''The Native Question''
The Native Question has of late been much talked of, and several articles on the subject have from time to time appeared in the Auckland papers. I have however nowhere seen this Question properly defined much less answered, and as it appears to me to be one of sufficient importance to call for serious examination, I shall make the attempt.
Firstly then let us understand our subject what is the Native Question?
It appears to me that this Question divides itself into two parts. The first how to maintain for the present, or from day to day amicable relations with the native race. This I call the Question of temporary Expediency and it is not the less important from being of this character.
The second division of the Question is to my apprehension, How eventually to render the native race, actually and in fact, what they are as yet but nominally, British subjects. How in effect to subject them to the salutary restraints of laws, giving them in return that security in person and property, which is both the cause and safeguard, of civilization?
Unless we can answer the first part of the
question in a satisfactory manner we shall never arrive at a solution of the second, let us therefore approach this part of the question first.
It is fortunate that this part of the question is not how to create, but how to maintain amicable relations with the native people and it appears to me that those agencies which have given birth to the present favourable state of things are likely to besufficient for some time to maintain them, and time is what we require. This being the case it will be well to enumerate those agencies which have brought about a friendly understanding with the native people, and which I think sufficient for a time to maintian it, because it is time we require to enable us to bring into play, still more powerfull and permanent agencies for the civilisation of the Natives, than we have hitherto done. If we only gain time we gain all.
The First of the causes of the so far favourable state of our relations with the natives is the considerable commercial transactions continually taking place between the two races; and the fact obvious to both native and European that both parties are gainers by them in these transactions the European acts the part of Capitalist, and the native that of producer, the Native being enabled by the European to turn his raw produce into more valuable commodities, and the European in his turn obtaining a profit, and as the producer in this as in all other Merchantile
combinations cannot act without the Capitalists or the Capitalist without the producer, the two races are in so far dependent on each other, and by their own interests bound over, as it were, to keep the peace.
Secondly, the influence of the Government, as exercised by the Governor in person, by the country resident magistrates, and by the Native department, all acting in one way or another for good on the natives through their chiefs. This is a very powerful agency for good, though one which must for some time be exercised avowedly on the the principle of temporary exigence or expediency, and conciliation. The exclusive power which the Government holds to purchase land from the Natives, adds to this influence very much, and I believe that any alteration of the present system in this respect would be extremely disadvantageous in many ways, and here I will take occasion to remark that any sum of money set apart for what is called, native purposes should be entirely under the controll of the Governor himself that it should be ample in proportion to our means, and no part of it pledged to any specific object, but be disposed of only in such manner as the Governor should from time to time see fit.
Thirdly -- Respect for our military force. The events of the war in the north taught the natives that to fight us is at least no pleasant task, it is true they themselves fought much better than was at first expected
by many, but the result of the whole affair is that they would be very unwilling to enter into another contest with us unless on what they would believe to be a cause of great importance. We must nevertheless never lose sight of the fact that in the above affair we had only to contend with a section of a single tribe, and that though the natives are still much divided among themselves, yet were any question of general interest to arise which would cause a unanimity of discontent, or should one of those mental epidemicks so to speak, such as all masses of uneducated men are liable to cause them to oppose us, race, against race, our present military force would be found quite inusfficient.
The Commercial influence is on the side of peace and order, and tends to the eventual civilisation of the Natives, so is the influence of Government, exercised as I have already noticed, but nevertheless for some time we should be in a position to rely on military force, a position which we are not in at present, we will trust in providence also, but must remember that the designs of providence are worked out by human hands, and we the labourers must neglect no available means, never slumbering on our post, never ceasing to labour, never ceasing to think.
I have now enumerated three distinct agencies which have contributed principally to cause, and which do maintain at the present moment, the so far satisfactory
relations existing between the native and European races, and as I believe that these same influences will suffice under providence to maintain for some time the present existing state of things, I consider that I have answered the first part or division of the Native Question, namely -- How to maintain for the present or fromday to day amicable relations with the native race. This I have called the Question of temporary expediency.
The second division of the question is now before us -- namely -- how eventually to render the native race, actually and in fact, what they are as yet but nominally. British subjects how in effect to subject them to the salutary restraints of law giving them in return that security in person and property which is both the cause and safeguard of civilisation? I cannot see any very immediate prospect of the native race becoming a civilised people, but if they do, and what I have already stated be correct, that is, that their present state is progressive, it is obvious that time is all that is required, and that our attention ought to be directed to the perpetuation and support of those influences which have produced and do at present maintain this progressive condition.
No one I believe can object to the good old, conservative maxim of ''let very well alone'' when applied as it is by me, to a state of progression, a progression
natural, unforced, and the result of a simple and very visable train of circumstances originating in the contact of a civilised and enlightened nation, with a barbaric but very intelligent people.
There are however theorists who would endeavour to accelerate the progress of the natives, by superadding to the above mentioned, natural, and therefore secure, and healthy state of things; a new class of circumstances, highly artificial, avowedly experimental, and consequently in my opinion highly dangerous, and the worst feature of which is the proposal to admit the natives to a certain political status, to concede them certain judicial powers however small, or to be exercided amongst themselves, and to allow them to vote at elections. If we give the natives these powers they will not be slow to perceive the temporary advantage to be derived from an improper use of them, and they will seize on far more than it is intended they shall possess, and as they are not yet in a state sufficiently enlightened to enable them to wield with propriety the smallest portion of political power, and being at the same time extremely ambitious, self reliant, and unscrupulous, I can see nothing but anarchy, confusion, and the destruction of British supremacy in this island, as the probable result.
A highly educated and enlightened English gentleman, between twenty and twenty one years of age,
can neither vote, or be elected, or hold any office of importance in the state; he is however educated, or intelligent, by law of immature mind, in fact an infant, yet a savage grown old and hardened in the traditions of barbarism is according to the new theory competent not only to vote, but to be elected to a seat in our councils! in fact to become a legislator for civilised men.
When Ganibals and barbariana become our rulers which they soon will if we invite them to even dream of political rights, it will be time for every man who has the self-respect of a briton to leave these shores, where degenerate Englishmen succumb to the savage.
If the natives are allowed to vote at elections the will in the north quite outnumber the Europeans, and consequently return whoever they please. One of the first Honourable members they will elect will be a native gentelman of my acquaintance who I have seen breakfasting on the thigh of another native gentleman who happened to differ with him in opinion on a matter of moment, but who unfortunately found himself acting with a minority and consequently had to be eaten.
It will be necessary under the new system to have some new rules for the house, for instance the speaker must on no account be eaten till the close of the session, as that would delay business.
To a people not under the restraint of law any
concession of political priveleges is simply a farce, and an absurdity, in fact an impossibility, and the endeavour to make a lawless people, wield any, the smallest portion of political power, would only end in arming with the most effectual weapon against the peace and well being of themselves, and the rest of the community. The natives are at present out of the reach of the law -- a lawless people -- and untill the law is enforceable amongst them their political existence should be absolutely ignored.
I cannot therefore help thinking the best policy to be observed with regard to the native race is that which I have designated as the policy of temporary expedience, and which has carried us so far with a favourable result. It has produced a state decidedly progressive the rising generation of natives are more manageable than the last and they are in some respects beginning to desert the opinions of their fathers, and to contract ideas in some sort savouring of civilisation, the progress made as yet is small but will surely increase from day to day, if we can but maintain peaceful relations with them, and above all find them employment but if we too soon consider them to have passed their nonage and concede to them any political rights, or judicial or executive authority however small, we ruin all.
England I believe to be the most civilised and enlightened country in the world yet even there were not the laws supported by force, a force which every man knows it to
be hopless to contend against, life, property, and liberty, would soon be as unsafe as in central Africa, it is but too true that the original barbarian, lurks everywhere but skin deep, and that he respects nothing still but force mere unalloyed force, which he calls virtue. Let us not them delude ourselves into the belief that by giving the native race any political privileges whatever, on any social status at all, more than temporary necessity obliges us to do, that we can thereby persuade them to submit to restraint, or obey the law, you cannot ''persuade'' or ''induce''* a man to come and be hanged, even though you should promise to ao it with a silken rope.
Let us then go on as we have been, acting just as the exigency of the day demands, and trusting to the current of time to carry on the native race nearer and more near to a state of civilisation. We must not however hoist too much sail, there are rocks ahead, and shoals to be cleared which can only be avoided by the devious and erratic track of expedient policy, but when the day has arrived on which our force, that is to say our power of destruction, is visably, and palpably greater than that of the natives, on that day, and not before, the natives will have become a civilised people.
*See the speeches of the native minister explanatory of his policy -- which are made up of the terms ''experiment'' ''persuade'' ''induce'' etc. etc.