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Māori Land Legislation Timeline 1880-1998

The following table is a chronological listing of Maori land legislation and important events effecting land legislation from 1840 to1998. Copies of the acts, documents or further information about the events mentioned in this timeline can be obtained or enquired about at your local public or tertiary library.
1840  | 1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1890 | 1900 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 | 1960| 1970 | 1980 | 1990 

1840 Treaty of Waitangi signed by 500 rangatira around New Zealand. Article 1 gives the kawanatanga of New Zealand to the British Government. Article 2 confirms the "tino rangatiratanga" of the chiefs and hapu and all the people of New Zealand over their lands and villages, but gives the queen or her representatives the buying of those pieces which they might wish to sell. Article 3 as a quid pro quo, allows the people of New Zealand exactly the same tikanga (rights, privileges, customs) as the people of England.  
1844-1846 Governor Fitzroy waives Crown preemption in favour of direct purchases. Much Auckland city land purchased under this system. 
1846 Native Lands Purchase Ordinance Private selling and leasing of Maori land under customary title prohibited. Law is widely ignored in regard to leasing. Single buyer depresses prices. 
Governor Grey begins massive land purchasing by Crown. 
1848 Most of South Island signed away in exchange for promises of reserves. 


Large scale Government purchasing continues especially in Northland, Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay and Manawatu. 
1857 Maori King crowned. Further sales of land in Waikato and Taranaki halted. Would be sellers face severe sanctions.  
1859 Government attempt to purchase land at Waitara, Taranaki from a minor chief encounters armed resistance. 


1860-1863 War in North Taranaki 
1862 Native Lands Act sets up Court to adjudicate on ownership but remains a dead letter. 
1863 New Zealand Settlements Act Districts in arms against the Government to be confiscated. Queenites and neutrals may apply to a Compensation Court to have their interests returned. Large areas were taken in the Waikato, Tauranga, Whakatane/Opotiki and Taranaki and smaller areas in Gisborne, Wairoa and Hawkes Bay. 
1865 Native Lands Act Any Maori owner can apply for title. Survey generally required before investigation can begin. Judge and two Maori assessors to agree. Ownership to vest in either a hapu or in no more than 10 owners. Provisions for Maori jury as an alternative. Hapu title and jury used in less than 10 cases. Direct leases and sales now valid of land passed through Court. Higher prices but more litigation. Government retains right to advance money before cases are heard and Government purchasing continues to dominate the market. Conveyances of individual shares to be before a Judge or a JP. 
1866 Amendment requiring any restrictions against sale or lease to be noted on every title. 
1867 Native Lands Act Names of any other owners must now be endorsed on the back of the title. Those named on the front (10 or fewer) can lease but not sell. Most blocks brought into Court continue to be awarded to less than 10 named rangatira. 
1867 Four Maori seats created in settler-dominated Parliament. 
1869 Native Lands Act Amendment Act? Alienation by a minority of owners not lawful. Majority of owners (by value) may apply for a partition. 


1870 Native Lands Frauds Prevention Act Trust Commissioners appointed to ensure sufficient land retained for alienators support. 
1873 Native Land Act All owners must now be registered on a Memorial of Ownership with presumed equal rights unless a further hearing determines otherwise. Block cannot be sold or leased without consent of every owner. Majority of owners may apply to partition out interests of sellers. Undivided interests protected against action to recover debt. Judge or magistrate and interpreter must certify deeds of alienation. Reserves of at least 50 acres per head must be retained. Individual owners continue to sell shares. Buyers can partition out proportion of interests acquired. 


1881 Native Lands Frauds Prevention Act All sales of shares must be approved by Trust Commissioners. Sellers must prove thay retain sufficient land to support them (More than 50 acres per head depending on land quality) 
1882 Native Land Division Act Pakehas who have bought up individual shares in the past can apply for a partition of their interests.  
1882 Crown and Native Lands Rating Act All land within 5 miles of a highway to be subject tor rates. Government to pay for Maori owned blocks and charge it as a lien against the land. 
1882 Native Reserves Act Native Land Court can remove restrictions on application of owners if they still have sufficient land. 
1883 Native Land Laws Amendment Act Unlawful for private buyers to negotiate until 40 days after title awarded. 
1884 Native land Alienation Restriction Act Private lease and purchase prohibited on 4 million acres near route of the main trunk railway line in King Country and upper Wanganui. 
1885 1,107,727 acres sold since 1873 for 326,965 pounds.  
1886 Native Land Act Elected block committees may sell to Crown or sell and lease through a Government appointed Commissioner. Little land is affected. Other private dealing outlawed but uncompleted purchases, if registered within 3 months, can proceed.  
1886 Native Equitable Owners Act Owners left out of titles under earlier legislation (10 owner rule 1865-1867 or in other cases where those on the title were really trustees for the whole hapu can apply to have their names added. 
1886 Native Land Court Act A consolidation. 
1888 Native Land Act Repeals 1886 Act and reinstitutes free trade. 
1888 Native Land Court Act 1886 Amendment Act Extends completion of purchase provisions. 
1888 Native Lands Frauds Prevention Act 1881 Amendment Act No sales of lands except those owned by less than 20 people. Commissioner to approve sales with regard to sufficiency of remaining land. 
1889 Native Land Frauds Prevention Act Amendment Act Trust Commissioners also required to examine fairness of price. Removes requirement to subdivide.


1891 Native Lands Commission (Rees, Carroll and MacKay) reports on effects of introducing private sales and recommends resumption of Crown preemption.  
1892-1894 Validation Court set up to decide equitably on complicated cases of uncompleted purchases of individual shares.  
1893 Amendment Act allows Government to initiate title investigations. 
1894 Native Land Court Act Major consolidation. General resumption of Crown preemption. Amendments in 1895 and 1896 allow exemptions for small blocks with 1 or 2 owners subject to confirmation by the Native Land Court. Provisions for incorporation of owners and committees of management. Native Appellate Court created.


1900 Maori Lands Administration Act Seven regional Maori Land Councils set up to manage surplus lands. Separate category of papakainga lands to be inalienable. Papatupu block comittees appointed by Councils to investigate title to large areas remaining outside the Court system in Northland and the East Coast. Provisions for Councils to take over management of some categories of land. Sales by majority of owners or by incorporations require consent of Council and a papakainga certificate from each owner re sufficiency of remaining land interests. 
1902 Land Titles Protection Act Titles over 10 years old may not be contested without special permission from the Government. 
1902 Maori Land Laws Amendment Act Hapu and whanau can obtain papakainga certificates. 
1904 Native Land Rating Act Customary land remains exempt but Minister can require a title investigation.  
1905 Maori Land Settlement ActMaori Land Councils become appointed Maori Land Boards with a brief to sell or develop unutilised lands. Compulsory vesting of surplus lands in Taitokerau and Tairawhiti - voluntary elsewhere. Private leases allowed subject to consent of boards. 
1907-1909 Stout-Ngata Commission of Inquiry investigates remaining blocks with a view to determining which should be sold and which should remain in Maori hands.  
1907 Native Land Settlement Act Maori Land Boards must sell 50% of surplus lands vested in them and lease 50%. Provisions for Boards to lend money to Maori farmers. 
1909 Native Land Act Major consolidation of 69 existing Acts. Generally reintroduces private dealing in Maori land with provisions for decisions on sales and leases to be made by a majority of shares at meetings of owners. Powers to vest land in Maori Land Boards limited to noxious weeds and unpaid rates. 


1913 Native Land Amendment Act Maori Land Boards and Native Land Court amalgamated. Crown may purchase individual interests. Minister may apply for title investigation and partition. 
1914-1920 Last big blocks of land under customary title investigated by Native Land Court. 


1921 Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act Provides for consolidation of scattered interests and exchanges with the Crown.  
1924 Native Land Rating Act Native Land to be rated the same as other land. 
1927 Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act Unpaid rates written off. 
1928 Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act Maori Land Boards to administer and develop on behalf of owners 
1928 Sim Commission investigates confiscations. 
1929 Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act Provides for large-scale devlopment schemes.


Apirana Ngata continues large-scale depression era schemes to develop unproductive Maori land using unemployed Maori labour.  
Government schemes to promote consolidation of uneconomic interests in different blocks of land to create viable farming units. 
1931 Native Land Court Act Consolidation  
1936 Native Land Amendment Act Crown land can be included in development schemes. 1938 Social welfare policies of Labour government provide substantial pensions, child benefits, cheap housing in rural areas. 


Large-scale Maori migration to cities and towns begins during war years.  
1944 Ngaitahu Claim Settlement Act "Final settlement" over Crown purchases in 1848. Ngai Tahu Trust Board.  
1944 Taranaki Maori Claims Settlement Act "Final settlement" of claims over 1863 confiscation. Taranaki Maori Trust Board 
1946 Waikato-Maniapoto Maori Claims Settlement Act "Final settlement" of confiscation claims. Tainui Maori Trust Board. 


1950 Maori Purposes Act Provides for compulsory improvements clauses (at 75% of value in leases.  
1952 Maori Land Amendment Act Abolishes Maori Land Boards. 
1953 Maori Affairs Act Mainly a consolidation. Provisions for "conversion" of uneconomic shares (value less than 25 pounds) in multiply-owned land by sale to other owners or the Government are strongly resisted.  
Government policy and full employment encourages burgeoning Maori population move to cities.


1967 Maori Affairs Amendment Act Conversion level raised to 50 pounds. 
1967 Maori Purposes Act Quorum of owners at meeting for sale raised to 10 or 25% by person or value. 
Majority of Maori population is now based in urban centres.


Maori activists challenge Government policy and race relations record. 
1974 Maori Affairs Amendment Act Maori owned general land can be returned to status of Maori Land. Quorum for alienation raised to 75%. Conversion of uneconomic shares repealed. 
1975 Treaty of Waitangi ActWaitangi Tribunal set up to investigate current breaches of rights provided under the Treaty of Waitangi. 
1977 Town and Country Planning Act 1978 Occupation of Bastion Point, Auckland. 


1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act Jurisdiction of Waitangi Tribunal extended back to 1840. 
1986 State-owned Enterprises Act Protects existing Maori claims to Crown assets being transferred to SOEs. 
1988 Treaty of Waitangi (State Enterprises) Act Protects possible future Maori claims to assets of SOEs, including those subsequently sold to third parties.  
1989 Crown Forests Assets Act Ground rents on forest lands where cutting rights have been sold to be paid to Crown Forestry Rental Trust and subsequently divided between Maori claimants and Crown according to recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal. Interest to fund claimants research. 


1991 Resource Management Act Strong emphasis on Maori cultural issues, especially wahi tapu. Applications for resource consents must be sent to iwi authorities. Relation of Maoris to ancestral lands must be taken into account. 
Claims to Waitangi Tribunal pour in from all parts of New Zealand. Tribunal begins to group claims for regional hearings. 
1993 Te Ture Whenua Maori Act To promote retention of land in Maori ownership. Provides for various types of trust management and preferred classes of alienees in cases of sale. Maori Land Court to determine appropriate representatives for Maori groups. 
1998 Ngai Tahu claims to the South Island settled for $170 million and acknowledgement of residual ownership rights over various reserves.


Compiler: John Laurie, Anthropology Librarian, University of Auckland Library
Publisher: University of Auckland Library
Updated: Tūmatareia (October) 2008


Contact: Māori and Pasifika Services
File Last updated: Tuesday, 01 August 2006