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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

No. 21. — Copy of a Despatch from Governor Grey to Earl Grey

page 172

No. 21.
Copy of a Despatch from Governor Grey to Earl Grey.

Wellington.—Settlement of the New Zealand Company's Claims. Government House, Auckland, 26th March, 1847.

My Lord,—

In reference, to my Despatch No. 14, of the 27th January last, in which I, enclosed copies of a correspondence which had passed between His Excellency Lieut.-General Sir M. C. O'Connell and this Government upon the subject of Lieut.-Colonel McCleverty, who had been sent out to this country to settle the land claims of the New Zealand Company, having been appointed the officer in command of the troops in New Zealand, and in reference to the observations I made in that despatch upon the injuries to which the settlers were subjected by the continued delay in the adjustment of these important questions, as well as upon the disappointment which must be experienced by the Native chiefs, who, upon my explanation of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government to send out an officer to fulfil the duties which were assigned to Lieut.-Colonel McCleverty had waited patiently previously to his arrival and since his arrival, trusting that my promises would be fulfilled,—I have now the honour to report that, finding that the arrangements of the Lieutenant-General prevented me from entertaining any hopes of Lieut.-Colonel McCleverty's being able to afford me efficient assistance, and that the Natives were, at the same time, unwilling, from feelings of jealousy, to transact with the New Zealand Company's agent any business relating to the districts of land which had previously been in dispute, I found it necessary to take into my own hands the settlement of the most important of these questions.

The land claims which appeared, in the circumstances of the colony, to require, immediate adjustment were those advanced by the New Zealand Company—firstly, to the district of country including Porirua, and lying between that place and Wainui; secondly, to the District of Wairau, in the Middle Island, and the country lying immediately to the southward of that district. In both of these districts the Company had actually disposed of large quantities of land to European settlers, whom it was of course desirable, if possible, to place in possession of the sections which they had purchased; and moreover, in a military point of view, the possession of a great part of the Porirua District, and its occupation by British subjects were necessary to secure the Town of Wellington and its vicinity from future hostile attacks and aggressions from evil-disposed Natives; as it was only by the occupation of the Porirua District that the various tracks leading across the woody mountains which lie between Porirua and Wellington could be effectually closed against an enemy.

The claims of the New Zealand Company to the Porirua and Wainui districts had not only been decided upon by Mr. Commissioner Spain as against the New Zealand Company, but, after disallowing the claims of the Company to these districts, that officer had further reported that the district lying between Wainui and Porirua, inclusive of both places, must be regarded as being in the real and bonâ fide possession of the Ngatitoa Tribe; and that a district of country in the Middle Island, comprising the Wairau and a part of Queen Charlotte Sound, must likewise be regarded as being the real and bonâ fide possession of the same tribe." This latter decision really gave a claim to the Ngatitoa Tribe to a tract of country in the Middle Island extending to about a hundred miles to the south of Wairau, as their claim to the whole of this territory is identical with their claim to, the valley of the Wairau.

Under such circumstances, I determined to purchase, on behalf of the Government, from the Ngatitoa Tribe a large district of land surrounding Porirua, including as much of the land which had previously been disposed of by the New Zealand Company as I could induce the Natives to alienate, thus meeting in as far as practicable the specific claims of European settlers; and in addition to the land acquired by the New Zealand Company I determined to include within the limits of the purchased land a very extensive block of country to meet the probable prospective requirements of the Government and settlers. The Ngatitoa Tribe, after securing an extensive reserve for themselves in one continuous block (as shown in the enclosed plan), agreed to dispose of the tract of country I required (which is also shown in the enclosed plan), which included the whole of the sections the New Zealand Company claimed, with the exception of about sixteen. As Lieut.-Colone McCleverty had been directed by Her Majesty's Government to decide upon the reasonableness of the price paid to Natives for land, and as he was then at Wellington, I thought it right to take his opinion as to the sum which should be paid for this tract of land. He named the sum of £2,000, which under all the circumstances of the case appearing tome to be a reasonable and proper sum, I agreed to pay it to the Natives, arranging that one-half of the sum should be paid down on the 1st of April then following, and that the sum of £500 should be paid on the 1st of April, 1848, and a like sum upon the 1st of April, 1849.

In reference to the Wairau District, I thought it advisable not only to purchase this district, which was estimated by the Surveyor-General to contain 80,000 acres of the finest agricultural land and about 240,000 acres of the finest pasture land, but also to endeavour to purchase the whole tract of country claimed by the Ngatitoa Tribe, and extending about a hundred, miles to the southward of that valley, the greatest portion of which country is, I understand, admirably adapted to European settlers, and is likely to be almost immediately occupied by sheep and cattle, as I thought that an ultimate and decisive arrangement of this kind would be excessively advantageous to this colony. The Ngatitoa Tribe, after considerable discussion, agreed to dispose of the acquired territory, still reserving their claims to that portion of the country which is shown in the accompanying map. Upon, consultation with Colonel McCleverty I agreed to pay the Natives (who demanded the sum of £5,000) £3,000, in five annual instalments of £600 each; the first instalment of £600 to be paid on the following day, whilst the, remaining instalments of £600 each were to be paid on the 1st of April in each of the four next succeeding years.

Having completed these arrangements, I directed Major Richmond to write to the Company's agent to inform him that the New Zealand Company might, in conformity with the regulations made under the sanction of your Lordship's despatch, select such portions of land in the two districts page 173 thus purchased as they might require to fulfil their engagements with the settlers, it being understood that they should repay to the Government for the lands they might select such proportion of the total purchase-money as Her Majesty's Government might, on being informed of the arrangements I had made, direct to be refunded as a proper and reasonable payment.

I trust that the arrangement' I have made for the purchase of these two tracts of country will be satisfactory to your Lordship. Every land claim but one in the southward of the colony which is likely to occasion any further discussion or disturbance has now been disposed of.

The principle which I have adopted of annual money payments instead of giving at once large quantities of merchandise will I think, have a powerful influence on the future advancement of the Natives in civilization. They are already making rapid and unexpected strides in the arts of civilized life; and the funds thus supplied them will materially assist their advancement, whilst the experience of each year will render it probable that every successive annual payment will be more judiciously expended; and there can be no doubt that the fact of the Ngatitoa Tribe receiving for several years an annual payment from the Government will give us an almost unlimited influence over a powerful and hitherto very treacherous and dangerous tribe.

As the great majority of the land questions which had formed subjects of dispute and discussion have now been disposed of, and as the Natives have now become accustomed to Europeans, and understand that the laws and regulations of the Government must be respected and obeyed, I have no doubt, now that the uniform system of-purchasing from them such districts in their bonâ fide possession as may be required by the Government is adopted, that no further disputes or disturbances on the subject of land will take place throughout the southern portions of New Zealand.

I have, &c.,

G. Grey.

The Right Hon. Earl Grey, &c.