The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
[8. Galatea, December 3, 1879]
8. Galatea, December 3, 1879. "Did not attend."
I was presiding at Tauranga hearing Rangiuru case, and unable to preside in two concurrent Courts, situated 85 miles apart. In reply to this charge the Chief Judge knowingly required me to perform an impossibility, and then reported me to the Minister because I could not accomplish it. See my reply by wire to Chief Clerk, 12th November, 1879:—
"This Court will not be over by the 26th. It will be a very long Court I fear.
"J. A. Wilson, Judge."
See also my telegram to Native Minister, November 30, 1879, in reply to his wire: "It has been reported you have declined to hold a Court at Galatea."
Moreover, I received the following:—
"Native Land Court Office," Auckland,
14th November, 1879.
I have the honour to forward for your information copy of a letter received by me from Hon. Native Minister as to authority being given to supply those natives with food who have come a long distance to attend the Tauranga Court, for the adjudication of their claims to land situated in another district.
"I have, &c.,
"F. D. Fenton,
" Chief Judge.
"To J. A. Wilson, Esq., Judge, N. L. Court, Tauranga."
On the 28th of the same month, I was ordered to go to Galatea to open a Court on 3rd December. To do this I should have had to close the Tauranga Court on the 29th November, the day I received the letter of the 28th.
I could not take the responsibility of sending many natives back who had "come a long distance" from their homes, relying in good faith upon the Court performing the part professed in the proclamation convening it. At that time I was page 37 in the middle of the Rangiuru case, which involved many thousands of pounds worth of property, lasted several weeks and brought many scores of claimants and witnesses together, by whom I should have been justly considered little less than insane had I notified at noon on the 29th that the Court would rise that day, as I had to go to Galatea the next morning. Such a course was not reasonable, and as the responsibility rested with myself as the presiding Judge, and not with the Chief Judge, who had no power to close a Court other than such as might be presided over by himself, I acted in the way that seemed the best, and that was within my own functions. Here I may add, that Judge Symonds, who, at that time, was at Rotorua without a Court, and half the distance from Galatea that Tauranga is, might have been sent. He had just returned with his staff from an unsuccessful attempt to hold a Court at Taupo. (The fault was not with Judge Symonds, but with the Chief Judge in sending him to Taupo, when it was known before hand that a Court could not be held). Judge Symonds was permitted to return with his staff to Tauranga, and then was ordered back to Galatea. He did not go there, but stopped short at Te Teko, having heard that Galatea was without necessary food and accommodation. At Te Teko no case was heard, the natives refusing to have their lands adjudicated upon. Thus valuable time, and travelling expenses, amounting to upwards of £200, and salaries to an equal amount, were thrown away by faulty administration. However, it forms no part of my plan to multiply cases of this kind, but this one is mentioned as it comes within the sphere of bungling connected with the Courts named in J. 80/2111, now under consideration.