Government legislation and proposals have often been a source of protest.
Māori protest in the later 20th century crystallised around the Hunn Report, released in 1961, which advocated placing Māori land under European land title where possible. Additionally, it pushed for the compulsory purchase of ‘uneconomic shares’ (small shares in an area of land). While these changes had a practical intention, to try and help Māori land to be utilised more effectively, they ignored Māori wishes to retain links to tribal land, and were actively opposed. Protests against this report saw the emergence of the refrain ‘Not one more acre’.
In 1995 the government announced what it described as the ‘fiscal envelope’. This placed a cap of $1 billion on historical settlements of claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. Māori protested against a series of consultation hui in 1995. In reaction to Te Puni Kōkiri head Wira Gardiner’s comment that Māori should not ‘shoot the messenger’, a group protested outside Te Puni Kōkiri’s offices in a ‘shoot the messenger’ protest. The figure was seen as entirely arbitrary. In the end the fiscal envelope was not implemented.
Foreshore and seabed
For many years there was a legal argument that New Zealand courts had incorrectly interpreted Māori rights to the seabed and foreshore. This was tested by Ngāti Apa when they took a case arguing that Māori could have customary rights to both. Ultimately the Court of Appeal ruled that the Māori Land Court was able to decide on these rights, but before they could have their day in court, the government of the day sought to overturn the Court of Appeal decision by statute. This led to a foreshore and seabed protest hīkoi (march) in 2004.
As a result, Pita Sharples and former Labour MP Tariana Turia formed the Māori Party, which contested the election on a platform of repealing the legislation that had overturned the court’s decision. The law was eventually repealed by the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.