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

[No. 64.]

No. 64.

Copy of a Despatch from Governor Gore Beowne to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle.

On the Establishment of a Native Council. Government House, Auckland, N.Z., 4th February, 1861.

My Lord. Duke,—

As a part of the scheme for a, Native Council; I assumed that the member's would associate with themselves three or four Native chiefs of the, highest rank, for the, sake of the influence they would bring, as well as for, their advice. Two out of the three gentlemen whose, names, I submitted to your Grace for, appointment in the Council entertain the same views; the third (Colonel Nugent) being, in England.

Looking, therefore, to the future, as well as to the present, it occurred to me that it would be advantageous to seek the advice of three or four Native chiefs now; and, by consulting Messrs Bell and McLean, I felt that I could do so without interfering with any future/arrangements they might desire to make. I accordingly submitted the question to these, gentlemen, and Mr. Smith (the very able Assistant Native Secretary,), and I have now the honour to forward for your Grace's information reports made by these officers separately, and a minute by my Responsible Advisers.

I trouble your Grace with these documents partly on account of the information they contain, and partly because they exhibit some of the many difficulties which surround every attempt to introduce improvements in the management of Native affairs.

I have, &c.,

T.Gore. Brown

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, &c.

page 67

Enclosure 1.
Memorandum by the Native Secretary.

In reply to your Excellency's memorandum of this day's date, I have the honour to state that I consider the appointment of chiefs to assist the Government in the administration of Native affairs very desirable. The advice and opinions of chiefs of rank and intelligence would be invaluable to the Government in guiding its decisions on any questions of importance affecting the Native race.

The chiefs appointed should reside at the seat, of Government, and have comfortable residences provided for them at the public expense, with pay to each at the rate of £200 per annum. A distinguishing dress should be provided; and their office should be permanent, subject to termination only in cases of misconduct: Their duties should be defined by clear and intelligible instructions; and the Governor; in travelling through Native districts; should be accompanied by one or more of them, who should be present at all meetings, and take part in public discussions or deliberations with the several tribes.

The Maoris; generally, would very much appreciate the fact that some of their own leading chiefs were invited to exercise authority in connection with the Government, in matters relating to them selves; and the Government, by free consultation with those chiefs, would be better able to judge how far any measures, that might from time to time be devised for the civilization and improvement of the Natives; Would be attended with success:

I submit that the' Government of the country should use every possible endeavour to restore and secure the confidence of the Natives, more especially of those tribes who have not joined in the present insurrection. The appointment of some of the influential chiefs to offices of trust at a time when military advantages are being gained over those taking part in the existing-disturbances; would tend very much to inspire them with confidence as to the humane intentions of the English nation towards them, and dispel much of the disaffection and antipathy of race which unfortunately prevail.

Auckland, 31st January, 1861.

Donald McLean.

Enclosure 2.
Memorandum by the Assistant Native Secretary.

Auckland, lst February, 1861

With reference to the subject of your Excellency's memorandum of the 30th ultimo, I, have the honour to state briefly my opinion, that it is highly desirable that some of the principal Native chiefs should assist the Executive Government with their advice in the conduct of Native affairs; and that such an arrangement, if made with the general concurrence of the Native people, would materially tend to secure their confidence, in the Government. At the same time I feel bound to express to your Excellency my conviction that the present time is not the most opportune for initiating the new system. I fear that, until the establishment of more cordial relations between the Government and, the Native race generally, the acceptance by any Native chief of such an appointment as is proposed, involving removal from among his own people would place him in an invidious position, and that by identifying him with the Government under present circumstances it would tend to impair the influence which he might otherwise exercise.

As a means towards bringing the present war to a termination, I see no ground for anticipating any good result from, an immediate carrying-out of the proposed arrangement. The selection must necessarily be restricted to those chiefs whose sympathies or professions are unequivocally on the side of the Government, and who by the declaration of their sentiments have rendered themselves more or less obnoxious to many of their countrymen. Such men would probably render better service to the Government by remaining among their own people. As a prominent feature in a new system to be introduced when peace is restored, the proposed arrangement is calculated to produce the best results'; but, while so large a portion of the Native population is either disaffected or wavering, I should hesitate to recommend its initiation.

I am also of opinion that the concurrence of the Natives in any new plans for their government is essential. To secure this, such plans should in the first place be suggested as matter for consideration, 'rather, than announced as the determination of the Government arrived at without consulting the wishes of the people for whose benefit they are designed. The Native Conference would afford an opportunity for bringing forward the subject, and I have little doubt that a proposal such as that contained in your Excellency's memorandum would there meet with general approval.

As the selection of men would be a matter of some delicacy, it might be well to invite the Conference to prepare a list of chiefs of standing and intelligence, and enjoying the confidence of their respective tribes, to be submitted to the Governor. From such a list a certain number might be selected and appointed councilors to hold office for a limited period, at the expiration of which another selection should be made, and from time to time repeated, so that all might hold office in turn. With these I would propose to associate a few of the principal chiefs to be selected by the Governor, whose appointments should be considered permanent during good behaviour. A Council of twelve chiefs might be thus constituted', who should be consulted by the Executive Government in all matters pertaining to the administration of Native affairs. As it would be desirable that the members of such a Council should reside principally at the seat of Government, suitable accommodation should be provided for them, and they should receive salaries sufficient to enable them to maintain a position in society befitting their rank and office It would be undesirable to initiate the proposed plan unless a guarantee for its permanency can be secured.

As-respects the precise number or mode of selecting the Native Councillors, no strict rule need be laid down: these and" similar matters of detail might be made the subject of deliberation in the Native Conference.

In the introduction of the proposed system, I submit; as important points; first, that the expressed wishes of the Natives themselves should be made the basis of all action on the part of the Government; page 68and, secondly, that the Governor should exercise an independent discretion in the selection of not less than one-half of the members of the proposed Council to hold permanent appointments.

Thos. H.Smith, Assistant Native Secretary.

His Excellency Colonel T. Gore Brown, C.B

Enclosure 3.
Memorandum by the Land Claims Commissioner.

I have always been of opinion that the appointment of a number of chiefs to advise the Governor is essential to the successful conduct of Native affairs. The Native Council proposed to be established will certainly not work well unless some Native chiefs are to be associated with it, and I understand this has been admitted on all sides. No really permanent influence over the Native mind towards the full recognition of the Queen's authority and the establishment of. British law will ever be gained • except through the agency of the Native people itself; and the present proposal is a step in the right direction.

But its value depends on whether it is intended to be a merely temporary measure in consequence of the war, or the germ of a permanent plan. Ought the position of the chiefs to be raised, or not? The policy recommended to the Governor by Archdeacon in 1856 was that "the Government should do nothing towards establishing the influence of the chiefs, but should rather endeavour to lessen this by, every legitimate means." Now, the influence of the chiefs has already sensibly diminished everywhere since the establishment of British sovereignty: we destroyed the right of the strong arm, and offered nothing in its stead. In times of danger we have often owed our safety to what remained of power among the chief s, but in times of peace and security we have been inclined to neglect them. I believe the policy recommended by Archdeacon-was unwise, and contrary to the natural instincts of the Polynesian races; and that the best thing we can do is to raise the character and position of the chiefs, not certainly by remitting to them the right of the strong arm, but by encouraging them to seek European honours and a share in the government. I think the most proper course would be to invite the Conference which will assemble this year to consider the advisability of permanently establishing at the seat of Government a small number of chiefs as a recognized medium of communication and advice between the Governor, and the Native tribes. The Conference should then be asked to consider whether such chiefs ought to be elected by the tribes, or be chosen by the Governor out of a list of chiefs submitted by the Conference, or be wholly or partly nominated directly by the Governor; whether their appointment should be for life or for a term of years, or a number of chiefs be sent up by rotation to take part in the government, and attain a practical insight into the conduct of affairs on the European system; whether part of the number should have a fixed tenure of office, and the others come in by rotation, so as to combine steadiness of action in one direction with varying suggestion and advice, and so forth. The Government would indicate the plan it preferred, but the decision should be as much as possible left to the Natives themselves, either in the Conference, or (as was done last year in the case of the Message on Individualization of Titles) in subsequent discussion by the tribes in their own districts. Undoubtedly any such plan would require a considerable expenditure, and could not, therefore, be carried into effect without the sanction of the Assembly. It would be" absolutely useless without some guarantee of permanence, and without adequate provision for raising the chiefs selected, not only in the estimation of their countrymen, but in that of the European settlers. To bring a number of chiefs together in Auckland as advisers of the Governor, and leave them to shift for themselves in the Maori hostelry, would be an absurdity. A suitable residence should be appointed for them, a moderate income (say £100 per annum) granted to each, and reasonable means afforded for their exercise of: hospitality to other chiefs from various parts of the country; who should be encouraged by the Government to visit and communicate with them. There should, in fact, be the "Assessors' House," where measures might be talked over by the most intelligent men apart from the presence and influence of Government officers; and the chiefs throughout the country should be invited to write freely to the Assessors direct.'

With regard to the immediate appointment of four or five principal chiefs to advise the Governor in the existing crisis, I think it would have a good effect provided a careful notification were published to the Natives, informing them that it was the Governor's wish to propose a permanent plan to the General Assembly and the Native Conference, and that the summoning of a few chiefs in the mean-time was intended to show the people that, while the war was unavoidably prosecuted for the repression of insurrection, the Governor was most desirous to treat even the insurgents with lenity, and to resort to the advice of those who remained firm in their allegiance for the measures necessary for the restoration of peace. The Government would, no doubt, run some risk (by, now summoning the most influential among the loyal chiefs) of losing the very influence which is at this time being beneficially exerted by them in their own districts. They would very likely be pointed at, as "Governor's men," and whatever they said misrepresented as the Governor's opinion and not theirs. Even the most loyal are obliged, in the increasing spread of disaffection, to pretend more or less of sympathy with the causes of complaint among the disaffected, in order to maintain any hold whatever on their people; and their removal to the seat of Government might sacrifice that hold in their own neighbourhoods without our obtaining in exchange any influence when exercised from head-quarters. Still, if the Natives of the various tribes can be made to see the experiment as a proof of continued good-will on the part of the Government, and of its desire to consult their wishes and interests, it will result in very much good: on the whole, therefore, I am of opinion that it should be tried. The Governor would then, for the present, nominate the chiefs himself, and make temporary arrangements for their reception in Auckland, until the Assembly should decide whether (as a permanent institution) a Maori Council of advice should exist, and vote the necessary funds for its maintenance.

Auckland, 1st February, 1861.

F.Dillon Bell.

page 69

Enclosure 4.
Memorandum byMinisters.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Auckland, 4th February, 1861.

Ministers have had under their consideration three memoranda referred to them by His Excellency embodying the respective views of the Native Secretary, the Assistant Native Secretary, and Mr. Bell as to the desirability of constituting a Council composed of persons belonging to the Native race to assist the Governor in the conduct of Native affairs. Ministers agree with those gentlemen in thinking that it would be desirable to introduce a Native element in the government of the aborigines, and when the Native Council Act was under discussion it was understood that this should be done. No formal enactment to this effect, however, was introduced into that Act, as it was deemed unadvisable to create a permanent machinery which after further experience might appear inconvenient.

Under these circumstances, and having regard to the objections raised to an immediate adoption of the plan proposed by two of the three gentlemen to whom the question has been referred it appears to Ministers that it would not be advisable to take action in the matter for the present.