Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Native Land Settlement
Native Land Settlement
In a statement which Sir A. T. Ngata presented to Parliament in 1931, he pointed out that the main weakness in connection with the earlier native lands legislation was that it centred around the fabric of a communal title without, until later years, devising ways of circumventing or escaping from its toils. The indiscriminate pursuit of subdivision among individual owners now lay at the root of many of the difficulties in settling native lands. Drastic methods had been adopted by Parliament from time to time in the interests of settlement: viz. the vesting of large areas in the Public Trustee or in special boards, such as the East Coast Trust, cr, later, in Maori Land Boards, or in the Public Trustee for administration. In none of these plans, however, was the settlement of the Maori upon the land a feature, and they were not supported by the goodwill of the communities interested.
Te Kooti Rikirangi
Instigator of Poverty Bay and Mohaka Massacres.
From a painting by T. Ryan.
Col T. W. Porter, c.b.
Commander of 7th and 9th N. Z. Contingents in Boer War.
Major R. N. Biggs.
O.C. Poverty Bay. Slain by Te Kooti Rebels, 10 November, 1868.
Hon. Mokena Kohere, m.l.c.
Noted loyal Waiapu chief.
Next came the consolidation of interests plan, which aimed at gathering into one location, or, if that was found impossible, into only a few locations, the scattered interests of individuals or of families. Commencing in 1911 with the Waipiro blocks, the principle had been extended until, by 1931, it applied to native lands in five counties on the East Coast and in the Bay of Plenty, five in the King Country, and to practically the whole of the native land north of Auckland.
“It is now,” Sir Apirana continued, “a stupendous undertaking…. Wherever it has been applied, the Maori communities have been insistent that it should be carried out with speed and vigour…. Consolidation is the most comprehensive method of approximating the goal of individual, or, at least, compact family, ownership.
Whilst the schemes of incorporation and of consolidation were being put into practice, steps were also being taken to vest in statutory bodies other lands that were held communally, and power was also being taken to administer them as farms for the native beneficiaries. A system of leasing to selected native-owners was also put into operation with limited success. Sir Apirana commented:
“The accumulated effect of the application of these devices, in conjunction with education and other factors, in the impact of western civilisation on the culture of the Maori people has been to break down the wall of conservatism and to force a resignation to methods which appeared drastic but which emphasised settlement of the lands as against niceties of title.”
Under more recent legislation, difficulties as to title are not permitted to stand in the way of the development of suitable areas. Power is given to Maori Land Boards to use their funds for the development of lands for settlement and authority is given to the Native Trustee to use funds in his account for a like purpose. Funds may also be provided by the Minister for Finance through the Native Land Settlement Account. Further, it has been made possible either for a Maori Land Board or for the Native Trustee to farm special blocks on behalf of the beneficial owners. Even earlier, the foundations had been laid on the East Coast for the training of natives to enable them to become industrious settlers.