Aspects of New Zealand History
THE MAORI KING
In April 1854, a month before the first Parliament met in Auckland, a very different but scarcely less important gathering assembled at Manawapou, an obscure spot in southern Taranaki. There the Ngatituanui tribe had built a very large meeting house called Taiporohenui, a name which was supposed to come from ancestral Hawaiki, and meant 'the finishing of the work'. The business which the conveners hoped to bring to an end was colonization.
About a thousand Maoris from the tribes of southern Taranaki, together with some from Wellington Province, met to discuss the problems caused by the coming of Europe, and especially by the steady loss of Maori land to the settlers. to open the proceedings a chief chanted a magical incantation to bring about the fall of the Europeans; but the Ngatiruanui meant to achieve that result by more direct means. They wanted to secure an inter-tribal agreement to stop sales of land to the Taranaki settlers south of their existing boundary at Tataraimaka. some hotheads went further and proposed that the white men should be driven off lands which they had already purchased in Taranaki. One chief, Paratene Te Kopara, held up a tomahawk and cried, 'This is Okurukuru!' Matene Te Whiwhi, a Christian chief from Otaki, near Wellington, rose to ask, 'Was that land paid for?' When told that it was, he said, 'It is wrong, Leave that for your Pakeha (white) kinsmen. But, as to land not yet sold, retain that.' Then the hatcher, an as yet unbloodied symbol of death to the settlers, was thrown away.
In later years the settlers came to believe that a conspiracy was hatched against them at Manawapou; that the Maoris had formed a 'land-league ... a war league, a league of blood and death'. In fact, according to a missionary and a government land purchase agent, who had early news of the meeting, no agreement was made. The gathering broke up after the visitors had eaten so much food that they left their hosts hungry as well as disappointed. A Maori spy, who 'represented' the land agent at the meeting, said it was all 'protruding tongues, contortions (a reference to a Maori dance), spears and guns', a hopeless muddle with 'not a chief to direct the proceedings'. Moreover, the Maoris spoke not of a 'land league' - a European term - but of he tikanga pakeke, an obstinate plan, or policy, to withhold land from the Europeans. Nevertheless, the Manawapou meeting was of considerable importance it was the first of a series of great inter-tribal meetings which marked the rise of a Maori national movement and led, in 1858, to the election of a Maori King. though there was peace between the two races, in the late eight4een fifties they began to go along divergent political paths. The outcome, in 1860, was warfare on a much greater scale than before.
Beneath all the friendship between Maoris and settlers, underlying all their mutually advantageous relations, thee lay the stubborn fact that they were rivals for the possession of the land. To some extent, as agriculturists, they competed directly for the good arable land; but in general the uses to which they put the land were incompatible. The two ways of life could not indefinitely co-exist. The Maoris cultivated small areas, while relying on the extensive forests for berry, bird and root; th settlers burned forest and fern, then planted grass-seed in the rich ashes. To the settlers, land and money; but to the Maoris it was life itself and more. It is impossible to exaggerate their love for their tribal lands, scene of a thousand ancestral deeds or ancient legends which were recounted endlessly and in loving detail in the houses of learning and on the village marae (plaza).
The most direct, most persistent, most urgent source of nationalist sentiment among the Maoris was the fact that they were losing much of their land by sale to the Government. Some of the influential chiefs in the eighteen-forties, such as Te Rauparaha, had opposed land sales, but in the next decade this attitude became much more general. As the settlements became firmly established and prosperous, the rate of immigration rose steeply, so that the demand for land increased proportionately. It increased, indeed, disproportionately. In Auckland, the land speculators, who had bought much of the available crown lands, were asking such absurd prices that, while thousands of acres lay vacant, new immigrants urged the Government to buy more Maori land so that they could get it at the rate of five or ten shillings an acre laid down by Grey's ordinance of 1853.
The head of the native land Purchase Department, a shrewd and strong-willed Scot, Donald McLean, found himself under constant pressure to speed up the land purchase procedure. With Grey's strong hand no longer in control, complaints were heard that the department was becoming less scrupulous about its methods. Formerly the consent of the tribe had been required for all purchases, but McLean now began, on occasion, to accept offers made by chiefs or small groups owners. where influential chiefs supported him, he could sometimes ignore claimants who declined to sell; but such methods, successful or not, caused much hostility and suspicion. As the Maoris watched the white frontier encroaching on their soil, they grew increasingly uneasy about their future. The European rat, they told one another, had eaten up the Maori rat; the European dog had displaced the kuri. Would they, they asked, be in fact, have a future, by joining the anti-land-selling movement, which, they hoped, would stem the tide of settlement before their land, if not their race, was submerged. for ever.
Some Maoris had a large aim than to form anti-land-selling agreements. As early as 1847 Grey, remarking on the decline of the 'mutual jealousies and animosities' between the tribes and on the rise of 'a feeling of class or race', observed that many of the younger chiefs 'entertained the design ... to set up some national government'. The first clear information we have of such an intention concerns two remarkable young chiefs, Tamihana Te Rauparaha, a son of the old savage, and Matene Te Whiwhi, who lived at Otaki. In 1839, after encountering an ex-slave who had been converted to Christianity, they travelled to the Bay of Islands to beg for a missionary, and carried back with them the young Octavius Hadfield. Under his guidance they became, in the estimation of Europeans, the most civilized of their race. Thy were to be met, tail-coats and all, at Governors' balls. In 1851 TamihanaTe Rauparaha achieved the height of respectable colonial ambition by visiting England, where he was presented to the Queen. Thirty-odd years before, Hongi had met George IV and had returned with his armour and a cargo of muskets. Tamihana came back with a weapon much more dangerous to the British Empire, the notion of forming a Maori kingdom. In 1853, accompanied by Matene, he set out from Otaki to carry to the tribes a mystical doctrine of Maori unity. Even Grey and Bishop Selwyn, encountering the young chiefs on their journey, failed to see where it would end.
The kotahitanga or 'unity' movement took shape at innumerable tribal or inter-tribal meetings, like that at Manawapou. the man who did most to mould it was a remarkable chief of the Ngarihaua tribe, Wiremu Tamihana, who earned the name of the 'king-maker', John Gorst, the English politician and the author of The Maori king (1864), wrote of him that he had met many statesmen in the course of his long life 'but none superior in intellect and character to this Maori chief, whom most people would look upon as a savage.' In about 1855 Wiremu Tamihana had sought government assistance in bringing law and order to the Waikato. Rebuffed, he directed his considerable talents to securing the election of a king. After further meetings and negotiations he was successful in 1858.
The first Maori King was an ancient Waikato chief, Te Wherowhero, who chose the title of Potatau I. He had his flag, his council of state, his code of laws, a 'King's Resident Magistrate', police, and even a surveyor. the lawmaking, the trials, the interminable meetings and debates, provided his followers with a satisfying and exciting activity which invested their lives with new purpose. The Kingites were not merely copying the settlers' political organization. Rather, European institutions were being grafted onto native foundations like the tribal rumanga (assembly). As with most similar movements thee was a conservative, then backward-looking strain in Maori nationalism. there was a revival of declining customs such as tattooing - Wirema Tamihana said he had searched the scriptures and found nothing against it. Some of the nationalists tried to induce their people to cease trading with the settlers and to abandon European agricultural techniques. The extreme Kingites were imitating European organization in the hope that it would enable them to bring European organization. In the hope that it would enable them to bring European political and cultural dominance to an end. A favourite Kingite song expresses with great force this rejection of Europe and antagonism on Europeans:
The 'diggings' referred to were the goldfields of Australia or perhaps Otago. some Maoris even hoped to drive the Europeans into the sea. Fortunately for the Europeans, many tribes did not share such aspirations; even within the King movement thee was deep division between the moderates ld by Wiremu Tamihana, and the anti-European extremists who followed Rewi, chief of the Ngatimaniapoto tribe. Traditional tribal rivalries, which had not been altogether reconciled by the doctrine of unity, were another source of division. The King reigned, but he did not rule his subject, who included most of the Waikato and Taupo Maoris, some from Hawkes Bay and the eastern coastal region, and, within a year or two, the tribes of south3rn Taranaki. In practice his kingdom was merely a loose federation of tribes, yet it represented a formidable opposition to the purposes of the settlers, for it was united by the resolution to sell to more land. The land of the Kingite chiefs was placed under the mana of the King; it was made tapu. Many Maoris who declined to do fearlty to the King, such as Wiremu Kingi of Waitata, were at one with the King party on this issue. In Taranaki and on the East Coast there were sporadic Maori feuds, during the fifties, between the 'land sellers' and the 'land holders'; but it seems probable that the great majority of Maoris, south of Auckland, sympathized with the latter party.
Settlement was the cause of Maori nationalism and provided it with an objective, to keep the land. The peace of God and British law and order made nationalism possible by making it safe for even more fundamental sense, paradoxical as it may sound, in which the Europeans created the Maori nation. Before the arrival of strangers from overseas among the warring tribes, the inhabitants of New Zealand were Atiawa or Ngapahi or Waikato. So far as is known, they had no name for their race: the word maori meant 'normal'. They applied the term to themselves only when, for the first time in their recollection, they encountered another race. The newcomers were of a different colour. From the highest to the lowest these white men (Pakeha) assumed their superiority to the Maori. The enlightened and evangelical saw their superiority merely as one of civilisation; but most of the settlers were unenlightened, never having felt the gentle touch of humanitarianism. In their European b cultural baggage they brought a very different attitude towards the Maoris. They called these brown folk, whom they regarded as dirty, degraded, lazy, and immoral, 'blacks' or 'niggers'. They despised them, but in many parts of the country they also feared and hated them. there is no need, in an age which has seen so much of racialism, to labour the point, but it is useful to recall the observation of J.E. Gorst, that men who are habitually told that they emit a disagreeable smell, are not likely to feel a very strong affection towards the race that smells them'. On the Maori side, resentment and feelings of inferiority both fed the emotional springs of aggressive racialism. the European, as the Maoris saw him, was as unpleasant a figure as the settlers' stereotype Maori. He was greedy, arrogant, lacking in courtesy, selfish - in a word, 'individualistic'. He treated Maori women as prostitutes and, being without natural decency, deserted his half-caste children. He was, moreover, not half the warrior that the Maori was had not he been beaten by Home Heke and Te Rauparaha?
Some of the most intelligent of contemporary observers, both politicians and missionaries, interpreted the King movement not as a reaction against European influence, but as a consequence of the weakness of European political influence in Maori districts. The tribal system was falling into decline, they observed, but the Government was doing little to replace it with European political institutions. The King movement, in this view, was the creation of a people searching for law and order amidst the chaotic remnants of tribalism.
The explanation had mush to recommend it. It saw the King movement, not as a 'childish game', as Governor Gore Browne called it, not as a conspiracy, but as a brave attempt to meet the challenge of a changing world. There is no doubt that to some Kingite leaders, like Wirema Tamihana, the aim was to introduce some effective system of law and order. He complained that the Government had made no attempt to stop the 'river of blood' which flowed from Maori land-feuds. Nevertheless, this explanation reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of nationalism, which is never as rational as many Victorian gentlemen supposed. Good government has nowhere proved a cure for nationalism. Judging by experience elsewhere, it seems probable that the effective government of Maori districts, since it would have meant more interference with Maori society, would have intensified the nationalist reaction. In the nineteen-twenties, by trying to incorporate the village institutions in its machinery control, the New Zealand Government was to touch off a revolt in Samoa.
If such a view of Maori nationalism is accepted, it necessarily calls in question the whole basis of government native policy in New Zealand. Grey's policy had been to smooth over existing difficulties, while aiming at bringing racial friction to an end through the Europeanization of the Maoris. That the Maoris would eventually become brown Europeans had also been implicit in land policy, for on this assumption, they would eventually need less land. consequently, providing that purchases were fair and that adequate reserves were made, no harm was done if the settlers acquired a large proportion of the land. Some degree of Europeanization was, of course, inevitable, but missionaries, politicians and governors alike tended to assume that the faster the application of Grey's Europeanizing policy, the better it would be for both races. They assumed, in other words, that the way to cure the 'Maori problem' was to administer larger and more frequent doses of what was causing it - European influence.
In a matter so speculative it is not possible to reach a firm conclusion, but it seems reasonable to suggest that, at that stage of inter-racial relations, exactly the opposite policy would have been better; that what was needed was to minimize the pressure of European society on the Maoris, a result which might have been achieved by some degree of segregation. the possibility of introducing such a policy had been envisaged in the 1846 constitution and in that of 1852, both of which made provision for the declaration of native districts within which the Maoris could live in accordance with their own laws and customs, but it had been ignored. to have adopted a policy of partial segregation would have meant a reversal of current ideas about the possible speed of amalgamation. Moreover, it would have been difficult to apply, for any Maori districts which might be set up were bound to include lands, such as the banks of the Waitara and Waikato rivers, which the settlers particularly coveted. A modification of this policy was tried half-heartedly, in 1858 and in 1861, too late.
Apart from land purchase policy, the Government's native policy, which was restricted by a shortage of money and of qualified agents, did not cause Maori nationalism. The government failed, indeed, to exert any appreciable influence on the rate and direction of change in the Maori community. It still seemed not impossible, however, that the authorities could establish friendly relations with the King movement, or even guide it. But, owing to the extraordinary disorganisation in the administration of Maori affairs under Governor Core Browne, no attempt was made to do either.
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne was a pleasant well-meaning gentleman, straightforward, sincere and, in contrast to his predecessor, morally quite scrupulous. He had retired from the Indian army, and had come to New Zealand in 1855, after serving as Governor of St Helena, where, the Dictionary of National Biography tells us, he improved the water supply. He would have made an admirable, indeed a typical, Governor of New Zealand fifty or a hundred years later. He was the centre of the social life of the capital, popular with the crowds, regular at church. He lived his musical evenings in Government House and the society of gentlemen politicians such as F.D. Bell. But it was his misfortune to be appointed at a time when governors possessed power as well as influence, and in a situation of great stress, which called for energy, impartiality and discernment, he possessed none of the requisite qualities.
The new Governor was instructed to introduce responsible government: that is, to choose ministers who wee members of the House of Representatives, who enjoyed its support, and who should be responsible to it for their actions. There was no intention that this system, essentially the British cabinet system, should be applied to all departments of the administration. As in Canada, where responsible government had been introduced a few years previously, it was accepted that imperial (as opposed to domestic) affairs would still be controlled by the Governor on instructions from London. Gore Browne decided, as Grey had recommended, that Maori policy was an imperial responsibility. No such provision had been reserved to the Governor, but it seemed a reasonable decision. General native administration and land purchase wee closely allied. Imperial troops would be needed to protect the settlers in the event of a Maori revolt, which was a strong argument for giving the imperial authorities the right to determine Maori policy. Moreover, Gore Browne shared the misgivings of the humanitarians about giving the settlers the right to govern the Maoris. they would be likely, he wrote privately to the colonial Office, to take a 'one-sided view of native affairs'.
The Governor did not prove capable of exercising the power he had retained. he never learned to speak to the Maoris, nor could he mix with them happily. He never acquired more than a superficial knowledge of their customs. The day-to-day task of governing the Maoris on behalf of the Crown fell into the hands of Donald McLean, the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, who also, at the first opportunity, appropriated the office of Native Secretary. This was a disastrous combination of functions which confirmed the Maori nationalists in their impression that the Government's Maori policy amounted to buying their land. Gore Browne left everything to his able and aggressive assistant. 'Pray push on your purchases if you find it practicable and let me know (at your leisure) what purchases you have made and where,' he wrote, and, on another occasion, 'You know how entirely I depend on you, and how ill I get on without you.'
The General Assembly was not entirely pleased with the Governor's control of native policy, nor at all happy about his delegation of authority to McLean. From 1856-60 the politicians conducted a campaign against the Governor and his assistant to secure as much influence over native policy as possible. the result was a stalemate in which each side tied the other down. the Assembly had the right to pass - or refuse to pass - legislation affecting the Maoris and to vote extra money for Maori policy. by a close scrutiny of native expenditure, it was able to restrict the efforts of the Native Department. When, in 1856, at McLean's instigation, the Governor asked for an increased grant in order to send more government agents into Maori districts, the Assembly refused. For his part, McLean was able to subvert ministerial policy simply by fading to carry it out.
In 1858 the ministry introduced a series of very important measures of Maori policy. One of those, avowedly an experiment, would have made it possible for Maori communal land holdings to be 'individualized', that is, divided up among the owners. It would then have been permissible for individual title-holders to sell direct to the settlers instead of to the Crown. this act, which is worth noting because it summed up what the ministers, the settlers, and even the Governor were all coming to regard as a necessary change in land policy, was for various reasons disallowed by the Crown. A second act was passed extending Grey's system of appointing magistrates in Maori districts. A third, the most important, was a response to the Maori King movement. On the advice of E.D. Fenton, the Native Secretary who had been ousted by McLean, the ministers tried to introduce a system of 'indirect rule' in the Waikato. The Governor-in-Council was empowered to pass regulations for Maori districts on the recommendation of the Maori tribal assemblies. It was intended to seek the co-operation of the Maoris and to give them a direct desire to formulating the law; it was hoped that it would be possible slowly to guide them into the British political and legal system. This policy, which arose from the view that the King movement was a result of the Government's failure to govern the Maoris, represented a compromise between complete segregation and rapid Europeanization. It was the most promising policy conceived in the colonial period. But, though the Governor as well as the ministers favoured it, it was not carried out.
Donald McLean believed that the best policy was to ignore the King movement. He had seen the Maoris make many unsuccessful attempts to form 'land leagues'. They lacked, he considered, the necessary powers of combination. If they were left to their own quarrels, in his judgement this new league would collapse too. Unfortunately he converted the governor to his opinion. 'Hoping rather than believing' that his assistance was right, Gore Browne adopted his policy of 'supreme indifference' and 'salutary neglect'. Despite the reasonableness of the governor's decision to reserve the control of Maori affairs to himself, it was a mistake. Had the setters' elected representatives been constitutionally responsible for Maori policy - and for the cost of any rebellion which might occur - they would have been forced to devote more serious attention to Maori affairs. The consequence of the division of legislative and executive powers was that nothing was done to extend Grey's measures, to apply new ones, or to come to terms with the Kingites.
While the government lay paralysed, the situation in the North Island grew rapidly more dangerous. A deterioration in racial relations became apparent in 1854: the year after Grey's departure, the year that Maori feuds began in Taranaki, the year of the first General Assembly and the first great inter-tribal anti-land-selling meeting. The European Parliament and the Maori King became the foci for the discontents of Pakeha and Maori. the creation of separate political organisations brought the conflict of interests between the races more clearly into the open. the growing Maori resistance to land sales coincided with a greatly increased demand by the settlers. The 1858 census revealed that the Europeans at last outnumbered the Maoris, a fact whose significance escaped another race.
There was a growing feeling that war was scarcely to be avoided. In March 1859, for example, Henry Sewell wrote in his diary that unless some new system of land purchase wee introduced, the end was certain: the settlers, outnumbering the Maoris, would not suffer their progress to be checked by an inferior race. they would, if necessary, take the lands, the Maoris would resist and be crushed or exterminated. On both sides there were many aggressive individuals who longed for war - unruly young Maoris who had grown up disciplined neither by their own nor European authority and who sought only excitement; frustrated settlers who delivered that 'moral force is moral humbug when addressed to savages'. The Maori wars, perhaps like all others, began in men's minds before they were fought out in the fern and the bush. the authorities were well aware of the increasing danger of war. In a dispatch in 1859 Gore Browne referred to the vast Maori lands in the North Island (only seven of twenty-six million acres had been purchased) and declared, 'the Europeans covet these lands and are determined to enter in and possess them - "recte si possint, si non, quocunque modo" (rightly, if possible, if not, then by any means at all).'
The imperial government, he wrote, had declared unequivocally that even colonization must be regarded as a consideration subordinate to the duty of maintaining the substantial rights of the aborigines, but it was his opinion that unless some means were devised of reconciling the interests of the two races, 'collision attended with calamity to one Race, and annihilation to the other' was inevitable. The only solution he could suggest was the one which had occurred to Sewell: more land purchases. the Maoris had more land than they needed; they must sell all they did not use. this was, of course, perfectly sound: after all, whenever thee is a danger of war, if one side gives in, peace is easily maintained. but how could it be brought about? In 1858 and 1859 Gore Browne became increasingly hostile to the Kingites and the anti-land-sellers, to whose turbulent and wrong-headed opposition he attributed all the tension in New Zealand.
The most threatening situation was in Taranaki, where there had been continual trouble since the almost simultaneous arrival of the first settlers and of parties of Ariawa returning from slavery or exile. Taranaki presented, in a concentrated form, all the most difficult problems of racial relations in the country. there the land problem had always been most acute. In 1854 it had led to a Maori feud when a 'land seller' attempted to sell some land to which a permanent 'land holder' had claims. the settlers ignored the fact that a disputed purchase had caused the fighting. they blamed their difficulties on a seditious 'land league' which allegedly killed any Maoris who tried to sell land. there is, in fact, no reason to suppose that this inter-tribal land league ever existed in Taranaki. Rather the evidence suggests that the attempts to form such a league had failed dismally. Opinion in ach tribe was deeply divided. But the settlers were faced with a phenomenon quite as formidable as a 'land league', if less dramatic: according to the local newspaper the anti-land-selling Maoris were in a majority of about five to one.
From 1854 to 1858, while the feud went on, murders, sieges and skirmishes, on or near the settlers' land, kept the province in a perpetual uproar. colonel Wynyard, who was the Administrator of the colony in the interval between Grey's and Gore Browne's governorships, adopted a policy of non-interference, which Gore Browne continued. since there were insufficient troops to enforce law and order, there was no real alternative to neutrality. But he settlers made no pretence of being impartial. they helped the 'land sellers' with supplies of ammunition and medicine, while calling on the government to send troops to repress the 'land holders'. 'Are we, the sons of the greatest nation of the earth,' a correspondent in the local Heralds asked, 'for ever to knuckle under to a parcel of savages?' There were many proposals, even one from a missionary, that the government should confiscate the lands of Wiremu Kingi and other chiefs who opposed land sales. The Provincial council, in 1858, petitioned the Government to abandon the system of requiring the assent of every claimant before making a purchase of land. Instead, it urged, the Government should divide disputed land and buy whatever proportion belonged to the 'friendlies' or 'the progress party', as the settlers called 'land sellers'.
The Governor flat refused to accede to this request, which meant buying land without the consent of all the owners 'for the whole of the Maori Race maintain the right of the Minority to prevent the sale of land, held in common, with the utmost jealousy.' But the Government could see that the settlers were becoming desperate. They were short of capital as well as land. A depression in agricultural prices, in 1856, had hit them hard. To change over to pastoral farming seemed their only hope. Consequently they were more anxious than ever to acquire the open coastal land towards Waitara. thee was imminent danger that, as they frequently threatened, they would intervene in the feuds to help 'land sellers', particularly since, in 1858, these Maoris seemed likely to be exterminated. the chance that some settler, seeing the Maoris fighting on his land, would fire a round or two on behalf of the 'land sellers', was considerable.
In 1858 the Executive Council decided to announce that any Maoris fighting on European land would be treated as rebels. The authorities realized that such an order was risky, for, if the Maoris disobeyed it would have to be enforced by the military. They decided, however, that the risk of insisting on this minimum of law and order was less than the likely consequences of continuing the policy of neutrality. In March 1859 the Governor intervened in person. He went down to New Plymouth and at a meeting at Maoris announced the decision of the Executive Council. He added a few remarks on the subject of land purchase, advising the Maoris to sell their unoccupied land. He assured them that he would buy no land unless the owners agreed to sell, but that, on the other hand, he 'would not permit anyone to interfere in the safe of land unless he owned part of it'.
Immediately McLean had finished reading a translation of the governor's speech, a Maori named Teira (Taylor) stood up and offered to sell land at the mouth of the Waitara. The Governor, after consulting with McLean and the Native Minister, accepted the offer subject to confirmation of Teira's title. Teira then laid a parawai, a bordered mat, at the Governor's feet, as a symbol that he placed the land in his hands. Wiremu Kingi, the principal chief at the Waitara, objected to the sale, and, accompanied by most of his tribe, marched off in a huff. A few days later Gore Browne explained to the settlers that, if Wirema Kingi should have a 'joint interest' in the land, it would not be purchased without his consent, but that he would not allow him to 'exercise his right of chieftainship' to prevent the sale.
The Governor had come to the conclusion that the Taranaki feuds, the shortage of lands for settlement, and therefore the danger of war, wee all due to the illegitimate interference of non-owners, whether Kingites, 'land leaguers', or chiefs, in land sales. he hoped that, by refusing to permit Kingi to bully Teira, he would be striking at the cause of the tension in the North Island. If he could resist unjust interference with Maori owners who wished to sell their land, while at the same time repudiating the demands of the settlers that he buy Maori land without waiting for the consent of all the owners, he might secure more land and establish a lasting peace.
This was how this policy in Taranaki appeared to Gore Browne. What he was actually doing was very different. to deny the rights of chiefs to a voice in land sales, on behalf of the tribe, was to abandon the established procedure of the Land Purchase Department. If the Government refused to hear the tribe speaking through the chiefs, there was no alternative but to buy land from any groups of Maori 'owners' who agreed to sell, which was not far from what the settlers had been demanding. The governor was agreeably surprised by his sudden popularity in New Plymouth. It is abundantly clear, from his public utterances and private journals, that he had no idea that he was introducing a revolution in land purchase methods. Although the rights of chiefs in land sales had been pointed out to him by a Board of Inquiry into Native Affairs which he had set up in 1856, he did not understand this fundamental aspect of Maori land tenure. he realized that Maori land was owned in common, but he did not realize that it belonged to the tribe as a whole, not merely to the hereditary occupants. His ignorance of the rights of the tribe and the chiefs was inexcusable; but he also imagined that the land-selling Maoris were in a majority, though too intimidated by the anti-landsellers to speak out. his was an error which was extremely dangerous. The Waitara purchase was not, however, merely a tragedy of good intentions thwarted by ignorance. From first to last Gore Browne was badly advised - or not advised.
When the Governor went to New Plymouth he had no intention of buying land. It would have been very foolish of him to have thought of doing so at the very moment when he was trying to stop the feuds. When Teira offered him land he was taken aback, though he would scarcely refuse it, having just advised the Maoris to sell more land. Quite unintentionally, he found himself involved in the most difficult aspect of racial relations, a land purchase agent, were, however, well aware of Teira's impending offer - indeed they had been busily engaged for two years to promoting it. They did not warn the Governor that his remarks on land purchase might be followed by Teira's offer, might indeed be interpreted as encouraging him to make it. Nor did McLean correct the Governor's error about the land rights of chiefs, though none knew them better than he.
After the meeting in New Plymouth McLean continued, as in the past, to act quite independently. the governor had emphasized that if Kingi were an 'owner', by which he meant if the chief had a joint claim based on a hereditary right of usufruct, the purchase would be given up. this was not, however, what McLean told Kingi. he informed him that if he owned any 'pieces' within the land owned by Teira, they would be excluded from the purchase. McLean proposed, in other words, to partition Maori land, as the local Provincial council had recently demanded. this move cut off the governor's retreat, for now it seemed to Kingi that he could not stop the sale either by speaking for the tribe or by laying claim to part of the land. he contented himself with a proud assertion of his right, on behalf of the tribe, to refuse the sale. He wrote to the Governor saying, 'I will not agree to our bedroom being sold (I mean Waitara here), for this bed belongs to the whole of us. ... All I have to way to you, O Governor, is that none of this land will be given to you, never, never, not till I die.' this simply confirmed the Governor, who had been affronted by Kingi's behaviour in walking out of his meeting, in his impression that Kingi was an impudent bully who imagined that he could defy him.
The investigation of the title to the Waitra by McLean and Parris was a farce. Most of the authorities, from the Governor down (on McLean's advice), assumed that Kingi had no claims to make. Gore Browne felt himself 'pledged to effect the purchase', and on several occasions urged Parris to hasten his inquiries as much as was prudent. Parris eventually decided that the title of Teira, and his few supporters, was in order. In November they wee paid an installment of the purchase money. Parris wrote to McLean asking him to come and conclude the deal. 'Now is the time for turning the tables - a little show of determination with the present favourable change, will settle the whole question if some liberal provision of land is made for all.'
It is now known that Wiremu Kingi, and a considerable number of other Maoris who refused to sell, had hereditary claims to parts of the block of land offered to the Government by Teira. The latter had quarreled with his chief over a woman, and sought revenge by selling the tribe's land to the European. 'He wahine, be whenua i mate ai te tangata,' said the Maoris - 'Women and land are the reasons why men die.' There is no reason for supposing that the authorities knew of Kingi's claims tot he Waitara, though it is hard to believe that these were unknown to McLean. they all knew, however, that Kingi and some three hundred followers were actually living on the land in question, and had lived there since their return to Taranaki in 1848. Normally the mere fact of occupation would - rightly - have been regarded as prima facie evidence of a title. But Parris and McLean alleged that all these Maoris were living on the land with the permission of the owners, Teira and the other sellers. To defend the alleged rights of some twenty Maori property-owners to sell without interference from their chief, the Government was prepared to evict three hundred Maoris from tribal territory. The Governor and his advisers were too emotionally involved in the purchase to see how it might appear - soon did appear - to more dispassionate observers. For different reasons, they all ardently desired to buy the Waitara. Parris had never made an important purchase. both as a local settler and as a land purchase officer he wanted this success. McLean had, for twelve years, been thwarted by Kingi in his efforts to buy the Waitara. As soon as Grey heard, in Cape Town, of the events of a 1859-60 in Taranaki (where he had in 1848 sent McLean to re-purchase the New Zealand company claim between New Plymouth and the Waitara) he remarked that he fancied McLean had a grudge against Kingi. For McLean and Parris, Teira's offer was an opportunity to 'turn the tables' on Kingi. C.W. Richmond, who was both native Minister and the elected representative of New Plymouth, would not stop the purchase. to him, Kingi was 'the bad genius of Taranaki'. On one occasion he made the extraordinary statement that 'Kingi's position at Waitara has been one of pure hostility to the interests of the settlement of which he has been occupying a part of the destined site.' The governor, having, as he wrote privately, decided 'to put an end to many Maori difficulties by a vigorous and decisive act', was anxious to demonstrate his firmness. with the government as enthusiastic as the settlers to acquire the Waitara, there was little chance of an impartial review of the facts.
By January 1860 Teira and his supporters, who had felt it wise to take refuge in New Plymouth, were growing impatient for the rest of the money, and wrote to the Governor complaining because the marriage of 'the beautiful woman, Waitara' - 'the land which we have given up to you' - was being deferred so long. 'This woman that we gave to you in the face of day is now lying cold. You had better turn her towards you and warm her that she may sleep comfortably in the middle of the bed.' The authorities decided to survey the land, an action which had already led directly to the Wairau massacre and the feuds in Taranaki. they did not expect Kingi to show fight, being convinced that a demonstration of force would call his bluff. On the day of the survey Kingi sent some old women to pull out the surveyors' pegs. Marital law was declared. A few days later, at the cost of one dead private, the troops captured an empty pa which Kingi had just built on the disputed land at Waitara. It was to be twelve years before the old chief laid down his arms.
the history of New Zealand was distinguished from that of previous British settlements by the fact that the country was annexed when the evangelical movement was at the height of its influence on colonial policy. new Zealand was intended to set the world an example of humane colonization. the ideal was not attained. Racial relations soon came to resemble those on other frontiers. that the British Government failed, in particular, to achieve its professed desire 'to avoid, if possible, the disasters and the guilt of a sanguinary conflict with the Native Tribes', is no occasion for surprise rather would it be a matter for astonishment if such wars, which seem everywhere to be part of the process of colonization, had not occurred. Humanitarianism was a plant which flourished in the hothouse of English evangelicalism; it was to be many years before it was acclimatized to the harsh conditions of the frontier. Exeter Hall, the Church Missionary Society, the Aborigines Protection society, and such bodies, set before Great Britain a noble aim. But what guidance did they offer to the governors of New Zealand when they were confronted by the bleak facts that the Maori nationalists and the settlers had incompatible ambitions, that the interests of the two races ere not identical? It is difficult to see a solution to the problem in Taranaki. to stop settlement would have been an answer, but it was politically impossible; when Fitzroy offered to remove the settlers, they refused to go. Grey and Wynyard were obliged to ignore what they could not remedy. Then Gore Browne started a war by trying to stop it. Whether wiser men could have succeeded where he failed is a question which few people would care to answer.
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