
But an obstacle had already intervened. A Maori Chief, J. T. Patuki, had, 15th July, prayed that the Governor would “permit and enable” the Ngaitahu and Ngatimamoe tribes to try in the Supreme Court their right “to this reserve and these funds”; and on the 22nd July, Patuki had been informed that his petition had been assented to.
Mr. Mantell was courteously informed accordingly by a Minister, Mr. J. C. Richmond, 25th July, and was invited to interest himself as a friend in the matter as the Government wished “to afford these Natives every facility to test the validity of their claim, and will guarantee a payment to their legal advisers of a sum not exceeding £200 on acconnt of expenses incurred by you on their behalf.”
The sum was not large, and it would have to be paid from funds derived from the patrimony of the Maoris, but the tone of the letter was kindly.
Mr. Mantell agreed to act in accordance with it. But when application was made to the Attorney General, Mr. James Prendergast, for a Writ of scire facias in the case he replied, 6th August, “Upon the usual bond being given to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, let the Writ issue.”
Mr. Mantell (7th August) promptly requested his gracious correspondent, Mr. Richmond, “to indicate the mode in which the demands of the Attorney General are to be acceded to, and to appoint bonds-men to undertake the responsibility on behalf of the Government.”
Mr. Richmond's reply was neither prompt nor gracious. On the 19th August, 1867, he wrote:—(Mackay p. 149).page 76
“Sir, referring to my letter of the 25th July last, agreeing to guarantee up to a certain amount the costs of a suit as to the ownership of the Prince's Street Reserves, Dunedin, I regret to be under the necessity of informing you that the Government having at or near the time of my promise entered into an arrangement altogether inconsistent therewith, have considered it proper to withdraw the guarantee in question so far as the future is concerned…” (They would however pay costs already incurred).
J. C. Richmond.”
After brief interlocutions, Mr. Mantell replied formally on the 26th August. Meanwhile, Mr. Dillon Bell had, on the 30th July, introduced his Bill to enable Otago to receive the Maori rents, and on the 6th August had withdrawn it, on the plea that “the Government had taken the matter up;”* and on the 7th August Stafford had re-introduced a similar Bill†
On the 10th September it was passed in the Lower House, and was sent to the Upper, where, in technical phrase, it “lapsed.”
A Select Committee of the Lower House reported in 1868 thus:‡ “The loss of the Bill appears to be attributable to the following circumstances:—On the 22nd August a petition from a native chief, named John Topi Patuki, claiming to be interested in the reserve, was presented to the Legislative Council. Its prayer as described in the journal was that the Dunedin Princes Street Reserve Bill be not passed, but that ‘the whole question be dealt with by a judicial tribunal.’” (Similar had been Bishop Selwyn's and Sir W. Martin's prayer in 1860, about the land at Waitara and the Chief Te Rangitake.) The Legislative Council resolved 17th September to accede to Patuki's prayer, on the ground that the matter ‘could only be equitably and satisfactorily decided by the Supreme Court.”
The significance of Mr. Richmond's abandonment of the promise made by the Government to the Maoris is more easily understood by observing that after the promise was made on the 25th July by Richmond, his colleague, Mr. Stafford, as Premier, introduced his Bill to sanction the payment of the accrued rents to the Province of Otago.
* Mackay's Compendium, Vol. I., p. 172.
† It appears that on its introduction the Bill was framed, so as to validate the grant; but on the 23rd August amendments were made to avoid such an interpretation. But on what ground could the accrued rents be paid over to the quasi grantees if the grant was vicious? ib. pp. 152–172.
‡ ib. p. 172.
“Whether that unfortunate chief can ‘withdraw’ this guarantee with the facility which you appear to believe attends a similar but far less justifiable act on the part of the Government, the Attorney General can inform you… It seems scarcely necessary to inform you that after this experience of the ways of your Government towards the weak, I decline to take any further action in this matter on behalf of the Government. You will, of course, address any further communication to Mr. Izard, who, with Mr. Allan, on your letter and guarantee, undertook the conduct and charges of the case —my correspondence with you ending, I trust, here.
“To me the case is but too clear; on the one hand the Natives require from you, out of the funds received by you as their self-constituted guardians, sufficient to enable them, as encouraged by the Queen's Representative and by yourselves to try in the Courts of the Colony to recover property long recognized as theirs,… . on the other, a demand for these funds is made on behalf of the body which now holds that grant, supported by no argument that has not yet been fairly met, but preferred by sixteen members having votes in the Legislature.… And in this dilemma the Government proposes now to assume a position of absolute passiveness, withholding from suitors of its own creation enough of their own money to pay their expenses… Of the choice thus made by the Government there is, I fear, but one opinion open to any man who cares for the reputation of the Colony and his own honour.” Mr. Richmond retorted that some of the “topics” in Mr. Mantell's letter were of “a purely personal kind, and call for no official reply; although the injurious character of some of your remarks and insinuations will require notice when time shall enable a more temperate view to be taken on the subject.”
The manipulation of the matter required almost the art of a Joseph Surface, and it is well that Mr. Mackay's “Official Documents” reveal the facts.
On the 25th July, Macandrew refused to enter into an obligation to refund the rents if the Supreme Court should decide that he ought not to have received them.
In September the Bill to enable him to receive the accrued rents was arrested in the Upper House.
* Mackay's Official Documents, p. 156, Vol. I.
On the same day Mr. Richmond wrote to Macandrew that another member of Parliament had suggested “in conversation” with Richmond, that Macandrew would probably accept the rents, and give (what he had formerly refused) a guarantee “to refund the same if the result of proceedings at law or in equity should be to upset the Grant.” (Mackay, Vol I. p. 157.
On that same day, and apparently in a hurry, Macandrew informed Richmond “officially” that he was .‘prepared to give the necessary undertaking to refund the accrued rents,” and naturally enough suggested that if he could thus obtain possession of the funds, there would be “no object in pressing the Bill now before the Legislative Council.” If pressed, it might have been defeated in accordance with the determination to accede to the prayer of Patuki; and as its object was to put the money into Macandrew's hands, he did not require the Bill if Richmond would give him the money without it.
Accordingly, on the 24th September, 1867, the accrued rents (£6,031 18s. 9d.) were paid to the Superintendent of Otago, he giving the required guarantee.*
If Banquo had been in New Zealand, he might have said to the successful Province:—
” ‘Thou hast it now!’ land, rents, and favouring aid
From sublunary powers; and should Heaven grant
That no historic eye shall spy the matter,
The Maori wrongs shall vanish in the past,
As Maori lives in present. They depart
Like mist-wreaths of the morning; but a book
Which graves the stubborn facts on winged leaves;
Guard thou 'gainst that! for it shall tell the tale
To countless generations, and 'twere better
To do no wrong than let the wrong be proved
In the eternal blazon of the truth.”
But there was no Banquo at hand.
Patuki's petition to the Queen was presented by Mr. Mantell to the Governor on the 19th August, 1867.
It was not until the 5th October that Mr. Richmond furnished a memorandum to be forwarded with it to the Secretary of State.
Both Sir George Grey and Mr. Richmond alluded to the manner of the Grant. Sir George Grey said: “My responsible advisers at a meeting of the Executive Council inadvertently advised me to sign a Crown Grant dated 11th January, 1866.” Mr. Richmond said: “In the meantime inadvertently as regards His Excellency and the Colonial Secretary (Stafford) a Grant which had been prepared on the authority of the resolution of the House of Representatives was presented for signature and issued.”
* In 1868 a Select Committee of the Lower House reported that they had “not been able to satisfy themselves that this undertaking would be a security in the absence of an appropriation for the purpose by the Provincial Council of Otago. Mackay, Vol. I. p. 172. But the hurry of Messrs. Richmond and Macandrew made it impossible for them to allow reference to Otago functionaries.
Mr. Richmond's memorandum obscured the facts. The Governor wrote that he had “sincerely desired” that the case should have been “compromised in a generous spirit towards the natives of the Middle Island, who parted with large tracts of land to this Government for an almost nominal consideration.” The Secretary of State dismissed Patuki's petition by saying he was “unable to advise Her Majesty to take any steps in relation to it.”
Sir George Grey encountered difficulty in endeavouring to arrange the matter before quitting his post as Governor.
He told Mr. J. C. Richmond that he “thought the expenses of a suit for testing the validity of the Grant should be borne out of the accrued rents of the reserve,” and Richmond replied: “That fund is no longer in the Treasury,” * but suggested that proceeds might be abstracted from other native reserve funds, and on the 26th October, 1867, a formal order was made, in the Executive Council, to take £400 from Ngaitahu Reserve Funds to enable the Ngaitahu tribe to contend against the injustice done to them by “inadvertently” taking their land, and very “advertently” sequestering their rents.
Mr. Mantell was persuaded in November to watch the case, and the disbursement of funds on behalf of the Maoris.
Soon after these arrangements were made in 1867 the Native Lands Court sat (April, 1868) at Christchurch, and Mr. Hall (a colleague of Stafford, J. C. Richmond, and J. L. C. Richardson, in the ministry,) made that singular Order of Reference which the New Zealand Parliament was fain to validate by a special Act, with regard to the Ngaitahu Deed, and the extinction of Maori titles.
From Christchurch the judge proceeded to Otago, and there the question of the Maori Reserve at Prince's Street was raised before the Court.
An official return † states briefly how it was dealt with.
|Name of Claim.||Name of Claimant.||Date of Hearing.||How disposed of.|
|Prince's Street, Dunedin.||Kerei Taiaroa, and others.||May 23rd, 1868.||Application dismissed, evidence having been given that the land had been granted to the Superintendent of Otago. Applicants were instructed that they would have to go to the Supreme Court.|
It was not unnatural that the Maoris should think the Native Lands Court the proper tribunal to resort to, with regard to their land; but they are not the only persons who have formed erroneous notions as to the redress obtainable in a court of law.
* Memorandum by Mr. Richmond. Mackay's Compendium, vol. i., p. 155.
† Mackay's Compendium, vol. ii. p. 243.
They did not understand the law, but they knew something about equity and about human nature. They collected, as best they could, funds with which to sustain their cause; and the account was called “The Naboth's Vineyard Account.”
After a time the case went before the Supreme Court at Dunedin, and Judge Ward decided on technical grounds against the Maoris.
They were not allowed to put the merits of their case before the Court, and therefore none of their champions could complain of being treated more shabbily than they were. There were the usual technical proceedings; and Judge Ward decided that the Maori “declaration” was bad.
There was an appeal to the Court of Appeal sitting at Wellington, on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th November, 1869. The declaration had set out a writ in form of a scire facias, and long arguments were used on both sides. Much mint and cummin were expended, but some weightier matters were not dwelt upon. The case was called The Queen, Plaintiff in error v. James Macandrew, Defendant in error:— but the solemn act to which the Queen had been a party in New Zealand—The Treaty of Waitangi—morally conclusive as to Maori rights, was not allowed to be the measure of their claims. The Judges decided that the declaration was bad; and, on application of counsel for the Queen, reserved leave for him to apply to amend the declaration before the close of the sittings.
The proceedings occupy a score of pages in Mr. Mackay's copious compendium, where those who do not shrink from the unsavoury task can read them.
Mr. Mantell and Mr. Izard, a legal adviser, petitioned for a hearing before the Privy Council. Taiaroa journeyed to Wellington to consult about the necessary funds; others assisted, and the “Naboth's Vineyard Account” increased.
The appeal was in progress in 1872, and it may be that an exposure of the facts in England was not deemed desirable. It may have been thought that an English tribunal would closely investigate the Maori case; and deal with its merits, rather than stifle it in the wrappings of technicalities.
Messrs. Stafford, Richmond, and Richardson, were not at this time in office. Mr. Fox with Mr. Vogel and others acceded to office in 1869, and with them Donald McLean for the first time became Native Minister.
Mr. Stafford expelled the Fox ministry in September 1872, but was himself driven from office in the next month. McLean again became Native Minister in a Waterhouse Ministry in which Mr. Vogel was Treasurer and for the first time, Maoris were made Executive Councillors.
Mr. Vogel informed Mr. Izard that “the Government were desirous that the action should be stopped,” and that the Provincial Government of Otago shared the desire and “wanted possession of the land.”
Mr. Izard had “every hope of succeeding” in the appeal, but consented to compromise, and after sketching terms with Mr. Vogel, page 81 consulted Mr. Mantell. The result was that a telegram was sent to England to stop the appeal on payment by the Province of Otago of £4,560 and £500, which would provide, after certain deductions, £5,000 for division among the Maori claimants and leave the Province in quiet possession of the land which it had coveted so long.
Mr. Izard wrote to Patuki that though he did “not think the Maoris entitled to anything less, in strict justice, than the whole of the land,” —the chances of success must be considered, and he had made the best bargain he could with Mr. Vogel
Mr. Mantell also wrote to Patuki that the compromise represented not the Maori rights, but their prospect of obtaining them. He believed the rights unquestionable. “On considerations of public policy (he wrote) in the true interests of the colony, I should and do desire that the case should go on before the Privy Council whatever the result; for I am not absolutely without hope.… that an authentic exposure of all the facts relating to this case might at last arouse some English statesman to a sense, that in delegating powers to colonists the Imperial Government is bound in honour and duty to insist upon the honest fulfilment of every engagement made by Her Majesty's representatives on behalf of Her Majesty, and in Her Majesty's name, prior to such delegation; and that of this duty the Imperial Government cannot divest itself before God, though it may succeed in doing so before man—as man goes. But you will say… what is the best in a pecuniary point of view, that I can do for myself and my tribe in this matter? In this view I conscientiously believe that by accepting the proposed compromise you will obtain the full value of your chances, as far as I can see them. The law is always uncertain… no proper care has been taken when promises have been made to your tribe, or benefits guaranteed, so to bind the Crown as to give you a claim irrefragable against it in the Courts of Law.… The decision of the Privy Council may be adverse, or may not be final, and the case may have to be begun again, if you can go on with it; and whence are the funds to be derived?”
Whence indeed when there is a powerful syndicate leagued together to wage war with combined funds against the Maoris and their friends?
Mr. Mantell wrote also to Taiaroa, who told Mr. Izard that he could not say the compromise was bad, although it was known that the land was rightfully the property of the Maoris.—“However I will consent in order to save my property and that of all my people—lest we lose the case in England as we have lost it in the Supreme Court of New Zealand.”
Thus the title to the land passed away—at a time when its value was estimated at £100,000, and when a member of the New Zealand Parliament said that the condition of the Maori victims of “unfulfilled promises” in the Middle Island was a disgrace to any Government.
In the absence of some apprehension that an English tribunal would do justice without fear or favour, it may even be doubted whether the Maoris would have received any compensation at all. page 82 When Taiaroa afterwards moved for a Select Committe on “Unfulfilled Promises,” Mr. Macandrew complained that the composition of the claim to the Reserve for £5,000 “seemed only to have had the effect of giving a taste for blood.”
What, then, must have been the appetite of the Province of Otago which had swallowed almost all the land of which the Reserve was but a fragment, and sought that sweet morsel in the manner by which Sir George Grey's signature was obtained for the grant?
Is it to be wondered at, that, seeing how his people groaned, Taiaroa sometimes used strong language? There was a report by Judge Fenton upon a petition from the Ngaitahu about the failure of the Government to afford the hospitals and schools promised when they parted with their land.
The Report said that “even failure in this respect cannot be the subject of pecuniary compensation. Such compensation would be as incapable of calculation as the consequential damages in the Alabama claims.” It quoted a legal maxim to support the rejection of the groans of the Ngaitahu people.
Taiaora obtained leave to lay a written comment on the report upon the table. He criticized it as “confused.” “You refer to the Europeans having brought peace. I reply to that, I would be rather dead than live to witness the distress and pain which my people suffer through the deceitful and unfulfilled words of the false-speaking race the Europeans. You say qui sentit commodum, sentire debet et onus; but I have not seen any benefit derived by myself and my people from the Europeans.… The words of the report are merely grumbling words; they have no force. They are deceitful and delusive; (Kahore e pono) they are not true. Mr. Fenton refers to that vessel “the Alabama.” Is the same course to be taken with the Middle Island as with that vessel? What was done about her? Did not England pay on her account to the American Government, because she was built on English soil?” Sensitive people may blame such language, but can they wonder at it?
Having obtained for his suffering people the money paid by the Otago Province to stay the appeal to the Privy Council about the title, Taiaroa naturally applied for the arrears of rent which had accrued before the “inadvertent” grant of the Reserve to the Province.
In 1875 Mr. Mantell supported him, but McLean was uncompliant.
In 1876 Taiaroa asked in the House whether McLean would restore to the Maoris the rents “due before the issue of the Crown Grant.” They exceeded £6000, McLean postponed his reply in order to consult his colleagues; and, when again questioned, refused to re-commend the restoration “inasmuch as it was understood that the claim was settled or compromised by the payment” in 1872.
If that had been the case it would have been easy to say so in the first instance; and in that case also it would have been supererogatory to endeavour to procure Taiaroa's signature to a document which had page 83 not been shown to Mr. Izard. This was proved in 1877, when the persevering Chief renewed his efforts, and the matter was examined by the Native Affairs Committee.
Donald McLean, so powerful in the House on Maori questions, had then retired. The intricate methods resorted to in previous years to deprive the Maoris of the Reserve, and withhold from them the rents, were discussed before the Committee, but need not be mentioned here. Taiaroa gave cogent evidence. Mr. Fox and Mr. Macandrew warmly opposed the restoration of the arrears of rent. But the Committee nevertheless recommended it. Fox and Macandrew protested. Sir George Grey had become Prime Minister in October 1877, Mr. Sheehan was Native Minister. Mr. Macandrew was their colleague.
A sum of £5,000 was put on the Estimates as “Final settlement of Native Claims to the Dunedin Prince's Street Reserve,” and was passed on the 6th December by 28 votes against 23.
Taiaroa, though present during the evening, did not vote. The three Maori members for the North Island voted for the grant. Mr. Macandrew, consistently with his former opinions voted against it. So did Mr. Bryce a North Island member, who was Chairman of the Native Affairs Committee which had recommended the vote. Sir George Grey supported it. His ministry had only recently been formed, and it is possible that some votes were given on party grounds and without much enquiry.
Numerous avocations,—public and private,—prevent large numbers of persons from examining closely all the questions on which they are called upon to vote, and the duty of making no unfair demands upon their supporters ought to weigh heavily upon ministries.
Such was the end of the Maori Reserve at Dunedin, so small, so coveted and—to use Pistol's language—so conveyed.
Speaking of the proposal of certain theorists “to confiscate, either openly, or under the thin disguise of a predatory use of the taxing power, every man's freehold, Professor Goldwin Smith remarks:— “That the State has, by the most solemn and repeated guarantees, ratified private proprietorship, and undertaken to protect it, matters nothing; nor even that it has itself recently sold the land to the proprietor, signed the deed of sale, and received the payment. That such views can be propounded anywhere but in a robber's den or a lunatic asylum, still more, that they can find respectful hearers, is a proof that the economical world is in a state of curious perturbation.”*
The Prince's Street Reserve, however, was specially allotted to the Maoris.
It cannot be denied that the elaborate and curious manner in which it was wrested from them after “solemn and repeated guarantees” and pledges of protection from the Crown, deserves exposure in these pages. It has caused many groans, some pathetic, and some indignant.
The exposure of wrongs done is easy when circumstances have caused them to be officially recorded. A chief like Taiaroa having a seat in Parliament could drag the question of the Dunedin Reserve into light.
Some Reserves were lost in gloom; but those who should have been the beneficiaries were no less pillaged and had no less cause for grief than the Ngaitahu of Otago.
In 1882 in debate on a Native Reserves Bill, Captain Fraser (New Z. Hansard, Vol. 43 p. 637) said in the Upper House that “four Native Reserves were totally lost in Hawkes' Bay; nobody knew what had become of them.” And a newspaper remarked, “In spite of trustees, laws, regulations, red tape … they have been blotted from the map Not a creature from the Native Minister (Mr. Bryce) down … has the faintest notion of where they are.”
And yet some people are willing to swear that the Maoris are under great obligations for the justice and kindness with which they have always been treated ! and some other people without further enquiry, believe them.
Well might the old chief Parore say in a petition to the Queen in 1882:—"These things, and many of the laws which are being carried into effect, are, according to Maori ideas, very unjust, creating disorder amongst us, giving heart pangs and sadness of spirit to your Maori children, who are ever looking towards you, Most Gracious Queen; and it is averred by men of wisdom that these matters, which weigh so heavily upon us, are in opposition to the great and excellent principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.”
Lord Kimberley, forgetful of, or vilipending the Treaty, and the oft-repeated and solemn assurances of his predecessors that it should be religiously and scrupulously respected,—arrested the course of their petition, and told its bearers that “it was not the duty of the Colonial Office to advise the Queen in reference to local matters like the present.”†
* When Taiaora moved for a Select Committee on the unfulfilled promises, a member was shocked. The motion “might cover a claim for two millions of acres in the Middle Island.” In other words the largeness of an obligation is a reason for setting it aside altogether!
† Blue Book 1882. C 3382. p.291. The Earl's ideas about the honour and good faith of England and England's Queen on this occasion, help us to understand how it was that he was willing to sever Ireland from the United Kingdom and to abandon the Queen's loyal subjects to the yoke of those whom Mr. Gladstone had described as seeking to “march through rapine to disintegration and dismemberment of the Empire.”
The seizure of the Maori Reserve at Dunedin was special, and the arts of a Provincial, aided by the powers of a General, Government succeeded in abstracting from the Maoris, under the forms but against the spirit of law, the coveted vineyard of Naboth.
But even the forms of law were not always respected; and the time came in 1881, when deeds were done for which it was not even pretended that there was any legal sanction.
When my censure of those deeds provoked indignation against me, I hoped that by showing how unlawful they were, I should justify a certain portion of what I had written; but, the contention of my counsel on this point was overruled in 1886, in a court of law, on the ground that though the seizure of dwellings at Parihaka might have “been a very arbitrary act” the Judge thought (counsel on the other side) “quite justified in saying ‘I will not go into that question.’” In another part of the summing up, the learned Judge said: “No doubt that Parihaka affair would open, and did open, a strong observation about the position of the Natives and about the repressive measures which were to be taken against them. With reference to that I think it would be advisable as far as we can, to keep clear of all that discussion.”*
It is the manifest duty of all loyal subjects to obey the law, and I do not desire to complain here, of the manner in which the law was laid down by the learned Judge in 1886.
Accepting implicitly the condition that the arbitrariness or unlawfulness of acts done at Parihaka in 1881 could not be represented on my behalf before an English jury in 1886 as I wished, I may still present the facts historically to that tribunal—public opinion—for which these pages, are written.
If critical censure were prohibited there would be practically no check upon brutal or unlawful acts; for there is no process of Impeachment possible in a colony.
The far-seeing William Wentworth did indeed urge in a petition from New South Wales in 1844 that a tribunal for Impeachment ought to be created; and he cited in proof of the necessity, the judgment of the Privy Council in 1842,† which pronounced that, as to a Colonial Assembly, the right of Impeachment was “a claim for which there is not any colour of foundation.”
The colonial office saw no way to comply with Wentworth's demand, and no such way has since been found.
To the wider court of public opinion, therefore, must all friends of their fellow-creatures resort when they seek to denounce, and thereby to prevent, oppression.
* I quote these words from a printed report of the case which has been sold in New Zealand, but I know not who authorized the publication.
† Keiley & Carson. Moore's Privy Council Reports, vol. 4, p. 89.
The desolation of the district in 1869, as described by Sir William Fox and Sir F. Dillon Bell in 1880, and the resumption of the duties of humanity under Donald McLean, have also been recorded. McLean's instructions, and arrangements recognizing Maori possessory rights at the West Coast, and his purchasing their lands there, under deeds of cession, and the exultation of Governor Sir George Bowen, and the approval of the Secretary of State of Mc Lean's [sic: McLean's] proceedings have also been mentioned.
It is necessary to explain briefly now in what way the Government, with armed men, invaded the peaceful homes thus seemingly secured for the Maoris, trampled over tilled fields, destroyed stores of food, haled away women and children; imprisoned their beloved chief (or, as they deemed him, prophet); denied him a trial; and, when they nominally released him under a special Act, retained under it the power of re-arresting him and imprisoning him without even an allegation of his having in any way offended.
The story of Te Whiti is too long to be repeated in these pages. It is sufficient to say here that he had established such a reputation amongst his countrymen that those who were gathered round him at Parihaka on the West Coast, within the territory on which Maori possession had been so completely recognized by the Government, religiously accepted his advice.
Their numbers increased so much, that it was stated that at no part of New Zealand had there ever been, within European knowledge, so large and compact an area of land cultivated by Maoris.
The Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, described Te Whiti, in a Despatch to Lord Kimberley (February, 1881),* as having at all times refused to join in fighting against the Government, as “deeply versed in the Scriptures,” and while “professing not to have abandoned the Christian faith preaching a vague and mystical religion of which he is himself the prophet. Eloquent and subtle, and animated by an unquestionably earnest patriotism, he has for many years exercised a powerful, and for the most part beneficial, sway over the hearts and lives, not only of his own tribe, but of a large section of the Maori population. Where his influence extends drunkenness is unknown, industry is exacted, and peace sedulously inculcated.”
* Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, p. 118.
† Ib. p. 45.
The Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, told the Secretary of State at a later date (13th February, 1882)† “In any general estimate of Te Whiti's character and career, the salient points should never be over-looked that he has, with unvarying consistency, for a long course of years, advocated peace and non-resistance, that morally and materially he has benefited those for whom he has worked, and that his main offence has been, I believe, disclosed by Mr. Bryce, viz., that he is opposed to the passing of land from Natives into European hands. That he is so, there can be no doubt; but this is not unnatural, nor indeed from his point of view can I pronounce him wrong; for, that the alienation of their land, the introduction among them of public-houses, hitherto proscribed, and the cessation of regular industry, hitherto exacted of them, will produce injurious effects in the Maoris of Parihaka, cannot be doubted.”
Testimony as to the industrious character of Te Whiti's people is abundant.
When, by advice of his Ministers, Governor Sir Arthur Gordon despatched his aide-de-camp, Captain Knollys, with a letter to Te Whiti in December, 1880, Captain Knollys reported: “At a distance of three or four miles from Parihaka we passed through some large and good fields of potatoes, maize, tobacco, &c. These had the appearance of being well looked after, were carefully fenced, and the crops were looking very promising.… These fields, I was informed, are in the land proposed to be put up for sale by the Government. … Parihaka shows no sign of fortification” (p. 109). “Te Whiti also prohibits any spirits to be taken to Parihaka” (p. 113, Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382). The same Blue Book (at page 226) contains the report of a newspaper correspondent that “the slur cast upon the Maoris by their rabid foes, that they do not cultivate the land they hold, proceeds from deep ignorance of the facts. There are square miles of potato, melon, and cabbage fields around Parihaka; they stretch on every side, and acres and acres of the land show the results of great industry and care.”
* Ib. p. 69. At page 68 they said: “In the case of a chief like Te Whiti, who has so often shown a strong moral sense… and who has ever laboured to elevate the character of his people, and to restrain them from the vices so fatal to a savage race, the spectacle of a Government allied with spies and seeking to profit by their intrigues, cannot but degrade us in his estimation, and justify his aversion from our rule.”
† Ib. p. 277.
‡ N. Z. Parl. Paper, 1879. A.—8A.
“It was untrue to say that the whole of the land between the Waitotara and the White Cliffs had been confiscated. It never had been confiscated. The only instrument by which the claim of confiscation was ever set up, was the proclamation bearing the signatures of Sir George Grey as Governor, and of Mr. Fitzgerald as Native Minister, in Mr. Weld's Government. What did that say? It confiscated the land of those in rebellion: but it not only did not confiscate the land of those who remained loyal, it conserved their rights, and made the express promise to them that their land should not be taken. That was an undeniable fact. He could not conceive how any one acquainted with the history of the country could deny that these promises existed from the very inception of the confiscation. And it was equally true that none of the promises had been kept. They remained to this day in the same state in which they were in 1865, and the natives who were at that time in loyal obedience to the Crown, and had never been in rebellion since, had never had their land given to them yet.”
After other Native ministers had done more or less mischief, Sir Donald McLean encouraged the Maoris (not only the loyal like Te Whiti, but others who had been in arms) to occupy the country, and he so completely recognized their title that he paid money on behalf of the Government in purchasing lands from those who were called returned rebels.
The Governor reported McLean's arrangements “for the acquisition by purchase, with the goodwill of the Natives, of such portion of land as they hold within it, but do not require for their own use, and which appear desirable for European settlements.†
McLean's “arrangements” were approved by the Secretary of State. The district was largely occupied; and especially under Te Whiti's moral control at Parihaka, industry and sobriety were remarked.
How it came to pass that in 1881 a notable tragedy was enacted and his village was laid waste by the New Zealand Government must now be briefly told.
* N. Z. Hansard, 1879. Vol. xxxiv., p. 864. Sir Dillon Bell was no ordinary person. He had been Speaker of the Lower House, was in 1879 a member of the Upper House, was in 1880 selected with Sir W. Fox to act as a Royal Commissioner to report upon the state of affairs on the West Coast, and has now been for years Agent General in London for the colony of New Zealand.
† New Zaland [sic: Zealand] Parl. Paper, 1872. A. No. 1, pp. 62, 63.
After McLean's retirement and death the district to which he had restored peace underwent rapid change.
In 1877, Major Atkinson being Premier, Whitaker Attorney General, and Dr. Pollen Native Minister, preparations were made to survey the lands for sale, with little regard for, if not in contempt of, Maori rights and occupancy. The preparations were continued after Sir G. Grey became Premier in 1877, with Mr. Sheehan as Native Minister.
It was certified by a public officer (Mr. Brown, Civil Commissioner)* that in 1879 “one road was surveyed through cultivated and fenced land belonging to Titokowaru.” The Royal Commissioners, Sir W. Fox and Sir F. Dillon Bell, declared that “this unlucky step alienated Titokowaru, and lost us the benefit of his friendly influence,”† and without doubt similar steps caused groans among many Maoris.
Te Whiti's people at once, but without violence, deported the trespassers across the Waingongoro River, and the Government of the day (Sir G. Grey's) instituted inquiry. Mr. Sheehan, the Native Minister, said afterwards in Parliament (N.Z. Hansard, 1879, Vol. 31, p. 185): “I was not aware in 1878, nor was the country aware, nor do I believe the House knows as a fact, what the exact position of those lands on the West Coast was. It has only been made clear to us by the interruption of the surveys. It turns out that from the White Cliffs down to Waitotara the whole country is strewn with unfulfilled promises.”
In May, 1879, Te Whiti's people ploughed up lands in various places. It was alleged by some persons that this step was taken to raise the question of confiscation, and of title, in the courts of law, and Te Whiti appears to have given colour to the allegation. The West Coast Royal Commissioners reported somewhat to the same effect.‡
The ploughmen were arrested, and submitted to imprisonment without murmuring. Te Whiti said:—“Go, put your hands to the plough. Look not back. If any come with guns and swords, be not afraid. If they smite you, smite not in return. If they rend you, be not discouraged.”
Before many weeks had elapsed nearly 200 captives had been sent to various prisons.
* West Coast Commission Report. N.Z. Parl. Paper, 1880. Evidence in Appendix. Answer 671. Another witness, the surveyor employed, said (Answer 1016) “it was very unfortunate that this line should run through their cultivations, as Titokowaru had said the day before that they would resist any lines being cut through their cultivations. The meridian line is right into one the first thing, and is likely to go into several.” Can a historian commend such acts, or keep silence about them?
† Blue Book, 1882. C 3382. p. 62.
One empowered the Governor “to fix the date and trial of certain Maori prisoners,” and thus delayed if it did not deny justice.
This Bill was passed by both Houses, and was called a law. Mr Macfarlane protested against it as “abominable.” Mr. Stewart called it a gross infraction of the Great Charter.
The other Bill was called a Peace Preservation Bill. It belied its title. It enabled the Government—to issue Proclamations ordering Maoris to withdraw from their abodes; to imprison the non-compliant with or without hard labour; it denied bail; it denied trial without an order from the Governor; and specially suspended the Habeas Corpus Act. The lower House passed the Bill without delay.
When it reached the Upper House, Sir F. Dillon Bell declared, “We are asked to pass an Act such as no Legislature in the world I believe, has ever been asked to pass. We are not only to create a new offence but to enact that a native who commits that offence is not bailable. … Sir, I can hardly trust myself to speak upon such a measure. … I say you are absolutely mad to think of proposing an Act like this. I warn you that so surely as you are guilty of so great an outrage on our civilization, so perfidious a reversal of the promises of the Crown, so gross and unwarrantable an injustice to those who have never committed a crime as to pass such an act as this, so surely will you have bloodshed the moment you try to enforce it. I will not say, as members of the other House have said, that I shall wash my hands of it, but I shall record my protest against so utterly shameless an Act.… Until I hear the statement made (that the Governor had promised his assent) I shall not hesitate to say that under the Royal Instructions he cannot give his assent to the Bill. It is of a nature expressly violating all former Royal Instructions.”†
Mr. Waterhouse declared the Bill to be “the most monstrous, the most iniquitous proposal that was ever submitted to the Legislature of any country. Hundreds, even thousands, of people occupying a large tract of country under the assurance conveyed by a Proclamation of the Governor (would under the Bill be made) liable to a year's imprisonment. I would sooner submit to have my right arm cut off than be a party to it.”
By sixteen votes against six, the Upper House supported these noble protests, and for a time the honour of the country was saved.
* N. Z. Hansard 1879. Vol 31. p. 553.
† N. Z. Hansard, 1879, Vol. 31, p. 544.
This Panui, or manifesto, was not only sent to Te Whiti and the tribes, but printed in Maori and English, and sent to every member of the Parliament. The Royal Commissioners of 1880, Fox and Bell, reported that the ploughing “entirely ceased at the end of August.”‖
If, therefore, there had been a desire to test the legal position of the Government and of the Maoris, no difficulty was to be apprehended.
But some persons prefer making new laws to obeying those which exist.
* It is difficult for those who have not seen a Maori chief of ancient lineage and high character, to appreciate the Maori race, in which there is a large range from the highest to the lowest. The testimony of Sir W. Fitzherbert, Speaker of the Upper House in New Zealand, and recently delegated to represent the Colony in the great Conference at the Colonial Office (1887) may fairly be cited.
Speaking at a meeting of the Royal Colonial Institute, on the 10th May, 1887, Sir William said: “I have the honour to preside over what is called the Legislative Council—an Upper House–and in that Council there are three members of the Native race, and I can assure you that those gentlemen behave just as well as any of their English colleagues.”
I heard Sir W. Fitzherbert speak as above, but I copy the words from the “Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, 1886–87.”
Sir W. Fitzherbert had in former days recognised the nobler qualities of the Maori race.
After the wanton seizure of the Waitara block in 1860, and the war which ensued, it was felt by some persons that the settlers in other districts were completely at the mercy of the Maoris; and many distrustful and uncomplimentary expressions were hurled at the Maoris, coupled with confidence that “British Troops will throw themselves between us and the merciless savages not yet satiated with blood and murder.”
Sir W. Fitzherbert rebuked such language by retorting—“The remark that we were living at the mercy of the aboriginal race was true, and reflected the greatest credit upon them. What greater panegyric could be pronounced on the Native race than was contained in the statement of fact that for the past twelve months we had been living among them with the knowledge in their possession that we were in their power, and yet that they forbore to use that power? It was a fact unparalleled in history. Seeing, therefore, that we owed so much to the forbearance of the Native.…” New Zealand Hansard, 1861, June 11th, p. 24.
To some minds it is more congenial, when much is owing, to cancel rather than redeem.
‖ Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382, p. 68.
After the elections, Sir George Grey's ministry encountered an adverse vote, and a new ministry was formed in October, 1879. Mr. John Hall was Prime Minister. Mr. F. Whitaker, the Attorney General, was the person who in the same capacity had supported the Suppression and Confiscation Bills of 1863. Mr. Bryce was Native Minister, and Major Atkinson was Treasurer. Mr. Rolleston and Mr. Oliver filled other offices.
In December, 1879—the Maori prisoners not having been tried— a “Confiscated Lands Enquiry and Maori Prisoners’ Trial Bill” was passed.* It enabled the Government to keep the Maoris indefinitely in prison without trial. It was opposed in the House. One member, Mr. Stewart, said that the Government “were afraid, apparently, to go to trial to ascertain whether the Maoris were guilty.” Another, Mr. Turnbull, denounced the treatment of the prisoners as “not only barbarous, but cowardly.” Another, Mr. Tole, declared that the Bill “took away all the rights held dear by British subjects.”† As that was the object of the Bill, his protest was in vain. Mr. Bryce said that “If the House declared that these trials were to come off in due course, that was next month, he would not like to take the responsibility of remaining in office.” The Bill was passed.
(By various Proclamations the trials were postponed to April, June and July, 1880, and were then further denied by a new and singular measure).
The Confiscated Lands Inquiry part of the Bill of 1879, enabled the Governor to appoint three Commissioners to conduct an enquiry on the West Coast.
One was to be a Maori. Sir W. Fox, Sir F. Dillon Bell and Tawhai were accordingly appointed. When the latter saw the terms of the Commission he declined to act, feeling that he would be powerless. He liked not (he wrote) to be driven by two Commissioners sitting in a conveyance heavy laden with Maori grievances; and no good could be expected from a Commission which did uot [sic: not] authorize enquiry as to the root of the matter—the unjust Waitara war.
Fox and Bell were therefore the only Commissioners and they with the full knowledge of the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, stipulated, before accepting the task, that pending their enquiry and report the status quo should be maintained as regards titles, reserves, claims &c. This the government agreed to.‡
This stipulation appears to have been broken almost as soon as made. The Commissioners commenced their labours in January 1880, and in that month the Native Minister sent a large armed force into the district. The newspapers commented upon the action as a direct provocation to disturbance or war.
No official remonstrance against it by the Commissioners has, so far as I know, been published.
* Ib. p. 41.
† N.Z. Hansard. Vol. xxxiv. p. 621, 784, 787, 798.
‡ M. S. letter to the author at the time,
One can only surmise that some objections must have been made. Sir F. Dillon Bell had clear views as to the condition of the district, for on the 23rd Dec. 1879 he had said in his place in Parliament,* “It was untrue to say that the whole of the land between the Waitotara and the White Cliffs had been confiscated. It never had been confiscated. The only instrument by which the claim of confiscation was ever set up, was the proclamation bearing the signatures of Sir George Grey as Governor, and of Mr Fitzgerald as Native Minister, in Mr. Weld's Government. What did that say? It confiscated the land of those in rebellion; but it not only did not confiscate the land of those who remained loyal, it conserved their rights, and made the express promise to them that their land should not be taken. That was an undeniable fact. He could not conceive how any one acquainted with the history of the country could deny that these promises existed from the very inception of the confiscation. And it was equally true that none of the promises had been kept. They remained to this day in the same state in which they were in 1865, and the natives who were at that time in loyal obedience to the Crown, and had never been in rebellion since, had never had their land given to them yet.”
The Native Minister's conduct must have jarred against these views. Describing the affair subsequently to his constituents he said—
“I moved the Armed Constabulary across the Waingongoro River… People felt convinced that it meant war, and from various influential quarters the government were urged not to advance the Constabulary across the River until the Royal Commission had completed its labours… One may not regard it so now but at that time it was very generally regarded as a most important step, a step which would not improbably lead to war . . I settled my plans in anxiety… I, acting of course for the government, moved the Constabulary across the river; I made roads, and I made them without the consent of the Maoris; I completed the telegraph line which Te Whiti had resented; I caused the light-house to be begun to which Te Whiti had refused his consent; I falsified all his predictions and put the camp within two miles of Parihaka… The fencers who were sent down to obstruct the road-making (the reader must bear in mind that some roads were made through Maori cultivation fields) were captured and put in prison.”†
Thus,—in spite of the stipulation made by the Commissioners Fox and Bell, in spite of the understanding made known to the Governor Sir Hercules Robinson,—the toils were closing around the peaceful Te Whiti, and the demon of war or violence menaced the territory.
Madman as some called Te Whiti, enthusiast as all deemed him, he was not deterred, even at this moment, from his resolve to repress all tendency among his people to acts of resistance.
* N. Z. Hansard 1879. Vol. xxxiv. p. 864.
† Blue Book 1882. C. 3382. pp 127, 128.
In February the Commissioners were busy in the district. They announced to the Maoris who appeared before them that promises made by the government would be fulfilled, and reserves would be made for the Maoris; but they did not say that all existing holdings occupied by Maoris would be secured to them.
On the general question they reported— “We of course knew from the first that the legality of the confiscation would be contested before us by the adherents of Te Whiti, and we had to make up our minds very early as to the right course for us to take.… We therefore refused to hear counsel who wished to question the validity of the confiscation, and we told the natives from the very outset that we were not there so discuss such questions with them, . .”*
This decision of course frustrated the intention of Taiaroa and his friends when in August 1879 they sent their manifesto entreating the tribes to leave their “rights to be settled by the law.”
The marching of an armed force to the threshold of Te Whiti's peaceful village could not but seem to the tribes an intimation that the government relied upon force and not upon law.
Te Whiti addressed his people in March—“I speak of the bayonet that has glittered this day in my face . . I talk of the flash of the gun before my eyes and the bayonet pointed at my heart. Who can deny it? O Maori, O Pakeha can you say that I am wrong?… Although some of you in the darkness of your hearts. seeing your land taken from you, might wish to take up arms and kill the aggressors I say unto you it must not be.… I do not want war, but the Pakehas want war. The flashes of their guns have singed our eyelashes, and they say they do not want war… Referring to me what do they say? They say I am a fanatic, a fool, and a mad man; but I am neither. The land is yours, but what I have seen lately is enough to turn the brains within my head into the brains of a fanatic. Still we must cause no more trouble to come upon the land by any action of our own.”
The Royal Commissioners made Reports on 15 March, 14 July, and 5 August 1880. It seems that when Sir Hercules Robinson left the Colony in September 1880 the time was deemed suitable for further trial of Te Whiti's long suffering. A speech by the Native Minister tells how he desired to march upon Parihaka with “two thousand concentrated men.” If Te Whiti had resisted† . . I should have arrested him, . . I have been accused in the public press of a great many things. I have been told that I was going to make a desperate advance, and occupy Parihaka, violently arrest Te Whiti, and bring on a war. In fact I have been represented as a bloodthirsty wretch who only wanted an opportunity to have his name handed down as the perpetrator of another massacre of Glencoe.”
* Blue Book. 1882. C. 3382. p. 79.
† Blue Book 1882. C 3382. p. 128.
Sir Arthur Gordon having been called upon by Lord Kimberley for a Report on affairs at the West Coast, furnished it on 26 Feb. 1881; but it was not laid before Parliament in that year.
The delay is explained by a Paper not presented to the House of Commons, but to the New Zealand Parliament† after delay of more than a year.
The Despatch itself was presented to the House of Commons. late in 1882, but not the secret cause of delay, which was thus explained in New Zealand:—
On the 13th July 1881 Mr. (now Sir) John Hall, head of the Ministry, entreated the Governor to telegraph to the Secretary of State their “request that the Despatch may not be published at present, and the expression of their hope that any intended publication of the document will be so made known to them that their opinion as to such publication may reach and be considered by the Imperial Government.”
The Governor complied, and the answer of Lord Kimberley is thus given in the New Zealand Parliamentary Papers:—
“The Secretary of State replied that he would delay publication if possible; but that, as the papers had been promised, they must be published, if pressed for.”
It was more than a year before the Despatch was produced in England, and then only after Sir Michael Hicks Beach had publicly asked for it.
Such was the concert of Lord Kimberley with the New Zealand Ministers. They were intent on suppressing Te Whiti, and the Secretary of State aided them in suppressing Despatches.
They procecded with their work of carving out the land for sale, and laying out roads with disregard of Maori occupants.
The Commissioners, Fox and Bell, made three Reports, which are contained in an English Blue Book (1882, C. 3382), the last being dated 5th August, 1880.
In the Session of 1880 several measures were passed which must have caused groans among the Maoris, and were denounced in the New Zealand Parliament.
On July 15th, 1880, when already two Reports (of March 15th and July 14th) had been signed by Fox and Bell, with regard to their labours on the West Coast Commission, and had shown the manifest injustice under which the Maoris had laboured, the Native Minister's “Maori Prisoners' Bill‡, 1880,” was introduced.
* ib. 129.
† N.Z. Par. Pap. 1882 A 8. p 16.
‡ New Zealand Hansard, Vol. XXXVI., p. 251.
On July 16th, the Native Minister* in moving the second reading of the Bill (introduced) by himself as a Maori Prisoners' Bill) said: “This is not a Maori Prisoners' Bill that I am now proposing. The truth is, it was a mere farce to talk of trying these prisoners for the offences with which they were charged… If they had been convicted, in all probability they would not have got more than twenty-four hours imprisonment, if so much, in addition to the term of imprisonment they had already served… Now in this Bill we drop that provision in regard to the trial altogether We consider that to be a mere sham; and what we ask for now is that the Government shall have the power to say whether these men are to be detained in captivity or to be released.”
The Maori members of the house pathetically implored that a trial might be vouchsafed to their countrymen and boldly denounced the Bill.
Tomoana said† the proposed imprisonment was “the worst way of killing anybody. It is making perfect slaves of these men.”
Mr. Stewart denounced the deprivation of the right to a writ of habeas corpus.
Mr. Turnbull declared that Sir W. Fox and Sir D. Bell had proved “the grave injustice” done to the prisoners and their friends. The Report “teems with evidence of the manner in which we have endeavoured to destroy a noble race… We have ill-treated these people for years, and let us now determine to deal fairly and justly with them.”
Sir George Grey regarded the Bill as “a cruel measure, and as an unnecessary measure. It violates almost every principle of the law.”
Tawhai demanded trial for the prisoners “before the Supreme Court.”
Mr. Montgomery declared that in passing a Bill to place some of “Her Majesty's subjects outside the pale of the law,” the Government would commit “an act of great injustice.”
* Ib. 285.
† N. Z. Hansard 1880, vol. xxxvi. p. 288. The succeeding quotations are from the same Volume, extending as far as page 363 as regards “the Maori Prisoners' Bill, 1880.”
Mr. Pyke denounced that “policy of wrong, that policy of expediency, that policy of dishonour, which ministers are striving in this case to induce the House to adopt.”
Mr. Reeves considered the measure “one of the most iniquitous Bills ever discussed in any British Colony. It is a Bill that would be scouted out of any civilised community… It is a disgrace to the colony to pass such a Bill as this.”
With dim consciousness of the truth to which the New Zealand Government was doing violence, Captain Russell, a supporter of the Bill, declared—“In days to come, when historians write the annals of this country, they will view the struggle which has taken place from a very different standpoint from that which we can take who are mixed up in its turmoil and disagreements. The men whom we look upon as rebels will to my mind occupy a brighter page of history than many of those men whom we look upon as faithful . .”
Mr. Hutchison said he was “irresistibly driven to the conclusion that the Bill is an outrage upon both law and justice;” and he wondered how the Governor could reconcile with the terms of his commission the sanction of such a measure.
Mr. Ireland could not vote for the Bill “without violating his conscience.”
Mr. Speight declared that in the “unjust form” of the Bill, “cuting as it does at the root of all our liberties,” he must vote against it.
Mr. Tole (who afterwards became a Cabinet Minister in New Zealand) entered his “most serious and solemn protest against the Bill.”
Major Harris thought the Bill “the most wanton piece of cruelty that ever was proposed in any part of the country.”
Tawhai sorrowfully stated that during the imprisonment of his countrymen, five of their children, who might not have perished unless deprived of their parents' care, had died.
The prisoners should be tried, and “if innocent taken back to the land.”
Mr. Andrews delared that the treatment of the prisoners was “most severe, most harsh, most unjust, and cruel. I do not know that in my reading of history I have ever come across a parallel case. Certainly in English history there is nothing like a parallel case… I never knew a Maori to break faith.”
The Bill was supported by many adherents of the Ministry, and was carried by fifty votes against thirty-four, including pairs.
On the following day the Bill was passed through committee and read a third time, the Native Minister and his friends resisting successfully an amendment, providing that before discharge from custody a native should have lawful trial.
The Upper House passed the Bill, and it obtained the Royal assent on July 23rd, 1880.*
* The Act is in the Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382, p. 28.
All captive natives were to be “deemed and taken to have been lawfully arrested, and to be in lawful custody.” (Sec. 3.)
No court, judge, justice, or other person was to discharge or bail a captive without an order from the Governor in Council and in that Council the Native Minister was the authority on native affairs. (Sec. 4.)
Not content with these powers, the Ministry introduced, through that functionary, on July 30th, 1880, a “Maori Prisoners' Detention Bill,” which he hoped the House would pass “without discussion through all its stages.”*
He had thought it necessary to make some arrests, “and might have to continue making more arrests in the same way.” The prisoners taken or to be taken in this manner were to be “deemed to have been and to be detained under the provisions of the (previous) Maori Prisoners' Act, as effectually as if such natives were included within the terms of that Act.”
Major Te Wheoro having opposed the Bill, Mr. Hutchison said, “he did not think there was any other free country in the world where a Minister of the Crown could have announced that he had arrested individuals unlawfully and without any charge of crime being brought against them.”†
The Native Minister replied that the Government accepted the fullest responsibility, and it must be evident that they “had no intention of shrinking from responsibility because they had already taken these prisoners without any form of law.”
They were, in fact, at the time arresting Maoris whom they found fencing in plots of ground within that territory to which Sir Donald McLean had invited them to return, and within which the Governor (Sir G. Bowen) had informed the Secretary of State in 1872, that arrangements had been made by Sir D. McLean “for the acquisition by purchase with the goodwill of the natives, of such portions of land as they hold within it, but do not require for their own use. . .”‡
This was the land on which armed men were seizing the Maoris, and the Native Minister informed the House that seizures were made without any form of law.”‖
Mr. Speight said “he knew of nothing which would bring the blush of shame to their cheeks in after days so much as the passing of this Bill would, unless they were past feeling shame altogether”
* N. Z. Hansard, 1880, Vol. XXXVII. p. 16.
† N. Z. Hansard. Vol. XXXVII. p. 19.
‡ N. Z. P. P. 1872, A. No. 1. p. 63.
‖ N. Z. Hansard. Vol. XXXVII. p. 19.
Tawhai pointed out that contrary to the rule with regard to Bills affecting Maoris, the Bill had “not been translated” into a Maori.
Major Harris said that the “West Coast Commissioners (Sir W. Fox and Sir D. Bell), in their report acknowledged that the land belonged to the natives. It was very hard that the Government should entrap the natives and then pass a law to justify their action. This was a shameful act which they had been guilty of…”
Mr. Seddon said that the Bill was “unconstitutional and vicious in the extreme.”
Sir G. Grey pointed out that women and children might be arrested —“without any charge made”—under the Bill. “In the worst days of the French Revolution such a power was never sought, never given, and never attempted to be taken… This measure would be a constant reproach to the Assembly of New Zealand if it were passed in its present form… It was too much to ask that the lives of many women and children and men should be dependent on the will of one man. He would still ask the hon. member to consider what he was doing. He asked him not to compel the House to pass a Bill which must reflect disgrace upon it.”
The Native Minister “could only say now that he felt ashamed of the action* of the Opposition on this occasion;” and the Speaker having regretted “that there had been an infraction of the Standing Orders which prescribed that Bills specially affecting the Maori people should be translated and printed in the Maori language, and that this Bill had not been translated,” the Bill was passed and was assented to on August 6th, 1880.
But further powers were demanded by the Ministry. What was called a “West Coast Settlement Bill” was introduced on the 10th August.
It contained four clauses under the heading of “offences.” These clauses gave almost absolute power to the Government.
Any orders which might “seem necessary, or fit to preserve the public peace,” might be given.
* N. Z. Hansard, ib. p. 26.
Offenders, or suspected persons, might be arrested “without warrant.”
A curious clause enacted that “Natives who have been arrested or shall hereafter be arrested (under) ‘the Maori Prisoners’ Detention Act, 1880,' shall be deemed and taken to be in custody under ‘the Maori Prisoners’ Act, 1880,' and shall be detained accordingly.”
Thus, men arrested under one of these persecuting Acts were to be deemed arrested under another, in accordance with the terms of a third —and all three Acts were passed in a few weeks in one session.
Yet, while advocating the last of them, the Native Minister bore witness, that “however perplexing the tactics of the natives on the coast have been, I do say that those tactics indicate that they do not wish to proceed to hostilities.”*
Mr. Pyke said “A more arbitrary, despotic, or unconstitutional measure than this West Coast Settlement Bill—except the Maori Prisoners' Trials Bill and the one that succeeded it—never disgraced a Parliament of free men… Illegal arrests have been made of these natives for a considerable time; and this very Bill proves that they were illegal arrests, for it is a Bill to justify the arrests made. … I believe that the Armed Constabulary, in a violent and hostile manner, entered upon this land, destroyed the fences, ruined the cultivations of the Maoris, either allowing the cattle of native owners to wander unchecked over the country, or cattle belonging to other persons to enter thereupon. All the crime the natives were guilty of was the re-erection of fences around that which they believed to be their own property based on their own usage from time immemorial which is to them as sacred as any number of parchment deeds that all the lawyers in New Zealand could draw up… I should lose my respect for the colonists of New Zealand, and for the country from which we came, if they sanctioned the enforcement by the Government of such an abominable and despotic Act as this I hold in my hand.”
Mr. Moss “ventured to say” that the Act would be disgrace to the Statute Book of New Zealand; “it was one of a series of which the House will yet feel ashamed.”
Mr. Macandrew said: “I believe the future historian of New Zealand will refer to the Bill as something quite as bad as anything that ever took place in the worst times of the Star Chamber. I look upon it as being inspired by pretty much the same feeling as that which led up to the massacre of Glencoe… I enter my protest against the Bill as being unworthy of Englishmen and free men.”†
* N.Z. Hansard, 1880. Vol. XXXVII., p. 482.
† N.Z. Hansard, 1880. Vol. XXXVII., p. 487.
The Native Minister (in reply) said, “I have always taken up the position that these Maoris do not intend to provoke hostilities… (but) if these Maoris went on private lands and began ploughing, and induced armed men with guns in their hands, and those guns in many instances at full cock, to drive them off by violence, those acts would lead to hostilities whether they were so intended or not.”*
One who read these speeches in 1880 was reminded of the fable of the wolf and the lamb.
The Bill did not pass through the Upper House without eliciting from the Honourable Captain Fraser the statement that its “second part” (as to offences) “breathed the harsh and hostile spirit of the Native Minister towards the native race.”†
The reader may judge whether a harsh and hostile spirit existed in some minds, by the following remarks of Mr. Scotland in the Council in debate on native claims at the West Coast.
He quoted the following phrases from a West Coast newspaper of June 14th, 1879 (N.Z. Hansard, 1880. Vol. XXXV., p. 308.):—
“Perhaps all things considered, the present difficulty will be one of the greatest blessings ever New Zealand experienced, for without doubt it will be a war of extermination…
“The time has come in our minds when New Zealand must strike for freedom, and this means a death-blow to the Maori race.” “Good Heavens” (exclaimed Mr. Scotland, himself from Taranaki), “a war of extermination a blessing!… That is only a specimen of the Taranaki press.”
The West Coast Settlement Bill became law on September 1st, 1880, and is printed in the Blue Book, 1882 (C. 3382), p. 29.
During the Parliamentary Session of 1880, many Maoris were arrested for fencing in the Parihaka district. The armed road party pulled down a fence on 15th July, and their commander Colonel Roberts reported,‡ “Two natives came to put it up, stating that they did not want to stop the road, only to protect their crops… “They are willing to put up a swing gate. . Please let me know if you will authorize such being done.” On the following day the gallant Colonel told the invaded farmers that the Native Minister “would only approve of a gate as a temporary measure until they had fenced the road off.”
Day by day, until more than 200 had been arrested and despatched to various prisons, the vain attempt to save crops was persisted in. But, on the 12th November, the “Maoris instead of as usual erecting a solid fence . . put up slip rails, which of course sufficed to keep animals out of the growing corn, yet which could be taken down to allow the passage of any horse or waggon using the road. Colonel Roberts telegraphed for instructions, and was very wisely told to allow the slip-rails to remain.”§
Thus Governor Sir Arthur Gordon reported in February 1881, being apparently ready to give credit when he could to his ministers.
* Ib. p. 524.
† Ib. p. 652.
‡ Blue Book, 1882. Despatch of the Governor. C. 3382. p. 123.
§ Ib. p. 124.
But they were so discontented with his temperate report, that, as has been seen, they implored the Secretary of State to withhold it from the House of Commons, and it was withheld from the House until late in 1882, when Te Whiti had been seized and his village laid waste, and a measure, misnamed a law, had been passed to deny him those rights which belong to all subjects of the Crown.
Governor Sir Hercules Robinson left New Zealand on the 8th September 1880, and the Chief Justice Prendergast became administrator. (It was he, who had given in 1869 the legal opinion already quoted as to the claims of Maoris to rights of British subjects, &c.) During his administration in 1880 it appears that some of the Maoris arrested at Parihaka were tried. Their counsel raised an objection that the area within which arrests might be made was undefined in the West Coast Settlements Act under which they were alleged to have been made, and that his clients were entitled to strict construction.
The objection was over-ruled, and the judge sentenced the prisoners to two years' imprisonment with hard labour, in Lyttelton gaol, and to find a surety in £50 each, to keep the peace for six months after the expiration of the sentence. He also told the interpreter to tell the prisoners that whether they would serve the full term of their sentences depended* on the conduct of their countrymen whom they left behind them. (Blue Book 1882. C. 3382, p. 27.)
Is it a daring supposition that as the prisoners had always desired to be at peace, and were nevertheless imprisoned, they uttered groans when transported from their native island, under a sentence of which the duration was contingent not upon their own conduct, but on that of others?
Yet according to Sir Frederick Whitaker, no “reasonable objection can be taken “to the treatment of the Maoris. (supra p. 27.
Whether reasonably or unreasonably there is no doubt that they often groaned, and their grievances deserve to be recorded.
While Prendergast was Administrator, in September 1880, it appears that the Native Minister desired to march upon Te Whiti's settlement.
In the same speech to his constituents which has been already quoted with regard to sending an armed force into Te Whiti's district he explained that “Everything went on well until September last . . I ought to have gone and seen Te Whiti with such a force at my back… If he had resisted . I should have arrested him.… I have been accused in the public press of a great many things… In fact I have been represented as a bloodthirsty wretch, who only wanted an opportunity to have his name handed down as the perpetrator of another massacre of Glencoe… As a matter of fact I did resign last September… but I withdrew that resignation.…”†
The scruples of the ministry gave a qualified breathing time to Te Whiti's people; but “settlement,” as it was called, was pushed forward in the district.
* New Zealand Herald, 24th September, 1880.
† The speech is fully reported in the English Blue Book. 1882. C. 3382. pp 127—129.
The New Zealand Herald reported in November 1880 that “a large portion of the Waimate Plain has been sold at high prices,”—some at £6 an acre “for cash, and £7 on deferred payments.”
Who the extruded Maori proprietors were, and how they groaned, no newspaper told.
Sir W. Fox and Sir F. Dillon Bell had concluded their labours, and had recommended the reservation of 212,520 acres for the Maoris—to fulfil the promises of former governments—besides 25,000 acres at the Waimate Plains, and 25,000 acres of Parihaka for Te Whiti and his people. Sir F. D. Bell went to England as Agent General for the Colony, and Sir W. Fox was made sole Commissioner to determine the allocation of the lands in terms of the Report of the previous Commission.
The award of that Commission must have surprised some persons. Mr. Bryce himself after he became Native Minister had said, in Parliament, that there were “probably no grievances to speak of on what is known as the Waimate Plains proper;”* and yet much of his life had been spent on the West Coast; he was at the time the member for Wanganui, and he said in Parliament, 26th May, 1882, “I was in the way of being acquainted with the natives on that coast.”
In 1880 the Commissioners found many grievances and said “the story ought to fill us all with shame.”†
When the new Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, arrived in November 1880 and found that he had been called upon to furnish a Report to the Secretary of State, he received statements from the ministry. Among them was a memorandum from the Native Minister, about Te Whiti, whose tribe, the writer said, had “formerly engaged in hostilities, but so far from Te Whiti joining in such acts himself he has always preached peace.” (Blue Book. 1882. C. 3382. p. 103).
Captain Knollys described how roads had been forced through cultivated grounds—how Te Whiti appeared peaceful—and how he prohibited the introduction of intoxicating liquors in his settlement. “If the chiefs struggle to suppress the evil among their people, cannot some assistance be given them in their good object?” Captain Knollys asked. Not such assistance, but active interference of another kind was advocated at this time by the Native Minister, for on the 12th January, 1881, the Governor told the Secretary of State—“Mr. Bryce was desirous that measures of active hostility against Te Whiti and the natives of Parihaka should be at once undertaken by the Government, but has been unable to induce his colleagues to share his views, and has consequently retired from the cabinet.”‡
* New Zealand, Hansard, 1879. Vol XXXII. p 358.
† Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382, p 72.
‡ ib. p. 113.
Sir Arthur Gordon sent to England on 26th February, 1881, his report on the affairs of the West Coast, and as has been seen, was induced in July, 1881, to telegraph to the Secretary of State the earnest desire of the ministry that the report might be kept back from the public.
In September, 1881, while the Houses were in session, Sir Arthur Gordon, who was High Commissioner in the Pacific as well as Governor of New Zealand, sailed for Fiji. Sir James Prendergast (recently knighted) became Administrator of the Government. He had not been gone many days before Mr. Rolleston, the Native Minister, obtained a vote (in the House) of £100,000 for “Contingent Defence additional,” on the last night of the session. A Maori member said afterwards in the Housethat the vote was “brought up suddenly after most of the members had gone on board the steamers to depart for their homes.”
Some persons had said that Te Whiti had made a warlike speech in September, but the Government received official telegrams to the effect that the speech was not warlike, and that Te Whiti had taken care to say so. But if he was not warlike, it was soon rumoured that the ministry were.
The New Zealand Herald of 26th September, placed the words, “The sudden increase of the Armed Constabulary Force”—at the head of an article.
Another paragraph mentioned that Maoris were ploughing “on land bought at the late sale by Mr. Hunter. It is one of their old cultivations.”
Mr. Rolleston went to Parihaka and, according to the newspapers, sent “long telegrams” to the effect that “neither in Parihaka nor elsewhere is there the slightest indication of any intention to fight. On the contrary, the whole attitude of the natives is thoroughly pacific and good-tempered, while they are engaged to an unusually large large extent in cultivation and other peaceful employments.”
Nevertheless the military body, the Armed Constabulary, was largely increased.
At the end of August it was returned as 678 in number.
At the end of September the number was 802.
On the 31st October it was 1074.*
On the 5th October Mr. Hall and another minister, Major Atkinson, were reported as having visited Mr. Rolleston at the West Coast, and it was stated that Mr. Bryce, who had left the ministry in January, had been invited to rejoin it in order to carry out what was called his “native policy,” i.e., making a raid upon Parihaka.
Meantime Te Whiti, on the 17th October, preached mystically, but peacefully, as usual.
“Every year I have been saying—Be patient… The gun will not be a protection for man in these days. Man must not look to thepage 105 gun, the sword, or the spear, for safety… We are like a brood of chickens left in the nest by the parents. We have no one to assist us, but though the Almighty has permitted trouble to pervade the land do not fear… Though the land be overrun by a multitude they shall vanish. My heart is sad. The people are dead, and the land is gone. There is no quietness, no peace of mind in these days. I always counselled you to be manawanui, (full of courage, fortitude, and patience). We will in time overcome all difficulties… Guns and powder shall no longer be the protection for man… God has protected and will protect the people and the land—not guns and powder… I alone know how to guide you all.”
* New Zealand, Hansard 1886. Vol. L., p. 372.
Peaceful as the speech was, it did not deter the New Zealand ministry from their intended raid.
The newspapers reported that Mr. Bryce was “in conference with ministers” for two or three days before their plan took formal shape. Meanwhile, Sir Arthur Gordon's Private Secretary, Mr. F. P. Murray (who had remained in New Zealand) had, with the full knowledge of the Ministry, written to Sir Arthur Gordon.*
He had told him, 26th September, of the augmentation of the Armed Constabulary Force; that settlers were being enrolled and armed, that a vote for £100,000 had been taken, and that “war with the Maoris was regarded as almost inevitable.”† But no communication had been received from Sir Arthur.
He, however, on receipt of Mr. Murray's letter, determined to return at once to New Zealand, and as a vessel was sailing from Fiji to Sydney he sent thither a telegram to be forwarded thence to Lady Gordon at Wellington.
It arrived there on the 16th October, announcing the Governor's “immediate return.” On the morning of the 19th Mr. Hall, the head of the ministry, conversed with Mr. Murray about the Governor's movements. Mr. Murray told him that the Governor “might be looked for at any moment.” “My intention (Mr. Murray wrote) was to convey to Mr. Hall without quoting a private telegram, the strong probability there was of the immediate return of the Governor.”‡
That this information quickened the movements of the Government cannot be demonstrated, but they could hardly have been quicker or more irregular than they were.
† Blue Book 1882. C. 3382. p. 165.
‡ Mr. Murray's memorandum is set out in full in the Blue Book. 1883. C. 3689. pp. 56–57.
Did Mr. Murray expect too much? Would he have expected so much if he had known some earlier events in the history of New Zealand as to the applicability of the laws of nature and of nations in dealing with the Maoris?
The nocturnal council was held. Hall submitted a memorandum imputing blame to Te Whiti (who only desired to be left in peace) and Prendergast signed a Proclamation denouncing Te Whiti and declaring that if within fourteen days Te Whiti should not submit to its dictates, all “previous promises will then have passed away.…” Such “passing away” was too common to have any special terrors for Te Whiti's followers.
The haste of the nocturnal council spread to the departments. That night the Proclamation of war (as some called it) was printed and furnished to the newspapers. Telegrams scattered it abroad, and on the morrow it was widely disseminated.
But something else was done at night by Sir J. Prendergast and his advisers. Mr. Rolleston signed the Proclamation, but immediately resigned office; Mr. Bryce was appointed Native Minister—and it was arranged that he should start at daylight with the Proclamation signed by his predecessor and by the Administrator.
And where, meanwhile, was the Queen's Representative? Mr. Murray had truly warned Prendergast and Hall that Sir Arthur Gordon might arrive at any moment; and while the secret conclave was busy—before their Proclamation was hastily issued,—H.M.S. ‘Emerald,” with the Governor on board, was at anchor in the harbour of Wellington. . He did not land that night, and when he went on shore in the morning the new Native Minister was on his way to Parihaka.page 107
Not only on the spot but in Australia the electric telegraph on the 20th October described the nocturnal deeds of the New Zealand Ministers. Knowing of Mr. Bryce's resignation early in the year, and its causes, I apprehended the significance of his return to office: though of himself I knew nothing except from his public acts and speeches. But I had conversed with Mr. Rolleston, and I wrote the following note immediately:—
Letter from G. W. Rusden to William Rolleston, October 21st 1881“Melbourne Club, Melbourne,
October 21st, 1881.
“My dear Mr. Rolleston,
“I cannot express to you the pang which it gave me to see that you had resigned the post of Native Minister, and had been succeeded by Mr. Bryce.
“It would be impertinent in me to advise, but I may entreat you to reflect upon what must be the judgment of posterity if the marauding schemes of the New Zealand Company—the robbery at the Waitara, the persistent sharping at the Dunedin Prince's Street reserve, the confessed broken promises on the West Coast—are wound up by an attack on Te Whiti because he preaches peace, and preaches it with more eloquence than his enemies, or some of them, can advocate war. Had I but a trumpet tongue, I would cry to the world; but I have not, and I appeal to you as one who has, until now, maintained the manners of an English gentleman, though brought into contact with strange Englishmen or civilized savages abroad, as well as with ‘naked savages’—as the New Zealand Company called the Maoris.
“I have been intending to write to you for some weeks to ask you to let me have any fresh printed papers about the West Coast; but I have now little heart in the matter. I trusted in your supervision: ὄμμα γαρ δωματος δεσποτου σωρουσια—but if you shut your eye, and brutal force is used, woe be to the reputation of New Zealand!
I received no answer, nor did I expect one after I saw an account of Mr. Rolleston's subsequent proceedings.
* I wrote on the same day to Mr. Swainson, and urged him to let his voice ring out against the contemplated enormity. I reminded him how he had formerly raised it against wrong, and as an advocate of right. “I can only think of you. Th sound of your voice, or the dictates of your pen, would engrave themselves more readily than if the public were daily familiar with them. For Heaven's sake launch a bolt in favour of the right, so that at least it may be said that there was one righteous man among you.” Mr. Swainson, who was old and infirm, did not comply with my request; but he lived to write to me in 1884, and congratulate me upon my “minute and accurate knowledge of the affairs of New Zealand.”
It was rumoured that there was difference between the Governor and his advisers, and a Wellington newspaper, opposed to what it called “pandering to Maori idiosyncrasies,” said—“The Governor will interfere at his peril.”
Peculiar “Idiosyncrasies” had once made the Wellington Independent say (21st July, 1868) “no mercy should be shown. No prisoner should be taken. Let a price be put upon the head of every rebel, and let them be slain without scruple wherever the opportunity is afforded. We must smite and spare not.… We must treat them as a species of savage beasts which must be exterminated to render the colonization of New Zealand possible.”
Between such an “idiosyncrasy,” and the feelings of honourable Englishmen there was necessarily a wide gulf.
It must not be supposed that only the Governor respected the claims of humanity and duty. On the 26th October, 1881, Mr. Lautour, a member of the N. Z. Parliament, wrote to a newspaper:—“No pious uplifting of the hands and committal of the Maoris to the help of God amidst the plaudits of the multitude can wash our hands in innocency, and put the sin we contemplate upon the few ignorant and foolish men whose blood Taranaki means to have if their living bodies are not continuously confined in Southern gaols.… What is the South to gain by the extermination of the natives on the West Coast? Extermination is not my word. Major Atkinson† speaking at Hawera, about two years ago, is reported to have said: ‘he hoped if war did come the Maoris would be exterminated.’… It is the exclusion of enquiry into confiscation that has mainly induced the natives to withhold recognition of the West Coast Commission. The refusal of one of the parties to recognize and accept the decisions of a tribunal of appeal created by the other, when that tribunal is for-bidden so much as to lift the veil which hangs over the original confiscation, is no sufficient cause of war.
“Every Maori or European shot, and every European woman and child subsequently massacred in revenge for such shooting, in consequence of the injudicious and unreasonable ultimatum of October 19th, if indeed it be carried out, will be a human soul murdered for no better reason than this: that successive Ministries have been as fruitful to promise as they have been slow to perform their promises.”
Mr. (now Sir) Robert Stout, who had been, but was not in October 1881, a member of Parliament, but was afterwards elected, and became for three years Attorney General and Prime Minister in New Zealand wrote also to a newspaper, thus:—
* Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, p. 166.
† Major Atkinson was a Minister in October, 1881. It is fair to add that at a later date, 10th June, 1882, he denied the accuracy of the newspaper report (7th June, 1879) of his speech. Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382, p. 285.
All that occurred when violent hands were laid upon Te Whiti and his people, need not be told here. But some of the events which caused the Maoris to groan may be touched upon.
An advocate of the Government measures had written (9th September) to the London Times that in spite of Te Whiti's preachings, “the Government has sold the confiscated territory up to the very gates of his fortress.” Te Whiti had no fortress;—but putting aside that mistatement (vide Times, 25th October, 1881) the sale of their cultivated fields was calculated to cause many groans among the dispossessed.
What was to be done at Parihaka would appear to have been left to the Native Minister's discretion, or indiscretion. When the Governor asked Mr. Hall, the Premier, what instructions had been given to guide Mr. Bryce, Mr. Hall answered, “It has not been considered necessary to furnish written instructions to Mr. Bryce. He has discussed the whole situation…, and as the Minister to whom it specially belongs to deal with the question… a large amount of discretion must necessarily be vested in him… Where special circumstances or sudden emergency render immediate action necessary Mr. Bryce will act on his own responsibility.”†
Armed forces were collected under the Native Minister's orders.
† I have not been successful in my search for this document in the English Blue Books. It is to be found at page 2 of a New Zd. Parliamentary Paper, 1883, A. 4. The ministry which gave this carte noire to Mr. Bryce, consisted of John Hall; F. Whitaker; H. A. Atkinson; W. Rolleston; Richard Oliver; T. Dick; and W. W. Johnston.
Te Whiti was looked upon as a prophet by his people, and he seems clearly to have divined the meaning of the gathering of 2,000 armed men around his village.
Early in November the Wanganui Chronicle reported that Te Whiti said:—“I am still for peace. I will go into captivity, and the lions will dwell upon the land; then there will be no more war.
“What matters it? My object is accomplished; peace reigns. I am willing to become a sacrifice for my object.… Oh, hard-hearted people! I am here to be taken. Take me for the sins of the island! Why hesitate? Am I not here? Though I am killed, I yet shall live; and, though dead, will yet live in my object—which is peace. The future is mine, and little children will answer in the future when questioned as to the author of peace; they will say, Te Whiti, and I will bless them.”
On November 4th the Native Minister issued an order prohibiting civilians from being present with his army on the 5th.
A few newspaper correspondents† disregarded the order, and were with Te Whiti early on that day, but secreted themselves while they watched the proceedings. When they explained their object Maoris said to them—“We quite understand why the government is ashamed that the country should know what it is doing; but we have nothing to be ashamed of and you are welcome.”‡
* Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382. p.p, 191–193.
† The interest excited in the minds of the correspondents may be inferred from the fact that one of them wrote—“Of the Taranaki contingent (of the colonial forces) it was said with a frankness that made the blood run cold, that twenty men were sworn to shoot down the first Maori that chance placed it within their power to kill.” Blue Book, 1882. C. 3382, p. 225.
‡ Ib. p. 227. In the same page the writer says “The whole spectacle was saddening in the extreme; it was an industrious, law-abiding, moral and hospitable community, calmly awaiting the approach of the men sent to rob them of everything dear to them.”
Watching their leader's beck and will
All silent there they sate, and still.
The Riot Act was read, the bugle sounded an advance; an officer was reported to have told his men “if any Maori flashed a tomahawk to shoot him down instantly.”‡
Te Whiti was ordered to go to his visitors, but answered that he “would remain with his people.… he had nothing but good words to say to Mr. Bryce. Mr. Bryce replied in a tone that those who heard considered harsh that he would not come to him unless he made a path among his people through which Mr. Bryce could ride. The natives, it must be remembered, were so compactly packed that to do this was an impossibility. Te Whiti replied quite calmly that the horse's feet might hurt some of the children.” (The interpreter for Mr. Bryce said) “the horse was a quiet one.” Te Whiti replied that if Mr. Bryce wanted to speak with him, he must come on foot.¶
Some of an “arresting party,” of about one hundred armed men marched through the men, women and children and laid hands on Te Whiti, who “quietly awaited their approach. The moment they laid their hands on him he rose… He came away in a very dignified manner, his wife following closely.… Te Whiti said to his people— Be of good heart and patient… Be steadfast in all that is peaceful.”‖
I refrain from characterizing these proceedings in these pages. Criticism might offend any, if such there be, who, having been enriched at the expense of the Maoris, would not only wrongly win, but would enjoy their gains unchallenged.
I may, however, quote what was written by a gentleman who had observed the conduct of “the army” as it tramped among women and children, and laid hands on their peaceful chief.
The reporters emerged after Te Whiti's seizure, and one of them wrote: —“If anything in connection with one of the saddest and most painful spectacles I have witnessed could be ludicrous, it was the expression of the faces of the authorities, when they saw that their grand scheme for preventing the colony from knowing what was done in the name of the Queen at Parihaka had been completely frustrated. Not an action escaped observation. Not an order given was unheard or unrecorded.”§
* Ib. p. 228.
† Ib. p. 228.
‡ Ib. p. 228.
¶ Ib. p. 228.
‖ Ib. p. 229.
§ Ib. p. 229.
A few extracts from those documents, and from newspapers, will sufficiently describe the treatment of Te Whiti and of his people. Besides newspaper information, the Blue Book of 1882 contains official telegrams from the Native Minister to his colleagues, and the public are greatly beholden to the Governor for the copious materials he sent to the Secretary of State, to enable that functionary, if inclined, to guard the honour of his country.
Te Whiti was carried to prison.
“Comment is freely being made, both among the troops and civilians, upon the fact that on the day of taking possession of Parihaka, Colonel Roberts was placed simply in the position of an aide-de-camp to Mr. Bryce, who personally gave all orders, taking care however to keep himself clear of any possible danger.”*
The Maoris were described on the 6th November, as sitting disconsolate, in sad contrast to the gaiety and light-heartedness that usually reigned in Parihaka. “Still they are as polite in demeanour as ever.”†
Newspapers commented openly upon what their activity had exposed. The Lyttelton Times (8th November) said:—“The Native Minister organizes a demonstration against a native village, and he contrives to attain to a pinnacle of absurdity which no one has even imagined in dreams. After carefully collecting a huge force of soldiery from all parts of the colony he has to read the Riot Act to a peaceful population, calmly seated in their own market place .…… . Every one is aware of the discreditable trick which the ministers played off upon the Governor, taking advantage of his absence to hurry out a most ill-advised Proclamation. That Proclamation was, probably, illegal. In it the name of the Queen's Representative was made to endorse one statement so disingenuous as to be dangerously near to falsehood, and another of which the truth never has been, and never will be evident to any candidly reasonable capacity.… If the consequence should be the taking of a single acre of the lands in cultivation at Parihaka, as threatened in the Proclamation, that taking will be an act of simple spoliation.”‡
* ib. p. 231.
† ib. ib.
‡ Ib. p. 214–215.
On the 8th November the Native Minister told the Maoris “to disperse.” Assuming that they were trespassers, and that their only lawful abodes were such as he might appoint, he issued a proclamation ordering them to “return to their own settlement, there to await the instructions of the Government concerning them.” (Blue Book, 1882, c. 3382, p. 235.) His verbal order was reported in these words:—“Go away, all of you; pack up your belongings. Go and leave the place.” (ib. p. 234.)
Parihaka was then subjected to a curious and perhaps unexampled process, “Mr. Bryce personally directing every movement.” (ib.) The Blue Book furnishes the names of a colonel, and of captains, who figured on the scene. Two of the latter were ordered to search the village. Armed men entered dwelling-places, and property was dragged out and laid “at Mr. Bryce's feet.” (ib.)
While the pillage went on, one or other chief implored the woeful Maoris to “remember the advice of Te Whiti and Tohu, and to preserve the peace and maintain order.” (ib. p. 234.)
It was “truly pitiable to see the Maoris calmly and patiently looking on while their homes were being rifled” (ib.) . . “the feeling of sympathy for Te Whiti and his followers, which I mentioned in a previous telegram as having recently sprung up here, is extending, while Mr. Bryce is going proportionately down in the scale of popularity.” (ib. p. 236.) A telegram to the New Zealand Herald (6th November), said:—
“I saw Te Whiti this morning . . his influence seems to be felt by all who approach him, and the roughest men say, with curious unanimity, that he is a gentleman.”
On the 8th November, while Te Whiti was thus comporting himself in gaol, Mr. Justice Gillies, of the Supreme Court, was reported by a Press Association telegram to have said, in addressing a Grand Jury in the immediate neighbourhood (at Taranaki, i.e., New Plymouth) “that he would be wanting in his duty if he ignored the circumstances of the position of the district in which large bodies of armed men were assembled on active service, and he took leave to remind them of the constitutional principle that the employment of an armed force was only justifiable either under the authority of Parliament in repelling armed aggression, or in aid of the civil arm of the law, when that arm had proved powerless to enforce the law's mandates; in any other case the use of armed force was illegal, and a menace, if not an outrage, upon the liberties of the people.”¶
* ib. p. 217.
† ib. p. 218.
‡ ib. 218.
¶ This charge appeared at once in the New Zealand press. Judge Gillies' last remark (in the text) is quoted in the Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, p. 220.
Commenting on the Judge's dictum, the Lyttelton Times said, 10th November:—“The behaviour of the Maoris at Parihaka is the most striking feature of the story of the last few days. Such a feat of dignified, passive resistance has never been performed by a savage race. Such completeness of good temper under circumstances of great provocation has never been paralleled in history.” (Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, p. 219.)
The demeanour of the Maoris and the censure of a Judge worked no change upon the Government. Various neighbouring settlements were “ransacked” on the 9th November (ib. p. 237).
On the 11th November, “arresting operations were resumed . . under the immediate supervision of Mr. Bryce” (ib. p. 239), and the Blue Book (p. 240) contains the following official telegram:—
Letter from John Bryce to John Hall, November 11th, 1881“Bryce to Hall, November 11th, 1881.
“The danger of retaliation in the case of burning whares [dwellings] must have occurred to every one, because retaliation would be easy. I never intended to burn, although I have thought and think that it may be necessary to destroy every whare in the village if the Maoris hold out. It would be very difficult to distinguish between the whares of the different tribes. This is the so-called Waikato quarters, and the Wanganui quarters, but of the 350 huts in the village I could not have ten identified with certainty as belonging to any particular tribe. Then again we are told that the Wanganui, &c., should be ordered to their homes. Well, I have ordered them to their homes emphatically enough, and apparently I might as well called from the vasty deep [sic].
“Then as for their apprehension and selection into tribes, people seem to think that each one has the name of his tribe written on his forehead. To show the difficulty, I may mention that yesterday I wanted to arrest Taputepeora, a Ngaruaun [sic] chief of note, and there was not a man in camp could identify him. If there is difficulty in such a case as that, consider what it must be with the 2,000 men, and women, and children, who are nobodies.… I am pointing out these difficulties, not because I think them insuperable, but that you may be aware of them and consider them when you hear of my doing things which do not altogether recommend themselves to your mind. I may be forced into a choice of objectionable courses. Consider, here are 2,000 people sitting still, absolutely declining to give me any indication of where they belong to, or who they belong to, they will sit still where they are, and do nothing else.… If I take the whole lot prisoners, as Atkinson recommends, the operation per se will be difficult, and in that case the unfortunate result will happen that the whole of their personal properties, such as drays, ploughs, &c., cattle and so forth, will be lost to them. Moreover, it is extremely probable that wives would be separated from their husbands, children from parents, and so on. Notwithstanding these difficulties, this thing has to be settled, and I am confident I can do it if I am not stopped. That the manner in which I do it will be free from objections is more than I can promise, but I hope that you and my colleagues will put the page 115 most favourable construction on things. I send copy of this to Whitaker.”
On the 12th, he telegraphed to another colleague (ib. 241):—“I have great difficulty in selecting them, although I have the services of a half-caste belonging to the Alexander troop… Mete King, if he comes, may be able to assist in this. The question is between going with their property and going without, but go they must.”
Will any reader picture to himself the aspect of an English village, recognized as the most sober and industrious of its kind, dealt with in such a manner?
On the 13th (p. 247) “I shall to-morrow complete the apprehension of the Wanganui tribe, and begin marching them down to Wanganui. I do not propose, unless their own conduct compels me, to place these prisoners on their trial. I intend to send them to Wanganui with an escort… and to release them unless they intimate an intention of returning. In that case I shall, I suppose, indict them for a breach of the West Coast Act.”
On the 14th (ib.) he telegraphed:—”Probably we have made a few mistakes, but the number of these tribes now arrested is certainly over eighty. A great difficulty now remains, for it is impossible to identify women and children as we have done the men, and they, like the men, remain impassible. After the men had dinner, I directed Mr. Booth to tell the women to go and take their things out of the Wanganui quarters, as we were about to pull it down. [On the 11th it has been seen that the Native Minister admitted that he could not have identified ten out of 350 dwellings with certainty as belonging to any particular tribe.] They, however, made no sign. We have pulled down the whole of the Wanganui quarters, just removing the things belonging to the natives, and placing them in piles in front of each hut.… If the women go for the things as the Waikatos did, we may identify most of them by that means.… 1 suppose if I cannot get the women, I shall have to indict the men under the West Coast Act. I may add that I ascertained with considerable [!] certainty that the whole of the huts destroyed belonged to the Wanganuis.”
On November 15th (ib.) he telegraphed: “The Wanganui Maori women have not brought away the things from the whares we pulled down yesterday, and they evidently intend to prevent us from making them join their husbands. I am now going to see what can be done, but there is more difficulty in identifying women than men.”
On November 15th (ib. 248) he telegraphed that “I have succeeded beyond my expectations, by the aid of Utiko, in selecting the Wanganui women and children.… It was a curious scene. We brought out into rows about 650 women and three or four hundred children, and then proceeded to separate them, the Wanganuis being put one by one in a corner.” The writer of a telegram for the Press Association said (Nov. 14th), (ib. 249) “Mr. Bryce informed me that beyond about a dozen women who are known to belong to the Wanganuis, the others cannot be identified.”page 116
The same authority vouched, (ib. 251) on Nov. 16th, that, after arresting some Ngatiawa men, “attention was then directed to the women and children, and during the afternoon the whole tribe was placed in confinement. The number taken was 250 men, 109 women, and fifty children. Nine of the women, and between forty and fifty men were released this afternoon, as they had been taken in mistake. No resistance whatever was offered by the Maoris.… Several of the natives brought out from the pah refused to give their names. These were immediately handcuffed.… Unless the prisoners agree to select their property, it will, along with the whares, be destroyed by the Armed Constabulary, as Mr. Bryce is of opinion that on their release at Waitara they would immediately return to their property.”
The Lyttelton Times correspondent telegraphed on November 15th: (ib. 249) “The measures taken for turning away strange (i.e., supposed to be strange) Maoris are still being carried out. The process is strangely like drafting sheep. To-day the Wanganui ewes were culled.” Another telegram declared that “there was much discussion last night about the way in which sixty-two Maoris were mustered like sheep from the pahs near Parapara, and driven up to Parihaka that the Wanganui ewes might be culled out.”
On November 18th the special correspondent of the New Zealand Herald (a paper friendly to the ministry) telegraphed that he found at Parihaka “a mob of about 200 prisoners—men, women, and children … all being escorted to Opunake.…
It seems very doubtful whether Mr. Bryce knows who these people are, or where they really belong to. Some of the women cried, and had to be forcibly put in the drays.”
Force applied to women, weeping of mothers, and sobs of children scattered to all quarters of the compass! Are these events to be washed in Lethe and forgotten?
On the 15th (p. 250) we read in the Blue Book:—* “Mr. Bryce expects a difficulty in identifying the Natives who have come from districts between the Waikato and Mokau, no Europeans having visited these. However, he is determined to disperse them, and, if necessary, by force. Mr. Bryce mentioned that he was afraid the larger portion of the crops (principally potatoes) now under cultivation by the natives, would have to be destroyed. He gave it as his opinion that if this was carried out, there would be no attraction to Parihaka, and the alien tribes would thus be prevented from assembling there.”
* Press Association Telegram.
At page 254 we read (18th November) “The Maoris are being arrested indiscriminately in many instances, neither their names nor that of the tribes to which they belong, being known. To-morrow a novel experiment is to be tried with a view to identifying male prisoners. They are to be paraded close to Parihaka, in the anticipation that their wives and other female relatives will come out and speak to them. If I understand the arrangement aright the object is not only to identify the male prisoners, but to trap the women and children, and thus render their wholesale arrest more easy. It is due to the armed constabulary to say that in private conversation most of them express themselves thoroughly disgusted with the work they are called upon to perform… Parihaka presents a most melancholy appearance. A large portion of the village has been torn down, without the slightest regard as to whether the owners had committed any offence, and homeless Maoris may be seen searching among the ruins for such of their household goods as have not been ruthlessly destroyed or stolen.”
At page 256 the same correspondent describes the rifling of houses far distant from Parihaka. A chief Motu, the door of whose storehouse for food was broken open, complained bitterly. Sir Donald McLean, when Native Minister, had presented a Union Jack to him (in 1875) “in acknowledgment of his loyalty.” When the armed force had completed their work Motu invited the commanding officer into the house, and, seizing the Union Jack, threw it at the officer's feet, exclaiming angrily “you had better take that too!” “And this,” a said Motu, to the correspondent, “is the treatment I receive for my loyalty.”
At page 259 we read that “Tom Preston's” house was “broken open” (he being at work in his field), “and the axes applied to his boxes, and everything in the house was tossed about and smashed. Besides (guns, powder, &c.) he lost £5 4s. and two greenstone ornaments… He was very grieved, he declared that he had always been loyal to the core. He must give up the Government; he could follow them no longer. They might just as well burn his house over his head, and have done with it.”
George Kukapo was in like distress. Governor Gore Browne had presented a gun to him, to be kept as an heir-loom. “It was a reward for his valour, and he prized it. This had been taken from him and his whare damaged.”
The correspondent wrote sadly what he saw.
On the 18th November (Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, p. 261) the Native Minister telegraphed—“Have taken nearly 400 prisoners in all today… 1 am going to mark the empty whares (houses) to-night a mid-night for destruction.” (ib. p. 261).
On the 20th (ib.) “I intend to pull down a number of whares page 118 around the marae to-morrow, and shall put them into the marae so as to deprive it of its sacred character and break the magic spell.”
On the 21st November (ib. p. 262) he telegraphed to his colleague— (Mr. Rolleston) “Forty-seven more Maoris brought up from the fences, twenty resident, twenty-seven strangers; this makes total 2,200… Pulled down some whares this afternoon, amongst the rest the sacred medicine-house, where people had to take off their shoes before entering. It was a great job to get it demolished, as it was very substantially built.”*
Food was destroyed at Parihaka, and the subject was mentioned in the New Zealand Parliament by the Native Minister on 26th May, 1882, thus—(N.Z. Hansard, 1882, Vol. XLI., p. 116) “A great deal was said in the papers and elsewhere, about the pulling up of the Maori potatoes by the Constabulary. Now, Sir, if I had done what perhaps I ought to have done, I should have pulled up a great many more potatoes, so as to reduce the supply of food.… “
In the same session, a question having been asked as to the pulling down of some houses remaining at Parihaka, in April, 1882, the same functionary admitted (ib. p. 438) that his “orders were then carried out in respect to pulling down certain whares. About a dozen whares were pulled down… He was not aware whether Te Whiti's whare was one of those pulled down, but, if so, it was a very good thing for Mrs. Te Whiti, because the whare she resided in was one of the oldest, smallest and most unwholesome in the whole village.”
When these words were spoken Te Whiti, lawlessly rent from his home and imprisoned, was denied a trial; and despatches concerning him were kept from the public in England and in New Zealand, by concert of Lord Kimberley with the New Zealand Ministry!
On such events it would seem that some persons demand that history should be silent; but silence which might in some cases become a commendation of crime, would be a reproach to the historian. We have seen that (in the Native Minister's own language) the total number of peaceful Maoris “brought up,” and haled away, amidst wailing and weeping, was two thousand, two hundred.
That, bereft of their prophet, they should groan under the inflictions they endured was natural; but that they rigidly obeyed his mandate to abstain from resentment extorted wonder from friend and foe.
It was said that some persons were disappointed because the absence of resistance deprived the Government of the occasion of sweeping Te Whiti's followers from the earth.
* Their place of worship, built by common effort, was, of course, more substantial than the private houses of the Maoris. I know not how a historian could refrain from commenting upon its wanton destruction.
Having seen the Maoris scattered, it is necessary to observe the treatment of Te Whiti.
The charge of Judge Gillies on the 8th November to the Grand Jury at Taranaki already quoted, warned the public that the proceedings at Parihaka might be deemed “illegal and a menace to, if not an outrage upon, the liberties of the people.”
Nevertheless Te Whiti and Tohu were brought before the magistrates on the 12th November.
An information against them had been sworn to by an interpreter, who, when reminded by a magistrate of some expressions contained in the information, replied (Blue Book 1882, C. 3382, p. 243) “I cannot swear to expressions I did not hear… I was not aware that I was responsible for all that appeared in the information or I would not have sworn it.”
It was asserted by Te Whiti's persecutors that Te Whiti had refused to accept their arbitrary proffer of reserves of land. The proclamation promulgated so hastily at night by Prendergast after the conversations with Mr. Murray about the Governor's expected return, accused Te Whiti of having “repeatedly rejected proposals made with the hope of a settlement.”*
Tohu asked the interpreter if that functionary himself knew what was the proposed division of the land (ib. 244).
“Yes, I know it. “Did you tell us where it was?” “No.”
Mr. Parris (well known to readers of New Zealand history in the period preceding the unjust war at the Waitara in 1860) was on the bench, and questioned another interpreter, Carrington, thus:— (ib.)
“Were you not supplied with a plan showing the land that had been reserved for the natives, and were you not instructed to show the boundaries to the natives?”
“Mr. Parris. Remember you are on your oath.
“Mr. Carrington. I know that. You need not remind me of it.
“Mr. Parris. A plan was made out by Mr. Humphries, the chief surveyor, showing the reserves, and given to you.
“Mr. Carrington. I received a plan of the reserves, but it was given me for the purpose of finding what natives were cultivating portions of the land coloured on the plan,† and I did so. I did not understand that I was to point out the boundaries of the reserves to the natives, or I should have done so.
“Mr. Parris. Have the 25,000 acres ever been defined or pointed out?
“Mr. Carrington. Not that I know of.
* Blue Book 1882, C. 3382 p. 164.
† This statement proves that the Government were well aware that cultivation was going on upon the lands about to be seized.
“Mr. Parris. Were you not aware by the map that a portion of land seaward of Pungarehu was reserved for the natives?
“Mr. Carrington. I understood that without the map.
“Mr. Parris. And yet you never explained?
“Mr. Carrington. Certainly not.
“Mr. Parris. Well, I recollect giving you those instructions myself.*
“Mr. Carrington. I never was told to point out the boundaries to the natives. It was altogether out of my line.”
When Te Whiti was told that he might ask questions he exposed another of the methods by which the Government endeavoured to damage or entrap Te Whiti. Maori speech is enigmatic,—full of allusions to ancient proverbs,—and Te Whiti's was more mystical than that of many of his countrymen. Few Europeans have acquired such consummate knowledge of the Maori language as to be trusted in defining the meaning of the words they hear from a fluent orator
Many Europeans have a smattering of the language. It has been seen that there were often doubts as to the meaning of Te Whiti's orations, various reports of which were sent to the newspapers and to the Government.
He asked Carrington: “Did I not tell you not to write down what I said at the meeting because you did not understand me?” And Carrington replied: “I remember you telling me not to write down your speech.”
Whatever might be the evidence, the committal of the chiefs was looked upon as a foregone conclusion. Te Whiti briefly said that the Maoris had been cultivating their lands, that they had not raised food to cause a quarrel, but to procure the means of living; that it was not his wish that evil should come to either of the races: “my wish is for the whole of us to live happy on the land. I have never wished to do evil, or to kill any one up to the present time. My desire is for the whole of us to live happy on the land. Such is my desire, and such is the manner in which I have addressed the Maori people. I have no more to say.” The magistrate told him: “You are committed to the common gaol of New Plymouth, there to be safely kept until you shall be thence delivered by due course of law.”
* I find in a scrap book a leading article of the Lyttelton Times, November 16th, 1881, which says that Parris having been an agent for the Government in approaching Te Whiti, his conduct in going on the bench as “magistrate, prosecutor and unsworn witness for the prosecution” was such that he “ought to be struck off the roll of justices.”
“The error throughout was to ignore the Supreme Court, which Te Whiti evidently has wished all along to try his case. He knew that once before that court the whole question of confiscation must be raised, and that he conld if he wished, appeal against an adverse decision on points of law to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. He has tried by peaceful means to bring the question before the Supreme Court, and he has been persistently baffled by the perversity of the Government, who believe more in royal commissioners and big battalions than in high and independent courts of law. What hollow hypocrisy it must sound in Te Whiti's ears, to hear the ministerial parrot-cry of the rule of law, when resort to the highest and purest source of law and justice is studiously forbidden to him!… We were lately told by a contemporary… that about two thousand natives at Parihaka, though not arrested, tried, or convicted, were actually in prison and in the armed custody of Mr.… and his myrmidons. What law, we ask, has made Mr.… the controller of human liberties and lives? What right, human or divine, has he to imprison, break into houses, and to take away other men's goods?… There is one hope, that if Te Whiti… is tried in the Supreme Court, and is properly defended, his whole case may be thoroughly sifted, and an opportunity given for the vindication of law, in spite of Mr.… and Major Atkinson.”
The appeal of the Editor on behalf of the “noble qualities,” of Te Whiti failed to persuade the Ministry, for in the month of February, 1882, the New Zealand Herald reported the Native Minister as declaring to a great chief in the Waikato district—“I say that as the representative of the Government of the Colony, and as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen.”
Can it be deemed strange that some of Her Majesty's lieges failed to recognize in such language the accents of a beloved Queen? might not, to use Chief Justice Cockburn's words, an “honest indignation” be aroused in loyal breasts if they believed the report?
Before the time arrived for the trial of Te Whiti and Tohu, (which would, by “due course of law,” have taken place at Taranaki (i.e. New Plymouth) in May, 1882, before Judge Gillies) the Attorney General (who had become Premier on the retirement of Mr. Hall, in April,) had removed Te Whiti and Tohu from Taranaki to the Middle Island where their trial could not be brought on for some time; and the removal was commented upon by public men.
Mr. (now Sir) Robert Stout (who became in 1884 the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Attorney General) wrote that he believed “the removal was made for no other purpose than to stave off the trial till after the meeting of Parliament, to allow if necessary one of those disgraces to New Zealand legislation—a special Act—to be passed.”
The Lyttelton Times (19th April 1882) thought that the “new Parlia- page 122 ment will refuse to be a party to anything so thoroughly disgraceful;”— but Mr. Stouts' prophecy was correct.
When the Special Bill (which some persons called an Attainder Bill) was brought in, in May 1882, many members denounced it, and Mr. Hutchison said:—” It appears to me that when the Attorney General… obtained leave to change the venue from New Plymouth to Christchurch, he must have been cognizant of the fact that there was no intention to try Te Whiti and Tohu, and the Supreme Court was consequently made a mere machine to carry out the purposes of the Government. I am speaking now in the presence of gentlemen of the legal profession, and I venture to say that if the English Attorney General had done the same thing before any of the Courts of Judicature in England, he would have stood the chance of being struck off the rolls.*”
However, though Te Whiti and Tohu were not allowed to appear before Judge Gillies, other Maoris were arraigned at New Plymouth in May; and the Judge explained the law as to the nature of the raid upon Parihaka.
Among the Maoris arraigned, was Titokowaru. After his arrest the old chief was described in a newspaper, as “crouching hand-cuffed like a large dog in a low whare like a kennel. He is said to have refused food for a long time.”†
It was not said, but it may be inferred, that the old man groaned under this treatment.
On the following day, (21st November) two events happened which may have caused exultation in some minds.
The Native Minister “demolished” Te Whiti's “sacred” building and the Blue Book(1882. C. 3382. p. 260) informs us that “Titokowaru who has obstinately refused to accept any food during the last two days, gave in to day, and gladly accepted that offered him.
Dr. O'Carrol visited him this morning, and found him in tears, (Te Whiti had then been committed for trial.) . . he is still kept handcuffed, and in a separate whare from the other prisoners.”
On the 25th November, the old man was taken before the magistrates on a charge of using threats (some time before his seizure at Parihaka) but as a witness, called against him, said:—“He was only joking. Titokowaru had been offended by Europeans, and was chaffing in return” (ib. p. 264),—the magistrates (singularly in accordance with a newspaper prediction as to the ministerial intentions, ib. p. 260) ordered him “to find two sureties in £500 each,” . . and to be “kept in the common gaol” until he could find sureties.
This was deemed by some persons equivalent to permanent imprisonment, unless the Supreme Court should intervene.
* New Zealand Hansard. 1882. Vol. XLI., p. 120.
† New Zealand Herald.
On the 1st May, 1882, Titokowaru and Rangi were to be brought before Judge Gillies, and the Blue Book (p.p. 282, 283) informs us how they fared.
They were to be tried on “charges of obstruction,” under “the West Coast Settlements Act, 1880,” which made an offender of “any person who wilfully and unlawfully obstructs any person authorized by the Governor to do or perform any act or thing in pursuance of this Act, or for the purpose of carrying out the provisions thereof.” “In the present case” (the judge said) “the natives merely sat still, and did not go away when ordered to do so. This may, or may not according to the circumstances, amount to the crime of obstruction. It would at most be a passive obstruction, if there is proof that a person authorized by the Governor had ordered them to move. To make this act a crime it is necessary that the order to remove should be given by a person authorized by the Governor. It would not be sufficient for some Minister verbally to give such an authority. It must be the official act of the Governor, through a minister, authorizing some special person to do some particular act in pursuance of the provisions of the statute. So far as the depositions show, there appears to have been no special authority from the Governor to Mr. Hursthouse to do any special act or thing—merely a general verbal authority to disperse certain natives, given by a Minister… If this be so, then these natives have been taken into custody for disobeying the order of a person who had no authority from the Governor, though a Minister, to do any special act or thing under the provisions of this statute.… When the Government come into a court of law alleging their action to be legal, it must be shown that the provisions of the Act have been strictly complied with. You must say whether the accused, when sitting quietly, were committing an obstruction within the meaning of the Act, and whether, when told to go away, it was by a person authorized by the Governor. No Minister can personally, of his own mere will, authorize any person to do any act or thing for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act—it must be a formal and official authority. I commend this to your special attention, and again ask you to remember that you have nothing to do with the policy of the Government.… It may have been a right thing to do, to disperse the natives, and the Legislature may approve of all that has been done; but when, the matter comes before you, it is for you to say whether, in accordance with the provisions of this Act. the Governor authorized Mr. Hursthouse to do that act of dispersing the natives, and whether they by their inaction obstructed him in the performance of that duty, If you are satisfied that he was duly authorized, and that he was obstructed, you will bring in a true bill; but, on the other hand, should you find that he had no authority, it will be your duty to find no bill.”
The Grand Jury found true Bills, and the Judge was publicly railed at in newspapers for his Charge.
But there must have been a foregone conclusion that he was right in law, and would be upright in doing his duty.page 124
Failing to produce the needed authority the Ministry ordered the Crown Prosecutor to take such steps as would elude a decision, and a nolle prosequi was entered.
On the 8th May, Judge Gillies said from the Bench, (Blue Book, p. 283) “I understand the Attorney General (Whitaker, the Premier) has ordered the Crown Prosecutor to enter a nolle prosequi in the two native cases under the West Coast Settlements Act. I have no right to interfere in the matter in any way, except to express my surprise at such a course being taken. That prisoners should be brought up on a serious charge under a special Act, that they should be kept in prison for six months on that grave charge, and that the Crown Prosecutor should then apply to enter a nolle prosequi, seems a very extraordinary proceeding on the part of the Government, more especially when I see that two of the indictments have been quashed on account of insufficiency in the face of them.” (Then, addressing Rangi, he said) “The Government have determined not to bring you to be tried on the charge. You have already been in prison six months, waiting for trial, nor does the Government offer any evidence. You are therefore free to go where you will.”† The native did not seem to understand the situation, but left the box.”
The situation was not easy for any one to understand without careful watching. But by collating various reports at the time, it was possible to comprehend why it was that Lord Kimberley in England, and the Ministry in New Zealand, strove to withhold from the public the despatches which would have enabled it to “understand the situation.”
These declarations from the Bench came under my notice at the time, as reported in newspapers.
Perhaps it may be well at this point to quote briefly from Sir Arthur Gordon's Despatches concerning the devastation of Parihaka.
On the 8th November, he asked the ministry to explain an insinuation in one of their memoranda, to the effect that Te Whiti expected the Imperial Government to “interfere in his favour.”
* When asked in Court, in England, in 1886, “Were any of the proceedings which Mr. Bryce was instructed to take at Parihaka, authorized by the Governor?” The most explicit answer that could be obtained from Sir John Hall, (who was the head of the Ministry during the raid upon Parihaka) was—“I say I decline to answer it, yes or no,” He could not of course answer effectively, unless he could have said that there had been such an “official act of the Governor.” as Judge Gillies had declared essential. By declining to answer, he at least invited the conclusion that the requisite authority never existed.
† When sending to the Secretary of State these extracts from the Judge's observations, the Governor wrote that “his Honour informs me” that the report of his remarks “is substantially correct.” (Blue Book. 1882. C. 3382, p. 282.)
Such floundering excuses only proved the hopelessness of the ministry in defending their acts.
* Roughly the lands might thus be alluded to: but Sir A. Gordon had in his long-suppressed Despatch of 26th February 1881, quoted Sir F. Dillon Bell's clear declaration, that it “was untrue to say” that the land had “been confiscated. It never had been confiscated.” Sir D. Bell's speech is quoted, supra, at page 88.
† Such an Act was passed in 1882. The above passage was not printed in italics in the Blue Book, but is worthy of them.
This Despatch was received by Lord Kimberley, on the 14th January, 1882, but, true to his undertaking to “delay publication if possible,” the noble Lord kept it back from Parliament and the public.
“What (wrote Mr. Stout, 5th December, 1881) will the impartial future historian record against us as a race?”
What, the historian may add, may be the measure of hatred inspired in wrong doers by exposure of their deeds?
Soon after the discharge of Titokowaru and Rangi by Judge Gillies, the New Zealand Parliament assembled on the 18th May, 1882.
No despatches were produced with regard to the destruction of Parihaka: but the vice-regal speech proved that the worst suspicions were justified as to the intentions of the Ministry who, it was announced would produce a Bill “to render the trial of Te Whiti and Tohu unnecessary, and at the same time to prevent them from returning for the present to Parihaka.”
The speech made no allusion to an Indemnity Bill, but after a few days the Ministry introduced one simultaneously with a Bill enabling them to keep Te Whiti and Tohu in prison, at a Minister's pleasure, without trial. This latter, though really a Bill of Attainder, was called a West Coast Peace Preservation Bill.
Both Bills were passed in the Lower House on June 9th, 1882; and, incredible as it may seem, it is shown by the New Zealand Hansard that even then information had been kept back from the House.
To the very last, the policy of the Ministry, if the commission of acts of violence and their concealment from public scrutiny can be dignified with the name of policy, seems to have been to prevent judicial or constitutional inquiry until it was too late to arrest wrong-doing.
On May 26th the Native Minister moved the second reading of the Attainder Bill.
On May 30th, May 31st, June 2nd, and June 9th, that Bill was discussed in the Lower House, and, together with a sweeping Indemnity Bill, was passed. The English Blue Books show that during the above period the question of producing information on the subject was deliberated upon by the Governor and his advisers. (1883. C. 3689. p.p. 59,60).
On May 31st they advised him to communicate “a portion” of the papers on West Coast Native affairs to both Houses; i.e., Sir A. Gordon's Report of February 26th, 1881, so long suppressed by Lord Kimberley in England, and by the New Zealand Government.
* At the risk of being thought iterative I must call attention to the fact that this despatch was received in Downing Street on January 14th, 1882, and was (faithlessly to the public, but) with sinister faithfulness to Mr. Hall and his colleagues, withheld from Parliament, and was only extorted from Lord Kimberley after his predecessor as Colonial Secretary, Sir M. Hicks-Beach, had called for its production. The date of its receipt is printed at the commencement (vide C. 3382, 1882, p. 265).
On June 8th, 1882, (by which time it must have been clear that the Lower House was ready to work the will of the Ministry without obtaining information) the Ministry withdrew their advice that papers should be produced. The Governor declined (8th June) to recall his order already given for the publication of his Report (of February 26th, 1881) to the Colonial Office, but yielded to the advice that other despatches should be kept back—notably his two despatches (both dated December 3rd, 1881), apprising Lord Kimberley of the raid upon Parihaka. (Blue Book, 1882, C. 3382, pp. 223, 265.)
In his memorandum of June 8th, the Governor observed “that there are few legislative bodies which before granting indemnity for past transactions, and adopting measures to restrict the liberty of particular individuals, would not have demanded full explanation;” and “probably few Governments which would not have hastened to anticipate such a demand by placing before Parliament the materials on which to form a judgment as to their conduct.” (Blue Book, 1883. C. 3689. p. 60).
It appears from remarks made in the Upper House on June 14th, by Sir G. Whitmore, that the Governor's old despatch of February 26th, 1881, was only laid upon the table on June 13th, 1882;* and from remarks of Mr. Mantell,† on June 14th, that even then no information was vouchsafed, of a later date than July, 1881, as to communications between the Governor and the Secretary of State on the West Coast affairs. Yet, though the Indemnity Bill and the Attainder Bill were before the Council, the Premier (Whitaker, Attorney-General), when Mr. Mantell moved for more papers, opposed the motion on the ground that, “Already there have been laid on the table all the despatches, both from and to the Governor, which the Government consider at the present time can be laid upon the table without inconvenience.… Now I declare that it would be inconvenient for the public service that any further despatches should be produced at the present time.‡…”
Thus adjured, the Council rejected Mr. Mantell's motion, and it is difficult to determine when the documents concerning the raid upon Parihaka would have been published, had it not been for the intervention of Sir M. Hicks-Beach, in England, in July, 1882.
The struggles of the New Zealand Ministers to conceal them in New Zealand, even when demanding an Act of Indemnity for what they had done, showed great hardihood, and it has been seen that Lord Kimberley had, by special request, pledged himself to delay publication “if possible,” in England.
It must not be supposed that no protests were made in the New Zealand Parliament against the deeds done at Parihaka, and against their condonation procured by measures styled—but unworthy of the august name of—law.
* New Z. Hansard, 1882, Vol. XLI. p. 429
† ib. p. 428.
‡ ib. p. 429.
Te Wheoro saw “no reason why the Government should have proceeded to Parihaka and broken down the native whares and rooted up their crops. I see that the Government intend to bring down a Bill to indemnify their action in having imprisoned Te Whiti and Tohu. If Te Whiti and Tohu have not been arrested legally, why not release them at once? Why should you bring down a Bill to indemnify the action of the Government for having so arrested them?”
On May 26th, without producing papers, the Native Minister moved the second reading of the Bill for attainder of Te Whiti and Tohu, under the name of a “West Coast Peace Preservation Act, 1882.”
As introduced it enabled any justice of the peace to order any assembled “Maoris exceeding twenty in number” “to disperse;” on their failing to disperse, they were to be “deemed guilty of an offence;” any justice of the peace might sentence such offenders to “all or any of the punishments following:” a fine not exceeding 50l.; imprisonment with or without hard labour not exceeding twelve months; the finding of sufficient sureties for “good behaviour.”
The Bill applied to the whole district between the White Cliffs and the Waitotara river, and therefore to the whole of Te Whiti's ravished lands and the Waimate Plains.
The number twenty was afterwards raised to fifty, in compliance with suggestions in the House.
On moving the second reading of the Bill, the Native Minister made the usual complaint of the wolf against the lamb, and ventured to assert that the Maoris began the war on the West Coast in 1860.
It has been shown in a previous page (20) that this assertion is at variance with the testimony of an eye-witness, Colonel Carey,* whose word could not be doubted, and who confuted the erroneous statements made in the local papers in 1860, and repeated by ignorant persons.
Without presenting any papers to the House on the subject, the Native Minister after a long statement “to justify the policy of the Government on the West Coast,” added, “Te Whiti and Tohu are now arraigned on a charge of sedition. As I am advised that charge could be sustained; but it might not be; I do not know what a jury might do … I have not, I hope, said one word by way of apology; at any rate, I did not mean to say one word.”††
* Colonel Carey's book on the war was published in London, 1863, Bentley.
† This and subsequent quotations from the debate on the Bill, are taken from the New Zealand Hansard. 1882. Vol. XLI.
Mr. Hutchison was “not at all astonished at any statement made by the Native Minister,” but in his long statement there was nothing “to prove that any single overt act took place which was likely to lead to serioas riot. … It would require a very imaginative mind to make sedition out of the words he read to us. But suppose the words were used, who heard them used? The only evidence we have is the evidence of certain native interpreters, and I take it that the reports of these native interpreters, for the last few years, have been made to order. … I enter my protest against this wrong being perpetrated against these Maoris, because it reverses every rule of generosity by which the strong should be guided in dealing with the weak. With the gloomy reflection that must come across the minds of many members of this House in dealing with a question of this kind, there is one ray of comfort, and that is the illustration which this native question gives us of the power of mind over matter. Here is Te Whiti, a man without a particle of literary culture or historical knowledge, and yet by the sheer force of his intellect and tenacity of purpose, by his honesty and purity, he is able not only to defy, but to a large extent to defeat' the Native Minister and the brute force which was brought to bear against him. I say defeat the Native Minister, because this Bill, bristling as it does with injustice from the preamble to the close, is an insult to every sentiment of freedom in which English men have been cradled. The very fact of its being brought in is a confession of weakness.… The Native Minister has no particular liking for the Maoris; but the midnight proclamation, and the hurrying to and fro in hot haste to get up certain arrangements before His Excellency the Governor could reach these shores—all these things were very curious.… Standing here as a representative, and speaking under a sense of responsibility, I express it as my conviction that the driving of the natives from Parihaka, the demolition of their whares, and the wanton destruction of their crops-minimized as this last has been by the Native Minister–amount to a gross outrage, to a cruel and arbitrary outrage upon justice. It is now confessed that it has been done against law.… There was no legal sanction for the eviction of those people, and it is now found necessary to introduce an Indemnity Bill. It was a cruel and arbitrary outrage upon justice and humanity; and not only so, but the officer who planned the whole procedure presided at it, and evidently liked his work… If I remember aright, he made a very great speech at Wanganui, when he was feted after his victory at Parihaka, and he said—I am only quoting from memory—that if a single shot had been fired, the time for for- page 130 bearance would have been past. Well, what does that mean? This pah was crowded with women and children.… Now I venture to say—of course I shall be contradicted again—there was not very much bravery or skill required to go in among a large number of unarmed men, women, and children, when it was perfectly well known there would not be a shadow of disturbance. It was perfectly well known that there would be no risk.… From Manaia all the way to Parihaka every native house, friendly and unfriendly alike, was searched:… the first individual whose boxes were broken open was the friendly chief who gives the name to that township (Manaia). His boxes were broken open, the contents were scattered about, his money was thrown on the floor, and then they left. The whole thing was a raid of a most illegal and improper character… The whole business of this Parihaka raid, got up with all this parade and bravado, has been a sham from beginning to end.”
Mr. De Lautour, after demonstrating that “a fraud” had been practised against the Home Government as to alleged confiscation, and that Prendergast's proclamation of October 19th, 1881, presumed to annul all promises made to the West Coast natives “for the past fifteen years,” said: “It is no wonder, indeed, that Te Whiti is not brought to trial, for the Government are afraid to leave the issue to our Courts. I say it is true, and the Commissioners (Sir W. Fox and Sir F. Dillon Bell) say the same, that Te Whiti was actuated by the hope of inducing some Government, he did not care which, to face the position, and share the blanket, as he called it, with him and his people. … Then came our Act authorizing arrest and detention without trial; and so sure as day follows night, so soon as we began that policy of wrong, retribution followed. Step by step in this quagmire of wrong-doing we are getting deeper and deeper, and now think by incarcerating two people in a gaol at Christchurch, that we can appease these people without cost, and wait till they die out, and so, in our greed for land, can obtain these lands ourselves. … I say, sir, that as the Legislature of this country we shall suffer shame, and stain our history, if we do any such thing without the fullest inquiry.… The details are legion.… We have gone on in a long course of wrong-doing; on every page of these Reports (Fox and Bell's) that is apparent.”
Mr. Bathgate declared that the Bill was “altogether an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject. … I protest against the general principle of special Acts being passed to meet individual cases.”
Tawhai demanded to know why “the Bill should be passed in order that Te Whiti may not be tried.… If he is not to be tried now, why was he taken prisoner and confined in gaol? I think this Bill is not framed that Te Whiti may not be tried, but is brought forward to cover the fault of the Government. … I think the Government of New Zealand have acted illegally. They should have acted according to law; but in this case they have acted apart from the law, and have now come to make their actions legal. If Te Whiti had been of the page 131 English race you would soon have found out a means to get the Government into trouble, but as he is a native you act in quite a different manner.”
Mr. Moss said “Nothing could be more unfair than the way in which the bench was filled [at Taranaki, at the committal of Te Whiti and Tohu]. I suppose it would be unparliamentary to say packed, yet that would be most decidedly the proper word. There it was distinctly proved, in spite of all the efforts to the contrary—I should like the House to bear this in mind—that up to that moment when Te Whiti stood in the Resident Magistrate's Court at Taranaki, the reserves intended to be made had naver been pointed out. … I think for their own honour the Government should seek inquiry by a trial.”
Mr. Montgomery considered “Te Whiti a man of great intellect, immeuse brain power, of a highly poetic temperament, a born orator, as pure and honest as any man in this colony, and without a flaw in his moral character,—a man who has used all his gifts and powers to do what he could to benefit his race. … I think Te Whiti ought to be tried.… What I find fault with is, that the Native Minister ran that road through native cultivations, where there was wheat growing, and other crops, and any number of cattle roaming about outside the fences. … “Think of the precedent we are establishing; and I ask where will be the liberty of the subject if we pass a law like this?”
Major Te Wheoro—he who had adhered to the Queen through evil report and good report, a chief of high lineage, a soldier repeatedly thanked by English generals—declared that Te Whiti ought to be tried by law.
For trifling offences men were entitled to trial. But this is a “far more serious matter. The Government have also brought forward an Indemnity Bill, freeing them from any wrongs they have done at Parihaka, which means that the House should say that those actions taken at Parihaka were not wrong. It is therefore clear that the steps taken there were excessive, and that this Bill is brought forward to justify them.
… “These thousands of troops were sent up there under arms, amidst the weak and unoffending women and children.… The troops then burnt their houses and rooted up their crops. When Te Whiti and Tohu were being arrested, they told the natives they were leaving behind to remain in peace during their absence, and not make any disturbance. The natives have obeyed. … I think Te Whiti is the best friend of the Government, although he is called a fanatic. He has told his people not to take up arms, but to leave wrath in the hands of God. If Te Whiti had told them they were to slay they would have slain… The Government should be careful to act rightly, for the Treaty of Waitangi stated that they should protect the natives, and act fairly towards them. But the Government have not done so. … I know that they are strong enough to carry this measure, but I will vote against it.”page 132
One of the friends of the ministry, Captain Mackenzie, bluntly described the position thus:—“I think we must all admit that if the foundation of a building is laid in injustice, that building will have to stand for all time upon a basis of injustice. I think the acquisition of land by the European population in this country has been in a great measure based on injustice; but, notwithstanding that, I say it is now impossible for us to hark back. The talk of justice and law now is, in my opinion, simple bunkum. I do not see what advantage is to be gained by such talk. It simply takes up our time to no purpose.”
If such were the arguments by which the Ministry was aided, can it be denied that in the page of history a balance of a different kind should be struck?
Mr. Holmes demanded that before the passing of the Bill the proclamation of October 19th, 1881 (Prendergast's), should be withdrawn. “That proclamation… remains in force a standing disgrace and shame to the Government; … we must have an assurance that that proclamation is withdrawn, not a mere promise but a Bill… before we pass the measure under discussion. Until that is done no honourable member will do well by his conscience, or act according to law, to truth, or to justice, if he supports a Bill which seeks to punish those whom the Government call wrong-doers, but to whom I say justice has not been, but should be, done—namely, Te Whiti and his Maoris. … I say that if you honourable members of this House pass this Bill before the proclamation is withdrawn, then you put into the hands of the Government a means of plundering Te Whiti and his people.”
[Such a consummation as Mr. Holmes reprobated being what some persons desired, one of them immediately cried out, “Hear, hear,” and the sincerity of his applause of plundering was confirmed by a subsequent speech in favour of the Bill.]
Mr. Holmes proceeded to argue against the New Zealand Settlements Act of 1863, under which the alleged confiscation of the West Coast district had been made in 1865, and of which he said, “So gross an injustice, so iniquitous a measure would never be passed by any Legislature unaffected by utter fear.” (N. Z. Hansard, Vol. XLI. p. 184).
Mr. Steward, in supporting the Bill, was “sorry to say, and I say it with shame as a colonist of New Zealand and a member of this House, that in years past we have accumulated great store of broken promises, and we are now suffering the punishment which necessarily follows from the breaking of faith …. during a long series of years we have committed faults, and have done worse than committed faults—we have blundered in the grossest manner possible. We have blundered, and perhaps in times past we have plundered also. … I think it has been clearly shown to the House that Te Whiti is a remarkable man, a man almost sui generis. It has been shown that he is a man who wields a very extraordinary influence over the Maori mind. It has been shown that he is a man against whose page 133 personal character there is nothing to allege. It has also being shown that for years he has kept peace among his people.”
On June 1st, Mr. Macandrew presented a petition from an eminent chief, Wi Parata, “on behalf of Te Whiti;” but on June 2nd the House, at the instigation of the Native Minister refused to allow Mr. Macandrew to found a motion upon the petition.
The Native Minister declared that Mr. Macandrew's proposed motion was “really and actually an amendment” (on his Attainder Bill), and the Government would “not accept any amendment whatever on the second reading of the Bill, whether it is technical or virtual.”
Thus, declining to allow information to be put before the House (as has been shown from the English Blue Book, 1883, C. 3689, p. 60), the Ministry prevented a debate which might have afforded information from other sources. (N. Z. Hansard, 1882, Vol. XLI. p. 254.)
On June 2nd, Tomoana resumed the debate on the Bill, and asked that “Te Whiti be brought to the bar of the House, and let us hear what he has to say about himself.”
* But “homes” at Parihaka had already been demolished.
Mr. Bracken asked the House to accede to Wi Parata's request, “That the person who is charged with such heinous crimes may be brought here, and be allowed to speak for himself. We do not want to hear only a one-sided statement. There was a time in the history of New Zealand when the Maoris, if they had chosen, could with one swoop have swept the European race from this island.* That time was the time of the Treaty of Waitangi. What did they do then? You call them savages, barbarians; but they treated us in a way that should make us blush for our conduct to them, which makes me blush, and should bring a blush to the cheeks of men who are bent upon perpetrating this wrong to a conquered race. I feel very strongly on this matter, and I appeal once more to the sense of justice of the honourable gentlemen on those benches to accede to this little request, and not allow the finger of scorn to point for all time at this honourable House, and this adopted country of our race.”
Colonel Trimble, though he supported the Bill, said that he knew Te Whiti, and agreed “with everything that has been said in regard to the moral and intellectual qualities of Te Whiti;” whatever might be the purity of a member who had spoken, “I have not the slightest doubt that Te Whiti is just as good as he is, or as any man in this House, and in intellectual qualifications I believe that he exceeds a very large proportion of the gentlemen in this House.”
But Colonel Trimble would vote for the Bill to outlaw Te Whiti. “I have heard a great deal” (he continued) “about Magna Charta and and the Bill of Rights, and all that. That may be very good; but Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights imply something more than mere privilege—they imply duty also. I say the same about this Treaty of Waitangi, which I hope will in future be relegated to the waste-paper basket, which is about the only place it ought to be seen in.”
Tawhai aptly demanded : “Was the capture of Te Whiti treating him like a subject of Her Majesty? I do not think that the Government have acted up to this particular provision of the treaty—that the same privileges will be conferred upon the natives as those conferred upon British subjects. Is it fair that the wrong should be committed first and legalized afterwards?”
The Government rejected a suggestion that the deceptive words in the preamble—i.e., “that the said Te Whiti and Tohu held language calculated to promote disaffection, and which on several occasions led to breaches of the law”—should be struck out.
* Vide supra, p. 91. where Sir William Fitzherbert declared that (not only in 1840, when the Treaty of Waitangi was made, but afterwards) in 1860, during the unjust Waitara war, the same “unparalleled forbearance” was shown by the Maoris.
The Native Minister also defended the contemplated reduction of the reserve at Parihaka. The Commissioners (Sir W. Fox and Sir F. D. Bell) had recommended a reserve of 25,000 acres there. Te Whiti had elicited before the justices at New Plymouth the fact that when Mr. Hall's government surrounded the peaceful villagers at Parihaka with an armed force, no information of the intended reserve had been made to the Maoris; and the Native Minister urged in the House that “to have told the Parihaka natives that the proclamation [Prendergast's] was an idle threat, would have had a very bad effect indeed.”
“It is not,” he said, “the intention of the Government to allow a Bill to be passed in this House which shall give to these Maoris those reserves whether they behave themselves or not.”
Te Wheoro made one more effort to offer a hearing to Te Whiti, but was defeated by forty-three votes against twenty-two, and Mr. Turnbull indignantly told the House: “I never felt in a more humiliating position than at the present moment—to think that among a body of Englishmen such a thing could possibly occur as actually to deny these men the assistance they require. … A greater disgrace was never perpetrated upon the people of New Zealand than at this moment, bringing all yonr brute force to bear upon them, and denying them that justice which is their right. I regret to say that never before in my life did I feel so much ashamed of an Act of the Legislature as now.”
If such was the language of a legislator in New Zealand, could any just historian treat it with indifference?
The Government had no difficulty in passing their Indemnity Bill.
Mr. Montgomery and Te Wheoro suggested that it ought to contain provisions for compensating the natives whose property had been destroyed at Parihaka, but the Native Minister said “it would be impossible to insert such a provision in a Bill of this nature,” and he “thought the Government had not done wrong.”
There were, of course, many differences of opinion, and there was very general ignorance in men's minds even in New Zealand, as to the conduct of the Government.
The Native Minister appears to have seen nothing wrong in it.
Some persons admitted it was wrong, and yet supported it. Many neither knew nor enquired what was done.*
I say nothing here about any one who conscientiously believed that what was done at Parihaka was right.
* In a work published in 1883, I was careful to acquit the colonists of active complicity. I wrote (p. 107;) “The cumbering Maoris were to be destroyed. The bulk of the colonists had no such desires, but their humanity did not assume the form of controlling the inhumanity of others,” Ib. p. 460; “It may be that a wider revelation of the wrongs done in the name, but not by command of the Queen, may tend to lighten the oppression which has so long been inflicted upon a race which reposed its trust in her,” Not only in New Zealand but throughout Australasia, it may safely be declared that in proportion to its amount, the population has no superiors elsewhere. But in all countries, things are done which it cannot be said that the public conscience approves of: and exposure is the only process wich can be resorted to, to prevent their recurrence.
But amongst the supporters of the Government, if not among its own members, there were some who admitted the wrong doing, and nevertheless abetted it. To any of them I would quote words used by Mr. Justice Lopes in an English Court in 1885:-” I cannot forget that you are an educated man and should have known that the law cannot be broken to promote any good or supposed good, and that the sanctity of private life cannot be invaded for the furtherance of views of an individual, who, I am inclined to believe, thinks that the end sanctifies the means.”†
The Indemnity Bill, like the Attainder Bill began with a glaring mis-statement.
“Whereas large numbers of aboriginal natives frequently assembled at Parihaka, in the provincial district of Taranaki, and thereby produced undue excitement, breaches of the law, and disturbance of the public peace; and whereas with the object of preventing such meetings and preserving the peace, certain measures were adopted by the Government of New Zealand, and carried out under their authority, some of which measures may have been in excess of legal powers, and it is expedient that the persons acting therein should be indemnified. Be it therefore enacted…. Every person whosoever who shall at any time before the passing of this Act have acted under the authority of the Government of New Zealand given either before or after any act, matter, or thing done … or committing to prison of any person doing or being concerned in, or suspected of doing or being concerned in any of the acts, matters, or things following… (1) … (2) committing any of the offences specified in the West Coast Settlement (North Island) Act, 1880. (3) Assembling or holding meetings at Parihaka, in the provincial district of Taranaki … (4) attending any such meeting, and refusing or neglecting to disperse, &c, (5)… and any person who shall have damaged or destroyed any real or personal property, or searched for, seized, or taken possession of … shall be and is hereby freed, acquitted, released, indemnified… against all actions, suits.… prosecutions, liabilities, and proceedings, whatsoever.” To prevent doubt, the Governor was enabled by a special clause “to declare any act, matter, or thing done, to come within the provisions of this Act,” and all courts were to take judicial cognizance of such declaration.
In the Upper House the Attorney-General did not scruple to say that “the Government felt that if Te Whiti and Tohu were tried and convicted reasonably the sentence would be a short one, and that if they were acquitted they would return to Parihaka. … In removing the trial from New Plymouth to Christchurch, one of the objects of the Government was to put off the trial until after the meeting of the General Assembly.”
Thus the delay of justice, and its final denial, were attributed, not to any legal obstacles, but to the policy of the Government.
† Times 11th. Nov., 1885.
Mr. Whitaker's statements are not dwelt upon in these pages in order to emphasize his responsibility for deeds done at Parihaka. His share of them appears in history. His words are only quoted here because they prove that what was done at Parihaka was acknowledged to be the policy of the Government, of which the Native Minister was the head and front with regard to native affairs. The Blue Books and the debates on the Bill for denying a trial to Te Whiti and Tohu, and for keeping them in prison without trial, even though the Government had suppressed all official information, established these facts : viz., that armed men were marched into a peaceful district: that everything was done to goad the Maoris to violence; that their lands were seized in defiance of the Governor's proclamations and Donald Mc'Leans guarantee that they might retain them in peace: that roads were taken through their cultivations; that the Maoris were imprisoned for cultivating; that they were never told what reserves were intended to be allotted to them, out of their hereditary lands thus ravished from them; that their peaceful chiefs were arrested while sitting quietly and preaching patience in their village; that women and children were deported, and families were separated with violence; that their dwellings were pillaged; that many of their houses were destroyed; that their crops were rooted up; that the Government dared not allow Te Whiti and Tohu to be tried in any court; that under pretence of changing the venue of trial the Government moved them to a distant place, in order that time might elapse and a special Act might be passed to defraud them of any trial at all; and that, by an arrangement with Lord Kimberley, official information was suppressed in England simultaneously with its suppression in New Zealand until the New Zealand Government had passed a special Act to enable the Government to hold arbitrarily in prison the chiefs to whom they denied a trial.
The student of history may see a remarkable difference between the fate of this Indemnity Bill, and that of a similar Bill in 1866.
In 1865 a bill “for indemnifying persons acting in the native insurrection,” was sent to England, and Mr. (now Sir) E. Stafford, the Premier, sent with it a minute, stating that proceedings, commenced and threatened against persons, military and civil, necessitated the passing of the Act.
The Ministry in England did not at once advise the allowance or disallowance of the measure. There were two years within which such power might be exercised by the Crown. The Stafford Ministry passed a second Indemnity Bill in 1866.
The Secretary of State announced, in May, 1867, that the Bill of 1865 would be allowed, but that of 1866 would be disallowed:— “First, that it was so worded as to indemnify not only civil and military page 138 authorities and persons acting under them, or under the authority of the Government, but all and every other person and persons whomsoever who shall have done, or ordered, or directed any matter or thing to be done, &c. Secondly, that owing to the disjunctive form in which the 2nd and 3rd sections are drawn, the destruction of the property of a person suspected to be concerned in the insurrection would be covered by the Indemnity given by the Act, even though such destruction may have been wanton and reckless, and not inflicted or ordered in or about the suppressing or quelling of the insurrection. Thus if a private individual acting under no authority has wantonly or recklessly destroyed or ordered the destruction of the property of those whom he may have chosen to suspect… he would be protected under the terms of this Act, though such destruction in no way directly or indirectly tended to quell the insurrection, and though the person whose property was destroyed should have proved that he was in no way directly or indirectly concerned in it.”*
Thus did a Secretary of State write, when the late Lord Derby was Prime Minister in England:— he who had in 1843, informed the New Zealand Company that “as long as he has the honour of serving the Crown, he will not admit that any person, or any government acting in the name of Her Majesty can contract a legal, moral or honorary obligation to despoil others of their lawful and equitable rights.”
The Bill of 1866, had morever been preceded by war—unjust no doubt, but still war—, which was erroneously styled an insurrection.
In 1881, there was neither war, nor insurrection. Te Whiti asked for nothing more than to be let alone on his native lands, the possession of which had been guaranteed to him by Proclamations, and by solemn pledges of the government through a long series of years. All that the Maori members of Parliament asked for was that the Supreme Court should be appealed to, as to titles on the West Coast.
The attack upon Te Whiti was wanton; and a Judge of the Supreme Court had, almost in terms, declared it unlawful, inasmuch as it was not preceded by the “official act of the Governor” which could alone justify any subordinate in doing the things which were done at Parihaka.
But in 1883, Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister in England. It was true that he had said in Parliament (9th Feb. 1848) “as far as England was concerned there was not a more strictly and rigorously binding treaty in existence than that of Waitangi.” But there is hardly anything which Mr. Gladstone has said at one time, which he has not contradicted at another. His colleague, Lord Kimberley, had undertaken in 1881, to “delay publication if possible,” of papers already promised to Parliament, about Te Whiti, and Parliament with or without consciousness of wrong, had submitted.
* Whether governments usually consult their law officers with regard to Indemnity Bills, I cannot say. The Attorney General in Lord Derby's ministry in 1867, was Sir John Rolt. The Attorney General in Mr. Gladstone's ministry in 1882, was Sir Henry James.
The Indemnity Bill of 1882 was allowed to become law, without objection.
Yet it sinned against all those reasons for which the Bill of 1866 was disallowed; and all the unjust acts which it condoned were wantonly done in the invasion and desolation of a peaceful village.
In the Upper House, the Indemnity Bill was passed without difficulty, but more than one member objected to the allegations in the preamble to the Bill for denying a trial to Te Whiti and Tohu, and Mr. Mantell complained that “we have no information whatever laid on the table by the Government of what action was taken from October 19th, 1881, to April 17th, 1882, under the West Coast Settlements Act of last session. Now, it has been customary in former times to lay on the table telegrams, despatches, and reports from officers of any exciting events that occur; but during this recess nothing appears to have reached the Government which they thought worth laying on the table.” (N. Z. Hansard, 1882. Vol. XLI p. 563.)
Mr. Buckley, a lawyer, asked the members “not to disgrace the Legislature by allowing themselves to pass, without a solemn protest, an Act for punishing people who cannot be punished by the present law.”
Dr. Pollen, though he would vote for the Bill, said he did “not believe that to kidnap political opponents and shut them up was the best way to bring them to their right mind.”
The Bill was passed by a large majority, although Sir G. Whitmore, among others, rebuked the glaring statements of the preamble.
Mr. Mantell recorded a formal protest against the Bill, “because it appears to me inconvenient, if constitutional, to pass a measure so seriously affecting the liberties of any of Her Majesty's subjects without full and complete evidence of its necessity and justice; and because from the refusal or omission of the Government to place before this Council any official reports of those recent occurrences on the West Coast, which are alleged to require such legislation, it can only be inferred that those occurrences have not been of a nature to justify such severe provisions as are contained in this Bill.”
Captain Fraser also recorded his protest against the Bill—
As ultra vires of the General Assemby of New Zealand, inasmuch as it is repugnant to the English statute law, and deprives British subjects of the privileges granted them by the Habeas Corpus Acts.
It declares men guilty of sedition without trial, and without any evidence of their guilt produced before the Parliament.
It declares men guilty who have not been allowed to be heard in their defence before Parliament.
It will tend to create disaffection amongst the Maoris, and foment bitterness and strife amongst the colonists.
It is punishing Maoris, who, if guilty, would be punished by the judicial tribunals of the colony.
Prendergast was again administrator of the Government when these protests were transmitted to England on June 28th, 1882, and he slightingly told Lord Kimberley—“Ministers to whom I have communicated these protests before forwarding them to your lordship, desire to make no observations upon them.”
He enclosed a copy of the Act in his despatch of June 28th, and it was received by Lord Kimberley in August, 1882; but in the spirit of his promise to the New Zealand Ministry to delay publication of a former despatch about Te Whiti, “if possible,” Lord Kimberley did not permit the publication of the Act or of the above protests in 1882, although there was in that year an autumn session. They appeared in a Blue Book in July, 1883, when Lord Derby had become Secretary of State for the Colonies. (C. 3689. 1883).
The “West Coast Peace Preservation Act, 1882,” 46 Victoria, No. 5, alias the “Act of Attainder of Te Whiti,” &c. enabled the Governor in Council to deny a trial, to hold Te Whiti and Tohu in prison, to release them, and to re-arrest and imprison them at pleasure, in defiance of Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus Act, or any other safe guard of the liberties of the subjects of the Queen.
Te Whiti and Tohu were accordingly with more or less restraint, kept as prisoners in the Middle Island. They were so calm in their manner that it would have been difficult to find excuse for harshness in dealing with them, and the man to whose care or custody they were confided, declared in a published journal that he only once used force to prevent them from walking whither they would, though, he afterwards kept two armed men to support him.
Te Whiti and Tohu were released in March, 1883; but were still subject to arbitrary arrest under the Act 46, Victoria, No. 5, and in September, 1883, a brief “Continuance Act” renewed its provisions.
Mr. Hall, the head of the ministry under which the raid upon Parihaka was conducted in 1881, retired on 21st April 1882; and Mr. Whitaker (Attorney General in the Hall ministry) became premier, the other members of the Hall ministry retaining office.
Whitaker resigned in September 1883, and Major Atkinson who had been Treasurer in the Hall and Whitaker ministries, became premier, his other colleagues remaining with him.
In August 1884, the Atkinson Ministry was expelled from office, and after some oscillations Mr. (now Sir) Robert Stout formed (in September 1884,) a ministry which did not renew the Act relating to Te Whiti; but furnished an instructive commentary on the “Raid upon Parihaka” of 1881.
In July, 1886, Te Whiti and others were committed for trial for promoting disturbance at Hawera, on the West Coast.
* These protests are printed in the Blue Book, 1883. C. 3689. p.p. 8. 9.
* The wild and mystic language of Te Whiti excited various feelings. His prophetic pretensions were accepted almost universally among his people. How he maintained his reputation was shown by Mr. Sheehan in 1882.—A Maori complained in open meeting that a promise to raise the dead had not been performed by Te Whiti, who retorted, “Do you not remember that I promised to do so if for twelve months you were all sober, temperate, pure, and chaste in your lives?” “Yes.” “Have you been so?” “No.” “Then, do you think I would disgrace your ancestors by bringing them back to a people like this?” [N. Z. Hansard, Vol. XLI. p. 143.]