Mr. W. Fox to His Excellency Sir George Grey.
I have the honor to inform your Excellency that Mr. Thomas, the Agent and Surveyor-General of the Canterbury Association, deputed to select a site for the settlement contemplated by that body, has intimated to me his intention of fixing upon Port Cooper and the adjacent country, if he should obtain the concurrence of yourself and of his Lordship the Bishop, which by his instructions he is directed to secure before commencing the preliminary operations of the undertaking. It is therefore probable that, in pursuance of the arrangements between the Canterbury Association and the New Zealand Company, I shall shortly be called upon to put Mr. Thomas in possession of the district referred to; but I find that a difficulty exists, to which I have the honor to call your Excellency's attention, and towards obviating which I have to request your assistance.
The only harbour from which the extensive plains which Mr. Thomas proposes to occupy can be approached is Port Cooper, in which must necessarily be the site of the commercial town (probably the chief city) of the settlement, and for practical purposes it is desirable that Port Levy, which is almost a branch of Port Cooper, should be also placed at his disposal. In fact, should he be unable to obtain this, it would, I am afraid, be almost fatal to the success of the project intrusted to his administration.
The plain adjoining Port Cooper, which was, as your Excellency is aware, lately purchased by the local Government from the Natives, is now at its disposal, and no difficulty arises with regard to it; but on referring to the Parliamentary paper in my possession I observe that the undefined claim of the Nanto-Bordelaise Company to a grant of 30,000 acres on Banks Peninsula appears to extend to some parts of Ports Cooper and Levy; and, as Mr. Thomas declines proceeding till the boundaries of the French grant are defined, I now beg to apply to your Excellency on the subject.
The facts of the French claim, as far as I am acquainted with them, are these:—In October, 1843, the Agent of the Nanto-Bordelaise Company submitted their claim to Mr. Commissioner Godfrey; that officer declined to make an award in their favour, on the ground that their purchases, having been effected after the date of the Proclamation of Sir George Gipps (14th January, 1840), were null and void, but he reported the evidence specially to the Government.
In 1845 an arrangement was made between Lord Stanley, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the French Company, to the effect that, in consideration of an alleged expenditure by the Company on the objects of colonization, a grant of 30,000 acres should be made to it, embracing such portions as the Natives might admit the sale of to the French Company, and as much more, if any, as might be necessary to make up 30,000 acres, the latter portion to be obtained by the intervention of an officer of the local Government whom your Excellency was directed to depute for the purpose of assisting the Agent of the Company in effecting an arrangement with the Natives, and acquiring quiet possession of the land.
Before the instructions referred to could have reached your Excellency, the local agent of the French Company, M. Belligny, had, I believed, left New Zealand, and no representative of the Company has since been in the Colony. I presume it was owing to this circumstance that the instructions have not hitherto been acted upon, and that the district in question still continues encumbered with the undefined claim of the French Company.
When recently at Port Cooper, I endeavoured to learn what portions of land at that place and Port Levy had been purchased by the French, but was not able to ascertain anything precise. The Natives though they admit some sales, deny having received the stipulated payments, and profess to be in expectation of still receiving a large sum of money (£5,000) from the French Company.
The circumstances then, as they appear to me, being these,—that the purchases of the French Company were reported against by the Commissioner, and declared "null and void;" that the subsequent arrangement effected by Lord Stanley was one of grace and favour only; that the transaction still remains open through the neglect of the French Company, who since 1845 have done nothing to define or establish their claim; that while it continues undefined, and supposed to extend to some portions of the only harbours from which the great plains can be occupied, the colonization of nearly all the Middle Island north of Otago must stand still,—I beg to submit the following propositions for your Excellency's consideration:—
|1.||That your Excellency should issue to the New Zealand Company a Crown Grant of such portion of the Port Cooper country as may be specified by me, including the harbours of Port Cooper and Port Levy; I undertaking, on the part of the New Zealand Company, to compensate the Nanto-Bordelaise Company for any portion of land which they shall prove to the satisfaction of yourself to have been bonâ fide purchased by them in those harbours, and to which they would be entitled under the arrangement with Lord Stanley, such compensation being given in land in some other part of Banks Peninsula or elsewhere in New Zealand, on the award of three indifferent persons, one selected by the local Government, one by the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, and one by the New Zealand Company, and assessed with reference to the value of the land at the date of the alleged purchases by the French Company.|
|2.||Or, that your Excellency, acting in the spirit of the 13th chapter of the Royal Instructions accompanying the Charter of 1846, should reserve the harbours of Port Cooper and Port Levy, and the site of towns therein, they being absolutely necessary for the public purposes of the vast district page 251beyond, in which the French have no claim, and which cannot be occupied without these harbours.|
In making these propositions, I beg to observe that Akaroa (to which place the French Company's emigration and expenditure has been exclusively directed) and Pigeon Bay, both first-rate harbours, and several minor ones, would be left open to the French, in the two first of which their rights are fully recognized by the Natives.
I have also to request your Excellency's attention to another point, which, however, is not connected with the French claim. The conveyance of the Port Cooper country, executed on the late purchase of that district by the Government, does, I believe, in terms comprise all the lands between Kaiapoi, the southern boundary of the Otago grant, of course including Banks Peninsula, which I understand is not excepted in the deed. I am informed that the Peninsula was coloured green, as indicative of its being encumbered by the French Company. The Natives now assert that the Peninsula was not sold, and that Ports Cooper and Levy consequently do not belong to the Government.
If it were a mere question whether a small additional payment should be made, there would perhaps be no great difficulty in this; but I hope that your Excellency may be able to feel satisfied that Port Cooper and Port Levy, as well as the rest of Banks Peninsula, are comprised in the late purchase from the Natives. If your Excellency should think otherwise, I have then to request that the necessary steps may be taken to extinguish the Native title to the district in question.
I have, &c.,
Acting Principal Agent, N.Z. Company.
His Excellency Sir George Grey.