Proofs that Maori Ceded Sovereignty in Te Tiriti

Lord Normanby

"Instructions from the Secretary of State for War and Colonies, Lord Normanby, to Captain Hobson, recently appointed H.M. Consul at New Zealand, concerning his duty as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand as a part of the Colony of New South Wales, dated 14 August 1839."

The Queen, in common with Her Majesty's immediate Predecessor, disclaims for herself and for her Subjects, every pretention to seize on the Islands of New Zealand, or to govern them as part of the Dominion of Great Britain, unless the free and intelligent consent of the Natives, expressed according to their established usages, shall be first obtained. Believing however that their own welfare would, under the circumstances I have mentioned, be best promoted by the surrender to Her Majesty of a right now so precarious and little more than nominal and persuaded that the benefits of British protection, and of Laws administered by British Judges would far more than compensate for the sacrifice by the Natives of a National independance which they are no longer able to maintain, Her Majesty's Government have resolved to authorise you to treat with the Aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her Majesty's Sovereign authority over the whole or any parts of those Islands which they may be willing to place under Her Majesty's Dominion


Henry Williams

Highly regarded missionary to the Maoris and the man charged with explaining the treaty to Maori.

"That the Queen is desirous to establish a settled government, to prevent evil occurring to the natives and Europeans who are now residing in New Zealand without law.

That the Queen therefore proposes to the chiefs these following articles:

Firstly,- The chiefs shall surrender to the Queen for ever the Government of the country, for the preservation of order and peace.

Secondly, - The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes, and to each individual native, their full rights as chiefs, their rights of possession of their lands, and all their other property of every kind and degree.The chiefs wishing to sell any portion of their lands, shall give to the Queen the right of pre-emption of their lands.

Thirdly - That the Queen, in consideration of the above, will protect the natives of New Zealand, and will impart to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.

The instruction of Captain Hobson was, "not to allow any one to sign the treaty till he fully understood it;" to which instruction I did most strictly attend. I explained the treaty clause by clause at the signing of the same, and again to all the natives in this part of the island previously to the destruction of Kororareka, on March 11, 1845; I maintained the faith of the treaty and the integrity of the British Government, and that the word of Her Majesty was sacred, and could not be violated.

That the natives to whom I explained the treaty understood the nature of the same, there can be no doubt; ..."

The Speeches of the Chiefs

For an excellent summary that proves Maori knew that the Treaty meant ceding sovereignty

Read Dr. Lawrie Knight here

There was a vigourous debate about the wisdom of signing the treaty at Waitangi.  The discussions where underpinned by an understanding that Maori were awarding Governorship/ceding sovereignty in return for law, order and protection of land.

"O Governor! sit. I, Tamati Waka, say to thee, sit. Do not thou go away from us; remain for us—a father, a judge, a peacemaker. Yes, it is good, it is straight. Sit thou here; dwell in our midst. Remain; do not go away. Do not thou listen to what [the chiefs of] Ngapuhi say. Stay thou, our friend, our father, our Governor."

 "(Eruera Maehe Patuone) O Governor! Sit, stay—thou, and the missionaries, and the Word of God. Remain herewith us, to be a father for us, that the French have us not, that Pikopo, that bad man, have us not. Remain, Governor. Sit, stay, our friend."

"Rawiri, a chief of the Ngatitautahi Tribe, arose and said (first sentence in English), "Good morning, Mr. Governor! very good you! Our Governor, our Father! Stay here, O Governor! Sit, that we may be in peace. A good thing this for us—yes, for us, my friends, Native men. Stay, sit. Do thou remain, O Governor! to be a Governor for us."


Tamati Waka Nene

His headstone reads:

“Chief of Ngapuhi, the first to welcome the Queen’s Sovereignty in New Zealand.
A consistent supporter of the Pakeha.
This stone is erected by the Governor of the colony which for upwards of 31 years he faithfully upheld.
Sage in counsel, Renowed in war,
He died regretted by all the inhabitants of these islands at Russell
on the 4 August 1871″

(Can be viewed at the Russell Anglican Church)

Sir Apirana Ngata

" Let me acknowledge first that, in the whole world I doubt whether any native race has been so well treated by a European people as the Maori "(1)

(1) Adam Plover.  The Benefits of Colonisation. Tross Publishing. 2022

"Some have said that these confiscations were wrong and that they contravened the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Government placed in the hands of the Queen of England, the sovereignty and the authority to make laws. Some sections of the Maori people violated that authority. War arose from this and blood was spilled. The law came into operation and land was taken in payment. This it self is a Maori custom—revenge, plunder to avenge a wrong. It was their own chiefs who ceded that right to the Queen.

The confiscations cannot therefore be objected to in the light of the Treaty."

Sir Apirana Ngata.  The Treaty of Waitangi. An explanation pp 15-16