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The star. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1883. THE PARDON OF TE KOOTI.

In reference to the pardon of Te Kooti, it appears to us that the Ministerial organs protest too much : they are daily advancing new theories to justify the action of Mr. Bryce ; but nevertheless we venture to express the belief that if the GoverEment went to the country on the simple issue of approval or non-approval of their conduct in this matter, they would be hopelessly beaten. The position generally taken by the Government newspapers is that only two courses were open to the Native Minister : either to pardon Te Kooti, or at all hazard and all cost to arrest him and try him for his offences ; and that as it was not worth while entering into a war to effect a capture, there was nothing to be done but to pardon him. But we cannot agree that the Government was bound to take either alternative. There was a third course open, and. that was to let the miscreant severely alone. If the reward offered for his head were still in force it might have been simply withdrawn. Had that been done Te Kooti would have felt himself much safer. He would not have expected a repetition of the Winiata episode, for the reason that unless for a substantial reward no European or half-caste would have risked his life in an attempt to make a capture. Te Kooti would have been grateful for so much consideration, and would have taken all sorts of care not to get back into his old very perilous position. But, at the same time, the whitewash would not have been complete. It would have been necessary for him to be a little circumspect — to keep out of the way, in order to guard against accidents ; and the effect would, we believe, have been this : that he

would have seen there was everything to be gained, and. nothing to be lost, by his behaving himself well and helping the Europeans as occasion offered. Therefore, we are not disposed to accept the plea that the Government were compelled either to pardon or to prosecute. There was no compulsion in the matter. Possibly Ministers, on full consideration, deemed it politic to pardon. Assuming this to be so, could not the pardon have been granted under circumstances less rasping to the European sense of honor. There might have been some show of sugaring the pill about to be given to those colonists who have sad. and bitter memories of Te Kooti's crimes. It is very much easier to talk about the Christian command of forgiveness than to practice it, and human nature still clings to the older doctrine of blood for blood. A man who lost everything — wife, children, horne — at the hands of Te Kooti, derives little satisfaction at the repetition of the aphorism that to forgive is divine, or from the explanation that unless the murderers were pardoned certain persons could not complete a very profitable land swindle, or the making of a railway might be postponed ; and it is not to be wondered at that he should work himself into a fury on seeing a Minister of the Crown not merely grant a pardon, but seek out the murderer, wait for him, and ask him to do the colony the favor of accepting the pardon. Prom the report furnished by the Press Association of the interview between Mr. Bryce and Te Kooti one cannot but gather that Te Kooti was sent for and asked to accept a pardon. Mr. Bryce supplied a different account, but, with all respect to the Minister, an independent report carries more weight than that supplied by one who was a chief actor in the affair. Yet, even taking Mr. Bryce's own report, the same conclusion can hardly be avoided. He says, according to his own version :—: — " Now I say this, that is the desire of the white people that the souls of the evils of the past should be buried; but it has been suggested that it would not be well to pardon offences if crimes were to be renewed. I have heard much about Te Kooti. Some say his future conduct will be good, other people say his intentions are evil for the future, as in the past. Therefore I have desired to see Te Kooti face to face, so that he may tell me himself what his future intentions are. I say for my part, and the Government, that if the evil deeds are not to be repeated, then the Government and the country are prepared to forgive the past. Before you all 1 ask Te Kooti to tell me, like a man, whether he intends to live peaceful for the future. If what he says is satisfactory, as I hope it will be, then our great trouble will be removed from before us. " Te Kooti, just as anyone else would do in a similar position, very naturally replies : " I will never return to strife — never. I will not tread the paths I formerly trod." It is clear that Te Kooti was offered a pardon if he would be pleasant and cut no more throats ; and we say that a pardon should not have been granted on such a footing. If Te Kooti was anxious to become a free man, he should have been told to write regretting what had gone before, promising to assist the Government in all ways for the future, and asking a pardon. In some such way, assuming it was desirable to grant a pardon at all, which we doubt, the colony might at anyrate have been spared humiliation.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/HNS18830228.2.6

Bibliographic details

The star. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1883. THE PARDON OF TE KOOTI., Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume IV, Issue 432, 28 February 1883

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945

The star. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1883. THE PARDON OF TE KOOTI. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume IV, Issue 432, 28 February 1883

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