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An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

No. 20. — Colonel Godfrey, Land Claims Commissioner, to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary

No. 20.
Colonel Godfrey, Land Claims Commissioner, to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary.

Coromandel.—Native Claims in Lands awarded to Europeans. Coromandel Harbour, 8th June, 1844.


I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, that since I have been in this district some applications have been made to me by Natives who laid claim to portions of land said to be included in the boundaries of award's made last year, for which they have not been paid, and which they will not surrender peaceably without so being.

As I consider it would be highly improper for me to make or propose any alterations in the awards upon cases that I have not heard—for there can be no doubt that the principal value of such evidence as we receive in these investigations is the impression it makes upon the hearers of it—I have referred these individuals to the Protector of Aborigines, Mr- Edward Shortland, who will examine into the complaints and report thereon.

My reason for bringing this matter under the notice of His Excellency, is that I conceive similar obstacles will arrive very frequently ia taking possession of grants, for it has not been unusual for claimants to refrain at the examinations from naming Natives who had applied often to them for payment for patches of land included in the claimed boundaries, and, when they wore fully sensible of the right of the Native to such spots, he has been promised a future payment; for them if he would not appear to object, upon which promise he has relied.

Now, from such circumstances, as we very seldom could obtain at the investigations an accurate description of boundaries, should the claimants receive a grant with such boundaries as are simply page 11defined in the. Commissioner's report, without a survey of them pointed out by the Natives and justified by the Protector of Aborigines of the districts, I fear that much confusion and opposition will arise, hereafter; for we must expect that grants will be subdivided or disposed of to fresh settlers, and, if there are any such flaws in the original purchase, arising from unfulfilled promises or otherwise, payment will be instantly demanded from the new-comers, and should they refuse it they will be turned off the disputed ground quite as unceremoniously in the North as they have unfortunately been in the South. The class I speak of, the new derivative purchasers, being perfectly innocent of any error in the contract, and likely to consider a title springing from, a Crown grant as an ample ground of pertinacious holding, either mischief will ensue to the settlers if the Natives be strong, or if they be weak or isolated the Natives will suffer injustice.

The same considerations also should, I think, be borne in mind whenever His Excellency is pleased to enlarge any of the awards that I have made or shall make; for, in addition to the payment and other matters proved by evidence, I have frequently deemed it necessary to regulate the amount of the grant recommended by the quantity of land which, making fair allowance for the claims of opposing Native rights, it appeared probable to me that the sellers were clearly free to dispose of.

I have, &c.,

Edward L. Godfrey,

To the Hon. the Colonial Secretary.