Following the wars of the 1860s, East Coast tribes were threatened with confiscation of their lands by the New Zealand government. To avoid this threat Māori leaders negotiated the surrender of some lands to the Crown, and they agreed to a Native Land Court investigation of titles in the area. In 1869 the Poverty Bay Commission began granting title to land in the area, excluding those who had fought against the Crown after 1863. Some tribes of Tūranganui-a-Kiwa suffered more than others in this exercise. In the 1870s the Repudiation movement, which opposed further sale of Māori land, spread to Poverty Bay.
In 1880 a joint Māori and European-managed land organisation, the East Coast Native Land Settlement Company, was set up to lease Māori land in the interests of its owners. Although the company failed, its land holdings were put in trust under the East Coast Native Trust Lands Act 1902. The idea of administering Māori lands in trust influenced later initiatives. In the 20th century, people of Tūranganui-a-Kiwa participated in the land development schemes of Āpirana Ngata, the member of Parliament for Eastern Māori from 1905 to 1943. Several large incorporations were established to bring large areas of Māori land under tribal control so that it could be effectively farmed.
Tūranganui-a-Kiwa tribes were represented in the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, which brought together Māori troops to fight in the First World War. They again provided men for the 28th New Zealand (Māori) Battalion in the Second World War. Kīngi Āreta Keiha of the Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti tribes commanded the battalion for a time in 1943. Patriotic activities during the wars, and the rehabilitation of servicemen afterwards, gained considerable local support, often under the leadership of women such as Hēni Materoa Carroll and Lena Matewai Ruru. Initiatives such as the Māori Women’s Welfare League, established after the Second World War, also had a strong following among Tūranganui-a-Kiwa tribes.
Te Rūnanga o Tūranganui a Kiwa
In 1986 Te Rūnanga o Tūranganui a Kiwa was established to represent the interests of Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki. It is involved in social, education and health services, the organisation of sporting events and coaching, and land and asset development. The organisation also runs a radio station, providing Māori news and views in the Māori language. In association with the Gisborne Herald, it publishes its own monthly newspaper, Pipiwharauroa.
Rongowhakaata’s treaty settlement, dated 30 September 2011, was valued at about $22 million. Ngā Uri o Te Kooti Rikirangi are a whānau group of Rongowhakaata. The Treaty settlement included several measures, including payments totalling $450,000, to acknowledge Crown breaches of the Treaty in relation to its treatment of Te Kooti Rikirangi and his descendants.
Ngāi Tāmanuhiri settled it historic treaty claims on 5 March 2011, for a financial value of $11 million plus interests in Crown assets including the Wharerata Forest. Young Nick’s Head Historic Reserve was vested in Ngai Tāmanuhiri as a national historic reserve, and its name changed to Te Kuri a Paoa/Young Nick’s Head. A further $180,000 was paid towards cultural revitalisation of the iwi, and $100,000 for a memorial to members of Ngai Tāmanuhiri, Rongowhakaata and Te Whakarau (former prisoners of the Crown and followers of Te Kooti) who lost their lives due to past actions of the Crown.