Letter from Thos. H. Smith
to Donald McLean Esq.
dated 24th. March 1859
24th. March 1859
My dear McLean,
Your note of the 8th. from Taranaki, came to hand this morning. We have also had later news to the effect that Colonel Browne has been attacked with sickness; has given up the overlandjourney to Wellington, and may be expected here by the ''Lord Worsley'' now overdue. I have not ascertained how this later news arrived; but as Mrs. Gore-Browne is my informant, I cannot doubt its correctness. I greatly regret the cause, but shall not be sorry to see His Excellency here again sooner than expected.
I am doubting as to whether you will return at once, or whether you have made your way to Wellington. If the former, I might spare you the affliction of a long letter, and myself the trouble of writing it. There are a host of things to chat over, and the pen is but an imperfect means of communicating thoughts. But I will scribble away for half an hour, jotting down what comes uppermost.
Rogan has paid one visit to Manukau, but as the natives could not be got together, he returned without fulfilling his mission; and will make another trip there at some future time. He is now at Kaipara; and has taken money to pay for one of the Blocks, the purchase of which has been under negotiation for some time.
Sinclair left on Tuesday for Waiuku, to complete the survey of the Waitara, commenced by Searancke. I have had a great deal of conversation with Mr. Sewell, who is the locum tenens of the Native Minister. Like all new men, he is full of plans for reform. He condemns the present system of land-purchasing, - that is the buying of small Blocks of land, merely as it were, to sell again, and bring cash into the Provincial chest. He is for conducting the operations for the acquisition of territory on a much larger scale. In fact, he would wish the Government, instead of being obliged to buy land on the terms of the native proprietors, to make its own terms, and be prepared to wait until the natives are willing to accede to their terms; which should be liberal and more advantageous to the natives than those which are now made. He would have the Government prepared for the contingency of a suspension of land purchasing for an indefinite period, - in fact, until the natives should come into the terms
upon which we should be willing to treat; that is, - they should cede tracts of country sufficient for the purposes of the Government, and a systematic colonisation of the country. I agree with him in the main; and, with him, would rather see the acquisition of territory by the Crown, treated as a political question, than as a mere mercantile one. But I see many difficulties; and think, if practicable at all, it is only so as a principle to be acted on, in respect of new districts. Mr. Sewell's idea is to map out the island into districts; each district to be included within natural boundaries, and to contain at least one suitable site for a town or settlement. We are then to propose our terms for the cession of the district to the Crown; undertaking to lay out a town, to make reserves, make grants to individual natives, expend the principal portion of the proceeds in improvements in the district itself, and give the natives a share in the administration of the funds accruing, etc., etc., We then take our stand, and say, - when you are prepared to accept our terms, we treat with you. Until then, not an acre of your land will be bought. To secure the stability of such a policy, Mr. S. Proposes to bring in the authority of the Imperial Government, which should be moved to instruct the Governor to refuse assent to any
change in the system. In this way a pressure is to be brought to bear upon the natives; who, finding they had no other means of disposing of their land, would ultimately accede to our terms. The question is, will the Colonists wait quietly for the anticipated result? But I cannot now discuss the merits or de-merits of the scheme. The principle I believe to be a correct one; and had it been acted on from the beginning, many of our present difficulties would have been avoided. I also think that if we were in a position to wait long enough to give the experiment a full trial, and also prepared for the alternative of success within a short period, we should eventually carry our point. Mr. Sewell has drafted a Bill to effect the object he has in view, - the colonization of lands whereof Native Title is at present unextinguished; the Governor to proclaim District to be subject to the Act, to be called pat. Land District; limits and extent to be determined with reference to suitability for systematic colonisation; assent of inhabitants to be ascertained by the Governor, prior to proclamation; Governor to make regulations for sale of lands in such district; make surveys, lay out towns, roads, etc., allotments given to natives; endowments for Religious and other purposes, not to exceed a specified proportion; residue to be open for
colonisation; proceeds to be applied in defraying charges, of obtaining cession, surveys, etc., residue divided into specified shares; one share subject to Land Revenue Bill, as security for the Loan, and for the Province; one share to be paid to local Board of Administration, for Public Works; one for promoting Social advancement of the Natives. Such is a brief sketch of the scheme. I have been asked for my opinion on it, and the question generally; have decided to give one officially, as that of the Nat. Dept., but intend to state my own views privately for Mr. Sewell's satisfaction. From what I have here hurriedly written, you will be prepared to give an opinion on the new policy. Mr. Sewell is dead against the Nat. Territorial Rights Bill, and for nearly the same reason as we, - except the important one. He is not for investing the Governor with independent powers. A friend of ours, who has been in the Waikato, is great with our new Treasurer; and I have little difficulty in tracing to their source, many of the sentiments expressed by the latter. The Waikato question has been agitated again. A letter from Waate Kukutai set it going. Waate is much troubled by a letter written to him by you, which he reads as an intimation to cease his work as an Assessor, and he accordingly announces
his intention of giving up. I propose to correct his misapprehension of the intention of the letter. Mr. Sewell thinks that if we tell an Assessor not to act without a Magistrate, we are bound to send one. I discuss the question conversationally, but decline to re-open it officially during the Governor's absence. Finally, however, I forward a memo, recommending that Mr. Turton be directed to return from the Bay of Plenty, via Waikato, for the purpose of ascertaining the state of the Native mind. The alternative was to allow Mr. Sewell to take the initiative. After considering the matter, I decided that it was better that our office should do this. Mr. Turton will start for the Bay of Plenty in about 10 days. He will have to visit Whakataane, for the purpose of enquiring into a matter reported by Black; who has been prevented, by the natives, who are in possession of the mouth of the river, from fetching 800 bushels of wheat bought by him from the inland party, with whom they are fighting. I suspect it will be found that the reason for this interference is that Black is suspected of supplying the latter with arms. If so, the Government cannot countenance him. The fall in the price of wheat entails great loss on Black and his employers. A letter has been written to Apanui, simply stating that the interference with Black
has been reported to the Government. This will probably elicit some reply, and a statement of the reasons for their conduct. Clendon has had his commission sent to him, accompanied by instructions from our office; but the instructions for the payment of the Assessors' salaries, are not yet issued. Mr. Sewell, at the suugestion of your friend - demurs, doubts whether the men have been chosen with special regard to their fitness for the office under the new Acts. Has an idea that fresh appointments are necessary; and that Assessors are chosen and appointed under the R.M. Ord., are not the men who should be chosen for working the new system. Again I differ, - think it quite unnecessary to write to Clendon to request him to revise the list; and the matter stands over for Richmond, who has recommended our list; and it having been approved by the Governor, I am for action being taken; and if any of the appointments prove ineligible, the men can be struck off the list. Fenton has a story about Hoterere Tawatawa, - scandalous enough, if true; but, I say, let the matter be brought forward officially, and we will call on Mr. Clendon to report. Meanwhile, what have we to do with hearsay ----- But if I have not bored you, I have tired myself; so no more at present. Of course you will not speak of what I have been putting on paper for your own eye
only. Read and burn.
Friday, 26th. March
I suppose you see the Auckland papers. The X has been down on our Department several times, (the issue of the 16th. I think it is) contains what is intended to be very severe, - takes up the Waikato question, - would make out that all was once going on well there, but that ''official jealousies'' have caused the Native Department to impede and obstruct until it is now too late, - failure is impending, and the blame of it is chargeable upon us. Success in Waikato was ''once a certainty''; the Bay of Islands not half so promising a field; and should success attend operations there, it will be owing simply to the intrinsic merits of the system. But you have probably read this with other articles on the Native Question, - from the pen of our friend Carleton. A few days previous to the appearance of the one I just spoke of, Carelton came to the office, and requested to be allowed to see the correspondence with reference to the question of appointing a Magistrate for the Waikato; claiming the right, moreover, on orders issued by the Governor to you, to allow him to see any papers, and to give him any information on Native matters he might apply for. In the absence of the Governor I declined to recognise any such
claim. At the same time I did not hesitate to inform Carleton that the views on the Native Department had been expressed, and that they were not favourable to the immediate appointment of a successor to Mr. Fenton; of all which, he said, he was perfectly aware from other sources. We discussed the question at some length; and I see that our conversation furnished the material out of which the said article is elaborated. Among the letters referred to you, is from old Taraia, - claiming to share in the payment made for the lands in the South. He seems to have heard of the final payment about to be made to Natives in the Middle Island; and to have formed some exaggerated notion about it. I told him that it was nothing but a small ''toenga'' to be given to the ''tangata whenua'', who had been overlooked in previous payments; but that the land had been fully paid for long ago, and no more payments for it would be given. To satisfy the old fellow, however, I promised that his letter should be sent on to you to Wellington. He wishes you also to bear in mind that he is to share in the money paid for land in Cook's Straits; his claim having been admitted by the natives there, and ''Na te Makarini e homai te wahi naku.''
We are getting a thousand copies of the two Native Acts printed in a separate form for distribution among the natives. I shall send copies to Clendon, and
furnish Mr. Turton with some to take with him on his circuit. They are printed in the form of a pamphlet, octavo size, English and Maori, on alternative pages. We shall probably get them out next week.
Your legacy of papers has been reduced in size; and there are but few standing over for you. There is a case in the Waikato, which may grow into something serious. The natives of the ''King Party.'' have intimated to a Mr. Cheltham, (who holds a bush licence for a house of entertainment at Rangiaohia, I believe) their intention of preventing him from bringing spirits into the ''King's territory''. Cheltham has written to the Government about it, and states that Mr. Morgan encourages these proceedings; asserting that Mr. Richmond promised that no licence should be given to sell spirits in that district. I find, however, that the granting of a licence to Cheltham was recommended by us. Cheltham's letter has been sent to Mr. Morgan, with a request that he will explain; and Cheltham advised him to act, if interfered with, viz, - to request the natives to write to the Government reporting what they had done, and their reason.
I send you a copy of the new Maori periodical, the ''Haeata'' which will speak for itself. The article by Mr. Whiteley is very good, - worth extracting for the Karere.
Baker has been going on exceedingly well; working steadily and well. All, indeed, goes on smoothly. Friend is not yet back. I am sorry Rogan is not here to write you all the chit-chat news. I can give you one item. Your friend, Miss Shiell is to be Mrs. Alex. Churton (?) I have also heard that two of the Misses Bartley are to be married, - one to Stafford, the other to Carleton. Now if you have really read all this, you are very good, and deserve great credit, and a more interesting epistle next time. By the bye, I have a bone to pick with you for passing through Onehunga without calling at my house. I was anxious you should report the state of the invalids in Wellington. I am thankful to say they are both tolerably well, though my little girl has been very seriously ill. We are anxiously looking for the English mail by the ''Lord Worsley'', which it is supposed will bring news of the fate of the Waste Lands Act, 58.
Believe me, dear McLean,
Thos. H. Smith.
To:- Donald McLean Esq.