03 / Treaty of Waitangi

Considered the founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed at Waitangi, Bay of Islands, on 6 February 1840. It resulted in the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand. The document was signed on behalf of the British Government by Lieutenant-Governor Hobson and by more than 500 Māori chiefs, including a number of women. Nearly all the Māori signatories signed a Māori-language copy – the exception being an English-language version signed by 39 chiefs at Manukau Harbour and Waikato Heads. If the Treaty was intended to be respectful of the rights of the native population about to be colonised, it was open to different translation and interpretation, and soon became the cause of much confusion. In 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal was established to provide a legal process by which unresolved Māori Treaty grievances could be investigated. New Zealand’s national day is aptly called ‘Waitangi Day’.

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