Copy of letter from John Tinline, Esq., to the Commissionee of Crown Lands, Nelson.
Mr. McLean, the Chief Commissioner for the purchase of Native lands, having requested me to undertake the duty of proceeding to Massacre Bay, and endeavour to carry out a general arrangement with the Native tribes of that and the neighbouring districts for the extinguishment of their claims to lands in this Province, I do myself the honour to report to you with the view to your communicating with Mr. McLean, that in complying with the instructions contained in his letter of the 12th November, I engaged a boat and boat's crew, and left Nelson on the 21st of that month, and accompanied by Mr. Rochfort, whose services as a Surveyor would most probably be required, proceeded to Massacre Bay, calling on my way at Motueka and other Native settlements in Blind Bay.
On arriving at Motupipi and after several meetings with the Natives there, I ascertained that the chief questions I had to investigate were:—
|1.||The claim which has been set up by the Natives of Wainui to all the land extending from the Bay called Whenua-akura in Astrolabe roads, to Te Horihori in Massacre Bay, a place near the north-eastern extremity of Mr. Duffey's survey at Motupipi.|
|2.||A claim by the Natives of Takaka for their share in the lands at Takaka.|
|3.||The claims by the Natives of Tukurua and the Parapara to the lands from Onekaka, to about a mile north of the Parapara.|
The people who make these claims are all of the same tribe, the Ngatitama, and there i[gap — reason: damage] n[gap — reason: damage] dou[gap — reason: damage]t page 305the claims have been well discussed among them, for they show every determination to assert them to the utmost.
I have carefully investigated the several claims, and I believe the two first are made upon tolerably good grounds, but the third I consider doubtful, and one of afterthought and design.
As the question is still unsettled, and has assumed a serious character, I think it my duty to lay before you my previous knowledge of the matter and the judgment I have formed thereupon, which may be of use to Mr. McLean when he finally settles with these Natives.
All these lands were included in Mr. Spain's award to the New Zealand Company, and the disputing Natives acknowledge having received from the Company their share of the goods which were distributed to the different tribes in Blind Bay and Massacre Bay, but they ground their present claim upon their not having participated in the money which was apportioned by Mr. Spain for Massacre Bay. That money (£300) lay for some time in Nelson, after Mr. Spain had held his Court, the Natives refusing to accept it, as they considered it too small a sum. At length, on the 10th October, 1845, the principal chiefs of Massacre Bay who had come over to Nelson, signed a paper (a copy of which is annexed, Enclosure No. 1), agreeing to receive the amount awarded, and amongst these chiefs was Te Meihana, as representing the Takaka Natives. At the request of the Natives, the money was taken over to Motupipi by Mr. Fox, the Agent of the New Zealand Company, accompanied by Mr. Sinclair (the Chief Police Magistrate at Nelson), the Rev. C. L. Reay, the Rev. John Aldred, and myself. The money was paid to the Natives then assembled, and a deed taken on the occasion, a copy of which is annexed (Enclosure No. 2). The above named Te Meihana was then absent, but Te Aupouri of the Ngatitama tribe signed for him, and engaged to settle with him and his people. All the English gentlemen I have mentioned, who were witnesses to the payment of the money, and myself took every precaution to ascertain the names of the Natives interested, and to get them to be parties to the transaction, and all of us considered that the matter was fully settled.
In September, 1847, Mr. Sinclair and myself were again in Massacre Bay, being engaged in laying off reserves for Native purposes, and Te Meihana and his people of Takaka brought before us a complaint that Te Aupouri had failed to pay him any part of Mr. Spain's money (as it was called), and requested Mr. Sinclair to endeavour to settle the matter. We called a meeting of the different Natives, both complainants and those complained against, when the former asserted their right to the district by virtue of occupancy by permission from Te Iti, a chief of Motueka, to whom they had given canoes and other presents in payment. Te Aupouri and the Ngatirarua people replied that they only recognized Te Iti, who was, like themselves, amongst the first conquerors of the district, and had paid him £30, and it was for Te Meihana's people to look to him. Mr. Sinclair did not interfere further in the affair, but left the Natives to settle it amongst themselves. Ever since, however, these Takaka Natives have complained of being unjustly dealt with, and have looked to the Government to see them righted.
It was whilst upon this visit to Massacre Bay that we found a considerable body of Natives at Wainui, who made a formal application for payment of their lands there, and in that neighbourhood, and Mr. Sinclair in making his report to the Colonial Secretary, 19th October, 1847, thought it necessary to mention this claim in these words, "I ought to observe that these Natives deny having received compensation from the New Zealand Company, and they look for payment before they will allow the Company to survey the land; however, it seems to me of very little consequence to the Company, as beyond the block I have set off in the Wainui valley, there is very little other available land in the whole district, and very few inducements for European cultivators to occupy it."
Upon entering upon the investigation of these claims, it is necessary to bear in mind that the lands now in dispute were never exclusively the property of one party, but, as they were originally gained in conquest by a number of tribes, the Ngatitoa, Ngatirarua, Ngatiawa, Ngatitama, and Ngati-koata, then these tribes had all some interest in them. I consider it, therefore, of great importance, that Mr. Spain's award should be kept inviolate, as it at least holds good against those parties who received money under it. In my late meetings with the Natives at Motupipi, I based my negotiations on that award, as I felt convinced it was the only way the Government could settle the present claims upon reasonable terms, and I therefore intimated to the Natives that I considered the land in dispute was already purchased, but that the question for me to investigate was as to how the money awarded by Mr. Spain was distributed, and should I find that any tribe had not received a share of that money, I would on the part of Government take the claim of that tribe into consideration, and recommend some compensation to be made. This plan I feel certain is the fairest that could be adopted, as unless some approximation is made to the money payments formerly made, it would cause great dissatisfaction to the Ngatirarua and other tribes who have already received compensation, and who would be inclined to make fresh demands if they saw any large sum of money now paid. The Natives of Wainui are most anxious to make out that these lands were never included in Mr. Spain's award, and that this is entirely a new sale, and their demands accordingly are most exorbitant. They ask £300 in liquidation of their claim. In the course of my negotiations with them, we went carefully over the plans of the land in dispute, and examined the reserves which have been made for them, when at their suggestion I agreed to cancel certain old and useless reserves, and to set apart other land in their place.
Having convinced myself that both the Takaka and Wainui Natives have never received any part of the money awarded by Mr. Spain, I took their case into consideration, and offered them jointly £150, in full payment of all their claims; but this they rejected, and they are now determined to appeal to Mr. McLean, in the hope of getting a larger amount from him. I am still of opinion, however, that the sum I offered is as much as these Natives are entitled to, and for the reasons I have stated any larger payment would be injudicious.
As some disputes had arisen between the Natives of Takaka and some European settlers about the boundaries of the reserves there, I engaged Mr. Rochfort's services to survey the lands in dispute, page 306and I determined to settle the differences between the parties as fairly as it was possible to do. A more detailed account of the transaction I have given you in my letter of the 7th instant. According to the measurements of the plan upon the ground. Mr. Rochfort found that a great deal of the old cultivations, together with all the Native buildings, are not within the reserve at all, but upon Section No. 13. This has given great offence to the Natives, as the Government has always assured them that their cultivations and pahs would be respected, and it is of great importance that this promise should not be broken. I think that when Mr. Heaphy laid off the cultivations, he must have made some mistake in plotting them upon the plans in the Survey Office, but it would be unjust for the Natives to suffer from the mistake. I would therefore recommend most strongly that the Government should acquire Section No. 13, and add to the reserve in question the land coloured yellow in the accompanying plan, and which embraces the houses and cultivations at present left out.
With reference to the Native reserves in general, I ought to observe that I found a universal feeling of discontent amongst the Natives upon the subject; not only is it asserted that they are too small, but the limited and undefined power over them of the parties in occupation gives much dissatisfaction. My own opinion is, with regard to the Native lands in Massacre Bay, that as they were reserved for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of that district exclusively, and not in trust, as in other parts of this settlement, those Natives ought at least to have the power to let on lease such portions of these reserves as they are not in immediate want of. To prevent their being taken advantage of in such transactions, it would be advisable for the Government to be a party and give its sanction to them.
There are several Natives who are desirous to acquire land from the Government by purchase, and it would be prudent to offer every facility for that purpose, as this would, in a great measure, get over the objection to the present reserves being too small, and it would likewise have a salutary effect towards keeping the Natives on peaceable terms, as it raises them on an equality with Europeans, as landed proprietors, with the risk of having property to lose. Some of these Natives can pay for considerable portions of lands at once, whilst others would require time to pay the purchase-money by instalments. The sections the Natives would like to buy are Nos. and, the first for the Ngatirarua Natives of Motupipi, the second for the Natives of Takaka, and the third for a small tribe now living at Motupipi, of whom a Native named Rawiri is chief. Rawiri and his people are entirely without land of their own. They are merely squatting upon sufferance on other Native land, and unless the Government takes care that some provision is made for them, they must soon emigrate to Taranaki, to which place they belong. Should the Government accede to the sale of these lands to the Natives, a Surveyor should be sent over to lay them off in blocks according to the directions and wishes of the purchasers, and Crown grants might be issued to them individually, when the money is paid.
My negotiations at Motupipi having terminated abruptly and unsuccessfully, I proceeded to Tukurua, where the Native named Pirika, who has had the disturbance with Mr. Caldwell, is residing. The claim of this man with a few others living at Te Parapara, headed by the Native named Henare te Ranga, is quite a new one. When Mr. Spain's money was paid, these people lived at Te Parapara, near the Aorere, and I am informed that Thomas Freeman and Hori, the chiefs there, received £100 as their share of that money, and with this they were to settle with the other Natives living with them. The two men who are now disputing the sale of land, say that their fathers and relations received no part of the money, and they themselves were very young, and did not understand much about the matter, but that since they have grown up, they consider themselves owners of the land. I believe their claim to be most unreasonable, and that their conduct to Mr. Caldwell has been unjustifiable. Mr. Caldwell, however, represented his circumstances to me in such a manner, the losses he has already sustained, and the dependent state he would be in were he forced to leave the land he has bought and paid for, that without entering particularly into the merits of the claim of the Natives, I offered to pay them £100 to settle the dispute, but this they refused to accept. They imagine they will be better off by referring the matter to Mr. McLean, but, I consider that even although their claim was just, which I believe it is not, the sum I have offered is more than they would be entitled to, the whole of the land in dispute with the exception of the piece belonging to Mr. Caldwell being of limited extent and very worthless. When the reserves in the Aorere were laid off in 1847, the present disputing Natives lived there, and their numbers were considered when Section No. 34 was set apart for the Ngatitama people, then residing at Te Paripari. Since that period they have returned to what they term their original lands at Tukurua and Te Parapara, apparently with the view of asserting their present claim. Should it be found necessary to pay any sum of money to these people, I should certainly advise that a portion of the Aorere Section No. 34 equivalent to their numbers, be cancelled and held back by the Crown. Before concluding my observations upon this claim, I think it but right to mention that there are some very old cultivations upon the land now held by Mr. Caldwell, which were neglected to have been surveyed and reserved by Mr. Heaphy, amounting to about 10 or 15 acres, and I believe if this had been done, the Native Pirika would have been satisfied from the beginning. He bears a good character as an obliging and industrious man, and it appears he had fenced in and cropped a portion of these old cultivations when Mr. Blackborough bought the section from the Government, and ordered him to remove and confine himself to his garden, consisting of about three quarters of an acre. This and other small grievances have annoyed the man, and I think the leader of the Parapara people, Henare te Ranga, who is a very designing person, has urged him to join him in asserting a claim to the whole district. I am told by Mr. Blackborough that previous to selling the land to Mr. Caldwell, he was offered £80 by Pirika for it, if credit could be given, so that it is after this time he could have thought of making the present claim. I went as far as the Native settlement at the Parapara, where there are residing about a dozen Natives. It would, I think, be advisable to set apart in addition to the reserves on Section No. 193, the whole of that section as it is only suitable for Native purposes. The land generally is of a very inferior description.page 307
On ending my conference with these Natives I visited Pariwakaho, where the Ngatiawa chief Henare te Keha resides. He and his son informed me that Mr. McLean had promised to give them the Section No. 79 of that district, on which they have their pah and chief part of their cultivations. I told them that Mr. McLean had not mentioned the subject to me, but that I would lay off the boundaries of the section, and see what kind of land it was, but I myself could make them no promise of the land, and must refer the matter to Mr. McLean. I examined the section and found three-fourths of it consisting of hill or land not worth the cultivation. Still I think that in this instance the land should not be given as a present, as Henare te Keha is not a very old resident here, and a jealous feeling would be created amongst other Natives if any preference was shown him. It would be much better if some arrangement could be made for his purchasing it.
I intended to have proceeded to the Aorere, but the Natives of that place had gone over to Nelson. I understood it to be the wish of the tribe interested in Section No. 34 on the north bank of the Aorere, to get it exchanged for Section No. 16 on the south bank, the former being found to be wet land, and at the same time the Natives generally being anxious to have their two sections in close proximity. I beg to recommend that such exchange be made.
Having fulfilled my mission, as far as it was possible for me to do, I returned to Nelson on Saturday, the 13th instant. I much regret that I was unable to bring these perplexing land questions to a successful termination, but I think that on Mr. M'Lean's return, when he again opens negotiations with the several Native claimants, if a firm stand is taken by the Government to resist their extravagant demands, a fair and satisfactory result will be attained.
I have, &c.,
Major Richmond, Commissioner of Crown Lands, Nelson.