The arrest in 1916 of prophet Rua Kēnana followed the last instance of armed Māori resistance to Pākehā authority. Rua established a community at Maungapōhatu in the remote Urewera region that attracted Māori disgruntled with the Pākehā system. Rua had discouraged recruitment for the First World War and broke prohibition laws by selling alcohol. An expedition made its way into the Ureweras and arrested the prophet after a gunfight in which his son died. The judge at Rua’s trial for sedition told him that his 18-month sentence for resisting arrest was ‘the lesson your people should learn from this trial’.
In November 1918 Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana experienced visions that led him to found the Rātana Church. The Rātana movement had a strong focus on religion (largely Christian) and healing. Its leaders sought economic progress and modernisation, and they they demanded the ratification of the Treaty of Waitangi. In the 1920s Rātana formed a political arm, and in the mid-1930s it entered into an alliance with the Labour party: Labour nominated Rātana leaders as its candidates in the Māori electorates. By 1943, Rātana Labour candidates had won all four Māori seats, which gained Rātana a much stronger voice in governing circles.
Tūrangawaewae marae in Ngāruawāhia was made the traditional home of the Māori King. It was built on land regained in the aftermath of the wars and confiscation of the 1860s.
In 1926 a royal commission began to inquire into the land confiscations of the 1860s. It found some confiscations to have been excessive and recommended compensation. Taranaki Māori accepted an annual payment of £5000 from 1931, but negotiations for the other settlements were delayed until 1944. In that year, compensation was made to several major iwi for land taken in the 19th century. The three major settlements were: Ngāi Tahu (£10,000 per annum for 30 years), Waikato–Maniapoto (£6000 per annum) and Taranaki (£6000 per annum for 50 years and £5000 thereafter).
Native Minister Āpirana Ngata set up the first Māori land development scheme in 1929. The government provided funds and sometimes contributed small areas of Crown land. The tenure of the farmers on the schemes, who were commonly chosen from among the landowners, was not always satisfactory. Inadequate Crown management of some schemes resulted in large accumulating debts which had to be borne by iwi; debt on the Ngāti Manawa Development Scheme has only recently been paid off.
Waitangi Day was formally celebrated for the first time in 1934. Two years earlier Governor-General Lord Bledisloe gifted to the nation James Busby’s house at Waitangi, where the Treaty was signed. Busby’s home became known as the Treaty House. A whare rūnanga was built beside it in time for the 1940 Centennial.
The 1940 Centennial celebrated the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding moment. Copies of the Treaty of Waitangi were hung in every school and marae in 1945.
In 1947 the government replaced all official references to ‘Native’ with ‘Maori’. The Native Land Court became the Maori Land Court.