The oldest of all Maori organisations with a whakapapa spanning more than a century"
There is a long history behind the formation of the New Zealand Māori Council as part of the long Māori struggle for autonomy. The Māori Council’s system can be traced back to the Kotahitanga movement and the Māori parliaments in the 1800s. In 1900 Sir James Carroll was able to get a statute to establish Councils’ at a papakainga level. Government would not recognise the need for Māori organisation at a national or district level.
This changed in 1945 when the Councils’ set up for the war effort were reorganised into District Māori Councils. Government again refused to recognise a national Māori body which might lead to “Māori nationalism”.
In 1962 the break-through occurred when the New Zealand Māori Council was established as a national body.
The New Zealand Maori Council was set up under the Maori Community Development Act in 1962 to advocate for Maori at the national level. As the political environment of Aotearoa continues to evolve, Councils role is more important than ever. So too is the need to remain vigilant to ensure Maori interests are protected.
The New Zealand Maori Council also, Te Kaunihera Maori o Aoteaora, was created by the Maori Welfare Act 1962 (renamed the Maori Community Development Act 1962 by the Maori Purposes Act 1979) The council has a proud 50-year record advocating for Maori interests. The council has continuously exerted pressure on governments to protect Treaty of Waitangi rights with policies that further partnership, protection, consultation and compensation for Maori. This has achieved significant results for Maori in terms of land, forestry, fisheries, language and radio frequency spectrum. The unique feature of the NZ Maori Council is its statutory mandate to work for and on behalf of the greater Maori community.
It is formed from an executive and representatives from 16 District Māori councils. Currently the executive committee is chaired by Henare Mason. The council has advocated for Maori interests for over 50 years including involvement in a number of Treaty of Waitangi disputes, representing Māori who wish to be dealt with altogether, rather than iwi by iwi; it frequently acts as the legal entity representing disparate groups of iwi and hapū.