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A Compendium of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs in the South Island. Volume Two.

No. 21. — J. W. Hamilton Esq., to D. McLean Esq

No. 21.
J. W. Hamilton Esq., to D. McLean Esq.

Lyttelton, January 8th, 1857.


On my return on the 24th ultimo., from completing the Native land purchase at Akaroa, I found Whakatau (or Kaikoura) chief of the Kaikoura Maoris, with some 20 or 30 of his principal people, waiting to see me.

Hearing that Government were in treaty with the Kaiapoi Natives for the surrender of their lands north of the river Asbley (Rakahauri), which, although unpaid for, have, notwithstanding their repeated remonstrances, been in our occupation for some six years past, Whakatau came to assert the rights of himself and his people.

Whakatau stated at the interview I had with him, in presence of the principal Maoris of Kaiapoi, Rapski, Port Levy, &c. (who are all members in common with the Kaikoura people of the Ngaitahu tribe), that Ngaitahu are the lawful owners of the country southwards from Pari-nui-o-whiti (The White Bluffs) between the Wairau and the Awatere (Wakefield); of this tract the Kaikoura Maoris claim the special ownership as far as the Waiau-ua, which was fully admitted by the Kaiapoi and Rapaki Maoris who, on the other hand, claim no special ownership north of the Waiau-ua. Their lands may be estimated at 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 acres, accordingly as Waipara River or old Kaiapoi Pa is taken as the South Boundary.

The late Government of New Munster, it is stated, paid Rawiri Puaha and the Ngatitoa tribe of the North Island £150 for the country from Wairau to Kaiapoi on the ground of their asserted conquest of it some 15 years since or more when lead by Rauperaha. Ngaitahu deny the right of Ngatitoa to sell, 1st. Because if it is to rest on conquests the right still remains to them, the original possessors of the soil. For in their last affairs with Ngatitoa they pursued Rauperaha as far as Port Underwood under Tuhawaiki, or Bloody Jack—driving him off the coast of Kapara-te-hau (to whaers "cobbler's hole" at the mouth of the Owhetero or Blind River, west of Cape Campbell); and, subsequently, in an affair at Fighting Bay, which lies between Port Underwood and Tory Channel, the Ngaitahu destroyed one canoe full of the Ngatitoa, whose deaths have never since been avenged. 2ndly. If the right is to appertain to occupation and possession, the Ngaitahu have, ever since their asserted conquest and those subsequent affairs, remained in undisturbed occupation of the lands in question. This is proved by the pas they have occupied at Kekerengu (Keggeregoo of whalers) Parikawakawa, and now occupy at Waipapa, Ohau, Kaikoura, Omihi, Mikouni and Amuri Bluff. 3rdly. That, if it be conceded that they were conquered by Rauperaha, he never occupied or possessed their country so as to maintain his right to it in accordance with Maori custom.

The whole of the country from Pari-nui-o-whiti southwards has long been occupied by sheep owners, but the Kaikoura people have never received one shilling for it, with this exception only, Sir George Grey in about October 1852 paid £50 to Whakatou for the surrender of Waiopuka, Fyfe's Whaling Station, on Kaikoura Peninsula, N.E. extreme. A promise it is stated was then made by the Governor to have this purchase marked off and surveyed; the promise has not been fulfilled. About this time some Surveyor sent by the Government of New Munster to chain along the Coast from Half Moon Bay to Waipapa was turned off the ground by Kaikoura and his people in assertion of their ownership.

By a census taken recently for the Nelsor Government, as I understood them to say, the Kaikoura Maoris numbered 78, of all ages and sexes, since increased by two births. They reside or cultivate at Waipapa, Ohau, Te Hapuku, Maunga, Mahuita, Wainuaiarara, Kaikoura Pa, and Mikonui Ihaia Rawiri, Raihania, and Whakatau, are their principal men.

On enquiring I learnt that Kaikoura received some of the money paid by Mr. Mantell for the purchase he was employed in 1848-49 and 50 in making as for north as Kaiapoi. But that this was given by his kinsmen to Whakatau, (Kaikoura) as a present not as a right,—and in consideration of his connection with the owners of land about Moeraki, Wamiatemati, and Timaru.

Kaikoura (or Whakatau) and his people commission me to offer to surrender to the Crown the whole of their lands as claimed by them. The payment to be the same as that recently made for Akaroa and about to be made for Kaiapoi, viz., £150. They retain two reserves, viz., of 400 acres at Waipapa old fishery, extending southwards towards Ohau, and one of 600 acres at the Kahutara River, extending northwards towards Waioruaraki; or such other reserves as may be agreed to on a mutual inspection of the country by purchasers and seller. The reserves to be distinctly marked out and surveyed as soon as possible after payment is made. Copies of the Survey and Deed of conveyance to be lodged with the vendors.

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Enquiry at Nelson and Wellington, and search among the records of New Munster, now lodged at Auckland, will prove the value of the facts stated by Whakatau. Assuming them to be correct and that his title is good, at least as far north as Waipapa, where his people actually now have residences, the proposal appears highly advantageous to us, as Government have already so far recognised their title as to buy a portion of Kaikoura Peninsula. I feel bound to recommend that this opportunity be seized upon of satisfying, for the small sum of £150, a claim over not less than 1,200,000 acres of country, and at the same time of dealing honourably and fairly by the ostensibly rightful owners whose property, we have now so long enjoying.

The land offered is all in the Province of Nelson, and as a Survey is now going on in the vicinity of Amuri it would not cost much to detach a Surveyor to mark out the reserves. A reference to the Admiralty Chart of New Zealand will shew its position. The northern portion is very mountainous and in a great degree useless for anything but sheep-farming; but the remainder contains much fine available level land and some of the finest mountain pasture in the Middle Island. The land about the proposed reserves is quite unfitted for the purposes of Europeans. In regard to the quantity it will be a matter of indifference if they retain 2,000 acres at Waipapa which is covered with high precipitous, spurs of the Kaikoura mountains. It should be remarked that the Akaroa and Wairewa Natives, numbering about 90, or less, retain 1,200 acres, an amount which seems barely sufficient for them, as they own some 80 head of stock, and have already applied to rent 400 acres of the pasturage just sold by them to the Crown at Little River (Wairewa). The Kaikoura Maoris also own some cattle and horses.

At my interview with Whakatau to-day, I was for the first time informed that a branch of the Ngaitahu tribe, known as Putini or Arahua, own the country Westwards from the central mountain range of Middle Island to the West Coast. Putini and Arahura, where they reside, are now used indifferently for the West Coast or its inhabitants. These numbered 97, according to Mr. Brunner, in 1847. After the Kaiapoi and Kaikoura lands are purchased, there will, as I understand the Maoris to say, still be left those of the Putini branch of the Ngaitahu, as the progress of the settlers on the Eastern Coast will soon lead to the exploring and occupation of the upper parts of the Putini country, in the same manner, probably, as that of the Kaikoura country; I mean without any recognition of the rights or claims of the Maori occupants. I am of opinion that the Government is called upon to take an early opportunity of setting at rest the last Native claim which I conceive it will then be possible to raise for land in this Island.

I shall make it my study when settling the Kaiapoi claim, on the 4th proximo, to make further enquiry into the title of the West Coast or Putini Maoris.

With reference to purchase moneys, I shall state that the payment for Akaroa of £150 will regulate all the others, for each of the three populations of Kaiapoi, Kaikouras, and Putini, rate themselves as equal in importance to that of Akaroa, and their lands as equal in value; they would therefore; not consent to receive any less sum than £150.

With reference to the general question of Ngaitahu Title, the following observations suggest themselves.

The Rangitane, now almost extinct, appears to have been the original occupants of the northern portion of the Middle Island, and night possibly maintain some kind of claim as far south as Waipapa or Waiau Toa (Clarence river). They seem, however, to have been hemmed in on both sides by Ngatitoa and Ngaitahu, and I am not able in this part of the country to learn much about them. South of Waipapa, however, I am of opinion, as I nave before stated, that the Ngaitahu Title is incontrovertible.

Mr. Commissioner Mantell writes on the 5th September, 1848, at the time the Ngaitahu were first treated with by Government for any of their land within the boundaries of the present Canterbury and Nelson Provinces:—

"The Natives to whom I entrusted this letter are going to Wellington to assert their right to the land between Kaiapoi and Kaikoura, included in the Nelson block sold by Ngatitoa from the account given by this tribe, I am much inclined to doubt the right of the Ngatitoa to sell the land in question: but, I may mention, that at the last payment for the Ngatitoa block the sum apportioned by the Commissioners for the Kaiapoi district was by the Natives allotted to the land between Waimakariri and the Peninsula, and to that from Kaiapoi pa to the Waipara."

Again, the same gentleman writing to Lieutenant-Governor Eyre, from Akaroa, September 21st, 1818, says:—

"At my late conference with the Ngaitahu Natives at Kaiapoi, I found them much excited at the cession of land north of that place by the Ngatitoa. I told them plainly my mission had no reference to the land in question, but that I would willingly forward to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor an abstract of their statement. Notes of their assertions on that occasion: Firstly, that the land was never occupied by the Ngatitoa; secondly, that the Ngaitahu have never ceased to dwell at or near the disputed land; and thirdly, that subsequently to the last inroad of the Ngatitoa the Ngaitahu successfully conducted an expedition against that tribe which has not been avenged."

This evidence seems to me conclusive in favour of Ngaitahu, for Mr. Mantell's knowledge of the Cook's Strait Maoris was so complete, that he could hardly be misled on noted facts in their history, or drawn on to express an opinion where he had not sifted his evidence. The very farthest point to which it seems possible to assert that the original Kaiapoi purchase extended is Waipara (about 10 miles from Kaiapoi). But from thence to Waipapa, or Waiau Toa, the distance is 80 miles, and to Pari-nui-owhiti (the extreme Northern boundary of the Ngaitahu claim) 40 miles more!

In pursuing this enquiry, I am aware that I labour under the disadvantage of inability to correct myself by the records of Mr. Kemp's transactions, the deed of conveyance obtained by him from the Ngaitahu tribe, or by the account of the negotiations between the New nster Government and the page 18Ngatitca. To all these you will be able to refer at Auckland before yon have concluded apon this question, which seems to become narrowed to the enquiry whether Ngatitoa only made an inroad instead of a conquest as far as Kaiapoi, and whether, at the very farthest, they could claim possession South of Waiau Toa or Waipapa.

I have felt it my duty to supply all the information that has reached me on this subject, believing that a primd face case of great injustice done them is already established by the Ngaitahu, and that the Government will no longer allow it to remain unadjudicated upon.

I enclose a sketch of the Coast and Country from Waipapa to Kaiapoi, and beg you, for further explanation, to refer to the Admiralty General Chart of New Zealand.

I have, &c.,

J. W. Hamilton.

Donald McLean, Esq., Chief Commissioner, &c., Native Land Purchase Department, Auckland.