To many people, New Zealand is one of the most sought-after countries for many English folk to move to, either to emigrate, or retire.
Why? Because we think that the whole country and its massive natural resources belong to us. But why should we think that? What about the people that lived peacefully there since the beginning of the first century – the Maori peoples from Polynesia?
Too many times, we seem to think that this whole area of the Pacific was populated by tribes of fierce savages, who knew nothing of the ‘civilized’ world, and allegedly had no idea of commerce or interaction with other nations. For many such peoples, they became ‘fair game’ to the more ‘advanced’ civilizations of the west, such as Britain, France and Spain, who would go to any lengths to secure new additions to their overseas empires.
Even if there was a lack of commercial awareness in these conquered States, what gave anybody the right to take over and attempt to destroy, the local religions, belief, and traditions of these indigenous peoples? After all, if Britain had lost the Second World War, we would probably now all be using German as our first language, and there would have been no religious freedom of expression allowed. Would that have made us a better country? I doubt it. There would have been much dissent and undertones of revolt, and a feeling that we were robbed of our heritage.
The facts are that at the turn of the 19th Century, the Maori people had established a Bank (Te Whare Awaroa Mauri Trust Bank) and a newspaper (The Native Courier) in 1808. Hardly the activities to be expected from so-called ‘ignorant savages’.
In 1816 Te Wakaminenga O Nga Hapu formed a Maori Court with laws based on Tikanga Maori (in response to the lawless and unruly behaviour of visiting whalers, sealers and other foreigners) and enforced the laws accordingly. They further planned to unite the tribes operating on two levels by uniting the Ariki blood lines, and forming an army in a common defence policy against to ever-increasing immigration issues.
In the same year the authority of Maori Sovereignty was recognised and registered in the House of Westminster, England, as well as recognised by other nations such as America, France, Japan and Te Moananui A Kiwa. (United Pacific Nations)
The growth of settlers and whalers into New Zealand in the first quarter of the 19th Century had a devastating effect on the Maori people. Not only were they becoming outnumbered, but disease introduced from the settlers was causing massive numbers deaths from illnesses that in the Western world were just mild complaints.
A lot of settlers were carrying out illegal purchase of land in this time period, and introducing new types of crops, and new ways of fishing (especially whaling), and this activity caused a lot of friction between many of the Maori iwi (Tribes), leading to a whole series of brutal inter-tribal wars. To try and redress this situation, the Treaty of Waitangi was set up, which was also meant to establish the sovereignty of the Maori over New Zealand.
The Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, was an agreement signed in 1840 between representatives of the British Crown and Maori iwi (tribes). The Treaty came about because the British War and Colonial Office was determined to annex New Zealand. It believed the only legal way to do so was to initiate a treaty of cessation whereby Maori leaders would cede their sovereignty to Britain.
This was because the same Maori leaders had declared their independence in 1835. It is very interesting to note, that as the Agreement was signed, 500 Chiefs signed the Maori version, and only 49 signed the English version.
Support for the treaty was widespread right across the Maori people, spreading from the North then on to the South Island. The other interesting thing about this, is the fact that the Maori wanted to be totally loyal to the Crown, which is why, even now, over 160 years later, that with a republican movement being mooted in New Zealand, the most vociferous opponents to that movement is coming from the whole Maori people!
Sovereignty is a topic close to many people’s hearts. Nobody wants to particularly give up everything, unless they can see something coming back in return. Even in the UK today, many people are very concerned about the ‘creeping powers’ of the European Union, slowly one by one, removing UK Sovereignty over the legal system, fishing and agriculture, even usurping the UK’s own Parliament, and also eyeing up removal of the UK’s military independence, and also trying to control the monetary supply by pushing them towards the Euro Zone.
The Maori version of the Waitangi Treaty included the concept of their continuing sovereignty, but the English one didn’t, which is where the whole ‘Common Stealth’ has become a major cause of concern for the Maori people for nearly 200 years.
By 1840, the British Monarchy had ceased to have any real political power.
The newly crowned Queen Victoria was a constitutional monarch and the government of the day was led by the Whig party Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. In 1839 his Colonial Secretary the Marquess of Normanby sent Captain William Hobson to the Bay of Islands with detailed instructions on establishing New Zealand as a British colony.
On February 5, Hobson presented English and Maori versions of the Treaty to Maori. Following some discussion as to what the Treaty would do for Maori, it was signed by a gathering of Iwi leaders on February 6. It was then circulated more widely among other Maori leaders.
Since that time there has been considerable conflict and debate over what the Treaty promised Maori. The problems have been caused primarily by the differences between the English and Maori versions of the Treaty. The exact nature of the authority that Iwi ceded to the Crown is still an ongoing debate.
Towards the end of the 20th Century, a whole new era started to open up for Maori people who by now had fallen almost to the levels of a second-class race of peoples, suffering not just from wholesale robbing of their birthrights, but were suffering almost a form of racial apartheid, which needed redressing.
This was discussed and upheld by the United Nations in their Resolution on Indigenous Peoples and their Rights as late as 2007, totally underwritten by Australia and New Zealand.
In an attempt to restore the greatness of the Maori peoples, the first thing that had to be done was to try and reunite all of the iwi (tribes) again. To this end, an International Corporation, ‘TE MANA TINO RANGATIRA O TE MATUA KARANGA O TE HUIHUINGA PUTANOA CORPORATION SOLE’ was set up in 2003.
The Founder, His Excellency Chief Charles Hohepa, being empowered by a ‘Sovereign Mandate’ from the ‘Confederation of the Chiefs of the Tribes of Aotearoa (NZ)’ and ‘Te Matua Karanga O Te Huihuinga Puyanoa Trust, Auotearoa (NZ)’ has established a world-wide organization for and on behalf of the Maori people of Aotearoa (NZ) for the reinstatement of their ancient customary culture, values, and disciplines, and uplifting the Maori peoples in a modern society.
This is known as the Matua Karanga Foundation. ‘The Foundation’ extends to other peoples and nations, the hand of friendship in the pursuit and promotion of goodwill, peace and harmony.
The Foundation is committed to humanitarian relief of all peoples and nations, giving special regard to the indigenous first nation peoples of the world, recognizing the sovereignty of those nations and as such is committed to peaceful processes, encouraging mutual dialogue between all nations but on mutual respect and trust in the integrity of all mankind.
Considering the way in which first nation people have been treated in the past, this is a brilliant way to redress these early breaches of trust, and at the same time, encouraging a better world for all of us.