Copy of letter from Commissioner Crown Lands, Hokitika, to Secretary Crown Lands.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter numbered and dated as per margin, relative to the 2000 acres reserve of the Natives at the Arahura, requesting me to inform you whether the Board will consent to take the reduced piece of land, viz, 560 acres, less the quantity page 45absorbed by roads off the upper end of the reserve, in order to secure to the Natives the full benefit of the block to which they are entitled.
I have referred the matter to the Waste Lands Board as requested, and after due consideration it was agreed by them: That the Board should defer their decision until they had your reply to what I have the honour to submit for your consideration.
On the 24th February, 1868, the Hon. John Hall, who was then directing the affaire of Government here, wrote to the Hon. J. C. Richmond on the subject of roads in this Province, of which the following is an extract:—
"I am informed that a considerable portion of the Arahura reserve has now been leased without any reservation having been made in favour even of such lines of road as are absolutely necessary to keep open communication between the Northern and Southern parts of the West Coast, so that, for instance, one of the blocks so leased contains the only practicable crossing for the main road from Christchurch to Hokitika, and another block, if fenced, would bar all access to the bridge erected across the Arahura River, over which the whole of the traffic along this part of the coast is now carried. I need hardly state that it would be found practically impossible to close such lines of communication, even if a legal right to do so could reasonably be asserted, which does not appear to be the case, and that any attempt to effect such stoppage might lead to very embarrassing results. I have therefore felt bound to exercise without delay the right reserved as above mentioned, to take such further roads as are indispensable for the general traffic of the district, and have instructed Mr. Fraser, the County Surveyor, to lay out in the first instance the necessary line to provide free access to the Arahura bridge, and to a safe ford at the lower part of the River."
And I find a letter from yourself to the Crown Lands Commissioner here, of the date of April 18th, 1868, No. 144, subsequent to Mr. Hall's letter, in which you say:—
"The Hon. John Hall having caused the necessary roads to be laid out through the reserve, and thereby secured the proper rights of the public at large, whether European or Native, it may be presumed that the boundaries and position of the reserve of 2000 acres are properly ascertained and defined, and that nothing further is requisite with respect to these points."
It has however transpired since, that Mr. Mackay does not rapport the action Government in laying out the line of road to the bridge—shown in green on tracing enclosed,—and large compensation is now asked from the County Government by the lessee, for this right of road which was laid out by direction of Mr. Hall, and along which all the traffic of the coast passes.
The Board are also desirous of acquiring the right to carry the proposed Coast Railway through the reserve, and also the right of access to the only good site for a bridge up the river, as probably these will both be required before long. They are shown in red on the tracing.
If the above can be arranged satisfactorily and conceded, and provided that the Natives, in exercising their right of purchase over the land eastward of their reserve, do so, subject to the same conditions as to rights of thoroughfare, as are observed in lands alienated under the Land Regulations of the County, no further objection will be raised by the Board to the concession asked.
I am also to remark that the Board are of opinion that, as a rule, there should be in all lands leased from the Natives in Westland, from time to time, a reservation made for roads.
I have, &c.,
Crown Lands Commissioner.