By Boast, Richard
This book is a study of Crown Maori land policy and practice in the period 1869-1929, from the establishment of the Native Land Court power until the cessation by Gordon Coates of large-scale Crown purchasing. In the intervening period virtually the main function of the Native De...partment was to purchase Maori land, and, to the extent that the New Zealand state had a Maori policy, the focus was on acquisition of Maori land in the interests of closer settlement. Locked into complex legal structures which prevented them from turning their assets into capital and thus increasing their value, many Maori took the only realistic option available, and sold. The story the book tells is in many ways a bleak and grim one of a tidal wave of Crown purchasing crashing over a people who were in very difficult circumstances. Yet it is important to recognise that government purchasing of Maori land was in its own way driven by genuine, if blinkered, idealism. This book is also something of a reaction to the the-Crown-has-been-very-naughty school of New Zealand history. Much of the book is devoted to an examination of government purchasing policy. Many of the most idealistic and impressive politicians that New Zealand has produced, including Sir Donald McLean, John Ballance, and John McKenzie were strong advocates of expanded and state-controlled land purchasing. It is as important to understand their motives as it is to attempt to gauge the social and economic effects of purchasing on the Maori people.Read more
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Richard Boast is an associate professor of law at Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including A New Zealand Legal History and Foreshore and Seabed.
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