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

[Correspondence Between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and W. B. D. Mantell, Esq.]

page 81

Correspondence Between the Secretary of State for
the Colonies and W. B. D. Mantell, Esq.


No. of series. Date. Writer. To Whom Addressed. Subject.
1 Sept. 28, 1856 The Secretary of State His Excellency the Governor Enclosing copies of correspondence between Mr. Mantell and his Department touching the Ngaitahu tribe, and asking for explanation of facts connected with the case.
2 July 5, 1856 Walter Mantell, Esq. The Secretary of State Reporting the non-fulfilment by the Colonial Government of certain promises made by him in their name to the Ngaitahu tribe.
3 Aug. 17, 1854 Andrew Sinclair, Esq. Commissioner Crown Lands, Otago Enclosure to the above, regretting the inability of the Government to provide school books.
4 July 21, 1856 J. Ball, Esq. W. Mantell, Esq. Asking for information on doubtful points in former letter, and declining confirmation of appointment.
5 July 31, 1856 W. Mantell, Esq. Under Secretary Merivale Giving information, and suggesting the adjustment of the matter by Mr. Justice Martin.
6 July 31, 1856 Stating his intention of not applying for more salary.
7 Aug. 1, 1856 Giving a further account of his relations with the Ngaitahu.
8 Aug. 11, 1856 Herman Merivale, Esq. W. Mantell, Esq. Informing him that no conclusion can be arrived at in London until reference has been made to Local Government.
9 Aug. 12, 1856 W. Mantell, Esq. H. Merivale, Esq. Explanatory of parts of former correspondence.
10 Aug. 18, 1856 The Secretary of State Resigning his commission.
11 Sept. 3, 1856 F. F. Elliott, Esq. W. Mantell, Esq. Acknowledging above, and explaining certain expressions in a former letter.
12 Jan. 26, 1857 D. M'Lean, Esq. His Excellency the Governor Memorandum on the correspondence between the Right Hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies and W. Mantell, Esq.

No. 1.
The Secretary of State, to Governor Gore Brown.

Downing-street, September 28th, 1856.


With reference to my despatch, No. 52, of the 19th of June last, I transmit to you herewith for your information copies of a further correspondence which has passed between Mr. Walter Mantell and this department, in regard to the performance of his duties as Crown Lands Commissioner for the Province of Otago, and the arrangements concluded by him in that capacity for the cession by the Ngaitahu tribe to the Local Government of certain portions of the lands belonging to them in the Middle Island.

You will observe that Mr. Mantell has tendered the resignation of his appointment, which has been accepted by me.

The irregular and unsatisfactory manner in which the statements made by Mr. Mantell have reached me, make it quite impossible for me to do more than to request that you will afford to me such an explanation of the facts connected with the original agreement with these Natives, and the subsequent acts of the Colonial Government in their regard, as you can afford.

I have full confidence in your disposition to carry into full effect any engagements deliberately entered into between the Colonial Executive and the Natives.

I have, &c.,

W. Larouchere.

Governor Gore Brown.

page 82

No. 2.
Walter Mantell, Esq., to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, &c., &c.

London, July 5th, 1856.


I do myself the honour of laying before you the following statement, relative to the non-fulfilment by Her Majesty's Colonial Government, of the promises which I was authorized to make to the Ngaitahu Natives in order to induce them to cede certain of their lands to Her Majesty in return for an almost nominal money payment, and by their faith in which promises lands were obtained by me for the Crown.

In first bringing the subject before you I will endeavour to state the case as briefly as possible, ready, however, and desirous to afford such further information as may be deemed necessary.

Since August, 1848, I have been employed as Commissioner for the acquisition for the Crown of Native Lands in the Middle Island of New Zealand—(Provinces of Canterbury and Otago.)

The enclosed map shows the extent so acquired by me.

By promise of more valuable recompense in schools, in hospitals for their sick, and in constant solicitude for their welfare and general protection on the part of the Imperial Government, I procured the cession of these lands for small cash payments.

The Colonial Government has neglected to fulfil these promises, and appears to wish to devolve the responsibility on the General Assembly.

This would not be just, and is fortunately impossible. It may be true, that the Crown lands have been ceded to that body, or even to the Provincial Governments, but the promises of the Crown to the Natives can now only be fulfilled by the Imperial Government, it not having retained sufficient influence in the Legislature of the Colony to ensure due provision being made by its means for the welfare of the Natives. The Natives are now utterly unrepresented in the General Assembly; they are, in respect of their original lands, denied the franchise which they would exercise with at least equal judgment with the whites, while among the latter the suffrage is practically universal.

I have said that the Government has neglected to fulfil its promises to the Ngaitahu; I am aware that to build and endow schools in the Province of Otago, £200 were given, and £50 for hospital expenses; such inadequate sums as these do not effect my statement.

No officer is charged to look after the interests of the southern tribes; indeed, the duties of the only Native Department (excepting the Nominal Department of Native Secretary), maintained in the Islands (the Native Land Purchase Department), consisting principally in the acquisition of Maori lands at the lowest possible price, are in practice, as I am prepared to show, highly prejudicial to the best interests of the Natives.

Nor can the Ngaitahu rely on the Bench of Magistrates for protection when so strange additions are made to the Commission of the Peace by Her Majesty's representative, that I almost hesitate to record them; one instance may be mentioned as not likely to come to your knowledge from other sources.

A man under heavy sureties to keep the peace for a severe assault on a clergyman, was, while so under bond, although ignorant and illiterate, and notorious for his violent conduct, gazetted as a magistrate.

With reference to the promised schools, I enclose the reply of the Governor to an application on behalf of the only Native school in the South; a school not maintained by the Government, but by a mission society in Germany, and the head of which, small as are the means at his disposal, has done, and is still doing wonders for the good of the Southern Natives.

In the transfer to the local Legislature of the land in respect of which the unfulfilled promises were made, the Natives were not a consenting party, it is therefore not in the power of the Government to declare that having divested itself of those lands the former owners must look to the present managers for the completion of the contract. Nor has the contract been an unprofitable one to the Europeans.

I have myself acquired from the Natives about 30,000,000 acres, which could not have been worth less than 2,000,000 sterling.

For this the Natives received about £5,000, and the repudiated promises which form the subject of this letter. This sum has long since been repaid to the Treasury by sales and rents of a minute fraction of the 16,000,000 acres, under my management as Commissioner of Crown Lands.

The Natives' proportion of 15 per cent. on all proceeds of land sales, if it have been set apart from those of southern sales, has been misapplied. On this account at least £5,000 seem to have been due in 1854, but barely a tenth of this amount has been allotted to the Ngaitahu although they have, through my agency ceded to Her Majesty a far larger extent of land than has ever been or will ever be so ceded by all other tribes together.

I am aware that there exists in the Colony an opinion that, if this and similar questions can be shelved for a period the Natives will by their extinction relieve the Government from the fulfilment of its engagements.

But, apart from such aids to extermination as peculiarities in Government may hereafter afford, I rejoice to see no grounds for this opinion.

Were such a result probable, or even certain, I cannot perceive the honour or the justice of adopting on such a hope, such a mode of evading the honest fulfilment of the terms of a bargain.

While such neglect is shown towards tribes numerically weak, the policy of Government towards those strong enough to be feared is very different.

In short the contemptuous indifference evinced toward the unquestionable rights of those who are powerless is more than counterbalanced by the imbecile timidity which marks the conduct of the authorities toward the powerful.

The Ngaitahu and Ngatimamoe are perhaps the only objects of the former policy, and I trust that page 83Her Majesty's Government will take such steps as will relieve me from the painful position of having been the channel of promises, which have been at least forgotten, and secure my Native clients in the possession of the advantages which have been so long withheld from them.

It is at the request of the Chief and subordinate Chiefs of the united tribes that I make this application to you, for in the Local Government they have long ceased to repose confidence.

It is fortunately a subject on which reference to the Colony is quite unnecessary.

The negotiations have been conducted and concluded by me, to whom also all Ngaitahu questions were invariably referred and in my absence there is not an officer of the Government competent to give an opinion on matters so vitally affecting the Ngaitahu tribes.

I have striven to avoid details but am not unprepared to illustrate what I have said by facts which have come under my own observation.

I have not even referred to the purchase of Ngaitahu lands from stronger tribes, nor to many other points connected with the subject of this communication.

I regret that your refusal to grant me an interview should have imposed on me the painful duty of forwarding this communication.

I have, &c.,

Walter Mantell,
Commissioner for the extinguishment of Native claims.

Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, &c., &c.,

No. 3.
Andrew Sinclair, Esq., to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Otago.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Auckland. August 17th, 1854.


With reference to your letter of the 28th ultimo, enclosing an application from the Rev. I. F. H. Wohlers for a supply of books for the use of the school under his charge, I have the honour, by direction of His Excellency, the Officer administering the Government, to request you will inform the reverend gentleman, that His Excellency regrets he has no books at his disposal with which to supply him, neither has he any available means for their purchase.

I have, &c.,

Andrew Sinclair,
Colonial Secretary.

The Commissioner of Crown Lands, Otago.

No. 4.
J. Ball, Esq., to W. Mantell, Esq.

Downing-street, July 21st, 1856.


I am directed by Mr. Secretary Labouchore to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th instant, charging the Colonial authorities of New Zealand with having failed to realize certain promises which, in your official capacity, you had made to the Ngaitahu Natives, and in reliance on which, those Natives had ceded to you, from time to time, some lands in the Middle Island, for small cash payments.

It need scarcely be observed that this is a serious imputation against the Local Government, and before Mr. Labouchere can decide upon making any reference to them on the subject, he requests you will inform him:—

1st.What authority you received, and from whom, to make those promises.
2nd.Whether the statements, which you have now urged, were ever brought by you officially under the notice of the Local Government.

Mr. Labouchere has also received your letter of the 4th instant, renewing your application to be confirmed in the appointment of Commissioner of Crown lands for the Province of Otago; and I am to acquaint you in reply that it is impossible to accede to such a request, until the circumstances of your case, including the matters raised by your letter of the 5th, have been more fully considered.

I have, &c.,

J. Ball.

W. Mantell, Esq.

No. 5.
Walter Mantell, Esq., to Under Secretary Merivale.

London, July 31st 1856.


With much regret I perceive that you have misconceived the object of the letter which I had the honour to address to you on the 5th ultimo, relative to the claims of the Middle Island tribes.

Desiring no compensation or satisfaction for any injustice to which I may personally have been subjected by Her Majesty's Representatives in New Zealand, I should not, did I wish to prefer charges against the Local Government, address them to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.

But in requesting your attention to the equitable claims of Natives, it was, I submit, not page 84unnecessary to advert to the conduct of the Government toward them, and to show how small was the prospect that a sufficient remedy could be obtained from that quarter without express instructions from a higher authority.

If I have failed to make this clear to you, I must, however reluctantly, resume the irksome task of recording the peculiarities of the administration of the late Government of the Colony.

But if, on the contrary, I have already said more than was necessary to your conviction, I beg to withdraw whatever may seem unrequired by the object I have now in view, on the understanding that such withdrawal is not in the least degree to be regarded as an admission of incorrectness in the statements I have made.

1.In answer to the first question, to which a reply was required by the Right Honorable Mr. Secretary Labouchere, I have the honour to inform you,

That, in my written instructions, no specific authority is given, and that it was not only unnecessary, but even inexpedient, that such specific authority should have been inserted, is, I conceive, sufficiently clear.

So long as a feeling of confidence in the Government could be maintained in the Natives' minds without written stipulations of the kind referred to, it seemed to me, and I had no reason to believe that my immediate superiors differed from me on the point, that the record in those documents of such class provision for the aboriginal race, and the legal right to it which such record would, when acted upon, confer, might tend to perpetuate a distinction between the races, which, at the time that these purchases of land were made, by me it seemed to be the desire of the Imperial Government to abrogate.

Had I myself been justified in entertaining any fear that the Government would fail in fulfiling promises (verbally given on authority, only verbal for reasons which I considered valid), I should not have hesitated to insert them in the text of those Deeds of Cession which I drew. But Sir George Grey, during whose Government all of my purchases were made, seldom, to the best of my recollection, refused any reasonable request on behalf of these Natives, nor had I ground for believing that his successor would be leas just.

I have received three sets of instructions to purchase lands, of which the last two refer for details to the first which contains nothing more definite on the point now under comment than directions to induce the Natives to accede to my views, or to get, or win their consent.

But Lieutenant-Governor Eyre, who directed those (the first) instructions to be written, impressed upon me the propriety of placing before the Natives the prospect of the great future advantages which the cession of their lands would bring them in schools, hospitals, and the paternal care of Her Majesty's Government, and, as I have before said, I found these promises of great use in my endeavours to break down their strong and most justifiable opposition to my first commission, and in facilitating the acquisition of my later purchases, adding to the Crown lands an area nearly as large as England.

I am not unaware of the comparative facility with which the majority of the natives might be induced to abandon all hope of these prospective advantages, especially as the long time which has elapsed without their realization has probably nearly obliterated the rememberance of that hope, but I much doubt whether any officer of the Land Purchase Department would willingly undertake a duty of this kind.

Tho Ngaitahu right in this matter, though perhaps not according to our law a legal one, cannot I conceive be denied to exist.

2.In reply to your second question, I have the honour to state that I brought the subject under the notice of Colonel Wynyard, at Auckland, on the 19th May, 1855, at an interview which His Excellency accorded to enable me to avoid a correspondence, and at which, by his direction, the Native Secretary was present.

On this occasion I brought under Colonel Wynyard's notice many facts with which I have not troubled you. His Excellency gave to my remarks the most polite attention, but none but the most unsatisfactory replies. I, therefore, in the belief that I should there find both inclination and power to aid my Maori friends, resolved to bring the main question before the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

I shall do myself the honour of addressing to you a separate communication relative to the last paragraph of your letter of the 21st instant.

It only remains for me to advert to that portion of it in which you speak of a reference to the local authorities, and as those authorities will, before your reference can be made, consist of persons totally different from those whose proceedings in this matter it has been my duty to note, to suggest a reference to the highest local authority, to which I sincerely trust you will see no objection.

As this claim is, so for as I am capable of judging, of so purely equitable a nature that it could never be brought into a court of law, it has occurred to me that possibly, if requested by you to do so, His Honor Mr. Justice Martin might undertake the adjustment of the matter.

Her Majesty's Government would by the adoption of this course obtain the beat possible opinion, and I should feel that I bad conscientiously discharged my duty to the Ngaitahu in leaving their cause to the decision of a gentleman so universally and deservedly respected.

I have, &c.,

Walter Mantell.

Under Secretary Merivale.

No. 6.
Walter Mantell, Esq., to Under Secretary Merivale.

London, July 31st, 1856.


In your letter of the 21st instant, which I have had the honour to acknowledge in a separate page 85communication, you inform me it is impossible to accede to my request for confirmation in me appointment of Commissioner of Crown Lands, until the circumstances of my case, including thy Native question, submitted to you on the 5th instant, have been more fully considered.

I hate the honour, in reply, to state for the information of the Right Honorable Mr. Secretary Labouchere, that I can have no desire to press the consideration of my request, so long as the success of my application on behalf of the Ngaitahu is doubtful, and that in the meantime I shall not apply to the Colonial Agent for salary.

With reference to the subject of my former correspondence, I would do myself the honour of suggesting that much valuable and relevant information might be obtained from the Hon. E. H. W. Bellairs, M.L.C., who is, I believe, now in London.

I have, &c.,

Walter Mantell.

Under Secretary Merivale.

No. 7.
Walter Mantell, Esq., to Under Secretary Merivale.

London, August 1st, 1856.


I at last find myself compelled, in order that you may more fully appreciate my position and sense of responsibility toward the Ngaitahu Natives, to place before you two points connected with my relations with them, which I hoped it would not be necessary for me to communicate to you.

1.That in my last purchase from them, finding that further delay would greatly increase the difficulty of acquisition, and enhance the money price, I concluded the negotiations on my own responsibility, and provided the necessary funds. That, had I not done this, the Natives, if they had consented to a renewal of the negotiations, would have insisted on, and obtained a far higher sum.

For the loss of this they have, therefore, to blame my zeal for the public service, and have consequently a right to expect from me at least equal zeal for their interests, and my desire to be able to look back without regret on proceeding which the last Governor of the Colony so highly commended, may thus cause me to urge their claims with a pertinacity, perhaps, as unusual in the Department as those proceedings themselves were.

2.That after the interview with Colonel Wynyard, I endeavoured to avert immediate want of the necessary books by sending to the Rev. Mr. Wohlers' school, as well as to individual Natives, a supply which was almost doubled by the kind interest and liberality of Mr. Justice Martin, and the Rev. Mr. Kissling; and that I was urged, in spite of my limited means, to incur this expense, partly indeed by a desire for the advancement of the Natives, but more by a sense of the anomalous position of almost personal liability, in which I, as the former negotiator for their lands, was placed by the peculiar policy of Her Majesty's representatives in the Colony.

I have, &c.,

Walter Mantell.

Under Secretary Merivale.

No. 8.
H. Merivale, Esq., to W. Mantell, Esq.

Downing-street, August 11th, 1856.


I am directed by Mr. Secretary Labouchere to acknowledge your three letters, just received, of the 31st ultimo, and first of this month, on the subject of the transaction with the Ngaitahu Natives, and of your own position with reference to them, and to answer them together, as the subjects are necessarily connected.

2.It is quite impossible for Mr. Labouchere to discuss the questions raised as to these Natives, or even to form any distinct view of the position of Her Majesty's Government in relation to them, unless prior reference ho had to the Local Government; you appear to misconceive the functions of this Department in endeavouring to obtain its judgment without that reference, or by the aid of other information. Mr. Labouchere must altogether decline calling in the assistance of Mr. Justice Martin, whose official duties (distinguished as his character may be, and highly useful as he has rendered himself through the interest which he has taken in the affairs of the Maori race) have nothing whatever to do with the questions which you have yourself thought proper to raise between your own Department and the Local Government. It would be not merely irregular in form, but highly prejudicial to the public service in substance, were acts of the Local Government, Central or Provincial, questioned, much more over-ruled by the Secretary of State, unless on prior and full communication with that Government.
3.The whole of this correspondence will, therefore, be transmitted to the Governor of New Zealand, for such explanation or such other steps as he may think proper.
4.With respect to your own conduct in these transactions, it is with regret that Mr. Laboucher sees that you avow yourself at last compelled "to inform him that you acted without instructions in the matter of your purchase from the Ngaitahu." Surely so important a feature in the case as this excess of authority by yourself ought to have been at once admitted and fully brought before him, when you endeavoured to procure his interference in the case. As it is, he has every reason to suppose that you acted in this matter only under a strong sense of what was required by the occasion, but it is the Local Government who must in the first instance judge of the propriety of your conduct.
5.With respect to your own position, it must necessarily depend on the result of the communications now made to the Governor.
page 86

Mr. Labouchero is not able exactly to understand on what grounds you have applied to him for the Royal confirmation in an office which was bestowed on you by the Local Government, and which has not, so far as he is aware, been reported by that Government as requiring such confirmation.

But it would obviously be improper for him now to advise such confirmation, in the position in which you have placed yourself toward those who appointed you. If you return to New Zealand at the expiration of your present leave, and as holding your present office, you will of course have to meet any inquiry, or other proceedings which may be instituted respecting the various transactions on which you have corresponded with the Secretary of State.

6.But in the meantime, and during the continuance of your leave, you are at liberty, if you think proper, to draw for the half salary of your office, as, since you have returned the public documents which under a mistaken view of your rights, you had thought proper to keep back, the Secretary of State has no further reason for interfering with your enjoyment of the usual rights of an officer on leave.

I have, &c.,

H Merivale.

W. Mantell, Esq.

No. 9.
Walter Mantell, Esq., to Under Secretary Merivale.

London, August 12th, 1856.


I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 11th instant, relative to my application on behalf of the Ngaitahu Natives.

2.I regret that the adoption of my suggestion relative to Mr. Justice Martin (made distinctly on the very ground on which you reject it) should be incompatible with the forms of the Department, at the same time I cannot pass without comment your statement that it is impossible for Mr. Labouchere, without prior reference to the Local Government, to form any distinct view of the position of Her Majesty's Government in relation to these Natives. It appears to me those benefits which it is my duty to claim for them are simply such as, setting all questions of promises aside, any civilized nation, occupying the territory of a less civilized race, is in honour bound to provide for that race. No reference to the Local Government can, therefore, be needed to convince Mr. Labouchere that the common obligation of all colonizing nations of higher civilization and religion presses in this instance with double weight upon Her Majesty's Government.
3.In referring this matter to the Governor of New Zealand, I would respectfully submit that the reference of the 4th paragraph of your present letter to the facts of my last purchase be made clear, as I myself at first understood it to deny my authority to make the promises to which I have so frequently referred, the validity of which authority I do not and cannot doubt.
4.From the 4th paragraph of your letter, it appears that Mr. Labouchere disapproves of my excess of authority in my last purchase from the Ngaitahu. I freely admit that I was so fully aware of the great violation of precedent of which I was then guilty, that in reporting my proceedings to the Governor in Chief. I described the dilemma in which I was placed between the non-assumption and the assumption of responsibilty, in these words:—

"The former course was safe, with the certainly of great loss to the public by its adoption, but not honorable, and I conceive that by adopting it, I should have deserved to forfeit the appointment I have the honour to hold; and by taking the latter, I might not only forfeit my appointment, and suffer heavy pecuniary loss, yet I should feel that I had done my duty according to my best conception of it."

By this extract, Mr. Labouchere will perceive that I not only knew my fault but was prepared to submit to its probable punishment. The Local Government has already judged of the propriety of my conduct in this purchase. In a letter from Mr. Colonial Secretary Domett, of 7th November, 1853, I was informed that Sir George Grey regarded the case as one in which I was called upon to act upon my own discretion, to the best of my judgment, and in which it became my duty, as a good public servant, to incur such an amount of responsibility as was needed to enable me to close the transaction and set it finally at rest; that, in the course I had adopted, I had rendered a very great service to the public, and one which entitled me to his special commendation, as it showed that I possessed not only the capacity to see what measures ought to be taken in such an emergency, but sufficient resolution to carry those measures into execution, with a single regard for the public good. This opinion, from one so capable as Sir George Grey of forming a correct judgment, should not only suffice to satisfy the Right Honorable Mr. Secretary Labouchere that no apprehension of the censure, so unexpectedly conveyed in your letter, prevented my bringing the fact before him at an earlier stage of the correspondence, but even to prepare him to believe, what is simply true, that I then abstained from allusion to these circumstances, because (considering them not necessary to the case) I wished to avoid being the reporter of proceedings which should have been, and, perhaps, were communicated to you by the Governor of the Colony, and which I regarded, and, respectfully differing from Mr. Labouchere's contrary opinion, still regard as not discreditable to any service. Even in the Province, where the acquisition of the Murihiku Block was looked upon with universal satisfaction, thinking the Government entitled to the first share in the approbation of the acts of officers whom it had appointed, I maintained such secrecy as to my share in the matter that I believe not more than six settlers were aware of it up to the time of my departure.

5.For my accompanying letter the position which, in my last communication I voluntarily assumed on the first intimation of your hesitation not, (as implied in the second paragraph of your letter), to "overrule" acts of the Local Government, but to direct them to act where they had abstained from acting, will have sufficiently prepared you.
page 87

Could I, while still in New Zealand have foreseen the reception which this question [gap — reason: deletion] met with from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I should not have hesitated to resign my offices to the successors of those who appointed me, in order that I might be free to take the steps necessary to compel the fulfilment of promises sanctioned by their predecessors.

By the reference of the question to the Governor who, it appears from the local papers, has not incorrectly defined his position as that of a cipher, the Imperial Government practically repudiates the obligations which I had thought it in honour bound to fulfil. I have now only to hope that the General Assembly may take a more enlightened and humane view of this subject, and shall congratulate myself and the Colony, if that body takes upon itself the honour of providing for the amelioration of the aborigines.

On the first proof, not so much perhaps of want of confidence as of the influence which unprincipled persons had acquired with the Government. I demanded an investigation into my administration; this demand for reasons palpable to those acquainted with the circumstances was neither acceded to nor acknowledged.

It remained open so long as I was in the Colony. It does not seem to me necessary to notice further your allusion to a possible inquiry.

Acting upon the permission conveyed in the last paragraph of your letter. I have received as a last payment from the Colonial Agent General, the balance due to me. I have drawn this sum only on behalf of the Ngaitahu Natives.

I have, &c.,

Walter Mantell.

The Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.

No. 10.
Walter Mantell, Esq., to the Right Honorable Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.

London, August 18th, 1856.


As you have refused to entertain the claims of the Ngaitahu Natives to those benefits which were promised to them on the cession of their lands to the Crown, and as it is therefore very doubtful whether those claims will be satisfied, I cannot, while such doubt exists, continue to hold office in the Department.

I have, therefore, the honour to resign the office of Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Province of Otago. 2. That of a Commissioner of Land Claims under the Ordinance, Session 1, No. 2. 3. That of Commissioner under the Ordinance, Session 11, No, 15.

And, as I can approve neither of the principles upon which the acquisition of Native lands is still conducted, nor of the policy of the Local Government toward the Natives in either Island, I have further the honour to resign such connection as I may be supposed to have retained with the Department for the extinguishment of Native claims.

I have, &c.,

Walter Mantell.

The Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.

No. 11.
T. F. Elliot, Esq., to Walter Mantell, Esq.

Downing-street, September 3rd, 1856.


I am directed by Mr. Secretary Labouchere to acknowledge your letters of the 12th and 18th of last month, resigning the office of Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Province of Otago, and explaining your reasons for doing so.

I am directed in the first place to repair any injustice which may have been done you by the expressions contained in my letter of the 11th, owing to the construction which he could not avoid putting on yours of the 1st, when in that letter you said that you "at last found yourself compelled " to confess having acted in your last purchase from the Ngaitahu without authority. Mr. Labouchere could only suppose that you were speaking of some transactions neither authorized nor subsequently sanctioned by the Local Government, and that the approval of Sir George Grey which you incidentally mentioned had reference to your general conduct and not to this particular transaction. If he is now to understand, as your present letter seems to imply, that after having made that purchase without authority you applied for sanction to your superiors, and they approved of your proceedings, you are of course free from blame, and on reference to old official correspondence finds reason (now that the matter has been thus distinctly brought to his notice), to suppose that Sir George Grey did in effect approve of it, although he has no statement to that effect.

With regard to the remainder of your communication, I am to state that Mr. Labouchere can only notice the subject further as shewing the rule adopted and adhered to by this department of receiving no report on such subjects from public officers of a Colony, except through their superiors, is no matter of form or precedent, but of substantial advantage and strict justice. It is therefore wholly without warrant that you charge Mr. Labouchere with "refusing to entertain the claims of the Ngaitahu Natives," when he only declines to entertain them on your unauthorized application.

I am to add that Mr. Labouchere would by no means have thought it necessary to direct this detailed reply to be made to your present letters, had not the tone of your correspondence convinced page 88him that you are acting under a real sense of public duty, however he may have felt it necessary to disapprove of some parts of your conduct.

I have, &c.,

T. F. Elliot.

Walter Mantell, Esq.

No. 12.
Memorandum by D. McLean, Esq., Native Secretary, on the Correspondence between the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Walter Mantell, Esq.

In reference to the correspondence between the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Mr. Walter Mantell, in which Mr. Mantell charges the Government, with the non-fulfilment of certain promises made to the Ngaitahu tribe, conditional on the surrender of their lands to the Crown, I have the honour, in compliance with your Excellency's request, to report as follows:—

1.I have examined the original deed or agreement, by which the Natives have ceded to Her Majesty the whole of their claims, excepting certain reservations, for a sum of £2000; which has been duly paid to them, and the reserves set apart for their own use, together with Stewart's Island, left in their undisturbed possession.

I can find no trace or record of any other promise made to these Natives; nor have they, to my knowledge, alluded to any direct promise made by the Government, that has not been fulfilled.

It any distinct promise has been made to the Ngaitahu tribe of prospective advantages to be obtained by them, consequent on the cession of their land; I submit that Mr. Mantell should have distinctly stated, for the information of the Government, what the real extent and nature of these promises actually were, by whom made, and by what authority. In the absence of such information, which Mr. Mantell has failed to produce in any definite shape, I conceive that the Government is not chargeable with the blame imputed to it by Mr. Mantell, inasmuch as the terms of the original treaties or agreements for the cession of their lands have been strictly observed and fulfilled by the Government.

The only case of which I am aware in the Middle Island, where there was any, appearance of injustice exhibited in reference to Native claims, has been in the assumption through ignorance of the case, of certain lands by the Europeans, at Bank's Peninsula, and Kaiapoi, to which the Native Title had not been fairly extinguished. These cases have since been thoroughly investigated, the rights of the Natives fairly established, their claims paid for; good reserves set apart for their own use, and the question settled to their entire satisfaction.

Although the Government has fulfilled its strict engagements with the Ngaitahu and other tribes inhabiting the Middle Island, whose numbers may be estimated at 3,000, while the territory they claimed, and have ceded to the Crown, for a consideration of about £12,000, comprises upwards of 30,000,000 acres, there are circumstances connected with their amelioration and advancement in common with the aboriginal tribes of these Islands which have already engaged your Excellency's consideration and attention.

The first of these, as regards the Ngaitahu tribe of Otago, was the contemplated erection of a comfortable hostelry for the tribes frequenting the Otago settlement; for which plans and specifications have been made; but the members of the House of Representatives declined to vote any money for the purpose; the building, therefore, could not be proceeded with.

2.A proposal has been referred by your Excellency to Responsible Ministers, recommending that the Native reserves at Otago should be sub-divided, and individual Crown Titles issued to the Natives, in order that they may have the utmost security of tenure, together with the fullest extent of political privileges, that holding their land under titles from the Crown can afford. Means have not yet been adopted for carrying out this measure; but I have reason to hope that this, (as well as other measures that have been suggested by your Excellency for the social and moral improvement of these tribes) will be acted upon eventually; and that the fact of their having surrendered their territory on the Middle Island, and being comparatively weaker and less able to insist upon their rights than other tribes on this Northern Island, will always be regarded by your Excellency, (as it now is), as an additional reason for extending towards them, whenever it is possible so to do, the friendly aid and protection of the Government; although the cession of these waste lands,—which would have been comparatively valueless if left in an unproductive state in the hands of Native owners,—constitutes no legal claim upon Government beyond the actual terms of purchase.
3.The third point in which your Excellency has moved in connexion with the Otago Natives, has been in reference to the hospital at that place; wherein your Excellency has obtained a guarantee from the Superintendent of Otago, (previous to the transfer of the hospital by the General Assembly to the Provincial authorities), that the Native sick should be attended to, and that a dispensary should be established, and medical aid extended to them at their villages, in addition to the maintenance and relief of Native patients admitted within the hospital.

With the exception of education for the young, for which purpose there are no funds at your Excellency's disposal, I do not perceive that any neglect has been evinced towards the Natives referred to by Mr. Mantell; on the contrary, every effort has been used by your Excellency, at great personal inconvenience, during the sitting of the Assembly, and subsequently, to promote the welfare of the aborigines, and to maintain the pledges and good faith of the Home Government, as communicated by your predecessors to the fullest extent of your Excellency's power.

Donald McLean,
Native Secretary

January 26th, 1857.