Notes of Meetings Between His Excellency the Governor (Lord Ranfurly), The Rt. Hon. R. J. Seddon, Premier and Native Minister, and the Hon. James Carroll, Member of the Executive Council Representing the Native Race, and the Native Chiefs and People at Each Place, Assembled in Respect of the Proposed Native Land Legislation and Native Affairs Generally, During 1898 and 1899.
Meeting between the Premier and Maori Chiefs and Others, at Sydney Street Schoolroom, Wellington, on 1st August, 1898
Meeting between the Premier and Maori Chiefs and Others, at Sydney Street Schoolroom, Wellington, on 1st August, 1898.
Peni te Ua said,—Greetings to the Premier. The Native Minister, and the Hon. Mr. Carroll Greetings to you and your predecessors who have passed away, and who knew the late [gap — reason: illegible] Kemp and others who have gone from us, also Major Wahawaha—people who were families figures in the City of Wellington. These are the descendants of those whom they represent, and are the people of the tribes to which they belong. [The speaker then sang a song of welcome] Having sung that song, I now wish you all prosperity.
Paratene Ngata: Greetings to you, Mr. Seddon, the Premier of the colony and Native Minister and your colleague the Hon. Mr. Carroll. Greetings to you whom we look upon as the father and the mother of the people; you whom we consider the king of the Maori people of New Zealand. We realise that we, the Natives of this country, and our lands, and all that we [unclear: proposal] are in your hands, as you are the Native Minister. We thank you both for having granted us the present interview to-day to complete the discussion of the matters which are embodied in the Bill, now before us. There are some of us here who support the Bill, and there are also others who merely look on at the proceedings and form their opinions; however, these matters which [unclear: affect] your Maori children are before you as their common father, and whatever you ultimately decide upon to do as being the best for these Maori children of yours we will ask you to give effect to as the time seems opportune. I shall not delay matters any longer, or take up any more time and will simply conclude my remarks by saying that this is your own Bill which was submitted for our perusal and consideration. We have perused and considered that Bill, and have submitted, in the précis now before you, the amendments that we have proposed for your consideration. We are prepared to find that there may be some, perhaps many, parts of the amendments which we have proposed that may not recommend themselves to you from a European [unclear: standpoint,] Realising that, we feel that we have done right in embodying these desires of [unclear: own] as we have done, and leave them for you to decide. Our desire—that is, the desire of such of us as support that Bill and the amendments in the précis— is that it may become in all over New Zealand, and affect such portions of land as remain the property of Maori owners, [unclear: as] that the possession of the balance of the land now remaining may be secured for the benefit of after generations. I may just add this suggestion regarding those persons who oppose the Bill: that [unclear: we] propose, and it may be possible and advisable, to so arrange that this Bill will not affect those districts to which they belong. There is no occasion for me to go into the subject-matter of the question and its different bearings, because it has been printed and translated, and you have it before you now But what we do desire and would suggest is this: that each separate district should be represented by its owners in such a way that it should be for the owners in each district to say whether they are willing to accept the conditions proposed by the Bill with regard to the page 53Leasing of the land in their respective districts. Secondly, we would ask that the committees of the Boards may be empowered, as we have suggested, in the manner indicated in the Bill. That is all I have to say. Just a word in conclusion: On behalf of ourselves, the people who are supporting this Bill, we wish to congratulate the Premier on his having celebrated his last birthday, which, we understand, was on Saturday last, and to add our expressions of congratulations. I regret that we did not know of it until the day had passed otherwise we would have taken some means to assure the premier of our best wishes and feelings towards him.
Henare Tomaana: I also wish the Premier all success and prosperity, and I have much pleasure in supporting all that has been said by the last speaker in support of the Bill. In every word that he has said I may say that I cordially support him. There is just one matter that I forgot to refer to. I mentioned on the occasion of our last deputation in this building that a petition was being largely signed in support of this Bill. I have received that petition back with 2,870 signatures attached thereto.
The Premier: To you the chiefs and those of the Native race here assembled, I desire to offer my sincere good wishes. It is very pleasant indeed for me to again have the pleasure of meeting you, and to have this opportunity of discussing these matters which more particularly affect your race, and which have also a special bearing on the pakehas, and, in fact, upon the whole of the to people inhabiting these Islands. It is very pleasant to me to have your personal good wishes, and to find that my worthy friend and colleague, Mr. Carroll, who is of your race, possesses your confidence and esteem. As to the reference made to the death of Major Kemp and Major Ropata, that allusion brings a tinge of sadness which reminds us all of the inevitable; but still they live in memory, and we should think well of men like these who have been gathered to their forefathers. There is, unfortunately, a tendency on the part of the living to bring up the failings of those who differ from them, forgetting their virtues and the good deeds they have done. One pleasant feature that I always note in my meetings with the Native people, and which I fully appreciate, is that if they have any little difficulties or differences they keep these to themselves. I have never yet heard the Natives blame their chiefs or leaders, and in that respect you show a very good example indeed to the Europeans. For instance, to-day you have referred to the fact that there are those here who support this Bill, as well as others who are simply looking on, and who we may take it, are opposed to it: but you have not upbraided them because they differ from you in the propossed legislation: you have not said that they were acting from improper motives, nor have you questioned their right to oppose this legislation as they have done, and which they do not think is in their interests, but you have suggested that the legislation shall not apply to them if they do not want it—if they prefer to remain as they stand, and to have their lands disappear and themselves impoverished, that is their business. You have reasoned with them and taken counsel with them, and you have advised them in the direction you believe to be for their good. They do not seem to see this matter in the same light as you do. Well, then you say, "You hold your views and opinions"; at the same time we must proceed. As time goes on, if by this legislation—if it is passed—your position is improved, they will then perceive that you have been benefited, and they will have to confess that they were mistaken, and will want the same legislation passed for them that you now say you are prepared to accept. That position is a wise one, and I may say that it is really the one the Government proposes in this Bill. We have said that we shall not force this legislation upon any one; we have explained it, and endeavoured to prove that it was for the benefit of the Native race: such as believe with us that it is for their benefit will have its operations applied to them, but not those who do not seek to have the Act brought into force in their districts. Now, let me put this before you: Last time I was here there were those who objected to such legislation; they asked for time. I said I would be pleased to give them time to consider the matter; I asked them to put before me, as you have done, any suggested amendments to the Bill, and I would await them. I have received no answer from them on this point. I have before me the amendments which you who approve the Bill think should be made; but where are the objections of those who disagreed both with the Bill and with your amendments? They are still in the clouds. Surely if they had any good, sound, and valid objections they could put them into words or writing, and they could submit them to me just as you did when you met me at the hui. Why are they afraid to put their objections before me? As they have not given me their objections, I must simply take it that they are taking up a negative position: they are simply saying. "We do not like it, we cannot tell you why." The pakehas have a verse which describes the position; probably the interpreter will give it to you in your own language, so that you may understand it. It is to this effect:—
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well–
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.
That, I think, is the position of the objectors to this Bill. Now, I promised those who gave me their amendments that the next time we met I would go through these amendments seriatim and point out the differences as between the amendments and the original Bill, and I would tell you page 54those I approved of, and those which I did not think it possible to accept I would give my reasons for not agreeing with. You have said you look upon me as children look upon their father, and accordingly you are entitled to fatherly care from whoever may be the Native Minister for the time being. The position is one of grave responsibility. Many of those I see here to-day are much older than myself, and yet, as Native Minister, I am their father, and desire to do my duty by them and to help them. Now we come to the first amendment in the Bill—that is, in clause 4, where you say that the Chairman of the Board shall have only a casting-vote. Now, we will say that there are three members of the Board in attendance—two are of European race, and the Chairman, Again, we will reverse the case, and say that there are two Native members present. In both these cases the Chairman would have no vote at all. If, on the other hand, there were two European members—one ordinary member and the Chairman—and a Native member, the Native might be in the right, and if the Chairman had an original vote he would vote with the Native and by that means would stop, probably, an injustice being done. If you take away his original vote from him he will be sitting there without any power. It would be like putting a gag in a man's mouth and then asking him to speak. How could he speak? Or it would be as if you tied his legs together and then asked him to walk. It is no use putting him there unless you give him some power; and, whoever is the Chairman, he will really be the superior man on the Board. It would not do, therefore, to put him in a worse position, and with less power, than the other members of the Board. That, I say, is a matter that requires serious consideration; and from the light in which I have placed it before you you will see that it would be dangerous to the Natives themselves if you took away the original vote of the Chairman, because it will be impossible at all times for the total number of members to be present at the meetings of the Board.
Paratene te Ngata: We quite understand what the Premier says, and the explanation given. I would like to point out that that section is part of his own Bill; we quite see that this requires to be amended.
The Premier: You are under a misapprehension; as the Bill stands, provision is made. Then, the next is clause 7, in respect to charges outstanding, or to leases made before the passing of the Act. I wish to explain that it is in the original Bill, and that it is a matter requiring a great deal of consideration. I may further say, in respect to that, that it was, I think, intended to be covered by the original Bill. Then, there are subclauses (1), (2), and (3) of clause 8 in your printed paper; some of these would, I think, be an improvement; others, again, would be dangerous. Take subsection (3). the power that would be asked for there—namely, that it should be administered by the Board, and that they should take charge of the documents setting forth the consent of the majority of the owners of each respective block of land, &c. Now, this is a matter of detail, and provision for this is already made in the Bill; but the principle which underlies the suggestion here is such that it would really destroy, if given effect to, the whole intelligence of the Bill. What the Bill contemplated was that, once a district had been proclaimed, the Board became immediately seized of all the lands mentioned in the Bill. This provides that every Native owner shall individually give in his lands to be dealt with by the Boards, and here and there there may be an objector who would not give his consent, and this would block the Board from dealing with any of the interests held by the other Native owners under section 9: "The consent of one or more owners in respect of the whole of a block of land, or of a portion only of a block of land, shall be forwarded by the Board to the Governor, with its report thereon attached thereto, setting forth the title and the description of such land or lands, and the most suitable manner of dealing with the same; such report to be published by the Governor in the Gazette and Kahiti of New Zealand, with a notice calling for objection thereto (if any) to be lodged within certain days," &c. Now, we provide for a difference between one or two owner; before the first proclamation is made twenty men can ask for objections—that is, twenty owners. The difference between the Government Bill and the one you propose here is that we propose to deal with the whole of the lands in the district; you propose to have the individual dealing, which, of course, would not help you, nor would it help to solve the difficulty which we have to face. We place the whole position before the whole of the Native landowners of the district, and they vote on the question, and if the majority decides that the Act shall apply to that district, then the majority rules. You say that each individual can do as he likes; but we make further provisions, which, probably, this was intended to meet, that the first subdivision of the land shall be made to the Native owners, and where they want their land set apart for their own use, and to be theirs in severalty, we make that provision, in the disposition clauses of the Bill. If your suggestions were carried, we will say on the East Coast, in some of the blocks a small minority who had been pursuaded that to sell would not be good for them would stop the great majority from getting the benefit of legislation—the very thing that you say the Bill as a whole would let them do. I say, why should two or three unreasonable owners block a whole district, or the whole of the Natives, from having the benefit of this legislation? As I have said, there is a departure from principal there, and I have pointed out to you where the departure lies, and if that was carried as an amendment it would, in my opinion, destroy the usefulness of the measure.page 55
Wi Pere asked the Premier to look at section 10. There might be a hundred owners in a block, but still twenty persons would say, "That is to be done." In some cases one person might call upon the government to call a hut of all the people.
The Premier: Section 10 simply says that "if any objection is raised it shall be forwarded by the Governor to the Board, who shall inquire into and dispose of it at a meeting of the owners of the land the subject of such report. The decision arrived at by the Board to be forwarded to the Governor, and to be published in the Gazette. Such decision to be final as to whether the land is to be handed over to the Board or not." I understand from Mr. Wi Pere that he says that a minority of twenty men might force a vote to be taken as to whether the land should be vested in the Board. If that is what he is aiming at, the Bill is much preferable to what is in the amendment, because, according to the amendment—he is alluding to clause 9, I think—he said that the consent of one or more owners, in respect to the whole block or portion thereof, shall be forwarded to the Governor with his report attached thereto. I take it that he fears that in some cases twenty would be too small a number to entitle a vote to be taken on the whole of the block, and by the whole of the owners. If that is what he means, the best way would be, instead of having a fixed number, to say that one-third of the owners, or a majority, must petition to have the land vested in the Board.
Wi Pere: All that I wish to point out is this: Section 9 is merely an empowering one to allow one man to make an application. Then the Governor will notify that this application has been received from this individual, and that will give an opportunity to the other owners to make objections if they have any. Then the Governor will instruct the Board to sit and hold an inquiry in the presence of the owners of the land, and the wishes of the owners will be ascertained, and it would be found if, as was generally speaking the case, it was in favour of the land being brought under the administration of the Board. All that I mean to say is that it is immaterial whether one or twenty men sent in applications to the Governor, because the result would be the same.
The Premier: The only objection—and it is a fatal one—is that if one, or two, or three Natives take upon themselves to put the law in motion it will irritate the others, and they will say, "Why do this without consulting us?" and that one only, at all events, is not a reasonable number of owners in the district who want to have the Act brought into force.
Paratene Ngata: As to sections 3,9, and 10, they all arise out of No. 8. When the Board sits its first duty will be to notify all residents in the district under its control, and it would be then that questions of matters affecting the land in our district will be thoroughly gone into and discussed. Section 9 was to further extend what was intended by subsection (3) of section 8. Now, what was meant by one or more men was this: One owner might have as much as 3,000 acres in his own name, and others in the same block would be equally competent to do so if they desire it; all such agreements must be made in the hui held in the presence of the others. Now, section 10, which provides that the decision arrived at by the Board is to be forwarded to the Governor and published in the Gazette, was intended to meet cases of persons who might at the time of the meeting be out of the district in some other part of the colony, and it was contemplated that if this Bill passed into law the Board would set up the boundaries of the districts of such lands as it was intended to bring under the operation of the Act; all these matters would then be decided upon before the Board at its sitting.
The Premier: We purposely left the final decision as to whether the Act should apply to the district to be decided by a majority of the Native owners in the district.
Paratene Ngata: That is, the people of the hui—individuals were not to have the power to call a Board. Of course, it would otherwise render the Act of no effect.
The Premier: There is something to think over in respect to that, but the general principle must be laid down, because the Board could not raise money for making the roads, and the one man who wanted to get his land brought under the Act might have his land surrounded by other lands which could not be got at, and thus would prevent the making of the roads.
Wi Pere: But then it was never contemplated that the power should be given to this one man to play tricks with the land of the people. To illustrate, I will say there is a man called Wi Pere, and this man applies to the Governor to call a meeting of the Board, and the Governor convenes it, and calls upon every possible objector to this man to come there and state their objections.
The Premier: The answer is that they say, "We do not object to him doing what he likes with his own, but we want the other portions dealt with, because this clause says that the consent of one or more owners interested who would block the operation shall be forwarded to the Board." It is their consent; it is their land which is to be brought under the Act.
Wi Pere: But if the section is read it will explain itself.
Paratene Ngata: Section 9, as I have already attempted to explain, is merely an elaboration of section 8.
The Premier: It ought to have been otherwise worded if that was what was intended.
Paratene Ngata: Then, perhaps it will be wise to think over it, and, if necessary, revise it.
The Premier: The next section follows on, and says that all lands shall be exempt from the operation of this Act, or, using the words here, "Also all lands purchased from the Crown or page 56Europeans by Maoris, except in cases in which the owners or owner thereof may voluntarily place the same within the scope and operation of this Act." That, of course, we have excepted. Under this exception it is proposed that, though the land has been bought from Europeans, the Maori owners may voluntarily place that land under this Act to be dealt with by the Board. In respect to that proposal I may say that objections would be raised by the Europeans, because they would say, "Why should the Maoris who have bought land from the Europeans get money from the Government to pay their debts; why should they have roads made to their land by the Government—the Government will not do that for the pakehas?" I say the objection will be taken to that proposed amendment.
Wi Pere: Suppose I bought land, what have the pakehas to do with it? If it was Crown land, and I brought it within the operation of this Act, if the Act becomes law it cannot affect the Europeans.
The Premier: Except that this is Bill dealing with Native land. What would be said by the Europeans if this power were given? Why not give power to them to do the same? We might pass the Act to apply to all land in the colony then.
Wi Pere: Supposing I had purchased some land from Europeans—it was not ancestral lard—and I desire to bring it under the provisions of the Act so that I could not be able to alienate it, as I might perhaps want to do at some future time.
The Premier: In such case you would require to ask the Governor to proclaim it. This provision simply gives the power to the Board to deal with it—lease it. At all events, as my colleague tells me, we are simply wasting time over this matter, because it is not the usual rule that Maoris buy from Europeans, but sell to them, and there is now very little land for them to sell. Perhaps Mr. Wi Pere is looking a long way ahead to the time when positions may be reversed, and the Natives will be buying land from the Europeans.
Paratene Ngata: It may be as well, as the Premier suggests, to mark that paragraph for subsequent consideration, but there are very few persons in the position indicated.
Wi Pere: It is not a matter of very great importance. We know that it is absolutely the case that there are very few persons in the position mentioned, but this clause contemplates such a case. For instance, supposing Natives had absolutely no land that had come to them from their ancestors, and the only land that they possessed was purchased from the pakehas, this would put that land in the same position as though they had inherited it from their ancestors.
The Premier: The next question is (13), that no land subject to this Act shall be sold or seized for debt or mortgage before the passing of this Act. That, practically, is provided for in the Act itself.
Paratene Ngata: That is so; but this section 13 of the amendment contains what is provided for in sections 13 and 22 of the original Bill; they are both grouped together in section 13.
The Premier: I have said that it is already provided for. Section 14 is, I think, already provided for in the original Bill, because in the disposition of the land subsection (1), clause 18, provides that the Board may set aside any land for the personal use and occupation of the Native owners on such terms and conditions as the Board thinks fit, and subsection (2) provides for burial places, schools, &c.; but I can understand from the amendment that you wished to put it in a more concise form. You wanted to show your knowledge of drafting a Bill so that it should be more concisly expressed.
Paratene Ngata: I may point out that what is in the original Bill is by voluntary arrangement with the Maori owners to be dealt with, to reserve such lands as are provided for by the section.
The Premier: That is only a Committee matter; it is not a departure from the principle. Sections 15 and 16 are provided for in the original Act, as is also No. 17. Now, as to the proviso that the consent of the owners must be first obtained before any money is spent on roads and surveys to open up the land for settlement, does that mean that the owners or that one single individual owner is to object to this?
Paratene Ngata: No, that is to be agreed to by the Committee; that is provided for in section 1.
The Premier: As it reads now it is quite clear that a single owner can stop a road or survey being carried on, or the land being opened for settlement.
Wi Pere: It may be amended.
The Premier: I am telling you that, as you put it before me, any single owner can stop action.
Wi Pere: It should be left to the Block Committee.
The Premier: It wants amendment, then, in that direction if what you say was intended. Section 18 is as to regulations and as to the course to be adopted. These will have to be laid before Parliament and have to be circulated amongst Natives. It is already provided for. We then come to section 19, where there is a very important departure. This reopens up every piece of Native land and title in colony, and I take it this would keep the Board and Committee fully occupied for the next fifty years. They would immediately come into conflict with titles that have been page 57granted under the Land Transfer Act, and would be brought into the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court, &c. There would, therefore, I say at once, be a fatal objection to any legislation giving effect to these portions, and I am sure that when you come to think of this you will see how serious the position would be. Even in Parliament itself I have known petitions to come up session after session, and where it has been known that grave injustice has been done, but Parliament has refused to reopen the case because complications were bound to arise. Now, I never deceive the Natives: I always speak plainly, and I say that these proposals are impossible.
Paratene Ngata: That is so; but I would point out that section 19 is, in the main, adopted in the original Bill, with only the addition of the consent to leases. That is the only addition that has been put into this section.
The Premier: Now, as to land the ownership of which is vested in more than one person, the amount of papatupu land is very small, and it is all before the Courts.
Paratene Ngata: They are the cause of a great deal of trouble. We suffer greatly at the Land Courts in respect to them.
The Premier: At all events, you understand that the whole clause is taken except the few lines at the end. It is very much like the bee—the sting is in its tail.
Paratene Ngata: I would like to say a word in respect to that. No doubt it is where the sting is; but the great majority of the papatupu lands are no longer in that position: there are still a few remaining. I know in my own district of a very considerable area of land still uninvestigated—1,000,000 acres, roughly speaking.
The Premier: I am informed that it is all before the Court at present.
Paratene Ngata: Yes; but we have had considerable trouble with portions that have passed through the Court, and we do not want the Court to deal with the rest.
The Premier: In clause 21 we provide that a Maori may dispose of his interest in any Native land by will. You propose to extend that provision by saying that it may be disposed of by dying gift—that is, to dispose of it by word of mouth. That is a very dangerous proposal. Even wills themselves, viewed by late experience, are dangerous things, and you will have to be careful, even when you have them in writing; and you would need to be much more careful if the land was given by word of mouth, and particularly when the mind would be weak.
Paratene Ngata: A will is a most unsatisfactory thing. I think that section should be supplemented by the inclusion of a very strong expression against the method of how wills are to be treated when they come up for investigation.
The Premier: That is a very wise suggestion, and I will give instructions to have the necessary safeguards to prevent lands being improperly disposed of. I find at the end of section 23 there is provision for the carrying out the intention of the Bill as to the control of the work under the Board. Section 24 says that the Board may borrow certain sums of money for the purpose of improving lands intended for farms, runs, &c. It is for the Board to say what the limit to be lent is to be. Once the Board has set aside land for the Native owners, or has leased the land, the Board's functions cease, excepting in respect to the roading of the land.
Wi Pere: That is the main benefit hoped for.
The Premier: There must, however, be a limit, and under this provision it was intended that the Maoris who had farms, &c. were to borrow under the Advances to Settlers Act. This clause was intended to effect this purpose, and it was intended that the Board rather than the individual Maori should act. It is, therefore, worth considering. Properly safeguarded—it would certainly require to be so—that is a matter to be brought up in Committee. What we understood this section in the main Bill to be was, people might wish to borrow money for the purpose of discharging mortgages and other sums of money owing at the time of the passing of the Act into law, and this section was meant to enable such wishes to be carried into effect. It is quite apparent that you see that it requires to be safeguarded. If it were left as it is here, for the purpose of discharging mortgages and encumbrauces, or for the purpose of improving lands, the words "other improvements" might be struck out, and leave it standing at £5,000 to cover improvements for farms or runs. I do not think there would be any objection to that on the part of Parliament. That would be simply extending the operation in respect to the £5,000 without any departure form the principle laid down. One person might require the whole of the £5,000 for his own use; and where would his claim come in? There might be a separate sum apart from the £5,000. The first thing is to get the law through: that will enable the Boards to raise the money for express and limited purposes. The question of the settlement of the people on the land must come, and money must be provided for them. Under section 26 there is an extension, and these extensions require careful consideration. I am not yet prepared to give my opinion on them. It opens up a large and very important question.
Paratene Ngata: The last lines of section 26 are what we understand the Act to mean.
The Premier: Section 27 has already been provided for. Section 28, recognising leases now in existence, provided they are leases in accordance with the law, and have been properly made, but not otherwise: The Government have no intention whatever to disturb leases lawfully entered into. Section 30: There is a very important departure there; no rates to be levied on Maoris' leases under the authority of this Act. I am not surprised to see this here, because I heard of it before; page 58in fact, if the Europeans were farming a Bill for themselves they would all want such a clause inserted. I never yet met anybody that ran after the Government to pay taxes. I think [unclear: the] Rating Act now applies in certain cases under these conditions. In respect to the Rating Act, I do not intend to make any alteration. We will say that this is a matter for future consideration. Section 31: The first part would be necessary, because we have said, under subsection (1)—at all events, I have said?that it is a matter that should be provided for, i.e., that preference should be given to landless Natives. I have said the Native owners should have first right of selection, [unclear: and] secondly the landless Natives, and thirdly the Europeans. The spirit in which this is conceived to one which I very much appreciate, and I think that as far as the Bill is concerned we can amend is when in Committee so as to give permission for this to be done by the Board: that is what you have said in this clause. In section 32 we come to be taxation and roads again. That I think can be set aside, as it is only in respect to land of a sterile character. The whole question is dealt with by the existing law. We propose, by making roads and opening up the land for settlement, that it shall not remain unoccupied; if it should, then it shall have to pay rates. Now we come to the next very important amendment?clause 33. This is a concession which it is unusual for Parliament to give?namely, that a body corporate, appointed under an Act of Parliament., shall have power to delegate its powers to irresponsible persons. That is a thing we never do: the Boards might give such powers to unprincipled persons and these might look after their own lands, and use the whole of the money to make roads through their own properties, and leave all other persons without any money at all. That would be a dangerous things to do, I think. We might leave that for future settlement. The best way would, I think, be to have a greater number of Boards: the district would be too large. More Boards must be constituted, but each one must have full power. Section 34 is provided for. Section 35 is a very good one, though I suppose there will be trouble in Parliament over it. It provides that no lawyer or agent other than an owners or person married to an owner shall attend the Courts, or have anything to do with the Boards. Section 36 provides for doing away with the Judges of the Native Land Courts. If this Bill passes and the Native bring the land under the Act, that would be the surest way to do away with the Judges of the Native land Courts. Section 38 refers to the Stump Act having no application to your lands. I may say at once that, as far as the first transfer and the vesting of the lands in the Boards, the Act provides for that being done, and certainly there is no more duty payable on the vesting of the land in the Board. The passes under this Act: this is the transfer. After a vote has been given the land is to be brought under the Act. We are making provision to repair that mistake. If the land is leased to Europeans by the Board, then course, the usual law will apply, with that exception. As to clauses 40 to 42 the latter portion of clause 42 is giving effect to the division of the districts and the nomination of the persons in them. I have said that I believe in there being sub-districts, and there will be no necessity for clause 40. I notice in Section 44 that you have provided that a wahine can be a member of a committee. As there are not to be any Block Committees, we will not want any women; but I have no objection myself to their taking a seat on the Board, provided that the Maori landowners elect them. Section 45 is a very good provision indeed, and I think it might be adopted in the main Act itself. The birds of the forest ought to be preserved, and the fish, being the food of Natives. That is in keeping, I think, with the provisions of legislation, and in accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi.
Now, I have gone through the provisions of the Bill, and I have discussed then with you. As I have said, with one or two exceptions, there is no important departure from principle. I have been asked when I am going to bring this Bill down. The session is well advanced, and I must introduce it, so that both Europeans and Natives may see the Bill before Parliament. As the Bill goes through Committee, those representing the Native race in Parliament will no doubt, submit the ideas they have which are in the interests of both races, When it is before the House my intention is to submit it to the Native Affairs Committee; and, this being a Bill of so great importance, I do not intend making it a party question, but will ask members of both sides of the House to unite in making it such a measure as will save the land for the Maori people. The preservation of the Native race, and of sufficient land to allow them to live, is above all party politics. It is a national and important question. From the nature of the Bill itself, and the action taken by the Government, I think the Natives must be satisfied that we have an earnest desire to help them. From the manner in which the Natives from all parts of the colony have met and discussed the proposals, and from the attention given to the question, and on account of the trouble taken, and the expenses they have undergone, it must be evident to all well-wishers of both races that there in a necessity to deal with this question. Now, we want, as a matter of policy, to put the Native race back into the position in which we really found them. They had been cultivators of the soil, they were producers, and were exporters of produce from the colony. Occasionally they found time to fight, and still went on with their occupations. They are still the name race; why should the young people of the present day not be able to do what their forefathers did? Do not think for a moment that I want you to go back to the fighting part. The fighting you have been doing for Some past has been in the law-courtts, page 59but you have found that it is not profitable. The lands which used to be cultivated by your forefathers have gone through the Court, and are not owned by you to-day. Now, I take it as a sound principle to be laid down, that by setting apart the land individually, so that each one can go on the land and cultivate it, and you still desire to do so, that you can still keep yourselves in the same way as your forefathers did. In my opinion, if this Bill had been passed some years ago we should have had a very large number of Maori settlers upon their own lands. So that you might live for the time, you have parted with the land adjacent to the Europeans, who have never left you alone until they have got it from you, and your necessities have made you sell it. Now, you have lands which you own a long way back from centres of population; you have no means of getting to these lands, and if you got on to it you have no roads to carry your produce away. You have no money to keep you while you fell the bush, and to put it into cultivation, and the result is that in many cases you are following a communal mode of life. Many of you have no land at all, and you are compelled, therefore, to go and live on land belonging to your friends, or, as an alternative, you live on the proceeds of the sale of the land you have had at the back, where you could not get to it yourselves, so that you may live. That cannot go on for ever. There is only one ending to that sort of thing. If a Europeans does that, and lives on his capital, he finishes up in the Bankruptcy Court. You do not want that. The result would be that you would soon be without land, and ultimately the race would be exterminated. As things are now, owing to your being crowded together under insanitary conditions, and with no proper food or clothing, the little once come and die, and the old ones pass away before they arrive at a good old age, and you cannot point to the old men and the old women as your forefathers used to do. You have no hope or anything else to live for; and I do not care who the human being is, if he lives without hope or something to live for he will soon become dissolute and adopt vices, and the end of such a course is an early death a result that cannot be pleasant to either Maori or pakeha. Now there are some who say, "Stop the sale of Maori lands." They say, "We object to this Bill"; and the next thing is that they come to me and say, "Buy our lands." I say it is impossible to please people who act in such a manner. Our legislation has so far stopped the wholesale selling of Native land; it has been restricted to the permission that we give in the 167th section of the Act. It would surprise you to know the number of applications I am getting to remove restrictions on the sale of land under that section.
It was very kind of you to-day to congratulate me on my fifty-third birthday, and it certainly is a kindness for which I feel deeply grateful. I desire, as far as lies in my power, to be able to help the Native race, and do remove the difficulties under which they labour. Though there are some who now differ and who will continue to differ with me, and with the proposals of the Government some as made from time to time, yet personally they have a good Wish towards me. No matter where I have been meeting the Natives I have spoken to them plainly, as I would Speak to the Europeans and removed wrong impressions, and explained what we proposed to do. I may say that I have never left a Maori meeting without being satisfied that the Natives thoroughly understood what we were trying to do for them, and were bound to grasp and ultimately see that it was in the interests of the Natives. As far as I myself am concerned, I do not wish to be unjust. but I fear there are designing pakehas and interested persons who see that if this legislation passes. What they have grown rich upon in the past, and that with prospects of improvement their position, which they have attained at the cost of the Native race will suffer, and that their real objection to this legislation is not in the interests of the Native race. Now, I wish they would come before me; I have invited them. If they fear it will do them an injury, or hesitate, then let their advisers come and show whether there is anything wrong in these proposals. It is not brave, it is not manly for a person to advise another to do that which he fears to do himself. If it is right, why does he fear the light of day? I hope that those assembled here before me will be able, to congratulate me before my next birthday on the passing of the legislation which I hope and feel and am assured will be for your benefit. As I have had the congratulations of my children of the Native race, as the Government is really the father, so the Government must do its duty to its children. I am going forward with great hope, but I know that before this Bill gets upon the staute-book of the colony there will be serious difficulties to encounter; but I shall be strong, because I believe that it is in accordance with the wishes of the great majority of the Native people. The general principle is sound, and it is going on lines which we have laid down and which we are carrying out for the Europeans. If it is good for the Europeans it must be good for the Native; and that being the case, and as it will promote the settlement of land, and remove destroying elements, I hope it will become law. The Europeans are becoming numerous; they want to occupy the land, and one party is unable to occupy and the other to give possession; and I say in this manner it is keeping back the North Island from being prosperous.
I, in conclusion, thank you for your kind wishes which you have always expressed towards me and mine, and towards my colleague, who is a member of your own race?Mr. Carroll May every blessing and happiness attend you.
Paratene Ngata: I would just like to point out one thing in connection with section 20 of the main Bill?namely, as to remuneration. I would like to see a limit imposed.page 60
The Premier: That is a matter which we will leave to the Committee. I shall want to refer is you during the course of the passing of the Bill. The Native Committee will require evidence on various matters, and you should tell off some of your chiefs to remain behind in order to let the Native Committee have the benefit of their opinions on this subject.
Paratene Ngata: Some people have informed us that if this Bill passes it will mean the one throw of the Natives.
The Premier: Whoever made that statement knows nothing of the provisions of the Bill; they are either ignorant or else they are dealing falsely. They either intend to dupe the Natives or they are in ignorance of what they are speaking of.
Rawiti: Although the Premier has said a good deal about a certain section of the people who are here assembled, I would like to say just a few words with reference to a certain part of them. The Premier has stated that a large section had asked, on a previous occasion, for a time to be given them to interview him and to talk over matters (that is, those who object to this Bill), and The Premier went on to say that, having waited for such a long time, and having received no communication either by letter or in person, he was compelled to think that they had no scheme to bring down, or that it must be floating amongst the clouds of heaven. I am glad that Paratene expressed himself so aptly as he did on this matter when he said that the people were divided into two section, one supporting and the other observing the proceedings in reference to this question. I am one of the persons who come under the description of the observers; and the purpose for which we wait and look on, and do not take an active part, is that we want to be certain and satisfied whether this is the Government Bill, whether it is everything that is intended in that Bill, or whether it may turn out to be that it is a Bill behind which there is something further to be brought forward and discussed. We notice that this is a précis, and that naturaly leads us to believe that, being a précis, it is merely a sketch of what the Bill may be that is to be brought down.
The Premier: This is the complete Bills, just as I am going to introduce it to Parliament. There is no précis about that. I will send you a copy. That is what we want the Bill itself to be, it is the same as I have given to all the other Natives. There is nothing behind it. A good father does not meet his children to dupe them and do something that will injure and destroy them. The Government desire to better your position and to help you. I want this understood. When I was here last I said to those who objected to the Bill, "Let me have your objections it writing," just as I acted when I was getting the proposed amendments at Papawai. I said, "Let me have the amendments of those who are opposed to the Bill or to the amendments." I have not received any objections, and therefore I have come to the conclusion that there are none forth coming. And now I am glad to have the position better defined. The position those opposed to the Bill are taking is that they will wait and watch, and see what comes about, and then they will decide. Now I understand them, and I do not disagree with their taking up that position.
Henare Tomoana: I want these people to hear what I have to say. In 1894 Native legislation was commenced in this direction respecting Native matters, and I agreed with the action then taken, and ever since that time I have done so.