Instructions to Captain Hobson,
HM Consul to New Zealand
This extract is from "Instructions from the Secretary of State for War and Colonies, Lord Normanby, to Captain Hobson, recently appointed H.M. Consul at New Zealand, concerning his duty as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand as a part of the Colony of New South Wales, dated 14 August 1839."
... a very considerable Body of Her Majesty's subjects have already established their residence and effected Settlements there, and that many persons in this Kingdom have formed themselves into a Society, having for its object the acquisition of Land, and the removal of Emigrants to those Islands.
Her Majesty's Government have watched these proceedings with attention and solicitude. We have not been insensible to the importance of New Zealand to the interests of Great Britain in Australia, nor unaware of the great natural resources by which that country is distinguished, or that its geographical position must in seasons, either of peace or war, enable it, in the hands of Civilised men to exercise a paramount influence in that quarter of the globe. There is probably no part of the earth in which Colonization could be effected with a greater or surer prospect of national advantage.
On the other hand, the Ministers of the Crown have been restrained by still higher motives from engaging in such an enterprise. They have deferred to the advice of the Committee appointed by the House of Commons in the year 1836, to enquire into the state of the Aborigines residing in the vicinity of our Colonial Settlements; and have concurred with that Committee in thinking that the increase of national wealth and power promised by the acquisition of New Zealand, would be a most inadequate compensation for the injury which must be inflicted on this Kingdom itself, by embarking in a measure essentially unjust, but too certainly fraught with calamity to a numerous and inoffensive people, whose title to the soil and to the Sovereignty of New Zealand is indisputable, and has been solemnly recognised by the British Gov[ernmen]t. We retain these opinions in unimpaired force; and though circumstances entirely beyond our control have at length compelled us to alter our course, I do not scruple to avow that we depart from it with extreme reluctance ...
The necessity for the interposition of the Gov[ernmen]t has however become too evident to admit of any further inaction. The reports which have reached this Office within the last few months establish the facts that, about the commencement of the year 1838, a Body of not less than two thousand British Subjects had become permanent inhabitants of New Zealand, that amongst them were many persons of bad or doubtful character - convicts who had fled from our penal Settlements, or Seamen who had deserted their Ships; and that these people, unrestrained by any Law, and amenable to no tribunals, were alternately the authors and the victims of every species of Crime and outrage. It further appears that extensive cessions of Land have been obtained from the Natives, and that several hundred persons have recently sailed from this Country to occupy and cultivate those Lands. The spirit of adventure having been thus effectually aroused, it can no longer be doubted that an extensive Settlement of British Subjects will be rapidly established in New Zealand; and that unless protected and restrained by necessary Laws and Institutions, they will repeat, unchecked, in that corner of the Globe, the same process of War and spoliation, under which uncivilised Tribes have almost invariably disappeared as often as they have been brought into the immediate vicinity of Emigrants from the Nations of Christendom. To mitigate, and, if possible, to avert these disasters, and to rescue the Emigrants themselves from a lawless state of Society, it has been resolved to adopt the most effective measures for establishing amongst them a settled form of Civil Gov[ernmen]t. To accomplish this design is the principal object of your mission.
I have already stated that we acknowledge New Zealand as a Sovereign and independant State, so far at least as it is possible to make that acknowledgement in favour of a people composed of numerous, dispersed, and petty Tribes, who posses few political relations to each other, and are incompetent to act, or to even deliberate, in concert. But the admission of their rights, though inevitably qualified by this position, is binding on the faith of the British Crown. The Queen, in common with Her Majesty's immediate Predecessor, disclaims for herself and for her Subjects, every pretention to seize on the Islands of New Zealand, or to govern them as part of the Dominion of Great Britain, unless the free and intelligent consent of the Natives, expressed according to their established usages, shall be first obtained. Believing however that their own welfare would, under the circumstances I have mentioned, be best promoted by the surrender to Her Majesty of a right now so precarious and little more than nominal and persuaded that the benefits of British protection, and of Laws administered by British Judges would far more than compensate for the sacrifice by the Natives of a National independance which they are no longer able to maintain, Her Majesty's Gov[ernmen]t have resolved to authorise you to treat with the Aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her Majesty's Sovereign authority over the whole or any parts of those Islands which they may be willing to place under Her Majesty's Dominion. I am not unaware of the difficulty by which such a Treaty may be encountered. The motives by which it is recommended are of course open to suspicion ...