Waitangi Day 2019

Kia ora Aotearoa,

Yes, Waitangi Day 2019. On the face of it, it was a relatively peaceful day around the country compared to Waitangi Days of past. The government entrance onto the marae in Waitangi was peaceful.

A few heckles, a female protestor escorted away from proceedings, but nothing of the nature of past years such as throwing a T-shirt at Queen Elizabeth, mud thrown at Don Brash, fish thrown at John Key, a dildo thrown at Steven Joyce and Helen Clark being reduced to tears amongst the other actions of past protests.

There is not one thing that Māori have gained in their own country without protest or argument, not one thing.

Before the signing the Treaty, Pākeha Māori relationships were very good. Since the signing the relationship has been very bad.

The Waitangi Treaty is our founding document for New Zealand. Its purpose was to allow Victoria to govern her colonial settlers while they lived in Aotearoa and to share resources back to the queen, to have a partnership with the natives, while protecting native land and rights, as natives, to their own resources.

The argument that native Māori woke up one morning and suddenly decided to give away their sovereignty to another country and to a queen that they’d never heard of, has worn thin in this day and age. Especially so nowadays, when we all know that James Cook was under orders to look for land to harness for Mother England, in order to extend her empire.

The results of this, as history shows, were the New Zealand land grab wars which only started immediately after the signing of the Treaty. However the land grab has never stopped. The records will say they ended in 1870 – history tells another story.

In recent times we’ve had Ngā Tama Toa in 1972 pitching their tent on parliament lawns, protesting against the colonial policies continuing to manage Māori language and race into extinction. Such as the Breast Suppression Feeding Policy forbidding Māori to breast feed their own children, only to wet nurse children of colonial settlers. The Language Suppression Policy forbidding Māori to speak their own language, and the eagerness to build prisons for Māori under the police policy of protecting the settlers and securing lands for them – this was printed on the walls of the Hastings Police Station 1886 now restored and able to be viewed in the Police Museum at Porirua.

In the early 1970’s Sid and Hana Jackson asked the government to recognise Māori as an official language.

Whina Cooper marched in 1975 from Panguru to Parliament to tell the government “not one more acre of Maori Land” to be surveyed, taken and sold.

The Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2004 gave rise to Peter Sharples leading a protest through the streets of Wellington and Tariana Turia crossing the floor leaving the Labour Party.

The Bastion Point protest in 1978, after the government sent in the militia and the police to throw Ngāti Whātua off the country’s most expensive real estate, took until 1987 to settle. And that was after they were burnt out of their pā along scenic driveway, Orakei in 1951 and forced to settle on Bastion Point. This, so Queen Elizabeth would not see the eyesore of local Māori and their marae, on her Auckland city tour. This action coined the name Boot Hill for Bastion Point, after Ngāti Whātua were booted up the hill out of sight and out of mind by the government.

The incident of Rua Kēnana being marched out of Tūhoe in 1917 was repeated again with Tame Iti in 2007 with the Tuhoe raids.

I myself have been restricted under the Pepper-Potting Policy in the late 70’s and early 80’s as to where I could live in Wellington suburbs when applying for flats. Only so many Māori were allowed to live in inner city suburbs so as not to have too many of the native kind under foot.

All of these policies give rise to the definition of the song by David Grace titled “The Treaty is a Fraud”.

In 1982 when Judge Joe Williams sang a song on Radio with Pictures with the band Aotearoa titled “Stand up for your Rights” I, along with producer Brent Hansen, were summoned to court by the Race Relations Office for broadcasting racist songs to the New Zealand public.

So what does all of this mean on Waitangi Day when we celebrate one nation, one people?  Thoughts go back to the fact that Māori have never gained any benefits, not one, without protest or argument.

Waitangi Day is the main platform where Māori can have a say, to protest, to argue for the true essence of the Treaty, for equal equity and the best chance of being heard by the government and have eye-to-eye contact with the Prime Minister.

When Pākeha New Zealanders realise that they too can make claims to the Treaty Office, to protect and make gains for our country, rather than just thinking it’s solely for Māori to utilise we will move forward and change the landscape for the better, together. Māori have put in claims to protect the waterways, why don’t Pākeha too?

Māori do not want Pākeha to leave. The Treaty of Waitangi is a document to share everything equally, not for anyone to hold sovereignty over the other. Besides, it’s hard for me to separate myself in two. As Whina Cooper said, “Race relations will be solved in the bedroom” and I am the result of just that.

All of this, and more, passes through the veins of Māori when Waitangi Day celebrations come around every year. And I can say this as a Pākeha as well – I would not exist if my ancestors did not leave Worth of Kent in the 1860’s to come to the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Na reira, mauriora kia tatau katoa.

Te Hira Henderson, Curator Taonga Māori, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 9 February 2019


Museum and library combine for display on Treaty journey

As Waitangi Day approaches, the museum team is pleased to have, what we’re pretty sure is, our first dedicated treaty display on show, located in the MTG Hawke’s Bay Octagon space, currently within the Napier Library. ‘Te Tiriti Ora: our living treaty’, is a joint effort between museum and library staff, with relevant books available for checking out placed alongside the four sections. These focus respectively on He Whakaputanga of 1835 (commonly known as the Declaration of Independence), Te Tiriti o Waitangi itself, local stories of the treaty here in Te Matau a Māui / Hawke’s Bay, and lastly a timeline of points from the Crown’s treaty journey from 1840 to today.

I’m grateful I’ve been able to work on this project, not least because it gave me the opportunity to finally address my lifelong ignorance on something fundamental to who I am as a Pākehā – and to all people living on these islands collectively called Aotearoa New Zealand. There’s always a sense of disbelief when I learn some crucial new piece of knowledge about the treaty, and wonder how on earth I got through 13 years of NZ public schooling without ever engaging with the topic!

It’s been surprising to find that the more I read and listen, the less complicated it all seems, despite the increasing volume of facts and interpretations of events. I’d long had the impression that the English-language Treaty of Waitangi was the primary document signed, with an accompanying reo Māori translation that caused issues due to errors of translation and linguistic ambiguities. I assumed that this had led Māori signatories to misunderstand the agreement and accidentally sign away their sovereignty: the right to determine their own destiny. Colonisation was therefore an unfortunate mishap in cross-cultural communication and the way forward is necessarily highly complex and fraught.

Gaining even a basic familiarity with the history was enough to clear that up, as of the nine separate sheets that were taken around the islands to gather signatures, only one was an English version, signed by 39 rangatira. The other eight sheets were copies of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in te reo Māori, with more than 500 signatures between them. Those signatories understood exactly what the document said, as Te Tiriti clearly lays out the agreement whereby the Queen of England is permitted to establish governorship on Māori land to bring the increasing numbers of Pākehā under their own culturally appropriate system of law and order. Benefits to the Crown included the right to trade in land with Māori landowners, and in return the Queen committed to extend to Māori all the rights of citizenship as the people of England. She acknowledged the absolute paramount authority (tino rangatiratanga) of Māori over their lands, villages, and all things treasured.

All of which seems quite logical and is easy to understand: Māori delegated the authority to keep Pākehā in check over to the newcomers’ own leader, in the form of a partnership that would enable both peoples to live on these islands in peace. Colonisation was and remains the Crown’s fundamental breach of the treaty, and therefore to actually achieve peace the way forward seems to me quite simple: the Crown must honour the treaty by enabling the restoration of tino rangatiratanga.

I look forward to being in the museum today, tomorrow and on Waitangi Day to talk treaty with anyone keen to hear a short introduction to the topic, ask questions, or share their own knowledge on our living treaty. Mauri ora!

  • Weaving Workshops, join celebrated weaver Karmen Thomson for a series of 45 minute weaving workshops at MTG. Today (Saturday 2 February), Sunday 3 February and Wednesday 6 February at 10-10.45am, 11-11.45am and 1-2pm each day. Free entry, all welcome, please register through Eventfinda.
  • Visit Te Tiriti Ora: our living treaty exhibition at MTG with Jess Mio, Curator of Art. Today (Saturday 2 February) and Sunday 3 February between 10am–2pm. And Waitangi Day (Wednesday 6 February) from 9.30am-12pm. Free entry, all welcome. Please meet in the Main Foyer, no need to register.
  • Curators Talk, join Social History Curator Gail Pope in the House of Webb Tuesday, 5 February at 11am, meet in MTG front foyer. Free event.
  • Twilight Art Class, held in the exhibition space, explore various mediums used by the Webb family throughout their journeys. This session focuses on landscapes. Tuesday, February 5, 6-8pm. $35 per class ($30 for friends of MTG). Please register to secure a place 06 835 7781.
  • Toi Āhua art installation opens this week. Free entry.
  • Behind the Scenes: Art Deco Collection. Monday 11 February 12-1pm. Explore fine examples of Art Deco design in the museum collections including fabulous frocks to inspire you for the Art Deco Festival. Free Public programme, all welcome. Spaces are limited, please register through Eventfinda or at the front desk in the main foyer at MTG.
  • The Art Deco Festival begins on the 13 February. For a list of events on at MTG, please visit our website (mtghawkesbay.com).


Jess Mio, Curator – Art, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 2 February 2019