Activity: Exploring Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Consider what rangatira agreed to in 1840.

  • Many people have been taught that Māori agreed to cede sovereignty (give their power) to the British Crown when they signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840. But that is not true. The rangatira who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi did so on the basis that they and the Governor would be equals but have different spheres of influence. Rangatira were still to have authority over their people, whenua and water and the Governor was to hold authority over the British people in Aotearoa at that time.

  • Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Māori text, is the focus in justice movements because this is what the vast majority of rangatira signed. Both the Treaty of Waitangi (English text) and the later development of the Treaty principles do not capture what rangatira agreed to.

  • The three articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi promised:

Article 1:

Governor gains authority over the British people who are in Aotearoa.

Article 2:
Tino rangatiratanga

Rangatira are guaranteed continued authority over everything they have and charish, including people, land, and water.

Article 3:
Rite tahi

The Crown agrees to protect and treat Māori the same as British subjects.
  • Keep these promises in mind as you explore what happened next. Once you have explored what happened after the signing, you might like to return to these articles and write a list of the ways in which Te Tiriti was dishonoured.