Oh! No! Not yet another tale of a “Treaty Fraud”?
In “Newsroom” for 9th May 2023, Brian Easton reviews “A Bloody Difficult Subject”, by Bain Attwood, Auckland University Press, subtitled:”Ruth Ross, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the making of History.” Bain Attwood, a New Zealander, is a professor of history at Monash University, Melbourne. We review Easton’s ii review but, in passing I ask: “Why on earth are we still so obsessed with an essentially simple document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which had done its job when, on 21st May 1840, Hobson affirmed British sovereignty over the whole of New Zealand, with the firm support of a very considerable number of Maori chiefs and with more indeed to come?”
Any account of the genesis of the treaty should be aware of the principal persons involved, thus:
Busby: A man who did his best in the impossible role of British resident, 1833-40 and who loyally supported Hobson, the man who superseded him.
Clendon: British subject, American consul and a successful resident businessman and trader.
Freeman: a product of Eton and Oxford who signed the Treaty: “James Stuart Freeman gentleman”.
A third class clerk assigned to Hobson as his private secretary by Governor Gipps of New South Wales, one of several “selected for their known incompetency” by Gipps who “was ... anxious to get rid of them.v
Hobson, on his passage from Britain to New South Wales in HMS Druid, had clearly given most attention to establishing his own potential role in New Zealand as Lieutenant-Governor and dealing with the matter of land sales, since he had mission printer, Colenso, print two proclamations on these topics on 30th January 1840, the day after his arrival in New Zealand.
Then for three days, though troubled by illness, Hobson, with Freeman, his secretary, endeavoured to draft, in English, a suitable text for translation into the Maori language.vi In this he had little success owing to the variance in style between his own plain language and Freeman’s florid one. These drafts still exist in the archives, and, for want of better, have received much attention in latterday studies.vii One who could not reconcile what they said with the actual treaty (in Maori) was capable historian, Ruth Ross.viii The reason that, correctly, she could not do so was that none of them was the text from which the Treaty was translated. This had to await Hobson’s final drafting session on 4th February and trying to establish the sequence of events without his final text in English has been like playing “Hamlet without the Prince”!ix
And so, getting nowhere with Freeman, Hobson despatched George Cooper of his staff to Busby with the rough drafts and a request to compose a more suitable document as the basis of a translation into the Ngapuhi dialect for presentation to the many chiefs assembling for the purpose. On Monday, 3rd February Busby composed such a document which he presented to Hobson, ashore, that evening. With this constructive contribution from Busby, Hobson could at last compose the final English text which he needed. Furthermore, Busby arranged with British subject, trader and American consul, Clendon, that the final drafting session be held at his spacious home.
Accordingly, on the morning of 4th February, Hobson was in a position to compose his final text in English with Busby as scribe and writing materials provided by Clendon, including paper from his own private stock watermarked 1833.x This he proceeded to do and by mid-afternoon he took his completed text “across the water” to missionary, Henry Williams, with a request to prepare from it, a text in the local Maori xi language for presentation to the chiefs the following day.
This, with the aid of his son, Edward, a mission resident since the age of four and a virtual native speaker of Maori, Williams succeeded in doing. Reviewed in the morning by Busby and others, one word was changed,xii and text was then transcribed to dogskin by Rev. Richard Taylor for presentation to the assembly of chiefs a few hours later, keeping the original “for his trouble”.xiii
The proceedings at the great meeting that day were meticulously minuted by Colenso and checked by Busby.xiv Both the English text of 4th February and the Maori text of 4/5th February (i.e. the actual ToW) were read out and nobody said that they were different. Seven chiefs spoke in favour of signing and seven against.xv All but one who disappeared duly signed it, most of them the very next day!
It is an extraordinary fact that, though Hobson’s final text of 4th February did go missing and was not rediscovered until 1989, current historians stubbornly persist in denying its authenticity and continue attempting to play Hamlet without the Prince. If ever there was a bugger’s muddle,xvi it is how the history of the Treaty of Waitangi, and what it actually said, have been treated by officialdom and professional historians in New Zealand.
Yet in all respects except one, the actual treaty in the Ngapuhi dialect is a faithful translation of Hobson’s final text. That difference is the addition in the Williams’ translation of the word “maori” in Article Third, thus clarifying that conferral of British citizenship addressed there was not to apply to existing British citizens for whom it was unnecessary, nor to foreigners such as the French and Americans. This significant difference is compelling evidence that Hobson’s final text preceded the actual treaty drafting and is accurately dated 4th February, the only possible date indeed on which it could have been written!xvii
In the event, when Ngapuhi Elder, Graham Rankin, was shown the two texts in 2000, he remarked that what they said was exactly the same. And when the two texts were shown to Claudia Orange by Allan Titford, it is reported,xviii she burst into tears! Hmmm!
The colossal irony of all this is that had Ruth Ross who died in 1982 known of the existence of Hobson’s final draft – the “Littlewood treaty” – all her problems of the inconsistency of the evidence she possessed would have drifted away like smoke from a bushfire. Missing for nearly 150 years, it was found just seven years later.
Now Easton, in his review, quotes Ross as saying: “signatories of 1840 were uncertain and divided in their understanding of [Te Tiriti’s] meaning ... .” This, to say the least, is curious, since consideration of Colenso’s report of proceedings on 5th February xix makes it entirely clear that the chiefs understood that by signing the Treaty, they would become subordinate to the Governor and hence, a fortiori, to the Queen.xx They did not hesitate. The very next day, more that fifty, by Hobson’s count, signed it.
Well, then, Easton drifts into a discussion of Ned Fletcher’s recent doorstop of a book where he states that “Fletcher ... fails to observe that Robin Cooke xxi ... observed “[a]s is well known, the English and Maori texts in the First Schedule to the Treaty of Waitangi Act are not translations the one of the other ... .” Well of course they are not!! The Maori text is the actual treaty text, the English text one of Freeman’s fake treaty texts, written after Hobson had disposed of his services, most of which he sent to dignitaries overseas.xxii The Treaty of Waitangi Act is another buggers’ muddle, which set up the corrupt Waitangi Tribunal and should be repealed immediately by the first government we get with the guts to do so!
Easton continues that it is “ahistorical to ignore Ross’s caution about the lack of agreement by the Waitangi participants on the meaning of what was being signed” yet I can find no major disagreement in Colenso’s record. Easton concludes by referring to “a desert of another 183 years xxiii [in which] [a]s long as we trek down it, we will fail in the real task: what does Te Tiriti mean to us today? We may no longer see it as a sacred text but it remains of considerable significance to Aotearoa New Zealand, today and in the future.”
Well, no, Brian. In those 183 years [presumably 1840-2023] there have been considerable efforts by a variety of true scholars (and here I dare mention Maning in 1863, Buick in 1914, Ngata in 1922, Round in 1998, Doutré in 2005, Robinson in 2014 and others who will forgive me for omitting them here) who have recognized the Treaty of Waitangi as one small, if significant, step in our progress towards becoming a proud, independent nation, not a fake “Aotearoa New Zealand” as Easton would have it, but simply New Zealand as it has been since 1643. The treaty had done its job on 21st May 1840 when, with the agreement of a vast number of Maori chiefs, Hobson affirmed British sovereignty over all the islands of New Zealand, its people all equally British citizens. It is a tragedy most profound that under the malign influence of “He Puapua”, “Co-governance” and the like we are fast descending today into an irrelevant little country, the Zimbabwe or the Somaliland of the South Pacific.
i “Confusion caused by incompetence “, Urban dictionary – and similar definitions!!
ii I knew Brian Easton as a colleague and friend when we were both on the staff of the University of Canterbury
iii See P.Moon, “Hobson: Governor of New Zealand 1840-1842”, ISBN 0-908990-54-5, 1998
iv Lord Normanby, Written instructions to Hobson, 14 August 1839
v S.Martin, Auckland newspaper editor, quoted by J.Buller, p.371
vi More exactly, the Ngapuhi dialect. There were substantial dialectical variations throughout the country.
vii N.Fletcher, “The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi”, Bridget Williams Books, 2023
viii R.Ross, Te Tiriti O Waitangi – Texts and Translations, NZJourn Hist, 1972.
ix This actually occurred in September 1775 when the actor playing Hamlet absconded with an inn-keeper’s daughter!
x In Orange’s view: “The watermark of 1833 may simply indicate it is paper that was hanging around the solicitor’s office”, N.Z.Herald. 12/9/92 (quoted by Doutré)
xi We note that usage of “Maori” in its modern sense was at best nascent at the time
xii “Wakaminenga” for “Huihuinga”. Believe it or not “googling” reveals an entry dated 6//5/23 stating: “The Māori Government of Aotearoa Nu Tireni is the governing body of the Sovereign Nation of Aotearoa Nu Tireni, which existed prior to 1840 and continues” This, friends is the sort of subversive lie which circulates in modern media in New Zealand today. On the face of it, those responsible for such material are traitors to the sovereign nation of New Zealand. Let us be warned!! What action, we may ask, are government authorities taking to track down and deal with such people??
xiii It is now lost and probably destroyed.
xiv W.Colenso, “The authentic and genuine history of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi”, http://www.waitangi.com/colenso/colhis1.html( ,1890. Though not published until fifty years later, details were recorded at the time.
xv By my count
xvi A well-established usage which may be “googled” for further enlightenment!
xvii This insight we owe to Martin Doutré
xviii By Doutré to me
xix Colenso, op.cit
xx Despite all this, at a seminar attended by me in October last year, Graham Bell, responsible for introducing the new history syllabus to schools, drew a little diagram on the blackboard purporting to show that the Governor and the chiefs were to be equals under the Queen. This was blatantly wrong.
xxi Rightly notorious for his “partnership” nonsense
xxii Do I have to tell that story yet again??
xxiii Presumably travelled some way by Ross