Government and Māori
Te Arawa have had a close relationship with the government for many decades.
- Ngāti Whakaue made land at Rotorua available for a government town in 1881.
- Through the 20th century Te Arawa welcomed many high-ranking visitors to New Zealand on behalf of Māoridom.
- In 1922 Te Arawa conceded that the Crown owned the beds of the Rotorua lakes, in exchange for recognition of some fishing rights and wāhi tapu (sacred sites), compensation, and the establishment of a Trust Board.
- Volunteers from Te Arawa made up much of B Company of 28 (Maori) Battalion within 2 New Zealand Division during the Second World War.
- In 2006 the Crown returned ownership of the beds of the Rotorua lakes to the Te Arawa tribal confederation.
Ngāti Tūwharetoa held on to much of its land and has had a more even relationship with the Crown than many tribes.
- In 1887 the paramount chief Horonuku Te Heuheu gifted the summits of Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu to the Crown for a national park.
- In 1926 Ngāti Tūwharetoa, led by Hoani Te Heuheu, accepted Crown ownership of the Taupō lake bed in exchange for compensation and the establishment of a trust board. Unlike Te Arawa’s compensation, the payments were proportional to government revenue from fishing licences.
- In 1992 the title to the Taupō lake bed was returned to Tūwharetoa, and a new regime was set up for managing the lake’s fisheries and its tributary rivers.
Central and local government
For a long time central government had more influence over the Volcanic Plateau than local government.
Between the 1880s and the 1950s, the central government promoted the spa at Rotorua, introduced trout into lakes and rivers, built roads, ran schemes for electricity generation, land development and forestry, and set up new towns at Mangakino and Tūrangi.
County (rural) government was permanently set up in Rotorua in 1911, and first set up in Taupō in 1922.
For God, king and country
Haane Manahi of Te Arawa was recommended for a Victoria Cross for his bravery in the battle of Takrouna, in North Africa in 1943 – but instead received the Distinguished Conduct Medal. In 1949 King George VI decided that no further awards would be made for service in the Second World War. Only in 2007 was the tribe reconciled to this, when Prince Andrew presented them with an altar cloth for St Faith’s church, a letter from the Queen recognising Manahi’s bravery, and a sword. The three gifts respectively acknowledged God, king and country – as in the famous marching song of 28 (Maori) Battalion.
An elected town council was set up in Rotorua in 1923. A town board was established in Taupō in 1946.
Change in the later 20th century
During the period of rapid growth after the Second World War, many government departments established regional offices in Rotorua for the Volcanic Plateau and Bay of Plenty.
In the 1980s and 1990s the government sold many of its farms, forests and power stations in the region.
The Rotorua town and county councils united in 1979, as did Taupō’s councils in 1989. Since 1989 the Rotorua lakes area has been covered by the Bay of Plenty regional council. The Reporoa district and Taupō are served by the Waikato regional council.
Rotorua has had its own seat in Parliament since 1919, and Taupō since 1963. For voters on the Māori roll, the region was part of the Eastern Māori electorate until 1993. Since then, it has been part of the Waiariki electorate, which also includes coastal Bay of Plenty.
Waiariki Institute of Technology (now Toi-Ohomai), set up in 1977, has its main campus in Rotorua and others in Taupō, Tokoroa, Tauanga and Whakatāne. Rotorua High School was established in 1927 and benefited from a Ngāti Whakaue endowment. Separate boys’ and girls’ high schools, and Western Heights high school, were established in 1958. Other Rotorua high schools are Rotorua Lakes and John Paul College. Schools that teach in te reo Māori include Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutū and Te Kura o Hīrangi. Reporoa, Taupō Nui-a-Tia, Tauhara and Tongariro are the region’s other high schools.
Until the district health boards were replaced by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand and Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority in 2022, the Lakes District Health Board ran public hospitals at Rotorua and Taupō, and funded other health services, including Māori providers. The land for Rotorua Hospital was gifted by Ngāti Whakaue in 1881.