Wednesday 28 February 2024

"This is logically why confirmation of tino rangatiratanga is paired with advice on how to go about selling the land."

"[T]he Maori language of the Treaty is now routinely referenced to a world in which it did not exist. [For example] what [translator Henry] Williams might have meant in Article 2, which confirmed Maori in the tino rangatiratanga of everything they possessed. 
    "The aim of the Treaty was not to protect Maori culture; on the contrary, Williams believed that the processes of modernisation were active and sufficient agents of its transformation. It strains belief that, having transferred sovereignty to the Crown in the first article, Williams would posit a principle of omni-applicable Maori authority in the second, yet recent analysis is dependent on this being the case. The British did, of course, care about securing the colony’s land base. This is logically why confirmation of tino rangatiratanga is paired with advice on how to go about selling the land. The logic, and the crudeness of the pairing, point to tino rangatiratanga’s referring not to culture in the sense of Māoriness itself, but specifically to land and resource ownership.
    "Linguistic evidence offers support for this view. As we have seen, translators bent rangatiratanga to the expression of a variety of aspects of western ideas of authority, for which there were no existing Maori terms. Authority over land therefore fits easily in this category. As for evidence offered by context, one example must suffice here. It cannot be overstressed that anxiety about their future authority over the land was the most common theme of chiefs’ speeches at the Treaty hui. There was, therefore, good reason for the Pakeha to make a strong affirming statement not only of Maori ownership of the land, but of their continuing power of decision over its alienation.
    "It needs to be said that confining rangatiratanga to land ownership does not diminish the contemporary importance of Article 2. Land was the Maori stake in the colony. First, it was the commodity with which modernity was purchased. Second, by owning the land, Maori also controlled the most important bound­ary to state power. Nothing, therefore, was of greater importance than the confirmation of ownership. However, a crucial difference between current and historical meanings remains. In 1840 tino rangatiratanga did not distance Maori from the state, but fulfilled the logic of the Treaty’s concern with land.
    "In sum, Henry Williams translated the Treaty of Waitangi for his day, not for posterity. If the task was too lightly and amateurishly approached, this does not seem to require a paranoiac analysis. Within the narrow confines of the trans­lators’ perceptions, word choices in the Maori texts of both the ‘Declaration’ and the Treaty suggest only a striving for precision."
~ Lyndsay Head, from her article 'The Pursuit of Modernity in Māori Society', pp. 107-108

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