Dft. to the honorable The Colonial Secretary
General Report dated 29th. April 1854
April 29th, 1854
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your cicular letter of the 28th, of January last, di-recting me to make a report upon the general state of this district, especially as regards the disposition and general condition of the aboriginal natives.
2. In order clearly to explain the state of the Land Question, and the general condition of the Abor-iginies, - two subjects so inseparably connected that it is impossible in a report of this kind to draw a dis-tinction between them - it will be necessary to take a rapid review of the history of the settlement from its foundation by the New Zealand Company.
3. The tract of country now occupied by the New Ply-mouth settlers, was, several years ago, one of the most densely populated districts in New Zealand; of which fact, abundant evidence is to be found in the vast number of old pas, and patches of ground bearing indications
of having been cultivated; which are every-where to be found. It was inhabitated by the Taranaki and Ngatiawa tribes; who, about the years 1834 to 1836, were conquered by the Waikato natives, in a series of sanguinary engagements, terminating in the storming of their great stronghold, Pukerangiora pa, on the Waitara river. The result of these wars was the almost entire depopulation of this fine district, as far South as Cape Egmont. Vast numbers of the inhabitants were kill-ed; some were taken as slaves, to Waikato; a few escaped and hid themselves in the forest, whilst others fled to the South, where they in their turn over-ran and took possession of the districts of Waikanae, Port Nicholson, and the northern coast of the Middle Island from Kaikoura to Blind Bay. The Waikato tribes never occupied the country they had over-run, and the conse-quence was that when Colonel Wakefield arrived here in 1839, the inhabitants of the country from Waitara to the Sugar-loaf Islands numbered about forty souls.
4. From these natives, Colonel Wakefield, with the assistance of a whaler named Barrett, who acted as his interpreter, purchased a large Block of land; making also a payment to the absentee proprietors at the South, in consideration of their rights to the district they had been driven from. Shortly afterwards, a payment
of four hundred pounds was made by the Governor Hobson to the Waikato Chiefs to relinquish their title by right of conquest.
5. The Company's settlers arrived in the early part of the year 1841; the settlement of New Zealand was founded, and the land from the Sugar Loaf Islands to Waitara at once occupied by a thinly dispersed population.
6. In 1844, Mr. Commissioner Spain investigated the title of the New Zealand Company; and awarded them a Block of sixty thousand acres, with cer-tain exceptions, subject to a further payment by the Company, of two hundred pounds, to be expended by the Government for the benefit of the Natives.
7. About this time the fugitives and slaves began to return to the land of their ancestors; their attachment to which, having been in no wise diminished by their temporary absence, induced them to seize the opportunity of returning, afforded by the extinction of the Waikato Title; which, together with the authority of the English law, and the spread of Christianity, they knew would be a sufficient guarantee to them against future incursions. These people positively refused to recognise Colonel Wakefield's title, or Mr. Spain's
confirmation of it; for the slaves (amongst whom were many of the principal Chiefs of the District) had been entirely passed over, and the payments intended to extinguish the title of the refugees at the South, had been mixed up with the purchase of other Districts, and made to a few of the Chiefs, by whom it was divided as they thought proper; and thus the great majority of the absentee claimants had received absolutely nothing for their land. The consequence was, that, emboldened by the numerical weakness of the English settlers, and by the prospect of a speedy reinforcement of their own relatives; urged also by the natural attachment, so strong in all savages, to the land of their fore-fath-ers, these men commenced a system of petty annoyance to the settlers, whom they regarded as trespassers; and the latter, naturally irritated at these proceedings, and ignorant of the language and customs of the aboriginies, in some cases resisted their attempts to assert a claim to the soil in such a manner; and accompanied by such language as gave deep offence to the wild and semi-barbarous natives by whom they were surrounded. A feeling of mutual animosity between the races was thus engendered; which, even at this distancs of time, has not wholly disappeared; and whence, in a great measure, originated the difficulties which have since beset the purchase of land in this District.
At the same time, the affairs of the Colony generally, were beginning to assume a very threatening aspect. The recent massacre of the Wairau had given one fearful warning of the dangers of attempting forcibly to occupy land, the native title to which, had not been fully extinguished. A rebellion had already broken out in the South, and the natives at Wellington were showing symptoms of an intention to dissipate the occupancy of the valley of the Hutt, with the Company's settlers.
The Colonial Treasury was without funds; and the garrison of the Colony consisted of One Company of Infantry quartered in Auckland.
8. Matters were in this state, when, late in the year 1844, Governor Fizt Roy arrived in New Plymouth, and disallowed the Court's award which affirmed the New Zealand Company's title; alleging as his reason, in a letter which he wrote to Colonel Wakefield, that Mr. Spain had passed over the claims of the slaves, (whose manumission restored them, according to native custom, to all their original rights), and of the greater part of the absentee owners residing at the South. His Excellency, at the same time, purchased from the natives, a Block of 8500 acres of land, including and immediately surrounding, the town site of New Plymouth; and called in the outlying settlers, whom he located
within the boundaries of the new purchase, compensating them for the improvements they were obliged to abandon. The "Fitz Roy" Block was purchased in November 1844, etc., (see p 19) (?) for an amount of about £340 paid in cash, goods, and cattle; and the total cost of the purchase (including payment to absentees, etc.) has been £507.8.9.
9. In May 1847, the Pataraimaka Block, containing 4000 acres, was acquired at a cost, altogether, of £210.
10. The next purchase was the Omata Block of 12,000 acres. This was acquired in August 1847, and its total cost has been £434.3.0.
11. The Grey Block was purchased in October of the same year. It consists of 9,770 acres, chiefly of forest land, and has cost altogether £390.
12. In November 1848, two purchases were effected. The first, consisting of seventy acres, was a farm belonging to Mr. Cooke, one of the original settlers; who, through his influence with the natives, had been permitted to continue in occupation of his land when the others were removed in 1844. This land was paid for in cattle, and cost £23.5.0. The second purchase is known as the Bell Block, containing 1400 acres; for which
a sum of £200 was paid in the first instance; and the total cost of which, including payments to absentee claimants, has been £354.
13. From that time, no further purchases could be effected until August 1853, when the Waiwakaiho Block was obtained at a cost altogether of £1545 paid to resident natives, and in March 1854, the Hua Block was added to the former, at a cost of £3,000. The estimated area of the former Block is about 17,000; and that of the latter about 14,000 acres; making altogether an extent of 31,000 acres; for which £4,545 has been paid to resident natiyes; and £1,000 to absentees, - in all, £5,745. I have taken these two Blocks together, as they adjoin each other, and the claims of the settlers are so mixed up, that it is necessary to look upon the whole as one purchase.
14. The total estimated area of these purchases is therefore 61,740, which have been obtained at a cost of £7,663,14.9; of which £6,083.14.9 has been paid to resident natives; and the balance of £1,580 to absentee claimants residing on either shore of Cook's Straits. The above sum of £7,663.14.9 consists only of sums paid to natives for the extinction of their title, since the year 1844, and therefore does
not include the payments made by Colonel Wakefield in 1839 and 1840; the £400 paid to the Waikato Chiefs by Governor Hobson, or any incidental expenditure, - as for surveys, occasional payments to Chiefs, etc.,
15. The lands at present under negotiation for purchase, are, - the Oakura Block, containing about 8,000 acres, in the district between Omata and Pataraimaka; and the Waiongana Block, lying between the Mangoraka and Waiongana rivers, and estimated to contain about 10,000 acres. A powerful opposition, however, exists to both negotiations, so that it is difficult to predict when they may be brought to a successful termination.
16. The new regulations, by which the price of land is reduced to ten shillings per acre, are likely to operate very favourably on the Native population of this district, in a variety of ways. In the purchase of the Hua Block, an arrangement was made that out of the £3000 agreed upon as the purchase money, £1,000 should be kept back for the purchase of land for the natives, in lieu of the extensive reserves usually made. By this arrangement, the natives become possessed of land to which they at once obtain a Crown Title; the difference between which, and the tenure on which they
formerly held their reserves, is clearly understood by them. Under the old system, portions of land were set apart for a number of natives, who all had a common right of cultivation and occupation; but none of whom could alienate his claim, or clearly define his rights; and these Reserves have consequently been a fruitful source of quarrelling and oppression. Instead of this, each man now has his individual piece of land assured to him by a Crown Grant, and can dispose of it as he pleases; and he now, for the first time, feels himself in a position of security, at peace with his neighbours, and protected by the laws under which he lives. The good effects of this change are already becoming apparent in the gradual weakening of the (vide P.S.) opposition, and the increased eagerness to sell, of those who were formerly well disposed (vide P.S.) towards the Government. The result which has yet to be developed is the amelioration of the condition of the natives generally, as a consequence of the inducement to exchange their present mode of living in wretched hovels, crowded into unhealthy pas, for substantial wooden houses erected on their own lands; and to increase their stock and cultivations. By these means, they will gradually acquire a better knowledge of the value and use of money; and will in a very short space of time take their stand on terms of equality with the English settlers, by whose
example they will soon learn how to avail themselves of the political privileges they obtain through their newly acquired property, and thus, in course of time, a tribe of wild and semi-barbarous savages will become a body of loyal, wealthy and valuable settlers. So eager are they to acquire lands under the new tenure, that they have laid up a further sum of One Thousand Pounds, out of the £2,000 paid for the Hua Block, to be expended in competing with the English settlers for additional land, when the Block shall be thrown open for general selection.
17. The greatest obstacle to the acquisition ofland by Government in this Province, and especially of late years, consists of a regularly organised and sustained opposition, or as it may be called, an "Anti-land-selling League." This compact has been joined in by the Ngatiruanui, Taranaki, and a considerable portion of the Ngatiawa, tribes; and the League has been ratified and confirmed at several aggregate meeting, with various formulas and solemnities, a copy of the Holy Scriptures having on one occasion been buried in the earth, and a cairn of stones erected on the spot, in attestation of the inviolability of the oath to oppose the sale of land by every means in their power, which was then taken by the confederated Chiefs. I am
happy, however, in being able to report that notwithstanding these and other solemnities, the League - as far at least as it affects the Ngatiawa, and Northern Taranaki tribes, is manifesting signs of breaking up at no very distant period; indeed several Chiefs have already formally seceded from it, and others are evidently wavering, only waiting a plausible excuse for openly avowing the desire - long concealed - to dispose of their lands to the Government. This change is chiefly attributable to the extension to the natives of the boon of cheap land conferred on the Colony by the Land Regulations of March 1853.
18. The Province of New Plymouth is inhabited by three principal tribes, - Ngatiawa, Taranaki, and Ngatiaruanui. The district at present occupied by Ngatiawa, extends from Pari Ninihi cliffs to the Sugarloaf Islands, a distance of thirty-five miles along the Coast. The Taranaki tribe inhabits that lying between the Sugar-Loaf Islands, and a stream called Kaupokonui, including Cape Egmont, - a coast line of sixty miles. The remaining country, as far as the Patea river (the Southern boundary of the Province) is inhabited by Ngatiruanui, whose coast line comprises an extent of about fifty-five miles. The coast between Mokau and the Pari Ninihi is at present inhabited by a few natives (numbering
probably about 60) belonging chiefly to Ngatimaniapoto, but who are also so much mixed up with Ngatiawa that it is difficult to assign to them any distinctive name. The land on which they reside is debateable ground, having originally belonged to Ngatimetenga, a section of Ngatiawa, who still assert their right to the soil, upon which they are gradually encroaching.
19. It has been found impossible to obtain a census of the Native population, from an idea which they have formed that the object of the Government in seeking the information is that they may calculate what force would be required to exterminate the Maoris, and seize upon the land. The general opinion, however, of those best qualified to form an estimate, is that the population of each of the three principal tribes amounts to about one thousand souls, of whom a large proportion are males capable of bearing arms. Besides these, there is another small tribe, inhabiting the inland country lying between Ngatiawa and Ngatiruanui, and connected alike with both tribes, called Ngatimaru. This tribe is the most wild and uncivilized of any inhabiting the Province. Its population may be taken at about three hundred
20. The total aboriginal population of the Province may therefore be considered as scarcely amounting
to 3,500 souls.
21. The Ngatiawa, - from living amongst the English, and enjoying the advantage of a ready market for their surplus produce and labour, is by far the richest of all the neighbouring tribes. They cultivate a large and annually increasing quantity of land, from which they produce wheat, oats, maize, and potatoes. The amount paid by the two principal mercantile firms for native produce exported by them last year, was upwards of £2,800; and it is estimated that their purchases of produce exclusively Maori, for 1854, will amount to not less than £5,000; of which about £1,200 has already been paid. Besides annual revenue, the Ngatiawa natives possess a considerable quantity of stock and farming implements, estimated, from the best returns I have been able to obtain, as follows:-
to 300 head of cattle,
pairs of harrows,
They have erected ten wooden houses, and about ten more are to be immediately commenced. One individual lately purchased two town sections for fifty pounds, cash, and took a lease for five years of three others, at an annual rental of twelve pounds, with a purchasing clause, entitling him to a refusal of the land, during his tenure,
for £80. Two other natives possess town sections which they purchased at a Government auction, for the respective sums of £21 and £15; and orders are now being sent to Sydney for three or four others, at the same price. Several individuals are about to turn their attention to the feeding of sheep, so soon as sufficient quantity of land is under grass. These natives have not built any flour mills, as it pays them better to sell their wheat in the English market.
22. I have been unable to obtain statistics of the property possessed by the Taranaki and Ngatiruanui tribes; but it is very much less than that of the Ngatiawa. The Taranaki natives have two water mills; one of which is out of order, and the other in course of erection. In the Ngatiruanui District, there are three; two of which are unfit for work. They have several cattle and horses, but excepting the small section of the Taranaki tribe living between Tataramaka and the town, - I have seen no farming implements among them. I am aware that, with the above exception, they have no carts; for, from their jealousy on the subject of their land, they will not allow a road to be made; and I do not believe that a plough could be found between Tataraimaka and Patea. From the want of a market these natives are very poor, although they
annually raise large quantities of agricultural produce; the surplusage of which lies on their hands until it becomes unfit for food. Their only means of obtaining money wherewith to purchase clothing and other necessaries, are by driving their pigs to the towns of New Plymouth and Wanganui; and by visiting these settlements in the harvest and planting seasons, in parties, to work for the English farmers.
Thus hundreds of thousands of acres of the finest land in the Islands, lie unproductive, and the inhabitants remain in a state of poverty and ignorance on account of their objection to its being colonized by the English. To such an extent is this feeling of jealousy of the white men carried, thay they will not even live from Cape Egmont to Waitotara, - a distance of about 105 miles; and excepting from 150 to 2000 natives, is destitute of spiritual supervision, save in the rare and hurried visits of Missionaries from distant stations. The establishments at the two places above named are likely soon to be broken up, from the same cause; when they will not be resident a clergyman of any denomination between New Plymouth and Wanganui.
23. The most striking point of difference between the Native inhabitants of this Province, and those of other parts of the Islands, is the very small
extent of authority and influence possessed by the Chiefs over their followers. This arises from the fact of their having been conquered, and either enslaved, or driven as fugitives from the land of their ancestors; when nearly all their heir-looms of weapons, ornaments, mats, etc., and their old carvings on sacred houses, tombs, etc., were either carried off, or destroyed by the victors. The consequence of this has been that the ancient rites of the tapu and other superstitious ceremonies by which the authority of the Chiefs and the priests was maintained, were completely broken up, and lost sight of; and thus the power of the Chiefs and the respect of their followers, once destroyed by conquest and slavery, could never be regained.
24. It is chiefly on this account that the authorities here have found so much difficulty in enforcing obedience to the law. But I am happy to be able to report that, in proportion as the Aboriginal population increase in wealth, these difficulties diminish; the natural result of the acquisition of property to be protected, creating a respect for the laws from which that protection is derived.
25. In the difficult task of controlling and subjecting to the English laws, a race of warlike and hardy savages, greatly our superiors in numbers and physical
strength, the authorities of New Plymouth have derived most efficient assistance from the natives enrolled in the Police Force, and the Native Assessors. The latter body of men have been most judiciously selected from amongst the Chiefs; and their services permanently secured by paying them each a small salary, instead of the allowance usually given on occasions of their assistance being required in the Resident Magistrate's Court. To these men we are indebted for having, on more than one occasion, saved the existence of the settlement; and some of the settlers owe their lives to their interference. Their intervention is in daily requisition in cases of dispute, either between the settlers and natives, or amongst the natives themselves; on which occasions they come forward with the greatest alacrity, act with judgment, and spare no pains in adjusting matters. Their decisions and advice are generally respected and are always found to be just and upright. But it is not only in settling petty disputes; in tracing out offenders, and bringing them to justice; recovering the property of settlers, (frequently detained according to native custom, for some dispute about cattle trespassing, etc.,) and matters of the like description, that the services of the Assessors have been found invaluable to the settlement. In land negotiations, their advice has always been faithfully
and honestly given, and has for the most part been found of great value by the negotiating officer; and they are at all times ready at a moment's warning, and at any personal sacrifice, to lend their aid to the full extent of their influence, either in furthering a purchase of land, or in co-operating with the authorities in any other manner in which they may be required. In short, the experiment of maintaining a staff of regularly paid assessors has been most successful in this Province; and, were any change in the policy of the Government, either of motives of economy, or otherwise, to deprive the local authorities of the services of this valuable body of men, the result would be most unfortunate for the settlement, whose peace and even safety, might possibly be perilled, and the purchase of land impeded, if not temporarily stopped, by the withdrawal of their services.
26. In conclusion, I am happy to report, that never, since its foundation in 1841, has the settlement of New Plymouth been in so prosperous condition as it is at present. Her Majesty's subjects of both races are living in a state of perfect tranquility and security; and old feelings of mutual animosity and distrust are gradually dying away. After several years of inclement seasons deficient crops, we have been blessed with an unusually fine summer, and an abundant harvest; and the greatly
enhanced value of all farm produce, has given an impetus to agriculture, including every farmer, - native as well as European - to extend his cultivations to the utmost of his power. As a consequence of this, the money market is healthy as well as supplied. Numerous vessels have lately visited the roadstead, exchanging cargoes of sheep, herd, and cattle, for produce. The revenue is rapidly increasing, and every branch of trade is prospering to a degree hitherto unknown.
I have, etc.,
P.S. Since writing the foregoing report, I have received two native letters, copies of which I do myself the honour to enclose herewith, as illustrating the three following statements in paragraphs 16.17, and 25 -
1. That the good effects of the new land regulations "are already becoming apparent in the gradual weakening (see encl. No. 2) of the opposition, and the increased eagerness (see Encl. No.1) to sell, of those who formerly were well disposed towards the Government."
2. That (see Encl. No. 2) the league is "manifesting signs of oreaking up at no very distant period". Te Ngahuru was sent to me to Ngatiruanui, a distance of about 60 (blurred and indistinct miles, to attend and report
the proceedings of a meeting of the opposition league, held on 26th. and following days of April last.
3. That the Assessors are always ready to co-operate with the authorities in any manner in which they may be required.
Enclosures referred to:-
Encl. No.1 Ihaia and Tamati Waka to Mr. Cooper May 5th. 1854
, copy and transl.
Encl. No.2 Te Ngahuru to Mr. Cooper May. 1st. 1854
copy and transl.