Under UN supervision, the islanders are being asked whether they want self-governance from New Zealand, retaining citizenship and a kind of "free association" in a deal to ensure their economic well-being.
The Urewera District Native Reserve Act of 1896 was drawn up by Premier Richard Seddon to allow the Urewera people to be regionally autonomous, in his words a "self-governing" people. [...] With Seddon's death in 1906, the Tuhoe dream of self-governance that still lives for some today began to be torn down. The Liberal government abandoned attempts at partnership [...] There was to be a final crushing of hope. In 1907 the messianic pacifist leader Rua Kenana offered a new path to a people in despair by establishing a "City of God" for around 600, deep within the Ureweras. Trade, agriculture, even banking and mining, were part of his plan.
But the government saw Kenana as subversive, and in 1916 a large military force was sent in to crush him, using minor charges of supplying liquor as a pretext for what historians now consider to be an illegal armed invasion. Kenana was arrested deep in the Ureweras at Maungapohatu by 57 constables from Auckland, and more from Gisborne and Whakatane. Kenana was unarmed, but a shot was fired, and in the resulting gunfight two Tuhoe were killed, including Kenana's son.
Kenana was taken to Auckland and tried for sedition.