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Huihuinga o nga rangatira Maori.

Meeting of New Zealand Chiefs

[ko te tohutoro i roto i te reo Māori]

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Meeting of New Zealand Chiefs

(From the Auckland Evening Star of 29th March corrected and ammended)

Held at Orakei, near Auckland, at which the following tribes were represented:— Ngatiwhatua, Ngapuhi, Ngatitamatera, [unclear: Ngatipaoa,] Ngatimahuta, Ngatitahinga, Ngatimaniapoto, Ngatiawa, Whanganui, Te Arawa, Te Rarawa, Te Aopouri, Whakatohea, Ngatiraukawa, Ngatikahungunu, Ngatimaru, Taranaki, Ngatirangiwewehi, Ngaiterangi, and Ngatiporou. Such an assemblage of distinguished chiefs has never before been gathered in this locality.

Shortly after two p.m. on Thursday, the 28th March, 1889, the Maori meeting for the consideration of legislation affecting the natives and their land was resumed at Okahu Kainga, Orakei, and addresses were delivered by Paul Tuhaere, Major Keepa (Kemp), te Rangihiwinui, Mr E. Mitchelson (Native Minister), Sir Frederick Whitaker (Attorney-General), and also by Mr J. Aitken Connell, and the Rev. Wiremu Turipona, of the Thames. The following is a short digest of Mr J. Aitken Connell's address:—

He said that he had always taken a great interest in native questions and in the question of native lands, and the more he had reflected upon these questions the more difficult it had seemed to him to arrive at a satisfactory solution. Tawhiao had lately sent them a letter, and if he (Mr Connell) was capable of interpreting that letter aright, he had come to the conclusion that Tawhiao was a very wise man. He, himself, thought that he, Mr Connell, was not a foolish man, and he had come precisely to the same conclusion as Tawhiao, which was this, that in regard to these difficult questions the natives of New Zealand ought not to be in too great haste to find a remedy, that there were many waves which threatened to overwhelm their canoe, and that their best policy was to consider the matter well, [unclear: debate] it well, and ventilate it well, and not to press for a solution too quickly. The great failing of legislation, whether it affected Europeans or whether it was in connection with native questions, was that our legislators were all legislating under pressure, and in too great a hurry, and the particular mistake which he (Mr Connell) considered had been made by all our legislation in connection [unclear: with] natives and native affairs was that we were trying to altor the native race too quickly, and the result of this was that, instead of altering and civilising them, they were only in danger of being destroyed altogether. It was one of the laws of God that human creatures could not be quickly altered. If they were to be improved, and to progress in knowledge, habits and ways of thought, it must be gradually.

It would probably interest the meeting to know that at the time when Jesus Christ came into the world, less than 1900 years ago, the islands of Great Britain and Ireland were inhabited by two races, which in many respects were very like the Maoris. These consisted of Celts and Britons. They were idolators and knew nothing about the true God. Four or five centuries after this a very warlike race called Teuton's, also very like the Maoris, came over from the continent of Europe and conquered the Britons. They were cruel and barbarous to a degree and came over in great big war canoes along the gunwales of which they hung their shields. These people used to drink "waipiro" made from honey out of the sculls of their enemies. They believed that Hell was a place where there was everlasting ice, and that Paradise consisted of a place where they would always be drinking "waipiro" out of the sculls of their enemies. The ancient inhabitants of Great Britain Used to make great idols of wickerwork, and fill them with human beings, and then burn the unhappy occupants alive, so that they were quite as bad as ever the Maoris have been, except in one point that they did not eat each other. Now, these were his (Mr Connell's) ancestors, and it had taken fourteen hundred years to make the English people what they now are out of this material. Ignorant Europeans imagined that that they could transform the Maoris into civilised men like themselves in a few years by passing a Bill. This could not possibly be. No Bills of any kind whatever could do this. It would take, in his (Mr Connell's) opinion, four and, probably six or seven, generations to bring the Maoris to a point of civilization equal to the present European inhabitantsof these islands; but the Maoris had qualities which were much finer in many respects in their uncivilised condition than the qualities possessed by his own ancestors, and if they were given proper time to develop, he should not be surprised if they developed into a race superior to the European. Native questions seemed to him to divide into two great branches. One of these branches referred to legislation and dealing with Maoris as Maoris, having in view the preservation, improvementand development of the native race. The other great branch referred to the tenure of native lands and to the laws affecting the sale and disposition of these lands. Mr Connell then went at great length into the mistakes which had been made by the Legislature in endeavouring to force European customs and habits of thought upon the Maori race, and expressed his opinion that such attempts must fail. He was himself prepared strongly to support proposals whereby all questions, including offences, affecting natives only should be dealt with by courts composed of natives only, and according to Maori ideas, but purged from the many evils and cruelties which had been rampant prior to the introduction of Christianity. He, however, expressed the opinion in very forcible language that in regard to all questions between Europeans and natives, these must absolutely bedealt with by European Courts, and according to European law alone. He disapproved altogether of mixed courts. No native was sufficiently high in intelligence and advanced in thought to be capable of [unclear: holding] the scales of, justice properly where European interests were concerned. He did not wish the European Courts accepted by the Maoris for the trial of these questions because he wished the European to get any advantage over the Maori, because this would not be the case. The Maoris might safely rely upon it, that the European Court would do them absolute justice in such cases, and he for one could never consent to his own rights being adjudicated upon by any member of the native race. As regards native lands, Mr Connell went into interesting details of the causes of the Waitara war, which had arisen from the refusal of the Government to recognise the true character of the [unclear: Maori] tenure of land. If we were to soar away on the wings of a bird into a district which had never been entered by any European, and which was inhabited by Maoris only, we would then find the operation of the true Maori land tenure. This consisted in very large areas of land—perhaps one or two million acres—being held by a great tribe, such as the Ngatimaniapoto, the Waikato or the Tuwharetoa. Parts of this great area would be considered as more particularly belonging to portions of the tribe, consisting of one or more hapus, and when we came to look at the villages and cultivations we should find that single individuals and single families were permitted by the tribe [unclear: exclusive] occupation of small portions actually cultivated. These portions in one sense might be said to belong to the individual, but not in the European sense of fee simple. The tribe still claimed the real ownership, and the individual occupying it had no right to dispose of the land without the approval of the tribe. At Waitara the Government purchased Teira's land, and when the tribe represented by its Chief, Wiremu Kingi, claimed to be consulted the Government refused to recognise the tribal right, hence the Waitara war. In his (Mr Connell's) opinion legislation on the subject of native lands will not be satisfactory and permanent until it is brought into harmony with the Maori tenure. He was not prepared to submit to any cut and dried scheme himself. He had his own ideas about that, but he proposed in the resolutions about to be submitted that a commission should be appointed to enquire carefully into the whole subject and report to the Government and draft a bill to be submitted to Parliament. This he considered was the proper course to adopt. He referred at some length to the religious beliefs of the Maoris, and stated that he believed that a great deal of ignorance existed amongst Europeans with regard to the Hauhau faith, which in many respects was identical with Christianity. The impression existed in the minds of many ignorant persons that a Hauhau was a kind of dreadful idolater, who would only be too ready to offer up human sacrifices if the law did not restrain him. This he (Mr. Connoll) thought very unjust to the Hauhaus. He did not in the very least believe this, and whilst he believed that the Hauhaua were all wrong and mistaken in many things, yet it seemed to him that it only wanted time and patience for them to learn to distinguish between the truth they had derived from our Scriptures and the errors which had crept in of late years among them (the Hauhaus). He had ascertained recently, at a meeting in the Waikato, that the Hauhaus acknowledged the authority of our Scriptures, the existence of God, the divinity of Christ, and many other matters which appeared to him to be of great importance. He felt that the true interests of the Maoris would be consulted rather in their freely mixing with Europeans, and in light being thrown in to these questions, rather than shutting themselves up in isolation, which in his opinion was bad. He thought that the Maoris had a great future before them, and there was one thing which, as a European, made him a little afraid of the Maori—that was, that the religious idea appeared to him to be more general and deeply seated in the native mind than in the European mind, and he believed that the greatest force in the world was the fear of God. Referring to the views he had been laying before the meeting, he said he was not speaking as an opponent of the Government. The present Government was one of the very best they had had for many years. He believed that there are a greater number of able men and of honest men, and of the true working men in the present Government than we have had for many years, but he felt that they had not given sufficient attention to this important question relating to the natives and had legislated in too great a hurry. As to the resolutions about to be laid before them, he would have them translated into Maori, and a copy furnished to the meeting. He hoped they would consider them well (applause), and would send them up to the other meetings to be held in the Waikato and elsewhere for an expression of opinion on them. He concluded by heartily thanking Paul and the Maoris of the settlement, on behalf of himself and other visitors, for the very hospitable and generous manner in which they had been treated that day. Mr Connell concluded his address amidst loud applause.

The Rev. Wiremu Turepona, in the name of the natives present, thanked Mr Connell for his address, and stated that they understood thoroughly all that he had said, and approved of it, and that they had never heard any person speak on Maori questions like this before. He believed Mr Connell was a true friend of the Maori race. Pene Taui, of Ohaewai, followed in the same strain.

Afterwards Mr Connell received a message from Major Kemp to meet a number of the leading chiefs in the runanga house, where Mr Connell had a private conference with about twelve of the leading chiefs, which lasted till call for the evening meal sounded.

At the request of a number of the chiefs Mr. Connell agreed to have the resolutions printed in the Maori language and a copy furnished to each.

We understand it is intended to hold other large meeting in the Waikato and elsewhere when the resolutions will be carefully considered.