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THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC WHAT OF CONQUERED ISLANDS? SUGGESTED DISPOSITION INTERVIEW WITH REV. DR. BROWN. The future government of the Islands of the Western Pacific, many of which were until recently held by the Germans, was discussed by Dr. George Brown, the veteran Melanesian missionary in an interview with a Dominion reporter yesterday. First of all,- a word or two about our visitor's qualifications to speak with somo knowledge about these islands. Dr. Brown came to New Zealand 60 years ago in 1855 in the good ship Duke of Portland, along with the first Bishop Selwyn. In 1860 he entered the ministry of the Methodist Church, and went at once to Samoa, where lie remained for 15.years, and he has visited the Island many times since. From Samoa he went to commence the mission in New Britain. When he landed in New Britain in 1875 there was not a single white man in the whole of what was lately German New Guinea; New Britain, New Ireland, the German Solomons, the Admiralty Islands, or any of the numerous islands lately called the Bismarck Archipelago. In 1881, owing to ill-health, he left New Britain, and for three years he was in charge of a circuit in New South Wales, the only home circuit he has over occupied. In 1886 he was made general secretary of missions for his church, and ho held this responsible office for 21 years. While he/held this office he established two other missions, one in New Guinea and one in the Solomons. He was also dispatched to Tonga, as Special Commissioner to win back the seceded Methodists there from the influence of the well-known Shirley Baker. An Island In the Making. Naturally Dr. Brown's life among the savage peoples in these littleTknown islands has not been without stirring incident. One experience will serve as an instance. In Blanch Bay, New Britain, quite near to Rabaul, which the Commonwealth troops now hold,' is a little volcanic islet. It was Dr. Brown's privilege to see that island in the making, or very soon after it wa6 made. Certainly he was the first living being to set foot on it. Entering the bay after the eruption in 1878 he saw the little island in a part of the bay over which he had sailed his boat a score of times i The whole bay was almost boiling, fish were floating dead everywhere, and the sea for miles round was covered with pumice. He landed on the island when it was hissing hot. It was then about two and a half miles in circumference. Some 25 years later he landed on the island again and found it covered, with a luxurious growth of casuarina trees (a species of she-oak), thirty or forty feet high. On tho spot where these trees now grow, and where houses now stand, Dr. Brown has sailed his little boat. Probably no white man in the world has had such an experience.

Why the British Shsuld Occupy. Dr. Brown holds quite definite views about the future disposition of the islands of the Pacific. He first advocated annexation when he was in New Britain. "I felt a little sore at the action of the Foreign Office," he said to the interviewer, "in not acceding to the wishes of Australia and New Zealand by occupying all these groups in the first instance, but that is ancient history, and very interesting, however, as showing how the Foreign Office of that day was not fully aware of the vast importance of these groups to the future Commonwealth and Dominion. I strongly advocated the taking by Britain of all the unoccupied groups of the Pacific in 1883, at the time of the International Conference. I did this not jvith any ideas of earth hunger, but m the interests of the native races. For I believed with all my heart that with all our faults—and we have plenty of them —the British nation is the only nation that knows how to treat alien races with proper justice and consideration. My advice, unfortunately, was not taken."

What do you,say will be the future irr e ls ' alK ' s ' Dr. Brown was asked. "I hope," ho replied, "that it will be a condition of peace that the islands recently occupied by the Commonwealth and the Dominion will be retained. I am strongly of opinion that Samoa should be retained by the Dominion, and that New Britain and New Guinea should pass under the cortrol of the or be retained as Crown colonies. I think the British Government hasckept these Pacific islands under the control of the Commissioner for the Western Pacific for so long because the people at Home have never been sure of the ability of our Labour-Radi-cal Governments to control alien or savago peoples. But for that I am sure the Commissioner would have been relieved of control of these islands before now. Now, I think that the experience the Imperial authorities havo had of the direction by the Commonwealth Government of affairs in British New Guinea must have removed many of tho objections the Imperial Government may have had to handing these islands over to us before. With the assumption of power, the Commonwealth Government have realised the larger responsibilities that power entails, and so far as I know they have endeavoured to conform to the best British traditions in these dealings with the native races. I see no reason why Australia's responsibility should not be extended to the governance of the immense territories now in military occupation' of her forces.

No Mors German Colonies. "For those islands are going to be ours. We are going to win, and one of the results of the war will he that these Dominions will not allow any, riiore German colonies to exist in the Pacific. And I consider it very unlikely that the governance of these great captured territories can be effectively carried on by the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, residing as he does now at Fiji. My opinion is this: that Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji with the Cook Islands that you have now, will come under the control of this Dominion. Geographieallv these islands are associated with this Dominion. So it is also mv opinion that in all probability New Guinea ,_ New Britain, and the .Bismarck Archipelago will he handed over to he governed by the Commonwealth of Australia." T-lavont's you given us tho best lands in your disposition? "Well," replied Dr. Brown, "New Zealand, T should say, will lie persona grata with the Imperial Government. New Zealand has been very prompt in this war in realisinc her responsibilities a:- a part of the Empire, and that certainly has won commendation for her from all the English-speaking peoples of the world. It will be impossible to conclude a peace in which her claims to consideration arc not fully recognised." What tho Natives Will Think. Now rlo vou think this 'would he reKS.rdsd by the peoples a fleeted? "I say that it is well lsuown that

Samoa has time after time, before tho Germans came, asked to be associated with New Zealand. There were two visits to Now Zealand by deputations of native chiofs, and when 1 was there the natives wanted to be connected with New Zealand. In fact, it is from Samoa or thereabouts that your Maoris came, Tonga and Fiji would probably agree in the same way. Tho arrangement would be in liarmony witli their wishes ? What of tho nature of the governance these islands will require? "It will have to bo paternal for a while. But with regard to this question, you can't treat Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa in the same way as New Guinea, and New Britain' 'have to be treated at present time. In fact this is my main argument for dividing tho control of these groups. I say that supposing New Zealand got Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, the system of government for them _ can be practically uniform, whereas, if the Commonwealth takes New Britain and New Guinea,.a different s,vstem,_ a more paternal system, can well be uniform there. You could not possibly make laws for the governance of the native peoples that can be absolutely uniform in such widely divergent spheres as Samoa and Now Guinea, or Fiji and New Guinea. The natives of Samoa and New Guinea are much more advanced in civilisation. You can't call tho Fijian a savage to-day. Why, we have a Fijian studying law at ( Oxford University, and another a representative 'at the Methodist Conference."

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19150324.2.65

Bibliographic details

Dominion, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2417, 24 March 1915

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1,428

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2417, 24 March 1915

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