Māori History

This appendix is provided to discuss in more detail the origins of Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the development of the unique and distinctive culture that evolved in this country. Māori history was oral and artistic, told through story, genealogical recitation, song, carving. Much of the traditional knowledge was lost when Māori Tohunga, wise people, were targeted for persecution and British Colonial Ethnologists retold origins in a manner that favoured European Colonialism. Origin stories which cast Māori as settlers have been promoted by colonial interests. This will look at the arrival of Europeans and the impacts from earliest contact to formal colonisation. Finally, it will explore the phenomenon now known as the Māori Renaissance (Walker, 1990), which has seen a revitalisation of Māori language and culture. It discusses those aspects of Māori culture that have survived the impacts of colonisation and social change, and which remain an important hallmark of both Māori and New Zealand society.

According to popular theories, Māori are part of the group of Polynesian peoples who first ventured into the South Pacific over three thousand years ago. Archaeological, linguistic and more recently genetic evidence, suggests that Polynesians originated in south-east Asia, with the strongest linguistic links to the Formosan languages of Taiwan. This Austronesian language family is found from Taiwan, throughout South East Asia, into the Pacific, and as far afield as Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Greenhill et al (2008) suggest there were two migrations of Austronesian languages, the first Malayo-Polynesian, is distributed across the Philippines, Indonesia and Melanesia. The second were the Oceanic languages of Polynesia and Micronesia.


Map of the expansion of Austronesian languages.
The Map above shows the expansion of Austronesian languages into the South Pacific and the approximate time span, estimating a departure from Taiwan some 5,000 years ago, with arrival in Fiji approximately 3,500 years ago, and to Aotearoa some 1,000 years ago. Whilst European peoples remained firmly bound to their traditional homelands, Polynesians cut a swath through the largest body of water on the planet, the Pacific Ocean, using knowledge of astronomy, winds, weather, and bird migration, passed on through oral traditions, without recourse to written text or mathematical equation, and bolstered by the sturdy outrigger canoe.

The theory of linguistic origins is further supported by archaeological evidence. In particular, the Lapita pottery, named for the village in New Caledonia where it was first found, carried distinctive patterns which can be found throughout Melanesia, New Caledonia and into Samoa, Fiji and Tonga. Though pottery was not produced by the Māori, Lapita patterns resonated in Māori art forms, as did the styles associated with adzes and fish-hooks, whose origins can be traced to Eastern Polynesia. Linguistic commonalities suggest that Māori are most closely linked to the peoples of Rarotonga, Tahiti and the Marquesas.

Whilst the exact date of arrival by Māori to Aotearoa New Zealand may be debated, what is not is that Māori were the people first to settle the country, to inhabit and name every corner of it. It is generally acknowledged that successive waves of waka (boat) arrived, over many hundreds of years, circumnavigating the country, and leaving groups to populate each area. Some Iwi claim descent from these waka, others have origins based in Aotearoa. These founding groups, and their canoe, continue to form the basis of whakapapa (genealogical) links for contemporary Māori to their tribal homelands. Thus, whilst Māori brought with them an existing Polynesian language and culture, over the centuries, both adapted to the new, and often harsher environment. It has been estimated that at the time of first contact, the population of Māori was approximately 100,000 (Wilson, 2012).

Whilst this discussion focuses on archaeological and linguistic ‘facts’ Māori society is as much influenced by culture and tradition. We acknowledge that Māori have dwelt in Aotearoa for approximately one thousand years in a tribal and kinship-based society, founded on a political economy that Mauss (1990) describes as based on gift exchange and reciprocity, common throughout the South Pacific. Henare (1998) has developed a succinct analysis of pre-European Māori society, based on the traditional philosophy, or Māori world-view, which determined economic and social relations. He has likened Māori world-view and cosmology to the koru, the unfurling fern frond, personifying new life and sustenance. This koru incorporates the key concepts, which bound traditional tribal society together.

Belief systems founded on kinship, solidarity, spirituality and guardianship were underpinned by values that exemplified the connectivity between all living things, the ancestral linkages to the gods from whom humankind originate, and the intrinsic sacredness of all things animate and inanimate. Thus, if all things are sacred and all things are connected, then one’s relationship to them is based on the need for mutual respect and care, a ‘humanism’ based on humanity and humility. From this world-view originates the political economy, which Henare describes as the ‘economy of affection’. That is, within this economy one accepts that one affects and is affected by all things corporeal and spiritual. These socio-cultural ‘affects’ determine ones’ sense of place, identity, ownership and relationships. The economy of affection is the polar opposite of the ‘economy of exploitation’ of contemporary Western, capitalist society.

Kaupapa Māori
Kaupapa Māori is a term that is increasingly used by Māori to describe this specifically Māori-centric philosophy and worldview. It can be viewed as both a set of beliefs (that which is tika, or true), and concomitant social practices (tikanga). For example, the importance of the collective is exemplified by whanaungatanga, which means kinship, and is practiced as a set of tikanga, protocols to enhance kinship. The interdependence between and among all living things is expressed as kōtahitanga, which means solidarity, and is expressed by tikanga to enhance unity and solidarity. The intimate relationship with the spiritual dimension is reflected in wairuatanga, which means spirituality, and this is expressed in a wide range of tikanga, including karakia (communion) and acknowledgement of wāhi tapu (spiritually significant and sacred places). These and other similar values (tika) and protocols (tikanga), shaped Māori beliefs and behaviour in traditional society, and continue to resonate in contemporary society. These tikanga shape the Māori worldview, which in turn underpin Māori activities.

The discussion of Kaupapa Māori encourages a deeper exploration of the knowledge system out of which Kaupapa Māori emerges. Reverend Māori Marsden is acknowledged as an eminent writer on traditional Māori knowledge, about whom Royal has noted, “Māori [Marsden] prescribed and described a tremendous amount concerning the Māori worldview or Māoritanga. I now believe that he has bequeathed to us a complex and sophisticated model of Māoritanga that is appropriate for us today”, (2003, p. x).

According to Marsden, “The route to Māoritanga through abstract interpretation is a dead end. Māoritanga is a thing of the heart rather than the head”, (Royal, 2003, pp. 2). Marsden compared Māori thinking with contemporary physics theory, when he wrote, “The three-world view of the New Physicists, with its idea of a real world behind the world of sense-perception, consisting of a series of processes and complex patterns of energy, coincides with the Māori world view. The Māori, however, goes beyond this schema and asks us to conceive of different levels of processes which together comprise the world of spirit which is ultimate reality”, (Royal, 2003, p. 111).

For the ancient Māori, the origin of the universe begins with Io, the root of the cosmological tree of life. Io is a numinous entity, the embodiment of potentiality, rather not a specific being. This swirl of cosmic energy exists across eons, spawning Te Korekore, Te Kōwhao, Te Pō (the void, the abyss, and the long night); the realms of potential being. These forces, which evolved over numerous generations and identities eventually formed Te Pū, the foundation principle of all things, comprising elemental energy, emerging consciousness and the realm of the mind. From Te Pū sprang words and wisdom, the first breath of the spirit of life, the realm of mauri.

It is in this time-space continuum that the first traces of life emerged, in the form of Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother. They existed in the realm of Te Pō, creating a pantheon of children, ‘ngā atua’, the guardians of all aspects of life, including humankind. It was the children of Rangi and Papa, seeking light and life by forcing apart the tight embrace of their parents, who formed the world of light, Te Ao Mārama. This evolutionary process is encapsulated by the statement ‘I te Kore, ki Te Pō, ki Te Ao Mārama’, from chaos to cosmos, an often heard phrase in whaikōrero, traditional Māori oratory.

Ngā atua, the children of Rangi and Papa generated life on earth. The name of the specific atua that created the first human varies across tribes, but the common notion is that Hine-Ahu-One, woman fashioned from the earth, is the founding ancestor of humankind. Her daughter, Hine Tītama, the first woman, eventually mated with her father. Upon discovering her incestuous relationship, she was so appalled she submerged into the after-life, thereby becoming Hine-Nui-Te-Pō, the woman of the long, dark night, the guardian of death, the portal through which we all return to Papatuanuku, our mother the earth.

This whakapapa details the genealogical connection between humans, the universe and the spiritual realm. Our cosmological parents have imbued humankind with their spiritual gifts, as do all parents. Marsden has provided a summary of these spiritual gifts, tāonga, some of which are presented here:

Tapu: “Tapu refers to the state that an object or person is in, having come into possession of a mana. In order to remain in possession of this mana, one needs to fulfil certain conditions and adhere to certain practices (tikanga and kawa). This entire process, however, is predicated upon the presence of mauri within the object or person itself who becomes the receptacle (taunga) of this mana. The presence of mauri within a physical object or person is necessary before a mana can come into it”, (Royal, 2006, p. 7).

Ihi: the vital force or personal magnetism which, radiating from a person, elicits in the beholder a sense of awe and respect.

Mana: spiritual authority, power and charisma, about which Marsden wrote, “Mana as authority means lawful; permission delegated by the gods to their human agent to act on their behalf and in accordance with their revealed will… power in action, power to perform miraculous works, and the power of the spoken word. To the Māori, mana includes all these ideas, but eventually it means that which manifests the power of the gods”, (Royal, 2003, p. 4).
Further, Marsden noted that, “We can be nothing; we can do nothing, without mana, or power. Our mana is actualisation, the realisation of our tapu… All the mana of the human person can be seen as coming from the three sources and is named from those sources- mana whenua from the power of the land, mana tangata from our bond with the people, and mana atua, from our bond with the spiritual powers and ultimately with Io”, (cited in Shirres, 1997, p. 18).
Another Māori intellectual, Cram (1993) has argued that the purpose of Māori knowledge is to uphold the mana of our communities. She states that Pākehā, on the other hand, view knowledge as cumulative, whose component parts can be drawn together to discover universal laws. Thus, we can conclude that the Kaupapa Māori paradigm embraces traditional beliefs, whilst incorporating contemporary resistance strategies that embody the drive for ‘tino rangatiratanga’, self-determination and empowerment for Māori people, as opposed to the subjugation wrought by the colonial experience.

First Contact
In the earliest era of contact with Europeans, the experiences, by and large, were mutually beneficial. By the time Europeans first began to arrive, Māori communities were spread throughout the country. The first recorded arrival was Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1642. He named and charted Van Diemen’s Land, the West Coast of Australia. He arrived at the northernmost point of the South Island, now known as Golden Bay. One can assume his experiences of early Māori were less than salubrious, as Tasman gave the name Murderer’s Bay to his first landing point. Abel believed he was still navigating Staten Landt (Tasmania). Once it was realised that this landmass was not part of Australia, the name Nova Zeelandia, or Nieuw Zeeland was attributed to the country, and appeared on maps in Europe from 1645.

It took more than one hundred years before Europeans again ventured towards New Zealand. Captain James Cook was the next recorded visitor, after sailing to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus, arriving in New Zealand on October 6th 1769. Whilst in Tahiti, Cook had taken on board a Polynesian navigator, called Tupaia, about whom Druett (2011) writes:
“The Endeavour voyage had been blessed with the most intelligent and eloquent Polynesian intermediary in the history of European discovery: That Cook’s and Banks’ Endeavour journals are great travel stories with remarkable insight, destined to be everlastingly popular, is directly due to Tupaia. The story of that voyage should be that of three extraordinary men, not just two, but Cook’s moment of malice and the silence that followed have ensured that until very recent times Tupaia has been almost invisible.”

It is known that Cook’s encounters with Māori were certainly more productive than those of Tasman, and having someone on board who could speak a semblance of the Māori language, and who was familiar with Polynesian welcome protocols, must have been advantageous. Thus, Cook travelled and mapped the New Zealand coastline, and alongside the botanist, Joseph Banks collected invaluable information about the indigenous flora, fauna and people.
Two months after Cook, De Surville, a French explorer also arrived in New Zealand. These two were evidence of the growing interest by European nations to explore and trade in the South Pacific. De Surville, aboard the St Jean Batiste arrived in Doubtless Bay (Northland) in December 1769, just as Cook was departing. Unfortunately, De Surville’s encounters with Māori were not so positive, as he took brutal reprisal for the loss of a ship’s boat, by kidnapping and killing a local chief. This may have coloured the Māori view of new arrivals, for when Marion du Fresne arrived in 1771, he was first welcomed into the Bay of Islands (Northland) where he moored for three months to repair his vessels. However, the French presence may have exacerbated earlier inter-tribal rivalries, as they conducted extensive trade with the locals, or the visitors may have ignored or abused some important protocol. Regardless of the cause, in mid-June 1772 du Fresne and twenty-four others were killed, which led to savage reprisals and a hasty retreat. An important legacy of Du Fresne’s visit is the extensive records he and his crew made of Māori life at that time (Dumas, 1949), and the goods they traded with local communities, which must have whet the appetite for these exotic and extraordinary items. European pigs and chickens, nails, axes and other tools previously unknown to the Māori would have been a strong incentive to maintain good relations with these pale-skinned visitors.

There are no more official visits to New Zealand recorded for the next twenty years, but by the 1790s, the inexhaustible thirst for whale oil to light up the Northern Hemisphere drove whaling ships further south into the Pacific. British, Dutch, French, Russian, German, Spanish and American whalers and sealers visited in unprecedented numbers to trade for fresh food and water, among other things. According to NZ History,

“Contact was regional in its nature; many Māori had no contact with Europeans. Where contact did occur, Europeans had to work out a satisfactory arrangement with Māori, who were often needed to provide local knowledge, food, resources, companionship, labour and, most important of all, guarantee the newcomers’ safety. Māori were quick to recognise the economic benefits to be gained in developing a relationship with these newcomers”.

Some Māori joined the vessels, travelling overseas, others worked inshore, in some cases setting up their own stations to support the trade and encourage the visitors. Thus, trade and cordial relations with the outsiders became normalised, particularly for those tribes living in coastal regions.

The first settlement of Europeans which could be described as a town was Kororāreka, in the Bay of Islands, now known as Russell, which could be reached easily and safely by visiting whalers and sealers. Wilson (2012) states that,
“From the 1790s, Māori produced pork and potatoes for this trade. The other main area of early interaction between Māori and others was the Foveaux Strait sealing grounds. The presence of traders drew Māori to particular places; having a European living among them gave some tribal groups an advantage in the race to acquire European goods, especially firearms”.
It was no doubt during this time that common terms to describe each other became utilised. For example, the word Māori means ‘common, normal’, and would have been how the indigenous people described themselves to foreigners. Prior to the arrival of foreigners, there was no need for a generic name for Māori, as their primary identification was through tribe and canoe. Conversely, the word Pākehā was adopted by Māori to describe Europeans or foreigners and gradually came into common usage. Wikipedia notes that, “The etymology of Pākehā is unknown, although the most likely sources are the words pākehakeha or pakepakehā, which refer to mythical human-like creatures, with fair skin and hair, sometimes described as having come from the sea”.
Further, according to Ranford (nd),
“Pākehā is in common usage, but many have difficulty in defining its meaning. From early records it is clear that the term was used in New Zealand before 1815 to mean ‘white person’. Initially a Pākehā was that person who came from England, and settled or worked in New Zealand. With time, Pākehā was the fair-skinned person who was born in New Zealand. Later the term was even more general. It was applied to all fair-skinned people in New Zealand, no matter what their ancestry or place of birth. By 1960, Pākehā was defined as “a person in New Zealand of predominantly European Ancestry”, (Ausubel, 1960). The English – Māori: Māori – English Dictionary (Briggs, 1990) defines Pākehā as “white (person)”. Kiwi Words and Phrases (Campbell, 1999) defines Pākehā as a “non-Māori person”. Mary-Ellen O’Connor (1990) defines Pākeha as “the dominant white race in New Zealand”.

By the 21st Century the term Pākehā has become contentious for some who feel it is derogatory or relates to being a foreigner, whilst others embrace it as a way to describe themselves as part of the Aotearoa New Zealand landscape. Also ‘new’ New Zealanders of non-European descent may not feel the word describes them. Debate continues about the use of the word, but it is frequently used by Māori to describe anyone of Anglo-descent. We know from the letter sent written in 1831 by rangatira (chiefs) in the Far North to King William IV, who were concerned about the increasing visits from the French, and wanted to secure a relationship with the British. Their letter was translated by the missionary William Yate, and uses the word ‘Pākehā’ to describe the British, and refers to ‘tauiwi’ as strangers (Henare, 2007).

Regardless of how they described each other, relationships between Māori and Pākehā flourished in the early 19th Century, despite occasional enmity, such as the deaths of seaman from Du Fresne’s and Furneaux’s expeditions, and the attack of the Boyd vessel in Whangaroa in 1809. However, one particularly zealous missionary in New South Wales, Samuel Marsden was very keen to set up a permanent mission in New Zealand. Marsden met and was impressed by chief Tippahee (Te Pahi) on his visit to Port Jackson. Marsden found Māori to be, “possessed in an eminent degree of many excellent qualities of the heart that would do honour to the most civilised people. Among the different New Zealanders thus brought to Port Jackson, some were chiefs or kings, supposed to have considerable influence with their countrymen, who yielded a ready obedience to their authority. The most remarkable of these was Te Pahi, who came to the colony during the time of Governor King, from the Bay of Islands, where by the account of himself he was a ruler of great power and extensive possessions” (Nicholas, 1817, p.8).

Later, Marsden met Te Pahi’s nephew, Ruatara, whom he encountered in England. Marsden helped him return to New Zealand. In 1814, Ruatara and his uncle Hongi Hika visited Port Jackson, where they learned about European agriculture and military techniques and acquired the first muskets and ammunition. After meeting Marsden, they extended an offer to open a mission in the North. As a consequence, five men and their families, Marsden, Kendall, Hall, King and Nicholas were dispatched to New Zealand.

Hika formed a close bond with Marsden and Kendall, providing them with land and protection. This relationship was mutually beneficial, as Hika also gained access to their contacts and good relations with visiting ships. In 1820, Hika and a companion Waikato accompanied Kendall to England for five months, ostensibly to meet with Professor Samuel Lee, a prominent linguist, at Cambridge University, to assist with a dictionary of the Māori language. Whilst in England they met with a number of dignitaries, including King William IV, who showered the natives with gifts, including a full suit of armour. On their return they stopped in New South Wales, where Hika collected an estimated five hundred muskets purchased by Baron Charles de Thierry for land in the Hokianga (Moon, 2012).

From 1821, Hika, and his Ngā Puhi tribe, now well armed, began a series of campaigns of retribution around the country, most prominently against Ngāti Whātua, and the tribes of Waikato and Rotorua. Whilst the initial attacks were highly successful, enemy tribes soon learned that access to muskets would protect them from future conflict. However, this period in the 1820s has come to be known as the Musket Wars (Crosby, 1999).

The historian, James Belich (1986) has suggested the “Potato Wars” is a more accurate name for these battles, because the potato revolutionised the Māori economy. For Ballara (2003), Māori adopted potatoes and they became a key staple with better food-value for weight than the kūmara (sweet potato), it was far easier to cultivate and store. Unlike the kūmara, potatoes could be planted and sown by slaves and women, thus freeing men up to go to war. Belich saw this logistical fuelling the long range taua (war parties) that made the Musket Wars viable. Slaves captured during massive musket war raids could be put to work tending potatoes, thereby building the industrial complexes of tribes engaged in these skirmishes. This can be seen in the progressive size of the war parties, starting at around one hundred and reaching one to two thousand within a few years of the arrival of the musket. Because Ngā Puhi was the first tribe to engage in this type of warfare, they were also the most successful in the earlier stages of the ‘war’. This could also explain why Ngā Puhi continues to be the largest of the Māori tribes.

By the 1830s, after a decade of unprecedented tribal warfare and slaughter, increasing numbers of Māori found respite in the teachings of peace and forgiveness espoused by Christianity and this decade saw a decline in inter-tribal conflict and a massive growth in Christian conversion. Also, in this decade, there was a growing recognition that trade and industry was returning greater benefits than muskets and warfare. According to Petrie (2002), in 1830, twenty eight ships made fifty six voyages between Sydney and New Zealand carrying Māori agricultural produce. However, Britain was not the primary customer for Māori. Sealskins were traded to China, and American whaling ships continued to visit long after Australian and British vessels. Whilst trade flourished, Māori also recognised the need for trade protection. For example, in 1830 a Māori trading vessel was seized in Sydney because it did not display a national flag. There was also a growing awareness amongst some tribes that the French were showing an increasing interest in New Zealand. It is no surprise then that the previously mentioned letter from chiefs in the North was sent to King William in 1831, seeking his protection.

Petrie (2002: 3) states that,
“Their address, citing sales of timber, flax, pork, and potatoes to British traders, and claiming that his country was the only one well disposed to them, was laid before a meeting of the New South Wales Executive Council on 22 December 1831. Governor Darling and his successor, Major-General Sir Richard Bourke, stressed the importance of Māori trade to the colony of New South Wales and Great Britain. Bourke expressed eagerness to ‘conciliate the good will of the Chiefs’ and encourage the production of goods needed by Britain and New South Wales. Trade figures supplied by the Sydney Customs House, showing imports from New Zealand to that town with a declared value of £34,282 12s 0d and exports to New Zealand valued at £30,760 2s 9d between 1 January and 8 December 1831, were also laid before the Council. On the basis of these documents and representations made by missionaries and Sydney-based merchants, James Busby was appointed British Resident in 1833”.

Within two years of his arrival, Busby provided the Northern Tribes with support for and translation of their burgeoning political aspirations. Among these was a request to the British Parliament for recognition of their national flag and a Declaration of Independence, signed by the Confederation of United Chiefs on October 28th 1835. The Confederation would take responsibility for framing laws and the regulation of trade.


The Flag of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand, later adopted as the flag of P&O Shipping Line
There are some historians who have attributed the creation of the flag and the Declaration of Independence entirely to Busby’s influence (Moon). However, from a Māori perspective it makes no sense that an Englishman, an avowed imperialist, would encourage the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand to adopt a political system that was anathema to Britain at that time. This is particularly true given the outcomes of the 1776 war with the United States, out of which was formed one of the only other federal political systems at that time. What is far more logical is that the ongoing contact with American vessels and people, who would no doubt have espoused the value of their political might and system could have influenced the thinking of the chiefs. Certainly, federalism most closely suited the needs of Māori tribes, who would want to hold onto their tribal sovereignty, whilst participating in a national political structure that could best meet their international trading needs.

Another important point about the Declaration is that it was signed by Waikato, the chief who had accompanied Hika to Britain fifteen years earlier, who had survived the Musket Wars, and participated in the evolution of Ngā Puhi military, political and economic force. It seems unlikely that this man would have been seduced by the persuasion of a missionary, and far more likely that he would have had his own sound reasons for supporting a national flag and federal system. Further, the Declaration was signed by chiefs as far south as Ngāti Kahungunu and Lake Taupo, among those was Te Wherowhero, who was considered significant enough to be invited to become the first Māori King, and who never signed the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene, articulated the aspirations of tribes to form a national polity, retain their tribal sovereignty, receive acknowledgement of their status from the British Crown, and the protection of their trading interests by the Royal Navy. The Declaration has four clauses. The first defines the Independent State of the United Tribes of New Zealand. The second states that sovereignty resides in the chiefs. The third clause states the intention of the chiefs to meet regularly to make laws, and the final clause asks the King of England to be ‘the parent of their infant state and its protector from all attempts upon its independence’.

Colonisation & Renaissance
The Māori language version of the Declaration makes clear that signatories understood the difference between ‘rangatiratanga’ (sovereignty) and ‘kawanatanga’ (governance). However, less than five years later, many of these same chiefs were supposed to have happily given away their sovereignty by signing the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6th 1840. The Māori language version of the Treaty cedes kawanatanga to Queen Victoria. The English language version ceded sovereignty. It is the opposing language of these two versions of the Treaty which has resulted in outright warfare between Māori and the Crown and an ongoing legacy of antipathy and grievance. However, in the earliest days of formal annexation of New Zealand by Britain there were high hopes espoused by both parties that this document would lead to a better and stronger New Zealand.

The breakdown in relations between the tribes and the early governors of New Zealand is well recorded (Scott, 1975; Adams, 1977; Orange, 1989; Durie, 1998). It was only a matter of months before the chiefs realised their relationship with the British Crown was not to be the mutually beneficial partnership they had envisaged, but one of British control over trade, legislation, jurisdiction and all other social institutions. Māori antipathy and protest eventually resulted in the Land Wars, most historians referring to the open conflicts of the 1850’s-1860’s. Whilst Māori proved to be worthy opponents to the British and settler militia, ultimately the sheer weight and force of the Crown wore down Māori resistance. From the period of the late 1800’s until the mid-1900’s Māori have progressively suffered the consequences of a conquered people. The economic dominance of the new settlers was reinforced by repressive legislation, military and judicial might, which combined to undermine the collective ownership of resources, and served to individuate and expropriate Māori lands. The results of this economic oppression have been devastating for Māori. However, more subversive and odious has been the socio-cultural oppression of Māori. This has resulted not just in the loss of land by stealth, and the loss of people through disease, poverty and despair, but the loss of language, culture, cosmology and identity. By the mid-1950’s Māori was a dying language and Māori people suffered the very real threat of death by assimilation. Over the same period, European settlers grew in wealth and opportunity, on the backs of the expropriated land and the diminishing mana of Māori people.

In the aftermath of the Second World War Māori began an unprecedented urban migration. Whilst this further served the needs of assimilation it also introduced increasing numbers of traditionally isolated and rural Māori to the institutions, the technologies and the opportunities of the Post War economy. Māori became educated, embourgoisened and empowered to the extent that by the 1970’s the Māori Renaissance was borne and fully acknowledged. The Māori struggle was founded on demands for Māori sovereignty, acknowledgement of the Treaty of Waitangi as the constitutional basis of New Zealand society, and demands for redress for Treaty grievances. A Māori Land March in 1975 brought together diverse groups of activists and Māori organisations to highlight the plight of Māori people. In the same year, the National government created a Tribunal to look at Treaty grievances. However, it was not until the Labour government of 1984 that the Waitangi Tribunal was given the power to look retrospectively back to 1840, and the potential of the Tribunal to require the New Zealand government to address the grievances unearthed in their findings.

Since 1985 successive New Zealand governments have devolved hundreds of millions of dollars to tribes as part of settlement of grievances arising from the Treaty of Waitangi. Since that time, Māori have grown in political strength and unity, particularly since the introduction of proportional representation to the New Zealand political process in 1996. However, Māori still languish economically, socially and culturally. Movements such as Te Kōhanga Reo (the Māori language early childcare system), Kura Kaupapa Māori (Māori language primary and secondary education), Whare Wānanga (three Māori universities), Taura Whiri I Te Reo, the Māori Language Commission, Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Broadcasting Authority, and a raft of other organisations have engendered the potential for positive change. It is out of this milieu that the Māori screen industry has evolved, and the recognition by growing numbers of New Zealanders that an understanding of Māori society and culture adds, rather than detracts, from social and business endeavours.

In summary, the section of the Brown Book has been compiled to complement the more in-depth history provided in Te Urutahi Koataata, and to add to the body of work that illustrates and shares the history of Māori people and society, one which continues to evolve and contribute to New Zealand society.

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