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

No. 61. — Address of His Excellency the Governor to the Maori Chiefs assembled at Kohimarama on the 10th July, 1860

No. 61.
Address of His Excellency the Governor to the Maori Chiefs assembled at Kohimarama on the 10th July, 1860.

My Friends,—Chiefs of New Zealand,—

I have invited you to meet me on the present occasion that we may have an opportunity of discussing various matters connected with the welfare and advancement of the two races dwelling in New Zealand.

  • 2. I take advantage also of it to repeat to you, and, through you, to the whole Maori people, the assurances of good-will on the part of our gracious Sovereign which have been given by each succeeding Governor, from Governor Hobson to myself.
  • 3. On assuming the sovereignty of New Zealand Her Majesty extended to her Maori subjects her royal protection, engaging to defend New Zealand and the Maori people from all aggressions from any foreign Power, and imparting to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects; and she confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish to retain the same in their possession.
  • 4. In return for these-advantages, the chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi ceded for themselves and their people to Her Majesty the Queen of England, absolutely and without reservation, all the rights and powers of sovereignty which they collectively or individually possessed, or might be supposed to exercise or possess.
  • 5. Her Majesty has instructed the Governors who preceded me, and she will instruct those who come after me, to maintain the stipulations of this Treaty inviolate, and watch over the interests and promote the advancement of her subjects without distinction of race.
  • 6. Having renewed these assurances in the name of our gracious Sovereign, I now ask you to confer with me frankly and without reserve. If you have grievances, make them known to me, and if they are real I will try to redress them. Her Majesty's wish is that all her subjects should be happy, prosperous, and contented. If, therefore, you can make any suggestions for the better protection of property, the punishment of offenders, the settlement of disputes, or the preservation of peace, I shall gladly hear them and will give them the most favourable consideration.
  • 7. The minds of both races have lately been agitated by false reports or exaggerated statements; and, in order to restore confidence, it is necessary that each should know and thoroughly understand what the other wishes and intends.
  • 8. There is also a subject to which I desire to invite your special attention, and in reference to which I wish to receive the expression of your views. For some time past certain persons belonging to the tribes dwelling to the south of Auckland have been endeavouring to mature a project which, if carried into effect, could only bring evil upon the heads of all concerned in it. The framers of it are said to desire that the Maori tribes in New Zealand should combine together and throw off their allegiance to the Sovereign whose protection they have enjoyed for more than twenty years, and that they should set up a Maori king, and declare themselves to be an independent nation. Such ideas could only be entertained by men completely ignorant of the evils they would bring upon the whole Native race if carried into effect.
  • 9. While the promoters of this scheme confined themselves to mere talking I did not think it necessary to notice their proceedings, believing that, if allowed time to consider, they would abandon so futile and dangerous an undertaking. This expectation has not been fulfilled. At a recent meeting at Waikato some of the leading men proposed that Wiremu Kingi, who is in arms against the Queen's authority, should be supported by reinforcements from the tribes who acknowledge the Maori King; and armed parties from Waikato and Kawhia actually went to Taranaki for this purpose. These men also desire to assume an authority over other New Zealand tribes in their relations with the Government, and contemplate the forcible subjection of those tribes who refuse to recognize their authority.
  • 10. Under these circumstances I wish to know your views and opinions distinctly, in order that I may give correct information to our Sovereign.
  • 11. It is necessary for me to remind you that Her Majesty's engagements to her Native subjects in New Zealand have been faithfully observed. No foreign enemy has visited your shores. Your lands have remained in your possession, or have been bought by the Government at your own desire. Your people have availed themselves of their privileges as British subjects, seeking and obtaining in the Courts of law that protection and redress which they afford to all Her Majesty's subjects. But it is right you should know and understand that in return for these advantages you must prove yourselves to be loyal and faithful subjects, and that the establishment of a Maori King would be an act of disobedience and defiance to Her Majesty which cannot be tolerated. It is necessary for the preservation of peace in every country that the inhabitants should acknowledge one headpage 64
  • 12. I may frankly tell you that New Zealand is the only colony where the aborigines have been treated with unvarying kindness. It is the only colony where they have been invited to unite with the colonists, and to become one people under one law. In other colonies the people of the land have remained separate and distinct, from which many evil consequences have ensued. Quarrels have arisen; blood has been shed; and finally the aboriginal people of the country have been driven away or destroyed. Wise and good men in England considered that such treatment of aborigines was unjust and contrary to the principles of Christianity. They brought the subject before the British Parliament, and the Queen's Ministers advised a change of policy towards the aborigines of all English colonies. New Zealand is the first country colonized on this new and humane system. It will be the wisdom of the Maori people to avail themselves of this generous policy, and thus save their race from evils which have befallen others less favoured. It is your adoption by Her Majesty as her subjects which makes it impossible that the, Maori people should be unjustly dispossessed of their lands or property. Every Maori is a member of the British nation; he is protected by the same law as his English fellow-subject; and it is because you are regarded by the Queen as a part of her own especial people that you have heard from the lips of each successive Governor the same words of peace and good-will. It is therefore the height of folly for the New Zealand tribes to allow themselves to be seduced into the commission of any act which, by violating their allegiance to the Queen, would render them liable to forfeit the rights and privileges which their position as British subjects confers upon them, and which must necessarily entail upon them evils ending only in their ruin as a race.
  • 13. It is a matter of solicitude to Her Majesty, as well as to many of your friends in England and in this country, that you should be preserved as a people. No unfriendly feeling should be allowed to grow up between the two races. Your children-will live in the country when you are gone, and when the Europeans are numerous. For their sakes I call upon you, as fathers and chiefs of your tribes, to take care that nothing be done which may engender animosities, the consequences of which may injure your posterity. I feel that the difference of language forms a great barrier between the Europeans and Maoris; through not understanding each other there are frequent misapprehensions of what is said or intended: this is also one of the chief obstacles in the way of your participating in our English Councils, and in the consideration of laws for your guidance. To remedy this, the various Missionary bodies, assisted by the Government, have used every exertion to teach your children English, in order that they may speak the same language as the European inhabitants of the colony.
  • 14. I believe it is only needful that these matters should be well understood to insure a continuance of peace and friendly feeling between the two races of Her Majesty's subjects; and it is for this reason, and in a firm hope that mutual explanations will remove all doubt and distrust on both sides, that I have invited you to meet me now.
  • 15. I shall not seek to prove, what you will all be ready to admit, that the treatment you have received from the Government, since its establishment in these Islands down to the present hour, has been invariably marked by kindness. I will not count the hospitals founded for the benefit of your sick; the schools provided for the education of your children; the encouragement and assistance given you to possess yourselves of vessels, to cultivate wheat, to build mills, and to adopt the civilized habits of your white brethren. I will not enumerate the proofs which have been given you that your interests and well-being have been cared for, lest you should think 1 am ungenerously recalling past favours. All will admit that not only have your ears listened to the words of kindness, but that your eyes have seen and your hands have handled its substantial manifestations.
  • 16. I will not detain you by alluding to other matters of great importance, but will communicate with you from time to time, and call your attention to them before you separate. Let me, however, remind you that, though the Queen is able without any assistance from you to protect the Maoris from all foreign enemies, she cannot without their help protect the Maoris from themselves. It is therefore the duty of all who would regret to see their race relapse into barbarism, and who desire to live in peace and prosperity, to take heed that the counsels of the foolish do not prevail, and that the whole country be not thrown into anarchy and confusion by the folly of a few misguided men.

Finally, I must congratulate you on the vast progress in civilization which your people have made under the protection of the Queen. Cannibalism has been exchanged for Christianity; slavery has been abolished; war has become more rare; prisoners taken in war are not slain. European habits are gradually replacing those of your ancestors of which all Christians are necessarily ashamed. The old have reason to be thankful that their sunset is brighter than their dawn, and the young may be grateful that their life did not begin until the darkness of the heathen night had been dispelled by that light which is the glory of all civilized nations.

Earnestly praying that God may grant his blessing on your deliberations, and guide you to the right path, I leave you to the free discussion of the subjects I have indicated, and of any others you may think likely to promote the welfare of your race.

Thomas Gore Browne, Governor.