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The Deportation Proceedings

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The Deportation Proceedings.

The notice ran as follows:—

In the matter of the Samoa Amendment Act, 1927

To Olaf Frederick Nelson, of Apia, Merchant.

Whereas I have reason to believe that you are hindering the due administration and executive government of the Territory of Western Samoa Now Therefore I, George Spafford Richardson, Administrator of the said Territory, hereby require you to appear before me on the 16th day of December 1927 at 9.30 a.m. o'clock in the forenoon at the Office of the Administrator at Apia to show cause why the provisions of the above entitled Act should not be made applicable in your case. For your information I hand you herewith a copy of the above entitled Act. I have to inform you that I am prepared to permit you, on your appearance, to have the assistance of counsel or other person to assist you in showing cause accordingly. You may also tender any written statement or other document, or produce any person or witnesses. For your further information I have to inform you that the matters by reason of which I believe you to be hindering administration as aforesaid are:—

You are the "recognised and active head of an organisation called the "Mau" or League of Samoa, the purpose of which is to secure self-government for Samoa and in furtherance of such purpose, by unlawful means to frustrate and render ineffective, and which is frustrating and rendering ineffective, the functioning of the Administration of the Territory.

Dated the 14th day of December, 1927.

(Signed) Geo. S. Richardson,

Administrator of Western Samoa.
Before appearing next day in reply to this requisition, I addressed the following written statement to the Administrator:—

To His Excellency, The Administrator of Western Samoa,


In Pursuance of the suggestion and permission made and given by Your Excellency in your notice under the above intituled Act dated the 14th day of December 1927 and served upon me Olaf Frederick Nelson on the 15th day of December 1927 at 10.30 a.m. requiring me to appear before you at 9.30 a.m. on the 16th day of December 1927, to show cause why the provisions of the above intituled Act should not be made applicable in my case, I respectfully tender the following written statement:—
1.The report of the Royal Commission has not yet been made public in Samoa.
2.The summary which has been made public is net a report and cannot be relied mi to express fully the findings of the Royal Commission. In any case, that summary is not, except as to extracts, in the words of the Royal Commissioners. There are expressions in the summary that strongly support this view.
3.The summary makes it clear, however, that in the words of the Royal Commissioners "little reliance" could be placed on the evidence of the Natives to the effect that I have told them not to obey the laws and regulations of the Government. If further makes plain that there is no evidence that I was concerned in any propaganda of this kind which might have emanated from the Committee of the Mau at Apia.
4.I cannot accept responsibility for statements by Natives to the effect that they recognise me as head of the Mau, nor does Your Excellency's requisition give any facts in support of such a view.
5.I am not a member of the "Mau" as it is now operating. I was elected Chairman of the original Citizens' Committee, whose object was merely to place grievances before the Hon. the Minister for External Affairs. Those objects are clearly set forth in the typed statements forwarded to Your Excellency for transmission to the Hon. the Minister in December last. Beyond that object and those grievances, I and the said Committee never have gone.
6.The Citizens' Committee was only part of the "Mau" and ceased definitely to take any part in "Mau" deliberations or to have anything actively to do with the "Mau" page 30 subsequent to the directions of the Hon. the Minister during his visit in June last.
7.There was no disposition on the part of the Natives to disobey the laws of the land during the period prior to June when the Citizen's Committee was in active control of the two-fold organisation.
8.I have no knowledge to the effect that it is the purpose of the "Mau" to secure self-government. No such idea was ever mooted or even hinted at during the period in which I was active on the Citizens' Committee.
9.I have not been at any time a party to, nor have I ever countenanced any "means" lawful or unlawful "to frustrate and render ineffective the functioning of the Administration."
10.Whilst it is true that the above intituled Act states that "the Administrator shall inform him (the person requisitioned) generally of the matters which have induced such belief as aforesaid," yet it is equally true that the same clause provided that the Administrator "shall grant him (the person requisitioned) full opportunity of denial or explanation."
I submit that there can be no possibility of a "full opportunity of denial or explanation" unless the hearing of the "matters" is based upon the following essentials:
(a)Definite written charges to be made and delivered to the person required to appear.
(b)Time in which to prepare a defence and collect evidence in refutation of those charges.
(c)All evidence to be on oath.
(d)The right of cross-examination.

Your Excellency's requisition does not make provision for any of these essentials, and in their absence I am practically helpless except so far as I may make general denials to "general charges." Moreover, I am called upon to prove negatives. It is the universally accepted rule in both logic and law that he who affirms must prove, and that no man can or should be called upon to prove a negative.

12.It is to be noted that if I were guilty of the charges either generally stated or implied in Your Excellency's requisition, I could undoubtedly have been prosecuted under the usual Statute Law in the King's Court for seditious conduct, or taking part in an unlawful assembly. In that case the essentials I have referred to would govern the enquiry. No such prosecution has ever been brought.
13.When Your Excellency wrote to me on the eve of my departure for New Zealand, I replied asking Your Excellency, in effect, to tell me of any charges Your Excellency had to make against me. Your Excellency's reply disclosed no definite charge. It merely blamed me for acting as chairman on a certain committee. I desire to point out that that Commiteee was a thoroughly constitutional and legal body and that no facts were alleged to show how the peace, order and good government were endangered by that Committee.
14.Since then and up to a week after the commencement of the sittings of the Royal Commission, I was absent from Samoa.
15.Any apparent activities on my part in connection with the Citizens' Committee since the visit of the Hon. the Minister in June last, have been solely for the purpose of bringing matters before the Royal Commission, as was evidently expected both by the Royal Commission and the New Zealand Cabinet, and was certainly approved of by my New Zealand counsel, namely, Sir John Findlay, K.C., K.C.M.G.

Dated this 16th day of December, 1927.

(Signed) O. F. Nelson.

Following this letter, I appeared before General Richardson, accompanied by Messrs. Baxter and Slipper as legal advisors. The following is a verbatim report of the proceedings:—

Mr. Baxter: "Mr. Nelson appears before your Excellency this morning in accordance with the notice issued by you under the provisions of the Samoa Amendment Act, 1927. I am appearing to assist him, together with my friend Mr. Slipper. I do not propose to speak at any length. Mr. Nelson's evidence will consist of the statement already placed before you by me. I wish to bring under your notice a letter which was sent to the Samoan Committee before the receipt of your communication. It v. sent on the 13th December. It is as follows:—

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"To the Leaders of the 'Mau.'

"On the termination of the enquiry of the Royal Commission, it was decided that, when the decision of the Commission came to hand, we were again to meet you to discuss the matter. The decision has now arrived, and is published in the ' Samoa Guardian/ so it was our intention to meet you this week. On referring the matter to counsel they have advised us that no useful purpose can be served by our meeting you. Such a meeting would be undoubtedly misconstrued and made to appear as if we had broken the orders of the Minister prohibiting Europeans from participating in Native affairs. The decision, as published, shows that in the minds of the Commission the Administrator and Administration are right and the Mau are wrong in all the matters under dispute. Most of the blame has been placed on us, the European section of the Citizens' Committee, more especially on the Chairman. The decision only discloses the findings of the Commission, but no recommendation of what should be done is contained therein. Furthermore, this decision, or even a small portion of it, cannot be made effective until after it had been considered by the Parliament or Government of New Zealand and they had given their decision on it.

"Yours respectfully, Citizens' Committee (European Section).

"(Signed) O. F. Nelson, Chairman."

"Commenting on the notice itself, I just wish to mention that we are put in the unfortunate position of being asked to prove a negative, which is practically impossible. We can only say "No" to what is alleged, and such a course is unknown both in logic and law, where it is accepted he who affirms must prove, and that no man should be called upon to prove a negative. Nevertheless, we are bound by the requirements of your letter. The evidence in chief is before you, and Mr. Nelson is attending for the purpose of answering any questions which may be asked. I suggest that Mr. Slipper and myself may be entitled to ask one or two questions if it is necessary to clear up any point.

The Administrators "Charges."

General Richardson: I cannot receive any questions from counsel or from Mr. Nelson unless it deals with the general question. I have called Mr. Nelson here this morning to answer a charge which was set out in a letter to him yesterday. That charge I will now read:—

"You are the recognised and active head of an organisation called the ' Mau,' or League of Samoa, the purpose of which is to secure self-government for Samoa, and in furtherance of such purpose by unlawful means to frustrate and render ineffective, and which is frustrating and rendering ineffective, the functioning of the administration of the territory."

"You have been called here this morning to defend this charge which has been drawn up in accordance with the Samoa Amendment Act, 1927. The charge is set forth in the letter of yesterday, and a copy of the Act was also sent with it. The defence has been handed to my by counsel this morning. It is in writing, and I have already been considering it, and I may consider it a little further; but I wish you to have the fullest opportunity of saying what you wish to say concerning the charge. I have no question on that paper for the moment; but I would like to ask one or two before I consider what action should be taken. I want you to be quite assured that I will allow you the fullest time to deal with this matter. I will now ask you one or two questions.

General Richardson: "Have you addressed meetings of the Mau, Mr. Nelson?"—Not since the Minister's order, except in respect to the sitting of the Royal Commission.

"Have you been in communication with Native members of the Committee during the past month?"—We wrote them that letter, and Natives call on me on business, and the only thing that I have asked them to do was to collect some money to pay for the expenses of the past Counsel's fees and what we have paid out. I understood when 1 was being examined by the Sellect Committee in Wellington that that course would be quite justifiable.

"Are you aware that Native members of this Committee (I am speaking of the Native members in Apia) have circulated and are still circulating' orders and letters of instruction not to obey orders from the Government, nor to pay taxes?"—I have heard that.

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"Have you, as a recognised member of the Committee, or any other member of the Committee taken any steps to prevent these instructions going out?"—When I first heard of it after the Minister's visit I told one or two people who came and told me, that it was a wrong course to adopt, because right throughout our activities with the Samoans, before we were ordered to cease by the Minister, we had exhorted them to make whatever representations they had to make to the Minister in a constitutional manner, we told them on no account to break the laws or to disobey any orders of the Government.

"But since the Minister's visit, have you, or any of the European members of the Committee, taken steps to stop this circulation of propaganda or instructions which were preventing the Government functioning?"—I cannot vouch for what others have done, but as far as I am concerned, I have done what was possible under the restrictions placed upon me in respect to the orders of the Minister.

General Richardson: "The orders of the Minister were to undo the evils that had been done. The movement had been started and appeared to have got beyond control of some of the Natives themselves; and the Minister saw that the influence of the Committee was necessary to readjust matters to their former condition. Have you or any other member of the Committee done your part towards putting these people right in regard to obeying the order of the Minister?"—I have always told them right through to obey the law. As to any instructions which the Mau Committee are said to have issued to the Samoans regarding non-payment of taxes or disobedience to the law, these instructions were not being given as long as we were in the Committee.

"We are aware that the European Committee organised the Mau movement, although at first it was a combined European and Native movement. The growth of the Mau was the result of that. Therefore the responsibility goes back to those who originally organised the movement which got beyond control. Subsequently the Minister ordered those responsible for the trouble to undo their work. Have the European members done that ? Not in a negative sense-not by leaving things alone-have they done anything positive by giving instructions about disobeying orders?"—We had one public meeting with the Samoans after that, and that was the day we received the letter from the Minister. We were in Lepea, and read out the letter from the Minister, and told them that they were our instructions, and we asked them to follow out the instructions of the Minister the same as we would.

"We Cannot Function"

General Richardson: "We know the position to-day, that the country is divided. There are one or two districts where we cannot function. In other districts some are in the Mau and some are in the Malo. The simple minds of the Samoans are unable to reason out the position, and it is causing them to look upon these organisations as two separate authorities. We cannot function, and it is necessary that these people should be told from the right sources, from myself and from the source from which they have received their lead, that they are in the wrong, and that they must obey the laws and carry out instructions from constituted authority. I have only this question: Will you now, personally, in the presence of the Secretary of Native Affairs (Rev. Mr. Lewis) give me your word to instruct the Native Committee in Apia to go back to their homes, obey the orders of the Government, and put anything they have to say through the proper channels, through the properly constituted channels to me? The whole trouble is really emanating from the Committee in Apia. Will you personally instruct this Committee to go back to their homes and obey the orders of the Government and stop this attempt to frustrate the functioning of the Government?"—May I ask if you will permit me to consult with my counsel?

General Richardson: "You may do so."

After Mr. Nelson had conferred with Messrs. Baxter and Slipper, the question was again continued by His Excellency: "I put this question in the interests of the country and of the Samoans-I put it to you as man to man and as one who has influence and interest in the country-and I ask you to give me your answer?"—In answer to that question, Your Excellency, I wish to say that I have done that all along. When the Minister gave his order to us, I not only told the Natives to go home, but I also told them that there was nothing for them to do here . The Minister had come and gone. We had met him and presented all our matters to him, and now they would have to wait until they received the reply of the Minister. There was absolutely nothing page 33 for them to do in Apia, and as far as I know the greater part of them left right away. Any further staying on here must have been a later development in their minds, because they agreed to go back. The A'ana people told me they agreed to leave right away that night. I asked counsel about reporting what I had done to His Excellency, and they advised me to do so. If your Excellency asks me again to advise the Natives to go home, obey the laws, and put any complaints through the proper channels, I have been advised to agree to do so.

General Richardson: "Do you not feel it your duty to do this to put a stop to the possibility of conflict between the two sections of natives?"—I feel, as much as anybody, regret at the present state of affairs.

"Your answer is that you are not prepared to do it of your own volition, but will do so if asked?"—The reason was on account of legal difficulties.

"I was not thinking of the legal part of it-what is your answer-yes or no?"—I say. Yes! but to tell them that they are wrong ....

General Richardson (interrupting): "I did not tell you to say that. Will you personally, and in the presence of the Secretary of Native Affairs, instruct this Committee to go back to their homes and obey the orders of the Government and put their complaints through the proper channels?"—Yes!

I do not actually ask you to use these words. I will allow you to say what you think in your own heart. I am certain that they know that they are wrong, and you know that they are 'wrong, but if the using of your influence on the Natives is going to be prejudiced I will not ask you to do it."—Yes, but the presence of the Secretary of Native Affairs might make things worse. I am only suggesting this.

"It would be much more satisfactory to him. and I want your answer."—I only just wanted to make a suggestion with the object of carrying it out satisfactorily. If it is only a matter of appearing there with the Secretary of Native Affairs, I cannot instruct them, I can only speak to them.

"My suggestion is that it should be done in the presence of the Secretary of Native Affairs, so that the Natives will see that your action has the backing of the Government. You stated that when you went away you told this Committee to go to their homes. Is it true that you stated that for every member of the Committee sent away from Apia, his place would be taken by one from his district so that it would be kept going ?—No!

Absolute Denial of Charges.

General Richardson: That is all the questions I have to ask.

Mr. Slipper: When we spoke of the Mau to-day, Mr. Nelson, is that the same sort of thing that it was nine months ago; is it the same size or is it bigger?—I think it is bigger.

Since the Minister's visit, has there not been a distinct cleavage between the White and Native Committee?—Yes: the Mau have disregarded the exhortations of the Citizens' Committee, as they were given to the people at the last meeting we had With the Samoans.

Do you remember speaking to the Natives at a meeting at the conclusion of the sittings of the Royal Commission?—Yes; I spoke to the Samoans then, and I told them that the sittings of the Royal Commission being concluded, there was nothing for us to do but to wait for the decision. We as the Citizens' Committee now had to go right back to where we were after the visit of the Minister. We were ordered to cease activities with them, which we did, except with regard to collecting money to pay expenses. They were told that when the decision arrived, it would be in respect to matters regarding the Minister's visit and before, in which we were collectively interested; but all things after the order of the Minister we were not responsible for, and therefore we have now to refrain from further activities.

Air. Slipper: It was said at that meeting that the two parties would separate, but when the result came through and it was in English, the White Committee would report to the Natives?—Yes.

As a matter of fact it was after this report came through that this meeting of the Native Committee was in prospect and that caused your letter of the 13th December?


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The letter was written because your counsel decided that it was improper even to meet the Committee to report?—We thought that it was better to consult counsel, as we feared that it would not tend to put ourselves right. We adopted the course we did and wrote to them instead of meeting them.

At that meeting at Lepea you told them to go home. Did any other people in the White Committee speak?—I think you will find it in the notes-I am not too sure

What was the general reply-would they or would they not go home?—The people of A'ana by what I was told said that they would go home that night, and the Savai'i people would go home as soon as they could. Those who had native boats went home. Those who did not have boats of their own had to. wait and take their chances in the motor boats; and I, myself, went to the expense of diverting one or two of our own ships from the places they might have gone to, so as to send them to Savai'i and enable the people to get away.

With reference to instructions coming from the Central Committee to the people telling them not to obey the laws-have those instructions, before they have been issued, ever been referred to you or the European Committee in any way?—Never in any one instance.

Apparently they knew that it was of no use?—Yes, because they were contrary to our own instructions to them.

In regard to exhorting them to keep the peace-perhaps you can give His Excellency an example of this morning?—This morning, while waiting at Mr. Baxter's office for news or information from him regarding his meeting with His Excellency, a number of Samoans came in. They were excited and asked what was the trouble. I told them that there was no trouble. They stated that they did not want us to appear before His Excellency. I pleaded with them and begged them and appealed to them in the Samoan way in tears, that if they did not wish to obey me or be guided by me in any way, to do this one thing for me, and that was to ask their people to disperse and not cause any demonstration or bring about the least suspicion of one. This I begged them to do for me personally, because I felt and I told them that a demonstration of that nature would only excite the people and probably lead to trouble, they very last thing in the world that I would like to see, and the very thing that I have fought against. I have used every influence on my part where such was possible to preserve peace and not to excite the people.

"In an Ugly Mood."

Mr. Slipper: Can you tell us in what frame of mind you believe them to be?—I did not like the looks of the people. I felt that they were excited, and I did the very best I could to remove that excited feeling. Furthermore, I might mention that since I received the letter from His Excellency, and apart from consulting counsel and answering one or two European questions, I have not spoken to a soul. I feel chat the people are in an ugly mood, and I would not tell them anything that would make them more excited.

Was there more than one district represented?—There was more than one. They came in one after another from different districts, and I exhorted them to get away from that excited feeling. They must have noticed that I meant it from my heart. because they promised to do what I begged them.

There were others present at the time?—Yes, Mr. Bruce, Mr. Smyth. Mr. Pleasants. Mr. Bruce came in to see me about a letter he had receive about the Market Hall.

You are interested in both the Market and the Market Hall.—Yes.

Are you prepared to meet His Excellency on that matter?—I asked Mr. Bruce to see Mr. Meredith and tell him, because he is the sub-lessee of the Market Hall Company, that I agree as one of the directors; and furthermore I gave him the letter that was addressed to me and told him to show this to Mr. Meredith, and that I also agreed, as a trustee, to the closing of the market or putting the lights out at six o'clock.

Regarding the question of replacing any member of the Committee who was banished-have you heard of that idea?—I have heard of that, and I asked what that was, and was told that the object was to pacify the people who were being sent away. They would be satisfied if others could take their place.

You realise His Excellency's question-did that idea emanate for you?—No.

Did it emanate from any members of the Committee?—I do not think so.

Was it any concern of yours?—-No.

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Those Kings Birthday Celebrations.

General Richardson: Do you consider, Mr. Nelson, that the demonstration organised by the Committee in front of the Minister in June last was responsible for creating in the psychology of the Samoans and of the "Mau" the idea of making demonstrations in Apia whenever they felt inclined to do so, to show their resentment to Government authority and the Governor?—I would not like to say that.

Referring to demonstrations being made now, as far as I can ascertain, I can see no active steps taken by the Europeans on the Mau Committee to stop those demonstrations. 1 have taken steps to prevent any of what may be called the "loyal" section from making demonstrations, in order to avoid complications; and it has saved the situation on more than one occasion, but it has occurred to me that that demonstration organised by the Citizens1 Committee in June last has been to some extent responsible for the attitude of the natives and made them want to come and demonstrate in Apia. What is you answer to that?—Personally, I wish to deny that the demonstration to the Minister was organised by the White committee. The Natives wanted it themselves in order to prove the contrary of statements that had been made that the Mau only represented a paltry few.

General Richardson: We know how it was organised. I want to know whether you think that it really changed the psychology of the Samoans towards making demonstrations?—I might mention that with the exception of the two or three gatherings since I returned, and which I have definitely requested the committee to abstain from, and which I know the White committee had sent word about to the Samoans, that I had specially wired for no demonstrations or receptions to be made for me—apart from these, I have not witnessed any. If there have been demonstrations, they must have been whilst I was away; I have not seen any. I have heard that there were meetings, but I have not seen any myself, apart from the one on my return.

"Making the Position Impossible."

General Richardson: That is all. But for your information I will say that what happened two nights ago illustrates the attitude to-day. When the police try to function there is immediately trouble. Members of the Mau come along and say, "Our organisation will function in opposition to the Government," and it is making the position impossible. Only this morning there are parties coming along the coast to make a demonstration in Apia, and the origin or seat of this trouble is this Mau Committee in Apia. You have answered the question of what you will do. I will consider this matter very carefully, and let you know as soon as possible what recommendations I consider it necessary to make, if any.

Mr. Baxter: The date of the Act, Your Excellency, is the 5th August, 1927, and I submit that it is operative from that date, and that you will not consider anything that happened prior to that date?—General Richardson: I am fully aware of that.

This concluded the proceedings.