Policies and prophecies : aspects of Government native policy in Taranaki, 1878-1884 : a thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis examines the government's reactions to the pacific resistance offered by the resident Maori tribes to the survey for sale and settlement of confiscated lands between Hawera and New Plymouth. on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, in the years 1878-1884. Successive governments neglected to honour the promises to make reserves contained in the legislation confiscating the land and, by treating those who protested this neglect as infatuated followers of deluded prophets and refusing to consider their legitimate grievances, helped create in Taranaki a centre of disaffection which they perceived as a threat to the colony. This study looks first at the existing literature on the events in question, and then at the acts and proclamations of confiscation and the promises contained therein. The main body of the thesis, chapters three through seven, is a chronological study of the years from 1878 to 1884. When the government attempted to enforce the confiscation on the Waimate plains by surveying for sale before making any effort to delimit the promised reserves, the resident tribes protested first by removing the surveyors, then by ploughing the disputed lands and finally by fencing across the roads which cut through their cultivations. The government chose to interpret Maori protest as a denial of the confiscation and a challenge to European supremacy. Under intense settler pressure the government responded by arresting almost four hundred ploughmen and fencers and finally two prominent Taranaki chiefs, and passing legislation which enabled them to imprison and hold the protestors without trial for up to two years in South Island goals. The injustice done the Taranaki people stemmed more from a determination on the part of the European to force the Maori to submit to European law and admit to European supremacy, than from a greed for land. The government's aim was to end Maori isolation by settling a close European population on the coast in an effort to destroy Maori separatism and self determination. The stand the Taranaki people took in defence of their rights was finally vindicated, yet the grievances remain, and the events of the 'Parihaka years' are a reminder of the issues which lie behind continuing Maori efforts to have those grievances righted.
Maori, Government relations, Land tenure, History, Government policy, Taranaki, New Zealand