Joshua Hitchcock

An Interesting Definition of Māori

In Te Ao Māori on October 10, 2011 at 9:36 pm

From the Māori Housing Act 1935:

Section 2A: Maori includes certain other Polynesians

For the purposes of this Act, the term Māori shall be deemed to include any Polynesian who is a native of any island of the South Pacific Ocean and any person who is a descendant of such a Polynesian if, in either case, –

(a) He is a New Zealand citizen; or

(b) He has lived in New Zealand for 3 years and is permanently resident in New Zealand.

This section was inserted in 1969, at which time it would seem that the Holyoake Government say little distinction between Māori and Polynesians.  I also wonder whether the definition of Polynesians was also intended to include other Pacific Island peoples, such as Melanesians?

Incidentally, this Act is a very useful tool for Māori seeking to finance the construction of houses on their own property, or on jointly owned Māori land.  As I have discussed previously, there is a clear market failure in the provision of finance on Māori land and this Act was a 1930s attempt to provide for state-financing of Māori housing.

What I am interested in knowing is first, if the market failure was as clear in the 1930s as it is today, then why have we yet to see a Māori solution, such as a Māori Mutual Society, to remedy the failings of the private market and provide for the unique characteristics of Māori land.  And second, how widely used are the funding mechanisms under this Act?  I have written to Te Puni Kokiri seeking their data on funding provided under this Act and I will let you know what I find.

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