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 supported the compulsory purchase of ‘uneconomic shares’ (small shares in an area of land). While these changes had a practical intention, to help Māori land 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 a ‘fiscal envelope’. This placed a cap of $1 billion on historical settlements of claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. Māori protested at 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. The $1 billion 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 when Ngāti Apa 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. Before Ngāti Apa could have their day in court, the Labour government moved to overturn the Court of Appeal decision by statute. This led to a foreshore and seabed protest hīkoi in 2004.
Subsequently, Pita Sharples (Ngāti Kahungunu) and former Labour MP Tariana Turia (Ngāti Apa, Ngā Rauru, Tūwharetoa) formed the Māori Party (Te Pāti Māori), which contested the 2005 election on a platform which included 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 The law was eventually repealed by the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.