The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Onslow, Right Hon. William Hillier, Earl of
Onslow, Right Hon. William Hillier, Earl of, G.C.M.G., late Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand, son of George Augustus Cranley (grandson of Thomas, 2nd earl, and nephew of Arthur George, 3rd earl), by Mary Harriet Ann, eldest daughter of Lieut.-General William F. B. Loftus, of Kilbride, co. Wicklow, was born on March 7th, 1853, and was educated at Eton and Exeter College, Oxford. He succeeded his great-uncle as 4th earl on Oct. 24th, 1870. He was one of the Lords-in-waiting in 1880 and again in 1886, and is Lord High Steward of Guildford. In Feb. 1887 Lord Onslow was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and in that capacity acted as Vice-President of the Colonial Conference in that year. He was also one of the British delegates at the International Conference on the Sugar Bounties. In Feb. 1888 Lord Onslow became Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, and in the next year was appointed to the Governorship of New Zealand, in succession to Lieut.-General Sir William Jervois. This post he resigned at the end of 1891, and quitted New Zealand in March of the next year, arriving in England in June. Lord Onslow, who was created K.C.M.G. in 1887 and G.C.M.G. in 1889, married in 1875 Hon. Florence Coulston, daughter of Alan, 3rd Lord Gardner. Lord Onslow, from the time of his arrival in the colony, manifested a strong personal interest in the land of his temporary sojourn, and gave evidence of his determination to give New Zealand associations a place in his after-life. His Excellency did what he could, by precept and example, to foster a taste for legitimate sport, he encouraged and aided the labours of Acclimatisation societies, and he used his personal influence with Ministers to get certain islands lying off the coast proclaimed as perpetual preserves for native birds, so as to save from extinction the various interesting species for which New Zealand ornithology has become so famous. He lost no opportunity of collecting rare birds for transmission to the Zoological Society of London, and commenced the formation at Government House of what may hereafter prove to be a very valuable ethnological collection. In further proof that he desired to have his future linked with New Zealand, on the birth of a son at Wellington he determined to give him a Maori name. Her Majesty the Queen, at the joint request of the Jubilee mayors of the four principal cities, had consented to be the child's godmother, and by royal command the first names were Victor Alexander, to which was added the family name of Herbert. After much deliberation, the third name, selected as a compliment to the Maori people, was that of Huia. The choice was a very happy one, as it linked the Governor's family with the most ancient Maori blood in the land, and brought the infant into brotherhood with the most powerful and most civilised chiefs in the North Island. After the child had been christened in due form, he was taken to Otahi by his parents on Sept. 12th, 1891, to be presented to the tribe whose name he had taken. The tribes from all parts of the surrounding country assembled to take part in the function, and the ceremonial was a very impressive one. The representative chiefs made speeches of welcome full of pathos and poetry, recounting the achievements of their forefathers who had "gone away into the eternal night" and drawing a pathetic picture of the decadence of the race. But throughout the speeches there was a full recognition of the honour the Governor had conferred on the Ngatihuia tribe. It was thus expressed by one of the speakers:—"Other governors have said kind things and done kind things, but it has been reserved for you, Governor, to pay this great compliment to the Maori people: that of giving to your son a Maori name. According to our ancient customs, no greater courtesy could be shown by one great tribe to another great tribe, and there was no surer way of cementing the bonds of friendship. It has long been said, 'Let the Pakeha and the Maori be one people,' and you have given practical shape to this by accepting for your son the name of an ancient chief. We invoke the spirits of our ancestors to witness this day that in your son Huia the friendship of the two races becomes united!" Lord Onslow having made a suitable reply, the hereditary young chief of the Ngatihuia, Tamihana Te Hoia, stepping forward, said:—"And now, O Governor and Lady Onslow, bring forward the infant Huia, that the tribe may do him honour." On being taken from the nurse's arms and presented to him, Tamihana solemnly "rubbed noses" with the child before the whole tribe, all the women present joining their voices in a soft and plaintive lullaby, composed expressly for the occasion. After this formal reception of Huia, there followed an incident of a touching kind, for all the chiefs of the tribe came forward and cast their offerings before the child, Costly robes of Maori workmanship in profusion, carved boxes, and ancient greenstones gave tangible expression to the genuineness of the Maori feeling.