Proceedings of of the Kohimarama Conference, Comprising Nos. 13 to 18 of the "Maori Messenger."
Proceedings of the Rohimarama Conference. — (Continued from our last.) — Monday, July 23, 1860
Proceedings of the Rohimarama Conference.
(Continued from our last.)
Monday, July 23, 1860.
Chiefs of this Conference—
The matters we have lately discussed are disposed of, and, in my opinion, we should now turn to the consideration of the Governor's Message about the definition of tribal boundaries to land. As some of you are anxious to return to your homes, I do not wish this discussion to be delayed. This is the most important subject for discussion. Other matters may be allowed to stand over for the present. You are aware that many of the disturbances amongst you have arisen out of the subject of land. There are great errors in the Maori customs regarding land. If one man attempts to lay off the boundaries of his portion, others interfere with him, and a disturbance takes piece. It is a matter that I page 2 have given careful attention to, and I find the Maori cnstom causes much dissension. The system now proposed by the Governor is a clear one; it is calculated to put an end to the interference of one man with the land of another. As many chiefs are absent, it will not be well for you to give a hurried consent to this proposition. It will be better when you return to your homes, to give the subject your careful consideration, and [unclear: arrive] at some decision upon it, for if you give a hasty consent, it may not meet the approval of your respective tribes. Some of you have found fault with the system of Land Purchase. You have said that the price paid is too low—that three pence per acre is given; but when resold by the Government a high price is charged, even two pounds. This certainly is correct, but if the land is allowed to lie waste it produces no return. When acquired by the Government, it is surveyed, and can only then be called productive land. The money received by the Government is expended in the construction of bridges and in the formation of roads, by means of which the produce of the land may with facility be conveyed to the towns for sale. I will not conceal the fact that the land is sold at a higher rate when it comes into the possession of the Government; indeed I have always frankly told you when acquiring land that snch would be the case. The reasons for its increased value are very clear and obvious. You must observe, from the much higher price of town lands as compared with country or wild lands, that it is population or improvement consequent on European settlement which really enhances the value thereof.
Moreover, you must be aware, that to enjoy land or any property a good and indisputable title is necessary. When your lands are ceded to the Crown, the Queen is enabled to dispose of them to any of her subjects, be they European or Maori, and the confidence which a good title inspires leads to the various improvements which you see in the settled districts. Were it otherwise, and that the land was merely held under a doubtful tenure, no improvements would be made, and the country would still remain in a comparatively wild and unproductive state—without a numerous people to inhabit it—without law—without Government—without security for life and property and without wealth.
Tamihana Te Rauparaha, (Ngatitoa,) Otaki: The ways of the Pakehas are not fully page 3 understood by us. I think, however, that the people should adopt this good suggestion. This will be the means of saying the Maori people. The Treaty of Waitangi also is good. The object of these is to unite the Pakeha and the Maori. Let us not say that the Ngapuhi alone are concerned in the Treaty of Waitangi. The plans of the Pakeha are clear; let us adopt them, that the men of Waikato may hear that we have adopted a portion of the Pakeha's plans. Let us return to our homes, and then let each (chief) talk with his tribe on the subject of the land, that there may be one common system. The only thing that retards (the progress of) the Maori is the difficulty about the land. The elder brother puts no faith in the younger brother. Let us devise measures to meet this difficulty. Let the heart be humbled, and let us adopt the Pakeha system. Let us work with energy, and let us carry out good regulations. Let not our elder brother, the Pakeha, suppose that we are consuming money. No; the money belongs to both (Pakeha and Maori), For this reason, I think that we should share with the Pakeha in the Government. Therefore, I say, let this Conference be made permanent. When we die, our children can carry out these principles. The mention also of schools for Native children is right. On this account my heart is light; now, perhaps, the Maories will embrace the Pakeha system. I will speak now upon the subject of the subdivision of the land. It is said of Crown Grants that they would probably be only a waste of money. I think the cost won't be very great. I now wish to know what arrangement can be made. It will be, however, for the Governor to find Pakehas and Maories to take charge of those lands (the Native Reserves), This will satisfy me. Although we rise but one step in the Pakeha system, it is well. We were in darkness when the Gospel came, but now it is light. If I am wrong, correct me. I say, therefore, that our Pakeha brethren are raising us, for the Maori Chiefs are made Assessors and administrators. I shall now speak of the land. There are many disputes at the present time about the boundaries of land. Supposing one of you and your neighbours dispute about a boundary line. and you bring the matter to be investigated by this Conference, if you were proved to be right the one who was wrong would be ejected. I say, therefore, that i understand this principle. Let this Conference be the means of adjusting these difficulties.page 4
Matene Te Whiwhi, (Ngatitoa,) Otaki: We have nothing. to say, nor anything different to bring forward. Although the men are dead who agreed to the treaty of Waitangi, the words of the Maori are kept. Only now, after the expiration of twenty years, has the question of union been mooted, and we are offered all the advantages thereof. Now, for the first time, the question has been opened. This pleases me. I am glad because of this Conference. Let our Work be carried on every year, Let the Governor, on each succeeding year, invite us to a Conference. Do not let us look at the faults of the Governor. All I desire is that (the races) be cemented. There has been a free expression of opinion. I will not say that I will decide the question (of an annual Conference); rather let each chief give utterance to his thoughts.
Winiata Pekamu Tohi Te Ururangi, (Ngatiwhakaue.) Maketu: Chiefs of this Conference, what Mr. McLeau has said is correct, namely that each chief should return to his home, and there consider the subdivision of the land. There is only one other subject now for us to speak on. and that is the union (of races). As to the land, say nothing more on that subject. The land is the source of all the troubles of this Island. When we return to our homes, let each man define (the boundaries of) his land, and we shall thus avoid difficulties (death). I will define my own land. Let us have one Lord, and then our opinions will agree. Let us have but one Queen, and one Governor. You have said, Return to your homes and consider this matter (the subdivision of land); that is correct. The Governor and the Governor alone shall be my head (or chief) Let me (the Maori) enter the Pakeha Council, that my word may be right, because the opinions of the Pakeha Council are conflicting. Secure an entrance for me that we may all consult together.
Tukihaumene, (Ngatiwhakane,) Rotorua: I shall not be desultory. (I have only one subject.) Only the Queen—only the Governor. I have uttered my words, and they have been suppressed. What have we to do with the troubles about land? Let these matters be carefully considered, lest other words be introduced.
Paora Tuhaere, (Ngatiwhatua, Orakei): This is my speech to you—a word respecting the Treaty of Waitangi. the covenant now spoken of. The union of the two races commenced with it. By it the sovereignty of these Islands was ceded to the Queen. The regulations respecting the sale of land commenced page 5 then, but I was not aware that at that time the price for the land was fixed at three pence, and sixpence, an acre. Now, Mr. McLean, mine is a land-selling tribe. I have been selling land for the last twenty years, but you will not remember any year in which a dispute arose. No piece of land. has been paid for twice over. We are not in that practice. Our plan is this: when a block of land is offered for sale, we hold a committee, and when all who are interested in that land have consented to the sale, it is then sold to you, but when a person having no claim interferes with our land then a dispute arises, and ultimately it is adjusted. This is another matter. The Governor proposes subdividing the land. It is right that the land should be apportioned amongst the owners thereof. I should not, however, consent to share my land with those who have no claim to it, but if a man has no land let him buy himself a piece from me. The Governor's advice that disputed lands should I be settled by a committee is good. That just agrees with what I proposed in my speech the other day, namely, that after the land has been surveyed, notice should be given in the newspapers, with the view of ascertaining whether it be right or wrong. Should a difficulty arise, let it be referred to a disinterested tribe. Should it appear that the land belonged to me. then it would be awarded to me; but, should it prove to belong to some man of inferior rank, then it would be given to him.
Metekingi, (Ngapoutama,) Whanganui: This Conference has now been sitting two weeks and part of a third. Perhaps, while detaining us here, you have no idea when this Conference may be closed. Do not be grieved, O! Governor, on account of my ignorance on this subject introduced by you. My ancestors were ignorant, and I inherit their ignorance; your ancestors were wise, and you inherit their wisdom. You have measured the extent of the heavens and you have ascertained the depth of the ocean. These are proofs of your wisdom. Do not expect me to become wise very rapidly. I shall not learn very quickly, because I was not taught when I was young. Both of you (the Governor and Mr. McLean) suppose that this Conference does not understand your propositions. Let your next thoughts be (to hold a Conference) at Whanganui.
Tamihana Ruatapu, (Ngatikahungunu,) Taranga: I am still enquiring. The majority (of the chiefs) who should consider these subjects have remained at their kaingas. The Rev. Mr. Baker and his sons have seen page 6 that we are a numerous tribe. In the first place, Missionaries came to our kaingas, and we listened attentively to the precepts of Christianity. They preached repentance, and we came to understand good and evil. The person who was in a hurry to be baptized soon fell into evil; had he left it until his professions had become matured he would have been firmly established. For this reason, I am of opinion that these subjects should be submitted to the majority of the chiefs. We have been selected by the Governor for this Conference. This is the first time I have taken part in a meeting called by the Governor and Mr. McLean, and therefore I have nothing to say.
Te Irimana, (Ngatiporou,) Tauranga: I am of the same opinion (as the last speaker.) I am about to tell you a tale. (Once upon a time) there were many chiefs who loved war. But there were two chiefs, named (respectively) Tapui and Kaiaia, who were peacefully disposed, and endeavoured to preserve human life. A man went into the presence of Tapui and said, "Tell us a tale of bravery." Tapui seized a (native) spade and spoke thus: "Listen, children! There are many weapons that may be warded off, but there is one weapon that cannot be warded off. Pierce the soil with it, and it produces one thousand baskets (of food) in one season. Pierce the land again, and it brings forth two thousand baskets. My advice is this, cultivate food for the support of your bodies. Live in peace, lest you be destroyed." The missionaries came, bringing the gospel. They admonished us to abandon sin, that the soul might be saved, and that our sojourn on earth might be pleasant. While they preached, we embraced (religion). One thousand were baptized. Others embraced it; two thousand became communicants; again, two thousand were confirmed. We were all subdued by their weapons. The road was then open to us. We sent our children to the schools, and some of our people were admitted into the ministry. I compare the ministers to Kaiaia, and the Governor to Tapui. A wise man may comprehend all the words of the Governor. I will not say that I will enter on the Queen's side. When I see my way I may do so.
Hapurona Tohikura, (Ngatiapa,) Rangitikei:—I did not know the other Governors. But, Mr. McLean, when you became connected with Governor Grey then my knowledge commenced. My heart embraced the he laws of the Pakeha. I then consented page 7 to the selling of land to the survey of land, and to the erection of bridges. Now we shall carry out the propositions of the Governor. The law put an end to our evils. As a proof of this, we are now assembled at Kohimarama, and are conferring together on these suggestions about the land. I agree to the proposal that each, chief of the Conference should discuss this subject when he returns to his people. Both of you (the Governor and Mr. McLean) are expounders of the (Pakeha) system. Continue to educate us. (Mr. McLean,) Entreat the Governor to continue this system of education (the Conference). Let the next Conference be held at Whanganui. Let it be convened some time after Christmas.
Hori Whetuki, Maraetai:—-Wherefore this proposition about (the subdivision of) our land? Look you! I am convinced that if the land be subdivided, the chiefs will have it, and I, a man of inferior rank, will be left without. Men of great influence will say, "The whole of the land is mine," and will cling to it. How was it that we were not instructed in this matter under the first, second, or third Governor? We may succeed in doing it in twenty years, or we may not. Some of you have said that the soil is the sole cause of our troubles in various parts (of the country). I say that there are other causes. Do not say that soil is the only cause. If you consent to this plan (the subdivision) then you will say to us of low standing, Away with you. You will direct your attention to the lofty hills; you will not think of us, nor will you remember the claims of the widow and the orphan. Now that you have commenced this school (the Conference), continue it.
Te Keene (Ngatiwahatua), Orakei:—Friends, heaken all of you! All that the chiefs of this Conference understand is the acknowledgment of the Queen and the Governor. Friends, our words have been discursive. We have not kept strictly to the two Messages from the Governor. In my opinion, we have not answered these Messages. First, the Gevernor came and delivered this address (which I hold in my hand). Afterwards we expressed a wish that peace should be established between the Governor and Wirenu Te Rangitake. This request emanated from us. (In answer to this) the Governor has sent down the maps and papers relating to Taranaki, which now lie before us; therefore, I say, page 8 our words are rambling about. We have not yet considered the (former) Messages, when another comes down to us. I am enquiring about these three papers, which have not yet been considered by us. But for Katipa's arrival we should have discussed (the Taranaki question) on Friday last. I proposed entering into that question and disposing of it, but you have taken another course. Meeting adjourned to 24th instant.