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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

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

"'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.

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