Native reserves, assimilation and self-determination : Te Atiawa, the Crown and settlers, North Taranaki 1840-1875.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts (Hons)
The historiography of Native reserves which has emerged from the Waitangi Tribunal’s historical inquiry into Maori grievances against the Crown since 1985 has necessarily been preoccupied with the creation and alienation of reserves in the context of the Crown-iwi partnership and national Native reserve policies. This thesis investigates the local dimensions of Crown policy and restores a focus on Crown-hapu relations by offering an analysis of the creation, utilisation and administration of the Native reserves of the FitzRoy, Omata, Grey, Waiwakaiho and Hua blocks in North Taranaki between 1840 and 1875. It argues that Native reserve were intended to contain, control and assimilate Maori and as such the Native reserve policies of the New Zealand Company and the Crown were indicative of visions of the Maori future within an evolving Anglo-settler society. Although this agenda of assimilation remained prominent, the views of Crown officials regarding how Native reserves would perform these functions changed markedly between the 1840s and 1850s. In particular there was a shift away from scattering reserves amongst settler sections in the hope that Maori would emulate settlers and learn to be “civilised” to an attempt to have Maori re-purchasing land from the Crown instead of Native reserves, which they would hold in individualised Crown title. Thus it was hoped that the communal nature of Maori society would be broken down and Maori would come to adhere to British social, legal and economic norms. At the same time this thesis recovers and assesses the world-views and expectations of Te Atiawa hapu about their future with Pakeha. It demonstrates the impact of these visions on hapu understandings of the purpose and nature of Native reserves, and on the ways in they formed economic and social relationships with settlers in utilised the reserves. The combination of primary historical sources and a statistical analysis demonstrates that these relationships played a significant role in shaping the work of the Native reserves commissioners appointed under New Zealand Native Reserves Act 1856 in Taranaki. In particular they lead to the commissioners modifying their initial pro-active approach to bringing the reserves under their administration if favour of acting as intermediaries between Te Atiawa and settlers with pre-arranged leases. A comparison of the nature and utilisation of reserves in hapu and Crown control demonstrates that although Te Atiawa retained control of approximately half of the Native reserves in these blocks all of their most commercially viable reserves were brought under the Act, and in the process the Native title was extinguished. Co-operative relationships, which underpinned the leasing of reserves in the private sphere, were in marked contrast to public settler expressions of unease about Te Atiawa and their reserves in New Plymouth, and to mistrust between the two communities that reached its zenith during the Taranaki Wars. Such mistrust ultimately lead to the absence of Te Atiawa Native reserves and communities from the city of New Plymouth.