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



The 20th clause of the Act of 1867 provides that "it shall be the duty of the Court in every case whatever, in which certificate of title is ordered, to inquire and take evidence as to the propriety of placing restrictions on the alienability of the land."

page 47

The letter of Mr. Fenton of the 3rd October, 1870, shows how difficult it is for the Court to ascertain what "it is the interest or the wish of the parties concerned to keep concealed." The Natives themselves cannot be depended on. Sometimes, as in the case of Henry Tomoana and others, they wish to put large tracts of land for ever out of the reach of Europeans which are not necessary for their own wants. On the other hand, Mr. Mackay, in a letter to the Auckland Evening News of April, 1871, states that "Te Hira was so embittered against the Court and Government, on account of the reservation of the Waihi Block that had been granted to him, that he stopped the Tauranga mail in consequence."

There has been no fear hitherto of the Natives as a body denuding themselves of too much land. There are still 11,000,000 or 12,000,000 acres in the North Island in the hands of the Natives, and 600,000 acres have already been made inalienable by the Native Land Court, and a great deal of this reserve is of superior quality. The Maoris have always been loth to part with their fertile land, and it is chiefly by confiscation that we have obtained any large tracts of really good land.

Judge Maning states in his report of 24th June, 1877, that "the average value of alienable land may be 5s an acre, but that what the Natives have made inalienable is worth at least five times as much." He adds that "at Hokianga not twenty acres of first-rate land has been sold, and that consequently, in that large and fertile district, there is not one settler engaged in farming, or who has land capable of being cultivated properly." Even in the Napier District, where so much land has been sold, at least 500,000 acres are still in the hands of the Natives. But, as before stated, there are cases, and not only in Napier, but in other places, where Native chiefs have been almost pauperized, having in their improvidence and extravagance made away with the greater part of their landed interests. And it is necessary that the spread of such an evil should be checked, but this is more the duty and within the sphere of the Commissioner or Trustee of Native Reserves than of the Judges of the Court.

It is impossible to obtain from the Natives any definite opinion as to the minimum quantity of land that should be reserved for each individual, and it must depend much on its quality and locality. But it would be no bad rule to lay down that each Maori chief should have amply sufficient to maintain himself like an English gentleman, supposing him to put forth the necessary industry and energy for its cultivation.

Whether it would be to the advantage of the whole body of Natives that they should have so much land reserved for their use as will eventually enable them to live in competence and ease, without exertion or stimulus to healthy industry; whether it is for their interests that the reserves should be scattered over the country, so that they might dwell amongst the colonists; or whether, as has been advocated by many of those most interested in their welfare, they should be located by themselves in separate blocks or districts, and isolated as much as possible from contact with Europeans, are questions on which the most opposite views are held by those who are considered qualified to form opinions. But I am not invited to discuss them, though I would express my belief that the last plan would be most fatal to the race.

I would, however, draw attention to the assent generally expressed by the Natives whose opinions I have recorded, that it would be desirable to reserve a portion of the proceeds of all sales of lands for the benefit of the sellers and of their children. Dr. Shortland recommends that one-half the purchase-money should be so set apart. Sir George Grey proposed to give annuities to Native chiefs as part payment of their lands; and reserved payments have been provided for in many instances. Whatever money now comes into the hands of the Natives is almost invariably squandered and wasted (or worse), with little permanent or substantial advantage to the people. The extracts I have given in the appendix show that this has been the case from the earliest days of the colony, and I believe it remains the same to the present time—their money is generally spent before they receive it. If we are to save the Maori of the next generation, he must be educated, and enabled to take his place as a citizen of the colony. And are not the means of commencing this now within reach? Reserves may be made both in money and in land for the special purpose of education, and the subject is engaging the earnest attention of some of the people themselves. Many of the natives of India go to England to be educated, and return to their own country to be physicians, ministers of religion, and advocates; and it is now the policy of their Government to employ all that are qualified in the public departments. The Japanese and Chinese are seeking knowledge and education amongst the whites. The North American Indian and the Australian may be incapable of melioration; but are not the Maoris as intelligent and as capable of high education as any nation in the world?