NORTHERN MAORI LANDS.
COMMISSION'S FINAL REPORT.
EUROPEAN AND NATIVE SETTLEMENT.
LARGE AREAS AVAILABLE
(By TclegrapH-r-p-MB Association.)
WELLINGTON, Wednesday. The legislation on the Statute Book though it urgently requires consolidation and slight amendment to harmonise conflicting details, is sufficient to settle the native laiyls of the North Island declares the Native Land Commision in its final report to the Government. The Legislature, it continues, has armed various departments of the State and Government with ample powers, and what is required is prompt and efficient administra-
The report goes on to "state the difficulties which surround the process of securing partition orders from the Native Land Court, and points out that unless the State renders liberal assistance in advancing the cost of these preliminaries and ill providing experts, the settlement of the large area covered by the Commission's recommendations will be seriously delayed, and the purpose of the Legislature defeated. There are 4(18.752 acres of papatupu land in the North Island, the titles to which have not been determined by a competent tribunal. At this advanced stage of the history of New Zealand, the Commissioner states, there should not be any such thing as papatupu land. If the" energies of the Native Land Court and resources of the Native Department were directed more to these virgin districts .intl less to more settled portions of the North Island, settlement would extend more rapidly and with greater benefits to the Dominion.
The report goes on to mention that the business created by various •'washingup Acts" had disorganised the sittings of the Native Land Court, nnd until regular circuits are established it appears to the Commission thai the work of these Courts cannot be properly and effectively organised. Judges would, in the Commission's opinion, be relieved of much of the routine work (in which is included the majority of succession claims) if registrars of court were appointed sub-commis-sioners for the purpose of dealing with succession cases, claims for adoption, and the like. The Native Land Court Bench should be as far as possible recruited from registrars of Court, men who by their experience and training are familiar with 'lie office. "At present." says the report, "much of the Covrt work is- behind band, because of th< inexperience of somi of the judges, or of the. necessities of travel, so that the only record for months of an important order ma}" be a brief entry in tbe minute book."
The Commission estimates the amount of land owned by Maori people in the North Island to be 7.405.000 ncres, while the area which' came under the scope of its inquiry totalled 2.791.100 acres. At the outset it a pen red to the Commission that the Wellington and Taranaki provinces (except Upper Wanganui). and the southern portion of Hawke's Bay, were most favourably situated with regard to settlement of native lands, aud that as most valuable lands were efficiently occupied, these districts did not present features of urgency possessed by the Auckland province, to which, consequently, most time nnd labour were expended.
In all. 42 reports have been presented, tbe result of inquiries being as follows: — Recommended for general settlement. fip(!.2fio acrps; recommended for Maori occupation. 5f!7.470: subject to special recommendation. 477.L'!7-. grand total, 2.040.876. In addition, there are 275,256 acres subject to timber agreements, and other leases validated by Parliament, which should be added to the total of lauds recommended for European settlement. NEED FOR CONSOLIDATION. In advocating the consolidating of sixty different statutes containing the law in regard to native lands, the Commission's report points out that at every stage of revision, questions of policy await the decision of the Government and Parliament. To deal with only one Department—that concerned with the investigation and determination of titles, rules in regard to succession, and effects of wills and adoption, needs revision.
"In cases of intestacy, is the estate to go indiscriminately to the next of kin. or should there be an equable distribution according to value of the inheritance nnd the number of successors?" We have known of a case where an interest of 20 acres leased at an annual rental of (id per acre was awarded to 4.-" successors from whose first year's rent the sum of 7/G was deducted for the order and swearing fee. As years pn on ea-cs of this kind must multiply, for the movements of the Maori people are bringing about an intermixture of tribes, a widening of kinship, and. therefore, an extension of area of search for next-of-kin. A policy of individualization or of consolidation of interests by exchanges may be ignominiously defeated by conservative adherence to the present Native Land Court custom of succession. The report suggests that a consolidating measure would be valuable as an efTort to take stock of the progress made along many lines up to the present. Supporters of rival policies will probably find that experience of years has produced a workable compro-
The report repeats the previous observation of the Commission, that of paramount consideration, the encouragement and training of Maoris to become in-du-triotts settlers, and that, in dealing with their remaining lands, thp settleincut nf the Maoris should be the first consideration.
! TAXATION OF XATTVE LAXD. Complaints in regard lo the taxation j j of native land were heard by the Com-; j mission, natives statins: that there were j instances where land tax absorbed more; I than half the rent of the land leased. I The Commission state? that it appears • thai if the interest of each individual Maori were assessed and the usual exemptions allowed, most of the Maori land under lease would not be liable to . land tax at all. A concession of one- : hnlf seemed to lie no concession at all. It was a mistake to ?uppo.=e that the present law gives to the Maori any advantape over his European neighbour ] so far as lands under lease are eoncerneil, nnd it should be remembered that ' move than one-half of the Maori lands are now under lease. As for local rating, the Commission is of opinion that . the law as at present administered, does i not seem unfair except in rare cases. "The Maoris," states the report, "are realising more and more that they- must come under the general local taxation of the local bodies under whose jurisdiction they reside, and that, in order to enable them to pay taxes, they must utilise their lands or alienate them to those capable of utilising the same. We ! are of opinion that, if the Legislature j had in the past devoted more attention
to making the Maori an, efficient farmer and settler, the problem of local and general taxation would long ago have been solved."
AREAS AVAILABLE FOR SETTLEMENT. CBy Telegraph.— Special to "Star.") WELLINGTON, this day. In its report to the Government upon the Native Lands of the Piako County, the Native Land Commission recommends that 27,126 acres be set aside for Maori occupation and 300 acres for genral settlement by sale, 28,332 acres being already leased. These lands comprise a portion of the estate owned by the Ngatihana and kindred tribes tinder the leadership of Tupu Taingakawa te Waharoa, a son of Wiremu Tamehana, who was a chief of great renown fifty years ago. Taingakawa's people also own land in Raglan County. "A considerable area, held by them," states tlie report, "is not used, and it is only of late that they have taken to any extensive farming. There seems now, however, to be aroused among them a spirit of enthusiasm for farming operations, and during the past twelve months a considerable area has been cleared' and made ready for agriculture. We were impressed, however, through the Waikato with the necessity of agricultural intsructors being sent to the ha pus, if it is desired that they should become efficient farmers. We have in various reports brought this matter before your Excellency, but as yet we have' not heard of any instructors being appointed. It is, in our opinion, vain to expect that the Maoris can become efficient settlers if they do not receive agricultural instruction and guidance. Large sums of money are being spent to educate and direct Thrropean farmers in their farming operations; there is much les3 need of such expenditure being incurred than of taking steps to train the Maoris to become industrial and agricultural settlers."
Reports of the Commission upon Maori lands in Manukau, Waikato. Thames, Ohinemuri, Kavvhia, Waitomo, and West Taupo Counties show that the following areas are regarded by the Commission as available for general settlement:—Manukau, B.SOO acres; Waikato, 4,404 acres; Thames, 5,900 acres; Ohinemuri. 13.000 acres; Kawhia. 3,025 acres; Waitomo. 10,964 acres; West Taupo. 100,524 acres.
Blocks or parts of blocks are marked in the schedule as recommended for sale for "mama." It was represented to the Commission that the proceeds of the sale of these lands should be held in trust, so as to form a fund' for the purchase of lands at Taupiri and Ngaruawahia. which places wore from the earliest times associated with the mana and prestige of the Waikato tribes.
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