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Sir Donald Maclean

Chapter XIV — Pioneering Hawke's Bay — The First Land Purchases

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Chapter XIV
Pioneering Hawke's Bay
The First Land Purchases

It was in December 1850 that Donald Maclean, actin under instruction from Governor Grey, Began negotiations with the Ngati-kahungunu tribe of the East Coast for the purchase of the first clocks of land in the district extending from the Ruataniwha plan to Wairoa, Hawke' Bay. As Land Commissioner he travelled through the country, meeting the people, andhe explaned the advantages that would accrue to the Maoris from setting portions of their vast areas of territory to the Crown for pakeha settlers. He was hospitably welcomed by the chiefs and had little difficulty iin arranging for the cession of suitable blocks of the widespreading prairies that extended back to the Ruahine and Ahimanawa Ranges. The site of the present town and port of Napier was then known generally as Ahuriri, and the inner harbour was the Whanganuui-o-Rotu. Mataruahou was the name of the high land that came to be called Scinde Island, the hight seaward bluff was the Hukarere (“Sea-spray”). It was practically an island then. with a clesolate tract of sand and shingle and a series of shallow lagoons and creeks where the trown and its outlaring parts stand to day. Heretaunga was the plain country extending from Ahuriri south to the Ruataniwha plains.

The following are extracts from Maclean's diary, taking up the story on the day after canoe passage of the Mana-watu George described in the last chapter:

December 6, 1850 (continuing the canoe passage along the upper Mana-watu, on the Hawke's Bayt side of the ranges).—The country around is page 59 thickly wooded, with a variation of level and hilly land. There are not any traces of this country having been thickly inhabited. We arrived at Nga-awa-purua at 11 a.m. We met with a loud welcome from old and young; and with due dignity we passed into the strangers hall, a long cabin, formed of rushes and roofed with bark, widely different from the substantial idea that an English Hall conveys; but with all its simple rudeness, the welcome is as sincere as it would have been in the ancient days of the Saxon race, when their best rooms were not more richly furnished than the rude New Zealander's reception house. The tangi has now commenced, and will last until fifteen minutes before food appears. We heard the screams of the wild sea-bird, as we got up this morning; and I never hear the cry of that bird without thinking of Jura, and Corrievrechan's whirlpool. We caught some young putangitangi or Paradise ducks. Four of them were brought to Rameka's wife, to make pets of them, but I find they are too young, so left three with the parent ducks and the natives have taken the others back.

Landing from the canoes was ordered at Pakiau. The Manawatu is in a S.W. direction from here.

A bush road, tolerably level for a mile. Then a small plain of a hundred acres, surrounded by wood, then another plain, still larger, of the same grassy character, on to a small kainga, on the banks of the Otawao; where we encamped for the night.

Our followers have increased from thirty to fifty, including women, who, of themselves, had manned one canoe up the Manawatu rapids. Fancy six English ladies at the same employment! The hospitality of the natives at every place we have visited has been very great, I may say, excessive.

December 7.–Started at 8 a.m. across grassy plains, hemmed in by hill and bush. Some of the hills on our right are covered with grass and fern. At Paetahi we received a kind welcome. Men, women and children on the house-tops, greeting and hailing, with the usual salutations of Haere mai! Haere mai.

December 8.–We passed through a totara bush, across the Manawatu and Tamaki rivers, through a second bush; then through Tahoraiti, a grassy plain, well-suited for sheep, watered by the Makirikiri stream, surrounded by heavy forest timber, containing about 700 acres. Claimed by Te Hiriwanui and Karaitiana. Our journey continued through bush and plain.

The flats or grazing ground after Tahoraiti were Te-Umutaoroa, Te Piripiri and Mangateao.

Our fires at the encampment, with the natives squatted round, looked a perfect gipsy scene; their songs and merriment, all but their frugal fare, partaking much of that character. A lovely stream, a fine forest of trees, some of them covered with the old beardy locks of age, where oft the warriors' spears have rested, surround our tent. We passed one oven in the bush to-day, where fifty men were killed, cooked and eaten; and the spring below us has been the scene of deathly struggles and revenge. No doubt its waters have been the hue of human blood, more times than once. Old Hanea, our greyheaded warrior, was an active warrior; he performed his part in this scene, with great skill and dexterity; although he does not, like many others, boast of his past acts, as most New Zealanders are fond of doing.

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Tuesday, 10 December.–Travelled to Mangatawai-iti, through Te Oho forest. Then through Nihopopo. High tawai trees on the descent to Mangatawai-nui, a distance from our encampment at hard travelling pace of eight miles in two hours. Walked through bush, and a small plain, Te Whiti, thence across the Manawatu River, which takes serpentine turns. At half past 12 we opened up a view of the Ruataniwha a most extensive grassy plain, lying north and south, bounded on the west by the Ruahine Range. Two hours, or six mile walk to Makareti stream. Our natives went out pig-hunting. Consequently we stopped here for the night. Spoke to the natives about uniting, and keeping of one mind, in regard to our expedition; and not to interfere with the people of Heretaunga, but let them have their own say. Prayers by Ropata, at the fire.

December 11, 1850.–At 4 a.m. we roused up. A beautiful grey morning. Bathed in the stream, dressed, had a cup of tea, and at half past four we started, and walked across the plain, N.E. by E. At half past seven we halted for breakfast. The plain is peculiarly adapted for sheep grazing, not luxuriantly covered with verdure, but well-clothed with rich grass of every variety. After breakfast we ascended some beautiful grass downs, or hills. The distance we travelled since morning is about thirteen miles, all of it good sheep country; light, dry land, well watered with deep water-holes and rivers, dotted here and there with small quantities of bush, which towards this end of the plain is rather scarce. Our messenger came to us this morning, bringing intelligence that the natives had agreed to sell the Government a considerable portion of land; that the great chiefs were assembling from their different villages, and would be at Waipukurau to-morrow. I gave him £1 for his expedition and trouble.

We arrived in sight of the pa, and ranged our party, forty-one in number, all in beautiful order, walking slowly to the pa, where a party of men and women, decorated with kotuku (white heron) feathers, advanced, waving their blankets to welcome us. We approached, retreating gradually at a fixed distance, while the house-tops were crowded with people loudly welcoming and joining with those on the ground in choruses all expressive of great satisfaction of our coming. Their general words of welcome were: “Come! Come you and your pakeha friends! Come to Heretaunga! Come to your land-Heretaunga!” We were shown to the seats where there was clean fern and flax laid down for us to sit on; and a house covered with green flax mats to retire to, when the usual formalities of speechifying were over. In accordance with my advice and instructions, all our party behaved admirably, keeping perfect silence, till the people of the place had expressed their entire assent not only to receive us, but to sell their lands. They spoke quite to the point, and apparently in earnest. Several of them were young men of considerable influence; amongst them, Hapuku's relatives. The only person who first opposed the sale, was the teacher of the place, Matai, who seemed to have a previous determination to oppose the sale of land; although he urged no weighty arguments against it that were not put down at once by Ropata and my party; who had several lectures from me that fortified them against all arguments the natives could adduce; and they used my advice admirably in favour of having English settlers amongst them permanently.

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I have also succeeded in getting a strong party against the leasing of their lands; and to-morrow I must take proceedings against all Europeans who may be leasing land from natives. One has just now arrived with a large flock of sheep. He is expected here to-morrow, and off he must go, or else land-purchasing is at an end. A few more have spoken against land-selling, but they seem to be in the minority.

Hori Kingi from Rangitikei is now speaking to the effect that he will continue to sell land, and encourage Europeans, and assist me in doing so, as long as he lives or breathes. He looks well, and from his patriarchal appearance and grey locks, he does much credit to the expedition. He is an old man that should be pensioned. They compliment him greatly at this place, by saying: “Come further! Come to your land! Come! Come, take the land, your own land for the Europeans, for Maclean! Welcome! Welcome, Kingi Hori! It is well you have come amongst us. You are our parent ancestor; so the land is yours!”

All this is well; but if poor old Kingi were to ask for any of the payment, I fear the compliments as to the land being his would be reversed.

Te Hapuku is a chief of great importance and great influence. A fine, dignified, high-minded man apparently aware of his own importance. His speech to-day after the rest had spoken was the best I have heard for a long time. He seemed to feel the parting with his land exceedingly; and I trust he will be rewarded, and well-treated by the Government. The block of land of which he distinctly gave us the boundaries is of considerable extent, and includes the best part of the Ahuriri district.

Saturday, 14 December.–The Ngatikahungunu tribe, after long discussions among themselves, came to meet me at 3 p.m. and spoke generally in favour of disposing of a small portion of their country, to commence with; and seemed generally disposed to have Europeans amongst them. To Moananui spoke first, expressing a desire, which had long existed of having English settlers. Paora Kaiwhata said: “Come to Heretaunga, to your land, you and your children.” Paratene said: “Come to your land Heretaunga, to the fond daughter searched after by all people, and firmly retained till your arrival. Now it is yours. Welcome to your land!” Karaitiana Takamoana said: “Call and be welcome.” Wiremu te Raheke said: “Welcome, welcome, welcome to your land.” Other chiefs spoke to the same effect. I spoke to them to the effect that I had come here at their solicitation; that I had little to say, either myself, or party; it being uncourteous for strangers just arrived to assume the speaking at such an assembly of chiefs, who appeared so well able to speak and act for themselves. Therefore, chiefs and people of Heretaunga speak on!

Tareha said: “Come, come, come! This is now your land, from end to end. To-morrow you shall see another end of the land—Ahuriri. Both Heretaunga, and Ahuriri, from end to end, shall be yours.” Te Meihana sang a poetic song, composed to the Governor, the steam-boat, and myself; also another, about two canoes.

Noa, an old man, addressed me very forcibly, then I got up, and made a long speech, reciting a poem in which all my followers, and others, about sixty, joined in the chorus, much to the amusement of the Ngati-Kahungunu.

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Te Harawira made an excellent speech about selling large tracts of land, and done with it. What was the use of selling small tracts? A fine clump of forest, and grazing land around it.

December 16.–Started out with Hapuku's son and others, to see the boundary of the purchase, or direction of it. Returned early in the forenoon, and rode with Te Hapuku and others to Patangata, along a very fine grassy plain; my party having gone by way of Te Aute, where they are to wait for me. Patangata is a nice village, with a fine river and wood around it. The natives are kind and hospitable. They killed a pig for us, cleaned it, and fried some for me on a clear wood fire by the river side. We had some eggs and potatoes; and I found that Mika, the teacher, had a nice cottage built, which I encouraged by offering him a couple of windows for it. In the evening we crossed to Te Aute, a beautiful clean settlement.

The tent was pitched, and after tea, the natives Hoani, Noa, and Tamati Waka, offered to sell me a block of land. I told them, as the mania for land-selling had only struck them, they had better consider the matter well, and express their final determination on the subject when the natives should be all assembled at a general meeting of the natives there.

Te Hapuku opposes this sale, but notwithstanding his great influence, in some respects, the several claimants are likely to carry the day against him.

December 17.–In the morning we started for Pukawa, one of Te Hapuku's places, where we had breakfast, and came along a hilly country to the Ahuriri plains. Received a note from Mr. Tiffen, in reply to a notice I had given him, to quit the Ahuriri plains, with his sheep, which he agreed to do. The Ahuriri plain is extensive, but looks flat and swampy. Hapuku spent a great part of the evening with me, talking about Wairarapa, and the best mode of settling the claims.

Fleas abound in such numbers that I am obliged to sleep in a canoe.

December 18.–Pulled down in canoes to Awapuni, Mr. Colenso (the missionary) received us very kindly, and invited me to spend the night with him, which I did, obtaining considerable information from him, respecting the natives, their numbers, disposition, and character. From his account, Hapuku, Moananui, Tareha, and Puhaea, have great influence. Nothing of importance can be effected by the others without their consent. Not even the secondary chief, who, in other districts, has great importance, is able to do anything without the consent of either one or other of the above parties. In coming down this morning, the boys had a fine race in their canoes, which was nearly ending in a quarrel; the lads striving with all their might to gain head of the other, at the risk of half-drowning our heavy canoe, with the splashing of the paddles. Mr. Colenso had a neat printing-press at his station.

December 19.–After breakfast we left for Ahuriri, six miles from Mr. Colenso's. The place looks rather bleak, with scorched grass, scarcity of wood and water, which adorn other parts of the Island so much. The river, however, is deep, two and a quarter fathoms at low water on the bar. The natives are collecting from all quarters in their canoes. Therefore they were ready to meet me.

December 20.–About 12 o'clock, Tareha gave me notice that the natives had discussed sufficiently long among themselves about the sale of their land. Therefore they were ready to meet me.

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They ranged themselves in a circle; their old senators displaying their white weatherworn locks to the breeze; and the women looking eagerly at the white stranger, who was to purchase the land of their ancestors. No doubt they were also thinking of the fineries the sale would bring them. An old man named Te Tora, got up, with an old cheek-bone of a hog in his hand, as emblematical of his decay, and said:

“My children, let your words be a good welcome to the stranger amongst you!” Te Morehu said: “Let us all consent to sell the land. Do you all do so?” appealing to the crowd of about four or five hundred. They all replied–“Ae !” (Yes). Old Tora shaking the old bone, with his infirm hand, in a most emphatic manner, as he lay on the ground, consenting to the sale of the land. Paora Torotoro said: “Welcome, welcome, welcome, Maclean! Come to your land. This is your land, we give it to you!” Tareha said: “Welcome, welcome to your land. The water is ours. The land you see before you, is yours.” He then named boundaries, all agreeing to them. Next day the Maoris began to disperse to their homes.

The preliminary arrangements having thus been made satisfactorily, Mr. Maclean returned to report to the Government. When he returned to complete the bargains, the Ahuriri block was the first purchase made. This was completed on 4 November 1851. The deed was signed by Tareha te Moananui, Paora Torotoro, Karanama te Nahu, Paora Rerepu and many others, including numerous women, and by Donald Maclean on behalf of the Governor, with Robert Park, Government Surveyor, as witness. Park accompanied the Commissioner in order to make approximate surveys of the various areas when the boundaries were pointed by the chiefs. The Ahuriri purchase extended from the Tutaekuri and the sea inland to the Upper Mohaka district and to Titiokura, the summit of the ranges. One of the boundary marks specified in the deed was Tareha's Post at Umukiwi. One of the reserves made for the Maoris was “the island in the Whanganui-o-Rotu named Te Roro-o-Kuri.” Another reserve was 500 acres at Puke-titiri with the right to snare birds in the forest. The Maoris agreed to give up, among other places mentioned, “the stony spit from Ruahoru to Ahuriri,” also Mataruahou (this area was specially acquired again in 1856), Pukemokemoke and the Tareha family's burying-ground being the only portions kept for the natives. For the Ahuriri block (area not mentioned in the early deeds) Maclean paid £1,000. On the same date (4 November 1851) the first Waipukurau block was acquired, and additional areas of that country later. The price paid for the main block was £1,800.

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In 1853 Governor Grey himself entered into negotiations with the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe, exerting his personal influence to secure cession of land for settlement. He landed in Palliser Bay from the Government brig Victoria and went up the whole length of the Wairarapa and the Hawke's Bay plains to Ahuriri. The first purchases of the Wairarapa for the Crown were made in September 1853, totalling areas of 560,000 acres. Donald Maclean was left to arrange the details of sale boundaries, instalments and payment and so forth with the various hapus of the country traversed.

The Hon. J. D. Ormond thus described the Wairarapa-Hawke's Bay purchases in 1853:

I found Mr. Maclean had arranged a journey from Wellington to the East Coast on a land purchasing expedition to conclude at Napier, and he invited me to accompany him. We travelled up from Wellington by way of Wairarapa and on to Napier. The procession, as it may be called, started from the coast at the outlet of Wairarapa Lake and consisted of about 200 to 300 natives. They came to initiate the sale of blocks of land along the route, and as they went along purchases were made from all the principal chiefs, and those purchases generally included the homesteads of the settlers who were there occupying on leases and who before had had no fixed tenure. All the way up the only settlers were people who here and there had rented land from the natives and who were sheepfarming. We had with us an accountant with two pack-horses carrying a large sum of money in gold and silver for the purposes of the purchases. We came up to Waipukurau, and there was arranged the purchase of a very large block, taking in Waipukurau, what is now Otane, and down the coast to Pourerere, a very large tract of country and a fine district for settlement. Then another block was purchased in Ruataniwha. Finally we came on where the town of Napier is now, and Donald Maclean purchased this island (Scinde Island) in 1853 on which there was only one residence—in Onepoto Gully. All these things were accomplished largely by personal influence.

The purchase of Scinde Island, now so beautiful a place of homes and gardens and orchards, the high-set residential part of Napier town, was completed on 13 November 1856. The Crown paid £50 for it then, and made a reserve for the chief Tareha, consisting of two sections in Napier “when this land has a town.” As the town site was then merely a sandy waste the canny Maclean was not giving away very much.

The full English, text of the deed is given here as an page 65 example of the documents by which these lands were first acquired for the Crown and for settlement, simple documents into which a certain quality of pathos and poetry entered:


13 November 1856.
Mataruahou (Scinde Island) Block, Province of Hawke's Bay.

This Deed conveying land dated this 13th of November in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty-six (1856) is a paper of the full and true consent of us the Chiefs and People of Ngatikahungunu tribe whose names are subscribed hereto on behalf of ourselves our relatives and descendants to be hereafter born to fully and finally give up a piece of our land to Victoria the Queen of England and to all the Kings and Queens her successors for ever. And for our consenting entirely to give up this piece of our land Victoria the Queen of England on her part agrees to pay us the sum of Fifty pounds (£50) in money. Twenty-five pounds (£25) of which amount was paid to us by Mr. Maclean on the 11th April in the year 1855 and the balance of twenty-five pounds (£25) has been paid to us by Mr. Cooper this day. This is all the money we are to have for this land. But another part of the payment to us for this land consists of two Town Sections. The marks of these sections on the plan of the Town of Napier are…. The Sections are to be granted by the Queen to Tareha.

The boundary begins at the old boundary of Oterango and runs along the edge of the water to Poua thence to Omoko thence to the Ahi-tahu-o-te-Waru where it cuts on the bank (or spit) at the Taupata and runs down to the sea and follows the sea shore till it closes with the old boundary.

Now we have fully considered wept over and bid adieu to this land inherited by us from our forefathers with all its rivers lakes waters streams trees stones grass plains forests good places and bad and everything either above or below the soil and all and everything connected with the said land we have fully and entirely given up under the shining sun of the present day as a lasting possession to Victoria the Queen of England and to all the Kings and Queens her successors for ever.

And in witness of our assent to all the conditions of this paper have hereto subscribed our names and marks at Ahuriri on this thirteenth (13) day of November in the year 1856.

And in witness to the consent of the Queen of England on her part to all the conditions of this paper it hath been subscribed by Mr. Cooper one of the Land Commissioners of the Governor of New Zealand.

G. S. Cooper, Dist. Commissioner.

Tareha X

Karauria Pupu X

Hone Hoera X

Witnesses to the payment and signatures:

H. S. Tiffen, District Surveyor, Napier.

M. Fitzgerald, Surveyor, Napier.

(A True Copy of the Original Deed and Translation. H. Hanson Turton, Wellington, February 18th, 1876.)
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The Tutaekuri block was bought on the same day as Mataruahou Island. It extended south from the harbour Whanganui-o-Rotu and comprised the area between the Tutaekuri and Purimu Rivers.

The name of the great chief Hapuku appears on numerous deeds of land sale between 1856 and 1860. In full his name is given as Te Hapuku Ika o te Moana. He was the principal seller of the Aorangi block and Te Mata in 1856.

The Ruataniwha north block and a portion of the Ruahine were bought in 1859 for £3,700. Moeangiangi, to the north of Ahuriri, on the way to Mohaka, was bought in 1859.

Pastoral settlement quickly followed the pioneering journeys and negotiations of the Land Commissioner.

In September 1853, Mr. Maclean reported that 560,000 acres had been secured at Wairarapa, “His Excellency having himself taken an active part in directing how the negotiation should be carried on.” The Governor in a despatch informed the Secretary of State of his “happiness” in completing the arrangement which had “given the most lively satisfaction to all the inhabitants of the province…. A considerable European population had in fact already occupied the district under agreements with the natives, illegal in themselves, and which were very likely to favour the cause of future disputes which might hereafter endanger the peace of the country.”

In 1853, Maclean, with the consent of the Governor, organised a Native Land Purchase Department, with officers in each of the principal districts. He was Chief Commissioner himself. In 1854 he made large purchases of land in the Auckland province, and these bargains were never disputed.

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King Tawhiao, of Waikato [Photograph, Napier, about 1886.

King Tawhiao, of Waikato
[Photograph, Napier, about 1886.

Te Hapuku The principal chief who sold the Hawke's Bay country to the Government.

Te Hapuku
The principal chief who sold the Hawke's Bay country to the Government.

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