Only in the last 25 years has anyone considered it an established fact that the Treaty of Waitangi created a partnership between Maori and the Crown. For almost 150 years, this view was largely unheard of. Moreover, there is not a shred of evidence that the British authorities intended to establish such a partnership, nor that the chiefs saw this as the Treaty’s object.Lord Normanby’s 1839 instructions to Captain William Hobson demonstrate that the Crown’s purpose was “sovereign authority over” those of the “accepting aborigines of New Zealand” who would agree to place themselves “under Her Majesty’s dominion.”
Modern-day revisionists claim the Maori understanding of the Treaty was that “chiefly authority” would be preserved under the “governorship” of the Crown. The Maori version of the Treaty supposedly failed to convey the meaning of the English version, and the Treaty negotiations failed to clarify the difference.
That the chiefs were victims of Crown duplicity is not supported by the facts. The chiefs of coastal tribes had lived and worked alongside Europeans for more than two decades. Their young men had travelled all over the world in British ships, observed British sovereignty in operation, and returned to tell the tale.
Ngapuhi were the first tribe to obtain muskets after Hongi Hika returned from England in 1821 with a large quantity of firearms, powder and shot. These weapons were used by Ngapuhi to overrun much of the North Island in the first of the Musket Wars. A destructive arms race ensued. Thousands of Maori died as other tribes acquired European weapons of their own.
Maori had no national consciousness before the Treaty was signed, seeing themselves as belonging to separate iwi. With the coming of the musket, the various tribes possessed for the first time weapons of mass extermination with which to be revenged upon traditional enemies. The farsighted soon came to see that only outside intervention could put a stop to this ever-escalating cycle of violence.
The words of the chiefs themselves display a full awareness that their acceptance of Governor Hobson would place him in authority over them, and that behind Hobson stood Queen Victoria. Anyone who has read eyewitness accounts of the signing of the Treaty and continues to believe Maori thought they were going into “partnership” with the Crown needs to go away and boil their head to clear their thoughts.
On 5 February 1840, the Treaty was first debated at Waitangi by Ngapuhi chiefs assembled there for that purpose.
Te Kemara (Ngati Kawa) spoke first, observing that the effect of signing the Treaty would be for “the Governor to be up, and Te Kemara down.” Under the Governor, he could be “tried and condemned” and even “hung by the neck” should he behave badly enough.
Rewa (Ngati Taweke) spoke next, saying: “This country is ours … we are the Governor.” Like Te Kemara, Rewa saw that chiefly authority would be trumped by that of Hobson: “[Authority over] Your land will be taken from you and your dignity as chiefs will be destroyed.”
Moka (Patukeha) then stood up. “Let the governor return to his own country. Let us remain where we are [as sovereign powers in the land].”
Tamati Pukututu (Te Uri-o-Te-Hawato) was the first to speak up for Hobson: “Sit, Governor, sit, for me, for us. Remain here, a father for us.”
Matiu (Uri-o-Ngongo) stood next, reiterating what the previous speaker had said: “Do not go back, but sit here, a Governor, a father for us.”
Kawiti (Ngati Hine) was another who rejected the Governor: “We do not want to be tied up and trodden down. We are free. Let the missionaries remain, but, as for thee, return to thine own country.” His fellow chiefs were warned that acceptance of Hobson meant the Governor would be able to order: “Kawiti must not paddle this way, nor paddle that way, because the Governor said ‘No.’”
Pumuka (Te Roroa) rose next. To the chiefs, he said: “I will have this man a foster-father for me.” To the Governor: “I wish to have two fathers – thou and Busby, and the missionaries.”
Warerahi (Ngaitawake), rose to address his fellow chiefs: “Is it not good to be in peace? We will have this man as our Governor” and “Say to this man of the Queen, Go back! No, no.”
Hakiro (Ngatinanenane) was another recalictrant: “We are not thy people. We are free. We will not have a Governor.”
Tareha (Ngatirehia) stood after Hakiro and told Hobson: “We, we only are the chiefs, rulers. We will not be ruled over.” Never would he accept “the Governor up high” and Tareha “down, under, beneath!”
Rawiri (Ngatitautahi) rose to greet the Governor in English as his “Father,” saying, “Stay here, O Governor! … that we may be in peace.”
Hone Heke (Matarahurahu) reiterated what previous speakers in favour of Hobson had said: “Remain, Governor, a father for us.”
Hakitara (Te Rarawa), also stood up for the Governor, though most of his words were drowned out by side conversations taking place after Heke had spoken.
Tamati Waka Nene (Ngatihao) then told Hobson: “[R]emain for us – a father, a judge, a peacemaker. Stay thou, our friend, our father, our Governor.”
Eruera Maehe Patuone, Tamati Waka Nene’s older brother, spoke next, saying: “Remain here with us, to be a father for us, that the French have us not.”
Te Kemara (who’d spoken first) here jumped up again, saying to the Governor: “Go away; return to thine own land.” To the chiefs, he said: “Let us all be alike [in rank, in power].” Then in an abrupt about-face he told Hobson: “O Governor! remain. But, the Governor up! Te Kemara down, low, flat! No, no, no.”
After the Treaty was endorsed by the chiefs at Waitangi, Crown agents went throughout New Zealand seeking signatures. Piko, a chief at Coromandel, rejected the Treaty because he could “see no necessity for placing himself under the dominion of any prince or queen, as he was desirous of governing his own tribe.”
Mananaui Te Heuheu of Tuwharetoa also refused to sign, saying “I will never consent to the mana of a woman resting upon these islands. I myself will be chief in these isles: therefore begone!”
The partnership fallacy came about because the 1984 Labour Government placed references to “the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” into most of the legislation it passed. What many would see as a deliberate failure to define these “principles” in statue then allowed the Waitangi Tribunal and activist judges on the Court of Appeal to usurp the proper law-making function of Parliament.
The source of the partnership myth can be traced to an erroneous decision of the Court of Appeal in a 1987 case involving the New Zealand Maori Council. It is founded upon what researcher, Alan Everton describes as: “nothing more than the opinion of five judges, who combined a lamentable ignorance of New Zealand history with a willingness to ignore the constitutional principle that they were appointed to apply the law, not make it.
The Court of Appeal’s proper response in this matter would have been to reserve its decision, then ask Parliament to define in statute how (if at all) “the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” differed from its simple black letter clauses. Yet Cooke J. managed to state in his ruling that the Treaty was “somewhat akin to a partnership.”
How could that be? As Alan Everton says, “the Treaty was a treaty of cession, and like all such was concerned with rights and territory, with defining what rights and territory were held or ceded by the contracting parties.”
Article I ceded sovereignty to the Crown “absolutely and without reservation.” If the use of “tino rangatiratanga” in Article II of the Maori Treaty text meant that chiefly authority was to be preserved under the Crown’s governance, surely the relevant clause would have mentioned only “chiefs.”
In fact, the Treaty guarantees “Te tino rangatiratanga/full authority over their lands, forests, fisheries and other property [the correct translation in 1840]” not only to the chiefs, but to “ki nga tangata katoa of Niu Tirani” that is, “to all the people of New Zealand. From the moment the Treaty was signed, “all the people of New Zealand” also meant non-Maori.
Correctly construed, Article II contains the same undertaking in both English and Maori: a guarantee of property rights to ”all the people of New Zealand” through the exercise of the sovereign power acknowledged in Article I as henceforth prevailing.
Any right to “manage their own affairs” which Maori might enjoy stemming from Article II is the same right accorded to all New Zealand citizens: the right to ownership and control of personal property.
Should doubt remain that the Treaty did not form a “partnership,” Article III grants to the “Natives [not just to the chiefs] all the rights and privileges of British subjects.” Clearly, individual Maori could not enjoy all the rights of the English, yet remain subject to chiefly authority as well.
In 1922, Sir Apirana Ngata summarised the effect of the Treaty of Waitangi in these terms: “Article I of the Treaty transfers all chiefly authority to the Queen forever, and the embodiment of that authority is now the New Zealand Parliament. For that reason, all demands for absolute Maori authorities are nothing more than wishful thinking.”
There can be no possibility that the Treaty of Waitangi formed a sovereignty partnership. Having signed the Treaty, the chiefs became not partners, but subjects of the Crown, as did all other Maori. As subjects of the Crown – that is, New Zealand citizens – all those descended in part from the tangata whenua are today entitled to the same rights as non-Maori citizens: no less, and certainly no more.
In a free society all citizens enjoy equality in citizenship. This is so regardless of whether some of a citizen’s ancestors arrived in a waka in 1350, a sailing vessel in 1850, a steamship in 1950, or more recently by airliner. Even someone who put his hand up 30 seconds ago at a swearing-in ceremony is entitled to all the rights of citizenship. Prior arrival or ancestral longevity in the land is no basis for special privilege.
Group rights, whereby one group enjoys separate, different, or superior rights on the basis of group membership, are an anathema to a free society. They require a broker in the form of an activist government to forcibly take rights from one group in order to bestow them upon another.
As Richard Prebble reminds us: “One group’s positive discrimination is another group’s negative discrimination.”
If New Zealander don’t want a civil war anytime soon, now might be a good time to reject the divisive, Marxist-spawned, racist nonsense of state-sponsored identity politics.