Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home / History / New Zealand / Time Line of events 1900 - 1950

Time Line of events 1900 - 1950

1901 No amalgamation with Australia
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies of Australia amalgamated into the one, federally organised Commonwealth of Australia. The new Australian constitution provided for New Zealand to join as the seventh state, but New Zealand refused.
1907 New Zealand a dominion
More than half a century after being granted its own responsible government, New Zealand's independence and separate identity were further recognised when its status was changed from being a colony of Great Britain to being a Dominion.
1910 Population of 1,000,000
It is estimated that the population of New Zealand surpassed the one million mark during 1910. The 1911 census listed New Zealand's population as 1,058,313. A breakdown of census results showed that "citification" was already a common phenomenon. With 10 percent of the population resident in Auckland and more than 50 percent living in cities, concerns emerged about economic sustainability and the quality of lifestyle in the new urban areas.
1914 – 18 World War One
New Zealand enthusiastically participated in this conflict on behalf of Britain, which was still often referred to as "Home". Forty-two percent of males aged between 19 and 45, some 10 percent of the total population, saw active service. Some Māori opposed joining in a European war. Others supported full Māori participation. In 1915-16, three contingents of Māori Pioneers left for Egypt but they were restricted to garrison duties. On 26 June 1917 Māori were recognised as full participants and became liable for conscription. This led to the formation of the Māori Battalion, commanded however by Pākehā officers.
1916 Rua Kenana arrested
At about the time of Te Whiti's death at Parihaka, another community sprang up at Maungapōhatu in the Ureweras comprising followers of the Tūhoe prophet Rua Kenana. This breakaway community attracted Māori disgruntled with the Pākehā system. The last instance of armed Māori resistance occurred at Maungapōhatu. Rua had discouraged recruitment for the First World War and broke prohibitionist laws by selling alcohol. A large expedition, commanded by the Commissioner of Police himself, made its way into the Ureweras and, after a shoot-out in which Rua's son died, the prophet was arrested. Justice Chapman firmly expressed society's displeasure with dissidents at Rua's trial for sedition, saying his 18-month sentence 'is the lesson your people should learn from this trial'.
1918 Ratana movement
In 1918, as the following of its leader T.W. Ratana grew, the Ratana religious movement opened an office near Wanganui. The Ratana movement picked up aspects of the defiant spirit of the Parihaka community but softened its separatist stance and had a strong focus on largely Christian religion and healing. Its leaders also had economic and modernising goals. In the 1920s Ratana formed a political arm, and from the mid-1930s it entered into an alliance with the Labour party, in an arrangement whereby Labour nominated Ratana leaders as its candidates in the Māori electorates. By 1943, Ratana/Labour candidates had won all four Māori seats, thus gaining a much stronger voice in governing circles. The new members also brought into the Labour caucus the long-standing Ratana demand that the Treaty be 'ratified'.
1921 Turangawaewae home of the Māori King
Tūrangawaewae marae in Ngāruawāhia was adopted as the traditional home of the Māori King movement, on land regained in the aftermath of the wars and confiscation of the 1860s.
1926 Royal Commission on land confiscations
The rise of the Ratana vote boosted the determination of another politician, Sir Maui Pomare, for an inquiry into the 1860s confiscations. Pomare encouraged Māori dairy farmers to donate money for an inquiry and convinced Prime Minister Gordon Coates of its value. The Royal Commission, set up with limitations on resourcing, its time frame and terms of reference, recommended compensation for some confiscations, which it found to have been excessive. Taranaki Māori accepted an annual payment of £5,000 from 1931, but negotiations for the other settlements were delayed until 1944. A political movement called Muru Raupatu, seeking more compensation for lost land, grew in the wake of Sir Maui's work.
1929 Māori land development schemes set up
The first Māori land development scheme was set up by Native Minister Sir Apirana Ngata. The Government provided funds for the development of Māori land and sometimes contributed small areas of Crown land to the schemes. The tenure of the farmers on the schemes, though commonly chosen from among the landowners, was not always satisfactory. Inadequate Crown management of at least some schemes resulted in large accumulating debts, which had to be borne solely by iwi. In some instances, for example the Ngāti Manawa Development Scheme, the debt has only recently been paid off. Māori started to move off the land in the 1930s, an urbanisation greatly accelerated by the Second World War.
1929 The Great Depression
Following a stock market crash on Wall Street in New York, New Zealand followed the rest of the world into a huge economic depression. Initially impacting on New Zealand through a 40 percent drop in export prices between 1928 and 1932, other effects included a reduction of some 20 percent in real incomes for those who remained in work. The worst years were 1931-33, with up to 80,000 (or 12 percent of the workforce) unemployed. Not until the onset of World War Two in 1939 did mass unemployment end.
1934 First celebration of Waitangi Day
Two years after James Busby's former residence at Waitangi was gifted to the nation by the Governor General, Lord Bledisloe, Waitangi Day was formally celebrated for the first time, on the site where the Treaty was signed. Busby's home became known as the Treaty House and construction of a whare rununga began beside it. This Māori meeting house was finished in time for the 1940 Centennial, which celebrated the signing of the Treaty as the nation's founding moment.
1939 – 45 World War Two
Once again, New Zealand responded readily when Britain needed soldiers, 105,000 serving overseas. Of these about one-third were killed, wounded or imprisoned. Again a Māori battalion was formed, and again Māoridom was divided. For example, the Waikato leadership was reluctant to participate while the East Coast, the Bay of Plenty and Northland were the most enthusiastic. In all, 17,000 Māori enlisted.
1944 Three settlements
Arising out of the 1926 Royal Commission and other formal investigations, Settlement Acts provided compensation to several major iwi for land taken in the nineteenth century. The three major settlements were: Ngāi Tahu (£10,000 per annum for 30 years), Waikato-Maniapoto (£6,000 per annum) and Taranaki (£6,000 per annum for 50 years and £5,000 thereafter). These were negotiated by Sir Eruera Tirikatene MP, Princess Te Puea and Sir Maui Pomare respectively. Copies of the Treaty of Waitangi were hung in every school and marae in 1945.
1947 Complete political autonomy
In 1931, the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, which confirmed complete autonomy for its six dominions. With Australia, New Zealand held back from adopting this status and, 16 years later, was by far the last of the six to do so. On 25 November 1947, the Constitution Amendment (Request and Enabling) Act allowed New Zealand itself to alter, suspend or repeal any aspects of its constitution.

Document Actions