May 17, 1870.
My Dear McLean,
I wonder how you should suppose I could think you "a bad correspondent" I am only too glad to get a letter from you at all, I know I have no time on my hands that I have not full employment for, and I can well imagine that you are even more pushed than I am. I therefore take a letter from you when I get one as a God send which I have no right to expect, there is however one part of your letter just reed. from Hall which is not much in the light of a benevolence, I mean where you ask me to hand you over at the shortest notice two acts of Parliament, I did smile a grim and melancholy when I came to that little requisition, and wondered, what next? I must mind in future how I talk loosely before you about outlawry acts or law in any shape, however altho' I have only the rough idea that an Outlawry act might be made so as to save trouble and save us from the consequences of a foolish theory, which we began with in this country, and have only been able to put in practice enough to accumulate troubles on our selves, yet wiser men than me, when I mentioned the thing thought well of it, Sir William Martin told me he did not condemn the idea, and that there was nothing unconstitutional in it or unprecedented, as indeed we know, well let some more experienced Legislators spin the idea into an Act of
Parliament, I have very little to say on the matter, but what I have, I shall write the day after tomorrow and send to you by post, if Hau is gone. As for amending the "Native Land Act" if I began at that I should just pull it all to pieces, and perhaps I could not get it together again, and the Chief Judge would certainly blow me from the muzzel of an ink bottle. I have already suggested officially one or two improvements and got a short official answer to adopt or even remark on what I said but to inform me that "The Chief Judge is maturing a scheme of Legislation for the next session"2- and so of course when the Chief Judge ope's his infallible mouth, let no dog bark. That is the interpretation of course, but nevertheless I am perfectly sure he will take my suggestions and if they are any good take the credit for them, for in the real working part of the N.L. Act, I recognise much which is only my own words spoken in private conversation with the Chief when the act was being concocted first, and I also caused many absurdities and unnecessary clauses to be dropped, but there are enough remaining, his Glory the Chief Judge however has heard my opinions from time to time in a very plain way on all those parts of the Acts which I consider objectionable, and I have not the slightest doubt that in the Consolidated act, which is much wanting, he will remember what I have said. I do not think it necessary than any diminution
should be made in the scale of fees - no one instance has ever occurred in my experience of any native complaining of the fees being too high, in small blocks the fees do certainly often come to from five shillings to one pound per acre, but there has never been any complaint, so much do the natives seem to value the Crown Grant and the exclusive ownership it gives them, they have often paid these fees on lands made inalienable by the Court. I think that according to the law the Court can at discretion decline to demand some of the fees, and in some very small blocks I have been thinking I might in future lighten the fees in that way - according however to my reading of the 67th. section Native Land Act 1865, the fees cannot be lightened but must be taken in full or not taken at all, the discretion given to the Judge being as to which of the fees named in the schedule he shall demand, but not as to the amount, which appears to me fixed. I have written lately to the Chief Judge on the subject of the mode of collecting the fees of the land Court, my letter was written in consequence of a letter written by Mr. G.S. Cooper to the Chief Judge on that subject having been sent to me for my information. Mr. Coopers letter is of date, Wellington March 28, 1870. You can see it at the office and I have nothing more to say on that subject, I have left it to the Chief Judge to make some fixed rule on the subject I don't
care what it may be, good, or bad, I shall act on it, I only count myself a working man in the matter, having no encouragement to meddle in things which require wisdom. On the 12th. April last I wrote to the Chief Judge to point out the discontent there exists amongst the natives here on account of the lands described as "Native Reserves" under Section 11 Act 1867, being made inalienable by that Act, without giving the Land Court any authority in the matter. The natives submit willingly to their lands being made inalienable by the Court after they have had an opportunity of saying their say on the subject in open Court, but are deeply discontented that their lands should be made inalienable by act of parliament, and without their knowledge, and cases have occurred where the inalienability of some of those lands has been both an injury to the natives and a cause of discontent against the Government. I refer you to my letter of the 12 April if you care about it.
You say that the Mangonui -Hoterene Claim was of importance, certainly it was to the Ngapuhi, as it decided their ownership to a very large tract of country though the claim itself was but 47 acres; the claim is I am certain decided correctly according to Maori law, but the claim was one of those in which the slightest sign of hesitation on the part of the Court, or want of a clear perception of the merits, would have caused the
opponents to have flared up in such style as would have probably ended in mischief, Old Marsh, who gave all the influence he could to the opponents, when he saw they were going to the wall deserted them, and I don't think there will be any more bother about the claim itself again, tho' when the whole tract of Country comes to be cut up to which the Ngapuhi have clearly proved their claim in the course of this case, the opponents may try it on again, but that will be my affair I expect, and so, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof - we must take things as they turn up.
Most of the Claims at the Waitangi Court, if not all, to which it was supposed the Government had a right were dismissed for various causes quite unconnected with the claims of the Government, Mr. White has written to me to say that he has asked for a second hearing of a Claim called Whakaangi. It came before the court under another name (Takirau) at least I think so - the Claim was for 977 acres, and the natives made out a clear story without any opposition from either natives or the Government - and on the map of the district it is not marked as government land but on the contrary is laid down as native land is in all parts of the map, I had not at the time heard that the Govt. had any claim but being suspicious I did all I could to discover if it was so, but could not, see anything to cause me to think the land really belonged to the
Government. I think I wrote to White to say that he need not trouble himself about a second hearing for Whakaangi as it was dismissed, but this may lead him astray, for since I wrote to him I have been going over my books and I find that although I informed him correctly that the claim of Whakangi was dismissed, yet I have reason to suspect that it really came before me under the name of Takirau, 977 acres - and a certificate was ordered under Act 1867 - sec. 17 - and I am rather inclined after all to think that the Natives on a secon hearing will have at least some grounds for the daim, but nevertheless a second hearing should take place if White declares it to be Govt. land. I suspect from what I have heard and seen since I have been at work here that much of the claims made by natives to Govt. lands about Mangonui and Whangaroa have arisen in consequence of very loose proceedings in the purchases of land there, I may be wrong, but if the lands have been purchased properly and write in memo. signed, there can be no trouble in proving the purchase. About Hokianga and the Bay the difficulty arises from another cause, or causes, but principally in consequence of exchanges made by Europeans with the Govt. for scrip when in many cases the land exchanged has been improperly described - and I fully expect, altho' I have managed to stave off the evil day so far, that the surplus lands will some of these
days become a source of trouble, however as I said before sufficient to the day etc. - when the time comes I shall see what to do.
Hau will tell you all about the Waima Hahunga I was almost the only Pakeha not there. I have been unwell for some time and all the time you and the Governor were here though I tried not to shew it, a horse fell with me some months ago when I was going a Courting and I expect it will be long before I get over it if ever - only the Chiefs of the distant sections of the Ngapuhi came to the Hahunga and no Rarawa except those of Hokianga who are half Ngapuhi and count in ordinary on their strength, some of the Rarawa Chiefs were there and notwithstanding that very few men of the Ngapuhi except from Hokianga were there a thousand fine men stood up in the war dance all Ngapuhi without one Rarawa. Scarcely a word of politics was spoken, a very good sign, as it proves they are conteated. I am quite saitsfied that I have always been right in saying that the Ngapuhi as a whole are increasing, particularly at Hokianga and I have no doubt they can raise fully two thousand good men, and the Rarawa about a thousand. I made peace formally between the two tribes some time ago and went straight into their Country and held a Court at Ahipara, just after the end of the Wake row, but at the Hahunga the peace was mentioned, and ratafied
and the Chiefs of both tribes exhorted each other to pull together in future, which is what I have been aiming at ever since we had the row for more reasons than one.
I was dreadfully unwell when you were here, much more so than I let be seen lest I should spoil sport, I am however concious it made me absent, and stupid, and if in consequence if I appeared to have been less polite, or shew less consideration to the Governor and his friends than I ought I beg you will ask him to excuse me, for I was half crazy all the time with acute pain.
This is only as an excuse for a letter there are several hundreds of fellows here just back from te Hahunga and I am scrawling away hurry scurry any how, and every two minutes interrupted by some fellow coming to ask if his Crown Grant is cooked yet.
The state of native matters in the North has never been more favourable or encouraging than at the present time, and to the south things get better every day, at present Waikato, notwithstanding appearances, is the only place I have not made up my mind about, not that I fear danger from that quarter, but for all that they have not made up their minds to their fate yet, and at the same time they fear us worse than the Devil on account of the force of their own countrymen which we could, if put to it, send to ravage them. I think the Opposition won't be able to find an opening in your armour on native
affairs at least.
Carleton has been looking up again canvassing amongst the natives and he says with success. He says he will try it on to the last, but I dont believe he will win, nor do I believe what he says of the natives voting for him, all the Pakehas in Hokianga are against him point blank, and the natives are pretty sure to follow, it is a great pity that some other person than McLeod does not oppose him for many won't vote for either McLeod or him, Carleton has been pushing me very hard to help him and seeing he could not make me a partisan has two or three times in a nasty spitefull way tried to find fault with some of my doings in the land Court, and all that he made of it was that on one occasion before a great many people I turned himself and his thick headed brother in law into such laughing stocks, and ridiculed them to such a degree, that he will never forgive me, I shewed them that the Judge of the N.L.C. knows a few things they did not dream of in the way of law, both Club, and the other variety. However if he looses he will be down on me, but I am his match any day.
Hau has been here one day and starts tomorrow, I hope he may turn out some use to you, and I am sure being employed as he is, is doing him a great deal of good, and making a man of the world of him.
There now, there is a pretty scrawl, as my old writing master used to say. I wonder if you can read the half of it, so much the better if you can't, you will think the more of it. I am off to Ahipara in about a week, and I declare rather than appear to be unwilling to oblige you I shall write some more nonsence the day after tomorrow about the outlawry notion, though I actually have nothing more to say than what I have said to you formerly, try Sir W. Martin, he is the man to work it up. and if you were to rough out a bill I could look over it and comment, I am pretty good at that, tomorrow I must devote to the office.
I am My Dear McLean,
Yours most sincerely,