Why Te Tiriti is important to me – in seven sentences

Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, (also referred to as the Treaty of Waitangi), is a hot topic currently.  Te Tiriti is very important to me as a Pākehā New Zealander, and here, in seven sentences, is why.

  1.  Te Tiriti is the agreement signed in 1840 which sets out a peaceful relationship of mutual benefit, and which allows non-Māori to settle here in Aotearoa under the governorship of the Crown – see the Preamble and the First Article of Te Tiriti.
  2.  Te Tiriti is a generous agreement, which, alongside giving permission to settle in a land which did not belong to us and then to govern ourselves,  affirmed tino rangatiratanga (self-determination, including continued Māori control of lands and other things of importance to Māori – Article 2) and offered Māori the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England – i.e. equity (Article 3).
  3. For clarity, Te Tiriti affirmed Māori sovereignty – as evidenced by i) international doctrines of contractual interpretation where the Te Reo version of Te Tiriti takes precedence, ii) through the 2014 Wai 1040 findings of the Waitangi tribunal, and iii) by the logical absurdity of sovereignty being ceded by a Māori population of approximately 80,000 to a non-Māori population of approximately 2,000.
  4. But – we non-Māori have not abided by our side of the deal – 95% of Māori land is now in non-Māori ownership, a Western system of government has been imposed on Māori (despite Te Tiriti’s reaffirmation of tino rangatiratanga), language and spiritual practices have been suppressed – and – well this sentence could continue for a very long time but let’s stop it here.
  5. Therefore, we non-Māori should put this right, so that we can live in Aotearoa authentically and honourably, and so we can realise the promise of peaceful and mutually beneficial relationships, according to what was agreed.
  6. Some ways in which we contribute include learning our history, attending  a workshop on Te Tiriti, building our understanding of the Māori world, addressing racism and inequity, supporting tino rangatiratanga (so Māori can restore culture and language and implement Māori solutions to Māori opportunities and challenges), supporting equitable funding and resourcing to Māori, and ensuring that we non-Māori can work well and equitably with Māori on opportunities and challenges that affect us all.
  7. This work then enables us to build together an Aotearoa where everyone truly belongs, and where, in the words of Dame Whina Cooper “…all our people can live together in harmony… and share the wisdom from each culture”.


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    1. Kaa mihi nui te aroha ki a koe to koorero tuuturu o te Tiriti o Waitangi
      Toituu Te Whakaputanga 1835 me Toituu te Tiriti o Waitangi.
      Toituu te Whenua
      Toituu te Mokopuna
      Toituu te Kotahitanga
      Tino Ramgatiratanga
      Mana Motuhawke

  1. Beautifully written and absolutely hits the nail on the head for, a pākeha, who is increasingly dismayed with the current rhetoric and dog whistling.
    Thank you for articulating this so well!

    1. Agreed!🎯💯
      I’m a halfcast Maori/Welsh woman, raised by my Maori grandparents in Rotorua. We were raised as Jehovahs Witnesses and we lived, worked, learned, played and prayed alongside all of our neighbours and friends. I do NOT, support the ideology of ” Co-governance” rather, “Co-Existence.”
      Too live side by side, respectfully and peacefully. Supporting and uplifting each other, under GOD’S LAW. “POWER to the PEOPLE.”🎯💯 HalleiluYAH!🙏😍👊💪✊️👍☝️

  2. Kia ora rawa atu mo enei whakaaro.

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

    As a pakeha, I could not write those seven sentences better.

    The only thing that occurs to me at this stage is that I know many pakeha men who think and feel similarly, however, it seems interesting to me that, generally, women seem more prepared to comment publicly, at least in this forum, but elsewhere, too.

    I hope more pakeha and other tauiwi tane get out and about and speak up and out this long weekend, whether it’s just wearing a Tangata Tiriti T-shirt, joining a march eg. in downtown Poneke/Wgtn., or going to the nearest marae, perhaps for the first time, to join in local celebrations by enjoying the kapa haka and chomping through some paraoa parae with Chelsea syrup!

    Actually, here’s another thought or two:
    Listening to Pat and Chewie on the YouTube channel BHN (Big Hairy News) tonight (Thursday 1 Feb. 2024) it was interesting to hear someone’s comment that we ought to feel enccouraged that these days the mediasphere is better than the ’80s — much MSM is more open to seeking that balance of both sides, and giving local iwi a voice — and then again of course there is also Maori media too.
    OTOH, there is also much more dark money in NZ politics these days. Where does it all come from? Well, we know much in certain particular parties obviously comes from the cigarette companies, then there are the major polluters of the animal ag industry and Air New Zealand, and of course international oil and gas car companies will be making nice healthy donations to the parties more open to being friendly to businesses, so there are those for starters.
    Why is that important? Because we know that especially for the last couple, they have a proven track record of using pretty much any trick in the playbook to get what they want, and of course that’ll stoop to seeking societal cracks and exploiting the possibility for divisiveness for the sake of distraction from the bigger issue:
    that we ought to have taxed them out of existence decades ago, and failing that, simply nationalised their assets and closed down those companies and industries.
    If we’re busy bickering among ourselves — including over whether we can trust the science — then we’re never going to get on with the larger issue of dealing directly with our industrial climate crisis… which involves at best, shutting them down, or, at least, again regulating them to the hilt.

    Heoi ano, nga mihi mahana ki te katoa:
    he ra whakahirahira i Te Tiriti o Waitangi harikoa ki a tatou katoa!

    1. Beautifully expressed. We were making some real progress towards justice for our indigenous people and this little prick Seymour is doing everything in his power to cancel it all. It is embarrassing to be a member of the same species as Seymour and his colleagues.

  3. Can the phrase ‘Confiscated land…’ be further interpreted as stolen lands, why is it so difficult to be bluntly honest?

  4. Te Tiriti did not offer us “Maori the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England”. It was in fact the same rights and duties of British citizenship.

  5. Sorry Kate – you have a wrong understanding of the history leading up to the TOW. You should read the full text of an essay written in 1922 by Sir Apirana Ngata, a maori layer and long-term parliamentarian who considers the 512 Maori Chiefs DID cede sovereignty to Queen Victoria in exchange for her protection – necessitated by the lawless conditions prevailing in New Zealand over the four decades preceding 1840.
    Ngata’s essay also deals comprehensibly with all the other issues raised in 1840 and argued about ever since.

    1. Thanks for your response Brian. Sir Apirana Ngata was an extraordinary man, however this interpretation is over 100 years old and understandings have moved on since then. The Waitangi Tribunal is the expert body set up for this purpose, their reports are very useful to read.

    2. Dear Bro Brian – you need to update your reference material.
      In 1940 Sir Apirana Ngata spoke at the treaty-signing centennial ceremony on the Waitangi marae. He outlined many Māori grievances, called for greater Pākehā understanding, and asked, ‘… what does the Māori see? Lands gone, the power of chiefs humbled in the dust, Māori culture scattered and broken.’
      Circulating only what Ngata wrote in 1922 severely dents the credibility of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research. We must not backtrack on the progress made in addressing the concerns he raised 84 years go.

    3. Sorry Brian — Ngata was trained as a lawyer in the British system, and what he wrote would reflect legal understandings of that era. Now that Muriel Newman’s lot are promoting his essay, I’d love to see commentary from someone who can place it in that context. As another poster has pointed out, his comments at the centennial reflect very different views. He had also changed his mind about using only English language instruction in Maori schools. You rightly identify that ‘cede’ word as the heart of contention. There was no Maori construct for that, and as Kate points out it’s inconceivable Maori majority would have given that up to a minority population. We’ve grown up with the myth that Maori saw the inherent superiority of the Brits, and gratefully gave way.

    4. Ngata was an incredible person, but he is not without nuance, nor does his opinion constitute any particular authority.
      If you are inclined to listen to Māori of his standing, then to be morally consistent, listen to those of the present day who are his equal.
      Ta Apirana was a man of his time, one who fought for the material survival of his people, said what needed to be said, did what needed to be done.
      To conclude that his opinion should sit above all others is baseless

  6. I think the biggest problem is we all know that the maori have been dealt a bad hand but how do we fix the problem of land ownership when today if one was to come in and claim our properties. our so called justice system which has its own problems would make a call which to the maoris is the opposite to which they must obey or run foul of the british legal system? who are we to arrive in a country run by the people whose land it is with 80,000 owners and expect them to just give their land to us imagine if the chinese arrived in nz and just took ownership of NZ imagine the screaming of its not fair?

  7. Thank you, Kate, for your post. As a pakeha New Zealander I feel exactly the same way. What the ACT Party and indeed the present NZ government as a whole is doing is a national embarrassment.

  8. Thank you Kate – Your words have provided me with a sane and realistic reflection of the current reality. I appreciate your clarity and your understanding.

  9. Many thanks for the clarity that these 7 statements reflect.. They are very helpful. We pakeha need to make it clear that this is also our struggle against the dangerous, reactionary right.

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