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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Battling with Baffling Native Laws

Battling with Baffling Native Laws.

Influenced by Sir G. Grey's desire that he should guard the rights of the Natives in disputed titles to land, he moved to Napier in 1878 and shortly afterwards, in pursuance of the same course, settled in Gisborne.

The Native Land Laws were a mass of baffling restrictions preventing open and legitimate dealings, while giving cover in their technicalities and ambiguities to fraud hard to bring to light and prove. Only a man of great courage and most sanguine disposition could have flung himself almost alone into a threefold fight: against the European owners of lands unjustly acquired, against Natives who wanted to repudiate perfectly fair contracts and against the contradictions and delays of the Statute Law. His object was to benefit both pakeha and Maori. But, as usual in such cases, he was often regarded with suspicion and alarm by both parties. By amicable compromise, also, he often ended ruinous litigation to mutual benefit.