T. F. Elliot, Esq., to Walter Mantell, Esq.
I am directed by Mr. Secretary Labouchere to acknowledge your letters of the 12th and 18th of last month, resigning the office of Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Province of Otago, and explaining your reasons for doing so.
I am directed in the first place to repair any injustice which may have been done you by the expressions contained in my letter of the 11th, owing to the construction which he could not avoid putting on yours of the 1st, when in that letter you said that you "at last found yourself compelled " to confess having acted in your last purchase from the Ngaitahu without authority. Mr. Labouchere could only suppose that you were speaking of some transactions neither authorized nor subsequently sanctioned by the Local Government, and that the approval of Sir George Grey which you incidentally mentioned had reference to your general conduct and not to this particular transaction. If he is now to understand, as your present letter seems to imply, that after having made that purchase without authority you applied for sanction to your superiors, and they approved of your proceedings, you are of course free from blame, and on reference to old official correspondence finds reason (now that the matter has been thus distinctly brought to his notice), to suppose that Sir George Grey did in effect approve of it, although he has no statement to that effect.
With regard to the remainder of your communication, I am to state that Mr. Labouchere can only notice the subject further as shewing the rule adopted and adhered to by this department of receiving no report on such subjects from public officers of a Colony, except through their superiors, is no matter of form or precedent, but of substantial advantage and strict justice. It is therefore wholly without warrant that you charge Mr. Labouchere with "refusing to entertain the claims of the Ngaitahu Natives," when he only declines to entertain them on your unauthorized application.
I am to add that Mr. Labouchere would by no means have thought it necessary to direct this detailed reply to be made to your present letters, had not the tone of your correspondence convinced page 88him that you are acting under a real sense of public duty, however he may have felt it necessary to disapprove of some parts of your conduct.
I have, &c.,
T. F. Elliot.
Walter Mantell, Esq.