kim pieters studio








‘Meditations on New Zealand History’

nine paintings



‘The Constitution Act 1852’

1715mm x 895mm
mixed media on board



The New Zealand Settlements Act 1863

1085mm x 2380mm
mixed media on board, two panels 




‘The Native Lands Act 1865’

two panels 1250mm x 1630mm
mixed media on board

notes to the ‘Meditations on New Zealand History’ series



1852 Constitution Act

This measure, is the bed-rock upon which the political structure of New Zealand has been built; parts of which still remain in force. As well as establishing both colonial and provincial governments, it enfranchised all adult males possessed of a small property and established the right of the colony to general self-government. An important provision established the right of the NZ assembly to dispose of all Crown waste lands in the colony.

It very soon became abundantly clear that, although in theory there was no discrimination, the Maori were disenfranchised. Maori holding land by customary tenure did not qualify as individuals for the franchise. So the effect of the 1852 Act was to hand power over the land to precisely those who had a vested interest in dispossessing the people who owned it and at the same time to disenfranchise those who stood at risk of being dispossessed.


1863 The New Zealand Settlements Act

This law, passed in December 1863, allowed for the confiscation of land – without compensation – from any North Island tribe said to be ‘in rebellion against Her Majesty’s authority’. Under the provisions of this act Te Ati Awa lost all their Taranaki lands. The short title of the act, ‘New Zealand Settlements’, referred to the intention to introduce new settlers onto the lands, but it somewhat disguised its real purpose which was confiscation.

Under the provisions of this Act, the Governor, acting on the advice of his ‘ministers’ was authorised to establish at pleasure settlements upon any land belonging to natives within any districts within which any such land was situated, that was in possession of a tribe, section or considerable number of natives who the Governor was satisfied had engaged in ‘rebellion’. (read rebellion as defending against attack & trespass ones own land)

While Governor George Grey called for confiscation to be tailored to the level of guilt of iwi, the settler government headed by Alfred Domett was determined to take as much land as it could. Under this legislation, theWaikato tribe lost almost all its land and Ngati Haua about a third of theirs. But kupapa (pro-government or neutral) Maori also lost land as the yardstick rapidly changed from guilt to convenience.







1865 Native Lands Act

The Native Land Court was one of the key products of the 1865 Native Lands Act. It provided for the conversion of traditional communal landholdings into individual titles, making it easier for Pakeha to purchase Maori land. Coming little more than a year after the Waikato War, this legislation was to achieve what many believed had not been accomplished on the battlefield – acquiring the land necessary to satisfy an insatiable settler appetite. The operations of the Land Court affected Maori more than those of any other colonial institution. When old rivalries were played out in court, the ultimate beneficiaries were Pakeha. Historian Judith Binney described the Native Lands Act as an ‘act of war’.




The Maori Affairs Act 1953

1070mm x 900mm
mixed media on board




The Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1967


1120mm x 895mm
mixed media on board 

1953 Maori Affairs Act

In 1949, the government fell to the National party. National as the farming party, inherited the land-grabbing traditions of its political forbears, both Liberal and Reform. The resumption of land leases and the encouragement of the formation of incorporations were unpalatable to that section of the community that had grown used to the ready availability of Maori land at cheap rates. Under the guise of consolidating the rambling mass of legislation affecting Maori land and affairs, the new Government passed the Maori Affairs Act of 1953, nullifying many of the benefits achieved under the previous legislation and marking a return to the policy of Maori land alienation.

Ominously, the Government in laying down its policies stood by the recommendations of the Native Land Commission of 1907: that the first consideration should be the encouragement of the Maori people to become industrious settlers. In pursuit of this objective, the right of compulsory purchase of “uneconomic” interests in Maori land by the State, at the States valuation, was reintroduced under the aegis of the Department of Maori Affairs. While land still continued to be developed by the department as hitherto (although the money available tended to be inadequate to meet the needs), the department reverted to its traditional role as land-purchase agent.

That is not to say the Maori Affairs legislation from this time on has been entirely hostile to the Maori people, for it has included advantageous provisions in respect of consolidation and clarification of titles (although this has sometimes been the prelude to alienations). But the dynamo that had driven the legislation in practice had been the powers it gave to the Maori Trustee for what is generally known as conversion, which is the right to purchase without the consent of the owners, interests worth less than $50 and then to dispose of them as the Trustee saw fit, and the powers to insist upon the utilisation and development of land by others when the Maori owners were unwilling or unable to exploit the land themselves to the greatest extent of its economic potential.

This principle of Maori land administration is fundamentally unjust to the owners of the land and makes mockery of the notion of trusteeship if the actual administration of the land is looked at. The Maori Trustee had considerable powers in consolidation of titles, which, if used to the full, would reduce the number of shares of land worth less than $50. Instead of using the power available in this way the Trustee chose to take over small interests. In some instances the department, as agent for the Trustee, had gone further and insisted, as a condition of making developmental capital available, that the owners agree to sell their ‘uneconomic’ land interests to the Crown.

Pakeha farmers, faced with such conditions of development assistance would have no hesitation in refusing the loan and seeking finance elsewhere, from either a bank or a stock and station agency. But this option was not open to many Maori farmers or communities who wished to develop their land. The normal loan agencies were reluctant to lend money to Maori owners because the often tangled state of land titles made them useless as security.They were forced to obtain their development assistance from the State, under terms very much to their disadvantage.


If, however, they chose not to exercise this option but to let the land lie unused, they were also courting disaster. In these circumstances the same legislation gave the local rating authority, usually made up of local farmers or their small-town financial counterparts, the right to apply to the Land Court to have the unused land put to use by the Maori Trustee. In practice, this has meant that the land would be leased to the local pakeha farmers who control the rating authority.

Between 1953 and 1962, 48,875 acres of land passed out of Maori hands by this means — 20,000 acres of it in Raglan County alone. Once leased in this way it was very difficult to recover into Maori ownership, as the legislation required that the leasehold rent the pakeha framer paid was based on the unimproved value of the land, but that at the completion of the term of the lease the Maori owners were required to compensate the lessee for the improvements he has made. This places the owners in a “Catch 22” situation.

For the law required that the rent they received during the term of the lease was ridiculously low, but that on the completion of the lease, because of this requirement, they did not have the capital needed to buy back the lease. They were therefore forced to renew it, again on unfavourable terms. Given that provisions of this sort lie at the root of the law, it is hardly surprising that between 1953 and 1967 Maori land once again began to slip out of Maori ownership at a rapidly accelerating rate.

Some communities and kin groups had found a way out of this dilemma, however. They had been turning increasingly to incorporation of land. This had meant a pooling of interests, although separate titles were retained, under a trust board to develop land as a total economic unit. It has considerable advantages—for instance, banks are much more ready to lend money to an incorporation, and thus the owners are not wholly reliant on the department for development capital. This has enabled them to make better loan terms. Perhaps even more important, an incorporation is not a company. In a company the board of directors has the power to dispose of assets, but in an incorporation the board of management consists of the trustees and not even a single owner can dispose of this interest without consulting with all. Nor can the Maori Trustee dispose of the the less-than-$50 interests he obtains, except to other members of the incorporation.

Incorporation attracts certain tax advantages, too, which frees more profit for reinvestment. The logical extension of incorporation was therefore the complete drying-up of the supply of alienated Maori land to pakeha farmers. This was politically unacceptable to the government and in 1967 it amended the law to ensure that this avenue of protection was no longer open to Maori landowners in retaining their patrimony.

1967 Maori Affairs Amendment Act

The Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1967 was one of the most unjust laws passed by Parliament in the twentieth century, in the sense that it used the legal process to strip a minority of its property. The legislation, which ironically announced as its intention the effective and profitable use of Maori land to the benefit of its owners, was therefore bitterly opposed by all shades of Maori opinion. Its whole aim was, in fact the contrary of its hypocritically announced intention; it was designed to prevent the process of effective land incorporation.

It introduced compulsory conversion of Māori freehold land with four or fewer owners into general land. It increased the powers of the Maori Trustee to compulsorily acquire and sell so-called uneconomic interests in Māori land. This ignored the fact that such lands were often the last fragments connecting their owners to their turangawaewae (their place to stand or homeland). Such policies might have been well-intentioned, but to many Māori they were outdated and paternalistic, making no allowance for cultural and spiritual links to the land.

The Act intensified growing Māori concerns that the law would result in further alienation of what land remained in Māori ownership. There were also protests by organisations such as the New Zealand Māori Council and the Māori Graduates Association, street demonstrations, and angry meetings throughout the country. A member of the Maori Council called this the ‘last land-grab’.




Ma te Ture ano te Ture e aki!





“Ko te waka hei hoehoenga mo koutou i muri i ahau, ko te ture, ma te Ture:
Ma te Ture ano te Ture e aki!”

Whakatauki (Proverb)








“The canoe for you to paddle after me is the law:
only the Law can correct the Law!”

Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki     c.1832–17 April 1893

The Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975

mixed media on board
1230mm x 1000mm





The Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act 1985

 mixed media on board 1180mm x 1020mm

1975 Treaty of Waitangi Act

In the 1970s a wave of protest actions such as the Māori land march in 1975 and the 1978 occupations of Bastion Point and Raglan golf course drew public attention to the Māori people’s sense of injustice. From 1980 annual protests on Waitangi Day impelled successive governments to make changes to legislation affecting Māori. Some of those changes gave greater recognition to Māori traditional law and custom.

In 1975 the Labour government established the Waitangi Tribunal and gave the Treaty of Waitangi recognition in New Zealand law for the first time. The Tribunal was empowered to investigate possible breaches of the Treaty by the New Zealand government or any state-controlled body, occurring after 1975. It was also empowered to recommend, but not enforce, remedies.

However, of course, Māori grievances related mainly to the Crown’s historical actions and omissions from the beginning of colonisation. Many Māori were unhappy with the Act. Most of the significant breaches of the Treaty, such as land confiscation in the New Zealand Wars, had occurred in the nineteenth century, and the Tribunal was powerless to investigate these. This became increasingly clear in the 1980s, when the tribunal gained momentum and mana under its second chair, Edward Taihakurei Durie. After great pressure, the Labour Party agreed to empower the tribunal to hear grievances dating back to 1840.

1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act

Following Labour’s election victory in 1984, a 1985 amendment to the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 allowed historical grievances going back to 1840 to be heard. The tribunal began to issue reports addressing a multitude of grievances – including land, environmental, cultural and language loss – based on historical events.

The tribunal’s findings generally upheld the grievances and its recommendations included significant transfer of land and money to Māori. Reparations for past losses were the more urgent because government economic policies had greatly increased unemployment, with Māori suffering disproportionately. But compensation issues essentially related to treaty principles, which (partly in response to judicial and tribunal findings) now implied development of a partnership relationship between the Crown and Māori.


Controversies affecting the treaty claims settlement process included: perceived ‘treaty fatigue’ among some Pākehā; settlements depicted by politicians and pressure groups as discriminatory in favour of Māori; settlement processes said to violate national unity or, alternately, multiculturalism; settlement policies said to benefit either a tribal elite or Māoridom alone, in a country where much mixing of peoples has occurred.

Settlements needed to reflect many factors, including size of claimant groups and the nature and degree of treaty breaches. The Crown had found it difficult to negotiate final settlements without claimants knowing what other tribes were to obtain. In 1994 the government imposed a $1-billion fiscal cap on total settlements. There was universal opposition among Māori to the cap and it was soon officially dropped. However, by then Waikato–Tainui had signed its settlement, worth 17% of the total ‘fiscal envelope’ at 1994 values. Thereafter relativities remained informally in place and iwi whose settlements included relativity clauses were to receive extra resources if settlements exceeded the billion-dollar figure, as adjusted for inflation from 1994.

The pace of settlements picked up speed when Labour’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen took over treaty negotiations in 2007, and continued under the National-led government’s Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson from 2008. The rapid pace was criticised by some tribes who claimed that the government placed undue pressure on them to settle. Others, however, pointed to the long time they had waited to see their claims addressed.

Despite the many controversies, by the 21st century treaty settlements were accepted by the political mainstream and treated as normal events within New Zealand. This acceptance was helped because no more historical treaty claims were allowed to be lodged after 2008. The National-led government elected that year set 2014 as a target for final settlement for all such claims.

Settlements have been negotiated quickly by international standards and have involved significant resource transfers, as well as important cultural redress and apologies. New Zealand’s settlement processes are widely regarded internationally as an efficient model for the reconciliation of historical grievances and a relatively fair way of achieving historical justice for indigenous people who have suffered from colonisation and its aftermath.





The Maori Language Act 1987

mixed media on board, two panels 1220mm x 1945mm

1987 Māori Language Act

An Act to declare the Māori language to be an official language of New Zealand, to confer the right to speak Māori in certain legal proceedings, and to establish Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and define its functions and powersTitle: amended, on 20 June 1991, by section 2(2) of the Maori Language Amendment Act 1991 (1991 No 40). Whereas in the Treaty of Waitangi the Crown confirmed and guaranteed to the Māori people, among other things, all their taonga: And whereas the Māori language is one such taonga.

Dereliction refers to Luce Irigaray’s use of the word when she speaks of ‘the other’ as being ‘unlanguaged’. Those who are not reflected back, they live in the debris of the dominant script, in the gaps, they live she would say in dereliction.

Language constructs our realities, our sense of identity, our experience of ourselves and our world. When the language we know ourselves through is coded by a power elite that voices its own experience as universal, names all others in a ‘less than’ relation to itself, maintains its dominance by cultural and resource monopoly, mutes by various strategies of deprivation, hostility, degradation or alternatively idealization, sentimentalization etc; the position of the other; then this ‘other’ becomes invisible except when loaded with respect to this code.

This making of the world denies the actual experience of these people, (these people, the other…gender/race/class take your pick) yet they live within it. They search for themselves in its images. Pass by in its gaps. Often needing to falsify their own reality to survive. There is no telling of them, or if there is, it is inflated, aggrandized or the opposite, marginalized, devalued …..muted. Anybody finding themselves situated here, experiences certain ontological difficulties to say the least.

I paint, a practice saturated with male historical/cultural meaning, as indeed the bulk of historical/cultural space is. I am female. I am embedded in this language and know well how it negates any meaning particular to my entity as a female human person. In my art I explore this denial and attempt a refusal of it. I language myself within and beyond the script that names me. I make public my telling in the hope that something in what I make casts back to those that are, as yet unsaid.

If the public mirror came to reflect all the stories that actually exist, without the dominance of the one/master story, then this would be an important shift in the human. At least more civil than what we endure now. For this to happen however women and all the other “others” need to present there, and present in such a way that it is their experience (not his idea of them) that is told and further that these stories be validated and have enduring presence in public consciousness. To not strangely disappear, suffocate under the weight of the master story as constantly happens now. That instead, these stories evolve the one: enlarge it, move it, hybridise it, multiply it; make something new of it. That they do not fall into the trap of a return to his/the master/the one story.

Perhaps one of the first things we (us, the other) need to try and do, is unravel how complicit our identities are in this One narrative and set about threading a difference that is Not going to cause war. We do not need war, we need a living between us. A complicated task. In order to begin amid humans, the earth and its creations, this civil relationship; a relation between differences that is neither mutually exhaustive, nor composed of one term and its negation; it is said we will need to make a LIFE and an ART between us; because we will be…. rebuilding the world.

k.f.pieters 1996 (revisited2007/15)





Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993

mixed media on board,
two panels 2105mm x 1470mm

1993 Te Ture Whenua Maori Act

Te Ture Whenua Maori Act (Maori Land Act) 1993: the predecessors to this Act are the Native Lands Act 1865, Maori Affairs Act 1953 and Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1967:


Nā te mea i riro nā te Tiriti o Waitangi i motuhake ai te noho a te iwi me te Karauna: ā, nā te mea e tika ana kia whakaūtia anō te wairua o te wā i riro atu ai te kāwanatanga kia riro mai ai te mau tonu o te rangatiratanga e takoto nei i roto i te Tiriti o Waitangi: ā, nā te mea e tika ana kia mārama ko te whenua he taonga tuku iho e tino whakaaro nuitia ana e te iwi Māori, ā, nā tērā he whakahau kia mau tonu taua whenua ki te iwi nōna, ki ō rātou whānau, hapū hoki, a, a ki te whakangungu i ngā wāhi tapu hei whakamāmā i te nohotanga, i te whakahaeretanga, i te whakamahitanga o taua whenua hei painga mō te hunga nōna, mō ō rātou whānau, hapū hoki: ā, nā te mea e tika ana kia tū tonu he Te Kooti, ā, kia whakatakototia he tikanga hei āwhina i te iwi Māori kia taea ai ēnei kaupapa te whakatinana.

Whereas the Treaty of Waitangi established the special relationship between the Maori people and the Crown: And whereas it is desirable that the spirit of the exchange of kawanatanga for the protection of rangatiratanga embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi be reaffirmed: And whereas it is desirable to recognise that land is a taonga tuku iho of special significance to Maori people and, for that reason, to promote the retention of that land in the hands of its owners, their whanau, and their hapu, and to protect wahi tapu: and to facilitate the occupation, development, and utilisation of that land for the benefit of its owners, their whanau, and their hapu: And whereas it is desirable to maintain a court and to establish mechanisms to assist the Maori people to achieve the implementation of these principles.

2016 Ammendment to the 1993 Te Ture Whenua Maori Act

…The issue of what to do with under-utilised Māori land is not new. In the 19th century it was a perennial concern of settler governments. Back then, there were two broad policy approaches. The first was legislation to enable purchasing of individual blocks at a faster pace. Secondly, district wide schemes that attempted to identify all the areas that Māori might give up to European settlement for a song, while retaining a modest amount for themselves (usually disastrously small and poorly located).

In the 20th century the pattern repeated itself, with legislative interventions such as the forced sale of ‘uneconomic’ shares and the outright taking of land covered in weeds. These were accompanied by broader schemes of consolidation and amalgamation of remaining scattered Māori blocks. For the most part these overpromised and under-delivered, or were set up to fail. The Waitangi Tribunal has examined these issues in a number of inquiries.

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 was primarily intended, and has acted, as a Māori land preservation act. Very little land has left Māori hands since it was enacted. Its attempts at innovation in the management of Māori land – such as through whenua topu trusts – have not enjoyed such broad success.

Enter the National government, with its rural focus and a general interest in lifting the performance of rural land, and newly resurgent Māori businesses, including some post settlement governance entities with settlement cash to invest. In March 2011 the Ministry for Primary Industries released a report entitled “Māori Agribusiness in New Zealand: A Study of the Māori Freehold Land Resource”…

Tom Bennion: Review of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993-Discussion Document

Since that report & subsequent to further discussion, a review of the 1993 Te Ture Whenua Maori Act has been actioned. Following through with governmental process, it is intended that the draft Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill will be introduced to Parliament in early 2016. The Minister for Māori Development anticipates to have this landmark reform enacted as law in late 2016.

& so, with regard to the state of New Zealand law in 2016:  I will leave you with your own conclusions.

Texts compiled by Kim Pieters. Dunedin. 2016

Tony Simpson …White Mans Anger ‘Te Riri Pakeha’ (1979)