During the recent America’s Cup series the country was united behind the efforts of Team New Zealand. There was no concern about whether there were enough Maori members in the crew, or whether there was a Te Reo name on the big sail. Basically New Zealanders were barracking for the country’s sailors. It is the same where the Silver Ferns, All Blacks, Black Caps, White Ferns or Olympians compete, they are teams representing New Zealand and we support them regardless of our ethnicity.
This is the way we should approach all aspects of life in New Zealand – we have so much in common.
A multi-cultural society
Like Australia, Canada, the United States and most western countries we have many ethnicities, but as citizens of the country of New Zealand most identify first as Kiwis. Obviously there is pride in one’s cultural origins, but the over-riding loyalty should be to the country. Many different groups of immigrants and their descendants have enriched the New Zealand’s way of life and celebrations on St Patrick’s Day, the Chinese New Year, Indian festivals, Pasifika gatherings and Matariki are part of the rich cultural tapestry.
All of us share our South Pacific islands with many ethnic groups who are equally important and as the Prime Minister said after the mosques attacks two years ago: We are one people.
We are indeed all citizens of an independent sovereign state. Unfortunately that one dimensional sovereignty is being challenged on the basis of misinformation and a twisting of our history.
A legacy of British sovereignty
There was never a united New Zealand country before 1840. The descendants of the early Pacific Island migrants lived as separate tribes and were often at war with one another. This intermittent conflict culminated in the devastating Musket Wars during the early decades of the 19th century when tens of thousands of men, women and children were slaughtered. Some iwi leaders especially in Northland realized that the constant warring could doom the native peoples unless law and order was brought about. Some chiefs petitioned the British king to intervene to bring peace and unity.
In 1835 there was the so called Declaration of Independence devised by British Resident James Busby. The He Tohu exhibition at the National Library in Wellington says this about the declaration: It was how rangatira (Maori leaders) told the world, back in 1835, that New Zealand was an independent Maori nation. That is nonsense – Busby wrote it; only two chiefs outside Northland signed it; it didn’t do anything and there was no such word as Maori at that time. However it did give the British government something to react to and the follow up was Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi).
The British were reluctant to take on New Zealand as a colony. However a combination of the requests of some chiefs, increasing British settlement, a possible French threat and some dodgy land sales, impelled the British government to act. In 1840 William Hobson was instructed to get a treaty formulated and in exchange for ceding sovereignty the natives would be given guarantees regarding their settlements and property, and given the rights of British citizens.
Hobson was told that it could only happen if the native leaders understood what they were agreeing to, and then did the signing. Many of the chiefs were Christians, knew the Bible and understood the concept of sovereignty well. On February 5 1840 there was much debate and many chiefs told Hobson to go. Other could see the benefits of the British bringing order to the country and outlawing slavery and barbaric practises such as slaughtering war prisoners, cannibalism, abduction of women and female infanticide.
Next day most of those who had spoken both for and against, signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Hundreds of others around the country added their marks to copies. The entire sovereignty of their country was ceded to the Crown and 20 years later at a conference of over 100 chiefs at Kohimarama many Ariki and Rangitira emphasized that sovereignty had been passed to Queen Victoria. No-one disputed this.
Then in his 1922 book on the Treaty of Waitangi the great Apirana Ngata stated that the first Article signalled … the transfer by the Maori Chiefs to the Queen of England forever of the Government of all their lands.
The fake Tiriti o Kawharu
In the late 20th century the Waitangi Tribunal decided that the chiefs in 1840 did not cede sovereignty over their lands to the Crown!
It was claimed that the tribal leaders didn’t understand what they were signing. To back up the Tribunal’s false claim, Professor Hugh Kawharu in 1989 translated the 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi into English. The translation sets out to show how Māori would have understood the meaning of the text they signed. (Waitangi Tribunal website)
Kawharu falsely redefined key words such as Kawanatanga, Tiro rangatiratanga and taonga and gave them new meanings. This very conveniently allowed claimants to broaden their demands especially as taonga now meant “treasures” instead of “property” – its 1840 meaning. The whole process was a sham and Kawharu was mired in the mud of vested interests as he served on the Tribunal and was also a claimant.
However the Tiriti o Kawharu is used by the Tribunal to settle claims. This Treaty version is an insult to the memory of those highly intelligent chiefs who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840 and confirmed the ceding of sovereignty at the Kohimarama Conference twenty years later.
There is only one sovereignty
This is the legacy of being a British colony, having representative government, achieving Dominion status and ultimately total judicial independence from Britain. There is no Maori sovereignty – that was ceded in 1840.
However, on the basis of misinformation, deception and the twisting of our history a minority of part-Maori politicians, academics and iwi leaders, along with some non-Maori fellow travellers, has a master plan to have joint Maori - Crown sovereignty by 2040.
In this rapidly unfolding programme they seem to have the compliance of the Ardern administration and the backing of the government-funded media. David Lange and Helen Clark drew a line in the sand over Maori separatism, but the present government is being walked all over. There are now over 100 pieces of legislation which make special provision for Maori interests and culture; special Maori wards in local government can no longer be challenged and a separate Maori health authority is not far away. Ironically so much of what is being done is in the name of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, which has morphed into the bogus Te Tiirti o Kawharu.
The new history curriculum for Years 1-10 students is part of the master plan, as is control over water resources and other environmental assets. The proposed curriculum is heavily weighted towards Maori history as the first “big idea” emphasises: Maori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand. Will we soon have legislation to change our country’s name to Aotearoa New Zealand and ultimately to just Aotearoa?
Back in 2017 Andy Oakley wrote a book with the title Once We Were One. Readers will remember those times when we thought locally and nationally, and not ethnically. We were once one people but now we are two – Part-Maori and the rest.
Roger Childs is a retired teacher who taught History, Social Studies and Geography for 40 years.