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

Page 50

Page 50.

"Yet neither Mr. McLean nor Mr. Parris instituted any investigation at Waikanae."

Whatever enquiry there might be elsewhere, there was none at Waikanae (p. 52.)

It cannot but be a matter of satisfaction to the Government that the accusations of not instituting a proper investigation, after all resolve themselves into the charge that no investigation was made at Waikanae. The reason for this is very obvious. Waikanae, of all places which at any time were in the occupation of any sections of the Ngatiawa, was the one place where no investigation was necessary. The Chief Commissioner made personal investigations among the Ngatiawa of Queen Charlotte's Sound, because Ropoama Te One and the principal chiefs of the hapus concerned in the sale who had emigrated to the Sound, still resided there. He made personal investigations among the Ngatiawa of Port Nicholson, because Te Puni and other principal chiefs of Ngatiawa families still resided there. But he was not called upon to make an investigation at Waikanae, because the principal men of that section of the Ngatiawa which formerly lived at Waikanae had returned to Taranaki, and the investigation into the title of the Waikanae claimants would properly take place not at Waikanae where they did not live, but at Waitara where they did.

The Waikanae Natives admit this completely when they say, "Still we felt no apprehension of losing our lands, because we were continually hearing of the strong declaration of Wiremu Kingi that he would keep our lands for us. For he is our Chief, a protecting shade for our lands there." Those Natives who were content to leave their interests in the hands of Wiremu Kingi cannot complain of the consequences of his refusal, either on their behalf or his own, to put in any claim except the claim to prohibit others, who were managing their own business on the spot, from selling their land. What the Government did, then, was to treat with the families at Queen Charlotte's Sound and Wellington by going to the places where they still lived: to treat with the Chiefs who had formerly inhabited Waikanae but had returned, at Waitara where they were now settled. It may be looked upon as quite certain that if the Governor had held a formal investigation at Waikanae and come to the conclusion that there were no valid claims there, exactly the same outcry would have been made against him, and he would have been charged with pretending to investigate the rights of the Waikanae section of the tribe in the absence of the chief men of that section.

But in truth the accusation is without foundation. No one who has the slightest acquaintance with Maori customs can doubt that the offer of Teira's land was known to every individual native of the Waikanae section as perfectly as it was to William King himself. Yet not one of them ever preferred a claim or an objection.