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

Mr. Commissioner McLean to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary

Mr. Commissioner McLean to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary.

Land Commissioner's Office, Auckland 7th April, 1856.


I have the satisfaction to report to you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, that the negotiations entered into—previous to Sir George Grey's departure in 1853—with the Ngatitoa Tribe, for the cession of their unextinguished claims over the Nelson and Canterbury Provinces, have at length been brought to a favourable termination.

2.In order that His Excellency may be enabled more easily to form a general view of the whole of the transaction, I may here advert briefly to some of the earlier circumstances connected with the purchase.
3.After repeated meetings and discussions with the Ngatitoa and Ngatitatma Tribes, who at first intended only to cede a portion of their less valuable land on the West Coast, a deed of sale was executed by them at Wellington, on the 10th of August, 1853, by which they agreed, subject to certain reservations, to relinquish in favour of the Crown, for a sum of £5,000, the whole of their claims upon the Middle Island.
4.These reservations consisted of the cultivations and lands required for the subsistence of the Natives resident in the district; it being always distinctly understood that Rangitoto, or D'Urville Island, was excepted from the sale.
5.A first portion of the purchase money, amounting to £2,000, was paid at the time of the execution of the deed; the balance of £3,000 remained to be discharged in six annual instalments of £500 each
6.In addition to the cash consideration payable to the Natives, which, from the smallness of the sum, they evinced some reluctance to accept, it was further agreed by Sir George Grey that fifteen of the principal chiefs should have scrips awarded to them, representing £50 each, which should be available in the purchase of Crown lands in any part of New Zealand.
7.Twenty-six of the Native claimants were also to have 200 acres each out of the land thus ceded by them, in snch places as the Governor might set apart for this purpose, and at such times as the land might be required for their use.
8.The Natives have not, as yet, evinced any desire to select this land, which they regard more as a provision for their future wants than as needed for immediate occupation. They have, however, applied some of the scrips before alluded to in the purchase of land in the Wellington and Nelson Provinces.
9.The above statement embraces the whole of the more important arrangements concluded with the Natives previous to Sir George Grey's departure; it being then fully contemplated, both by His Excellency and by myself, that the further details of this purchase would have been brought to a much earlier termination; but circumstances which could neither be foreseen nor obviated have hitherto interfered to prevent this.page 301
10.The conflicting claims of different tribes, residing on both shores of Cook Strait, to the unpurchased lands in ine Nelson Province, occasioned considerable difficulty. For instance, the Kgatitoa Tribe of Porirna (with whom the first treaty was concluded) had unquestionably, as the earliest invaders, a prior right to the disposal of the district. This they never had relinquished; although, after the conquest, their leading chiefs partitioned out to the subordinate branches of their own' tribe, as well as to the Ngatiawa, a few of whom took part with them in the conquest, the lands which these now occupy in the Nolson Province.
11.The latter parties did not assume to themselves a power of sale except over the lands they actually occupied; yet some of them, when not confronted by the leading Ngatitoa chiefs, professed to hare independent and exclusive rights, while the majority, and even the parties making such aseertions, when ctosely examined, always acknowledged that the general right of alienation vested in the Ngatitoa chiefs of the Northern Island In fact, their relative rights, through intermarriage, the declining influence of the chiefs, and other causes, had became so entangled, that, without the concurrence both of these occupants and of the remnants of the conquered Rangitane and Ngaitahu Tribes, no valid title could have been secured.
12.To arrange, therefore, with the various claimants, as opportunity might offer, was the next duty to be attended to. Accordingly, a section of the Ngatiawa, who had taken part in the invasion, but had returned to their possessions at Waikanae, Taranaki, and other places in the North Island (intending to migrate from one Island to the other as their inclinations led them), were paid a sum of £900 for the extinction of their title, on the date and in the proportions specified as under:—
  • March 2,1854, for Wairau and Arapaoa, £200.
  • March 10,1854, title of Taranaki Natives, £500.
  • November 24,1854, for Te Awaiti, £200.
13.In November of the year 1854, Mr. Brunner, the Government Surveyor, and Mr. Jenkins, the Interpreter at Nelson, were despatched to mark off the boundaries of such reserves as would be required for the resident Natives. These officers did their utmost to perform this service, but, owing to the jealousy on the part of some of the Natives to the Ngatitoa sale, they were unable (except in a few instances) to effect any permanent adjustment of the reserves and boundaries. The reports of theso officers are herewith enclosed.
14.In December of the same year a large concourse of Natives from different parts of the Nelson Province were assembled, on one of their periodical visits, at Porirua, to hold a tangi or lamentation over some of their relatives recently deceased. At this meeting there were present so many influential representatives of the various tribes, that it afforded a favourable opportunity for discussing the merits of their respective claims;
15.These meetings resulted in an unanimous desire, on the part of the assembled tribes, to have the second instalment (then due) paid to them at Porirua instead of at Nelson, as originally intended; and in order that the whole of them might participate in it (which they could not do if one instalment only of £500 were paid), they requested that four years instalments should be handed over to them at once, urging as a reason that some of their chiefs had recently died of the measle epidemic, while two of them who had taken a prominent part in the conquest, though still alive, were in a precarious state of health, and that it was their unanimous desire that this payment should take place in their presence.
16.To this deviation from the original terms I had some difficulty in assenting, however politic it might otherwise have been, in consequence of the understanding that the second payment should be made at Nelson; but the Natives from that Province were themselves the most urgent in requesting me to forego this intention. My reasons for acceding finally to their desire have been fully reported in my letter to you of the 15th December, 1854, and in one of the same date addressed to Major Richmond, copies of which are herewith enclosed.
17.I should here add that the two old chiefs who participated in this payment, and who have since both died, expressly charged their surviving relatives to use their utmost influence in assisting the Government to settle this question, and this duty, as a parting request of these chiefs, they have most assiduously and faithfully performed.
18.The instalments now paid, together with £100 to one of the Ngatiawa chiefs at Gore Harbour, completed the sum of £5,000 stipulated for in the original Ngatitoa deed of sale. As there remained, however, unsettled claims of various resident tribes, I applied for and obtained a further advance of £2,000 to complete the purchase.
19.Owing to repeated and most unexpected interruptions, arising from my being obliged to go to Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, thence by the East Coast to Auckland, and twice (owing to disturbances there) to Taranaki,—disappointed, moreover, in not being able to get the Natives of the North Island, from illness, attention to their crops, or other causes, to accompany me,—I was unable to pay that attention to the claims of the residents in the Nelson Province, which it was my earnest desire to have done, with aview to the speedier settlement of a most important question which had been already so long pending, and which tha Natives, though their patience must have been greatly exhausted by these delays, declined to settle with any other officer except the one who commenced the negotiations.
20.On the 30th October, 1855, I was instructed by His Excellency Colonel Goro Browne to accompany him from Taranaki to Nelson, where an opportunity was afforded, from the number of Natives assembled there, to effect an arrangement with the Ngatirarua and Ngatitama for their claims, for a sum of £600, the receipt of which is acknowledged in the deed executed by them on the 10th and 13th of November, 1855.
21.This deed provides that the land exhibited on the plan thereto attached shall be reserved for the Natives; it is, together with what they elsewhere possess, of sufficient extent for their present and future requirements, even if they have a considerable increase of cattle and horses; it is situated within natural boundaries, requiring no outlay for surveys, and lies on a pnrt of the West Coast as yet remote from European settlers, but which the Natives were particularly anxious to retain. A Government page 302right of road, should it in future be required, is provided for by a clause to tbat effect inserted in the deed.
22.In proceeding by the " Zingari " from Nelson to "Wellington with His Excellency the Governor, on the 13th November, 1855, a survey party and interpreter were taken on board, and landed on the way in Queen Charlotte Sound, with instructions to lay off the necessary reserves in that part of the Nelson Province. This duty they were enabled to perform without much opposition on the part of the Maoris, and by the 15th January in this year the reserves were marked off.
23.On the 24th of that month I crossed the Straits from Wellington to Cloudy Bay in a small vessel, taking along with me the Ngatitoa chiefs Rawiri Puaha, Hohepa.Tamaihengia, and others, and was followed by Matene Te Whiwhi and Tamihana Te Rauparaha in the course of a few days.
24.The left bank of the wairau River being the southern boundary of the purchase, I held a meeting with the Natives of that place, in number about 120. They fully assented to the sale, having participated, except a small party of the Rangitane, in the first and second payments made at Porirua.
25.To the Rangitane, £100 was now paid in full satisfaction of all their claims.
26.The reserves laid off at the Wairau consist of 770 acres on the left bank of that river; a small bay, named White's Bay, and about 200 acres adjacent thereto; and two sections, of fifty acres each, to the chiefs Wiremu Nera Te Kanae and Te Tana Pukekohatu. The latter section has been marked out; but the former, in consequence of the absence of Te Kanae, though its general position was defined, had not been surveyed. For these two sections I beg to recommend that individual Crown Grants should be issued to the above-named chiefs.
27.From the Wairau I sailed for Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound, a portion of the country inhabited chiefly by the Ngatiawa. The people had assembled at. Waikawa to meet me; when, after several debates, which lasted for some days, I was enabled to effect a final settlement of their claims for a sum of £500, the receipt of which is acknowledged in the deed signed by them on the 9th February, 1856.
28.The unsettled state of the Ngatiawa Tribe, and the disposition manifested by them to their former possessions at Taranaki (when their presence could only increase the troubles that already beset the land question in that Province), rendered the present negotiation with them one of no small delicacy and difficulty, which might, if in any way mismanaged, affect the general tranquillity of the country. I was induced, therefore, to assent to reserves of considerable extent being assigned to them in the various bays they were then inhabiting, with which they appeared to be fully satisfied. A plan exhibiting these reserves, is herewith furnished for His Excellency's information.
29.To this part of the country, from its past associations, the Natives attach great importance, as the scene of many hard-fought battles and of final conquest: the great resort, moreover, in former years, of whale ships from different parts of the world, with whom they carried on a lucrative trade They could also, at all seasons of the year, resort, to its well-sheltered bays and harbours for supplies of fish.
30.As expressive of the national interest felt by them for the place, one of the principal chiefs, Ropoama To One, the last of several who had spoken, in a most emphatic harangue, in which he alluded to these various circumstances, struck into the grouud at my feet a greenstone adze, saying, in their usual style of metaphor, " Now that we have for ever launched this land into the sea, we hereby make over to you as a lasting evidence of its surrender, this adze, named Paiwhenua, which we have always highly prized from having regained it in battle after it was used by our enemies to kill two of our most celebrated chiefs, Te Pehi and Pokaitara. Honey vanishes and disappears, but this greenstone will endure as durable a witness of our act as tho land itself, which we have now, nnder the shining sun of this day, transferred to you for ever" I allude to this incident that it may, if necessary, be referred to hereafter as an evidence of the importance attached by this tribe to the treaty now concluded, and a striking circumstance likely to be long remembered by them.
31.From Queen Charlotte Sound I crossed by the Anakiwa Pass to the Kaituna and Pelorus Valleys. At the Kaituna, the exsent of reserve which I deemed necessary for the Ngatikaia Tribe residing there was 300 acres. Out of this extent I have to recommend that an individual Crown Grant be issued to the chief Hura Kopapa. The position of the reserve has been pointed out in the presence of the Natives interested, but I had not then time to have it surveyed.
32.In addition to this reserve, a landing-place for canoes, at a place called Pareuka, was requested by Kopapa: its extent, as pointed out to me, will not exceed 10 acres. A very long pa,'occupied by this tribe at a place called Motueka, is likely to be the only site available in that locality for a townehip If it should really be required for this purpose, the Natives agree to relinquish it; if not, then I would certainly recommend that it be reserved for them. Should a town be laid out there, I would submit that Huea and Manihere ought to receive, by way of compensation, four of the town sections of fair averago value. I trust that His Excellency will be pleased to sanction this proposal.
33.From Kaituna the next visit was paid to the Hoiere, or Pelorus River, to fix the reserves and cultivations for the Natives residing there. When these had been decided on, as shown in the plan herewith furnished, the Ngatikaia, formerlv the owners of the beautiful and fertile valleys of the Hoere and Kaituna, now reduced in number to about fifty souls, were paid £100 in extinction of their title, with which sum they appeared well satisfied, it being the first time since the conquest that their claims had iu any way been recognized.
34.I next proceeded to the Croixelles Harbour, but I found that the chief of that place had preceded me to Nelson, where I afterwards decided the reserves to be allotted to himself and his people, the Ngatikoata, and paid them a sum of £100 for all their claims.
35.Before going to Nelson I called at Wakapuaka, where a section of the Ngatitama live. These declined to give up any portion of the land held by them at that place, as they considered it not more than sufficient for their own subsistence. They object also to its being sold, without their consent, by their relations in the North Island; and as the land they hold is not of much greater extent than they would really require as a revenue, I did not deem it prudent at present to urge a settlement of this particular question upon them.page 303
36.The only tribe having claims upon this purchase, whom it was impossible for me to visit, are a small remnant of the Ngaitaha, about twenty-five in number, residing at Arahura, on the West Coast, a remote and as yet almost inaccessible part of the country. From a settlement of their claim I do not apprehend any difficulty; but, as a matter of justice, if the district is occupied by Europeans, a revenue of 300 or 400 acres should be secured to them, together with a small amount of compensation for their claims.
37.In conducting this purchase through its several stages, involving the interests of so many different and differently disposed tribes, and altogether the most complicated, as it was also the last, in the Middle Island, I found the limited time at my disposal so fully occupied with the necessary satisfaction. I would gladly have done this myself, in order to prevent any possible questions being raised hereafter about the boundaries. These details, however, can be easily arranged by the Government Surveyor, under the direction of Major Richmond, in whom the Natives place implicit confidence, and to whom, besides the memoranda already furnished, I shall communicate additional information respecting these surveys.
38.In the meantime, even these unfinished details are so fully understood by the Natives, that I am not aware that there can be any objection to the land being now handed over to the Crown Commissioner preparatory to its being disposed of in the usual manner.
39.In a separate communication I shall hereafter detail the steps taken by Major Richmond and myself to adjust some disputed rights to land comprised within the limits of Mr. Commissioner Spain's award.

I have, &c.,

Donald McLean,
Chief Commissioner.

The Hon. the Colonial Secretary.