Object #1014465 from MS-Papers-0032-0010
From: Secretary, Native Department - Administration of native affairs, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0010 (29 digitised items). Includes papers relating to the activites of Ngati Toa and its allies along the Kapiti Coast at Wainui, Whareroa, Te Uruhi, Waikanae, Otaki, Ohau, and Porouatawhao ca 1860. This was a period when the colonial settlers at Wellington thought themselves to be under imminent attack by Ngati Toa and others. Wi Tako Ngatata's activities were under suspicion as well (ie Wi Tako left the Hutt Valley with a mounted escort of sixty seven well-armed men from Waikanae and Whareroa).
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18 October, 1860.
I see by the proceeding of our Parliament, that Mr. F.D. Fenton, ex Magistrate in the Waikato Dist. has by some means or other interested certain Members of the Genl. Assembly to cause Enquiry into the cause of his removal from that District, and that a statement has or will be brought forward ''that Mr. Fenton's removal was regarded as a great loss by both races, and that equal satisfaction was felt both by Europeans and Maories with his administration of justice.
It must grieve a honest mind to perceive the underhand machinations by means of which this Enquiry has been come to - years have been allowed to pass away obliterating, and difficulties (in the shape of war and rumors of war, have been taken advantage of) which are making it all but impossible to collect, now, the proves of the gross mismanagement of Fenton's administration in the Waikato.
May I ask why Fenton or his Exc. did not demand for an Enquiry when years ago the only paper independent of Govt. of Fenton's private influence ''the Examiner'' made it public how Fenton at the meeting of Paetae in 1857 sowed the seeds of that crime which had develloped itself to such gi gantic dimensions, as to make the Waikato natives tho'roly dishonest as a body - repudiating by unanimous consent in their Runangas to pay their debts to Govt. or private individuals of the ''white skin''?
If there had been the slightest inveracity in the charge brought publicly against Fenton, why was there nobody in the inland to take it up? to prove it calumnious? that Armitage made a pitiful trial
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to repudiate the charge cannot be considered even as an attempt at refutation. Knowing how Fenton and Armitage were connected to one another -
And has that charge against Fenton not been clenched by a declaration published in the said paper by three native Assessors (which 3 individuals have remained at home, now, when hundereds of their neighbors have gone to New Plymouth)?
Did any body make any attempt to insinuate that this declaration has been got surruptitiously or that the signatures were forged? No - and for a very final reason - because the truth of it was known by every native in the whole Waikato and Waipa; and it was but a matter of time to get 300 instead of 3 to make the said declaration.
Mr. Fenton had no residence on the Waikato during his Magistracy there - nobody knew where to find him when wanted - his visits to the District were, to my best recollection, 3 times in the twelve month - then, too, he appeared late in the evening at a village without any of the scattered inhabitants of either race knowing anything about it except accidentally - and next morning he was gone before business hours.
Rangiawhia, where Europeans are most numerously scattered over the country - he only visited once, and then he only stopped long enough to allow some of the inhabitants to learn of his unexpected arrival - they mustered and went to Otawhao to avail themselves of the opportunity to settle the pendences accumulated by two years of no Law, but Fenton was gone.
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I only heard of one case tried by Fenton in favor of a European during his Magistracy of two years - a case of Mr. Armitage - regarding a Stable sold by Armitage to a native before the meeting at Paetae and adjudicated long after - against Fenton's own Law not to adjudicate anything that took place before that date - and when Mr. Oldfield ask a summons to get payment for a horse - Mr. Fenton refused granting it, aducing as the cause of difference in these two cases that Armitage's Stable was a ''valuable consideration''.
I never heard a European Settler speak in praise of Fenton's proceedings as Magistrate in the Waikato - never - but general and unmitigated complaints of utter neglect, even the natives were forming songs about Fenton - in Waingaroa the song purported that Fenton was transacting his business ''one foot in the canoe and one on shore'' and in the Waikato that he had ''burning Coals under his heels''. Fenton kept the natives sweetened by promises to supply them with grass-seed and sheep, and when the natives found that these promises were mere smoke they loudly complaint about it - Some come to me to assist them to bring their complaints to the Knowledge of the Govt. or Public but the news having reached just then of Fenton's removal - put a stop to it.
I do not know by what Criterion his Ex. is judging of the inefficiency of a Magistrate - Petitions for his removal? in the whole Waipa we were only 5 or 6 europeans, what effect would a Petition have signed by so few?
Rangiawhia was continually expecting Fenton's beginning
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to act as Magistrate - and never saw the day - the natives were waiting the fulfilment of Fenton's promises, and found themselves deceived when Fenton was gone - Or does his Ex. judge by the decisions upon appeals to the Supreme Court? I hope that it will be tho'roly understood that appeals are unattainable to the two races inland - all of them without exception are too poor in time and purse to indulge in appeals - they are out of our reach - if an unjust individual is appointed Magistrate to an inland district, he may play his unearthly pranks, he may play the despot with all but no fear of consequences, mention of it in a newspaper is the most he may expect - and how easy is it for him, in such a case, to depict the attack as the effect of private revate - or the utterance of a European Savage - a mean trader - or God knows what, and there it rests.
I too was mulct in £12 by Fenton in a trial which would have been scouted in an English Court, instituted to flatter Mr. Ashwell's vindictive feelings for an exchange of ill words between him and me.
I noted an appeal under the sense of the unlawful proceedings but considering afterwards the expense and time it would require - and remembering St. Paul's advise "Why do ye not rather suffer wrong" I purposed to abide the Christian advise
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and as for the Slur that an unjust Magistrate may throw upon a person's name - poor must his mind be if he cannot dispise it in the enjoyment of a conscience at peace with his Maker.
When Fenton reached any of the places where he used to pass a night - he got surrounded for long hours in the dead of the night by native Assessors and other natives - these native Assessors were acting as Magistrates in their own villages and intentionally and unintentionally committed frequent unfairness by their decisions among themselves and towards their European neighbors - in these nightly palavers the Assessors depicted these cases to Fenton according to their own interests - and next morning when the injured party arrived to appeal against the native Magistrate - Fenton was gone - three times I have been so disappointed - that Fenton was scattering his' decisions on the statements of one party only in private conference, forgetting the golden rule ''Audi alteram partem'' I know by my own experience - late one afternoon Messrs. Fenton and Carleton passed in a canoe my dwelling - that same morning I got a Native Assessor to execute a distress - the first and only one that ever took place on the Waipa (I wished slowly to accustom them to submit to the requirements of the Law - the amount was a trifle - 2/6) I went overland to see Fenton at the village I supposed
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he would stop - the native Assessor, elated by his days success was detailing the particulars of thecase to Fenton - and upon the Assessors and my statements Mr. Fenton highly approved our proceedings - how very unfair was that approval of Fenton - he ought to have expressed that unless the diffendant had appealed to him he had no opportunity to examine the particulars of the case and abstained from either approving or disapproving.
A serious case of that description is mentioned in the printed slip I am including to my present- the injured party was Noa - the Chief of the Ngatikoura - he and his wife - both exemplary natives - died a few weeks ago.
In this case of Noa's, Mr. Fenton expressed to me in our conversation on the subject - that to revert Ta Kerei's proceedings would ''injure his (Ta Kerei's) dignity'' - how tho'roly the Laws of God are condemning the paying respect to persons in the execution of justice I have no need to mention. It is by the accumulation of such expressions and acts on Fenton's part that the utter unworthiness of the man is impressed upon my mind - and so far from any truth being in Fenton's removal having proyed a loss - his absence having been regretted, and such like, I never heard yet a European speaking about Fenton but with detestation and
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contempt - accusing him as one of the parties who contributed to bring the Waikato dist. to the state it is now - undermining the natives feelings of respect for their European neighbors - putting Lawbooks in their hands which made them insane - and which books are now manufactured into cartridges - increasing that self conceit and pride in a race who ought to have looked up to the Europeans as their teachers for many a generation yet - Europeans, who never come into any contact with Fenton sharing the same feeling - Mr. Chandler's oppinion is that Fenton is made of the very materials that would make another Charley Davies for the natives - Ch. Broadbent, now in Auckland can testify to the truth of my statement, Jenkins depicted Fenton as most contemptible and mean - there Th. Powers of Rangiawhia - there Capt. Johnstone of Raglan - James Greenhill - Mr. Shepherd of Waiuku, Mr. John Cowell refused Fenton a night's shelter under his roof - and all and every European up the country sharing in the same feeling towards Fenton - even Mr. Armittage, in private conversation years ago said to me that Fenton never stepped out of his road in all his lifetime to oblige a friend - tho' publicly A's language would be very different as I suppose he is still
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aspiring to the Magistracy - the only exception, I hear, are the Missionaries in whose comfortable homes Fenton enjoyed their hospitality, of course, most willing to do for the Missionaries anything in his power as reciprocation.
Time and ability fail me to enlarge on the argument, I shall only remark one circumstance more and then drop it, in Fenton's trial against me one of my witnesses was Mr. John Ferguson of Hwatahwata - when Fenton perceived that the man is speaking boldly in my favor, he interrupted Ferguson with a severe look saying ''I must caution you to be aware that you are upon your oath etc'' Ferguson being a honest, upright, but illiterate man, the uncalled for severity of the interruption made the man believe that he was committing himself by declaring boldly what he knew about the argument, it shook every breath of wind out of his sails - there was scarcely a yes or no left in him - and thecase went against me.
I am but a poor and ignorant man - no ways able to cope with a subtil lawyer - besides not all truths can always be proved - plenty of time has been taken, too, to allow Mr. Fenton's footprints in the Waikato to be effaced - many of the settlers of those times have since removed etc. others are over whelmed in anxieties thro' the aspect of the country - please to consider my present as private in those particulars which could be used as an argument of action by him against me.
With my highest esteem, I have the honor to remain,
Your most humble Servt.,
Ch. Hy. Strauss.
We fully confirm the contempt with which Mr. Fenton's name is mentioned by the settlers of the whole inland to the present day.
John Ferguson. Richard Ferguson.
To:-- D. McLean Esq.Auckland
Secretary, Native Department - Administration of native affairs, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0010 (29 digitised items)
Series 7 Official papers, Reference Number Series 7 Official papers (3737 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
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