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Notes on Sir William Martin's Pamphlet Entitled the Taranaki Question

Pages 17, 18

Pages 17, 18.

"There is a remarkable difference between the two."…………

On the contrary, the Government view of the case has been perfectly consistent throughout. The Government relied, 1st, on the cession of the whole Taranaki district from the Waikato Chiefs in 1841; and 2nd, on the uniform decisions of successive Governors which entirely denied the general tribal title of the Ngatiawas to have been revived since that cession.

For the present purpose it may be conceded that "according to Maori usage the conquered tribe was held to be justified in doing their utmost to recover possession if possible of their fathers' land, and that nothing but their inability to do that made the title of the conquerors complete." But there was not the shadow of a doubt that up to the time of the establishment of British Sovereignty in 1840, it was utterly out of the question for the Ngatiawa to attempt the reconquest of their territory from the Waikato. Does Sir William Martin mean that after the establishment of our sovereignty the Ngatiawa might have made the attempt?

The cession of sovereignty to the Queen by the Treaty of Waitangi of course page breakfinally fixed the relations between any contending tribes at the point at which they stood in February, 1840. The Ngatiawa not having been able (according to Maori law of Might) to reconquer their territory from the Waikato up to 1840, and the law of Might having been abrogated by the cession of sovereignty, it follows that in 1840 any right which formerly existed in the Ngatiawa was determined, and that according to Sir W. Martin's formula there remained that "utter inability to recover possession" which made "the title of the conquerors complete." The "right or might of the conqueror or successful invader", to use Sir W. Martin's own words, had "prevailed absolutely, displacing the Tribe altogether, and sweeping away all rights of the Tribe of the Chief, and of the clansmen alike."

It was this title then, complete according to existing Maori right at the time of the Treaty, and not subject to he altered afterwards by resort to force, which Governor Hobson acquired by his purchase in 1841. The then Chief Protector of Aborigines himself negotiated the purchase: and in accordance with what was the real state of the case at the time, the deed of sale which he drew out did not purport merely to surrender a claim on the part of Waikato, it proceeded, in the terms always used in cases of absolute alienation, to sell and convey the land.

The Government might have rested from the first on this title. That Governor Fitzroy as a matter of policy suffered the Ngatiawas to bring in a claim afterwards, in no way altered or modified the completeness of the original purchase from Waikato. The same thing has been done over and over again: for instance in the case of the territory of the Rangitane tribe in the Middle Island, the land was bought from the conquerors, but afterwards payment as a matter of grace was made to the conquered Rangitane also: but no one ever pretended that the Rangitane reverted to their original rights before the conquest.