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

Mr. Commissioner Kemp to the Assistant Under-Secretary, Native Department

Mr. Commissioner Kemp to the Assistant Under-Secretary, Native Department.

Wairarapa.Reporting the Payment of £2,000 on account of the Five-per-Cents due. Wellington, 16th November, 1870.


I have the honour to make the following report for the information of the Hon. the Native Minister, in reference to the payment of the sum of £2,000 on account of 5-per-cents due to the Natives of Wairarapa:—

1.Having, through you, received Mr. McLean's instructions on the 21st of October, I started from here on the 22nd, and, after a most unfavourable journey, arrived at Greytown on the evening of the same day.
2.Notices having been already sent round by the chief Ngairo, at Mr. McLean's request, the Natives began to assemble on Monday, the 24th, but it was not until the 28th that the Natives from the coast arrived; and, after giving them a day's rest, the meeting was formally opened on Saturday, the 29th, the Town Hall having been engaged for the occasion.
3.In the interval, however, I had held several important semi-official conversations with the different claimants interested, and in this way had an opportunity of ascertaining their opinions and testing their views with reference to the long-looked-for payment.
4.The meeting having been formally opened by Mr. Wardell, who, as Resident Magistrate of the district, presided, I availed myself of this early introduction to bring before the chiefs and people generally the important fact that the "koha," introduced by Mr. McLean into some of the early land purchases, was a term embracing many advantages which he then contemplated, and, agreeably with the interpretation afforded by their own language, really implied other benefits accruing from or arising out of the arrangements which had then been made between the Government and themselves, and that under these circumstances they were now invited to take a more enlarged view of the measure, and not to confine it too closely to the mere money payment. I was led to adopt this course from the fact that their hopes in the latter case would very likely meet with some disappointment; and I added, in support of this assertion, that I had myself, after an absence of twenty years, returned to see these provisions in great part realized, and that they were, in common with their neighbours and friends, joint holders of property which otherwise must have remained a comparative wilderness and waste. These few remarks were accepted by them in good spirit, and I believed paved the way to a friendly negotiation.
5.The sittings were resumed from day to day until Wednesday, the 2nd, when, after several addresses on the part of the chiefs, it was unanimously agreed to appoint a select committee to sit on the evening of the same day, with a view to bring the matter to a final settlement.page 5
6.In the course of the debates I explained to them the views of the Government generally, and that for the future it was proposed to make the payments as they accrued, every three or five years, and in this way to supply them with a simple and intelligible return of what might become due on each block; that up to the 30th June, 1869, a considerable sum had accumulated, but that from that amount certain sums had to be deducted on account of mills, schools, &c., intended in the first instance for their common benefit, but which had unfortunately proved to be, in a great measure, and from many unforeseen causes, a comparative failure, thus leaving in their favour a balance of something over £2,000.
7.The objection raised to the deduction of this amount was very strong indeed, especially with regard to the amount charged against the mills, which they protested against on the ground that they were always understood to have been gifts from the Government, and as an especial acknowledgement for the willing manner in which, at the request of Sir George Grey, they had, while enjoying a large annual rental, relinquished that income for the public good, and transferred the land to the hands of the Crown.
8.The Committee met at 7 p.m. by appointment, and, after a long but earnest discussion, it was at length decided to propose that the sum of £2,000 be accepted, on the understanding that simple and approximate returns be furnished to them of the lands sold in each block to the 30th June, 1869.
9.This resolution on the part of the chiefs having been communicated to the Hon. the Native Minister on the day succeeding, it was approved, and the money received at Featherston on Saturday, the 5th.
10.On Monday, the 7th, the Natives all assembled in the Town Hall, when it was announced that the money had arrived, and that it would now devolve upon the people as a body to say by whom, as representing the several blocks, the different amounts were to be received, bearing in mind at the same time that many of the original sellers have died, and that others, perhaps, had left the district. This arrangement occupied the remainder of the day, and on Tuesday morning, by adjournment, the parties appointed to receive the money came forward in the presence of the people and signed the receipts, one small amount for £100, on account of Masterton, alone remaining. This was done on the day after, and the arrangements finally completed.
11.Looking at the length of time that had elapsed; the interval in the dates of some of the deeds; the complication of returns; the payments made at different times in advance, without reference to any particular block; the belief of the Natives that a very much larger amount was really due out of the land sales: these all contributed to render the possibility of satisfying the whole of the claimants a somewhat difficult and onerous duty. In this, however, I think we have succeeded, and it is only due to the chiefs to say that, as soon as the annoyance and irritation consequent upon finding that the amount had fallen so far short of their expectations had subsided, they united with me in doing their share of the work, by seeing that the division and subdivision was fairly and equitably carried out. To Mr. Wardell I am exceedingly indebted, not only for his advice and co-operation throughout, but for the local knowledge he was so well able to supply (socially and politically as bearing on the question), without which the apportionment of the money might have led to annoyance and discord among the Natives. I trust, therefore, that the arrangements thus made will, as a whole and in detail, meet with the Native Minister's approval.
12.Finally, the Natives urge that for the future no advances whatever may be made to any one on account of this fund, and that the time for any future payments may be so fixed at Greytown and Masterton as to come within the season when a better supply of food can be obtained, without cost or inconvenience to Government or themselves.

As this has been the largest meeting of the kind in this district since the foundation of the colony, it gives me satisfaction to report that no serious instance of disorder occurred, and I noticed with pleasure that the settlers and Natives seemed to be living united and in harmony with each other. I beg to attach herewith an abstract of the sums paid on each block, with receipts for the whole amount furnished from Wellington, all of which have been duly signed and witnessed.

I have, &c.,

H. T. Kemp.

H. Halse, Esq., Assistant Under-Secretary, Native Department.