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

Crown Cases

Crown Cases.

The first of these cases called on was that in which Mikaera Turangatahi and Teoti Pita laid claim to the island of Ake Ake, at the mouth of the Waimakariri.

Mr. Wynn Williams opposed the claim on the part of the Crown.

Mikaera Turangatahi deposed: I belong to the Ngaitahu tribe. This land is at the mouth of the Waimakariri. There is a channel on each side; the land is in the middle. The tide ebbs and flows there; when it flows, the water is salt, and when it ebbs it is fresh. I believe there are 60 acres in the Island. There is a white man living on it. He owns both sides of the Waimakariri. The white man's house is on this land, and it is in cultivation. I don't know the white man's name; the Maoris call him Ringi. I believe that this land has never been sold by the Natives to the Government.

Cross-examined by Mr. Williams: I produce no plan of the land to-day. I do not recollect any deed being made on the 12th June, 1848, ceding the property to Mr. William Wakefield. The first person who brought this land was Mr. Kemp, then Mr. Mantell, and then Mr. Wakefield. I didn't understand the selling of land at the time, and I did not get up to make a claim to the land when it was sold.

Mr. Williams put in a deed ceding the land in question to Mr. Wm. Wakefield. A receipt for the balance of the purchase money was given in 1849. The island in question was included in the Deed of Cession.

Cross examination continued: The island is in the town.

Mr. Williams took objection to the claim, on the ground that claimant produced no plans of the land he laid claim to, as was required by the 25th Section of the Act. The claimant was, therefore, out of the Court. The land had been conveyed by Crown grant long ago, and the Chief Surveyor (Mr. Davie) could prove that it had been sold by the Crown. The Crown was altogether unprepared to answer the claims of Natives, as they produced no plans of the lands they laid claim to. It was, therefore, impossible to refer to the Chief Surveyor. With regard to the Christchurch claims, for instance, it was well known that the land had been conveyed to different parties by the Government, and therefore the claims of the Natives to any portion of the city were entirely frivolous. He had, therefore, to apply to the Court that the claimants should be called one by one, and asked to produce plans of their claims. If they could not produce plans, then according to the Act their claims must be dismissed; at all events, if the Natives chose to fight out their claims, it should be made known to them that in the event of their losing, they must pay the costs.

The Ake Ake claim was adjourned until next day, to enable the Crown grant being sought for. The Court dismissed a case in which the claimant said he would not pay the costs if judgment page 188were given against him. The next case was that in which Wikitoria claimed the timber off Te Motu-ai-karehu, Port Cooper

Mr. Williams said that the land was conveyed by the Maori chiefs by a Deed of Cession to the Government, and this was stated by Mr. Mantell, who was at that time Native Commissioner, in his report of 1849. That gentleman, however, gave the Natives permission to take the timber off the land. The Deed of Cession had been lost, and knowing that fact the Natives now came, not only to claim the timber, but the land. The Crown did not dispute their claim to the timber.

The Chief Judge dismissed the claim, on the ground that the Court had no jurisdiction over timber

Claim of Wikitoria, Pita Mutu, and others to lands in Purau, Port Cooper.

Wikitoria, deposed: I live at Kaiapoi. This land was reserved by Mr. Mantell. It belongs to us.

The Court here adjourned for an hour, and on re-assembling the Purau case was resumed.

Pita Mutu, sworn, deposed: I live at Kaiapoi. I know the Purau reserve. Wikitoria, myself, and others [named them] nave a claim to it. I don't know anyone who objects to my claim. The persons I have mentioned live at Kaiapoi and Port Cooper.

The Chief Judge inquired, (through Mr. Maxwell) if any Natives in Court objected to Wikitoria and Pita Mutu's claim.

Several Natives at once replied in the affirmative. They laid claim to the land in question through their ancestry. They admitted that it was a reserve, but the persons to whom it was made were all dead. Those who now made a claim to the reserve were "new" people as well as themselves. It was Mr. Mantell who made the reserve.

The Chief Judge inquired if this claim was not a part of the great Port Levy dispute, which he had heard of.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Cowlishaw (both of whom are concerned in it) replied in the negative. Pita Mutu, in reply to the Court, agreed that the disputants had a claim, but the reserve was so small that there would not be room to place them all upon it.

The Chief Judge inquired what the size of the reserve was.

Mr. Cyrus Davie replied that it comprised about ten acres.

The Chief Judge (addressing Mr. Mackay) said it seemed to him that this was a case in which the agency of the Government might do something out of Court.

Mr. Mackay said he could arrange the case out of doors, if the Court allowed him to do so.

The Chief Judge said he would have the case called on before the close of the session. In the meantime, Mr. Mackay could endeavour to effect a settlement—of course admitting those parties only who had appeared that day in respect to the claim.

Claim of Himiona Pohatu To Maruia, Ko Manuoka.

The claimant deposed: I live at Kaiapoi. This land is on the boundary of the Nelson Province. I have not seen the land; I have only heard of it. Some of the Maoris on the West Coast have sold it, but I have received none of the purchase money. I was not present at the time the land was sold. I heard there was a deed signed. Perhaps Mr. Mackay knows something about it.

Mr. Williams said be could produce the deed.

Cross examined by Mr. Williams: A long time elapsed before I heard of the sale.

By the Court: It is a thought of my own that it is right for any Native who has not received any money for land sold to Government, to put in his claim to have it adjudicated upon.

Mr. Mackay informed the Court that the purchase of the land in question was made by his cousin, Mr. James Mackay, in 1860.

Mr. Davie produced a plan of the land conveyed to the Crown.

Cross-examination resumed: I was living at Kaiapoi at the time Mr. Mackay purchased this land from the West Coast Natives. We heard Mr. Mackay was going to extinguish the claim to this land by the Natives, and we expressed a wish to go with him to the West Coast. He said we would get no money; that the only persons who would get money were Paora Tau and his tribe. I did not hear that Mr. Mackay asked them to go over with him to the West Coast and that the Kaiapoi Natives refused. If Mr. Mackay had invited me to go, I would have gone, but not without invitation. I was not present at the time Mr. Mackay talked to the Natives at Kaiapoi. I am a chief of that land, and why should Mr. Mackay speak to Paora Tau and not to me? Mr. Mackay spoke to Paora Tau alone, at Kaiapoi. The West Coast Natives have a claim to a portion of the land at Kaiapoi. If they brought a claim into this Court for their share of Kaiapoi, I would not object. I don't know what portion of this land was paid for.

The Chief Judge said that this land had been proved to be included in a deed to the Crown. The Court had no jurisdiction, and the claim must therefore be dismissed. At the same time, the Natives must understand that this Court was quite distinct from the Government of the Colony; and if they thought that an injustice had been done, they could write to the Government and ask for some inquiry to be made.

The claim was dismissed.

Mr. Williams paid that the other cases on the list, in which the land had been conveyed by Crown grant, should be dismissed, or the claimants be prepared to pay the costs if they disputed the opposition of the Government.

The claim of Hakopa Te Ata otu to Tawera, Katapere (Canterbury) was dismissed.

A great many Natives left the Hall at this stage of the proceedings.

Mr. Williams thought that perhaps the best course to pursue, to prevent ill-feeling, would be to give leave to claimants to withdraw their claims; for it was clear that the Court had no jurisdiction where land had been conveyed by Crown grant.

The Chief Judge said he would call no more of the cases that day, but would leave it to Mr. Mackay to inform the claimants of their position.