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End of an Era: The Departments of Maori Affairs, 1840-1989.

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GP Books., ,

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In this book, Butterworth and McLean provide a comprehensive historical account of the various government departments responsible for Māori affairs in New Zealand from the early colonial period to the late 20th century.

This book critically examines the evolving relationship between the New Zealand government and the Māori people, highlighting the shifts in policies and attitudes over a period of 150 years. The authors document the changes in administrative structures, legislation, and socio-political approaches to Māori issues. They also discuss the impact of these governmental actions on the Māori communities, including the effects on land ownership, social welfare, and cultural preservation. Early chapters provide details on the department’s role in land alienation, noting how it functioned as a mini-government whilst acting as a means to manage relations with Māori whilst integrating them into the European institutional framework. It also notes how the department was scaled down at the end of the 19th century before being abolished. The department, it continues, was then re-established in 1906 by James Carroll, who wanted to cast it in a way more favourable to Māori, though ultimately its mandate was subject to the whims of the whoever led it over the next decades. As it continues, during the 1920s and 1930s the department grew as there was a growing political commitment to Māori services. This was particularly true under the First Labour Government, with prime minster Peter Fraser taking charge of the newly named Māori Affairs in 1946. The book also provides insights into the departments role in housing in the post-war period, providing useful insights. It also covers the Hunn Report, as well as subsequent reviews in the 1970s and the growing realisation that the government needed to provide services tailored to the specific cultural needs of Māori. This work is notable for its in-depth research and critical analysis, providing readers with a clear understanding of the complexities and nuances in the government-Māori relationship.

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