Report on Reserves made by the New Zealand Company in its Settlement in the Province of
One of the principles laid down by this New Zealand Company in founding its past settlements in New Zealand was that of "reserving out of every purchase of land from the Natives a portion of the territory ceded, equal to one-tenth of the whole, and to hold the same in trust for the benefit of the chief families of the ceding tribes. The Company did not propose to take the reserves for the Native owners in large blocks, as it has been the practice to make for the Indians in North America, because that plan tends to impede settlement, and to encourage savages to continue barbarous, living apart from the civilized community; but the Company's reserves were to be made in the same way as if the reserved lands had been actual purchases made of the Company by the Natives. Accordingly, out of 1,100 sections or 110,000 acres, which the Company offered to the public at the preliminary sales of land in the first settlements, 110 sections (11,610 acres), which were reserved for the Native chiefs, were appropriated according to an order of choice determined by ballot in the same way as the priority of choice was determined among the purchases in general." (See instructions from the directors of the Company to Mr. Halswell, 10th October, 1840.)
Under such land orders and orders of choice, Captain Smith, the New Zealand Company's principal surveyor, selected on behalf of the Natives sections in the first districts thrown open. After his resignation this duty of selecting devolved upon Mr. Halswell, who was appointed by the Company's Commissioners for the management of Native reserves, and subsequently on Mr. St. Hill.
In the selections made by Captain Smith, both of town and country lands, he appears to have exercised the orders of choice as much as possible in selecting those lands which were in actual occupation. Thus the Native cultivations at Te Aro were selected as reserves: the same at Thorndon, Pitone, Ohiro, Kaiwharawhara, &c. These reserves were placed by the Company under the management of Mr. Halswell. Subsequently such management was transferred by Governor Hobson to the Bishop of New Zealand and the Chief Justice, from whom it passed to Mr. St. Hill, Colonel McCleverty, Mr. D. Wakefield, &c., in whose hands it remained until the passing of the Native Reserves Act of 1856. Their jurisdiction extended over all the tenths, both town and country.
On Colonel McCleverty making the final awards of settlement of outstanding claims and disputes between the Company and the Natives, compensation in land was given to individual tribes and hapus, on condition of their relinquishing all claims to former cultivations made on lands purchased from the Company by European settlers. These awards consisted partly of unselected lands, which was the property of the Company, and partly of some of the tenths before mentioned.
These lands are set forth and secured to the Natives by deeds executed between Colonel McCleverty (with the sanction of the Governor) and the Natives. Over these the Commissioners, under the Native Reserves Act of 1856, have no control or jurisdiction, according to a decision given by Mr. Whitaker when Attorney-General; but the legal status of these reserves (Colonel McCleverty's) appears involved in doubt—i.e., whether they are considered as Native lands over which the Crown has waived the extinction of title, and can be treated by the Natives as such. It is, however, worthy of notice that the Government, having in some instances actually purchased lands of this class from the Natives; have tacitly admitted their title to be free from the trammels of any prior extinction. These tenths are excluded in the grant from the Crown to the Company.
In the years 1851 and 1853 all of the Native reserves on Thorndon (with the exception of about one-eighth of an acre) which had not been previously dealt with by Colonel McCleverty, or included in Tod's grant, were granted by Sir George Grey as endowments for hospital and college and grammar-school purposes, "for the relief of all classes of our subjects," and to such grammar school are to be admitted "all classes and races of our subjects inhabiting New Zealand."
The original reserves in the different districts were tabulated as follow, in a return furnished by Mr. Beere, Principal Surveyor, to Mr. G. Clarke, Protector of Aborigines, 31st January, 1844: 110 town acres, representing tenths of 1,100 acres of which the Town of Wellington consists. 3,400 acres out of 44,100 acres of country lands; but subsequently further Native-reserve selections were made, increasing the above to 4,200 acres.
The Porirua purchase in dispute between the Company and the Natives was finally settled by Colonel McCleverty in 1847, and the reserves previously selected as such for the Natives were either retained, with other lands, or exchanged for lands selected by purchasers. These reserves have been hitherto dealt with by the Natives, except in cases where they have been brought under the Native Reserves Act by assent.
The Whanganui reserves originally set apart by the New Zealand Company were, it appears, amalgamated (or thrown up in lieu of other lands taken for the purpose) at the final, completion of the Whanganui purchase by Mr. McLean in, May, 1848.
The Company's purchase at Manawatu (South Bank) having been ignored by the, Crown, I will only briefly notice that 14,900 acres were selected by purchasers, and 4,800 acres selected as Native-reserve tenths. Those original selectors who have not reselected in other settlements have a preemptive right not only in this block, but, as it appears from the exemption clause in the Native Lands Act, in any part of the land described in the schedule. Only 1,700 acres are required for this purpose by resident owners, and 11,000 by absentees.