The Town as originally surveyed was composed of 1,100 sections of an acre each, interlaced with about 30 miles of streets and roads, which probably occupied 150 acres. To this area of 1,250 acres, made up of sections and streets, must be added 1,100 acres of Town Belt and other reserves; making the total area for the original Town as laid out in 1840, 2,350 acres.
Reserves as originally laid out by the New Zealand Company, 1839–1840, and Numbers 1 to 16 are shown on Brees' Map.
On the 28th the selection of the town-lands commenced, after a little delay arising from protests and objections by some of the numerous selectors. Many of the original buyers in London had confided to agents among the Colonists the task of selection. The meeting for this purpose took place in a large unfinished wooden building which Dr. Evans had brought with him, and which Dicky Barrett had bought and erected on the beach for an hotel (Hotel Cecil site). A table was placed on that part of the ground-floor which was floored, to support the map of the town and the books of the principal selectors. The most interested or most querulous settlers were gathered round Mr. Hanson, Captain Smith and his assistants, asking questions; while those who had but late choice, or others who were spectators, stood talking in the windows of the long room, or explored the skeleton upper storey of the embryo hotel. On the 31st, some mistake in the plan was discovered, and the further selection was postponed to the 10th August, remaining uncompleted until the 14th.
Ample reserves for public purposes appeared on the plan; one acre was reserved for the Company, as a site for the immigration buildings, and the Native Reserves, consisting of 100 sections of one acre each, were selected by Captain Smith. The section on which the hotel was building fell to the lot of the natives. Two acres adjoining each other were also excluded from the general choice in accordance with an arrangement made between the Rev. Henry Williams and Colonel Wakefield. The choice of the town sections were concluded on the 14th August, 1840. (“Wakefield's Adventure in New Zealand,” p. 258.)
On the 4th of August, intelligence was received from Sydney which produced great agitation among the settlers at Port Nicholson. The views of Sir George Gipps, Governor of New South Wales, with regard to land claims in New Zealand, had been embodied in a measure called the New Zealand Bill, and this had passed the Legislative Council.
The Bill commenced by declaring that the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand had no right to confer any permanent interest in their lands on any individual not a member of their tribes, because they could only be considered to hold these lands in trust for their future descendants. It therefore declared null and void any title to lands in New Zealand not derived from the Crown. All claims to such lands were to be addressed within six months to the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, in order that he might refer them to a Board of Commissioners.