The Waikato War: Philanthropy and the Settler Fantasy
This chapter continues from Chap. 3 to argue that the discussion held in British and Australian newspapers also drew on variations in imperial racial thought and the lessons learnt in other colonies, particularly the inevitability of racial conflict in the colonies. The chapter argues that the war was an occasion for Australian commentators to petition against humanitarian meddling in colonial affairs while urging British military defence of the Tasman region. This moved beyond matters of fiscal expense and material production. Rather, settlers were validating the moral basis of their societies from external critique of their behaviour towards the ‘natives’ whose territory they had acquired. The colonial response to critics of settler society elicited a defensive posture best understood by looking at collective settler feeling. Australian newspapers were compelled to reject or deflect criticisms that the global settler colonial project was incompatible with Indigenous welfare. Often they employed ‘humanitarian’ rhetoric of their own. It argues that settler sensitivity to criticism was grounded in emotional bonds relating to their particular ‘way of life’.