Rebels were warned they'd lose their land

If you’re wondering why so many of my posts are about media coverage, that’s because I’m still very much in the fundraising stage of the Treatygate/Colourblind State campaign.

I want to prove to potential funders that the snowball that elocal magazine set in motion with its Treatygate story can build into an avalanche capable of terrifying the government into obeying the will of the people.

So the campaign proper has yet to begin.

But here’s a taste of the sort of historical detail I’ll be revealing.

It’s from a letter written by Governor Sir George Grey to the rebel Waikato chiefs in 1863.

There’s masses more where this came from.

16 thoughts on “Rebels were warned they'd lose their land

  1. This letter proves that the Waikato Chiefs were viewed as rebels by Govenor George Grey. Something which everyone already knows.

    [JA: Eye patch off, Joe. What it proves is that they were warned they’d lose their land if they went ahead and waged war against the Queen. Which I suspect hardly anyone knows.]

  2. “viewed” being the operative word, Joe

    Defence Minister Thomas Russell sent Governor Grey a memorandum signed by Premier Alfred Domett, claiming that the Waikato, the most powerful Māori tribe, was planning to drive out or destroy Europeans and establish a native kingdom. They argued that the security of the colony demanded that Māori aggression needed to be punished and proposed that an armed population be recruited from the goldfields of Otago and Australia and settled on land taken from the “enemy”.[1] Whitaker and Russell, leading Auckland financiers, speculators and lawyers, were the most powerful men in the ministry and stood to make a substantial fortune if Māori south of Auckland could be moved from their land.[10] Grey, who had recently returned from a term as Governor of the Cape Colony in South Africa, where the military settlement of Xhosa land had been undertaken,[6] embraced the idea and in a dispatch to the Colonial Office a month later set out details of the plan, repeating the claim that Māori planned the wholesale destruction of some European settlements. The proposal was to place 5000 military settlers on the Waikato and Taranaki frontiers, each holding a 20 hectare farm on military tenure.[6]

    Grey attempted to allay potential misgivings in the Colonial Office by pointing out that there were only 3355 Māori living on 200,000 hectares of fertile land in the Waikato, and of this they had cultivated just 6000 hectares. He proposed making roads throughout the land to link the military settlements

    The New Zealand Settlements Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 5 November 1863, attracting little debate and only two votes against it in each of the Lower and Upper Houses before it became law. The Bill was introduced by the Native Minister, Sir William Fox, who said its primary purpose was to suppress the “present rebellion”. The word “confiscation” did not appear in the legislation.[6] The minister conceded that land of Māori who were not “in rebellion” could also be confiscated, but said they would be entitled to compensation through a Compensation Court.

    The Act gave the Governor power to declare “as a District within the provisions of this Act”, any land which was owned or used by a tribe, or part of a tribe, which he was satisfied had “been engaged in rebellion against her Majesty’s authority” since 1 January 1863. The Governor could then set apart any land within these districts for “settlements for colonisation”. All such land was automatically deemed to be discharged from all title interest or claim of any person.

    Compensation would be granted to those who claimed a title to it as long as they had not waged war or carried arms against the Crown or government forces, or given assistance or comfort to anyone who had done so. Claims for compensation would be considered by Compensation Courts established under the Act, with the judges to be appointed by the Governor.

    Despite Māori making up a third of New Zealand’s population, the Parliament had no Māori members.[13] In the House of Representatives, only two MPs spoke in the debate on the Bill. G. Brodie supported it in a brief speech and James FitzGerald, in a lengthy attack, argued that the Bill was contrary to the Treaty of Waitangi, and that confiscation would “drive every (Māori) into a state of hopeless rebellion … be they friends or be they foes”.[6]

  3. Confiscation was promoted by the press and many settlers because of its potential to provide cheap land and repay the cost of fighting the land wars. The Southern Cross newspaper condemned the conduct of the “blood-thirsty murderers” in the Waikato and declared: “There is only one way of meeting this, and that is by confiscation and the sword … the natives have forced it upon us … At the very least large tracts of their lands must be the penalty.”[1]

    Retired chief justice Sir William Martin was one of the few in New Zealand who publicly opposed confiscation. He wrote: “The example of Ireland may satisfy us how little is to be effected towards the quieting of a country by the confiscation of private land; how the claim of the dispossessed owner is remembered from generation to generation, and how the brooding sense of wrong breaks out from time to time in fresh disturbance and crime.”

    In Britain, the Aborigines Protection Society also protested, with a statement noting: “We can conceive of no surer means of adding fuel to the flame of War; of extending the area of disaffection; and of making the Natives fight with the madness of despair, than a policy of confiscation. It could not fail to produce in New Zealand the same bitter fruits of which it has yielded so plentiful a harvest in other countries, where the strife of races has perpetuated through successive generations.”[6]

    More than a year passed before Grey, who appeared to be involved in a power struggle with government ministers,[6] issued his first proclamation to confiscate land. Within that time, however, Parliament also passed the Public Works Act 1864. which allowed Māori land to be taken for public works – initially, a road between Wanganui and New Plymouth. (In 1865 the Outlying Districts Police Act also came into force, enabling more land to be forfeited when chiefs failed to surrender fugitives).[6]

  4. Anakereiti: thank you for proving my point that there was a whole nother side to the story.

    Will you be cutting and pasting the whole of Wikipedia, or just most of it? 🙂

  5. just part of it John, we also have teara , waitangi tribunal, and various books and documents, including papers past. And it actually proves my point – that there are 2 sides to the story – other than your one that states we rebelled hence our land was confiscated. Clearly thats not the case 🙂

  6. JA: Eye patch off, Joe. What it proves is that they were warned they’d lose their land if they went ahead and waged war against the Queen. Which I suspect hardly anyone knows.]

    Everyone Knows this John, its the whole basis of our argument with the Crown confiscations. You encroached on our land, broke the Treaty, called as rebels and confiscated our lands. In fact we were defending, as was our right – not rebelling.

  7. To put threats of confiscation of lands in a better context, go back to mid 1863 when isolated settlers, men, women and children were being murdered as close in to Auckland as Howick, Papakura and Franklin County. If that happened today imagine the uproar, therefore why are we surprised that every able bodied male in Auckland and surrounding areas belonged to the Militia or to the Auckland Rifle Volunteers. Why be surprised that 13 Blockhouses were built to give Aucklanders some measure of security handy to Auckland and further out a string of Redoubts from Miranda across to Tuakau.
    Governor Grey gave Maori a choice, allegiance to Queen Victoria and the Crown or go South and cross the Maungatawhiri Line.
    Some people with Maori ancestry maintain that the Crown broke the Treaty. In fact those Maori who created mischief in the Bay of Islands 1n 1845 and later in South Auckland 1863 under tribal leaders surely must have broken the Treaty. Governor Grey may have done us all a favour if he had abrogated the Treaty in 1863 instead of threatening confiscation.

  8. No Don, what he was saying was “let the settlers and army take your land” and if you dare to defend it we will call you rebels and confiscate it – which is what he did. And the actual thefts, encroachment and confiscations had started well before 1863. You move onto my land, then surely you shouldnt be surprised that Im prepared to defend it? You said I could be sovereign on my own land, why then are you moving people onto it. Why are you taking it to put roads through it? Dont try to dress it up and say im rebelling, shove a law through and confiscate it – tell the truth , you need more land because more and more people are arriving, they want good land – and Hori down the road has done nothing with his, move onto it, say that he is rebelling and just take it off him!

  9. Of all the countries colonised, can anyone tell me 5 countries, where the indigenous have come out of the colonisation better off ? Because I cant think of any. In every case, the indigenous, end up top of the worst stats. Anyone see a correlation there?

  10. A self-satisfied and largely hegemonic belief survives in Britain that the empire was an imaginative, civilising enterprise, reluctantly undertaken, that brought the benefits of modern society to backward peoples. Indeed it is often suggested that the British empire was something of a model experience, unlike that of the French, the Dutch, the Germans, the Spaniards, the Portuguese – or, of course, the Americans. There is a widespread opinion that the British empire was obtained and maintained with a minimum degree of force and with maximum co-operation from a grateful local population.

    This benign, biscuit-tin view of the past is not an understanding of their history that young people in the territories that once made up the empire would now recognise. A myriad revisionist historians have been at work in each individual country producing fresh evidence to suggest that the colonial experience – for those who actually “experienced” it – was just as horrific as the opponents of empire had always maintained that it was, perhaps more so. New generations have been recovering tales of rebellion, repression and resistance that make nonsense of the accepted imperial version of what went on. Focusing on resistance has been a way of challenging not just the traditional, self-satisfied view of empire, but also the customary depiction of the colonised as victims, lacking in agency or political will.

  11. For much of its early history, the British ruled their empire through terror. The colonies were run as a military dictatorship, often under martial law, and the majority of colonial governors were military officers. “Special” courts and courts martial were set up to deal with dissidents, and handed out rough and speedy injustice. Normal judicial procedures were replaced by rule through terror; resistance was crushed, rebellion suffocated. No historical or legal work deals with martial law. It means the absence of law, other than that decreed by a military governor.

  12. john have you had a chance to check out organising a petion via the site

    cheers paul

  13. Anakereiti we need more hard facts and examples rather than statements so that the source can be checked. Thanks.

  14. Hi Don, just type in The New Zealand Settlements Bill in google and you will have a wealth of documents, old newspapers, letters etc at you fingertips

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