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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

VIII.—Opposition and intrigues of Europeans who have interfered with my negotiations

VIII.—Opposition and intrigues of Europeans who have interfered with my negotiations.

This has formed the most prominent feature of the conditions against which I have deemed it my duty to contend.

I had to advert to this subject in my annual report last year, and I find myself compelled to mention it again.

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The evil has not diminished, although its organisation and ramifications may have become more apparent.

And, first I would say, that where settlers have had prior transactions, and possessed prior claims, that I have made it my rule to abstain from interfering with those transactions, but at the same time I have requested them to refrain in like manner from interfering with the negotiations I have entered into on behalf of the Government.

More than this on the part of the Government would not be acceptable to Europeans, and less than this would not be just to the Government.

It seemed necessary, therefore, to draw a line somewhere, and I have endeavoured to draw it where the equitable and legal rights of the public should be protected from the efforts of individuals—be they who they may—who may seek to interfere and to deprive the public of those rights.

The necessity of such a rule appears to be in proportion to the means of the individual either by ability, wealth, influence, &c.; a rule is necessary, too, to meet that class of persons who jump claims to be bought out.

Now it has been my lot until quite lately, i.e., until the land was gazetted under the Immigration and Public Works Acts, to be compelled to struggle single-handed more than twelve months with a very powerful and a very remarkable European opposition. An opposition that I feel sure has spent directly and indirectly (their expenditure in public-houses alone is enormous) far more, perhaps five times as much, money as I have paid, but whose utmost effort has proved quite inadequate to create more than a passing European difficulty.

The persons instigating this opposition have possessed means and influence so large, that had I been less firm or less assured of the justice of the cause represented, I should not have been able to prevail hitherto, as I have. . . .

On the 7th of July last I refused to pay money on Mr Locke and Mr Read's request.

On the 9th the Judge and Read drove to the country house of the latter, where they were accustomed frequently to reside together.

On the 11th I was informed that the Judge was trying to get Read and Cooper's surveys at Waingaromia placed upon a special Gazette by telegram.

On the 12th they returned to town, and by that time the lands had been telegraphed and hurriedly notified at the head page 53 office at Auckland, not on the usual printed form under seal of the Court, but with the seal of the Court on a manuscript.

I venture to affirm that this was an exceedingly improper proceeding, and an abuse of power. It was a violent action, the effect of which was to displace the cause of the public, and to injure it by giving Read's interests priority. It was to make claimants of the Opposition, and to give them the right to reply. It was to take the hearing of our lands upon their hasty and indiscriminately—I had almost said promiscuously—made surveys and plans. It was to impart prestige to one side, and to humiliate those who had sold to the Government. It was to diminish in the eyes of the people the respect due to the Government in its business transactions, by rendering those transactions subordinate to the interests of Europeans who were known to have interfered with them.

Suitors in all cases in the Native Land Court are required to comply with the forms of the Court. They are required to make their claims to the Court in writing, and have, in point of fact, to fill an elaborate form of application for hearing with scrupulous exactness, failing which, their applications are returned to them for correction. But the Natives with whom Messrs Read and Cooper were in treaty were excused delay where time was an object, and were granted a special advantage.

And here I may say, that, had the Court and the District Officer permitted business to flow in the ordinary channel, and had surveyors been furnished in March, April, and May, 1875, when I applied for them; and further, had a Judge of the Native Land Court presided here, who could have taken Government business sometimes, instead of cases in which Mr Read is interested always (I believe one solitary case excepted), that the time of the Court in my district during the year under report has been entirely engrossed in adjudicating where Read requires titles, while not a single case has been adjudicated in which Natives claim who have parted with their land to Government. Had these conditions been permitted to obtain, then the Government would have had its deeds, and the Natives their money long ago. . .

I have the honor to be, sir


Your obedient Servant

, (Signed)

J. A. Wilson

, Land Purchase Officer.