'Te Tiriti o Waitangi' (The Treaty of Waitangi).

This page contains important information to help us learn more about the Treaty.

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 (178 years ago).

Before the 1830s, most of the people living in New Zealand were Maori. Some other people were coming from Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland). Some of these people worked here, they were catching seals and whales. Some of them also wanted to own land in New Zealand and have farms here.

By 1839 there were one hundred and twenty-five thousand (125,000) Maori people in New Zealand. There were also two thousand (2000) people from Britain living here.

The British Isles

There were some problems in New Zealand with the new people (settlers) living with Maori people:

  • some British people were doing things we would call “breaking the law” (but there were no proper laws or government then).
  • People from France were interested in coming to New Zealand and taking over the country. British people were starting to work alongside Maori. There was no guarantee the French would do the same.
  • Some people from England were trying to get land from Maori people but didn’t pay very much money for it.

So, Maori chiefs and some leaders from Britain decided it would be a good idea to create a treaty for British and Maori leaders to sign. This treaty would stop Maori people from losing their land unfairly and would mean British people would be allowed to keep coming to live in New Zealand. It would also mean the British people could make a government (leaders of the land) and make laws to protect the people of New Zealand.

On February 6th, 40 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. Captain William Hobson was the man sent by the Queen from Britain to organise the Treaty. He signed it too, along with lots of British people who were living in New Zealand.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed at Waitangi, which is near Paihia in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands

By the end of the year 1840, about five hundred (500) more chiefs had signed it too.

The Treaty had three important sections, that talked about these things:

  1. British leaders could rule over the country.
  2. Maori chiefs would still be in charge of the land they used and lived on.
  3. All citizens of New Zealand (people who belong to the country) would be protected by the laws of New Zealand.

Waitangi Beach and Harbour

View of Bay of Islands from Waitangi

Te Whare Rununga, Meeting House, Waitangi

Inside the Meeting House, Waitangi

Plaque at Waitangi

Treaty House at Waitangi

Waka at Waitangi
A painting of the signing of the Treaty