The Waitangi Tribunal’s recent finding that Northland’s Ngapuhi tribes did not cede sovereignty to the Crown by signing the Treaty of Waitangi is arrant nonsense that deserves to be mercilessly deconstructed.
It appears the Tribunal uncritically accepted Ngapuhi’s assertion their ancestors believed Governor Hobson’s authority would apply only to white settlers, and that Maori would continue to be ruled, tribal-style, by their chiefs.
These claims are not borne out by the historical record. As outgoing Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, observed in his 1922 farewell address: "In the Kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King, and he that does not know his own history is at the mercy of every lying windbag."
Ngapuhi was the first tribe to obtain muskets after Hongi Hika returned home from England in 1821 with a large quantity of firearms, powder and shot. These weapons were used by Ngapuhi to overrun much of the North Island in the first of the Musket Wars. A destructive arms race ensued and thousands of Maori died as other tribes acquired European weapons of their own.
Maori had no national consciousness before the Treaty was signed, seeing themselves as belonging to separate iwi. With the coming of the musket, the various tribes possessed for the first time weapons of mass extermination with which to be revenged upon traditional enemies. The farsighted among Maori soon came to see the only way out of this cycle of violence was outside intervention.
The first English missionaries had visited the Bay of Islands in 1814. Missionaries dwelt permanently among Ngapuhi from 1821 onward and explained to their converts how British governance worked. Young Ngapuhi men had travelled to British colonies all over the world in British ships, observed British sovereignty in operation, and returned to tell the tale.
On 5 February 1840, the Reverend Henry Williams (a fluent Maori speaker) first read the Treaty in Maori to leading Ngapuhi chiefs assembled at Waitangi for this purpose. Hours of discussion and clause by clause explanations from Reverend Williams and Governor Hobson followed.
Reverend Williams said later: “We gave them [the chiefs] but one version, explaining clause by clause, showing the advantage to them of being taken under the fostering care of the British Government, by which act they would become one people with the English, in the suppression of wars, and of every lawless act; under one Sovereign, and one Law, human and divine [italics added throughout].”
The subsequent observations of the chiefs were translated into English by the Reverend Williams and recorded for posterity by Government Printer, William Colenso.
It is quite clear that all the chiefs, both for and against, had a clear understanding that their acceptance of Governor Hobson would place Queen Victoria and the Governor in authority over them.
Te Kemara (Ngati Kawa) spoke first, observing that the effect of signing the Treaty would be for “the Governor to be up, and Te Kemara down.” Under the Governor, he could be “tried and condemned” and even “hung by the neck” should he behave badly enough.
Te Kemara later admitted the French Roman Catholic Bishop Pompallier (fearing expulsion by the Protestant English should British Sovereignty prevail) had told him, “Not to write on the paper, for if he did, he would be made a slave.”
Next was Rewa (Ngati Taweke), who asked why Maori needed a Governor: “This country is ours … we are the Governor.” Like Te Kemara, Rewa saw that chiefly authority would be trumped by that of Hobson: “[Authority over] Your land will be taken from you and your dignity as chiefs will be destroyed.”
Moka, (Patukeha) then stood up. “Let the governor return to his own country. Let us remain where we are [as sovereign powers in the land].”
Tamati Pukututu (Te Uri-o-Te-Hawato) then rose and said, “Sit, Governor, sit, for me, for us. Remain here, a father for us.”
Matiu (Uri-o-Ngongo) stood next and reiterated what the previous speaker had said: “Do not go back, but sit here, a Governor, a father for us.”
Kawiti (Ngati Hine) lined up with those wanting the Governor gone. “We do not want to be tied up and trodden down. We are free. Let the missionaries remain, but, as for thee, return to thine own country.” His fellow chiefs were warned that if accepted, the Governor could say, “Kawiti, must not paddle this way, nor paddle that way, because the Governor said ‘No.’”
Pumuka (Te Roroa) stood up next. To the chiefs, he said: “I will have this man a foster-father for me.” To the Governor: “I wish to have two fathers – thou and Busby, and the missionaries.”
Warerahi (Ngaitawake), rose next and addressed his fellow chiefs: “Is it not good to be in peace? We will have this man as our Governor” and “Say to this man of the Queen, Go back! No, no.”
Hakiro (Ngatinanenane) then stood up to reject the Governor. “We are not thy people. We are free. We will not have a Governor.”
Tareha (Ngatirehia,) rose after and told Hobson, “We, we only are the chiefs, rulers. We will not be ruled over.” Never would he accept “the Governor up high” and Tareha “down, under, beneath!”
Rawiri, (Ngatitautahi) stood to greet the Governor in English as his “Father,” saying, “Stay here, O Governor! … that we may be in peace.”
Hone Heke, (Matarahurahu) then rose to reiterate what Rawiri and previous speakers in favour of Hobson had said: “Remain, Governor, a father for us.”
Hakitara, (Te Rarawa), then stood up too for the Governor, though most of his words were drowned out by side conversations taking place after Heke had spoken.
Tamati Waka Nene, (Ngatihao) then told Hobson: “[R]emain for us – a father, a judge, a peacemaker. Stay thou, our friend, our father, our Governor.”
Eruera Maehe Patuone, Tamati Waka Nene’s older brother, spoke next, saying, “Remain here with us, to be a father for us, that the French have us not.”
Te Kemara (who’d spoken first) here jumped up again, saying to the Governor, “Go away; return to thine own land.” To the chiefs, he said, “Let us all be alike [in rank, in power].” Then in an abrupt about-face he told Hobson, “O Governor! remain. But, the Governor up! Te Kemara down, low, flat! No, no, no.”
Anyone who has read these eyewitness accounts of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and continues to believe Maori didn’t know what they were signing needs to go away and boil their head to clear their thoughts.
The time is long overdue for ordinary New Zealanders of ALL RACES to reclaim our country from the self-serving, lying Treatyist windbags who have taken it over, and who need to be taught they tread on us at their peril!
Auckland property manager, who has researched and written extensively on Treaty issues and Marxist-Leninist subversion tactics in a New Zealand context.