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

Page 5

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Page 5.

"It is established by a singular concurrence of the best evidence."……….

The conflicting opinions of high authorities on many material points of Native tenure, already quoted, prove that no reliance can be placed on any definition which lays down a general rule applicable to all the tribes in reference to their title to land.—[See note p. 1.]

On the contrary, nothing is more certain than that there were no fixed rules of tenure. The Rev. Mr. Hamlin, one of the earliest missionaries of the Church of England, and admittedly one of the best authorities on the subject, says: "Tribal right, or any uniform course of action or general plan for their guidance in the management of their lands or other affairs, I have not found to exist among the Natives of this country, nor do I believe they have any such plan or general rule." Mr. Busby, who as British Resident for many years had great opportunities for forming a correct judgment, says, "It is certain they had no fixed rule to guide them in the disposal of their land." Chief Commissioner McLean, who has bought more than twenty millions of acres for the Crown, and whose experience extends over every district and every tribe in New Zealand, says, "The Natives have no fixed rule: the custom varies in different districts. No fixed law on the subject of their lands could be said to exist except the law of might." And Tamihana Te Rauparaha, a Chief well known in England, said openly at the Conference at Kohimarama, "We know very well that according to our customs might is right. Our Maori plan is seizure. We, the Maories, have no fixed rules."

The whole argument of Sir W. Martin's pamphlet is based on the rules laid down by himself. He says in the first lines of it "The present is a land quarrel. The points of it cannot be understood without some knowledge of the main principles of the Native tenure of land." If his rules do not apply to Ngatiawa, the conclusions he founds on them may be quite incorrect.—[See note p. 2.]