Vision for Waitangi
He Whenua Rangatira
Aotearoa New Zealand’s Most Significant Place
Understanding and Sharing our Past to Build our Future
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Executive Staff
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The Waitangi National Trust
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is part of an estate that comprises 506 hectares. The Waitangi National Trust was set up by Act of Parliament to administer the estate. It’s Deed of Trust, drawn up in 1932, set out the objectives for the Treaty Grounds. These included priority being given to the repair and restoration of the former Residency which, at Lord Bledisloe's request, was now renamed the Treaty House.
On the Trust’s first Board were:
- the donors, Lord and Lady Bledisloe as life members
- Vernon Reed
- the Prime Minister George Forbes
- Alfred Ransom, Minister in charge of the Scenery Preservation Act
- Sir Apirana Ngata, the Native Minister
- Kenneth Williams, a member of the Williams missionary family
- Riri Maihi Kawiti representing the families of Hone Heke, Maihi Kawiti, Tamati Waka Nene and Pomare
- the Maori King, Te Rata Mahuta
- Sir Robert Heaton Rhodes, representing the people of the South Island
- Sir Francis Dillon Bell, representing the family of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, founder of the New Zealand Company,
- Gordon Coates, a former Prime Minister.
The Board continues to be made up of descendants and representatives of people directly associated with this historic site. The incumbent Governor-General has the right to choose to be Patron of the Trust.
Trust Board Members
Mr Pita Paraone
Appointed by the Leader of the Opposition to represent the opposition in Parliament.
Sir Dr. Tumu Te Heuheu
A representative of the Māori people living in the North Island south of the city of Auckland.
Mr Dennis McBrearty
Deputy Chairman (2013)
A representative of the Pākeha people living in the Bay of Islands district.
Ms Kate Wilkinson
A representative of the people, Pākeha and Māori, living in the South Island.
Mr Stu Graham
A representative of the family of the late Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
Sir Don McKinnon
A person prominent in the life of the country as a statesman.
Mr Peeni Henare
A representative of the Māori people living in the North Auckland peninsula.
Mr Tutehounuku Korako
Appointed by the Prime Minister to represent the Government.
Ms Jane Fletcher
A member of the Archdeacon Henry Williams family.
Mr Mita Harris
A member of the family of Tamati Waka Nene.
Mr Wiremu Puriri
A member of the family of Hone Heke.
Mr Pita Tipene
A member of the family of Maihi Kawiti.
A member of the Pomare family.
A representative of the late James Busby.
As kaitiaki (guardians) the Waitangi National Trust Board takes reponsibility to:
- Maintain the Waitangi National Trust estate and its taonga as a place of belonging, a Turangawaewae, for all New Zealanders
- Oversee the sustainable development of the land and assets of the Trust through appropriate maintenance, conservation and management
- Preserve, protect and present taonga (treasures) in the Trust’s care
- Further understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi, its significance as the nation’s founding document and its continuing relevance to our life as a nation
- Develop and apply its own tikanga (culture) governing access to and use of the site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Whare Rūnanga (meeting house) and its marae, and Ngātokimatawhaorua, the ceremonial canoe
- Ensure the Waitangi National Trust estate is used appropriately to commemorate the first signing of the Treaty
The values that underpin our work
The Waitangi Trust Board, through its internal and external relationships, will support the two partners of the Treaty working together through interactions that are:
Honest operating through an understanding of good faith in all dealings
Responsive to stakeholders’ needs
Reliable by using sound process
Respectful of all cultures, acknowledging the two Treaty partners
Informative by providing information that is relevant and historically accurate
Constructive in providing a forum for positive debate about the Treaty
Ethical operating in accordance with established standards and current legislation
The Treaty Grounds Founding: the Bledisloe Gift
After the signing of the Treaty in 1840 the Treaty House remained the property of the Busby family. The house and surrounding estate was sold in 1882 by Agnes Busby, ten years after her husbands’ death. Over the years, the Waitangi estate gradually declined, becoming a typical piece of New Zealand marginal farmland. Only Māori, it seemed, remembered the significance of the place. In 1878 members of local tribes petitioned the government to help them set up a commemorative meeting house, but the government refused.
In the early 20th century, local MP and lawyer Vernon Reed took up the cause for greater appreciation of Waitangi as an important site for all New Zealanders. He had many knockbacks, but in 1932, when the Governor-General and his wife, Lord and Lady Bledisloe, were holidaying in the Bay of Islands Reed encouraged them to visit Waitangi and see this historic place for themselves. The Bledisloes were enchanted by the site and, convinced that New Zealanders should appreciate its significance, they arranged to buy the estate.
On 10 May 1932, following this visit, Lord Bledisloe informed the Prime Minister George Forbes by letter: ‘I desire formally, on behalf of Her Excellency and myself, to present, through you, to the nation, New Zealand's most historic spot “Waitangi” together with 1000 acres of land belonging to the estate of which it forms part and which we have recently purchased with this object.’
Lord Bledisloe formally gifted Waitangi to the nation at a hui attended by thousands on 6 February 1934 – the first ‘Waitangi Day’, New Zealand’s national day.
Te Whare Rūnanga: The cave of Maikuku, the guardian of the waters of Waitangi.
Ngātokimatawhaorua: Ceremonial War Canoe.
Hui: To gather, congregate, assemble, meet.