Title: Octavius Hadfield

Author: Barbara Macmorran

Publication details: 1969, Wellington

Digital publication kindly authorised by: G. H. Macmorran

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Octavius Hadfield

Prefix I

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Prefix I

Short extracts from letters written by Octavius Hadfield in Marton to his son, Henry Hadfield, between the years 1894-1903.

The Horowhenua Report, or the out-line of the Counsel's report, given in the newspapers, throws light on those wonderful Land Courts that you have always heard me denounce. The principle laid down—which I have always maintained—ought to have prevented all the worthless claims put forth by persons who were slaves at the time the Treaty of Waitangi was made. There is not a word of truth in the statement that the Muaupoko were not conquered but retreated to the mountains; they were all made slaves; or fell back on the Whanganui where they were practically slaves. Another mistake is constantly made. Neither a man nor a woman could be a member of two tribes. This was an undisputed fact. For instance Kemp's father, a Muaupoko, lived with his wife, a Whanganui, at Whanganui: he therefore was domiciled there, and lost all rights he might have had at Horowhenua. It is the principle accepted by all nations that a man cannot be a citizen in two countries. In time of war, say, between the two tribes, Kemp's father would have been killed by Muaupoko.

I do not think that there ever was anything like communism among Maoris. Each hapu or sub hapu had their land, but when it was cultivated each individual had his own strip which he cultivated for himself. A chief would cultivate a larger piece, but then those who came to work for him were practically paid by food (and later by tobacco, etc.). They, to be sure, generally had slaves, but that does not imply socialism. Loafers for the most part hung about their own relations, but none were absolutely idle. But any young men who wish to understand these subjects, so far as we are concerned, should read the Duke of Argyll's 'Unseen Foundations of Society'. It is a remarkable book, crammed full of information.

I am quite clear about Horowhenua and all concerning it— but Land Courts have always treated with contempt what I said.

page 146

I had no prejudice against Muaupoko. I had a whare where they lived, and heard long stories of an evening of all that occurred in Rauparaha's time, and how Te Whatanui had saved them.

I cannot conjecture what will be the result of all this present legislation—but everybody seems alarmed at so much interference with free action.

I do not now care for one party much more than another. When in office they are all very much alike.

It does seem very strange that the whole business of the country so far as Parliament is concerned should stop because one man goes to England. The ministry must be very weak.

I quite agree with you about the legislation as to Asiatics: I see the Governor intends to reserve the Bill for Imperial sanction. . . . With such a power as Japan at this distance from England it certainly becomes N.Z. politicians to be careful what they do.

What a long session you have had. The country is now beginning to look beautiful; it is quite time for Parliament to shut up and let men go into the country. You will be glad to be at home again.

I am afraid what I wrote about Illingworth is hard reading for those who have not given much attention to such subjects. My reason for writing is that the book has been put on the list for examination of our theological students, and I think it ought to be taken off.

People are so accustomed to be misled by cleverly written articles in the press that they don't know what to believe, and very few people take the trouble to think for themselves.

I am disgusted with the stupid folly of Greece going to war with Turkey. She can't conquer Turkey, and she must to say the least, involve herself in financial trouble apart from dreadful suffering. Turkey has done nothing whatever to offend her.

I am very sad about the war in the north of India; our losses have been heavy.

page 147

When the Spaniards give in, I can't see what the Americans will do with the Cubans. . . . Can they be left to govern themselves? Perhaps that would be the best thing to do.

It is difficult to foresee what will happen in China. I am disappointed. I thought a few years ago that it might become a powerful country and advance like Japan—but its whole government is rotten.

I can form no opinion on the Chinese trouble. It seems almost hopeless for Europeans and Asiatics to understand one another.

I have a good map of the Nile as far as Khartoum. . . . France is in such a rotten condition (that is, the Government) that a war might be recklessly forced on. Any general with a tenth part of the ability of Napoleon would have the army with him to upset the Government. They seem afraid even of such an insignificant puppy as the Duke of Orleans. I sometimes wish I had someone to talk to on all these subjects; they won't concern me long, but to be interested only in what concerns one's own time would be contemptible selfishness.

There seems to be no prospect of an early end of that Dreyfus business. Nothing could have exposed to all Europe the rotten condition of the Government and the higher branch of the army—the staff—than the whole thing from beginning to end, if there is ever to be an end.

I cannot guess what will happen in France. I don't think the new ministry will last a month. Men finding themselves in the freedom that is supposed to exist under the republic will never condone the action of the great staff officers in the Dreyfus affair. Zola is not likely to be quiet after the victory he has obtained in getting the first Court Martial upset.

It is a good thing for the country that so many breeders take pains to improve their stock and work up to a high standard.

People here are beginning to grumble about the railway station being moved so far. They have to pay double for coach and carting; besides being very inconvenient in many other respects.

page 148

I have been reading parts of 'History of the C.M.S. N.Z. Mission'. It has been in existence a hundred years and I have been connected with it more than sixty. ... I am amused to see how little what I did in the Waitara war matter is mentioned. Bishop Selwyn and Sir W. Martin are chiefly spoken of. The truth is it was with some difficulty that Bishop Abraham could get them to see that I had any real ground of complaint against the Government. Such is history. However, the date of my Pamphlets and letters show clearly the truth. But what does it matter? The book speaks most highly of your grandfather and asserts that he was the greatest missionary in the N.Z. Church.

I see the Opposition are having a preliminary canter in the House; I suppose nothing will come of it.

I am not interested in politics—but you may as well send the Hansards sometime for me to look through.

I hate elections; there is so much humbug spoken and written on both sides.

It is a gain to find one politician who will not say black is white to please Seddon.

I have just read a book on Cecil Rhodes. It is very interesting ... I have also read a book on Wellington. He was another great man who was constantly hampered by instructions from men who could not understand him or his plans. . . . Your sisters are all very good and attentive; but I sometimes like to talk on subjects which women don't care to join in about.

I cannot help thinking about some of the ritualistic disputes in England, which will soon spread abroad and come out here. While they are quarrelling about a lot of foolish ceremonies, a whole lot of sceptical people look on and make light of religion altogether.

The controversies going on in England on church matters are painful to me. No doubt I am old and have had a long experience in these matters; still it seems to me that some of the younger men are doing much harm by their vagaries in what they call 'Ritual' about which, in my opinion, they know very little, and nothing of its tendencies.

page 149

I do not see that any good can come of N.Z. joining the Australian Confederation. I never could attach any weight to what they call 'reciprocity in trade'. If they do not want our products they can leave them alone. England is and must be the New Zealand market.

I am greatly opposed to this talk about federation with the Australian colonies. Why this country should go and abandon its independence for the long future for the purpose of increasing its trade—a very uncertain thing after all—I cannot imagine. I have no patience in thinking of it. I have never seen a single argument advanced in favour of it which I deem valid. I don't believe there are 20 men in N.Z. who have attempted to look all round the subject, or who could give a reasoned opinion either for or against it. And yet the Post talks of submitting the question to the electors! Poor N.Z., whose progress I have been watching for sixty years, and now to be an appendage to the Australian colonies. Aue.

Mr Quirk came yesterday. He has got the Porirua College site case coming in in the Supreme Court immediately. I made an affidavit in the matter which he seems to think ought to help them a good deal. The truth is they have made such a mess of it from not following my advice seven years ago that I find it very difficult to feel much interest in it. I prefer to prevent difficulties rather than remedy them.

This war at the Cape is a sad affair. . . . What I have most dreaded has been the possibility of the black races joining in.

I hope your country work will enable you to shake off the political dust of Parliament which you have been breathing. How are your sheep and lambs? I am afraid wool is very low. It appears from home papers that the supply begins to exceed the demand. Have any of our merchants tried to ascertain whether a market might not be found in Japan to which it might be shipped direct?

I am glad you had an opportunity of seeing such good Romneys. When I was in Kent forty-four years ago I was close to Romney Marsh and I was told that there were not more than 2,500. Now they are spread into many places. There must be some good page 150 in them or they could not have competed with so many improved breeds. They were then never shown at fairs in other places.

'I am very pleased with the Farmers Union. I hope they will stick to it, and not be drawn away to any Producers Union, or other sham. The only mistake some of the newspapers are making is leading people to suppose that they can lower the custom duties. What they ought to aim at (among other objects) is to get rid of all protective duties, whose obvious tendency is to take money from the settlers (county ones especially) to put it into the pockets of manufacturers and their operatives. There ought to be a cheap pamphlet on this aspect of the subject circulated widely.

The Farmers Union must keep clear of party politics, and stick to their main point.

I have just read a Life of Lord Cromer, chiefly his work in Egypt. He must be an able man. But I have also read a book by a very learned Hebrew and Arabic scholar, a Professor of these languages at Oxford. He completely smashes up the 'Higher Clitics' who attack the Old Testament. It requires a little knowledge of Hebrew to understand it. It is the most satisfactory book I have read for the last twenty years.

I was glad you could help the poor Maori mother by reading the Burial service over her child. I have often wished that I could have occasionally been among the Maoris, but my infirmities since I retired have hindered any attempt to do so.