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Māori economic development – Glimpses from statistical sources.

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Motu Working Paper 05–13 Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, ,

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This working paper offers an exploration of Māori economic development in New Zealand over a 150-year period, using various statistical and historical sources.

The authors divide the history into distinct periods, each marked by significant economic and social shifts within the Māori community. In the pre-European period, the paper highlights the Māori economy as being predominantly based on agriculture and hunting, with limited technology transfer from other societies. The introduction of European technologies and trade dramatically altered this landscape, leading to rapid adoption of new farming techniques, crops, and equipment. Post-1840, the authors note a decline in the Māori population, largely due to diseases introduced by Europeans and the confiscation of Māori land. This period saw a shift towards commercial agriculture and participation in industries such as logging and road construction. However, the loss of land and capital accumulation challenges significantly impacted Māori economic stability. From 1900 to 1950, the paper discusses the slow integration of Māori into the European-dominated economy, marked by rising participation in agriculture and urban migration. Government policies aimed at assisting Māori land development began to take effect, and there was a gradual increase in Māori participation in education. The period post-1950 saw a dramatic shift with the majority of the Māori population moving to urban areas and becoming integrated into the mainstream market economy. The paper notes significant improvements in Māori incomes and living standards during this time, though these were later challenged by economic recessions and policy reforms in the 1970s and 1980s. Coleman, Dixon, and Maré conclude that Māori economic development has been a story of ongoing change, adaptation, and, importantly, a substantial increase in material standards of living, despite periods of significant setbacks. They highlight the importance of integration into the market economy, government support, and Māori self-driven economic initiatives in this development process. The paper also acknowledges the limitations in the available data and the complexities in measuring economic outcomes due to changes in data collection methods over time.

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