6 November 2012

Yesterday was the anniversary of the occuption of Parihaka. It was the low point of the principles underpinning British involvement in New Zealand. It can possibly be seen as Anglo Saxon avarice overtaking humanitarianism.

 An article in yesterday’s Telegraph indicates how the British Government’s interest leading to the Treaty of Waitangi was truly exceptional.   That article reports the territorial aspirations of the British. It highlights how there are only 21 countries which now encompass territories that Britain has never invaded. Although most were through formal government action, a number were the consequence of officially endorsed piracy.

New Zealand was unique;  it was different.  The establishment of the colony resulted from an extraordinary alignment of the socially well meaning and the politically well connected.  There was a remarkable blend of romanticism and Christian idealism associated with the British Government’s consideration in 1839 of the situation in New Zealand and of how the interests of its “natives” would be best served.

The instructions of the Secretary of State to Captain Hobson exemplify this.  Lord Normanby’s expectations of British involvement in New Zealand – then seldom less than 6 months sailing time from  Britain –  are extraordinary in light of contemporaneous attitudes to the hardship of British subjects in Ireland. While many in Ireland,  only 2 days travel from London,  starved from official neglect, Lord Normanby’s instructions to Hobson included the expressly humanitarian  prescription that;

 “…All dealings with the natives for their lands must be conducted on the same principles of sincerity, justice and good faith as must govern your transactions with them for the recognition of Her Majesty’s sovereignty in the Islands. Nor is that all: they must not be permitted to enter into any contracts in which they might be ignorant and unintentional authors of injuries to themselves. You will not, for example, purchase from them any territory the retention of which by them would be essential or highly conducive to their own comfort, safety, or subsistence. The acquisition of land by the Crown for the future settlement of British subjects must be confined to such districts as the natives can alienate without distress or serious inconvenience to themselves…”

And elsewhere the British Government and its surrogates were pillaging, occupying and claiming sovereignty. Those characteristics were constrained in New Zealand by the administrations of Governors Hobson, Fitzroy and Grey (when influenced by Attorney-General Swainson), that strove to adhere to the Normanby instructions. Only in 1856 with responsible government, did acquisitiveness dominate policy, and mischiefs take place (which now require massive settlement payments).

Countries never invaded by the British:

Andorra, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Rep of Congo, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mali, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Mongolia, Paraguay, Sao Tome and Principe, Sweden, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vatican City.