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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Personal Explanation

Personal Explanation.

For upwards of sixteen months I was engaged in the special work intrusted to my care by the Government, and soon after my return to the colony in November, 1898, I was astonished to find there was a misapprehension as to the special work in which I was engaged by the Government of this colony, this having been caused through a proof copy of Hansard No. 11, dated 5th August, 1898, not having undergone the usual revision. This copy of Hansard contained a reply of the Hon. the Minister for Agriculture to a question put by a member of the Opposition, the real meaning of such reply is contained in letter hereunder. This document may possibly have conveyed a wrong impression, for which purpose I regret to learn that many copies have been specially marked and freely circulated amongst many of my correspondents and friends throughout Australia, South Africa, Europe, America, Canada, and British Columbia, with the evident intention of discrediting my representation, and otherwise injuring me, although the full nature and intent of my appointment by the Government was universally known, and reported in every paper published in the colony.

As I have already received undoubted proof of the serious injury inflicted upon me owing to the false impression already conveyed by the malicious circulation of Hansard, I applied to the Hon. John McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture, for an explanation of his answer in the House of Representatives on the occasion referred to.

It is with pleasure that I now bear testimony to the prompt and generous response made by the Minister, who writes to me under date the 18th March, as follows:—

page 2
Office of the Minister of Lands, Wellington,

Dear Sir,—

Adverting to mine of the 21st December last, acknowledging the receipt of your valuable report on the hemp, kauri-gum, and other industries of the colony, I regret to learn that a false and manifestly unfair impression is sought to be made out of the answer given by me in the House of Representatives on the 5th August last, in reply to a question asked by Mr. Buchanan.

My reply meant to convey that you did not hold the position of a Civil servant under the Crown, or that you could in any way commit the colony to any engagement. It was, however, made quite clear that you were appointed a Special Commissioner by the Government for a specific purpose, vide letter of 5th June, 1897, wherein your position is clearly defined.

Recognising the good work so ably carried out by you, the Government has since your return supplemented by the substantial sum of £300 the amount originally paid towards your expenses.

Your report is now in the hands of the Government Printer, and will be ready for distribution next week.

I am cabling to the Agent-General asking him to correct as far as possible the wrong interpretation which has been placed on ray reply.

Yours very truly,

John McKenzie


John Holmes

, Esq., Wellington. Minister for Agriculture.

I also attach copy of letter dated the 22nd March instant, addressed to me by the Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, as follows

Department of Agriculture, Sir,—

Wellington, N.Z.,

Adverting to the question asked in the House of Representatives on the 5th August last, whether any report had been received from you, and the Hon. the Minister's reply thereto: I have to say that he made the statement in good faith, as when he asked if any communication had come to hand the receipt of your report of the 30th March. 1898, was overlooked. As explained to you later, a summary of the report appeared in the New Zealand Times of the 16th May, and was widely circulated. It will be seen that this was nearly three months before the statement was made in the House.

I have, &c.,

John D. Ritchie

, Secretary.

John Holmes

, Esq., Wellington.

If any evidence were wanting to prove the validity of my appointment, no stronger testimony could be produced than the letters above quoted.

It is much to be regretted that petty trade jealousies and personal animosity should have so far outweighed the good taste of a certain representative of a competing firm as to warp his judgment to such an extent that he wilfully took this un-English and unfair advantage in the distribution and postage of a misleading Hansard report, which he scattered broadcast not only among the clients of his own firm but also specially singled out my correspondents, with whom he had no connection whatever carefully marking one paragraph which he knew would convey an impression contrary to facts, which latter were within his own knowledge.

I am, &c.,

John Holmes