Object #1015100 from MS-Papers-0032-0516

4 pages written 29 Aug 1861 by James Wathan Preece in Coromandel to Sir Donald McLean in Auckland Region

From: Inward letters - James Preece, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0516 (44 digitised items). 43 letters written from Thames, Urewera and Coromandel (Stapleton), 1845-1870. Includes letter from Mary Ann Preece, 1861 re her son Wathen; letter from James Preece to his son George, 1870.

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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English (ATL)

Stapleton Coromandel
Augst. 29 1861

Dear Sir

When I forwarded the report with notes and suggestions I was prevented from writing to you in consequence of severe pain in my hand it was my wish to have accompanied it with a few remarks which I will do now.

The Notes etc. sent are the result of thirty two years observation during that time I have constantly paid close attention both to what I have heard or seen amongst the Natives in every part of the country always marking what they said amongst themselves without letting them know that I took any notice of what they were saying as they will freely deliver their own views amongst themselves when they think that you are not paying any attention, but if you let them know that you wish to procure their real opinion they speak with great caution and will only mislead you it is therefore needful to be cautious I have only mentioned a few of what they term their greaveances I could have given many more but I thought that it was better to confine myself to a few of the most striking It will require the utmost caution for the management of all Native affairs I trust that the Government will remodel the Native office and extend it or it will fail in accomplishing what is wanting to be done The office at present is very much like a child who has out grown its baby cloths, its work has greatly out grown its power both Auckland and Wellington the two great centers of Native population require a Native office with a Native Commissioner as head of the whole. There is no one so well quallified to hold that office as yourself both from the length of time that you have been engaged with the management of Native affairs as well as from your knowledge of the Natives generally For Wellington there ought to be a person well acquainted with both the language and Native affairs generally I think that the plan sketched out by me would work well if put in practice. There was one thing which I beleive to be of the greatest importance which I did not mention, it is the translation of all documents both Maori into English, and English into Maori. There ought to be a person who has resided amongst Maories for years and can not only speak good Maori but speak it as a Native speaks it a person of this kind should be appointed whose sole duty it should be not to translate but to go over all translations to correct and alter when needful this would be of the greatest value as both the construction of sentences and also the choise of words which would not strike the translator but would both elusidate the subject and enable those for whose use it was written or printed to comprehend clearly what was ment which now I am convinced they frequently cannot although not really incorrect it may be "Gika but not Reka It may be Maori but in an English dress that was the case with the Governors terms with Waikato the Natives never could understand its import the translation of the terms to the Ngatiruanui tribes was much better. This may be thought a thing of but little moment but I view it as of the greatest importance the salary of a person for that purpose would more than be paid by the good he would accomplish nothing is more needful than to enable the natives to comprehend what is ment which I am quite sure they frequently do not at the present time.

With regard to the purchase of land I am not yet convinced that any better system can be adopted than that now in use if a little more liberal scale was introduced but if it should be decided for to change it one of the two proposed be me I think would be the best but the commissioner should have nothing whatever to do with any Native affairs except the land so that no mistake may be made which would not be the case if he had a good knowledge of the Native Tenure to their lands he would be able-to keep clear of disputes, which are now so frequently happening but which would Also the appointment of Magistrates to reside in every district who would asist and guide the Natives but they must be men who are good Maori Schoolars and good moral characters if not they will do a deal of harm If judiciously chosen they may be of great asistance both to the Natives and the English.

Since writting the above I have received Te Manuhiri Tuarangi of Augst. 15 I there see for the first time the Governors Memorandum to the House I see that his plan is a move in the same direction as that proposed be me in my Notes and Suggestions I have not had time to examine it but from a casual look at it I see that there is the same fault in the translation as that mentioned by me above I will just take a sentence in the paragraph XV as translated

Kia whangaia nga tamariki, kia kakahuria, ekore e tira

Now that is not put so that it could be understood except be Natives who resided with Europeans in the first place it says 'let the children be fed let them be clothed-and then it says it cannot be done it ought to run something like this

Ekore e taia te whangai me te whakakakahu nga tamariki i te maha o nga kura

Then again in the recapitulation of the Governors opinions paragraph 1 it says Unuhia mai o ratou tikanga pai. Now unuhia is never used to elicit it is always used to remove a body a substance as unuhia te Pou unuhia mai ina mea there are several words that would be far better such as Kimihia nga whakaro me whakaatu mai e nga tangata Maori i oratou whakaaro. These are only a few notes but nearly all of the sentences could have been much better constructed to make it appear more in a Maori dress to enable the Natives clearly to comprehend what is ment I have not had time to examine but from what little I have seen the same ambiguity prevails in the English translation of the Native speeches at Kawhia which if care had been taken would have been much more clear and better understood by English readers let some person be set apart for this purpose give him a good Salary and let him alone be responsible for all translation It would take a deal of labour off the hands of the heads of Departments and be of incalculable service The Government in India Chaina and almost everywhere have found it needful to do so and I feel convinced that before long it will be found so here. The Manuhiri Tuarangi may be made of great service to the Native population if care be taken to get good and useful articles prepared for it and have them written in a plain clear Native style.

I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedient Servant
James Preece
P. S. Please to excuse the writing as my hand is very painful. J. P. D. McLean Esq. Land Purchase Department

Part of:
Inward letters - James Preece, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0516 (44 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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