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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 68

Patriotic Speech on behalf of those who defended New Zealand at a time of national danger

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Patriotic Speech

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Justice Wanted.

  • To His Excellency Sir W. F. D. Jervois, R.E., G.C.M.G., C.B., Governor of New Zealand;
  • To the Honourable Members of the House of Representatives and the Legislative Council;
  • Also to the Electors of New Zealand.

Gentlemen :

The Naval and Military Settlers and Volunteers' Land Bill was successfully passed in the House of Representatives, and on the third reading the Defence Minister was congratulated on all sides. He replied that the credit was due more to the late Defence Minister than to himself, and he was very glad that justice would now be done to deserving men whose claims had been ignored through informalities etc., etc.

The Bill then went to the Legislative Council, with the result contained in the patriotic speech of Sir G. S Whitmore, and when the history of New Zealand is written it will occupy a place of honour, coming from one who had shared the dangers with those he now pleaded so earnestly and eloquently for—who had ventured their livid in the defence of law and order in this our adopted land; alas, how many lost their lives, and numbers their health in the fierce struggle. Give justice to those who so well deserve your gratitude. Can you so soon forget the perilous times gone by, when farms had to be abandoned and reoccupied by a savage foe seeking to tomahawk and shoot all they met, when settlers took refuge in Wanganui page 3 etc., etc., and will you throw over the claims of men who trusted in faith that the Government would always give them their land when they demanded it, as they had fulfilled their part of the contract, restored peace, and enabled settlers to live in safety on their farms and settlements.

I have the honour to be, Yours faithfully,

Sydney Stidolph.

Naval and Military Settlers and Volunteers' Land Bill.

Sir G. S. Whitmore's Speech on the Adjourned Debate.

Tuesday, 1st August, 1888, on the motion for committal.

The Hon. G. S. Whitmore very much regretted that it had been decided in the Speaker's absence—and that, as far as he could judge, the Speaker concurred in that decision—that this Bill was an Appropriation Bill. He could not help it, but he was unable to concur in that view, although of course he submitted with respect to the chair, and to the ruling that had been given. He considered that if the Council abandoned its absolute right to deal with appropriation for land it gave up on a very trumpery bill a right which for the 25 years he had the honour to sit in the Council had always been jealously guarded. The decision arrived at rendered it the more difficult for him to obtain justice for his old comrades in There were a large number of those applicants—some three or four hundred persons—and because there were one or two cases which did not seem to rest upon a good basis there was furnished an argument for upsetting page 4 a valuable Bill. He congratulated the Government on having had the good fortune to introduce a Bill of this character, and he should feel very much regret if, through there being one or two disputed claims amongst a land number, the whole of the claimants were to suffer. The Hon. Mr. Waterhouse bad mentioned in his powerful speech against the Bill one or two instances which he did not think in fairness he should have done. There was the case of Colonel Nixon's Defence Force, for example. It had been said that these men bad very high pay, and therefore they must be content to do without land. But the Force did not receive very high pay, and they with the sole mounted Force that in those days the General and the army had to depend upon to do all the cavalry duty of the Waikato Campaign. Arrangements were made with that officer that his men were to receive a block of land, in return for which they found their clothing, saddlery, farriery, and their horses. The total amount received in the way of pay was 7s. 6d. a day. The Hawke's Bay Force, which he raised, obtained their land in Gisborne, and very useful settlers they had proved. Colonel Nixon no longer lived to give the Council the grounds upon which he gave his promise on behalf of the Government for his men's claims to land. He (Sir G. Whitmore) believed Colonel Nixon bad made the promise to his men, and that they were induced to enter the service upon such promise, and consequently it was only just and right that the colony should ratify that promise Then there was the question of Major Jackson's Forest Rangers. Those men he argued were paid a most unreasonable amount of money per day, and they were enrolled for a very short period; but it was absolutely proved by documentary evidence that at the end of that term they were page 5 to receive their land. They served in a very distinguised manner, and they did very valuable service to the colony, and therefore he asked upon what grounds, 25 years afterwards, was the Council to go back into this matter and to say that, because those men received a high rate of pay the bargain which had been made should not be carried out. Some of these Forest Rangers, however, had enlisted for a fresh arrangement, serving a new term for a further grant of land, and they were to be debarred because they had high pay and land under a previous arrangement with the Government. It was on record that Major Jackson, on behalf of these men, said to the then Minister of Defence before they re-enlisted, "If those men re-enlist are they to be, or are they not to be, debarred from further grants of land?" The Minister, in reply, said they were not to be debarred, and yet these gallant men were now to be debarred. He regarded with still more indignation the cases of his old comrades of the military service whom it was sought to deprive of what they conceived, and what he believed to be, their rights. He referred to the 37th clause, for Naval and Military settlers, under the Act existing at that time, and he asked, were these claims to be debarred, over circumstances over which they had no control, from obtaining land which they considered to be their due?

The The Hon. Sir G. S. Whitmore referred to the claims of Major Edwards, formerly a Lieut, of the 14th Regiment, and also of Major Noake (Wellington Colonial Defence Force), but formerly a riding master in the 15th Royal Hussars, but as these are purely Imperial claims it is unnecessary to refer to them. Sir G. S. Whitmore, continuing, referred to the claim of Lieut. Col. Crowe, who was one of the Commissioners of the last Commission, and page 6 whoso claim was also before the Commission of Col. Hal-tain in 1882. Col. Crowe did not appear to have made his application within the prescribed time, and cansequently it was rejected. If any honourable gentleman would take the trouble to read the report of that Commission they would see the narrow limits within which they supposed themselves to be confined. It was all very well for the Government to say, with respect to 37 of the names which appeared on the Schedule, 25 had already been considered, and therefore ought not to be considered again. That was quite true; but for all that, they might be good claims. Where grants had been given in the Province of Auckland it was in order to get expert men who were trained to the use of arms and to soldiers duty to remain and defend the common country; and the true defence of Auckland might be considered that of Taranaki Acting entirely upon this idea, he knew for a fact that something like 10 or 12 old soldiers threw up their chanees of land in order to enlist and fight the battles of the colony in the Province of Taranaki. They came down—and did many volunteers—never dreaming that the colony would not keep faith with them, and never imagining that under such circumstances they were forfeiting their land, through not having completed their five years of residence, which was necessary to the granting of the land under the rules which had been laid down for their guidance. All regarded the Col. Defence Force and the Forest Rangers, and several other Volunteer Regiments, they, at any rate bad an equitable contract to urge on their behalf. He had already pointed out how narrow was the distance by which these Colonial Forces had missed exactly complying with the law, and be bad noticed that when he had said that, his honourable friend (Mr. Waterhouse) had appeared page 7 not to be convinced. He had, however, turned up the report of the Committee, and he wished honourable members to read for themselves exactly from that report the grounds on which they had acted in rejecting or granting claims. They laid down—

"That it was not within our province to go beyond the law by entertaining claims that might have been valid had they been preferred at the proper time and in the proper manner, but which had been allowed to lapse through the manifest neglect or indifference of the claimants themselves."

Under these circumstances there was every possible ground for asking the Legislature to consider as a matter of fair play the claims that might have lapsed through these omissions which, as the law had laid down, would bar them, but were nevertheless harmless and trifling. To show that the claims in these cases could not have been such forced, be might point out that they had, during the war. 14,000 troops in the colony, of whom fully a quarter had settled in the colony. It appeared to him that the number of those persons who were entitled to claim land under the Bill being so small the Council should have no difficulty in passing the Bill. He hoped it would never have to be said of the Council that, because they were now out of the fire they had forgotten those people who had stood by them in times of trouble. He well remembered the time when, in both Houses of Parliament, a question such as this would not have required to have been put to the vote—when everybody in the country recognised his obligations to those who bore the heat and burden of the fray, and was anxious to be foremost in recognising their services. Now that the wolf was away from the door it page 8 did not appear a very creditable thing to forget it. He hoped it would never be said that New Zealand had turned her back upon, and had ungratefully forgotten the services of those who had fought her battles in the past.

decorative feature

S. Clapham, Printer, Upper Willis Street, Wellington.