The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
At a Court I held at Maketu, certain natives disputed the liens charged by the Survey Department. The natives' statements were upon oath, while the Department was unrepresented. It appeared the natives had arranged with a private surveyor at a low rate, who performed the work; but not receiving payment immediately the private party sold his claim to the Survey Department, who raised the charges in some cases between 200 and 300 per cent., raising them from the low rates agreed for to the regular tariff charges of the Department. Upon this I communicated with Mr. Smith, the Deputy-Inspector of Surveys, under the Native Laud Act. at Auckland, and the following contemptuous reply, betraying his ignorance of the functions of a Court, was returned by Mr. Smith in his capacity as an officer of the Native Land
"June 24, 1880."
To J. A. "Wilson, Esq.,
"Judge, Native Land Court, Tauranga.
"In reply to your telegram of the 18th inst., in which you inform me that 'Maketu Court is adjourned until after the Cambridge Court rises, you will then have an opportunity to prove in person, or by deputy, or by statutory declaration, as more convenient to your Department and lefts expensive to the public, any liens you may have upon plans before the Court,' I beg to state that I find that this communication is not in consequence of any orders given you by the Chief Judge, and that, therefore, I do not feel called upon to depart from the usual practice with respect to liens that the Government hold over plans before the Court.
S. Percy Smith, "Dep.-Insp. Surveys."
By the Act, it was the duty of the Court to inquire into disputes of this nature. Mr. Smith knew this perfectly, but he screens himself behind the Chief Judge, whose authority, the law notwithstanding, is used to defeat all attempts of the Court to sift his money claim in the manner which seemed best.