British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

D. THE PACIFIC

28
THE REV. SAMUEL MARSDEN TO THE REV. JOSEPH PRATT, 4 June 18241

Parramata.

DEAR SIR,

In reply to your request for my opinion relative to the formation of a colony by Col. Nicolls2 in New Zealand, there will be some difficulties to meet, according to my judgment, of a serious nature. The greatest obstacle will be the Government of the Europeans. By what authority can they kept in subordination there? If the Europeans commit any act of violence, such as violating the wives of the natives, striking the negatives, taking any of their property by force, firing upon them with muskets, if only with powder, or any other wanton act, such conduct might prove fatal to the whole of the Europeans. If a body of good men were to sit down as colonists, at the River Thames, or perhaps more to the southward, they would prove a great blessing to the island. I am at loss to know what kind of effective government they can have in New Zealand. They cannot establish a colony there without penal and civil laws. Crimes will be committed, both by the Europeans and the natives, and if these crimes cannot be punished the colony would be soon overturned. As a missionary alone I could live in great safety, but a colony would not be safe unless established under some regular form of government. From the errors and misconduct of some in the mission, I have often been astonished that the missionaries have not been murdered. The natives have shown great forbearance on many occasion, and if a few missionaries cannot be kept in subjection without a Government, it will be difficult to manage a greater number of different character. At the mouth of the flesh water of the River Thames, about 20 miles perhaps from the sea, there is a very fine situation for a colony--could be easily fortified. and would be a very commanding post. I have little doubt but the ground might be purchased.3 The New Zealanders themselves are very sensible of the want of a protecting Government, and would rejoice if anything could be done to prevent the strong from crushing

____________________
1
C.M.S. archives: Australian Mission No.37.Printed in H.R.N.Z., vol. i, p. 627. Samuel Marsden had been a chaplain to the garrison in New South Wales since 1793, and had been primarily responsible for the establishment in 1814 of the C.M.S. mission in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Joseph Pratt resigned from the Secretaryship of the C.M.S. later in 1824. He had been Secretary when Marsden First mooted a New Zealand mission on his visit to England in 1808.
2
See above, pp. 446-7.
3
The concept to absolute alienation of land by freehold sale was quite unknown to Maori land law.

-519-

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