The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
Sir,—The Herald of Thursday reports District Judge Kettle's charge in effect as follows:—"That Major Brown, Messrs. Humphries and Cunningham and a Justice of the Peace (myself) went to Moturoa some time since and, to use his very words, "these people got the old Maori woman (Maringa) to sign a statutory declaration which actually amounted to perjury." I observe that in your contemporary report, Mr. Kettle suggested that I "probably did not know anything about the matter," a statement in direct conflict with with your report of his charge, leaving, however, for the moment this discrepancy to shift for itself, I desire to say that my part in the transaction was a very simple one, and hardly warrants the accusation of the judge as reported by you. I went as a Justice of the Peace to take a Native's signature to a transfer and statutory declaration. The latter alone is in question. I understood, and I believe it is not denied, that the purchase money was to be £40, of which £15 was with the express consent of the Native retained by Mr. Humphries for expenses, £5 was to be accounted for by him upon completion, and £20 was paid to the Native and her husband in hard cash. This bargain I am convinced was understood by the Native thoroughly, and she appeared to be satisfied and made no complaint. Mr. Kettle complains that £40 should have been paid to Meringa in cash, whilst Providence, the native conscience, and good luck were to be trusted for a refund of the £20 ac- page 6 cording to the bargain made. This I cannot understand. Any man who would have trusted the Native with the money would have been a little short of a simpleton, in my humble judgment. The only practicable method of settlement appears to me to be the plan adopted, which there was no kind of objection to on the part of the Native; and if this did not amount to payment of the £40 to all intents and purposes, then one must live and learn. I humbly venture to submit that the declaration was not an act of perjury, and I most emphatically say that I at all events was not one who "got the old woman" to perjure herself by signing. What Mr. Cunningham's guilt, or Major Brown's, or Mr. Humphries' is I do not know. I saw none of it in the way of deceit or inducement at all events. I have known Major Brown, whom I mention as perhaps the most important functionary on that occasion, many years as an upright and very fearless man, and with the reputation of being a good Maori scholar. And I might conclude by saying that the learned District Judge's remarks have not in the least shaken my confidence in either Major Brown's ability or integrity.
I am. etc.,