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one may select at 640 acres of first-class or 2,000 acres of second-class land, inclusive of any
land he may already hold. These limits apply to lands which are thrown open for ** free
selection," as it is termed, but in some cases, where found desirable, the limit is by regulation
made much smaller.

In addition to the many advantages offered by the *< lease-in-perpetuity " system, the land
act provides others to meet the wants of different classes. The rule is almost invariable that
land thrown open for so-called **free selection" is offered to the public under three different
tenures, and the choice left entirely to the would-be settler. The three tenures are :

(i) For ca^, in which one-fourth of the purchase-money is paid down at once, and the
remainder within thirty da3rs. The title does not issue until certain improvements have been
made on the land.

(2) Lease with a purchasing clause, at a 5-per-cent rental on the value of the land ; the
lease being for twenty-five years, with the right to purchase at the original upset price at any
time aAer the first ten years.

(3) Lease in perpetuity, at a rental of 4 per cent on the capital value, as already described

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The present land laws have been in force since the 1st of November, 1892, and, there-
fore, the returns of the Department of Lands and Survey for the year ending the 31st o<
March, 1895, will give a fair idea of the proportions in which lands are selected under
'the three tenures above described during the past two and a half years. The figures given
below include the ''special settlements," all of which must by law be held on lease in
perpetuity :

(i) Selected for cash, 1,542; area, 1 10,570 acres.

(2) Occupation with right of purchase, 1,060; area, 236,270 acres.

(3) Lease in perpetuity, 3,224 ; area, 634,086 acres.

" The land act, 1892,'' provides for a special class of settlement, which has found favor
with the public to a very considerable extent during the last two years. This is known as
the " small-farm association *' system. It provides that, where not less than twelve individ-
uals have associated themselves together for mutual help, such an association can, with the
approval of the Minister of Lands, select a block of land of not more th^p 11,000 acres, but
there must be a selector to each 200 acres in the block. The extreme limit that one person
may hold is fixed at 320 acres. Settlements of this class are held on ** lease in perpetuity"
for 999 years, in the same way as lands under the same tenure when thrown open for free
selection. The conditions of residence and improvement are the same. The sjrstem offers
many advantages to the settler, so long as the blocks of land are judiciously chosen, having
regard to quality of land, access, markets, and the probability of emplojonent being obtained
in the neighborhood. In the eagerness to obtain lands on such easy terms, these points have,
in the past, not received sufficient attention by some of the associations, and in consequence
their success remains to be proved.

The following figures show the extent to which settlers have availed themselves of this
class of settlement during the three years ending the 31st of March, 1895 J ^^* figures repre-
sent approved applications only : Thirteen hundred and ninety selectors have taken up 277,-
579 acres in various parts of the colony, but principally in the Wellington district.

The ** village -settlement system" of New Zealand has become widely known in the Aus-
tralian colonies, and has excited much inquiry, with a view to its adoption in other parts. It
is believed, however, that this and the " small-farm association" settlements referred to above
are often confounded in the minds of the public, for of recent years there has been no very
great extension of village settlements in this colony. ( P'or details, see Mr. March's article,
post.) The system was initiated in 1886 by the late Hon. John Ballance, with the intention
of assisting the poorer classes to settle on the land. It became immediately very popular,
and by its means a considerable number of people were settled on the land, who might other-
wise never have become landholders. The features of the system were, originally, the pos-
session of a small farm, not exceeding 50 acres in extent, held under a perpetual lease for
terms of thirty years, with recurring valuations at the end of each term. The rental was 5
per cent on a capital value of not less than £i an acre. Residence and improvement of the
soil were compulsory. The new and important feature in the village-settlement scheme,
however, was the advance by the State of a sum not exceeding £2 los. per acre, up to 20
acres, for the purpose of enabling the settler to cultivate the land, and of a further sum not
exceeding ;f 20 to build a house with, on which he paid interest at the rate of 5 per cent.
Road works were also very frequently undertaken in the neighborhood of these settlements,
and have been of very great help to the settlers. Under this system, a number of settlements
were formed, and, where the sites were chosen judiciously, a large measure of success has
resulted therefrom.

The present law admits of similar village settlements, but the area which a selector may
hold has been increased to loo acres, and the tenure changed to a ** lease in perpetuity" for
999 years, on a 4 per cent rental. Advances for clearing and house building have, however,
practically ceased, and, indeed, few settlements have lately been started, one of the principal
reasons being the dearth of suitable lands on which to plant them. Crown lands adapted to
the special features of ** village settlements " are scarce.

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A modification of the system has been introduced, however, which, so far as can be
judged at present, will eventually, to a considerable extent, take its place. In order to find
work for the unemployed, considerable areas of forest-clad Crown lands have been set aside,
and small contracts for the clearing, burning, and sowing these with grass have been let
The intention b to subdivide all these areas into small farms, to be let on " lease in perpetuity,"
at a rental sufficient to cover the cost of clearing, etc., together with a fair rental of the land.
Up to the 31st of March, 1895, eighteen settlements have been allocated, covering an area of
21, 202 acres, situated in various parts of the colony. At that date, 193 settlers had been
allotted sections, and they had felled 4,048 acres of bush and grassed 1,469 acres. The
amount paid to the settlers up to the 31st of March was ;^5)698, and the value of improve-
ments on the land (including the Government advances) was ^'6,964. The size of holdings
averages about 1 00 acres. With respect to other methods of dealing with the Crown estate,
the " digest of the land laws " appended hereto will give sufficient particulars.


Allusion has already been made to the dearth of Crown lands suitable for small settle-
ments in localities where they are most needed, f. e., in settled districts, where the lands are
frequently held in large estates, whose owners employ a good deal of labor. Not only is this
the case in many parts of the colony, but there is also a want of land where the sons of settlers
can obtain farms not far from the homes of their parents. To meet this want, the Hon. J.
McKenzie, the present Mimster of Lands, introduced into the legislature, in the session of
1892, a bill intituled **the land for settlements act," which authorized the purchase from
private individuals of suitable properties for subdivision into small farms not exceeding 320
acres in extent. Under the provisions of this act, several properties have been acquired and
subsequently divided into small farms and leased in perpetuity at a 5 per cent rental, on a
capital value fixed at a sufficient rate to cover first cost, together with survey, administration,
and roads (if required). The process of acquisition is as follows: Whenever a property is
offered to the Government, if it is so situated as to meet the object of the act, a report on
it is obtained by a qualified Government officer, and, should his report be favorable, the
question of purchase is then referred to a board of land-purchase commissioners, composed
of three Government officers whose training and duties qualify them to advise the Govern-
ment as to whether the purchase is a suitable one, and as to the price which should be given
for the property. It is only on the advice of this board that the Government acts. In nearly
all cases the properties acquired have been improved farms, situated in settled districts, where
the tenants have some chance of obtaining employment in the vicinity. The amount which
may be expended per annum under the act of 1892 was £sofiOO\ but the act of 1894 ex-
tended this amount to ;f 250,000, and it also provided that the limit of land which might be
selected should be the same as under " the land act, 1892." The act also provides for the
exchange of high-lying pastoral Crown lands for low-lying agricultural lands suitable for small
holdings. A new feature was introduced into the act of 1894 — namely, the power of com-
pulsory taking of lands in cases where the board could not agree with the owner as to price,
etc, and where the governor in council decides that the possession of the land for purposes of
subdivision b otherwbe desirable. The amount payable to the owner is decided by a compen-
sation court with full powers. Up to the 31st of March, 1895, thirteen estates had been pur-
chased, or arranged for, at a cost of over £i6'jfiOOf which covered an area of 43,923 acres.
At the same date there were living on those estates which had been sulxlivided and selected
ninety-six persons, in the place of a few shepherds or overseers, who only occasionally visited
these places formerly. This extension of the provisions of the previous act should prove
beneficial in providing homes for a large class of persons, who, from inexperience or other
reasons, are in a measure prohibited from occupying the waste lands of the Crown; and,
moreover, as the properties acquired are all more or less improved, they seem to afford to the

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small-farmer class of the Old Country an opening for building up homes for themselves where
their previous experience will be of use, instead of having to learn— often by sad experi-
ence — ^the methods adapted to a new and wild country.

Village- Homestead Settlements.

By J. E. March, superintendent.

Very few subjects have occupied so much public attention, and there are few on which
there has been such a diversity of opinion, as the village-homestead settlement scheme initiated
by the late Hon. Mr. Ballance. Not only has this been the case in New Zealand, but beyond
the colony as well. Thus, in the early part of 1891, the Hon. Mr. G)pley, commissioner of
Crown lands in South Australia, paid an official and special visit to New 2^aland, the object
being, as stated in his report, *• to inquire into the working of the village-homestead special
settlements, concerning which so many conflicting statements had been made in South

Again, at the end of 1893, the Hon. Mr. Mclntjrre, commissioner of Crown lands,
Victoria, paid an official visit to this colony for the purpose of " inquiring into the system of
land settlement and inspecting the village settlements." In his report, dated Melbourne,
19th of February, 1894, the Hon. Mr. Mclntyre says: "From my personal observation, and
from the information I was enabled to obtain through the documents placed at my disposal,
I think I am perfectly justified in stating that the success of the village-settlement movement
in New Zealand has been proved. It has got beyond the experimental stage; and the system,
if I mistake not, is firmly grafted on the land policy of that country. Any apprehensions
which I may have entertained of the ultimate success of our Victorian village settlements
have entirely disappeared in the light of the experience gained in New 2^aland.*'

The plan of forming village settlements was first commenced in the provincial district
of Canterbury by the Hon. Mr. RoUeston. It was on a small scale, but it worked admirably.
In 1874 and 1875, there was a difficulty in finding quarters or employment for immigrants,
who had arrived in Canterbury in considerable numbers, and it was decided to try the experi-
ment of settling them on the land in districts where they were likely to obtain work. The
course adopted was briefly as follows: On the line of railway, or adjacent thereto, as at
Rakaia, Orari, and Arowhenua, blocks of Government land were laid ofl* into sections, vary-
ing in area from one-quarter to 5 acres. Assistance was given to the extent of ;f 10 toward
the erection of a small hut or cottage. The terms of occupation were as follows: For the
first year, rent free, and for the second and third years, a rental of 2s. per week was charged,
to recoup the Treasury the amount advanced.

In the formation of some of these settlements, notably at Geraldine, Timaru, and Waimate,
the idea was not to permanently locate the immigrants, on whose behalf the plan had been
adopted, but merely allow them to occupy the land temporarily; and it was considered that
in three years they would be enabled to find situations or places elsewhere. All traces of
the settlements formed in the localities named have long since disappeared.

The land comprised in the village settlements formed at Rakaia, Arowhenua, Beacons-
field, and other districts in Canterbury was sold to the original settlers on the deferred-
payment system.

From 1876 to 1886, a period of ten years, very little was done in extending the system,
but in the latter year the late Hon. Mr. Ballance, then Minister of Lands, introduced regula-
tions for the formation of village-homestead special settlements. These were of a liberal
character, and the assistance granted by way of loans for dwelling houses, bush felling,
grassing, etc., enabled an industrious man to make and establish a comfortable home, while
he was precluded from parting with the freehold.

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A large number of settlements were thus formed, and, generally speaking, the settlers
and their families have comfortable homes and look healthy and contented; the financial
results prove conclusively that the settlements are successful.

During the period from October, 1887, to January, 1891, no new village-homestead settle-
ments were formed; on the contrary, it was decided early in 1888 to withdraw all the un-
selected sections in the settlements already formed from occupation under that system and
to open the land under ordinary conditions of settlement, namely, for cash, deferred payment,
or perpetual lease.

The original S3rstem was again introduced by the Hon. Mr. McKenzie, Minister of Lands,
in March, 1 891, with a modification in the amount to be advanced, which was limited to a
sum not exceeding ;f 10, to assist a selector in the erection of a dwelling house on his section.

Considerable progress has been made under the ordinary village system of land settle-
ment, and during the past year 295 new selectors have taken up sections of land, representing
an area in the aggregate of 7,616 acres. No monetary advances, however, have been made
in these cases. Without doubt the sjrstem is one which fosters a spirit of independence and
habits of industry and self-help. It has had a most beneficial effect in the colony, having
been the means of providing settled and comfortable homes for many people, who previously
found that rent and the cost of living absorbed all their earnings.

The success, however, is best shown by the financial results. During the past year
twenty-four new settlements have been formed, namely, seven in the North Island and seven-
teen in the Middle Island. Two hundred and ninety-five new selectors have taken up sec-
tions of land representing, in the aggregate, 7,616 acres. The position of these settlements
on the 31st of March, 1895, was as under:

Number of settlements in the colony 144

Number settled on the land, including wives and families 4»56i

Area occupied (acres) 33,804

Amount advanced for cottages, bush felling, and clearing £2$ , 778

Amount paid by settlers as rent and interest from the commencement of the system., jf 1 7 , 620

Value of improvements now on the land ^£"92,834

And if the amount advanced is deducted, there remains as representing the value

of the work done by the settlers £^7t<>5^

These figures prove conclusively that the system is one to encourage and extend.


From about the year 1823 (which is the date of the first recorded deed) until the 6th of
February, 1846, the date of the treaty of Waitangi, lands in New 2^aland were acquired by
direct purchase from the Maoris by individual members of the white races. During the years
1837 to 1839, or about the time that it became probable that the sovereignty of the islands
would be assumed by the Queen, the greater number of these purchases were made, and they
extended to most parts of the country. These purchases are technically known as " the old
land claims," and their total number (including preemptive claims), as estimated by Commis-
sioner F. Dillon Bell in 1862, was 1,376, covering an area of about 10,322,453, out of which
large area grants were recommended for 292475 acres. These figures have been slightly
added to since, but not to any very large extent. The large area shown above was reduced
on survey to about 474,000 acres, situated principally to the north of Auckland. The differ-
ence between the amount granted and the total area surveyed became what are termed <* sur-
plus lands of the Crown." It was held that the native title had been fully extinguished over
the whole area surveyed ; but, as by statute the claimants could only be granted 2,560 acres
each, the balance became vested in the Crown on the assumption of the sovereignty, owing
to the native title having been fully extinguished.

In many cases the titles did not issue to those to whom the land was awarded, as they were
compensated by scrip issued by the Government, with the understanding that such scrip was

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to be exercised in the purchase of Crown lands in the neighborhood of Auckland , to which
place it was desirable — so soon as the capital was founded — to draw a population. The lands
thus paid for in scrip became Crown lands, and these, tc^ether with the surplus lands, have
from time to time been disposed of and settled on. The amount of scrip, etc., issued up to
1862 was over ;f 109,000.

On the signing of the treaty of Waitangi on the 6th of February, 1840, the preemptive
right of purchase from the Maoris was ceded to the Queen, and consequently private purchase
ceased. This remained the law until the passing of "the native land act, 1862," when the
Crown relinquished its right of preemption, while at the same time the purchase of native
lands for the Crown did not abate, but continued side by side with the private purchases up
to the passing of "the native land court act, 1894."

From time to time since 1840 various sums were appropriated by Government or by Par-
liament for the acquisition of a Crown estate. Up to the date of passing of " the native land
act, 1862," these operations were conducted by officers of the Government specially appointed,
who, from a knowledge of the Maoris, their customs and disposition, were successful in se-
curing large areas of land for settlement. It must be conceded that their operations as a
whole were successful, and that the number of disputed cases arising out of their labors was
exceedingly small. The Waitara purchase is, however, here excluded, for there were reasons
of general policy affecting that sale which did not prevail in other cases. This purchase
was the ostensible cause of the war of i860 and following years, but the motives which led
to it were far deeper than the mere purchase of a few acres — there was a great principle at

The difference effected in the mode of purchase by "the native land act, 1862," was this:
Previously, the title of the Maoris who were to receive payment for the land was decided by
the land purchase officers; but the act quoted set up a court, presided over by able judges,
who determined the titles, which were afterwards registered in a special court Purchases
have since been effected with the registered owners.

It is difficult to obtain figures showing the actual area acquired by the Crown from the
Maoris up to 1870, but in round numbers it was 6,000,000 acres in the North Island; while
the whole of the Middle Island, with the exception of reserves for the original native owners,
was acquired prior to the passing of "the native lands act, 1862." Stewart Island was pur-
chased from the native owners by deed dated 29th of June, 1864.

The native rebellion of 1860-69 brought native land purchases, for the time being, prac-
tically to a standstill.

The immigration and public works acts of 1870 and 1873 appropriated ;^200,ooo and
;^500,ooo, respectjvely, for the purchase of lands in the North Island; and these amounts
have, up to the 31st of March, 1895, been augmented by further annual appropriations from
the public funds and other loan moneys, covering altogether a total expenditure since 1870 of
;f 1,497,422, with the following results: Area finally acquired in the North Island from natives,
from 1870 to the 31st of March, 1895, 5,958,415 acres; area under negotiation in the North
Island on 31st of March, 1895, 2,030,199 acres; interests therein finally acquired, 561423



The Crown lands are administered, under the authority of "the land act, 1892," by the
Honorable the Minister of Lands at Wellington. For convenience, the colony is divided
into ten land districts, each being under the local direction of a commissioner and a land
board. The commissioner's office is known as the principal land office, and in some of the
larger districts there are one or more suboffices. It is with these land offices the selector has
to transact all business, from the first consultation of the maps to the final receipt of the Crown

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Lxutd distruts and principal land offices.

The names of the land districts and of the towns where each principal office is situated
are, beginning with the most northerly and taking them geographically, as under:

Land district.

land office is situated.

Land district.

Town where principal
land office is situated.


New Plymouth.



Tar^n^Vi,,,., ...a.......



Hawke's Bay


Christ Church.







Classification of lands ^ etc.
Crown lands are divided into three classes:

(i) Town and village lands, the upset prices of which are, respectively, not less than ;^20
<^^ £Z P^i* acre; such lands are sold by auction.

(2) Suburban lands, the upset price of which may not be less than £2 an acre; these
lands are also sold at auction.

(3) Rural lands, which may be disposed of at not less than £l per acre for first-class,
and 5s. an acre for second-class lands ; such lands may be sold or leased by auction, or sold or
leased on application.

No rural section may be larger than 640 acres in extent if first-class land, or 2,000 acres
if second-class land, whether offered by auction or application. No person can select more
than 640 acres of first-class or 2,000 acres of second-class land, including therein any land
which he then holds. Pastoral runs are limited to areas which will carry 20,000 sheep or
4,000 cattle. No person can select more than one run.

Mode 0/ acquiring Crown lands.

Crown lands may be acquired as follows :

(i) By auction, after survey, in which case one-fifth of the price is paid down at the time
of sale, the balance within thirty days.

(2) By application, after the lands have been notified as open for selection, in which case

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 3 of 82)