Notes of Meetings Between His Excellency the Governor (Lord Ranfurly), The Rt. Hon. R. J. Seddon, Premier and Native Minister, and the Hon. James Carroll, Member of the Executive Council Representing the Native Race, and the Native Chiefs and People at Each Place, Assembled in Respect of the Proposed Native Land Legislation and Native Affairs Generally, During 1898 and 1899.
Meeting between the Premier and Chiefs of the Ngatimaniapoto Tribe at Otorohanga, 8th April, 1898
Meeting between the Premier and Chiefs of the Ngatimaniapoto Tribe at Otorohanga, 8th April, 1898.
Patupatu: Come hither, friend of all the people of this Island—from the north and south, the east and west. Now, with regard to the Ngatimaniapotos, probably they are included amongst your friends. Welcome hither, notwithstanding the fact that the Ngatimaniapotos did not send you a formal invitation. Nevertheless, your coming here is very good, and probably a friendship may yet arise between us on account of the meeting here to-day. Now, our position here is this: the Ngatimaniapoto have many grievances, therefore they wish to see you. Come hither, you who are a friend of our departed chief Wahanui; these are the people whom your friend Wahanui left behind him when death took him away. Probably you have come here to greet the young people whom our departed chief has left behind him. This ends my greeting.
Pete: I greet you, the stranger. Come hither the chief of the Islands; come and visit the chiefs of my tribe, the Ngatimaniapotos. Salutations to you ! Salutations to you ! I greet you, and the memory of my elders the chiefs who have departed—the chiefs who, alas ! are not here to welcome you. Wahanui has gone, and Manga, and also Hauauru. I wish you long life and happiness, and pray God to preserve you. I thank you for coming here to see us, the people of your friends who have departed; you are the friend of the Ngatiawa, Ngatiraukawa, and other tribes. Come and see my people, who suffer from many grievances. We trust you will give us relief, and live long, and try to remove the troubles from this land. Welcome.
Tahuna: We greet you who are the friend of our old departed chiefs; we regret very much that these old men are not here to-day to greet you. We feel very grateful to you for the many kindnesses which you have shown to all our old men. All the old men of the Ngatimaniapotos have passed away; none remain excepting those two or three who are before you now. We remember the kindnesses that you showed to Wahanui and to our elders who are gone. All these old friends of yours have passed away: we alone are left. We rejoice very greatly on account of your visit to us this day. To-day love will meet love, and truth will meet truth; righteousness and peace have met together, and truth and love have kissed each other. Salutations to you who have travelled far and wide over our lands; you have seen all the people, your have been to Waikato and seen the great chiefs of that part. You have heard their words, and they have heard what you had to say in reply. This is the Ngatimaniapoto Tribe; these are the people whom you have come here to see, notwithstanding that you did not wait for an invitation from us. Notwith standing this, we will welcome you all the same. Now I will place before you the views of my people, and inform you of their desires. The Ngatimaniapotos have already placed their views before Parliament, but they have waited in vain for a reply. Come hither, we welcome you under the shining sun. Had the present time been like the past, when there were wars and troubles, we would not have seen you here—the sun would not have shone for us as it has done to-day. But this is a new era; your coming here to-day is a proof of the peace and goodwill which now exist between the two races in this land. I now ask you, sir, why you came here to see us people, the Ngatimaniapotos. Tell us the reason for your coming. It is hardly necessary for me to make this request, for we know you will keep back nothing from us, or hide the object of your visit. I wish you long life.
Te Aronga Tuataka greeted the Premier with a song of welcome.
Hari Whanonga: I bid you, sir, the Premier of New Zealand, a hearty welcome. I bid you a welcome as the representative of our gracious lady Queen Victoria. I welcome you all the more, page 19coming as you do from England, where you have recently been to see our Queen, and have had the privilege of listening to her words. I would also like to greet our Governor, the man who is placed in authority over this Island. The Ngatimaniapotos sent their petition to Parliament last year, in which is contained all their desires. One request was that the Government should remove the restrictions from all these lands. They asked for the removal of the restrictions against leasing of all the lands which are called Rohepotae. That is the great desire of the Ngatimaniapotos; that is a most important matter in their minds. There are many other matters upon which we would like to speak, but John Ormsby will speak for us. There are many grievances under which we labour which have been caused by the last Parliament. This is the second time that you have come to see us. On the occasion of the last visit the Ngatimaniapotos preferred a request to you, but the promise you made here to us then has not been fulfilled by Parliament. Three times the Ngatimaniapotos have preferred this request, but you have made no response to us, therefore I think this is all the more reason why you should tell us now what you propose to do. Do not leave us in doubt year after year; do not leave us to constantly make requests to which no replies are forth-coming. There are many others who have to speak, so I will not detain you further. I wish you long life.
John Ormsby: I stand up on this occasion because my name was mentioned. I must confess that I am not prepared to speak, because you have taken us by surprise, coming here as you have done to-day without some warning. It is not as though there were no subjects to discuss; there are many matters to talk about, but we would prefer that you should state your views to us. If you have no important statement to make to us, and have come here simply to ascertain our views, then we will have a great deal to say; but, rather than that there should be any delay in getting to the discussion of more important matters. I will proceed at once. After you have replied to us it may be necessary for us to say something further. The first matter that I wish to speak to you about is with reference to what Hari Whanonga has already mentioned. The most grievous burdens that rest upon us are the restrictions of land within Rohepotae. Ever since the imposition of these restrictions in 1883 we have strenuously urged their removal—that is, we have urged their removal from off the lands the titles to which have been ascertained. Now, we made no objections to these restrictions remaining in force affecting lands to which titles have not been ascertained. The Government insists upon the pre-emptive right, and will not grant us permission to sell to other people; but we desire to have authority to lease our lands to Europeans other than the Government, so that the owners of the land shall derive some benefit from them, and the colony in general will participate in these benefits. We laid these matters before you, sir, on the occasion of your last coming here. Now, on account of these difficulties, the Natives ask that some means should be adopted by which arrangements could be come to between the Natives and the Government with regard to the prices of the land. The Native Land Purchase Act of 1893 provides for the machinery by which some use shall be made of the land. Seeing the trouble the Government went to to pass that law, we did hope and believe that lasting good would result from it, especially seeing the large amount of interest the Government took in it, and we naturally thought that that law would be brought into force throughout New Zealand. Now, I say with sorrow, in the face of this assembly, that I bitterly regret that that law was never brought into operation, nor has any experiment ever been made with it. The Government have, no doubt, their reasons for not bringing that Act into operation, but nevertheless the Maoris regret very much that an attempt was not made to carry it out. Now, seeing that the Government closed all avenues for the Natives, that they would not bring this law into operation. they would not allow the Maoris to lease this land, therefore the Natives could take no steps whatever to improve their condition, and they were forced in consequence to sell to the Government; therefore we complain that these burdens have been placed upon us, and in the hope of obtaining relief we petitioned Parliament last year. I will state shortly the various points of that petition. First, we asked for the removal of the restrictions over land where the ownership had been clearly defined and the shares ascertained. We asked that we should be empowered to lease or sell our surplus land to whoever we thought fit, whether the land was held individually or jointly. These are the most important matters, and we embodied them in the petition I have referred to. You, sir, are probably aware that the parliamentary Committee to whom this petition was referred made a favourable report. I saw you personally on the matter, and I thought the reply you made was reasonable. You said the Government had not time to deal with it, and I admitted that that was a reasonable excuse. Now, seeing you have come here to-day, we take the same opportunity of putting the matter before you again. It is an opportune occasion for renewing our request, and we consider there is ample time for the Government to consider the matter before the next meeting of Parliament, and to give effect to our wishes. Now, with regard to these restrictions I have to say two or three words. As to the restrictions which the Government says have been imposed for the benefit of the Natives, and to prevent them from denuding themselves of the land, my answer is this: Let us take the people here assembled; many of these people are absolutely without land; the reason for their becoming landless is because they would not listen to the advice of the Europeans who said, "Don't sell all your land recklessly, but rather retain the lands for your sustenance." But, page 20seeing that the effect of these restrictions has been that the Natives have sold their lands, we naturally ask, what proof can there be in that statement that these restrictions were made for our own good and to preserve our lands? Now, I am simply placing this matter before you from the Maori point of view. Probably you can give another explanation with regard to the imposition of these restrictions. It will probably be asked, Whose fault was it that the Natives sold their lands? Now, in answer to that I will say that there are many people who are foolish and improvident, but there are very many temptations to which the Natives are exposed, and which urge them on to sell their lands. However, it is not meet that I should enumerate all these temptations; but seeing that we are debarred from leasing our lands, and that we are industrious and grow food, we can get only a small price for it. The result is that the people sell their lands. If they do sell their lands, they should retain a sufficient portion to live on. It is true that a great many Natives of New Zealand are urging that the sale of land shall be stopped; but I say that if the sale of land is to be absolutely stopped a mistake would also be made—that is going to the other extreme. It is not necessary for me to delay you for any great length of time, because we petitioned on this very matter in 1883. We have sent in a further petition in 1895, and the last petition was sent in 1897. They are all to the same effect; and this is all I have to say to you for the present. I should like to say this with regard to your Government and our attitude towards it: When the late Mr. Ballance was Native Minister the Ngatimaniapotos supported his Government, and looked to the Government with hope; but if this Government will do nothing for them, what encouragement is it for them to support it? There will be ample time for the Government to consider this matter before Parliament meets, and I do trust that the Government will remember that for the last fifteen years these people that support the Government have been praying for relief. I do trust that you, sir, and your Government will afford them some relief.
Whitanui: I welcome you, sir; I greet you. I thank you for coming here with your friends to see us. I am very grateful to you for coming to us, the Ngatimaniapotos, on this occasion. Now, seeing that you did not come here in response to a formal invitation from us, it is not necessary for us to say much. Now, I consider that you are well acquainted with the desires of the Ngatimaniapotos, and I hope that this visit of yours will result in the Ngatimaniapotos receiving that relief for which they have so long waited. We, the Ngatimaniapotos, are suffering from many grievances, and the words that have been spoken to you are not new. This is not the first time they have been placed before you. Now, we have heard the kindly words you have uttered towards the Natives at every meeting you have held with them. You have stated that it was the wish of the Government that evil should not come to the Native people, but rather that prosperity should be theirs. These are the very sentiments you expressed to me when I met you in Wellington some time ago, and we are encouraged to hope that your coming here on this occasion will result in our getting that relief and happiness which we have so long wished to obtain. I pray that you will have long life and happiness. We now wait patiently for you to tell us the object of your coming here. Have you come to add to our sufferings and destroy us entirely? or, rather, have you come to bring us prosperity? Which of these courses do you intend to follow? We will be guided by what you tell us in your speech. I pray God to take you into his keeping, and give you long life.
The Meeting between the Premier, the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, and the Maori "King" Mahuta, with the Chiefs of the Waikato Tribe, at Waahi, Huntly, 4th April, 1898.
An Interested Group. After The Speeches.
He Ropu Tangata E Korerorero Ana. I Muri Iho I Nga Whai-Korero.
The Meeting between the Premier, the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon and the Maori "King" Mahuta, with the Chiefs of the Waikato Tribe, at Waahi, Huntly, 4th April, 1898.
The Premier and Party Returning From Waahi On Board the War-Canoe "Tawheritikitiki"
Te Hokinga O te Pirimia Me Ona Hoa I Runga I Te Waka-Taua "Tawheritikitiki"
The Ngatimaniapotos being the owners of a large area of Native land, the matters I have mentioned to-day particularly affect them. There has been some little confusion in respect to my coming here. Being Good Friday, it was thought that I should not be able to get the necessary arrangements made for doing so, as I was at Hamilton last night, and as I have to be at Te Aroha to-night; and what made matters more confused was that a gentleman in Auckland who had been to Otorohanga said that the Natives had all left. Notwithstanding this, I said, "I will be firm in my determination; I will go and see the Ngatimaniapotos." I am sorry, however, you were not informed properly. You have mentioned here to-day that an objection from the Ngatimaniapotos has been sent to Parliament; this I will deal with lather on. You have said that the time is now opportune for this visit, that there are no dark clouds overhanging you, and that the sun shines upon the Natives as well as upon the Europeans. The opportunity, therefore, being favourable, it is only right that I should come and discuss matters of importance with you, in the hope that the result may be favourable to both races. You have mentioned also in the addresses to-day that since I saw you last I had visited the Mother-country, and had spoken to our beloved Sovereign, Queen Victoria. Her words to you, sent through me, are the words of a mother to her children; they are words of love and affection, and of kindly interest in your material welfare. The petition of the Native people of this colony was received by her; in that petition it was asked that the Queen would cause such laws to be passed as to prevent the sale of land by the Natives, and it was pointed out that unless this was done the Native race would, in time, be exterminated. Now, I would ask, which is right-the petition sent to the Queen, asking her to use her authority to stop the sale of lands, or what you say here to-day, asking for the removal of the restrictions, and asking for free trade in your lands? Which of the two is correct? If you differ from the petitions that was sent to the Queen, you have the same right to petition her as those who have asked that the sale of Native lands be stopped. Under our Constitution Her Majesty, of course, refers such petitions to her Ministers to be dealt with. His Excellency the Governor is the direct representative of the Queen in the colony, and he is guided by the advice tendered by his Ministers, of whom I am the head. The Governor will only be too pleased to meet those of the Native race in the different parts of the colony during the time he is here as Governor. A wish was expressed by the Waikatos that they would like to see him, shortly after his arrival in the colony, to express to him their loyalty to the Throne, and their respect for him personally, and also as the representative of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen. I feel sure that if the chiefs of those Ngatimaniapotos would like to see the Governor, and if time permits, he would only be too glade to give you an opportunity of meeting him and of expressing to him personally your devotion to the Throne, and also to welcome him as the representative of the Queen in this colony, just the same as the Europeans did. He takes a deep interest in the Native race-I give you that assurance, knowing his mind as I do—and I look forward to the time—and that at no distant date—when the Ngatimaniapotos will see the new Governor. I will now briefly refer to the business that I know you feel should be discussed. Let me, first of all, refer to the question of the petition which was presented to Parliament. Let me refer to what took place when I was here before. Words were used to-day to this effect: that the promise then made by me had not been fulfilled. Now, I am one that is blessed with a wonderfully good memory, but in case my memory, as time goes on, might become impaired, I had everything which was then said taken down, and it is on record. What I then said, and what I say to-day, is subject to the will of page 22Parliament, and Parliament is superior to the Native Minister—Parliament is the supreme authority for both races, and for all matters in this colony. What you then asked to be done, and what I then stated I would endeavour to do, has been performed. When I spoke to you then there was no law under which those holding Native lands could hand them over to the Native Land Board to be leased, nor is there now. There were no committees to which they could hand the land to be dealt with. That was the law: that is the law to-day. Parliament has amended the law with respect to Native Land Courts, and in respect to Native lands, since I spoke to the Ngatimaniapoto on the last occasion. You have asked that you should have a right to free trade in Native land that is to say, all restrictions should be removed, and that you should sell or lease at your own sweet will. You have asked that you should have this right to sell to Europeans, and that there should be no control or restrictions, and then you have said that whilst there is only power to sell to the Government, those who were owners of the land have sold all they had to the Government, and now they have no land at all. Well, I tell you this: if you had free trade to-day in your lands, for every one that is now landless there would before long, be fifty. In my opinion, it would only be a question of time before nearly every one of you would become landless, because the Europeans would never stop until they got all your land. There might be a few Natives who would withstand the pressure, but they would only be a few. As Mr. Ormsby has said, there are weak and foolish people amongst the Natives; there are those who are not strong enough to resist temptation, and you must have the power to prevent them. The land belongs as much to your children as it does to yourselves. The Government does not want all the Native land; that statement is a great reflection upon the Native land purchase officers of this colony. When you were selling to Europeans in past years the court had to say that there was sufficient land left for the Natives who wanted to sell the land, and that has been the general principle on which the Government officers and the Government have gone [unclear: is] buying land. We do not wish to buy all the land from the Natives so as to leave them landless but at times the Natives deceive the land-purchase officers by telling them that they had plenty of land to live upon. Mr. Ormsby has said that all you care about is two allow the restrictions to be retained upon land that has not gone through the Court, but to remove the restrictions from all the land that has passed through the Court; but what does that amount to? Does Mr. Ormsby known that there are only about 5,000 acres of land in the Rohepotae that have not gone through the Land Court? It is therefore useless to consider that, because it would have no effect. Now we come to the question of restrictions. Who do you think it was that recommended restrictions being put upon the Native lands? This question I will answer later on. Do you, the Natives of the Ngatimaniapoto Tribe, believe in the Treaty of Waitangi? Have you not claimed that that treaty ought to be maintained? Who made that treaty? It was made by your forefathers, made by the great rangatiras of the past, those who have been since called away to their forefathers. It was they who ceded on behalf of the Native people the sovereignty of the Natives to the British Government, to your Queen Victoria, and it was your forefathers who recommended restrictions being placed on Native lands. It was they who said that no one should deal in Native lands except the Government; that the disposal of all Native lands should be through the Government. I say that your forefathers were wise men. They foresaw, years ago, that if there was no restriction, and if the people were allowed to dispose of the lands as they liked, the day would come when the Natives would become landless, and a burden upon the community. They knew that quarrels would arise as between the Natives and the Europeans if the Europeans were to be allowed to have free trade in obtaining Native lands. Quarrels did arise, The principal cause of that sad disaster that overtook this colony—namely, the quarrel between the two races—was caused by Europeans dabbling in Native lands, and Natives having the right of trading the land away. Remember that you are, to-day, only a remnant of a noble and once numerous people. Why are your numbers so small now? It is owing to the vices that have been introduced; it is owing to the free trade in land that the Natives are so few to-day. There are many Natives who are able and competent to transact their own business just as well as Europeans, but the vast majority are as children, and would be easily imposed upon by the Europeans; they would act foolishly and weakly, and their lands would go from them if they were not protected against themselves. The question naturally arises, Are we to sacrifice the majority simply to please the minority, or can we not devise some means by which those capable of managing their own affairs, and of dealing with their own lands, may have the right to do so, leaving those who are weak to be protected by the State? I think this can be done, and that is way I am here to-day, to talk it over with you, and see whether we cannot arrive at some satisfactory arrangement. We give the Native landowners the power of saying whether or not they accept the new proposals, and surely that is fair. Now, when whether or not they accept the new proposals, and surely that is fair. Now, when the petition was presented, the Government were very busy during the session. After it had been before the Committee I asked for time to consider it. We have now given it the fullest consideration, and I will put before you the conclusions we have arrived at. I admit that the Government in late years has purchased more land than previous Governments did, but we have doubled, and in some cases trebled, the prices paid by previous Governments. The largest amount paid by page 23previous Governments for land in the King-country was 3s. 6d. per acre; in most cases we have doubled that. Now, we do not intend to force our proposals upon you. You can accept them or reject them. If you think it is for your good that you are adopting them, then do so; but if you think otherwise, then we can remain as we are. We could even go further; we could say that we do not want our Native Land Purchase Office any more, and Parliament could say, "Keep your land"; or Parliament may say," We will allow the existing law to remain. You can have as much time as you like, and the purchase of Native lands will go on." That is what might happen. Under the existing laws those Natives who are keeping on dealing with their lands can, under section 117 of the Native Land Act, apply to have the restrictions removed. Now, if our new proposals are carried the days of the Native Land Court are numbered. The title for all land except some 500,000 or so acres has been ascertained, and in the King-country itself there is only an area of some 5,000 acres to go through the Court. Of course, I know that the pakeha-Maori, the man who has fattened and lived upon the land of the Natives, will not like the proposals. Now I will go through the proposals carefully, so that you will understand them, and after I have done so I will hand to each of you a printed copy in the Maori language giving the particulars.
The Premier, having read a précis of the Bill, said,—I do not expect you will give me an answer to-day whether you are favourable to these proposals or not, for they are too far-reaching for you to suddenly give me and answer upon. I caution you not to listen to the pakeha—Maori, and to the Native-land agents; they have counselled you before for your destruction. You know as well as I do that between the lawyers and the agents most of your lands have been swallowed up. I tell you now that it is for your aged men, your men of experience—it is for those who, like myself, have European blood in their veins—to assist and aid you. I tell you that I believe these proposals are the most advanced and fairest ever offered to the Native race. There is a large number of land agents who for years have been living upon the Native lands; they have attended these Native Land Courts, and they too have been the means of swallowing up the lands of the Natives and spreading evils amongst your race wherever they have been gathered together. If you adopt the proposals this means the beginning of the end of the Native Land Courts, because for partition and succession purposes, and defining the relative ownership, the proposed Council will take the place of the Native Land Courts. I am not sure whether Parliament will go as far as we propose in this Bill. You see we are going to ask Parliament to give us £5,000 per annum for each Board for roading a district. If there are six Boards the amount would come to £30,000 a year for surveying, making improvements, and making roads. Then, we propose to give £5,000 to each Board for the purpose of paying off mortgages and survey liens, and also paying off the debts of Native owners; that will be another £30,000—or, taken together, £60,000 a year will be required. In conclusion, let me express to you my appreciation of the intelligent manner in which you have listened to these proposals. When important proposals are about to be submitted to Parliament they are always placed before the Europeans; and I have to-day treated you as if you were Europeans, for I have placed the proposals before you for consideration. After you have had full time to consider them, then you will be so good as to let me know, through your chiefs, whether or not you favour them, and whether you want amendments; if so, let me know what amendments you desire, and give the reasons for them. I am sorry to say that I must leave you almost immediately, but I hope that we shall again have the pleasure of meeting, and that the friendly relationship existing between us shall continue. I earnestly hope and trust that every blessing intended by our Creator for His people may be extended to you, and that you may live and enjoy every prosperity and happiness. Salutations!
John Ormsby: I would like you to bear with me for a minute or two, so that I might speak two or three words. I desire to make your mind clear before you go away. With you, we much regret that your time is so short, because had it been longer probably more definite conclusions could have been arrived at. With regard to clause 2 in that petition, as to removing restrictions, it only applies to the surplus land after full reserves have been made for the sustenance of the Natives. I cordially agree with much that you have said, but owing to the want of time I cannot express my views. As to your kind advice to us not to pay any attention to what the Native agents say, I hope you did not include me amongst them.
The Premier: No; I spoke to you as a chief.
John Ormsby: Lest you should look upon me as one of those professional agents, I desire to say that I had a license for only six months, therefore I feel confident you are not making a personal allusion to me.
The Premier: No one's mind is clearer on Native questions than your's, and I know it thoroughly, and I know that you act in the interests of the Native race. I wish there were more like you. We would then have no trouble in dealing with the Native race or their lands.
Patupatu: There is much in this Bill which I consider good, but I am not satisfied with some of the details. It may be that the feet are a little shaky. Speaking on behalf of my own hapu, we had 200,000 acres of land, but only 40,000 acres now remain. I ask that you will stop further sales of our lands. If you do not do so now, by the time this Bill is adopted we will have no land to bring under it.
The meeting then ended.