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Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi)

People from all political persuasions use 'The Treaty' as a weapon to prosecute or support their own particular argument or course of action, or to insist that others take some action.

This page offers factual information from hopefully un-biased sources in order to allow you (if you want to) to argue from an educated viewpoint.

The book suggestions at the bottom of the page obviously do not fit the 'unbiased' category and are only the 'tip of the iceberg' of literature available.

The National Archives (main link page)
The Treaty of Waitangi - Te Tiriti O Waitangi – 1840 and the Treaty website : the English and Maori versions as signed

Relevant Acts of Parliament:

Link to all Acts in alphabetical order - then click on '+' sign next to 'T' and scroll down to 'Treaty'
This is what the Treaty actually looks like (this is one copy of it - there were several produced, including Maori language versions like this one). It lay buried in a forgotten, damp, storeroom at Parliament House, water-damaged and eaten by rats, until being accidentally discovered sometime in 1908.

Perhaps by being better informed we all might come to our own personal view of the actual scope of this document and be able to rate for ourselves the validity of the arguments of others.
In the hopeful words of Governor Hobson (expressed at the time of the signing at Waitangi):

"We are one people"
I wonder what he would think now.

The Author's own opinion about the document itself? 3 paragraphs, hastily drawn up by a couple of rank amateurs with no legal training, or access to any legal advice, set against an 1840's context and expressed in a language where, in some cases, the concepts expressed were completely alien to the Maori people of that era and impossible to translate into Maori, and where the year 1840 context is being viewed by year 2004 standards...

How much reliance would you place on it, as a legally-binding contract?

It was a wonderfully-intentioned document created by people who had high hopes.

You can make the Treaty mean anything you want, and protagonists from every side are doing exactly that. It's wide open. The only people who can really argue, about what was really meant by the words, have been dead for 150 years. If only we could talk to them...

But at least by reading about it, learning about it, and caring about the issue, you might prevent extremists from either end of the scale from getting their way by force applied over apathy. Be educated, Be involved, The NZ taxpayer has spent billions of dollars on this already and looks like having to spend billions more. You can forget the 'Fiscal Envelope' which was supposed to put a limit on Claims. In reality it no longer exists. Perhaps it never did.

Here's some reading you can do:

Bullshit, Backlash and Bleeding Hearts - A confused person's guide to The Great Race Row.
David Slack, Penguin Books, Auckland, 2004

An interesting collection of statements and discussions (mainly in rebuttal to Don Brash's famous Orewa Speech - including comments from Don Brash), and setting those comments against a discussion on what the Treaty really means. Comments from people such as John Tamihere, Alex Frame, Sir Graham Douglas, Sir Tipene O'Regan, Margaret Wilson, Moana Maniapoto, Dr. Michael Cullen, Pita Sharples, Matthew Palmer, Stephen Franks, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Shane Jones, Dame Anne Salmond

Old NZ by a Pakeha Maori
FE Maning, (1811-1883), Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Auckland, 1922
A British settler's view of Maori life and customs in the 1860's. Written in the 1860's by one who was there. Light-hearted and illuminating.

The Travesty of Waitangi - Towards Anarchy
Stuart C. Scott, Campbell Press, Christchurch, 1995
Tough-talking expose of the billions of dollars spent by the NZ taxpayer in so-called 'final' settlements that are anything but 'final'. Contains lots of history about past - and present - Claims.  You will be stunned at the amount of money involved, the majority of which most NZ'ers are unaware of. Scott reports some interesting 'conflict of interest' issues about the set-up of the Waitangi Tribunal that will make you wonder and tells us that much of the money seems to be going in directions other than the Maori population it was supposed to benefit.

History of New Zealand and its inhabitants
Dom Felice Vaggioli, transl. John Crocket, University of Otago Press, 2000
An intriguing book written in the 1880's and first published in 1896, by an Italian monk living in NZ during the period 1879 - 1887, and reporting back to the Pope. His only prejudice is against any religion that isn't Catholic...

The British Government apparently ordered all copies of the book burned, but one copy survived in an Italian Monastery, and has been translated into English and published by Otago University Press. Vaggioli wrote what he saw. His views are just as sympathetic to Maori claims as Stuart C. Scott's are dismissive.

These four books, one light-hearted and the others giving completely opposite views, should tease you enough to get you started. No matter how red-necked you may be, just challenge your own objectivity and give them a good read. What harm can reading do, eh?

If you need some controversial statements to get your 'learning juices' going, try these:

"However good intentions may have been, a close study of events shows that the Treaty of Waitangi was hastily and inexpertly drawn up, ambiguous and contradictory in content, chaotic in its execution. To persist in postulating that this was a 'sacred compact' is sheer hypocrisy"
Ross, Ruth - Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Texts and Translations, NZ Jnl of History, 1972


(describing the Treaty document)
"... a document hastily cobbled together by a group of rank amateurs"
Parsonson, GS - reviewing Dr Claudia Orange's book 'The Treaty of Waitangi'


"I was present at the great meeting at Waitangi when the celebrated Treaty was signed, and also at a meeting which took place subsequently on the same subject at Hokianga. There was a great deal of talk by the natives, principally of securing their proprietary right in the land and their personal liberty. Everything else they were only to happy to yield to the Queen, as they said repeatedly, because they knew they could only be saved from the rule of other nations by sitting under the shadow of the Queen of England. In my hearing they (the natives) frequently remarked 'Let us be one people. We have the Gospel from England, now let us have the Law from England...' The natives were at that time in mortal fear of the French, and justly thought they had done a pretty good stroke of business when they placed the British lion between themselves and the French eagle... There is a native proverb which says with reference to a man of great keenness and sagacity: 'He was born with his teeth' and in the matter of making bargains the Maoris may be said to be people who were born with their teeth."
Rev John Warren, Wesleyan missionary, present at the signing ceremony at Waitangi.


"If the Treaty had been read and understood on it's arrival in London (it lay unattended for some time after it reached London) it would have been disavowed"
G.W. Hope, Under Secretary of State 1841 - 1845, Colonial Office, London.


"Towards the end of the year (1844) a British Cabinet committee had declared that the Treaty of Waitangi was rather imprudent and unwise, adding that all land not actually occupied by Maori was the property of the British Crown... The Governor and Anglican missionaries had always led the Maori to believe that the Treaty was for their benefit, to preserve their rights over their lands and property..."
Dom Felice Vaggioli, 1886, A History of NZ and its Inhabitants


"All dealings with the Aborigines for their lands must be conducted on the same principles of sincerity, justice and good faith as must govern your transactions with them for the recognition of Her Majesty's Sovereignty in the Islands. Nor is this all. They must not be permitted to enter into any Contracts in which they might be the ignorant and unintentional authors of injuries to themselves. You will not, for example, purchase from them any territory the retention of which by them would be essential, or highly conducive, to their own comfort, safety or subsistence. The acquisition of Land by the Crown for the future settlements of British subjects must be confined to such districts as the natives can alienate without distress or serious inconvenience to themselves. To secure the observance of this rule will be one of the first duties of their official protector..."
Lord Normanby, British Colonial Secretary, instructions to Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson prior to his departure to NZ in 1839, quoted in Slack, D. Bullshit Backlash & Bleeding Hearts (as above)


"Now in making purchases from the Natives I ever represented to them that though the money payment might be small, their chief recompense would lie in the kindness of the Government towards them, the erection & maintenance of schools and hospitals for their benefit and so on - you know it all"
Commissioner of Crown Lands, Otago, made to the British Colonial Secretary, 18th March 1856 (quoted in Slack, D as above)


"We've run these workshops - a couple with Pakeha too - and everybody once they learn, they go "oh, that's why you guys are going so nutty, that's why. Now we get it. Now what do we do?". It's not a Maori-Pakeha thing, it's not a black-white thing, it's a Justice thing. And I think all New Zealanders have got a really good sense of Justice. They know the facts and then they're cool. But it's all the distortion that's really unhelpful and divisive."
Moana Maniapoto, quoted in Slack, D as above


"Radix malorum est cupiditas" (Jealousy and greed are the root of all evil)
Geoffrey Chaucer (14th Century).