Title 6:

[Cover photograph: Luke King / Cover image: fern sculpture by Virginia King]

Native and Māori Land Legislation
in the Superior Courts, 1840-1980

by Grant Young, Tom Bennion and Michael Belgrave

Edited by Graeme MacRae and Jennifer Lawn

Social and Cultural Studies 6
(November 2005)
ISSN: 1175-7132


While Maori appeals to the Treaty of Waitangi since 1840 have been increasingly appreciated in recent decades, the extent of Maori participation in the legal system in the past has received only limited attention. Not only were Maori grievances articulated in both judicial and political environments, through legal proceedings in the superior courts and petitions to parliament, Maori landowners took action to protect their property rights and maintain their customary interests. This monograph is based on a study of 610 reported decisions of the superior courts which dealt with Maori land and the legislative framework which administered Maori land from 1840 to 1980. This surprisingly high number of cases demonstrate, particularly from the 1870s, Maori engagement with constitutional processes. Maori acted to pursue their interests to the greatest extent possible within the institutions of the emerging colonial state despite the political, legal and financial constraints it imposed.

Keywords: Native Land Court, Maori Land Court, customary law, native title, legislation, colonisation.

Notes on Contributors:

Prof Michael Belgrave teaches History and Social Policy in the School of Social and Cultural Studies, Massey Albany.

Tom Bennion is a Wellington-based Barrister and Solicitor, specialising in the fields of Māori land law and Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Dr Grant Young is a researcher into Māori land titles, specialising in Treaty of Waitangi claims. He is based in the School of Social and Cultural Studies, Massey Albany.

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