Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy: Crown-Maori Relations in New Zealand/Aotearoa 1900-1950

The trend towards unification

page 41

The trend towards unification

Meanwhile, with the Crown refusing to give the Paremata Maori any official recognition, the unity movement tended to operate as an unofficial state within a state. While different from the King Country and Urewera territory-based unofficial states, it nevertheless carried out state-like functions, including the capacity to coerce. Like the Ringatu Church (founded by Te Kooti), Kingitanga and other pan-tribal and tribal organisations before it, the Kotahitanga district committees produced their own laws and attempted to enforce them through pirihimanatanga/policing regimes. These were runanga-based organisations, some with professional police paid from tribally imposed fines.

From one perspective the Crown appreciated their minimising of disorder, with their control of liquor consumption, patrolling functions and tasks such as keeping order at marae. But it was not prepared to contemplate the existence of local governance regimes that were loyal primarily to a 'national' organisation unsanctioned by the colony's political executive and implicitly posing a threat to indivisible sovereign power. Yet the Maori Parliament movement could not be ignored, especially when almost half of Maoridom signed a petition in support of its aims. The Crown became still more concerned when the loose alliance between the Maori Parliament and King movements began to form.

Both had begun to experiment with securing a voice in the colonial Parliament with the election of Hone Heke (1893) and Henare Kaihau (1896) as MPs. This had, if nothing else, considerable publicity value. The former, for example, introduced draft legislation to devolve power to the Maori Parliament, and the latter promoted a Bill aimed at removing the Native Land Court and establishing a 'Maori Council' under the auspices of the Maori King. These measures were acceptable neither to many tribes nor to the Crown, but through such devices Kotahitanga and Kingitanga procured political discussions and negotiations. The Crown responded to the unity movements' potentially potent strategy of combining 'protest and co-operation' by seeking accommodation with them. The state's aim had always been encapsulated in the words of the colony's first leader, Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson, that 'we page 42are now one people'. It now saw, in effect, that full realisation of its assimilationist 'dream' would have to be further deferred. In seeking meanwhile to maximise its own interests, the Crown searched for a solution that would not only deflect Maori aspirations into something anodyne, but would actually advance the assimilationist agenda. It believed it had found this in 1900.34