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The Aroha block from 1880 onwards

With the discovery of gold in 1880 and the pressure to open the land for mining, there was a need to determine the boundaries of the Ngati Rahiri reserves and to subdivide these amongst the owners. As well, terms for paying goldfields revenue had to be negotiated before the goldfield could be opened, and after its opening the claims of Maori with little or no basis for their claims of ownership had to be investigated. Wairakau reserve, outside the goldfield, was not subdivided until mid-1882, and arguments over the ownership of Tui Pa continued well into the twentieth century. At first, sales of Crown land found few takers, especially because the farm sections required draining before they could be developed. Ngati Rahiri reserves were designated as being inalienable, but they could be leased for 21 years, as some portions were, at low rates. Very quickly, officials, who feared Maori would become landless, had to fend off requests to remove restrictions on sale made by owners who in some instances lived far from Te Aroha and who all wanted to obtain money from selling land of little use to them. The indebtedness of some owners led to continued pressure to sell, though often the money they received was wasted. With the fading of the goldfield, miners sought land for farms, and were frustrated at the Crown not purchasing the Ngati Rahiri reserves. Land was acquired by the Crown to extend the hot springs domain, and after negotiating improved leases in the Te Aroha township the freehold of this settlement was acquired. Some Maori retained their land, which Pakeha accused them of not improving; Maori requests that the government provide training in farming methods were ignored. By the twentieth century most Ngati Rahiri had become landless, but as many examples illustrate, this was commonly because cash-strapped owners insisted on selling their interests for an immediate financial return.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). The Aroha block from 1880 onwards. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 14), Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart