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

II. The Ngatiawa Title at Taranaki

II. The Ngatiawa Title at Taranaki.

  • 15. In order rightly to understand the position which the Governors of New Zealand have uniformly assumed in reference to the title of the Ngatiawa at Taranaki, it is necessary to remember that they were a conquered, broken, and scattered tribe, and that the fairest and most fertile country in New Zealand, their ancient inheritance, was a deserted wilderness at the time of the European colonization.
  • 16. About thirty years ago the great chief Te Rauparaha persuaded a large force of the Ngatiawa, Ngatiraukawa, and other tribes, to assist him in his wars with the original inhabitants of both shores of' Cook Strait. The Waikato Natives, taking advantage of their absence, suddenly invaded the Taranaki District, and took Pukerangiora, a large pa on the Waitara River (the same pa which there is now reason to think the insurgents intend to fortify and try to hold), capturing or destroying nearly two thousand of the inhabitants. They then attacked Ngamotu, near the present site of New Plymouth, but without success, and returned to their own country. They never repeated their attack, though they frequently threatened to do so; and the remnant of the Ngatiawa Tribe, finding themselves too weak to oppose effectually any renewed invasion from Waikato while their principal warriors were absent with Rauparaha, migrated with their women and children, and rejoined their relatives at Otaki, Port Nicholson, Queen Charlotte Sound, and other places, where they took possession of and cultivated the soil, and where their title was afterwards admitted, by reason of such occupation, against Rauparaha and others who claimed the land by right of conquest.
  • 17. Thus the Ngatiawa Tribe had either voluntarily migrated on conquering expeditions to other lands, or had left in dread of the Waikatos, or had been driven by force out of their ancient territory, and had completely abandoned it. When the first white men went there there were only sixty people living in the whole district north of the Sugarloaf Islands, and for a long time subsequent to 1840 they had not much more than a hundred acres in cultivation. In the expressive language of two of their chiefs, in a letter to the people of Taranaki, "All was quite deserted; the land, the sea, the streams and lakes, the forests, the rocks, were deserted; the food, the property, the work, were deserted; the dead and the sick were deserted; the landmarks were deserted."
  • 18. Now, when the British sovereignty was proclaimed in New Zealand, we found (notwithstanding the desolating wars which had taken place for years throughout the Islands) certain great tribes in the full possession of their tribal territories. Thus the Ngapuhi in the North, and the Waikato and Ngatimaniapoto in the centre and West Coast, held their ancient inheritance still; and, in our dealings with them since the Treaty of Waitangi, we have generally recognized not alone their tribal right in cases of sale, but the influence of their principal men in assenting to or preventing sales. No Government, for instance, would have thought of making a purchase at Ngapuhi, or at Waikato, in the teeth of the veto of great chiefs, such as Tamati Waka Nene and Potatau te Wherowhero. On the other hand there were a few tribes which had been so broken and scattered by conquest and otherwise that, with reference to them, the British Government has from the first neither recognized the tribal right in case of alienation, nor permitted the exercise of a veto on such alienation by the chiefs. Of these was the Ngatiawa of Taranaki.
  • 19. I do not propose to discuss the question whether the Government of this colony was right or wrong in denying to the Ngatiawa Tribe at Tarauaki the status which they would have recognized in unconquered tribes. It will be sufficient for me to show that they have done so in successive acts and decisions since the foundation of the colony, and that in the course I have pursued I have simply adhered to the principles and policy of my predecessors, Governor Hobson, Governor Fitzroy, and Governor Sir George Grey. I shall presently establish this, I cannot doubt, to the perfect satisfaction of your Grace.