Native Rights Act declares Māori British subjects

26 September 1865

The Act deemed all Māori to be natural-born subjects of the Crown, confirming in law the treaty promise that Māori were to be accorded the same rights and privileges as other British subjects.

Under Article Three of the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori gained ‘all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects’. When the position of Māori was challenged because of their ‘non-British’ (communal) form of land tenure, their status as British subjects was confirmed by the Native Rights Act 1865.