James Mackay, Esq., Junr., to the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, Auckland.
I have the honour to inform you that in accordance with the instructions conveyed in your letter of the 25th October, 1859, I again proceeded to the Arahura for the purpose of extinguishing the title of the Poutini Ngaitahu over that district.
I started from Nelson on the 16th January, 1860, accompanied by three Natives. (Tamati Pirimona, Hori te Korama, and Puaha te Rangi). We travelled by an inland and previously unexplored route to the District of the Mawhera, or Grey, and arrived at the Pah near the mouth of that River on the 2nd March, having endured many hardships and privations on the journey, which took longer than I expected, owing to our progress being retarded by a very serious accident which happened to my knee. I had, however, the consolation of knowing that we had discovered an available route, by which Nelson could be connected with the western portion of its Province.
The injury which I had suffered in the bush did not permit of my travelling southwards to meet the Natives until the 28th March, and had it not been for the opportune presence of Mr. S. Mackley, a gentleman of the medical profession, I should have been much longer in recovering.
I have thought proper to mention the above circumstance, otherwise it might appear that considerable delay had taken place between the time of departure from Nelson, and the commencement of the negotiations for the purchase.
On the 28th March, I left the Pah at Mawhera, and, accompanied by Mr. S. Mackley, and the Chiefs Tarapuhi te Kaukihi, Taetae and Werita Tainui, and the Natives of that place, proceeded southwards with the intention of collecting as many of the Ngaitahu as possible at Poherua (Poera on charts), the residence of the Chief Taetae, for the purpose of discussing the question. It had, however, been previously arranged that the payment was to be made on our return to Mawhera, after all questions relative to the lands to be reserved for the use of the Natives had been finally arranged. We reached Poherua (distant 70 miles) on the 5th April. As there were several Natives residing at Mahitahi, about 50 miles south of Poherua, the presence and assent of whom would be necessary for the proper extinguishment of the Native title, I deemed it expedient to proceed there; and accordingly left Poherua on the 7th April, accompanied by Mr. S. Mackley, Tarapuhi te Kaukihi, and a half-caste boy named Heneri, leaving the large body of Natives there to await our return with those from the south.
There were a few Natives at Jackson's Bay related to Taetae and to the Natives of Mahitahi; but the Chiefs said it was not necessary that these should be present, as the question had all been arranged among themselves in my absence. It was, however, my intention to have proceeded to Jackson's Bay on my arrival at Mahitahi, on the 10th April.
I found most of the Natives there and Tarapuhi then refused to go any further, and expressed his intention of returning to Mawhera, and leaving the question unsettled if I persisted in going there for the purpose of seeing two or three old men.
My knee also, which was not properly healed, threatened to be troublesome from the effects of the journey from Mawhera, so I agreed to return to Poherua as soon as the reserves made at Mahitahi were laid off. The Natives of Mahitahi, and such of those of Jackson's Bay who were present, readily, assented to accompany us back to Poherua.
I wrote a letter to the Natives of Jackson's Bay, which Mr. Mackley offered to take charge of, but the Native guide having met with an accident on their first day's journey, he returned to Mahitahi in time to join us before we started northward. The fixing of the position and extent of the reserves required at Mahitahi having been completed, nearly all the Natives of that place joined my party when we started on the 17th April, those who remained behind authorizing the men, who accompanied me to receive their share of the consideration money.
Having reached Makawiho, distant four miles, I was delayed there all day traversing the River bed and beach, for the purpose of fixing the boundaries of the reserves there situate; myself and assistant then walked on in the evening, and rejoined the remainder of the party who had preceded us to Manakaiau. Having on the next day (18th), laid off a small reserve at that place, we proceeded on our journey towards Poherua, selecting small reserves at various places on the way, but as those were all to a certain extent defined by rivers, or other natural features, little required doing in the way of surveying, except taking the bearings of the rivers and traversing the beach frontages.
We arrived at Poherua late on the evening of the 20th April.
On the 21st the land question was recommenced, I found the Natives still desirous as on the former occasion to retain all the land intervening the Rivers Mawhera and Kotukuwhakaho, and the River Hokitika, comprising some 200, 000 acres of valuable country, unless they received £300 in compensation for their claims to the whole district extending from Kaurangi point to Piopiotai (Milford Haven), and larger reserves than had on my first visit been offered to them (800 acres was offered at that time), After some days spent in discussing the question, and on my having informed them of the very liberal provision in that respect ordered by His Excellency the Governor, they agreed, on the 26th April, 1860, to accept the sum of £300, as compensation for the whole of their claims to land in the Arahura or Poutini districts, excepting over such portions as were reserved for their own use or benefit.
It was specially stipulated that a very large reserve should be made at the River Arahura or Brunner, and that the reserves should be taken in a strip up each side of the river with a view of giving them a right to its bed, from which is obtained the highly prized greenstone, which gives the name Wahi Pounamu,—place of greenstone,—to the Middle Island, it was also arranged that there should be a reserve or reserves of 1000 acres at the Mawhera or Grey, which was assented to, the locality to be fixed on our arrival there, and previous to the payment being made.
The total extent of the reserves made for individual allotment was 6724 acres, which is 724 acres page 41in excess of the quantity authorized by His Excellency the Governor, the reason of this is that two of the Chiefs (Hakiaha and Koeti) were jealous of the three superior Chiefs, Tarapuhi te Kaukihi, Taetae, and Werita Tainui having awarded to them 500 acres each according to instructions, and it was found necessary to effect a compromise by giving them 250 acres each instead of 100 acres as previously intended.
Puaha te Rangi also demanded compensation for the claims of the Ngatihapa to lands at the Kawatiri or Buller districts, and as Tarapuhi te Kaukihi, and the majority of the Natives admitted the justice of these claims, and pressed me to award compensation for them, it was deemed expedient to permit Puaha te Rangi on behalf of himself and a few other Ngatihapa Natives to participate in the payment, and it was arranged that some reserves should be allotted to them in the neighbourhood of the River Buller, which arrangement will I trust meet with the sanction and approval of His Excellency the Governor, on the ground that having thus compensated the Ngatihapa claimants, no after claim or future demand can be made by that tribe.
This question being thus arranged it remained to complete the selection and defining of the various reserves for individual allotment.
These in the neighbourhood of Poherua and Waitangi having been completed, I left Poherua on the 30th of April; all the Natives with the exception of Taetae and his niece, both of whom were seriously ill, (since dead) accompanying me, I mention the fact of Taetae remaining as it may appear strange that the name of so influential a man is not attached to the Deed of Conveyance. He, however, in the presence of the whole of the Natives agreed to receive £25 for all his claims to the land, and also authorized Kerei of Mahitahi to receive that amount for him. We arrived at the Pah at Mawhera on the 11th May, having been occupied till then in laying off reserves for individual allotment at some of the intermediate places. From that date until the 21st I was either engaged in laying out the reserves made at the Grey, or employed in drawing plans of those which had been marked off.
On the 17th May, a dispute arose as to the site of a reserve of 500 acres for individual allotment at the Mawhera or Grey, I wishing the Natives to select it up the river, but they objected to do so preferring to have it near the landing place. As this spot had always been their home, and on the hill above it in a cave repose the remains of Tuhura and others of their ancestors; nothing could move them to give up this place, which I much regretted, as it enables them to retain the best landing place. I however found that further argument would have endangered the whole arrangement entered into at Poherua, on the 26th April, and therefore deemed it politic to acquiesce in their demand. It may be imagined from the position of this reserve that it would be a suitable site for a town, but the whole flat portion of it is liable to be flooded, of which we had practical demonstration by finding on our return from the south that several of the houses at the Pah had been carried away by a flood which took place in our absence.
The most eligible site for a town on the Southern or Canterbury side of the River, is near to the head of the lagoon known as Nga Moana Erua, the ground there being dry. This place is also easily reached by water from the harbour of the Grey, in fact the lagoon forms the best harbour, and no difficulty exists to prevent the formation of a road from Teramakau to this site.
The best site for a township is on the Northern or Nelson side of the River, the land being dry and not subject to floods.
On the 21st May, 1860, the Ngaitahu Title was completely extinguished over all the portion of the West Coast district lying between Kaurangi Point in the Province of Nelson, and Piopiotai, or Milford Haven, in the Province of Otago, and bounded inland by the watershed range of the East and West Coast of the Middle Island, the reserves mentioned in Schedules A and B being the only portions excepted from sale.
The Natives present executed it on behalf of themselves, their relatives and descendants to Her Majesty which I do myself the honour to enclose herewith, together with the several schedules and maps of reserves thereto attached.
As previously stated, reserves for individual allotment amounting in the whole to 6724 acres have been set aside.
Reserves amounting in the aggregate to 3500 acres have also been made for the benefit of the aboriginal inhabitants of the West Coast, and for the promotion of social, moral, and religious objects among them.
The last mentioned reserves have been conveyed to Her Majesty, subject to the provisions of the New Zealand Native Reserves Act, 1856; the Deed of Conveyance being enclosed herewith, together with a report thereon in accordance with clause 17 of that Act. According to the instructions received by me, 4000 acres should have been reserved for these purposes, but having exceeded by some 724 acres the quan tity authorized for individual allotment, I hesitated in setting aside more than 3500 acres for this object thinking it probable that the Natives themselves, when they became more civilized, will convey to Her Majesty, subject to that Act, certain portions of the land now set apart for their use and occupation.
A General Government Reserve of 2000 acres was selected at Totara bush, Mawhera valley, which it is intended to dispose of hereafter for the purpose of providing a fund for defraying the expenses of surveying the Native reserves situated in the different districts of the West Coast.
The Natives are not sufficiently enlightened for a sub-division of the reserves to be now effected, and it was also impossible for me in every case to ascertain the number of persons interested in each reserve, as even where there were individual holders of large tracts of country, they had often permitted their relatives to reside on the land and cultivate it; and as most of the reserves made are on the sites of present or abandoned cultivations, it is impossible to make the division without bestowing more time on it than was at my disposal. I have however prepared a schedule showing the number of acres to which each individual is entitled, and I am in correspondence with the Natives about the divisions (not sub-divisions), which they promised to make of the reserves. It is therefore my intention to retain this schedule for the present, as I hope to be able to make it tolerably complete by embodying in it the page 42information already in my possession, and that which I shortly expect to obtain from the Natives themselves.
The resident Natives have been furnished with plans showing the various reserves similar to those now forwarded to the Government, and copies of the same are lying at this office for transmission to the Superintendents of Nelson and Canterbury, after my receipt of His Excellency's approval of the purchase.
The reserves situated at Jackson's Bay and Paringa, have not been defined on the ground; no difficulty will however be experienced in doing this at any future time as the locality and extent of these are distinctly described in Schedule A.
Being only a self-taught Surveyor, it is possible some inaccuracies may be found in the maps, but as the Natives know the position and boundaries of the reserves, and in most cases there is at least one natural boundary to them, it is not probable that any very great difficulty will be found in adapting them to positions to be determined by future and more accurate surveys.
It may be as well to observe that Kerei and Kinihe te Kao of Mahitahi, assisted me in all the traversing, and in case of dispute they will be the most capable to point out the boundaries of the reserves.
It is to be hoped that now the Native Title over the West Coast districts has been extinguished, and that as available "gold and coal-fields" have been discovered there, it may attract a population to its long neglected valleys, and add its quota to the general wealth of the Colony. Having now paid three visits to that district (one in a private and two in a public capacity), and having explored many comparatively unknown portions of it, I have much pleasure in stating that it deserves a better character than has hitherto been accorded to it.
In conclusion, I would observe that if His Excellency's Government would feel any interest in a report on that district, I shall feel much pleasure in affording such information as it may be in my power to render.
I have, &c.,
James Mackay, Junr.,
Assistant Native Secretary.