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

No. 68. — Copy, of a Despatch from Governor Gore Browne C.B., to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle

No. 68.
Copy, of a Despatch from Governor Gore Browne C.B., to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle.

Waikato.On the Military Force necessary. Government House, Auckland, New Zealand, 6th July, 1861.

My Lord Duke,—

I have the honour to forward a printed copy of the declaration to the Waikatos, and W. Tamihana's reply to the same; a report of a Select Committee of both Houses of the Assembly; and an extract from the Proceedings of the Executive Council on the same subject.

Tamihana's reply must convince the most sceptical that the purchase of land at the Waitara was the excuse and not the cause of the war; that its real cause was a deep-rooted longing for separate nationality, which had been growing for years, and could never have been stifled by palliatives of any sort: and there is every reason to believe that it has spread far and wide throughout the South of this Island. All doubt, therefore, is now at an end; and it is evident that, if the Maoris will not submit, this part of the colony must be abandoned by all who will not yield obedience to Maori law, of which the aptest symbol is the tomahawk.

War, in a country occupied as this is by settlers and stockowners, thinly spread over its whole surface, must necessarily be disastrous to both races; property must be abandoned, houses deserted, the settlers must rally round the centres of population, and many who are in comparative wealth will be reduced to extreme poverty. Nothing can be done to alleviate that suffering which is the inseparable accompaniment of war under such circumstances; but it ought to be brought to an end in the least possible time. Every day's prolongation of war adds to the destruction of life and property, and diminishes the means possessed by the colony for paying its share of the expense. It follows, therefore, that a force large enough to bring the war to a conclusion in a single campaign would be less costly to the Imperial Government, and far more merciful to both races, than a very much smaller one, if that end could only be attained by a longer time.

The question is, therefore, Could a war against the Waikatos and their allies be brought to an early conclusion with the force now at the disposal of General Cameron? My Responsible Advisers, and the Select Committee of both Houses of the Assembly (which, I am informed, represents the views of the Assembly generally), are of opinion that it cannot. Under ordinary circumstances it would not be my duty to offer an opinion on the subject; but the lives of many and the properties of all the settlers in this Island are at" stake, and I do not, therefore, hesitate to say that I agree with them, and desire to repeat the opinions expressed concisely in my Despatch No. 51, of the 13th April last. In order to bring the Maoris to submission in the course of one or two seasons, I believe it is absolutely necessary that the General should have a movable column of not less than three thousand rank and file; that he should be able to keep up a chain of communication with his advanced post, which should be in the centre of the Waikato—one hundred miles from Auckland. I have every reason to believe that the insurgents will only partially obstruct his course by occupying strong natural positions, and rifle-pits; but while he advances they will spread over the country in small parties, attacking the settlements (which occupy the circumference of the Island, while they inhabit the centre), and carrying destruction far and wide. To meet this the settlers will have to congregate in the large towns; and the force in these towns should be such that, though unable to take the field regularly, they should be able to make sallies against any parties of moderate strength coming within their reach, and prevent the Maoris from carrying off stock, which would furnish them with the means of prolonging: their resistance indefinitely. If this could not be done, the Natives would consider success in the smaller settlements as compensation for any loss in the Waikato; and they would be justified in so doing, for the Waikatos have little or nothing to lose, while our settlements would be reduced to beggary.

I agree with the Committee in thinking that the garrisons in the towns in the South are not strong enough to do more than act on the defensive, and the General states that if he were now to reinforce these garrisons he will be unable to take the field with an efficient body of men. By his letter (copies of which are forwarded by this mail) he calculates on the organization of a considerable force of Militia, and animadverts on the supineness of the local Government in this respect. The subject is reported on in a separate despatch. I differ from the General, however, as to the practicability of organizing such a force of Militia as would be sufficient for our purposes. The constant employment of so large a portion of the male population (estimated in this Island at eight thousand fighting men) would destroy the source of the revenue from which the colony can alone pay its share of the expenses of the war, and deprive it and the troops of the service of the industrial part of the page 73community, without which it would not be easy to subsist. I say nothing of the vast expenses of a Militia in which the men are necessarily paid half a crown a day, in addition to rations and equipment when in the field.

The amount of force which may be necessary to subdue the Maoris once and for all, and prevent a lingering war, is of course, a matter of opinion; but I believe it would be the, cheapest in the end and by far the most merciful to both the Maori and the settlers, if Her Majesty's Government would send out such a number of men as would enable General Cameron to confront the Maoris at all points, and bring this unhappy insurrection to a speedy termination. I hope to be able to bring a number of the Ngapuhi Tribe to assist, but it will not be safe to rely implicitly on their support.

I have, &c.,

T.Gore Browne.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, K.G., &c.