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The Revolt of the Samoans

The Government Defeated at the Polls

The Government Defeated at the Polls

Messrs, Nelson, Westbrook and Williams were the sitting Legislative Councillors in 1926; and, when the election of that year was held, notwithstanding the restricted franchise and the fierce opposition of the official elements (it was stated in evidence that both Judges canvassed for votes for the opponents of the sitting members), they were able to score a two-to-one majority over the Government candidates. Heavily defeated by the electors, the Government only permitted one sitting of the Legislative Council to be held; and now it is announced that the Hon. O. F. Nelson (who headed the poll in 1926) has been deported along with two other political opponents of the Government, Messrs. Gurr and Smyth; while the other two elected representatives have been threatened with deportation. While I have not received a copy of the report of the recent Royal Commission, I have seen in one of the newspaper condensations of it a statement that there was no evidence that Mr. Nelson was connected with any of the propaganda against the Government; and, in any case, it is quite clear that his only offence has been that he disagreed with the policy of the Administration. He is the elected representative of the European people in Samoa, and it is safe to say'that in his political opposition to the Government he reflects the views of nearly all the Europeans outside the official circle. A native of Samoa, born of a Samoan mother, those who are in a position to know say that he carries the confidence of quite 90 per cent, of the Samoan Natives. Major A. W. A. Richardson, who was in charge of the Samoa garrison up to 1920, and therefore second in authority to the Administrator, said in July last that there must be something wrong when Nelson complained. The Major recalled the fact that when influenza was taken to Samoa by New Zealand, Mr. Nelson offered the whole of his store and everything else he possessed if it could be used in saving the lives of the people.

I personally disagree with very many of Mr. Nelson's viewpoints; but that fact imposes on me no obligation to remain silent when the New Zealand Government clothes General Richardson (an official bird of passage) with power to drive such a citizen from his native land without any charge being laid against him and without the least semblance of the ordinary right of trial which it is the boast of Britishers is guaranteed to every individual citizen. It has been well said that in our administration of Samoa we have abrogated every principle of page 7 Magna Charta; and we have tarnished our own good name by our proclamation to the world that whoever in Samoa dares to criticise our Administration will be met with a sentence of deportation.