So Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond, recent recipient of New Zealand’s highest award, has come up with a few more bright ideas about the Treaty of Waitangi which, one might have thought, had been done to death already, several times over.[i]
Thus, she persists in her profound delusion – shared by many others one might add – that when the chiefs signed the Treaty “this did not amount to a cession of sovereignty” although “the rangatira gave absolutely (tuku rawa atu) all the Kāwanatanga of their lands (te Kāwanatanga katoa o ou rātou whenua) to the Queen.” Well, what doublespeak that is! Why? Because while it is glaringly obvious that the derivation of “kawanatanga” is from “governor” plus “-tanga”, its translation is “sovereignty”. As we have shown by many examples, time and again,[ii] translation is not the same as derivation – too hard for her to grasp perhaps?
Lest there be any doubt whatever, the recorded words of the chiefs at Waitangi[iii] make it crystal clear that they understood that by signing they would become subordinate to the Queen. Lest there be any doubt about that, at Kohimarama in 1860 at the greatest meeting of chiefs ever assembled, more than a hundred passed the unanimous motion “That this Conference takes cognizance of the fact that the 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 union of the two races ... .”[iv] Now that looks pretty plain and definite doesn’t it? Yet Dame Anne dismissed this in an email to me[v] because it had all happened twenty years previously.
So why were all those chiefs wrong a mere twenty years later, yet after 180 years Dame Anne and swarms of others, including the Waitangi Tribunal, may claim quite the opposite?
Dame Anne proceeds blithely to quote selectively and inaccurately from Article second, claiming that the Queen agreed to “te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa” promising “to uphold the absolute authority of the rangatira and Māori people generally over their lands, dwelling places and taonga.”
Well, one of the first rules of quotation that she should have learnt as a first year student is that one does so fairly and accurately and does not omit vital wording. So why, we may ask, does she omit here that this undertaking was to “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani” which in plain English means “all the people of New Zealand” where “all” means “all”? Quite brazenly, in my opinion, she refers instead to “Maori people generally”. Now that’s treaty-twisting if ever there was by a woman who proceeds later, as we shall see, to make much of a very fine point! of translation.
And yes, there is more – because “tino rangatiratanga” was the Williams’ translation of Hobson’s “possession” in the absence, once again, of any word for it in classic Maori, where the practice of “muru”[vi] denied anybody the possession, much less “absolute authority” over anything! Has the good dame forgotten about that, or did she never know?
She then proceeds to say: “For insight into how Ture 1 and 2 powers - “Kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga, the Governor and the Rangatira – were intended to engage with each other, we can turn to the third Ture of Te Tiriti.” This curious mixture of English and Maori might be made clearer by remembering that “kawanatanga” meant “sovereignty” and “rangatiratanga” meant “ownership” but that is not really what Article third is about.
As Hobson’s final draft of 4th February says “In return for the cession of sovereignty to the Queen, the people of New Zealand shall be protected by the Queen of England and the rights and privileges of British subjects will be granted to them”.
Well, surely that seems clear enough! One of the primary duties of any Sovereign is the protection of her (or his) subjects but if, as the treaty-twisters, the good dame amongst them, chorus together that sovereignty was not ceded, then the Queen had no such obligations whatsoever, and indeed as Hobson explained on 5th February as “the law of England gives no civil powers to Her Majesty out of her dominions”[vii] she would have no power to do so. So the protection from the French[viii] – and from each other – which the chiefs eagerly sought would have been non-existent! Well of course, it didn’t happen that way, because within a few short months, the Queen was formally proclaimed the sovereign of New Zealand.[ix]
But now we come to Salmond’s would-be knock-out blow. It was agreed in Article third that “all the ordinary people”[x] - “tangata maori katoa” in its actual words – would be granted “the rights and privileges of British subjects,”[xi] an extraordinarily generous and indeed unprecedented provision.[xii] Just think how many millions of people yearn for that today!
And those rights and privileges? “tikanga katoa rite”. But no! (says Salmond): “Rite”, according to William Williams’ dictionary (she doesn't say which edition of which there have been seven), means “alike’ - not ‘the same” so Maoris, apparently, were to be given a whole raft of rights and privileges “alike” but not “the same” as those of everybody else.
But here’s the rub! Article third does NOT say merely “rite” - “alike”, but “katoa rite”, that is “all like” so Salmond’s very selective quotation[xiii] leads to a false conclusion. If “all like” does not mean “the same” then what indeed does it mean? Does she really believe that a plain-speaking sailor like Hobson or an earnest missionary like Williams would indulge in the sort of deviousness she appears to imagine?
Well after that she really goes into orbit, saying: “it was assumed that there could be only one sovereign over a country, and only one owner (or group of owners) with exclusive rights over a block of land. Hence the New Zealand Wars, the confiscations and the Native Land Court to enforce this kind of reasoning.”
Yes some Waikato tribes did try the second sovereign act which most tribes then and now have regarded with disdain as well they might – and the intransigence of these Waikato tribes did lead to what John Robinson has correctly called “the Kingite Rebellion”[xiv], so strongly opposed by those assembled at Kohimarama, many of whom offered some of their own people to fight the rebels.
Well, on and on she goes in like vein as do others like her. For instance, We now have a Minister for Crown-Maori Relations, Kelvin Davis, who is said to have sought advice concerning his portfolio and in particular with a group consisting of Annette Sykes, Carwyn Jones, Paul Beverley, Mark Hickford, Geoffrey Palmer and Linda Te Aho.[xv] Some of what this group has told him is: “There is a large body of Pākehā opposition to the Treaty, but the problem is they do not really know what it means. [and] it is not racist for the government to prioritise results for Māori.”[xvi] while Geoffrey Palmer chips in, talking of “Delphic ... utterances”, agreeing with Kim Hill that that is like “talking about the Bible”[xvii] and “it’s a document that is so vague that that is its primary problem.”[xviii]
Salmond may not subscribe to such weird opinions but they are all too typical of the garbage surrounding the treaty today to which she and they contribute. While such people may be good in their own eyes and those of some others, ordinary Kiwis might well bear in mind the words of John Stuart Mill[xix]: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
So speak up now, e hoa, before it is too late.
20 May 2021
[ii]In, for example, B.Moon, “New Zealand; the fair colony”, p.68
[iii]W. Colenso, “The Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi”, http://www.waitangi.com/colenso/colhis1.html
[iv]Proc. Kohimarama Conference, 13 to18 of the Maori Messenger, NZETC, VUW.
[v]A.Salmond, email to B. Moon, 24 August 2010
[vi]FE Maning: “Old New Zealand: a tale of the good old times”, 1863
[viii]J. Warren, quoted by T.L.Buick, “The Treaty of Waitangi”, 1st ed., 1914, pp.281-283
[ix]One could quote many sources but one should do. A. Ngata, “The Treaty of Waitangi – An Explanation”, 1922
[x]Kawharu’s translation, that used officially for “Cabinet guidance” today
[xi]Hobson’s final draft of 4th February
[xii]As far as I know!
[xiii]W have drawn attention elsewhere to Salmond’s propensity for selective quotation. B.Moon, op.cit, p.77
[xiv]J.Robinson, “The Kingite Rebellion”, ISBN 1872970486, 2016
[xv]Reported by “Democracy Action”, 4 July 2018
[xvii]RNZ, 8 February 1994
[xviii]On Australian TV, 6 March1990
[xix]JS Mill, Speech at St Andrews, 1 February 1867
Bruce Moon is a retired computer pioneer who wrote "Real Treaty; False Treaty - The True Waitangi Story".