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No. 31 (June 1960)
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The Improvement of Maori Land Titles

CONVERSION

This is the fourth of our series of articles to explain the intricacies of Maori land titles. The Young Leaders Conference considered that more information should be available to the average man. Anyone who seeks further knowledge should send us his questions.

Ko te tuawha tenei o nga korero hei whakamarama i nga uauatanga o nga Taitara Whenua Maori. Ko te tono hoki a te hui a nga Kaihautu o Te Rangatahi kia pera noa atu te puta o nga whakamarama penei. Me ahu mai nga patai ki Te Ao Hou.

I te putanga tuatahi o enei korero ka whakamaramatia te ture i mua atu i 1953 a ko te putanga tuarua tuatoru ko nga korero mo nga mahi whakamoni paanga maramara i waenganui i nga whanaunga tata a mo te ture tekau pauna. Kua paenga ake nga korero mo nga uauatanga o te takimano o te takitini kei nga taitara whenua me matakitaki ake inaianei ki ko ake.

I roto o nga tau ko ta Te Kooti he wawahi a nga whenua Maori taitara motuhake i runga i te whakahau a te hunga no ratou aua whenua a i aua wa ko ta Te Kooti whakaaro ko ia ra te mea tika. I ata whakaarotia hoki i aua wa ko te puta o te oranga mo nga kainoho o aua whenua te tino mea hei whainga. No muri mai nei ka kitea ko nga wawahanga o aua ra kua noho hei mea whakahaehae kua pakupaku rawa a kaore e ora te tangata e whakanoho ki runga. Ko te nuinga o aua wawahanga e kore e taea te whakanohonoho he pakupaku rawa mo nga mahi ahuwhenua a he nunui rawa hei tuunga whare noa.

Ko te nuinga o aua wawahanga ina noa ake te whaiti engari he koroa a i huaina he “fiddle strings” he tuaina whira. Ko enei wawahanga toro mai i te moana ki whea nei ki runga maunga ki nga wahi ngaherehere. Ko te whakaaro. o Te Kooti Whenua Maori o aua wa he mahi i runga.

 

In our first instalment we dealt with the law as it stood before 1953 and the second and third articles discussed conversion family arrangements and the £10 rule. Having dealt fairly fully with the problem of multiple ownership and the measures which have been devised to overcome it, we now touch on the second problem.

Over the years Maori freehold land has been sub-divided by the Courts to suit the wishes of the owners, or what no doubt appeared to the Court to be, at the time, the best interests of the owners. In making such subdivisions the Courts have been guided from time to time by the economic and social conditions prevailing. Although such conditions are now radically different from those of the times when the partitions were made, the old subdivisions still exist and it is not too much to say that not only Maori land-owners but the country in general is suffering greatly as a result of subdivisions which are unsatisfactory and uneconomic in the light of modern conditions. Most of these are difficult to use fully and productively and some are impossible to use properly because they are either far too small to make [ unclear: ] desirable and economic farming area or far too large for a convenient and satisfactory house site.

Many of the old subdivisions are narrow pieces of land of greatly disproportionate depth and are sometimes called “fiddle strings”. Some of these extend from the sea coast to the high bush hinterland. No doubt the Courts in subdividing land in this fashion did so in the desire to be as fair as possible to all the owners by giving each of them,

 
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o te mahi tika he whakarato i te whenua ki nga tangata takitahi ki nga whanau ranei i runga i tenei whakaaro na, kia whiwhi te katoa i tetahi wahi o te takutai mo nga mahi kaimoana, i tetahi wahi raorao hei nohonga, a me etahi wahi hoki o nga maunga o nga ngaherehere. No muri mai nei ka kitea kua he ia aua momo wawahanga, haunga te nui o te whenua, engari ko te mahi taiapa ko nga mahi ruuri kore i arikarika te utu a ko etahi ano kaore he urunga atu i whakaritea e te ture. Kua tini nga wawahanga penei a kua takimano te hunga kei roto i aua wawahanga ina noa ake nei nga eka kaore te taea e taua hunga takimano te ahuwhenua a kua kore take hoki mo te riihi. Kua kiia ake ra he whakahaehae aua wawahanga kua taumahatia i nga moni reiti o roto i nga tau a kua tipungia e te huhua o te otaota. Kei whea mai nei te uauatanga kua takimano te hunga kei roto i nga taitara ko nga hea o te tangata kotahi ina noa ake.

Kei nga ture o mua atu o Te Ture o te tau 1953 e takoto ana nga mana whakakore i nga wawahanga kua kore take penei i enei kua whakamaramatia ake nei kia taea ai aua whenua te whakamahi. Ka oti nga wawahanga te whakakore kei reira nga ture hei whaka-whiti-whiti hei whakatikatika hei wawahi hou mehemea i pirangitia kia peratia. He takitahi te hunga i whai kia whaka mahia aua ture a ko nga mea ano i tahuri ki te whakatikatika kua noho tika o ratou na whenua. Kei te mohiotia iho nga uauatanga ko te tokomaha o te hunga no ratou nga whenua a ko te marara hoki o te noho a taua hunga.

Ka puta ko te Ture o te tau 1953 ka tuhia ano aua ture whakatikatika wawahanga whenua taitara motuhake ki roto apiti atu hoki ki era ka whakawhiwhia Te Kooti ki te mana whakawhaiti i nga taitara o nga whenua e patata ana ki aua wehewehenga mehemea ma reira ka pai ai te whakamahi te whakanohonoho o aua whenua. Inatata nei ka whakamahia tenei wahanga o te ture e Te Kooti i tu ki Wanganui hei Whakatikatika i taua ono poraka whenua he uaua hoki te whakahuihui i te hunga e whai paanga ana ki nga poraka takitahi. I takoto te kupu a te kaitono ki te aroaro o Te Kooti e kore e pa he raruraru ana whakakotahitia aua poraka e ono. Ma te patata anake o nga poraka e taea ai te whakamahi tenei wahanga o te ture. E taea ana hoki te wawahi te whakakotahitanga o etahi poraka ahakoa kaore aua poraka i te patata a ehara ranei i te mea no te hunga kotahi.

Kua maro te whakaaro o Te Kooti e kore ia e tapoko ki te he ara mehemea ka kitea iho ma te wehewehe paanga ka kore take te whenua mo te mahi ahuwhenua mo te whakanohonoho e kore e whakaaetia te wehewehe i taua whenua ara ka whai Te Kooti i te ture i mea ai kei a ia ano te tikanga. I peneitia e Te Kooti tetahi take inatata nei i takoto ki tona aroaro i Taranaki. Ka mate te wahine ra ka mahue iho tana wira e

 
 

or each group, a piece of the beach with access to fishing, a piece of the flat, some of the road frontage (if any), a portion of the hill and some of the high timber country beyond. In this day and age such partitions are quite unsuitable in themselves for farming, even though they are large enough. Among other things they cannot conveniently be divided into paddocks and the cost of survey and fencing are very high and sometimes prohibitive. Some even have no legal access. On the other hand there are innumerable small areas of a few acres, owned in many cases by numerous people, which in themselves are unsuitable for use by the owners or for leasing. Often subdivisions of this kind are a burden rather than an asset, as rates have to be paid and the land must be kept free of noxious weeds. The difficulties arising from this source are often greater than those from multiple ownership, but in almost all cases the two evils exist together, an unsatisfactory subdivision being owned by many people in very small shares.

For many years prior to the passing of the 1953 Act it was possible for unsatisfactory subdivisions to be cancelled so that the new title covered a larger and more workable area. It was also possible, following cancellation, for an arranged or combined partition to be made affecting several separate blocks whether or not those blocks adjoined each other. Not enough owners have taken advantage of this, but in some districts, encouraged by the Court, very good progress has been made. No doubt one of the problems preventing owners taking the initiative was the difficulty of getting anything approaching agreement among their numerous co-owners, many of whom were no longer resident near the land.

The 1953 Act continued this provision and also contains power for the Court to amalgamate the titles of adjoining lands where it considers that by so doing the land can be more economically worked or more easily dealt with. Such an order was recently made in the Wanganui Court in respect of six adjoining blocks and it was done so that a lease of the land could be facilitated because it had been found impossible to obtain a quorum for a meeting of owners of each of the six blocks separately. The Court was assured by the applicant that there would be no such difficulty if the six blocks became one. It should be noted that this procedure of amalgamating titles can only be followed where the blocks adjoin each other, but partitions of combined areas can still also be made whether or not any of the blocks concerned adjoin or are in common ownership, or whether or not the blocks are subdivisions of the same original block.

The Court has resolutely set itself against continuing or repeating the errors of the past with regard to unsuitable partitions and thus follows the letter and spirit of the new Act which gives it a discretion to refuse to partition where it considers that it would be contrary to the public interest or to the interest of the owners or other persons

 
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whakaingoa ana kia tukua tona whenua ki tetahi tokorua e mea eke ki tetahi e mea eka ki tetahi kaore i whakaaetia te wehewehe i runga i ta te tupapaku i whakarite ai.

Ko te wehewehe whenua he mea inaianei e ata tirotirohia ana e Te Kooti i runga i nga wariu a i [ unclear: ] runga hoki i nga ture a te Kauti Kaunihera me era tu ropu.

 

concerned. As an illustration of this the Court, after giving the matter much thought, recently refused to give full effect to a Taranaki partition which was required before a devise of land in a will could become effective. The deceased had by her will left a block of land to two sets of people in defined shares. She had therefore in effect attempted to partition the land herself at the succession point. With the consent of the beneficiary the area devised which was clearly too big for its intended purpose was reduced by the Court to one-sixth of its original size.

It is relevant to note also that apart from considering the purpose of a partition with special reference to the proposed use of the subdivision, the Court before partitioning requires valuations of the proposed sections and the consents of as many as possible of the major owners. In considering whether the proposed subdivision is in the public interest the requirements of the appropriate local body, with special regard to any planning scheme operating in the district, have also to be considered.

HUI TOOPU AT ROTORUA

Some five thousand Maori people from most parts of New Zealand attended the annual Hui Toopu of the Church of England, Waiapu Diocese, in Rotorua last month. It was the biggest Hui Toopu yet held. Visitors were lavish in their praise of the extremely high standard of organisation achieved by those running the hui. The concentrated programme, involving large numbers, was presented in a remarkably smooth manner. The weekend programme was a varied one, featuring church services, cultural competitions, concert and talent quests, and a youth dance. The visiting delegations were made up mostly of youth groups and young people.

The cultural competition aggregate was won by the well-known Hikurangi group under Mr George Reedy. This combination won several events, including the action song, choral and haka competitions.

One of the features of the hui was the initial performance of the anthem “Maranga” by Lieut. Colonel Awatere. It was sung by a group of secondary school pupils and adults from Auckland under the conductorship of the composer. The item received an enthusiastic reception. This anthem was inspired by the death of 2nd.-Lieut. Moana Ngarimu, V.C., in the Western Desert.

Another feature of the hui was the large contingent from the Wellington Diocese. This group 200 strong, gave a mass performance of a variety of cultural items. The main service of the hui was conducted on Sunday, May 15, by the Rt. Rev. W. N. Panapa, Bishop of Aotearoa.

Addressing the Hutt Rotary Club recently, the Assistant Controller of Maori Welfare, Mr N. P. K. Puriri, described some of the difficulties of the Maori people.

Noting the growing population in New Zealand, Mr Puriri said that 60 to 65 per cent were under 21. Many were moving into towns and cities where “quite a number get into trouble.”

“The basic problem,” he said, “is that many come from poor homes that have not the tradition of your way of life, of your knowledge of economics and your background of occupations and vocations.”

The present status of the Maori was mainly a question of likes and dislikes, but he expressed pleasure in saying that in Wellington and the Hutt, where there were many opportunities, many young Maoris were trade apprentices, and in the Hutt Valley there were good housing facilities for Maoris.

The Welfare Division encouraged Maoris to join various organisations where possible, but there was a tendency for people from rural areas to move and orbit round the people they knew.

“Where Maoris are breaking into new fields, they are pioneering the way for other Maoris,” said Mr Puriri. “People are ready to be critical of the Maori population, but the behaviour of young people is only a reflection of the society they are living in. Youngsters, given the proper assistance, will find their niche in the community.”