5th. June 1861.
I venture to address a letter to your Excellency, upon the difficulties of the native question; though it be at the risk of being charged with interfering with that which
does not belong to my province. Anf yet I feel that every Englishman is bound to promote to the utmost, the establishment of a better feeling between the two races which inhabit this country.
An attentive examinati on of the past history of the Colony will at once shew
that the grand reason for distrust, on the part of the natives, has been a conviction that their country was about to be taken from them, not in the way of fair purchase, but by force.
At the Meeting held at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands in February, 1840, when the conditions of the Treaty of Waitangi were laid
before the assembled natives, certain Chiefs of great influence, objected to them, stating that the Treaty would deprive them of their lands; that it was smooth and oily, but treachery was hidden under it.
On occasion of the outbreak under Heke, in the
year 1844, Heke states, in a letter to the Governor, - ''The white people said to me, - 'John Heke, your
land is taken by the Governor;' I replied, - ''By what means is it taken?' The white people answered, - 'By the Flag Staff, which stands at Maike!'''
(See Blue Book 1845.)
No uneasiness, however, was occasioned to the natives by the old land purchases, made before the Government was established; for Mr. Shortland, in a letter to Lord Stanley, shewing that the disturbances at the South
had originated in the interference of the Company, or their settlers, with land never sold by the rightful owners, - says that ''in the Northern District, out of 750 claims of the old settlers, which had been adjudicated by the Commissioners, not one single instance of any objection being offered by the natives to the taking possession of the lands
awarded to the claimants had arisen.''
At the South the case was very different. The proceedings of the New Zealand Company appear to have been unsound from the Commencement. The object of the principal agent of the Company, was, to present a good Report to his constituents in England; and a representation
was made that the greater part of the country
had been purchased by him; extending from the 38th. to the 43rd. degree of latitude on the West Coast and from the 41st. to the 43rd. degree of latitude on the East Coast. But when the details came to be entered into, there were fearful difficulties at every step. For convenience, I refer to the summary
given in Thompson's'Story of New Zealand' (Thompson, page 2.) But all his statements may be verified by the Blue Books. The first location of the Company's settlers was at Port Nicholson, at the mouth of the River Hutt. But this location having been found to be inconvenient, the Town was removed to the opposite side of the harbour, and was called Wellington. Unfortunately this place was inhabited by natives who strongly objected and
protested against the settlers appropriating land used by them for cultivation. They denied having sold the land; and told the settlers they were acting unjustly. But no physical resistance was offered to the erection of houses; as the natives were informed by persons collecting signatures for the Treaty of Waitangi, that
Her Majesty's Government would send magistrates to see justice done them.
The Company's settlements, which followed that of Wellington, were Whanganui, in 1840; New Plymouth
and Nelson, in 1841. It is not necessary that I should refer to the particulars of the disputes which arose in those districts
respectively, together with the fearful massacre at Wairau; and the contest in the Valley of the Hutt. They were all occasioned by wholesale purchases made by the New Zealand Company; which, upon examination, were pronounced by the Commissioners to be for the most part, invalid.
The effect upon the native mind was at first a distrust in the
proceedings of the Company; but afterwards satisfaction when they found that justice was done to them by the Government.
In the mean time the purchases which were effected directly by the agents of the Government, were executed upon a different principle. The greatest publicity was given. Opportunity was afforded for all
objectors to assert the grounds of objection; and no transaction was considered to be complete, so long as disputed claims were pending. These purchases were made chiefly in the neighbourhood of Auckland, and further North.
The purchases which have been made for the last ten years have been effected, I
believe, by the present Land Commissioner, or by those who act under his direction.
The earliest of these, including the extensive Valley of Wairarapa, and other large Blocks in the province of Napier, were made with the general concurrence of the natives. At least having been connected with the natives of that district, I have
not heard any dissatisfaction expressed. But I am sorry to say I cannot speak with equal satisfaction of other purchases which have followed.
In the year 1857, I visited the Natives of that province; while the Tribes respectively of Te Hapuku and of Te Moananui were fighting. I gathered
from Te Moananui's people that the ground of a quarrel, which cost them many lives on both sides, was the land; that their first land sales had been managed by Te Hapuku, at their request; and that the proceeds had been fairly divided; but that subsequently Hapuku had taken upon himself to dispose of lands to which he had only an indirect claim, reserving to himself the larger
share; and in some cases, the whole of the payment; - that at the time when they made this statement to me, Hapuku was living upon their land; and that they were determined he should live no longer upon it, lest he should sell that also.
In a letter written by Renata Kawepo, the principal
Chief of Te Panieri tribe, to the Superintendent of the Province
of Napier, the native feeling in reference to the late purchases of land is put forth in forcible language. He writes, - ''Listen, while I tell you of the last errors of Mr. McLean, after we had wiped out his former ones; the mistakes that were made subsequently, viz:- Omarutairi and Ngapaeruru; these are what I am going to tell you quickly about. Omarutairi was a piece of land
held by the owners, as a Reserve for themselves; the greater part of their possessions being already alienated. When Mr. McLean went to Te Aute, it was reported that this land was sold. The owners went straight off, and said, - ''Mr. McLean, don't buy that land.'' They remained three days repeating this; and then went away; and afterwards the money was secretly paid
to two persons. As to Ngapaeruru, this land was for sale; but by resoon of the faulty purchase, you did not obtain it. This was the fault. Two men came to sell their land, by stealth, to Mr. McLean. The owners heard of, and wrote a letter to Mr. McLean not to pay any money to those men. When they reached Mr. McLean one of us saw them there; Karaitiana Takamoana, who
suspected they must have come to sell the land secretly. Karaitiana put Mr. McLean
upon his guard; who replied, - "You are right, for I have got a letter from Paora Tamaihotua." Karaitoana read the letter; and then said to Mr. McLean, - "This letter is correct. Don't you give any money for the land to these men, but pay your money
into the hands of the tribe on the spot; that the land may pass with a clear title to you." Mr. McLean consented to this; and as soon as Karaitiana was gone he paid £400 as the price of Ngapairuru. That was the fault in the case of these two men. You appear to suppose that by getting hold of a single individual, you can gain an advantage over him. Hereafter
whenever a majority consent to a sale, it shall take place.
''Let us have no more blundering. All our troubles have arisen from faulty working; and on this account it was that the door of selling was shut. But when the system of buying is amended, the door will be opened, that the sales may be conducted on a regular plan. Whenever
the Government shall have laid down some equitable system of Land Purchase, and when calm is once restored, then the tribes who are for selling will sell their lands under a properly regulated system.
''You tell me that our internal quarrels had put an end to the system of assembling us together that
all might witness the
alienation of the land; but we see that no land was sold at the time of war. It was sold before the fighting began; and afterwards, also, when peace had been made, some land was sold. And who was the cause of this? A man who goes to Auckland, and there sells the land; and the first thing the owners hear about it is that the land is gone. Others
went off to Wellington, and there sold; and the first thing I have heard of it was that my own place "Okawa" was gone; and several others, the same. Did these cases arise from the war?
"You buy insideeyour houses; and the first I hear of it a man has passed by with the money; while I am continually saying, - "pay your money in the presence of the tribe to
whom the land belongs, that you may obtain it with a clear title." "
Further evidence may be gathered as to the dissatisfaction produced in the Native mind by this irregular system of land purchases. From a letter of the Revd. S. Williams, printed in the 'New Zealander' of the 11th. May; in which particular cases
are given; but I content myself with one extract to shew the connection of this subject with the Land League, and with
the King movement. "The first circular that I saw from the King party," writes Mr. Williams, relative to the land questions, "was to the effect that they wished to prevent persons selling land not their own, or not their exclusive property. Some time after
this they appeared to be trying to prevent the sale of land altogether, excepting when the sanction of the Maori King was obtained; and when I enquired the reason, I was told that the object was to protect themselves against a change of circumstances that so long as Sir George Grey and Colonel Wynyard were in the country, they had
an appeal in the event of an unjust sale; but that since that time they had been handed over to the tender mercies of the Land Purchase Commissioner, who almost entirely disregarded their remonstrances."
I have, for some time, felt convinced that if the purchases of land were conducted upon some more satisfactory system than has of late been
adopted, and, some Court were constituted by the Government, more applicable to Maori cases, the King movement and the Anti-land selling League would speedily crumble away; and the whole Maori population would prefer being under British rule rather than under their own 'runangas', which are very cumbersome, and in many instances, severe,
"I am told that at the present juncture, the point which is most desired by the Government is the abandonment of the Maori King movement. I know, too, that I speak correctly when I say that the desire is equally strong in the breasts of all those who are designated 'Maori sympathisers'; and especially of the body of the clergy of the Church of
England, and a strong effort has been made to induce the natives to give up this point. But I much doubt whether just at the present time this object will be effected. The natives will naturally say, - "We were driven by circumstances to combine in a Land League, and we have felt that our League would best be kept together by having a recognised head, like that which we see in our
Maori King. Before, therefore, we give up what we consider as a stronghold, we must be persuaded that we nonlonger require it."
I venture therefore to suggest that steps should be taken to assure the native mind that they shall have no reason, for the future, to distrust the proceedings of the Government; that regulations shall be laid down with respect to the purchase of land, which shall
render it impossible for irregularities to
occur, such as those of which the natives have complained. If this course were adopted, I have little doubt but that confidence would be speedily restored; that the Kinf movement would be willingly abandoned, and that the colony would soon resume its former prosperity.
Feeling that the subject of this letter is of serious
importance, may I request that your Excellency will be pleased to direct that a copy of it may be forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
I have the honour to remain,
most obedient servant
His Excellency the Governor