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 Wellington, 5th July, 1898
Meeting between the Premier and Maori Chiefs, at Wellington, 5th July, 1898.
Tamahau said that the cementing of the relations between the two races dated back to the Treaty of Waitangi. There the sovereignty of these Islands was ceded to the Queen, and special advantages were given to the Maori people. After this followed the convention at Kohimarama, where matters affecting the two races were further discussed and resolved upon. For a considers. able time after there had been no European intervention, but this soon crept in. About the year 1886-87 the first Native member was called to the House to represent a Native constituency in New Zealand, with a view to carrying out the arrangements arrived at a meeting held at Te Kohimarama. We have at present a copy of the proceedings that took place at Kohimarama: other copies are still to be found in New Zealand, and I dare say some have found their way to England. Now, coming down to the present day, in the year 1886 a Bill was brought down by Mr. Ballance with reference to the Native people. However, when this Bill was passed, many Europeans went personally and interviewed the Natives and told them to use every means in their power to prevent this being given effect to, as it would mean a very serious misfortune to the Native people. In the year 1888 this Bill was repealed. Mr. Ballance himself personally visited some of the Native meetings. Since that Act was abolished, the Natives have been weeping continually ever since, right up to the year 1897, the date of the Jubliee of our Kind mother, the Queen, and you the Premier went Home to be present at the celebrations, and took with you a Native Contingent. A certain document was at that time sent Home, partaking of the nature of an objection, signed by Wi Pere and others, asking that the balance of the Native land should be reserved unconditionally for the Natives: and the reply to that request was something to this effect: "That is a matter which must be referred to my Ministers in New Zealand for their consideration." Well, the Natives of New Zealand look upon a reply of that kind as an instruction or command to the Queen's Ministers in this country, and they are still anxiously waiting for a reply as to when that command is to be carried out. A petition was drawn up and largely signed at the meeting held some little time ago, and forwarded to the House. It was signed by representative persons of both races, and its general effect was this: that the Government should use all speed to pass an Act which will prevent the further purchase of the balance of the land now remaining to Native owners. This year, 1898, I believe the Government is about to fall in with the desires of the Natives in this respect. The first Native assembly at which the Premier and Native Minister introduced his Bill was the meeting held at Waipiata, Hastings, where many Natives of the West Coast were assembled; and it was then agreed upon that further consideration of that Bill should be brought down to the hui at papawai and there considered. The second occasion was when the Native Minister visited the Waikato hui, at Waikato. There the same result was arrived at; it was proposed that the further consideration of that Bill should be held over until the Native meeting at Papawai. I think I am not far wrong in estimating that about two thousand people attended that meeting. The third occasion was at Wanganui, and there the same request was made to the Native Minister—that the proposals should be held over until the meeting at Papawai hui was held. The fourth—time hui was that at Papawai on the 21st May. No other matters were discussed there but this, and there were many there present who had not attended previously, and the only matter there discussed was the Bill proposed by the Native Minister; when the Natives carefully, line by line, had gone into this Bill and revised it, and talked it over, and had amendments to offer; and all this was done with a view to lay the matter finally before the Premier when he came here and to carry out the suggestion contained in the remark made by myself when the Premier visited that hui on the 26th May; and the Native people there assembled were exceedingly pleased to hear the remarks that were passed there. We have copies of the proposed amendments, embodying the desires of the Native people, but they are now in the Printer's hands, and may or not be ready, If it is the desire of the Premier that these proposed amendments should be explained by me, I would remark that Ngata is the person to explain them in the proper way. In fact, what we wish is shortly this: that the Government will pass the Bill, as amended by us, as speedily as possible. I have endeavoured to give a short sketch of the history of the matter which has led up to this Now, however, the land is slipping away by degrees from under our feet, and we realise the necessity of some stringent measure being brought in to put a stop to these proceedings. Secondly, we hope the Government will recognise the importance of this gathering of ours. It may be now that the arrangements of this kind have been brought forward—there are thirty persons who are delegates—we may be placed in the position of turning round to see what we can do in making some arrangements for the people. That is all we hope to obtain. I shall not take up the time at the Premier's disposal, and I wish him health and prosperity.
"Papawai, 20th June, 1898.
"The Hon. Mr. Seddon, Premier, and Minister for Native Affairs.
"Greeting. —By direction of the meeting of Maori chiefs assembled here, we, who have been selected to be a committee to furnish you with the decisions arrived at, at the meeting here, submit the same to you as follows: —
- "1. This meeting of Maori chiefs entirely indorse the principles of the Maori Land Bill introduced by you to that meeting and have made certain amendments and interlineations in the copy of the said Bill hereto attached.
- "2. And we pray that due consideration be given to these suggestions, in order that the wishes of your Maori people may be given effect to when finally preparing the Bill for its introduction into the Parliament of New Zealand.
- "3. It is not that we desire in any way to arrest the means by which it is proposed to administer our remaining lands for our benefit by leasing them, but we wish them dealt with at our Native meetings to be appointed, and the disposition of the lands belonging to each hapu to be submitted to the Board, This is a very reasonable proposal, for thereby all suspicion and fear in the Maori mind will be removed.
- "4. We wish that committees be appointed under the Board, and Block Committees, to assist the Board and lighten its work.
- "5. We also wish that the Committees be empowered to administer matters regulating the well-being and the sanitary requirements of the places of adobe, rendering assistance to the children attending schools, and conserving the food-supply, or the expenditure of moneys, so that they be not squandering, in order that the property and comfort of your Maori people may be assured to them.
- "6. It is but right and proper that women having an interest in land should be eligible as members of the Block Committee, should they so desire it, for there are many competent women who are quite able to administer affairs amongst their people.
- "7. With regard to the mana of the Native Land Court, it is most proper that the Native committees should work together, even though they are the appointees of the Board at first; or supposing that they were elected by both parties to a case that is to be dealt with, there are many cases that could be settled by mutual arrangement before the Committee of the Board.
- "8. The Board should deal with all rehearings; or the Board might have the power to appoint a committee to rehear.
- "9. All orders to be conferred by Commissioner on the Board, who shall sign his name thereto, and indorse the signature of the chairman of the committee which made the order of the first or second hearing; but the persons delegated by us to take the attached Bill to you will afford you any explanation you may desire.
- "10. The large assembly of chiefs greatly appreciated the views expressed by you in your speech here, and which has been printed and circulated amongst all the people; also for your kindness in forwarding the Bill to the meeting of your Maori people for their consideration, and express a hope that this enlightened policy will be continued in respect of any Bill in the future that will affect the Maori people. Also for the liberality of your Government in helping us by reducing the railway fares, thereby enabling the Maori chiefs to travel to the meetings at less cost. Also in arranging for the services of a medical man being available for persons attending the meeting. Many persons were taken ill who recovered, and who returned home in good health; and up to the present no deaths have occurred. Also for supplying military tents to aid the meeting, thereby housing the people comfortably. And also to your Government for conveying to us the thanks which your Queen was graciously pleased to accord to us on the receipt o the congratulatory address of the Maori people. Also for your kindly expressed hope that the Maori people will he prosperous, and retain their lands yet remaining to them, and that they be not dispossessed of them by sale. These are the greetings and the thanksgivings of all the chiefs of the Maori people, and the farewell greetings on this, the closing day of this the large meeting of the two Islands of New Zealand.
- "11. It is also right and proper we should here give expression to our greetings, and thanks to Tamahau Mahupuku and the chiefs and chieftainesses, the local hapus, the entertainers of the marae for their kind attention to their guests, and their good management in serving the food to the meeting right up to its close. Everything was conducted in the most satisfactory manner, and the managers, the cooks the stewards, the Maori policemen, and all that was conducive to the comfort of the guests, were all good, very good. That chief Tamahau was indefatigable in his efforts to provide for the comfort of the guests and of the meetings.
- "12. The Maori chiefs pray that their meeting may be established as an annual affair, and ask whether a law could be passed constituting the Maori Federation Assembly.
"We are considering that the members of the Maori Assembly should not be less than thirty or more than a hundred; thus it would not be burdensome on the local Natives who would entertain them, so that this assembly might constitute a body who should deliberate on matter affecting the Moari people, and Bills which may be forwarded by you to that assembly and also deal with any applications of the Maori people that are made to the Government. The Assembly to be called 'The federation of the Maori people.'
"Sufficient, then. Long life to you and your Government.
"From us the Maori chiefs and chieftainesses.
"Signed by us, the members of the Select Committee.
"Paratene Negta, and others,"
Now, in addition to these remarks, I would like to say, in conclusion, that we would request that the further consideration be held over until the Bill, with the amendments proposed to be made by us, is returned from the printers and until we have time to go over them, and also that some more time be given us to talk over the matter; and no matter what may be bulk and extent of the desires of the Native people, as represented in that Bill, we must apologise for that and ask the Premier's consideration when the matter comes up. There is one thing I would like to say in conclusion. At the Papawai hui certain Natives attended who held opinions different from those which we hold. What I mean to say is this: there are certain persons who are not with us in regard to the propositions of the Premier Bill. There are those who advocate the King's Bill and some others Heke's Bill. We do not make any remark about them one way or other.
The Premier: Who Were in the majority?
Paratene Ngata: the people we represent were certainly largely in the majority. No doubt they will come before the native minister in due course. Petitions are being signed concerning this matter. I dare say there are over ten thousand persons' names. who will come before the minister, and who are supporting the Premier's Bill.
H. Mangakahia (Auckland): I would like to say a few words of greeting to the Premier and his colleagues who are here assembled. In the opening remarks made before the Premier, Tamahan said something which only represents the opinions of those of his own side. He told us that time had been granted by the Premier in order to interview the representatives of East Coast tribes, and that we, West Coast tribes, must seek an interview of our own. I should like to fell in with that suggestion of his, and I therefore take this opportunity of informing the Premier that it is our intention to ask him, as soon as we have our scheme drawn up and are ready to meet him, to grant us a similar interview to the present one; and when he shall have granted that interview in accordance with our request, at some future time, then it will be for us to lay before what was desire, and the objects we hope to attain.
The Premier: To you, Chief Tamahau, and the other rangatiras of the natives assembled, I give my hearty and sincere greeting. I recognise the presence of Wi Pere, Tomoana, and the other chiefs, who are the representatives of the Committee which has been appointed at Papawai. I am also pleased to meet the last speaker, representing the Natives who are not in accord with the desire expressed by the great majority of the natives at Papawai. As the minister for the Natives race, and with my friend and colleague, Mr. Carroll, who is of your race, it is my duty to hear all that can be said both for and against the proposals which have been submitted to the various huis at Huntley, Wanganui, and Papawai. It is by discussing, it is by hearing each and every side of the question, that we arrive at safe conclusions, more particularly knowing that those who are gathered together to discuss the question desire to do what is right. Your forefathers met to discuss the law which was to be for the good of the race-and it was for the good for the race-I allude to what has been referred to by Tamahau, in 1840-namely, the Treaty of Waitangi, which was then draws up and agreed to. Then, again, there was the meeting at Kohimarama, at which further resolutions were submitted to the Government. It took a long time before effect was given to that recommendation made at that meeting. Ultimately, however, representation of the Native race was given in both branches of the Legislature; and I have no hesitation in saying that great good has resulted from the suggestion made by the natives that they should have representation in Parliament. I say great good has resulted. As great benefits arise from the natives meeting and holding meeting, so great good arises by both being represented in Parliament and discussing matters affecting both races. It was very pleasant indeed to hear the name of my late chief and colleague, John Ballance, brought up and mentioned so favourably in respect to the meeting which he had with the Natives. I have been told that the course the government took when myself and the Hon. Mr. Carroll went to the Native kaingas and met the Natives there, and explained our measures, was an entirely new departure. I am very pleased to hear that Mr. Ballance took exactly the same course before bringing matters before Parliament concerning the Native race. And I may say that those who write in ignorance of the past are entirely oblivious of the fact that the late Sir Donald McLean used to go and visit the Maoris, and hence his great popularity and power to help both races. Tamahua in his opening remarks mentioned that I was the father of both races: surely it cannot be contended for a moment that a father should not go and see his children. In seeing them he is able to sympathize with page 51them in any sorrow they may have, and console them, and this creates love between father and children; and if they are rejoicing and prosperous, it is well that he should be there to witness their joy and take part in it; so to-day the good wishes that I know exist, and which have been so well expressed by Tamahau and the Natives at Papawai, have, in a great measure, been created by these visits and by trying to do what is good for both races. When that Treaty of Waitangi was signed it was understood clearly and distinctly that the sovereignty of the Queen was acknowledged by the Maoris, and that they would work under the Queen and be treated just the same as the white people. Now, what do we do with the white people, the Pakeha? If we are going to bring in legislation affecting them, they ask us to go and see them and discuss matters with them. They call meetings and the Ministers go on the platforms. Not only do the Ministers agree to this request, but it is demanded by the white people: they have always asked that they should be consulted in matters affecting the workers, and conference are held every year just as it is proposed by this committee to hold a hui each year. I therefore myself favour this annual meeting; and as the Government pays the railway fares and the steamer fares of the delegates to a conference of the pakehas, so in anything affecting the Natives, if the Maoris were to ask that we should pay their train and steamer fares, say to the number of thirty, they would only be asking that we should do for them what we do for the Pakeha; but when the Maoris ask for these concessions they are told " we will give you reduced fares, but you must pay your own" so it appears that we do not treat them in the same way as we do the pakehas. I think, therefore, the Maoris have a real grievance, because all the children of the Queen are supposed to be treated alike. But I come now to the serious part of the Question—that is, the question of dealing with the land. How very particular the pakeha is in dealing with any question affecting the land ! I am one of those who look upon that question affecting the land as being of the most vital importance. I say the land is the life: the land to the people is like what the spring is to a watch, the main-spring; it gives life, it gives motion. Without the land they cannot live. If the land of Maori disappears there is no doubt that the Maoris themselves will soon also go. When Tomoana said that the land was going away from under the feet of the Maoris, he told all those who are assembled what is the truth. It is slipping away very fast. It is like the coach with which the horses have bolted down the hill; the horses are going down the hill very fast, and unless we put on the break soon, there will be a general smash up. Now this meeting that was held at Papawai, and this meeting to-day, are for the purpose of putting the break on; the break is in that building up there in Parliament; that is the brake. We are the drivers, and if that break is applied I am sure it will save both races. Now it would be treating what took place at Papawai with [unclear: scant] courtesy if I was to discuss any of the amendments which have be made to-day. It took a long time to come to a conclusion, and after careful consideration this was arrived at. I, therefore, must ask some time to consider the amendments. I wish to see them in print, side by side with the Bills, so as to make a comparison. You know my weakness, because, from the number present, I judge that you mean to put the Wahines on the committee. You know—and it says a great deal for your tact and acuteness—that the pakehas propose to send woman to Parliament. If the pakehas knew that the Maoris would not allow the woman to go on these committees then they will say that they will banish them. That is very good; it has taken them a long time to come to the conclusion that the wahines take a prominent part in the maintaining the race. I may explain, so as to make it clear, that under the Bills proposed we intended that the Boards, once constituted, practically do away with the Native Land Courts; and as to yours proposals that the Boards should have advisers, I must give it careful consideration, as I have said—that is, in respect to the committee of owners. The only danger in this: that we must take care that the land is not swallowed up in expenses in another direction. That might be as bad as the lawyers and the agents—they might swallow up the land. You have got to be very careful, and that is why I ask for time to consider the amendments in this respect. Now, I know there is great expense incurred in connection with your stopping here in Willington, and I want to avoid your being put to any expense, and I will deal with the matter as soon as I can. I am given to understand that petitions are being signed in favour of the Bill. I would like these petitions to be put in before Parliament, so as to be considered with the Bill; that will show the European representatives that the Maoris and those more particularly interested are favourable to the change taking place. I return to those who have offered them my kind thanks for the friendly expressions manifested towards myself and the Cabinet, and I am satisfied that much good will result from the meeting which took place. I find a general wish in Parliament to improve the present condition of affairs in respect to the Natives and their lands, and I may express also the pleasure of those representing the Europeans in Parliament that the Maoris now fully recognise in all parts that it is to Parliament they must look for the redress of their grievances which they may have, and I am satisfied that reason will prevail, and that justice will ultimately be done. On your return to Papawai, and when writing to the rangatiras of the committee, please express my greetings and views. I have been asked by those who are opposed to your proposals that I should give them a hearing—that I might meet them and hear their objections. I should be quite prepared to grant them that opportunity having failed to convince the majority of their race at papawai, they probably think they may page 52have more effect by bringing their proposals before me. My mind is open, I am in no way prejudiced, I will listen to what they have to say, and hear their arguments and decide for them to [unclear: the] best of my ability; but I would like that they would do the same as at Papawai, that they [unclear: would] put their amendments and the reasons for the amendments in print, so that I may compare the two sides, and I can then, whatever conclusion is come to, put both all these reasons and amendments before Parliament, so as that Parliament itself may judge. There was a keen note touched on by Tamahau in reference to the resolution of 1886, which has been a dead letter, but what it had been carried into effect, would have made the Natives more numerous to-day, and [unclear: place] them in a much better position than that they now occupy. What he has said is the truth: if it [unclear: had] been given effect to, the Maoris would have been much better off in position than they are now [unclear: in] this country. As one who for years has studied the Native land question, and the Natives as a whole, I say, from my own experience, that the first thing that concerned the Native race was that legislation, and yet it was opposed by the Natives themselves, just as they now oppose this Bill, I say that legislation was practically a dead letter, and has been the means of reducing the [unclear: number] of Natives in this country by thousands. I thank you very heartily for your greetings, and I am very pleased te meet you to-day, and shall look forward to meeting you again on a future [unclear: occasion].
Hon. Mr. Carroll said,—He was glad to see that those present had selected persons to represent both sides of the question, respectively Mr. Ngata on behalf of those unfavourable to the Bill, and Mr. Maungakahia for those who advocated Home Rule principles. It would be well to leave all the arguments of both parties in the hands of those two persons, and all our efforts in finding a solution to this great question should be unattended by any political prejudices or other personal differences which may exist between the two sides.