So many claims have been made by Maori that the Treaty Of Waitangi is a partnership, that the rest of us have to abide by the principles, that special consideration should be given to Maori and so on. With thanks to the excellent research by Martin Doutre, here is the truth about the Treaty.
Let’s start with the correct three articles of the Treaty.
Article 1 : The chiefs of the confederation of the United tribes and the other chiefs who have not joined the confederation, cede to the Queen of England for ever, the entire sovereignty of their country.
That’s quite clear, but in 2014 the Waitangi Tribunal stated that Maori did not cede sovereignty to the Queen. Oh and just this weekend- Waitangi weekend, Waititi the co-leader of the Maori party says we need to abide by the Waitangi Tribunal ruling.
Article 2 : The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the possession of their lands, dwellings, and all their property. But the chiefs of the confederation and the other chiefs grant to the Queen the exclusive right of purchasing such land as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as shall be agreed upon between them and the persons appointed by the Queen to purchase from them.
Note the highlighted: “to all the people of New Zealand.” Note also there is no mention of forests and fisheries.
Article 3 : 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 shall be granted to them.
These three articles were signed by William Hobson, Consul and Lt. Governor.
Note that in Article 3, there is no mention of any special privileges granted to Maori. All people were to be treated the same. There is NO mention of any partnership anywhere, and clearly there are no principles to be extracted from this simple straightforward document.
James Busby was New Zealand’s first British Resident – a consular representative in New Zealand from 1833. In early 1840 Busby helped William Hobson draft the Treaty of Waitangi. The “Treaty House” at Waitangi was Busby’s Waitangi home. Busby prepared several earlier drafts none of which was satisfactory. Eventually, a final draft was prepared on the 4th Feb 1840. This was handed to Rev Henry Williams and his son Edward at 4pm on the 4th Feb 1840, both of whom translated the final draft overnight into Maori. Both Henry and Edward were fluent Maori speakers and were highly qualified to do the translation. Hobson gave the chiefs up to a week to consider the proposed Treaty with instructions that no one was to sign unless they fully understood all of it. On the next day the 6th Feb 1840 the chiefs said they were ready to sign.
Meanwhile William Hobson was a sick man. He had to rely on his staff more and more. One of those staff was James Freeman, who was assigned to Hobson by Governor Sir George Gipps of New South Wales, as his private secretary. Freeman was well educated, having been to Oxford University, but had no knowledge of the Maori language. He didn’t seem to realise the importance of giving an accurate translation of the Treaty of Waitangi in English. Freeman produced several varieties of the English version of the Treaty to send overseas. He used bits and pieces from the earlier obsolete drafts. The documents he produced had a flowery language, called “In The Formal Royal Style,” written to impress Lords and Ladies in Britain and perhaps even Queen Victoria.
In 1972 Historian Ruth Ross stated that none of the versions sent overseas by Freeman could be translated into the Maori Text.
Freeman did not ever provide the final Busby draft for dispatch overseas. He simply sent away composite versions.
We now move forward to March 1840. A large number of Maori signatures were collected at Waitangi on the 6th Feb but more signatures needed to be obtained. Suitable people were dispatched to travel around the country collecting those signatures. Missionaries were commonly used. One such missionary was Rev Maunsell. He was responsible for getting the signatures of the Waikato chiefs on the 11th April 1840. He was sent a Maori Language version of the Treaty on which to collect signatures. For some reason he also had a hand written unauthorised and defective English copy- one of the “Formal Royal Style” documents of Freeman’s. This document used rejected Articles from Busby’s 3rd draft. It remains a mystery how Maunsell obtained this copy.
Maunsell quickly filled up the available space on the bottom of the Maori version of the Treaty. He then used the available space on the bottom of the handwritten Freeman document for the overflow. Little did he know what future problems this would cause. Only five chiefs signed the correct copy and thirty two signed the Freeman copy. Over 500 chiefs signed the correct Maori version. This action of putting 32 chiefs signatures on the overflow sheet has led to that sheet becoming “The English Treaty as Signed.” So that sheet is the official English version of the treaty. Maori have used this to hold the country to ransom. Hobson’s government intended that no English version ever be signed by the Maori Chiefs.
Hobson’s instructions were that Maori were to only sign the Maori version. The reason was simply that they could all read it whereas few could read the English version. They were to sign only after they were satisfied of the content and understood it. Based then on Hobson’s instructions, that should make the Freeman concoction in English null and void.
Let’s digress for a moment. Around the time of the signing of the Treaty in 1840, Busby’s final draft went missing. It remained missing till 1989 when it was found in a cupboard by John Littlewood and his sister Beryl Needham at their mother’s house after her death. The great grandfather of John Littlewood was Henry Littlewood, who may have been part of a defence council for the first Maori to be tried under European law. He may have needed an English version of the treaty to assist him in the case. He also did conveyancing work for James Clendon, the US consul, and may have been given the document as a curiosity. Clendon was closely associated with Busby over Treaty matters.
In the Year2000, Dr Phil Parkinson, New Zealand’s leading handwriting expert on documents from the colonial era, identified the author of the document found in the Littlewood home as James Busby. This document became known as the Littlewood Treaty. Importantly, the date at the bottom is the 4th February 1840. Then there is the question of the water mark. The US consul in New Zealand at the time was James Clendon. He was a close confederate and friend of James Busby. The final draft of the Treaty was prepared at Clendon’s house. Clendon used paper with a W. Tucker 1833 water mark. All his correspondence over- seas was on paper bearing this water mark. The Littlewood treaty bears the water mark W. Tucker 1833. Clendon was the only person at the time who used paper with this water mark. It is logical that when the final draft was being prepared at Clendon’s house, that they used Clendon’s paper, since he had stocks of it at the house. There seems little doubt that this is Busby’s final draft which was translated overnight into the Maori text.
The Littlewood version- Busby’s final draft, now sits in a glass cabinet in the Archives in Wellington. It is two sides of one sheet. The first side is uppermost. The staff will not turn it over for you. Why? Because the other side contains Hobson’s signature and perhaps more importantly the date- The 4th Feb 1840. Below, is the bottom of that second page.
Note William Hobson, and the date at the bottom: 4th Feb 1840.
Here is what Article 2 -part of the “Official English Text,” looks like now.
Article 2 : Her Majesty, the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full and undisturbed possession of their lands, estates, forests, fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess , so long as it their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the chiefs of the united tribes and the individual chiefs yield to her Majesty the exclusive right to pre-emption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective proprietors and persons appointed by her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.
Points to note about this version:
1. This does not translate into Article 2 of the Maori version.
2. The phrase “ to all the people of New Zealand” has completely disappeared. This is the part I put in red type back in the correct Article 2. So it now means that Article 2 applies ONLY to Maori.
3. It contains “ forests and fisheries” not present in the correct version. This has enabled Maori to take a huge share of both when they were NOT entitled to.
Amazingly, Maori party co-leader Waititi, this day- Waitangi day, apart from saying Maori did not cede sovereignty to Queen Victoria has now added “rivers” to forests and fisheries- just like that!
In the Maori Language version of the Treaty the idea of sovereignty was expressed as “kawanatanga”. There is dispute over this term. However, any Maori Christian would have understood the concept of kawanatanga in that Hobson under Queen Victoria would hold full authority over Maori chiefs. Later at the Kohimarama conference of Maori chiefs in 1860, most expressed their satisfaction with the idea of sovereignty being ceded. It is clear from reading the comments of the chiefs that they really did understand the meaning of ceding sovereignty. These comments may be found in Ian Wishart’s excellent book- “The great Divide.”
Some readers may remember the Mana Motuhake party in Parliament. Mana Motuhake means mana severed. So this party wanted to cut off Crown mana. So this party at least, recognised Crown mana (sovereignty). The Mana Motuhake movement, by its existence, showed that sovereignty was conceded to the Crown.
The then Governor, Thomas Gore Browne gave a lengthy speech to the conference. He gave a slightly shortened version of Article 2. The phrase “ All the people of New Zealand” was missing, and it included forest and fisheries. Remember that the Busby final draft was missing and that handwritten copy by Freeman with the overflow signatures on the bottom was now the official English version. So at that time, the composite Freeman version was all Governor Gore Browne had.
Here is the fifth point governor Browne made in his speech: “Her majesty has instructed the governors who preceded me , and she will instruct those who come after me, to maintain the stipulations of this Treaty inviolate , and to watch over the interests and promote the advancement of her subjects without distinction of race.”
In the pre-amble and in Articles 2 and 3 in the Maori version of the Treaty, the name of New Zealand is given as Nu Tirani. This is the correct Maori name for New Zealand not the made up name Aotearoa.
In Article 2 of the Maori version the word taonga is used to denote property. That’s all it is-property. Sir Apirana Ngata stated in the 1920’s that taonga meant simply “property.” However, Hugh Kawharu in more recent times decided to do his own translation of the Maori version and he decided to make taonga “treasures” and not property.
So now, tangible items include heirlooms and artifacts, land, fisheries, natural resources such as geothermal springs. Intangible items may include language, spiritual beliefs and radio frequencies.
The Littlewood version translates exactly into the Maori version.
There are no principles
There is no mention of a partnership
Article 3 says everyone has equal rights. Nowhere in the Treaty does it say that Maori should have special privileges.
Up until the finding of the Littlewood treaty- the final draft of the Treaty, the only true treaty available was the Maori one. This version has never been used by the Waitangi Tribunal in settlement claims even though most members of the tribunal were fluent speakers of Maori. Instead they have used a concocted version by Freeman in order to keep the gravy train going and to ensure Maori acquire everything they ask for.
Finally, is the Treaty our founding document? To me, it is simply an agreement between two parties, and probably has long served its purpose, and we should move on. Queen Victoria’s Charter is much nearer our founding document.