What Does the Treaty of Waitangi Mean to You?

Gareth MorganPolitics, Treaty

Last week I said too many Pakeha were ignorant about the Treaty. Predictably this upset some people, but I stand by it, because it is an issue of fact. We researched this in our book Are we there yet?:

The Treaty of Waitangi sits right in the middle of 21st century New Zealand life. The majority of New Zealanders think it is important. However, there are differences between Maori and Pakeha on this. When asked in late 2008 whether the Treaty was important 59% of all respondents (and 73% of Maori) agreed.[i] When 4000 Year 9 students (aged around 13 years old) were asked in 2009 by the Ministry of Education if the Treaty was personally important to them, 84% of Maori, 75% of Pasifika, 60% of Pakeha and 53% of Asian students agreed.[ii]

While overall the majority says the Treaty is important, fewer feel they know much about it. In 2011 49% of survey respondents said they had a good level of knowledge.[iii] This was a modest improvement on four years before.[iv]

Therefore, many New Zealanders are ignorant about the Treaty, particularly Pakeha.

This isn’t always our fault – as I have said in previous articles the Waitangi Tribunal doesn’t help public understanding by producing impenetrable reports. I have no problem with people who are prepared to spend the time getting themselves up to speed and engaging in the debate. I have full faith in the public to make the right decisions when fully educated on the facts. That is why the Morgan Foundation exists, and does the work it does.

As for the people with their heads in the sand, they need to wake up and smell the roses. If I offended anyone in that category (the willfully ignorant), I’m not sorry. I simply won’t stand by and watch ill-informed debate without calling it for what it is.

There is a lot of debate about the different versions of the Treaty and what they mean. Today (and all through this week) I am keen to hear from you what you think the Treaty means, the essence of the agreement that we entered into 175 years ago. Have a read of the different interpretations of the Treaty below and then try to summarise the spirit of the Treaty – but only in 10 words or less. If you can’t do this then I don’t think you have understood its essence.

The rules of engagement are:

No commenting on or critiquing other people’s ideas
People must be prepared to put their real name and face to their comments
Nothing racist please
Treaty of Waitangi
Māori- and English-language versions
The meaning of the treaty in Māori differed from the meaning in English.

Article One Māori: chiefs gave the queen ‘te Kawanatanga katoa’ – the governance or government over the land.

English: chiefs gave the queen ‘all the rights and powers of sovereignty’ over the land.

Article Two Māori: confirmed and guaranteed the chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ – the exercise of chieftainship – over their lands, villages and ‘taonga katoa’ – all treasured things. Māori agreed to give the Crown a right to deal with them over land transactions.

English: confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs ‘exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties’. The Crown sought an exclusive right to deal with Māori over land transactions.

Article Three Māori: The Crown gave an assurance that Māori would have the queen’s protection and all rights – ‘tikanga’ – accorded British subjects. This was close to an accurate translation of the English text.

[i] Human Rights Commission (2009). ‘Treaty Viewed as Founding Document by Three out of Five New Zealanders’. http://www.hrc.co.nz/2009/treaty-viewed-as-founding-document-by-three-out-of-five-nzers [Accessed December 2013].
[ii] Human Rights Commission (2012). ‘Race Relations in 2011 – the Treaty Relationship’, p.53. http://www.hrc.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Ch5-The-Treaty-relationship.pdf [Accessed December 2013].
[iii] Human Rights Commission (2012). ‘Race Relations in 2011 – the Treaty Relationship’, p.53. http://www.hrc.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Ch5-The-Treaty-relationship.pdf [Accessed December 2013].
[iv] Human Rights Commission (2008). ‘Race Relations in 2007’. p.32. http://www.hrc.co.nz/hrc_new/hrc/cms/files/documents/03-Mar-2008_16-59-17_RRD_WEB.pdf[Accessed December 2013].

What Does the Treaty of Waitangi Mean to You? was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.