Chapter VI. Land Operations
Chapter VI. Land Operations.
“The Colonist came not with swords and spears—
Those glittering harbingers of blood and tears—
Although he loved his dear old native land
She gave him nothing but a willing hand;
And bold courageous heart; with these, in twain
He burst cold poverty's oppressive claim,
And crossed the ocean to this southern strand,
Where hope enthroned held out a golden wand,
And pointed to a future, where
Intelligence received its rightful share
Of Heaven's gifts: where labour led the van
And built a home for every honest man.”
—(Bracken's Musings in Maoriland, p. 202.)
The following is a letter from the Company's Surveyor General, Captain Mein Smith, published in the N.Z. Gazette, June 20th, is indicative of impatience on the part of the land owners of Port Nicholson.
“Port Nicholson, 18/6/40.
“Sir,—I have been frequently asked, “When are the town acres to be given out,” which, though a very natural question, I have found it very difficult to answer. But I have now proceeded so far with my operations that I beg to inform the landowners and settlers, through the medium of your valuable paper, that unless some serious cause arises which I cannot forsee or provide against, I think I may safely say that I shall have my plan of the Town ready for public inspection on Monday, first of July. I will give further notice as to the time and place at which the plan will be exhibited. I have the honour to be, your obedient servant,
W. M. Smith,
Capt. Royal Artillery, Surveyor-General.”
The following day an announcement appeared in the same journal that the local Bank would go into operation as soon after the delivery of the Town lands as possible.
Mr. R. R. Strang, the Company's solicitor, advertised on the 27th of June, 1840, several lots of town and country sections for sale by private contract. The applicants were to apply to him at his residence, No. 4 Clyde Terrace, or to Mr. Telford. Several of the lots would be subdivided by arrangement.
This was followed by another announcement signed by Colonel Wakefield, dated the 15th July, that an inspection of the Town plan would be held on Monday, 20th July, 1840, from page 56 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Captain Smith's house, Thorndon, and remain open until the 27th, when the registration of the choices and allotments of the Town sections would be commenced.
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.
The following extracts are from a letter written by Mr. Francis Bradey to his son, Henry, in England:—page 57
“Port Nicholson, N.Z., Aug. 16th, 1840.
“The survey of the town is completed and the whole of the town acres are delivered out according to the plan of the Company. I have been employed all the week looking out my three town acres, and a quarter of an acre. For the latter I gave £60 shortly after my arrival and it proved to be in a good position (locality of the Hutt County Council Office, Lambton Quay). I have been offered £200 for it since. When the Government approves of a title it will be worth £500 as it has a frontage to the bay; but we seriously apprehend the Government will not acknowledge the Company's title; and if that is the case, it will ruin me, as well as a great many others, as I have bought altogether, better than 400 acres.… .
“The Company's territory of Port Nicholson is said to have the best Harbour, the best position, with more available and better land than any other part of New Zealand, and must eventually become the seat of Government.… . Colonel Wakefield is decidedly one of the most kind-hearted men in the world and gives universal satisfaction; he is greatly beloved by the natives as well as his own countrymen and no man can be better qualified for so great an undertaking as the Company's principal agent for New Zealand. Give my kind love to all my friends in the temperance cause… . . I forgot to tell you we had the British flag flying in our Port, and British soldiers here to protect us. The Surveyor General and his officers have commenced surveying the country.”*
Messrs. Hanson and Alzdorf, writing to a client on the 30th December, 1840, stated:—
“Up to the present time we have agreed to let Sec. No. 509 on the map of the town for No. 103 (choice), for 10 years in two half lots at £30 per annum. No. 49 we have let a quarter of an acre for 7 years at £30 per annum for the first three years and £34 for the next four years. No. 569 at £12 per annum for three years. No. 222 for £80 per annum for 14 years. Section 225 we expect to let at £200 per annum.
“We have also let a small piece of ground 15ft. frontage by 20ft. in depth, part of Sec. 485 for one year at £10; and No. 614 for £20 per annum for 3 years after a valuation.”
Captain Smith again writes on the 30th January, 1841 thus:—
“The plan of the present town was worked out under every species of disadvantage and inconvenience. By the time it was commenced, a large body of settlers had arrived in the “Aurora,” ‘Oriental,’ ‘Bengal Merchant,’ ‘Duke of Roxburgh,’ ‘Glenbervie,’ and ‘Adelaide.’ Their importunities were increasing and a great interruption. They had expected to find the town ready for them on their arrival, and I was urged towards giving out the town sections with more speed than I thought prudent. At first my tent was my office and drawing room, Colonel Wakefield not wishing to put up an office for me till a proper site should be decided on.
“The winter was rapidly advancing and I was soon driven out of the tent. I retired to a ‘Mauri’ hut, which I had purchased as a private residence temporarily till the sections should be given out and I could bring my wife and family and house over from Petoni, where I had left them.page 58
“This hut, though dry, was very dark; the little light that was admitted finding its way through a low doorway, close to which I was obliged to keep my table for drawing, but frequently in bad weather I was obliged to close up the door and work all day by candle light… The town sections were all chosen by the 14th August (1840), after which I proceeded with the country sections.”
* N.Z. Journal, 10/4/1841 and 21/8/42.
Mr. Spain, Commissioner of Land Claims, opened his Court on the 16th May, 1842. The investigation became at once a matter of length and intricacy. One question which promised to encumber the inquiry, was that of whether Wharepouri and the other chiefs who had agreed to sell the district of Port Nicholson, in 1839, had a right to do so. Numerous natives from Te Aro and Pipitea now claimed an equal ownership.
“The scene gave one more the idea of the progress of a long nurtured, vindictive family law-suit, than that of a fair investigation into the real merits of a treaty between a colonizing body and the aborigines. The public got weary listenting to the same dull questions and answers. During the first week the Court had been crowded with spectators, both native and European, but after that, scarcely anyone attended, except the people who were paid for their attendance.
“Dull rumours sometimes reached the public that Moihi (“Moses”), or Aperahama (“Abraham”) had been giving evidence for three days, and people wondered what their evidence could have to do with the affair.
“By the middle of July the public ceased to take any more interest in the progress of the claims, the Court was almost deserted and the affair was treated as a burlesque by the Counsel and spectators.”
On New Year's day, 1843, the concluding selection of preliminary country sections took place. These were of the Upper Hutt villages, near Porirua and Manawatu. The different maps were laid on a long table in the open air outside the survey office, and the crowd of bustling agents and tormented surveyors' assistants formed a gay scene
The following is a memorandum of an agreement entered into on 16th September 1848, between the New Zealand Company and the resident purchasers and holders of Land Orders from and under it.
Extract.—“It is agreed, subject to the sanction of the Governor in Chief, as follows:—‘That all resident holders of Land Orders shall be at liberty to throw up, or abandon such sections as have heretofore been chosen in respect of such land orders and re-select other land in lieu thereof out of the districts hereinafter mentioned. That the value of each land order is to be considered as assessed at the value or equivalent of 100 acres, excepting however, the land orders in respect whereof sections have been chosen in either of the districts of Porirua or Wellington. That resident holders of land orders shall decide among themselves, either at a general meeting or in a Committee to be appointed at a general meeting what parties shall be entitled to compensation with reference to:—
Original purchasers who still hold their land orders.
Purchasers who bought unexecuted land orders or became owners previous to selection.page 59
Purchasers of land at the market value subsequent to selection either here or in England.
Purchasers who have had beneficial possession or occupation of any land.
Purchasers who have already made beneficial changes.
Original or derivative purchasers who have only recently sold their land orders or selections.
“That all selections, whether for land abandoned, or land in compensation, shall be made in every district to be provided and surveyed for that purpose within 6 months after the survey of the district shall be completed.… .” “Decision shall be determined by a committee of reference, to be appointed by the holders of land orders solely, if to any point, or matter, or interest, concerning the holders of land orders, and the Company, then by Isaac Earl Featherston on the part of the holders of land orders and on the part of the Company and such third person as the Governor in Chief may appoint; the decision of any two of them to be conclusive and final; as witness the said hands of the said parties.”Signed
W. Mein Smith
Per N. Levin.
A. W. Shand.
Abraham Hort, senr.
– Cameron, per Angus Cameron.
T. F. Drake.
D. S. Durie.
H. St. Hill.
F. A. Weld.
C. Clifford (per F. A. Weld).
H. S. Harrison.
per N. Levin.
Ridgway, Hickson and Co.
R. J. Deighton.
A. de Bathe Brandon.
Robert Roger Strang.
Wm. Swainson, F.R.S.
J. H. Wallace.
N.Z. Journal, 21/2/1849, p. 40.
Many letters touching on land matters were written by the settlers to the Editor of the “N.Z. Journal” and other publications. Extracts from one are given as follows:—
“I have seen the Chief Land Commissioner, who informs me the only available land near this is at Wanganui.… I was introduced to Mr. Tollemache, who is one of the largest landowners in New Zealand, both in the Northern Island and the Wairau, and he tells me that he has visited every district in New Zealand and knows them well, and that he gives the preference to Otago.”
“On the 1st of July, 1840,” states E. J. Wakefield, “a public meeting was held for the purpose of voting an address to Lieut.Governor Hobson. Colonel Wakefield had presided and was asked to proceed to the Bay of Islands for the purpose of presenting the address to His Excellency.”
The Address was couched in the most loyal terms, but continues Wakefield, “appealed against the imputation upon their allegiance displayed by Lieut. Shortland's proceedings. It humbly expressed the hope of the settlers that His Excellency would decide upon fixing the seat of Government at a spot so admirably adapted for it as Port Nicholson, and among the great body of the respectable colonists from England.”
Fig. 30A.—“Pahautanui.” Reproduction of a Certificate of Selection or Land Order, dated 1st August, 1839.
On the 19th of August, 1840 a public meeting was held at Barrett's unfinished hotel, to receive the answer of Captain Hobson to the Address of the Colonists.
Colonel Wakefield stated the results of of his mission of which a brief summary will suffice.
The assurance of Governor Hobson's friendly feelings towards the settlers, and praise for their expressions of loyalty and support; his refusal to reside at Port Nicholson on account of his sense of public duty inducing him to select “a more central position”, and one more adapted for internal communication.
Speeches were made at the meeting expressive of the great pleasure at the reply of the Lieut-Governor, and thanking Colonel Wakefield for his energetic advocacy of their interests.
A series of resolutions was passed, stating their grievances, and it was agreed that a memorial embodying these resolutions should be prepared and presented to the Governor of New South Wales by a deputation, to consist of Dr. Evans, Mr. Hanson and Mr. Moreing. The meeting also recommended the appointment of Mr. E. Gibbon Wakefield as agent in England for the body of Colonists, and that a requisition to that effect be prepared and signed by the Colonists.
Meanwhile, the little village of Britannia was growing.
The Engineering and mill-wright business of Betts-Hopper, Molesworth and Petre commenced operations on the 3rd July, 1840. They were prepared to repair ship and boat ironwork, stoves, grates, ovens, and also to make the latter articles. Their place of business was next to the Maori Pa at Britannia.
Mr. Willoughby Shortland heard twenty Police cases between June 11th and July 7th. Nine were for assault, four for drunkenness, two for felony and the balance for breaches of the peace.
Also about this time a society called the Union Benefit Society was formed, the second meeting being held on the 13th July, 1840.
Arrangements were made for a Post Office Mail to be made up for the first time on Monday the 13th July, at 8 a.m. from Thorndon, and a return mail from Britannia to Thorndon at 1 p.m. Rates were 2d. per letter and one penny for newspapers. Mr. Paton was in charge at Thorndon, and Mr. Hunter at Britannia. When unfavourable weather prevented the delivery of mail by boat, it was to be despatched on foot.
One day Messrs. A. Hort and Charles Heaphy launched a boat and started from Thorndon to beat up to Lambton Harbour. They were warned by several onlookers that the boat was unfit for service. After proceeding for about 300 yards, the boat was upset and the occuplants were submerged. Mr. Watt and a party launched the former's boat and rescued them.
Shortly after this (25th August, 1840), a fatal accident occurred at Pito-one, when a boat party of twelve persons were within a hundred yards of the beach. The boat was upset, and though they were in less than seven feet of water, only three survived the accident.
Fig.26—A settler's House, Pito-one Flat, near the Korokoro Stream and Mill, and near the scene of the boat accident of 1840. Figs. 25 and 26 are from sketches by William Swainson, Esq., F.R.S.
Mr. Allen's boat had arrived at the same time, and passed the surf in safety, on the same day.
Coglan's boat was upset at the end of the beach, nearly two miles from the shore.
Mr. Collett launched his boat successfully and after great excertions, rescued the sufferers, who were insensible at the time.
The boats were all under sail, running before a strong south-east wind, which occasioned a very heavy surf on the beach.
Natives assisted the Europeans in bringing the bodies to the shore. The names of the natives were Ma Hau, Te Wanga, Te Puke, Te Ware, Te Puni of the male sex; the females were Te Tutu, Te Wa and Te Wi1
A large concourse of people attended the funeral on the 27th, at which the Revs. John Macfarlane and J. G. Butler officiated.2
The Pickwick Club held a meeting to consider the erection of a Tombstone in memory of members Elsdon, Pierce, Lancaster and Hight.
The sad event cast a gloom over the community, and the Council meetings were postponed until October.
Arrival of the “Coromandel.”
A few more settlers arrived in the “Coromandel,” 780 tons, commanded by Captain French, due to leave Gravesend on the 13th December, 1839. and arrived in August, 1840.
The following names appeared on the ship's register:——J. and A. Annear; T. C. Butler; E. Cherry*: — Green*; B. Hook; J. and M. Pawton; Stephen Pilcher; Susan Pilcher; E. and A. Swallow; and E. A. Walsh.2
Brett's Early History of New Zealand and “N.Z. Journal,” 27/2/1841, quoted other names, viz:—Major Baker; Dr. Beardmore; Messrs. Crawford Minet, Bligh, Walker, and the Hon. H. Petre; Messrs. Boles, G. B. Earp, Jas. R. Foster, Wm. Guyton, Isaac Ridgway, and Jas. Smith. One death occurred on Board.
The “Coromandel” called at Sydney and brought 200 sheep, 20 bullocks, and 4 horses from Australia.
Major Baker had been on a visit to Sydney to appear in an action brought against him by Captain Pearson, of the “Integrity,” for his imprisonment of the latter while Police Magistrate under the provisional Government.
* The names marked with an asterisk were crossed out.
Death of Mr. Betts Hopper.
Another sad fatality occurred, casting a gloom over the settlement, when Mr. Edward Betts-Hopper was drowned in the Hutt river on Thursday, 17th September, 1840. Mr. Hopper, Mr. Petre and some workmen were getting timber and were page 64 descending the river with a boat load, when the boat struck against an unseen snag. Mr. Hopper was standing in the bow of the boat and was thrown into the river. There was reason to believe that he was stunned in falling into the water, as he made no attempt to catch hold of the oars and other things thrown to him. Dr. Stokes was early in attendance as soon as the body was recovered, but Mr. Hopper was beyond all aid. He was one of the earliest and most zealous members of the associations formed to colonise New Zealand, a Director of the Bank, and a large landed proprietor who was universally respected, and his untimely fate was severely felt and deeply regretted.
Mr. Edward Catchpool, a nephew of Mr. Hopper, writing from Britannia to a relative in England, describes the conditions prevailing at the Port on Nov. 6th, 1840, thus:—“It is impossible to describe the delight we experience, even in winter; the sun is then so powerful that it strikes quite warm; while the beauty of the bay, surrounded, or nearly so, on all sides by high hills down to the water's edge, covered with perpetual verdure, the trees and shrubs growing so closely as to render it difficult to ascend, conspire to banish every feeling but that of pleasure from the mind.
“Boats are sailing majestically over the bay, while those anchored off ride proudly on the water. A mighty roar is heard, and you look towards the direction of the entrance of the harbour, whence the sound appears to proceed, and you literally see the wind bending the trees on the mountain sides and tearing up the waves in its strength, while at the same time the water is smooth near you, and not a breath of wind fans your face; but the noise is warning enough. The sails in every boat are taken in with the utmost rapidity and every exertion is made to reach the land as quickly as possible. Sometimes it reaches the boats before they can secure themselves on shore, and they have then to pass through a dangerous surf which threatens to dash the boat in pieces.
“This wind will perhaps last for two or three days, tearing the roof of some of the houses, or, owing to the want of bricks, blowing the flames of the fires to the rush walls, and in a few minutes the building is levelled to the ground.
“There has been one fire (Cornish Row) in which about 14 houses were burnt in the space of twenty minutes.
“We have our fire detached from our dwelling. It was well we took the precaution, as we have had our cooking hut twice burnt down. But experience makes us all the wiser, and we line all round the fireplace with the stiffest clay we can procure, and find that the most effectual remedy.
“We have a few hours more of calm, and the wind as suddenly rises from the N. W. but, as we are partly protected by the thick forest in which we reside, the wind is not so much felt by us. The soil is luxuriant in the extreme, and the denseness of the forest is such that you cannot penetrate it, except by cutting your way through it. We had to pass the winter in only temporary dwellings, and as there was a great deal of rain, and the river overflowed several times, we were up to our knees in water for some hours, and it was not till the Firm* erected a large house they brought out with them and raised it on piles, that we were safe from the floods.
“These floods will eventually be put a stop to when the land is given out, as steps will be taken to bank up the river page 65 where necessary and cut channels, with flood gates to allow the water to pass off.
“The river has one of the most picturesque appearances you can imagine, winding' through the valley, its banks overhanging with shrubs and trees which are evergreen.
“The river is not easily navigable, as, in consequence of the floods, immense trees are lodged in its bed, sometimes reaching entirely across, and thus stopping its course, and after heavy rains forcing the water over the banks. The river abounds with fine eels and other fish. The natives around us do not feel any jealousy at our clearing the ground, but will assist, for a trifle, to raise our houses, and as they have been uniformly treated with kindness by us, neither Ann nor myself can pass by them, even at a distance, without their either running after us to shake hands with us and calling after us in their language, ‘Nuce, nuce kapai wyhena an tarna Catchpool’ (‘Very, very good man Catchpool and his wife’).
“Indeed, such is the faith we have in them that we hesitate not to leave them to take care of our house in our absence for fear the ‘Kakmo Packakas’ (‘bad white man’) may rob us.
“Here is a lesson for us. While we cannot trust our fellow countrymen, we rely with confidence in the good faith of savages, so called, who have, undoubtedly, at one time been cannibals.
“Nearly all the emigrants have treated them well. It is principally from the runaway sailors that they experience any annoyances.
“In consequence of the site of the town (of Britannia) being changed to the opposite side of the bay (Thorndon), owing to the floods, the natives endeavour by all the arguments they can to induce us to remain, and some of the females even cry at the idea of Ann and myself leaving them.
“They promise us ground to cultivate and will give us potatoes and pork if we will but remain. But, at present, I cannot decide, as circumstances must sway me, as you will learn below from the melancholy recital. I have now to inform you that as Uncle Hopper was bringing some sawn timber down the river, the boat struck against a piece of sunken timber, and as he was standing in the bow of the boat, he was thrown forward, and though Mr. Petre and two men were in the boat, and every exertion made to rescue him, it was too late, his body was in the water nearly a quarter of an hour before taken out; though medical assistance and stimulants were applied, his life had fled.
“An inquest was held by the magistrate, Mr. Murphy, who was also requested to inspect Uncle Edward's papers, and after considerable trouble we found a copy of his will, by which Thomas Pilcher and Thos. Turner of Sittingbourne are appointed executors. You may better imagine the loneliness of our situation than I can describe it. We are strangers in the land and have no one to whom we can look for support and consolation; but we must patiently submit to the Divine dispensation. It is most probable the partnership will be dissolved between Mr. Petre and Molesworth, and I am not certain as to what steps I shall have to pursue.
“I have directed the letter to Pilcher to you, as I thought it not improbable that he might have moved.… I sent a letter some time back to Sydney by a person going there, for Abraham Davy, but have had no answer, though vessels are continually arriving from that place.”
1 “N.Z. Gazette,” 29th August, 1840.
2 The bodies were interred at the east end of Pinto-one Pa, near the beach.
A fenced enclosure, within the Gear Company's grounds, planted with shrubs and flowers, and well kept by the employees of the Gear Meat Company, marks the spot.
Wharepouri, the fighting chief of Ngauranga and relation of Te Puni, was later buried in the enclosure, but his canoe memorial was erected at Ngauranga.
This is depicted in Brees' sketch of Ngauranga. The Writer visited the Petone (Pito-one) enclosure early in January, 1929, and was informed by some of the men employed there, that an agreement was made by the purchasers of the land, that no building would be erected on the sacred spot.