Report of Commissioner of Native Reserves.
Province of Wellington.
During the interval between the date of Mr. Swainson's retirement from the Commissionership of Native Reserves in 1867, and my location in Wellington, last year, several disputes had arisen amongst page 86the Port Nicholson Natives interested in the reserves made by the New Zealand Company, and by Colonel McCleverty. These disputes,* which chiefly related to the appropriation of rents, have been settled in the following manner, viz.:—Section 12, Ohariu: The rent paid by Mr. France, £14 14s. a year, is to be divided equally between Paiura, Mete Kingi Paerahi, and Paratene. Section 13, Ohariu: Paratene is to have 25¼ acres for subsistence-land, and Mete Kingi is to have eleven acres. Sections 4 and 5, Porirua: The dividing boundary of these reserves has been adjusted by survey. By this, 71 acres 1 rood 20 perches, on the northern side of Section 5, becomes apportioned to Raiha Horomona.
The Reserve No. 84, in the Hutt Valley, has, in conformity with a purchasing clause in the lease, been sold to Mr. P. Cotter for £1,000. This land was purchased in 1855 by Sir George Grey, with public money, in order to supplement the reserves of the Ngatitama people of Kaiwharawhara, who have since, by instalments, repaid the money. The purchase-money was handed by Mr. Cotter to Wi Tamehana, Ihaia, and Taituha; T. E. Williams, Esq., being nominated to divide the money amongst the claimants.
The reserves at Makara, Nos. 22 and 24, comprising 200 acres, were, in 1862, let by two chiefs of the Ngatitama to a tenant, for a term of twenty-one years, on a yearly rental of £30. The title of the lessors did not appear to be clearly established, and the case was complicated by one of them having died intestate, and the other having disappeared from the district, and gone, it was alleged, into rebellion. The tenant, under the circumstances, withheld payment of the rent. At a meeting convened here on the 7th August last, of all the Natives interested in the land, it was decided that Harata, widow of Wi Pakata, one of the original lessors, should receive £10 a year, Paratene te Wheoro £5, and Rei te Wharau £5, yearly; and that, on due payment of arrears, the lease should be suffered to run its term.
The town sections at Te Aro, Nos. 1,031 and 1,082, have been let by public tender to Mr. Charles Swiney, for twenty-one years, from 11th October, 1872, at £2 2s. a year, the tenant to fence in within twelve months. These reserves lie at the extreme southern end of the town, as surveyed.
The Governor has consented to the sales of the following reserves (grants with limitations under Native Lands Acts)—viz., Taumata Whakapono, West, No. 89N, containing 944 acres, at Wairarapa, from Wi Tinitara te Kaewa, to James Gilligan for £300; Te Aro Pa, Wellington, Sections 1, 2, and 7, comprising 24 perches, from Hemi Parai to his Honour the Superintendent of Wellington, for £270; Te Aro Pa, Section 8, containing 20 perches, from Hemi Parai and Hori Ngapaka, to the Superintendent, for £70.
The Wellington and Masterton Railroad is surveyed through a number of Native reserves, chiefly those awarded by Colonel McCleverty. Some difficulty was experienced in causing the Native owners to comprehend a measure of compulsory land surrender for purposes of public works. Ultimately the sum of £55 an acre was agreed to between the valuators and the owners, as the rate to be paid for land in Sections Nos. 1, 2, 3, 16, and 20, Pitone. The area required was 11 acres 1 rood 39 perches, and the payment £632 3s. 2d. It was desirable that this sum should be invested in the purchase of other land for the benefit of the Natives; but as the occupants of the land taken showed damage to actual cultivations, loss of crop, and dispersion of stock, and as the Government, in the case of a McCleverty reserve, had no controlling power, the money was given without restriction to the Natives. To each Native whose name appeared on McCleverty's deed of award of 13th October, 1847, the sum of £30 2s. was given, and the Native Land Court was called on to determine as to the ownership of the interests of the deceased awardees. On the 12th February, 1873, the Court made orders in favour of twenty-three owners, and at a date previous to these negotiations had made an order in favour of other eight. The Natives interested agreed that all the derivative owners should "share and share alike," and the sum of £16 8s. 4d. was paid to each of twenty-two Natives. Possession of the land has been given up to the railroad authorities.
In 1864 the sum of £915 9s. 10d. was lent by the Government to the chief Te Manihera Rangitakaiwaho, of Greytown, in order to extricate him from his pecuniary difficulties. The money was advanced on the security of the Wharekaka Estate of 1,389 acres, the property of that chief. By the sales of sheep, in which a portion of the money lent was invested, and from the rental of the land, various sums were from time to time paid into the Treasury on account, and on the 12th March last I received from Te Manihera, and paid into the Public Account, the sum of £327 17s. 5d., by which the loan was recouped. The property was re-leased to Te Manihera.
The reserves awarded by Colonel McCleverty to the Port Nicholson Natives have been hitherto in their own management. The owners now find that some of the lands might be made more productive, and the rents of other portions more satisfactorily applied; they have therefore voluntarily placed the following lands with me for administration: 6th May, 1873.—Town of Wellington: Sections 13 and 15, Leach, tenant; Section 14, J. Fitchett, jun., tenant; Sections 37 and 39, J. Brown, tenant; Section 23, Wyngate, tenant; Sections 18, 20, 22, Mrs. Leach, tenant; Section 49, O'Connor, tenant; Section 45, J. Dransfield, tenant; Section 27 and 28, unlet. Town Belt, Te Aro: 41½ acres, Leach, tenant. Ohariu: Section 91, unlet; and Sections 7 and 8, R. Bould, tenant.
The decision of the Court of Appeal in Regina v. Fitzherbert declares that the lands known as the "tenth Native reserves" are legally demesne lands of the Crown, unencumbered with any trust. This cast a doubt on the status of a considerable number of estates here and at Nelson that are yielding a revenue for Native purposes. It has also prevented the letting of several reserves in Wellington and at Manawatu, for which tenders were received. While declaring the reserves to be the property of the Crown, the Court of Appeal indicated that there might exist a moral obligation towards the Natives in regard to an interest in the lands. There is no doubt that when the land was purchased of them the Natives were solemnly promised that these reserves should be made for their future benefit; and it is essential that faith should not be broken. A Bill has therefore been prepared to give by enactment a legal status as Native reserves to such of the lands as have not been granted.
Province of Auckland.
At the request of the Waikato Natives, who are again bringing their produce for sale to One-hunga, the Native hostelry or grain store at that place has been put into a habitable state, at an expense of £59. It had been unused by the Natives since the outbreak of the Waikato war.
The occupation by Mr. McIntosh of the building erected as an hospital at Mangonui has ceased, by which £10 8s. a year is lost until another tenant can be found.
The lease of the reserve No. 89, at St. George's Bay, now let for £13 a year to Mr. Blackett, expired in June, 1873. It is proposed to offer this land (6 acres 1 rood) in building allotments, by which a much larger rental than that heretofore received for it as pasturage land is expected to be obtained.
The Thames and Waikato Natives have placed in trust with Mr. Searancke, R.M., and myself, the following properties—viz., Maungatapu, on the Piako, 6,110 acres, by Te Raihe and others; and Te Au o Waikato, 8,560 acres, by Tuhakaraina and others. Applications have been received also from the undermentioned chiefs for me to undertake the management of their granted lands, viz.: From Kiriama Tauwhare and others: Peria, 8,020 acres. From Te Raihi and others: Hinuwera, 5,396 acres: Matamata, 5,468 acres. From Tu Whenua and others: Paritu, 24,229 acres.
The reserve, No. 72, of Section No. 1, Town of Tauranga, containing twenty-five perches, has been let to Mr. James Weir Greay, on a yearly rental of £7; a lease for twenty-one years to be given as soon as it can legally be done.
Province of Hawke's Bay.
Four hundred acres of the Pakowhai Estate, B1, No. 1, held in trust by Samuel Locke and Charles Heaphy, have been let for twenty-one years to Mr. Alexander McHardie, at a rental of £1 an acre per-annum for the first eleven years, and £1 10s. an acre per annum for the remainder of the term, Mr. McHardie to pay £1,000 of his rent in advance, receiving temporarily an allowance of 8 per cent. interest. This arrangement has been made at the request of the Natives beneficially interested. Four hundred and thirty-four acres, including the village, will remain reserved for purposes of cultivation and subsistence.
Account current to 30th June, 1873, is furnished herewith.
I have, &c.,
Commissioner of Native Reserves.
* I have stated the mode of settlement of these disputes minutely, as there are Natives interested, indirectly, in the reserves, who reside outside of the immediate district, and whose only means of becoming accurately informed on the subject will be by the official report.