Object #1006198 from MS-Papers-0032-0658
From: Inward letters - George B Worgan, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0658 (95 digitised items). 93 letters and memos written from Wairoa, Napier and Wanganui, 1864-1873. Includes piece-level inventory of letters accessioned pre-1969.
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There are certain matters to which I wish to call your attention privately in connection with affairs here and also in Hawkes Bay, some of the latter affecting my own interests, by putting which into writing I afford you better opportunity of considering at your leisure.
With reference to the Block of say 128,000 acres south of the Waingongoro placed by you as far as Native questions are concerned under my management I will ask you to follow the phases of its condition in the order in which I have placed them - bearing in view that the figures used do not profess to be in the main more than approximations. Extent of Land Available.
1st. The imaginary extent of Land at disposal of the Government has shrunk under careful investigation to some 39 or 40000 acres (that is of Land of such description as to be considered available for sale) which may be increased to between 56 and 57,000 acres by an expenditure of £12,000 or possible £15,000.
Position of Confiscated Land Dept: in respect of Native Claims.
2nd. That these 39 or 40,000 acres are not yet available and cannot be made so until primary claims are settled - the necessary Corollary being that the Confiscated Land department so far as mere sales of Land are involved is practically in abeyance.
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3rd. That the settlement of the Native claims to the 17,264 acres under awards of the Compensation Court still leaves the special Reserves of 21361 acres to be dealt with.
Concerning these latter the communications between the Govt. and Major Noake published in the Eveng.Herald throw a curious light. I notice that the native exclusionists muster among their number men who state their possessions thus A.B. 1800 acres Freehold 1420 Head of Stock C.D. 1000 do. do. 1103 do. E.F. 500 do. do. 500 do. G.H. 150 do. do. 800! do West Coast land may be what it is pretended but even then it may reasonably be doubted whether 500 acres would maintain 500 head of Cattle - and a man possessing 150 acres of Freehold and 800 head of stock need not explain his reasons why he objects to a reserve of 10,000 acres in his immediate vicinity being devoted to its legitimate uses.
The motives of these men appear so transparent that it is matter of surprise that their complaints should have weight with the Government.
I am credibly informed that nearly the whole 6900 acres of the Lands allotted to the native Contingent have passed into the hands of some half dozen settlers -
Unfortunately in a District situated as this is, there is always after a period of War smouldering fuel left which may at any moment be fanned into a flame, and the Government is to a certain extent at the mercy of a Class of men who number amongst their ranks some upon whose honor and conduct little reliance can be placed - Doubtless here as elsewhere are to be found men to whom the being called on
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to earn their own living is amongst the greatest of evils and the being struck off Government pay the acme of injustice -
I am of opinion that the system under which the lands here are sold is opposed to the best interests of the District. On the East Coast notwithstanding the bad feelings engendered by protracted hostilities and outrages perpetrated during their continuance, affairs have settled peacefully down and good feeling has been re-established - this result is attributable almost entirely to the presence as settlers of men of education position and sufficient enlightenment to give tone to the opinions of those about them - What inducements are there to such men to settle here? Where indeed will you find any men possessed of capital who will be content to purchase under the present system? Even for the hypothetical "Yeoman" the 100 acre lot is at once too little and too much -
Arguing from the small results of the system in use the Govt. might fairly make the experiment of taking broader ground and offer 300 to 500 acres lots to men in Canterbury and Otago and there is small question of finding purchasers. This however although a subject to which I have given much attention, is not now my business and I merely write suggestively -
I believe I may understand the duties imposed upon me to take this form namely "To reconcile the responsibility under which the Government lies of fulfilling certain pledges to the natives, with the Public feeling of the Colony and at the same time
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with the interests and feelings of the settlers here in this District".
This involves 1st The ascertainment and grasp of the true actual position of affairs and the setting forth of the same in a plainly understood manner.
2nd. From a review of actual data to devise a method of extrication from the difficulties of the position -
3rdly to carry into effect the plan conceived after it has obtained the sanction of the Government.
For the first matter my report already furnished afford you the desired information taken with the reservation already made as to the accuracy of the figures - The present incompleteness of survey wholly preventing absolute accuracy on these points. The second requires the utmost care in deliberating so many phases of difficulty presenting themselves in the consideration of each stage of the proceedings. Even if practicable it would scarcely be advisable to purchase out the whole of the awards of the Compensation Court - If we did the same difficulty would remain in the matter of the special reserves, therefore extinction of title by this means must be supplemented by other aid - and I suggest the vesting of Reserves in hands of Trustees for administration, thus whilst conserving an Estate for their descendants, the present owners would derive an income without the necessity of returning to
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occupy their Lands in person - moreover they will not be brought into personal contact with the lessees of their Land, who will on the other hand by having to deal with a European agent be compelled to a strict observance of their agreements.
Should this plan meet at once the approval of the Government and prove acceptable to the Natives I need scarcely urge how indispensable to my success in carrying it out that the natives should feel and know that they are acting with a responsible officer of the Government.
There are other Lands the subject of dealings between Europeans and natives in the Whanganui District and I am disposed to think the appointment of a Commissioner under the "Native Lands Fraud Prevention Act" desirable -
Of the natives entitled to Land under Court awards about 20 are living in Wellington several in "Taranaki" and the others at various places on the Whanganui River from Putiki upwards -
The accusation that certain natives who received grants have been implicated in the rebellion since 1866 seems very difficult of proof, and at present I have been unable to obtain such reliable information as would warrant my tendering advice to the Government to take any action in this direction - The subject however will not be lost sight of - The claims we
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shall be called on to purchase are those which interfere with saleable blocks, those of absentees in Wellington and Taranaki who have abandoned the idea of returning - in fixing the price at One £1 pound an acre I understand it to mean that the Average price shall not exceed one pound and I should act in these matters precisely in the same manner as though negotiating private business transactions.
Position of Confiscated Land Department in respect of Native Claims.
In saying that for purpose of sales the Confiscated Land department is for the time being practically in abeyance, I speak of the abstract right which the natives legally possess to have their claims dealt with as a first charge upon these Lands - As however the insistance on this right would be of great inconvenience to the Public service it may be waived to this extent -
The Block of 8352 acres awarded to 42 natives on the North West Bank of the Waitotara to be retained intact excepting so far as the selection made in favor of Mr. Shepherd of 200 acres and Mr.Kells of 100 acres for which 300 acres of other land must be exchanged -
The Block of 600 acres at Kakaramea less the 120 acres acquired by me by purchase for the Government - likewise to remain intact.
All other special reserves already set out upon the Ground and shewn in District map and a further Block of sufficient Extent to meet all the remaining claims to be selected by myself - to be preserved until these matters are definitively settled -
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With these exceptions and with the following proviso as to surveys the usual operations of the Department may proceed as heretofore.
Survey department to be so arranged that the work of laying out land for sale shall proceed simultaneously with the surveys of native claims - Upon all these questions the Commissioner and myself are perfectly in accord - I think it absolutely necessary that the Boundary line of the Land Confiscated should be marked out upon the Ground - Numerous claims by Whanganui natives have been made which it is impossible to understand as we possess so little reliable knowledge of the subject we are dealing with until the completion of this work -
These surveys which may strictly speaking be looked upon as work in arrear will occupy the whole strength of our Staff for twelve or fifteen months - supposing that I am able to devote at least a moiety of my time to work in the Field -
By completing the traverses of the "Waitotara" and "Waingongoro" streams until they intersedt the Back boundary we shall arrive at exact information of the acreage at our disposal and it may possibly prove that more of the Land is available than is at present supposed - One fact is patent and that is that with
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the exercise of the utmost diligence a long time probably not less than Two years will be absorbed in completing these works, and carying out the necessary arrangements to a successful issue - I refer to the inevitable duration of this work because of the influence it exercises over my movements and that of my family whom for reasons of economy as well as other reasons I must remove here.
The duties that fall upon me being in effect those of Acting Chief Surveyor as well as Agent or Commissioner for settlement of native questions in connection with these West Coast Confiscated Lands will to do them justice wholly engross my time and attention to the exclusion of all regard to my private interests whilst my acceptance of these duties has already involved a large sacrifice of them.
This allusion although in the last degree repugnant to my feelings is forced from me by the imputation case upon my appointment by the Evening Post and I am determined to place on record my protest against so dishonoring a statement.
The Hawkes Bay business which refers to matters already discussed I make the subject of a separate communication as the matter may be referred by you to Mr. Locke -
In conjunction with the Commissioner I
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shall have to make certain suggestions which may involve some slight changes in the future but to which there is no immediate necessity to refer -
The only other matters I need allude to are Kemps claim, and others of the same class upon which subject I think it better to defer any interference until you have had a personal interview with Major Kemp - and the question of the limit to which I may go in making purchases This matter is so entirely one of personal experience and discretion that I trust the Government will afford me sufficient latitude, as I think I may safely say that I am not likely to embark in unprofitable or unnecessary Purchases -
I have the honor to be, Dear Sir, Your most obedt.Servant,
The Honble. Donald McLean "Whanganui"
Inward letters - George B Worgan, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0658 (95 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
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