The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas et Prevalebit. WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 1882. The Captive Chiefs.
[lssued at 4.40 p.m. j
The change of venue granted in the case of the captive maori chiefs Te Whiti and Tohu, has been a gracious act on the part of the present Government. The renowned prophet of Parihaka and his faithful adherentcan hardly fail to be impressed with the kind and considerate treatment they have experienced at the hands of the people whose laws they have done their best to set at nought. Indeed, many of our contemporaries have openly expressed the opinion that in treating the State prisoners as honored guests, and planning all kinds of pleasant surprises for them in the shape of pleasure excursions to the Exhibition, the factories and workshops of Christchurch, to say nothing about the wonders of Timaru, the Government is acting neither wisely nor justly. “Te Whiti and Tohu ” exclaim the dissatisfied ones “ are in no respect better than ordinary prisoners who are awaiting their trial for grave offences against the laws of the country, and no good and sufficient reason can be adduced why so invidious a distinction should be made between brown blood and white blood. The expense to the country of this injudicious feting and sight-seeing is altogether too great to warrant such foolish and uncalled-for extravagance.” On tire face of it, such grumbling does not appear unjustifiable, but yet the policy of the Government in the matter ot the offending Maoris is no foolish one. Te Whiti and Tohu are not ordinary prisoners, and although they have rendered themselves amenable to the laws of the Pakeha, the latter is wise in tempering mercy with justice. These maoris hardly realise the power, the importance, the greatness, of the people whose laws they have infringed. Let them but once become convinced of the strength, the wealth, and the power of the Pakeha, and it is imposssble to foretell the important results that may ensue. Many colonists had never seen the sights to be witnessed at the Christchurch Exhibition ; they had no conception, before that Exhibition was thrown open to them, of the advances made in the industrial arts and sciences since they left Home, years ago. Let any observer visit the Exhibition and mark the little crowds gathered around the machinery at work, at the goods manufactured here in the land of their adoption, at the thousand and one beautiful and interesting exhibits, and note the surprise and wonder of even educated and civilised people, and then think of the effect likely to be produced by these sights on the semisavage minds of the rebel chiefs. Indeed, those effects were surprising, the natives were filled with delight and amazement at the things they witnessed at the Exhibition and at the various factories and workshops in Christchurch which they have lately visited. Such experiences are an education for them, and have enabled them to realise in a way that nothing else could have taught them, the mightiness of the people for whom hitherto they had entertained feelings of but half-concealed contempt. Viewed in this light—the only light, we submit, in which it should be viewed—who can grudge a little time and money so wisely expended ? The present Government has shown itself not wanting in firmness when firmness was necessary ; they put down the Parihaka rising with a strong hand, and nipped the native rebellion in the bud, but they have also shown in their treatment of the captive chiefs a leniency and wisdom which all reflective persons must applaud.