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Dates marking post colonial Māori history

The Native Schools Act 1858 was passed. This act provided subsidies for Māori education in the missionary schools.

Early mission schools taught in the Māori language, but after 1847 were required to teach in English in order to benefit from state subsidies. The Native Schools Act was only effective for seven years, as the New Zealand Wars forced the closing of schools in 1865. This brought with it the abandonment of the mission schools.

In early New Zealand, Māori was the dominant language. Early settlers and missionaries needed to speak Māori in order to live, trade and work. After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, and as more and more settlers arrived, it gradually became no longer necessary for Europeans to learn Māori. The situation changed, it was now the Māori who needed to learn English.


The Native Schools Act 1867. Under this extension of the 1858 Act, the government offered state village schools to Māori communities who so wished. In return, if the Māori community provided a suitable site, they would receive a school, teacher, and books.

The use of the Māori language in schools was actively discouraged, in order to encourage assimilation by the Māori into European culture as rapidly as possible. At first many Māori welcomed the fact that schools were being taught in English. Children speaking Māori in the home and English at school, quickly became bilingual.

By 1896 the Māori population had declined to approximately 42.000, and it was confidently assumed that the Māori race would assimilate into the European culture, and simply disappear. As a result, by 1960, only 26% of Māori spoke Māori as their first language. Thanks to the campaigning efforts of Sir Apirana Ngata, the Māori language became a University subject in 1951.

Later, the third Labour Government established teacher-training schemes for native Māori speakers.


From 1976, courses in Māori language were included in the curriculum of 5 Universities and 8 training school colleges.

In 1981 the first "kohanga reo" (language nest) pre-school Māori language immersion programme was established, led by Māori women. The aim was to make every Māori child bilingual by the age of 5 years old.

By 1994 there were 809 "kohanga reo" schools established. In 1985 the Waitangi Tribunal declared the Māori language to be a "taonga" (treasure), to be protected under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi.

In 1987 the Māori Language Act declared Māori as an official language of New Zealand. The Māori Language Commission was also established, having for responsibility to promote Māori as a living language.

The Broadcasting Act 1989 declared promoting Māori language and culture to be a function of the Broadcasting Commission.

Radio and Television stations have been established, by Māori, for Māori, and in the Māori language. Each year, a National Māori Language Week takes place.


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1900 The Māori Councils Act, creating public health programs. Three Māori leaders were prominent in bringing about improvements in the Māori health area : Apirana Ngata (organising secretary of the Māori Councils), Maui Pomare, a doctor who became the first Māori Health Officer in 1900, and Peter Buck (Te Rangihiroa), also a doctor, who became assistant to Maui Pomare. These three Māori leaders brought about significant improvements in Māori health and life. All three became knighted.

They were educated at Te Aute College.

The Reverend Samuel Williams established Te Aute College in 1854, opening with 12 pupils. Samuel Williams was a missionary's son, and was only 18 months old when his family emigrated to New Zealand, in 1823.

Te Aute College was a church boarding school for Māori. Later, students from Te Aute College, of whom Peter Buck, Maui Pomare and Apirana Ngata formed the Young Māori Party in 1902. The aims of the Young Māori Party were to seek co-operation and assimilation with the "pakeha" (European).


1907 Tohunga Suppression Act - at the instigation of Maui Pomare. Pomare also helped establish two Royal Commissions dealing with Māori land grievances.
1920 Peter Buck (Te Rangihiroa) nominated first Director of Māori Hygiene. Many reforms in the area of Māori health achieved.
1928 Apirana Ngata becomes Native Minister. Legislation passed to assist Māori farming.
1928 The national school syllabus becomes the same for both Māori and non-Māori children.
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1929 State credit provided for Māori farmers.
1935 The Native Housing Act passed. Funded by the Labour Government in 1937.
1935 The Labour Government increases spending on education. Secondary education becomes free for all. The school leaving age is raised to 15 years.
1938 The Social Security Act relieves the burden of those in difficulty. Family benefit assistance added shortly afterwards. Health Services improved.
1951 The Māori Womens' Welfare League is formed, aiming at involving local communities in welfare. The problem of adequate housing for Māori begins to be treated. The construction of homes increases, until by 1951 3.051 homes had been constructed, representing 16% of Māori houses.

The majority of the Māori workforce was unskilled in the 1950s. As a consequence, economic hardship was more acute among the Māori than the European. Only 6% of Māori held qualified positions in the workforce. It was only in the latter part of the 1960s that training programs and hostel accommodation in the cities became instituted on a large-scale basis. At the same time the educational system finally promoted Māori customs, history, and the Māori language in all schools.

Tohunga :

A Māori priest, wizard, a man of knowledge. There are a number of different types of tohunga : tohunga ahurewa, an expert builder; tohunga ahurewa, a priest or religious expert; tohunga whakairo, a wood carver. One image of tohunga is that of a sorcerer, which was a force in Māori religion. Maui Pomare sponsored a Tohunga Suppression Bill in 1907, which became law until it was repealed in 1962.

Source : New Zealand Encyclopedia, 4th Edition - Bateman

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Related Links
Māori Language Commission website


 Please be aware that this website is a personal homepage. It would therefore be wise to cross check information which I have presented here. A list of many official New Zealand history sites may be found within my Links section.