The Treaty of Waitangi, an explanation; Te Tiriti o Waitangi, he whakamarama.
Article the First
[ko te tohutoro i roto i te reo Māori]
Article the First
These are the words of the first article of the Treaty of Waitangi. The First Article:
"The Chiefs assembled including Chiefs not present at the assembly hereby cede absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the Government of all of their lands"
These are but a few words but they indicate a complete cession. This was the transfer by the Maori Chiefs to the Queen of England for ever of the Government of all their lands. What was the thing they transferred? What was the thing which they gave away so freely for ever? It was the Government of their lands. You are somewhat confused with the purport of those words "their lands" as being just a land matter. No, their real meaning includes "their boundaries or territories" The English word in the English version of the Treaty, "territories". What is a "Government?" The English word is "Sovereignty". The English word for such a personage as a King or a Queen is "Sovereign" This is the same as the Maori words "Ariki Tapairu" and is referred to as the absolute authority. The "Sovereign Power" of the English rests with the King or Queen and his or her Council called Parliament. This gives a clearer understanding of the term "Government" as used in this article of the Treaty, that is, it is the absolute authority over the people which the article transmits into the hands of the Queen and Her Parliamentary Council. It is Parliament which makes the laws for the people, for the land, for health, for sickness, for crime, for good order and for everything pertaining to the well being of all throughout the world. The Ministers of the Government, the officials, the Departments under their administration, the courts, the boards, the judges, the policemen, the inspectors, the surveyors, the schools, the hospitals, all other groups having authority as administrators, upholders of the law, and adjudicators are all within the laws made by Parliament. The laws made by Parliament affect all the people living on the face of this land, the land properly delineated and known as Aotearoa, the South Island and adjacent islands. They are made for the humble and the great, for the ignorant and for the chiefs without discrimination.page 6
This first article of the Treaty of Waitangi carries out the wishes of the Queen, "to establish a settled form of Civil Government with a view to avert the evil consequences to the Maori people and to the Europeans living without laws". It is this article of the Treaty which leaves and embodies within these islands the Government of the Queen of England. What was it that the Maori Chiefs ceded? This article states, "They do absolutely cede to the Queen of England for ever the Government of their lands". Well, it has been said that the Maori did not have any Government, how can he cede something, he did not have? Let me explain again. The explanation is in the meaning of the words "Chiefly authority". It was this chiefly authority held by each chief who subscribed his mark to the Treaty of Waitangi that each chief ceded to the common weal and to Governor William Hobson, as an offering to Queen Victoria. The sum total of the authorities of the Maori Chiefs ceded to the Queen was the Government of the Maori people.
Now what was the chiefly authority? What was the authority of the Maori chiefs at the time of the signing of the Treaty, to the people, to the land, and to the tribes under their separate authorities? That was the time of Te Hapuku, of Te Rauparaha, of Te Rangihaeata, of Te Whero-whero, of Te Waharoa, of the great Te Heuheu, of Kawiti, of Patuone, of Hone Heke, of Tupaea, of Te Amohau, of Te Pukuatua, of Moko-nuiarangi, of Aporotanga, of Aopururangi, of Te Houkamau, of Te Kani-a-Takirau, of Te Potao-aute, of Te Eketuoterangi and of the many others who have departed to "the realms of night—the terror of the land, the power over man". One could make lengthy additions to this part of our explanations.
Let us express in brief, the chiefs gave away to the common weal the kiwi cloak, the dog skin cloak, ornamental cloaks to hang in Museums for Europeans to view, and to expound the virtues of the Maori. "These were the treasures of the Maori while they had authority": now the Maori looked on, sighed, recited and uttered "Farewell to the abode of death, to England the abode of pleasure". Having received these treasures the Queen gave red blankets in return. It is said these made up the greater part of the gifts laid by Governor Hobson, his officers and the missionaries before the Maori chiefs who signed the Treaty.
During the time when the Maori chiefs had authority and there was no authority of British law, the word of the chief was law to his tribe. It was he who declared war, and he who sued for peace. Here are some of the words of that period; "The fire burning yonder, go forth to put it out". A great number of the people thus disappeared—loss of man, loss of land. The chief was separated from his daughter who was used as an offering to the invaders to bring about peace. It was the chiefs who bespoke the land and gave it away. They had the power even for life or death. These were the powers they surrendered to the Queen. This was the understanding of each tribe. The main purport was the transferring of the authority of the Maori chiefs for making laws page 7for their respective tribes and sub-tribes under the Treaty of Waitangi to the Queen of England for ever. The embodiment today the Governor, his Ministers, the Members of the Lower House elected by the people and the Members of the House of Lords, appointed by the Governor, together they make the laws.
My dear old lady, this is part of the answer to your question "What is the Treaty of Waitangi?" It was the first article of the Treaty which transferred the chiefly authority of your ancestors, affecting you and future generations for ever. This is the reason for the speeches in Parliament now in session in Wellington, making the laws,, good laws, bad laws, laws for relief and harassing laws.