Maori poverty in Te Urewera was largely caused by repeated Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi according to the final Waitangi Tribunal Te Urewera report.
The Crown was found responsible for Maori communities in Te Urewera being forced to eat rotten potatoes while children grew up dependent on charity for foods and clothes throughout the 20th century.
Some Maori families lived in shacks and caves due to a lack of adequate assistance, the sixth and final Waitangi Tribunal Te Urewera report released on Tuesday found.
"The Tribunal acknowledges that the Crown did provide some aid and services to Te Urewera communities," it said in a statement.
"However, it found that these were never near enough to counter the massive disadvantages holding back those communities. Sometimes they were actually harmful."
Maori children were punished for speaking their own language while Crown officials made them feel that their culture was inferior and worthless.
Two bills settling the historical grievances of Ngai Tuhoe were passed into law by parliament in July last year.
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said at the time the Maori peoples in the area suffered "some of the worst breaches by the Crown in the country's history, involving large scale confiscation, brutal military campaigns targeting Tuhoe settlements, and unjust land purchases".
The settlement includes a $170 million financial, commercial and cultural redress package, and an apology for the Crown's "grievous actions" will become enshrined in law.