Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Important Judgments: Delivered in the Compensation Court and Native Land Court. 1866–1879.

Native Land Court. [Rangitikei Manawatu]

page 101

Native Land Court. [Rangitikei Manawatu]

Wellington, 25th September, 1869.

F. D. Fenton, Esq., Chief Judge; F. Maning, Esq., judge; and Ihaia Whakamairu, Assessor.

Rangitikei-Manawatu Land Claims.

This is a claim made by a native named Akapita for himself and others to. certain lands situated between the Manawatu and Rangitikei rivers, and which has been referred to the Native Land Court by the Governor, under the provisions made to that effect by the "Native Land Act. 1867."

The claimants ground their title firstly on conquest, stating that the land in question was conquered from the Ngatiapa tribe, the original possessors, by the Ngatitoa tribe under their chief Te Rauparaha, who subsequently gave, or granted, this land to the Ngatiraukawa tribe, his allies, of which tribe the claimants are members; and secondly, failing the proof of the right by conquest, the claimants claim under any right which it may be proved the Ngatiraukawa tribe, or any sections or hapu of that tribe, may have acquired either by occupation or in any other manner.

This claim by Akapita is opposed by the Crown, who have purchased from Ngatiapa, on the grounds that the original owners, the Ngatiapa, have never been conquered, and that the Ngatiraukawa as a tribe have not acquired any right or interest whatever in the land, and, moreover, that the land claimed by Akapita is now the property of the Crown, having been legally purchased from the right owners.

A great mass of evidence has been taken in this case, from which, after eliminating minor matters and everything which has no very important bearing on the matter for decision, the following facts appear to remain.

Before the year 1818, and to that date or thereabouts, the Ngatiapa tribe were possessors of the land in question, its owners by Maori usage and custom, the land being a part of the tribal territory or estate.

On or about the above date the chief Rauparaha, with the fighting men of his tribe and a party of Ngapuhi warriors armed "with firearms, left his settlement at Kawhia and marched to the South with the intention of acquiring by conquest a new territory for himself and tribe. In the course of this expedition he passed through the country of the Ngatiapa, remaining only long enough to ravage the country and drive back to the fastnesses of the mountains, the Ngatiapa, who, with some parties of allies or kindred tribes, had attempted resistance, but were at that time obliged to retreat before an enemy armed with firearms,

page 102

The invaders then passed on to the southward, and after a series of battles, onslaughts, stratagems, and incidents attendant on Maori warfare, but not necessary further to notice here. Te Rauparaha, with the assistance of his Ngapuhi allies, succeeded in possessing himself of a large territory to the north and south of Otaki, the former possessors of which he had defeated, killed or driven off.

After this inroad, in which Rauparaha had laid the foundation for a more permanent occupation and conquest, and being therefore, as it would appear, desirous to collect around him as many fighting men as possible—a great object of every native chief in those days of continual war and violence—he returned to Kawhia with the purpose of collecting the remainder of his tribe who had been left at Kawhia and of inviting the whole tribe of Ngatiraukawa to come and settle on the territory which he had then but partially conquered.

It is to be noticed here that on the return of Rauparaha to Kawhia he was met by the chiefs of the Ngatiapa tribe on their own land, and that upon this occasion friendly relations and peace were established between them, he returning to them some prisoners he had taken in passing through their country when advancing to the southward; presents were also exchanged, and the nephew of Te Rauparaha, Te Rangihaeata, took to wife with all due formality a chieftainess of the Ngatiapa tribe called Pikinga, notwithstanding that she had been taken prisoner by himself on the occasion of the first inroad into the Ngatiapa country.

After arriving at Kawhia the Ngapuhi returned to their own country, and need not be again mentioned, as they have not made any claim on account of their alliance with Te Rauparaha on the occasion of the first invasion.

About a year after the return of Rauparaha to Kawhia he mustered his tribe and some other followers, and taking also the women and children, he again marched for the South, with the intention of permanently occupying and securing the conquest of the lands which up to this time he had merely overrun.

The effect of the invitation by Te Rauparaha to the Ngatiraukawa tribe to come and settle on his newly acquired lands was, that soon afterwards strong parties of Rauka.wa came from time to time to Kapiti, partly to examine the new country which had been offered to them, but chiefly, it would appear, moved by the reports which they had heard that gunpowder and firearms were procurable at the place from European traders who, about that time, had commenced a traffic for flax and other native produce. These parties of Raukawa, on their way South, in passing through the country of the N.gatiapa, killed or took prisoners any stragglers of the Ngatiapa or others whom they met with, and who had lingered imprudently behind in the vicinity of the war track, when the prudent but brave war chief of the Ngatiapa had withdrawn the bulk of the tribe into the fastnesses of the country whilst these ruthless invaders passed through, being doubtless unwilling to attack the allies of Te Rauparaha, with whom he wisely made terms of peace and friendship. In page 103passing through the country of the Ngatiapa these Raukawa parties also took a kind of pro forma, or nominal, possession, of the land, which, however, would be entirely invalid except as against parties of passing adventures like themselves who might follow; because the Ngatiapa tribe, though weakened, remained still unconquered, and a considerable proportion of their military force still maintained themselves in independence in the country under their chief Te Hakeke. But what was no doubt fully as much in favor of the Ngatiapa tribe, and which may probably have been the cause of their not having been eventually subjugated, was the fact already noticed, that Rauparaha on his return to the North, when he invited the Ngatiraukawa to come down, had made peace with the Ngatiapa, thereby waving any rights he might have been supposed to claim over their lands; and indeed from that time for a long period afterwards, friendly and confidential relations undoubtedly were maintained between Te Rauparaha and his tribe and the tribe of Ngatiapa,—which were only broken off, more by accident than by design of either party, in consequence of a few men of the Ngatiapa having been killed in an attack made by Ngatitoa and others on a fort belonging to the Rangitane tribe in which these Ngatiapa men happened to be staying at the time, and whose death was afterwards avenged by the Ngatiapa—after which peace was again established between them and Te Rauparaha and the Ngatitoa tribe.

To Europeans not much acquainted with the peculiarities of Maori thought and action, the destruction by these passing parties of Ngatiraukawa, of individuals of the Ngatiapa tribe—a tribe with whom Rauparaha was then on peaceful and even friendly terms,— their destruction by parties who were not only also allies of Rauparaha, but who were then actually in expectation of receiving from him great benefits in the shape of grants of land, and above all the opportunity of trading for firearms, may appear a strange inconsistency, and not to be reconciled with the fact of the people so treated being in any other position than that of helpless subjection, and not—as has been seen—in alliance with the paramount chief, Rauparaha; but to those who know what the state of society (so to call it) was in those days, and have noted the practical consequences arising therefrom, this matter presents no difficulty. The Ngatiraukawa parties would, as a matter of course, act as they did without anticipating any reference whatever to the matter by Te Rauparaha, to whom they were bringing what he most wanted, a large accession of physical force, and who would not therefore have quarrelled with them at this time for such a small matter as the destruction of a few individuals, no matter who they were, provided they were not of his own particular tribe. It was the pride and pleasure of the Raukawa to hunt and kill all helpless stragglers whom they might fall in with on their march; it was customary under the circumstances, and being able also to do it with impunity, they were, according to the morality and policy of those times, quite within rule in doing so. As for the Ngatiapa tribe themselves, they would not at all blame the page 104Ngatiraukawa in the sense of their having done anything wrong; being Maori themselves, they would appreciate the circumstances of the case, knowing that they themselves would have done the same if in the same position. They would also fully understand the reason why the paramount chief Rauparaha could not notice the matter, and that in fact the Ngatiraukawa had done nothing to be considered as wrong or out of order, but only something to be returned in kind and with interest at some future day, provided that the Ngatiapa should ever be able, and that it would be good policy in them to do so when the opportunity offered. I have made these remarks, which are applicable to the actions and proceedings of all the different Raukawa parties when on their way South to join Te Rauparaha at Kapiti, for the purpose of showing that no acts of the Ngatiraukawa tribe, previous to the arrival of their whole force at Kapiti, whether by killing or enslaving individuals of the Ngatiapa, or by taking a merely formal possession of any of their lands, without halting or residing, did give them (the Ngatiraukawa) any rights of any kind whatever over the lands of the Ngatiapa tribes according to any Maori usage or custom.

It should be noted here, that on the first coming of Rauparaha on his expedition of conquest, he found living amongst the Ngatiapa, a party of Rangitane, a tribe whose proper tribal lands were adjacent to, but distinct from, those of the Ngatiapa. These people, upon the second coming of Rauparaha on his return from the North, were still there, and they, in confederation with some other people of the Muaopoko tribe, did, by means of a treacherous stratagem, very nearly succeed in killing Te Rauparaha, who barely escaped by flight, leaving four of his children, and all, or very nearly all, of his companions, dead at the place where they were attacked. This affair occurred after Rauparaha had made peace formally with the Ngatiapa tribe, who, it is in evidence, had warned him against the treacherous design of the Rangitane and others; notwithstanding which the Rangitane very nearly succeeded in ridding themselves of the most dangerous of all their enemies, Te Rauparaha—famous himself for wiles and stratagems —and who, it is pertinent to the matter in hand to remark, either conquered by force or made tools of by policy, or destroyed by treachery, almost everyone he came into contact with. The Ngapuhi warriors, strong in warlike ability, doubly strong in being armed with firearms, he made use of to conquer for him a great territory, and then dismissed them, paying them for their great services with friendly flattering words, a few prisoners, and some insignificant presents. The Ngatiapa he spared and made friends with, and even allowed to purchase firearms at Kapiti, evidently with the purpose of using this tribe as a check upon his friends the Ngatiraukawa, who were much superior to his own tribe in numbers, and who in their turn were to be pitted against the numerous enemies by whom he was surrounded, and who had become so in consequence of his recen conquests. The effect however of the nearly successful attempt by the Rangitane, as regarded themselves, was to prevent Te Rauparaha page 105from extending to them the same favourable consideration which he had done to the Ngatiapa, and to cause him to pursue them with persistent and vindictive warfare, slaughtering a great proportion of their fighting men, breaking their military force, and driving them from place to place whenever opportunity offered, during which operations we lose sight of them on this block; and when we afterwards find a small company of people called "Rangitane." settled unopposed and apparently in a permanent manner at Puketotara, just within the country of the Ngatiapa, and not far from the boundary of the proper tribal estate of the Rangitane tribe, we find on investigation that these people are called " half-castes " or children of inter-marriages between members of the Ngatiapa and Rangitane tribes, and who, there is no doubt, owed their undisturbed possession to their Ngatiapa blood. I am therefore of opinion that in the decision to be given as to the ownership of the whole block, these people holding land within the Ngatiapa boundaries by virtue of their Ngatiapa blood, and for that reason unopposed by the Ngatiapa, should be held to be members of the Ngatiapa tribe and have all the rights which may accrue to them from that position, and that when the Ngatiapa tribe is spoken of for the purpose of the decision in this case it shall be understood to include these Rangitane half-castes.

For the sake of brevity and perspicuity, I have avoided as much as possible, recurring to many minute circumstances, seeing that the questions under consideration can be decided, as far as the Court can decide them, on the evidence adduced, on broader considerations, which are more easily understood. I now therefore pass at once to the time, about the year 1829, when we at last find the whole emigration of the Ngatiraukawa tribe arrived and settled about Kapit, Waikanae, and the immediately adjacent country.

The whole Ngatiraukawa emigration having arrived, it appears that they did not immediately disperse themselves over the conquered country, but remained for about three years in the vicinity of Otaki, Waikanae, and Kapiti, where they employed themsleves in manufacturing flax and producing other commodities for sale to the European traders for gunpowder and fire-arms, without which they could not count on being able to establish themselves on their allotted lands; but, having at last accomplished this object, the different sections of the tribe separated, and each section went to, and took possession of, and settled on, that particular portion or district of the conquered country which had been granted or allotted to them by the paramount chief Rauparaha.

During the above period of time, between the arrival of the Ngatiraukawa tribe and its final occupation in sections of the different districts allotted to them, it appears that the Ngatiapa had also, with the full consent of Rauparaha, and the active assistance of the chief Rangihaeata, made the most of the time in arming themselves with firearms, which, it would appear, they succeeded in doing to fully as great an extent as their means of purchasing allowed, and probably to fully as great an extent as the Ngatiraukawa had been able to do.page 106This fact has a very significant though indirect bearing on the questions at issue, as it seems evident that had Rauparaha intended to depress or subjugate the Ngatiapa tribe, he wouid on no account have allowed or offered facilities to their war chief Hakeke in coining to Kapiti with parties of his young men to procure those arms, which, were it not for the friendly relations subsisting between them, would have made the Ngatiapa formidable even to Te Rauparaha himself. The policy, however, of Te Rauparaha was evidently, from the beginning, after having made the Ngatiapa feel his power, to elevate and strengthen them as a check on his almost too numerous friends the Ngatiraukawa. whom, were it not that they were bound to him by a great common danger, created by himself in placing them on lately conquered lands, he would never have trusted. He has also evidently had the intention, and succeeded in it, after having made peace with his enemies in the South who were not likely to attack him again, of setting up both tribes, Ngatiraukawa and Ngatiapa, as a barrier against his far more dangerous enemies in the North.

There, however, is no evidence at all to show that Rauparaha, in granting or allotting lands to the different sections of the Ngatiraukawa tribe, did ever give or grant to them any lands within the boundaries of the Ngatiapa possessions, between the rivers Rangitikei and Manawatu, or elsewhere; to have done which would have been clearly inconsistent with the relations then subsisting between himself and the Ngatiapa tribe, over whose lands he had never claimed or exercised the rights of a conqueror; and, moreover, the Ngatiapa, a fierce and sturdy race, were on the land, no longer unarmed but well provided with those weapons, the want of which had, on the occasion of the first invasion, reduced their warriors to seek reluctantly the shelter of the mountain or the forest. It is, however, sufficient that we have the fact that, influenced by whatever motives, Te Rauparaha did not at any time give or grant lands of the Ngatiapa estate, between the Manawatu and Rangitikei rivers, to the Ngatiraukawa tribe, nor is there any evidence to shew that he had ever acquired the right to do so. It is however a fact that soon after the year 1835, we find three distinct hapu of the Ngatiraukawa tribe settled peaceably and permanently on the Ngatiapa lands, between the Manawatu and Rangitikei rivers, unopposed by the Ngatiapa, on terms of perfect alliance and friendship with them, claiming rights of ownership over the lands they occupied, and exercising those rights, sometimes independently of the Ngatiapa, and sometimes conjointly with them; joining with the Ngatiapa in petty war expeditions, "eating out of the same basket," "sleeping in the same bed," as some of the witnesses say, and quarrelling with each other, and, on the only occasion on which the disagreement resulted in the loss of one life, making peace with each other like persons who, depending much on each other's support, cannot afford to carry hostilities against each other to extremity, and who therefore submit to the first politic proposals of their chiefs for an accommodation. Upon investigation of the causes which brought about this page 107state of things, with the view of ascertaining what was the real status or position of the three Raukawa hapu on the land,'we find that they did not make their settlement on the lands of the Ngatiapa by virtue of any claim of conquest, or any grant from Rauparaha, or by any act or demonstration of warlike powers by themselves; but it is in evidence, which from all the surrounding circumstances seems perfectly credible, that two at least of these Raukawa hapu, namely, Ngatiparewahawaha and Ngatikahoro, were very simply invited to come by the Ngatiapa themselves, and were placed by them in a position which, by undoubted Maori usage, entailed upon the incomers very important rights, though not the rights of conquerors. The third hapu, the Ngatikauwhata, appears to have come in under slightly different circumstances. The lands allotted to them by Rauparaha were on the south side of the Manawatu river, the lands of the Ngatiapa were on the north, and, to quote the very apt expression of one of the witnesses, "they stretched the grant of Rauparaha and came over the river;" the facts appearing in reality to have been that they made a quiet intrusion on to the lands of the Ngatiapa, but offering no violence, lest by so doing they should offend Rauparaha, as, under the then existing established relations between the tribes, to do so would have been a very different affair from the killing of the stragglers they met with several years before on the occasion of their first coming into the country. The Ngatiapa, on their part, for very similar reasons, did not oppose the intrusion, but making a virtue apparently of what seemed very like a necessity, they bade the Ngatikauwhata welcome, and soon entered into the same relations of friendship and alliance with them, which they had entered into with the other two sections of Raukawa. That this was the true tsate of the case seems very certain, for in those times of rapine, violence, and war, when men could only preserve their lives and the trifling amount of prosperity which under such a state of things could exist, by a constant exhibition of military strength, it is well known to the Court that all chiefs of tribes, and all tribes, particularly such as were, like the Ngatiapa, not very numerous, were at all times eager, by any means, to increase their numerical strength; and that, much as they valued their lands, they valued fighting men more, and were at all times ready and willing to barter a part of their territorial possessions for an accession of strength, and to welcome and endow with land, parties of warlike adventurers like the Ngatiraukawa, who would, for the sake of those lands, enter into alliance with them, and make common cause in defending their mutual possessions. In exactly this position we find these three Raukawa hapu, in a position which gives them (by Maori custom) well known and recognised rights in the soil. Those who, living on the soil, have assisted in defending it,—who, making a settlement, either invited or unopposed by the original owners, have afterwards entered into alliance with them and performed the duties of allies,— acquire the status and rights of ownership, more or less precise or extensive, according to the circumstances of the first settlement, and page 108to what the subsequent events may have been. But be the motives of the Ngatiapa whatever they were, for inviting or not opposing the settlement of these three Raukawa hapu, the fact remains that we find them in a position, and doing acts, giving them or proving that they had acquired, according to Maori usage and custom, rights which the Court recognises by this judgment: that is to say, firstly, that the three Ngatiraukawa hapu—called respectively Ngatikahoro, Ngatiparewahawaha, and Ngatikauwhata, have acquired rights which constitute them owners, according to Maori usage and custom, along with the Ngatiapa tribe in the block of land, the right to which has been the subject of this investigation.

Secondly, that the quantity and situation of the land to which the individuals of the above named Ngatiraukawa sections who have not sold or transferred their rights are entitled, and the conditions of its tenure are described in the accompanying schedule.

And the Court finds also that the Ngatiraukawa tribe has not, as a tribe, acquired any right, title, interest or authority in or over the block of land which has been the subject of this investigation.