Treaty and Maori sovereignty

In a followup to yesterday’s post Korero about Te Tiriti o Waitangi here is a guest post on the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori sovereignty from Dr Scott Hamilton.

Alan Wilkinson claims that ‘It is perfectly clear that the Maori signing the Treaty knew and accepted that they would have to obey British law from that time on.’

As someone who has spent too much time in musty rooms reading nineteenth century documents, I want to ask whether Alan’s confidence in his interpretation of the intentions of the men who signed the Treaty might be misplaced.

Anyone who has studied the behaviour of the British Empire in the nineteenth century ought to be able to appreciate the difficulty of the idea that the British were very interested in imposing their laws and institutions on a small and strategically unimportant colony at the bottom of the world inhabited by a well-armed indigenous people. The British were masters of indirect rule. Even in India, the jewel in their colonial crown, they often ruled by giving local factions a large degree of autonomy.

And anyone who has read about nineteenth century Maori society is also likely to be incredulous at the idea that the proud and tooled up rangatira of Nga Puhi and so many other iwi would surrender their mana to a handful of British bureaucrats who lacked much armed backup and had repeatedly promised them that the Treaty of Waitangi wouldn’t mean a surrender of sovereignty.

If Alan thinks that everyone accepted that the Treaty meant Maori had ceded sovereignty in the nineteenth century, and had agreed to follow British laws, and that it is only relatively recently that a new interpretation has developed, then he should jump on Papers Past or read Keith Sinclair’s classic book Origins of the Maori Wars, and look at what the leaders of the colonial governments of NZ were saying when they waged war against Maori in the 1860s.

Colonial Premiers like Alfred Domett, who presided over the invasion of the Waikato in 1863, absolutely despised the Treaty, and continually described it as an irrelevant document. They held this view because, according to the Maori who had set up the King Movement and other ‘rebellious’ organisations and also according to the colonial office in London, the Treaty really did allow for Maori to exercise legal authority within their rohe.

The British would hardly have inserted article 71 into the Constitution Act of 1852 if they believed that the Treaty was incompatible with Maori legal autonomy. Article 71 states quite clearly that Maori tribes may run their realms and make their own laws if the British governor or the colonial assembly agrees.

Vincent O’Malley has pointed out that in 1861, when Governor Gore Browne sided with the land-hungry settlers in the colonial assembly and prepared to start a war to suppress the de facto state the King Movement had established in the Waikato, his superiors in London rebuked him, and urged him to use article 71, and let the Kingites run their own affairs and make their own laws.

Like the American constitution, the Treaty is a document that inevitably means different things to different people at different times. It is up to us to decide what the Treaty means today.

But the question of what most Maori and the British Crown and settlers thought the Treaty meant in 1840 and for decades after is relatively easy to answer. We only have to look at what Maori and British and settlers did and said to see that they believed that the document did not extinguish all Maori sovereignty, and did not preclude the possibility of Maori making their own laws.

PS Let me just offer a link to something I wrote a couple of years back in response to Kitty’s claim that ‘Maori were not the first people here anyway’:


  1. Pantsdownbrown

     /  February 7, 2016

    Unfortunately the passage of time has seen the original meaning of the treaty changed to favour a few.

    As the great Sir Apirana Ngata said in 1922: “The Treaty sanctioned the levying of rates and taxes on Maori lands, 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.

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      And if you can’t be bothered reading my link the main debunking of the above post of Dr Scott Hamilton & his statement: “And anyone who has read about nineteenth century Maori society is also likely to be incredulous at the idea that the proud and tooled up rangatira of Nga Puhi and so many other iwi would surrender their mana to a handful of British bureaucrats who lacked much armed backup and had repeatedly promised them that the Treaty of Waitangi wouldn’t mean a surrender of sovereignty” comes here;

      Sir Sir Apirana Ngata: “The Maori did not have any government when the European first came to these islands. There was no unified chiefly authority over man or land, or any one person to decide life or death, one who could be designated a King, a leader, or some other designation. No, there was none, the people were still divided, Waikato, Ngati [unclear: Naua], Te Arawa, Ngapuhi and tribe after tribe. Within one tribe there were many divisions into sub-tribes each under their own chief. How could such an organisation, as a Government, be established under Maori custom? There was without doubt Maori chieftainship, but it was limited in its scope to its sub-tribe, and even to only a family group, The Maori did not have authority or a government which could make laws to govern the whole of the Maori Race”

      “It had been stated that 500 convicts had escaped from Australia and were living in various parts of the Bay of Islands just prior to the Treaty. Maori authority had no affect on them but they often disturbed the Maori people. Neither did the laws of the Queen affect them by reason of the fact that the Queen had no authority over these islands”

      “This was at a time when the Maori tribes were fighting fiercely among themselves. There was no peace following the wars of Hongi Hika, Te Wherowhero, Te Waharoa and Te Rauparaha”.

      “The first part is that all the Maori people would receive protection. Looking beyond the shores of New Zealand we find that it was through the Queen and her descendants, through their prestige and might that we have been protected against invasion by foreign powers, namely the French in its time when it attempted to take the South Island and had actually settled at Akaroa; and after that came the Russians and its attempts to conquer us were staved off; and only yesterday we faced up to the Germans and only after a bitter struggle were they defeated; who knows we may have to face up to the Japanese.* The might of England has protected us, the King has given us his protection”.

      • kittycatkin

         /  February 7, 2016

        I was referring to the Moriori; I didn’t see the need to spell it out.

        • scooter74

           /  February 7, 2016

          I’m sorry I didn’t guess you were referring to the notion of the Moriori as the pre-Maori inhabitants of NZ’s main islands Kitty. That one goes back to the nineteenth century and the work of Percy Smith and Elsdon Best, who thought that the Tuhoe and the Moriori were remnants of a Melanesian people who preceded Maori. It was discredited amongst scholars by HD Skinner’s book The Morioris of the Chatham Islands in the 1920s, which showed how similar the skeletons, artefacts and languages of the Moriori and Maori and other Eastern Polynesians were, but has had a long popular afterlife.

          You might be interested in this webpage, which was set up by the actually existing Moriori people, who are going strong on their native Rekohu/Chatham Islands:

    • YourNZ Guest

       /  February 7, 2016

      Response from Scott:

      Pantsdownbrown: you argue, with the help of Apirana Ngata, that Maori signed the Treaty because they lacked a state and because they were desperate to end the inter-iwi warfare of the early nineteenth century. I agree that Maori lacked a state in 1840, and I agree that in the 1810s and ’20s there had been terrible fighting amongst iwi.

      But the British repeatedly told the Maori, during the period when the Treaty was being signed, that they had neither the resources nor the interest in policing Maori society. Early pieces of legislation like the 1841 Juries Act, which provided for separate Maori and Pakeha legal systems, hardly suggested a desire to drag Maori into the realm of British law. The British didn’t build the world’s largest empire by imposing their institutions lock stock and barrel on every people they colonised. They preferred to rule indirectly, by coopting preexisting political and legal systems.

      Even if we leave aside the evidence of British intentions, there are a couple of serious problems for the view that Maori gave up their sovereignty in the hope of British salvation from inter-iwi violence.

      The first problem is that most the inter-iwi wars had petered out by the early 1830s. In the early days of the conflicts some iwi had been armed and others had not, and so the armies of men like Hongi Hika had been able to devastate the rohe of their traditional enemies. By the 1830s, everyone was armed, and the logic of mutually assured destruction began to tell. When two iwi wanted to renew the tradition of war and carve out a new realm for themselves in 1835 they were forced to go all the way to the Chathams, where the indigenous Moriori people were still innocent of muskets. The influence of Christianity also seems to have helped end the fighting. Many Maori taken as slaves by Hongi’s forces converted to Christianity at the same time as their converts, were freed, and returned to their homelands with the new faith.

      The second problem is that, in 1840 and for years afterwards, the British had no means of imposing their will on New Zealand outside a few tiny areas in the north of the North Island. They had troops or policemen and virtually no courts. The notion that they could intervene massively in NZ affairs would have seemed absurd. No one could have predicted the torrent of settlers that would arrive in NZ in later decades, and the armies that the British would very reluctantly send to fight for those settlers.

      I think that chiefs signed the Treaty for a variety of reasons: the hope of attracting missionaries, and thus trade goods and schools and printing presses, the hope of increased mana, a desire to differentiate themselves from chiefs who would not or were not invited to sign, and in some cases free tobacco.

      I think that not only conservative Pakeha with a ‘one law for all’ perspective but also some contemporary Maori politicians, like Pita Sharples, are guilty of trying to make nineteenth century history conform with their political views. When Sharples characterises the chiefs who signed the Treaty as responsible, far-sighted representatives of a Maori nation who were joining with the British in a spirit of partnership they are, like Brash and the rest of the ‘one law’ crowd, creating what historian WH Oliver called a ‘retrospective utopia’. There was no Maori nation in 1840, only a collection of iwi who had recently been at war, and the chiefs who signed the Treaty were, like the rulers of the British empire, autocratic aristocrats more interested in short-term politics and economics than in notions of history.

      Today we can decide what the Treaty means to us. But I’d suggest that the evidence shows that in the middle decades of the nineteenth century most Maori, British, and settlers certainly did not think that the Treaty preclude the maintenance of Maori legal and political autonomy.

      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  February 7, 2016

        Thanks for the detailed reply.

        For me it comes down to this: Do I believe somebody with the mana of SIr Apirana Ngata, who had the benefit of being closer to the time of the agreement, was impartial, and was dead certain as to the treaty’s true intent. Or do I believe more recent academics trying to make judgements on something that happened a long time ago (with its different uses of language and meaning than today) who are themselves part of a multi-million dollar treaty industry and therefore not impartial? I know who I’m backing……..

        • Pantsdownbrown

           /  February 7, 2016

          To add Sir Apirana Ngata gave various reasons for Maori signing over their sovereignty – not just inter-iwi warfare, such as:

          *The threat (whether real or a beat-up by Britain) at the time of New Zealand being invaded by another country – better for Maori to sign a treaty gaining protection from the greatest nation of the time than be eliminated by the French or someone else.
          *Protection from convicts, settlers etc. You mention the British didn’t HAVE the capability to police the nation at the time but that doesn’t mean that the British didn’t promise Maori to do so regardless of their current capability to do so.
          *Maori being so scattered & divided, distrustful of other tribes, and unable to agree on a governance structure for themselves, and the need to have somebody ‘non-Maori’ to be the overall leader (as described by Ngata in my above post).
          *Promises of a better life under British rule, less fighting, better goods etc etc.

  2. kiwi guy

     /  February 7, 2016

    “Article 71 states quite clearly that Maori tribes may run their realms and make their own laws if the British governor or the colonial assembly agrees.”

    Obviously they didn’t agree and the rest is history.

    “It is up to us to decide what the Treaty means today.”

    “Us”? I don’t think you have in mind actual NZers, rather academic Cultural Marxists like Kelsey and yourself.

    • Blazer

       /  February 7, 2016

      for keywee’s benefit…
      Cultural Marxism refers to two things:
      First, extremely rarely, “Cultural Marxism” refers to the application of Marxist ideology and/or critical theory to social sciences.
      Second, much more commonly, “Cultural Marxism” is used as a snarl word used by reactionaries to red-bait anyone with progressive tendencies. The term alludes to a conspiracy theory in which sinister left-wingers in media, academia, and science are engaged in a decades-long plot to undermine Western culture. Perhaps with some “Sexual Bolshevism” thrown in for good measure.
      The conspiracist usage originated in Nazi Germany, where Kulturbolschewismus (“Cultural Bolshevism”) was used as a political term of abuse, as well.[1] The Nazis being the Nazis, they of course often mixed it with their idea that all Bolshevism was a Jewish plot.’wiki.

      • kiwi guy

         /  February 7, 2016

        “Progressive tendencies” – like “smashing Capitalism”, “smashing Patriarchy” or “End Fat Shaming”.

        The usual Cultural Marxist drivel from angry lesbians with blue armpit hair types and their Sociology professors.

        Funny how Blazer tries smearing anyone who does not kowtow to his Cultural Marxism as a “fashist!”, while trying to bury the reality of the mass murder by Leftists/Marxists that made Nazi Germany look like a love in by comparison.

        I’m sure Blazer would agree with this Progressive Dildo/Cultural Marxist:

        [Removed image link – I don’t think that’s appropriate or relevant to this thread. Please remember that while free expression is important respect and consideration of this site and the many others who use it are also important. PG]

        • Blazer

           /  February 7, 2016

          I must say thats not what I thought you would look like…very brave keywee.

          • kiwi guy

             /  February 7, 2016

            No of course not, it is one of your comrades, a Progressive “man” like yourself fighting for “Gender Equality” lol.

            I’m sure you are taking it for “Gender Equality” too, being in solidarity with your comrades, right?

    • YourNZ Guest

       /  February 7, 2016

      Response from Scott:

      Kiwi Guy: why not lay off the ad homs and make an argument about the subject at hand? You’ll enjoy it more, and I’m happy to respond to any substantive point you make. If you want to argue strongly and rationally against the notion that Maori should enjoy tino rangatiratanga then you can, if you make the effort, find allies in academia – Elizabeth Rata, Bryce Edwards – and also on the left, in the writings of Chris Trotter and Edwards. There isn’t any uniformity of opinion on this matter in either academia or on the left.

      • kiwi guy

         /  February 7, 2016

        As I pointed out to you from your own material, it was all conditional, so your argument holds no water.

        You then confirm this by saying we can make the Treaty mean whatever “we” want anyway.

        I followed the links to find out more about you, and it looks like you are fairly much a standard Cultural Marxist type – predictable Progressive memes – “Trump is a fashist!”

        Which makes your accusation of ad hom ironic.

  3. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Kiwi Guy argued that article 71 of the 1852 Constitution Act, which provides for Maori tribes to run their own affairs in their own areas, is irrelevant, because it was never implemented.

    I mentioned article 71 not because of its consequences but because it gives us a hint about how the British Crown felt about the question of Maori autonomy. If they felt that the Treaty of Waitangi really did contradict and extinguish Maori sovereignty, then they would hardly have created a piece of legislation that provided for tribes to exercise sovereignty.

    And I don’t think that article 71 of the Constitution Act was without consequences. We can see its influence in a couple of important pieces of legislation that were passed by the settlers’ assembly, the forerunner of New Zealand’s parliament, in 1858 – the Native Districts Regulation Act and the Native Districts Circuit Courts Act. These laws gave tribal councils the right to pass and enforce legislation in tribal areas that pertained only those areas. Their existence completely contradicts claims that, after the signing of the Treaty, ‘one law for all’ was imposed upon New Zealand.

    The colonial assembly seems to have been prepared to give Maori the right to make law in their tribal areas because it was engaged in a struggle with the British Crown over who had the right to govern New Zealand and organise land sales. The settlers hoped to win over Maori, who had tended to favour the British, by giving them some legal autonomy. By the 1860s, of course, New Zealand would be at war, as the settlers confronted rather than tried to win over Maori.


  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 7, 2016

    Excellent post, thanks. I don’t have time to respond now so will have to wait. I will just assert that British law was established in the Bay where the Treaty was signed and gradually spread with the settlers. As I said, governance is over territory, not race.

  5. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Hi Pantsdownbrown,

    you make two points that I want to query: that Apirana Ngata is a more objective source than other commentators, and that the interpretation of the Treaty that he is expressing is older than the one I am defending.

    I share your reverence for Apirana Ngata. He was a remarkable man who did remarkable things for his Ngati Porou people. I particularly admire Ngata’s attempts to defend the peoples of the Cook Islands and Samoa from the worst parts of New Zealand colonialism and the state-sponsored dairying development schemes he set up in the late ’20s in Tuhoe Country.

    But Ngata wasn’t any more unbiased than any of us – on the contrary, he was, throughout his life, engaged in arguments with other Maori in which history was used as a weapon. Ngata was a conservative who believed that Maori had lost any hope of autonomy after the defeats of the NZ Wars, and should focus on trying to integrate into Pakeha society without losing their cultural identity. He was opposed by radicals like Rua Kenana and Princess Te Puea, who tried to keep the dream of Maori autonomy going up in the Ureweras and at Ngaruawahia. Ngata’s iwi Ngati Porou had been dominated by conservatives since a civil war in 1865-66, whereas Kenana’s Tuhoe iwi and Te Puea’s Waikato people had tended to side with radicals.

    When Ngata talks about the Treaty, he’s doing historiographical battle with his radical enemies within Maoridom (I think he alludes to the Maori who don’t share his opinion at the start of the article you linked to).

    All of this doesn’t make Ngata’s interpretation wrong – everyone who argues about history has preconceptions and prejudices – but it does need to be borne in mind.

    I also think you are mistaken when you suggest that Ngata’s view that the Treaty involved the surrender of Maori sovereignty is older than the view that the Treaty did not preclude Maori sovereignty.

    Even if we leave aside the declarations of Maori leaders in the 1840s, ’50s, and ’60s, in Maori-language newspapers like Te Hokioi and in epistles to the government, and focus only on English-language scholarship, we can find whole books advancing the view that the Treaty recognised Maori sovereignty being written years before Ngata picked up a pen.

    Two examples are John Gorst’s justly famous The Maori King, which was published in 1864 and offers first-hand accounts of the just-completed Waikato War as well as a detailed defence of Maori autonomy, and WG Rusden’s books A History of New Zealand and Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris, which were published in the late 1880s and present events like the invasion of the Waikato and the sacking of Parihaka as betrayals of the Maori autonomy that the author believes was promised by the Treaty.

    I’m not arguing that Rusden and Gorst are necessarily correct, just because they wrote earlier and were closer to events than Ngata: I don’t think the quality of a historical interpretation is necessarily tied to its author’s proximity to events. But I am disputing your claim that the view that the Treaty did not preclude Maori autonomy is the invention of late twentieth century academics.

    Ngata was a great man, and his interpretation of the Treaty deserves serious consideration. I don’t think, though, that you have provided convincing arguments for it by citing its age and its alleged objectivity.


  6. Thanks for this Scott:
    I think a key part of what you argue is that Maori chiefs in 1840 did not surrender sovereignty.
    I am not sure that the British ever “repeatedly promised them that the Treaty of Waitangi wouldn’t mean a surrender of sovereignty.” Given that the whole point of the Treaty, from the British point of view, was to cede sovereignty, that seems unlikely.
    I suspect it lies more in that: (a) Maori in 1840 had no direct equivalent of the concept of sovereignty. That said, 1840 Maori would have been familiar with the kind of power exercised by the Governor of New South Wales, and if Christian understood pretty well Christian ideas of temporal Kingship. So even if Maori didn’t fully grasp the significance of kawanatanga as sovereignty, equally Maori would have seen it as more than just some kind of UN “peacekeeping” and mediation. And
    (b) For 1840 British, sovereignty was entirely compatible with a complex set of strong local/chiefly/aristocratic rights and privileges. British government in 1840 was done through a mix of inherited status and privilege and patronage that Maori chiefs may have understood. So for the British to promise upholding cheiftainship/rangatiratanga in return for sovereignty/kawanatanga was perfectly logical.

    I do disagree with your response that “most the inter-iwi wars had petered out by the early 1830s. ”
    Really? To be sure, many iwi had become heavily-armed confederations ready for war, but that was hardly “peace”. The Moriori didn’t think the wars were petering out after 1830! The Wellington region had a war raging in 1839. Large areas, such as the Heretaunga and Wairarapa plains were depopulated until 1840. A reason why Ngati Whatua were so keen to have the Governor settle near Orakei was because they had only recently returned and Waikato were making noises about claiming the land. My impression is that many Maori chiefs in 1840 wanted the Treaty because it provided for peace (and a useful Crown guarantee for their otherwise very precarious land ownership claims!)

  7. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Hi Kiwiguy,

    surely you’d agree that we today have to decide what the Treaty means to us? You clearly don’t think the Treaty should have a place in twenty-first century New Zealand politics and law. I disagree, but I accept that the role of the Treaty is for us to debate and decide now. I didn’t think that was one of my more controversial points.

    I’m still not sure where you actually disagree with my argument about how the Treaty was perceived in the decades after it was signed. I cited the Constitution Act, and also the 1858 laws that provided for tribes to run their own courts, because I think that they indicate that the people who made these laws didn’t consider that the Treaty precluded the right of Maori to exercise legal autonomy in their tribal territories. But I’m open to hearing your interpretation of the Constitution Act’s 71st article and also of the 1858 Native Districts Regulation Act and the Native Districts Circuit Courts Act. I think the challenge for you would be to explain how they are consistent with the view that the Treaty marked the arrival of ‘one law for all’ in NZ.

    As far as I can tell, you seem to think that everyone studying New Zealand’s nineteenth century history, and a good many other subjects besides, is part of a Marxist conspiracy. I think you vastly over rate both the ability of Marxists to think alike and the influence of the varying and contradictory schools of Marxism. There’s an old left-wing joke that begins with the question ‘What do you get when you put two Marxists in a room?’ and has the punchline ‘Three factions’. Let me direct you to texts by some of the New Zealand Marxists who are resolutely opposed to the notion that the Treaty of Waitangi was about partnership and Maori sovereignty, and who argue vociferously against the usefulness of Treaty settlements and the Waitangi Tribunal.

    Here’s Bryce Edwards, University of Otago political scientist, on why he thinks Maori nationalism is a form of ‘identity politics’ and a waste of time:

    Here’s Daphna Whitmore, long-time Marxist activist in Auckland, on why she thinks the Treaty is no real help to ordinary Maori:

    Other high-profile Marxist critics of the Treaty process and the notion that Maori maintained sovereignty after 1840 include Dr Philip Ferguson and Steve Marks.

    The best-known academic critique of contemporary Maori nationalism and the view of the Treaty as a partnership is Elizabeth Rata’s book Neotribal Capitalism, which uses a lot of Marxist language and categories. You can get an idea of Rata’s arguments here:

    Only weak minds believe in conspiracy theories. The real world is a much more diverse and interesting place than such theories would have us believe. There’s no hegemonic view, Marxist or otherwise, about this subject, only a plethora of competing opinions. Why not join in the debate?

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 7, 2016

    Ok, without needing to go back to the historical records, the fallacy of Dr Hamilton’s case for Tino Rangatiratanga can be demonstrated by simple logic.

    Is it credible that the British and settlers at any time after the ToW accepted that Maori could make their own laws and continue practices of murder, rape, slavery, incest, cannibalism without sanction? And that if a Maori murdered a British subject then British justice would not override Maori jurisdiction.

    No. It is credible of course that British administrators recognised at all times the limits of their control and resources over territory, particularly those remote from settlement, and in those cases and depending on circumstances were forced to allow Maori to settle matters in their own way.

    But the notion that Tino Rangatiratanga was ever envisaged to be an equal partnership is just untenable.

  9. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Hi Goldie,

    thanks for those interesting points. I have used the term ‘the British’ in a very loose and confusing way, when a variety of factions with a variety of intentions were all trying to influence imperial policy towards New Zealand from the 1830s to the ’60s. I’m sure that the Wakefields, who were intent on populating these islands with emigrants from Britain, never had any time at all for notions of Maori sovereignty.

    But when I talked about how British promised the Maori who signed the Treaty that their right to run their own rohe would not be affected I was thinking about the way that Hobson and his lieutenants spoke to Maori in 1840 and 1841, when they were seeking signatures for the Treaty. When Hobson spoke to Hokianga chiefs who were considering signing at Mangonui in 1840, for example, he promised that their sovereignty would be preserved.

    When I say that the Musket Wars were petering out by early 1830s I am relying on the timelines established by Ron Crosby in his book The Musket Wars and by Matthew Wright in his book Guns and Utu. Wright gives quite a lot of detail about how iwi were making peace by the mid-1830s, often without the intervention of outsiders. A famous early example of this process is the peace that was made on a small hill in the centre of what is now the Auckland Domain by Te Wherowhero, the Waikato chief who would later become the first Maori King, northern tribes, and Ngati Whatua.

    You mention the 1835 attack on the Moriori by the Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama peoples. Of course this was an extraordinarily vicious and devastating military adventure, but the fact that the invaders had to go so far to find a people they could be confident of conquering tells us that a parity of firepower had been reached over much of Aotearoa (before they found out about the Chathams, the two iwi were planning to invade Samoa).

    It’s notable that the bizarre attempt by Te Puoho to conquer the South Island in 1836 and ’37 (cf has often been treated by historians and the South Island public alike as the last real episode in the Musket Wars.

    I’m certainly not arguing that all inter-iwi tensions had ended by 1840. In some ways, the wars of the 1860s could be considered inter-iwi conflicts, as some tribes sided with the Pakeha and settled old scores. But I think it is fair to say the Musket Wars were petering out by the early 1830s.

    • Ah Scooter… doesn’t Crosby say the last engagement of the Musket Wars was in 1844 involving, iirc, Taupo tribes against Wanganui Tribes?

      • scooter74

         /  February 7, 2016

        Tuwharetoa and Whanganui iwi almost fought 1844, but peace was made and no shots were fired in anger. Here’s James Cowan’s account: I think Te Puoho’s farcical campaign in 1836-37 was virtually the last chapter of the Musket Wars, or the Potato Wars, as James Belich calls them.

        • Te Puoho trying to conquer all the South island was a bit of suicide mission

          • scooter74

             /  February 7, 2016

            I think he is one of the great quixotic characters in history. And apparently he did get a bit of the south – there’s a snowy valley named for him somewhere in the Southern Alps!

            • Made it all the way into Southland before losing it… definitely tilling at windmills by that stage as Ngai Tahu had got well armed with muskets by then so the Northern tribes initial advantage when attacking the Sounds and Canterbury had dissipated

  10. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Hi Alan,

    the message I’d like to try get across is: we do indeed have to go back to what you call ‘the historical records’, rather than rely on what our guts and our political opinions tell us in the twenty-first century. We need to study history before we make confident assertions about it. The past is strange, and continually contradicts the expectations we bring to it.

    You haven’t offered us a piece of formal logic here, but rather an appeal to what you intuitively feel about the British Empire. You say that the British would never tolerate Maori practices like slavery, murder, and cannibalism in New Zealand. Presumably you think these practices would be unthinkable because they violated British ideas about morality.
    Presumably you also think that, if they were given the right to make their own laws, Maori would enthusiastically endorse cannibalism and similar practices.

    It’s not hard at all to look around British imperial history and find the British tolerating, in the name of indirect rule and strategic objectives, rebarbative practices by local rulers who enjoyed their protection and support. Many examples could come from India’s princely states, whose rulers established their own legal systems and for many years tolerated practices like infanticide and slavery without suffering sanctions from London. Another good example is Fiji, where a de facto system of slavery was established under the noses of British colonial administrators.

    And there’s an example even closer to home. After they invaded the Chathams in 1835 Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama enslaved the islands’ indigenous Moriori people. For many years after the signing of the Treaty, British and colonial officials were aware of the continuing enslavement of the Moriori. They did nothing to stop the practice, and later decided to give almost all the islands’ land to the invaders, despite the protests of the remnant of the Moriori people. In his book on the Moriori Michael King argues that the colonial reluctance to confront slavery on the Chathams and restore land to the Moriori was motivated by a desire to keep Taranaki Maori on the islands, and well away from their original home, where settlers wanted land and war was in the air.

    The rest of New Zealand was hardly free of slavery in the decades after the Treaty of Waitangi. Dozens of New Zealand ships were involved in the Pacific slave trade, which brought black and brown labour to the plantations of Queensland and Fiji, New Zealanders helped raid Tonga for slaves in 1863 (, in 1870 slaves arrived in Auckland to work in our flax mills (, and in the 1870s and ’80s newspapers regularly complained of the plight of Melanesians working for nothing as domestic help in the homes of the city’s wealthiest families.

    I’m not sure whether Maori would have used the power to make their own laws to endorse slavery and cannibalism. By 1840 most iwi had renounced both practices. When after 1858 and the creation of the King Movement Maori did create their own state in the central North Island and set up several parliaments the endorsement of cannibalism was not high on their agenda.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      You have avoided the central issue. Maori murder or rape of British subjects was certainly subject to British justice irrespective of any delegated Maori sovereignty. They were not equal.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 7, 2016

        I refer you to the 1846 Constitution Act Chapter 14 which makes the above crystal clear and explicit.

  11. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Alan wrote:

    ‘Maori murder or rape of British subjects was certainly subject to British justice irrespective of any delegated Maori sovereignty’

    I’d argue that the example of the Chathams shows very clearly that the murderers and enslavers of British subjects weren’t necessarily subject to British justice, because first British and then colonial authorities decided they’d prefer to tolerate the practices of Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama out of political expediency (although the Chathams were invaded in 1835, there were still murders of Moriori slaves after 1840). And I think both Michael King, in his book Moriori: a people rediscovered, and the Waitangi Tribunal, in its Rekohu Report, reach the same conclusion. Barry Barclay’s documentary film Feathers of Peace dramatises the injustice that was done to the Moriori, as colonial authorities colluded with those who enslaved and murdered them.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      It is unreasonable to pretend that the Moriori were regarded as British subjects rather than Maori.

  12. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 7, 2016

    NZ Constitution Act 1846 published in the UK Official Gazette:


    Respecting the Aborigines of New Zealand.

    1. The Governor-in-chief shall, by proclama-
    tion, to be for that purpose issued, set apart, as
    he shall see occasion, particular districts of New
    Zealand, under the designation of “Aboriginal
    2; Within such districts the laws, customs, and
    usages of the aboriginal inhabitants, so far as they
    are not repugnant to the general principles of
    humanity, shall for the present be maintained.

    3. Within such districts such native chiefs or
    others as shall be appointed or approved by the
    Governor-in-chief for that purpose, shall interpret
    and carry into execution such laws, customs, and
    usages as aforesaid, in all cases in which the
    aboriginal inhabitants themselves are exclusively

    4. Any person, not being any aboriginal native,
    and being within any such district, shall during
    such his continuance therein, respect and observe
    such native laws, customs, and usages as aforesaid
    on pain of such penalties for the violation or
    breach thereof as may be inflicted on him by the
    sentence of any court or magistrate in any other
    part of the province within which such aboriginal
    district may be situate.

    5. The jurisdiction of the courts and magis-
    trates of the entire province shall extend over the
    said aboriginal districts subject only to the duty
    so incumbent on them of taking notice of and
    giving effect to the laws, customs, and usages of
    such aboriginal inhabitants as aforesaid, in respect
    of all such cases as aforesaid.

    6. In cases arising between the aboriginal in-
    habitants of New Zealand alone, beyond the
    limits of the said aboriginal districts, and in what-
    ever relates to the relations to and the dealings
    of such aboriginal inhabitants with each other
    beyond the same limits, the courts and magis-
    trates of the entire province, or of the district in
    which such cases may arise, shall enforce such
    native laws, customs, and usages as aforesaid.

    7. The Governor-in-chief may from time to
    time contract or enlarge the limits- of any such
    aboriginal districts, but no such district shall ever
    comprize any lands which the Governor-in-chief
    may by proclamation have declared to be within
    the limits of settlement.

  13. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘I refer you to the 1846 Constitution Act Chapter 14 which makes the above crystal clear and explicit’

    Do you know the story behind that act, though? It was drafted and pushed on the UK parliament by early settlers, some of them linked to the Wakefield enterprise, who were not trying to codify or elaborate upon the Treaty of Waitangi, but rather to nullify and over ride the Treaty. Its authors were very upset with the way the Treaty seemed to give Maori sovereignty, and were upset with what they saw as British softness towards Maori. Most of the provisions in the Act were killed off in 1848, because the British saw it them impractical. That’s why we don’t have a provinces called New Munster and New Ulster today.

    So once again we see that, for many settlers as well as Maori and British in 1840s New Zealand, the Treaty seemed to promise Maori sovereignty. The settlers didn’t like that – but they acknowledged it, which is why they wanted to kill or at least ameliorate the Treaty with the 1846 act.

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      “So once again we see that, for many settlers as well as Maori and British in 1840s New Zealand, the Treaty seemed to promise Maori sovereignty. The settlers didn’t like that – but they acknowledged it, which is why they wanted to kill or at least ameliorate the Treaty with the 1846 act”

      Or they thought the Treaty wasn’t clear enough in its proper intention and could foresee the possibility of Maori reneging in future on giving their sovereignty to the crown by using any loophole open to them (which has come to pass).

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 7, 2016

        You give his claims far too much credit. The Act was implemented but the legislatures were modified before implementation. No Maori governed districts were ever created. Had they been, they were subject to British sovereignty and law.

  14. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Actually I’m wrong in saying the 1846 Constitution Act was scuppered after a couple of years – it was actually blocked by the British and never became law. The 1852 Constitution Act was Britain’s replacement for the abandoned 1846 legislation.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      It did become law because it appointed Grey as Governor.

  15. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    No, it didn’t become law. Governor Grey was the one who blocked it! He considered that it was absurd for the tiny number of settlers in NZ to claim the right to set up a government, and to make laws for the vastly larger number of Maori.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      He blocked the implementation of the legislatures but he himself was appointed under the law. And clearly it was the basis for the 1852 Act which was implemented.

      The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (15 & 16 Vict. c. 72) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that granted self-government to the Colony of New Zealand. It was the second such Act, the previous 1846 Act not having been fully implemented.

      Neither was the 1842 Act fully implemented since Section 71 was never applied.

      It’s quite clear Maori sovereignty never ever had equal status from the very beginning. I don’t know why you attempt to dispute the obvious.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      Actually you are completely wrong about the 1948 Constitution not becoming law. It certainly did and was enacted by Gray but incompletely: – see the section headed Suspension.

      • I shudder to think what an actual “1948 constitution” might have looked like. More cloyingly, chokingly “British” than anything they could have dreamed up in 1846 or 1852, anyway.

  16. Blazer

     /  February 7, 2016

    thank you for a wonderful read scooter.I learned alot and congratulate you on both your knowledge about this topic and your calm measured response to critique of your submissions.

  17. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 7, 2016

    As for your Section 71:

    Section 71.—And Whereas it may be expedient that the Laws, Customs, and Usages of the Aboriginal or Native Inhabitants of New Zealand, so far as they are not repugnant to the general principles of Humanity, should for the present be maintained for the Government of themselves, in all their relations to and dealings with each other, and that particular districts should be set apart within which Laws, Customs, or Usages should be so observed. It should be lawful for Her Majesty, by any Letters Patent to be issued under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom from time to time to make Provisions for the purposes aforesaid, any repugnancy of any such Native’s Laws, Customs, or Usages, to the Law of England or to in any part thereof, in any wise notwithstanding.

    It is perfectly clear that Maori sovereignty was subject to British law apart from these further issues:
    a) The language is obviously taken from the 1948 Act.
    b) The Section was never implemented, nor were Maori districts enacted just as the 1948 districts had not been.

    Your case is untenable.

  18. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Hi Alan,

    I think the Constitution Act of 1852 is an attempt to try to reconcile the promise that Maori tribes could continue to enjoy sovereignty over their rohe with the incorporation of New Zealand into the British Empire. And if we examine its legislative sequels – the Native Districts Regulation Act and the Native Districts Court Circuits laws that I mentioned earlier, which gave tribes the right to not only set up courts in their rohe but to act as police and enforce the rulings of these courts – then we can get an idea of what article 71 meant in practice. It certainly didn’t mean one law for all.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      No-one is pretending it meant one law for all from the beginning but it certainly meant that British sovereignty was paramount and that Tino Rangatiratanga is a modern fiction.

    • Brown

       /  February 7, 2016

      Thanks for the many interesting comments with references but I wonder if we are over complicating things by presenting an argument in light of how things function today after much water has passed beneath the bridge. Even today we have some autonomy, as groups, clubs, societies and so on, to act as we decide as long as we stay within the legislation applicable overall. Does the treaty simply reflect the practical norms of time in that the Crown would allow Maori to run some domestic affairs, within limits, in keeping with the tribal and chiefly structures they knew. It wasn’t a licence to do whatever you wanted. I suspect groups like the Closed Brethren do all sorts of stuff that meets what they see as acceptable while making those outside raise an eyebrow. It remains legally allowable because it falls on the legislated correct side of the line. In 1840 you would have got away with a heap more than you can today and maybe there was not the desire to micromanage Maori as long as they behaved in respect of serious crimes, such as the murder and cannibalism, they had previously embraced.

  19. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Thanks for your kind words Blazer. I’m sort of feeling my way back into the 1840s and the 1850s, after being obsessed for years with the 1860s (I got a grant to write a book about the history of the Great South Road, which was built to start the Waikato War, and am still recovering from walking up the whole damned thing: I like being challenged here: it’s boring when everyone has the same opinion of history! The only thing I find is depressing is the conspiracy theory that everyone researching history at a university or museum or library archive is involved in a plot to push the same message. Folks who believe that are really missing out.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      I agree that this kind and level of debate is what we need and too often miss out on. Everyone learns from it. Cheers.

  20. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘No-one is pretending it meant one law for all’

    I think a very considerable number of Pakeha New Zealanders, encouraged by politicians like Don Brash and commentators like Michael Laws, certainly do believe that ‘one law for all’ prevailed in New Zealand after the Treaty was signed. And, as the legislative history of the 1840s and ’50s shows, they’re wrong.

    ‘Tino Rangatiratanga is a modern fiction’

    This view can only be maintained by those who don’t read our history. I gave a reading list of books that advocated Maori autonomy deep in the nineteenth century – and those were only English-language books. If you hack your way through the Maori newspapers that are now appearing in the Papers Past archive you’ll find the same idea again and again. In the twentieth century you’ll find Te Puea and Kenana arguing for TR, and then, in the 1950s, you’ll find Sir Keith Sinclair, who is rather hard to cast as an agent of politically correctness, talking about Maori autonomy and its betrayal in his Origins of the Maori Wars.

    ‘British sovereignty was paramount’

    I don’t think anybody is arguing that the Treaty of Waitangi wasn’t intended to bring New Zealand into the British Empire. The question is whether the Treaty was intended to preclude Maori sovereignty, and establish the rule of one law over the land. I think the evidence against this idea is compelling.

    Perhaps it’d be useful to pursue a rough analogy between New Zealand in 1840 and Tonga in 1900, when King Tupou II signed a treaty of friendship with the British Empire. The treaty allowed for the British to take over the running of Tongan foreign policy, gave them vetos over certain decisions of Tongan governments, and allowed them to install ministers at the heart of that government. Nevertheless, it left substantial amounts of sovereignty with the Tongans. It’d be foolish to deny that the Tongans lost some of their sovereignty in 1900 – but it’d be equally foolish to deny that they continued to exercise a great deal of sovereignty.

    Perhaps we could argue that, in the 1850s, New Zealand seemed set to take the sort of path latter trodden by Tonga. The bloodshed of the 1860s put the country on another track, of course.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      ‘No-one is pretending it meant one law for all’

      “… from the beginning” – you missed out that qualification. And the legislative history does not support your position since Maori districts were never implemented, a criteria you seem to acknowledge only when it suits your purpose.

      Of course there is evidence of various claims to sovereignty as a means to increase political power throughout history. That doesn’t give them any legitimacy.

      I think the evidence is crystal clear that British sovereignty was to be paramount, that Maori chiefs were to be allowed to rule their present lands and people to the extent that was compatible with British concepts of justice and humanity, and that those areas were to be defined by the British administration and subject to it.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 7, 2016

        Just to make my first point explicit:

        1. Legally there was indeed one law for all from the beginning since no Maori ruled districts were ever implemented, and

        2. If they had been implemented they would have been subject to British law and administration. They were not of equal status or partnership.

        That as a matter of practicality as well as pragmatism there was a transition period where there was no effective British law and administration in Maori dominated areas does not alter the above.

  21. Pantsdownbrown

     /  February 7, 2016

    Scott: What about the speech by Governor Thomas Gore Brown at the 1860 Conference of Maori Chiefs at Kohimaramato where he reiterated the British meaning (English version) of the Treaty of Waitangi (including they handed their sovereignty to the crown) and little/no objection was raised by the chiefs present (a large majority of which spoke in support of his speech)? Surely this is a good indication on what the treaty was supposed to represent only 20 years after the fact?

    “Gov Brown: “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”.

    Couldn’t get more clear cut then that – if the 112 Maori chiefs present thought the treaty meant otherwise why did the large majority agree (only around 3-4 Chiefs outright disagreed) with Gov. Brown in their own speeches in reply?

    The proof that Maori signed over their sovereignty to the crown is in the Chiefs own words in 1860.

    • Thanks for flagging up Kohimarama…. it gives a different perspective. I think it reveals a large if not majority Maori view in favour of British sovereignty in the English sense of the word, as opposed to the Waikato centre Maori King movement.

      Its also quite revealing that many Maori fought for the British in the Land Wars – too be sure some of that was settling old scores inter tribally. But I find it pretty hard to accept that canny tribes like Ngati Porou didn’t know they were fighting for a higher power in the British Crown and hence were acknowledging British sovereignty

  22. Mike C

     /  February 7, 2016

    Who really truly honestly gives a fuck about all of this ???

    The Treaty was signed by numerous Maori Chiefs way back in the 1800’s … and then sealed by the British.

    Nothing can change that fact … despite the “Know it All Academics” trying their best to alter history 🙂

    For God’s Sakes … every single year the Maori Activists and University Professors come up with a new different way to give themselves a soap box to stand on to lecture and preach to the rest of us.

    I am sick of it !!!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      Don’t listen, Mike. Just give them your money and power so they can be rich and powerful without earning it. Or tell them where to get off.

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      Not sure if that adds to the discussion Mike – but if it makes you feel better…………..

      • Mike C

         /  February 7, 2016


        I just cannot be bothered anymore with a small group of Academics and Activists telling the multitudes what they should think and do regarding the Treaty.

        Just for once … it would be nice to have a Waitangi Weekend that isn’t marred and ruined by a bunch of “Tunnel Visioned Treaty Terrorists”.

  23. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Hi Alan,

    the meeting you mention, which lasted a month and was funded by the Crown, was called after the outbreak of war in Taranaki in 1860. With the support of the King Movement in the Waikato, Taranaki Maori had accused of denying them the right to sovereignty expressed in the Treaty and armed themselves.

    Browne wanted to sell his war in Taranaki to Maori from other parts of the North Island. But it would be a mistake to assume that all the 112 chiefs present agreed with Browne’s speech. You’re relying on an account of the meeting that was, after all, published by a government looking to justify a war. And the fact that the meeting dragged on for an entire month suggests that Browne had some trouble explaining his policies.

    We also have to remember that Browne’s decision to wage war in 1860 was condemned by many senior clergymen, including Octavius Hadfield, who wrote a whole book about the subject, and Bishop Selwyn. They were no radicals but thought the war unfair to their Maori parishioners.

    Browne, who apparently had a mercurial temperament, had become exasperated with the King Movement and its allies in Taranaki after earlier attempting to compromise with them. In 1858 he tried to persuade the settler government to allow the King Movement some powers of self-government. He also got his cabinet to appoint a sort of diplomatic advisory team to the Kingitanga. But by 1860 he’d turned hard in the other direction, much to the delight of the settlers and the displeasure of the British, who wanted him to calm the Maori rebels by invoking article 71. In 1861 he was brought home.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      That was PDB, not me.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      Are you seriously suggesting a contemporary newspaper publishing nationwide in Maori could misquote a hundred major chiefs without serious consequences? Having read the article I don’t believe that conspiracy theory.

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      I suppose the point of all this lively debate is that there IS an alternative viewpoint, with supporting information that Maori ceded sovereignty to the crown. My concern is that nowadays if a person tries to express this opinion they are looked upon as racist conspiracy theorists.

      Debate has apparently ended in this country on the treaty & our colonial past and only Maori interpretations are seen as being the true history of this country.

      • That comment there is money PDB.

        I have discussed this a bit with Maori mates and while they have some idea about the 1860’s warfare and some of its inequities they don’t really have much idea why their own tribes signed the treaty. They are ignorant about how devastating the Musket Wars had been – something like 20,000 killed out of small population of roughly 100,000 [ for estimate pop. in 1810]

        If you had seen your small tribe heavily reduced in number via war you would be quite happy to turn to a big powerful power like Britain for protection…

  24. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘Who really truly honestly gives a fuck about all of this ?’

    Try this experiment, Mike: forget about the politics and your resentment towards academics and just imagine yourself back into the nineteenth century. Imagine characters like Te Kooti, the rebel and magician riding through the backcountry of Te Ika a Maui on his white horse, evading pursuer after pursuer; Alfred Domett, the tormented Premier who was rejected by a young Maori woman, despite writing an epic and rather bad poem about her society, and then turned into an embittered racist, determined to wage war and confiscate land; Gustavus von Tempsky, the handsome painter and adventurer who founded a ragged army of Forest Rangers that disappeared into the forests of Hunua and tried to fight the Maori using Maori methods; and Michael O’Connor, the Irish rebel whose dug for gold close to the border of Maori territory, raised his own Fenian army, and travelled to see the Maori King and urge him to join forces with Ireland against the British Empire…there are a thousand other names we could mention.

    The history of nineteenth century New Zealand is as strange as intoxicating as any chapter in the human past. It belongs to Kiwis, and they should know and enjoy it, whatever their politics.

    • Mike C

       /  February 7, 2016


      I do not resent University Academics nor the Maori People in general 🙂

      But I do detest the extremist Academics and Maori who go to great lengths every single year … in the week leading up to Waitangi Day … where their only goal is to cause as much mayhem as they possibly can via Street Marches and Headlines in the Media.

      • scooter74

         /  February 7, 2016

        Well, in a democratic society you’ve got the right not to like Hone Harawira and co and to say so as repetitively as you want. But I’m not sure what your comments have to with the subjects of this discussion thread.

    • Yes, yes & yes Scott, and you’ve done more than almost anyone else to convince me of that. The most terrifying thought though is the miserable, depleted idea of the present implied by ‘not giving a fuck’ about the past. Really, Mike, you’re satisfied that your newsfeed tells you all you need to know about what you see in front of you? And that ‘personal’ + (personal) ‘professional’ life is plenty, thanks? 21st century parochial ‘fun’ is that much fun?

  25. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘Legally there was indeed one law for all from the beginning since no Maori ruled districts were ever implemented’

    My understanding is that the Native Districts Regulation Act saw the setting up of runanga in many parts of the North Island in the late 1850s, and that these councils made and oversaw laws until they were abolished by the Domett administration in 1863, the year the Waikato was invaded. The settlers and Gore Browne seem to have seen the runanga as ways of winning over Maori who supported the King Movement, which wanted more thoroughgoing autonomy, and also London, which was interested in implementing article 71 as an alternative to a new war.

  26. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘Are you seriously suggesting a contemporary newspaper publishing nationwide in Maori could misquote a hundred major chiefs without serious consequences?’

    I most certainly am suggesting that. In the early 1860s there was a propaganda war between Kingite and Crown-owned Maori language newspapers, and both sides played hard. The newspaper the Crown established in Te Awamutu, an island of state authority in the Waikato Kingdom, had to fold after locals enraged by what they considered its fabrications threw its printing press into the river.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      That just proves my point. There would have been serious consequences for such misrepresentation had it happened. Were there any?

  27. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    I can’t think of any consequences, except for a war. Browne was trying to convince the chiefs to stay out of what he presented as a dispute over land at Waitara. Instead of staying out some of them jumped in, and the war spread. I think it’s fair to say that the government’s official account of the meeting might have been overly sanguine, then…

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      So we disregard the bits that don’t fit the narrative and agree with the rest?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      So which of the chiefs that reportedly spoke in favour of the Governor joined forces against him?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 7, 2016

        Reportedly Waikato Maori from Ngati Ruanui and Nga Rauru joined the fighting. Pehimana from Nga Rauru was at the meeting but is not reported. No chief from Ngati Ruanui was present. Ngatiapa chief Hapurona and Ngati Maniapoto chief Tokohihi joined the fighting but the former is not reported and the latter did not attend.

        That gives no support to your claim/implication of misrepresentation other than the possibility Pehimana and Hapurona spoke but were not reported.

        • Mike C

           /  February 7, 2016


          My Great Grandfather fought in Taranaki and the Waikato.

          Why did those wars happen … because surely there must be a very good reason for all of that bloodshed ???

  28. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘So we disregard the bits that don’t fit the narrative and agree with the rest?’

    I’m not by any means an authority on the Kohimaramara conference or the Taranaki War, but I think that if someone were writing an article about the conference he or she would try to test the claims in the government newspaper by finding other sources and seeing what they say. An obvious place to look would be Papers Past. Did other newspapers, especially a newspaper like the New Zealander, which was based in Auckland and took an anti-war, pro-Maori line, report the same facts that we get in Browne’s paper? What about the Maori-controlled papers? Did the same chiefs say different things there? And we could try to get a list of the chiefs who did attend, and check to see how many, if any, of them subsequently became involved in the war. If a lot of them did then there are grounds for being sceptical about the report.

    The other interesting thing about the conference is that Browne apparently used it to promise he’d set up some sort of Maori parliament. Perhaps he was once again trying to steal the thunder of the King Movement, as he had done when he set up runanga. But nothing ever came of the promise of a parliament. An investigator would probably want to ask how Browne’s rhetoric about one law and one nation fit with his promise of a separate parliament for Maori. Was he talking out of both sides of his mouth, in an effort to placate his guests?

  29. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    As I say I’m not expert on the Kohimaramara conference, but I did a search on Papers Past and turned up a letter from an observer at the conference named Robert Burrows, who complained that the event was run in a way unfair to critics of the Crown. Burrows claims that when chiefs who didn’t agree with the Crown line raised their hands to speak or vote they were ignored:–1860—1862–10-DSC-1—-0robert+burrows–

    The Daily Southern Cross, which ran Burrows’ letter, comments:

    ‘It thus appears that the affirmative votes were taken by the president, Mr. McLean, but I that the negative votes were not even asked for. We do not impute intention, presuming nothing but want of acquaintance with the forms of public meetings. But the error is serious for the native resolutions, on which so much stress has been laid, become utterly worthless.’

    Like I said, we have to be careful not to take government newspapers at their word.

  30. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘Native Districts Regulation Act (from the NZ legislature) implemented a very limited form of local government in Maori areas’

    How limited was it? We’d have to drill down into and test the various reports on runanga activities to discover how much authority they had. I took a lucky dip on Papers Past and found a report on the runanga at Waimate. According to the reported minutes of its first meeting, the runanga took upon itself the job of settling all differences and disputes amongst Maori in the district. If the Waimate runanga did indeed operate in this way – and I’m not claiming we can assume it did on the basis of one report – then it clearly didn’t have limited powers:——-10–1—-0waikato+runanga–

    At the same time, the runanga made gestures towards the Crown and the Pakeha government.

    Looking at the make-up of the Waimate runanga, I recognise a number of famous names, like the prophet Aperahama Taonui and Tamati Waka Nene. My guess would be that what the runanga did is essentially endorse the pre-existing situation of Maori control of Maori affairs in many districts. The historian Mark Derby has used the term rival sovereignties’ to describe the way he thinks Maori and Pakeha legal authority existed, often uneasily, adjacent to each other through the 19th century.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      “the runanga took upon itself the job of settling all differences and disputes amongst Maori in the district”

      Where? The only reference I saw was to use its influence to put an end to war parties (taua) and to have disputes resolved by Magistrates assisted by Maori assessors.

      I am coming to the conclusion you are expert at misrepresentation yourself.

  31. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    According to the summary at the start of this essay by Lachy Patterson, some historians have seen it as a reaffirmation of Maori commitment to the Treaty and autonomy, whilst other commentators have drawn the opposite conclusions:

    I’ll happily leave them to battle over the meaning of what sounds like a bewilderingly complicated event.

    What is certain, reading Lachy’s essay, is that the conference was a lot more critical of the government than the report in the government Maori Messenger newspaper claimed. The first week of the conference was spent discussing the crisis in Taranaki, with many speakers expressing sympathy for the Taranaki Maori fighting the Crown. And Lachy takes seriously not only Burrows’ allegations that dissident chiefs were kept from talking and voting but other allegations that chiefs were bribed to vote for the Crown.

    Looking down the lists of the iwi who sent chiefs to the conference, I can see that a number of them – Ngati Tamatera of Hauraki, Ngati Raukawa of the central North Island, Ngati Paoa of the Hauraki – would be at war with the Crown in a couple of years. The Maori Messenger’s claims that they were united for Browne and against the King Movement sound a bit fishy, then.

    What’s interesting, too, is how many iwi weren’t represented at the conference. Virtually none from Waikato were present. According to Te Ara, one hundred of the chiefs who were invited refused to come.

  32. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    ‘to have disputes resolved by Magistrates assisted by Maori assessors’

    Having read last year through the letters of Spencer von Sturmer (, who was a magistrate near Waimate in the nineteenth century, I strongly suspect that the assessors were running the show, not the other way round.

    You need to remember the situation in a region like Northland in the 1850s. Pakeha were few and almost powerless in most districts. Maori had the power and made the running. Jennifer Ashton’s recent AUP book At the Margins of Empire, which is a study of the Hokianga in the middle of the nineteenth century, brings out how even magistrates like von Sturmer and extremely wealthy businessmen like John Webster were at the mercy of Maori institutions and had constantly to negotiate Maori law.

  33. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    As a little light relief, and because I’ve got to clear out of this discussion soon, here’s a letter that I found in the papers of the Hokianga magistrate Spencer von Sturmer. I hope it gives a sense not only of the fragility of the Pakeha state in Maori parts of the country but of why NZ’s nineteenth century history can be very funny.

    My dear Sir,

    I take the liberty of again troubling you –

    The fact is that the inhabitants of this place, with very few exceptions, are given to excessive drinking, and of course all sorts of evils follow in its train. So bad has it become, that unless some change takes place in the habits of the people, I shall be compelled to leave the District, even though my living depends upon my remaining here, as my family are subject to every sort of annoyance from drunken people; as, though they never leave my own premises, still, it is impossible to drown the shouts and noise of thirty or forty, and sometimes more, drunken natives and Europeans, wrangling and fighting together.

    The enclosed letter, from Mohi Tawhai, is just to hand. He requests me to caution – J.R. Clenden, J.P.; Capt. Rowntree, J.P.; and John Eryson, and other sellers of spirits, not to sell in large quantities to the natives, naming one in particular) belonging to his settlement.

    Could not a J.P. be removed from the Commision of the Peace when he takes to selling spirits? or something be done to shame him? Capt. Rowntree does not himself hold a Licence, but the spirits are sold in his house by his brother-in-law.

    Can nothing be done to alter the state of things here? I have spoken to Mr. Webster, and other J.P.’s in the District; and they would gladly assist in anything to prevent spirits coming into Hokianga, were it possible. Perhaps it would be in your power to assist us in some way, to bring about a better state of things here.

    Should you think it possible that anything can be done to improve matters, would you kindly, when you have the opportunity, give me some appointment elsewhere, (keeping a Lighthouse would be better than staying here). I am not ambitious. Any situation in any Office that you think I could perform – anything to get away from this place; not so much on my own account, as on that of my wife and family.

    I have no right to complain of the people here, either white or black. All are very kind – in fact, more so than I have a right to expect. The shocking dissipation is what I complain of. The Websters and Manings will, I am satisfied, corroborate all I say. They themselves live in isolated spots, so are not so much troubled. I should not have written to you, as I imagined you would have visited this place, in company with Mr. McLean; but Mr. Maning, (just returned) tells me you will not come, and so will not be able to see this delightful spot for yourself.

    Please excuse this, and hoping that Mrs. Fox and yourself are well,

    Believe me, dear Sir,
    Yours very faithfully (Signed)
    Spencer von Sturmer.

    • Mike C

       /  February 7, 2016


      Too Long Didn’t Read 🙂

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 7, 2016

      Maning of course was a very smart guy and a great writer. As a judge himself it was quite clear he was running the show and not at the mercy of any assessors.

      I think we have clearly reached the inevitable conclusion that my initial position was an accurate description. Yes, those furthest from the European power base in the Bay of Islands were last to feel and accept the impact of British sovereignty. Yes, of course rebels always want to claim sovereignty and there will always be some. Yes, disputes over land despite the good will and attempts to be fair were serious and sometimes grossly unjust.

      But Tino Rangatiratanga as an equal partnership or complement to the British Crown is a modern fiction that never existed after the ToW.

      • scooter74

         /  February 7, 2016

        ‘I think we have clearly reached the inevitable conclusion that my initial position was an accurate description.’

        I began by disputing your claim that ‘It is perfectly clear that the Maori signing the Treaty knew and accepted that they would have to obey British law from that time on.’

        I think we’ve seen ample proof that a very large number of Maori didn’t take this view. We’ve seen them agitating for autonomy, forming movements to preserve their autonomy, most notably the King Movement, and taking advantage of legislation like the laws of 1858 to grab the right to make and implement laws in their tribal areas, until that right was quashed in 1863.

        But we’ve also seen that the British accepted that the Treaty did not preclude Maori autonomy, which is why they could create the 1852 Constitution Act and the 1858 laws and urge Gore Browne to implement article 71 in 1861. And we’ve seen that many settlers both considered the Treaty was compatible with Maori sovereignty and resented this fact. That’s why they pushed the 1846 Constitution Act and eventually pushed successfully for wars to destroy Maori autonomy in the 1860s.

        I think that you’re reluctant to accept that British sovereignty can be combined with a significant degree of indigenous sovereignty inside the empire. But the British tended to rule indirectly, by distributing power, coopting traditional legal and political systems, and -when necessary – tolerating rebarbative local practices, like infanticide in Indian princely states or slavery in the Chathams.

        If it were not for the growing power of the settlers in the 1860s and the outbreak of the wars of that decade, what Mark Derby calls ‘dual sovereignty’ would in all likelihood have continued indefinitely here.

        That’s how I see things, at least! We’ll have to agree to disagree. It’s been an interesting discussion.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 7, 2016

          You are stretching credibility beyond belief on every point.

          I’m happy to let my refutations above stand as they are together with those PDB produced. It’s been an interesting discussion which has led me to check my recollections via new facilities but doing so has just confirmed what I already understood to have been the situation.

          • scooter74

             /  February 7, 2016

            I think to does us good to realise that people can reasonably disagree when they interpret history. Your views are in some ways not too far away from those of Chris Trotter, with whom I have been having an intermittent argument about nineteenth century NZ history for many years. I’ll probably never convince Chris of my views and he’ll probably never convince me of his, but I learn something each time I debate him.

            I think there’s a GK Chesterton story in which a character asks his teacher ‘What’s the point of reading about events of the past, when all the different historians interpret those events differently?’ The teacher replies ‘that’s precisely why history’s worth reading’.

  34. Mike C

     /  February 7, 2016

    This places comments have almost become as boring and repetitive and long winded as all of the other Political Blogs.

    Everything in here has become so serious … with so little humour.

    My life is too fucking short to spend reading comments that the writer has taken an hour to write.

    I need humour in my life … and its just plain fucking sad that nobody in here appears to have a sense of humour anymore 😦

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      I suppose this particular thread is more serious as we have an academic in here answering our questions – go and start something up in the social thread?

      • Mike C

         /  February 7, 2016


        What username is “The Academic” using to answer your questions?

  35. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    Thanks for finding and sending through the letter replying to Burrows’ accusation about the Kohimaramara meeting, PDB. The event seems tangled up in contradictory interpretations. I think I need a cold beer! I’ve learned a lot, though, during this debate.

    Here’s some classic British comedy for Mike C:

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  February 7, 2016

      Yes – thanks for the discussion – enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    • Mike C

       /  February 7, 2016


      I’m not British ya fool 🙂

  36. scooter74

     /  February 7, 2016

    I thought we were all British since that Treaty thing was signed Mike!

  37. Mike C

     /  February 7, 2016

    @Scooter aka Doctor Scott

    Speak for yourself 🙂

    I was born in New Zealand … as were my Mother and Father and Grandparents and my Children.

    It’s sad that you appear to have such a distinct separation in your own mind between European and Maori more than 150 years after the Treaty was signed.

    Quite clearly I will never be able to get you to see your heritage from a different perspective … so let’s just both “Agree to Disagree” on this subject.

  38. scooter74

     /  February 8, 2016

    I don’t think there has to be an antagonistic separation, Mike. I used to teach at the ‘Atenisi Institute, a university inTonga that was set up by Futa Helu, a man who wanted to blend Polynesian and European traditions (‘Atenisi is Tongan for Athens) You might find my mate Paul Janman’s film about ‘Atenisi interesting

  39. scooter74

     /  February 9, 2016

    A couple of corrections to factual errors and oversights in my comments here.

    I claimed that Hobson and other British representatives promised Maori that their customs and law would not be affected by the Treaty during a meeting in the Hokianga in 1840. I meant to refer to the meeting in Kaitaia on the 28th of April, where a number of chiefs signed the Treaty. Justice Johnson gives an eyewitness account of this meeting in his journal, which was published as the book Notes on Maori Matters in 1860. Claudia Orange cites Johnson’s account in her book The Treaty of Waitangi (pg 89).

    I think Goldie is correct in saying that some of the relatively small iwi around the Auckland isthmus signed the Treaty partly because they thought it would afford some protection against their larger neighbours in the north and the south. Certainly, Ngati Whatua chiefs communicated their anxiety about the possibility of encroachments on their territory by larger tribes during 1840. And we know that Ngati Whatua wanted the colonists to move their capital to Auckland partly because they thought Pakeha would act as a buffer against Nga Puhi and other possible enemies.

    I should also have acknowledged the disruption that the New Zealand Company was bringing to these islands by 1840. The Company was setting up a colony in Port Nicholson/Wellington, and its hunger for land was a concern for some iwi.

    But I still think the notion that large, powerful and well-armed iwi like Nga Puhi, Waikato, and Ngati Porou signed the Treaty because they perceived some existential threat, either from renewed inter-iwi warfare, or the French, or mass settlement, lacks credibility.

    I said that most of the chiefs who signed the Treaty in 1840 probably could not have imagined mass settlement by Pakeha or a large modern army such as the British empire possessed. I think this was wrong, because reports of discussions at treaty hui show some chiefs referring to the situation of the Australian Aboriginals, who were being overwhelmed by settlers in parts of New South Wales. Shortly after the signing of the Treaty a number of Maori also expressed fears that the British army might invade their territory; the British founded the newspaper Te Karere/The Maori Messenger partly to publish denials of any such plans.


  40. scooter74

     /  February 9, 2016

    To sum up: I’ve argued that most of the Maori chiefs who signed the Treaty did not intend to give away their sovereignty, that from the 1840s into the 1860s both British administrators and Pakeha settlers did not view the Treaty as incompatible with legal autonomy for Maori, and that, in the 1840s and ’50s, ‘one law for all’ did not exist in New Zealand.

    My claim that Maori did not intend to give away their sovereignty when they signed the Treaty has been made in many other places by many other people, and was even recently endorsed by the Waitangi Tribunal. Whether people accept the argument or not, they can look elsewhere for arguments in its favour.

    What is more controversial, I think, is the notion that both the British and most settlers believed that the Treaty did not preclude Maori making and enforcing their own laws on their own lands. I don’t deny that, unlike many Maori, virtually all British administrators and settlers believed that the Treaty of Waitangi gave the British Crown sovereignty over New Zealand. What I’m saying is that, for both groups, there seemed room, and indeed sometimes ample room, for Maori to exercise legal autonomy within British sovereignty.

    I think there are five types of evidence that the British saw room for Maori legal autonomy.

    The first type of evidence is the conversations that British administrators had amongst themselves. The exchanges in 1843 between local administrator William Swainson and two men attached to the Colonial Office in London, James Stephen and Lord Stanley, are instructive. Swainson had written to London to explain that many Maori were living outside the influence of British law, and to suggest that special ‘Native Districts’ could be set up so that these Maori could formally make and enforce their own laws.

    Stephen and Stanley responded by stressing the sovereignty of Britain over New Zealand, and by pointing out that legislation establishing Native Districts had not been created. But both Stephen and Stanley separately said that there was no incompatibility between British sovereignty and Maori legal autonomy. Stanley pointed out that in many other parts of he British empire local peoples had continued making laws of their own. Stephen said that subjection to British sovereignty and subjection to English law were not ‘convertible terms’. I think this reaction is significant, because it suggests that, for administrators at the heart of the British empire, the third article of the Treaty of Waitangi did not extinguish the possibility of Maori legal autonomy.

    The second type of evidence is the failure of British administrators to intervene in Maori disputes and dispute settlement in the first decade or so after the Treaty was signed. When Maori confronted each other, even to the point of violence, the British tended either to stand on the sidelines or to offer mediation. Decisive intervention tended to occur only when Maori disputed with Pakeha.

    Of course, the resources of British administrators were small in the 1840s and ’50s, and they had little ability to intervene in many disputes, But the miserly amounts that Britain spent on its colony only showed that, in New Zealand as elsewhere, the British preferred to let its indigenous subjects sort out their own internal disputes. The method that Margery Perham would later call indirect rule was already present in many parts of the empire.

    The third type of evidence is the legislation that Britain created to adapt the colony’s legal system to Maori. The Native Exemption Ordinance created by Governor Fitzroy in 1844 is an example of this sort of law. It was created because Maori abhorred imprisonment as a punishment, and allowed for Maori convicted of crimes to pay fines instead of going behind bars. Chiefs acted as guarantors of the fines.

    The fourth category of evidence is the laws that the British and colonists created to give Maori the right to make and enforce laws in their tribal territories. The Constitution Act of 1852 provides for such laws, and the Native Districts Regulation Act and the Native Districts Circuit Courts Act of 1858 led to the creation of runanga that, in concert with Pakeha magistrates, made and enforced laws for a few years.

    The fifth type of evidence is the communications that the British empire’s representatives had with both local British officials and settler leaders during the war-stricken decade of the 1860s. When Governor Gore Brown sided with settler opinion and talked about invading the territories of the Maori King in 1861, the Colonial Office urged him to consider alternatives to war, like the granting of legal autonomy to the King under the lines envisaged in the 1852 Constitution Act.

    It is more difficult to argue about what the settlers thought of the Treaty, because their views could fluctuate, and because before 1854 they were without elected representatives. But the intense hostility toward the Treaty that was often expressed in the settler press and the denunciations of the document by the politicians who went to war against the King Movement and its Taranaki allies in the 1860s indicate that many settlers saw the Treaty as unacceptably pro-Maori and an obstacle to the imposition of one law over the colony.

    • @ scooter74 – this has been an incredibly interesting thread. Your academic input and (almost unbelievable) politeness is greatly appreciated.

      I sincerely hope I do not lower the tone of the discussion. I am not immune to academic thought and have read and understood the above ‘debate’. However, I also have intuitive, emotional and imaginative responses equally valuable to me.

      I get this image of Te Tiriti o Waitangi today as an old car stuck in the mud. I relate this to an image of a car stuck in a deep muddy track around Broadwood on the Jan 1917 Parliamentary Tour of Northland. There is a group at the back of the car trying valiantly to push it forward.

      There is another group trying to push it in reverse or at least they look to be doing so at first glance. But they are actually trying to tip it off the road completely.

      Perhaps they are “railway” proponents? Perhaps they think the road should take a different route and want to sabotage the tour? Perhaps they want to build their own cars? Perhaps they are retrograde “horse and carters”? I don’t know.

      I have a sense though that they will do almost anything to prevent the car going forward.

  41. Pantsdownbrown

     /  February 9, 2016

    Thanks for the detailed summation. What I don’t think you cover very well in terms of the ‘sovereignty issue’ is such things as;

    *The Chiefs that spoke out against the signing of the treaty of Waitangi – their speeches make it clear that they opposed the treaty because they saw the treaty taking away Maori sovereignty. Why would they think that if Sovereignty wasn’t on the table?
    *The 1860 Conference of Maori Chiefs at Kohimarama in which it is clearly seen that the chiefs agreed (only 2% disagreed) that they had given up their Sovereignty at Waitangi. Over twice as many chiefs signed to this fact as that which signed the treaty at Waitangi. The transcripts from this conference were widely reported upon throughout the country (as shown on ‘papers past’) so why didn’t Maori voice any concerns at the time if this was not true?

    I also think you downplay the inter-iwi tensions, threat (real or imagined) of foreign powers like France, and trigger-happy ex-crims/ settlers in 1840 as a reason the Maori signed the treaty. The Chiefs statements at the 1860 conference are generally about how the treaty brought peace to their tribes and how the Pakeha governor had protected them. They talk of coming as one people under the laws of the Queen and also Christianity.

  42. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 9, 2016

    I take a different tack to refuting Dr Hamilton’s claims and more emphatically the extension of them currently claimed by the separatist lobbies.

    1. First, it is abundantly crystal clear that the British and settlers were in no doubt that British sovereignty was supreme and any self-government real or potential by Maori was subject to British control, administration and definition.

    2. It is also clear that any form of government proposed was to be defined by territory, not by race. Thus pakeha in a Maori-governed territory were required to observe the law of that territory and failing to do so could result in sanctions under British law. Likewise Maori in non-Maori territory were required to obey British law.

    3. The fact that initially much of the country was too sparsely populated by British settlers and administrators to implement British law other than for gross violations against any settlers was merely a pragmatic and interim condition that was never intended to be a precedent.

    4. The belief that Maori could remain free to practice traditional warfare, utu, slavery and cannibalism in their own areas is untenable when exactly protection from those kinds of oppression was a principle factor in support for the Treaty. Therefore no equal partnership or independent tino rangatiratanga as currently advocated for was ever envisaged by those signing the Treaty.

    5. The claim that Section 71 of the 1852 Constitution envisaged such government is absurd given the limits it explicitly set on any potential Maori district local government.

    6. The claim that the 1846 Constitution was never law is false. It was implemented and one of the legislatures defined by it actually met. Section 71 of the 1852 Act draws on the language from Chapter 14 of the 1846 Act and Governor Grey was appointed under the 1846 Act. Obviously he did not want his power challenged by the settlers’ Legislatures created by both Acts and dragged the chain as much as possible with implementation.

    In short it is always clear that there was to be one law for all in any particular territory, that British sovereignty was always to be paramount and exercise of it was limited only by resource and practicality. That communication of this clarity to all Maori especially to those remote from the Bay of Islands and other settlements was delayed is merely a practical rather than a legal factor. Those signing the Treaty at Waitangi were under no delusions as to what they were doing and why, though no doubt many did not forsee the consequences of settler immigration that would follow.

    • @ scooter74 – You will NEVER EVER get the last word on here. (Nor will I)

      I wholeheartedly agree with this from your topic heading article –

      “Like the American constitution, the Treaty is a document that inevitably means different things to different people at different times. It is up to us to decide what the Treaty means today”

      I assert there comes a time when debating the tiniest details of a subject simply holds up progress on it. There’s a place for inciting people to do the right thing. God that’s a dreadfully socialist thing to say, isn’t it? Remember, I didn’t say “forcing”, I said “inciting”.

      We just have to have a decades long debate about what is “right”, right?

      While we’re doing this we’ll be really surprized and shocked when people who feel, with considerable justification, they’ve been wronged for a very long time become more and more noisy and extreme.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 9, 2016

        The dildo thrower nutter isn’t old enough to have been wronged for a very long time.

        It is entirely in Ngapuhi’s court that their wrongs have yet to be addressed – although to give them credit the entire process is a farce based on the myth that tribes and their chiefs exist and have relevance in this century.

        Ngapuhi is a live demonstration of this myth.

  43. scooter74

     /  February 9, 2016

    ‘Those signing the Treaty at Waitangi were under no delusions as to what they were doing’

    We’re going over ground much travelled in other discussions – I suppose the more novel parts of my arguments concern the British and the settlers – but I don’t see how it’s credible to claim that Maori knew they were giving up sovereignty when they signed the Treaty when we have eyewitness testimony, in the form of the accounts of people like Justice Johnson, saying that Hobson and other administrators promised that they wouldn’t be losing sovereignty, and when the Maori version of the Treaty, which is what virtually all the chiefs were relying on, promised they would keep tino rangatiratanga.

    I’ve been rereading Claudia Orange, Michael King and Sir Keith Sinclair’s accounts of the way the Treaty was signed and then hawked around the country, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the whole process was a shambles. During his speeches Hobson either fudged ambiguities and contradictions inherent in the two texts of the Treaty in his speeches or simply promised Maori that they’d keep their sovereignty, and many chiefs didn’t read or hear the document read aloud. Some didn’t even heard an explanation of its contents. Many signed simply because their mates signed or because a missionary they trusted asked them to sign. The whole process was such a mess that different agents of Hobson were declaring New Zealand a colony on different days, without even having returned all of the signatures they’d gained to their boss.

    It makes for entertaining reading, but I don’t think it was the best way to found a nation.

    ‘You will NEVER EVER get the last word on here.’

    That’s fine by me. I think one of the problems in this sort of discussion is the desire for closure – for the tying up of the messiness of history into one neat solution. That’ll never happen. The utopian ‘solutions’ of extremists on both sides – John Ansell and his mates who want to crush Maori, the odd Maori who wants to send Pakeha back to Britain en masse – are really an avoidance of reality. Maori are an every-larger share of the population and are not going to stop being Maori – if the NZ Wars and the Tohunga Suppression Act didn’t stop them then nothing will – and Pakeha have nowhere else to go. We’ll have to continue to korero.

    • Now I can’t let you have the last word. My fault. Sorry. My “last word” comment was not meant to imply an end to the discussion or a desire for “closure”.

      I was actually thinking, quite unreasonably – as I do sometimes – more that it would somehow be “polite” to allow you the last word on this particular topic thread, which you initiated.

      The ongoing korero is tremendously important for this nation, of course.
      If it leads to a viable written Constitution, which appears to me what many in Maoridom are now asking for, it is of primary importance to this nation.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 9, 2016

      “if the NZ Wars and the Tohunga Suppression Act didn’t stop them then nothing will”

      Come off it, they are trivia in impact compared with intermarriage and migration.

      “I don’t see how it’s credible to claim that Maori knew they were giving up sovereignty when they signed the Treaty”

      And yet six years later there is a written constitution in which that is absolutely explicit and there was no renunciation of signatures by any of the chiefs and no protest by Governor Grey or the missionaries that it did not comply with what the Treaty had promised?

  44. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 9, 2016

    I can accept that Maori in places remote from major settlement may have been poorly informed about the implications of signing the Treaty, but not for those actually in Waitangi or in the Bay. There were plenty of pakeha opposed to it, including missionaries, Bishop Pompallier, pakeha Maori like Frederick Manning and the American consul and traders who would have certainly been as vocal as the current TPPA protestors at pointing out real and imaginary dangers.

    Some of this is illustrated here:

    These were not stupid or naive people. You didn’t survive then if you were.

  45. scooter74

     /  February 10, 2016

    Hi Alan,

    you argue that the 1846 constitution did not provoke any protests from Maori, or from Governor Grey. But there were protests, which Claudia Orange describes on pages 127-129 of her book The Treaty of Waitangi. Maori in the north distributed a circular that denounced the Constitution Act as a violation of the Treaty, large protest meetings were held at Te Wherowhero’s cottage at Pukekawa, on the land that is now part of the Auckland Domain, and a petition of protest was sent to London.

    Some Pakeha newspapers in the north, like the New Zealander, supported Maori protests against the 1846 Constitution, because they saw the document as a betrayal of the Treaty.

    It is interesting to see how the constitution’s supporters defended the document. Like Maori, they seemed to have seen it as an attack on the Treaty, because it diminished the autonomy the Treaty had seemed to promise Maori. But they saw this as a good rather than a bad thing. Orange quotes The Times of London o as saying that the Constitution Act would free NZ of ‘Treaty humbug’.

    Grey was very unhappy with the 1846 Constitution Act, though his unhappiness was surely linked not only to worries about how it would be received by Maori but to the belief that the settlers’ government imagined by the Act would still some of his power. Here is a quote from William and Lily Rees’ early and rather hagiographical biography of Grey:

    ‘The receipt of this despatch and of the Act of Parliament and Orders-in-Council accompanying it brought the difficulties under which Captain Grey laboured to a head. He had always previously informed the natives that the Treaty of Waitangi would be respected by the Crown and by the English people. He was now called upon to enforce an Act of the Imperial Parliament which destroyed the rights of the natives in their their lands, and practically abrogated the Treaty itself.

    He was the representative of the English Government and of the English Parliament which had brought this law into existence and commanded him to see to its administration. He was bound to obey the lawful commands of the Queen. He now found himself for the first time placed in this most difficult of all positions: either he must obey the mandate of the Parliament and Crown of Great Britain, and in so doing break the solemn treaty made with the natives, and destroy for ever the reasonable hopes which the Maoris had founded upon the good faith of England and of Englishmen; or he must refuse to carry out the commands of his Sovereign and the law pronounced by the Parliament of his country.’

    All in all, then, the 1846 Constitution Act didn’t fail to create protest.