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

No. 120. — Report on the Native Reserves in the Province of Hawke's Bay

No. 120.
Report on the Native Reserves in the Province of Hawke's Bay.

1.In reporting on the condition of the Native reserves in the Province of Hawke's Bay, it may not be irrelevant to allude to the degree of social advancement which the Natives of that locality have manifested, and the practical loyalty for which they have been conspicuous.
2.They appear to be remarkable for habits of order, their villages and paddocks are the best kept, and they possess the greatest amount of material wealth of any tribe in New Zealand. At Omarunui they assisted the settlers in crushing out the rebellion of the earlier Hauhau fanatics, and at the Mohaka they suffered heavily for their allegiance to the Queen's Government.
3.The advent of the white settlers was the commencement of their prosperity, which increased as the settlement advanced.
4.The chief cause of their prosperity was unquestionably the circumstance of their preserving to themselves a large extent of good land while selling or letting blocks for our settlement. They parted with the hilly, pasturage country, and much good cultivable land, but they kept large areas of the rich plain where their cultivations lay, and a sufficiency of grass country to afford them a large income from rents.
5.The action of the Native Lands Act, in individualizing the titles to these lands, conferred a benefit on the owners by the security that it gave that improvements made by the existing owners would be enjoyed by his descendants without being liable to the rapacity of the chiefs or the intervention of the tribe; but it was not unattended by disadvantageous effects, which had not been provided against.
6.The easy acquisition of the means of living by the rental of land induced in many of the Natives habits of extravagance and debt. While the land was held by the tribe in common it could not be forfeited by the indebtedness of the individual; but as soon as it became the property of one man, or of six or ten men who held it in virtue of an absolute Crown grant, that individual share or interest became a convertible property, which was liable to be seized as security for debt, and sold by action of the Courts in times of scarcity or depression. And thus for a debt trivial, perhaps, in its origin and amount, but increased by interest and law costs, land, which while the common property of the tribe was secure from seizure, became liable to be cut away altogether from the children of the first grantees.
7.It may be urged that with all civilized people the possession of land is, and ought to be, amenable for the indebtedness of the owner; but the social laws of civilization will not always apply justly to the case of a people not entirely emerged from barbarism. The present price of Native land is utterly disproportionate to its future value; and, in the case of entailed estates, the consent of the successor as well as the act of the possessor is necessary to alienation.
8.Above all, it would be a matter of regret if a law intended for the good of the Native should prove, in its operation, rather for the benefit of his European creditor, Notwithstanding their general prosperity the debts of the local Natives are of very considerable amount. Since Crown titles have been received mortgages and sales to the extent of £31,826 have been effected for country lands.
9.This sum is, however, far from representing the full amount, as "costs" to an unknown extent are charged against the estates, and mortgages are in many instances for a "running account."
10.The improvidence of the Natives is stimulated by the facilities with which they can obtain goods, and occasionally money, from the storekeepers and publicans on the security of a mortgage on a fertile and accessible estate.
11.The more prudent of the Natives say that the temptation to incur debt in this manner was so great that where, amongst a number of co-grantees in an estate, three or four mortgaged their interests it was almost impossible, in the close relations that exist in a hapu, for the remainder to keep their shares unencumbered, and the land drifted from their possession.
12.Karaitiana, a chief conspicuous for his loyalty, in speaking of his difficulties in connection with land, said: "We mortgaged our grants, but not to an extent beyond what we had the means to pay the interest of, and more, from rents receivable from land let to white men. But the time of low prices for wool and stock came, and the white men did not pay the rents agreed upon—one owing three years' rent—and while we could not get in the money owing, we were called upon periodically for the interest on the mortgages; and so our debts increased, and we had to mortgage other lands, or to sell to keep off legal proceedings."
13.One of the principal chiefs of Hawke's Bay, once a very large landowner, is now almost without land, and others were so fast divesting themselves of their property that, until; recent measures were taken to check such action, a danger existed of the children of the present landowners becoming paupers.
14.Acting under instructions received from the Hon. the Native Minister on 19th February, 1870, visited Hawke's Bay in February last, and conferred with the principal chiefs on the subject of rendering inalienable for themselves and their descendants certain conveniently-situated blocks of land. Aware of the improvidence, in respect to land-selling, of some of their number, and of its disastrous results, they were induced to hand over to trustees appointed by the Grovernment lands to the extent of about 31,000 acres.page 73
15.I was desirous that the places which, by their industry, had become most valuable should be permanently secured to them, and succeeded in obtaining their conveyance of a large portion of the rich plain lying between the Villages of Clive and Meanee. The Native Village of Pakowhai, with 834 acres of enclosed paddocks, about £3,000 of household property, and the best artesian well in the district, were conveyed, to trustees by Karaitiana, the sole owner
16.Other large blocks, or individual interests therein, upon the banks of the Ngaruroro and Tukituki Rivers, and comprising fine fertile land, are also made over to trustees, together with estates on the higher grounds available as sheep runs, and from which rents are now being derived.
17.In all, lands to the extent of about thirty-one thousand acres were put in trust.
18.The Chief Judge of the Native Land Court was very desirous that land which had been individualized in title by the Court should not be utterly lost to the owners. Mr. Fenton kindly supplied me with the form of trust-deed which has been used, and which was drawn out by Sir William Martin, D.C.L.
19.The explanation to the Natives of the Act they were becoming parties to, and their future position in regard to the land, required the fullest discussion with each person concerned; but with the valuable aid of Mr. Locke, Resident Magistrate, and Mr. Martin, Hamlin, Interpreter, I was enabled, I think, to make them thoroughly understand the provisions of the trust-deed, and to learn myself their views in regard to estates they were desirous of securing to their relatives or descendants.
20.The provision of "The Native Lands Act, 1869," by which a majority in value of the grantees must consent to any conveyance before the transfer of an individual interest becomes valid, made the work very tedious, as the owners were generally scattered and could only be brought together with difficulty. Where white men represented the majority in value their interests were rather opposed to the transfer of the remaining shares to a trust. It is worthy of consideration whether, in the case of a conveyance to a beneficial trust or in settlement, a modification of that provision, of the Act would not be judicious.
21.Though the general condition of the Natives of Hawke's Bay has-been advanced by the settlement of the district, yet, in many cases, fixed habits of indolence have resulted from the acquisition of the easy means of maintenance derivable from rents. In assisting the Natives to transfer the titles of a portion of their land to a trust I endeavoured to secure good fertile land that would repay labour bestowed upon it, and so conduce to their returning to habits of farming.
22.With this view I arranged with Manaina Tini and Pinehira for the conveyance to trust of the unsold portion of the Mangateretere East Block, near the Village of Havelock. This is Very fertile land, said to be worth £7 or £8 per acre. The deed was signed by the above-named chiefs before I left Napier.
23.The chief Te Hohepa Ringanohu and others were desirous that the Raukawa East Block, of 4,438 acres, should be reserved for their descendants. This is very fine land, said to be worth £5 an acre. A mortgage of £550 lies upon certain interests-in it, but with good management that amount might soon be cleared off this fine estate, and the mortgage of £1,200 on the Mangateretere East estate lessened. Hohepa te Ringanohu signed the trust-deed for Raukawa East, and promised to obtain the signatures of other of the grantees.
24.At the request of Manaina Tint and his relations, I drew out a deed for the Waikahu Block, of 764 acres. This is very fine land and in part cultivated, lying near the Waitangi Bridge.
25.For the Natives at and near. Te Aute the Koparekore Block, of 1,278 acres, and Te Tarere, of 236 acres, were put into trust. I also had prepared a deed of the Poupoutahe Block, of 241 acres net, at the request of Renata and others.
26.It was very desirable that some land should be secured for Te Meihana Takihi and his relatives, as they had sold largely. I therefore arranged that Te Awa-a-te-Atua Block, of 5,070 acres, should be conveyed to trustees, Te Meihana executing the deed, and promising, to obtain the signatures of his relatives.
27.For Karaitiana and several of his relatives not holding interests in the Pakowhai estate, I arranged that, the Ngatarawa No. 5 Block, of 5,375 acres, should be set apart. Te Meihana Takihi and Karaitiana signed the deed, which was left with Mr. Locke for completion.
28.Te Heketa and others owning property at the Forty-Mile Bush desired that land in that locality should be made inalienable. I arranged that the Oringi Waiaruhe Block, of 12,008 acres, should be conveyed to trustees; the deed was signed by the principal owners before I left the locality.
29.The Papaaruhe Block, of 276 acres, is granted with a limitation to the effect that it shall not be alienated for more than twenty-one years without the consent of His Excellency the Governor. The owners desire to put it into trust, in order that the rents might be equitably divided amongst them. I would respectfully request that His Excellency in Council be moved to give the required consent to the settlement in trust. A deed was prepared, and left with Mr. Locke for execution by the grantees.
30.Paora Ropiha and Wi Patene have for some time past been desirous of selling the Eparaima West Block, granted with a limitation similar to that last described. They offer as an equivalent that the Pakowhai Block, at Black, Head and other lands shall be put in trust for their children. The proposal seems to have been for some time favourably entertained by the Government, and, the matter having been referred to me to act in, I have ventured to prepare and leave for, execution a trust-deed for Pakowhai, in anticipation of your approval of their request, when they render inalienable a full equivalent for Eparima West.
31.Many other Natives desired to hand over their lands to the trust, but in all the cases not shown in Schedule C there existed difficulties that prevented their wish being at once complied with.
32.The chief Harawira Tatere and others of the Cape Kidnapper Natives desire to hand over the large blocks of Kairaka and Te Apiti. Crown grants have not yet been issued for these. When some temporary difficulties are cleared away, I shall recommend that a portion of the Waimarama Block Shall be made inalienable for them, but I am not at present sure that the wants of these people are such as would justify the reservation of all the above-mentioned lands.page 74
33.I am very desirous of securing some land for the chief Tareha, but have not been able to find a granted estate that is sufficiently unencumbered for the purpose.
34.Of ungrauted land there is, near Pa Whakairo, a good block called Te Koau, of which, by Native report, Tareba appears to be the chief owner. I have drawn his attention to the propriety of handing this over to trustees as a provision for him in the future, and he has promised to furnish me with a description of the boundaries.
35.I would respectfully recommend that, in accordance with the provisions of "The Native Reserves Act, 1856," a competent person should be appointed to obtain the consent of the owriers of the following blocks — Pohirau, for Te Heketa; Otukarara, for Paora Kaiwhata; Te Torohanga, for Noa Huki; Pukehou, for Paora Korokoro; Tutake Opake and Te Koau, for Tareha—to their becoming Native reserves in order to their being proclaimed as such under clause 17 of "The Native Reserves Act, 1856." As incidental to the subject of Native reserves, I may mention that during my stay at Hawke's Bay the much-vexed negotiation of the purchase of the Heretaonga Block was brought to a close, the purchase-money being taken by the Native owners, who receive from the purchasers a reserve (which will vest in trustees) of 1,600 acres in the best part of the block.
36.Messrs. Cuff and Stedman, conveyancers at Napier, were employed by me for that part of the work which more particularly demanded professional assistance.
37.The Natives treated me with great confidence, and appeared to be well satisfied with the action taken by the Government in providing means for the conservation of their land. Several of the chiefs, who by their actions have proved themselves to be steadily loyal, spoke with bitterness when alluding to the manner in which claims have been made against their estates, and I am quite convinced that, if action had not been, taken by the Government to arrest the further alienation of the lands necessary to them, many loyal Natives, in becoming landless, would have been driven into disaffection
38.There are a number of small reserves—chiefly fishing-stations and landing-places—that have not yet occupied the attention of the Land Court, and which scarcely appear in the map of Hawke's Bay. I append a list of these—Schedule B—and recommend that they should be brought under the notice of the Court with a view to being granted in such manner as shall secure the Native and the public right in their use respectively.
39.The trust-deeds and papers connected therewith are in the hands of Mr. Locke, R.M., who will obtain the signatures of the Natives who have yet to sign, and attend to the requisite stamping and registration.
40.In addition to the plans, thirteen in number, on the trust-deeds, I made copies of thirty-four plans of Native reserves, appending to each short abstracts of title, &c, and which I have placed in the hands of the lithographer to be printed as part of an appendix to the Report on Native Reserves

Charles Heaphy, Commissioner of Native Reserves.

The Hon. the Native Minister. 29th May, 1870