New Zealand Residents Plot Resistance to Poll Tax

In 1868 a poll tax was snuck onto the residents of New Zealand. Some decided to put up a fight. On a group met in Parnell to blow off some steam about the tax and to plot what to do next. Here are some excerpts from a newspaper report about the meeting:

[John George] would say, in conclusion, that they had the matter in their own hands, and they ought strongly to protest against the tax. (Cheers) For his part he would not pay the tax unless forced to do so — (great cheering) — and he hoped all there would do the same. (Cheers.)

[James Wrigley] saw that summonses had been issued against eight persons for this poll tax — (hisses) — and the cases would come before Mr. Beckham on . He would suggest that they should subscribe to defend these people, and carry the cases to the Supreme Court. (Loud cheering.) He would give £1 for that purpose rather than 10s. for the tax — (cheers)…

The Rev. S. Edger, who was received with great cheering, said: … I have been astonished at the apathy, and I may say the servitude, of the people of Auckland. Instead of calling meetings long before, they had left it to the country districts. These have initiated the matter, and they will carry it out. (Cheers.) I know a little of the country districts, and I am quite sure they will not pay the tax. (Cheers.) … I do not look upon this as a question of paying 10s. — that is a trifle, — but whether the people of this province will submit to be trodden upon — (cheers) — whether despots shall be permitted to override our laws by this utterly un-English Act, and really to take away our liberties. (Cheers.) I believe this occasion is one of the most important in this history of New Zealand.

[W.J. Speight, jr. said] I believe that if I pay such an infamous and degrading tax I should become a mere John Chinaman — (Cheers) — unlike one of a nation to whom I think we are and ought to be morally and intellectually superior. (Cheers.)

This is probably an allusion to the poll tax that New Zealand already applied to Chinese immigrants. Speight continued:

Sir, I feel very strongly on this tax, and, as the collector of this tax is present, I say it distinctly in his hearing — and he may note down my words if he chooses — I will never pay this infamous tax — (cheers) — and I will go into the Stockade before I will ever pay one farthing of it. (Loud cheers.)

Edger later added:

I fully concur in the remarks made in reference to the necessity of defending these men who are likely to be prosecuted; and, if a subscription is commenced to defend them, I should be very happy to lay down my £1 to it. (Loud cheers.)

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