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How the Treaty of Waitangi was Reinvented After 1975

By: Martin Doutré part 3 of five




Lord Normanby’s brief to Hobson was written by James Stephens, Permanent Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office (London) and son of a prominent abolitionist. The brief was essentially written by the anti-slave movement of Britain, initiated by William Wilberforce (1759-1833).


The Mission of William Cornwallis Symonds.

On the 13th of March, Shortland sent a newly made, signed Maori copy, penned by James Stuart Freeman and bearing Shortland’s signature, to Captain William Cornwallis Symonds, formerly an officer in the British Army and son of Sir William Symonds, Surveyor of the British Navy. Captain W.C. Symonds was Deputy-Surveyor of New Zealand and an accomplished linguist in the Maori language, with a vocabulary of 3000 words. His assignment was to collect signatures at Awhiti, Manukau, assisted by Church Missionary Society catechist, Mr. James Hamlin, considered, by many Maori, to have the best accent and ability to enunciate in the Maori tongue of any speaker to be found amongst the European missionaries. Captain Symonds was to conduct treaty meetings with the chiefs, first at the southern shores of the Manukau Harbour, then, with the assistance of Reverend Robert Maunsell, at the Waikato Heads mission. From there Captain Symonds was to undertake a journey further south to the mission station of Wesleyan missionary, Reverend John Whiteley at Kawhia to collect signatures from chiefs ranging down the coast towards Taranaki.

Unfortunately, ardent opponents to the treaty, like Chief Rewa, influenced by the negativity of Bishop Pompallier, had already coloured the thinking of the chiefs at Manukau when Symonds arrived and none signed after the first hurriedly called meeting conducted by James Hamlin and William Symonds. Another meeting was held on the 20th of March where Paramount Chief Te Wherowhero was present, but the only signatures acquired came from three chiefs of the Ngati Whatua tribe. After two futile meetings and only meagre success

(1) William Symonds was obliged to abandon any further attempts at negotiation, for the moment, and make his way, belatedly, to Reverend Robert Maunsell at Waikato Heads. Symonds left Manukau on April 3rd, hauling his boats across the portage, which divides the Manukau from the waters of the Waikato. He then proceeded down the Awaroa River to the Church Mission Station at Waikato Heads, unfortunately arriving there several days too late for Reverend Robert Maunsell’s treaty meeting (see The Treaty of Waitangi, by T.L. Buick, pp 188-189).

Reverend Maunsell had been obliged to take advantage of an already scheduled business meeting (hui) of the natives in his district to address their assembly concerning the treaty, but without his official, government issued, Maori language treaty sheet This meeting was held on April 11th 1840, before a huge Maori assembly (1500 people). Reverend Maunsell was very successful in his endeavours, but within the space of a few days it dawned on the signatories that they had not received blankets, like other chiefs of the north, as tokens of friendship and thanks (koha). Some chiefs were insulted by this oversight and wanted to ‘tear the treaty up’ as a result of the perceived breach in protocol. Reference to this “hui” is mentioned in Te Manihera...The Life and Times of the Pioneer Missionary Robert Maunsell, by Helen Garrett, 1991, pg. 90, wherein it says: ‘Amongst the missionaries, four were appointed to collect signatures. One of the four was Maunsell, who was sent a copy of the Treaty and was responsible for getting signatures of the Waikato chiefs. He took advantage of a business meeting of the natives in his district to produce the Treaty’. *Footnote: It’s important to remember that Maunsell was only ever sent one official treaty document by the government (and that it was a Maori language version), despatched with William C. Symonds on the 13th of March 1840 and originating from Willoughby Shortland, Acting Lieutenant-Governor. It didn’t arrive in time.

Thankfully, before the situation with the slighted chiefs at Waikato Heads got too far out of hand for Reverend Maunsell, Captain W.C. Symonds arrived at the mission. He’d brought Maunsell’s official treaty document too late for it to be of any use. Symonds had a few blankets with him and these were distributed, with a promise that more were arriving. The formerly insulted chiefs were appeased at the gesture and goodwill returned. Maunsell had been awaiting the arrival of Symonds, ‘with no small anxiety’ (see The Treaty of Waitangi by T.L. Buick, pp 188-189).

(2) Maunsell, in lieu of having received the official treaty document, had innovated to take advantage of the hui business meeting on the 11th of April, at which chiefs from far and wide were assembled. For his presentation on the day he had a Church Mission Society Printed Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi, undoubtedly sent down by Colenso from Paihia, via Captain Brown on the 4th of March 1840. He also had a beautifully hand written, but unauthorised or defective, English copy. This English copy was one of the ‘Formal Royal Style’ versions for overseas despatch, penned by James Stuart Freeman, using rejected, obsolete text from Busby’s rough notes of the 3rd of February 1840 and one of two choices of early Preambles. True to his instructions from Hobson, Maunsell would have conducted his entire presentation in the Maori language, using only the Maori text. Nevertheless, the big, impressive looking piece of paper in English had a large clear space at the bottom, which could serve the purpose of accommodating additional signatures when there was no further room left on the Church Mission Society (Maori language) printed copy.

Like at all other centres around New Zealand, it was obligatory that the standard Maori text was required to be presented to the chiefs and 1500 of their tribes-people at Waikato Heads. The first chiefs coming forward signed the C.M.S. Mission printed sheet, but quickly ran out of room. Reverend Maunsell’s signature can be seen on the upper right-hand side of the handwritten section, where it says, ‘signed in my presence, R. Maunsell’. All handwriting on this sheet is that of Reverend Robert Maunsell. Captain Gordon Brown brought this copy to Maunsell in mid or late March. Colenso issued several hundred printed items to Captain Brown on the 4th of March at Paihia, which were destined for Maunsell at Port Waikato*.

*Footnote: According to the Day & Waste book of C.M.S. printer, William Colenso, on the 4th of March 1840 he “issued” a large batch of materials for Reverend Robert Maunsell of the Waikato Heads mission. Colenso’s record states that he printed 500 Prayer [books], 300 Primers, 200 Kupu Ui and 3qu (3 sheets for covers). These were ‘issued’ to Gordon Brown to be taken to Maunsell on Brown’s boat, going by way of Thames. Colenso’s note stated: ‘Issued to R. Maunsell, for Waikato and Manukau’ (see Colenso’s Day and Waste Book, 1840, Auckland Institute and Museum Library).

On the following page is the C.M.S printed Treaty of Waitangi text copy, used by Reverend Robert Maunsell and his assistant Benjamin Yate Ashwell on April 11th 1840: Like at all other centres around New Zealand, this standard Maori text is what was presented to the chiefs and 1500 of their tribes-people at Waikato Heads. The first chiefs coming forward signed this sheet, but quickly ran out of room. Reverend Maunsell’s signature can be seen on the upper right-hand side of the handwritten section, where it says, ‘signed in my presence, R. Maunsell’. All handwriting on this sheet is that of Reverend Robert Maunsell. Captain Gordon Brown brought this copy to Maunsell in mid or late March. Colenso issued several hundred printed items to Captain Brown on the 4th of March at Paihia, which were destined for Maunsell at Port Waikato. (3) Unlike the printed Maori copy that Maunsell based his presentation of the 11th of April 1840 on, this big piece of paper, at least, had sufficient room at the bottom to receive the overflow of signatures that wouldn’t fit on the printed Maori sheet. On the day, after the first five chiefs had signed the printed Maori copy, the next thirty-two signatures overflowed onto this one.

Maunsell’s naïve and innocent use of this piece of discarded paper as a repository for overflow signatures was, 135-years later, exploited by activists and social-engineers to destroy the treaty. One can easily see that Maunsell conducted his meeting correctly, but that a miscellaneous piece of paper was pressed into service when the official-text document had no further room to accommodate signatures.

The signatures of the chiefs were volunteered in good faith, in response to what they had heard and understood, which was Te Tiriti O Waitangi text in Maori. The true, accompanying Maori document, containing the pertinent contract wording presented by Maunsell, was on the table and was in the process of being signed. It would have continued to receive all the signatures of all the chiefs had there been space available. When there was no more room to accommodate additional signatures, the overflow signatures spilled over onto the second sheet, the content of which was irrelevant, inasmuch as it was in a foreign tongue and had never been presented. It was just a piece of paper, pressed into service and acting as a physical extension to the Printed Maori Tiriti O Waitangi sheet. Hobson had stated that there was only one de facto treaty and that it was a text in the Maori language.

Most assuredly, Robert Maunsell stood before the 1500 Maori, gathered in to Port Waikato on the 11th of April 1840, and read them the correct, singularly Maori text, lifted directly from the official C.M.S. Mission printed sheet in his possession, which he later signed. The assembled Maori at Waikato Heads heard exactly what every other assembly heard, which was the standard Maori text for consideration and discussion. The same holds true for all three Treaty assemblies conducted at Manukau by Symonds, the last one of which involved the usage of Maunsell’s “make-do” treaty documents.



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elocal Digital Edition – October 2023 (#270)

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