Friday, April 1, 2011

US Ambassador visits Clendon House, Rawene

I caught sight of an article in the NZ Historic Places Trust latest newsletter today:
“There has always been a very high awareness and appreciation of the earliest formal diplomatic and trade connection between the United States and New Zealand by American officials, and we really value that ongoing relationship,” says the Visitor Host of Clendon House, Lindsay Charman.

“We were delighted that Ambassador Huebner was able to take time out of his busy schedule to visit Clendon House and experience first hand some of the history of the relationship between the United States and Colonial New Zealand.”

James Reddy Clendon is an important early figure in New Zealand history. His story is inextricably linked with that of the emergence of New Zealand as a nation state as well as our relationship with the US.

Actually, I wouldn't have thought James Reddy Clendon was a very good example to have of the early diplomatic relationship between the United States and the New Zealand colonial outpost of the British Empire back in those days. Earlier, I posted the following about Clendon:
Captain Clendon was the first diplomatic representative the United States here. Indeed, he was the second foreign representative of any nation here, after James Busby (for the British Empire). On 12 October 1838, the U.S. State Department appointed him as the United States consul at the Bay of Islands. Two years earlier, ten American shipmasters had petitioned their government to provide a representative in order that something could be done about the disorderliness of that country’s whaling crews. Bearing in mind that New Zealand wasn’t a country as such back then, the choice of a resident British merchant who had dealings with both the whalers and local Maori probably wasn’t thought to be a silly one at the time. It did prove somewhat embarrassing later when, in 1840, Clendon was apparently not only involved to some (still debatable) extent with the preparing of the Treaty of Waitangi, he was a signed witness to the document which established British rule in New Zealand, thus potentially acting against the wishes of the nation paying his salary and providing him with the flag flown over his place of business. To Washington, after all, Britain was a trading rival when it came to the whaling and sealing industries, and then there was the matter of trade with China and around the Pacific Rim to consider. A British New Zealand government would also soon impose regulations on foreign shipping – that of the United States included. To add salt to the wound, Clendon went on, still as a U.S. Consul, to accept office as a Justice of the Peace from the new colonial government, and served as a member of the first Legislative Council under Hobson.

Washington found out a year after the Treaty was signed exactly what Clendon had been up to, and on 20 April 1841 the Acting Secretary of State Fletcher Webster reprimanded Clendon and directed him to resign his commission forthwith (I imagine via a memo which began to make its long journey back down towards New Zealand. It crossed with a final despatch dated six days before that from Clendon saying that he was resigning.)

Seeds of doubt and some mistrust as to national and international agendas remained between New Zealand's authorities and the US, through to the 1860s and the coincidence of the American Civil War with our own Land Wars. The Orpheus was down this way more as a bit of sabre-rattling should the Union side in the Civil War think of starting something down here, when Britain supported the Southerners.

Clendon was involved in some dodgy trade deals involving the US, years before the Treaty -- the Cloudy Bay Oil saga a case in point.

This report from the Northern News (16 March), was less committal than the one from NZHPT:
United States ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner was the third ambassador to visit Clendon House in Rawene when he dropped in for afternoon tea on March 9.Mr Huebner, partner Dr Duane McWaine and two embassy staff spent about 90 minutes at the Historic Places Trust property during a low-key tour of Northland.They were greeted by a welcoming party that included Clendon House manager Lindsay Charman, kaumatua Bob Tito and Waimate Mission House manager Mita Harris.Mr Huebner listened attentively while Mr Charman told Clendon's story ...
He had also done his homework on James Clendon who witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Pictures hung in the house prompted a wry comparison between British colonials and Americans who traded with New Zealand but didn't try to claim it as part of their realm. "The Queen is everywhere. She must have maintained some favour."
 Well done, Mr Huebner. Very diplomatically put.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm interesting post indeed Lisa. I read this with fascination and the slight chuckle. Great post!