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Time Line of events 1850 - 1900

1852 New Zealand Constitution Act passed
The Constitution Act of 1852 set up New Zealand's parliamentary system and suggested some form of temporary local self-government for Māori. Section 71 said that the "laws, customs and usages of the aboriginal or native inhabitants ... should for the present be maintained for the Government of themselves, in all their relations to and dealings with each other ..." This was not put into effect. Also, since the franchise was based on individual property ownership, Māori, who possessed their land communally, were almost entirely excluded from voting. Six provinces were created in 1852 - Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury and Otago - and in 1859 Hawke's Bay and Marlborough were added. Southland was created in 1861, being absorbed by Otago in 1870. Westland was separated from Canterbury in 1873. Each province had its own Superintendent (the equivalent of a Governor) and Provincial Council.
1852 First NZ Parliament excludes Māori
The Constitution Act 1852, which set up New Zealand's parliamentary system, suggested some form of temporary local self-government for Māori. Section 71 provided that "Native districts could be declared wherein the laws, customs and usages of the aboriginal or native inhabitants … should for the present be maintained for the Government of themselves, in all their relations to and dealings with each other…". Grey did not, however, declare any Native Districts, arguing that the "amalgamation of races" was proceeding well, through trade and through the mission schools. In the administration of justice, Grey did provide for the appointment of chiefs as salaried Māori "assessors" and police to assist the Resident Magistrates, and in practice, the joint administration did allow for a measure of practical recognition of Māori values and customs. However, since the right to vote was based on individual property ownership, Māori who possessed their land communally were almost entirely excluded from voting for Parliament. "Amalgamation" with settler society was still believed to be the only future for a race thought otherwise to be doomed. But in many important respects, notably in the national parliament and in the provincial assemblies which were also established at this time, Māori were not included in the new governing institutions. Well aware of the settlers' hunger for land, they became increasingly anxious for their future.
1855 ‘Responsible government’
Now that New Zealand had its own parliamentary system, the British Colonial Office directed Colonel Robert Wynyard, the Acting-Governor, to introduce "responsible government". The settler government would have responsibility for dealing with most aspects of governing New Zealand, apart from dealings with Māori, which was to stay under the Governor's control. In the main, the Governor's residual powers were handed over in a piecemeal manner during the 1850s and 1860s, in particular when the conduct of the New Zealand Wars - and paying for them - was transferred to the colonial government in 1864-65.
1858 First Māori King
In the year that the Pākehā population exceeded that of Māori in New Zealand, the first Māori king was chosen. A decade previously, this concept had been suggested, then in 1854, Ngāti Ruanui hosted the first of many joint talks among North Island Māori to halt the advance of Pākehā settlement and stem the decay perceived in traditional Māori society. Now a unified Māori response was believed possible in the movement, soon to be called Kingitanga. The aged but very highranking Waikato chief Te Wherowhero (who had not signed the Treaty) became the first king, taking the name Potatau. Around him grew the Kingite movement, supported by Māori from Hauraki to Horowhenua. The Kingitanga was not universally welcomed among Māori, though, with many chiefs refusing to put their mana under that of someone else. The northern tribes of Tai Tokerau had no involvement because they were strongly associated with the Treaty, which was viewed by some as being in opposition to the King movement. They and others reacted against the strongly Tainui tribal connections of the Kingitanga's leadership. It should be noted that the Kingitanga regarded the Queen as complementary to the Māori king, not as a competitor, but the colonial government took a different view. Under the second king, Tawhiao (who ruled for 34 years from 1860), the movement gave strong direction and cohesion in many of the armed campaigns that followed.
1860 War in Taranaki
Warfare directly linked to land issues broke out in Taranaki in March 1860. The Government, wishing to show its freedom to act, insisted on dealing with a minor chief over a small block at Waitara against the direct opposition of a senior chief, Wiremu Kingi, and most of the local people who were actually living on the block. Those Māori who resisted the alienation of their land were immediately branded as being in rebellion against the authority of the Crown, in defiance of Article 1 of the Treaty, which provided for the Queen's sovereignty. The New Plymouth military commander sent troops to enforce the purchase, and a land dispute became open warfare lasting a year. Many Māori came to Taranaki to fight alongside Wiremu Kingi in defence of his land, and many others throughout the country were sympathetic to his stand.
1860 Kohimārama Covenant
Governor Thomas Gore Browne (Governor 1855-1861) convened the first of many large meetings on the Treaty, partly in an attempt to draw attention away from the King movement and the fighting. It should also be noted that the idea of the Treaty as a holy covenant between Māori and the Crown had been present since 1840, when the missionaries appear to have used the term to encourage Māori chiefs to sign. The term was further developed at the Kohimārama meeting, in Auckland. Over four weeks at Kohimārama, a wide range of Māori from outside those groups fighting the Government discussed the Treaty and their concerns over land. The Kohimārama Covenant proposed a Native Council and other ideas, some of which were embodied in the first Native Land Act two years later. The Native Council, however, was never set up. The Government continued to face unremitting political pressure to provide land for waves of new migrants.
1861 Gold discovered
In May 1861 Tasmanian geologist Gabriel Read discovered gold in Gabriel's Gully, just outside present-day Lawrence. This was not the first time such claims had been made – an earlier announcement had been delayed for fear it would bring rough miners to the town. Within a fortnight of confirmation of the discovery there were 500 men prospecting in Gabriel's Gully, a number that quadrupled in the following two weeks.
1862 First telegraph
New Zealand's first telegraph line linked Christchurch and the harbour town of Lyttelton. It was symbolic of a colonial preoccupation with modern innovations - others of note being steamships and railways. In the North Island, during the New Zealand Wars, telegraph lines were often first installed for military communications. A high rate of investment in infrastructure continued throughout the late nineteenth century.
1862 Māori Affairs shifts to government
George Grey was appointed to New Zealand for a second term as governor, commencing in late 1861. Up to this point, 'Native Affairs' had been the responsibility of the Governor because of concerns in England that the elected settler governments would inevitably put their interests ahead of those of Māori. In 1862, however, the British Government instructed Grey to normally accept the advice of his ministers in Native Affairs. However, as commander-in-chief of British forces in New Zealand, he retained a great deal of control, and responsibility for Native Affairs did not fully pass to the New Zealand Government until 1865. In the light of the disastrous Waitara purchase, and as part of its new-found responsibilities, the settler government and Grey together shaped the Native Land Act 1862, which set up the Native Land Court to adjudicate upon competing customary claims to land. It created a court of Māori chiefs, chaired by a Pākehā magistrate. The Act also allowed Māori to deal directly with settlers over land. Because it contravened the Treaty, it had to be approved in London. Given the time this took, and the warfare taking place around the North Island, this Act was hardly ever implemented before it was replaced by the very different 1865 Act.
1863 New Zealand Settlement Act
Parliament passed the Suppression of Rebellion Act, which allowed for the introduction of martial law, and the New Zealand Settlements Act which authorised the taking of land from Māori. The intention of the Act was to punish "rebel" Māori by allowing the confiscation of their lands. However, the Act's title disguised this by portraying it as a measure to assist European settlement, particularly by placing military settlers on lands as a type of buffer between Māori and European settlements. Māori considered to be in rebellion were not entitled to compensation, and even "loyal" Māori were first offered monetary compensation rather than the return of their land. Later, the law was amended to allow awards of land, including small areas to surrendered "rebels".
1863 – 65 War in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and East Coast
The war dominated this period. Fighting flared up again in Taranaki in May 1863. Further north, in July, Governor Grey ordered Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron to cross the Mangatāwhiri River (the accepted boundary to the Waikato) with his mixed imperial and colonial army. His stated justification for this action was a belief that the Kingitanga was the fount of Māori resistance to British authority and the fear of an attack on Auckland. The Waikato campaign lasted until the Māori defeat at the battle of Ōrākau in April 1864. The fighting then spread immediately to Tauranga, with the Māori victory at Gate Pā and their defeat at Te Ranga, where East Coast Māori, trying to help, were driven off by government forces. Historians have much debated the causes of the wars. Some suggest that the wars can be seen as an attempt by the British to impose "real" as opposed to "nominal" sovereignty over Māori. More specific factors, such as a hunger for land or the desire to impose British administration, law and civilization on Māori, can be seen as aspects of this over-arching cause. Other historians argue that land was the critical factor that lead to the outbreak of war.
1864 Colonial ‘self-reliance’
As the imperial government was losing enthusiasm for paying for the thousands of men fighting in New Zealand, the Weld Ministry pushed a policy of colonial "self-reliance" in dealing with Māori so that the settlers could handle matters as they saw fit. Despite many reservations about this, the point was largely conceded by the imperial authorities, and in a rapid series of steps in 1864-65, the Governor lost the power to control Māori affairs. Grey managed to retain some imperial troops for several years, but after mid-1865, they were restricted to garrison duties.
1864 Land confiscations
The first proclamation confiscating land under the New Zealand Settlements Act was made in December 1864. In all, five districts were proclaimed to be under the Act over the next three years: Taranaki, Waikato, Tauranga, Eastern Bay of Plenty, and Mōhaka-Waikare. The area affected was about 1.5 million acres. A "Compensation Court" (mostly comprising judges of the Native Land Court) was set up to hear claims by "loyal" Māori for monetary compensation or to recover their land.
1865 Native Land Court established
In 1865, the Kingitanga leaders effected a ceasefire in the Waikato and the British Government announced that it would begin to withdraw its forces from New Zealand. In an effort to try to secure peace, successive settler governments passed laws that were intended to give practical effect to some of the promises implied in the Treaty. These included:
1865 Wellington named capital
Wellington was New Zealand's third capital. The first was Okiato in the Bay of Islands. However, Governor Hobson considered it to be too far from the rest of the colony and inappropriately sited, being within the territory of the dominant Ngā Puhi. The next choice was Auckland, with its large harbour, access to the western coast and absence of substantial Māori settlements, and the capital was re-established there by September 1840.
1865 Te Kooti imprisoned without trial
Until 1865, the government tended to treat Māori who were captured in battle as prisoners of war. In 1865, with the rise of the Pai Mārire movement, it also arrested people whom it thought were aiding the "rebels". Te Kooti Rikirangi of Poverty Bay was one of these. He was sent with some 300 others to the Chatham Islands. Te Kooti's pleas for a trial were ignored. On 4 July 1868, Te Kooti and many followers escaped from the Chathams and were pursued on the East Coast and in the Urewera and the Taupō districts. He founded the Ringatū church and provided it with rituals and structures that last to this day. From 1868, the government began to charge particular individuals with crimes such as murder or treason, but Te Kooti escaped the pursuing forces (over some four years) and was eventually pardoned in 1883.
1868 First Māori Members of Parliament
Following the Māori Representation Act 1867, and while Titokowaru and Te Kooti still led violent resistance, the first four Māori members were elected to parliament. Under this statute, adult Māori men were given universal suffrage (voting rights) – 11 years before Pākehā men, who still faced property qualifications. However, there were only four Māori seats, at a time when Māori should have had many more, based on their population. Only in the 1890s did Māori begin to achieve significant influence in parliament, first through James Carroll (member for Eastern Māori and then Gisborne), then through younger activists such as Apirana Ngata, Hone Heke Ngapua, Peter Buck and Maui Pomare. The number of Māori seats remained constant at four until the first MMP election in 1996. Since then, they have increased by one seat per election (reflecting the increasing numbers of voters on the Māori roll).
1868 Titokowaru resists land confiscation
In 1868, Ngāti Ruanui leader Titokowaru led a strong resistance to land confiscation in south Taranaki. His force, persuading and coercing neighbouring tribes to join in, swept south from the Hawera district, inflicting several heavy defeats on the colonial forces and finally threatening Wanganui itself. In November, for some reason now unclear, Titikowaru's army then largely deserted him, literally overnight, and he became a fugitive, hunted back into the inaccessible upper Waitara area. He was later involved in the Parihaka passive resistance movement.
1869 First university
The University of Otago, founded in 1869 by an ordinance of the Otago Provincial Council, is New Zealand's oldest university. The new university was given 100,000 acres of pastoral land as an endowment and was authorised to grant degrees in arts, medicine, law and music. The university opened in July 1871.
1873 Fragmentation of Māori land ownership
The Native Land Act 1873 allowed the Native Land Court to fragment land ownership among Māori. Instead of having 10 names listed as owners and the rest of the tribal group missing out, everyone with an ownership interest was now to be put on the title. Conceived as a way of recognising tribal ownership, it did not individualise land ownership but fragmented it. Individual Māori were not given blocks large enough to support themselves in the way Pākehā farmers could, but instead they received shares in blocks that were then partitioned and repartitioned into uneconomic segments at great time and expense, especially given the cost of surveyers and lawyers. This, and the ordinary costs of living, pressured many into selling their interests. Although intended to slow land selling, purchasers (both Crown and private) resorted to secretive methods, such as paying advances to numerous individuals, sometimes for years, before appearing before the Court and claiming the percentage of the block corresponding to their proportion of the shares. The effect upon Māori was disastrous. This fragmentation has bedevilled Māori land ownership ever since, making it extremely difficult to borrow development funding or utilise much Māori freehold land productively. A Repudiation Movement at this time, driven by a resurgence in rūnanga (council) or tribal management, aimed to repudiate or obtain compensation for bad land deals.
1875 Abolition of the provinces
As rail, road and telegraph links improved, a county-borough system of local government came to be preferred over the provincial system established when communications had been difficult. The provinces were both powerful and autonomous enough to frustrate and obstruct the general government's initiatives in favour of their own local interests. The provinces were abolished by statute on 12 October 1875, although their names live on as regional divisions in various sporting and other national, non-governmental bodies.
1877 Treaty of Waitangi judged ‘legal nullity’
At its lowest point, the Treaty of Waitangi was described by Chief Justice James Prendergast in the Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington case as "worthless", having been signed "between a civilised nation and a group of savages." This extreme view denied that the Treaty had any judicial or constitutional role in government because Māori were not a nation capable of signing a treaty. Since it had not been incorporated into domestic law, it was a "legal nullity". Although many of his conclusions were overturned by the Privy Council by the beginning of the twentieth century, his attitude largely prevailed from the 1870s to the 1970s.
1877 Education made compulsory and free
Until 1877, education had been the responsibility of each respective province, with many schools being run by the Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian or Methodist denominations. But with the abolition of the provincial system of governance, the central government took over the running of schools nationwide. Under the Education Act 1877, schooling was to be free, secular, and compulsory for all children aged between seven and 13, with Māori children given the option of attending state or native schools (established in 1867).
1879 Major meetings on the treaty
A resurgence of big Treaty meetings, at Kohimārama (Orakei) in 1879 and Te Tii, Waitangi in 1881 and at various centres on the east and west coasts, brought the Treaty back into prominence. Over 3000 people attended the Te Tii meeting, at which a monument to the Treaty was dedicated at Te Tii Marae and demands for a Māori parliament were put to the government.
1879 Universal male suffrage
On 14 November 1879, twelve years after Māori men received universal suffrage, legislation was introduced to give the right to vote to every male aged 21 and over, provided they had resided in the colony for twelve months and in their electorate for six months. Property qualifications were reduced but plural voting was continued, allowing a man to vote in each electorate in which he held property. This practice persisted until 'one man, one vote' was implemented in 1889. Moves to give the franchise to women and to increase the number of Māori seats were only narrowly defeated.
1881 First telephones
Telephone exchanges in both Christchurch (30 subscribers) and Wellington (10 subscribers) were opened during 1881, with more opening in other major centres over the next decade. Although telephones were not initially popular – by 1890, there were only 2000 subscribers – by the turn of the century, 7000 telephones had been connected. Toll lines began linking cities in 1906. In 1926, the Cook Strait cable was laid, and all the major centres had been connected by 1930.
1881 Parihaka occupied by force
After two years of tension and Māori non-violent resistance to land alienation in southern Taranaki, the Government occupied the town of Parihaka by force. From 1879, the prophet Te Whiti o Rongomai had encouraged his followers to uproot survey pegs and plough up roads and fences erected on land they still considered to be theirs, thus asserting that they did not recognise the Taranaki confiscation. These "ploughmen" were arrested and detained without trial. As roadmaking advanced up the Waimate plain, often across Māori settlements and cultivations, Māori erected fences across the routes, and more were arrested. Still Te Whiti resisted settlement, so the government sent a large armed force into Parihaka on 5-8 November 1881, commanded by Native Minister John Bryce. Although there was no resistance at all, he read the Riot Act, imprisoned Te Whiti and fellow prophet Tohu and dispersed his followers. At Te Whiti's trial for sedition, even officials had to admit that the 10125 hectares reserved for Māori had never been properly set aside for them to occupy and plant. Te Whiti and Tohu were exiled to the South Island to serve their prison sentences. Parihaka has been a symbol of Māori resistance ever since.
1882 End of the New Zealand Wars
A formal act of peace was made by the King movement in 1882 when King Tawhiao appeared before Resident Magistrate Major William Mair at Alexandra (now Pirongia). His appearance was seen as a conciliatory gesture of reconciliation between Māori and Pākehā.
1882 First refrigerated meat export
The first export shipment of frozen meat left Port Chalmers on the Dunedin on 15 February 1882, arriving in London on 24 May. The Dunedin's successful arrival meant that the whole world was now accessible for the trade of New Zealand's primary produce.
1882 Māori deputations to the Queen
The first of several deputations was sent to England to seek redress from the Crown. Māori felt they had a special relationship with their Treaty partner, Queen Victoria, in person, but in this and each subsequent case taken to England they were referred back to the New Zealand Government on the ground that the imperial government no longer had the responsibility for such matters.
1888 Electricity introduced
Reefton, on the South Island's West Coast, was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to be lit by hydroelectricity – only six years after this "bottled lightning" became commercially available in the USA. The first state electricity scheme at Lake Coleridge was not opened until 1914.
1891 Investigation of Māori land
A Royal Commission investigated the state of the laws controlling the administration of Māori land. It found that the situation could hardly have been more unworkable had governments over the years deliberately tried to make it so. Fragmentation of ownership and the complex and contradictory nature of the laws meant that almost nothing could be done. By now, only 50 years after the Treaty's signing, Māori had virtually no land in the South Island and less than 40 percent of the North Island. What they did still have was largely of poor quality and hard to develop, the areas that the settlers had not wanted. The Commission made many recommendations to improve the situation, but few were implemented, largely because they were inconsistent with government policy.
1892 Establishment of Māori Parliaments
Frustrated at the lack of success in securing a remedy for their grievances, Māori in different parts of the country convened large meetings, which were called parliaments. Following meetings at Waitangi and Orakei, a Māori congress or parliament (called "Kotahitanga": unity) met for the first time at Waipawa in Hawkes Bay. This Kotahitanga then moved to several other locations and developed a more permanent base at Pāpāwai, Greytown. The King movement's own parliament was called Kauhanganui. Both aimed to unify Māori, but neither wholly succeeded. Māori MPs such as Wi Pere and Hone Heke Ngapua drafted bills and introduced them to Parliament in Wellington, seeking recognition of the Kotahitanga. They were not successful, but in 1900 Carroll and Ngata persuaded the Liberal government of Richard Seddon to set up a system of regional and local Māori councils. The councils had some success in dealing with matters such as health and alcohol sales and in slowing the sale of land. But from 1905 their powers began to be weakened again when the Reform government, which took office in 1911, resumed a vigorous programme of land purchase. The Kotahitanga faded rapidly after the turn of the century.
1893 Women get the vote
Since 1875, women had been able to vote in all municipal elections. In 1891 English immigrant Kate Sheppard, detecting an undercurrent of desire for electoral change, organised a nationwide petition that sought to give women the right to vote in nationwide elections. Much of the impetus for change came from men, who argued that women would bring a more civilised and considered approach to politics.
1899 – 1902 Boer War
While eager to show itself as separate and self-sufficient, yet still a member of the British Empire, New Zealand was the first colony to offer troops to Britain in its conflict with the South African Boers. Some 6500 troops, all volunteers and mostly self-equipped, were sent, particularly mounted rifles, who could be expected to match the Boers' style of warfare. This was to be a white men's war; Māori troops were not accepted.

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