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THE PREMIER IN THE KING COUNTRY. Etc.

Kilbirnie, Wellington, September 39, 1597. — Editor ' Prohibitionist.' Sir,— The writer of your Wellington note iu your issue of September 18 seems characterised by that extreme seusitiveness which I have often noticed in those who are most merciless in the use of language where others are concerned. He does not say much of me, but sullicientto inflict the injury which only a wrong impression can inflict where your readers know nothing of the facts concerned, when he writes about an "attack . . . upon the Isitt brothers on behalf of II r Seddon and ' clause 21.' " This is exactly the sort of thing against which my complaints on behalf of others are levelled, and would be on his own behalf. I took occasion by certain extravagant language which appeared in an Australian telegram in the 'Evening Post' to say to what an extent I believed the cause of Prohibition was being injured by that sort of thing, and by way of illustration referred to language which has been used respecting the Premier and clause 21 and his trip through the King Country, alleging, to use my own words respecting the former, that whatever the facts might be " the charge was an unproved one, and showing that there was at least something to be said on the other side, and, respecting the latter, that I had evideuce which convinced me it was untrue. My position is that no man's character, whether friend or foe, should be damned by anything unproved ; that' whoever or whatever he may be, if there is conflicting evidence the benefit of the doubt is due to him, and that the manifestation of any other spirit is an injury to any good cause with which it is associated. I should be as glad as anyone to see an exhaustive, impartial inquiry into both thn above matters. Inspecting the latter, I have been publicly challenged to say who are my inform mants as to the contrary of the charges made. As the charges are formulated in the columns of the Prohibitionist,' this, together with your Wellington note, makes it obligatory, with your permission, to do so by preference iu your columns, which I imagine th/it, however strong your own opinions may be, your sense of justice will permit. I trust that to you and all good meu it will be a genuine pleasure if there he found the slightest room to think that you and your informants may havo been wrong where you have been strongly convinced that evil was wrought. The extreme unlikelihood of the charges upon the face of them was what first suggested to my own mind that, notwithstanding the positiveness of the statements made, there must be error somewhere. When I oame to know who were some of the party this surmise was strongly confirmed. One of them—Mr Parr, of Hamilton—has since deceased, but I knew him well as a Prohibitionist and earnest social reformer and a member of the New Zealand Alliance. Another was the then Mayor of Hamilton (a Mr Tate, if I remember rightly), of whom the Kev. Mr Mather, for live years stationed on thg borders of the King Country, at Te Awamutu and Hamilton respectively, informed me that his character and personal habits were above reproach ; that he (Mr Mather) was intimate with him, spoke with him constantly, and never heard a word of reflection from him upon anything that had occurred upon the trip. Another, being one of those who occupied an official position, and whom therefore I do not name, but about whom I know sufficient to thoroughly respect him, assured me personally that there was not one word of truth in the charges, and suggested that I should further ask Mr Geddis, of the Hansard' staff, who was also one of the party about the matter. In addition, I know also that the Premier, though he has not thought it worth his while to take any public notice of the charges denies them in toto, and from Mr Mather that he finished up the day of the King Country trip bv attending, with another of the party, the Wesleyan public service at Te Awamutu. I wrote to Mr Geddis, and the following are correct ooples of my letter to him and his reply which, together with this, I trust you will give to your readers in extern. If this js conceded, it is not my intention to be drawn further into any controversy about the matter, and I am quite willing that yourself or anyone else shall have the last word.— I am, etc., Edward Walker, Kilbirnie, Wellington, September 23,1897.-Mr Ueddis, Hansard' reporter. Dear sir,—l am informed that you were one of the party when Mr Seddon went through the King Country. Can you oblige me by throwing any light upon the following statements in the 'Prohibitionist'' 'Prohibitionist.' Ootober 3, 1896, p. 2:—"lts" (the Government's) "attitude may be judged by the conduct of Mr Seddon on hia visit to the King Country in company with Mr Carroll, in 1894. On that occasion Mr Seddon freely supplied the Natives with drink." ' Prohibitionist," October 17, 1896, p. 8: "He" (Wahanui) "then made a statement, for which both Mr Gittos and I were wholly unprepared. 'ln 189-I,' he said, 'Mr Seddon and Mr Carroll came, and Mr Seddon produced drink and asked them all to take it telling them that to take a little was good, hut it was bad to drink too much.' The others confirmed this statement." P. 9: "The Kins Country.—We publish in thi3 issue a fuller statement. . . . The statement made by the Maori chief as to the drink supplied by Mr Sedi don and Mr Cadman throws a flood of liehton the incidents of the Premier's campaign in the Unwera Country. We were <*arged\v!th geration when we aaid that wherever he went a scene of debauchery ensued," etc. Any impartial information you can give me will oblige and you must let me know whether I may or may not give it publicity should occasion seem to require it at any time.—Yours truly, <= H uue Edward Walh^b,. w V n llil, sfe September 23, 189?.-rRev. E. Walker, Kilbirnie. Dear sir,—l be? to acknowledge receipt of your letter of even date, 1 have noted its contents ac,d hasten to reply. Your infonpation_ that J was one of the party which |«GOimpaniea Mr Seddon when he went through the King Country in 1894 is quite correct. As

special reporter of the 'New Zealand Times' I accompanied him on his tour overland from Wellington to Auckland and thence as far north as Hikurangi, where I parted company with him and returned to Wellington. You invite an expression of opinion from me upon certain statements which you quote from the 'Prohibitionist' of October, 1896. Ishall deal with them seriatim:— 'l' That on the occasion of his visit to the King country in JS94 Mr Seddon freely supplied the Natives with drink." I never saw Mr Seddon supplying the Natives " with, ; drink. If he had done so it could hardly nave escaped my observation, for I stayed at the *? m ° Places as he did, attended his meetings with /o\ e ™J' ve -?' an d reported the proceedings thereat. NT o > Wahanui said that upon the occasion of Mr Seddon's and Mr Carroll's visit to the King Country m 1594 Mr Seddon produced drink, and asked them all to take it, telling them that to taKe a p little was good, but it was bad to drink too much. Ihe answer I have given to the previous statement covers this one also. The meeting between Mr Seddon and Mr Carroll on the one part and Wahanui and his people on the other part took place at Otorohanga. We stayed only a Ik W £ ours tn ere, and after meeting and addressing the Natives in the courthouse Mr Seddon went on by rail to Te Awamutu. I saw or heard nothing that would lend probability to the statement attributed to Wahanui. (3) " That wherever the premier went a scene of debauchery ensued." This is grossly untrue. It is, in fact, as completely dei? i, ir - utix a3 Jt would be to say that wherever tne l reimer went a scene of riotand murderensued. bpeaking geuerally. I would say that Mr Seddon * so tar from encouraging, the Natives to drink, ™/ frequent opportunity in the course of his addresses to them to condemn the use of strong drink. He travelled rapidly through the King spending only one day in it. In the morning he addressed a meeting of Natives at TeJiuiti; m the afternoon he addressed a meeting o£ Natives at Otorohanga, and at night he arrived at le Awamutu; In reference to the last clause in your letter, I may say you are quite at liberty to give publicity to this correspondence. For further information I would refer you to the book entitled 'Pakeha and Maori,' which contains a narrative of the Premier's trip in 1894 through the Native districts of the North Island. I have a copy with me, which is at your disposal if your care to have it.—l am, etc., JiMES M. GEDDtiS.

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THE PREMIER IN THE KING COUNTRY. Etc., Issue 10451, 22 October 1897

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THE PREMIER IN THE KING COUNTRY. Etc. Issue 10451, 22 October 1897

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