The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
[4. Wellington (Porirua and Circuit)—3 days.]
4. "Wellington (Porirua and Circuit)—3 days. Do not know; he made no return. All uncertain.
"In reply to your memorandum of 11th June ultimo, on the subject of the several succession claims heard and adjudicated by you at the late sitting of the Native Land Court at "Wellington, I have now the honour to forward to you (in separate packet) the papers connected with respective claims together with drafts of orders (in duplicate) and of the recommendations for the appointment of trustees (also in duplicate) which were directed by the Court to be made in each case, according to the enclosed schedule." . . "I forward also along with the papers referred to the minute book of the proceedings of the "Wellington Court." . . .
"F. D. Fenton,
Then follows in the same letter the "Schedule of Orders and Recommendations of Appointment of Trustees forwarded to Judge "Wilson for signature and return," viz., 13 succession orders, and 2 recommendations, beginning with Pipitea No. 2, and ending with Wellington City No. 607.
Here, then, in his own letter, of 7th July, 1879, is the clearest proof that Chief Judge Fenton did know what cases page 32 I had heard at Wellington; and that he had had the minute book in his possession, shewing him what had been done at that Court. This minute book had been written by Mr Gray, one of the most experienced clerks in the Natve Land Court Office, and contained all the dates, the minutes of evidence, and the orders made. From this minute book all the orders under seal were correctly made out and sent to me for signature; and yet after this letter of the 7th July, 1879, incredible as it may seem, the Chief Judge handed to the Government a paper, which he calls a return, J. 80/2411, in which the date of the opening of Wellington Court is left blank, not even the month being given. Why? because the Court opened about 16th October, 1878. (Vide Gazette No. 90, p. 1291, 1878) and the minute book of the Court.
The insertion of this date, as I have already said, would have falsified the statement that I had held a Court at Tauranga from the 14th August to the 13th November, 92 days. To cover this omission, the Chief Judge says he has not got the information shown by his own letter.
I may as well, however, give a memorandum, shewing that I did send him the information by letter; and I may also add that he had had it at first, and from me by telegram from Wellington, in October, 1878.
23rd July, 1879.
"Please receive this mail a parcel containing the following Orders and Recommendations of appointment of Trustees, the same being duly examined and signed by myself as the presiding Judge at Wellington, when these cases were heard.
"J. A. Wilson, Judge."
Then follows the schedule of the above papers.
At Wellington I dismissed 21 cases, having no jurisdiction; dismissed for no appearance, no surveys, &c., 12 cases; succession orders, 13: total, 46 cases disposed of in 4 days, all of which work is suppressed in the return J. 80/2411.
To "Porirua and Circuit" I was never directed to go. Of this I know nothing whatever, nor how it came to be inserted, as it was, in J. 80/2411 in another handwriting and in pencil.
The words "He made no return," are meant to show that I omitted a portion of my duty, and thus to add weight to the page 33 charge. The implication is, however, as false as the rest of the document under remark. Three successive Judges presided over this "Wellington Court, of whom I was the first. It was the duty of the last presiding Judge to have the return made up at the end of the session, and I have no doubt that the return in question was made up from the books by the clerk of the Court when the business was finished, and that Judge Halse signed it.