Politicians-in-waiting? : the case for a 'popular' involvement in agitation for representative and responsible government in the Province of Wellington, 1840-1853 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University

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In 2002, I completed my Honours degree dissertation entitled The Interposing Barrier: Perceptions and Expectations of the British Army in New Plymouth in 1855 1 J. A. Ward, 'The Interposing Barrier: Perceptions and Expectations of the British Army in New Plymouth in 1855', BA (Hons) Research Exercise, Massey University: Palmerston North, 2002. and this thesis has come about as an indirect consequence of the ideas and historical situations I discovered whilst completing its research. During 1855, many colonists in New Plymouth had become extremely dissatisfied with the level of authority that was exercised by those officials whose job it was to protect the fledgling colony from the consequences of local Maori intra-tribal conflicts. An example of this was an express lack of confidence in the authority of Governor George Grey's Resident Magistrates to administer an effective European style of law and governance to the 'uncivilised' and 'lawless' Maori population. Fears for the safety of New Plymouth and settlers in outlying areas, came to a head in 1855 during the Puketapu conflict where troops were requested in order to ensure this Maori conflict was not brought within the town limits or extended into an inter-racial war. Whilst many perceived that troops would be an active force of aggression to dissuade the proliferation of the conflict, the acting Governor, Colonel Robert Henry Wynyard, deployed elements of the 58th and 65th regiments to act in no further capacity than as an interposing barrier of peace keepers, the intent being to 'over-awe' Maori with their presence rather than by their action and prevent the involvement of Europeans in the dispute. When beginning this thesis in 2003, I originally intended to re-assess Wynyard's term as acting Governor, as he had been the butt of criticism not only for his relatively prudent actions regarding the deployment of these troops, but also on his refusal to make his own decisions regarding the implementation of responsible government into the newly formed General Assembly of the colony. It was this issue that dominated the Assembly's first through to its third session, and which eclipsed the importance of events in New Plymouth at the time. However, sources on the under-researched figure of Colonel Wynyard were scattered around the country and it quickly became apparent that such an exercise might be more suited to a researcher of better financial means. My research then led me to an assessment of the debate surrounding the issue of responsible government during these early sessions of New Zealand's first Parliament, and subsequently to the origins of this debate, with the first attempts at agitation to have a representative and responsible authority established in the colony. A quote I used in my dissertation from the editor of the Taranaki Herald about the need for a representative form of government re-captured my interest and made me wonder just who was involved in agitation for a better form of government? The editorial stated: You must agitate, as that is the fashionable word, til you get a pure representative government - no nominees - no toadies - but free, independent, honourable men of business who have talent knowledge and experience, to watch over your affairs, and who will resist the demands of despots in Downing-street. 2 The Taranaki Herald, 18 August, 1852.[FROM INTRODUCTION]
Wellington (N.Z.), Politics and government -- 19th century, New Zealand -- History, Representative government and representation