THE NATIVE DIFFICULTY.
[By Telegraph.] Wellington, Jan. 23. Eightj'-four members of the Armed Constabulary left for Opunake this evening in the Stella. 'Jhe “Post” to-night, in a semi-official manner, says that after long and careful consideration Government arrived at a final and definite decision on Wednesday as to a course of action in reference to the native difficulty on the West Coast, including the Waimate Plains. The Hon. Mr. Bryce, Native Minister, and Major Brown, Civil Commissioner, left for the West Coast on Wednesday, Mr. Parris having gone there a day or two previously. The Stella was to have left for Opunal s on the same day with 90 A.C.’s, but her boilers being found out of order her departure was deferred until this evening. This will increase the strength of the Armed Constabulary in the vicinity of the Waimate Plains to about 800 men With this force it is intended to quietly, but at the same time steadily and certainly, push on the main road from Hawera to New Plymouth along the coast, crossing Waingongora and passing Opunake. The Armed Constabulary in the first instance will do no more than roughly form the road, after which is completed metalling will be let by contract. This road, although it necessarily would be of great strategetio value in any case of difficulty, is intended merely to facilitate a peaceful settlement of the country, and no opposition is anticipated from the Maoris. There is to be no taking possession of the Waimate Plains in an aggressive sense, for general confiscation of the plains has neverbeen challenged, and no question as to the validity of the confiscation has been or will be entertained. Government assume that they have always been in legal possession of the land, to be utilised when desirable, but instead of advertising the land for sale, and proceeding to survey off-hand, without making a road through it or laying off reserves, or ascertaining what Native rights had to be provided for. Government have expressly instructed Major Brown to assure the Natives that ample reserves will be made for them, and their wishes consulted as to where they shall be situated. The Royal Commission will investigate all alleged Government promises brought before them by Maoris, who are to be urged to take advantage of this, probably the last, opportunity they will have of raising such questions, which will be dealt with fairly, and impartially; and every sound claim equitably redressed. Major Brown is also instructed to take every possible opportunity of personally explaining these points to the Natives (including Te Whiti himself, who will be kept officially informed of all that is done), and to circulate Maori translations of the Act and proclamation. By the time the road is made, the commission will have reported, and Government will then be in a position to proceed with the survey and peaceful settlement of the Plains, after making due provision for all valid Native claims. It will be remembered that it was the reckless intrusion on some private Native holdings last year that mainly provoked forcible resistance. This is to be studiously avoided, and indeed the utmost care will be used not to wound the feelings of the Natives or provoke their opposition. It is believed there will he no such opposition, but that Te Whiti, being convinced that Government is the stronger of the two, will quietly accept the position. In any case, however, Government with 800 troops and 1500 Volunteers on the spot, is master of the situation.
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