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NATIVES IN CONFERENCES.

BIG GATHERING AT WAAEJ. • 1 IAHUTA'S MANA. - ' ' '""' (By: Telegraph.—Own Reporter.) .",; .; HUNTLY, Thursday. ' A* native korero is -always an event to which considerable interest attaches, and that at present in progress at Waahi is one of the ■ most important yet held in the Lower Waikato.' Since Monday last the natives have been steadily pouring into Huntly, and there are at present encamped on the bank-of the Waikato at Waahi nearly 1500 Maoris. The gathering has been convened by King Mahuta, and the purpose of the meeting is to go into conference on matters generally affecting the Maori race, more particularly as they refer to the settlement of the native land difficulty. Representatives from nearly all the Northern tribe 3 have put in an appearance, and the korero is likely to prove a truly historic event. Waahi is a picturesque spot on the banks of the Waikato, situated, a little below the mining township of Huntly. Launches were busily engaged all the day long running new arrivals down to the kainga, and the scene of the encampment presents a particularly 'busy and attractive sight to the pakeha visitors. Scores of tents dot the green sward by the river bank, and hundreds of natives are busily engaged in preparing for the reception of the visitors arriving by every train. The women and children are gaily bedecked, and flying flags make the scene a particularly gay one. To-day no actual business was clone, and proceedings were altogether of an informal nature, attention being chiefly directed to the welcoming of new arrivals. A rather creditable native brass band of some 20 members met the newcomers at the landing stage, and on arrival at the oamp they were met by troups of women waving green wands, the emblem of welcome. Then before the mcc dng house tbey would tangi for the departed, and make speeches of welcome for the living. King Mahuta, M.L.C., and Mr. Henare Kaihau, M.P., have their headquarters in the centre of the kainga, and to their whares the newcomers ultimately find their way to pay their respects .to the rangatira. In approaching the royal residence the course of procedure is decidedly novel and interesting. First stalks a Maori brave, then follow the wahines, wailing and singing. Two of the fairest maids slowly walk through the throng, singing some quaint dirge, and carrying notched sticks, to which are tied numerous pound notes. These represent contributions to the entertainment fund. On arrival before Mahuta's place of abode these sticks are placed in the ground, and further sings of greeting are sung. A feature of the camp seems to be the loyalty of the natives to King Mahuta. Mahuta never sleeps without a strong guard, and a posse of some 20 stalwart braves post themselves each evening around his whare, so that, unbroken and peaceful -slumbers may be his lot. I FEEDING THE MULTITUDE. A small party of over 1000 natives, congregating from every part of the I North Island, means that no small prob- ! lem from a commissariat point of. view has to be faced. Here, however, as in ! other features of the camp, considerable 1 forethought and good management is evidenced. A council of directors has been.set up, and the great korero is .being carried out on an apparently wellconsidered plan. There has been some attention to the .'question of hygiene, and the arrangements for victualling the camp are very complete. The larder is quite a huge affair, some tons of kumeras and potatoes are heaped up in the centre of the camp, while whole carcases of beef, rows of fish and eels, strings of corn cobs and sack upon sack of pipis make up a larder likely to provide sustenance for some days ahead. The work of preparing a meal for such a large family party is a stupendous task, but the Maori women enter into it with zeal, and quite twc hundred wahines are busy preparing ttw food and cooking it. The methods employed are decidedly primitive, and the j cooking is done upon the old native method of heating stones in holes dug out of the earth. European traders have .made their appearance in some numbers upon the scene, and fruit, cake, and sweet stalls do a thriving business, while cheap i jacks and games of chance men find no ! difficulty in securing custom. A LEADER INTERVIEWED. I The real business of the korero will not commence until to-morrow. The Hon. , A. T. Ngata is then expected to arrive, I and the objects of the conference will be placed before him. Mr. Henare Kaijiau, when interviewed by a " Star " represen- | tative this afternoon, stated that while the natives assembled at Waahi were anxious to see the legislation of last ses- | sion given effect to, the real object was to lay before the representatives of the Government the ,urgent need of bringing to a head the agreement arrived at last year at Ngaruawahia. "On that occasion," said Mr Kaihau, "an agreement was j entered into by King Mahuta and myself with the Hon. J. Carroll on behalf of the Government. It was then decided that in the country extending from Auckland down to Tauranga, and from thence down south of Lake Ta'upo to the north Taranaki Biglit, a certain area of native land should be set apart for specified purposes. We then agreed that the area of 144,803 acres should be set aside as Papakatnga lands for village settlement purposes, that 356,812 acres should be leased, 15,149 acres farmed, 40,462 acres sold, and 93,975 acres reserved* under the nrana of King Mahuta, making a total in all of 656,501 acres. This area is embraced in the counties of Manukau, Coromandel, Thames, Ohinemuri, Waikato, Raglan, Piako, Tauranga, Mataniata, Waipa, Kawhia, Awakino,'Waitomo, Taupo, Ghura, and Clifton. These things were agreed to at, the conference we had.at Ngaruawahia, and we now .want to have -them ratified." " 'What of the legislation of last session, based upon the. report of the natiwj lands commission, whereby it is stipulated how much land shall be retained by the Maori, howmuch leased, and how much sold?" was a question put to the member for the Western Maori electorate. " That," he replied, " is one of the matters for consideration at our conference, but this special agreement in regard to these special areas has been entered into, and we want to see the proposals carried out. We have drafted certain regulations in regard thereto, and these regulations will be submitted to the Government. 1 have telegraphed to Sir Joseph Ward, asking him to try and be present. Several telegrams have passed between us, and he has intimated that he is muc-h .interetsed .in our conference, that the Hon, Mr. Ngata will he with us to-morrow, and that the Hon. James Carroll will attend before the. korero. ends; presumably on Saturday next,"- ..-...'• .•■■-.• The meeting at Waahi is likely to last two or.three, days longer, but: the business part ,;of ythe proceedings ..will probably be "" tought to a close..on. Saturday,•■'■•. -. ;

2WX)-NATIVES ASEEMBLEdV : ." (By Telegraph.—rOwn Correspondent.) ■•<'■■ ■ > ; HUNTLEY, this day.. The attendance at Waahi-to-day riuinr bers weir on 2000 natives: TMr Ngata arrives'at 2 olclock this afternoon from Itotorua, and the business of 'the meeting will then proceed. '..'."' In addition to the proposals already enumerated, Mr Kaihau. will urge that the constitution of the Native Land Board shall be altered bo- thai, instead of two pakeha and one native members there shall be two natives and one pakeha. Mahuta and Henare Kaihau are supported by the owner's of the 656,801 acres proposed to be dealt with, and the leaders- have the co-operation of various tribes interested in demanding that this area shall be dealt, with' in the manner already indicated, whereby 'half of it shall be leased and only a very small proportion sold. Another proposal for consideration is 'that brought forward last year at Ngaruawahia, to buy back from the Government an area of land at.Taupifi, and there establish a large papakianga, also making it the headquarters of the Native Land Board. ■'>~-,

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NATIVES IN CONFERENCES. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 90, 16 April 1909

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