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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73



Mr. Speaker.—Sir Walter Buller, were you aware that Sir Donald McLean arranged to set aside a portion of the Horowhenua Block—1,200 or 1,300 acres—for the Whatanui people?

A. I am aware of the arrangement which led to that land being allotted to descendants of Te Whatanui. There was a fight imminent between Kemp's people and the Ngatiraukawa, when Sir Donald McLean, then Native Minister, went up to the district, and, by his great personal influence, brought about a reconciliation, and effected an arrangement by which the dissatisfied party should get something. Kemp's people contended that the Ngatiraukawa had no interest in the Horowhenua Block, which had been awarded by the Native Land Court to the Muaupoko; but Major Kemp in the end promised that Te Whatanui's descendants (of that tribe) should have 1,200 acres of the block made over to them. This award was afterwards made by consent, when a general division of the block took place in the Native Land Court. This was in 1886. First of all, Major Kemp said, in effect, "I will deal with this matter myself. My individual ownership of the Papaitonga Lake is undisputed. I will cut off 1,200 acres at that end, and give it to these people, in fulfilment of my promise to McLean." He accordingly marked off 1,200 acres on the plan, along the southern boundary. But they refused to accept the proposed allotment; they wanted it elsewhere. Major Kemp then said, "I will keep this myself, and give you 1,200 acres further up"; and he accordingly marked off 1,200 acres nearer to the Horowhenua Lake. This was accepted, and Te Whatanui's descendants are in possession of it to this day. The tribe agreed to let Major Kemp retain the first 1,200 acres as his own, and the arrangement was confirmed by the Court.

Q. Are you aware that Section 14 was the land set apart?

A, It was not set apart for them, for they page 11 would not take it. It was offered and refused, They said they would prefer the other subdivision (No. 9), and Block No. 9 was granted to them accordingly. They are now in possession of that land, as I have already stated.

Q. You claim, between purchase and mortgage to own the whole of Subdivision No. 14 of the Horowhenua Block—1,200 acres?

A. Yes, the whole of it, containing 1,196 acres, for there had been 4 acres out out for road purposes. I must be allowed to give an explanation of this to the House. I took, first of all, a lease of the portion from the railway-line to the Papaitonga Lake, containing a little over 500 acres, Major Kemp promising to grant me a lease of the balance—on the other side of the railway-line—later on, as he was then arranging to give Mr. Peter Bartholomew the right to cut timber on it over a period of six years. Then I found that Mr. Peter Bartholomew had taken a lease of 100 acres for twenty-one years. I was determined that this sort of thing should go no further; so I got Major Kemp to give me a long lease covering the timber-cutting license, in order to secure to myself a twenty-one years' tenancy—that is to say, I got Kemp to give me a twenty-seven years' lease to take effect, so far as I was concerned, after the timber lease to Mr. Bartholomew had fallen in.

Q. Are you aware that when Horowhenua was subdivided in the first instance, Subdivision No. 14 was set aside to satisfy the claims of the Whatanui people?

A. Certainly not; as I have already stated, the proposal was considered, but not accepted.

Q. What interests have you acquired in this subdivision under the various headings of freehold, leasehold, and mortgage?

A. I have acquired, as freehold, two small areas of 8 acres and 4 acres respectively by purchase at £10 an acre; and by lease, having about nineteen years to run, all the rest of the block to the seaward of the railway; and by lease for twenty-one years, to take effect on the expiration of Mr. Bartholomew's lease for timber-cutting rights, the rest of the block, save Mr. Bartholomew's 100 acres: and then I have a charge over the whole to secure repayment of the £500 which I paid to Mr. Edwards.

Q. When and where did you make the last advance under the mortgage?

A. The last advance made under the mortgage was the payment made to Mr. Skerrett at the close of the Court of Appeal, the amount having been fixed by my friend Mr. Edwards. I handed Mr. Skerrett a cheque for fifty guineas, the receipt for which I will now produce. The receipt is as follows: "Received from Sir Walter Buller the sum of £52 10s., being the amount of my fee as junior counsel in the Horowhenua case in the Court of Appeal at Wellington.—C. P. Skerrett. 19th July, 1895."

Q. Was this advance not made for the purpose of allowing one of the trustees to fight the other in the Court of law?

A. The £500 advanced to Mr. Edwards was to enable Major Kemp to test this question of law. Kemp said, in effect, "I am not an owner; I am only a trustee, and it is my duty to the tribe to do this. I desire to divest myself of the land, and give it back to them; but my co-trustee must do the same." He stripped himself of his title to the land, and gave it back to the tribe. Every penny of the costs came out of Major Kemp's pocket; although an order for costs has been made by the Supreme Court against Warena Hunia, if they can be recovered.

Q. Was the deed of mortgage duly passed by a Trust Commissioner under the Native Land Fraud Prevention Act?

A. Yes; it was passed by Judge Ward, after inquiry in open Court at Wanganui, Mr. Edwards conducting the case on my behalf.

Q. Was due notice given of the Trust Com-missioner's inquiry by publication in the Gazette and Kahiti as required by the regulations?

A. I believe not; nor was that necessary under the amended rule of 1890. I have no control over the Trust Commissioner. I received notice, I think, two days afterwards that he had affixed his certificate to the deed. After this it was registered by me in Wellington under the Land Transfer Act.

Q. Was any public notice ever given, or any opportunity afforded to any person on the other side, to object to the issue of the Trust Commissioner's certificate?

A. I have no means of ascertaining that. It was done in open Court. Both sides of the Muaupoko Tribe were in Wanganui. Who of them were in Court I do not know. I was there when Mr. Edwards made the application—I was there the whole time, in fact.

Q. Is it not a fact that this certificate was obtained, and the registration effected, within two or three days of the passing of a Bill which would have prevented this being done?

A. I believe so. I believe there was a Bill within a week after this prohibiting dealings with Native lands all over the colony.