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How the Treaty of Waitangi was Reinvented After 1975

By: Martin Doutré part 4 of five




THIS IS THE ONLY TREATY DOCUMENT EVER ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR USE IN THE TREATY PRESENTATION AND SIGNING ASSEMBLIES AT MANUKAU, PORT WAIKATO AND KAWHIA. NOTE: IT IS IN THE MAORI LANGUAGE!


The foregoing is the ONLY official treaty document (handwritten by James Stuart Freeman in Maori) ever issued by the colonial government for use in the signing ceremonies at Manukau, Waikato Heads and Kawhia. These regions and districts, nominated for treaty discussion and signing gatherings before the chiefs, constituted the mission of Captain William Cornwallis Symonds, Government appointee for treaty negotiations and Deputy-Surveyor of New Zealand. W.C. Symonds’ assignment, issued by Acting Lieutenant Governor, Willoughby Shortland, was to go first to Manukau and receive signatures from the chiefs there with the assistance of Missionary James Hamlin of the C.M.S. Station. He was next to go to Waikato Heads and conduct a treaty meeting, with the assistance of Reverend Robert Maunsell and Benjamin Yate Ashwell. After completion of work at and around the Waikato Heads district, Symonds was to carry this official document, bearing all signatures gathered en route, to Reverend John Whiteley and his assistant, James Wallis and conduct a series of meetings there, as well as, further south in Taranaki.

Maunsell wrote to Hobson: ‘and I have already forwarded on to Messrs Wallis and Whiteley the document left with me by Captain Symonds in order that they may obtain as many more names as they deem expedient’ (see Robert Maunsell LL.D. A New Zealand Pioneer, His life and Times, by Henry E.R.L Wily, 1938, pp 68-69).

At all three meetings at Manukau the chiefs heard each presentation in their native tongue.

Maunsell was known to be amongst the most accomplished Maori speakers, to be found in the ranks of the missionaries in New Zealand. At the time of this meeting at Port Waikato he was engaged in translating the Old Testament of the Bible into Maori. Earlier, in order to learn the language, he would sit in discussion circles with Maori and have long conversations on general topics. After becoming very fluent he made an offer: If anyone in the circle heard him use a word in error or out of context, then they would receive a wad of tobacco, once they’d proven he was, in fact, incorrect in his use or understanding of a word. Maunsell, apparently, went through a lot of tobacco but, in the end, graduated to becoming a formidable linguist in Maori.

Historian Ruth Ross wrote in 1972:

‘James Edward FitzGerald remarked in a debate on the Treaty of Waitangi in the House of Representatives in 1865: ‘if this document was signed in the Maori tongue, whatever the English translation might be had nothing to do with the question.’ He went on to point out: ‘Governor Hobson might have wished the Maoris to sign one thing, and they might have signed something totally different. Were they bound by what they signed or by what Captain Hobson meant them to sign?’

In a fair and just New Zealand, where no-one was vying for advantage over anyone else, the circumstances of what happened at Port Waikato on the 11th of April or at Manukau on the 26th of April 1840, wouldn’t warrant serious comment in any legal sense. It’s crystal clear what happened and the minor glitch of an unauthorised document being pressed into service to accommodate overflow signatures cannot possibly render the Maori Tiriti O Waitangi text null and void as we’re led to believe. The logic that the grievance industry advocates bludgeon us into accepting without question is that the signatures of over 500 chiefs, affixed to Maori language treaty documents, were eclipsed and made worthless when Maunsell innovated, without government sanction, to have a “make-do” treaty document available for his meeting... despite the fact that he presented the Maori Tiriti O Waitangi text to the chiefs, who then came forward to sign, solely on the basis of what they had just heard. Somehow, according to the logic we’re supposed to blindly accept, all European settler rights were immediately extinguished by Maunsell’s faux pas. Moreover the entire mission of Hobson, unbeknown to him as he recuperated miles away at the Bay of Islands, suddenly became an abject failure.

Instead of legally dismissing this minor procedural glitch with the shrug that it deserves, it’s allowed to be a bastion and rallying point for a pack of voracious hyenas, intent upon gorging themselves insatiably on a succulent carcass called New Zealand.

William Cornwallis Symonds, continued:

The official document, brought by W.C. Symonds, which had arrived too late for Reverend Maunsell’s meeting, was forwarded on, by Maunsell, to Reverend John Whiteley, further to the south at Kawhia. To see this official document that Maunsell was, technically, supposed to use, we need only view Reverend Whiteley’s document to which the last signature was added on September 3rd 1840. Captain W.C. Symonds started heading south in an attempt to add more signatures to Maunsell’s make-do treaty documents (composed of a C.M.S. Mission printed Maori treaty sheet and the other defective English sheet with sufficient space available to accommodate signatures). He had missed attending Maunsell’s very successful meeting at Waikato Heads, for which he’d brought the official document. That document had been left with Maunsell for direct despatch, by messenger, to Reverend Whiteley at the Kawhia Mission Station. Symonds, it would seem, was going to take a circuitous route to acquire yet more signatures in the district, then meet up with Reverend Whiteley later and take all signatures acquired, on all 3 documents, back to Government House in Russell. For his own signature gathering incentive, before meeting up with Reverend Whiteley at Kawhia, Symonds would, for the first time, use Maunsell’s make-do documents, bearing the signatures that Maunsell and Ashwell had acquired at Waikato Heads on April 11th 1840.

Shortly after leaving Reverend Maunsell, however, Symonds took time to look closely at the signatures that Maunsell had acquired, undoubtedly in an effort to plan his itinerary and movements. Upon examination he could see from the 5 signatures on the Maori copy and the 32 signatures overflowing onto the English sheet, that all the primary chiefs, except a few from Kawhia area, had already signed the treaty. Reverend John Whiteley and his assistant, James Wallis, could acquire these few missing signatures, without his participation. Symonds decided, therefore, to venture no further south, but to attempt, once more, to convince the chiefs at Manukau to add their signatures (some of which had been promised) and especially Paramount Chief, Te Wherowhero. William Symonds, consequently, sent a letter on to Reverend Whiteley, informing him that he was not now coming, and asking him to proceed in the signature gathering incentive without him. Maunsell had already despatched the official treaty document southward to Reverend Whiteley by messenger, expecting that all documents and letters would come together when Symonds finally reached the mission station there at Kawhia.

Unbeknown to Maunsell, when he wrote his report to Hobson, Symonds would later decide to return for a third try at getting signatures at Manukau and not go south to Kawhia as expected. Three earlier acquired Ngati Whatua signatures, from the second meeting at Manukau, were on the official document, now in the possession of Reverend John Whiteley in Kawhia. Symonds, without access to that document, would, as stated, use Maunsell’s unofficial make-do documents, bearing the many signatures that Reverend Robert Maunsell and his assistant, Benjamin Yate Ashwell had acquired at Waikato Heads on the 11th of April. This impressive list would, most assuredly, have some influence on the reluctant chiefs at Manukau. Maunsell, sent a letter with Symonds, addressed to Hobson, which said:

‘You will, I trust, receive with this [letter despatched with Symonds] the document lately forwarded to me to have the signatures of the principal men in Waikato attached to it. I am happy to inform you that the signatures obtained [on the alternative, make-do documents] comprise those of the leading men, except perhaps two. Those we hope soon to obtain, and I have already forwarded on to Messrs Wallis and Whiteley the document left with me by Captain Symonds [the one Maunsell was supposed to use...the official government issued document] in order that they may obtain as many more names as they deem expedient’. On May 12th, 1840, Captain W.C. Symonds reported: ‘On examination of the signatures obtained by Mr. Maunsell, I found that with the exception of very few, all the leading men of the country as far as Mokau had acknowledged the sovereignty of Her Majesty. The few belonged to the neighbourhood of Aotea and Kawhia, wherefore I determined proceeding myself no further, being well assured of the disposition on the part of the Wesleyan Mission to support the Government in every exertion in its power, and I sent a letter to the Rev. John Whiteley claiming his assistance in procuring the remaining names. I returned to Manukau on April 18, where I obtained the adherence of seven other chiefs to the Treaty. Te Whero-whero and several others have objected, though they manifest no ill-will to the Government (see Robert Maunsell LL.D. A New Zealand Pioneer, His life and Times, by Henry E.R.L Wily, 1938, pp 68-69).


He was next to go to Waikato Heads and conduct a treaty meeting, with the assistance of Reverend Robert Maunsell and Benjamin Yate Ashwell.



That document had been left with Maunsell for direct despatch, by messenger, to Reverend Whiteley at the Kawhia Mission Station.



Unbeknown to Maunsell, when he wrote his report to Hobson, Symonds would later decide to return for a third try at getting signatures at Manukau and not go south to Kawhia as expected.




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elocal Digital Edition – November 2023 (#271)

elocal Digital Edition
November 2023 (#271)


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