Star Wars and Māori land wars

Star Wars the Force Awakens opened up this holiday season. How like my Māori ancestors in our battle against the British colonial forces were General Leia and Jedi knights!

In 1868 at Tauranga-ika in Taranaki  Aōtearoa, New Zealand, led by our own General Titokwaru and his lieutenants, my Māori ancestors were far out-numbered by the British colonial forces, yet we defeated them.

One battle victory however was not enough to stop 1.25 million acres of our Taranaki land being taken, nor did it stop the thousands of immigrants mostly from the United Kingdom who’s arrival made Māori, the minority.

In the simplistic yet great escapism of Star Wars the Force Awakens the battle of good versus evil of the First Order is clear cut.

In 2016, just over 150 years after the wrongful confiscation of 1.25 million acres of Taranaki Māori land – the new Māori land bill due to come into law is not so easy to decipher – what force will it awaken? 

Check out Screen Natives – my newly launched movie review of the actual ‘Star Wars the Force Awakens’ here.

Waiheke island 2013

I’m going to declare my interest, I am a Māori land owner.

A cursory wander thru cyber land files reveals in 2013 the NZ Law Society published their response to the bill including their concerns that the bill was being pushed thru.

The lead claimants opposing the new bill issued statements in December 2015 that the bill  is not being driven by Māori landowners, but by the government.

But surely all Māori landowners have the right to be able to raise capital against the land and use our communal land as we wish.

So what if that’s to develop and well, develop and perhaps develop? As it turns out we can already do this, as per Parininihi ki Waitōtara incorporation (PKW) ‘which was estimated to be worth approximately $5 million at establishment – is now worth $250 million’ 1

We are part of the 9000 shareholders in PKW but our yearly dividend, due to the size of our share is minuscule.  Including PKW and all our other Māori land shares we get around $50 per year in payments and that’s then divided by three, so around $17 each a year! And we’ve never lived on any of the blocks that we share.

Some of my cousins have done the trek home to our rural marae, built homes on our shared land blocks and its worked out for them. They’re actually the smart ones as with land prices in the big smoke making millionaires of all house owners in Auckland, our largest city, they’re sitting sweet. Sweeter than, sweet as.

So why do I feel uneasy about the new Māori land bill ‘unlocking the potential’ of my current $17 per year return from our land? Don’t I want my children and my children’s children to reap the potential $17.50c per year benefit that the new land reform bill promises?

Perhaps it’s finally time to get my Nanny shareholder groove on and take active interest in the various Māori land court hearings, Annual general meetings, marae kōmiti, like my kaumatua have done and continue to do so.

Just like Luke Skywalker and his troubles – on the new Māori land bill we will just have to wait and see the next instalment.

He tangata, He whenua. He Oranga. –  Our well-being is our people and land.





1 – Dion Tuuta CEO PKW Pg 11, Whenua Magazine, Issue 16, December 2015



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