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Native Affairs Committee: Report on Petition of Atanatiu Kairangi


[i roto i te reo Māori]

This petition claims several small islands at the entrance of Pelorus Sound, Cook Strait. The petitioners belong to the Tribe of Ngatitoa, who, with the Ngatiawa, were at the time of the first European settlement in possession (among other territories) of the lands on the southern shores of Cook Strait and on Mohua (Blind Bay) and Taitapu (Massacre Bay). The bulk of these lands was conveyed to the Crown under four several deeds, which purport to cede most of the possessions in those parts of the signatories, in terms somewhat varying, and subject to various reserves and exceptions which vary in the several deeds.

1.The earliest of the deeds, the Ngatitoa deed of the 10th August, 1853, makes the cession in these terms: "our lands on the Middle Island" ("a matou whenua i te Wai Pounamu"); and again: "all our lands on that Island" ("a matou whenua katoa ki tera moutere"), and goes on to specify "the trees, lakes, waters, rocks, and all things upon or under the lands" ("me nga aha noa iho a aua whenua"); it also specifies reserved dwelling-places, but it makes no mention of the adjacent islands. The receipt by the same tribe for the sum of £2,000, dated the 13th December, 1854, describes the consideration for this payment to be the sale of "all our lands at Wairau, at Hoiere, at Whakapuaka, at Taitapu, at Arahura, at Waipounamu—all our lands not sold by us previously;" but does not mention islands.
2.The Ngatiawa deed of the 10th March, 1854, cedes "all our lands on the Middle Island" ("a matou whenua katoa ki tera moutere"), and adds: "our lands and all the islands there" ("o matou one me nga moutere katoa i reira ").
3.A further deed by Ngatiawa, dated the 9th February, 1856, cedes the Island of Arapaoa, divided from the mainland by Tory Channel.
4.The deed by the Ngatikoata, a hapu of Ngatitoa, dated the 5th March, 1853, cedes "all ous lands on that island" (Waipounamu), reciting the names of a number of places along the coast; but it excepts "Rangitoto" (D'Urville Island), "and the places for our occupation."

The islands named in the petition are coloured on the official maps as Crown lands; and two of them have been let for pastoral purposes under "The Land Act, 1877," for rentals of £8 2s. 6d. and £2 6s. 8d. per annum.

Against the claims of the petitioners, it is urged that the word "Waipounamu" includes the adjacent islands;. and this view seems to be supported by the special reservation of D'Urville Island, as though it belonged to the mainland, by the Ngatikoata sellers; and by the silence of the Ngatitoa deed as to the outlying islands within their tribal limits; the cession of the whole of the lands on Waipounamu having been made in both cases. It is to be remarked, however, that the Ngatitoa deed cedes specifically woods, rocks, streams, lakes, and mines, but omits islands. Moreover, it was deemed necessary to take a subsequent cession of Arapaoa Island from Ngatiawa, although they had expressly ceded all their islands without exception in the former deed. It would follow then a fortiori that Ngatitoa, who never professed to cede their outlying islands, ought to be held to have reserved them. But there is direct evidence that this was their express intention at the time of the cession in 1853. Sir George Grey, K.C.B., M.H.R., gave your Committee evidence to the effect that he himself drew the Ngatitoa deed, and presided at its execution; that he did not intend to include the islands, and that it was expressly agreed on both sides that they should not be included in the cession. This is conclusive; and your Committee have only to add that the claim has been maintained and revived on several previous occasions. In 1860 the chief Ihaka visited Auckland to ask from Colonel Gore Browne, then Governor, "a clear title" to one of the islands (Paruparu). He again applied to the Native Land Court in 1868, but the Court decided that it had no jurisdiction.

The principal islands are visited annually by the claimants for the purpose of fishing.

Your Committee, therefore, report that they consider the allegations of the petitioners to be proved, and recommend that the Government should confirm the title of the Ngatitoa to the islands Paruparu, Kakapo, Nukuaiata, and Motungarara, by Crown grant to their proper representatives.

J. C. Richmond,
Chairman of Committee.

29th October, 1884.