Letter from G.S. Cooper
to Donald McLean Esq.
dated 18th. April 1857.
18th. April 1857.
My dear McLean,
The "Erin" sailing sooner than was expected, leaves me only 5 minutes to scribble a few lines in Leed's office.
I have had an awful job, and most vexatious delays with the natives, about these confounded money disputes; and at last I have had to trust all to Hapuku; chiefly because a quarrel with him just now would spoil the chance of purchasing the much desired 40-mile Bush; as he has got the sale of this end of it in his hands.
The settlement of the Porangahou question, I find, is another hinge on which this Bush hangs.
The Superintendent is here now. He arrived the day before yesterday, and I had a long talk with him last night. He is most anxious about Porangahou, and I have made up my mind to do a thing which will, I am afraid get me into disgrace at Head Quarters. But I cannot help that, and must trust to the rights of the matter to set
all square in the end. The natives will take £2,500 for the Block on the North side of Porangahou; and the Superintendent is going to write me a strong letter, pointing out the evils which the delay is occasioning; i.e. - the enhanced value the land acquires; the difficulties settlers have to encounter; the moral effect of the infringement of a law which we cannot enforce, etc., etc., then urging me strongly to conclude the purchase for £2,500, subject to an alteration in the Reserves; and he will find the additional £1,100. I have promised to accede to this request. I know I am infringing my instructions, and exceeding my powers. But I know on the other hand, that the results will be all right. The purchase is a good bargain, for we shall get clear and unquestioned possession of (according to Bousfield), about 107,000 acres, after the reserves are adjusted. The whole Block contains about 116,200 acres; and a stop will then be put to all the evils entailed by the "Squatting" system; and 12 settlers will be put in possession of Runs; 20,000 sheep will be put on the Block; and purchases will be made by the settlers to the extent of nearly - if not quite - all the purchase money. Besides this, as I stated in the Official letter sent per "St. Kilda", the Block is now nearly double what it was
when you offered £1,400, The fact is that N.L.P. Commissioners at such a distance as I am from Head Quarters, must now and then do things which will make the Auditor-General's hair stand on end; or they may just as well shut up shop at once.
Featherston tells me you are likely to be down per "Zingari". I am sure I hope so. But if not, I trust I shall hear sometging of my own fate, by the first opportunity. I never was so taken aback in my life, as when I heard of Ligar's appointment; after having been offered the choice of districts by yourself and the Ministers, separately and independently; and on my stating a preference for Ahuriri, being told separately by both parties, that I might consider myself permanently stationed there. Then the Colonial Secretary writes to the Superintendent to tell him this. I come down here, and commence making arrangements for settling, thinking that I might depend on the promises I had received, (though I was always suspicious about the dealy in gazetting(, - when down comes the news of another person being appointed to Ahuriri; and I am to go - where? Nobody can tell me. Featherston is ignorant as I am, and so is everybody else. Verily the General Government have an original way of their own of attacking their own officers, as well as the Superintendent of Provinces, to their interests.
The Superintendent is excessively anxious about Land Purchases; and would give even any amount of money I could spend. But I think the Porangahou is enough for me, while, as there are really strong reasons for the purchase, and crying evils to be removed by doing it. This is not the case in other instances; as the Ruahine bush, which he considers very cheap at £2,000, and would jump at the chance of my taking the money from him, as also for other lands which I think I could get at the North end of the Ruataniwha country. But as delays in these cases inflict no positive injury on anybody, and will only, at most, occasion an additional expense to the country in purchasing, I do not feel justified in incurring the responsibility which I have determined on doing at Porangahou.
I hope now to get away from here in about a week, or 10 days, and will finish my correspondence at Wellington.
To:- Donald McLean Esq.