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

Proceedings of Governor Fitzroy

Proceedings of Governor Fitzroy.

  • 43. The delivery of Mr. Spain's judgment caused a great excitement among the Natives, and numbers of them appealed at once to the Governor. In particular, Wiremu Kingi, who was on the spot at the time, wrote a letter on the 8th June, the day of the judgment, to which I beg to call your Grace's attention. He there declares that not a single man of the Ngatiawa Tribe received payment from the New Zealand Company, but only men of the Puketapu and Ngamotu Tribes. This would be false, even if there were any foundation for the distinction attempted to be drawn between the Ngatiawa and the Puketapu and Ngamotu people; but there is no manner of doubt that these were hapus or families of the Ngatiawa equally with the Manukorihi branch to which Kingi himself belongs. I shall by-and-by have to remark on the significant fact that Wiremu Kingi, though present at the time, asserted no claim whatever before Commissioner Spain.
  • 44. Immediately on receiving the remonstrances of which I have spoken, Governor Fitzroy decided on going himself to Taranaki, and meanwhile sent down Protectors McLean and Forsaith, with the Rev. Mr. Whiteley, to prepare his way with the Natives. These gentlemen arrived overland almost simultaneously with the Governor, who held his inquiry at New Plymouth on the 3rd of August, 1844. page 35The Waitara Natives, by that time numbering about two hundred and fifty, were with difficulty persuaded to attend the Governor at all, and only did so on seeing that the Waikato chief Te Pakaru, whom Mr. Whiteley had brought down to assist in settling the question, instantly complied with the summons. This was a signal mark of the respect with which we are told that chief was treated by the Ngatiawa people as one of their conquerors.
  • 45. I beg leave to request your Grace's perusal of the report of the proceedings at that inquiry, which was published by authority in the Native language after the manuscript had been corrected in English by Governor Fitzroy himself. The following extracts, however, clearly state the principles on which the Governor proceeded: "I have no, wish to fight," said the Governor. "One great work I have to do; it is this: I will not permit one man to behave ill to another….. My work is this: to carefully settle the question about the land; and I will arrange it thus: I will not consent to the pakehas being expelled; the matter must be left with me. I will not agree to your molesting the pakehas, nor will I allow the pakehas to molest you. I will insist upon quiet being maintained. If you do not listen I will bring soldiers, that quiet may be kept….. Now, this is the Governor's opinion: that all the Natives at Taranaki should go to their teachers or to the Protector of the district who lives among them, and state the names of their places; and the Protector will write down the names of the owners and their estates, whether belonging to man, woman, or child. And if such owner agrees to sell his place on reasonable terms it will be purchased and he will receive payment….. Mr. McLean has been left by the Governor as a Protector for you; he will arrange about your lands. Be kind to him and attentive to what he says; and point out your respective possessions correctly; do not quarrel; do not say, 'All this is mine; all that belongs to me;' but mark it out quietly, and do not encroach on any other person's possession, but let every man point out his own. Do you ask why we are thus to take down the names of your places? It is to prevent future mistakes. You have heard that no land will be taken unjustly. If you sell it to the Europeans, well; but you must be careful each to sell his own property, and then he will receive the payment himself."
  • 46. Tour Grace will observe that in this manifesto Governor Fitzroy, first, required that the existing disputes should cease; second, distinctly recognized the individual right to sell; and, third, expressly promised to purchase the land of any individuals willing to dispose of their rights.
  • 47. In order that these rights might be ascertained, forms were prepared of schedules to be filled up by the claimants, and inquiries were at once set on foot among the various sections of the tribe. Having so far quieted the prevailing excitement, Governor Fitzroy returned to Auckland, promising to return in two months and make a final settlement of the dispute. The result of these inquiries was not encouraging. At Waitara Mr. McLean found the Natives still resolved not to sell; and, indeed, he admits that they did not consider themselves empowered to negotiate without the consent of several absentee chiefs still residing at Kapiti, who owned the greater portion of the land.
  • 48. In November, 1844, the Governor returned, as he had promised, to give his final decision. Certain proposals, made jointly by Protector McLean, Protector Forsaith, and the Rev. Mr. Whiteley, were submitted to His Excellency and adopted by him as the basis of that decision. In Mr. Forsaith's report of the transaction dated 23rd November, he distinctly says: "These suggestions have been so far approved by His Excellency that his decision has been based upon the general principles they embody: the modifications required in their practical application to the existing dispute will doubtless be made fully apparent in the more detailed report of Mr. McLean."
  • 49. I beg your Grace's special attention to the following extracts from those proposals: "Let a block of land be marked out, bounded on the south by the Sugarloaves, and on the north by the Waiwhakaiho River, running back as far as the Company's surveys have been extended, or still further inland if mutually agreeable, which would comprise an area of 7,150 acres….. Let a definite sum be fixed as a fair and equitable price for this block, at a certain rate per acre; from which deduct the amount of payment which any of the present claimants may have received from the Company, the unpaid resident Natives receiving their proportionate shares, and the residue lodged in trust for the absentees, who should have notice that, unless their claims were preferred and substantiated within a given period (say twelve months), they would be considered forfeited. Such award should be final and absolute."
  • 50. It is then quite clear that in these decisions, as in the previous proceedings of Governor Hobson, neither the tribal right of the Ngatiawa, nor any "seignorial right," nor any chieftain right to forbid a sale, was recognized by Governor Fitzroy; but that, on the contrary, he, in accordance with his pledge two months before, admitted the individual right of ownership; which, however, was hardly acknowledged in the proposed block. Seven thousand acres were to be laid off, whether the absentee claimants were willing to sell or not; a price per acre was to be fixed by the Government, whether the Natives agreed to it or not; and the absentee owners were to come in and prove their claims in twelve mouths or have them absolutely and finally forfeited. It is material to observe that Governor Fitzroy professed to admit the rights of the Ngatiawa "in all their integrity;" and we have in these decisions conclusive evidence of what he considered those rights to be. It is true that the proposals were specific only as respected the block between the Sugarloaves and the Waiwhakaiho, a river about five miles north of them; but tha country was just as much part of the ancient possession of the Ngatiawa as the Waitara, and what was justice in one case would have been justice in the other.
  • 51. I shall presently show that the principle here laid down by Governor Fitzroy in the first Government purchase was exactly followed by Governor Grey; and I beg leave to remark that, in allowing Te Teira and his people to sell their own land at Waitara, I did no more at Waitara in 1860 than Governor Fitzroy thought it consistent with the Ngatiawa rights to do at New Plymouth in 1844, and had expressly pledged himself should be done.