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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

[Speech and Examination of Sir Walter Buller at the Bar of the House of Representatives]

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Sir W. Buller.—Sir, before I proceed to any explanation, I desire to say that I submit to the decision of the House—and to express my regret—although I had no intention of committing a breach of the privileges of this House; nor was I for one moment under the impression that I had committed such an offence at the time. My sole object in writing the letter to the Minister of Lands was that it seemed to me the only means within my power of asking inquiry into the charges that the Minister had levelled against me when the Horowhenua Block Bill was in Committee of the House. I thank you, Sir, and the House also, for the opportunity of explanation now afforded me by being placed in this position. The time allowed me has been so short that it was quite impossible for me to prepare anything like a set speech; indeed, the whole time has been occupied in hunting up documents and verifying dates. I do not propose, therefore, to address you at any great length, but to give a brief history of my connection with the Horowhenua Block, and to explain some other transactions that have been referred to, and I shall then tender myself to honourable members for cross-examination. I may say, however, that I find myself placed at a great disadvantage. By the decision of the House I find I have already unwittingly committed a breach of privilege in addressing what I thought to be an extremely temperate and fair letter to the Minister of Lands; so I feel that if, in the course of my address to the House, I am led to comment in any way upon the speech which called forth my letter, I may be committing another offence—that is to say, another breach of the privileges of this House. I will therefore ask the House for its indulgence, and beg honourable members to bear in mind that I am placed at that disadvantage. I will add that I am at this further disadvantage: that I did not hear the speech made by the Minister of Lands this morning, when, as I am informed, other charges were added to those levelled against me when the Bill was in Committee. I have not had time even to see the report of the speech; and, although a member of the Government very kindly promised to get from the Minister of Lands a list of the blocks referred to by him, I have since received a message that even this cannot be supplied to me. I understand that the blocks with which my name has been connected by the Minister of Lands in a disparaging way are the Rangitikei-Manawatu Block, the Owhaoko Block and the Rangatira Block. These are the only blocks I have heard of; and therefore, if I do not refer to anything else, it is simply because I have not the information I had asked for In writing the letter complained of to the Minister of Lands I was actuated by a hope that he would, from a sense of fair-play, repeat elsewhere the words he had uttered in this House, so as to give me the opportunity of meeting him in the Supreme Court. In my letter to the Premier, which opens the correspondence that I now desire to put in [Exhibit No. 1], I gave a distinct and emphatic contradiction to all the general allegations of the Minister of Lands. What I demanded was that the charges should be formulated, in order [unclear: that] might meet and refute them. I simply claimed the right of every British subject—to meet my accuser face to face before the highest Court of the land, and to be tried by a jury of my countrymen. Of course, I am prepared to go before any Royal Commission the Government may appoint. I am ready to meet the charges there, and to challenge the strictest and closes investigation into every act of my public and private life; but I submit that I am placed as a very great disadvantage in being tried by a tribunal of the Minister's own creation, instead of by the ordinary Courts of justice. This disadvantage I must, however, accept. Before proceeding to any explanation, and speaking now, as it were, in extenuation—for I have already submitted to the right of the House and have expressed my regret for having unwittingly committed a breach of privilege—I would ask honourable members present to put them selves for a moment, in imagination, in my position. I need hardly tell them that, like the Minister of Lands, I am a self-made man. All my interests are bound up in the colony. I was born in the colony, my children were born in the colony, and I have been identified with it for more than half a century. Any distinction I may have achieved I have achieved for myself in the colony; any reputation I may have gained belongs to the colony; and I put it to honourable members, placing themselves for one moment in my position, could anything have astonished or shocked them more than to page 3 find the character of a lifetime thus wantonly assailed? I have been denounced to the country, and the most opprobrious epithets have been applied to me. And by whom? By a member of a Government that I have loyally supported—a Government with whom I was on terms of personal friendship, and whose confidence I was supposed to possess! And denounced for what? Because of my dealings with the Horowhenua Block! Without a hint of what was coming, without notice, and without a word of warning, I was held up to public opprobrium in the land of my birth! I am proud, as any British subject should be, of having been singled out by Her Majesty for the honour of knighthood; but you are told by a Minister of the Crown that, instead of being knighted by the Queen for my services, I ought to be in gaol! I have received a shorthand report of the Minister's speech, and I find that, in addition to this, the Minister of Lands said I had "robbed the Natives by getting them to sell or lease parcels of land, and, with the money, to fight one another through the legal profession." Surely by every rule of fair-play I have a right to meet these charges and disprove them. I submit that, placing themselves for a moment in my position, any one in this House would, under similar circumstances, have taken the same course that I did. I should be either less than human or more than human if I had sat silently by and, out of defence to some law of privilege, remained dumb and silent under such charges as these. My honour has been impugned, the worst motives have been imputed to me, my private character has been assailed, and I have been stigmatized as a man who ought to be in gaol; and, forsooth, because of some rule of privilege I am to remain silent! I bow to the decision of the House, but under similar circumstances I fear I should commit the same offence again. As I stated in my opening remarks, I have not attempted to prepare a speech. I must trust to my memory to a great extent for the dates and facts I shall make use of. I think the best plan will be to state my case as briefly as I can, and then invite members of the House to put me through the most fiery ordeal they can—to put any number of questions, and to search into every transaction in which I have been concerned in connection with Native lands; for I feel that I am on my trial before the country, and I say that I am prepared to challenge the closest scrutiny into every transaction I have been concerned in during the fifteen or sixteen years I was in practice. I am not conscious of ever having wronged a Native or European in connection with Native lands. I know it is impossible for any man, nay, even for an archangel from heaven, to be mixed up in Native affairs for any length of time and to escape without being the subject of suspicion. But my conscience is perfectly clear on this point: I am not conscious of having done a single thing of which I, as a gentleman, should be ashamed, or for which as a professional man I should be censured. I invite the closest possible scrutiny. With regard to the charges themselves, I shall be extremely careful not even indirectly to offend against the privileges of the House. Standing here before my peers in Parliament, I reiterate what I stated in my letter to the Premier, that I specifically, emphatically, and wholly deny every one of the allegations brought against me by the Minister of Lands. I do not say that he has purposely misrepresented me; it is perfectly clear that he knows nothing of himself, and has been misled by others, for I could not believe that even my worst enemy would formulate charges of this kind without believing them to be true. But, standing here at the bar of the House, I solemnly declare that there is not the smallest foundation in fact for any one of these serious charges; and I only ask for the opportunity of meeting them. My friend Mr. Bell, in his speech this afternoon, said that I had supplanted him in the Horowhenua matter. I know the sense in which he used the term professionally, and it was perfectly fair; but I did not supplant Mr. Bell in the ordinary sense. When I returned from England in 1892, Major Kemp came to mo and said he had been employing lawyers all over the country—Mr. Bell, Sir Robert Stout, and others—and, Maori-like, he was anxious to change his lawyer, and wanted me to take up the Horowhenua case. I was then on terms of intimacy with the late Premier, Mr. Ballance, and told him that Major Kemp had requested me to act for him in regard to the Horowhenua Block. I believed that I could rely on the Government of which Mr. Ballance was the head to see that right was done, and it was with his full knowledge that I accepted from Major Kemp a retainer signed by himself and nearly the whole of the Muaupoko Tribe. In 1892, acting on this retainer, and in the interests of the tribe, I presented a petition to this honourable House, and obtained the permission of the Chairman of the Native Affairs Committee to appear and conduct the case for Major Kemp. I examined witnesses, and addressed the Committee, and obtained a favourable report. Mr. Ballance, the then Premier, agreed to bring in legislation to give effect to the report of the Committee, but, owing to the lateness of the session, he found it impossible to do so. I had frequent interviews with Mr. Ballance at his own house, day and night, for a week or more previous to the close of the session, and, in order to protect the Muaupoko against wrong, Mr. Ballance, on the Sunday evening preceding the close of the session, summoned the Cabinet, and got his colleagues to agree by minute to a Proclamation protecting the block against any dealings. That was done by the present Government, under the direction of Mr. Ballance, and had the effect of conserving the interests of the tribe, and preventing a great wrong from being done. The effect of this Proclamation was to hang up the block for two years—that is to say, it prevented any dealing with the Horowhenua lands for two years from the issue of the Proclamation. As a condition precedent—before, indeed, the page 4 Governor had power to issue the Proclamation—it was necessary that there should be some negotiation for the purchase of the land; and, to bring the block within the Act, I induced Major Kemp to accept from the Land-purchase Department a nominal payment of £5, and to sign a voucher for it in the ordinary way; and the Government then proceeded, as I have stated, to proclaim the block. The protection afforded by that Proclamation was to endure for two whole years. Almost immediately after that, Mr. Ballance's Government sent me to England to represent New Zealand at the Imperial Institute. I was accordingly absent from the colony during the session of 1893. I had to return to the colony before the session of 1894. As a matter of fact, I came back before I had discharged my duties in connection with the Imperial Institute owing to what had happened in relation to the Horowhenua Block. I will not refer to that more particularly, because that might be a breach of privilege; but, in consequence of what happened, I came back to the colony before the session of 1894. I then presented, on Major Kemp's behalf, a petition to the House of Representatives which, with your permission, I will read, because it was drawn up by myself, and sets out very succinctly the salient points of the Horowhenua case. It says,—

"The humble petition of Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui (commonly known as Major Kemp), a Native chief of the Wanganui and Manawatu Districts, showeth,—

"1. That on the 10th day of April, 1873, an order was duly made by the Native Land Court, under the provisions of 'The Native Lands Act, 1865,' and 'The Native Lands Act, 1867,' for the issue of a certificate of title in favour of Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui (commonly known and hereinafter referred to as Major Kemp), under the 17th section of 'The Native Lands Act, 1867,' for a block of land at Horowhenua, in the District of Manawatu, in the Provincial District of Wellington, containing 52,460 acres, more or less; and that on the same day an order was made, pursuant to the provisions of the said 17th section of 'The Native Lands Act, 1867,' for the registration in the said Court of the names of 143 aboriginal natives of New Zealand, as the owners of the said land. The finding of the said Court on which these orders were based was that the Muaupoko Tribe was entitled to this land, and the list of owners was intended to include all the members of the Muaupoko Tribe so entitled. On the 27th June, 1881, a certificate of title, under the provisions of the said 17th section of 'The Native Lands Act, 1867,' was, pursuant to the said orders, duly issued by the Native Land Court, under the seal of the Court and under the hand of the Chief Judge thereof, in favour of Major Kemp for the said block of land, the effect thereof being to constitute him a trustee for the owners whose names had been registered in the Court as aforesaid.

"2. In the month of November, 1886, the said Native Land Court sat at Palmerston North for the purpose of partitioning the said block of land, upon the application of you petitioner, Major Kemp; and the Court, in the said proceedings, purported to act under the provisions of the Native Lands Acts, "The Native Land Court Act, 1880,' and 'The Native Land Division Act, 1882.'

"3. On the 25th of November three division orders were made by the said Court, with the unanimous consent of the owners then present in Court.

"4. On the 1st of November other division orders were made, by general consent, the result being that all the persons named in the Native Land Court certificate of title as owners received, on partition, some portion of the said block of land in their own right. But all the portions so awarded in severalty were covered with bush, and had never been actually occupied or resided on by the Muaupoko Tribe,

"5. The effect of the partition among the owners, so far as it had now been carried, was to leave the residential portion of the block, called Horowhenua No. XI., containing 14,975 acres, and including the whole of the Horowhenua Lake, quite intact.

"6. The tribe, having determined to keep this portion of the estate unbroken as a permanent home for the people, declined to have the partition carried any further, and moved the Court to order a certificate of title for the same, as before, in the name of your petitioner, Major Kemp.

"7. At this stage of the proceedings, Wirihana Hunia, one of the registered owners, came forward as representing the Hunia family, and objected to the order being in the name of Major Kemp alone. After a short retirement from the Court for consultation, Major Kemp agreed to admit the name of Warena [unclear: Huni] (Wirihana's younger brother) as co-trustee with himself, and he then applied to the Court to join Warena Hunia with him in the order, which was done accordingly, there being no dissentient.

"8. In giving his consent to the introduction of Warena Hunia's name, your petitioner understood that he was consenting to have a joint trustee with himself in the management of the estate for the benefit of the tribe to whom it of right belonged; and that was the universal belief among the owners then present in Court, who permitted the arrangement to be recorded unchallenged.

"9. After the division orders hereinbefore mentioned had been made a survey of the block was made, and a proper plan of the subdivision prepared for the Court; after which certificates of title were ordered to be issued in conformity with the provisions of the Land Transfer Act.

"10. In the month of February, 1890, a sitting of the Native Land Court was held at Palmerston North for the purpose of further partitioning the said parcel of land known as Horowhenua No. XI. between Major Kemp and Warena Hunia, upon the application of the latter. It then became known to your petitioner and his people that, by a fiction of law, the land had become the absolute property of page 5 the two persons named in the certifícate of title, and was unconditionally at their disposal as in their own right.

"11. The Muaupoko Tribe, who all along fully understood and believed that their interest in the said block of land was held by Major Kemp and Warena Hunia, in trust, now discovered that, without any intentional consent on their part, the whole estate had passed in law to the two persons named in the order of the Court, and that their ancestral home, on witch most of them had been born—their hocuses, their cultivations, their burial-places, and their lake-fishing grounds—had passed away from them for ever. No warning had been given to them in Court that the effect of the order to be made would be to divest the said lands from the acknowledged owners, or that it was necessary or desirable that the trust under which the said lands were held should be in any way declared or protected, Indeed, there is reason to believe that the Court itself was unaware of the full effect of the order it had made: otherwise it is difficult to conceive how it could have allowed such an order to be entered up without a word of warning to those concerned.

"12. At the sitting in February, 1890, not-withstanding that the trust in the said lands was insisted on by Major Kemp and admitted by Warena Hunia, the Native Land Court proceeded to partition the said lands as though the same were held by them in their own right, and after causing a valuation of the estate to be made, divided the said block into two parcels called Horowhenua No. XI.A, valued at £13,392, and Horowhenua No. XI.B, valued at £12,244, and awarded them to Major Kemp and Warena Hunia respectively.

"13. Major Kemp being dissatisfied with the said proceedings of the Native Land Court, appealed to the Chief Judge of the said Court for a rehearing, and a rehearing was ordered accordingly. This rehearing took place in the month of May, 1891, before Judges Mair and Scannell, when your petitioner (Major Kemp) again insisted upon the trust, and protested against the land being dealt with by the Court as the private property of the two trustees. In this course he was supported by the general body of owners then present in Court.

"14. The said Judges declined to consider or inquire into the alleged trust, believing that they had no power to do so; and they made an order on the 10th day of April, 1891, confirming the previous order for partition. The following is a copy of the judgment delivered on the said rehearing:-

"'Horowhenua No. XI.: Judgment.

"'This is a rehearing of a partition order at Palmerston North, on 10th April, 1890, at a Court presided over by Judge Trimble, deciding and allocating the relative interests of Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui and Warena Te Hakeke, the two owners in the order of the Court for a block of land called Horowhenua No. XI., Containing 14,975 acres, made on the 1st December, 1886, on partition of the Horowhenua Block of 52,000 acres, and in which partition order, dated 1st day of December, 1886, and the Land Transfer certificate, dated 19th July, 1888, issued thereon, the said Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui and Warena Te Hakeke are named as the sole owners.

"'Although questions outside the jurisdiction of the Court have been introduced into the case, the only matter with which the Court can deal decisively is the relative share of each owner as against the other; and on this the Court decides, from the evidence of every kind before it, that the decision of the original Court—that of 1890—should be confirmed, and confirms it accordingly, and orders in accordance with this decision, as well as a report to the Supreme Court on the question submitted, will be made; the partition orders to date back to the date of the original hearing, and to issue when an approved plan of the land the subject of each such order is indorsed thereon.

"'But, although the Court in making these orders is confining itself to matters within its jurisdiction, it feels bound to add that, from what has transpired during the hearing of the case, as well as what it has seen during the inspection of the block, it is very clear that the issue of the order in 1886 in favour of Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui and Warena Te Hakeke was a severe loss to the Muaupoko Tribe.

"'The partition of 1886, followed by the Land Transfer certificate, made those the sole legal owners of a piece of land which, up to that time was a part, and a most important part, of the tribal estate of Muaupoko, where from time immemorial they had lived and cultivated.

"'It is not within the province of the Court to inquire as to how or for what purpose the certificate for that piece—clearly the property of the bulk of the people of Muaupoko—was issued in the names of two persons only; but the Court feels that under the whole circumstances it is its duty to lay such facts as are within its knowledge before the Chief Judge, in order that if any application is made on the subject he would be in a position to advise as to whether it would be desirable to institute further inquiry into the whole matter, with a view to ultimate justice being done to all the parties.'

"15. Finding the Native Land Court powerless to help them, Major Kemp and other members of the Muaupoko Tribe petitioned Parliament, in the session of 1890, setting out the above facts, and praying the House to 'take such measures by legislation as will suffice to protect them and to establish the trust.

"16. The Native Affairs Committee, to which the said petition was referred, made the following report thereon:—

"'No. XI., 1890.—Petition of Major Kemp and 63 others.

"'Petitioners complain of the position Major Kemp holds as trustee for Block XI., containing 14,975 acres of land at Horowhenua, and asking Parliament to decide his position in page 6 the matter. I have the honour to report as follows:—

"'That, in the opinion of this Committee, after a lengthened hearing of witnesses, this Committee has come to the conclusion that a trust was understood to be created when the Horowhenua Block No. XI. was vested in Major Kemp and Warena Hunia; and this Major Kemp himself states was the understanding. But the legal opinion appears to be that, at this stage of the proceedings which are being conducted in the Supreme Court, no plea of the trust existing can be asked, and, if it could, would have no effect. That, under these circumstances, the necessary legislation should be provided to authorise a rehearing of the block, with the object of subdivision among the several parties concerned.—20th August, 1890.'

"17. In the session of 1891, Major Kemp and other members of the Muaupoko Tribe again petitioned the House of Representatives to the same effect as before, and with a similar result, the Committee recommending the petition to the favourable consideration of the Government.

"18. The immediate effect of the report of the Native Affairs Committee in 1891 was that a Bill was introduced by the Government and passed into law under the title of 'The Native Land Court Acts Amendment Act, 1891,' whereby the whole of this land was made 'inalienable in any manner whatsoever until the termination of the next session of the General Assembly.' And in the session of 1892 Major Kemp and 62 other members of the Muaupoko Tribe petitioned Parliament to continue this protection, and to take such other measures as would assure and establish the rights of the real owners of the land.

"19. The report of the Native Affairs Committee in 1892 was brought up too late to admit of any remedial legislation to protect the interests of the Muaupoko Tribe, and to prevent any alienation of the land in violation of the alleged trust. Mr. Ballance's Government accordingly made a nominal payment to Major Kemp, and advised His Excellency the Governor to proclaim this block under the provisions of 'The Native Land Purchases Act, 1892,' the effect thereof being to bar all private negotiations and all alienations, except to Her Majesty the Queen, for a period of two years from the date of such Proclamation. This Proclamation was issued on the day of the prorogation of Parliament, on which date the protection secured by the suspensory Act of 1891 would otherwise have lapsed.

"20. The protection of the rights of the tribe through this considerate action on the part of the Government will cease by effluxion of time in October next.

"21. An action has been commenced by Major Kemp and other members of the Muaupoko Tribe, in the Supreme Court of New Zealand, against Warena Te Hakeke (otherwise called Warena Hunia), in which the plaintiffs pray, inter alia, that the trust may be affirmed by the decree of that honourable Court; that an inquiry may be had by reference to the Native Land Court as to who are the persons entitled under the original certificate of title; that Warena Te Hakeke may be restrained by is junction from selling, transferring, or charging the said lands, or any part thereof; that the certificate of title issued to Major Kemp and Warena Hunia may be declared void as against the plaintiffs and the other members of the Muaupoko Tribe in possession of the block at the time of the issue of the said certifícate of title; and that Warena Te Hakeke, who now claims to be the absolute owner, may be dismissed from the trusteeship.

"22. Although your petitioner, Major Kemp has used all diligence in prosecuting his suit, the action cannot be tried before the Wanganui sittings at the end of September or beginning of October next, and it may be delayed consider ably beyond that date.

"23. Under all these circumstances, your petitioner and the people whom he represents have determined to approach your honourable House with a prayer for relief, for they are firmly persuaded that Parliament will not allow them to suffer through their ignorance of English laws or customs, or permit of their being stripped of their ancestral home simply because they failed to make their trustees execute a declaration of trust, as required by the Statute of Frauds, of which they had at the time no knowledge whatever, and as to the necessity for which they received no instruction or warning from the Court at the time the order for a certificate of title was made. The favourable reports made from time to time by the Native Affairs Committee, and the readiness with which the Government has extended its protecting hand, afford them an assurance that they will not approach your honourable House in vain.

"24. Your petitioner has already shown to the Committee of Native Affairs that, in agreeing to intrust their lands to the keeping of representative chiefs, the Muaupoko people were doing nothing unusual, and that, from a Maori point of view, it would never occur to them that they were conferring an absolute estate upon the persons so selected and divesting themselves in law of their inheritance—of the land on which they were residing, and upon which most of them were born. Your petitioner is prepared to show this again, if necessary, from the mouths of many credible witnesses; and, having regard to past experience in this matter, whilst fully assured of the strength and justice of his case, he feels more confidence in coming to Parliament for relief than in trusting to the intricacies and uncertainties of the law-courts.

"Wherefore your petitioner humbly prays that your honourable House will pass a measure empowering the Native Land Court to inquire into the alleged trust, and, if satisfied on such inquiry that such trust exists, to ascertain by its ordinary methods who are the persons beneficially entitled, and in what shares or proportions.

page 7

"And your petitioner will for ever pray, &c.,

"Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui."

That petition, Sir, was not reported on by the Native Affairs Committee, because it was pointed out, after a large amount of evidence had been taken, that there was a case pending in the Supreme Court, and that the Committee ought to hold its hand; but the Native Affairs Committee of the Legislative Council, before whom a similar petition was heard, proposed further remedial legislation. All this time the action in the Supreme Court was proceeding. Mr. Edwards had been retained by the Muaupoko Tribe before I came out from England, and, as a matter of professional courtesy, I allowed him to conduct the case. I simply instructed him. The case was heard in Wanganui in 1894, and, after a protracted hearing, the Chief Justice declared that there was an undefined trust, and that Horowhenua No. XI. was not the property of Major Kemp and Warena Hunia. I shall not trouble you, Sir, or honourable members, with the text of the judgment, but I will state shortly that this judgment was appealed against, and the whole matter was argued again before the full Court in Wellington. With your permission, Sir, I will read the final judgment of the Court of Appeal. But I may state here, parenthetically, to explain my position, that this No. XI. was the only part of Horowhenua in which I had any concern whatever. I was pledged to the tribe, and I came out from England expressly to look after their interests. I was pledged to see them through this business, being convinced that they were being unjustly deprived of their tribal rights. I had no concern with the other parts of Horowhenua. I understand that some portions have been sold, others leased, others mortgaged; but I do not know the name of a single purchaser, lessee, or mortgagee. I know nothing whatever of the arrangements, and have had no concern whatever in any of these transactions. Therefore I absolutely contradict the statement made by the Minister of Lands, evidently on wrong information, that I had been concerned in the selling of lands to raise money to enable the Natives to fight the case amongst themselves. When the case came on in the Supreme Court at Wanganui it was, of course, necessary to have funds. Mr. Edwards had received a hundred guineas on his retainer before I came from England, but he could not go on further unless Kemp was in a position to find money. Kemp promised to deposit £500, and there was every hope that he would be able to raise the money in Wanganui. He was unable to do so, however, and he appealed to me. I wrote a cheque for £500 and handed it to Kemp, who passed it on to Mr. Edwards. The whole of that money has been applied in the payment of costs, not a shilling coming back into my pocket. At the suggestion of Mr. Edwards, I took a mortgage over Kemp's own Block, No. XIV., the title to which is undisputed. I took a mortgage of that to secure my advance of £500, and the mortgage was submitted to the Trust Commissioner sitting at that time in Wanganui. Evidence was taken in Court, and the Trust Commissioner some days after attached his certificate. That is the only one of these land-transactions I had a personal interest in, and the whole of the money came out of my own pocket. I paid that money through Major Kemp to Mr. Edwards. I afterwards paid fifty guineas to Mr. Skerrett as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal; and I believe I am responsible to Mr. Edwards for about £500 more. That is the only other portion of the Horowhenua Block with which I have had any dealings whatever; I mean Subdivision No. XIV., in respect of which there has never been a suspicion or suggestion of a trust or any allegation of fraud. This land was awarded to Major Kemp ten years ago, and he obtained a certificate of title under the Land Transfer Act. He held undisputed possession for six years or more before I negotiated for the lease of it: that is to say, Subdivision No. XIV. is the block of which I then took a lease, subsequently purchasing two small portions of eight and four acres respectively, and the block on which I afterwards took a mortgage, as I have just mentioned. The portion of the disputed land in which I have been professionally concerned—the only portion I have had any concern with at all—is No. XI., the subject of the action in the Supreme Court. On appeal their Honours gave the following judgment:—

"In the Supreme Court of New Zealand, Wellington District.—No. 5608.

"Between Meiha Keepa te Rangihiwinui, Ihaia Taueki, Noa Te Whatamahoe, Rawinia Taueki, Te Rangimairehau, Raniera Te Whata, Makere Te Rou, Kerehi Mitiwaha and Ngariki Te Raorao, suing on behalf of themselves and all other persons in the same interest, plaintiffs; and Warena Te Hekeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, defendant; and Rangipo Mete Paetahi, Rawea Utiku, Reupena Mete Kingi, Rakera Hunia, and Hera Te Upokoiri, third parties, added by order of this honourable Court on the 4th day of July, 1894.

"This action coming on for trial at Wanganui on the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 15th days of October, 1894, before his Honour the Chief Justice, and being then ordered to stand for argument of the points of law involved therein at Wellington, and again coming on before his Honour the Chief Justice at Wellington on the 16th and 17th days of November, 1894, in the presence of counsel for the plaintiffs and for the defendant, and for Rangipo Mete Paetahi, Rawea Utiku, Reupena Mete Kingi, Rakera Hunia, and Hera Te Upokoiri, third parties, added by order of this honourable Court on the 4th day of July, 1894: Upon reading the pleadings and upon hearing the evidence of John Alexander Wilson, Edward Buckle, the plaintiffs Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, Te Rangi Mairehau, Raniora Te Whata, George Latter Scott, Kerehi Tomo, Makere Te Rou, Noa Tomo, Winara Raorao, Walter Lawry Buller, Alexander McDonald, Wirihana Hunia, Himiona Te Kowhai, the page 8 defendant Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, and Donald Fraser, and what was alleged by counsel for the plaintiffs and the defendants, and for the said third parties: this Court doth declare that the lands called Horowhenua No. XI., comprising all the lands included in the certificate of title volume 29A, folio 130, of the books of the District Land Registrar for the Land Registration District of Wellington, are held by the plaintiff Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui and the defendant Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, as trustees for the plaintiff Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui and for the persons whose names were registered in the Native Land Court under the provisions of the 17th section of 'The Native Lands Act, 1867,' as owners of the block of land at Horowhenua, in the District of Manawatu, in the Provincial District of Wellington, originally called 'Horo-whenua,' and for the successors of such of the same persons whose names were so registered aforesaid as are dead (such successors respectively taking the same shares as their respective ancestors would have been entitled to if living) for the same estates and interests (save that the same are now held for an estate of fee-simple of inheritance) and in the same proportions as the plaintiff Meiha Keepa To Rangihiwinui and such persons whoso names are so registered as aforesaid would have been entitled to in the same lands if the partition order relating to the said parcel of land called Horowhenua No. XI., made by the Native Laud Court on the 1st day of December, 1886, in favour of the plaintiff, Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, and the defendant, Warena Hunia Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, had never been made, and as though the aforesaid certificate of title under 'The Land Transfer Act, 1885,' volume 29A, folio 130, had never been issued, and as though the partition order made by the Native Land Court on the 14th day of January, 1890, whereby the Native Land Court purported to partition the said parcel of land called Horowhenua No. XI., into two blocks, called respectively Horowhenua No. XI.A and Horowhenua No. XI.B, and to award the said block of land so called Horowhenua No. XI.A to the plaintiff Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, and the said block of land called Horowhenua No. XI.B to the defendant Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, had never been made: And this Court doth adjudge and declare that the said last-mentioned partition orders made by the Native Land Court on the 14th day of January, 1890, are wholly void and of none effect: Let an inquiry be made who are the persons interested in the said parcel of land called Horowhenua No. XI., pursuant to the declaration hereinbefore contained, and who are entitled to be declared to be the representatives or successors of such of them as are dead; and let there also be an inquiry as to the respective interests of the persons so found to be interested in the said block of land called Horowhenua No. XI., and as to the respective interests therein of the representatives or successors of such of them as are dead; and for the purposes of the said inquiries let a case or cases be stated and referred to the Native Land Court for its opinio thereon, as may be found necessary: And this Court doth order and adjudge that the plaintiff, Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, and the defendant, Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, respectively, do forthwith deliver to the Registrar of this honourable Court at Wanganui, upon oath, all certificates of title, partition orders, and other documents of title in the possession or power of the plaintiff, Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, and the defendant, Warena Hunia, otherwise called Warena Te Hakeke, respectively, relating to the said block of land called Horowhenua No. XI., or to either of the subdivisions thereof, called respectively Horowhenua No. XI.A and Horowhenua No. XI.B, and that all such certificates of title, partition orders, and other documents of title shali remain in the custody of the Registrar of this honourable Court at Wanganui aforesaid, there to abide the further order of this honourable Court: And this Court doth further order and adjudge that the caveat No. 612 in the books of the District Land Registrar aforesaid, lodged by the plaintiff, Meiha Keepa Te Rangihiwinui and the caveat No. 812, in the books of the District Land Registrar aforesaid, lodged by the plaintiff Ihaia Taueki and others, do remain and continue until the further order of this honourable Court, and that the same caveats shall not be withdrawn without the order of this honourable Court: And this Court doth order and direct that a caveat, with a copy of this decree annexed thereto, be lodged by the plaintiffs with the District Land Registrar aforesaid forbidding further dealings with the said block of land called Horowhenua No. XI., and that the caveat so lodged shall remain and continue until the further order of this honourable Court: Let the following accounts be taken—namely, an account of all moneys received by, or come to the hands of, the defendant, Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, from the sale of any portions of the said parcel of land called Horowhenua No. XI. And in taking such accounts the defendant, Warena Te Hakeke, is to be charged with interest at the rate of £8 per centum per annum on all sums received by him, or come to his hands as aforesaid: And in taking such accounts, let all just allowances be made, and let the defendant, Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise Warena Hunia, within such period as may hereafter be ordered by this honourable Court, pay into the office of this honourable Court at Wanganui aforesaid the amounts, if any, which shall be certified to be due from him on the taking of the said accounts: And let the defendant, Warena Te Hakeke, otherwise called Warena Hunia, pay to the plaintiffs their costs of this action upon the highest scale as upon a sum of £5,000, with an extra allowance of £15 15s. for each of six extra days occupied by the trial, with all proper allowances for fees of Court, witnesses' expenses, and other necessary disbursements, to be taxed by the Registrar of this honourable Court at Wanganui: And let page 9 the further consideration of this action be adjourned; and any of the parties are to be at liberty to apply to this Court in Chambers as they may be advised."

The effect, Sir, of that judgment of the Court of Appeal, from which there was no dissent, was to place the whole of the 143 owners back on their ancestral lands, it being a direction to the Native Land Court to proceed, according to its own methods, to determine the individual interests of the whole of the parties. I think I may say that I was instrumental in bringing about that result; and, ever since I took a retainer, whatever I have done in connection with this Horowhenua business has been with the object of assisting the tribe in their efforts to obtain justice. I have not been mixed up in any of the numerous other transactions with the Horowhenua Block, and I know nothing whatever about them. I did on one occasion assist Mr. Peter Bartholomew to make an arrangement with Major Kemp as to cutting timber on Block No. VI., which was virtually a trust block, and drew up a short memorandum of agreement between them, leaving Mr. Edwards to prepare the timber lease. Major Kemp, who was entirely guided by my advice, came to an agreement that the royalties for the timber should be paid into a trust account at the bank, in the joint names of himself as trustee, Mr. Edwards as representing Mr. Peter Bartholomew, and Messrs. Marshall and Fitzherbert as representing the Native claimants, pending the ascertainment of title. I am correct, I think, in saying that, with this sole exception, I had no transactions of any sort in connection with the other parts of the Horowhenua Block. The only other business, indeed, that I can remember affecting the entire block was something relating to a different matter altogether. It was the getting of a deed of release executed by the whole of the Muaupoko people, with the exception of Warena Hunia and his party, which I shall now ask permission to put in. [Exhibit No. 2.] It arose out of an action which had been brought against Major Kemp in the Supreme Court, calling upon him to account for the rents and profits received by him during a period of some twenty years. It was utterly impossible for a Maori chief who kept no books, and had never done anything of the sort in his life, to produce accounts extending over a long period of time. Without any actual request from Major Kemp, I went to the district and called the tribe together, and, having explained the position to them, they: at once agreed to execute a deed of release and discharge. That deed is signed by some sixty members of the Muaupoko Tribe, and all the signatures are attested by a Magistrate, with the aid of a licensed interpreter. This had the effect of releasing Major Kemp from all responsibility in respect of these moneys. That deed was put in before the Supremo Court at Wanganui, and again before the Court of Appeal. The Court held that it was quite unreasonable that Maori chiefs should be expected to bring in accounts to show what they had received and disbursed in the name of the tribe; and the deed of discharge was held by the full Court to be sufficient. The clause in Sir James Prendergast's judgment requiring Major Kemp to render an account was accordingly struck out when the Court of Appeal made the final decree in this matter. I think, Sir, this explanation covers the whole of the ground. It has enabled me to reply to all the charges brought against me by the Minister of Lands in relation to the Horowhenua Block. These charges, I feel certain, have been founded upon a total misconception of the facts and upon utterly wrong information. I think I have given a sufficient history of the transactions referred to, and I am now in the hands of the House. I do hope that honourable members will not fail to ply me with questions, for it may be said that upon the result of this hearing largely rests my professional reputation and my fair name in the colony. My honour is at stake, and I think it is therefore due to me that I should be put through a crucial examination. I am really on my trial before the country, and, as I have no chance afforded me of meeting the charges in the ordinary way, it is due to me that honourable members should now put me through the most searching cross-examination. As I have already said, I have been at a groat disadvantage in regard to the fresh charges which have been brought against me this morning, inasmuch as I did not hear the speech of the Minister of Lands, and have not seen a report of it. But I am told by a member who was present that three blocks in which I have been concerned were referred to—namely, the Rangitikei-Manawatu Block, the Owhaoko Block, and the Rangatira Block. With your permission, Sir, I will say a few words in regard to each of those blocks. My connection with the Rangitikei-Manawatu purchase was as Assistant Land Purchase Commissioner, from 1865 to 1871, and long before I was in practice. I was at that time Resident Magistrate at Wanganui, but I was detached for special service upon the Land Purchase Commission, and I acted throughout under the direction of my late lamented friend, Dr. Featherston. I am not going to trouble the House with all the particulars. It is enough for me to say that, at the conclusion of that business, during which I myself took and witnessed no less than 1,700 Maori signatures and paid over £25,000 to the Natives, I received the warm thanks of the Superintendent of the province, officially recorded in his speech to the Council; and the acknowledgments of the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner. I also received a handsome letter of thanks from the Premier and Government of the colony for my services on that occasion, and that letter is on record in the Journals of this House. I am prepared to answer any questions of any sort or kind in regard to this Rangitikei-Manawatu purchase. Now, some members of the House may wish to know something from me about the Owhaoko lease. I was never professionally concerned in the obtaining of that lease, but I did act for Mr. Studholme in connection with a different page 10 matter—namely, in getting an application for a rehearing of the Owhaoko Block withdrawn by the Natives. I was absent in England, as the Minister of Lands has said, when Sir Robert Stout issued the memorandum containing reflections upon me. On seeing that memorandum, I immediately wrote a letter in explanation, and I must say that Sir Robert Stout gave the same publicity to my statement as he had given to his own. It was laid on the table of the House and printed in the Appendices to the Journals. That gentleman afterwards sent me an expression of regret for what he had written, and he declared openly that he was perfectly satisfied with my explanation. The principal charge was that I had acted professionally at one and the same time for three different parties, and that I was receiving pay in three directions. Amongst the comments of the Press on that occasion there appeared, I remember, the following: "Thrice happy Dr. Buller, trebly retained and three times paid." There was no ground whatever for that accusation, and my friend Sir Robert Stout, who was then Premier, was the first to acknowledge that my answer was complete, and to publish it to the world. With regard to the Rangatira Block, I cannot imagine what can possibly be alleged against me there. I certainly did fight the case for the Natives through the Native Land Court with great energy and for a continuous period of nearly two months. If I remember aright, my final address to the Court occupied nearly three days. The result was that I achieved a complete victory for the Ngatiapa Tribe. As against outside claimants, if I remember aright, they won every acre of this large block in the Upper Rangitikei District, and my own clients got a large share of it. I acted for Messrs. Donald Fraser and James Bull and the Hon. Charles Johnston in the acquisition of the block by purchase. I was paid liberally by those gentlemen for my services, and they also guaranteed my costs in the Land Court. I cannot conceive what can be alleged against me in connection with that block; but I shall be happy to answer any questions by the Minister of Lands or any other member, either in connection with that or any other block. I do not think, Sir, that I should trespass upon the indulgence of the House any further, seeing that the session is approaching its close, and that I might lose my opportunity of a full cross-examination if I continued speaking any longer. I would conclude by saying that, although I have been actively engaged in Native affairs, officially and professionally, for a period of some thirty years or more, and have probably put through more Native titles than any other solicitor in New Zealand, I defy any man to put his finger down upon one single transaction of a questionable kind in which I have ever been concerned. My conscience is absolutely clear of ever having done anything in connection with Native affairs that this House could not agree with, and which I should not be able to justify. Although I have acquired hundreds of thousands of acres of land from the Natives for clients, I may say that, with the exception of one block of a thousand acres—the Iwiros Block, which I purchased through Mr. Donald Fraser—I have never acquired Native land for myself. For my services on behalf of my clients I have received their thanks in abundance, and have always been liberally paid. I am not aware that there was anything alleged against my honour or probity in any of these transactions, but if there is a suspicion of the kind I shall be only too glad to answer any questions that may be put to me, and I promise to do so fully and without reserve.

Mr. Speaker.—I do not feel myself called upon to put any questions to Sir Walter Buller. In this House it has been the practice in cases of this kind that questions should be pat through the Speaker, and in accordance with that rule certain questions have been banded to me by the Minister of Lands, and I shall now proceed to put them to Sir Walter Buller

Sir W. Buller.—If you please, Sir.