Life in Early Poverty Bay
Grave Charge Against Magistrate
Grave Charge Against Magistrate.
In 1859, it was reported, under date Feb. 19, that,
“The runanga law is still going on and the settlers are not allowed to remove even wheat grown before it same into existence. The effect of the runanga will probably be felt up to the East Cape. They (the Maoris) will not allow any grain to be moved till (they say) the prohibition on trade is removed, and which is not to take place till the traders succumb to their terms. But, subsequently, a section of the settlers came to the conclusion that a better state of affairs would never be reached until a charge was brought about in connection with the Resident Magistrate. And they were by no means half-hearted in their condemnation of the then occupant of the office. For example, the late Capt. J. W. Harris, on April 19, '59, published his views as follows:—
“A young protege of the Government was sent here direct from England. He could not be supposed to know enough about the Colonies or of the usages therein which are in many instances at variance with those of the Motherland. On receiving his appointment he probably supposed that he became the great man of the district and that the settlers would look at him with an awe inspired by his situation and never attempt to civil at his proceedings.”
Mr. Wm. Scott Greene, it seems, was chairman of a public meeting of protest against the magistrate, when numerous complaints were voiced:
“The Natives,” it was reported, “don't apprehend the nature of an oath and the responsibility thereunto attaching. The testimony of the Natives should be received with caution and no conclusions page 77 drawn therefrom unless such testimony tend to corroborate or elucidats facts already given in evidence, sworn to and of which there could be no doubt. A malicious charge has been laid against Capt. Read. Our clerk or interpreter has considered it his duty to carry to the magistrate anything he hears. It was a case of felony but it was dismissed. Captain Read attended a whole day at Court to answer any charge that might he laid against him. He was told there was none. The same evening he went to Napier, when it was immediately reported by Mr. Thorne, the magistrate's brother-in-law, that he had bolted On his return and the case being dismissed Capt. Read complained to the magistrate but the magistrate simply said that he had brought the trouble on himself by going away.”