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Celebrating the 179th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi

Waitangi Treaty Grounds welcomed tens of thousands of people to celebrate New Zealand/Aotearoa’s founding document, signed here on the 6th February 1840.

Written and translated in less than a week, debated and signed over one historic day in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi/ Te Tiriti o Waitangi has been the subject of much debate over the years. In the 1830’s the British government came under increasing pressure to curb lawlessness in New Zealand, to protect British traders, and to forestall the French, who also had imperial ambitions. The missionaries for their part, wanted to protect Māori from the ill-effects of European settlement.Under the treaty, Māori ceded powers of government to Britain in return for the rights of British subjects and guaranteed possession of their lands and other ‘treasures’.

Over 500 Māori chiefs signed the Māori version, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, with only 39 signing the English version. In later years, differences of interpretation between the English and Māori texts complicated efforts to redress breaches of the treaty. The Waitangi Tribunal, established in 1975, has settled a number of these breaches and continues to do so.