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30 Although Busby was politically aligned to the Tory party, the broader ‘Whig’ ideas of British and European history, in large part influenced by the eighteenth century Scots intellectuals, were widely held amongst the British elite. The Edinburgh Review was the vehicle for this ‘philosophic Whiggism’, defined as an ‘identification of modern European civilisation with the progress of commercial society’ and a belief in the necessity for economic expansion’, (Hilton, ibid, p 349, citing B Fontana, 1985).

31 N T H Williams, ‘The Williams Family in the 18th and 19th Centuries’, 2003, MS 2007/66, AML, pp 2-3.

32 Ibid, p 7.

33 Ibid, p 7.

10 complete with guns, sails and rigging, a model man-of-war from an encyclopedia.34 He did not have long to wait to fulfil his ambition. In 1806, at the age of 14, Williams joined the Royal Navy. His father’s friend, Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, arranged for him to join the Barfleur, a vessel of eighty-nine guns. A succession of different vessels followed, on most of which he saw active service in the Napoleonic War. Williams was injured in 1810 while serving on the Galatea, in an engagement against a French squadron. He was later (1848) awarded a medal for his contribution. The injury, though slight, troubled him for the remainder of his life. He served at the Cape, Madras, Calcutta and Mauritius, travels which must have opened his eyes to the diversity of British imperial interests. Williams passed his examinations for lieutenant in 1812.

While serving in the war against the United States, 1812-1815, he was assigned to the Endymion.

On her he saw his last but most dramatic and life-changing active service. After the Endymion captured the USS President, this ship, with Williams on board, narrowly escaped shipwreck, an uprising of the American prisoners, and a wild Atlantic crossing. Williams learned that he had been promoted to lieutenant on the President’s arrival in Portsmouth in March 1815.35 His naval experience reinforced in Williams a love of discipline and adventure. But he had also witnessed considerable bloodshed and had narrowly escaped with his life. When his cousin and brother-in-law the Reverend Edward Marsh pointed him to overseas missionary service, Williams was drawn to a dramatic change of career. His biographer and son-in-law Hugh Carleton aptly described Williams’ personality and outlook, formed in part from his naval


Born with an instinct of order, which manifested itself in the smallest details of domestic life, and which was developed, through that noblest school of training – the British navy, into the most punctilious regard for discipline, he troubled himself as little about the inclinations of others as he did about his own, where once “The Service” was concerned.

He had entered into a new service [of missionary] – a higher one; but carried into it the impressions graven by the old one. From his own great Commander above he took his

–  –  –

orders, and in carrying them out he exacted that obedience which he so rigidly compelled himself to pay.36 The missionary William Colenso, who was not on the closest terms with Williams, made a similar assessment of Williams’ character: ‘Mr Williams, though a strict precisian, would be bound by no rules, not even of his own making; he was very imperious and distant, almost of repelling manner, yet very kind hearted’. Colenso added, pertinently: ‘However he was eminently fitted for his post at that early time in this then savage land’.37 The CMS mission, struggling to survive on Williams’ arrival in 1823, required the stern and visionary leadership that he provided. His physical and mental courage was tested a number of times, especially on peacemaking expeditions following Ngāpuhi war parties to the south. Williams’ biographer, Rogers, tells of an incident that happened while Williams was endeavouring to broker peace

between Pomare and Titore in the battle for Kororareka in 1837:

…Williams was attacked by an angry Māori. The only weapon he had was a long slidingjointed telescope. His assailant expected a blow on the head, but Williams thrust the telescope against him. The Māori, seeing so short a portion was left in the hand, supposed the remainder had gone through his body, and by the time he discovered what had happened his anger had gone.38 Williams sometimes used physical force in situations of self-defence, but his usual mode of engagement was to use words. Initially his peacemaking efforts were ignored, but in 1832, Ngāpuhi fighting against Tauranga Māori complained ‘that Te Wiremu’s words lay heavy on them, and that their guns would not shoot’. Over time his words became effective and his mana with Ngāpuhi increased. In 1833 Te Waharoa of Waikato entrusted Williams with his patu to deliver to Tareha as a peace token. This incident reflected Williams’ standing amongst and beyond Ngāpuhi by this time.39

–  –  –

James Busby James Busby was of English descent on his father’s side and Scottish on his mother’s, with both sides sharing an aristocratic pedigree.40 The family possessed little property, however. Busby’s father carried on the profession of a mineral surveyor and mining engineer for much of his early years in Edinburgh. The family’s and Busby’s ambitions to make a way for themselves is seen in his tenacious lobbying of British officialdom to arrange the family’s passage to NSW. In due course his father became engineer of Sydney’s water supply. As an engineer, his father could be placed in Wakefield’s ‘uneasy classes’, especially in light of the family’s emigration to NSW.

Busby’s ambition is also seen in his visionary and entrepreneurial exploration of European wine making prior to the departure for Australia. He introduced the vine into NSW on his arrival and published a well regarded Treatise, followed soon after by a Manual, on viticulture. During this period, in his mid-twenties, he acquired 2000 acres of land for himself and his father and brothers acquired other grants of similar size. In Edinburgh, the Busby’s were on the periphery of fashionable, elite society. In Australia, the family as a whole appeared to pursue its ambition of becoming a sort of Tory colonial gentry. Busby’s Tory sympathies are quite evident from his later letters to family back in Australia.

While in NSW James also took charge of a farm of 12,000 acres at a male orphan school teaching vine growing, in consideration for which he was to receive one-third of the profits. He succeeded in making a profit, although this was almost stripped from him when an Anglican Church Corporation took over the school. Busby fought tenaciously with officialdom in NSW and secured a cash payout and a temporary appointment to the colony’s Land Board. At its termination he again engaged in lobbying the local authorities for a salaried position but was only offered what he considered beneath his station and expected remuneration. Eventually he returned to England, again to state his case with Government officials.

40 The following account of Busby’s background is derived largely from E Ramsden, Busby of Waitangi: H.M.’s Resident at New Zealand, 1833-40 (Wellington: A H and A W Reed, 1942), pp 23-37; and G Martin, ‘James Busby and the Treaty of Waitangi’, British Review of New Zealand Studies, vol 5, 1992, pp 13-22.

13 After some time he was appointed to the position of Resident in New Zealand – a position he himself had suggested to the family’s patron, Lord Haddington, in February 1832. He had earlier lobbied Governor Darling to appoint him ‘Guardian or Protector of Convicts’ in NSW, a role that already existed in regard to the West Indian slaves.41 Ideas of British Government protection for New Zealand pre-dated his New Zealand appointment. In 1831 letter from London to his brother, Busby proposed that he become ‘the authorised agent of the British Govt. in treating with the Native Chiefs [of New Zealand] for the Mutual protection of their own people and of the Europeans…’.42 Busby was associated with Thomas Fowell Buxton, the parliamentary leader of the antislavery movement from 1818 until 1837, and the Chairman of the House of Commons Aborigines Committee 1836-1837. In a letter of March 1833 to Buxton, Busby revealed himself to be a fervent supporter of the recently replaced Governor Darling. Busby believed that the Colonial Office ‘sacrificed an upright and indefatigable servant of the Public to the persevering malice & clamour of wicked men’. Governor Bourke, he added, had ‘thrown himself into the Hands’ of the anti-Darling clique. In a postscript Busby noted: ‘I consider it most unfortunate for myself and…for the Public service that I have been placed under the orders of [Bourke]…’ Even before taking up his position, Busby accused Bourke of rendering his appointment ‘virtually nugatory’.43 Hence, a rift with Bourke marked Busby’s New Zealand career as British Resident from the very beginning. Busby obviously liked Darling’s Tory creditials and disliked Bourke’s Whig ones. The NSW press had also charged Governor Darling with favouring the Busby family in NSW.44 It appears that Busby thought Bourke’s sentiments were in the opposite direction.

Bourke’s apparent ambivalence about Busby’s Residency may also have arisen from the circumstances of Busby’s appointment in London (without reference to NSW).

Martin argues that Busby’s apparent anti-Catholicism, anti-French attitudes when in New Zeland are understandable in view of his upbringing in Calvinist Edinburgh during Britain’s wars with Catholic France. These attitudes should also be seen in terms of general British antipathy to

–  –  –

Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Martin also points to the fact that the French undermined 40 years of Protestant missionary work in Tahiti in 3 years (1839-42) by the use of gun-boat diplomacy. The Venus affair referred to by Busby and Williams (above) was part of this series of events. An Irish priest had also acquired military protection for his presence in Hawaii. So Busby’s attitudes to de Thierry and Pompallier, along with his lobbying for British intervention, were understandable. He points to the National Covenant of 1638, signed by a number of Scottish clergy, and which secured their liberties, especially against Catholicism. Martin also suggests Busby may have viewed the Treaty as extinguishing the United Tribes in the same way that the Scottish Parliament was extinquished when it united with the Westminster Parliament in1707. Many Scots had embraced the Union for its commercial and other benefits. Busby’s childhood in flourishing Edinburgh, ‘the Athens of the North’, had no doubt given him a positive view of the Union. His letters certainly reveal a man who was ‘British’ rather than Scottish in his perceptions.45 The pre-New Zealand background reveals a Busby who was personally ambitious and tenacious, entrepreneurial and perhaps even visionary. He was a man who believed in his own worth and possessed definite ideas, some experience, and some knowledge when it came to colonial possibilities in agriculture and the ‘invention’ of governmental posts. He was also by nature serious, studious and at times pedantic.

Commission Questions This report was prepared pursuant to a Waitangi Tribunal research commission dated 28 April

2009. The commission sought a response to four questions:

(a) How did James Busby conceive of He W[h]akaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga/the Declaration of Independence in 1835, particularly with regard to: (i) its

–  –  –

international standing; and (ii) the practical effect of Te W[h]akaminenga/ the Confederation of the United Tribes it proclaimed?

(b) Do we know how Henry Williams understood the nature and effect of He W[h]akaputanga/ the Declaration, and, if so, did his Māori text effectively communicate that understanding to the signatories?

(c) What did Busby and Williams mean when they referred to Te Tiriti/the Treaty as ‘the Magna Carta of the Māori’?

(d) What does the available documentary evidence reveal about Busby’s and Williams’s understandings of the nature and effect of Te Tiriti/the Treaty, especially with regard to the relationship between kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga?

The body of this report consists of four chapters that will deal with each of these questions in turn. The conclusion will address the Tribunal’s May 2009 direction regarding the substantive issues of this inquiry, although the emphasis will necessarily remain on Henry Williams’ and James Busby’s understandings (being the focus of this commission).

16 Chapter 1: James Busby and the Declaration of Independence

–  –  –

Question (a):

How did James Busby conceive of He W[h]akaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga/the Declaration of Independence in 1835, particularly with regard to: (i) its international standing; and (ii) the practical effect of Te W[h]akaminenga/ the Confederation of the United Tribes it proclaimed?

Busby’s path to the Declaration

Less than a week after his arrival (as British Resident) in Peiwhairangi, the Bay of Islands, on 7 May 1833, James Busby had a Confederation of Chiefs clearly in view. In fact, he was ‘resolved to bend the whole strength of my mind to effect this object’. In Busby’s perception, the New Zealanders (that is, Māori) were an independently-minded people, their society divided into many tribes, each exercising a ‘Sovereignty’ independent of every other. He was not aware that they had ever had the ‘idea of confederating for any national purpose’ (although in warfare two or three tribes might combine), their chiefs being reluctant to surrender to the opinion of even a majority of other chiefs and tribes.47 The nature of native society was thus an obstacle to the formation of a national Government. But this Busby was determined to overcome, though he had been advised – probably by Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries – that his efforts would be crowned with success only if a take (reason) were found for provoking collective

–  –  –

action, and provided also that the chiefs believed themselves to be the originators of such action.

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