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Petition of Henare Matua and twenty-nine others

[Translation.] — To the Parliament,—To the Speaker of the Legislative Council, which has to establish the Laws of New Zealand

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To the Parliament,—To the Speaker of the Legislative Council, which has to establish the Laws of New Zealand.

Friend Mr. Speaker,—We have seen and conferred with the Natives on the east side of this Island, beginning at Wairarapa, and including those at Heretaunga, Wairoa, Te Mahia, Turanga, Whangara, and Uawa; and we have been authorized by the people living in the above-named districts to proceed hither to Wellington on account of the direction of the laws regarding the Maori portion of the community. We may briefly state that we, the subscribed Natives, express not only our own personal opinions but also those of our respective tribes. Concerning the laws promulgated during this Session of the Parliament, namely, the law for Native reserves, and the law for appointing Commissioners over Native lands, besides a very large number of other laws made to have an influence over Native lands mentioned in that Proclamation, and aiming at our inalienated lands, whereas, the Maoris have still the control over these lands,—one law purports to leave the leases of those lands in the hands of said Commissioner, that a grant may be issued, besides some other measures to be carried out by said Commissioner; there is also a law relative to the sale of those Native lands; in short, we point out these laws, hoping that they will not be administered over Native lands. Our reason is, that we the Maori people have been exceedingly aggrieved by the laws of the years 1860 and 1862, and by the issue of Crown Grants for those Native lands; we have, moreover, suffered from mortgages, from sales of land, and spirituous liquors; hence, we do not at all desire to have those Commissioners appointed, inasmuch as the only lands at present remaining in safety, are those lying outside the orbit of those Acts, as our prerogative ever remains settled upon those lands; indeed, we have no other land. We cannot, therefore, concede to these laws regarding "Native lands" and "Native reserves and leases," enacted by the Parliament this Session, and we hope that they will not be carried into effect upon Maori land; but we trust you will permit our land to abide with us, for such was the Queen's promise at the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840. The same promise was made at the Treaty of Kohimarama, when it was openly declared by Governor Browne that we should have the entire management of our own lands, snow-crowned mountains, plains, hills, landing - places, and fishing - grounds. We do, in consequence, consider that these laws should not by any means interfere with the Maori lands.

Friend Mr. Speaker, we entreat you to accede to our present request to leave our land peaceably in our own possession. We wish these laws to have no effect upon our lands. The Queen had certainly no desire to see the Maori people, her New Zealand subjects, live without estate. Should you, nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, sanction these laws, then our very existence will be crucified. These are the reasons that we have fully considered all these laws which have been announced to us, the Maori people, and we trust that they will be withdrawn. As we are not altogether, we may say not at all, satisfied with these laws, we would propose that these laws be circulated among the Native tribes, to give them an opportunity of perusing them, along with our petitions rejecting them. Pray do permit the tribes to see them.

Friend Mr. Speaker, our candid opinion is this: we ought to project laws for ourselves, inasmuch as you have been these last thirty-two years enacting laws for the Maori people, and grievances to the Maoris is the only result of your operations and your guidance.

We Maoris have therefore assembled here in Wellington, asking your permission to devise laws for ourselves, while we would submit them to your Parliament and to yourself, Mr. Speaker, in order to approve, and have some respect paid to our wishes.

Mr. Speaker, it remains with the Governor in Council to confirm these laws, which have caused us to express our opinion as regards our own wishes. We therefore say that the people which authorized us to come here for the purpose of representing their views, number 1,661 persons.

We conclude by subscribing our names as the delegates of the above-mentioned 1,661 persons.

Henare Matua and 29 others.