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CHATHAM ISLANDS REBUTTAL OF STATEMENT P.A. DUNEDIN, this day. In many respects. the statement made before the commission on March 7 concerning drinking on Chatham Islands, and alleging free and unrestricted breaking of the law, both criminal and moral, was contrary to fact, stated witnesses at the sitting of the Royal Commission on Licensing in Dunedin yesterday. The statement referred to was made in Wellington by Mr. J. D. Willis, counsel assisting the commission, and was based on a report from the licensing committee at Chathams. Mr. Willis had said that the population was 500, 350 people of mixed blood and 150 Europeans. The Chathams were a proclaimed area and there was not a single teacher or church representative there. Consequently young people were denied any form of moral instruction. There was free and unrestricted breaking "of the law, both criminal and moral, and the number of sexual offences was far in excess of that of communities of similar size elsewhere. While most of the Europeans there were total abstainers, said Mr. Willis, the Maoris comprised a community of heavy drinkers. Liquor Avas far too much in evidence at gatherings of any kind. Drinking also was prevalent among women and young people. He estimated that half the available Maori income went in drink and that at least half the liquor purchased was consumed in the homes.

There were two hotels at Waitangi, which he described as "drinking saloons." One man controlled both.

A police witness who was stationed at the islands between 1936 and 1941 said there were two accommodation licenses at the islands. Both houses were within 100 yards of one another and 1 both were owned by the same licensee. "I fail to see how the closing of one of these houses could result in less drinking," he added. "The accommodation at present provided by the two houses is, if conditions are still as I knew them fully required on boat days."

Police-Sergeant Spencer said there was no free and unrestricted breaching of the law during his term on the islands, and the records showed that there was none before his arrival. Although illegitimacy was common, liquor was not responsible for it. Action was always taken if the age of a mother indicated a breach of the criminal law. "From my point of view, and having regard to the fact that there is no pa life and also the small number of persons not entitled to remove ' liquor from licensed premises, I think that if the restriction on the natives were lifted the position would improve rather than deteriorate," he said.

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Bibliographic details

MAORIS AND DRINK, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

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MAORIS AND DRINK Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

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