A long time ago on a marae far, far away…or it may as well have been. For the past three decades, all most New Zealanders have heard is a series of reinterpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi, which, depending on who is paying the scholar concerned, take widely diverging views of what the Treaty actually means. Today, thanks to a Court of Appeal ruling in the late 1980s, the Treaty is regarded by the Government, Civil Service and many within Maoridom’s upper echelons as a “partnership”, whereupon the Government must consult with its treaty partner before making major decisions, and where Maori interests obtain preferential slices of business activity in recognition of their special status.
No fewer than 22 laws are now on our statute books that require Government agencies to have regard to “the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”. It was a political slip-up by former Justice Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer that opened the lid to Waitangi’s Box, when he incorporated the phrase in the 1986 State Owned Enterprises Bill as a sop to Maori pressure on Labour at the time. Palmer now concedes he didn’t expect it to take on a life of its own thanks to a new breed of Treatycrats infiltrating the public service.
So what are the “Treaty principles” as understood today?
According to treaty law specialist Tim Castle in the Herald recently, they are “partnership; protection of Maori rangatiratanga (understood in modern times to mean Maori Sovereignty); tribal right of self-regulation; Crown’s duty to redress past breaches; Crown’s duty to consult; mutual benefit; options; active protection; and significance of the Treaty.”
Which brings us to a major question, is the modern interpretation of the Waitangi Treaty correct? To answer that, we now take readers back to July 1860 – exactly 144 years ago – and the biggest gathering of chiefs in New Zealand history. Government soldiers had just begun the war against Maori in the Taranaki, and had invited chiefs from around New Zealand to a major hui in Auckland. In broad terms, the government spelt out to Maori that a dispute over land in Taranaki had escalated into violence associated with a perceived rebellion based on Maori sovereignty. The question for debate: whether Maori wished to stand by the Crown or join the Maori sovereignty movement.
What follows is a direct transcript of speeches from that hui. As you read it, ask yourself whether Maori in 1860 believed in Maori sovereignty, or that the Treaty was a partnership in the modern sense of the word:
TE KARERE [The Maori Messenger newspaper], July 1860:
Our readers will be glad of some information respecting the conference of native chiefs now being held at Kohimarama.
We shall therefore set aside all other matter in order to make room for a full report the proceedings at the date of our present issue. We shall commence our account with a list of the chiefs, with the names of their respective tribes, and their several places of abode. From this list it will appear that the principal subdivisions of the Maori race the New Zealand New Zealand ignore, on the whole, well represented in this conference. 112 chiefs took their seat on the first day, and several more have arrived at intervals since. Others had been invited and would probably have been here but for the prevalence of a severe epidemic, and the sudden decease of an influential and much respected chief of the Waikato, Potatau Te Whero-Whero.
The absence, however, of these does not materially affect the question of representation. Taranaki alone is without a voice in the conference. Those who were invited to attend were unwilling to leave their homes in the present unsettled state of that province.
It is a circumstance worthy of remark, as evincing the interest felt by the native chiefs and the importance they attach to the present measure, that when they arrived at Auckland almost the whole of them were suffering severely from influenza.
It is gratifying, however, to add, that under the unremitting care of their medical attendant many of them have quite recovered, and the others are rapidly improving. It is more than probable that some of the older men, had they remained at home, beyond reach of medical aid, would, before this, have been gathered to their fathers.
The question now suggests itself, why have these chiefs assembled? The Governor had a higher motive in inviting the Maori chiefs of New Zealand to meet him at Kohimarama. It was, to use his own words, to afford them “an opportunity of discussing various matters connected with the welfare and advancement of the two races dwelling in New Zealand.”
In the colonisation of these islands by the British, the treatment of the aboriginal race has been regulated by humane and Christian principles. A wise government has watched over their interests with paternal care. Large sums of money have been annually expended in the erection and maintenance of schools for the education of their youth; hospitals have been built for the accommodation of their sick; books and newspapers have been printed for their amusement and instruction; magistrates have been appointed in native districts for the suppression of crime, and the laws have been translated into Maori and gratuitously circulated; indeed, nothing has been left undone that was likely to promote the happiness and well-being of the Maori people.
And now that their intelligence is beginning to develop itself, they are invited to take a first step towards participating in the legislation of the country. That the chiefs themselves duly appreciate the importance of this step, as conducive to their advancement as a people, is very evident. They are shrewd enough to recognise in this conference a more adequate means of securing a national position than in any of the extravagant ideas of Maori Kingism.
We sincerely trust that a similar conference to the present will continue to be held annually in this or some other part of New Zealand. Its beneficial influence is already apparent. Nothing has so much tended to reassure the minds of both people as the free and frank expression of opinion on the floor of the conference hall during the past week. A mutual feeling of distrust and misapprehension was becoming very general. The Maori and the Pakeha were becoming estranged from each other. The Colonists charged the Maori with an insurrectionary spirit, and they, on the other hand, began to dread aggression from the Colonists. But this mutual feeling of insecurity has subsided, and we believe that this is mainly owing to the very satisfactory spirit elicited during the first week of the conference. The chiefs have not disguised their opinions, when antagonistic to the policy of the Governor, nor have they suppressed their grievances; but there has been a freedom and candour, fully characteristic of the Maori, in all these speeches which has committed itself to all who have heard them; and the expressions of loyalty to the Queen and goodwill to the Pakeha have carried with them every evidence of sincerity.
GOVERNOR’S ADDRESS: His Excellency Governor Browne opened proceedings by reading the following address, translation of which was afterwards read by Donald McLean the native secretary and president of the conference:
“My friends, Chiefs of New Zealand,
1. I have invited you to meet me on the present occasion that we may have an opportunity of discussing various matters connected with the welfare and advancement of the two races dwelling in New Zealand.
2. I take advantage of it also to repeat to you, and through you to the whole Maori people, the assurances of goodwill on the part of our Gracious Sovereign which have been given by each succeeding Governor from Governor Hobson to myself.
3. On assuming the sovereignty of New Zealand her Majesty extended to her Maori subjects her Royal protection, engaging to defend New Zealand and the Maori people from all aggressions by any foreign power, and imparting to them all rights and privileges of British subjects; and she confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish to retain the same in their possession.
4. In return for these advantages the chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi ceded for themselves and their people to her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of sovereignty which they collectively or individually possessed or might be supposed to exercise or possess.
5. Her Majesty has instructed the governors who preceded me, and she will instruct those who come after me, to maintain the stipulations of this Treaty inviolate, and to watch over the interests and promote the advancement of her subjects without distinction of race.
6. Having renewed these assurances in the name of our Gracious Sovereign I now ask you to confer with me frankly and without reserve. If you have grievances, make them known to me, and if they are real, I will try to redress them. Her Majesty’s wish is that all her subjects should be happy, prosperous and contented. If, therefore, you can make any suggestions for the better protection of property, the punishment of offenders, the settlement of disputes for the preservation of peace, I shall gladly hear them and will give them the most favorable consideration.
7. The minds of both races have lately been agitated by false reports or exaggerated statements; and, in order to restore confidence, it is necessary that each should know and thoroughly understand what the other wishes and intends.
8. There is also a subject which I desire to invite your special attention, and in reference to which I wish to receive the expression of your views. For some time past certain persons belonging to the tribes dwelling to the south of Auckland have been endeavouring to mature a project which, if carried into effect, could only bring evil upon the heads of all concerned in it. The framers of it are said to desire that the Maori tribes in New Zealand should combine together and throw off their allegiance to the Sovereign whose protection they have enjoyed for more than 20 years, and that they should set up a Maori King and declare themselves to be an independent nation. Such ideas could only be entertained by men completely ignorant of the evils they would bring upon the whole native race if carried into effect.
9. While the promoters of the scheme confined themselves to mere talking, I did not think it necessary to notice their proceedings, believing that, if allowed time to consider, they would abandon so futile and dangerous and undertaking. This expectation has not been fulfilled. At a recent meeting at Waikato some of their leading men proposed that Wiremu Kingi, who was in arms against the Queen’s authority, should be supported by reinforcements from the tribes who acknowledged the Maori King, and armed parties from Waikato and Kawhia actually went to Taranaki for this purpose. These men also desire to assume an authority over other New Zealand tribes and their relations with the Government, and contemplate the forcible subjection of those tribes who refuse to recognise their authority.
10. Under these circumstances I wish to know your views and opinions distinctly, in order that I may give correct information to our Sovereign.
11. It is unnecessary to me to remind you that her Majesty’s engagements to her native subjects in New Zealand have been faithfully observed. No foreign enemy has visited your shores. Your lands have remained in your possession, or have been bought by the government at your own desire. Your people have availed themselves of their privileges as British subjects, seeking and obtaining in the courts of law that protection and redress which they afford to all her Majesty’s subjects. But it is right you should know and understand that in return for these advantages you must prove yourselves to be loyal and faithful subjects, and that the establishment of a Maori King would be an act of disobedience and defiance to her Majesty which cannot be tolerated. It is necessary for the preservation of peace in every country that the inhabitants should acknowledge one Head.
12. I may frankly tell you that New Zealand is the only colony where the aborigines have been treated with unvarying kindness. It is the only colony where they have been invited to unite with the colonists and to become one people under one law. In other colonies the people of the land have remained separate and distinct, from which many evil consequences have ensued. Quarrels have arisen; blood has been shed; and finally the aboriginal people of the country have been driven away or destroyed. Wise and good men in England considered that such treatment of aborigines was unjust and contrary to the principles of Christianity. They brought the subject before the British Parliament, and the Queen’s ministers advised a change of policy towards the aborigines of all English colonies. New Zealand is the first country colonised on this new and humane system. It will be the wisdom of the Maori people to avail themselves of this generous policy, and thus save their race from evils which have befallen others less favoured. It is your adoption by her Majesty as her subjects which makes it impossible that the Maori people should be unjustly dispossessed of their lands or property. Every Maori is a member of the British nation; he is protected by the same law as his English fellow subject; and it is because you are regarded by the Queen as a part of her own especial people that you have heard from the lips of each successive Governor the same words of peace and goodwill. It is therefore the height of folly to the New Zealand tribes to allow themselves to be seduced into the commission of any act which, by violating their allegiance to the Queen, would render them liable to forfeit the rights and privileges which their position as British subjects confers upon them, and which must necessarily entail upon them evils ending only in their ruin as a race.
13. It is a matter of solicitude to Her Majesty, as well as to many of your friends in England and in this country, that you should be preserved as a people. No unfriendly feeling should be allowed to grow up between the two races. Your children will live in the country when you are gone, and when the Europeans are numerous. For their sakes I call upon you as fathers and as Chiefs of your tribes, to take care that nothing be done which may engender animosities – the consequences of which may injure your posterity. I feel that the difference of language forms a great barrier between the Europeans and the Maoris. Through not understanding each other there are frequent misapprehensions of what is said or intended: this is also one of the chief obstacles in the way of your participating in our English Councils, and in the consideration of laws for your guidance. To remedy this, the various missionary bodies, assisted by the government, have used every exertion to teach your children English, in order that they may speak the same language as the European inhabitants of the colony.
14. I believe it is only needful that these matters should be well understood to ensure a continuance of peace and friendly feeling between the two races of her Majesty’s subjects; and it is for this reason, and in a firm hope that mutual explanations will remove all doubt and distrust on both sides, that I have invited you to meet me now.
15. I shall not seek to prove, what you will all be ready to admit, that the treatment you have received from the Government, since its establishment in these Islands down to the present hour, has been invariably marked by kindness. I will not count the hospitals founded for the benefit of your sick; the schools provided for the education of your children; the encouragement and assistance given you to possess yourselves of vessels, to cultivate wheat, to build mills, and to adopt the civilised habits of your white brethren. I will not enumerate the proofs which have been given you that your interests and well-being have been cared for, lest you think I am ungenerously recalling past favours. All will admit that not only have your ears listened to the words of kindness, but that your eyes have seen and your hands have handled its substantial manifestations.
16. I will not now detain you by alluding to other matters of great importance, but will communicate with you from time to time and call your attention to them before you separate. Let me however remind you that though the Queen is able – without any assistance from you – to protect the Maori from all foreign enemies, she cannot without their help protect the Maori from themselves. It is therefore the duty of all who would regret to see their race relapse into barbarism, and who desire to live in peace and prosperity, to take heed that the counsels of the foolish do not prevail, and that the whole country be not thrown into anarchy and confusion by the folly of a few misguided men. Finally, I must congratulate you on the vast progress in civilisation which your people have made under the protection of the Queen. Cannibalism has been exchanged for Christianity; Slavery has been abolished; War has become more rare; prisoners taken in war are not slain; European habits are gradually replacing those of your ancestors of which all Christians are necessarily ashamed. The old have reason to be thankful that their sunset is brighter than their dawn, and the young may be grateful that their life did not begin until the darkness of the heathen night had been dispelled by that light which is the glory of all civilised nations.
Earnestly praying that God may grant his blessing on your deliberations and guide you on the right path, I leave you to the free discussion of the subjects I have indicated, and of any others you may think likely to promote the welfare of your race. Signed Thomas Gore Browne, Governor.
Response of the Chiefs:
NGATIWHATUA, Auckland; Chief Paora Tuhaere: listen both Pakeha and Maoris. This property (the marae) belongs to me; therefore I say, let me have the first speech in this meeting. Hearken, all ye people! two things commend themselves to my mind – the Governor and the Queen. For thereby do we, both Pakeha and Maori, reap good. This is my speech. The best riches for us are the laws of England. In my opinion, the greatest of all evils is war.
But we are all in the wrong. The Maori kills a Pakeha, the Pakeha says, let us fight; and when a Pakeha kills a Maori, then the Maori says, let us fight. For example – if I should be killed by a Pakeha, my tribe would say ‘Let us fight with the Pakeha’; and on the other hand were I to kill a Pakeha, even though he be a slave, the Pakeha would demand me as payment. These are my words. I entertained the Pakeha a long time ago, and I found him good. Hence, I say, I shall always remember the Pakeha, and I shall always remember too, with affection, the Governor who was sent here to protect us. The benefits which we received from him are – Christianity and the laws.
Now, listen! My affections at the present time lie between these two blessings. Listen again! My heart is satisfied. All that the law keeps from us is – the guns, powder, and brandy. Another subject comes under my attention. It is the misunderstanding between the Pakeha and the Maori about land. The Pakeha has his mode of selling land, and the Maori has his mode. Oh people, hearken! The Pakeha came to New Zealand to protect the Maori. As to the talk about Waitangi, that is Ngapuhi’s affair
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Thomas Walker Nene: I shall speak about the Governor, and the Pakeha. I am not accepting the Pakeha for myself alone, but for the whole of us. My desire when Governor Hobson arrived here was to take him as our Governor, in order that we might have his protection. Who knows the mind of the Americans, or that of the French? Therefore, I say let us have the English to protect us. Therefore, let this Governor be our Governor, and this Queen our Queen. Let us accept this Governor, as a Governor for the whole of us. Let me tell you, ye assembled tribes, I have but one Governor. Let this Governor be a king to us. When the Governor came here, he brought with him the word of God by which we live; and it is through the teaching of that word that we are able to meet together this day, under one roof. Therefore, I say, I know no sovereign but the Queen, and I shall never know any other. I am walking by the side of the Pakeha.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Tuki-haumene: my choice lies with the Governor and the Queen. This is all I desire at this time. People of the Runanga do you consent to the Queen? (Assent from his tribe)
NGATIMAHANGA, Waingaroa; Hemi Matini Te Nera: my words date from the time of Governor Hobson. The Governor asked, “will you be my friend?” I replied,” I will be your friend.” These were my words to the first Governor, to the second Governor, to the third Governor, and to the fourth Governor. I made this pledge in the presence of the Governor. They brought good things to this island. I shall not join that evil (the Maori king movement). All I desire is to live on terms of friendship with the Governor and Queen. Under the old law we perished; under the present law we live.
MANUKAU, Manukau; Rihari: let me say a word about the Maori. In former times he was poor; since the arrival of the Pakeha, he has become rich. The gospel too has reached this island. My God in the olden time was Ouenuku. I have a very different God now. I am grateful to the Pakeha for the following benefits, namely – Christianity, the laws, and goodwill. I must speak of these good things; for since the arrival of the Governor, good has remained in the land. This is all I have to say.
NGAITERANGI, Tauranga; Hamiora Tu: I desire to consider the Queen and the Governor my parents. The Governor must suppress evil in whatever tribe it maybe.
WAITAHA; Rangi: Waitaha is the place, and Waitaha the people. All I wish to see is justice, peace, and quietness. This will be our glory. Jesus Christ has said – “ let evil be overcome of good”. Let all things be conducted according to law, and under the Queen’s rule. I shall sit under that rule.
NGATIKAHUNGUNU, Hawkes Bay; Ngatuere: I shall speak truly. In the beginning missionaries came, also teachers. Thus Christianity came amongst us. It found its way to Wairarapa. The precepts of Christianity require that I abandon all my sins. Let your measures with Wi Kingi be severe. Suppress that evil. Welcome, I cry, good laws!
NGATIKAHUNGUNU, Hawkes Bay; Kariatiana: the Governor’s words are good. My heart says, the Pakeha and I are one, for I have not been concerned in the evil work. Let the Pakeha behave ill to me, then it will be time to retaliate.
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Hori Kingi Tahua: listen the native side, listen also the English. Many years since, the Europeans landed at the Bay of Islands. I invited them onshore. Since then the name of the Queen arrived in New Zealand, and I befriended it. After that came the Pakeha. Some of the Pakeha were killed – I avenged their death – I heard of the murder of Europeans at the South; I came from the North and avenged their death. After that came the missionaries and the gospel. It spread from North to the South. After that again the Governor arrived. I invited him onshore; from the North he came to Auckland, the flag was erected at Maiki – the Pakeha fell (at Kororareka); this was my first evil – I ill-treated the people whom I had invited and entertained. This was my sin. After that myself and grandfather, Kawiti, visited Kororareka to see Governor Grey. The Governor said,” Kawiti, do not look at what is past.” Kawiti consented to the word of Governor Grey, and promised to cease from all disturbances. I consented to this, and said, it is good. Then this Governor visited the Bay of Islands. We held meetings for the purpose of erecting the flag staff at Maiki at our own expense – we consented to this, erected the flag staff, and called it the union of two nations. I say, let these two people, the Pakeha and the Maori, be united.
PARAWHAU, Whangarei; Wi Pohe: I am from Ngapuhi. It was the Pakeha who planted love amongst us (referring to former exterminating wars carried on by the Ngapuhi). The time of identifying ourselves with the interests of the Pakeha was when the flag staff was erected at Maiki: this was our consenting for ever and ever.
PARAWHAU, Whangarei; Te Taurau: I am from Ngapuhi. There is but one name in heaven – Jehovah – so there is but one name upon earth – the Queen. Let us then rest under the Queen’s government.
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Mangonui: I salute you, oh Europeans! What I desire is the union of the European and Maori races.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Matene Te Whiwhi: first you brought baptism, and we were baptised in the name of Christ. There has now become only one Christ, and one Governor: we have become one in our allegiance to the Queen. This is my opinion: that these races should become united under the Queen. Let there be but one sovereign for us – the Queen. It is well, therefore, that there should be but one system. Leave it not for the hidden voice, or unknown tongue, to disapprove, or cause to misunderstand. Yours is a hidden, or unknown tongue; as ours is also. Even though it be so, let the Queen unite us.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Te Ahukaramu: first, God; second, the Queen; third, the Governor. Let there be one Queen for us. Make known to us all the laws, that we may all dwell under one law.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Otaki & Manawatu; Horomona Toremi: I have been in the mire for the last 20 years. Listen ye Pakeha gentlemen! It is by your means that I am permitted to stand forth now. You Pakeha are the only Chiefs. The Pakeha took me out of the mire: the Pakeha washed me. Let there be one Law for all this island.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Nopera Te Ngiha: in my opinion it is for the Governor to consider, and to decide, between the good and the bad. Let love and goodness emanate from the Governor. Let the Governor alone have the control.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Manawatu; Kuruhou: the government shall be my kingdom for ever and ever. I have no other word, but the Governor and the Queen for us.
TARANAKI, Wellington branch; Wiremu Tamihana: my business is to make known the grievance. Let me state my grievance. It is this. Our lands are not secured to us by Crown Grant. Every man is not allowed to get a Crown Grant to his land. Another grievance is the manner of negotiating land purchases. Notwithstanding there be only two or three consenting to the sale, their words are listened to, and the voice of the majority is not regarded. However the laws are good, and the hospitals for the sick are good.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Otaki; Parakaia Te Pohepa: is it possible that the thoughts of men should now turn backwards? Back to what! I do not approve of the plausible sayings of a certain tribe. Listen, Mr McLean. Listen, also, people of the Runanga. Let the Queen bind us together as an a bundle, and let God keep us together. This is all.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Hapimana: I have come to seek an outlet for the Maori. There is no difference of opinion. My people of Ngatitoa, you must side with the Queen.
Epiha Karoro: we are now united. As to the affairs of Wi Kingi, the fault is with the Maori – with those who sold the land. Where the Governor was wrong, was in being in too great a haste to fight. Formerly I saw some things that were wrong, but now all the wrong is on the Maori side. In my opinion had the Maori not taken part with Wi Kingi, then you would have been able to suppress it.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Manawatu; Ihakara Tokonui: in former times the evil that prevailed in this island was War: now the gospel has been received. Under the old system, peace was established one night, and on the morrow another war was commenced. When Christianity came, then for the first time were made manifest the good things of the Pakeha and the evil things of the Maori. The people of this island are committing two thefts. One is the “Maori king”, for they are robbing the Pakeha of his name. You alone, the Pakeha, posess what is good: we, the Maori, have nothing good. Here is my other point: you know what the bee is. Some bees work, some bees are lazy. You are like the working bee. You fill your hive, whether it be a box or an empty tree. But the Maori is like the other bee – the lazy one. And the Maori takes advantage of your work. I have another parable. When I looked upon the native rat, I thought it would not soon become extinct. But I look now, and it has been altogether exterminated by the present, or Hawaiki rat. Enough of that. I have now a word of disapproval. Why did you not write to us when the evil commenced? Had we been convened at an earlier time to consider this evil, then perhaps it would have been right.
NGATIWHATUA, Auckland; Te Keene: it appears to me that there are two codes of law – the one of God, the other of men. The Governor has said that there is the same law for both the European and Maori. Now, when I asked five shillings per acre for my land, the government reduced the price to sixpence. Therefore I have no law. On this account am I grieved. Only the shadow of the law belongs to me. On another instance I took a gun to a Pakeha to have it repaired. The government said no. Therefore I have no law. These laws are given to me to look at, not to participate in. Hereafter perhaps, we shall have a law whereby the white skin and the red skin shall be equal.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Eruera Kahawai: there is no one here to find fault with the Governor’s words. His words are altogether good. It was the introduction of the gospel that put an end to all our evil ways. Yes my friends, it was Christianity alone that did it. It put an end to thieving and many other sins. We have abandoned our old ways. The rule now is kindness to the orphan (Charity), peace, and agricultural pursuits. I shall not turn to the Maori side. I have now come under the wings of the Queen.
TUHOURANGI, Tarawera Lake; Kihirini: now we have become united in the name of the Queen. I am like the bird called Pipiwarauroa. The foster parent of that bird is the Piripiri. The Pipiwarauroa lays her eggs in the nest of that bird, leaving it to her (the Piripiri) the hatching and rearing of it. And when the young comes forth it cries “Witiora-witiora”. The Piripiri is not it’s real parent. So also with me. It is through the Queen that I have been permitted to stand here, and to enjoy life. The protection of the Queen is right. This shall be as a house to me. The rain may beat on the outside of the house, but I am inside, that is, I am with the Queen.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Winiata Pekamu Tohiteururangi: I shall have but only one Lord – only one. I shall have but one rule – not two.
WANGANUI, Wanganui; Te Mawae: I will be kind to the Pakeha at my place, Wanganui. I do not agree with the Waikato proceedings. As to my Pakeha, they are in my charge. If Waikato kill any of them, then I shall be the payment. Listen, people of Waikato, (looking around towards them), if you threaten to join the Ngatiruanuis to attack my Europeans of Wanganui, you must first cut off my head. The Europeans of Wanganui and I are one; and (using some gesticulations with spear in hand) who dares attack the Pakeha of my river Wanganui? They are under my charge. If I injure them, it is my affair; but let no one else attempt to do so.
NGATIAPA, Rangitikei; Tamati Aramoa: I am for ever joined to the Queen. I have sent to the Queen my token of allegiance – a greenstone mere. Listen, all of you. Ngatiapa and Whanganui will not engage in war. The Wanganui people will devote all their attention to peaceful pursuits and the cultivation of the soil.
WANGANUI, Wanganui; Hoani Wiremu Hipango: Pakeha came and they called this land New Zealand, thus altering its name. So, all the sayings of the present time are different from the past. Let the laws be made known in every place that all men may honour them. I want to see the Maori and the Pakeha united, that their goodness may be mutual.
NGATIKAHUNGUNU, Wairarapa; Raniera Te Iho: I first came to understand the time of Governor Grey – under him and Mr McLean. They came and planted the tikanga at Wairarapa. Justice rules in New Zealand. I offer my land, in the proper manner, to the Governor. True, the land passes across to the Governor, but then I get my price for it. Should I afterwards stretch forth my hand after my land? That would be wrong. I prove my allegiance to the Queen by parting with my lands. I give up my land to Queen Victoria, and to the kings and queens, her successors. As to that talk at Waikato, I know nothing about it.
TE TAWERA, ; Tamati Hapimana: I have but one law, the law of God. It was through the missionaries that I came to know what was right. It was like God’s command to John,” Go and prepare the path,” for the missionaries came first and cleared the way, and afterwards the Lord came. But you give us the dark side of your laws. You make the law void where it concerns us.
PUKAKI, Manukau; Ihaka, chief of Pukaki: it rests with you to suppress the evil – that peace and happiness may cover the land, because the former wars and jealousies disappeared, when the light of Christianity shone forth. My friends, the native chiefs, my desire is this: that religion, goodwill and peace should prevail throughout the land. If you approve, accept these things.
Be strong to suppress the evil, that confusion may not grow. If confusion should spring up in any particular part, let the chiefs hasten there, to put it down, and let the European chiefs do the same, who are of the same mind. Let them both go together for the purpose of putting down evil and confusion. My own desire as this, that peace may prevail throughout the land for ever, and that our warfare should be directed towards the increase of schools, and the promotion of religion.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Te Amohau: let there be only one road. In former times it was evil; now Christianity has come among us, and we live in peace. In former times we were lost in the dark, but the gospel has come, and now we live.
NGATIAWA, Bay of Plenty; Te Makarini: listen all of you to these words. Had the Queen’s tikanga become generally acknowledged by us, these evils would have been averted, and the tikanga would have prospered. I mean by this to blame you, but I leave it with the people of this Runanga to find fault.
NGAITERANGI, Tauranga; Wiremu Patene: Where were you at the time of the sprouting (alluding to the king movement)? It appears to me that this thing has grown (taken root) in New Zealand. Had you convened this meeting sooner, it would have been well, but you have allowed to become a great tree. This is what I see, this is where you have been wrong. You acted foolishly. Had you written to us at the commencement, then it would have been right, whereas now it has become a tree. But remember Governor, that the Maori king is child’s play. The Queen’s Mana is with us.
NGAITERANGI, Tauranga; Te Mutu: Friends, I have but one word. Do not believe in the king for that is an evil work. Do not magnify that, lest it increase. If you ignore him, then that king will vanish.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Te Ngahuruhuru: the deceits do not belong to the Pakeha, but to the Maori alone. The Maori is wronging the Pakeha. I am an advocate for peace. Show kindness to the Pakeha. Show good feelings to the Governor. I belong to the Mana of the Queen, to the Mana of the Governor. As to the setting up of the king – not that. I join the Queen. I have nothing else to say. Do not split up, and form one party for the Queen, and another for the Maori king: that would be wrong.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Pererika: I have found out the evils of my mother – I mean, of the Maori. I have two mothers; I am grieved with one of them. She fed me with fern root, which was hard to digest. She gave me to wear a native cloak with a very thick collar, which hurt my neck. From my other mother I have received good clothes. And when I went to bathe, and my face turned pale, my first mother painted it with kokowai (red ochre). This shows the inferiority of my first mother. But, Mr McLean, do you take charge of my goods? Listen now, hold them fast. If you give in to my first mother, then I shall go and take them back. Here are my goods – here are my lands: take charge of them. Here are our headlands. Don’t you concern yourself about dividing my goods: I shall please myself about that. Let me hand them over to you, then it will be all right. But don’t take them forcibly.
TE TAWERA, Bay of Plenty; Te Rongotoa: my Maori mother has ceased to exist. You Pakeha shall be my parent for ever and ever.
UNKNOWN IWI; Pirihi Te Kotuku: listen all of you. The fault was mine. I interfered to dispose of the land of another. It is from causes of this kind that evil springs up in New Zealand. From the time of my birth I have not ceased to evil. Although I may be wrong, let me offer my sentiments. Understanding now begins to develop itself in me. I am unable to reply to the Governor. The fault was mine: my heart is hardened. If a man takes my land, then I am sad and angry. If a man takes my wife and violates her, then too am I angry and grieved. If my child is murdered, then I am angry and sad. And if my house is plundered and my goods stolen, then am I angry and sad. As to Te Rangitake’s affair, that is another matter. I do not approve of that. The affair also of the King I do not approve of. I join the Queen.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Taiapo: after what manner shall I address the Governor? The evils in my opinion are theft, interference, and land taking. Perhaps there is evil in the heart of the Maori. I shall not go there (Taranaki). Listen, people, to my opinions about this evil of the Maori. I do not know whether it is the fault of the Pakeha or the fault of the Maori. But it appears to me that the Governor was wrong, because he did not first call together the Maori teachers, that they might arrange it (the dispute between William King and the Governor about Teira’s land). Had he done so, it might have been settled. As it is, the matter is in your hands, Mr McLean.
GOVERNMENT INTERJECTION; Mr McLean: Taiapo, this affair has not been overlooked. It was inquired into even in the time of Governor Hobson; and up to the present time, many years having elapsed, every attention has been given to it. You say that had the teachers been permitted to arrange it the matter would have been settled. Is not Tamati Waaka a teacher? He tried to arrange it, but they would not listen. Also Wiremu Te Awaitaia, and Wiremu Tamihana, and old Potatau (who has just passed away): are they not teachers? They went, but they would not listen to their words.
NGATIPIKIAO, Rotoiti and Maketu; Rirituku Te Puehu: hitherto I have not belonged to the Governor. I now join the Governor for the first time. The words of the Governor are good. I am now a Maori, tomorrow I shall be a Pakeha. Hitherto I have been a Maori – now I join the Queen. Because we, the two races, have now become united. I shall not attach myself to the king or to Rangitake; I shall not follow those things. This King affair is a source of trouble – it is the introduction of an evil among the Maori. I therefore say, let both races acknowledge the Queen.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE; Mr McLean: (reading the third clause) this treats of her Majesty’s protection, whereby New Zealand and the Maori people are defended from all aggressions by any foreign power. Has not this pledge been carried out? Has any foreign power disturbed this country? People of other nations have certainly come here, but their mission has always been a friendly one. They have come to settle or to trade. They have never assumed any authority in this Colony.
Some of you have said that the laws for the Maori are not the same as the laws for the Pakeha. This is in some measure true. Children cannot have what belongs to a person of mature age; and the child does not grow to be a man in one day. This clause also states that the Queen “confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish to retain the same in their possession.” And this pledge has been strictly observed.
In no single instance has your land been taken from you. It is only when you are disposed to sell, and not before, that the Government gets possession of your lands. Where is the man who has been deprived of any of his land?
The fourth clause speaks of the Treaty of Waitangi. Some have said that this Treaty was confined to the Ngapuhi. I maintain that was not a Treaty with the Ngapuhi only, but a general one. It certainly commenced with the Ngapuhi. The Treaty is binding on the whole.
And, further, I believe that has been a great boon to you; and one, therefore, which you should not lose sight of nor disregard.
The fifth clause states that the Governor has been instructed to maintain all the stipulations of the Treaty inviolate. Now, if in the opinion of this Conference the Governor has violated any of the terms of this Treaty, you have an opportunity of telling him so. If anyone here has any grievance, let him make it known at this Conference, and not carry it back to his home with him.
The sixth clause says if you should decide upon writing replies to the address, this clause will be a guide to you. You observe that the Governor requests you confer with him frankly and without reserve.
Seventh clause: this has direct reference to the Maori King movement. You should freely express your opinions on the subject. The movement did not possibly originate in any evil desire. With some the motive may have been a good one, but it involved the idea of establishing a national independence. The old chief, Potatau, who has just died, professed no feeling but that of kindness and goodwill to the Pakeha. Therefore it would not, perhaps, be just to treat the matter with great severity. But this I may say to you, that while this movement lasts it will prove a great hindrance to the establishment of peace and the success of beneficial measures for the two races. The protection of England has been solicited and accepted by this country, and it is therefore wrong to talk about any other sovereignty. The Governor invites you to state your views and opinions on this matter very plainly.
Clause 12: it is not intended to hide from you what you may hear from other sources, namely the fact that the English in former times often invaded other countries. Their ancestors, when they took possession of a place, frequently destroyed its inhabitants. But when Christianity obtained a greater influence amongst them, Wise men began to reflect on the sin of destroying human beings created by God to live on the earth. The Queen directed the Parliament to consider the subject, when it was proved that wrongs had been committed. The evidence adduced confirmed the fact that aboriginal subjects had been ill treated. This occasioned much shame to many good people in England, and it was determined in Parliament that such proceedings should not be permitted in future.
About this period attention was directed to New Zealand as a field for European settlement, and it was decided by the Queen and her ministers, that in occupying the country, the New Zealanders should be treated with kindness, and a humane policy pursued towards them, with a view to their becoming a prosperous people, and united with the English. There is no desire to conceal from you the wrongs being committed elsewhere, but Christian principles have ruled the conduct of the British government in these Islands. The policy pursued has been one of uniform kindness, and in accordance with the precepts of Christianity.
Clause 13: this clause refers to the difference of language as the chief obstacle to your participation in English councils. This is a disadvantage to both races. The Maori does not understand the Pakeha, and accuses him of saying what he did not mean; and the Pakeha, on the other hand, imagines something very different to what the Maori has said. From this cause they differ with each other and misunderstandings arise. Now, if the language in common use was the same, these difficulties would disappear. Hence the desirability of educating your children in the English tongue.
Clause 16: the Governor tells you that the Queen will afford you protection against dangers from without, but she cannot without your cooperation save you from internal feuds. It is therefore the duty of every man to help, that peace and good order may prevail.
The last clause: this ends the Governor’s address to you. He concludes with a prayer to God for his blessing on your deliberations.
NGATIWHATUA, Auckland; Paora Tuhaere: my words now are in disapproval of those expressions of the Governor’s. The government has got possession of Taurarua (Judges’ Bay, Parnell), and I have not yet seen the payment. This land is occupied by bishops and judges, great people, but I am not paid for it. I applied to the first Governor for redress, and to the second, the third and fourth, without obtaining it. The next case occurred in the time of Governor Grey. I mean Matapipi, which was taken through some mistake as to the boundaries. I did not receive any payment for it. I am continually urging the payment for those pieces of land.
I have two cases on which to rest my charge. Had these lands belonged to some people, they would have made it a greater cause for war than that which originated the present one (Taranaki). I content myself with constantly asking for satisfaction. I refer to clause 13. This is an excellent thing. Let us be admitted into your councils. This would be the very best system. The Pakeha have their councils, and the Maori have separate councils, but this is wrong. Evil results from these councils not being one.
I am desirous that the minds of the Europeans and the Maori should be brought into unison with each other. Then if a Maori killed another Maori his crime would be tried and adjudicated on by the understandings of both Pakeha and Maori. And if one man should interfere with the land of another, then let the same council try him. When a woman has been violated, let the same course obtain. Murders and makutu (revenge killings) would come before the same Tribunal, because there would then be but one law for both Pakeha and Maori, and the understandings of both people would be exercised in the council.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Eruera Kahawai: the Governor perhaps thinks that we shall conceal our views. No, the Maori will fully express their opinions to him. The Governor probably expects that we who have now assembled to meet him should keep a part to ourselves. Let it not be said that the opinions have changed afterwards. No, let there be no changing of opinion.
Let me state here that should a Pakeha take the liberty of injuring or killing a Maori I shall not retaliate in the same way. I shall give him up to the hand of the law. My hand shall not touch him; but I will leave it to the law to punish him. Though the wrong may be committed as far off as Rotorua, I shall bring the offender here to Auckland to be tried. And in like manner, if a Maori should injure a Pakeha, I would hand him over to the law. These are the sentiments of all the tribe. I mean the people of Rotorua. This speech is as much theirs as mine. Even though it should be Tukihaumene, or Taiapo, or Ngahuruhuru, who committed himself by injuring a Pakeha, I would give him up to be tried for it. There is an old man in my tribe named Tawangawanga who holds the relation of father to me. If even he committed himself, I would give him up. And if Paora should do so I would give him up and the law should try him.
This is what I have to say about the King in this island. When they first set up that King I opposed it. I was not willing that there should be two powers in New Zealand. I spoke thus at the time. I compaired New Zealand to a poporo (fruit bearing tree). The Governor, I said, has settled on the poporo and is eating the fruit: the Maori King comes afterwards to drive him off. I will not therefore consent to that King. When the law came, the evils of the Maori customs became evident. I approve of the Governor’s words. If they were wrong I should tell you so. Had he said that my lands should be taken away, I should disapprove of that; or that my sick friend should be put to death without cause, or that my provisions should be used without my having any payment, I should disapprove. But now when the Governor says that the Pakeha and Maori races should be united as of one flesh, who is able to disapprove? Who is the man?
ARAWA, Bay of Plenty; Tohi Te Ururangi: we have European law now. I am resting on the government. I will reveal the good. If I should turn backwards, let that be considered a sin, and let me be punished for it with the lash of the law. I have no grievance about my lands. Let the Governor keep the law of the land inviolate. When war breaks out in any place, let the law enquire into it. Should evil spring up in my midst among my people let the law enquire into it. When I saw my corpse (alluding to his relative who was murdered by Marsden) I left it to law, and it was right. It was then that I became attached to the law. That was my first consenting to the Queen through which I came to know good. Had I then followed Maori customs, many lives would have perished. I left it to the Queen’s law and I saw good. With my understanding I discovered the evil of my heart, and abandoned it. I now give my adherence to the Queen. I now give my adherence to the one law. If evil should appear in any place, let the law dispose of it.
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Tamati Waaka Nene: men of Whanganui, be kind to the Europeans. Men of Wairarapa, be kind to the Europeans. Men of Wellington, be kind to the Europeans, that you may see good things. If you do what is evil, let me remind you that my wife does not know how to weave garments. Wherefore I say, let the Europeans weave garments for me; and I in consequence will be kind to the Europeans. These things, and these houses are not of our manufacture, no, they are of European origin. Chiefs of Whangarei, be kind to the Europeans, that we may eat pleasant food. Shall we again feed upon the roots of the wild convolvulus, fern root, and the pollen of the bulrushes?
TUHOURANGI, Tarawera Lake; Te Kihirini: the good things which have come to us are for the welfare of our bodies. The goodness consists in the justice of the law. Now murder was a cause of contention and fighting in olden times. When the Pa was captured, 100 persons died for the sin of one man. At the present time the life of the murderer is the atonement for his guilt. I approve of the system; I approve of the laws of the Queen. My reason for liking the Europeans is that they bring us garments and mills. These are the things which I value and approve.
FOOTNOTE FROM IAN WISHART
Naturally, none of this proves that things remained happy ever after.
They didn’t. The divisiveness of the land wars and subsequent Crown seizures made enemies of some former friends, and injustices were done. However, what the transcripts do clearly show is the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi as Maori and Pakeha understood it in July 1860.
Any suggestion of dual sovereignty was ridiculed by Maori chiefs, who clearly understood the term in the Pakeha sense of the word and who wanted the Pakeha legal system to embrace them and their affairs.
“Tino rangatiratanga” as we understand it today was a concept laughed at by the rangatira in their time. To them, tino rangitiratanga meant a return to the old ways, to murder, mayhem and theft. Who wants to go back to living in grass huts and eating “bulrushes”? asked Tamati Waaka Nene.
So why does modern treaty scholarship seem so divorced from the historical reality?
Perhaps because it fails to take into account the paradigm shift occurring during the latter half of the 19th century. When the Treaty was initially signed in 1840, the bulk of ordinary Maori still lived in their home villages in their home territories still under the active control of their Iwi chief. But, by assimiliating into the wider immigrant culture – as the Maori themselves were seeking – the lines of responsibility between Crown and Iwi became blurred.
Where, previously, a theft inside a Maori village was a matter for the chief and kaumatua to handle, and the British had no intention of intervening, where did responsibility fall when a dispute arose between Maori of different tribes far from their homes? It was, as the speeches reflect, left to Pakeha law to sort out.
While modern radical academics allege the Colonial Government “imposed” its laws on Maori against their will, the speeches show chiefs repeatedly inviting the imposition. Demanding it, even.
Such widespread assimilation and transfer of authority meant that the powers resting with chiefs at the time of Waitangi had largely been devolved to local Pakeha magistrates by the time Queen Victoria died in 1901. While technically chiefs still had complete justicial authority over their lands and tribe under the Treaty, how many actually wanted to use it? And how many ordinary Maori, faced with punishment via a magistrate versus execution via tribal “utu”, would voluntarily choose the old laws over the new?
The cold hard reality is that relations between Maori and Pakeha had long since evolved beyond the Treaty’s limits in a natural organic process. Today’s treaty revisionism is little more than Maori dissatisfaction with their place in society by the end of the 20th century, manifesting itself in a highly-romanticised rearview survey of their culture – a rose coloured spectacles look at history, so to speak. Pakeha are guilty of similar fantasising – we look back to our own cultural legends like Camelot when things get tough.
We are, all of us it seems, each seeking our own Return to Eden. Wherever that may be and, in the case of some activists, whatever the cost.