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'Decidedly the Most Interesting Savages on the Globe': An Approach to the Intellectual History of Maori Property Rights, 1837-53

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This article contends that the intellectual history of developing British imperial policy towards indigenous peoples' property rights to land in the mid-nineteenth century is best approached through seeing policy as made in the context of two intellectual vocabularies that were conjoined: the stadial theory of history and the law of nations. New Zealand provides an example of these languages in contestable play between the 1830s and 1853 at a time when the expanding British Empire as a whole vied with issues such as 'native title' and the placement and control of settler populations.

Keywords: British imperial policy; Indigenous property rights in the British Empire; Maori; New Zealand; common law and law of nations; stadial theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Crown Counsel, Treaty of Waitangi and International Law Issues Team, Crown Law Office, PO Box 2858, Wellington, New Zealand mark.hickford@

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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