waitangi.com

'The Trail Of Waitangi'

Events Leading to the Treaty - (full text)

green line

i. An Illegal Company is Formed to Trade in Land.

It was in 1837, about 20 years after the first few Europeans began settling in New Zealand, that an association called the 'New Zealand Association' was formed in England with the object of purchasing land from the Mäori, with the aim of selling it on at a profit to intending colonists.

The general population of New Zealand in these times was in a very unstable condition, and this had been worsened by the increase of European convicts, and by the persistant desires of some Europeans to obtain very large portions of land. Some of the Mäori also were not helping the situation, and for the sake of just having a quantity of money to spend, were selling land that they often had no title to, or even selling the same piece of land more than once to any unsuspecting or inexperienced buyers.

The same people that began the New Zealand Association had already known that the country was `ripe for the plucking', and had, eleven years previously, sent two ships out with settlers aboard. They had attempted to land in the Thames area, but were put off by hostile warnings from onshore, and failing to land they then sailed on, calling in at the Bay of Islands on 26th October 1826. They afterwards proceeded on to Hokianga on the West Coast, and there a begining was made to establish a settlement, but failure soon followed.

Various Mäori chiefs and Europeans had been aware of the intent of these people for some time, and it was of such great concern to them that they had already suggested some form of protection from the British Government against the likes of the new Association. The sequence of events that took place is clearly described in some of the early missionary writings, and one of these missionaries, Henry Williams writes the following to London in January 1838:

"...I do not hesitate to say, that unless some protection be given by the British Government, the country will be bought up, and the people pass into a kind of slavery, or be utterly extirpated [eliminated]. The European settlers are making rapid advances, and are beginning to hold out threats. Should any encouragement be given to the [New Zealand] Association, thousands would immediately come and overrun the whole country; and the natives must give way. The only protection that I can propose, is that the English Government should take charge of the country as the Guardians of New Zealand; and that the Chiefs should be incorporated into a General Assembly, under the guidance of certain officers, with an English Governor at their head, and protected by a military force [not to use against the Maori', but moreso against the corrupting influences of many Europeans!], which would be the only means of giving weight to any laws which might be established, and preserve that order and peace so much required. The natives have for many years proposed that this should be done, and have repeated their desire from time to time."

These words had also been expressed by the rest of the Mission, who, in a letter to their Society in London in July 1837, had written:

"...it is with much apprehension the Mission view the introduction of the New Zealand Association, as it must terminate in the total ruin of the people as a nation, ...As yet there is no shadow of Government in this country; each tribe, and each individual of a tribe, acts independently of every one; hence those acts of violence which are committed with impunity, and the sale of land which the natives too frequently make for the sake of a little present gain without considering any future consequences.
We therefore regard, with considerable fear, the announcement of this Association, ...as they will be enabled to purchase up the whole island without fear of opposition, and consequently claim a right of sovereignty to prescribe their laws to all within their dominions. ...The natives have, in some instances, proposed to give their land in trust to the missionaries, to preserve it from being sold by any single chief, or purchased for a nominal value by any designing [scheming] European, or company of Europeans."

The missionaries in the North were finding "great difficulties in restraining the natives from disposing of their lands", and in their attempts to prevent the Mäori from being "denuded of their possessions," several large tracts of land had been already placed in trust by the missionaries for some of the tribes in the Bay of Islands.

These actions, combined with their resistance against the New Zealand Association, were starting to bring upon the missionaries (in particular Henry Williams), many accusations from certain people in the Association. Some of the earliest of these false accusations were that the missionaries themselves were making a deliberate endeavour to hinder the colonization of the country, or that they were in the business of 'land grabbing' themselves.

At one stage there was an even greater fear in New Zealand that the British Government would actually allow the New Zealand Association to proceed, and a Mr Davis writes from Waimate in May 1838:

"What the British Government will do in the present case appears uncertain. But to deliver up a country which is not their own, into the hands of a company of men whose primary object is gain, is a crime that I trust my countrymen will never be guilty of. That something ought to be done there can be no doubt; or we shall soon get about us a lawless band, who will possess a sufficient force to take possession of the country whenever they think proper ...if the country is to be colonized, let it be done by the British Government."

This statement and others, including the very real suggestion that the New Zealand Association would "eliminate the aborigines", stirred up the Associations leaders even more, causing them to further personally attack the character of the missionaries. However, it was soon learnt that the Associations application had been rejected in the House of Commons by a large majority.

This put an end to the Association, but it then revived under a new name, the "New Zealand Company" which was formed in May, 1839 with the same objective. Bolder than the Association, and with memories of their previous failure, the Company determined to commence operations, not only without an Act of Parliament, but in total defiance of the British Government.

The Company then began despatching several vessels to New Zealand with colonists on board, and formed a settlement in Cook's Straits to which they gave the name of 'Wellington'. In this, the Company were wrong-doers, their entire proceedings being unconstitutional, and illegal. .....

ii. Accusations and Opposition by the New Zealand Company and other Europeans

With the New Zealand Company now attempting to establish an independant dominion of their own, the British Government had some urgent decisions to make. Up until this stage their intentions had been very fair towards the Maori race, and they had been unwilling to take New Zealand under their control forcibly. There was however a greater risk growing of a collision between Mäori and the ever increasing number of British subjects, and combined with the unruly advance of the New Zealand Company, the British Government were now placed under sudden obligation to claim sovereignty to the Crown and assert the authority of the British Queen.

Realising that the only way to obtain this was with the 'free and intelligent consent of the native tribes', Captain Hobson was sent to New Zealand as Governor with the object of obtaining recognition from the Mäori of Her Majesty's sovereign authority over the whole or any parts of the country which they might be "willing to place under Her Majesty's dominion."

It was at this time, before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, that a multitude of accusations were again blatantly made against anyone wishing to introduce an ordered form of Government. The New Zealand Company of course was desperate to protect their enterprise, and they began to attack verbally and in writing the efforts of the British Crown. The first three Governors, because they were representatives of the Crown, were to be attacked continuously, and of the missionaries Henry Williams bore the brunt of the accusations. Sadly, although all these accusations were in time proved to be false, many of the misunderstandings created, still linger today.

A large percentage of the Europeans, particularly in the north of the country were a 'lawless band' thriving on trading in guns and liquor, and living by other vices. These also, not willing to be subjected to any law or order, spent much time in placing discontent into the heart of the Mäori. Hugh Carleton writes, "Suspicions, implanted or fostered by Europeans to whom the prospect of order was distasteful, were seething in the native mind."

The origins in New Zealand of many of todays issues of discontent against the missionaries were seeded at this time, and are still often evident today 160 years later. These included accusations that the Treaty was a 'device to amuse savages', and that the missionaries 'stole the land' etc., all which were in effect only aimed to attract the peoples minds towards those issues, while the accusers, for their 'love of money' and 'greed for land' continued in their ways for their own gain. Although many Mäori and Pakeha were standing together against these accusations, racial disharmony, although an unnecessary issue, was gradually being fostered.

Henry Williams was not however a man to be messed around with, and his name had been well established by this time as the peace maker over the whole country, his mana having become paramount. In a country where a stranger was regarded as an enemy, he went where he pleased without hindrance, and if he could not see eye to eye with the New Zealand Association then he was most certainly unlikely to budge for the New Zealand Company and their ways. Political action was of course distasteful to him, but upon the arrival of Captain Hobson he was immediately called upon for counsel and assistance, his position becoming more that of an 'advisor to the Crown', rather than that of being in league with them. .....

iii. The Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi

The following is an extract from Henry Williams paper "Early Recollections", starting with Captain Hobson's arrival in New Zealand :

"..I was at the Waimate, ...and on the night of 30th January (1840), I was called up by a messenger from the Bay to say that Captain Hobson had arrived in the Bay as Governor of New Zealand, and that he wished to see me as early as possible.

In the afternoon, I went on board H.M.S. "Herald," and was met by Captain Hobson, to whom I expressed my gratification that he had arrived to put an end to the great excitement then existing in the purchase of lands, caused by the sudden influx of Europeans arriving by every vessel from the Colonies.

At this date we had not received any intimation that the [British] Government were contemplating any movement towards New Zealand, though much correspondence had transpired in consequence of the proceedings of the New Zealand Company. Captain Hobson had not been twelve hours at anchor before the Europeans commenced using most infamous and exciting language to the natives: - that the country was now gone to the Queen, and that Maori were taurekareka [slaves].

On the 4th of February, about 4 o'clock p.m., Captain Hobson came to me with the Treaty of Waitangi in English, for me to translate into Mäori, saying that he would meet me in the morning at the house of the British resident, Mr Busby; when it must be read to the chiefs assembled at 10 o'clock. In this translation it was necessary to avoid all expressions of the English for which there was no expressive term in the Mäori, preserving entire the spirit and tenor of the treaty, - which, though severely tested, has never been disturbed, notwithstanding that many in power have endeavoured to do so.

On a careful examination of the translation of the treaty by Mr. Busby, he proposed to substitute the word whakaminenga for huihuinga, which was done and approved of. A fair copy being made by myself, I was requested by Captain Hobson to read and explain the same to the meeting of chiefs in a large marquee prepared for the meeting, at which was a large assemblage of Europeans. In the midst of profound silence I read the treaty to all assembled. I told all to listen with care, explaining clause by clause to the chiefs; giving them caution not to be in a hurry, but telling them that we, the Missionaries, fully approved of the treaty, that it was an act of love towards them on the part of the queen, who desired to secure to them their property, rights and privileges. That this treaty was as a fortress for them against any foreign power which might desire to take possession of their country, as the French had taken possession of Otiaiti.

Hone Heke [nephew to Hongi Hika] was the first chief who signed the treaty, telling the people he fully approved, as they all needed protection from any foreign power, and knew the fostering care of the Queen of England towards them. He urged them to sign the treaty. Certain chiefs under the influence of the Popish Bishop and priests stood aloof, and there was some opposition to the protection of the Queen. Captain Hobson expressed to me his fears, lest they should not sign the treaty. I cautioned him against showing any anxiety, but advised him to recommend it for their consideration, and say that he would meet them in three days to hear their decision. Some interruption was given by certain Europeans.

There was considerable excitement amongst the people, greatly increased by the irritating language of ill disposed Europeans, stating to the chiefs, in most insulting language, that their country was gone, and they now were only taurekareka. Many came to us to speak upon this new state of affairs. We gave them but one version, explaining clause by clause, showing the advantage to them of being taken under the fostering care of the British Government, by which act they would become one people with the English, in the suppression of wars, and every lawless act; under one Sovereign, and one Law, human and divine. The people, on being dismissed, after many had spoken, to consider this grave question, were requested to re-assemble on the third day to declare their views, as the question was for their own benefit, to preserve them as a people.

On the following morning, the 6th, the chiefs asked me why there need be any further delay, as their minds were made up, and they were desirous of concluding at once and returning to their respective places. I communicated this desire to Captain Hobson, who immediately landed and met the chiefs in the hall of audience, the large tent erected for that purpose, and business was resumed at 11 o'clock.

In the course of a few minutes, the French Bishop, attended by one of his Priests, passed forward to the side of Captain Hobson, and requested, .."that the natives might be informed that all who should join the Catholic (Roman) religion should have the protection of the British Government." Captain Hobson, with much blandness of gesture and expression observed, "Most certainly," and expressed his regret that he had not made known his wish earlier, "as your desire should have been embodied in the treaty." Catch the idea! This was to be a stipulation between the Queen of England, and the natives of New Zealand! At this date, Captain Hobson was under the delusion that the Roman Catholics carried the sway amongst the Mäories. Captain Hobson, after his reply to the Romish Bishop, requested that I would explain the desire of M. Pompallier to the chiefs.

I observed to Captain Hobson, that I presumed the same protection would be afforded to all. He said "Certainly." I asked, "What need then such an announcement, if all would have protection alike?" Captain Hobson observed that, as the Bishop wished the communication to be made, he should feel obliged by my delivering the same to the meeting.

I accordingly commenced, but could not proceed, finding that it was somewhat of a tough morsel, requiring care. I therefore took paper, and as this very grave announcement was for the benefit of all, I wrote as follows, taking the various Missions in their order of establishment in the country...

'The Governor wishes you to understand that all the Mäories who shall join the Church of England, who shall join the Wesleyans, who shall join the Pikopo or Church of Rome, and those who retain their Mäori practices, shall have the protection of the British Government.'

This paper I handed to the Governor, who passed it to the Romish Bishop. Having perused it, he said, "Oh yes, that will do." I then read out this document, which was received in silence. No observation was made upon it; Mäories, and others, being at perfect loss to understand what it could mean. M. Pompallier then rose, bowed to the Governor, and retired from the meeting.

After some little discussion and trifling opposition, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and the meeting dispersed.

No chief raised any objection that he did not understand the treaty, though some held back under the influence of the Romish Bishop and his priests.".....

iv. The Treaty of Waitangi is Taken South

Straight after the signing of the Treaty, Captain Hobson commissioned Henry Williams to take a copy to Turanga (Gisborne) and further south. Henry left Gisborne in the hands of his brother, the Rev. William Williams, and we now follow Henry's part from his paper "Early Recollections".

"...I passed on to Port Nicholson, and was opposed by Colonel Wakefield [of the New Zealand Company] and his party, who had appointed themselves a colonial government, consisting of a council and magistrates, placed on the commission by the authority of the chiefs. [The Company's settlers had "accepted a constitution" from chiefs of the Port Nicholson District; under which they proceeded to exercise what was commonly called "Lynch law"].

Colonel Wakefield, the first time I met him, was very insolent, but afterwards retracted what he had said, and withdrew his objections to the treaty being signed. It was accordingly signed by the chiefs, about twenty. I passed on to Queen Charlotte's Sound, and saw all who were to be seen. We crossed over to Kapiti, Waikanae, and Otaki, the stations of the Rev. Octavius Hadfield. The treaty was explained at all those places and signed. On this visit I saw in the Bank at Wellington a map of New Zealand, about six feet in length, and was told by the authorities of the New Zealand Company, that the coloured portion was the property of the New Zealand Company, from the 38° to the 42° parallel of latitude. At this time there was no one in connection with their commission who knew anything of the [Mäori] language. A man named Barret could speak a few words in the most ordinary form. This man alone was the medium of communication between the Company and the Mäories in all their affairs, and the deeds of purchase were drawn up in English, not one word of which was understood by the natives. Nor had communication been held with the places included in this pretended purchase, except at Port Nicholson, Kapiti, and Taranaki, neither party understanding the other.

On one occasion while I was at Port Nicholson, passing down the harbour with several members of council, Mr. St. Hill, Dr. Evans, &c., and Captain Chaffers, Dr. Evans enquired of Captain Chaffers how far South the Company's territory extended. His reply was, across the Island, and from 38° to 42°. I knew that communication had not been had. I enquired who had been seen at Wanganui, Taupo, Kawhia, Rotorua, Turanga, Ahuriri, &c.; no answer could be given, for this simple reason, that none had been held.

Wiremu Kingi came with me to the Bay to see the governor and the natives from Taranaki. He talked of returning with them to Waitara and Taranaki generally, their former place of residence, or country of their birth."

After obtaining signatures in the South Island, Mr Williams returned to Paihia, which he reached on the I0th of June. The Governor expressing his gratification, in strong terms, at the completeness of the success. ......

v. Auckland Area is Selected by the Crown for Government

The next stage of course was for an area to be selected from which it would be suitable to run a Government. The site chosen was very suitable as there would be little or no contention over the land. Henry Williams gives an account in his paper "Early Recollections":

"Captain Hobson, enquired of me my opinion as to the proper site of the seat of Government, - whether I thought the Bay [of Islands] would be a good place for that purpose. I objected to the Bay, as too confined; as being too generally occupied by Europeans and natives, and also situated at the extreme end of the island; but stated that the land about the Tamaki and Waitemata was not occupied by either natives or Europeans, and possessed advantages beyond all other places; commanding convenient access by the river Thames to the interior of the country; the river Kaipara to the North, through extensive kauri forests; also by Manukau to the river Waikato, which takes its rise in Taupo lake, in the centre of the island; that there was a vast extent of fine country without an inhabitant; that the island of Waiheke and other islands formed safe roadsteads, with their numberless small bays, for vessels of all sizes.

This part of New Zealand, with the rivers and bays, had not been visited by any Europeans, except by the Missionaries, who alone possessed correct and general information.

On the 21st February I sailed with Captain Hobson, in H.M.S. "Herald," to examine the neighbourhood of the Tamaki, to which place I had directed his attention. His Excellency was not long in pointing out the spot, the present site of Auckland, seeing immediately its various advantages.

I was despatched to Maraitai, to communicate with and collect the natives of the Thames, and around. On my return to the ship, after four days, I met Captain Nias in his boat, coming to meet me and the natives with me, who informed me that on Sunday morning Captain Hobson had been disabled by an attack of paralysis, and considered that he was not able to hold his office, and had determined to sail for Sydney.

On my seeing Captain Hobson, I suggested his not determining so immediately to relinquish his office as governor of New Zealand; that I would guarantee quarters on shore, either at Paihia or Waimate, but recommending Waimate as being more quiet. The "Herald" returned to the Bay, and Captain Hobson was conveyed to Waimate to good quarters at Mr. Davis' house, where every attention was paid to him, having the presence of his own Surgeon and Secretary.

After remaining at Waimate some months, Captain Hobson so far recovered as to resume his duties in the Bay, and finally founded the City of Auckland." ....

vi. Corruption Sets In

It is now very apparent that there were two different entities trying to establish themselves as the Government of New Zealand. The newly formed official Government, working on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the New Zealand Company with its own method of operation.

The influences behind the two parties were of quite different sources. Behind the Treaty were the influences of the missionaries and certain chiefs who held a high regard and respect towards the natives and their attachment to the land. These people also knew very well the destructive nature of the New Zealand Company whose sole aim was financial reward and material gain at the expense of anyone that would be in their way.

Prior to signing the Treaty the Mäori had been assured that their proprietorship of land would remain the same excepting for only one reservation, that if they wished to sell their land then it had to be sold to the Crown. Although this clause would have stopped others from purchasing land and selling it on at extreme profit, it also opened the way for the incoming Government to obtain a monopoly themselves on the land trade.

Too much had been taken for granted in assuming that the Government would actually pay a fair price to the natives, and accordingly the price they offered was about three pence per acre in the North Island. This was in steep contrast to the missionaries who had paid on an average between three and sixpence and five shillings per acre. The Government subsequently began to on sell the land to the colonists at a vastly huge profit. At one stage Governor Fitzroy (who succeeded Governor Hobson) waived the right of preemption in the Treaty to give the colonists an opportunity to pay a fair price for the land, however this was apparently considered not within his power, and it was revoked by Governor Grey.

The New Zealand Company were now furious at the Treaty interfering with their land trading operations, and any portion of the Treaty that guaranteed the posession of land to the natives was attacked with 'systematic hostility', but their relentless attempts to overthrow the Treaty were initially a failure.

However, there was at the time a change in the Colonial Office in England when a Lord Grey, (not the same person as Governor Grey in New Zealand) entered into their ranks, and he unfortunately favoured the operations of the New Zealand Company. The situation was now about to take a turn for the worse, for he was a man of much power, his opinions generally being listened to. In 1846 he introduced what was known as the "Charter of 1846" into which there was woven an ingenious method to get around the Treaty.

With heart sickening subtlety the charter stated that it was required that all the native lands should be registered, and that failure to do so would result in land being confiscated! An officer was to be appointed by the Government to register the claims of the native people to their lands, and the Maori were to have no control or right of interference in any way with respect to the officer appointed, nor of his conduct when appointed! What is more, if the appointed officer failed to cause any claim to to be registered, even from oversight or error, then the lands not registered were to be confiscated! And worse still, any claim on any virgin land by the natives was not to be recognised, and therefore also confiscated!!

Words are hard to find to express the enormity of the evils being brought upon New Zealand, and yet the English supporters of the New Zealand Company were overjoyed, applauding the decision that swept away the so called "Treaty of Waitangi nonsense". However in New Zealand the new instructions came as a most horrible blast of ill omen, and everyone in the north of the country knew that any attempt to enforce them would mean certain war.

There began a considerable amount of argument and angry correspondence from all quarters. Governor Grey seemingly tried to protect his position by fobbing off Lord Grey's Charter and said that all parties had totally misunderstood the issue, and then even went as far as denying that there was any unrest or turmoil amongst the Mäori.

Again the missionaries were called upon to settle the situation, and cutting across the intent of the Charter, they assured the people that the instructions would not be carried out, and Governor Grey was unable to bring about the instructions outlined in that Charter.

Although the Charter as such was not implemented, the spirit and innermost intent of those associated with the New Zealand Company, and of a growing number of those in Government, was now fully exposed.

In politics the majority vote rules rather than the Truth, and in New Zealand it was no different. Even the Mäori so called 'friendly natives' were those who were now found supporting the so called 'white' system, a political system that was to cause so much havoc throughout the country.

As the increasing majority of the population under the influence of the New Zealand Company began to reject the path that had been laid out for them, they required an excuse or scapegoat to justify their ways, and accordingly, upon Henry Williams, the brunt of all the accusations were to fall. Mr Williams in his time would have given more to New Zealand than any other man, and it was his stand for the Truth that caused him as a person to be virtually excommunicated by the rising political (and religious) 'system', a rejection that still continues today by those who favour their own eminence.

The political and religious systems have always combined together to reject any Godly establishment of order, and this is again evident in the next section where Henry's own Bishop fails to recognise the driving force behind him, and asks him to justify the Treaty! ....

vii. Henry Williams' Understanding of the Treaty

As a result of the issues raised by the Charter of 1846, Henry Williams is requested by Bishop Selwyn to reply to the following letter, written 30th June 1847:

"My dear Archdeacon [Williams],

A letter from Lord Grey.. ...distinctly denies the right of the New Zealanders to their unoccupied lands, in entire violation, as I conceive of the Treaty of Waitangi.
As you were commissioned by Captain Hobson to interpret and explain the treaty to the natives, both in the North and the South, and were expressly directed by him in his official letter, not to allow any one to sign till he finally understood it, I hereby request you to inform me in writing what you explained to the natives, and how they understood it..."

In reply, Henry Williams writing from Paihia on 12th July 1847 states:

"...As I did explain the nature of the treaty in 1840, I must continue to explain, in self defence; for I must not be accessory to such deception, but continue to stand upon the treaty alone.

...My view of the Treaty of Waitangi is, as it ever was, that it was the Magna Charta of the aborigines of New Zealand. Your Lordship has requested information in writing of what I explained to the natives, and how they understood it. I confined myself solely to the tenor of the treaty:

That the Queen had kind wishes towards the chiefs and people of New Zealand,
And was desirous to protect them in their rights as chiefs, and rights of property,
And that the Queen was desirous that a lasting peace and good understanding should be preserved with them.

That the Queen had thought it desirable to send a Chief as a regulator of affairs with the natives of New Zealand.

That the native chiefs should admit the Government of the Queen throughout the country, from the circumstance that numbers of her subjects are residing in the country, and are coming hither from Europe and New South Wales.

That the Queen is desirous to establish a settled government, to prevent evil occurring to the natives and Europeans who are now residing in New Zealand without law.

That the Queen therefore proposes to the chiefs these following articles:

Firstly,- The chiefs shall surrender to the Queen for ever the Government of the country, for the preservation of order and peace.

Secondly, - The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes, and to each individual native, their full rights as chiefs, their rights of possession of their lands, and all their other property of every kind and degree.The chiefs wishing to sell any portion of their lands, shall give to the Queen the right of pre-emption of their lands.

Thirdly - That the Queen, in consideration of the above, will protect the natives of New Zealand, and will impart to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.

The instruction of Captain Hobson was, "not to allow any one to sign the treaty till he fully understood it;" to which instruction I did most strictly attend. I explained the treaty clause by clause at the signing of the same, and again to all the natives in this part of the island previously to the destruction of Kororareka, on March 11, 1845; I maintained the faith of the treaty and the integrity of the British Government, and that the word of Her Majesty was sacred, and could not be violated.

That the natives to whom I explained the treaty understood the nature of the same, there can be no doubt; ..."

green line

Extracts quoted above are from "The Life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate," by Hugh Carleton, published 1877 by Wilson & Horton, Auckland.



BACK     |     Cloud Aotearoa blog

© G.S. Williams 2000 onwards All rights reserved