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The Administrators "Charges."

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.