Colonel Godfrey, Land Claims Commissioner, to the
Hon. the Colonial Secretary.
I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of His Excellency the Officer Administering the Government, that, upon my arrival here on the 6th instant to investigate the claims to grants of land in this neighbourhood, I found the Native chief Nopera, with upwards of two hundred and fifty of his tribe, awaiting my arrival in order to dispute and resist all the purchases, or pretended purchases, in or about Doubtless Bay that were not derived from him. Pororua established himself here with his tribe two days afterwards, supported by the Whangaroa Natives under Ururoa.
Upon my opening the Court and commencing the examination of certain sales of land made by Pororua (or Wharekauri) and others, Nopera entered and declared as follows:—page 7
|1.||He opposes all the purchases of land not made from himself at Mangonui.|
|2.||That he had a priority of right over all the land in the neighbourhood of Doubtless Bay, and denies the right of any other party to sell any land there without his sanction and ratification, which, however, had not been obtained in any case except in Captain Butler's purchase, which consequently was the only one ho would allow of.|
|3.||That he considered the trifling property and cash given to him in 1840 by the Government for the lands in Doubtless Bay was only an earnest of what he was to receive for these lands, Pororua having received as much, although he had disposed of his rights to, and received payment from, the settlers. This purchase by the Government not having been completed according to his view of the matter, he thinks that the amount he has already received is only a fair equivalent for the feast given by him at Kaitaia upon the late Governor's arrival there.|
He (Nopera) promises that the settlers at Mangonui shall remain unmolested and be permitted to occupy "the spots they reside on, with any cultivation attached," until the whole matter is arranged.; and this license he considers an ample compensation to Pororua, &c., for any rights they might have had to the lands; that he would not now relinquish his right over these lands either to the settlers or to the Government for any consideration that could be offered, but that he will maintain his right to the lands vi et armis.
The adverse tribes have opposed the sales made by Nopera to Dr. Ford and the Rev. Mr. Taylor, and with more show of justice, because these lands have been their dwelling-places for very many years.
I proposed divers modes of arranging their differences to these chiefs, but without effect, Nopera being the most determined in resistance. He considers that the offer, as, he calls it, of the Government in 1840 to purchase his rights over the heads of the Europeans already settled upon these lands was an absolute confirmation and admission of his title.
The two parties mustered upwards of four hundred fighting men, were fully armed, with abundance of ammunition, and their muskets loaded with ball-cartridge. Each party danced the war-dance, and was harangued by its respective chiefs, and at one time it appeared very probable that they would have come to blows before me.
I have frequently visited Nopera since in the hope of finding him in a more tractable disposition, but hitherto he has not given way in the least. I intend to proceed to Kaitaia in a few days tp investigate the claims not disputed by these parties there, and shall endeavour to bring Nopera to terms during my stay there; but my hopes of being successful are very faint.
I have, &c.,
Edward L. Godfrey,