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

[No. 7. — Copy of letter from Walter Buller, Esq., to Acting Native Secretary, Auckland.]

page 136

No. 7.

Copy of letter from Walter Buller, Esq., to Acting Native Secretary, Auckland.

Christchurch, December 16th, 1861.


I had the honour to forward to your office, in March, 1860, a carefully prepared Census of the Maori population of this Province (exclusive of the settlements on the West Coast).

As a period of nearly two years has elapsed since that enumeration was made, it appears to me that it would be interesting, as well as useful, for the purposes of comparison, to ascertain the present numerical status of the same people; and it seemed the more opportune just now as the Europeans statistics called for by the Government will he made up to the end of the current month.

I have accordingly collected the necessary information, a detailed statement of which I forward herewith, together with a tabular summary of the population, arranged under the same divisions as were adopted in my former return.

It will he highly gratifying to the Government to learn that, during the comparatively short period that has intervened, there has been a positive increase in the population, to the number of 61 persons.

This excess is not attributable to any influx from the other Provinces; on the contrary, the number of foreign Maoris has been slightly reduced, the relative numbers being 42 and 41; nor, so far as I can ascertain, has there been any accession from the West Coast Settlements.

Not only is the population numerically improved, but I think it can be shown that it is, at the same time, recovering gradually from that abnormal condition which it represented under my former enumeration.

According to an established natural law, a population in a normal condition, so long as it is not affected by overbearing external influences (such as emigration, immigration, wars, &c), will contain an excess of females; under these circumstances, it will, according to Malthus, increase in a geometrical progressive of such a nature as to double itself every 25 years; while, on the other hand, an inverse proportion of sexes is a sure indication of an abnormal or unhealthy condition, and must inevitably, unless the operating causes be removed, issue in the gradual decline, and ultimate extinction of the race.

Tested by this rule, let us now examine comparatively the indications afforded by these returns.

The Census of March, 1860. produced the following totals:—

Males under 14 58
Females " 47
Males above 14 210
Females " 165
Total 480

Exhibiting a large excess of males, of adults 45, and of non-adults 11.

The totals of the present Census are:—

Males under 14 74
Females " 26
Males above 14 236
Females " 169
Total 541

Before proceeding to institute a comparison, it is only fair to premise that a calculation of this kind loses much of its value from some unavoidable uncertainty in the data upon which it rests. That is to say, the assignment of individuals of a certain age to either column is often entirely at the caprice of the Native informant, and at best, conjectural with the enumerator, is that strict accurracy in this particular is next to impossible. It is thus that 30 of those appearing as under 14 in the former Census, are returned now as having passed that age.

If we reckon this number as taken from the "male" and "female" columns in an equal proportion, we arrive at the following result:—

Increase since March, 1860.
Males 31
Females 30
Total 61

Assuming this approximate correctness of the relative numbers, as they thus stand, it will be seen that, while the males are still in excess, the disproportion, so far as regards the additional number of females, is considerably diminished; whence it may be argued, that in course of time the population would recover its proper proportion of sexes, and thereafter continue to increase in the ordinary progressive ratio.

Be that as it may, we still have the very encouraging fact of an actual increase in the total population (during a period of 21 months), of nearly 16 per cent. on the original number.

The subject is a suggestive one, and would, I think, supply matter for an interesting and instructive article in the Maori Intelligencer.

page 137

The Canterbury Natives have not allowed themselves to be agitated by intestine commotion, while they have devoted more attention to industrial pursuits and to social advancement, than the tribes at the north, and this has doubtless contributed in no small degree to the above result. I have forwarded a copy of the inclosed Return to the Registrar-General, and another (by request) to the Provincial Government here.

I have, &c.,

Walter Buller.

Acting Native Secretary, Auckland.

Enclosure in No. 7.

Tabular summary of the Maori population of the Province of Canterbury, New Zealand (exclusive of the West Coast Settlements).
Under 14. Above 14. Totals.
Places of Abode. True. Male. Female. Male. Female. Male. Female. Grand Total.
1 Kaiapoi Ngaitahu 22 20 68 50 90 70 160
" Foreign 2 9 11 11
2 Rapaki Ngaitahu 7 3 20 16 27 19 46
3 Purau Ngaitahu 3 2 3 2 5
4 Kokorarata (Port Levy) Ngaitahu 5 6 26 22 31 28 59
" Foreign 9 2 9 2 11
5 Wainui Ngaitahu 3 10 8 10 11 21
" Foreign 4 4 4
6 Onuku Ngaitahu 3 5 11 10 14 15 29
" Foreign 2 2 2
7 Wairewa Ngaitahu 11 11 14 15 25 26 51
" Foreign 6 1 6 1 7
8 Taumutu Ngaitahu 11 6 10 9 21 15 36
9 Arowhenua Ngaitahu 5 4 28 22 33 26 59
10 Waimatemate Ngaitahu 7 4 13 10 20 14 34
" Foreign 1 3 2 4 2 6
Grand Totals 74 62 236 169 310 231 541

Walter Buller.

Christchurch, 16th December, 1861.