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Mai rangiriri ki Pōkaewhenua: The confiscation of Pōkaewhenua in the national interest - 1961-1969

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posted on 2021-11-14, 06:04 authored by Payne, Dione Lee Marama

The title of this thesis, Mai Rangiriri ki Pōkaewhenua, refers to the battle of Rangiriri as the point of reference that marks the first confiscation of Waikato land. It was at Rangiriri that Waikato Māori took up arms to defend their land against the invading army and in doing so, by Crown law, forfeited their customary ownership over their land through confiscation. It would be one hundred years later that another confiscation occured at Pōkaewhenua in the 1960s. The confiscation of Māori land is commonly discussed in New Zealand history literature as a practice of the nineteenth-century. However in this thesis I argue the practice of confiscation has endured into the 1960s through facilitated alienations of allegedly unproductive Māori land through lease and sale. This thesis examines the case study of Lot 512 in the Parish of Whangamarino to show how government agencies utilised some common practices of confiscation such as through legislation, economic expansion, settlement, conflict of interests, tenurial revolution and the concept of waste land to confiscate Pōkaewhenua through facilitated alienation in the national interest. Although the practice of alienation was widespread, the sale and lease of Māori land due to an alleged lack of productivity under Part XXV of the Māori Affairs Act 1953 was seldom investigated as part of Treaty settlements. For hapū and whānau, particularly in the Waikato, the re-examination of land alienation may change their land history and the manner in which future Treaty claims are investigated. Contemporarily, the drive for greater productivity of Māori land, as seen in the 2013 Review of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, focuses again on making all Māori land productive in the national interest, with little consideration of the impact on it’s Māori owners. The criteria and rationale for this push for productivity is strongly reminiscent of the practice in the 1960s and 1860s, and suggests any national interest alienations that occur as a result of the 2013 review, may also be confiscation. One significant implication of this thesis for the field of Māori Studies is that the investigation of Lot 512 provides another perspective on confiscation. This thesis expands the definition of confiscation to allow for alienation by sale and lease in the national interest and departs from the limitation of the nineteenth-century. This research also contributes to Māori Studies through the analysis of Part XXV of the Māori Affairs Act 1953. As a wider implication for Māori land, it challenges researchers to look more closely at Māori land sales in the 1950-1960s, the manner in which those sales and leases were undertaken and questions national interest arguments for alienating further Māori land. This thesis is centred around a Māori world view and approach to research and is tied specifically to Pōkaewhenua – Lot 512 in the Parish of Whangamarino, but has implications for thinking about the way Indigenous rights are made subservient to colonial interests.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Maori Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970120 Expanding Knowledge in Languages, Communication and Culture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Maori Studies : Te Kawa a Māui


Bargh, Maria; Adds, Peter