Perspectives On The Treaty Of Waitang1

Topics: Treaty of Waitangi, Translation, New Zealand Pages: 5 (2500 words) Published: May 19, 2015
Perspectives on the treaty of Waitangi
On February 6th 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. This was a form of agreement between the British crown and more than 500 Maori chiefs and was also made to bring the two cultures together. Another reason was also because the Maori had wanted the British to protect them from other countries who had wanted to colonize in New Zealand.  For the treaty signing to have taken place the treaty was written in English and was then translated to Maori by the missionary Henry Williams and his son Edward. Due to Henry Williams translating the treaty it has been a subject of debate as many believed that Henry Williams deliberately mistranslated the treaty, therefore there was no settlement on what exactly was agreed to between the Pakeha and Maori. Two of the main subjects of conflict due to the translation of the treaty was that Henry Williams had translated sovereignty to ‘Kawanatanaga’ many believed that the correct translation should have been ‘Mana’. Many believed that Henry Williams knew that if he had used ‘Mana’ then the Maori chiefs would never have signed the treaty. By using the word Kawanatanga this confused many Maori as the Maori understood the word to mean governance. Therefore the Maori had thought that the governor would have authority over the settlers and would keep them from being lawless. Whereas other Maori had thought that they were allowing the Europeans to take over their land but allowing them to take care of their own affair.  Another mistranslation was the use of the word ‘tino rangatiratanga’ by using this the Maori understood it as them having complete say in their lands as well as giving the Crown the right to buy their land if they wished to sell it. Another subject of conflict was that the Maori culture did not agree with British ideas as the two cultures would clash. The Way of the Maori was completely different than that of the Europeans. Due to this misunderstanding of the treaty I have decided to look at what many historians had written about the treaty as well as the circumstances surrounding the signing of the treaty of Waitangi. One of the perspectives was from William Colenso who was a missionary and also a printer. Colenso had a lot to say about the treaty and had thought of the treaty as being confusing for the Maori as the translations were not accurate. Colenso was also concerned on whether the Maori would be able to understand what they were signing. This was shown when he had stepped forward and asked Hobson if the tribes understood the treaty and knew what they were about to sign. This showed that Colenso had thought about the signing of the treaty as he believed that the “Maori were still like children in terms of their ideas.”1 He also believed that because they were still like children in terms of their interpretations of ideas it would be difficult for them to fully understand the treaty.  Colenso’s objection towards the signing of the treaty was also due to the fact that he had spoken to some of the natives about the treaty, “the people needed to know the legality of it … as far as he could tell, many still had no idea of its purpose.”2  We also see that his objection towards the treaty was also due to the fact that Colenso was a missionary therefore he would have gotten to know the Maori people and would have got a better insight and understanding on the way the Maori learnt and understood things as well as their culture and customs.  Therefore because of this Colenso had decided to step forward and question Hobson. But we also see that Colenso presents Hobson in a negative view which we see when he asks Hobson on whether he knew if the Maori understood the treaty. Hobson then tried to make it seem that any misunderstanding the Maori had he would not be at fault, “If the Native chiefs do not know the contents of the treaty it is no fault of mine.”3 While also saying that he had done everything he could just so they could understand,...

Bibliography: There are no sources in the current document.
1) Fitzgerald Caroline. (2011). Te Henry Williams Early years in the North. Wellington:Huia publishers
2) King Michael. (2003). The Penguin history of New Zealand. New Zealand: Penguin books
3) Laurie John. (2002). Journey of the Polynesian Society The volume 111 Issue 3. Auckland: Auckland university
4) Moon Paul & Fenton Sabine. (2002). Bound into a fateful union: Henry Williams translation of the treaty of Waitangi and Maori in February 1840 Journal of the Polynesian society. Auckland: Auckland University
5) Newman Keith. (2010). Bible&Treaty Missionaries among the Maori- A new perspective. Northshore:Penguin Group.
6) Walker Ranginui. (2004). Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou. New Zealand:Penguin Grou
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