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Petition of Te Rangiwhakaewa and Others, in the Province of Hawke's Bay, relative to the Purchase of the Seventy-Mile Bush



29th August, 1871.

To Henry Russell.,—

Friend,—We submit our grievances to you, in order that you may lay them before the gentlemen of the Assembly, to be there considered.

Friends, the gentlemen of the Government in Parliament in Willington, give heed. The Government of this Province—Hawke's Bay—have found out how to bewitch us and our land Maori fashion, and do not act according to law. We forward certain points for your information and guidance, in order to show why it is that we state that the Government of Hawke's Bay know how to bewitch Maori fashion; that is to say, to destroy the land, and us, the people, also.

Friends, hearken. There are three courses which have been pursued by the Government in respect of our lands, through which we have discovered the faults of which we complain. Had we seen the justice of their proceedings, we would not have sought your help, but, as it is, we have seen the faults.

Do not consider that we are speaking disrespectfully of the Government now: it is because certain matters are wrong that we find fault. Now then, do you give consideration to the question of the matters which have caused trouble for us—

  • First, The survey.
  • Second, The investigation.
  • Third, The sale.

These are three matters which have caused us trouble.

The objection to the survey is, that it was not a survey made on the ground: it was done in a clandestine manner, by Mr. Locke and the Hawke's Bay Government, in the town of Napier, by collecting all the maps of previous sales to the Government,—the plans of Wairarapa, Mataikona, Te Wainui, Porangahau, Waipukurau, and Manawatu. When they had done with these, they had recourse to the Crown grants.

When the large plan was made, it was used by him to intimidate us in respect of our lands, so that he might get them as he wished. We therefore objected, because we were strangers to this survey. Much land has been dealt with in past times, but not as this has been dealt with,—the surveyor went upon the land so that the survey might be all right, and also the plan.

Our objection to the Court is this:—When the Court sat, Mr. Rogan asked Aperahama Te Rautahi Friend Aperahama, have you an interest in this land?—Yes. Who was your ancestor?—Te Rangiwhakaewa. Are you living upon the land?—Yes. Have you any cultivations upon it?—Yes, I have cultivations, I have a house, I have fences left by my ancestor. My ancestors had been living upon this land for eight generations. My father represented the ninth, and I am the tenth; my children will be eleven, and my grandchildren twelve.

Mr. Rogan then asked Hoani Meihama: Hoani, is the statement made by Aperahama, correct?— It is not. The owners of this land are Rangitane. Te Rangiwhakaewa is a new man.

When Mr. Rogan heard what Hoani had said, he would not accept Aperahama's statement, and so he failed through that man, and all his tribes failed with him. Ahuaturanga was the land in respect of which that man objected to Aperahama, and then he was overthrown from all the blocks of this land, Tamaki [Seventy-Mile Bush], Te Ahuaturanga Maharahara, Umutaoroa Te Piripiri, Tiratu, Otanga, Te Ohu, Orakaiatai, Te Tuatua, Ngamoko, Puketoi (these are blocks under this name).

Friends, the heads of the Committee. The reason why we were overthrown from our lands by the Court and the Government of Napier was, that we did not wish to sell our land. That is why we applied to the Chief Judge of the Native Land Court for a rehearing of the eases of these lands, the names of which are given above. That man agreed that we should survey it. On sending surveyors, the Government of Hawke's Bay prevented them (from acting). We are therefore trying to find out what the law is, in order that it may be discovered in what respect the investigation of the titles to these lands is wrong.

Friends, do not think that our objection to Mr. Rogan's proceedings is not a true objection. It is a very proper objection. We saw that a very improper course was pursued: he showed partiality for one party, and he abandoned the canoe in which he crossed the wide ocean, that is to say the law, and he took to the water, that is, he acted outside of the law. We therefore bring this wrong before you, that you may see how badly all the people of these hapus have been treated by that man, in being driven into the sea, there to swim about and call in vain for our canoe to be brought back to us. That man did not heed us, but pursued his own course: we therefore apply to you.

Friends, we pray you to take our land out of the Court, of the sale, and of the survey. Do not consider that the land has passed properly into the hands of the Government of Hawke's Bay, namely, Mr. Ormond, No, our land has gone wrongly. Had the disposal of it been correct, we would not ask your consideration of the matter. The Government have purchased a great deal of land about which no applications have been made. But with regard to those about which there is a difficulty, we shall apply for justice to be administered. In this case there is wrong, and there is great confusion, and we therefore strongly urge the matter of our lands. We therefore affix our names, and we, the said persons, apply to you. Our hapus and our names are hereunder written. We have but one decided request to make; that is, that we may have satisfaction, in which case only will we cease petitioning.

These are the hapus interested in Tamaki, who were cast in Court.

Te Rangiwhakaewa, and others.

page 6

The names of the persons of these hapu who are grantees are hereunder written. The numbers refer to the identification of the people with their hapus.

Wi Te Huata and others (no numbers given).

The following are the persons who were excluded from the land by the Court on the day on which it sat. The numbers refer to the hapus of the persons excluded.

1. Paora Te Rangiwhakaewa and others.

Friends, these are the persons who were excluded by the Court from Tamaki, and the same persons object to the action of the Court and to the survey. They have all asked for a resurvey; and when that is completed, then let the matter be adjudicated upon by the Court. Such a course as is here indicated would be clear to us.

Now, with regard to the purchase of Tamaki, we submit for your consideration our reasons for finding fault with it, and for saying the Government of Hawke's Bay know how to bewitch Maori fashion.

On the day on which Tamaki was purchased by the Government of Hawke's Bay, they did not send us any notification. Ormond and Locke went on with their work, and paid money to the sellers. They gave us no information whatever; although they saw us in Napier, they did not address us and inform us. The matter of the purchase extended over eight mouths, and (during that time) those persons did not know us. Had this purchase been like one of the old purchases, not conducted under any special Act, we could have understood it then; but as matters are at present, there is a law in existence affecting the land and the people. The authority of that law extends both to the land and the people. We therefore are of opinion, that the proceeding of the Government of Hawke's Bay are wrong as regards this land, Tamaki—indeed as regards the whole of Hawke's Bay. We therefore inform you of these proceedings, so that you may see how this Government acts,—the Maoris being ignorant, and you the Europeans being possessed of much knowledge. It is therefore thought fit that you should be asked to see if some relief cannot be afforded to us in regard to the grievance of which we complain—it is a great grievance, a bad grievance, and a frightful grievance.

Friends, the great people of the Government at Wellington in Parliament assembled. We have come to a decision upon this matter, and we desire that you should know our thoughts.

Tamaki should be withdrawn from the Court and from the sale, in order that the difficulties respecting our land may be cleared away. Do not let the evil designs of the Government of Hawke's Bay regarding our lands be carried out, but let the benefits of the law be extended to the Maoris, who are under the authority of Queen Victoria of England and of the Governor.

The above is the decision we have arrived at in our Maori Committee, and it has also been arrived at by us the persons interested in the land. The decision of the Maori Committee is not a piece of interference on their part. We submitted the matter to them, and we approve of their proceedings, because they act according to law.

Friends, this trouble will not end. We shall continue to ask you to allow our lands to be withdrawn from the action of the law.

The names of the writers of this letter are given above.