Westbourn House Wellington
30 July 1868.
D, McLean, Esq. M. H. R.
I was in the gallery of the House last night and heard you make a statement regarding me which I am sure you would not have done, had you known that it was contrary to fact. You said something to this effect --- that "that Mr. Preece is in the employ of a certain firm in Auckland etc." thereby casting a slur upon me and endeavouring to create an impression that I was only taking the course I have in furtherance of the objects of the firms. Now I beg to inform you that I neither am nor have I even been in the employ of any firm either in Auckland or any where else, I am now, and have been since the year 1863 in business in Auckland as a Native Land Agent, and during the whole of that time I have always held an independent position.
It is true that in that capacity I was once commissioned by Messrs Brown Campbell & Co. of Auckland to purchase a certain block of land at Poverty Bay, I engaged to do it and completed the purchases as far as the Native title was concerned, and was paid my charge for doing so long ago. --- but that is a far different thing from being in their employ
I have never had any connection with them either directly or indirectly since. It is also true that while conducting that purchase I was opposed by the Provincial Government of Auckland, not because I was purchasing confiscated lands but because they wanted also to purchase the same land which I had acquired from the Native owners. There were no steps taken by the Government to confiscate those lands until some time after Mr. Whitaker had failed to obtain a purchase of portions of them, during the whole of which time he was agent for the general government.
These were the circumstances which induced me to espouse the cause of those Natives, entirely independent of any Firm or party in the colony.
Had the General Government boldly proclaimed the district under the New Zealand Settlements Act at the end of the war, it would have been a different matter, but they did nothing, nor do I believe they ever intended to do anything, they saw people from all parts expecially from Hawkes Bay, negotiating with the Natives even before I went there, and they never interposed by confiscating which they easily could have done by proclamation in the gazette, then after a Superintendent who was also general government Agent fails to effect a purchase they confiscate by a side wind, for so indeed it is, for the +Natives on the faith of the Native Lands Act have spent £2000 in surveys and now they find
the Court is a court of confiscation.
I have always had a great respect for you and still have both as a public man and a gentleman and was supprised to hear you last night speak of me in the sneering manner you did, particularly as it was in a great measure owing to my Father's assistance you have attained the position you now hold in the Colony, and I am sure you would not willingly throw dirt upon a son of his had you been thoroughly acquainted with my reasons for acting as I have done; and I again assure you that it is from pure convictions and not in the interest of any party or firm I have taken the course I have I should like much to explain more fully my views of the matter to you and had I known your address I should have called on you, the above address will find me in the meantime.
Inward letters - J W Preece, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0515 (13 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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