Walter Mantell, Esq., to Under Secretary Merivale.
With much regret I perceive that you have misconceived the object of the letter which I had the honour to address to you on the 5th ultimo, relative to the claims of the Middle Island tribes.
Desiring no compensation or satisfaction for any injustice to which I may personally have been subjected by Her Majesty's Representatives in New Zealand, I should not, did I wish to prefer charges against the Local Government, address them to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.
But in requesting your attention to the equitable claims of Natives, it was, I submit, not page 84unnecessary to advert to the conduct of the Government toward them, and to show how small was the prospect that a sufficient remedy could be obtained from that quarter without express instructions from a higher authority.
If I have failed to make this clear to you, I must, however reluctantly, resume the irksome task of recording the peculiarities of the administration of the late Government of the Colony.
But if, on the contrary, I have already said more than was necessary to your conviction, I beg to withdraw whatever may seem unrequired by the object I have now in view, on the understanding that such withdrawal is not in the least degree to be regarded as an admission of incorrectness in the statements I have made.
|In answer to the first question, to which a reply was required by the Right Honorable Mr. Secretary Labouchere, I have the honour to inform you,
That, in my written instructions, no specific authority is given, and that it was not only unnecessary, but even inexpedient, that such specific authority should have been inserted, is, I conceive, sufficiently clear.
So long as a feeling of confidence in the Government could be maintained in the Natives' minds without written stipulations of the kind referred to, it seemed to me, and I had no reason to believe that my immediate superiors differed from me on the point, that the record in those documents of such class provision for the aboriginal race, and the legal right to it which such record would, when acted upon, confer, might tend to perpetuate a distinction between the races, which, at the time that these purchases of land were made, by me it seemed to be the desire of the Imperial Government to abrogate.
Had I myself been justified in entertaining any fear that the Government would fail in fulfiling promises (verbally given on authority, only verbal for reasons which I considered valid), I should not have hesitated to insert them in the text of those Deeds of Cession which I drew. But Sir George Grey, during whose Government all of my purchases were made, seldom, to the best of my recollection, refused any reasonable request on behalf of these Natives, nor had I ground for believing that his successor would be leas just.
I have received three sets of instructions to purchase lands, of which the last two refer for details to the first which contains nothing more definite on the point now under comment than directions to induce the Natives to accede to my views, or to get, or win their consent.
But Lieutenant-Governor Eyre, who directed those (the first) instructions to be written, impressed upon me the propriety of placing before the Natives the prospect of the great future advantages which the cession of their lands would bring them in schools, hospitals, and the paternal care of Her Majesty's Government, and, as I have before said, I found these promises of great use in my endeavours to break down their strong and most justifiable opposition to my first commission, and in facilitating the acquisition of my later purchases, adding to the Crown lands an area nearly as large as England.
I am not unaware of the comparative facility with which the majority of the natives might be induced to abandon all hope of these prospective advantages, especially as the long time which has elapsed without their realization has probably nearly obliterated the rememberance of that hope, but I much doubt whether any officer of the Land Purchase Department would willingly undertake a duty of this kind.
Tho Ngaitahu right in this matter, though perhaps not according to our law a legal one, cannot I conceive be denied to exist.
|In reply to your second question, I have the honour to state that I brought the subject under the notice of Colonel Wynyard, at Auckland, on the 19th May, 1855, at an interview which His Excellency accorded to enable me to avoid a correspondence, and at which, by his direction, the Native Secretary was present.
On this occasion I brought under Colonel Wynyard's notice many facts with which I have not troubled you. His Excellency gave to my remarks the most polite attention, but none but the most unsatisfactory replies. I, therefore, in the belief that I should there find both inclination and power to aid my Maori friends, resolved to bring the main question before the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
I shall do myself the honour of addressing to you a separate communication relative to the last paragraph of your letter of the 21st instant.
It only remains for me to advert to that portion of it in which you speak of a reference to the local authorities, and as those authorities will, before your reference can be made, consist of persons totally different from those whose proceedings in this matter it has been my duty to note, to suggest a reference to the highest local authority, to which I sincerely trust you will see no objection.
As this claim is, so for as I am capable of judging, of so purely equitable a nature that it could never be brought into a court of law, it has occurred to me that possibly, if requested by you to do so, His Honor Mr. Justice Martin might undertake the adjustment of the matter.
Her Majesty's Government would by the adoption of this course obtain the beat possible opinion, and I should feel that I bad conscientiously discharged my duty to the Ngaitahu in leaving their cause to the decision of a gentleman so universally and deservedly respected.
I have, &c.,
Under Secretary Merivale.