Tuesday 12 December 2023


Cretin on a rope

MĀORI RANGATIRA NEVER CEDED SOVEREIGNTY say various parties including the Waitangi Tribunal, law professors at the University of Auckland and VUW, and the protestors who dangled in front of Te Papa's Treaty display yesterday and began defacing it.

Because of the difference between the Treaty and Tiriti, said protestors yesterday, Māori at the various Tiriti signings never agreed to what the English translation claimed. Protestors' spokesperson Haimana Hirini said "the English Treaty of Waitangi text was not a translation because it incorrectly stated that Māori ceded sovereignty."

Mr Hirini thinks he knows better than the many Māori who spoke at the various signings around the country in 1840, who were --apparently -- confused. As were the many who, at Kohimarama twenty years later, reaffirmed their decision to sign. Confused, all of them.

Including the rangatira Maihai who, at the Mangungu hui in the Hokianga, said (in opposing the signing) that he would be agreeing to "Kwini Wikitoria" being "the great chief here." [1] (Which was true.)

And the rangatira Raumati, who supported the signing, who told Hobson, "I say come, come now it is for you to direct us and keep us in order."[2]

Or at the Kaitaia signing, where Chief Nopera Panakareao said the new Kawana would be "a helmsman for our canoe." [3]

Or at Waitangi itself, the first signing, when the day began with opposition from several rangatira, including Tareha, of the Ngatirehia tribe, who objected: "We only are the chiefs, rulers. We will not be ruled over. ... Thou high, and I, Tareha, the great chief of the Ngapuhi tribes, low!" [4] He clearly understood the position proposed. And he signed.

And Kawiti, rangatira of the Ngatihine tribe, who objected initially on the understanding that the Kawana would have the power to regulate, saying in horror, "What! ... even I, Kawiti, must no paddle this way, nor paddle that way, because the Governor said 'No' ..." [5] (He signed.)

Or Te Kemara, a rangatira of the Ngatikawa, who clearly understood that agreement would mean the Kawana having police power: "If thou stayest as Governor, then, perhaps, Te Kemara will be judged and condemned. Yes, indeed, and more than that--even hung by the neck. No, no, no. ... Were all to be on an equality, then, perhaps, Te Kemara would say 'Yes'; but for the Governor to be up and Te Kemara down--Governor high up, up, up, and Te Kemara down low, small, a worm, a crawler--No, no, no." [6]  He too understood that, like Roman governor Pontius Pilate in the New Testament (which had been recently translated into te reo and was enormously popular -- with the word governor transliterated therein as "kawana") the kawanatanga to be exercise, and thus ceded by signatories in Te Tiriti, could mean the power of life and death. (He too signed, but not before confessing that Bishop Pompallier had told him "not to write upon the paper, for if he did he would be made a slave." [7])

But not one of the speakers in any of the meetings recorded, even speaking in opposition, used the term "partnership." And no assurance was given anywhere that chiefs would be "up high" with governor in authority, somehow sharing power. The positions were clear to all. Like Pilate's governorship, Hobson's kawanatanga would mean only the Kawana would be "up."

These rangatira were very far from confused, and several had already seen something of the world beyond these shores. Rewa, chief of the Ngaitawake tribe for example, who also initially object to signing saying that "we," the rangatira, "are the Governor--we, the chiefs in our fathers' land. ... What! this land to become like Port Jackson and all other lands seen [or found] by the English. No, no." [8] (He too signed, after saying that Bishop Pompallier "had striven hard with him not to sign" as well. [9])

It was Tamati Waka Nene who turned the day at that first signing on the morning of February 6th: he "rushed into the tent attended by chiefs and other followers" to give "an address to his countrymen in a strain of fervid and impassioned eloquence..." [10] After damning many of the misbehaving "strangers," "foreigners" and "grog-sellers" who covered the land around Korareka -- "even as the grass and herbage" -- Nene turned to Hobson and concluded: "Do not thou go away from us; remain for us--a father, a judge, a peacemaker. ... Stay though, our friend, our father, our Governor. ... Do not listen to what 'the chiefs of ] Ngapuhi say. Stay thou, our friend, our father, our Governor. "[11]

A friend. A father. A judge. A peacemaker. A Governor with elevated authority above the rangatira, with the power to rule, to regulate, to exercise police power -- with the very power of life and death if necessary.

Many of the speakers, it's true -- too many -- picked up on the idea of the Kawana being a "father." Which was certainly unfortunate, and was not corrected. But a judge. And a peacemaker. That was valuable.

But perhaps it was intended, even so, that the Governor/Kawana only have sovereignty over settlers? Not so, Hobson corrected a rangatira at the Hokianga meeting, who had expressed that view, explaining calmly that "English laws could only be exercised on English soil."[12]

IT MIGHT STILL BE THOUGHT that, perhaps, rangatira remained confused, and were only signing because they thought the "strangers" and "foreigners" would remain in low numbers, and could be ignored. Yet, two decades later, at Kohimarama, while the Kingitanga in the Waikato were expressing violent opposition to the government, and after "tangata Tiriti" now outnumbered tangata whenua in these islands (this point was officially passed in 1858[13]), several of these same signatories were invited to reaffirm their support for Te Tiriti. Which they did, Tamati Waka Nene telling listeners why he had supported the signing so vehemently:

0 people listen: These are my words for ourselves to Speak about the Governor and about the Pakehas. I am not accepting the Pakeha for myself alone but for the whole of us. My desire when Governor Hobson arrived here was to take him as our Governor in order that we might have his protection. Who knows the mind of the Americans or that of the French? Therefore I say let us have the English to protect us. Therefore my friends, do I say, let this Governor be our Governor and this Queen our Queen. Let us accept this Governor, as a Governor for the whole of us. Let me tell you, ye assembled tribes, I have but one Governor. Let this Governor be a King to us. Listen again, ye people! When the Governor came here he brought with him the Word of God by which we live; and it is through the teaching of that Word that we are able to meet together this day under one roof. Therefore I say, I know no King but the Queen [i.e., he rejected the Māori king] and I never shall know any other. I am walking by the side of the Pakeha. Mr. McLean, this is all I have to say. People of the Runanga I have finished.[14]
The putative host for the hui, Paora Tuhaere of Ngati Whatua o Orakei agreed, saying:
Hearken, all ye people to my words! These were my words to the first Governor, to the second Governor and to the third Governor: I want the Laws of England. Hearken, ye people, two things commend themselves to my mind - the Governor and the Queen. For thereby do we, both Pakeha and Maori, reap good. This is my speech. The best riches for us are the Laws of England. [15]
"The Kohimarama Conference had begun with then Governor Gore Browne recalling to those assembled (including more than 100 rangatira from Nga Puhi in the north to Ngai Tahu in the south):
On assuming the Sovereignty of New Zealand Her Majesty extended to her Maori subjects her Royal protection, engaging to defend New Zealand and the Maori people from all aggressions by any foreign power, and imparting to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects; and she confirmed and guaranteed 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 which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish to retain the same in their possession.
    In return for these advantages the Chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi ceded for themselves and their people to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which they collectively or individually possessed or might be supposed to exercise or possess.
The astute reader will notice that these are almost exactly the words to which yesterday's protestors expressed such violent objection -- that is  to say, almost a recapitulation of the Treaty terms.

The Conference itself concluded on 10 August 1860 with rangatira gathered there giving unanimous agreement that:
the several Chiefs, members thereof, are pledged to each other to do nothing inconsistent with their declared recognition of the Queen's sovereignty and of the union of the two races ... [16]
It was Apirana Ngata six decades later who reminded Māori that 
The Government placed in the hands of the Queen of England, the sovereignty [mana] and the authority to make laws. ... it made the one law for the Maori and the Pakeha. If you think these things are wrong and bad then blame our ancestors who gave away their rights in the days when they were powerful.
Those ancestors were not stupid. They knew what they were about, and and had a pretty fair idea of what they were promised.

But perhaps they knew less about what they were agreeing to and signing than the geniuses who took power tools yesterday to Te Papa to make their argument.

1. Waitangi Tribunal 2014, p. 380
2. Waitangi Tribunal 2014, p. 383
3. Lindsay Buick, The Treaty of Waitangi, 1914, p. 150
4. W. Colenso, The Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, 1890 facs., Government Printer, (reprint, 1971, by Caxton Press) p. 24
5. Colenso, p. 22
6. Colenso p. 17
7. Colenso, p. 34
8. Colenso, p. 19
9. Colenso, p. 34
10. Felton Mathew, The Founding of New Zealand: The Journals of Felton Mathew, ed. Rutherford, 1940, (AH & AW Reed for Auckland University College) p. 37
11. Colenso, p. 27
12. Waitangi Tribunal 2014, p. 380
13. "In 1858 [Māori] were estimated at 56,049, of whom 31,667 were males and 24,303 were females." History of New Zealand, Rusden, Vol II. ch. 12. Population of non-Maori was now 59,328. [Stats NZ]
14. Te Karere Maori, July 13th, 1860, p. 15
15. ibid
16. Claudia Orange, in her discussion of the Kohimarama Conference ("possibly the most important gathering of chiefs since Waitangi," p. 77), notes that "sovereignty" was translated in the proceedings as "mana." Ref: 'The Covenant of Kohimarama,' NZ Journal of History, July, 1980, pp74-75
17. Proceedings of the Kohimarama Conference, comprising Nos. 13 to 18 of The Maori Messenger

1 comment:

Trevs_elbow said...

Nicely put together Peter, very well put together. The self delusion of various very educated individuals in NZ about the fact the Treaty turn NZ into a domain of the Crown is stunning.... I truly cant see how someone as learned as Lord Cooke of Thorndon could introduce the canard of partnership in to treaty matters...