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The social and economic experience of Porirua ki Manawatu Maori: An analysis and appraisal. Wai 2200, #A219.

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Waitangi Tribunal, ,

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This Waitangi Tribunal report explores the socio-economic and health disparities faced by Porirua ki Manawatu Māori from the early 20th century to post-World War II New Zealand, highlighting the impact of land dispossession and subsequent economic disenfranchisement.

Through the lens of various scholars and historical figures like Ngata and Sutherland, the narrative uncovers the multifaceted nature of health and economic challenges, attributing these to significant land losses, inadequate access to resources, and systemic barriers within governmental policies. The text evaluates the changing dynamics of Māori living standards, contrasting periods of severe economic hardship with moments of relative improvement facilitated by government interventions in employment, health, and housing. The examination further delves into the critical role of land in Māori socio-economic stability, outlining how the transition of land ownership to the Crown and settlers drastically reduced Māori economic participation and well-being. It underscores the importance of land not only as a physical resource but also as a source of identity and community cohesion for Māori. The narrative critically assesses government policies across various sectors, pointing out their failure to inclusively engage with Māori in decision-making processes or to effectively address the unique needs of Māori communities. Chapter 5 of the report focuses on housing up to 1951. As the introduction notes, adequacy and quality of housing are useful and sensitive indicators of the distribution of resources within a community, of the capacity to earn, accumulate and invest, of access to lending agencies, and of the operation of State housing policies. In particular, the chapter examines describe several housing crises during the period and the State’s responses to them. It compares the separate policies that were developed in respect of Māori and Pākehā, and the legislation that was enacted to deal with what were perceived to be two separate series of issues demanding separate responses. Through this chapter several major themes are examined, including the recognition and assessment of the housing difficulties confronting Māori, the ideologies that shaped and informed the Crown’s responses, the outcomes of the policies adopted, and whether Māori were treated in a manner that, when compared with that offer non-Māori, could be described as fair and equitable. Chapter 5 provides a deep historical examination not just of housing issues experienced by Porirua ki Manawatu Māori but also of the broader national situation, with a wealth of statistical data employed. By examining claims made by Porirua ki Manawatu Māori, the text as a whole encapsulates the grievances related to land alienation, social and economic marginalisation, and the Crown’s lack of support for Māori aspirations towards self-determination and equitable socio-economic participation.

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