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

The Heading Of The Treaty

[ko te tohutoro i roto i te reo Māori]

The Heading Of The Treaty

This is the heading of the Treaty setting out the reasons for the making of the Treaty:

"Victoria, the Queen of England, in Her feeling of affection towards the Chiefs of the Tribes of New Zealand and in Her desire to retain for them their Chieftainships and also that peace may reign and they live happily, has thought it wise to send a High Personage as Her representative to negotiate with the Maori people of New Zealand, the Maori Chiefs, to agree to the Government of the Queen having access to all parts of the land including the islands. This is by reason of the fact, that so many members of Her race were living in this land, and many more were coming. Now, the Queen has thought it good to send me, William Hobson, a Captain of the Royal Navy to be Governor for all parts of New Zealand, to be ceded now and for ever to the Queen and she invites the Chiefs of the assembled tribes of New Zealand and other Chiefs to accept the following provisions".

This is the heading explaining the reasons why Governor Hobson was sent by Queen Victoria, Queen of England and Her other lands to arrange conditions between the Queen and the Chiefs of the Maori people. The main purport is in the words, "This is by reason of the fact that so many members of Her race were living in this land and many more were coming". Therefore the Queen was desirous to establish a Government with a view to avert the evil consequnces to the Maori people and to Europeans living under no laws.

These are very wise words.' It was correct that many Europeans had settled throughout both islands, missionaries and their families, European sellers of goods, whalers, sailors, thieves and murderers. It had been stated that 500 convicts had escaped from Australia and were living in various parts of the Bay of Islands just prior to the Treaty. Maori authority had no affect on them but they often disturbed the Maori people. Neither did the laws of the Queen affect them by reason of the fact that the Queen had no authority over these islands. According to the records of the missionaries, one thousand of the Maori people were murdered by the Europeans in the years prior to the Treaty, and we have also heard of the Maori people murdering Europeans. These were lawless times. Therefore the Queen "was desirous to establish a Government with a view to avert the evil consequences to the Maori people and to the Europeans living under no laws"

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Now these were the important words "living under no laws". It was the European conscience of the man who formulated the words of the Treaty who saw that this was the main trouble throughout North and South Islands. This was the trouble which was forcing itself to be remedied lawlessness. This conflicted with Maori custom, the authority of Maori Chiefs of cannibal times, of illiterate days and the individualistic European idea of the European who had strayed out of the confines of his own laws and who had left behind the very lands from which he was nurtured. It was this law, then, which was stretching out to follow him the long fingernails of Queen Victoria which she had attached to Governor William Hobson.

This was at a time when the Maori tribes were fighting fiercely among themselves. There was no peace following the wars of Hongi Hika, Te Wherowhero, Te Waharoa and Te Rauparaha. Guns and powder were the goods most desired by each tribe, when chiefly women were given away, and lands were sold. This was at a time when lands were sold on a broad scale. Europeans crowded to buy land for themselves in the Bay of Islands, Hauraki, Porirua and the South Island, guns, kegs of powder, blankets, tobacco and spirituous liquor were given in payment. Many claims were made by various Europeans for the one piece of land sold to each of them by various Maori chiefs. Where was the law in those times to decide what was right?

The Maori did not have any government when the European first came to these islands. There was no unified chiefly authority over man or land, or any one person to decide life or death, one who could be designated a King, a leader, or some other designation. No, there was none, the people were still divided, Waikato, Ngati [unclear: Naua], Te Arawa, Ngapuhi and tribe after tribe. Within one tribe there were many divisions into sub-tribes each under their own chief. How could such an organisation, as a Government, be established under Maori custom? There was without doubt Maori chieftainship, but it was limited in its scope to its sub-tribe, and even to only a family group, The Maori did not have authority or a government which could make laws to govern the whole of the Maori Race.

These were the reasons for the direct approach by Governor Hobson to the Maori Chiefs and for arranging for copies of the Treaty to be taken from end to end of each island, seeking to obtain the' concurrence of chief after chief. It has been mentioned earlier that 512 Maori Chiefs subscribed their marks or their names to the Treaty of Waitangi.

I shall explain later the meaning of the term "Government" and of the words "Chiefly Authority", but let me say here that until the meaning of these words are clear, no one can consciously understand the full meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Another part of the Heading of the Treaty which requires our consideration is, "Regarding with Her Royal favour—the Native Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand—are anxious to protect their just Rights and page 5property and to secure to them the enjoyment of Peace and Good Order". These are the words which are embraced in the minds of the Maori people, "protect their just Rights and property". Let us wait until the three covenants of the Treaty are fully explained to see the full significance of this thought in the mind of Queen Victoria.

Let us conclude here the explanations of the Heading of the Treaty. It will be seen that the main purpose of the Government of Queen Victoria was for New Zealand including the European and the Maori inhabitants, all men and the land to come under the authority of a specific Government.