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Whakarewarewa School Reserve, Motueka (Report of Mr. Commissioner Mackay upon the).

[Memorandum regarding clause 28 A 'Special Powers and Contracts Act, 1886']

Memorandumre clause 28A"Special Powers and Contracts Act, 1886," introduced for the purpose of enabling the Governor to declare, by Order in Council, that the Grants issued respectively on the 25th July and 4th August, 1853, to the Bishop of New Zealand, of certain Native Reserves in the Motueka District, should be cancelled, and the Lands vested in the Public Trustee as Native Reserves for the benefit of the Natives for whom such Reserves were originally made, or their Descendants.

The following objections were made against the aforesaid clause in the Waste Lands Committee by Mr. Hursthouse, M.H.R., on behalf of the Bishop of Nelson : (1.) That the Bishop had not had an opportunity of being heard on the subject. (2.) That the Act in question was not a proper place for a clause of the kind to be inserted. (3.) That it was inexpedient and impolitic to take steps to cancel the grant, because there were other lands held in a similar manner, to wit, an endowment at Wanganui and at Te Aute in Hawke's Bay, as well as at other places in the colony, that might possibly be jeopardized by such action. (4.) That the Natives were deriving an interest benefit from the endowment, and had consented originally to the land being appropriated. (5.) That the land included in the endowment was occupied by tenants who were entitled to special consideration.

The Native Minister stated that, after hearing Mr. Hursthouse's statement, he would not press for the retention of the clause. It was accordingly struck out.

In reply to the objections raised by Mr. Hursthouse, the following particulars are submitted in opposition thereto:—

In the session of 1883 a petition was presented to Parliament on behalf of certain Natives of Motueka to restore the land to them; but its consideration was postponed at the request of Mr. Hursthouse, owing to the Bishop of Nelson being absent in England.

It came up again in the session of 1884, and after an exhaustive inquiry the Native Affairs Committee reported as follows : "The Committee is of opinion that the condition of the Trust has not been fulfilled, and that steps should be taken by the Government, either by action in the Supreme Court or by legislation, to restore the land in question to the condition of an ordinary reserve under the management of the Public Trustee. As regards that part of the grant made out of Crown lands, the Committee consider it should revert to the Crown.—J. B. B. Bradshaw, Chairman. 30th October, 1884."

(a.)The Bishop of Nelson was notified that the Committee was prepared to hear him on the subject of the petition, but for some reason be did not attend. It is submitted, therefore, that it is too late now to urge that as a plea for delay.
(b.)With reference to the objection raised against the insertion of the clause to meet the case in the Special Powers and Contracts Act, it is possible, even if a special Act had been introduced for the purpose, that exception would have been taken to it by those who held the property on some other plea, although they must be fully convinced that the retention of the estate under the circumstances is altogether unjustifiable.
(c.)That it is inexpedient and impolitic to disturb the grant. This is one of those remarks that are always advanced whenever an attempt is made to remedy a wrong of the kind, that such a proposal involves a dangerous principle, and, if sanctioned, would tend to destroy the security of property held under Crown grant.