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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, May 02 (1840)


The New Zealand Question.—Opinions of The Press.

The Colonial Gazette of the 22nd ult. has some admirable remarks on the correspondence relative to New Zealand, under the title of "More Tricks of the Colonial Office," which are well worthy of the reader's careful attention.
The colonial public generally are much indebted to the Colonial Gazette for the vigilant "eye on the Colonial Office," which that journal keeps. Mr. Mothercountry and his faults have been already exposed. There is now no difficulty in perceiving that Mr. Stephen sat for the picture. He is the evil genius of the Colonial Office, and his removal is necessary, not merely for the peace and welfare of the Colonies, but also for the ease of the Colonial Minister. No Secretary of State is safe under his guidance. His acts would destroy the reputation of any minister, howsoever cautious. There is scarcely a Colony that does not attribute every thing in the way of bad legislation—every act of oppressive administration—every quartering of a poor gentleman upon them—to him. Many labours were attributed to Hercules which he did not perform; his power was great, and he absorbed all minor reputations. So others may oppress the Colonies—others may quarter their poor relations on them, besides Mr. James Stephen; but he being the great transgressor—the Hercules of colonial jobbing—all minor iniquities are attributed to him. This is the natural consequence of Mr. James Stephen's pre-eminence as a colonial jobber. He is known to have a tribe of poor relations in many of our Colonies; and where any one is jobbed into office, it is hard to make people believe that he does not belong to Mr. James Stephen.
The tricks exposed are three in number; of which the two last exhibit a degree of meanness, and even dishonesty, most disgraceful to the author. Now, if Lord John Russell has a due regard for his own reputation, he will at once disown participation in so dishonourable a proceeding.
The last trick exposed, namely, the reduction of the price of land in New Zealand, fully bears out what we stated in our last relative of the hatred exhibited by Mr. James Stephen towards the new principles of colonization, on account of their dangers to the poor-relation interest. In South Australia and other Colonies which may be hereafter established on the same principles, an occasional stray place may he at their disposal. Even now, in South Australia, a Stephen is, or was to be found. We cannot believe Lord John Russell had any participation in the "trick" in question. He has already spoken favourably of the principles, and he would scarcely so completely trifle with his own reputation as to abandon the principle in a country where there is no necessity for so doing.
Every special paper should do every thing in its power to procure the retirement, or removal, of Mr. James Stephen. If he were in the pay of France, which of course we are far from asserting, he could not more completely promote the views of that power than he has done. In the case of New Zealand, he has betrayed the interest of this country, and subserved those of France with great skill and ingenuity, regardless alike of the national honour and interest. With this preface, we proceed to the extract:—
Readers of the Colonial Gazette should be well acquainted with the influence which the managing Committee of the Church Missionary Society has long exerted in the Colonial Office. Three officers of the Society were recently the principal officers of that department; and one of them is so still—namely, Mr. Stephen-who may indeed be termed the principal officer of the Colonial Department at all times. Not very long ago, the principal officer of the Church Missionary Society at all times—the lay secretary, Mr. Dandeson Coates—used, according to the Court Circular, to "transact business at the Colonial Office," and to have "interviews with Lord Glenelg," like the Commander-in-Chief or a Governor getting his instructions. The Court Circular has been silent on this head ever since the Managing Committee of the Church Missionary Society, with Mr. Coates at their head, were accused of endeavouring first to conceal, and then to justify and encourage missionary land-sharking in New Zealand. Mr. Coates, and the majority of the Committee who support him, are on their trial before the Society and the public on the charge of allowing the funds of the Society to be expended in land speculations by the missionaries. The more the subject is inquired into, the less creditable does their conduct appear; more especially after Mr. Coates's public denunciation of land-sharking by others as a dishonest practice, tending to the extermination of the natives.* They wish, therefore, just at present, to avoid rather than attract observation. But they had so large a share in the proceedings by which, in 1831, the British Government set up a mockery of native sovereignty in New Zealand, that the Colonial Office, having now to make out a case of apology for its abandonment of New Zealand to convict colonization by France, has been compelled to produce part of the Missionary correspondence which took place at the time, in order to show how the alleged native sovereignty was established.
Mr. Mothercountry, therefore, prints a letter to the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales from the Rev. Mr. Yate, who was for some years at the head of the Church Mission in New Zealand. As the Reverend Mr. Yate, he is well known to have filled that office. But the "Enclosure 2 in No. 1," (Correspondence, page 7,) is described as "from William Yate, Esquire"! The reverend author of a popular book on New Zealand is made to pass for a layman. Clerical meddling with the politics and government of the islands is thus kept out of sight. The trick was worthy of Mr. Mothercountry.
No. 20 (page 49), being the extract of a despatch from Lord John Russell to Governor Sir George Gipps, contains the following passage:—
"With respect to the administration of justice, still greater difficulty may occur. The correspondence on that subject with the New Zealand Land Company has ended by a withdrawal of their instructions, and an injunction to aid and assist Captain Hobson."
This was written on the 4th of last Decembers and it refers to a letter from the Secretary to the Agent of the Company, dated 14th November, of which a copy was transmitted to Lord John Russell on the 23d November. From Lord John's despatch it would be inferred, that until the said 14th November the Company had been unwilling to assist, or perhaps desirous to thwart Captain Hobson, and that they had then altered their minds with respect to Captain Hobson's mission, or at least the instructions to their servants, at the instance of the Colonial Office. The Company is thus represented in an unfavourable, and the Office in a favourable light—but in both cases most untruly. For on referring to the letter in question from the Company to their Agent, (Enclosure 2 in No. 30,) we find this passage:—
"With reference to my letter of the 16th September last, I am again desired to impress on you the anxious wish of the Directors, that you and all the servants of the Company should do whatever may be in your power to promote the success of Captain Hobson's mission, and to accelerate as much as possible the time when it is to be hoped that he, as her Majesty's representative, may establish a British authority, and the regular application of English law, not only in the Company's settlements, but throughout the islands of New Zealand."
The very passage to which Lord John alludes as evincing a change of purpose in the Company, told him that no such change had occurred, but that they had long before instructed their servants to promote the success of Captain Hobson's mission by all the means in their power. The order which he describes as the result of his correspondence with them, obtained on the 14th November, was but the repetition of an order given two months earlier—that is, before the correspondence began! Let us hope, for Lord John Russell's sake, that the despatch in question was written by Mr. Mothercountry.
We wish the more to believe that this despatch was not written by Lord John Russell, on account of a part of it which is very discreditable to the writer, be he who he may: here it is—
"I have to inform you, that since the date of the instructions addressed to you by the Marquis of Normanby, respecting New Zealand, a large body of persons have embarked for those islands.
"I transmit to you, for your information, copies of a correspondence on this subject, between this department and Mr. George Frederick Young.
"However unjustifiable may be the course taken by 'the New Zealand Land Company,' the persons who have embarked, being for the most part ignorant of the relations between this country and the New Zealanders, and not aware of the distinction between New Zealand and any of her Majesty's possessions in Australia, are to be regarded with consideration and kindness.
"At this distance from the scene of their destination, I find it impossible to fetter the discretion of Captain Hobson by any instructions from which he cannot depart without reference to this country.
"I therefore authorise you to set Captain Hobson at liberty with respect to certain parts of his instructions, which he may feel it impracticable or highly inexpedient to execute.
"In particular, with regard to the sale of land, it may be found impossible to realise the price of 12s an acre, while that price is not demanded either at Sydney, or in Western Australia, or in Van Diemen's Land. He may therefore reduce the price to 5s until the higher price is the usual upset price in the Australian settlements."
It is plain from this, that Captain Hobson had been directed to dispose of no land which should be ceded to the Crown at a lower price than 12s per acre. He is suddenly instructed to "reduce the price" to 5s. And wherefore?-because "a large body of persons have embarked for those islands." This alleged reason is utterly irrational, since the greater the number of emigrants to New Zealand, the more easy will it be to obtain a high price for waste land. The emigrants, moreover, have paid 20s per acre for their land, and may be very much injured if the Government should sell fresh land at so low a price as 5s. But then, if they should be so injured, the Colonial Office will get its revenge on these emigrants for having dared to settle in New Zealand without its consent. The change in Captain Hobson's instructions with respect to the price of land is merely a piece of Colonial Office vengeance. The despatch which we have quoted was manifestly written in a pet. It was a mean spite which induced Lord John Russell, or the writer of the despatch, which he signed, to direct a reduction in the minimum price of land from 12s to 5s. But the injury from this change will not be confined to the emigrants whom Mr. Mothercountry wants to punisn for having set him at defiance. The principal sufferers from the great cheapness of land in New Zealand, as we have more than once pointed out before, will be the landowners and capitalists of the Australian Colonies. One result of this
paltry trick will be to check the sales in public land in New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, and South Australia—perhaps to stop them altogether for a time. We have already heard of cases in which capital, destined for the purchase of waste land at Port Philip and in South Australia, has been transferred to New Zealand, in order to be invested at the rate of 5s per acre, according to Lord John Russell's last direction to Captain Hobson. So long as capitalists can obtain land for 5s per acre in New Zealand, they will not hesitate to pay for the emigration of labourers I from the neighbouring settlements: and thus, while the Emigration funds of the Australian Colonies are diminished, their existing stock of labour will also be decreased. In order to ruin the emigrants to New Zealand, from a motive of revenge, Lord John Russell seems determined to ruin other colonists who have given him no offence. He may not, indeed, be the author of all this trickery and malicious cruelty; but by giving it the sanction of his name, he takes it on himself, and makes the burden his own. The sins of Mr. Mothercountry are a heavy load to bear. Under it broke down the high reputations of Lord Glenelg and Lord Normanby; and Lord John Russell's seems likely to be destroyed by its weight.
The Spectator, too, has an article on the correspondence, which must not be omitted. It is entitled "Colonization of New Zealand:"—
The attempt of the French Government to establish a penal colony in New Zealand, the public meeting at Guildhall on Wednesday, and the publication of "Correspondence with the Secretary of State, relative to New Zealand," render this the prominent subject of the week. We shall therefore dwell on it at sufficient length to make the present state of the case intelligible to our readers.
It will save time to begin by reprinting the following extract from the Spectator of the 5th October last—
"Upon the whole, the affair is in a complete mess. All this was long since foretold by persons well acquainted with the subject. The suggestions of the New Zealand Association of 1837, on which the instructions to Captain Hobson are founded, might have been suitable to the then state of things, but are wholly inapplicable now. Since Lord Howick's crotchetiness prevented the passing of a law for the regular colonization of New Zealand, the mischiefs of irregular colonization have been proceeding apace. The Colonial Office will not cure them except by retracing its steps, and starting afresh from the safe point of British sovereignty established by Cook in 1769, and formally asserted by the Crown of England in 1814. This would cut the knot of a thousand difficulties. This, too, is the most legitimate mode of proceeding—the one least open, or rather not at all open, to question. Finally, this is the only way of averting fresh difficulties which are growing in Paris, By acknowledging as to all New Zealand the mock sovereignty of the native savages, which Lord Howick set up in 1831 as to a little bit of one of the islands only, the Government provides a store of confusion and trouble for its subjects and itself; and it also invites foreigners to colonize a land which had better toe covered by the waters than possessed by any nation but the English."
The "fresh difficulties" have exceeded our worst anticipations. The French Government having been "invited" by ours to colonize New Zealand, has set about the work in good earnest, by granting men and money to a company for that purpose. But if France has a right to plant a colony in New Zealand, she is equally entitled to determine what sort of a colony it shall be. She decides that it shall be a convict colony. The petition adopted by the Guildhall meeting (which will be found in another page) sufficiently states the evil tendency of this proceeding. The result of the neglect and folly of our own Government in this matter is even more disastrous than anybody anticipated.
The public has nevertheless supposed until now, that our Government had at least taken sufficient precautions to establish law and order in the British settlements that might be formed in New Zealand; but it now appears, not only that the Government has been exceedingly remiss on this point, but that it has actively interfered to prevent the British settlers for establishing law and order for themselves. The instructions to Captain Hobson direct that any exercise of authority by him must be preceded by acts that may never be performed: pains seem to have been taken to render it probable that his situation, to use words applied to the former resident at the Bay of Islands, will be "like that of a man-of-war without guns"-that he will be only a spectator of anarchy without the least power to restrain or protect: and yet the twelve hundred emigrants from this country are threatened with the vengeance of the Government, if they should carry into effect their agreement to repress crime in the settlement according to the laws of England. It is Lord John Russell who utters the threat, though he does nothing to remedy the supineness or the blunders of his predecessors. His figure in the affair is even more discreditable than that of Lord Normanby or Lord Glenelg.*
When the requisition appeared for a meeting to petition Parliament on this subject, Lord John Russell hastened to lay on the table of the House of Commons the "Correspondence" which is now before us. Having carefully examined the contents of this Blue Book, we have no hesitation in saying that it has been made up for the sole purpose of exculpating the Government. Various important documents are suppressed, while others are inserted which have been recently composed with the obvious design of justifying the strange conduct of the Government throughout this affair: and the whole is so arranged as to make it appear that the present mess was inevitable. This trickery will be easily frustrated.
The last paper in the collection is a "Memorandum" transmitted by Mr. Stephen to the Foreign Office on the 18th of March 1840; and which may be described as an earnest pleading for the right of any foreign power to colonize New Zealand. This is the case of the Colonial Office and the Government. The Crown of England, say they, has over and over again repudiated all sovereign rights in New Zealand; and therefore the Government was not bound either to interfere with any design of France, or to provide against anarchy in settlements formed by emigrants from Britain: inasmuch as England had no sovereignty, we did well to assert none, but rather to try and obtain cession thereof from the natives: and let what may happen in the meanwhile, the fault will not be ours, but will be due to circumstances over which we had no control.
This argument rests entirely on the assumption that England has repudiated all sovereigns rights in New Zealand. But as good lawyers as Mr. Stephen deny that assumption in toto. They deny it on the same grounds as would justify the United States in asserting against all foreign nations that general sovereign right which they exercise over savage tribes, such as the Cherokee and other Indian natives, with whom they enter into treaties and hold a sort of diplomatic relations, but with whom they would not permit any foreign nation to establish any political relations whatever. Mr. Stephen seems entirely ignorant of the distinction between sovereignty as against foreign nations, and sovereignty modified with respect to savage tribes by various recognitions of their nationality. He dwells emphatically on acts of the British Crown and Parliament which have acknowledged a New Zealand nationality, but seems wholly unconscious of the numerous acts of the President and Congress of America, whereby they have acknowledged the nationality of several Indian tribes, as between those tribes and the United States, but without in any degree repudiating that general sovereign right, as against all foreign nations, which is founded on discovery. He appears to be profoundly ignorant of the very point on which this whole question turns. And yet, strange to say, the Blue Book contains despatches both from Lord Normanby and Lord John Russell which should have informed him better. We allude to one from Lord Normanby to Captain Hobson, dated 15th August 1839, whereby the latter is directed to "assert her Majesty's sovereign right on the ground of discovery," without going through "the ceremonial of making such arrangements with the natives as would be a mere illusion and pretence;" and to one from Lord John Russell to Sir George Gipps, dated 4th December, 1889, which recognises the previous direction to "establish the Queen's authority" on the ground of discovery. This order applies, indeed, exclusively to one of the two large islands; the reason assigned for the distinction being, that the natives of this South Island are less numerous and less intelligent than those of the North Island. The matter of fact may be disputed: the recent accounts from Cook's Straits represent the people of the South Island as equally numerous and intelligent with those of the other; but supposing that it were not so, what on earth has this distinction to do with the question of international law? All those steps of the British Government on which is founded Mr. Stephen's argument in favour of France, related without the shadow of a distinction to the whole—of the islands called New Zealand; and if they have repudiated British sovereignty in one place, so have they in every other. If the elaborate argument with which Mr. Stephen winds up this "Correspondence," has any force, Lord Normanby and Lord John Russell have directed Captain Hobson to usurp a British sovereignty over the South Island in defiance of the law of nations. Mr. Stephen condemns two of his chiefs in succession. Or, if they are in the right and he in the wrong on this subject, as respects the South Island, then they are in the wrong as respects the North Island; he is in the wrong as to both islands; and his argument must be regarded as mere special-pleading for the purpose of excusing their folly as to the North Island, and their cruel treatment of the British emigrants whom they have left a prey to foreign aggression and domestic anarchy. In this light his argument will be viewed by all who carefully examine the papers.
But not in this light only; for, whatever the object of Mr. Stephen's "Memorandum," its manifest tendency is to encourage the pretensions of France. One might suppose that the paper had been written in the Foreign Office at Paris. In order to get the Government out of a scrape, Mr. Stephen is employed to do that which both favours the French project of a convict settlement in New Zealand, and tends to preserve a state of anarchy in the British settlements already established there. This is the plain truth of the matter. This affair alone justifies the hearty groans which came from all parts of the meeting at Guildhall when Mr. Stephen's name was mentioned in connexion with the Colonial Office.
But much yet remains to be exposed. At present we have only time to notice one of the many suppressions before alluded to. It is that of the whole of the correspondence between the Government and the New Zealand Association of 1837. These papers will be asked for, and must, one should think, be produced, notwitstanding Lord Howick's and Lord Melbourne's natural objections to their seeing the light. Among them is a despatch from Lord Glenelg to Lord Durham, from which it will appear how completely the present denial of British sovereignty in New Zealand is an afterthought of the Government. Lord Glenelg says—
"Colonization to no small extent is already effected in these islands. The only question, therefore, is between colonization, desultory, without law, and fatal to the natives, and a colonization organised and salutary. Her Majesty's Government are, therefore, disposed to entertain the proposal of establishing such a Colony. They are willing to consent to the incorporation by a royal charter of various persons, to whom the settlement and government of the projected Colony, for some short term of years, would be confided. The charter would be framed with reference to the precedents of the Colonies established in North America by Great Britain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."
Here, then, the right of England to proceed on the discovery of Capt. Cook, and other acts by which a general sovereignty had been established, is treated as a matter of course. This offer of a royal charter was refused by Lord Durham and his coadjutors, on the ground that they were unwilling to become a joint-stock company, or to take any pecuniary interest in the work of colonizing New Zealand. They therefore brought a bill into Parliament for establishing a public system of colonization. This bill, although it had been corrected and approved by Lord Howick as the organ of the Government, was thrown out at the instance of the Government and of Lord Howick in particular; and then, but not till then, Lord Glenelg's. proposal was adopted and the present New Zealand Company was formed. We mention the facts for the purpose of exposing the gross inconsistency of the Government, not less in their present eager, repudiation of a British sovereignty over New Zea-
land than in Lord John Russell's childishly-spiteful refusal even to acknowledge the existence of the present Company.* But far more has yet to be explained, before all the carelessness, the vacillation, the treachery, and the paltry meanness of the Government in this affair, can be understood by the public. We rejoice to hear that an able and much-respected Member of the House of Commons has undertaken to bring the whole subject before Parliament immediately after the recess.


In a published Letter to Lord Glenelg, 1833.


See Letters to Lord John Russell from Mr. Somes, Deputy-Governor of the New Zealand Company, and from the Secretary of the Company to Colonel Wakefield.-Correspondence, pp. 66 and 60.


See Mr. Somes' Letter to Lord Palmerston, in our last.

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