An ambivalent agency : the administration of native affairs by the Liberal Government, 1893-1906 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
This thesis examines the administration of Native affairs by the Liberal Government from 1893 to 1906. In 1893, just two years after the Liberals came to power the Native Department was dismantled, with the Justice Department forced to take over the majority of its work. However, as this thesis argues, such attempts to administer Native affairs without a single, focussed agency failed. Accordingly the department was re-established in 1906. This thesis begins by discussing how the newly-elected Liberal Government set about abolishing the Native Department in 1893, and describes the transfer of the department's functions to a range of other state agencies. The dismantling of the department was seen as the logical result of several decades of attempts made by other Ministries to wind down the department. However, the decision to abolish the Native Department was taken by the Liberals against a background of sharply divided opinion, among both Māori and Europeans, as to the appropriateness of the measure. For a period of thirteen years Maori were denied the right of a specialist Government agency working in their interests. The thesis describes how other agencies managed Native affairs, and especially points to the problems that arose following the fragmenting of Native affairs administration. This was especially evident after James Carroll became Native Minister in 1899. Soon after his appointment, a Māori Land Administration Department was established, whose purpose was to service in a limited way the new Māori land administration councils. However, in the context of increasing activity in the area of land administration, and in the light of the perceived failure of the councils, and of the Māori Land Administration Department, the Department of Native Affairs was re-established in 1906. This thesis discusses the context for this re-establishment of the agency so determinedly abolished in 1893, and draws some broad conclusions concerning Liberal Māori policy, especially land policy during the period.