Richard S Hill

State Authority / Indigenous Autonomy: Crown-Maori Relationships in New Zealand/Aotearoa 1900-1950

ISBN: 9780864734778

This book provides an urgently needed overview of Maori quests for rangatiratanga/autonomy in the first half of the 20th century, and the Crown’s responses to them.

Historians of the relationship between the New Zealand state and the indigenous Maori have focused on the nineteenth century, the period of colonisation, displacement and war. Little work has been done systematically or analytically on the twentieth century. State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy provides an interpretation of Crown-Maori relations in the first half of last century (and will be followed by a volume covering the period since 1950). It depicts a complex series of interactions, engagements and manoeuvrings between Maori institutions and the Crown. The book sees the primary political aspiration of Maori people, grouped in a variety of collectivities (tribal, sub-tribal, pan-tribal and non-tribal), as being the quest for Crown recognition of the rangatiratanga/autonomy promised them in Article Two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. It interprets the primary policy aim of the Crown as being that of the assimilation of Maori to western ways of behaving, organising and thinking. By examining the state’s various responses to Maori collective aspirations and exercise of agency, it explores many Crown measures of containment, including attempts to make use of (as well as defuse or deflect) Maori organisational and cultural energies.

Whatever the specific types of autonomy desired by the various Maori movements, however, these seemed particularly far away at mid-century. Even ‘equality’ had not yet arrived. To take one example, it was not accidental that almost all police were pakeha. Maori were not considered to have a responsible enough ‘temperament’ to do such an important job. The state believed (in the words of a senior sergeant in 1950) that the ‘average European would strongly resent being corrected or reprimanded by a Maori’. One thing that all involved in the interface between the two peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand could agree on was that the way ahead in ‘race’ and Crown–Maori relations would be far from unproblematic and untroubled. This was no small matter in what was officially and popularly considered to be one of the most tranquil societies in the world – perhaps the most peaceful of all. From the conclusion.

Praise for State Authority / Indigenous Autonomy

Hill’s work is a difficult yet ultimately rewarding read. Although the author insists that the book ‘strives to be objective’ and dispassionate, its unsentimental and occasionally brutal dissection of early 20th century Crown and Maori relations in New Zealand raises some awkward questions for the future. One can only look forward with a great anticipation to the planned successor volume to the present work, intended to cover the second half of the 20th century. One senses that this will be no less disconcerting for many readers. Yet if it as thoughtful, provocative and challenging as State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy, it will be well worth the wait.

Richard Hill's State Authority / Indigenous Autonomy makes an important contribution to a period of Maori history that has, as yet, rarely come under academic scrutiny.
Angela Wanhalla, University of Otago CANADIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY

Richard S. Hill is an Associate Professor at the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, where he directs the Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit. He is an historian who has specialised in subjects relating to policing and social control, holds degrees (including Doctor of Letters) from Canterbury University, and is a member of Clare Hall and Churchill College at Cambridge University. He has also drawn on his experiences of working in the resolution of historical Treaty of Waitangi grievances from 1989, the year the Crown took new policy directions.

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