Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bruce Moon: What really happened at Waitangi on that day

It is time to set out what really happened at some critical moments on New Zealand's history.

From Hobson's brief from the Colonial Office, 14th August 1839: "The Queen ... disclaims ... to govern them ... unless the free intelligent consent of the natives, expressed according to their established usages, shall first be obtained."

At Waitangi on 5th February 1840 in his opening remarks, Hobson stated "You yourselves have often asked the King of England to extend his protection unto you.  Her Majesty now offers you that protection in this treaty ... But as the law of England gives no civil powers to Her Majesty out of her domain, her efforts to do you good will be futile unless you consent. (Our emphasis)

The words of the chiefs who spoke against signing were:

Te Kemara, chief of Ngatikawa: "Health to the O Governor ... I shall never say 'Yes' to your staying.  Were all to be on equality, then, perhaps, Te Kemara would say 'Yes; ' but for the Governor to be up and Te Kemara down ... low, small, a worm, a crawler -no, no, no.

Rewa, chief of Ngaitawake: "I will not say 'Yes' to the Governor's remaining.  No, no, no; return.  What! this land to become like Port Jackson."

Moka, chief of Patuheka: " Let the Governor return to his own country: let us remain as we were."

Kawiti, chief of Ngatihine: "I will not say 'Yes' to thy sitting here.  What! to be fired at in our boats and canoes by night!  What! to be fired at when quietly paddling our canoes by night!  I, even I, Kawiti, must not paddle this way, nor paddle that way, because the Governor said 'No'".

Hakiro, who appeared to speak on behalf of Titore, deceased chief of Ngatinanenane, arose and said: "O Governor! I say no, no, no. ... We will not have a Governor!"

Tareha, chief of Ngatirehia: "thou, the Governor up high up, up, as this tall paddle".  Here he held up a common canoe paddle and continued: "and I down, under, beneath!  No, no, no.  I will never say 'Yes, stay'".

Wai of Ngaitawake also opposed signing.  

No others spoke against it.

It will be clear to any reasonable person that these chiefs understood clearly that by signing the treaty, all would become subordinate to the Governor, though some had excessive ideas of what his powers would be.  Simply said: they knew that by signing they would cede sovereignty.

On the next day, 6th February, Te Kemara, Rewa, Moka, Hakiro and Tareha all signed the treaty.  Kawiti signed later. As Te Kemara admitted afterwards, his speech had been all "mere show".  Later before the land commissioners he stated that he had disposed of his lands in a fair sale. 

Rewa. Moka, Hakiro and Tareha  all lived close to French bishop Pompallier and had been told they would become slaves if they signed - the opposite of the truth but Hobson made it clear that this was untrue and that all religions would be tolerated. 

On 6th, Marupo of Wanaurara and Ruhe of Ngatihineira both spoke against signing and then signed the Treaty, Marupo twice!  Genuine opposition was virtually non-existent.

More was said than is related above of course.  It can be "googled" easily by entering "Colenso - the Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi."  While Colenso did not publish his account until 1890, it is a condensed version of his notes taken at the time, which he checked for accuracy with several of those present including Busby. 

On 10th July 1860, Governor Gore Browne invited chiefs to attend a conference at Kohimarama to ascertain their opinion of the Taranaki rebels.  Lasting for a month, it was the greatest assembly of chiefs which ever occurred, around two hundred attending in total.  Minutes of the meeting were taken with much care in English and Maori and have been republished recently by Victoria University of Wellington.  Again, they can be obtained by "googling" 'Victoria University Proceedings of the Kohimarama Conference Comprising Nos.13 to 18 of the "Maori Messenger"'.

With one or two very minor exceptions, the chiefs clearly affirmed their support of the Governor, approved of his actions and condemned the activities of the Taranaki rebels. Many declarations were made of their loyalty to the Queen, their sovereign, some Ngapuhi chiefs speaking thus:

Treaty veteran, Waka Nene:"I know no sovereign but the Queen, and I shall never know any other."

Te Taurau: I am from Ngapuhi ... there [is] but one name upon earth ... the Queen.  Let us then rest under the [Queen's] Government.

Wi Te Tete:"let me have the last word!  We have now become one people under the Queen."

The Conference finished with a resolution passed unanimously at the last session: 

"That this conference takes cognisance of the fact that several chiefs, members thereof, are pledged to each other to do nothing inconsistent with their declared recognition of the Queen’s sovereignty, and of the unions of the two races".
When Anne Salmond stated her support for recent Ngapuhi spokesmen who claimed that they had never ceded sovereignty, I quoted these statements to her.  She replied that the chiefs would not remember accurately what had been said twenty years ago. (Email to me, 24th August 2010)   This is pure nonsense of course.  The chiefs' memories were well-trained and would certainly know accurate accounts of Waitangi proceedings. 


Then we have the testimony of Rev. Samuel Warren:

'I was present at the great meeting at Waitangi when the celebrated treaty was signed, and also at a meeting which took place subsequently on the same subject at Hokianga.  There was a great deal of talk by the natives, principally on the subject of securing their proprietary right to the land, and their personal liberty.  Everything else they were only too happy to yield to the Queen, as they said repeatedly, because they knew they could only be saved from the rule of other nations by sitting under the shadow of the Queen of England.  In my hearing they frequently remarked, "Let us be one people.  We had the gospel from England, let us have the law from England."

‘My impression at the time was that the natives perfectly understood that by signing the treaty they became British subjects, and though I lived amongst them more than fifteen years after the event, and often conversed with them on the subject, I never saw the slightest reason to change my opinion.  The natives were at the time in mortal fear of the French, and justly thought they had done a pretty good stroke of business when they placed the British lion between themselves and the French eagle.'  

While Warren was writing in 1863, he had, as he said, conversed with the tribesmen over more than fifteen years.  It would be very prejudiced to doubt this assertion from Warren.


All reasonable people will see clearly that the foregoing evidence is reliable.  The chiefs ceded sovereignty to the Queen completely and for ever when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi and they knew full well what they were doing.

In doing so, all Maoris, including the many thousand slaves of other Maoris whose conditions were abject, received the full rights of the people of England, a precious gift, and the rights of all the people of New Zealand to own private property were affirmed.

That is all which was agreed by the signatories to the Treaty and those who deny it today or claim that it said anything else (but for a sentence about land purchases which soon became a dead letter) are dishonouring the Treaty.  The Waitangi Tribunal and today's Ngapuhi spokesmen are the greatest offenders.


Barry said...

That's a good post - thank you.

I think the Waitangi Tribunal is stacked with part-Maoris and is biased and impartial. It's dishonest and never makes any sense and should immediately be closed down.

Don McKenzie said...

Bruce, Thank you for such a definitive essay.D

Anonymous said...

Like all Waitangi Tribunal reports, the Tribunal has put forward a marathon piece of special pleading on behalf of the claimants. If one has only read the Tribunal’s account of events, the catalogue of wrongs [sic] suffered by Northern Maori seems extensive and crying out for redress.

The historical record tells a different story.

Shorn of its excess verbiage, the Tribunal’s Report mythologises assorted subgroups of Rousseauian noble savages living in peace and amity with one another, who failed to understand that in signing the Treaty of Waitangi, they were ceding sovereignty in perpetuity to the Crown. Instead, they thought they were getting a co-governance arrangement under which the Crown would exercise authority only over Europeans, and that Maori would continue to be ruled in tribal style by chiefs.

Furthermore, these noble savages were too stupid to understand what a land sale meant, believing instead that they were granting some kind of temporary occupancy right, so as to benefit economically from the presence of white men living alongside them.

In drawing these conclusions, the Tribunal has applied a number of false premises and selectively ignored the historical record.

As usual, the principle applied by the Waitangi Tribunal seems to be the one that says you can have your cake and eat it too. It accuses the Crown of not ensuring Northern Maori’s pre-European way of life remained undisturbed, and on the other hand of failing to ensure that they enjoyed all the advantages of the white man’s world. Northern Maori were entitled to keep their old hunting and fishing grounds, and to have thousands of acres set aside too for the time it would pay to go dairy farming.

Such assertions are based on Lord Normanby’s 1839 written instructions to Captain Hobson that: “The acquisition of land by the Crown for the future settlement of British subjects must be confined to such districts as the natives can alienate without distress or serious inconvenience to themselves.”

This directive was captured in the Treaty by the Article II pre-emption clause giving the Crown sole right to purchase land from Maori tribes and thus to be applied by subsequent Governors and Parliaments as they saw fit. Maori tribes were afforded the same right as any other British subject to sell land they “owned,” but were disbarred for their own protection from selling privately.

Reinterpreting the Treaty on the basis of correspondence and discussions that took place before it was signed is analogous to construing an Act of Parliament on the basis of the Select Committee Report to the House and the Parliamentary Debates that took place before it was passed and ratified. Not to put too fine a construction on it: arrant nonsense.

The Treaty of Waitangi is what its black letter clauses say that it is. There are no “principles” to be distilled out of it. To admit of this possibility is to open a Pandora’s box to anything Maori claimants might wish to demand, for as long as New Zealanders are prepared to accept European-Maori (with an ever-declining portion of Maori blood) asserting that they are “Maori” for unearned financial gain.

Anonymous said...

Even a small child knows the difference between giving something away and allowing someone to use it for a period of time. Northern Maori chiefs knew full well the difference between a permanent alienation and a temporary occupancy right.

They were well aware that if one sold a pig or a bundle of flax to a ship’s captain or trader, accepting the trade goods offered in exchange meant it was gone for good.

The chiefs also clearly understood that a customs or berthage charge levied against a ship anchoring at the Bay of Islands conveyed just a temporary occupancy right, and that each time the ship departed and returned, a fresh impost became payable.

Nor does it seem to have eluded them a ship girl wasn’t sold, only rented.

The Tribunal itself admits that the permanent nature of pre-Treaty land sales was recorded in deeds, all written in Maori, and all stressing the permanent nature of the alienation. It then does its unsuccessful best to argue this down.

Historically, Northern Maori had raised issues about a handful of specific land sales, all long since resolved by the Courts. These mostly related to disputes about the actual boundaries of the land sold and the exclusion of areas not intended to be included.

It is only since the Tribunal was created and empowered to measure the actions of past white settler governments against a modern-day set of Tribunal-fabricated “principles,” which those governments had never heard of, and would have dismissed as absurd if they had, that a claim of the magnitude and impertinence of the one submitted by Northern Maori could achieve any oxygen.

As Richard Prebble always said: “If you haven’t known about a claim for 150 years, that’s probably because it doesn’t exist.”

Anahera Herbert-Graves, chief executive at Te Runanga-a-Iwi o Ngati Kahu, told Northland Age readers on June 3 that the Crown supported the "theft of almost all of Ngati Kahu’s lands by 1865" by using "sanitised terms like pre-treaty transactions or old land claims, surplus lands, Crown Grants, scrip awards and purchases."

First up, the land was sold, not “stolen.” Nor was Northern Maori land ever confiscated like that of tribes in the centre of the North Island who’d waged war on the Crown.

Ms Herbert-Graves relies on the fact that most of her audience don’t know their own history. From 1842, land claims commissioners investigated all “pre-Treaty transactions” aka “old land claims.” If a purchase was invalid, as many were ruled to be, it was voided.

If the commissioners concluded that a purchase was made in good faith, they could validate it and award a “Crown Grant” of up to 4 square miles (1037 ha). But since the Governor at that time had no war chest to purchase land from Maori tribes, the Crown arbitrarily decided that if a legitimate purchase was of a greater size, the excess (or “surplus”) land would become Crown land.

In some cases, the Crown simply confiscated the entire purchase area for subdivision and settlement, issuing “scrip awards” of an arbitrary (and considerably lesser) value that the dispossessed European purchasers could then use to buy Crown-owned land elsewhere in the colony.

Those who got ripped off in this process were not the original Maori sellers, but the legitimate European purchasers, who ended up with less land than they had properly paid for.

Helen said...

Excellent article, which proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the Waitangi Tribunal lacks credibility. It should be closed down immediately before it does any more damage to race relations in this country.

Graeme said...

Thanks. Very informative.

Successive government folk surely understand much of this history but will not admit anything that might be construed as racism. They are weak; Chris Findlayson amongst them. No guts to stand up to the ridiculous demands any reasonable person can see.

This policy of appeasement makes my blood boil.

Vic Bailey said...

An excellent post Bruce, authorative and compelling. So why is this not thoroughly spelt out in all schools curriculum?
So many New Zealander's have no knowledge of this truth, tending to believe the hogwash proffered by claimants, because the Waitangi Tribunal gives them credence and a platform.
I agree, close down the Tribunal, its a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

What upsets me about the dealings the Government has with the Waitangi Tribunal, is that the citizens of New Zealand are not made aware of the claims, and they are not made aware of the Government's decision to hand over land and/or money. Unless I'm very much mistaken, all the transactions are made in secret, and when everybody has agreed to the deal, a public announcement is made. For instance, can anybody tell me that the Government actually told us that they intended to give away 90-Mile Beach? Can anybody tell me we were told that so many of our national parks would be given away? And what about Lake Taupo? I don't think that trout had even been introduced by 1840. So why is our trout-fishing licence money being paid to the tribe? Did they introduce them? Where's the ownership? And who knew that they were going to give Lake Taupo and the trout away? And pray tell me what did we get in return? Oh. Yes. Crime. By the commission of crimes by Maori people, by far in excess of their percentage representation in the population, aren't they in breach of the Treaty? Should they compensate the Government each time one of their members comes before the courts? I know that's a silly argument, but it's also silly for our Government to accept multiple first and final settlements. They simply have to stop.

Brent Kerehona said...

Hi all,

Just clarifying, Moka did not sign Te Tiriti at all, he refused to do so on principle. It is clear when viewing the original Tiriti o Waitangi document, that there is no signature or mark next to his name. Read his entire comments at the Waitangi hui, where he accuses Rev. Baker, and by extension, Hobson, of being liars and cheats. Doesn't sound like someone who would have signed a document after making these particular comments?

He was against the agreement, having been in attendance at Hobson's public proclamations at the Christ Church on Jan 30, 1840, where he heard Hobson's intents (three proclamations) and this is proven by his moko-mark (the sole Maori signatory) on the document that same day.

Rewa, his older brother was a reluctant signatory but quickly regretted his decision to do so; travelling ahead of the various versions of the Treaty (as far away as Opotiki) to persuade chiefs not to sign.

Rewa had visited Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1831, where he witnessed Aboriginal peoples chained and working on the roads like convicts. Hence his comments about his descendants becoming slaves if the Treaty was signed.

Hope this clears up certain areas in relation to these two chiefs and their comments, perspectives and comprehension of the document.