Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bruce Moon: About the Real Treaty Story

I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul”
William Shakespeare,”Hamlet”, Act 1, scene 5 

Amongst those individuals bestowed on Captain Hobson by his superior, Governor Gipps of New South Wales, keen to be rid of them, and “selected for their known incompetency”[i] was one JS Freeman who was to be Hobson’s personal secretary.

Signing the Treaty “Ja Stuart Freeman Gentleman”[ii], Freeman was a product of Eton and Oxford with his head full of the “royal style” jargon used in treaties with European nations and, to put it bluntly, a snob.  This style he was determined to use in an English draft of a treaty with Maori chiefs and in sharp contrast to the plain and straightforward style of naval officer Hobson, accustomed to plain speaking at sea to men of little education, sometimes with their very lives at risk.

Their contrasting styles are shown in the rough drafts with many deletions and erasures, illustrated by Doutre[iii].  They were also studied, at more length than they deserve, in Fletcher’s considerable volume[iv]  being indeed no more than rough drafts, rejected by their prime author.

Having failed to make progress with Freeman and with time running out,[v] Hobson appealed to Busby for assistance, on the evening of 2nd February sending George Cooper of his staff to him with the rough notes so far produced, with a request that Busby draft a more suitable text.  This Busby succeeded in doing next day.

Thus, and perhaps “in the nick of time”, Hobson was tolerably well-prepared for his final drafting session at the spacious home of James Clendon, trader, British subject and American Consul.  There, with Busby as scribe and with materials supplied by Clendon, Hobson was able to produce his final text in English which he took in the late afternoon “across the water”[vi] to Henry Williams at the mission station at Paihia, with a request that Williams produce a suitable translation to the Ngapuhi dialect of Maori.  This, with the able assistance of his son, Edward Marsh Williams, he succeeded in doing, just one word being changed on review in the morning.  And so events proceeded at Waitangi to their historic conclusion.


Meantime, dismissed by Hobson, Freeman was not idle, composing what he thought the wording in English of an agreement with the chiefs ought to be (not that he had authority to do so).   Indeed he managed to get a copy of his own version, countersigned indeed by a somewhat distracted Hobson, dispatched to Governor Gipps by the storeship “Samuel Winter” on 8th February.  In all, Freeman produced eight somewhat variant copies of his own version,  much wordier that the true final English text of 4th February which is now labelled the “Littlewood treaty”.  Freeman fakes differ in significant respects from both the actual treaty and the so-called “Littlewood Treaty”.  Thus, in article second, he omits the important provision of reference to “all the people of New Zealand” “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani” in the treaty itself. Flagrantly but nowhere in the real treaty, he “guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries and other properties” – omitting “Forests, Fisheries” in one instance.

This has resulted in very considerable fishing rights being transferred to tribal interests,[vii] as not surprisingly, it was Freeman’s fake version in English, which Gipps had received from Freeman, which Gipps transmitted to the authorities in Britain.  Hobson, be it remembered, was fully occupied in his principal task of obtaining further chiefs’ assent to the Treaty until his disastrous stroke in early March in Auckland left him incapacitated for almost all activities.[viii]

That it was the Freeman fake version which strongly influenced subsequent activities in Britain is made very clear by members of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, “a section of the Committee” which “largely reflected the opinions of the Government”[ix]  quoting Freeman’s fake version exactly.


The consequences in New Zealand were even worse!  The self-aggrandising Freeman produced eight copies of his “treaty in English” with somewhat variant wording, most of which he induced a stroke-affected Hobson to sign; disingenuous on the part of Freeman, to say the least. In one instance, Hobson’s signature was so feeble that Freeman rejected it for any use.  Somehow it got to the mission station at Waikato Heads, probably with a consignment of stationery.

Then, on 11th April, many chiefs and others assembled at the mission station with signing the treaty in prospect.  However, Captain Symonds, entrusted with the delivery of the official copy and delayed at Manukau Heads, failed to arrive in time.  With many chiefs ready to sign, what was Reverend Maunsell, Head of Mission, to do?  He did have in his possession, a one-sheet printed copy of the treaty,[x]  Never intended for signing, this sheet had normal margins.  This he invited five chiefs to sign, duly counter-signing it himself but then running out of space. So what next??  There was indeed space at the bottom of the Freeman sheet, so he proffered that for further chiefs’ use, duly folding the two sheets of this one document together with the printed sheet in Maori on top for despatch to base.

Maunsell offered no explanation for his actions.  His diary which might have done so was destroyed not long afterwards in a mission fire.  The two sheets are illustrated by Moon and Biggs,[xi] who however, fail to make the connection.

Brilliant forensic work initiated by Martin DoutrĂ© has established the subsequent sequence of events.  The two sheets (one the printed official version in Maori, the other Freeman’s in English) were sealed together with sealing wax, torn apart, pinned together again and torn apart once again to go their separate ways. 

We shall surely never know the officious individual or two responsible for these actions.  Nevertheless, Freeman's rejected sheet now masquerading as a document in its own right was duly legislated in the Treaty of Waitangi Act, 1975, initiated by Matt Rata MP, to be “The Treaty in English”.  The avalanche of false awards to Maori interests based on this false development has never ceased to grow ever since.

LET US BE CLEAR.  This single sheet, in English, with a few dozen signatures, mostly collected at the Waikato Heads Mission Station was clearly used in an exigency when Maunsell had collected as many as he could on the genuine version in Maori which had run out of signing space; today it overrides the literal meaning of the official Maori document signed by all other Maori signatories – the assumption being that the literal translation of the Maori document into English does not mean what it says, this despite it being totally consistent with the ‘Littlewood’ document above from which the Maori version was derived.

Thus have our former legislators (perhaps wilfully) ignored the real and official Treaty and, complicit with the duplicitous Freeman,  betrayed the true interests of all the people of New Zealand - “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani” in the words of the Tiriti o Waitangi.


[i]      T.L.Buick, “The Treaty of Waitangi”, Footnote 48, p.86, Lakeview Publishing Edition, 2023; footnote 28, p.94 in original (1914) edition, quoting one Dr Martin.

[ii]     A nearly as may be determined from that rat-eaten document

[iii]    M.DoutrĂ©, “The Littlewood Treaty”, ISBN 0-473-10140-8, 2005, pp31ff.  This well-informed and most informative text should be well-studied by all serious students.

[iv]    N.Fletcher, “The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi”, ISBN9781990046537, 2022

[v]     Busby having summoned Maori chiefs to a great meeting at Waitangi on 6th February   Buick, op.cit. p.370

[vi]    In Hobson’s words

[vii]   Nick Smith being the responsible minister at the time telling me (Bruce) that it was something he did know about”

[viii]  P. Moon, “Hobson”, ISBN 0-908990-54-5, 1998, pp 125ff.  Moon however, makes the profound mistake of asserting that Freeman’s fake is the Treaty in English, p.94ff

[ix]    T.L. Buick, op.cit., p.273.

[x]     Mission printer, Colenso, having printed two hundred copies to Hobson’s order.

[xi]    P.Moon and P.Biggs, “The Treaty and its Times”, ISBN 0-908618-18-2, 2004, p226

About the Author:

Christchurch-born Bruce Moon lived the entire war years in Bluff where his Father was a shipping company manager.  He graduated from the University of Otago in Mathematics and Physics and subsequently achieved two masters degrees (NZ and London) and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. Working on defence projects in Australia and Britain, he initiated mathematical modelling of guided missiles on a digital computer.  For a time he worked at the Admiralty, London with a “top secret” security clearance.  Returning to New Zealand, he presented the first training course in computer programming to government employees in science and engineering and was commissioned in the RNZNVR.  Appointed a senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Canterbury, he installed there the first computer in a NZ university.  He was National President of the NZ Computer Society (Now “Information Technology Professionals”) and is an Honorary Fellow.  On study leave in Britain at the University of London, he was also attached to London Division, RNR.

In later life he was Head of Science at a mission school in Vanuatu and also worked as a volunteer, largely in India, where,  amongst other things, he taught English and physics at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics where he published one paper.  Now retired, he takes an active engagement  in New Zealand history, a subject in which he has long been interested over his 94 years.


Anonymous said...

Two comments:

Firstly, life with electronic communications, Office Works, roads and reliable transport is hard enough. Along with electronic scams and the like.

It is almost impossible to imagine how tough it would have bern for Hobson and Mansell especially with the universal pest of which Freeman is typical. So too the cynicism of Gipps in fobbing off the useless.

Secondly, read Bruce's bio. Seems that there is a fascinating story there in its own right including impact on NZ's own history.

mudbayripper said...

It could be said, intentionally or not, Freeman was the original treaty activist working for the future interests of modern-day Maori separatists.

Anonymous said...

Also as per Martin Doutre’s forensic work;

“Hobson later accepted Maunsell's, two-part, "make-do" document and acknowledged the wishes of the Waikato Chiefs, whom he knew had heard and understood the official Maori Treaty wording presented to them by Maunsell.

Later, the printed Maori sheet, with the Formal Royal style version sitting behind it, were glued together with wax to become one document and Hobson added a waxen seal to render Maunsell's "make-do", Maori language treaty "official".

There can be no doubt that this OFFICIAL two-part document was deliberately TAMPERED with by unscrupulous individuals, and was fraudulently used to create apartheid in New Zealand

Anonymous said...

One can only cringe at the mess that all this will cause during the Treaty Principles debate.

Activists will choose the version which suits their agenda - and not budge.

The main thing will be for citizens to insist on a referendum as their democratic right. Every effort will be made to stop this.