State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy: Crown-Maori Relations in New Zealand/Aotearoa 1900-1950
Colonisation was essentially concerned with exploitation of territories and their human and physical resources. Indigenous peoples worldwide have never fully accepted the subsuming of their cultures and polities by those of the imperialist powers and their successor regimes. In the face of colonisation by a coercively superior power, indigenes have struggled to retain as much of their own value systems, resources and socio-political organisation as possible. Some colonising powers, after coming to realise this, believed from time to time that extreme coercion, even up to genocide, was the only way of eliminating politico-cultural resistance. This was both expensive and technologically difficult, as the German state, for example, found in its efforts to physically exterminate the Herero of South-West Africa in the early years of the twentieth century. Thus it was used sparingly. Given the strength and persistence of resistance by subjugated peoples — however powerful the tools involved in their subjection — the colonising powers normally came to appreciate the need for accommodation with them.4
The nature of such accommodation frequently allowed indigenes initially to continue their everyday lives much as before under pre-existing social control systems, albeit subject to certain overarching codes of behaviour. This situation was intended to be temporary, pending full 'civilisation' of the indigenous people. But it showed a great propensity to survive, to a greater or lesser degree, albeit in changing forms through history. At times such accommodation, and the ongoing negotiations associated with it, allowed the existence of political, cultural or other types of resurgence among some or all of the indigenous population. These renaissances differed greatly in their degree of support, their focus, page 12their structuring, their frequency and their success. Some indigenous peoples had to wait a very long time for their first significant revival — Australian Aborigines experienced theirs well into the post-colonial period, for example. New Zealand has witnessed many indigenous resurgences in its relatively short colonial and post-colonial history, with the Treaty of Waitangi' between chiefs and the Crown in 1840 constituting a major Maori point of reference.5
But New Zealand's origins as a 'settler colony' in which immigrants soon outnumbered indigenes (called tangata whenua/'people of the land' as well as Maori) have ensured that the state's accommodations with Maori have always been within strict limits. It is apparent that, all along, 'Maori had never ceased to resist and protest against the spoliation' visited upon them by the pakeha colonisers, an assessment (by a leading scholar) which encapsulates the consensus in the modern historiography of 'race relations' in New Zealand. Much of the evidence lies in relatively inaccessible reports generated by the Treaty of Waitangi' claims settlement processes. In reading some such findings, to be sure, one might be forgiven for thinking that Maori had seldom succumbed to the hegemonic behaviours and beliefs desired, encouraged and imposed by the state. Yet it is clear that, through time, the coercive and ideological might of the state has been powerful and effective. That caveat noted, in general terms the paradigm of ongoing protest or resistance in relatively recent historical writing has overturned the ethnocentric 'received wisdom' of previous generations of pakeha historians. Such work can move outside the past comfort zones of pakeha history, showing for example how Maori social structure is endemically adaptive in its responsiveness to internal and external pressures and challenges.6
Indigenous peoples have not only persistently resisted the colonising powers' coercive or accommodatory attempts to expropriate their resources and suppress their cultures, but also actively striven to re-establish their own political or other types of autonomy. While such aspirations usually remain relatively fruitless for very long periods, because of the physical and/or hegemonic might of the imperial (or post-colonial) state, they persist nevertheless. The quest to re-establish some of the independence which prevailed before colonisation has been as strong page 13with the indigenes of Aotearoa/New Zealand as elsewhere in colonies and post-colonies. It has generally been fought for in terms of the rangatiratanga promised Maori in the second article of the Treaty of Waitangi. Following the physical suppression of Maori during war (from 1860) and its aftermath, the Crown's assessment in 1886 was that Maori were so defeated and even hegemonised that 'peace and good order' (or, in a term used at the time, a society of 'tranquillised' citizenry) had been achieved. But ever since then Maori have striven for autonomy in the various ways open to them within the parameters of the newly disciplined, and increasingly 'self-disciplining', society. Apparent Maori quiescence for much of the following hundred years was strategic rather than actual — a strategy framed to relate to (even if to undermine or subvert) the ascendant Crown's coercive and hegemonic indigenous policies, with their insistence on the indivisibility of sovereignty.7
Rangatiratanga has been interpreted in many ways — chieftainship, tribal control of internal affairs, self-determination, mana Maori motuhake, Maori sovereignty, governance, independence, devolved control by the state, self-management, Maori nationalism, tribal or pan-tribal self-government, and so forth. But for the purposes of this work it is encapsulated in the word 'autonomy'. Its core is the aspiration of a Maori collectivity to 'manage its own affairs, members and possessions'. In the literature it has generally been assumed to refer to the aspirations of tribal or subtribal collectivities, but the struggle to attain rangatiratanga can also reflect the strivings of any descent grouping, from small tribally based units (eg, whanau/extended family), through larger tribal (especially hapu/subtribe and iwi/tribe) and pan-tribal groupings, and ultimately to te iwi Maori (all people identifying as Maori). It can also embody the organisation and aspiration of Maori 'assent groups', ranging from local to national in scope, that have voluntarily come together in non-tribal ways for cultural, social, political, religious, economic or other purposes.
There is considerable evidence to suggest that Maori have frequently regarded the Treaty's endorsement of rangatiratanga as a guarantee to Maori of the type of sovereignty that the Crown saw itself as holding. It seems, at the very least, that for Maori Article Two was in effect an affirmation that two sets of sovereignties could co-exist in some kind of page 14partnership arrangement, a 'declaration of interdependence'. The aptly named book The Maori Magna Carta notes with regard to the Treaty that the 'indications are that the chiefs thought they were retaining their own authority over their people according to their customary law'. An implicit, and sometimes explicit, debate over the meanings and balance of rangatiratanga and kawanatanga (a transliteration of 'governorship', conceded by Maori to the Crown in Article One; 'sovereignty' in the English version) has continued intermittently from 1840 to this day. In the last quarter-century or so, this has led to polarisations in society (and scholarship); one infamous Maori manifesto in 1984, for example, pronounced that the 'white way and the Maori way have always been incompatible' and concluded that there could be 'no justice where Maori sovereignty is not acknowledged'.8
It is now a commonplace in scholarship that the Treaty's two basic versions embodied such incompatibilities of 'translation' that they meant different things to Maori and Crown — that there were in effect two treaties, the Treaty and Te Tiriti. But whatever the Treaty articles meant to each party, the second article in either language clearly implied at the very least Maori control over affairs Maori, or a significant degree of autonomy. Unifying all such developments is the Maori understanding of the Treaty as (in the words of a prominent Maori jurist) 'nothing like a treaty of surrender'. Rather, it was an agreement for Crown and Maori 'to respect the integrity and authority of the other'. As one historian has put it, it is clear that 'Maori had never considered that the price of Pakeha knowledge was loss of autonomy'. Another concludes that in the Treaty 'the Maori, who first colonized this land and considered it to be theirs, agreed to share power for mutual benefit'. But the promise to respect rangatiratanga (in any of its definitions) has been violated endemically by the Crown: 'almost all land purchases after 1865 were under laws and processes which breached the rangatiratanga' promised in the Treaty, for example. By then, Crown actions or omissions had led a number of tribal groupings to assert their rangatiratanga by taking up arms against the imperial and colonial governments.9
While being quick to adopt the new technologies and other 'western' innovations which enhanced their lives, Maori sought at the same time page 15to minimise the damage to their political economy and culture. Not wanting to leave behind completely their own manners, customs and ways of life, even those Maori who were exceedingly adaptive would join the struggle to retain or regain autonomy. As well as groups and communities that had fought the Crown in the Anglo-Maori wars in the 1840s and 1860s, some which had reached accommodation with it also held out for periods in de facto or would-be independent states. Even kupapa, broadly defined as Maori who had fought for the Crown, became disillusioned when their tribes suffered similar (or even worse) land and other alienations to those of the 'rebel' or 'neutral' tribes. In 1880 former kupapa leader Major R Keepa/Kemp, for example, established a land trust along the Whanganui River to try to retain tribal land and regional control by chiefs rather than the Crown. He set up carved posts to mark the extent of the area. Most pakeha were banned from going upriver from a point not far from Wanganui, the town which had almost fallen to Titokowaru in the wars.
'No-go' zones, however, became increasingly anachronistic or unviable as the state's coercive machinery gradually but inexorably turned nominal sovereignty into substantive sovereignty. Even the biggest independent area, the King Country, was 'opened up' in the 1880s; even the most 'rebellious' of tribes had then to seek more accommodative ways of retaining key aspects of their own organisational culture. All of the various 'rival sovereignties' eventually came to recognise the massive power imbalance between Crown and Maori. Thus, along with the other groupings, they searched for ways to adapt which retained key elements of Maori culture, sometimes hiding the latter from the imperial gaze. But their ultimate goal was always clear, as exemplified in the 1870s Repudiation Movement in Hawke's Bay: separate institutions to run things that properly belonged, in their eyes, to Maori.
Despite Crown and pakeha assessments to the contrary, then, the struggle for rangatiratanga was never abandoned. In fact, the Crown suppression of Maori autonomy, and Maori resistance to this, became the most fundamental and ongoing relational nexus between state and indigenous people in New Zealand. The Waitangi Tribunal, in its account of the relationship between the state and the Taranaki people, has in page 16effect summed up the thrust of modern historiography on Crown-Maori dynamics as follows: the 'single thread that most illuminates the historical fabric of Maori and Pakeha contact has been the Maori determination to maintain Maori autonomy and the Government's desire to destroy it'.10
In one sense it does a disservice to both major historical 'races'/ethnicities in New Zealand to portray a long and complex relationship so sweepingly and starkly, and this book attempts to avoid a tendency among scholars and others to oversimplify and exaggerate in an effort (however laudable) to 'seek to decolonise their writings'. Yet the bold depiction of endemic friction between Crown and Maori that has emerged in relatively recent historiography was a necessary (and overdue) corrective. It was needed in order to address the ethnocentrism (and at times racism) underpinning historical work in the past in which Maori were first seen as 'troublesome' and then later allowed to fade from view during much of the rest of New Zealand's history. The Tribunal's emphasis on what is in essence the Maori quest for rangatiratanga, and the Crown's negative response to it, reflects this core result of modern historical enquiry. It is central to the story of New Zealand to a degree unrealised by western scholarship only two decades or so ago. But such literature focuses mostly on the nineteenth century. This book's overview of the quest for autonomy, and the state's reactions to it, during the first half of the twentieth century sets out to provide some introductory balance of coverage.11
A distinguished head of the Waitangi Tribunal has noted that Treaty matters are, in the final analysis, about possession of authority; and that, throughout post-Treaty time, the essence of Maori history reflects 'dogged determination' to assert collective 'identity and autonomy against every obstacle'. In this struggle, which began almost before the ink on the Treaty was dry, the Crown's access to the mighty resources of the British Empire meant that Maori strategies and tactics needed great subtlety if they were to have even partial success. They needed to be adaptive (especially by incorporating aspects of 'western systems' of actions and belief) as well as resistant, especially after the late 1850s when the pakeha population surpassed that of the tangata whenua and armed resistance was soon to be crushed.page 17
Adaptation thereafter came in a multitude of structural combinations and recombinations, micro and macro, a continual seeking of ways of ensuring that the fundamentals of Maori beliefs, institutions and customs were not totally swamped. The nineteenth-century quest for rangatira-tanga, then, entailed exploring many and varied possibilities relating to a separate role for Maori within settler society and under the overarching power of the state. This search underwrote the great majority of all Maori political movements from the middle to the end of the century. The 'politics of autonomy' at that time generally combined traditional tribal organisation with adaptive action, aiming to preserve as much of Maori lifestyles, customs and culture as was possible within the 'parameters of control' of the settler state.
This book, examining the same struggle after 1900, takes into account the complications and contradictions of the interrelationship between the Crown and Maori. While this was a mostly 'post-colonial' century, insofar as New Zealand ceased to be a colony in 1907, Maori still largely regarded themselves — with good reason — as a colonised and subjugated people within the Dominion of New Zealand and its independent successor. Some tribes were speaking of continuing raupatu (confiscation) well over a century after the Crown had stopped seizing lands confiscated from them under 1860s legislation. Many Maori groupings, in fact, see 'ongoing colonisation' and raupatu occurring up to the present time, as the 2003-4 debate over ownership and control of the foreshore and seabed once again emphasised.
One reason for the relative historiographical neglect of Crown-Maori and (more broadly) race relations in the twentieth century is the general absence of dramatic events of armed conflict between Maori and pakeha. Maori marginalisation through the century was underpinned by modes of state control less overtly coercive, more subtle, than those of the early years of the colony. In response, methods of resistance to the Crown's plans for a subsumed Maoridom became more benign and disparate. Changing demographic and socio-economic circumstances added further subtleties and varieties to the mix. Unmistakably, however, all through the century the state attempted to defuse Maori organisings and proposals which involved or seemed to involve any meaningful degree of self-page 18determination: 'any indication of a separatist trend in Maori society has been strongly resented and opposed'.
With the rapid widening of intellectual horizons in the western world from the 1960s, historians tended to turn their attention away from traditional history's focus on 'great men' (especially politicians and statesman) and their deeds. Refreshingly, the trend was instead towards investigating the lives of people (or 'the people') and their social and economic environments. This helped ensure a much higher profile for the ongoing Maori effort to resist subjugation and build alternatives to it. Eventually, however, so much attention was being paid to restoring 'agency' to people marginalised or oppressed by power structures or dominant cultures that the machinery and methods which controlled and contained them tended to be overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant.
More recently, while rightly retaining an emphasis on people's life experiences, there has been some scholarly effort to 'put the state back in'. Much more is needed on this subject. In studies of empire, resistance in colonised societies has come to the fore and redressed an imbalance (or even hiatus) in traditional historiography. But the fact that tribal societies were colonised and exploited by various means that were essentially based on the coercive force of the state is seldom explored in any significant way. Scholarly attention is needed to unravel the complexity of the relationship between, on the one hand, subjugated people or peoples and, on the other, the imperial state, its devolved colonial forms and its post-colonial structures.12
In the settler colony of New Zealand an ultimate state goal was to assimilate the indigenous inhabitants to pakeha 'habits and ways'. In fact, political decision makers and settlers alike 'simply assumed that British values and institutions were the most advanced in human history' and naturally expected that Maori would 'automatically accept their superior way of life'. With the arrival of George Grey as Governor in 1845, a policy of 'quick and complete' assimilation was adopted. Traditional New Zealand mythology, still perpetuated by many historians in some respects, has it that the state's paramount 'urge to assimilate' was part of a 'great and novel experiment' in 'humanitarian' treatment of 'savages'; that New Zealand was unique in having been colonised peacefully and page 19with the very best of intentions towards the indigenes; that the annexation of New Zealand marked 'a new and anoble beginning in British colonial policy'. Revisionist historiography has shown, however, that pakeha and Crown aversion in the nineteenth century to the preconditions for a true assimilation meant that only 'a show of justice', nominal rather than genuine equality, was offered to Maori.13
Maori, too, saw things differently at the time. For them, cultural homogenisation, which involved gaining control of minds (and therefore behaviours), was a complement to the violence inherent in the state's subsuming of the Maori political economy and acquisition of the resources of Aotearoa. Maori soon assumed that the state's strategy involved the 'inexorable devaluation of every social, economic, religious, cultural or political institution' that did not meet the authorities' approval. In the 'social Darwinist' nineteenth century, indeed, the ultimate (and desired) end of the assimilation process was that the 'Maori race' would 'die out', although there were different schools of thought as to what that meant and how it would happen. Thus a Maori scholar has referred to 'that ancient Pakeha myth that the Maori people and their culture represent a sort of temporary disease. With time and suitable Pakeha medicine, they will pass away and never be seen again.'14
The Crown, most pakeha and some Maori believed that assimilation was indeed working towards some kind of 'demise of the race' because of the dramatic decline in Maori population after contact and colonisation. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the number of recorded Maori had fallen to a nadir of just over 40,000. This, generally now viewed as an underestimate but certainly reflective of a trend, seemed to confirm for the settlers that the superimposition of a 'superior culture' on an allegedly inferior one would create a 'fatal impact'. However, Maori demographic revival from the turn of the century, although officialdom took a long time to recognise it, led to alteration of the assimilationist policy agenda. The previous aim of actual or virtual disappearance of Maoridom changed into an endeavour to 'make good Europeans out of Maoris'.
The concept of the 'dying Maori', then, was replaced with that of the 'whitening Maori'. While they were expected to retain aspects of their page 20Maoridom into the foreseeable future, 'brown Europeans' would resile from the 'beastly communism' of the tribal collectivity. They were expected to embrace individualism fervently, maximise their profits by selling the land to those with the superior technology to use it efficiently (whites), and behave in such a fashion as not to disrupt 'the natural order of things'. Antipodean life should as far as possible replicate that of the Home Counties of England. Maori were deemed to have a head start over other indigenous peoples. As the Minister of Defence said in 1914, they were 'the chief of the dark races'.15
Thus they would easily learn from 'the Englishman', the ideal imperialist who 'loves order and justice'. Because he had secured 'orderly government at Home', the coloniser 'knows how to establish it in new lands'. The English nation and its auxiliaries had, in short, a 'civilising mission' in the British Empire. While this was clearly based on exploitation of colonial peoples and extraction of their resources, it was rationalised by a mixture of altruism and scientism. Maori were assessed to be 'advanced' enough to be invited to learn to become (ultimately, full) participants in the superior political economy and culture. Such an intellectual paradigm has now largely disappeared, at least in raw form, but vestiges remain that still have an impact on historiography — and, by extension, on national mythology.
Many historians have believed that the assimilation policy encapsulated a benignly attractive (or, at the very least, less unattractive) form of imperialism, which has made New Zealand distinctive among colonies and post-colonies. Even some who are in tune with recent revisionisms that interrogate pro-imperialist assumptions have been inclined to underplay the fundamental intent of the assimilation policy, which essentially implied a strategic transfer of resources from Maori to colonisers in a way that minimalised resistance. Such 'soft' or 'wishful thinking' approaches have manifested themselves in, for example, analyses which find that the Crown from time to time 'missed out' on a chance to forge a 'true partnership' with tribes or to hand autonomy over to them.
Thus officially franchised runanga (councils) in the 1860s are generally seen (if noticed at all) as a 'progressive' development in working with Maori that failed because of lack of nerve or resources or wisdom. In page 21reality, however, they were socio-racial control devices that used Maori political structures for state purposes. It was never intended to hand any meaningful power over to indigenous structures. The official runanga were mechanisms which, in view of the imperial prescription for settler colonies (as opposed to that for vast tracts of the world which fell under 'indirect rule' regimes), could not conceivably have been created or allowed to evolve as parallel (if lesser) sovereignties inside the colonial state imposed by the metropolis. The Anglo-Maori wars of the 1860s-during which time the 'new institutions' of official runanga were established — can in fact be viewed best as a clash of rival bidders for sovereignty, contributing to the ongoing Crown imperative to institute a fully substantive sovereignty underpinned by a total capacity to control.16
Military might, and the socio-organisational appropriation represented by the official runanga, were both components of a continuum in modes of control and subjugation. This continuum ran from overt coercion at one pole (including invasion and killing) through to the much more favoured, cheaper and less disruptive pole of control of mind and behaviour. Some New Zealand historians have come to appreciate that the realities of imperial control applied as much to their own country as elsewhere — that in this key respect it was not an exceptional colony and post-colony. But even most of these tend to miss the point that the fundamentals of colonisation and settlement precluded genuine power sharing. An autonomous indigenous political economy within a settler colony or its successor state would, in British eyes, have been tantamount to tolerating the intolerable — a potential or actual sovereign threat to the politico-capitalist order on the imperial periphery, and by extension to the 'metropolitan centre' and its diverse global interests.
The historians who have come to understand some of the coercive realities underpinning imperialism, but who cling to a wishful thinking approach, continue to be susceptible to the myth of a benevolent founding and development of New Zealand. So a new historical paradigm has been created as a result of the historiographical search for situations in which the Crown might have wanted or been able to implement forms of Maori political or cultural autonomy that were meaningful devolution or power sharing. This perspective, which sees the Crown as forever page 22'missing opportunities' to share power or behave better, originates in a perfectly praiseworthy empathy with the plight of the marginalised and dispossessed. But its 'presentism' has led to major conceptual tangles.
One variant of the syndrome, for example, presents a past that had no option but to produce the present, while simultaneously rebuking those who shepherded this along. Other presentists working in Treaty of Waitangi claims, and reinterpreting the past within the politico-legal parameters of the 'principles of the Treaty of Waitangi', do accord the Crown a sizeable degree of agency. Not surprisingly, they find the institution wanting through most or all of its history, while deploring apparently missed chances at various times for creating a bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand. Many revisionist writings, it has been argued, reflect a biculturalist 'fiction of harmony' that was belied by the very events the authors were examining. Seeing the Crown as possessing 'good intentions' but forever missing opportunities to bring Maori into partnership, revisionist historians can in fact be portrayed as retrospectively stripping agency from Maori — a depiction which then re-emerges in 'popular history', gelling as it does with previous historiographical paradigms.
The 'lost opportunity' school is flourishing (and some Maori scholars are members). The most important reason of all for fundamental Maori grievances by the end of the nineteenth century, for example, has been depicted as 'the fact that the chiefs had been excluded from the political life of New Zealand. The government might have conciliated them by offering them positions of responsibility, such as judgeships in the Native Land Courts or posts as tribal dignitaries in their tribal areas. As the opportunity was not taken, the chiefs spearheaded the movement for a separate Maori constitution.' The author of those words has searched for 'a sympathetic overture' from the government, even just 'discussion and co-operation'. But at a time of post-conquest hegemonic euphoria, chiefly inclusion was not on the Crown agenda.17
A handful of scholars, though appearing at least as sympathetic to Maori as the lost opportunity school with regard to Crown violations of the Treaty, have been more hard-headed. Such an approach is neither new nor confined to academic commentators. Six decades ago the Senior page 23Inspector of Native Schools noted in relation to the state's 'native policy' that, in 'desiring to change the mental and social patterns of a people, assimilation is ruthless in its repudiation of the indigenous culture'. In recent times the hard-headed approach has been making some headway against wishful thinking, 'Treaty principles', counterfactual and older scholarly paradigms. This book reflects a 'hard approach' insofar as it perceives the state to be, in the final analysis, a mechanism for defining and implementing 'peace and good order', and therefore for imposing and preserving certain rhythms of life (behaviours, activities, internalised disciplines, thoughts, etc) in the most efficient ways it can in light of the circumstances at any given time. The state (including the lego-constitutional concept of 'the Crown') does not have 'humanitarian' instincts and propensities, even though some of its (even key) personnel may well possess these, and even though some of its tactics and strategies might seem to be 'humanitarian'.
Ever since 1840 Maori have demanded that the Crown honour its promise, in the Treaty of Waitangi second article, to respect te tino rangatiratanga, or full autonomy; all the while, the Crown has resisted this, or interpreted the term in anodyne fashion. What is meant by autonomy in terms of concrete Maori aspirations has differed according to circumstances. There are 'many degrees of autonomy and independence short of complete political independence'. The Crown, however, which initially used the word 'chieftainship' as synonymous with rangatiratanga, has invariably seen any 'concession' based on Article Two as being subject to its full authority. In other words, the kawanatanga/sovereignty conceded to the Crown in Article One has been defined by the state (initially backed by the might of the world's biggest empire) to mean not just an overarching sovereignty but indivisible Crown sovereignty. Thus, in the eyes of the Crown and of the general pakeha population, the tribes had placed themselves fully under the 'protection of the Crown': Article Two merely ensured continuation of 'chieftainship'. Whatever the state's definition, Maori have believed that their own authority structures could co-exist with Crown sovereignty.
Such matters constitute far more than niceties of lego-constitutional interpretation, given that all facets of Maori politico-cultural life have page 24been deeply affected by the practical operation of the Crown's definition. This, with its emphasis on indivisibility, does not preclude devolution. But the Crown has seldom conceded any significant power to Maori, however determined their struggle. They have fought long and hard for the kinds of rights that indigenous people in colonies and post-colonies the world over have fought for — which they perceive to be embedded in the Treaty of Waitangi. Their weapons have been many and varied, ranging from disseminating information and ideas (through creating Maori newspapers, for example, or contributing to other print media) through to armed force.18
At times in history the Crown has appeared to make significant concessions to the Maori struggle for rangatiratanga. This has led some of the wishful thinking 'Treaty studies' scholars to interpret apparent devolutions of power to Maori as actual developments, or minor devolutions as well-intentioned, non-temporary actions that heralded the possibility of greater and permanent concessions of autonomy. Some historians display palpable disappointment when the state falls short, as it invariably does, in their well-motivated but ahistorical scenarios. Such analyses are concerned, in effect, with examining the past against the measuring rod of the Crown's propensity to ignore or counteract the (still evolving) modern construct of the 'principles' of the Treaty. The literature remains pervaded with the Crown 'missing' (for reasons such as inadvertence or lack of courage) yet another grand opportunity to implement, to some degree or other, the promise of rangatiratanga that for Maori lies at the heart of the Treaty of Waitangi.19
In reality, the state's policies — whatever the fine words uttered from time to time in policy statements and the like — have focused on definitions of 'public good' that suited the interests and predispositions of the authorities. This remains the case. Maori self-determination has never, from 1840 to the present, been a state goal. It does not fit ruling definitions of public good, peace and good order, or appropriate modes of thought and behaviour. At best, devolutions of power have been temporary and anodyne expedients. Even the government focus since the 1980s on the Treaty has been driven primarily not by a search for justice and equity but by the need to remove a major perceived problem in the body politic, page 25the so-called 'Maori problem' (although it has given the 'struggle without end' for Crown recognition of rangatiratanga some hopes of success).
Until relatively recent times the Crown's stated aim remained that of assimilation of Maori (and all other non-dominant culture groups) into the mainstream or state-desired culture and social behaviour of the New Zealand polity. This becomes clear when historians immerse themselves in the mores of the past and contextualise historical happenings within the terms of reference of the decision makers and participants. Some historians have shied away from this altogether, because it is too difficult or involves too much research and reading, or in the belief that to understand and relate the motives and thought patterns of past times is to become somehow complicit in them. More commonly, historians who belong to the wishful thinking school attempt to write humanitarian, Maori autonomy and other 'attractive' factors into the state agenda whenever they can.
In contrast, this book patterns the past to reflect the state's fundamental motivations for its actions through time. It does not, for example, examine the past within a whiggish macro-paradigm of steady 'onwards and upwards' progress by the general citizenry, a perspective subliminally pervading many Treaty studies. Its line is 'hard' because dispassionate analysis points clearly to the inadequacy of wishful thinking and other 'benign state' and 'advancing society' perspectives. In the political field, for example, 'Treatyists' (as right-wing commentators call them) often locate themselves within a post-war historiographical convention that focuses on amove away from the apron strings of the metropolitan 'Home' towards the emergence of a 'national identity', and on the theory and practice of 'raising' Maori to the 'civilised' socio-economic and behavioural standards of pakeha. Some 'Treaty historians' have become positively proactive within such paradigms, creating, for example, 'spaces of resistance and hope' within the broader 'spaces of marginalization'.20
Such interpretations often accommodate ethnocentric perspectives. At first tangata whenua are seen as blocking progress, and they more or less disappear from the historians' gaze when they are perceived to have been mainstreamed (that is, until 'urban problems', and the 'Maori Renaissance' from the 1970s, mean that they cannot be entirely page 26overlooked). The overarching paradigm of 'progress' reinterprets the Maori experience as socio-economic advancement via assimilation. Even those who add to this an account of progress towards some form of self-determination tend to see it as a means of 'closing the social indicator gaps' between Maori and pakeha. Many developments along the way are judged against how far- not if- they contribute to this supposed grand patterning. The state is presumed to be at least sometimes an empathetic player in relation to, even if often or always falling short of, Maori requests and aspirations.
Such wishful thinking historiography is an advance on that of narrative or would-be postmodern historians who do not perceive, or actually deny the worth of discovering, patterns in history. Moreover, it does acknowledge that Maori did continue their nineteenth-century fight for autonomy throughout the twentieth. But this is an advance that leaves us far short of understanding Crown-Maori dynamics. For the real question is not how far the Crown went towards meeting Maori aspirations for rangatiratanga in the twentieth century, but whether it was ever really concerned with doing so. This book argues emphatically that it was not.
State authorities are always concerned to impose or maintain sufficient peace and good order in the country to enable, with minimal impediment, the 'regular pursuits' of civil society — matters posited firmly within the requirements of a capitalist political economy. Classical political and historiographical assumptions that certain types of 'progress' benefit society both reflected and reinforced the processes of hegemony, the state's quest for control of minds once control of bodies had been attained. The fact that even historians empathetic to Maori struggles have been complicit in such processes, generally unaware of their own 'internal colonisation' by the official or dominant ideology, itself reflects successes within the hegemonic agenda.
That being said, such revisionists produced historical writing that, in overturning past paradigms, is seen by many as truly subversive in its effect. While all scholarly discussions are shaped by or resonate with politico-ideological assumptions, Treaty revisionist scholarship has become overtly intertwined with politics. A scholar, for example, is reportedly 'disgusted' by an argument that sovereignty was seized as an act of state page 27in 1840 and thereafter regularised by the conventions of international law. Although such an analysis is perfectly arguable in an academic arena, a minister's support for the 'act of state' argument is seen as 'finally admitting that the Treaty was a sham document'. Instead of the Treaty representing the 'basis of the Crown's sovereignty — rather it was taken by military force. And they say that over time that becomes legal!'21
On these issues emotions are high because the stakes are high. The Treaty debate addresses issues at the core of the nation's past, present and future, and the discussions are therefore vigorous. Some believe that, if the Treaty of Waitangi is assessed as fraudulent in terms of the Crown's motivations in 1840, the modern Crown might well renege on its (reluctantly conceded) obligations to Maori. Others (and the author is among them) note that, whatever the motivations of the imperial state of 1840, promises to Maori should be, like other promises, honoured to the fullest extent possible and (in this case) reparations negotiated for breaches. Scholars are needed in the processes of advocacy and negotiation. But scholarship and advocacy should not be conflated, and this book strives to avoid doing so. Its attempt to get to the heart of the matter of the twentieth-century relationship between Crown and Maori thus eschews moralising. It argues that Crown-Maori relations after 1900 continued the pattern of the nineteenth century, centring on a quest for autonomy by the tangata whenua and the state's various efforts to repel, contain, defuse or use this.
Given the enormous discrepancy in physical and ideological power between the state and the tribes, Maori inevitably succumbed to the forces of might and hegemony. In other words, they internalised many of the mores and behaviours which the Crown desired to impose on all of its citizenry. At one extreme, some Maori had become positively jingoistic products of this process by the beginning of the twentieth century. Henare Kohere, a member of the Maori Coronation Contingent to London in 1902, extolled the virtues of 'places where the English flag is flying'. Maori like him felt 'fortunate' to be able to be 'civilised' by supposedly the most progressive and enviable 'race' of all, the British. Most Maori, however, while using practical and conceptual facets of 'Britishness' which advanced their prospects or enhanced their lifestyles, page 28were not prepared to give up many fundamentals of their culture, of their 'Maoriness'. Maori social and cultural life would certainly evolve, but not into something completely different.
After the Anglo-Maori wars, Maori had withdrawn into 'reservation-like areas and villages' to preserve their identity. By the end of the nineteenth century, then, while they necessarily had to engage with the politico-economic world of the pakeha, 'Maori cultural autonomy and identity [had] survived the impact of Europe'. At the same time, Maori had been determined to preserve or claw back as much political self-determination as was possible under the relentless onslaught of colonisation and capitalism. It is 'now recognised by most New Zealand historians that throughout the nineteenth century, tribes and hapu all over New Zealand sought to defend and sustain their independence of identity, and the independence of their activity'.
To secure a distinctively Maori place in the new colonial order against the prevailing European desire to destroy tribal and ethnic identity, komiti/committees and similar institutions developed out of the older institution of runanga. These, with acute awareness of the realities of the new order, attempted to regain sufficient autonomy to administer their own lands and communal affairs. While welcoming the new opportunities brought by western culture and technology, Maori continuously adjusted, but never accepted the state's goal of full assimilation. From the time of the arrival of imperialism in the South Pacific, in fact, they attempted to preserve or develop as much as possible of their own culture, customs and way of life.22
Historians have covered such phenomena for the nineteenth century. One scholar has made a hostile assessment that 'autonomy [has become] the organising principle of the analysis of nineteenth-century Maori experience'. Whatever the merits or otherwise of opposition to this development, such aportrayal of modern historiography is correct enough. This book argues that ongoing Maori structural and conceptual reorganisation, reflecting Maori aspirations to become as autonomous from the state and the institutions of the dominant culture as possible, have been central to the post-nineteenth-century story of New Zealand. In a tribal context Maori aspirations tended to remain organised through page 29the hapu, 'the effective, independent political unit of pre-contact Maori society', with pan-tribal and Crown-tribal interactions often occurring (but not necessarily so, in the dynamic and evolving world of Maori) at iwi level. In overviewing the assertion of rangatiratanga in the first half of the twentieth century, this work explores the resilience of indigenous people in the face of an enormous power imbalance, and the Crown's adversarial and inclusionist responses. It concurs with the view that decision makers on both sides, through time, 'understood the other very well indeed in the direct conflict of interest over the land and its resources, and over the control of state power'.23
The problem for Maori was to build on this understanding and organise in a way that would lead to concrete results. Against the odds, they made many attempts to embody rangatiratanga. The book explores the strategic and tactical complexities involved in this. It covers, for example, not only hegemonic imposing of ideas on Maori, but also their use of some of those ideas for their own purposes. It does not go into every byway, however, such as the intricacies and impacts on people of a 'hybrid' existence, that which combines Maoriness with the culture of the pakeha (or other ethnicities). The quest for a rangatiratanga that the Crown would recognise is seen as a process of searching out matches between ideas (from various sources, traditional and 'new') and organisation (Maori, non-Maori and mixed), but the book necessarily focuses on attempts to maximise the Maori position and the Crown's responses thereto.
The process continues, amid both old and newer difficulties. The Crown's preference is often, for example, to deal (if at all) with groupings and configurations that might not be the preference of Maori. This has usually meant engagement with as large a 'tribal' or other grouping as possible, especially at iwi, confederation of iwi or national level, rather than with a more primary unit of Maori society. But there are many versions of the appropriate vehicles for expressing rangatiratanga within Maoridom, from non-tribal to pan-tribal, from iwi to hapu to whanau, and others besides. This book does not prescribe an 'ideal' form, now or in the past; nor does it pretend to depict an 'insider' Maori perspective on the events it relates and analyses through a half century of politico-cultural interaction.24page 30
Rather, it examines how Maori responded to the implications of colonisation and post-colonisation in a conceptual and organisational way, and how the Crown, in turn, handled this. While some readers might see it as negative in its implications, such a response would no doubt reflect its exploration of the difficulties inherent in the relationship between Crown and Maori. This is, after all, a work of history, not of social prescription. Suffice it to note here that the author has recorded elsewhere his optimism, at least in global comparative terms, that 'race' and Crown-Maori relations in New Zealand now hold out some prospects of accommodating rangatiratanga within kawanatanga — of fitting Aotearoa into New Zealand. It is difficult, however, to see how this can occur without an informed understanding of the past. But comprehension is complicated by the biases and imperfections of western historiography, as well as by the fact that '[t]here have been two remembered histories of New Zealand since 1840: that of the colonizers and that of the colonized'. This work aims to assist greater understanding.25