The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, is said to be New Zealand’s “founding document’ that gives everyone in New Zealand/Aotearoa their standing in society (Hayward: 2004). The understanding and meaning of the treaty provokes intense debate right across the country, from parliament to workplaces and a difference in opinions range from the critics to the advocates(Hayward: 2004). In a survey conducted by the Treaty of Waitangi information unit and reported by Boyd (2004) one in three People could not state the year in which the Treaty was signed. In the Social Policy journal of New Zealand Culpitt (1994) emphasises that although some pakeha are very critical of and see the Treaty as a threat, it is part of the essence of the national life and should be accepted as a foundation document of New Zealand. Through the many years of migration to New Zealand and colonisation of New Zealand the Treaty of Waitangi has provoked the development of this bicultural country and implications of this are still being seen today.
In 1834 twenty-five Maori chiefs assembled at Waitangi with James Busby, British resident, and chose a flag for our country to be placed on the masthead of any boat in order for it to be able to sail and in an act of recognising Maori sovereignty over New Zealand (Walker: 1990). In 1835, in order to retain Maori sovereignty, thirty-four chiefs met at Waitangi again to sign the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand (Walker: 1990). New Zealand was then declared an “independent state under the name of the United Tribes of New Zealand” (Walker: 1990, p.88).In 1840, Lord Normanby sent Captain Hobson to New Zealand as ‘consul’ after missionaries appealed to the British government for intervention. Normanby’s instructions were to “acquire sovereignty over the whole or any parts of the country that Maori wished to cede” (Hayward: 2004, p.152). “They had to be persuaded that the sacrifice of their national independence would bring the benefits of British protection, law and citizenship” (Walker: 1990, p.90). On the 29th of January 1840 Busby and two officers drew up the first draft of the Treaty of Waitangi which Hobson then corrected and Reverend Henry Williams then translated into a Maori version (Walker: 1990). On the 6th of February the Maori text of the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed by many chiefs of tribes in New Zealand and over the next six months copies of that text were signed by over 500 chiefs, 39 of which signed the English version not knowing at the time that there were very extensive differences between the Maori and English versions of the text (Orange: 1988). In the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand the word rangitiratanga was used to refer to New Zealand’s independence. In the Maori version of the Treaty the word rangitiratanga only guaranteed their chieftainship. Henry Williams made the mistake of translating sovereignty in the English version to kawantanga in the Maori version only meaning governership to the Maori. If the word mana had been used, as in the Declaration of Independence to mean sovereignty, the treaty would not have been signed as Maori would never just sign away their mana (Walker: 1990). Because the number of settlers in New Zealand was increasing, signing the Treaty would have appealed to the Maori in order to get recognition of their land, culture and resources (Hayward: 2004). Also because French colonisation on New Zealand was a threat and after many years of considering protection from King George, signing this treaty would be an appealing way to gain protection from the queen and her authorities (Hayward: 2004). From 1840 onwards tensions between the Treaty texts mounted due to Maori land and resource losses (Orange: 1988). The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 set up the country’s first parliamentary system. Legislation of the Native Districts Regulation Act and the Native Circuit Courts Act passed in 1858 giving Maori involvement in their affairs. Maori...
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