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Report of the Public Petitions Committee on the petition of thirteen natives owning land at the Thames gold fields, praying that there may be no diminution in the fees for miners’ rights, which fees they claim under an arrangement with Mr. Mackay

[Report of the Public Petitions Committee on the Petition of Thirteen Natives Owning Land at the Thames Gold Fields]

[i roto i te reo Māori]

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The Petitioners, thirteen aboriginal natives, seem to complain against the leasing of lands which has lately been brought into operation by a Proclamation of the Superintendent of the Province of Auckland with reference to the Thames Gold Fields.

The Petitioners appear to imagine that they will receive less money under the leasing system than they would receive under the system known as claims held under miners' rights.

The Committee have examined the printed agreement entered into by the Petitioners with Mr. Mackay, the Civil Commissioner, and they have compared it with the Leasing Regulations proclaimed, and they fail to discover how there can be any real grounds for the apprehensions expressed in the Petition.

Under the system in force in respect to miners' rights, the Native proprietors receive from the Government Agent a fee of £1 sterling per annum for every plat of ground on a quartz reef, running lengthways across the supposed direction of the reef, measuring 300 feet by 50 feet.

Under the leasing system the lessee is compelled, in addition to the fee of £1 per annum on the whole claim, to expend not less than £100 sterling per annum in labour upon every plat of ground of the dimensions above specified. Now supposing that labourers' wages on the gold fields are 6s. 6d. per diem, or £101 8s. per annum, the £100 above mentioned represents, in round numbers, one man, who is obliged to pay a fee of £1 per annum to the Government Agent, to secure a miners' right. If labour on the Thames Gold Fields should become dearer—a very improbable contingency—then the amount of fees which the Native proprietors would receive would be diminished under the leasing system. If, on the other hand, labour should become cheaper—a highly probable contingency—the fees which the Native proprietors would receive would be increased. Moreover, under the leasing system a plat of ground which from its dimensions would be held under eight miners' rights, and thus produce to the Native proprietors only £8 sterling per annum, might, if leased to a company, afford employment to fifty miners, whose fees would amount to £50, in addition to the £1 paid by the Company on the whole claim, and thus the Native proprietors would be gainers under the leasing system in the proportion of £51 to £8 per annum.

I am directed to report that if the substance of this Report was honestly and fairly explained to the Petitioners, the Committee are of opinion that the apprehensions of the Petitioners might be removed.

                                                      J. Cracroft Wilson, C.B.,
                                                                        Chairman.

3rd August, 1869.