Āpirana Ngata (1874–1950), of Ngāti Porou, was born at Te Araroa on the East Coast. He graduated from Te Aute College, and later completed an MA and a law degree. He was the first Māori to complete a degree at a New Zealand University. He returned to the East Coast and became involved in improving Māori social and economic conditions.
Hēnare Balneavis, of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Whakatōhea, was born in Poverty Bay in 1880. He was educated at Te Aute College and later worked as a law clerk at Gisborne. In 1903 he began working as a clerk and interpreter in the Native Land Court. In 1909 he became private secretary to Āpirana Ngata, and continued in this role when Ngata became Native Minister. He went on to serve as private secretary to a number of Native Ministers including W. H. Herries, Gordon Coates, George Forbes and M. J. Savage.
Despite some opposition, nearly 16,000 Maori enlisted for service during the Second World War. By 1945 the 28th (Maori) Battalion had became one of New Zealand's most celebrated and decorated units. But Maori contributed to the war effort in many different ways, at home and overseas.
Initially Maori had mixed feelings about the Scenery Preservation Act. The Member of Parliament for Northern Maori, Hone Heke Ngapua, welcomed it as a way to protect totara and prevent the loss of more kauri forest, but he objected to the way compensation was made available to Maori.