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, the Minister of Education, and the Natives of Hamua, on 4th May, 1898
Meeting between the Premier, the Minister of Education, and the Natives of Hamua, on 4th May, 1898.
On the party entering the meeting-house, the European and Native children attending the local school sang the National Anthem. The following address was then presented by Neriaha Tamaki:——
"To the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, Premier and Native Minister.
"Greetings to you, great chief of the European and friend of the Native race ! As chief of the Native tribe in this district, I heartily welcome you and your lady, and your friends, on this your first visit amongst us. You have done us the same great honour that you always do to our kinsmen in other parts of New Zealand. You are always the friend of our people, and give us good counsel and assistance in the hour of need. You and your Government have done a great deal of good to our people, and we hope that you may long continue to hold the honourable and high position in which your own people have placed you.page 28
"Happily for us, all troubles are now over between the two races in this part of New Zealand and we hope that God will make you strong, and that your good advice will be taken by the small band of our poor misguided people in the North, and that all will be settled without loss of blood and that they will honour you as the great chief whom our gracious Queen has honoured. Thanks to you for your kindness to our people when in England, and all the other good you have done to us.
"I will not detain you longer, as I and my European friends and the other chiefs who have come to meet you here will have to speak to you later on matters that interest us all in the district. We hope you will be pleased with what we give you: it is the best we have got. Men of our people would have been here to-day had it not been for the great loss both races have the tained in the death of the great and faithful warrior Major Kemp."
The Premier, in replying, said,—Chiefs, and those of the Native people here assembled, salutations and kind greetings to you! I I assure you that it is pleasing to be with you here to-day, and though this is my first formal visit to you as Native Minister, I have ever had pleasant recollection of our first meeting. In your address you have mentioned that my humble services have been benefit to your race. It is my earnest desire to conserve what I believe to be the noblest [unclear: aboriginal] race within our Queen's dominions, and I know it to be the wish of our Sovereign-mother, the Queen, that you should be preserved. When in the Mother-land, the land which few of you people have ever seen, let me tell you that the feelings of the people there towards you were of the kindest. By the Treaty of Waitangi you acknowledged the Queen to be your mother, and you ruler. It was very pleasing indeed to the people in England to have there during the Jubilee celebrations representatives of the Maori race. I can assure you that their appearance was one of the pleasantest features in connection with that great Jubilee gathering. I myself felt proud to be there as the Premier of this colony, and as Native Minister, and to have with me representatives of both races. Every one who wishes our colony well was delighted. They said this was as it should be, that the two races should be side by side together on great occasions. Although one may be dark in the outer covering, both hearts beat in unison, and we are the subjects of the one quest It was the general wish that the good feeling then existing should continue to the end of the world. Your representatives did you great credit. They carried themselves as soldiers ought to do, and in stature were equal, if not superior, to the representatives of the other parts of the Empire. I can assure you that if it fell to your lot to visit the Mother-land you would be received with the greatest honour and kindness. Our great Mother was pleased with the colonial soldiers, and you yon will remember, she gave a special invitation to them to visit her at Windsor, and the special guard of honour most appreciated was that composed of the contingent representing the various colonies.
It makes my heart glad to hear from you that all the troubles between the two races are for ever over in this part of the colony. It must delight every well-wisher of the colony to see the little children of both races intermixed here, both mixing together for mutual good. If in the days when the clouds enveloped the mountains and darkness prevailed, there had been the meeting together in the schools of the children of the Europeans and the Maoris, we should never have had those serious troubles. By mingling together a love is begotten which will last throughout life you have referred in your address to the troubles that have occurred in the far north. With you I pray that our Great Master may prevent the loss of life. As Native Minister, nothing has caused me greater pain than the setting of the law at defiance by a few mistaken people of your race as Waima. I do hope that the wiser counsels of our friends, the rangatiras, who are the true friends of your race, may ultimately prevail. One pleasant feature in connection with this matter has been that the rangatiras from all parts of the colony have sent communications to the leader of the disaffected band asking him to submit himself to the law.
The last thing I did on leaving the station to come here was to send a communication asking that he, and those with him, might be called upon to submit themselves to the law without blood shed. The law must be vindicated, the law must be observed; there must be discipline there must be order. Our Queen is ever generous, and if they submit themselves to the law they can appeal to her for clemency and ask for her motherly forgiveness. The great danger in connection with matters of this kind is that some misguided fanatic may, on the spur of the moment, commit deed resulting in the loss of many lives. I will now leave this painful subject, hoping that all may be well, and that force may not be necessary to arrest the law-breakers. It is most unfortunate that this should have happened at the present time, for the reason that we are making proposal for the good of your race; proposals for the purpose of trying to save your lands for you and for the generations to come after you. If violence ensues, innocent persons may be made to suffer great injury. As you say in this address, I hope I may prove to be a strong man. Whatever happens, I shall at all events be strong, and see that no harm befalls those of the Native race who are loyal; the innocent shall not suffer for the wrongs of the guilty. If the necessity arose, and you were called upon, I feel sure you would do in the future as you have done in the past, and help me to maintain law and order, even though it was against the people of your own race.page 29
I have referred to the fact that the Government intends shortly to put before Parliament Proposals for the good of your race, proposals dealing especially with the lands now remaining in your hands. We have said that it is wise for the Government to lease to the Europeans the lands remaining to you. If it is good for the Europeans to lease land—that the Crown should lease the land to the Europeans, so that it may be spread over a wide surface—I say, if it is good for the Europeans, it must also be good for the native race. With me, you must feel that those little children who are here to-day must have land on which to live. If the land disappears, how can they live? Your ancestors handed the land down to you so that you might be preserved, and it is your duty to hand down to your children what was given to you by those ancestors; but can you do this? No, most of the land has gone. Let us hope, however, that there is still sufficient left for your children. It is the desire of the Government that there shall be no more selling of Native land; they desire that the land shall be leased, occupied, and cultivated, so that it may produce what God intended for the use of His people. With the increase of population, it is necessary that the land shall be open for settlement. It cannot be longer kept in the state of nature. The troubles have been that the Natives themselves could not cultivate the land, nor could they dispose of it for this purpose. The machinery for doing this was not there. Under our proposals this machinery will be provided. We propose that there shall be Boards or Councils composed of Europeans and Native in whom the lands shall be vested in those for leasing purposes. We propose that the land shall be vested in those Boards or Councils, but that it may be leased, and that the best rentals may be obtained. But we do not intend to force these proposals upon you—they are purely voluntary; if you appreciate the law we propose to pass, then you can do so; if twenty Natives raise objection to the law coming into force, then a poll is to be taken, and the majority of the land-holders shall decide whether the law shall apply to their district. We are therefore proposing to give what is practically self-government to the Maoris for the first time in respect to their lands. They will have to settle whether they will go on with the present law, and get rid of their lands whenever they desire, or whether they will hand the lands over to the Boards to be dealt with. We go further: we say that money will also be required to make roads, and to open the lands for settlement. We therefore propose to ask Parliament to vote sums of money for that purpose, in the same way as we do with the lands belonging to the Crown. We also propose that sums of money may be lent to the owners to carry them on while the rents are coming in. We practically find money to road the European lands, to build houses, and to make improvements, and we think the time has come when there shall be one law for both races in this respect. Now, if this law is passed, it means the doing away altogether with the Native Land Court. Speaking for myself, I consider that what has happened in the past in connection with the Native Land Courts is one of the darkest blots that has occurred in the history of this colony. Native Land Courts have sat in the European settlements; the Natives have gone to those settlements, and many of them have gone to their destruction. At these Land Courts they have first been taught the European vices, and they return to their settlements contaminated people. They have suffered in mind and suffered in body. What has occurred while they have been attending the Courts? The lawyers and the agents have been fighting for the different parties, and when it is all over the result has been that the lawyers and the agents have practically swallowed the land. In many cases there has been nothing left for those who have been fighting. Under this new law, however, that cannot occur. There may be disputes as to who are to get the rents, but the land will be there for all time for the benefit of the proper owners. I do not expect that I shall get this Bill thorough without a struggle. There will be a fight in Parliament over it, but believing it to be for the good of both races, my colleagues and I shall fight hard to place it upon the statute-book. The pakeha-Maori, the land-jobber, the Maori agent know that if we pass it into law the days of fleecing the Natives will be gone. Already these jackals are following the trail. After I have been explaining the proposals to the Natives, I hear these jackals—I can call them nothing else, because they have lived and fattened upon you—go from place to place poisoning your minds against the proposals. If any of these jackals come to your kaingaa and wish to sojourn amongst you, tell them to keep on the road. They are dangerous. If they remain with your people you will be nursing vipers.
You have referred here to the great loss that your race has suffered by the death of your chief, Major Kemp. With you, I heartily sympathize; my heart is sore; I was deeply grieved when I heard he had been called away. The way he fought side by side with the Europeans made him a great chief, and his name will ever be respected by both races in this colony.
In this address you have said that I have, in the past, been a friend of your race, and you hope I will continue to be so. There is no position held by me in the Ministry that I think so much of as that of being Minister for the Native race. It carries with it a great responsibility and grave anxieties, but then a noble object has to be achieved. It is pleasing to me to know that, while the condition of the Europeans has been improved during the time my colleagues and I have been in office, the condition of the Natives has also improved. You also say you hope I may be pleased with that which under difficulties you have been able to provide; but if I had received nothing more than the simple address of welcome, and the opportunity of seeing the children of both races page 30together, I should have been well repaid. Let me assure you that my great love for you, and desire to help you, will continue. The notice of my intended visit was, I know, very short, and you have therefore not had an opportunity of gathering together your people in such numbers as you would have liked to have done. Many are away paying honors to the memory of your chief, who has been called from you. You are only the remnant of a once numerous race. When we were few, and you were numerous, you befriended us, and now that we are numerous, and you are few, it is our duty to befriend you. Sympathies and best wishes to you all, and may He who watches over us shower every blessing upon you. When those who are absent to-day return home I desire you to give them my good wishes and salutations. I thank you heartily for your kind reception, and I trust that as long as life lasts the same good feeling will continue as we find to-day.
The Hon. W. C. Walker (Minister of Education) said, - Children of this settlement, I am vey pleased to be here to-day to see you assisting in welcoming the Premier. I hope you will remember what he has said to you about the love that should grow up between the two races, beginning as it does in your schooldays. I have seen many schools for Native children only, and also school where the two races sit side by side. The latter always pleases me best. I do not want to say more to you to-day than that I am going to ask Mr. Seddon to make a request to your school master, that he will ask the latter to give you a holiday in order that you may remember this visit of his to your settlement. With these few words I wish to say good-bye, and may you all prosper.
The Premier: I have very great pleasure in acceding to the request of my colleague, and I hope that the teacher will grant the children a half-holiday. The afternoon being pretty far advanced, a special day might be set apart in commemoration of this event.
Mr. Hopkirk (Teacher): I have much pleasure in acceding to the request of the Right Hon. Mr. Seddon, and I also, on behalf of the children, thank the Minister of Education for his kindness in remembering us on this occasion.
Mr. A. W. Hogg, M.H.R., said,—Representatives of both races, I am exceedingly gratified to find such a large gathering. Your respected chief has, for a long time past, been anxious to secure a visit from the Minister. Since last session I have been looking forward to the day when I would be able to induce the Premier of the colony, and some of his colleagues, to visit the Natives and the European settlers in this part of the Forty-mile Bush. The intimation I gave that he was was intending, to visit you was a very brief one, and to tell you the truth, I had no idea that we were likely to have such a reception at your hands. The honour that you have done to the Premier and his colleague the Minister of Education is not merely an honour conferred upon these gentlemen, but I feel that it is an honour to the settlers, and to myself personally. We have had enough talk for the present, and I am not going to detain you further. I would merely like to say this, with reference to what has been said concerning the amicable relationship that now exists between the two races in this country: The Premier has just told you of the land from which the Europeans came on the opposite side of the world; it is another little country like New Zealand, inhabited by people who are living as we are, in entire harmony with each other. That people is composed of different races, who, in years gone by, used to fight precisely in the way that has been done in this country. As they grew civilized and became educated, and went to school together, they began to understand one another. Instead of fighting now, they fight the outside world shoulder to shoulder. They call their country not merely Great Britain, but the United Kingdom, because the people there are united. New Zealand has been rightly called the Lesser Britain, because it resembles that country so much. Some years ago the races here did not understand one another, consequently they quarreled; those were the days of our courtship, because you know lovers often quarrel. Now, however, the two races are wedded to each other, and those quarrels have disappeared. Now we have a united kingdom, not only in Great Britain, but in New Zealand, and I trust that harmony and peace will always continue here.