Ngata worked hard to foster Māori scholarship and education and preserve traditional arts and culture.

He convinced the government to establish a Board of Maori Ethnological Research (1923), a Maori Purposes Fund Control Board (1924) and a School of Maori Arts and Crafts in Rotorua (1927).

The Reform government also took the first, tentative steps towards settling longstanding Māori grievances.

Agreements with Te Arawa in 1922 and Ngāti Tūwharetoa in 1926 recognised their respective rights over the Rotorua lakes and Lake Taupō, and led to the establishment of trust boards with some government funding.

Commissions of inquiry which examined Ngāi Tahu grievances (1920–21) and the Waikato and Taranaki confiscations (1926–27) recommended that modest compensation be paid.