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Time Line of events 1950 - 2000

1950 Legislative Council Abolished
Until 1950, New Zealand had an appointed Upper House, the Legislative Council, in addition to the elected House of Representatives. In 1950, the new National Government appointed 25 new members, all pledged to vote for the Council's abolition. On 18 August 1950, the Council voted itself out of existence by 26:16, and this took effect on 1 January 1951. New Zealand has retained a unicameral (single house) parliamentary system since that time.
1951 Waterfront strike
On 9 February, in a climate of rapidly deteriorating industrial relations on the waterfront, the Waterside Workers Union refused to work overtime at all ports. The employers had previously taken action to reduce the workers' conditions, which induced the Union's action. Claiming that this amounted to a strike, the employers responded by suspending the workers, who then counterclaimed they were being locked out. The government took draconian measures, including declaring a state of emergency and using armed forces personnel. The dispute was not ended until 15 July, after a total of 1157390 man-working days had been lost, and it became New Zealand's largest industrial dispute.
1953 Māori Affairs Act focuses on ‘unproductive’ land
A measure designed to force unproductive Māori land into use was introduced by the Government in the Māori Affairs Act. Anyone who could now show the Māori Land Court (renamed from the Native Land Court in 1947) that a piece of good land was not being used could then apply to have it vested in trustees. This Act, allowing some flexibility in land management such as trusts, remained the governing legislation for Māori land for 40 years. For the first time, a reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, visited Waitangi.
1962 NZ Māori Council established
This national body was set up as the pinnacle of a hierarchy of village and district councils, dating from 1900, though revived under the 1945 Māori Social and Economic Advancement Act. Largely because of the huge movement of Māori from country to town, the rural organisations declined in significance while the NZ Māori Council gained increasing authority.
1962 Ombudsman created
To deal with the increasing number of citizens' complaints about government bureaucracy, the office of Ombudsman was established on 7 September 1962. Sir Guy Powles established an effective system that has been used often as a model for other democratic nations and states.
1967 Protest over Māori Affairs Amendment Act
Māori were becoming increasingly concerned at the continued alienation of their remaining land by paternalistic legislation and by a lack of understanding of how the confusion of laws since 1862 had mostly hindered rather than assisted the development of Māori land by its owners. The Amendment Act in 1967 introduced compulsory conversion of 'Māori freehold' land with four or fewer owners into 'general land', and increased the powers of the Māori Trustee to compulsorily acquire and sell 'uneconomic interests' in Māori land. The Amendment Act led to growing Māori concerns that the law would result in further alienation of what land remained and also led to strong protests by organisations such as the New Zealand Māori Council and the Māori Graduates Association, street demonstrations and angry meetings throughout the country. The law was modified in 1974, and work subsequently began on the drafting of a completely new act.
1971 Racial discrimination banned
The Race Relations Act prohibited discrimination based on race, colour or ethnic origin in a wide range of public and private situations. The Act also created the office of Race Relations Conciliator.
1974 Waitangi Day
Waitangi Day had been a holiday since 1963 for Auckland and Northland only (replacing the provincial anniversary holiday). The Māori protest movements took up the long-standing Ratana demand for ratification of the Treaty, that is, having it formally recognised in legislation. In 1974, three years after Nga Tamatoa staged the first big protest at Waitangi, 6 February became a national holiday and the Queen attended her first Waitangi Day ceremony. It was, for two years, briefly renamed New Zealand Day.
1975 Māori Land March / Hikoi
From 14 September, Whina Cooper's Māori land hikoi marched from the tail of the 'fish', Te Ika-a-Maui (North Island) at Cape Reinga, to the head (Wellington) to publicise concerns over unceasing disposal of Māori land in Crown hands. Gathering support at about 25 stops along the way, the hikoi reached the capital on 13 October. Five thousand people walked onto Parliament grounds and presented a petition bearing 60,000 signatures. By the time a tent embassy was dismantled two months later, the hikoi had raised public awareness of Māori concerns. Responding to the pressure of the hikoi and other lobbying, the government passed the first legislative recognition of the Treaty (although there had been recognition of aspects of it in the legislation of the 1860s).
1975 Waitangi Tribunal established
The Treaty of Waitangi Act established a tribunal, the Waitangi Tribunal, as a formal, ongoing commission of inquiry to hear grievances against the Crown. But it limited such grievances to those occurring after the passing of the Act in 1975 and allowed the Tribunal the power to make findings of fact and recommendations only, not binding determinations. The Waitangi Tribunal first began hearings two years later, but, particularly because of that limitation, few claims were investigated.
1977 Human rights protected
The Human Rights Commission Act complemented the earlier race relations legislation. It prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status and religious or ethical belief while creating a Human Rights Commission to promote human rights and an Equal Opportunities Tribunal to deal with complaints.
1977 Bastion Point occupation
Protesters occupied Bastion Point in Auckland in January 1977 after the government announced a high-value housing development on former Ngāti Whātua reserve land overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. Over time, the once-large reserve, designated 'inalienable', had been reduced in size by compulsory acquisition, leaving the Ngāti Whātua ki Orākei tribal group holding less than one hectare. After 506 days, the occupiers were evicted by police (in May 1978), by which time Bastion Point had become a household term for land rights protest. The film Bastion Point – Day 507 was released three years later. Since then, at the recommendation of the Waitangi Tribunal, much of the land has been returned to or vested with Ngāti Whātua.
1981 Raglan Golf Course protest
Land taken during the Second World War for a military airfield at Raglan was returned to Tainui Awhiro people, but only after a long dispute and protest. Instead of being handed back to its former owners when not required for its designated public purpose, part of the land had been turned into a golf course in 1969. This led Eva Rickard to initiate protest action in the 1970s.
1981 Springbok tour
The country was divided over the tour by the South African rugby team, the Springboks. Large protests against South Africa's apartheid policy, and deliberately massive police deployment, resulted in violent battles between the police and the protestors and one match being cancelled.
1982 Freedom of information
The adoption of a policy of more open government resulted in the Official Information Act 1982, which gives the public wide access to government information, except in specified circumstances. It reversed the policy emphasis of the Official Secrets Act by stating that information should be available unless particularly sensitive. The Act is policed by the Office of the Ombudsmen. Reviewing complaints about Official Information Act requests that have been refused has become the bulk of the Office's work.
1985 Crown allows claims back to 1840
The Treaty of Waitangi Act was amended, with the Waitangi Tribunal having its powers extended to allow investigation of Crown actions and omissions that could be in breach of Treaty principles dating back to 1840. There were unexpected implications of going back to 1840: opening up the whole history of the terms and modes of colonisation. Researching claims has proved an enormous and specialised task, given the paucity of pre-existing historical work and the level of detail required. The presentation of the claims to the Tribunal and subsequent settlement negotiations with the Crown has also necessitated the involvement of many lawyers and other experts on behalf of both the Crown and the claimants.
1985 Waitangi Tribunal issues reports
An enlarged Waitangi Tribunal issued reports on Treaty claims, often on a regional basis. More than 30 reports have now been issued, among them the Orākei Report, the Te Reo Māori Report, the Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi, the Ngāi Tahu Report, the Muriwhenua Lands Report, the Whanganui River Report and Te Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa: the Report on the Wellington District.
1986 Treaty principles in legislation
The State Owned Enterprises Act was a key piece of legislation to incorporate a reference to the Treaty. Since then, more than 40 statutes have referred (with varying degrees of emphasis) to the principles of the Treaty, in relation to the purpose of the legislation. From this the Courts have been able to determine whether the principles are being appropriately applied. This has given the Treaty far-reaching recognition in national and local government. Supported by a Waitangi Tribunal report on te reo Māori, the Māori language has also gained greater authority and usage.
1987 Landmark court case
A landmark Court of Appeal case (Māori Council v Attorney-General) established that the Crown must pay heed to previous Māori ownership in disposal of surplus Crown assets such as land. This followed the break-up of old land-holding departments and the establishment of new state-owned enterprises under the 1986 State Owned Enterprises Act. That Act declared that the Crown might do nothing 'that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi'. The Court set out a number of principles it saw encapsulated in or derived from the Treaty. Perhaps the key principle was that of partnership, since the Treaty had been signed by two partners. Another was that the Crown, as the more powerful partner, has a duty of active protection of the interests of the weaker partner, Māori.
1990 The Sesquicentenary
In the mid-1980s, in response to rising protests, the official role in celebrating 6 February at Waitangi had been minimised, and in 1988, it was suspended altogether. For the sesquicentennial year since the Treaty signing, official participation returned to Waitangi. Public focus and awareness was on issues surrounding ownership and control of Māori resources as well as partnership between the tangata whenua (Māori) and tangata tiriti (Pākehā, the people of the Treaty).
1992 Treaty Settlements signed
A comprehensive Treaty settlement on commercial fisheries was signed, vesting $170 million with the Waitangi Fisheries Commission to enable it to buy 50 percent of Sealord Products Ltd, a large, Nelson-based fishing company. But the allocation of the fishery resource and proceeds has since caused much disagreement among Māori, particularly between coastal and inland tribes, traditional iwi and newer urban authorities, and the allocation issue remains unresolved more than a decade later. Major settlements were subsequently signed with Tainui in 1995 and Ngāi Tahu in 1998, each at an estimated total value of $170 m.
1993 Te Ture Whenua Māori enacted
After a great deal of discussion, led largely by the New Zealand Māori Council, a completely new act regulating Māori land was passed. Under Te Ture Whenua Māori it is now very difficult to purchase remaining Māori land. The Act also seeks to overcome the problems of fragmentation of titles among multiple owners by providing for various kinds of trust under which the land can be managed.
1995 Rising protest on Land and Treaty issues
A series of protests in the mid-1990s denoted a new phase of activism on land and Treaty issues. Many were generated in response to the government's proposal to limit the monetary value of Treaty settlements to one billion dollars over ten years, the so-called 'fiscal envelope'. A series of hui around the country graphically illustrated the breadth and depth of Māori rejection of such a limitation in advance of the extent of claims being fully known and much of the policy package, especially the fiscal cap, was subsequently dropped. These protests included occupation of Wanganui's Moutoa Gardens (twice) and the Takahue school in Northland (leading to its destruction by fire). Symbolic acts included attacking Victorian statuary, the America's Cup and the lone pine on One Tree Hill and removing a Colin McCahon painting (subsequently returned) from the Lake Waikaremoana Visitor Centre. Rising protests at the Waitangi Day celebrations led the government to move the official observance to Government House in Wellington.
1995 Office of Treaty Settlements established
The Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) was formed from the previous Treaty of Waitangi Policy Unit (TOWPU). OTS conducts negotiations with Māori claimants on levels of remedy for past breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. Treaty breaches need to be proven but not necessarily through a Waitangi Tribunal hearing.
1998 Te Papa museum opens
New Zealand’s new national museum, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, officially opened on Wellington’s waterfront, completing a decade of planning and construction.

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