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A compendium of official documents relative to native affairs in the South Island, Volume One.

Introduction. — Object of the Work

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Object of the Work.

The purchase of land from the Natives of the South Island, and the settlement of reserves for them, whether effected by the New Zealand Company or by the Government, have led to the accumulation of a mass of documents of great value bearing on the original titles of the different properties acquired for the purposes of European settlement; and it was with a view to preserve from oblivion transactions which had led to the extinction of the Native Title over so large an area, that the Native Minister, Mr. McLean, instructed me to collect and classify papers touching on the subject. Such a work of reference was rendered all the more necessary from the fact that the extension of the negotiations, spreading in many cases over a period of years, necessitated the employment of different officers to conclude, from time to time, the various portions of a purchase. It was, therefore, imperative, in order to understand each transaction as a whole, to collate the reports and arrange them in their proper sequence; and this, from the previous state of the scattered documents, could not be done without difficulty.

Notwithstanding the sparse Native population of the Middle Island, many obstacles were encountered in reconciling the conflicting interests of different tribes, and in obtaining, with a clear title, the cession of the extensive tracts of territory required for the use of the in-pouring European population. The investigation of the Native claims to lands under treaty, involved also the question of the rights of the conquered aboriginal race, as well as those of the conquering tribes.

The reports of the officers intrusted with the duties of purchasing land from the Native owners, together with other papers, will fully explain the nature of the several negotiations.

The introductory chapter has been divided under three heads:—

  • 1. A brief sketch of the transactions which took place in the Colony from the date of its discovery up to the promulgation of "The Constitution Act," in 1853.
  • 2. A narrative of the principal subjects contained in the work.
  • 3. The traditionary history of the Natives of the South Island up to the time of their conquest by the northern tribes under Te Rauparaha.

The portion of the introductory chapter devoted to a summary of past events in New Zealand has been collated from Parliamentary Papers and other sources.

The information contained in the official part of the publication has been compiled from Parliamentary Papers, New Zealand Company's Reports, Appendices to the Journals of both Houses of Assembly, and from a mass of correspondence in the Native Office.

The accounts of the condition of the Natives in early times are derived from information gathered by Dr. Shortland (formerly Native Secretary), the Hon. Mr. Mantell, Mr. James Mackay, junior, the Rev. J. W. Stack, and from a variety of documents.

In conclusion, it should be stated, as an apology for any defects which may be detected by the reader, that the work has been undertaken under circumstances involving considerable inconvenience, a large portion of the information having been obtained during moments snatched from the discharge of official duties.

Alexander Mackay,
Native Commissioner.

Nelson, 2nd November, 1871.
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