Treaty of Waitangi

TE TIRITI O WAITANGI - 6 February 1840

Does it Deliver for the Maori of Aotearoa - New Zealand?

My Key Wishes

  • Share dates, events, facts and observations
  • Let all present this evening make up their minds about the Treaty and its aftermath in the light of these
  • Assess pakeha justice

HE KUPU - Key Words

  • English as a language cannot express the subtle nuances of Maori: herein lies the major problem!
  • Aotearoa; Maori; iwi/hapu; Ngapuhi; rangatira; mana; tupuna; pakeha;
  • Tika; pono;

TE WHARE TAPU O NGAPUHI - The Sacred House of Ngapuhi

  • Papatuanuku is the Floor
  • Ranginui is the Roof
  • The Supporting Poles are the Sacred Mountains of Ngapuhi:
  • Puhangatohora; Te Ramaroa; Whiria; Panguru; Papata; Maungataniwha; Tokerau; Rakaumangamanga; Manaia; Tutamoe; Manganui


  • It is within this house that the Treaty was conceived and created
  • Ngâ tuhituhinga tuatahi o te Tiriti o Waitangi ko ngâ moko o ngâ rangatira o Ngâpuhi!
  • The first signatures on the Treaty of Waitangi are the tattoos of the chiefs of Ngâpuhi!



TUATAHI: The Context

  • Maori started to travel to Poikahena (Sydney) in the 1780s-90s to transact business and trade
  • Massive trade developed
  • Rangatira received by Governors as kings demanding respect
  • Missionaries arrived in Tai Tokerau - first sermon, Christmas, 1814 - Samuel Marsden

The Context

  • Sir George Murray - First European-style ship built in NZ. Built at Horeke, Hokianga. (Partners: Patuone,Taonui, Gordon Browne, Thomas Raine). Arrived Sydney 18 November 1830 on its maiden voyage. Impounded. Sold to Thomas MacDonnell, 20 January 1831 for £1300. Patuone/Taonui made a declaration of support and MacDonnell an honorary rangatira. Temporary license granted in August 1831.
  • 16 November 1831, letter from 13 Ngapuhi rangatira to King William IV of England.
  • Reply from Viscount Lord Goderich, Colonial Office dated 14 June 1832. Appointment of the British Resident announced. James Busby arrived in 1833.
  • 20 March, 1834, 25 rangatira chose the flag as the flag of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand. 21 gun salute. Gazetted in NSW 19 August 1835.
  • 28th October 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, signed by 35 rangatira from the north and later by others (Potatau Te Wherowhero, Tainui; Te Hapuku, Ngati Kahungunu).
  • King William IV, through Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, accepted their request, in a manner of speaking, couched in the diplomatic language of the day.
  • Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of NSW (1831-37), affirmed this. Sir George Gipps (1838-46) tried to deny it as being a concoction of Busby and others.
  • But, the fact remained. The Declaration had been made and accepted.
  • Te Wakaminenga o Aotearoa - The Nation of New Zealand - existed!

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Te Tiriti o Waitangi

30th January 1840, invitations were sent out inviting rangatira to Waitangi. That sent to my great-great grand uncle, Nene, survives. It reads…….

30th day of January, 1840
 My esteemed friend: This is my word to you once more; a ship will be arriving, bringing a chief from the Queen of England to be a Governor for us all. So, it is for this reason that all the chiefs in the nation of New Zealand should assemble here on Wednesday of this holy week to meet him. Therefore my friend my reason is to invite you here to Waitangi, to my home once more, to this assembly. You too are a chief of those united as one. That is it, my word is done. Yours, from your esteemed friend, Busby.

  • Captain William Hobson. H.M.S. Herald
  • There was no previous model anywhere: the text was written in English over 4 days (James Freeman and James Busby) and translated overnight by Rev. Henry Williams into Maori. First problem.
  • 'I certify that the above is as literal a translation of the Treaty of Waitangi as the idiom of the language will allow.'
  • i.e. My command of Maori is very poor but I am doing my best!
  • 5th February 1840, the rangatira assembled for a two-day event. Pakeha expected it would be all over quickly and gifts would be given out. They were in for a shock!
  • What was explained to rangatira and the Maori version created a different understanding: what the chiefs thought they were signing and choosing is not what they ended up with! Maori did not respect bits of paper: they respected verbal assurances as a matter of honour and mana. Kanohi ki kanohi!

Ko te Tuatahi
Ko nga Rangatira o te Wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa hoki ki hai i uru ki taua wakaminenga ka tuku rawa atu ki te Kuini o Ingarani ake tonu atu-te Kawanatanga katoa o o ratou wenua.

Article the First
The Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent Chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess over their respective Territories as the sole Sovereigns thereof.

  • Key words: kawanatanga; rangatiratanga and taonga. The British thought Maori had ceded sovereignty: Maori maintained they had not!
  • There was a powerful, general mood not to sign. There was the matter of land sales.
  • The great oratory of Heke, Nene and Patuone changed the mood. WHY?
  • It was too late! Pakeha were there to stay: goods, technology, systems, crops, agriculture = desirability.
  • The coming of the pakeha had been foretold - Te Matapo; Te Maoi
  • The chiefs adjourned to discuss the Treaty and were scheduled to return on Friday, 7th February 1840.
  • Impassioned discussion took place at night around the fire in the Maori way: pakeha were surprised: morning of 6 February, 1840, the chiefs indicated they were ready to sign so they could return home to more important business!  
  • On the day, 45 chiefs signed and by the end of 1840, 500 had done so including 13 women, rangatira in their own right. There were 9 copies in all. In October, 1840, the official English and Maori versions were sent to the Colonial Office in London.
  • Waitangi was the only place where any explanation was given!
  • The Treaty was never ratified by Britain and ignored in New Zealand until c.1975.
  • Nene said: "Pakeha are a very lying race!"
  • Successive NZ governments used legislation to trample Maori rights further and there were endless breaches.
  • The British Government totally ignored Maori concerns and grievances and has never repaired the damage.
  • 1841 Land Claims Ordinance (unused land to the Crown)
  • 1844 private land sales
  • 1846 Protectorate Department abolished
  • 1852 Constitution Act (21 plus males with title to land)
  • 1859 illegitimate land sales (Teira)
  • 1863 Native Lands Act (individualised title; free sales)
  • 1863 Suppression of Rebellion Act
  • 1864 Native Reserves Act (settler control of reserved Maori land)
  • 1865 Native Land Court (proofs required; agents) Judge Fenton - he tangata kino; he kuare!
  • 1866 Oyster Fisheries Act  (land loss)
  • 1867 Maori Representation Act (4 MPs)
  • 1867 Native Schools Act (assimilate)
  • 1871 all instruction in English
  • 1877 Judge Prendergast: Treaty a simple nullity!
  • 1879 amendments to simplify settlers obtaining Maori land
  • 1879 Peace Preservation Act (I year hard labour for Maori who refused orders to relocate)
  • 1880 Maori Prisoners' Act (200 Taranaki prisoners trying to prevent survey of confiscated lands)
  • 1880 West Coast Settlement Act (2 years hard labour for opposing or hindering surveys for settlement)
  • 1881 Natives Reserves Act (control of reserves vested in the Public Trustee)
  • 1881, 2500 troops invade Parihaka to arrest Te Whiti
  • 1886 Native Lands Administration Act (land to trustees who could sell it)
  • 1893 Land Purchase Act (speed up sales)
  • 1894 Advances to Settlers Act (loans to pakeha to buy land from the government)
  • 1894 Native Land Court Act (names on title as owners)
  • Validation of Invalid Land Sales Act
  • 1894 Land Settlement Act (control under land councils with no Maori members)
  • 1897, 92 Maori arrested in Taranaki for protesting
  • 1903, Prendergast's 1877 ruling upheld
  • Endless legislation discriminated against Maori: 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act (removes any Maori right of challenge. Vests full legal and beneficial ownership in the Crown: Maori rights are extinguished forever, without consent, investigation or consultation.
  • 1975 Waitangi Tribunal: Government not obliged to listen.
  • Cases for compensation are still within the consideration of the Tribunal. Few have been settled.
  • Some Key Points: English Common Law applied to Maori with the signing of the Treaty. Native Title can only be extinguished under statute with the full and free consent of the owners. Such consent was never given!
  • In Tamaki v. Baker, the Privy Council rejected the argument that there was no Maori customary law and pointed out that many existing statutes in New Zealand specifically mention it.
  • RV Symonds: Chapman J - "indigenous title is entitled to be respected, that it cannot be extinguished otherwise than by the free consent of the native occupiers".
  • Arani v. Public Trustee: Lord Philamore ruled that Maori Customary law enjoyed legal status in the European Courts.
  • Deadline for claims! 28 September 2008!
  • To Maori, especially Ngapuhi, the mana of our tupuna has been trampled endlessly and for this, there is a price to pay: in Maori, HE UTU.
  • Tragedies: visited upon many pakeha involved in the processes - accidental deaths, disease, curses, suicide, murder, strange accidents.
  • 1953 Tangiwai Disaster (152 dead)
  • 1963 Bynderwyn Bus Crash (15 dead)

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Dates and Years

  • 244 years since the birth of Patuone
  • 173 years since the Declaration
  • 168 years since the Treaty
  • 136 years since the death of Patuone

Land Loss

  • In 1840, Maori owned 66,400,000 acres of land
  • In 1891 it was 11,079,486 acres
  • In 1975 it was 3,000,000 acres


We should all remember:

  • Justice and the struggle for justice have no expiry date!
  • History is a progression, both of key events and lessons: we need to remember the first and learn the second!
  • As Maori we represent continuity - past-present and future!

Remember those ancient tohunga matakite, those seers? They also said this: "When those others are at the point of destroying our world, then they will come looking for us for they will have forgotten how to save it! We and our descendants will remember! Only then will they truly honour us!"

  • This is a plea, an affirmation made on behalf of all those indigenous peoples of the earth, who have suffered and who continue to suffer at the hands of world powers and their agendas
  • Kei hea te ture? E tatari mai ana!

Nga mihi ano ki a koutou katoa!

He waiata na Benjamin maua ko te whanaunga rangatira, ko Moeroa Tiatoa

Kei Waenganui i te Awatea

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