WARDEN'S REPORT. The following is a copy of a report sent by H. Kenrick, Esq., WardeD, to Government on the subject of the Block grievances:— Warden's Office, Thames, 2nd December, 1884.
Si b,—Referring to the petition of E. Rollerson and others, with report of Gold' fields Committee thereon, forwarded by you for my report, with instructions to take further evidence, I have the honor to point out that having no power to compel attendance of witnesses, any evidence taken would be limited to the voluntary statements of each of the petitioners who chose to attend at my invitation.
2. The only evidence of any value outside the evidence of the petitioners would be Mr James Mackay's, but as he resides now on the East Coast, this evidence could not be obtained by me.
3. The main facts ia connection with the grievance, set out in their petition, being undisputed, the question as to whether they are entitled to claim any relief from the Government is a matter of inference and perhaps opinion. Briefly the facts are these :—
4. Early in 1867 a piece of land now known as Block 27 was, with the consent of the native owners, set apart by Mr James Mackay, then Government Agent in charge of the gold field, aa a camping ground for the miners, then arriving in large numberß on the goldfleld. No title was given, and as the petitioners state, business and residence site titles were invariably refused when applied for by the miners, though granted elsewhere on the goldfield. In fact, this ground appears to have been temporarily reserved as a diggers camp, to meet any exceptional emergency.
5. Mr Mackay alone can say if any pledge was given to grant these titles at a subsequent date. No such allegation is made in the petition, and no record of any such promise or pledge is iv existence.
6. In 1867-68 Mr Mackay obtained a lease of this Block from the Native owners, on his own behalf, subsequently disposing of the same to the Hon. James Williamson, the freehold being afterwards acquired and similarly disposed of to others.
7, The miners camping on the ground at the time of the original lease to Mr Mackay apparently found themselves in the position of having to accept a lease of an allotment from the lessee of the Block or else remove. The leases' for 21 years were accepted, I believe, without any exception, and will expire in 1819-91. The right to purchase the freehold has been offered at different times to the tenants, and in many instances accepted. Recently the owner of the freehold has declined to sell, it is supposed, in contemplation of tho possibility of the purchase by the Government.
8. The leases originally obtained by the miners have in the majority of cases been disposed of, in many instances, changing hands more than once, So that at the present time it is doubtful if a score of men who, originally camped on the ground, could be found amongst the present lessees or petitioners. 9. I make this statement subject to correction, not having the list of the names attached lo the petition before me, but I believe that it will be found to be substantially accurate. IQ. If any equitable right at all (legal right is not contended) vested in the minsr§ who were permitted to camp upon this Block %i, and if such right (if any) gtill existed after they bad exchanged their squatting title for a lease from the private owner, it appears at least questionable if such a right could pass to those who, like the majority of the petitioners, came in subsequent to the land passing into private hands.
11. The miners, in the first instance, felj. naturajly aggrieyecj that 8 portion of the Koldfiejd upon which they had been allowed to camp (with, I have no doubt, the bope or expectation of subsequently acquiring a goldfields title) should have been bought by the Government officer jo charge qf gold Geld, for hia own benefit rather muhj for the Crown This grievance, at the time, would certainly hare given them the right to ask the Grovern* n^ent tp buy the. Block ia the interest of the goldfleld, b^t after a lapse of sixteen years—, the lan 4 havi g changed hands more than onee—^fter accepting and enjoying their lea^s of their sections for that period, the equitable right of the original squatter himself now to ask the Government tp parchatte the Block, t^erely to secured goJdfie'd title, would be weak. The right of tipse vfko came ia after
the land had passed to private hands may fairly be said to bo non-existent.
12. The statements set out in tbis re» port I believe te be undisputable. The inference 1 have drawn, and the opinion I have given, must be considered for what they are worth. I have taken no evidence for the rea* sons given, but if directed so to do, and furnished with the requisite authority, I shall have the honor to furnish a formal report based upon the evidence. I have, &c, Habey Kenbick, Warden.
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BLOCK 27., Thames Star, Volume XVII, Issue 5200, 16 September 1885
BLOCK 27. Thames Star, Volume XVII, Issue 5200, 16 September 1885
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