Object #1006228 from MS-Papers-0032-0319
From: Inward letters - William Halse, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0319 (28 digitised items). 28 letters addressed from New Plymouth & Taranaki
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1st. September 1856.
My dear McLean,
The Overland Mail will leave this morning, and as there will not be another opportunity for doing so, I am desirous of writing to you confidentially on the Superintendent's scheme of combining the offices of Resident Magistrate and Commissioner of Crown Lands. I say confidentially, for if my name at any time transpires as writing against the scheme, (to our Superintendent I mean) my retirement must immediately follow. If making use of this letter privately, to the Governor, or reading portions of it, will avail, you are at liberty to do so. And you will comprehend my objections to my name being used to any one else on the subject. For some reason or other, the Superintendent has taken objection to my brother continuing in the Service here, --- as he has to Mr. Flight; and as he will to me in my turn, after seeing the result of the next election. The only cause of offence my
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brother can imagine, is his having declined his vote to Tommy King for the Council, preferring to be neutral as any Elector, especially an official, may be. So after many years' servitude, after learning the language and ways of a new race, and becoming thoroughly acquainted with the natives of this district, and interested in them; with growing interests of his own, too, in the place, he is threatened with removal to some other part, without any reason for it; as, for instance, incompetency is liable to be removed, with a young family, at any time; and considering the prevailing depression, powerless to convert his home and property into cash. It appears to be so unmerited a retrogression, even though the salary in the new place is said to be something more than the dry crust and cheese rind now given to him, --- that I trust you will interpose in his behalf. The Superintendent told me, with the utmost coolness, the other day, that he did not consider my brother equal to the duties of the place; and had recommended or approved, (I forget which) of Mr. Whitely being appointed at a salary of £350. Had it been £150, it would not have sounded so harshly and iniquitously in my ears; but to be told that a new man was to have the new salary, after my brother had carried out the duties (Native for
so many years, at the old, startled me even from the lips of Charles Brown.
To return, --- The Superintendent's message contains the following, which is really the only pretext upon which he could bring his feud with the Resident Magistrate to a successful issue. "The combination proposed would, the Superintendent conceives, effect a saving to the Province equal to one half of the Commissioner's salary." In plain words, the Province could save £100 yearly, provided a man can be found to do the duties henceforth, of Commissioner of Crown Lands, (that is taking charge of the unsold lands, as regards sale, survey, and careful registration); and
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of land Claims (unravelling and arranging every claim derived from the New Zealand Company, --- regular Lawyer's work), at the £200, So on the pretext of economy, Mr. Flight, an old man, and upright Magistrate, greatly endowed with the caution so necessary in Native matters, is to be got rid of, and sent to Ahuriri, or anywhere out of the Superintendent's view; his offence, the having incurred the bitter disappointment and displeasure of the Superintendent, for deciding, as the Returning Officer, the show of hands to be, as it really was, in favour of a rival candidate. This you will believe, in Auckland, after his vindicative attacks on the "old Officials," As you have, of late, felt it yourself, and probably laughed at it. Independence on the Bench in Provincial matters, is designated thwarting the Provincial Government. And if this present Government were to last beyond its legal term, and if the Superintendent were likely to be re-elected, the General Government might
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decide on removing one of their men who happened to be displeasing to the local Power. But we are told that this will not be the case, and that the power the Superintendent cannot use rightly, will pass from him. Besides the names of several people which are mentioned as likely to be called upon to stand, I am told by Ritchie that a movement is taking place for annexation, --- the most proper thing that could be done, and fully confirmatory of Sir George Grey's views. If you will read the message carefully, (I send a copy of the "Herald") you will find no other argument in favour of the proposal. Every other is against. If the General Government will call for returns of the present duties of the Resident Magistrate's Court, it will be found that they require the whole attention of one person; whilst I could shew my task to be most onerous. The Crown Lands Department is nothing. But the Land Claims are beyond everything.
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There is no pretext whatever beyond what I have named, for taking a man off the Bench, who works well with the Native Assessors in a Province of no importance whatever, except as regards the natives; and whose conduct as a Magistrate is uniformly impartial and painstaking. It is surely no argument in favour of the combination that Sir George Grey meditated it, or was thinking of it, when Flight arrived in Wellington, --- though this is used. For what might be proper, or well enough in 1851--2, is no criterion for the altered times and increasing duties of each office. To remove Mr. Flight to Ahuriri is simply to ruin him. He has his home here, and is without the means of defraying the heavy charges that must be incurred in leaving one place and establishing a home in another, independent of the mere cost of passage, which the Superintendent says he will allow, so anxious is he to get rid of those he once hunts down. I hope my letter to you will avail Mr. Flight. As regards myself, I have not concurred in the Superintendent's proposal; neither have I been asked. He shewed me his draft message, but did not ask my opinion. I told him I had applied to the General Government
twice for an increase of salary; and that I should be satisfied with £300; and that if the Province could not afford this, I would continue the duties at the old rate, £200, with the liberty of private practice; to which he saw no objection, if the Council declined his proposal. "Especially", added he, "as I gave up practice of private business voluntarily, I was not required to do so by Sir George Grey."
You will observe, in one part of the message, the Superintendent hints at the duties of
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the Commission, as regards the alienation of lands being likely to be terminated at an early period. The plain meaning of this is, as we have supposed for a very long time, that he intends the land management for Chilman, (who does nothing without a price.) Indeed, Ritchie tells me that Mrs. Chilman almost let the thing out to Mrs. Wilson the other day, --- leaving me, --- after the next election of course, to my fate at the £200 for Resident Magistracy and Land Claims.
The natives are quiet, but old Waka informs me, --- "The feud remains."
My brother has another boy; mother and child both doing well.
Yours sincerely (Signed)
Fox and Bell called on me. Unluckily the Superintendent and Mr. Segar were with me; and we appointed to meet next day. But the fool of a Captain fired guns in the dead of night, (he was dreaming I suppose); and they all went aboard between 3 and 4. I just reached the beach in time to say good-bye to Mr. Fox. Bell was in the front boat, and out of hearing.
To:- Donald McLean Esq.
Inward letters - William Halse, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0319 (28 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
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