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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Rare Volume


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Since the preceding pages were written, several publications have appeared on the subject. Those, which attack the conduct of the Governor, rely chiefly on the following points:

1. It is said, that no regard ought to be had to the original purchase of the Waitara land and to Mr Spain's award, as all the Governors yielded up the principle by allowing the Ngatiawa to occupy their former possessions, and by offering to re-purchase them. Moreover, it is said, that the Ngatiawa returned as a tribe, and that therefore all their tribal rights should be respected. These assertions, however, are not strictly true. Governor Fitzroy yielded to the re-occupation of the lands, but his conduct in so doing was never approved by the Home Government nor acknowledged as legal by Mr Spain. "Captain Fitzroy," writes Dr Thompson, "did wrong in entirely changing Mr Spain's decision; he should have approved of the purchase of 60,000 acres, and ordered the fugitives and slaves a further payment for the disputed land." (Story of New Zealand, Vol. II. p. 92.) Sir Geo. Grey would have prevented the return of W. King and his people, and "urged without success H. M. Government to locate a corps of pensioners in the district." Ib. p. 224. Ultimately he acquiesced in the principle that the natives should be allowed to remain on the lands which they had again occupied, that every effort should be made to induce them to accept a further payment for any portions of the said 60,000 acres claimed by any of them, but that they should never be admitted to be "the true owners of the land." (See above, p. 11, and Papers, E, No. 4, p. 16.) The mana having been purchased from the Waikato for the Queen (above, p. 4), no seignorial rights were ever acknowledged as vested in the Ngatiawa chiefs, but only proprietary rights were conceded. Moreover, it is not true that the Ngatiawa returned as a tribe to their old possessions. In 1844 "single families paddled in their canoes with children and pigs from Cook's Strait;" then "others came in ships from the Chatham Islands." At last, "in 1848 W. King and 600 souls migrated from Otaki to Taranaki." (Thompson, Vol. II. p. 224.) But still considerable numbers remain in the neighbourhood of Wellington and of Queen Charlotte's Sound.

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2. It is said, that all New Zealand title is tribal, and that the undoubted head of the Ngatiawa tribe is W. King, who had therefore a right to forbid the sale.

Mr McLean's evidence to the contrary is given above, p. 37. Mr Shorthand, a high authority on New Zealand affairs, says, that before any dealings with the Europeans there was a great variety of native title. He specifies four different kinds of tenure: 1. by a few members of the same tribe; 2. by many members of the same tribe; 3. where land is claimed by two tribes and occupied by neither; 4. where the original possessors have been conquered by another tribe, and a remnant of the conquered have been left on the land. (Shortland's Traditions, &c. of the New Zealanders, London, 1854, p. 263.) This thoroughly bears out Mr McLean's statement. Moreover, there is some ambiguity in the word tribal. With Dr Thompson, for instance, the native word hapu is rendered tribe. Now the head of Teira's hapu, Ropoama, gave his consent to the sale.

As regards King's authority, it is not denied that he is an important chief, nor that, if the tribe were united under one head, he might very likely have a claim to be its leader. But, besides that the mana is now vested in the Queen, the tribe is a broken and scattered tribe; chief-ship is not hereditary (if it were, Teira would have the superior claim, see above, p. 40); and that the whole Ngatiawa tribe do not acknowledge King's supreme authority is proved by the refusal of a considerable number of them to submit to his veto on the sale of their lands. Several blocks of land have been sold already in Waitara, and in all cases King was opposed to the sale.

3. It is said, that Mr Parris alone conducted the investigation of the title, his superior, Mr McLean, leaving it all to him; and that no report to the Governor was made till July 1860, after hostilities had commenced.

Mr McLean positively denies the former of these statements. He says he had made enquiries in the neighbourhood of Taranaki on former occasions as to King's claims, that he initiated the investigation in March 1859 himself, and then, leaving Parris at New Plymouth to prosecute the enquiries, he went to Queen Charlotte's Sound and thence to Wellington, where the principal claimants lived, and where ho expected to be able to obtain more dispassionate evidence than on the scene of strife (see E, No. 4, p. 18). It is certain that he reported to the Governor the result of these enquiries, and the Governor laid it before the Executive Council, which accordingly advised the survey to be made, and the military to be prepared to act (see E, No. 3, p. 11). The letter of the Chief Commissioner, dated July 23, 1860, was written at the request of the Governor, not because the Commissioner had never page 51 before expressed his opinion, but because there was no written record of his judgment that could be laid formally before the Houses of Assembly. (E, No. 3 A, pp. 4, 5.)

4. Great stress is laid on the impropriety of the proclamation of martial law.

It was certainly unfortunate if the translation into Maori was calculated to convey a stronger impression than the original, and if the officer in command misunderstood the instructions sent him, and published it sooner than was desirable. But the ministers say, that it was princicipally intended to prevent mischief arising from the settlers. The danger of this is very apparent. The settlers in the neighbourhood of New Plymouth were much incensed against the natives. The commencement of hostilities might easily have been precipitated by some intemperate action, or even intemperate language, on the part of the Europeans. Whether the proclamation of martial law be legal or not, must be a question for those learned in the law; but its expediency, when two races are in immediate contact and on the point of coming to blows, can hardly be questioned. It must be repeated, that King had known it before; and therefore probably did not misunderstand it. Sec above, p. 16.

Cambridge: Printed at the University Press.