Object #1017840 from MS-Papers-0032-0003
From: Native Land Purchase Commissioner - Papers, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0003 (57 digitised items). Contains papers dealing with the purchase of Maori land; in particular, there are official papers about `Old Land Claims' (ie pre Treaty of Waitangi); there is also extensive correspondence about the purchase of land in the Rangitikei area from Ngati Apa, and a related dispute about ownership between Ngati Apa and Ngati Raukawa; there is also a letter from Henry Tiffin outlining the concerns of Wairarapa Maori about an invasion by Ngati Toa Also includes translation of a letter by the Ngati Toa outlining the boundaries of land ceded to the Crown in 1847.
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10th. April 1849.
Having returned from exploring the interior of the district offered for sale by the Ngatiapa tribe, between the Turakina and Rangitikei rivers, I have now the honour to transmit to you, for the information of His Excellency, the Lieut. Governor, a
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description of my journey, with some remarks on the country I have passed over.
The boundaries of the Pahs and Reserves for the natives on the land being ascertained, I consider it advisable to take a cursory survey of the district to enable you to form a probable estimate of its value and extent.
I accordingly started on the 27th. inst. from the Turakina Pah, accompanied by Mr. Ashwell Hill, a European policeman, and forty-three native claimants.
The first part of our journey lay through a partially
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wooded valley, interspersed with cultivations, and meadows of rich grass. The country continued of the same character till we came to a wooded range of hills, about 10 miles from the course, where the Turakina river takes a northerly direction.
We camped here for the night; the natives objecting to proceed further in this direction, alleging the forest as impenetrable; and that it was claimed by the Whangawhero natives, a distinct branch of their tribe, residing at Wanganui.
I soon discovered that the natives along with me were the actual claimants of the
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land, which they alleged to be the property of the Whangawhero tribe; and found that a few intriguing young men ingeniously concocted this pretext, with a view that the land should be reserved under the pretence of being the property of a tribe who had not appeared at any of the meetings when the sale of the country was discussed. The object of these young men in endeavouring to reserve the forest ranges, and other large portions of their claims, was to dispose of them afterwards in small allotments, when the value of the district should be
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enhanced by the location of European settlers. The other men seemed at first quite indifferent with regard to these reservations, but a few were eventually induced to acquiesce in the measure, from its being represented to them that if they parted with the land on which the forest stood, that they should never be allowed to exercise their periodical custom of bird-snaring in the interior.
On the morning of the 28th. the rain which had set in the preceding day, continued to fall very heavily. I found it would be impossible, from the disposition of the natives, and broken character of the country,
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to proceed further up the banks of the Turakina. We therefore diverted our course across the country towards the Rangitikei, ascending from a low, grassy flat to a ridge of hills, on the top of which is rich table-land, well adapted for agriculture orpasture; and here and there interspersed with clumps of timber, and streams of water.
At one of these inviting situations for the erection of a settler's cottage, we pitched our tents, finding it impossible to make a long journey, the rain continuing to pour incessantly. Our party were not long in
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erecting shelter for the night, and procuring an abundant supply of bush pigs and pigeons.
In the evening I informed the natives, who were collected by a large fire in front of my tent, that as an ample Reserve was made for them between the Turakina and Wangaehu rivers, I would not recognise any boundaries, or pretended claims, limiting the Europeans from going as far into the interior as their present rights as a tribe extended; that they might still exercise the privilege of bird-snaring, so long as their doing so did not interfere with the future operations of the settlers; but the whole of their country north of Rangitikei, excepting
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their Reserves, must, in accordance with the understanding I repeatedly had with them at their several public meetibgs, now pass into the hands of the Government.
On the morning of the 29th. we made an early start, the old men expressing themselves greatly pleased with the prospect of not being prohibited from bird-snaring; as they were previously under an impression that they should be not even allowed to travel further into the country, when it became European property.
After proceeding about four miles from our encampment, we opened on a beautiful plain clothed with the richest and most luxuriant natural grasses I have observed in any part of the Island.
The interior forest,
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which skirts this plain, may be estimated, as nearly as I could judge without the assistance of a surveyor, to lie from the sea coast at distances ranging from ten, fifteen, to fifty miles, the level of land gaining on the forest as we approached the Rangitikei.
Many parts of the country we passed over have indications of having been numerously populated; and my attention was frequently diverted by the old Chiefs, to the fact that the Ngatiapas were formerly a numerous and powerful tribe; of which their existing representtatives are only a diminutive remnant. In confirmation of their statements, they carefully noticed the traces of every deserted village or cultivation we came to; and feelingly described the agency of a disease termed
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Rewa-rewa, which must have prevailed fifty or sixty years ago; as having been more fatal and destructive to their race than the most sanguine wars of invading tribes.
Before night had quite set in, we were close to the Rangitikei river, having walked since morning, a distance of twenty-four miles; which, including the short stage we made yesterday, would leave us about thirty miles from where we left the banks of the Turakina river.
During the day, some few boundary marks were made by the natives, who erected a pole on the Ngongoronui range, where we descended to the Porewa stream,
Native Land Purchase Commissioner - Papers, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0003 (57 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)
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