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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Harris's Homestead Site

Harris's Homestead Site

The earliest purchase of land in Poverty Bay was made by Captain J. W. Harris on 30 June, 1831. It was a property of a little over one acre, situated on the western bank of the Turanganui River between a creek (which joined the river close to the site now occupied by the Turanganui Hotel) and the southern boundary of Heipipi pa (now the site occupied by the chief post office, the Government Buildings and the Courthouse). Its vendors were: Paratene Turangi, Kahutia and others. The consideration was: 29 lbs. of powder, 1 axe, 48 pipes and 6 lbs. of tobacco. No written agreement was made at the time of the sale, but, when it became known, after British sovereignty had been proclaimed, that all pakeha claims to land would require to be investigated, the vendors, on 1 November, 1840, signed a memorandum of sale. Here, Harris built a house and store, first in Maori fashion, and then in wood. It is believed that these structures were the first to be erected in wood in Poverty Bay.

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When the Poverty Bay Crown Grants Commission sat in 1869, Paratene and Kahutia were dead and Paora (a younger brother of Kahutia) opposed the claim. He averred that Harris had received permission merely to occupy the land. If the claimant had paid any money for it, he (witness) would have been given a share. Asked if he had any witnesses to support his protest, Paora walked abruptly out of the court. Henare Turangi (a relative of Paratene) upheld the claim and Wi Pere, who had intended to oppose it, withdrew his opposition. A Crown grant was awarded.

A property known as “Wai-o-ngaruwai,” which stood at the junction of the Taruheru River with the Turanganui River, was acquired by Captain Harris and Robert Espie from Kahutia on 5 May, 1838. It comprised 2 ac. 1 rd. 14 p. On the sale note Harris was described as “late of New South Wales” and Espie as “late of Van Diemen's Land.” The consideration was: 50 lbs. of powder, 5 lbs. of tobacco, one musket and one blanket “of a total value of £10 in lawful money of Great Britain and Ireland.” Kahutia attached his name to the agreement by means of a cross and the witnesses were: Thomas Halbert, Wm. Brown, Richard Horsely and Paratene Turangi. An endorsement read: “Signed, sealed and delivered; no stamps being used and none to be obtained.”

Harris described the land as under: “Bounded on north side by the Wai taruharu River; on the east side by that part of the river called Wai Turanganui; and on the south and west sides by a native fenced village [Heipipi].” He added that he had built a weather-boarded store, cottage and other buildings and fences on the land. Samuel Loane bought the property on 15 May, 1857, but it fell back into Captain Harris's hands and, subsequently, was acquired by Captain Read “on a settlement of a/cs.” Captain Read added other buildings, built a jetty alongside and established his main place of business there. A Crown grant was awarded to him in 1869.

The claim which was most strenuously opposed was that which was made by Captain W. B. (“Barney”) Rhodes to a block of 300 acres, lying between Karaua Creek and the edge of Poverty Bay, and known as “Karaua.” He said that the purchase was made in February, 1840, in the name of Daniel Cooper, of London, merchant; James Holt, of Sydney, merchant; and of himself. The consideration was: four blankets, three guns, ten pairs of duck trousers, ten shirts and £4 in money. His vessel, the Eleanor, was at the time lying off Wherowhero. He also bought, for two pairs of blankets and two shirts, a property of 1½ acres at Wharetunoa, Muriwai. Both properties were perambulated page 141 by himself, several other Europeans and the vendors, and marked by having holes dug and filled with charcoal.

Matenga Tamaioreao testified that the sale was made by himself and others, without consultation with the chiefs, because he had been left out of the distribution of goods made by another buyer in payment for another property. “I sold it,” he added, “in mistake or foolishly (pohehe); the land was not mine to sell.” Raharuhi (“Lazarus”) Rukupo confirmed this statement. The sale, he said, had taken place whilst he and other chiefs, together with between 200 and 300 members of the tribe, were away negotiating the sale of another property. In consequence of the sale, one of the vendors had been driven away. Witness's predecessor (Te Waaka Mangere) had refused to accept any portion of the payment.

The counter-claimant (Keita Waere, or Kate Wyllie) maintained that the land had been given to her by Te Otene te Whare. On behalf of Rhodes it was submitted that, as Te Whare was a Hauhau, any transaction between him and Mrs. Wyllie must be held to be illegal. Mrs. Wyllie admitted that Te Whare was a rebel, and that he was killed during the Siege of Waerenga-a-Hika, but she contended that there was no proof that he was a rebel when he made the gift to her.

It was held by the Commission that Mrs. Wyllie's claim must fail on the ground that Te Whare was one of the party which had previously sold the land to Rhodes and because the deed of gift to her was executed immediately prior to the donor going openly into rebellion. An area of thirty acres (including Pakirikiri) was cut out and awarded to Raharuhi Rukupo.

One of the most important land deals, at the outset of pakeha settlement in Poverty Bay, was the acquisition by Thomas Halbert of a block known as “Pouparae” on 18 December, 1839. His claim, which was dated 4 November, 1840, stated that the property contained 1,004 acres, and that the consideration in cash and goods represented £315, made up of: Cash £80, four d.b. fowling pieces, 40 shirts, 36 axes, 32 plane irons, 60 blankets, 36 iron pots, 24 hoes, 400 lbs. of gunpowder, 10 pieces of print, 500 lbs. of tobacco, 36 hatchets, 130 razors, 30 knives, 40 spades, and 22 pairs of scissors. The property, he said, was being used for rearing pigs for export. Witnesses to the sale were: J. M. Jury, John Campbell and Frederick Spooner. “Pouparae” was the block upon which Barnet Burns had “squatted” in 1832.

When the transaction came before Commissioner Bell in 1859, the native witnesses agreed that Wi Pere, one of Halbert's sons, had been intended by them to benefit from it. Halbert scouted the suggestion. Wi Haronga said that his father had agreed to the page 142 sale, but that his mother had opposed it, and that, in her anger, she had burned down the house of a pakeha named “John” [perhaps John Campbell, one of the witnesses to the signatures]. In a memorandum dated 6 April, 1871, Mr. Alfred Domett (who had been Premier in 1862–63) expressed the opinion that the land had originally been set apart, or sold to Halbert, for the maintenance of Wi Pere.

On 26 July, 1841, Halbert sold the block to the Rev. W. Williams and Captain Harris. Later, Harris disposed of his share to his clerical partner. When the claim came up for consideration in 1869, Wi Pere withdrew his opposition and a Crown Grant was issued to Bishop W. Williams. The area of the block was then estimated at slightly less than 500 acres.