William Henry Parr Greswell.

Outlines of British colonisation online

. (page 18 of 31)
Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 18 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Three years after this rediscovery, Benjamin Franklin en-
deavoured, but unsuccessfully, to establish a company with
the object of colonising New Zealand by a system of barter
with the natives.

On his second voyage to the Pacific in command of the
Resolution and Adventure, Captain Cook was accompanied by
Andrew Sparrmann, the great Swedish naturalist, who joined
him at the Cape of Good Hope, in which country he was con-
ducting his researches into natural history. From his narrative,
as well as that of Captain Cook, we gather that on March 26,
1773, the Resolution anchored at Dusky Bay, near the

southernmost promontory of New Zealand, after sailing in the

New Zealand 201

Southern Pacific for 122 days without seeing land. The main
object of this expedition was to determine the existence of a
Southern continent; and Captain Cook, after reaching the
fields of ice, ran along them a great distance without seeing any
signs of land, and therefore concluded that what Bouvet had
on a previous occasion reported to be land was nothing else
but ice. Sparrmann observed that in sailing so far south they
were the ' only mortals who could boast of the frozen honour
of having passed the Antarctic Circle.' New Zealand was a
naturalist's paradise to him, as there were ' ferns and mosses
almost entirely unknown, and these, together with the new
species of birds and fishes, afforded me an agreeable occupa-
tion.' He records, however, that the Maoris were a race of
cannibals, and had such manners as might excite pity and
repugnance a remark which was proved to be true when the
Adventure, whilst anchoring in Queen Charlotte's Sound, in
Cook Strait, lost a whole boat's crew of ten men, killed,
roasted, and eaten by them.

Queen Charlotte's Sound, on the west of Cook Strait, was
a kind of base of operations from which Captain Cook con-
ducted his Pacific explorations in the direction of the New
Hebrides, New Caledonia, and elsewhere : Sparrmann observing,
'On October 18, 1774, we came to anchor for the third time
in Queen Charlotte's Sound.' On his return voyage, Captain
Cook, with the westerly winds behind him, undertook the
voyage from New Zealand to Cape Horn, running along high
latitudes in search of the great Australis Terra, so that the
English flag might be planted, if possible, on the supposed
sixth part of the globe ; and for six weeks the keel of the
Resolution ploughed these lonely wastes.

On arriving at Table Bay, after an absence of two and a
quarter years, the Resolution was found to have gained a day
by sailing east. Those who had sailed before round the globe
always went west, and they lost a day ; but as Captain Cook's
crew made the same voyage to the east, they were conse-
quently the first, and indeed the only, navigators who had

2O2 British Colonisation

gained a day. Captain Cook had only lost one man during
the two and a quarter years, owing to his ' unparalleled pre-
servatives of sour krout and wort.'

Curiously enough, the Spaniards still seemed, even at this
date, to have claimed a kind of monopoly of South Pacific
waters. It was observed that Spanish ships had apparently
been here recently, and that a Spaniard was living amongst the
natives at Huaheine, who tried to conceal himself from obser-
vation. This, with several other circumstances, Sparrmann
remarks, made it highly probable that the Spanish ships were
sent both years to be spies upon the English, and to make
reprisals upon them in return for their visits in a part of the
world of which they were so extremely jealous, and of which
they 'looked upon themselves as the sole proprietors.

The French also had put in certain claims to South Pacific
islands and territories. It was even said that de Gonneville
had visited New Zealand as early as 1504, more than a
hundred and thirty years before Abel Tasman ; but these
claims are generally regarded as unwarrantable. Nevertheless,
there shortly followed in the wake of Captain Cook a French
captain named d'Urville, who had some dealings with the
Maories ; and he was followed, 1772, by Marion du Fresne and
Crozet, with two vessels, the Mascarin and Castries. Marion
met with his death at the hands of the New Zealanders under
peculiar circumstances. Landing on the New Zealand coast,
the French commander and his crew began dragging their nets
for fish. The Maoris came down in large numbers, and
endeavoured to explain to them that this particular spot was
holy ground tabooed a spot set aside for some religious
ceremonies of the highest importance. Not having an inter-
preter, the Frenchmen could not or would not understand the
nature of the protest, and involuntarily added fuel to the
flames of Maori resentment by killing the fish also tabooed
and spreading their blood and offal over the ground. The
Maoris, wrought up to a pitch of frenzy, rushed upon Captain
Marion and his crew, and speedily overpowered them. In the

New Zealand 203

words of ' King George,' a native potentate, who was present,
and afterwards* told the story to the English, 'They were brave
men, but they were all killed and eaten.'

The first assumption of British authority in New Zealand
was made in 1787 by the terms of the commission issued
to Captain Phillip, who, as Governor of New South Wales,
took it, in a kind of official manner, under his jurisdiction.
Throughout the Pacific there was a flotsam and jetsam of
escaped convicts, sealers, and refugees of all nationalities,
establishing themselves on isolated spots, holding intercourse
with the natives, and resembling in their roving lives the
buccaneers of the Gulf of Paria and the Pacific. In 1814 four
justices of the peace were appointed in the country to preserve
law and order ; but the fact of such occasional residences did
not constitute British sovereignty over Maoriland.

In a certain sense the South Sea whalers were the more
legitimate successors of the buccaneers \ and the whaling in-
dustry, profitable as it proved to be, was \]\eprimum mobile of
South Sea occupation. In the building-up of our colonial
empire it is curious to note how over and over again the
pluck and enterprise of our sailors, scouring the ocean every-
where, forced the hand of our Home Government. Scotchmen,
as usual, were to the fore, and in 1832 there was a settlement
of many hundreds of them at Kora Kadika trading and fishing
with a fleet of a hundred vessels, and by their presence inviting
the official countenance and support of England.

But, before any idea of New Zealand colonisation could be
put into effect, it was necessary to make sure of British
sovereignty on those waters. Sixty years ago it was by no
means certain that the British would be supreme in the South
Pacific, and that British colonisation would be the only
colonisation en evidence. The individual merchant and
adventurer might cry ' Forward ! ' still the official tongue cried
* Back ! ' French explorers had long since traversed the
Pacific together with our own ; and, although none of them
could vie with Captain Cook, still d'Urville, Crozet, Marion

204 British Colonisation

du Fresne, la Perouse, Dentrecasteaux, and Baudin were all
well-known names in these distant seas. The jealousy of
England and France was of ancient date, here as elsewhere.
When the French power was finally crushed in Canada and
along the banks of the St. Lawrence in 1763, some of the
more adventurous of French sailors turned their attention to
the great Southern land.

An opportunity for French intrigue was given in 1837-8.
Early in that year a certain Baron de Thierry, an Englishman
with a French title, arrived at New Zealand on board the
Nimrod. This adventurer, in virtue of an agreement made
with a chief named Hongi, who had visited England in 1820,
proclaimed himself ' the Sovereign Chief of New Zealand.'
Thierry had given thirty- six axes for a large tract of country, and
actually landed in New Zealand in order to take possession of it
in company with ninety-three persons, including his secretary,
master of stores, and other officers. The Rev. James Buller
stated in his Forty Years in New Zealand that he was present at
a conference Thierry had with the native chiefs at Otararu.
They smiled at the Baron's demands, but the conference
ended in the cession of 300 acres of good forest-land.

But it is with a brother of this eccentric Baron that some
further interest lies, who sought out the advice of Mr. George
Fife Angas, and represented the urgent necessity of England's
assuming at once the sovereignty of New Zealand. Mr.
Angas was unwilling at first to take the matter up seriously,
but, happening to learn that the Thierrys were in communica-
tion with the French Government, and were pressing upon
them the advisability of seizing some part of the New Zealand
islands, he wrote at once to Lord Glenelg (December 20, 1838).
After alluding to the failure of the New Zealand Land Com-
pany twelve years previously, and to the more recent, though
abortive, attempts of the New Zealand Association, and,
further, to the unsuccessful attempts to obtain an Act of
Parliament establishing a British settlement in the country,
Mr. Angas pointed out that the ground was clear for the

New Zealand 205

French. Technically, there could be no very strong objection
to the hoisting of the French flag.

The imperative necessity of immediate attention to this
matter was most apparent to his mind, he observed, from his
interview with Thierry, as well as from a fact that had subse-
quently transpired, viz. that the Count de Mole, the President
of the Council of France, had expressed his determination to
appoint de Thierry to the office of French Consul in New
Zealand. For more than a year this gentleman had been trying
to induce the French Government and the merchants and
manufacturers of that country to direct their attention to New
Zealand. The flax industry was beginning to flourish, and the
specimens of rope, sail-cloth, waterproof linen, made from the
Phormium tenax, were exciting considerable attention in France.
Mr. Angas alluded, also, to the great increase of French war-
vessels then traversing the South Seas ; and, in the event of
New Zealand falling into the hands of France, the possession
of our colonies in the South Seas would become insecure not
one of them being able to offer any successful resistance.
Mr. Angas wrote : ' I need not remind your Lordship that the
French vessels easily destroyed the English settlements at
Sierra Leone . . . and your Lordship is also aware that New
Zealand is at present nominally an independent nation, in
which British interests are represented by a consul, and that
in its present position and relation to this country the French
may establish a settlement there with as much propriety as the
British, provided de Thierry possesses sufficient influence with
the leading chiefs to obtain their concurrence.'

M. Guizot, in his France under Louis Philippe, alludes to
the convenience of securing a place of rest and of refreshment
in the South Pacific. Towards the end of 1839 a company
formed itself at Nantes and Bordeaux for the purpose of
founding a French colony in New Zealand. It asked for
support and gained it ; but when the time for execution
arrived it was discovered that the English had forestalled them.

It was the action of the New Zealand Company to which it

2o6 British Colonisation

is necessary to ascribe, principally, the assertion of British
sovereignty in the islands of New Zealand. This Company
took up the work that had been attempted by the New
Zealand Association and the N.Z. Colonisation Company.
It issued its first prospectus in May 1839, being founded
substantially upon the principles laid down by the celebrated
Gibbon Wakefield, who was already known for his colonisation
schemes in South Australia. In the beginning of this month
Colonel Wakefield was on his way, in command of the Tory,
a vessel belonging to Mr. Somes, to make a purchase of the
new settlement ; and such was the confidence placed in the
principles adopted by the Company that, within six weeks of
the departure of their agent, no less than ^"100,000 worth of
land was disposed of out of their contemplated purchase.

On the 3oth of September 1839 tne Tory dropped anchor
at Port Nicholson, and the British flag was run up a most
important day in the annals of New Zealand.

The annexation was made not a moment too soon. Forty-
eight hours afterwards Baron de Thierry arrived from Brest,
and attempted to claim the same spot for France by climbing
an adjacent hill and hoisting the tricolour. Sir Frederick
Young, the son of George Frederick Young, one of the most
active members of the New Zealand Company, describes in
his volume of Colonial Pamphlets the chagrin of the French
when they saw the Union Jack flying on the beach immedi-
ately at the base of the hill on the other side of the point at
Port Nicholson. Had the weather proved more contrary, or
had the Tory delayed anywhere on her journey out, or had
she met with a trifling mishap, this vantage-ground might
have been lost to England.

Early in 1840 the British Government, thoroughly a wakened
to the gravity of the situation, despatched Captain Hobson as
Governor of the islands. He established the seat of govern-
ment at Auckland, and in February 1840, by the terms of the
famous Treaty of Waitangi, entered into with the Maoris, pro-
claimed the Queen's sovereignty over the North Island,

New Zealand 207

The French, being debarred from the North Island and
from Port Nicholson, turned their attention to the South
Island, and an expedition was actually despatched thither by
King Louis Philippe, the destination being Akaroa on the
Banks Peninsula, near the site of Christ Church and Port
Lyttelton. Captain Owen Stanley, brother of the late Dean
of Westminster, who was stationed at the Bay of Islands,
heard of this expedition while the Treaty of Waitangi was being
negotiated. The Bay of Islands was the destination of the
French squadron, and, determining to anticipate any possible
act of annexation, he sailed at night, while the French ships,
FAube and Britomart, were actually alongside of him, and,
steering south, reached Akaroa, and, planting the British flag
there, took formal possession of the country in the Queen's
name* (August n, 1840). The French, finding the English
vessel gone, and suspecting the object, instantly followed, but
did not reach Akaroa till four days after Captain Stanley.

In face of this fait accompli, M. Guizot, commenting on the
transaction, observed that the French could not set up against
the anterior possession of the British Government. It became
necessary to seek elsewhere than in New Zealand for the ex-
tension of French rule in the Pacific ; and Captain Thouars,
having returned from a voyage round the world in the Venus,
presented to the Minister of Marine a report on the Marquesas

We may feel assured, however, that had it not been for the
prompt action of the commander of the Tory at Port Nicholson
in the North Island, and afterwards that of Captain Owen
Stanley at Akaroa in the South Island, the French would have
made their claim good to one or both of the New Zealand
islands, and they would now be French colonies. The object
of the French was twofold, viz. to obtain a good maritime
station as well as a convict station ; and had they succeeded
in either project, they might indeed have proved to be a thorn
in the side of our Pacific colonies. In all probability the Fijian
group might have been annexed by them also. As things are

2o8 British Colonisation

now, the French reddiviste question has created an extraor-
dinary amount of friction, in spite of the distance of New
Caledonia. The New Zealand Company, therefore, certainly
deserves a generous recognition as having been the undoubted
instrument of practically effecting the colonisation of the
country, and of preserving it to England.

There was one man of unbounded zeal and remarkable
talent who by his writings and theories was destined to move
forward the cause of New Zealand colonisation, and this was
Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Up to 1831 the general practice
of the British Government had been to grant land in her
colonies for nothing without stint as to quantity, but Wakefield
contended that this disposal of waste or Crown lands was
foolish and short-sighted. It was better, he said, to sell these
waste lands 'for ready money, and utilise the sum thus realised
as an Emigration Fund for defraying the cost of the passage of
labourers to the colonies. Thus labour would be sold, as it
were, along with land, and from the funds of the capitalist the
new acres of a new country would at once acquire a consider-
able value. Lands would not be without hands, and population
would be concentrated at convenient places. Wakefield drew
a distinction between emigration and colonisation. As hitherto
carried on, State emigration was of a loose, promiscuous kind,
degrading to the individual and subservient in every way to
the State. Wakefield endeavoured to raise the conception of
colonial life, and asked for a greater amount of local govern-
ment. In the case of South Australia this was refused, and
this refusal is said to have been the cause of breaking up the
South Australian settlement and sending the colonists to join
the rebellious political unions of the time, whilst others sailed
for the United States, where they prospered, although they
resembled Irish-Americans in their feelings towards England. 1

It must be remembered, also, that according to Mr. Wake-
field's plans emigrants were to be selected from both sexes,
and thus a distinction and a very broad distinction, too
1 Art of Colonisation, p. 47.

New Zealand 209

would at once be drawn between them and the riff-raff that had
hitherto been shovelled on to Australian shores. It was
obvious, as Mr. Charles Buller remarked in his Parliamentary
speech of 1843 on systematic colonisation, ' that such a selec-
tion of emigrants would relieve this country of the greater
amount of actual competition in the labour market, and also of
those most likely to contribute to the increase of population,
whilst it would remove to the colonies, at the least possible
expense, the persons whose labour would be most likely to be
useful.' Such, in the main, were Gibbon Wakefield's ideas.
They were adopted by the Colonisation Society of 1830, and
commended themselves to the Duke of Wellington, who
bluntly said that the experiment ought to be tried and the
name of Wellington in New Zealand bears witness to his advo-
cacy to Archbishop Whately, and a new school of colonisers
led by Sir William Molesworth.

It must be remembered that Gibbon Wakefield was par-
ticularly well qualified to inaugurate new ideas and a new policy
with regard to British colonisation. He had resided in Canada
as a colonist, and had been elected a member of the House of
Assembly in that country during the administration of two of
its Governors, Sir Charles Bagot and Lord Metcalfe. He not
only approached colonial questions from their economical
aspect, but also from their strictly political side. Colonial
freedom was, in his opinion, to be a reality, self-administration
a logical sequel. England's colonists were identical with
Englishmen at home, and, sooner or later, were bound to be
entrusted with their own destinies. The ties between Great
Britain and her colonists would not necessarily be loosened
by this delegation of governing power ; on the contrary, they
might be made stronger than ever, and a cessation from undue
or vexatious interference would become the starting-point
whence a vigorous and natural attachment would spring up
between the colony and the Mother-country. That these ideas
of colonial reform should be hatched in Canada was just what
might have been expected from the state of affairs in 1830-1840.


2io British Colonisation

The old system of colonial government was breaking down,
and the Canadian colonists were, by force of circumstances,
continually being driven to assert local independence and
local liberties as against the nominated Executive. Lord
Durham in his famous report, termed the Charter of Colonial
Liberties, described the state of things in Canada as that of a
chronic collision between the executive and representative
bodies in all the North American colonies. 'In each and
every province the representatives were in hostility to the
policy of the Government, and the administration of public
affairs was permanently in the hands of a Ministry not in
harmony with the popular branch of the Legislature.' Gibbon
Wakefield is rightly credited with many of the important re-
forms which are contained in Lord Durham's famous report on
the state of Canada ; and to his influence the Right Hon. Sir
C. B. Adderley (Lord Norton) gives abundant testimony in
his review of the Colonial Policy of Lord J. Russell's Adminis-
tration by Earl Grey. Moreover, such was the state of the
colonies and the general importance of colonial questions
about this time, that John Stuart Mill's assertion to the effect
that colonisation * was the very best affair of business ' in
which the capital of an old and wealthy country could possibly
engage found an echo in the breasts of the most thoughtful
and enlightened Englishmen.

When the British flag was firmly planted, New Zealand
colonisation went speedily on. On January 25th, 1840, the
first public meeting was held in Plymouth, on the subject of
the colonisation of New Zealand from the counties of Devon
and Cornwall; and in less than two months the Plymouth
Company of New Zealand had disposed of one quarter of a
contemplated * New Plymouth ' in New Zealand. The Earl of
Devon was president of the West of England board; and
amongst the directors appear the names of Sir Anthony Buller
(Pound), John Crocker Bulteel, Esq. (Fleet), Sir William
Molesworth, M.P. (Pencarron), E. W. W. Pendarves, Esq., M.P.
(Pendarves), Edward St. Aubyn, Esq. (Devonport), Right Hon.

New Zealand 2 1 1

Lord Vivian (Glynn), and T. Woollcombe, Esq. The
governor of the New Zealand Company was Joseph Somes,
Esq ; the deputy-governor Hon. Francis Baring (afterwards
Lord Ashburton); Viscount Ingestre, M.P., Lord Petre, H.
Aglionby, Esq., M.P., Charles Buller, Esq., M.P., Russell
Ellice, Esq., William Hutt, Esq., M.P., Ross Donnelly Mangles,
Esq., M.P., Stewart Marjoribanks, Esq., M.P., John Abel
Smith, Esq., M.P., W. Thompson, Esq., M.P., Hon. F. G.
Tollemache, M.P., George Frederick Young, Esq.

The colonisation of New Zealand was under distinguished
patronage, and the experiment of the 'New Plymouth,' dif-
ferent indeed in motive and conception from New Plymouth,
Massachusetts, answered well. West-countrymen joined in
the undertaking with ardour. On the iQth of August, 1840,
the London, the fourteenth vessel chartered by the New
Zealand Company, carried out the surveying staff of the Ply-
mouth Company ; and on the 3oth of October the approaching
departure of the pioneer expedition was celebrated at Plymouth
by an entertainment given by the directors, at which no less
than four hundred persons were present, the Earl of Devon
being in the chair. It was on this occasion that it was first
publicly announced that the Government, who had been
antagonistic to the scheme, had now altered their views ; and
an official letter from Lord John Russell was read showing
that the various objections which had hitherto been raised to
the proceedings of the Company were now removed. This
news was carried out to Wellington in February 1841, and
created great satisfaction. In August 1840 a royal charter was
granted to the Company, giving them, along with other im-
portant privileges, an undoubted title to about 1,000,000
acres of land, and guaranteeing to them, in future, indemnifica-
tion in land, at the Government price, for their outlay in sur-
veys and emigration.

It should be mentioned, also, that a New Zealand bishopric
was formed, the Company making a grant of 4000 acres and
the New Zealand Church Society purchasing a like amount.

212 British Colonisation

The Company bound themselves to expend, in respect of the
whole 8000 acres, the usual proportion of their funds in
emigration. The first Bishop was the Rev. G. A. Selwyn.

In addition to the Wellington and New Plymouth settlements,
that of Nelson was also formed under the auspices of the Com-
pany. In September 1841 an entertainment was given by the
Company at Blackwall to celebrate the departure of the Nelson
settlers, at which the Duke of Sussex and many influential

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 18 of 31)