The PM stumbles over the treaty

Hobson’s Pledge Trust

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern?s apparent inability to say what articles one and two of the Treaty of Waitangi said serves as a timely reminder about the simple contents of the Treaty.

Through Article 1, the chiefs ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria. Article 2 confirmed that chiefs, tribes and the people of New Zealand owned what they owned although chiefs could sell what they wanted to an agent of the Queen if they so wished. Article 3 promised the Maori people of New Zealand protection and the rights of British subjects.

At the time, New Zealand was still part of New South Wales. It wasn?t until November 16, 1840, when the Letters Patent (commonly known as the Charter of 1840) was signed by the Queen, that New Zealand became an independent British colony.

Those who saw the Prime Minister?s embarrassing awkwardness would also have seen prompts by Labour MP Willie Jackson who said ?kawanatanga? for Article 1 and ?tino rangatiratanga? for Article 2.

These terms are relatively recent inventions that came about when a Waitangi Tribunal member named Sir Hugh Kawharu retranslated the Maori text in the 1980s according to what he thought that the chiefs may have understood in the 1840s.

The Treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori so the meaning and intent of the Treaty should plain to see for all English speakers.

National Archives holds a text known as the Busby February 4 draft, also known as the Littlewood treaty, which is identical to the Maori text, having just one word that is different in Article 3, when it specifies that the ?Maori people of New Zealand? were to be granted the rights of British subjects.

So how about the ornate ?Official English text? with its extra and different words? It?s a long story how that came to be regarded as such, although it is all explained here.