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TARANAKI COMPENSATION.

[From the Daily Southern Cross, October 11.]

The October mail carries to England despatches from the New Zealand Government ,of immense importance to this colony. Among the measures reserved for the sanction of the Imperial authorities are the Native Lands Bill and the Auckland Waste Lands Act Amendment Bill. The former is of general application in, the North Island ; the latter is 'of local importance, and on becoming law must stimulate our settlers, who have been living in the hope of obtaining a Crown Grant at the end of five years, to increased exertions, seeing that this period of probation will be reduced by two years. There is yet another measure which, although it has received his Excellency's assent, requires the Imperial guarantee before it can be of any use to the colony. We refer to the Halfmillion Loan Bill, 1862. Two things contemplated by the Loan Bill are the re-estab-lishment of the province of Taranaki, and the formation of roads in the various pro.vinces of the North Island. These are the •more important considerations ; but there is a third which may have -greater influence with the Chief Secretary of State for the

Colonies, namely, that it is proposed to repay the Home Government their war claim, on account of the Taranaki campaign, out of the half-million loan. It is not improbable that

as the commercial element is now paramount in the colonial department, the Duke of Newcastle may be induced to advise the guarantee for the sake of securing the amount of the Imperial claim, which he well knows the colony cannot otherwise pay, and which in fairness should never have been asked for. The quarrel was an Imperial affair altogether ; it was conducted for Imperial purposes, and ter-

minated ingloriously when it suited the representatives ,of the Crown to patch up a hollow peace. Yet the colony of New Zealand does not wish, to stand upon the rights of the case. Our legislature have shown a spirit of liberality which is without parallel in any other colonial dependency of the Crown. While protesting against the claim as unjust, they .undertake its discharge, and only ask the Imperial Government to lend its name to their loan, to enable them to raise sufficient money, at a reasonable rate of interest, as a debt against, the colony. We can hardly anticipate a denial to this request. The success of our colonization in the North Island depends upon it, and the claims of the Home Government never will be met by a money payment from New Zealand if this favour be refused. We may have the greater hope, therefore, that- the Duke of Newcastle will assent to the jproposal. On the wisdom of making roads in this and the sister provinces of the North Island, we will not enlarge, as it must be self-evident. As a matter of po~licy, this work of road-making must be prosecuted with vigour, whether we have an Imperial guarantee to our Loan Bill^ or not. -TfeebestrinteresT3~oT ffie"^6Tiy r ~3emancL it : because the country cannot be opened, nor can the natives of. New Zealand be civilized, without the construction of highways. But unless we have the guarantee in question our efforts in that direction must be limited. We will fall far short of the requirements of the case ; while the greafr task of reinstating the settlers of Taranaki must be altogether abandoned. According to Mr. Sewell's award, the loss suffered by the settlers, of Taranaki amounts to the sum of £191,000 ; but if the waste of time and interest on the capital lost be taken into account, this figure will fall far short of , the actual pecuniary injury, inflicted on these people. It should always be borne in mind that the loss sustained by the settlers of Taranaki was occasioned by order of the Imperial authorities. First, there was the proclamation of martial law, and , then the entire male population capable of bearing arms, were called out as a militia, and handed over to the military commandant as part of the regular troops. They, had no voice in the matter, and were amenable to the Articles of War and Mutiny Act. The Bell Blockhouse and Qmata Stockade, which the settlers built to assist them in defending their lives and properties, were taken possession of by the commandant as " points of observation," and the settlers, were compelled to observe the destruction, of their homesteads, and the removal of their live stock by marauding natives, without taking any steps to protect them, although they were well able to do so. They bore all that patiently, because tbe mi-, litary chief directed them. When they saw that the struggle was likely to be protracted, many of the settlers determined to sell what remained of their stock, to prevent it falling into the hands of the natives, but Col. Gold would not allow them to do so, on the ground that the live stock might be wanted in the province during the war. Exports of provisions were prevented ; and the settlers saw all they possessed scattered to the four winds, at the beck of the commander of the forces, who seemed to regard such destruction as of little consequence. The Commissariat did not buy the stock from the settlers ; and on General Pratt, taking the command he censured the colonists for not disposing of their cattle, instead of allowing them to go at large for the sustenance of the rebels. Finally, when the natives had exhausted their warlike stores, and could continue the war no longer, they were allowed to^epart under cover of a truce, sweeping with Hilton nearly every head of cattle in the "country.' Homesteads were ruined, and a settlement once justly named " The Garden of New Zealand," was turned into a howling wilderness. All this was the result of an Imperial quarrel, with which the colony had nothing to do,; and for which they were not responsible. The settlers of Taranaki have a just claim for compensation against the Home Govern-, ment, but they do not press it. They went to the Colonial Legislature and asked for a loan of £200,000, without interest, to rein-

state them in their farms, and restore the province to its former position, pledging themselves to pay the principal. The General Assembly responded to the call, at the same time reminding the Home, Government that this, as well as the Commissariat expenditure during the war in Taranaki, was clearly an Imperial charge. But they require the Home Government to endorse their bill. Without an Imperial guarantee the loan would not be taken up in the English market, nor would the unfair demands which the mother country make upon us stand any chance of being liquidated. New Zealand has spilt her blood and treasure freely on behalf of the British sovereignty, and the supremacy of the law in this country. If necessary, we are prepared to do so again ; but we require to be treated with some little consideration. Whether a once flourishing province is to be handed over to barbarism for an indefinite period, depends upon the reply of the Home Government to Sir George Grey, in reference to the Loan Bill. Even now the progress of barbarism in Taranaki is marked. The Tataraimaka Block, and part of the Omata and Waitara blocks are claimed by ,the natives by right of conquest. Every vestige of cultivation is rapidly disappearing. The Maoris forbid the Europeans to make a road upon their own land within six miles of the town of New Plymouth, and they have talked of " cutting a line close behind the town, and forbidding any one under pain of death to cross it." Our readers likewise recollect the circumstances connected with the wreck of the Lord Worsley, and must be aware of the danger to life and property that exists on the Taranaki coast. To prevent the continuance of this — to restore the province of Taranaki and reinstate the settlers, as far as money can effect these results, the national honour is pledged ; but the colony has volunteered to relieve the mother country of the. burden. Let us hope that the Imperial authorities, since in colonial matters they have ceased to be statesmen and have become traders, will- see it is their interest to close with the offer, and do the little act of kindness which New Zealand asks of them.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

TARANAKI COMPENSATION., Taranaki Herald, Volume XI, Issue 537, 15 November 1862

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1,400

TARANAKI COMPENSATION. Taranaki Herald, Volume XI, Issue 537, 15 November 1862

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