THE CHATHAM ISLANDS.
It will be remembered that, about twelve months since, we copied into the Sydney Herald a number of,artiples,and paragraphs ,re.s,pectLqg the supposed cession ,of the CJfrajtham 'Islands, by, the New Zealand Company, to a Corap&ny formed at Hamburgh: and, althpugh ikjvjjs understood .that the transfer,of the islands,'and the consequent colonjza,tion Qf the klan,sssy persops from Germany, had M by $ome .'ro^fts been. prevented, the reason why ,the arrangement was, not completed W;as not understood. A parliamentary document, which has recehtly reached us from our London agent, enables :xis to explain the whole affair. The subject was first brought under the notice of Lord Stanley,on the 15tfi of October, 1841, immediately upon ,the accession of .the . Conservatives t© power, when Mr. Somes, ,the Chairman,,or Governor .as he .is called, ;of the New Zealand Company, informed his. Lordship of the Directors of the Company "being in treaty with certain parties .officially connected with,,Hatni»UTgh spxhtlxe -,qtKer firee .cities of
Germany, acting on behalf of a Colonization Company forming in that country, for the sale of the group of islands in the South Seas known by the name of the Chatham Islands, their property in which was acquired by bona fide purchase from the natives;" and that no claim to the sovereignty of the islands had ever been made by the British Government ; and that the islands were to all intents and purposes, a foreign state, ruled by native chiefs, who have the undoubted right to cede their sovereignty t» my foreign power they may think proper." ' The letter then states that the chief object of the directors was to give •' useful neighbours" to the settlements they had founded in New Zealand ; and that it was their intention to make it a condition of the transfer that "British subjects, with their ships and goods, shall at all times be placed, in the ports of the Chatham Islands, on the same footing as the national flag of the Hanse towns ;" and that no part of the islands shall be made a " penal settlement for the reception of malefactors transported thither from any other country." On the 28th of October, Mr. G. W. Hope acknowledges the receipt of the above letter, and states, that Lord Stanley did not "find in the Company's charter any thing which appeared to him to justify the supposition that the Company could lawfully apply any part of their capital towards the purchase of lands in a country which they themselves described as foreign;" still less could he "discover on what° ground the Company claimed a right to enter into negociations with the diplomatic agents of a foreign state, having for their object the c-ioation of a foreign colony in the neighbourhood of British settlements, and the protection of the commerce and navigation of Great Britain with the proposed colony." His Lordship then intimates that it is his intention to communicate with the Law Officers of the Crown, and suggests that there is a necessity on the part of the Company for the " exercise of caution and circumspection in advancing any farther in the proceedings in which they report themselves to be engaged." This appears to have caused some little alarm in the "New Zealand House;" for on the sth November, Mr. Somes writes, that the soil of the Chatham Islands was purchased a considerable time previous to the date of the Company's Charter, by the agent of a former New Zealand Company, and that the soil is now vested " in the individuals on whose account the same was purchased, or their representatives" — and those individuals form a part of the present Company. The letter then states that they feel assured that " the circumstance of theirhaving, perhaps rather unguardedly, stated that they, ' the Directors/ were in treaty with persons connected with the free towns of Germany for the sale of the Chatham Islands," would not prejudice them after this explanation, as they denied having " entertained the slightest intention of dealing with the sovereignty of the Chatham Islands, or pretending to transfer it to a foreign power." On the 11th November, Mr. Hope informs Mr. Somes that as the Directors had no property in the islands, but that such property was claimed by another body, it was unnecessary to purrue the correspondence with the Company any farther. On the Ist December, Mr. Hope informs Mr. Somes that, notwithstanding the subsequent explanations, Lord Stanley had considered it advisable to refer to the Law Officers Mr. Somes' letter of the 15th October, and that their opinion was that the purchase and proposed sale of the Chatham Islands was unauthorised and illegal; and thai, the proceedings of the Directors, in entering into any agreement or treaty or stipulation for securing rights and privileges to British subjects, and restricting the purchasers from making the Chatham Islands a penal settlement, were, in their opinion, " an interference with the Koyal Prerogative, and therefore unlawful : the possible inconvenience and danger of such interference being quite obvious." The letter concluded with the following gentle hint to the Directors : " Lord Stanley desires me to add, that the Crown lawyers have further reported their opinion, that the consequence of an abuse of the trust created by a charter, or of_ the powers thereby granted, may be the forfeiture of the charter altogether ; although they doubted whether what was stated by the Directors to have occurred in the case before them, if the intention zoere abandoned, would be deemed to amount to such forfeiture." . .Two days after the receipt of this letter, Mr. Ward, the Secretary to the Company, acknowledged the receipt of it, and expressed the Directors' " deep sense of the kindness with which Lord Stanley communicated the result of the reference made by His Lordship's directions to the Law Officers," re -asserts that nothing has been done by the Company with reference to the projected arrangement, and assures His Lordship that nothing shall be done which can "in any way involve the Company, in any illegal or objectionable proceedings." On the 25th March, 1842, Lord "Stanley reopens the correspondence by stating that the Government had received from Her Majesty's Charge* d'Affairs at Hamburgh a despatch, " enclosing the copy of an agreement entered
into between the New Zealßnd Company and ; Mr. Syndicus Sieveking, for the sale of the Chatham Islands, with a memorandum on Mr. Sieveking's proposed colonization of those islands. The agreement purported to be made between Mr. Sieveking on the one part, and John Ward, Esq., Commissioner of Her Britannic Majesty, acting on this occasion on behalf of the New Zealand Company of London, incorporated by Royal Charter, of the other part." What might be the legal conse.quences to the Company of this act Lord Stanley would not then inquire : but as the agreement was made by a gentleman accredited to the City of Hamburgh as a Commissioner of the Crown of Great Britain for other purposes, it appeared to him incumbent on the Government to make to the contracting parties at Hamburgh a clear statement of the case, which had been done ; and Mr. Sieveking had been informed that the Chatham Islands would in future " form part of the Colony of New Zealand, and be subject to all the laws in force there regarding land purchased from the natives, by which laws no former purchase* could be recognised without the previous sanction of the Local Government on the report of Commissioners appointed for that purpose, nor even then to a greater extent than 2,500 acres in the case of any one purchase." On the Bth April, Mr. Somes acknowledged the above letter, and " in the most explicit manner" assured Lord Stanley that no act had been done or sanctioned respecting the Chatham Islands after the incorporation of the Company ; that Mr. Ward had acted without instructions from the Company, and that the Company had refused to ratify Mr. Ward's agreement, " on the ground that the Company, in its corporate capacity* had )nothing to do with the colonization of the Chatham Islands." The letter then proceeds as follows; — " The relation in which the present Company stands towards these islands is very easily explained. The acquisition of land in these islands came within the scope of the deed of settlement under which the original Company acted before its incorporation. At the time of making the agreement with the Government, in which the charter originated, the purchase of the Chatham Islands from the natives, by an officer of the Company, was not known to the Directors, and consequently the Chatham Islands were not included in the charter. The result of this has been, that the members of the original unincorporated Company have found themselves in possession of these island?, or at least of the claim acquired in virtue of the purchase from the natives, (and which I submit that body was perfectly competent to maintain), without any power under the charter to include them within the colonizing operations of the incorporated Company. The Court of Directors of the New Zealand Company feels therefore that it is not within its province to urge upon your Lordship the claims of the Company which existed previous to the present charter." Thus ended this very curious correspondence, and we think our readers will agree with us that any thing more impudent than the attempt of the New Zealand Company to assume the right of transferring the Chatham Islands to a foreign power was never brought under the notice of the public. We subjoin the Prospectus of the Company which was in course of formation in Germany, and have only to add, that if a number of German immigrants would agree to settle upon New Zealand, and become British subjects, there is no doubt that they would be very useful and successful colonists. GERMAN COLONIZATION COMPANY. Sect. 1. The Company consists of the holders of shares of the amount of bnco. Fl. 1,000. Sect. 2. Towards the colonization of Chatham Island 400 shares will be issued. Every further issue of shares for another colonizing enterprise of the Company forms a series apart from this one, in which, however, the first shareholders will have the right of participating in preference to other persons. Sect. 3. The taking up of the share pledges only to the first instalment of bnco. Fl. 200, for which provisional certificates will be issued, this instalment is intended to secure the contracted deposit of bnco. Fl. 1,000, and the sending out of a commission (accompanied by the necessary surveyors, handicraftsmen, and mechanics), which has to explore the islands, and in case of necessity, to take possession in the name of the Company. Sect. 4. The Company, of which the locality is in Hamburgh, will be represented by a Court of Directors, consisting of five members, to be chosen by the first general assembly, whose functions and powers are to be fixed by the provisional committee of the first general assembly, appointed for the approval of regulations to be laid before them. Sect. 5. In this general assembly a majority of votes ,-s to decide ; and the holders of 1-2 shares, will have 1 vote. 3 5 ditto 2 votes. 6-10 ditto 3 votes. 11-20 ditto $ votes. 24 and upwards 5 votes. Sect. 6. In the course of the month of February the Court of Directors, or if such Court should not yet have been constituted, the provisional committee, will' decide upon the ratification (which has to take place before the 12th March in this year) of the contract of the purchase made in the name of the Company. • • Section 7. The Court of Directors will, as soon as possession has been taken, cause the site of a port, of the suburb, and the more distant rural territory to be surveyed, and will alienate the same conditionally, even before sending in a report, at such price as may seem sufficient for the conveyance and location of German emigrants, for the first public expenditure of the Colony, the return of the price paid for, as well as for a proport ionate dividend.
Scot. 8. The Directors will, in the pjroper- form, open negociations in reference to Article 3, for concurrence in the anomalous position of the group of islands, in respect of their political rights. Viewing, however, that the New Zealand Company has, by agreement, secured to the German Company a legal possession ; and, with reference to the enjoyment of national rights and religious liberty, has recognised as reasonable the wishes of the same, there does not appear to be any doubt respecting the unlimited freedom of trade of the future port, or the carrying on of its traffic under equal, though not exclusive rights, under the German, the Hanseatic, or the Hamburgh flag. Sect. 10. The whole of the proceeds derived from the alienation of the lands will be applied in the following manner : — (a) One half to the conveyance and settlement of German emigrants, in regulating proportions of trades, ages, and sexes. (b) One quarter in aid of the public expenditure of the colony ; in which are to be reckoned the surveys, as well as the building of the first roads, bridges, and other works. (c) One quarter to defraying the expenses of the administration in Hamburgh, to the payment of dividend, and to the return of instalments paid in. Sect. 10. Of the area of each of the three districts — the port, the suburb, and the rural territory ; and in addition to the reserves secured by the New Zealand Company to the Aborigines, one-tenth will be kept apart, to be applied to the exclusive endowment of higher objects, on the security of which the value of the new settlement, in the eyes of the better part of its population, must depend, namely, the church and the school. The Provisional Committee, (Signed) K. Sieveking Syndic of Hamburgh. A. Abendroth, Dr. D. Chapeauronye and Co. Joh. C. Godeffroy and Son. jE. Johns. Ross, Vidal, and Co. Schiller, Brothers, and Co. A. Schramm. R. M. Sloman. Rambttfgh, February 15, 1842. o
Permanent link to this item
THE CHATHAM ISLANDS., New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, Volume I, Issue 72, 7 April 1843
THE CHATHAM ISLANDS. New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, Volume I, Issue 72, 7 April 1843
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.