The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News and The Echo.
THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 1909. THE NATIVE LANDS.
Tor the cauae that lacks assistance. For the wrong that needs resistance, For the future in the distance, And the good that we can, do.
The final report of the Native Lands Commission has now been submitted to Ministers, and when the session opens Parliament will be able to judge of the degree of Buccess that has attended its labours. That these labours have been arduous enough may be gathered from the fact that out of the seven and ahalf million acres owned by Maoris in the North Island, nearly 2,800,000 acres came within the scope of the inquiry. The Commission has sent in 42 separate reports dealing with different districts; and it haß recommended about 970,000 acres for European settlement (including timber leases), and reserved nearly 000,000 acres for Maori occupation. There are still some 500,000 acres of native land in the North Island the titles to which have not been Satisfactorily determined. But in spite of this obstacle, and the difficulty of following the intricacies of Maori land tenure, the Commission in its report states that the legislation already on the Statute Book is sufficient to provide for the settlement of native lands ih this part of the country . Our native land laws naturally require consolidation, but if this necessary work is taken in hand, and slight amendments and modifications are introduced here and there to remove the inconsistencies inevitable in a body of legislation that has grown by slow degrees under very difficult and complicated circumstances, the Commission believes that all that would be really needed to complete the work that it has so well begun, would be prompt and efficient departmental administration.
Considering the amount of ground covered, and the area of the districts in which the way has now been practically cleared for settlement, the Native Lands Commission can be fairly said to have justified its appointment aud discharged its responsibilities with success. No doubt Government will pay due attention to the recorgrpendatiohs contained in the report as to the necessity for reorganising the Native LanAs Courts,
and putting through their work at a reasonable rate of speed. Special attention is called by the report to the mr experience of some Of the judges and officials, and it urges that in future vacancies on the Bench should be filled . largely from the ranks of 'the registrars of native lands, whose duties have already familiarised them with some of the more important aspects of the native land system. As to the lines on which consolidation of the Statutes should be carried out, the report reminds us that many important questions of policy must be taken into consideration by Parliament in this connection, and that it will be no easy task to effect a reasonable and workable compromise bet-ween conflicting theories of tenure and succession. As in all its previous reports, the Commission emphasises the duty of encouraging and training the Maoris to become efficient and self-supporting settlers; and our own country representatives should take special note of the fact that in the opinion of the Commissioners agricultural instructors for the Natives are particularly needed in the Waikato. It should further interest our readers to observe that some 160,000 acres of native lands are recommended as available for general settlement in the Auckland district, and though a large portion of this in West Taupo' is relatively poor, it is clear that a little energy and activity on the part of the Government and the Native Lands Courts would throw open,a very considerable strotch of valuable country, the settlement of which would rapidly promote the progress and prosperity of the whole island.