This thesis is a thematic exploration of the structures and aspirations of Maori which had as their objective, Kotahitanga. One focus is upon causitive factors which created an environment under which traditional leaders sought the strength of unity with other iwi influences, both internal and external which shaped policy and either provided an incentive for or mitigated against Kotahitanga are canvassed. The extent to which Maori unity is already a reality as a result of assimilation with pakeha is covered. That this is distinct from the type of unified political voice which can express Maori opinion, input into policy at a national level, and advance Maori development is fundamental to this document.
Three themes, each of which are explored chronologically and through case studies, emerge from this discussion. They are:
i. the theme of He Whakaminenga o Nga Hapu, which examines movements based upon tribal constructs;
ii. He Iwi Tahi Tatou, where the focus shifts toward structures based upon notions of assimilation;
iii. and thirdly, He Paihere Tangata, where the thrust for unity stems from a particular sectarian interest.
The principle discussion centres upon the structures and mechanisms which operated and were instituted to achieve a concerted platform for action; the outcomes for Maori as well as the reaction of society in general and of the Crown in particular.
That these movements tended to be reactive, is central to this study which covers each of these themes chronologically.
The thesis concludes with an analysis of the contemporary National Maori Congress, established July 14 1990, with some comments regarding the process to date, potential constitutional ramifications and an opinion on how best to achieve future valuable outcomes for Maori.