Donald McLean Esq.
My Dear Sir,
I have with very great pleasure received your long letter of the 27th. September, as no mail leaves here for a fortnight, and the coaster by which I hope to send this is now actually under weigh great haste will prevent me doing justice and giving you a quid pro quo, as I should otherwise do if possible, and will also be my excuse for not doing so.
You pay me a very high compliment indeed in saying you would come this distance to see me, but as I am about to go to Auckland, shortly, I hope to see you there and to have the long chat you propose and I wish for without your having to go so many leagues for it. I hope to be in Auckland next month.
I see Natives and Native affairs are Natives and Native affairs still - I watched the debates closely being very much interested in the Native lands bill in particular, and could not help remarking once more the deep ignorance of the speakers both pro and con. as to the feelings and ideas of the natives on such matters and its probable effect on them My opinion of the bill is that it will not at all realise the expectations of its supporters and will probably cause consideable trouble and bickering amongst the natives themselves. You know that most, or much, of the land held in this country held by the natives is held and occupied by those who have
at the present moment power on their side while it is claimed in whole or in part by other natives who promulgate their claim from time to time and wait some opportunity to possess themselves of it offering such as the holders de facto becoming reduced in numbers or some other favourable circumstances. Now this difficulty to land purchasing was got over by the old settlers in a very simple manner viz. by paying both parties the claimants not in possession being generally willing to sell their precarious rights when the actual holders parted with theirs, but the weak point of the land act is in this. A court is to be established to decide on native title and give vouchers or Government written recognition of such title now when two rival parties come before the court we all know looking to past action of the Government that the Court dare not decide between them and so in so far as each case so supposed goes, and they will be many the Act looses its action - but the worst and by far most dangerous and embarrasing cases will be where the natives claiming land but kept out of possession by others will not appear before the court they will let a certificate or title be issued by the Government on the unopposed showing of the actual holders of the land, and then after the land has been sold claim its full value from the Government who they will aiffirm had no right to give a title to their land to others - in other cases they will take another course, that of ejecting the European purchaser, who in such a case would then have a just claim for compensation of course
some cases will occur where the natives being offered a high price will sell under the Act and prove their titles and no doubt some land will be obtainable in this way but as a whole I am sure the Act will not meet the expectations of its most sincere supporters. For my part I have no hesitation in saying that the old land purchase department was the best under all circumstances, and I also most decidedly agree with those who say that the natives have no right to the enhanced value of the land which we have given it in spite of their efforts to the contrary. As to their having all the rights of British I agree at once in respect of those who are not rebels who have no rights but a right of commonage which is about as near an approach to native title as can be expressed in one word in English, does not give a british subject even in England a right to sell, and I conceive that when we purchase land from the natives it is but this imperfect title we purchase and should pay accordingly. As to the general rights of the natives as british subjects as I have said I agree if any one asks me the question but I know this that to this day and hour I have never yet met one native who either acknowledges himself a british subject or who would not resist to the utmost the liabilities of a british subject if it were attempted to impose them on him, the most friendly natives think themselves allies of the Government, not subjects and as
they do not trouble themselves much with consistency when money is moving, they take salaries and allow themselves to be called Kai Wakawa etc. - but are nevertheless not subject - here in this place lately several serious offences have been committed such as housebreaking theft and forgery: - now the offenders have been complained of to the magistrate and the runanga Chiefs, and what follows? why nothing, neither the magistrate or the Runanga dare apprehend and punish the offenders because they know well that the offenders being not exactly slaves (petty chiefs of the lowest degree) instant loss of life would follow the attempt to apprehend them. The most that can be done is to try to persuade them to make restitution. I however think Governor Grey to clever a man to believe that he himself thinks anything of the new institutions except as a means to keep one section of the natives quiet while we beat the other, which we must do at last or give up the sovreignty of the country to them and themselves to ultimate destruction by their own acts. It is said in the papers that on a late occasion the Governor declared he would enforce the law and stated that the King of Waikato should submit to its decrees and be punished if he deserved it. Now the moment I see proof that such is the design of his Excellency I shall offer him my most sincere services and should they be accepted I will devote my whole energies to seconding his intention. I am no enemy but a friend to
to the natives and I know that their advancement depends on in plain terms their being forced in the first instance to submit to law. I have tamed wild bulls, wild horses and wild men in my time. There is always one struggle for natural, brutal, unprofitable, unrestrained liberty - which is in fact not liberty - and then all is over. The brute or the savage succumbs to force and afterwards willingly and with both pleasure and advantage submits to a salutary restraint.
I used to pepper away sometimes at the Fox Ministry, but shall from a principle of fair play for the present hold my pen. Let the present Ministry have fair play, indeed as they disclaim responsibility and have not much more harm left for them to do by Mr. Fox it would be hardy fair to blame them if the ship sinks seeing that others seuttled her.
You ask when will my next pamphlet appear? I sent it to McCabe and he got it a month or more ago, for his opinion and advice etc. etc. and to this time he has not even acknowledged its receipt which I confess I do not take as a compliment. I am indeed extremely annoyed and sorry I sent it at all, the more so as I myself believe it to be far better i.e. that is more valuable than ''the war'' it is ironical, satirical semipolitical with lots of fun, and many serious and striking scenes from old native life and habits, and in a word shews indirectly without
ostencibly pretending to do so what sort of a creature this Maori is who we have to deal with. You and I know him but it were well others did also. Let the book be good or bad you are due for the praise or blame for in your last letter you asked me for ''another yarn'' and so I wrote it, intending to publish in the N.Z. Magazine but when my pen got running it would not stop till the book got too big and also it would be spoiled by cutting up in Chapmans Mag. so I sent it to McCabe. It is much larger than ''the War'' but I cannot account for McCabes: not having taken the slightest notice either of it or my letter which accompanied it. I have also another thundering big book on hand which has taken fifteen years from time to time to write. It is finished and I am very glad to think I did not send it also as I was about to do. I have made up my mind that if McCabe does not soon let me hear of his having at least got the M.S.S. I shall send a copy I kept to be printed somewhere else. It is strange also that you have told me more about the success of ''The War'' than ever Chapman my publisher has, he has not said if it has sold or how many copies have gone off but he is continually bothering me to write for him - though when I was at Auckland last I offered to write him a story and he did not accept my offer. He now says I promised to write for him and I am going to write and tell him the truth in the matter in answer to
my offer he told me he had got the best writers in the country as contributors and would not engage to print anything I wrote unless he had my consent to alter or strike out any part he chose. You say Varty was saying he hoped I would give a second edition but I do not understand whether he meant a second edition of ''The War'' or a second story. McCabe has got the second story as I have said. If Mr. Varty means a second edition of ''The War'' I suppose the first has sold off but in fact I know nothing about it Chapman not having given me any information whatever on the subject. If Mr. Varty thinks another edition of ''The War'' would go off I would have one printed and give it to him to sell.
In my last I have for your sake devoted about six lines to giving Fenton the gripes. I fancy he wont eat much dinner the day he reads them. I hope McCabe will soon let me hear about the M.S.S. and what he thinks of it some parts would be perhaps the better of retouching as it was written in haste, but as a whole I think a good deal of it.
There has been much sickness here and many deaths among the natives. Typhus fever. There is no other news, every thing quiet and comfortable the natives friendly and well disposed taking their salaries and doing nothing which is a good deal, as it means they are doing no harm. Of course there are now and then a few crimes committed as
everywhere else Hokianga being not quite as yet a garden of Eden and indeed even there some mistakes were made, but as the offenders go unpunished all parties are content but the sufferers, who are not many and of no account, and the thieves remain in consequence ''Loyal'' and ''friendly'' thieves.
I had a letter from Mrs. Browne some time ago and sent in return a rather extensive dissertation on things in general to amuse our old Governor. The Natives here continually speak in favour of Governor Browne though he had not much money to give them. One of the Chiefs told me the other day they were going to write a friendly letter to him.
I am gradually getting out of business and have now only some debts to collect after which as I must have work I shall I think go in for politics. I should have liked to have been in the house of Wiseacres during Foxes time just to torture him I like to torment impudent conceited chaps like him and what is more I can do it in my own way, talking of tormenting I don't understand what you allude to when you say ''I notice the hit you gave B. in your pamphlet''. If you mean in ''The War'' I really don't remember what you allude to, in my last not yet printed and which I suppose you have not seen I have hit out at the old land Commissioners in a general way and where I got particulars Colonel Godfrey is the individual on whom I have lavished vitriol. I hold to the opinion that you are
that you are too good a Christian not to write me another epistle when you get this if you are not too busy it will either find me here or meet me on the road to Auckland. If you should have time to do so pray enlighten me as to Mr. Varty's hint of the ''second edition'' and also your allusion to B.
In the north here I have been at once put down as the Author of ''The War'' which by the bye I am in more sences than one for if it had not been for me old Walker and all the natives would not have turned out and I actually brought in the instance twice as many men to the scratch as Walker and he refused to take arms till I promised to join him with what men I could raise and so having set him on his legs I let him have all the credit much good may it do him. I however do not acknowledge my doings and only say when I am accused that it is hard no one can do anything clever but it is immediately said to be me.
It was not his Excellency who made peace as it is called at Kaipara, before he got there the Native chiefs I told you of had succeeded in preliminaries, and his Excellency only substituted a truce in place of their peace. These natives have however received a letter of thanks for their exertions. I however do not see what the duce harm there is in the natives keeping their hands in a little at fighting so long as it is amongst themselves poor things! are they to have no amusement? they cannot pass the time any other
way agreeably that I know of, and when they are not fighting they are sure to be in some mischief or other.
I have not seen Swainsons book yet. I hear Sir James Alexander has also a work on hand I intend to get them when I hear they are both out.
I fear you cannot read half this scrawl I have been writing by steamer and shall have to chase the schooner to the head to send it.
Believe me My Dear McLean,
Most sincerely yours,