History of the Trust

Historical Background

Hapu from Taranaki moved to Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington and Hutt Valley regions) in a series of excursions and migrations dating from approximately 1817 When William Wakefield arrived in Wellington Harbour in 1839 the Taranaki hapu (primarily Te Ati Awa, Taranaki, Ngati Tama and Ngati Ruanui) were settled around the inner Harbour, extending into the outer Harbour, Hutt Valley and South coast regions.

The Tenths reserves scheme involved the division of New Zealand regions into urban and rural sections. The sections were pre-sold in Britain then balloted as settlers immigrated to New Zealand. The Wellington region (known as the Port Nicholson Block) was the first in the country to be subjected to Wakefield’s ‘Tenths Scheme’, followed shortly there-after by Taranaki (the Fitzroy Block). The ‘Wellington Tenths Trust’ is so named in reference to this first contact with colonization.

The origin of the Tenths goes back to the 1839 deed of purchase concluded by William Wakefield on behalf of the New Zealand Company, which promised the chiefs of Wellington that, in addition to retaining their pa sites, kainga, cultivations and mahinga kai: “A portion of the land ceded by them, equal to one-tenth part of the whole, will be reserved by….the New Zealand Company….and held in trust by them for the future benefit of the said chiefs, their families, and their heirs for ever”.

In September 1841, Halswell was instructed on the management of the native reserves by Governor Hobson. The instructions were that the reserves could be leased out subject to certain conditions, and that the rental income from them was to be used for:
  • The education and religious instruction of Maori;
  • The improvement of the Maori Churches at Te Aro and Pipitea;
  • The funding of a dispensary and medical advice;
  • The funding of a schoolmaster and school for Maori children.

Evidence presented to the Waitangi Tribunal (2003) recorded that achievement of these aims was patchy at best. Rental income was largely diverted into administration costs for Crown employees, with some paid to European settlers in Taranaki.

The original reserves, set out in the 1844 deed of release, reserved 110 one-acre town sections and 39 country sections of 100 acres. In 1847 Colonel McCleverty assigned to Maori of various pa 45 urban tenths and 3162 acres in rural tenths, in exchange for other original tenths land claimed by settlers. In addition, some 65 urban tenths and 738 acres of rural tenths assigned from the initial deed of purchase for Port Nicholson (Wellington) were confirmed. It is from this assignment that the present land holdings of the Wellington Tenths Trust are derived. Despite the 1839 agreement and the subsequent (post-1840) assumption of this agreement by the Crown, the Native Land Court did not determine the beneficial ownership of the Tenths until 1888.

From 1848 to 1882 the reserves were administered by a Commissioner of Native Reserves. The Public Trustee assumed administration from 1887 to 1923, when it transferred to the ‘Native’ (and subsequently ‘Maori’) Trustee. In 1977, as the result of a Commission of Inquiry into Maori Reserved Lands, Maori owners were given the option of establishing Trusts or Incorporations to manage their own lands. In a consensus decision by the beneficial Maori owners, New Zealand Guardian Trust was appointed as Custodian Trustee (required under the Maori Reserved Lands legislation) along with a group of Advisory Trustees appointed by the Maori Land Court. After a change in legislation in 2007, the Wellington Tenths Trust took over full responsibilities of management of the Trust – no longer being required to have a Custodian Trustee.