A Brief Introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi


If you’re going to live in New Zealand then you owe it to yourself and to your host nation to understand New Zealand’s history. If you’re not going to read the entire Penguin History of New Zealand then at the very least you should know about the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Treaty of Waitangi was the document that legally created the nation of New Zealand and gave England authority over the the island and its inhabitants. Unfortunately, the wording of the treaty and the circumstances surrounding it were nothing short of a clusterfuck. I’ve never heard any Kiwi of any color dispute that accusation. What’s hotly disputed is what significance that treaty has today. I’ve got my opinions, but I’m not touching that subject with a ten foot pole because anything I say will enrage somebody. At any rate, I’m a first generation immigrant. So who cares what I think?

I will hazard a prediction based on historical precedent though. I predict that the Treaty of Waitangi will be debated for generations until New Zealand becomes so ethnically diffused and the government becomes so tied into the global economy that the treaty loses all relevance and is basically forgotten by school children before a final, official decision is made one way or the other. In other words, the issue is going to be ignored until its no longer an issue. At least, that’s the solution that mainstream New Zealand society seems to be using so far. Granted, there are some extremely vocal and active organizations doing a lot of Waitangi-related work. All I’m saying is, The All Blacks are more talked about in modern New Zealand culture.

But you still need to know about the Treaty of Waitangi, because the issue isn’t dead yet. Plus, the issue is extremely interesting because of the legal precedent it would set if it were outright accepted/rejected. If the British Commonwealth ruled that treaties (regardless of age) can (or can’t) assign ownership of land and resources to specific ethnic groups then how would that precedent be applied to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Or how would it affect ownership of the land and resources in Texas, which has flown 6 national flags? At any rate, who has the right to say one human being or organization has sovereignty over another? Does one person have the right to give one human being or organization sovereignty over another human being’s decedents? Should immigrants be considered second-class citizens to the decedents of locals in every country, and should the decedents of immigrants be entitled to land/resources in their ancestors’ homelands? If so, how many generations do you go back to determine one’s ancestral entitlements? It’s something to think about…or ignore.

I haven’t paid for the website upgrade to embed video into this blog, but you can watch a well-made re-enactment/documentary about the Treaty of Waitangi by clicking the link below:

Waitangi- What Really Happened

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