Letter 21

Edwin Harris to Donald McLean. New Plymouth, 27 May 1847

New Plymouth
May 27 1847

Agreeably to your request I send you the following statement of the number of acres estimated to be contained in the Block of Lands recently partly surveyed by me. The number of acres reserved for Natives and the exchanges made in forming the Reserves.

The Block of Land shown on the small map accompanying this I estimate as far as the unfinished state of the survey will allow to contain 11531 acres (and which I think will be sufficiently near to enable you to complete the purchase with the Natives.) Out of this 970 acres are reserved for them.

A portion of a section belonging to the late Mr Richard Barrett containing 50 acres and an adjoining piece from another section containing 6 acres having been taken to form a part of the Native reserve. A section numbered 6 on the map has been given in exchange & a survey of some land near the lagoon, but out of this present Block has been made with the intention I presume of adding it as a further compensation.

No 2 belonging to Mr Shaw has also been taken in making these Reserves, but I am not aware if an exchange is intended to be made.

New maps of the land showing these reserves and exchanges are in progress and will be furnished you without delay.

I am Sir,
Your Most Obedient Servant,
Edwin Harris

MS letter to Donald McLean. Written in New Plymouth, NZ, 27 May 1847. Turnbull. MS-Papers-0032-0326.


Agreeably to your request I send you the following statement
After Governor Grey’s departure from New Plymouth 6 Mar 1847 McLean commissioned a survey of lands offered for sale by some Te Atiawa owners. Edwin Harris reported on the progress of the survey of Block No. 1 (Ngāmotu) two months later, describing proposed native reserves and the exchanges to be made in forming them. In Oct, McLean was authorised to purchase almost 1000 acres that were subsequently known as the Grey Block. First of six letters from Edwin Harris to Donald McLean written between 1847 and 1851, preserved in McLean’s papers at the Turnbull Library in Wellington.

Wells summarises the Governor’s visit to Taranaki in late Feb-early Mar 1847, noting heated disagreement between Grey and Wiremu Kīngi over further land purchases and quoting Grey’s subsequent instructions to McLean (140-142):

Instructions from Governor Grey to Commissioner Maclean.

‘March 5th, 1847.

(1.) Mr. Commissioner Spain reported that the New Zealand Company were entitled to a Crown Grant of a block of 60,000 acres of land lying within certain defined limits.

(2.) The Governor (Fitzroy) did not take the same view of the question as Mr. Spain and would not confirm that gentleman’s award; on the contrary, in November, 1844, he sanctioned a totally new purchase of a small block of land of 3,500 acres, by the Agent of the New Zealand Company, and he made certain promises to the natives which have induced many of them to return to lands which they state they understood Captain Fitzroy to guarantee to them in permanent possession. On these lands they have now extensive pas and cultivations included in the block awarded by Mr. Spain.

(3.) Thus on the one hand the New Zealand Company claim the rights (if any) which they may have acquired under Mr. Spain’s award; while on the other hand the natives claim the disallowance of that award by the Governor, the rights which the late Governor promised to maintain to them in all their integrity, and the fact of their present occupation of the land under the sanction of the Governor.

(4.) It is proposed to evade, in as far as practicable, the various difficulties which have arisen under these conflicting circumstances, by in the first place reserving to the several tribes who claim land in this district tracts which will amply suffice for their present and future wants; and secondly, resuming the remaining portion of the district for the European population, and where the extent of the land so resumed has been ascertained, to determine what price shall be paid to the natives for it; this amount not to be paid at once, but in annual instalments, extending over a period of three or four years, at the end of which time it may be calculated that the lands reserved for the natives will have become so valuable as to yield them some income, in addition to the produce raised from those portions of them which they cultivate.

(5.) Every effort should be made to acquire for the European population those tracts of land which were awarded to the New Zealand Company by Mr. Spain; and where blocks are reserved for the natives within these limits, portions of land of equal extent (if possible), must be purchased without the limits for the New Zealand Company.

(6.) If possible the total amount of land resumed for the Europeans should be from 60,000 to 70,000 acres; a grant of this tract of land will then be offered by the Government to the Company.

(6.) The price paid for any portion of the land should not exceed 1s. 6d. per acre, and the average price should be below this amount. The greatest economy on this subject is necessary.

(8.) No time must be lost in completing these arrangements.

(9.) Two surveyors and parties upon the most economical scale must be engaged for this purpose. The police should as far as practicable be employed on it.

(10.) This arrangement should be carried out in the first instance with those parties who have given their assent to it, including the natives who have offered a tract of land for sale to the south of the Sugarloaves.

(11.) Where land without the block awarded by Mr. Spain is newly acquired, and required for immediate use by the Company’s settlers, sections must be surveyed for them.

(12.) Those natives who refuse to assent to this arrangement must distinctly understand that the Government does not admit that they are the true owners of the land they have recently thought proper to occupy.

(13.) Mr. MacLean is intrusted with the conduct of these arrangements, but in all matters of importance he must consult Captain King, and acquaint him with the steps which he proposes to take.

(14.) In reserving the blocks intended for the natives, the surveyed lines of the Company should in as far as practicable be observed, but whenever there is a necessity for a departure from this course the lines must be run as Mr. MacLean thinks proper.

A portion of a section belonging to the late Mr Richard Barrett
Dicky Barrett (Tiki Parete) died at Moturoa 23 Feb 1847 either from a heart attack or following injury after a whaling accident. He was 40.

No 2 belonging to Mr Shaw has also been taken
Perhaps James Thomas Shaw, who arrived in Taranaki on the Amelia Thompson in Sept 1841.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa: ‘In May 1847, McLean concluded a purchase with twenty-eight Te Atiawa from the Ngāti Whiti hapū for 9,770 acres of land (known as the Grey block) to the south of the FitzRoy block. The payment of £390 was made in three annual instalments.’ (Te Ara).

Wells notes the outcome of Grey and McLean’s 1847 negotiations: ‘September 22nd.–A small block of land containing 3,560 acres, situate about nine miles from New Plymouth, was purchased from the natives for £150. The Omata Block containing 12,000 acres was purchased for £400, or 8d. per acre. The Grey Block was also purchased for £390. The payment for these blocks was, according to the Governor’s instructions, to be made by instalments.’ (143).

In 1849 McLean sent deeds of the Taranaki land purchases 1844-48 to his regional superior Captain Henry King (Wells 148-149):

Donald MacLean, Esq., to Captain King, R.N., Resident Magistrate.

‘New Plymouth, 19th October, 1849.

Sir:–In compliance with your instructions that the original deeds for lands purchased from the natives in this district should be forwarded by the next mail to Auckland, I hereby do myself the honor to hand them over to you for transmission. If you deem it advisable I shall order a small wooden or tin case, in which they may be placed for greater security. For reference at the settlement, copies and translations of the several deeds are duly entered in a book I am keeping expressly for that purpose. I should have sent the deeds, as you suggested, direct to the Colonial Secretary, but on after consideration it occurred to me that documents of such importance had better be examined and passed through your hands as the resident representative of the Government. The deeds are:–

No. 1, November. 1844–Conveyance of the Fitzroy Block.

No. 2 May 11th, 1848–Conveyance of a block of land between the Timaru and Katikara rivers at Tataraimaka.

No. 3, August 30th, 1847–Conveyance by the Taranaki tribe of the Omata Block of 12,000 acres.

No. 4, October 10th, 1847–Deed of the resident Ngamotu natives conveying their claims to the Grey block of 9,770 acres.

No. 5, April 12th, 1848–Deed by absentee natives of the Ngamotu tribe residing at Wellington and Cook Strait, relinquishing their claims to the Fitzroy and Grey blocks of land respectively.

No. 6, November 24th, 1840–Deed of conveyance by the Puketapu natives for lands situate near the Hua, in the occupation of John George Cooke, Esq.

No. 7, November 29th, 1848–Deed by the Puketapu natives conveying about 1,500 acres of land.

I shall feel much obliged by your acknowledging the receipt of the foregoing documents.–I have, &c.