Maori Land Boards
Despite these innovations, to which had been added certain increased powers vested in the Native (Maori) Trustee, it was still impossible in 1925 to offer Maori land as a mortgage security until the title was complete and unencumbered. And the percentage of Maori land that fulfilled these conditions was negligible. Gradually, however, measures were taken to overcome this difficulty. In 1900 the Maori Land Administration Act brought District Councils into being. Comprised in part of elected Maori members, these Councils later became known as Maori Land Boards and had the prime responsibility of arranging leases of land vested in them by Maori owners in the various districts into which the country had been divided. In 1926, when Parliament recognised the urgent need to promote settlement, it granted permission to Maori Land Boards to lend moneys for development, while allowing the titles to the lands given as security to be adjusted later. But it was not until 1929 that Parliament finally addressed itself to the growing problem of Maori land use and, having done so, it gave authority to the Native Minister to develop and settle idle Maori land with funds provided by the Minister of Finance. Such areas as were to be developed in any given locality were brought under a specifically named scheme and owners, on agreeing to the plan of work, were then prohibited from interfering with it and from alienating any of the land involved.
Efforts in various directions were coordinated: in the field, there was the breaking in of virgin country and, in some instances, the reorganisation of haphazard practices where there had already been some agriculture. On the administrative side the consolidation of titles received systematic attention. Supervision was another critical aspect of the development, and often local Maoris, whose tribal prestige had already fitted them for leadership, acted in a liaison capacity between the settlers and the European agricultural supervisors. Later, training farms, now discontinued, were established on a small scale.
In the 34 years during which land settlement has been the responsibility of the Department of Maori Affairs, 455,230 acres have been grassed at an annual average of 14,400 acres, and some 2,200 farms have been thereby established. Development has varied from 22,100 acres in 1940 to 5,700 acres in 1945, 8,100 in 1961–62, and 10,064 in 1963–64.