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Frontier Of Dreams

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Race Relations

After the Second World War Maori had moved into the cities in large numbers and were expected to assimilate into urban New Zealand society. Many did while there were plenty of jobs.

By the mid-1960s there was a widespread view within New Zealand that we had the best race relations in the world. But over the next few years New Zealanders began to develop new ideas about race.

From within the Maori community there was a questioning of the assimilation model and a demand for Maori control over Maori resources. There was a reasserted sense of identity and eventually a vision of Maori sovereignty.

During the 1960s political leadership within Maori society belonged to the Maori Council, which had been established in 1962 by the National Government. But it was sometimes suspected of being a government stooge. Some younger Maori believed something stronger was needed and so Nga Tamatoa, the Young Warriors, was born. They took their radical model from the American Black Power movement.

A key issue was the Maori language. The fight for the language would take years. In 1987 Maori was made an official language of New Zealand.

Waitangi Day became a focus for protest. It had become an official day of commemoration in 1960. Nga Tamatoa staged protests at Waitangi throughout the 1970s.

The Labour Government was determined to give more credence to the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1973 it passed the New Zealand Day Act which changed the name of the day and made it a public holiday. At the Waitangi celebrations in 1973 Norman Kirk expressed his vision for the nation when he took the hand of a young Maori boy.

But this didn't stop the growing protests on Waitangi Day and the growing recognition of the significance of the Treaty for Maori. Minister of Maori Affairs Matiu Rata responded. In 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal was established to hear contemporary breaches of the Treaty. But Maori were still concerned about the continued alienation of Maori land.