….colonisation...moved rapidly.

A serious attempt was made by the second colonial Governor, Robert Fitzroy (1843-45) to respect the promises made to Maori in the English text of the Treaty. Fitzroy, although convinced of his own cultural superiority, was a proponent of the humanitarian idealism that had earlier championed Maori rights. Soon after assuming his post, however, he found himself in an impossible situation, charged with developing a colony without adequate financial resources. On the one hand he had the honour of the Crown and upholding Treaty promises made to Maori, and on the other he faced the increasing expectations of settlers and a growing financial crisis [made worse] by the enormous pressure exerted by the New Zealand Company.

Fitzroy introduced policies such as waiving [the Crowns right of] pre-emption [meaning that Maori could sell their land to who they wanted] and he introduced direct taxes to deal with the financial crisis, without the authority from the Colonial Office. His intention was to both protect Maori interests and help the settlers purchase cheaper land, but these policies were often at odds. His recall to London after two years, engineered by the New Zealand Company, was a bitter blow for the missionaries and humanitarians. The company was determined to pursue its goal for systematic colonisation with little regard for the Crown’s Treaty obligations or Maori as a sovereign people. George Grey, who was anti missionary and more sympathetic to the New Zealand Company, replaced Fitzroy.

From 1846 the legislative process became increasingly anti-Maori and anti-Treaty. The new Governor soon restored the right of Crown pre-emption [first dibs at buyin Maori land] with the Native Land Purchase Act of 1846 which directly overrode the provisions of the Treaty. This Act also made Maori land ownership uneconomic by outlawing leases and restricting trade in timber and flax, which put pressure on Maori owners to sell.

When Maori had signed the Treaty they understood that the right of pre-emption was a protection clause that gave the Crown the first right of refusal; that it was primarily a mechanism to protect Maori from unscrupulous Europeans. In fact the Crown used its right of pre-emption to acquire Maori land at low prices, onselling much of it to settlers at significant profits in order to raise funds to develop infrastructure in the rapidly growing colony. Many Maori, who were initially welcoming of settlers, became willing sellers in the belief that they were entering into the equivalent of a leasing arrangement only to find later that private title meant that the land had gone for ever.

Maori soon found that the Crown, manipulating the law to its own advantage, began removing land from Maori ownership by any means, including deception.

The Kemp Purchase was the largest block of land ever bought by the Crown. In 1848 the Crown purchased 8 million hectares (almost a third of the country’s land area) in the South Island from Ngai Tahu for 2000 pounds on the condition that the tribe would retain their villages and homes, their gardens and natural food resources, as well as substantial additional lands. Not only were these conditions never honoured but the Crown also manipulated the sale to obtain further land without the knowledge or consent of Ngai Tahu. The deal had the effect of reducing Ngai Tahu’s remaining lands to “a pitiful remnant of their previous vast territory”.

In 1852 the New Zealand Constitution Act created the first New Zealand Parliament. Voting was based on individual title to land, which had the effect of excluding Maori from political power because Maori land was communally owned. Despite the fact that Section 71 of this act allowed for Maori authority over certain areas of the country ( by establishing Native Districts where Maori rules would apply) successive settler governments refused to implement it.

By the late 1850’s settlers were pouring into the country with an expectation of land but were met with increasing Maori resistance to sell. While settlers had been in the minority, the colonial government was limited in its ability to enforce British rule, but as settlers became the majority population and the demand for land outstripped supply, the Crown exerted its own determination to control the manner of land acquisition, often defying Maori wishes.

In 1858 the King Movement emerged within the Tainui Confederation of Tribes, proposing a parallel parliament based on shared sovereignty and seeking to stop all further land sales. The settler Parliament refused to recognise or resource this or subsequent efforts by Maori to establish their own parliament and proceeded to develop coercive [tricky] mechanisms to ensure that the alienation of Maori land continued. A series of events starting at Waitara in 1860 ...led to the the land wars or as Claudia Orange refers to them as “the wars of soveriegnty”.

At the same time as this laws were passed from 1862 in the form of Native land Acts which effectively required many Maori owners to attend lengthy court hearings to prove ownership and then sell land to meet the court costs. Land Titles could be granted if there were no Maori challenge, even if the real owners did not know of the claim. [effectively with these Native Land Courts, if they didn’t turn up to defend their titles then it could be sold].

The Native Land Court established in 1865 (known to Maori as the Land-taking court) became a vehicle [way] to transfer and privatise [one owner only] ownership of Maori land regardless of Maori consent [giving the ok or not]. It was in opposition to Maori customary ownership traditions. The effect of the legislation aimed at individualising Maori land ownership was to make sales easier for settlers and to destroy the power of the tribal system.

Apart from the Native Land Acts, two other laws of the 1860’s deserve special note. The 1863 New Zealand Settlement Act which enabled the Crown to confiscate land and property from any Maori who were believed to be in rebellion, whether the land belonged to the ‘rebels’ or not. [Whakatohea]. Some 1.3 million hectares was confiscated under this Act, with the assistance of 28,000 imperial troops brought to New Zealand from 1856 by Governor Grey to subdue Maori. The Settlement Acts were underpinned by the 1863 Suppression of Rebellion Act which suspended basic rights for those found to be rebellion against the Crown, carrying a penalty of confiscation and death. the main beneficiaries of these acts were the Crown and land speculators.

[Finally] in 1877 in [the court case] Wi Parata v. the Anglican Bishop of Wellington, Maori sought to reclaim title to land earlier gifted for the purpose of building a church that had never eventuated. In its decision the court declared the Treaty of Waitangi a legal nullity because it had not been incorporated into statute [law]. The ruling failed to uphold aboriginal common-law rights firmly embedded in English law, which guaranteed that the first occupants of a country had a natural right to the lands occupied by them. This landmark decision was directly contrary to the Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852 and some colonial statutes [laws] of the 1860’s. Yet it was to inform legal thinking for the next hundred years.

Extent and rate of Maori land deprivation overall was incredible. by the late 1860’s almost all the 14 million hectares of the South Island and about 3 million in the North Island had been purchased by the Crown. By 1899 a further 4.5 million hectares was acquired under the Native land Acts.

Such was the confusion in law and practice relating to land that in 1891 the government set up a commission of inquiry chaired by William Rees. the purpose was to inquire into the working of Maori Land law. In the final report the authors concluded “that lawyers of high standing and extensive practice have testified on oath that if the legislature had desired to create a state of confusion and anarchy in native land titles it could not have hoped to be more successful.”

Dom Felice Vaggioli, an Italian monk whose observations of life in New Zealand in the late 19th century were so critical of British settlers that his book was eventually banned, … He wrote:” The legal fraternity had no qualms about joining with settlers in their ...greed in sucking Maori dry in the Native land Courts.”

...The Education Ordinance introduced by Governor grey in 1847 began a process of continuous government policy designed to accelerate the process of settlement, to establish and strengthen Pakeha institutions, and to encourage assimilation. ...Methodists, Anglican and Catholic missions [were offered subsidies] to run boarding schools for Maori children, removing them from their villages, placing them in culturally foreign environment and exposing them to ‘religious education, industrial training and instruction in the English language.”

Later in the late 1860’s “Native Schools’” aimed to ‘civilise’ Maori children and prepare them for manual or labouring work, emphasising order, discipline, respect for the British Empire and the development of practical skills, with little regard for Maori cultural values. Their goal was not to extend the pupils intellectually but rather to provide them with sufficient schooling to become law-abiding citizens. English was the medium of instruction and may Maori children were physically punished for speaking their own language in the classroom and playground. These practices served to discourage many maori from maintaining their language - the lifeblood of any culture.

...Maori Dispossessed and Marginalised
From the time of the signing of the Treaty until the mid-1970’s maori went from being an industrious, vibrant, economically viable and entrepreneurial society successfully adapting to a rapidly changing world to a dispossessed, marginalised, threatened and involuntary minority population in their own country. Maori were becoming strangers in their own land. .

---the Native Reserves Act of 1864… allowed the Crown to lease all remaining Native Reserves to Pakeha farmers at token rentals.

In the 1890’s responding to the Rees Commission the government passed a series of laws such as the Native Land Purchase Act of 1892, the Native Land Purchase and Acquisition Act of 1893, the Native Land Validation of Titles Act of 1893 and the Native Land Court Act of 1894. Historian Tim Brooking sums up the results: “Most of the Maori land was actually acquired in the 1890’s (2.7 million acres) by the state and about 400,000 (acres) by private individuals), despite the determined ...opposition of Kotahitanga, Kingitanga and all the Maori MP)’s other than James Carroll. ...grab of farmable Maori land ensured that most first class land had passed from Maori hands by 1900.”

...Maori were often also denied government assistance to the rest of the population. Under the Advances to Settlers Act of 1894 low-interest loans were made available to Pakeha settlers. At the turn of the century many older maori found themselves excluded from receiving the newly introduced old-age pension because they could not prove their age and it was assumed they had land resources to rely on.

After World War I, Pakeha returned servicemen went into a ballot for a farm, while their Maori counterparts were excluded on the basis that Maori communities already had land of their own.

During the Great Depression unemployed Maori men were entitled to only half the unemployment benefit received by Pakeha men. The assumption was that Maori had land resources to sustain them. Yet this [all] contravened Article Three of the Treaty of Waitangi which guaranteed Maori the same citizenship rights as Pakeha.