The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
June 6, 1876.
Hon. Sir D. McLean, K.C.M.G., Native Minister, "Wellington.
I have the honor to report, as Land Purchase Officer for the East Coast and Bay of Plenty District, that a number of transactions have been effected, and that the following business has been done:—
I.—Former Negotiations Completed.
I regret that under this head there should be nothing to record. This arises from no fault or shortcoming in my department. The lands have been negotiated, deposits paid, agreements signed. Their surveys have been executed, and applications in writing by the Natives to the Native Land Court (in too many instances repeatedly) to have their claims heard.page 50
Moreover, on the 25th of October last, I requested that the Native Land Court might be moved to commence to take cases in the middle of February last, in which the Land Purchase Department is interested in this district, "as my plans would then be ripe for passing 23 Block through the Court, containing 270,000 acres."
Yet notwithstanding this, I regret to state that excepting certain lands to be hereafter mentioned (where private parties have interfered to obstruct my operations, and where the unprecedented proceedings of the Judge and District Officer have militated seriously against them), that not. a single block has passed the Court, nor has a case been called.
This statement applies equally to all blocks included in former negotiations, and in negotiations entered into during the current year.
I should say that at my request the Natives have applied to the Court to have their claims investigated to 259,670 acres. The whole of the said lands have been negotiate! and surveyed at the expense of the Government, while the tracings of the plans of 214,170 acres of them are in my office. The balance of their area, 45,500 acres is estimated, because although the surveys are finished upon the ground, the plans have not yet been sent in.
Of these lands none have been heard.
|The Native Land Court has, however, gazetted for hearing||68,588 acres|
|Not yet gazette||191,082 acres|
II.—Fresh Blocks Purchased.
During the year under report I have purchased fifteen new Blocks, containing a total of 101,037 acres at an average price of 1s. 10d. per acre. The surveys of all these Blocks except three are completed. The Blocks are scattered throughout the district, are a good average quality, and may be considered to be desirable acquisitions.
III.—Leased Lands Purchased.
Under this head I have to report that 142,709 acres of leased lands have been converted by purchase during the past year. They have been bought at an average cost of Is. 8¼d. per acre, and 68,652 acres having passed the Native Land Court in previous years, are now held by Crown title.
IV.—Fresh Blocks Leased.
No fresh leases have been made because I have found myself able to purchase, and have, therefore, invariably refused to lease.
|Advances on lands not vet heard by the Court||£3,291||0||0|
|Payments made upon Crown title||4,175||12||10|
|Total payments on purchase||7,466||12||10|
|Advances on former leases||43||0||0|
Excluding transactions completed previously.
|The lands surveyed this year (as nearly as I can ascertain) are||263,185 acres|
|Surveys requisitioned||57,000 acres|
|Will be requisitioned next Spring||70,000 acres|
|There are of negotiations in abeyance||30,000 acres|
|Suspended negotiations resumed||54,000 acres|
|Negotiations suspended||48,000 acres|
The surveys performed showed that the areas of the lands had been slightly under-estimated; 226,000 acres estimated were found by survey to contain 230,926 acres.
VII.—The total area I have purchased and leased in this district, the same having been surveyed, or about to be surveyed during the ensuing summer, is 594,882 acres.
VIII.—Opposition and intrigues of Europeans who have interfered with my negotiations.
This has formed the most prominent feature of the conditions against which I have deemed it my duty to contend.
I had to advert to this subject in my annual report last year, and I find myself compelled to mention it again.page 52
The evil has not diminished, although its organisation and ramifications may have become more apparent.
And, first I would say, that where settlers have had prior transactions, and possessed prior claims, that I have made it my rule to abstain from interfering with those transactions, but at the same time I have requested them to refrain in like manner from interfering with the negotiations I have entered into on behalf of the Government.
More than this on the part of the Government would not be acceptable to Europeans, and less than this would not be just to the Government.
It seemed necessary, therefore, to draw a line somewhere, and I have endeavoured to draw it where the equitable and legal rights of the public should be protected from the efforts of individuals—be they who they may—who may seek to interfere and to deprive the public of those rights.
The necessity of such a rule appears to be in proportion to the means of the individual either by ability, wealth, influence, &c.; a rule is necessary, too, to meet that class of persons who jump claims to be bought out.
Now it has been my lot until quite lately, i.e., until the land was gazetted under the Immigration and Public Works Acts, to be compelled to struggle single-handed more than twelve months with a very powerful and a very remarkable European opposition. An opposition that I feel sure has spent directly and indirectly (their expenditure in public-houses alone is enormous) far more, perhaps five times as much, money as I have paid, but whose utmost effort has proved quite inadequate to create more than a passing European difficulty.
The persons instigating this opposition have possessed means and influence so large, that had I been less firm or less assured of the justice of the cause represented, I should not have been able to prevail hitherto, as I have. . . .
On the 7th of July last I refused to pay money on Mr Locke and Mr Read's request.
On the 9th the Judge and Read drove to the country house of the latter, where they were accustomed frequently to reside together.
On the 11th I was informed that the Judge was trying to get Read and Cooper's surveys at Waingaromia placed upon a special Gazette by telegram.
On the 12th they returned to town, and by that time the lands had been telegraphed and hurriedly notified at the head page 53 office at Auckland, not on the usual printed form under seal of the Court, but with the seal of the Court on a manuscript.
I venture to affirm that this was an exceedingly improper proceeding, and an abuse of power. It was a violent action, the effect of which was to displace the cause of the public, and to injure it by giving Read's interests priority. It was to make claimants of the Opposition, and to give them the right to reply. It was to take the hearing of our lands upon their hasty and indiscriminately—I had almost said promiscuously—made surveys and plans. It was to impart prestige to one side, and to humiliate those who had sold to the Government. It was to diminish in the eyes of the people the respect due to the Government in its business transactions, by rendering those transactions subordinate to the interests of Europeans who were known to have interfered with them.
Suitors in all cases in the Native Land Court are required to comply with the forms of the Court. They are required to make their claims to the Court in writing, and have, in point of fact, to fill an elaborate form of application for hearing with scrupulous exactness, failing which, their applications are returned to them for correction. But the Natives with whom Messrs Read and Cooper were in treaty were excused delay where time was an object, and were granted a special advantage.
And here I may say, that, had the Court and the District Officer permitted business to flow in the ordinary channel, and had surveyors been furnished in March, April, and May, 1875, when I applied for them; and further, had a Judge of the Native Land Court presided here, who could have taken Government business sometimes, instead of cases in which Mr Read is interested always (I believe one solitary case excepted), that the time of the Court in my district during the year under report has been entirely engrossed in adjudicating where Read requires titles, while not a single case has been adjudicated in which Natives claim who have parted with their land to Government. Had these conditions been permitted to obtain, then the Government would have had its deeds, and the Natives their money long ago. . .
I have the honor to be, sir,
Your obedient Servant, (Signed)
J. A. Wilson, Land Purchase Officer.