In the Convention of Aliwal North of February 1869, the boundaries of Lesotho were laid down in their present form... Britain found it convenient to annex Lesotho to the Cape Colony... the Cape Colony soon began to apply to Lesotho the same laws and methods which it found convenient for administering other areas already annexed by force.
Matters came to a head with the imposition of the "Peace Preservation Act", by which all fire-arms were to be surrendered. Within a few months the whole countryside was in open rebellion.
The Gun War of 1880-81 cost the Cape Government dearly in men and money. Civil strife created further administrative problems. By 1883 chronic misgovernment induced the Cape Government to request Britain to restore direct rule over Lesotho, in return for which it was even prepared to pay any deficit in the annual recurrent budget.
In this way, as a direct consequence of the Gun War, the Basotho won the right to have their country administered separately from other parts of southern Africa. British rule was resumed in 1884, a major step in the sequence of events which led ultimately to the granting of independence by Britain in 1966.
By the 1890s just one major bastion of Māori de facto autonomy remained: the vast Urewera region in the eastern North Island... In 1871-1872 the Native Minister, Sir Donald McLean, appears to have formally recognised the area's regional autonomy...
During the 1870s and 1880s the Urewera tribes, united as the "Union of Mataatua", managed their affairs through a Council, established in 1872 and known as Te Whitu Tekau (Seventy)... The Union did its best to keep the colonial State at arms length. Roads, surveys, land sales, leases and mineral prospecting were banned. Europeans could not enter the area without permission, and if they did they were firmly escorted beyond the borders.
The Union, however, was "a peaceful organisation" and did not seek confrontation with the government... the Native Land Court was going to break into the core Tuhoe territories. It may have been this threat... which led the chiefs of Te Urewera... to enter into negotiations with Seddon, the Liberal Prime Minister, in 1895...
In effect the Urewera tribes made a cession of their de facto sovereignty in return for certain promises made by the government of the day on behalf of the Crown. The main points supposedly agreed to, as identified by Seddon, were:
(a) an external survey of the Urewera block;
(b) internal subdivisions to be carried out by a Commissioner, rather than the Native Land Court; and
(c) the establishment of a process of self-government through a General Committee representing the various iwi and hapū of the region.
The Urewera District Native Reserve Act was passed on 12 October 1896. The Act is described in its Long Title as "an Act to make provision for the ownership and local government of the Native lands in the Urewera District".
The Preamble states:
Whereas it is desirable in the interests of the Native race that the Native ownership of the Native lands constituting the Urewera District should be ascertained in such manner, not inconsistent with Native customs and usages, as will meet the views of the Native owners generally and the equities of each particular case, and also that provision should be made for the local government of the said district...
The guarantees of 1896 were soon forgotten as the Native Land Court was introduced to the region and the Crown embarked on an aggressive programme of undivided share-buying of the Urewera block. Most of the region passed into Crown title during a massive title consolidation scheme during the 1920s.
An Act to facilitate the Settlement of the Lands in the Urewera District...
WHEREAS the [Maori] lands within the district referred to in Schedule 1 to this Act have for a number of years been under special administration, and it is now desirable to apply the ordinary law thereto... hereby repealed... The Urewera District [Maori] Reserve Act 1896.