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Maori Deeds of Old Private Land Purchases in New Zealand, From the Year 1815 to 1840, with Pre-Emptive and Other Claims

(5.) Payments given to Natives

(5.) Payments given to Natives.

This is one of the most curious features in the story of the claims. It appears that payments to the value of upwards of £95,000 were made by Europeans to Natives for the purchase of land. Yet this sum, though it includes all that can be ascertained with tolerable certainty, by no means represents the whole amount which was paid away. In many cases the consideration given to the Natives was not stated by the claimants, and will never be known; payments amounting in the whole to a large sum were wholly rejected by the investigating Commissioners as having been given to the Natives after Sir George Gipps's Proclamation of the 14th January, 1840; and another large sum never appeared at all, being the price given to original claimants by derivative purchasers from them. The amount of payments given in Old Land Claims was £88,373 17s. 10d.; in Pre-emptive Claims, £6,841 4s. 2d.: the two sums making together a total of £95,215 2s. Out of this total, the sumof£85,447 1s 6d. has been formally proved before various Commissioners to have been expended. A considerable proportionof this consisted of ready money or cattle; the residue comprised merchandise of different kinds. It will be remembered by all who are interested in the subject that the rule of the original Land Claims Ordinances of 1840 and 1841, repeated in the Act of 1856, was to estimate the value of goods given in barter for land at three times the selling price of such goods in. Sydney. This was by no means an extravagant allowance; on the contrary, it barely represented the real value. The first Commissioners' Instructions informed them that this multiplication by 3 was to include commission, freight, risks, presents, passage-money, charter of vessels, and every other kind of expense. If the amount of these charges, and especially the risk in those days, be taken into consideration, it will probably be allowed that trade was worth at least three times in New Zealand what it was worth in Sydney; perhaps, in the early years of the irregular settlement of Europeans in the North it may have been worth a great deal more. It is an essential point, of course, whether the Commissioners adopted a moderate scale as the standard of estimating Sydney prices; and it may safely be said that the scale they adopted was very fair. In the case of the Pre-emptive Claims no such multiplication was made; and the payments when given in goods are estimated at the actual value of those goods in the New Zealand market. On the whole, I have myself no doubt whatever that the sum of £95,215 above stated fairly represents the amount of money or money's worth which passed into the hands of the Natives in the purchase of land, exclusive of sums which cannot now be ascertained.

In addition to the payments given to the Natives, it must be remembered that the claimants incurred great expenses in proving their claims before the various Commissioners. The amount which the original claimants paid to Commissioners Godfrey, Richmond, and Spain, including the fees on the issue of grants, was £4,832 15s. 1d.; the amount paid by the pre-emptive claimants, including the assessment of 5s. an acre under Sir George Grey's "Minute" of August, 1847, was £2,520 8s. 5d.; and the amount paid by all classes of claimants under the operation of the Land Claims Acts of 1856-58 was £5,786 4s. 2d.: together amounting to the sum of £13,179 7s. 8d., to which must be added the value of the surveys effected at their cost, as will be referred to in the next section.

Taking the amount of payments toNatives, and the amount of fees and payments to the Commissioners, the total under these two heads reaches no less a sum than £108,394 9s. 8d. Averaging it over the whole area of the claims as surveyed, the rate per acre contrasts favourably with the payments made by the Crown in the acquisition of its territory, and shows that in fact the claimants paid more for extinguishing Native title than the Government did.