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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73


page III


Every man, whatever his station in life, owes it as a first duty—not only to his immediate friends, his family and himself, but to the community in which he lives and to society at large—that he should keep his fair name unsullied, and repel, by every means in his power and at any cost, all aspersions on his character. I feel that, in my own ease, I owe a further duty to the honourable profession to which I belong, to the Royal Society of which I am a Fellow, and to the Noble and Distinguished Order of Knighthood to which my Sovereign has graciously called me.

Under these circumstances no apology is needed for reprinting, for circulation in pamphlet form, the defence which I was permitted to make at the Bar of the House on Monday evening, October 28th, in order thereby to secure for it a wider publicity than it would otherwise command. A few explanatory words, however, may not be out of place, so as to make the position perfectly clear to those who may not have followed the history of the case.

During the all-night sitting of the House of Representatives, on October 25-26, when the Horowhenua Block Bill was in Committee of the whole House, Mr. H. D. Bell, one of the members for Wellington City, made a strong attack upon the principle of this measure, characterising it as an interference with private rights, and an attempt on the part of the Government to reverse a judgment of the Supreme Court and of the Court of Appeal, and expressing his opinion that it was "a public shame and scandal that Parliament should be asked to pass such a measure smuggled in during the last hours of the session." The following report of what followed is from the New Zealand Times, of October 26th:—"The Minister in charge of the Bill (the Hon. J. McKenzie) with equal warmth retorted that it was a scandal and a shame, but not upon the Government. Since he had been a Minister he had come across some disgraceful dealings, but none to equal those in connection with this Block. Sir Walter Buller was a man knighted by Her Majesty, presumably for good conduct, and who ought to be in gaol for his dealings with the natives. He had assisted Major Kemp to rob the natives by getting them to sell parcels of land, and with the money fighting each other through the legal profession. Enquiry was needed into the dealings in connection with the Block, and it would be found that all he had said was borne out by the facts."

Immediately on seeing this report, which took me completely by surprise, I wrote to the Premier demanding to be informed whether Mr. McKenzie's remarks had the authority or approval of himself or his colleagues, and page IV forwarding to him a copy of the following letter which I had that morning addressed to the Minister of Lands:—