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

First Land Purchase by the Crown

First Land Purchase by the Crown

It was not until 1857—six years after Mr. McLean's visit—that a move was made to acquire a block of land in Poverty Bay for Government purposes. When Mr. Wardell had arrived in 1855 he had had to be content with a small cottage at Makaraka for a home and for his official quarters as magistrate. After protracted negotiations with Kahutia and other members of Whanau-o-Iwi hapu, he obtained for the Crown, at a cost of £85, a property at Makaraka containing 57 acres. It was backed by the Taruheru River and comprised the areas subsequently used for the Makaraka Cemetery and the Makaraka Domain.

The agreement was signed on 29 January, 1857, by Mr. Wardell (for the Crown) and by Kahutia, his wife, his brother Manahi, his daughters (Kataraina and Riparata) and their husbands (Petera and Mikaera) and a grandson, together with some other relatives. Kuhutia gave his assent by affixing a cross. page 182 Quaint and picturesque language similar to that which was adopted in earlier deeds made in Hawke's Bay—e.g., that in respect of Hapuku block (4/11/1851)—appears in the recital. Rightly or wrongly, Mr. McLean is credited with being the author. A translation appears in Maori Deeds and Purchases: North Island, Vol. 1 (Auckland, 1877). The deed mentions that the vendors also included “our relations and our descendants, who shall be born after us.” The Taruheru River is described as “Te Awa-o-Turanganui.”

Most colourful among the passages is the following:

“Now we have fully considered wept over and bidden farewell to and entirely given up the land bequeathed to us by our ancestors with its streams lakes waters timber minerals pasture plains and forests with its fertile spots and barren places and all above and all below the surface of the said land and everything thereunto pertaining we have entirely given up under the shining sun of this day as a lasting possession to Victoria the Queen of England and to the Kings or Queens who may succeed her for ever …”

The property became known as “The Government Paddock,” and upon it was erected Poverty Bay's first courthouse and the magistrate's residence. No further transfer of native land for public purposes took place in the Poverty Bay-East Coast area until 22 February, 1862, when Tukino and others disposed of 88 acres at Port Awanui as a site for a Resident Magistrate's station for the Waiapu district. Next in order came the purchase of the site for the township of Gisborne in 1868.