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Maori Deeds of Old Private Land Purchases in New Zealand, From the Year 1815 to 1840, with Pre-Emptive and Other Claims

(9.) The Amount of Scrip, Money, or Debentures issued

(9.) The Amount of Scrip, Money, or Debentures issued.

The totals under these heads amount in the aggregate to the large sum of £109,289 14s. lld. Of this amount, scrip to the amount of £91,510 15s. was granted by Governor FitzRoy; scrip, debentures, and money to the amount of £8,467 0s. 6d. by Governor Sir George Grey; and scrip to the amount of £8,932 5s by me. £101,152 5s. 4d. was issued in Old Land Claims; in Pre-emptive Claims, £8,137 9s.7d.

The scrip issued by Governor Fitzroy was in exchange for awards of the Commissioners, under an arrangement sanctioned by Lord Stanley for giving claimants a credit at the Treasury equivalent to the award, to enable them to buy land in the vicinity of the capital. In order to show what the public got out of this transaction, it is only necessary to mention two facts:—

1.A large portion of the scrip was expended in the purchase of allotments within the City of Auckland, which allotments must now be worth at least ten times what they cost at auction in 1844.
2.In Hokianga claims alone the scrip issued was upwards of £32,000, while all the land which I could recover there for the Crown fifteen years afterwards, including not merely the lands exchanged by the claimants but a considerable extent which had never been before a Commissioner at all, was 15,446 acres.

An instance of the great misconception that often existed as to the area of the claims may be given in the case of those situate in the Orira Valley at Hokianga, one of which (that of William and Francis page 628White) has at various times been the subject of much public notice. In the Orira claims Governor FitzRoy granted £6,099 scrip to William White, £250 to J. Marmon, £1,825 to A. Thomson, and £1,000 to J. Anderson. I had the valley surveyed, taking in the land up to the top of the hills and every acre comprised in the original boundaries, and the contents of the whole were only 3,871 acres; of which 1,280 had to be granted to Francis White (or rather to his assigns), leaving 2,591 acres for the public, to represent £9,174 of scrip given fifteen years before. And inasmuch as all the other grants of scrip for Orira Valley claims were made at dates anterior to the issue of scrip in the claim of W. and F. White, it follows that, if the valley had been surveyed at the time, and the Government had taken 3,075 acres first to repay themselves for the scrip issued in the other claims, there would have remained only 796 acres to meet the liability of 1,280 acres to Francis White, and there would have been nothing at all to represent the £6,099 scrip issued to William White.

The greater part of the debentures and money issued by Governor Sir George Grey was granted as compensation for the interest of claimants coming under the class known as the Pre-emption Claims.

The scrip which I have issued is principally for lands which were taken possession of by the Government and sold out of the Pre-emption Claims in the neighbourhood of Auckland. That in the great majority of these cases the Native title had been fairly extinguished, and that the Government took possession of and sold the land on the strength of the purchases made by the claimants, there can now be no doubt. The fact has been established by the records in my office and in the Land Purchase Department and Survey Department, and by the returns which have from time to time been laid before the Assembly and printed in the sessional papers. I believe it will be found that the Government sold many thousand acres of land under the regulations of 1853, at 10s. an acre, out of lands comprised in land claims, before the House of Representatives interfered (in 1854) and requested further sales to be suspended till the contemplated settlement of the land claims question should have been made. In many cases the seizure and sale pressed very hard upon the claimants. In one instance, in the Province of Auckland, the Government received £1,685 by the sale of lots within the claim; in another they obtained upwards of £1,400; in a third, upwards of £1,500. The total amount of money received by the Government for the sale of land situate within confiscated land claims in that province will be found, when all the sales can be traced and the accounts are made up, to amount to many thousands of pounds; and, as the greater part of the money was received after the Constitution Act, it reached the Provincial Treasury free from contribution to the New Zealand Company's debt.

It is not difficult to conceive that a good deal of dissatisfaction and distrust should have resulted from all this, as between the public and the land claimants, in the province where the mass of the claims were situate. On the one hand, the settlers found that very valuable portions of the city and suburban lands in Auckland had been given away in 1844 for scrip which represented nothing tangible at the time, and for which very little; as it turns out, will ever be got; on the other hand, those claimants whose land was taken were indignant at finding what they believed to be their own property seized and sold for the benefit of the Public Treasury. The public seemed to think that the claimants were only a set of land-sharks; the claimants believed themselves to be victims of tyrannical oppression. The truth, as usual, lay with neither side; there were cases where extravagant awards were made for which the public had to pay; there were cases where harsh treatment was administered, and the public got the benefit; but at any rate it cannot fairly be said of the Government or the Legislature after the Acts of 1856 and 1858 that there has been any general injustice done.

If all the amounts paid by the Government between the time of Governor Fitzroy and the passing of the Land Claims Act in 1856, for the purchase of the interests of claimants, be added to the amount of scrip issued by me in cases where the land had been seized and sold without compensation, the total does not, I believe, equal the sum realized by the Provincial Treasury of Auckland in the sale of land included in the claims bought or confiscated. It must not be supposed, therefore, that (excluding the scrip claims of 1844) that province has lost money by compensating the claimants; on the contrary, there is a certain balance of money-profit in the transaction besides the surplus land gained; so that, if it be said that the claimants ought to be satisfied with the provisions of the Land Claims Acts, it may equally be said that the province ought for its part to be satisfied also. Of course, if the scrip issued in 1844 be taken into consideration, the balance will be altogether the other way.