The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
"Tauranga, 5th July, 1879. "
5th July, 1879."
I hare the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 28th June.
"In reply I beg to state that when I ventured to suggest the advisability of a meeting as heretofore in important cases of the kind under reference, I simply pointed out the ordinary course by which business, both public and private, is continually transacted under similar circumstances. I did not ask for a meeting. I did not say a meeting was necessary, or that it would be proper or even desirable. The business being in your hands, I merely suggested whether a meeting would be advisable, and I stated some objections to the proposed rules.
"Tour reply that 'a meeting is impossible' was at once accepted by me as conclusive from a practical—that is to say, from an administrative point of view—and so far were you from being influenced to withdraw your proposed rules by any suggestion I had made, that in the self-same telegram notifying the impossibility of a meeting you desire me to forward my approval of the rules 'at once.'
"I turn now to another phase of the subject. When you informed me that a meeting was impossible, it seemed no longer premature to ask the reasons that had induced you to propose these rules, such reasons being necessary, as I had hoped, to enable me to consider the rules aright. I therefore telegraphed an inquiry to you two days after receipt of your telegram stating a meeting to be 'impossible' and desiring me to sign the rules 'at once.'
|'I.||Re Schedule A. What reasons induce you to desire to depart from or alter your present practice? What grounds have you to assume that the scheme proposed would answer sufficiently well to justify us in stereotyping it a rule of the Court without trial?page 78|
|'II.||Re schedule B. What reasons have induced you to ask for this rule? What statutory power do you rely upon to warrant our prescribing rates for surveys to be performed?'|
"Such were the simple, and in this case necessary, questions, to the first of which alone did your letter in any way reply
"I have narrated circumstances as they occurred thus to place on record, in so far as I am aware, how the rules you proposed became abortive, and to combat the erroneous impression, unstated, indeed, in your letter of the 28th ult., but conveyed notwithstanding, that the rules had miscarried because I had required a meeting of Judges and all the Assessors.
"Whereas I should have been willing and happy to approve the rules had you but been able to return satisfactory replies to the proper questions put to you concerning them.
"Here I would remark that it is but scant justice to a set of rules such as these, and speaks little for the confidence of its author, to withdraw it thus hastily from view the moment questions are asked about it, and I regret that propositions so feebly supported should be seriously placed before me.
"I have affirmed that these questions were necessary in this case, and as I do not desire to put forth aught of this kind in respect to which I would be unable or unwilling to give a reason, I will shortly indicate here how I conceived them to be necessary.
|Acres.||Charges under legal scale.||Charges under Schedule B.||Percentage of Schedule B. above legal scale.|
It is not possible to do more than approximate roughly to an estimate of the aggregate weight of the additional burdens you would permanently impose upon the native community by this schedule. It may, however, be placed at not less probably than £50,000—and might be very much more than that sum—and this I feared when I made my inquiry that the increased cost of surveys would defeat a chief object of the Legislature and of the author of the Act.
"Again. The legal scale rests in a separate department, connected indeed with the Court to a certain extent, but independent of it. Over this department the Inspector of Surveys presides. He is required by the Act to make his own rules or regulations under its 70th clause, something in the same way that we are empowered to frame our own rules by the 17th clause. I apprehend the Inspector can request the Governor in Council to alter this scale if necessary, raising it or lowering it to suit the times, but we cannot touch it. At any rate it had not been shewn when I wrote how or why we should attempt to inferfere. It is beyond the boundaries of our province, nor do our functions extend to it.
"Again. The Judges in their memorandum entitled 'Remarks by Judges of the Native Land Court upon the Native Land Act, 1873," submitted to His Excellency the Governor in Council, at a date not named, in speaking to the circumstance, that they were unable to require from the Inspector of Surveys a plan even or tracing, for the Court Rolls say—' The Judges cannot deal with this matter by page 80 rules, as they have no power to regulate the conduct of independent departments connected with the Court.' Such, therefore, being the unanimous opinion of the Judges deliberately expressed at that time, I was unable to reconcile the said opinion with the principle of the Schedule, the latter being, to my mind, a flagrant attempt to 'regulate the conduct of an independent department,' and as I have an objection to the Judges, or any of them, being asked to stultify themselves I challenged the rule.
"Again. I am not aware that we have the power to act for the Inspector of Surveys, should we wish it even, nor do I think that he is authorised to delegate his functions to us.
"I turn now to Schedule A. and the rule covering it. After the receipt of your answer to my first question, re this Schedule I should have requested a meeting had the rules not been withdrawn, and here I may note parenthetically, that I should have equally required a meeting to consider the Survey question and Schedule B., believing as I do, that a meeting would have been necessary in this instance, and being necessary, should be convened, and that all necessary expenses connected therewith, and inconvenience if such is to be considered, should be cheerfully incurred; hence, as I have said, I should have requested a meeting on receipt of your reason in the letter of the 28th ult., because the proposal and the reason raised a series of considerations which seem to be of much importance to the administrative success of the Act, considerations based upon the Act itself, upon its past, its present, and future usefulness, and how the embarrassments you complain of, which doubtless increase as business increases, should be met and provided for in an intelligent way in each case; for these difficulties cannot be ignored or set aside in any district I am acquainted with. They are an element demanding personal supervision on the part of the administration, and no automatic scheme, or time-table set up among the stifling and evanescent conditions which surround a Native Land Court, would be likely to secure a successful issue.
"The whole matter is, however, a question for careful deliberation, and I trust that sooner or later its importance may be deemed sufficicent to justifiy a meeting.
I have the honor to be, sir, "
Your obedient servant, "
J. A. Wilson, Judge. "F. D. Fenton, Esq., Chief Judge, N.L.C."