Incorporations started as family enterprises on the each Coast before the turn of the century. Since the Native Land Act 1909, they provided a legal formula whereby the owners could work together on a block of land and share the proceeds from their work.
Today there are more than 90 active incorporations on the East Coast farming properties extending from small dairy farms to large sheep stations, the best known being the Mangatu incorporation embracing an area of over 100,000 acres.
At the Young Maori Leaders Conference in Auckland last year, incorporations were regarded as the best solution of the Maori land problem throughout the country today.
In the beginning, incorporations were communal enterprises. The owners, more often than not, were members of the one family who would meet and discuss and make decisions for themselves. Tribal authority and co-operation were manifest in all their undertakings.
Today, however, incorporations resemble private companies far more than communal enterprises. The owners of the blocks no longer live in communities; the incorporations are big business, huge sums of money are involved, work is done by paid labour and the difficult task of management and keeping of accounts is in the hands of paid servants. The incorporations reach a high state of business acumen and ability with an intelligent grasp of the problems involved. Trading banks have financed the Maori Incorporations for a number of years. Many bodies Corporate have been set up to take over control of lands formerly administered by the Maori Trustee. In the Aotea district the 12,000 acre Morikau block has been released.
Incorporations, as has been already pointed out, were made legal by the Maori Land Act of 1909. Subsequent legislation has consolidated their position bringing them more into line to conform with European business principles and practices. The Maori Affairs Act of 1953 (Part 22) tightened up many of the provisions. The Act provides for Incorporations of owners of Maori land where the beneficiaries in the estate number more than three persons. An application is lodged with the Registrar of the Maori Land Court to grant the incorporation and to state the purpose for which it is formed. Provision is made for enterprises other than farming. Not less than half of the owners must agree to the incorporation and once formed holds it in trust for the owners in accordance with their interests in the land. The incorporation can be extended to include certain other areas. There is power to exclude other areas and separate bodies corporate could amalgamate if they so desired.
The Act sets out how revenue is to be applied after administration costs, rates, taxes, repayments on loans and any other requirements for purposes that the body corporate may authorize are paid. The residue is to go to the shareholders. Money can be invested and loans granted but, only in the former, in Government securities or debentures or in local authorities, and in the latter in loans by mortgage in any real property. No loans are given to members of the Committees of Management or to one of the incorporated owners. Accounts are to be audited and lodged with the Maori Land Court for public inspection.
Committees of Management are to be of not less than three and not more than eleven persons. They hold office for three years (one-third elected every year) and are appointed subject to an order from the Maori Land Court. Reasonable travelling expenses are allowed and any fees paid to the Committees of Management can only be authorized by a general meeting of the owners. Voting is by share interests, not heads. Proxy voting is allowed but no committee member may be proxy for another member nor can a proxy holder be elected to the committee. The Maori Land Court acts as registrar of the body corporate, holds the lists of owners, assets and all other particulars as well as fixing a quorum for general meetings.
The Maori Incorporated Owners Regulation 1955 lays down the rules for elections of Committees of Management, the dates of the elections, the conduct of general meetings and proxy voting. The register of Incorporated owners includes the names and sexes of the equitable owners, trustees for any minors, relative interests in the land and the addresses of the owners.
* This article is part of one of the “data papers” distributed at the Young Maori Leaders Conference and reprinted with the permission of the Organizers.
The shareholders in the body corporate are the collective owners in the land. It is clear that the Act safeguards their interests as any fees or any distribution of profits is only possible when authorized by a general meeting. It appears that the Maori Land Court can withhold the appointment of committees of management as the members are subject to its approval. It appears also that members of these committees of management need not be beneficiary owners within the block. The shareholders in the land who make the decisions concerning any distribution of the profits in this respect have a different function from those in a joint stock company in which the directors recommend a dividend which the shareholders may adjust only downward.
The Act, by providing for enterprises other than farming, by stating the purposes for which it is formed has opened the door to other pursuits connected with the land. The Puketapu Incorporation which is engaged in large-scale timber milling operations shows the extent to which incorporations can enter into propositions other than farming. It is envisaged in this case that as the timber is worked out the land is developed for farm settlement and any land unsuitable for this purpose can be utilized in a scheme for re-afforestation.
The Maori character of the incorporations is being preserved. The family or tribe are the shareholders, their shares are their relative interests in the ancestral lands they have inherited. The continued use of the Maori Land Court, instead of the Registrar of Companies, keeps alive this Maori character.
Under the 1953 Maori Affairs Act, the Maori Trustee may buy what is known as uneconomic interests. These shares are of a value of less than £25, but he is bound to offer these shares first to the body corporate as a whole. If the body corporate does not want to buy them the Maori Trustee may sell to any owner in the incorporation but the law does not allow him to sell to outsiders. Incorporating Maori land ensures that it always remains within the family or tribal group, nor can there, so far, be any possibility of alienations.
Lands, owned by communities and administered by incorporations, are used to a great extent to provide amenities for their shareholders. Housing for their shareholders is one of these. A large Wairoa Incorporation provides houses for its workers who are also beneficiaries. A settlement has sprung up dependent upon the work on the Incorporation which has its own school. Special rates for timber for housing purposes are provided by another Incorporation.
They cater for and foster the education of promising youths and girls. A group of Incorporations in the Wairoa district have inaugurated a Farm Training Scheme whereby selected youths are sent to an accredited agricultural school. They are assured of employment after training, on the incorporated blocks. Any particular abilities they have shown during their training is noted. Thus a youth showing aptitude in animal husbandry or another youth in farm machinery could well take over the control and application of these highly specialized aspects of farming. While there is close co-operation with the Department of Agriculture and the veterinary service it is hoped that more young Maoris may take up veterinary work and it would appear that the Wairoa incorporations are prepared to finance such a step. There is no reason to prevent incorporations engaged in other propositions from providing finance to further any specialized knowledge in the industry in which it is engaged.
The provisions of education grants looms largely in the activities in the incorporations. There is little doubt that they recognize the importance of training and education of their people to take up responsible positions. A cluster of Incorporations in the Wairoa district has evolved a system whereby one of the blocks operates an imprest account for works which might be called Maori welfare. These include education grants and the support of the marae complex of the Maori social system. Each of the other blocks pay into the central one their share of the moneys required for these purposes. (A schedule of the month's accounts, which shows the extensiveness of the undertaking, will be available at the Conference.) A bulk store is also operated which provides the blocks with their larger requirements such as fertilizers and fencing materials.
Group buying of stock replacements and requirements is carried on extensively. There does not appear to be as yet any large-scale attempt to develop a breeding farm for this purpose. This is a highly-skilled and long-term operation and, although the Mangatu Incorporation has started on something of this nature, (a bull bred by this incorporation was Supreme Champion of the Poverty Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Association Show a few years ago) it will be many years before well-bred stock replacements can be produced in sufficient numbers to satisfy all the demands of the incorporations on the East Coast. Meanwhile the stock-breeders in the Manawatu and other parts of the country find a ready market with the incorporations.
There is to be found today a large number of Maoris who are absentee land-lords. The money obtained from their shares in the blocks are insufficient to keep them. As a result they are forced to do other forms of work and tend to move away from their home districts. A relatively small number of the owners can be employed within the framework of the incorporations. Perhaps some consideration may have to be given to the provision of finance for small ventures in trade and business for the beneficial owners. But there does not seem to be any provision in the Act for loans of this nature. Nor does there seem to be any attempt to attract large industries to
⋆ ⋆ ⋆
NEW BOOKS IN BRIEF
Last year was a vintage year for books on the Maori. Some of these books (John Grace's Tuwharetoa and Leo Fowler's novel on Te Kooti) will be discussed at length in our next issue.
A small work by James Cowan, written in the early thirties, was published by A. H. and A. W. Reed under the title of The Caltex Book of Maori Lore (price, 4/6). Originally written for the Texas Company, a predecessor of Caltex, it had remained unprinted until now. A brief popular survey of the Maori ancient and modern, attractively illustrated by Dennis Turner, it should prove useful for anyone in search in an introduction. Mr Bruce Palmer, until recently co-editor of the Polynesian Journal, has edited the text with the aim of bringing the facts up to date and incorporating the latest scientific discoveries.
The work shows again the late James Cowan's breadth of knowledge of the Maori. On such matters as Maori warfare he was a considerable expert; the little chapter on ‘The Maori in War’ is excellent. On other topics however his knowledge was unsystematic; his method of filling the gaps was to tell an anecdote, which he could do extremely well, and leaving the subject otherwise untreated. Such is his approach to the tangi in this book. He does not therefore produce an entirely adequate summary of the culture as a whole.
Mr Palmer attempted an almost impossible task in his revision. As the text stands now, it is often hard to know whether any view is Cowan's own or the editor's. For instance, p. 21: “The older spirit is now partially revived, and legislation during the last five decades has been based largely on the tribal system which encouraged persistence in industrial effort.” It would be unfair to take the late Mr Cowan to task for this strange statement, because when he wrote it it had elements of truth; nor could we complain to Mr Palmer, for he did nothing except change the word ‘two’ or ‘three’ to ‘five’. Similarly we wonder whose is the responsibility for saying that there are large wheat cultivations at Ratana Pa; at the time that Mr Cowan wrote about them, they undoubtedly existed.
I think it would have been better to leave the text unchanged and confine editing to footnotes and possibly a concluding chapter.
Another welcome addition to the Maori bookshelf is the reprint of John Gorst's The Maori King by Paul's Book Arcade (price 25/-), edited by Dr Keith Sinclair. Like any historical work written so long ago (1864), Gorst is outdated here and there, especially in his persistent theme that the Maoris were to blame for the fight over the ‘Waitara Purchase’. Historians today are agreed that Wiremu Kingi was within his rights in opposing the sale of this land, but Gorst accepted the views of the colonists on this matter.
Such blemishes are greatly outweighed by Gorst's deep insight into the King movement and his keen understanding of the King Maker and other Waikato personalities who were good friends of his. He saw the true motives of the Maori people, enumerating three main causes of the Maori wars. These include the conflict over land and the lack of Maori representation in Parliament, but as most important cause Gorst mentions racial prejudice, the slighting of the Maori people by many of the European settlers of that time. On this he writes a brilliant passage. It is very pleasing indeed that this important New Zealand classic is again available. Dr Sinclair's editing is most helpful.
Michael Turnbull's The New Zealand Bubble (Price Milburn & Co., 5/-) covers ground similar to John Miller's Early Victorian New Zealand. It discusses the work of E. G. Wakefield and the New Zealand Company in the 1840's. His judgment on the Company is very similar to Miller's: he thinks it was an astute commercial enterprise, conducted without any particular regard for the European settlers or the Maori landowners. The greater part of his book is devoted to the European aspect; on Maori land purchases little new material is offered. Like Miller, Turnbull places the blame for the Wairau massacre on the company's officials and the Nelson settlers themselves.
Two other important recent reprints are: The Exploration of New Zealand by W. G. McClymont and New Zealand Literature by E. H. McCormick, both from the Oxford University Press. The former of these books (price 21/-) describes how New Zealand was explored by European missionaries, sealers and traders in the early part of last century. Concentrating less on the navigators than on the travellers inland, he describes the journeys of early missionaries, traders and scientists, thus providing many new clues for the student of Maori-pakeha contacts. The explorer is a rather special person who is not content to stay in settled areas, but always seeks unknown and hazardous places, partly impelled by a practical pursuit like trading, preaching or botanizing, but partly also by the pure love of
exploring. Such men were Colenso, Dieffenbach, Polack, Bidwill.
Mr McCormick's book on New Zealand literature, like Mr McClymont's, was first published in 1940, but here the new edition (price 22/6) contains much new material on literature of the last twenty years. Earlier chapters give a good summary of the literature that came out of the earliest Maori-pakeha contacts—Cook, Nicholas, Marsden, Earle, Polack, Wakefield. Mr McCormick considers Dieffenbach has too often been neglected, and gives high praise to Angas Savage Life and Scenes. Shortland is described as a ‘highly cultivated mind’ who ‘anticipated the methods and many of the conclusions of modern anthropology’. Coming to the modern period, Mr McCormick gives brief and usually very informative descriptions of New Zealand's recent and living writers in prose and poetry, extremely useful for those desiring an introduction to this country's literature.
New Zealand, a Regional View, by Cumberland and Fox (Whitcombe and Tombs, 18/6) is a useful geography textbook for high school pupils and for adults. Greta Stevenson A Book of Ferns is a handy reference work, but is no full guide to the Maori names for the ferns.
The “Horse of the Year” award at the Royal Show, Palmerston North, was won last November by Miss Koria Teki and her sister Pauline, aged 11, on their light horse, Blaze. The Misses Teki are from Wanganui.
With her sister Pauline, Miss Teki has competed in many shows. Koria Teki rides in the saddle, while 11-year-old Pauline rides bareback behind her.
There were many gasps from the crowd as the horse took the first fence, momentarily leaving the bareback passenger a foot or so in the air. In each case she made an accurate land, even after the last two fences, taken in quick succession, had thrown her more than a foot above the horse's back. She retained her pose only by a very firm grasp of her sister's hips.
The applause at the end of the exhibition was deafening. It hardly needed the official announcement to tell everybody that the Teki sisters had won the competition. It was regarded as a fitting and spectacular climax to the Royal Show.
these areas to absorb the not fully employed labour potential in these communities. The bodies corporate would need to provide some kind of incentive for their smaller shareholders although this, in part, is taken care of by education grants.
Even though most of the incorporated blocks on the East Coast and other parts of New Zealand are large it would appear that experts view them as being unsuitable for subdivision and closer settlement. The contour of the land, the difficulty of access, the differences in soil fertility, and the large number of owners are contributing factors. Again any closer subdivision would be tantamount to many of the owners losing their land as a result of the ‘uneconomic interests’ portion of the 1953 Act. The concern of the owners seems to be to preserve their interests in their land and the only sure way is to incorporate. It is possible, however, that with the years to come Maoris may ensure that there is less fragmentation of the title by leaving their shares to one member of the family rather than to all, as is happening and has happened in the past.
The Maori incorporation is a force in New Zealand business today. But there have been some failures principally through poor accounting and secretarial administration, struggles for power among conflicting factions and assumption of power by dominant personalities. Though these difficulties may not be entirely overcome, they have become, in its modern conception at least, an efficient instrument for using profitably much of the lands and the forest still held by Maori owners in common.