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Proceedings of of the Kohimarama Conference, Comprising Nos. 13 to 18 of the "Maori Messenger."

Wednesday, July 18, 1860

Wednesday, July 18, 1860.

The Native Secretary announced the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor and proceeded to read:—

Message No 2.

Thomas Gore Browne, Governor.—

In his opening speech the Governor assured the Chiefs assembled at Kohimarama, that the Treaty of Waitangi will be maintained inviolate by Her Majesty's Government. He now invites them to consider the difficulties and complications attending the ownership of land, and trusts they will be, able to devise some plan for removing or simplifying them.

It is well known that nearly all the feuds and wars between different tribes in New Zealand, have originated in the uncertain tenure by which land is now held. Very many disagreements would in future be avoided if the possession of land from any page 30 fixed date—say, 20 years,—were recognised as giving the possessor a good title.

Such a limitation would be in accordance with the law which prevails in England.

It is very desirable that some general principles regulating the boundaries of land belonging to different tribes should be generally received and adopted; for, until the rights of property are clearly defined, progress in civilisation must be both slow and uncertain When disputes arise between different tribes in reference to land, they might be referred to a committee of disinterested and influential chiefs, selected at a conference similar to the one now held at Kohimarama.

There is also a simpler plan universally adopted in Hindostan, which appears well suited to the circumstances of New Zealand, viz., when men cannot agree as to their respective rights, each party chooses two persons—and these four choose a chief of another tribe having no interest in the matter disputed. Then the five sit in judgment, and decide who is right and who is wrong; but before they pronounce judgment, both the contending parties solemnly engage to abide by it.

The Governor earnestly desires to see the chiefs and people of New Zealand in secure, possession of land, which they can transmit to their children, and about which there could be no dispute. Some land might be held in common for tribal purposes; but he would like to see every chief and every member of page 31 his tribe in possession of a Crown Grant, for as much land as they could possibly desire or use. When a dispute arises about a Crown Grant, the proprieter need neither go to War nor appeal to the Government: he can go at once to the proper Court, and, if he is right, the Judge will give him possession, and the Law will protect him in it.

Tribal jealousies and disputes, however, interfere to prevent individuals from obtaining Crown Grants; and they will continue to do so, and cause quarrels and bloodshed, until men grow wiser, and learn that the rights of an individual should be as carefully guarded as those of a community.

It is essential to the peace and prosperity of the Maori people that some plan for settling disputes about land should be adopted; the Governor therefore hopes that the Chiefs will consider the subject carefully and dispassionately, and assures them that he will gladly co-operate with them in carrying into effect any system that they can recommend, provided it will really attain the desired end.

Government House, July 18, 1860.

page 32

In introducing this Message, the Native Secretary observed:—That the Governor was most anxious that some means should be devised by the Chiefs of the Conference to define tribal boundaries, and make such a sub-division of property among tribes, families, and individuals, as would secure to them their landed rights, on a more certain foundation than now existed. The Chiefs present were all aware that land was the main source of many of their difficulties; occasioning loss of life, and affecting the property of both races. No fixed law on the subject could be said to exist, except the "Law of Might." It was true, various customs relating to Native tenure existed; but these were not in any way permanent; and the endless complications of such customs were eventually resolved into the law of might. Paora, one of the Ngatiwhatua Chiefs present, had stated that one law did not exist with the Europeans and Natives about land. This was true, inasmuch as the Native has no fixed law to regulate the rights of property. How, therefore, could it be expected that one law should prevail? The European has a law to guide him on this subject; the Native has no well-defined law. The Governor had long thought of this subject, and he availed himself of the present Conference of Chiefs to place his own views before them, in the hope that they would co-operate with him to devise such a measure as would simplify Native tenure, and enable them to leave the land they inherit in the quiet and undisturbed possession of their chidren. Scarcely a year passed without our hearing of war about land in some part of New Zealand. At Tauranga the Natives had been fighting very lately. Also at Whakatane, Tunapahore, Upper Wanganui, Hawkes' Bay, Ngapuhi, Te Ihutaroa, and now at Taranaki. It was asserted by some, that these wars had been occasioned by Government land purchasers. This was untrue. The Government used every endeavour to prevent quarrels in conducting the purchase of land; and at those districts throughout New Zealand where no land had been purchased, such as Te Ihutaroa, and other places with which the Government did not interfere, bloody feuds were carried on between the different tribes from time to time. Powerful tribes took possession of land by driving off or exterminating the original inhabitants. Those in their turn drove off other less powerful tribes. The conqueror enjoyed the property while he had the power of keeping it. None were certain how long they could occupy the land in peace. It was true that Christianity introduced a different state of things. By its influences the conquered were permitted to re-establish themselves on page 33 the lands of their ancestors. In process of time, however, the conquered encroached too far on the formerly recognised rights of the conqueror, occasioning up to the present day, much bitterness of feeling between these two classes of claimants. Tribes vary in their customs about land, bat after all, their various customs are liable to be superseded by the Law of Might. He would not detain them longer, but wished them to consider this message well before they expressed an opinion on it. If any felt anxious to express their opinion at once, he invited them to do so.

Tukihaumene (Ngatiwhakaue, Rotorua):—You have put aside the first words. After two days speaking yon have changed the subject to the land. What you say is right, your speech is correct. When this point is settled then perhaps land will be surrendered to the Queen. I have no land. What causes evil in the world? For what purpose are guns, powder, and ball made? It was the possession of these which enabled Hongi Hika to subdue the land. Cease to talk of (finding a remedy for all) evils. Rather let the question for this Conference be the recognition of the authority of the Queen and the Governor. Will the subdivision of their lands save the people? I think this subject (the land) may be let alone. I have no land.

Tamihana Te Rauparaha (Ngatitoa, Otaki):—This is a matter quite clear to my understanding: This message of the Governor's which has just been read. My desire is that it should be printed in order that this Conference may consider it.

Parakaia Tararoa (Tuhourangi, Tarawera):—I have nothing to say. I came to state my views. I have acknowledged the Queen. It was Te Arawa's (tribe) that desired to acknowledge the Queen's authority; (addressing the Rananga) you have already decided the course yon intend to follow, and all that remains for me is to consent. Te Arawa, if you do wrong, I will myself take you to prison.

Matenga (Tuhourangi, Tarawera):—I will just address Te Arawa. The Arawa have said that this is the house most secure against the weather (union with the Government). We, who come after, have only to enter and avail ourselves of the shelter. Let your oath be true: swear not falsely before God. I will speak a word, and put forth my idea as to where the Governor's proceedings were wrong (referring to Wiremu Kingi). It was in page 34 Governor Grey's time that I first recognized the authority of the Government. I did not see any fault then or since up to the time of Governor Browne. Governor Browne had not resided here many years when his quarrel commenced, with Te Rangitake: this is where I blame him. He is a parent. Te Rangitake is a child. Viewing it in this light, when he saw his child committing a fault, why did he not rebuke him and say to him "you are wrong in hastening into war"? But you were both hasty in proceeding to hostilities. If you had administered this rebuke in love, the minds of all men would have been clear. Wherefore I say let the oath be truly kept. This, is my only complaint against the Governor. His good acts I have seen. He has explained the laws to us: they are understood by all the people. I say, therefore, nothing has been withheld: all the people are informed. Do you listen to what I have to say about my true oath. A man of our tribe was killed in the midst of the Ngatitematera. It it had been dealt with according to Maori Custom, no one could say what would have been done. But the law constrained me and it was settled according to law. According to your view the case was not one of murder but death by accident. I accepted this view, and so it was settled. With respect to the King and the land.—According to my idea this King is like a crying, fretful child. You brought your good things: they were eagerly sought after by the Maori, but he could not attain the standing of the Pakeha; he then parted with his lands to the pakeha in order to become possessed of money, because he and the Governor were friends—for Potatau was your loving friend. He understood the system of the Queen's Government, that it rested upon the principle of having one Chief. He perceived the means by which the Queen became great: by her councils and by money. As soon as he had acquired this knowledge he separated himself from the shadow of the Governor, and set up a king for himself. If the Governor has a desire to bring this to nought, this is my opinion: stop all the channels of money and clothing throughout New Zealand, and prevent the Europeans, living in Native districts from giving money to any of the King's followers. ln order that you may distinguish your people let them bear a mark on their forehead. If the King's men should come to sell wheat or pigs, do not buy them, lest that King become possessed of money. If you adopt this plan this King will not become great; it will not be long before the scheme dies away according to the words of Scripture "the works of man shall be brought to nought." This is all I have to suggest in reference to the King (movement). This is about the land. It is, in accordance with my opinion that it should be divided that each man should have a certain number of acres, that he may be able to sell his portion to the Europeans without creating confusion. My speech is ended.

page 35

Himiona (Tuhourangi, Tarawera):—Listen; I am a stranger to the practices of years gone by. The first thing you introduced was the faith (Christianity). I stretched forth my hand and grasped it firmly, for I saw by adopting this, I should save both my body and my soul. After this came the law. I saw its benefit, and adopted it forthwith. The reason why I approved of it was, it was a means of correcting all that went wrong. After this, you showed us the magistrates and the runanga. We adopted these. Our reason for so doing was that by these the law would be upheld—the flag of the Queen to overshadow all these. Within this present year, for the first time, you have introduced the killing of men. At this I stood erect. I thought within myself, this an error of the Governor's. He did not show us this before. The only thing he shewed us was the chastening of God. "The Lord chasteneth whom he loveth." This is the chastening of which I approve for those who persist in doing evil. The requirements of Christianity I understand; but the law I do not fully understand. My thoughts concerning the law are not mature; nevertheless, I entirely accept the Queen's Government, whether you introduce things evil or things good.

Respecting the King: we are unanimously agreed in one opinion respecting that. Stop the money and all kinds of property, because they are derived from you.

Regarding this war (Taranaki), our earnest desire is that peace should be made. Should the Governor say it is out of his power, let this runanga petition the Queen.

Tohi Te Ururangi (Ngatiwhakaue, Maketu):—Listen! Where is the error of the Governor's proceedings? Is it in the correctness of the statements of the Government? The bane of this country, New Zealand, is as the Governor has stated, the land. There is life sacrificed at Tauranga. The cause is land. The same at Whakatane, Torere, Rotorua, and Tarawera.

Friends, listen! The words of the Governor are quite correct, and I approve of them. Now let us adopt the suggestions of the Governor respecting our lands; and get them all surveyed, lest perplexities should hereafter arise; that I and mine may avoid the chance of a dispute with my younger brother; that I may leave my piece of land unencumbered to my child in the event of my death. If a man surveys his own piece (of land) there are no future grounds for another's interference. Let our lands be settled according to law; that we may rest in peace. Let us consent; give it into my hand, that I may present it to the Governor.

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Kihirini (Tuhourangi, Tarawera):—The ground for our first recognizing the Queen's authority was our own quarrels. We were but few in number; we reclined upon the Queen's Government as upon a pillow. Our acquiescence now is as it was then. We shall not turn backwards, for we are gone to return no more; That is all on that subject. My opinion respecting the King: I do not approve of the King movement; no good will come of it, none whatever. If this had been a system handed down from our ancestors, we might have rested upon it; but it is an idea snatched from you. Nothing good will ever proceed from it. He did not save us. It was the Queen that preserved us. We have no desire to return to our former way of living. Our flour was fern root; our bread was hinau. We have abandoned all those things. Another remark (I have to make). The laws the Governor has given us are good. But one side is good and the other evil. Let peace be firmly established; then give us the good laws; yours are the good customs; but you have acted contrary to the good principles which you yourselves introduced. (Song.)

Perenara (Tuhourangi, Tarawera):—We are a part of the people who have been united as one in this Conference. We have come to bring our thoughts which we have turned over in our minds both by day and night. The first is respecting the evil of Te Rangitake. The war is his only; but the perplexity is spread over the minds of all. My desire is that peace should be established on the earth, "and goodwill toward men." But it rests with you to earry out this object in order that the peaceful tendency of these laws which we are now considering may rest upon us. The second subject is the Maori King. This is my opinion:—Stop a portion of the supply of property or at least of money; pinch him in this way, for he wished to separate himself and have two heads in this Island; and let us see whether he will not retrograde to his former condition. I have no sympathy with this Maori King: there is no advantage to be gained, none whatever. The third subject, unity under the Queen's flag. You know how ducklings are reared; they are brought up by a strange parent—a hen. The hen covers the eggs, and they are hatched; they have no desire to return to their former mother, but to their adopted one (the mother who fed them). This is the case with us. We are sprung from a different parent, but have now adopted another one, even the gracious Queen. There is no going backwards to evil. We are now united to Christianity, and to the Law. We are enlightened by the good news (Gospel) which has been given to the world. My speech is ended.

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Hori Kerei Te Kotuku (Tuhourangi, Tarawera):—Friends, listen to our ideas, for Te Rauparaha has said we are the "last canoe to be launched." Now, friends, listen and I will tell you my thoughts. Life and knowledge are with yon (the Pakeha). But, according to Native customs, I am a prey to all evil. You made your appearance and saved the inhabitants of New Zealand; yon arrived here and I (the Maori) was saved. You taught me good things. Now I have no fear. I have no fear of men under this law. Formerly I was in constant fear, now I have none. (When we left home) we thought we were the only voyagers, but yon have assembled people from all parts of this Island; from the further end up to this place. Even Taiaroa is here. (Song.)

You have made me great. If you make me little it is well, as I owe my greatness to you. If you deprive me of it I cannot complain, because you gave it to me. But I will liken it to what Paul says "not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time." When yon arrived we were dwelling in ignorance, we were blind. First came Christianity, after that the Law. I saw that there was salvation for me. You appointed magistrates. We received them. It was during the time of Governor Grey that we first recognized the Queen's authority. He said there is no other Sovereign for us but the Queen. I did not receive the Law without consideration. I sought it carefully in the pages of Scripture. I did not search in ignorance. I saw its benefits, and then I embraced it. Now the Queen is my Sovereign. Property was stolen by one of the tribes (referring to a robbery which took place at the South), I recovered the goods and returned them to the owner. I did this because I was under the Queen's Law. (Another song.)

Te Karamu (Ngatipaoa, Hauraki):—Listen you. These remarks that I am about to make are known also to my friend who is sitting at my side (Paora Tuhaere). When the pakehas arrived, and where still at sea I took bold of the cable and drew him to land. All things are not known. I am not concerned to know the opinions of this person or that person: each man has his own thoughts. All that I know is, that page 38 formerly we had but one kind of garment. I had not then received this which now covers me. Remember your oaths lest they be violated.

Paora Tahaere (Ngatiwhatua, Orakei):—Respecting the Message of the Governor. I am impatient that the Message of the Governor be printed, that we may carefully consider it, and then give our opinions upon the subject.

Hukiki (Ngatiraukawa, Otaki):—Listen, people of the Ngatiraukawa, Ngatitoa, and Ngatiawa tribes. This is the word which we have been in search of in years that are past. The Governor has now revealed that word to us, about surveying our land, but when will it be put into effect? This has been shown us; three years have we waited for it; but when will the lands be surveyed? Pigs have been marked, cattle and horses have been branded. My name is Hukiki, the brand on my cattle is HU, but the land has not been branded (referring to Crown Grants). According to my opinion the land should be marked. Because the Chiefs are grasping at great quantities of land, leaving none for the poorer people. The Governor has now offered it to us. Now therefore I say we have indeed become children of the Governor. Because I have a great deal of land, therefore I have said let the land be given to the Governor and Mr. McLean; this land shall pass into the hands: of the Queen. I have declared these words in order that all the tribes may hear that this land has been surrendered to the Queen. The offer of Ohau has reached. England.

Iharkara (Ngatiraukawa, Manawatu):—Hearken my Pakeha. and Maori kinsmen. I will point you out two tribes of low standing in this Assembly of influential men. The reason why I say these two tribes are of low standing is because we are floating about on the earth. We have no land. The influential men in this Assembly do not derive their influence from anything in themselves, but from their land. Hearken! when the good news (Christianity) first arrived, that is when (Archdeacon H.) Williams visited us he asked, "do you renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world and all the sinful lusts of the flesh?" We answered "we renounce them all." After this the Governor came. He introduced the subject of the law for the body. I consented to this also; after this again the Assembly at Auckland. I have consented to this also. The Governor called for Native Assessors to assist the European Magistrates, I assented to this also. I will now refer to the rules which were being considered yesterday. For the adulterous woman: according to the words of the rule before page 39 mentioned, the fine for a woman committing adultery goes to the Queen and the Runanga. My opinion is that this should be left in abeyance. Now hearken you to the rule of our land (Manawatu). If my wife be taken in adultery is my own house, and she does not raise an alarm we do not entertain the case. If my wife is forced in my own house, and gives an alarm so as to be heard by the people, cognizance is taken of that; second offence is not entertained; third offence, no notice whatever is taken. If I commit that crime and my wife hears of it and goes and does likewise, no notice is taken of it because the fault is my own. If a man has two wives and one of them commits adultery no notice is taken of it. These are the things which cause trouble amongst the Natives. I am showing you the rule of our lands: enough about that. I will now remark upon the Governor's Message. It is good: I wish our lands to be detined. That is our desire, in order that each individual may have his portion clearly defined. Because (now) the Chiefs alone have the land, the poor people simply living on the produce of the soil. According to my idea no time should be lost. Upon our return you must send some officer.

Wiremu Tamihana Te Neke (Ngatiaw):—I will speak on this subject: We agree to the Message of the Governor. We are desirous that our pieces (of land) should be surveyed, and that each individual should receive a Crown Grant for his particular portion, so that when a desire springs up in an individual to part with his portion, he can do so, and the evil consequence will rest with himself. The evil is this, he will be without land. Now we know that the Governor is indeed a friend to the Maori, because he has consented that our lands shall be surveyed; for this reason I say let the plan be quickly carried out. Mr. McLean, you have heard the desire expressed by myself and Riwai that our lands should be surveyed. You agreed with us. Make haste and send some workmen on some future day.

Tamihana Te Rauparaha (Ngatitoa, Otaki):—This is my speech on the Message of the Governor. We (Ngatitoa) and Ngatiraukawa will carry this into effect—our tribes are quick in taking up European customs. We are constantly adopting Pakeha customs.

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Good has resulted from them. The root of these perplexities is that the land has not been settled. We have adopted European customs. We have erected houses like the Pakeha's. Our town has been established. We are Pakehas now: for this reason I say let us seek to attain this plan also. We were the first to have ministers. Rota and Riwai were from our district. Let the head (the Southern part of the Island) commence it.

Ropata Hurumutu (Ngatitoa, Wellington):—I have nothing fresh to urge. Mr. McLean, we laid the matter before you and Governor Grey; subsequently before you and Governor Browne (referring to Crown Grants). We have no place where we can establish ourselves. The fault is not with the Pakeha: the fault is our own.

Parakaia Te Pouepa (Ngatiraukawa, Otaki):—I speak in support of the statement of Hukiki and Ropata. I am the opponent of these men. My opposition arises from a desire to prevent quarrelling. My wish is not to hold the land but to prevent evil arising. My opposition to the sale of land is broken through—there is an end of it. The proposition for the speedy carrying out of this object I oppose. Rather wait till this perplexity is passed, then consider those lands. It has been laid before this Runanga. Friends, the Native chiefs, we have ceased to condemn the cause of the war with Rangitake. We have identified ourselves with the Governor—this war is ours. Should this war cease, we shall then be clear to consider the good suggestions which the Governor has declared in our hearing. That it may be clearly seen from one end of New Zealand to the other. Should this war be ended, why take any notice of that King movement? What can this Maori King do?

Will he (the Maori King) be able to overcome the power of God? The Gospel from God will never be extinguished—never! Let the Maories lament over their byegone customs. If our proceedings be right, what have we to do with Maori Law? Let them go on lamenting because (according to the old song)

"E tangi ana,
Ki tona whenua,
Ka tupuria nei
E te Maheuheu.
Tangi kau ana
Te Mapu, e!"

Our plan shall not be superseded by that of the King—never!

Meeting adjourned to 19th instant.