The Land Court In Matakaoa


In this thesis I have explored the setting in which the cross-cultural translation of the concept of land principally occurred. By concentrating on one part of the country - the Matakaoa district of the East Coast - I have tried to point up the complexities of action and of interpretation between Maori and Pakeha at the local level. The divergent interests of hapuu in the Matakaoa district during the period considered (1840-1909), as well as the strategies adopted to prevent the alienation of land makes even a local level investigation extremely difficult, therefore the themes which I discuss below from my research are tentative rather than definitive.

The first theme is the Queen’s relationship to the Maori people of the East Coast. From the Matakaoa Chiefs’ statements at Kohimaarama, and at Iharaira Te Houkamau’s Wharekahika Hui, the Queen was given collectively by the Chiefs of New Zealand, part of the responsibility both spiritual and physical for guarding, keeping, watching over (tiaki) the balance of the world. To guard against the ‘new’ enemies she appointed missionaries who brought The Word of God to unite or make equivalent the two peoples on the spiritual plane, and the Governor (and those appointed by the Government such as Land Commissioners, Resident Magistrates, and Land Court Judges) who brought the Law to unite or make equivalent, the two peoples on the physical plane. This responsibility only extends to the interaction between Maori and Pakeha, the tahaa Pakeha (Pakeha side), and means that the tahaa Maori (Maori side) remains under the Maori Chiefs’ authority.


The second theme which emerges from the Land Court material is the flexibility of use, occupation, and apparent ownership of land by Maori people prior to the investigation of title by the Land Court. These three aspects appear to have been in the Matakaoa district at least in a constant state of flux:

Traditionally tribes would ensure that all portions of tribal territory were visted and used with sufficient frequency to maintain proprietary rights’
(Munn 1981:17).

Waaka (1982) also indirectly infers that in Whakarewarewa the people occupied the land intermittently. This suggests that my findings in relation to the Matakaoa district may be more widely applicable.

From the evidence given by claimants in the Court it also appears that the concepts of land use and ownership are extended to the sea. So that raahui (reserves) are set up over both land and sea, maara of mussels and kuumara are similarly the special concerns of family groups, and bush land and fishing grounds were similarly jointly-owned and jointly utilised (probably not at the same time although this would depend on the links - kin ties - between the several groups) by larger (tribal?) groups - several hapuu.

The third theme which emerges from the evidence given in the Land Court is the existence of two lines of descent - mana whenua (power over land) and mana tangata (power over people). Broughton (1979) suggests a similar differentiation between the people of the land, and those that arrived on the AOTEA canoe. He also suggests that the genealogies that linked these two lines were especially constructed for the Maori Land Court (ibid:121). The Matakaoa material suggests that titles to land were awarded in the first Land Court sessions to mana tangata groups when the criterion used by the Judges was conquest - ‘ringakaha’. The later Land [194] Court sessions (1908) awarded titles of land ownership principally on the criterion of occupation; in these sessions therefore, the judgments favour the mana whenua lines.



Ariki     - high Chief
Aruhe     - fern root
Haka     - war chant, with actions
Haakari     - feast
Hapuu     - sub-tribe
Hara     - sin, offence
Hui     - gathering, meeting
Iwi     - tribe
Iwi kee     - foreigner
Kai     - food
Kaitiaki     - guardian
Kaakaa     - native parrot
Kahiti     - Gazette, Maori language version of the New Zealand Gazette
Karaka     - a tree with edible berries - Corynocarpus laevigata
Karere     - messenger
Kaumatua     - elder
Kaupapa     - main body of the speech
Kawana     - Governor
Kawanatanga     - Governorship, Government
Kiekie     - a climbing plant with edible fruit, used for special kits - Freycinetia banksii
Kina     - sea egg
Kino     - bad, wrongdoing
Koha     - gift
Kuia     - old lady
Kuumara     - sweet potato
Kuupapa     - neutral, lying flat
Maara     - cultivation
Mana     - spiritual power, authority
Mana tangata     - authority over people
Mana whenua     - authority over land
Marae     - ceremonial meeting-place
Mate    - downfall, sickness, death
Matua     - elder
Mauri     - life-force
Mokopuna     - grandchild
Niu Tireni     - New Zealand
Nui     - big
Ope     - group, party of people
Ora     - life, well-being
Paa     - fortified site
Pakeha     - European
Paanui     - advertisement, public notification
Papatipu     - lit. ‘growing earth’; ancestral rights to land
Paaua     - shellfish, haliotis
Pouherenga     - fastening post
Puukoorero     - mouth piece of knowledge
Puupuu     - shellfish, cats-eye
Raahui     - Reserve
Rangatira     - Chief
Raruraru     - troubled, busy
Ruunanga     - council
Take     - interest, cause
Tamariki     - child
Tangata whenua     - hosts
Tapu     - sacred restriction, sacred
Tauparapara     - formal opening of a speech
Taawhara     - edible bracts surrounding the kiekie fruit
Tiaki     - guard, watch over
Tika     - correct, proper or natural order
Toetoe     - sedge used traditionally to insulate houses - Arunda kakao
Tutu     - a shrub, Cororia arborea, which bears berries from which the juice is prepared for drinking
Waiata     - chant, song
Whaikoorero     - oration, speech
Whakamutunga     - formal closing of a speech
Whakapapa     - genealogy
Whakatauki     - proverbial saying
Whenua here     - permanent land
Whenua tuuturu     - permanent land


Primary Sources


Official Records

Cook County Council Records (held in Gisborne)

       1. Inwards letters 1877-1887

       2. Letter Books I and II 1877-1890 (GMA)

Lands and Survey District Office Gisborne

       1. Original Survey Maps - ML (Maori Land)

       2. Surveyor’s Field Notebooks

Maori Land Court

       1. Gisborne Minute Books 1-2 (microfilm AU)

       2. Waiapu Minute Books 1-43 (microfilm AU and National Archives)

McLean, D. qMS Official Papers MS32 Letter Books Outwards (ATL)

Munro, Judge Notes on Proceedings of the Poverty Bay Commission, 1869 (AIL)

Old Land Claims File (National Archives)

Waiapu County Council Minute Books 1890-1905 (held at Te Puia Springs)

Unofficial Records

1. Journals and Diaries:

Baker, C. Notes for Journal 1853-7 MS22 (AIL)

Fedarb, J. Diary 1839-52 (APL)

McLean, D. Diary and Notes Octavo Sequence qMS Papers MS32 1865-6 (ATL)

Mair, Judge W. Diary and Papers MS-A31 (AU)

Porter, Captain T. Diary 1869 (GMA)

Taylor, R. Diary and Journal 1838 typescript (AIL)

Williams, J. Journal 1840 (AIL)

Williams, W. Journal 1834-49 typescript (AIL)

2. Letters and Reports:

Church Missionary Society Letter Book, Inwards, London 1820-41 (held in Auckland Anglican Diocese Archives)

Reports from missionaries CN/M Volumes 15 and 16 (microfilm AU)

Smith, T.H. Papers MS283 Inwards Letters 1859-82 (AIL)

Selwyn, G.A. Papers MS273 typescript (AIL)

3. Manuscripts:

The Treaty of Waitangi: an Explanation by A. Ngata - MS Papers 307 typescript Maori Purposes Fund Board (ATL)


1. Official Publications

Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives

British Parliamentary Papers

Hawkes Bay Provincial Council Proceedings

Te Kahiti o Niu Tireni

New Ulster Gazette

New Zealand Gazette

New Zealand Statutes

Sessional Papers

Votes and Proceedings

2. Newspapers

The Gisborne Times

Te Karere o Niu Tireni

He Kupu Whakamarama

Te Manuhiri Tuarangi

Te Pipiwharauroa

Te Waka Maori

Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri

Te Wananga

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A Brief Narrative of a New Zealand Chief, being The Remarkable History of Barnet Burns An English Sailor 1844 (in Life in Early Poverty Bay, Gisborne 1927).

Address to His Countrymen 10th October, 1832 by Busby, J. (AIL)

Address to the Tai Rawhiti Association, 1932 by Sir A.T. Ngata (AIL)

Comments on Sir William Martin’s booklet ‘The Taranaki Question and the Treaty of Waitangi’ by Busby, J. 1860 (AIL)

Correspondence between the Wesleyan Missionary Committee and Earl Grey 1848 (AIL)

Mr Seddon’s Trip to the Native Districts of the North Island of N.Z. 1894

Native Meetings at Wellington, 1896: Speech delivered by the Hon. Mr Carroll

Official Correspondence (collected items) by Turton 1883 (AU)

Pamphlet in answer to Mr James Busby on the Taranaki Question and the Treaty of Waitangi 1861 by Clarke, G. (AIL)

The Taranaki Question by Sir William Martin 1860 (AIL)

The Treaty of Waitangi facsimile (AIL)

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Coleman, P. 1947 Native Land Acts and Hawkes Bay. M.A. (VU)

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McRae, J. 1981 Participation: Native Committees (1883) and Papatupu Block

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McKinney, J.B. 1939

Mahuika, A. 1973 Nga wahine kai-hautu o Ngati Porou - the female leaders of Ngati Porou. M.A. (AU)

Mahuta, R. 1973 Whaikoorero, a Study of formal Maori Speech. M.A. (AU)

Munn, D. 1981 Ngati Manu: An Ethnohistorical Account M.A. (AU)

Parsonson, A. 1978 He whenua te utu (The payment will be land). Ph.D. (CU)

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Waaka, P. 1982 Whakarewarewa: The Growth of a Maori Village M.A. (AU)

Ward, A.D. 1958 The History of the East Coast Maori Trust. M.A. (AU)

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1983 Gail H. Dallimore

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