Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Ross Meurant: Busby’s Blunder?

Former MP Bruce Beetham QSO M Phil M A (Hons) Dip Tchg once wrote (1):

“The greatest political danger for Māori incorrectly promoting the notion of tino rangatiratanga as Māori sovereignty, is that it will strengthen the resolve of those who want to see NZ turned into a republic.

“Any change of NZ from a monarchy to a republic will, despite legislation currently on the books, inevitably undermine the constitutional basis upon which such legislation rests and therefore the constitutional applicability of the Treaty itself.

And with some perspicacity he continued:

“With significantly increased Pacific Island and Asian immigration, NZ will become much more multi-cultural and without the protection of the Treaty, the privilege status it confers on Māori as tangata whenua, could be exposed to strenuous challenge.”

With academic excellence, Beetham explains the circumstances leading up to the signing of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. 

In 1832 James Busby was appointed as British Resident but without any real authority, before the British government finally and very reluctantly agreed to the annexation of NZ as the only way to introduce effective law and order.

In fact, the constant state of war among Māori, led in 1835 to the James Busby established “Confederation of Northern Tribes” and its “Declaration of Independence”.

By 1839 the Colonial Secretary Lord Normandy, in deference to vague, idealistic and undefined ideas at the time about native sovereignty, attempted to achieve consents with as many chiefs as possible before the signing of the Treaty, but, if necessary, on a tribal by tribe basis with the remainder over a period of time.

Thus, it came to pass that sovereignty was ceded by Māori to the Crown on the historic day: 6 February 1840.

A problem for Normandy and his Consul, Captain William Hobson obtaining consents from Māori, was that there was no one central sovereign authority i.e., paramount chief or universally acknowledge Māori King, to rule over the entire country with which the British could formally deal with – rather than a large number of often mutually hostile warring tribes. 

Describing earlier efforts of Frenchman Baron De Thierry and Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his NZ Company during the 1830s to legitimise the Crown’s sovereignty over the country, as outlandish and self-serving, Beetham records that:

“The only legal way the British Government could actually acquire sovereignty over NZ in the absence of full Māori consent, was by annexation through proclamation which it extended over NZ in the strict legal sense by Proclamation on 21st May 1840.”

And so it came to pass that Bruce Beetham penned:

Today, activists and radicals together with those who seditiously threaten violence in an attempt to attain Māori sovereignty, predicate their justification on the basis of the 1835 Busby initiatives.”

In 1993 when Beetham wrote Sovereignty, The Treaty: and Tino Rangatriratanga, (2) he asserted that the 1835 Busby creations lacked legal validity but even if they were accepted at the time as valid, the fact in that Māori sovereignty was fully surrendered to the Crown five years later by the Treaty of Waitangi, rendered Busby’s attempt to appease the natives and the French and Wakefield, as null and void

What Bruce Beetham said then is relevant today.

Activists and radicals, many of whom we saw most recently confronting Julian Batchelor at his stop co governance meetings in Manawatu and Hawkes Bay, together with those who seditiously threaten violence in an attempt to attain Māori sovereignty, to this day, fail to understand that no parliament can bind its successor. Every parliament may repeal or replace any and all legislation of its predecessor. It’s called, the democratic process.

NOTE:  This article is largely plagiarised and many “quotes” are subject to bastardised condensing abbreviations by this contributor, in an attempt to reduce 5,000 words to 500. 

Ross Meurant.  BA MPP   Former police inspector.  Former Member of Parliament. Former Hon Consul Morocco.

(1) Beetham, Bruce, Sovereignty, The Treaty: and Tino Rangatiratanga, 1993?
(2) Ibid

1 comment:

orowhana said...

good to read another perspective on the NZ history prior to 1840.
Paul Moon covers this period well and with great clarity in A Savage Land and The Newest Country in the World.