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, at Papawai, 26th May, 1898
Meeting between the Premier and Maori Chiefs, at Papawai, 26th May, 1898.
The Premier: Rangatiras and Native people here assembled, before we proceed to our business. I have a message that I desire to read to you. The message is from His Excellency the Governor, and it is appropriate that you should hear it. He says, "The Secretary of State for the Colonies cabled that Her Majesty the Queen has commanded me to convey her thanks to the colony for their loyal message sent on her birthday."page 40
Tamahau Mahupuku: I have one or two words to say before the business is gone on with. Welcome the Premier, come and enter the house which has been erected hero. On your last visit to us this house was formally presented to you as Native Minister. This is a new departure in these parts. It is well that the great house of yours that stands in Wellington should be the places where you exercise your powers as Premier, but in your position as Native Minister it is fitting that you should here discuss Native matters with the Native people. All the chiefs of the various tribes of the East Coast district are now present, and will listen carefully to anything that you may have to say in respect to the proposed legislation affecting our internets. Again I repeat that this house belongs to you as Native Minister.
The Premier: It makes my heart rejoice to be again with you and to hear from you the words of hearty welcome with which you have greeted me. It is pleasing to me to be reminded that, as Native Minister, I am in my own house. On behalf of the colony, I thank you for the enterprise you have shown in providing the necessary conveniences for Ministers to meet you and discus matters more particularly affecting your race. Whoever it was that conceived this idea deserves well of the Maori race. To those who did the work, I say that they have set an object-lesson to the Europeans of this colony. Many of the Native youths have shown to the world that, under the guidance of European technical experts, they can learn quickly. Anyone looking at this building to-day could see that if your young men are properly guided they can enter the best trades and become the best of mechanics and artisans. I am sure you will all be pleased when I tell you [unclear: that] one of the best mechanics in the Napier workshops is a Maori. I simply say this to illustrate [unclear: that] if you are given equal opportunities with the Europeans you are capable of filling almost any position.
I will now give you a piece of information which will probably surprise the younger generation Your ancestors who have been called away, and who will live long in your memories, knew [unclear: that] as a race you were capable of the highest development. I will prove this statement. Did they not give large tracts of land on condition that the proceeds were to be devoted to religious general, technical, and industrial education of the Native race? These are the conditions upon which your forefathers gave those reserves. I say it with a sense of responsibility—that it is a lasting discredit to those who in years past were intrusted with such lands that practically nothing has been done in the direction of giving to the Native race what those who gave the land intended should be given. As a case in point, I mention the Porirua reserve, situated near Wellington. From that piece of land there is an accumulation of over £6,000, while the trustees have not spent £50 on technical or any other kind of education for the children of the Natives of that place. I am now looking at a piece of land here at papawai which was given by your ancestors for a most beneficial purpose, and I would ask, has it been devoted to the purpose for which it was originally intended? There are also lands on the East Coast donated for a similar purpose which have never been properly utilized. The same could be said of reserves on the West Coast. Again, from the Waikato application has been made to me by Natives whose land was confiscated, and who have not a single aero left to themselves, to give them back the reserves which have not been used for the purpose for which they were granted. It is only natural that those landless Natives should make such a request to the Government. In the case in which Wi Parata asked the Supreme Court to give the reserve at Porirua to the descendants of those who donated it, the Court held that that could not be done. As the law has said that the land cannot go back to the descendants of those who gave it, and as the trustees of those lands say that they cannot give effect to what was intended by the donors, then I say it is time the State, in the interest of both races, should step in and endeavour to give effect to the desires of your fore fathers. Beyond what has been done with the Native school at Te Aute in the Hawke's Bay District. In other places, I say that, comparatively speaking, practically nothing hat been accomplished in the direction intended by those who gave these valuable lands. From St. Stephen's a fairly well-learned member of Parliament has been produced, and from Te Aute a very clever young man who was here on a former visit of mine, and who is the first Maori lawyer in New Zealand. The Pakeha lawyers have done very well out of the Maoris of this country, but I do not know what the Maori lawyers will do out of their fellow-countrymen. At any rate, I do not think you ought to keep colleges to manufacture too many lawyers. There may be a redeeming feature, and this Maori lawyer may now take something out of the pakeha. If this happens there ought to be a good many more, but they would have to practice a long time before they could get out of the pakehas the amount of land they (the pakehas) have swallowed from the Maoris.
Now, seriously speaking, I say that the Native race requires the cultivation of their mechanical powers, with which they are particularly well endowed. We ought to have Maori engineers, Maori carpenters, Maori blacksmiths—In fact, every trade in the colony ought to have young men, of the Native race engaging in it. I am looking forward to the time when on a future visit to you I shall be called upon to open, not many yards from this, building, a technical school to be maintained out of the proceeds of that land which was donated for a specific purpose. In such a school I would like to see instruction given in carpentering, blacksmithing, and drawing to enable your youths to be given an opportunity of making a living as mechanics and artisans. If we had such institutions is different parts of the colony the reproach against your race would be removed. They say the page 41Native youth does not care to work. They say he prefers frequenting the publichouses, the billiard-rooms, and investing in the totalisator to honest employment. Now, I myself am often deeply pained to know that there it too much truth in what is said in this respect. On the other hand, I asked myself the question, what is there for these young men to do? Are we helping them? Does the pakeha give them an opportunity of working for him at any of the trades? Is there any land for them to go upon? It is easy to see what is the true cause of the degeneration of the Native race. What is the good of shedding crocodile tears, as is often done, when behind all these there is Negligence, hard-heartedness, and callousness? Those of the European race who might help do not stretch forth the right hand to lift you out of the mire and put you in a position to enable you to maintain the prestige of the noble race to which you belong. what would you think of a European who would tender you no food after a long and tedious journey? You may see on his table Plenty of good food to spare, and hung around his walls spare clothing that you may wish to have, and yet. while he may say that he is sorry for you, he never asks you to eat, nor gives you a change of raiment. Those knocking at the door are the youths of the Native race. The Europeans in possession of the reserves have their tables loaded with food, and their houses are well stocked with clothes. That food and those clothes belong to you. The food on the table is the land that your ancestors donated, and the raiment represents the money in the bank, the proceeds of that land. The house that I allude to is the technical school which your youths desire to enter, so that they may partake of the good things which your forefathers intended you to have. The key in that door must be turned, and the bars removed by the strong arm of the law, so that your youth may get what they are justly entitled to. It is with great pleasure that I am able to inform you that the present Bishop of Wellington has been going into the question of these reserves, and that a movement is now being made to remove the blot that has so long existed in respect to them. The question was discussed at the Anglican Church Synod held recently in Christchurch; conclusions were arrived at, and submitted to the Government. We have been asked to allow the matter to be submitted to the Supreme Court for a decision as to what is to be done in the future, it being alleged that the original trust cannot be carried out. There are, however, two necessary things that have to be considered. I maintain that the Natives have as much right to be consulted as have the Government of the day. Your forefathers originally owned the land, and gave it in trust for a specific purpose. You are therefore a party to the trust, and have as much right to be considered as anyone else. I may say that personally I do not agree with the proposals submitted by the Synod, because they have recommended that scholarships be offered to members of the Native race attending schools in any part of the colony under the control of the Church of England only. Such a condition is, in my opinion, too restrictive, and would defeat the object intended, because you may not be able to send your youths to those schools. Take the case of the land here at Papawai, it was donated for the benefit of the children of this district. Now, what the Synod proposes is that children of the Native race from any part of the colony shall participate in the benefits to be derived from this reserve. Further, as the State provides the money out of taxation for the general system of education, and for the Native schools generally out of the Civil List, this land is, I maintain, not now wanted for the purpose originally intended by your ancestors. I know that there it sufficient left to establish technical schools in addition to what has already been provided by the State. If these lands were properly used the Maori children of this colony would be given an opportunity of learning useful trades near their own homes, and of going out into the world fitted to earn their own living. Speaking on behalf of the Government, I may say we have no desire to be brought into conflict with the various Church bodies to which lands have for a specific purpose been intrusted. We desire that, under the altered conditions, the Native race be given that which their ancestors originally intended for their benefit. This matter is so important that it should not be dealt with piecemeal, but it should be dealt with by Parliament in such a comprehensive way as to remove the reproach that at present exists. Nearly twenty years ago, in the year 1879, a Royal Commission was appointed to report upon this subject. On that Commission were statesmen who thoroughly understood the question. There were Mr. Alfred Domett, Sir Francis Dillon Bell, and, I think, Sir William Fox and two others whose names I cannot at the moment remember. It was one of the strongest Commissions that we ever had in the colony. The condition of affairs disclosed in that report, and the recommendations made, were submitted to Parliament, which I say has not done its duty in allowing the matter to drift from that time to this. The Government intend to have that report, with the evidence, printed and laid upon the table of the House next session. The question should then be referred to a Select Committee composed of member of both parties, and also of the Native member. An opportunity should be given to all the Churches to be represented at the sitting of the Committee, and to give information and advice as to the disposal of these lands. In some cases these lands are lying dormant, and in some others the proceeds have accumulated; but in almost every instance the intention of the original trust has not been faithfully carried out. We shall carry from this house which you have so kindly donated to me as Native Minister direct to the Parliament in Willington what your wishes are in regard to this particular matter. I am very pleased indeed to think that the Church to which I belong—the Anglican Church—has, through its bishop in Wellington, been means of calling page 42attention again to this important matter, and of making an attempt to have the unfortunate condition of affairs rectified. As all the Churches are more or less interested, and as they all preach [unclear: bo] of purpose and Christian charity, let us hope that in dealing with these lands they will [unclear: practice] what they preach. Your forefathers handed over their children's welfare to those Churches; [unclear: that] also handed over the land for the benefit of their children, and, as the guardian of the Native [unclear: race] I do hope they will, when they come to deal with the matter, see that what was originally [unclear: intended] is given effect to In concluding this part of my address. I have only to add that an you [unclear: have] kindly dedicated this building to me as Native Minister, it was fitting that I should make [unclear: known] from here what the intentions of the Government are in respect to this important matter; and, [unclear: a] these reserves exist in different parts of the colony, I think it right the visiting chiefs should be [unclear: given] the opportunity of carrying back to their people the intentions of the Government. I say [unclear: that] the door is open so that your children might enjoy the blessing of manual and technical [unclear: education] there is a bright future in store for them. The race should then increase in numbers and be [unclear: able to] maintain that dignity which is typical of the Maori race.
In years gone by the late Sir Donald McLean and my dear old friend, the late Mr. [unclear: Sheehan] met the Native people in their kaingas, where they explained what was going on, and where an [unclear: in] change of confidences took place, from which much good resulted to both races. [unclear: Insuperbale] obstacles are in the way of the Natives coming to Wellington to meet Ministers. Therefore, [unclear: a] Native Minister, with the Hon. Mr. Carroll—who is really a credit to your race, and whom I [unclear: a] sure you are proud of—I have gone from place to place to meet your representatives, with a [unclear: view] being able to lay your wishes before Parliament in such a way as to meet with its [unclear: acceptation] Without being egotistical. I say that from such meetings a better feeling has sprung up between [unclear: the] two races than ever obtained formerly. There is now a mutual love and confidence, which I [unclear: be] will ever exist. There was recently a little trouble with a few of the disaffected Natives [unclear: of t] Ngapuhi Tribe in the North of Auckland, and I refer to this as being more of an accidental [unclear: occurence] than anything else. The moment the chiefs throughout the colony heard of this they [unclear: in] diately protested, alleging that it would injure the Native race and cast a gloom upon them. [unclear: I] their credit let it be said, the chiefs as far as they possibly could endeavoured to prevent [unclear: anything] serious happening. Even at this great distance, your chief. Tamahau, and his people were [unclear: ready] take their departure for the North to use their influence with the misguided band, and so [unclear: endeavour] to prevent injury coming upon their race. As Native Minister, I assure you that my heart was [gap — reason: illegible] whilst that trouble was on; but, as a good parent, I rejoiced when it ended without resorting [unclear: to] force. There are those who, being no friends of either race, magnified the trouble, and by so [unclear: doing] brought a reproach upon the whole of the Native race. Their reports were circulated here, in [unclear: the] other colonies, and in the Mother-country. Small as the trouble was, I have no doubt the [unclear: reports] magnifying as they did the occurrence, may have reached the ear of your mother, the Queen. [unclear: Now] I am sure that you will be pleased to know that a communication will go to the Queen telling [unclear: her] that those fanatical wrongdoers have to some extent admitted their crime, and that they [unclear: have] surrendered themselves to the law to be dealt with. Force should for ever be unnecessary in [unclear: the] country for the preservation of law and order. Reason should prevail. Parliament is the [unclear: haven of] security to which both races must go for the redress of their grievances. Both have equal [unclear: rights] there, and if Parliament is just to itself it will as far as possible remove grievances and deal [unclear: fairly] with the Native race, who are the weaker people here. You have only four representative. In [unclear: the] House of Representatives to seventy pakehas. In the other branch of the Legislature—that is, [unclear: the] Legislative Council—out of forty-five members there is now only one Maori representative, In [unclear: fairness] to you. I think it is the duty of the Government, as the Advisers of His Excellency, to [unclear: request] that your representation in that Chamber should be increased, so that when Bills are passed by [unclear: the] House of Representatives and sent to that Chamber there will be members of your own race [unclear: them] to see that the laws affecting you are made as perfect as possible.
In concluding this part of my address, I desire to say that I hope what I have said will be [unclear: well] considered and sink deep into your hearts. If you have anything to say in respect to these [unclear: matters] I shall be pleased to hear it from you. Salutations and good wishes to you, and may the [unclear: Creator of] all things shower His blessings upon you.
Wi Pere, M.H.R.: I quite agree with what you have said with regard to those education reserves. In 1885 I started a crusade in connection with them. I wanted the reserves returned [unclear: to] the Native people, and the House agreed to a resolution indicating that it was desirable that [unclear: this] should be done. And again when I had the honour to be returned to Parliament I took up [unclear: the] subject once more and battled for the return of these reserves, and the House agon, arrived at [unclear: the] conclusion that some consideration should be given to those appealing. Notwithstanding [unclear: that] favourable expression of opinion, Mr. Balance, who was them Premier, was afraid to tackle [unclear: the] question, owing to the influence of those of the Church—at least, I say he was afraid for the [unclear: reason] that he did not bring in any legislation giving effect to the general desire of Parliament. [unclear: Even] when your day arrived, and when you appeared in the front rank, the delay might possibly [unclear: have] arisen through fear or through timidity in approaching the subject. The Porirua reserve [unclear: was] always a burning question. Investigations were made with a view of bringing to light what [unclear: had] page 43been done with the proceeds of that reserve. Now you have told us that the revenue derived from that land at present in hand in over £6,000. I believe, myself, that they only put that money there recently when they thought their crime was about to be discovered, so that they could say they had been looking after the interests of the reserve. Again, there is a reserve at Masterton that has never been utilised. Nothing whatever has been done with it. I have always felt strongly on the question of these reserves, because the Church bodies were untruthful to their statements—that is to say, they never carried into effect what they promised to do. They first of all said that they would set up flour-mills for the Native people in addition to establishing schools. Having shown their want of truthfulness in this respect, I insist that the lauds should be taken absolutely out of their hands. I have been about six years in the House of Representatives, and I have always endeavoured to keep this matter in a prominent position, with a view of getting something done. Now, according to your representations to us, you have tackled it. I do not know when you first became inspired with the policy which you have delineated—namely, that these reserves should be used for technical education for the benefit of the Maori youth.
The Premier: It was owing to a communication that we received from the Bishop of Wellington. The Church asked for guidance in respect to the Porirua reserve and the moneys that had accumulated.
Wi Pere: The reason for my remarks taking this tone is that I am so earnest in my desire to impress upon you the desirability of dealing with this question at once, and not allowing it to drift further. It should be settled now. Had you made any other proposition in regard to it, I am certain that I nor any of the other Native chiefs and representatives present would have agreed to it. This matter being all-important, I should like you to give it a prominent position, and have it decided on exactly the lines you have here laid down—namely, that the reserves in each district shall be so administered that the benefits arising from them shall go to those living in each particular district, or to their descendants. Out of all the missionary or Church bodies that have existed in this colony, Mr. Williams was the only representative sufficiently energetic to try and carry out the purpose of those endowments. I refer to the To Auto College, to the Hukerere School, Napier, to the school at Waerengahika, Gisborne; but the result is this: from the extreme parts of the colony Natives are sending their children to those schools. This means going a considerable distance. The children are far away from their parents and immediate relatives, and there is no one to nurse them when sick. Many of them die and never see their homes again, and so many deaths have occurred among the children from distant parts that the parents are now afraid to send their children any distance to them. If your proposal is carried out, however, I would say, let Te Aute be kept for the benefit of the children in that district. They are living adjacent to it, and their parents are near at hand at the first call of distress. I am extremely gratified at, and congratulate you upon, discovering a method by which this matter may be dealt with for the benefit of the people. Now, addressing myself to the people who are here, I say, O friends, consider what has been introduced by the Premier as very important indeed. Nothing better can possibly happen to us than carrying into effect the principles which the Premier has enunciated. My last word to you, O Premier, is this: I trust that every individual in the meeting will lend you his and her support in giving effect to the good principles which you have just announced, for we have had sufficient experience of those other forms of schools which the Native children attend, and in which they are taught to talk glibly m foreign tongues When they come back to their own native kaingas no good comes from them. If, on the other hand technical schools were established they would not only assist in expanding the mind, but they would teach our children to become mechanics and useful citizens. My heart greatly rejoices in view of the possibility of this state of things being brought about. In my time I have sent thirty-five Native children from my own district to the Te Aute College. I have paid for their clothing, for their keep, and for their passages to and fro. Some of those children, when they acquired knowledge and became expert penmen, wrote other people's name to cheques, and eventually they have found themselves within the four walls of the gaols. Others again go about the streets finding European companions, instead of giving their own race the benefit of the knowledge and obtained at school, Therefore I say that, contrasting one form of education with the other. I am satisfied that the best results are to be derived from technical schools—at any rate, so far as the Native children are concerned. Now, with reference to your remarks as to the possible desirability of increasing the Maori representation in the Legislative Council, I trust that your selection will be guided by ascertaining the true character of those whom you are going to recommend for that honourable position. They should be men of character, and, above all things, they should be supporters of your administration. If you take my advice you will settle the question with regard to these appointments before next session, and not leave it till after the session. Long life to you for the many struggles you have made to help along, the interest of the Maori people.
Henare Tomoana: I have listened carefully to all the points that the Premier has brought forward, and I think it is well for us to settle them now. I concur in everything that has been said by Mr. Wi Pare in reply to the Premier's remark I hope that the Premier will be strong in his efforts to carry into effect all the suggestions that have been made. At Te Aute a branch has been devoted to technical education, but I trust the question will become a general one. My children have always page 44been urging me to bring this matter forward and to get it confirmed by the Maori confederation, and I am glad to see that it is now being given prominence to by the Premier. As to the method dealing with these reserves, I leave that entirely to yourself and Mr. Wi Pere. Now, with regari to the Legislative Council appointments. I would like the Premier to agree right off to the appointment of no less than four Maoris to the Upper House. My object in making the suggestion is this He should be ready with the appointments before the native Bill reaches that Chamber, where they would be able to support it. That is my word. Of course, the matter rests with you, and no doubt you will come to a fair decision as to the number you think proper. I discussed this matter with the late Mr. Balance as far back as 1893 or 1894. In referring to the words of all those chiefs whose pictures are hanging on those walls, Mr. Ballance then talked about the possible abolition of the Native Land Court. If it were possible for those old people to be here they could bring forward their proposals which the various Governments rejected, and I am sure they would be pleased to know that their wishes are now about to be given effect to by your Government. P the Land Courts could have been adjourned in the different parts of the colony, all the men, women and children of the colony would have been present to make their acknowledgments to you in connection with this Bill. I want you now, as Native Minister, to listen to this world of mine. I am very sad and pouri that all the tribes from different parts of the Island are not assembled here is the present moment—I mean yesterday, when you and the Governor appeared before us. Now, this is really my word: when all the people are assembled in the near future I would like you to make one more visit to see them all together. Long life to you as Native Minister.
Tamahau Mahupuku: I wish you long life as Native Minister for these new words—this new principle which is for the benefit of the younger generation which you have mentioned to us today The proposal that our children should be taught skilled work has my entire support. This has been a fond wish of mine for some considerable time. That the Government may see their way, in their wisdom, to establish schools of this order where the Natives might be more properly educated, and by means of which channels might be opened to them, is my fervent wish. This would be [unclear: apart] from the education which some of our children receive, and by which they become trained as lawyers, and are taught to write hieroglyphics. I want that kind of education which you have just spoken about. I want the Native youths to be so trained that they will earn their bread by the sweat of their brow and by the labour of their hands. Long life to you.
The Premier: I will now ask you to discuss a matter of vital importance to the Native as well as to the European race. The time at my disposal to-day is not very long, but I will try to make it as profitable as possible. Those representing many of the tribes have not yet arrived, but are on their way here. They will therefore not have an opportunity of hearing what I have to say, but I intend to have my remarks printed and sent to you, so that when they arrive they may read them and be enabled to discuss the various matters in all their bearings. I am very sorry to know that several of your chiefs are ill, but trust that they may soon be restored to good health. Those coming to a gathering of national importance like this should be comfortably housed. In answer to my instruction given yesterday, I have just received word that twenty-five tents are on their way for your accommodation and comfort. When I was last here I gave instructions that these were to be sent, but the department said they were wanted for the soilders. I also intend to give instructions to a medical man at Grey town to place his services at the disposal of any of the Natives who may fall sick whilst attending this gathering. I think a reasonable amount should be spent every year to try and preserve the lives of the Natives, by giving them the aid of skilful doctors.
I will now go into the matter which is principally responsible for my being present to-day. I refer to the question of dealing with the remaining lands of the Natives. The land is as life to you, and without it you must disappear from the face of the earth. To put the matter briefly, the Government, with the consent and support, I hope, of the Native race, intend to introduce into Parliament next session a Bill dealing with the land question. I will now give you in as few words as possible the principles of the proposed legislation. We do not intend to force it upon you. The time has gone by for Parliament to force upon the Native race, or even upon the Europeans legislation which they do not want. It is for me to reason with you, to explain the matter to you and to endeavour to prove that the proposals are for your benefit. When the Bill has been passed through Parliament it will be for the Government to divide the colony into, say, six or seven convenient Native land districts. If twenty Native owners in any particular district want the Act to come into force in that district, then they will send a petition to that effect to the Governor. It after that petition has gone in, twenty owners say they do not want the Act to come into force is that district, a poll will then be taken, and the Maori landowners will in this way say whether the Act is or is not to come into force in their district. If a majority decides that the Act is to come into force, then a Council or Committee, consulting of two Europeans nominated by the Government, two Native elected by the Native landowners of the district, will be set up, with the Commissioner of Crown Lands as Chairman. The Council will thus consist of five persons in all. The European and Native members of the Council or the Committee will be paid such salaries and allowances as shall be appropriated by Parliament. To have a legal meeting at least three members must be present, and of the three, one at least most be a Native. Due notice will therefore be page 45given to the Natives to decide as to the adoption of the Act. Petitions for its adoption will be inserted in the Government Gazette and in the Kahiti. On the adoption of the Act all lands, including Papatupu land, will vest in the Committee, except such lands as have been bought by the Natives from Europeans, or such other land as, in the opinion of the Governor, the owners are capable of managing themselves. The great advantage in our proposals is that when the Act comes into force in any district the land will vest in the Council or Board under the Land Transfer Act. There will then be no disputes as to the title of the land, and the Board will be able to lease the land in such way as I shall afterwards enumerate. The first thing the Council or Board will have to do will them be to set apart a sufficient quantity of land which shall be inalienable, and be for the sole use and occupation of the Native owners. It is the desire of the Government that the Council shall be liberal in laying off a sufficient amount of land to provide for an increased number of Maoris. After they have laid off such reserves it will be the duty of the Board to cut them up into convenient and sufficiently sized sections so as to give to each of the owners a piece of land for his own use, so that he may cultivate and live upon his own particular section, just as is done in the case of European settlers. He will there live with his wife and family, who will reap the reward of their labour upon their land. The next thing the Board will have to do will be to lay off land for leasing purposes, and they must give to the landless Natives, or those of the race not connected with the oweners of the land, a prior right to lease it. In this way the landless Natives, who at present are forced to live on their friends, will be enabled to get land by paying a rent to the Native owners in the same way as Europeans. One of the great difficulties in dealing with the Native question arises from the fact that there are many who are absolutely landless, and who feel that they are not only a burden to themselves, but also to their friends upon whom they live. I am sure they feel their position keenly. My Government had to ask Parliament to find 65,000 acres of land in the South Island, so that the Natives there might live. Now, in respect to the balance of the land vested in the Councils or Boards in the North Island, this will be leased to Europeans, who will pay a rent to be fixed by the Board. The rent will be fair both to the Natives owners and to the Europeans, who will occupy and improve the land. Another great benefit that I claim will result to the Natives if these proposals are given effect to is that after the land has been vested in the Boards there will be no further use for the Native Land Courts. The first step is to be taken in the direction of abolishing these Courts for all time. Further, you will not be able to swallow up the land in disputing over it. You may have to ask the Boards to decide who is entitled to the land, but it cannot be taken from you. It is true that you may have your disputes as to the distribution of the rents, but that is all. In the past there have been endless disputes brought into the Courts, and in the end it was found that the lawyers and the Native agents had swallowed up the land. The Natives themselves then went back to their homes injured in health and contaminated by close contact with bad surroundings. So far as our dealings with the land agents should be allowed to go before these Boards, or to take any part whatever in the business brought before them. I am of opinion myself that this should not be allowed, but I await your advice upon the matter. The reason for my thinking they ought to be debarred is that we propose to give the Boards the same powers as are now held by the Land Court in respect to partitions, succession, definition of relative interests, and the appointment of trustees for Native owners who are under disabilities. Now, the revenue derived from the land vested in the Boards will be devoted: First, to defray the cost of administration—that is to say, the necessary expenses incurred in connection with this: secondly, in paying off mortgages and liens that are on the land: and, thirdly, the balance will be paid to the Native owners according to their relative interests. From the day this Act is brought into force in any district no Native owner will be allowed to sell his land or to dispose of it otherwise. This, I think, will give effect to what I believe to be the Native mind, and is in keeping with the commands of your ancestors—namely, that you shall not sell any more land: that is shall be handed down from generation to generation, so that your children and those that come after them may live upon it just as you have done. If you agree to the proposals, and if Parliament passes the Act, then the Government will not buy any more Native land, nor will any Europeans be permitted to do so. If you do not approve of the Bill the Government will have to go on as at present, for they have to carry out the will of Parliament, which is all-powerful. I shall be sorry, however, if this happens. I have already said that I deeply regret to find your lands disappearing. At present there is only about 5,000,000 acres left to you. Divide this evenly among, say, forty thousand, and you will find the amount per head very small: and, as many of your race own large areas, the 5,000,000 acres is little enough for you. There are some pakehas who say that they will do their best to frustrate our proposals, alleging that we shall have a Maori landocracy living upon the sweat of the brow of the pakehas. These very same persons, and the papers contending against the Maoris holding on to the comparatively few acres that remain to them, do not object to large tracts of country being held by the pakehas. They would have your lands diminished and theirs increased; page 46this is illogical. Now, what do the Europeans who own large tracts of our colony do with the lands which they in many cases obtained from the Maoris at far less than its real value? Many of them leave the colony, and have the proceeds of the land sent away to London. No Maori land owner lives out of New Zealand. The money he receives by way of rents is always spent in the colony. Unlike the European, he does not hoard it up in the bank. They look after their friends, and any one coming to them in distress is always helped; and I say if they are permitted to lease their lands the rents will be spent for the good of their race and the colony generally. It is right that a stop should be made now, because if this taking of your lands is continued it will be only a very short time before you will become a burden upon the pakehas. I therefore say it is wise for them to allow you to keep your land, because it they do not do so they will ultimately have to keep your children. Now, by the Bill we propose to ask Parliament for permission to enable the Board or Council to spend in each district at least £5,000 a year for the purpose of making roads, surveying, improvements, &c., so that you may be enabled to go on the land upon the same terms as Europeans are placed there. Further, it will be some time before the rents upon which the Maoris are to live shall come in. We therefore propose that the colony will lend in each district, say, £5,000 yearly for providing for the necessities of the Maori owners until the rents come in from which the loans are to be repaid. The land will be the security for this. The money is to be lent at 5 percent for forty-two years. At the end of that period the debt will have been paid off. All that would have to be paid in each district out of rents would be about £250 yearly by way of interest. Believing, as we do, that what is good for the pakeha is good for the Maori, we propose to make the same financial concessions to you. We all belong to the one grand country, we all love and respect our good and noble Queen, and her laws are made for both races; therefore no distinctions should be made. Now, I think it would be a very proper and a pleasing thing to in some way connect these proposals with the Diamond Jubilee of our most gracious and beloved Sovereign. In the preamble to the Bill I would introduce something to this effect: "Whereas in the Diamond Jubilee year Her Majesty Queen Victoria certain members of the Native race forwarded, through Mr. Wi Pere, member of the House of Representatives, a petition asking Her Majesty to stop the sale of Native land: And whereas it is for the benefit of both races that this should be given effect to, for the reason that the land is required for the Maori owners. No one can doubt that, whilst you as a race are disappearing slowly but surely as the snow melts before the spring sun your land is disappearing as though carried away by an avalanche down the steep side or a high mountain. I would have Parliament affirm that your rivers and your lakes are necessary for your preservation, and that your forests are wanted so that you may be enabled to catch the birds for food, and, above all, that your land should be retained so that you may grow grain and other articles of food, and be enabled to come back into that honest and proper position in which you were found in the days gone by. In the old times your ancestors grew corn which they shipped to New South Wales and different parts of this colony. They ground the corn required for their own consumption. In those days you were a numerous, prosperous, happy, and ever-noble people. Now only a remnant remains. Why all this change? Because the land that grew the corn has largely gone from you. I believe all right-thinking people will assist the Government in their efforts to place you in a better position than you are at present in. I have told you that we shall not force this measure upon you. If you advise us to proceed we shall do so; but if you say stop, then we shall have to consider whether we proceed further, and surely there will be delay. I shall await with anxiety the reply of this great meeting. You will have your own time in which to deliberate, but I should like to have your decision before the meeting of Parliament. You may have some alterations to suggest, but, first of all, I trust to see you affirm the general principle of the measure. If you approve of it the Government will then proceed with all the force in its power to give effect to what it considers just and in the interest of both races. Already the pakeha-Maori, the interested agent, and the land-shark are pouring poison into your ears. They are following my footsteps; they do not come before me, or meet me in the open when I am with you so that I may have an opportunity of proving to their faces that they are false friends; but they come by stealth and endeavour to poison your minds by their false words. Let the watch-dogs be on the alert. I say let the chiefs who want to save their race and to hand down a name to posterity, that will be loved and respected be the watch-dogs of the Native race on this great occasion, and see that their weaker brethren do not fall into the hands of these pakeha-Maoris and agents. Some pakehas have said that the Government are not sincere in respect to this matter. They have said that it is my intention in a little time to go to London. My duty is to serve both races in this colony, and if you consider my humble services are of good to you they are placed cheerfully at your disposal. I have no intention of leaving New Zealand. I mean to stand by the country as long as the country will stand by me. It can never be said of me that I turned my back to the enemy. I am here to fight for what I believe to be just, and I am determined to fight this battle with all the vigour I possess, hoping at the same time to have your assistance in doing so. To-day, in the Mataura electorate, a great battle is going on between the Opposition and the Government candidate, and I have the feeling that we shall win the fight. If page 47our candidate is successful I shall, in view of our successful meeting, mark this as a good omen for both races. As reverses have in the past overtaken the bravest of your fighting men, so reverses may come upon us. Should we lose the day, however, the strength of the opposing forces will be just as they were, and it will not disturb me in the slightest. A précis of the Bill will be circulated amongst you to-day, so that you may be the better able to discuss it.
There is one other matter that I wish to mention before I conclude. Some time ago I issued a challenge, but I believe the parties challenged are not here. The action of the Government has been questioned in respect to Kapiti Island. I only mention this to-day because I want it cleared up. I want to show that in this, as in all other matters, the Government are really acting in the interests of the Native race. I say that that island is, as far as the Native owners are concerned, gradually disappearing into the sea. In a few years' time there will have been nothing left to you; for historic and other reasons it is of vital importance to both races. Kapiti is a Maori land-mark which, I am sorry to say, is fast disappearing. The mortgagees have got a hold of it, and nothing will presently be left there for the Natives to live from or upon. Last session one of the Native owners of that island came to the Native Affaire Committee, and protested against the Government reserving it, and urging that not another acre should be parted, with, but that it should be kept for all time for the Natives. This is what he said to the Committee, and this is what he said to me. The other day he came running after me—in fact, he hung on to me just as you see the limpets hanging on to the rocks. He said, "I want to see Mr. Sheridan. I want you to buy my interest in Kapiti"; but I said, "Go away; I do not want to buy your land." I am sorry to say there are some Natives who, at your meetings, urge that the sale of land be stopped; this they say in the open before their fellow-Maoris, but afterwards when they see the land-purchase officers they rush them to buy the land. If you agree to the proposals, land-purchase officers will disappear. I told you that Kapiti Island was fast disappearing; and, in order that those who have been blaming the Government may see the reason for our actions, I may tell you that under the Act of last session European claims have been lodged with the Government amounting to over £21,000. This large sum presses so heavily on Kapiti that it is forcing it into the pakeha land-ocean. We have, however, suspended dealing with the island, and nothing further can be done. I hope that those of the Native race who may have taken exception to our action will now understand that it was for their good, and that is why I desired to discuss the matter with them. I am prepared to stand by your decision, and I do not want the Europeans to be the only judges in this matter.
Time will not permit me to say more on this occasion. I hope you will have a successful gathering, that you will enjoy good health, and that every blessing may attend you. I have a pleasant duty to perform now. Their Excellencies the Governor and the Rear-Admiral, the captain of the war-canoes, have extended an invitation to ten of your leading chiefs to visit the largest of the canoes, and to lunch with him on Saturday next. Later on in the afternoon His Excellency the Governor desires to extend his hospitality to them also at Government House. It gives me very great pleasure to make this announcement, and this was the last command that I received from their Excellencies before they left here. I also with pleasure invite you to visit your father's home in Wellington, and receive there a cordial and hearty welcome. Urgent business will prevent my being present, but Mrs. Seddon, whom you love so well, and my children will be there to make you feel at home and happy. Certain names have been suggested, but it will be for you to decide the matter. You know the rank of the chiefs, and those entitled to your confidence, better than I do. I hope that there will be no heart-burning over the matter, and that a good selection will be made. To further their Excellencies' invitation, railway-passes will be granted to the chiefs from here to Wellington and back. In granting this concession, I feel sure that the action of the Government will meet with the approval of all well-wishers of the colony. Salutation and best wishes to you all.
Puretatia Ngata: This Bill does not take in the Tuhoe land?
The Premier: No; there is special legislation already in respect to that land, but we shall have a clause put into the Bill making it optional with the Tuhoe landowners to bring their land under it.
Henare Tomoana: Supposing Parliament throws the Bill out, could it be sent Home and passed there?
The Premier; The Parliament of this colony is supreme. Neither Her Majesty nor Her Majesty's Government can interfere in a matter which is of purely New Zealand concern. The, Queen can disallow a Bill which may go Home for her assent. Her power is superior, for she can disallow any Act of the colonial Legislatures within two years of its being passed.