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The Lyttelton Times.

Wednesday, January 25, 1860. An important topic for the consideration of New Zealand politicians was brought forward publicly for the first time by Mr. Sewell in his address to the constituency of Christchurch previously to his election. We refer to the question of separation between the Northern and Southern Islands, which at present compose the Colony of New Zealand. This question, though never hitherto to our knowledge urged by any public man, nor even prominently brought forward for discussion, has nevertheless been several times suggested— in our columns, as well as elsewhere—as one which must presently be considered and decided.

The chief reason urged by Mr. Sewell for desiring separation is one founded on the1 relations subsisting between the natives and the white settlers in the Northern Island, especially as regards the tenure of the lands, by the former. The argument is, in short—that the Europeans require the land; that tho natives demand a large and increasing ..price for it,:and even refuse to sell at all ; that no funds exist in the north sufficient to make purchases to the extent required j and that therefore one of two consequences is to be dreaded; first, that the Northern Island will seek

pecuniary help from its Southern Neighbour —in other words, rob us out of our land fund; second, that the Whites and Natives in the north may como to a collision, in which case the political connection must involve the South also deeply in the strife. Hence, anticipating* evil, Mr. Sewell urges separation as tho only preventative. Collateral reasons add weight to the argument: the seat of government, while the two islands are connected, if in Auckland will bo a constant hindrance and cause of complaint to the Southern settlers; if removed from Auckland, the necessary restraint on the native population, of .which Auckland is the centre, will be withdrawn. That is to say, the two islands cannot be properly governed as one colony ; and no General Government can be formed, which, having a proper seuse of responsibility to the Crown lor the good government of the Aborigines, can also do justice to the important interests of the South. iri short, the islands are two —geographically and physically—-as regards both the leadinginterests of the settlers and tlie fundamental policy of the government of either.

Admitting fully that the above reasons are cogent, and believing also that both Islands would be materially benefitted by separation, we must nevertheless not allow ourselves to take up the question as a cry, nor urge it simply because from one point of view it appears to be sound policy. We propose, therefore, to examine it as far as we can in all its particulars, with a view not. only that a fair decision may be come to upon it, but also that in the approaching Session of tlie Assembly, both representati les and the public may be fully acquainted with its bearings. The subject is large enough to occupy our attention from time to time for the greater part of the period which has still to elapse before the Assembly meets. Once and for all we would deprecate any absurd outcry against what is called 'destroying the integrity of the colony.' We know that there are some of our leading men who cannot bear to contemplate New Zealand as otlier than a single colony. We admit that as regards the rest of the Pacific these two Islands form one place geographically; just as the island called by the general name of ' Australia 'is one, and is held sometimes to include also Tasmania. But in their relation to one another the islands are essentially separate and distinct, as much so as any one of the Australian colonies from the rest. In climate, in physical character, in the conditions under which they have been settled, in the inducements which they offer for settlement, in the pursuits, interests —and we might say the characters—of their inhabitants, they are, taken each as a whole, widely different. The greater part of the Northern Island has no connection, commercial or social, with the greater part of the Southern, and no identity of interests. Under our provincial constitution, there is no part of the general administration that will not bear easy division; financial, political, departmental and all other arrangements are already localized: even the Customs would present no difficulty that a simple arrangement might not obviate. And as to the position which this colony holds with respect to others, though we may desire to please our vanity by displaying the statistics oi both islands together, this is after all but empty glory. We are not so high in the list of colonies that we need fear the fall each would sustain by being ranked separately ; nor so poor and hopeless as to be afraid of never resuming a fair position. We are not in any other manner dependent upon mutual aid for the position which we take with the rest of the world. There seems no reason, therefore, for the terror which some persons express at the mere mention of separation; and our efforts to set the question in its true light before our readers will accordingly not he embarrassed by so shadowy an objection.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/LT18600125.2.12

Bibliographic details

The Lyttelton Times., Lyttelton Times, Volume XIII, Issue 753, 25 January 1860

Word Count
875

The Lyttelton Times. Lyttelton Times, Volume XIII, Issue 753, 25 January 1860

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