The Treaty of Waitangi

Topics: Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand, Māori Pages: 5 (1639 words) Published: September 19, 2013
The Treaty of Waitangi

The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi is a very significant event that has led to what New Zealand is today. It gave Europeans and Maoris a common ground to live as one. It is one of the most significant events in New Zealand as it still has an impact on people today, nearly 200 years after the event. This will argue on many topics but will highlight on the unfairness of the Treaty, how it lead to controversy, and how the significance of this event has changed over time.

Many argue that the Treaty of Waitangi shows unfairness and doesn’t show equal rights. A lot of this dispute comes from what the Treaty has written on it. William Hobson, also known as Captain Hobson, was responsible for the writing of the Treaty. But was he really fit writing a treaty for a country that currently has close to 5 million people? William Hobson was a Naval Captain who saw action in the Napoleonic Wars and was captured by pirates several times. Hobson was sent out by Lord Normandy to New Zealand in 1839 with comprehensive instructions in the Colonial office in London as of what was expected of him and the Treaty. In addition to that, on his journey to New Zealand he made a detour to Sydney, New South Wales to visit Governor Gipps where additional information was supplied. These is where he got a majority of his vision for what should be in the Treaty. I struggle to understand how that was all the help that was needed to write this treaty. This wasn’t a treaty that was to be thrown out or forgotten within a day. It was to be remembered, honoured and was to last hundreds of years. When William Hobson arrived in New Zealand he needed a way to explain to the Maori what they sought. For this, he had the assistance of his secretary, James Freeman and James Busby, the British Resident. On the 5th of February they both collaborated and made the Treaty draft. Busby separated it into 3 articles while Captain Hobson, Henry Williams and Edward Williams were responsible for the translation. Even with the help of James Freeman and James Busby, more time and care should have been taken for such an important thing.

Much debate has occurred over the fairness of the Treaties on both Maoris and Europeans. I believe the Treaty was, in fact, unfair towards Maoris and coincidentally, in favor of the British. The treaty was one-sided in terms of rights and entitlements. The Treaty contains 3 articles; The first article gives the Queen sovereignty (otherwise known as governance on the translated copy), the second article refers to allowing the exercise of chieftainship over their land, villages and prized possessions and the final article promises Maoris the Queen’s protection. These articles do not leave much freedom or independence for Maori chiefs and individuals. Chiefs that did not sign, like the Waikato chief Te Wherowhero, weren’t prepared to give that up. Those that did sign agreed to the Queen’s governance over the land, her authority, and the right to deal with them over land transactions. These rights mentioned are unjust and are in favor of Britain. Maori Chiefs that had signed the treaty were encouraged for several reasons. Because of the protection the Queen offered it meant intertribal warfare could be avoided. This meant peace of mind for many tribes. Maoris also wanted employment opportunities, access to western technology and regulated settlement and control of settlers and land sales. These positive outcomes of signing would of hidden the truth of what they were actually agreeing to, the loss of liberty and freedom.

The controversy that is present today originates from the differences between the English and the Maori versions of the Treaty. Most of the Treaty is accurate in its depiction except for two words. Those words are‘Kawanatanga’ and ‘Rangitawara’. These Maori words are mentioned in Article One and Two of the Treaty and provide different meanings than that of the English Treaty. ‘Te kawanatanga katoa’...
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