§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I rise, Sir, in pursuance of the notice I have given, to ask permission of the House to introduce a Bill for the purpose of suspending some of the most important provisions of the Act of Parliament which was passed in the last year—towards the close of the Session of 1846—to make provision for the government of the colony of New Zealand; and I shall endeavour to state to the House, as clearly and as shortly as I can, both the reasons which induce Her Majesty's Government to think it was their duty to recommend this course to the House, and an outline of the main provisions of the measure which I shall ask the House to agree to as a means of providing for the local government of that colony. Those Members of the House who have paid any attention to the affairs of this important colony, will recollect that there was in the year 1846 a very general concurrence of opinion on the part of those who had at all considered its concerns, that it was exceedingly desirable to introduce a constitutional government into that country. I think there were petitions from the inhabitants of that colony to that effect presented to this House; it was also urged upon us by the New Zealand Company, whose stake in that colony and whose attention to that colony are so great, and I think that in the discussions which took place, both in this House and the other House of Parliament, almost all the leading statesmen of the country expressed a desire that as soon as possible a beginning at least should be made with a view to introduce a constitutional and representative government into the colony of New Zealand. That was the state of things when Her Majesty's present advisers came into office; and my noble Friend who holds the seals of the Colonial Department immediately applied himself to the consideration of this important subject. I believe I am correct in stating that he found on record in his office the determination of the Government that preceded us to introduce some measure of this description for the government of New Zealand; at all events, he thought it to be his duty, with as little delay as possible, to mature such a scheme for the purpose as he 1004 thought on the whole would be suited to the circumstances of the case. The result was, that a Bill was introduced into Parliament towards the close of the Session of 1846, which passed, I believe, very nearly unanimously through this and the other House of Parliament, by which Her Majesty was empowered to give a charter to the colony, and issue instructions which were to regulate the future government of New Zealand. Sir, the main provisions of the Act of 1846, and the letters patent which issued under it, were to the following effect: The colony of New Zealand was divided into two provinces, which were designated by the names of New Ulster and New Munster. Municipal districts were constituted, or at least power was given to the Governor to constitute municipal districts, with town-councils, in all those parts of New Zealand where there was some considerable number of English colonists; and those municipal districts thus constituted were made the foundation and nucleus of the system of representative government which it was sought to rear upon them. Those districts were to elect representatives for two legislatures—one for each of the two provinces of New Zealand—and there was also to be a General Assembly of both provinces, to be elected by the two legislatures, which General Assembly was to take into consideration certain subjects of great interest to both districts, such as taxation, and questions of that sort. This Act was to come into effect as soon as the letters patent were proclaimed by the Government of New Zealand. This is the general outline of the plan of constitutional government that was adopted for that colony pursuant to the Act of Parliament. I should mention as to one other important and difficult point of this subject—I mean the position of the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand with reference to these institutions—that that part of the subject was proposed to be settled in the following manner: It was proposed that those municipal districts should only comprise those parts of New Zealand in which there was resident some considerable number of white inhabitants. With regard to that great tract of country occupied almost exclusively by the aboriginal inhabitants of the island, it was not proposed to bring it immediately within the scope or pale of these institutions. It was thought that the aboriginal inhabitants themselves were not properly ripe for institutions of this kind; and the difficulty and hazard were 1005 foreseen of subjecting them to the control of the white inhabitants. It was endeavoured to provide for that difficulty in this manner, by securing the enjoyment of their own laws and customs to all that great portion of New Zealand which was not included within the municipal districts, and taking care, as had been done in the instructions sent out, that the New Zealanders in those parts should be adequately secured, while the assemblies to be constituted should be prevented from interfering unduly with the rights, habits, or customs of the aboriginal inhabitants. This, Sir, is the outline of the scheme that was sent out to the Governor of New Zealand. The reasons which have induced Her Majesty's Government to propose now to suspend the operation of this constitution, are contained in despatches which have been received from the Governor of New Zealand; and when I mention the name of the present Governor of New Zealand, I think every person acquainted with the affairs of that colony will admit that any opinion expressed by him should have the greatest weight with this House and with Her Majesty's Government. And, as the result of his examination of the plan proposed by the Government, he states the greatest objection to be entertained by him to bringing this constitution at present into effect in New Zealand. We feel that the objections he makes are supported by the great weight of authority which naturally belongs to a person of his proved ability and diligence residing on the spot, and therefore much more able to judge of the local circumstances of the island, than we can at a distance of several thousands of miles. And any person who has perused the letter of Governor Grey on this plan of a constitution, will perceive that he gives very valid reasons for the alarm he feels at being called upon to promulgate this constitution. There is, however, one satisfaction at least in the difficulties that we experience in this island, and it is this, that the objections which Governor Grey states to the introduction of these institutions into New Zealand at present, rest upon a remarkable description he gives of the knowledge, improvement, and intelligence of the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand. Governor Grey says—It is quite true, you have attempted to protect them from injustice, by guaranteeing and fencing their rights from the English minority; but, after all, it comes to this—you have left to the English minority the power of making laws in the Legislative Assembly, and of imposing du- 1006 ties which will be mainly paid by the aboriginal inhabitants of this island.He describes these islanders as possessing much property, as perfectly understanding the value of property—as exceedingly anxious to acquire and retain it—and, above all, as possessing intelligence to perceive that any duty thus levied would be paid by them. He says that great dissatisfaction under such a system would prevail in New Zealand; indeed, to such a degree, that he fears it would load to tumult and insurrection, if the whites had in this way the power of taxing the great body of the people. And this he says would more particularly take place in the northern province, in New Ulster. That is the main objection he has to the immediate introduction of this constitutional and representative government into the colony of New Zealand at present; and the expressions of Governor Grey on the point are so forcibly and clearly put, that perhaps the House will allow me to read them:—By the introduction (said Governor Grey) of the proposed constitution into the provinces of New Zealand, Her Majesty's Ministers would not confer, as it was intended, upon Her subjects the blessings of self-government, but would be giving power to a small minority. She would not be giving to Her subjects the right to manage their affairs as they might think proper, but would be giving to a small minority a power to raise taxes from the great majority. There was no reason to think (continued Governor Grey) that the majority of the aboriginal inhabitants would be satisfied with the rule of the minority; while there were many reasons for believing that they would resist to the uttermost. They were a people of strong natural sense and ability, but by nature jealous and suspicious. Many of them were owners of vessels, horses, and cattle, and had considerable sums of money at their disposal; and there was no people he was acquainted with less likely to sit down quietly under what they might regard as an injustice.Sir, I think there is this satisfaction on reading this account, that the House must be convinced that in the aboriginal population of New Zealand there is a nation extremely deserving of the greatest care and attention of this House, and who, if they are treated with consideration, policy, and humanity, will, I hope, form an exception from that which I regret to say has been almost hitherto the undeviating fate of those savage nations who come in contact with their civilised fellow-men. We may hope, I trust, that the people of Mew Zealand will form an exception to that rule, and by care may be gradually but completely assimilated to us in habits and constitutional practice, and that they may 1007 amalgamate with Englishmen as one race, each enjoying British institutions, British religion, and British liberty. Sir, my noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office, as well as his Colleagues of Her Majesty's Government, on receiving this despatch containing an opinion so decided, and so strongly supported by such valid arguments, from so high an authority as Governor Grey, did not hesitate as to the course which they would adopt and recommend to the House. I think it would be the height of rashness, if, in contradiction to an opinion of this kind—if, in opposition to the representations of Governor Grey, we attempted to force institutions on the colony, which, however valuable they may be themselves, may at present prove objectionable. I trust those institutions will prove a blessing to that colony, when introduced with discretion and proper feeling; but I repeat it would be the height of rashness to risk the peace of that colony, by forcing, without due consideration and. preparation, those institutions upon its people. On a perusal of that despatch the noble Lord the Colonial Secretary thought it best at once to suspend the operation of a portion of the Act. It is proposed that only a portion of the Act should be suspended. It is not proposed to suspend that portion of the Act which provides municipal institutions—we think such a form of government may safely be allowed for local purposes. It would form a nucleus upon which to establish a representative government for the whole colony; we reserving to ourselves the right of laying down the details, and determining the qualifications and proportions of those representations. We shall leave that part of the Act which relates to municipal institutions untouched. In the Act of 1846 it was proposed that the qualification to vote in the election of representatives should be the possession of a house, and the ability to read and write in the English language. It was then supposed that in those parts of New Zealand to which the Act referred, there were very few aboriginal inhabitants possessed of the qualification, and that it would be extremely improper to exclude them. On inquiry it was found, however, that, although great numbers of the aborigines could read and write their own language, hardly any of them knew how either to read or write English. Now, we are of opinion that the possession of a house, and the capability of writing their own lan- 1008 guage, shows a sufficient capacity for business to entitle them to vote. In several places there are German and French settlers. These are men of education, intelligence, and respectability—they can read and write their own language perfectly well, but they cannot read and write the English language. We propose that the Governor shall give certificates to all respectable persons—whether foreigners or aborigines—so circumstanced, and that they shall have the power of voting in the municipal elections. The provisions of the Bill are shortly these: Firstly, it proposes to suspend the operation of the Act of 1846 for a period of five years. Secondly, it provides that the old Legislative Council of 1840, with power to add to their number, shall—with the Governor for the time being—be clothed with unlimited legislative power; that they shall nominate a resident governing power for New Ulster, or they shall order such governing power to be chosen by election. It is, in fact, intended to retain the old Charter of 1846, with the addition and alteration of the municipal franchise. It will at once be perceived that the very nature of the measure is to confer a large discretionary power on the Governor. And in so doing, I believe that we shall be pursuing the wisest and the safest course for the inhabitants of New Zealand, and for the interests of this country. It is extremely difficult in cases of this kind, when we are legislating for parties residing thousands of miles from us, to avoid falling into great and serious errors; and if this be taken as a general maxim, well to be acted upon in every case, how does it apply with a double force to the case of New Zealand! Here we have a large country, with a population but recently emerged from a state of complete barbarism to one of comparative civilisation; a population possessing an extreme aptitude for all the arts and comforts of civilised life—embracing voluntarily, and almost universally, the doctrines of the Christian religion. When we consider that there are scattered amid this numerous and interesting population but a small portion of our countrymen—a small portion of Europeans—I think we must confess that there is every reason for more than common caution in legislating with respect to New Zealand. Her Majesty's Government came to the conclusion that some very simple scheme—some temporary measure—leaving to the Governor and his Council large discretionary powers as to the course to be taken, would 1009 be the wisest policy at the present moment. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to trouble the House further at this stage. Those documents from which I have quoted contain a most substantial and complete narrative of the circumstances which led to the evils so clearly, ably, and lucidly stated by Governor Grey in his despatch. They are also very fully and with great ability stated by the noble Lord Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies. In those documents will be seen the reasons for partially retracing the steps which the House and Her Majesty's Government had previously come to. There is one part of Governor Grey's despatch which says that he feared there would be the greatest difficulty in promulgating the Charter in some parts of New Zealand, and that it was only in one portion of the island that he would recommend its promulgation for the present. Now we come to the conclusion that there would be more evil in establishing the Charter of 1846 in one part only than in its postponement altogether. We recommended that it should be suspended. According to the despatches of Governor Grey, it would seem that the preliminary steps for the promulgation of the Charter had only just commenced; the Act will therefore lead to no practical inconvenience. Governor Grey will soon hear of the intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers, and we may safely leave the matter to Governor Grey. I cannot sit down without expressing the gratification I feel at bearing my humble testimony to the private worth and public energy of His Excellency. Under his wise and temperate management, a great alteration in the social and trading position of the colony has been effected—good feeling and harmony have been restored—and I trust, we may confidently look forward to the time when New Zealand will become a most valuable and useful possession of the British Crown. I will conclude by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to suspend the operation of part of the Act for making further provision for the government of the New Zealand Islands.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
entirely agreed with many of the observations which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman; and he was more especially ready to re-echo the expressions which had been used by the right lion. Member with respect to the character and conduct of Governor Grey. He had been glad to hear the terms in which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken 1010 of the native inhabitants of New Zealand; because he did not think that, on all occasions, there had been an equal disposition to recognise the great capabilities and noble qualities of the aboriginal race. He considered that they had, in the case of the islands of New Zealand—with, perhaps, the single exception of their West India Islands—the most interesting and hopeful instance of juxtaposition between European civilisation and aboriginal races which the world could present; and he believed that if the House would exhibit towards the New Zealanders that paternal care and tenderness which it was their bounden duty to extend to them, they might witness a satisfactory, a peaceful, and glorious issue to the Christian, philanthropic, and enlightened labour which had been bestowed upon the colony. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) had stated that the late Government had left upon record proofs of their desire to grant free and representative institutions to New Zealand. The statement was perfectly true; but there had undoubtedly been a difference of opinion between the late and the present Governments as to the most speedy and effectual method of realising that great object. It was the opinion of the late Government that the best mode of attaining that end was to incur, in the first instance, the delay of a reference to Governor Grey. When he had the honour of holding the seals of the Colonial Office, the Government believed that any steps which would have the effect of binding the hands of Governor Grey, or of committing the authority of the Government or of Parliament to the particular form of the institutions to be adopted in New Zealand, would be ill-advised, and would be likely ultimately to lead to the loss of time which such measures were intended, in the first instance, to avoid. He readily gave the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department the greatest credit, not only for the motives by which he had been governed, but for the zeal and energy with which he had proceeded in the execution of this portion of his duties; but he must say, that he thought the noble Earl's zeal had in this particular instance a little outrun his discretion, and that he would have more effectually consulted the dignity of the Crown and the welfare of New Zealand, had the noble Earl been content to refer to Governor Grey, and to obtain his deliberate judgment on the subject, rather than to anticipate what that judgment might be, 1011 and send out instructions which, however ingeniously devised and plainly expressed, were almost certain to be ill suited to the actual circumstances of the moment in New Zealand. With regard to this Bill, he considered that the right hon. Gentleman by whom it had been brought forward, had made out a good case; but, at the same time, he must say that some of the provisions of the measure appeared to be of a peculiar nature. He did not make this observation with a view of impeaching its wisdom; but he thought it was a reason for abstaining from any detailed discussion of the provisions of the Bill until they had had an opportunity of giving it mature consideration. As far as he understood the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, his proposal almost amounted to placing the whole discretionary power with respect to representative institutions in the hands of the Governor; that certainly was, on the one hand, a very extraordinary demand; but, on the other hand, he was free to say that, according to his judgment, there never was a man in whose hands extraordinary powers could be more safely placed than in those of the present Governor of New Zealand. He considered that everything that could be done upon the principle of placing confidence in an individual, and in deference to the principle of allowing local knowledge and experience to prevail over speculations formed at a vast distance, ought to be done with respect to the Bill about to be laid upon the table. He would not on this occasion enter further into a discussion of the Bill; but he begged to say a few words on a portion of the subject which had been referred to by Earl Grey in his despatches—he alluded to the disposal of the public lands in New Zealand. At the commencement of the present Session he inquired whether it were the intention of the Government to lay upon the table the answer of Governor Grey to the despatch of Earl Grey, dated the 23rd of December, 1846, and particularly that portion of the answer which related to the disposal of public lands. He also asked whether the reply of Earl Grey to that answer would be presented to the House. In the papers which had been delivered that morning, he found the acknowledgment by Governor Grey of the arrival of Earl Grey's despatch; and also a second despatch of the same date from Governor Grey, referring to a protest of the Bishop of New Zealand; but he did not find any despatch referring to that por- 1012 tion of Earl Grey's despatch which related to the disposal of public lands. He concluded, however, that if such a despatch had arrived it would speedily be laid upon the table, and that if it had not arrived they would not have long to wait for it; but in the absence of the important information which he was anxious to obtain from the document to which he referred, he should occupy the time of the House unprofitably if he entered upon a discussion of this subject. The despatch of Earl Grey, which closed the papers that had to-day been laid on the table, referred to the protest of the Bishop of New Zealand, dated the 1st of July, 1847, in which the Bishop, assuming and believing that Earl Grey's despatch on the disposal of public lands asserted doctrines at variance with the Treaty of Waitangai, deemed it his duty to protest against such doctrines, and stated that he would think it proper to instruct the people committed to his charge in the rights which they had acquired as British subjects under that treaty. Of course the merits of that protest depended essentially on the main question, whether Earl Grey's despatch was really at variance with the Treaty of Waitangai—a question which at that time he would not discuss. But, passing by that question for a moment, he must say he hoped the House would recollect the peculiar position in which the Bishop stood with respect to the enforcement of that treaty. He confessed that at first sight a protest like this, with regard to a civil matter, had much the aspect of a gratuitous and wanton interference on the part of a spiritual person with civil and political affairs; but any attention to the course of events must convince hon. Gentlemen that there was no ground for such a charge in this case. He would also presume to say that the slightest knowledge of the character of the Bishop of New Zealand would convince any Gentleman that there was no person less disposed to mix in such matters, or more entirely and ardently and exclusively devoted to the duties of his sacred calling. Nay, he (Mr. Gladstone) would even say that the Bishop of New Zealand had a shrinking aversion to political affairs, and that he was most anxious to draw clearly and broadly the line of demarcation between his office and the functions of the civil magistrates. But in this particular instance the clergy were the chosen instruments of the Government for contracting the Treaty of Waitangai, and establishing the govern- 1013 ment of the Queen. That treaty was made known to the natives through the medium of the clergy, to whom its construction was in a great degree committed; and it therefore became the duty of the clergy, and of the Bishop at their head, to see that public faith, as conveyed through them, was carefully guarded and kept strictly inviolate. On the ground, therefore, of maintaining and vindicating the pledges given by the clergy to the native population, and not from any general disposition to interfere in civil matters, the Bishop had found it necessary to make himself a party to what he believed the Bishop would otherwise have gladly avoided. He did not anticipate that in that House this primâ facie objection to the proceeding of the Bishop would be taken by any one acquainted with the affair. There was, however, in the despatch of Earl Grey, one assumption which he thought was important on the one hand, as it was clearly erroneous on the other. The noble Earl said, that he did not for a moment doubt the sincerity of the assertions made by the Bishop; but he feared it was impossible that language such as that of the protest could be announced to a people who had so lately emerged from habits of the most savage barbarism, without producing very serious consequences. He confessed that he should have been disposed to agree in opinion with the noble Earl, if this document had been addressed by the Bishop to the natives; but he did not find in the protest any indication that it was intended for the cognizance of the natives. Although he knew nothing of the existence of the protest until that day, he could not believe that it had been intended to be made public in the colony; and he must continue to believe so in the absence of all direct information to the contrary. It was perfectly consistent with all the known circumstances to suppose that the Bishop had addressed the protest to Her Majesty's Representative at the head of the civil Government, as a person for whom he had the utmost respect, in whom he placed confidence, and whose authority he was desirous in every way to support, and to whom he thought it his duty to give the first notice of the appearance of any circumstance which seemed likely to divide the duties of the bishopric from the duties of the Government. If that should prove to be the case, he apprehended that the Bishop would not be open to the charge of having addressed language which was 1014 likely to operate on the feelings of a native race of excitable temperament under the circumstances which Lord Grey assumed. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, when he should answer his inquiry relative to the despatch of Governor Grey with respect to public lands, would also state whether the Government were in possession of any information which showed that the protest was published by the Bishop in the colony, or whether—for anything the Government knew to the contrary—he might not be right in presuming that the protest was only a communication addressed to the Governor himself by the Bishop, in which the latter expressed his strong and conscientious feeling with regard to what he deemed the breach of a solemn treaty between Her Majesty and the native chiefs? If the despatch of Lord Grey could be reconciled with the Treaty of Waitangi—if it were conceived in the spirit of that treaty—it was an unfortunate circumstance that the despatch should have been misapprehended by an individual possessing such weight—derived both from his own personal character and the sacred office which he filled—as the Bishop. All who were acquainted with the character of the Bishop must be aware that he was not less distinguished for the sobriety of his disposition than for the prudence and practical bearing of every step he took, as well as for his ardent enthusiasm in the discharge of the duties of his calling. Nothing could be more improbable than that the Bishop should have gratuitously addressed to the native population language which, he must admit, it would be most unwise to use in appealing to them. He earnestly hoped that, for the sake of the Bishop himself, and for the sake of the individual charged with the responsibility of maintaining the peace of the colony and the authority of the Crown, the supposition on which Lord Grey had proceeded with respect to the protest would prove to be erroneous—that the introduction of the Bill would meet with general assent—and that after the recess it would obtain from the House a degree of consideration proportionate to its importance.
MR. V. SMITH
had listened with sorrow to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who proposed to introduce this Bill; because he had hoped, after all that had been done with respect to New Zealand, that the colony would at last be allowed a little repose. He concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in looking upon New Zea- 1015 land as being the colony most congenial in feeling and interest to the mother country of any we possessed. It resembled England in soil and climate, and the aborigines possessed much of the energy, enterprise, and intelligence, which distinguished the Saxon race. These circumstances gave the colony a peculiar interest in the eyes of the people of this country. He suggested that when they were about to suspend the political constitution of the colony, it would be as well to suspend its territorial constitution also. There was no person to whom he would be more disposed to intrust ample discretion than Governor Grey; and he hoped that henceforth the Government would endeavour to select colonial governors like him, who owed his advancement to no party feeling or family connexions. It was, he admitted, difficult to determine beforehand what man would make a good colonial governor; for, however well fitted for the office an individual might appear to the authorities at the Colonial Office, it not unfrequently happened that when he established himself in his colonial government, the parading of troops, beating of drums, and salvos of artillery, turned his head. Another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Government was, the necessity of not crippling too much the power of the Governor in any colony. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made a very elaborate defence of the Bishop of New Zealand. He entertained great respect for the character of that right rev. Gentleman; but if he were to judge of him only by this protest, he must say that he was the most agitating bishop he had ever heard of. Hon. Members had that morning seen evidence of what agitating bishops could do; but this right rev. Gentleman went further than any of them. He said, in reference to the doctrine propounded by Earl Grey in his despatch, "Against this doctrine I am called on to protest, as the head of the missionary body." It would be observed that he did not say, "as the head of the clergy of New Zealand," but "as the head of the missionary body;" and he (Mr. V. Smith) could not help recollecting how often the zeal of the missionaries in New Zealand had overstepped their discretion, and injured the cause, and retarded the prosperity of the colony. The Bishop also said in his protest, "It is my duty, and I am determined, God being my helper, to inform the natives of their rights and privileges." It was evident, therefore, 1016 that the Bishop intended to agitate on the subject; and he (Mr. V. Smith) thought that the phrase "God being my helper," was one of the strongest expressions which he ever recollected to have been used by a bishop when speaking of civil or political rights. He could not help thinking that the right rev. Gentleman would be more likely to impede than to assist Governor Grey in New Zealand; and he trusted his right hon. Friend would not be scrupulous in entrusting Governor Grey with ample powers, and that he would also be very careful how he fettered his discretion, by obliging him to consult others in the colony.
§ MR. ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that though he was a Member who had but lately entered the House, it was impossible for him to sit in any assembly of Englishmen where, humble as he was, he had to represent important interests, and silently hear assailed a man whose virtues and abilities he believed to be of the highest order that ever honoured the character of a Christian bishop; a man who had done, not merely to the advancement of the religion of that Church which it was his duty to maintain and uphold, but also of those political institutions which were the subject of the deliberations of the House, more genuine service than had been done, or could be done, by anybody in New Zealand—services which he (Mr. Palmer) knew would be appreciated hereafter in this country, and which were now appreciated and understood in the country which was the subject of debate. He had heard with great satisfaction the whole, he might say, of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, but most particularly that part of it which referred to the native aboriginal population of New Zealand, because he had shared that feeling which he was sure all students of modern history must have entertained, with reference to the events which had attended the march of civilisation. The conduct of Spain towards the natives of the countries which she overran was marked by bloodshed, cruelty, and rapine; she trampled upon men, treated them with utter contempt, dispossessed them of their land, made their persons her property, and finally exterminated them from the face of the earth. He believed he might say, that, though this country had some crimes of this nature to answer for, we had less than many other nations; and certainly, when we come to New Zealand, 1017 our coming there was not an alarming circumstance for the friends of humanity to contemplate. Those missionaries who had been spoken of, and of whom he should have a word to say by and by, long before any pretensions to the territory of New Zealand had been made on the part of the British Crown, had left all they valued in the world to carry knowledge, virtue, and civilisation among a people, to go among whom was to encounter persecutions scarcely less serious than those which the early Christians had to endure. They were the pioneers of civilisation; they taught those people to know something of a higher life, beyond this world, and in it too; they laid the foundation on which a promising superstructure had since been raised; and it was to them that we owed this great fact, that Ministers were now enabled to come forward and say that there was a just ground for hoping that the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand might be incorporated as British subjects, and admitted to participate in the benefit of our political institutions. If the natives were found to be intelligent, possessed of cultivated minds, and imbued with the principles of religion, all this was owing to the missionaries, who had been spoken of with so little respect. It might be that there had been some in whom zeal had outrun discretion; not that he should accept as conclusive the dictum of every hon. Gentleman who spoke on this subject, because the hon. Gentleman and the missionaries might be impreased by different ideas. The missionary looked beyond the present, he had higher principles, higher objects in view. Even if he expressed himself too warmly, he (Mr. Palmer) was persuaded that it would be far more for the interests of the colony that the voice of the missionary should be lifted up for the instruction of the natives, because he knew in what way the moral feelings of the natives were touched. Not only did we hear from the missionaries the most satisfactory testimony to the qualities of the native race, but even the history of the collisions which had taken place, afforded, he would venture to say, corroborative evidence of what noble materials these people were made. Even their rebellion, though it might be a question how far that term could be applied in all its strictness to their proceedings, was conducted in the most humane manner, and in accordance with the spirit of civilised warfare. They acted in the rebellion as well as men could do who were rebels. He had de- 1018 tained the House too long; but he wished to say one word with respect to the protest of the Bishop of New Zealand. The Bishop of New Zealand thought, and he confessed that, on reading Earl Grey's despatch he thought also, that the despatch was intended to inculcate a certain principle in dealing with all questions that could arise with respect to the title of the natives to the land. As he read the despatch, it amounted to this:—"You have recognised certain territorial rights in the natives already; do not go beyond that; and take this principle as your guide in future, that they have no territorial rights at all." Now, it should be recollected that the missionaries and the Bishop of New Zealand were the persons through whom the Government of this country had dealt with the natives. The missionaries carried on the negotiations; they understood the sense in which the natives understood the transaction with them; and could it be otherwise than the duty of these men to protest, in the most public and emphatic manner, against an act which appeared to them to be, not a mere abstract enunciation of a formal principle, but one which practically altered the whole course of our policy on questions connected with the possession of land, and which was directly opposed to those principles which the Bishop and the natives understood to be the basis of the treaty? With regard to the language of the protest, he thought that it had been somewhat misunderstood. All that the Bishop said was, that he would, in a manner consistent with the dignity of his station, by all the lawful means in his power, teach the natives in what way they should exercise their undoubted rights and privileges. All depended upon the way in which the Bishop acted upon that announcement, which was not made public to the natives. It seemed to him that the Bishop had done no more than state, very clearly and plainly, what was the course which he should pursue, and that his language did not tend in the slightest degree to agitation or disturbance. He knew, and every body who was acquainted with the Bishop of New Zealand knew also, that the words with which he had accompanied the declaration of his intentions were not mere words of hollow qualifications in his mouth. He would speak strongly to the Governor, by whom, if he were open to censure, he would be censured; and to the natives, if he said that he would speak as a bishop ought to speak, he knew he would do so; 1019 and that he had done so, he (Mr. Palmer) was as firmly convinced as any one could be.
§ MR. HUME
considered the reasons assigned by Governor Grey so clear and satisfactory, that he entirely concurred in the Motion. He confessed that he, for one, deeply regretted what appeared to have been the conduct of the Bishop of New Zealand. He also regretted to hear the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; for, allowing everything which the hon. Gentleman had said of that Bishop to be perfectly true, still he, when that Bishop was sent to New Zealand, could only judge of him by his conduct there. Of all the documents connected with the colonies, he could find none in which there was such a manifestation as in those connected with New Zealand, of any bishop or clergyman so standing up and bearding the Government, and declaring that he would dispute the orders, not merely of the Governor, but of the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department. What did the Bishop find fault with? Lord Grey, with a view very properly to close the disputes connected with land, which placed the colony of New Zealand in an unsatisfactory state, endeavoured to point out to the Governor what ought to be the principle in reference to that subject; and one of the rules was, that the savages in New Zealand were to have no right to the land which was unoccupied or unsubdued for the purposes of cultivation. The Bishop referred to this as a doctrine which he was determined to resist; and he was prepared to teach the inhabitants of New Zealand that they had a right to all the land in the colony, and that any attempt to displace them was a violation of their rights. That was the way he construed the language of the Bishop. He, therefore, considered that this document, proceeding from the Bishop, only showed that that venerable Prelate, who was described as being so amiable until he left this country, must have had his head turned the moment he landed in New Zealand by the salvos of artillery which announced his landing. Yet this was an individual, whom the people of England were paying—600l. was the amount of the salary charged in the last estimates. When the Bishop was sent out, he objected to any expense; and he would now ask, were they to pay a man to become a firebrand in the colony? If the Bishop differed from the Secretary of State, was it becoming in him, being next in rank to 1020 the Governor, to take on himself to proclaim to the inhabitants that the authorities at home were exercising arbitrary and unjust authority? After reading the papers laid before Parliament, he came to the conclusion that it was the duty of the Government to remove the Bishop to a better climate and a more favourable station. At any rate, that House could stop his salary at once. The House had been told that these missionaries had taught the people of New Zealand Christianity; that they had reformed the cannibal habits and barbarous usages of the natives; and that it was through them that the colony had been brought to peace. The hon. Member who last spoke, had told the House that these missionaries had sacrificed everything to promote the cause they professed. And yet, he asked, what had been the result? If he recollected aright, the Church Missionary Society, and other bodies from whom they received money, had written out to these missionaries to say that they were forgetting their mission. They represented that they had not sent them out to become great proprietors of large estates and jobbers in land, but to be the propagators of Christianity. It did not appear, however, that these missionaries had exercised the virtues of self-denial, because they had absorbed 96,000 acres of land, holding out to the natives that because of their sacred calling they were privileged to buy land, but inducing the natives to resist every other person doing so. So that the authorities at home were obliged to send out positive orders that they should not proceed in a way which was disgraceful to their calling. One missionary, of the name of Williams, was said to be in possession of 30,000 or 40,000 acres. He considered it to be a great misfortune that the colony from the first had been in the hands of these intriguing missionaries. From them had proceeded the distrust and hatred of the British Government, and the unfortunate collision which had taken place. On this ground he was sorry to hear any one commending men who had caused such results; and he also regretted that any language should have been held to the effect that the ecclesiastical power should be predominant in the colony of New Zealand. If that were to be the case, where were they to end? He had always been accustomed to regard the ecclesiastical power as subordinate and obedient to the civil power. Were they now to have a Bishop and his 1021 clergy bearding the Governor of a colony? He hoped the Government would make Governor Grey dictator until he was free from such meddling and dangerous interference. And he also hoped that this would be a lesson to the present Secretary of State for the Colonies not to send out more bishops. He was not sorry that the Ministers had got a lesson on this point, and he hoped it would teach them to be more prudent in future.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the present Bill was one step proposed to be taken in respect to that difficult problem which they were endeavouring to solve—the government of New Zealand. He hoped that it would not be made the occasion of manifesting any other spirit or feeling than a sincere desire on all parts to promote so desirable an object. It must in candour be admitted that their progress towards the desired end was not very great. Two years ago they differed upon many matters; but there was one point upon which they were even then agreed—the extension of municipal institutions to New Zealand. As far as he could collect from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, they were now called on to cancel all that had been done since, with the exception of the municipal institutions; and to make, also, some alterations in those municipal institutions, in respect to the exercise of the privileges. ["No!"] He said yes; for if the Governor were to have the power to give a certificate, constituting the qualification of the elector, that was an important alteration. He only referred to this matter for the purpose of showing how difficult was the experiment they were making, in applying the constitutional forms of European government to a mixed population, consisting partly of European immigrants and partly of aboriginal inhabitants. In solving this problem, he hoped that the Government would not be guided by the advice of the hon. Member for Montrose. He must say, that if the learned and most estimable Prelate in New Zealand, forming an opinion for himself on a matter in respect to which he believed he had contracted a solemn responsibility, were not to be allowed to send to the constituted authorities, and to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, his firm and steadfast remonstrances, then constitutional liberty and freedom of discussion must be considered at an end. He would not consent to the abolition of constitutional liberty and popular dis- 1022 cussion; and whether it should turn out that the Bishop of New Zealand was right or wrong in his opinion, which they would know more about when they came to a deliberate discussion of this matter, he said it was intolerable to hear in the House of Commons a man called a turbulent priest, and such other terms as the hon. Member for Montrose had used, because, in firm language, he had addressed a remonstrance to the Secretary of State through the Governor of New Zealand. [Mr. HUME had not used the terms mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.] He was sorry if he had mistaken the effect of the hon. Gentleman's observations. [Mr. HUME: But I have no objection to calling the Bishop a turbulent priest.] Then he was in the judgment of the House; and those who heard the hon. Gentleman would form for themselves an opinion whether the language the hon. Gentleman had applied to the Bishop of New Zealand was such as was justified in its application to a person making a firm remonstrance through the constituted authorities to the responsible Government The hon. Gentleman said he did not know much about the Bishop, and thought that his having landed in New Zealand under a salute of guns had turned his head. He was exceedingly sorry for the hon. Gentleman, for if he had read the despatches that had been laid on the table of that House with respect to the conduct of the Bishop when he was amid the sound of artillery, when he was amid the din and smoke, not of a salute, but of actual battle; and had found that the dangers he then saw, did not turn his head or discourage him from being in the thickest of the danger, and rendering to the sufferers that assistance which became his situation; he thought the hon. Gentleman would be of opinion that the head of the Bishop was not easily turned by the sound of a salute. Then the hon. Gentleman expressed his hope that, at all events, the salary of the Bishop would be stopped; and, pursuing his idiosyncracy, he recollected that in the last miscellaneous estimates there was an entry of 600l. for the salary of the Bishop. He had not the honour of being in the confidence of the Bishop, with respect to his salary; but he did know his character, and he ventured to tell the hon. Gentleman, that if there were a living man upon whom the fear of losing a stipend of 600l. a year, allowed to him by that House, would be utterly inoperative to deter him 1023 from what he believed to be his duty, that man was the Bishop of New Zealand. He had been drawn into these observations because he thought it was intolerable that language of such a nature as they had heard that evening should be addressed to a person of great respectability and eminence for what he believed to be the discharge of his duty. He had purposely forborne to enter upon the question whether the Bishop was right or wrong in this matter; but he had yet to learn that a person's being right or wrong in the precise opinions he had formed, was to be the measure of his liberty to express them. The Bishop of New Zealand represented a body of persons of whom all the authorities who had filled the Colonial Office had spoken in terms of the highest respect. He held in his hand a document showing the language in which the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he filled the office of Colonial Secretary, spoke of the clergy and missionaries. He spoke of them, as all others had, in terms of the highest respect. We had obtained possession of New Zealand by treaty. We had formally, studiously, and ostentatiously disclaimed all right of sovereignty by the title of discovery; wisely or unwisely, we had obtained possession of it by treaty. We chose the missionaries as the negotiators of that treaty; and there was a remarkable scene, which had been described before in that House, in which the New Zealanders debated whether they should or should not make a treaty. The argument used by those who would have dissuaded them from it was this—"Your land will be taken from you." The argument of the missionaries, on behalf of Great Britain, was—"Your land shall not be taken from you;" and the New Zealanders then, in their own figurative language, said—"We quite understand it. The shadow of the land goes to Queen Victoria—the substance remains with us." He did not think that that was an occasion for entering upon a long discussion as to the true interpretation and right application of the Treaty of Waitangi; but it was impossible to deny that responsibility in regard to it rested on the missionaries we had employed to conduct it; and it was also impossible to deny that it was right to respect their sense of their responsibility. If the Bishop had been guilty of acts as an agitator, he would be deeply culpable, and seriously responsible; but they had no evidence whatever 1024 that he had done anything except addressing the Governor, and, through the Governor, the Secretary of State. He knew no right more inherent than that of an Englishman, in any situation, to state to the Government in firm and temperate language, his opinion on a matter for which he was responsible; and he begged to enter his protest against the censure which was now sought to be cast upon the Bishop of New Zealand for having done so.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
regretted very much that during the course of this debate many remarks had been introduced which had caused irritation; but he must confess that it was not the fault of the Government or of the right hon. Gentleman who had brought this subject before the House. He regretted also that the protest which had been referred to, should have been made by the Bishop of New Zealand; but he hoped and trusted, that further reflection might have induced the Bishop to be contented with having made it, without anything more. With respect to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, that hon. and learned Member surely never could have read many of the Parliamentary papers with respect to the conduct of the missionaries and the Treaty of Waitangi. It had been stated in that House, and had never been refuted, that the missionaries were not all of that high character which some might suppose clergymen who were sent out of this country should be. No doubt there were many most excellent men amongst them; but others, from personal motives, had allowed political feelings to interfere with the performance of their duty. It would be recollected, that when the treaty was made, the missionaries became purchasers of land. That was contrary to the rule of the Society, and if he mistook not, he had seen a resolution of the Church Society condemning such a practice. He regretted to say, that too many of those connected with this matter had used their utmost endeavours to prevent the colonisation of New Zealand. In the course of the present discussion the House had heard many and warm praises of the natives of the colony; but he could not help saying that he thought the aborigines had been praised rather too much—they certainly were a fine people, an acute race; they readily received the habits of civilisation: that they easily assimilated to Englishmen there could be no doubt; that as labourers they kept their time; that they were sober— 1025 nay, that they had sufficient of the principle of union in them to form a sort of joint-stock company for the purpose of carrying on a water-mill; but still they were quite overpraised. No doubt they would progress if they were let alone, and that the Governor was let alone; but to talk of their humane qualities, and of their humanity in war, was going too far. Ought it not to have been well known to Gentlemen who spoke in that strain that the body of a British officer killed in the war had been mutilated for the purposes of cannibalism? He had in his hand a communication, on the authority and accuracy of which he placed full reliance, stating that a woman and four children had been barbarously murdered by natives of New Zealand; that her body also had been mutilated for the purposes of cannibalism; and that a portion of it had been eaten. Still he did not deny that, all things considered, they were a fine set of people; and, if left to the management of Governor Grey, he had no doubt that the colony would be of great advantage to this country. He was rejoiced, then, to find a Bill introduced for the purpose of giving municipal charters to the settlers in New Zealand. He hailed it as an improvement, and he yielded freely to the arguments and reasonings of Governor Grey. As to the New Zealand Company, he could not help saying, as he had done upon former occasions, that their proceedings had been very much misconceived. No Bill designed for the purpose of making them legislators had ever been introduced—at least as far as his knowledge went, he could say that nothing of the sort had been attempted. The Company never had assumed, or wished to assume, the character of legislators, or that of governors; and as to the Commissioner, he was not to go to New Zealand—he was to sit in London and nowhere else, and his functions were to continue so long as any debt remained due by the Company to the Government. He had heard it said that strong powers were given to the Governor; but he contended that that confidence was not misplaced. For his part, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was right in giving that power.
§ SIR E. BUXTON
rose for the single purpose of saying that, in his opinion, the Bishop of New Zealand, whether he were a good or a sensible man, or the direct contrary, as had been represented by the hon. Member for Montrose, had, at all events, in this instance, done his duty, and 1026 nothing but his duty. It appeared to him that the Bishop of New Zealand, whether he were right in judgment or not, had evidently come to the conclusion that Her Majesty's Ministry had an intention of doing something which would injure the people of New Zealand, and practically trample upon the great treaty with that island. He quite agreed with the Bishop that that treaty should be maintained. It could not be denied that the New Zealand Company was opposed to the independence of the people of New Zealand. It could not be denied that they had done all in their power to violate the Treaty of New Zealand; but a good Providence had hitherto prevented from from doing so. He thanked God that the Bishop of New Zealand was in that country, and that they had grounds for hoping that, by his exertions and exhortations, the New Zealand Company would be prevented from having it all their own way. He would express no opinion as to whether the Bishop had acted too hastily. The Bishop might have formed his opinion upon erroneous grounds; but that was not the point on which he had been arraigned that evening. He had been arraigned for interfering, whether rightly or wrongly, in the political affairs of New Zealand. He was convinced that the Bishop was right; he was quite satified that he had done no more than a Christian bishop should do, viz., tell his people that they had rights—that those rights were about to be taken from them—and that they ought to prevent such taking place by every mode which the constitution allowed them to avail themselves of. If a bishop in England had acted in similar circumstances as had the Bishop of New Zealand, he would not have been blamed.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
did not think that it was right to cast such severe censure as had been that night cast indiscriminately upon such a deserving body of men as the missionaries of New Zealand. Hon. Members had complained as to their having taken too many acres of land; but it should be recollected that those excellent men had large families growing up around them whom they had to maintain; they were far removed from their friends and native home, and it was, therefore, necessary that they should have farms for the support of themselves and families. [An Hon. MEMBER: Six thousand acres.] It should be recollected that 6,000 acres of New Zealand land would not be worth as many acres of land in England. He thought 1027 that the missionaries were entitled to some consideration, when they took into consideration the many sacrifices which they had willingly borne for the purpose of benefiting their fellow-creatures.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
, in reply, was called upon to advert to one or two questions which had been adverted to in the course of the debate, and to which he had not alluded in his opening address. The first of these he approached with the utmost regret—it was the conduct of the Bishop of New Zealand. He had not the honour of having any personal acquaintance with that right rev. Prelate; but from all he had heard of him he could assure the House that there was no personal friend of his, and no Gentleman who had spoken to-night in commendation of the right rev. Prelate, who was more firmly persuaded than he was that the right rev. Prelate was incapable of doing anything which in his opinion was contrary to the dictates of religion; and that if he were in fault now it must be ascribed to a mistake, and not to any improper motives. But he begged to remind the House of the way in which this question had come before them. The Bishop of New Zealand had addressed a formal communication to the Governor of the colony, with the expression of a desire that it should be transmitted to the Secretary of State for the Colonies; and in that communication he announced his intention, in consequence of what he believed to be a diversity of sentiment between him and the Executive Government of the colony on that which was the nicest and most delicate of all possible subjects, and which had already produced bloodshed enough, namely, the possession of land, "God being his helper," to use all legal and constitutional measures befitting his station to inform the natives of New Zealand of their rights and privileges as British subjects, and to assist them in asserting and maintaining those rights and privileges, whether by petition to the Imperial Parliament, or by other legal and desirable means. The Bishop added, that he had further to request that this communication should be transmitted to the Colonial Secretary. Now, this was obviously an announcement, a warning to the Government, that he was about to inform the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand that he differed from the Executive Government upon this subject, and that he should excite them to petition the Crown or the Parliament. He (Mr. Labouchere) must say 1028 that he entirely agreed with his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office, that this was a most unfortunate step on the part of the Bishop; and being responsible for the peace, welfare, and prosperity of the colony, he conceived that it would have been impossible for his noble Friend to refrain from expressing, as he had done, in temperate and respectful, but at the same time firm and decided language, such as was due to himself and the station he held, his deep concern and regret that the Bishop should have made that announcement. For his part, he was ready and willing to share the responsibility with his noble Friend. He had come to the same conclusion that his noble Friend had arrived at, and he thought it had been expressed in firm and proper language. He thought, also, that the communication was a formal announcement on the part of the Bishop that he was about to begin a course of agitation among the natives of New Zealand. Now, really when a man, engaged in the performance of the sacred functions of a bishop, went among the natives of New Zealand, exhorting them to petition the Crown on the subject, what was that, he should like to know, but agitation? He could only say that it appeared to him to be a most ill-advised course on the part of the Bishop, and that Earl Grey could not have done otherwise than state his disapprobation of such conduct. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had asked whether any other documents had arrived from the colony in regard to this subject; and especially if Governor Grey had expressed any opinion on his communication of the Bishop in transmitting it homo? In reply, he begged to say that the whole of the communications from New Zealand to the Colonial Office had been laid upon the table of the House; that, in fact, there was no other paper upon the subject. Another point to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had adverted was the abstract opinion expressed by Earl Grey, and on which the Bishop commented, relative to the tenure of land in the colony. The Bishop referred to this opinion as if it had been given in the most unqualified manner, and without any restriction whatever. But if the right hon. Gentleman looked at the papers, he would find that it was scarcely possible to have guarded any acquired rights of the natives more scrupulously than his noble Friend had done. His noble Friend distinctly said, that whilst he 1029 laid down what he considered the better principle, he endeavoured carefully to guard against being supposed to enforce it as applicable to the present state of New Zealand; and he believed that he had succeeded in doing so; that he expressly stated that he was not in a position to act on that principle; that from past transactions a state of things had arisen in which its strict application could not be enforced; and that he had directed in the strongest language that the rights of the natives in lands already recognised should be maintained. He did not think that the Bishop was justified in the conduct which he had pursued. There was only one more subject to which he wished to advert. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell) seemed to say that he regretted to find that even the approach to municipal institutions in New Zealand had been retarded. Now, so far was this from being the fact, that municipal institutions had been put into operation; and the only change which had been made was in the sense of an enlargement of the principle. It was intended to increase the municipal franchise to the aboriginal natives within the precincts of these districts, by empowering the Governor to give certificates of the parties to enjoy this right. He had been asked whether he should propose any further matters connected with this question till after the recess. He certainly thought that no time should be lost; he thought that these details might lead to a protracted discussion; but it would be better, perhaps, to have no discussion now. He could not doubt that the suspension for a limited period of the constitution of New Zealand was a principle which would generally be affirmed. He proposed that that Bill should be read a second time on Monday next, by which time the Bill would be printed, and sent out to the colonies as having received the sanction of the House of Commons. He hoped this would meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman.
did not think that any Member had a right to say that the Bishop of New Zealand had agitated the people of New Zealand, because there was no paper to show that this was the fact. With regard to the question of land, the hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth showed a great difference in his domestic and colonial policy. In the case of enclosing lands in England, the hon. Member evinced the most profound respect and solicitude for the rights of the people; but when, in 1030 a colony, the question was as to a new company coming into the country, and taking possession of the land, and any dispute arising between them and the natives, then the hon. Gentleman held that it was a great pity that the Bishop should have informed these natives of what were their rights as British subjects. Now he thought it was but fair to the natives that the Bishop, as the representative of the Clergy, not being a paid servant of the Crown, should act as the Bishop had acted.
The EARL of ARUNDEL AND SURREY
could not see why a bishop, when he thought that a portion of his flock were about to be or were likely to be oppressed, should not petition the Government in defence of their rights.
§ Bill to be brought in.