New Zealand declared a British colony

On May 3rd, 1841, New Zeland was declared a British colony. The previous year, when the British and Maori signed the Treaty of Waitangi, Governor Hobson declared: 'We are one people'. However, this article from our 1980 archive argues that this hope failed to be realised.

In his book, The Maori King , first published in 1864, John Eldon Gorst, the British politician, wrote:

The hopes of social advancement which the natives had formed when they first consented to share their country with the stranger, were disappointed. They did not fail to contrast the rapid alienation of their land with the slow improvement of their condition, and they feared that at this rate their lands would be gone before they had attained the desired equality with their white neighbours. Every function of Government seemed paralysed in comparison with the Land Purchasing Department. They were willing to sell their land for civilization and equality, but at no other price.

This was a remarkable and contentious passage at the time it was written, just over fifty years after the first settlement of New Zealand by whites: for would any nationalists surrender independence for good government or other favours conferred by foreigners? In a different way it raises large questions today. Will the Maoris ever want to become 'assimilated'? Or is it possible for two - or more - cultures to live side by side in amity and mutual enjoyment and sharing of life? The answers to these questions, questions that are being asked in many other countries today, are to be sought in the past as much as the present.

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