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Chronology for Maori in New Zealand

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Maori in New Zealand, 2004, available at: [accessed 20 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Jan 19, 1990 The Xinhua News Service reports that Kia Whakataara (means to challenge), an umbrella group for a network of Maori protest organizations and activists, plans to disrupt New Zealand's 150th birthday celebrations this year in a region-by-region, month-by-month campaign. The group aims at educating the Maori people about their unjust treatment in the area of health, education, housing, justice and political representation. The group's eventual goal is the honoring of the treaty of Waitangi.
Feb 6 - 7, 1990 About 400 Maori disrupt a reenactment of the signing of the treaty of Waitangi and heckle the British Queen as she speaks to a crowd of 30,000. Maori radicals occupy a luxury hotel operated by the Department of Conservation demanding that the land and lodge be handed over to their tribe.
May 14, 1990 The Chatham Islands, 860 km. east of New Zealand's main land masses, whose 800 inhabitants are mostly Maori are given limited autonomy after a long quest for self-determination. The autonomy mainly consists of increased control over local affairs through the government supplying funds in block grants rather than administering programs itself.
Jun 1990 The government gives partial ownership of the Waitomo Glow Caves, one of New Zealand's most famous tourist attractions, to the descendants of the original Maori owners. The government settles individual land-claims with the Maori throughout the period covered by this chronology.
Jul 13 - 15, 1990 The Maori Congress is established by the United Tribes of Aotearoa. It is made up of 45 participating tribes and bodies who represent the Maori. The first meeting of the Maori Congress at Ngaruawahia, North Island ends in the launching of a national tribal forum. A spokesman for the Congress says that the Maori Council, established in 1962, no longer speaks for the Maori people.
Jul 23, 1990 Guards at a New Zealand prison are accused of racism.
May 9, 1991 Agence France Presse reports that Maori groups are seeking the right to eat several protected species of birds, claiming that the practice is part of their culture. Environmental groups oppose the practice.
May 14, 1991 The government decides to establish a new Ministry of Maori Development to give advice on Maori health, education, training, resources and economic development.
May 23, 1991 Thousands of Maori, joined by politicians and foreign dignitaries, celebrate the 25th jubilee of their spiritual leader, the Maori Queen.
Jul 16, 1991 Agence France Presse reports that a "white power" group has been terrorizing Maori in New Zealand's deep south.
Jan 3, 1992 The Ministry of Maori Development officially comes into being. It replaces the Ministry of Maori Affairs and the Iwi Transition Agency.
Jan 29, 1992 Comments by New Zealand's prime minister, Jim Bolger, blaming the Maori for violent crime are criticized in New Zealand's press.
May 1992 The Waitangi Tribunal, which makes recommendations on land rights, causes an uproar when it for the first time suggests that land-claims on privately owned land can be valid.
Feb 1993 A Maori leader calls for New Zealand to rename itself to Aotearoa or "Land of the Long White Cloud," the Maori name for the country. A political uproar ensues when New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, agrees to consider the name change.
Jul 23, 1993 The government abandons a plan to eliminate New Zealand's 4 Maori parliamentary districts. The plan was part of a still active plan to change the country's electoral system from a first-party-past-the-post system to a German-style proportional representation system. The issue will be decided in a referendum during the upcoming national elections. Proportional representation is expected to give the Maori better representation in parliament.
Nov 1993 In national elections, the Alliance, a coalition of several small parties including the Maori Mana Motuhake party, wins 2 out of 99 seats. Voters also vote in favor of changing the country's electoral system to a German-style proportional representation system. The new system will be introduced in time for the 1996 elections and the number of seats in parliament will be increased to 120. This system is expected to increase Maori representation in Parliament. The Maori currently have 4 reserved seats from Maori districts in Parliament.
Dec 7, 1993 The Maori Council decides to launch a new political party called Aotearoa to take advantage of the new election laws.
Dec 27, 1993 The Maori decide to launch a campaign to promote the use of their native tongue. The campaign is molded after a similar campaign by England's Welsh population.
Feb 1994 During a visit to New Zealand, Prince Charles is asked by Maori leaders to ensure that the treaty of Waitangi is more fully honored.
Mar 10, 1994 Prime Minister Jim Bolger is criticized by Maori members of parliament for advocating that New Zealand become a republic without consulting the country's indigenous population.
May 23, 1994 Inter Press Service reports that white supremacists fleeing from black majority rule in South Africa have been slipping into New Zealand, triggering an uproar among Maoris and anti-apartheid groups. Maori groups filed a challenge to New Zealand's immigration policy in 1991 on the grounds that it had been developed without consulting the country's indigenous people. The Waitangi tribunal has not yet held hearings on this issue.
Oct 3, 1994 A High Court judge rules against the Maori in a legal battle over the number of seats reserved for them in parliament. The dispute centers over an exercise conducted by the government earlier this year when Maoris were given the chance to switch from the general electoral roll to their own election roll. 32,000 did so but this was only enough to increase the number of Maori seats from 4 out of 99 to 5 out of the future 120 member parliament. The Maori complain that the drive was underfunded and failed to reach all eligible Maori. They also complain that, like other policies concerning the Maori, this policy was decided without their being consulted. The Maori appeal this decision and eventually lose their appeal.
Nov 11, 1994 Over 100 Maori protesters disrupt a courtroom by singing and chanting slogans in support of a man accused of defacing a national landmark to draw attention to Maori suffering.
Dec 7 - 8, 1994 The government proposes a "take it or leave it" $1 billion (US$633 billion) settlement including land and cash to settle all outstanding Maori land-claims. Many Maori are upset over the government's proposal because the Maori were not consulted on the issue. About 40 Maori protest the settlement and a major Maori chief refuses to attend a ceremony at which the proposal is unveiled.
Dec 21, 1994 Two men appear in court charged with intentional damage after the statue of a former Prime Minister is splattered with paint and beheaded, apparently in a protest for Maori rights.
Dec 24, 1994 The Tainui tribe, a major Maori tribe on the North Island, accepts a US$100 million settlement for land seized by the British in the 19th century. The settlement includes the return of land and cash payment.
Feb 6, 1995 A Maori spits at and exposes his buttocks to the Prime Minister at a National Day celebration. The celebration also sees the firebombing of the house where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and the destruction of national flags which are replaced by Maori flags. The protests center around resentment over the government's land-claim settlement proposal. (See December 7-8, 1994 for details of the proposal.)
Feb 15, 1995 300 protesters march against the government's proposed land-claims settlement. (See December 7-8, 1994 for details of proposal.)
Mar 1 - May 31, 1995 Maori protesters occupy the public gardens in the small North Island town of Wanganui. They are eventually ordered to leave by a High Court judge and the protest ends peacefully.
Apr 3, 1995 Fifty Maori protestors occupy the Rotorua Maori Arts and Crafts Institute saying that they fear the government is about to privatize the institution.
May 3, 1995 Radical Maoris threaten to carry out acts of terrorism in New Zealand unless they are consulted on foreign investment schemes that would otherwise enrich only whites.
May 9, 1995 Police raided the Moutoa Gardens in Wanganui, which had been occupied by Maori since February 28. The Maori claimed it was their land. The police claimed to have confiscated drugs and weapons from those arrested, whom they believed to be members of a criminal gang called Black Power. (Agence France Presse 5/9/95)
May 15, 1995 In a speech in parliament, Prime Minister Jim Bolger declared "The government will not entertain any division of sovereignty of parliament, nor substantive powersharing of a kind which would involve a Maori parliament or separate legal or taxation systems," (Agence France Presse 5/15/95)
May 22, 1995 The Tainui tribe signed an agreement accepting 170 million New Zealand dollars ($110 million US) plus the return of 15,782 hectares (38,981 acres) of land now in government hands as a settlement of land claims. Some tribe members expressed dissatisfaction with the treaty, since tribe members had only agreed to it by postal ballot. (Agence France Presse 5/21/95)
Sep 21, 1995 The six-month occupation of a school by Maori protesting for land rights ended when 100 police in riot gear stormed the building. (Deutsche Press-Agentur 9/21/95)
Nov 3, 1995 Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II signed a document apologizing for past injustices the British had inflicted upon the Maori, as well as authorizing a $170 million settlement and the return of land to the Tainui. (Inter Press Service 11/3/95)
Nov 8 - 10, 1995 A total of 40 Maoris were arrested during protests at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which brought together the leaders of all the countries in the British Commonwealth. The Maoris were demanding a measure of sovereignty as well as the return of their land. (Inter Press Service 11/10/95)
Feb 7, 1996 For the first time, the government did not celebrate Waitangi Day in the city of Waitangi, where the national day celebrations had gotten out of hand the year before. 500 Maori protestors clashed with police at the site of the signing of the treaty. (Inter Press Service 2/7/96)
Jun 14, 1996 In a report, The Waitangi Tribunal described an 1881 attack on the Maori of Parihaka in which 777,974 hectares (1.92 million acres) of land were seized, villagers were raped and heirlooms destroyed, as the "Holocaust of Taranaki history." The phraseology later caused considerable outrage among white New Zealanders. (Agence France Presse 6/14/96)
Sep 12, 1996 Colin Robertson, a white New Zealander, asked Race Relations Conciliator Ranjen Prasad to censure Waitangi Tribunal chairman Chief Judge Eddie Durie for describing the 1881 attack on Parihaka as a holocaust. He further demanded that Durie be called to make a public apology to New Zealanders. He believed that the categorization was in violation of the Human Rights Act, and was a misrepresentation, since he maintained that nobody died during the battle. (New Zealand Daily News 9/12/96)
Oct 13, 1996 New Zealand held its first elections under the Mixed Member Proportional election system, which allowed voters to vote for both a local representative and a national party. Maori votes were split between two Maori candidates: the Maori independence movement representative political party - which got the bulk of the Maori vote but little nationwide support, and the New Zealand First Party led by Maori lawyer Winston Peters. The latter, which made the cessation of immigration a key campaign issue, also attracted the white working class vote, won enough votes to be part of a coalition government with the National Party. (Inter Press Service 10/8/96)
Mar 26, 1997 Cultural consultant Hiwi Tauroa, speaking at the New Zealand Secondary Principals' Association conference, declared that while race relations in New Zealand had improved over the last ten years, they would be much better if everybody - not just Maori children - learned to be bilingual. He was advocating for the experience and opportunity of learning a new language, however, and not specifying that all New Zealanders should learn Maori and English. (New Zealand Daily News 3/27/97)
Oct 3, 1997 In a newspaper article, Maori leaders went on record to state that the chief problems facing the Maori in Parihaka stemmed from the lack of land rights and therefore cultural heritage in that area. In that area, Maori retained less than 3% of their original property, and what they had was poorly developed. The leaders also recognized that many of their problems also resulted from their own actions, but that government ignorance and lack of interest in Maori values and issues also impeded relations. (New Zealand Daily News 10/3/97)
Oct 28, 1997 Taranaki Maori commemorated the signing of He Wakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni -- the Declaration of Independence -- with a march through New Plymouth. (New Zealand Daily News 10/29/97)
Dec 4, 1997 50 white New Zealand farmers drove their tractors up the steps of Parliament to protest the passage of the Maori Reserved Lands Amendment, which changed the way Maoris were paid for reserve land leased to farmers. Under the old system, unimproved land was leased at a fixed rate for a 21-year-period, but the new law allowed an independent tribunal to determine fair compensation for the difference between market rent and the government lease. (New Zealand Daily News 12/5/97 and 12/9/97)
Jun 17, 1998 Maori Education Trust chairman Peter Sharples suggested that since mainstream education had not helped Maori children move up the socio-economic scale, the Maoris should create a Maori education delivery service with its own budget, authority and standards, to help the Maori achieve autonomy. (New Zealand Daily News 6/18/98)
Jul 7, 1998 Maori Affairs Minister Tau Henare of the Zealand First (NZF) party threatened Maori protests if Maori were to lose seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections. His party was not doing well in the polls. (Agence France Presse 7/7/98)
Apr 10, 1999 Helen Clark, of the opposition Labour party, suggested that tribal Maori groups - iwi - should be directly funded by the government for social projects, instead of having to contract with government agencies for services. (New Zealand Daily News 4/10/99)
Jul 13, 1999 A Maori New Zealand government minister Tuariki Delamare accused his colleagues of supporting racism by not insisting that state departments employ more ethnic minorities. The unemployment rate of Maoris and Pacific islanders is over 15 per cent, compared with 4.6 per cent for Europeans. The State Services Commission, which controls the civil service, said Delamere was wrong. It said Maoris were 14 per cent of the population and had 13 percent of government jobs while employment of Pacific islanders matched their 5 per cent of the population.(Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/12/99)
Nov 3, 1999 Act NZ education spokesperson Donna Awatere-Huata said that education should be the primary campaign issue in the upcoming election. She noted two studies: one stating that more than 60% of employers reported skill shortages, with most pointing to a lack of basic educational skills such as simple math and the ability to read and write English clearly and accurately, and another which she said showed that the education gap between Maori and non-Maori was the greatest between any majority and minority in the world, and contributed to worsening race relations. (New Zealand Daily News 11/3/99)

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