Colonial and Anticolonial Credit: The Native Lands Acts and Te Peeke o Aotearoa


  • Catherine Comyn



Finance, Kingitanga, Financialisation, Te Peeke o Aotearoa, Tino rangatiratanga


In the 1860s and 1870s the Native Lands Acts facilitated the colonial appropriation of huge amounts of Māori land. The acts, as is commonly known, were explicitly implemented to destroy the ‘communism’ identified as foundational to Māori society, and sought to achieve this by ‘individualising’ Māori land title. However, in addition to this movement of individualisation, the acts fundamentally enacted and relied upon the financialisation of Māori lands, their transformation into securities against debts. This paper examines the colonial weaponisation of credit as a means of division and seizure and contrasts this with the anticolonial deployment of credit by Māori in the form of Te Peeke o Aotearoa. Founded in 1885, and situated within a broader politics of unification and the defence of land, Te Peeke o Aotearoa was an exclusively Māori alternative to prevailing colonial financial institutions that not only reasserted Māori economic autonomy but threatened to weaken the fabric of the colonial project.


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