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A Compendium of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs in the South Island. Volume Two.

[Statement of Alexander Mackay]

Mr. Alexander Mackay, being duly sworn, states: I am delegate of the Governor under "The Native Reserves Act, 1862." The provision for the education of Natives, made by the grant to the Bishop at Motueka, appears to be very little appreciated by them. I have frequently requested them to send their children to the school, but they make so many pretended difficulties. Sometimes they have potatoes to plant, harvest to get in, and a variety of other frivolous excuses are given. They care, in fact, very little about it. There could not be a more zealous person than Mr. Ronaldson. He does all in his power to urge them to send their children, and holds a school in two different places, to give a chance to those who live at a distance to send their children. I think the soreness on the fact of the land being taken for this purpose has subsided. I have explained to them on every occasion that they are not entitled to this land, but only have a beneficial interest in it. They complain that they had been defrauded of the land by its being granted to the Bishop. The grant has generally been considered as given specially for the benefit of the Church of England Natives. The Wesleyans, Baptists, &c., have always taken that view of it. I do not know the proportion between the whole number of Natives at Motueka and those belonging to the Church of England. I presume the reserves were set apart by the New Zealand Company for the benefit of the Natives residing on the shores of Tasman's Gulf (Blind Bay), and Golden Bay (Massacre Bay). The Natives in these localities, of all denominations, have an equal right to a share of the benefit of them, in proportion to their respective numbers. I cannot say the exact proportion of the different denominations. I think the Wesleyans were the majority at that time. I am not positive on that point. The reserves given to the Bishop comprise a very large proportion of the best land in the reserves. The actual quantity reserved was 5000 acres (100 fifty acre sections). The total grant to the Bishop out of Native reserves, is 918 acres. The extent of good land is about 700 acres. I have not been over the whole of the property held by the Bishop, but I should think 200 acres would be the extent of bad land. Mr. Greenwood, in speaking of barren hills, must have been alluding to the portion of the grant which comprises the Crown lands, not Wakarewa. I can speak particularly as to the fact that the whole of the Crown land included in the page 300grant is bad. The complaint of the Natives of the grant being made is not confined to one denomination. They all join in this. I do not see how giving the land back again would benefit them in particular, as the proceeds would belong to all the Natives in the settlement. I do not think the retention by the Collingwood Natives of their reserved lands deprives them of a right to a share in the proceeds of the Motueka lands. The Golden Bay reserves were intended for the special use and occupation of the resident Natives, and similar reserves for occupation should have been made for the Motueka Natives. It has been to the detriment of the Trust property that they have, owing to the want of such occupation reserves, been allowed to occupy the New Zealand Company's reserves. It was, however, impossible to avoid this, unless other lands had been bought for them. The Motueka Natives have in occupation about 1000 acres. They cannot justly complain of want of land to cultivate. The Bishop's Trust, and the land appropriated to the use of the Natives, comprises nearly the wholo of the best land. They actually at the present time let 140 acres out of what has been appropriated for their own use, the rental being collected by Mr. Alexander Le Grand Campbell, and paid directly to them, without coming into the Trust accounts. If I had not agreed to this renting by them, they would have done it illegally and surreptitiously. If the land had been let in the usual way, and the proceeds not paid to them, they would have had a cause of complaint, as they have been recognized as the legal occupants of the land, which they would construe as legal owners of the land. They have, however, always been allowed to take the whole of the rents accruing from rents of appropriated lands; and I would say the rents were as necessary for their maintenance as the land itself was appropriated. A section of 150 acres at Takaka was exchanged with Mr. Thorpe for three of these sections at Motueka—the latter being sandy, poor land, near the beach. I think the Trust got an equivalent by this exchange. It was proposed to give Ramari a share of the Takaka land, where she was living with her husband, whose place it was. She could not agree with the Natives there, and afterwards left the place. Ramari, I think, is the only one fairly entitled to have provision made for her. I purpose to locate her on some land on the first opportunity. I have had her case under my attention for some time. I think I can manage to put her upon some of the land other Natives wish to rent, paying them the rental out of the Native Trust Fund. The Trustees of the Bishop's land under "The Natives School Act, 1867," would be entitled to aid from the General Government, which I think they are in a position to acquire a right to. The complaints about the Bishop's grant are chiefly confined to Motueka Natives. I think the reason we hear no complaints from other Natives is owing to their ignorance of their right to any share in it. It would be a great advantage if a central boarding-school could be established at Motueka, and all the Native children from the surrounding districts sent to it. It would be necessary however to adopt a different system from the one in use, before any good result could be expected; industrial training so far as out-door pursuits are concerned would have to be abondoned, but in-door handicrafts might be be taught to advantage. On reading over Mr. Greenwood's return I wish to observe that the gross rental produced from the land held by the Bishop is considerably in excess of that received by the Trust. Our gross rental for Moutere and Motueka does not exceed £360 a year, although the land let by us amounts to 2500 acres, or nearly three times as much as that let out of the Bishop's grant—confirming my statement as to the latter comprising the best of the land. I think if the boarding-school alluded to was properly established and carried on at Motueka, Natives of other denominations than Episcopal would send their children there. There are very few known Catholic Natives in the Province. I think there are none. I cannot call to mind a single individual of this persuasion. The following paper gives a brief history of the management of the Nelson reserves, which includes that of the Motueka grant to the Bishop of New Zealand:—