Ecologically, humans are new, very new, in the New Zealand environment. Homo sapiens is an African species that only began to disperse around the world during the ebbs and flows of the last Ice Age, within the past 100,000 years (4,000 generations) (Cavalli-Sforza, 1991; Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1993 and 1994; Penny et al., 1995; Stringer and McKie, 1996; Wilson and Cann, 1992). Asia, Melanesia and Australia were colonised by 50-60,000 years ago (roughly 2,400 generations), Europe by 35-40,000 years ago (about 1,600 generations), and the Americas by at least 15,000 years ago (some 600 generations). In this epic dispersal, which gave us the world's variety of languages, cultures, mythologies and physical diversity, New Zealand was the last major stopping point. The Polynesian ancestors of the Māori people began arriving here less than 30 generations ago (see Box 2.1).
New Zealand's original settlers may have numbered anywhere from 50 to 500, but population growth and more recent large-scale immigration from Europe and elsewhere have added considerably to the population since then. Today, New Zealand has about 3.6 million people and these are expected to reach between 4.3 and 5.4 million by A.D. 2031 (Statistics New Zealand, 1994b). Population projections are inherently uncertain, but assuming 'medium' fertility (i.e. a continuation of the present average of 2 children per woman) and average net immigration of some 5,000 per year, the population in 2031 will reach about 4.6 million-with a considerably increased adult and elderly population but a fairly constant under-15 population (see Figure 2.2).
This represents a population increase of almost 30 percent, and a density increase from about 13 people per square kilometre to 17. By global standards these figures are low. The world's population is expected to increase from its current 5.8 billion (44 people per square kilometre) to just over 9 billion (70 per square kilometre) by 2031-an increase of nearly 60 percent (Brown and Kane, 1994; United Nations Population Fund, 1994). Most of this increase will be in poor countries that are already heavily populated and running short of farmable land. The result could be large-scale population movements from which New Zealand is unlikely to remain isolated. This may make the immigration assumptions above seem rather naive. If so, the population in 35 years may be higher than 5.4 million.
In 2031 the population is predicted to be around 4.6 million, with an increased adult and elderly population but a constant under 15 years old population.
Source: Statistics New Zealand
The environmental implications of population growth are, in one sense, easy to gauge. More people generally means more environmental pressure. However, it can also be argued that a larger population will provide a larger economy of scale with a bigger tax base and a larger marketplace from which to fund environmental protection services and technologies. Such services and technologies will be necessary because, as human numbers rise, so will the demand for water, energy and waste disposal services.
These pressures are more likely to be felt regionally than nationally because the population is very unevenly distributed. Half the people live in the upper North Island, a quarter live in the lower North Island and the remaining quarter live in the South Island (see Figure 2.2). For all New Zealand's rural landscapes and agricultural imagery, 85 percent of the population is concentrated in towns and cities, many of which, including the largest population centres in each island (i.e. Auckland and Christchurch), are prone to water supply shortages. Population increase has been particularly intense in the Auckland area, creating concerns not only about water supply but also waste management, coastal water quality and the spread of urban settlements over wetlands and high fertility farmland.
If sheer weight of numbers is one indicator of population pressures on the environment, the composition of the population is another. For example, the age structure of the population is changing. Although New Zealand has a comparatively young population the proportion of elderly is slowly increasing. This may have environmental implications, such as an increase in one person households, which may drive up household energy consumption, particularly heating. The increased demand for health care may compete with other public spending priorities, including the environment. The elderly will also be more reliant on motorised transport than younger people (though, on the other hand, they may wish to travel less). This may increase the demand for better public transport in urban areas but may also generate demand for road access into hitherto remote wilderness areas.
Ethnic diversity is another aspect of population composition that can have environmental implications. The cultural differences among groups can lead to different values, beliefs and practices on some environmental issues. Compassion for animals, for instance, is widespread in British culture and is a common element underlying many New Zealanders' concern for threatened birds, marine mammals and their habitats (though less so for fish, reptiles and invertebrates). On the other hand, the same compassion also underlies opposition to some forms of pest control (such as the myxomatosis virus for rabbits and cull operations on wild horses).
Many of New Zealand's pest animals and weeds were actually introduced by British immigrants wanting to pursue their traditional gardening, fishing and hunting activities. This practice was not confined to the last century. In recent decades, some groups of immigrant British anglers tried to propagate their home sport of "coarse fishing" by illegally releasing noxious fish into New Zealand lakes and rivers (McDowall, 1990). Attitudes and practices of distinctly British origin have therefore had both positive and negative influences on the New Zealand environment.
Some Asian groups in New Zealand have been criticised for practices that contravene environmental laws. For example, a 1995 survey of 30 traditional Chinese medicine shops in Auckland and Wellington found that half were selling illegally imported products derived from highly endangered species, such as musk deer, tigers, rhinoceroses and bears (Anderson, 1995). Ministry of Fisheries inspectors have reported that immigrant groups from Asia and contribute disproportionately to the over-harvesting of shellfish in the Auckland and Wellington areas (e.g. Weatherley, 1996).
The environmental values of the indigenous Māori culture often differ from those of European environmentalists. Māori, for example, put greater emphasis on the protection of places with ancestral and mythological associations, unlike non-Māori groups whose shorter histories here and imported mythologies provide fewer ancestral or religious connections to the environment. Māori also put greater emphasis on conservation for human use, particularly natural food-bearing potential, and relatively less on conservation for intrinsic or aesthetic value (Barrington, 1995; O'Regan, 1994; Jeffreys, 1995; King, 1996; Kirikiri and Nugent, 1995; Moller, 1996; Roberts et al., 1995; Taylor, 1994).
In 1991 85% of the New Zealand population lived in towns and cities with half of the population living north of Wanganui. A quarter of the population lived in the North Island from Wanganui south, and the remaining quarter lived in the South Island.
Cultural perceptions also differ in attitudes to water. Māori view water as a living thing, animated by a spiritual force, mauri, which pervades all of nature and can be easily defiled not only by pollution but by other actions (Douglas, 1984; McCan and McCan, 1990; Patrick, 1987; Taylor and Patrick, 1987). Similar beliefs are known from many other parts of the world, including India, the Americas and pre-Christian Europe (where their vestige survives in the Catholic tradition of holy water). However, few European New Zealanders share this view. The cultural difference means that Māori have tended to accord higher priority to wastewater discharge issues than have many mainstream environmentalists. It also means that perceptions of water quality can differ. Water that is chemically harmless can offend Māori sensibilities, while water that has passed through soil and therefore satisfies the Māori view on purity can contain contaminants such as nitrate (Hoare and Rowe, 1992).
At present, New Zealand's 3.6 million people can be classified ethnically into: European only (79 percent), Māori only (10 percent), Māori combined with European or other
(5 percent), Pacific Island groups (4 percent), Chinese (<2 percent), Indian (<1 percent) and other (<1 percent). These rather precise percentages understate the multiple ethnic origins of many people and the diverse range of cultures and languages encompassed by the smaller categories. Pacific Island cultures include those from Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and Tonga, while the Chinese and Indian categories also include a variety of languages and cultures.
The ethnic mix continues to evolve through both intermarriage and immigration. In 1974, the Government adopted a policy which ended unrestricted immigration from Britain and Ireland and set down common criteria for immigrants from all countries. This system was based on an Occupational Priority List (OPL) which allowed entry to people who had been offered jobs for which no New Zealanders were skilled. The OPL system lasted until 1991 when it was replaced by a new system based on two sets of criteria: a General Skills Category (also known as the points system) and a Business Investment Category.
The purpose of the new system was to attract not only labour skills, but also entrepreneurial skills and investment capital. It remained in place for four years and attracted high numbers of new immigrants, especially from north Asian countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea. It also brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the country, much of which was invested in real estate. Net migration over the period 1991-95 was 63,500, compared to a net migration loss of 35,000 in the previous five years (Bedford, 1996). In 1995, about 55 percent of the permanent and long-term immigrants were from Asian countries, about 32 percent were 'white nationalities' from Europe (mostly Britain and Ireland), Australia, North America and South Africa, and 13 percent were from elsewhere. In October 1995, the immigration criteria were changed yet again, with a renewed emphasis on English language competence among other things. Since then, immigration levels have fallen, especially from north Asia.
From linguistic and genetic studies, it is clear that the distant ancestors of the Polynesians came from Asia and spent some time in island Melanesia before entering the great ocean 2,000-3,000 years ago (Bellwood, 1991:Houghton, 1996; Gibbons, 1994; Green, 1994). Opinions differ on whether the ancestral Polynesians took the 'fast train' through Melanesia, sweeping through in just a few centuries, or spent thousands of years there, evolving and adapting over many generations. Whichever view is correct, the people who ultimately made the Pacific Islands their home were skilled sailors who also tended gardens, raised pigs and chickens and made pottery. This pottery, known as the Lapita culture, first appeared in the Bismarck Islands off Papua New Guinea around 3,500 years ago and reached Fiji, Tonga and Samoa by 2,000-2,500 years ago. Broadly similar pottery has been found in the Philippines, Marianas, and eastern Indonesia (Davidson, 1984).
Because the Melanesian islands were colonised by different groups from the Asian mainland as early as 40,000 years ago, researchers have wondered why it took so long for any of these groups to colonise the Pacific. One suggestion is that long ocean voyages could not occur until viable seacraft with sails were developed. Another suggestion is that physique may have been the limiting factor. Computer models show that long voyages in open canoes can be deadly for lightly-clad people because of body heat loss during the wet cold nights. But those whose bodies have a large mass relative to their surface area are less at risk. Among the world's peoples, the computer picked the large, muscular, Polynesians as the ones most likely to survive long sea voyages, suggesting that their physique evolved in response to ocean voyaging and that this, in turn, made more extensive oceanic migrations more viable (Houghton, 1996).
Fiji, Tonga and Samoa were settled first. The rest of the central Pacific appears to have been settled between about a.d. 300 and a.d. 900 following an expansion eastward from Samoa, probably to the Marquesas Islands and, from there, throughout the Pacific (Spriggs and Anderson, 1993). It is interesting to note that the Samoan island of Savai'i translates as Hawaiki or Hawai'i in the eastern Polynesian languages (Buck/Hiroa, 1949). Hawaiki is the legendary homeland of several Polynesian groups, including Māori. According to Buck/Hiroa, the island of Raiatea, near Tahiti, from which at least some Māori ancestors may have come, was also once known as Hawaiki. By a.d. 1,000 virtually all the Pacific Islands were occupied except for outliers such as the Tuamotus, Mangavera, Pitcairn and Henderson Islands, and the cold southwestern islands of Norfolk, the Kermadecs and New Zealand (Spriggs and Anderson, 1993). At some point, too, Polynesian seafarers reached the Americas and returned with the native American sweet potato, or kumara.
The Polynesian expansion throughout the Pacific has often been viewed as a desperate and chancy business, despite the people's own traditions that exploration and settlement were often planned. The traditional view is now receiving wider acceptance as more is learned about Polynesian seamanship and settlement patterns (Irwin, 1992; Finney, 1994; McGlone et al., 1994). Their vessels were very seaworthy and the people were skilled navigators, relying not only on stars and prevailing currents and winds, but the flight paths of migratory birds (e.g. petrels, shearwaters, shining cuckoos) and the thick clouds of foraging birdlife that surrounded islands for hundreds of kilometres out.
The density and diversity of Pacific birdlife is hard to imagine today because many birds are now extinct and the survivors' numbers are kept in check by people and other introduced species. Archaeological evidence shows that, before humans entered it, the Pacific was a seabird and seafood paradise, with two or three times more bird species than exist now. Shellfish, turtles and some coastal fish lived longer and grew bigger than they do now. The seabirds were not limited to offshore islets or inaccessible bluffs and cliffs. They covered all available space, teeming in the undergrowth, the trees, and all coastal areas. Because they grazed thousands of square kilometres of sea, they packed a huge amount of biomass into minimal land area.
So meat-rich were the islands, that discovering one would have been the prehistoric equivalent of winning a lottery, and a sufficient motive to mount regular voyages of exploration (McGlone et al., 1994). Many new settlers may have felt no need to take pigs, chickens and crop plants, being assured of an easy hunter-gatherer existence for several generations before wildlife depletion forced them to import these items from home islands. Following settlement, dramatic resource depletion usually occurred. At least a dozen uninhabited Pacific islands show evidence of past Polynesian settlement and seabird extinctions (Diamond, 1991).
The settlement of New Zealand may have followed this pattern. As the largest landmass in all of Polynesia, it was teeming with birdlife, seals and sea lions. The first settlers did not bring pigs and chickens, and Māori tradition suggests that the kumara was brought subsequently.
Theories about the first settlement of New Zealand have been widely debated for more than a century. A persistent belief of most European scholars has been that settlement was considerably earlier than indicated by Māori tradition. Last century a great effort was made by Victorian ethnologists to confirm this belief through study of the oral traditions. By selectively interpreting whakapapa (genealogies) and origin stories, not all of which were genuine, S. Percy Smith came up with the theory that New Zealand was discovered around a.d. 950 by a Tahitian called Kupe, and then settled following Kupe's directions in a.d.1150 by Toi and Whatonga. Finally, a Great Fleet of seven canoes arrived around a.d.1350 to complete the settlement.
This theory was widely believed until the 1970s when it was finally shot down by two different sorts of evidence, ethnology and archaeology. In 1976, Dr David Simmons published his painstaking reassessment of all the traditional sources on Kupe, Toi and Whatonga and the Fleet (Simmons, 1976). After carefully sorting authentic genealogies from bogus ones he found that they told a rather different, but consistent, story, a short story. Based on the average number of generations, none went back further than about a.d. 1300 Kupe, himself, dated back to the early 1300s. Toi and Whatonga were not immigrants at all, but lived in the Bay of Plenty in the late 1300s and early 1400s (though some more distant tribes placed them in the mythical homeland of Hawaiki about 20 generations earlier). The Fleet canoes did not all arrive at once, but came in small groups or singly. Some appeared to be migrations from one part of New Zealand to another. From all of this, however, Simmons was reluctant to conclude that New Zealand was actually settled in the 1300s. This is because archaeologists had found other evidence suggesting settlement as early as a.d. 800. Thus, the traditional accounts were relegated to the religious box where they have remained (e.g. Orbell, 1975, 1985).
The archaeological evidence for early settlement was based on radiocarbon dating, a technique for estimating the age of plant and animal remains (e.g. bone, wood, shells) from the amount of carbon decay that has occurred since death. When living organisms absorb carbon dioxide from the air, or from eating each other, the carbon atoms come in various forms, called isotopes. One of these, carbon-14 (14C), is quite unstable and decays into 13C and 12C at a fairly regular rate. After death, the organism stops taking in 14C, so its age can be estimated directly from the proportion of 14C remaining, relative to the other isotopes. Since the discovery of this technique in the 1950s, archaeologists have dated most New Zealand prehistoric sites and remains. While most date from the late 1300s on, some produced dates that seemed much earlier (Davidson, 1984).
Recently, however, the radiocarbon dates have been reassessed and, just as the first generation of ethnologists got it wrong, it now seems that the first generation of archaeologists did too. Careful reviews have found no reliable radiocarbon dates earlier than about a.d. 1250 (McFadgen et al., 1994; McFadgen, 1994; Anderson, 1991). Several factors led to the mistaken early dates, including historical fluctuations in the amount of each carbon isotope in the atmosphere, inbuilt statistical errors in the method used to calibrate the dates, and the phenomenon of 'inbuilt age' (McFadgen, 1982; McFadgen et al., 1994; Anderson, 1991). Inbuilt age affects samples containing wood residues, such as charred firewood, canoes, dwelling remains and even insect and rat remains. The carbon in these samples is often from trees that were many centuries old when humans used them or animals gnawed on them. Shells in estuarine areas or near coastal limestone deposits can also be affected by inbuilt age, and on Pacific islands they can also contain ancient carbon that has leached from coral reefs (McFadgen and Manning, 1990; Anderson, 1991). As a result the early dates for most archaeological sites are now being revised and the history of human settlement throughout the Pacific is getting shorter (Spriggs and Anderson, 1993).
Most archaeologists now accept that inbuilt age has distorted New Zealand's radiocarbon dates and that first settlement is unlikely to have occurred before about a.d. 1200, though a few may still hold to the possibility of earlier settlement (e.g. Sutton, 1994). Very few, however, seem to have come to terms with the statistical quirks in the dating method or the historical fluctuations in atmospheric carbon isotopes. The small number who are trying to correct these calibration distortions predict that the first settlement date may eventually turn out to be as recent as a.d. 1300-1350 - a date which corresponds with the traditional genealogies (McFadgen et al., 1994).
A recent report of 2,000-year-old rat bones has added some confusion to the picture, at least in the media, even though the bones were not accompanied by any evidence of early human settlement (Holdaway, 1996; Rudman 1996b). Rat bones are notoriously hard to date and, at this stage, the court is still out on their age as the Rafter Radiation Laboratory reviews the dates and the methodology. However, few, if any, archaeologists expect the rat bones to rewrite the emerging new view of New Zealand prehistory which shows human settlement to have been much more recent than previously thought and not a chance event but a deliberate and skilled achievement.
Linguistic and archaeological evidence suggests that the Polynesians who first colonised New Zealand came from central Polynesia (Davidson, 1984; Crawford, 1993; Biggs, 1994; Harlow, 1994). This is supported by genetic research on New Zealand's Pacific rats, or kiore, which are most closely related to rats in the Society Islands (e.g. Tahiti, Raiatea etc.) and the nearby southern Cook Islands (Matisoo-Smith, 1996; Rudman, 1996a). There seems little doubt that the voyages were planned and navigated. The sudden profusion of archaeological sites suggests that the settlers landed in various parts of the country over a relatively short period of time (McFadgen et al., 1994; McGlone et al., 1994).
At first, the abundance of meat from marine mammals and large birds probably allowed rapid population growth. Seals and moas bore the brunt of this heavy exploitation. However, once they began to decline, as they did by about a.d. 1500, the range of alternative food sources became more limited. The native plants are generally poor carbohydrate sources and the imported tropical plants, particularly kumara, only grew year round in the upper half of the North Island, and would not grow at all through much of the South Island. Although the first New Zealanders also ate the dogs and rats that they introduced, these animals are not herbivores and so were less inclined to convert leaves and grasses, which humans cannot digest, into meat, and more inclined to compete for more digestable food, such as birds and eggs.
Evidence from human skeletal remains shows that life was short and hard, despite the strong build of the people and the absence of infectious diseases. As in other preindustrial societies, the average age at death was around 30, with an estimated life expectancy of 45-50. Arthritis and spinal degeneration were common after age 25 and the small number who actually got beyond 40 to claim their allotted span had usually lost their teeth. From the small samples examined, tooth decay seems to have been more common in the early period when meat from seals and large birds was readily available. In the later period, tooth decay seems to have been replaced by tooth wear as vegetable fibre, primarily fern root, replaced meat in the diet (Houghton, 1980, 1996; Davidson, 1984).
Throughout most of the South Island and much of the North, the economy was largely based on hunting and gathering, with hunting being more common for tribes that ventured inland, and seafood gathering more common around the coast. Fishing was highly important everywhere, particularly for freshwater eels and, around the North Island and Cook Strait, coastal snapper.
Kumara gardening was also practised in the warmer areas, particularly the upper North Island where about 80 percent of the population lived. The process, known as swiddening, involved burning the forest edges and planting kumara in the ashes. After two or three seasons, the plots were surrendered to the fiercely growing bracken fern whose tangled root mass made further cultivation almost impossible (Cameron, 1961; Leach, 1980). A new kumara plot would be cleared while bracken root was harvested from the regenerating site. A decade or more later, when the bracken had been succeeded by light woodland, the site would be burnt off again for kumara.
Swiddening tends to be associated with small, impermanent, villages and this may explain why the Māori population often consisted of small groups frequently on the move within broad tribal areas. In some areas, however, where tribes were sufficiently powerful to resist raiders and territory loss, permanent gardens and settlements could be developed. Here, the soil was regularly renewed by adding sand and gravel to aerate it and perhaps suppress the regenerating bracken. Over the centuries, these Māori plaggen soils were built up to depths of 20-50 centimetres over large areas, particularly in the mid-Waikato basin (2,000 hectares), the Waimea Plains near Nelson (400 hectares) and in many coastal areas around the North Island and north-eastern South Island (McFadgen, 1982).
Although forest fires were occasionally ignited by lightning-strike throughout New Zealand's drier zones well before people came, fires became much more widespread and frequent after Māori settlement. Climatic conditions may have aided this process because the early centuries of Māori occupation seem to have coincided with a long dry period (Grant, 1994). By about a.d. 1600 the most vulnerable animals had become extinct or depleted, and much of the easily burned forest had been cleared and replaced by tussock, bracken and light scrub (see Chapter 8). For the next two centuries regenerating vegetation continued to be burnt. European settlers later intensified this process in converting vast areas to sheep pasture.
It is widely accepted that by about a.d. 1600 Māori society had entered a 'classical phase' in which territorial defence and tribal customs to allocate and regulate resource use became significant elements (Davidson, 1984). Different tribes developed customs for protecting historically significant sites (particularly ancestral burial grounds) and important food resources (e.g. some bird species, fish stocks, and shellfish gathering areas). Some sites were rendered tapu(sacred and off-limits), and some species were subject to rahui (temporary harvesting bans) or to complex tikanga Māori (harvesting protocols). These customs, combined with climatic factors and the inherent limitations of non-metal technology, contributed to a more stable relationship between Māori society and the environment for the next two centuries.
Fortified villages, or pa, were built in the upper North Island during this period, perhaps to defend valuable garden areas. Warfare which was probably always present to some degree, was rife by the time Europeans arrived in 1769. Cannibalism was also widely practiced, with enemies and slaves providing a rare, but prized, treat which only men were allowed to eat in most cases (Buck/Hiroa, 1949; Davidson, 1984; Flannery, 1994; Vayda, 1960).
Settlement patterns varied greatly, depending on the main means of getting food (i.e. gardening or gathering, with or without hunting or fishing) and whether war or peace prevailed. Most of the population clustered in the north where it was warmer, or clung to the coastline where kai moana (sea food) was readily available. When the British explorer, James Cook, arrived in 1769 he found settlements ranging from 300 to 500 households, some in dispersed hamlets, some in large pa and some in isolated households.
Cook's surgeon, Forster, estimated the total Māori population to be around 100,000 in 1769, of whom barely 2,000 were in the South Island. In the early 1800s, population estimates by missionaries and settlers, who tended to live in high density areas, ranged from 106,000 to as high as 200,000 or more (Department of Statistics, 1990). These days, archaeologists and demographers consider the lower figures more plausible (Davidson, 1984; Fox, 1983; Pool, 1992). A recent thorough review of the evidence concluded that "the population would have reached barely 100,000 people before it suffered the shock of European contact" (Pool, 1992). Another recent estimate, based on a range of archaeological evidence, puts the population at no more than 80,000 in 1769 (Anderson cited in Houghton, 1996).
Whatever its exact size when Cook arrived, the Māori population suffered its first impact in the 1790s as a result of European diseases and the acquisition of guns. Whether these introductions led to an immediate population decline is not known. To some extent, they may have been offset by better infant survival following the nutritional improvements which came with potatoes, corn, livestock, and feral pigs and goats. The potato provided, for the first time, an abundant carbohydrate source throughout New Zealand (Cameron, 1961).
In the early 1800s Māori communities prospered considerably by converting large new areas of forest to agriculture. Potatoes grew best in soils cleared of virgin forest rather than regenerating scrub, so widespread potato swiddening led to renewed deforestation (Cameron, 1961, 1964). Entrepreneurial Māori traders supplied visiting ships with large quantities of potatoes, pork, wheat, maize and ropes made of harakeke (native flax), generally in return for iron implements including weapons. Some acquired their own flour mills and sailing ships. By 1836, Māori agriculture in New Zealand was seen as a granary for the growing Australian colony of New South Wales. However, that all changed with the large-scale immigration of Europeans which followed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 (see Box 2.2).
The first census of the Māori population, in 1858, found a total of 56,000 living here. This fell rapidly during the 1860s land wars to about 47,000 by 1874. In 1896 the population reached its lowest point, 42,000. By this time, Māori were perceived as a 'dying race', reduced by waves of European diseases, such as dysentery, diptheria, influenza, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis and typhoid, as well as waves of warfare, both inter-tribal and with Europeans, which flared up in the 1820s, the 1840s and the 1860s. They had also lost most of their tribal land, much of it through legitimate sales, but also large areas through fraudulent or forced sales, and confiscation.
By the 1890s less than one-sixth of the country remained in Māori ownership, and a quarter of that was leased to Europeans. The remaining Māori land was mostly rugged and bush-clad, and unsuitable for agriculture. Living in poor conditions-often in insanitary, makeshift camps-most of the surviving Māori communities grew scarcely enough food for their own needs and relied increasingly on public works and seasonal work on European farms.
The turnaround in Māori health and population growth probably began in 1900 when the Department of Public Health was established and a generation of educated Māori leaders, such as Maui Pomare and Peter Buck/Te Rangi Hiroa, began to encourage better housing, improved nutrition, and vaccination against infectious diseases. They also convinced their communities to improve the quality of water supplies and adopt hygienic sanitation measures. As epidemics and infant mortality declined, life expectancy rose, and the population climbed rapidly. Between 1921 and 1951, the Māori population doubled, and then doubled again by 1971.
The rapid growth in Māori population coincided with another major change-the rapid urbanisation that followed World War II. The industrialisation drive of the 1950s drew large numbers of rural workers, including Māori workers, into the cities as labourers and factory workers. At the end of the war, 75 percent of the Māori population were still living in rural areas. One generation later, by 1970, more than 75 percent had moved to towns or cities and, by 1991, the percentage had grown to 81 percent.
The Treaty of Waitangi, frequently referred to as New Zealand's founding document, was signed in 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and most of the country's Māori rangatira (chiefs). At the time, only a handful of European settlers lived here, but there had been 70 years of contact between Māori society and British seamen, missionaries, traders, sealers and whalers. Māori communities grew commercial crops for trade and export. European tools, weapons, clothing, Bibles, crops, livestock, medicines, tobacco and diseaseswere widespread among coastal Māori communities, especially in the north, and European genes were also becoming more common. In fact, just a few years later, the Government would consider it necessary to pass an ordinance preventing European fathers from abandoning their Māori children.
Two versions of the Treaty were drafted, one in English and one in Māori. Only 39 rangatira signed the English version while more than 500 signed the Māori one. Broadly, the three articles of the Treaty state that:
- the rangatira cede authority "absolutely and without reservation" to the Crown (though the type of authority continues to be debated because of language differences in the two versions);
- the Crown promises to protect Māori entitlements to their land and other resources (though the nature of those entitlements is also debated because of language differences), while Māori wishing to sell land must (in the English version), or may (in the Māori one) offer it to the Crown first; and
- Māori are conferred the rights and privileges of British citizens.
Because some of the words in the two versions are not exact translations, debate continues as to what was actually agreed in the Treaty. In the English version the rangatira ceded 'sovereignty' (which means supreme authority) to the Crown. In the Māori version, they ceded 'kawanatanga', a term first coined by Bible translators to convey the governorship role of the Roman procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. Also, in the English version of Article II, the Crown agreed to protect Māori 'possession' of their land and other resources. In the Māori version, it agreed to protect their 'te tino rangatiratanga' (supreme chieftaincy) over their lands, settlements and 'taonga' (possessions or valuables) (Orange, 1987). Most Māori believe that the rangatira did not intend to surrender their traditional authority over people and lands, but, rather, expected the Crown to protect this authority from outside challenges. For a decade beforehand, several Māori leaders had been requesting British protection. Some feared colonisation by the French, who were seen as ruthless, and others had tired of inter-tribal warfare in which British guns and 'riff-raff' played increasingly significant roles. British missionaries, settlers and traders also requested Crown protection with some wanting to legitimise commercial settlement aspirations. When the Colonial Office eventually did agree to acquire a new protectorate, it had several motives, including the protection of British trade in the region (Orange, 1987).
In the 150 years since the Treaty's signing, Māori communities have voiced many grievances over the Crown's failure to provide the protection promised in the Treaty. In some cases, the Government was not only negligent, but actively complicit in forced land sales, fraudulent sales, or outright confiscations. The introduction of trout, which preyed on native fish, and the failure to protect eel weirs and other traditional fisheries from development and drainage, added to the list of grievances. Eventually, in 1975, the Treaty of Waitangi Act was passed. It established an investigative body, the Waitangi Tribunal, to enquire into claimed grievances and, where appropriate, make recommendations to government on how claims might be redressed. Although the recommendations are not binding (except for land covered by the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986), they are taken very seriously. At first, the Tribunal could only investigate grievances arising after 1975, such as objections to sewage discharges near tribal fishing and food gathering areas. In 1985, however, an amendment extended its brief back to 1840 opening the door to long-standing land claims and also natural resource claims (e.g. fisheries, radio air waves). About 550 claims have been lodged and most of these are still pending. Natural resources are central to many of the claims, including the following examples.
Te Atiawa claim 1983: This claim was brought by the Te Atiawa people of Taranaki to stop a proposed sewage pipeline which would discharge effluent from the synthetic fuel plant at Motunui onto or near traditional fishing grounds. On advice from the Waitangi Tribunal, the Government funded a long outfall pipeline to protect the kai moana (sea-food).
Kaituna claim 1984: This claim was brought by the Ngati Pikiao people against a proposed pipeline that would discharge sewage into the Kaituna River. The Government accepted the Tribunal's recommendation in support of the claim and provided funding for an alternative scheme.
Muriwhenua 1988 and Ngai Tahu 1992 claims: These claims successfully asserted that the new fisheries management regime created by the Crown was contrary to Article II of the Treaty. At the same time, successful court actions led to the Māori Fisheries Act 1989 and the Treaty of Waitangi Settlement (Fisheries) Act 1992, which provided for a $280 million two-stage settlement that transferred to Māori interests a 50 percent share in the Sealord fishing company, a 10 percent share of existing fish quota, and 20 percent of the quota for any new quota management species.
Indigenous flora and fauna claim (Wai 262): This claim seeks ownership and intellectual property rights over New Zealand's native plants and animals, iwi control over their use and conservation, a share of future benefits from their use, and recompense for past denial of benefits. Lodged in 1991, initial hearings are commencing in 1997.
Mohaka River (Wai 119): This claim asserts Ngati Pahauwera ownership of the Mohaka River which had been recommended for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) by the Planning Tribunal. The Waitangi Tribunal recommended that the WCO include an agreement between the Crown and Ngati Pahauwera on a river management regime but the Resource Management Act provisions on WCOs prevent this.
Waikato-Tainui claim: This was a claim for compensation for the wrongful confiscation of lands and natural resources. It dated back to 1863 when, by Orders in Council under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863, British troops attacked unarmed Tainui people and confiscated 1.2m hectares of land. Recompense of $170 million in land, money and assets was made to Tainui by the Crown in 1996, but natural resources such as the Waikato River were specifically excluded, and claims relating to them remain.
Ngai Tahu claim (Wai 27): This claim arises from the unreasonably low prices Ngai Tahu received for their land in sales last century, and from the Crown's failure to meet other commitments on land reserves and mahinga kai (areas where food is gathered). In late 1996 an agreement in principle was announced between the Crown and Ngai Tahu for a settlement involving land, money and assets, and provisions for conservation management by Ngai Tahu.
In December 1994, the former National Government released its Proposals for the Settlement of Treaty of Waitangi Claims, including the controversial 'fiscal envelope' proposal to set aside no more than $1 billion for all future Treaty settlements. The document also interpreted Article I of the Treaty as giving the Crown ultimate responsibility for the use of natural resources with Article II obliging the Crown to take into account other Treaty interests, such as traditional use claims. Article II was interpreted as guaranteeing Māori use of natural resources for cultural and spiritual purposes, as envisaged in 1840, but not ownership or control of those resources. At the end of 1996, the proposals were under review by the new coalition government.
To prevent future grievances, Treaty obligations are now recognised in our environmental laws and policies. For instance, fisheries legislation recognises Māori Treaty interests, and the Resource Management Act requires those empowered by the Act to:
- recognise and provide for the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu and other taonga (section 6(e));
- have particular regard to kaitiakitanga (the exercise of guardianship by Māori) (section 7(a)) and;
- take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (section 8).
The Resource Management Act also has other provisions recognising particular Māori interests and requires decision- makers under the Act to provide for these in some plans and policy statements . The Act also requires iwi to be consulted during the preparation of plans and policy statements and to have the normal opportunities to participate in plan and consent processes.
The Environment Act 1986, and the Conservation Act 1987, also require the 'principles' of the Treaty to be taken into account when managing physical and natural resources. The Court of Appeal and the Waitangi Tribunal consider these principles to include:
- the essential bargain of the Treaty, vesting rights and obligations in both parties;
- the requirement of tribal self-management/rangatiratanga;
- the concept of partnership;
- the need for active protection of Māori interests; and
- the obligation to provide redress for past grievances.
Together, these laws explicitly recognise Māori environmental values and practices and codify the need for an effective working relationship between resource managers and Māori communities. Obligations within this relationship are still evolving, with the errors of the past providing key lessons for the future.
Today, people with Māori ancestry number around 560,000 (15 percent of the population). Most identify themselves as ethnically Māori (either alone or in combination with other ethnic affiliations) and are counted as such in official statistics, which show ethnic Māori making up 13 percent (around 480,000) of the total population. Although the Māori birth rate is declining, it is still higher than the national average, so that by 2031 the descendants of today's ethnic Māori will comprise slightly more than 15 percent of the population.
The traditional Māori social structure consists of groups and subgroups defined by common ancestry and location. Within this system, status was often conferred on the basis of whakapapa (genealogy). Today there are some 40 major iwi (tribes), most still based in rural areas and headed by hereditary rangatira (chiefs) and councils of elders. Each iwi is made up of several hapu (sub-tribes) which each contain many whanau (extended families). Each whanau is headed by a male kaumatua (elder).
By taking most hapu members away from their communities, the post-war urban migration removed them from the authority of their kaumatua and the support of their whanau. Social problems began to appear. Young Māori men soon had three times the imprisonment rate of young white males. Family life also began to suffer as the transition to suburban nuclear family life proved too difficult for some. Sole parenthood increased. The quality of housing was also relatively poor in many cases, reflecting the lower income status of most Māori workers.
These problems were compounded in the mid-1970s when the economy faltered and, for the first time in decades, unemployment returned to New Zealand. As always, unskilled workers were the first to bear the brunt. From the outset, Māori unemployment rates were higher than those of the general population and have remained so to the present day.
Compared to the rest of the population, Māori are more likely to be unemployed (16 percent compared to 5 percent of non-Māori in late 1996), without educational qualifications (65 percent compared to 40 percent in 1991), on income support (56 percent against 20 percent in 1991), in sole parent families (44 percent of Māori children against 18 percent in 1991), and renting rather than owning their home (40 percent compared to 21 percent in 1991). In 1993, Māori men were seven times more likely than non-Māori to be in prison, Māori women were nearly six times more likely to seek shelter at a women's refuge, and Māori of either sex were three times more likely to be victims of homicide (Statistics New Zealand, 1994a, 1995; Public Health Commission, 1994).
These disparities are also reflected in health statistics. Māori infants are twice as likely to die in their first year (13 per 10,000, compared to 6.5 for non-Māori), and their life expectancy beyond the first year is shorter (68 years compared to 73). Māori are twice as likely to smoke tobacco as non-Māori (38 percent compared to 19 percent in 1996), and are also twice as likely to develop lung cancer (about 200 cases per 100,000 in 1992, compared to 110 for non-Māori). Māori also suffer disproportionately from some other health problems, being four times more likely to develop diabetes, and twice as likely to be hospitalised for mental disorders and drug or alcohol problems (Ministry of Health, 1996; Public Health Commission, 1994; Statistics New Zealand, 1994a, 1995).
Despite the serious problems and disadvantages which these statistics highlight, they also hide the fact that, on some matters, Māori progress has been considerable. Māori health is actually better now than it ever has been, with life expectancy a decade longer than it was in the 1940s. Educational attainment is also improving, albeit slowly. Most significantly, recent decades have brought a cultural and political renaissance. This began among urban Māori in the late 1960s with calls for the revival of the Māori language, followed in the 1970s by strengthened calls for the return of alienated land. Several successful environmental campaigns against sewage outfalls near tribal waters also gave strength to the Māori voice.
Today, the Māori language is widely taught in schools and in pre-school Kohanga Reo, and is regularly heard on television and on radio (see Box 2.3). Land claims and other Treaty of Waitangi grievances are being recognised through the Waitangi Tribunal and, where appropriate, redressed. The Treaty itself now has greater status than it ever had before, with central and local government obliged to consult with Māori before making decisions on matters affecting them. This means that Māori views on resource management and environmental issues are now more frequently heard and acted on.
New Zealand's short history of human settlement has bequeathed it only one indigenous language - Māori. This is fortunate because it has allowed a national rescue attempt to take place in which the education system, the media, government organisations and all tribes have been able to unite. In countries where many indigenous languages are spoken, such as Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and throughout the Americas, such a united effort would be impossible. The worldwide spread of English and of several other major languages, such as Spanish and Arabic, has come at a great cost to the world's indigenous languages, many of which have been lost. Linguists estimate that 20-50 percent of the 6,000 surviving languages are no longer being taught to children and will become extinct in the next century (Kleiner, 1995; Vines, 1996). Only 600 languages appear to be expanding. Until recently, Māori was not among them.
New Zealand Māori belongs to a group linguists refer to as Eastern Polynesian, and is closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tahitian, and Hawaiian. After the language reached New Zealand 700800 years ago, it underwent small changes as it grew independently of its parents. Some dialectal variations crept in as tribes spread throughout the country. The most marked of these was probably the extinct Moriori dialect spoken on the Chatham Islands (Clark, 1994). The greatest change, however, occurred with the arrival of Europeans. Many new Māori words had to be created to deal with the avalanche of exotic ideas, species and objects that came with the new settlers.
Traditionally, Māori was a spoken, not a written, language. Genealogies and stories were passed on by word of mouth. The written version was developed by missionaries who published the first Māori Bible translation in 1827. For some decades after that, Māori remained the common form of cross-cultural communication. Surrounded by Māori neighbours, traders and playmates, many of the first European settlers and their children were fluent speakers of Māori. However, the language balance tipped in the 1860s when white immigration soared. The New Zealand public school system, established in 1877, installed English as the sole language, both in the classroom and the playground.
By the 1950s and early 1960s the Māori language appeared to be in danger of extinction. The move to save it was initiated in the 1960s by educated urban Māori, alienated from their culture and wanting to reclaim their heritage. By 1976, Māori was being taught to 11,000 pupils in 123 secondary schools while 100 primary schools were offering courses in Māori studies. Two decades later, more than half (58 percent) of all school children were studying Māori language. Another big step in reviving the language was the Kohanga Reo programme and the Kura Kaupapa Māori schools. Te Kohanga Reo is family based, similar in many respects to kindergartens or play centres, but where the children speak only Māori and learn about Māori culture and customs from their kaumatua (elders). The first Te Kohanga Reo opened in 1982. Today there are 802 of them with around 14,500 children in attendance. Kura Kaupapa Māori (Māori immersion) schools are schools where only Māori is spoken and the curriculum is based on Māori values. In 1990, there were six officially designated Kura Kaupapa Māori schools with 190 students. By 1995, this had risen to 38, with 2,450 students. Another 444 schools were offering some form of Māori immersion education to more than 25,000 students in 1995 (Statistics New Zealand, 1996).
In 1987, the Māori Language Commission was established to promote the Māori language and its use as an 'official' language of New Zealand, as a living language, and as an ordinary means of communication. One implication of Māori becoming an official language was its acceptance for use in court proceedings. When a Māori speaker exercises the right to to use Māori during court proceedings, the onus is on the presiding officer to ensure a competent translator is present. Testimony does not have to be recorded in Māori.
The revival of Māori language education has come just in the nick of time. The number of fluent Māori speakers had plummeted from an estimated 64,000 in the mid-1970s to just 10,000 by 1995, of whom 44 percent were aged over 60 (Statistics New Zealand, 1996). Today, about 60 percent of Māori aged 16 and over can speak some of their language, but with varying ability. The Kohanga Reo system is thought to be producing about 3,000 speakers each year, and the study of Māori language at tertiary level has been increasing. Māori language radio stations now broadcast throughout the country and European announcers and television presenters try to give the correct pronunciations of Māori names and place names. There is even a computer software programme which allows Māori language speakers to operate their PCs in the Māori language.
Most of New Zealand's European migrants came from England, either directly or via Australia, and significant numbers also came from Scotland and Ireland. Their origins are reflected in their speech. New Zealand English evolved from the accents of nineteenth-century Australia and southern England, with some Scottish influences in the lower half of the South Island.
Many other European nationalities came here in small numbers, including Germans, who numbered about 10,000 by the 1930s, Dalmation gum diggers around Northland's Dargaville, Scandanavian farmers around Dannevirke and Norsewood in southern Hawkes Bay, Italian fishermen in Wellington's Island Bay, Greeks in Wellington's Mount Victoria, French colonists at Akaroa, and some 30,000 Dutch immigrants who settled in various parts of the country during the 1950s and 1960s. In the last decade, white South Africans have become a significant immigrant group. Overall, however, the general tenor of New Zealand's language and culture has been shaped by the English and Australian influence, with American mass media also playing a role in recent decades.
The first European to see New Zealand was the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, in 1642, but he did not tarry after four of his landing party were killed by Māori. The next European contact came nearly 130 years later, when the British explorer, James Cook, reached New Zealand. Cook was closely followed by others. Throughout the 1770s a number of expeditions came and went, including several from France and one from Spain. Cook himself returned twice (in 1773 and 1777).
Whalers and sealers arrived in the 1790s, followed a decade or so later by missionaries and traders. The first mission station was established by Samuel Marsden in 1814 and other mission stations were established over the next twenty years, mostly concentrated in Northland. Harakeke (native flax) and timber were two early items of trade. Timber mills were established in the north by 1820 and a shipyard was built in the Hokianga Harbour in 1826. From 1829, shore-based whaling stations were established and became focal points for small European settlements. The total European population was still less than 2,000 in early 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. That was soon to change.
Between 1840 and 1845, about 9,000 English settlers came out to establish settlements at Wellington (from 1840), Akaroa (1840), New Plymouth (1841), Wanganui (1841), and Nelson (1842). Without suitable farmland these enclaves became impoverished encampments whose very existence depended on the tolerance of the local Māori. However, in the late 1840s, sheep runs were established along the east coasts of both islands on extensive areas of tussock grassland purchased by the Crown from local tribes and then leased or sold cheaply to prospective runholders. The sheep multiplied and provided an economic base for the Otago and Canterbury settlements which were founded by Scottish colonists at Dunedin (1848) and English colonists at Christchurch (1850). By 1854, the European population had reached 32,500-about half the size of the Māori population.
The influx of European immigrants increased steeply in the 1860s and even more so in the 1870s. The 1860s land wars between the Government and several North Island tribes brought 14,000 British troops to the country. Their spending was a considerable boost to the economy, but nothing compared to the discovery of gold in Otago in 1861. In two years, Otago's population increased five-fold to about 60,000. Miners, many of them Irish, poured in from the spent goldfields of Australia and California. By the end of the 1860s, New Zealand's European population stood at around 230,000 and the Māori population was now outnumbered by almost five to one. Almost two-thirds of the European population were concentrated in the South Island.
In the 1870s, the administration of Julius Vogel borrowed large sums of money to fund public works (e.g. roads, railways, public schools and an expanded civil service) and immigration schemes. Some 115,000 assisted immigrants were brought out from England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as a special settlement from Scandanavia whose labours turned the 'Great Bush' around Dannevirke and Norsewood into a landscape of family farms. The availability of cheap farmland is what drew many of the immigrants. In their home countries, land was the possession of small privileged class; few could aspire to be more than tenant farmers, and most had to support themselves as impoverished farm workers or as factory labourers in the crowded and dirty industrial towns.
However, farm life in New Zealand was less than idyllic. With no export markets for products other than wool, and with an economic recession dampening the domestic market from the late 1870s into the early 1890s, many small farmers struggled to subsist. In addition, without fertilisers, the naturally poor soils quickly deteriorated in some areas. Only after the establishment of a frozen meat and butter export trade in the 1880s did farming became more viable. By the mid-1890s, the economy was growing again. New settlers continued to arrive, farms multiplied and townships and cities grew while forests and wetlands shrank. New Zealanders began to introduce progressive social policies, such as the provision of an old age pension, the extension of the vote to women, a 48-hour working week and the recognition of unions as equal bargaining parties in labour disputes. By the turn of the century, the European population exceeded 750,000.
Features of European settler society up to this time included a highly transient workforce with a high proportion of young unmarried men. Agricultural employment was usually seasonal rather than permanent. Strong divisions existed between some ethnic groups, particularly Catholic Irish and Protestant Scots and English, with the Irish having lower levels of income and education, and higher levels of imprisonment. The social divisions lingered on into the middle of this century, particularly in the south. Because the European population consisted mostly of first generation settlers, many cut off from families and friends, problems of alcoholism, crime and loneliness were common among the men. This slowly changed as immigration continued to swell the population and the sex ratio normalised. Between the 1860s and 1900, the ratio of European males per 100 females changed from about 170 to 110. By 1930, after the arrival of some 200,000 more immigrants, the sex ratio was almost even.
Throughout most of this century, New Zealand's economic and cultural life remained heavily tied to Britain, which was frequently referred to as 'home'. New Zealand's entry into World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45) was primarily inspired by loyalty to Britain. Although the main contribution to both war efforts was food production, New Zealanders also gave 30,000 lives-several thousand of them Māori. In the post-war years, New Zealand's prosperity was almost totally dependent on Britain which remained our key export market into the 1970s. The last period of assisted European immigration to meet labour and skills shortages stretched from the late 1940s through to the early 1970s. It came to an abrupt end with the deteriorating economic conditions of 1974 and the adoption of a more open immigration policy.
Socially and economically, today's European population is, on average, better off than the Māori and Pacific Island populations, having higher average incomes, life expectancy and infant survival, and higher levels of home ownership, education and employment. The European population has a lower birth rate than other groups, mainly because Europeans tend to have smaller families and start reproducing later in life. However, the large size of the European population means that, in absolute numbers, it still accounts for half or more of the nation's unemployment, poverty, illness and criminal convictions. In several illness categories, such as skin cancer and cystic fibrosis, Europeans predominate for genetic reasons. They also predominate in illnesses of the elderly simply because the overwhelming majority of the country's over-65 age group is European.
The European impacts on the environment in just 150 years have been dramatic and are discussed in detail in Part Two of this report. Many of these impacts were economically motivated, and pursued to varying degrees by both European and Māori, but many were the result of a distinctively British set of recreational and aesthetic values. These cultural values favoured the creation of open spaces and the importation of many environmentally damaging plants and animals (e.g. deer, rabbits, cats, ferrets, trout, heather, ivy) for no other reason than to recreate familiar aspects of the European environment for hunting, fishing or aesthetic purposes (McDowall, 1994; Park, 1995).
The demand for labour in the post-war decades also attracted many people from elsewhere. By 1971, 45,000 Pacific Island people of various nationalities had settled here. By 1991 they and their descendants numbered almost 150,000 and made up nearly 4 percent of the total population. In general, they share many of the disadvantages of urban Māori. They have similar rates of unemployment, are even more likely to be renting, and are more prone to some diseases (e.g. rheumatic fever). On some other indicators, however, they are intermediate between European and Māori (e.g. educational qualifications, imprisonment rate, tobacco smoking, infant mortality).
Asian groups encompass a wide range of cultures, many of them of Chinese or Indian origin. On most socio-economic indicators, Asian New Zealanders are similar to the European population. The first Chinese immigrants were goldminers. Some 5,000 were living here by 1874, but discrimination and immigration restrictions reduced them to 2,000 by 1916. The Indian population was also very small to begin with, numbering 1,200 in 1936. In the post-war years, more people of Chinese and Indian origin have settled here. By 1991, just before the recent immigration boom, their respective numbers were about 40,000 and 30,000. Under the new immigration rules from 1991 to 1995 Chinese numbers increased more than other groups.