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LAND WE LIVE IN.

NEW ZEALAND. I By Calliope. \ ~ f Mr Edward Jenks, author of "The 1 History of the Australian Colonies," says on page 167: "Long before any steps were taken by the Government to ■ recognise any claim England might j have to the islands, a casual and for f the most part disreputable settlement i of Europeans had taken place on the shores of the Bay of Islands on the : north-east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Here lived in halfpiratical, half-patriarchal fashion crews of shipwrecked sailors, whalers' crews, seal fishers, escaped convicts from Australia and other IshmaeJites from varii ous parts. Strange tales began to float [ across the Tasman Sea of the blood that was shed, of the cruelty that was practised, of the disputes with the f natives, and the English Crown had no I hold or control over the orgies carried I on. The calm assumption of ownership I set up by the Crown of England to the I whole land of Australia was not so J easily maintained in New Zealand. In t New Zealand the land belonged to the tribe, and the rights and privileges to certain lands and to certain areas were i widely and clearly recognised hv native [ custom in New Zealand. Many places were recognised as sacred on account of l the dead there buried or the deeds of i valor m war there performed, and in f others on account of the homes and ties J of the family, and these places—tapu—were often violated by Europeans, | which generally lead to some kind of trouble." t In the early part of ISI4, and the ' year before England was at deaththroes with Napoleon, the Rev. Samuel Marsden arrived in New Zealand in the brig Active. He founded a mission station and began his noble work, laying the foundation of the splendid work that was done by the earlv missiony . aries. The Maoris were and are a noble race, and if any trouble came later it was generally found that the I white men were in the wrong. The missionaries assisted to keep within the [ J 1 " 11 * 8 of a rough and ready kind of I law certain wild orgies that had been streaking the Bay of Islands red with crime for years. In Governor Macquarries time attempts had been made by the French to settle the islands.' Baron de Thierry and others formed a Land Company in Paris to.settle the country, but for various reasons non-success followed in the footsteps of the French attempt. Both England and France, at the date the first attempt was made were much too busy at home to give very careful attention to what was taking place sixteen thousand miles away. In "1825 Lord Durham and others formed a company in England to - exploit the lands of the country, and Captain Herd and some of the emi«mnts reached the colony in 1526. aPf 6 sefctlersr a t once began to get lalla, and trouble with the natives shortly after followed. The land being Tield in common by the tribe no one in" dividual was free to sell or give it away. First Steps in CclcnisatiCK.

The'real beginning of English occupation of New Zealand starts in 1833, the year Mr J. Busliby, an official appointed by the Colonial Office in London, arrived in the colony. He was to take up the duties of resident magistrate at the Bay of Islands, at that time the head and centre of most of the evil in the islands. He was not the Governor; that office was conducted "nominally by the Governor r.f Ne.w South Wales, and he very scon found that he could do very little, hi* authority being flouted by the wild characters that infested the settlement along the shores of the islands. Crime, according to the missionary records, was pretty widespread. The wonders of the islands, the fine pastoral lands, the beautiful waters, and the fine open plains of the South began to attract the notice of pastoralists from lb? neighboring continent, and numerous landgrabbers began to reach Xew Zealand. A Mr Charles, or William Charles, Wentworth set to work in approved fashion to acquire the whole of the South Island and also a nice little slice of some 200,000 acres of the North Island for a money payment of something less than £4OO. This was in the latter part of 1839 or the beginning of 1840. Si:- G. Gipps. who was at that date Governor of Xew South Wales, at once: disallowed the purchase, and Mr Went-' I worth brought his case before the courts, which found that the British (Government bad made Xew Zealand a dependency of the Crown in 1830 and that the natives as a legal result had . no right to sell their own lands! In I 1839 the New Zealand Company's set- \ tiers arrived. In this year, too. Governor Gipps, of New South Wales, declared the colony under the control and jurisdiction of New South Wales, and a little later ho appointed Cantaiii Hobson Lieutenant-Governor, who arrived in 1840. Some time before this the family of Mr Edward Gibbon Wakefield became associated with the islands, and though the company to which he belonged did not eet its charter till 18 n still the Now Zealand Land Comoanv began in 183!) to buv out the earlier crowd of landholders. In connection with these land transactions endless trouble and bloodshed was f.>r->doVm<xl to follow. In 1840, and shortly after his arrival. Governor Hobson had hands full. He had to put down the large increase of certain'crime and he had to check the exploitation of native land as much as possible. He succeeded in engineering the Treaty of Wa ; - tangi. by the t<n-ms of which Her Majesty became the great chief over all the lands of New Zealand. Tk- treaty was signed by 46 chiefs and about ;".()'■) inferior or petty chiefs of the Bay of Islands and surrounding districts. 'T!k> signing of this prec : ous~dr>o:im- ut took place on May 21. IS4O. and Governor Hobson proclaimed Nov, Zealand a Br' 1 - ish colony. Strange to sav. that treaty. coirceived in the spirit of a commercial jobj/really proved the shin-anchor of the ?<ii>ri people. The Maori said, "Oh, wegive only the shadow—we retain the substance!" Proprietary rights to the land had long been a custom of this strange people. Now that more is be-

ing known of the Polynesian races and of their customs, and now that ethnologists and anthropologists arc daily finding out more of their ancestry, we begin to have a glimmering idea that the tenacity of the Maoris by which they were enablod to hold much of their land came down to them from the Jews or some of the people who lived around the shores of the Persian Gulf, where now, it is said, the Polynesians originally came from. Governor Gipps, of New South AVales, passed an Act through the Parliament of the Mother State in 1840 to try and control the land-thieving and harpooning of the native lands. By this Act the intention was to nullify all lands purchased in New Zealand except under Government sanction. The New Zealand Land Company had already secured around the hills and flats of the beautiful harbor of Port Nicholson something like 110,000 acres. Although the Act may have checked it certainly did not prevent the land-grabbers from getting hold of the Maori lands. Governor Hobson, I believe, purchased the land from the natives where the city of Auckland now stands. This was about the year 1810, and during the same year the seat of Government was transferred from the Bay of Islands to Auckland, which was for many years the seat of Government thereafter.

An Independent Colony,

In 1840 the British Government granted a separation of the colony from the Mother State and made New Zealand an independent colony. Governor Hobson was made first Governor, and he had a Council composed of tho Colonial Treasurer, the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General and three senior J's.P. of the colony. The Governor had power to initiate legislation, and the Executive Council was composed of the three officials mentioned above. The original letters patent gave instructions to the Governor to map out the country and divide it into counties and districts. Land was to be sold at a uniform price, and one individual was to be allowed to hold one square miles only. There was also a provisions that intending emigrants might pay the purchase money for their selection in England and on arrival m the colony he allowed to select the ;uea specified in their land certificates. The three islands were known as New Ulster, New Minister and New Leinstor. The seat of Government was transferred to Wellington—Te Aro—in 1865, and doubtless one of the chief reasons why the city was built in the most unsuitable situation—right under the steep cliffs and on the rugged hills—was because the New Zealand Land Company had got hold of all the level land along the northern shores of the bay. A fine city might have been laid out where the miserable little Petone is to-day. The people of New Zealand might have had a beautiful capital, a well-laid out city; instead, they are and will be cursed for all time 'by the situation and the cramped-up nature of the locality that the then Government was forced to select.

Tho Land and the Law,

The famous New Zealand Laud and Colonisation Company was formed in London in 1839 and got its charter in 1841, having a.. nominal capital of £300,000 in £25 shares. The company was to receive from the Crown a free grant of one acre of land for every 5s expended in the work of colonisation. The company, right from the jump, was bent on making profits. They purchased right out the interests of a previous company which had been formed at Plymouth also for the avowed purposes of colonisation. Governor Hobson was induced by the agent of the company to allow somewhere about 2G0,000 acres, on top fof the 110.000 acres that had previously been allowed by Governor Gipps, to go through. At this time, too, the company was selling its land at 5s an acre, and as a consequence the Crown had to reduce the price of their land also. "When, however, the matter was reported to the Imperial Government the Mimstor-in-charge of the Colonial Department refused to sanction the reduction. It was imagined that the passing of the Crown Lands Act of 1840 had finally settled the selling price of all colonial lands at less than £1 an acre. The Wairau Massacre,

Governor Hobson, who had proved himself a good and fairly strong man, died at his post. While he lived he did his best to keep things from drifting into a complete muddle, but after his death matters did drift indeed. The Lieutenant-Governor, who was appointto conduct the affairs of the'voung colony, though a fairly strong' ma;i7 was not strong enough. ' Captain" Wakefield, acting as agent for' the Land Company, forced on the survey of a block of land that ho asserted had been legally purchased.by his company. The survey party was stopped from' poinoon with the work by the Chiefs Raupa" raha and Rangihaeta, who were backed up by the Maori residents and members of their tribes. .We can picture the scene almost in extenso—the arguing and bouncing of the chiefs, the yelling and dancing of the Maori' warriors, the jabbering and grinning of the children and the sedate silence of the old men and women as they unshed and hustled the surveyors' men off the land. 'A e can imagine one of the men, too, perhaps in jest, maybe in earnest, pointing his gun at the Maori chief's wife, and we can picture, too, his look or horror and pni;i ar. the woman fell, shot by an accident. The woman that Had been idiot was the wife of one chief ■ind the daughter of the other. In a moment a human .storm of passion, an/:er and resentment was let loose and 19 men were massacred. Captain WakeI'.eid among the number, in the twinkling ot an eye. The Government of the c-iy acted wisely by taking no action.

The men hail been entirely ; n the : wrong and the authorities knew it. Some time after this Governor Fitzroy issued a proclamation to the effect that land sold by the Crown was to bo at the rate of 10s an acre, but his vacillating policy in trying to maintain it gave the whole question away. In October, 1844, the Governor issued another proclamation substituting the one penny an acre, nominal fee, as an acknowledgement of the Crown's right to deal with land, known as the "penny an acre proclamation." The publication of this enactment will show to what a condition the land and settlement policy of the Government had got into.

The Coming of Crey.

In 1844 some authorities assert that the New Zealand Land Company held over 1,000,000 acres of picked land; others that they had settled the bulk and really only held 230,000 acres. Land grabbing, however, went serenely on and the Maoris began to cause much trouble. Governor Fitzroy had been defeated in March, 1845, and the following year, 1846, the British and colonials had turned the tables. About this time Governor Fitzroy was recalled and Captain G. Grey was sent out to set things in order. Governor Grey had a wonderful influence over the native races. His undaunted courage, his great coolness, his tact, combined with an unbending and resolute will, succeeded in restoring order and tranquillity where but a short time • previously had been disorder, discontent and racial strife. To this man New Zealand owes much, and had he been given a freer hand by the Imperial Government the British world to-day had owed a great deal more. (To be continued.)

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ME19100715.2.66

Bibliographic details

LAND WE LIVE IN., Mataura Ensign, 15 July 1910

Word Count
2,322

LAND WE LIVE IN. Mataura Ensign, 15 July 1910

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