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Reports of the Native Affairs Committee, 1880.

No. 45 of Session II., 1879.—Petition of Michael Muloolly

No. 45 of Session II., 1879.—Petition of Michael Muloolly.

Petitioner says that at a meeting of the Native Land Court held at Gisborne, on the 24th November, 1873, a piece of land called Uawa No. 1 was awarded to eight Natives without restriction; that about the 23rd December, 1874, petitioner purchased from the said Natives a portion of the land. That in August, 1875, petitioner searched the records of the Native Land Court, and, finding the above-named record of award, took a conveyance of the interest of the Natives in 160 acres of the said land. That the deed of conveyance was certified by the Trust Commissioner, and stamped. That in July, 1876, a page 12meeting of the Land Court was held at Tologa Bay, when the proprietorship of the Natives referred to was confirmed, so far as the 160 acres were concerned. That the petitioner has been in possession of the land from December, 1874, to 10th March, 1879. That, at a date not named by petitioner, the Governor notified that under "The Immigration and Public Works Act, 1871," it was his intention to negotiate with the Natives for the lands of which the petitioner's was a portion. That at the end of two years a further official notice was given to the effect that Government had paid money upon the said land. That in consequence of these Proclamations the petitioner has been subjected to trespasses on the part of various Natives. That at a meeting of the Native Land Court, held on 10th March, 1879, the ownership of the land was adjudged to sixty-three Natives, including the eight first referred to. That in consequence of this official action, petitioner has lost £6,000. Petitioner claims damages, and also to be put in possession of the land.

I am directed to report as follows:—

The facts established show that, several years before the petitioner began to negotiate with the Natives, the Government had had dealings in regard to the land, of which Mangarara No. 2 forms a part. The land had been ceded to the Government, but had been returned to the Maoris. Afterwards the Government desired a portion for settlement purposes, in connection with a proposed township at Tologa Bay, and bought out certain European claims. It was during this stage that Muloolly entered into competition with the Government, with apparently a full knowledge of what was being done. The Natives negotiated with both parties, and took consideration-money from both. In neither case were the payments secured by law, and, indeed, were made on both sides with a full knowledge that no legal title could be received until the lands should be passed through the Native Land Court. Immediately before the sitting of the Court, which adjudicated upon the land on 3rd May, 1879, an offer was made on behalf of the Government to pay Muloolly the sum of £500 to retire from the transaction. This sum was calculated upon the basis of £300 original cost and £200 for improvements. This offer was made at the urgent request of Mr. Muloolly, who upon his part demanded first £1,500 and afterwards £800. He refused to accept the offer, and the case accordingly went into Court, with the result that instead of the names of only eight original grantees being inserted, the order of the Court contained sixty-three names. The position of the case now seems to be that both the Government and Mr. Muloolly have paid away large sums of money on very questionable security. The petitioner has satisfied the Committee that by the most recent order of the Native Land Court his title to the land in question is invalid, and that it would be impossible for him to make it good. But the Committee does not consider that the Government is responsible for the unfortunate position of the petitioner, and cannot therefore recommend that compensation be awarded to him.

21st July, 1880.