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The Treaty of Waitangi, an explanation; Te Tiriti o Waitangi, he whakamarama.


[ko te tohutoro i roto i te reo Māori]

It was on the 6th day of February, 1840, when the Treaty of Waitangi was made. Waitangi is part of the Bay of Islands in the northern part of the North Island. It was made between Governor William Hobson on behalf of Queen Victoria and the Maori Chiefs who gathered there on that day. It was afterwards that some copies of the Treaty were taken to various parts of the island even to the South Island and was signed by Maori Chiefs of the various tribes.

Altogether there were 512 signatories. From then to now the Treaty and the provisions therein have been the subject of discussion by learned men and administrators of Maori affairs. At the present time the Treaty is widely discussed on all maraes. It is on the lips of the humble and the great, of the ignorant and of the thoughtful.

It was an old lady who asked me quite recently, "Now you tell me what are its conditions and why is it the subject of discussion on the maraes?" I wondered then whether she was right and it was wrong for the name of the Treaty to be so freely discussed on the lips of our womenfolk, when the provisions contained therein were not clear to them. The Treaty of Waitangi was first written in the English language and then translated into the Maori language. The draft was actually written by Governor Hobson and Busby (who was the previous administrator for the Queen before Governor Hobson) corrected it. This is what Busby said and it was printed in the Parliamentary Papers for the year 1861:

"The draft of the Treaty was made by me and was approved by Captain Hobson. He made a few alterations but the fundamental provisions were not altered."

Some of Busby's descendants lived at Kairakau near the coast in Hawkes Bay, and later at Tokomaru (Waiapu) where some of the grandchildren still reside. The Maori version of the Treaty was by Henry Williams, referred to as the Four-eyed Williams, one of the ancestors of the subtribe of the Williams.

The English expressions in the Treaty were not adequately rendered into Maori. There were minor parts left out. However, the Maori version page 3clearly explained the main provisions of the Treaty, therefore, let the Maori version of the Treaty explain itself.

What is a Treaty? In accordance with the Maori language, it is an agreement between two or more peoples having authority and agreeing between themselves to certain wide powers affecting them all. The document on which these powers and agreements are recorded is called a treaty. Let the actual Maori version of the Treaty now show.