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Notes on Sir William Martin's Pamphlet Entitled the Taranaki Question

Page 42

Page 42.

"In the case of the Bell Block."…………

The instance given by Sir W. Martin in support of his statement is rather unfortunate.

1.The block was in the Puketapu country. The whole tribe of Ngatiawa did not agree to the sale; nor did all the Natives of Puketapu.
2.William King's opposition to the sale was not "withdrawn," for he never made any. He was not there at the time.
3.He never "ceased to oppose," for he had never made any opposition.
4.His people never "assented," for they had nothing whatever to do with the sale.

It is of some importance that the circumstances of the Bell Block purchase should be accurately stated.

When Sir George Grey made his visit to New Plymouth in March, 1847, he commenced the treaty for the purchase of the Grey Block, which was soon after page breakconcluded to the satisfaction of all parties. In May 1847, the New Zealand Company came to their agreement with Lord Grey. As soon as this agreement became known in the Colony, Sir George Grey determined on suspending all operations for the purchase of land in the Company's settlements. As respected Taranaki this was officially notified by the Governor to Mr. Dillon Bell, at that time representing the Company at New Plymouth.

In March 1848, Sir George Grey revisited New Plymouth, and specially authorised Mr. Bell to enter into negotiations with a Puketapu section of the Ngatiawa for the land between Mangati and Waitaha, now known as the Bell Block. The land was offered by Rawiri Waiaua and others, and violently opposed by Katatore, Parata te Huia, and their followers.

"After the preliminary ncgociations a day was named (says Mr. Bell in his report) to commence cutting the boundary lines in order to try the right of the disputants. Parata, Katatore, and the other hostile men, immediately cut lines as boundaries of their own land, and then prepared to resist by force the determination "of the others to sell theirs. I took out with me the whole of the friendly party to work, numbering nearly 60 men. The battle began at the first line, and at some places the ground was fought for inch by inch. The Natives only used their fists, sticks, and the backs of their tomahawks; anything like a sharp edge was most religiously let alone; and it was wonderful to see the amount of battering they endured without really using the deadly weapon they carried. The end of it all was that in a few days I had cut the whole of the lines, and that tangis and feasts caused a speedy oblivion of the hard blows that had been exchanged."—(Parl. Pap. 1st July l852, p. 239, 240.)

At that time William King was not at Taranaki at all. He shortly afterwards met Mr. McLean at Wanganui and put in a claim to the Bell Block. The claim was investigated when the payment was divided, and disposed of by the Natives themselves, who awarded him nothing. He had nothing whatever to do with opposing or with ceasing opposition to the sale, but was placed in the ridiculous situation of having put in a proprietary claim which was laughed at by the Puketapu people, and abandoned.

The Bell Block purchase, therefore, cited by Sir W. Martin as proof of the correctness of his doctrine that the consent of Wiremu Kingi and the whole tribe were necessary, happens to be conclusive evidence of just the reverse.