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Treaty of Waitangi - New Zealand

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Treaty of Waitangi

The treaty of Waitangi is considered to be New Zealand's founding document however since its signing in 1840 it has been an on-going source of conflict due to differences between the versions and the failure of the British to honour the agreement. The treaty of Waitangi has two texts, one in Maori and one in English and this has caused conflict between the Maoris and the British. Despite the problems caused by the different versions, both represent an agreement which Maori gave the rights to develop British settlement while the crown guaranteed Maori full protection and full citizenship rights. After the signing of the treaty, Maori quickly began to realise that the British weren't sticking to their side of the deal.

The document was signed by 40 Maori chiefs starting with Hone Heke and by representatives of the British crown on the 6th February 1840 but on the same year on September more than 500 chiefs had signed the document. But after the treaty was signed the Maoris had given up their sovereignty / authority to the British in return for protection for all people of New Zealand. British sovereignty was proclaimed over the country on 21 May 1840 and New Zealand became a British colony in 1841.

The treaty was translated by Henry Williams and by the help of his son Edward Williams into the Maori language overnight on the 4th of February. 500 Maoris debated the document before it was signed on the 6th February. Some Maori thought the treaty was a good idea like Tamati Waka Nene saying that "Pakeha would bring plenty trade and that it would be best for Maori and Pakeha could be friends forever" and others did not agree like Te Ruki Kawiti of Ngapuhi saying "We do not want to be tied up and trodden down, we are free"!

The two different versions of the treaty caused conflict between the two colonies because of the differences around the interpretation of the Maori word Kawanatanga (governorship). The Maori version of the treaty says that Maori give kawanatanga to the British. The Maori version of the treaty did not say that Maori would give rangatiratanga (sovereignty) to the British while in the English version of the treaty states that Maori gave sovereignty to the British queen. The treaty promises that Maori would keep their rangatiratanga over their lands and everything else.

Few years after the signing of the treaty the government did not do what it said it would do in the treaty, which was to let Maori own and control their lands. Like the New Zealand Company purchased land in the wellington area illegally and then forced the Maori owners off their land. Commissioner Spain recognised that the company's title was invalid, but because the settlers had already arrived the land was not returned to the owners. This means that our capital city



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