I have the honor to forward you herewith a copy of His Honor Judge Barton's judgments in the matter of my applications, under "Native Land (Validation of Titles) Act, 1892," to investigate my titles in the above Blocks, delivered after a full and searching inquiry, lasting for nearly two months, when the voluminous evidence for and against the shares claimed by me was brought forward and argued by Counsel, both on behalf of the Natives and myself, and adjudged upon, with the result that certain shares claimed under deeds of purchase by mo will be certified as honest and fair transactions for validation; while other shares, which I claimed, have been disallowed by the Court for reasons given in the judgments.
As Section 17 of the said Act provides that the Certificate given by the Validating Court shall have no effect until such Certificate has been confirmed by Act of the General Assembly, in consequence of which at the ensuing session of Parliament it will be asked to give effect to the Certificate by passing an Act to that effect. As I anticipate that the Natives, with their usual pugnacious disposition, will make all opposition possible, backed up by their legal adviser, Mr. W. L. Rees, who is a member of the General Assembly; I earnestly ask, in order that I may get justice, that you yourself will, before Parliament meets, read through and consider the judgments which I am now forwarding you, in order that you may be placed in possession of the full and able manner in which the Court has inquired into and adjudged upon the purchases through which I claim, and that you may be in a position to judge for yourself as to whether the conclusions come to by the Court are not just and right in case they should be questioned through any source whatsoever when the matter comes before Parliament. And upon a careful perusal of these judgments I do not fear but that you will approve of the conclusions come to by the Validating Court, and will support any necessary measure to give effect to the Certificate of the Court, at the ensuing session of Parliament.
I may state that I have paid about £16,000 for this property up to the present time, independent of the expensive and heavy law costs that are now being incurred in order to prove my rights under the Validation Act of last session.
In no one instance during the whole course of the enquiry has there been any color of fraud shewn in any individual transaction, and it has been shewn that at the time that each Native signed the deed of conveyance they fully believed and understood they were parting with their interests in the land absolutely, and that the consideration for the sale was actually paid to each individual Native at the time they signed, with two exception,—viz., to Panapa Waihopa (referred to on page 3 of the judgment), and to Wi Kihitu's Trustee (referred to in page 7 of the judgment), the particulars of which are fully dealt with there. All available Natives who had sold were called upon to give evidence before the Validating Court in the matter of their sales, and with the exception of those who had some particular grievance, which was thoroughly sifted by the Court and adjudged upon, they consented to and acknowledged their sales.page break
Since these judgments have been delivered, and in course of attempts on my behalf to come to an amicable settlement with the Natives at this stage of the enquiry, and thereby avoiding the troublesome work of the Court having to inquire and ascertain each individual Native's share according to ancestoral rights, it has been urged by Mr. Rees, on behalf of the Natives, as grounds for objecting to meet me in a liberal and fair manner, and in asking me to forgo quite half of my rights in these Blocks (so far as my rights at present can be judged) in favor of the Native non-sellers, that the Validating Court has passed the shares of infants, and also that there are Natives in these Blocks that have not sufficient lands left for their support and maintenance, and thereby increasing the probability of Parliament not giving effect to the Certificate of the Validating Court, as I anticipate that these matters will again be urged to the Parliament.
I take this opportunity of pointing out that there is only one share of an infant that the Court will certify for validation, and that being the share Mini Kerekere, dealt with and referred to in in pages 9, 10, and 12 of the judgments, which I would ask you to take special notice of. As regards the other obstacle that has been raised on behalf the Natives, it is answered at once by the fact of the Trust Commissioner's certificate being affixed to every one of the deeds; and by section 6 of the Native Lauds Frauds Prevention Act, 1881, which was in force when the Trust Commissioner affixed his signature to the deeds, the duty is cast upon the Trust Commissioner to inquire and see that each Native has sufficient land left for their support before he grants his certificate, which has in every case been done. This is further supported by the declarations made by the Native vendors themselves. In clause 5 of these declarations they expressly declare that they have sufficient land left for their support, independent of the land they are then alienating, and sets out the particular lands. In the majority of cases these declarations were produced to the Validation Court, and, by consent, certified copies were lodged with the evidence in these matters, which you could refer to, if necessary.
The only other remaining difficulties are the cardinal difficulties surrounding all such purchases. Under the Native Lands Act of 1873, and amendments thereto, which are declared void by recent decisions of the the Supreme Court, for which the Validation Act of last session was expressly intended to cure, and upon reference to my sworn testimony given before the Validating Court, which will be transmitted to Parliament, you will see that on the 22nd August, 1885, when I purchased this property and paid £11,000 for it, I purchased it in good faith and bona fide, believing that the purchases already made from the Natives were valid and effectual, and upon that belief I made further purchases of shares from the Natives, until the decision of Poaka v. Ward, declaring such purchases to be invalid was made known, when I at once ceased to make any further purchases in these lands from the Natives, and had I known that the purchases from the Natives were invalid and not in accordance with law, I should certainly not have had anything to do with the property whatever.
In conclusion, I would ask you to give the matter your attention when it comes before Parliament, and in the meantime to peruse and consider the judgments which I am now forwarding to you.
F. J. Tiffen.