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THE PURCHASE OF THE WAIRARAPA.
Cheap Land and Small Farms. --Compensation Agitation at the Hutt. --Dinner and Ball to Sir George Grey. --McLean's successful Negociations. --Cheap Land Proclamation. --Small Farm Association. -- Pre-emptive Right to the Squatters.
A MISTAKE would be made if cheap land and small farms were to be treated as synonymous terms; yet this mistake was made by Dr Featherston in 1852 when, in referring to some articles which I had written in the leading columns of the Independent advocating not only a reduction in the price of land but a reduction in the size of the sections offered for
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sale, he asserted he had repeatedly done so when he was a regular contributor to that journal. But what he advocated was a reduction in the price of the sections; what I advocated was a reduction in their size also. Mr Justice Chapman had the preceding year taken up the question in a lecture which he delivered in the Wellington Athenaeum on Peasant Proprietorship. In the course of his remarks he referred to the success which had been attained by some of the small farm occupiers of Karori and the Hutt, and expressed the hope that the day would not be distant when the valley of the Wairarapa would be dotted over with the smiling homesteads of a numerous body of hardy peasant proprietors. Mr Joseph Masters, who had seen the difficulties placed in the way of working settlers acquiring land in Van Dieman's Land, advocated the setting aside a block of land for men of small means in some letters which he got published in the Independent.
Much about the same time an agitation was got up by the settlers of the Hutt in favor of obtaining compensation in land for the losses they had sustained through the laches of the New Zealand Company. The Resident Land Purchasers had done so mainly through the exertions of Dr Featherston, and why should not their leaseholders do so mainly through the exertions of Mr Renall? Those lessees of land, chiefly owned by absentees, and for which they had been paying from 5s to 20s per acre per annum, considered they had just as good a claim to compensation-- they who had borne the heat and burden of the day--as those absentees, or for the matter of that as the resident land purchasers, including with them the lucky holders of New Zealand Company's Land Orders. A public meeting was held on the subject, and a deputation, consisting of Messrs Ludlam, Renall, Jackson, Tocker, and Scott, waited upon Sir George Grey, who promised to afford them all the aid in his power. But the fact was, there was then no land available; and, besides, Sir George Grey had no power to give it away if there had been. The agitation, however, was continued, which increased to a fever heat after the arrival of Mr Gibbon Wakefield; but before that event a public dinner and ball was given to Sir George Grey at the Hutt which was largely attended, and carried out most enthusiastically. The whole is described by an eye-witness as having been a most brilliant affair. The next morning a deputation by appointment waited on His Excellency at the residence of Mr Ludlam, when he offered a block of land at the Pakuratahi for their use, which was however respectfully declined, the deputation preferring to wait and see what would be the result of Mr McLean's mission to the Wairarapa --that district having been described in glowing colors by Mr Tocker. Soon after this a meeting of Hutt settlers was called at the Hutt Bridge by Messrs Masters, Allen, and Carter, from Wellington, the result of which was that Mr Masters, as representing Wellington, and Mr H. H. Jackson, as representative of the Hutt settlers, were appointed to visit the Wairarapa and select a suitable block or blocks for a small farm settlement. We cannot enter into the full particulars of their journey nor of the hardships and difficulties they met with on the way. It was soon after that the negociations for the purchase of large blocks of land in the Wairarapa, which had previously been personally successfully initiated by Sir George Grey, were brought to a successful termination by Mr McLean, his Principal Land Purchase Commissioner. It was on the 4th March this year (1853) Sir George Grey reduced the price of rural land, outside Hundreds, from 20s to 10s an acre. Though large quantities of land had been purchased by compensation and other
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scrip in the Rangitikei, Turakina, and Wanganui districts, at an actual cost to the holders of such scrip of not more than 7s 6d, and, in some cases, not more than 3s 6d an acre, some eight-tenths of the land in the Province was owned by absentees. This fact, when considered in connection with the success which followed the virtual reduction in the price of land in the districts above named, was, independently of any powers and instructions he had received from England, sufficient to justify the course which Sir George Grey adopted. Public opinion was strongly in its favor, and years previously one of the agents of the New Zealand Company had actually recommended the allowance of a large discount for cash, or the sale of land on credit. If it is now seen that the reduction in the price, unaccompanied by the exercise of those safeguards which Sir George Grey had wisely provided, led to the monopoly of the public estate, it is certain that the reduction at the time was hailed with the liveliest feeling of satisfaction throughout the Province, except only by the interested believers in the Wakefield system.
It was not long after the issue of this Proclamation the Small Farm Association was founded, and the negotiations for the purchase of several blocks of land in the Wairarapa were completed; but before that land could be declared open for sale the Constitution Act had been brought into operation, and Dr Featherston had been gazetted Superintendent of the Province of Wellington from the 1st August, 1853. Early in the following month Mr Domett, Civil Secretary, informed him by direction of His Excellency, Sir George Grey, that the boundaries of the recent purchased blocks in the Wairarapa would be laid down as quickly as practicable, and in the meantime His Honor was requested, in conjunction with the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Mr Dillon Bell, to determine what reserves for towns, villages, and public purposes were required in the district. At the same time he was informed that the native lease holders in the Valley would be treated by the Government as tenants of the Crown, and, as such, would be allowed the right of purchasing their homesteads in accordance with the regulations in force, to the extent of 80 acres. The Provincial Government was also invited to recommend the mode in which the lands in that district should be disposed of. In reply the Superintendent recommended:-- (1) That for the present all the land should be reserved as a Hundred, which extended from Burling's at the foot of the Rimutaka, to the Waingawa river, "in order to give the promoters of the Small Farm scheme an opportunity of carrying it out," and (2) that the pre-emptive right of the holders of native leases in the Wairarapa should be extended from 80 to 640 acres. It will be observed (1) that the Superintendant recommended that a certain extent of land should be reserved as a Hundred for the objects stated; and (2) that he did not recommend any reserves as sites for towns, villages, or public purposes. On the contrary, he recommended that the other portions of the valley, which had become the property of the Crown, should be open for sale on a day to be fixed, after due notice, by the Commissioner. It is worthy of remark that had the reserve he recommended to be constituted a Hundred, "in order to give the promoters of the Small Farm scheme an opportunity of carrying it out," been so constituted, none of the land, under the regulations in force, could have been sold to the members of the Small Farm Association except by auction at an upset price of 20s per acre. This difficulty, however, had not escaped the consideration of Sir G. Grey. It was therefore arranged that the block or blocks reserved for
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the Small Farm Association should not, in the first instance be proclaimed Hundreds; but should be sold to the members of the Association in 40 acre sections, as rural land, at 10s an acre. The blocks the Association might set aside for the sites of townships were to be treated in the same manner, the Association buying the land as rural land, and then surveying it off into town acres. After this was done the two settlements were to be proclaimed Hundreds, and have all the rights, powers, privileges, and revenues which the "Hundred Ordinance" would confer upon them. These arrangements were of course highly approved by the members of the Association, and had they been wisely and honestly carried out the settlers would have enjoyed larger local powers, privileges, and revenues, through elected Boards of Wardens, than they have ever yet attained. Unfortunately before the town sites had been purchased from the Crown Sir George Grey had left the Colony, and consequently the Hundred Ordinance was never brought into operation.
THE WAIRARAPA SMALL FARM SETTLEMENTS.
Greytown. --Masterton. --Featherston, --Carterton.
THE two settlements founded by the Small Farm Association were those of Greytown and Masterton, the one named after Sir George Grey and the other after Mr Masters. But I will include in the present chapter a brief account of Featherston and Carterton also. If the same judgment had been displayed in laying off these townships as was afterwards displayed by Mr Landis in founding Vineland how much greater would have been their progress. Though a Committee, consisting of Messrs Jackson, Tucker, Masters, and Chew, was appointed by the Association to select sites for the future townships, it appears that no attention was paid to their recommendations. The only thing thought about was that they should not encroach on any runs, and should be on the main road to the Ahuriri.
Greytown was the first of the Association's townships. The only condition to be insisted upon was that the member who did not reside on his section, or expend £30 in improvements within twelve months, was to forfeit his town acre. There was nothing to prevent the Committee insisting on the fulfilment of this condition: but except in five cases, not even an attempt was made by them to do so. The fact was, that a number of Greytown residents, or subsequent laud purchasers within the block, had bought, for a mere trifle, a considerable number of these justly forfeited acres, and, consequently, they were directly interested in upsetting a condition which ought to have been rigidly insisted upon. From 20s to £5 was the price given for these acres, though even at the time they were bought, if the sellers had had a good title, the purchasers would have had to give in every case double and in many cases twenty times the sum at which, under the circumstances, they were enabled to buy them. Had these forfeited acres been reserved as an endowment for the township, Greytown from those reserves might have secured, for years past, a revenue of little short of £100 per annum. The town of Greytown, as also that of Masterton, originally consisted of 120 acres. Of these 89 were sold prior to 1860; 15 were then unsold, 2 acres had been sold to religious bodies, and 14 town acres were reserved for public purposes. And here perhaps I should mention, while on the subject of these reserves, the circumstances under which 48 acres on the eastern side of Greytown,
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commonly known as the "town belt," were obtained from the Government. We have mentioned above that the land on the western side of the town was, at the time the latter was laid off, intended to be surveyed into 40 acre sections. This the natives objected to on the ground that the land on the eastern side had not been purchased from them by McLean. This objection he subsequently allowed, and thus admitted their right to the whole of the land on the eastern side of a trunk road which had not been even laid off, and which, moreover, consisted of dense bush at the time the block was purchased and its boundaries roughly defined. To get over the difficulty, several of the town acres claimed by the natives being already occupied, Mr McLean agreed to purchase a strip of land from them measuring 10 chains from the centre of the main road, and comprising 48 acres in addition to the 120 town acres which had been already laid off and partly selected. These 48 acres consequently, in addition to the 120 acres which had been originally laid off for the town, became part of Greytown. Forty of these acres were paid for at the time the 120 acres were paid for, viz. on the 29th March, 1856, or two years after Greytown was founded. The money for the remaining eight acres was advanced by Mr Carter, who had then been constituted the trustee for the lands comprised within the Greytown and Masterton townships, and was paid by him into the Land Office on the 80th of June, 1858. We have been more particular in entering into these details because the question has been asked, what right has Masterton to half the rental of a reserve which had been granted virtually to Greytown by the Government as some compensation for the injury it had sustained by being shorn of half its dimensions through McLean's recognition of the claim set up by the Natives. It was not, however, Greytown alone that was injured by the recognition of this claim. More than half the members of the Association who had selected their town acres in Greytown in preference to Masterton, and who intended to select their 40 acre sections on the eastern side of the township, were prevented from doing so. To remedy as far as possible the injury they had sustained a number of forty-acre sections were laid off in Morrison's Bush, with a deep swamp frontage to the Moroa Plain. These were thrown open for their selection, those declining being permitted to select instead fifty acres on the Taratahi Plain, the extra ten acres being allowed them for the injury they had sustained by being prevented from taking up their land in the vicinity of the town in which their town acres were situate. A few settlers preferred Morrison's Bush to going further afield, but the majority of them took up their sections on the Taratahi; which, consequently, is virtually part and parcel of the Greytown Small Farm Settlement. Though Greytown, therefore, has long been one of the most populous and most prosperous of the up country townships in the Province of Wellington, it had, it will be seen, many drawbacks from the first to contend with, not the least of which has been its virtual non representation both in the Provincial Council and the General Assembly. Had Sir George Grey remained in the Colony he would have paid the 10s an acre, the price the natives then asked for the land they claimed in the Greytown block, and he would besides, as he promised, have brought the Hundred Ordinance into operation.
The site selected for this township was a more happy one than that which had been selected for Greytown, and, besides, it was better laid off in the first instance; but it labored under the serious disadvantage of being
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some sixteen miles further from a seaport and market. The carriage of goods from Wellington was as high as £20 per ton; and though in a few years the cost of carriage was considerably reduced, owing to the completion of the Rimutaka road, and the opening of that through the Three Mile Bush, the charge, which had for some time remained at £12. was still further reduced. Many of the Masterton settlers, having previously been occupants of land on their own account in the districts in the neighborhood of Wellington, took with them to Masterton their horses, cattle, carts, and farm implements, which of course enabled them to commence farming operations with much more advantage than those who had little ready money, and no stock of any kind. Still even these had to submit to many hardships and privations, owing chiefly to the absence of a local market, the bad state of the roads, and the distance of the settlement from Wellington. At the beginning of the year 1860, or a little over five years after its foundation, there had been sold at Masterton by the Association 83 town acres, and two reserve acres for religious bodies, leaving 19 town acres unsold, and 16 town acres reserved from sale. About the year 1857, Mr Masters and Mr Tankersley having introduced sheep into the settlement, though the latter had been a violent opponent of the sheep owners, and had made no provision either at Greytown or Masterton for any extent of land either for commonage or grazing purposes, both being indispensable for the success of up-country townships, the settlers felt themselves aggrieved, and held public meetings to consider the best means that could be adopted to remedy this real or imaginary evil; when it was unanimously resolved to request the Superintendent to get the settlement proclaimed a Hundred, under the impression that the two runholders in the immediate vicinity of Masterton would be obliged to surrender a portion of their runs, which would then be available for commonage under a Board of Wardens, who would have the power to determine the description of cattle to be depastured, as well as other useful and necessary functions. Instead, however, of the Hundred Ordinance being brought into operation, a portion of the settlement was simply designated a Hundred, under an Act of the General Assembly; while the boundaries of the settlement, as set forth in the Proclamation, instead of being extended so as to embrace a fifth of the Te Ore Ore and Manaia runs, so that settlement might be encouraged, and the district consequently peopled and stocked, agreeably with the spirit and intentions of the Hundred Ordinance, as well as with both the letter and spirit of the 5th clause of the Provincial Governments' own Land Regulations, those boundaries were absolutely contracted, on grounds which will not bear the slightest examination, in order to prevent any portion of Mr Collins' run from falling within the limits of the proposed Hundred. The boundaries of the township being thus contracted, nearly the whole of the Crown Lands in the vicinity of Masterton were purposely excluded from the operation of the Hundred Ordinance, and thus the Ordinance itself was rendered a dead letter, and was never brought into operation. Such was the treatment, such the encouragement the Small Farm settlements received at the hands of the Provincial authorities.
I have already stated that when Sir George Grey, on the 14th September, 1853, invited the newly elected Superintendent of the Province of Wellington to point out what land in the then recently acquired blocks in the Wairarapa should be reserved as sites for towns, villages, and pub-
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lic purposes, Dr Featherston not only did not recommend the reservation of any land for such desirable and necessary objects, but, on the contrary, recommended that the whole of it, except the sites for the two Small Farm settlements, should be opened for sale at 10s an acre. Some time after this, however, he reserved for the site of a township, a portion of the unalienated land lying between the Rimutaka and the Tauherenikau river, including a small part of what was then known as Bidwill's Run, as a site for a township. This was subsequently surveyed at considerable cost, by Captain Smith, and laid off in town, suburban, and rural sections. This township at the suggestion of the writer, in the leading columns of the Independent, was ultimately named Featherston, after his Honor the Superintendent; the streets being named after the names of the members of the Provincial Council. Owing, however, in part to the high price put on the town and suburban sections, and in part to the absence of any inducement for settlement within the boundaries of the township very few sections were sold and hardly any of them were occupied, until some years later, when, on the motion of Mr Ludlam, the price, was lowered to a sum as much below, as it had formerly been above their real market value. When the cost of survey and other expenses were deducted the net profit to the Government on the sale of these suburban sections was not a twentieth part so much as would have been realised had more patience been exhibited, and wiser arrangements adopted. As it was, the town of Featherston at first made slower progress than even that of Carterton, which was some two years younger; but the suburban and rural land having been taken up by energetic hardworking men, who had learned the business of farming at the Hutt and the Wellington country districts, the town itself began to grow, and is now perhaps one of the most flourishing in the Wairarapa.
This township was founded in 1857, in the midst of a dense forest, then known as the "Three Mile Bush," and was named after Mr Carter, one of the Committee of the Small Farm Association, and then the representative of the Wairarapa, both in the Provincial Council and General Assembly. A Committee of the Provincial Council, on the motion of Mr W. Allen, having been appointed early in 1857 to report on the promotion of immigration, that Committee recommended that 25 per cent of the whole amount of the passage money should be remitted to the immigrant upon the payment at maturity of his promissory note, that the remission should be made in land; and that an amount of available surveyed land should be reserved for the purpose. Accordingly a portion of land on the eastern side of the main trunk road, then being constructed through the Three Mile Bush, was surveyed into ten-acre sections, and set aside for the object recommended by the Immigration Committee. About this time a large number of immigrants were being brought out under the "Black Ball Contract," who gave promissory notes for the payment in full of their passage money, and had land orders given them on those notes being paid. Many of these immigrants were employed ia making the road from Greytown to the Taratahi, and thence to Masterton. A considerable number of them located themselves on the sections above referred to, but it was not until some time after that any extensive signs of industry and progress were visible. It will thus be seen that while Greytown and Masterton, and afterwards Featherston, were occupied principally by old settlers from the neighborhood of Wellington, Carterton consisted almost exclusively of
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new comers. Their success has been the result of their own energies; but it was the possession of land of their own which gave strength and direction to those energies and placed them in that position of independence which they now occupy. But what shall we say of the conduct of the Provincial Government, who, after making a trunk road through the Three Mile Bush, and locating those immigrants on the land on the one side of it, allowed the whole of the lands on the other side of that road to be swept up by Messrs Clifford and Carlyon by means of Absentee Scrip, which consequently brought not a penny to the Provincial Treasury? If that land had been reserved from sale it would easily have realised from 30s to £3 per acre. And it was thus the public lands were administered! No rights of commonage, either here or elsewhere, were secured to the settlers, as they were not desired to become "small stockowners," but were intended merely to be "a nursery of laborers."
INAUGURATION OF THE SUPERINTENDENCY OF DR FEATHERSTON.
Election of Dr Featherston. ---Electoral Districts. ---Mr Wakefield at the Hutt. --The Compensation Question. --The Provincial Elections. --Names of candidates returned. --Delay in summoning the Provincial Council. --Popular character of Superintendent's policy and proposals.
HAVING given the foregoing sketch of the origin of the Small Farm Settlements in the Wairarapa, it will now be necessary that I should go back for the purpose of recording some events in 1853. This was the year when the Constitution Act was brought into operation; when the Cheap Land Regulations were proclaimed; when Mr Gibbon Wakefield arrived in Wellington; when Dr Featherston was first gazetted Superintendent; and when the first Wellington Provincial Council was elected. This, therefore, it will be gathered, was not an uneventful year. The receipt of the Constitution Act was proclaimed on the 17th January; the colony was divided into six provinces, viz.: Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago on the 28th February; and the Provinces were by proclamation divided into electoral districts, and the number of members apportioned to each on the 5th March, 1853. The election for the Superintendency took place on July, when Dr Featherston was returned, unopposed, Superintendent of the Province. He took office on August 1st, and received all the co-operation possible from Sir George Grey. In the present and succeeding chapters, I propose to give a brief historical sketch of the affairs of the Province of Wellington under Dr. Featherston's first administration; but before doing so it will be necessary that I should refer to the elections which took place, first for the Provincial Council, and subsequently for the General Assembly, in the several electoral districts of the Province. There were then five electoral districts, and the following were the number of members apportioned to each in the Provincial Council and House of Representatives:--
|1. Wellington City
|2. Wellington country
|4. Wairarapa and Hawkes' Bay
|5. Wanganui and Rangitikei
Before giving the names of the successful candidates at this election, it will be necessary to say something of the excitement created at the Hutt, and the consternation exhibited in the constitutional camp at Wellington, by the appearance of Mr Gibbon Wakefield in the political
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arena. I have already spoken of the cool reception accorded to him at Wellington on his arrival; however, a far more cordial and enthusiastic one awaited him at the Hutt. On his arrival there he immediately threw himself, body and soul, into the arms of the party that were agitating for compensation, and from his knowledge of the whole question he was enabled to throw such a stream of light on the compensation question as not a little astonished the holders of compensation scrip, more than puzzled the wise heads of the disciples of his art of colonisation, while it proved a source of no ordinary gratification to the numerous struggling settlers who held stringent leases of subdivided sections belonging to absentee and resident land purchasers, who found it no easy matter to pay their rent and make both ends meet, and who longed to be the occupants of a piece of land they could truly call their own. Mr Gibbon Wakefield well understood this feeling; indeed no one better; and hence the reason why he advocated such a sufficient price being charged for the waste lands as would prevent "too soon" this feeling from being gratified. Such propositions, coming from him, were so new and so startling "that they were enough," as Dr Evans publicly confessed, "to take one's breath away." He convinced his newly found friends at the Hutt that they were quite as much entitled to compensation as Dr Featherston's friends, the resident land purchasers, who had been so lucky as to obtain it, and who, while they were themselves basking in the sunshine, or acquiring large estates at Rangitikei, left their loss fortunate neighbors out in the cold. He shewed them how many of those who had received compensation had done so not as original but as derivative purchasers of New Zealand Company's Land Orders who had bought them at the price of an old song from the poor fellows who long before had had to leave the Colony in disgust in consequence of the inability of the Company to fulfil its engagements by putting them in quiet and undisturbed possession of their land. All this was new to the Hutt settlers, whose wants and wishes appeared about to be gratified. Mr Wakefield went further than this. If a block of land could be obtained large enough for the purpose he would hand over the whole of his own scrip towards its purchase, on which a township to be called Wakefield could be established, in the midst of which be would himself reside, and sections of which the settlers could purchase on a system of deferred payments. He promised, if elected, to bring the claims of the Company's emigrants before the General Assembly, and to secure for them such an amount of compensation as a Royal Commission might award. Consequently such was his popularity that at the election, which took place early in August, the Constitutional party were nowhere at the Hutt, Messrs Wakefield, Renall, Ludlam, and G. Hart being returned by a majority of five to one over their opponents. At Wellington the Constitutional party met with more success; but even there Mr G. Moore, one of Sir G. Grey's nominees, was returned by a larger number of votes than three of the members of the Constitutional Association were able to secure. Mr Kelham was rejected; while Mr Fawsett, who had been put forward by the Constitutional party, in order to get Odd Fellows' and working men's votes, stood nearly at the bottom of the poll. In the country district Mr Brown succeeded in defeating Mr Schultze, one of the most active and selfish members of the Constitutional Association; while Mr Harrison, the clerk of the old Nominee Council, and Mr Dillon Bell, an official member of the late Legislative Council, were returned without opposition as members for Wanganui and Hawkes' Bay respectively. The con-
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sequence was the Opposition numbered as many members as the Government, and on all important divisions the question was decided in favor of the latter by the casting vote of Mr Speaker Clifford,
The names of the members for the several electoral districts in the first session of the first Provincial Council were:-- Wellington City, Clifford, Dorset, Fitzherbert, Moore, Lyon, Wallace, and Bethune; Wellington country, Brandon, Browne, and Waitte; Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, Revans and Bell; and Wanganui, Daniel and Watt; Harrison having resigned on accepting the office of Clerk of the Council. The names of the members for Wellington Province in the first House of Representatives wore, Wellington city, Clifford, Kelham, and R. Hart; Hutt, G. Wakefield and A. Ludlam; Wellington Country, Brandon; Wairarapa, Revans; and Wanganui, Dr Featherston; all of whom, if I remember rightly, were returned unopposed; the previous elections for the Provincial Council having shewn that opposition would be useless. This was probably the reason why Mr Fitzherbert retired from the candidature for the City of Wellington, though the assigned reason was the news of the unexpected death of a brother in London. Had a contest taken place one or other of the Constitutional candidates would have been defeated. The result was that out of the eight candidates returned, four were supporters and three were opponents of Dr Featherston.
Though Dr Featherston had taken office on the 1st August, and though the elections for the members of the Provincial Council had taken place in the course of that month, the Council itself was not summoned to meet for the dispatch of business until the 28th October; a significant fact, which on account of the light it throws on some of the subsequent proceedings of the Superintendent deserves to be recorded.
The Superintendent opened the Council in a speech of more than usual excellence, which subsequent events showed was much more popular in its tone than would have been the case had not Mr Wakefield been present. I and others were regularly taken in by it. I had not myself been previously a very cordial admirer of the Constitutional party, but from the moment I heard the Superintendent's speech I not only voluntarily but enthusiastically enlisted under its banner. He declared that he was desirous (1) to carry out the Constitution according to its spirit; (2) to extinguish the native title as rapidly as possible; (3) to render the lands available by means of public works; and (4) to promote and establish a continuous stream of immigrant labor. He announced that the measures which would be introduced had been framed with the object of securing to the Executive all the powers necessary for the efficient administration of affairs, and of making the Provincial (in all provincial matters) entirely independent of the General Government. He professed his cordial concurrence in the objects of the Small Farm Association, and pointed out that though the future settlement of the waste lands was a matter of great importance yet it would be unwise to leave out of consideration the lands already conceded to individuals who neither occupied themselves nor would permit their actual occupation by others. But the passage which made the most lasting impression on my mind, and which embodied, as I knew, the views of nine-tenths of the electoral body was the following:-- "The injurious effects of large tracts of country remaining unoccupied and waste--in separating and dispersing the settlers in preventing the formation of roads --and in thus increasing the cost and
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diminishing the amount of production --have been so long forced upon our attention that it is scarcely necessary for me to urge you not to allow this session to pass over without some attempt to paliate if not to remove such serious impediments to the progress of settlement." The remedy he recommended singularly enough was precisely the same as that which the Berry Ministry of Victoria, twenty-four years later recommended for Victoria; viz a general land tax. The imposition of such a tax he said was necessary not merely to raise funds for local improvements, but also to compel non-occupiers to contribute their fair proportions, to induce them either to settle and improve their lands, or sell them at their market value, and at the same time to discourage and prevent any undue acquisition of land by mere speculators in future. The money thus raised to be paid over to the District Boards for the uses of their respective districts.
Not only such a policy secured my adherence then but it would secure my adherence now, were there likely to be a Ministry that would honestly carry it in effect. It was not alone however, the Superintendent's proposals as regarded the imposition of a land tax that secured my approval; a much required Fencing Act which his opponents condemned "as little less than confiscatory" likewise did so. Indeed the more these measures were denounced by the Opposition the closer they attached me to the policy of the Superintendent. I of course did not know then that it was his intention to exempt freehold land in runholding districts from the operation of those measures; nor was I then aware he would sacrifice the general interests of the Province for the supposed interest of one small but influential section of the community.
The Superintendent announced that he should carry out his Government on the principle of Ministerial responsibility, and advocated the raising of a loan of £25,000, afterwards increased to £50,000 for immigration and public works. Though no less than 43,535 acres had been sold during the preceding six months, 33,249 had been paid for in scrip chiefly for land in the Rangitikei and Wanganui district and consequently only 10,185 acres had been sold for cash. He estimated the revenue for the current year at £18,000, and he expressed a hope that the expenses of the Civil Government would not exceed £9500 leaving £8500 available for public works. Such was the policy, such the proposals of Dr Featherston on first assuming the office of Superintendent of the Province.
PROVINCIALISM RUN MAD.
Superintendent's salary. --Financial Arrangements of Sir George Grey. --His departure from the colony. --His great popularity. -- Opening Second Session of Provincial Council. --Superintendent's speech. --His ultra-Provincial views. --Destruction of the Council Chamber by the earthquake of '55. --A miniature Lord John Russell. -- Council without house or home.
THERE has never been in the history of the colony so interesting a session of a legislature, whether General or provincial, as that of the first session of the Wellington Provincial Council. This arose in part from Mr Gibbon Wakefield being one of the most active of its members, and in part to the circumstance of parties being so equally divided. Had the same condition of things continued during subsequent sessions the Province of Wellington by this time would have occupied no inconsiderable space in colonial history. Dr Featherston commenced his government with a single clerk, and proposed that his own salary should not exceed £500 per annum. This was increased by the Council to £600; but when on
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the motion of Mr Watt it was resolved that he should have forage allowance for two horses, the two members of His Honor's Executive---Fitzherbert and Brandon--had reluctantly to vote against the proposal. The financial arrangements made by Sir George Grey, pending the meeting of the General Assembly, were of the most liberal character, and under these the Collector of Customs had been directed to pay over to the Provincial Treasurer two-thirds of the net Customs receipts, while the whole of the net land receipts were to be thus handed over, after certain deductions had been made to defray the cost of surveys, native land purchasers, N. Z. Company's fourth, &c, &c. The Superintendent expressed his sense of the justice and fairness of these arrangements, and placed on official record this important statement--that he did not anticipate, under any circumstances, less than two-thirds of its ordinary revenue will ever be handed over to the Province. How greatly he was mistaken on this point the very first session of the General Assembly rendered manifest.
Prior to the opening of the first session of the Wellington Provincial Council Sir George Grey left Wellington, though he did not finally leave the colony till the end of the year. Before his departure from Wellington native addresses poured in upon him from all parts of the North Island, expressive of the regret of the writers at his contemplated departure from New Zealand. The merchants, mechanics, tradesmen and artizans of Wellington vied with each other in doing him honor. The latter presented him with a large gold medal expressive of their esteem, and the former subscribed a handsome sum with which to present him with a suitable testimonial as a mark of their appreciation of his worth. I have already referred to the dinner and ball that had been given to him previously at the Hutt, and I may now mention a fact within my own personal knowledge shewing how very popular he was among the country settlers, and which has never before been published. I have previously said that a requisition asking Dr Featherston to allow himself to be nominated for the Superintendency, which had been numerously signed, had been publicly presented to him before Mr Gibbon Wakefield's arrival at Wellington. The signatures to this requisition had been principally obtained by myself, having been engaged to procure them by Dr Dorset, the Chairman of the Constitutional Association. On visiting the Hutt, Porirua, and other districts around Wellington, it was of course necessary that I should explain the nature of the requisition they were asked to sign. This I did by telling them that it was a paper asking Dr Featherston to stand as a candidate for Governor under the new Constitution; when in not one but in almost every instance I met with a refusal, until I had first assured them that their doing so would not effect the position of Sir George Grey, the Governor-in-Chief. I shall not refer here to the state of the colony on his arrival, and the state it was in on his leaving it eight years subsequently, as both of these facts are well known to the public; but before concluding these pages I do intend to refer to the manner his return was welcomed after eight years absence, even by those who had been the bitterest of bis opponents during his first Governorship of the colony, as these facts are not so well known as they ought to be, and constitute one of the most remarkable and interesting episodes in the history of "the greatest benefactor the colony ever had."
In opening the second session of the Provincial Council the Superintendent referred to the abortive sessions of the General Assembly which had during the year 1854 been held at Auckland, under a merely Acting-
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Governor, who was himself the Superintendent of a Province. He pointed out the injury that had been done by the scramble for the public money which had taken place at Auckland by a Legislature unchecked by public opinion, and he urged that those proceedings indicated the necessity of the Constitution being carried out in more strict accordance with the letter and spirit of the Act itself, and the intentions of its framers, by rendering the Provincial--in all Provincial matters--entirely independent of the General Government. "For," said he, "without referring to the alteration in the relative importance of the distinct, different, and widely separated settlements which exist in the Colony--if regard be had to the intentions of the authors of the Constitution--to the common origin of the two Legislatures--to the general power of legislation conferred upon both--or to the terms in which it is conveyed; to the provisions protecting the powers of the Provincial Councils--or to the fair purport and construction of the terms conferring the over-riding jurisdiction--the conclusion to my mind is irresistible, that Parliament intended to establish two independent and separate Governments --independent each in its own sphere of action--one for local purposes over each Province--the other for general purposes over the whole Colony; and the Constitution Act can only be successfully carried out on a system of Federal Union--the action of the Central Legislature being restricted to the few matters of federal concern, all of which are enumerated amongst the thirteen articles excepted from the Provincial Councils." To show the loss of income to the Province owing to the increase of salaries voted by the Assembly, he mentioned that instead of three-fourths the Province would only have one-half of the Customs revenue. "Such," said he, "is the result of a centralising policy in a financial point of view." These views were held by Dr Featherston during the whole time he held the office of Superintendent of the Province of Wellington.
Tho second session of the Council was opened on the 21st of December, 1854, in Sir George Grey's old Council Chamber, formerly the Masonic lodge room of Barrett's old hotel, and in one short month after the Council Chamber was a heap of ruins, having been levelled to the ground by the great earthquake which occurred in the evening of the 23rd January, 1855. It is fortunate that it occurred at a time when the Council was not sitting or otherwise a great loss of life might have ensued. The Superintendent applied to Mr Hamley, Deputy Ordnance storekeeper, for the use of Government House for a Council Chamber, as it had been left in his charge by Sir George Grey on his leaving Wellington. On the same day Mr Hamley replied that no appropriation of the premises could be made until a survey had been made upon them. At a meeting of the Council on the same day, Mr Fitzherbert, the Provincial Secretary, called attention to the conduct of Mr Hamley, and on going to German Brown's for his horse, he was summoned to the door by Colonel McCleverty who was on horseback. The following is Mr Fitzherbert's graphic version of what passed:--I immediately responded to the call, and was perfectly astonished to see the Colonel in a towering passion, livid with rage. He burst upon me with, "I am just told, sir, (I think he said by Mr Stokes, but on that point I am not positive), that you have made charges against me in Council about want of humanity. Shameful, sir, shameful! Is it true? What have you to say, sir?" I replied, "It is true that I publicly complained of your conduct. I considered that I was justified in making the remarks I did, and shall repeat them, if neces-
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sary. But let me tell you, sir, I will pot be questioned by you or any other man as to my freedom of speech in Council. I will not be intimidated by you or any other body from doing my duty as a representative of the people." Colonel McCleverty now flourished his whip in a violent manner. Somewhat, so far as my military reminiscences carry me, as if he were performing the manoevre of "Charge, Infantry," for he changed attitude with extraordinary rapidity. This moment he postured his right nether portion on the left flap of his saddle; the next moment he dexterously shifted his left nether portion to the right flap; all the time performing corresponding semi-circular motions with his whip. I kept my eye steadily on the figure, with my own whip slightly elevated so as to be prepared for any over act, but still not so as to frighten the Colonel. They were, however, only flourishes, and the Colonel just then appeared to me as though he were abstracted, and addressing imaginary soldiers. He suddenly roused himself and shouted, "Don't speak to me, sir! Never speak to me again, sir." I retorted, "I never asked to speak to you; it was you who wished to speak to me." I bawled out the latter part of this sentence, for he had already wheeled round his black charger and placed a waggon between us. No sooner had my words reached him than be seemed irritated by the retort, and turned round his head, and literally screamed but in a fury, "You, sir! you, of all men! you, of all men! you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You ought lo be transported; you ran away from the earthquakes last time: you ought to have been convicted of felony." I am not absolutely certain to the word transported. I am quite positive with regard to the other expressions.
It appears that the gallant Colonel then galloped off. On the following day Mr Fitzherbert called attention to this gross breach of privilege in his place in the Provincial Legislature; and asked what would the House of Commons--what would England say if Lord John Russell had been treated as he had been treated, on account of what he had said in Parliament, by the Commander-in Chief. A committee was forthwith appointed; a report was hastily brought up: and the indignity to which the Secretary of State for the Province of Wellington had been subjected by Colonel McCleverty was duly set forth in an elaborate State Paper drawn up by Mr Fox and transmitted forthwith to the Secretary of State for War. With what result no sane man at the time could have any difficulty to conjecture. The fact is that a species of mental giddiness was the consequence of this sudden elevation, as shewn by the above incident, which is worth relating, if only to shew what Provincial officers thought of themselves at the period under notice. Mr Fitzherbert's graphic description ought, at all events, to be rescued from that oblivion to which it might otherwise have been destined. During that and the following session the Provincial Council might be described without house or home; that Legislature never having secured quite so much consideration on the part of the "elected head of the Province," as such a distinguished champion of Representative Institutions might reasonably have been expected to have afforded it.
THE SUPERINTENDENT'S ADMINISTRATION OF THE WASTE LANDS.
The Retirement of Mr Wakefield and the advent of Mr Fox-- The Treasury accounts. --Want of Surveys. --Non-reservation of agricultural land. --New Pasturage Regulations.
THE second session of the Council was chiefly noticeable by the absence of Mr Gibbon Wakefield, and the
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presence of Mr Fox. This was thought fortunate at the time for the Government of Dr Featherston, but I doubt whether it proved so for the province. A Government consisting of such men as Featherston, Fitzherbert, and Fox, must necessarily, in the absence of such a man as Mr Wakefield from the Opposition benches, have it all pretty much its own way. And this was what actually happened. Besides Mr Wakefield, who was absent from ill health from which he never afterwards recovered, the Opposition lost also the services of Mr Brown, who had gone to England where he died; but who had in the first session been a thorn in the side of the Government, more particularly on the Audit question. Mr Bromley, a Government supporter, was elected in his stead. Mr Fox filled the seat for Wellington vacated by Mr Bethune, who also went to England, where he also soon afterwards died. Mr George Moore, a consistent Government opponent during the first session, also resigned his seat, which was filled by Mr Hickson, one of Sir George Grey's nominees. Mr Schultz filled the seat of Mr Robert Waitte, who had left Wellington for Canterbury. Perhaps on the whole the Council during the second session was as able, though more subservant than it had been the preceding session; but nothing could compensate it for the forced absence of Mr Gibbon Wakefield. Before the next session he resigned his seat, and his son Jerningham was elected in his stead.
Mr Hickson, who had been appointed Chairman of the Finance Committee, brought up a report strongly condemning the way the Treasury accounts were kept, and stating that in the opinion of the Committee it was absolutely indispensable, to prevent the accounts getting into a state of inextricable confusion, that a totally different system of keeping them should be at once adopted. It appeared that only one account for all the public works had been kept, instead of each one being entered under a specific heading. It was also found that in several instances larger sums of money had been spent on certain works or services than had been voted by the Council, and yet that no application to the Council had been made for its sanction of such expenditure. Finally they recommended that the Treasurer should post his books daily, which had evidently not then been the practice. A Board of Audit had previously been appointed by the Superintendent, consisting of Messrs Bell, Carkeek, and Kelham and the way they had previously overhauled those Treasury accounts would have astonished Mr Hickson had he been conversant with the facts. There was nobody to blame for this, but the Provincial Treasurers themselves, Mr Fitzherbert and Mr Fox, whose ignorance of both official and mercantile book keeping was rendered at that time glaringly manifest. This cras ignorance, indeed, was only surpassed by the exceedingly slovenly manner in which first one and then the other of those officers performed the duties of that important department.
WANT OF SURVEYS
But I find it will be impossible to give a detailed history of Dr Featherston's civil administration during even his first term of office, and I shall therefore have to confine myself chiefly to his administration of the Waste Lands up to the year 1856, for though they were not nominally under his control until after the famous session of the General Assembly held in that year, they were so to all intents and purposes from the date of his taking office. And I may here mention, as bearing on the subject, that though in the first session of the Provincial Council, and so long ago as the 5th of January, 1851, the necessity for an increased
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survey staff was brought officially under the attention of the Superintendent, not the slightest notice was taken of the matter either then or for years after. On the motion of Mr Dillon Bell, the then Commissioner of Crown Lands, which he supported in a most powerful speech, the Council resolved: "That this House--having regard to the increasing demand for land in the districts originally acquired from the natives in this Province, and in the large additional territory recently acquired at Wairarapa and East Coast, and considering further the urgent necessity that exists for prosecuting efficient surveys, as the only means of really opening the land to selection and settlement --is of opinion that steps should be at once taken by the Provincial Government to organise an efficient surveying staff in the Province." The survey of the public lands would have opened them up for settlement and hence one reason for their backward condition. In 1862 no less than 50,000 acres of 5s land had been actually sold without having been surveyed.
NO RESERVES MADE.
It will have been already gathered that any success which was achieved by the Small Farm Settlements in the Wairarapa was not owing to the care, wisdom, and foresight manifested towards them by the Provincial Government. Professedly, the Superintendent felt great interest in their success; practically, however, to quote the language of Burke, having reference to the North American settlements, "they were suffered to take their own way to perfection." No rights of commonage were conferred upon them, no local revenues or powers were secured to them, and had it not been for the construction of the Great North Eastern Trunk Road, and the local expenditure thereby occasioned, it is questionable whether they would have made any progress. With the professed object of preventing the encroachment of an agricultural population on the pastoral runs, Mr Ludlam, in the very first session of the Provincial Council, moved and carried an address to the Superintendent, recommending the Government "to set apart in each separate district purchased from the natives a block of the best land, in the best position, as an encouragement for the agricultural population to settle." In reply, the Superintendent assured the Council that he would carry out its recommendation; though in no instance was either the letter or spirit of this recommendation complied with. The sale of the land, or its occupation as sheep runs, not its reservation for agricultural settlement, was the great object of the Government and its influential supporters. No reserves, for example, were made for towns, villages, agricultural, or Small Farm Settlements, either in the Lower Valley, or any other portion of the extensive and open plains of the Wairarapa, except in the case of the site for the township of Featherston, already referred to. Early in 1856 Captain Smith, then engaged in a trigonometrical survey in that part of the Province, strongly recommended the Superintendent to reserve the Whareama block for a Small Farm Settlement, having no doubt a personal interest in diverting the stream of settlement in that direction, rather than to the rich plains bordering on the Ruamahunga; but not the slightest notice was taken at the time of that recommendation; and when some years after a motion was made in the Provincial Council for the production of the Captain's report, the Government made some excuse about it having been lost or mislaid, and stated that in any case it was then too late to make any reservation of the kind, as the larger and better portion of the block had already been purchased. It was thus the settlement of the people on the land was encouraged by the
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Wellington Provincial government! In what way the settlement of the Pastoral Runs, as they were miscalled, was in effect absolutely prohibited, will be discovered in the sequel.
Though in the second session of the General Assembly held in 1854 an Act was passed to enable the Provincial Councils to legislate upon the Waste Lands, in violation of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution Act, the Superintendent of Wellington declined to take advantage of its provisions, deeming it, as he said, unwise in any way to alter Sir George Grey's regulations. Indeed both the Constitution and the Regulations were more in harmony with the views then held by Dr Featherston, than they were with those by whom they were sought to be set aside. In opening the second session of the Provincial Council he expressly stated that under the then exceptional circumstances of the case, he could not see that the General Government could divest itself of the control over the Waste Lands, nor did he conceive that it would be for the interests of the Province of Wellington to disturb the existing arrangements, under which the purchase of native lands was made a first charge on the general land revenue of the Colony. This important point requires to be borne in mind, on account of its bearing on the Financial Arrangements of 1856, and the action which Dr Featherston then took regarding them. As, however, he had prior to the Constitution Act made himself the self-constituted champion and guardian of the interests of the resident land purchasers from the New Zealand Company; so, after the passing of that Act, he took the interests of the runholders into his special keeping; consequently, though he objected to taking the administration of the Waste Lands, he made no scruple in recommending for the Governor's sanction, new regulations for the licensed occupation of the public lands in lieu of those which had been proclaimed in 1851 by Sir George Grey, and under which the whole or nearly the whole of the open Crown lands of the Province were already held under depasturing license. The principal alterations were (1) The substitution of an acreage rent for the assessment on stock; (2) the furnishing by the runholder to the Commissioner of Crown Lands a certificate of the approximate accuracy of the computation of the acreage of the run; (3) the placing within twelve months after the issue of the license, one breeding ewe for every 20 acres or one cow for every 120 acres. "And," said the regulations. "he shall be required to keep up at least that number of breeding stock up on the run during the whole period of his occupancy." It will be observed that under the above regulations the run-holder had a direct interest in under estimating the quantity of the land he held within the given boundaries and consequently it will not be so surprising as it might otherwise have been to hear that on one run in the Wairarapa approximately computed to comprise 6,000 acres, 13,000 acres were subsequently sold, and then a considerable portion of the run remained unpurchased. Even Dr Featherston's own run, approximately computed to contain 20,000 acres, was subsequently computed to contain some 42,000 acres, though a rental was never paid on more than 28,000 acres. The rental for the first four years of occupation was fixed at a farthing an acre; for the next five years at a half penny an acre; and for the remaining five years at one penny per acre per annum! Now, low as this rental was, being just one-half that which Dr Featherston himself had originally proposed, it will be seen that by under computing the extent of the acreage not probably more than one half the legal rental was ever, in many cases, paid into the Treasury. The great objection, how-
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ever was not so much the low rental of the runs, when the supposed insecurity of tenure was considered, as to the non-exclusion of the really agricultural land from them, and to the non-operation of the Fencing and Highway Acts with their boundaries. Even the runholders themselves admitted that the rental was too low, and offered to pay a higher one provided that their licenses were converted into leases; to which there was in truth less objection than there was to the system that was then adopted.
Provincial Waste Lands Administration.
Enlargement of the Provincial Council. --E. J. Wakefield's land resolutions. --General Election 1857. --Waste Lands Committee. --Land sales not settlements.
IF any pretensions had been made to preserve some kind of chronological order in these random recollections it would be now necessary to break the thread of my narrative of the Waste Lands Administration of the Province for the purpose of giving an account of the financial arrangements made during the session of the General Assembly, which was held at Auckland in 1856; but, under the circumstanced, I think it will be better to complete what I have to say on the subject of the Provincial administration of the Waste Lands, before giving my history of the Financial Compact of 1856, though that compact was made before the opening of the Provincial Council, when the demand for a reform in the land laws and administration was first clearly enunciated.
THE GENERAL ELECTION 1857.
Before the fourth session of the Wellington Provincial Council was opened that Council had been increased from 18 to 30 members, of which increase five, or nearly one half were apportioned to the city of Wellington. At the elections rendered necessary by the enlargement of the Council there was not wanting indications of the growing unpopularity of the Provincial Executive. At the beginning of the session Mr E. J. Wakefield tabled two series Of resolutions; one having reference to a reform in the Executive, and the other to a reform in the Waste Lands regulations and administration. Those relating to the latter set forth that under the existing regulations the licensed occupiers of the public lands do not contribute to the public burdens in proportion to the advantages conferred upon them; that several of the Provincial laws exempt them from burdens and duties imposed upon others, and these exemptions have restricted the sale of land in such exempted districts, except to the licensed occupier of the surrounding country; that the exclusive privileges thus conferred on a small but wealthy and influential class tend materially to discourage the acquirement and cultivation of freeholds; and that the laws which exempt the pastoral occupier from the due fulfilment of his relations towards any adjoining freeholder ought to be repealed. These resolutions, created a long and animated discussion, both in the Council and outside; and though rejected at the time, so strong had the popular feeling set in against the Provincial administration of the public lands that everybody besides Dr Featherston and his Executive foresaw that at the ensuing general election, which would take place before the end of the year (1857), a radical reform in the system would be demanded. And so it turned out, for so strong was the feeling in favor of such a reform that Dr Featherston himself failed to obtain a majority at the City of Wellington, Greytown, and the Lower Hutt, and secured his re-election by the votes of the electors
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of Wanganui and Hawke's Bay; the latter district at that time constituting a part of the Province. At the election of the members of the Provincial Council the verdict of the Province against the Provincial Government was still more emphatic, twenty-two out of thirty members having been returned pledged to support a radical reform in the administration of the public lands. This success was obtained in a great measure by the alliance of Messrs Hunter and Stokes with the Wakefield party, the first representing the runholding interest, and the latter advocating the sale of the public lands on a system of deferred payments as an inducement for an agricultural population to settle upon them. Though I had in the leading columns of the Independent frequently boldly declared that the squatting interest was too strong in the Provincial Council, and had stood forward then, as now, as the warm supporter of Sir George Grey's Land Laws and Regulations, and as the uncompromising opponent of the sinister interests of absentees and land monopolists, I had no faith in a party of which Messrs Wakefield and Stokes were leading members, believing that no land reform worth having would be obtained through their joint instrumentality. And the sequel showed that I was right; for no such reform was so much as attempted, as will presently be shown.
Soon after the meeting of the newly elected Council in March, 1858, Mr Hunter obtained the appointment of a Select Committee to enquire and report on the Pasturage Regulations, and the other laws relating to that subject, with a view of remedying the injustice then complained of by both runholders and intending freeholders. The injustice the large runholders complained of was the insecure nature of their tenure; and the injustice intending freeholders complained of was, that though the land on runs was nominally open for sale, practically it was not so, as no one would buy a small section of land on a run, for either agricultural or grazing purposes, if he had to be put to the whole expense of fencing it against the trespass of the runholder's cattle. A series of questions, embracing the principal points in dispute, were prepared by the Committee; and answers to these, of the most conflicting character, were given by twenty eight witnesses. While the advocates of the rights of men of small means contended that the non-operation of the Fencing and Highway Acts afforded the runholders more than sufficient protection against the intending freeholder, the runholders examined wanted to change their licenses for leases, and objected to the Fencing Act being brought into operation on account of the insecurity of their tenure. They also objected, to the freehold purchaser within their boundaries being permitted to depasture stock on the run in proportion to the extent of the land he had purchased, estimated according to its carrying capabilities; though had he been allowed that privilege he would virtually have paid at the rate, for grazing purposes, of one shilling per acre per annum for land of a similar character to and adjoining that which the runholder was occupying at a rental of only one farthing per acre per annum. They had equally as strong an objection to the Highway's Act being brought into operation, also on the ground of the insecurity of their tenure; and also for the avowed reason that a public road through a run, instead of being an advantage, would be a serious injury to the runholder. As I had predicted, therefore, the labors of the Committee ended in smoke. I felt at the time, and subsequent events confirmed my impression, that it was less a reform, in the land laws than the ousting of
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the then Government which was the chief object of the alliance above referred to. Be this as it may, no recommendation could be agreed upon by members holding such opposite views, and upon evidence of such a very conflicting character; and consequently no radical reform, or any reform at all, was effected in the administration of the public lands, though it had been so loudly demanded by the people. In the meantime a system of "spotting," or buying what was called the "eyes of the runs," was very generally and successfully adopted; while 5s land sales were effected in such a manner as rendered it worse than useless (except for purposes of extortion) for any one besides the licensed occupier trying to become the purchaser. Under an additional land regulation of the Provincial Government, framed in 1855 in the pretended interest of the public, it was provided "that no allotment, the upset price whereof shall be 5s per acre, shall exceed 640 acres." As the allotments put up for sale seldom, if ever, exceeded half that amount, an allotment so small, and so situate, would, necessarily for grazing purposes, be absolutely worthless except to the runholder who was already in possession.
SALES NOT SETTLEMENTS.
The Superintendent, backed by a small but influential party, set his face from the first against the reservation of land from sale, against giving the runholder a lease in exchange for his license, and against the disposal of the land on a system of deferred payments. He adduced many arguments in support of his own views; but as the adoption of any of the three above courses would necessarily have a tendency to seriously diminish for a time that portion of the Provincial revenue derived from land sales, we have a right to conclude that this was the strongest reason he had for discountenancing all such proposals. The sale, not the settlement, of the public estate was in his eyes the one thing needful. This was rendered still more clear when he proposed, in an address to the Provincial Council on the 30th August, 1859, to make further amendments in the Land Regulations, in order to facilitate the purchase of non-agricultural land. He said, in effect, "as there are three million acres in this Province which never will be bought at 10s, and which are now locked up against purchase, it is proposed to proclaim all lands, which may from time to time be certified by the Commissioner as not worth 10s an acre as five shilling land; to place, in fact, such land, as far as its sale is concerned, on precisely the same footing as 10s land, so that any party may purchase the block, or any part of it, without it being put up to auction." He said he believed that the Government under such a system would be able to sell from 100,000 to 200,000 acres of 5s land a year; and this shews that it was revenue, and not the future interests of the country, that was chiefly in his mind's eye. A circular letter, however, arriving soon after from Auckland, stating that the Governor would not be advised to assent to any alteration in the existing Land Regulations of the Province, put an end to this sweeping proposal, which, consequently, had to be abandoned.
PROVINCIAL LAND LEGISLATION.
Repeal of the Hundred Ordinance. --Hon. Colonel Russell's remarks on the effects of Provincial Land Legislation. --My comments thereon. -- A Real v. a Sham Aristocracy. --What would have been the results of an opposite policy.
It will be seen that it was owing, not to Sir George Grey's Land Regulations, but to the Waste Lands administration and legislation of the Provincial Government that settle-
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ment was discouraged and land monopoly promoted. The sale of 5s land in such small allotments, prevented any one buying any for the purpose of grazing farms, and, consequently, they fell into the hands of the licensed occupier. At the same time the Impounding Act, by permitting the impounding of cattle on unfenced land, prevented any 10s land on a run being purchased for grazing purposes, except also by the licensed occupier. The Hundred Ordinance of Sir George Grey, which would have furnished the key for unlocking the lands which were suitable for agricultural settlement, was never once proclaimed, and shortly after was repealed altogether, without any of the outside public knowing anything about the matter. Having found, after a Crown Lands Bill had passed its third reading in the House of Representatives, that under the third clause of that Bill the Hundred Ordinance would be repealed, I addressed the following letter to Sir G. Grey, then for a second time Governor of the Colony:--
"September 12, 1862.
"SIR, --I have the honor to call your Excellency's serious attention to Clause III of the Crown Lands Bill of this session. I was not aware until this moment, nor are the public now aware, that there was any such clause in this Bill. If the Ordinances referred to in this clause are repealed it appears to me that either the runholding districts will be effectually closed against settlement, or that the settlers therein will be deprived of those means of self-government and protection which your Excellency provided when formerly Governor of this Colony. The time is too short to allow me to adopt any other mode of dealing with this matter save that of writing to your Excellency direct on the subject, which I trust will be held by your Excellency a sufficient excuse for my doing so.
"I have, &c,
"Editor of the Advertiser and a Wairarapa Freeholder."
I fully expected, from the interest Sir George Grey formerly took in the subject, that he would have prevented the repeal of a law which conferred so many advantages on those districts which felt disposed to take advantage of its provisions; but he satisfied himself by adopting the constitutional course of referring the letter to his advisers, and thus one of the best measures ever passed in the Colony was suddenly repealed without those most interested knowing anything about the matter until the mischief had been accomplished! The facts here stated will astonish our grandchildren, and it is for that reason I now place them upon permanent record. They will ascertain how it was that no later than the year 1877 there were scarcely any but bush lands available for settlement in any part of the Colony; and how it was that a kind of bastard landed aristocracy got itself established.
Before concluding this subject I solicit the reader's serious attention to the following remarks I made in the leading columns of the Wellington Independent no longer ago than the 3Oth September, 1871. They were called forth by some observations made by the Hon. Colonel Russell in the Legislative Council, to the effect "that though the tendency of Colonies in general was towards democracy, the democratic action of this Colony had, however unintentionally, produced an aristocratic effect; seeing that by provincial land legislation a body of large land owners had been created, who certainly had become such by no wish of their own." Upon this I observe:-- "We are told, in the first place, that while the tendency of colonies in general is towards democ-
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racy, the democratic action in this Colony had produced an aristocratic effect. It would have been well if he had at the same time told us the meaning he attached to those terms. If the acquisition, at a nominal sum, of large tracts of country, without the means of putting them under cultivation, is an aristocratic effect, it is not confined to New Zealand, but is common to Colonies generally. On the other hand, the tendency towards democracy, to which Colonel Russell alludes, is not confined to Colonies, but is more strikingly observable in the oldest and proudest countries of Europe. It appears to be the necessary effect and characteristic of the progress of physical knowledge, the extension of mechanical discoveries, and the consequent advancement of civilisation. What does the ex-Minister mean by saying that the tendency of Colonies is towards democracy? What does he mean by the term "democracy;" and what does he mean by an aristocratic effect? We, fortunately, for our inquiry, need not go far, or seek long for an explanation. He means that there is in Colonies a natural tendency towards the division of landed property, and of political power amongst the people at large. He means by the term democracy the possession of such property and power by the people; and he means by an aristocratic effect, the acquisition of large landed estates by a privileged few, who are thus enabled to monopolise political power, to disperse settlers, to make inland transport difficult, to prevent cultivation, and consequently to obstruct the colonisation of the country. That this is the ex-Minister's meaning is placed beyond a doubt by his remarkable and significant admission of a truth which his class have all along persistently, indignantly, and unscrupulously asserted had no existence--that provincial land legislation, instead of opening the country for settlement, aiding in the formation of a yeomanry class, or locating on the public lands a large and hardy body of peasant proprietors, had been the means of retarding colonisation, by the creation of a body of large landowners, who had become such by no wish of their own; but who, if legislation does not intervene, will constitute the future aristocracy of New Zealand. Those observations and admissions of one of our nominee legislators open to view a subject of much public interest, and more particularly so at the present time, when constitutional changes are going to be introduced, when the work of colonisation is being resumed and when railroads, costing vast sums of money, are about to be constructed.
It is not our intention here to discuss the relative merits and demerits of democracies and aristocracies; but we may as well remind Colonel Russell that, according to De Tocqueville, there is a secret tendency in democratic institutions to rentier the exertions of the citizen subservient to the happiness of the community; whilst in aristocratic institutions there is a secret propensity which, notwithstanding the talents and the virtues of those who conduct the Government, leads them to contribute to the evils which oppress their fellow creatures. We may also remind him of a fact, which he appears to have conveniently ignored, that though the possession of large landed estates and of exclusive political privileges in former times was necessary for the creation and conservation of an upper, educated, and leisure class, the progress of manufactures, commerce, mechanical inventions, and physical science, has rendered such invidious possessions no longer necessary for its developement and maintenance. We merely point out the change which has taken place since the days of feudalism, when "the tenure of property was the fulfilment of duty," for we are not disposed to deny that the existence of a leisure class is advantageous to
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society. In any case, there is no aristocracy, in the common acceptation of the term, in New Zealand. The possession of large landed estates is not an indication here, as in England, of superior birth, wealth, and education; but, on the contrary, it has frequently happened that the men employed on large landed estates are superior in most, if not in all respects to their masters. In England such estates are subject to large local, county and national burdens, from which such estates here are exempt; and, instead of only affording employment for three or four shepherds and overseers, they sustain a large body of tenant farmers, country mechanics, and agricultural laborers. It may be perhaps well that the members of our Upper House should also be reminded that they were not recognised in England as members of the upper, but of the middle class, and that had they remained at home they would in the eyes of an English nobleman have constituted a part and parcel of the English democracy. The possession of large landed estates by men chiefly without capital, will not be the means of creating, as Colonel Russell seems to think, a real aristocracy. That is not a work of art, but a living thing. Like the English constitution, it is the result of growth, and not a mere parchment or mechanical contrivance. The members of this aristocracy are ordained and stamped nobles by the sovereign hand of nature, and could no more be made by provincial land legislation than they could be turned out to order from an Imperial Patent Office, or any other more human workshop. But though the possession of large landed estates will not be the means of creating a real landed aristocracy, it will be, and has already been, the means of obstructing the progress and settlement of the country. The subdivision of these landed estates will be effected, not as Colonel Russell fears, by the passing of Intestate Estate Bill, but by making "the tenure of property the fulfilment of duty," which, as Mr Disraeli says, was the basis of the feudal system, and is now the essence of good government.
It will be further observed that while Colonel Russell truly ascribes to provincial land legislation the creation of a body of large landowners he also asserts that they had become such by no wish of their own. In many instances no doubt this was the case. They would, for their own parts, have been quite satisfied to occupy large tracts of country at a pepper corn rental until such time as they had accumulated a fortune, when they would be able either to purchase the freehold, or leave the country, as the Duppas, Petres, Cliffords, and others have done. But as they had no security of tenure, they were constrained, in self-defence, to buy the fee simple, with borrowed funds; and a serious reduction in the price of both stock and wool taking place, it was not long before they were painfully reminded that they were but the nominal owners of the land they occupied. This, we venture to submit, is not such a happy state of things as Colonel Russell would desire us to believe. Had provincial land legislation taken an opposite direction, a large number of sturdy pioneer settlers who were heroes compared with most of those by whom they will be supplanted, would now have been independent yeomen, who, after having bravely borne the heat and burden of the day, would feei an inward and assured confidence that they had done something towards laying the foundations of not only their adopted country's, but of their children's fortunes.