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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 Sir George Grey

Proceedings of Governor Sir George Grey.

  • 52. The decision come to by Governor Fitzroy did not result in a cessation of disputes. The Government had to accept a block half the size originally fixed. The Ngatiawa chief Moturoa, from Wellington, put in a claim to Borne country, which was claimed by another section of the tribe; this page 36section claimed part of the payment which another branch of the tribe was to receive; the claimants flew to arms, and blood was all but shed. A striking account of these occurrences, and of the condition to which the right of chieftainship had been degraded in this broken and scattered tribe, is given by Mr. McLean in his official report of 17th December, 1844.
  • 53. Soon afterwards, Wiremu Kingi, who had returned to his place at Waikanae, announced his intention of returning to Waitara with his people, and offered to sell Waikanae to the Government. The proposal was discouraged by the Superintendent of the Southern Division and by the District Protector, who reported that "their claim was of a doubtful character; that the whole of the tribe had not consented to remove, as it was still uncertain whether the Ngatimaniapoto and Waikato would allow them to resume the territories they were many years ago obliged to surrender; and lastly, but particularly, that Te Rauparaha desired him not to recommend their claims as valid." The proposal was referred to Governor Fitzroy, who minuted upon it "Read.—R. F., 30th October, 1845," but does not appear to have given any directions upon it.
  • 54. In the meantime the Governor had, in a memorandum to the Secretary of State, briefly reported his disallowance of Mr. Spain's award. The information he gave was not satisfactory to Mr. Gladstone, then Colonial Secretary, who sent out instructions to Governor Grey to endeavour to give effect to the award unless he should have seen reason to believe that its reversal was a wise and just measure.
  • 55. The Native insurrection of 1846, in which it is only just to say that Wiremu Kingi bore arms on our side, had interrupted his plans for returning to Waitara; but upon peace being made they were revived, and he accompanied Sir George Grey in the visit which His Excellency paid to New Plymouth in February, 1847, with the special object of settling the land question.
  • 56. On the 1st and 2nd March the Governor held meetings with the Ngatiawa chiefs, and announced his decision. The principle of it was identical with that adopted by Governor Fitzroy. The following extract from his despatch of the 2nd March, 1847, is submitted to your Grace, in which you will find that Sir George Grey expressly says his plan was "in fulfilment of the promises of his predecessor:" "Upon taking a review of the whole of these circumstances, together with our isolated and weak position in this portion of New Zealand, the only arrangement I thought could be advantageously made was, to acquaint the Natives that I should order, in the first place, that the most ample reserves for their present and future wants should be marked off for the resident Natives, as well as for those who were likely to return to Taranaki; but that the remaining portion of the country in that district should be resumed for the Crown, and for the use of the Europeans; that, in the fulfilment of the promises made by my predecessor, the value of the resumed land, in its wild and defenceless state, should be assessed by a Commissioner, and that a Court should then be appointed to inquire into the Native titles to the whole, or portions of the district so resumed; and that those Natives who established valid claims to any parts of it should receive the corresponding portions of the payment to which they would be entitled. But very few of the Natives seemed disposed to assent to this arrangement; but they distinctly understood that it was my intention to enforce it."
  • 57. And the following extracts from his instructions to Mr. McLean at the same time show the precise mode in which the Governor meant the plan to be carried out: "It is proposed to evade, in as far as practicable, the various difficulties which have arisen under these conflicting circumstances, by in the first place reserving to the several tribes who claim land in this district tracts which will amply suffice for their present and future wants; and, secondly, resuming the remaining portion of the district for the European population; and, when the extent of the land so resumed has been ascertained, to determine what price shall be paid to the Natives for it; this amount not to be paid at once, but in annual instalments extending over a period of three or four years, at the end of which time it may be calculated that the lands reserved for the Natives will have become so valuable as to yield them some income, in addition to the produce raised from those portions of them which they cultivate. If possible, the total amount of land resumed for the Europeans should be from sixty to seventy thousand acres. A grant of this tract of land will then be offered by the Government to the Company. The price paid for any portion of land should not, under any circumstances, exceed 1s. 6d. per acre, and the average price should be below this amount. The greatest economy on this subject is necessary. This arrangement should be carried out, in the first instance, with those parties who have given their assent to it, including the Natives who have offered a tract of land for sale to the south of the Sugarloaves. Where land without the block awarded by Mr. Spain is now acquired, and required for immediate use by the Company's settlers, sections must be surveyed for them. Those Natives who refuse to assent to this arrangement must distinctly understand that the Government do not admit that they are the true owners of the land they have recently thought proper to occupy."
  • 58. At first the Ngatiawa chiefs resisted this decision, but shortly afterwards it scems Governor Grey had reason to believe that Wiremu Kingi meant to submit, for he informed the Secretary of State that he had ascertained that "the whole of the Ngatiawa Tribe, with the exception of one family of it, the Puketapu, had assented to the arrangement, and that several European settlers had already been put in possession of their lands,"
  • 59. I have thus shown that, as in the proceedings of Governor Hobson and Governor Fitzroy, neither the tribal right in the Ngatiawa, nor any "seignorial right," nor any chieftain's right to forbid a sale, was admitted at Taranaki by Sir George Grey, and that in the arrangement he proposed he intended to fulfil the promises made by his predecessor. But Sir George Grey certainly went a step farther than Governor Fitzroy; he refused to recognize, as a matter of right, either tribal right or individual ownership. Eeserves were to be laid off for the Natives, the residue of the land was to be resumed by the Crown for the European settlers, a price per acre was to be fixed (not higher than Is. 6d. per acre), and those Natives who did not choose to come into the arrangement were distinctly warned they would not be admitted to be the rightful owners of the soil at all. I beg leave once more respectfully to remind your Grace that, in simply allowing Te Teira and his people to sell their own land, I did no more at Waitara in 1860 than Governor Fitzroy thought it consistent with the Ngatiawa rights to do in respect of New Plymouth in 1844, and than Governor Grey thought it consistent with the same rights to do in respect of the whole boundaries awarded by Commissioner Spain.