Object #1018404 from MS-Papers-0032-0006
11 pages written by Sir Donald McLean
From: Native Land Purchase Commissioner - Papers, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0006 (61 digitised items). Contains correspondence with regard to the purchase of Maori land in Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa in particular, and in Porirua to a lesser extent; some of the correspondence relates to the addressing of Maori grievances arising from the sales; also contains some correspondence about the conditions of McLean's employment and his role as a provincial politicianIncludes minutes of meeting held at Takapuwahia (26 Sep 1861) concerning charges brought against W N Searancke by Te Kakakura Wi Parata over a Ngati Toa land dispute.
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The greater portion of the Wairarapa purchases were undertaken during a period when available land for settlement was in great demand by the inhabitants of Wellington when it was expected that the reduction in the price of land under Sir G. Grey regulations of 1853 would attract a large population from the Australian gold fields. The general and provincial govt. were united in urging the speedy acquisition of territory the natives generally were unwilling to sell, their prejudices against the extension of settlement had to be removed large sums were paid to them in the shape of annual rent by stockholders, and few could fully apprehend or appreciate the difficulties encountered in obtaining land in sufficient quantity or with a sufficient clear title to ensure peaceable
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possession by settlers. In addition to these difficulties the various complications of native title had to be investigated the claims of conquerors and conquered adjusted, the rights of ownership of the various subdivisions of the same tribe regulated and defined the various motives whether adverse or favorable to sale of land analysed and numerous jealousies of rival and opposing claimants reconciled before purchases could be effected on any extended scale.
Notwithstanding those difficulties and the danger always impending of a collision between rival claimants respecting their territorial boundaries the Wairarapa purchases progressed most favorably large meetings were held to consider the general question of alienating their land the terms upon which such alienation took place were openly and frankly discussed, the nature of the obligation entered into were fully explained and the cession of a large and valuable extent of country
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was secured to the crown. All disputes except a few unimportant ones arising from the absence of surveyors to mark off native reserves and boundaries before the land was disposed of to the Europeans.
One surveyor was certainly placed at my disposal during the earlier purchases to lay off native boundaries and reserves but he was soon withdrawn by the Govt. from that service to lay off a town in one place or survey land for sale and selection in another, it being considered more important to define the boundaries of land to be sold to Europeans than to define Native boundaries, hence the occasional disputes arising from the sale
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To avoid future disputes I applied for survey assistance to define the boundaries between Crown and Native Land and to mark off reserves. One surveyor was at first att ached to me for this purpose, but instead of being permitted to carry on a duty of such primary importance he was called away by the Govt. sometimes to lay off the site of a township at other times to subdivide land for selection and sale to Europeans, hence the occasional disputes which have arisen out of unintentional encroachments upon Native property at Wairarapa.
With the exception of a few unimportant cases of dispute arising in a great measure from an undue haste in disposing of the waste lands of the Crown without reference to Native interests the natives generally recognise the binding nature of the obligations entered into by them in ceding their land and fully admit the fairness not only of the prices paid but of the general arrangements concluded with them. Any attempt to impugn these arrangements or
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suddenly to alter the system of purchase will lead to a general repudiation of past transactions to a resumption in many cases of lands sold in the hope that each successive change to Govt. may offer them still better terms and if they find the slightest inclination on the part of the govt. to reopen questions already disposed of the consequences to the colony generally will be most disastrous
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In reference generally to the several questions brought forward by the Natives I find that many of them were occasioned by an impression which had been gaining ground with them in consequence of misrepresentations to the effect that any injustice they had suffered would be carefully remedied by the present Govt. and all grievances redressed.
It is easy to induce the natives to prefer frivolous claims idle habits when they have any hope of their being entertained and out the numerous attempts at imposition practised by them with a view of obtaining money. I am happy to state that much as their sentiments have changed for the worse that they have not been able to substantiate one single grievance or act of injustice against the Govt. on the contrary
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with one exception Wereta's sale they have fully recognised the validity of every purchase made from them in the Wairarapa district and admitted in many instances that they had been led to believe that any claims they adduced would be recognised. It is exceedingly easy to instigate the natives to prefer claims and however fictitious these claims may be it will be found difficult to resist them if any attempts are made to reflect on the land purchasing operations.
The Natives of the lower Wairarapa who have not joined the King movement have no disputes extent of land purchased.
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The Wairarapa purchases were conducted throughout with the greatest possible care. The various complications and disputes between rival claimants.
The Wairarapa purchases were undertaken at a time when the price of land was reduced when a strong for settling in the country pervaded all classes, when an influx of population was expected from the Australian gold fields.
Native Land Purchase Commissioner - Papers, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0006 (61 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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