Object #1001684 from MS-Papers-0032-0039
From: Native Minister - Native Land Court, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0039 (22 digitised items). No Item Description
Page 1 of 14. View high-resolution image
26th June 1871
With reference to your letter dated Feby. 9th last and June the 8th, numbered respectively in the margin, requesting me to furnish you with a report on several points in connection with the present working of the Native Lands Act.
I beg to express my regret that circumstances have prevented me from giving the subject of your letters the attention I should have wished, at the proper time, yet, I hope the observations submitted to you will be in time to accompany reports from other officers, if they should be of sufficient interest to be placed before the Assembly Before giving any distinct reply to the points alluded to in your first letter, I propose to make a few general remarks, being the result of events indelibly impressed upon my mind, in relation to the purchase of land from the New Zealanders about the period when the
Page 2 of 14. View high-resolution image
New Zealand Company's settlers first came into the country. You are aware that I held an appointment under the Plymouth Company of New Zealand as assistant surveyor, in the year 1841 when, after the Township of Taranaki had been laid out in allotments, my duty required me to remove to the suburban and rural districts to divide the land into 50 acre sections. It will at once be perceived that to carry on a survey in a district, where at that time, all the inhabitants were natives, it was of the utmost importance to me, both in regard to my public and private capacity, to be on good terms with the people and to accomplish this, I very soon discovered that, where nonecould speak English, a knowledge of the Maori language was in part most essential to the progress and success of my operations. Accordingly I soon made myself sufficiently acquainted with the Maori tongue to conduct an ordinary conversation. From these circumstances I was enabled to ascertain the opinions of the Taranaki people regarding the purchase of that district which was arranged with a few Chiefs only. The all absorbing
Page 3 of 14. View high-resolution image
theme of interest with the Natives and the mode in which that district was paid for by the Officers of the New Zealand Company was openly ridiculed by such men as Katatore for to do justice to some of the leading Natives of that period. I must say that from the very first settling of that district by Europeans, they, the Chiefs predicted that a time would certainly come when the real owners of the soil would return from North and South to reoccupy Taranaki. The fear of Te Pakaru and his tribe coming from Kawhia and occupying Taranaki, or the North bank of Waitara caused the resident Natives to acquiesce in the survey and to live on general good terms with their neighbours; and settlement progressed favorably as a rule until the Wairau Massacre, where the Natives who were continually coming from the North emancipated from slavery and from the South and made a formal stand against a large party of the New Zealand Company's work men, who were forming a road on the Banks of the Waitara and compelled the labourers to withdraw to New Plymouth. Other demonstrations of rapacity were made with the view of re-establishing their
Page 4 of 14. View high-resolution image
mana such for instance, as at Mr. Cookes farm at Te Hua where an old savage mustered a large force, felled the Timber and cultivated the soil for years afterwards.
This was the time when the Natives said "The News were returning to Jerusalem" at any rate the Maoris came back in great numbers and took actual possession I may say of the entire district thereby producing the melancholy state of affairs in connection with the land question in Taranaki, when the settlers became exasperated and desponding and their industry entirely paralized. Then came Mr. Commissioner Spain who awarded 60,000 acres to the Company for some reason within the lines first cut by the Surveyors of the Company.
Subsequently in 1844 the late Governor Fitzroy visited New Plymouth and gave back the entire district to the Maoris, which at once and for ever annulled the arrangements by which the settlement was originally founded.
I have no desire to disparage when I point to the error of, the punchase of the Company which very probably was conducted without a knowledge of the Natives and their custom of
Page 5 of 14. View high-resolution image
principle of dealing with land at the time, some thing no doubt may be said for the social state of the Maories which, at that time, gave the Warrior chief immense power which has almost now faded away. The Taranaki natives, however, acknowledged no superiors they were all chiefs, or rather slaves, and the proverb of the Poverty Bay natives was peculiarly applicable to them "Turunga tangata rite" Equality Fraternity of the Maori in Taranaki.
It can easily be imagined how exultingly the Natives triumphed over this easily achieved victory and the amount of patience required by the Europeans to submit to the "Tawai" of the Maori when the settlers were compelled to abandon their farms to the enjoyment of the Ngatiawa.
A new and radically different system of purchasing land was subsequently adopted by the Government of the day and Mr. Commissioner McLean succeeded in purchasing a small block of land, including the Township called the "Fitzroy Block". This, it will be therefore seen, was the commencing point of purchasing the district over again, and it is hardly necessary for me to weary you with
Page 6 of 14. View high-resolution image
the different purchases which were made from time to time by Mr. McLean, or under his direction in that district. One of these purchases was attended by me long before I entered the Land Purchase Department and it was clear to those who
witnessed the transaction that the Commissioner exhibited an amount of energy, unwearying attention and caution, in dividing the purchase money among the respective families who owned the land, which established him in the good opinion of the leaders of the Taranaki tribes.
When I was a land purchase Commissioner in the Native Department I may say, without being egotistical, I was not unsuccessful in purchasing land under that system, and I am not aware of any real dispute or protest having been raised out of any land purchased by me except in a political point of view by the adherents of the so called Maori King.
I am however prepared to say that even before the Native Lands Act became law the Natives in the Kaipara district were so dissatisfied with the amounts I was authorized to offer that it would have been very difficult if not
Page 7 of 14. View high-resolution image
impossible for me to persuade this people to alienate any more land to the Government.
It would only be troubling you were I to relate some of my experience in the system of old land purchases and as for the penny an acre proclamation, it never reached so far South as Taranaki. The Manawatu purchase was, as a Maori at Otaki related it to me, the climax of all land purchases, when, it is said that, Mr. Buller and Dr. Featherstone drove in a dog cart to Rangitikei spilled £25,000 out to be scrambled for and left the settlement.
With regard to the past working of the present law, I believe I have already expressed an opinion to the effect that the Native Lands Act 1865 was favourably received by the Natives and the working of this Act was satisfactory to these natives who were interested in and attended the Courts over which I presided, whether it was because it was translated into Maori or its mere novelty I cannot say but it is certain that the subsequent Acts and Amendments, which to a very large extent allows every one to give his own translation to the Maori, who has no means of testing their accuracy, has caused
Page 8 of 14. View high-resolution image
an amount of suspicion to arise in the naturally susceptible mind of the Maori, and it is my belief that this suspicion can only be overcome by giving the benefit of a synopsis in the Maori language of any consolidated Act, which may be passed by the General Assembly.
As regards the Kaipara, Whangarei and Mahurangi districts, the only real murmuring I have beard from the Chiefs, have been against the Government for imposing such beavy duties upon their lands, subsequent to its passing through the Court that they say the net proceeds received by them reduces the amount at times below the former rates. It has also been remarked by some of the younger class of Chiefs of ability that as it was in the beginning so is it now, only a system of lands sharking with the purchaser on the one side and the Government on the other, while the interest of the Natives being left between the two, sinks into the gap of nothingness.
Whether the Europeans have in reality benefitted much by the provisions made for land purchased under the Native Lands Act remains in my opinion still to be seen, as
Page 9 of 14. View high-resolution image
the land for the most part which has been purchased was not so much for the purpose of land jobbing as for actual settlement and for a future home, for cattle and sheep runs, which are well known to require capital and time to make profitable, but it is certain a great benefit has been done to the Country as a good deal of labour has been employed as well as Capital for the stocking of these runs which would never have been the case under the Government land regulations which admitted of 320 acres as a maximum that could be held by one person.
It has appeared to me from experience that the investigation of Native title under the Natives Land Act when the land has not been previously surveyed is a very great defective point. I may mention the case Te Aroha which was always unsatisfactory to my mind from the first and will in my opinion be found to remain a bone of contention for the future;
The large Blocks of land inland of Mr. Buckland's run which have passed your Court and for which Interlocutory orders were
Page 10 of 14. View high-resolution image
granted, are in a precisely similar position a section of the Ngatiraukawa tribe will always dispute this land. Raids are frequently made on Bucklands sheep by Natives from the Interior, which cannot be prevented but by force.
It has always been my opinion that the actual survey of a block of land, from being as a rule, the result of preliminary discussions, however, antagonistic, assists very materially to bring out the real ownership, and leaves the question of title more easily and clearly determinable. I am therefore opposed to the principles of Interlocutory orders previous to an actual survey.
I do not think much if anything can be done now, after the late change to improve the relative positions of the Interpreter unless you initiate examinations to classify them.
With respect to the surveys, I am of opinion that with an efficient staff of professional Gentlemen under the control of Mr. Neale, the land would be in most instances surveyed certainly with more economy
Native Minister - Native Land Court, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0039 (22 digitised items)
Series 7 Official papers, Reference Number Series 7 Official papers (3737 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
Usage: You can search, browse, print and download items from this website for research and personal study. You are welcome to reproduce the above image(s) on your blog or another website, but please maintain the integrity of the image (i.e. don't crop, recolour or overprint it), reproduce the image's caption information and link back to here (http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1001684). If you would like to use the above image(s) in a different way (e.g. in a print publication), or use the transcription or translation, permission must be obtained. More information about copyright and usage can be found on the Copyright and Usage page of the NLNZ web site.
View Full Descriptive Record in TAPUHI