D. McLean, Esq., to J. W. Hamilton, Esq.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th January last, respecting the unsettled claims of Wakatau and his tribe to lands between the White Bluff and the Waiau-ua.
I feel exceedingly obliged for the trouble you have taken in enquiring so fully into the merits of this claim, which from the statement of Wakatau, who I am informed is a very upright and trustworthy Chief, deserve most careful consideration on the part of the Government.
The New Munster records are now being searched with the view of having copies of all documents connected with the purchases at the Middle Island examined, and ascertaining the merits of the claims referred to, and in order that copies may be forwarded as records to your office at Canterbury if you will kindly take charge of them.
My absence at the Northern Settlements has prevented earlier attention to this subject.
I have recommended in my report on the final settlement of the Nelson Land Question, that a sum of £100 should be set apart for the remnant tribe residing at Arahura, together with sufficient reserves for their present and future requirements. Admitting that they are entitled to £50 more, and the Kaikoura Natives to £150, this would only leave £300 to be provided for the final extinction of the claims of the aboriginal tribes to the Provinces of Canterbury and Nelson; a sum which I feel satisfied the Government would not hesitate to pay, on its being fully ascertained that the rights of the Kaikoura tribe are clearly established, in addition to making such reservations for them as may be found requisite.
The Government is placed at great disadvantage in not having an officer stationed at the Middle Island, who should be entrusted with the sifting of such information as would lead to a thorough knowledge of cases like those now adverted to by you; consequently it has been inadvertently led to overlook claims that required greater consideration. I trust, however, that this may now be rectified, and that, in the course of next summer, which will be the best season of the year for collecting the Natives and marking off their reserves, a final adjustment of these outstanding questions may be effected, in order that the Government may not be reproached with over-looking the rights of the aboriginal proprietors of the districts referred to.page 26
I shall, however, not fail to bring the subject of your letter under the consideration of his Excellency's Government.
I have, &c.,
J. W. Hamilton, Esq., &c., &c., &c.