Native Land Court. [Owharoa]
Henry A. H. Monro, Esq., Judge; Wiremu Mita Hikairo, Assessor.Owharoa
Through a cloud of evidence, a vast deal of it irrelevant, and most of the rest absolutely contradictory, the Court clearly sees these facts:—
|Ist.||That Ngatitara conquered certain lands near Ohinemuri and settled on them;and that if, as has been asserted, but not proved, these tribes were the rahi of Ngatitamatera, that does not alter the case, since they did not offer to protect them or sustain their rights, if they had any, against their connections the Ngatitara.|
|2nd.||That before the Ngatitara could have advanced to attack Ngamarama in their strongholds at Waihi, they must have been in occupation of Owharoa, through, which they had to advance, and by which their only retreat lay.|
|3rd.||That they have never been dispossessed by an enemy.|
This being so, the Court cannot admit that they were deprived of the land by their friends. At all events, they cannot rightfully be so deprived now; and it is clear that they have been in occupation until a comparatively recent period.
The great effort of the opponents' counsel was to establish the absolute serfdom of the Ngatitara to Ngatitamatera; and some degree of subordination seems to have been proved, but principally by the evidence of modern facts. Had the fact, however, been fully proved, the Court could never admit that such a position—particularly when not arising out of a conquest—necesarily involves the disherison of the rahi of all their lands, and the vesting them in the hands of the chiefs of the dominant tribe. It has been admitted on all hands that there never has been fighting between the two parties; on the contrary, it has been shewn by their opponents that their friendship was first broken by the discussion in respect of leasing the land for gold mining, and it has been shewn that their ancestors were equal. If, then, the weaker were in quiet possession of lands before they sought the assistance of the stronger to. avenge their losses by the conquest of other lands, and they remained for ever after in friendship, albeit the weaker might be more or less subordinate to the superior, and whatever may be the right of the protecting tribe in the land conquered by them, the Court cannot see how the protected tribe can have become dispossessed of their original lands.
Judgment must therefore pass in favour of the claimants.