Ideals, policy & practice : the New Zealand Protectorate of Aborigines, 1840-1846 : a thesis presented in partial fulfullment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
In 1837 a Select Committee of the House of Commons delivered a report on the indigenous peoples of the various countries which had been, or were being, colonised by Great Britain. Concern was expressed over the effect colonisation had on these peoples, and a recommendation made that they ought to be protected. In New Zealand, this protection was to take the form of the Protectorate of Aborigines, a department which operated for six years from 1840. Established in conjunction with the Treaty of Waitangi, the Protectorate's duty was to give effect to the ideals of protection as expressed in the 1837 Report, and by the humanitarian lobby of the time, represented in the main by the Aborigines Protection Society and the Christian missionary societies. The Protectorate of Aborigines has largely been forgotten in the historical account of New Zealand. It is rarely discussed, and when mentioned is treated somewhat summarily. Since a thesis written by P.D.Gibbons in 1963, no major work on the subject has been undertaken, and it is rare if more than one or two pages are devoted to it. In general most accounts are negative. Alan Ward is an exception. In his writing he has positively acknowledged the work of the Protectorate in relation to the establishment of British law in New Zealand. However, more recently, Paul Moon asserted that the appointment of a Protector of Aborigines was little more than an attempt by the Crown to assuage its guilt for usurping Maori sovereignty, and taking Maori land. Furthermore, Moon claims that Clarke, as Chief Protector, had little value, because of his alleged land speculations. This is a common attitude to the Protectorate, which has grown out of the contemporary perception that it was a complete failure. However, further consideration of the evidence reveals that the Protectorate was a useful department which operated successfully albeit in a limited way.