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Alfred Domett came to the New Zealand Company settlement at Nelson in 1842 as a land-owning colonist. He remained in New Zealand for the next thirty years and rose to considerable prominence through his writing and his activity as public servant and as politician, both appointed and elected. In writing his prominence is in journalism, most notably in the Nelson Examiner, and in poetry, particularly his epic, Ranolf and Amohia. His public life began in 1843 with his championing of the New Zealand Company and Nelson settlers after the Wairau massacre. It continued with a period as Colonial Secretary in Grey's nominated New Munster council. In the provincial era Domett had various terms as an elected political representative. From 1866 to his departure from New Zealand he was a member of the Legislative Council. For fourteen months in 1862-63 he was Premier during which time, following Grey's lead, he seized the chance to quantify a proposal for the confiscation of Maori land. As a public servant he was most influential in his work as Registrar-General of land where, among other matters, he administered the confiscated lands. Fie was considered so valuable in that position that the 1870 Disqualification Act prohibiting people from simultaneously holding political office and civil service employment specifically exempted Domett. (1) Domett is noted for his prejudice towards the Maori, for an unwavering assumption of English superiority and for his forceful assertions of the need for a Roman imperial policy, in other words a harsh, even cruel, policy, so as to instil a fearful respect that would quash any thoughts of rebellion. Only from that base could Maori then be raised in the scale of civilization through the introduction of English ways of life. Writing to George Grey in 1861 and discussing policy towards the Maori, Domett stated, 'You know my old notions that respect for our prowess is a necessary preliminary to the introduction of our institutions--Bishop Selwyn, Judge Martin and Co. take a precisely opposite view. I think all experience of human nature and of the relations between savage and civilized peoples is against them.' (2)

Professional & Technical
January 1
University of Waikato
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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