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

Page 25

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Page 25.

"Was the principle thus enunciated."…………

The assumption that the Governor's declaration, that "he would not permit "anyone to interfere in the sale of land unless he owned part of it," was directed against the right of Chiefs and Tribes, is altogether erroneous. The words cannot be twisted into such a meaning; on the contrary, all owners, whether as Chiefs, Tribes, or individuals, are recognised. At the same time, these words had, and were intended to have, a significant meaning. In several parts of the country, Land Leagues had been formed to prevent the alienation of land, and these combinations had already commenced to interfere between the Government and owners of land. Many months before the meeting at New Plymouth, an offer to sell land at Waipa was made by the powerful Waikato Chief, Wiremu Nera Te Awaitaia. The Waikato King and Land League party interfered and forbad the sale. The Governor made a precisely similar declaration to that subsequently made by him at New Plymouth. Wiremu Nera presented himself in Auckland in his uniform as a Native Assessor, and insisted on his right, as an officer of the Queen, to deal with his own property as he thought fit. He was firm in his purpose, and so was the King party. There was every appearance that something serious would arise out of the quarrel; and such would probably have been the case, but for one circumstance. Claimants of proprietary rights came forward and expressed their unwillingness to be parties to the sale. On investigation, they were found to be joint proprietors with Wiremu Nera. The Government could of course proceed no further: the Governor had declared that "he would buy no man's land without his consent"—a promise which had always been acted on in the past and was fully intended to be maintained for the future. Wiremu Nera was very angry, and the very friendly relations which had previously existed between him and the Government were for a time interrupted. He declared that the Government had been influenced by fear of the Kingites, a body to whom he expressed his own determination not to submit.

This case is one precisely analagous to that of Waitara, up to the time of the refusal to sell by some of the acknowledged part-owners of the land; and might, had it not been for that circumstance, have led to the same consequences. Of course if any person at Waitara had made a claim it would at once have been investigated, as had been done at Waipa, and if on such investigation it had been found to be a bona fide claim on the part of a proprietor, and not a prohibition as a land-leaguer, the same course would have been followed, and the negociations for purchase broken off.