Issues With The Treaty Of Waitangi

What was wrong with signing this treaty?

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi was meant to be a mutual agreement between the British and Maori people of New Zealand, to sort out rights to lands, protection and authority of the land.

There were three articles to the original treaty, and all contained their own fair-share of issues that made future dealings regarding anything outlined in the treaty very difficult for everyone involved.

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Problems with Article 1

When translating the word 'sovereignty', to mean authority would be with the British crown, the missionaries made up the word 'kawanatanga.' Unfortunately, 'kawanatanga' meant governorship, so the Maori chiefs thought they kept control and authority.

Problems with Article 2

'Taonga' means everything that is precious to the Maori people. Again, a translating error in this article however meant the English though 'taonga' just meant property and possessions. Maori thought they had the right to things such as forests, but that is not what the British had meant.

Maori also thought that if they sold land, the British had first right to it, but if they didn't want it, then they could sell it to anyone. While the English thought the Crown had sole right to buy land (and therefore they could set the price.)

Problems with Article 3

The final article of the treaty outlined what the British thought meant they would now bring all their social systems from England to New Zealand. But the Maori thought it only meant the British would settle conflicts and sort out behaviour of the British settlers.

Further Problems

Not only was it just the articles that were controversial, but the overall treaty was too, not least because it was thrown together last minute in a couple of days before the signing...

These other issues include:

1. There is no single version of the treaty, causing confusion.

2. The Maori version does not match accurately any English versions.

3. 512 Maori Chiefs signed the Maori version, but only 30 signed the English.

4. Missionary Maori was used rather than traditional Maori was used when translating.

5. Some Maori Chiefs did not sign any treaty.

6. Further points have been added since the original treaty, causing controversy, as Maori today say their ancestors did not sign to these terms.

7. And lastly, different Maori and European law systems mean that they have tended to look at the treaty differently, creating further confusion and disagreements.