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Māori Land


  1. Introduction
  2. How to find books on Māori land
    Searching by iwi or region
    Waitangi Tribunal Rangahaua Whanui Series
    Waitangi Tribunal reports
    Other books
    Regional histories
  3. Journal articles
  4. University of Auckland research essays
  5. Government publications
    AJHR (Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives)
    Commissions of Inquiry
    Other reports in the AJHR
    British Parliamentary Papers
  6. New Zealand Statutes
  7. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates
  8. New Zealand Gazette
  9. Turton (Turton's Deeds) and Mackay
  10. New Zealand Māori Land Court
  11. Finding Aids to the Māori Land Court Minute Books
  12. Raupatu Document Bank
  13. Maps
  14. Who to contact for help

1. Introduction

This guide has been written primarily for the researcher looking at the history of a particular block of land or interested in the historical development of Māori land tenure. However, large sections of it are applicable to related fields of research as well. Much of the information required by researchers may not be catalogued in any general periodical indexes. The guide does not cover environmental issues or the Resource Management Act.

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2. How to find books on Māori land

Use some of the following key words in Library Search:

  • Maori claims
  • Maori land claims
  • Maori land

Searching by iwi or region

Many books have subject headings for iwi, eg:

  • Ngāti Porou (New Zealand people)
  • Ngāti Whātua (New Zealand people)
    Scroll forwards in the list to see headings for land tenure relating to the iwi.

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Waitangi Tribunal Rangahaua Whanui series

The Waitangi Tribunal has published a national overview of Māori land issues of interest to the Tribunal, which is a useful point of entry for students new to the field. As well as a chronological review of legislation and Government policies it provides a summary of the main Waitangi issues in different areas of New Zealand.

Ward, Alan. National overview. 1997.

A further series of special reports (the Rangahaua Whanui series) covers each New Zealand region in more detail and also particular facets of the legislative and administrative history, eg:

Legislation and administration
Moore, Duncan. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. A, Old land claims. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Boast, R. P. Surplus lands : policy-making and practice in the nineteenth century: A report to the Waitangi Tribunal. 1992. Not a Rangahaua Whanui report.

Riseborough, Hazel. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. C, The Crown's engagement with customary tenure in the nineteenth century. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Woodley, Suzanne. Rangahaua Whanui national theme S: The Native Townships Act 1895. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

Murray, J. E. Rangahaua whanui nation theme, L. Crown policy on Māori reserved lands 1840 to 1865 and lands restricted from alienation 1865 to 1900 ? Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Loveridge, D. M. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. K, Māori Land Councils and Māori Land Boards : a historical overview 1900 to 1952. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

Bennion, Thomas Hugh. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. P, The Māori Land Court and Land Boards, 1909 to 1952. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Bennion, Thomas Hugh. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. P, Succession to Māori land, 1900-52. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Bennion, Thomas Hugh. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. I, Māori and rating law. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Marr, Cathy. Rangahaua Whanui national theme, G. Public works takings of Māori land 1840-1981. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1997.

Anderson, Robyn. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. N, Goldmining: Policy, legislation and administration. 1996.

Boast, Richard P. Rangahaua Whanui national theme. Q, The foreshore. 1996.

Pond, Wendy. Rangahaua Whanui national theme, U. The land with all woods and water. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Regional reports

Daamen, Rose. Rangahaua Whanui District. 1, Auckland. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

Belgrave, Michael. Rangahaua Whanui District. 1 pt. 2, Auckland : counting the hectares: Qquantifying Māori land loss in the Auckland district, 1865-1908. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Marr, Cathy. Rangahaua Whanui District. 8, The alienation of Māori land in the Rohe Potae (Aotea Block), 1840-1920. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1996.

Bargh, Brian J. Rangahaua Whanui District. 7, The Volcanic Plateau. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1995.

Cross, Suzanne. Rangahaua Whanui District. 9, The Whanganui District. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1996.

Daly, Siân. Rangahaua Whanui District. 5B, Poverty Bay. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Hippolite, Joy. Rangahaua Whanui District. 11C, Wairoa. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

Cowie, Dean. Rangahaua Whanui District. 11B, Hawke's Bay. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

Goldsmith, P. J. Rangahaua Whanui District. 11A, Wairarapa. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1996.

Anderson, Robyn. Rangahaua Whanui District. 12, Wellington District, Port Nicholson, Hutt Valley, Porirua, Rangitikei, and Manawatü. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

Phillipson, G. A. Rangahaua Whanui District. 13 pt. 2, The Northern South Island. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.

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Waitangi Tribunal reports

Reports on claims also provide useful information on particular areas and topics.

  • Search the database Waitangi Tribunal reports
  • You can search the database for any word that occurs in any of the reports. This is useful for looking up any references to particular Acts, individuals, and Land Court judges. Reports are available online or a printed copy can be purchased.

Particularly significant Waitangi Tribunal reports include the following:

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. The Ngai Tahu report 1991 (Wai 27). Wellington: Brooker and Friend, 1991.

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Orakei claim (Wai-9). Wellington: Brooker & Friend, 1991.

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. The Te Roroa report, 1992 (Wai 38). Wellington: Brooker and Friend, 1992.

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. The Pouakani report, 1993 (Wai 33). Wellington: Brooker and Friend, 1993. Native Land Court and surveys (Volcanic plateau area)

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. The Taranaki report: Kaupapa tuatahi (Wai 143) : Muru me te raupatu = the muru and raupatu of the Taranaki land and people. Wellington: GP Publications, 1996. Confiscated lands, West Coast Settlements Reserves leases.

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. Muriwhenua land report (Wai 45). Wellington: GP Publishers, 1997. Old land claims, Focuses on Government purchases to 1865.  The Matauranga Māori Collection also holds a large proportion of the submissions from claimants and the Crown Law Office in this claim. See in particular the following:

Stokes, Evelyn. A review of the evidence in the Muriwhenua lands claims. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, 1997.

Sinclair, Fergus. Issues arising from pre-Treaty land transactions. [New Zealand: F. Sinclair, 1993?] Crown Law Office arguments re old land claims and tuku whenua.

Miles, Anita. Te Horo development scheme. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1993. 20th Century land development, compulsory purchasing of uneconomic shares.

New Zealand. Waitangi Tribunal. Turangi township report 1995 (Wai 84). Wellington: Brooker's, 1995.

There are many other reports.

See the Māori Studies guide Waitangi: Treaty and Tribunal for more information about the Tribunal itself.

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Other books

See also the Māori Studies Guide Mana Whenua: traditional Māori land and sea tenure: a bibliography.

Asher, George. Māori land. 1987.

Aureretanga: Groans of the Māoris. 1974. Compiled by G.W.Rusden and first published in 1888.

Ballara, Angela. Iwi: The dynamics of Māori tribal organisation from c.1769 to c.1945. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1998.

Butterworth, G.V. The Māori Trustee. 1991.

Butterworth, G.V. Māori Affairs. 1990. A history of the Māori Affairs Department.

Carroll, Victoria. The alienation of Māori land for public works purposes. 1997.

Customary Māori land and sea tenure = Nga tikanga tiaki taonga o nehera. 1991. A list of references illustrating particular facets of traditional Māori tenure. Includes many references to the Māori Land Court minute books.

Feist, Russell. Māori land: What every practitioner needs to know Wellington: New Zealand Law Society, 1997.

Gilmore, Barbara Rae. Māori land policy and administration during the Liberal period 1900-1912.

A guide to Māori land trusts: Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. Wellington: Dept. for Courts ; Ministry of Māori Development, 1997.

A guide to succession: Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. Wellington: The Dept. : Ministry of Māori Development, 1997.

Harris, Aroha. Māori land development schemes, 1945-1974, with two case studies from the Hokianga: A thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Social Policy at Massey University. 1996.

Kawharu, I.H. Māori land tenure: Studies of a changing institution. 1977

McLean, Patrick. History and policy of the Native land laws of New Zealand from 1840-1876. 1886

National Archives of New Zealand. Māori Affairs Department: series list. 1961. This publication lists all Māori Affairs Department files (1840-1975) held by National Archives in Wellington. It includes a brief history of the department and a list of Commissions of Inquiry with a summary of their terms of reference and findings. (See Vol.3 pp.1-41 and Vol.1,pp.4-5 and Vol.2 for a list of special block files, 102 in all, with notes)

New Zealand. Dept. of Māori Affairs. A compendium of official documents relative to native affairs in the South Island 1872-1873. 2v.

O'Malley, Vincent. Agents of autonomy: Māori committees in the nineteenth century. Wellington: Crown Forestry Rental Trust, 1997.

Quince, Khylee. The law relating to succession to Māori land. 1996.

Smith, Norman William. Māori land law. 1960.

Smith, Norman William. Native custom and law affecting native land.1942.

Stokes, Evelyn. Māori customary tenure of land. Hamilton: Dept. of Geography, University of Waikato, 1997.

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993: A guide to the regulations for Māori incorporations and Māori reservations. Wellington: Ministry of Māori Development, 1994.

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. A working guide to the Act. Wellington: Ministry of Māori Development, 1993.

Toitu te whenua: A guide to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. Wellington: Nga Kaiwhakamarama i Nga Ture, 1996.

Turton. H. Hanson. An epitome of official documents relative to Native affairs and land purchasing in the North Island of New Zealand. See sections F and G about customary land tenure and establishing the Native Land Court.

Twentieth Century Māori Land Administration Research Programme. Rev. ed. Wellington: CFRT, 1998. Covers Land Councils and Boards, reserves administration, development schemes and land alienation with in-depth studies of three individual blocks.

Waetford, Aroha M. The Validation Court of New Zealand: Te Waha o te Parata. 1997.

Ward, Alan. A show of justice: Racial 'amalgamation' in nineteenth century New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1995.

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Regional histories

Alemann, Maurice. Early land transactions in the Ngati Whatua tribal area. Thesis (MA--Maori Studies)--University of Auckland, 1992.

Cross, Suzanne. Muru me te raupatu: Confiscation, compensation and settlement in North Taranaki, 1863-1880. Thesis (MA--History)--University of Auckland, 1993.

Davis, Sarah-Jane Birgetta. Nineteenth century native land legislation versus customary Māori tenure: Case studies : Motukaraka, Te Tapuwae, Te Karae. Thesis (MA--Maori Studies)--University of Auckland, 1995. Northland.

Evison, Harry C. The long dispute: Māori land rights and European colonisation in southern New Zealand. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 1997.

Gullery, Michael. Land alienation since 1868 on Matakana Island and its impact on an island community. Dissertation (MA--History)--University of Auckland, 1992.

Harris, Aroha. Crown acquisition of confiscated and Māori land in Taranaki 1872-1881. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, 1993.

Husbands, Paul. The alienation of South Auckland lands. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal Division, Dept. of Justice, 1993.

Hutton, John Lincoln. “Troublesome specimens” : A study of the relationships between the Crown and the tangata whenua of Hauraki 1863-1869. Thesis (MA--Anthropology)--University of Auckland, 1995.

McKirdy, Alexandra. Māori-Pakeha land transactions in Hawke's Bay, 1848-1864. Thesis (M.A.)--Victoria University of Wellington, 1993.

Mead, S. M. Te kaupapa o te raupatu i te rohe o Ngati Awa = Ethnography of the Ngati Awa experience of raupatu: A report prepared in support of Claim WAI - 46 to the Waitangi Tribunal, Wellington. Rev. ed. Whakatane: Te Runanga o Ngati Awa, 1995.

Stokes, Evelyn. Mökau: Māori cultural and historical perspectives. Hamilton : University of Waikato, 1988.

Stokes, Evelyn. People, land and forests of Te Urewera. Hamilton: University of Waikato, 1986.

Stokes, Evelyn. Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana = The confiscation of Tauranga lands ; a report. Hamilton: University of Waikato, 1990.

Stokes, Evelyn. The allocation of reserves for Māori in the Tauranga confiscated lands. Hamilton: University of Waikato, 1997.

Tau, Te Maire. Kurakura Ngai Tahu. Thesis, University of Canterbury, 1992.

Ward, Alan. The history of the East Coast Māori Trust. Thesis (MA--History)--Victoria University of Wellington, 1958.

Watson, M.K. The white man's right: Acquisition of Māori land by the Crown in the Wellington provincial district of New Zealand, 1840-1876. 1985.

Wikaira, Jeanette. The alienation of Māori land in Hauraki, 1852-1882. Thesis (MA--Maori Studies)--University of Auckland, 1995.

Wiri, Robert. Te Wai-kaukau o nga matua tipuna: Myths, realities and the determination of mana whenua in the Waikaremoana district. Thesis (MA--Maori Studies)--University of Auckland, 1994.

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3. Finding journal articles

Specialist indexes and bibliographies in published works:

Index New  Zealand (INNZ) 1987-  Search the INNZ database for recent journal and newspaper articles.

The default initial search is by relevance keyword. Speechmarks "..." denote a phrase search. The plus symbol + means a term is a required search term.

Try the searches 
"Māori land rights"
"Māori customary law"
"Treaty of Waitangi"
"land tenure" +Maori

Try "land tenure" +Tonga or Western Samoa or Solomon Islands etc for articles about other Pacific jurisdictions.

Research (academic) level material can be sorted out from general interest material by adding the words tara research  to the Command search option (see example below). Note that you cannot use the plus symbol + in a Command search.

Simple Search   
   Advanced Search    
 Search for Quick limits
Set Search Limits 

Subject headings used are listed in the APAIS thesarus.

Some useful articles
Belgrave, Michael. Pre-emption, the Treaty of Waitangi and the politics of Crown purchase in New Zealand Journal of History 31(1):23-37; Apr 1997.

Binney, Judith. Te mana tuatoru: The Rohe Potae of Tuhoe in New Zealand Journal of History. 31(1):117-131; Apr 1997.

Brooking, Tom. 'Busting up' the greatest estate of all: Liberal Māori land policy, 1891-1911 in New Zealand Journal of History 26(1):78-98; Apr 1992.

Gilling, Bryan D. Engine of destruction? An introduction to the history of the Māori Land Court in Victoria University of Wellington Law Review 24(2):115-139; Jul 1994.

Harris, Aroha. Māori land title improvement since 1945: Communal ownership and economic use in New Zealand Journal of History 31(1):132-152; Apr 1997.

Monin, Paul. The Māori economy of Hauraki 1840-1880 in New Zealand Journal of History. 29(2):197-210; Oct 1995.

Sorrenson. M.P.K. Māori and Pakeha in The Oxford history of New Zealand. 1992 pp.141-166.

Stone, R.C.J. James Dilworth. 1995. Contains chapters on Dilworth's purchases under pre-emption waver in the 1840s and his involvement with South Waikato lands in the 1880s.

Stone, R.C.J. The Māori lands question and the fall of the Grey government, 1879 in New Zealand Journal of History 1(1):51-74; April 1967.

Tuuta, Dion. Stout-Ngata Commission. Matters historical: The proceedings of the 2nd University of Waikato History Graduates' Conference 30 August - 1 September 1996.

Index to New Zealand periodicals 1941-1986
The precursor of INNZ, the Index to New Zealand periodicals, indexes only journals, including the Māori Affairs Department publication, Te Ao hou. It covers the years 1941-1986. Look under Maoris.

Bibliographies in other books may prove useful. See also:

Taylor, C.R.H. A bibliography of publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. 1972. This covers books and journal articles published prior to 1970. It is organised by subject and includes four pages on Māori land.

The Māori land legislation manual = Te puka ako hanganga mo nga ture whenua Māori. 1994. This includes a annotated bibliography of sources on the Māori Land Court including archival material. See also, the Maori Land Legislation Database.

Mana whenua: Traditional Māori land and sea tenure. Bibliography of published and unpublished sources.

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4. University of Auckland Research Essays

Research essays by Anthropology and Māori Studies students on the history of various blocks of Māori land are held in the Architecture Library.

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5. Government Publications

An extremely useful guide to the structure and functions of different government bodies in New Zealand from 1840 is:

Ringer, J.B. An introduction to New Zealand government. 1991.

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Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR)

New Zealand. Parliament. House of Representatives Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives.... 1858- 

The AJHR comprises a selection of all the documents which have been tabled in parliament since 1858. It includes reports of government departments, commissions of inquiry and select committees, official correspondence and a wide variety of miscellaneous papers, lists and tables. It is a prime source of information on Māori land.

Finding Aids
Each volume lists its own table of contents on the first page. Indexes for 1914-1922, 1939-1953, 1954-1963 are on the shelf at the end of the volumes. A further index covering the years 1858-1913 is in the NZ Glass Case. Suggested points of entry are names of individual blocks of land and people, also under:
"Native Affairs" and "Native Affairs--Land"
"Committees, Select--Native Affairs"
"Committees, Select--Public petitions"
"Confiscated lands"
"Crown lands"
"Education--Schools --Native"
The indexing is fairly idiosyncratic and not really comprehensive. See also:

Material by Māori from the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 18601869. 1993. Includes its own year by year indexes to people, places and iwi.

Māori land claims as recorded in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives and the Legislative Council, 18551985. 1987.
A chronological listing of petitions from Māori regarding land.

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Commissions of Inquiry

For a list of New Zealand commissions of this type see:

Robertson, Evelyn. New Zealand Royal commissions, commissions and committees of inquiry, 1864-1981. 1982.

Mutch, Kevin. Summary and index of Royal and other commissions concerning Māori land claims, 1856-1975. 1990.

Some Commissions were set up to investigate one or two particular blocks of land. Others looked into the whole field of Māori land legislation. Of particular interest for a general overview of the situation, and much quoted by historians, is the 1891 Rees-Carroll-Mackay Commission on Native Land Laws. In this league also are the Stout-Ngata Commission of 1907-1908 and the Prichard-Waetford Commission of 1965. The Hawkes Bay Native Lands Alienation Commission of 1873 has also been the subject of much interest. The following is a list of commissions of more general scope.

Hawkes Bay Native Lands Alienation Commission. Reported on the enforced sales (to clear debts) of huge areas of Hawkes Bay land under the original 1865 10 owner legislation.

West Coast Commission. [AJHR 1879, G-3B; 1880, G-2; 1881, G-5; 1882, G-5; 1883 G-3; 1884, A-5] Set up to sort out Raupatu lands in Taranaki. See Raupatu Document Bank for files.

Native claims to land etc., Poverty Bay. (H.T. Clarke) [AJHR Session II, G4]

Native Land Laws. [AJHR 1891, G-1 and G-1B] See G-1A for a review of the legislation to 1890.

Middle Island Native Claims. [AJHR 1891, G-7, G-7A]

Native Lands and Native Land Tenure. (R. Stout and A. Ngata) [1907, G-1 etc.; 1908. G-1 etc; 1909, G-1 etc]

This commission sat in different locations around New Zealand and produced comprehensive lists of lands in Māori ownership, reports on each region and a history of legislation. See AJHR 1907, G-1C for a review of legislation from 1862-1907.

Native Land Claims. (R.N. Jones)[AJHR 1921, G-5]

Confiscated lands. (Sir William Sim)[AJHR 1928, G-7] See files in the Raupatu Document Bank for more information.

Rating of Native Land. [AJHR 1933, G-11]

Native Affairs Commission. [AJHR 1934, G-11] Looked at Ngata's land development scheme.

Surplus Lands Commission. (Sir Michael Myers)[AJHR 1948, G-8] "Surplus lands" were lands retained by the Government after the Old Land Claims Commission refused to award them to claimants.

Māori Land Board Leases. (D.J.Dalglish)[AJHR 1951, G-5]

Taxation of Māori authorities. [AJHR 1952, B4] Covers East Coast Commission lands and other lands.

Māori Affairs Department. (Hunn Report) [AJHR 1961, G-10] Contains sections on Land Settlement and Land Titles. See p.92 for a subject index to legislation.

Māori Land and Māori Land Court. (Prichard-Waetford Report)
Published as: New Zealand.Committee of Inquiry into the Laws affecting Māori Land and Jurisdiction and Powers of the Māori Land Court. Report...1965.

Māori Reserved land. (B.Sheehan)[AJHR,1975, H-3]

Māori Leasehold Land. (W.TeR.Mete-Kingi)
Report published as: New Zealand. Committee Appointed to Investigate Problems Associated with Farming Māori Leasehold Land. Farming of Māori leasehold land : report of the Committee. 1978.

Māori Trustee. (M.G.McKellar)
Report published as:New Zealand. Committee appointed to Review the Operations of the Māori Trustee. The role of the Māori Trustee: report... 1979.

Māori Land Courts. (Thaddeus McCarthy) [1980, H3]

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Other reports in the AJHR (a selection)

Papers relative to the working of the Native Land Court Acts. [AJHR 1871, A-2A]

Martin, William. Memorandum of the operation of the Native Lands Court. [AJHR 1871, A-2]

Rees, W.L. The Native land laws: Memorandum on. [AJHR 1884 Session II, G-2]

Report on the Native Land Disposition Bill. AJHR 1885 I2B] 75pp.
Includes evidence from Carroll, Wahanui, Hikawera, Fenton and Fitzgerald.

Native Lands Settlement and Administration Bill (proposed). [AJHR 1898 I3A and 1899 I3A]
The first of 142 pages includes evidence in English and Māori from Te Heuheu, Herepete Rapihana, Mohi Te Atahikoia, Paratene Ngata and Tamahau Mahupuku.

Report on the Māori Land Laws Amendment Bill and the Māori Councils Bill. [AJHR 1903 I3A]

Report on the petition of Te Wherowhero Tawhiao and 276 others re Māori Land Councils Bill. AJHR 1905 I3B]

Ngata, Apirana T. Native land development. 1931. [AJHR 1931, G-10] which includes an overview of the history of Māori land tenure and development schemes as well as lists and maps of individual blocks.

New Zealand. Parliament. Legislative Council.  Journals and appendix to the journals of the Legislative Council of New Zealand.
The 1874 volume includes the opinions of 5 judges on the 1873 Act.

British Parliamentary Papers Top of page

Great Britain. Parliament. Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: New Zealand. 1968-1971.

New Zealand had no parliament until 1854 and was governed as a colony from Great Britain. The GBPP provides some of the same sort of material as the AJHR for the years from 1840 to 1858. It includes the minutes and reports of the two major select committee inquiries of 1837-38 and 1844, the first of which resulted in the annexation of New Zealand.

The two-volume index covers Australia as well as New Zealand. Suggested points of entry are "Māori", "Māoris" and "Land". References to most individual Māori people and tribes will only be found under the headings "Māoris -- Individuals", and "Māoris--Tribes".

See George Clarke’s report on customary Māori land tenure [Vol.II, pp.355-359]

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6. New Zealand Statutes

The best index to legislation affecting Māori land is:

  • Williams, David. The Māori land legislation manual = Te puka ako hanganga mo nga ture whenua Māori. 1994. This is an annotated list of the most significant Māori land legislation from 1840 to 1993 with notes on the impact of specific Acts.
  • See also, the Maori Land Legislation Database. The database provides a summary of all New Zealand legislation since 1840 (including private and local Acts) which has affected Maori or Maori land. It also gives brief notes on the historical context and the impact of each Act cited, with references to other Government publications.

Other methods of finding historical legislation.

  • Use the wall chart of current legislation to find the Act in force which applies to the area you are interested in. At the end of that Act there will be a list of earlier Acts amended or repealed. These can then be located and the trail of obsolete legislation followed back to the original British law.
  • New Zealand. Index to the laws of New Zealand. 1909.
    Local and personal Acts as well as public general Acts and Provincial Ordinances from the 1854-1876 provincial government period. There is a subject index to Public General Statutes in force and an alphabetical listing of all obsolete and repealed Statutes.

  • The index to the Consolidated Statutes of 1908 gives an excellent chronological list of New Zealand Statutes to that date with dates of repeal.
  • New Zealand. The Consolidated Statutes of the Dominion of New Zealand.

See also:

Wily, H.J. The abridgement of New Zealand case law.
Volume 10, pp.17-164 lists 572 cases in the interpretation of Māori land legislation, covering 1861-1965.

Māori Land Legislation Timeline 1880-1998. A chronological listing of Maori land legislation and important events effecting land legislation from 1840-1998.

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7. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates

Also known as Hansard. An excellent source of contemporary thinking on particular issues. Most debate is about particular bills, although there are also questions. Once the date of an Act is known it is easy to find the debates about it by looking for the same year of the NZPD volumes. Generally, each volume of the Debates will include an index to the contents of that volume and one of the volumes for the session, labelled "Sessional Index", will contain a composite index to the whole session. Debates are indexed under the names of members, the short titles of Bills (sometimes all Bills are grouped together under the heading "Bills") and subjects of questions. New Zealand had two Houses of Parliament until 1949. The upper house was called the Legislative Council (L.C.) and the lower house the House of Representatives (H.R.) Often legislation follows investigations by the Government department involved and these can be looked for in the AJHRs of the preceding years.

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8. New Zealand Gazette

The NZ Gazette is a weekly publication of official government notices and proclamations. It includes notices of Māori Land Court sittings, appointments of court officials, appointments of trustees, lists of government lands available for sale and selection, proclamations of lands restricted for Crown purchase under the Immigration Acts of 1871 and 1877, notifications of land taken for public works, lists of alienations under the Act of 1894 etc. The lists of lands for sale include brief descriptions and prices per acre.

There is an index at the beginning of each volume and indexes to each separate issue at the end of the issue.

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9. Turton (Turton's Deeds)

Comprises four volumes of official documents, deeds and survey plans relating to early private and Government Māori land purchases. New Zealand Company claims were dealt with separately and are not included in these volumes.

  1. Turton, Hanson. An epitome of official documents relative to Native Affairs and land purchases in the North Island of New Zealand. 1883.
    This volume includes material relating to both private and government land purchases, comprising official correspondence, documents and reports. It is arranged chronologically and by area. The reports of the Land Purchase Department are arranged by district and contain material relating to individual blocks. Other sections relate to the Native Land Court, Native Reserves, Native land tenure and the 5 and 10 percent reserves.
  2. Māori deeds of old private land purchases in New Zealand from the year 1815 to 1840, with pre-emptive and other claims.... 1882.
    This volume covers the so-called "Old Land Claims". Private individuals who claimed to have bought land in New Zealand before 1840 had to present their claims to a commission for adjudication. About 1000 claims were considered covering 10 million acres. (New Zealand Company claims were dealt with separately and are not included in these volumes.) The commission awarded 292,475 acres to the claimants; 204,000 acres, the so-called "surplus lands" were retained by the Government. These were the subject of a Commission of Inquiry in 1948. (See AJHR, 1948, G-8) The archives of the Old Land Claims Commission are held at National Archives, Wellington. An inventory to these archives is held at NZGC 333.0995 N53a. The "Pre-emptive Claims" comprised land bought directly from Māori vendors when the Fitzroy Government briefly relaxed the prohibition on private purchases in 1844. A total of 250 claims were involved.
    There are internal indexes to Block names and by district. Other looseleaf indexes are available to the names of the vendors and purchasers.

      Lee, Jack. The Old Land Claims in New Zealand. 1993.
      Wyatt, Philippa. The Old Land Claims and the concept of "sale". Thesis (MA--History)--University of Auckland, 1991
      See also the various submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal in the Muriwhenua claim.

  3. Māori deeds of land purchases in the North Island of New Zealand. 1877.
    Covers government land purchases from 1840 to 1877. Access by area and block name.
  4. Plans of land purchases in the North Island of New Zealand. 1878.
    Two volumes. Includes only Government purchases from 1840 to 1877. The second alphabetical index at the front of the volume for Auckland has been paginated. The plans are also arranged by district.

Similar material about the South Island can be found in:

Mackay, Alexander. A compendium of official documents relative to native affairs in the South Island. 1872, 1873.

Sections cover land purchases, reserves, schools, the Native Land Court and the census There is also a schedule of deeds and an annotated list of Acts of Parliament.

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10. New Zealand Māori Land Court

The Māori Land Court operates an information office in Auckland. There are no historical records there, however, you can obtain application forms, search the Maori Land Online database and talk to Māori Land Court staff.

135 Kolmar Rd
PO Box 23358

Ph: (09) 279 5850
Fax: (09) 279 5852


You can also make enquiries via their website:

Other historical Māori Land Court records for Tokerau, Waikato-Maniapoto and Waiariki, such as succession registers, rehearing registers, partition registers and correspondence are held at National Archives, Auckland.

Regional offices of the Māori Land Court at Whangarei, Rotorua and Hamilton hold block files, minute books, application files of various kinds and nominal indexes.

Title to each block of land had to be investigated by the Māori Land Court before it could be sold or leased. Almost the whole country, with the exception of those areas already sold before 1865 and the confiscated blocks, was brought before the court for this original title investigation before 1910. Further court hearings were held in subsequent years to create partitions of these original blocks, and to award succession to the descendants of the original owners. From the 1880s rehearings were held to enquire into all the dealings in particular blocks since the original title investigation. Relative Interests and Equitable Owners hearings divided interests among the listed owners and added to titles the names of the rest of the hapu in cases where blocks had originally been awarded to a handful of rangatira as representatives for the tribe. An Appellate Court was set up in 1894 to hear appeals. Some Appellate Court minutes were recorded in separate minute books. Others were entered in the ordinary court books. A Validation Court was set at the same time to investigate blocks where the ownership had become very confused by changes in the legislation, with powers to retrospectively validate transactions entered into in good faith.

From 1900-1908 Māori controlled Papatupu Block committees investigated title to large areas of land in various districts. Minutes of these hearings, in Māori, have survived.

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11. Finding Aids to the Māori Land Court Minute Books

Māori Land Court Minute Books Index (MLCMBI) 1865-1910

A searchable online database, The Māori Land Court Minute Books Index (MLCMBI) contains over 90,000 records and indexes over 1100 minute books between 1865-1910, from the Taitokerau, Waikato-Maniapoto, Tairawhiti, Waiariki, Aotea, Takitimu, and Waipounamu Māori Land Court Districts. More information about the MLCMBI is available.

Finding Aids 1865-1975
General Indexes are held for the periods 1865-1900, 1900-1962, 1962-1975.
Separate volumes of the 1900-1962 index relate to each Māori Land Court district. Access is only by date, place of sitting, name of minute book and judge.

Each minute book (with one or two exceptions) has its own block index at the beginning or end of the volume. Most also have an index to succession orders by the name of the deceased person. Access to a particular case about a particular block of land is difficult unless you have a date or other reference.

Sometimes the quickest way is to obtain a copy of the original survey map of the block from LINZ (Land Information New Zealand) and look at the dates which were written on it each time it was brought into the court. It is also possible to look at block files for each area at district offices of the Māori Land Court.

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12. Raupatu Document Bank

The RDB Consists of government documents and files relating to confiscated lands in South Auckland/Waikato, Taranaki, Tauranga, Opotiki/Whakatane, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay. See the map of confiscation districts on the cover of the red Raupatu Document Bank guide (kept at the end of the sequence).

The Document Bank includes published material from the NZ Gazette, AJHR and NZ Statutes as well as the records of the Compensation Court and other quasi-judicial commissions which returned a large proportion of the land initially confiscated in the form of Crown Grants. There are also the records and reports of later Commissions of Inquiry and material from Māori Affairs, DOSLI (Department of Survey and Land Information) and other government department files.

The red Raupatu Document Bank Guide (kept with the volumes) has suggestions for different approaches to using the RDB and some extra indexing. The volume called Index Part One is the main index.

Confiscated land returned to Māori came under the jurisdiction of the Māori Land Court, but the earliest hearings on these lands can be found in the minutes of the Compensation Court and the Tauranga and Poverty Bay Commissions, copied in the Raupatu Document Bank.

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13. Maps

The Maps Room, Level M, has complete sets of the imperial and metric series of cadastral maps for New Zealand and some earlier composite sheets, There is a selection of composite cadastral maps in the Māori Historical Map Collection which can be used to ascertain the location, boundaries and names of blocks in a particular area. The names of many of the original blocks and later subdivisions can be picked up from these, also the numbers of the original survey maps.

LINZ Land Information New Zealand) Auckland at the Price Waterhouse Building in Federal Street has a copy of every survey map ever registered for Northland and Auckland as far south as Mercer. Other regional offices hold maps covering the rest of the country. They are indexed by block name in the Index to Māori Blocks and the Parish Register. A computer index can be used to search for plans by geographic location. Advice on Access to Māori Land Information is listed on their website.

Māori Land Information Base
This database provides current information on blocks of land under the Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. It includes cadastral maps, acreages and ownership status. Access is by block name or by zeroing in on any part of New Zealand from an initial map of the whole country. Larger scale maps can also give an overall picture of Māori land ownership in different parts of the country.

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14. Who to contact for help

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Contact: Māori and Pasifika Services
File Last updated: 18 December, 2015