The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
New Plymouth, 26th February, 1894
26th February, 1894.
Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 20th instant, and in reply thereto, I beg to say that the Department is misinformed in the matter. Upon a narrow and purely technical view of the question, it is possibly correct to say that no payment of the purchase money due to Meringa had been made at the time the declaration was signed, because the sum of £40 (the purchase money) had been paid to her in sovereigns; it is, however, a gross libel upon the integrity of myself and Mr. Joe Ward, the Justice of the Peace who took the declaration, to suggest, as the learned judge presiding in the trial of Meringa v. Humphries did, that a perjury was committed by the Native, and suborned by us. The actual facts are clearly set out in a letter printed copy of which I now enclose for your perusal, from Mr. J. Ward to the Editor of the Taranaki Herald, dated the 23rd December, 1893. I need only add that Mr. Humphries, to whom Meringa looked as her agent and who by the verdict of the jury was found to have been such, was, to my mind, in precisely the position of his principal for the purposes of the declaration. It is the invariable practice of the Trust Commissioners, who have had any experience whatever, to treat a receipt by an agent as a receipt by a principal. This is also, I may add, a rule of common page 5 sense, and, it appears to me that no person with any practical knowledge of the proper way of completing native transactions, would for a moment venture to say that, to all intents and purposes, payment had not actually been made to Meringa when she signed the declaration. I would draw your attention to the fact that the declaration known as form E is always used without altering Clause IV, because those who are well versed in native matters, consider it as covering payment to the principal, payment to the agent or a carrying to credit as between principal and agent in account current. It might, however, be advisable to have the declaration form, as now printed, re-issued slightly altered, but I doubt its practical utility. In conclusion, I should like to say that it is not an axiom that in all native transactions all the Europeans concerned are engaged in some form or other of fraud or criminal conspiracy.
I have the honor to be, Sir, etc.,
Chas. Brown, Licensed Interpreter.The Under Secretary, Native Office, Wellington.