NZ Race Relations

Page 6 – Related topics

This page includes links to features and content in New Zealand History online relevant to the a study of some of the key interactions between Māori and Pakeha in the twentieth century.


Understanding the relationship between Māori and Pākehā in the 20th century requires some sense of what happened during the century before. Those seeking a more in-depth account of the 19th century will find the following material in New Zealand History online useful:

If you are looking for an overview of the 19th century then this overview is a good place to start. The 19th century is broken into three distinct time periods which trace some of the major developments in the relationship between Māori and Pākehā.

1. The relationship between Māori and Pākehā before the Second World War

In 1912 there was clear evidence of a recovery in the Māori population. This challenged the previous policy of ‘smoothing the dying pillow’. The place of Māori in ‘mainstream New Zealand society’ was soon called into question with regards to Māori participation in the First World War. The war, the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the Great Depression of the 1930s had a massive impact on both Māori and Pākehā communities. For Māori in particular the challenges of this period required new approaches as exemplified by the differing leadership styles of Rua, Ngata, Ratana and Te Puea.

2. The effects of the Second World War and increasing urbanisation of Māori at this time on race relations

Māori participation in the Second World War and in particular the exploits of the Māori Battalion and the Maori War Effort Organisation did much to convince many Pākehā of the contribution Māori could make to wider New Zealand society. Māori urbanisation as a consequence of the war resulted in some of the most profound changes to Māori lifestyles since early colonial times. The impact of the urban, Pākehā-centred environment on the Mäori whānau and way of life brought about a number of community and government responses in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Note also www.28Mā This site was launched in 2009 and is dedicated to the men who served with New Zealand’s 28th (Māori) Battalion during the Second World War, and to their whānau and friends.

3. Key issues in race relations after 1960

A number of issues faced by Māori during the 1960s and 1970s resulted in the emergence of new Māori urban leadership and organisations. Issues such as the historic loss of Māori land, the retention of language and culture, education and employment were of particular concern. A number of highly visible protests helped bring these matters to the attention of mainstream New Zealand society and put Māori issue on the political agenda.

Other resources from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand also has excellent resources on Māori New Zealanders. The material here highlights the different experiences of each iwi post-contact. It also illustrates the dangers in making sweeping generalisations about the experiences of all Māori. As the loss of Māori land plays a major part in this topic the section in Te Ara, Te tango whenua - Māori land alienation is particularly relevant.

How to cite this page

'Related topics', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 28-Jan-2015

Community contributions

2 comment has been posted about Related topics

What do you know?

lisa tanu

Posted: 06 Oct 2015

hi i am wondering if you have any information about any sub youth cultures back in the 1950s would appreciate anything to do with rangatahi back then, what did for fun etc.