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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

No. 112. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor the Right Hon. Sir J.Fergusson to the Right Hon. the Earl of Carnarvon

No. 112.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor the Right Hon. Sir J.Fergusson to the Right Hon. the Earl of Carnarvon.

Auckland.Governor Fergusson's Visit to Native Districts. Government House, Auckland, N.Z., 8th June, 1874.

My Lord,—

I have the honour to inform you that I have lately visited some of the most important Native districts in the North Island, and your Lordship may desire to know the general result.

  • 2. On the 16th March I left Napier, Hawke's Bay, and travelled by Lake Taupo to Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. Between the two latter points I had four meetings with considerable bodies of Natives. They are uniformly contented and well-affected. They prize highly the advantages they enjoy by means of the main line of road, now complete, through the district, along which a mail coach now runs twice a week, travellers and live stock are continually passing, and the electric telegraph is in operation. Several schools are established, and are well attended. At Ohinemutu, Rotorua, I visited one attended by nearly fifty children, whose intelligence and drill were remarkably good. The chief requests made to me by the chiefs were for more roads, telegraphs, and schools. Towards the support of the last they are willing to make liberal grants of land.
  • 3. On the 20th April I left Auckland on a visit to the Waikato District, which was of some consequence, as being that immediately joining the "King's," and the Government thought it proper to be attended by considerable detachments of the various forces employed upon the "frontier." I was accompanied by Governor Du Cane, of Tasmania, who was visiting me at the time, the Colonial Secretary, and all the local officers of the Government. In accordance with the policy which has been of late pursued, only the European settlers and the loyal Natives were invited to attend, which they did in considerable numbers, at a meeting at Newcastle on the 21st. I beg to enclose a newspaper report of the proceedings.*
  • 4. From Newcastle I proceeded to Cambridge, where I remained for two days, and visited some of the redoubts which are erected along the line of the confiscated boundary. Settlement is rapidly increasing in Waikato, and fine farms are to be seen throughout the district, indicating a growing sense of security and an increasing investment of capital. The railway is in course of construction as far as Newcastle, where there are coal mines; and its completion so far, which may be expected by the end of another year, cannot fail both to advance rapidly the progress and prosperity of the district, and to secure it against disturbance from without.
  • 5. From Cambridge I travelled across the country to Rotorua, not only to show the Hot-Lake district to Mr. Du Cane, but because the ability of the Governor to pass through the Native districts without any unusual escort is calculated to produce good results, giving confidence both to the European and to the loyal Native population. It is not long since a horse-track has been cleared on this route, and I believe it has not been traversed by any former Governor.
  • 6. Upon this occasion I was a spectator of a large gathering of Natives near Rotorua, for the settlement of a dispute of long standing about the ownership of a large tract of land known as the Te Horohoro Block. This dispute had lately come to a head, arid in former times would certainly have led to a war; but, by common consent, the contending parties agreed to abide by the arbitration of the Government, and certain officers conversant with Native customs, being appointed to act, were able to page 116conduct the inquiry with the utmost regularity in the presence of all interested, and to come to a conclusion in favour of one party without any doubt of the acquiescence of the other.
  • 7. Again, on the 13th May I left Auckland on a visit to the district north of that place, inhabited chiefly by the powerful Ngapuhi Tribe, who have always been very friendly since the conflict of 1845, but among whom there have been a good many acts of violence from time to time. I visited the Bay of Islands, passed overland to Hokianga, and upon my return went on by sea to Whangaroa and Mangonui. It is gratifying to see the cordial relations existing between the Europeans and Natives throughout the northern district. Large numbers of the latter are employed by farmers, timber merchants, and others at the current wages of the colony, with mutual satisfaction.
  • 8. It is proper that I should inform your Lordship that during the last two months there have been decided indications of a desire, on the part of the Hauhau party among the Maoris, to put an end to their estrangement from the Government. Their chiefs appear to be divided among themselves, and both they and their people desire to share in the advantages which the loyal tribes enjoy. A meeting lately held by Tawhiao, the Maori King, for which preparations had been made during many months, and which had probably been intended to unite his party, proved a failure, and upon its separation the principal chiefs came to the neighbourhood of the frontier, where they have stated that they remain in hopes of receiving terms from the Government. A loyal chief of the Waikato, who has for many years been active in support of the Government, has twice waited upon me and assured me of his belief in the willingness of the separated tribes to come under subjection, provided that they be permitted to manage their own affairs under their own chiefs upon which basis they would be ready to admit communication through the district, and provide for the surrender of criminals. I trust that the Government will not lose an opportunity of so desirable a consummation; but in the meantime nothing is being done on account of the absence of Mr. McLean, the Native Minister, upon public business in Australia. It remains to be seen, indeed, whether the Hauhau chiefs are really disposed to surrender their independence, a step which would be distasteful to many of their followers.
  • 9. With the exception of the danger of incursions of some turbulent members across the boundary, against which due precautions are taken, there is no disturbing element in connection with the Native population. Europeans are constantly becoming more intermixed with them, and they more habituated to and dependent upon the comforts of European products, and the money derived by the sale or lease of their lands. There is, however, much cause for regret in the demoralizing influences which invariably accompany the influx of Europeans. Few Natives of any class can resist the temptation to drink, habitually and to excess, while they have the means of indulging in it. There are chiefs who set an example of sobriety or total abstinence, but if cannot be doubted that the frequent excess in ardent and often bad spirits by both sexes, and their inordinate use of tobacco from a very early age, are permanent causes of the rapid and almost general diminution of the numbers of this fine and capable race, which is presented alike by the paucity of births and the mortality among the children (rather than among the infants). At the same time there is reason to hope that a remnant will be saved, and that the considerable number of children receiving instruction upon the English system in our schools may raise up a certain number so educated as to resist the temptations which have proved fatal to so many. The full capacity both of Maoris and of half-castes to acquire and employ all branches of knowledge induces the belief that there will long survive in New Zealand representatives, and more widely infusions, of the Maori race.
  • 10. I wish that some systematic effort were made to fit the children of chiefs by higher education for their proper work among their people, and even for taking a part in the future government and business of the country. In spite of the comparative failure of some former attempts, I hope, through private association if not by the action of Government, to set on foot some definite organization for this purpose.

I have, &c.,

James Fergusson.

The Right Hon. the Earl of Carnarvon.

* Extract from New Zealand Herald, 9th May, 1874.