Geoff Parker

A recent letter to a Northland newspaper protested that land acquired for Maori schools had not been returned to iwi when these facilities were closed. Similarly, there’s yet another Maori occupation of private land in the region, claiming it should be returned because it had once been a school property. Unfortunately, these claims lack both context and fact, which is something this article aims to rectify.

The Native Schools Act 1870 did require local iwi to provide land to the Education Department so their children could attend a local school. For a very brief period, it also required iwi to pay half the cost of the necessary building plus make a contribution for staff and junior assistants, however this requirement was necessarily removed in 1871. (1) 

In the 19th century, some iwi did transfer land for schools, as well as hospitals, police stations, parks and even towns, but this was not always a gift as we know it. Frequently the government purchased land, setting aside portions for the development of these amenities.

From the day of such property transfers, the government picked up the tab, surveying the land, constructing the buildings and infrastructure to support them. This included roads, sewage, electricity, drainage and fencing. Since then, government and council taxpayers have paid rates, insurance, and maintenance on the amenities and surrounding infrastructure, with an obligation to do so for the duration. So, over time, successive governments have well and truly paid for any such ‘gifts’, and Maori have greatly benefited from the facilities built on them.

The Question of Compensation

A law firm, Tompkins Wake, recently wrote that land “gifted” by Maori for schools and the like is administered by the country’s Public Works Act. The same law and process is meant to apply equally to any landowners of any ethnicity, and is enacted whenever land is needed for a specific public good. It allows the land to be compulsorily acquired with compensation paid at the current market value.

When such land is no longer required for the purposes it was acquired for or is surplus to requirements, it is then offered back to the owner/s or their immediate successors (not distant descendants) at the current market value. (2) If the offer is declined, the land can then be sold on the open market.

However, Tompkins Wake claim that ‘gifted’ Maori land is always offered back at a discounted value (3), but as in the example of the ‘native’ school at Ngararatunua, the previous owners or successors cannot always afford the improved value.

Activists claim that such situations breach the Treaty of Waitangi. They bunch ‘gifts’, Public Works’ purchases and historic Crown confiscations (resulting from tribal rebellions) all together, claiming any improved land that was once held by iwi should be transferred back for free.

Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi reads: “…the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes and the other chiefs grant to the Queen, the exclusive rights of purchasing such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as may be agreed upon between them and the person appointed by the Queen to purchase from them”.

So if the historic ‘price’ agreed in the nineteen century was £0, as the land was to be used for the local iwi’s schooling, then no ‘Treaty breach’ could possibly have occurred.

Despite this, past treaty settlements around the country have transferred public land to iwi as ‘compensation’ for historic land losses, whether sold or gifted. Yet neo-opportunists still demand more and more land be “given back”.

Note: There were no land confiscations in Northland at all as Ngapuhi worked very cooperatively with the Crown in calling for British law and order post the 1840 Treaty.

Who Pays for Services and Amenities?

All landowners are required to pay rates to councils for the amenities and services provided, and they can be vulnerable to losing their land for unpaid rates. This has always been the case and continues to this day.

But because much Maori land has multiple owners who frequently fail to reach agreement, their land stays undeveloped. Many Councils have given up trying to collect rates from these properties or their owners, simply wiping the debts and unfairly sharing the council burden over all other landowners. (4 & 5)  This is yet another example of ethnic privilege.

Facts and Myths

We New Zealanders have taken great pride in our democratic foundations, our good race relations, and our blended lives and bloodlines. We have worked, played and loved together, yet the artificial, ancestry-based advantage for those identifying as Maori is now rampant throughout our country and its politics. A small sample of the evidence will include:

  • Maori schools
  • Maori promotion and propaganda in the education curriculum
  • Maori-only education scholarships
  • Maori-only housing projects
  • Maori-only health initiatives and expenditure
  • Maori-only welfare programmes
  • Maori-only prisoner programmes
  • Maori-only employment/consultants in government agencies
  • Maori-only consultation rights under the Resource Management Act and the Fast Track Approvals Bill currently progressing through Parliament
  • Maori-only co-management/control of our precious national parks, rivers, lakes, and coastline
  • Maori-only claims to the country’s harbours, estuaries, foreshore, seabed and territorial waters (and the air above it) with obligatory taxpayer funding of associated legal and research costs.
  • A special Maori Authority tax rate of 17.5%
  • A special Maori-only exemption to allow blood relatives to benefit from a business’s tax-free charitable status
  • Maori language funding
  • Public funding of Maori radio and TV
  • Maori-only seats on local councils
  • Maori-only appointments to powerful local government committees
  • Maori-only regional Statutory Boards
  • Maori-only seats in Parliament
  • A percentage of Government and council suppliers to be Maori-only.
  • A percentage of medical university places reserved for Maori.

Proponents of separatism ignore these though, twisting history and spreading misinformation via sycophantic public media. They have worked endlessly on censoring any facts and deplatforming any brave souls who might try to expose the socially divisive agenda.

Despite many good intentions, none of the examples above have been successful in lifting the attitude, values or capabilities of those regularly cited as being victims of “systemic racism”.  Maybe, just maybe, because race has nothing to do with the actual problem.


1. https://teara.govt.nz/en/maori-education-matauranga/page-3

2. https://www.tompkinswake.com/insights/knowledge/offer-back-under-the-public-works-act/

3. https://www.tompkinswake.com/insights/knowledge/offer-back-under-the-public-works-act/

4. http://breakingviewsnz.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/frank-newman-rating-maori-land.html

5. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/77737140/Mayors-hear-Government-plan-to-wipe-rates-debt-on-unused-Maori-land 

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