Land alienation and confiscation from King Country Māori caused "serious damage" to the mana of iwi with impacts still felt today, the Waitangi Tribunal reports.
The tribunal has released the third part of Te Mana Whatu Ahuru: Report on Te Rohe Pōtae Claims, over alleged Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The claim covered all territories from northern Taranaki to south Waikato that were not confiscated after the wars of the 1860s, and includes the western harbours of Kāwhia, Aotea and Whāingaroa (Raglan) and extends to near Taumarunui.
The tribunal found the Crown's legislation and its actions in those areas frequently resulted in the alienation of native land in favour of Pākehā settlement.
The inquiry addressed 277 claims concerning Crown actions in Te Rohe Pōtae after the Treaty was signed on February 6, 1840.
This part of the report focused on land policy and legislation the Crown imposed after 1900 in Te Rohe Pōtae and the implications these had on Māori, who expected to continue to exercise mana whakahaere, or self-government, over their lands and communities.
These expectations reflected guarantees of rangatiratanga contained in the Treaty of Waitangi, as well as the (1883-85) agreements Te Rohe Pōtae Māori made with the Crown, known as Te Ōhākī Tapu, that promised to give effect to the Treaty in the district.
During the negotiations leading to these agreements, Te Rohe Pōtae Māori were assured that, by allowing the Native Land Court to operate within their rohe from 1886, they could expect to receive a secure form of title that would advance their already substantial engagement with the colonial economy.
However, the tribunal found by the end of the nineteenth century Native Land Court actions were "flawed, facilitated land alienation, and inhibited land development".
By 1909, 378,124ha (934,367 acres) of Māori land had been alienated, nearly half of the entire district.
By 1966, only 18 per cent of the district, or 138,694ha, remained in Māori ownership.
Pākehā-favoured legislation included the Crown continuing to purchase shares in land, native land councils and later native land boards acting in place of owners, compulsory vesting of lands in these boards for lease and administration, establishing native townships to enable surplus land to be made available for Pākehā settlement, compulsory consolidation of share interests to reform and simplify titles, the broad discretions given to the Native (later Māori) Land Court to facilitate alienations, the compulsory Europeanisation of land between 1967 and 1974 where there were limited numbers of owners, and the compulsory acquisition of uneconomic share interests.
The tribunal found numerous breaches related to the Crown's 20th century land legislation, its application in the district, and the administrative actions of its various agencies.
The cumulative impact of those resulted in a loss of tino rangatiratanga (full control and authority) over Te Rohe Pōtae lands, the breakdown in social and political relationships, land loss, and enormous social, economic and cultural prejudice, the impacts of which continued to this day.
Based on those breaches the tribunal recommended during settlement negotiations the Crown should discuss with Te Rohe Pōtae Māori, or their mandated settling group(s), a possible legislative mechanism to enable Te Rohe Pōtae iwi and hapū to administer their lands, either alongside the Māori Land Court and Te Tumu Paeroa (the Māori Trustee), or as separate entities.
The report followed of parts 1 and 2, released in September 2018, that focused on old land claims and early Crown purchasing, the impacts of war and raupatu, the establishment and maintenance of the aukati, the Te Ōhākī Tapu agreements, the construction of the North Island Main Trunk Railway, and the operation of the Native Land Court in the district.
Part 4 of the report, addressing local government, Māori political autonomy, and environmental issues, will be released in September this year.