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

No. 31. — Mr. Vernon Smtth to Mr. Somes

No. 31.
Mr. Vernon Smtth to Mr. Somes.

Downing Street, 2nd December, 1840.


I am directed by Lord John Russell to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th ultimo, in which you signify to his Lordship the acceptance by the New Zealand Company of the arrangements proponed in my letter of the 18th ultimo. In fulfilment of the promise contained in that letter, Lord John Russell further directs me now to state to you, for the information of the Company, what are the general principles by which the Crown proposes to be guided in its measures for the government and colonization of New Zealand.

In the first place, Lord John Russell wishes that it may be distinctly understood that, in explaining the general course of the policy which the Queen, on the recommendation of Her Majesty's confidential, advisers, has been pleased to adopt in reference to New Zealand, his Lordship enters into no pledge, either express or implied, for the continuance of that policy, if at any future time it should be thought right to change or to abandon it. Reserving to the Ministers of the Crown the most unfettered discretion as to the advice which they shall from time to time tender to Her Majesty on this subject, Lord John Russell is happy to make such a disclosure of his present views as may assist the Company in the prosecution of the undertaking in which they are engaged.

The instruments for erecting New Zealand into a Colony entirely separate from and independent of New South Wales have been completed, and will be forwarded by the earliest opportunity to Captain Hobson.

In pursuance of the powers vested in the Crown by an Act passed in the last Session of Parliament, the Queen has been pleased, by a charter under the Great Seal, to constitute a local Legislature authorized to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Her Majesty's subjects in New Zealand. That Legislature is, for the present, composed of the chief officers of the local Government, associated with some of the principal inhabitants of the Colony.

With regard to all lands in the Colony acquired under any other [gap — reason: damage]tile than that of grants made in the name and on the behalf of Her Majesty, it is proposed that the titles of the claimants should be subjected to the investigation of a commission to be constituted for that purpose. The basis of that inquiry will be the assertion on behalf of the Crown of a title to all lands situate in New Zealand, which have heretofore been granted by the Chiefs of those Islands according to the customs of the country, and in return for some adequate consideration. Lord John Russell is not aware that any exception can arise to this general principle; but if so, every such exception will be considered on its own merits, and dealt with accordingly.

It is proposed to apply to all other British subjects the rule to which the New Zealand Company will be subject in respect of the lands claimed by them within the Colony; that is, all other persons claiming lands there will have confirmed to them, by grants under the Public Seal, as many acres as shall be equal to four times the number of pounds, sterling invested by them in the manner mentioned in the arrangements with the New Zealand Company. This advantage, however, will be offered only to those whose lands were acquired before the 5th day of January, 1840, the date of the Proclamation issued by Sir George Gipps on the subject.

Her Majesty has, in the most decided terms, withheld from the Governor of New Zealand the power to grant any land in that Colony gratuitously, to any person whatever. This prohibitiou does not, of; course, apply to the case of grants of lands which it may occasionally be convenient to make to persons, in trust for the public, of tracts or pieces of land which it may be found convenient to dedicate to purposes of general utility; as, for example, roads, fortifications, public pleasure grounds, cemeteries, and the like.

It is proposed that, with the exception of lands reserved or granted in trust for the purposes before mentioned, all the lands of the Colony should be sold progressively as surveys shall be completed, at one uniform price, which, for the present, is fixed at 20s. per acre. The mode of effecting such sales, and whatever else relates to the conduct of that service, will at all times be explaiued to parties applying for such information by the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners.

It is proposed that at least 50 per cent, of the proceeds of such sales shall be applied towards the introduction of emigrants; the remaining 50 per cent, being regarded as chargeable with the expenses of surveys, with the, protection of the Aborigines, and with those indispensable expenses of the local Government for which it may be impracticable otherwise to provide.

I am, &c.,

R. Vernon Smith.

Joseph Somes, Esq.